November 2013 archive

Pumpkin Pie Lasagna

Last week the office had a pie contest. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds. I was good though and only tried one of the pies. I really had no choice since the person who made it sits right across from me. This pie was pretty much staring me in the face all day. Now I must admit, I am not a fan of the traditional pumpkin pie. I know that may sound un-American and a few of you are gasping in disbelief. But it just has never been my thing. However, this delectable treat that my coworker made forced me to reconsider my distaste for the pumpkin flavor. This pie is more of a layered trifold. There is whipped cream, mousse, more whipped cream, graham crackers, and chocolate. I mean really, how can you go wrong. I retrieved the recipe and now I must share it with all of you. It is quite simple and can easily be made in advance. A perfect dessert for Thanksgiving. I insist that you try this. Share it with your guests or keep the whole thing for yourself. I will not judge you either way. 

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 15 oz. can Pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 containers Cool Whip (8 oz)
1 Box graham crackers
1 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Whip softened cream cheese on medium speed for at least two minutes until fluffy.
2. Add heavy cream and continue to beat, increasing speed to medium high until cream is mixed into cream cheese.
3. Add powdered sugar, pumpkin, and spice. Mix on medium speed until well blended. 
*For stronger flavor, add the full can of pumpkin
4. Add 1 of the 8oz containers of Cool Whip and mix until combined. Plan on splitting the mousse into thirds for your layers.  
5. Cover the bottom of your pan with graham crackers, in a double layer.
6. Cover graham crackers with a layer of the pumpkin mousse. Add a small handful of mini chocolate chips on top and cover with a thin layer of Cool Whip. Repeat this twice so that you end up with three layers. 
7. Sprinkle the top layer with mini chocolate chips.
8. Refrigerate in air tight container for at least two hours so the graham crackers soften. Best served cold. 

Servings: 8-10

Thanksgiving Preparation

Norman Rockwell’s “The Thanksgiving Picture” (1942)

I would say that Thanksgiving is the biggest and most highly anticipated dinner party of the year. People spend weeks preparing for this event. The guest list, the menu, the entertainment…there are endless things you could spend time on to plan the perfect day. Creating this American tradition can become very daunting and stressful. However with a little planning and preparation you will be able to enjoy the company of your guests and savor your delicious meal. 
Below I have shared with you a few tips and tricks I have learned by watching others throughout the years. This year will in fact be my first year preparing the entire meal. I decided to follow my own advice to be sure that I can enjoy the day as well. 

1. Plan your menu.
The food is after all the main event. By planning ahead you will be able to save a lot of time and stress rather than waiting until a few days before. First you want to figure out how many people you will be serving. This will give you a general idea of how much you will need to make. To start, you want to choose a few light appetizers to hold people over until dinner. You do not want anything extra filling or heavy as everyone will be too stuffed to enjoy their dinner. Crudités, a cheese platter, or any assortment of savory dips are all good options.  Plus they can be prepared ahead of time. 

For the main course, you of course want turkey. If preparing a whole turkey, figure you’ll need a pound per person. Turkey breasts are good substitutes if you are only serving a small crowd. As far as the side dishes, try not to go overboard. There are so many options to choose from this can become quite difficult. Before you know it, you are mixing up ten different side dishes on top of the turkey itself. This can get a bit crazy and time consuming. Narrow down your choices to a handful of dishes. This way you are not overloaded with left overs and you’ll be able to save yourself some time in the kitchen. 

Now of course you cannot forget dessert. Pies are of course the traditional ending to a Thanksgiving meal. Although there are a plethora of other options. Again, try not to go too crazy and complicated. Three to five options, depending on your number of guests should be plenty. Just be sure to have enough for your each person to enjoy. 

2. Decor
The table setting can be just as important as the food itself. You want decor that will showcase your meal, but not overwhelm it. I enjoy the neutral colors of the season. Tans, greens, golds, and browns are all perfect for tablecloths and napkins. Throw in some pops of orange and purples for accents as well. If your table is big enough, utilize the food as the centerpiece. Throw in a few votive candles and you have yourself a beautiful tablescape. If you however will not be using the table to serve, try a few small bouquets of flowers in autumn hues. Be sure that the displays are short enough for people to see the person sitting across from them. Again, use a few votive candles to create a nice ambiance. For service, I like to use white plates and serving dishes. This will really show off the food that you’ve spent hours preparing for your guests.

