Sunday, December 5, 2021


Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I think most of using us were simply grateful to be with family and friends again.  But I don't doubt we still need to be careful.  Someone near and dear to us came down with Covid or the Delta variant even after having both vaccines and the booster.  He had spent some time with an unvaccinated person and he became very ill.  I think we can't yet become comfortable.  

My kids, grands, and the whole gang have a ritual of playing football every Thanksgiving morning.  This has been going on for longer than I can remember and they always take a group photo.  I'm never there unfortunately (😉) as I'm busy stuffing the turkey and 10:00 is an ungodly hour for me.  Also, I don't know one wit about football in spite of being a pom pom girl in high school, and that was all about shaking my bootie in a short skirt as opposed to watching the game.  

I always say that cooking a turkey is a no-brainer but this year was a near disaster.  This turkey did not have a pop up thingie to indicate it was done, so I used my meat thermometer.  It read 160 degrees but I didn't check the easy movement of the legs and wings which also show it's perfectly done.  It was just as we were carving and ready to serve when this was discovered, so my only choice was to microwave several of the parts one at a time so dinner was super late.  This has never happened...I've overcooked but never undercooked.  I was devastated.  Since dinner was late, most of the guests had consumed a good amount of cocktails and hors d' oeuvres, and I could have had a live turkey trotting about the kitchen and they wouldn't have noticed.

This is a true classic.  Two year-old Lucy must have been terribly hungry.  Look at her go!

I made my tried and true vanilla bark.  There is nothing easier to make and is always a hit with the kids.  I used Chex Party Mix for the "salty" which made it so much easier and cost effective.  I also made a pie with a recipe I had never tried.  It called for caramel sauce and it was my first time making it.  I think I overcooked it (unlike my turkey) and it had a bitter taste.  It definitely wasn't a hit.   

(Photo credit unknown) 

I meant to make these for Thanksgiving but it was just one of my lofty ideas and I didn't.  I make these candied nuts every Christmas.  They are perfect in small bowls scattered here and there during cocktail hour at holiday parties and I also make gift boxes for family and friends with all sorts of sweets.  Little bags of candied nuts are always appreciated.  You can find all sorts of nuts at a good price at Sam's Club and Costco.  I tweaked this recipe a bit so no link.  As Christmas approaches I thought I'd share this recipe.

1 egg white
1 t vanilla extract
3 c nuts such as cashews, pecans, walnuts, almonds...
1/2 c brown sugar
2 t ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.  In a medium size bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla until frothy.  Add the nuts and toss until coated.

In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Add to the nut mixture and toss well.  Spread evenly on the baking sheet.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, stirring and tossing every 15 minutes.  Cool and store in an airtight container.  

Obviously I double and triple the ingredients as I gift them.  Make some people happy and do the same!  I never knew it was the egg white that held everything together.  So with said egg whites, make your own version.

(Photo courtesy Smitten Kitchen) 

Creamy Cheese Spread with Warm Candied Bacon & Dates

This is a winner of an appetizer.  Doesn't it look delicious?  I can't take credit for the photo and it doesn't have to look this purdy, but the flavors are insane. And dates are in season!  This was a delicious appetizer and I was happy to try something different... I'm finding charcuterie boards getting a little old.  This does have cheese but with a nice twist.  You can serve some fruit alongside. With no further ado:

6-8 slices bacon, chopped
2 T chopped fresh rosemary*
1 t brown sugar
1/3 c plus 1 t honey
1/2 t cayenne pepper--more or less as your preference
12 plump dates, pitted and torn
1 10 oz. log creamy goat cheese
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 T olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On the baking sheet toss together the bacon, 1 T rosemary, the brown sugar, 1 t honey, and the cayenne.  Arrange in an even layer.  Scatter the torn dates around.  Bake until the bacon is crisping, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy.  This mixture can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Bring to room temp before serving.

Spoon the cheese mixture into a serving bowl and top with the warm bacon and date.  Drizzle over a little of the honey and rosemary.  Serve with thin toasted bread rounds or crackers.  This serves 8 so you may want to double the recipe.   
*You can find fresh rosemary in the produce section of most grocery stores if you don't/can't grow it.  Like me.

