Monday, November 30, 2009

Oh I'm a busy girl.

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity.

Down came the fall decorations.
I was sorry to see them go. I love autumn.

Out came the Christmas decorations.

Man, do I have a lot of Christmas decorations. So much in fact, that I've decided that I really need to simplify things a bit. Last year I gave a big box of decorations to the cafeteria where I work. They decorate every year. It's kinda neat to go down to grab a bowl of soup and see some of my stuff out on display.

This year I'm pairing down even more. I'm just taking out the things I really love and cherish. Things that make me smile when I look at them.

I've also been doing lots and lots of crafting.

I've been making some of these....


and using lots of these....


and getting my hands dirty with buckets of this....


I'll show you the finished project when it's done.

All I can say is, the word adorable will immediately spring unto your lips when you see the finished goods!

I've got glitter, glue and paint to scrape off my hands.

Happy Monday!

(I took the day off so I could try and finish things up, wish me luck!)

Friday, November 27, 2009


Ugh. Just ugh. That's how life's been for me the past few days.

It always seem like when it rains, it pours on me.

Illness, injury, and general all around crappiness tend to come in bunches with me. It all started with Evan's broken arm. Then a small trickle of illnesses, and problems started to creep their way into my life.

Take Tuesday for instance. I woke up with a really stiff shoulder. Probably just slept on it wrong I thought. It'll pass.

It didn't pass. By Tuesday night I was in agony. I was crying in bed. Crying. That's how much it hurt. I think I have a fairly high tolerance for pain, but this was bad. Hot poker in the shoulder, blaring, deep pain. I was up all night.

Wednesday, my day off, my day to prep for Thanksgiving found me at the doctors office where I was told that I pulled a tendon in the shoulder. I was given some pain meds, told to ice it every 20 mins, and take it easy. HA! "Take it easy". It the day before Thanksgiving? How in the world could I take it easy??

We trudged along with Thanksgiving. My husband pitching in double time and our friend Mitch coming over early to help peel and chop. It all got done. We enjoyed the day. I popped some more pain meds and conked out on the couch early. Even with my "broken wing", we managed.

Speaking of broken wings, Evan's cast came off last week.

Cast off 1

Gram and I took him to the Orthopedic doctors office and we were in and out in about a half hour.

Dawn was our cast remover.

Cast off 2

She did a great job.

Cast off 4

She even let Evan use the cast plier thingy himself, and yes I'm pretty sure that is the technical name for that tool - cast pliers thingy. Look it up.

Cast off 6

It was starting to get a little grungy. Ewwww.

Cast off 7

Evan was pretty happy to finally have it off his arm, but still can't take gym for another 3 weeks.

That bummed him out a little. Hopefully when we return in 3 weeks for a final checkup, he'll be able to participate in gym class again.

For now we're using lots of cream to help moisturize his dried up little arm.

Cast off 8

So last night, even in my drugged up stupor, I sat back and reflected on the past few months, and reminded myself, that we made it through it all. We made it through broken bone, and fevers, and coughs and snot, and hectic work days, and the endless homework projects, and long weekend projects. As I laid there, eyes half closed, I thought about how we always seem to come together. We trudge through. We help each other, we make it right. So of all the things I have to be thankful for, during this week of thankfulness, I'm truly blessed for the 3 men in my life who are always help me make it through, especially during the "ugh" moments of life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What to do with leftover dough scraps?

Since lots of you will be in the kitchen over the next few days, I thought I'd share this little tidbit of sweetness...

Ever since I was very little girl, when I my Gram and I were done making pies, we would gather up all the dough scraps and make something we would call Thratchkees.

Thratchkees?? Sounds Russian or Polish doesn’t it? Do you want to know the origin of this word?

I’ll tell you.... it’s made up.Yup, it's a word that technically doesn't exist. There is a French word which is very similar to this word and since my Gram couldn’t pronounce it, she started to call this Thratchkees and they have been Thartchkees ever since.

I actually went online and tried to find the word that sounds similar, but I had no luck. I even posted an inquiry on a message board. What I did learn from that was that lots of people make a version of this treat and they all call it something different.

Mini Cinnamons
Old Women’s Belly Buttons (ewww)
And my fave….
Nun’s Farts or Pet de Soeurs.

Call them whatever you like, these little suckers are good and very easy to make.

