Living in the Moment..

I have noticed this year more than any years before, that we barely make it out of one holiday, before we are thrown into the next one.  This year Halloween, was immediately followed by Christmas.  It seems that other than the Grocery Stores most major retailers skipped right over Thanksgiving.  I guess, its not a money maker, like the other holidays.

Maybe, I was just too busy to notice in the past years.  But, this year I almost felt cheated. After all, we have soo much to be thankful for.  I always say my story begins in New Jersey, because that is where I was raised.  So, in light of Hurricane Sandy and all the devastation that came behind it, I am extremely grateful that my family and friends pretty much came out of it unscathed.

To Donate to the Victims of Hurricane Sandy

There is something about natural disasters that make you stop and appreciate all the things that we sometimes take for granted.

So this year, I am making an extra effort to live in the moment.  To savor every second of mayhem and confusion that comes from the kids being home for Thanksgiving break.  The joys of traveling with two little ones out of town.  And, the opportunity for my children to get a chance to spend time with their “cousins”, while we are visiting!!

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Sides

We’ve been lead to believe that the Turkey is the most important part of the Thanksgiving Meal.  But, I personally think that the Sides are equally as important when pulling off a meal that everyone will enjoy.

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Sides - Some Traditional and Not So Traditional Recipes

Here are some of our Favorites, some traditional, and some not so traditional!!

Favorite Thanksgiving Sides - Recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole found on Southern Living Sweet Potato Casserole

Favorite Thanksgiving Sides - Recipe for Squash Casserole found on Southern Living

Squash Casserole

Favorite Thanksgiving Sides - Recipe for Cajun Corn Maque Choux found on Southern Living

Cajun Corn Maque Choux

What are your favorite Thanksgiving Sides?  Consider sharing the recipe or the link with us in the comment section below.

My First Thanksgiving Turkey!!

A couple of years ago, I made my first turkey.  I was soo nervous, I was even dreaming about the turkey.  What if it didn’t turn out right, what if it was too dry, etc. etc.? But, it turned out great, and I am a big fan of “IF IT AINT BROKE, DON’T FIX IT”.  So here is the tried and true recipe I found here for a Yummy Juicy Turkey!!

Roasting Tips for a Moist and Tasty Turkey

There are many methods used to cook a moist and tasty Roasted Turkey. Most methods rely on basting. The turkey can be basted every 30 minutes with a basting bulb, or covered with cheesecloth soaked in butter. Other methods include brining the turkey (soaking in a salt water solution for 8-10 hours), or injecting a basting solution into the meat. Whatever method you prefer, proper roasting is key to tender moist meat.

** Personal Note: As my basting sauce, I used one stick of butter, rosemary, cracked black pepper, chicken broth, sage, and thyme.

Completely thaw the turkey.  Start early and thaw the turkey in the refrigerator or in a place where the air temperature is no higher than 40 degrees.  A 20-pound turkey takes about two or three days to thaw completely.  Be sure the turkey is thawed completely, until no ice appears in the inner cavity and the meat is soft.  Be careful:  If the inner cavity is still frozen or even partially frozen when you put the turkey in the oven, the outside of the bird will be done before the inside, and the inside temperature will  not be hot enough to destroy disease causing bacteria, or if it is, the outside meat will be dried out before the center is done.

Remove the neck and giblets from the cavities. If this is your first time cooking the turkey, be sure that both cavities are emptied. Reserve the neck and giblets for use in preparing the giblet gravy, if desired.

Prepare the stuffing. If you are preparing the stuffing early, mix only the dry ingredients. It is recommended that you cook the stuffing separately, but if you do stuff the turkey, do not stuff it until you are ready to roast it. Stuff the cavity loosely. Do not pack it. If you choose to cook the stuffing separately, you can place a quartered onion and some celery leave and other desired herbs in the cavity for flavor.

Prepare a basting sauce. I prefer to baste with melted butter to which I add fresh or dried herbs. You can also baste with a mixture of wine and butter. Baste the turkey with your sauce and place a loose tent of aluminum foil over the turkey to prevent the skin from burning before the turkey is cooked. This tent will be removed during the last 45 minutes or so of cooking. If you are using cheesecloth, soak the cheesecloth with the basting sauce and place over the breast and drape onto the thighs. When using cheesecloth, you do not need the foil tent. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes during roasting.

Roast your turkey at 325 degrees for the recommended time for the weight of your turkey. These times are approximate and should be confirmed with a meat thermometer. Be sure to check the thermometer about 3/4th of the way through the time indicated so as not to overcook. Dry meat will result if the turkey is overcooked. The following table gives approximate times for roasting turkey at 325 degrees F.

Estimated Cooking Times

Wt. of Turkey Unstuffed Stuffed

10-18 lbs 3- 3 1/2 hrs. 4 – 4 1/2 hrs

18-22 lbs 3 1/2 – 4 hrs 4 1/2 – 5 hrs.

22-24 lbs 4- 4 1/2 hrs 5 – 5 1/2 hrs

24-29 lbs 4 1/2- 5 hrs 5 1/2 – 6 1/2 hrs

The turkey must be roasted all at once. You cannot partially cook it ahead for later finishing. This method has been shown to increase the chances of food borne illnesses.

