Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2013: Dining Out

In recent years my family has spent Thanksgiving at the home of our friends, the Gerbers. Unfortunately this year they moved to Texas and we decided instead of finding another group to join or having Thanksgiving at home, we would go out! Obviously this was my idea and of course we selected J. Gilbert’s, my favorite restaurant, as the spot. Thankfully (ha get it?!) we were smart enough to call a couple of months in advance and lock down a 6:30PM reservation for our party of six. We received a call the day before Thanksgiving letting us know that a 4PM slot had become available, and my parents jumped on it. This was not fun for me because the earlier the reservation the more time I was going to have between finishing dinner and going to bed to think about what I’d ate. But I was the only one in that camp, so I had to deal!

The Croswell Fam!

The Croswell Fam!

I felt ridiculously hungover on Thanksgiving morning thanks to the previous evening’s festivities (Jager, never again) but made it to the gym for 30 minutes of StepMill intervals and an upper body workout. I sure am glad I went because I felt a lot better afterward, but man it was torturous during! I rushed home to shower and get cozy with coffee and the Black Friday circulars…a tradition! I felt very tempted to restrict after the gym and just not eat until dinner so that I would ensure I’d have plenty of room for the amount of food I was “bound to consume”. I texted my girl Brittany for support and she gave me the reality check I needed to push forward and fuel my body post-workout.

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Pond House Grille Side Dish Cooking Class

I received complimentary admission to this event in exchange for a blog post about my experience. All opinions are my own.

This past Friday night I had the opportunity to attend my second cooking class (read about my first one here) at Pond House Grille in Glastonbury, CT. The restaurant has been doing one class per month, and with Thanksgiving coming up this one was appropriately themed “Spice Up Your Side Dishes”.

11-15-13-pondhouse5

This month’s class had enough participants to be held in a bigger room in the restaurant’s adjacent banquet facility.

All classes are taught by Executive Chef Jordan Stein but I wouldn’t exactly call it teaching…hosting is a more accurate word. Jordan is so great with his guests! I felt like I was in his home and he was letting us all help him make Thanksgiving dinner. He made sure every “student” got some hands-on cooking time in. He would demo each step and afterwards pass it off to a volunteer – or someone he chose. Some guests were hesitant to volunteer and Jordan did a wonderful job of encouraging them to do so.

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WIAW: Thanksgiving!

Remember to enter my giveaway for a Sprigs Banjees AKA a running wallet! Entries close tomorrow night!

I have never partaken in a traditional What-I-Ate-In-A-Day WIAW. The only ones I’ve done are wordless and/or photo-dumps. Lazy Susan up in here. Well, no longer! I still need to recap Thanksgiving and Jenn made the nifty graphic below that fits my needs perfectly. How can I not partake in this week’s What I Ate on Thanksgiving Wednesday?!

For those who have struggled/are struggling with disordered eating, Thanksgiving can be a nightmare. And last year, while I had fun at the beginning of the day, it did not end too well and I spent the following days hating on and being really mean to myself. But I know with 100% certainty that I am in a better place this year, and so I went into Thanksgiving 2012 with a positive attitude. I completed part of a spin class and some strength training when I woke up, then proceeded to spend the morning doing what I traditionally do on Turkey Day – sitting on my butt, drinking coffee, watching the parade, and scouting out Black Friday deals.

Circulars and plain Chobani with strawberries…sunshine streamin’ in!

So G coffee in a snowman mug!

My delightfully lazy morning flew by and before I knew it, it was time to get ready and head over to the home of our family friends the Gerbers; that’s where we spent the holiday last year too!

My sister did my hair!

In exchange, I let her borrow one of my ideeli tops ;)

Parents and I before we left – you may recognize the dress from Fashion Friday!

I was totally ready to chow down when we arrived! And there were SO many different wines. I definitely switched it up throughout the afternoon/evening. I started with a Chilean Cabernet. Later, Chianti and Chardonnay were consumed (not together…)

Before and after dinner, I also sipped on some Disaronno, a new-to-me Italian liqueur  It’s flavored with herbs and fruits, and soaked in apricot kernel oil. SO FREAKING GOOD. I give props to my ex, Joe, for contributing this stuff to the meal.

