Thanksgiving #3 in Mexico

My first year in Mexico I flew home for Thanksgiving.  Since Ale was born, I’ve stayed in town and prepared a Thanksgiving meal for my family and the other extranjeros, or foreigners.  This year, my party grew, and so did our turkey!

I’ve become less intimidated about cooking turkey.  I think it is over emphasized, and this year I appreciated an article that helped me to feel better about my bird: 17 Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes Everyone Makes  I bought my bird too late.  I thawed him outside of the fridge overnight.  He weighed 11.75 kilos (about 25 pounds).  I just slapped some butter on his breast, used salt and pepper to season him, and cooked him upside down for 4 and 1/2 hours before flipping him over for the last 30 minutes.

He was perfect.

Better yet, he continues to be perfect.  Victor’s been snacking on turkey for two days, today we had turkey sandwiches for lunch, and I’ve made SO much broth from the bones and little bits of meat!  Next up is a turkey pot pie with some leftover pie dough.  Yummo!  This turkey will feed us for weeks!!!

I also managed to make a most delicious dressing that tastes pretty much like my Mamaw’s.  This is how I accomplished that:

Mamaw’s Cornbread Dressing

1 skillet of cornbread crumbled
10-12 biscuits crumbled
1/4 cup of fresh sage, minced (About 15-20 leaves)
6-8 stalks of celery, minced
1 whole white onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
left over chicken and chicken parts, minced (optional)
Broth from chicken or turkey
Salt/Pepper to taste

In a pot, boil all those goodies you take out of your turkey (neck, lungs, etc.) Save this broth for your dressing. Crumble and chop all ingredients listed above into a large bowl. Add broth until everything is moistened. Add salt and pepper to flavor the dressing. (You can taste it here–all the ingredients are cooked, so no worries of getting sick!) Throw this into a casserole dish, and pop in the oven and bake until the top is crispy. Enjoy!

The best part of this Thanksgiving was the preparation: two of Ale’s aunties came over to help us get ready and prep the food/ house for company.  Having them here as I busied about the kitchen was really special.  It made my family holiday seem more like a family holiday!

What I didn’t count on was the major exhaustion from being on my feet for 14 hours cooking and entertaining!  I didn’t count on being eight months pregnant while preparing turkey, dressing, and homemade rolls for 20 people wearing me out–but it sure did!  That night I went to bed with an achy body, contractions and cramping, and fell asleep singing to Ale.  Victor said I kept trying to sing to her after I was asleep.

Whew!  Who knew that hosting Thanksgiving took so much work!  Wow!

Advertisements

Breaking the Silence with Muffins

When a blogger goes AWOL, it is hard to figure out how to return from nearly 50 days of silence.   What better way to start blogging again than to share my favorite muffin recipe!

Today is my oldest niece’s 16th birthday.  We were so excited when we found out that she would join us, and I still remember how proud I was before she was even born.  I told everyone who would listen that she was the cutest thing to grace this planet.  She still is!  

She is also a lover of peaches, and today I decided to forgo the normal Blakley breakfast (Mama’s light-as-air buttermilk biscuits and gravy) for something a bit easier.   Enter the best muffin recipe.

The best thing about this recipe is that the ingredient list is simple!  It is the kind of recipe that you can play with depending on your available fruits.  I’ve used blueberries, strawberries, and apples.  ‘Tis the season for peaches, so today I chopped about two peaches or a little over one cup.  The chunks of peaches cooked into delicious gooey bites–similar to a cobbler!  I added 1tsp of pumpkin pie spice, because for an unknown reason, Mama is lacking cinnamon.

This recipe is also delicious using whole wheat flour instead of white flour!  In fact, my favorite version of this muffin replaces the white flour with whole wheat flour.  In this banana nut creation, I use 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, about 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 cup of mashed banana, 1/2 cup of chopped nuts, no oil, and 3/4 cup of milk.

