Thanksgiving 2014

thankgiving 2014

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Here in the Northeast, it was rather eventful… the first major snowstorm of the season hit, complete with travel tie-ups and serious power outages. The snow started on Wednesday morning, and as I suspected, the library opted to close so I didn’t have to go in to work. Drew’s mom and aunt came up in the morning, as well, in order to stay ahead of the storm.

thankgiving 2014

For most of the day we watched the snow fall. (We ended up getting close to a foot!) The kids were excited and built a snow man and snow fort in the afternoon. We had all just settled in to start a movie before dinner when everything went silent. Yes, the wet, heavy snow (or an accident… or who even knows) caused the power to go out. At first we were hopeful it was temporary, but soon we realized that we wouldn’t be able to use the oven to make dinner. So while I was gathering candles and oil lamps, Drew got out the propane grill and camp stove so we could get everyone fed.

Outages were widespread and I began to get worried about what would happen for Thanksgiving. Would I be able to cook? We came up with a plan B, just in case. Luckily, the mashed potatoes and stuffing were already made. We could easily warm those on the wood stove. We figued we could cut up the turkey and cook it in the Dutch oven outside if we had to. We all went to bed, not knowing what to expect in the morning. Luckily, our power came back around 1 AM. I was incredibly thankful! Some people in the area are still without power.

Thanksgiving day was very nice. I was able to cook the traditional dinner after all — no fire pit cooking was necessary! I think everyone enjoyed the meal — we were sure full! I made roast turkey, sour cream mashed potatoes, green beans with slivered almonds, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, cornbread, and cranberry sauce. My mother-in-law brought the cranberry-sausage stuffing. For dessert we had apple crisp — simple, and just enough!

thankgiving 2014

After the dishes we washed, and turkey bones were simmering to make stock, the kids and Drew’s mom played board games for a while. I did a bit of crochet, and Drew started to put up the Christmas tree. I think we’ll decorate it tonight.

thankgiving 2014

Today I did some more cleaning, and I’m just taking it easy. No shopping for me today! There’s nothing I really need and I just don’t have the patience to deal with the crowds. I used to always enjoy going out on Black Friday, but in recent years it has gotten way too crazy. Nope, not for me anymore. I think I’ll spend the rest of my day off working on craft projects and making some turkey soup for dinner. Some down-time in front of the fire seems pretty perfect to me!

Influenster #VitaVoxBox

#vitavoxbox from Influenster

Is there anything better than opening your mailbox and instead of seeing bills and junk mail, finding a package full of goodies to try out? I think not! I was super excited to be chosen to receive the #VitaVoxBox from Influenster and over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying out all the goodies.

In case you missed my unboxing video on YouTube, here it is:

I have to say, I was most excited about the First Degree burn cream. I’m a klutz, and I often work around hot things (the oven, stove, my glue gun… you get the picture). I had the opportunity to give the First Degree cream a try the other day when I was making hair bows for Laura. Like a fool, in order to see if my glue gun was hot, I touched the metal part. (It was late, I was tired, and obviously not thinking). Immediately I put a dab of the cream on my finger, massaged it in, and felt some relief. Good stuff!

The SoftLips Cube is OK. Honestly, I am not a big fan of SoftLips products, and I have never tried one of these cube-type of lip balms before. It smells and tastes wonderful, though! And since my five-year-old always wants to share my “lipstick,” the cube works out great because there is nothing to roll up or down or make a big mess. So it gets a thumbs-up from me for those features.

Playtex Sport FreshBalance tampons. What can you really say about tampons? They work well, though I find them a little too scented.

Bikini-Ready Gummy Vitamins were an interesting product. It’s hard to say much about them because it was a one-shot sample, but they tasted like candy (though there was an odd aftertaste) and definitely gave me an energy boost.

The Pure Leaf sweet tea was tasty. I will give some of their other flavors a try.

And finally… the Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future serum. I haven’t tried this out yet, but I plan to this weekend. I’ve been neglecting my skin care routine in general, so one of my goals now that school is back in session is get back into a daily regimine.

So there you have it! have you received any Influester #VoxBoxes? If you’re interested in signing up, email me and I will send you an invitation! It’s so fun. You write some reviews, take some surveys, and get to try out products.

FTC: These products were sent to me compliments of Influenster for testing and review purposes. All opinions are my own.

{Recipe} Marinated Butter Beans for your Antipasto Platter

Marinated butter beans

When we have parties, my favorite appetizer to prepare is an antipasto platter — delicious savory treats, piled high on a platter, and shared family style. Add some crostini or baguette to soak up the vinegar and oil from the various foods and you’ve got a treat that will please everyone. The time may be over for summer BBQs, but as the holidays approach, so will entertaining opportunities!

