Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello, hello!  Can you believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving?  Where’d the time go?  Next thing you know, it’ll be Christmas, then a new year.  Time really needs to slow down.  Anyway, since my favorite holiday is just a day away, I thought I would take this opportunity to share five things I’m grateful for this year!

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1. Dad.  I know I don’t say it out loud to him, but I really am thankful to have someone like him in my life.  He has always shown me that just because life doesn’t go the way you expect doesn’t mean that you have to be miserable about it.  You don’t have to let toxic people bring you down.  Sometimes, you need to make changes if you want things to go a certain way.  It’s okay to be blah occasionally, but mostly you need to try to find the happy in things.  But most importantly, he taught me to look in the mirror and take responsibility for my actions, which I try to do.  He also gave me my twisted sense of humor and enables my darkness, so you can blame him for all of that (okay, sometimes I deny all responsibility and blame him, but that’s what dads are for).

2. The people who take the time to check up on me.  You know who you are.  I have been an increasingly crappy friend, especially lately.  I don’t text or message people as much as I should, if at all.  I know that and I’m struggling to break free from the contentedness I find in being a recluse.  But I really do appreciate the messages asking how I am and giving me updates on your lives.  I do stalk most of you on social media, though, which makes me the creepy crappy friend.

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Amateur mistake.  Lurk, don’t like.

3. Seeing my words in print and getting paid for them.  I was starting to think it wouldn’t happen, so I’m thankful to E.R. Bills and Hellbound Books for choosing me to be in their awesome collection alongside other talented Texas writers.  An occasional acceptance really does help to overcome the feels that a long list of rejections brings up.

4. Peppermint chocolates.  After waiting for all things pumpkin spice to start winding down for the year, I get the reward of all things peppermint for a month and a half!  Just had my first Ghirardelli peppermint bark square of the year.  It made me weirdly happy.  It always does.  Judge me all you want, but at least I have goodies to comfort me.

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I might have just gotten lost down the boozy peppermint coffee rabbit hole of Google for a minute there.

5. A dad who’s good with tools.  I didn’t intend to add him twice, but my armrest on my new wheelchair decided to come loose a little while ago and he got everything put securely back together.  If it breaks, he can usually fix it.  That’s something to always be grateful for!

What about you?  What are you thankful for this year?  Feel free to share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

It’s Beginning To Smell Like Thanksgiving

Hello, hello!  So, my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is this week!  It’s currently Monday and the house smells like cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.  And the aromas will just keep getting better as the week goes on.  So, in celebration of the season, I thought I would share a couple of recipes with you!  Namely, the cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole Dad makes.  I know it’s a little late given that Thanksgiving will be tomorrow by the time this posts, but you can always try them next year or for Christmas.

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Picture stolen from Pinterest.

First up is Cranberry Orange Relish with Bourbon.  It’s a recipe Dad found in the Dallas Morning News a couple of years ago.  He decided to try this one since the chutney recipe he used before had apples, which I’m mildly allergic to, so I couldn’t eat much of it.  He’s tweaked it a little since then by adding walnuts, but here’s the recipe!

CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH WITH BOURBON

Ingredients:
1 cup bourbon (Dad uses Jack Daniels)

1 orange, zested and supremed (see chef’s note)
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed or from concentrate

Directions:
In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine bourbon and orange zest.  Bring to a boil and simmer, until reduced to a syrup, about 10 minutes.

Add cranberries, orange segments, sugar, and orange juice.  Stir until sugar is dissolved and cranberries pop.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Cover and refrigerate. Makes 8 servings.

Chef’s note:
To supreme orange: Using a sharp knife, cut remaining skin and pith off of the zested orange.  Working over a clean mixing bowl and using a sharp knife, cut out each segment of orange between the membranes.

PER SERVING:
Calories 1,620 (None from fat)
Trace fat (No sat)
No cholesterol
No sodium
Fiber 4 g.
Carbohydrates 276 g.
Protein 3 g.
Sugar 239 g.

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Picture stolen from Google.

Another recent addition to our Thanksgiving line up is Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel Topping.  Dad found this one last year in the Dallas Morning News.  It’s fairly similar to the recipe he had been using, but it has an orange-y flavor that makes it better.  Even I like it, and I’m not a big sweet potato fan.  I know he’s tweaked it, but this is the recipe!

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE WITH PECAN STREUSEL TOPPING

Ingredients:
5 pounds sweet potatoes, roasted until soft (instructions follow; or substitute two 40-ounce cans sweet potatoes, drained)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Grated zest from half an orange
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 F.  Butter the inside of a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Scrape flesh from sweet potato into a mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor (work in batches if using a processor).  Mash or puree until smooth.  Add eggs and combine thoroughly.

