Thanksgiving With My Homies

Happy Thanksgiving! :)

When I showed Kevin this picture, he said: “They never smiled in pictures back then anyways.” Haha.

I woke up at 6:30 this morning! I have no idea why. Probably because Kevin was off work and made me go to bed early on Wednesday. As soon as I remembered it was Thanksgiving, I started posting Facebook messages to everyone in my DR crew. Even though Thanksgiving isn’t exactly a Dominican holiday, I really miss spending the day with my whole tribe. My first time cooking a Thanksgiving dinner was there, and we have a lot of fun memories — including setting the turkey on fire!

I miss my family too — it’s weird for me to not be around a huge group for a holiday. Maybe you don’t know this, but I have five siblings! And my older brother already has three kids! But it just didn’t work out for us to go hom this year, so I was thankful to be spending the day with my little family. After all, Thanksgiving is a very special day for Kevin and me – we got engaged on Thanksgiving 2010, and Thanksgiving 2009 was his first time visiting me in the DR as my boyfriend. Haha.

The first thing we did this morning (of course) was hit up the gym! We had originally thought about doing our long run this morning, but that didn’t happen. I’ve been sidelined by an extremely minor, but highly irritating injury — I think I slept weirdly on a really sore right arm. I can’t straighten it… It’s annoying, but I’m sure it’ll go away in a few days. So I ran 4 miles and called it quits.

By the way, I saw JILLIAN MICHAELS say on tv to eat whatever you want, and workout tomorrow!! Done. :) Kevin was thankful she said that. Haha.

In our house, Kevin makes the turkey because I don’t like touching gross raw meat. Yeah, Mom, I’m still not over that at 28! :) I know Kevin is just hoping to help me avoid it so I don’t turn vegetarian on him.

He also pitched in to peel potatoes while he watched some football. I had a traumatic experience with a potato peeler last time we had mashed potatoes. Haha.

I made the bread. I love bread so much.

Our Thanksgiving table — and no real vegetables in sight. Haha. We picked our favorites and just made those… there was tons more potatoes, bread, and turkey in the kitchen!

Kevin chose a Psalm of Thanksgiving to read before the meal.

We heartlessly locked the dogs up while we ate — I was honestly afraid Boyd would break the china!

But I think they thought it was worth the wait for some dark meat (yuck)!

Kevin is not a fan of waiting for dessert until after clean-up… A perk of being an adult!! (Finally!) So he just had some before AND after. First up, pumpkin pie with gingersnap crust and the filling from Skinnytaste.

I was serious when I said I can’t straighten my right arm!!! Haha. I can’t stop laughing at this picture. And I have a nice black bruise on my leg to match from wiping out on box jumps. And I haven’t washed my hair in a while. I’m super talented.

We all had a wonderful day… and it’s still going on! Only 9PM! Hooray!!!!

What are you up to tomorrow!? Kevin and I are so excited to decorate our new house for Christmas!! Our stuff was mostly in storage last year in our apartment, and we couldn’t have a Christmas tree there. I can’t believe that I’m 28, and this will be my very first time getting a Christmas tree of my own!!! We’re not planning to shop. I prefer the day after Christmas.

What was the best thing you ate today? Bread.

Do you like to eat dessert right away… or take a break and come back? I always remember being impatient for dessert time when I was younger, but now I’m definitely in no rush. I really just want the frosting anyways!

The Best Carrot Cake Ever, Mini Pumpkin Pies, & Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Excuse me! I’m trying to catch up on all the goodness that was our Thanksgiving weekend.

I feel that the desserts deserve a post of their own.

On Kevin’s side of the family, his brother was making pie. I was thrilled to be relieved of that duty. I don’t enjoy working with pie crusts. Just not my thang. I came up with the idea to make my husband’s favorite dessert, carrot cake (or is it apple crisp?). I wanted to do it with a twist. This Orange-Pineapple Carrot Cake from Bon Appetit looks incredible! But Kevin through a hissy fit so I went with the original.

When Kevin’s dad told us he had tons of carrots on hand, I don’t think we realized how FILTHY they would be. Kevin tackled the job of scrubbing them which he barely finished by the time I had the rest of ingredients mixed together.

I am an extremely nervous cake flipper. So much so that Kevin looked at me and said,”Shouldn’t we pray first?” So I made him since he was being all cute & sarcastic with me. The pans took a little bite of each cake, but nothing that was noticeable underneath gobs of delicious cream cheese frosting!

Our masterpiece. My sister-in-law did the honors of frosting it. I’m a nervous froster as well. Basically all I’m good for is mixing together the cake! :) And I have a keen sense of timing when things are done in the oven. I haven’t burnt a pan of Cookie Friday cookies yet! *knock on wood*

This really IS the Best Carrot Cake Ever so I’m going to add this recipe:

Birthday Carrot Cake (via The Noshery)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans  —> I always skip this!
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup pecans chopped (optional, for garnish)  —> We happened to have walnuts!

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 9 inch round pans.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth. (DO NOT USE ELECTRIC MIXER) Stir in carrots, pecans, rasins and pineapple.

Split evenly between both 9 inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Don’t panic, the center will sink a little. Allow to cool.

To make the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until creamy.

I heard a rumor that certain nephew would be disappointed without some pumpkin so I did make these. Pies in cupcake tins made with packaged pie crusts? That I can handle! These were so adorable that I had to show them off to everyone! I followed the directions from Make & Takes.

My father-in-law requested “chocolate” and my mother-in-law had cheesecake on the brain so this is what I came up with. I wanted to do some smaller desserts since super rich desserts would be a tad bit overwhelming for non-McMillin appetites. I found a really simple recipe for Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes on Betty Crocker. I realized that I called them Chocolate Cheesecake BITES in the title, but I just didn’t want to use the word mini twice! ;) These were really easy and turned out famously. Mine are a little on the large side because I only had one cupcake tin handy and was too tired on Thanksgiving Eve to stay up any later just to bake another pan!

Reminder: Maintain no gain!

By the way, check out my workouts (on Daily Mile) for Thanksgiving week.

I’m really happy we didn’t miss a day even with all the baking and traveling! It was a challenge, but you can do it if you set your mind to it! You really can! Do you think I really wanted to get up at 5AM so I could workout on Tuesday before work since we had to leave for the airport? Or on Wednesday after I faceplanted in Mile 1? :) I mean, it wasn’t my best mileage of all time. And I probably ate it all back, but I thought it was a good balance for the dessert post! Haha. :)  For more on this scintillating topic, check out an article in the NY Times about Curbing Holiday Weight Gain With Exercise.

Do you prefer to bake pies or cakes? Cakes!!!!! And preferably desserts that don’t have to be taken out of the pan. I like to minimize my meltdowns. Ramekins are the answer!

How are you staying committed to your health/fitness throughout the holidays? Staying totally committed to exercise really helps. I just consider it a non-negotiable in my schedule. :)

P.S. If you missed it, I think the Running For Turkey post was one of my favorite ever!!!!!