Saturday, November 30, 2013

Aunt Carol's Pecan Pie

As I mentioned in my post for the sweet potato casserole recipe, there are some holiday recipes that just seriously remind me of home and family. This pecan pie is as close as I could get this year to a Schoeff family thanksgiving, as it is my Aunt Carol's recipe. She was gracious enough to pass it down to me and I couldn't wait to make it for Thanksgiving this year! 

A couple notes from my first (and second attempt) at making this pie: 
- If you use the roll-out pie crusts, be sure to flour both sides of the crust well before placing it in the pie plate...otherwise it'll stick. 
- Don't bake the pie until the filling doesn't jiggle at all...otherwise it'll be burnt on the top. 

Learn from my mistakes, people! I did, and my 2nd try Thanksgiving morning turned out perfect!! 

Ingredients: 
  • 1 3/4 cups White Sugar 
  • 3 Eggs 
  • 1/4 cup Dark Corn Syrup
  • 1/4 cup Butter 
  • 1 tbsp. Cold Water 
  • 2 tsp. Corn Starch 
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla 
  • 1 1/4 cups Pecans, chopped
  • 1 Pie Shell 
Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, butter, water, and corn starch. Bring to a full boil and remove from heat. 



In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Gradually beat in the cooked syrup mixture. 


Stir in salt, vanilla, and pecans. Pour into the pie shell and bake for 45-50 minutes or until filling is set.

Classic Sweet Potato Casserole

Twice this year, for Friendsgiving at James and Rachel's house and for Thanksgiving, I brought this sweet potato casserole. It's easy to make and SO delicious! To me, this dish served as a little reminder of Thanksgivings in Georgia, when my family and Ryan's family would come together. I know Thanksgiving is behind us now, but this recipe is just too good not to share. Plus, who says sweet potato casserole can only be made during the month of November?!?


Ingredients:

  • 2 large cans Yams, drained 
  • 1 stick of butter, softened 
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla
  • 1 small can Evaporated Milk
Directions: 

Mix all ingredients together in a stand mixer. Transfer to a greased casserole dish. 

Topping Ingredients: 
  • 1 stick Butter, softened
  • 1 cup Flour 
  • 1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar 
  • 1 cup Chopped Nuts (optional) 
Directions: 

Crumble all topping ingredients together and spread evenly on top of sweet potato mixture. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Enjoy! Thanks again, Susan, for sharing this recipe with me! 



Thanksgiving 2013


While this Thanksgiving was very different from any other Thanksgiving Ryan and I have ever had together, it was amazing nonetheless and filled with great company and great food. Rachel and her family were gracious enough to include us in their festivities, so we headed to their house around 3 in the afternoon. After greeting everyone we posed for a few pictures in front of the fireplace with Kathy's gorgeous Thanksgiving decorations. 



So thankful for these three! 
Shortly after that, it was time to dig into our feast, featuring a big ole Turkey (of course), mashed potatoes, peas, gravy, stuffing, squash, and this sweet potato casserole, made by me!

The rest of the night was spent eating large amounts of food and spending quality time with the Grant family, both talking and watching football.






I made Aunt Carol's pecan pie for dessert and it was a hit, thankfully! Among the rest of the desserts, there was an apple pie, a pumpkin roll, a trifle, and a bunch of other really delicious things! We definitely weren't hurting for food that night.


Ryan and I have so much to be thankful for during this first year of our marriage. On top of our family and friends in Georgia, we are so thankful for this move to Boston during this time in our lives, all of the amazing things we've been able to do while up here, and most importantly, the great friendships and "northern family" we've established so far. Thanks Grant family for including us in your family holiday plans! 



Monday, November 25, 2013

101 in 1001: #100 - Go to Plymouth Plantation

Last Wednesday, I got to cross off the 2nd item on my "101" list. The school needed someone extra to go on a 2nd grade field trip to Plymouth Plantation and I was MORE than excited to volunteer. While I may have been busy chasing 2nd graders around all day, I definitely had a blast exploring some major Mass history and crossing something off my list!
 
