Toad Kissing Holiday Tip: Know Your Man’s Fave Home Made Christmas Treat

A fresh-baked welcome to all of my friends!

With the holidays only a week away, my kitchen smells of warmed vanilla and spiced apricots. I‚Äôm in heaven this time of year because I get an excuse to bake every kind of cookie imaginable – and then eat them ūüôā

This is my second Christmas as Mrs. PC, and my second round at creating strong family memories. I’m truly blessed.

I’m sure you know, ladies, that all men whether princes or toads, have a favorite Christmas Cookie that their Moms used to make. And I’d bet that you feel like your cookies will never match up against their Sainted mothers’.

I happen to be fortunate that my Mother-in-Law is happy to pass the wooden spoon to my kitchen and hand over responsibility for her famous Gum Drop Cookies –¬†trusting that I will do the gooey morsels the justice they have earned. Thanks, Ma! Love ya!

And without asking for her blessing, I’d love to share the recipe with each of you. I’ll warn you up front, though, these things take serious effort unless your guy is in the kitchen helping you bake.

 Loretta’s Gum Drop Delights

‚ÄĘ1 Cup Shortening

‚ÄĘ1 Cup Sugar

‚ÄĘ1 Cup Brown Sugar

‚ÄĘ2 Eggs, beaten

‚ÄĘ1 Tsp. Pure Vanilla

‚ÄĘ1 Tsp. Baking Soda

‚ÄĘ1 Tbsp. Cold Water

‚ÄĘ2 Cups Flour

‚ÄĘ1 Tsp. Baking Powder

‚ÄĘ1 Tsp. Salt

‚ÄĘ2 Cups Regular Oatmeal

‚ÄĘ1 Cup Coconut

‚ÄĘ1 Cup Spiced Gum Drops, chopped. (Here is the pain in the butt – have your guy widdle away at these for awhile while you and your Kitchenaid do the easy work. And use a sharp knife – choppers of any type gum up and become useless – trust me.)

Cream shortening and sugars together.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Dissolve the soda into the cold water, then add soda mixture and vanilla to eggs. Blend together.

Combine the egg mixture with the sugar mixture.

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together and then stir into the creamed mixture.

Blend in coconut and incorporate. Finally, mix in the gum drops and make sure they are well distributed through the cookie dough.

Shape into small balls and place on a cookie sheet.

Bake 12 minutes (turning pan halfway to allow for even baking)

Let sit on pan for 1 minute – they come out really soft. Remove with thin spatula and cool on wire racks.

Enjoy with a big glass of milk, coffee or eggnog followed up with a kiss on the cheek from your very own PC.

Merry Christmas!

Heidi Lee

Part Two: Single Dad’s Guide to Thanksgiving – Missing in Action

Jake, left on his own in Virginia, was armed with only an oven, a knife and a fire extinguisher. Thanksgiving was stressful to say the least. Last I had heard from Jake, he was on his way to Wal-Mart to pick up a meat thermometer for his first attempt at cooking a turkey.

PC, Cole and I were enjoying our own afternoon of football and feasting with our family in Wisconsin. Occasionally I would sneak away to dial the (703) area code – trying desperately to verify that nothing had burned down. After my fourth attempt to reach Jake and sons, I gave in to helplessness and enjoyed a glass of wine, a plate of turkey, and my Packers whopping on the Lions. Go Team!

Today,¬†Black Friday morning, PC and I shared a pot of coffee as I logged into my email. I wasn’t quite ready to face what disasters lay ahead if I were to track the elusive Jake down.¬†I feared that something may have happened with my poor, boy-dumb friend and his great kids.

I felt guilty from encouraging Jake’s idea at preparing a Thanksgiving Feast, and I was afraid to hear the outcome of under-cooked turkey or a fire in the apartment.

Hesitantly, I accepted the iPad PC placed in my hands. I logged into my Hotmail account only to receive an email from Jake with the subject line reading, Missed Thanksgiving followed by another subject line that read, First Attempt.

