Roast turkey & potato-poblano gratin

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I decided to make a low-key Thanksgiving-esque dinner tonight. I roast chickens all the time. Why not a turkey?

I stuffed this 20-pounder with quartered onions, lemon halves, and poultry herbs like thyme and sage. I buttered under the skin, rubbed olive oil on the outside, salt & peppered it very well, and roasted it at a low temp — 325 degrees — for about 4 hours. Finally, the house smelled like Thanksgiving.

I also made a simple cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries, water, sugar and a squeeze of orange.

The real hit was a potato and poblano gratin. Yukon potatoes sliced to an 1/8 of an inch (I used a mandoline), roasted and sliced poblanos, Monterey Jack cheese and a creme fraiche/half & half sauce. Barrak went nuts for it. It had more kick than I expected but it’s nice to have something spicy with the relatively bland Thanksgiving standards.

A Bon Appetit editor mentioned this dish on the masthead page of the November issue. Staffers were answering some question like, What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? “Potato and poblano gratin” was his answer — but no recipe. All the ones I found online called for corn. Blech.

Click here for the recipe. In addition to omitting corn, I doubled the sauce.



Pecan squares

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We went to an Amish buffet that specializes in fried chicken for Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone got to pick what they like. The kids ate fried chicken and corn without complaint. There were no dishes to clean up. And it was a lot cheaper than last year when we hosted. Still, it was sort of unsatisfying — and not just because we couldn’t have a drink with dinner.

I did make one dish that I consider a Thanksgiving tradition: pecan squares. With a bottom crust like buttery shortbread, and a caramelly pecan top, they’re even better than pecan pie. They last for weeks and make an indulgent breakfast. With two pounds of pecans and two and a quarter pounds of butter, they’re also hella expensive. What do you expect from Barefoot Contessa, queen of the Hamptons?

Click here for the recipe.




Trail race

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The race: Salt Fork 10-Miler at Salt Fork State Park (a two-hour drive!)

The finishing time: 2:25

Weather report: High 20s when the race started at 9 a.m.

The outfit: three layers, people…


{Patagonia sports bra, a technical tee from a half-marathon I ran this summer, and my favorite socks by Balega}


{Brooks Utopia Thermal Running Tights — love! — and a Patagonia All-Weather Zip-Neck Hoody}


{Patagonia Better Sweater gloves and Patagonia Better Sweater Beanie, both of which I wear every day when it’s cold, not just for races, and my blue Athleta ‘Striped Strength Hoodie, which is more like a jacket than a hoody; it’s also more of a royal blue but I had a filter on my phone for the photo}

Pre-race meal: Macadamia Nut Clif Bar

Post-race meal: a Stella Artois and bacon-swiss-avocado turkey burger at Ruby Tuesday’s in Cambridge, OH

Injury report: a bloodied and bruised knee from one spill on a rocky, rooty downward hill. Barrak = unscathed (this time).

Why I finished a few seconds ahead of Barrak: even though he’s much faster than me, Barrak stayed with me for the entire race. It was sweet of him. He even let me finish first.

Incredible sight: no, it wasn’t a doe and her fawn. It was the runner ahead of me, having a conversation on her cell phone

The swag: a pint glass and cool sweatshirt. Nice!

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The verdict: even though I just ran a full marathon and this was only 10.4 miles, it was a reminder that trail races are legit. MUCH harder than road races. Those uphills just gassed me. My calves were wobbling and seizing up during the home stretch. You have to be in tip-top shape.







Day-off dinner

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{at left, my plate} {at right, what celery root looks like straight out of the grocery bag}

I had Tuesday off for Veterans Day. It was so nice to play stay-at-home mom for the day. I ran the kids to school, read a little of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (I’m hooked!), changed the batteries in all the smoke/carbon monoxide/grown-ups-are-sleeping-soundly detectors, picked up the kids, got the car washed, and ta-dah…I made dinner: Barefoot Contessa’s tried-and-true roast chicken (aka Jeffrey’s chicken aka engagement chicken) along with celery root puree and sautéed spinach.

