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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy NEW Year!

I don't typically make New Year's resolutions. No real reason, just never felt the need I guess.

But a lightbulb turned on the other day. Max is going through his teenage YUK and I wanted to just wipe "that" look off of his face but instead I grabbed it and kissed it. I kissed his whole face until he was laughing.

I realized that when they were little, I did that all the time. We played a game, "Everybody get Max (or Claire)" and I would grab them and kiss their face and neck and tickle. They would giggle and yell, "Everybody get Mommy" and they would both jump on me and do the same thing.

I would kiss their whole face before I put them to bed. I would give them kisses all the time for no reason and that doesn't happen when they get older. We got busy, they got...well they got how they get in those teenage years. We're busy running around and although I kiss them and tell them I love them every night, I don't kiss them for no reason.

So, that's my New Year's resolution...MORE KISSES!

Happy NEW Year!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuna Puffs

Were you asked to bring an appetizer for New Year's Eve? This one is always a hit!

You can cut the puffs in half and literally make little sandwiches or you can impress your friends and use either a pastry bag or a ziploc to fill them up. The tiny hole you have to push the tuna in, makes the whole experience less messy. BUT and this is a BIG but...make sure you label them the first time you make them, don't want people thinking they are baby cream puffs. The face you get when a newbie tries one and is expecting sweet and gets tuna, not a pretty one.

Let's get started.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees..I don't preheat for much, but with these a hot oven works best.

1 C Water
1 stick Butter
1 C Flour
4 room temperature Eggs~if you forgot to take these out, no worries, cold eggs work ok too

Melt your butter and water in a small pot. When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and immediately stir in the flour, it will form a ball. Cool for about 10 minutes. Crack 2 eggs into dough and mix with your hand mixer, when those are mixed in, add your other two. Whip it up until you get a sticky dough. Take a spoon out of your silverware drawer and get a small clump of dough, about the size of a small 25 cent gumball. Put on a non stick cookie sheet. The dough puffs up, not too much to the side, so just leave a bit of room. Put in the oven for about 20 minutes. Here is where so many go wrong and get mushy puffs. LEAVE them in the oven until they are fully golden brown. There should be NO bubbles on them. They should be dry, completely dry. Better to overcook then to under cook, that I promise. Remove from pan to cool and repeat. I have a large cookie sheet that I fill up twice, makes about 70 puffs. You can do this a day ahead of time if you need to or even weeks before and freeze them, defrost and stuff (although anyone who knows me, knows that I like things freshly prepared so I have personally never frozen them)


5 cans Tuna in Oil
2 T minced dried Onion or chop up some fresh
1/2 t Pepper
Miracle Whip

Drain tuna, break it up with your fingers. You want to make sure you don't have any big chunks. Add onion and pepper, give it a stir. Add Miracle Whip. I'm guessing here but I'd say about 1/4-1/3 C per can. You want it sloppy, not crazy sloppy but too sloppy for a sandwich. If you want to use less that works too. Chill for an hour or so to let the onion and tuna meld together.

Fill your pastry bag without tip, poke a hole with your finger into cooled puff, insert pastry bag and squeeze until puff is full. Continue 70 more times. Chill for at least a couple of hours, not more than 24 and serve. You can eat them 24 hours later, they just don't taste as fresh.
If you cut your butter up, the process goes that much faster.
This is after you've mixed in your flour. See the nice ball of dough it forms.
Add a couple of eggs and use your hand mixer to beat these babies in OR give your bingo wings a workout and stir by hand.
This is what the dough looks like. Nice and creamy.
Grab a spoon and grab some dough.
Side view
Pan ready for the oven.
Dry, golden brown, DONE.
Your tuna, I'm short a can but I'm using the leftover puffs and squirting whipped cream out of the can into them, freezing them and giving them to my kids for dessert with hot fudge on top.
Drain your tuna by squeezing the top down.
Break the tuna up so there are no big clumps, add onion and pepper.
Add Miracle Whip and chill for at least an hour.
Disposable pastry bags are my friend. If you don't have one, you can use a ziploc, and clip off a small corner or cut the puffs in half and make a little sandwich.
Poke a hole in the puff like this.
Here's the hole to stuff.
Insert pastry bag and give a gentle squeeze.
Pop in your mouth and enjoy or put in the fridge to chill a bit. You'll be asked to make them again, I promise.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad

My Dad would have been 64 years old today. I still can't wrap my brain around that he has been gone for over 3 years. My Christmas decorations were in a box yesterday because we would have celebrated him today.