Gather up all your dough scraps. Roll them into a ball and then roll out the dough rather thinly.

Spread the dough with butter, and then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Put a good layer of the cinnamon and sugar on.

Tharohki collage

Roll the dough up jellyroll style, and then slice into about ½ inch pieces. Lay them flat side down and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the sugars start to caramelize.

Tharohki sliced

They'll puff up and look like little cinnamon rolls.

Eat them warm from the oven, when they taste the best.

I love that a tradition that started with my Gram is continuing on with my kids.

I hope someday they'll make them with their kids.
I wonder if they'll still call them Thratchkees??

Tharohki baked

If anyone knows the French word for these treats, please let me know, it's driving me crazy!

I'll be back in a few days with some goodies that I made for Turkey Day.

Hopefully I'll be able to grab a few pictures before the dessert scavengers descend upon them.

Enjoy your holiday. I hope it's spent with the people you love, eating the things you love and that there is lots of downtime involved! I know there will be at our house!

I will leave you with this touching quote by the comedian Kevin James.

"Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants".

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stuffing Balls Revisited

Are you one of those people who always goes for the crunchy part of the stuffing? (I know some of you call it dressing, but here in New England we call it stuffing). Do you scrape the bottom of the pan so you can savor every last bite of crispiness? Then do I have a recipe for you.

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner I thought it might be time to re-visit my mother-in-law famous stuffing ball recipe.

Stuffing balls

Yes, you read that right, I said stuffing balls.

I posted the recipe for these about a year ago, and I have to tell you that a year later, I still get a dozen hits a week for this recipe and it really starts to gain interest every November. So for those of you that didn't catch it the first time around, I thought I'd make up a pre-Thanksgiving batch.

You can see the original post

There is no "recipe" per say. I just use up any old bread I have laying around, rip it up into small pieces, and then give it a good soak with some chicken broth (I used about 2 cups for this batch, you may need more or less depending on how much bread you have). I cooked up a few stalks of celery and a medium size onion that were both chopped. I threw in a half a stick of butter and a little olive oil. This time around I had some mushrooms in the fridge that were on their way out so I chopped those up and threw them in the pan too. It's really a very versatile recipe. I suppose you could even throw in some ground sausage or pork too. Hmmm...I'll have to try that. I'm giving myself ideas, lol.

Stuffing balls CU

Once your veggies are softened, mix them in with the bread, add some seasoning (fresh parsley, fresh sage, Italian seasonings, salt, pepper and minced garlic). Then grab a big spoon and start to roll the mixture up into balls. Yes, it will be a bit messy, but once you sink your teeth into that crunchy, crispy crust, the mess is all worth it. You can dampen your hands while you're rolling to make it a bit easier.

Place them on a sheet pan lined with foil. Spray the pan with some non-stick spray. Bake them for approximately 45 minutes at 350, or until golden brown and crispy all over. I turn mine at the 30 minute mark so they get nice and brown on both sides.

Stuffing balls SCU

These are right up there on my husbands list of his ultimate favorite foods. You can serve these with some gravy if you'd like, but they are pretty much perfect just as they are in my book.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chocolate Filled Crescents - Super Quick Snack

Chocolate Crescents

I know this recipe is on at least 4 or 5 blogs I've read and there's a good reason for that.

No wait, there's a few good reasons for that.

1) They are super easy to make.

2) They are delicious.

3) You can have a warm snack ready for the kiddos from start to finish in under 10 minutes.

.......wait one more....

4) You can use up the Halloween candy that's still hanging around. (Yes we still have some left)

Chocolate Crescent CU

We used Hershey bars and Symphony bars.

Just place a piece at the end of the crescent, roll it up, and bake per directions.

Chocolate Crescent coll

The result: A warm buttery crescent with a delicious chocolate center.

Evan couldn't eat them fast enough.

Chocolate Cresecent Evan Coll

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Teeny Tiny Taters & a winner!

Ok first of all the winner of Pioneer Woman's Cookbook is......drumroll...

Lynda's Recipe Box!

Lynda, please email me your address so I can get that in the mail for you.

Much thanks to all of you who entered.
I think I just might have to have another giveaway for the holidays so check back folks.

Now on to the spuds.

Teeny Tiny Taters bowl

That's not a giant bowl of taters you see.

It's a small bowl of teeny tiny taters.

How adorable are they??

