Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Last year, I completely dropped the ball.  It was a perfect storm of late business travel, out-of-town guests coming in, Thanksgiving coming BEFORE, the fact that there was nothing in particular he wanted as a gift...

Still none of that is really an excuse for only half-assing my husband's birthday.  He was very good-natured about it...as he is about so many things.  And of course, he is not the birthday diva that I am.  We didn't FORGET his birthday or anything...but we didn't give it a whole lot of attention either.  The gifts he got were appreciated...but still a little "meh."...nothing there that really flipped his wig.  We were still stuffed from Thanksgiving, and had two refrigerators full of food, so we didn't do anything particularly special meal-wise either.

I was determined that this year, I would try to make up for all of that.

Even though he had to work on his special day...I had snuck out in the middle of the night to purchase freshly made Dunkin Donuts and place them with a sweet note in the passenger's seat of his car where he'd see them first thing.  I had already purchased his gifts ahead of time and got those all wrapped and ready.

One of them...a brand-spankin new iPhone 5s I had to go get ready for the change-out as soon as he had it opened (he needs to download his old busted 4 (no s) with his contacts and all before the hand over actually takes place).  But I got all of the paperwork and legwork done.

The other gift was a game for his new Xbox One system...and something the whole family will actually play together...a Lego game.  This one with the Marvel characters.  Very cool.

While he was at work, I set about making his very favorite dish of all time...spicy red clam sauce with linguine.

It came out perfectly.  I cheated a bit because I found the refrigerated noodles in the grocery store and went with those instead of home made...but it was DELISH...
The sauce isn't HARD to make, but it does take some time.  Abbreviated recipe:
sauté 8 garlic cloves and a two bay leaves in 2 Tbl olive oil.
remove garlic & leaves, add 1 cup of chopped onion to the olive oil.
chop the cooked garlic and return to the sauté-ing onion.

1 large can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1Tbl chopped basil (fresh is better, dried will do)
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper (cayenne)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
Another bay leaf

Drain 3 cans of chopped clams...put 1 cup of the juice into the sauce

bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer....simmer for 30ish minutes and then add the clams...simmer for another 15ish minutes.

chopped fresh parsley sprinkled on top if desired.  Jeff doesn't like, so I just have it to the side for whoever wants to sprinkle it on top after making their plate.

And because we aren't really cake people, I decided to make one of his favorite pies...a peanut butter pie:
I didn't think to take a picture before-hand...so this is after we murdered it.  The holes are where the candles were.  If you aren't from the South, you may not have ever had the wonder of an ice-box peanut butter pie.  It is heaven.  You take a cup of peanut butter, a cup of cream cheese, a cup of confectioner's sugar and a dash of vanilla and mix until smooth.  In another bowl, you make fresh whipped cream (1 1/2 cups whipping cream and a 1/4 cup sugar).  You fold the two together and put into a graham cracker crust (you can make your own...but the store bought tastes as good and is too easy to pass up).  Pop into the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  If you serve with coffee, you can reduce the probability of your guests dropping off into a coma after they eat it.  Otherwise, all bets are off.
After the meal, but before the presentation of gifts, the daughter decided that the whole house needed in on the festivities:

They are every bit as pissed off as you would imagine.  Maxx was at first thoroughly disgusted:

But later got a little violent over the fact that the daughter would NOT LET IT GO ALREADY:

You can't really tell in this picture, but the kiddo had decided that since Maxx didn't seem TOO affected, (the other cats all walked backward until they fell off the table and then continued to walk backward until they hit a wall, like they could somehow back out of the hats) she'd make him into a sort of feline-stega-bday-a-saurus and put pointy birthday hats all down his back...at which time he completely lost his patience and all of HIS pointy ends came out.  He was like a fluffy, festive chainsaw.  I told the kid that if I were her, I'd lock my door that night.

All-in-all, everyone agreed (MOST importantly the hubs) that we had a birthday success and that I had redeemed myself from the mediocre birthday celebration of last year.

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