Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Star of Christmas Dinner...Mayo Roasted Turkey!

In all seriousness, my Christmas dinner is pretty much an exact replica of our Thanksgiving dinner, and why not? It's phenomenal and if it ain't broke...I am not going to touch it! Some recipes have been passed down from my great grandmother and some I have borrowed from others. I have perfected my side dishes after years of helping my mother make them and then as an adult, making them to take with me to the home of whomever was hosting that years holiday dinner. This year though, I took a stand and we decided to have Thanksgiving at our house. Then I panicked. I had never cooked a turkey. EVER. So I began my Pinterest search for a recipe that seemed fool proof and amazing. Spoiler alert...I found one. Thanks to Amy at She Wears Many Hats, I cooked an entire Thanksgiving meal which included the BEST turkey I have ever had (Sorry Mom and Dad...It was that good). We barely had leftovers it was so incredible. Plus, I made the gravy with the drippings and shut your mouth. Heaven.

Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey

  • 11 lb. whole turkey, (completely thawed)
  • 6-7 fresh sage leaves, rough chopped
  • 5-6 fresh thyme stems
  • 2-3 springs of rosemary
  • 3 springs of oregano
  • 1½ cups of mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 3 stalks celery, rough chopped
  • 1 large onion, rough chopped
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, salted
  • (adjusts all seasonings & mayonnaise as needed for size of bird)
*You can usually find a small "poultry seasoning herb" container with exactly the right amount the sage, thyme and rosemary instead of buying a ton of each. If your grocer has them they will be next to the fresh herbs and produce

Instructions (for step by step instructions with images, view original recipe here)
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Lay turkey in a roasting pan (the disposable type works fine for us)
  3. Remove leaves from herbs stems. Add sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano to mayonnaise; combine well. Rub mayonnaise/herb mixture all over outside and interior of bird.
  4. Liberally salt, and pepper turkey. Add the celery, and onion, inside and out, and tuck the butter in the cavity.
  5. Roast turkey in 450°F oven for 30 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 350°F, and insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful not to touch bone. Continue roasting, uncovered, until internal thermometer reaches 160°F. Cover legs with foil partway through roasting if desired (which we didn't worry about and it came out perfect). Depending on size of turkey, total cook time will be around 1½-2 hours. Once the thermometer reaches 160°F in the thigh, check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast to make sure it reads 160°F as well.
  6. Remove from oven. Cover with foil and let rest for at least 20-30 minutes (depending on size) before carving.
  7. Set aside turkey drippings and juices for gravy.
***Our turkey was just under 11 pounds. We cooked it 30 minutes on 450 and then about 1½ hours on 350***

You are going to love it. The pic below is how ours came out!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 16 -Oh THAT'S what they were taking about!

After just over 2 weeks I have finally discovered what they meant by seedlings getting their first true leaves. Apparently, after they get these new leaves, they are mature enough to transplant. I am hoping to get my spinach plants, which look to be thriving, outdoors this weekend. That is, if my hubby builds me those containers before then ;) There are only a couple things I have really learned so far: 1. The self-watering seedling starter kit from Burpee's is WAY easier to deal with than the other one i bought. I dont have to water near as often and the soil stays continuously moist. Also the soil in those seems to be easier for the seedlings to sprout up through. 2. The mixed flowers in the large pots should have been scattered way further apart! I didnt think so many would actually

Strawberry Upside Down Cake

As promised...Here is the next amazing recipe that I have made recently! This cake was taken to my 7 year old's end-of-the-year picnic for her baseball team and my husband brought home an empty platter! Light, refreshing and super easy to make! The perfect summer cake!

Here is what you will need:

2 cups crushed fresh strawberries
1 (6 ounce) package strawberry flavored Jell-O mix
3 cups miniature marshmallows1 (18 ounce) package yellow cake mix, batter prepared as directed on package

****For the crushed strawberries, I bought 3lbs of strawberries, cut them into sections and used a fork to crush them on a plate with raised edges (this will make sense in a second). Then I poured the crushed berries and the juice (the most important part since that is what mixes with the gelatin to make that amazing topping!) into a measuring cup. I used most of the 3 lbs and my kids and hubby ate the rest standing right there!****

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Spread crushed strawberries on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Evenly sprinkle strawberries with the dry gelatin powder, and top with mini marshmallows.
  3. Prepare the cake mix as directed on the package, and pour on top of the marshmallows. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen the sides, and turn the cake out onto a serving tray. Store cake in the refrigerator.
 I serve mine with whipped cream on the side for those (such as myself) that love it.

