Tag: Thanksgiving

Caesar Salad Dressing

Stephen loves Caesar salad. It is his all time favorite meal. Caesar salad used to be our traditional anniversary dinner. That was until we went to the Pasta Moon in, our anniversary vacation spot, Half Moon Bay and tried their Risotto Sea Scallops and tomato 

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Onions

Brussels Sprouts notoriously have a bad wrap. Usually those claiming to despise them have never tried them or worse were scarred for life the first time they tried a mushy slimy sprout or cabbage. Brussels sprouts are small little cabbage like sprouts that grow on a stalk. Brussels 

Family Togetherness: Traditions

Artwork: Home Dinner II (Family Series) by Yau Bee

The smell of the hall closet in my home growing up is one of my favorite smells. The closet is where my mom stored all the Christmas boxes. I remember as a child becoming so anxious and overcome with excitement from all the lights and music and smells I wanted to burst. Every Christmas morning we were met with the task of waking my father. Notably known as Mr. Scrooge. We would pounce on top of him begging for him to wake up. Mind you it was 8:00 in the morning. He would bat us off feigning sleep mumbling, “Ba-hum-bug!” It is the memories we create that bind each year to the next. Waking my father up on Christmas morning was part of the Christmas festivities. While I rememebr a few coveted Christmas presents I so badly wanted I mostly remeber the smell of Christmas and the repeated traditions that made Chrstmas delightful.

The Holidays can be  a marvelous time of year. In my young little family I watch as their little brains transform the ordinary tinto extraordinary. This magical world of theirs fills with excitment at every turn. In an excerpt from a book entitled, “Strengthening Our Families” it states that, “When conceived in principles of righteousness…a heritage of family customs can serve as the social glue that holds families together, ushers family members through difficult life passages, and weaves loving ties…”

Helen Bateman author of “Roots and Wings: A Book of Family Traditions” wrote,  “parents must give their children two things: roots and wings. Give them roots to keep them grounded through tough times. Give them wings to soar above everything, explore new worlds and fly farther than we ever did.”  Family traditions are rituals that link us to the past while providing a foundation for the future. Sharing our stories and past rituals gives us roots and wings. Simple rituals unanimously agreed upon as a family can be long lasting. They give us a sense of family connection or roots.  Our personal identity is founded on traditions. These traditions define our character. They strengthen and mold our morals and values. The more traditions our family fosters the more secure we feel thus allowing for greater personal freedom and possibilities, wings.

Traditions set the mood in our home bringing warmth, fun and unity to our families. Caryl Krueger wrote, “traditions unite a family in love, end divisions and are imperishable gifts to those who follow after us.” Traditions are not limited to a holiday or celebration. Any repeated ritual can be a tradition. Reading stories and singing songs at bedtime is a family tradition. Gathering together every Sunday for brunch is a tradition. Playing music after the evening meal, family breakfast, family counsel and even small gestures or sayings help add excitement and charm within our homes.

Old Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls

In our quest to find the perfect cinnamon rolls we had to take a few important details into consideration. First, the finished dough had to be soft, light and doughy not dry and airy. Second, the filling had to be gooey and buttery. It had 

Orange Spice Banana Bread

This orange spice banana bread smells absolutely amazing. The aroma fills the house with the pungent fall spices. It is so hard to wait until the bread is completely cooled before pinching off a nibble. The most important tips I can pass on is to 

Turkey Tetrazzini

Every year it is the same dilemma, “what to do with the left over turkey!” We always have turkey soup on Sunday. Then there is cranberry stuffed turkey rolls with left over stuffing and turkey pot pie. Turkey Tetrazzini is another comfort food favorite. I like to use left over mashed potatoes, if there are any, in place of the noodles.

Source: Rosy Little Things
1 lb. button or crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 cup milk
10 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup flour
1 cup turkey gravy (or however much you have left over, if less than that)
1 to 2 cups leftover turkey meat, shredded into bite-sized chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saute pan and saute mushrooms until soft and slightly browned. Set aside.

Make bechamel sauce: Over medium heat, melt remaining butter in large saucepan, add flour, and whisk over medium heat for several minutes. Whisk milk into butter/flour mixture gradually until all milk is incorporated. Simmer sauce until it is thickened slightly and very velvety. Add turkey gravy and mushrooms and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling water until a minute or two before al dente. Drain and return to pot. Mix in half of sauce and stir to coat. Pour spaghetti into 9″ x 13″ pan and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until top is bubbling and delicious-looking. Add turkey pieces to sauce and serve over slices of spaghetti casserole. Enjoy thoroughly.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

My sister-n-law Jennifer suggested this recipe for Pumpkin Crunch Cake. If you liked the Texas Dump Cake recipe then you will enjoy this one. It is the same concept using pumpkin rather than fruit. 1 (29oz) can pumpkin 3 eggs 1 can Evaporated Milk 1 

Fall Spiced Apricot Cider

The weather here has been playing hide-n-seek. One day it is cool the next day back to warm weather. We have so longed for a change from the drastic heat that prevails here in the valley but now that my toes are chilled I wish 

November Resolution Expressing Gratitude

Background Pumpkin Photo: By Allison Boham

Gratitude, is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others. (Cicero)

I have much to be thankful for this season. Sure my life is not perfect by any means nor is it how I envisioned it would be; yet, I am happily content. It took a recent email from my sister to allow me pause to contemplate my happiness. She was emotional upon waking up from a vivid dream about me. You know the kind when you are confused all morning because you are not sure it was real or not? She so desperately needed to know I was well and happy. I guess I had been so busy I never took the time to assess my happiness. The single instant that my brain processed the words I was afforded a glimpse inward. Smiling, I concluded that yes I was indeed content.

