Giving Thanks (plus a recipe for Savory Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Bacon)

I’m sitting here relaxing after working all day on the pre-move purge, a project that isn’t going anywhere soon though the move is coming way to fast.

There’s a cold bowl of leftover savory sweet potatoes in front of me, cold because I keep getting distracted and jumping up to move something, pack something, or ask someone a question. It’s OK. I’ve been eating cold food since child number 2 came along and drinking cold coffee since child number 3. Some things don’t change as quickly as they grow.

I’m thankful for these post Thanksgiving days when the leftovers are even better than they were fresh and our taste buds aren’t tired of them yet.

So far I haven’t had to cook a thing… my family has been happily munching on leftovers or creating new concoctions like Arianna’s scrambled eggs with stuffing, turkey, and bacon or Elise’s turkey and provolone omelet.

I’m thankful for this place.

There’s a certain contentedness in my life now and while I have occasional fits of wondering what in the world I’m doing here and what God’s going to do with me, at the moment, I feel OK. I have been blessed with this incredible family both within the walls of my home and around the world. I truly have been blessed with amazing people, real family, and adopted family every where I’ve been. It’s amazing.

I’m thankful that Tiara can be with family this Thanksgiving (even though it’s not with me).

Today Luci asked for six plates when setting the table and didn’t understand at first why I only gave her five. Tiara’s in Seattle because DC is just too far for a long weekend. This is our first Thanksgiving apart and though I’m thankful that she’s with family, I’m even more thankful that I’ll see her again in two weeks (not that I’m counting).

Everyone pitched in ahead of time, so the holiday felt light and fun without the normal stresses of too much cooking. (And I’m thankful for that – my family is awesome)

 

 I’m thankful for daughters who are confident to pick up a new recipe and tackle it on their own.

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On the eve, Luci and I tested out recipes in a cranberry sauce cook-off. She made Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir from a New York Times Thanksgiving recipes article, and I made two others from memory and experimentation. We filled three jars each with a different recipe, then combined the extra sauce into a fourth jar, a “melange a trois” of tart cranberry goodness. It was the best.

 

I’m thankful for a husband who is fearless and skilled in the kitchen.

 

Kirk and Elise took turkey duty this year. Since our holiday would be a quiet affair of just us five, I let go of my “need” to also roast a bird and opted to watch. This bird was brined for two days, then Kirk made a compound butter and Elise rubbed it liberally under the skin. Our bird was then smoked with apple cider in the drip pan and with both apple and cherry wood chips. The result was a bird that while ugly and literally falling apart, was so deliciously moist that it’s nearly gone just two days later.

 

I’m thankful for some friends on Livemapp who mentioned the “humble brussel spout,” my husband who found AND cooked what will now be a new tradition, and my odd lack of fear in trying this new vegetable for the first time.

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Yes, the Brussel sprout. I grew up seeing (and smelling) them boiled and served with mayonnaise. Yuck. I could tolerate the sight of neither and until Thanksgiving had yet to try even a tiny bite. But in walked bacon… and walnut… and garlic. Oh who am I kidding… it was all over at bacon. So my dear husband grabbed our cast iron pan and roasted up a huge quantity of brussels in the oven though no one in our family had ever tried them before. And then I had thirds. By the next day they were completely gone. And I’m dying because I really want more. They WILL be on our Christmas menu.

I’m thankful for girls who cook.

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Arianna was in charge of mashed potatoes and gravy this year in Tiara’s absence. It was her first time making gravy and it was perfect!  Tiara was making gravy too – for family 2,761 miles away. (And hers was perfect as well.)

I’m thankful for variety, experimentation, and new recipes that work.

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Kirk likes sweet yams and I prefer sweet potato fries, so I did both sweet and savory sweet potato dishes this year and tried new recipes for each.  Kirk found a recipe for a mashed, then whipped sweet potato casserole with a crunchy cereal topping that I’ll definitely make again. It was a rave and he’s still enjoying the leftovers. I, on the other hand, wanted to find a classier way than a french fry to enjoy a savory sweet potato so I came up with this: Herbed Sweet Potatoes with Bacon and Goat Cheese (recipe at the end of this post). It’s my own “thrown together” creation, but I love it enough to make it again and may not even tweak it much. It was just really great and leftovers go well with a bit of turkey and some extra goat cheese on top (’cause I have a thing for goat cheese).

We also had ham, green beans with bacon and caramelized onions, sweet potato cornbread, spiced apple cider, good wine, my mom’s stuffing (because that’s the best), corn (because Aria requested it), and pumpkin roll for dessert (Elise’s favorite).

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It was simple. Just a day cooking, relaxing, eating, and watching the Seahawks crush the 49er’s.  And that’s how it should be. I thought of a million and one activities that we should do but at the end, we just needed to be and that was enough.

I am thankful for quiet times together and the luxury of time to do absolutely nothing.

I am thankful for these faces, the dog who helped “rinse dishes” afterwards, and the photos on Facebook of my girl celebrating Thanksgiving too far away from me.

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Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Bacon

Ingredients:

Two large sweet potatoes, sliced thin

2-4 T. olive oil

2-4 T. freshly chopped herbs (I used rosemary, sage, and a little thyme)

Salt (to taste)

1/4 cup goat cheese

1/4 cup bacon, cooked and chopped

1/2 cup chicken broth

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Directions:

1. Coat slice sweet potatoes in olive oil and chopped herbs and mix well to coat.

2. Layer in a baking dish sprinkling bacon and tiny clumps of goat cheese in between each layer.

3. Pour any remaining herb/oil mixture over the top and add 1/2 cup chicken broth on top also.

4. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350. Remove foil and test a potato with a thin knife. Bake for another 15 minutes uncovered or until tender.

Notes:

I used the estimates above, but didn’t measure anything (except the 2 potatoes) because I was creating as I went. The portions are approximate, but foolproof unless you go too crazy with oil.  I could easily have doubled both the goat cheese and bacon for a richer dish, but the smaller portions added a to the complexity of flavors without overpowering the potatoes themselves. If I were to do this again, I may add just a wee bit more goat cheese, but not much. It really is a great dish and much better (in my opinion) than the sweet gooey marshmallow counterpart that dominates many Thanksgiving tables.

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About Tiffany

I'm eclectic. Sometimes that's a good thing because I can do bits of everything. Sometimes it's aggravating because I get distracted by so many amazing things. Mostly, I love photography and family, travel and writing, cooking, reading, art, and coffee. Sundays are church days to regroup and refocus. God's in charge here.

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