Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's Going On With Me and Something For Your Holiday Table

This morning my husband put my newly painted kitchen shelves back up before going to work, which means I can get all the dishes out of the laundry closet! Yay! We're doing a little kitchen spruce-up just in time for the holidays. Today I'm off to search for tile for the back splash.
Also on the agenda:
Doctor visit for two kids
Making cornbread for the stuffing
Making chicken broth for the stuffing
Making pie crust
Going to the grocery store because I forgot a bunch yesterday when I went

Also, I wanted to share a couple of recipes using my favorite, butternut squash.
I have tried quite a few butternut squash soup recipes and this is my favorite. My family loves it so much that it's a meal with some bread and salad, but it's great as a starter to a holiday meal. I'm planning to make it for Thursday. It's from Better Homes and Gardens. The only change I make is I just use evaporated skim milk for the whipping cream.

Click here for recipe

Roasted Butternut Quiches
I developed this recipe to serve at my sister's wedding reception. It's very easy and delicious. The dough can also be used for a sweet filling. This recipe makes about 24 mini quiches. Use a mini muffin tin.

Cream Cheese Dough
3 oz cream cheese (reduced-fat works fine)
6 TBS butter
1 cup all-purpose flour

Mix cream cheese and butter with a mixer. Add flour and mix until combined. Press a small amount into each cup of your muffin tin. This dough is so easy to work with. I even let my daughter help me when I made like, a hundred of these for my sister's wedding.

a small onion (chopped)
3 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cups roasted butternut squash
about 1/4 cup half and half

Melt 2 TBS butter in skillet. Add onion and sprinkle with one tsp sugar. Cook over medium-low heat about 20 minutes.
With a mixer, beat all ingredients together until well combined. Now, fill up your mini quiches. I use a mini cookie scoop for this part. You can fill them all the way to the top. You'll probably have some extra filling. If this is the case and you don't have extra dough, you can bake the rest in greased ramekins right along with the quiches. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Remove from tins immediately.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today my beloved husband John and I celebrate nine years of marriage. God has been so gracious to us. He brought us together through some difficult circumstances, which has always been an example to us of His sovereignty.

My ambition throughout high school was to marry John. I always tell him that he made all my dreams come true! This was what I wanted--to be a wife, homemaker, and mother. Sometimes in the middle of a crazy day or moment, froth with crying, spills, or some of the other things we mothers face, I'll stop and think--this is what I wanted.

Today will be filled with all of those everyday, lovely things...

...hungry kids, chubby hands, hugs, baby talk, crayons, cuddles, stories, questions, giggling, tears, superheroes, ponytails, diapers...

...and one incredible man that I love more now than I ever thought possible.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fall Favorites from the Kitchen

Glazed Chicken and Vegetables
This is a family favorite in our house. My husband and children cheer when I make this. It's so satisfying and delicious and the leftovers are really tasty. I make this all year round, but it seems especially good in the fall. This recipe is from my old standby Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I've made a couple changes from the original.
1 3-31/2 pound chicken (I usually buy 5 pound chickens, it usually takes about 20 more minutes to cook)
Cooking oil
3 potatoes, quartered (I use more, 3 is not enough for my family)
6 carrots, sliced 1-2 inches thick
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup prepared mustard
2 TBS butter
2 TBS chopped onion
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2-3 apples, cored and cut into wedges

Rinse inside and out of chicken, pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brush with oil. Roast uncovered, in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Cook potatoes and carrots in boiling water until nearly tender for 15 minutes.

For glaze, in a saucepan combine honey, mustard, butter, onion, curry, garlic salt, and ginger. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Discard drippings in roasting pan. Arrange carrots, potatoes, and apples around chicken in pan. Brush glaze over chicken, vegetables, and apples. Roast uncovered, for 30-40 more minutes until drumsticks move easily and chicken is no longer pink.

Apple Pecan Salad
Again, from Better Homes and Gardens. This is so good; it's delicious with a big baked macaroni and cheese. I've simplified the original recipe somewhat.

3 TBS packed brown sugar
about 1/3 cup chopped pecans
3 apples (gala or red delicious work well) cored and sliced into wedges
1 TBS butter, melted
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 TBS honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
about 6 cups torn romaine or other salad greens

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place apples on sheet and brush with butter, sprinkle with sugar and nuts. Bake about 10 minutes or until just tender. You have to watch the nuts, if they are chopped really small, they will burn quickly.

In a jar, combine oil, cider, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. I also add some sugar to the dressing; I think it's an improvement. A couple of spoonfuls is sufficient. Cover and shake well.

Arrange greens on a platter and top with apple slices. Scrape the melted bits of sugar and nuts onto the salad. Serve with dressing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ranting and Pondering

Hey there,

The past few weeks have been extremely busy for my family. We pulled off a beautiful and meaningful wedding for my dear sister on October 25. Last week was meant to be spent catching up, but nothing went as planned. I had appointments and interruptions that resulted in me having a meltdown on Saturday. The house was a disheveled heap of laundry, bags still sitting half unpacked from the wedding, dirty dishes that I had been trying to get to all week, and clutter that I had no place for in the disheveled heap. When I recovered from the meltdown, I concluded that I just have to manage my time better. You know, you think you're managing things just fine and you get comfortable and start to relax a little and then, suddenly, it all unravels and you have to start all over again. To top off the weekend, Sunday night my husband mentioned the five Bible verses that we needed to have memorized for today, which I completely forgot. I never even thought about it after the night it was assigned three or so weeks ago. So I've been cramming, which is all too reminiscent of high school.

The past couple days I've been deep in thought about how I can do a better job as a homemaker, teacher to my children, and mother. With all this pondering, thankfully, I am reminded that my purpose is not to have the cleanest house or the best cooking skills as a homemaker, it is to love and train my children for the Glory of God. Why do I not put more thought into that? I thank the Lord that He uses these frustrating times to teach me, because I am definitely still in need of His teaching.

After a good Monday spent doing school, laundry, and little cleaning, things are looking up. We were out super early yesterday morning to vote and have breakfast out before going grocery shopping. As I sat at the restaurant writing my grocery list with a crayon, I thought about how much I really love motherhood. Nothing is perfect, but if I keep my eye on what the real purpose is, perfection doesn't seem so important anymore.

Thanks for reading.