Friday, November 21, 2014

A Chic Thanksgiving: My Cooking Plan

Now that we've made a menu and gone to the grocery store let's talk about our plan of attack. How are we going to get all this done? With little kids and no one to help it can be difficult to cook such a large meal. To keep frustration and rushing to a minimum I start prepping days in advance. Doing a little bit each day helps me stay organized and in the holiday spirit. 

To start off the week of Thanksgiving I normally check (and double check) my grocery list and recipes to make sure that I have everything. I do any last minute store runs and get all of my fresh produce. If I plan to buy flowers or anything like that I go ahead and make those arrangements too. Or I take note of what my grocery store is offering for decorations. Normally when it's the week of Thanksgiving you can get a pretty good deal on anything Fall/Thanksgiving related.

On Tuesday, I do my mise en place. (Can you tell I'm a Top Chef fan?) I chop up all my celery and onions. I clean and shuck my corn and cut it off the cobb. I cut and clean all my veggies. Once everything is clean and chopped up I place everything in a zip-loc bag or a tupperware container. Everything goes back in to the fridge.

Wednesday afternoon, maybe around lunch I'll start cooking. I make the cornbread for my cornbread stuffing. While that's in the oven I start on my pie fillings and appetizers. When my pies are ready for the oven I get all my veggies going. After my collards, corn and green beans are on the stove I make my potato salad. So by the time Wednesday is over I've cooked all my desserts, the potato salad and all the veggies. If you're like me and you only have one oven then you know it only makes since to make some this stuff a day ahead. 

I normally wake up at about five on Thursday morning because I like to have my dinner ready around one or two. I make my rice and dinner rolls the day of too. Thursday morning is all about the Turkey and casseroles. I make the Turkey last. While the stove is working hard I mix up the lemonade and make sweet tea. I begin heating all the veggies about half way through the Turkey's cook time. Once the Turkey is done I let it rest for a while and then it's time to eat!

This is how I tackle getting all that cooking done. I plan to have Savannah help me as much as she wants. I know it may seem like a lot but splitting it up really helps. I have been asked about sharing the recipes for the Thanksgiving menu I created. I am working on that and hope to share it early next week. How do you prep and plan for big dinners?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Chic Thanksgiving: Grocery Shopping List

We have all been there. It's Thanksgiving Day and you're knee deep in pots and pans when you realize you forgot to buy something, you're about to run out of something or you don't have enough of something. It sucks. The last thing you want to do is try to find a store that's open. And God forbid you have to ask your husband or some other unwilling family member to run to the store.

We all know how that turns out. They either can't find what you need or they get the wrong thing. Even though episodes like this are the stuff that holidays are made of I try my hardest to avoid them. I like being prepared so that I can enjoy my time in the kitchen and my husband can enjoy his football.

You remember that episode of The Cosby Show when Claire kept having Cliff run to the store...

Love that episode. I don't want him to end up like Cliff so I start shopping in advance using two separate grocery lists. A list for non perishable items and a list for my fresh produce and items. I carry the non perishable list around with me and whenever I go to the store I grab a few things off the list. By the time Thanksgiving week comes I only have to buy what's fresh.

Tailor your list to what you're making. Here is an example of my non perishable list. 

We have limited freezer space so I'm not able to freeze much in advance. So, I buy my turkey fresh. I do freeze my butter though. 

Now. These are just examples. By looking at this I can already see where I need to add sour cream. Make your lists based on what you choose to make. I make my own Turkey broth so you'll notice there isn't any broth on my list. Do what works for you and your menu. If you plan to use coupons start getting the paper on Sundays if you don't already. I have already purchased my cooking soups, extracts and some spices because the coupons were in the paper last week. Last year there were several ways to save on a turkey and that's another reason I wait to buy my bird. Those coupons normally come out a bit closer to Thanksgiving. 

I like doing my shopping this way because it allows me to buy little by little. I don't have to worry about being in the grocery store all day or running around at the last minute to find special ingredients. Cuts down on stress. What do you think of this shopping plan? How do you get your Thanksgiving dinner shopping done? 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Date Night Taught Me...

This past weekend my husband and I got out for a very rare date night. We normally only get out for dates when family comes to visit. Because of that I have gotten pretty good at creating date nights at home and had become extremely comfortable with that.

Maybe too comfortable.

Anyway. When a friend of mine offered to come over so that we could enjoy a night out I happily accepted.
Ocho Havana Hotel romantic restaurant
At first I was so worried about how the kids would do and if my house was clean enough to have a friend over in my absence. Then I remembered that the last time we went out as a couple was in February… when we were in Vegas. 

It then occurred to me that I have become one of those people who gets into a routine and never looks left or right for a little spontaneity. My routine and schedule had literally become everything to me. If it's not in my planner the chances of it happening are pretty slim. 

