Wolf tree

Ursula's new wolf tree. $20 well spent.

This is Ursula’s new wolf tree. She is thrilled, and it relieves some of our tree congestion. Win-win-win.

In other news, our Christmas cards are being printed. Expect mild inappropriateness.

Thanksgiving Cooking

There was a strong orange theme this year.

I guess I was in an orange mood?

From top to bottom – GF/Vegan Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Casserole, Crispy Savory Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole with Caramelized Marshmallows

This is not so much of a recipe as much as it is a badly written set of directions based on my dumping things, plus some stuff I saw on Food Network, but here you got:

  • 7 sweet potatoes (pretty big) – this was probably ~8-9lbs.
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • spices to taste – I used cinnamon, ginger, apple pie spice (which is mostly cinnamon – I had a free sample) and white pepper.
  • mini marshmallows

Roast potatoes in 400 degree oven. Make sure you line it with foil first! I roasted for about 2 hours – just make sure they are soft. Let potatoes cool a bit, then scoop inside or peel (peels should pop right off).

Put in stand mixer with stick of butter and brown sugar, mix. Add spices to taste.

Meanwhile, spread a layer of mini marshmallows on a baking sheet. They will turn into a mess, so I highly suggest you use non-stick foil. Place in oven and broil til brown. (If you have low broil, that is best). You can get them as dark as you want, but I would get some color.

Scrape potatoes off foil (yay for nonstick!) and mix into potatoes.

I put mine in the fridge and reheated the next day, but you could serve immediately. Nuts or a streusel could be good on top, but since I am allergic to nuts and don’t eat gluten, they were fine this way! The marshmallow inside is SO good!

Crispy Savory Sweet Potatoes

Happy Thanksgiving!

from SmittenKitchen

  • ~5lbs sweet potatoes
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3 T butter
  • salt & pepper

Peel and thinly slice your potatoes. You will want a mandoline. It will take a long time – expect to listen to multiple episodes of Serial while slicing. THEN you have to slice the shallots – those are easier to do with a knife.

Melt butter with olive oil in glass measuring cup. Pour a little less than half in the bottom of your baking dish. Cram in all your potato slices in the baking dish. Add the shallot slices between potato slices – I think I had a slice every 4-5 potato slices. Brush the rest of the butter/oil mixture on top. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake in a 375 oven for 45 min-1 hour, then turn up to 450 for 10-15 more minutes to get the tops crispy.

I topped mine with a herb gremolata (at least I think it’s a gremolata?). I used the SK recipe minus capers (out of them) – 1 c parsley, 1 tbsp rosemary, 1 tsp sage, 1 tsp thyme, zest from a lemon, 2 cloves garlic – chop in food processor, drizzle in 7 T olive oil, pour on top after it comes out of oven.

Sadly, I do not have a finished photo.

But! I do have this Thanksgiving place mat.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Lazy Sweet Potatoes & Other T-giving Cooking

This year I baked all our sweet potatoes, THEN popped them out of their skins, rather than peeling them first. It is entirely possible that everyone makes their sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving this way, but I never have and I feel like  genius. Or at least a person who avoided some dreaded tasks (peeling sweet potatoes is THE WORST)

My “recipe” is pretty much – put a lot of sweet potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet. Poke holes in potatoes (unless you enjoy explosions). Bake for 2 hours or so (why keep track? BE LAZY!). When they are done, scoop out insides (I used an ice cream scoop). Dump in stand mixer with stuff. (Read follow up for details)

Other Thanksgiving cooking:

  • I’m making this gluten free vegan pumpkin pie. Actually, ours is not vegan – because I chose to use dairy milk instead of running out for almond milk. But it is egg free. The GF crust is important to me, but even if you aren’t GF, I think the creamy, pudding-y filling would be delicious with ANY crust. The filling is chilling and is delicious. I may toss some cranberries in the bottom – haven’t decided yet.
  • I will be making a savory sweet potato thing. It will (hopefully) warrant its own crust. I have purchased a mandoline to make it. I am terrified of the mandoline.
  • Finally, the most delicious cranberry sauce/relish of all time – I always make it but have never posted it: cut an orange into chunks (rind and all) and put it in a food processor. Chop until you have little orange bits. Dump in a bag of cranberries. Chop some more. Add sugar (recipe says 1 cup, but I usually do 1/2 – 3/4 cup). Finally, add 1/4 cup orange liqueur. My recipe calls from Grand Marnier, but this year I’m using an orange brandy (rather than cognac, like GM) and it is pretty darn tasty for half the price. Let it sit at LEAST overnight – mine has been macerating since Sunday.

Oh, and because I haven’t posted it yet, here is my spectacularly clean fridge.

Clean fridge

The printed mats are from Fridge Coaster, which are essentially giant coasters made of matboard. I am meh – the didn’t fit our fridge well and were a bear to cut. (They aren’t on the top shelves because it would make the rest of the fridge too dark). Part of me thinks they are very expensive for what they are (that picture is ~$20 worth), but I probably couldn’t buy plain mat board for the price – it’s just not a “fun” way to spend money. I think the best thing about them is that I don’t want them to look gross so they make me mindful of keeping the fridge neat and wiping off bottles.