Here are my favorite muffin secrets:  

  • Have a super hot oven.  400 degrees is perfect!
  • Use a little extra flour if the batter is too moist (that’s for you, Rachel…)
  • Everything tastes better with a little butter.  When the muffins are hot, add a little to the top or a sliver inside.
  • Make enough to share!  Everyone loves muffins!  (If they don’t, you should rethink your friends…)

The first two tips are important for creating cute muffin tops.  And let’s be honest, the world could use more cute muffin tops… 
Best Ever Muffin Recipe
Ingredients

  •  2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl or 2 cup measuring cup, beat egg with a fork. Stir in milk and oil. Pour all at once into the well in the flour mixture. Mix quickly and lightly with a fork until moistened, but do not beat. The batter will be lumpy. Pour the batter into paper lined muffin pan cups.  Original recipe makes 1 dozen

Variations: Blueberry Muffins: Add 1 cup fresh blueberries. Raisin Muffins: Add 1 cup finely chopped raisins. Date Muffins: Add 1 cup finely chopped dates. Cheese Muffins: Fold in 1 cup grated sharp yellow cheese. Bacon Muffins: Fold 1/4 cup crisp cooked bacon, broken into bits.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden.

How To Beat The Homesick Blues

“I’ll be home for Christmas…” has been running through my head on a repeat-cycle.  Of course, I won’t be “home” for Christmas.  Actually, to be honest, I don’t even really know where I consider home to be anymore.

  • Option One:  It could be my Tennessee house.  That’s where I go now when I get vacation time.  It’s the same home that I spent the majority of my childhood in–so it has good memories.  It’s where the family meets, where my things are stored, etc.
  • Option Two:  It could be Northern Virginia.  I was there for three years–the longest I’ve ever lived and worked in one place after graduation.  That’s where many of my friends are–as well as part of my family.  I equally feel the need to go there on vacation.
  • Option Three:  Or maybe it’s true that “home is where the heart is.”  If that’s the case, then Mexico is my home.  I miss it when I leave.  I can’t imagine living back in the States running the rat race.  I tell people that I must have a Mexican heart–because I sure do love the life and the people here.

In any case, today home is with my family.  I love my sweet family here–but between Skyping with my sisters and seeing pictures of my Mama with my nephews, I’ve come down with a bad case of the Homesick Blues.  The homesick blues are what happens when you start yearning for things that you can’t have.  I’m not one to stay blue too long, and between Ale and Victor that’s hard to do anyway.

This is today’s cure-all recipe for all that ails you (if what ails you is the Homesick Blues):

  • 1 pot of Chicken and Dumplings
  • 1 pitcher of Sweet Tea
  • something Chocolate

It works, I tell ya!

I remember watching Mamaw make Chicken and Dumplings.  She would use the whole chicken–complete with bones for better flavor.  Sometimes all the bones didn’t get removed, and that made eating a chore.  This is how I made Chicken and Dumplings today:

  1. Boil chicken in a big pot of water with a generous amount of ground pepper and a pinch of salt.
  2. After the chicken is cooked, pull it apart with a fork to shredded pieces.  Allow this to keep cooking in the water.
  3. While Chicken is boiling, make biscuits:  2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup butter or shortening, 3/4 cup of buttermilk.  Mix dry ingredients.  Add butter and cut it with a fork until it is in pea-size pieces.  Add milk and mix–but not too much!  Turn out onto floured surface.  Pat down until your husband walks by and asks if you’re making pizza.
  4.  Give him a lesson on how to properly say dumplin’.  “Dump-lynn.  No, Dump… now lynn.”  Give up on that–but don’t give up on those biscuits!  (The secret is to not mess with them too much…)
  5. Slice the dumplings into strips and drop them into the boiling water.  They will sink–then start floating!
  6. Allow this to cook on medium heat until the dumplings are cooked.  You will end up with a nice gravy broth from the flour in the biscuits.
  7. Add mixed veggies like peas, carrots, corn, etc.  (Mamaw didn’t do this–but it makes me feel better about eating biscuit soup…)
  8. Feed your family hearty bowls of chicken and dumplings–but puree some until it looks disgusting for your baby.  (It just looks that way–it’s actually still delicious!)
  9. Serve with a tall glass of ice tea…sweet, of course!

That’s it!  That’s all you have to do to feel better–and less blue!  Well, it doesn’t cure it completely, but at least you won’t be hungry and blue!