Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Give away!

Have you all heard of the Shoeologist? She blogs about, raves about, and loves all things shoes. She's fun and witty and she's giving away free wellies! Go here to her website to enter!

Monday, November 29, 2010


So I've never sent out holiday cards but this year I was thinking why not? AND I never did a baby announcement for little Liam so it seems the perfect opportunity to show him off.
As I was looking in to it I ran across this sweet little deal from Shutterfly.
You can get 50 free holiday cards! So that's just what I'm gonna do, what are you waiting for?

Now I just have the impossible decision of choosing one!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Relish the Goodness

Here's the cranberry recipe I made up and am making as we speak. I've been trying a new one every year...so far this one seems like a keeper but you never know till it's on that bird.

Cranberry with a Kick

Serves 8

· 1 bag (12 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries

· 3/4 cup sugar

· ½ cup brown sugar

· 2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

· 1 tbsp red-wine vinegar

· 1 tbsp cider vinegar

· 1/2-1 jalapeno, minced

· orange zest (1/2 orange)

· ¼ cup dried cranberries


1. In a large saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, ginger, vinegar, jalapeno, and 2 tablespoons water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until most of the cranberries have popped, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in zest and dried cranberries.

2. Remove relish from heat. Let cool to room temperature, and serve (or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Salmonella is not a good side dish.

This is the stuffing I'm making...that ironically will not be stuffed anywhere (i'm doing a half recipe because my mom is making a half batch of hers).
  • 1 1 1/2-pound loaf sliced sourdough bread with crust, small dice (I will use a few different types of bread i.e. french, sourdough, challah, whatever looks good)
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 1/2 pounds hot Italian sausages (I'm only using Costco's mild italian sausage. It's the best)
  • 6 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, divided
  • 3 pounds Pippin or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cubed
  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled, cubed
  • 3/4 cup packed fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth (I will add more or less stock depending on how dry my bread is. You want it to be pretty soggy before baking because the bread will just suck up all that moisture like a sponge).


Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake bread cubes on 2 large rimmed baking sheets until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes. (or you can cut them and leave them to dry out over night)

Sauté sausages in very large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking into pieces with spoon, about 15 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to large bowl; add bread.

Add onions and celery to same skillet and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes; transfer to bowl with bread. Melt 1/4 cup butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes; mix apples into stuffing. Melt 1/4 cup butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add parsnips and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes; mix into stuffing. Melt 1/4 cup butter in same skillet. Add sage and sauté until dark green, about 2 minutes. Mix sage and butter into stuffing. Season with salt and pepper.

Butter 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Stuff turkey. (You all know I'm not stuffing my turkey. Sacrilege.) Transfer remaining stuffing to prepared dish; drizzle with 1/2 cup chicken broth. Cover with foil. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake stuffing covered until heated through, 45-60 min. Uncover and bake until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

Turkey Revisions and or Additions

Okay so I have a few more things to say regarding this turkey.
I've had some questions since this post and remembered somethings I forgot to mention for first time briners.

Why should I brine? How does it work? What does it do? (these types of questions)
Other than, "because I said so..."

The salt solution passes through the permeable meat cells during the soaking process using the method of osmosis. Osmosis is the diffusion of water through a semi-permeable membrane - in this case the meat cells. Through diffusion, the salt and water within the meat cells balance with the salt and water in the surrounding brine which results in a higher concentration of salt and water in the meat. Food chemists disagree about the mechanics of this diffusion and how salt travels across membranes, but at the end of the day, the diffusion results in more water and flavor within the cells of the meat. The high concentration of salt also denatures protein strands. In their normal state, the strands are tightly wound; denatured strands unwind and tangle. During cooking, this unusual structure traps water molecules and holds onto them. The end result of this osmosis is less moisture is lost during cooking.

Are you asleep yet?

