Sunday, November 23, 2008

Forget the Pumpkin Pie!

Photo courtesy of Recipes From 4EveryKitchen

A few years ago I was introduced to chef Nigella Lawson courtesy of The Oprah Winfrey Show. She was doing a cooking segment with Oprah and the two of them were discussing these little chocolate souffles Nigella had just pulled out of the oven. As a lover of all sweets - especially anything to do with chocolate - let's just say my taste buds were salivating.

And since you can find anything on, (I'm mean anything!), I typed "Choco Hoto Pots" into her search engine and was instantly rewarded with this sinfully delicious recipe:

Recipe created by Nigella Lawson

Forget about the calories—just sit back and enjoy the decadence provided in this warm chocolate treat.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes
Cooling time: 15 minutes
Makes 4 - 6 servings

Butter for ramekins
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Place baking sheet in an oven preheated to 400°F/200°C. Butter four 2/3 cup ramekins and set aside. (I actually find these so decadently sweet, that I use ½ cup ramekins and make 6.)
2. Using a microwave oven or double boiler, melt together the semi-sweet chocolate chips and the butter. Set aside to cool.
3. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, sugar and flour. Add cooled chocolate mixture, and mix until blended.
4. Divide mixture evenly among ramekins and place on baking sheet. Bake until tops are shiny and cracked and chocolate beneath is hot and gooey, about 20 minutes. Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve, reminding children that ramekins and chocolate are hot.

I like to top my hoto pots with a generous serving of whip cream. If you're really feeling naughty (and who doesn't from time to time?), top them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, then whip cream, and then drizzle chocolate or caramel sauce over the whole thing!

If you feel like making a unique dessert this Thanksgiving, you can't go wrong with these little pieces of chocolate heaven. And because you bake them individually, you can present each of your guests with their own ramekin. (Speaking of ramekins, I just saw them for $1 a piece at World Market and Pier 1 Imports. How's that for a bargain!)

Forget the pumpkin pie, people. Your guests will thank you!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Turkey, Southern Style

So a couple of years ago, my sister decided we needed to be more adventurous when it came to cooking our Thanksgiving bird. I guess she had seen some cooking show where they showed you step by step how to fry a turkey.

The chef claimed you hadn't really tasted turkey until you had tasted a fried turkey. With that statement uttered, my sister decided it was game on! She went out and bought all the necessary tools - deep fryer, oil, tongs, hooks, flame-retarded oven mitt and of course, the bird.

(Disclaimer! If you're a vegetarian or grew up on a farm where you named your little gobble-gobbles, the images you're about to see are graphic in nature.)

Here's Holly with her bird - pre-fryer. The secret to a moist bird is to inject it with marinades, spices and coat it with a special dry rub seasoning.

Here's my sister's boyfriend, my dad and Holly getting ready to lower our turkey into the fryer.

And a quick 45 minutes later, our bird emerged cooked (yep, it's supposed to look charcoaled!) and ready for consumption.

With her uncanny ability to turned anything into gold (or in our case, dinner!), Holly salutes her masterpiece.

And while her fried turkey was beyond juicy, I still enjoyed my mom's oven-cooked variety (our backup bird!) just as much. So go ahead and be adventurous. Just know, you can never take the turkey out of Thanksgiving. It will always be the star of the show. And the stuffing a close second!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Call Me Booch, James Booch

Ms. Maxwell, aka Paper Crafts editor-in-chief Jennifer Schaerer recently posted a blog on the next installment of James Bond (which opens tomorrow!). In addition to being written in Ms. Maxwell's wickedly irreverent voice, it was supported by one very yummy picture of Daniel Craig. Danny Boy in blue swim trunks and not much else. Did I mention his toned physique? Yowza!

So while I'll be joining my girlfriends tomorrow night for our OO7 drool fest, I thought I would share some pictures of the next James Bond. You know, in 2o years when Daniel's face starts to sag a bit and his piercing blue eyes lose their hypnotizing effect. Sorry ladies, but it's bound to happen!

Meet my cousin Carter Smith, aka The Booch. A couple of years ago, Boochie was all about the pellet guns. His mom wouldn't let him have a bb gun, so pellets were the next best thing. I came over for a visit one day and found him lining up empty Coke cans for target practice.

What I found so interesting was his complete and absolute concentration. They way he held the gun, they way he cock his head - he literally became this little kick ass 8-year-0ld.

So Daniel, beware! Carter is coming for your job in 2028! In the meantime, me and Ms. Maxwell will enjoy Craig's "startlingly luscious iteration of an icon".

Poetry, Jennifer!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Brandy J tagged me the other day and since I don't want to break the chain and have seven years of bad luck (get it - seven questions, seven bad years of luck!), here we go... (BTW, this was really hard!)

1. I've never broken a bone.
2. I made the varsity tennis team when I was a sophomore in high school.
3. I worked for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and scored a ticket to the Closing Ceremonies.
4. I'm very selective when it comes to dairy products. No to cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, mayo or anything that remotely smells like it was purposely left out to curdle, ferment or be the by-product of a bacterial culture. I do however enjoy ice cream, whip cream, milk (only with cereal), ranch dressing and cheddar cheese. I know, it's purely psychological!
5. Even though I was raised in the Lone Star State, I didn't get into country music until I moved to Utah for college. Some of my first country albums were Clint Black's Greatest Hits, Mary Chapin Carpenter Come On, Come On, and Shania Twain's The Woman in Me.
6. Most people go to the grocery store when they run out of milk, eggs or bread. For me, it's when I get down to my last two Cokes.
7. I'm definitely a creature of the night. My internal biorhythms really do perk up at about 4 p.m. and from then until about 12 a.m., I feel the most alert and productive.