Once're welcome ;)


Monday, June 17, 2013

Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding

One of my favorite desserts is one I found while watching my Food Network idol, Paula Deen. I don't know how anyone goes through life without having this at least once. Kudos to you Paula on creating such a heavenly treat!


2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies (or 1 box Nilla Wafers)
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk ( I only use half of the can in mine)
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream


Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Original recipe can be found on her page here.

This has been a hit at every single party I have taken it to!!

You're welcome


Sunday, May 19, 2013

DIY Painted Outdoor Rug

After months of perusing Pinterest and seeing thousands of super crafty Do It Yourself projects, I found something that not just looked easy enough for me to do it but was perfect since my hubby vetoed my buying the outdoor rug I wanted (I know, I know... $175+ is too much to spend on a rug the is going to sit under a patio dining set). After seeing a pin for a painted foam kitchen mat, I figured I could find some type of instructions for doing an outdoor rug as well. I gathered tons of ideas and tips, then got to work!

Here is what you will need:
  • A rug- I got this one for $18 at  Home Depot!
  •  A Stencil - The most expensive part actually at $40, I chose the Marrakesh Trellis design from Cutting Edge Stencils
  • Acrylic craft paint  - I found an 8oz bottle at Michael's for $0.98
  • 1" Stencil brush - $2 at Hobby Lobby
  • Chalk (just for marking measurements to do the borders...not a necessity though)
  • Painters tape - We had some laying around the garage so it was free!

The first, and for me the hardest part, was figuring out how wide I wanted the borders and how far the the edge of the rug I wanted to start them. I wound up putting down one strip of the 1.88 inch painters tape along the edge of the rug. Then I measured 2.5 inches in from the edge of the tape and marked it with the kid's sidewalk chalk (never been so glad to have that lying around...or that my cousin so ingeniously asked me if I had chalk!).

 After I had the measurements around the entire rug, I lined up another strip of tape along my chalk marks. I used the stencil brush (after using it, I completely understand why the recommend using it instead of any other type) to fill in the border. I figured out pretty quickly that painting with circular motions helped to get the paint down into the carpet fibers without adding too much paint to one spot. After letting it dry for about a half hour (it wasn't dry, just not as wet), I let my 7 year old peel off the tape. I got out that incredibly handy tape measure and determined where the exact center of the rug was so I could start the stencil. I figured if I started in the middle it would be easier to line up the designs as I started to stencil the other sides. Here is what it looked like that that point:

After 6 days of waiting for the rug to arrive at my house, hours of looking through stencils, a trip out to the arts and crafts store for supplies, roughly 3 hours of actual work and a phone call to my fav relative for her expert opinion on a couple of details.....Taadaa!!!

Here is another pic of the finished product actually serving its purpose it all of its $61 splendor!

All in all it was a fun easy project that wound up being way easier than I thought it would be! The best part is that I can use the stencil to paint my (and the hubby's of course) room AND if I want to do this rug for anyone else it would only cost $19 TOTAL since I have all of the supplies!!! SCORE!

Hope this helps if anyone out there decides to take on this little endeavour!


Friday, May 17, 2013

To the Mom...

 I am not sure where this came from (meaning I did not write this despite the fact that I would love to take credit for it!)

"To the mom who's breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You're a good mom.

To the mom who's formula feeding: Isn't science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn't produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You're a good mom.

To the cloth diapering mom: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You're a good mom.

To the disposable diapering mom: Damn those things hold a lot, and it's excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You're a good mom.

To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn't easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You're a good mom.

To the mom who works: It's wonderful that you're sticking to your career, you're a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it's fantastic. You're a good mom.

To the mom who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you're too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You're feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren't complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You're a good mom.

To the mom who gave her kids a homecooked breakfast lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they're learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You're a good mom.

To the mom with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can't run around. You're a good mom.

To the mom with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: they always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don't they? We've all been through it. You're a good mom.

To the moms who judge other moms for ANY of the above? Glass houses, friend. Glass houses."

So many women judge others so harshly. It's time for us to lift each other up and encourage rather than berate and criticize.  

One mama to another- Ashley

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Between Tuesday evening and Wednesday afternoon, I not only read Silver Linings Playbook in its entirety, but searched Netflix, Redbox and my cable company's on demand listings for its movie counterpart. Despite the fact that my husband and I had wasted 106 minutes of our lives watching Ted the night before, I convinced him that it was detrimental to my health if I had to wait even one day to see this film. Lucky for me, he was easily persuaded with nachos.

