The Lost Month

IMG_1619Here’s a recipe that I made over Thanksgiving…a month ago. I was actually super-excited to post this recipe because it turned out so great that I made it twice, once for Friendsgiving with my friends at school, and once with my family for Thanksgiving dinner.

And then things got crazy. So crazy, I started making all these new habits that I haven’t ever had before. Here are a few:

1. Making it my mission to ruin my cholesterol levels by eating 3+ eggs a day. That’s what happens when you have no time for food. Scrambled eggs or fried eggs or really any eggs that can be made in 5 minutes or less becomes your staple diet.

2. Speaking of no time for food, skipping lunch and getting hunger pangs around 3pm. Fun fact: after an hour, the pangs turn into hunger ‘euphoria’. Or you faint.

3. Listening to music while walking because time between classes/the library/bed is the only time you have for any leisurely enjoyment of anything.

4. Hanging out with no one but people from class. Bonding through trauma. (Ever had to work with Stata before? After one semester of Stata hell in cold computer labs full of miserable people, you really empathize with your sullen and unforgiving statistics professors.)

5. Going to bed at a reasonable hour. In my youth, I used to like hanging out with people, so I’d pull crazy all-nighters all the time, which obviously led to a whole host of sleep deprivation problems. In my wise old age, I’ve realized that sleep is what gets you through hell week after hell week. (Food probably ranks pretty high on the list too, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from International Finance, life is like the trilemma. You can’t have it all.)

And yet, despite the death of my social life, there were times when I felt like I had no time to even catch my breath. The amount I’ve learned is astounding, but even more astounding was how quickly quality of life can deteriorate in just a month. I’m forever scarred by the one day I was so out of it, I started eating some old lasagna with a layer of what was cheese, but was actually mold.

But it’s finally over, and I’m finally home. Never before I have I appreciated being home so much.

So uh, happy Thanksgiving guys? And happy holidays! :)

Butternut Squash Turkey Roulade with Apple Cider Gravy (adapted from Cooking for Keeps) – serves 4-6

2 1lb boneless, skinless turkey breasts

1 small butternut squash

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 tsp cinnamon, divided

1/8 tsp salt plus more for seasoning

1 1/4 cup chicken stock, divided

1/2 cup apple cider, divided

2 tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. Split squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, then cut cross-wise into 1-inch half-rings. Place on a small baking sheet. Brush with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast until soft, about 45 minutes. Once squash is soft, mash by hand or purée in a food processor. Place 1 cup purée in a small bowl, then add chopped pecans, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt. Raise heat in oven to 375 F.

While the squash is roasting, place turkey breasts under paper towels, then using a meat tenderizer, flatten turkey breasts until they are about 1/8 in thick. Rub with salt, pepper, and the remaining cinnamon. Spread 1/2 cup filling on each breast, leaving a 1/2 in border all around. Roll up like a jelly roll, and secure every inch with baker’s twine.

In a medium oven-proof skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Brown turkey on all sides. Pour 1/4 cup cider  and 1/4 cup chicken stock into the pan. Place in oven and bake until turkey is cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check that it is fully cooked; it should read 165 degrees. Once the turkey is cooked, transfer to a plate and cover with foil.

In a measuring cup, whisk the cold chicken stock, remaining 1/4 cup of cider, and flour. Whisk mixture into leftover apple cider and stock in skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until thickened. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Slice turkey into one-inch pieces and serve with gravy.

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