Archive | Fall

My Two Absolute Must Have Thanksgiving Side Dishes

It’s the final countdown!  Only 1 week until Thanksgiving! You know that “Final Countdown” song by Europe that’s in a Geico commercial right now, well that’s what’s playing in my head as we head towards Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Plus, my toddler loves when that commercial comes on so she can dance to it, and by dance I mean doing her one and only move that looks like Chris Kattan and Will Ferrel in A Night at the Roxbury.

I love traditions, and Thanksgiving is full of them.  From baking the night before to watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in the morning, and then all. the. football. I love how one day can bring back so many memories just because you do the same thing every year.  Although as we get older, have our own families, etc. traditions change.  A few years ago I wanted to make my own stuffing and sweet potatoes (don’t get me wrong, I love some Stove Top and marshmallow topped yams) and found the most amazing recipes.  Since then I declare those two side dishes are a new Thanksgiving tradition and make them every year.  My mouth is literally watering thinking about them!

Stuffing

This recipe is from the Food Network and originally made by Bobby Flay.  The flavors and amount of extra goodness in this stuffing is amazing.  It’s not just some bread and seasonings.  The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients

1 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing dish
1 large red onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 large egg, slightly beaten
4 cups stale country bread, cut into 1-inch dice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 to 2 cups warm chicken stock

Directions

Heat large saute pan over high heat. Add the sausage and cook until golden brown. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Add butter to the rendered fat in the pan, and then add the onions, celery and carrots and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove the mixture from the heat and fold in the sage. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and let cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

When the vegetable mixture has cooled slightly, add the sausage to the bowl. Add the egg and bread and mix to coat. Add the chicken stock until the mixture is moist. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Butter a large baking dish and scrape the mixture into the dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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If you are overwhelmed with how much cooking you have to do on Thanksgiving, there are a lot of parts of this recipe that you can make ahead to save time.  I always cut the bread up days in advance so it has plenty of time to get stale.  You can also do all parts of the recipe up until you add the egg and bread to the mixture and just let it hang out in your refrigerator until you’re ready to throw it all together.

Sweet Potato Casserole

If you like your side dishes to taste like dessert this recipe is for you.  It’s definitely on the sweet side, but it’s sooooooooo good.  You can indulge just one day, right?  I found it on Allrecipes.com, and it’s been made 2,000 times and has a 5 star review, you can’t go wrong with that.

Ingredients

4 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Put sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until tender; drain and mash.

In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9X13 inch baking dish.

In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour. Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse.  Stir in the pecans.  Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

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If you want to save a little time, I buy canned yams and just mash them up to get 4 cups of sweet potatoes, that’s also probably why this dish is always so sweet because the yams are canned in a syrup.  I also find that for the crumb topping 3 tablespoons of butter is a little too much.  I recommend using about half as much butter, but just be sure to mix the crumb topping ingredients really well so you don’t get little pools of butter on top of your dish.

You still have plenty of time to go to the grocery store and pick up everything you need to make these delicious side dishes for your Thanksgiving meal, and believe me, you’ll want to add them to your menu.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?  Is there a Thanksgiving food you can’t live without?

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Tablescape Tuesday: 5 Thanksgiving Place Settings

Happy Tuesday friends, and welcome back.  I needed yesterday to recover from all the birthday celebrating I did this past weekend; I had a great 30th birthday!  Check out how awesome my cake turned out on The Daily Hostesses Instagram, you’ll love it!

Today I want to get back into our Tablescape Tuesday series with some Thanksgiving inspiration, it’s been a while since I’ve done one. In the Tablescape Tuesday series, I show you options to dress up your tables. It could be your dining room table, coffee table, gift table, or buffet table. I think putting a little extra effort into how a table looks and is designed can make your guests’ experience so much better. Hopefully these five festive Thanksgiving place settings will get you excited to spruce up your Thanksgiving table, it is only about a week away!

