When You Find Yourself Out Of The City…

Do as the natives do.

Or…whatever.

Basically, just do stuff you can’t do at home.

LIKE GO TO TARGET.

For those of you who aren’t city creatures, you should know that there is no Target in Manhattan*, and that this is a very, very distressing thing to those of us who don’t have cars. Yes, there’s one in Brooklyn, and I think there’s one in the Bronx…but when I go to Target, I buy a lot of stuff. Like, a not-subway-friendly amount of stuff. A car-requiring amount of stuff.

So when my mother-in-law asked me where I’d like to go on a baby-clothes-buying mission…

I mean…

obviously.

On our way to the Infant/Toddler section, I got distracted by a rack of clothing that was put there especially for me. Look at that happy face!

Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Mini for Target line? Is GOOD. It’s just so super cute.

I went home with a couple of pieces from the line (including I Am A Monster, above), and a few other things, like little plaid shirts with elbow patches (!!) and a teeny-tiny ’70s-style brown corduroy-and-navy nylon vest that is completely ridiculous to put on an infant, and yet simultaneously so very crucial to put on an infant.

In food-related things-that-cannot-be-found-in-New-York, we ate Five Guys** for dinner one night upon hearing that it was up there with Shake Shack and In ‘N’ Out. I am a big old Shake Shack snob, so I don’t know that I’d elevate Five Guys to those heights…but yes: it’s a good burger. Very good. And I like that you can choose from tons of toppings, because that means I get mushrooms and pickles, and Kendrick gets all sorts of horrible things like jalapenos.

This is the single most important thing that can happen when on a road trip: the discovery of a chocolate pie at a gas station. Guess how much of this made its way to the guy sitting in the front seat? (None.)

And this is Kendrick at Quaker Steak ‘N’ Lube “rocking the baby” (watching football).

*Update: Apparently there’s a Target in East Harlem. So I don’t know what I’m talking about. But the point about buying too much stuff for a subway still applies!

**Oh my god. Apparently there is ALSO a Five Guys in New York (several). Apparently there is nothing that cannot be found in New York. Apparently I need more than four hours of sleep before I sit down at my computer and start hitting the “Publish” button.

What We’re Up To This Weekend

Relaxing…

and cavorting.

And eating these amazing things…

which are the handiwork of these lovely ladies.

Yesterday’s Road Trip to Ohio

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Eat lots.

Nap.

Give big hugs.

Love!

J

Off To Ohio

We’re spending today driving to Ohio for Thanksgiving with one small human and one small dog (Virgil does not enjoy cars and is indulging in a little NYC staycation this weekend).

Last year’s trip (video above) was fun; we’re seeing if we can top it this year (I’m feeling some serious car dancing and definitely a stop at Quaker Steak ‘n’ Lube).

In the meantime, here are some Thanksgiving-type recipes for you!

Side Dishes:

Apple Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate & Blue Cheese

Last-Minute Biscuits

Asparagus, Bacon & New Potato Salad

Mushroom & Farro Salad

Sweet Potato Casserole

Stuffing

Butternut Squash Soup

Desserts & Sweets:

Pumpkin Bread, Canada Style

Orange-Poppyseed Loaf Cake

Banana-Nutella Bread

Raspberry Oat Loaf Cake

Oreo Truffles

Peppermint Bark

5-Minute Chocolate-Banana Cream Pie

Sugared Cranberries

The Day After:

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Elvis Pancakes

Strawberry-Banana-Nutella Crepes

Thanksgiving Leftover Paninis

Wine & Cocktails:

Winterberry Cocktail

Nantucket Red

Perfect Turkey Pairings

Mulled Wine, My Way

Apple Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate & Blue Cheese

The moment I spotted this picture of an avocado salad tucked into a hollowed-out apple, I knew I had to try making it myself immediately…and often. First, because I love every single thing in this dish (apples, avocados, pomegranates, and blue cheese), and second, because few things are better than an appetizer that’s sure to elicit gasps when you set it down on the dinner table…but that takes five minutes flat to whip up and requires zero time spent over a stove.