The kids even ate the chicken (small victory). But in the end, I also made spaghetti for them.

This chicken smells INSANE during the hour and 15 minutes it spends in the oven. I wish you could have smelled it. Within minutes, the house was filled with the aroma of caramelizing onion, roasting garlic and sizzling chicken fat. And it’s so easy.

The celery root puree is a nice stand-in for mashed potatoes. More flavor, lighter consistency, still pretty decadent (lots of cream and butter).

Click here for Barefoot Contessa’s roast chicken recipe (I don’t make the gravy).

Click here for Barefoot Contessa’s celery root puree recipe (watch the salt! I followed the recipe and it came out WAY salty).

To make the spinach, I just sautéed it in olive oil, then salt & peppered it. If I’d had onion, shallot or garlic, I would have chopped and sautéed one of them before throwing in the spinach.

It’s one of my favorite dinners. And the perfect bite? A little of that light celery root puree with some roasted onion heavy with chicken drippings. Heaven.

Of course, 10 seconds after finally sitting down to eat, I heard this coming from the bathroom: MOMMY!!!!!!! WILL YOU WIPE ME?!?!?!?

Barefoot’s cookbook How Easy Is That? is such a good cookbook; both of these recipes are from that book. I’ve been thinking about working my way through it page by page, and blogging about it Julia and Julia-style.








Tonight, after work, I got a facial from a fabulous young girl I know.

Here’s me letting the Pond’s Cold Cream beauty mask work its magic…
(by the way, I have boxers on; I was halfway to getting my PJs on when the appointment became available)


And here’s the facialist to the stars (and mommies):

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Check out those rad pants (thanks Grandma!) Those are my booties.

Here’s the beauty regimen she recommends:


  1. Lipstick
  2. Hair
  3. Eye
  4. Blush
  5. An LBD
  6. Red heels

And here are the products she swears by:


Floss is an important part of any beauty regimen.

Here, my facialist applies Clinique’s All About Eyes eye roller.


“This will make you match the rest of the family,” she said, liberally dusting bronzer all over my face.


Some Barbie body spray…


A vigorous brushing…


A coat of Revlon’s Gentlemen Prefer Pink.


My facialist doubles as my personal stylist…


Magnus told me I looked “20 percent better.”













Kale & butternut squash

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We were invited to watch the Ohio State – Michigan State game with our neighbors last night. They grilled Jamaican jerk wings and Buffalo chicken tenders, made from-scratch pigs in a blanket, and set out a hot cheese, corn and black bean dip. I wanted to bring a dip or munchie of some sort but we’re trying to eat more veggies and generally be more healthful, so I went looking for an alternative to my usual sour cream and mayo-based favorites.

I saw this butternut squash and kale recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s site. It’s a simple mixture that she uses to make quesadillas or pasta. I thought it would be good on baguette slices spread with goat cheese. (A few years ago, Barrak and I had a similar appetizer at Third and Hollywood in Grandview: braised greens in a little Staub dutch oven, with crostini and home-made ricotta).

I bought a baguette at Panera, sliced it, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled kosher salt and baked them for about 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven. I took those, a little log of goat cheese and the butternut squash-kale mixture to the party. Then you just kind of lay it all out on the counter and assemble as you please. It seemed like people liked it. Barrak used the leftovers in an egg scramble this morning.

One modification I made to PW’s recipe: she seasons the squash with chili powder but I couldn’t find mine so I used garam masala. That’s the spice I use when I make butternut squash soup, and I love the way they taste together. Just sweetens it up and gives it a vaguely Indian flavor. You don’t need much – maybe 1/2 a teaspoon.

Click here for the recipe.

P.S. I learned my lesson last time I peeled butternut squash… do NOT put the peelings down the garbage disposal!