Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Food - My New Favorite Pumpkin Pies!!

The 5th and final item
on my Thanksgiving cooking list
some yummy pumpkin pies!
 (that you can barely see in this 
picture of my little man,
raiding the Chex Mix 
- and all of the other pictures from the 
Chex Mix post)

I made 3 of them!
One or two of which are 
currently sitting in my outside freezer 
waiting to be eaten!!
For years I have used the recipe 
on the back of the 
Pet Milk can.

but this year,
a sweet friend brought over 
a pie pumpkin
we made some
pumpkin pies one afternoon,
just because...
(post-Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving)

I have always gotten rave reviews
from my Pet Milk pumpkin pies...
but these pies...
the ones that I was introduced to...
I am not sure if it was because it was
straight out of the oven
or what...
but they were INSANE!
And between
me and my 4 youngins
she and her 2 youngins
we ate an entire pie!
Doesn't really sound that impressive
when I put it that way...
8 of us ate an entire pie...
it seemed way more impressive the day it happened.

I am not sure where this originate either,
but it was from a website...
so if I find it,
I will happily give credit,
but for now,
I will name it after
she who introduced me to it!
Sherry's Pumpkin Pie

1 9" deep dish pie crust
1 1/2 c pumpkin (or 1/2 cooked pie pumpkin)
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
(or ~2 tsp pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 c corn syrup
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine flour and brown sugar.
Add brown sugar mixture & heavy cream to prepared pumpkin.
Mix in salt & spices.
Beat in corn syrup with a mixer.
Add eggs and vanilla - mix some more.
Pour filling into unbaked pie shell.
Bake for 50-60 minutes.
*Check after 30 minutes,
it crust is getting brown, loosely top with foil,
then remove for final 10 minutes of cooking
*Pie is done, when inserted knife comes out clean
if only the center jiggles when you lightly shake the pie.
(yep, that's a real thing!)

After pie has cooled slightly,
resist the urge to sit down 
with the entire pie
and a SPOON
and eat by yourself!

*Thanks for introducing this one to us Sherry!!

This was a TOTAL


Final talley from 
what I personally cooked for
our Thankgiving feast this year!

HITS - 3
Pumpkin Pies
Chex Mix
Upside Down Pecan Pie
Butter Pecan Cake

Totally counts as a win to me!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Food - Chex Mix & Kooking Kids!

Item #4 on the EPIC
Thanksgiving cooking list 
is really not worthy of its own posting...
Chex Mix?

It is not about the Chex Mix,
it is more about the sweet baby boy,
the Chex Mix...
(sort of)

Mom makes huge batch of 

Then she puts it on the counter
as she continues her

Only to turn around and find
her 3 year old
pushing the cooler holding the 
brining turkey (see last post)
around the kitchen.
He effortlessly maneuvers it
to right infront of the Chex Mix.
(and pumpkin pies - take note of those
these are the ONLY pictures I have
and they will be featured in the next post)

Back to the kid pushing the turkey in the cooler
around the kitchen...

Said freaking cute 
3 year old
hops up on the brining turkey
filled cooler
and starts to 
help his little self to the 
Chex Mix!

I quickly discovered that he was 
sitting there 
through the Chex Mix
and pulling out 
the pretzels!



(Chex Mix - HIT (the pretzels anyways))

(Talley:  2-HITS, 2-MISSES)

While Mommy was cooking away in the kitchen,
my little people wanted to help SOOOOO bad,
but I was kinda in a groove
politely (maybe not quite so politely)
declined their offer/request
of help.

Then it dawned on me!
There was an
Easy Bake Oven 
sitting UNOPENED
in our garage!
(gotten by Ms. Priss 11 months ago - sigh)

So again,
Jackson was head chef
and thankfully he can read!
So I let him at it!

The littles were his sous chefs again.

They seriously needed 
help from mommy!

This was cute and I was super happy that
they were cooking too,
and not "helping" me.

these are the smallest,
most pitiful excuses 
for baked goods I have ever seen!
I was quite disappointed in the portion

There was quite a bit of effort for
literally a NIBBLE
of a "cupcake".

But they had fun.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Food - Brined Oil-less (Infrared) Fried Turkey

#3 on our Thanksgiving cooking list:

Brined Oil-less (Infrared) Fried Turkey

No recipe links for this.
We have been 
working on our own 
recipe for a few years now.

The aforementioned 
sweet hubs,
bought a turkey fryer a few years ago...
quite a few years ago.

It always tasted pretty good 
and the crunchy skin,
But the price of the oil!
$30 for enough oil to 
put in the pot,
to fry a turkey...

Ugh - we quit using it.

Then he was in one of the mega
home improvement stores
and saw an


So of course he had to have it!
It was a birthday gift or Christmas gift
a few short weeks later.

And this thing is pretty neat!!!

