Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Friday, November 30, 2012

Remember when I sent you running to your front porch to snatch up the leftover Halloween pumpkins to roast them and make pumpkin puree? Yes? Well, this recipe is for you! No? Then read about that here for next year: How to Make Roasted Pumpkin Puree and since your Halloween pumpkins are likely long gone, get thee to a grocery store and search for a rogue can of pumpkin that may have made it through the Thanksgiving rush of last week.




Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce:
16 oz. rigatoni or penne pasta
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 stick butter
1 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree*
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
ground nutmeg to taste
  1. Cook pasta to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, place cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, butter and milk in a large saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat until cream cheese is melted, stirring frequently. Add pumpkin* and spices. Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add sauce to pasta and toss lightly. Serve topped with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.
Note: if you DID take it upon yourself to make your own pumpkin puree, of course this will be frozen and you will need to thaw it before making the recipe. Clearly this is not included in the directions because not everyone is as fancy as we are. :-)

Bargain Hunters Unite!

So, today, Emmers and I went on an excursion:


This is actually a favorite of all of the Harris gals.  It is called Eplus Thrift and is located downtown in the 'Boro.  They have great stuff.  Just last Saturday, Donna and I were rumaging around, and I found a honey of a deal on some great folding chairs!



That gold is definitely a 70s color, but boy have they held up well--no stains or tears or anything.  We needed some chairs for our dining table, and we can always use extras for company.  These came from a church, so they fold up and there's even a compartment underneath them.  They are just all around neat.  I bought two, and then, after trying them out for a couple of days, we decided to get some more.  Today, we set out to do just that, and arrived 15 minutes too late!  To quote an old man rolling up to the newly opened Lil' Caesar's yesterday, also in the 'Boro (with a line around the block), "That's just a shame!"

No matter, we did find an early Christmas present for someone:


We rode this steal all the way out of the store to the car!



Phew!  Being pushed around town on a tricyle all day really tuckers a tiny, chubby baby out!

The Pink One

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I have to admit I've always thought comedians who dress in drag for their movies are really stretching it, and actually, it is probably that very reason that I've never really been a fan of Martin Lawrence or Robin Williams as women.  However, Tyler Perry got it right in "Madea's Big Happy Family", though he doesn't get a lot of credit from critics when it comes to Madea.


"Madea's Big Happy Family" is one of mine and Charlotte's faves, and although Madea has appeared in other movies, this one had just the right mix of cast and funnies.  Even though Tyler Perry does like to tackle big subject matters in his movies, this one was pretty lighthearted.

Anyhoo, Madea's wording, I guess I should say, is particularly funny, and it's something that she shares with Daddy.  They both tend to add extra letters and vowels to words.  Of course, Daddy does it in fun, and he's never even seen Madea, but I'm surprised Baby Emmers isn't in constant confusion as Daddy likes to point out the cow(els) in our back yard or the mon(t)ey in his pocket.

Generally, all the Harris girls have maintained an exceptional grasp on our vocabulary despite Daddy's colorful lingo until I go to an atm, that is.  For the longest time my brain wanted to call it an atm-ma.  Then there was Charlotte's prentzel!


Nope!  Try Pencil!

Then, the other morning Emmers topped us all.


It's a Pink One!  It certainly is, Baby Emmers, it certainly is.




The Hands-Down BEST version of 'Baby, It's Cold Outside"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Did you know that the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside" was written all the way back in 1944?  Wow!  And it has been recorded and sung by so many duets, it will make your head spin.  I love this song, really no matter who sings it.  It's just a fun and playful tune.  But, the absolute BEST version of this song is undoubtedly the version recorded by a rather unlikely pair, none other than the great Dolly Parton and Mr. Rod Stewart.  They recorded their famous version back in 2004, not so long ago compared to the longevity of the song itself. 

Here are a few other fun facts about the song:

The lyrics in this duet are designed to be heard as a conversation between two people, marked as "mouse" and "wolf" on the printed score. Every line in the song features a statement from the "mouse" followed by a response from the "wolf". Usually the "wolf" part is sung by a male and the "mouse" by a female. Though the song does not specifically reference any holiday, it is often regarded as a Christmas song due to the lyrics' depiction of a snowy backdrop, as well as the cozy interior setting that is described by the "wolf" character.



