Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2012 Christmas Letter

It's another one of those crazy years for our family...we've been running here and we've been running there!  And as always it amazes us when Christmas comes around because we really can't believe another year has passed...BUT IT HAS!!! We've got or tree all set up for Christmas, started our Christmas baking (which never stops this time of year), shopping is done, and gifts are almost wrapped and of course our families two most favorite things are in full gear...listing to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies all month long!!!  (OK maybe that's moms and Seth's favorite things about Christmas)

We hope that as you are reading this you and your family re well and in good spirits.  DJ, Suzi, Josh (14), Seth (11) and of course Cayla, Craig and our soon to be new grandson, Eric (should be born around December 23 or sooner we hope) have kept ourselves sort of busy this past year.  We are still up in the Estrella Foothills, in Goodyear, AZ, loving the area, watching it and our boys grow everyday!  As always mom and dad seem to live the quiet lives lately while the kids live the exciting lives...perhaps its age, who knows, but it's been kind of nice to sit back and have a pretty quiet year...well other than the kids!!!

The biggest news for our family this year of course was Cayla and Craig's news and that of course was the announcement of a new baby!!  Of course we were so excited to become new grandparents and we can't wait.  Then came the news that the baby was going to be a boy and possibly born on Christmas!  What a great Christmas gift to our family!  Cayla has been doing great during her pregnancy, she looks wonderful, she feels wonderful (OK at times she might disagree with that) but she is doing GREAT!!  Cayla and Craig also moved this summer to the cutes two bedroom town home, with a pool.  It's right across from their church building and in a good neighborhood.  Now lets get Eric into this world by Christmas and things will be perfect for the Holidays!!  As for us, we can't wait to be grandparents, well it took sometime for DJ to get use to the the idea...well maybe he's still getting use to the idea and the boys just think its weird that they are going to be uncles.  Seth just wants to teach Eric all the cool things you can do.  I think Cay better watch out.

Now Joshua started out this year shorter than his mom and now he is as tall if not just taller than her.  He has decided to start growing...which is fine with everyone in the family cuz we were kind of worried he was going to stop growing like Cayla did at age 12, but boy did he fool us!! As always he is busy in scouts and school.  In May he graduated from 8thgrade and is now in High School.  At the start of the year he played for his 8th grade schools baseball team where they took 2nd place in the district.  This year in High School he has already received an Academic Achievement Award in English and an award for showing respect in their Character counts program.  He's keeping very busy with scouts and is getting ready to start working on his Eagle project which he hopes to have finished this next year.  Right now in church he is serving as the Teachers quorum President, which really keeps him busy but we think he enjoys it.

As always, Seth is our crazy child, but we love him and will keep him, even though mom keeps trying to sell him on Facebook to all her friends.  Seth is really having a great year this year at school.  He's got a wonderful teacher who really works with him and sees that he is a pretty smart kid.  He's been getting all "A's" this year, which is AMAZING!!  He's also found a new love this year!!  We've always known that he was a clown/ham, but he has discovered the Drama Club and he LOVES IT!!  They say he's pretty good.  Seth has also worked really hard this year in Cub Scouts and earned his Webelos badge in October and his Arrow of Light!  Hes tried really hard this year!

As for mom and dad, we, we just sit back and try and keep our family going.  DJ is still working with DPS.  This January marks his 20 years with them!  He made a BIG decision this summer and in July retired from the military after 25 years of service...it was a very hard decision for him to do but he felt it was time for a change.  He is still serving in the High Council at church and enjoys that a great deal.  Suzi just tries to keep everyone's life in order.  Helping the boys and her friends when they need it.  Plus try to keep our dogs, Mia and Dakota from tearing the house apart or running away is a full time job.  We don't have 2 kids left at home...we now have 4!!  (Josh, Seth, Mia, and Dakota, oh and lets not forget DJ)

As you can see our family is doing well.  We keep ourselves out of trouble, sorta and busy.  We try and stay healthy!  We try and stay happy and we stay strong in the gospel!