Add granulated sugar, cream, allspice, and orange zest and mix thoroughly into mashed sweet potatoes.  Transfer sweet potato mixture to prepared pan.

To make the pecan streusel topping:
In the bowl of a food processor, place butter, brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, pecans, and vanilla and pulse until mixture is crumbly and looks like small pebbles.

Sprinkle sweet potatoes evenly with streusel topping — it should completely cover sweet potatoes.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Makes 15 servings.

To roast sweet potatoes:
Heat oven to 450 F.  Place whole sweet potatoes on the oven rack and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender.

SOURCE:
Adapted from Justin and Diane Fourton, Pecan Lodge

PER SERVING:
Calories 525
Fat 24 g. (11 g. sat)
Cholesterol 92 mg.
Sodium 271 mg.
Fiber 6 g.
Carbohydrates 73 g.
Protein 7 g.

Thanksgiving-2017

What are some recipes you or your loved ones make for the holiday?  Do you tend to stick to the same menu or try to mix it up each year?  Feel free to share here or on my social media pages.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sweet Tooth: A Top Five List

Hello, hello!  It’s Thanksgiving week!  My favorite holiday ever, as if you didn’t know.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thursday and gets to spend time with their loved ones and eats tons of goodies.  Also, instead of shopping Thursday night and Friday, I encourage you to stay at home and binge-watch Netflix (Gilmore Girls!) or play games or something fun.  Anyway, in keeping with last week’s light and fun food related post, I thought I would devote this one to desserts.  This has nothing to do with Thanksgiving per se, it’s just my top five favorite desserts, along with an honorable mention.

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That looks delicious.

1. Creme brulee.  If there’s creme brulee on the menu, you can pretty much guess what I’m getting.  There’s just something about the creamy goodness underneath the crackly crunchy coating that speaks to my soul.  It would take something super weird that I’ve never had before (because I like trying new things even more than I like creme brulee) to beckon me away from this particular dish of delish.

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I’m making myself hungry.

2. Tiramisu.  Ladyfingers and chocolate and coffee and creamy marscapone custard deliciousness and (depending on the recipe) booze.  What’s not to love?  The real question, though, is whether I like tiramisu because I like boozy coffee or if it’s the other way around.  I guess we’ll never know.

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I may or may not have just drooled on myself.

3. Flan.  In the process of making this list, I have just realized that I have a weird attraction to custardy desserts.  I have no idea where it came from.  I’m not complaining, nor am I apologizing.  Flan is special, though.  It combines my love of creaminess with my love of caramel sauce, so it gets bonus points for that.

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Blueberry crumble pie?  Don’t mind if I do.

4. Pie.  I admit it.  I like pie more than cake.  The problem is, I can’t pick just one kind.  Blueberry crumble, key lime, peanut butter, chocolate creme, pecan.  The list goes on and on.  There are a few exceptions, like coconut, pumpkin (yeah, I said it), sweet potato, or anything banana, but otherwise, as long as I’m not allergic to it, I will probably like it in a pie.

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It looks so good.

5. Red velvet cake.  If we’re talking regular old cake, I lean more toward red velvet.  Maybe it’s the color, maybe it’s the cream cheese frosting, it’s just so delicious.  I could totally go for a piece right now.

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I couldn’t not include it.

 Honorable Mention.  Cheesecake.  There’s just no way to make a list of favorite desserts without at least thinking of cheesecake.  I’d never turn a slice down even though I may prefer other things.

What about you?  What’re your favorite desserts?  Is there a particular dessert you’re looking forward to on Thanksgiving?  Feel free to share your lists or thoughts here or on my social media pages.  Thank you for reading!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

See you next week for my 100th post.

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Hello, hello!  Since my favorite holiday is right around the corner, I thought I’d share our usual Thanksgiving menu with you.  Dad makes a feast and it’s only fair that I share all of the mouthwatering morsels.  Plus, we need to start making a shopping list and this will help us remember what to add.  Who said a blog couldn’t act as a handy-dandy reminder?  So, in no particular order of deliciousness, our Thanksgiving spread includes:

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1. Turkey, of course.  Dad’s kind of a traditionalist when it comes to the bird.  It’s stuffed and roasted.  When I was a kid and we had 30+ people over, I vaguely remember the occasional backup ham, but we always have the turkey.

2. Stuffing.  I know we’re in Texas and that cornbread stuffing is like the law here, but that’s not what Dad makes.  He does an Italian stuffing with sausage and other things.  I fully admit that it’s my favorite part of the meal.

3. Mashed potatoes.  This has morphed a little over the years from a traditional dish to something more flavorful.  There’s usually garlic and other things involved.  It’s another favorite.

