Tuesday, December 16, 2008

12-16-08 Christmas Tree Ornaments

12-16-08 My favorite things about the holidays, besides the obvious being able to spend time with friends and family, is decor and embellishments. I love the way a Christmas Tree looks when it's perfectly lit, and Steve did such an incredible job on our first tree ever, this year. It's hard not to tear up, every time I walk past. Did I mention I'm pregnant and emotional? 
Then when you decorate the tree with all of your beloved keepsakes and heirlooms, it just makes this time that much more special. This edition of my blog I thought I'd share 5 of my most cherished tree ornaments.
1. a bear my husband and I found while we were honeymooning at Lake George in upstate New York.
2. Also from the Lake George area, it's a hand crafted angel from recycled pieces.
3. Is similar to a bell in the way it's constructed. Steve and I found this one while we were in San Antonio awaiting a Spurs game while vacationing in Texas a few years ago.
4. Is a gift from my mother, for nearly a decade my mother would find an ornament she loved and give both my sister and myself one. That way, no matter where we were or who we celebrated with that year we would all have that kind of a connection.
5. Came from my mother-in-law. It was an embellishment to a gift she wrapped for me.

Which brings me to my other favorite holiday tradition. Gift Wrap. Sometimes it just doesn't matter what's inside. A great gift starts with a great wrapping job. It's just another way to show people how much you care for them. I LOVE gift wrap. Tomorrow, I'll put some images up of my favorite wrapped gifts from under our tree.
Thanks for looking.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

12-11-08 Wow's Birthday

12-11-08 This is my sister Hillarie's birthday today. I tried to ring her on 3 phone numbers and a text but she is not surfacing, good for her for taking a day away from it all.
I'm sure she couldn't possibly miss our dad's faithful Birthday good morning jingle "You Say it's your birthday." You just haven't lived, until you've heard that song, full back-up bad, live @ 7:30 in the morning, over the phone. He has been honoring us with this tradition for several years now. I usually listen then ask him to call back and leave me a message so I can keep it for a few months, it's so fun. Then he calls back with the same number for next year. It is something I look forward to every year.
In honor of Hill's Birthday I thought I'd post some pictures of her daughter, my niece, Reagan. She is growing up now, she'll be 2 in February and really starting to come into her own, in terms of personality and she is so much fun to play with. Over Thanksgiving she found herself a little Santa hat and hammed it up for the camera.
Thanks for looking.
Happy Birthday Wow (it's a pet name)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

12-10-08 O'Brien Clan

12-10-08 O'Brien Kiddos
These images were shot for the families annual Christmas card. Meet James, Emily and Hannah. They look like a Merry bunch ;)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

12-9-08 Abad Wedding

12-8-08 Steve and I shot this wedding a little over a month ago. Our couple was thrilled with the results. mainly they were renewing their vows after 14 years of marriage and trying to have photographs that best complimented their original photography. She email me images of their family posed together 14 years ago and I was able to best match those with their maturing daughters. They were quite the party crowd, everyone had a blast and the DJ was excellent. I hope you like the images.

Monday, December 8, 2008

12-8-08 Thanksgiving Tribute IV

12-8-08 Mom's Stuffing
Mom use to make this when we were younger, and she insists that she can't do it anymore, in fact she swears she can't cook anything anymore.... She cooked for us for years and now she'd like to sit back and let someone else do it. That's cool, I don't mind taking the reins.
2 loaves of low carb wheat bread 
1 loaf of wheaty-nutty bread
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 16 oz package of Sage pork sausage
2 medium onions (chopped)
4 stalks celery (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
32 oz of chicken stock (store bought or I make my own, by boiling the neck and innards of the Turkey for 15 minutes or so)
1. Start by toasting all of the bread. I prefer in the toaster, it gives the bread equal brownness and you can be working on 2 things at the same time. Then chop the bread into 1/2 inch tiles, mom used to tear the bread but I prefer the uniformity of the squares for my stuffing. This part can be done right before assembly or up to a couple days in advance. 
2. Saute the sausage until nearly done and add onions, celery, and garlic. Saute until the onions are wilted. 
3. If you're preparing your own chicken stock then take this time to do that.
4. Combine bread with seasonings then add sausage mixture, stir until thoroughly combined. Start adding chicken stock until bread is damp and clumpy. If you don't need it all don't use it all. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. A little trick I learned from Rachel Ray is to make sure that all of the stuffing has crust, since it is everybody's favorite. So we put some of the stuffing in the bird but it dries out the bird some, so we try to cook the bulk of the stuffing this way. Prepare muffin tins by coating them with cooking spray. Form balls with the stuffing and drop them into the cups. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes checking often. You're looking for brownness and texture from the crust of your stuffing muffins. All of the ingredients are pre-cooked so cook to desired doneness.

