thankful

… for this girl … 

… for my husband & father of my daughter (hand pictured here, ha) …

… for the food on our table every day …

… for our parents …

… for my sister …

… for my brother … (and my other “sister”)

… for friends & neighbors …

… and gravy boats … (or, friends who help with the dishes)

… for nature …

… and for comforting hugs.

We all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend at home in Sylvania.

Evie had an especially great time.

She was surrounded by family & friends who love her, toys, plus two dogs!

At this point in her life, I think this would be her definition of heaven.

(That doesn’t sound too bad to me either.) 

This is only a look she makes when she’s deep in conversation with her Godfather.

(Nov 22, 2012)

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chicken corn chowder

Sorry for that horrible picture – it’s all I had! I needed to post this recipe, though. It’s my favorite fall soup & is the perfect comfort food for brisk days.

The main recipe is from my mom – the only change we’ve made is to add chicken. That was Michael’s suggestion, and it’s a nice way to make the soup even more of a meal.

Now, a warning … when you’re making this soup, it seriously feels like you’re pouring everything that’s unhealthy on this planet Earth into a stock pot & heating it up. It feels that way because … that’s what you’re doing.

This is really awesome served in a bread bowl, or with a chunk of warm baguette. With most soups, this is even better reheated in the days after you make it … and it’s also good to freeze.

Enjoy!

Chicken Corn Chowder

3/4 lb bacon
3 cans creamed corn (14.5 to 17 oz each)
3/4 lb chopped, cooked chicken (you can cook the chicken however you’d like … crockpot, grill, bake…)
1 cup chopped onion [we omit this because onion is gross]
1 quart half & half
2 cups milk (use at least 1% milkfat)
1 tsp salt (optional) [we leave this out … it’s plenty salty without it]
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Thaw the bacon about halfway & then chop into small pieces, about 1/2 square. It’s easier to chop when it’s still a little frozen. Cook the back in a large dutch oven, then drain & reserve 2 tbsp of grease. Saute the onion in bacon grease until tender.  Stir in remaining ingredients, except cheese and bacon.  Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low and add bacon, chicken and cheese and simmer until cheese is thoroughly melted.

evelyn’s first food

Sweet potatoes! …bought from the farmer’s market & baked …

… mashed …

… and mixed with breastmilk.

… and here we go.

(some of the first photos aren’t in focus, but I wanted to show her first bite!)

She knew just what to do! Open up and the spoon goes in.

Seemingly a pro.

Then … wait.

…what is this?

… what now?

She mainly wanted to feel the food with her tongue, instead of swallow it.

(and BOOM, I fix my white balance.)

Again: open up, food goes in …

… still can’t figure out what happens next.

She was great about opening up her mouth, but she didn’t seem to like the texture of the spoon in her mouth.

(I “proved” it after the fact … a few days later, I spoon-fed her breastmilk. She still made horrible faces. So I really think it’s the spoon that took getting used to, not necessarily the sweet potatoes.)

She got a bit frustrated at this point and started to “sing” … her first warning signs of melting down.

She was still opening her mouth, though, so we kept giving potatoes to her.

hehe.

ooooo. That look again. It cuts deep to the soul.

Open up

food in,

horrible face,

… maybe swallow a little bit.

You get the idea.

She did gag a couple of times; the next time we fed her, I thinned it out with more milk. It seemed to help, as long as it was still thick enough to stick to her tongue.

(singing.)

– and the final “I’m done” signal – fingers in mouth. Once she stopped opening up her mouth, we stopped offering.

I think it was a success! She let us feed her for 10 minutes. It’s gone better since the first time. She has had both sweet potatoes and bananas – and seems to like the bananas just a bit better.

Here’s a video chronicling the whole 10 minutes:

grilled pizza

We decided to give grilled pizza a try. If you haven’t done it yet, you should! Two reasons: (1) it’s delicious and (2) it’s easy.

We bought Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough & formed it into a circle on a surface covered in flour and cornmeal. Michael coated the grill grates in olive oil and slid the crust on. (I promise it won’t fall through the grates. We were convinced it would.) It bubbled up & he took it off.

There were some pretty crazy bubbles!

Then we flipped it over

and added sauce and toppings.

… and more cheese. Always more cheese.

Then Michael put it back on the grill to melt the cheese and bring everything together.

Our friends do this with a pizza stone (specifically made to handle the high grill temps) and the grilling was more even. We bought a stone, too, and intend to try it out next time because our only complaint was that the grill hotspots caused uneven cooking.

