Monthly Archives: September 2009

Adulthood: Everything you ever wanted and more

Do you remember how when you were a kid you so badly wanted to be an adult because adults get to do whatever they want?

You’re laughing, but I’m serious.

It IS true, to some extent, right? I mean, I do get to stay up as late as I want and eat what I want and really, nobody tells me what to do. Sure, there are bosses who have demands and officers of the law who say I can’t go that fast but for all intent and purposes, I do want I want to do.

Unfortunately, it comes with a price. Because along with being able to do what I want to do are responsibilities exponentially greater than my leisure allows. So when I spend too much time doing what I want to do, all those responsibilities are still there, waiting for me.

And now you’re wondering what my point is because you already know all this.

I think I’m having a “mid life crisis”. Or an existential crisis. Or maybe just a really hard dose of reality.

I didn’t sow many oats in high school and college. I was a “good kid”, kept my nose clean, etc. And what I did sow I kept to myself and tried to not be caught. But in the past few years, I’ve found myself sowing some of those oats left in the bag. And this year, in particular, I’ve been railing against the tension of doing what I want to do and doing what I have to do.

Is this what they meant when the said it’s not all it’s cracked up to be? Probably. So here I am stuck between the thrill and the bondage of freedom. Remembering my 15 year old self who couldn’t wait to be older and living with my 35 year old self that can’t seem to accept the truth.

One foot in Neverland, the other in comfortable shoe, ready to take on the world.

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Butternut Squash Lasagna

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I have never, ever* made anything with butternut squash. In fact, I’ve never really been a “squash person” so to speak. Well, except for zucchini. I heart zucchini!

Our experience with the CSA has yielded lots and lots and lots of squash. Over the summer it was various summer squashes and now that we’re entering fall, it’s fall squashes like acorn and sweet dumpling and butternut. I roasted a sweet dumpling squash a few weeks ago that smelled and looked (once cut open) exactly like pumpkin. It had a very sweet, pleasant, squash-y taste but I was not enamored with the texture.

Last week, I picked up a butternut squash. My first inclination was to make soup. But then through a discussion on Facebook, my sister mentioned something about lasagna. That was rather intriguing. So, to the Internet I went! I perused several recipes until I found this one on RecipeZaar. (btw, great site for recipes!) Two things caught my eye about this recipe. First, the use of swiss chard (which I also had on hand from the CSA) and second, the white sauce which sounded much yummier than a tomato sauce.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1 large butternut squash, about 3 lbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (1 extra large onion)
  • 1 1/2 lbs swiss chard, chopped,tough stems discarded
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground dried sage
  • 4 cups milk (2% is fine)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I used 2 cups because IMHO, lasagna should be really cheesy!)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped green onions (I omitted because I did not have any on hand.)

butternutcollage

Directions

Take the butternut squash and peel, seed, and cut it into 1/2-inch chunks.

Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash chunks with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then place the chunks in a single layer on a large cookie sheet.

Roast the squash chunks for 30 minutes or until they’re easily pierced with a fork, stirring after 15 minutes.

Remove chunks from the oven and mash squash with a food processor (or fork or potato masher) until almost smooth; set aside. (I think the squash needs a tad more seasoning, maybe some more salt or a spice or herb to add a bit more flavor. We found it to be a bit bland done this way.)

Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, over medium heat melt together the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until golden, stirring often; add the Swiss chard and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the chard is wilted and the liquid evaporates, which will take about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, pepper, garlic salt, nutmeg, thyme, and sage and cook for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth and cook the sauce over medium-high heat until it boils and thickens slightly, stirring frequently. Boil for an additional 2 minutes while stirring, then whisk in all but 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Remove the saucepan from heat.

In a 13″ x 9″ glass lasagna pan, spoon about 1/2 cup of the white sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Arrange 4 cooked lasagna noodles over the sauce, overlapping to fit; evenly spread all of the Swiss chard mixture over the noodles, top with about 1 cup white sauce, and sprinkle with about a 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles on top, then about 1 cup white sauce and all butternut squash chunks, then a 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. Top with remaining lasagna noodles, remaining white sauce, sprinkle with the chopped green onions and the remaining mozzarella cheese; sprinkle with the reserved 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.

