Archives for November 2008

Countdown to Thanksgiving: LEAST Favorite Food, Favorite Dressing and Favorite Leftover

Thought this poll was funny that I saw about holiday food on AOL.

I narrowed it down to the Thanksgiving foods.

Least favorite Thanksgiving food in no particular order:

  • a. dry turkey
  • b. lumpy mashed potatoes
  • c. giblet gravy
  • d. stuffing with weird stuff in it
  • e. too-fancy cranberry sauce

I’m going to go with “d” with “c” running a close second!

Strange crunchy, unidentifiable items is what stresses me most when I eat any “casserole-like” item. I must be able to identify all items the dish and I do not want any surprises. Here’s the dressing I love, love, love:

Southern Cornbread Dressing

Sherra’s note: I use two boxes of Jiffy cornbread and add two to three tablespoons of sugar to dry mix, then follow box directions and bake. I then put cooled cornbread in gallon ziploc bag and crumble. I make and bake this a day or two before Thanksgiving and then reheat on Thanksgiving Day. I omit the onion and used minced onion instead. And of course, I omit the celery – it’s green and crunchy!

  • 4 cups crumbled cornbread
  • 3 or 4 pieces bread or biscuit, crumbled
  • 2 cans Swanson chicken broth (13-3/4 ounce)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the cornbread and chicken broth; allow to soak. Add the onions, celery, and eggs, mixing thoroughly. Add the melted butter. Place the mixture in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350Āŗ oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Serves: 8

Recipe from: Shellmont Bed and Breakfast Inn, Atlanta, Georgia

Favorite Leftover:

Potato Cakes

PhilBillPaul takes leftover mashed potatoes and makes Potato Cakes. Basically these are fried mashed potatoes. Oh what a surprise that we all like these.

There’s no official recipe.

Simply form the cold mashed potatoes into patties (about the size and thickness of a hamburger patty) and dredge in flour. Melt several tablespoons of margarine and put the potato cakes in the hot skillet. Cook on both sides until golden brown.

*****

Happy, happy Thanksgiving!

What’s your least favorite Thanksgiving food? And what’s your favorite leftover?

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P.S. The girls are NOT making the “turkey craft” – I was just kidding!! Besides, the “supplies” were just too expensive. šŸ˜‰

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Monday on Tuesday because I’m not in charge at A T & T

Did you miss me?

I missed y’all.

Seriously, I did.

Because we had NO INTERNET all weekend and all day Monday.

I got the shakes but I’m on the road to recovery.

Plus I got loads of pre-Thanksgiving baking done so I don’t have to do it all on Thanksgiving day.

We’re off to the mountains today. We are looking forward to just relaxing!

We bring cards to play euchre – the big kids can hold their own with us now. We also bring a few other games like Uno, Yahtzee and Scrabble, watch movies, and just hang out together – nothing fancy. It really is a favorite family time we all look forward to.

Before we go, I did promise Karen I would show you the collages I made for the seniors and the coaches for the Cross Country banquet last week.

Each senior boy and girl got a semi-personalized photo collage with their key rings.

Five coaches between the two teams also got collages along with a plaque. I just switched up a few pictures so these were very easy to make. They can put them on their wall, frame them or put them in a 12 x 12 scrapbook – I think they turned out to be nice, affordable keepsakes.

It was a lovely (and long) celebration for the end of the season and the girls truly loved their scrapbooks.

Granny arrived Saturday night from Texas and we moved right into basketball on Sunday. In case anyone is thinking of askingā€¦I’m not “volunteering” for basketball gifts!

On Wednesday, if the internet cooperates, I’ll share another favorite dish I made today AND a favorite leftover that PhilBillPaul makes every year. Until then, happy cooking if you’re in charge of the Thanksgiving feast at your house!

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P.S. This is a P.S. test. Just curious to see how many of your read all the way to the bottom. Leave a comment and let me know if you did. šŸ˜‰

So many craft projects are geared towards younger children. My teens will be soooo excited that I found a special craft that they can make while we’re in the mountains. I’m not a typical crafty mom even though I am proud of the robot costume creations. This year though, I am packing a glue gun, paint and some wiggly eyes!