I tag Laurie, Deb, Cristi, Mel, Kalyn, Susan, and Jennifer!

Don't break the chain people!

Monday, November 10, 2008

World War II Remembered

In honor of Veterans Day, I'd like to share a newspaper article I wrote about my grandmother some 11 years ago at BYU. It was a "fluff" piece I turned into my editor with no expectation of ever seeing it in print. You can imagine my surprise when I walked on campus on Veterans Day and picked up a copy of The Daily Universe. Yep, this little "fluff" piece was staring me right in the face on the front page. Needless to say I had the best time calling my grandma that day to say, "I hope you're ready for the spotlight again."

LDS Singer Looks Back on USO Experience
Universe Staff Writer - 13 Nov 1997

Every year on Veteran's Day, we as a nation set aside a day of remembrance for those servicemen and women who fought to keep the freedoms we enjoy today. One such LDS veteran is Norma Squires Smith, who served in World War II as a singer overseas in the United Services Organization, (USO).

From singing in the tabernacle at age 11, to throwing baseballs with David O. McKay's son, Smith's career as an entertainer has taken her far and wide, leaving behind memories of a lost but not forgotten time.

Smith, now 76 and residing in San Jose, Calif., went from singing in a nightclub in Hollywood to performing before soldiers in North Africa and Italy. Many of these performances were within three miles of the fighting and in front of crowds of 5000 servicemen.

From an interview in her home she said the nostalgia about WWII has led her to wear a replica of her USO uniform to entertain veteran groups today. Smith recently had her picture and a plaque of her experiences overseas, go up in the war memorial room of Hollywood High School, where she attended in 1936.

Smith was only 21 when a call from a talent scout came offering her a position in the USO. "The possibility of going overseas gave rise to a series of emotional reactions and I was asking myself: can I leave my home and parents and face the unknown?" Smith said.

But before she knew it she found herself saying, "yes" and getting fitted for her uniform and getting shots for typhoid and tetanus.

"The FBI ran a complete security check on me, had me fingerprinted and told me that if I were captured by the enemy, I would be treated as a POW-Capt. status," Smith said.

Smith said she knew she would be in dangerous circumstances, but wanted to do her part for the war effort. The USO shows ran from October 1941 to June 1944, with her travels taking her through Alaska, North Africa, Italy and England.

The USO provided nearly 124,000 shows to 71.4 million men.

Her first impression of the war was of the poor, weary servicemen in the Aleutian Islands, near Alaska, where she was first assigned.

"Most of these men had not seen a woman, yet alone a white woman, in 18-20 months, so they were quite happy to see us."

As the war came to an end, so did Smith's life as a traveling performer. "Everyone wanted to forget the war and get on with the rest of their lives. Now everyone is so nostalgic about the war and so interested. Everyone wants me to sing again in my uniform -- so I do," Smith said.

Last year she attended a reunion for the 487th bomb group. She was in London celebrating their 100th mission 50+ years ago. She's also been in the production of the play "South Pacific" in which she added a touch of authenticity, as she sang the same songs she did during the war.

From a little girl singing in the Tabernacle to making history with the USO, it is no wonder her life has come full circle. And it's no surprise that 50 years ago, some GI cast his eye on a blond-haired soprano, whose voice helped soothe the angst and heal the soul.

Happy Veterans Day, Grandma!
Love, PK

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lone Star!

The year was 1996. I was 20 years old. I went to go see a little movie called A Time to Kill. From the first time this newcomer appeared on screen, I was completely hyptonized. And even though there's been some rough patches along the way (two words: naked bongos), in the end, this is one cowboy who will always get my vote!

Vanity Fair Magazine, 1996

The Web Site Planner, 2001

Happy Birthday, Matthew!
Love your #1 fan,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gone Hippie!

We take Halloween very seriously at work. We start planning our team costume months in advance and no detail is left to chance. This year we decided to be bell bottom wearin', flower exchangin' hippies. And boy was it a G-R-O-O-V-Y display of love, friendship and world peace!

We even went outside and communed with nature for a bit. Luckily the weather was still righteous enough for us to take our shoes off, clasp hands and sing a little song.

Then we just had to lay down and take a little nap. We were so tired after ingesting Stace's "magic" brownies. I just have to get her recipe!

Even Lexus joined in on the fun. A big thanks goes out to Carolyn Jolley who was brave enough to put Lexus in her pink halter top and jean skirt. And thanks to Jennifer who graciously allowed Lexus to sit on her lap for over an hour!

Can you believe this angelic face actually had the nerve to bite Jennifer's daughter's fingers? Sorry Mini Me! Lexus must have had one too many of those "magic" brownies!

Here's Lex and I with one of the scariest criminals on Die Cut Row - One Eyelet Hoeppner. (Since our office is so close to the state prison, Megan's team came dressed as inmates. Truly I think Megan came up with this idea so she could curse at us and get away with it!)

And here's Lex and I spreading our message of world peace and everlasting doggie kisses.

Hope you all had a groovin' Halloween!