Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leftovers anyone?

Our fridge is still full of leftovers and that makes me happy. It makes me happy because I don't have to cook and I think I may actually like the leftovers more than the actual Thanksgiving meal. I really love Turkey sandwiches and I only have them this time of year. Maybe I enjoy the leftovers so much more because they don't take all the effort of the original meal. Dom also made a big batch of clam chowdah and we have that leftover too. Of course we are three days into the lefovers so my family is going to demand a real meal soon but until they do, I'll continue to enjoy the leftovers.
And it was just a matter of time before the white stuff made an appearance. We've had a few flurries but nothing that has stuck to the ground until Friday. We got a little dusting and late this afternoon we got this:

It's still coming down but is supposed to warm up overnight and turn to rain. It's just a matter of time before the big one. I don't really mind the snow before Christmas because I like to have snow for Christmas but after Christmas I wouldn't mind if it all just melted away.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Martha is not coming to Thanksgiving

When I saw this it made me laugh and I wanted to share.

To All Our Family and Friends:

Just a note to let you know we are hoping to see you Thanksgiving Day. But Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I am telling you in advance, so don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few small changes: Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect. Once inside, our guests will note that the entry hall is not decorated with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make. Instead, I've gotten the kids involved in the decorating by having them track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their idea. The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas. Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me it is a turkey. We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 a.m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds. As accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying. We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method. We've also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door. Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" meaning: Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat. I would like to take this opportunity to remind my young diners that passing the rolls is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean your sister in the head with warm tasty bread. Oh, and one reminder for the adults: For the duration of the meal, and especially while in the presence of young diners, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-known name: Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or type of Cheese Sauce, plead ignorance. Cheese Sauce stains. Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You will still have a choice; take it or leave it. I hope you aren't too disappointed that Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. She probably won't come next year either.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did. Our front entrance will be decorated with leaves and mud, thanks to the dogs and the torrential downpours we are in the midst of right now.
After suffering from a horrible head cold all last week I need to play catch-up with my cleaning before turkey day. I will probably post at the end of the week to let you all know how Turkey day went!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Weekend visitor

Saturday night we had a visitor stop by for a little snack. We didn't actually see him or invite him for that matter, but I am pretty sure he was big, furry and quite hungry!
It was an unusually warm night, upper 50's all night, so it shouldn't have been a suprise that a bear had come by and gotten into the bird feeders. It isn't the first time we had a visit but it is the first time that the pole has been broken. Luckily the pole comes apart in three sections so I only have to replace the bottom section. All the bird feeders are in tact too, which is another good thing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Here turkey, turkey..

When I saw the little animation of "me" chasing the turkey I had to add it because it made me laugh out loud. Not just because the animation was funny but because it reminded me of my childhood. When I was younger, probably right around the girls age, my family raised turkeys. We got them all nice and fat and juicy and then yup you guessed it, ate them for Thanksgiving. We raised quite a few and shared them with friends and neighbors and with the help of friends and neighbors the slaughtering was also done at home. It was my job because I was small to get into the turkey pen, grab a turkey and lead it to the door so my dad could kill it. I guess if you want to be dramatic I was leading the turkey to slaughter. But this is not a story of childhood trauma it was and just is fact of life. So anyway there is a technique to grabbing a turkey, especially when it is almost as big as you are. It is very important to grab it firmly on each side and hold the wings down. Because it really hurts to get hit the face with flapping turkey wings. That, if anything, was what may have caused maybe a little childhood trauma cause I can actually remember just what it feels like to to get a turkey wing in the face! So that is why that little animation is significant to me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Beautiful Thing

I am not talking about flowers or rainbows or sunsets or even a picture. I am talking about a good old fashioned hockey game with hitting and fighting and goal scoring. A hockey game where the Bruins opened up a can of whoop ass on the Montreal Canadians last night and beat them 6-1. Beat them for the first time in 12 regular season games which puts them in first place in the Northeast division.