But like I said … delicious and easy!

baked rigatoni with spinach & sausage

I had bought some Philadelphia Cooking Creme in savory garlic & googled for a recipe to make with it. I found this and then made pretty much the same thing, only adding ground Italian sausage to it. Critics (well, only one critic) agree that it was a good add.
I didn’t take a picture of the finished product, but it looked something like this:
and tasted something like this:
… that’s a little weird.
But you get what I mean.
Baked Rigatoni with Spinach & Sausage
1 10 oz Tub of Philadelphia Cooking Creme – Savory Garlic
10 ounce(s) of Frozen Chopped Spinach, any excess water squeezed out (I used 12 oz)
1/2 pound(s) of Rigatoni (uncooked) (I used about 12 oz)
1 pinch of Fresh Grated Nutmeg (very small pinch)
1/2 cup(s) of Fresh Grated Fontina Cheese – yum
1/4 cup(s) of Fresh Grated Parmiggiano Reggiano Cheese
1 lb ground italian sausage, cooked
1 pinch of Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Fill a large pot with water and sprinkle in a good amount of salt and bring it to a boil.
  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package instructions.
  • Meanwhile to make the sauce, simply add the Philadelphia Cooking Creme to a large non stick sauté pan that’s been preheating over medium heat, and add in about ½ cup of the starchy cooking water (I used some milk because I accidentally threw out the boiling water!). Whisk to combine and just cook it for about 1 minute or until the sauce is melted and it has a nice thick constancy.
  • Add the spinach to the sauce and season with a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Cook together for about 1 minute and turn off the heat.
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce, along with the ground italian sausage. Mix everything to combine and pour into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the top evenly with both cheeses and pop under the broiler for just a couple minutes or until the cheese has melted and everything is golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

blueberry cobbler

{failing to get a good picture … I struggle with the lighting in our kitchen}

We had leftover blueberries & sugar cookie dough from the fruit pizza, so I googled for a cobbler recipe to use both. I found 1 recipe that called for sugar cookie dough, but didn’t call for apple pie filling (which we didn’t have) … this recipe is based off of that! I only had 2 cups of berries (instead of 4), so I scaled everything down. It was delicious straight out of the oven, served with french vanilla ice cream.

Simple Blueberry Cobbler (adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp butter

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury sugar cookie dough

cooking spray

vanilla ice cream

Directions:

Spray bread loaf pan (or one close to that size) with cooking spray. Pour in the berries.  Sprinkle the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and cornstarch on top of berries and mix lightly with a spoon to coat the berries.  Dot the top of the berries with pieces of the butter.

With your hands, grab a golf ball-sized portion of dough and press into a pancake. Place dough on top of berries and repeat. There is no need to cover the berries completely so you don’t have to be neat about this.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

fruit pizza

I’ve seen these made at other BBQs and it is always so delicious. It’s really easy to put together & fun to decorate, too! Bonus: you feel like you’re eating something really healthy, but really … it’s just a frosted sugar cookie with bonus fruit on top 🙂

Fruit Pizza (adapted from this recipe)

  • 1 (18 ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough … the Pillsbury brand is 16.5 ounces. So, I bought 2 packages, used a whole one plus a little bit of the second. Now I have to make something else with the leftover dough. Bummer.
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • some vanilla extract
  • some powdered sugar
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • kiwi
  • … or banana, peaches, grapes … I thought starfruit would be festive, but I couldn’t find any at the grocery.
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest [I didn’t have an orange, so I left this out]
 Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Slice cookie dough and arrange on greased pizza pan, overlapping edges. Press dough flat into pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, soften cream cheese, then fold in the whipped topping. Here, I added some vanilla extract & some powdered sugar. I couldn’t tell you how much. A little bit? A sprinkling? Try a tiny bit and taste test. I got the idea for adding these 2 ingredients by reading the comments on the original recipe.
  3. Spread over cooled crust. You can chill for a while at this point, or continue by arranging the fruit.
  4. Begin with strawberries, sliced in half. Arrange in a circle around the outside edge. Continue with fruit of your choice, working towards the middle. If bananas are used, dip them in lemon juice so they don’t darken. Then make a sauce to spoon over fruit.
  5. In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, corn starch, orange juice, lemon juice and water. Cook and stir over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, and add grated orange rind (again, I omitted). Allow to cool, but not set up. Spoon over fruit. Chill for two hours (I chilled for 0 hours … I procrastinated and we were late to the party. It was fine), then cut into wedges and serve.

{I learned how to peel a kiwi for the first time by watching this}