Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

This has been a well read verse as our family has gone through some unexpected changes.  The last two years we have prayed through two lay-offs and adding two more members to our family.  God has reminded us once again to trust Him not only with our own futures but the futures of those we love including 3 families we know facing cancer, others facing serious illnesses and some struggling through financial instability.  As we celebrated this Christmas, we were reminded of Mary's trust in our God as she prepared to give birth to her firstborn under what we would see as undesirable circumstances...No home, no hospital, and no baby supplies, but her faith really shows how much we really need...Trusting in God's provision.

Merry Christmas,
The Porters

December Birthdays

This month Big Sister and I celebrated our birthdays.  I can't belive my baby turned 8 this month!  She informed us that she had enough toys and wanted boots for her birthday...and boots she got!  She also wanted a scarf, angel earings, and a San Jose Sharks shirt for her birthday. Well 3 out of 4 isn't so bad.

Quiet Reading Nook

Here is baby girl's new pasttime...reading in her little nook.  She enjoys going into the pack-and-play to read some of her favorite books.  Today's selection, another phonics book from Sing, Spell, Read and Write.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Favorite Christmas Books

This is one of our most favorite Christmas Books.  Many of you know that the author uses the candy cane to explain the story of Christ.  Love it, love it!  Check out our other Christmas Favorites on the list below.

Our Favorite Christmas Books

My Merry Christmas and The Real Reason for Christmas Joy by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado

The Polar Express

A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe

Small Gifts in God's Hands by Max Lucado

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Snowman's Path by Helena Pittman

Can You See What I See? The Night Before Christmas by Walter Wick

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walberg

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tree Decorating, etc.

We are back to the days of decorating the top half of our tree...

Baby girl looks so thrilled.  "Help," she says, "My brother is squeezing me!"

Free and happy from the clutches of her brother.

This was a huge awakening for us as we pulled out the stockings.  About 4 years or so ago we started with 4 stockings from one of my fave stores.  See how nice they match the pillows?  I also bought those and the curtains at the same time.  Then Bro needed one so grandma found one at the outlet...Then baby girl needed one last year so low and behold, I found two more on Ebay.  Only two left from one seller and they were new with tags!  Yes, I bought both when we really needed one...and now I'm glad I did.  I guess God was hinting that we'd need it.  Now my problem is the fireplace isn't big enough for all those stockings!

After tree decorating...the beginning of Christmas Movie Watching!   Frosty The Snowman and hot chocolate.

Turkey, Not Dried Out

The week before Thanksgiving, I decided to roast a turkey.  It wasn't my plan as we have been roasting a whole bone in turkey breast on the BBQ the last couple years.  One day at Costco, they had a pile of organc turkeys, so I bought one. 

That afternoon, I stuffed the cavity with salt, pepper, a couple twigs of rosemary from the backyard, garlic, onion, lemon and a stick of butter.  Salted and peppered the outside, drizzled with olive oil and plopped it into my massive cast iron pan (now I don't feel so bad for buying that monsterous thing).  I roasted it breast side down for a couple hours at 375 and vola!  Yummy turkey.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Freaky Cornbread Stuffing

Well Friends,

Our family now has a new long-standing joke when it comes to Thanksgiving Stuffing.  Yes, Thanksgiving was last month but with baby-girl's fake concussion turned family stomach but, who has time to post blogs?

So mom and I started making cornbread stuffing the day before.  She used my standby cornbread recipe and baked it on the sheet pans.  I said, hey "triple" the recipe, so she did.  When I came home later that day, it didn't look like a lot, so I told her to triple it she did and then we had a mound of cornbread so stupidly high, I didn't have a container large enough to put it in.  Then I remembered those aluminum pans I bought at Costco to bring dinners to families...they were waaaaayyy too big so I stuck them in the garage with the intention of exchanging them for the smaller ones and never did.  So check out my monster stuffing.

Here I am chopping a mound of celery...

This is a triple batch of cornbread which usually
makes 36 muffins...We made a total of 6 batches, don't ask why.

