Monday, November 23, 2015

Candied Pecans

Can you believe we're at Thanksgiving week? Didn't we just ring in the New Year? This year has flown by. In the last couple days I have been putting together a document on Christmases and as we're approaching my favorite time of the year, between Thanksgiving and New Years, I've been a scrooge the last 3 or 4 years at Christmas time. How the heck does that happen? I wish I had an answer but I don't. Maybe this year will be better? Here's to hoping!

My mom laughs at hubby and me because we write our Thanksgiving game plan out with courses, how long they cook, at what temperature they cook and even when we need to start working on them to get them in the oven at the correct time.

One of the recipes we're making this year is a Tennessee Whiskey Cake with Candied Pecans. Hubby was going to buy some candied pecans, but I told him I would find a recipe and make my own so that's just what I did yesterday... made my own candied pecans. Can I tell you how easy they were because wow, they were! The hardest part was I accidentally dropped my egg yolk into the egg white I was separating out and broke it while I was at it. Bummer!

That just meant I had to start over. Seriously, separating the egg white from the egg yolk is the hardest part of this recipe.

You drop the white into a mixer (or do it by hand, I was being lazy), bring to a frothy white, add brown sugar, fold in the Pecans, spread on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in a 175˚ oven for an hour and a half. And.... then you have Candied Pecans.

Recipe for Candied Pecans found here

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 large egg white
3 cups Pecan Halves (about 9 ounces)


  1. Preheat the oven to 175˚. In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and flour.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg white until frothy; whisk in the brown sugar mixture. Then fold in the pecans to coat evenly.
  3. Transfer to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake 1 1/2 hours. Let cool completely before breaking apart (that is if you can stay out of them!)
And bam, you have candied Pecans. Here we come Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Turkey

In 2012 I was surfing the internet one day and found a recipe for a Bacon Wrapped Turkey. I knew that we were going to be cooking Thanksgiving again this year so I shot the recipe to hubby and asked what he thought. He read through it and said he was in. So the next task was gathering the ingredients.

We've made it 2 years now and plan on making it again this year. (last year hubs thought he'd do it but smoked it instead of the oven. Then we forgot our bacon blanket....)

The Turkey
This recipe is for an 18-20lb turkey but extremely easy to adjust for bigger or smaller. And make sure that if you're using a frozen turkey you give ample time to defrost it!
What you’ll need:
A large plastic bag (optional, it's just used for the brining process)
A platter or pan that fits the turkey in the fridge (I use a big stock pot and no bag and get along fine)
Kitchen twine
A roasting pan that fits the turkey (and fits in your oven. Check, this is important!)
A probe-style meat thermometer.
A turkey (remember, if it's frozen, give it ample time to defrost!)
Lots of Kosher Salt
1 1/2 pounds bacon
1/2 pound butter
Fresh herbs: sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, marjoram, rosemary
Roasting Vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, apples
Brining the turkey:
Dry Brine the turkey. It works great and is super simple. We learned don't brine the turkey more than 24 hours in advance or it gets too salty. One year we salted it Monday night and wow, the turkey was way to salty and my husband salts his food and he kept claiming that it was too salty. Remove all the interior parts from the bird.  Discard them or use them for stock, or the giblets for gravy.  Wash the bird well, inside and out. Place the bird in your brining bag or pot of choice.  Rub kosher salt all over the turkey, inside and out.  Use a lot of salt.  Wash your hands. Put the turkey in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Thoroughly wash the sink you rinsed the turkey in and your hands.
For the Butter:

You can make this up to a week in advance to help with time on Thanksgiving day, especially if you have to get up at the crack of dawn for a noon lunch. We eat in the evening so there isn't as much of a push but we still make the butter in advance.

In a food processor,  add 1/2 lb raw bacon slices, 1/2 lb butter and generous handfuls of the herbs (sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, marjoram, rosemary). I don't have exact measurements we use for each of the herbs, just play around with it, we do every year. haha. Place the lid on the food processor and blend together until it makes a smooth paste.