I feel cheated at times that I can't listen to more of his stories or watch him enjoy his life. I feel sad that the kids lost their Papa and that he isn't around to share their adventures.

I sometimes wish there was a word for what happened because simply saying that my Dad died isn't big enough. I want people to understand the depth of how losing someone suddenly causes your world to implode. But, I also realize that the end result is the same and at least he didn't suffer. He was a physical presence one moment and the next a spirit watching over us, protecting us. And, I don't have any regrets that I didn't tell him some thing or that I didn't say good bye because we were the kind of family that said I love you often so he knew....I knew.

As I listen every night to Claire saying her prayers and asking Papa to give her good dreams. And seeing the finger printed photo on Max's wall closest to his pillow of the two of them that I know that he touches often. It makes me eternally grateful that he made a large impact in their lives so they will keep his spirit alive.

I know he's around, hovering close on days like this and that too gives me peace but I miss him. We all miss him.

Happy Birthday Dad! We love you!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Shrimp and Crab Boil

I was thinking back over the year and what my favorite dinner was and I think this one wins. It was easy and super tasty. I think I'm going to make this for New Years Eve, what are you having?

What you'll need:

A pot that will hold 3 gallons of water or more

1 3/4 gallons of water ~ I bought the gallon jugs so I didn't start with cold water to get it to boiling faster
2 packages of Zatarain's Crab boil
8 T Salt
1 T Cayenne Pepper
2 Lemons quartered
1 bulb of Garlic pulled apart ~ remove the flaky skin but leave the cloves intact
1 Onion sliced
2 dozen Baby Red Potatoes washed
1 lb of Shrimp ~ I used frozen that were thawed and without shell
4 ears of Corn on the Cob
2 lbs of Crab thawed ~ I used King Crab because it was on sale
Stick of Butter melted with 1 t of garlic powder
Loaf of crusty french bread

Put your water, zatarain's,
Cayenne pepper, lemons, garlic, onions and baby reds in the pot and cover. Bring to a steady boil.

Add shrimp and cook for about 5 minutes or until they turn pink. Remove shrimp from pot. It would have been helpful to have a basket that I dropped in with the shrimp but we were at the cabin and working with what I had on hand. Steve told me to do the shrimp first because they would absorb a lot of flavor that way and he was right.

Add corn and crab, cover pot and boil 8 minutes. Scoop out the garlic, potatoes, corn and crab or if you have a colander large enough, strain in that.

Dump the shrimp out onto newspaper covered with brown paper bag, toss the rest of the stuff on top and serve with garlic butter.

You can squeeze the garlic cloves onto crusty french bread and dunk in garlic butter for an OVER the top garlic bread.

Everything was seasoned perfectly. The corn didn't need even need butter. Eat your way through the pile. It was seriously YUMMY! This pile served 4 women:)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Been thinking a lot about Christmas from when I was a kid. It's not the gifts I remember, although my wishes were granted. It was about the traditions, the spirit of family that I remember most.

Our house was always decorated from top to bottom and the gifts under the tree were spilling all around. Seemed like there was always a ton of snow and when you'd step from the car, it would go over the top of your boots and get my tights wet. I don't remember a brown Christmas like we had this year.

Christmas Eve started when my Dad got home from work and we piled into the car and headed to his side of the family at Grandma Joyce's house. We walked into loud, controlled chaos with hugs from everyone and the room was always hot and stuffy. Rosette cookies on the table and egg nog for all, both of which I didn't like but would always try just in case I changed my mind.