So this is a giant aluminum pan from Costco, a church sized one filled with just cornbread.  I forgot the final picture, but we had 2 of these filled with stuffing!

Sneaky cornbread muncher!

Big sissa helping with the chopping.

Now here is the crazy part.  Three packages of Italian sausage from Trader Joes, 3 large yellow onions, garlic and one big head of celery...and a ton of sage and poultry seasoning (probably 5 T.).  Notice the size of this massive iron skillet.  Once again, I think things don't look big until I get them home.  This is a 16 inch pan!

Sausage meatiness in all its glory...Freakin' ridiculous!

Mushroom-Bacon Meatloaf

Here is my new creation...thought it turned out better than the paper thin chocolate chip cookies I made last night (minus the baking soda-oops). 

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 package of bacon
1 container of sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2 small, yellow onion
1/4 c. katsup..the old Heinz
1 T. dried oregano
1 egg
1/2-2/3 c. bread crumbs
NO SALT (I figured the other ingredients had enough to go around)

Chop bacon into little pieces and cook.  Drain fat and add mushrooms and finely diced onion...During this time I add the oregano and garlic powder...and a sprinkle of salt.  Just a little.  Add ingredients to the food processor and mince a little more.  Add in bread crumbs and pulse a couple times to mix.  Add to a large bowl and let cool.  Then add all the other ingredients and mix with your freshly manicured hands.  Shape into loaf and bake at 375 for about 30-40 minutes.

Serve with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and some sauted brussel sprouts, green beans, or chard.  If you are making roasted garlic mashed potatoes, roast your garlic while the meatloaf is baking.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

Before the topping....

This is my modified version of Apple Crisp...with cranberries and pecans.  With those special ingredients, I have classified this a breakfast treat/dessert.  Afterall fruit and oatmeal have fiber and pecans have protein right?


Serves 8

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar...or light if you are not feeling so fall-ish

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) melted, unsalted butter

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

9-11 apples, such as Empire, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Winesap, Gala, or Braeburn (or a mixture of), peeled, cored, and cut into slices (enough to fit into a 9 x 13 Pyrex).  I always use my handy-dandy apple-corer-peeler-slicer from Williams-Sonoma.  Can't live without it knowing I can get apple crisp into the oven buy the time it preheats...10 minutes flat.

12 oz. of frozen, sliced cranberries (Trader Joes are great)

3/4-1 cup of finely chopped pecans

fresh lemon juice from half a lemon (enough to coat apples)

1-1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, 4 tablespoos of the granulated sugar and butter.  Mix until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats, and use your hands (or a fork) to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form. Transfer to freezer to chill while you prepare apples (If you forget no biggee).

2. In another large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, cinnamon, remaining granulated sugar, cranberries and pecans. Transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish, and sprinkle with topping mixture. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet (this is in case you pack your Pyrex too full and it bubbles over), and bake until golden and bubbling, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving with fresh whipped cream.  You know you always keep a quart of heavy whipping cream in your fridge!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Day and The Life of Having Kids...

So, yes I still have been baking up a storm.  Its what I do a lot of these days.  Hopefully I will be able to post some of my newer recipes like the quiche I am working on...chard and quiche.  Such a nice combo.  Tomorrow I hope to work on the smoked salmon and goat cheese.  

Anyhow, things are a little busier the last few days.  Big sister has not recovered from her nasty cold and is on over a week of her phlegmy cough.  Brother is recovering from a sickness of some sort...and baby girl, bless her busy little heart, was running and fell on her forehead Friday night.  The bump wasn't as big as I have seen, but she bit the dust on the tile floor.  Then daddy got up with her for a little snack around 3:30 am, fed her in the dark only to realize she had something all over her face...She threw up at some point before he got her out of her crib.  Before he could realize it, she was vomiting all over the place waking me from a dead sleep....Now Dr. Laura had a woman call in last week complaining that her husband didn't get up at night to help with the baby.  Dr. Laura replied with some long monologue about women being designed to wake up to their crying baby...NOT!!!  Once those babies of mine are weaned...I tend to not wake up as fast and many times my fabulous husband wakes up first.

