Amazon is ready for all your Thanksgiving entertainment needs... and wants

I have 3 orders in at Amazon right now - although none of them are for Thanksgiving items.  However, when I stumbled upon their Thanksgiving 'homepage' I thought it was beautifully done and suddenly I started to dream about beautiful serving dishes, simple holiday decor, some new small appliances, pretty ways to display the desserts and appetizers...  none of which I need, but I admit there are a few I wouldn't mind having. 

I realized that since I am an affiliate, I should just link that page on my site - that way my readers can drool over the beautiful images and dream (or ponder, or even shop for) some of the items they want... or actually need!


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A Thanksgiving Tradition of Sorts - posting 'THAT' Thanksgiving Letter - the "Marney" letter

Years ago a letter started to make its way around the social cybersphere at Thanksgiving time.  Supposedly it was a real letter received by someone from a family member named Marney who obviously had some serious control issues.  Her planning letter to family in preparation of their Thanksgiving get together was so hilariously over the top that the recipient of the said-letter posted it online.

Boy did it take off!

For a couple years it was everywhere on the net... everywhere.  It's faded a bit since then but rears its head every Thanksgiving in corners of the blogging world.  I love it because it makes me shake my head and chuckle and smirk.

One year I painstakingly found items on Amazon that would be Marney approved and listed them after the letter...  this year I've decided to repost that edition just in case anyone wanted (or seriously needed) some of those items for real.  I am not going to go through every single link (I would but I'm absolutely pressed for time and simply cannot do it right now) so some of the items might not still be available, as this list was compiled a few years ago.  However, Amazon usually will list a similar product if that is the case.

For those of you looking for the hilariously funny, over the top, control issue crazy woman "Marney" letter...  this one is for you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

From: Marney

As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.

Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.

All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.

HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike Byron Family
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don't feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don't care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Daz Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.

The Bob Byron Family
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).

The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).

The Michelle Bobble Family
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel - please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife

The June Davis Family
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of clos du bois chardonnay

The Amy Misto Family (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.

Looking forward to the 28th!!


 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

While most of us have seen this Thanksgiving Letter floating around the internet on one site or another since 2009-ish, I thought I would help out poor Marney's family by providing them with some links to dishes and spoons (and pie plates) I found on Amazon that should be "Marney Approved"!    All in good fun.  :)

The Mike Byron Family
2-Quart Casserole Dish with Lid
Serving Spoon (not Soup Spoon!)
Ice Cream Toppings:  Mega Sprinkle Set

The Bob Byron Family
CorningWare  Casserole Dish with Lid
Good Grips Stainless Steel Spoon
Pancetta by Beretta (14 ounce)

The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
Clear 2pc Appetizer Server with Ice Tray (Vegetable Platter)

The Michelle Bobble Family
 3-Quart Casserole with Cover
Del Duca Sliced Prosciutto
Stainless Steel Pie Server

The June Davis Family
Please see the links above under Mike and Bob's names for the regulation size casserole with lid- for the large plastic container to hold the 'back up' mashed potatoes, try this one; Rubbermaid Rectangle 24-Cup Food Storage Container

The Amy Misto Family
Deep Dish Stoneware Pumpkin Pie Dish
9 Inch Ceramic Pie Plate, Red
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Cheesy Faux Pasta Bake - Cottage Cheese and Sour Cream Noodles Redone Lower Carb

Although foil lined pans don't make for 'pretty' pictures - not only is this website a 'real' cooking website and not at all about pretty pictures - but it makes it a heck of a lot easier to clean so I almost always line my pans with foil!

If you follow my website or follow me on Twitter, you'll know I've been traveling out of state every other week to help out a family member.  Arriving home every other weekend I'm then trying to play 'catch up' with piles of mail, deliveries, any cleaning, repairs, account balancing and whatnot to get done.  This week when I returned home I realized we had some sour cream and some cottage cheese that needed to be used up.  So - with those two items inspiring the choice for dinner that night, the side dish became;  Cottage Cheese and Sour Cream Noodles!  Except we try not to eat much high-carb pasta so low carb it was.

Faux Cottage Cheese and Noodles - lower carb

1 - 7 oz. pk Pasta Zero or other Shirataki Noodle (optional: or just use more zucchini instead)
2 medium zucchini - spiralized (or use all Shirataki or Pasta Zero noodles)
2 cups mild cheddar cheese
1 c sour cream
1 c cottage cheese
2 oz. cream cheese
2 T butter
1 egg
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray your pan with cooking spray - a 9X13 pan works well.  Spiralize your zucchini into 'noodles' - I cut each zucchini into 3 chunks and spiralized those individually so the strands aren't quite as long.  Boil the shirataki noodles for 2 minutes in the microwave and then rinse under water for 1-2 minutes.  Drain.  Mix the cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese and cubed cream cheese.  Add melted butter, salt and pepper.  Mix and add the zucchini noodles and shirataki noodles.  Pour into the baking dish.  Sprinkle with a little more cheese on top if you wish.  Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, uncover and continue baking about 15-20 minutes until it's bubbling, hot and golden on top.  Let cool 10 minutes to set up a bit before serving.

