Traditions I’m Starting This Thanksgiving

Traditions I'm Starting This Thanksgiving--New traditions to start this year that remind us to be thankful.

Family.  Food.  Football.  The three F’s of Thanksgiving.  In three weeks, families all over the U.S. will be indulging in these activities in abundance.  Homes will become full of the smells of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, warm rolls and three different kinds of jello salad.  Growing up, I attended Thanksgiving dinners with family and friends in their homes, apartments and camping trailers, with no two years being the same.  Each year holds special memories of talking and laughing over food, napping in the afternoon and, of course, football, both on the TV and out in the yard.  And with Halloween past and Christmas coming up, there’s Thanksgiving–tucked right in between the two.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a forgotten holiday.  I think that pretty much everyone celebrates it in some form or another.  But I do think that it gets overshadowed by Christmas and that has always bothered me.

I grew up in a family where traditions were a big deal and we had at least a few for each holiday (Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s, Easter, and so on.)  But I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions lately and I realized that I don’t have any non-food, non-sports related traditions for Thanksgiving and that makes me sad.  I take full responsibility for this and I haven’t really felt the need to start any until recently now that my daughter is getting old enough to understand the reasons we celebrate certain events.  Many traditions at Thanksgiving deal with food or football and while those are both fun things, they are not the reason we even celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place.  There’s nothing wrong with having those traditions but I want to make sure that the element of ‘thanks’ isn’t forgotten among everything else.  So this year I am going to be implementing two new traditions into our family.

Get this free printable at Remodelaholic!

Book of Thanks 
I know a lot of families who go around the table before Thanksgiving dinner starts and say something(s) they are thankful for.  I don’t find any fault in this in and of itself, but when you’re having dinner with 20+ people, it can take a while to go around the table!  And it can be hard to say what you want when you’re in a group and put on the spot like that.  I also feel like not everyone can participate, especially the little kids.  Which is how I came to the conclusion that I wanted to create a way for everyone to share what they are grateful for through what I’m going to call The Book of Thanks.  (My Book of Thanks tutorial can be found here.) 

Here is what I’d like to do:

  • For the adults, they can take a minute at any time during the day to write as much or as little as they want.  
  • For the kids, they can draw a picture or write what they are grateful for.  
  • Take a group picture of everyone who was there.
  • Include the menu and location.
  • Have a place to write down memories of Thanksgiving past and present.

I will have blank printer paper for everyone to write/draw on and then I’ll put it in a plastic sleeve in a binder.  I think this will be a great way for everyone to share their thanks with others as well as a fun way to be able to look back at previous years and remember who was there and the memories that will be shared with each other.

Thankful Tree 
I love this idea.  I’ve seen it around on Pinterest and have been waiting to start it until this year.  My daughter is old enough now that we can ask her what she is grateful for and she can tell us.  So what better way to put us in the thankful spirit than to have each family member take a moment each day to write a few words about what they are grateful for?  It’s not going to be anything fancy: a construction paper tree with construction paper leaves.  We are a few days late starting and while I’d love to do something a little more crafty, it’s more about the purpose than the prettiness.  There are some really cute ones though like this and this if you are feeling like you want to do something more.  (You can see how ours turned out on my Thanksgiving Day 2015 overview.)

What are your favorite family traditions for Thanksgiving?

Kid Science: Color Explosions

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

As an adult, I forget sometimes how neat the simplest science experiments can be for kids.  So many of these experiments can be done at home with items you already own or are inexpensive to buy.  One such activity is combining baking soda and vinegar and watching the bubbles form.  Add some food coloring and dish soap and you’ve got an even better homemade explosion that will impress your little ones for sure!

While I was pulling out the supplies I needed, my daughter thought we were making some food and scooted her chair on over to see what was going on.  She watched closely and I let her help in the prep as much as I could.  She asked multiple times what I was doing, but I didn’t want to spoil the surprise.  Here is what you need to do this fun experiment:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Water
  • Dish Soap
  • Food Coloring

First, put the baking soda into a small container, such as a cup or bowl.  I used about 1 Tbsp of baking soda per glass.  Then, drop some food coloring into the cups.  You can use more or less depending on how bright you want the color to be.

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

Put some water in a different container and pour at least 1 Tbsp of dish soap in, stirring slowly to mix it around.

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

Pour some water into the baking soda and stir it around.  Don’t pour too much in, otherwise the water to vinegar ratio will be off and you won’t get as good of an “explosion”.

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

Place your cups/container on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan to catch any liquid that overflows when you pour the vinegar in.

Pour the vinegar into a measuring cup and give to your child to pour into the cups.  Watch their faces as the baking soda reacts to the vinegar and creates some fun color explosions!

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

Color Explosions--Watch your kids faces when they do this fun and simple experiment using household ingredients!

Because the baking soda and vinegar create bubbles, the dish soap you put in will also help increase the explosion.  You can also give them a spoon to stir the mixture around and see if they can get the reaction going again.  My daughter loved mixing the colors together and stirring them around on the pan.

Color explosions are a great year round activity:  In the summer, you can do it outside and easily rinse it off the sidewalk/driveway.  In the winter, you could also create a snow volcano.  I think the next time we do this, I will try using different sizes and shapes of containers to see which ones give the best explosion!

Find 7 other colorful hands on kid activities HERE!

Have you tried baking soda and vinegar experiments before?

