Another Exciting Week

Survivor 11/28

  • Food auction. Yeah! 
    • Alright, Denise...she wasn't wasting anytime to buy food.
    • Skupin is a weirdo.  He must have really wanted that cheese.  I bet his stomach is not going to like that.
    • Penner got a total jackpot!  Funny that he still had to spend $100 for fried chicken and fries
    • They better make Carter a big bowl of rice and beans when they get back to camp.
  • Abi's getting cut throat!  I only wish Probst would have called her lie.  Can I say this just once more?  I AM SO SICK OF ABI!  Okay, done, moving on.
  • "I'm so not good at this game."  Lisa, please get over yourself.  I would have a hard time lying in general, but it can't be that hard on Survivor.  It's expected for goodness sake!  She is hopeless, giving the info to Penner, but not actually telling him he had help from her. 
  • Smart for Penner to pick Denise to vote for.  As much as I love her (Denise), she has had an uphill battle every week.  It's actually Hilarious that Lisa is forcing Skupin to be the bad guy!  What's going to happen?!?
  • "Help me help you."  Well, that is practically what Penner said, and I completely agree with his logic.  There is no way the very bitter jury members (at least up to this point) will vote for Penner or Skupin to win.  With that said, Skupin should have saved Penner to give himself a minute shot at winning. 
  • I am surprised that Penner went home, and totally prepared to be very sad at Denise being voted out.  She is one lucky lady!

Who thinks Abi will get caught in her lie?  Might just be in my dreams...

Kitties at ~ 1 Year. 

Pumpkin Roll.

Pretty Pi.

Awwww...Now, if only they acted as angelic as they look here. ;)


Happy Pumpkin

This cat probably ate more Turkey on our day of Thanksgiving than I did.
He probably would have kept going if the plate didn't run out.
Digesting under the Christmas tree.
Tough life he leads...
We were expecting to find turkey barf that evening or the next morning, but he kept it all in! Edited:  Bret found some this morning, 4 days later...not sure if that still counts.

Amazing Race 11/25

  • Good episode overall. I like that the teams are splitting off more and are not always on the same flight. 
  • The Double U-Turn strategy by the Twins and Texans was awesome!  It obviously paid off, and I couldn't be happier.  It is nice to see smart racers every now and then.
  • Abby made me feel a little bad for her out there dancing and organning in the rain, but Ryan squashed that sympathy pretty quick.
  • After the first leg, I said it's a game and you always have to do what you can to win.  At that time, it was Abby and Ryan doing the winning when they passed the double amputee, and now the tides have turned.  Boo Hoo, no $2 Million for you two...
  • Lastly, who in their right mind would want to race with another team when you know you are at the back of the pack?  Two episodes in a row for that matter!?!  Thankfully, the Doctor Beekman was able to talk some sense into his buddy.  Phil even tempted him with an option to lose!


One Day Late

This Thanksgiving was a little messed up in our home this year.  Bret worked nights all week including Thursday night and our guest didn't arrive until Friday afternoon.  Nevertheless, we celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday!

The turkey!

The food and drink!

As I mentioned before, this was my first time cooking a whole turkey and a lot of fixings.  My plan worked out just perfect though.  With trying all new recipes (except for pie), there were a lot of opportunities for mistake.  Having an extra day for planning and mental preparation seriously helped.

The pumpkin pie was made the day before.  The turkey was in brine all night.  The morning of eating day I prepped the turkey aromatics popped it all in the oven.  Prep of minor ingredients happened that morning too.  At 1:30 when Bret left for the airport I showered and then started the massive cooking spree.

Roasted Brussels sprouts - 40 min, turning at 20 and toasting the walnut garnish at 7 min left.

Blurry.  With Cranberries and Orange.  Still not my favorite veggie,
but I could start  making it more often.

Stuffing - saute onion, carrot and butter before mixing and baking 30 min (same oven at the sprouts).

I love stuffing!
Not sure why I never really ate it much before last year, but it is sooo tasty!