I didn’t actually check out the original recipe before getting started on this - I just worked from the image - so I ended up using a different dressing, going for lemon-olive oil over the apple cider vinegar used in the original. But that’s in keeping with the spirit of this dish: the deal here is that you can be pretty improvisational, adding things like candied nuts, bacon, different types of cheese, or bits of dried fruit to this salad. It’d all be delicious.

APPLE SALAD with AVOCADO, POMEGRANATE & BLUE CHEESE (serves 2)

What you need:

2 apples of your choice (I used McIntosh; Gala would work really well, too)

1 avocado, diced

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Olive oil

Lemon juice

Salt & pepper

What you do: 

1. Slice off top of each apple and set aside. Slice off the bottoms so that they rest flat on the table, then use a small paring knife to cut the center out of each apple, being careful not to break the shell.

2. Chop the centers of the apples into 1/4” pieces, then mix in a small bowl with the rest of the ingredients and pour your salad into your apple bowls. Set the reserved apple tops on a slight angle, as shown in the photos.

For more apple info (including the best apples for eating and for baking), click here.

I was served these delicious (and easy-to-make) Oreo truffles pretty much everywhere I went while visiting Kendrick’s relatives over Thanksgiving, and asked my mother-in-law to send me the recipe. Put them in a pretty tin, and they make a lovely, personal (and inexpensive) Christmas gift.
OREO TRUFFLES
What you need:
1 package Oreo cookies, finely crushed
1 8 oz package cream cheese (no reduced fat stuff, please…we’re talking truffles here)
2 packages (8 squares each) semi-sweet chocolate, melted (in the microwave is easiest)
What you do: 
1. Mix 3 cups of the cookie crumbs with the cream cheese until well-blended.
2. Shape cookie/cream cheese mixture into 42 1” balls. 
3. Dip balls in melted chocolate (use two forks and sort of roll them around until evenly coated; allow excess to drip off) and place on wax paper. 
4. Sprinkle over remaining cookie crumbs and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.
Other decorating ideas: Adorn your truffles with sprinkles, colored sugar, or even edible glitter.

I was served these delicious (and easy-to-make) Oreo truffles pretty much everywhere I went while visiting Kendrick’s relatives over Thanksgiving, and asked my mother-in-law to send me the recipe. Put them in a pretty tin, and they make a lovely, personal (and inexpensive) Christmas gift.

OREO TRUFFLES

What you need:

1 package Oreo cookies, finely crushed

1 8 oz package cream cheese (no reduced fat stuff, please…we’re talking truffles here)

2 packages (8 squares each) semi-sweet chocolate, melted (in the microwave is easiest)

What you do: 

1. Mix 3 cups of the cookie crumbs with the cream cheese until well-blended.

2. Shape cookie/cream cheese mixture into 42 1” balls. 

3. Dip balls in melted chocolate (use two forks and sort of roll them around until evenly coated; allow excess to drip off) and place on wax paper. 

4. Sprinkle over remaining cookie crumbs and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Other decorating ideas: Adorn your truffles with sprinkles, colored sugar, or even edible glitter.

The first time I spent Thanksgiving at Kendrick’s parents’ place, I decided to impress my in-laws-to-be by making this crowd-pleaser side dish (even people who “don’t like Brussels sprouts” - a.k.a. people I think are weird - like it). Unfortunately, I didn’t boil the sprouts for long enough, so forty-five minutes after we were supposed to all sit down to dinner I was still frantically sauteing the damn things while Kendrick’s entire family looked on in pity. Don’t do that, please: even though food purists would frown on this advice, I urge  you to cook the sprouts until they’re fork-tender before adding them to the pan. (This time, by the way, they turned out perfectly.)
JORDAN’S BRUSSELS SPROUTS w/ PANCETTA & MUSHROOMS
What you need:
1 package brussels sprouts, stemmed and halved
Approximately 1 cup of pancetta, trimmed of fat and cubed
1 package mushrooms, roughly chopped
Olive oil
Salt & fresh-ground pepper
1 tbsp butter
What you do: 
1. Boil water in a large saucepan and cook Brussels sprouts until fork-tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan or wok, heat a splash or two of olive oil, add pancetta cubes, and cook pancetta until nearly crispy.
3. A couple of minutes before you think the pancetta will be done, add the mushrooms and cook until tender.
4. Once the Brussels sprouts are tender, add them to the pan and toss around to coat in pancetta juices. Season to taste, top with butter, mix, serve.
Watch the video here.