I love me some really good hockey.

It's a beautiful thing.

Cupcake Pops

Cupcake pops are a super-cute, super yummy idea I got from this (I added a link to my list on the left) She was also featured on Martha Stewart and if you go to Martha's website I believe there is even a video to show you how to make them. If you like to bake, especially cakes and cupcakes you must check out this blog! The basic idea for the cupcake pops is you bake a cake, crumble it all up when it is cool.(A food processor works great for this!) Then mix in a can of frosting. Next you roll into little balls and let chill. You then use a flower cook cutter, stick one end in the cookie cutter to shape the bottom of the cupcake. Let chill again then dip in chocolate. Add a lollipop stick if you want to make lollipops-fun for kids. If you don't want to make cupcake shapes you can just dip the balls in chocolate. The cake/frosting combinations are endless. And they taste so good! I made some to send into Kenzie's class for her birthday and I did chocolate cake with buttercream frosting-(I used home made frosting). They taste like supermoist munchkins dipped in chocolate. I made some more yesterday for a friends birthday party on Saturday and then experimented with some flavors.

I mixed yellow cake with raspberry preserves-this was a big hit with Dom. Then I mixed yellow cake with Nutella, also very yummy. If you don't know what Nutella is it is the consistency of peanut butter but it has a chocolatey hazelnut flavor.
For some reason I had trouble dipping just the plain balls in chocolate and they came out all deformed. I think because I was running out of chocolate and it was starting to harden up on me, they still tasted yummy, anyway. Words of wisdom from Mackenzie, "It doesn't have to look perfect, mom, as long as it tastes good!" So true! I don't have a lot of experience with melting chocolate so I'll just have to keep practicing!
Here are some cupcakes without the stick, called cupcake bites:

And here are my deformed cake bites for all you who think I am as perfect as Martha Stewart. I take that as a compliment, by the way. It usually takes a lot of practice to get things right and you should see what a mess I make of my kitchen when I bake-Martha would be horrified! Someday I'll have to take a picture of the chaos.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wasps Nest

The local electric company recently hired a company to cut back the branches and trees that were close to the power lines, which is good, though I personally think they cut down way more than necessary on our property but I am not going to go into that now. What we discovered was a huge wasps nest that I couldn't resist taking pictures of. I think they were bald faced paper wasps. (I am not really fond of insects, spiders or snakes but feel compelled to photograph them.) I did get quite close as there didn't seem to be any activity around the nest except for one lone wasp that you can probably see in the picture. I am not a complete fool. I wouldn't have ventured too close if it seemed like there was a lot of activity. I also went out early in the morning when the temps were in the low 30's so if there were wasps they wouldn't be moving too fast. I took several close ups but wish there had been something close by to compare it to so that you could really get a sense of how big this thing is. I mean it is easily the size of a basketball!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hunting and Gathering

Now that Kenzie's birthday has come and gone I can now turn my attention to Thanksgiving which we are hosting this year. So this week I have begun the process of hunting down and gathering at least one new recipe to throw into our Thanksgiving meal. We do all the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc. But I like to try at least one new dish/dessert.
While in the grocery store checkout lane I picked up the Pillsbury recipe booklet for Thanksgiving dishes. I am easily distracted by the brightly colored pictures of yummy food. Sometimes I think I may have adult ADD but I guess the correct term would be procrastinator. Looking for recipes is much more interesting than grocery shopping or folding laundry, but anyway, I digress.
The point of this post is to share some recipes, so here are some side dishes and a dessert from the booklet that sounded yummy, I haven't tried them yet though.