This past year I spent each month working on a new goal. Through these monthly resolutions I have learned to laugh more, have fun, love more, create and give. What I discovered is that these traits ultimately lead to the one necessary tool needed to resolve our emotional inner battles and those of the individuals we care for. Gratitude. Gratitude above all else is being appreciative of what we have no matter how dull or small. Gratitude is not dwelling on what we do not have.

One night many long years ago I was flying home after a long absence. The sky was a light with lightening. I felt so much joy in that menial experience because watching the lightening over the ocean water back home was one of my favorite past times. Seeing the lightening in the sky in the dark hours of the early morning gave me comfort on my journey home. An anonymous person once said to always keep your eyes open because you do not want to miss anything. His quote was directed at up and coming fashion editors but I think it goes quite well with the ancient proverb that reminds us to “take time to stop and smell the roses.”

Lawrence J. Cohen author of Playful Parenting writes that “Play is one of the best ways to engage with children, pulling them out of emotional shutdown or misbehavior, to a place of connection and confidence.” He goes on to say that, “When we feel exhausted or when we are at the end of our rope, we tend to think that play will be just more of an energy drain. But when we engage playfully with our children, we find that suddenly we do have energy, both for fun and for finding creative solutions to thorny problems.”
Cohen affirms that yes indeed it is difficult for some of us to remember how to play. Sitting on the floor playing Barbies or watching clouds or playing games with our teens might seem boring. Yet, it is necessary for us as parents to explore that world with them not only for their benefit but for ours as well. Play gives us the opportunity to let go of our problems for a spell. Play strengthens relationships and restores harmony. We learn to laugh over spilled milk. Moreover, we come to recognize the simple pleasures of life.

Gratitude is also cultivated through thoughtful acts of service. In serving and allowing others to succor our needs we foster a love for our family and neighbors. We learn to be sensitive of their interests and in so doing we desire to forgo our wants in favor of their happiness. Suddenly, as Mr. Cohen stressed, we find the answers to problems. We feel we can breathe again. We are more forgiving of ourselves and those around us. We can accept the challenging experiences we had to go through even to the point of forgiving those who have offended us in the process. Walks with a friend are not only invigorating to the body but also can be a conduit for healing the mind. This time out clears our minds allowing us to see that we have more to be grateful for than we realized. Even though life is difficult there is still so much to be grateful for if we tune our minds to find it.

To truly develop gratitude we must learn to appreciate the negative aspects of life. Learning to triumph over adversity no matter how awful is one of the most difficult tasks we can undertake. We can accomplish this only through the quality of gratitude. Gratitude is the ability to see hope in our darkest hour. Finding gratitude when we feel we are trapped or lost in a thickening fog of turmoil is by far the most challenging. Moreover, if we can begin to recognize the good that is around us no matter how small or trivial we will have a tangible life preserver to carry us through the tumultuous waters.

In the story “Pollyanna” written by Louise Alcott, Pollyanna taught an entire town that for every misfortune there is always something to be glad about. Individuals whom had completely given up on life were renewed after attempting to play Pollyanna’s “Glad Game.” The game is not an easy one to play especially when grave tragedy strikes. Even little Miss Pollyanna was unable to think of a solitary thing to be glad about after learning she might never walk again. Ironically it was the very people in the community whom she inspired with small acts of kindness that lead her through her darkest hours. Placing blame on another will not erase our pain nor will it bring us happiness. Emotional healing is a necessity required by all human beings. It is a natural instinct to retreat or lash out at others when we feel scared, overwhelmed or abandoned. This recklessness or isolation is the direct result of an emotional shutdown. The only way to ease the loss of a loved one, or find strength when diagnosed with a serious medical condition, or recover from a series of bad choices, and misfortunes is to reach out to others in service.

This lesson is best illustrated in the book “Messenger” the third book in the Giver trilogy by Lois Lowry. There is a small village inhabited by those whom were cast out from their homes because they were lame and no longer of any use. Here they found peace and kindness until one day a man came to join them who could grant wishes. Many of the villagers became greedy and selfish. They were willing to do anything to look more handsome or get a material item. The woods that for so long gave them nourishment now turned on them sucking in the negative energy that energized the community. They were no longer grateful for what they had. They wanted more and would hurt anyone who got in their way. Gratitude gives us permission to let go, to laugh more freely and play harder. In cultivating gratitude we come to understand that material objects or pride have no place in our hearts. We are free to love others more deeply.

Thanksgiving is soon at hand. It is a time to reflect over the past year. I confess that under the duress of the challenges I have encountered this year I have whined just a smidgen. There are two people in my life whom I owe a debt of gratitude. This year I came to better understand my oldest son. The road we had to take to get here was filled with many pot holes. At the same time we have been fortunate to meet numerous families with similar plights such as our own. We have felt enormous support as we’ve banned together to help our children grow to succeed rather than adapt to coping through life. Their friendship coupled with the joy I see within my own son brings me immeasurable elation. I am thankful for the long road we had to travel. My contentment is a direct result from the relationships we have developed.

This month’s resolution is to express gratitude.

— Send thank you notes to the people who made the biggest impact on your life during the year.

— Remember to say thank you.

— Express your affections by saying I love you, I am proud of you, great job. “Feeling Gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Annonymous

— Offer anonymous acts of service.

— Forgive and make amends.

— Keep a gratitude jar. Write down all the things you are thankful for on strips of paper. Place them in a jar to share on Thanksgiving or at dinner.

Honey Stir-fry Chicken with Peanuts

The history of American stir-fry begins in the mid-1800’s when when Chinese immigrants began settling in California. In the 1920’s Asian cuisines piqued the interest of a growing group of modern socialites because it was considered exotic. It wasn’t until after World War II that