Once we arrived at the plantation, we were ushered into a theater to watch a 15 minute video on the history of the plantation. The video went into a lot of detail on how the Pilgrims forced the Wampanoag Indians into slavery and brought many deadly diseases with them, killing off most of the tribe. Clearly, this isn't all happy stuff and one of the second graders sitting next to me shouted out, very loudly I might add, "this can't be true- this is SO sad!" Bless his heart. Unfortunately, history isn't always happy, but I had to explain to him that we learn about it so that we learn from the mistakes of others, hopefully preventing history from every repeating itself.
 
 
From the theater, we began our tour of the plantation, stopping at the home site of the Wampanoag tribe first. The thing that stood out the most to me was that every "worker" in this area was actually a member of the Wampanoag tribe. It's probably just the history nerd in me (thanks Dad), but I thought that was pretty cool! We toured their sleeping quarters and were able to ask questions to learn how the tribe survived year-round in such a cold environment.




Sleeping quarters for 15-20 people.

 
We met a man who was pretending to be Squanto (the leader of the tribe), who was dressed exactly like men would dress in that time (minus the red coat which was given to him by the King of England). It was in the 20's that day and this man did NOT have pants on. Talk about cold. 




After a quick break for lunch, we finished our tour of the plantation by walking through the English settlement, where the "workers" were in full character to give the children a better idea of what it was like to live there in the 1600's.



 
 
While in this area, we witnessed two men attempt to fix a chimney with mud and wood, many women cook some sort of  stew over an open fire, and a few people tending to gardens and feeding their pet goats/chickens/sheep. All I could think about while I was there was what if would have been like if I could close my eyes and actually go back 300-400 years ago. I think this was about as close as we'll ever get though, and I'm fine with that. At the end of the day, I got to go back to my heated apartment, turn on the lights, and cook a meal I didn't have to kill.
 







All in all, this was a pretty fun way to cross an item off of my 101 list! 2 down, 99 to go!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

101 in 1001: Introduction



I love lists. Actually, I love scratching things OFF a list. It makes me feel accomplished. So when I heard about the Day Zero "101 in 1001" challenge, I knew it was something I would enjoy doing. The premise of the challenge is to create a list of 101 things and cross them all off in a period of 1001 days (or 2.75 years) So with that information in mind... I made a list of thing I've been wanting to do. As Barney would say, Challenge Accepted!

Start Date: 11/19/2013
 
Completion Date: August 16, 2016
 
 
The List

Lifestyle: 
1. Come up with 101 things to do  --This was much harder to do for me than you may think, but it's done and I get to do what I like most, cross it off!!
2. Get my Master's in Elementary Education
3. Get hired as a teacher
4. Celebrate our first anniversary
5. Celebrate our 2nd anniversary
6. Celebrate our 3rd anniversary
7. Start a family with Ryan
8. Read the entire Bible
9. Learn how to knit
10. Knit a scarf
11. Knit a hat
12. Adopt a puppy
13. Volunteer (anywhere, anytime)
14. Eat every meal at home for an entire month
15. Create a new Christmas tradition with Ryan
16. Learn how to change a tire

Kitchen:
17. Bake a Pecan Pie
18. Bake a Pumpkin Pie
19. Bake an Apple Pie
20. Make Sangria
21. Make a Lasagna
22. Make Sugar Cookies from scratch
23. Make Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
24. Make 5 new freezer meals (0/5)
25. Make 5 new recipes with the cast-iron skillet (0/5)
26. Make 5 new brownie recipes (0/5)
27. Bake a cake or cupcakes from scratch
28. Cook something with an ingredient I've never used before
29. Roast a Chicken
30. Organize my recipes
31. Make Homemade Tomato Sauce
32. Make 5 new Crock-Pot recipes (0/5)
33. Make homemade jam/jelly

Travel:
34. Visit New Hampshire
35. Go to Nantucket
36. Go to Martha's Vineyard
37. Go on a cruise
38. Go to Newport, RI
39. Go to Colorado
40. Stay at a Bed and Breakfast
41. Visit my family in Miami
42. Visit my family in California/Washington
43. Attend a 4th of July family reunion
44. Visit our old neighbors in NJ
45. Go to the Grand Canyon
46. Get a new stamp on my passport