Sooooo, baby girl vomits a lot, and I strip her and stick her in the bath while daddy gets cleaned up and mops the floor.  I realize as I am bathing her that she fell pretty hard on her head and think, "CONCUSSION!"  Ahhhh, so I look up the info on Dr. Sears' website...sure enough its a sign.  So then I call the doctor on call who happens to be our wonderful Dr. O...who says to take her to the Med Center.  Soooo, based on advice from a previous pediatrician years ago, I call for an ambulance and off we go to the Med Center at 4:30 am...Baby girl gets the first ambulance ride and CT out of her siblings.  The boys would have been jealous to see 5 firemen in our tiny living room and two trucks out front. Once she was admitted and examined, she was sedated, had the CT scan, it was clear of fracture and bleeding and we were discharged by 9am...after she vomited one more time.  Praise GOD!  You can fall on tile and not break anything (except chip a baby tooth).  We kept a close watch on her and into the night she starts getting sick again and by the time we turned in for the night, it was after 1 am.  There's nothing like being up for 20 + hours, pregnant with a sick kid now with diarrhea.  It makes you feel like an expert parent right?  So after a moderate amount of sleep, we awoke this morning to...more vomiting.   

So being a cautious parent, we know we did the right thing but after a night of runny diapers, changing sheets and no sleep one can wonder if she really had a mild concussion...or a touch of the flu.  I guess we'll wait a day or so to see if anyone else gets sick.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Scones

This is a recipe I am still playing with.  Check back in a couple days for an update.

Pumpkin Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup pumpkin

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 large egg, plus 1 large egg lightly beaten for egg wash

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.Whisk together flours, granulated sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture has the texture of coarse meal. Stir in pumpkin.

3.Whisk together buttermilk, 1 egg, and the vanilla. Drizzle over flour mixture, and stir lightly with a fork until dough comes together but a small amount of flour remains in bowl.

4.Turn out dough onto a work surface, and gently knead dough once or twice just to incorporate flour. Pat dough into a 12 inch rectangle. Cut into 12 wedges. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer scones to wire racks to cool. Scones are best served immediately but can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw, and reheat in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Homeschooling Fun

Baby girl has to pretend to do school...with real markers and pencils.

Can you belive math makes him smile?  What a difference a change in publisher can make. of our favorite subjects.  Odd, but they love it and want to take weekly tests.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Candy Corn Jars

For those of you with preschoolers, you might remember the cartoon-commercial on the Noggin Channel featuring the song, "I Don't Like Candy Corn."  Well in our house, its a fave.  Who knows why, its straight up sugar and food coloring.  Things my kids are never allowed to eat outside of Halloween.  Anyhow, I combined two different craft ideas from a couple blogs I visit to use up some of the baby food jars collecting dust on the kitchen counter.  I'm not going to feature step by step photos...don't have the time to get extra fancy.

1. Get out the baby food jars.  I used two different sizes.
2. Paint the lids black or spray paint.
3. Glue some ribbon along the jar lids.  DON'T use the glue gun as it makes the paint melt away.  I used the old Tacky Glue.  I also made a bow on the first jar.  It's not very noticeable so I stopped after the first one.  Might turn one into a hair bow for baby girl.
4. Spell out candy or BOO or something cute.  I used scrapbook stickers from Michaels.
5. Fill with candy corn.
6. Keep kids from eating the candy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Glittery Pumpkins

Today's Craft Project: Glittery Pumpkins

We used regular glitter paint in the tube from Lakeshore.

They had a lot of fun making them sparkle.

They even looked good enough to sell!
Materials: Glitter Paint, brushes, pumpkins, and pipe cleaners for the vines.

Lamb Patties, Roasted Potatoes and Greek Salad

OK, if you detest lamb, go to another post as I don't think this will work with beef or turkey.  This is a version of lamb patties my mom learned how to make from the mother of an Indian classmate I had in elementary school.  Although they were East Indian, this could be considered Greek or Middle Eastern as the spice blend has the same spices used in those regions: cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, etc.  They were awesome cooked on the grill, with some cubed yellow potatoes that roasted in the oven...add a Greek Salad and you're set...unless you need a glass of red wine to go with it.