Now if you're going to store, place in an airtight container.

Preparing turkey day of:

Bring the bacon butter to room temperature.

While that's going on, bring the turkey out of the container you were brining in and rinse it thoroughly. Place it breast side up on a cutting board or large platter to prepare it. Wash your sink out.

Take the pop-up timer out of your turkey if it comes with one, it's useless!

Wash your hands and get ready to get messy. It is helpful to have help because this gets messy! Take your rings and watch off. Now gently pry the skin away from the bird without tearing it. You just want to stick your hands between the meat and skin because you're going to be placing the butter mixture between the skin and meat. Keep going all the way to the neck and over the legs. Try not to tear the skin but don't worry if you do, it's not a huge deal!

Now take big fistfuls of butter and rub it up under the skin and all over the flesh. Use about 3/4 of the bacon butter under the flesh. Now pat the skin down into the butter; this helps spread the butter evenly under the skin. Rub the remaining butter on the outside of the bird in a thin layer, paying particular attention to the legs as they won't be covered by bacon.

Not only does the bacon make your bird have an extremely nice presentation but it helps keep the bird from drying out. Plus, bonus, it makes the gravy all that much better if you use the drippings!

We use thick cut bacon because as the bacon cooks, remember it starts to shrink a little. Plan for about 1 pound of bacon, give or take.

Placing the bacon:

Think of a pie how you do the lattice work... well that's what you're going to do with the bacon on the outside of the turkey. Lay one strip crosswise over the breast, then one lengthwise. Keep going, folding up the strips already placed to fit the new ones under.  The bacon will shrink when you cook the bird, so place the strips close together and use as many as you can fit.

Tie the legs of the bird together with kitchen twine. When you’ve got the bacon all woven, wash your hands thoroughly.

The bacon blanket can be done the night before if you are doing lunch so you're not having to get up so early. Just make sure the bird on the platter fits in your fridge. Since we do dinner, we do this step in the morning so we're ready to go for cooking the bird.

Cooking the bird:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Remember, remove the extra rack in your oven if you need to so the bird fits because it sucks to remove it when it's that hot!

Now to make your clean up easier (not totally mess free but easier) you can line your broiling pan in heavy duty aluminum foil.

Now you're going to chop up the vegetables. You want very aromatic root vegetables so we use carrots, celery, onions and apples. Take the outside skins and tops off the carrots, the celery can be chopped into smaller bits or not, your choice. Peel the outside paper skin off the onions and halve or quarter the onions. Chop the apples into halves or quarters, take the stem and seeds out. Stuff some of the pieces of apples, onions, celery and carrots into the cavity of the bird also. Also stick some of the herbs in the cavity of the bird as well.

Go ahead and mold a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the bird so that if it starts to get to brown later on in the cooking process, you already have the aluminum foil ready to place on the bird.

Roasting the turkey:

Place the turkey in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 degrees for the rest of the turkey cooking process. This is where a nice probe comes in handy, stick the probe in the deepest part of the breast and you can place the reader up on the counter and it chimes when the bird is fully cooked; carefully sliding the probe between an opening in the bacon blanket. Make sure you don’t’ go so deep you hit the bone. You want the turkey to be cooked to 165 degrees.

If the turkey and bacon start to get too brown, this is where you put the aluminum top on it that you created before placing it in the oven.

For a 20 pound turkey, you're looking at about 4-4 1/2 hours. Leave yourself some wiggle room... the turkey will wait, hungry people won't. ha!

Carving the turkey:

Let someone else do it :). ha! Now that the turkey is fully cooked, place it out so your family/friends can oohhh and ahhhh and then it's time to cut. I don't carve a turkey, I leave that to the professionals.

Take the juices from cooking and make gravy. or if you're at our house, this is where hubby and I get into an argument every year on how to make the gravy. One year my parents sent us to separate ends of the house for a minute. I wish I was kidding.

