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Thanksgiving my  FAVORITE holiday of the whole year!

I love Thanksgiving because it is just like Christmas, without all the gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I love buying gifts for my family and friends, but gifts just put so much pressure on everyone for Christmas. Thanksgiving is all the yummy food, chilly weather and family, with out all the fuss of gifts.  Perfect holiday for me!

Each year I make a few turkeys, and each time I tell someone I made or will be making a turkey, they act like I am making a miracle happen.  Turkey making is something people see mom or grandma doing, not something they themselves could pull off.  Let me tell you. You can make a delicious Turkey!

Honestly the hardest part of making a turkey is getting it into the oven, and the prep involved, not actually roasting the turkey.  One thing I have noticed about several of the posts I have read on how to prepare a turkey, they skip over most of the steps between actually buying your turkey and seasoning the turkey. Today I thought I would share with you more of the tactical details of getting that perfectly delicious turkey home from the grocery store and onto your dinner table!

Last week, I had a potluck for work and volunteered to bring the turkey. Again, I got a lot of “wow, you are acutally making a turkey?” and “when did you have time to make the turkey”.  If only everyone knew how easy making a turkey could be…

Let me tell you how…

The most obvious place to start is by picking up a turkey! I like the Jennie- O brand turkey because it comes with a gravy packet, which I love using to make my gravy.

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Picking the right size of turkey is always key. For my potluck I bought a 14 and half pound turkey, to feed my team of 13.   I like to go with 1 lb of turkey per guest.  I know this might not seem like a lot, and is smaller then the 2 lb per person you may have heard before, but trust me, there is always so much food on a Thanksgiving table that 1 lb per person is plenty.

However, the smallest turkey I would buy is a 10lb turkey, regardless of if it is only 2-4 people.  Left over turkey is always yummy on a sandwich the next day!

Also,  never pay full price for a turkey! Most of the time during the holidays you can find coupons or deals for less than $1.00 per lb. This guy was $.89 per lb with a coupon.

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Now it is time to thaw this bird! You will need several days to thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, or several hours in a sink of cold water.  I prefer the sink of cold water, because I swear that the refrigerator takes longer than they advise. If you are not sure how long it will take to thaw your turkey you can use this website to deteremine time. Now if you are reading this the day before Thanksgiving, you will need the cold water method ;)

Once thawed, its on to bathing your turkey.  This is where things get gross and most people decide turkey making is not for them. Place your turkey into the sink, and remove all the packaging.  Then stick your hand into the cavity of the turkey and pull out the neck of the turkey. Next, lift the flap of skin on the “butt” of the turkey and pull out the bag that has the turkey organs.  Gross, I know, but this is a very necessary step in your turkey making process.

Some people cook these in the pan with the turkey.  My grandma boils them, grinds them up and puts them in her stuffing.  Most people, throw them away.  I am most people.

Once you have disposed of the organs, your turkey needs a cold water bath.  Run cold water over your turkey and rub down the skin, removing any remaining feathers or any “skin gunk”. Yes, that is a technical term.  Cleaning your turkey is a must before roasting.

Here is where I am going to remind you that we are making a basic turkey, nothing fancy. There are many recipes out there for fantastic brines, great herb combinations to stuff your bird with, or delicious marinade injects, but we aren’t doing anything fancy with this bird. At this point in the instructions feel free to use one of the other recipes to jazz your turkey up. I am one to normally brine my turkey too, but it isn’t NEEDED to have a delicious turkey. The basics are good too!

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Once your turkey is clean, place it into your roasting pan, breast side up. Most recipes call for placing it on a rack in the pan. I don’t find a rack is needed.  If you are using a disposable aluminum roasting pan, make sure you put it on a cookie/baking sheet before you place the turkey inside the pan, this will make it easier for lifting in and out of the oven.  Next, pat your turkey down to dry the skin.

You will need to prep your roasting veggies at this point. Its the basic cast of characters; celery, carrots and onion.    These will be stuffed into the cavity of the turkey and discarded prior to eating. I don’t even peel my carrots, just wash them and cut in half.  Adding the veggies will help make the drippings taste even better for your gravy.

