Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Kinda Gift

Not many ladies I know would love a Christmas gift like the one I got from my awesome husband. In fact, Janice asked Dave "are you absolutely sure she'll like this gift?"

(One lady I know would and if she reads this she should identify herself immediately...)

What means the most to me about this Christmas gift is the effort it took to plan this gift and execute it.

We are going to Tucson to watch the University of Arizona Wildcats play basketball and will spend the night at a great resort. He had to buy tickets from a broker in Atlanta, reserve a hotel room, make overnight arrangements for 5 kids, check our calendar, buy a sweatshirt and do all of this without me knowing. And he did it! Boy was I surprised and am I ever excited.

I've been a huge fan of U of A basketball for years. I had season tickets back in the day, for 4 out of the 5 years I was in Tucson (1984-1989). Lute Olsen is a great man and an amazing coach.

I think this is their year to win.

Go Cats!

I'll take lots of pictures! K?!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Magi

Matthew 2:9-12

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Will you bow down and worship king Jesus with me?

He alone is worthy of our praise and adoration.

I am overjoyed,

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Say Cheese!

I know for a fact that James would rather have a root canal than take our annual Christmas picture. Here he is at a stressful moment. Sarah is happy though.

I assure you Dani (the pouty one) is only being silly in this photo. She LOVES to have her picture taken. She often takes them of herself.

Towards the end of our session the kids moved from the hearth to the floor and it made for a more relaxed and fun picture. Here the girls are being goofy and cute and well, James is too cool for words. Check out the collar.

And last but not least.

Our 2006 Christmas picture.

It's the best I can do with 5 squirrels, um, blessings.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

From Heaven Above

This is a lovely book with beautiful illustrations. It is a Christmas carol written by Martin Luther in 1513 for his 5 year old son. The illustrator, Guy Porfirio, lives in Tuscon.

You can listen to it at The Cyber Hymnal

From Heaven Above To Earth I Come
Martin Luther

From Heaven above to earth I come,
To bear good news to every home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing.

To you, this night, is born a Child
Of Mary, chosen mother mild;
This tender Child of lowly birth,
Shall be the joy of all your earth.

’Tis Christ our God, Who far on high
Had heard your sad and bitter cry;
Himself will your Salvation be,
Himself from sin will make you free.

He brings those blessings long ago
Prepared by God for all below;
That in His heavenly kingdom blest
You may with us forever rest.

These are the tokens ye shall mark,
The swaddling clothes and manger dark;
There shall ye find the young Child laid,
By Whom the heavens and earth were made.

Now let us all, with gladsome cheer,
Follow the shepherds, and draw near
To see this wondrous Gift of God,
Who hath His own dear Son bestowed.

Give heed, my heart, lift up thine eyes!
What is it in yon manger lies?
Who is this Child, so young and fair?
The blessèd Christ Child lieth there!

Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
Through Whom e’en wicked men are blest!
Thou com’st to share our misery,
What can we render, Lord, to Thee!

Ah, Lord, Who hast created all,
How hast Thou made Thee weak and small,
To lie upon the coarse dry grass,
The food of humble ox and ass.

Were earth a thousand times as fair,
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
She yet were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.

For velvets soft and silken stuff
Thou hast but hay and straw so rough,
Whereon Thou King, so rich and great,
As ’twere Thy heaven, art throned in state.

Thus hath it pleased Thee to make plain
The truth to us, poor fools and vain,
That this world’s honor, wealth and might
Are naught and worthless in Thy sight.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Here in my poor heart’s inmost shrine,
That I may evermore be Thine.

My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song.

Glory to God in highest Heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given,
While angels sing, with pious mirth,
A glad New Year to all the earth.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Around Our House

I've been snapping pictures just so I could participate in this fun day!

This was Boomama's great idea! And guess what? She loves Diet Coke. :)

Welcome! Come on in!

These are new this year. I bought them at Gold Canyon Candle Co. I can't wait to light them.