Fitness:
47. Run a 5k race
48. Take a yoga class
49. Go for a hike
50. Take a Piloxing class
51. Complete a 10k race
52. Hold a 5 minute plank
53. Attend a fitness class I've never heard of
54. Try 5 new strength-training/cardio workouts from Pinterest (0/5)
55. FINALLY go swimming again
56. Finish a p90x workout

Entertaining:
57. Throw a dinner party
58. Host a holiday party
59. Host a scarf swap
60. Host a cookie swap
61. Participate in another freezer meal swap
62. Host Friendsgiving
63. Throw a bridal shower/bachelorette party/baby shower
64. Throw a "favorite things" party

DIY/Projects:
65. Make a Console Table
66. Turn my mom's old ring into a new necklace
67. Pick a Pinterest DIY and do it
68. Make something at a pottery studio
69. Put together a photo wall in the apartment
70. Turn one of our favorite wedding pictures into a canvas
71. Make something with the wine cork collection
72. Turn my blog into a book
73. Create wall art with an old wood pallet

Just for Fun/Random:
74. Send a care package to a friend
75. Go to my first country concert
76. Watch my brother swim for WKU
77. Donate blood
78. Go camping
79. TRY skiing again....
80. Send out Christmas cards for the first time
81. Go to a beer festival
82. Build a snowman
83. Go to the top of a lighthouse
84. Read 5 books not related to my Master's program (0/5)
85. Go to an NFL game
86. Buy an item from my cousin, Olivia's Sakroots line 
87. Go to a museum
88. Donate toys to a local elementary school for Christmas
89. Have professional family pictures taken
90. Go to a play
91. Go Strawberry Picking
92. Inspire someone else to write their own 101 list.

Explore Boston:
93. Try 5 new restaurants in Boston (0/5)
94. Go Ice Skating in Frog Pond
95. Go to a Bruins game
96. Go to a concert at the TD Garden
97. Check out the Boston Winery
98. Go on a Duck Boat tour through Boston
99. Go to the New England Aquarium
100. Go to the Plymouth Plantation
101. Go to a Christmas Parade in Boston

Bonus:
102. Donate $1 for every challenge I do not complete by the end of 1001 days.

Well, there you have it! My hope is that every time I cross off one of these items from the list, I'll blog about it, but you can follow along through the page at the top of my blog!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thankful

We have been doing a lot of holiday-themed lessons in my Master's program lately. Subsequently, I have been itching to put away our fall décor and bust out the Christmas stuff; the only thing holding me back in Ryan, who, up until today, insisted we hold off until after Thanksgiving. Luckily, I was able to use my power of persuasion to get "Put up Christmas décor" added to our weekend to-do list!

So... before I jump headfirst into the Christmas spirit, I thought I would take some inspiration from a fellow blogger and type up a quick list of a few things I've been feeling thankful for this season.
  1. My husband who put up with me loved me enough to make me his wife 11 months ago today.
  2. Our new home up North and all of the exciting things we have been able to do so far. Now, if only I can remember how much I love New England this winter when the snow is up to my thighs and its pitch black outside by 4pm.
  3. My whole, big, beautiful family. Ya'll definitely give me a lot to be thankful for.
  4. The awesome friends Ryan and I have made up here in Boston that make it a little easier to be so far away from everyone down South and the two upcoming Friendsgiving's and Thanksgiving Dinner we are lucky enough to be invited to!
  5. My job and all of the amazing experience I'm gaining to better prepare me for my own classroom one day.
  6. Freezer meals. Along with the full-time job and evening classes at Bridgewater, freezer meals have been the only thing providing Ryan and I with some sort of nutrition.
  7. This blog. I'm so glad I decided to start this thing and keep track of all the wonderful things we've been doing during our first year of married life!
There are so many more little things I am definitely thankful for, but I don't want to bore ya'll so I'll stop the list here!

On that note... let the Christmas season commence!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bacon and Spinach Quiche

I've been missing Life Group lately since I have class every week on the night that everyone meets. As you all may know, everyone brings a food dish to share pot-luck style. Since I haven't been going, Ryan has been stopping at the grocery store on the way out and picking up whatever he can to bring over, which is fine but, in my opinion, nothing beats a home-cooked dish! So, when I got the email this week telling me that the food theme for group is "Bacon", I decided I just HAD to make something to send this time! Here's what I came up with!