WARNING: This is a PG-13 craft – I believe in age-appropriate activities so Scary Baby will not be participating. Granny can keep Scary Baby occupied so the big girls can have something to keep them busy. Two boxes is a little pricey in my opinion, but I think the darling twins will have loads of fun making this Thanksgiving centerpiece.

Flexible Friday #22 A Revelation

I received a private email this week regarding some startling information.

So startling that the reader was polite enough to send me the information in an email. She obviously wasn’t comfortable actually leaving a comment on the blog to bring it to my attention.

I appreciate that she respected our family privacy and didn’t divulge this information right on the blog before I had a chance to discuss it with PhilBillPaul and to tell the kids.

Sometimes, when you learn something new, it takes a bit of time to process the information and be at peace with it before you are able to share it with friends.

This was information so startling that I dreaded having to tell PhilBillPaul. But those who know me well know that I really value clear, open communication and rarely run from confrontation.
So I had to tell him the truth about something.

Something that he is still recovering from.

I won’t type the words he used when I told him.

I can say that the kids took it better than he did.

Here’s exactly what the email said:

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure pumpkins are (gasp!) VEGETABLES! And the Humphreys family eats them!

This is clearly in reference to several recent favorite pumpkin recipes I’ve posted here and here.

The sanitized version our conversationā€¦

PhilBillPaul:
“That’s not funny.”

Me:
“Want me tell the kids?”

PBP:
“That’s wrong. I’m going downstairs to google it. I know that’s wrong.”

Me:
“Yum. Vegetable Pie and Vegetable Bars with Cream Cheese for all these years.”

PBP:
“Stop it. I’m getting sick.”

He is such a baby. And has major vegetable issues.

As you will see if you choose to read on.

I know this is TMI. But for those of you up for a vegetable vs. fruit lesson here’s what PhilBillPaul came back upstairs to gleefully share from this website:

The definition of vegetable:

ā€œVegetable is a culinary term. Its definition has no scientific value and is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. All parts of herbaceous plants eaten as food by humans, whole or in part, are generally considered vegetables. Mushrooms, though belonging to the biological kingdom, fungi, are also commonly considered vegetablesā€¦Since ā€˜vegetableā€™ is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in referring to a plant part as a fruit while also being considered a vegetable. Given this general rule of thumb, vegetables can include leaves (lettuce), stems (asparagus), roots (carrots), flowers (broccoli), bulbs (garlic), seeds (peas and beans) and of course the botanical fruits like cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and capsicums.ā€ (Wikipedia.org)

This is the correct answer for all your food trivia pursuits:

If you are speaking in a botanical, scientific context, then pumpkin, tomato, capsicum, cucumber, tomato and squash are FRUITS because they all have seeds. If you are speaking in culinary terms, they can all be properly called VEGETABLES.

Case solved, right? Not quite. The United States Supreme Court entered into this fascinating debate and gave a legal verdict on whether a tomato should be classified as a vegetable or a fruit. They decided unanimously, in Nix versus Hedden, 1883, that a tomato is a vegetable, even though it is a botanical fruit.

So, there you have the difference between fruit and vegetable and an amazing nutrition fact. A tomato is a fruit AND a vegetable. A pumpkin is a fruit AND a vegetable. The age-old question of “Is it a fruit or vegetable?” has been resolved. Next, we will tackle “Which came first – the chicken or the egg?” (You do know it was the chicken first, right?)

Dang! Seems like tomato pie would be classified as a fruit pie if the Supreme Court hadn’t intervened.

It’s good to learn something new every day so I appreciate the private email.

Bring on Trivial Pursuit – I’m ready!

For bonus fun during this Thanksgiving holiday, I’m going to call it Vegetable Pie with Whupped Cream.

Granny arrives tomorrow and to my delight, will be scurrying around my house washing the kids’ clothes as they remove them and sweeping my kitchen floor and asking:

“What time can we leave on Tuesday to go to the mountains?”

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Countdown to Thanksgiving:
Our Favorite Dish

It will come as no surprise when I reveal what our most favorite dish for Thanksgiving isā€¦

PUMPKIN PIE

In fact, we all love it so much that PhilBillPaul always makes several “practice” pies before Thanksgiving. We’ve had two so far.

With real whupped cream.

Because you can’t eat pumpkin pie without real whupped cream.

It’s illegal.