In layman's terms: Salt retains water+salt invades meat = moist, flavorful turkey

A few more key points:

1. Don't stuff your turkey. I know this is a great debate and a possible deal breaker for some of you but hear me out. Other than it being a cesspool of germs, a messy pain, and a recipe for soggy stuffing, it won't work so well with this process. You miss out on the aromatics completely, it affects the cooking process, and the saltiness could affect your stuffing. Bake it in a pan. If you want it more moist (soggy like we're used to ;) add more chicken stock.

2. You must have a probe thermometer. A digital reader with a little cord attaching to a probe that can be left in during cooking. Not only is this essential to your turkey success, it's a good investment for your roasting future. You can put it in and leave it in so you're not leaving a gaping whole for juices to spill out of (don't take it out until turkey is done resting!). Also many have alarms so you don't have to wait around baby sitting your birdie.

3. When you insert the probe make sure it's in the thickest part of the breast. Not in the dark meat. Not in the cavity. If it has a pop up thermometer ignore it but don't remove it. It would just be another gaping hole for juices to escape. And I know the temperature seems low but it will keep cooking after you remove it! Trust me. That was based on a 20 lb bird so if yours is smaller, sure cook it a few more degrees. But remember you can always put it back in if it doesn't reach 165 but you can't undo what you've already done. With all of that said, don't stress! I over cooked my bird last year and it was still the juiciest we've ever had.

4. I was going to write a whole gravy post but then I happened on the pioneer woman's site and she's got a great pictured "how to" on gravy with brined turkey that shows exactly what I would've done any how, giblets and all. So hop on over there. I may just finish mine with a little brandy and cream but otherwise she's spot on.

5. Email or text me with your questions...even on thanksgiving morning and I'll walk you through it. And please, let me know how it turns out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Conversations with a Two Year Old

Me: Ok Etta. Do you want to watch your reading video?
Etta: No, I wanna have some dinner babe.
Me: :) Ok...what do you want to eat for dinner?
Etta: No want to dinner...Sarah!
Me: Well then, I guess I won't make you dinner.
Etta: I so sorry, I'm happy now. Want a girl cheese please baby?

...loving the mood swings and the pet names.

Let's Talk Turkey

I'm just going to come out and say with no false modesty that I make the most amazing turkey on the face of the earth. I can say this without being a pompous jerk because I do not take full credit for my success. I will now explain.

Have you been plagued personally or in your family by dry turkey that needs an unholy smattering of gravy to stomach? Enter Alton Brown. Sweet, sweet Alton...how I love thee. Last year I used Alton Brown's cooking method for roasting a turkey and it was absolutely phenomenal.

However, I did used my own concocted twist on his brine and aromatics.
This year I'm going to do it again but I'm going to try a different brine and gravy method. So, let me tell you how to make the most wonderful turkey in the history of the world.

You begin by getting one of these babies who so graciously give their lives for our stomachs.

Fresh would certainly be preferable but frozen is great too. Frozen does however come with a warning. Do not by any frozen turkey that's been injected with a salt solution or anything of the like. This would be a very bad combo with a brine. Also note that a frozen turkey will take 2-4 days to thaw. Now for the preparation of said turkey lurkey.

Open 'er up and take out the unmentionables. Now if you are like my mother you will save these for a little morsel to snack on later. You can also use it to make a fine gravy and that's just what I'm gonna do so take those nasty things and set them aside...we'll deal with them later. Then give the old bird, ha...a really good rinse inside and out.

Now you're ready for the brine. Alton uses this one...

Brine: (for a 14-16lb turkey)

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water
Which I used last year with a few changes (which I don't remember of coarse, I kinda fly by the seat of me pants) and it was great. This year I have decided to go with this:

Brine: (for a 20lb turkey)
3 cups Apple Juice
12 cups chicken stock (no or low sodium if using broth!)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup Kosher salt (careful I'd only do 1 cup if using salted broth)
2 Cups brown sugar
3 tbsp peppercorns
5 whole Bay Leaves
Peel of three large oranges
1 gallon ice water

Now I tell you how large these are because if your turkey is significantly smaller I would take down your salt ratio a bit or scale down the whole recipe.
Okay so when I do my turkey I brine it in a canning pot like this:

It fit my turkey beautifully and already had it. I'm sure it would fit in my fridge but it takes too much room. So since I live in Utah I just give it a once over in saran wrap and put it on my porch...it's usually cold enough.
Another option of coarse are brining bags or just XL plastic bags. If you go this route it may fit nicely in one of your refrigerator drawers and save on space.

