Saturday, November 29, 2008

December Countdown

Last year we started what I think will become a fun tradition in our house. We wrote down 31 fun, low cost things to do as a family on little scraps of wrapping paper and put them into a jar. Every morning, we picked something from the jar and our mission was to do that thing by the end of the day. We had so much fun! We played games, had family movie night, checked out the lights in our neighborhood, and saw lots of Christmas trees.

This year, we decided to put those scraps of paper into our advent calendar, and since Chanukah starts 3 days before Christmas, we will have a few Chanukah focused projects for a few days.

Here's our list for 2008 in no particular order:

1. Make cookies and deliver them to the local fire station.
2. See Santa at the mall.
3. Make popcorn and watch a holiday movie together.
4. See the lights on Peacock Lane.
5. Make real hot chocolate, complete with homemade marshmallows.
6. Write letters to Santa.
7. Print out Holiday coloring pages and color them together.
8. Buy and decorate the Christmas tree
9. Read the true story of Christmas.
10. Make gifts for the grandparents.
11.Open one present early.
12. See the Tigard Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
13. Play a game of dreidel.
14. Have a homemade pizza night.
15. Make an ornament for our tree.
16. Bake cookies for our family.
17. Go to the library to check out books about Chanukah and Christmas.
18. Go downtown to see the tree and lights in Pioneer Square.
19. Make a present or stocking stuffer for Daddy.
20. Read a Chanukah book.
21. Light a fire and roast some marshmallows.
22. Take a walk around the neighborhood to see the lights.
23. Read the Night Before Christmas.
24. Make holiday decorations for the house.
25. Fill up a box of toys to give to charity, and take the girls with us when we donate.

What special traditions have you started with your family?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

It's been a while since my last update, mainly because I took care of three sick babies for 4 days and then (naturally), once they were all better, I came down with the ickies. Sadly, mama's cushie job doesn't come with the best PTO benefits. Oh well. Even though I had no voice, I knew I had to persevere for the sake of Mr Turkey and his friends, Dressing, Potatoes, and Cranberry Sauce.

We hosted dinner for Nana, Uncle Josh, and Roberta this year, which was small but a nice mix. I brined the turkey in kosher salt, brown sugar, oranges, lemons, and lots of fresh herbs and then slow roasted it for a few hours until the skin was nice and crispy brown. YUM. I also made roasted garlic mashed potatoes, dressing with apples and sausage, oatmeal rolls, and pumpkin gooey butter cake. Our guests brought the vegetation, save for the salad of arugula, fennel, prosciutto, and pomegranate seeds that I was inspired to make. Also YUM.

Ava and I watched Martha on Monday (hey, I was completely out of commission and a day on the couch in front of the tube was all I could handle), and we were inspired to make some cute turkey place cards out of cardstock and apples. I thought they looked cute on the table, and can't wait to turn their little bodies into a cranberry apple pie, although Ava is suddenly for turkey (well, apparently, apple) rights and can't stand the thought of me chopping her beloved apple turkey up.

I hope that you were all able to enjoy too much food with friends you love. And I hope that you have as much to be thankful for as I do.

And now for the recipes:
Oat Pan Rolls
via somewhere on the web...

1/3c warm water
1 pkg(1/4oz) or scant Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp white sugar
2c water
1c quick-cooking oats
2 Tbsp butter
1/3c brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 3/4-5 1/4c flour

Dissolve yeast and white sugar in warm water. Allow yeast to activate (bubble). In a small saucepan, bring 2c water to a boil. Add oats and butter, and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat and continue to stir till butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm. Add oat mixture to a large bowl, and add yeast mixture, brown sugar, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Stir till smooth. Add enough remaining flour to create a soft dough. Turn out onto a well-floured surfae and knead till smooth and elastic (about 4-6 minutes).

Place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel or with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. Allow to rise till doubled, about 45minutes-1hr. Punch dough down. Allow to rest 10 minutes or so. Shape into 18 balls.

Place in 2 greased 9" baking pans (I used pie plates). Cover and let rise till doubled, about 30-40 minutes.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or till tops are golden brown. Brush tops with butter.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen rolls.
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
Paula Deen


1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
2 heads garlic
olive oil
5 pounds Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
2 sticks butter
cream cheese
Lawry's seasoned salt
Preheat oven to 425. Cut tops off of garlic heads. Brush cut edges with olive oil, put back together, wrap loosely in foil. Place directly on oven rack, roast for 1 hour. Remove, allow to cool.
Meanwhule, peel and chop potatoes. Place in a large pot, cover with cold water. Bring to boil over high heat, boil until potatoes are fork tender. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Squeeze garlic cloved into pot with potatoes. Add 1 1/2 sticks butter and 1 block of cream cheese, mash well. Add cream as necessary to obtain desired texture. Season to taste with seasoned salt. Pour into casserole dish. Top with pats of butter. Bake until butter has melted and top is lightly browned.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The napping house

Last night, Ava had a really rough time sleeping. She ended up in our bed around 2 am, but tossed and turned (leaving me to toss and turn) until 5, when we kicked her out and into her own bed. She was up at 6:30, and luckily took a two hour nap this morning. I got to take advantage of her nap (and Emily's nap) and got my weekly deep cleaning and baking done (hey - it's Monday!). I remember my mother complaining about the laundry piles while I was growing up, but I've got a new complaint - the dishwasher. It was run 3 (!!!) times yesterday, and twice already today. Of course, I do a lot of baking and cooking, so the dishes add up. But I'm currently researching the cost of one of those industrial dishwashers for our next house...a girl can dream! Don't get me wrong, the laundry pile is insane (I like to call is MT. Washmore), but it's got nothing on the dishes.