Potatoes - Boiled and prepped mix-ins (pre-roasted garlic, cream cheese, butter and half & half).  These were awesome!  And so easy to make.  I really should make mashed potatoes more often.


Gravy - from drippings.  This was messy without a fat separator.  It was also really really salty from the brined drippings.  Tasty though!

Cranberry sauce - canned with a little orange zest.

Not needed - Corn, spiced cider or extra bret bread.

The turkey was done way early.  Which is much better than late, but it did dry out a little.  I think the brine saved it, but it also made the meat pretty salty, almost too salty!  I might adjust the brine a little next time.

During the cooking storm I discovered that our oven has a temperature probe built in!  That would have been extremely useful information one day earlier... Well, there is always next year, or the next turkey.

Overall, this was a great opportunity to try new recipes and test out my planning and cooking skills.  I am quite pleased actually with the turnout.  All of the food was still hot (or at least warm) when it hit the table.

Over eating and wine or whiskey drinking ensued the rest of the evening.

I love holidays, food and family even if I can't be with everyone.  

Now, bring on the Christmas music and decorations!!!


Amy's Thanksgiving + Survivor

Nontraditional Turkey Day

  • Up at 7am.  With two hours to get cooking and house work done before Bret gets home from work to eat and sleep all day.  BTW...12 hour night shifts are not cool.
  • So, in those two hours I did some laundry while baking the Pumpkin Pie,  homemade crust and all. 
  • The middle of day included a long run, a big pile of noodles and a few episodes of Chopped!  (on hulu).  I love that show and just discovered how awesome it is during my work trip this October.
  • Nap with Bret after attempting to get him up. 
  • Paddle boat ride.
  • Dinner of a rice mix and Pizzazzed Pizza Rolls.  Yeah...really classy :)
  • Sent Bret back to work.
  • Finished out the night with more laundry, cleaning and Chopped.  And wine.

Pumpkin Pie

Crust:  flour, shortening, salt and a few table spoons of cool water.

I have had Mom's recipe for 6 years, and finally this year I bought one of these puppies.

So much better with the right tools!

Before adding the water.

Ready to roll.

Nobody's perfect.  It's all about the taste anyway :)

Filling dry ingredients:  Sugar, spice, salt.  I just used the recipe on Libby's  can.

Filling wet ingredients:  egg, evaporated milk and PUMPKIN.


Ready for baking.

The extra crust also prepped for baking.
I finally had a reason to use the engagement ring cookie cutter!
PS.  I love (good) pie crust.  

Ta Da!  Very good and pretty easy to make.  The homemade crust totally makes the pie.


So, I totally thought Survivor was a recap show this week!  I didn't even think about watching it.  Serves me right!  Must have been to focused on the pending cooking day to think about the show.  Without further ado, here is what I thought about this week's episode...

  • Nice Abi, throwing the forgiveness card at Lisa.  
  • Survivor has been spoiling me with very creative challenges these weeks!  I like it.  
  • Young v. Old.  It should have been a blowout if not for Abi and Malcolm's mistakes.   Abi keeps proving how stupid and, more importantly, careless she is.  Skupin for the lose!
  • As much as I hate Abi, she is reality TV gold.  "all the social grace of a Mack truck"  Thanks for that tidbit Malcolm.  
  • Interesting things going down here... Malcolm rushing and Penner relaxing.  Final Four!?
  • Supercharged immunity challenge.  The combination of the rope challenge in water was very cool.  It actually looked challenging too!  The final three must be so tired.  Who is Carter?  Just kidding, but it was nice to see him step up.
  • OMG!  Skupin please don't screw Malcolm!!! :(  At least Malcolm is aware of the threat.
  • Pauuleeaase!  As the words of Michelle from Full House, at Abi pawning off her terrible actions on cultural differences...Am I supposed to feel bad for her now?  Sorry, not going to happen.
  • Whew!  Thank you thank you thank you Skupin!  I think Malcolm saved himself by getting that FF deal in early.  Penner obviously helped with his non-committal actions. 