Or immoral.

Or maybe just plain wrong.

For some reason, PhilBillPaul has always made the pies.

I know you’re thinking, “What in the heck does she cook?!?”

Since this is my blog, I don’t really think I should feel any peer pressure or become defensive.

But I do, just a little.

I guess it’s my natural reaction because I do feel a tiny bit bad for those of you overachieving domestic divas who prefer not to delegate.

My friend Ann told me this summer, “I’m a doer.”

To which I replied, “I’m a delegator.”

Apparently that’s not a word. Whatever. I like to delegate.

It takes all kinds to make the world go ’round.

If you’re still searching for a fabulous pumpkin pie recipe – look no further – here it is:

Pumpkin Pie

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten (don’t overbeat)
  • 1.5 C evaporated milk
  • 1.5 C canned pumpkin

Prepare favorite pie crust in deep dish pie pan. (PhilBillPaul uses the PillsburyĀ® crust in refrigerator section of grocery–he’s not that much of an overachiever himself.)

Mix together until well-blended. Pour into crust. Sprinkle additional cinnamon on top of pie. Bake at 425Āŗ for 10 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 350Āŗ and bake 35 minutes. Now start testing pie for doneness by sticking thin knife in center. Continue baking until knife comes out clean, then pie is done. Let pie cool to set. Refrigerate remaining pie (if there is any left).

Whupped Cream
We do the squirt can variety of real whupped cream and sometimes get crazy and buy the “light” version. Usually we buy the “whatever is cheapest” version. Or if you are fan-cee like my mom, go ahead and take a carton of heavy whipping cream and whip that up by hand. That’s her official holiday duty when she picks up pies at Baker’s Square and visits my siblings at the holidays. After years of cooking for a family of six herself, it seems like a pretty fair trade.

Squirt can or homemade – it’s all delish.

But hide the can from Scary Baby and The Grunter because they would eat it straight up without the pie if we let them.

What will be on your Thanksgiving dessert table this year?

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Cross Country Gifts for High School Seniors

I spent Sunday afternoon getting gifts ready for the darling senior twin daughters Cross Country Banquet that is on Tuesday evening.

I’m pretty sure the Cross Country team doesn’t read my blog so I can share some pictures of the gifts.

First, let me just tell you it’s tough to find an appropriate unisex gift for teenagers! Especially with a small budget.

I actually started searching for ideas by “googling” the title of my post.
Is “googling” a word? No clever ideas came up. But I do love a challenge and was happy to do all the shopping online.

I highly recommend The Engraved Gift Store if you need anything engraved. They made me say WOW! I ordered 14 very affordable solid pewter key rings on Thursday online and had them one week later. With free engraving, free shipping and free gift boxes.

I was delighted to find the boxes had little name labels on them and they included the cute gift cards that fit perfectly inside the box. I LOVE companies that make my life easier with little touches like that!

How cute is the little pewter track shoe I attached to each key ring? Remember, it was a tight budget so I went to eBay and found a shop that had 10 zipper pulls listed and when I emailed the shop, the owner emailed me right back and said he would include 4 more for just an additional $2.00 which meant the shoe charms were just under a dollar a piece with shipping. I also LOVE to find bargains!

I also made digital photo collages for each of the fourteen seniors, uploaded them to Costco Photo Center and picked them up last weekend.

I don’t dare show you any of the collages in case one of them really does read my blog. They should get at least one surprise.

The senior gifts were fun to get ready and I don’t mind helping because I say “no” to most school volunteering these days. You know, those pumpkin bars really used up most of my volunteer energy.

What’s semi-funny is that I did not volunteer to do senior gifts. I didn’t even know they did senior gifts. I’m out of touch like that.

What I did volunteer to do is help put the girls’ senior scrapbooks together. Because I am a parent of two of the five seniors and by volunteering to donate albums and supplies, I could be sure the scrapbooks were extra lovely.

And thanks to my former next door neighbor and his fabulous camera, I can give you a sneak peek of one of the gorgeous title pages I was able to make for my daughters.

If you all will be quiet and won’t tell them you got to see one of their pagesā€¦

before the banquet,

before they get their albums.

I really want to show you my new

most favorite candid photo

of a moment captured on film

of my twin daughters being sweet to each otherā€¦

Shhh, don’t tell them I showed you any of this!