My typical antipasto platter includes cured meat (usually pepperoni or salami), fresh mozzarella, olives, roasted red peppers, maybe some artichokes or pickled asparagus… really, whatever I have on hand. Last month I got the idea of using beans on the antipasto tray I prepared for the boys’ birthday party. Not sure how or why that popped into my head (possibly they were talking about a bean salad on an NPR program about picnic foods that I was listening to as I drove). I threw this recipe together for Marinated Butter Beans and they were a huge hit! Not only were they delicious on their own, but they added zing to a tossed salad and bulked up a pasta salad, too. You may have seen marinated butter beans at the deli case or in the “olive bar” area of your grocery store, but why pay those prices when you can make it yourself for a whole lot less? 

Marinated Butter Beans
A tasty addition to your antipasto tray
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Ingredients
  1. 1 15-oz. can of butter beans
  2. 1/4 c. olive oil
  3. 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  4. 1 tsp. capers
  5. 1 Tbsp. minced onion (not dried)
  6. 1 tsp. diced red pepper
  7. 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  8. pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. In the bottom of a mason jar or a bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, capers, onion, red pepper, Italian seasoning, and salt. Drain butter beans and rinse well. Add beans to the jar and stir to coat. Refrigerate the beans for at least a few hours, or better yet, overnight.
Notes
  1. Add to your antipasto platter, salad, or just enjoy as a snack.
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/

For more yummy recipes, head over to Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Cooking Thursday!

Nine is Fine!

Happy birthday, Noah!

Yes, August is a crazy birthday month for us. There’s my mom, Drew’s mom, Drew’s brother, Jake of course, and Noah. Yesterday was Noah’s special day — he turned 9!

Our weekend was full of celebrating. Saturday evening the boys had some of their friends over for a LEGO-themed party. Drew did all the work for this one — I can’t take any credit at all. The kids played LEGO games, built LEGOs, and designed their own mini-figures.

Birthday Party

Birthday Party

For the food, I made pizzas that resembled LEGO bricks, along with hot dogs, chips, and veggies. It was simple, but the kids all liked it!

Birthday Party

Birthday Party

We ended the evening by showing “The Lego Movie” on the outdoor screen. Some of the boys’ parents and siblings also came for that — such fun!

Yesterday we had our family party and that was a great time, too. Again, the food was pretty simple, but sometimes that’s the best. I made a tray of sausage & peppers, a tray of meatballs in marinara, pasta salad with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes, rolls, and salad. We’ve been enjoying the leftovers :-)

Birthday Party

Today has just been getting the house back in order after a weekend of parties. Dishes, laundry, putting away gifts… My allergies have been crazy today so I took a Benedryl and that wiped me out!

Tonight I plan to watch a movie with Drew and Jake after Laura is in bed (Noah’s at his grandma’s for a couple days), and doing a little crochet. Now that I’m halfway done with my afghan I’m getting itchy to start a new project, but I won’t. I’m going to finish this one up, border and all!

Well, time to get Laura’s bedtime routine going… hope you had a great Monday!

{Recipe} Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers with Cumin-Yogurt Sauce

Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers

The summer is winding down, but there is still plenty of time to grill up a great burger! While I love a big, meaty cheeseburger, sometimes it’s fun to change things up a bit. Today I’m sharing with you a recipe for chicken burgers with an Indian twist. Don’t skip making the Cumin-Yogurt sauce — it’s what really makes the burgers stand out!

Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers with Cumin-Yogurt Sauce
A delicious alternative to traditional burgers
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Burgers
  1. 1 package of ground chicken breast (approx. 1 lb.)
  2. 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  3. 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
  4. 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  5. 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  6. 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  8. 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  9. 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  10. salt and pepper
  11. mini pitas
  12. chopped onions and tomato
Cumin-yogurt sauce
  1. 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  2. 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  3. handful of chopped cilantro
  4. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Prepare the cumin-yogurt sauce first by combining the yogurt, cumin, and cilantro in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to allow the flavors to intensify.
For the chicken burgers
  1. Combine the ground chicken, scallions, jalapenos, ginger, lemon juice, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, coriander, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir everything together really well then let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Gently form burger patties. I made mine more oblong in shape to better fit inside the pitas. Season the patties with a little salt and pepper if you desire and then grill until the ground chicken is opaque throughout the burger. Do NOT undercook the burgers.
  3. Cut four pitas in half and warm them either on the top rack of your grill or in a toaster oven. Don’t overheat them or else they’ll get too crispy. Place two patties in each pita half along with diced onion and tomato. Add a healthy dollop of the cumin yogurt sauce and serve.
Notes
  1. You can grill these outdoors, but they also are delicious broiled or cooked in a frying pan. Use whatever method is most convenient for you.
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/

 I’m linking up with Sandra at Diary of a SAHM

because it’s Cooking Thursday!
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{Recipe} Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Oh my, it’s been a while since I shared a recipe with you. Well, I’m jumping right back and and I have a delicious appetizer today! I brought this dish to “girls’ night” type thing last night and they were a hit. My husband also raved about the samples I left for him. The best part? You can whip this up in no time at all.

