Friday, November 30, 2012

Pecan Pie

One of my favorite desserts is pecan pie.  When I found out my kids were allergic to nuts, I excluded all nuts in my home for over 6 years.  It wasn't until last Thanksgiving that I decided to introduce this pie back into our feast.  I love it and best of all, it is so simple to make.

Pecan Pie
1 cup light corn syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup pecans (6oz)
1 unbaked 9 inch deep dish pie crust

Stir the first 5 ingredients thoroughly using a spoon.  Mix in pecans.  Pour into pie crust.  Bake on center rack of oven for 60-70 minutes. Pie is done when center reaches 200F.  Tap center surface of pie lightly.  It should spring back when done.  For easy clean up, spray pie pan with cooking spray.   Cool for 2 hours.  Store any uneaten pie in refrigerator.

This is so good.  Since my kids can't have any, that just leaves me with more :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey Pot Pie

I love preparing for the Thanksgiving meal.  I've cooked for my family every year since high school.  What I love most are all the leftovers.  We have no trouble gobbling up the entire turkey so this year I made two (just so I can be assured to have leftovers).  It started last year when I decided I wanted to try to fry a turkey.  Since I was so scared that something bad might happen, I also roasted a turkey as my back up.  The fried turkey was such a success that it was eaten up almost immediately so this year, I decided to forgo waking up 3 in the morning to roast the turkey and just fry two turkeys instead.  It turned out fantastic.  

Now for my favorite part, the leftovers.  After a solid 2 days of eating nothing but turkey (this is just me since my family was practically done with turkey and the trimmings after the second day), I decided to make turkey pot pie with the leftover turkey.  I haven't made it in a decade for reasons I'm uncertain of, but I am glad I dusted my cookbook because it was SO good.  We had no leftovers and a request to make it again.

The center was creamy and oh so good.

Turkey Pot Pie

2  9 inch pie crusts
1 package (10 oz) frozen peas and carrots
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp tsp pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (14.5 oz can)
2/3 cup milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups cut-up cooked turkey

Rinse frozen peas and carrots in cold water to separate; drain.

Heat oven to 425F.  Melt butter in 2 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in flour, onion, salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat.  Stir in broth and milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Stir in chicken and peas and carrots; remove from heat.

Unroll store bought pie crusts.  Roll pastry to fit 9x13 casserole dish.  Ease into ungreased dish.  Pour chicken mixture over pie crust.

 Roll remaining pie crust to fit top of the casserole dish and place over chicken mixture.  I had extra dough so I cut leaves and placed them on top.


Bake about 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown.


I'm ready to make another one already.

Next time, I'll bake individual sized pot pies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Infant Photo Shoot - 7 day old

Life's been pretty hectic lately with back to back photo shoots.  I'm having so much fun capturing all these special moments, but it has definitely cut into the time I normally would spend on other projects.

Meet my newest model.

At only 7 days old, this photo shoot was a bit challenging, but it was so much fun.  Adalina was definitely posing here.  My sister crotchet a wide assortment of head bands and hats that I brought with me to the shoot.  I ended up choosing this fushia flower band because it looked simply adorable.  I love the bright pop of color and the added fun element it brings to the picture.

This is actually my fruit basket that I had in my dining room.  I rocked Adalina to sleep in this scarf and decided to see if she would lie in the basket.  She was out like a log within seconds.

She looks so peaceful here.  I love it.

I just had to use this crazy hat my sister made.  I told her to make me a long santa hat and she came up with this.  Not knowing the head size, she used a wine bottle and it turned out to be perfect.

Thanks to P. and A. for allowing me to take the first photos of their very precious daughter.

It was such a delight

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

I like eating eggplant whenever I go out, but have never tried cooking with it.  I decided I would give it a shot this weekend and try making eggplant parmesan.

Most of the recipes I found online required frying and from the reviews eggplant absorbs a lot of the oil so when I found this oven baked recipe I was excited to try it out.  It was a winner and the family loved it.  I added some pasta and my meat sauce right on top.

Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 egg, beaten with 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup parm cheese
1 tbl garlic powder
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, part skim

Place the eggplant in a single layer on a kitchen towel. Generously sprinkle salt on top and place another towel on top. Allow to sit for 30 min (this pulls out excess liquid as well as the bitterness).
Lightly rinse eggplant of salt and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix together breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and garlic powder in a shallow bowl. Place eggplant in egg-water wash, then in breadcrumb mixture. Place on cookie sheet generously coated with cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 min, turning halfway or until browned and crispy.

Then either layer eggplant and sauce in a baking dish or put a spoonful of sauce on each round, top with cheese and bake until melted.  It was pretty yummy and with such a simple recipe, I'll be making it again.

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Building Project

I've been trying to tackle my to-do list to the best of my ability.  All of a sudden I have been motivated so this weekend I started something I should have finished last March.  I unpacked my new miter saw to start a new build.