Off I go.  I have a sweet, skinny Balsam Fir sitting in my living room and I'm waiting for the branches to drop before I string the lights.  Every available surface as well as the floor is filled with bins of my Christmas decorations.  My shopping is done and piled up in the guest room.  I love the ritual of wrapping while a Christmas movie is on. Maybe a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of chilled wine.  But first--the tree has to be finished and everything festive in its place. Call me strange but I have sixty-one years of experience of that.😊

Sending love and good wishes for a wonderful holiday season.  I'll be back soon!

Jane x  


Helen said...

Dear Jane, in spite of underdone Turkey and overdone caramel sauce I think I ready happiness and love between the ‘funny’ lines!! Thank you SO much for the recipes, I needed something special for December Book Club party! We missed Thanksgiving this year. Son Carl worked all day at Safeway and I was sick. A two week upper respiratory virus (negative covid) that still lingers, though I am much better. First celebration I ever missed. The photo of your Clan is spectacular! Cheers to you and everyone you love,

Helen said...

“Read” happiness ~~~~~

Lorrie said...

Hello Jane,
Your Thanksgiving sounds like a lot of fun in spite of the underdone and overdone. These things happen to all of us. For our Thanksgiving back in October, I also used a thermometer instead of the wiggle test and the turkey was just barely cooked. Next time we'll know better! That bacon topped cheese dip looks fantastic - bookmarking for Christmas! I hope you enjoy your decorating. We did our tree on Saturday and I finished the rest of the house on Sunday. Now to the baking and wrapping!

Vee said...

Oh I have had a few disasters...last year's turkey was definitely one of them. So many yummy things, though, more than made up for the turkey. Those sweet and savory pecans would be marvelous.

Kit said...

Oh Jane!! Your poor turkey. I have definitely been there. Like you I usually over cook it. I love all your food ideas. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Like you, I am being very careful and only hang out with my two kids. I just had a friend from my childhood die from covid. He hadn't gotten the vaccine. So sad and needless. Kit

babs said...

Win a few; lose a few, right! Your recipes sound yummy!

Junkchiccottage said...

Sounds like you had more wins on Thanksgiving than mishaps so that is a true blessing. We deep fry a turkey so we never have that problem but you still have to use a meat thermometer. Glad you had a great time with your family that is what it is all about. Those recipes sound pretty delish. Have a great rest of the week. xoxo Kris

cindy hattersley design said...


I always read your posts but sometimes fail to comment. Your turkey story had me belly laughing. Thanksgiving is one of those meals you do once a year and it is always tricky in my book. Your spiced nut recipe is one I have used for years...maybe it came from our same Midwestern Grandma? Love the goat cheese recipe filing that one. Happy Holidays my Midwestern Pal!!

Lynne said...

Always . . . yes, ALWAYS . . .
enjoy your posts . . .
I love your descriptive writing first off. Then . . .
raw turkey, (well not raw but not ready to eat on time!)
(thankful for happy hour mellow)
miss adorable, plate of food, munching it down
always one/two to give a try
identify with boxes/bins
transforming gold, yellows, browns to
greens, reds, sparkly and more . . .
I did wonder about baby due time . . . soon k. . . . . .
Touch Football sounds fun . . .
I’d be in the kitchen as well . . .
Happy Days To You Ahead Jane . . .
Merry and Bright . . .
be safe

Jeanie said...

Well, this post just makes me feel so much better about myself! (The other night I stuck a pork tenderloin back in the oven three times and it still seemed a little more rosy than pork should but no one has died yet and I'm waiting for the tapeworm to start eating up some of my insides, which will make a cookie sneak a little less guilt-producing!) We've all had those experiences, but at no time are they more frustrating than at holiday dinner with a crowd. I'm glad the bar was well stocked. That photo of Lucy is priceless!

The nuts and cheese spread sound wonderful and I may have to add them to my nut repertoire for the holidays as an accompaniment to my peppered nuts. I need to get going with baking and wrapping (and finishing the out of towners so they arrive sometime before 2023.) I seem to be in a slow motion zone this season. We still don't know what Christmas will bring, despite vaxxes and boosts. One of our grands (he's 4) has Covid -- a light case, so that's good, but who knows how it will spread -- and Rick has to do a trade show next week, which is not a great environment. Needless to say, we'll isolate on his return till he's tested. A new world.

Have a wonderful season!