The first time I spent Thanksgiving at Kendrick’s parents’ place, I decided to impress my in-laws-to-be by making this crowd-pleaser side dish (even people who “don’t like Brussels sprouts” - a.k.a. people I think are weird - like it). Unfortunately, I didn’t boil the sprouts for long enough, so forty-five minutes after we were supposed to all sit down to dinner I was still frantically sauteing the damn things while Kendrick’s entire family looked on in pity. Don’t do that, please: even though food purists would frown on this advice, I urge  you to cook the sprouts until they’re fork-tender before adding them to the pan. (This time, by the way, they turned out perfectly.)

JORDAN’S BRUSSELS SPROUTS w/ PANCETTA & MUSHROOMS

What you need:

1 package brussels sprouts, stemmed and halved

Approximately 1 cup of pancetta, trimmed of fat and cubed

1 package mushrooms, roughly chopped

Olive oil

Salt & fresh-ground pepper

1 tbsp butter

What you do:

1. Boil water in a large saucepan and cook Brussels sprouts until fork-tender.

2. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan or wok, heat a splash or two of olive oil, add pancetta cubes, and cook pancetta until nearly crispy.

3. A couple of minutes before you think the pancetta will be done, add the mushrooms and cook until tender.

4. Once the Brussels sprouts are tender, add them to the pan and toss around to coat in pancetta juices. Season to taste, top with butter, mix, serve.

Watch the video here.

My wounded husband (he took the bandage off, but is still not fully functional) heroically helping to set the table for Thanksgiving dinner with his parents. See that cranberry sauce in the foreground? It looks delicious, I admit, but I have a little phobia about real cranberry sauce stemming from a stomach-flu incident when I was about thirteen, so Lynn very generously provided me with my much-adored, canned, gelatinous Ocean Spray sauce. I commandeered a turkey leg (I’m a dark meat girl) and some mashed potatoes, and I was set.

My wounded husband (he took the bandage off, but is still not fully functional) heroically helping to set the table for Thanksgiving dinner with his parents. See that cranberry sauce in the foreground? It looks delicious, I admit, but I have a little phobia about real cranberry sauce stemming from a stomach-flu incident when I was about thirteen, so Lynn very generously provided me with my much-adored, canned, gelatinous Ocean Spray sauce. I commandeered a turkey leg (I’m a dark meat girl) and some mashed potatoes, and I was set.

When you visit your in-laws for Thanksgiving, photos like this get taken. Not that I mind :)
Check out some tips for building the perfect fire here.

When you visit your in-laws for Thanksgiving, photos like this get taken. Not that I mind :)

Check out some tips for building the perfect fire here.

In Kendrick’s parents’ backyard. I LOVE rope swings (Kendrick’s dad, Tom, made that one).
If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard with a spot for a swing, go here to learn how to make one.
DKNY Pure sweater, ABS Carrie jeans, Gap hat, Urban Outfitters earrings.

In Kendrick’s parents’ backyard. I LOVE rope swings (Kendrick’s dad, Tom, made that one).

If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard with a spot for a swing, go here to learn how to make one.

DKNY Pure sweater, ABS Carrie jeans, Gap hat, Urban Outfitters earrings.

Me with some fire trucks, aboard AirTran Flight 206.
I was very impressed with AirTran’s response to the ordeal - they gave each passenger a complimentary round-trip ticket, plied us with coffee and donuts, and had us in the air (that’s where I am now) within two hours.
I know I’m sounding very blase about this whole thing, but the truth is that I was absolutely terrified. When we were skidding across the tarmac the plane was dead silent, everyone just gripping the armrests and staring straight ahead, bracing for an impact or a crash landing into the water. So, being Thanksgiving and all…let’s just say that I feel like I have a lot to be thankful for at the moment. It’s good to be reminded sometimes of how quickly things can turn on you…and how important it is to appreciate what you have right now.
Happy Thanksgiving to my Mom and Dad, Lucy, and all my friends and family (and especially my Aunt Trudy and cousin Zach, who are visiting NYC this weekend from Canada and who I’m very sad to be missing). Eat well, enjoy that tryptophan buzz, and I’ll see you all soon!

