White Chocolate Cranberry Pie

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  Mark’s brother and his dear family came down and spent several days with us.   We ate a TON, played games, explored the city, and went to the beach.  It was so very nice and relaxing.  I’m so grateful that we are now closer to many of our family members since our move.  It was nice to, once again, see my Thanksgiving table full of family.  Since the first year of our marriage, I’ve made big dinners with any combination of people apt to show up, but the last 3 years -with apartment living and then a newborn for two consecutive holidays- made things very quiet and simple.  Too simple for our tastes.  We like our big Thanksgivings.  🙂

049

Our menu consisted of the usual fare, and then some new recipes.  The first thing I did differently is that I hopped on the turkey brining bandwagon.  It was a good decision!  I’ll definitely keep doing that every year.  I think Alton Brown (Food Network guru) started that craze a few years ago, so a lot of people use his brine recipe.  I went a little more simple with mine and I wouldn’t change a thing.  It was SO tender and juicy!  This recipe is similar to the one I used except I added some sugar and used poultry seasoning instead of all of those different spices (poultry seasoning us just a mixture of all of those).

I  made an incredible dressing recipe that combined regular stuffing and cornbread.  It was completely perfect for those of us with Northern roots and our Southern born and bred children.  It’s definitely a keeper for this house!  Mama’s Cornbread Dressing.  I also used her Brussels Sprouts with Bacon recipe for a side.  Totally yummy… but it has bacon, so what could go wrong?  I plan to make that throughout the year, too.

Now for the big dog, life-changer of a pie/tart that I found on Pinterest.    {Original recipe was found on Diet Hood}

White-Chocolate-Cranberry-Tart-1-@diethood-682x1024

Let me start by saying – I hate white chocolate.  It tastes like sweet wax or something and I think it’s gross.  So I was trying this recipe only to be nice to my family who, for whatever reason, adores the stuff.    But then… then… I took a spoonful of the filling just to make sure it didn’t taste completely wonky, and OH. MY. LANDS.  I then took another spoonful just to make sure it wasn’t a dream… then another…  Anyway, when the whole thing is assembled, it’s even better with the cranberries and pistachios.

I made a few modifications to the original recipe so that is what I’m posting here.  The big one is that I made it a pie (easier) rather than a tart using a pre-made pie crust.  I also changed the filling by whipping it, making it fluffy and more of a meringue consistency.  It was a TOTAL hit, and I will be making it again for Christmas, for sure!  The recipe:

 

White Chocolate Cranberry Pie

1 premade pie crust

1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries (reserve a small handful for garnish)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

12 oz white chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

2 tbsps. chopped pistachios

Place crust in pie plate and poke holes with a fork in the bottom to prevent bubbling.  Bake according to package directions.  Remove and cool.  Place the cranberries, sugar and water into a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.  Lightly mash the mixture and then place into the fridge to cool completely.  Put the white chocolate chips into the food processor or finely chop them with a knife.  Combine chopped white chocolate with whipping cream into a bowl and microwave for 1 minute, then stir.  Repeat for another minute until the chips are melted.  Let it cool for a few minutes, and then whip it with an electric mixer until it is fluffy (about 5 minutes, give or take).  Place the cranberry mixture into the pie crust and then pour the white chocolate mixture on top of that.  Sprinkle the pistachios and the reserved cranberries on top (I sliced mine in half).  Place back into the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Enjoy!!

 

Celebrating Babies

{I’m going to “fudge” a little on this post and change the date back to November when I SHOULD have gotten this post up.  As it stands, the majority of November was 79 kinds of insane around here -the good kind, filled with guests- but, I didn’t have time to update.}

We celebrated the girls’ joint party on the weekend in between their birthdays this year.  I’d heard that they would need therapy if we didn’t give them their own special party each year (literally, when I was pregnant with Carah, a man told me that he was in therapy because his parents celebrated his and his brother’s birthdays together since they were born a few days apart), but I decided that I’d take that chance.  😀

It was a pretty small party, but what a sweet time!  We enjoyed a beautiful cake that had hot pink icing on it.  I won’t forget that detail because it was IMPOSSIBLE to get out of whatever it touched… and it touched a lot.  Mark’s khaki shorts will forever bear the markings of his baby girls’ birthday party… ha!  Then they opened their gifts from us and the grandparents.  Isa received a Sesame Street “Zoe” doll.  She was so pleased when she opened it.  She just looked at her for many moments and then pulled her close and said “awwww, I love you, too“.  SOOOO sweet!!

Carah was given a tea set that actually makes a pouring sound when tilted.  They play with that constantly!  It also sings a sweet little song about tea time.  Truly, a darling little toy that is perfect for little girls (Christmas idea, if you need one!).

We bought the girls a Little People Musical Ride-onHUGE hit!  They really love that, too!  It is used many, many times a day around here.  You can almost always find one of them on it with an older sibling pushing them all around the downstairs.

A few pictures:

 

isacarahparty

isazoe

 

tea1

 

tea2

 

girlstruck

 

zoomzoom

Just a few days later, this little one woke up to being a bonafide two year old!