Clean Cats

First...What!?!  Why can't we just be happy Midwesterners fighting each other.  I just find no good reason to be intermingling with Coasties like Rutgers or Maryland.  In case you haven't heard, those two schools just joined the BIG 10.  This meme sums it up perfectly...tis' the season!

Bath Time

I hope you saw the post yesterday with Pumpkin stretching out.  He looked so cute and comfy, it needed to be shared.  I was really tempted to put the caption as "Have a good day!  I know I will!" meaning that Pumpkin was having a good day.  But, I knew that would not be the case. 

Yesterday was bath day.

The kitties have been a little stinky lately and it was just time for another bath.  Their last one was in April at the old apartment, so it was time again.  Pi went first, very unsuspecting.  I feel so bad when she stares up from the water with huge sad eyes, all scrawny looking (with her hair matted down from the water), but it just had to happen.  After de-turding her, I wrapped her up tight in one towel to start the drying process.  Then she got wrapped in a second dry towel to finish up. 

For Pumpkin and Pi's first couple baths I used a hair dryer for extra drying, but I am pretty sure they hated the sound and probably the dry air too.  So, I scrapped that and let them dry themselves most of the way. 

This picture was taken in April after the last bath.
Not impressed and on their juggle gym as far away from me as possible.

Pumpkin went in second and knew he what he was in for.  His claws started digging into Bret's shoulder and he tensed up as Bret stepped into the tub.  I think Pumpkin took the washing a little personal.  He stayed away from me most of the night and sat hidden in an end table basket for a long time. 

Pi came out to play and snuggle a little more, but it still took time.  Don't worry though, both seemed much happier this morning.  They smelled a whole lot better too!  Now, they are clean for the holidays and all our visitors :)

Back to your happy place.  It was all just a bad dream.

Safe travels to everyone driving or flying to see loved ones! 


Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Plan of Action

The weekend was sooo nice!  Bret and I finally had a weekend all to ourselves.  No working.  No major house project.  Just us. 

Date night included Sushi and the movie Lincoln.  Both very good.  Often I like a date night at home just fine, but it was nice to be able to head out and try some new places.

Saturday Morning Breakfast:
Pumpkin French Toast with Sauteed Cinnamon Apples. 
With a cameo by the real Pumpkin.



Thanksgiving Plan

 - It is thawing in the fridge
 - A foil pan and bag was purchased from the grocery store.  Pan problem solved for only  $2.79!
 - Alton Brown's brine, roast and gravy recipes.  It has great reviews on FoodNetwork.com.

Mashed Potatoes:  Probably some kind of roasted garlic version with skins.  I never, and I mean NEVER, make mashed potatoes for us at home.  I just never have the right potatoes on hand, and then when I do, I forget about them and they go bad.  This Thanksgiving though, we will give them a go.  

Stuffing:  Bret found a good recipe from coworkers last year, so I will probably do something similar.  

Brussel Sprouts?  Or maybe Green Beans?  Still trying to make this decision.  Brussel sprouts both scare and intreg me.  Daily Garnish had a pretty simple recipe I might try where they are roasted with cranberries and walnuts.
Corn:  Nothing fancy here, just need another vegetable.

Pumpkin Pie:  Again, nothing fancy, just good ol' pie.

Bread of some kind...Homemade if I'm feeling into it, otherwise and nice baguette or crusty bread will work.  I'm not a bread roll person.

Spiced Apple Cider:  Yum!  

The only thing missing is Lefsa :(  I will just have to wait for Christmas for my fix.


Amazing Race 11/18

Wow…second chance and second chance and second chance

Nice, another brainy challenge for the Roadblock.  Wow, it only took 11 or 12 rounds to figure out the challenge for two people working together.  Poor Ryan, the super competitor and smarty pants can’t get it (18 rounds in…21…) “Try to relax, I’m on your side” says the Professor.   Even He is trying to calm Ryan down.  I loved his giggling at the frustrated Ryan J  It’s not like we don’t have the same thing here in the states with -6 hours for GMT, geez!  Will the Boy’s figure it out right away?  Yeesss!!!  Just took a MD to get it right the first time.