Proud new fan.

Yes, I invited my ex-boyfriend to Thanksgiving. Again. He typically pops up at these family gatherings (and hence on the blog). I’m gonna ask you not to ask. At least we’re friends!

Where were we? Oh yeah. Libations!

Someone take the Disaronno away from this girl!

Playing around with my friend’s hipster glasses! I like them actually…

And I DID mention apps, right?

Holy incredible! My dietitian-to-be friend Meg made this spinach & artichoke heaven.

CHEESE. And veggies of course! But I was more interested in mixing the cheese with those nuts.

We “kids” did the chatting while the parents did the work. I never really cook at all so what will happen on the day I have to do my entire Thanksgiving dinner?! I know what will happen, no one will show up.

Mom and Mrs. Gerber in the kitchen!

Mr. Gerber AKA Uncle Steve carving that bird!

Do not ask me how we cooked our turkey, because I have no clue! Last year we had one from the oven and one deep-fried, but this year it was just in the oven. That is all I know.

I did both white and dark meat – you know me, always variety!

Turkey is good and all but on Thanksgiving, I prefer sides. I know many of you are on the same team as me.

Meg prepared this INCREDIBLE kale salad with walnuts and Bosc pears. Trust the RD-to-be to get the kale in!

Salad after being dressed with maple vinaigrette, along with my mom’s amazing cranberry orange relish.

Mrs. Gerber’s legendary/epic/famous/etc sausage stuffing. It’s so good.

Store-bought rolls. Meh, I skipped ‘em.

Meg’s cousin (also named Meg) was joining us from NYC since her family lives all the way in Michigan. She is vegan so we had an arrangement of butter-free sides for her. I enjoyed them too!

Butternut squash – that’s it! No butter, no nothin’, and I didn’t even want mashed potatoes after having this!

Butter-free green beans!

Butter-free mashed taters were also available, but we all know what those look like and I didn’t want any, so not photo.

You can’t even see them here…they’re covered by a green oven mitt!

My (first) plate!

We went around the table and said what we were thankful for, and this is the first year I can remember being actually moved by that “routine” and putting real thought into it when it was my turn. I blame Heather for turning me into a sap.

Oh, thanks Joe.

I chose to share that I am thankful to have parents and siblings I can truly call my best friends, and I am thankful to have the opportunity to live out my passions every day. Ain’t it the truth! Dinner was relaxing and everyone went back for seconds. I was quite full upon finishing my meal and wasn’t alone, so some of us settled in to watch “Magic Mike” (or half-watch, I was already getting exhausted and it was 6PM) while our stomachs made room for dessert (and Disaronno).

DESSERT.

Yup, fantastic dessert spread. My tooth leans more toward savory than sweet but I had seconds of dessert. Total food baby afterward but I was not having too hard of a time focusing on the family and friends surrounding me, the memories we were making with each passing second, and the growth and strength I was exhibiting by not being TOO food-focused on Thanksgiving. Yes I thought a lot about how much I ate and how full I felt, but I also was able to effectively talk back to myself and try to respond to each negative thought with a kind one.

Jessica‘s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies made an appearance as they did last year. so did some pumpkin dark chocolate chip oat cranberry cookies (mouthful of words and delicousness).

The cake/pie/piece of delight on the left was brought by cousin Meg from NYC, from a famous bakery that I unfortunately cannot recall the name of. My mom made the pumpkin muffins on the right, with cinnamon icing.

What’s Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie (right) and how about throwing in PB chocolate pie for good measure (left)?

I had at least one taste of each dessert! And have been enjoying the leftovers of both sweet and savory Thanksgiving food ever since. It makes the holiday feel like it isn’t going to end!

Zesty Carrots

I saved my favorite veggie side for last…my mom’s Zesty Carrots! I wanted to end this post with the recipe because this is such a unique, not necessarily Thanksgiving-like side that can be made any time of year!

Zesty Carrots!

