Thanksgiving Food

I trust you all had a blessed Thanksgiving no matter where you were or what you did! I was excited to cook a big meal because well, I simply love cooking! I had started brining my turkey the Monday evening prior to Thanksgiving. I absolutely LOVE brining and I can't imagine ever cooking my turkey without doing this. It is simply a way to help the meat hold in moisture & breaks down the tough muscle of the meat making it tender. So basically it keeps the meat from getting dry & adds flavor. There are tons of different brine recipes out there but I've used the Master Brine Recipe many times. I double this and sometimes triple it depending on the size of my turkey. This year I made a 20lb turkey so I tripled the brine.

Others have asked where in the world do I store this to brine. I usually have a spare fridge in my garage that I use (though it died earlier this year). Most turkeys have fit into my canner so I let it soak in there. Another way is to use a cooler to put the brine & turkey in. If it's cold enough in your garage or outside, you could place the cooler in either of those places. If not, just dump ice in with the turkey & brine to keep it cold. I like to brine for a minimum of 24 hours but I've done as much as 2 days as well. The longer it soaks, the more flavorful & tender it gets.

I was anxious to get my big bird in the oven this year that I didn't take any pre-baking pictures. But I used a big foil roasting pan (think easy clean up!). I placed foil balls on the bottom of the pan to lift the turkey up a bit so it would bake more evenly. You can place many different things for aromatics inside the turkey. What I did this time was a cut up onion, apple, garlic cloves & some thyme. Since the turkey soaked in the brine, I did not salt it at all. I tucked the wings under the bird & tied the legs together. I separated the skin of the turkey from the breast just enough to fit my hand in to smear some softened butter over the breast of the turkey under the skin. I then lathered on some olive oil of the skin of the turkey.

I started out baking the turkey at 450 for 30 minutes. It browns the turkey a bit helping to seal in the juices. Then I made a foil cover to cover the breast of the turkey. Later on, I eventually covered the legs in foil as well so they would stop browning. Once the turkey was done baking, I pulled it out of the oven to let it set 20-30 minutes while covered entirely in foil. Doing this allows the juices to go back into the meat before slicing. The meat stays plenty hot so no worries about it getting cold.
The finished product!

The day before, I had used turkey gizzards & neck to make a broth & combined that with the broth from the turkey to make gravy. The picture above shows after I drained most of the broth for making the gravy.

I did something unconventional this year. I didn't have enough oven space to bake some of my other dishes with the turkey. So I used my grill to start the baking process. My grill has a temp gauge so I was able to keep it the temperature I would've used to bake them. 

I kept the grill lid closed to "bake"

This actually worked out perfectly!!! Once I pulled the turkey out of the oven, I put these dishes into the oven to finish baking & took off the foil for everything to brown. Oh if you are wondering what is in them, stuffing is down front & up top is green bean casserole & the other is a sweet potato casserole with a pecan & brown sugar topping.

We had planned to eat around 1:30 so I knew everyone would get a little hungry before hand. I put together a turkey shaped veggie tray for everyone to snack at with a side of dip.

thanksgiving turkey veggie tray

To make this, I took a round tray and placed a layer of spinach down for the background. I sliced different colored peppers into rings then cut the rings in half. I sliced cucumbers and stacked them then placed the bottom piece of a pepper on for the face of the turkey. I used drops of cream cheese for the eyes (could use black olives as well. I fanned out baby carrots for part of the tail. For the feet, I took the ends of 2 pieces of celery and made several slits part way up then placed in ice water for a few minutes to create the curling effect. 

It was over all a nice day but we couldn't help but notice the empty chair our sweet 2 year old Noah would've occupied. I am truly thankful for the promise of Heaven knowing I will hold him again. 

What was one of your favorite things you ate on Thanksgiving? Were you thankful for anything in particular this year?

Check out more Thanksgiving recipes from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


The one word that brought me to tears last night. The sound of our 16 month old rainbow baby, pointing at Noah's picture and saying his name in her sweet voice, "Nna-wah".
Olivia next to Noah's Mickey ears in Disney this past September

I can only imagine how much fun the 2 of them would have together if he were here since they are exactly 12 months apart. While we miss Noah every day, the holidays especially are a painful reminder that he isn't physically here with us. The tears come a bit more frequent, the ache is more pronounced. There is just a different feeling to this time of year and some days can be more of a struggle. I long to hold my son, to hold all my children together once again. And it hurts deeply that I can't.

We started a tradition after Noah died by participating in Operation Christmas Child. Since we can't give gifts to our son, we want to bless another little boy in Noah's memory. We fill a shoe box with some practical & some fun goodies to be sent to another part of the world. This past weekend, we finished assembling our box & I admit it made me choke up. The kids all helped pick out different items, each wondering what the boy would like. I couldn't help but wonder what Noah would be into about now. We check marked on the form that we wanted the box to go to a boy the same age as Noah would be. I pray that box brightens the day of a sweet child & that he has the chance to learn about Jesus. 

Corn Dogs

The other night I had a hankering for a good ole corn dog. When I found out my husband & kids had never had one, well, that sealed the deal. I had never made them before as I had only eaten frozen ones from the store. Let me tell ya, making homemade corn dogs far surpasses any frozen kind out there! They were a big hit with everyone, even the man who can be picky.

1 cup of yellow cornmeal (not stoneground)
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2-1 cup of milk
1/8 cup of oil
oil for deep frying
10 hot dogs
10 skewers or popsicle sticks

Push stick into each hot dog & set aside. Mix all ingredients (including the 1/8c oil). Mix until no lumps. Start with 1/2 cup of milk and add more if necessary until it's like pancake batter (not too runny but not too thick). Dip a dog in batter.  Drop in 360-370 degree oil & fry until golden brown. Remove with tongs & drain on paper towel.