Grilled Lamb Patties

2 lbs. of ground lamb
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 grated white onion
salt to taste
1-1 1/2 t. of Garam Masala (I use the Mc Cormick brand)
1/2 c. finely chopped cilantro
1 finely minced jalapano (seeded)

Mix, mix and grill.  I made about 10 patties from this batch and tossed them on the grill

Grilled Potatoes

1 small bag of Yukon Gold Potatos, quartered
1/4 c. olive oil

Toss with oil and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Spinkle with salt afterwards.  I love, love using the cast iron pan in the oven.

Greek Salad

One head of Green Leaf Lettuce
Your favorite tomatoes...from your garden
about half a red onion
Kalamata Olives (I prefer ones in oil, not vinegar)
Feta Cheese (I love the sheep's mik version at Trader Joes).
Half of a sliced English Cucumber
about 1 cup of previously cooked lentils (I just made some in salted water til they are just past al dente)
Vinegrette (1 part olive oil to 1 part red or white wine vinegar, add a little dried oregano)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

That Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Just a reminder to those who have been asking, "What cinnamon recipe did you make?"  My homeschooing friend passed this great site over to me, Pioneer Girl who is a foodie and fellow homeschooler.  Check out this recipe, its awesome and the maple glaze was what I used on my pumpkin cake and plan to use for another dessert next week or so.  I made a half batch to try and my kiddos insisted we give half to our neighbor who had been brining over some filipino dishes to share. 

One suggestion:  I used a cake pan to cook one pan, but I highly reccomend a regular old pie pan, like the extra Marie Calendar ones you have been saving from a million Thanksgivings.  The slanted sides help the middle cinnamon rolls cook better.  The cake pan seems to prevent it.

Here you go.  Beware, this is not for the thigh conscious woman!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Keeping the Kids on Task-Chores

My kids love lists.  The prefer having a schedule and knowing what's expected on a daily basis.  Using a traditional chore chart was too cumbersome to keep track of and handing out money each week was getting a little expensive.  My alternative, creating schedules and chore lists and laminating them so the kids could use a dry erase maker to cross off what they've completed.  Can I tell you how much I love the laminator?  Make a list, print it out on fun paper and run it through the laminator...It lasts almost forever.

Here is a sample of the kids' chore chart list.  We have a handful of chore lists with the first half the same and the bottom half Some things you might not call "chores" such as getting dressed, but it gives them the feeling of accomplishment when they can cross it off.

Get Ready:
Get Dressed
Make Bed
Clean Room
Practice Music
Eat Breakfast
Put Away Laundry

Bathroom Duty:
Clean Sink
Clean Mirror
Clean Light Switch and Door Handle
Take Out Trash

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin-Apple Bundt Cake

Here is how you make my new invention, the Pumpkin-Apple Bundt Cake...with left over maple glaze. This pumpkin bread is good alone, with or without dried cranberries and pecans. I think a bundt looks nice for dessert and I love saying "bundt" like the Greek Mama from My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

1. Occupy baby girl with blobs of yesterday's oatmeal for a snack and keep the packet of yeast she found on the counter.

2. Solicit labor from your eldest who enjoys cooking and baking. You need the help since baby girl wouldn't nap and you need to be out the door in 90 minutes.

3. Make Pumpkin-Apple Bundt Cake and drizzle with left over maple glaze from the cinnamon roll recipe you made earlier in the week. It was a late-night brainstorm.

4. Let your kids eat cake at 9pm after they get home from choir practice. Its a really good way for them to shower and get ready for bed in a flash.

