Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Last Summer (of You and Me)

I'm going to start out this review by simply saying...this book is so good!  It's well worth the read and it's really not that long.

This story surrounds two sisters, Alice and Riley, who always spend the summer in a Fire Island summer home.  They've grown up in this summer home next door to their best friend, Paul.  Riley and Paul are the same age and have always been best buds.  Riley was always the headstrong, athletic sister that's "one of the boys."  Meanwhile, Alice has always been the younger, smart, pretty sister...who has also always had a crush on Paul.  Little does she know, that Paul has always felt the same way about her.  This the summer their attraction comes to a head.  Alice gives her virginity to Paul and the two begin a torrid love affair...but they don't tell anyone, not even Riley. 

One night changes all of this...Alice has snuck over to Paul's and an emergency alarm goes off with a helicopter coming to whisk them off to the mainland hospital.  Alice dismisses this as an old retired person probably having a heart attack or some such medical emergency.

In the morning, Alice discovers it was not an old was Riley.  Riley has a rheumatic heart problem and needs a new heart.  What's when you find out why.  So, how does a headstrong, athletic and seemingly healthy girl handle this?  By not telling anyone, of course.  Most especially not a childhood best friend.  Riley feels more comfortable with people who don't know because she doesn't feel pitied or mothered-henned...

Meanwhile...Paul feels that Alice has dumped him for no apparent reason.  She just up and left the island without even so much as a good-bye.  Will Paul eventually find out the truth? 

And will Riley get her new heart?

Read it and find out!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Scarlett Letter

As I've discussed previously, I like to have a rotation within my reading schedule.  I like to read in an order along the lines of fiction, nonfiction and classic.  The Scarlett Letter is one of those classic reads and was next on my rotation.  Everyone seems to know the general story...this adulterous tale details the life of Hester Prynne. 

The book opens with Hester being led from the small Puritan community's prison, carrying her small child...the product of an adulterous the town scaffold for the townspeople to ogle and judge.  Embroidered to Hester's bosom is a beautiful crafted letter "A" such fine detail that even some of the townswomen say it is too fine a punishment for her to wear.  Hester and her daughter, Pearl, settle on the outskirts of town in a small cottage where Hester makes a living embroidering.  Her work adorns the finest clothing and is even worn by the governor, but never that of a bride.

While Hester was being heckled on the scaffold, her husband finally comes to town...only to discover his wife being shamed.  Because he is a rather cold individual, he does not come to her rescue.  Rather, he introduces himself to the town as Roger Chillingworth and lets on as a doctor.  The town minister, Arthur Dimmesdale, comes down with apparent heart problems that appear to have a psychological twist.  Chillingworth attends to Dimmesdale closely.  Throughout the novel, Chillingworth begins to think that perhaps there is a link between Dimmesdale's sickness and Hester's secret...perhaps Dimmesdale was her lover.

You, the reader, know there is a link.  And near the end of the novel Dimmesdale and Hester decide to run away together so they can raise Pearl together and live as a family...but, Hester finds out that Chillingworth has purchased a ticket on the same ship.  They're foiled.  In the end of this debacle, Dimmesdale, after church that day, rises to the scaffold with Hester and Pearl...and confesses his sin.  Pearl then kisses her father...which she has refused to do before in the novel because he has not proclaimed them as his family despite her repeated request.  At this time, Dimmesdale's heart finally gives out and he dies.

Hester and Pearl leave town with no one knowing where they have gone.  Hester returns many years later, still wearing her scarlett "A" and returns to her work.  Pearl is rumored to have married an aristocrat and begun a family of her own.  Pearl also inherits Chillingworth's fortune, even though she is not his daughter.  Later, Hester dies of old age and the town buries her aside Dimmesdale.  The two share a single decorated with the letter "A."

This book was...OK.  I have to say it just wasn't my favorite.  I can understand that it was shocking in it's time and that it tackles some difficult subjects.  It just didn't grab me and I didn't enjoy the character development or plot line.  Just my two cents!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Art of Racing In The Rain

The Art of Racing In The Rain tells the story of a family from a different point of view...from the dog's perspective.  Enzo tells his life story along with the lives of his owner, Denny, as well as Denny's wife and daughter. 

Enzo has learned most everything he knows from television programs ranging from National Geographic to Nickelodeon.  Of course, the majority of what he knows revolves around race cars because Denny is an amateur race car driver...which is where the title of the novel comes from.  Denny is an expert at racing in the rain and he shares his secrets with Enzo. 

One television program in particular caught Enzo's that states that if a dog is ready, when they die they get to be reincarnated as a human.  After Enzo has done everything he knows to keep his family happy and intact...he's sure he's ready. 

This book discusses a couple of heavy subjects, the death of Denny's wife and the subsequent custody battle between Denny and his daughter's maternal grandparents.  These battles are shared in the way only a dog could understand them. 

And at the end...does Enzo get reincarnated?  You'll have to read the book to find out!

I really enjoyed this book.  A bit teary towards the end, but totally worth it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Her Mother's Hope

Her Mother's Hope is a two-book saga that chronicles mother and daughter stories within two generations.  I think this would be an excellent mother-daughter reading discussion!

