Green Bean Bundles - a healthier dish at the holidays

Personal Musings
Posted by Jennifer - 11/22/14
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

Green beans are a traditional holiday side dish, usually made as a casserole with cream of mushroom soup. This healthier green bean side dish has made it into our meal plan for the holidays the last few years.

The ingredient list for 8 servings:
1 lb fresh green beans (I prefer Haricot Vert french green beans)
8 strips of turkey bacon (my hubby prefers real bacon)
1/2 finely chopped onion (I prefer more onion)
2 Tb olive oil (or real butter for a treat)
1 Tb white wine vinegar
1 Tb Xyla birch sweetener (or real sugar if you prefer)
salt to taste



This healthier green bean side dish has made it into our meal plan for the holidays the last few years.  Try serving these green bean bundles for your Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner.

How to make:
Steam the green beans until they are tender but still crisp.
Wrap about 12 beans in each bacon strip, use toothpicks to secure.
Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes until the bacon is done.
While bacon is cooking, saute onion in olive oil until tender. Add vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Remove bundles and plate them with onion sauce over the top.

Remember that nice presentation makes for tastier food!

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Dill garlic carrots - a simple side dish for the holidays

Personal Musings
Posted by Jennifer - 11/22/14
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

I once ate this dill garlic carrot dish at a restaurant and have recreated it every year as either a side dish at the holidays, or as an appetizer dish.

Ingredients:
Carrots
Garlic
Olive Oil
Dill to taste

When making a side dish, I used sliced carrots as you see below. You slice the carrots into a bowl, drizzle them with olive oil, add minced garlic and dill. I prefer fresh dill if I have it on hand, otherwise, dry dill will work too.

I once ate this dill garlic carrot dish at a restaurant and have recreated it every year as either a side dish at the holidays, or as an appetizer dish.

When making as an appetizer, I like to use baby carrots. They are relatively easy to eat with your fingers. Try this cold side dish at your next holiday gathering. They will be a hit for sure!

I once ate this dill garlic carrot dish at a restaurant and have recreated it every year as either a side dish at the holidays, or as an appetizer dish.

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Fall Harvest Salad for Holiday dinner

Personal Musings
Posted by Jennifer - 11/22/14
Photographed by Jennifer

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

Last year I made this fantastic fall harvest salad for our holiday dinner. I can't recall now if I made it for Thanksgiving or for Christmas but it would work for any holiday dinner. It does take a bit more time to make the Peppered Parmesan Bowls but it sure makes the presentation of the salad just amazing. And one thing I've learned being in the wedding event industry is that presentation makes ordinary foods taste extraordinary!

fall harvest salad in peppered Parmesan bowl

Ingredients for the Parmesan bowl:
Plan about 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese per bowl.
Pepper or other desired spices or herbs.

How to make the bowls:
In a small bowl, add the cheese and add some pepper to taste. You can even add other spices are herbs if you want to get creative. Using a nonstick skillet (or even a crepe pan), spread your cheese mixture evenly to make about a 6-7 inch circle. You have to make one bowl at a time. It only takes 2-3 minutes before the cheese starts to bubble and the edges may begin to brown. Remove from the heat and very carefully, using a large spatula, drape the cheese over an upside down ramekin bowl. You can use any bowl really, but 4 inch ramekins are a good size. Gently mold the cheese to hug the bowl shape. Let cool completely. Repeat this process for as many bowls as you need to make. I found that you should have some extra Parmesan cheese on hand in case you mess up and have to create an extra bowl. :-)

Ingredients for the Fall Harvest Salad:
Mixed greens
Asian Pear
Pomegranate seeds
Raspberries
Glazed Walnuts

It's important to mix your preferred salad dressing with the greens before you use the greens in the Parmesan bowls. As a suggestion, you can use a Poppy-seed dressing. Start layering each bowl with all the ingredients. Remember presentation makes food taste better. Start with your mixed greens. Then I layered each of my fruits into a different area of the salad bowl, and finishing with some nuts in yet another corner. You will be surprised how excited your guests are to be served a restaurant quality salad!

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Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning & Table Decor

Personal Musings
Posted by Jennifer - 11/22/14
Photographed by Jennifer, Natalie

Jennifer posted by Jennifer

One piece of advice I learned in Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project, is to "spend out". What this means is that you shouldn't think of using the good china only for special occasions. You shouldn't save those good linens in a drawer to use some day. Some day may never come. Life is short and every day is a special occasion.

When it come to Thanksgiving day meal planning, it's easy to plan the traditional food: Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, rolls, maybe even some cranberry sauce. But often the table decor is overlooked as part of meal planning. You may not have enough room to seat everyone at your normal dining room table, but never fear, you can rent tables and chairs! You can even rent glassware and dinnerware if needed. And it's pretty reasonable.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

You can rent table runners and napkins too so that they match. I pulled out our family china and set the table so that when guests arrived. It's nice to have it already done for a few reasons: 1) it allows you to have more time to visit while family is there and 2) they get to enjoy the sight upon their arrival and it lets them know they are special.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

I have a hodge podge of silver napkin rings and I Iike to use them all. Each place setting can be unique.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

I don't have family silverware, but my cousin does, so I asked her to come early and bring hers.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

Don't you think it looks great? Very simple but elegant.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

We even added the special touch of printed menu cards showcasing our meal plan. It sure makes a typical turkey dinner seem fancier! Our meal plan was paired with a wine too.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

Adding a menu card for our appetizer plan went with our theme to fancy-ify our Thanksgiving day. Once again, we paired appetizers with a pre-dinner cocktail.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

Even simple appetizers can be made to look a bit fancier by paying a little attention to presentation.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

While our dinner is cooking, we like to invite family to play a few games, cards, pool, or even just watch football.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

Don't forget to snap a few impromptu photos of family as they are lounging around. These moments are ones that we cherish.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

Thanksgiving Day wouldn't be complete without dessert! Our menu card showcased our pies along with our coffee and port.

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

I hope your Thanksgiving Day is a fun-filled family day!

Thanksgiving Day Meal Planning and Table Decor

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Thanksgiving: DIY Home Decor

Pinterest Ideas
Posted by Mai - 11/18/14
Photographed by Mai

Mai posted by Mai

Let's bring out the DIY projects again for Thanksgiving! As you all know, Halloween just passed, and adding a few warm touches to its decorations would complete your look. Just remember to put the skeletons in the closet.

If you're a big fan of candles, stuffing popcorn kernels into a candle jar is quite delightful. All you need is a candle jar, candle, popcorn kernels, and raffia ribbons to finish it off. You can honestly get these items at the dollar store, making it inexpensive with a beautiful result.

Photo Courtesy: passionatepennypincher.com

Thanksgiving: DIY Home Decor

Now, there's always room for color to brighten your home. Try hanging leaves for your chandelier, or light, and/ or a leaf banner. There should be Free Leaf Templates on the Internet where you can download. Involve your kids and have them paint, or color, and if you want to add a little shimmer, throw some glitter on.

Thanksgiving: DIY Home Decor

These are only a couple of ideas to get you started. They are easy, and doable for a DIY project. Get crafty with more inspiration of DIY Thanksgiving Decorations on our Memory Journalists Pinterest page.


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