I found them at Trader Joe's this weekend. I squealed when I saw them. I really did, and one of the happy Trader Joe employees heard me squeal and she immediately knew what I was squealing at and she said "Aren't they adorable"? "Why yes they are".

So I bought a bag. $1.99, not too bad.

Teeny Tiny Taters CU

I think I'm going to roast them up with the balsamic pearl onions. They should work perfectly with them cause they are just about the same size. Look.

Teeny Tiny Taters with onion

It's the really little things that make me smile.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions

Balsamic onions ina row

I know you have all heard me say it before.

I am an onion freak.

I adore them. They are like vegetable candy to me.

I'll eat them just about anyway you prepare them, but roasted really is heaven to me. I saw this recipe a few times in different magazines. I based this one on Martha's. I don't need to tell ya what Martha now do I?

I found a huge container of these tri colored pearl onions at my local Sam's Club the other day and that was my cue to finally make this recipe.

Red, yellow and white. What a beautiful sight.

Balsamic onion raw in pan
Doused in salt and pepper, then drizzled with a good balsamic and some olive oil.

Roasted until tender and juicy.

This recipe just made it to my Thanksgiving menu.
You could roast these the night before and then just heat to serve. I think they would go great with turkey.

Balsamic onions cooked

Balsamic Roasted Pearl Onions
Printable recipe
1 ¼ pounds fresh pearl onions
(you can substitute two 10 ounce packages if you don’t have fresh)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Balsamic onions in bowl

Preheat the oven to 450.

If you are using fresh onions, soak them in warm water for 5 minutes to loosen the skins, then using a paring knife, cut off the ends and peel the onions.

Toss the onion with the vinegar and oil on a rimmed, foil lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until onions are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times and rotating the baking sheet half way through.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Pioneer Woman Cooks Giveaway!

See that cookbook? That cookbook is written by a blogger. A blogger like me. Well, ok maybe not just like me. She a blogger superstar, I'm just a itty bitty blogger from New England.

There's another blogger out there who just published a cookbook too.


Another blogger extraordinaire, Jaden Hair of Jaden's Steamy Kitchen.

Two bloggers with their very own cookbooks.

It boggles my wittle blogger brain.

The minute these two books were on available on Amazon I had them pre-ordered faster than you can say buttermilk biscuits, or in Jaden's case firecracker shrimp. A few weeks ago these beautiful books arrived on my doorstep and I spent the next few nights devouring each and every page of deliciousness.

I was also very proud to be a recipe tester for Jaden. My name was in that big, glossy cookbook. I could hardly believe it. Look here's proof:


My name. Little 'ole me from teeny tiny Rhode Island. It still makes me smile.

Cool huh? Anyhoo...lets backtrack to the day I received the cookbooks. My mother-in-law called that day. She called to tell my husband that she had just ordered PW's cookbook for me. Oh she was tickled, bless her heart. My husband had to then tell her that he was looking at a copy of PW's cookbook on the kitchen table. She wasn't so tickled then.

So what does my dear, sweet mommy-in-law do? She sends me the cookbook to give away on the blog. How cool is she? Let me answer: VERY!

So if you haven't picked up a copy yet and you'd like to win one then just leave me a comment.

Since it's almost Thanksgiving, I'll give you a Thanksgiviny question.

What's your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? Are you a stuffing person? A green bean casserole craver? A sweet potato pie lover? Leave me a comment and you're entered, and please people, I can't stress this enough, if you don't have a blog, please, please leave me an email address where I can reach you.

If you'd like to check out some of P-Dub's grub, get typing!

Contest ends Wednesday, November 18th, cause, well, I just looked at the calendar and picked a date and that was it. So giddy yup.

That was PW taking over. Sorry it won't happen again.

Pssstt... hey one last thing...this is my 500th post! I can't even fathom it? I wrote 500 posts, which probably contain over 400 recipes, which makes me think, I should get my butt in gear and get a recipe index going...yeah, I'm gonna do that, I'm so gonna get that in gear...someday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Inspiration from Elsewhere Living.

50 of my favorite things.

1. smell of my husband right outta the shower

2. fluffy blankets

3. weight of the dog on my feet

4. tea with honey

5. nutella on crusty bread

6. big trees

7. cupcakes

8. old mason jars

9. van morrisons voice

10. warm apple cider

11. big rings

12. big bowls

13. my pu-puns (slippers)

14. pomegranates

15. crafting

16. blue sweater - knit by Gram

17. simmering soup on the stove.

