Thanksgiving Thanksgiving!!!

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It's here, it's here.  I have been planning for weeks and prepping for days and I am very excited to see everything come together (hopefully smoothly) this afternoon.
I know I have said this before but, planning and prepping is really my favorite part of hosting any event.
I take a lot of time in setting the table, pulling out all of the pretty serve ware, planning the menu and then pulling it all together.

I am trying a few new recipes this year.  If they get the thumbs up from the family I'll post them.

This is what is on our menu this year.


Roasted Turkey with Pan Gravy
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce (Mike is making this, he is not a fan of turkey and wanted another protein)
Homestyle Mashed Potato's
Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Fresh Green Bean Bake
Savory Stuffing
Creamed Corn Bread Casserole
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Deviled Eggs
Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Pie with Cool Whip
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Cookies


For the Table Setting I am using our China, the pretty fall napkins my mom handed down to me, and stemless wine glasses.  I made the burlap runner, the place cards and the mini menu's on each plate.  I also have table conversation cards that I think will be fun to discuss.  They are light hearted questions like "what was your favorite childhood toy."  I don't know if the family will be up for doing those so we will see.

The kids table for my daughter and niece is all decked out with fun fall kid activities.  I have a wood hanging ornament for them to color.  A color page place mat.  Markers and a my lil Pony horse for each of them.  I also have special Thanksgiving plates for each of them.











Loaded Potato Soup Recipe

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As I have said before we really enjoy soup and eat it about every week. 
When I am making our meal plans for the week I always ask everyone if they would like anything special.  Evelyn said she wanted potato soup.  So I put it on the menu.  Well for the next 4 days she asked if I could make potato soup.  
So, when she had school on Monday I set out to prep the soup.  Now I also love potato soup but, it is a lot of work to make.  You have to peal all the potatoes, chop them all, cook them ahead of time and mash them.  All that just for the potatoes.  There are still many other parts to the soup but, when it is all done it is worth it.  
When dinner time came I was excited to give her big ol bowl of potato soup, that she had been so persistently asking for.  I give her her bowl and what do you think she said??? "Why isn't it red mom"
AHHHH, she wanted TOMATO soup.  Ha ha.  So, I opened a can of Campbells tomato soup, heated it up and she was just as happy as can be.  
3 hours and 3 pounds of Potato Soup later, the rest of the family ate it for the next 2 days.  

I found the recipe on Pinterest from The Red Apron Girl recipes.  

Here is the Link.  

Loaded Potato Soup
Ingredients
1 lb bacon. chopped and cooked
1 onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp flour
4 cups chicken broth
3 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces (about ¼ inch pieces)
2 cups shredded cheese
½ cup half and half (can use heavy cream)
green onions
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
First Boil potatoes in a large pot until fork tender.  While potatoes are boiling, saute onion for about 8 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute for a couple more minutes.  Add flour and cook for 1 minute, then slowly add in 1 cup chicken broth while scraping side of pan.  Add in remaining chicken broth and simmer.  Add cheese into soup until melted.  Once potatoes are done,drain and rough mash with potato masher.
Add potatoes to cheese and soup mixture.  Add half and half and let cook for about 5 minutes.
Serve and top with bacon, green onions, and grated cheese

Meal Planning

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Since Thanksgiving is this week (yay!) I made this week's menu easy.

Tuscan Bean Soup with Cornmeal Grilled Cheese Waffles

Marinated Chicken with salad, green beans and cous cous (we are having this 2 times.

That's it.  I will post the recipe for the soup and the waffles next week.  Now on to more Thanksgiving prepping.

Let's Talk Holidays

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The Holidays are arriving and I couldn't be more excited.  This year we get the honor of hosting my side of the family for Thanksgiving.  We also get to host Mike's side for the family Christmas party and then my family for Christmas Eve.
My head is spinning and my Pinterest is overwhelmed with all of the fun ideas I have.  Decorating, food and entertainment.  So so many choices to be made.
Thanksgiving is first up.  I have already finished setting up the dinning room.  We put the leaf in the table for the first time to accommodate everyone.  I also went to Hobby Lobby and picked up some new fall decorations.  The menu is set too.  I hope everything tastes as good as all of the recipes sound.
For Christmas, Mike's side of the family has the same traditions each year.  Everyone has their few dishes that they bring.  It is more of a buffet style where everyone just eats where ever, when ever all the food is done.  I am looking forward to Busha's perogies and Aunt Sharon's Cookies.  
We also do a gender gift exchange.  So each adult brings a gender neutral gift in the $25 range, then we draw numbers to pick and get to trade each gift 2 times.  It is really fun.  Everyone comes up with great ideas and the gifts are so fun because they are all a little unique.  The kids each exchange names and get to open theirs then too.
This is my first year hosting my family for Christmas Eve.  My parents may be moving in the next year or so and since we have kids and my brother and sister in law live pretty close with their two kids it will be easier to have it at our house.  I am so excited to start new traditions with the kids.  Gifts have never been the center of the holidays for Mike and I since we got married.  I want that to be the same for my kids too.  I am hoping to start a gift exchange with the adults this year and then everyone just getting the kids gifts.  We have everything we need and I want the holidays to be about traditions and special fun with the family.  
Evelyn has been on countdown to see her Grandma and Poppa for the past 3 days.  So I know she is going to really enjoy the extra family time with them over the holidays.
This year we are going to take the kids to a light show.  I really think they are going to like that.  There are a couple to choose from.  One is at the Zoo where we have to walk.  That might be too cold for Jack so another option is one that we drive through.
I also want to start a new tradition on Christmas Eve where the girls get to bake cookies with Grandma to leave out for Santa that night.  My mom happens to be a great baker and has some delicious cookie recipes that I need to learn to make.
So much fun planning on my to do list.  Bring it on Holidays, I am ready!!!