Geez Рwhat did I get him into? There I was, trying to help a bachelor-dad to prepare a grand feast  when he had probably never even turned on an oven. And I was a thousand miles away. How irresponsible!

I clicked and the first note opened. I read aloud to PC…

Missed Thanksgiving

Heidi Lee,

First of all the food was amazing!¬† And asparagus is now my favorite vegetable in the world – just break of the hard parts of the stalk,¬†lightly coat¬†in Olive Oil, fry on the George Foreman Grill, and when done just a bit of lemon juice topped with Parmesan cheese.¬† It was the best tasting vegetable EVER ūüôā

Unfortunately I missed most of Thanksgiving.¬† The night before I didn’t sleep at all – nervous from my task ahead.¬† So after¬†the boys and I¬†“wolfed” down a gluttony of food, I can’t really say for sure what happened other than I had laid down to get a moments rest and didn’t wake until 7:00AM EST.

The boys loved Dinner H.¬† Thank you so much. FYI:¬† Not a lot of meat left over from that 14 pound bird ūüôā

Jake

What a wonderful experience. Today I’d love to thank my friend, Jake, for allowing me to be a part of this memory he created for his children.

And the note that he had titled First Attempt Рit was a picture of the meal with the boys standing proudly next to the turkey. Granted, a bit too much of my secret basting liquid, but the bird was cooked to a moist gloss of perfection.

He and I had a quick call this morning, and he shared with me their thoughts on potatoes. He made a triple batch of gravy because his boys never enjoyed a potato on its own. However, he made the sour cream mashed baby reds, and the gravy went untouched.

This morning I’m proud of my friend. I’m happy for him and for his kids – the oldest son is getting ready to join the Marines. I feel privileged to be included in even a small piece of their Thanksgiving experience and their family memories.

Thank you, Jake, and thank your sons for me as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heidi Lee

A Single Dad’s Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner: Part One

Dear Friends,

Do you ever wonder how single dads and bachelors survive if they can’t cook? I’m sometimes amazed at what can be found in their cupboards. So as a Thanksgiving treat, our endearing¬†Jake from Project Toad¬†has invited us into his kitchen.

Jake¬†has full custody of his 2 teenaged sons. He has never really given them a traditional Thanksgiving dinner¬†that didn’t involve cutting a slit in the top to vent and removing the film from over the dessert. With both¬†boys growing up, he wants them to have a warm memory before they are out of the house.

Jake and I were catching up a little earlier today when¬†he asked me¬†what time on Thursday he should take the turkey out to thaw. Uhm, gee…¬†how about now?

OK, so this guy needs more help than just in online dating. Our subject requires hand-holding to turn out an edible Thanksgiving Feast. Game On! I’m always up for a Turkey-Day challenge. And as we continue with the care and feeding of Heidi Lee, I won’t¬†be preparing my own Thanksgiving feast. Mom is doing that, so I can baste my turkey vicariously through Jake.

Today’s tasks for Jake’s Norman Rockwell table:

  • Thaw the¬†turkey
  • Prepare¬†the menu
  • Shop for ingredients

As we were going down the grocery list, I mentioned that he would need green onions for the stuffing. His reply; “That’s a problem. What the hell is a green onion?”

“Jake, write this down. Find the produce section of the grocery store, and look around for a cute woman. Turn on the charm and ask her to help you find the scallions so you can make a turkey dinner for your sons.”

Jake, “What the hell is a scallion? Hold on….did you say cute woman? Can I sleep with her?”

Really, Jake? Seriously? Moving on….

For my readers who may have culinary challenges, scallion is another word for green onion.  I suppose I could have just said green onion again, but I have so much fun messing with him. LOL

Back to the prep work – something¬†I didn’t understand upfront was that Jake’s kitchen tools include a skillet, a pasta kettle, a sauce pan¬†and a few random utensils that have probably gotten more action swatting flies than cooking dinner.

