Thanksgiving Thoughts on Food

I am so excited to be hosting my first Thanksgiving at home! I love cooking, but I especially love putting together fancy meals and feasts like Thanksgiving dinner.  As much as I try to tell myself that food is fuel, it isn’t as simple as that.  There is definitely a Food=Love philosophy that is ingrained in my upbringing.

In addition to enjoying the food itself, there is so much sensory joy that comes from the preparation.  Feeling the textures of crinkly kale, smelling herbs and spices as you measure and chop, listening to the sizzle of oil, and planning out your preparation so that everything is done at once.

Then there is the joy that comes from cooking for others.  Much like knitting a prayer shawl, where the maker prays intentionally while knitting the fabric, cooking for friends and family makes me take extra care with my recipe as I think about the health and enjoyment that my food will bring them.   Preparing and sharing a meal with special people is one of my favorite things to do. Few things bring me more happiness than savoring a good meal while savoring the company of loved ones.

This is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  The focus is on the people you love, sitting and sharing a meal together.  Such a simple thing, but a such a huge blessing.  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

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Just a Year Ago

I went jogging around the lake with Bryce when I got home from work today.  It was a gorgeous fall day with a chill in the air and a bright blue sky.

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I loaded him up in the stroller with a snack cup of cheerios while he said “Yaaaay!!!”  and “Brrrrroooom Brrrroooom.”  As we ran down the path, he said “Runrunrun!  Runrunrun!”  going fast down the hills,  and “Da     Da    Da     Da”  (trip trap trip trap) as we crossed the wooden bridges.  He barked at all the dogs we saw, echoed the calls of the blue jays and crows, and greeted everyone on the path with a bright and cheery “Hi!”   I felt energized and strong as we sped down the path, and I had a sudden flashback to last year at this time:

I was exhausted from waking up to nurse 2-4 times a night.

It was painful to run because my hips were still out of whack from being pregnant.

Bryce was so small he could barely sit up in the stroller yet.

I would walk around the lake with Bryce in the Boba carrier on my chest, and he would usually fall asleep.  I would rub his back, play with his toes, and smell his soft little head as we plodded around the lake.  Every time we got to the steep hill by the dam, I would take a DEEEEEEEEP breath in, reminding myself that even though I was still carrying a baby around, at least I had my full lung capacity back!

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What a difference a year makes!  My body finally remembers how great it feels to run (even with a gigantic stroller!)  My sweet, chubby, sleepy baby is now a sweet little boy who looks with wonder at the world around him (and squawks in protest as we run by the playground without stopping.)   The days are long, but the years are short…

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Pumpkin Weekend

DJ, Bryce and I had our first “Family Togetherness Activity Outing” this weekend!  Columbia has loads of amazing activities for families to do year round, but we haven’t taken advantage of them yet.  Last year, when Bryce would have spent the whole time sleeping in the stroller, going to carnivals, petting zoos, or children’s shows didn’t seem worth the effort.   This year, he’s ready!

We went to Larriland Farm, about 30 minutes from our house, where they have pick-your-own-fruit orchards, hayrides, a haunted barn, a straw maze, and a pumpkin patch.  We didn’t get to do everything;  we opted for the hayride, and the pumpkin patch.   When Bryce is older, I can totally see making a day out of the activities.   He LOVED seeing a tractor in real life, riding in the wagon, and exploring all the pumpkins.  It was a really fun day, and hopefully the first in many family fun outings!

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At the farm entrance.

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He had a good time on the hayride, I swear!

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Perfect Fall Pizza

Oh.  My.  God.  I just made the best pizza EVER.   I wasn’t planning on writing about this recipe, but as the husband and I devoured the pie while porno-moaning about how delicious it was, I had the presence of mind to snap a picture before it was completely gone.

Grilled Pizza with Butternut Parmesan Sauce, Caramelized Red Onion, Bacon, and Mozzarella.

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I’m not a huge fan of bacon.  You can keep your greasy strips of salty fat, I don’t care if pop culture has deified it.  BUT, in certain circumstances, I do agree that bacon can be effectively used  as a condiment.  This is one of those circumstances.

The flavor profile of this pizza is just incredible.  You have the crispy salty bacon, the mild creamy mozzarella, the sweetness of the squash and red onions, and the smokey flavor from the grilled crust.  PLUS it took less than 15 minutes to make.  Definitely a perfect Friday dinner.

Ever since I decided that Friday was pizza night, I’ve been scouring Pinterest looking for some interesting combinations to try.  This was adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe (flavor combo) and a SkinnyTaste recipe (the sauce.)  PLEASE do this on the grill!  Grilling pizza is the secret to never ordering takeout again.  When you’ve tried it, every other pizza in the world will suddenly become substandard.   We actually bought our propane grill for the sole purpose of grilling pizza after trying it at a friend’s dinner party.  Your life will never be the same, I promise!  A helpful post on how to grill pizza can be found here if you are new to the technique.

Grilled Pizza with Parmesan Butternut Parmesan Sauce, Carmelized Red Onion, Bacon, and Mozzarella.

Ingredients:

Sauce:

1 12oz package of frozen butternut squash puree

2 tsp minced garlic

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:

1/2 red onion, chopped

olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

4 strips bacon, cooked and chopped.

10 mini balls of Fresh mozzarella, cut in half

Crust: 

1 ball of fresh pizza dough, enough for a 14” pizza (I used Trader Joe’s plain dough)

Olive oil for brushing

Directions:

Defrost squash in microwave, stir in garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper.  If your squash came in cubes instead of pureed, give it a whirl in the blender or mash it with a fork.

Meanwhile, sautee onion in olive oil over medium heat until soft.  Sprinkle the onion with salt right when you put it in the pan to help it soften.

While you’ve got your onion and squash going, start to heat up the grill.  Then, roll out your pizza dough, brush with olive oil, and place oil side down on the hot grill.  Close the lid and wait about 5 minutes (perfect time to finish up prepping the toppings!)  When the edges are done and it’s starting to look a little cooked on the top, flip the crust over.  Immediately spread with butternut sauce, top with onion, bacon, and fresh mozzarella.  Close the lid for about 2 minutes, then remove from grill.

Enjoy!