Now available for hire to find decent gifts within your budget without ever having to go the mall. Woo-hoo!

What did you do this weekend?

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Flexible Friday #21 Cabin Fever

This is Granny’s favorite place to vacation.

This is why we don’t stay in hotels.

This is why we go back again and againā€¦

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Countdown to Thanksgiving:
Make Ahead Party Potatoes

Note: Be sure and click on over to iLash Girls today for two great giveaways. We’ve been featuring great Fall items – I want that apron but Leigh Anne says I’m not eligible to win. Fine, but then I at least want one of YOU to win!

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Sometimes I avoid looking at the monthly calendar because it can overwhelm me. Does anyone else do that or is it just another quirky thing I do? Never mind, don’t answer that.

I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized it is two weeks and two days until Thanksgiving. AHHHHH!

I have seen some great tips on how to get organized before Thanksgiving including starting to clean and dust last week.

Lucky for me, this is our third year in a row we’ve taken our Thanksgiving on the road. Which means I won’t be troubling myself with cleaning and dusting my house.

At least I’m not behind on my non-existent checklist. Whew.

If I had a checklist – and yes, I have had one for many years – I have a timesaving trick or two that I can share to help you prepare. We have had many, many Thanksgivings here at my house with other families who do not have extended family living near (like us) or with family members who traveled to Georgia to be with us.

I remember the early years of marriage where I cooked everything ALL DAY and I was exhausted by the time we sat down to eat. Timing everything properly even with two ovens was always a challenge for me.

The one item that always bogged me down but is a Thanksgiving MUST is piping hot, homemade mashed potatoes. Even though Mr. Flexible PhilBillPaul would have eaten those flakes from the box. Ick.

I always review our holiday menu with the kids because I love to hear what their favorites are and these potatoes are always on the top of everyone’s list. Even though we are going away, I make several of our favorites and as of last year, we ordered the rest from a restaurant. For me, it’s a great combination of homemade and easy so we can all enjoy the day!

When I found the recipe for Make Ahead Party Potatoes, it changed my Thanksgiving-Homemade Mashed-Potato-Life! No more beating the potatoes minutes before everyone sits down to eat. (Remember I only got a grown-up Kitchen-Aid mixer two years ago so it was a workout to beat 5 pounds of potatoes!)

Make Ahead Party Potatoes

  • 5 pounds potatoes, peeled and chunked
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 1/2 C milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bread crumbs
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste

In large saucepan, cover potatoes with water. Add good pinch of salt and cook over medium high heat until tender. Drain off water and coarsely mash potatoes. Add 6 tablespoons of butter, cream cheese, sour cream and salt and pepper. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Add milk gradually – you want the potatoes to be light and fluffy so if they seem too wet, don’t add all the milk.

Transfer potatoes to a greased casserole dish or 9×13 pan and top with bread crumbs, Parmesan and last two tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces. Refrigerate, cover tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days before baking. Before baking, bring dish to room temperature. Bake at 350Āŗ for 30 minutes or until heated through and top is lightly golden.
Serves 10-12

Next week I’ll feature another one of our family favorites – The One that PhilBillPaul makes every single year!

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Oh, I almost forgotā€¦for those of you who are nosey interested and are asking “Where do you go?”

We head to the Great Smoky Mountains. Granny flies in from Texas and we pack up our cars and head to a semi-secluded cabin in a quiet, beautiful area of Tennessee that we have vacationed at for many years.

If you have a timesaving tip or favorite Thanksgiving recipe, share it here – the clock is ticking and we could all use a little help!

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Teenage Fashion and Cool Moms

In addition to being a mean mom, I am not a cool mom.

I have noticed this “cool” factor is not quite as important to my son as it is to my daughters – both the younger one and the “older” ones. The nine year-old is just as likely to point out my dorkiness as the seventeen year-old darling twins.

The nine year-old had an entirely pink wardrobe for a number of years. If it wasn’t pink, she didn’t want to wear it. There was no such thing as too much pink. She has since added a few other colors to her wardrobe palette along with sparkles, sequins and anything shiny.