Hope you like all of the fun recipes.
tomorrow we'll be back, I'm not sure what we'll be writing about but I'm sure it's going to be fun.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

11-26-08 Thanksgiving Tribute III

11-26-08 Patty Howe's Carrot Souffle 
Last Christmas Patty, my mother in law, prepared this awesome souffle and it wowed the crowd. I made it a couple months ago when we had some family in town. Again it wowed the crowd. So it was a request from my mom for Thanksgiving dinner this year. It's very similar in flavor and texture as sweet potato casserole but infinitely better for you since it starts off as carrots and not starchy potatoes.

7 cups chopped (about 2 lbs)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted 
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
cooking spray
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cook, peeled and chopped, carrots in boiling water for 15 minutes or until very tender; drain. Place carrots in food processor; process until smooth. Add granulated sugar and next 7 ingredients (granulated sugar through eggs); pulse to combine.
Spoonmixture into a 2 quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until puffed and set. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. (optional)

Enjoy this dish! delicious.
see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

11-25-08 Thanksgiving Tribute II

Day II of the THanksgiving Tribute give us Pecan Pie.
Oat Crusted Pecan Pie (with Fresh Cranberry Sauce)
1 3/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon ice water
cooking spray
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup light-colored corn syrup
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 1/4 cups pecan halves
Sauce (optional):
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 fresh orange juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. For crust, place first 3 ingredients in a food processor, and process until finely ground. Add butter, and pulse 5 times or until combined. Add 1 tablespoon ice water; pulse until just combined (mixture will be crumbly.) Press the oat mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch deep dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
4. To prepare the filling, combine brown sugar and next 8 ingredients (through egg white) in a medium bowl, stirring well. Stir in pean halves. Spoon filling into prepared crust . Bake at 350 for 48 minutes or until center is set cool to room temperature on a wire rack. 
5. To prepare sauce, combine cranberries, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, and juice in small sauce pan over medium-high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until cranberries start o pop about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
6 Combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir cornstarch mixture into cranberry mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring often; remove from heat. Cool completely. Cut pie into 12 wedges; serve with sauce. Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 wedge pie and about 1 1/2 tablespoon sauce.) 
I did not make the sauce I love pecan on it's own, I just thought I'd give you the option. This is a cooking light recipe and while I've adjusted a couple of things. I added a some extra vanilla extract and nuts. That's it. So the carb count per slice before the changes was 58.4g. So it's reasonably healthy ;) enjoy!
See you tomorrow with Carrot Souffle.

Monday, November 24, 2008

11-24-08 Tribute to Thanksgiving

I'm really excited about today's installment and for the rest of this week in fact. Besides photography and lots of other things, I am an avid cook. A lot of people think I excel in this department too. This year I have been asked to bring Butternut Squash Soup, Patty's Carrot Souffle, Mom's Stuffing, and Pecan Pie to our families "pot luck" Thanksgiving dinner.
This week I am going to prepare them and photograph them as I go and provide the recipes to boot. 
Today we are going to make Butternut Squash soup with Coconut and Ginger
2 large butternut squash halved and seeded
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
kosher salt and cracked pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups water
1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 sprigs fresh thyme
coconut shavings, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay upright the halved seeded butternut squash put a 1/2 tablespoon pad of butter in each cavity. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes remove brush each half with butter, return to the oven for 40 minutes more. When cooled, peel and cut into pieces.
2. In a large pot, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons in the olive oil. Add the onion, leek, ginger, curry podwer and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned. Add the wine and cook until evaporated.
3. Add the cooked squash, water, coconut milk and thyme sprig. Simmer over moderately low heat for 20 minutes. Allow to rest off the heat for 20 minutes.
4. Discard the thyme sprig. Working in batches, puree the soup in blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with coconut shavings and serve.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

11-20-08 Bank of America

11-20-08 I know I've already sent this out but I wanted to send it again with a better picture. 
Just to give you a little perspective, the sign on the bottom left of this image is Madison Square Garden and Alyssa is taking the picture from the NE corner of 34th and 7th at Macy's.
See you tomorrow

11-20-08 Caymbri Fenn-Anstruther

11-20-08 Yesterday was Caymbri's 1 month birthday. She was born 3 weeks early to Steve's cousin Brad and his lovely wife Anna Fenn-Anstruther. In spite of of her early arrival she was basically healthy with a teensy case of Jaundice. But after a few tanning sessions she was good to go. Her happy parents are still adjusting to parenthood, but truly enjoying every moment. We got to see them when Caymbri was just a week old in California when we were there for the shower. Anna had alot of good tips for me, so I think I am in a good position for the birth of our son...soon. In the second image Anna shows off how Caymbri looks just like Brad from his birth announcement. 
thanks for looking, see you tomorrow.