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Just add a charger + a plate + a napkin + a little pumpkin + a name tag + silverware= super simple place setting.

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Just add a charger + plate + napkin + silverware tied with twine + name tag embellished with some washi tape + napkin + a sprig of rosemary = a fragrant place setting.

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Add a place mat + charger + plate + napkin + silverware tied with twine + washi tape embellished name tag + pot of succulents tied with a matching bow (this would make a great little Thanksgiving dinner favor) = a mossy green themed place setting.

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Add a place mat + kraft paper (throw away for easy clean up and write whatever you want directly on it) + plate + pot of succulents + rolled burlap flowers (how=to post to come) = rustic, easy to clean up place setting.

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Add burlap tablecloth + charger + plate + grocery store flowers + pine cones + pumpkins + pumpkin name card holder (just slice a small opening in the stem and stick the name card in there) = flower filled place setting.

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Taking just a few festive things and adding them together can really take your Thanksgiving dinner from sitting at a basic kids table to dining like an adult.  Although that doesn’t mean to overlook those kids tables.  Using some kraft paper and adding a few crayons could be super fun for the kiddos attending your Thanksgiving.

I hope you are ready to gear up for the biggest meal of the year.  Have you done all of your grocery shopping yet?   If not, don’t forget to grab a bunch of flowers from the grocery store and make a place setting like #5 above!

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Halloween Week Hell and A Free Printable

This week has been a rough one, with everything from cleaning vomit off of our car seat (multiple times!), missed doctor’s appointments, packing/preparing for a trip, then add Halloween on top of it, it’s just been difficult.  Funnily, the most difficult thing has been trying to find a Halloween themed shirt for my daughter.  You’d think that a week before Halloween there would still be pumpkins, candy corn, and goblins found everywhere, but that has not been the case.  I went to five different stores to try and find something, but all I could find were things that were either too big for her or too small or nothing at all!  It’s been frustrating, luckily, the trusty old Wal-Mart came through for me and I grabbed the last Halloween shirt that would fit her at about 9:30 p.m. the night before I needed it.

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I was surprised that stores are making it so difficult when the holidays roll around because if you’re not planning weeks, dare I say months, in advance, they will just get rid of what you’re actually looking for and move on to the next holiday.  In my attempts at finding a Halloween shirt, I of course could find a million Christmas things.  I get that Halloween is only a couple days away, but why can’t we just enjoy it then move on to the next holiday?

Because it’s been so frustrating being forced to fly through the holidays, I’ve reluctantly decided to get on board with what the stores are doing.  There’s no other option, really.  I created a simple Christmas gift planning printable for you.  Hopefully, if we both start using it we’ll be (somewhat) ahead of the stores and be able to get what we really need when we need it.  I always have a goal to get all the Christmas shopping done by the end of November, but it usually doesn’t work out that way.  Hopefully, with a little planning I can actually accomplish that goal this year.

Christmas Shopping List PhotoJust click on the image above to download your copy of the printable.  Print off as many as you need to plan for all the gifts you’ll be giving this holiday season.  Hopefully, it will help all of us stay ahead of the game and get what we need before the stores decide it’s time to start celebrating Valentine’s Day, gheesh!

Do you have everything you need for Halloween?  Frustrated with the rate stores rush us through the holidays?  Is your Christmas shopping done, or at least started?

I wish you all a Happy Halloween and may your child trick-or-treat for your favorite candy to steal from them!  I’m looking forward to our little hula girl getting to experience her first time trick-or-treating because she was too little last year.  Have a great weekend! Don’t forget to “fall” back into daylight savings time this weekend.

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2015 Fall Home Tour

How was your weekend?  I thoroughly enjoyed mine mostly because my husband had a four day weekend this weekend, but also because we did so many fall activities.  We went apple picking, picnicked, and picked out our pumpkins for the year (how do you like that alliteration?).  It was a lot of fun; it only could have been better if it weren’t 90+ degrees outside, but eventually fall temperatures will get here….maybe…..I’ll believe it when I feel it.