To make the brine (most methods are simple and practically the same):
Pour all the ingredients except ice water in a pot and heat until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and let cool. This can be made ahead of time and stored. 12-24 hours before it's time to cook the bird combine the brine, ice water, and turkey in your vessel breast down. Flip it half way in between to be sure it all gets covered.

When it's done brining rinse it in cold water like you have never for rinsed before...inside and out, every nook and cranny, for like 5 minutes. This helps it not be so super duper salty.

Now you are ready to roast. To prep the turkey you need to get it dry, dry, dry so your skin can get crisp, crisp, crisp. Place the turkey in a roasting pan with a rack.

Combine 1/2 an apple, 1/2 an onion, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with 4 sprigs rosemary and 6 sage leaves. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 152 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Okay, so be prepared for your grandma, mother, and everyone you know to say that your turkey wont be done after only two hours. Pay no attention to the nay sayers behind the curtain! It's all about the temp not the time. Now you may think 152, that doesn't sound hot enough...but there is a little something called carry over cooking which means it keeps cooking even once it's out of the oven. The bigger the bird the more the carry over so...You just want to be sure it comes up to about 165 degrees F before cutting.

Did I miss anything? Did I mention this is going to be the best turkey you've ever made, eaten, or heard of? I implore you to try it.

Please comment with any questions or what you do. And please check back for my gravy, sides, and dessert.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Past Pictures not Posted

So I've been working on organizing our pics on the sweet new desktop we got and I came across a bunch that some how escaped me. So here they are...
Some how I was convinced to take Etta to McDonald's playhouse ;) it was actually really fun but still a little too big for her. I also tried an egg mcmuffin for the first time and it was in no way all it was cracked up to be. Apparently it's all about the sausage egg mcmuffin which I didn't know but I don't think I need to try it to know it's not for me.

We went with good friends Beth and Archer...

This was a freak really hot day in April so we busted out the pool with friends.

At david and lindsey's for a springtime party...

More friends from our hot day in early spring...
Jimmy who we miss...

Kennedy who hasn't left us yet but really wasn't lovin the pool yet either.

Addysin who is also very missed by Etta...

I don't know who she was throwing this at but is it terrible that instead of stopping her I was taking what I thought to be a great pic? :) Whoops.

Wheeler Farms on a very blustery day...
Etta looovvess animals so this is a great place for her...and it's free!

She was both excited and terrified for this picture.

Lovin the saddle.

This girl kills me...

Mace face!

Funny faces!

Etta was dying to take a pony ride! It was only a few bucks and we hadn't paid to get in the farms so I figured why not. She would not let go of me and hold on to that horse. She was looking at me with total nervous elation the whole time.

Cutie cousin Mason and Aunt Jacqueline.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

California Part 3

Next we went down to LA for Rob's recruiting and to visit Sara and Shawn. They are always such a blast and so sweet. They arranged a babysitter for us and took us to The Greek for an Imogen Heap concert which was surprisingly pretty awesome. I like her music and everything but she's a hilarious person who puts on a great concert. It was so thoughtful and much needed. Thanks guys!

We were also in LA for birdie's actual birthday so we had to do a little celebrating. Shawn in true fashion couldn't just sing happy birthday so we got all sorts of percussions and such to give a memorable birthday singing to. Singing, cupcake, that was probably enough for her but we had to go to.....

Not sure how this picture happened considering we gave our camera to the professional photographer there to take it but whatever, you get the idea.