For safety and doneness the internal temperature must reach 180 degrees F in the thigh and 170 in the center of the breast. If the turkey is stuffed, the stuffing should reach 165 degrees F in the cavity. This temperature is essential to prevent food borne disease, and should be measured with a meat thermometer. The pop-up thermometer that comes in many turkeys serves as a good approximate of doneness, but should not be relied on as the ultimate authority. When placing the meat thermometer in the thigh or breast, it is important not to touch the bone. The bone conducts heat and will be hotter than the meat. Do not allow the cooked meat to come into contact with anything that has touched the raw turkey.

During the last 30 – 45 minutes of cooking, remove the foil tent to encourage browning. If you desire to use a glaze, spread it over the turkey now with a pastry brush.

My First Thanksgiving Turkey - A Recipe for a Super Moist Bird

Pulling off your first Holiday Meal, is a right of passage.  It can definitely be stressful, but it can also be very fulfilling.  Good Luck!!

Morning Melt Down

I know I am not the only who has to fight with their kids to get ready each morning.  And, knowing that, still does not make me feel better.  I hate to start my day or baby girl’s day by fussing, but what is the alternative.  We start our morning earlier, I get her stuff ready before I wake her up.  I take care of all the “prep work”, and still its hard to get her out of the house without a struggle.

If you asked me why, I would tell you it’s because we both have our own agenda’s.  She needs to write the date on her Dry Erase Board and the day.  She needs to make sure that her socks look just so, with her jeans, and sneakers.  Yes, shes 8 and already way too fashion conscious, I suppose a monster which Mommy created.  So, the question, is how to get our agenda’s to mesh.

Which leads me to Problem Solving 101, do I wake her up earlier and cut into my Mommy Alone/Exercise Time?  Do I wake up even earlier to maintain my sanity?  Do I put her to bed in her clothes for the next day?  I am kidding of course, right??

Anyway, stay tuned… since the kid’s are on Vacation Next week.. to see how I handle… this.. and find a way to bring some peace to our morning routine



Happy Friday!!

This year has come with a lot of change for me.  For the record, I am not a fan of change, unless of course I am the one initiating it.  But, some change is beyond our control.  In August, after twelve years with the same company, I found myself laid off, and having to change directions mid-sail.  For me that meant, so many things.  I had to acknowledge and accept that so much of my identity was tied up in my job, and in the process, start to both reinvent and rediscover myself.  I had to make a shift from full time employee, to full time
stay at home mom and wife, while at the same time trying hard to hold on to some semblance of “me”, without feeling bitter and angry and hurt.

Truth of the matter, is that I had to go through all those emotions.  There were lows, but there were highs too.  I worried about how this change would affect my family, and my marriage   And, I was right to worry.  But, I was also wrong.  This experience has given me the opportunity to experience and fully grasp things that I don’t know that I would have ever seen otherwise.  Like… I married an amazing man, I mean I knew that, but.  In the day to day of life, you sometimes lose track of why God made your spouse “just for you”.  My hubby and I are soo very different, but he was able to step back and let me go through all the things I needed to go through.  While softly, reassuring me that he had my back, and that he loved me, and that we would be ok.  I got a chance to be at home with my little one.  She is 2 and with my other two children, at this time in their life, I was fully vested in my work.  I never got to hang out with them and color in the middle of the day, blow bubbles, or just be silly and laugh, except maybe on the weekends.  And, although I fear she is getting too attached to me, I wouldn’t pass up this opportunity, if it came around again.  I have had a chance to spend more time with my 8 year old, and see life through her eyes. and see how much like me she is.


I am writing this post with tears in my life, because my life is rich.  I am blessed and highly favored, and through no doing of my own, but simply by God’s grace in my life and the life of my family.


This Week’s Pinterest Recipe ….

This past weekend was my “hubby’s birthday weekend”, or at least that’s when we chose to celebrate it, his actual birthday was on November 13th.  The “grands”, were sweet enough to keep the kids, so that we could get some alone time.  ALONE TIME, definitely one of my favorite things.

So, I took the opportunity to try out two new recipes that I found on…. wait for it, lol, PINTEREST.

These recipes definitely fall into the cold weather, comfort food categories.  So, I am not claiming that they are super healthy, just super tasty and a bit spicy.

Anyway,  check out, these recipes and the websites that they were linked from.

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili
(that’s a mouthful!)
2 chicken breasts, still frozen
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can corn kernels, do not drain
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
1 T cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t onion powder
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese
Put the chicken in the crock pot.
Top with the tomatoes, corn,
the drained and rinsed beans,
ranch dressing, cumin, onion and chili powders,
stir to combine then top with the cream cheese.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring one or twice
to blend in the cheese.
Shred the chicken into large pieces
and serve over rice.
Can also serve in tortillas or taco shells.
Serves 4(This would also make an excellent dip!)Enjoy!

** Now, instead of using a tortillas, rice or taco shell as recommended I made these!!

Cheesy Corn Cake Toppers found here at The Yummy Life.

Check it out and let me know how you like it!! Remember you can add and subtract from these recipes to dial down the spice!!

Welcome to my World!!

I don’t know why, but there is something about this time of the year that makes me giddy!! I don’t know if its the fact that my two favorite family holidays are right around the corner, or the fact that even at my age, I still get caught up in the magic of the season and all that it means.

That being said, I have been busy preparing and decorating for the holidays!! Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some great seasonal recipes, and even some ideas for how to make this time with your family even more special.