Me with some fire trucks, aboard AirTran Flight 206.

I was very impressed with AirTran’s response to the ordeal - they gave each passenger a complimentary round-trip ticket, plied us with coffee and donuts, and had us in the air (that’s where I am now) within two hours.

I know I’m sounding very blase about this whole thing, but the truth is that I was absolutely terrified. When we were skidding across the tarmac the plane was dead silent, everyone just gripping the armrests and staring straight ahead, bracing for an impact or a crash landing into the water. So, being Thanksgiving and all…let’s just say that I feel like I have a lot to be thankful for at the moment. It’s good to be reminded sometimes of how quickly things can turn on you…and how important it is to appreciate what you have right now.

Happy Thanksgiving to my Mom and Dad, Lucy, and all my friends and family (and especially my Aunt Trudy and cousin Zach, who are visiting NYC this weekend from Canada and who I’m very sad to be missing). Eat well, enjoy that tryptophan buzz, and I’ll see you all soon!

The ASPCA has some great tips for keeping your pets safe during the holiday season:
"There’s nothing more scrumptious than gathering with friends and family for the holidays, but many of the ingredients in human fun can result in distress for pets. As we kick off the season of lights, parties and yummy treats, the ASPCA wants to remind pet parents of the potential hazards certain goodies and decor can pose to our furry friends.
'As you prepare for your holiday celebrations,' says Dr. Steven Hansen, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Animal Health Services, 'remember to be wary of foods and traditions that can bring potential dangers to companion animals.'
In honor of the joyous season to come, ASPCA poison control experts offer these essential tips for having pets at the party in a safe way:
Avoid Too Much of a Good Thing
While the holidays are a time for giving, there are some foods you should not share with your furry friends. A taste of mashed potato or a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, alcoholic beverages, coffee, onions, fatty foods, yeast dough and macadamia nuts can all lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, or even worse - an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. A special no-no is chocolate, which if ingested can lead to death. And you may want to skip sharing the turkey - poultry bones can splinter and cause blockages. 
Put the Meds Away
One of the most common holiday-related emergencies is the consumption of human pharmaceuticals. Make sure all your medications are securely locked away, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.
That Holiday Glow
When you leave the room, put the candles out! Animals can easily knock lit candles over, causing a fire, and curious cats are particularly at risk of getting burned by candle flames. Also,  be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on stable surfaces.
Decorations Can Be Dangerous
Holiday decorations such as breakable ornaments, string, ribbon and dreidels should be kept out of paws’ reach. All holiday light strands, loose wires and electric cords can also pose serious dangers to your pet, especially puppies, who may chew on them. 
Go Tinsel-less
Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
Forego the Flowers
Be careful with holiday floral arrangements. Lilies are commonly used this time of year and all varieties, including Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats. In addition, common Yuletide plants such as mistletoe and holly berries can be potentially toxic to pets. Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Safe alternatives include artificial flowers made from silk or plastic. 
Oh, Christmas Tree
Cats often see trees as fabulous climbing posts. Be sure to securely anchor your tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. Also keep in mind that tree water may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset if ingested. Stagnant tree water can also act as a breeding ground for bacteria, and, if ingested, a pet may suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. 
New Year’s Noise
As you count down to the New Year, be alert to any pet hazards such as noise-makers and confetti. Noise-makers can frighten your pets, causing them to bolt out an open door or window. Confetti, if ingested, can wreak havoc on the digestive tract. 
Holiday Travel
Before traveling with your pets by car or plane, make sure they have all the required vaccinations and are wearing identification tags or are microchipped. If you’re traveling by car, be sure to secure your pet safely with a seatbelt harness, crate, or barrier and make frequent stops, allowing pets time to exercise and relieve themselves. 
If your dog or cat accidentally ingests any potentially harmful products and you need emergency advice, please consult your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (a fee applies) or www.aspca.org/apcc.”

The ASPCA has some great tips for keeping your pets safe during the holiday season:

"There’s nothing more scrumptious than gathering with friends and family for the holidays, but many of the ingredients in human fun can result in distress for pets. As we kick off the season of lights, parties and yummy treats, the ASPCA wants to remind pet parents of the potential hazards certain goodies and decor can pose to our furry friends.