I couldn't get her off this tiny doorknob although she was eternally bothered it didn't open.
"It's stuck mommy, open it!"
So first of all this was probably the most busy I've ever seen Disneyland in my life and it was scorching hot...not the best day ever. Two year olds don't really understand waiting in line for 30-60min. However, we still had tons of fun thanks to daddy. He held, fed, and watch over liam while Etta and I road all the rides. He was one expensive babysitter but I think it was worth it. ;)

First we went on Alice in Wonderland which is completely psycho and terrified Elizabeth. It was hard to get her to go on another ride after that. We decided to drag her kicking and screaming on to small world knowing she'd love it. People probably thought we were nuts. And as we pulled in to the dark tunnel she lost it...but as soon as we came around the corner and she saw all the singing people she was transported to another world and she was in heaven!

Then we went over to the princess land they have now. A special place where they can meet all the princess and have a little moment with them. So we waited...and no I didn't pose her this way.

Then she got to meet Jasmine! Which was hilarious because she's never even seen Aladdin and she sooo excited.

Then we saw Ariel who she couldn't focus on becuase..."look mommy, Belle!!!"

She was really shy with Belle but the look on her face says it all.

We were bummed that there were only those three because she loves Cinderella but just after we finished they had a show with Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty and they came out for greeting afterward. This truly blew her mind...she looovvess Cinderella and still talks about this moment.

She's was pretty wiped but we still had more rides to do!

So we went on the merry-go-round...shorter lines, and one of her favorite things.

And dumbo...at least we know I had fun right? Hahaha...classic.

The boys with the girls. These two make for pretty good seats to see over all the crowds!

We hit up a few more rides, toon town, the train, and the big parade before...

She was done, so we got a funnel cake and parked it outside the gates to chat with our great friends we don't see nearly enough.
Les Homlesses

We couldn't make it home without stopping in Vegas to see some more of our favorite people...the rowl-outs. We met Giuseppe for a little pancake house and tried to ready to kids for one last drive...

All in all we had so much fun. It was our second trip with both kids and we definitely have some kinks to work out. It's getting more and more difficult to just show up on someones doorstep and crash...for us and them. ;) But I'm glad we went and you better believe we'll do it again because no matter how crazy it is that's just what you do.
P.S.-I've loaded smaller pictures due to the sheer volume but you can always click on them to see them bigger.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


My friend tagged me for this and I thought why not?

1. How do you sleep?
Side, belly, back it's all good but my legs always have to be making a four shape...ya know?
2. Do you exercise?
I go through phases but always feel sooo much better when I do. I love doing ab work outs!
3. What are your favorite foods?
Ethnic foods, I love trying new things.
4. Do you cry easily?
Pre babies no...post babies oh yeah.
5. How often do you cry and when was the last time?
Really cry? Actually not that often but I probably tear up at least once a day now.
6. Describe your personality.
Relaxed, happy, detailed. Que, sera, sera.
7. Were you named after anyone?
Not that I know of...the wife of Abraham?
8. Do you think you are strong?
I've always been freakishly strong for my size. In high school I could bench more than my body weight. Believe it.
9. What is the first thing you notice about somebody?
Just their demeanor in general...their vibe.
10. Do you smoke?
11. What are you wearing right now?
A blouse from my favorite Sundance, a thrift store tweed vest, skinny jeans, and otk boots.
12. Mountain hideaway or Beach House?
Mountains, mountains, mountains. Snowball fights, fireplace, hot tub, snuggling...come on.
13. Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
As my fathers daughter I may have to go stones on this, but barely.
14. Summer or Winter?
15. Would you live with someone without marrying them?
No, people say it's better to know all those things before deciding but I think all the things that you find out afterward good or bad help you grow as a person and couple. You can't just ditch out when you find something out you may not like.
16. Share two truths and one lie about yourself.
I just stuffed candy wrappers in my couch, I still have baby teeth, I sang in Carnegie Hall
17. What would your dream house be like?
I love wide open spaces, tons of wood, light and airy, cozy, character, modern/vintage mix. And my huge white kitchen. Think barn chic. ;)
18. Have you ever met or kissed a famous person?
haha, yes.
19. Sunrise or Sunset?
Sunrise. The crisp air, the quiet and stillness of the city, it just always feels so good to be up and at 'em so early. (ok, not right away.)
20. What did you dream about last night?
I usually can't remember past like 8am but I have vivid messed up dreams.
21. What was the last movie that really moved/thrilled/scared you and why?
The first 5 minutes of UP. I bawled like a baby and grinned like an idiot. See what I mean about the babies messing with your hormones.
Ever kiss a random person and then walk away?
Not exactly.
23. Have you ever had surgery?
...not one that counts.
24. How do you feel about tanning booths?
Ooo, great in theory, terrible in actuality. Warm, relaxing, hot tan body...cancer, nasty leathery skin...yeah, not so good.
25. Favorite TV show?
I love no drama reality/makeover/competitions. Aaaaannndd Vampire Diaries. ;)