We have always gotten rave reviews.

Then we got into brining 
our larger meats
(turkeys, chickens, pork butts)
before cooking them.

And let me tell you!
This turns out to be the 
turkey you have ever had!

crisp skin,
tons of flavor!

We had 2 turkeys
this year at Thanksgiving,
ours was GONE!
The other...

Here is the big guy brining.

I think he brined for atleast 24 hours.

Our brine recipe is pretty simple
mostly unchanging...

Turkey, Chicken, Pork Brine
1 c salt
1/2 c white sugar

optional add ins:
a healthy squirt of molasses
dried thyme
bay leaf (or 2)
granulated garlic
whole peppercorns

*I do not add ALL of these at the same time,
I usually mix and match depending on
my mood

Put all of the ingredients of choice in a pot.
(if you are brining a chicken,
use the pot you will be brining in)

Cover with about 2-4 c of water.

Heat to just before a boil
to allow the sugar and salt to dissolve.

Throw in a bunch of ice to cool it down QUICK.
(I don't have time to sit around and wait 
for it to cool down!
and you don't want to put your 
turkey or chicken in 
almost boiling water!)

*If you are doing a chicken,
throw the rinsed and "hollow" 
chicken into your pot of cold brine.
Put a lid on it,
throw it in the fridge!
Let it go for about 12 hrs or so.
The longer it sits, the saltier it will get.

If you are doing a turkey,
pour the iced brine into your vessel of choice
(cooler for us - see above pic)
then lower the rinsed and "hollow" turkey in.
Continue to add cool water until the
turkey is completely covered.
Then let this boy chill for about 24 hrs,
checking frequently to make sure there is still
ice in the cooler to keep the turkey cool!!

When time,
pull the meat out and cook it however 
you want!
Oil-less infrared fryer
Grilled (haven't tried this one)

*You can add seasonings to the outside
of the meat before cooking. 
We use Lawry's Seasoned Salt 
on our chickens when we rotisserie.

For our turkey,
we slathered him with a sweet and smoky
dry rub...

I have no idea where my husband 
found this recipe,
so I cannot give credit where credit is due.
We have now used this on 
turkey & pork!!

Sweet & Smoky Dry Rub

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar (you can use 1-1/3 cups brown sugar if you want)
1/4 cup Lawry's Seasoning Salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper (use 2 teaspoons black pepper if white not available)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon powdered smoke flavor (optional)
3 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
3 teaspoons Thyme

Then we liberally slather the outside with this!

We use this when we are smoking
or oil-less frying.

I was with my family when we were
cooking it
was too busy visiting and running my mouth...
so I did not get an after picture.

Or any other pictures after 
the one of him in his bath.


We have done atleast 1 more turkey 
in the fryer since then.

We tried it in our rotisserie,
because the instructions say it can handle
a 12 lb turkey!
We beg to differ...
so into the fryer it went.

And was again,

So this is ALWAYS

(score is now 1-HIT, 2-MISSES)

If you try either the brining or rubbing above,
please let me know what you think!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Food - Upside Down Pecan Pie

Item #2 on the Thanksgiving cooking list:

A what?
So I asked the sweet man I am married to,
what did he want for Thanksgiving. 
I do that every year just to make sure
he gets what he wants too...
otherwise I would make all of my favorites
and he would just have to eat what I served.

He was happy with his Butter Pecan cake,
but that was 
"for his birthday,
not for Thanksgiving".

He then proceeded to tell me about
this "thing" 
that someone had at work 
last year for their Thanksgiving potluck
that looked like and upside down pecan pie.

He said it was a crust with the pecans
and sauce just oozing all over the place.
They had flipped it out of a pan
onto a dish and it just oozed.

So on to google I went.
Then went to the images,
pointed them out to him
and said
"which one?"

This is the image he pointed to...

Upside-Down Pecan Pie 

Ok, I can do that!
But I needed a cast iron skillet,
which I have wanted forever!
But have never been able to justify.
So I got one!
Whoo hoo!

 It seemed easy enough...
Melt butter in my new cast iron skillet

Add sugars.

Add pecans.

Let sit for 30 min.
Cover with prepared pie crust.
(yep, this was totally store bought!)


This was what it looked like when I took it out.
Kinda neat looking!

it didn't turn out like the picture above that
Ms. Martha Stewart

I left it in this pan,
then took it to my parents.
I threw it in the oven to heat it up
so that it would
"flip out".

Well I don't know if I cooked 
the pecans and sugar too long
in the beginning,
or what...
but it wouldn't
"flip out".
I had to SCRAPE 
it off of the bottom of the pan!
Then it was just a heaping mess
of pecans,
pie crust,

Which hardened to almost
brittle hard!

It was not very fun to eat
(tasted good!)
but did not get completely eaten.