From our house to your, we hope you have a Merry Christmas, and
May your New Year be Fun and Happy!

All our Love,
DJ, Suzi, Joshua and Seth

Recipes for the Holiday Baby Shower

So a few of you have asked for some of the Recipes from the shower.  So here ya go...

from cook book called Party Foods

1 1/2 Pounds red potatoes (about 15 small)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cupHellmanns's or Best Foods Real Mayonnaise
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
10 slices bacon, crisp cooed and crumbled (I sliced before I cooked mine)

1.  preheat oven to 400'. On large baking sheet, arrange potatoes and bake 35 minutes or until tender.  Let stand until cool enough to handle. 
2.  Cut each potato in half, then cut thin slice from bottom of each potato half.  With small melon baller or spoon, scoop pulp from potatoes leaving 1/4 inch shell.  Place pulp in medium bowl; set shells aside.
3.  In medium bowl, lightly mash reserved pulp.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Spoon or pipe potato filling into potato shells.
4.  Arrange filled shells on baking sheet and broil 3 minutes or until golden and heated through.
Makes 30 bites
(I made these the night before without placing under the broiler until I was ready to use them, they worked out fine!)

from the Betty Crocker Fall Baking Recipe Book

1 box refrigerated pie crust, softened
3 eggs
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (I used freshed pumpkin I rendered down)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Chocolate Drizzle (optional)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1.  Bring pie crust to room temp for 15 minutes.  Unroll pie crust; using rolling pin, roll out each crust to 12 inches.  Use 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut 15 rounds from each crust.
2.  Heat oven to 350'.  In small bowl, beat 1 egg white (reserve yolk), brush dough rounds with egg white.  Press rounds, eggs wash side up, into 30 miniature muffin cups.  From leftover dough, cut small pumpkin stems about 1/4 inch long; attach to top of each dough round.
3.  In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Add pumpkin, reserved egg yolk, remaining 2 eggs, the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice; beat on medium speed until smooth.  Spoon 1 generous tablespoon filling into each dough cup.
4.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until filling is set and crust is lightly browned.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. 
6.  In small microwave bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on high 1 minutes, stirring once, until softened and chips can be stirred smooth.  Stir in oil.  Spoon into small resealable food storage plastic bag; seal bag; Cut off tiny corner of bag.  Squeez ba to drizzle chocolate over cooled pies.  Store in refrigerator. 

from Gold Medal Extra Special Holiday Baking Recipe Book

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar
1 package (6ouces) white baking chips
1 tablespoon shorting
White sparkling sprinkles sugar

Mix brown sugar, shortening, molasses and egg in large bowl.  Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves and salt.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.
Heart oven to 375'.  Lightly grease cookie sheet.  Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls; dip tops into granulated sugar.  Place balls, sugared sides up, about 3 inches apart on cookie sheet to wire rack; cool completely. 
Cover cookie sheet with wax paper.  Place chips and shortening in microwaveable bowl.  Microwave uncovered on Medium-high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring every 15 seconds, until smooth.  Dip half of each cooled cookie into melted mixture; sprinkle with sprinkles.  Place on wax paper; let stand until coating is firm. 
about 4 dozen cookies

from Toll House Nestle Holiday Recipes
This was one of Caylas favorite dishes at the shower

4 cups (12 ounces) dry regular or whole wheat ziti
1 can (15ounces) pure pumpkin   (I used fresh pumpkin I rendered down myself)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon slat
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 can (12 fluid ounces) Evaporated Fat Free Milk
4 links (12 ounces) fully cooked Italian-seasoned chicken sausages, cut into 1/4inch slices
1 package (6 ounces) or about 4 cups pre washed baby spinach
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part skin or 2% milk reduced fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounce) shredded Parmesan cheese,