I love Costco! Even their Poinsettias are BIG!

This Nativity is very special to our family. It was given to our parents in 1972 and Nancy gave it to me several years ago. I think my Dad's parents gave it to them and I still have the original box from Marshall Fields. Dave is very kind to allow me to keep the box as it is in terrible shape and should be replaced. He understands.

I'll post more later but I must go now.

UPDATE I have time to add a few more.
Enjoy. And thanks for the comments.

Now I usually don't have fresh flowers around my house but I bought these to have for my dinner party on Saturday night. They are sitting on my kitchen table, can you see the white board in the background? :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gourmet Again......

Baked Asparagus
Kathleen Daelemans

2 bunches asparagus, washed
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse grained salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place asparagus in a large plastic bag. Drizzle half the olive oil over the asparagus, seal the bag and shake until asparagus is coated evenly with the olive oil. If necessary, add only enough of the remaining olive oil to coat the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a single layer on a cookie sheet, season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender or crunchy depending upon your preference, about 12 to 20 minutes.

Serves: 8

Isn't that a great recipe? Easy and delicious.

And now, the most important part of the dinner, the whole reason I am going to all of this trouble ;-)

The dessert:

Creme Brulee
Alton Brown

1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 C. vanilla sugar, divided
6 large egg yolks
2 quarts hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 C. sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8 oz) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40-45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining ½ C. vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Serves: 6

My friend, Elizabeth is so excited to be the one to bring/prepare this dessert. She is happy to be out shopping for ramekins and a torch!!

The Menu

Hot Jalapeno Crab Dip
Caesar Salad
Bourbon Beef Tenderloin
Wild Rice Casserole
Baked Asparagus
Creme Brulee

You should try it sometime. I've gone to the trouble to collect the recipes, now you do it for your family. Won't they be surprised and blessed.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gourmet Continued....

Main Course

Bourbon Beef Tenderloin
Paula Deen

1 cup bourbon
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 bunch parsley, leaves chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water
3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped
1 (5-pound) beef tenderloin, silver connective tissue removed
Oil, to brush grill

Preheat grill or oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare marinade by combining the bourbon, brown sugar, soy sauce, cilantro, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, water, and thyme in a bowl. Make sure the tenderloin has been cleaned and the tissues have been removed. Fold the tail end of the beef back underneath itself so that it is of uniform thickness and secure with butcher's string. Place meat in a dish and pour marinade over meat, cover, and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, or up to overnight, turning meat over several times.

When grill is ready, place meat on oiled surface and reserve the liquid from the marinade. Cook over high heat with lid closed, turning meat often and occasionally basting with the marinade. Cook for approximately 25 minutes for medium rare.

Serve with horseradish cream on the side.

Serves: 8-10

Side Dish

Wild Rice Casserole

1 1/2 C. wild rice
2 cans beef consumme
2 cans water
1/2 C. + 2 T. butter
1 C. chopped onion
2 T. chopped green pepper
1/2 - 1 pound fresh mushrooms
1 C. whipping cream
1/2 C. grated parmesan cheese

Soak and rinse the rice through. Cook rice in consumme and water 45-60 minutes, cover slightly. Saute onion and green pepper. Saute mushrooms. Add to rice. Put rice mixture into 2 1/2 quart casserole. Pour cream over rice a and dot with butter. Cover with parmesan cheese.

Bake @ 350 for 30 minutes

Serves: 8-10

This is a side dish so it doesn't necessarily have to be a new recipe, plus I'd break the rules just to serve this to my guests. It's. That. Good. We grew up eating this at Christmastime and always with a tenderloin. I think the whipping cream makes this dish extra special.

Are you salivating yet?

Next Gourmet post....a very simple vegetable and my all time favorite dessert that I've never had homemade. I cannot wait for this dinner.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Snow People on My Mind

Have you heard Willie Nelson's version of Frosty the Snowman? It's great and I'm not even a big fan of his.

I thought this cartoon was just darling and silly. HT: Janice.