Isa2ndbirthday

She is just as curious as a two-year-old can be.  In fact, I had a hard time ever getting her to look up for her pictures because she was so very busy exploring.  I love that so much!

isadandelion1

 

isadandelion2

 

isawalking

 

isaleaf

 

isajake

 

isaacorn

She is a chatterbox if ever there was one.  Her word count is through the roof and for that, I’m very grateful, because I’m really trying to teach her to “use her words” to tell us what she needs rather than get upset which is the norm for her age.  She is doing well!  She can count to ten and sing her ABC’s and several other songs.  She loves music and adores dancing around to any beat.  What a joy she is to all of us!

I am going to do a post in the (hopefully) near future about our journey and how we came to the decision to have a vasectomy reversal which resulted God’s merciful blessing of these two girls.  It is such a strong passion of mine and I’m hoping that, somewhere along the way, we can be an encouragement to others who are at some point on that road.   I know what an encouragement reading others’ thoughts and stories were to me, and how they were used by God in our lives to get us to where we are today, and I’d like to do that for others if it pleases him.  All of that to say, I’d appreciate your prayers if it crosses your mind!

Now, I must be off because my coffee is cool and everyone is slowly rolling out of bed hoping for a bit of breakfast.  Have a fantastic day!

 

Baby Bean’s Birthday

Yesterday was our little Care Bear’s 1st birthday.   I can hardly believe that we are already here, yet it feels like my little muffin has always been around bringing us joy.  She’s such an easygoing little sweetie pie.

CarahCatesfirstbirthday

A few things about her so that I won’t forget:  She only has TWO teeth!  She is definitely my latest teether.  I can see that those top four are very close to popping through, but it’s no big deal if they wait, because she is quite the eater.  That “no teeth” issue isn’t stopping my Baby Bean from enjoying almost all of the things that we eat, just finely chopped.  There isn’t really anything that she has outright rejected; she’ll scarf down most anything we put in front of her.

She is very close to walking.  She has amazing balance and has been walking all over place for a month now; she just have to have one finger touching something ~just in case.  Any day now, really, we expect her to muster up the courage.  It was the Christmas tree lights that did it for her sister, so it will be interesting to see what finally lures her.

carahcatefirstbirthday2

After we gave her one of her presents (Isa’s 2nd birthday is next week, so we are going to have a joint party this weekend), we put her in her high chair and broke into the Happy Birthday song.  She was thoroughly befuddled that all of her family was staring at her, singing, so she kept moving her little head around looking at each of us like “this is really rather strange”.  Ha!

cc1stbdaycake

After all of that “weirdness” was over, she was quite happy to forget about it and dive into the sugary pink goodness that sat in front of her.

cc1stbdaycake2

It was a really sweet birthday.  I’m so glad that God chose to bless us with this little angel and in the exact timing that He did.  I remember being a little dumbfounded when I realized that we were having another baby when I was holding my three month old, but still, I was so happy.  After I picked up my jaw, I thought, “Ok, God.  Let’s do this thing.  You know what’s best”.  Indeed He does.  There have been moments that it’s been overwhelming to have them so close in age, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s good work, and the blessing and joy outweigh all of that by a million tons.  I wouldn’t dream of changing a single thing.  Happy Birthday, my sweet Carah Cate!

 

Charleston’s Tomato Pie

Tuesdays are turning out to be an exciting day for this mama.  I happened upon a little gem – one that I’d been wishing to find for the last few years, but could never seem to locate in Mississippi.  Then, as I was minding my own business, browsing the internet {boy is that an oxymoron…ha!}, a little piece of info popped up that made me almost stand up and clap.  There is this amazing little organic produce distributor that brings fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies straight to my doorstep once a week.  LOVE.  This was our loot yesterday:

021

Well, this picture was taken after some of the temptuous pears and apples were already devoured. 🙂  My kids even love it when these boxes show up, and seriously?  Is there anything happier than a house full of kids who are excited about produce delivery?  They snatch things straight out of the box each time, so that, in-and-of-itself makes me a loyal customer.

We chose to get a “variety box” which means that they decide what we receive each week.  We have the option to pick-and-choose what we would like, too, but for right now, I like this option better because I tend to get into ruts.  When I get surprised with the contents, I am motivated to get creative.  Just one ingredient can spark my Inner Recipe Box of about 3 different things to make, and building my menus around fresh produce is a huge score in our effort to eat healthier foods.

Last week, we were given pomegranates.  We all really like those, but for whatever reason, I pass them up in the stores.  I was so pleased when my kids were gobbling them up for snacks… willingly.  Isa had a little cup that I kept refilling with the seeds.  She LOVED them and *I* loved all the nutrients that she -and the others- were getting.

We also got some big, beautiful, deep-red, juicy tomatoes.  We are a little ”sandwiched-out” around here for lunches, so they flat-out screamed to be used in a tomato pie {which, by the way, is not as nutritious as eating raw pomegranate.. ha!}.  When Mark and I were first here and visiting new churches, we attended such a friendly one on one particular Sunday that we were leaving a solid hour after service was over because of all of the folks that were wanting to chat.  As we were about to get into the van, a nice man came running up yelling “WAIT!”  I stepped back out, and he handed me this little tin pie plate and said “I make these for my friends here.  People beg me for them, and one of my friends didn’t show up, so you get blessed!”  I admit, I laughed when I got into the van and said “well, that was one confident intro!  I’m excited to see if it lives up to the hype”!   I came home and plopped that thing right into the oven to have as a side dish to our roast, and it was indeed YUMMY!