Add to the mix that the two in high school are athletes and are NOT girly-girls and I truly have both ends of the fashion spectrum. Shopping with my “big” girls hasn’t been fun and has not classified as a mother/daughter bonding time for at least a decade.

For many years Roger Leroy headed straight to the boys department to buy gym shorts and warm-up pants. I think the first year she wore girls’ jeans was freshman year of high school.

We actually argued before their senior picture appointment when I asked if they would please, please consider wearing small stud earrings and a necklace. And if that wasn’t ridiculous enough, I then suggested a little mascara and eye shadow would be a lovely touch.

I’m uncool, I tell you.

And I know things could be worse. Much worse. I try to keep this in perspective.

So now they have to look for a nice shirt (notice I didn’t say dress or skirt) to wear to the upcoming cross country banquet.

I offered to take them to lunch and shopping on Friday afternoon. Who knew when we picked Cracker Barrel that it would turn into a timesaving one-stop shop?

Tucked way in the back of Cracker Barrel’s country store shop was a 70% off corner of Fall apparel. Don’t even get me started on what a bargain shopper I am. It’s a finely developed skill that has served our family well.

Never mind that there is no dressing room in Cracker Barrel. I just had the girls try on the blouses in the corner.

Shirts were $39.99 marked down to $11.99! Woo-hoo – what a bargain!

And they would easily match their dress pants – you know, the black ones – the only ones they own.

Since they are twins I thought it would be super cute if they dressed alike for the banquet.

Forgive the bad quality photo – I only had my camera phone when I forced them to pose for this pictureā€¦

spiderShirt

It’s very hard to make out the sequined spider but it’s worth squinting and trying to get the full effect. I thought it really set off the plaid fabric.

OKAY, OKAY, I’m just kidding. We didn’t buy them.

Because the hats weren’t on sale.

The young female Cracker Barrel clerk did say “Boy, I thought my mom was badā€¦”

Huh? I don’t know what she was talking about.

They insisted on going shopping by themselves on Saturday. And proceeded to buy this shirt.

RogerBlackShirt

Wizzy got the same exact shirt except in beige.

After laughing at me when I said they could dress alike and I was
just kidding.

Which suspiciously looks like the sparkle blouse I wore rollerskating in the 9th grade at “The Tree” in Rockford, Illinois.

Because I used to be cool.

Or not.

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Flexible Friday #20
Apple Bavarian Torte Perfection

After this, I will try to stop talking about apples (until next Fall) but I have to share my favorite apple dessert recipe.

Leigh Anne’s apple pie
is now ranked in top three but this one is still my personal favorite!

I have made this many times for our Thanksgiving dessert table. It is also perfect for a holiday brunch. Since my birthday is in September, it has been a delightful stand-in for my birthday cake several times because I don’t necessarily need a traditional cake.

Don’t let the three steps intimidate you.

If I can make it, you can make it.

I promise.

If Leigh Anne whips it up and takes one of her gorgeous pictures, I’ll be sure to come back and post it (hint, hint).

Apple Bavarian Torte

Step one – mix up the crust:

  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C flour

Preheat oven to 450Āŗ Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and flour. Press crust into flat bottom of springform pan. Set aside.

Step two – mix up the cheese mixture:

  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

In medium bowl, blend cream cheese and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Pour cheese mixture over crust.

Step three – apple mixture:

  • 6 medium apples
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 C sliced almonds

Peel, core and slice apples (get one of those handy, dandy apple devices!) Gently toss apples with sugar and cinnamon. Spread apple mixture over all. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400Āŗ, bake for additional 25 minutes. Sprinkle almonds over top of torte and continue baking until lightly browned. Cool before removing from pan. Yield: 12 servings
–Recipe from Pampered Chef Favorites 1992

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The Firstsā€¦

Just because I wrote about recognizing the significance of “The Last Times”
I didn’t mean to imply that “The Firsts” are any less significant.

Or blog worthy.

It’s all important stuff – this job of raising human beings.

Yesterday My Pumpkin a.k.a. The Grunter had a significant FIRST.

He took a ride with me about a mile and half down the road.

Remember all the stickers the doctor, dentist and teachers gave your kids?

Yesterday he got The Most Important Stickerā€¦

Mama and “Pop” (as he refers to PhilBillPaul) are proud to add another voter to this great country.

And we’re feeling oldā€¦

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