This was another 

So this was technically 
(out of 2, for those of you keeping count!)

**I CAN cook,
and I CAN cook well...
just sometimes 
things don't work out like they are supposed to!**

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thanksgiving Food - Butter Pecan Cake

Phew - 
so if we hadn't already consumed enough food 
in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving...
here comes more!!

Over the next few posts,
I will be sharing 
the hits and misses
of my
Thanksgiving cooking this year!

Up First:

 A Butter Pecan cake!

My sweet husband shares
his birthday with the 
Thanksgiving weekend,
most years.

This year, I found a cake on Facebook 
that had his name written all over it,
months before his actual birthday!
(which meant I had to hunt it down
when it was actually his birthday!)

A Butter Pecan Cake!!

That is one of his favorite flavors of ice cream.
So I decided that I would make that for him!
I was super excited. 
It sounded YUMMY!!

The absolute BEST part,
hands down,
of baking this cake...

these babies!

These are buttered pecans
being toasted in my oven.
Can you just imagine the smell?
Probably not,
but lemme tell ya,
it was

Makes me want to throw a pan of them 
in my oven

And I am lucky there were enough 
left to actually make the cake with...
I couldn't keep my hands out of them!!

I used the recipe from 
"Taste of Home"

It was easy enough.

Then I had to jazz up the outside a little.

This was the outcome!!!

Isn't it beautiful!?!?
This was definitely one of my prettier cakes.
I was very happy with the final product...
on looks.

The cake was crazy dry though!
It was best eaten with ice cream.
I would like to try it again, 
but with a different cake recipe.

We took it to my folks for
Thanksgiving to celebrate 
with everyone,
but wound up leaving it there in the 
We never got it back...
just an empty container.

So my sweet man informed me
that he deserved another birthday cake
since we had left his.

I wound up making a cheesecake a few weeks later,
that didn't look as pretty as the one above,
but tasted better than I could have hoped.
Just a simple cheesecake...
that got rave reviews from the fam! 

So even though it looked great,
this was actually a 
this year.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

November - All About Food (Giving Back #3)

After my quick 
sister visit...
we had 
our third opportunity,
in the month of November, 
to give back...
food style!!

Back in October,
the gentleman that turned us on to MoW (see Giving Back #1)
mentioned an opportunity at his church
(which is also where we do scouts
and play most of our Upward sports)

They were hosting a meal packaging event
This organization packages meals typically for 
people in other countries.
All you have to do...
is add water!

I was eager to help as soon as I heard about it.
Surely my crew could do SOMETHING, right?

I set up the littles in the nursery
(which we were all to familiar with),
right down the hall
(and checked on them FREQUENTLY).
Then the boys and I jumped right on in!

There was a lot to be done,
and the organizers had the system down!

My guys were two of the only children there.
I am pretty sure there were a couple of others,
but I honestly can't remember!

We all had to wear these fancy hairnets.

Rico did NOT want his picture taken
with it on,
but I reminded him that it was for a good cause,
and showed that he was working!

Jackson had a BALL!
He loved feeling needed!
He was a runner,
and as the groups filled up their bins,
he would go and take them to the next station.
He was helping atleast 3 different groups, 
sometimes more,
so they would holler his name
when they needed him.
He got the biggest kick out of that.
Made me proud!

We helped package over 11,000 meals that day!

We have really enjoyed doing things like this.
I am eager to find more.

(we did do one more thing similar (through the Salvation Army) 
in December,
if I find pictures - not sure I took any - 
I will post about it later)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sister Love

Before I start my quick 
bazillion part series
on my part of the
Thanksgiving Food
this year...
continuing on the 
November - All About Food theme...

I wanted to share the quick visit I had with my 

My sisters and I are spread 
all across the state of NC now.
(thankfully not the country - for now)

The baby sis, Melanie,
lives in the western part of the state.
So for her birthday this year,
the middle sis (Courtney)
all drove out to spend the weekend with her!!

After I dropped off all those turkeys,
at the USO (see last post), 
I rushed home,
dropped my family off, 
and then
I drove to Raleigh and 
rode west with the middle sis!
That was an adventure in itself.
But it was the first weekend,
I have EVER
spent away from my crew!
The WHOLE crew!
And the first time daddy 
flew SOLO
for a whole weekend!

We had a fun dinner the first night.
We went to a sweet little restaurant,
an old house turned into a restaurant.
We were shown to a small room
with a few tables.
There was a couple attempting to enjoy a quiet dinner
seated near us.
we tend to get a little loud
a lot
when the 4 of us are together...
ask my dad.
He endured many a dinner
to the non-stop 

We had a very light dinner,
then headed to a little get together
that Melanie's friends were
having for her.
I couldn't show up at the party,
so I searched the birthday girl's 
Pinterest boards
for things she had pinned
and came upon
something called
so I whipped up a batch
to take with me!