The Chippendale's are really nice.  Too nice almost for the race, but I am sure the Texan’s were okay with that.
Good Detour!   I am questioning the difficulty of the dancing challenge though…I wish at least one team would have tried the historical people challenge. I am sooo happy the Boys did that challenge “Lively for a dead crowd”  Hahahaha!!   I always like seeing traditional dress and style.

Haha!! Split pants…sometimes you just need to keep going.  Though, the twins were not in any danger of elimination.

I have nothing to say about The Rockers.  They were never really that interesting and there is never an excuse to not have your passport (unless you are swimming...then, only maybe).  The producers kinda skimmed over them this week anyway.

It will be interesting to see what the time difference is from The Chippendale's to the Beekman Boys.  I hope there is an equalizer because the Boys are now one of my favorite teams.  Didn't see that coming!

Have a good day!

Good Luck Tomorrow Mom!!!


First Homemade Veggie Burgers

I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week already.  It just doesn't feel like it should.  Luckily, there have been some other Thanksgiving indicators that have kept me in line:

  1. Work provided a free 20ish # frozen turkey.  I need to find a good way to make this baby,  it's my first whole turkey.  Last year was my first Turkey Day away from the family, but we just baked turkey legs for the two of us.  Hmmm...I wonder if I even have a pan that big!?  Must look into that soon.
  2. Turkey Trot.  The gym at the office held a run/walk during lunch on Thursday for a raffle.  Every lap a person did they would get 1 ticket.  I ran almost 5 miles with 7 laps at 0.7 miles each!  The weather was absolutely perfect for a long run, and I really need to start taking more advantage of my one hour lunch break in the gym or running.  It's almost to hard to run otherwise because it gets dark just after I get home (and will only get worse for the next month).
  3. Blogs like Oh My Veggies that has been providing Thanksgiving recipes all week!  I'm not sure what to make yet, but I need something besides turkey.

Okay, back to the burgers.  A few weekends ago, I tried a very new type of recipe (to me at least).  Homemade Veggie Burgers.  There are a ton of varieties and recipes out there.  This one from Oh She Glows seemed like a good starting place.  There was no pre-cooking involved, just a lot of food processing. 


All ready for mixing!


Lined up, ready for baking.

Close up.

I tried one on the skillet first to be sure they would stick together and tasted fine.

The recipe also made an extra 3 medium sized patties and two or three more balls not shown. 

My overall thoughts at the time of making these:  very tasty, but kinda time consuming.  I really like the idea of having non-soy veggie burgers some of the time.  They were very tasty even cold; almost like savory breakfast cookies!  I will keep this recipe and probably try others to find one that works best.  The second time I try a recipe usually goes better/easier.

Have a great weekend!!!


Exceeding Expectations


Survivor has yet again displayed their absolute awesomeness.  Last night's episode was great for a variety of reason.  Here are my thoughts...

  • Therapy session!  It’s game, but Penner's gaming may actually help Lisa in real life (and the game).
  • Mud pit challenges are almost always good. I’m sure survivors hate it too!  They are already soo dirty, they really do not need to fill remaining crevices with mud....and rice!  It's nice to see that Survivor took some notes from a great BB challenge (honey and feathers).  That was a really nice reward. Helping people and experiencing their world.  Best of both. 
  • HaHa!!!! Abi get’s her reward for not participating ever…no chance. 
  • Awwee!  Malcolm is such a sweetheart.  He should definitely go back to teaching.
  • I love that Abi has continued to be a ginormous jacka#$.  That is all.  Even Artis is commenting on it!
  • Very very cool and different Immunity challenge.  I like that it is really anyones' game.  Slow and steady is all it takes.  So, Skupin doesn’t suck at everything… It’s almost like they set us up Mike ;)
  • Well played Abi.  A little passive aggressiveness whacking Skupin in the head!!!  Ohhh, Abi…now you are paying attention to Lisa!?!  Abi couldn’t spot grace if it pooed all over her face. 
  • Comm'on, just vote already!  I need to know what happens!!! 
  • Loved that face Artis made when his first vote was read. 
  • Who did it?! I was sure Lisa and Skupin would vote together, and therefore, it would have been Penner leaving (after I saw that he had 4 votes).  Looks from the votes and previews that Skupin was the flipper.  Good for him. 
  • Yet again, an awesome episode.

