Monday, November 19, 2012

Friendsgiving: Recipes, Crafts, and More

This past weekend Jason and I hosted "Friendsgiving" at our place.  We invited a bunch of friends over, asked everyone to bring a side, and Jason and I cooked the turkey.  We had such a blast.  I'm pretty sure friends, food, and {controlled} fire is pretty much the recipe for a great evening.

I picked up a smoked and glazed ham from Central Market, and roasted my very first turkey.  And not to brag, but that turkey was pretty delicious.  I spatchcocked the turkey using this tutorial from Serious Eats.  Spatchcocking {I won't judge you if that makes you giggle} basically boils down to removing the backbone from the turkey and cooking it flat.  The benefits?  The turkey cooks evenly so the dark meat comes to temp at the exact time as the breast meat.  You're almost guaranteed a perfectly moist turkey.  The turkey also cooks way faster.  My bird was finished in just around 70 minutes, as opposed to 4 hours. And in case you're wondering, I dry brined the turkey for a little less than 48 hours to help ensure some tasty, crispy skin.

I also made this stuffing, which may have been the most delicious stuffing ever.  I substituted the bread for cornbread, because I'm from Texas and we eat cornbread stuffing.

That's all the pictures I have of the food, because I was too busy stuffing my face to take pictures.

A because it's not a party without some decorations, here's are snippets of things I created for the party. I have all the pdfs of the downloadable type things, if anyone is interested, I'd be more than happy to send you the documents.  Honestly, I'd just post them, but I can't remember how to load pdfs and I don't really have the time to figure it out.

Demonstrating my new calligraphy skills.  I'm not a pro yet, but I do like it.  After penning the phrase, I scanned it into Photoshop, cleaned it up, and prepared it for printing.

I made the signs in Photoshop.  I printed them on burlap using the freezer paper transfer process.  Adorable and seriously were super easy.

For the table centerpieces I used my trustee mason jars that I filled with acorns and a pumpkin spice candle.  One word of advice about using acorns, they need to baked for around 2 hours at 175 to kill anything that may be living inside.  I wrapped the jars in burlap and tied a raffia bow around the center.

 I decorated the rest of the table using various foliage I found around my yard.  Other than the gourds and the candles, I didn't pay a single cent for any of the decorations.

I think I may have found a new tradition.  :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Weekday Meals: Fennel Fish Stew

Autumn weather has finally made an extended appearance in Texas.  The temperatures are out of the high 80's and into the mid 60's and the leaves are changing colors and beginning to fall.  Autumn really is one of my favorite seasons.  It's a season tailor made for cozy nights inside and food that warms both body and mind.    Cheesy yes, but oh so true.

I made this soup a couple nights ago and it's perfect for any chilly night.  This stew works because the fennel's slightly anise flavor is a perfect backdrop to both the tomatoes and the fish.  The lemon keeps everything bright and the red pepper flakes add just enough spice to round the dish out.

And like any good soup, you should serve with a crusty and warm piece of bread.  

Fennel Fish Stew


  • 2 cans 28 oz whole tomatoes, juices reserved, tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped.  Reserve some of the fronds for garnishing.
  • 1-2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 2 lbs of tilapia or other mild white fish cut into 1 inch chunks.
  • Sprinkle red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1-3 Tbs olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon


  • Heat the olive oil in a large dutch over over medium heat.  Add the fennel, shallots, and garlic and sweat until they become soft and translucent.
  • Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes and crush by hand (if you didn't do this before).
  • Add the lemon zest, juice, and parsley.
  • Add the tilapia and cover.  Bring to a medium simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until the tilapia is cooked through and opaque.
  • Garnish with the reserved fronds and serve with the aforementioned bread.

And in other news, I'm hosting a "Friendsgiving" Potluck on Saturday, and I should have lots to share! Hope you're having a lovely week!