Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Classy Thanksgiving


I had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope all of you did too!  The best part of my holiday is pictured above...Oh, Mr. Man-please stay six forever...

Unlike last year, I did not host 237 people at our house. Instead we went to my in-law's house which meant I had blissfully little responsibility around the whole event.  

All I made was this, my favorite Thanksgiving side dish...


It's my version of Classy Green Bean Casserole 
found on my go to cooking website, Allrecipes.com 


You read that right, it's green bean casserole-only classy.  How great is that?  I feel like maybe Ron Burgundy submitted this recipe...

It's actually a really great version of green bean casserole.  And I have to say, the way I make it ups the "Classy" factor ten fold.  No canned green beans for me, thank you.  That's not classy enough.  I like to use whole fresh green beans and then I blanch them.  Also, I keep the crushed butter soaked buttery crackers on top but I don't leave out the french fried onions as in the recipe.  I feel without french fried onions, green bean casserole has no reason to exist. I mix them into the casserole itself.  When I serve this to my father-in-law I also add shredded cheddar on top. ( The man won't eat vegetables unless there's cheese involved.  We live in Wisconsin so that's really not that weird, I guess).  In the version pictured I also threw caution to the wind and risked making this recipe too classy by using whole wheat butter crackers instead  of the regular kind.

Class...it's my new thing. (Name the movie!)

So here's my version of the allrecipes recipe:

Classy Green Bean Casserole

2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1 container french fried onion
1 sleeve buttery crackers (like Ritz) coarsely crushed(use the whole wheat variety if feeling extra classy)
2 Tbsp butter melted
1 cup shredded cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

After washing and trimming the beans, dump them into a large pot of boiling water for a minute or so then remove and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process(in other words, blanch the suckers).

In a large bowl, combine the beans, soup, sour cream, fried onions, and salt and pepper. Transfer to a 9x13 inch pan.

Top with shredded cheese and then the crushed crackers soaked in the melted butter.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees or until the casserole starts to bubble and the crackers are browned.

Sadly, I didn't get this post up before Thanksgiving so it's too late for you to enjoy this deliciousness.  However, there's no reason you can't have yourself a Classy Little Christmas by serving this dish at Christmas dinner, now is there?

Right now, however, I'm actually making my other favorite dish Hamburger Noodle Pleaser to bring to my brother and sister-in-law's house tomorrow...they had a baby boy last week and I can't wait to drive down to Illinois so we can squeeze meet him!  The Pleaser is a perfect "Hi! You Just Had a Baby! Here's some Food!" dish to bring new parents on account of the way it freezes so beautifully, just FYI.

Once again, I hope you all had a wonderful, classy Thanksgiving and that your hearts are all filled to the brim with thankfulness...I know mine is.

xoxo
Jen



Monday, November 14, 2011

Memory Lane

For the last couple years I've created an annual family photo book at Kodak Gallery.  The books are a lot of work to put together but I'm so glad I do it. They really turn out amazingly cool. 

Our 2010 album arrived in the mail today (yes, I realize it's nearly 2012, why do you ask?) and our family had so much fun pouring through it this evening. It's unbelievable how much the kids have grown in nearly two years.  And how chubby their faces seemed to be in 2010.  Their 2011 faces are positively gaunt in comparison.  It's absurd.

When I put together the books, I try to make it a photo journal of our year which means I do my best to include not only the happy, smiley times but also the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Speaking of the latter, you should see the picture of me on Easter 2010-the kids weren't the only ones with chubby faces that year, apparently. Yikes!).  There are pictures scattered here and there of tantrums and meltdowns and general disgruntled-ness.  

There's also these pictures, which struck me when I realized they were taken exactly one year ago to the day:



How did this happen?  Isn't it obvious? Mr. Man dove on the ground to catch a Beanie Baby he himself launched into the air and his eyebrow accidentally collided with the sharp metal lip of a metal toy bucket.  Duh.  I've literally never seen so much blood.  Dark, thick blood pouring into my baby's eye.  Horrifying.

