A Very Thankful Thanksgiving

Drew and I have so much to be thankful for this year.  We both have jobs that not only pay the bills, but we truly enjoy them (99% of the time!)  We have a large network of family and friends that loves and supports us, our dream home, and overall health and happiness.  I often find Thanksgiving as a time of reflection, as I’m sure most of us do.  While this year has not been without its difficult times and emotional roller coasters, our blessings far outweigh the bad.

fireplace pic

Last Tuesday, we headed to Kentucky to celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents and extended family.  While traffic wasn’t bad, it rained pretty much the entire way.  Theo had fun playing in the snow and even though I’d much prefer it closer to Christmas, I can’t argue that it looks beautiful.  Drew and I made the famous chocolate ganache praline cake, which is no doubt a labor of love.  We actually had to make the ganache twice since the chocolate hardened too quickly the first time.  It takes about three hours from start to finish, but one bite and it all becomes worth it.

us by the cake

It’s hard to pick a favorite Thanksgiving dish; everything is delicious and holds its own unique memories.  My Dad’s deep-fried turkey is always a hit, and my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese recipe hasn’t been tampered with for generations.  We have our twists on traditional favorites (oyster stuffing anyone?!) but definitely serve the usual suspects – sweet potato casserole, rolls and pecan pie.

the bird

After dinner, we always gather in the family room to watch football and let our stomachs settle before it’s time for dessert.  At least 3 or 4 people end up falling asleep, whether on the couch or sprawled out on the floor.  While I don’t brave the crowds and venture out on Black Friday, it’s fun to still pick through the ads.  But what’s even more fun? Sleeping in the next day and then eating a slice of cake for breakfast.

cousins

With this being the last year that my parents will be living in Northern Kentucky, the week was a little bittersweet.  We may very well be eating turkey on the beach next year, or Drew and I may even offer to host.  That being said, I made extra sure to take in all the traditions and memories: making Uncle Doug’s fruit salad, eating lasagna the night before, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade over breakfast, looking for the turkey coloring contest in the paper, pre-Turkey day spinning class with Mom, grabbing “just one more” slice of cake at 8 p.m.  Wherever we celebrate Thanksgiving next year, no doubt we will once again be counting our blessings.

Advertisements

Happy Mother’s Day!

dancing

To my mother:

Thank you for the unyielding, unwavering love you’ve shown me, every day since the day you and Dad brought me home from the hospital.  I feel so honored, grateful and blessed to call you my Mom.  I look up to you so much, even more now that I’m older and truly realize all that you’ve done for me, the sacrifices you made and the understanding you bestowed.  Thank you for making me feel beautiful, and telling me so when there were days I felt anything but.  Thank you for holding me up when I fell down, and for dancing next to me when I stood tall.  Thank you for literally helping me learn to walk again, and for holding my hand when I wanted so badly to quit.  There are so many memories that I cherish, and so many more that I know we’ll have.  I love you. 

Even though I wasn’t able to spend the day with my Mom today, we were able to have a nice long chat on the phone and catch up with each other.  I look forward to Sunday afternoons for that very reason; my Mom and I can talk on the phone and an hour will pass before we even know it.  Every time we talk I’m instantly transported back to the couch in my parents’ living room, where we used to curl up with blankets and talk for hours.  Whenever I’m there for a visit, we’re always sure to spend time on that same couch, reminiscing about the past and talking excitedly about the future.

apron

I figured that if I couldn’t physically celebrate Mother’s Day with my Mom today, I could do the next best thing to pay homage to her: bake.  I learned how to bake from my Mom, who no doubt learned from her Mom, and so on.  I have vivid memories of being a young girl with an apron tied around my waist, pouring through the endless kitchen cabinets.  What became known as “glass bowl” involved Mom giving me a dozen different ingredients to measure, mix and make my own creation.  We’d never actually cook or eat whatever concoction I created, but I know that’s where my love for baking first blossomed.  To this day she is the best cook I know.

This afternoon I made banana chocolate chip muffins, with a cream cheese filling.  Some of my favorite things to make with Mom were sweet treats: decorated sugar cookies, cranberry orange scones, and the infamous chocolate ganache praline cake that is somewhat of a legend in our family.

muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese-Filled Muffins
Makes 15 muffins

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg
    • 2 overripe bananas
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/3 cup butter, softened but not melted
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • Spreadable cream cheese, softened

Preheat oven to 350.  Arrange 15 liners in muffins tins.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, beat together egg, bananas, milk, butter and vanilla extract on a low setting until smooth.  Pour wet mixture into flour mixture and stir until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop a spoonful of the muffin batter into each liner.  Using a teaspoon, drop cream cheese into each of the liners.  Top each with remaining batter.  Bake for 18 minutes.