Cheers!

Weekend Plans

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I am getting my hair cut and colored on Saturday and it really needs to be done.  I want to find a new style but I had it cut shorter last time and didn't really like it.  I like that my hair goes a bit wavy if I don't do anything to it but, I don't like that it is so heavy and thick that I get headaches when I wear it up.
I am going to look today and maybe I will find a new style.
That is what I am doing in the morning and then in the afternoon we are having some friends over for some kid play time and probably watching some football.  I haven't decided what I want to cook yet but I am thinking about some small plates and dips.
Sunday I need to work the craft table at church and I hope to grocery shop and pre plan everything for Thanksgiving.  I finished the table set up already and just need to finish the kids table.  I have the menu set too and am hopeful that everything turns out because I am trying a couple new recipes.
Other than that I expect to do some relaxing and enjoying staying inside since ti is so cold out.


New shoes for Evelyn

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We went shopping yesterday for boots for Evelyn.  It is snowing here in Michigan and the kids are wanting to play outside so I need to get them equipped to do that.
We headed to the mall and unfortunately didn't find anything.  Well, I should rephrase that, we found boots but nothing Evelyn liked.  She is only 3 but already has a strong opinion on what she wants to wear.
I don't argue with it most of the time.  I am sure some parents give me the side eye when she has one of her crazy, non matching, colorful outfits on but my thought is, she is clean, her hair is done and she just loves her own fashion.
Along those lines she found shoes that she just had to have.  Her first tie up shoes actually.  She choose Hello Kitty high tops.  They are full of glitter and she just loves them.
Here are a few pictures of her modeling them.  We still have to get her boots.  She wants princess ones so we will see what she chooses.  I have a feeling they are going to be a bit over the top.  Oh, my girl Evelyn.  A 3 year old with her own unique sense of style.





Some things can wait

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"Cleaning and scrubbing can wait 'til tomorrow
For babies grow up we've learned to our sorrow,
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep
I'm rocking my baby, and babies don't keep"

-anonymous





Just can't get enough of these two!

Meal Planning

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So 2 weeks ago I attempted to meal plan for 2 weeks instead of for 1.  My thought was that I would save time and money by not going to the store as often.  In theory this seemed great for me.
I spent over an hour on the planning day.  I printed a menu and all of the recipes.  I made a very detailed grocery list.  I even planned out lunches and snacks.
Then I went grocery shopping.  I spent almost 2 weeks budget leaving some left to pick up more milk and fresh produce later.
The first week went great.  I stuck to the menu and having the recipes printed out saved time when I started cooking.  I had all of the ingredients for everything and it went smoothly.
The second week is when I started to have problems.  I had to go to the store to pick up some more fresh things.  Then I ended up changing my mind on some meals because by the time the day came to make it I decided I wasn't in the mood for it.  So then I headed back to the store to pick up a few more things.
Over all I ended up spending more and spent more time at the store.  I am sure this works for some people but since I tend to cook what sounds good I think planning week by week works better for us. As the kids get older though going to the store with them gets easier so I am just going to continue to meal plan weekly and try to stick to the menu.

This week we have planned:

Loaded Baked Potato Soup with Cesar salad

Skinny Chicken Parmesan with Zucchini Noodles

Turkey Enchilada's with a Garden Salad

Chicken Pizza Sliders with bacon green beans

Quick meal- Rotisserie chicken with sides

Weekend Plans

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Family Fun is what this weekend is all about.

Tonight we are hanging out and get take out for dinner.

Tomorrow we are going to the zoo.  I am really looking forward to taking the kids.  We have taken them for the past 3 years and every year they enjoy it more and more.  Last year Jack was still really little so I think he is really going to like it this year.  After the circus we will probably head back home, hopefully get both kids to rest and then watch some football and cook some yummy food.