Cover the lasagna pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until hot and bubbly; let lasagna cool for 10 minutes before cutting, for easier serving.

butternutlasagna

I won’t lie, this dish took a really long time to make but you know what? It was SO worth it!

*OK, that’s partially untrue. I did assist my sister with the making of a butternut squash soup once. But it wasn’t a recipe initiated by me or consumed by me or my family.

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An album review with a life lesson attached

In my less than stellar moments as a parent, I wallow in being unappreciated. Don’t my children know what I do for them? Don’t they realize that without me these things wouldn’t get done? Why must I tell them to pick up their shoes everyday and why must I answer the same questions over and over again?

I have to be careful and not let selfishness get the best of me. Living in the messy, exhausting day to day of life often robs me of perspective. They don’t need to see how they are blessed by me, I need to see how I am blessed by them. They are awesome. They take my breath away. They are precious and perfect and they bring such joy and happiness to my life.

Remembering that is what brings me to tears every time I hear the song “Ghandi/Buddha” on Kenny Loggins‘s new album, All Join In. While I disagree with the theology behind the song (past life karma), the sentiment of our children being so wonderful and getting to have them in our lives is a powerful message.

KENNY_COVER_FINALA few of weeks ago, One2One Network provided me with a pre-release copy of Loggins’s new album in exchange for giving them feedback. When I took their survey, they asked if I’d like to be able to offer downloads of songs to my readers. And guess what? I get to offer you downloads for 4 songs from the All Join In album! In addition to “Ghandi/Buddha”, you can get “All Together Now”, “There Is A Mountain” and “Your Lollipop”.

All Join In is a new children’s album from Kenny Loggins. But you know what? You’ll like it as much, if not more, than your kids!

The album includes fresh, creative takes of classics: The Beatles’ “All Together Now” and “Two of Us” (the latter being his first studio recording in decades with Jim Messina), Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, the Dell Vikings’ 1950’s classic “Come Go With Me, “Traffic’s “You Can All Join In” (appropriately joined by the song’s writer and former Traffic member, Dave Mason) and Donovan’s 1960’s classic “There Is a Mountain.”

I keep this CD in my car and play it often. GMan especially enjoys it and has specifically requested that I play it.

So how do you get the songs? It’s fairly simple. Follow this link. Listen to the songs, answer a short survey and an e-mail will be sent to you with a link for the downloads. I hope you enjoy the songs!

Follow Kenny on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook

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Coming into focus

Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures.* When I have the camera in front of me, I’m focused on focusing. I’m looking for the best angle, I’m fussing over lighting and I’m focused on capturing the image in front of me.

Focus.

I put the camera down and my life becomes blurred. What do I focus on next. Do I: Write? Clean the kitchen? Tweet? Fold laundry? Update Facebook? Run errands? Read blogs? Make phone calls? Send e-mails? Prepare and cook the next meal? Look for a job? Do housework?

Endless possibilities and responsibilities. I’m having a very hard time focusing. Too much is forgotten, neglected…dismissed, unfocused…blurred.

When I try to focus on the tasks at hand, I’m overwhelmed. When I try and step back to look at the big picture and gain perspective, I’m even more overwhelmed. Caught between what I desire to do and what is desired of me. Wrestling between what I used to believe and what I now believe. Balancing motherhood and womanhood. Coming to terms with life and mortality and forever.

Wanting everything to come into…focus.

whitetuberose

*I’m working on a year long project with Blissfully Domestic that involves taking at least one photo a day and posting it to a Flickr group. Our official start date is October 1, if you’d like to join us.

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Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie

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There are several dishes that I make every year that announce the arrival of Autumn. One of them is crunchy caramel apple pie. I get entirely too much credit for this dish but that’s because it’s just so amazingly yummy!

I came across this pie recipe a several years ago while watching Good Morning America. Emeril Lagasse was hosting an “Apple Pie of Emeril’s Eye” contest. People from all over submitted apple pie recipes that were judged by Emeril. This particular apple pie was the winning recipe.

I had not been much of a pie maker before encountering this recipe. Cookies, brownies, cakes, banana/pumpkin bread, etc were where my baking talents had been focused. But this pie sounded rather appealing and really not all that difficult to make. The woman who submitted the recipe even said that she usually used store bought crust! I was all over that (well until recently!) I printed off the recipe and gave it a go. And I’ve never looked at another apple recipe!