Ingredients:

  • If using baby carrots (as my mom did above): 1.5 lbs (about 1.5 bags) chopped baby carrots
  • If using regular carrots: 7 medium-sized carrots scraped and cut into strips, approx 2.5 x .25 inches
  • 1/2 cup of light mayo
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of horseradish sauce
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of grated or finely chopped onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste (recommended about 1/4 teaspoon each)
  • 1/4 cup of very fine breadcrumbs (optional if you want a topping)
  • 1 tablespoon of light butter (optional if you want a topping)
  • Paprika to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F)
  2. Cook carrots in boiling water about 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain and place in large bowl.
  3. Combine mayo, horseradish sauce, onion, salt, and pepper in bowl with carrots. Mix until well-coated.
  4. Arrange coated carrots in casserole dish.
  5. If using breadcrumb/butter topping, melt butter and stir in bread crumbs. Spread mixture over top of casserole and sprinkle with some paprika.
  6. Bake in 375 degree oven for 15 minutes…and enjoy! (Can be served cold or hot)

Which part of my Thanksgiving would you have picked first for your plate?

Did you try any non-traditional Thanksgiving food this year?

What’d you do on Thursday, 11/22/12 if you do not celebrate Turkey Day?

Country Crock Broccoli Casserole and Giveaway!

Thank you to Country Crock for sponsoring this post. Visit and tell us your favorite Thanksgiving veggie for extra entries into this giveaway. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective.


My grandma sent my mom a recipe for a broccoli cheddar casserole side almost ten years ago, and as soon as fall hits, this warm, comforting dish starts appearing in our kitchen. It’s even man-approved – my dad LOVES it and usually requests that it make an appearance on Thanksgiving. The perfect delicious, healthy side dish!

I was invited, as a member of the Clever Girls Collective, to make a healthy Thanksgiving side dish using Country Crock as a substitute for butter. I’m already a big fan of their products, so the answer was a resounding, “YES!” Especially since it meant getting to eat this cheesy broccoli goodness several nights in a row (it makes great leftovers, as you can probably imagine). Country Crock has NO harmful trans fats (other types of fats are good for you in moderation, but let’s face it, trans fats are just a no-no!) and even this raw veggie lover can’t lie…veggies taste darn good with Country Crock added in!

I selected my classic favorite – Original – but they even have a Pumpkin flavor!

Cheesy Broccoli Goodness Casserole 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of Country Crock Original
  • 2 packages of frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 a soup can of skim milk
  • 1 cup of reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of chopped mushrooms

Directions:

  1. Cook broccoli and drain.
  2. Cook brown rice (I used a boxed minute-cook version).
  3. Saute chopped onion and mushrooms in Country Crock on stovetop.
  4. Combine broccoli, onion, mushrooms, rice, coup, and milk with salt/pepper to taste.
  5. Pour into a casserole dish and top with cheese.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for approximately 20-25 minutes.

Could that be any easier? That’s why casseroles make excellent side dishes. You could even make this a meal by adding a protein like grilled chicken!

Sauteed mushrooms…they weren’t in my grandma’s original recipe but made an EXCELLENT addition and added that #plantPOWER!

For more ideas for healthy Thanksgiving side dishes that can be made with Country Crock, check out their Chronicle in the Kitchen!

The crispy cheesy top is the BEST part.

Country Crock Thanksgiving Kit Giveaway

One lucky Cait Plus Ate reader (continental US only, sorry!) will win a Country Crock Thanksgiving Kit with the following:

The giveaway will run until this Friday (11/9) at 11:59PM EST and the winner will be announced early next week. To enter, you can do the following (and leave a comment for each or additional entries don’t count):

  1. Comment here and tell me your favorite food to eat on Thanksgiving. (mandatory)
  2. Visit the Crock Country Chronicle and comment on an article. Comment with the link to the article.
  3. Follow @CountryCrock on Twitter and comment here saying you did.
  4. Follow @CaitPlusAte on Twitter and comment here saying you did.
  5. Tweet “I entered to win a @CountryCrock Thanksgiving kit from @CaitPlusAte! #HolidayVeggies http://wp.me/p1SfTW-1DP” and comment here with the link to the tweet.

