As a foodie, Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday because it involves so much preparing and cooking and baking, and ultimately ends in totally gorging yourself. It’s the best. Last year, I presented you with several posts about Thanksgiving foods and drinks, to show my love for the holiday. It was six different blog posts….not that I needed to split the massive meal up or anything. But last year was a fun time of melding our two families Thanksgiving’s together, for the first time. This year was a little more back to “normal” since we’re in Virginia again and we had a traditional Grady Thanksgiving, whatever we consider that. And by our traditional meal I mean we ditched some favorites like broccoli casserole and instead substituted a Gouda and Bacon Mac n’ Cheese. Will also chose to cook the turkey breast in a new way, which despite smoking up the whole house, turned out really well. We brought back some comfort foods like Kay’s stuffing (my favorite!!!!) and Swiss Vegetable Medley. So today I will present you with only four new Thanksgiving recipes!

Hello Dollies

Posted by Megan | Dessert, Guest, Misc

These little bars are a guaranteed hit, if you’re looking for a simple to make crowd-pleaser. The amount of time they lasted in my office? About 30 minutes…and that was without everyone around. And since then? One of my coworkers has mentioned almost every day “how great it would be to have some Hello Dollies around here”. I think he liked them. Anyways, so long as people don’t have a nut allergy or dislike coconut, you should be pretty good to go with these puppies. My mother’s been making them for years and I always assumed they were really complicated, because they look like they have so many intricate details. Turns out I was wrong, as I learned when she passed along the recipe to me at my bridal shower.* I will warn that despite being easy to make, they are super messy to eat, so always have napkins or a plate nearby!

I’ve realized as a food blogger, that sometimes you run out of things to talk about. The chatter goes with the ebbs and flows of your life and centralizes itself around the food you are writing about. When you sit down to type a post, you typically turn to one of two topics: the food you’re sharing or what’s going on in your life. I’ve found myself gravitating towards the food recently, which certainly is the crux of the blog and should be the main focus. But how many times do you want me to tell you about how salmon is our new favorite fish and this recipe outdoes the last as far as cooking method? Granted, each new recipe we try unveils delightful surprises and we may find new preferences, but I feel like I say that in almost every post. Ginger salmon? Great way to bake the fish and a super standard yet satisfying glaze. Fiery kale? Fun new way to flavor kale – red pepper flakes are always a good option. So delish. A sweet salmon complimented by savory/spicy kale.

Things are really beginning to wind up here at the Grady-Taylor household. Will’s trying to plow through his last presentations/papers for the semester, while I’m over here trying to put the finishing touches on our wedding. We knew this fall would be super busy and even though we had the foresight to recognize that little fact, it doesn’t make it any easier! I don’t know about Will, but speaking for myself, I feel completely unfocused about 95% of the time…even in yoga, which is when I’m supposed to be letting go. But once the wedding’s over, I know things will calm down a little bit (read: a LOT) as we cruise through the spring semester, enjoying lazy weekends together and revving back up for spring racing season. Can I tell you how excited I am to have weekends to do things like take long runs, go to wineries/historic sites, and bake? Superduperexcited. I’m hoping for an onslaught of new recipes come spring.

There are very few occasions where I make dinner on my own. Even after almost two years of being “taught,” I still don’t get in the kitchen by myself with vegetables, grains, or meats, very often. Baked goods? On it. Cooking? There’s a reason the blog is named after Will and not “Cooking with Megan”. Hint: it’s because it doesn’t happen! But this was on dish that I was pretty excited about and thus, significantly more motivated than usual, to make. Found it on Pinch of Yum and knew that it was on the “to try” list immediately. What I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to find paneer! After visiting four grocery stores in Williamsburg, we finally had to look for an Indian grocery store in Newport News. Luckily for us, there were two options, so we picked the one with better reviews. It was probably the best Indian grocery store we’ve been too! Neatly organized, huge selection, and a butcher in the back half, are a few reasons why this place is awesome. We definitely know where to go for our Indian, Middle Eastern, and other “out there” food needs from now on. And of course they had plenty of paneer cheese 🙂

