Thanksgiving Trials and Tribulations: The Table

So I decided to have Thanksgiving in the new house, but the funny thing is that I have absolutely no dining room furniture.  Not a stitch.

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I did have these pine cones adorning the mantle across the room.  I found them at a yard sale a few months back.  Too bad you can’t sit on or eat off of them.

With less than a week before Thanksgiving, I had to put on my thinking cap.

My solution was not unlike glamping.

Actually glamping might be more glamorous.

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Thank you to Costco and Ikea, I am the proud owner of a “dining set” for under $100.  Coincidentally, I am now equipped for tailgating.  I’m loving this versatile furniture.

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Because I planned to serve slightly more elegant food than hotdogs and chips, I figured I might want to dress (hide) the table.

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I found just the thing at Wal-mart: tone-on-tone ticking stripe fabric by the yard that I would transform into a tablecloth.  Minor detail: Did I mention that I don’t sew?

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Ta-da!  With some creative cutting and folding, I successfully hid the evidence that my table was anything but solid mahogany.

I advised my guests not to lean too hard on my “delicate” table and explained that I was going for a more eclectic look with my “retro” chairs.

A little metallic never hurt anyone, so I started the tabletop with gold chargers and an actual vintage piece, a candelabra that my grandmother had given my great Aunt Anna before she passed.  It was nice to have a reminder of her at the table.  She was a great cook and an elegant lady.  I think she would have been proud of my efforts.

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Glassware and plates instantly made the table look fuller and shinier.

The table was beginning to look legitimate.

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Then came some tinted glass bowls to add color and continue with the vintage theme.  My mom and I made a last minute dash to Pier 1 for some golden yellow cloth napkins.   I put together two low floral arrangements with my flowers from Costco.  I love a show-stopping floral centerpiece, but I actually wanted to be able to see the other people at the table so I divided and conquered. I also added some burlap ribbon to my fancy chairs to complete my unique look.

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I was pretty pleased with myself, especially since this set-up cost me less than the groceries for the meal.

Consider this my submission for the design on a dime challenge.

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This is my favorite angle.

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Eugene took this fab picture with her phone.  I think it’s worthy of Martha Stewart Living.

This certainly wasn’t a traditional Thanksgiving set-up, but we all got to sit together around the table and have a good laugh.  I’ll give thanks for that.

Stay tuned for the meal.  It was not without its challenges.

Y’all keep it classy,

Sugarlump

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Christmas Traditions

This year marked a big transition in tradition for the Dyer household.   Instead of having our family Christmas at my parents’ house as we have always done, I hosted here in my new hometown of Nashville.

In my one bedroom apartment.

I didn’t foresee an issue as I have a large sectional that can sleep two people so I knew all four of us would have a comfortable place to sleep.

What I didn’t foresee was the blanket shortage.  I wound up sleeping under my robe.

It’s ok though.  Santa still showed up and we had our family Christmas.

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I may need a bigger place if I plan on hosting regularly.

After our family Christmas on Christmas Eve morning with just me, Eugene and my mom and dad, we headed to Kentucky for Christmas on Christmas Day with the extended family.

Got that straight?

We always sleep at my dad’s parents’ house on Christmas Eve.  My aunt, uncle and cousins live just down the road so they do their family Christmas early in the morning and then head to my grandparents for the big family Christmas on Christmas Day.

Christmas morning, Granny made sausage gravy and biscuits.  Man that stuff is good.  I certainly couldn’t eat it every day but then again my great grandparents did and they lived into their 90’s so maybe there’s something to that.  I’ll have to ponder that at a later time when I’m feeling less full.

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Per tradition, we started with our stockings.  Among other lovely items, there was a Starbucks gift card, which it looks like I could have used that morning if the nearest Starbucks weren’t over 70 miles away.

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After the stockings, we moved into the living room and the youngins passed out the gifts.  Eugene found a tagless gift, which was cause for great concern.

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My mom and Aunt Vickie received some money in shot glasses from Santa (Papa).  I found this hilarious.  I’m glad Aunt Vickie thought so, too.

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Granny got her box of tide with a dollar bill from Papa.  He’s been doing this for decades and I’m still not really sure how it started.  Maybe someday I’ll get to the bottom of it.

After Christmas at my dad’s parents’ house, we headed down the road (literally) for Christmas with my mom’s parents.

I went straight for a bourbon ball….or two.   I have a wicked sweet tooth and there’s no telling when it will strike.

We settled into the living room and opened our gifts.  It wasn’t the same without my aunt, uncle and cousin on my mom’s side, but we were certainly thinking of them and wishing they could have been with us.

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After seeing the photo that my parents sent out unsupervised in the family Christmas card this year where I look possessed, Eugene and I insisted that we supply suitable photographs for next year’s card.  We had my dad take about 437 photos and this was one of the better ones.

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With cameras retired for the day, we ate the delicious Christmas dinner that Grandmother had prepared for us.

Then I had a few more bourbon balls and a piece of rum cake.

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We played a game of Scrabble, one of our favorites.  I wasn’t on top of my game.  There’s only so much you can do when dealt X, B, J, H, L, L, T.  That, and most of the blood in my body was likely trying to aid in the digestion of the forty pounds of food I had eaten in the past few hours instead of pumping through my brain for a stroke of vocabulary genius.

And then I might have had another bourbon ball.

