Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Prep Night and Pie...Revisited!

Hey, y'all!  Greetings from the Heart of Texas. 

Robin, over at "All Things Heart and Home", has the most wonderful idea for a holiday link-up party to cover all the holidays, Thanksgiving through New Year's!  She is truly one of the most talented bloggers around and I hope you will take a few minutes to head over and check out her terrific blog and the party!  

All Things Heart and Home

Since Thanksgiving hits first, I am revisiting this post from the night before Thanksgiving of last year.  It's one of my favorites because it includes a simple, but oh-so-yummy, recipe for pecan pie!  Give it a try.....I guarantee you will not be disappointed.  

Thanksgiving is upon us.  A time to count our be with loved ones...and savor every moment! 

And speaking of savoring....I just finished my pre-holiday baking and it smells absolutely HEAVENLY at our house!!!  I've got the cornbread and biscuits ready to build some dressing around the turkey tomorrow.  Eddie baked two pumpkin pies, bless his heart!  Brownies with walnuts are cooling as I finally sit.  And I made two of my favorite old-fashioned pecan pies.  This recipe is the same one my mother used when I was a little girl and it's fail-proof, super easy, and TOTALLY YUMMY!!!

You will the following ingredients for one pie:

3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 stick of margarine - melted
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup pecan halves (this just works better than chopped pieces)
1 9-inch deep dish pie shell (uncooked) 

Beat or whisk the eggs. Add sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. Stir in the pecans, blending them in well. Pour into the pie shell and place on a cookie sheet or shallow pan in 350 degree oven for about 40-45 minutes. The pie is done when golden brown and the middle stops jiggling! 

Now, I cheat...I always use frozen pie crusts! I just don't have the patience, the time or the knack for making pie dough from scratch. And the rich, gooey filling in this pie, combined with the delicious pecans, will overcome the shortcomings of any store-bought pie crust! TRUST ME!!!

With all this baking going on, you're probably thinking I have a house full of guests for dinner tomorrow. Nope. It will just be me, Eddie, my Dad (who drove in from Abilene) and Ed's youngest, Kenzie (who is home for college for the holiday weekend). Like alot of empty-nesters, our children and siblings are scattered so far and wide, it's hard to get everyone in one place. Once the young 'uns get grown, they marry and we have to learn to share time with in-laws. Besides that, Eddie is working night shift through tomorrow night, but we get to head to Abilene on Friday morning to see lots of FAMILY!

Until then, we'll be stuffing on the traditional Thanksgiving feast and giving thanks just to be together!

Wishing all of you a warm and blessed day with loved ones!

******Oops! Looks like somebody's already been into this pie...******

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What I was missing....

At the age of 48, I could honestly claim to have never had a cup of coffee...until recently! Believe it or not, I went all those years with nothing more than a sip of the brew, which I swore was too bitter for human consumption.

Then something amazing happened. In a weak moment, I allowed my mother to convince me to let her prepare a cup of coffee with her favorite french vanilla creamer for me. The first few sips....still bitter. About halfway through the cuppa joe, though, the taste changed. I don't know if my tastebuds have just matured or if it's really the creamer, but it started to taste kinda good. I finished that cup and didn't look back.

Now, I've discovered International Coffee's French Vanilla Cafe instant cofee and look forward to a cup each morning. I discovered that the cappucino machine at Taylormart has the most yummy french vanilla cappucino and that has replaced my morning diet coke on the way to work. I can't wait to check out Starbucks this weekend while we're in Abilene because there's a shop just down the street from my Mom's house. I keep hearing about this pumpkin flavored latte and have to try it!

Oh, my! What has happened to me?!?!? Mother, dear, you have created a monster! A caffeine-craving coffee junkie!!!

Weird thing is that I want to share this new-found love of mine. I keep trying to get Ed to taste the different flavored coffees, but he merely shudders and makes a face. He doesn't understand...he doesn't realize what he is missing. And, to think...just a couple of short weeks ago, I was just like him....I just didn't know what I was missing....