Oh wait! He does have a George Foreman Grill. I believe that this grill is a staple kitchen appliance that can be found in most bachelor pads. Likely purchased while cleaning up beer cans at 2:00 AM from Poker night, men are drawn to this machine by the magic that happens when meat is put over heat in and cooks to perfection in a 2.38 minute infommercial.

Jake also doesn’t have a mixer to make mashed potatoes, so he will be making Mashed¬†Baby Reds with the potato masher.¬†No worries, I’ve¬†texted him a picture so he can¬†find one in the Utensil Aisle at the grocery store while he is also hunting down a turkey baster.

Here’s where I fess up. PC’s mother makes really good instant mashed potatoes, and my instant potatoes suck.¬†Therefore…I make homemade. I’d love to teach Jake the easy way out, but PC says not to teach him how to make something that could be found in a glue factory. Believe you me; Colonel Sanders¬†can’t make mashed potatoes like PC’s mother. She’s made¬†Idaho Spuds¬†an art form.

Jake is at the grocery store as we speak, so for now I will say good night. He has promised, though in return for the advice, to share every dirty detail and to photograph his victory dinner¬†for us. Tune back later in the week to see how Dinner with Dad turns out…

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

Beat the Holiday Stress by saying Thank You

Happy Friday to you all! As we prepare for the Thanksgiving Holiday, do you feel¬†life¬†getting a little more stressful?¬†I sure do, but I think I found a way to ward of the evil spirits¬†of¬†stress, frustration¬†and anxiety. If you will allow me, I’ll share.

Last night, PC took me to the grocery store to pick up a few items for my son Cole’s 16th birthday. Needless to say – Festival Foods was a madhouse filled with people shopping for their Thanksgiving Feasts.

Using my shopping cart to cover my Offensive Line, I gingerly tried to lug my orthopedic boot through the aisles. Women were yelling in their cell phones about whether to serve turkey or ham. Young children were terrorizing their parents by playing hide & seek in the produce section. Most people were hurried to jump in the shortest line Рdamning every person in the way. Calling the store a war zone just about captures the atmosphere.

PC ran interference for me so I could grab only the necessities¬†for Cole’s Birthday dinner and his Turtle Cheesecake birthday cake. He unloaded¬†my cart for me¬†at the checkout, and he went to pull the car up to the curb. He kept me safe¬†while I tried to¬†survive a battle¬†that is hard to¬†fight with two good feet, and I only have one working for me right now.

Watching PC help me, I started to think about the sweet little things PC and I do for each other to make each day a little sunnier than the last. I would love to share an example with you, friends, with the hope that you also get the opportunity to appreciate the little things.

The best little thing that PC did for me this week was to come home. He has season tickets for the local college basketball team Рa tradition he has shared with his parents for many years before he met me. It is their ritual, and Ma and Pa love being able to spend this time with their oldest son.

Wednesday night, PC went to the game while Cole and I hung out at home. I had planned to watch a favorite show, Revenge, while PC was at the game. I turned the channel to ABC at 9:00. PC came through the door just in time to hear the theme song. He rushed in and sat with me to watch the show.

When I asked PC if UW Green Bay won the basketball game, he told me he left with 5 minutes still on the clock. He likes watching Revenge with me.

“Wow”, I thought to myself. I really did find a gem, and he really does love me. I know that this was such a small gesture, but it has a huge impact.¬†Imagine having someone think you are important enough to them that they would leave before the end of a game.¬†Saying thank you and seeing his smile¬†simply eased¬†my stress away.

I believe that I often overlook those little things. I know that people in my life do those sorts of things often for me. I need to appreciate the little things more. My goal is to remember to acknowledge and thank people Рwhether for an intentional act of kindness or simply some spur of the moment good deed. I need to just say thank you. It goes a long way.

And friends, if you are looking for a little something special to do for your special someone, I pack lunch for PC every day. He loves it.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee