Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Food + Family

Happy Thanksgiving {almost}.
November has been a busy month for me.
I've tried like mad to wrap up my Christmas shopping early in the hopes of enjoying a low key December with my family.   There are few things I detest as much as crowded stores, frantic shoppers and traffic jams.  Yes, I might miss out on a sale or two, but when I'm at home building gingerbread houses or baking cookies while others are out fighting for parking spaces, it seems worth it.
This Thanksgiving I'm especially thankful to be a mother of boys.
To watch them play pizzeria and barber shop together.
To see them sit side by side as they "camp-out" in front of the fire 
and attempt to roast mini marshmallows on wooden utensils with the fire screen still in place.
They make each other laugh and my heart melts.
I love my shared lunches with Charlie at the kitchen counter,
The way he dunks his french bread in his little cup of soup and exclaims, "delicious!"
I love my time with Andrew, after Charlie goes to bed, playing cards or scrabble,
popping popcorn or reviewing spelling words.
I love their gingham shirts, their corduroy pants, their messy hair, toddler pjs + rain boots.
They've been especially cute together lately and I'm eating it up.

{Some of these were taken on rainy day trip to picturesque Lebanon, Ohio. 
A town that has appeared in the movies "Milk Money" and "Harper Valley PTA"}
{The inn has seen many US presidents and famous literary figures, like Charles Dickens}

We had grandparent's Day at school this week.
It was a rainy mess as the children are all in temporary modular classrooms while
the Elementary School is being renovated and rebuilt.
Somehow or other everyone squeezed it.
We did crafts and the kids sang and shared projects and essays.
Andrew, my Mum, and I tried our hardest to win the "Thanksgiving Day" word scramble.
We came in third. With a 148 words.

Afterwards, we took Andrew and Payton 
{his oldest best bud/almost like a sister to him/almost like a niece to me}
out to lunch at the Inn.

Last weekend I went to Edward and Bella's wedding with a group of good friends.
The kind of good friends that recently introduced me to the important cultural phenomenon that is Twilight. I falsely thought my literary taste was a little too sophisticated 
for teen vampire soap operas - apparently not.
While I'm far from a Twigh-hard, I did enjoy two weekends of girl time.
First with a movie marathon catching up on the old flicks and 
then to the theater to see "Breaking Dawn" last Friday.
Since we were attending a wedding, I came prepared with red velvet cupcakes (this recipe). 
{Note, using natural food color does not make the cupcakes RED enough. Or at all, really}

Speaking of food...
I have two recipes to share....
First, a Foley family holiday tradition for caramel popcorn.
The recipe comes from Jimmy's cousin and it wasn't even 24 hours 
after the first time I tried it that I had to make it myself.
I had a craving a couple weeks ago and decided to surprise Andrew with a special after school snack.
If you've never had warm caramel popcorn right out the oven, then I believe you haven't fully lived.

Recipe | Foley's Famous Caramel Popcorn
Measure 1 cup kernels, then pop on stove or air popper {or 3 bags of microwave popcorn}
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp salt 
2 sticks butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 250.
Line two big baking sheets with foil or parchment.
Pop popcorn and spread evenly over both pans. {If you made your own, then sprinkle with kosher salt}
Melt butter, add sugar, syrup + salt, stir constantly
Bring to boil, let boil and do not stir for 5 minutes with heat on.
Remove from heat and add baking soda + vanilla.
Pour evenly over popcorn.
Gently toss to coat.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

And one more...
I made this for dinner last night.
Jimmy had three servings.
The rest of us had two.
It's fabulous. I will make it again and again and again.

Recipe | Moroccan Chicken Stew
4 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, halved
3 medium yellow onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
28 oz diced tomatoes, with their juices
8 oz canned chickpeas, drained
1 quart chicken stock
3 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
¾ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
½ lemon, juiced
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground ginger
2 cinnamon sticks (or 1 tsp ground)
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cut chicken into 1-2 inch chunks, salt and pepper.

In a large pot with olive oil, brown the chicken in batches over high heat. Set aside.
In the same pot, add the onions and sauté until translucent making sure to scrape up any remaining drippings from the chicken. Add the garlic, turmeric, ginger, cumin, nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks. Once the spices are fully incorporated and aromatic, return the chicken to the pot along with the tomatoes, chickpeas, and enough stock to submerge all contents of the stew (may be less than 1 quart). Cook uncovered for one hour. Add cilantro + apricots + raisins and cook 10-15 more min. Serve over rice.

{recipe adapted from here}

Happy Thanksgiving to you!!!! We'll be at my parent's home tomorrow.  I'm only on the hook for pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.  This would be the reason I have time to blog this morning!! xo


  1. That soup/stew looks delish! I can't wait to try it.

    I love seeing and hearing about your boys' interactions. It's like a preview as to what's to come.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. happy thanksgiving tessa, I hope you and your family have a great day!!!

  3. You have such a lovely family! Enjoy your time with them this week (those cupcakes look divine!). Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. What a precious family... You do have lots to be thankful for this season! Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

  5. Your precious family is so adorable! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! xo

  6. I've been to Lebanon with my mom. She wants to move there :) My aunt makes caramel popcorn and it's to die for! Thanks for sharing such yummy recipes and a glimpse of your family life. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  7. The picture of Andrew with his grandparents warms my soul. As do all the others.

    I, too, was late to the Twilight party. I finally caved and watched them in marathon fashion. Of course now I have to know what happens!!!

    Yes, let's steal away to NY! I've only returned once since moving away 7 years ago. So I'm long overdue for a trip. When I went, I spent too much time racing all over the city to meet old friends - so this time, I think I'm going to secretly slip in w/o letting anybody know I'm there.

    Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!!! So very thankful to have found YOU! xoxoxo

  8. i love the photo of you and your pretty!

  9. Your village is the cutest EVER! And you and your "Mum" look so much alike. :) You're a smart lady to avoid the crowds and chaos in December.

    Happy Thanksgiving...Happy Everything!

  10. I love reading about you and your boys. My two little ones are playing together more and more every day, and it's so neat! Your town is idyllic. We were in Cincinnati in the summer of '10. My best friend from college lives in Indianapolis and we drove from her home to see Reds game. Great photo of you and your mum, so sweet!