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Taking Time To Be Thankful

With Thansgiving fast approaching, I have noticed that there is a trend on Facebook for people to post something each day for which they are thankful. I am really enjoying seeing my friends share their blessings and I thought I would take this opportunity to make a list of my own:

* I'm thankful for a wonderful husband who continuously shows me just how much he loves me.

* I'm thankful for three terrific children who make my life complete.

* I'm thankful for three precious grandchildren who add so much joy to my life.

* I'm thankful for the wonderful relationship I have with my parents and their continued good health.

* I'm thankful for my sister and her new family and the happiness they have found.

* I'm thankful for wonderful friends, both old and new, who make life more fun.

* I'm thankful for a warm, comfortable house that we have made a home.

* I'm thankful for my job, including the challenges and sense of accomplishment it brings.

* I'm thankful that I live in a country where we can still disagree with our president and I pray that doesn't change.

* I'm thankful for each morning that I wake up and each night that I lay my head down to sleep.

We all have so much to be thankful for, here in our land of plenty. It's a shame that most of us only think about our blessings during the holiday season, when it should be something we do daily. I am as guilty of this as anyone else.

So, I'm making an extra effort to remember my blessings and be thankful for even the little things on a daily basis.

I wish each and every one of you a Thanksgiving filled with family, friends and all that you love!



Thursday, November 19, 2009

A LiTtLe SeCrEt....

Wanna know what's sexy in my book? Lean in...a little closer now...c'mon, you know you want to hear what I'm about to say...A MAN WHO COOKS!!! Now that is the epitome of SeXy!

A man who really knows his way around the kitchen was a novel idea to me. All my life, I was surrounded by women who were whizzes in the kitchen. Mymommy could whip up just about anything in her tiny little kitchen. MaMa could fry chicken like no one else. My mother cooked everything from Thanksgiving dinner to the most scrumptious chocolate chip cookies in our little house on Blair Street. But, the only memories I had of a man cooking were my Dad grilling steaks on a barrel-turned-grill out on the patio.

Well, when Ed came into my life, my whole way of thinking on who really runs the kitchen was turned topsy-turvy. Sure, this man was always talking about cooking and recipes, but I was skeptical. The first time he offered to cook for me, I turned in my order for fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy with rather low expectations. Not only did he prepare a delicious meal, he aced it! And stole my heart. From there, he introduced me to some wonderful new dishes like blackened catfish, homemade fettucini alfredo, grilled pork tenderloin with raspberry chipotle sauce...and the list goes on and on.

What makes Ed a ChEf, as opposed to just a cook, is that he is absolutely fearless in the kitchen. He creates his own sauces, seasonings and rubs. He loves to make as much as possible from scratch. He utilizes the grill for vegetables and side dishes. He blends flavors and ingredients and uses dozens of kitchen "gadgets". He's an artist with food, creating culinary masterpieces!

Yikes, I'm sounding like The Food Network. But, it's all so true!!!

And trust me when I say it's the ultimate "turn-on" to have a man preparing a meal for you. Even more so I jump in there and we cook together! Working as a team in the kitchen and then sitting down to enjoy the fruits of our labors is a prime example of marital bliss.

So, men, listen up! Want to know a sure-fire way to impress a woman? Win her heart? Watch Food Network. Read some cookbooks. Get in the kitchen and practice a bit. I guarantee if you make the effort, you will reap the rewards!

And to you, Ed, I'll continue to clean the kitchen as long as you continue to cook for me!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Amazing Woman

I want to introduce you to an amazing woman. Her name is Bonnie Leigh Butler Isenburg. She is wife to Rusty and mom to Madelyn (age 8), Trayden (age 5) and Ansleigh (age 3). She is a Grievance Quality Technician at the Blue Cross Blue Shield facility in Abilene. And she is my daughter!

I admire Bonnie for so many reasons and I thought I would share just a few of them with you here:

* She is a beautiful young woman. Just look at that smile...and those blue eyes...she sparkles and lights up any room she walks into!