I love the colors!
I cut it up into tiny little pieces,
and it was surprisingly 
I did not add the icing the recipe had
as an option.
I figured it would be sweet enough!

After the get together,
we headed to my baby sister's house
for the night.
We stayed up and chatted for ever it seemed.
Then crawled into our beds.

I shared a bed with the birthday girl,
and was told that I was the best sleeping partner ever!
(That means a lot coming from her - trust me!)

Up and at 'em the next morning,
mom headed to see our Grandmother for a quick
visit and left the girls to go shopping!

But first we hit a cute little coffee shop!
Complete with little designs in the coffee foam
delicious pastries!
I won't mention that we had JUST eaten 
breakfast at Melanie's...

Then a quick picture 
of the sisters.
(We all got a kick out of our photo-bomber in the back)

After we were all hopped up on coffee...
we started shopping!

I don't typically go shopping.
I hardly ever go shopping,
clothes shopping,
for myself.

For various reasons, 
but mainly

I just happened to have 
my two fashionista
sisters with me.

And they happily helped me spend money!
I warned my husband,
and justified it as a belated birthday present.
(works for me)

We hit a couple of stores,
then the mall.

While we were walking around the mall,
we just happened to notice that 
The Limited
was having a 50% off the entire store
sale that morning!

So in we went.
Let me say it has been a LONG time
since I have shopped anywhere
like The Limited.
I have been out of the workforce
for almost 9 years.
Having and raising kids.
Living in blue jeans
and t-shirts!
(except on Sundays, of course)

After we were greeted at The Limited,
my selections were taken,
they started a fitting room for me,
put my name on the door,
then I walked in a saw this!
This was totally picture-worthy!
I had to show my husband!
A smile immediately spread across
my face when I saw how they had
the clothes displayed!
so this is what its like to 
go shopping!?!?

After our shopping extravaganza
the middle sister and I headed back 

It was a wonderful,
girls weekend
my mom 
which we are definitely
going to have to do

Thursday, February 13, 2014

November - All About Food (Giving Back #2)

Our second opportunity to give back,
in the month of November,
was via the USO at our 
local Air Force Base.

USO Turkeys!!

Bare with me on this one...
the hubs received an email from someone
else from within the city
regarding a need at the USO for 
food for Thanksgiving.
Apparently there are quite a few 
airmen on base that
are in need.

And the holidays are especially hard
(as you all know).

So I JUMPED at this!!
The USO had provided a wish list,
I immediately called the contact
on the email and started asking questions!!

They had received an overwhelming amount of support
from the community but still 
had a need for 
12 turkeys and 
15+ boxes of instant mashed potatoes.

So I put the word out to our local 
homeschool group
and also received an overwhelming response!
Especially when I told them
that Harris Teeter
(my favorite grocery store in the country!!)
was running a special on turkeys
and would allow me to purchase
as many as we needed
at their sale price,
which came out to be about $5/turkey!

I waltzed into Harris Teeter with 
our money...
and due to a "computer glitch"
walked out of HT
14 turkeys
20 boxes of instant potatoes
for $75!!!

Then we rode right on over to 
the News-Argus,
a prearranged drop off location,
and met up with the USO volunteers who
organized the food drive...
popped open the back of the beast
and delivered all of this!

Thanks completely to my fellow homeschoolers!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

November - All About Food (Giving Back #1)

Giving Back!

We have been searching 
for ways we can volunteer as a family,
but it is rather hard with 
a 3 yo to chase after.

So I jump at opportunities I find
that will allow us to help!

In November,
we were blessed with 3 opportunities!

#1 - Meals On Wheels

Meals on Wheels has been on my radar
for years!!!

I helped my grandmother with it about 6+ years ago,
when my two oldest were little.

Then we had another encounter while we were in Texas,
a church where we did our Homeschool PE
was a provider.

Then the gentleman that runs the Upward Flag Football
that we were just a part of this fall,
does Meals on Wheels...
and oddly,
delivers to my elderly neighbors!

So I figured we would give it a try!

The first go was a challenge!
(to say the least!)
The boys helped,
the littles stayed in their carseats.
The boys seats were on the third row
and they had to literally 
crawl over the littles
to get out...

Then I had to walk in to each house,
with them,
leaving the littles in the car.

Needless to say,
I was a bit of a worry-wort
hadn't figured everything out.

We eventually figured it out
and we now do MoW
atleast once a month!

My boys fly solo too!
They love it!!!
All I do is chauffeur.
(and take the occasional picture)

 Seriously, tell me that having food 
delivered to your door
by these two,
wouldn't bring a smile to your face!!!

And since mommy didn't think ahead,
we were all H-U-N-G-R-Y
by the time we had finished delivering all that food!
So we called daddy and met him at Chick-Fil-A
for a special treat!!