Low-Fat Pumpkin Cheesecake

I bought cool whip to top my contribution to the family Thanksgiving this year and left it in my refrigerator.  Luckily, my mom and aunt provided plenty of whipped topping, but come on, Emily.  Fail whale. 

So, I had an 8oz thing of Cool Whip and nothing to do with it.  Until I found Gina’s No-bake Pumpkin Cheesecake.  And I had some pumpkin puree frozen in the freezer.  And I figured, what the hell? Just because Thanksgiving is over doesn’t mean that I need to say goodbye to pumpkin deliciousness.

So, I whipped up a pumpkin cheesecake.  And honestly? It’s tasty (I’ve only tasted the filling – but graham cracker crust is a given).  Not totally cheesecake like, but good.  And won’t Mr. B be excited when he comes home to find that dinner’s in the crockpot AND I made dessert while working and tending to T-Mac?  I mean, throw in a side dish and a load of laundry and that’s almost worthy of winning the Wife of November 29th Award (a year is far too ambitious).

And no, this is not a cookie, but I’m linking it up to Kim’s Dare to DIY party today anyway.  I’m a rule breaker, what can I say?  Hop on over to Kim’s blog to take part in the cookie (and “cheesecake” cheater) party

Dare to DIY

Dare to Entertain

My friend Kim at Newlywoodwards is at it again…her Dare to DIY party is back.  I’m planning to participate as much as I can this year, and this week is Dare to…Entertain.  And I’m all about entertaining.

After all of my Thanksgiving preparation, we’re not hosting the holiday this year.  Which is just fine, at least I know how to make a turkey so I won’t be terrified when I need to.  I’ve never had the patience for fancy tablescapes, but I do like a set table.  I whipped out our winter table runner (Pottery Barn three years ago), woven chargers, wine glasses and china and set the table.  Our set table – simple as it is – is so romantic to me.  Clean and streamlined – but almost everything was a wedding gift or inspired by our own wedding.

I love simple details – the beading on our wedding china matches the beading on the napkin rings – and the beading on both mine and Mr. B’s wedding rings (I know it’s not actually called beading, but you get the idea).

We got these wine charms for our wedding, too.  I love the numbers.  I always take number 1.  1 is my number.  Because I was born on 1/1.  And because I’m number 1.  Kidding, seriously just because of the birthday – 1 is my number.

And this is one of my favorite silly things ever.  Our gurgle pot.  We received this as a wedding gift and thought we both were a little confused when we opened the gift, it’s a conversation starter and we love it.  Here’s the story of the gurgle pot.  I love this thing – it comes out whenever we entertain.

And that’s our simple, streamlined tablescape.  It doesn’t change much throughout the year – give or take a table runner.  But it stays clean and is ready for guests at a moment’s notice.

Now, jump on over to Kim’s blog to partake in the DIY fabulousness!!!
Dare to DIY

Rookie Thanksgiving: Pies

It’s the last week of the Rookie Thanksgiving challenge (everyone breathe a sigh of relief).  And this week I missed it – but I’ll make it up.  The stomach flu (and an injured knee – but that’s a secondary excuse) is upon me and I just can’t fathom the idea of food right now.

But, I have the ingredients for PW’s Pie Crust and Clover Lane’s Apple Pie. And I’m sure it will be delicious when I make it.  So for now, link up if you made a pie and I’ll update this post in a couple days.  Thank you to everyone who participated over the last 6 weeks!

Rookie Thanksgiving: Week Six

It’s Pie week.  Ooh baby.  Too bad I gave up refined sugar all but once a week. 

I’ve had success with pies in the past, so here’s what I know.

Pioneer Woman knows pie crust.

And she also knows pecan pie.  And because I’ve successfully made pecan pie in the past (when in doubt put me in charge of the sugar entree for family gatherings), I’m going to do something different.  Apple or Pumpkin, I haven’t decided yet (I’ll probably defer to the pie lovers in my life - Mr. B and my dad – on this one since I won’t be eating it.  And also because I am submissive to men [insert very heavy sarcasm here.  Anyone who knows me knows I don't submit to anything but chocolate and french fries]).  But I’ll be using PW’s pie crust because it’s flipping phenomenal – even at Colorado’s high altitude.

Rookie Thanksgiving: Stuffing

Honestly, I never eat the stuffing at Thanksgiving – I’m a picky eater when it comes to food textures and stuffing has never appealed to me.  But this was good.  I made sure it was crispy, and I loved it.  I altered the recipe a little bit – I left out the sage because I was lazy and just added a little extra wine instead of using chicken broth.  It was divine.  We might add apples next time.

Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween.  We took our little Lobster “Trick or Treating” at his Grammy and Grandpa’s in Denver after church this morning, to his Aunt and Uncle’s house down the road, and to
our neighbor’s house. 

This is about the time I told B, “I hope Tommy doesn’t cry everytime he doesn’t get his way for the rest of his life”.  And B told me, “Em, he’s 4 months old and you just put him in a lobster pot for your own amusement.  I think it’ll be fine.”

We carved a pumpkin, put him to bed, and ate dinner – chicken breasts, stuffing, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin beer – while handing out candy to our 150 (and still counting) trick or treaters. 

It was laid back, relaxing and fun.  Happy Halloween!

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along & Rookie Thanksgiving: Week Five

Here I am posting a recipe the day after a heated battle breaks out here about my new job - which apparently translated to me not working (???) at all and putting my family before my career and submitting to a ”degrading religion” (please hold while I pop my birth control pill…) for an Anonymous commentor.  I could sum this whole post up like this: Respect everyone.  Allow everyone to make the choice that they need to make for their individual happiness.  Make this stuffing recipe (if you want, have the time or desire, etc etc).  And for crying out loud, if you don’t like to hear about decorating, cooking and being a wife, this blog probably isn’t your best choice of reading material. 

But I’ve never been one not to talk…ask my first grade teacher.  So I’ll say this: It’s important to me at this point in my life to remain working in some capacity – I’ve already explained all of this.  The field of Internet Marketing changes daily (did you know that Google changed their local search results algorithm two days ago and we’re awaiting changes to the algorithm to incorporate social media even more into search engine results?) and taking 5 years completely off to raise a kid doesn’t work well in that field.  But that is not to say that I won’t choose to stay at home fulltime at some point.  Or that I won’t go back to a fulltime position at some point.  And I fully respect the decisions each person makes for themselves regarding working and raising a family.  I love my family.  I love my career.  I love my alone time.  I love date nights with my husband.  And dammit, I love cooking a really good meal sometimes.  And I think that every person – female or male – should be entitled to make the choices that are right for them without feeling the need to defend themselves to people who choose differently.  I am not a feminist, I believe in treating everyone with respect, learning from our mistakes and doing the best we can for our circumstances.

Mr. B and I make decisions daily about what is best for ourselves, our relationship and our family.  I happen to be passionate about my house – I love decorating, cooking and cleaning.  I love hanging out with Thomas.  I love shopping with my girlfriends.  I also love beating boys at beer pong, playing sports, and watching football.  And Mr. B?  He’s a cleaning machine, the only grocery shopper in our family, a fabulous cook and the world’s greatest and most involved dad.  I couldn’t ask for a better partner in life – someone who appreciates me as an individual, a friend, a daughter, a sister (and sister-in-law to my favorite person in the entire world and go-to blog defender) a wife AND a mother.

But what do I know?  I’m just a girl who made a choice to leave a job that wasn’t fulfilling for one that challenges me daily and that I love that happens to allow me to spend two extra days a week with this baby boy whom I adore.  Let’s get back to stuffing, something I know about.

I jest – I know nothing about stuffing.  This could be a total failure of a week.  But I’m going to try this recipe.  What about you guys? Will you be making stuffing this weekend?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put on my high heels and lipstick so that I can vacuum and iron Mr. B’s socks to his liking.

Rookie Thanksgiving: Sweet Potatoes

Oh sweet potatoes, I love you.  So, there was lots of interest in how these would look when I posted the recipe last week.  And here’s the step by step for Kate’s Thanksgiving Yam Balls
Take your boiled (or in my case, canned yams because I was too lazy to peel and boil sweet potatoes) sweet potatoes and mash them up with butter and brown sugar. 

 Take your marshmallow and form a ball of sweet potato around the marshmallow.  This is where you forgive my terrible photography focus – I changed the focus features on my camera in order to have better control and can’t remember how to change it back.  The result is 100% control over what’s in focus when I’m taking pictures, but a lot of blurry pictures when I hand the camera to B or set the timer function.  Oh well.
You stick your yams in a baking dish and freeze them.  I only froze them for an hour before baking and they hold their form much better if you freeze them for at least a day.
And here’s the finished product – an individual yam ball for everyone.  They’re so flipping good.

Mr. B’s family does candied yams – and they’re so good, too.  The flavors are all the same, the form and texture is really the only difference. 

Anyone going to give yam balls a try this year (please freeze them for 24 hours so they don’t crack like mine did)?  What other recipes do you all love?

