Thursday, November 13, 2014

Day 13: Thanksgiving countdown; and a whole lot to be thankful for this year.

Thanksgiving is OUR holiday to host.

It's the one holiday that we have bi-coastal representation, with both Rob's uncle's family and my uncle from California at the table.

Thanksgiving last year was a little bittersweet. We had just lost my Grandmother Rita a few days before the holiday. 

Also, a few weeks earlier – unbeknownst to everyone at the table – Rob and I had just met our surrogate for the first time and were moving forward with medications and all that good stuff. I remember us hoping that maybe there would be one more, very small, special guest at our Thanksgiving table the following year.

For me, Thanksgiving prep started today. I've been gathering recipes over the last few weeks, but today I made my official grocery list with specific items for the recipes I'm going to "try out" next week before preparing them for Thanksgiving. The test run allows me to adjust ingredients and measurements, and to see if the recipes measure up to last year's.

A tradition we started for Thanksgiving was starting the meal off with a bowl of soup. Last year's soup was SO DELICIOUS (recipe below), I'm hard pressed to find another recipe that can top it.

I make a vegetable and stuffing. But the big finale is my famous pumpkin cheesecake.

There are about 3 things in the world that I bake well: Ina's blondie bars, our holiday cookies, and this cheesecake.

Last year's cheesecake…no cracks!

#tbt snapshot of Thanksgiving 2013:

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, I went to turn our oven on and it wouldn't ignite. 
I came home that afternoon to THIS. We were only hosting 15 people in 4 days…no biggie.

Thanksgiving morning, in the throes of cooking.

My two favorite things: Mr. KK and a cocktail.

Thankfully we fixed the oven, or we couldn't cook up these two gorgeous birds!

Another tradition we started is taking a family photo each Thanksgiving.
Looking forward to our first holiday photo with Mr. Max.

This year, we have so much for which to be thankful: our families gathered together, and – of course – the addition of Max to our family. 

Let the Thanksgiving prep begin!

Sausage and Lentil Soup Recipe

If there is any recipe you make from this blog, it should be this one. This soup is perfect on a cold night with a glass of red wine and hunk of crusty bread. Adapted from Rachael Ray's recipe.

Ingredients for the lentils:

1 cup dried lentils
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for the soup base:

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 potato, peeled (NOTE: I use a sweet potato)
2 carrots, peeled
1 onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 ribs celery
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves separated; leaves finely chopped and reserved for garnish
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves
salt and pepper
4 cups beef or chicken stock
1 pound sweet sausage (casings removed)


Grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese


In a medium size saucepan, place the lentils with the bay leaves, onion and salt. Cover with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil and cook until tender but with some bite, 20-22 minutes. Drain and discard the bay leaves and onion.
Meanwhile, in a medium size soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the EVOO, a few turns of the pan, over medium heat. Using a food processor, pulse the vegetables, parsley stems and rosemary leaves until chopped (NOTE: be careful not to puree them! keep them about 1/4 big); transfer to a pot. Season, cover and let ingredients sweat in the EVOO, 6-8 minutes. Add the stock and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes (NOTE: because I use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, it may take longer for them to be tender).
While the potatoes are cooking, heat a little EVOO in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until brown and crumbly, about 5-7 minutes. Drain the fat, then stir the sausage into the soup along with the cooked lentils.

Serve the soup in shallow bowls and top with the reserved parsley leaves and the Pecorino Romano cheese.

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