Thanksgiving: Part 1

Traveling for the holidays will inevitably be rife with challenges even under the best of circumstances. But while this might have conjured hesitation, when we decided to head down to Florida with the kiddos, my brother and his family, and my parents for a week in the sunshine, we knew it was going to be an excellent time. Seeing Henry and Owen with their cousins is more magical than Disney, but going to Disney it also pretty magical.

We spent the first two days of our vacation in the “world’s amusement park capitol,” and hustled our way from fast-pass to fast-pass along with 7 billion others. Despite what you might be feeling, it was not as claustrophobic as it might seem. Jessie did an insanely amazing job pre-planning the Disney extravaganza which helped us navigate the rides and break up our day with perfectly timed meals and breaks. Epcot was our first destination and since everyone was partying it up over at the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s 90th birthday party (which we had not idea was happening), the park was pretty quiet and we were able to ride on some of the attractions multiple times with no wait. This definitely helped when the Nemo Ride was a big smash hit for the boys. We ate and drank our way through England and Germany and left feeling blissful content, full, and ready for bed. Our second day at Hollywood Studios was a little less smooth in that the crowds were more present.  With Toy Story land opening in June, the desire to ride on the slinky dog roller coaster was outweighed by the over 2 hour long line to do so. But we had a great time on Toy Story Mania and the Alien Ride and taking in the intricate details of the Disney’s imagination for the space. Smith even got to be the “Kid Director” for the Indiana Jones Spectacular which he literally talked about for days leading up to be chosen at random to fulfill his dream. Talk about having the best day ever!! Owen force pushed Kylo Ren and we ended our night with our best meal of the trip over at the Boathouse in Disney’s Springs where we ate one slice of baked Alaska that took the restaurant 5 days to prepare and was carved into massive heaps able to fill the bellies of all 10 of us.

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From Disney we drove across the state to the beach. Eight years ago, David and I got married at the Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast. It was crazy driving back up to the front gate of the resort now with our kids and reflecting on how much our lives have changed and how much life has just happened in 8 years. David and I got to walk through the spots where we had our ceremony and reception and re-imagine some of the highlights together. We took our kids with our family to the beach. Henry was confined to a beach blanket in order to keep sand out of his massive cast but he was SUCH a trooper and just played in the sand and brought lego man down to build a world for them. Owen was also the sand king and sat beside Henry savoring the texture of it, while the rest of us looked for shells, put our feet in the ocean, and played silly games. My favorite part of this segment of the trip was the mornings waking up to the sunrise. For some reason, the boys slept in everyday which allowed us to wake gracefully and watch the sunrise over a cup of coffee and in jammies.

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Then we blended the families! David’s dad lives not too far away and one afternoon we packed up the troops and headed out to the woods to visit. It was so nice having the opportunity to see his Dad and step-mom, grandma, brother & his family, as well as, a cousin and his family. Then my family arrived and all the kids played together inside and outside of the house. They launched a potato cannon, toasted marshmallows, and wrestled each other. My favorite part was watching them hug goodbye because you could see the connection they made even in that short visit. Getting to grab on to my sister-in-law, Heather, and her family was such a treat after not seeing them for a long time. And it was so crazy to be able to pick up right where we all left off over some wine, laughs, and good chicken!

This was probably the first vacation where I came home and did not immediately wish for more time to decompress. It was a nice mix of Disney Mania, Beachy Breezes, and Family Bonding.  I hope you had a positive Thanksgiving too!

eric’s chicken noodle soup

On Saturday afternoon, we invited our college friends over for a turkey dinner potluck. It was so much fun. Of course, I loved being with everyone and sharing a meal around the table together as a family. And, the food was quite delicious as well. We prepared the turkey, stuffing, and gravy and each friend brought a family favorite along for a side or for dessert. The house was warm with Thanksgiving aromas. It was a decadent meal and there were a few of us who wished we could curl up on the couch in our stretchy pants.

As was inevitable, David and I were left with so many leftovers. We were a little perplexed with how to handle all of the remaining turkey. I have never been very good at re-purposing leftovers. Thankfully, Eric, Laura’s husband, shared his delicious chicken noodle soup recipe which we substituted with our turkey meat. Coming home from work tonight, this meal was easy to whip together and so delicious. We are both excited to eat these leftovers again tomorrow night. And, to be honest I see this becoming a staple in our home. Thanks Eric!!

Ingredients:

Roast chicken or turkey leftovers (we used 2 legs, a little breast meat and 2 wings from the turkey)

2 carrots

2 celery sticks

chicken stock (enough for 6-8 cups)

rice noodles

onion

garlic

olive oil

red pepper flakes

tarragon

marjoram

basil

salt and pepper

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 7.33.39 PMStart by heating olive oil in a pot. Saute chopped onion and 4 diced garlic cloves until translucent.

IMG_5197Add in the turkey or chicken leftovers. Cook together with the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until meat is warmed through and browns a little on the edges.

IMG_5199Add in the chopped carrots, celery and the spices: 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp marjoram, 1 tsp tarragon, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp red pepper flakes. Saute together and cook 2-3 minutes.

IMG_5200Pour in the chicken stock. I added about 8 cups of the broth. Bring to a rolling boil and then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Finally, add in the rice noodles and cover the soup again for 5-8 minutes to cook the noodles. Serve and truly enjoy!

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