November 19, 2016

Five Football-Free Thanksgiving Traditions

I love Thanksgiving.

I love the season it's in. (Fall is my favorite.)

I love the homey nature of it. 

I love that commercialism has never managed to take it over.

I love that it focuses on food and gratitude.

For the record, I'm not opposed to football. I'm a lifelong Mitten State girl. I think we have some football team that plays every year on Thanksgiving Day. If other people in my house want to make the game part of the festivities, that's fine with me. I'll be in the kitchen with the pies.

I mentioned in my last post that when I was growing up, my mom had specific expectations about what constituted a "proper" Sunday dinner. 

For me, these five traditions are what make a "proper" pigskin required.

1. Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember, by Barbara Rainey. This is our family's go-to Thanksgiving book, and we read it every year over the course of the season. Filled with rich details about the voyage to the new world (condensed version: this was no Carnival cruise), life for the Pilgrims (condensed version: this was no "woo hoo, we got away from jolly old England" vacation), and the history of Thanksgiving as a national holiday (condensed version: Sarah Josepha Hale was one determined woman), this instant heirloom also offers President Lincoln's entire 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation and journal pages for recording your family's personal thanksgivings. 

2. George Winston's "Thanksgiving" from December. Always the musical backdrop for our Thanksgiving dinner. Winston's Autumn album is a nice long-play option, too. Soothing, somehow autumnal music, and no lyrics to compete with conversation.

3."Turkey Terrific" sandwiches. I love Thanksgiving dinner, and I love Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. And the best delivery system I know of for those leftovers is a sandwich that puts them all together. Food Network featured the "Turkey Terrific" sandwich from Provisions restaurant in Nantucket one year on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: That I'm Thankful For," and the 3/4 of my family that will have anything to do with turkey got hooked immediately. (My younger daughter would be a vegetarian except that she's not all that crazy about vegetables.) 

Just pile leftover turkey and dressing in between a couple slices of sturdy bread you've spread with cranberry sauce (or, as I do, with cranberry "butter" I make by cooking cranberries and a little sugar together and then putting the whole mixture through the food mill). Yes, I know it sounds weird. But so do lots of things before you find out how wonderful they are.

4. A Charlie Brown Thankgsgiving and The Mayflower Voyagers. Leave it to the Peanuts gang to tell the Thanksgiving story in their own fun-but-factual inimitable fashion. Even my teenagers love to watch this double feature. For one thing, it makes them thankful they weren't Pilgrims.

5. Talk around the table. It's hard to beat the classic "go around and tell something you're thankful for" standby. I love to hear what people come up with on the spur-of-the-moment (unless they anticipate the exercise and prepare their remarks ahead of time). But last year, I changed things up and incorporated Thanksgiving Scriptures with our table name cards. Each card had (appropriately enough) the guest's name on it, along with a Bible verse that related to the day. Each verse contained a word that started with one letter of the word "thanks." It helped that we had six guests to go with the six letters; I'm not creative enough to know what I would have done if we'd had more or fewer than six. Anyway. We started with whoever had "T" and ended with whoever had "S," and it was all very pleasant, if possibly a little Martha Stewart-meets-Sunday School teacher-ish. One of my new year's goals as a blogger is to figure out how to make those free printables every other blogger in the world offers, but in the meantime, here's a glimpse of the Scriptures I used...

Got a non-negotiable Thanksgiving tradition of your own to share? I'd love to hear about it in a comment or on Facebook...or, better yet, over on Syncopated Mama, at my friend Lisa's 5 After 5 party that's all about Thanksgiving traditions.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving! 
(And if football is part of it for you, here's hoping your team wins.)

**This post may have been shared at some of these lovely link parties.**

November 10, 2016

Brownie-Batter Stuffed Crescent Rolls

I've already mentioned here in my bloggy ramblings that food traditions were very important in my family when I was growing up.

A brief recap:

1. Saturday breakfast was always pancakes, waffles, or French toast. Cereal need not apply. (I'm not making a moral judgement against cereal. I'm only saying my mom didn't serve it for breakfast on Saturday mornings.)

