Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving: Part I

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. Ours - all three of them - were very nice this year although only one of them, the first one with my family, was a traditional one.

We always do dinner with my sisters, their families, and my mom the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. We gather at Bri's house for what is usually a late-ish dinner and just hanging out. This year, we had typical Thanksgiving sides, but we did grilled chicken breasts instead of turkey or ham. Bri, Shannon, and my mom did a wonderful job of getting everything ready. I also get a check mark for my contributions - spinach dip for an appetizer and a delicious pumpkin cream praline pie (recipe coming soon) for dessert.

While the final preparations were underway, Lyla and Owen were busy playing and showing off for us newcomers. Owen found a pair of Lyla's shoes that he just HAD to try on.

Then he and Lyla rocked out at the piano for a bit.

They sat at Lyla's little picnic table for dinner.

Lyla's dinner consisted of three rolls, but Owen ate a slightly more varied meal - mashed potatoes, corn, and a roll. See?

Lyla goes to a half-day preschool a couple days a week and last week they talked about what they were thankful for. So Bri asked Lyla the same question.

Bri: "Lyla, what are you thankful for?"
Lyla: "Not Owen."

She said it with sass like only a two-year-old can. We're not sure where it came from, but it was hilarious. Out of the mouths of babes all right.

After dinner, we played upstairs. Lyla and Owen each took a ride on the rocking horse. You might notice that Owen's in another pair of Lyla's shoes. I think he caught the shoe bug from his Gma. But look at that face. Does it not say, "Yeah, I'm wearing pink shoes. And?"

Lyla demonstrated her musical, uh, talents at Nate's drums.

After a bath during which Owen dumped a bucket of water on an unsuspecting and soon-to-be bath-phobic Lyla, we - Shannon, Bri, mom, the kids, and me - played in the guest room. I forget what Lyla and I were talking about, but it looks like it must've been serious.

Once the kids were in bed, we ended the evening with dessert (my pumpkin pie and Bri's Triple Chocolate Pecan Pie) and a special on plastic surgery gone wrong. I'm sure no one will be surprised to know that Heidi Montag was featured.

So that was our traditional Thanksgiving. Honestly, it didn't matter where we were or what we ate, I was just happy to be there with everyone. If Bri had asked me what I was thankful for this year, I simply would've said, "Being with you guys."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Recipe Recap: Gingerbread Mini Muffins

The McHusband and I ate at Jason's Deli recently. I'm not sure what I love more: the gingerbread muffins or the chocolate mousse. I could probably do without any "real" food there and just eat the muffins and then top off that carbtastic meal with heaps and heaps of chocolate mousse.

Anyway, after eating there, I wanted to make my own gingerbread muffins. My search led me to Back to the Cutting Board and this blogger's similar affinity for the gingerbread muffins at Jason's Deli. If you want to join our club - Jason's Deli's Gingerbread Mini Muffin's Biggest Fans - then check out her recipe and whip up a batch of your own.

I don't think these were quite as good as the restaurant's, but they weren't disappointing by any means. I would certainly make them again.

They were a perfect bite-sized portion of fall flavor.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Recipe Recap: Sweet & Sticky Orange Chicken

Our dinner had an Asian spin Sunday night. I'd seen a recipe on that I knew we would like and it didn't let me down. The recipe called for Kraft's Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing, which is just delicious, and something that I already had in my fridge. I was supposed to use an actual orange and its zest, but I went with canned mandarin oranges (Sara's suggestion) and even added some pineapple chunks.

The sauce was that dressing, sugar, soy sauce, and some red pepper flakes. I actually added an additional half teaspoon of the red pepper flakes, and I'm glad I did because it was spicy, but I think we could've even taken a little more heat.

Other than the fruit and the sauce, all I needed was chicken, red pepper, and garlic (and an Amaretto Sour to sip while I cooked).

During the last couple minutes of everything cooking, I heated up some 90-second brown rice and then added that to the skillet so it could mingle with the sauce.

You gotta love that classic sweet (pineapple) and spicy (red pepper flakes) combination.

When I filled our plates, I made sure to leave enough in the skillet for one of us to have leftovers. But we couldn't resist splitting what was left and finishing it off. This recipe gets four thumbs up!

{Recipe here}

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Turkey Trot Twenty-Ten

The McHusband ran his first official 5k on Saturday. We did the Turkey Trot in Apex, which I ran last year with Chelle, Sara, Jari, and Vickie.

Ready to run!

Jari signed up to run it this year but changed her mind a few days before, which turned out to be a good thing. See, Heather wanted to run it but registration was closed by the time she tried to get in. So Heather took Jari's place in the race.

Me, Heather, and Sara.

The Turkey arrived in style. He had an entourage of bikers (the Harley kind, not the Lance Armstrong kind). His bike left a little to be desired though.

So how'd we do? I finished in 26:06, which made me 95th overall (among the 298 runners with chips) and 8th in my age group. The McHusband finished just over a minute after me in 27:08. He was 117th overall and 11th in his age group. Heather was shooting for 31:30 and she finished in 30:24 so she was very happy with her time, as she should be.

Sara's husband Cliff also ran the Turkey Trot for the first time. Chick Fil A was one of the sponsors and they were giving out free sandwiches afterward. The cows were milling around and I'm sure they popped up in more than just this picture.

Sara's friend Ashlee placed in her age group. She finished in 23:20, which made her 43rd overall and 2nd in her age group.

