Happy Thanksgiving! (better late than never?)

Happy two days after Thanksgiving!

I am happy to report that our first Thanksgiving was a smashing success! I mentioned in my last post that Kevin and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year – our first major holiday as a married couple and in the new house. And it was my first time hosting a major holiday ever, so I was pretty happy with how everything turned out! We ended up having 12 people over – smashed in our dining room between three folding card tables and a mash-up of borrowed chairs. It was awesome.

thanksgiving 1 watching Dad butter up the turkey!

I was a little nervous about the amount of people so I didn’t turn down offers of help when I got them. My sister brought cranberry sauce, a pie, and some appetizers; my neighbors graciously brought green bean casserole and another pie; my parents brought bread, rolls and a third pie; my mother-in-law bought a ham and we took care of the rest – turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn.

As usual, Kevin and I read a bunch of turkey recipes and then just sort of did our own thing. I had found a recipe for a lemon-herb-butter roasted turkey which I was planning on trying until 10:45pm the night before Thanksgiving, when my darling husband decided he wanted to brine our turkey…never mind that we didn’t really have any supplies for brining; it ended up working out pretty well! Once the turkey was brined, we nixed the lemon, made an herbed butter compote to lather our turkey in, stuffed it with an apple, an onion, and some mixed fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, and thyme – yum!) and tossed it in the oven for a couple of hours.

thanksgiving 3

beautiful!

I was worried about oven space for the potatoes until I got the brilliant idea to make them in the crock pot. I thought why not, right? My crockpot applesauce turned out so well, I figured potatoes weren’t that much different. So I looked up a few recipes online and went with it. The verdict?

potatoes

Total win! The sweet potatoes were a huge hit – I simply diced a couple pounds of sweet potatoes and tossed them in the crock pot with a apple juice, cinnamon and nutmeg and let it cook for about 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally. Once the potatoes were soft I mashed them up and topped with pecan halves – delicious!

The mashed potatoes surprised me as well. I diced and added the potatoes to the pot with chicken broth and minced garlic, let them cook for 4-5 hours, and once they were soft enough to mash I mashed them and added some sour cream and grated parmesan. They were so easy, and because we set up our dinner buffet style, you can serve the potatoes right out of the crock pot! It definitely helped ease my stress on Thanksgiving day!

I should have taken more pictures but I was too busy enjoying the company of good friends and family; and of course we spent a lot of our time with Baby Bear – he loves his Aunts Jen and Britt and his Uncle Will! It made my heart so happy to see him with my family – it was the first time most of them had met but within minutes it was as if they’d known each other forever!

We talked my younger sister into spending the night, and because it is a tradition in my family to avoid the stores on Black Friday (I get claustrophobic in crowds), we decided instead to bake Christmas cookies!

thanksgiving 8

Similar to the cookies we made for fall with my sister and brother-in-law, these sugar cookies are a longstanding tradition in my family. And because it is now officially the Christmas season, what better way to celebrate than with Christmas music and sugar cookies?! (Don’t worry, we’re getting our tree and decorating later today!)

It was a blast showing Baby Bear how to make the cookies, although admittedly he got bored pretty quickly. Still, I think he had fun, and of course everybody likes to eat cookies!

thanksgiving 6

me and Aunt Britt-Britt!

thanksgiving 7

getting ready to decorate!

cookie lights!

cookie lights!

I’ve said it a few times already – but it’s amazing what that little boy does to my heart. Sharing some of my favorite holiday traditions with him makes me so happy, and seeing him and his daddy – my family – fills me with so much love that sometimes I think my heart is going to burst. I may sound mushy and schmultzy but it’s true. I had no idea what it felt like to be a mom…and it’s a crazy and incredible experience.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

And now, we’re off to get a tree! Hooray!

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Apple Onion Balsamic Pork Chops

It appears that I have somewhat of an apple-onion theme going on.

apple onion balsamic pork chops | eatwriterunrepeat.com

Well, maybe. Does two recipes in a week count as a theme? Really I guess not, especially when you add the fact that I don’t have any more apple onion recipes up my sleeve. At least, not yet.

This recipe actually started as somewhat of an accident. (I feel like I say that a lot – is it just me?) I kind of wanted to make pork chops with apples and onions and so I threw a bunch of stuff in a pot, Kevin added a bunch of stuff to the pot, and it turned out to be pretty delicious! Except that the next time we tried to make it we couldn’t remember what we used and so we had to start over from scratch. Whoops.

apple onion balsamic pork chops | eatwriterunrepeat.com

Admittedly it’s not the most appealing dish I’ve ever made, but trust me when I say that it’s 100% delicious. The apple + onion + pork combination is a total win, and when you add a couple tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar and a shake or two of red pepper flakes it’s the perfect symphony of sweet, tangy, and a kick in the mouth.

Pork happens to go really well with sweet, tangy, and a kick in the mouth, don’t you think?

apple onion balsamic pork chops | eatwriterunrepeat.com

As good as this tasted for dinner (we served it with roasted kabocha squash and sweet potatoes, delicious), I took leftovers in to work the next day and it was even better. Particularly when I paired it with – are you ready for this? – sauerkraut. Holy Yum.

