Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What I'm Thankful For...

There are many things I am thankful for, but this year I am especially thankful for my sisters. I didn't always feel this way. Growing up in a home with three teenage girls can have its challenges to put it mildly. Over the years though we have learned to embrace our differences and have become closer. The three of us have become great friends. I know these two girls will always be here for me and I will always be here for them. Love you Susie and Liza!
I hope you all had a wonderful day! Here is a glimpse of what ours looked like.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Bits of Encouragement ~ Advent

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14

Have a great week!



Friday, November 26, 2010

My Sweet Girl

This week I got this sweet text from Katie. It made my day!
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.
Have a a great weekend!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your Thanksgiving be full of God's abundant love and filled with all the good things He takes joy in giving.
With love ~
Brian, Rachel, Katie and Ian
"Mercy, Peace, and love be yours in abundance." Jude 1:12

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holiday Recipes ~ Cranberry Cherry Sauce

I had never been a huge fan of cranberry sauce. It never looked very appetizing and that tart flavor...yuck! At some point I found a cranberry cherry sauce that I liked very much and I have been making it for a few years. This year I decided to come up with my own cranberry cherry combo. Yummy!!

Cranberry Cherry Relish
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
1/2 cup cherry jam
1/4 cranberry juice
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup brown sugar
Pick through the cranberries for any stray bits and rinse then drain well. Combine the cranberries, orange juice and zest, cranberry juice, cherry jam and cinnamon in a pan. Place over medium heat: boil slowly until the berries pop open about 10 minutes. Remover from the heat and add dried cranberries. Let cool for five minutes and then add vanilla and brown sugar. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holiday Recipes ~ Brian's Apple Pie

Brian doesn't do much baking, in fact he doesn't make many desserts at all except for apple pie. It's his speciality so to speak. My sister's always request this pie every fall. If we happen to be with my family for Thanksgiving this will be on the dessert table for sure. You know the saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Well, they forgot to include my sisters.
Apple Pie
This recipe comes form the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book
6 Cups thinly, sliced, peeled apples (Brian likes Granny Smith and Haralson)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
Pastry for a Double-Crust Pie (see the recipe below)
Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the sugar mixture to the sliced apples; and toss to coat the fruit. Fill a pastry lined 9-inch pie plate with the apple mixture. Cut the butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the fruit. Add the top crust. Seal and flute the edge. Sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top of the crust. Cut three silts in the middle of the crust. Each silt should be about 2 inches long. Cover the edge of pie with foil or use one of those circular things for pies. Bake in a 375 oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil; bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until the crust is golden. During the last 5-10 minutes of baking place a sheet pan on the lower oven rack to catch any juices. Cool. Serve with ice cream.
Pie Pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup shortening (Brian uses crisco sticks. We keep them in the freezer)
6-7 tablespoons cold water
Stir together the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture gently toss with a fork. Push to the side of the bowl. Repeat until all of the dough is moistened. Form the dough into two balls. Place each ball on a piece of plastic wrap and flatten each into a disk. Wrap the plastic wrap around each disk. Place into the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to a day in advance. On a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough with your hands. If the dough seems to hard you may need to let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Roll dough with a rolling pin from center to edge. Forming a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Ease pastry into a 9-inch pie plate being careful not to stretch pastry. Place filling into the bottom shell. Add the top crust trim and flute.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bits of Encouragement

Have a wonderful week as you prepare your hearts and home for Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Season of Giving

Picky Girl had a little soiree on Thursday. Brian and I stopped by quick to show our support and check out the new holiday apparel. For Christmas this year I was planning on pulling out a classic velvet number that I haven't worn for awhile. From across the room I saw this beauty calling my name. I strolled over to her and she was stunning. The dress is made of a heavy ivory fabric with a beautiful gold design printed all over. The dress is from 213, my favorite designer that Picky Girl carries. They are beautiful and ultra feminine pieces that are very sweet and timeless in my opinion.

Susie was also in attendance, and insisted that I try the dress on. So, on it went and it fit perfect on my not so much 20 year old figure. Mr. Young also approved. I am really happy about the purchase and excited to wear it for Christmas. Another great piece to add to my closet!
Check out Picky girl's new blog. Even better stop on by the store! They have everything from candles, jewelery, mittens, and of course GORGEOUS clothes for you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

David Lebovitz's Chocolate Mousse

I have been wanting to make chocolate mousse for some time now, but shied away because I didn't want to use raw egg whites in my mixture.