General Giveaway Rules: No Purchase Necessary. This giveaway is only open to residents of the continental United States. The email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner and will never be given out to anyone nor sold. The winner will be randomly chosen and contacted via email. The winner will have 72 hours to respond. Please make sure you check your junk mail folder. Good luck to all who enter!

Thank you to Country Crock for being a sponsor. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

New Camera’s Premier!

On Black Friday (a week ago today – oh yeah, it’s Friday, hell yeah!) I got a new camera at Best Buy!

Thanks to Amazon.com for the image.

I haven’t had a chance to share any photos that I’ve taken on it – until today! This post will be a combination of show and tell for both the new camera, and food I’ve eaten in the past week.

Black Friday dinner

Turkey burger and fries with spicy yellow mustard, leftover green beans and zesty horseradish carrots. Usually my favorite part of this meal would be the fries, but the carrots left over from Thanksgiving were a  real treat. Horseradish + breadcrumbs + carrots = <3

Typical Daybreak cafe au lait

I don’t remember what flavor this particular nonfat cafe au lait was, but it doesn’t really matter because Daybreak coffee is amazing no matter what the flavor.

Saturday's dinner

I had a whole wheat spaghetti bowl for dinner that night with marinara, ground turkey and broccoli. I had seconds of all but the pasta – pasta is kinda a take it or leave it thing for me.

A second picture, you know, because I had seconds?

 

I present to you: the best Thanksgiving leftovers creation of all time.

The above caption may be a bold statement, but I’m sticking to it. My mom made a leftover turkey casserole, which I had on top of a bed of leftover broccoli. And then I had seconds. And maybe thirds were involved…

Wednesday's dinner: leftovers are still king.

I got a nice healthy dose of carcinogens in the above meal. On Tuesday my mom cooked, but I was out (more on that later), so these leftovers were new to me. Crispy, Southern-style cornbread heated under the broiler for maximum crusty-ness, and chicken chickpea chili and pico de gallo served over the last of the leftover broccoli.

Man, I sure have gotten my broc on plenty in the last week, huh?

I got more and more excited about the new camera as I inserted these photos into this post – I hope you guys have enjoyed too!

What kind of cam do you use, whether for blogging or just for life?

Black Friday 2011

First thing’s first: I recommend that you head over to a fellow FitFluential Ambassador Christine’s blog, Oatmeal in my Bowl, to check out her Oatmeal Toppings feature! It’s a great link round-up of topics like fitness, food/cooking, outdoors, and challenges. A great way to find new blogs, recipes, and routines. And I may be a bit biased, because she featured my Hotel Room Workout!

Image courtesy of oatmealinmybowl.com

Also, please head over to the lovely Katie’s blog to check out her recap of the Sunday Cafes do Brasil Week Press Brunch at Bistro Cassis! My brunch was on a Saturday at Casa Restaurant, so Katie’s recap will show you a new Brazilian coffee experience in NYC. Cafes do Brasil Week may be over, but that’s no reason you can’t learn more about the coffee and try it for yourself!

Now, let’s get to it. Happy Cyber Monday! Anyone out there doing some heavy-duty online shopping today? I would, but I had enough fun and spent enough money on Black Friday to account for several shopping trips, so I’m going to try to hold back on checking websites for deals. Try.

Does anyone else LOVE Black Friday? For me, it signals the official beginning of the holiday season. As I browsed racks of clothes and displays of accessories this past Friday, the Christmas music in every store really got me into the spirit. So did picking out gifts for friends and family! Well, a friend and a family member. I can’t lie, my Black Friday shopping is usually more about getting great deals on stuff for me than gifts for others. It’s not that I’m selfish – it’s just that most of the gifts I plan to get people don’t end up being part of the Black Friday deals!