I make my gravy by making a roux out of flour & butter, he would rather make with cornstarch. Let's just say last year we went his way and it was all thrown out... I'm not bragging or anything...... :). But we also smoked the turkey so there were no drippings to add to the gravy for flavor. Maybe I should point that out?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Social Book - Project 365

Last year I started out on my Project 365 journey. I really felt like I set myself up for failure, but I didn't fail, I succeeded! Woot Woot. Do people really say Woot Woot.... ha!

Anyway one of my goals was if I completed my Project 365 I either wanted to print all pictures and place in a photo album or I wanted them printed in a book. I didn't care which but I didn't want them to go to die on facebook, my blog, and my computer.

When I completed my project, I went on the hunt to print my pictures. I had the hardest time trying to decide which program/company to use. Then I heard about Social Book.

I hooked them up to my Facebook page, to the exact folder I wanted and bam, my book was ordered! I could have chosen a time frame, etc, but I wanted just my Project 365 printed.

I made mention the other day we were fighting with our mail person... Well this kind of started it. My dogs eat packages. I've mentioned this as well... ugh!

So when my first book showed up in the mail, it was placed where my dogs could find it and bam, they ate it. Luckily it was insured or something because the wonderful people at Social Book were willing to replace my book and FINALLY it showed up!

I absolutely love it too! That is a year of memories and it is so much fun to hold the physical book and read through it. Plus you can print the comments you got via your Facebook friends. Pretty sweet I think!

They had a page devoted to the most liked photo and 2 pages devoted to the pictures that received the most likes. It is just so awesome!

Sometimes to keep yourself motivated, there has to be an end goal. My book was my end goal so I've decided that for this second round of my Project 365, I want another book :).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Firefox and I are Breaking Up

That blog post title says it all! I'm really starting to hate firefox. Someone at work years ago (I worked there from 2006-2013) switched me from Internet Explorer to Firefox because I was having so many issues with IE. Now... Firefox is constantly, I'm talking constantly freezing up on me. Ugh! I've had people trying to convince me to change to Chrome for a while now... I guess I finally gave in because Firefox is upsetting me so much.

Wow, am I really going to write an entire blogpost on how Firefox upsets me? No, don't worry. I could talk about how cold my feet are. I think winter is coming and I'm not real sure I'm ready for that. My knees show it worse than anything.... It can be 110 degrees outside and my knees will feel like they've been in the freezer. I can't explain it. My dad's knees are that way too.

I wrote out our shopping list/meal plan for Thanksgiving. I think Thanksgiving is the only time of the year I write a meal plan. Maybe Christmas... maybe not. That really depends on if I'm cooking or not. If you didn't know this about me, I love to cook.

Looking back through blogposts I ran across a list of jobs I need to accomplish in my life. I giggled. I usually just add to it. At one point or another it has included

  • Hair dresser
  • clothing designer
  • lawyer
  • doctor
  • Horse trainer
  • car repair person
And really that's just a few. Clothing designer, not because I'm such a fashionista type person
case in point:

It's more because I have long legs and jeans that are "tall" are never long enough and jeans that are "average" are high waters. I'm really not that tall... I just have long legs. If you sit next to me (even if you are shorter than me) there's a pretty good chance that you'll sit taller than I do, and not because I slouch all the time... even if I sit up straight and tall.

This is a very discombobulated post I realize, sorry! I've been working on homework. I got comps out of the way, although not really because I didn't pass so I have to retake, but now comes the crunch of the end of the semester. 10 page paper, 20 page paper, and a list of instructions.

The instructions sound easy enough, and they aren't difficult but...... I have them typed out, now I have to go back and add pictures and put it in Microsoft style manual type writing. Wish me luck!

It's hard to believe that we're one week away plus one day from Thanksgiving. I'm okay with that.... I like to eat good food. We've learned that about me though... but at the same time, that means the end of the semester is creeping up quickly which scares me!

So one last thought... there is a bag of styrofoam cups sitting in a bag on the floor beside me. Abug has been bringing them to me....

And that's life on this Wednesday morning/noon/afternoon.....