And in case you want to follow along, here are the lyrics:

♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

I really can't stay - Baby it's cold outside

I've got to go away - Baby it's cold outside
This evening has been - Been hoping that you'd drop in
So very nice - I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice
My mother will start to worry - Beautiful, what's your hurry
And my father will be pacing the floor - Just listen to the fireplace roar
Now really I'd better scurry - Sweetheart, what's your hurry
Well maybe just a half a drink more - Just put some record on while I pour
All the neighbors might think - But baby, it's bad out there
Say, what's in this drink - No cabs to be had out there
Oh I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no, sir - Mind if I move a little closer
At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride
I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
Ohh, but it's cold outside
I simply must go - Baby, it's cold outside
The answer is no - But baby, it's cold outside out there
Oh this welcome has been - So lucky that you dropped in
So nice and warm - Look out the window at that storm
My sister will be suspicious - God, your lips look so delicious
My brother will be there at the door - Waves upon a tropical shore
Oh my maiden aunt's mind is vicious - Oh baby you're so delicious
Well maybe just one little kiss more - Never such a blizzard before
Oh I've got to go home - You'll freeze out there
Say, lend me a comb - It's up to your knees out there
You've really been grand - I swell when you touch my hand
But don't you see - How can you do this thing to me
Oh,there's bound to be talk tomorrow - Making my lifelong sorrow
Well at least there will be plenty implied - If you caught pneumonia and died
But I really can't stay - Get over that old out
Baby it's cold outside
Hey, I gotta get out of here
Come on, baby
Come on what?
Just give me five minutes more
You're sure ???, don't you
Okay, okay, okay, okay
♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪



Enjoy!

Banana Pudding

This recipe is Daddy's favorite. (I was going to say one of Daddy's favorites, but who am I kidding?) The "pudding" in this recipe is more of a fluffy custard than the runnier pudding bases you'll see in some banana puddings. It is divine!







Daddy's Favorite Banana Pudding:
1 5.1 oz. box instant vanilla pudding and pie filling mix
1 14 oz. can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 cup water
16 oz. container Cool Whip
16 oz. carton sour cream
2 12 oz. boxes Nilla wafers
7 large bananas
  1. Mix pudding and pie filling mix, Eagle brand milk, and water together. Let set for one hour.
  2. Add Cool Whip and sour cream and mix well.
  3. In a large, deep sided casserole dish, layer Nilla wafers, bananas (cut into rounds), and Cool Whip mixture. Repeat layers, ending with Cool Whip mixture.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.
Note: this recipe makes a very large banana pudding, so make sure to use a very large dish to accommodate it. Otherwise, I have been known to split it between two regular sized dishes and you can do the same (one to give away or serve and one to keep all for yourself - but don't tell anyone!).

Handmade Christmas Ornaments

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I confess, I MUST BE the Beastie Boys' type because I'm crafty - well not THAT kind of crafty, but crafty nonetheless. In fact, all of us Harris sisters have been known to wield a glue gun when it suits us - it's true that we are crafty like ice is cold. These are a few Christmas ornaments that we've made over the years that still come out year after year to decorate the tree.


Perfect for those ever-popular candy/cookie kitchen trees:

Sugarplum Ornament:
Clear glass ornaments
White or iridescent glitter
White ribbon
Craft picks with candy striped baubles (must be small enough to fit through the opening of the ornament)
Hole punch
Wire
  1. Print "And visions of sugarplums danced in their heads" on card stock, cut to size, and punch a hole in the upper left corner. Set aside.
  2. Cut some candy striped baubles from the craft picks. Leave longer stems on two of the baubles.
  3. Remove the top from the ornament and fill the ornament with glitter and candy striped baubles.
  4. Replace the top of the ornament.
  5. Twist longer stems of the two remaining baubles into loops. Thread them onto wire and twist the wire around the ornament top, creating spirals with the tails for a decorative effect.
  6. Cut a length of ribbon and thread the card on it. Tie the ribbon around the top of the ornament, making sure the card is facing the front of the ornament.


