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  1. Friday, November 30

    More Epiphanie Love {Giveaway}

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    Back when I chose the Ginger Epiphanie bag as my camera/diaper bag, I thought I’d found perfection. And the Ginger was perfect…for a while. Until this summer, when I got a new Epiphanie bag. The Lyric. I LOVE my Lyric. Love. Love. Love. It’s such a great bag and I gush about it so much, my friend Katja went and bought the same exact bag. And now we’re twins at school pick-up. ‘Cause we’re cool like that.

    I love the pockets on the front…one for my phone, one for my keys!

    Oh, Epiphanie, how I love thee. Let me count the ways…I love having a stylish bag that also keeps my camera safe…I love having those camera-lens-divider-thingys because they also keep my purse junk organized…I love the high quality feel of the leather…I love all the cool colors…I could go on and on!

    Enough gushing.

    This giveaway is now closed.

    Let’s do a giveaway!

    One of you super duper lucky, randomly-selected commenters will get to choose your very own Epiphanie bag! Woohoo!

    Same drill as always. Leave a comment to enter. That’s it! If you feel like it, go ahead and tell us what your dream Epiphanie bag is. As much as I love Lyric, I think Charlotte has caught my eye. (Attention guys! They have a men’s line of bags now, too!) Comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Thursday, December 6. 

     

    Plenty of space for my stuff. And when I have my camera with me, the bag is tall enough that all the stuff still fits on top of the camera, in the same organized fashion. It works really well!

    Good luck with the giveaway! And big thanks to Epiphanie!

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  2. Wednesday, November 28

    Holy Long Recipe, Batman! (Confiture de Lait)

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    Remember a few years ago when I went to the Fancy Food Show with my lovely French, food-blogging friend Vanessa? And how she introduced me to confiture de lait, a.k.a. milk jam, a caramel sauce made from milk that is a specialty item from Normandy? And how my life was never the same because from that moment on I knew milk jam existed but had no way to actually buy it? You don’t remember? Well, trust me. It’s all true.

    You may be wondering even after my roundabout description above, what the heck is milk jam? It’s just that…a jam of sorts made from milk and sugar. It’s kind of like sophisticated sweetened condensed milk. And it’s heavenly.

    Since you can’t buy it in the States, I decided to make confiture de lait myself once. And I failed. Miserably. This past month, however, I felt like I needed to give it another try, maybe using a slower cooking technique. I followed this recipe for confiture de lait exactly because it looked like it would turn out very nicely. I had a day where I was going to be home all morning and doing a bunch of other cooking anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. If I started cooking the milk around 9 am, it would be done by the time I had to pick kids up at school at 2 pm. No problem. Easy peasy.

    Yeah, not so much.

    ELEVEN hours later I had a small pot of confiture de lait. Yes, you heard me. Eleven. I picked Anna up at school then rushed home to stir. I picked Cate up at school then rushed home to stir. I dropped the girls off at dance then rushed home to stir. I picked up the girls from dance then…you guessed it…rushed home to stir. It was bananas, people. Bananas.

    So, was it worth it? Nope. It wasn’t. My milk jam just wasn’t the same as the stuff from Normandy. Mine is still good, but just not the same. And, to top it all off, once I refrigerated the confiture de lait after it had cooled, I ended up with a giant, hard, sugary lump of milk jam in the center of the container. Only half of the batch ended up being useable. Quel horreur!

    It’s story-sharing time! Tell us about the most time- or work-intensive recipe you’ve ever made. And tell us if it was worth all that time, labor and love. And, if it was worth it, please share the recipe because it must be amazing!

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  3. Libby’s Giveaway Winner

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    Time to announce the lucky, randomly-selected winner for the Libby’s giveaway! Drumroll, please…dudududududu…

    Brandon, who said, “If it tastes as good as it looks, we are all in for a treat!”

    Congratulations, Brandon! I think we’ve made blog history…one of my very few and far between male commenters won a giveaway!

    Big thanks to Libby’s for a wonderful giveaway!

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  4. Sunday, November 25

    Week 305 Menu

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    I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Our weekend has been fun and sweet, filled with small moments like these that overwhelm me with gratitude.

    The kids have been pretty good the last few days and we’re not sick of them or the leftovers. It’s a miracle! I suppose we still have one more day of the weekend to get through. ;)

    MONDAY:
    - Turkey sandwiches with cranberry and cream cheese
    - Fruit and chips

    TUESDAY:
    - Turkey a la King
    - Rice and veggie

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Take out

    THURSDAY:
    - Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    - Nate and I are going to the Pac-12 Championship game. GO STANFORD!
    - Food at the stadium for us, pizza at home for the kids

    SATURDAY:
    - Chicken Piccata
    - Mashed Potatoes and veggie

    SUNDAY:
    - Spaghetti
    - Salad and bread

    Can’t wait to see your menus! Interested to see if you’re still swimming in leftovers or are ready to move on from Tom Turkey! Thank you, as always, for posting!