I didn't do any exercise other than lift weights one night and the usual walking the dogs last week. I wanted to give my leg the rest it needed for a proper recovery. The good news is that it didn't bother me during the 5k. The bad news is that it was pretty sore throughout the rest of the day and even a little bit today. I will continue to go easy on the exercise and keep up with my stretching and icing. I also got a foam roller, which was recommended to me by the guy at the shoe store as well as by Ashlee, who was all too familiar with ITB Syndrome. So keep your fingers crossed for me that I can be back out pounding the pavement sooner rather than later.

Corn Hole Chase's Way

Chelle and Jeremy had Corn Hole set up at the Chicken Stew. I think Chase was the only one who took advantage of the game.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend: The Stew!

We look forward to Chelle and Jeremy's annual Chicken Stew all year long; 2010 didn't disappoint.

Last year, Charlee and Jude were the only kids in attendance. This year, they were joined by Chase and Leah, Charlee's little brother Leighton, and Zachary. Speaking of, here he is.

And here's the kids' table.

I wanted to get a picture of Zachary and Chase together because they were dressed in similar tops (a la Freddy Krueger), but Zachary wasn't too keen on that idea.

Sara finally made it out to a Chicken Stew, and Greg and Kim were able to come as well. Greg, you're gonna have to practice keeping your eyes open during pictures. You don't want your new wife mad at you when you get get your wedding proofs from the photographer.

Here I go practicing those self-portraits again. At least I got the majority of our heads in the shot.

After everyone had at least a little something to eat (cuz you have to go back for seconds at some point; I mean, come on, you only get Chicken Stew once a year), we headed out to the fire to stay warm. I think Heather was being warmed from the inside out by this point.

Sorry, Greg, I didn't mean to light your head on fire.

I think Sara and Kim are the most photogenic people I know. Sara, you're adorable in this picture.

And here they are looking all photogenic together.

A bit later, I wound up back at the fire with a little bear on my shoulder. Leah was cozy inside her gingerbread girl suit and between her and the fire (and, okay, a couple of adult beverages), I was plenty warm.

Remember how I said you have to go back for seconds? Well, here we are, gathered in the garage again.

That's Jeremy's sister Casie cheesing in the front. Then, from left to right, that's Vanessa, Heather, Chelle, and me.

Right after we took these pictures, Vanessa's cup just sorta fell out of her hand. She explained, "I hit my own hand with my own hand." I hate when that happens.

Here're just some random pictures from the rest of the night.

Casie and me. There go the tops of our heads again.

Back out at the fire.

Jeremy's dad.

And look! Our ENTIRE heads made it into the photo.

What happens when you microwave a marshmallow? This.

Things that made 2010's Chicken Stew memorable:
  1. Shooting off the cannon at 11:15.
  2. The cannon setting off a nearby car alarm.
  3. The angry redneck neighbor coming over to say we woke up "him and his old lady"and he'd called the sheriff.
  4. The redneck neighbor and his "old lady" are not even 30 and they were at last year's Chicken Stew.
  5. Chelle and the cop talking in the driveway and the cop saying, "This is why I live on 10 acres."
  6. Earrings from Walmart vs. earrings from Target. (That's for you, Heather.
Can't wait to do it again next year!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend: Friday

Well, we were VERY busy this past weekend. Kevin, Jenny, and the kids were here for the weekend; we saw Bill and Veerle for lunch on Saturday; we went to Chelle and Jeremy's annual Chicken Stew Saturday night; and the McHusband went skydiving on Sunday.

Kevin and Jenny were in town for Jenny's brother's wife's brother's (Got all that?) wedding. Jenny's brother, Nick, is in the military and has only recently returned to the US and is currently based in Vegas. I don't know why exactly, but for some reason after this weekend, he won't have any leave, not even for the holidays. So this was Jenny's family's chance to visit with him. Jenny's parents were here from Charlotte and they stayed in a hotel downtown, but Kevin, Jenny, and the kids stayed at Hotel McCasa and we were very happy to have them.

Chase played with his "tools" while dinner (potato soup in the crockpot) was finishing.

I love that the crockpot allows for hands-off cooking, which leads to hands-on-the-baby time.

After dinner, while Kevin and Jenny were putting Chase to bed, I spent more quality time with Leah.

The McHusband even got in on the action. {Yes, that's a rolling pin on the couch. No, we didn't use it to beat the children. It's actually for my leg, the one that's been bothering me since the half-marathon.}

Later, while Jenny and I were upstairs on the computer, he actually got Leah to sleep.

Okay, there's plenty more to share, but I've got banana bars to make and dogs to walk so I'm stopping here and I'll be back with more in a day or so.

Recipe Recap: Brownie-PB Fudge Pie

I don't know why, but I had a vision of this pie and knew I had to make it. Kim's Halloween party was the perfect opportunity, especially since I could decorate the pie with a chocolate icing spiderweb and spiders.

I used my big springform pan - seems like it's about 10 inches in diameter. The bottom layer was brownies-from-a-box. I used Betty Crocker Triple Chunk mix, my favorite for making brownies. The middle layer was peanut butter fudge and I topped it all off with a marshmallow-cream cheese frosting, which I think could've been a touch more marshmallow-y but was still good and you couldn't beat it in the easy-to-make department. Only three ingredients!

Okay, okay, enough of my artwork. You ready to see the layers in action?

Chocolate? Peanut butter? Marshmallow cream? Count me in!