Rookie Thanksgiving: Week Four

Let’s make one thing clear: I’m not a big fan of potatoes unless they’re sufficiently fattened up, but I’m a huge fan of sweet potatoes.  Baked, mashed, fried – I’m a fan.

In our house, sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving are a dividing issue.  Mr. B has his family’s Yams and I have mine.  This year Thanksgiving is with B’s family, so I’m making my family’s Yams for the challenge.

My mom assigned each of the kids a signature Thanksgiving dish growing up.  It didn’t actually make less work for her, but it got us involved.  I can make Cranberry Salad in my sleep now.  My sister was in charge of the yams – Sissy’s Yam Balls are my Thanksgiving staple.  It just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without some mashed yams rolled around a marshmallow. 

Kate’s Yam Balls:
Boiled Sweet potatoes (however many you need for your crew – 6 – 8′s probably good).
Brown Sugar and butter for mashing
Marshmallows
Corn Flakes (optional)
Pecans (optional)

So you mash your potatoes with the desired amount of brown sugar and butter.  Then you take a marshmallow and form a ball of sweet potato around the marshmallow.  You can roll each ball in crushed cornflakes and pecans if you want, I don’t.  Put in baking dish and freeze until 20 minutes before baking.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

What type of sweet potatoes do you have at Thanksgiving? 

Rookie Thanksgiving: Turkey and Gravy

This was a helluva week to pick Turkey.  Mr. B and I have been battling colds and are pretty much miserable excuses for human beings right now.  But, I promised you turkey and turkey you’ll get.

I followed the AllRecipes recipe for “Perfect Turkey”.  I generally trust AllRecipes and their rating system - if it has at least 4 stars and 50+ reviews, I’ll try a recipe. My philosophy usually works for me – rolls excepted – and it worked this time.  This was so freaking good, juicy and easy.

I brined the turkey for 12 hours, stuffed it and prepped it for roasting breast side down.  Lots of people suggested I use a turkey bag but I wanted to try my first turkey without too many accessories – I figure if I have a starting point I can better appreciate modern conveniences down the road.  I’ve told you before, I’m fickle.

It immediately smelled wonderful.  2/3 of the way through cooking, I flipped it so the bird was breast side up.  That was tricky.  But I made it work.

I allowed 15 minutes per pound of turkey and it was seriously  perfect to get the internal temperature to 165 degrees. As I opened the door when the timer went off the red turkey timer popped right up and the temperature was perfect.  I was amazed.
And here’s the turkey all carved up with its very tired and sick pajama wearing chef.  Yikes.
I forgot to take a picture of the gravy but it was good, too.  I made a very small batch and substituted white wine for half of the broth and loved the flavor.  Turkey pot-pie is on the menu for some of the leftovers.  And now I’m going back to bed provided Thomas cooperates - good thing I’m still wearing yesterday’s pajamas. 
I’ll post the McLinky for anyone who had a chance to participate.

Rookie Thanksgiving: Week Three

So, next week’s turkey and gravy.  This is the big one, folks.  Yikes.

So here’s the deal: The Rookie Thanksgiving Challenge isn’t garnering a lot of participation, which is fine. We’re all busy.  But I’m going to keep going, and if you want to join in at anytime, I’d love it.  I’m going to cook a full (small) bird this because I need practice, but you could grab a turkey breast at the grocery store if you want less food, too.

I’ll be using this recipe for the Turkey and hoping that AllRecipes does me better than it did with the rolls. 

Caroline was very concerned when she heard about my Thanksgiving challenge.  She promptly delivered a copy of her Make-Ahead Gravy to my house.  Now, I could actually do without the gravy at Thanksgiving – thick sauces aren’t my thing.  But I’m doing this challenge, so I’m going to do it right.

Here’s Caroline’s Make-Ahead Gravy (makes 5 – 6 cups)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup flour
Salt and Pepper
4 to 5 cups rich stock
Warmed turkey drippings and giblets (optional)

  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add onion.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes).
  • Spirnke the flour on the onions, stirring constantly, and cook until flour is golden to brown.
  • Adjust heat so mixtuer does not burn.
  • Gradually whisk in 4 cups stock until mixture thickens and is smooth (add liquid if it’s too thick)
  • Cool, cover and chill.
  • When ready to serve, reheat mixture over low heat, stirring.  Scrape bottom of turkey pan and add drippings and giblets to gravy if desired. 
  • Taste andadjust seasoning, then serve.

Pioneer Woman recommends this turkey recipe and this one also gets good reviews.

See you next week for Turkey and Gravy!