Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Friday... Worth It or Not?

NOT. Well, at least to Nate and I. Here's our Black Friday experience...

Best Buy was giving away a 42" LCD TV for $200 (steal, right?). Nate and I tag-teamed it with our friends, Kristi and Aaron, and got in line around 6:00 pm. Around 10:30 pm, they handed out "tickets" for their doorbuster items, but in a frenzy or unorganization and chaos, the tickets for the 42 inch-er didn't make it past 1/20th of the line, and therefore, we didn't get one. Still waiting in line hoping to get anything on sale after waiting for 6 hours, at 11:30 pm Nate and I decide to leave to check out Target and Walmart before they opened at midnight. We drove by two Targets, both of whiches lines ran all the way through the parking lot, when we realized that Walmart opened it's doors at 10:00 pm. Once inside, we were amazed at the craziness we found! You couldn't move a foot without bumping into someone, two fights broke out, and the police sent two people to jail after blood was spilled while waiting in line. Somehow, amazingly, we ended up getting a TV - 40" for $250 (not bad!). Nate "merged" into the line, if you could actually call it a line, and after waiting 30 minutes to get the TV and 30 minutes to check out (thank goodness for "15 Items or Less"), we left Black Friday at 1:15 a.m. VICTORY!

Even though we left with what we wanted, we decided it wasn't worth the time and hassle. What we truly realized, however, is that in the future we would never sacrifice time with our family or the blessing of celebrating Thanksgiving to stand in line for "stuff".

All that being said, what were your Black Friday experiences, good or bad?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes

This year was a milestone year for me... not only did I make my first turkey, but I also cooked my first pumpkin pie. Sure I've helped mom in the kitchen throughout the years, but for the first time, I made one by myself in my own kitchen. Surprisingly, both the turkey and the pie turned out great, so I thought I would share the recipes and cooking tips:

Turkey Cooking Tips:
  • Buy the turkey several days in advance to allow time to thaw in the refrigerator (Plan B (for people who don't think far enough ahead a.k.a. me) is to let the turkey sit submerged in room temperature water to allow it to thaw)
  • Tie the legs together with cooking string so the turkey looks nice and keeps its shape
  • Check your pan/ roasting rack and oven to make sure the turkey and pans fit in the oven properly (I found out the hard way that older and smaller ovens don't have room for 23 lb. turkeys)
  • Everything you read says plan on 2 lbs. per person, but really when buying a turkey, 1 lb. per person is plenty unless your guests haven't eaten in a week.
  1. Pull out the turkey neck, and bag of innards (usually this is already detached, you just need to remove it) 
  2. Place turkey on cooking tray or in roasting pan, breast side up.  
  3. Season turkey with butter, salt, pepper, rosemary, and sage (you can really add/substitute any spices you like and can also sub olive oil for butter. The secret is to separate the skin from the breast meat (this should be fairly easy) and rub the butter and dry seasoning mix directly on the meat. Also rub/ pour on the outside of the skin as well. Be sure to cover the whole turkey with seasoning - breasts, legs, wings, etc. For large turkeys, don't underestimate how much seasoning it takes to get a good flavor.
  4. Stuff the turkey - I didn't stuff the turkey with a stuffing; however, this is a great option. If you are not making stuffing, stuff the cavity with an apple, lemon, celery, and onion (whole and not sliced). This gives the turkey a slight citrus and richer flavor without being overpowering.
  5. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under the breast (technique called "akimbo") for more even cooking.
  6. Cover turkey with foil tent.
  7. Cook bird on 475 degrees for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 325 degrees for the remaining of the cook time. Usually you cook the bird 20-25 minutes per pound. Every hour or so, using a spoon or baster, pour the drippings from the pan on top of the turkey to keep it moist. Remove foil for last 15 minutes to brown top of turkey.
  8. Enjoy with some yummy green bean casserole, mashed and sweet potatoes, and all the other great holiday fixings and desserts!
Speaking of desserts... PUMPKIN PIE

Because I was trying to come up with a pumpkin pie recipe on Wednesday morning, I thought I would try to classic one on the back of a can of "Libby's Pumpkin" and it turned out great! Here's the recipe:


  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz) Libby pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie shell
  1. Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in bowl. In mixer, beat eggs, add pumpkin, and sugar mixture. Gradually add in evaporated milk. The mixture will be soupy and thin, but it will firm as it cooks.
  2. Pour into pie shell
  3. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn temperature down to 350 degrees and cook for 40-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely - serve with whipped cream
Happy Holidays and Happy Eating!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chili Weather

Recently I told Nate that I wanted us to start cooking together. It's something fun and interactive we can do together at home, instead of watching TV. Tuesday night, he started helping me make chili and discovered his inner creative chef! I was watching him throw all kinds of great spices into the mix, and at one time he even said, "I put a secret ingredient in there, let's see if you can tell what it is."

Of course, I can't tell you what the secret ingredient is, but I can tell you a few chili suggestions that make an amazing chili or frito pie...

3/4 lb. ground beef
1/4 lb. ground spicy pork
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1/2 can kidney beans (we prefer the "red" kind)
1/2 can black beans
*Here's the trick, instead of adding water like most recipes call for, add about 1/2 bottle of beer (I would use Shiner Bock or something heavier and non-light)

Viola! Great chili recipe, thanks Nate. Now that the weather is a litty "chili", throw in some Fritos and cheese and you're good to go!