We had such a lovely day yesterday.
Isn’t Thanksgiving always lovely?
This year, the weather was particularly cooperative, and so were the kids.
We always start Thanksgiving with the Turkey Trot. We do the 5k so we’re home before 8 am, and we try to have fun with it – including dressing a little crazy. Inevitably, my brother who “doesn’t run” will finish the race with a 7ish minute pace. This year, he finished in around 24 minutes – slow for him, but of course he hadn’t run at all in over a month.
Adam and I took a leisurely pace and pushed the last mile out fast (with one decent uphill) just for fun. I couldn’t keep up for the last few blocks as he really turned it on – he’s fast when he wants to be. I wasn’t tired but was running literally as fast as I could. Turns out that’s pretty slow.
With the INSANE crowd, we were happy to both with a pace around finish around 29:00 minutes. That meant dodging and swerving the walkers (who inevitably think they should 1) sign up for the ‘competitive’ 5k instead of the ‘fun run’ 5k that starts a half hour later and 2) start in the very front of the pack) – and many near-misses with ambitious non-runners who would intermittently walk without warning. It was a fun obstacle course, if nothing else.
After our annual Turkey Trot in the early morning, I spent the next 4 hours in the kitchen finishing the sweet potatoes, prepping the dough for the rolls and making an extra batch of brownies.
I promised to share my Thanksgiving successes and failures, so here you go:
1. Pecan Pie: I ended up making two. One with dark rum and dark Caro syrup; one with half light/half dark Caro and a tablespoon of flour added to thicken the filling a bit. Both were delicious. The rum-based pie was a little soft in the middle (runny, even) but tasted delicious. The other pie had a better structure. All in all, both were awesome. I think I’ll keep both recipes and add the flour to the rum-based pie next year.
2. Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars: These turned out so-so. I don’t think the cheesecake filling was quite sweet enough. I used pound cake mix for the crust as specified in the recipe, but next time I’ll use yellow. It was too dense and not sweet enough. These didn’t fly off the plate but everyone said they were “good.” They weren’t as successful as the pies or brownies.
3. Brownies: At the last minute, I decided to add a tray of brownies to the mix for those who don’t like the traditional Thanksgiving flavors (i.e. my daughter and stepson). I used this recipe, and it did not disappoint. Perfect brownies, in my opinion. I omitted the chocolate chips (because I don’t like them in brownies), but they were absolutely delicious.
4. Potato Rosemary Rolls: These were my first stab at yeast-based dinner rolls. They turned out mostly successful. They were delicious, for sure – but not quite the size I was planning. I will make them again. I think I used too little yeast, for one. I used one packet when the recipe called for 2.5 teaspoons. I’m not sure, but I think that would’ve been more like 2 packets. Either way, they rose well enough, but the dough was super sticky. I need to learn to make the “well floured dough” that I read about. This wasn’t it.
I tried to roll up the dough balls in “half tablespoon” size as indicated in the recipe, but they seemed entirely too small. So, I went with “tablespoon” size. Even those ended up too small, even after the second rise. Next time, I’ll make them a bit larger. The taste was delicious; the texture fantastic. These were a success, and I’ve learned lessons for next time.
5. Lion House Dinner Rolls. These tasted amazing, but their appearance left something to be desired. I used instant yeast that’s probably a little old. I ran out of flour so after 6 cups, couldn’t add more (and this dough was also really sticky). The dough hardly rose the first time until I put it on the warm stove – and even then it took over two hours. Then, I think I rolled the dough too thin before rolling them into “rolls.” They were little blobby mush piles on the baking sheet, and didn’t change shape much through the second rise and baking process. They definitely tasted delicious, but they were embarrassing to serve. I’ll try these again.
6. Candied Sweet Potatoes: As usual, these were delicious but … next year I’m omitting the nutmeg. I always forget that I don’t like nutmeg until I eat them. No more. All these need is the sugar, butter and cinnamon. I baked them in a casserole for about 1.5 hours at low heat (350ish) with all of the other dishes, and they were devoured. Our family ate 12 huge sweet potatoes and left me no leftovers.
Everything at the table was honestly a success – my mom’s turkey turned out amazingly, my sister-in-law’s dressing, sinful mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and homemade vegetarian gravy were to die for, and my kids devoured my other sister-in-law’s homemade cranberry Jello and pumpkin bread. As usual, everyone was rendered comatose, groaning and blissful.
Did any of you try anything creative this year? We tend to stick to the standards and we love them – but I’m always looking for new twists on my baking.