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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A friendly Thanksgiving

This year my best friend Amanda and I decided to do our own Thanksgiving. We thought it would be so fun to cook our own turkey, and try new recipes, since both of us just usually go to our parent's house, and so we miss out on that opportunity. We decided to go ALL OUT. Turkey, stuffing, candied yams, spinach bacon salad, potatoes and gravy, rolls, cranberry sauce, olives, etc. most of which was homemade and new recipes! Did I mention we made 3 pies as well? All this food, for 4 people. We took an entire Saturday to prepare and cook this feast. We got out my Grammie's china and broke out the Martenellis. By the time we actually sat down to eat, Manda and I were so exhausted we barely had energy to eat it! During the feast, maniacal laughs started coming from Manda, and tears and moaning soon followed. We both were laughing, moaning and crying as we fell out of our seats and crawled to the couch and floor, completely and utterly useless. The feast was spectacular, and we loved the new recipes we tried, but needless to say, we will not be attempting THAT again, unless we find more willing souls to help cook! Haha, it was an experience, and I can tell you now, that my gratitude for my mother has greatly increased!

Here are some of the recipes we followed. They were absolutely delicious! I encourage you to try them, even if you do not typically like stuffing or yams. These are winners!

1 stick butter
4 or 5 large fresh yams or sweet potatoes
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon OR 1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 to 2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Peel yams or sweet potatoes (either may be used). Cut into 1 inch cubes or wedges.

Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish generously.

Arrange yams in baking dish.

In a saucepan, melt butter, and stir sugar until dissolved over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup water and spices.

Bring to a boil, add maple syrup; reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Pour butter mixture over the yams, turning them over to coat well. Cover the yams tightly with aluminum foil and bake on center rack in oven, basting the potatoes with the butter syrup once or twice during the baking for about 45 minutes or until fork tender.

Cooks Note: If adding mini-marshmallows, spread them evenly over the top of the potatoes at this time, and broil for 5-10 minutes or until lightly browned, otherwise proceed with next step.

When the potatoes are done, remove foil. Bake on the upper third of the oven at 475°F until the syrup has thickened and the potatoes are just beginning to caramelize (about 2 minutes - but watch carefully and do not allow them to burn; if they are browning too quickly reduce oven temperature).

Baste with additional butter before serving.

Apple and Onion Stuffin Muffins


  • Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 fresh bay leaf, available in produce department
  • 4 ribs celery and greens, from the heart, chopped (save time and purchase celery already washed, trimmed and cut into sticks, this makes chopping fast work)
  • 1 medium to large yellow skinned onion, chopped
  • 3 McIntosh apples, quartered and chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 8 cups cubed stuffing mix (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken stock, available in paper containers on the soup aisle


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil to skillet and 4 tablespoons butter. When butter melts, add bay leaf and add the vegetables as you chop them, celery, onions then apples. Sprinkle the vegetables and apples with salt, pepper andpoultry seasoning. Cook 5 to 6 minutes to begin to soften vegetables and apples then add parsley and stuffing cubes to the pan and combine. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft but not wet.

Butter 12 muffin cups, 2 tins, liberally with remaining butter. Use an ice cream scoop to fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins. Remove the bay leaf as you scoop the stuffing when you come upon it. Bake until set and crisp on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove stuffin' muffins to a platter and serve hot or room temperature.

Maple Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter


  • 1 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 bunch fresh sage, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (12 to 14-pound) fresh turkey, giblets, neck, and liver discarded
  • 8 strips bacon
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons hot water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the top rack of the oven.

Put the butter and sage in a mixing bowl and mash with a fork or spoon until the sage is well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the turkey breast and slip the remaining seasoned butter under, massaging the breast meat as you go. Truss the bird by crossing the legs over one another and tying with a piece of kitchen twine. Shingle the bacon strips over the breast so it's totally covered. Put the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan, cover the turkey with aluminium foil, and place in the oven.

