tasty nom nom an exception to the daily meal


Look, Bright Shinny Object

Hi J -

Merry Christmas! This has been a busy December for me. I planned on shipping a project in mid-December then coast through the holidaze at Old Job. However, New Boss at New Job had a different idea. So I found myself with only miscellaneous thoughts; no menu, no grocery list, and distinct lack of plan, two days before Christmas dinner.

N kicked off the evening with RedBreast, 12yr with some eggnog. Was this really the first time he tried eggnog? I think he liked it. A good start to the evening.

I am going to distract you from the too rare beef with some gremlota

The beef turned out too rare. Although I didn't kill anyone, the dish didn't win any fans. The kale slaw was pretty good. I tried to add some crunch with crumbled crouton bits, but it needed more.

all pretty before tossing

Was it painfully obvious my strategy on this meal was mitigation? Meat and two sides are new and untested  So in the event the beef didn't turn out,  have a different protein (eggs!). If you do not like vegetables, have some cheese to go with that (gratin!). And in case one vegetable side doesn't turn out, well try the other vegetable dish (Brussel Sprouts or Kale!).  Or was it distraction? burn your face off with fresh horseradish, or hey, look at the cute dishes!

Poor G, the combination of rare beef, soft boiled eggs, and kale almost put him over the edge. No matter, he drank his dinner. (booze!)

Does this qualify as vegetable?

cute dinnerware
nevermind what's on (or not) my plate

The Yorkshire pudding bombed. They burnt in the muffin tin and didn't puff. I have not had trouble with popovers, Dutch babies, or any of the poofy pancake like dishes. These were total fail.

But ... You rescued us with a sweet finish of Pecan Pie (and coffee pot).

mmm pie, and hi I see you Butter Cookies

The food was fine, but your company is awesome. Merry Christmas and best wishes to the New Year! And Happy anniversary to TNN.

-E, G, W & K

P.S. The sticky pecan rolls are from this recipe.

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Dinner, courtesy of grocery stores

Hi J -

Last week, I wanted a Saturday off and proposed we go out. Sadly, the evening out was a bit of let down, due to all sorts of reasons. So last weekend, I resolved to find a bit of energy to cobble a dinner together.

  • Oven roasted turkey breast
  • Gravy, with N's homemade broth
  • Boxed stuffing
  • Sauteed kale
  • Can of cranberry jelly

As G described it, it was a Grocery Store Dinner.

Grocery store dinner on college era plates
saved by your cranberries 🙂

I defrosted the frozen turkey breast in the fridge for a couple of days, then brine in chicken broth with aromatics for a few days. I took it out of the fridge to let it warm up, pat dry the skin, drizzled with a bit olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper. It went in the oven 450° F for about 20 minutes, then reduced the temperature to 350°F until internal temperature of 158°F . See how nicely that schedule works out for grocery shopping on the weekend before, prepare & brine during a weeknight, then cooking it the on the following Saturday. I make the boxed stuffing while the poultry rested.This simple turkey breast recipe is a stable for us and rarely fails me.

On the other hand, gravy ... I have never made gravy before. Gravy has always intimated me. Not sure if you noticed, but I quizzed N extensively on T-day, looking for tips and tricks.  I started with N's turducken broth, reduced the giant container by half,  1.5QT. Then melted 4TBP of butter and made a roux. It took a few minutes to darken, then I whisked in the broth slowly ... my heart skipped a few beats while whisking briskly to try to avoid lumps.

While I was intently whisking and cooking the roux, I was burning the kale in the other pan. But even the crispy kale couldn't take away the glory of canned cranberry jelly.


After dinner, with the coffee pot kaput, and one small backup french press, I downsized the coffee cups and rationed the coffee. Even with less coffee, we managed a game of Acquire and without too heated of arguments.

start of Acquire

Next up, Christmas ...

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Dinner of Excess

Hello E!

Thanksgiving is truly a meal of excess. With just the four of us, I tried to pare things back... but it was still quite excessive!

For starters, we had:

N found the recipe for the Son-In-Law eggs when he was researching the turducken and he traced it back to a Thai recipe. It was an interesting dish and I think he will make it again.

When it came to the protein portion of the meal, N did not want to make a boring old turkey. He wanted to make something much more complicated and interesting. He decided on a turducken. I expected the deboning portion of the process to be very difficult, but N got it done quickly and tidily. Impressive!

Assembling was a bit more difficult. Between each bird there was a layer of stuffing. Cornbread stuffing was inside the chicken, sage sausage stuffing in the duck and turkey. Metal skewers were used to hold the chicken inside the duck inside the turkey. Then it came time to wrap it all up.

1. before wrapping, 2. wrapping,
3. assembling, 4. assembling,
5. hillbilly ingenuity, 6. Turducken cooking... looks just like a regular turkey, hmmmm

The chicken fit snugly within the duck, but the duck just seemed too large for the turkey. It required some tugging and pulling and after fighting with it for a while N turned and asked me a question.

N, "do you have a needle that this kitchen twine will fit through?"

Like any good yarn crafter, I have a plethora of yarn needles. However, like many yarn crafters, I'm always misplacing my chibis. I dug through no fewer than five containers of knitting notions before I found a metal needle.

N used the needle to seam up the turkey with the duck and chicken inside. "Redneck ingenuity," he declared. It wasn't the prettiest stitchery, but it held everything inside without a problem!

As for the main course, we had:


  • turducken with two types of stuffing

  • mushroom gravy, N's recipe

  • leeks vinaigrette, I love leeks.

  • plain ol' steamed broccoli

  • chipotle scalloped sweet potatoes

  • mashed sweet potatoes

  • cranberries -- two types! spiced and plain ol'. I don't think anyone liked the spiced, not even over-spice-loving me. The plain cranberries is my mother's recipe, minus walnuts and with added cointreau.

  • buttermilk dinner rolls from The Bread Baker's Apprentice - I love this recipe, but my kitchen aid mixer gets sad mixing it for so long

Pumpkin pie and egg nog via you!

pumpkin pie
pumpkin pie

Egg nog in coffee not shown -- yum!

Of course after this, blood was busy helping digest the meal in our stomachs and not flowing to our brains. We needed a no-thought necessary game. I pulled out Bohnanza [bgg] thinking of this but we only made it through one round before the complaint rose, "I need something with less brain work!" So Uno to end the night it was! I can't complain, as I am the Uno champion.

I've been thinking about some meals for the new year and can't wait until we get there.

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