2013: A Look Back

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Well 2013 sure didn’t disappoint with its great memories and the not so great memories. Nothing could’ve prepared us for what 2013 had in store.

A lot of changes were made to our family. We had the birth of our daughter. Now our family is complete and things couldn’t be any better. It sure has been an adjustment for all of us, but we get stronger and stronger every day as a family. Aiden, our two year old had to learn that he was not the only baby we had to take care of anymore. This was a bit of a struggle because he is non-verbal for the most part, but we are working on changing that.

Our Son had to start speech therapy which was and is amazing. He started speech therapy in August. He has made such progress working twice a week with his teacher. It can be a challenge some days as he can get very frustrated trying to communicate with us. Aiden is a trooper and we are doing everything we can to help him thrive. He had to get a Frenuloplasty to fix his tongue tie which was preventing him from speaking. This was a horrific experience. He had a terrible recovery because he punctured his tongue right after surgery by biting it.

We took our first family mini vacation and it was a blast! A bit cold but a lot of fun! We went down to the beach. It was so cute to see our son out on the beach with my husband having a great time. We thought for sure that he would hate the sand. He loved it! Even though our children are so young we still make some amazing memories.

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For Christmas this year we had extended family visiting from a few down south. It was so great! Aiden had so much fun playing with his cousins that he has never met before. It was like they were great friends who play together all the time. Maybe that is something children can teach adults. They can teach us how to get along, accept one another, and have a good time!

As for my marriage, I do not think it could be any better. Every marriage and relationship does have its struggles and challenges. By relationships, I mean all types. Relationships with extended family members as well.
I have learned to take a step back and distance myself from those who I feel are having ill feelings towards me. I rarely purposely try and hurt people especially not my family, but I am also not perfect. I am hoping that moving forward in the new year that relationships can be repaired and move forward to a positive place. Its hard when you don’t feel like you fit in or that you don’t belong within a family when you have accepted them. Time will only tell as to what the future holds. I just really hope that something great comes out of all of this.

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When it comes to my health, 2013 was a mess for me. I was pregnant up until June. I am suffering from arthritis in most of my body and my weight has become an issue. I am starting the 17 day diet tomorrow. It should be interesting. I have been on this diet before and lost a lot of weight. I plan on updating every couple of days during so I can look back on my weight loss journey.

I know this post is a bit late, but hey that’s ok! I wish everyone a healthy and happy new year! I am looking forward to what 2014 has to offer.

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Thanksgiving Feast

As most of you know Thanksgiving is a huge foodie holiday.  I am still learning something new every year. Here’s what was served at our Thanksgiving prepared by ME!

Appetizers: 
– Cheese Platter
– Cold Spinach Dip
– Roast Beef Rounds
– Sausge Crescent Rolls

Main Dishes:
– Turkey
– Lasagna
– Spiral Ham (made by my Mother in Law)

Sides:
– Creamy Mashed Potatoes
– Corn
– Green Beans
– Stuffing
– Biscuits
– Green Garden Salad (made by sister in law)

Dessert:
– New York Cheesecake
– Chocolate Pudding Pies ( made by sister in law)
– Brownies ( made by sister in law)

The Turkey:

I had wet brined the turkey this year. I combined 2 gallons of water, 3/4 cup salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 2 cups of apple cider,3 tablespoons ground pepper, rosemary, thyme, sage, 6 garlic cloves, and 3 bay leaves. I brought all of the ingredients to a boil until the sugar and salt dissolved. I made an ice bath in my sink and placed the pot in the sink. Once the brine was completely cooled I poured it in the bag with the turkey breasts side down. I let the turkey brine for about 16 hours.

I then rinsed the turkey off and let the turkey take a cold bath for about 20 minutes in the sink to remove a lot of the salt.
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After patting it dry with a towel I went under the skin and placed compound butter and slices of lemon. I sprinkled salt and pepper on the turkey. The turkey was stuffed with a lemon (halved), one onion, carrots and celery.

I let the turkey rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing it in a 350°f oven covered with tin foil.

While it was resting, I made clarified butter to baste the turkey with. I also had chicken broth warming up on the stove to use to baste as well. I placed herbs in both and kept them warm on the stove.

I roasted the 18lb turkey for 4 1/2 hours and let it rest covered for 1 hour.

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The Cheesecake:

Normally, I make Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Cheesecake. However, this time I wanted to try an easier recipe. BIG MISTAKE !

The cheesecake was great but not my best. Everyone was upset when I said I changed recipes. They found this cheesecake very dense and very filling.

From Food For a Hungry Soul
New York Cheesecake
(Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book)

5 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups (one pint) sour cream, room temperature
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Generously butter the inside of a 10-inch springform pan.  Wrap a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil tightly around the outside bottom and sides, crimping and pleating the foil to make it conform to the pan.  This will help to prevent water seeping into the pan when you put it into the bain-marie.  Position the baking rack in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 300* Fahrenheit. 

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sour cream until well blended.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the cream cheese with the butter until smooth and creamy.  Add this to the egg-sour cream mixture and beat until smooth. 