Bacon & Spinach Quiche


Ingredients:
  • 1 unbaked Pie Crust
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 4-6 pieces of Bacon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Milk
  • 1/8 tsp. Pepper
Directions:

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook bacon. I cooked mine in a cast-iron skillet and it turned out awesome... but don't even get me started on that. Once cooked, let cool and crumble.

Why thank you chili's for giving us your handy dandy pot holder. The skin on our hands no longer burns off every time we try to use our cast iron skillet! Win! 

- While the bacon is cooking, line your pie plate with the pie crust, push down to release all air bubbles, and pierce all over with a fork.


- On the bottom of the pie, sprinkle cheese, spinach, and bacon.

-In a mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add milk and pepper and stir until combined. Pour egg mixture into the pie crust.


-Bake for 1 hour or until the center is not wobbly and an inserted knife comes out clean.


Life group- I hope you enjoy this tomorrow! Save me a slice!

*P.s.- I'd like to wish a very happy birthday to my Mother-in-Law, Susan! Wish we could celebrate with you!!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The SOX Win the Series!!

I would like to think that this little Smith family brought those Boston sports teams some luck when we moved up here, but if we're being honest, they didn't really need it. Since we've lived in the Boston area, the Patriots went pretty far in their post-season, the Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup, and, in case you haven't heard, the Sox won the World Series! Even though the Boston teams continually do very well in their seasons, it's really the fan base that makes it so exciting to get invested here. Everyone is so passionate about these teams and we've found it to be pretty contagious! Even if the Sox hadn't won the Series, I'm pretty sure Ryan and I would still be fans for life. (Don't get me wrong, I will always love the Braves and Falcons.) But they did win the World Series, so last Saturday, Ryan and I trekked into the city to help the Sox celebrate their victory! 


Apparently there were over 2 million people lining the streets of Boston Saturday morning. Ryan and I made sure to get in there nice and early, and surprisingly had ZERO problems parking (definitely a first!) We grabbed breakfast at Finagle Bagel before finding our spots on Boylston Street, across from Copley Square. One by one, the duck boats started passing us, filled with some really happy baseball players!

Here's a little glimpse into the city Saturday morning!







The Trophy! 
Koji Bryant!
video

- I'm hoping this video works for everyone, because it's awesome. After all of the team had passed on their duck boats, Big Papi drove by in a semi-truck, rapping away! Seriously, the highlight of the parade!



Once the parade had passed us, we walked down the Charles, where the duck boats would eventually plop into the river and drive by us once again. We hung out for a while, but eventually decided to walk around a bit instead and grabbed a drink on Newbury before heading back to Weymouth.


Right off the Charles! 
We had such a fun time cheering the Sox to a victory and then helping them celebrate in style! Thanks for a great season, Boston!


Sunday Roast with Gravy

*Yes, I realize how boring this post title is.. but let's just go with it! 

Last week, while grocery shopping at Whole Foods, I noticed the bottom round roasts were extremely on sale- like 2 lbs. of meat for $4. I've never cooked with this type of meat before but figured I could think of something and threw the roast into my cart.

Well Sunday morning rolled around and I remembered that roast sitting in my fridge, so before church, I plopped the thing in the crock-pot with some veggies and the end result was AWESOME! Here's what I did:


Ingredients:
  • 2 lb. Beef Bottom Round Roast
  • 1 bag Baby Carrots
  • 5 Red Potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
Directions:

Put the roast in the bottom of the crock pot and cover with carrots, potatoes, and onions.


Pour Worcestershire sauce and beef broth over the top, covering up the round roast.

Cook on low for 8 hours, flipping the meat half way through.


To Make the Gravy:

  1. Once the roast is cooked, remove it, along with the potatoes and carrots and set aside.
  2. Transfer the liquid to a small saucepan and add in 3-5 tablespoons of flour, depending on the preferred consistency of gravy. Whisk continually until sauce thickens.


Enjoy!!