There’s no confusion about soup.

Is it me or does this time of year cause a lot of anxiety and confusion?  I went to the mall yesterday to just look for a skirt for Autumn’s band concert.  The mall had Christmas decorations up. Christmas music was playing. SANTA WAS ALREADY THERE! When the hell did Santa get to the mall?  It used to be a big production! Is it Christmas season already? I missed the turkey. I’m so confused.  And then I get all anxious because all the decorations and music and Santa make me feel like I’m super behind!  I haven’t started shopping.  I may have thought about it, but nothing is purchased. I don’t have room for the tree. I don’t have my 25 Days of Giving plan together yet. I still have “It’s ____ Days Until Halloween” sign up for Pete’s sake! Don’t get me wrong I LOVE THE SEASON. When it’s appropriate; like after Thanksgiving. Oh! And fuck you Hallmark Channel for sucking away all of my free time. I effing love all of those stupid Christmas movies.

Rant over.  What’s going on in our neck of the woods you ask? I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. You can thank Hallmark. Just kidding! Luckily for you, you haven’t missed much. I’ve been behind the camera a lot over the past few months. It’s a lot of work but I love it! I’m working on a blog page showcasing my work. That certainly is a work in progress. I took a WordPress class. I haven’t taken a class in years! All it did was just prove I have a lot of work to do to make my blog awesome. I’ve increased my gym schedule. Trying to get a rockin’ bod for 2016. Probably should stop eating the Halloween candy eh?

Ms. Autumn is fantastical.  She’s kicking 5th grade butt. French Horn is going well. She was invited back to Solo Fest in January.  I’m super proud of her!

9845

Although here where I live it’s been unseasonably warm, which is fine with me by the way, it will soon get chilly. I found (via my inbox from a coworker at work, thank you Taste of Home) this soup over the summer and tried it the first cold day in the autumn.  It’s delicious. All 3 kids, and the ol’ man love it.  It’s perfect for a cold day.  I’ve altered it a little since I like my veges.  You know, rockin’ bod for 2016.

Italian Tuscan Soup

  • 5 Italian turkey sausage links without the casings
  • 2 Onions, small and chopped
  • 6 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 32 oz Chicken broth, reduced sodium
  • 1¾ C Water
  • 2 Cans (14½ oz) Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 2-9oz packages Cheese Tortellini, refrigerated
  • 1-6oz package Fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 Medium Zucchini, cubed
  • ¾ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  1. Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven; add onion.  Cook and stir over medium heat until no longer pink.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
  2. While it’s coming to a boil, in a separate fry pan, lightly saute the zucchini, for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Back to the soup. Add tortellini; return to a boil.  Add the zucchini. Cook for 7-9 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat; add the spinach, basil, and pepper.
  4. Cook 2-3 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.
  5. Serve with sprinkled cheese.

 

italiantuscansoup

 

italiansoupcollage

Drink a little, bake a little…

Of Eggnog that is!  What were you thinking?  You were thinking I was posting a drink recipe that we all desperately need right now?  Yeah…I’m working on that!  I saw one on Pinterest, like an Andy’s Mint cocktail or something?  Yeah..definitely going to be trying that. I will take one for the team, and let you know how it works out.

Mall shopping is overrated this time of year.  That is all I’m going to say about shopping. Other than, ALL OF MINE IS DONE!!!  I may need to pick up a stocking stuffer or two.  Right now all they have in their stockings are toothbrushes and hand sanitizer.   Yes. I am a fantastical mom.

Back to Eggnog.  I love Eggnog, and all of its fat and calories. When I saw these little bread loaves from Taste of Home, I was like YES! I. Must. Try. These.  And so I did.  They are super easy, and so tastey! I used smaller loaf pans than what this recipe calls for, and I got 6 loaves. Just adjust your baking time.  And please, for the love of Pete, remember the sugar.  The first batch I made, I tasted it after I poured it into the loaf pans. (I was licking the spoon..shhhhh)  It was awful! Lesson #1 learned: Taste before you pour into greased pans. Lesson #2: Sugar is very important!

Eggnog Mini Loaves

  • 2 1/4 C           All-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp        Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp           Salt
  • 1/2 tsp           Ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp           Ground nutmeg
  • 2                     Eggs
  • 1 C                  Eggnog
  • 3/4 C             Sugar
  • 1/2 C              Butter, melted
  • 2 tsp               Vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp               Rum extract
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. In another bowl, beat the eggs, Eggnogg, sugar, butter and extracts; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  3. Pour into three greased 5 3/4″ x 3″x 2″ loaf pans.  Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
  5. After cool, wrap and give to your favorite neighbor. Or boss. Stuff in stocking?

