Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holiday Trimmings

Here is a picture of our Christmas decorations, which admitedly do not photograph well.


The spotlight highlights our new wreath, which sorta looks like it is in jail:


Here is a picture of the new tv in its new habitat:

I married Clark Griswold



I am not making this up. The picture above is not a fake. My husband actually put those two big rocks over our spotlight to hide it and make it look "more natural". Nevermind that there are no rocks anywhere else on our lawn. But I must admit just looking at this picture makes me laugh. [You can judge the "au natural"-ness of the rocks by looking at the full scale picture in the "holiday trimmings" post.]

Eat, DRINK, and Be Merry!

My aunt Jane provided the Pumpkin-tini at Thanksgiving this year. It was very tasty and sure to make you merry. She also provided some other festive drink recipes for those of you that indulge in that sort of thing.

UV Pumpkin Pie
3 ounces vanilla vodka
1 ounce 1/2 and 1/2 cream
1 ounce pumpkin spice syrup [Find in a coffee shop or www. Amazon.com $8.00 a bottle]
Mix, pour over ice and top with whipped cream and cinnamon for garnish

Cranberry Raspberry Flirtini
2 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce raspberry liqueur
ice (shake in this, then disgard)
1 ounce sparkling wine/champagne
fresh cranberries/raspberries for garnish

Peppermint Patty
1/2 ounce vodka
1 ounce vanilla vodka
3/4 ounce white chocolate liqueur
1/2 ounce white creme de menthe
crushed ice
mint sprig and candy cane for garnish
pour over crushed ice

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday Escapade

Nate wants a new TV. I am inclined to want one also given that our tv is a little small and 12 years old. It would be a nice addition to our downstairs given that our tv down their has some sound issues. (But, hey, what can we expect from a tv that we took from the curb for free?!)

So we have been tv shopping for a while, hoping to get a good sale on the day after Thanksgiving. Nate had to work this morning so I agreed that I would be a good wife and set my alarm for 4:30 and get up to go get us a tv.

I got to Circuit City at 4:55 and saw a line. This I expected. What I did NOT expect was a line that went past the end of the strip mall building, along the edge of that building and to an empty, dark field behind it. So, I put my hood up, put my gloves on and ventured to the end of the line. After 40 minutes, and maybe moving 20 feet, I came to realize that I would not get in that store for another hour at least. When a woman behind me left her group in line to check out the situation, came back and said they are letting one person in for every person that comes out of the store, I knew that no tv was worth this. (My frozen face, hands, and toes my have contributed to my decision to leave the line.)

I got back home, crawled in my nice warm bed and went back to sleep. At 10:00, Nate calls, "Well Honey, do we have a tv?!" I recanted my story and he could not believe that I waited in line that long. He checked out the website and it said that both tvs that we were considering were still in stock so I ventured back to Circuit City to get them, this time with coffee. Good thing it's only 5 miles from our house!

I get back to circuit city and there STILL IS A LINE! It is much shorter this time, so I wait for about ten minutes, get in the store and both tvs were gone. Nate was disappointed because the website still claimed that the store I was at had one in stock.

Welll...Nate JUST called me from Best Buy and they had a better tv at a lower price. "Can I get it??!" So we ended up with a TV after all!!! Lesson learned: Next year, I'm sleeping in and then going to Best Buy at 4:00 PM.

Here is a picture of our newest addition (to be replaced with in room pictures soon):

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are 2 recipes from our family Thanksgiving that were Yum-O!

Sausage, Cranberry and Pecan Stuffing
Ingredients
8 cups (1/2-inch) pieces firm white bread (3/4 lb)
1 1/2 lb fresh pork sausage meat, crumbled
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
3 celery ribs, sliced 1/4inch thick
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (8 oz), toasted
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Toast bread in a large shallow baking pan in middle of oven until dry and pale golden, about 20 minutes.

Cook sausage in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring and breaking up large lumps, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.

Add butter to fat remaining in skillet and cook onions, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add celery, apple, and garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage and stir in bread, pecans, cranberries, sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer stuffing to a buttered 3- to 4-quart shallow baking dish and drizzle with broth. (Use 1 1/2 cups broth if you like a moist stuffing, 1 cup if you prefer it drier.) Cover with foil and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until bread is golden and stuffing is heated through, 20 to 25 minutes more.

Cooks' note:
• Stuffing can be assembled (but not baked), without nuts, 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Toss in pecans and bring to room temperature before baking.

Source: My Aunt Jackie and Gourmet Magazine

Green Bean Casserole
The GBC is one of my all time favorite Thanksgiving dishes, despite the utter grossness of the cream of mushroom soup and frozen green beans. My mom gave me this fresh recipe from Cooks Illustrated (Nov/Dec 2006) so I gave it a try. I will never make any other kind!

Topping
4 slices sandwich bread, each slice torn into quarters
2 TB softened butter
salt
pepper
3 cups canned fried onions

Beans and Sauce
2 lbs. green beans, ends trimmed and halved
3 TB butter
1 lb. white button mushrooms
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
3 TB all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
salt & pepper

1. For the topping: pulse bread, butter, salt & pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl and toss with onions; set aside.

