Pie Day 2016

It took me about seven hours to make the nine pies we need for Thanksgiving this year. We’ll be enjoying caramel apple, cranberry-apple, chocolate hazelnut, pecan, s’mores, butterscotch, pumpkin, apple, and vanilla cream pie…but definitely not all at once!

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Fifty-Six Months

Chickadee’s favorite of our Thanksgiving books is A Turkey for Thanksgiving, so of course she had to “read” the story to Dolly!

Tasty Tuesday–Turkey, Cranberry, and Goat Cheese Quesadillas

I modified this recipe from one our local grocery store suggested as a way to use up leftover turkey…the combination of flavors is amazing! I will definitely be adding this one to our Thanksgiving leftovers permanent collection!

  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup leftover or whole berry canned cranberry sauce
  • 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 8 oz. package chèvre (goat cheese) with herbs, softened
  • 2 cups chopped leftover or cooked turkey
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • salsa and/or guacamole

Zest limes. In small bowl, stir together cranberry sauce and lime zest.

Place tortillas on work surface; evenly spread each with one ounce chèvre, then cranberry sauce mixture. Evenly top four tortillas with turkey and jalapeño; top with remaining tortillas to close quesadillas.

In batches, spray 12-inch skillet with cooking spray; add 1 quesadilla and cook over medium-low heat 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Spray top of quesadilla with cooking spray; turn and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer or until bottom is golden brown. Cut each into 6 wedges; serve with salsa and guacamole.

A Markel Family Thanksgiving

I’ve shared bits and pieces of our Thanksgiving traditions here and there, but if you ever wondering what the whole event looks like, from start to finish, here is your chance to find out.

In our house, Thanksgiving is a three-day event. It begins on Wednesday, or what I like to call “Pie Day.” I bake a different pie for each member of our family (although we all eat all of them), and so Wednesday is a day of baking pies. Lots and lots of pies. I also prep the stuffing and make the cranberries on this day, and do a little prep work for Friday’s dinner, as well…lots of vegetable chopping! We have a few fun family activities, like making hand-and-footprint turkeys and reading our favorite Thanksgiving books, too. And we have our favorite shows to watch…the children get to watch the Gilmore Girls “A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving” episode as well as the  Mad About You episode “Giblets for Murray” with us, and when they’re not around, Ryan and I watch all the Friends Thanksgiving episodes, plus the Chuck Thanksgiving/Black Friday shows. In some ways, I like this day better than the holiday itself!

Thanksgiving Day always begins bright and early with Ryan buying me breakfast from Jack in the Box or McDonald’s (to fuel me through all my work), the Macy’s Parade, complete with bingo cards for the children, and a bath for the turkey in the sink, because no matter how early I start thawing it, it’s always still partially frozen on Thanksgiving Day. We usually watch some of the dog show after the parade, and we have fun playing Animal Crossing, and helping Franklin not be part of the town dinner! A lot of this day involves waiting…waiting for the turkey to thaw, waiting until it’s time to put it in the oven, waiting for it to be done (often earlier than I’m expecting), waiting to smack Ryan’s hand when he steals some of the stuffing from the crock-pot, waiting until it’s time to work on the rest of the side dishes, which include a corn and wild rice casserole, green beans with almonds, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and (store-bought) gravy, and rolls. Somehow, it all gets made, and it’s all usually even warm when it hits the table!

After dinner, it is, of course, clean up time. Cleaning up the dishes, putting away the leftover food, and boiling down the turkey carcass for soup the next day. While I’m working on this, we always watch Holiday Inn…I’m so glad the living room is open to the kitchen so I can multi-task! After the clean-up is done, and the broth is put away, we enjoy our seven pies for dessert…although I don’t think anyone has ever tried all seven on Thanksgiving Day itself! Once all my work is done for the day, the children might get to have some bonus video game time, while Ryan and I either finish watching our TV shows or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Our three-day celebration concludes on Black Friday, a day where we avoid any and all stores if at all possible. Instead, we begin our morning at a decent hour, and enjoy leftover pie for breakfast. The rest of the morning is pretty low-key, but after lunch, the fun begins again, with the building of the yearly Lego Christmas set. This is one of my favorite newer traditions, and is a great family activity. At some point, I start the turkey soup for the night’s dinner, which isn’t too much work thanks to all of the prep work I will have already done. And right after dinner, we head out to our city’s town square (which is really a circle, but I digress), for the town tree-lighting, a community sing, and a trolley ride past the stores hosting the annual Gingerbread Walk. While we’re out, Ryan always buys two bread bowls at St. Louis Bread Co. for our soup leftovers lunch the following day, and then we head home for a quiet evening…or what’s left of it!

I’ve really come to love our Thanksgiving traditions, and even though it’s a lot of work, I can’t imagine doing it any other way!