I was pretty excited when my Mother-in- law gave me David's latest book Ready for Dessert, My Best Recipes and even more excited when I saw a recipe for chocolate mousse that does not require uncooked eggs.
This is a great dessert to serve for guests, because you can make it a few days in advance. I think a dollop of whip cream on top would be really nice too.
Chocolate Mousse
Recipe from Ready for Dessert
Makes 8 to 10 Servings
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped ( I may have used 8. I also think a combo of milk and semisweet chocolate would be very good.)
3/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 large yolks
2 teaspoons rum
1/2 cup heavy cream
Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and place a mesh strainer across the top.
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and granulated sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly whisk in about one-quarter of the warm milk, whisking constantly as you pour to prevent the yolks from cooking. Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Immediately pour the custard through the strainer into the chocolate. Whisk gently until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth, then stir in the rum. Let the mixture cool completely, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Fold about one-third of the chilled chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, and add this mixture to the remaining chocolate and fold just until there are no streaks of cream. Place the chocolate mousse in a serving dish or individual dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. The mousse with keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
We started cleaning out the fridge yesterday. I hope to turn on the self -timer for the oven at some point before Thanksgiving. Ironing linens, printing out place cards, and making the cranberry sauce are also on the Thanksgiving prep list. I hope we can make our spritz cookies this weekend and freeze them. Katie has a history research paper due on Monday. I believe Harry Potter is on the to do list, oh and some sort of "big" game on Sunday. How about you guys? How do you prepare for Thanksgiving? Any plans for the weekend?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Butternut Squash Bread

We have gotten quite a bit of squash from our CSA this year. All sorts of different looking orbs have graced our table. Unfortunately the little guy is not a fan of any sort of squash. I was looking for someway to use up what I think is a fantastic vegetable when I came upon this recipe for butternut squash bread. Ian is a lover of most things sweet, so I thought I could entice him with this delicious bread. It is very similar to most quick breads, it has a tender crumb and is really easy to eat. It speaks the flavors of fall, cinnamon and ginger and of course the creaminess of the squash, and don't forget how wonderful your home will smell. The bread does take a little time to put together but if you roast the squash one day and bake the bread the next, it seems a bit easier. Well I did entice him and his sister who likes squash, but not quick breads. In fact they liked it so much they insisted that next time I make four loaves. As we are counting down the last days of fall, I encourage you to give this bread a try. It gives you the opportunity to have your cake and eat it too, so to speak.
Butternut Squash Bread
The only item I changed was swapping out the cardamom for ginger. The recipe comes from My Baking Addiction
1 cup butternut squash puree (see the recipe below)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsps. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix together the butternut squash puree, eggs, oil, water, and sugars until thoroughly combined. In another bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the butternut mixture. Combine until just incorporated (don't over mix the batter). Pour the mixture into your loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes or until a skewer in the center comes out clean.
Last time I doubled this recipe and it turned out great!
Butternut Squash Puree
1 butternut squash
brown sugar
1/2 cinnamon
1/4 nutmeg
1/4 salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half length wise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the squash on a foil lined baking sheet cavity side up. Place some butter and brown sugar in the cavity about a tablespoon each or whatever you like. Roast for 45-60 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Remove the squash from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle. Pour the liquid mixture from the cavities of the squash into a food processor. Scoop out the flesh and place in the food processor with the liquid mixture. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pulse until the squash forms a creamy consistency. You could serve this as a side dish just adjust the seasonings.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Some people's children

Enough said.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Recipes ~ Roast Turkey with Herb Rub

I overheard Brian talking on the phone the other day. He was trying to convince Shane to come up and visit us over Thanksgiving weekend. He said something like this "You've got to come, Rachel makes the absolute best turkey." That made me smile. Now, I don't claim that I make the best turkey, but this is the recipe that I have been using since 1994, and well we love it. I found this photo from last year. It's not the best, but it gives you an idea of what your turkey will look like when it is done.
Roast Turkey with Herb Rub
From Bon Appetit, November 1994
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 tbs. dried
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh Thyme or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh Tarragon or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 Turkey (I usually get a 10-18 pound, if you have a bigger one that is fine)
Fresh herb sprigs (if you do not stuff your turkey)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 Tablespoons melted butter
4-6 cups low sodium broth

Mix the first five ingredients in a small bowl. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and place on a rack set in a large roasting pan. If you are not stuffing your turkey, place the herb sprigs in the main cavity. If you are stuffing the turkey, spoon stuffing into both cavities. Tie the legs together loosely to hold the shape of the turkey. Brush the turkey with oil Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey. (You can prepare this one day ahead if the turkey is not stuffed. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.) If you are stuffing your turkey, let it sit with the herbs for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
Position your rack in the lowest third of your oven and preheat to 325. Drizzle the melted butter all over the turkey. Pour two cups of broth into the pan (DO NOT POUR THE BROTH ON THE TURKEY)! Roast the turkey for about 1 1/2 hours. Check the pan and see if it needs more broth. Also check the breast, if it is getting too brown cover it with foil loosely. You will want to keep checking how much broth is in the pan and how brown the breast is getting periodically until the turkey is done (DO NOT BASTE THE TURKEY WITH THE BROTH, POUR IT IN THE ROASTING PAN. The size of your turkey will determine how long it will need to roast. I think the best way to determine if your turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. When inserted into the deepest part of the thigh without touching the bone it should reach 180 degrees. For a 10- 18 pound turkey this should be 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours. When your turkey is done, take it out of the roasting pan and tent it with foil loosely. Let it rest for about 30 minutes. If you have stuffed the turkey, take it out of the pan and remove the stuffing, and then tent it with foil. Again, let it rest for about 3o minutes before carving.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bits of Encouragement

"I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation."

Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Recipes ~ Turkey Stuffing with Dried Cranberries

My Mom has been making the same stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving since I can remember. Over time it has changed a bit. She used to cook the neck, giblets, etc. and add that to the stuffing. The three of us girls were never fond of that "stuff" so we always request that she not make that addition.
Before Brian and I got married I wrote this recipe down, because I knew I wanted to use it when we had our Thanksgiving Feast. Over the years I have made some very simple changes. The first being I switched out the type of bread cubes I use. Around Thanksgiving Super Target usually carries dried bread cubes in the bakery section. It is just dried bread that has been cubed up into nice size chunks. If you can't find this, you could always make your own ,just plan ahead. I would also suggest using a basic french bread, not a chewy artisan style bread.
A couple of years ago, on a whim I decided to add some dried cranberries to the stuffing and that became a huge hit! So every since then I always include them.

A few tips that my Mom taught me:

1. Make your stuffing the day before Thanksgiving and store it in the fridge. This allows you some extra sleep, and one less dish to make on Thanksgiving.

2. Don't overstuff your turkey! Lightly stuff the front and back ends. You will have a lot of extra stuffing, but don't worry we are going to use it all.

3. Once your turkey is finished cooking remove the stuffing from the bird and place in a buttered casserole dish. Add the remaining stuffing that you didn't use and place it in the casserole dish with the other stuffing. Mix thoroughly. Place in a 325 degree oven for about 30 minutes our until it is warm and crisp on top. I find this tip results in the perfect texture for stuffing. It is not soggy or dry, but warm and lightly crisp.
Turkey Stuffing with Dried Cranberries
1 bag of bread cubes
1 1/2 cups of celery chopped
1 large onion chopped
1 stick of butter
1-2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
1/2-1 cup of dried cranberries ( use as much or as little as you like, I like more)
1/2 tsp. Sage
1/2 tsp. Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large skillet melt the butter and the celery and onion and cook until tender. Turn the heat down to low and add the seasonings stirring around. Add the bread cubes and cranberries mix well. Add 1-2 cups both and stir until the bread cubes are soft. Add warm water if needed. The stuffing is ready to used. Please see the tips above. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as our family does!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Holiday Recipes ~ Sweet Potato Casserole

We really do love our sweet potato recipe, but I was unfaithful a few weeks ago. I was flipping through the pages of the latest Penzey's catalog and this Sweet Potato Casserole recipe caught my eye. Brian was making roast poulet and I thought this would go with it nicely. Wow!! We were really amazed by these sweet potatoes, they are sooo Yummy!! Please make these, you will love them. I made mine in individual dishes because I thought Ian might be more drawn to them, but no such luck. He just eat the brown sugar topping. Next time I will make it in one casserole dish like the recipe suggests.

Sweet Potato CasseroleI actually halved the recipe since it was just the four of us. I am giving you the orginial measurements. I also used skim milk instead of cream.
6 medium sweet potatoes

1/4 tsp. salt

2 TB. butter, softened

2 eggs



1/3 Cup sugar

1/4 Cup cream (Beth uses heavy cream, half & half works as well). I actually used skim milk and I thought it was great.

Streusel Topping:
4 TB. chilled butter (1/2 stick)

1/4 Cup flour

3/4 Cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 Cup chopped pecans (optional) I would probably use more than this amount.

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan and set aside. Peel, quarter and boil sweet potatoes for 10-15 minutes until fork tender, drain and dry well. Or, pierce 3 sweet potatoes with a fork and microwave until softened. This can take anywhere from 6-15 minutes, depending on your microwave and the size of the potatoes, so pay attention the first few times you do it! Repeat with the remaining sweet potatoes. When cool enough to handle, peel the sweet potatoes and place in a mixing bowl. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the salt, butter, eggs, VANILLA, CINNAMON, sugar and cream and mix until smooth. Spoon into the baking dish and spread evenly.

For the Streusel topping: In a medium bowl, combine the butter, flour and brown sugar. Mix with 2 forks or knives, a pastry blender or your fingers to the consistency of coarse meal. Stir in the pecans if using. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes or until the topping is crisp and lightly browned.



Wednesday, November 3, 2010


"Alice" from Twilight
The "Blue Spirit"

Our Halloween was pretty quite this year. Katie got back from a retreat in the late afternoon. We had homemade pizza. "Brett Favre" took the kids our trick-or-treating. The kids got LOADS of candy. We should be set until next year.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bits of Encouragement

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfullness." Colossians 2: 6-7
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