Monday, December 28, 2015

Maternity Shoot

Rewind back to October again, when I was about 6 months pregnant (now I'm nearly full term and feel like a house).  My friend Lissette had loaned me some maternity clothes and when I tried on one of the dresses I just felt like it was such a Greek Goddess dress that it needed to be featured in some photos.  So with the help of my friend Hayley who does hair and makeup, and with local photographer Sarah Gilreath, we tried to capture the vision I had seen in my mind's eye.  

The morning of the scheduled photo shoot I almost called Sarah to cancel, because skimming through maternity photography on the internet for ideas had reminded me how absolutely horrifying and ridiculous maternity photography can be...  but this is my last baby (or at least my last time being pregnant) and so we plugged on.  All in all, I'm really glad that I pursued this vision.  Pregnancy can be really uncomfortable and especially as late in the term as I am now, so miserable at moments, but it is definitely participation in a miracle and one of the times I feel most beautiful in all of this abundant womanhood.  

M&M Birthdays

Rewind back to the beginning of October.  This year we turned 31 and 34, and we celebrated in usual M&M style, meaning very little fanfare and a lot of eating good food with friends.  Maybe it's because I am hopelessly untalented at gift-giving, but celebrating birthdays has never really been my "thing".  Despite my extroversion, I just don't love being the center of a party.  So, on Marcos' birthday (the 4th) we had a nice family breakfast, my mom made a yummy dinner for us and and we had friends over for dessert, and on my birthday (the 8th) we went out to sushi at our favorite place.  Top that off with the annual birthday celebration spaghetti night at the Hill Casa, and we called it a great roll over into a new age.

At our favorite place, Shiki Sushi, if you order enough you get it delivered to the table on a huge wooden boat.  We are so glad that the kids love sushi just as much as we do!  We polished this off and then ended up ordering more (and then rolling out of the restaurant...).  YUM.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nancee's Molasses Sugar Cookies

Our neighbor Nancee has a few recipes that she has collected over the years that are to die for.  I'm still figuring out how to wheedle her chocolate mousse recipe out of her, but until then, we can happily feed our sorrows on her Molasses Sugar Cookies.  I don't consider myself much of a cookie baker, and somehow manage to ruin cookies very frequently, but these are my fall and winter go to cookies and they are nearly Metta-proof.  These are also, notably, the only cookies sans chocolate that I will even bother making.  They are just that good.

Nancee's Molasses Sugar Cookies


3/4 cup butter, melted (hey, I never said it was healthy)
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat butter with molasses, egg and sugar.

Sift together remaining dry ingredients and add them to wet mixture.  Mix well and refrigerate until firm.

Form dough into 1-inch balls and roll in additional sugar.  Place dough balls on cookie sheet a few inches apart, and bake 8-10 minutes.  Tops of cookies will start to crack when done.  Don't overbake, unless you want a crispier cookie (also delicious, but not quite as satisfying as the soft molasses approach).  Let cool on pan 1 to 2 minutes before removing to finish cooling on rack.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sweet Potato Casserole

I really like the holidays.  One of the things that I love are the potlucks - not only do we get to enjoy the company of friends, but we also have the opportunity to try out some new recipes.  When I am making a full meal for my family, I have to streamline because I am balancing a variety of different dishes, but when I am only contributing one dish to a meal, I can pour in more time and energy than usual.  Tonight I made something worth recording for the generations to come: this delicious Sweet Potato Casserole.

Sweet Potato Casserole


4 or 5 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup chopped pecans


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place potatoes on a cookie sheet and slide onto the middle rack.  Bake the sweet potatoes for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are fork tender.  Pull out the potatoes, turn down the oven to 350 degrees F and allow potatoes to cool.  

2. Being very careful with the warm potatoes, slice them down the middle length-wise and scrape the soft insides into a large bowl.  If they are cooked well, they will fall right out of the skins.  Mash potatoes and then mash in the sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.  Transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish, or a casserole dish.

3. In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour.  Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse.  Stir in the pecans.  Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.

* Note: The casserole can be made the night before, put in the fridge, and then baked prior to eating.  Just let it sit for a few minutes to bring the dish closer to room temperature before placing in the oven, and add a few minutes extra onto the cooking time.

Makes 6-8 servings.