Pumpkin Bread Recipe (really its cake-like as it has more sugar than most breads)
3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking powder
3 eggs, beaten
2/3 c. oil (I use canola)
2 c. pumpkin puree (fresh if you have the time and want to be like Martha)

Apple Filling
1 apple finely chopped
1/4 cup of finely chopped pecans
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon

Maple Drizzle (this is half the recipe and you'll still have left overs)
1 box of powdered sugar
1 t. maple extract
1/8 c. of coffee
1/8 c. of milk
2 T of melted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Grease the big bundt pan or 2 large loaf pans if you just want bread. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another bowl and combine with dry. Pour half of batter in bundt pan, add apple filling and top with the other half of batter. Bake for about 1 hr and 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before drizzling with maple glaze.

Is It Still Summer?

As we near the middle of October, I am surprised (not really) with the waves of hot weather coming our way. Really....90 degree weather during a trip to the local pumpkin patch? I think not. I'll wait and hope for the mid 70's to come my way. The one benefit to this late summer, has been the longer season for tomato growing. My 5 plants are still producing and the chard is still growing large and leafy. Here are a couple tasty photos of the kids' harvest the other morning.

Chard used for dinner side dish sauted with olive oil and whole roasted garlic cloves (not yet from my garden).

Out of the 7 tomato plants in our garden, 5 became good producers. Sadly when I bought the plants at Capital Nursery, they didn't have the stakes in the pots with their names. Those little purple ones are sooooo sweet and juicy. The larger ones have a purpley-red flesh and are similar in texture to a Roma.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash, one of my kids' favorite foods to eat in the fall. They love to eat it roasted, served with cinnamon and honey for breakfast on a regular basis. Healthy and cheap too. Especially if you are able to grow them in your garden. This week I decided to make Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with a couple BNS I had on hand. As a kid I don't remember if I liked it, but since the kids love BNS, why not make a soup?

Please bear with me as I am not an exact measurement kind of gal.

2 butternut squash

1 large yellow onion

1 carrot

2 potatoes, I had them lying around so why not throw those in?

1 head of garlic, yes a whole head

a little olive oil


4-5 c. water

1T chicken bullion (I prefer the Better Than Bullion in the jar)

1 T. dried Thyme

1 T. dried Marjoram

1/2 c. whole milk

Wash and cut the BNS in half. Roast cut side down on a greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until they are fork tender. During that time, roast your head of garlic. Cut off the top of the head, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and toss it in with the squash. The garlic should be soft and squishy but not burnt.

After BNS has cooled, scoop out and toss seeds, scoop out out squash and place in a bowl. Dice onion, carrot, and peeled potato and saute in olive oil until soft. Add in herbs, squash, water, bullion and simmer until all veggies are soft.

Use an emulsion blender to blend soup (with stove off of course) and add milk before serving.

I didn't have chives on hand which I would have loved to sprinkle on top. Instead I had some day old Italian Bread which I cubed, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and crushed garlic and baked into some pretty tasty croutons.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall Has Arrived?

Many of you know I love, love, love fall...pumpkins, apples, changing leaves, pie and did I mention PIE? The first week of fall was about 100 million degrees. Not the typical weather one may have in mind for the first day of fall. We are talking Nor-Cal, so you never know. My kids didn't care about the sweltering heat and thoughts of cool swimming pools. They wanted pie, pumpkin pie to be specific. So to begin the fall season, like always, being pregnant (coincidentally again) in 100 degree weather, I made two pumpkin pies. My kitchen was hot as I par-baked my buttery crusts, but who cares? We would have pie for dinner...I mean dessert. As I whipped together my favorite Martha Stewart recipe, with my own twist, the kids quietly studied at the table (well not that quietly as they wanted pie). As the pies baked, we painted watercolors of a pumpkin patch and am quite impressed with their works of art. After church that evening, we raced home to whip up real whipped cream to dollop on our pie...a little heavy cream, some vanilla, powdered sugar...lick the beaters. You know the kind usually made just on Thanksgiving Day? As we ate our pie, we opened the back door to let the cool air filter in, to get the full fall experience. Too bad it was still close to 90 degrees!

So...I added my leaf decorations on the rim of the pie. Well only half of the pie as I didn't make an extra crust for all my pretty, sugar coated leaves. Didn't want the extra fat so close to the holiday season!