The two ingredients that inspired this for dinner:  USING UP COTTAGE CHEESE AND SOUR CREAM

If you don't have a spiralizer (link below) you can just julienne or cut your zucchini into small pieces - or use all Shirataki Noodles instead

Shirataki noodles - boiled for 2 minutes in the microwave and rinsed and drained

I mixed the two together, placed them into the pan and put the cheese mixture on top - OR you can mix it in.  Either way.

Ready for the oven - top with foil, bake half the time, remove the foil and finish baking golden brown.

A couple products related to this post are available through Amazon if you can't find them locally - although I found my Pasta Zero noodles at Walmart.

Shirataki 'pasta'

And if your ceramic bowls get heavy use like mine do and they have gotten a chip out of them (like mine do) then these bowls might be on your Christmas wish-list as they are on mine!

OXO Good Grips 3-pc Mixing Bowls

My favorite spiralizer EVER.  (And I've used the Pampered Chef version as well as a couple others... nope.  My heart belongs to this one!)  I found mine at TJMaxx but Amazon has them too!

OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Spiralizer with Strong Hold Suction

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Homemade Artisan Bread: Chewy and hearty - only 4 ingredients and no kneading!

I LOVE this recipe.  Only 4 main ingredients and you can mix it up with a wooden spoon in a bowl or bucket.  No kneading.  No fuss.  


Artisan Bread

1 ½ T yeast
1 ½ T salt
3 c water, lukewarm
6 ½ c flour
Baking/Pizza Stone

Dump yeast, salt and water into a large bowl, bucket or container.
Add flour.
Mix with a wooden spoon just until the flour is incorporated. No dry flour, no lumps.
Put a loose lid on or cover loosely with plastic wrap. Not air tight.  Let set at room temperature about 2 hours.
Sprinkle bit of flour so your fingers don’t stick. Cut off grapefruit sized piece with serrated knife.
Work in your hands to make a ball, pulling top layer to bottom.  Round and smooth.
Place on cornmeal sprinkled board.
Let set 40 minutes.
Sprinkle with flour, slash the loaf with a few slices.
Bake at 375 preheated oven with an empty pan in the bottom.
Slide on middle shelf baking stone.
Pour a cup of water in the hot empty pan and close door quickly to steam the bread.
Baked till top is golden brown - about 20-25 minutes.
Hard crust and moist, soft bread!

NOTE:  This bread is best served fresh.
I like it warm and eaten the first day.
I personally don't think it 'saves' well the second or third day because the texture changes.
I'd use it for croutons, cube & save for Thanksgiving stuffing, or process for bread crumbs and freeze any 
leftovers after the 2nd day. That's just my personal opinion though.

Mix it with a wooden spoon

Let it rise and do it's thing

It's ready!

Pull it out and prepare your bread rounds

Small or large - it's up to you! Just chop or pull some dough and form. No kneading.

Ready for the oven!

Crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside. Love this bread with soup!

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - An American Housewife at Amazon

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Product Review Time: A great company for Christmas Cards, Custom Planners & More - Purple Trail!

About two weeks ago I was going to get ahead of the game by ordering our Christmas Cards.  Over the past ten years or so, I've preferred to design and order cards online so in that time I've probably used every 'big name' stationary company out there.  Some I've liked, others have missed the mark.  Some have been affordable, others are absolutely insane unless you somehow found a great coupon to use.  Eh, I'm not 'married' to any of them, so every year a search would commence for style, pricing, options, quality, etc. 

As I got ready to order this years cards, I spent a couple evenings doing the typical internet search for a handful of companies to browse, then looked at the styles they offered this year, and the prices (of course) and then the shipping charges.

In the end I found one I was going to use, but begrudgingly. I just wasn't happy or excited about any of the options 'out there' this year.  They were all the same (literally - the same designs on a number of the big companies!) and although I went through the motions of the design and had it sitting in my 'cart' I couldn't bring myself to hit the purchase button.  I decided to hold off that night and wait to order them in the morning.

Boy am I glad I did!  The next morning as I checked emails, I had an email from a company called "Purple Trail" asking me to review their Holiday cards. Since I don't have a 'go to' company for our holiday cards, photo gifts or other stationary needs, I was happy to give a new-to-me company a try.

Purple Trail offers a large variety of holiday cards - from general holiday greetings to religious-based; from photo cards to non-photo sentiments, even PET based holiday cards!  From photo gifts to business needs, stationary, custom made planners and a plethora of photo gifts.

My experience:

A large variety of styles, sentiments and price points for almost any event, invitation, wedding or holiday card/invitation


Let's get designing!
After looking over their website, I dove into the card styles and picked two I liked.  At first I was going to choose between them but then I stopped and thought, 'why'?  So I designed our photo with two different styles.  The editing was pretty similar to a number of other sites so it's user-friendly and fairly easy to dive right in to personalize your photo and cards.


I love the look of matching, customized envelopes with our cards.  Purple Trail offers plain white envelopes with your order for free, but for just a little more you can choose a matching design and have them printed with your name and address on them.

