Saturday, October 24, 2009


I'm not sure what the official name is but I've always called them "Poppers"- which of course Eileigh now calls them that as well. They're the puffy little seed balls that fall from what I believe are oak trees... please feel free to have actual knowledge of their title but I'll continue to refer to them as poppers. :) The best thing about them is the delicious crunch they let out when stepped upon. When the first ones started falling I pulled Eileigh out of the stroller during our walks and let her try her foot at it- it took her a little while at first but now she's an old pro. My mom now saves poppers from her walks and will bring them over for Eileigh to crush on our back deck. This afternoon we enjoyed a rare treat. My mom, Eileigh and I met my Dad over at my grandparents' farm where my Dad had spent a decent portion of time raking together all of the poppers that had fallen from one of their huge trees. Eileigh was in popper heaven and soon moved from annihilating single poppers to running through the pile and decimating several clusters in one fell swoop. My mom and I had our own fun "helping" Eileigh- as we liked to call it. Ahhh, the simple pleasures in life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Oh My Word!!!

I can hardly believe the amount of words (and sometimes the actual words) coming out of Eileigh's mouth!! Nothing "bad", don't get me wrong- I just didn't expect Eileigh to pick up on some of the things she has. In the last two weeks I think her vocabulary has just about doubled. She's throwing out phrases right and left and I hear my own words being repeated often. I've also noticed that she pays special attention when a word or phrase is said with emphasis from me- those words will definitely get repeated. Our first instance actually occurred during our camping trip at the coast. Before Mindi, Boone, Eileigh and I ended up at the Marine Science Center, we had planned to go to the Aquarium. Unfortunately as we drove up, a big sign had been set up announcing that due to special events the Aquarium was closing that afternoon at 3:00pm- and it was 2:45pm. Mindi scoffed in disgust as I declared, "That's crap!" Suddenly from the back seat I heard a sweet little voice pipe up, "That's crap! That's crap!" Mindi and I didn't know quite what to do and tried to smother our giggles so as not to encourage Eileigh's new phrase, courtesy of her mother's potty mouth. Thankfully after a few tries on the phrase she gave it up. I've really been trying to watch it while I'm driving and most of the time I do pretty well, occasionally letting an "Oh my WORD!" slip out (believe me, pre-kid it was much more colorful) but even still, Eileigh chimes in "Word! Oh my! Oh my!"
Other favorites of hers include "All gone" and "I know". Some of my favorites to hear her say are "Stinker" (teen-ter) and "Buster" and "Honey". She's repeated "Bye, sweetie" at bedtime and every now and then when she wants Mike for something she calls out, "Mike! Mike!" Whoopsie- I think that one's from me as well. :) Mike isn't overly thrilled at it but I think it's hysterical (on the inside; on the outside I tell Eileigh to say Daddy).
Eileigh is my God-given daily reminder to think before I speak!!

Pumpkin Dessert Squares, Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes and Cranberry-Glazed Pork Roast

This last Friday we had a good-bye and good luck potluck for a co-worker who is on to greener pastures and will be sorely missed. Luckily someone reminded me the day before so I had ample time to whip up a contribution to the meal. I'd been wanting to try the Crunchy Pumpkin Dessert Squares and they were not only really easy to put together but also very yummy with Cool Whip on top! Cool Whip makes everything taste better, in my opinion (not to say that this dessert needed it). I also threw Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes in the crockpot and let that cook at work until lunch time (turned out it needed a little bit more time than planned due to a few lid-lifters- you know who you are!!!). :) Finally, I wanted to share the Cranberry-Glazed Pork Roast recipe because it's delicious (the sauce is fabulous) and goes wonderfully with the Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes. I made them both for dinner last week and everyone heralded it a success.

Crunchy Pumpkin Dessert Squares
  • 1 can (30 ounces) pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 can (12 ounces) fat-free evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup reduced-fat butter, melted
  • 1-1/4 cups fat-free whipped topping
In a large bowl, combine the pie filling, milk and eggs; beat on medium speed until smooth. Pour into an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Sprinkle with cake mix and pecans; drizzle with butter.
Bake at 350° for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Garnish with whipped topping. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 20 servings.

Coconut-Pecan Sweet Potatoes (Slow-Cooker)
  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (I've used both sweet potatoes and yams- they're both tasty, just depends on your personal preference)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat butter, melted (Yeah, I just use regular butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place sweet potatoes in a 5-qt. slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Combine the pecans, coconut, sugar, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and salt; sprinkle over potatoes.
Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until potatoes are tender. Stir in extracts. Yield: 12 servings.

Cranberry-Glazed Pork Roast
  • 1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce (Our family is a big fan of Cattleman's)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 boneless rolled pork loin roast (4 pounds) **(I used two smaller pork loin roasts- one about 2.5 lbs., one about 1.5 lbs. and cooked them together for about an hour and a half total time, including glazing)
In a small saucepan, combine the cranberry sauce, apple juice, barbecue sauce and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into cranberry mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Set aside 1 cup sauce.
Place roast in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 1-3/4 hours. Spoon a third of the remaining glaze over pork. Bake 30 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 160°, basting twice. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with reserved sauce. Yield: 16 servings.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pumpkin Lasagna and Sweet Potato Bread with Pineapple Butter

Fall is here! We've decorated the outside of our house with cornstalks and pumpkins from our garden and I'm still working on the inside decor. Yesterday since Mike was on shift I decided to make Pumpkin Lasagna. He's not what you would call an avid fan of pumpkin (or any kind of fan, really), which is an extremely difficult thing for me to accept since I love all things pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin chili, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin lasagna- you name it, I'd like it. Thankfully my parents live nearby and are also fans of the Big Orange so I was able to make a dinner and have others to share it with (with minimal leftovers for Mike to worry about). I also baked up some Sweet Potato Bread with Pineapple Butter- wonderfully spiced, moist bread brought to new heights when combined with the pineapple butter. Our entire family, Mike included, loves this bread so it disappears quickly.

Pumpkin Lasagna
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg (this is my own addition but I think it's an important one for flavor)
  • Dash pepper
  • 9 no-cook lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


In a small skillet, saute the mushrooms, onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil until tender; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, cream, sage, nutmeg, pepper and remaining salt.
Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce in an 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with three noodles (noodles will overlap slightly). Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin sauce to edges of noodles. Top with half of mushroom mixture, 1/2 cup ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining noodles and sauce.
Cover and bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 6 servings.
**Make sure to use the full amount of salt the recipe calls for- I went light on the salt since my Dad watches his intake and then we added more individually at dinner. As stated earlier, I think nutmeg is a great addition to this recipe- adds flavor without turning the lasagna into a sweet dish. I didn't think the sage by itself was enough flavoring with the pumpkin.**

Sweet Potato Bread with Pineapple Butter

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes (I microwaved one large potato for about 6-8 minutes after poking with a fork, rotating potato every few minutes using an oven mitt)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, well drained


In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, potatoes, oil and water. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Transfer to a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
In a small bowl, combine butter and pineapple. Serve with bread. Yield: 1 loaf (16 slices) and 1 cup butter.

Last Year: Camping 2008

I wanted to post a few pictures from last year's camping trip- Eileigh was just over 7 months old at the time!!!

Eileigh liked the sea lions

Bathing was so much easier then!!

I can't get over her short little hair!! :)