Sunday, November 30, 2014

Turkey Pot Pie + Celebrating Advent

Our home felt like it had the happiest of revolving doors this past week, with family coming to stay, sharing meals, laughing, drinking, playing games, watching parades and football and movies, just generally enjoying each other. We had a perfect turkey dinner, complete with 3 kinds of pie (pumpkin, chocolate, rhubarb). Anne made it clear that she likes whipped cream, hold the pie please.




I love Thanksgiving. But man, what comes after is something else. Pie for breakfast! Leftovers for days! A freezer full of amazing turkey stock! ADVENT!

Last year I started noticing that there are people who really, intentionally celebrate Advent. I have spent my whole life just diving in after Thanksgiving - getting the tree, putting up the lights, listening to nothing but Christmas music and watching nothing but Christmas movies. In the last couple of years, I realized that by the time Christmas rolled around, I was a little bit ready for it to be done. Last year I wasn't totally ready to commit, but I started making plans to really do Advent this year. Here's some of what we're doing to keep the red and green at bay until closer to the actual day. :-)


Advent candles! We're lighting them every night at dinner. We'll add some greens this weekend from our parish wreath sale.



Our beautiful nativity scene on the buffet in the dining room, and journeying Magi on the mantel. And the Advent calendar my mom gave us last year, filled with Hershey's candy cane kisses (or as Anne calls them, "pollypops"). We open a door each night after dinner.



And the most exciting part... the Jesse Tree! We've never done this tradition before, but I love the idea. Each day, there is a Scripture reading that illuminates part of salvation history, part of Jesus' family tree. And for each day, there is an ornament which is a symbol for the reading of that day - 25 ornaments for 25 days leading up to Jesus' birth. We're using Ann Voskamp's book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift to guide us through the stories - I love the beautiful illustrations!


Turkey Pot Pie

I've started making turkey pot pie after Thanksgiving every year - it's a great way to use up leftover turkey, and a little bit of sherry and cream in the sauce makes it extra-special.

Heidi Swanson's rye pie crust (my very favorite)


3 tablespoons butter
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/4-1/2 cup sherry
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 baking potato, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup (or more, if you like) shredded or chopped cooked turkey
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
splash of heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a large wide, shallow saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, and celery, and sauté until they begin to take on a little color and softness. Sprinkle the flour over the top, stir, and cook another minute or two, until the flour is evenly distributed. Deglaze the pan with the sherry, then add the chicken or turkey stock, potato, and peas, and bring to a simmer. The filling should be slightly thickened - not too runny or too thick. Add the turkey, thyme, cream, salt and pepper, and give it a taste. Allow to cool before pouring into the pie shell.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and roll out pie crust. Arrange crust in the pie plate, and pour in cooled filling. Cover with second piece of dough, decoratively crimp the edges, and make a few steam vents in the top with a sharp knife. Brush the top with an egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon of water), and bake until the crust is deeply golden and the filling bubbles, about 45-60 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Halloween Candy Cookies

Last week I broke down and hired some help. Her name is Elvia, and she's available to play with Anne for up to 3 hours every day so that I can do things like work out, shower, and get dressed without a small person clinging to and climbing on me.


At least that's what it feels like. What I really did was join a gym that has childcare.


Now, I'm not going to jump to crazy conclusions (who, me?) and say that this is life-changing, but you guys... this might be life-changing. Last week I swam laps while Anne played. Today, I spent a half hour on the elliptical machine, reading a book. This is my kind of multitasking! It's amazing to have a reason to get out of the house (especially since winter has settled in a few weeks early this year), and I have the energy and time to do the things I need to do (things like craft make cookies clean the house) when Anne goes down for her nap.

Did I mention this is all for $40 PER MONTH?! I'm so excited.


Changing gears: I realize that I'm late in sharing this recipe. But here I go anyway. Better late than never! I bought a Costco-sized bag of Halloween candy, hoping for some trick-or-treaters. We got none. I ate a little of it, and then decided I either had to get creative with it or throw it away (never!). So I unwrapped it, chopped it all into pieces, and folded it into cookie dough. It is exactly as amazing as it sounds.

P.S. The irony of a post about joining a gym combined with a recipe for ridiculously decadent cookies is not lost on me.


Halloween Candy Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4+ cups leftover Halloween candy, chopped up

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until well-combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix, scraping down the sides as needed. Dump in all the chopped up candy and fold in. Scoop onto cookie sheets and bake 10-12 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Chow down!