1.  Preheat oven to 425'.  Spray 4-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water and set aside for later use.  Drain pasta; return to cooking pot.
3.  Meanwhile, combine pumpkin, flour, garlic powder, salt, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in medium skillet over medium heat.  Slowly add evaporated milk, stirring until smooth.  Cook stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thinken slightly.  Pour over pasta in pot.  Add sausage and reserve pasta cooking water; stir well.
4.  Spread half of pasta mixture into prepared baking dish.  Top with spinach.  Cover with remaining pasta mixture.  Lightly spray piece of foil with nonstick cooking spray.  Cover ziti with foil, greased-side-down.
5.  Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheese in small bowl.  Remove foil;  sprinkle with cheese mixture.  Bake uncovered, for an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
I made this up the night before and didn't bake it til I was read to serve it...it worked out perfect, just covered and stored in the fridge over night.
from Betty Crocker Holiday Recipe Book

Tip:  Make the salad a day ahead...it tastes even better when all the flavors blend...but it can be made the day of!

1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing   (I used mayonnaise)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
3 cups coarsely chopped broccoli florets (about 8 oz)
1 medium orange, peeled, cut into bite-size chunks (about 1 cup)
3/4 cup pomegranate seed (from 1 pomegranate) or sweetened dried cranberries (I used cranberries)
1/3 cup roasted salted sunflower nuts (I didn't add these)
2 tablespoons sliced red onion

1.  In large serving bowl, mix mayonnaise, orange juice, sugar, salt, and pepper.
2 Add remaining ingredients; toss until well coated.  Store covered in refrigerator. 

from Betty Crocker Holiday Recipe Book
This was one of everyones favorite recipes

1 loaf (1lb) French bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I really just used however much I needed to cover)
8 oz thinly sliced cooked ham (I used however much was needed)
8 oz thinly sliced swiss cheese (used however much was needed)
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup progresso plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1.  In ungreased 13x9 inch glass baking dish, arrange half of the bread slices overlapping as needed (I covered the whole bottom, you couldn't see any openings at all) Brush bread in dish with mustard (this is where I just used as much as was needed).  Top evenly with ham and swiss cheese, overlapping as needed.  Top with remaining bread slices, arranging them over first layer of bread slices to make sandwiches. 
2.  In medium bowl, beat eggs and milk with wire whisk until well blended.  Carefully pour over sandwich.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour but no longer than 12 hours.
3.  Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, parsley and butter.
4.  Heat oven to 375'.  Sprinkle crumb topping over casserole.  Bake uncovered 30 to 35 minutes or until sandwiches are puffed and golden brown. 

I did make this up the night before, but didn't add the topping til the morning before cooking.  It worked out great.

from Betty Crocker Holiday Recipe Book

1 package Betty Crocker Super Moist white cake mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon red food color
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon regular vanilla or clear vanilla

1.  Heat oven to 350'.  Generously grease 10 to 12 cup fluted tube cake pan with shortening (do not spray with cooking spray); lightly coat with flour.  Make cake mix as directed on package; using water, oil and egg whites.  Pour about 2 cups batter into pan.  Into small bowl, pour about 3.4 cup batter; stir in food color and peppermint extract.  Carefully pour pink batter over white batter in pan. Carefully pour remaining white batter over pink batter.
2.  Bake 38 to 42 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to wire rack or heatpoof serving plate.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.
3.  In small bowl, mix powder sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and the vanilla.  Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth and consistency of thick syrup.  Spread glaze over cake, allowing some to drizzle down side.  Store loosely covered at room temperature. 

from Betty Crocker Holiday Entrees Recipe Book

1 package Betty Crocker Original Supreme Brownie Mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
Peppermint Cream (below)
Dark Chocolate Ganache (below)
10 to 12 hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed
Chocolate trees if desired

1.  Heat oven to 350'.  Line rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, with 17x12-inch piece of aluminum foil.  Grease bottom only of foil with shortening.  Make brownie mix as directed on package for fudgelike brownies, using water, oil and eggs.  Spread batter in pan bake as directed. Cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 1 hour. 
2.  Make peppermint cream and dark chocolate gananche.  Remove brownies from pan, using foil to lift.  Cut brownies crosswise to make 3 equal rectangles. Trim sides if desired.
3.  To assemble torte, place 1 brownie rectangle on serving platter; spread with 2/3 cup Peppermint Cream.  Top with second brownie rectangle;  spread with Dark Chocolate Ganache.  Top with third brownie rectangle; spread with remaining cream.  Refrigerate uncovered until serving. 
4.  Just before serving, sprinkle with candies and arrange Chocolate Trees on top.  Store covered in refrigerator.