This poor snowman got himself caught up in the latest man fad.

One more from
Artist Unknown

Adios Amigas

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gourmet Night

We were invited to join a small group of friends (three other couples) for a Gourmet Dinner Club about a year ago. The host couple (think wife) picks the entire menu and then gives the recipes for the appetizer, salad or soup and dessert to the other three ladies. The hosts are responsible for the table setting, main course and side dishes.

The "rules" are simple. These must be new recipes and something you and your friends have not made before. The food should be special ie not spaghetti and meatballs, enchiladas or meatloaf. (Three regular meals around here). We only get together about once every three months, rotating host couples/homes. This way it does not burden any one couple.

I am having Gourmet at my house on December 16th and I will be sharing my recipes and decorating ideas over the course of the next few posts.

We will start with the appetizer, of course.

Hot Jalapeno Crab Dip
Emeril Lagasse

1 pound lump crabmeat
1 tsp. chopped garlic
½ C. chopped pickled jalapenos
¼ pound Monterey Jack cheese with jalapenos, grated
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. hot sauce
½ tsp. salt
½ C. mayonnaise
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 recipe Toasted Croutons, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the crabmeat, garlic, jalapenos, Monterey Jack, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt and mayonnaise in a medium size mixing bowl. Toss gently to mix. Spoon the mixture into a medium-size mixing bowl. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly on the top of the crabmeat mixture. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving with the croutons.

Toasted Croutons:

1 loaf French bread (about 8 inches in diameter and 15 inches long), ends trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/4 –inch thick slices
5 T. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bread slices on the baking sheet and brush them with half of the olive oil, then sprinkle them with 1/8 tsp of the salt and 1/8 tsp of the black pepper. Turn to slices over, and brush them with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper. Bake for about 6 minutes, then turn the baking sheet around in the oven to ensure even browning. Bake until the croutons are lightly browned, about 6 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.

Yield: about 32 croutons
Serves: 8

And next is the Salad. You may think it is odd that I picked a simple Caesar salad....well, after doing a little checking, none of us have ever made a real caesar salad from scratch. Costco caesars do not count here!!

Caesar Salad
Emeril Lagasse

4 garlic cloves
4 egg yolks
2 anchovies
1 T. Dijon mustard
Juice of two fresh lemons
1 C. olive oil
Cracked black pepper
2 large heads of romaine lettuce, washed, ribbed and patted dry
3 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
12 oz. of salad croutons

Rub the inside of a large wooden bowl with the garlic cloves. Remove the garlic cloves, and finely chop. Add the egg yolks, remaining garlic, anchovies and mustard to the bowl. Whisk until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Whisk in the lemon juice. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, while whisking constantly. Whisk until all to the ingredients are incorporated. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Gently tear the lettuce into bit-sized portions and add to the salad bowl. Using a hand-held grater, grate the cheese into the bowl. Add the croutons. Toss the salad completely and re-season if necessary. Serve the salad on cold salad plates.

Serves: 6-8

Stay tuned for the main course and a very special, Wisconsin side dish.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Home At Last

Dave arrived home just as expected, Saturday night around 8:30. His trip went very well and he did not have any problems. Thank you for praying!

He ate at Cracker Barrel twice, both times he ordered fish and green beans. (!?)

He parked the truck in our driveway until we could take it down to the warehouse tonight. Here are a few shots of the new truck.

Tomorrow starts another week. The laundry machine is humming, the dryer buzzer just went off and dishes are in the sink. The house is decorated for Christmas and it looks very pretty. Four our of five children are sound asleep and one is still skipping around thinking of things to do to prevent her from going to bed. Her name is Hannah. Poor little Danielle is sick tonight with a fever and chills and a headache, she'll stay home and rest tomorrow. Hopefully it is not strep.

That's all for now. God bless you today and this upcoming week.

PS If you look closely, the truck in the previous post looks nothing like the one he brought home. Oh well, I tried :-0