The recipe combines the best of apple pie and apple crisp. In fact, when I don’t have (or don’t want to make) pie crust, it easily adapts into a crisp (just put in a baking dish instead of a pie shell.) It’s crowning glory are the pecans and drizzled caramel that are added just after taking the pie/crisp out of the oven. I always, always get compliments when I make this pie. There are even some members of our Life Group who specifically request that I make this pie for our Life Group Thanksgiving meal.

Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 pastry crust for a deep-dish pie, 9-inch (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 6 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (Golden delicious, fuji, gala and granny smith, alone or in combination, make great pies. I generally use what I have on hand.)
  • 1 recipe crumb topping (see below)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup caramel topping (I use Smuckers caramel ice cream topping)

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup butter

Directions for Crumb Topping:

  1. Stir together brown sugar, flour and oats.
  2. Cut in butter until topping is like course crumbs. Set aside.

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Add apple slices and gently toss until coated.
  3. Transfer apple mixture to the pie shell.
  4. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture
  5. Place pie on a cookie sheet so the drippings don’t drop into your oven.
  6. Cover edges of pie with aluminum foil.
  7. Bake in a preheated 375 oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and put back in for another 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven. Sprinkle pie with chopped pecans then drizzle with caramel.
  9. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy warm or at room temp. (Even better with vanilla ice cream!)

applecrisp

This is a terrible picture but it’s all I have! I made this yesterday for Life Group but completely forgot the nuts and caramel topping. It was still tonguegasmic!!

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Mudprints

Over the summer, the kids got the idea to put their muddy handprints on the garage door. It was cute and harmless. But then one of them (and I’m sure you can guess which one) just couldn’t get enough of leaving muddy handprints:
handprint collage

I’m not sure whether to be amused…or disturbed!

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Mr. Leeson’s Revenge

PhotobucketWhen DB was younger, he and his family used to go out the farm of a family friend, Mr. Leeson. They had all sorts of fun and frivolity at Mr. Leeson’s farm but one thing in particular that DB and his brothers remember is the pineapple sherbet that Mr. Leeson would make. After doing some recipe searches on the Internet, DB found what looked to be, if not THE recipe, a very similar recipe to Mr. Leeson’s.

Last Sunday evening we had an ice cream social at church and David wanted to make that recipe. We thought it would be interesting to give it a little twist. I remembered that last year, the Las Paletas ladies had a “throw down” with Bobby Flay. The winning paletas recipe (courtesy of the Las Paletas team) was hot pepper pineapple. With that in mind, we added red cayenne pepper to the pineapple sherbet recipe.

The taste was….interesting. Part of the peculiar taste comes from the pineapple sherbet itself. This recipe is not really like what you buy from the grocery store. It’s made with buttermilk, so it has a kind of sweet/sour taste to it. The pepper pretty much just added heat. The key, really, is to add just enough pepper so that you get that back of throat spicy sensation without changing the flavor of the ice cream.

DB found this recipe on Cooks.com:

6 c. buttermilk
2 c. sugar
1 (1 lb. 4 oz.) can crushed pineapple
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites, beaten

Combine buttermilk, sugar, pineapple, lemon juice, and salt. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour into ice cream freezer and freeze.

To make it “special” add red cayenne pepper to the mix after it comes out of the ice cream freezer. This way you can taste test to adjust. Start with 1/2 a teaspoon and add in small amounts from there. Don’t be tempted to add too much if you like things spicier, you really will compromise the taste of ice cream. You want the sweet of pineapple, the sour of the buttermilk and then the heat of pepper to hit you after you’ve had a bite or two.

Last week, I teased at the end of the basil ice cream post saying that this week’s MM would be Kilauea Hala Kahiki Sherbet. That’s kind of a mouthful. And, you may be wondering what it even means! Kilauea is a volcano in Hawaii (hence the heat aspect of the confection) and hala kahiki is Hawaiian for pineapple.  But after more consideration, I believe this version of pineapple sherbet is best named, Mr. Leeson’ Revenge.

sherbet

If you look closely at the “revenge” scoop, you can just make out the red flecks of pepper.

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