(For those of you who haven’t experienced the beautiful culinary marriage that is pork and sauerkraut, you need to remedy that. Stat.)

And speaking of work – I had to take Kevin’s truck to work last week – guess who totally ROCKED backing that beast into a teeny parking spot in the garage??

awesome park job | eatwriterunrepeat.com

THIS GIRL!! Yes, I took a picture.

But I totally ducked every time I drove under one of those clearance signs because I was certain the truck wasn’t going to make it.

Sigh.

APPLE ONION BALSAMIC PORK CHOPS

serves four

INGREDIENTS

4 bone-in pork chops

2 onions, sliced

2 apples, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/8 cup aged balsamic vinegar (eyeball it)

1/4 cup white wine

2 tsp cinnamon

red pepper flakes (optional)

salt and pepper

coconut oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat 1-2 tbsps coconut oil in a heavy pan. Add pork chops and apple cider vinegar and brown on both sides. Remove from pan.

In the same pan, add apples, onions, cinnamon, and red pepper (if using) and cook until brown, about 5 minutes. (Don’t cook them until they are soft just yet – only until they start to brown up!) Remove from pan.

Deglaze the pan with a healthy glug of white wine, scraping all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the pork and apple-onion mixture back to the pan. Add the balsamic, lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 45 minutes or until pork is cooked through.

apple onion balsamic pork chops | eatwriterunrepeat.com

Butternut Squash Soup

I mentioned in my post yesterday that it took Kevin and I over six hours to get our kitchen unpacked and set up. I had no idea it would take so long (although I don’t know why not based on the number of boxes we had laying around) and once I was done I had absolutely no desire to cook. Good thing then that I have a husband who loves to grill, because he whipped up some bratwursts and we had one of my absolute favorite meals.

butternut squash soup | eatwriterunrepeat.com

Clearly, this picture is not of our mouthwatering dinner of bratwurst (and beer). It is, however, another one of my favorite meals – butternut squash soup!

I had intended to make butternut squash soup on Saturday once we finished the kitchen – it was one of the twenty things on our Saturday to-do list that didn’t get done. Other items included buying a desk for our office, hanging pictures in the house, and doing yard work. I adore having a yard, but one thing that comes with having a yard on the East Coast is all the work that comes with maintaining it – such as mowing, raking leaves, and shoveling snow. We’ve been in the new place just over two weeks, and our yard was in major need of mowing…except that we don’t yet have a lawnmower. So while we took a short break to reheat some leftovers for lunch (on the stove, because we don’t have a microwave), Kevin ran next door to ask our neighbor (I’m going to call him Bill for the sake of this story although that isn’t his real name) if he could borrow his lawnmower so we could mow our lawn. Kevin also brought over some cookies we baked the other night in response to the brownies that Bill’s wife brought over for us last week. Anyway, I’m not sure how the conversation went because Kevin came back over and we immediately went back to work tackling our boxes, but a short while later we hear a lawnmower start up – and we look out our window to see Bill mowing our lawn! Apparently Kevin told him he’d be over once we finished the kitchen, but Bill took it upon himself to mow our lawn for us! Not only that, but once he finished he got out his leaf blower and cleared our deck of all the fallen leaves that seem to multiply overnight. (At this point, Kevin turned to me and said, “It’s official. We also need to buy a leaf blower.”)

If that isn’t a sign of Christian love, I don’t know what is. Bill certainly didn’t need to mow our lawn for us – nor did he have to clear off our deck for us either. But he did it to be a good neighbor, and things like that stay with you. It certainly make Kevin and I look at our lives a bit different and think to ourselves – who can we be a blessing to today? Bill was indeed a blessing to us, and we are so thankful to have him and his wife as our neighbors.

butternut squash soup | eatwriterunrepeat.com

But, back to the soup. Because I didn’t end up making it on Saturday, I made it Sunday afternoon instead…which actually ended up to be quite nice. I stayed downstairs, making soup and straightening up around the house while Kevin hung curtains in our bedroom and set up the desk in our office area. It was a beautiful day on Sunday as well – crisp and clear and full of fall colors. The temperature has dropped considerably which I love – proof positive it is officially fall!

butternut squash soup | eatwriterunrepeat.com

This soup was the perfect dinner to end a great (and productive!) day. Warm, creamy, slightly nutty and slightly sweet; you can’t really go wrong with a huge bowl of butternut squash soup. Paired with a simple salad, it’s an easy and rustic fall dish for a chilly day. Plus, it’s delicious!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

yields: 2 quarts (approximately)

prep time: 30 minutes

cook time: 45-60 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 butternut squash

1 large sweet potato

2 medium yellow onions

3 cloves garlic (optional)

6 oz homemade chicken broth + 6 oz water (or 12 oz store bought chicken stock)

1/2 can coconut milk (approximately 8 oz)

1 tsp sage

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp paprika

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp butter

INSTRUCTIONS

Peel and chop all vegetables. In a large pot melt your butter over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until fragrant, approximately 5 minutes. Add squash and sweet potato and stir to combine. Add chicken broth, water, and spices. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes. Working in batches, transfer soup to a food processor and puree until smooth. Return to pan over medium heat, add coconut milk, and cook until warm. Add additional spices if necessary.

butternut squash soup | eatwriterunrepeat.com