Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mid-Week Randomness

 1. Oh mercy me it is seriously so very cold outside, I don’t think I have felt my toes in nearly a week. I understand we are moving towards winter I live in the mid-west this is kind of what happens. But for real I wasn’t prepared for this, one day I was running outside and the next I was reaching for my cuddle duds, hats, gloves, and every blanket in site. Speaking of hats check the new one I purchased last weekend. Little known fact about me I love hats, ok so maybe not so little known. You will not see me in the winter without a hat on! This one just spoke to me. The hubs said if it makes you happy, my dad asked if I bought in from 1972. They truly are my most supportive people.

2. I know I say this each and every year but does it seem like we are skipping over Thanksgiving even more this year. All I hear people talk about is Christmas, which I love, but Thanksgiving is my favorite! Even I have already starting preparing for Christmas, this is not normal! Anyone else feel this way?

3. Here are a few photos I had on my phone today my child and the hubs are absolutely the biggest goofballs when they are together. And the second picture, she loves our local grocery store! She loves everything about it begs me to just go there instead of any other store! So here she was shopping the other night.

4. We are headed to see a friend with a new baby today, I am so excited. We shall see how this goes with Charlot, she isn't much of a baby person. She even told me after having lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago, who has a 15 month old, that that baby touched her and she didn't like that. I’ll just go ahead and apologize to the Monnig family now.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake

Cheesecake may just be the perfect holiday dessert! Why might you ask? Well basically because I said so. But also because this one isn’t super sweet so after the heavy meal it is just the right amount. Plus you can make it even more decadent if you choose by making a chocolate or caramel sauce, or maybe even a cranberry sauce. Oh man I am making myself want some of this stuff. And in addition to those great things cheesecake needs to season in the fridge so making it a day before is necessary and two days is even better. Freeing your time and oven up for other things the day of the main event!

Now I have never been a huge cheesecake fan other than when on a rare occasion we would go to the Cheesecake Factory. I love their cheesecakes, oh the variety! I would always try to recreate theirs and something was always off. Until a friend gave this recipe to me and I worked with it until perfection was achieved. Again this is just a base recipe, feel free to add toppings or stir in you flavors of choice. This recipe adapts very well to being creative! I am thinking chocolate chips, or pumpkin, or possibly apples and caramel! 

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake

½ cup of each finely chopped pecans, almonds, and walnuts
2 cups finely chopped vanilla wafer
3 TBSP Salted Butter Melted
In a food processor grind all ingredients and add melted butter pulse together until the mixture looks like wet sand. Pour mixture into a 9 inch round spring form pan, press into the bottom and bring up the sides. This will be a rather thick crust. Set aside.

1 ½ lbs cream cheese (full fat)
1 1/3 cup Sugar
5 Large Eggs
16 oz Sour Cream
¼ Cup Flour
2 teaspoons Vanilla
½ lemon (zest and juice)
It is very important that all these ingredients are at room temperature; this will help make a smooth and silky final product.  In a stand mixer beat your cream cheese with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy gradually adding in the sugar. You need to keep your stand mixer on medium to low through the entire mixing process. Add eggs one at a time making sure each one fully incorporates before adding the next. Add flour, vanilla, lemon juice and zest mix well. The last thing you should add is the sour cream, stir until combined. Pour mixture on to crust.

Oven should be pre-heated to 325 degrees. Place a small pan of water on the lowest shelf in the oven. Before placing spring form pan in the oven wrap the bottom with aluminum foil. Place pan on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When baking is complete, turn the oven off and prop open the oven door for at least 1 addition hour. After this hour take cake out and place in refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day

There have been many very heartfelt and moving posts today thankng our veterans for all they have done. I am not certain there is much else I can say that will offer a different perspective. What I can tell you about is how we celebrated/honored in our home. On Monday night Charlot and made a few cards for some veterans I work with. During the card making I took the time to explain to her that we don't get to live safely in this country without cost. I wrote the words on the cards and asked her to color the flag, I thought she did amazing. In addition to the cards we made a sweet video for my uncle thanking him for his service, he just retired from a long career with the United States Navy. 
I am very proud to be an American and I wish that we would celebrate the price our vets paid more frequently! We also bought our veteran a warm coffee which was really needed on this cold morning. Thank you veterans for all you do, past, present, and future.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pasta E Fagioli (My Olive Garden Version)

This warm hearty Italian Vegetable soup is one I fell in love with many years ago while dining at Olive Garden. I had never really tried making it I just assumed it was to be left for the pros. Boy was I wrong! This soup was super easy to make and in my opinion a bit better than the restaurant version. I did change it up and bit and added a few more veggies than the original I thought it only enhanced the flavor.

Even though it is a beautiful day out today, the polar vortex is heading our way tomorrow, BURRRRR! As warm and hearty as it is the soup is also pretty darn healthy considering it is chalked to the gills with veggies! This would make a prefect supper for you and yours. I made it on the stove top but I am pretty certain that you could use your slow cooker as well. If using that method just brown and drain your sausage ahead of time and throw it and everything minus the pasta and beans, in the crock pot cook on low all day. Then in the last 15-20 minutes add in your beans and pasta just too warm through. Oh I can only imagine how marvelous your house would smell with this cooking all day! Yummy! Please enjoy!  

Married with Pigs Version of Olive Garden’s Pasta E Fagioli Soup
1 cup ditalini pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup Kale torn into small pieces
3 cups Vegetable Broth (Chicken would be fine)
1 (16-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 ½ tsp Italian Seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add Italian sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat and set aside.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Stir in garlic, onion, carrots, parsnips and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Whisk in broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, Italian Seasoning, Italian sausage, and Kale plus 1 cup water; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Stir in pasta and beans until heated through.
Serve immediately. I suggest topping with a bit of parmesan cheese and serving a lovely grilled cheese alongside!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What have we've been up too…

Busy weeks can really take it out of you!
It has been a busy couple of weeks at the homestead. Between Halloween and one of my craziest times at work we have been seeing ourselves coming and going. I wanted to catch you guys up on some of the going ons. 

For couple of years now my momma has hosted a pumpkin carving night at her house shortly before Halloween. Every year this becomes more and more fun. We all carve our own pumpkin and each person’s unique creativity shines. This year was no different an absolute ball was had by all. Well my dad may disagree due to Charlot picking quite a difficult design for him to carve, it was just a pirate ship no biggie right? I love these times we can be together I hope my momma continues this tradition with all of us. 

Halloween was so much fun this year, cold but fun! Charlot chose to be Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. The costume was actually pretty easy to pull together and bonus it was an easy in and out of the car seat costume. We did a little trick or treating prior to the big night to make sure family that didn’t live here could see our little pirate. And during one of these outings the little miss asked “Momma what are you going to be for Halloween?” Of course I hadn’t planned on dressing up but knew that if she wanted me to I would put together something. “Well sweetie what do you want momma to be for Halloween?” “Hum a pirate like me! You can use my hook hand.” So a pirate I was. It was so much fun dressing up with her, she got total kick out of it and I am looking forward to next year maybe I’ll get the hubs costumed up as well!

This little token is what I woke up to Saturday after Halloween. My MIL gave Charlot this microphone for Halloween and she has been belting out Frozen songs since. I thought I would get annoyed really quick with it, but I find it super cute and hilarious all at the same time!

Saturday the Hubs and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. It really doesn't seem like we have been married that long but it is true. To close out the blog today I just want him to know how thankful I am that Charlot and I have him. Hubs you are a Christian man with an incredibly strong work ethic and drive to make our lives better. Thank you for all you do! I don’t think he reads my blog so if you see him you might let me know! Have a great rest of your week!