3. Prepare ahead of time
There are quite a few items on your menu that I’m sure can be made or prepped ahead of time. Desserts and appetizers can definitely be made a few days in advance. This will also free up oven space on the big day. Cut up any fruits, vegetables, herbs, cheese, etc. and package them all to the desired measurement ahead of time. That way when it is time to cook the dish of choice, your prep work is already complete. Cranberry sauce, soups, or any other side dishes that are able to be made in advance can be quickly reheated and served to, again, save you more time. I can not stress enough, the more you prepare ahead the easier your Thanksgiving day will be. 

I hope that these few tips and tricks will assist in your Thanksgiving Day planning. Be sure to share any of your favorite recipes, ideas, or tips as well! 

Happy Planning! 


This is the first holiday season in our new home. Naturally, I am very excited about this. Anyone who knows me is aware of my love for this time of year. So when my mom had asked me to host Thanksgiving this year, I jumped right into. After agreeing, I decided I should have a test run. It would after all be my first Thanksgiving dinner that I cook entirely on my own. This is when I decided I would host “Friends-Giving”! We like to have “family” dinner whenever possible, so why not host the biggest dinner event of the year! This way I could test out some of my recipes on a large group of people and have fun while doing it. 

The evening started out with a handful of people, but quickly turned into a lovely dinner party. I asked that everyone contribute in some way. I cooked the turkey (along with a few side dishes) and everyone else brought various other desserts, beverages, and accompaniments. 

Below is what our menu looked like:
Two turkey breasts: One roasted, another was cooked in the slow cooker.
Mashed potatoes
Sweet Potato Hash (This dish was previously mentioned in the last “My Week of Dinners” post made by Deirdre)
Macaroni and Cheese
Green Bean Casserole
Pulled Pork
Cranberry Sauce
Crescent Rolls
Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Apple Tart
Strawberry Cream Pie
Every last bit of it was delicious. And of course, we were all stuffed to the brim upon finishing. It turned out to be a lovely evening with a great group of friends. Quattro of course was enjoying the company as well. 

After cleaning up, I realized I had two breast bones left over. I decided that I would not let them go to waste. Tonight I made turkey stock which I figured will be perfect for various dishes on actual Thanksgiving next week. It was pretty simple too!

Turkey Stock

Turkey breast bones
1/2 onion, cut in half
3 carrots, roughly chopped
3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
8 sprigs of time
Palm full of whole peppercorns

Place all of the ingredients in a stock pot. Fill the pot with water until the turkey bones are covered. Bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for about 2-3 hours. Strain the liquid into a container and seal. Refrigerate or freeze once cooled. 

This recipe can easily be used for chicken stock as well. If using a whole turkey carcass, double up on the veggies.

Keep Calm and Play On

Image found off google. 

I have been kicking a soccer ball around since the age of five and haven’t stopped since. I played in a recreational league throughout my youth. Once I was old enough, I was a part of a travel indoor and outdoor team. By the time I had reached high school, I had already been playing for 10 years.
However, I will never forget how nervous I was for try outs the summer before my freshman year. Coming from a very small elementary school put me and my childhood friend at a slight disadvantage. The girls coming from the junior high already knew everyone trying out. The coaches already knew some of them as well. We prepped over the summer by attending soccer camps during the day and running in the evening. Our hard work paid off because we both made the freshman team. To top it off, our team went on to have one of the best seasons yet. I continued playing through my junior year. Unfortunately, an injury I obtained from rowing crew didn’t allow me to play all throughout high school. 

Post high school graduation I knew I was not going to play at the college level especially since I attended a Division 1 school. I was not ready to “retire” yet though. There is a local indoor soccer facility that runs several different leagues of all ages, genders, and skill level. I joined a woman’s league to start out. This team consisted of the girls who I had been playing with all throughout my life. Eventually, The Gym Class Heroes were formed. This team was coed consisting of a mixture of friends and family. We had people who had never played soccer in their life and others who have been playing for years. It didn’t matter though. We were there just to have fun. The team continued on for several more years. People came and went. Today, there are only two of us from the original team still playing. We play in the mens league (myself being the only female) and now go by Above Relegation. It’s pretty funny though because those who are on my team now I only know because of soccer. 

2009 Gym Class Heroes Team

Soccer is one of those things that will always be a part of my life. Even when I am no longer able to play, I would love to try coaching again at any age level. And though I am far from the best player on the field, I love to play. The competitive nature is a great stress releaser plus its a great means of exercise. It really is one of the highlights of my week. I hope to continue playing for many years to come. 