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On to another gross part… pulling the skin away from the breasts of the turkey. You will need to wiggle your fingers between the skin and the meat, across the entire breast. Do this part slowly, as you don’t want to tear the skin, you still need it to protect the breast while roasting.  This process will allow you to season the meat under the skin.

Just don’t think about it, dive right in…

(side note, my hand looks huge in this photo…

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In our basic turkey, there still are a few seasonings to add.  #1 Butter!

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Now that you have pulled the skin away from the breast meat, you will have the perfect pocket to place small slices of butter between the layers. This will help crisp up your turkey skin while roasting. Some people slather the outside of the bird with butter or oil, I prefer to trap it under the skin. This helps seal it in, and prevents any of it just running off into the pan. If there is any run off, it is right into the meat of the turkey. Mmmm mmm!

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The last step before popping the bird into the oven, season the heck out of the skin with salt and black pepper.

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Time for roasting.  Place the turkey on a low rack in your oven at 325 degrees, un-covered and with no water or liquid added to the pan.

Roast according to the directions on the package for the size of turkey you have, basting every  20-30 minutes after the first hour.  If your turkey has a thermometer in it already, like mine did, you can watch for that to pop out.  I always double check the temp in the thickest part of the breast meat with a kitchen thermometer.  You want your meat to be at 180 degrees.  The last hour of cooking watch your turkey very carefully.  Some ovens will cook faster than others. You don’t want to dry your turkey out by cooking it too long.

Once the turkey is done, allow it to rest for a half hours before carving. This will allow the meat to finish cooking, and keep your fingers from frying when carving.  Use the 30 minutes to make gravy from your delicious drippings.  Your pan will be full of drippings, which I always love!

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Do you feel ready to make your own Thanksgiving Turkey now?? 

 

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Don’t forget your civic duty today, AND that you have the right to vote in this wonderful country!
Get to your local polls today!

If you are not sure where you local polling station is, please check out this site!

https://2014.votinginfoproject.org/

 

As you might have noticed from my Instagram feed, I am quiet obsessed with my Fitbit. It did take a nap for about a month pre and post wedding. But she is back on my wrist counting away steps every day. Some days are super exciting, like recently when I ran the Monster Dash 5K and set a personal record just under 19k steps.

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But then there are days like the day after my record setting day where I was like a slug, and barely logged 4K steps.

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But that slug mode is going to change in November!

For the holiday season, a group of our friends have decided to do a  ”Stepin It for a Cause Challenge”.  I could not be more excited for this challenge! Here is how the challenge is going to work.  We have 6 teams of 2, and each team is donating $20.  At the end of the challenge the team with the most steps gets to take the $120 pot and donate it to the charity of their choice.

The Hubby and I are partnered for this challenge, and have yet to decide on our charity. We would be open to any suggestions everyone has. We have a few causes in mind, just haven’t landed on one yet.  The Hubby is also really worried that I will be the weak link, and lose this challenge for us. Lets be honest, I am worried I will be the weak link.  You saw my variables above, I am a wild card. Some days I can play in the pros, others I am no more than a bump on a log.  I guess I need to get my game plan in check here for this challenge. We need to wind this for our charity… whatever it might be :)

Additionally, to give even more to charity, many of us are also going to track out steps for dogs with Woof Trax.  By  downloading the  Walk for a Dog App, it will run in the background and tracks your time, distance, and MPH.  You don’t need a dog (you can walk a virtual one).  Every mile walked or ran raises between $.11 and $.25.  You then can pick the specific animal charity you want to support, and they receive the proceeds for your steps.

 

How cool is all of this? Not only are we focusing on our own personal fitness, we are giving back in 2 separate ways!

I am so pumped to get Stepin’ Today!

What are you doing this holiday season to give back? 

 

 

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Day #5 of my 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge! Today I am sharing with you a recipe that has been all over the place lately- Overnight Refrigerator Oats.  I personally really do not like the typical hot oatmeal loaded with dried fruit, brown sugar and nuts.  First off I hate the texture, hot oatmeal is slimy and mushy. Second, for me to enjoy the taste of hot oatmeal, I need to add like a pound of sugar, and that just doesn’t seem right, and makes me feel ill.  So when recently I started to see co-workers, other coaches and friends either eating jars of oats in the morning or sharing recipes, my interests were peaked for sure. Even celebrities were toting these overnight oats as something to eat. I always heard oatmeal is SO GOOD for you and that it is a great morning breakfast, but I could never get on the bandwagon with it.  After making these little jars, I think  am finally on the bandwagon!