From there we went to my Grandma Betty's house. Always decorated to the hilt by my Uncle Billy. Herring and funky shaped cookies on the buffet. It was comfortable and cozy. All of us equally excited for what others received.

My Grandma was always fair. The adults pretty much opened the same gifts in different colors. The kids would all get their "wish" but inside would be an envelope that would contain a quarter and some pennies or a couple of bucks. See, my Grandma always spent the same on EVERY kid and you got the difference of cost in that envelope. It always made me smile.

My Grandpa also always picked out the worst Charlie Brown Christmas tree. One year he even had to wire the branches because they weren't strong enough to hold the ornaments. He said that every tree deserved a home on Christmas and I think he truly meant it because he typically went into the woods and cut one down, so his choices were vast!

Home we went to open more presents with a fire in the fireplace and wait for Santa to bring the extra special something in the morning. My stocking was always my favorite part of Christmas Day.

Christmas is about traditions and although ours are different now, we still have them. I hope that when my kids are my age that they look back and remember silly things like I have. But, I hope they remember the sense of family and love the most.

Here they are putting the star on the tree. Makes me a bit sad that Max doesn't need a step stool any longer.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

A moment in time...

I was talking with some friends about the magic of Christmas and it reminded me of a story about Max. Since this blog is for them to look at when they get older to find their favorite recipes, I thought he might like a story about him as well.

When he was about 7 years old, he said that he knew the Easter Bunny wasn't real.

I asked, "why do you think that"?

He said, "Give me a break, a big bunny hopping through the night trying to carry all those baskets. It's not like Santa who has the elves and reindeer helping or the tooth fairy who only needs to carry teeth and gold dollars".

Where has the time gone??

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I just had to share these photos from Alivia's birthday party. She is so stinkin cute, I can't stand it.

She was told she had to keep her eyes closed for a surprise.

And, here she is on the move.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bantam B1 Orange

Max's hockey poster turned out really cute this year.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cheesy Potato Chowder

Are you running around like crazy? Trying to get it all done before the big day? This is one of my favorite soups and it's on the menu for this week.

It's a super easy crockpot that you could serve with your favorite bread.

6-8 med size potatoes; peeled, quartered/diced
1 med carrot or handful of baby carrots chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 Leek chopped
1 medium onion diced
4 C Water
4 Chix Bouillon Cubes ~ if you'd like to make this vegetarian, use vegetable bouillon without any taste difference
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t dillweed
1 t paprika
12 oz can evaporated milk..I typically use Fat free
1 C Frozen Corn
1-2 C shredded cheese, I used cheddar/jack mix tonight

Put everything in the crockpot EXCEPT for milk, corn and cheese. Cook on low 8-10 hours or high for 4-5. Mash potatoes a little. Add rest of ingredients, heat through and serve.

This is the carrots and celery. I said to "chop" them. Here is a simple rule I use when cooking, ask yourself "what size feels comfortable in my mouth". If you like bigger carrots, cut them bigger, just know that they might be a little crunchier when the soup is finished.

A leek looks like a BIG green onion. This is what it looks like when you cut most of the green off.

I cut it in half and proceeded to chop it. If I'm feeling lazy, I'll just use my kitchen shears to cut it into pieces directly into the crockpot.

Here's the onion, peeled and cut in half for easy chopping. If you run it under cold water, it keeps the tears to a minimum. You can also use a food processor to chop the onion. The onion will break down as it cooks but if you want it diced really fine, I recommend the food processor.

If you are saying that you don't like onions, well onion really gives this soup the flavor, I promise you won't notice the onion when it's cooked. A friend of mine who "hates" onion is none the wiser;)

I know I said 6-8 medium potatoes, but this is what I had. Size doesn't matter as long as it rounds out to at least 6 medium sized potatoes.

Peel your potatoes and chop in various sizes. You can be exact if you want to but I find that if you use different size cuts, you get a better texture. I don't like completely "creamy" potato soup but if you do, make sure your potatoes are more uniformly cut.