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Growing up, my mom would regularly make meals that were so yummy we’d all ask her to make it again.  She’d then shrug her shoulders and tell us that she just made it up and didn’t write down the recipe, so the odds of duplicating it exactly as we’d had it that night were slim.  It became a running joke in the family to ask her if she’d remembered to write down the recipe, or at least all the ingredients, when we’d sit down to a dish we’d never had before.  One of the meals we had many times growing up, and that my mom did have a recipe for, was chicken noodle soup with homemade egg noodles.  We knew if we saw a whole chicken going into the pot that chicken noodle soup was on the menu.  My family loved (and still loves) it, especially in the fall and winter or when we were sick.  There is just something about the homemade stuff that can’t be poured out of a can.

Now when I make this soup for my family, I substitute a rotisserie chicken from Costco for simplicity’s sake, but I always make the egg noodles from scratch.  I don’t have any experience making other types of noodles and I don’t have a fancy noodle attachment for my KitchenAid (yet), but these are pretty simple to make and don’t take much time, so don’t be nervous to try this out for yourself.

Here’s what you need for the noodles:

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

To start out, beat the eggs with a fork.  Then add the milk and beat it together with the eggs.  Next, add the salt (optional) and the flour and stir.   (I think it’s easier to just use the fork to mix it all together rather than a spatula or spoon.)

The amount of flour you’ll need varies a little bit so I generally mix the first two cups in, then add the third cup.  You will likely find it necessary to use your hands to knead in the last cup of flour completely.  You don’t need to work it too much–just until most of the flour is incorporated.
*Note: I have used wheat flour, as well as half wheat and half white.  If you do this, the amount needed will be a little less than listed.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!
What the dough looks like after 2 cups of flour

Once your flour is kneaded in, sprinkle another 1/2 cup or so on a clean counter.  Put your dough in the middle and flip it over so both sides are floured. I gently pat off any extra flour and make sure to move the flour around on the counter so that it replaces the flour that just got on the dough.  This is important to do as it will help prevent sticking which makes it easier to remove the noodles when you’re ready to add them to the soup.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

From here, you use your rolling pin to roll it out to about an 1/8″ thick.  I periodically check to make sure the dough isn’t sticking and add a little more flour as needed.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

After you’ve got it rolled out, use a pizza cutter to cut the dough vertically into 1/4-1/2″ strips.  Then cut them horizontally into shorter strips, about 6″ long.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Now you just need to leave the dough to dry out.  I recommend a minimum of 2 hours, but 3-4 is better.  The time it takes for the noodles to dry out is dependent on how thick they are and how hot it is in your house.  You can check the noodles dryness by touching it and pulling on it a little.  If it’s stretchy, then it’s not dry enough.  We’re not trying to completely dry the noodles out, but just enough so that they aren’t a sticky mess when you add them to the broth.

At some point, you’ll need to get your chicken ready.  If you use a rotisserie like me, just cut off portions and either cut or tear it into pieces.  You could use cooked chicken breasts and do a rough chop.  Or you can use a whole cooked chicken like my mom does.  (If you do this last option, keep the water/broth as your base for the soup.)

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

To make the broth, you can use canned or boxed broth, or make your own using bouillon.  I generally use between 6-8 cups of broth, which feeds my family of four, plus enough for 1-2 servings for lunch the next day.  (It is partly a preference thing as well.  My family likes a little less broth and more noodles and chicken so I lean more towards 6 cups.)

Bring the broth to a boil and using a spatula, like the kind for flipping pancakes, loosen the noodles from the counter.  If you used enough flour, they should come up pretty easily.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Drop the noodles in one by one to prevent them sticking to each other.  I put the noodles in first and let them cook for 10-15 minutes before adding the chicken, then I let it go for another 5-10 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked through.  You can check the doneness by taking one out and cutting it to see if the middle is wet or dry, or you can take a bite and see if you like the texture.  Add salt, pepper and onion salt to your broth if you would like.  (I find that if I add salt to the noodles, I don’t need to add it to the broth.)

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!
5 minutes after adding noodles to the broth

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

*Note: I generally don’t end up using all the noodles but if I made closer to 8 cups of broth, then I would.  Again, it’s just a preference at this point.

Finally, ladle it into bowls, serve hot and let it warm you up from the inside out!  I like to add a little bit of Cajun seasoning called ‘Slap Ya Mama’.  It’s adds just a little bit of a kick and is SO good.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles--Use a rotisserie chicken to simplify the meal!

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • 3-4 c. cooked chicken breasts or rotisserie, cut or shred into pieces
  • 6-8 c. chicken broth
  • salt, pepper, onion salt (to taste)

Directions:

  1.  Beat the eggs with a fork.  Then add the milk and beat it together with the eggs.  Next, add the salt and 2 cups of flour and stir.
  2.  Knead in 1 cup flour until combined.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour on clean counter and place dough in the middle. Turn over so both sides have flour on them.
  4. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to about 1/8″ thick.  Cut vertically into 1/4-1/2″ wide strips then cut horizontally into 6″ long strips. (I use a pizza cutter to do this.)
  5. Let dry for at least 2 hours, but 3-4 is better.
  6. Cut or shred chicken into pieces.
  7. Bring 6-8 cups of broth to boil.
  8. Add dried noodles one at a time and let cook for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Add chicken, salt, pepper and onion salt.
  10. Let cook for another 5-10 minutes or until noodles are cooked through.
  11. Enjoy!

*Note: The recipe can easily be halved or doubled to suit your needs.