I hope you’re prepared for a lot of fall themed photos because today’s post is a Fall Home Tour.  So, go get a cup of hot apple cider, grab a cozy blanket and enjoy!

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Welcome to our front entry!  I think this set up just screams fall.  How funny is it that our door mat is the same one that was here when we first moved into this house five years ago?  You’d think that I would have replaced it with something that represents us a little better.  I’ve looked at door mats in the past, but just haven’t found one that I love, and at this point, if it isn’t broken don’t fix it.

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I purchased the mums at Lowe’s and got them in colors that would coordinate with our fall wreath on the front door.  Hopefully they last through the entire season.  I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you how passionately my husband feels about knowing the difference between hay and straw; and how quickly he corrects me if I mix the two up.  We are using a straw bale that our local pumpkin patch was selling, either will work for a set up like this.  As they say though, “hay is for horses,” because hay has nutritional value for horses to eat and straw is the stalk of various grains and has minimal nutritional value.  I guess you get passionate about these things when you grow up on a farm.

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This cute little wooden box was found during a Saturday morning garage sale session.  I knew I wanted an old box like this but didn’t have a specific idea for it and this fall set up is the perfect place to use it.  My husband sprayed it with a little Thompson’s water sealant to help keep it protected.  Don’t forget to spray the inside of the box too, to protect it from potential water damage when watering the flowers inside.

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Once you enter our house you are directly in the living/family room.  I’ve added small touches throughout the room to spread the feel of fall.

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I love these mercury glass pumpkins and gourds, which I think I found at Marshall’s a couple years ago.  They add a touch of fall with quite a bit of a shine factor.  DSC_0475

We don’t have a lot of wall space in our house, which is a catch-22, because I want to hang things up, but love all of the natural light we get from the numerous windows we have.  To create a gallery wall effect without an actual wall, I use this bookshelf.  By placing our photos and treasures up and down the shelf it’s like a vertical gallery wall.

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To bring fall to the bookshelf I used pine cones and a fall scented potpourri.  We are lucky in that our neighborhood has a ton of pine trees so we get free decor anytime we take a walk outside.  I used this tutorial to make all of our collected pine cones smell like cinnamon.

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I also used some fall decor on our sofa console table.  Disregard the baseball game on the TV and the amount of cords hanging down under the table.  Here is a great way to hide cords if you need to.  This table usually holds our remote controls and coasters for drinks, and the lamps add some much needed light in the evenings.

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In case you’re wondering Bowditch is a really motivating nautical book.

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To offset the height of these fall topiaries I propped one on top of some ceramic coasters to raise it up a bit.

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If you’ve been following the blog recently these dining room pictures will seem familiar.  Check out how to make that “fake” chalkboard here.  Again, I am using free pine cones as part of the table scape.  I love the neutral and gold themed fall table.  Using natural elements like the pumpkins and pine cones makes the whole thing feel a little more authentic than faux colored leaves or decor that is too seasonally specific.

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I even brought in some touches of fall in the kitchen, again using natural elements like pumpkins and apples.

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I love the look of these IKEA open shelves.  They not only look great, but provided us with some much needed storage.  Before we put them up this wall was bare, these shelves definitely better utilize the space.  I sporadically take everything off and dust them, but they actually don’t get too dirty.

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That’s a look around our house decked out for fall, thanks for stopping by and taking a look around.  I just love this time of year, don’t you?  Have you gotten your pumpkins picked out yet?  Not to freak you out, but since it’s fall that means that Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t too far away.  Is your heart beating faster just thinking about that?  Mine is, yikes!

I’ve linked up to the Pretty Preppy Party hosted by Life on Virginia Street, 11MagnoliaLane, Being Bianca, Less Than Perfect Life of Bliss, and Southern State of Mind to show off our pretty and preppy projects.  Be sure to take a look at all the awesome projects this month.

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Celebrating everyday!