Here is everything except the milk, corn and cheese. Give it a stir, cover and leave it alone for 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 on high.

The old fashioned masher comes into play after the potatoes are soft. Use this directly in the crockpot to mash the large chunks. If you like a creamier soup, you could use one of those hand held beaters. As I said, I'm not a fan of creamy potato soup and I also don't play with too many gadgets in the kitchen;)

Now, shake your evaporated milk and pour it in. Add your corn..I prefer frozen but drained can corn will also work and the cheese. You can use any variation of cheese. I typically use something that involves cheddar. Give it a stir and heat through.

You're done. It also freezes well.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reindeer Food

Did you know that the reindeer need some help finding your house? Did you know that if you sprinkle Reindeer Food on your front lawn, they can see it from the sky?

Make a little magic for your kids.

What you'll need:

3 C of Oatmeal
Container of Red and Green Sprinkles
Cooking spray

Spread your oatmeal on a cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle, sprinkle and sprinkle some more. Toss and repeat. Toss and repeat.

Let dry for about an hour and then scoop 1/4 - 1/3 C into a snack bag and share with your friends.

Mix it up
Bagged and ready to share

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gingerbread Houses

We are doing this on Saturday. The kids can't wait:)

The milk cartons makes it easy enough that even our 3 year old didn't have a problem. Everyone brought toppings to share and you certainly don't need all the choices we offered, we were a bit excessive;).

What you'll need:

Small milk cartons
Graham crackers
Canned Frosting~it seems to hold up better for building

Random toppings, we had
Mini Candy Canes
M&Ms~big and mini
Gum Drops
Vanilla Wafers
Mike and Ikes
Gummy Bears
Red Hots
Teddy Grahams

Put a blob of frosting on the bottom of the milk carton and anchor it to a plate. Make sure you write the name of the child on the bottom of the plate so everyone gets theirs when they leave.

Each child gets 6 graham cracker halves. Frost back of graham cracker and stick to side of carton. Two on the top to make the roof. Use a bit of extra frosting for the roof. We also use mini knives, i.e., cheese knives so they are easier for the kids to handle.
Anchor your milk carton. Frost your graham crackers and get started

House ready to decorate

The 3 year old and 5 year old houses
The older kids finished houses

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bath Salts

The holidays are coming whether we like it or not. It seems like you need a little something for everyone. We made these a couple of years ago and decided that we'll give it a go again this year. Claire was able to do this all by herself at the age of seven so buy the goods and let your kids have fun.

4 C Epsom salts
1 C Sea Salt
6 drops Peppermint Oil (not extract and you better get to the craft store soon, these sell out quick in December)
10 drops Red Food Coloring
peppermint candies or candy cane, for decoration

In one large sized bowl, stir together both salts, and peppermint oil.

Mix until distributed evenly.

Pour half of mixture into separate bowl and add red food coloring and stir well.

Layer each color into your 2 Glass Jars with lids (20 oz size) with alternating layers of each color, making it look like a striped peppermint candy.

Put lid on and decorate jar with peppermint candies or candy canes glued on.

Thanks to for the photo because I didn't have one of the ones we made but they looked pretty close to this and we also used the mini canning jars and made a bunch for the extra people who she has contact with at the school.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Magic Cookie Bars

These are MY favorite.

My FAVORITE bar that I make for the holidays. Step by step will not be until the end of the month but you can handle these without.

1/2 C Butter cut into chunks
1 1/2 C Graham Cracker crumbs
14 oz can Condensed Milk
1 C chopped Walnuts
1/2 -3/4 C Coconut
6 oz Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 350. In 13x9 cake pan, melt your butter in the oven a few minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Sprinkle crumbs over the butter, mix it up and press into the pan with your hand or a fork to form the crust. Pour the condensed milk over the crust making sure it covers the entire crust. Top with coconut, chocolate chips and nuts. Press down a bit. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges are golden. Cool, cut and serve.Roll graham crackers into crumbs
Sprinkle graham crackers into butter
Drizzle condensed milk
Sprinkle Chocolate chips
Chopped nuts