Eggnogbread

 

 

Christmas Caramels

Only ten days left!  Who’s ready for the Big Guy?  This girl!  That’s who!  Well, not really.  I’m waiting for 2 gifts to come in and need a couple of gift cards and then I’M DONE!  Autumn and I don’t get overly crazy with gifts.  When she believed in Santa, Santa only brought one gift. He was generous, with a little bit of a bigger gift (a bike one year, a Wii another). Mommy gave her any other presents that were under the tree.  As a single mom, I worked hard for what I gave her; and I wasn’t about to let the fictional gentleman, as jolly as he is,  get all the credit!  We tend to focus on family oriented things, traditions that will make memories. The spirit of Christmas, as they say. Not something that will break within a 2 month time frame. Like last year’s tablet, for example.

The “Christmas spirit” with the older two is a little bit more difficult.  They don’t really care about much, unless it’s on a gadget.  I try, but with little success.  So with Ms. Autumn, I’m trying to get her understand the importance of the holiday season early, so when she’s 16, she will be all about the giving and not about the receiving.

Giving!  Let’s focus on this. I came across this recipe on Facebook I think.  From Taste of Home, these little squares of heaven are definitely for the giving. They are a little bit time consuming. But totally worth it! Don’t be fooled.  You will eat your fair share before carefully packaging them up for the neighbor! These are pretty sweet, so give them to the neighbor without diabetes. Unless you don’t like your neighbor with diabetes. Bad plan. Just eat them.

Creamy Caramels

  • 1 tsp plus 1 Cup            Butter, divided
  • 1 C                                   Sugar
  • 1 C                                   Dark corn syrup
  • 1-14 oz Can                    Sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp                                Vanilla extract
  1. Line an 8″ square pan with foil; grease the foil with 1 teaspoon butter and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and remaining butter; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil slowly for 4 minutes without stirring.
  3. Remove from the heat; stir in milk.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until a candy thermometer reads 238° (soft-ball stage), stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
  4. Pour into prepared pan (do not scrape saucepan).  Cool. Using foil, lift candy out of pan.  Discard foil; cut candy into 1″ squares.
  5. Wrap individually in waxed paper, twist ends.

caramels

 

Better make two batches!

Christmastime 2014.  My brain is scrambled.  Christmas 2015, I will be much better organized. HAHAHAHA!!  Ok. Sure.

This is the first year I’ve been blogging, and I have a zillion Christmas ideas floating around, mostly written on Post-its everywhere. There’s no time to get them done, much less blogged about.  Next year my friends, next year.  I’m going to start over the summer. 🙂 Seriously, it may take that long to get everything ready for 2015!  Experienced bloggers who have their shit together, I bow to you.

Let me focus now!  Damn that Rudolph is so distracting.  She thinks I’m cuuuuutttteee! It’s not like I don’t watch it 20 times during the season. Or haven’t watched it every year for 38 years. And every year, I want to punch the mean reindeer in the face. Jerks. Speaking of dead reindeer, the ol’ man had a dead deer head on my stove on my last trip upstairs. Not even kidding.  It was wrapped in plastic. So gross. Who the eff cuts off the deer head and just carries it around? UGH.  Disgusting.  Apparently, he’s trying to figure out if it’s a record deer. The measuring tape is out and whatever.  I don’t get it, I just want the effing thing out of my house. I DON’T CARE IF IT’S WRAPPED IN PLASTIC AND I CAN’T SEE IT.  IT’S GROSS.

Back To Christmas.  Ms. Autumn would do anything for a Sleep Number Bed.  She almost earned it last week. Do you have those moments in the car when you think the kids are sleeping, have their earbuds in or just in general are not paying attention to you?  We had that moment last week.  I personally thought Autumn was sleeping. The ol’ man and I were having a discussion about Adam Levine.  He was saying that I could never have Adam Levine because I wasn’t a Victoria Secret model. (You see the quality of our conversations)  Well, of course I shot back with he could never have a Victoria Secret model because he wasn’t Adam Levine. Ms. Autumn pipes up from the back with “Mom shops at Victoria’s Secret so she has a better chance with Adam”.  I. Love. Her. But she’s still not getting the bed.

Let’s talk a sweet treat perfect for neighbors, or the teacher or that awesome coworker that gave you the recipe in the first place. Jane gave me this recipe years ago.  It comes from her neighbor! Mrs. Gentile and Jane used to swap the nut mix for white trash.  This recipe is simple, but so good!  Legit, you should make two batches. One to eat, the other to give away.

Mrs. Gentile’s Nut Mix

  • 1 lb                Nuts (I use peanuts, it’s measured for you)
  • 1/2 C             Raisins
  • 1 C                 Sugar
  • 1 tsp              Cinnamon
  • 1                     Egg white
  • 1 Tbsp           Water
  • Whatever add-ins you’d like, M&M’s etc.  I don’t personally like anything else, because it’s sweet
  1. Preheat oven to 250*F.  Grease cookie sheet or line with release foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon, set aside
  3. In a large bowl, beat egg whites and water until fluffy
  4. Add nuts and raisins, toss to coat evenly
  5. Add sugar mix to nuts, toss to coat evenly
  6. Spread out onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, toss. Then bake for 25 minutes longer.
  7. Cool completely, store in an air tight container.

nutmix