Now, when I think of stuffed mushrooms I think of a sausage and breadcrumb filling, or even a crabmeat filling. I love how they taste, but I’ve never attempted making my own because… well, I’m not really sure. It just seemed like a labor-intensive process. Not so with this recipe. In fact, you can make the filling ahead of time to let the flavors develop, then stuff your mushrooms later, broil, and enjoy.

 

Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms
Juicy mushroom caps stuffed with a creamy mixture of bacon and cheese.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 cup crumbled bacon (or real bacon bits)
  3. 1 Tbsp. chopped scallions
  4. 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  5. 1 lb. whole, fresh white mushrooms, stems removed
Instructions
  1. In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Add the bacon bits, garlic powder, and green onion. Stir to combine. Spoon mixture into mushroom caps. Arrange mushrooms on a cookie sheet or broiler plan. Broil for 5-8 minutes until mushrooms are heated through and the tops have slightly browned. Serve warm.
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/

Spring Break

Yet again… more time passes between blog posts than I’d like. What on earth is it about this year? I feel like there just isn’t anywhere near enough time to get everything done.

Sigh… Anyway! We are on spring  break this week and I could not be happier! At this time of year I am just burned out. Tired of driving around. Tired of activities. Tired of that face you have to put on when you see other parents from school. (Don’t laugh — you all know what I mean. Sure, there are parents you are friends with and hang out with and love to see. But then there’s everyone else, LOL…) So yes. I am happy to have a week without obligations.

The kids and I went up to my parents’ last weekend. Poor Drew was sick with a horrible cold, so we left him home to rest. It was great seeing my family, and the kids all loved spending time playing with their cousins. We had an early Easter of sorts, complete with a delicious turkey dinner and an Easter egg hunt. Needless to say, the kids all had a blast!

Monday morning we got home and I worked in the afteronon. Yesterday a ton of library books came in for me — yay! I always feel like I won the lottery when there’s a big stack waiting for me.

library books

I was desprately craving Polish food. The craving was partially brought on by being in WMass for the weekend and partially by a conversation about kielbasa that I had at work Monday afternoon. It wasn’t the greatest, but as the saying goes, I did the best I could with what I had. For something different, I sauteed onions and topped the pierogis with onions and sour cream as I’d seen many other people do. Meh. It was OK but in the future I will stick to melted butter and breadcrumbs like my Babci always did. For me, that is traditional. And it certainly is tastier.

polish food

Today I’ve just been puttering around the house. Of course, we also woke up to this scene:

snowy april morning

Yes… snow! It poured all day yesterday and I am surprised any stuck. There was a huge temperature drop, though. I ran to the grocery store yesterday afternoon and it was 62 when I went in and 47 when I came out an hour later! Of course, it’s all melted away now. But it is still chilly enough to have one last fire going in the wood stove.

I have also been excitedly waiting for the arrival of my UBP14 prize! I won the Magic Bullet system from Jen over at PoorPaleo! Guys, I remember nursing Noah in the fall of 2005, watching this infomercial in the wee hours of the morning. I was riveted. I wanted a Magic Bullet so bad. But I had a blender. I had a food processor. It was a want, not a need. But to win one? Oh, this was the universe’s way of telling me that one really belongs in my kitchen. And look how excited I was to get it!

new magic bullet

The kids were psyched too. They are always asking me for smoothies, but I hate dragging out the blender. I think this is going to work out great!

I guess that’s about it. I’m trying to get out of my blog funk. I’m constant fighting with myself internally over how much is oversharing… should I try to blog more recipes or craft ideas (sticking to a niche)… or should I just write what I want? I know. There’s no right answer. And really, it’s my space I should do with it as I please. I don’t know why I find this to be such a struggle. It shouldn’t be.

Well, I’m off to finish up some laundry and get dinner started. Nothing fancy tonight, just some Creamy Turkey & Wild Rice Soup and sandwiches or salad (letting everyone choose). Hope you all are having a wonderful week! And I think I’ve finally got my  mojo back, so my ramblings here shouldn’t be so few and far between.