Thanksgiving morning tradition

After finishing up a spin class on Thanksgiving morning, I grabbed a nonfat cafe au lait at Whole Foods and headed home to spend time doing an activity that I probably enjoy more than the Thanksgiving meal itself: browsing circulars and making a plan of attack while watching the Macy’s parade. I had my eyes set on a new camera, and luckily the very one I wanted was on sale at about 8 different places, and all for the exact same price! The pressure was off for my big purchase, leaving Hannah and I plenty of time to devote to shopping for fun stuff like clothes, accessories, and shoes. We decided to hit Kohl’s first, then the mall.

Hannah with her 2nd cup of Dunkin after we left Kohl's.

Usually my Nana Connie joins us for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. In fact, for as long as I can remember she has been up at the crack of dawn, before Hannah and I, ready to get going on finding those deals. When my Granddad was alive, he used to come with us too. There has been only one Black Friday other than this one that Nana C didn’t join us, and Hannah and I really missed her this year. She had to work, but I know she was with us in spirit as we hunted down those bargains. We owe our Black Friday addiction to her!

Nonfat cafe au lait with cinnamon.

I selected the Nordstrom’s cafe for my cup of coffee, but held off awhile before having it. I was still feeling pretty nauseous from the evening before. We hunted down some fabulous deals! Hannah didn’t really think they were that great, but I was very satisfied with my day’s purchases.

This year's loot.

Last year’s pile looked way more impressive, but it was also a combination of not just my stuff, but Hannah’s and Nana Connie’s.

You probably saw the Trader Joe’s bag creepin in this year’s photo. Of course – I was right nearby, how could I NOT make a stop? I went in to stock up on my favorite veggie chips, but ended up leaving with a bunch of goodies!

Lentil chips, veggie chips, and everything pretzel slims.

All of the above three carbalicious snacks have crazy large serving sizes, something which I am all about.

Roasted peppers for salads, horseradish hummus, dill pickles, and egg white salad.

I’ve seen the egg white salad on Monica’s blog before, but couldn’t remember whether or not she liked it. I guess I’ll find out if I do! I’ve already been devouring the pickles and peppers in my salads.

I’ve been dying to show you my favorite purchase of the entire day:

Wait…I didn't buy this. That's a joke.

KIDDING. No, that prize has to go to my new camera from Best Buy. I was correct to not be worried about finding it later on in the day. I didn’t arrive until about 1, and there were still plenty left. For $20 more, I also got a bundle with a case, memory card, and cute mini tripod!

Forever 21 wasn’t having any sales, but their prices are usually fine by me anyway, especially their cheap accessories.

Ann Taylor Loft had 50% off of every single item in the store, so I got two shirts, and the Icing‘s buy one, get one 50% off earring promo and my tendency to think of multi-packs as a good value led to me being fairly stocked on earrings for about the next ten years.

Kohl’s completely surprised and impressed me with the Lauren Conrad collection. So much cute stuff! And I’m clearly obsessed with pleats. I love how everything this season is so delicate-looking.

My old high-school standby Hollister was selling everything at 40% off, even sale stuff! So I naturally headed straight for the clearance rack, but I did spring for a full-price (before the 40%) pair of corduroy jeggings as well.

Because I really need more yoga pants, or a skirt in the winter.

Another part of my family’s Black Friday tradition is the lunch we have each year with my dad. He doesn’t shop, just meets us for the food! This year we went somewhere I haven’t been in too long, Ruby Tuesday’s. I love it there, and I was also really craving their salad bar and veggie sides after my indulgent evening.

Garlic cheddar cheese biscuits!

I devoured a biscuit when they were placed in front of us, because at that point my nauseousness had subsided and I was starved.

Good thing I didn’t have to wait long to put in my order for the salad bar and help myself! I always ask for a side of pickles and a side of salsa to dump on my salads at Ruby’s as well. Does  anyone else think their croutons are the best thing in the world? I’ve never been able to find better ones!

Grilled asparagus, grilled zucchini, and roasted spaghetti squash.

I got the Veggie Trio combo deal and chose the above items as my three sides to go with the salad bar. Ruby’s has so many sides options. I absolutely love it! How many restaurants offer spaghetti squash?! I’ve only seen it at Ruby’s and Bonefish.

My gym session later that day was less than stellar (easy elliptical), but it still made me feel better because I sweated out some of that wine, went home, showered, and got cozy.