* She is a devoted wife and mother. She stays up late, even after putting in a full day at work, to bake cupcakes for her kids' class when there's a special occasion.

* She devotes time to her church, working with the Youth, because she has a special burden on her heart for young people - especially those struggling through the awkward teen years.

* She is a rabid New Kids on the Block fan! If she weren't happily married, I have no doubt she would be stalking Joey McIntyre.

* She is a loyal mate to Rusty and works hard to make their home happy, comfortable and a refuge from the outside world.

* She has a strong sense of family and tradition and always makes time for family gatherings - even if it means shuffling from one set of grandparents' house to the next with toddlers who haven't had a nap.

* She has overcome some real obtacles in her life. Last year, she broke her leg over the Memorial Day weekend. She had to wait from Saturday night until the following Wednesday, with her severely fractured tibia in a temporary splint, before it could be surgically set with a metal rod. Even though the doctors warned her she might have a permanent limp, she coped with splints, crutches, a walker, intense pain and a household with two kids to run - and made a remarkable recovery. She doesn't even have a slight limp!

* She is a selfless friend. Just ask her best friend, Amber, who lost one of her infant twins, Aiden, less than three years ago. Bonnie took off work, drove to Fort Worth and spent countless hours consoling her friend, helping out with Alex (the surviving twin) and even holding vigil over Aiden while he was on life support for several days.

I admire Bonnie for her spirit, her gracious nature and her commitment to life. I love Bonnie as a daughter and a friend. I'm thankful every day that she is a part of my life!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

***Catching the ChRiStMaS SpIrIt***

Well, it's beginning to look a little like Christmas around town. I noticed that the city crews have already put up the street decorations in the downtown area. WalMart already has their lawn and garden department transformed into a winter wonderland. The florists in town have holiday displays going up and little lights twinkling on trees within. And, here it is, the middle of November and I'm itching to put out our Christmas decorations!

It all started with a trip to Lowe's a couple of weeks ago, where I picked up a lovely Christmas magazine at the checkout. Oh, it made me want to see my own lighted tree in my own living room! Then, last weekend, while making the trek to Abilene, I found a stray George Strait Christmas cd in my car. Well, of course, I had to pop it in and sing along. My rush towards to the Christmas spirit continued when a friend and I went to not only Hobby Lobby, but also Pier 1, and spent hours prowling through Christmas decorations.

Upon my return to Pampa, I hit both WalMart and Dollar General (hey, this is Pampa...there's not a lot of places to shop...) and found some delightful additions to our holiday decorations. Among my favorite finds are some beautiful glass candles in red and gold that simply clip on the ends of the tree branches. Oh, and the most lovely red poinsettia blossoms that also clip onto the tips of the branches. I also discovered that bronze is a hot new color for tree ornaments this year, so I had to pick up a few of those to incorporate into our Texas-themed tree.

I can just picture it all in my head as I write this! Our main tree in the corner of the living room, loaded with all the candles, birds, poinsettia blooms and keepsake ornaments from the years. Then, there is our Texas tree, with all the western, cowboy and Texas ornaments, wrapped in bronze ribbon and filled in with glittery bronze ornaments. The kitchen/dining room tree gets an update this year with wired white ribbon decorated with candy canes and new red and green ornaments, snowy pinecones and all the more primitive and wood ornaments we've collected through the years. The pink room, as we call my girly retreat, will have a small alpine tree with different shades of turquoise and aqua glass balls and a lovely ribbon of taupe and aqua.

Now, I'm tired just thinking about all the decorating that needs to be done. But, I'm ready to get started transforming our house for the holidays. This means I will have to get Ed to climb up in the attic and start bringing down bins and crates while he is off during the week, so I can get started. Perhaps if I stretch it out over a few days, it won't seem so daunting. Nah! I know once I get started, I will just want to get it all done. And then sit back and enjoy it for a few weeks!

Capturing a Magical Light

After several gray days of frigid temperatures, along with a bit of ice and a flurry or two of snow, the sun shone brilliantly on New Year&...