And this one is perfect for the arrival of a newborn baby:

Note to Santa Ornament:
Picture frame ornament of your choice
Digital photo of your new baby
The following text
  1. Insert a photo of your newborn (preferably sleeping) into a note that says the following "Santa and Reindeer, please tiptoe quietly because Baby (insert baby name here) is soundly sleeping."
  2. Make sure to sign and date it.

Guardian Angel Feather Ornament:
Clear glass ornament
White or iridescent glitter
White feather
Hole punch
Ribbon
  1. Print Guardian Angel poem on card stock, cut to size, and punch a hole in the upper left corner. Set aside.
  2. Remove top of ornament and fill ornament with glitter and feather.
  3. Replace the top of the ornament.
  4. Cut a length of ribbon and thread the card on it. Tie the ribbon around the top of the ornament, making sure the card is facing the front of the ornament.


Girlfriend Ornament:
Solid color ornament in color of your choice
Paint pen in contrasting color
Marabou boa
Scissors
Hot glue gun
Ribbon
  1. Use the paint pen to write descriptors that fit your girlfriends' personalities. Some suggestions include: diva, jingle belle, vixen, glamazon, rock star, etc.
  2. Cut lengths of marabou that are the correct size to fit around the ornament top. Hot glue to the top of the ornament.
  3. Thread a ribbon through the ornament as a hanger.
And for all you Beastie Boys fans who have been thinking about this since sentence #1, here you go:

A Little Post-Thanksgiving Window Shopping

Monday, November 26, 2012

After a super-busy Thanksgiving, we decided to completely skip the madness that always comes with Black Friday, and just take a leisurely family stroll through the streets of Downtown Franklin last Saturday.  The stores were bustling and decorated beautifully for Christmas.  The sidewalks were busy with families and pups out for an afternoon of fun.  All the restaurants and bakeries were lively with activity.  The weather was perfectly nippy.  Oh, it was a lovely time.  My favorite little shop was even serving cookies and mimosas!  (I knew they were my favorite for a reason.)

Walk with me now through the streets of Downtown Franklin, and let me introduce you to the wonderful sights of our hometown at Christmas.  There's definitely a feeling of Christmas in the air.

The streets are already decked out with garland and flags for all the street posts.  Someone even got pretty cute and livened up the wall above this park bench.  I can see a couple or two stopping for a cute picture here.  :)



The storefronts are all gussied up.  This is another favorite shop, Lulu's.  They are so cute and creative with their window displays always.


And just before you enter, their clapboard greeting reminds shoppers of their duty to dazzle. 


Their trees inside the shop are decked out with old fashioned paper ornaments and handmade greeting cards.  And I loved their display of "pretty papers".  Made me want to croon an old Christmas tune.  :)





Down the street a little further, we stumbled upon HUGE baskets of pine cones in another shop.  This picture doesn't begin to do justice to how pretty they were.


I also couldn't help falling for their place card holders.   Looks like some familiar guests are coming to dinner.  



This Jolly Old St. Nicholas graced the sidewalk in front of the toy store.



Next, we HAD to visit my all-time favorite shop, Avec Moi.  Yes, this is the one serving mimosas.  They know how to keep their customers happy!  Just look at these table settings.  They are all through the store, and they just keep getting prettier.  They only thing I might add are those cute place card holders, and I would be all set.


I also went ga-ga over this alarm clock.  I can totally see myself setting this to go off early on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought!  Maybe he will bring me this clock!!  Hint, hint, Santa, if you are reading this.  And yes, I have it on good authority that Santa does in fact read this blog.  ;)


Another totally cute item in this shop is the Christmas Memories book.  It has tons of pages to insert your family Christmas pictures from one year to the next, as well as lots of space to record memories, traditions, wish lists, and so much more.  What a nice tradition. 


Our final stop of the day is a new candy store that just opened.  It's called Honey's Vintage Sweets, and they were super adorable, and definitely gussied up for Christmas.  We had hot chocolate as we perused the isles of candies and sweet treats.  This shop had me humming "Marshmallow World".  :)






Did we get much shopping done this day?  Actually, not a lot.  Some, but nothing major.  But sometimes taking in the sights and being part of a lively holiday crowd is just plenty to put you in the holiday spirit.  It worked for us.  I'm totally ready for Christmas now!

