Don’t think I don’t notice that my average days between posts is ever-growing. I am well aware. I feel like at this time of the year though, I get a pass. Not only is it the holiday season which is hectic for everyone, but we also get to celebrate this little man’s birthday on December 1st.

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(Thank you Stephanie over at Caught Fire Photography!)

Add in that I alternate between hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and for good measure, tack on a new project that I just accepted at work. Ladies and gentlemen, that is how you successfully make a sub-par blogger.

Quite frankly, I’m still too mentally drained from my two weeks of trying to be Martha Stewart, so this blog may lack my usual wit and charm. I’ll try to make up for it with pretty pictures.

So Thanksgiving. This is my fourth round of hosting, and I was determined to do less running around like a crazy person. For the most part, I was relatively successful. At one point, around noon, my husband and I looked at each other and were like, “What should we be doing?” Everything was clean and as ready as it could be at that moment. Seeing as very few events in our lives go that way, I considered that a pretty large Myrick success. How did I manage this? A LOT of prep the night before. I mean like five hours’ worth. In that five hours, I only had one freak out moment, which again, is pretty good for me. Never mind that the freak out resulted in me making rosemary bread from scratch for the first time when I was only planning on making refrigerated biscuits. On the up side, I now know how to make rosemary bread from scratch.

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MMMMMMMM.

I kept decor simple, opting for my thanksgiving bunting banner (three years old and still love love love it), flameless candles (Target), pinecones (Dollar store), faux eucalyptus leaves which I broke apart and arranged (Michaels), clementines that my nephew later ate for a snack, and little bags for silverware (Michaels). I also created place cards using kraft paper and this template.

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My little one’s daycare is the absolute best, and they helped my son add some great, homemade decorations.

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There is actual popcorn on this corn. So cute.

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Festive wreath

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What’s Thanksgiving with a little turkey decoration?!

Although my decorations could never compete with these beauties, my contribution was a Thankful Tree that I made using tree branches (Michaels, but I guess you could collect your own if you wanted) and tags made from scrapbook paper using my circle puncher (a great investment, if you are completely incompetent when it comes to using scissors).

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Everyone was a good sport and completed a couple circles, which made it look far better than a vase full of dead twigs.

For the menu, I also went for simplicity. Sarah Hearts is the brains behind this elegant menu template, which I printed on shimmer cardstock. Everyone completed one and plates were made ahead of time, a trick I learned from a good family friend who has successfully hosted Thanksgiving for years. It means everyone gets to eat together, and I don’t have to spend extra time putting food in easily passable, pretty dishes.

I also kept the cooking simple, with the exception of two recipes which I’ll include here. My green bean casserole that didn’t include cream of anything and sweet potato/cauliflower fritters were huge hits!

Green Bean Casserole (altered slightly from Good Dinner Mom)

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded diced
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1½ pounds green beans, with ends snapped off and snapped in half
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 can of fried onions
Directions
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion, and saute until it begins to soften, about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook until softened and most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside to cool.
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add beans, and cook until bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and plunge into ice bath to stop cooking. When cooled, toss drained beans with onion/pepper mixture; set aside.
  3. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ¼ cup flour, whisk constantly until mixture begins to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk, and continue whisking until mixture has thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in cayenne, nutmeg, and the remaining teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour over beans, and toss to combine.
  4. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking pan. Spread half the green-bean mixture over the bottom. Sprinkle on half the grated Parmesan, and spread with the remaining green beans. Combine the remaining Parmesan and the breadcrumbs, and sprinkle over casserole. Cover with foil, and refrigerate until about 45 minutes prior to serving. (I did all of this the night before)
  5. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Cook casserole covered in the foil, for 25-30 minutes, until heated through. Remove foil. Sprinkle fried onions on top of casserole and cook another 10 minutes.

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I apologize that I don’t have any pictures of this finished product, but it pretty much looks like a regular green bean casserole. As you can imagine, I was a smidge busy at this point in the Thanksgiving meal.

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Me, mashing potatoes, in case you don’t believe I had nothing better to do.

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Fritters (teeny, tiny alterations from Better Homes & Gardens!)
Ingredients

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks (**NOTE: I found cartons of cut sweet potatoes in my produce section and almost cried with joy. I would highly recommend saving yourself this step if you can!)
  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 2lb), cored and broken into small florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion (1 cup), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chopped sage
  • 2 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1.5 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sweet potatoes and cauliflower in separate shallow baking pans. Drizzle with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until browned and just tender, stirring halfway through. Let stand 10 minutes.
  2. In a food processor combine onion and garlic; pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a very large bowl. Add cauliflower to processor and pulse until chopped; transfer to the bowl with onion. Process sweet potatoes, half at a time, in food processor until coarsely mashed. Add to bowl with cauliflower.
  3. Add sage, rosemary, salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne pepper to bowl with potato mixture. Stir to combine. Add egg and flour and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate potato mixture for 2 hours or up to 2 days. IMG_7182
  4. Add 1-inch of oil to a large skillet; heat over medium heat for 10 minutes or until 350 degrees F. Place panko in a shallow dish. Using a 1/3-cup measure, shape the sweet potato mixture into 16 balls and roll in panko to coat. Add to oil in skillet, 5 or 6 at a time, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until browned and heated through (160 degrees F), turning to brown evenly. Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray to drain.                                                          IMG_7195

**NOTE: I actually made these completely (including the bread crumbs) the night before. I took them out with the green bean casserole to start warming up a little and then put them in the oven for about 25 minutes. They were just as yummy as if I had pan fried them as the turkey was being carved.

All in all, everything was delicious and we had minimal leftovers. And it’s a good thing, because a couple days later, this lady moved into full-blown Third Birthday Party mode (more to come)…

 

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