Oh, and before heading home, I treated myself to one last Black Friday tradition: a manicure! More specifically, a polish change. As you can see, I was in desperate need.

OPI "I Brake for Manicures"

What was your best Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday purchase ever?

Thanksgiving 2011: A Hot Mess

Good morning! I hope everyone is enjoying their long weekends. I know I am. I have been so confused about the days, and nothing is better than that because that means I’m not at work the usual Monday-Friday. I can’t believe the holiday season is now truly upon us – or that it’s going to be 67 degrees today. SO GLAD that winter is holding off (for now).

I feel like I have so much to share. I have a couple events I attended over the last couple of weeks to recap, but first order of business is of course to tell everyone about Thanksgiving. And Black Friday…but that’ll come later.

Caitlin + Cabernet = Hot Pics

I’ve started referring to this Thanksgiving as Black Thursday for the reason that I went a little overboard on wine before…during…and after dinner. Cabernet is DANGEROUSLY addicting! I’ll get the negative out of the way here and admit that I was super hard on myself about having too much wine, acting stupid, and being fuzzy on later parts of the evening. I lost track of my tolerance and felt so embarrassed, and also felt concerned over the alcohol. In these situations I often irrationally worry about how “bad” alcohol is said to be for you, how you “shouldn’t” have more than one drink per day, how “easily” things can become a habit, etc. All of those thoughts are messages that I think invade the minds of many women each day, thanks to how pervasive those topics are in the media, especially this time of year. I love fitness and health magazines, blogs, etc as much as the next girl (here I am writing my own), but I also wish there was more media literacy education out there to help people realize that indulgence isn’t the end of the world, and those articles they may read about all the bad parts of drinking never mention the other side of it – there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself every now and then. No one is perfect and I tend to beat myself up when situations like this make me see that I am not. I am not blaming the media for this, but I do know that plenty of little blurbs I’ve read in “Shape” and “Women’s Health” were popping up in my head Thursday night as I periodically woke up to chug water.

I certainly didn’t mean for this entry to start with me talking about media literacy and guilt over alcohol, but I find that kind of writing therapeutic. Anyone else have any thoughts they want to share? Now, let’s get to the good stuff, because I did have a great time throughout the evening at our family friends, the Gerbers’s, house.

May have lost my footing, but had a good time doing it.

Another family of friends, the Aubuchons, joined us at the Gerber house. All three of our families moved from Florida to CT thanks to the “men of the house” and their positions at Pratt & Whitney, and we have known each other since all of us kids were babies. It’s great that we have all moved together and can gather at special occasions throughout the years and grow up with each other.

Mr. Aubuchon carves his deep fried turkey!

Greg and Joe also came with my family, and I loved spending the evening hanging out with them. I hadn’t seen Greg in a few months, since I went to visit him in Boston (he goes to BU’s School of Law), and it’s always fun to see Joe.

Joe, focus!

The guys and I were all SO ready for dinner when we arrived, and the suspense before the meal was killing us. Joe even resorted to affectionately petting the fried turkey upon its arrival, and Greg pre-gamed dinner with one of the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that Megan made – turns out she’s a fan of How Sweet It Is too!

Unhand that turkey!

How could you go wrong with one of Jessica’s creations?

Don’t worry, there’s no way that was spoiling dinner.

Cookie model?

Some appetizers were set out for people to enjoy with drinks, including the famous Gerber buffalo chicken dip.

So cheesy. So tasty.

Before dinner, the family gathered around all of the food and said a prayer of thanks. Then we dove into everything buffet style – filled up plates in the kitchen, then brought them to the table.

Mrs. Gerber’s famous stuffing SO GOOD.

Potatoes au gratin

Sweet potatoes topped with candied nuts and crumbs – LIKE DESSERT.

My mom’s zesty horseradish carrots.

My plate! I love tasting plates :)

Dinner was sooo good. I had: mashed potatoes, squash, turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish, green beans, sweet potato, and carrots. I didn’t really care for the cranberry relish, so I didn’t end up having more than a couple bites of that. Everything else was gone though. Joe, Greg, and I ended up being the only kids who invaded the “adult table” but we had fun!