Sunday we have a birthday party for a friends son.  It is an indoor pool party and I know that the kids are going to have a great time.  I am sure we will all be tired when we leave and since the party is right at Jack's nap time I foresee an early bedtime for everyone.

What are you all up to this weekend?  

Cheese bread recipe

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Anyone that knows me knows that I very rarely stick to a recipe completely.  Half way through cooking something I am already thinking of changes that I would make and usually end up altering the recipe somehow.  Well, this is not true when it comes to delicious cheese bread.  I did not make one change, followed the entire recipe completely and well, it was amazing.  It is a keeper and will be made over and over again.

The Pioneer Woman is my favorite cooks and I have 2 of her cook books.  I have made a lot of her recipes and have never had one that I didn't like.

So, here is the link to this amazing Garlic Cheese bread.  I highly suggest going to the store right now and getting everything to make it.

Yum!!!


For the full recipe and lots of great pictures go here  Pioneer Woman Garlic Cheese Bread

I also copied and pasted the recipe below.




Ingredients

  • 3-1/2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup (Real) Mayonnaise
  • 4 whole Green Onions, White And Light Green Parts Minced
  • 1 dash Salt
  • 1 loaf Crusty French Bread
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced 
Instructions
Mix cheeses with the mayonnaise and the green onions. Add dash of salt to taste and set aside or keep in fridge until you need it.
Cut loaf of bread in half, then each half into half again.
Working 1/4 loaf at a time, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet and add 1/4 of the minced garlic. Place 1 of the 1/4 loaves face down in the skillet, swirling it to soak up the butter and garlic. Allow bread to toast in the skillet, removing garlic if it starts to get too brown.
Repeat with remaining butter, garlic, and bread.
Spread cheese mixture on warm loaves and bake in a 425 degree oven until cheese is hot and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.

Cheers!


Crab Cakes and a quick Remoulade

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I am a huge huge fan of crab cakes.  I also love crab legs but I actually prefer crab cakes.
This is a simple crab cake recipe and a super super easy remoulade that is made with everything you probably already have in your refrigerator.


Crab Cakes

1 pound of canned crab, well drained and picked through
8 Ritz crackers, crushed well
2 Eggs
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
Salt to taste
pinch of old bay seasoning
Panko bread crumbs


Quick Remoulade

1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1 teaspoon relish
1 teaspoon relish
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon prepared hot horseradish
a few dashes of hot sauce
a few drops of lemon or lime juice
sprinkle of paprika


For the crab cakes.  Mix everything together accept the Panko bread crumbs.  Take the Panko bread crumbs and put a thin layer on a sheet pan.  Use a scoop or big spoon to make the crab into cakes.   I like to first put them in a ball and then flatten them out.  Put them right no the cookie sheet with the Panko bread crumbs.  Then sprinkle more Panko on the top of them to make a thin layer over the whole crab cake.
Let them set in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so.
While the crab cakes are setting up make the Remoulade by mixing everything together in a small bowl.

After the crab cakes are set heat a pan with a some oil.  Saute the crab cakes on both sides until they are brown.
Serve with the remoulade either on top of on the side.




I made 8 crab cakes with this recipe and I ate 3 by myself.  Oops.  They are really that good.

Enjoy.

Cheers!



Meal Planning Monday

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So, I said last week that I was going to try to meal plan for 2 weeks.  A week into it and I have to say it is working.  It was so nice to not have to spend all morning yesterday meal planning and then heading to the grocery store in the afternoon to shop.  I did stop by the store on Saturday morning to pick up a few things.  I had to get more fruit and fresh vegetables and more milk.  Other than that I should be good to make all our meals again this week.

This is what we have planned.

Chicken taquito's with Salad
Enchilada's made with ground turkey, black beans and corn with Cucumbers and Tomato's
Five Spice Cream Cheese Chicken with Salad
Breakfast- Eggs and Bacon
Take out





Sunday Funday

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We spent a much needed relaxing day at home. Jack has been sick with a cold and his little nose is so runny. 

He took a good long nap this afternoon and the rest of us hung out coloring and watching football. 

We also made some yummy food and had afternoon bloody marys.  










Weekend plans

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Today we had some friends over and spent the day playing with the kids and eating good food. Football was on of course but I didn't do much watching. My favorite thing we ate was the sliders that Mike made. He replicated a White Castle cheeseburger slider. They turned out great. 

We also had steamed king crab legs, bacon wrapped shrimp, juicy Lucy sliders and crab cakes. Our friends, who are Ohio State fans, brought over buckeyes. They were so good and so sweet. 