Ocho restaurant salsa platter

Our date nights at home are fun and convenient (and necessary) but nothing beats getting all dressed up and going out. I had no idea I missed getting dressed up so much. What was even more shocking was that I had no idea how much more I'd feel like myself. Like the old me.

statement necklace

I didn't know I was missing the old me. I had no idea that I'd feel different after going out but I certainly did. Even though I'd like to think that I haven't lost any parts of myself apparently some part of me had been slightly stifled. 

Because I have been operating on auto pilot it never crossed my mind that I actually needed to get fixed up and get out of my house after seven. I learned that putting on cute mommy outfits and going to the grocery store and Target are not the same as being done from head to toe for a night out.

That's where I got it twisted.

Family time and running errands isn't the same as a true date night. Even though we're always together nothing is like going on a real date. I had forgotten what that was like. When you're a military wife this is an easy rut to fall into. You get use to the idea of not being able (or feeling comfortable) to go out. 

Before you know it you have trained your mind to forget about tapping into that side of yourself. Or at least that's what happened to me. 

all black date night outfit

Having a schedule and routine is great. For me, it is absolutely necessary. What I learned from date night was that I must also pencil in some time to be the old me. It's okay to accept the help of a friend and rely on someone else to give yourself a break when you need it. I didn't know that I needed to unplug but my friend did. 

Think about the last time you had a chance to unplug. If it's been more than a couple months plan a night out. Don't be like me. Our trip to Vegas was nine months ago. I was long overdue for a night out. 

How often do you get out for dates or time without your kids? Have you ever been blind to the fact that you needed to unplug? Share your stories with me in the comments! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Chic Thanksgiving: The Menu

I have been anxiously waiting for this week to come so that I could start my series on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. I do love what Christmas is about but because that is often lost with the "fuss" of Christmas, Thanksgiving has hands down become my favorite holiday.

I love the time of togetherness with my family. I love the way Thanksgiving smells and the way the air feels outside. Y'all already know I'm an Autumn girl and Thanksgiving is one of the main reasons why.  It's a great time for reflection and recognition of all of our blessings. It's also a time to enjoy some amazing food guilt free.

During this series I will be sharing four different posts. The first is about a traditional southern Thanksgiving menu. Right after I got married my Mother made me a Thanksgiving cookbook full of all of our family's recipes. It has everything from appetizers to desserts. She even wrote me a beautiful letter about life, love and marriage. I hope to pass the book down to Savannah with a letter for her when she gets married. 

As a young woman it was so helpful to have this menu. At the time, I wasn't the cook I am today. As an Army Wife, not living near family, I needed this book as a guide. It taught me how to pull off a very successful Thanksgiving dinner with no help. I actually get excited about Thanksgiving. It's like the Super Bowl for women who like to cook, it's a big deal. I find that part of my success comes with keeping it simple and traditional. 

So. If you're someone that doesn't live close to family but you still want to have a bomb Thanksgiving... OR you're someone that just needs a plan for how to do Thanksgiving dinner without getting all stressed, this series is for you.

Here is what we're making for Thanksgiving this year. It's very simple but it's PACKED with comforting flavors. You will love this easy to do meal. 

easy thanksgiving menu

Coming Up in this series:
A Chic Thanksgiving: The Shopping List & The Grocery Store
A Chic Thanksgiving: Getting It All Done
A Chic Thanksgiving: Decorating and Hostess Tips

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween 2014

Well, hello there November! Can I just say that I am so excited for these cooler Texas temps. At Savannah's game yesterday everyone was bundled up like it was freezing. It was a beautiful sixty degrees out. I was loving it.

Rewinding all the way to Friday…

We were busy. Sav's class had a Pajama Day party that included musical chairs, a pumpkin decorating contest and cookie decorating. She had a blast. After running some errands we came home to relax before getting dressed for the night time festivities.

We were two black cats. Fun and simple. I found her black tutu brand new on eBay for seven bucks with shipping! Her ears and tail were found at WalMart. I got my ears from Old Navy.

mommy daughter black cats

You can't really tell in the pics but my mini dress has a ruffle tutu like bottom. We wore matching shoes to complete our looks. (hers- H&M, mine- Coach) My husband painted our faces.

I found out about a block party that was happening on our base. We headed there for the festivities. It was the perfect way to spend the evening. After an hour both of them were tired and ready to go to bed.

Little Mike was a lion. He wore Sav's old costume. He was super cute but was not feeling it. This is one of the only happy pics I have of him dressed. Love his cute little face.

Now that October is over I am all about Thanksgiving! Y'all know it's my favorite holiday! I'll be sharing Thanksgiving recipes and tips all throughout the month.