From his smiling face in these photos you would never guess that an hour before this I was holding him down in the ER as they sewed him up while he screamed to me with those gorgeously green pleading eyes, "Make them stop, Mama! Make them stop! Pleaaaase, Mama!"  My eyes are welling up and my heart is palpitating as the memory passes through me right now...*shudder*

Have you ever seen the movie Kramer Vs. Kramer? 


It's an Oscar winner from 1979 starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep.  It's about a couple in NYC going through a horrible divorce and custody battle over their young son.  I watched that movie when I was very young and it's always stuck with me.  There's a scene in which Dustin Hoffman's character takes his son to the ER for stitches that always horrified me...even when I was little I always sensed that the experience was far worse for the parent then the child...It's uncanny how identical the scene from that movie was to the scene in my own life one year ago tonight. Rent this movie soon if you've never seen it!  It's so, so good.

But I digress...or, wait. Can you digress if you never really had a point to begin with?  Maybe not...

I think this is my point...making an annual photo books is a gigantic time consuming pain in the ass (all the editing and sorting and uploading of photos and what have you) but a very rewarding pain in the ass.  I'm so glad I force myself to do it every year..."These are memories frozen in time, people!"  (Can you name that movie? It's pretty random, I'll be impressed if you can!) And I'm glad I force myself to remember even the less then perfect because it's all valuable in the end.

My other point is that I am glad that it's not the late 70's anymore on account of the really bad hair.

In summary, go forth and make a photo album everyone (preferably while watching Kramer Vs. Kramer) so you can record for all time your fabulous 2011 hair!!  You won't regret it!


xoxo
Jen

P.S. I'm happy to report that Mr. Man's scar is barely noticable and that all he remembers of that incident is that the nurse gave him TWO cherry popsicles when he was all done. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pieces of Me

Have I ever mentioned time management is not one of my strengths?  Yeah, so...it's not.  As you may have noticed, I've been struggling a bit to fit blogging into my crazy little life.  Which is actually ironic given that the purpose, as eluded to by the title, of this blog was to forge out a little something just for myself...looks like everyone else but me has been using up all the little pieces of me.  I'm here again to take a piece back.

I have fallen off the "making myself a priority wagon" so to speak...I'm only human.  This past summer and early fall marked the longest time I've ever been, uh..on the wagon.  So that's something.  It shouldn't be too hard to climb back on this time. The wagon doesn't seem to be moving quite as quickly as it has in the past.  Are we tired of the wagon analogy yet?  I am.  I no longer even know what I'm talking about so I can't imagine where your brains have wandered off to during this last paragraph.  Let's move on, shall we?

So, as you may or may not recall, I work during the school year and stay at home with my kiddos during the summer.  The transition back to work for me can be a doozie. I wrote about that here.

It's been a hectic start to the year work wise, more so than most I would say.  I am hanging in there, though.  My kids are alive and happy.  I'm alive and happy. My husband is alive and happy and still seems to generally like being married to me on most days, so that's good. My home is admittedly a little sticky.  The laundry's threatening to overtake us all and there have been a few mornings that I sent my children out the door in socks from the infamous basket of partner-less socks.  That basket where socks go to die.  (I'm not the only one who has one of those, right?) I have not lost my optimism.  I'm just really, really busy.  All.The.Time.  

Ooohh, also, I've taken on a new little obsession....extreme couponing.  My BFF got me into it and it's so addictive.  I've taken it to a level of seriousness that is somewhat embarrassing to admit.  I've been at it for about 6 weeks and I'm really starting to see some serious results.  I lopped off about $70 a week from our grocery bills on average...it's so exciting.  Don't laugh!

 I was just going to post a pic of my insane coupon stash but realized that the pic I'm thinking of is on my phone and not my laptop.  I promise to post it soon.  Instead, I'll leave you with a few pictures of October here in Wisconsin






Fall in the Midwest is so freaking beautiful it almost makes up for the horrid, mind numbing cold of winter.  Almost.

And one last picture before I go off to bed at last....


Me, circa 1994.  How jealous are you of my Fly Girl outfit?  If this were a better image you would be able to see my high waisted verging on stonewashed jeans.  Good thing you can't see them or you would be too green with envy to go on with your day...


We'll catch up more soon...I pinky swear.


xoxo
Jen
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