Can you tell what it is?  Cut, sanded and stained.  I just need a couple of coats of polyurethane, a week to cure and I can bring it into the house.  More on this later.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tips on Filling Your Gas Tank

I was standing in the breakroom at work waiting to nuke my puff pastries I brought (the ones I made here) which is something I never do because I don't eat breakfast, but as I was waiting, I noticed someone had posted tips on filling your gas tank.  I learned so much from reading the article that I decided to post it because one of the things my blog is definitely about is how to save money, and here is just another way to do it.
  • Only buy or fill up your car in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold.  All service stations have their storage tanks buried below the ground.  The colder the ground, the more dense the gasoline.  When it gets warmer, gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening, your gallon is not exactly a gallon.  In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products play an important role.  A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for business, but the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.
  • When you're filling up, do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode.  If you look, you will see that the trigger has three stages: low, middle, and high.  You should be pumping on low mode, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping.  All hoses at the pump have a vapor return.  If you are pumping on the fast rate, some of the liquid that goes to your tank become vapor.  Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.
  • One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas is HALF FULL.  The reason for this is the more gas you have in your tank, the less air occupying its empty space.  Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine.  Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof.  This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation.  
  • If there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tank when you stop to buy gas, do NOT fill up.  Most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.
I thought these tips were really great and although, I can't say that I will always be able to fill up at half tank, I know I can stick to filling up in the morning and definitely at low mode if it is going to make my gas go further. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bitter Melon Soup

Growing up, one of my mother's favorite soups was her canh kho qua or bitter melon soup.  We had a family friend who grew bitter melons in her garden and each year she would give us dozens.  My mom was so excited when she was given handfuls of bitter melons that she would make her favorite soup right way.

Bitter melon soup, as in its name is quite bitter and it is definitely an acquired tasteAs a child, I didn't quite acquire that taste and would never eat it.  Over the summer, my mother would make this soup at my house nearly every week because of the high nutrient content.  That and my sister and brother in law love the soup.

The other day as I was in the grocery store, I walked past the bitter melon and craved it.  It's probably one of the oddest feelings to have.  I craved something that I didn't really like growing up so I picked up a few and decided to make bitter melon soup.  Oddly enough, it was exactly what I needed.

Bitter Melon Soup
2-3 medium length 8-12 inch bitter melons
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1 peeled shallot

pork filling
1/2 pound of ground pork
1 package of bean thread noodle (1/2 cup), soaked and cut into 1-2 inch lengths
1/4 of onion, chopped
1/4 cup black fungus (also known as wood ear mushroom), soaked and chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp pepper

1 green onion, thinly chopped
sprigs of cilantro, thinly chopped

Mix together the pork, bean thread noodles, black fungus, onion, fish sauce, sugar, pepper and salt.

To reduce the bitterness, blanch the entire bitter melon in salted boiling water for 2 minutes.  The color will turn dark green.  Remove and allow to cool.   When cool to the touch, slice melons cross wise into 1 to 1.5 inch pieces. Using a table spoon or knife, drive it between the green outer flesh and the center white pith. Hold the bitter melon in one hand and spoon/knife in other, and slowly core out the pith and seeds with a circular motion.

Add the peeled shallot to the stock and bring to boil. In the meantime, stuff the bitter melons with the pork stuffing. 


When stock is boiling add the stuffed bitter melons and cover reducing heat to low, cook for about 20 minutes or until the center of the pork is done. Season broth with some salt and sugar to taste. Transfer to soup bowl and garnish with chopped green onion and cilantro. Serve with jasmine rice.


Sometimes, I'll cut the bitter melon even thinner before serving.


Too bad my mom lives hours away.  She'd be proud I am not only eating bitter melons, but I'm making her soup!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween Night

I started asking my kiddos what they wanted to be for Halloween back in September.  No answer.  I gave them suggestions such as the chipmunks, ninjas, wizard of oz characters, etc.  I thought it would be cute to be a set of 3 again, but it was a no go.  This is what they came up with 20 minutes before we headed out for trick or treating.  I was a little stressed out trying to put everything together last minute. 

Out of our costume closet, the kiddos chose to be Mario, Harry Potter and a Pirate.  R. wanted to be the same thing as last year.  

Since, A. lost the mustache a few days earlier playing around, I drew a mustache on R. with some mascara.

A. loves swords.  I suggested a knight, but he vetoed that and said he'd rather be a pirate.

We couldn't find his sword last minute so he went without it which I am happy about since it would be me who would be holding the sword the entire evening.

E. decided he wanted to be Harry Potter.  I got the cloak and glasses for J. 10 years ago.  I scrambled last minute to find a shirt, slacks and tie for E.  I did have a gray vest to complete the ensemble, but it was too hot to wear so we went without it.  

He completes his look with a tattoo on his forehead (thank goodness those tattoos still work after 10 years) and a lighted Harry Potter wand he got last year for Christmas.  I'm glad we went with that wand verses the one that came with the costume because it was an additional light source in the evening.

Who says you have to spend money on Halloween?  I think I spent $12 on all the kids last year and this year we spent nothing, but still had a whole lot of  fun.  That should prove to my hubby that me being a pack rat isn't all that bad.  We'll always have great last minute costumes without spending a dime which is a great thing in my book.

I hope everyone had a great Halloween, we certainly did.

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