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Olivia’s Letter to Santa

This weekend we will be celebrating my baby’s 4th birthday! I can’t believe she’s already 4. Danny and I have promised her a trip to Build-a-Bear, where she is looking very forward to getting a Clarice reindeer (Rudolph’s girlfriend). While we’re at the mall she will get her picture taken with Santa and drop her letter in Santa’s mailbox. I bought her the cutest red dress at the Gap yesterday for her to wear.

So this morning we wrote him an email at DearSanta.com. It’s a neat service we did last year too, and Santa will email back! Parents can view all of their children’s letters and responses, print them, and manage wish lists too. Then I copy and pasted her email  to a Word template I found in Office for a letter to Santa. She’s signed her name to it and decorated the envelope with Christmas stickers. I want to save the Word document for myself, so I’ve put the email copy in the envelope that will get to Santa. Now I can’t decide if we should take it to Macy’s mailbox, where they give money charity for every letter they collect, or the mailbox that sits by Santa on his picture set…hmm. We’ll see.

I can’t wait until next year, when she’ll be able to write it herself in her own handwriting.

2010 Letter to Santa


Ice Cream Making Novice? Try this (almost) NO FAIL Pumpkin Ice Cream-MUY Delicioso!

So, I know this is late in posting, but what can I say? I’ve been busy…and pregnant.

So one of the items we (Olivia and I) contributed to Thanksgiving dinner was some excellent Pumpkin Ice Cream. Recipe courtesy of Williams Sonoma’s Ice Cream book that I bought for mom when I got her the KitchenAid Ice Cream attachment for her stand mixer. Yes I know-pumpkin season is just about over most places-but since a lot of people still have pumpkin desserts at Christmas-I thought-Why Not blog about it anyway! Olivia had a lot of fun watching the mixer freeze the custard and of course tasting the custard after it was cooled but before it was frozen. Once we got it into the freezer-she couldn’t wait to get her little hands on a spoonful. In fact, when my mom went to get the last helping of it for her-a spoon was found IN the container in the freezer (She’s bedy-bedy sneaky!). I encourage all of you to make it for yourself or with your little monster! It really is good and creamy-not icy the way some recipes come out.

We made a couple of alterations but other than that followed the recipe and instructions to a T. I find that in most recipes-the ingredients and amounts can vary slightly–but the technique is everything! This is a great recipe because the mixing of the egg yolks to the pumpkin puree, I think, really helps avoid scrambling them when you have to add them to the hot cream mixture.Also of note: For the freezing method we used the Ice Cream attachment that is made for a KitchenAid Stand Mixer.

So here’s the recipe: With a few of my tricks and substitutions.


  • 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree or canned
    unsweetened pumpkin puree      (We used canned, but see note on how to prepare fresh puree)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (Substituted Splenda Brown Sugar Blend Here-to lower the carbs for that gestational diabetes)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs. bourbon (Omitted the bourbon-A. because we don’t drink it regularly and why buy a bottle for 1 Tbs? and B. being pregnant and all)

*ALSO-in place of  ALL the spices we chose to use pumpkin pie spice because it’s been sitting in the cabinet and we USUALLY PREFER to use the individual spices-but it needed to get used and why not try it with the ice cream that might not have come out anyway-due to the use of Splenda?


In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours. (one hour seemed to be just fine!)

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/2 cups of the cream and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar (or Splenda BS blend-brown sugar that is-not actual BS). Cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes. DO NOT let this burn or turn the heat too high-if in doubt use a lower heat setting.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger  (or pumpkin pie spice as the case may be), salt, nutmeg, the remaining 1/2 cup cream and the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Whisk until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Olivia Mixing Puree Ingredients-Don't You LOVE her tiny whisk!

Pumpkin Puree Mixture with Spice and Yolks

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. (Please be careful with this step! Don’t burn yourself ! Also,to be extra careful, pour that 1/2 cup of hot mixture-just a little at a time and really mix it up. When you add it BACK to the hot pot-you don’t want scrambled eggs in your custard. It’s REALLY gross. When in doubt let it cool more than the recipe calls for before mixing the two.)
Pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (Ours is REALLY old and thus-not so fine). Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool.
Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the custard. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning (AGAIN-we omitted this step).

Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.

**To make your own pumpkin puree, use 1 large or 2 medium Sugar Pie or other eating (not field) pumpkins. Cut out the stem and quarter the pumpkin lengthwise. In a preheated 400°F oven, bake the quarters, cut side down, in a shallow roasting pan with a little water in the bottom until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool, scrape out the seeds, cut the flesh from the peels, and force it through a medium-mesh sieve or the medium disk of a food mill. Freeze any leftover puree for up to 2 months.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Ice Cream, by Mary Goodbody (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

See the original recipe/printable version here: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/pumpkin-ice-cream.html

Anyone can find a tortilla with Jesus’ face…it’s not everyday you find food shaped like Texas

Well actually, I’ve seen a great number of foods shaped like Texas at specialty stores, but NONE made by mother nature. I digress.

It was a warm fall morning, like many in Texas. I was taking my mom to the doctor that day and needed some nourishment prior to our departure. So like many a morning I grabbed a box of cereal and proceeded to get down to the business of eating a bowl of it. Today’s pick, Kellogg’s Special K Cinnamon Pecan. As I was pouring it into the gleaming beige corningware bowl, I noticed nothing spectacular or spiritual about it. I didn’t realize that I would soon find a spoonful of miraculousness.

I put the spoon to my mouth, looking into my bowl as I did so. That’s when I saw IT. I sign from above. A HUGE cereal flake, easily 3 times bigger than the average flake. As I picked it out of the bowl I noticed something very different about this particular HUGE morsel. It was shaped like the great state of Texas. Now don’t tell me you don’t believe in miracles. After all it is that time of year when miracles seem to be in high demand. I guess I got mine a little early.

Hello world!

This IS my first post. So read the About Me section, because that’s pretty much what the blog is about. I know nothing of blogging, but want to give it a shot. So be patient if you are a blogging expert or blogxpert as I say. They will get prettier and I will get more “hip” with the  blogging “lingo” so if you have advice, questions, or comments, hit me up.

-Andrea out

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