I've tried a few new recipes lately and thought I'd share the ones we liked best:

Honey Of An Oatmeal Bread

Follow the amounts in the parentheses to make a larger loaf.

1 cup water (1 1/3 cups)
1 T vegetable oil (1 1/2 T)
1/4 cup honey (1/3 cup)
1 tsp salt (1 tsp)
1/2 cup rolled oats (3/4 cup)
2 1/3 cups bread flour (3 1/3 cups)(sub up to 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup oat bran (optional)
1 tsp active dry yeast (1 1/2 tsp)

Place ingredients in bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Light Crust or Basic setting, and press Start.

This is a moist, yummy bread with a nice firm crust - perfect for sandwiches or toast.

Lower Fat Banana Bread
from Allrecipes

2/3 c white sugar
1/4 c margarine, softened (butter)
2 eggs
1 c mashed bananas
1/4 c water
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour (1 c whole wheat & 2/3 c all-purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray one 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, beat the white sugar and margarine or butter until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs, water and bananas with the sugar mixture until it is well blended. Combine the dry ingredients, add, and mix just until the mixture is moistened. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to blend all ingredients. Bake for about 60 minutes. Bread is done when the top is firm to the touch and a golden brown color. Time will vary according to loaf size and oven type. When bread is removed from oven, allow it to cool on its side for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack. This bread is also excellent if you add mini chocolate chips or small fruit pieces to the mix just before baking.

Ayelet's notes: I use applesauce instead of the butter and half of the sugar. Very yummy with chocolate chips stirred in just before putting into the pan.

Iced Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies
Martha Stewart

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup chunky-style applesauce
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup golden raisins
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup


Make cookies: Preheat oven to 350. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined. Add egg and applesauce, mix until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix in raisins.
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden and just set, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack set over parchment paper; let cool completely.

Make icing: Whisk confectioners' sugar, syrup, and 3 tablespoons water until smooth. Drizzle over cookies, let set.

Ayelet's Notes: I used half the sugar called for in the cookies and thought they were pretty sweet. I also only made a half recipe of icing and had a lot leftover. These were soft, moist, and yummy!

On another note, it seems like people really like the list I posted last week...I will try to make it a weekly thing! I'm glad to have introduced some of you to Jamie, Deb, and the Manic Mommies. They make my life a happier place!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Things I am currently crushing on...

Besides my hunky husband...

These cakes. Can a girl get some fondant and shimmer powder, stat?

This salad. If you're invited to Thanksgiving, be prepared to eat it...or battle the daddy and I over it...

These ladies. Are they spying on me or something? Manic Mommies and Jamie Oliver - the only podcasts I have love for.

I've always said that the only thing to break up my marriage will be video games. Maybe Joel can get me this and a DS for Hannumas this year? Wait, maybe Jamie will break up my marriage...hmmm...

Four words: Salted. Caramel. Hot. Chocolate. Sorry pumpkin spice latte, but I've been a bad, bad girl. Deb's pictures of Paris aren't too shabby, either.

I love Etsy. It makes me wish I had more time to be crafty - maybe I could make some money! I want this bowl. A lot.

We certainly have enough leaves to make one of these cute monogramed wreaths! I think that would be such a fun naptime project for Ava and I!

And E.P.S Fairytale...

Once upon a time, there was a momma, and this momma had WAY too many dishes to do! She ran that dishwasher twice a day, rain or shine. She had dishpan hands and bad cuticles. But one day the green fairy came to visit and she waved her magic blue spoonula.

*POOF* all of the dishes hopped into the dishwasher by themselves. The dishwasher turned on all by itself too! Amazing! The little green fairy pointed her spoonula at the momma and *POOF* her cuticles were nice and silky like they were when her tummy didn't have a massive expanse of stretch marks. Alas, the green fairy was distracted by a train, or the momma would have a new tummy.

The daddy came home and found the momma with her feet up on the coffee table, wine glass in hand, and said "Honey, since you have some free time, do you think you could iron my pants?"

The momma leads a rough life. Maybe the blue fairy will stop by later and make the piles of pants disappear!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Please VOTE!

Ava's preschool had an election this morning. The final tally: Obama 21 McCain: 18.

Of course, I like to look at how the sports world will predict things...last night the Washington Redskins hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers for Monday Night Football. In all 17 times that the Redskins have played before a presidential election, if they won, the incumbent party won the election, and it they lost, the challenging party won. Well, the Steelers put a huge beating on the 'Skins last night...23-6. Yep, I'm going to challenge Kenny Mayne for his out buddy!

Here's hoping that the football gods and PS at St Anthony School are both psychic.

If you haven't already done so, get out there and VOTE!