Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Year in Pictures - 2011

Here is the past 12 months of our family in pictures. I always love to see how different A looks in January compared to now.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!!

Our Family 2011

Trip to FL to visit Grandma
Family trip to Dutch Wonderland & Thomas the Train
Family Vacation to Williamsburg, VA
October Snowstorm!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Baked Spaghetti with Eggplant

I found this recipe in my Williams Sonoma cookbook and it sounded so good I had to try it.  Except for frying the eggplant, which is a little time consuming, it was an easy dish to make.  Only one word is needed to describe it….Scrumptious!!!

Baked Spaghetti with Eggplant
From Williams Sonoma Italian Favorites Cookbook

-  6 tablespoons (3 fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil, plus 5 cups (40 fl oz) for deep-frying
-  3 cloves garlic, chopped
-  1 ¼ lb ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or (28 oz) canned plum tomatoes, drained & chopped.
-  Pinch of Chile powder
-  Salt
-  3 large aisian eggplants (slender aubergines), about 1 ¼ lb total weight, trimmed and cut crosswise into slices about ¼ inch thick
-  Unsalted butter for greasing
-  ¾ cup fine dried bread crumbs
-  1 lb dried spaghetti

  1. In a saucepan, warm the 6 Tbs olive oil over low heat.  Add the garlic and sauté, stirring often, until translucent, about 2 minutes. 
  2. Add the tomatoes and chile powder, stir well, and season with salt to taste.  Cook over low heat until the liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the 5 cups olive oil into a deep frying pan and heat to 350°F (180°C) on a deep frying thermometer.  Slip the eggplant into the hot oil, a few slices at a time, and deep fry until golden, about 3 minutes.  Transfer with a slotted spool to paper towels to drain.  Season with salt to taste.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).  Grease a 9 inch springform pan with butter and then coat the bottom and sides evenly with the bread crumbs. 
  5. Line the pan bottom and sides with the eggplant slices, overlapping them slightly.  Reserve any leftover slices.
  6. Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook only until half cooked, about 4 minutes.
  7. Drain the spaghetti and transfer it to a bowl.  Pour the tomato sauce over the top and add any leftover eggplant slices.  Toss well.
  8. Pile the spaghetti mixture in the prepared pan and press the top to pack it lightly.  Bake until lightly browned on top, about 20 minutes. 
  9. Invert onto a warm platter and serve at once.

serves 6

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas

My family rotates the cooking of Christmas Eve dinner so this year I was “off”. Yay!!  No cooking for me!  Well, I did do appetizers on Christmas Day, but that’s nothing compared to the feast I prepared last year for Christmas Eve.  I did a little baking for a cookie swap I participated in and made the chocolate candies I always make, but other than that I didn’t bake/cook as much as I normally do.  Christmas crept up on me so quick this year.  It probably was the unseasonably warm weather (um, 60 degrees in December in NY?!?!) that kept me in denial that Christmas was so close.  Before I knew it I was up until 1:30 am December 23rd wrapping gifts.

My son was very much into Santa this year and so I started a few fun Santa traditions: the elf on the shelf, writing letters to Santa and we continued the milk & cookies tradition.  For the letters I found a local charity run Santa’s mailbox that mails back personalized letters from Santa!!  Very cool and was a huge hit with A. I also made him a video on the Portable North Pole, did a personalized phone call from Santa and we tracked Satna on Norad the entire night of Christmas Eve.

A was a very lucky boy and once again was completely spoiled by our families!  Every year seems to be better than the last in terms of his excitement.  If last year I had categorized it as a “Thomas Christmas”, well then this year was a “Super Hero Batman Christmas”.  We now are the proud owners of a batcave, batmobile, batplane, joker-mobile, and a myriad of super hero action figures (with all their little weapons) which I will continue to trip on for months to come.  My favorite gift that I got A was a PB chair that I got during their secret sale, which of course got one glance from A and an “it’s ok…” out of him and he went back to playing with Batman.  To my surprise he opened gifts in record time.  I had visions of it taking us hours like last year and A wanting us to open each toy as he unwrapped it.  Nope.  Each gift was ripped open, slid across the wood floor and it was onto the next.  After they were all unwrapped he strategically decided what to play with first.  LOL

The excitement as he opened each, however, was priceless.  It made the craziness and stress of all my late nights working over the past month just melt away.  One of my most special gifts I received was a necklace that my son picked out himself.  My husband went online to buy me earrings and when my son saw him shopping he wanted to buy something different for me – and it is gorgeous.  Spending happy quality time with my family makes everything that I do throughout the year all worth it. 

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Eve 2011
First Present (Batman, what else!)
Santa Has Arrived!!
Christmas Morning
One of my Gifts (and the story of my life)
Christmas Aftermath....
my hubby and I on Christmas Day

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Did it!

I finally did it!!  I have joined the world of twitter.  Feel free to click the button on the right  and follow me (@MrsP006).  I can’t promise that I will have anything interesting to say but I’m going to give it a try ;-) 

Also, if anyone knows how to link up blogger to both twitter and facebook so that they automatically update when posting please please let me know.  I’ve been searching google but haven’t figured out how to get it to work yet. (is twitterfeed any good?)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

An Unexpected Meeting

Last weekend while shopping we had an unexpected chance meeting with none other than the big guy in red.  While browsing around a drugstore who walks through the door but…..SANTA!!  We had to do a double take since it’s not every day you see a fully dressed Santa walking into a drugstore to pick up a prescription.   As my son glanced upwards at Santa, the look of amazement on his face was priceless!  I wish I had been able to capture it on film but it all happened so quickly.  Santa was a very lovely man and gave A a candy cane and a even did a “Ho Ho Ho” chuckle for him. 

It was at this same store that we had come to drop off A’s letter he wrote to Santa (there’s a drop box that is managed by volunteers who send personalized responses back from Santa).  I couldn’t have had this more perfect that if I had set it up myself.  My son was convinced that Santa was there to collect his mail from the mailbox.  When he received his letter from Santa in the mail a few days later he knew that Santa was listening and I gently reminded him that he needed to behave because Santa could show up at any time.

Who needs to wait in lines at the mall to see Santa when you can find him shopping ;-)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

O’ Christmas Tree

It’s that time of year again when we go looking for our annual family Christmas tree.   Last weekend we took a drive up north to pick out and cut down our family Christmas tree – a tradition we started last year.  We decided to try a different farm this year since we weren’t overly happy about the prices of last year’s place and from friends’ recommendations decided to check out Battenfeld Tree Farm.  A had so much fun running around the farm looking for a perfect tree and telling Daddy to cut it down.  Santa & Mrs Claus showed up to take pictures with the kids and there was a sleigh ride complete with mini clydesdales pulling it.  Throw in some hot cider, doughnuts and a big bonfire to sit by to keep warm and it made for a very cozy afternoon. Of course A wasn’t into Santa or the sleigh ride (just wanted to look from afar) but if you wanted, one could spend the entire day there.

Once we got the tree home A wanted to help us put it in the stand and then anxiously awaited me to put the lights on so that he could decorate.  My little elf did a great job helping. Only two ornament casualties later….we have our fully decorated tree.  All ready for the big guy to leave presents under!!

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