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

I'm the queen of under- or over-cooking, so I get it! But, like you said, this year the turkey took a back seat to being able to being together with family. The creamy cheese app sounds delish! Happy Holidays!

La Contessa said...

61 we are THE SAME AGE!
I am not feeling GREAT TODAY and I have ALL THREE TOO!
Our tree is up with lights but I do not have the energy to do it!
I would LOVE it if just magically happened!!!OH HUSBAND CAN YOU DO THE TREE PLEASE!JUST THIS YEAR!
MERRY MERRY.................HUGS TO YOU!

Kim said...

Spent some time catching up with your last two posts today, Jane. Congratulations to your growing family and all their real estate and baby news! Glad you had a lovely Thanksgiving, too. Your story reminded me of the Easter my mom had 20 people for dinner and the longer the lamb cooked the more rancid it smelled. Clearly something was wrong. Thankfully, she had several steaks in the freezer so we were able to eat...but this was long before microwaves so she defrosted them in water. It was a late, late dinner!! xo

Bluebird49 said...

I'll bet Thanksgiving was beautiful at your house! It's not just about food, anyway. 💕
Hope we get to see your house all decorated for Christmas. I always enjoy your posts!

Mary said...

Dearest Jane -
Enjoyed reading about your family doings and the Thanksgiving Day fun and games!
You are are very special close group and I'm happy knowing they all include you and A
in the festivities!
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a better New Year for all. Asheville perhaps?
Stay safe and well - love from us both XX

oldgreymareprimitives said...

Recipes look delish and the family photo! How blessed you are to have so many to love
merry merry to you and yours

Rita C at Panoply said...

How strange, tour story on the undercooked turkey. This very same thing happened to my sister-in-law this year! She had cooked it the day before, and ended up aborting that onw, and made a second turkey after her husband went to the grocery and bought a fresh one. So for 11 people, she had 40# of meat, lol. She thought the first one would be okay because she was planning to put it back in the oven later on Thanksgiving after we were gone, but we'll never know. My bet is she tossed it, lol.
Glad your family still had their traditions in place and enjoyed the apps and drinks. The recipes sound great, all of them.
Carry on the merry merry. 🎄🎅❤

Theresa said...

Oh my, that Thanksgiving turkey story sounds like something I would do:) The picture of little Lucy is adorable, she was hungry!!! Thank you for sharing these recipes. It is always nice to have something to fix that everyone will love! Enjoy your day dear friend, HUGS!

jmac said...

Oh girl……that goat cheese WILL be on my table for Xmas Eve!! Loved your comment and I’ve often thought the same thing…we may be sistahs from anotha mutha!!!!! Yes! Always family first and how lucky are we that we have them in this crazy ugly world right now??!! Will send recipes later today after taking 2 granddaughters to The Nutcracker!!! So excited they are…which makes this YaYa very giddy! And to add to all the craziness of 14 of us on Turkey Day??? Silly PoppyPearl running and playing with everyone like she’d eaten too much Turkey!! She’s a covid dog -got her one week before lockdown so when she’s around people, she’s like a girl who’s never been on a date!!!!
Love ya!!!

Terra said...

That date and cream cheese spread sounds yummy, I may try it. My sons brought me a tree from a Christmas tree farm so it is fresh, and it is 7 feet tall. Lots of room for my ornies. We are going to Christmas eve service at 4 p.m. Have a blessed Christmas.

Karen @ Beatrice Euphemie said...

So sorry your turkey was a hassle, Jane, but it sounds like you made the best of it! Love the family pic - such a beautiful family! The recipes sound wonderful - and love your candy bark. Hope your decorating went smoothly and that you have a beautiful Christmas with the family. Love that photo of the hungry little one :) Hugs xo Karen

Bluebird49 said...

Dear Jane, just stopping in here to wish you a very Merry Christmas, dear girl!I hope you will have time to post again before the end of the year, but if not, I hope you have a lovely, wonderful Christmas and New Year! You are so sweet and deserve so many great things. You give so much of yourself. 💕💕🎄
Love, Trudy

wellnesspitch said...

Without the right electrical exercises in your body, your cells won't get the right nourishment, which is essential for your endurance. Sustenance is likewise about finding what food, supplements and minerals your body needs and what disease you Well Nesspitch in the event that you don't get them.