18. wood wick candles

19. torrone candy

20. caramelized onions

21. first snow

22. foot rubs

23. daisies

24. vintage cooking utensils

25. yard sales

26. old photos

27. my camera

28. mom's pizzelle's

29. hippie skirts

30. knit scarfs

31. dexter (I'm addicted)

32. rice flower & shea body spray

33. rob thomas

34. napkin rings (it's a sickness I tell ya)

35. birthday parties with homemade cake

36. baby powder

37. mittens

38. my in-laws

39. my husband's hands

40. runny eggs

41. figs

42. thunderstorms

43. fireflies

44. vintage silverware

45. scottish accents

46. coffee milk

47. etsy

48. smell of the ocean

49. mayberry re-runs

50. pie - what better way to end??

Hope this list inspires you to think of 50 of your faves.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Yvonne's Pork Pie

Pork Pies cut

The last pork pie I ate was one that my grandmother made. That was many, many years ago. She was a pie maker. She made rice pies (plain and chocolate) and ham and cheese pies at Easter, and she made pork pies quite often cause my Pa loved them.

I thought all my Grams recipes were lost until my cousin Julie called me yesterday and said "Guess what? I have good news, I have your Grandmother's recipes" Yipee! I was elated. I thought they were gone forever, thrown away when Grams dementia set in. Seems they were just in Julie's basement all along.

So now your probably thinking that Yvonne is my Gram and this is one of the lost recipes, well sorry, it's not. Would have been a great intro though. My Gram's name is Millie. Yvonne is my cousin Julie's grandmother. Sorry for the confusion. Gram's pork pie was good, but Yvonne's is the ultimate. Don't worry, Gram won't find out, she doesn't even know what the Internet is.

Pork Pies 4

Yvonne was the first pork pie maker in the family, she passed the skill down to my Aunt Claire, who taught my cousin Julie to make them.

It is a tradition in Julie's family that you eat pork pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Why you ask? Well I asked and Julie said "cause you're too busy making the meal". You just pop a pork pie in the oven and breakfast is served.

I also wanted to note that until now, this recipe wasn't written down. I transcribed it over the phone while Julie told me how to make it. I would hate to think that a delicious recipe like this would have been lost in time, cause I hope that someday I'll teach my kids (or daughter-in-laws) to make it and they'll pass it down to their kids. Maybe the tradition of eating pork pies on Thanksgiving morning will live on for years and years too. I'd like to hope so.

Pork Pies solo

This is a pretty easy recipe to make. I doubled it and made 5 mini pies and one 8 inch pie. I always eat my pork pie with ketchup, the kids and John eat it with hot sauce.

Yvonne's Pork Pie
Printable recipe
To make one 8 or 9 inch pie, or 5 mini pies you'll need:

2 prepared pie crusts (you can make your own or
use those convenient babies in the red box)
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered and boiled till tender
1 heaping teaspoon of Bell's Seasoning*
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
milk for the crust

Pork Pies CU

Peel and quarter the potatoes. Boil them in a large pot of salted water until tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook for 3 - 5 minutes or until tender. Add in the ground pork, breaking it up as it cooks. When the pork is just about done, add in the Bell Seasoning, sage, salt and pepper. I used a heaping teaspoon of the Bells Seasoning cause I really like to taste it in the meat mixture. You might want to start off with a level teaspoon and add more to taste. Drain off any liquid that has accumulated in the pan.

Pork Pies cut2

Place the meat mixture in a large bowl. Add the half the potatoes and use a fork to break the potatoes into small pieces. You don't want them to be mashed, you still want little hunks so you can taste the potato in each bite. I only added in half the potatoes at first because you want the meat to potato ratio to be about 2 to one. More meat than potatoes. So I added in half and then just kept adding in more until it looked right.

Place the mixture into a prepared pie crust, top with another crust and crimp to seal. Cut in a few vent holes and brush the top with milk.

Bake at 350 for 30 - 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

* Just in case there are those of you out there that don't know what Bells Seasoning is, I believe it's primarily a poultry/stuffing seasoning. You can buy it in the spice aisle of the grocery store. It comes in a little yellow box with a turkey on it. It'll be easy to spot right now since all the turkey fixin's are out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Paprika Potatoes & Escarole


A little while ago I was contacted by the nice people at Challenge Butter and asked to participate in their holiday recipe showdown. I was sent some very cool OXO products and some Spice Island spices and asked to make a side dish.