2. For the beans and sauce: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fill large bowl with ice water. Bring 4 quarts water to boil, add beans and salt. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

3. Add butter to now empty pot and melt over med-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms relase moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 mins. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmeruntil sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

4. Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in an even layer in 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until topping is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Accessorizing Part 1


Now that we have the furinture situation in our living room squared away, we can buy accessories! Over the weekend we found a rug and a side table lamp for the living room. The walls still look bare but that will come with time.



Here is what the room looked like when we got the keys:

Monday, November 19, 2007

Butternut Squash Risotto

We made this over the weekend and it was great!

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
4 cups of butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and grated (about 1/2 of an average sized squash)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan

Warm the broth in a small saucepan over low heat.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and pepper and cook for 4 minutes. Add the sage and cook for 1 minute. Add the squash and garlic and cook until the squash begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally and waiting until it is absorbed before adding more. It should take about 30 minutes for all the broth to be absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan. Spoon into individual bowls. Serves 4

Source: Real Simple Magazine

Let there be light!

We had another house-packed weekend and one of the things we did is replace most of the light fixtures. We had a bathroom one to replace, 3 hallway fixtures and one kitchen. We got a great deal on a package of fixtures from Lowe's for the hallway and kitchen, and a clearance bathroom fixture at the HDizzle (Home Depot).

We were limited with the bathroom fixture since there is only about 6 inches of space between the medicine cabinet and the ceiling, but we were able to find one that matched our towel racks.

Here is the fixture before:


and here is the "after":


Our other project was the hallway. The old fixtures were ugly but they also did not let a lot of light through so we were hoping to get brighter fixtures, especially given the hallway is painted a dark color.

Here are the old fixtures:


and the new:


More of what we did over the weekend will be forthcoming!!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Plumbing Permit


Well, add this to the list of "things I never knew before I had a house". Our dishwasher (above) is very old and is a piece of junk. You basically have to wash the dishes before you even put them in there or they will not get clean. So...a new dishwasher is currently at the top of our list of things to get.

Nate went to Lowes (b/c he is becoming more and more anti-Home Depot) to check out some prices and the man there told him that he needs to secure a plumbing permit from the city to install a new dishwasher and that they are $200!

In a desperate attempt to save the plight for my new dishwasher, i got on the phone with the permit police at the city. Turns out you DO need a permit, but they are only $20.

This begs the question, are they REALLY going to check if we have the permit or not? What a farce.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yard

Next summer we want to work more on our landscaping - we have a lot of cool plants already including this bush that is gorgeous right now!




We added a "yard" album to our list on the right.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Leaves!


Look at our giant leaf pile!

Furniture Complete!

We have our media stand and coffee table to match our side table! We weren't expecting to have it until after Thanksgiving so it was a fun surprise to get the call Friday!

Here is our new coffee table:



and media stand - our tv looks a little tiny on here but eventually we may upgrade that as well.



here is our previous media stand so it definitely is an upgrade!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sufferin' Succotash



I arrived back from a work trip last night and although the ben's chili bowl chili smokes were delish, I was definitely craving vegetables. So I made this for my husband for dinner.

Scallops Succotash

Olive Oil
One small onion
Garlic cloves
Zuchini
Tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
2 cups frozen lima beans
1 lb scallops
1 TB cider vinegar
fresh chopped basil

Cook onion in olive oil in a saucepan until softened. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add zuchini, tomatoes, corn & lima beans and cook until vegetables are the way you like them - about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, pat scallops dry and salt/pepper both sides. Cook until opaque in separate saucepan, about 5-6 minutes.

Return to vegetable mixture, add vinegar and basil, toss. Serve topped with scallops.

YUM! You obviously can substitute veggies/seafood to accomodate your preferences.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Trick R Treat



Our first year of trick or treating in our neighborhood went pretty well. We were going to dress up to hand out candy, but Nate could not find his Fred Flintstone costume and my Wilma costume did not survive the party a few years ago. Thus, I donned some glow eyes and that was that.

The neighborhood we live in tried something new this year and registered all kids who were going to participate in the nighttime trick or treat on Halloween (Wednesday). Registered kids were asked to donate a bag of candy and then they got a glow necklace to wear while trick or treating. Houses that signed up to hand out candy (like us) in turn got some candy given to them and a sign to hang in their door.

Our 3 bags of candy and sign were delivered on Sunday and we were told to expect 75 kids. We also expected to get a couple of kids on Sunday given that that was the citywide day for trick or treating. Well, we were close to exhausting some candy on Sunday so what did we do? Bailed and ran errands. We actually got stopped on our way to our garage and asked, "oh, are you leaving - so no candy?" And this was by an ADULT.

Wednesday night came and we had candy for 150 - 2x the amount we were told. Trick or treating started at 6 PM. Our candy was done by 7:15 - and that was after we rummaged in our pantry to find some GHIRADELLI dark chocolate squares and some dove valentines candy to hold down the fort for a few more moments. So we again had to pretend we weren't home for 45 more minutes until it was over! I initally was annoyed at this given that many of the kids out weren't from our neighborhood, but then the next day I heard that in some neighborhoods, police had to escort trick or treaters due to pedophiles. Hmm...I guess I can afford to give a kid a bit size snickers so that he can trick or treat in a safe neighborhood.