I tag aubrey shaner, lauren evans, and rachel bell.

Monday, November 1, 2010

California Part 2

Next on our trip we took a little drive north for some of this...

But we'll come back to that. Here's Etta post vomit and yes, she's biting her toe nails. Strange child...

My brother Andrew and his family live in San Jose and came down for the weekend. So we had a little bonfire/beach fun.
Etta had such a blast with all of her cousins. It's so fun to see them whenever we can since he is my furthest sibling.

Andrew and Alyse

Julia, Andrew, and Me

Not a great pic but the only family one we got...climbing around the rocks searching in the pools.

All the kids having fun at Dennis the Menice park despite the cold...

I love coming to Carmel. It's truly one of my favorite places, the beach, the shops, the aquarium, cannery row...it brings back so many memories every time.

Etta loving the swings as always...this park is really awesome. I can still remember going here as a little girl...and my nieces and nephews are just adorable.

Went to Dametra Cafe a new favorite right down the street from the beach house in Carmel by the Sea. It was tiny, delicous, and charming. The owners come out and sing and dance. Even a customer got up and beautifully sang I left my heart in San Fransisco. It was so fun.

Now the reason for this not so on the way detour from southern cal is that every morning we'd wake up at the beach house and get all bundled...

Walk 30 seconds over to my grandparents...

Past the house...mmmmm, love it here.

Down the back driveway...

Through the golden gates...

To paradise...

Needless to say Rob was in heaven...it's just breathtaking. And it was awesome to be right there because you couldn't stay or park anywhere. People stayed hours away, parked 30-60 minutes away then took in shuttles. Yikes!

Now I've been to pebble many a day on walks with my grandpa, but seeing it in full tournament swing was pretty awesome.

The mowers out in the morning...it was very cool. There was just a buzz about the whole place. The grounds were in amazing condition. It wasn't hard to spot the celebs...especially Tiger. He had more cameras and security following him than I could even imagine...I don't know how he can focus. Then he had people shouting all sorts of things good and bad in his direction. It was crazy but very cool to see him play up close.

A lot of what I saw was the practice rounds which was actually really neat. You'd watch them hit a shot that maybe wasn't so great while they get a feel for the course. So they take it again and nail it. Just to cement the stroke they'd take it a third time and with scary precision they'd stick it exactly where they'd hit the second shot. They were really amazing to watch.

I didn't go every day so Etta and I would do a lot of running around town...

While Rob did a lot of this...

We also had some unseasonally nice beach days for Carmel in June and we were loving it.

Our good friends Mike and Beth joined us for a second time in Carmel and although mike did get to go to pebble, he also did a lot of this...

Thanks! They are always a blast to have around and troopers in any situation. Cause heaven knows I couldn't carry both kids and we all know where Rob was...

It was so fun. I think I have more pics too from the aquarium and such (one of the best in the country...so fun!) I'll have to post later.
Then coming up we drove back down to LA for rob's volleyball stuff aaaannnnddd...Disneyland!