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  5. Tuesday, November 20

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Green Bean Casserole from Scratch

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    Today’s post might be a little controversial. Maybe even more controversial than the 2012 presidential election. I know. Are you ready?

    I don’t like green bean casserole. You know, the casserole that practically everyone else in America seems to LOVE except me. The casserole that graces many a Thanksgiving table every November. I appreciate that it is a staple and I love that other people love it. But, yeah. I’m just not that into it and always pass when it’s available.

    See. Controversy. I may as well just tell you who I voted for for president. That might actually cause less of a stir! So, I voted for…

    What, did you REALLY think I’d fess up about my secret ballot? Yeah right!

    Back to casserole. I decided to invite green bean casserole into my life this year. But I also decided I wanted it to be made completely from scratch. Fresh green beans and mushrooms, no canned soup, homemade onion rings. The task was daunting, but I have to tell you, I am SOOOOOO glad I tackled this challenge. Because the end result was unbelievably delicious. And I am NOT speaking in hyperbole here.

    Our friend Brandon, a renowned casserole hater, took a bite and said, “Where have you been all my life?”

    Is that enough of a build up for you? Are you ready to cast aside the canned soup and the store-bought french fried onions and throw a little blood, sweat and tears into your green bean casserole? Good. Here you go.

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Green Bean Casserole from Scratch
     
    Adapted from two recipes, one from Williams Sonoma the other from Cook’s Illustrated
    Author:
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Thanksgiving
    Cuisine: American
    Ingredients
    • 1½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2″-3″ pieces
    • 1 cup water and a large bowl of ice water
    • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
    • 3 tablespoon butter
    • 1 small onion or ½ regular-sized onion, chopped
    • ⅓ cup flour
    • 1½ cups chicken or veggie stock/broth
    • 1 cup cream
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 3 shallots, sliced very thin
    • ¼ cup flour
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. In a large skillet with a lid, heat 1 cup water to boiling over medium-high to high heat. Add green beans. Put on lid and cook for three minutes. Remove beens and place in ice water. Set beans aside.
    3. Pour water off of the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and melt butter. Add mushroom and cook for about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and cook an additional 5+ minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Sprinkle ⅓ cup flour over the mushrooms and onions and stir well, cooking for a minute or so. Slowly stir in the chicken broth. Slowly stir in the cream. Mix well. Add ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Stir well then mix in green beans. Transfer to 9×13 casserole dish and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes (you will put fried shallot rings on top for the last 5 minutes of baking…see below).
    4. While casserole is baking, heat ¼ cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix flour, ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp pepper in a medium to large bowl. Mix shallot rings in the flour, coating well. Use your hands to mix the shallots in the flour so you can break the rings up and get them coated really well. Transfer floured shallots with tongs to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are crisp and golden.
    5. Sprinkle fried shallots over the top of the casserole at the 25 minute baking point. Bake 5 more minutes. Serve hot!
    6. If you want to make this ahead of time, I would do everything except the fried shallot rings and put the casserole in the fridge BEFORE baking. Bake 5-10 minutes longer since the casserole will be going into the oven cold and make the fried shallot rings while the casserole is baking.

    green bean casserole from scratch by @janemaynard from thisweekfordinner.com

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  6. Monday, November 19

    {Thanksgiving Prep & Giveaway!} Beet and Carrot Salad

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    Thanksgiving is all about rich, comforting foods. That’s one of the things I love about the holiday. That said, sometimes it’s nice to get a fresh salad on the table or some veggies that haven’t been drenched in butter, sugar, or both! Today I have a quick and easy salad recipe for you that offers that element of freshness but still has the Thanksgiving comfort of autumnal, root vegetables.

    Two weeks ago I ate at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay for the first time. I ordered the clam chowder, of course! And it was amazing. Oh. Those. Clams. Anyway, my friend Mindy and I split a beet and carrot salad, to counteract the buttery, creamy soup we were going to be eating for dinner. The salad was great! The roasted carrots and beats were delicious served cold with fresh greens, creamy feta cheese and pistachios. The salad was tossed with a savory dressing, which balanced well with the sweetness of the vegetables.

    The very next day Libby’s asked if I would work with them to make a recipe using their canned sliced beets and sliced carrots. I responded with a big fat YES, knowing that I wanted to recreate the beet and carrot salad I had eaten the night before. The Thanksgiving salad stars were aligning! It’s a simple salad that’s full of flavor, and using Libby’s canned sliced carrots and sliced beets makes it quick and easy to throw together. Quick and easy are always welcome recipe attributes on Thanksgiving Day!