A couple tips, when dipping the hot dog in batter, let the excess drip off. Letting it on too think will produce a puffy coating. The hot dog will barely look covered with batter but with puff up in the cooking oil. I used a metal cake pan on my burner to fry them in. It fit 2 dogs at a time in just right without using a ton of oil. I monitored the temp of the oil using my candy thermometer. After they were done frying, I popped them into my toaster oven to stay warm until I got the whole batch done. I had extra batter and I think I could've easily have made 15 or so corn dogs.

Enjoy! =)

Winner of Stamp-a-Scene & an Update

First off, a HUGE thank you to everyone who entered! I was blown away to see 640 entries for this giveaway & wish I could've given more than one prize away. BUT I enjoyed being able to do this and plan to host some more giveaways in the future with another one coming before Christmas, so stay tuned!

Thank you all for sharing something you are looking forward to this Christmas. I enjoyed reading what each of you posted and it seemed a common theme revolved around friends & family. And to those who mentioned new babies coming (and fostering), congrats to you on those new, precious lives! Also, a  big welcome to the new followers joining me here in my little corner of the web.

I sent you an email. :)

I realize it's been awhile since I've gotten caught up around here. I had started the Capturing Your Grief project during Pregnancy & Infant Loss awareness month last month but didn't get a chance to finish it in time.  I had some up & down days with grief, my twins turned 13 & had a birthday party/sleepover complete with an RV parked in our driveway as "their" place for the night, I took 200 portraits to edit/proof for our homeschool co-op yearbook and just dealing with some other things around here. Life happens, so it goes.  One thing I've learned since Noah died is to just take things one day at a time, after all, isn't that what the Bible tells us?

 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."- Matthew 6:34 

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" -Luke 12:25-26

It's my hope to get back into posting a bit more often again now. I've got some new recipes to share I've recently tried, some cute pictures of the kids and even some link-ups I'd like to host. I also look forward to hearing from you, what you are cooking for Thanksgiving/Christmas, special traditions you have, etc.

"By God’s grace, beauty so often rises from sacrificial love."
-Jedd Medefind

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List & Giveaway!

It's hard to believe Christmas is right around the corner. Many of you have probably heard of Melissa & Doug products. They have great toys & educational items that are durable & great for kids of all ages. We have some of their puzzles & a wooden train for many years & they have held up beautifully through all our kids.

Recently, they published their Terrific Twenty List made up of 20 of the top holiday gifts for 2012. There are arts & crafts, wooden toys as well as things for both the young kids & older ones as well.

To launch this awesome toy list, they are having a Terrific Twenty Giveaway on their facebook page. They are giving away one of their toys from the list for 20 days. This started on November 6 so you have time to still jump in!

AND if that wasn't awesome enough, they are letting me give away one of these awesome toys to one of my readers!!! I am giving away a Stamp-a-Scene Fairy Garden.

When my kids saw this one, they were drooling over all the possibilities of things they could do with it. Make cards for friends, make a story book & use the stamps to illustrate it or just make creative pictures. There is a 2 colored washable stamp pad & 5 color pencils included so they can even color in the stamps & decorate them as they wish.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Check out a list of other blogs who are also giving away other Melissa & Doug items.

To Be Educated

I recently heard this poem from our homeschool co-op & wanted to share it. My greatest purpose & prayer in schooling my children isn't to focus on worldly knowledge but to instill Godly wisdom first & foremost! 

To Be Educated
If I learn my ABC's, and read 600 words per minute, and can write with perfect penmanship,
But have not been shown how to communicate with the Designer of all language,

I have not been educated.

If I can deliver an eloquent speech and persuade you with my stunning logic,
But have not been instructed in God's wisdom,
I have not been educated.

If I have read Shakespeare and John Locke and can discuss their writings with keen insight,
But have not read the greatest of all books - The Bible - and have not knowledge
I have not been educated.

If I can explain the law of gravity and Einstein's theory of relativity, 
But have never been instructed in the unchangeable laws of the One Who orders our universe
I have not been educated.

If I can classify animals by their family, genus and species,
And can write a lengthy scientific paper that wins an award,
But have not been introduced to the Maker's purpose for all creation,
I have not been educated.

If I can recite the Gettysburg Address and the Preamble to the Constitution,
But have not been informed of the hand of God in the history of our country,
I have not been educated.

If I can play the piano, the violin, six other instruments, and can write music that moves men to tears,
But have not been taught to listen to the Director of the universe and worship Him,
I have not been educated.

If I can run cross-country races, star in basketball and do 100 push-ups without stopping,
But have never been shown how to bend my spirit to do God's will, 
I have not been educated.

If I can identify a Picasso, describe the style of da Vinci,
and even paint a portrait that earns an A+
But have not learned that all harmony and beauty comes from a relationship with God,
I have not been educated.

If I graduate with a perfect 4.0 and am accepted at the best university with a full scholarship,
But have not been guided into a career of God's choosing for me,
I have not been educated.

If I become a good citizen, voting at each election and fighting for what is moral and right,
But have not been told of the sinfulness of man and his hopelessness without Christ,
I have not been educated.

However, if one day I see the world as God sees it, and come to know Him,
Whom to know is life eternal, and glorify God by fulfilling His purpose for me,
Then, I have been educated!

-By Carolyn Caines

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Proverbs 1:7