In a small bowl, stir the maple syrup with 2 tablespoons of hot water to thin. Roast the turkey for 2 hours, basting with the mapleglaze every 30 minutes. Continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F. The thigh juices will run clear when pricked with a knife, about 3 hours total (15 minutes per pound). About 1/2 hour before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil so that it can brown. When done take the turkey out of the oven and put the roasting pan on the stovetop. Transfer the turkey to a serving tray to rest at least 20 minutes before carving. Serve with Turkey Gravy

Friday, November 12, 2010

My dog Sydney

Sydney is an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix. She is the sweetest animal you will ever meet. I fell in love with her the second I saw her picture on the internet. She was in Cedar City, but when Scott and I saw her, we knew we had to get her. So he got in the car, almost right away, and picked her up from the animal shelter that night. I woke up to her cute little paws walking on the bed right next to me, and it was love at first sight. Most adorable thing I ever saw. See her as a baby here. Sydney became our first child at that point. We honestly treat her like a human, and I'm pretty sure she thinks she is. Some wonderful things about Sydney:

1. She loves everyone. Seriously. Even if your are clearly not a dog person and are not interested in her, she will do everything possible to get you to like her, and has succeeded more often then not with everyone she meets.
2. She is the softest and cutest cuddle bug. She loves to snuggle up with me when Scott leaves for work in the morning. I am never lonely.
3. She can open the door and come in when she is outside, and can shut the door. She is that smart.
4. We rarely have her on a leash, and we don't have a fenced yard, because she never runs away. She stays right by us when we take her on walks. She is completely obedient.
5. I have never had to tell her "no" to not chew on Carson's toys. She just knew they weren't hers from day one, even though they are constantly scattered all over the floor.
6. She looks after Carson like "Nanna" from Peter Pan. She comes to me if he starts crying and licks him or puts her paw on him to try to get him to stop crying. Any if I don't go right to Carson as soon as he starts crying, she looks at me like "Aren't you going to take care of him?" It's so cute.
7. She hardly ever barks. Only once when people come to the door, and then as soon as your in, she wants to be your best friend.
8. She licks you and cuddles you when you are sad or sick. She is really affected by your mood.
9. She looks after me and Carson when Scott leaves. Literally. She follows me everywhere.
10. She is very playful. Loves to be loved.
11. And when you want to just relax, she just relaxes with you. Very laid back.
12. She is very smart and learns tricks easily.
13. She chases deer and other animals out of our yard. She loves to guard her yard.
14. I used to be the ultimate cat person, but because of her, I am the ultimate dog person.

Sydney is my baby. She is a big part of our family. I hope she stays healthy and lives a long life, because I don't know how I will ever be able to let her go when the time comes. I have never met a dog like her. She has made my life so much better, and makes me happy when I am down. She loves me no matter what I do or say, or how I feel. She will always be there for me, waiting to be loved and to love me. How wonderful! We are truly blessed to have such a best friend :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Come on guys, make a meal

Since this is my blog, and I can post whatever I want and not apologize, then I am going to post about Thanksgiving.

I know life gets busy, and I know cooking really is time consuming and a hassle a lot of the time, but if there are 2 holidays that a home-cooked meal is appropriate, it's Thanksgiving and Christmas. Seriously, I am appauled when I hear of people that decide not to cook and go out to a restaurant on these holidays. Ugh. It's just so disgusting and lazy. Come on, 2 days out of the whole year you can cook a wonderful, wholesome meal and involve others in the process, and enjoy the yummy smells in your home and decorations that just light up your home. You can gather family and friends around YOUR dinner table and reap the benefits of your hard work. It means so much more when you work for something, and you appreciate it so much more. You also teach your children the value of hard work, rather than saying, "Oh mommy and daddy don't want to have to cook this year, cause it just takes too much time and effort, so we are just going out to eat." If it's a matter of time, I believe you need to set aside the extra time needed to have a home-cooked meal. Take and extra day off work. Plan AHEAD. If it's effort, don't do it all on one day, and get the kids or friends or other family members involved. I believe that the trend of families just going out to eat is another manifestation of the decay of our society. Everything has to be right here, right now, with the least amount of effort so we can get back to our computer, cell phone, video game, etc. We say we never have TIME. But the truth is, we do, we just choose to fill that time with other things, that are probably not as important. I'm sorry to those of you who have gone out to eat instead of cooked on these holidays if I have offended you, but again, this is my opinion, and I do not apologize for it. I just really feel strongly about this, and I had to say something. I encourage you all to put in the effort, the time, and to really reap what you sow, and it will pay off, and you will feel accomplished, and your kids will remember it, and learn a valuable lesson from you, I promise. IT'S WORTH IT!!

Monday, November 1, 2010


Just posted a new special on my massage blog if any of you are interested! Come follow me and see it here!