This is one of those books that, after going to bed only about 10% into it, I was hooked to the point that I woke up thinking about it. Honestly, I was hooked from the first few chapters. This is exactly the type of story I love. Mentally unstable main character, Pat, convinces himself that his life, which is actually a movie directed by God, is going to have that "silver lining" happy ending once he reunites with his estranged wife and is no longer hunted by the curly headed sax good, Kenny G. Enter Tiffany, who, though endearing in some bizarre way, brings a whole new level of dysfunction to the table. As with any book that I read on my Kindle and fall in love with, I will definitely be buying the hard copy of this book.

On to the film version: My husband loved it. Having not read the book, he went into to this with no clue what it was even about and no expectations. He even said he would watch it again, which for him, really means something. I on the other hand, one that ALWAYS likes the book better, had high hopes that it would be fairly close to the story that had me enthralled for its duration. Let me just talk about that part for a moment. While I do like the book better than the movie in nearly every single case I can think of, there have been a number of times that the film and novel lined up so well that I loved both almost equally. A few examples: Water for Elephants, The Notebook, The Hunger Games, The Help and The Time Travelers Wife. On the other end of the spectrum are the movies where the ending was totally different from the book. To the point where it pissed me off. My Sister's Keeper is the first that comes to mind. How can you make a movie based on a book AND CHANGE THE ENTIRE ENDING?! Ugh. With that being said, while I thought this movie was worth watching again, it was not the same as the book. Not even close. Some of the main points in the book were cut completely out of the movie. Some of the most important relationships were changed so drastically that it became a different story entirely.  As separates, they both are great. Because they are, supposedly, the same story, I am absolutely not a fan of the movie. Maybe had I not loved the book so much it would be a different story but that is not the case.

I would recommend this book to anyone that loves to read and the movie to everyone else ;)


Day 50 - Loving the Sunshine!

Apparently my promise to keep up with this blog was equal to the promise that I would maintain an exercise regimen. At least I can say I was busy parenting lol!

Anywho, today is the 50th days of my plants lives. Most of them are thriving! The only one that seems to be a problem is the lavender. I have heard that it is difficult to start as seedlings and now I can agree. I will try again in the next few days though and hopefully we can get some of the fragrant purple goodness growing soon. I moved all of the perennials into a raised bed in my yard. We have a little terra cotta haven for the 7 year olds daisies, the carrots are in a large planter on my back patio and i still have not moved the onions and spinach out of the seedling tray! I really need to get on that :/ Pictures below are of progress as of today!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Day 6 - Donut Seeds

After 6 days of waiting for something to happen in the 7 year old's small flower pot, she walked in the dining room to find something unusual inside...Apparently the 1 year old had a heyday with her cheerios and one found its way into our small terra cotta cultivation site. The 7 year old burst out laughing and says to me, "Mom, maybe she thought she was planting a donut seed!". This is one of those moments I laugh and remember how I make it through temper tantrums, tangles and grape jelly on my laptop. I adore listening to her imagination and sense of humor run wild! Donut seeds, lol. Who'd have thought :)

Anywho, Day 6 has brought us even more sprouts! Almost all 18 of the spinach seedlings have sprouted. So far that is the only veggie to peek out of the dirt. The mixed flowers are out of control with over 30 sprouts in each!!! We are definitely going to have to thin those out some before too long. One lone Hollyhock sprout has joined the party and we can see a few little daisy seedlings beginning to emerge which thrills the 7 year old since she planted daisies of her own. The last frost her is around April 6th according to the online almanac so we only have about 6 weeks to get these little guys ready for the great outdoors! Time for the hubby to get to building my containers (I found a link for some that I loved here) and time for me to start reading up on transplanting!
Mixed flowers sprouting like crazy!

We are going to have tons of baby spinach!

My first Hollyhock is sprouting finally!


Day 4 - I Can't Believe My Eyes!

We have sprouts!! I have only had to water them once (this morning actually) and when I went to water them, lo and behold, greenery! This may not be a sign that the, literally, hundreds of seeds I have planted will flourish and make it out of my dining room and into the fresh air and sunshine! Looks like following the directions I found online and on the back of the packets is beginning to pay off ;)
Mixed flowers have a ton of sprouts!
Spinach has a couple and is the only veggie that has sprouts so far