Add the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest and beat thoroughly, about 2 minutes. 

Pour into the prepared springform pan and place in a roasting pan (or other pan) large enough to prevent the sides from touching.  Place in the oven and carefully pour in enough very hot tap water to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake for 2 hours, 15 minutes, or until the cake is very lightly colored and a knife inserted in the center emerges clean.  Remove from the water bath and carefully peel the aluminum foil from around the pan.  Let stand at room temperature until completely cool, about 4 hours.  Refrigerate, covered, until well chilled.  For best flavor and texture, this cheesecake is best chilled overnight.

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My Cheesecake

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving!!

Recipe Review #5: Chocolate Chip Cookies (Martha Stewart)

After trying many different recipes for chocolate chip cookies for my husband I finally found the perfect one!  The cookies turned out perfectly! 

I give this recipe 5 stars!

It is Aiden Approved!
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Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Makes about 3 dozen

2.25 cup(s) all-purpose flour
0.50 teaspoon(s) baking soda
1.00 cup(s) (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
0.50 cup(s) granulated sugar
1.00 cup(s) packed light-brown sugar
1.00 teaspoon(s) salt
2.00 teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract
2.00 large eggs
2.00 cup(s) (about 12 ounces) semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

What People with No Children Do Not Know…

This post is inspired by a video clip my sister in law showed me. An English Comic was doing stand up and he was talking about what life is like for those who do not have children and for those who do. It got me thinking about how much my life has changed since my son was born. Here are a few scenarios that pertain to my personal life and I’m sure to others as well.

 

When you are exhausted from a long day..

No Kids:
– I am going to bed now. Good night.

Kids:
– ugh I cannot wait for these kids to go to bed.
– No johnny don’t do that you’re going to wake the baby! (Insert crying baby)
– 2 hours later…finally I can go to bed… (insert whinning toddler)
– Mommy I need water… (insert baby crying)
45 minutes later…
-ok NOW I CAN GO TO BED…its only 12am…

When you want to watch your tv show..

No Kids:
– Oh honey look NCIS is on…
– Good babe turn it on!

Kids:
– (Changes Channel and Turns on NCIS)
– Mommy! (Toddler crying)
– ok ok I’ll turn sponge bob back on.

When you want to go out…

No Kids:
– Babe, Lets go out for dinner.
-Ok hun let me grab my purse.

Kids:
– Babe, can you get the baby dressed? Is the diaper bag ready?
-Johnny come here let me put your shoes on.
– no no no! Johnny come here!
– ok where is your jacket?
– No it’s not time to play. We are going bye bye.
– Did you go potty?
– Come on lets go!

(3 hours later you get out the door)

Talking on the phone..

No Kids:
– hey what’s going on?
– oh not much just sitting here relaxing with a glass of cabernet.
– that’s great. I had a great date night out last night and slept until noon today.
With Kids:
– hey what’s going on?
– Not much just in the middle of…. No Johnny! Give that back to the baby! Ugh don’t climb on that! No don’t put that in your mouth! Stop jumping on the couch. (Baby crying)
– I’ll have to call you back.

Going to the Movies…

No Kids:
– What time is the movie?
– 8
– ok great lets get dinner beforehand

Kids:
– Did you get a sitter?
– Yeah they should be here in 15min…
(20 minutes after sitter arrives)
– ok and this is how Johnny likes a story read to him and make sure you give him cuddle bear and oh no juice after 7 and make sure he brushes his teeth….
(10 minutes later finally leave)
– We are going to be late.
– ugh oh well lets just grab something to eat and go home…
(Sits down to eat and phone rings)
– Hi Johnny won’t stop crying…
– ok we are on our way home

So before you have kids make sure you are ready! Children are a complete joy and blessings! I love my babies and wouldn’t change a thing! Every sacrifice and changes we have made is more than worth it. God bless my babies.

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Marriage.

I am so heartbroken by the fact that so many people take marriage so lightly. Marriage is supposed to be a sacred sanction between two people who love and cherish each other. I completely understand that over time, people change and things happen. However, I feel like people are supposed to grow up and old with each other. Remain Loyal and Loving. I am not quite sure how one falls out of love with someone. Maybe I am being naive. It just seems like instead of working on your relationship, you just give up because divorce seems easier. All marriages and relationships have their rough patches.

“Till Death Do Us Part” – is supposed to mean something. It meant something to me when I married my husband and still does.

You should try everything you possibly can to save your marriage or work through a rough time. Go to counseling, read articles, or just communicate. Communication is a huge problem in a lot of relationships.