Peppermint Cream
1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1/2 package (8ounce size) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Beat whipping cream in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form; set aside.  Beat remaining ingredients in medium bowl on low speed until blended;  beat on medium speed until smooth.  Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
1/4 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Heat whipping cream in 1 quart saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling; remove from heat.  Stir in chocolate chips until melted.  let stand at room temperature about one hour or until slightly thickened. 

from Pinterest

1 1/2 cups Ritz crackers, crushed (I used one whole sleeved and used my food processor to crush the crackers
2 cups white cheddar cheese, grated and divided
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
4 1/2 cups cooked elbow macaroni (about 8ounces uncooked)
One 5.2 ounce container of Boursin Garlic and Herb cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
Parsley, for garnish, optional

1.  Preheat the oven to 350'.  Generously spray 8 cups of your muffin pan with cooking spray (I used the mini muffin pans instead and it worked great)
2.  In a large bowl, combine the crushed Ritz crackers, 1 cup of the shredded white cheddar cheese, and the melted butter, mixing well until the mixture holds together and resembles coarse sand.
3.  Divide the mixture among the muffin cups and using your fingers of the back of a spoon, firmly press the crust into the bottoms and up the sides of each muffin cup.
4.  In another large bowl, combine the cooked (and still hot) macaroni with 1/2 cup of the shredded white cheddar, the Boursin cheese, and the butter, mixing well.
5.  In a small bowl, combine the eggs, milk sour cream, salt, and red pepper flakes, mixing well.
6.  Add the egg/milk mixture to the cooked macaroni, mixing until all the ingredients are melted and smooth. 
7.  Place about 2-3 tablespoons of macaroni mixture into each muffin cup (you will probably have little leftover macaroni, I did.  Save this and bake it separately, if desired.)
8.  Top each muffin cup with the remaining white cheddar.
9.  Bake the mac and cheese pies until lightly golden on top about 20 to 25 minutes.
10.  Let cool slightly before removing from the muffin pan, garnish with parsley.

from Holiday Celebrations Book

5 cups Dole Pineapple Juice
1 quart raspberry-cranberry drink
1 pink fresh or frozen raspberries
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Chill ingredients. Combine in punch bowl.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Candy Canes, Eggnog, presents galore...

As always I'm a day late and a dollar short (well when it comes to posting pics and recipes for everyone...the recipes will be on the next blog)!  BUT what a day it ways!!! 
Caylas Holiday Baby Shower was December 1st and boy (haha, I made a funny) but boy did we have fun!! 
There was FAMILY, FRIENDS, FOOD AND FUN to last us the whole season!!!
Cayla had so much fun and truly enjoyed herself.
And might I add...isn't my baby adorable!!!

Family and Friends all seemed to have fun and we can't thank you all enough for coming and spending such a fun day with us! 

Of course the best part of the the whole day was the food!!  
At the top:  Cream cheese Pumpkin Pie Bits
                  Strawberry Cream Puffs
                  Snow Capped Gingersnaps
                  Cupcakes...eggnog, chocolate, and candy cane
                  Ginger bread butterscotch Trifle

We also had: 
Peppermint Cream Brownie Torte
Ham and Swiss Brunch Bake
Cranberries and Citrus Broccoli Salad
Baked Ziti with Pumpkin & Sausage
Roasted Red Potato Bites
and of course to drink:
Pineapple Raspberry Punch

I think the best part of the the whole day was the FOOD!!  You get a bunch of women around FOOD and you know, theres NO HOLDING US BACK!! 

Of course we can't thank all of you enough for coming to the this Holiday Baby Shower for Cayla and Baby Eric...Yes we have the name in case you missed it!!  We are so blessed that you could spend this special day with us!  We hope you enjoyed your time spending it with family and friends!!