Deck Them Halls and All That Stuff!

As we set out to deck our halls, we began with a cup of holiday cheer:


Charlotte  was a little worried when she saw no Swiss Miss box.  However, my homemade brew hit the spot and warmed us all up for an eventful night.


Thankfully, we have a small tree, so it was up in a flash leaving time for my dueling 'Mad Hatters' (backstory here) to act, well, mad:


I nabbed Santy Claus from Daddy's house and gave him a home in my kitchen:

And here's our front porch, gussied up:
Ta-da!


Striped Summer Bag

Sunday, November 25, 2012

As always, I'm a day late and a dollar short considering (newsflash!) it is no longer summer. This is mainly because while I am perfectly adept at whipping up crocheted creations at lightning-fast speed, when it comes to lining them, I drag my feet.

So, this little number has only recently been lined and will have to wait until next summer to see some use:


And you would think that lining is a terribly difficult thing (it's not, but taking out and setting up the sewing machine is!). Here's a closeup of the lining material I chose:


The bag itself is a modification of this free crochet pattern: Zig Zag Bag Pattern. My modifications were as follows.

Striped Summer Bag Modifications
I used Lily Sugar and Cream yarn and an H sized hook. I omitted the zig zag pattern completely and created stripes in the following order:

Hot Pink
Chain & rounds 1-7

Warm Brown
Next 4 rounds

Rose
Next 4 rounds

Tangerine
Next 3 rounds

Cream
Next 3 rounds

Hot Pink
Next 3 rounds

Warm Brown
Next 2 rounds*

I also omitted the drawstring because I chose to line the bag and I thought that because the drawstring wouldn't go through the lining, the bag would just bunch up.

I used this free bag lining tutorial and it came out perfectly: How to Sew a Lining for a Crocheted Bag.

Note: After lining the bag, I attached the handles with a round of single crochet in warm brown.

Meet My Arch Nemesis . . .

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saran Wrap



And to not seem brand loyal, I also despise Cling Wrap:



Let me explain. I find that these plastic wrap products do not actually HELP you in your kitchen endeavors. In fact, I have actually gotten so frustrated with plastic wrap in the past that I have thrown a roll across the aforementioned kitchen in an attempt to vent said frustration.

And wouldn't you know it, when we started helping put away the Thanksgiving leftovers at Daddy's house today, we had exactly 3.25 inches of aluminum foil left on the roll. Daddy dug around and produced a roll of Saran Wrap as a solution. 

Misty and I looked at each other with a mixture of fear, contempt, and indignation. We proceeded to put away the leftovers, but it took two grown women with the supervision of their Daddy an inordinate amount of time to do it. (Truth be told, I was quite proud that neither of us threw the Saran Wrap, although we did mention it.)

And for all of you mathematicians out there, I found this handy graph to express these feelings:



They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Well, I feel exceptionally strong today after fighting a roll of plastic wrap and winning!

Happy (hopefully Saran Wrap-free) Thanksgiving!

Cake and Chicken!

Thursday, November 22, 2012




Of course, no Thanksgiving can be complete without the congealed cranberry sauce! 


Howard has to have this every year.  Even though I make a cranberry salad that was always the highlight of my Thanksgiving growing up.  Unfortunately, Charlotte wasn't here this year to see him jiggle it out of the can.  (That would be the highlight of  her Thanksgiving every year.)  



The baby was very peckish before dinner, and Howard made the mistake of giving her some turkey as he was  carving.  It was all downhill from there!  She proceeded to circle the table pointing and saying, "Chicken! Chicken!"  Howard gave her a deviled egg and I let her lick the cream cheese wrapper as we were finishing up, but as soon as I brought out the cornbread, she wheeled her chair over to it, climbed up, and nabbed a piece, all while proclaiming, "Cake! Cake!"  I, then, let her hold the turkey as I was taking pics.  As you can see, she was pretty mesmerized.

To wrap up our Thanksgiving Day festivities, here's a little diddy Johnny Cash performed on a Thanksgiving episode of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman", my fave:



So, in review, I am thankful for Johnny Cash, "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman", cake and chicken!