Side Note: I tried getting a team photo after our games tonight, but everyone was so tired and ready to go home after two long games I was unsuccessful. 

My Week of Dinners

I figured I would make this topic a monthly occurrence. It seems that once a month I have an overload of dinner events in one weeks time. This is a perfect opportunity to share with all of you and document it for my own memories. 

Nick and I had his uncle and family over for dinner the night before. I haven’t made my own spaghetti sauce in quite a few years. I figured this was a great time to break out my old recipes and see what I could concocked. After a few twerks, I think I came up with a pretty decent sauce. To go along with the sauce I made turkey meatballs, spaghetti, and Caesar salad.  Of course I made too much, so we had the leftovers for dinner on Monday night. 

This week was Deirdre’s night to host. I must say, she hit this one out of the park. She kept an autumn theme to her meal by making roasted pork with an apple topping, sweet potato hash, and sautéed green beans. We finished the meal with a sour cream apple pie. Every last bit of it was amazing. 

Sabrina, Jamie, Joyce, and I had our monthly dinner date. There is a local Italian chain that opened up a new restaurant in the area. We decided to try out the new location. To start we had Italian nachos which consisted of fried ravioli noodles, Italian sausage, Asiago cheese, and various other toppings. It was actually quite delicious. For my main course I had tortellini with mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, and hot peppers. This was also very tasty, but boy was it spicy! 

I had been having a very long and difficult week at work. Nick was aware of this so he decided to cook me a dinner of grilled cheese and tomato soup. There is something so simple and enjoyable about this traditional childhood comfort food. Being the lover of spicy food that he is, Nick decided to add in jalepenos to his sandwich. 

Nick’s parents had the family over for dinner to spend some quality time with their relatives from out of town. We had homemade broccoli and sausage pizza, cheese pizza, shrimp scampi, and various other snacks. Unfortunately I was so wrapped up in conversation I forgot to get a picture of my meal. But trust me, it was Nick’s dad’s cooking, so it was delicious. 

Every few Saturdays I bartend for the day at a pub in my parents town. You really can not go wrong with any of the food they serve. However, since the past week had been full of carbs for dinner I stuck with a greens salad with grilled chicken, walnuts, gorgonzola, and balsamic vinaigrette. Again, I was busy serving customers so I was not able to get a quick picture of my meal. But I am sure you can picture it. 

Today we celebrated Nick’s grandfather’s 80th birthday. Most of the extended family went out to a local Italian restaurant. It was a very nice afternoon of good food and family time. Nick and I shared a small caesar salad, which sadly had a tad too much garlic. My meal however was delectable. I had rigatoni and chicken in a spicy tomato sauce. And of course you can’t forget the birthday cake. Yellow cake with strawberry filling and whipped cream frosting. MmmmMmmm!

Quattro Meets Kato

It is strange how social media can connect people in so many different ways. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…they are all a part of our every day lives and can bring you in contact with the most coincidental situations. We had a pretty crazy experience this past year that brought together Quattro and his brother. 


It’s a Mexican Fiesta!

Every quarter my LM ladies and I like to get together outside of the confines of work. A time for us to actually see each other rather than communicating through instant messenger. A time for us to talk about something other than spreadsheets, numbers, conference calls, and reps. This weekend was our Q3 (a little late…oops!) gathering!
Theresa and Sarah came over Saturday afternoon so we could embark on part one of our adventure. With Quattro in tow, we headed out to a park that is about 30 minutes away for a nice afternoon hike. We were a little skeptical at first since it was raining the entire way there. However, as soon as we pulled into the park the rain had let up and we were on our way. Fortunately there were still leaves on the trees. The beautiful fall colors and the amazing views were a great way to start our day. We completed about a 45 minute hike followed by a quick pit stop at a local farm for some delicious cider doughnuts. 

Upon returning to my house, we figured we should keep up the active part of our day. We completed a mini yoga session to relax our minds and bodies. This was a great way for us to get ready for the festivities ahead. 

The theme for the evening was Mexican. Theresa mixed up 4 or 5 different flavors of margaritas. She even made a dessert marg with frozen yogurt and tequila! For dinner, I made fajitas with a corn and black bean salad on the side. Sarah provided the snacks of tortilla chips, guacamole, and salsa! We really went all out. The rest of the evening consisted of delicious drinks, tasty food, and hilarious games. Theresa was even so gracious as to provide an “authentic” piñata for us to break open. 

We rounded out the evening with a late night showing of one of our favorite Hollywood box-office hits…Pitch Perfect!