I started with making a very basic plain version and added raspberries on top. Which was super yummy and super easy.  Recipe: 1 pint jar, add 1/3 cup oats, 1/4 cup almond milk, 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt, close the lid and shake. Place in the refrigerator overnight, and enjoy in the morning. The oats might seem runny when you first shake it all together, but over night the mixture creates a pudding like consistency. No more sliminess here! Easy, fresh and simply, great way to start the morning.

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In my research on these jars I found MANY websites and a whole Pinterst page on how to make them and different recipes, heres is another basic, no frills recipe.

 In my world, I drink  Shakeology every morning to kick start the day.  So I thought, why not combine my new love for oatmeal with my shake? I had seen some recipes for overnight oats including protein powder, and even though Shakeology isn’t just protein powder, I thought it could work.  Again I started with 1 pint jar, add 1/3 cup oats, 1/4 cup almond milk, 1/4 cup greek yogurt, before closing the lid I also added 1/1 scoop of my chocolate Shakeology then shake again. I placed it in the refrigerator overnight too, and enjoyed in the morning.  This combo was so great, it was like having chocolate pudding for breakfast! #naughty  I also add peanut butter in my Shakeology each morning because I am PB & Chocolate combo obsessed! So its was a must for my jar of oats.
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I will have to say I am hooked, and these oats will now be making a regular appearance in my morning routine, even afternoon snack going forward!

Oh and like I said, these jars are all the rage right now, there even is a Buzzfeed for them “Overnight Oats Recipes to Restore You Faith In Breakfast.” Go check it out!

If you eat these already, comment with your favorite recipe! If not, will you be trying these soon? 

 

 

 

 

 

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Day #4 of my 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge!! Sorry this post is coming at night and not in the morning or afternoon per usual. Last night post my workout, I was so exhausted, that I fell asleep at like quarter to 9! Can you believe that? Mr. Tony Horton- my personal trainer ;-) -  really must have kicked my butt or something for me to clonk out that early.  I am super in love with P90x3 right now, and can’t get enough of AgilityX.  Basically for 30 minutes you are non-stop running around in figure 8′s, doing lunges and squats, and a few jumps.  That sounds miserable doesn’t it? I don’t know why, but all of the workouts I have done with P90x3, this one is my favorite. Maybe because it requires the least amount of balance. This girl is clumsy!  Or because I am dripping sweat when I am done, but it sure makes me feel good when I finish. And exhausted apparently.

I am so excited to share this recipe with you today. I was inspired by a few different recipes I saw, but in the end, I winged it.  I have a deep, deep love for artichoke dip, even though I know it isn’t too great for me.  I decided I was going to make it cleaner.  This recipe now hits on all the flavors I love in artichoke dip, without all the calories. And bonus it hit on my love for Mexican food too!

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I really hope after these photos you go make these,  SOON. I think I might sneak back in the kitchen and eat the leftovers….

Shrimp, Artichoke & Spinach Quesadilla 

yields 4 servings 

  • 8 corn tortillas 
  • 24 cooked shrimp, dried
  • 1/4 cup can artichoke hearts, chopped (I used 1/4 of a can)
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup spinach, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt (I use Lawry’s)
  1. In a bowl, mix artichokes, spinach, yogurt, garlic powder, seasoning salt, and cheese until fully incorporated. 
  2. Spread 1/4 of cheese mixture over each of 4 tortillas, leaving a 1/4 inch rim around the edge without cheese. This will leave room for the cheese to melt without spreading out of the quesadilla. Place 6 shrimp on top of each tortilla and then top with remaining tortillas. 
  3. Heat a large pan on medium-high, spray with a light layer of no stick cooking spray. Place 1 quesadilla in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Remove from pan, and let rest while you cook the remaining quesadillas.
  4. Serve with fresh pica de gallo, lettuce and plain greek yogurt.

 

 
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