The games are still going on but I'm heading up to bed with Evelyn. I'm tired and we have a busy day tomorrow. We have a baptism in the afternoon and then I have to meet with our renters and do some house stuff. 

I'm hoping to fit in a trip to the grocery store just to pick up some fruit. Hope everyone has a great weekend. 

Just a reminder that tomorrows the last day for the blog sale and there are only a few things left. Leave me a message if you have any questions or are interested in purchasing anything.  

BLOG SALE

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 I have tons of things that are now in neat, organized bins stacked in the basement.  I have started going through all of them to sell what I do not need.

I've never had a blog sale because I usually sell on EBay but, I thought I would give my readers a chance to purchase before I post on EBay and they go up for bid.

I will leave these for sale here until Monday and then I will be putting whatever doesn't sell on EBay.

Accepted forms of payment will be checks (from friends) or Pay pal.  All prices include shipping.  I can also provide more pictures, just email me at xtinapilkington@gmail.com and I will send more over.  

To purchase just leave a comment with your email address and I will send an invoice.

New, fully prepped (with Tiny Bubbles Detergent) Flip Organic Night time inserts.  Individually $9 All 3 for $25

Kissaluvs Fitted Cotton Fitted Cloth Diaper size 1 (I am not sure if this was used but, it has been fully prepped with Tiny Bubbles Detergent) $9

Flip Covers.  2 light pink and 1 dark pink.  Individually $8, All 3 for $22

Baby Gap Jeans.  Size 2t.  $10

New with tags Baby Gap Birthday Girl long sleeve tshirt. Size 2t.  $6

Old Navy Vest.  Size 3T   $8

Puma sweatshirt Jacket.  Size 18-24 month.  $8

Columbia snow suit size 18 months.  This was tried on but never worn.  $45

Columbia Winter coat.  Size 18 months  $30

Maya Ring Sling Wrap Size Small.  Black.  $50

Columbia Fleece Jacket.  Pink with a brown heart on the front.  Size 18 months.  $15

Girls coat.  Fuzzy hood and on the inside.  Crazy 8 brand.  Size 18-24 months.  $10

Girls top.  Xsmall 4/5 (fits more like a 4t).  Cherokee brand.  $4


Lot (2) of Boys onsies.  New with tags.  0-3 months and 3 months.  $4

Lot (4)of Girls onsies.  New with Tags.  0-3 months $7


Lot of Girls onsies.  New with Tags.  3-6 months, 6-9 months.  $7

Mini meals

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I haven't posted pictures of what the kids have been eating so here's a few. I pack Evelyn a pretty substantial snack for preschool. I've noticed other parents pack something simple like a banana or some gold fish crackers. Evelyn is not a big eater so I like to make sure she has choices. She usually eats most of the snack so I know she is hungry while she's there. 

Breakfast- These are pancake suckers. The kids really liked these and enjoyed dipping them in syrup. 

Snack- Spinach dip, cheese pretzels and carrot sticks. 

Snack- Cheese, mini pepperonis, crackers and strawberries. 

Snack- Pretzels, cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes. 

Snack-Crackers, turkey pepperoni, cheese and raspberries. 

Snack- Pita pizza, goldfish crackers and raspberries. 

Dinner- zucchini noodles with butter, roasted sweet potatoes and white potatoes, baked chicken

Snack- jelly and cream cheese sandwich, mini pepperoni and cheese 

Breakfast with Spatz's toast. Yum!


Meal Planning Monday

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I am trying a few new things this week.  First I have planned for 2 weeks of meals.  I made a detailed grocery list and printed out all of the recipes.  I don't usual print out the recipes, just save them on whatever app I am using that week that I found it on.  I am also trying out a new app called Pepperplate.  I used this before but, it took too much time to set up.  I am going to give it a go again and see if it makes things easier.  

I will still have to go back at least once more for fresh fruit and vegetables and of course more milk.
If I can start shopping every 2 weeks I think it will save lots of time and money.

I know that most families don't make dinner every night but we do.  A full dinner every night that always includes a main course and sides.  We also rarely eat leftovers and I don't usually cook ahead to have leftovers.  That is something that I would like to change.  The crock pot is not something I usually use either.

This week I am going to try a few soups in the crock pot.
Hopefully these small changes I am making start to save me a little bit of time in the kitchen.

So, here is what I have planned in no particular order.


Five Spice Cream Cheese Chicken with Rice and steamed broccoli and cauliflower
Crockpot Sausage Spinach Tomato Soup with a side salad
Crockpot Meatball Soup with a side salad
Crockpot Chicken Soup with Mexican Seasonings
Turkey Taco's
Chicken and Cheese Taquito's with roasted brussel sprouts
Spicy Sausage Pasta with a said of fruit
Breakfast- Eggs, bacon and toast
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