Last night I also made my third good soup attempt.  More to come on that later!



We have bananas!!!  All of a sudden our green bananas started turning yellow, and then brown!  I got a little carried away and thought they would all be ready to eat or freeze.  Not quite.  So now, most of them are waiting out their ripeness on the counter.

Bunch on November 4th

Same Bunch on November 11th


Should have brought a basket.

Still waiting on these bad boys!


Mushroom Quinoa Soup

I have been on a soup kick lately.  With the butternut squash soup a success, I tackled this next recipe from Oh She Glows.  My changes were:
  1. Chicken stock for veg.
  2. Quinoa for millet because I had no idea where to find millet at my HEB.  I think that means it's time to hit up Whole Food or Trader Joes, no?
  3. 1/2 cremini mushrooms and 1/2 presliced button mushrooms.  To save time and $. 
I was originally going to say "my only change was the millet," but then I started remembering everything else! 

Chopping the vegetables was the hardest (most time-consuming) part.

Lots of tears were had from stinging eyes...

Slowly cooked it all down until there was almost no water left from the veggies.  Then added the stock to simmer.

Only source of extra seasoning.  So easy and tasty!  I purchased the Worcestershire sauce specifically for this recipe.  I don't really know what else to use it in except Chex Mix.  Time to host a party, maybe?

As instructed, I separated the soup and blended 1/2 to thicken the broth.  No action shot of the immersion blender this time...

This made a lot of soup, but it was really good and different from our normal routine.  I will be saving this recipe, but I keep wanting to try more and more new recipes, and don't know when I will get back to it again. 

Soup Challenge

I just had a great idea!  I am going to give myself a mini challenge to make one homemade soup a week this Fall/Winter.  Let's say we can average it out because I know there will be busy weeks.  Who's with me?

November Week 1:  Butternut Squash
November Week 2:  Mushroom Quinoa
To Be Continued?

Amazing Race 11/11

  • Such a tease!  I wasn't paying attention to the time and had no idea they were going to do the whole "To Be Continued" thing...
  • Finally! Three excellent challenges. I probably would have picked the library one and just written down the alphabet to keep track of letters and order.  As the national library, it should be in good order, if nothing else.  Luckily for the viewers, most of the teams chose the synchronized swimming.  They all did surprising well too!  I like swimming and can do a flip or two, but I'm not sure about keeping time with it all. 
  • Why did they just ruin 1/3 of the suspense for next week?  We see Ryan "struggling" on a challenge, so Abby & Ryan obviously are not eliminated.
  • Speaking of Abby & Ryan.  Why on earth did they think it was a good idea to run the leg with the Beekman Boys?  They are way faster and seemingly more decisive than the Boys.  I suppose they just assumed they could out run them in the end, but still.  Seemed like an odd decision.



These are actually the Halloween/Fall decorations new to our home this year.  This post should have been done at the beginning of October when they were all actually purchased, but now here we are.  Halloween had come and gone before I knew what was going on and nothing had been shared.  Bad Amy!

Blurry  coffee table.

Inside the "Halloween Book."

Colorful leaves!!! Pumpkins and one large rubbery rat.

The Purrrrfect Pumpkin!

The first of many witches.

I prefer more natural looking decorations.


Pumpkin and Pi! :)

Hopefully Christmas decorations will be up just after Thanksgiving.  Hold me to it, please!  I obviously need help... :)

When do you take down Halloween decorations and set up for Christmas?