Monday, November 16, 2015

How to: Make a Travel Map

I absolutely LOVE to travel. And I even used to think I was a world traveler. I'm not although I have one stamp in my passport that expired 3 years ago. That's something right?

Anyway one of my goals is to travel to at least all 50 states. So far I've been to:

  • Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, 
That's 27 out of 50 for those of you who are counting. And yes I can count, even though I'm not a Math Major, I'm an English Major :).

So anyway I decided I wanted to get a map and display where my family and I had traveled. We pondered how many colored pins we'd need. Do we do a you, me, them or an us or a family? Do we count before marriage, after marriage, Tbug's travels with her mom? That's when we decided that all four of us would have our own color pin, we'd include travels before and after marriage and we'd include traveling Tbug had done with her other family. My pin is purple (go figure, right Liss). Tbug is blue. Hubby's is green. Abug is a rose pink color.

So if you're crazy like me... then this is what you need to make your map too.

  • Map. I went with a 50"x32". My husband thought I was nuts. Maybe I was!
  • What you're going to put the map on. I went with a 4'x3' bulletin board. It was a little taller than my map and not quite as long but I'll address that.
  • Headliner & Carpet Adhesive or other adhesive.
  • Pins to mark travel destinations.
  • Scissors
  • Heart to mark where home is (optional)

The white trim on the right and left side is all the longer the map was than the bulletin board so I just trimmed the edges and bam, it fit.

I also mentioned that the bulletin board is taller than the map. I laid the map out and drew a line so I knew how high to go up with my adhesive.

The adhesive I chose is actually for headliners in cars. It worked GREAT! you spray a couple layers, one way and then the other (left to right then up and down). 3 or 4 layers and allow them to dry for like 5 minutes a piece. Then you place the map down. No pictures of that because it took all hands on deck to try and not get wrinkles. I had a couple, but not many. That's not bad!

I got a little carried away with the adhesive so I just rubbed it off the metal frame with my finger.

And bam. The finished product. My wrinkles were down around Alaska, can you see them?

Then it's time to start placing pins on the map.

So then, it was time to have some additional help hanging this. Remember, it was 4 feet across... Hubby and I decided where it needed to be hung, then I held the map while he put the screws in.

And this is the final product. Now the top couple inches, I think I'm going to decorate, I just haven't figured out how yet. Any ideas?

I absolutely love to travel and hope that some day I have this map filled up with just my pins... and theirs too :).

While thinking about all the places I've had the privilege to travel to, I realized... out of all my friends... I'm kind of one of the only one who has only lived in one state. I guess living in multiple states doesn't mean you travel... but anyway at least I get to travel and I know where home is, right?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Under Dog

Why is it so hard as individuals to admit defeat? Have I been defeated? Well, the answer is technically no, not yet.

Growing up I've always had a fighting spirit. I always knew I could do better and I was always willing to strive for better. I didn't have to be the best at everything, I always wanted to outdo myself from the previous experience.

In 1998 I joined FFA. My mom thought I'd use horses as my FFA Project but I wanted a challenge. I had shown horses my whole life, I wanted to learn something new. That's when we decided as a family on sheep. That first year I knew absolutely NOTHING about sheep. And every time I showed, county fair, district fair and a couple local fairs, I was last. I didn't know how to properly groom and/or show a sheep to save my life.
County Fair 1998 - First show ever.
 I wanted a learning curve, boy did I ever get one. It was funny, I was bottom. I couldn't get any worse. The only direction I could go was up. A lot of people stood behind me and saw my determination. I had a start, stumble, and fall, more often than not... but in the end, my persistence led me to win Grand Champion Dorset Market Lamb, Grand Champion Dorset Ram, Grand Champion Dorset Ewe at my last Missouri State Fair as an FFA Member.
Missouri State Fair 2004
Were there times I felt defeated? You betcha. But I got there. When they awarded me all three of those awards, I cried. From that first year where I was last place in every class to actually being a champion, that was an accomplishment. Was it easy, NO! Did I get defeated? A lot. Did I wind up falling? Literally... hey, I had a ram step on my foot, trip me, I never let go of him, instead I drug the 200 lb ram (who weighed more than me I might add) down on top of me. My dad came to help me get up and I refused to let go of him. I had a huge foot print in the middle of my gut (white shirt, it was great) but I never let go. Or the time I had a ewe running full blast down the hallway of my parents barn at me. The only thing between her and the great outdoors was me. I leapt on her and we went rolling down the hallway only to come up with her in my arms. My mom was scared about what happened if she got past me because she was hell bent for election and she wasn't going to stop. Anyway... the falling down part isn't so much referring to my gracefulness... more so my determination...

