Holiday / Recipes

Stocking Up

making a list, checking it twice

Today marks the start of Thanksgiving week. This year, on our first wedded Thanksgiving, Daniel and I are hosting his parents. We are so excited about their first visit to our (rental) home in Arizona!

My biggest contribution to Thanksgiving meals in the past has been finishing off the left-over green beans and pumpkin bread. This is going to be quite an undertaking! I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t at least a little apprehensive – so many moving parts to come together on Thursday. Riddle me this: Why, on the day which more food is prepared than any other day of the year, do people insist on eating at 4pm?? I’m thinking I need until at least 8pm to get it all done. Since I might be banned from all future holiday hosting if that happens, I’m starting my prep reeealllly early.

Today was step one of the prep: shopping. We were able to get everything on our lengthy list except grapes, bananas, and rolls which we will get on Wednesday.

When we got home with the goods, Daniel set up a card table that we have been using as an office desk (I know, very sophisticated) in the kitchen so that I could have more space to get organized. We decided to spice things up by draping the table with … a curtain. Festive, huh? So far I’ve laid out all of the dry ingredients, pots, and utensils that I know I’ll need.

Prep Table

The piles from left to right will eventually be: 1) garlic & thyme purple mashed potatoes, 2) cranberry, apple, sausage stuffing, 3) secret recipe pumpkin bread, 4) green beans, and hidden at the back of the table behind door #2 are ingredients for an orange & brown sugar cranberry sauce. We’re also going to have a fruit salad, ham, and, of course, turkey. I am ambitiously planning to brine our turkey in apple cider, sage, parsley, thyme and about fifteen other ingredients. I will break it all down in more detail on Wednesday when I have start the brining process. As far as other make-ahead dishes, this is my strategy:

Monday = pumpkin bread
Tuesday = cranberry sauce
Wednesday = clean out (gew!) and brine turkey, prep stuffing
Thursday = green beans, potatoes, roast turkey, bake stuffing/stuffing my face

With the table organized and a game plan, I could’ve relaxed with Daniel to watch the Steelers play in their bumble bee uniforms. I decided to bake instead; I’m not much of a pastry chef, but something about the holidays brings out the dough-boy in me. Since I bought way too many cans of pumpkin (amateur mistake) I figured I better get creative!

health(ier) pumpkin muffins

My Thanksgiving menu is going to be full of flavor and naturally full of fat, so I wanted to do something a bit lighter until then. To that end, I looked up a couple recipes for pumpkin muffins and landed on Whole Wheat Oat Pumpkin Muffins from Spark Recipes. As usual, I modified it based on what I had on hand. Unfortunately, I didn’t have wheat flour OR oat flour. Instead, I used white flour and ground up some quick Quaker oats in the food processor to make oat flour. Also, in lieu of pumpkin pie spice, I used a combo of nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon.

The recipe ended up like this:

  • 1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2/3 cup 1% milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup Splenda baking blend (half sugar, half Splenda)
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger

Let’s pause and celebrate the fact that there is NO BUTTER or OIL in the recipe. In fact, there is no fat other than what tiny bit is in the canned pumpkin and 1% milk. One muffin is just 70 calories if you use wheat flour, and 80 if you use white flour like me. That’s pretty awesome!

Preheat oven to 425. Mix (I just used a fork) sugar, pumpkin, egg, milk, and vanilla in bowl. Sift together the remaining dry ingredients and blend into wet mixture. Spray 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray. Bake for 20 minutes. They popped right out of the pan for me.

Optional Icing:

In case you don’t like eating food with less than 100 calories, this icing will help you reach your calorie goals.

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar. Of course, I didn’t have any so I put 1 cup of Splenda baking blend in the food processor until it became powdery. It didn’t get as powdery as normal granulated sugar, but I think it turned out fine.
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Just mix with fork. Mine was pretty grainy – I think it would’ve been better if I had sifted the sugar before blending with the milk. Oh well, Daniel didn’t seem to mind!

what’s not to like?

The best part is that these muffins are so versatile – they make a great breakfast (without icing) or sweet dessert (with icing).

We had to go to two grocery stores today to get all of our ingredients. We knocked out the first trip after our workout, but we decided to come home to shower and eat (bad idea to shop hungry) before heading back out to accomplish the rest of our list. I’m just telling you this because I want end by showing you what I made for lunch, even though it’s totally unrelated to Thanksgiving.

colorful taco pizza!

thin and crispy taco heaven

Taco Pizza:

Mama Mary’s Thin and Crispy Crust (brushed with oil)
Refried beans
Taco sauce
Shredded mexican-style cheese
Left-over ground beef
Fat-free feta
Romaine lettuce strips

Preheat oven to 450. Layer on all ingredients, reduce temp to 400 and bake for 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and top with more romaine strips, crushed tortilla chips, fresh squeezed lime juice and more taco sauce.

Ok that’s enough for tonight. Good luck with your Thanksgiving preparations – I’d love to hear from you!

What’s on your Turkey-day menu?
Any Thanksgiving traditions?

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