Everyone who has seen this has commented that we have no food. I would like to point out that we had the SAME AMOUNT of edible food before I cleaned the fridge – but the food was mixed in with disgusting old things.  We have, however, gone shopping since then and now have plenty of food – and not just Thanksgiving things.

(Aside – we NEVER have coke, yet it’s in this pic).


Rice Roux

Random tidbit I keep forgetting to mention: Rice flour makes a beautiful roux. I am not sure if it would brown for a gumbo, but for a white sauce it is perfect. I think it thinkens faster than flour and the texture is lovely.

Apparently you can use rice chex as a good substitute for panko. I have not tried this yet, but will.

I know things #1 and #2 because of this recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu casserole. It will probably make you cry from happiness.


Last week, Dan and Ursula went to camp with her class – it’s a VERY exciting 5th grade trip she’s been looking forward to since Kindergarten.

Off to camp!!!!!

Much fun – and apparently very little sleep – was had. Dan hit two bullseyes – he’s quite the bowman. (Yes, I had to look that up.)

Ursula shoots

Apparently, Dan is quite the bowman.


Ursula at camp.

The 3 days wrapped up with Dan’s birthday – the whole camp sang to him!

Missing my crew. Happy Birthday, @driven2create

Trixie and I stayed home and cleaned. HOORAY!

Halloween ’14

happynigiriHalloween was a dance night this year. Some people think this is sad (apparently very few people attended – I think by her last class the absences were at 80%). I think this is awesome – she gets to get dressed up and be inside and I don’t have to walk around ToTing.

Her costume this year was hotly contested. She was given a lovely white tutu that I wanted to work in (tutus are never ever worn in class). She wanted to be a wolf (of course!) but I refused to but ANOTHER set of wolf bits. And she didn’t want to be a grey wolf. After a million brainstorms of things she likes, she begrudgingly agreed to be a piece of sushi. Tutu = rice = perfect. Of course yesterday she acted all “you MADE me do this!”, but it sounds like her costume was a hit, so I think she is ultimately happy.

Yes, I broke a million billion rules and had her on pointe in the living room (and she was NOT warmed up – she was horrified. This will NEVER happen again!)


(again, I must emphasize that she was not warmed up and she’s not far enough up and over and her arch is bad and all the other reasons I should not have asked this.)




Yes, I know those all look the same, but they are all 100% adorable. And I can pretend this was a welcome and joyous photoshoot with no scowls or whining.



Some Instagrams and As Seen on TV reviews

I am the worst. When I can’t keep up I just do nothing. Or focus on ridiculous stuff. Like – I have a new desk with *amazingly* lined and organized drawers, but I won’t put away laundry. I need to vacuum, I need to shower, blah blah…

I just see my blog and how behind it is and want to hide. I need to find a better blogging time. (I have actually been REALLY good about getting a ton of work done in the morning – but then I just fall apart and watch TV and read books.)

Anyway – Dan and I went to this charity thing for Charlotte Ballet a few weeks ago…

Dan clearly wants to go out with me.

Yes he looks thrilled. Yes, I should wear red lips more often. Yes, I think my hair is too dark. And yes, eye wrinkles suck.

I did not win any silent auction items. I did drink WAY too much. There were magical drinks called tututinis and they were amazeballs. There was some unfortunate hangover-ing happening the next day. But then the NEXT day, I got the best email ever. Or at least the best email of the day.

I had won one of the raffle prizes. And not just ANY raffle prize! I, my friends, had won the EPIC “As Seen on TV” Basket!!!!

My "As Seen On TV" gift basket (raffle win!)

Yes, that is $200 worth of As Seen on TV goodness:

  • Dryer balls – I like these okay, nothing too exciting
  • Side socket – have not used
  • No Spill Wow Cup – haven’t used
  • Turbie Twists – rocking my world!!! Why didn’t we have these before now?
  • Rapid Ramen – Aside from the fact that these are shaped like the ramen bricks, I see no advantages, BUT Ursula really likes them.
  • Contour Leg Pillow – Dan stole this and seems to like it
  • Potato Express – need to test it
  • Dutch Glow Polish – need to test
  • Finishing Touch – this product baffles me – if I want to shave my face (and it is designed for a lady), why would I want a 2mm or 5mm guard? If I want to be fuzz free, I want to be fuzz free! (As a hairy person who uses Retin A and can’t wax, I can appreciate the need for this type of thing)
  • Strutz Arch Support – U loves these (?!??!?!)
  • Rug Gripper Ruggie – our only rugs are already rubber backed (Flor Tiles), so haven’t used
  • Pocket Hose Ultra – haven’t used (I KNOW! We need to seed and water!)
  • Scratch-Dini – I do not want to put some as seen on tv crap on my car, but may try on Dan’s car first
  • Vidalia Chop Wizard – true story – this had clearly been returned OR thoroughly tests – crusty dried onion inside. After a sanitizing wash I can say that it works but requires brute force. I will keep using it.
  • Back Brush Application – THIS IS THE WORST. I hate it. I need to throw it out – every time I see it in my shower I an angry.