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SHOW US YOUR LIFE: THANKSGIVING RECIPES

I have been so excited for this week at Kelly’s Korner! Over the years we have perfected our Thanksgiving menu but new recipes to try are always a fun change. Matt and I host Thanksgiving every year- for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is because we have the most kids and therefore the most difficulty making out of town trips. The second reason is that we are smack dab in the middle of both of our parents. Mine are 2 hours away to the west and his are 2 hours away to the east. Normally we also have my sister, her fiance, her gay boy bestie who is seriously the funniest person I have ever met in my life, Matt’s two brothers and their significant others and a random person or two that didn’t have anywhere to go. This year we’ll be joined by one of Matt’s co-workers who is new in town with nowhere to go for the holidays and an elderly neighbor who is medically unable to travel to see her family this year. It’s a big crowd and we make tons of food. My sister, The Momma and I split the cooking duties every year and The Mother Law usually brings a few things that have nothing to do with Thanksgiving. Sigh…

I always make a few starters to keep the masses happy while we cook the main meal. This year for the appetizers I am making:

Cranberry-Pineapple Minis
1 can (20oz) crushed pineapple, in juice
2 pkg (3oz each) raspberry flavor jello
1 can (16oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
2/3 cups walnut pieces
1 apple, chopped
Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add enough water to juice to measure 2 ½ cups; pour into saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pour over gelatin mixes in large bowl. Stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in pineapple, cranberry sauce, walnuts and apple. Spoon into 24 paper lined muffin cups. Refrigerate 2 ½ hours or until firm. Remove liners. Makes 24 servings.

Pumpkin Crescent Rolls8 oz cream cheese, softened
15 oz can pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 T flour
2 T cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
8 pkgs refrigerated crescent rolls
½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 375. In mixer bowl, blend cream cheese, pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, flour and spices until combined and smooth. Unroll crescent rolls, separate and lay flat. Evenly spread 1 ½ T of pumpkin mix over dough. Roll into crescent shape and sprinkle top with sugar. Bake 11-13 minutes until golden brown.

Triple Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms48 med. White mushrooms (about 2 lbs)
1 pkg (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup finely chopped green onions
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt
Using damp paper towels, wipe mushroom caps clean; remove and discard stems. In colander, squeeze liquid out of spinach until dry. In large bowl, mix spinach, feta, cream cheese, green onions and ¼ tsp salt until well combined. Fill each mushroom with heaping teaspoon spinach mixture; top with Parmesan. Transfer to 15 x 10 jelly roll pan; bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and filling is golden brown.

Sweet and Spicy Meatballs1 can Rotel, untrained
1 jar (9oz) strawberry seedless jam
1 bag (16oz) frozen meatballs
Blend untrained tomatoes and jam in medium sauce pan; heat over medium heat until bubbling. Add meatballs; heat additional 10 minutes or until heated through. Place on serving platter.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 cans (10oz) Hormel chunk breast of chicken, drained
2 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
1 c ranch dressing
¼ cup pepper sauce
1 ½ cup cheddar cheese
Place cream cheese in shallow casserole. Microwave on 50% power until cheese is softened, 2-3 minutes. Stir in drained chicken, ranch dressing, pepper sauce and 1 cup cheese. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese. Microwave on 100% power 2-4 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips or celery sticks.

For the main course, we try to split the meal according to the distance they have to travel to my house. I do the bulk of the side dishes but several of my dishes can be made a day ahead and heated up on turkey day. The Momma does the ham and my sister does the turkey because I do all the appetizers. The Momma also does the mashed potatoes, the deviled eggs, the biscuits/rolls, and the pumpkin pie. My sister does the stuffing, the collard greens and the fruit salad.
These are my recipes for my contributions to the main course:

Corn Pudding
1 can cream corn
1 can whole kernal corn
2 eggs
8oz sour cream
1 stick margarine
1 pkg cornbread mix
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Melt butter in casserole dish. Add cream style and whole kernal corn. Add cornbread mix and sour cream. Beat 2 eggs with fork in bowl and add to mix. Stir well. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, uncovered.

Green Bean Casserole1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ cup milk
1 t soy sauce
Dash pepper
4 cups cooked, cut green beans
1 1/3 cup French’s French Fried Onions
Mix soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake 5 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole3 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
½ cup sugar
1 stick butter + 3T
1 T vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup milk
¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
½ t ground cinnamon
Melt stick of butter in casserole dish. Mix cooked sweet potatoes, sugar, vanilla, eggs and milk together until well combined. Pour evenly into casserole dish. In small bowl, combine pecans, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add remaining 3T butter and rub in with fingers until mixture is evenly moistened and forms clumps. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 (12oz) packages fresh cranberries
Bring water and sugar to boil in saucepan. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce into bowl; cover and cool.

Honey Orange Carrots
16 oz pkg peeled baby carrots
1 ½ cups orange juice
2 T honey
1 T butter
¼ t salt
Combine all ingredients in med saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain gentle boil. Cook, stirring occasionally until carrots are tender and liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 20 minutes.