And then some leftover dressing from Christmas Eve dinner back at Granny and Papa’s.

And a piece of the jam cake cousin Lauren and I made on Thanksgiving and let ripen for Christmas.  It was scrumptious.

I think I’ll be full until next year.

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These things are the devil.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

Chicken Enchiladas

Anyone who knows me well knows that I could eat Mexican food for every meal.  This preference stems all the way back to a childhood of begging to go to Taco Bell or to make tacos at home as often as possible.  As I’ve gotten older, my Mexican palette has expanded from crunchy tacos with meat and sour cream ONLY to guacamole, enchiladas, Mole and fish tacos.  I can make a mean taco, but I decided it was time for me to tackle homemade enchiladas.

I’ve looked at lots of recipes and watched various celebrity chefs make them on TV. I’ve taken note of the components of enchiladas at my favorite Mexican spots and I concluded the following as I developed my recipe:

1)      The enchiladas must be chicken enchiladas.

2)      The chicken must be shredded so as to absorb the delicious sauce and flavor.

3)      The tortillas must be corn tortillas.  This is critical not just for taste, but also for texture.

4)      No cumin allowed.  I don’t know why, but I just don’t care for this flavor.

5)      Spicy is better, just not so spicy that you can’t feel your mouth.

6)      Cream cheese is an excellent addition to the sauce inside and on top of the enchiladas.  It adds a touch of richness, balances the heat of the hot peppers, and it’s a little bit tangy.  Nobody wants an enchilada lacking in flavor and cream cheese won’t let you down.

7)      The tortillas must be soft in order to roll them.  I prefer not to dunk them in a bunch of hot oil (the best way to keep them from splitting and to hold their shape) so I microwave them between a few damp paper towels.  Not so authentic, but it means I can eat enchiladas more often, which is the ultimate goal here.

Now that we’ve covered those details, I’m hungry.  Let’s make some chicken enchiladas.

These ingredients will soon be combined in nothing short of deliciousness.  Don’t forget the tomato paste like I did in this picture.  It’s a critical player.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rub a boneless, skinless chicken breast with olive oil.

Sprinkle both sides with chili powder, paprika, season salt, and garlic salt.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

After it’s done, allow the chicken to cool for a few minutes.

Then, using your best tools (your clean hands) shred the chicken.

Chop up onion, garlic and jalapeno, seeds and all.  Please try not to touch your face until you’ve thoroughly washed your hands or you will be very sorry.  I speak from experience.

Sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent.

Then throw in the garlic and half of the jalapeno, allowing them to soften for about 30 seconds.

Sprinkle in the rest of the chili powder, paprika and season salt.

Drop in half of the cream cheese.

Pour in half of the chicken broth.

Plop in the tomato paste.

Stir all of that deliciousness together until combined.

Throw in the shredded chicken.

Let everything hang out together until the sauce has reduced a bit.  It should be thick and absorbed into the chicken.  It shouldn’t be too loose or assembling the enchiladas will be a disaster.

Once reduced, remove the chicken from the skillet and set it aside.

Then be lazy like me and throw the rest of the cream cheese into the same skillet.  This will actually catch some of that good flavor left in the skillet.  Laziness or genius? Most likely both.

Add in the remaining chicken broth and jalapenos.

Mix everything together and reduce until slightly thickened.

Microwave the stack of tortillas in damp paper towels for a minute or so on low power to soften them.

Then start assembling by placing 1/8 of the chicken mixture in each tortilla, rolling them up and placing them in the baking dish as you go.

I didn’t do the best job preventing these from tearing slightly.  Oh well.  Nothing a little bit of sauce and cheese can’t cover up.

Then cover the top of the enchiladas with the cream cheese sauce.

And then top ‘er off with the shredded cheese and bake the enchiladas for 15-20 minutes on 300 until the cheese melts.

Here is the final product.  Enjoy!

Y’all come back and visit,

Sugarlump

Ingredients:

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp season salt
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • Approximately 2/3 package of cream cheese
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • ½ cup shredded cheese

1)      Cover chicken breast in 1 tbsp olive oil and then season with 1 tsp chili powder, ½ tsp paprika, ¼ tsp season salt and ¼ tsp garlic salt.  Bake at 400 degrees on a baking sheet for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.  Let cool and then shred chicken.

2)      Sauté onion in 1 tbsp of olive oil until translucent over medium heat.  Add in garlic and ½ of the jalapeno, cooking for approximately 30 seconds before adding remaining chili powder, paprika, and season salt.  Add in 1/2 of chicken broth, the tomato paste, and 1/2 of cream cheese.  Mix together until combined.

3)      Add shredded chicken to mixture and allow to reduce until most liquid is absorbed.   Set aside in a separate bowl

4)      Using the same skillet, add remaining cream cheese, chicken broth and jalapeno pepper, whisking together until incorporated.  Let thicken.

5)      Wrap stacked tortillas in damp paper towels and heat in microwave until soft.

6)      Assemble tortillas, placing them in a baking dish.  Once all tortillas are assembled, cover them with cream cheese sauce and shredded cheese.

7)      Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Heirlooms

Having recently moved to my first big-girl apartment, I needed a lot of stuff.   I needed dishes and glasses and living room furniture and a cake stand and a compote dish. Who doesn’t need a compote dish, right? Many of my … Continue reading