Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lemon Lush

Crust ingredients;
1-1/2 sticks margarine (softened)
1 cup Flour
1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

Layer 1 ingredients;
1- 8oz. Cream Cheese
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1-1/2 cups Cool Whip (buy large container, need more for top layer)

Layer 2 ingredients;
3 boxes instant Lemon Pudding
2-2/3 cups milk
1 Teaspoon Lemon Extract (can use Vanilla instead)

*Mix first 3 ingredients for crust. Pat firmly into 11x8x2 pan. Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Let cool.
*Mix next 3 ingredients for layer 1 & spread over the baked & cooled layer.
*Mix the ingredients for layer 2 ( It will become very thick) & spread over the top of layer 1.
* Spread the rest of the Cool Whip over the top. You can sprinkle with more chopped nuts if you like. Cut into squares & enjoy!

This recipe can be varied by using any flavor instant pudding you like & using the vanilla instead of lemon extract. It is a rich dessert, so smaller squares are better. A huge favorite!
I got this recipe from my friend, Sher Carlson when we were stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in upstate New York. We were there June 1987-October 1990. Great friends, great memories, great food!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rigatoni with Pumpkin & Bacon


Coarse salt
8 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, halved & thinly sliced
1 (3lb) cooking pumpkin, peeled, seeded, & cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1-1/2 cups chicken stock/broth
3 tablespoons heavy cream
freshly ground pepper ( I use white pepper)
1 pound Rigatoni pasta
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (plus extra to sprinkle on top when serving)
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted (for garnish, optional)

1.) Put water on to boil for pasta, add salt. While that is coming to a boil cook bacon in a large skillet on medium heat until bacon is almost crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels & let drain.

2.) Add onion to the skillet with the bacon grease. Cook until soft, 12-15 minutes. Add pumpkin, sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, & the allspice. Cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes. Add stock & cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low & simmer until pumpkin is soft & sauce has thickened slightly, about 25 minutes. Season with Pepper.

3.) While the sauce is simmering, add rigatoni to the boiling water & cook until aldente. (about 15 minutes) Drain pasta & add to sauce in skillet. Add the bacon back in & the parmesan. Toss to combine all ingredients. Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top. You may also garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Makes about 4 servings.

A Very Merry "Unbirthday"!

I'm backtracking a little, but wanted to share my birthday with ya'll. I have made a point of not celebrating my birthday since Kierra's death. It felt like a betrayal to celebrate without her. And wether rational or not, it felt wrong to have a birthday when she never will again. So that is my reasoning, good, bad, or indifferent. Brianne always gives me my card & gift ahead of time as an "unbirthday" thing.
This year I had a free pass to Disney for the day & Brian had a day left on his Disney pass from when we went in June. Brianne watched the kids so we could go overnight. I didn't really want to celebrate my birthday as much as I wanted to use it as an excuse to get Brian to spend some time with me! I was able to get a discounted room for the night so Brian & I went Saturday, checked in early, then went park hopping! We went to Animal Kingdom, rode on the Mount Everest Expedition, then left the park to go to the next one. Brian joked we were like Pandas.. Eats.. Shoots.. & Leaves, which is the tagline for an old joke I can't remember! So we "did the Panda" all day, rode all the grown up rides that we can't ride with the kids & off to the next park. There were a couple neither one of us had even been on before. When we rode Mission Space at Epcot Brian made jokes about it because I got to be the pilot & we crashlanded! He was more carefree & humorous than he has been in along time. On the trolley to one of the parks they tell you to please hold on to any "loose" belongings & he wrapped his arms around me. I didn't get what he was doing at first, then I playfully smacked him for being a smartalek!
We really enjoyed the one on one time. We talked about alot of things we don't seem to get to in our day to day lives. It was funny to notice the "texting teenagers" in the lines while we waited. There were 4 girls in front of us in one line who were texting to, & about, each other! Times sure have changed.
There were bittersweet moments too. Alexa had me wear her birthday girl pin & because I promised her I would, I wore it all day. So alot of people told me "Happy" Birthday. It was happier than previous ones in recent years, but it was still hard to be told that because it wasn't all happy. There were tearful moments too. It is not possible to go to places we went to with Kierra & not think of her, not remember how much she loved the thrilling roller coasters & rides, how she laughed out loud with a huge smile on her face. She didn't do anything halfway. But we cherish those memories & push the pain back just a bit further than we used to. It still comes, we still feel it, but you learn to take it in & channel it differently. You learn to catch yourself before the floodgates of tears open wide so it doesn't happen every time.
It was a hot day, we drank alot of water. At one stand I was digging through the ice looking for something cold when I came accross a giant pickle. The kids have always loved those so of course it reminded me of how much Kie loved them too. We bought it & shared it & really enjoyed it! It was ice cold & refreshing. It can be the littlest things sometimes that catch your heart off guard.
The parks weren't very busy & we didn't have many long lines. We hit all 4 parks & the only ride we missed was Space Mountain because it is still under renovation til November.
My birthday tends to be my starting point for the fall series of events that run through until the twin's birthday in February. Halloween, Anniversary of Kierra's death, Thanksgiving, Hunter's birthday, Christmas, New Year's, then the Twin's b-day Feb. 4th. I am not sure how we will handle all of that this year. I am not sure what kind of celebrations or memorials there will be. We will take them one at a time. It is good to be able to allow myself to celebrate & enjoy my birthday again. Maybe next year it won't have to be an "unbirthday", although I think it is a cute tradition for Bri & I to share now!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Autumn Stew (Post 900!)

1/4 cup all purpose Flour
1-1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1-1/2 pounds beef, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 Tablespoons oil
2 cups Water
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Spice
2 beef bouillion cubes
1 medium Onion, chopped
1- 14.5oz can Fire Roasted tomatoes w/ garlic
(or use stewed tomatoes & 1 clove minced garlic)

2-1/2 cups fresh pumpkin or hubbard (butternut) squash-peeled, seeded & cut into 1 inch cubes
3 medium potatoes, peeled & cut into 1 inch cubes

Mix flour, salt, paprika, & pepper. Coat beef pieces with flour mixture. Brown beef in 2 Tblsp oil in large pan or dutch oven. Stir in remaining ingredients, EXCEPT pumpkin & potatoes. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover & simmer until beef is tender; 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Stir in pumpkin & potatoes. Cover & simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Makes 6 servings; 325 calories per serving.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Alex, Alexa, & Tristan 10.5.09

Alex is thankfully back from Iraq! He came for a visit last week & we had the chance to take the twins to Universal in Orlando for 2 days. It was a good visit, but as always, too quick. Alex got to volunteer at the school for the day while he was here too. I posted some pix on the photo gallery, but have more to post. I am constantly running to catch up with everything!

Gone to the dogs!

Kids & Dogs 9.29.09
Originally uploaded by mommanana
We went through a rough patch with Cali when Chad left for the Army. We thought another home would be better for her. It wasn't and we got her back. I had been thinking of getting another dog to be her companion, but Brian wasn't so keen on another big dog. I turned down numerous offerings of other dogs & wasn't really looking. Then along came Callie.. yes another Cali/Callie! I happened upon a posting about her & it was all meant to be. Her family raised her & trained her well. They were unable to keep her & needed to find her a new home. Lucky us! Callie-Hanna (on right) is a 4 yr old Harlequin Great Dane. She is about 15lbs overweight so our twice daily walks will do her good! It has been like she was always here, Cali loves it & they are best buds. So now we are a 2-dane family!