Monday, November 26, 2012

My First American Thanksgiving

 Hip-hip-hooray!  It's Friday!  I have been trying to post about last week's Thanksgiving for several days now.  After tackling with some Blogger issues, I am finally able to share my photos with you.  I'm happy to announce that I have since acquired my own domain:  It is powered by Blogger so I can still use the same format and won't lose any of my old posts. Thankfully, all issues have been sorted out and I can commence my blogging once again; although I have noticed one change - it seems I can't post pictures as large as I used to.   Oh well, it isn't a big deal. 
If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you will know that I live in Canada and we Canadians celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday last month; in mid October.  I shared some of the highlights and pictures in a recent post.  In our family, my Mom roasts the turkey every year and we always celebrate Thanksgiving at my parents' house.  It is tradition and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving day in the United States.  I decided to celebrate the day again with my American friends.  Why you may ask?  Well, for several reasons.  First of all, because I love the Thanksgiving holiday so much; next to Christmas, it's my favourite holiday.  It was a great excuse for me to cook a feast!  Also, it was my chance to roast and stuff a turkey...for the first time ever! 

The first thing I did was plan out the menu...

roast turkey
stuffing  (Susan Branch's Grandma's Stuffing)
cranberry sauce
sweet potato balls (my friend Nancy's recipe; her mother used to make them)
pumpkin cheesecake (recipe by Susan Branch)

On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I baked the cheesecake, made the cranberry sauce and roasted the potatoes for the sweet potato balls.  The cheesecake had to be refrigerated overnight and the cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes needed chilling.  I got a few things out of the way so I wouldn't be overwhelmed on Thanksgiving day. 

On the morning of, Nuno went to work as usual and the girls went to school.  Unfortunately, they couldn't do the holiday, stay-at-home thing, so I stayed home taking care of the details.  I ironed the tablecloth and napkins while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade on television. 
Here are some photos from our Thanksgiving feast...

The place settings
I decorated the plates with dried maple leaves we
had gathered on our fall walks.
The pumpkin cheesecake
The cranberry sauce
The three day old bread drying out to prepare 
for the stuffing (just the way Susan's
grandmother used to do it).
Susan Branch's Grandma's Stuffing
 The aroma in the kitchen was to die for! 
 The girls came home from school in time to help too!
Here is Anita shaping a sweet potato ball
(tucked inside is a large marshmallow)
Annabel wants to help too!  She did such a great job!
 The star of the show - the roasted, stuffed turkey
The sweet potato balls
A little bit of everything on my plate!
And for dessert, a slice of pumpkin cheesecake.  I made
a caramel sauce to go with it and topped it with whipped
cream and ground cinnamon. 
When Nuno returned from work in the evening, we gathered at the table and enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner together.  Annabel said a prayer and we took turns telling all the things we were grateful for.  Everything was delicious.  After we ate and sat with our bellies full, it was decided (by Nuno and the girls) that our American Thanksgiving was a success and that yes, we should celebrate with our American friends every year.  This may very well be the beginning of a new tradition!  Like my husband says, "You can never give enough thanks and you can never eat too much turkey!".

I hope my American friends who are reading this, also had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  You all provided the inspiration for me to do this.  Thank you!  I am grateful for each one of you. 

Tomorrow we welcome the month of December! Nuno, the girls and I are visiting a local tree farm to pick out our Christmas tree!  I am so excited.  Have you put up your tree yet?  It's such a magical time of year!  Thank you for stopping in and taking the time to read my post! Have a wonderful weekend! xoxo

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cavacas, Fond Memories, And The Recipe!

Hello dear friends,

Thank you for stopping in.  I love when you come to visit!  Yesterday afternoon, I posted a photo of the "cavacas" I made on my facebook page. I was so overwhelmed with comments, questions, and requests for the recipe, I wanted to share it with all of you. 

First of all, for those of you who don't know, what is a cavaca? It's a traditional Portuguese confection whose origins date back as far as anyone can remember, but there is no documented proof of where or when it originated. 

Cavacas are simple to make and require very few ingredients, usually only eggs, flour and oil, as well as a rich sugar coating.  You can find these popular sweets all over Portugal in bakeries and markets. Although the ingredients don't vary much from one recipe to another, the baking technique, shapes and sizes can vary from one village to the next. 

Outside of Portugal, cavacas are sometimes called Portuguese popovers, as they are somewhat similar in texture.  Cavacas, however, are drier, contain oil and are much sweeter.   Yes, they are similar, but still very different. 

The recipe I used to make my cavacas comes from the facebook page Azorean Green Bean.  You can find the recipe there on her page.  I saw the photo she posted; they looked so yummy, I had to try them for myself.  Indeed they were delicious!   Thank you to Azorean Green Bean for the inspiration!

My husband has enjoyed cavacas since his childhood days in Portugal. I was introduced to them many years ago, when his grandmother, Avo Emilia, brought them over from Portugal to Canada on her yearly visits.  She also adored them.  I vividly remember her thorough enjoyment of the sugary confection!  Baking these brought back memories of those days long ago.  I miss her and think of her often.  Most times, memories of Avo Emilia come to me when I eat foods that she enjoyed, like leafy greens, fish, potatoes, salad, and homemade bread.  One thing she couldn't stand was reheated potatoes.  I will never forget that.  She is dearly missed and thought of often. 

Here she is displaying her homemade bread.
I took this photo of her.  She loved taking pictures!

Here is Azorean Green Bean's recipe including my changes/additions/comments in red


2 cups of flour *all-purpose
1 cup of oil  * I used olive oil
½ cup of whole milk *I used milk, but can be replaced with oil/olive oil
8 eggs at room temp
Sugar Glaze:

 2 cups of Confectioner’s Sugar
 zest of one lemon
 2 tablespoons of milk (more or less depending on the thickness you like)  * I used 1/4 cup of milk as I prefer the glaze thinner. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease regular size muffin tins or popover tins. *I used butter to grease. I tried the recipe twice, first using popover pan, second using muffin tins.  I preferred the muffin tins.
Using an electric mixer beat all ingredients for at least 20 minutes without stopping.
I highly recommend using a stand mixer on this recipe with the mixer set on level 6.
Fill the muffin or popover tins no more then half way.  *I filled mine using a 1/4 measuring cup, which was less than half way.  These really rise!  Be careful not to overfill them!
Bake on the middle rack; for moist Cavacas, bake for about 45 minutes; but if you like them on the dry side, bake for 1 hour. They will get to a nice golden color and “popover“ the pans.
While they are still warm, spoon the glaze over each one or just submerge each one in the glaze. Either way you can’t go wrong.
Serve on the same day, since it will dry even more for the following day.  Mine are on day 2 and tasting fabulous still!
If any of you decide to make the recipe.  Please let me know how they turned out!  Maybe you can send me a photo and I can share it here on my blog!   Wouldn't that be wonderful?!
Wishing everyone a happy November.  Santa Claus is coming to town this weekend.  Can you believe there are only 39 days, 12 hours, 58 minutes until Christmas.  Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  I haven't!  EEK!