Holiday Eating Tips...kinda

Okay, okay, so I've been mia for a few months or so...I've been busy! Doing what? Who knows, but let me tell ya, that takes up a lot of time!  But, I figured I better make some sort of a holiday appearance on this, or you really might think I closed up shop! 

In honor of all that is good with the gluttony accompanying Thanksgiving, Ugly Sweater Parties, Christmas, New Years Eve,and Amaretto Straight-Up (my absolute favorite holiday drink), I present you with....

Holiday Eating Tips 2010
1.    Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go NExt door, where they're serving rum balls.
2.   Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare... You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas! 
3.   If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat. 
4.   As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5.   Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6.   Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-Pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7.   If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again. 
8.   Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9.   Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
10.  One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate and wine in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"



Dried Herbs?  Bad
Fresh Herbs? GOOD
Fresh Herbs anytime other than the summer from my garden?  Outrageously expensive, and sadly subbed out with dried herbs most of the time
Solution? Yes, I have one!!

I had very high hopes with the herbs in my garden this year. 
I planted:  2 rows of basil, 1 row of dill, 1 row of cilantro, 1 row of chives, and a half a row of parsley.
I currently have:  2 rows of weeds, 1 row of dill, 1 row of overgrown gone-to-seed cilantro, 1 row of weeds, and a half a row of the most beautiful parsley you have ever seen!
(note to self- next year all herbs are getting started in the greenhouse, no more of this seed business!)

Anywho, this morning and afternoon I have ALL to myself at home, so I thought I better do something with that parsley besides watch it go to seed too.  I set out to chop it up with olive oil, kind of like pesto, and freeze it.  This way, I will always have fresh parsley, and it won't turn black and grody because I added the oil.

So, out with my scissors and my bowl, cut all my parsley.  I'm so proud of my parsley crop...this bowl is stuffed full, and my row is only about 5 or 6 feet long!
 Can I get a shout out to my first 2 ripe tomatoes??
 Lovely parsley again, all washed up, with little critters and weeds removed
 My two BFFs...olive oil from Costco, and my Cuisinart.  If I had to choose 5 things to take to a desert island, these would be 2 of them!
 My mini tartlett tray via Demarle (no they aren't paying me, yes I had to pay for this!)...this is what I used to freeze the parsley in.
 Next, I ripped off the top leaves and got rid of the excess stemmy need for the extra roughage in my opinion.
 See? Who needs all that junk?
 Throw it in the Cuisinart (stuff it kind of full, or this will take a while as I found out), with maybe a 1/4 cup of oil, and use the pulse button, not the chop button, you don't want to make paste, just finely chopped.
 The pieces should be small enough that they hold together, but not so small that it is pasty like pesto can be.  And, add more olive oil if it's not holding together too well.

 Smash it in the tray, and freeze! They will pop right out, and they you can just throw them in the freezer. I figure one little tartlett is equal to about 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.
 I can't wait to throw this in some lasagna! Fresh parsley just tastes SO much better than dried!
 Where's the maid??


An Exercise in Pizza

Officially, our house does not have air conditioning. Unofficially, we have 2 "whiskey tango" window ac's. If it were up to Andy, those bad boys would run 24-7 as soon as it warms up enough for him to put away his long underwear for the season. I like to use them only when it hits 90+ outside, and would prefer to just keep the windows open and enjoy the fresh air. But, I do what I can to keep the house as cool as possible, and one of those things is trying to use the oven either only in the morning, or not at all. Well, it's tough to work in one of our staple dinner rotations, pizza, when you can only cook it in the morning. So, I decided to give bbqing a homemade pizza a shot. I have done the take-n-bake kind on the bbq, but never a homemade one. A while back my friend Kelly told me that my new favorite cooking gadget, a Silpat, could withstand up to 480 degrees (she also told me broiling on them is a bad idea...bad Liz!!). Well, our bbq on high usually hits somewhere between 350 and 400, so I figured I was safe to give bbqing a pizza on a Silpat a shot. It ended up working GREAT!! No burning the bottom or the top waiting for the top or the bottom to get done, and the crust was nice and crispy, and not a bit soggy! I was unsure at first whether to cook the crust by itself and then add the toppings, but went with it all in at once, and was 100% pleased with the results! Oh, and we have a Traeger BBQ, so I'm not sure how a gas or briquette bbq would work, but I would think you would want to keep the temperature pretty low to keep the bottom from burning. Oh ya, and because I used a Silpat, all I had to do was wipe it off when I was done and that was the extent of my clean up! Happy Mom Factor for sure!! :)


Seventeen Month Pictures

Fool me once is all the Picture People are gonna get out of me! After spending a small fortune having Aiden's pictures taken back in October, Andy and I refuse to be suckers again! Luckily, we are blessed with two great  photographers in our family, Andy's dad Pat, and my sister Catherine's husband Cory! Anywho, here are the pics that Pat took of Aiden a few weeks ago...they are pre-editing, which I am hoping that Cory will help me with (hint hint)! Oh, and Cory has a newly founded Nauertz Photography blog...  I'm sure he will be posting tons more pictures soon, he is really getting into his photography groove!

P.S...does anyone know how to edit out slobber? This kid is always drooling all over the place!


Fourth of July

The first summer that Andy and I "hung out" was the very first time that I ever attended the St. Paul 4th of July Parade.  I was newly 21, he was 23 and freshly out of college, without a job, and plenty of time on his hands to "court" me.  That was the best summer....tons of fun and clever dates (swathing, trips to scary cemeteries, out to fun bars) , surprises (carrot cake in a college class, a detailed car complete with my favorite Dave Matthews Band cd), and visits to me at work (also the first summer I worked for Ioka).  The summer between us ended awkwardly, 100% the fault of mine, and is a ridiculously absurd story for some other time (I feel like an idiot even thinking about it).  Luckily for us, alls well that ends well.

Anywho, back to the parade.  We have gone to the parade every year for the past 8 years with just about all of Andy's extended family each year.  It is the best small-town parade... anyone can enter into it the day-of!  There is lots of candy, and lots of waving, and you always see someone in the parade you know.  This year was Aiden's second parade...last year he got to meet Abe Lincolin! :)  We have such a great time going, and look forward to it all year long.



Girl's Weekend in Walla Walla

A couple weeks back I headed up to Walla Walla, all by myself (I think that is the furthest I have ever driven was NICE!) to see my little sister Lydia, and to join one of my best friends from college, Katie, and her sister (who also lives in WW), and their mom and friends for a girl's weekend! It was a relaxing couple of days of chatting, eating, and in true Walla Walla style, wine tasting!! The last time I was up there was in January, so it was a nice change to see all the landscapes flush with bright green, and yummy cherry and sweet onion season in full-swing!

At Three Rivers Winery for a bbq and live music
 The whole girl's weekend crew (minus Emily who was taking the picture)
 Katie & I
 The whole gang, this time with Lydia & Emily
 Beautiful Walla Walla

Father's Day

What do you mean I am a month late with this?? Oh well, better late than never! Andy's Father's Day wish was to go to the Evergreen Air Museum in McMinnville. We had been there once before, but it was for a work function, so we weren't able to spend much time looking around.  Well, going with a kiddo didn't give us much time to look at everything either, so we have decided to go back soon, next time, adults only! :)  We did get lots of "WOW's" from Aiden, which is always so fun to listen to!!


 Aiden was thrilled to be there, can't you tell?
 They also have a huge building just about the space program, it was really impressive!
 Actual piece of the Berlin Wall
 My boys...