My favorite part of the meal, by far, is dessert. My thighs don’t lie people, I love my dessert. The Momma makes a killer pumpkin pie from scratch but I don’t have the recipe handy. We make a lot of desserts. A lot. And we never have leftovers, the vultures clean us out. I swear to you, I saw The Brother Law go back for a fourth peice of pie last year.

Pecan Cheesecake Pie
½ (15oz) refrigerated pie crust
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs, divided
¾ cup sugar, divided
2 t vanilla, divided
¼ t salt
1 ¼ cups chopped pecans
1 cup light corn syrup
Fit piecrust into 9” pie plate according to package directions. Fold edges under and crimp. Beat cream cheese, 1 egg, ½ cup sugar, 1 t vanilla and salt at medium speed until smooth. Pour cream cheese mix into piecrust, sprinkle evenly with pecans. Whisk together corn syrup, 3 eggs, ¼ cup sugar and 1 t vanilla. Pour over pecans. Place pie on baking sheet. Bake at 350 on lowest oven rack for 50-55 minutes or until pie is set. Cool 1 hour.

Steamed Pumpkin Pudding1 T softened butter
15 oz can pumpkin purree
2 2/3 cup buttermilk
1 ¾ cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups flour
5 T melted unsalted butter
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ t each baking powder and baking soda
1 t salt
Heat oven to 400. Grease shallow dish with softened butter. In large bowl, whisk pumpkin puree, buttermilk, brown sugar, 4 large eggs, flour, unsalted butter, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended and smooth. Pour into prepared dish. Bake 45 minutes or until puffed. Let cool until warm. Spoon into dessert bowls and top with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Creamy 2 step Cheesecake
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz cool whip, thawed
1 crust
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese on med speed until fluffy. Add sugar. Beat until well combined. Fold in whipped topping. Spread in crust. Refrigerate 2 hours. Top with canned cherry pie filling.

Dark Rum Pecan Pie
1 cup sugar
3 T butter, melted
2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs, beaten
½ cup dark corn syrup
2 t dark rum
1 pie shell ( I use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts)
Mix sugar and butter until well combined. Add pecans, eggs, corn syrup, and rum; stir until combined. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Reduce temp to 350 and bake 35-40 minutes longer or until filling is set around edge but center jiggles slightly. Cool completely.

Sweet Potato Pie2 cups mashed fresh or canned sweet potatoes
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
¼ cup half and half
4 T butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
½ t ground cinnamon
1 refrigerated pie crust (I use Pillsbury in the red box)
In bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat sweet potatoes and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and half and half; beat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add butter, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon; beat until blended. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until filling is puffed and set around edges but center jiggles slightly.

That pretty much sums up our Thanksgiving day feast. For Christmas, we are much more low-key. Typically, The ‘Laws do not come for Christmas Day. My parents and my sister usually join us around mid-morning. A few years ago we decided that we did not want to do the traditional formal Christmas Day meal. Instead we began our own tradition of doing a Christmas brunch. My sister and I do all the cooking, it’s a day for my parents (especially my mom) to just sit back, relax and enjoy her grandkids. We have a few dishes that we make for Christmas brunch every year and they are so yummy.

Breakfast Bake
2 pkgs (16oz each) pork sausage
3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup original bisquick mix
2 cups milk
¼ t pepper
4 eggs
Heat oven to 400. Grease casserole dish. Cook sausage in skillet until no longer pink; drain. Stir together sausage, potatoes and 1 ½ cup cheese in baking dish. Stir bisquick mix, milk, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour into baking dish and stir. Bake uncovered 40-45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 1-2 minutes until cheese melts.

Baked French Toast Casserole1 loaf French Bread, cut into 1” slices
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 ½ cup half and half
2 t vanilla
¼ t cinnamon
¾ c butter
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
3 T light corn syrup
Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange bread in bottom. In large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, preheat oven to 350. In small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup, heat until bubbling. Pour over bread mixture. Bake in oven, uncovered for 45-55 minutes.

This year I am also going to make the Pioneer Woman’s amazing Cinnamon Rolls. Yummy!! And they taste even better than they look if you can imagine that. I took her advice and I now give these to each of our neighbors for Christmas. I’m a very popular person on our street come Christmas time. It’s all about the bribery, my friends, all about the bribery. My sister also brings her fabulous Biscuits and Gravy but I don’t have her recipe. They are scrumptous though and even my most picky child will clean their plate!
So there you go. Our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. This is why my jeans never fit come January 1st. I think I gained 10 pounds just typing these all out.



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10 Things To Never Say After A Miscarriage

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I’ve compiled a list. It’s a list of the top 10 things that you should never, under any circumstances, say to a woman who has just suffered a miscarriage. If you feel the need to utter one of these phrases, please for the love of Cheese & Crackers, bite your tongue off. Completely off. I mean it.

Stupid Comment #1: Well it’s not like you were trying to have another baby.

Stupid Comment #2: Aren’t four kids enough for you?

Stupid Comment #3: There was probably something wrong with it and you wouldn’t want a handicapped kid.

Stupid Comment #4: You can always have another one.

Stupid Comment #5: At least it happened early, it could have been worse.

