Friends Thanksgiving

Our basement is unfinished. When we first moved in I would sprint from the stairs to the washer/dryer and sprint back again in case it was haunted or the furnace started talking to me a la Home Alone. In a nutshell, it was creepy. We’ve moved some things around and made it as un-creepy as possible while still being an unfinished basement. (For the record, I can say with confidence that it’s not haunted. Phew.) It’s sad that it’s mostly unused space down there, but finishing a basement costs a lot of dollars. It will happen eventually, but for right now we’ll just have take up rollerblading or take advantage of the darkness and learn to cure meat, as my brother suggested. The good news is that I had a genius idea recently, probably one of my best, to host a Friends Thanksgiving. The basement ended up being perfect because there was more than enough space, and if anything spilled it didn’t matter.

This is the basement before we moved in. Eek.

This is what it looks like as a magical Fall wonderland.

I mean it’s soooort of like putting lipstick on a pig since the walls are still yellow, and the cement floors are still exposed, but it’s a vast improvement if you ask me. And those twinkle lights are definitely staying up until we remodel the whole thing.

“Be Thankful” plasticware holder idea taken from here (tutorial on them tomorrow).

Candles, napkins and table cloths purchased from Joann Fabric & Crafts (40% off, with an additional 25% off my entire purchase! Love that place.).

Old Fashioned Recipe taken from here.

Jackson, my second favorite guy in the whole world after 9 days of owning him (Steve’s #1, obvi.), gets MVP for the night. With 30 people in the house, food everywhere, kids running around, he was calm the entire time. Steve and I had no idea what to expect, but we know now that we got really lucky to adopt such a great dog. In the photo below he’s staring intently at everyone’s plates in the garbage. He knew he wanted to get in there, but also knew he wasn’t allowed. that’sagoodboyyesitisthat’sagoodboy.

Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite holiday. As far as I can remember, it always has been. I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it has something to do with the lack of stress. No pressure, no over thinking it – it just is what it is, you know? This year I haven’t had quite enough time to do all the Halloween-related festivities I’d like (fingers crossed I can make it to a pumpkin patch), but I was able to make some Halloween sugar cookies last night. It was a new recipe that I would give two thumbs up. They have nutmeg in them, so they’re definitely not your traditional sugar cookies…even if the recipe is called “Traditional Sugar Cookies”. I won’t waste too much time pondering that.

The recipe can be found in this cookie cookbook.

1. Rainbow sprinkles make coffins and such seem less scary.
2. Mostly though, I couldn’t find my collection of sprinkles. Add it to the list of M.I.A. items since we moved 6 months ago.

Chicken Soup with Dumplings

Sunday night Steve and I made chicken soup with dumplings. It will now go down in history as one of my favorite home cooked meals we’ve ever made. It was time consuming to make, but was so delicious and perfect for the rainy weather we’ve been getting lately. Fall, it is upon us.

The recipe can be found in this fancy cookbook.

Banana Bread

Last week? Insane. The good news is that my Fall 2013 styles are all designed and ready to go where I work. <insert slow clap here>. The even better news is that I squeezed in a trip to Vegas somewhere in the last 14 days. The Best news? I made banana bread yesterday. That I added chocolate chips to. I took a sort of healthy item and added chocolate to it. It’s how I roll.

The recipe below can be found in this book.

Side note: I just realized that it’s a “low-fat” recipe. It tastes really good, so I never would have known that. Which I suppose is a good thing.

Chocolate Snack Cake

Steve and I both have an insane sweet tooth. When we need chocolate, we need chocolate. youknowwhatimean? A few days ago when we were both about to die after dinner, I whipped up this chocolate cake because we already had the ingredients around the house. And when they say prep time is 10 minutes, they actually mean 8. I was back reading my October Vogue and watching season 4 of the Gilmore Girls in no time.

The recipe below can be found in this cookbook.

Put another shrimp on the barbie

Last weekend I decided we should probably take advantage of the 80 degree weather (!) and use the grill. It cooled off too fast to eat outside, but it still tasted delicious inside the house.

We used this cookbook and made a grilled vegetable and orzo salad, and sweet and sour shrimp. Both were fantastic, and they worked surprisingly well together.

 

Homemade truffles

These truffles were divine I tell you, divine. And so easy to make.

The recipe below can be found in this Betty Crocker Cookbook.

(My smeared hand-written note above is to remind myself to use butter that’s at room temperature. It’s not a mind-blowing tip, it just would have taken less time to melt if I hadn’t taken it straight from the fridge.)

I used my vintage nut chopper, which made me feel awesome. Obviously.

Delicious veggie burgers

While on the bus on the way home from work yesterday I was looking at Halloween craft ideas on MarthaStewart.com, I realized I was hungry, I got distracted by the recipe section, and then I found my way to this recipe via the magic of the Internets. True story.

The patties didn’t really stay together as one unit, as a ‘patty’ if you will, but they still tasted purdy darn good. I will definitely make them again, but next time I’ll probably switch out the chick peas for a different bean because I hate the texture, and I wouldn’t use jalapeno. They were just a bit too spicy for me.

Best Pasta Salad

I made what Mollie Katzen claims to be the “best pasta salad”. I might just have to agree with her. I put it together the night before a bbq we had last weekend, and I swear to you it tasted better the longer it sat in the fridge. Best. Leftovers. Ever.

The only photo of the finished salad was taken by Steve’s cousin. But here it is, proof. (Thanks Maggie!)

Side note: I doubled the recipe, and since our giant bowls were already being taken up by various other salads, the pasta salad ended up in a pot. What can you do, eh?

The recipe can be found in this book. If you’re thinking about making the purchase, I would definitely recommend it. The recipes are simple and delicious.