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Thanksgiving Menus x3 (Dinner, Leftovers, Brunch!) #WIAW


As I have said, probably ad nauseum at this point, Thanksgiving is truly one of my absolute favorite moments of the year. I am past the point that Christmas and birthdays are these big grandiose moments in life, and I’m also not terribly religious, though I respect the sentiments. So, in a way, I guess that you could say Thanksgiving has become my big “sacred” holiday: Every year, I dedicate it to family, health, and food.

I discussed the family aspect of it on Thursday and the health aspect (to an extent) on Monday, so now? We talk food!


Thanksgiving Menu 1 (Georgia)

Mom was in charge of getting supplies ahead of time, and though she got a few more “shortcut” options that I might have liked (pride and all that), everyone got everything they needed and wanted and it was delicious! So, for next year (or even later on this month!), if you want to see how to make a full Thanksgiving spread without breaking the bank or taking over your holiday. I prepped for a total of maybe two hours over both days? Pretty awesome.

Yesterday, I finished the very last of the turkey that I made in Georgia and brought home in my carry on. I am very, very, very obnoxiously proud of it. It was truly the best roasted turkey I have every had, with regards to moisture, true turkey flavor, and texture. And, I can hardly believe it myself, it was one of the easiest, healthiest food stuffs I may ever share with you.

Pretty she was not, but gorgeous she was to me.

Pretty she was not, but gorgeous she was to me.

Mom got us a 5 lb bird sans legs/wings from the most excellent people at Butterball, and 3 large drumsticks for my brother (neither she nor I care for dark meat, that’s all he wants, easy enough). I brined the bird in a salt/sugar/herb mixture for about 18 hours, patted it dry, and let it just chill out on the counter (it had been in the fridge) for about 30 minutes. Then I covered it in a smoked herby rub and put it in a giant soup pot, poured a 16 oz carton of low sodium organic chicken broth in the bottom with chopped onion, put the lid on, covered the pot with tin foil, and put it in a preheated 350 oven for about 2.5 hours, rotating periodically to make sure that it was evenly heated. The drumsticks got the dry and rub treatment plus a bit of olive oil, and they went into the oven for about 40 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet and were covered in foil.

Did I end up with a super crispy skin? Nope, but I wasn’t really after that–I was all focused on the meat itself. And WOW. It was amazing. I ate a half pound the first go round.

georgia thanksgiving spread suzlyfe

Other items included:

  • Simply Potatoes Mashed Potatoes
  • Stove Top Stuffing
  • Ocean Spray whole berry Cranberry Sauce
  • Steamed green beans, butternut squash, onions, and a fig-mustard sauce (created from homemade fig preserves, deli mustard, and white balsamic vinegar)
  • Roasted gold potatoes
  • Croissants
  • And gravy, but that didn’t make it to the table, and wasn’t very good either (luckily, I don’t have to take credit for that one, though I did manage to shatter the gravy boat. Oops).
  • And Zonin Prosecco (delicious)

We did a pretty good job, but there were still many leftovers to go around. We know what I claimed.

pie trio suzlyfe

For dessert, Mom decided that 3 pies would suffice for us. We didn’t even start on one of them! We decided that Mom would take that to a get together the next day as a whole, unnibbled at pie. But we did get at the apple and the pecan, and I followed mine up with French Vanilla ice cream, cranberry sauce, and pie crust crumbled over top.

pie filling sundae 1


Thanksgiving Menu 2 (Chicago)

aka how to make a real Thanksgiving meal from leftovers in 40 minutes.

Alex had only one request: that I make my enchiladas from last year. Yes, sir, and I brought back turkey just for the occasion. (Side note, I used 1 lb of turkey for the enchiladas and still had about 3/4 lb left).

I streamlined the process this year, too. This time around, I still used the same filling base, but rather than the corn salsa, I made a quick salsa of corn, onion, cranberry, and jalapeno, sauteed for a bit and then mixed with the turkey that I hand shredded. Otherwise, same process as last year! I made 2 for me sans the real cheese, but just as perfect.

turkey cranberry pumpkin enchiladas 2014 suzlyfe

Served them with steamed green beans (Alex’s request) and I made my jalapeno cheddar cornbread muffins and slightly sweet cornbread muffins (same as last year). A few beers before and red wine during, and just awesomeness throughout.

cornbread muffins 3 suzlyfe

Alex was so full he could only manage some yogurt covered pecans and chocolate covered almonds for dessert, but I went for pumpkin ice cream and Honey Bunches of Oats.

chicago thanksgiving dinner 2014 suzlyfe

I. Love. Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Menu 3 (Chicago, Brunch at NoMi Kitchen)

Because everyone needs Thanksgiving Brunch, right? And with a bourbon drink and then decaf and Baileys at 12:30 in the afternoon, right? That’s what I thought. For the details, check out my review of our meal on my work blog! Trust me, you want to see this.

I wasn’t planning on eating all of mine, but you know it is good when I hoover my entire plate (regardless of what my brain was telling me), moaning and groaning and saying oh, my…. I was actually drunk on food from the richness of the Wagyu! And that meal did give me a little bit of indigestion, but so worth it, even if I had the most hilarious dinner ever after it because I was still full 7 hours later.

In reference to my post yesterday, #balance #cedingcontrol

I hope that your past week was full of love, laughter, family, friends, food, and sharing warmth!

What is your favorite annual celebration?

Do you like roast turkey?

Packing Heat. Er... Turkey.

Packing Heat. Er… Turkey.

Have you ever had Wagyu beef? Did it live up to expectation? I have had Kobe before, and while it is delicious, it wasn’t this spectacular. And the roll was just insanity.

Want more foodie goodness? Check out my blogiversary giveaway, ending tomorrow night!

And don’t forget to start setting habits now to keep throughout the holidays and the year–get a kickstart with my Fitness Giveaway!

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