4. Mashed sweet potatoes.  Originally, we had the whole candied yams dish with the marshmallows and all that, but Dad found a recipe a while back for a mashed version with nuts and brown sugar.  I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes, but the mashed version seems to go over well with other people.

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And then you murder them and eat their insides.

 5. Green bean casserole.  Every year, Dad tweaks something or adds something new.  Last year, he went from the old recipe pretty much everyone does to a fresh version we saw on Good Eats.  It was tasty and pretty easy to make.

6. Corn pudding.  This is actually a fairly recent addition (within the last five years).  It replaced the canned corn that we always forgot to put out.  As far as I know, Dad still tweaks this one.

7. Spinach casserole.  We’ve had this one for as long as I can remember, but I only started eating it within the last ten years.  It never seems to change.

8. Stuffed mushrooms.  These are one of our usual appetizers.  Italian sausage stuffing and lots of cheese.  Everyone loves them.

9. Deviled eggs.  The other usual appetizer.  And I just feel the need to point out that Dad always remembers that I’m not big on the paprika sprinkled on top, so he makes half without it.  I’m very loved.

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Looks right to me.

 10. Cranberry chutney.  This seems to change every year.  Last year, Dad found a recipe without apples, so I could eat it.  This is served alongside the jellied cranberry sauce, because why not?

I feel like I’m probably missing something, but I can’t think of anything.  Dessert is left up to our guests.  What does your Thanksgiving feast include?  Are you the chef or a guest?  Do you have any traditions you’d like to share?  Feel free to share it all in a comment on here or on any of my social media pages!

A Month of Giving Thanks (Part Four)

Hello hello!  Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers who celebrate!  The month of thanks is drawing to a close, which means I will have no idea what to post about again starting next week.  Ah well.  I’ll worry about that then.  For now, let’s get back into a thankful mood.  As always, feel free to join in!  Here are my last five choices for this year:

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This.  So much this.

1. Books!  I feel like any good writer would have mentioned this weeks ago, but whatever.  Books are awesome covered in awesome sauce.  Not only do they teach us things, the really good ones do so without us even realizing it until it’s too late.  And they provide us with escapes to other realities.  We get to experience a lot of things we would never otherwise experience.  Not only that, but we get to see life through the perspective of someone else.  So yeah, books are great.

2. Pets.  I mentioned stuffed animals, but never real ones.  Shame on me!  I actually adore most animals (until we start talking bugs anyway), but this section is reserved for furbabies and the like.  Some people I know are hesitant about getting a pet because of the pain of losing them, but I’m not one of them.  Yeah, it hurts when they die (they’re family, so of course it does), but there’s nothing like the unconditional love of an animal.

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Chewy (unknown-…), Dame Julia (2001-2014), Toto (unknown-2011)

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Speedy (1993-2010)

 3. A dad who can cook.  He spoils me with smoked meats (including homemade pastrami), pasta, breakfast, and basically everything he makes.  I see all these Thanksgiving specials where the women are in the kitchen, but it was always Dad who did most of the holiday cooking.  Mom cooked most of the rest of the time when she was alive, so Dad’s cooking was always a treat.  Now, he wonders why I’d rather he make something instead of going out.  Because you make it better, that’s why.  And yes, the rest of you should be jealous.

4. Anime and manga.  On top of providing all of the goodness of books, these also have pictures.  If you’ve read through earlier posts, you know that many of my favorite heroes and heroines come from anime and manga.  Like many, it was also my gateway into Japanese culture, so you can blame it for a lot of my weirdness.  My writing has also been majorly influenced by the stuff.  I mean, one wouldn’t expect too much of a difference in character archetypes and plot development and the like, but there’s actually SO much to learn from anime and manga as a writer.  It’s mind blowing.  Really.

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From Neon Genesis Evangelion (aka my first experience with a series where I despised the main character but loved the story and the other characters, which wasn’t an abnormal reaction at all).

 5. Deadlines.  I know the good majority of creative types are supposed to hate the pressure of a due date, but not me.  I’d never get anything done without some kind of time constraint.  Whether it’s my self-imposed word count or someone else telling me I need to get something done, deadlines and goals are my friend.  It’s okay to admit it.

I think that’s it.  Time to prepare to eat myself into a food coma, then eat some more!  Have a safe and wonderful holiday!  See you next time.

A Month of Giving Thanks (Part Two)

Hello again!  It’s already been a week since my last post?  I suppose time flies when you’re having fun.  Or maybe it’s just because I’m getting older.  I swear I don’t remember the days going by so fast when I was a kid.  Anyway, enough rambling.  A new week means another chance to share more things I’m grateful for!  As I said last time, feel free to join me.