     

    Before we get to the salad, how about a giveaway? Okay? Okay!

     

    The randomly-selected winner of this giveaway will receive a KitchenAid 6-Qt. Slow Cooker along with an assortment of Libby’s fruits and vegetables, courtesy of Libby’s. For the record, this slow cooker is totally awesome. Four heat settings and all kinds of programming options? Totally jealous. Anyway, enough about me and my envy, here’s how you can enter!

     

    • Simply leave a comment to enter! If you’d like to share your favorite healthy Thanksgiving recipes in your comment, we’d love to hear your ideas, although it is not mandatory.
    • For additional entries you can “Like” Libby’s on Facebook and/or follow Libby’s on Twitter. Be sure to leave separate comments for each entry!
    • All comments must be added to this post by Midnight PT on Tuesday, November 27.
    Big thanks to Libby’s for an awesome giveaway! Good luck to all! And now for the salad!
    Beet and Carrot Salad
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Vegetable
    Ingredients
    • 1 5-ounce package mixed baby greens
    • 1 can Libby’s sliced carrots, drained
    • 1 can Libby’s sliced beets, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces
    • Shelled pistachios, amount to taste
    • Crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese, amount to taste
    • Your favorite savory oil and vinegar salad dressing (don’t use a sweet salad dressing)
    Instructions
    1. Mix everything together! Add salad dressing right before serving and toss.
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  7. Sunday, November 18

    Week 304 Menu

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    Good morning! Hope you’re having a better day than my 4-year-old Anna, who I am renaming Debby Downer. Except Debby Downer is too cute a name for what we’re dealing with here. The big question is, how do these kids still look so adorable, even when they are monsters? Here’s hoping for a better day than morning…I need it!

    I can’t believe Thanksgiving is here! I’m going to be cooking all week getting ready for our FEAST, so I am not planning anything fancy the other days.

    MONDAY:
    - Chicken tenders (from the freezer)
    - Veggie (carrots, probably)

    TUESDAY:
    - Paninis of some sort

    WEDNESDAY:
    - Lulu’s

    THURSDAY:
    - Happy Thanksgiving!
    - Be sure to click here and share your Thanksgiving menu!

    FRIDAY:
    - Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    - Leftovers

    SUNDAY:
    - Leftovers or waffles (depending on how many leftovers there are!)

    I know it may be a quiet week for menus, but please still share what you’ve got planned! And, yes, I’m asking you to do a little more this week…be sure to click through and post your Thanksgiving menu on the post from Friday! Thanks everyone!

    Oh, and stay tuned Monday and Tuesday for two more Thanksgiving recipes! I love this food-focused time of year! :)

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  8. Friday, November 16

    {Thanksgiving Prep} The Menu

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    It’s time to share our Thanksgiving menu plans!

    This year I am going with my Thanksgiving basics, the recipes we use year after year. No experimenting, nothing crazy. I want a super comforting Thanksgiving table! And I don’t even care that there’s not one fresh vegetable or salad to be seen!

    Here’s what I’m making on what days:

    • Monday: bake and smash the butternut squash (for rolls) and sweet potatoes (for souffle) (will freeze on monday, then defrost on wednesday, to prolong freshness)
    • Tuesday: Cranberry Slush base, Roux for the Gravy, Cut up bread for stuffing and let sit out for two days
    • Wednesday: Broccoli Casserole, Corn Souffle, Sweet Potato Souffle, All the Desserts (we are meeting with friends for dessert, so we’ll split the duties), Mashed Potatoes
    • Thursday: Turkey, Gravy, Rolls, Stuffing, Heat/Cook all the Side Dishes

    I am excited to see all of your menus, whether you’re going basic and traditional like I am or thinking outside the Thanksgiving box! If you have recipes or links to recipes, please share those, too!

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  9. Thursday, November 15

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Cranberry Orange Slush

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    Every year of my life I have had cranberry slush at Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition from my mom’s side of the family that we all faithfully stand by year after year, and with good reason. This stuff is delicious! Every year I put cranberry slush on my Thanksgiving menu, hoping some people reading will adopt it as one of their own holiday traditions. I think I’ve converted a few of you over the years!

    thanksgiving cranberry orange slush from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    Cranberry slush is a great drink to serve when entertaining for the holidays. Cranberry-flavored anything reminds me of the holidays, and this recipe can be easily scaled up to serve lots of people. This year I’ve added a twist to the recipe, creating cranberry orange slush. Orange is another one of those holiday flavors that I love, so I figured throwing it in with cranberry would be a good thing. I was right! The cranberry orange slush is just as good as the original, just less tart with a sweet and fresh hint of orange flavor. I sort of feel like I’m betraying Great-Grandma Blomquist a bit by changing things up, but I’m sure she would approve of this tasty concoction!