Stupid Comment #6: Maybe you weren’t taking care of yourself properly.

Stupid Comment #7: These things happen, you just have to forget about it and move on.

Stupid Comment #8: It’s not really a baby that early on, it’s pretty much just tissue.

Stupid Comment #9: It’s all a part of God’s plan.

Stupid Comment #10: You should be grateful for the kids you already have.

These are just a few of the stupid comments that I received in the weeks following my miscarriage. Some came from “friends”, some came from family, some came from neighbors. All pissed me off. Just a word to the wise here people. Don’t piss off a hormonal woman who is already angry. She might kill you.

For Real.



STAY HOME MOMS VS. WORKING MOMS….

Who watched Dr. Phil today? Holy Judgements Batman! It was all about Stay Home Moms vs. Working Moms and Heather Armstrong from Dooce [dot] com was a guest. I know a lot of people hate her blog but I really enjoy it. I really responded to her battle with PPD and I enjoy her candor.

I just don’t understand this battle, this war between stay home moms and working moms. I’ve been both. Both are hard. Both are rewarding in different ways, both are challenging in different ways. I don’t believe that one is better than the other. Being a MOM is hard work, period. Whether you pull on those pantyhose and head off to work in the morning or you drag on those yoga pants and listen to your child tell you all about their dream last night where the bear ate the magic jellybeans and turned into a cat and then got stuck climbing in a window that turned out to be a doghouse…..wait, your kids don’t have those dreams? Crap.
Moving on. Where was I?

I think I have a good perspective on this debate because I’ve done both by choice, not necessity. I chose to work full time after adopting our kids. Then I chose to stay home. I might one day choose to go back to work, I don’t know. But I’ll make that choice based on what is best for my family, not based on what some random person tells me they think is best. How would they know? I don’t recall seeing them here in my playroom scrubbing the dog puke out of the carpet last night. Or getting up in the middle of the night to take care of my sick child. So how would they know what works in my house and for my family? When I worked full time, I had a twinge of mommy guilt every morning when I dropped the kids off at daycare. But that twinge of guilt was slight compared to the happiness reflected on my kids faces when they saw their friends and their teachers at daycare and preschool. The kids genuinely loved going to “school”, they had fun and it wasn’t because they were told by society that they were supposed to have fun. They just lived in the moment and enjoyed their day at school and then they came home and enjoyed their nights with their family. Now that’s not to say that I didn’t struggle with the juggling act that was my life. But there is a price for everything. I loved my job and I loved my kids. I fretted over everything I missed while I was at work but at the end of the day, I was satisfied with the balance. When I left my job to stay home with my 3 small children, I don’t know what I was expecting but it was something along the lines of having a perfectly kept house, an empty laundry basket, healthy delicious meals on the table every night and well behaved, happy children. I look back now and laugh at my own naivety.

The last time my house was perfectly kept was when it was empty right before we moved into it. My laundry basket hasn’t been empty in nine years and I’m pretty sure a fabulous dinner of hot dogs and microwavable macaroni & cheese does not count as healthy. As for well behaved children….in the past 24 hours the little one has colored my couch red, threw the remotes in the toilet, emptied a whole box of goldfish in the floor, painted the dog, and poured out a whole bottle of laundry detergent….into the dishwasher. Now where’s my mom of the year award? I remember the days when I couldn’t wait to get home to my kids at the end of the day, to walk in the door and see their smiling faces running to give me hugs and kisses. I missed them so much during the day. Now I have days where I would give my whole bottle of Prozac for a conversation that doesn’t involve poop, why we don’t bite the dog or why cookies are not a food group. I’ll just say it. Sometimes being a stay home mom sucks. Sometimes I think I might lose my mind, other times I worry that I’ve already lost it. In a perfect world I would enjoy every second of being with my kids, shaping their little minds and being Betty Crocker in my super cool apron. But this isn’t a perfect world. I find myself hiding in the closet to get 3 seconds of peace and quiet, Spongebob and Dora the Explorer are helping shape my kids minds and Betty Crocker is probably rolling over in her grave at my comparison to her. Regardless, it is my choice to stay home with my kids. Not because it’s the right choice or what a mother is supposed to do, but because it’s the right choice for me and it’s what I’m supposed to do. I just honestly don’t see why any of us feel that we are justified to make judgements about whether another mother is right or wrong in the decisions she makes for her family. I don’t get it. Unless that mother is chaining her child to the kitchen table while she heads off to turn tricks for a living, it’s really none of our business. Really.

I think there are stigmas attached to mothers no matter what they decide to do. Working moms get the judgement of being uninvolved or selfish. Stay home moms get the judgement of being lazy or uneducated. None of those are true in the majority of cases. I know that personally one of the things I have dealt with is the judgement that I’m “just a mom”. I’ve received that comment quite a few times and it really irks me. As though that defines me completely and totally.

I am not “just a mom”.

I’m a woman, a wife, a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a sister, a friend, a taxi driver, a volunteer, an advocate, a warden, a coupon queen, a laundry prisoner, a blogger.

Oh, and I also happen to be a mom.



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