Love you Dad!

After dinner, us “kids” went down to the basement, where shenanigans ensued.

Ain’t we lovely?

After getting beat by the bro in the first round of a ping pong tourney.

Pic crazy!

And dessert was had, of course.

Pumpkin pies!

Apple pie and pecan pie!

My dessert plate

I may have had seconds of dessert. To be honest, I am not sure. I am sure that I was asleep by about 8pm though.

Cheesy staircase pose

Thanks to everyone who wished me a Happy Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the blog world ate on this special day!

Have you ever beat yourself up over an indulgence? What was your favorite thing you ate on Thanksgiving (or that Thursday if you don’t celebrate)?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Probably stealing a title from a zillion other bloggers today, but just wanted to pop in and say Happy Thanksgiving! I actually woke up super early and skipped the Manchester Road Race in favor of an hour-long sweaty spin session. I just wanted to get going bright and early! Now I have no desire to do anything else except sit on my butt all day and drink my coffee, and I think I just might do that. Oh, and eat. Everyone have a fabulous day, whether it’s Thanksgiving for you or not! And GOOD LUCK to all Black Friday deal-seekers tomorrow!

J. Gilbert’s: The New Menu

Thanks for sharing your Birchbox finds on yesterday’s post! Please feel free to keep sharing each month – I love comparing box contents!

I cannot BELIEVE it is Thanksgiving tomorrow! I am so very excited, but not really because of the food. Thanksgiving dinner is tasty, but never really consists of any of my very favorite dishes. I’m more so excited to spend time with my immediate family, as well as close friends that I haven’t seen in awhile. I’m also not travelling (well, I do have to drive 5 minutes…) which I’m pretty ecstatic about. My dad, sister, and I will also be getting our run on in the morning at CT’s biggest race (15,000 registered runners this year, and plenty more don’t register), the Manchester Road Race, a 4.5 mile run that ALSO takes place only 5 minutes from my house! It’s one of those courses filled with runners in crazy costumes and bands playing along the side of the road. Even back when I never exercised, I did this race each year!

To get you hyped for the feasts coming your way tomorrow, I want to do a post on a delicious meal I had recently. J. Gilbert’s Wood-fired Steaks & Seafood just might be my favorite restaurant (I do know it’s the home of my favorite dessert, a chocolate velvet cake with banana liquer, as well as my favorite happy hour, which I have often mentioned). They also will be open on Thanksgiving and their special prix fixe menu for that evening (the regular menu will also be available) consists of both traditional and non-traditional foods!

The famous dessert!

Our family has celebrated many a special occasion there.

Enjoying Avalon Cabernet, one of my favorite wines, with my mom at a birthday dinner. Nice one, Mom!

I used to get the same thing every single time: a 60z filet with asparagus and a baked potato. J. Gilbert’s has the best baked potatoes I’ve ever had because the skins come rubbed with plenty of sea salt. Their steaks are always cooked to perfection.

Awkwardly posing (as usual) my typical meal.

I have “revealed” the wonder of J. Gilbert’s to a lot of my friends, including several couples who have held dates there after I suggested it. That includes Jeff and Kim, some of my regular dining partners! I even have an “in” since I know the head hostess and her younger sister, who buses and is also a hostess. Yes, I’m a little smug right now. Sorry I’m not sorry!

Jeff hangin' with the same meal, but he opted for lobster mac n'cheese for his starch.

However, since I started expanding my food horizons, I have taken to trying to order something different each time! I’m now at a foodie stage in which I love trying new things, so I was so happy to learn that J. Gilbert’s updated their menu last Wednesday – and that just so happened to be a day that Jeff, Kim, and another foodie friend, Evan, had a trip planned to use a coupon!

The new menu in all its glory! Sorry for the glare!

It took awhile for me to decide what to get. I knew I had to get a new item, but I also couldn’t deny the craving I was having for my usual filet/asparagus/baked potato. Easy solution: go with a surf n’ turf combo!