    Cranberry Orange Slush
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
    - 2 cans whole cranberry sauce
    - 4 cups orange juice
    - 2 1/4 cups cranberry juice
    - 2 1/4 cups ginger ale

    Run whole cranberry sauce through a colander (pictured here) or press through a fine sieve with a large spoon (pictured here) over a large bowl. Keep pressing until you just have skins left in the colander/sieve. Add the orange juice, mix well, then freeze until hardened (I always make this part of the slush at least a day or two before Thanksgiving). I freeze the juice in a flat, plastic container so it’s easy to break up later (this recipe fit in an 8 1/2 cup flat tupperware, pictured).

    When ready to serve, mash up the frozen juice in a large bowl. I break it up with a butter knife and then smash it with my pastry blender.  Add cranberry juice and ginger ale until it’s the consistency you like. I like to keep it on the slushier side and let it melt in the glasses, but feel free to add a bit more than the recipe calls for. Serve immediately! (Mixing the slush is the last thing I do before we sit down to the Thanksgiving table!)

    Makes about 12 servings.

    I used Tropicana’s Pure Premium orange juice, which is 100% pure Florida orange juice. I love that it is made with fresh oranges. It tastes mighty fine. In fact, I may have taken a few swigs straight from the bottle on occasion. I kind of can’t resist. Connect with the folks at Tropicana at Facebook.com/Tropicana.

     

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  10. Wednesday, November 14

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Caramel Apple Galette

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    For the last week, I’ve been brainstorming a way to make a caramel apple pie. In theory, it sounds delicious. But Nate and I both agreed that in practice it might not work the way we envision it. I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it would work and I’m just over thinking it! Regardless, all this caramel apple pie thinking inspired what I actually ended up making…a caramel apple galette! For some reason, in my brain the caramel just seemed to work better with a galette than in a pie.

    Yesterday I made this caramel apple galette and it came out great! Super yummy and I loved the caramel flavor paired with the apples (I know, big surprise). I also sprinkled a bit of coarse salt on top at the end. Salted caramel is always welcome in my world!

    I didn’t add the caramel until right after the galette came out of the oven. I wanted the caramel to be smooth and gooey, not burned or caramelized. This technique worked perfectly.

    I combined a few recipes and also simplified things by using a store-bought crust. Feel free to use your favorite homemade crust recipe if you like. For Thanksgiving cooking, I like to simplify wherever I can. In this case, a store-bought crust did the trick and tasted wonderful!

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Caramel Apple Galette
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert, Thanksgiving
    Ingredients
    • One 9-inch pie crust (homemade or store-bought from the refrigerated section at the store)
    • 3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced about ¼″ thick
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
    • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 3 pinches of salt
    • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (i.e. sugar in the raw) – you can use regular sugar if you need to
    • 1 egg, whisked with a bit of water
    • Caramel ingredients:
    • ½ cup of granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream, warm
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. Place sliced apples in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice. Add ⅓ cup granulated sugar, the cinnamon and salt and stir well.
    3. Lay rolled out 9-inch pie crust on cookie sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Make sure there aren’t any holes in the pie crust!
    4. Pile the applies in the middle, leaving about a 3 inches of crust around the edge. Fold edges of the dough up around the apples. Make sure not to break any holes in the dough and also make sure the dough wraps up and over the apples so there isn’t any leakage. Pour most of the sugary-lemon juice leftover in the apple bowl over the apples.
    5. Brush outside of crust edges with egg then sprinkle with coarse turbinado sugar. I sprinkled a bit of that sugar over the apples as well!
    6. Bake for about 40 minutes, until crust is dark brown. Remove from the oven and immediately pour caramel sauce (see directions below) over the apples, making sure to not spill over the edge of the galette. I poured most of the caramel from this recipe over the galette, with about ¼ cup or so left over.
    7. If desired, sprinkle galette with a bit of coarse salt.
    8. Caramel Instructions:
    9. While galette is baking, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat until it starts to brown, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. While the sugar and water are going at it, heat up the cream in a saucepan or microwave just until warm.
    10. Once sugar water is light brown, remove from the heat and add your room temperature butter. Whisk the butter in, being sure it’s totally combined. Add the warmed cream and whisk vigorously. (Watch out for steam when adding the butter and especially the cream.) Let sit until galette is done. Caramel should be pourable consistency.
    Notes
    A note on transferring to a serving platter:
    If you want to transfer the galette to a serving platter, as I’m sure you will, it is a 2 person, 3-4 spatula job. Four-year old Anna was my assistant with moving the galette and she did beautifully!

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