2. Saturday supper was often sandwiches.

3. Sunday breakfast was always some sort of coffee cake or muffins. Sorry, cereal, you're out here, too.

4. Sunday dinner came with its own set of rules:
  • the gelatin salad category must be represented.
  • "international foods" are not permitted, save for Swiss steak on account of Swiss neutrality on all things political and gastronomical.
  • Sunday dinner must be eaten as soon as possible after church IN the formal dining room ON the "good" dishes.

These days, as a mom myself, I do make pancakes (or, less often, waffles or French toast) on Saturday mornings. We do sometimes have sandwiches for Saturday supper, mostly because then I can call it Sammie Saturday. Where Sunday dinner is concerned...well, I've gone on the record about my deviation from those rules. (Sorry, mom.)

As for Sunday breakfast: I call that the throw-away meal of the week, because I do not even try to make anything "healthy." We have chocolate chip bagels and doughnuts and other forms of white-flour sinfulness. 

But my family's favorite are these Brownie-Batter Stuffed Crescent Rolls.

In the "olden days"--before I was a full-on band mom who spends all her time feeding marching musicians--I made these with a homemade sour-cream crescent roll dough like this one from

Fast-forward to the present, though, and I make them with crescent roll dough from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. 


Now you know. Please forgive me.

If you're still with me, here's the deal on these: I stuff them with a chocolate filling straight out of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich. This filling is like brownie batter (hence, the name of this recipe) and works so much better in this application than straight-up chocolate chips or even melted chocolate. NOT that I am opposed to chocolate in any form, mind you.

I freely admit that Sunday mornings at our house are generally the time when the members of my family like each other the least. (For more gory details on this weekly phenomenon, check out item #2 on this post.) But in my experience, these rolls have a 100% success rate of increasing our tolerance of each other by at least 1%. Whether you've got a Sunday-morning food tradition to honor or want to start one yourself, bake up a batch of these yourself, and watch the love flow.

Brownie-Batter Stuffed Crescent Rolls {print}

1 recipe Brownie Batter Filling (life will be easier if you do this the night before or up to a couple weeks ahead)
1-2 tubes refrigerated crescent roll dough (I used reduced-fat...I know: the irony)
1 egg white, beaten
granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line (a) baking sheet(s) (one for one tube, two for two) with parchment paper or with foil you have oiled or buttered or cooking-sprayed VERY well. Unroll your crescent dough and separate into triangles. Press or roll each one out slightly to flatten and "enlarge" (more room for the filling). Pampered Chef's pastry roller is perfect for this task, but you could also use a rolling pin.

Plop about 1 1/2 teaspoons of your Brownie Batter Filling in the center of the wide end of each triangle. Roll up, starting with the wide end, pressing the sides of the dough around the filling to encase it.

Brush each roll with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes until golden. Cool on the sheet pan on a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving warm. These are best eaten pretty much straight-away after they're baked, which in my opinion is one of their best features.

Brownie Batter Filling 

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I am IN LOVE with these unsweetened chocolate discs from King Arthur Flour...worth the splurge)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, cold
2 tablespoons flour

Melt the butter and chocolate together...I love the microwave for this. Stir frequently until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and beat in sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring until completely incorporated. Beat in the flour until the mixture is smooth and glossy and comes away from the sides of the bowl or pan. Scrape into a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until needed.

You won't use all this filling in the rolls, but it will keep for several weeks at least. It's not bad eaten right out of the container with a spoon while you're standing at the kitchen counter...which, in my opinion, is one of its best features.

**This post may have been shared at some of these lovely link parties.**

November 2, 2016

Five People to Thank Today

When my husband and I were perfect parents--before we had children--we took a parenting that class that espoused, among about other 1000 things, the lovely practice of teaching sign language to babies. My husband and I determined that we would do this and imagined entire conversations in sign language between ourselves and our 6-month-old. 

Insert reality check in which we JUST WANTED TO GET THE CHILD TO SLEEP, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. We whittled our "conversation" down to a few useful words and phrases, starting with "thank you." We began with this because "thank you" is so much more than a phrase: it's an entire mindset and an attitude of the heart. In fact, being thanked can completely alter the tone of someone's day. 

Of course, you are not at all stingy with your thanks and certainly don't need a list to tell you who to give it to. But I'd love to have you click over to Coffee & Conversation on and check out five specific thankees whose day you might just make a little (or a lot) better by your gratitude.

And while I've got you, thank you for being here. You've already made my day better.

**This post may have been shared at some of these lovely link parties.**