I feel like a lot of my posts start out describing how crazy I think Will is for wanting to make something. It’s kind of unfair of me to keep saying that because I think I’ve learned by now that he’s got a great barometer for cooking. Silly me. But you have to admit, when someone suggests lemons as the first they are ever going to try to preserve, you might give them a funny look, too. Blame it on Will’s interest in Middle Eastern, and more specifically Moroccan, foods. We have come across enough recipes that call for preserved lemons that it was finally time to breakdown and either buy or make them. We just so happened to have a few extra lemons on hand from a recipe that never got made, so we bought some more and figured “why not?” And off we went into preserving land.

Chicken in Milk

Posted by Megan | Chicken, Dinner, Meat

Y’all, I haven’t given you a chicken recipe in a long time! I didn’t even realize how long it had been until I went back and reviewed and saw that Tandoori Chicken was the last chicken recipe I posted. Even though it was only a couple months ago that we made it, it feels like a lifetime ago with how quickly things are moving along in our lives right now. Superfast. Considering we had another chicken recipe for dinner tonight (that was knee-slappin’ good, according to Will….who actually slapped his knee in proclamation of how good it was), I was inspired to get my butt in gear and share this one with you. Particularly because it’s probably one of the most unique yet tasty ways to bake a whole chicken. I didn’t believe Will when he showed me the recipe, but since it received glowing reviews, we hoped for the best. Turns out the reviews were right!

Cauliflower is not normally something you may turn to for cooking. It’s not something we normally would try out either, to be honest. But after Pinch of Yum posted her Cauliflower E-Cookbook, I became intrigued to try some cauliflower recipes before investing in my first e-cookbook. I gave Will the challenge of helping be on the lookout for enticing cauliflower recipes. He wasn’t exactly thrilled by my proposition, but he wasn’t overly against it either. I think deep down inside he was interested in trying out cauliflower as a main ingredient, too. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. So when he stumbled upon an article on Buzzfeed and saw the turmeric cauliflower recipe, it didn’t take much convincing on our part to give it a shot. There are plenty of other fantastic recipes on there to try, but we were on a cauliflower mission at the time, so the idea of cooking cauliflower in turmeric seemed great.

There are some days where I can’t wait to get home to sit down with a warm bowl of leftovers and start blogging. And then sometimes I scarf down those leftovers, I go on a cleaning-the-kitchen bing/prep all the food for tomorrow/clean the apartment and then get to sit down to blog. Life is never dull, I must say that. I had a coworker today ask me why I didn’t watch movies and more specifically, what I did with my free time. I laughed and said I didn’t have any free time and he challenged how that was possible. So I began to give him a rundown of my day-to-day activities…he told me to stop talking by the time I got to Wednesday (and I started on Monday) because it was stressing him out. I then also explained to him what every single weekend between September to December has involved/will involve. He left the room! Needless to say, I think I got my point across that “free time” are not two words that coexist in my vocabulary. C’est la vie.

This recipe was based on a Pinterest post for a yummy looking Mediterranean salad that I wanted to make one week. Will decided to morph it into a slightly altered Mason Jar salad and we’ve been eating variations of it for lunch ever since! Based on the ideas from our original Mason Jar Salad, this salad was a combination of quinoa, pea pods, carrots, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, grilled chicken, spinach, feta, and balsamic vinaigrette. From that original idea, these salads have continuously morphed to include regular tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, other cheese (like goat and havarti) and a variety of dressings (including TJ’s feta dressing). We have mixed and matched ingredients depending on what’s on sale, what looks intriguing, and what we’re craving. The core ingredients that have remained are the quinoa and the spinach–everything else has become a variable. Will really likes malleable recipes, so creating Mason Jar salads really suits him!