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Happy Sunday!

We celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday in The Woods.  It was, as the boys said, “The BEST day EVER!”.  Aren’t they cute? :)  But seriously, we had such a wonderful family day.  Homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, followed by lots of packing; turkey in the oven and bonfire of cardboard and wood in burn pit; Christmas music and lots more cooking and finally a fantastic dinner to top the very long and productive early Thanksgiving.  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE to entertain and to cook.  One day I hope to go to culinary school–I just enjoy it so much.  But this is the first year we haven’t done Thanksgiving at my in-laws house, and I was itching to be able to put a menu together and fix up a big feast!  And since we are way ahead of most of you, I’ll share the recipes I used in case you are looking for some last min ideas :)

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I know it’s bit early for Thanksgiving but with all of the packing and preparing for Texas, as well as the fact Dub and I are flying out to Portland on the official Thanksgiving Day (!!!!!) we decided to celebrate when we could.  Uhhh…YES!  Flying back home for one last visit.  I cannot wait!  Initially it was supposed to be a big surprise for my mama and sis so it was kept under wraps, but my dad and I totally biffed it yesterday and let it slip in a family mass-text–MAN!  We were SO close to pulling it off!  (Um, I might have had a slight meltdown when I realized what had happened) But no matter now, I still get to come home and see my family and so many others I have missed, being out here in New England.

And really, I’m just realizing how bitter sweet the whole trip will be.  It will be hard to come back to where I grew up and lived for all of my life and know that those visions of what I had thought would be my life are no longer in my future.  It will be painful to say good bye to church family that has watched me grow and helped shaped me into the woman I am.  And it will be almost unbearable to have to look into my family’s eyes and know that Portland is no longer my home, but somewhere 2,000 miles away is where I will now live…it would be so much easier to not have to do this.  Though denial only works for a little bit, I would have been okay with that.  At least for a year or so :)

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With each passing day the reality of our move sets further and further in to my consciousness.  So pumped, so excited!  But there is so much left to the unknown, it’s hard to picture what our lives will look like.  Lots of changes–in fact there is hardly anything the same other than the fact Tyler and I have been married for 7 1/2 years and we have three beautiful, healthy boys, Cody, B and Dub.  I think that is pretty much all that will be the same.  Cody will be attending public school for the first time as a Kindergardener, B will finish preschool with me at home, Tyler has a crazy amazing new job in downtown Dallas that is 45 mins away (his commute now is 15 mins), and we will once again know no one and know nothing about the area.

The most amazing thing about all of those changes is we aren’t anxious or worried, but by the grace of God we are so ready for what is next.  Moving to our home in Dallas will make it 7 moves in 7 years.  And since we are building a home (!!!!) we will yet again move in May from our rental to our true home.  I guess this could all seem so overwhelming and obviously there will be days or even weeks of us feeling like we aren’t going to make it and probably wondering what we were thinking, but it’s an amazing thing to know you are in the will of God and for now, we find so much peace in that truth.  And just as I blogged right when we arrived here in The Woods about not wanting to miss the reason for our move and knowing it was going to be tough, we arrived at the other end of this year with blessing abounding and lessons learned, so Dallas will be nothing short of the same :)

Hope to see most of you in a week!!

Dani

Thanksgiving Menu

Roasted Turkey in an oven bag…you don’t know about the bag?!  DO IT.  Perfect turkey every time.  Prepare your turkey how you like, put it in a bag, bake and take it out for a wonderfully juicy bird!

Jansen Family Stuffing inside the bird…I know, my mom and I are probably the last people on earth who still stuff the turkey but let me tell you, there is no point to having stuffing if it’s not cooked inside the bird.  It just doesn’t count

2 Onions diced

1 1/2 bunches of celery diced

2 Jars marinated artichokes

Bag of Pepperidge Farms bread crumbs (of course you can make your own!)

1 stick of butter

Chicken broth

Salt & Pepper

Sauté onions and celery in the butter until onions are soft.  Pour into a large bowl with bread crumbs.  Add the artichokes and a jar’s worth of the juices from the jar (so good! More if you want!).  Cover with enough chicken broth to make the mixture moist.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Then stuff the bird–pack it to the brim with this goodness and then bake the turkey as directed.

-Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges (from Style Me Pretty Thanksgiving Guide 2012)–these are fantastic!  I wil make these again for sure!

1-5 Sweet Potatoes

3 tablespoons of veggie oil

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 garlic powder

1/8 cayanne pepper

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 cumin

1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut potatoes in half and then into wedges then coat them in the veggie oil.  Mix together all remaining ingredients and completely cover the wedges with the seasoning.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 40-45 mins, turning once, until they are tender on the inside and completely cooked on the inside. (these are soo good!!!)

-Red Devil Cranberries (from Guy Fieri on the Food Network)–if you like a little spice, these are for you!  To die for!

2 teaspoons canola oil

1/4 cup minced shallot

1 teaspoon minced serrano pepper

1 cup blood orange juice, fresh if possible (I used regular orange juice and needed to add more agave syrup for the tartness)

1/2 cup agave syrup, preferably amber

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper

1 teaspoon adobo sauce

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large saucepan, add the oil and saute the shallot and serrano pepper over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the blood orange juice, agave syrup, cranberries, chipotle, adobo, cinnamon, and salt. Reduce the heat and simmer until mixture is thick, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to thicken.

-Jansen’s Homemade Sweet Dough Rolls

1 pkg active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup shortening, margarine or butter

1 tsp salt

1 egg room temp

3 – 4 cup flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl.  Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, salt, egg & 2 cups of the flour.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead unto smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.  (Dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched)

Punch down dough.  Shape, let rise and bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 mins

Do-ahead Tip:  After kneading, dough can be covered and refrigerated in greased bowl no longer than 4 days.

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