For those that are either too busy or just don't like addressing and mailing their own holiday cards, Purple Trail offers a mailing service!  They will address, stuff, seal and mail your cards or invitations directly to your list of recipients.  


What did I think?
First off:  GREAT customer service.  When designing the shaped card in the photo below I accidentally had my photo up a little to high in the editor and didn't notice.  When I placed my order, they caught it - and emailed me to let me know the head of the tall-guy in the photo was going to be cut off a bit and although they would be happy to print them that way if I wanted to, they invited me to go back and edit the card before they printed.

Thank You for that catch! Yes, I obviously didn't want to chop his head off.  I edited, they printed and sent. 

I wanted to review both the scalloped edge card as well as a more typical rectangle so here are photos of two styles Purple Trail offers.  The rectangle below is absolutely lovely!  The colors of the blue and red are just a little bit different than a lot of companies and the quality of the print is top notch.  NOT ONE complaint or 'con' to find.  Not a one.  

And do you see the gorgeous 'wood grain' backs to my cards?  LOVE LOVE LOVE.  The natural weathered wood look is so popular now, and the white and gray shades of the wood coordinated perfectly with our beach themed photo.

The quality of the print on the envelopes was beautiful.  No smearing, no smudging and bright colors throughout.  No fading or change of ink shade.  Quality control gets a thumbs up!

In the end I really loved the customer service, the quality, the options given me and the pricing of Purple Trail products.  They also offer FREE SHIPPING on orders of $49+.

If you are looking for holiday or Christmas cards and invitations for 2017 I highly recommend Purple Trail; but more importantly I think is to mention they would be worth checking out for other items as well.  Custom guest books for weddings, bridal showers, etc. Custom daily planners. Calendars. Photo coffee or tea mugs.  Invitations, birthdays, t-shirts, graduation gifts...

Good people, great products and fair pricing.

Thank You Purple Trail for allowing me to work with you and introducing me to your wonderful products in return for my honest opinion.


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Homemade Strawberry & Rhubarb Pie (using frozen fruit)

It's my last full day here (I'm about 800 miles from home) helping out with The Littles and their Mama is due home tonight right before dinner. Before she left she had a couple requests; one of which was if I could please make a pot of chili for Friday night's dinner!  She was craving it!  She was hoping perhaps I'd have a pot of chili, cinnamon rolls, cornbread and strawberry rhubarb pie ready for Friday nights dinner.

And I do.

Well, it's only 1pm so the chili is slowly simmering on the stove, the pie is cooling on the counter and the cornbread and cinnamon rolls won't be made until after 4:pm so they are fresh at mealtime.

I had a bag of frozen strawberries, a bag of frozen rhubarb and a frozen deep dish pie crust in the freezer to work with so that's what I used!  Because the frozen fruits have so much liquid, I made sure to use plenty of thickener.  I also had to bake it longer than if I had used fresh fruit.  Play with the recipe to make it your own.  We'll be serving ours with homemade whipped cream!

Strawberry & Rhubarb Pie

3 c frozen rhubarb pieces (the whole bag)
3 c frozen strawberries, whole (the whole bag)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 c flour (I used this in addition to the corn starch since it was frozen fruit)
3/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/2 t lemon juice
1/2 t vanilla
egg white

Mix all but the egg white and extra sugar into a bowl.  Stir and blend well.  Pour into a prepared deep dish pie crust.  You can choose to prick it ahead of time and brush with a beaten egg white or not.  Totally up to you.  Fill the pie crust and use an additional bit of pie crust dough or a second frozen pie crust to roll out on a lightly floured surface.

Cut strips about 3/4 of an inch wide.  Use these to make a lattice top on your pie OR use the 2nd crust to cover the fruit filling without bothering with a lattice.  Seal the edges in your favorite way (finger seal or fork). Place the pie on a baking sheet (foil lined baking sheet if you hate scrubbing pans like I do!)  Beat the egg white with about a teaspoon of water and brush it on the top and sides of your pie and then sprinkle with a bit of sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake an additional 1 1/2 hours.  Turn off oven and let it sit in the hot oven for another 15 minutes if you feel it needs a bit more time.  Remove and cool completely before slicing.

The fruit, sugars and spices all mixed in a bowl

I pricked and brushed the bottom crust but it's totally optional

After filling the pie dish, either top with a second crust or cut strips to make a lattice crust

Trim if you have excess on the edges

Seal either with fingers or fork.  I had extra dough so I laid a small rope around the entire edge and pressed it down and then sealed.

Brush the top with beaten egg white and sprinkle with additional cinnamon and sugar

Cool completely before slicing so it's allowed to 'set up' - you can also chill it or just let it set out on the counter until the next day before slicing so it will set up nice.  When  a fruit pie is sliced too soon or when warm, it's quite liquidy.  Not a bad thing at all - especially if you serve the pie with ice cream!

If you enjoy visiting An American Housewife, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - An American Housewife at Amazon

Products related to this post available through Amazon include:

CorningWare Etch 9.5 Inch Pie Plate in Brick
Pyrex 2-Pack Easy Grab Glass Pie Plate, 9.5-Inch
OvenStuff Non-Stick Pie Pan 2 Piece Set, 9"


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