Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!  Two years after hosting our first family Thanksgiving, B and I were back to it again.  Yesterday I was kinda freaking out about it and never ever wanted to host again.  But it was a great day, of course, because we were with family, and really put our hearts into preparing food for their enjoyment.  And the smoke detector only went off once.

Only minor issue of the day was that I had bought Fleischmann’s Original, which has dairy, instead of Unsalted, which is Kosher pareve.  A quick internet search informed us that butter-flavored Crisco is also pareve, so that went in the stuffing.  I don’t eat stuffing, but no one else complained.

As for my desserts, I tried out Bananabelle’s Apple Crisp (great for vegan, gluten-free, or Kosher guests).  My attempt had too much crumble for the amount of apples, but it was still pretty tasty.  I also reprised the Pumpkin Cheesecake, because I prefer that to pie.  It didn’t sink in the middle this time, but still cracked.

Today I am thankful for my cat who is keeping my legs warm, my two hands that can make food, my mom who helped me cook the turkey at 8am, my husband who learned how to use the KitchenAid mixer to make mashed potatoes and then dried all the dishes, snow that looks beautiful and doesn’t stick to the road, holidays off from work, and leftovers.  I am truly blessed.

Rare Cheesecake Pocky

WP_000570One of my coworkers visited an Asian import store on a weekend trip and was kind enough to bring me back a treat: a new flavor of pocky!

Pocky, well-known to anime fans, is a Japanese sweet consisting of a biscuit stick with a sweet coating, classically chocolate.  I have a huge sweet tooth so of course I love it.

I was at first confused by this box.  “Rare” cheesecake?  Is this some kind of legendary cheesecake? And why are there lemons? WHAT DOES IT MEAN???

Apparently, rare cheesecake (“rare” meaning “unbaked”) is common in Japan; this may explain the lemon, which would be a common ingredient in no-bake cheesecakes.  I love cheesecake, so I was excited to see what the taste was like.

The little blue bubble at the top says “hiyashite mo oishii” which basically means “also delicious cold.”  So we put the box in the fridge before we tried it, which turned out well.

The pocky actually had a kind of pungent smell, like cheese, but the flavor was totally different. It was kind of a light, sweet flavor with a hint of lemon.  The aftertaste had a little bite.  So, kinda like what I would expect from “cheesecake” but also kinda not.

All in all, this flavor was ok, but I think I like plain chocolate or strawberry better.  I’m pretty plain in my tastes!

Merry Sithmas!

If you’re on Twitter, you should follow @DeathStarPR.

Hope everyone had a nice Chanukah and Christmas.  My house had a visitor on Christmas Eve:R2D2While I was at Mass, my husband wrapped my presents and made them into the shape of R2D2!!  That was as awesome as the presents themselves!

Christmas is when I do most of my baking during the year.  My mom and I pick a day to do all our cookie making; this year we managed to do Rice Krispie treats, peanut butter blossoms, M&M cookies, and cut-out sugar cookies (yes, I have Star Wars cookie cutters.  I made some holiday Boba Fetts.)  Instead of Buckeyes this year, we made peanut butter mice!  I took them to work where they were a big hit.  Here’s the recipe.  They were not too hard to make, you just have to make sure to get the ears and tail attached quickly before the candy coating sets.  I also made a peanut butter cheesecake for Christmas dessert (I think it was my husband’s favorite of all the cheesecakes I’ve made so far).

Officially a grown-up

Well, we have passed the initiation ceremony: my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving this year.  I feel very grown-up.  There are paintings on my walls.  I own wineglasses.  I cooked a turkey.  Hello, adulthood.

We had both of our families over for a noon dinner and it was really lovely.  We put in a lot of hard work to get the house together in the weeks leading up to it, but it was all worth it.  Everyone had a nice time, even my little niece (it was her first Thanksgiving).  I have a lot to be thankful for this year: a good job, house, family that lives near me, and a husband who is my reason to get out of bed every morning (and not just because he puts his cold feet on me!)  I am much happier than I was about this time last year, and I am grateful.

I had a lot of fun decorating.  I made place cards for everyone at the table:

I made these at a scrapbooking retreat recently.  The Creative Memories Border Maker was used to make the cute fence and pumpkins.

For dessert, instead of the traditional pie, I made a pumpkin cheesecake from scratch, which turned out great.  I used the Cheesecake Factory’s recipe here: Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake  To make the pumpkin puree, I cut two little pie pumpkins in half and baked them for about an hour at 350°.  I scooped out the flesh and pureed it with a stick blender (which worked much better than a regular blender).  Everyone loved it!

After dinner my family stayed to take a walk and play a little Carcassonne.  Yesterday I slept in and watched some TV Christmas movies as it snowed outside; my husband had some friends over to play D&D.  I went out to do some shopping, and then really wished I hadn’t.  I went back out today for Small Business Saturday and made some purchases at Wayside Workshop in Aurora and at The Learned Owl in Hudson (one of the few bookstores left in the area).  So, my Christmas shopping is started but definitely not finished!