I didn’t get the guy’s recipe, but I searched for recipes that seemed to have the same ingredients/flavor.  I found a few that I tweaked to make it our own, and then I made it for lunch with all of those pretty tomatoes that came in last week.  It fit the bill VERY nicely, so I thought I’d share with you!  I didn’t know the fellow’s name, of course, so I just called it Charleston.  😉

 

010

*Charleston’s Tomato Pie*

Tomatoes – sliced (about 4 medium sized)
1 onion – chopped
1 tbsp basil – chopped
1 tsp oregano – chopped
1 sprig rosemary – stripped and chopped
{or you could use about a tbsp of dried Italian seasoning}
black pepper
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup grated mozzarella
1 cup mayonaisse
1 premade pie crust

Salt both sides of each tomato slice and place in a colander to drain of excess liquid.  This takes 30 minutes to an hour. {Note: This is a VERY important step, so that you don’t end up with a soggy pie!}. Preheat oven to 350*.  Poke holes in the bottom of the pie crust and bake for 10 minutes.  Saute chopped onions until they are just translucent and then remove from heat.  Mix together the cheddar, mozzarella, and mayo, and then add the sautéed onion.  Add black pepper that that mixture to taste.  Chop basil, oregano and rosemary.  Line the pie crust with the sliced tomatoes, and then keep layering until the crust is full.  Add the cheese and onion mixture on top of the tomatoes.  Finally, add your chopped herbs.  Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Let the pie sit for about 10 minutes before serving to firm up.  Enjoy!

I saw some recipes that mentioned adding bacon or jalapenos and I think either of those {or both!} would be GREAT additions!  I just haven’t tried it yet!  This makes a great side dish, or a stand alone lunch/brunch item.  Let me know if you try it!

Gayle

Thirteen

Some things defy explanation.  Like how we went from this…

mamajuju

…to this, in a mere blink of an eye.

mamajuju

My little girl blossomed into this wonderful young lady so fast that my head is still reeling from the whiplash.  Don’t get me wrong; I am loving this stage with her – the one where she is transitioning to woman from child – because as quickly as I admire those glimpses of the woman that she will one day become, I’m also still blessed with a girl who is, right at this very second, jumping feverishly on the trampoline with her little brother giggling for the entire neighborhood to hear.  What a blessed time.

We celebrated her grand entrance into her 13th year by having a Girls Only Day downtown with Nana.  We went to a museum that Juju has wanted to see since we moved here, and then we toured an antebellum home.  It was perfect weather.  We walked a lot and popped in on some of the little shops, too.  We went to a wonderful little café for lunch where we sat, talked and unhurriedly enjoyed each other’s company.

nanajuju1

 

nanajuju2

 

nanajuju3

 

nanajuju4

I couldn’t help but think of all that the future might hold with many more wonderful days like this with my girls and their Nana.  I kept thinking right at that moment that this, ~this~ is what fruit is.  My fruit.  Nana’s fruit.  My girl’s legacy… and even though it’s pretty bruised and dinged up in places, it’s sweet, and it’s good because God is all over it.

I can’t express how much I look forward to what He’s going to do with her in the years to come.  She loves Him and He loves her, so whatever it is, it will be beautiful.

 

Sunrise, Sea Turtles, & Squeeze

One day last week, I woke up around 5:30 in the morning and could not get back to sleep.  After realizing it wasn’t going to happen, I tiptoed up to Squeeze’s room and gently shook his shoulder.  When he popped up,  I whispered “would you like to go on the grandest of Grand Morning Adventures?”.  He nodded, half-awake and like it wasn’t a big deal that his mama was being a little weird in the pre-dawn hour.  So I told him to be super quiet and to meet me downstairs after he got dressed and brushed his teeth.  In about 5 minutes, he was sweetly sitting on the couch waiting for me.

I grabbed some coffee and my camera, then we headed out the door to go look for signs of sea turtles.  This business can only be done early, early, early, and while we weren’t quite early enough to actually see a mama or the hatchlings in action, we were certainly hoping to find signs of a freshly laid nest to report.

Once we arrived at the beach, this is what we were greeted with {these photos are intentionally unedited because God’s mornings are way too beautiful for all of that}:

It was still a little dark because we still had about 10 minutes before the sun burst forth over the horizon in an indescribable way.  This is the best that I can do, though:

It was so beautiful.  I don’t know how anyone can stand near the sea, especially at this hour, and not be moved to worship the Creator.   I could do this every single day.

After the tide was left undisturbed all night, there were many treasures left in the sand:

Andrew even found several remnants of sand dollars:

But the absolute best treasure of all?  Finding what we came for!

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; 

his mercies never come to an end;  

they are new every morning;   

great is your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23