Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Two Haunted Skeletons...

...wish you a Happy Halloween!

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Talking About Saturdays On A Tuesday

For the past 5 Saturdays we've been pulling on jerseys, making sure the shin guards are in place, double-knotting shoelaces and heading to the soccer field. Now we are in the home stretch and the end of the season is just 2 games away. It's been a fun season even though Big Pup has found a way to get hurt in every game. I think these kids need more than shin guards, though, this is a rough sport! He's a defender and I think that's the perfect position for him--he's not aggressive or fast enough to be a midfielder/forward. Yet. He's learned a lot about the sport this season and he's getting better with each game.

And more than that, it does my heart good to see this small group of boys from different schools and ethnicities come together as a team, laughing and carrying on during practice and then working and celebrating together during games.

It makes schlepping around camp chairs and water bottles worth it.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gina's Memphis Mud Pie

I've had a few Holy-Moly!-I've-got-to-try-that! moments while watching the Food Network.

One of them was when Sandra Lee tried to duplicate Butterbeer from the Harry Potter books. I can't tell you how much the idea of drinking sweetened condensed milk mixed with butter appealed to me. Seriously. So I made it and....blech. Aunt Sandy can keep this one. It's not for me.

And then one day I was watching Down Home with the Neely's and Gina Neely made this decadent, chocolatey mud pie and HOLY MOLY, I had to have it! So I made it and....yum! This one is a keeper.

One problem, though. I wasn't able to find premade deep dish chocolate crusts so I bought 2 regular size crusts. I wouldn't recommend that. Next time I'll just buy a deep dish tin and make my own crust because I think having all the filling in one pie crust is what gives it it's ooey-gooey chocolate muddiness.

Gina's Memphis Mud Pie (recipe from The Neelys)

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, plus shaved chocolate, for garnish
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans, plus finely chopped pecans, for garnish
1 deep-dish, store-bought, chocolate cookie wafer crust
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the chocolate and the butter in a double boiler. Stir continuously until combined and smooth.

Using a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, corn syrup and salt on medium-high speed until it lightens and doubles in volume, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the melted chocolate mixture and fold in the pecans. Pour into the chocolate wafer crust and bake until the filling is just set, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool. The pie will fall slightly. Once cool refrigerate until well chilled, roughly 1 1/2 hours.

In a medium bowl add the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract and beat until soft peaks form. Top the chilled pie with the whipped cream, makng a nice mound on top of the pie. Garnish the top with shaved chocolate and finely chopped pecans. Serve immediately

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

This is by far my favorite homemade pizza. I always make sure I fix a plain ol' pepperoni for the boys but for me I have to have a chicken-bacon-ranch. I made this for my sister several weeks ago but I'm not sure if I gave her enough time to really enjoy it. I kept asking, "It's good right? The best pizza ever, right? Isn't this awesome?!" In between mouthfuls, she agreed with me.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

12 inch pizza crust (I like this recipe from Cooking Light)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Top crust with ranch, cheese, chicken and bacon. Slide pizza onto a hot pizza stone in a preheated 500 degree oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and the crust is browned.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pure Silliness

Thirty years from now when VH-1 runs their I Love the Twenty-Tens show, my boys will be able to say "Oh, yeah, Silly Bandz. I remember those!" I guess after the fad passes I should package them up and store them in their dresser, just like my mom did with my plastic charm necklace. Remember those?

I vaguely remember the hoopla surrounding Silly Bandz a few months ago when schools were beginning to ban them. I didn't think too much about them then--I had boys and boys aren't into bracelets, right?


My sister came up for a visit a couple of weeks ago and brought a dinosaur one for my 6 year old and he was thrilled...until it broke one morning and the world ended. I sent him off to school with the promise that I would buy him another one. And, well, one is now 60. They have numbers, bicycles, baseball and animals. And I've even taken to wearing the one shaped like a salamander...but don't tell anyone!

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Where I'm From

That's my husband when he was a little boy. He left the cowboy boots behind but does carry a gun to work everyday. Maybe he's not exactly the Wild West sheriff he dreamed of being but a city cop is pretty darn close. He never dreamed of going back to college either but at age 33 that's exactly what he's doing. He's taking this semester slow--just one class, Composition I--to see how much he can handle with his work schedule. Eight weeks in and so far he's gotten perfect scores on all 9 assignments (a wife can brag a little, right?). So for today's Poetry Friday spotlight I'm posting a poem he wrote for a recent assignment, the Where I'm From writing exercise.

Where I'm From by my husband, WD

I’m from fishing on the river bank under a willow tree;
leaves blowing in the breeze.
I’m from dressing up like a Wild West sheriff
and mounting a large flower pot shaped like a mule
and chasing invisible rustlers into the sunset.

I’m from staying up late fighting heavy eyelids
and watching Star Trek episodes,
waiting for my father to return from working second shift.
I’m from making trips across the river
to a neighborhood fish market;
watching the owners pet chimps play for hours.

I’m from spending endless hours with my father
sitting on a levee watching rail cars move back and forth
in a rail yard,
asking time and time again where they came from
and where they’re going.
I’m from visiting my father at work and enjoying a Zero bar
and chocolate milk in the break room.

I’m from camping with my grandparents for weeks at a time in the summer,
waking before dawn to help my grandfather check trotlines,
and playing Skipbo with my grandmother all evening.
I’m from a time I dearly miss but can never return to.
A time traveler headed ever forward into an uncertain future,
missing lost loved ones that I’ll never see again.

I’m from taking my wife and sons’ hands
and traveling farther into the great unknown without regrets,
together growing old;
the best IS yet to be!

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Italian White Bean, Pancetta and Tortellini Soup

A couple of months ago I loaded up the kids and headed to Little Rock to spend a week with my sister. It was a wonderful, delicious, calorie laden vacation. We're talking giant loaded potatoes, pizza, monkey bread and Krispy Kreme. It was great but when I got back home my stomach demanded something healthy. Something like Giada De Laurentiis' Italian White Bean, Pancetta and Tortellini Soup. With its antioxidant-rich kale, protein-packed beans, carrots full of vitamin A and a soothing, comforting broth, this soup was exactly what I needed.

Italian White Bean, Pancetta and Tortellini Soup (from Everyday Pasta)

3 tbsp olive oil
4 oz pancetta, chopped
(I've used bacon and I've also left it out all together)
3 large shallots, chopped
(an onion will work, too)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups chopped Swiss chard (1 bunch) (
any green will do--I like kale)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (9-oz.) package cheese tortellini, fresh or frozen
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

In a large, heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, shallots, carrot, and garlic and cook until the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans, swiss chard and broth.

Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the tortellini and cook 5 minutes for fresh, 8 minutes for frozen, or just until tender. Season with pepper and serve.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Poet. Didn't Know It.

This is my sister and her husband...

Angie and Billy were married last June and plan to start a family sometime next year.

This is my brother and his partner...

Steven and Dan have been going through the adoption process for several months now and just learned they are having a baby girl due in January.

And ALL of this makes me...

a very HAPPY aunt-to-be!

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