Green Beans with Colored Peppers

1 bag(22 oz.) frozen whole green beans
1 TBSP. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 TBSP chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 TBSP olive or vegetable oil
1 Medium red bell pepper cut into strips
1 Medium yellow bell pepper cut into strips
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper if desired

In a 12 inch skillet, cook green beans on stove top as directed on bag. Drain, place beans on a plate and loosely cover to keep warm. Meanwhile in a small bowl, mix lemon juice, mustard, basil and thyme, set aside. Add oil to same skillet, heat over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, cook 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently until just tender. Add green beans and lemon mixture to peppers; toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt; cook 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Serve sprinkled with with freshly ground black pepper.

Roasted Harvest Vegetables

4 Medium carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
4 Medium parsnips (about 1lb.) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices (3 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
4 tsps chopped fresh or 1 1/2 tsps dried thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 lb butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2 chunks (6 1/2 cups)
Fresh thyme sprigs if desired

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In large bowl place carrots, parsnips, and half of each of the oil, chopped thyme, salt and pepper; toss to coat. In ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan, spread mixture in single layer. Bake 15 minutes.
Meanwhile in same large bowl toss squash with remaining oil, chopped thyme, salt and pepper.
add to pan and stir to combine vegetables. Bake 35 to 40 minutes longer, turning vegetables twice with pancake turner, until vegetables are tender. Spoon into serving bowl or on platter, garnish with thyme sprigs.

Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups thin chocolate wafer cookies crumbs (about 30 cookies)
1/4 butter or margarine melted

1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsps pumpkin pie spice
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin-NOT pumpkin pie mix.
4 packages (8oz. each) cream cheese softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 eggs

1/2 cups chopped pecans toasted*
2 oz bittersweet baking chocolate coarsley chopped
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1 cup caramel topping

*to toast pecans, sprinkle in ungreased skillet. Cook over med-high heat 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently until pecans begin to brown, then stirring constantly until light brown.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap foil around outside of bottom and side of 9-inch springform pan to prevent drips. Spray bottom and 1 inch up side of pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press crumb mixture on bottom and 1 inch up side of pan. Bake crust 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool at room temperature 5 minutes. Refrigerate about 5 minutes or until completely cooled.
Meanwhile, in another small bowl, mix flour pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin and set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. On low speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Gradually beat in pumpkin mixture until smooth. Pou filling over crust. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes or until edge of cheesecake is set but center still jiggles slightly when moved. Run knife along edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Turn oven off. open oven door at least 4 inches and let cheesecake remain oven 30 minutes.
Cool in pan on cooling rack 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 6 hour or overnight before serving.
Just before serving, sprinkle pecans over top of cheesecake. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate and oil uncovered on high 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds stirring every 15 seconds until melted. Drizzle chocolate over pecans. To serve, run knife around outside of pan to loosen cake and carefully remove sides of pan. Drizzle caramel over each serving. Store covered in refrigerator.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mackenzie is 6!

On Saturday Mackenzie celebrated her 6th birthday. It will come as no suprise that she wanted a Tinkerbell party! She had a few friends over to help her celebrate and lots of fun was had by all!

I am going to toot my own horn here and say that I am very proud of this cake. It was a simple idea but I love the effect. The cake was baked in an angel food pan so there was already a hole in the middle to stick the doll. Then I made "fake" legs from fondant. Her dress is also fondant. The mushrooms are cake bites, crumbled cake mixed with frosting and dipped in chocolate. I will share this recipe later in the week. Unfortunately while we were at Nonna's celebrating again on Sunday Boomer got the rest of the cake off the counter and ate it! He proceeded to puke all over the couch this morning while the girls and I were at teacher conferences. The good news is that both girls are doing very well in school and well Boomer, I think he still has a tummy ache.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The pixie and the pirate

For Halloween the girls dressed as Tinkerbell and Elizabeth Swann in her pirates outfit from Pirates of the Caribbean. They even let me take more than one picture! In fact they wanted to act out entire scenes and have me take pictures of each one which got a little tedious for me but I did get a lot of pictures and here are some of my favorites. Of course many of my favorites are close-ups of their beautiful faces which doesn't really show off the costumes but oh well.