Instead of just  listening and taking in everything someone is saying; people either tune them out after the first two statements or go on the defensive right away.  So try your best to listen to what your partner is saying to you.  If you have a hard time verbally saying what is wrong or how you feel, write a letter. Some get very overwhelmed with their feelings and can’t verbalize what they exactly want to say.  Another huge issue is communicating over text messages or some kind of messaging application. Do not discuss important things like relationship issues through text messaging! It can make things one hundred times worse! Just do not do it! Cosmopolitan or Woman’s Day Magazine doesn’t always have the best or worst advice. Not every relationship is the same. Love is not a fairy tale, unfortunately. As we grow up we picture the perfect partner and it is not always who you end up with. That is OK! Do not give your partner expectations that only a perfect person from a fairy tale could manage to achieve.   My last piece of advice is, do not bring family or mutual friends into the situation. Do not discuss your marriage with those who will make things worse for you both. I understand that sometimes it is easier to run to a family member for help; But when everything is better, how is that family member going to treat or look at your partner? Will they dislike them? Do they know the WHOLE story? Probably not.

Ways to keep your partner happy and yourself! A happy partner usually ends up with you being happy as well.  Those who are happy in relationships can make those around them feel happy as well.

  1. Give them all your attention at some point during the day. (no phones, no real distractions)
  2. Simple reminders of how in love you are with them throughout the day.
  3. Cuddle! Cuddle! Cuddle!
  4. Appreciate them and make sure they know it!
  5. Be spontaneous!
  6. Compliment them here and there.
  7. Sweet Gestures i.e. opening and closing doors, kisses throughout your day, just letting them know you love them.
  8. Let your partner have their OWN time. Whether they like to knit, play video games, hunt or bake.
  9. Try to do things together and have fun with whatever it is you are doing. (grocery shopping, laundry, or cooking)
  10. Treat them like your queen or king.

I am not promising that this will fix all your problems or guarantee that these will make your relationship perfect. But there is nothing wrong with trying.

“Happy Wife = Happy Life!”

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Recipe Review#4 – Cheesy Pull Apart Bread

I decided to test out this recipe before making for Thanksgiving as an appetizer. I did tweek this recipe a bit. I added less cheese and added onion powder to the butter and garlic mixture. Also – i did not cook it for the extra 15 whole minutes. I cooked it for about 8 minutes after the initial 10.

My family found it delicious and I cannot wait to make it for Thanksgiving! I highly recommend this recipe. If you try it please let me know if you enjoyed it too.

This recipe is courtesy of The Brown Eyed Baker Blog  http://www.browneyedbaker.com/about/

CHEESY PULL-APART BREAD

yield: 4 to 8 servings

prep time: 10 minutes

 

cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 large loaf or boule-style Italian bread (Sourdough or French could also work)
½ cup butter (unsalted or salted is fine), melted
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a sheet of heavy-duty foil with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Cut a cross-hatch pattern into the top of the bread by slicing ½-inch grid lines into the bread, stopping about ¼-inch from the bottom of the bread so that it stays together. Place the bread on the piece of foil that has been sprayed.

3. Stir together the melted butter, garlic and scallions.

4. Gently separate the bread with your fingers, then spoon the butter mixture in all of the seams, making sure it is evenly distributed among the whole loaf. Wrap the loaf up in the foil and place on a baking stone or directly on the oven rack and bake for 10 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

6. Open the foil and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the bread. There will be a lot of cheese, so try to push down as much as you can in between all of the crevices in the bread. Leave the foil open and return it to the oven. Bake until the cheese is completely melted, bubbling and starting to brown on top, about 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving, then sprinkle with parsley (if desired) and dig in!

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Recipe Review#3 – Blueberry Buckle

It has been forever since I have done a review and I have so many to do! .

 

So going off of my Baking Bucket list on a previous post; I decided to bake a Blueberry Buckle. I did not find the Blueberry Buckle too appetizing. I found it dry and with zero flavor. I did not tweek the recipe in any shape or form. However, my son loved it. -HAHA I do not recommend this  recipe. It needs more sugar and I would use Maine Blueberries. Maine Blueberries have this delicious sweetness to them.

Blueberry Buckle
Author: Cooks Illustrated
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Streusel:
  • ½ cup (2.5 oz) all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup packed (3/5 oz) light brown sugar
  • 2 Tb granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 Tb unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and softened
  • Cake:
  • 1½ cups (7.5 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 10 Tb unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup (4⅔ oz) granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 20 oz (4 cups) blueberries

 

Instructions
  1. For the Streusel: Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, combine flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined and no large brown sugar clumps remain, about 45 seconds. Add butter; beat on low speed until mixture resembles wet sand and no large butter pieces remain, about 2½ minutes. Transfer to bowl; set aside.
  2. For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour a 9″ round cake pan.
  3. Whisk flour and baking powder together in bowl; set aside. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter, sugar, salt, and zest on med-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer on medium speed, add eggs 1 at a time; beat until partially incorporated, scrape down bowl, and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat until flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Stir batter with rubber spatula, scraping bowl, until no flour pockets remain and batter is homogeneous; batter will be very heavy and thick. Gently fold in blueberries until evenly distributed.
  4. Transfer batter to pan. Spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Squeeze portion of streusel in hand to form large cohesive clump; break up clump with fingers and sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Repeat with remaining streusel.
  5. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and toothpick comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

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