Chickadee Thursday

Like her brothers and sisters, Chickadee spent a lot of her day today sitting in front of the stove, peering through the glass, trying to figure out when the turkey would be done:

She also had fun playing with the Lego turkey that is part of our Thanksgiving centerpiece:

Thanksgiving is definitely one of Chickadee’s favorite days!

Thanksgiving 2015

After a lot of hard work yesterday and today, we were all happy to sit down for our traditional Markel Family Thanksgiving feast this afternoon!

I think I set a pretty nice table, don’t you?

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Our spread was about the same as always, with the addition of a corn and wild rice casserole I haven’t made for a few years:

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And our seven pies for dessert!

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Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Throwback Thursday–Thanksgiving Edition

I’m missing Chickadee in our “I’m a Little Turkey” shirt this year, so I thought I’d share pictures of her wearing it on her first THREE Thanksgivings!

First, in 2012, when it was way too big on her:

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Again in 2013, when it fit just right:

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And finally, last year, starting to fit too small, but it worked for one last Thanksgiving!

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This was a very special little shirt…all five children wore it at least once. I’ll definitely be hanging onto it for the next generation of Markels!

2015-16 School Year–Week Eleven+

I waited until today to share our latest weekly wrap-up because it was more like a week-and-a-half of school. We had a regular week last week, although we replaced our normal history and some of our literature with our yearly Thanksgiving studies. We also had two days of school (plus a little bit) this week, to finish up everything we needed to do before the holiday.

In math, Turkey and Bunny have been working with percent increase and decrease. They way I’m learning how to teach these topics makes so much more sense to me than the way I was taught…I think math could have been much easier for me in junior high and high school with a different approach like this! Ladybug is still working on multiplying with carrying, which she is extremely good at, as well as slightly more complicated equations.

Turkey and Bunny, and Ladybug, each finished the fourth chapter of their science curriculum this week. Turkey and Bunny have been learning about applied science, technology, and simple machines. Bunny has decided she’s not “into” this kind of science, but she’s really looking forward to the next chapter, which focuses on archaeology and paleontology. Ladybug learned about the different kinds of feathers, and I have to admit, most of it was new to me, too!

In writing, Turkey and Bunny worked on comparing two short stories: “The Open Window” and “The Monkey’s Paw.” While both stories had scary elements, in the end, “The Open Window” ended up being pretty humorous, but “The Monkey’s Paw” was freaky. I can’t say I was a big fan! Ladybug has been working on more complicated sentence diagramming, including learning about complete subjects and predicates, direct objects, and adding adjectives and adverbs to describe different words in a sentence.

In addition to our Thanksgiving reading, we also had a few fun crafts (including our yearly staple of hand-and-footprint turkeys, which we waited until today to make, so Moose could join us), and we finished our thankful tree. I love seeing all the many and different things each of my children are thankful for!

I think next week will probably be a fairly normal week of school, before we get into “Christmas School” the week after. We’ll be learning about Christmas in Poland this year, which is new for us…I’m really looking forward to it!

Pies for One and All!

As I always do the day before Thanksgiving, I spent the better part of today making pies. One for each member of the family, as is our tradition:

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This year’s pie lineup:

  • Ryan–Caramel apple
  • Me–Spiced cranberry apple
  • Turkey–Peanut butter cup
  • Bunny–Pecan
  • Ladybug–Butterscotch
  • Moose–S’mores
  • Chickadee–Pumpkin

Chickadee did actually pick her pie this year, but I think pumpkin pie is the only one she really knows by name…I hope she’s happy with her choice!

Tasty Tuesday–Pumpkin Tiramisu

If you’re looking for a unique Thanksgiving dessert that still falls into the mandatory “pumpkin” category, you’ve come to the right place! Plus, you can make this pumpkin tiramisu as early as today, and refrigerate it until the big event…always a bonus when you can work ahead!

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I tried this recipe out last week, and was amazed by both how easy it was to make (I’ve previously been afraid of trying to make a real tiramisu ), and how delicious it was. The crystalized ginger is what really takes it the holiday level, but I imagine even without that, it would still be amazing!

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 12 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups coffee, cooled
  • 2 7 oz. packages Italian ladyfingers
  • Crystalized ginger

With whisk attachment of stand mixer, whisk pumpkin, brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Add mascarpone and 1 1/2 cups cream; beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat.
Dissolve 2 Tbsp. sugar in coffee. Dip both sides of approximately 8 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange them in a single layer in a  4-quart trifle dish. Spread one cup of pumpkin mixture on top. Repeat layers five more times, ending with pumpkin mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Beat remaining cream and 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar until soft peaks form. Dollop over tiramisu and garnish with crystalized ginger.