And as I mentioned, I grew up showing horses. Did I start from the bottom... yup. I think my favorite story was... Around 2005 or 2006 I was showing in a class that if you were the first person to lose a cow showing, you won a pair of splint boots. When I show horses I refuse to listen to scores. It keeps me out of my head of I have to do better. I sing songs, I talk, I do whatever I have to to not hear scores. This day was different though. There were 32 horses in the class and I was dead last. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't ignore scores. The first horse lost a cow = pair of splint boots. Not me... I was last. I heard a score of a 70, 71, 72, 73, and a 74. I looked at my dad before I went in to the show ring and said, well I can't win splint boots, I guess I have to go out and win this sucker. Dad laughed at me and said, just go out and show your horse. I wound up going out and marking a 75 which meant I won the class and a really nice check. Yes, I won cash!

Is it always that way? Heck no. More times than not I've been at the bottom of the class but I always say, I plan on doing better than the last time I showed. I was always in competition with myself and others, but with myself.

Why am I babbling on and on and on? Friday I got news and I felt totally defeated. I hate the defeated feeling. I've spent quite a few months studying for Comps. I've talked about Comps. I've fretted about Comps. And now, I've failed Comps. Yes, I got news that I didn't pass comps.

And admitting that makes me feeling like a complete moron. So I guess if nothing else, this endless babble is to try and convince myself that I've been on the bottom before. I have no direction to go but up.

The difference between say 15 or even 23 year old me and now me is I've had a lot of people put me down and tell me I'm not good enough in my life. Used to I told them they were the idiot for not believing in me and then I'd go out to prove them wrong. And now, well, now they're in my head a little bit. I only have 2 more chances to pass comps. What happens if I don't? We don't know.

In the written rules, you're basically screwed. If you don't pass, you're kicked out of the program. Now they've never had anyone get kicked out, but that's not because everyone has passed. They had people fail twice and then not take the third round for fear of defeat. At that point... either way if you don't take the test or you fail the 3rd time you don't graduate so why not take the chances and try that 3rd round? I don't know.

I guess I just need that kick in the pants pep talk to tell me I'm not an idiot and I'll get it. I got props on my knowledge of the work, they just thought my answers needed to be a little more tight and cleaned up a bit. I have no clue what that means, so I guess now I get to find out before the end of March. Yup, that's when I get to take these again. Oh and I get to take my second round 4 days after retaking the first round. Oy vey! Wish me luck.

Between now and then I might kick my own butt... wish me luck on that too.

Friday, November 13, 2015

You're still missed

A lot has happened in this world in the last 5 years. Tonight the world has become in turmoil again because of more terrorist attacks. But this day in history has a bit of a different meaning to me and my family. You see, 5 years ago today we lost my grandpa.

This is the song that we played at his funeral. This is the song that we all said was my grandpa. He loved nothing more than family and was there no matter who in the family needed him or how they needed him.

I miss him! In fact, that's an understatement.

That year is the year I shared his and my grandma's story, the next day I shared a little more to the back story, and then I got the phone call that an ambulance had been called to my grandparents house to pick my grandpa up. He died the next morning somewhere around 2-4am. I'm not exactly sure the time. And as an honor and a tribute to my grandpa, he was cremated. We asked for a handful of his ashes and we placed them on the back of Chico, his horse so that he could ride for eternity!

I miss you grandpa!


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