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“A Break in Reality” by Xetobyte

1. The Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing.  If you’ve perused previous posts, you’ve probably noticed my affection for this program.  I mean, come on.  It’s the first academic setting where I actually felt like I belonged instead of it simply being a stepping stone to my next life goal.  Of course I’m thankful for it and all of the people associated with it.  I highly suggest applying if you’re a writer.

2. Pretty Asian males.  If you know me at all, you knew this was coming sooner or later!  I’m entirely comfortable admitting that I like eye candy, preferably Japanese and in a dress (but not always in one).  If you don’t like it, that’s fine.  Most of the males I stalk are musicians, so they are also ear candy.  A couple of samples:

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Hizaki (Jupiter) and Kaya (Femme Fatale)!

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Hiro (Nocturnal Bloodlust) and Sono (Matenrou Opera)!

3. Music in general.  If there’s one thing in life that has kept me (relatively) sane, it’s music.  Yeah, as a kid, I went with the flow (aka listened to the things my friends were listening to), but I eventually came into my own.  I still remember flipping through radio stations once when I was bored and coming across Zip-Lock by Lit.  That was the beginning of my punk days.  The first time I broke away from what everyone else in my world was listening to.  It was so freeing.  My tastes have fluctuated a lot since then, so I now listen to an eclectic selection.  It keeps me going, so who cares what everyone else is doing?

4. Technology.  Without it, I’d not only be confined to one spot all the time, I’d also probably be dead.  When you require help for something as simple as breathing, you learn to appreciate the machines that help you out.  Wheelchairs, ventilators, patient lifts, and all of that delightful stuff is what I’m talking about.  Sure, TVs and cars and radios and all that are fan-freaking-tastic, but right now I mean all of the stuff that helps to make life more or less normal for folks like me.

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We’ve come a long way.

5. Stuffed animals.  I know it’s weird for a nearly 30-year-old to admit her love of plushies, but I adore them.  They’re soft and cuddly and cute.  Their beady eyes are next-level creepy, like they’re staring into your soul and getting ready to eat it.  You should know by now that I’m strange.  Don’t act so surprised.  But yes, stuffed animals rock!

I think that’s all for today.  See you next week!

A Month of Giving Thanks (Part One)

Hi there!  So, it’s November!  That means we’re coming up on my favorite holiday (and no, I don’t mean Christmas).  Yup, it’s almost time for Thanksgiving!  Because of this, while everyone else is getting all excited about Santa and elves on shelves and all of that wonderful stuff, I have decided to dedicate my posts this month to what this part of the season is really about: giving thanks.  Each week, I will list five things I’m thankful for.  Feel free to join in!

November

What am I thankful for?

1. Family, of course.  This includes Dads and Minions and the like.  I was raised in a way that let me realize early on that family isn’t about blood and biology, it’s about the people who love you for who you are regardless of what you can do for them.  They are the people who stick around (whether they live close by or just keep in touch) and let you know they think of you.  So, for my family who’s reading this, I appreciate everything you do.  I love you.  And that’s enough sap for a long, long time.  Never speak of this again.

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Dad!

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Minion!

2.Friends.  My creepy kindred spirits.  Whether we’ve known each other for 10+ years online or for less than a handful of years in real life or anything in between makes no difference to me.  You guys (and gals) are pure awesome covered in awesome sauce with a cherry on top.  And now, back to our regularly scheduled creepiness, please.

3. The Interwebz.  Aside from the fact that most of my friends live in there somewhere, it just makes life easier.  I don’t know how many stupid (or disturbing) questions I’ve found the answers to in order to make my stories more accurate.  The NSA might have me on a watchlist somewhere, but at least I know the correct procedure for performing an enucleation (and that’s not even close to the weirdest thing I’ve looked up).  Plus, I can stalk people.  Take that how you want.

4. Spiked coffee.  Whoever originally accidentally spilled booze in their coffee (or vice versa) and decided it was a good thing, you are wonderful!  And each person who has experimented with different combinations ever since is kind of great in their own right.  Then you have the genius who added whipped cream (you rock).  Don’t ask me why (because I really don’t know), but I love the stuff.  Disclaimer: I swear I’m not a lush.

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Yes, please!

5. The fact that I can block posts on Facebook from all of the people who started posting nothing but Christmas stuff at 12:01 AM on November 1st and they will never know.  Not that I would ever do that.  But, if you don’t hear from me until December… well, yeah.  Sorry, not sorry.

I think that’s enough for this week, don’t you?  I’ll be back next week with another five things I’m thankful for!  What are you thankful for this year?  Comment here or Facebook or Twitter or G+