'As you prepare for your holiday celebrations,' says Dr. Steven Hansen, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Animal Health Services, 'remember to be wary of foods and traditions that can bring potential dangers to companion animals.'

In honor of the joyous season to come, ASPCA poison control experts offer these essential tips for having pets at the party in a safe way:

Avoid Too Much of a Good Thing

While the holidays are a time for giving, there are some foods you should not share with your furry friends. A taste of mashed potato or a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, alcoholic beverages, coffee, onions, fatty foods, yeast dough and macadamia nuts can all lead to stomach upset, diarrhea, or even worse - an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. A special no-no is chocolate, which if ingested can lead to death. And you may want to skip sharing the turkey - poultry bones can splinter and cause blockages. 

Put the Meds Away

One of the most common holiday-related emergencies is the consumption of human pharmaceuticals. Make sure all your medications are securely locked away, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

That Holiday Glow

When you leave the room, put the candles out! Animals can easily knock lit candles over, causing a fire, and curious cats are particularly at risk of getting burned by candle flames. Also,  be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on stable surfaces.

Decorations Can Be Dangerous

Holiday decorations such as breakable ornaments, string, ribbon and dreidels should be kept out of paws’ reach. All holiday light strands, loose wires and electric cords can also pose serious dangers to your pet, especially puppies, who may chew on them. 

Go Tinsel-less

Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

Forego the Flowers

Be careful with holiday floral arrangements. Lilies are commonly used this time of year and all varieties, including Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats. In addition, common Yuletide plants such as mistletoe and holly berries can be potentially toxic to pets. Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Safe alternatives include artificial flowers made from silk or plastic. 

Oh, Christmas Tree

Cats often see trees as fabulous climbing posts. Be sure to securely anchor your tree so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. Also keep in mind that tree water may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset if ingested. Stagnant tree water can also act as a breeding ground for bacteria, and, if ingested, a pet may suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. 

New Year’s Noise

As you count down to the New Year, be alert to any pet hazards such as noise-makers and confetti. Noise-makers can frighten your pets, causing them to bolt out an open door or window. Confetti, if ingested, can wreak havoc on the digestive tract. 

Holiday Travel

Before traveling with your pets by car or plane, make sure they have all the required vaccinations and are wearing identification tags or are microchipped. If you’re traveling by car, be sure to secure your pet safely with a seatbelt harness, crate, or barrier and make frequent stops, allowing pets time to exercise and relieve themselves. 

If your dog or cat accidentally ingests any potentially harmful products and you need emergency advice, please consult your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (a fee applies) or www.aspca.org/apcc.”

What wines go best with a turkey dinner? 
If you like red wine, try a pinot noir, served slightly chilled. If you prefer white, an oakey Chardonnay is your best bet, and if you want something on the sweeter side, go for a Gewurztraminer or a Riesling. 
Go here for Gary Vaynerchuk’s suggestions for the best Thanksgiving wines (including Clone 5 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Albrecht Gewurztraminer Reserve), and here for a video. 

What wines go best with a turkey dinner? 

If you like red wine, try a pinot noir, served slightly chilled. If you prefer white, an oakey Chardonnay is your best bet, and if you want something on the sweeter side, go for a Gewurztraminer or a Riesling. 

Go here for Gary Vaynerchuk’s suggestions for the best Thanksgiving wines (including Clone 5 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Albrecht Gewurztraminer Reserve), and here for a video. 

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I believe in going back to basics. No frou-frou, fancy-pants anything: I want canned Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, and I want it yesterday. 
Stuffing is a dish that I think suffers not at all from shortcuts, and I do what my mom always did when I was growing up: saute chopped mushrooms, onion and garlic in olive oil, and just add it to Pepperidge Farm stuffing prepared according to the package instructions.

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I believe in going back to basics. No frou-frou, fancy-pants anything: I want canned Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, and I want it yesterday. 

Stuffing is a dish that I think suffers not at all from shortcuts, and I do what my mom always did when I was growing up: saute chopped mushrooms, onion and garlic in olive oil, and just add it to Pepperidge Farm stuffing prepared according to the package instructions.