My "surf" combo choices.

I’ve had the shrimp before, but it was of the BBQ variety. Now the shrimp on the menu is bourbon maple, which definitely called to me with a fall-feeling. Done and done!

Bad weather led to backed-up reservations and some slow service from the kitchen, but our server Sergio was extremely polite and apologetic, and we had some sourdough bread to hold us over. I opted out this time though, because I wasn’t that hungry yet.

Jeff and Evan also decided to start with an older menu item, but one that was new to them, the Chicken Tortilla Soup. What a fun presentation!

Yes, that is a bowl of broth-less soup fillings.

The food runner set each bowl down, and THEN poured the broth over its contents. Genius!

Sorry for the blur! Trying to quickly catch it.

 Evan doesn’t like guac (I know, what?) so he wasn’t a fan of that part of the soup, but other than that both boys seemed to really enjoy it. I’m sure adding the broth last-minute means the ingredients are less soggy and taste more fresh!

When the main portions of food finally made it out, I was ready to chow down.

I also ordered a side of mango salsa for my steak and a side of pico de gallo for my potato skin – free of charge!

How awesome does that baked potato skin look? I always save that for last. I asked for the filet medium rare, and it came back medium, which is rare for J. Gilb (as I so affectionately call it).  However, I usually have filet medium, and went for medium rare today on a whim, so I still loved it as much as usual. But when I do get to have it medium rare, I think I’ll enjoy it more!

The maple bourbon shrimp was just as I’d imagine it’d be. The maple flavor was so pronounced and enhanced the shrimp SO much. 10/10!

Seared Georges Bank Sea Scallops

Jeff went for the scallops with lobster risotto and champagne beurre blanc. He and I have had scallops from J. Gilbert’s before and were blown away, and he said nothing changed this time. Still blown away, still awesome. This was an old menu item, but it never gets old.

Mesquite Plank Salmon

Kim ordered the salmon with yukon smashed potatoes and green beans with pecans (new side items). The older menu had salmon on it of course, but like the shrimp, it was a BBQ flavor. This salmon came on an actual plank of wood! She finished it all up and said the smashed potatoes were just as good as her usual go-to side, the cheddar mashed potatoes.

Mishima Ranch Wagyu Burger

Last but not least, Evan ordered the wagyu (another word for kobe beef) burger with sweet potato fries. This selection is completely new to the menu and looked quite delicious, but Evan said the pretzel bun was too much for the beef and too overpowering. He’s also not the biggest sweet potato fry fan (I KNOW, first no guac, now no sweet potatoes, who is this guy?!) but Kim, Jeff, and I polished them off for him no problem.

After reading this post, or just looking at its photos, I’m sure you’re more than ready for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night (if you celebrate). Or just any dinner! If any CT residents out there try J. Gilbert’s, please let me know what you think – and I highly recommend a reservation!

Which dish in this post would you most want to order?

FitFluential, a Video, and Thanksgiving Decor!

Work continues to be crazy so I continue to give you guys a substantial post each day, but after yesterday’s long one I figure I’ve earned something short and sweet today, right?

Elena sent me a YouTube video of the Cafes do Brasil brunch at Casa Restaurant that I attended last weekend, and I thought I’d share it with you guys so you can see a little of what I experienced! If you’re short on time just flip to about halfway through and you’ll catch a glimpse of me ;-)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw65r0JJHis]

I’m also excited to announce that I have been invited to become a FitFluential Ambassador! FitFluential is an awesome company (I’ve been following them on Twitter and Facebook since I started blogging) that connects bloggers with brands and with each other. I’ve already met some great people in the company as well as other bloggers and ambassadors. I’m so excited to see where this position takes me! And if you are a blogger who wants to become part of the FitFluential family, I totally recommend that you apply.

Now I’ll leave you with the latest additions to my cubicle – Thanksgiving decor time!

Got that sign at Edmondson’s Farm stand – same place where I got my Halloween cubicle stuff!

Had to give my hand-painted giraffe a friend!

Have you heard of FitFluential? Do you decorate for Thanksgiving at all? Can you believe Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK?!