Friday, November 25, 2016

An Ina Garten Thanksgiving

Since we spent this Thanksgiving just the four of us, I was not going to let the day pass without an attempt at making a (mostly) traditional spread. I've actually looked forward to hosting Thanksgiving for years-my house has just always been too small. So, this will be the dress rehearsal of hopefully future years in a home that has a table built for more than two!

Naturally, when menu planning, I decided to follow the guidance of entertaining extraordinaire and my personal food hero, Ina Garten. She hasn't failed me with any recipes yet, and even though I'm "entertaining" someone who already enjoys my cooking and a picky three-year-old, I still want to experience the foods of the holiday in celebration of the day. I'm keeping it simple and will miss some favorite sides but I only packed so many dishes, pots, and pans, and well, we always have Christmas to add in any missing favorites (like this-mushroom leek bread pudding-make and thank me later.)

Thanksgiving 2016 Menu:

I can't believe how simple this was and SO flavorful too. Leave it to Ina for simplicity and ultimate flavor.

In my opinion, haricot verts are always fancier than your average green beans, and when they are tossed with the gremolata, tasty! (I did forget pine nuts though, so they could have been even better.)

Full disclosure-I couldn't source the truffle butter in time, otherwise these would have been authentic Truffled Mashed Potatoes.

Cranberry Sauce and Stuffing*
Not pictured above. Trader Joe's fresh cranberry sauce and stuffing-because I'm the only one who likes them and,  #convenient.

Black Beans*
Not pictured above. Because the male Haseltons requested them...I find this so strange for a Thanksgiving spread... But, in the words of Henry: "Mom, I don't like green beans, I like BLACK beans!" Ok, kid.

As evident in the picture, there was some level of failure in the production of this pie. The crust was made a little big for the pan, and the filling made more than the pie could handle so the cup overrunneth when transporting to the oven. However, was my first pumpkin pie and taste was not compromised!

A good looking and tasting plate if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Custom art created by my super talented friend Virginia :)
Baby GIRL (I still can't believe it!) Josephine arrived earlier than expected this month and is a total delight. I was truly convinced we were having a boy, and minutes before we went into the OR, the doctor went over last minute instructions about getting "him" out safely and how "he" should be fine, etc. So, as I said to Scott, cat was out of the bag. He asked me if I wanted confirmation and I said I didn't need when it just got it. He asked again and I said, ok, and it was then that he told me we were having a girl. I still couldn't believe it-she had said boy several times (and prior to this day as well) so I didn't believe him.  I thought perhaps at the time of the sonogram it did appear to be a girl but they can be wrong, so I figured things had changed. It was not until they were actually taking her out that I heard the doctor say "Dad, why don't you tell her what it is" and he smiled and said it was a girl. I cried (though, full disclosure, I would have cried if it were a boy too-this was my child!) and couldn't believe it. I still can't, and often wake up thinking "I have a daughter!"

Henry adores her and loves hugging and helping her (which I'm going to file away in my pictures and mental archives knowing full well it won't last forever!) and was particularly fascinated by her umbilical cord. 

With her full term due date being Thanksgiving, I think we are all feeling very thankful for her safe (yet surprising and a bit crazy) arrival, and that Scott's mom was able to come out so quickly to help care for Henry, that his dad later joined us, and that my parents will be here next week to meet their first granddaughter. 

While we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving on our own as a family of four this year, we will certainly be missing our families and wish you all a happy and healthy holiday. We certainly have much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

This is Halloween

Halloween is easily my favorite holiday-it encompasses all of the qualities that to me, make a great holiday--dressing up in costumes, decorations, pumpkin-flavored foods, generally colder weather, dressing up kids in costumes, and no gifts.

At three years old, this was the first year that Henry declared his costume desires when I started asking in the spring (when I generally start scheming for myself). He very clearly said he wanted to be a hammer, me to be a screwdriver, and Scott to be a toolbox or a saxophone. For the past six months he has very much remained dedicated to this hammer costume so I knew I had to bring it to life.

Moving across country provided ample boxes to choose from, since my internet searching revealed about four adult hammer-tool costumes yet plenty of MC Hammer options. I'm a maker anyway, so I knew I was going to construct it somehow, and figured cardboard was probably going to be the best material. Of the four inspirational images, I found, this one was the one that seemed the most appropriate and able to be replicated.

This was probably the cheapest costume I will ever construct too, because all it included were three moving boxes, duct tape, silver spray paint, a few staples, and two sheets of poster board.
Though I felt bad I didn't deliver on my own screwdriver, he was
agreeable to my modified themed costume. 

The hammer "head" was clearly the piece de resistance, and I'm certain the Smithsonian is going to be calling wanting it for their American History of Halloween showcase exhibit that is still seeking funding sources. The "handle" was a bit more of a challenge in that I thought poster board would provide the best sturdy construction, but it did prove to be hard for him to go up and down stairs due to the restrictive nature. In hindsight, felt or a fabric might have been a better know, for my next tool costume.

Our trial run with the costume-Hilloween on Friday.
Costume improvements were made for the big day.

Obviously, it's extremely gratifying to hear strangers compliment your costume and share how it's their favorite and how you don't see costumes like that anymore, but I was really just a defining mom moment to bring his vision to life. He owned it and watching him walk down the street and hear him make his "trick or treat" requests just makes Halloween even more of an epic holiday to experience it through his eyes. And, I think he may have equally enjoyed handing out candy as much as receiving it. Once we were home, he'd meet adults at the sidewalk and give them candy to which they were always delighted to receive from this very gracious little boy.

Halloween in DC was pretty epic itself-which was a huge relief to me, wanting to provide Henry the experience that he knows. It reminded me of certain neighborhoods in Fullerton where kids are bussed in and the streets are flooded with parents and costumed children. The neighbors are gathered outside in many cases, enjoying the social aspect of the holiday, and the decorations are over the top.  Besides our own street we went to a few blocks over to a small one-way street where the neighborhood really collaborates and hangs lights across the street as well as includes very theatrical decorations. Makes for really efficient trick-or-treating!

Hope everyone had a great Halloween themselves! Only 364 days until next year!