You can't tell but Big Sissa added her own Jack-O-Lantern touches to her pumpkins.

Bro had to add his own touches too. Some green vines on the ground for future pumpkins.

I am quite impressed with B's painting. Art is usually not his thing and the majority of the time he was sweating from coming in and out of the backyard on this hot fall day.

Here is the pumpkin pie recipe from Martha Stewart...
Makes two 10-inch pies

1 sugar pumpkin (about 4 pounds), halved, or 3 cups solid-pack canned pumpkin (not pumpkin-pie filling)

1 1/2 recipes Pate Brisee, divide dough into 3 disks

All-purpose flour, for dusting

7 large eggs

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar ( I use dark)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (2 t. for me)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cups evaporated milk (for those of you who want creamy pie, you can exchange the evaporated milk for cream but it is not a 1:1 ratio...I'll practice and get back to you)

Whipped cream, for serving


1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If using fresh pumpkin, roast it, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet until soft, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely. (Roasted pumpkin can be refrigerated, in an airtight container, overnight.) Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

2.Reserve 1 disk of dough for making leaf decorations. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out remaining disks into 14-inch rounds. Fit rounds into two 10-inch pie plates; trim edges, leaving 1/2-inch overhangs. Fold edges under, and press to seal. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

3.Roll out reserved disk to a 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer to a baking sheet, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a small (about 1 inch) leaf-shape cookie cutter or a paring knife, cut leaves from dough. Freeze until cold, about 15 minutes.

4.Brush edges of pie shells with a damp pastry brush; arrange leaves around edges, pressing to adhere. Whisk 1 egg and cream in a small bowl. Brush leaves with egg wash. Cut 2 large circles of parchment; fit into pie shells, extending above edges. Fill with pie weights or dried beans.

5.Bake pie shells 15 minutes. Remove weights and parchment; bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool completely on wire racks.

6.If using fresh pumpkin, discard seeds. Scoop out flesh, using a large spoon, into a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure out 3 cups, and transfer pumpkin to a large bowl (reserve any remaining for another use; if using canned pumpkin, add that to the bowl instead). Add brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg, remaining 6 eggs, and evaporated milk; whisk until combined.

7.Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place pie shells on rimmed baking sheets. Divide pumpkin mixture evenly between shells. Bake until all but centers are set, 35 to 40 minutes. Let pies cool completely on wire racks. Cut into wedges, and serve with whipped cream.

.Pate Brisee (That's crust for the non-French Speakers)

Makes enough for 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust pies

If you are wanting to decorate the entire rim of your pie crust, you will need to make 1 1/2 batches of pate brisee
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 T sugar for crust (this is my own addition)

1/3 c. course sugar for decorating the leaves around the pie

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup ice water


1.Pulse flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter, cut into small pieces, and pulse until mixture forms coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.

2.With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream until dough just holds together without being wet or sticky, no longer than 30 seconds.

3.Divide dough in half; flatten and shape into disks, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Dough can be frozen up to 1 month; thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.


My Biggest Baby Turns Nine; My Babiest Baby Turns One

My September Babies One Year Ago

September is a busy time in our household. My oldest and youngest have birthdays, school, soccer and church activities are in full swing. I can't believe how fast this past year has whizzed by. "B" turned 9 and is continuing to grow into a handsome, smarter than smart, big brother. He is flourishing in his studies and is enjoying Latin, playing guitar and above all...SPORTS!

Baby Joy-Joy turned one. It's bittersweet to see how fast she is growing up. I can't believe less than two years ago, we weren't even planning on more babies. We had talked about it off and on, but more kids in a 1300 sq. ft house? That seemed a little squishy. God had other plans for us and we can't imagine our lives without our spunky baby girl. She is so intelligent, sweet and a lot like her biggest brother. Even on her ultrasound, we could tell their profiles were alike. Our little girl has assumed herself in the position of youngest baby of a family of big kids...following them where ever they go and doesn't take NO for an answer.

Baby girl enjoying her first cupcake!

"B" opening his new favorite toy...The NERF!