Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Packing, day 2 and the morning after (Not really)

November 24, 2011
I had started typing this on the drive from Wisconsin to Utah, I think we were somewhere in Missouri, and my thumb kept hitting the mousepad on the netbook, making the mouse jump around from one random place on the page to another, making my train of thought look more scattered than it already is, so I gave up and haven't really thought about this blog since then, except in passing when doing something either extremely fun or extremely annoying, but in either case I was too engrossed in the moment to actually type anything.  So, here I am now.  Getting out of doing Post-Thanksgiving-Feast dish clean up.  And me having made sooo many of those dirty dishes to begin with.  These are a few of the recipes I abused my family with this year:
  • Asparagus with homemade hollandaise sauce (3 eggs, 7T butter, 5t lemon juice, 3T water, salt and pepper to taste.  So simple.  So delicious.)
  • Candied sweet potatoes (recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens pink plaid cookbook.  Just like Grandma Dorothy used to make.)
  • Classic green bean casserole.
  • Nutella pumpkin pie (many thanks to ZEPHYRcakes for the idea! Check out her beautiful cookies on etsy here.  I haven't eaten any of her cookies, but if I were lucky enough to get one, I would sit and stare at it so entranced by it's beauty that I would forget to eat it.  For a little while at least.  Seriously, beautiful noms.)
  • Dog birthday cake
Yes, dog birthday cake.  Jake asks a lot of questions, one of the more recent being "When is Chunk Chunk's birthday?"  Now, I could look this up, but I know it is at the end of November, so I told him it is on Thanksgiving, to which Jake excitedly asks if we can make Chunky a birthday cake.  Pleeeeasssse?  Dear husband would tell you that I spoil my children rotten, so of course I made a cake (the peanut butter carrot cake here).  It was made with peanut butter, honey, shredded carrots and other standard cake ingredients (flour, baking soda, etc.), and was perfectly palatable, but the recipe called for pureed cottage cheese as frosting.  Um...  Blech!  So I left off the frosting, made a frozen peanut butter bone for decoration, and served it up with other desserts tonight, alongside a big bowl of homemade whipped cream.  We sang 'Happy Birthday' to Chunk, the boys blew out Chunk's candle and then he got to open his present, a plastic chew toy with a puppy treat baked in the middle of it.
Chunk's cake on Jake's plate

Oh, yeah, he got a piece of cake, without whipped cream, despite his crazy behavior this week.  At one point he stole Jake's toothbrush and chewed it to bits.  I scolded him and shooed him away, but instead of skulking off as I picked up plastic Spongebob toothbrush pieces, he grabbed Jake's toothpaste and took off with it.  So I chased him down, got him to drop the toothpaste, but as I was cleaning up toothpaste he ran by with MY toothpaste.  If he really wanted to chew it up, he could have done that in my bathroom, so you KNOW he only wanted to tease me.  Honestly, I love a sense of humor, but whatever happened to the concept of dog as loyal companion?  Maybe if I read some Lassie bedtime stories to the boys, Chunk will get the hint.

This was our nuclear family's first Thanksgiving away from extended family, aunts and uncles and cousins and grandmothers and such.  Kind of a bummer (BIG), but the boys played football with the neighbors, and of course we had our feast and Chunk's birthday celebration, so it wasn't an awful day, but I couldn't stop mentally comparing it to Thanksgivings of my childhood, or even of the past year or two with extended family members gathered around telling stories and all the little cousins playing and bonding and making memories that will be with them forever.  I have to remember that my boys' memories will just be different, but no less wonderful.  Nate almost scored a touchdown during the neighborhood game, and spent a lot of time at the skate park working on his ollie.  Jake hung out with the neighbors a bunch, and helped with the cooking (a little).  

Speaking of cooking, I've been going crazy with the baking lately, but I've also been making a point of sending home baked goods to school with the boys for snack every day.  This week, it was three kinds of muffins: banana, oatmeal and anise (recipes from the pink plaid cookbook again).  The anise were supposed to be poppy seed, but when I got to the point of adding seeds, I couldn't find em, so I added anise seeds and a splash of anise extract.  Really yummy.  Last week was chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips.  Easiest recipe ever:
  • 1 box cake mix
  • 1 small can pumpkin
That's it.  Mix together and bake as cookies, or muffins, or mini muffins in a 350 degree oven til firm.  It was actually a double batch last week, two boxes of devil's food cake, large can of pumpkin, stirred in white chocolate chips, made a bundt cake with half the batter and cookies with the other half.  The cake is in the freezer right now and I'll probably pull it out some December day when the boys are driving me crazy.  About a month ago I used yellow cake mix, pumpkin pie spices and butterscotch chips to make pumpkin spice cookies and Nathan, my pickier eater, gobbled them up.  The person I got the recipe from said they are a happy weight watcher's cookie, too, though she's a skinny minnie mother of three who doesn't need to lose any weight, though maybe this is one of her tricks to staying so thin.  That is definitely one of the differences between where we used to live and where we live now - the people are all really thin and healthy out here.  Maybe it's the west coast influence, or maybe it's a mormon thing.  

I'll sign off with ZEPHYRcakes Nutella pie recipe.  I doubled the pie recipe, poured half the batter into a plain graham crust, then added Nutella to the remaining pie batter and poured it into a chocolate crust (used this recipe) that I had topped with a thin layer of Nutella.

Nutella Pumpkin Pie
1 can pumpkin puree (small one)
2 eggs
2t pumpkin pie spice
1t salt
1/3c nutella
4oz cream cheese

1 - 9" pie shell, or 2 6" deep dish pie shells (what I did)

-beat the crap out of the cream cheese, like softy softy softy - in a mixer or with a hand mixer- scrape it like 45 times to make sure lumps are out
-add 1/2 pumpkin puree to mixer - med speed to fully incorporate
-in separate bowl combine everything else BUT the eggs
-add the cream cheese/pumpkin mix to the other mix - fully incorporate
-beat eggs in a separate bowl - beat like hell - then add egg to big mix

Bake @ 425 for5 minutes to start, then drop to 350 for another 40 minutes or so. Check it by either tapping the side of the pie pan, there can be a little jiggle in the direct center, but if there is anything more keep it in the oven.

Regular crust, chocolate crust with a nutella layer.  Drool.
We didn't even cut into the regular pie until pumpkintella was gone.

Next time, I'll try to post pictures of the fun things we've been up to (refinishing tables, making garland) and a picture of the dog cake (uploaded 12/14/11).  It was a first for me so I'm pretty proud of it.  Oh, I almost forgot about the grape drank cupcakes, aka "purple whatevers"!  Check them out here at bake and destroy, but I used one whole packet of grape kool-aid for the cupcakes and one for the frosting.  Double kool-aid = double mind blowing awesomeness.  I've been baking a lot these past several months...

And one last thought.  For real this time.  I saw this somewhere and copied it and now I don't remember where it came from, but it speaks to me.  Enjoy, Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless!

In this home, we do second chances.  
We do grace.  
We do real.  
We do mistakes.  
We do I'm sorrys.  
We do loud really well.  
We do hugs.  
We do family.  
We do love.

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