I few weeks later I received some of their mouth-watering butter. Mmm butter. I say that the way Homer Simpson says donuts. *drool*

The ole brain got churning (get it churning, butter......hello, is this thing on? Check, check. Ok nevermind). I’m really more of a dessert person I wanted to say, but hey, I can do a side dish.

I turned to my Mama, cause the woman can cook. I must confess, she can’t make a decent pie to save her life (and she admits it), but she can cook up some awesome Italian food. I wanted comfort food, nothing fancy, just delicious, wholesome, satisfying grub.

I was at her house a few weeks ago, and she was making a dish that she makes often for my Dad. Potatoes and Escarole. Diced potatoes, onions and garlic, cooked with leafy green escarole. The perfect side dish.

I added in a little spice, and turned it into Paprika Potatoes & Escarole. I used russets when I made this, and they really added a creamy texture to the dish, but any potato will do.

Paprika Potatoes with Escarole uto

Paprika Potatoes & Escarole
Printable recipe
1 large head escarole
4 – 6 medium potatoes (russets work well in this dish)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, chopped
4 tablespoon of Challenge butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
Grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Cut & cube the potatoes. You can peel them if you want to, I never do. Boil the potatoes until just fork tender (about 8 minutes). Don’t let them overcook.

While the potatoes cook, wash the escarole well and pat to dry. Roughly chop the escarole.

In a large pot, add the butter and the olive oil. Add the onion and let them cook for a few minutes until they are just tender. Add escarole and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. I put the lid back on the pan for a few minutes so the escarole would wilt quicker. Add the garlic the last few minutes.

While that cooks, add the paprika to the potatoes and stir gently. Add the potatoes to the onion & escarole mixture. Stir to combine. Sprinkle a little more olive oil over the top if you think it needs it. At this point I turn up the heat a bit so the potatoes get nice and brown. Turn them a few times while they brown so every little potato piece gets nice and crunchy. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Paprika Potatoes with Escarole CU

Oh I almost forget, the nice people at Challenge are running a sweepstakes for a chance to win A Taste of the West. A 7-day/6-night trip for 4 people to the incredible Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Montana's Paradise Vally, just North of Yellowstone National Park. So go ENTER to win!

Whadda ya waiting for....get to entering!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Nov 09 berries

Sunday was a particularly beautiful fall day here in New England.

The perfect day for us to venture out to one of our favorite walking trails. Every year I take the annual Christmas card photo of the boys in November.

This year we were pretty early, but if anyone knows New England, you know that you can never tell what November weather will bring, so we took advantage of the beautiful day and headed out to take a walk and snap some photos.

Some things looked fuzzy....

Nov 09 snowy looking branches

and dainty.....

Nov 09 tiny flowers

Some leaves even looked like they were lit from behind.

Nov 09 lighed leaves

Some plants came home with us....

I found some of these guys attached to my sweater.

Nov 09 thistle

Others just waved in the breeze...

Nov 09 reach

or scattered seeds from their milky pods.

Nov 09 milk pod

Some were bent but still beautiful.

Nov 09 berries 1

Even the rocks showed their mossy beauty.

Nov 09 mossy rocks

Nov 09 mossy rocks1

In my eyes, even more beautiful than the scenery, were visions of my three favorite men.

My oldest.

Nov 09 Jess

My baby.

Nov 09 Evan

John stealing a few minutes alone.

Nov 09 John

Photos for the Christmas card shoot.
Oh there were lots and lots of pictures.

Nov 09 Evan Tree

Nov 09 Evan pensive

Nov 09 Jess1

Nov 09 Jess smiling

Nov 09 Jess dreamy

Nov 09 creek jumpin

Nov 09 creek jumpin 1

I still look at them and did they grow up so fast?

How is it possible that it seems like just years ago I was singing Beatles songs to them, wrapped up in snuggly blankets, eating peanut butter and honey crackers, while we giggled softly to each other. How?

Nov 09 Jesse and Evan

Now they are on their way to being men.

Slow down time.

Mama needs you to just ease up a bit.

Nov 09 Jess and Evan 1

Nov 09 Jess Evan walking down path