This book begins in Marta's young life, the daughter of a poor tailor and seamstress in Switzerland.  While she has a horrible relationship with her father, Marta is extremely close to her mother and little sister.  As Marta grows up, her mother encourages her to do and be all that she can be, even though Marta's father is determined to squash whatever hopes and dreams she might have...which include completing school and going on to college.  Both Marta's mother and little sister are much weaker-spirited than her and while Marta is away tragedies occur that prevent her from coming home (and to their aid).

Guilt-ridden Marta moves on with her life.  Throughout the bulk of the first half of this book you learn about Marta's young adulthood, traveling around the world and becoming the strong-willed woman she embodies.  A lot of her ferocity and desire for life is due to her younger home-life...her aspiration to be unlike her father and stronger than her mother.

The second part of this book begins to chronicle the life of Hildie, Marta's oldest daugther.  Even though they look very much alike, Hildie is very different from her mother...she is much more soft-spoken and has a heart to serve others.  Marta is afraid this is a sign of weakness and is abhorred that Hildie will have the same fate as Marta's mother and sister.  So, Marta is determined to give Hildie "tough love" so this does not happen.  All the while, Hildie has no idea why her mother appears to favor her siblings....buying them whatever their hearts desire, while refusing to help Hildie in her dream to become a nurse.  In the end, Hildie runs off to become a nurse anyway...and meets the love of her life.  Through all of this, none of Marta's children ever know where she came from, why she is the way she is or why she treats each of them the way she does...especially Hildie.

This book concludes with Marta discovering that Hildie might, perhaps, not understand her mother's intentions all this time...and is dreading the idea that Hildie might feel the same way about her that Marta felt about her father.  Of course, this was never Marta's intent...

The sequel to this two-part story is Her Daughter's Dream...  I absolutely loved this book and I cannot wait to finish this story!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Anna Karenina

Some of you that have followed my blog for a while may have noticed that I was reading a certain book for a long time.  It stayed on my little bookshelf to the side of the blog...and stayed...and stayed.  Part of this was because it was a very large book...736 pages to be small print.  And part of it was because I was reading this book like you might sip a very fine wine.  A little bit at a time.  And then, like magic, last week it disappeared from my shelf.  That book was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.  And I'm now getting around to writing a review of it.

Anna Karenina was originally published in installments gradually from 1873 through 1877.  Tolstoy considered this his first novel, even though War & Peace had been published in 1869...this is because Tolstoy considered War & Peace more than a novel.  There have been numerous critics that, after reading his work, consider Tolstoy the greatest novelist of all time.

The basic plot of this book surrounds Anna Karenina having an affair with Count Vronsky.  There are numerous other characters whose lives you learn much about...each having a very important role in how the story plays itself out.  A parallel to Anna's story is that of Konstantin Levin...which upon doing some research, appears to have been somewhat of a model after Tolstoy's own life.

While I was reading this book it seemed like everyone was saying to me, "You're reading Anna Karenina?  Why?  It's such a depressing book!"  With everyone telling me that, I wasn't surprised at the ending...I could kind of see it coming.  And for those of you who might still want to read it, I won't ruin it for you if you don't know.  Just please, don't get too attached to any one character...

As for my review of this book...I liked it.  I might not have if I had not known about the "depressing" part of it, but since I was braced for a let-down it didn't really surprise me.  Tolstoy is very descriptive and there were times when I really enjoyed it...and there were times I didn't.  For instance, there is a section of the book where Levin goes on and on about his farming techniques.  Not my favorite subject.  But, there are times when Tolstoy spends about three pages describing a location and what a character is thinking and feeling at the time.  You have no doubt as to what the surrounds the character and the mood they're's almost like you're transplanted into that time and place.  I would recommend this book, but I would also say to brace yourself for how it turns out.  While the writing style is well woven and the character development is intense, there is still sadness throughout.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto

The Pioneer Woman strikes again.  I made her sun-dried tomato risotto a little while ago and thought it was great.  If it were just me, this would be an excellent main dish with a small salad, perhaps.  Though with David, the meat-eater, it's a great side.  It wasn't his favorite, mostly because this is definitely what I consider "chick food."  It takes a bit to make, but it's worth it!

 Yum, for her recipe and step-by-step instructions, click here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crab and Corn Bisque

I saw this recipe on Souffle Bombay the other day.  David and I are huge seafood people and corn is his favorite veggie.  It took me less than a minute to decide that I needed to try this recipe.  Now, while David loves seafood and corn...he also is very anti-soup for a meal.  When he came home and saw this was for dinner, he was less than thrilled...even after I told him what was in it.  That is...until he took his first bite.  He gave this soup an A+ and said it eats like a meal.  From such an anti-souper, that's a HUGE compliment.  I'll definitely be making this again soon...just waiting on a nice and cold winter day...

Crab and Corn Bisque
(adapted from Souffle Bombay who adapted from Emeril)

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onions
2 tbsp minced shallots
1 cup fresh corn (I used frozen)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup chicken or seafood stock
2 bay leaves
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp old bay seasoning (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp paprika
A few shakes of garlic powder, onion salt and red pepper
2 tbsp flour
16 oz jumbo lump crab meat (I used two 6 oz. cans of crab meat-it was already shredded)
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

In a large pot saute your onions, shallots, corn and garlic in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add in the stock, bay leaves and bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes. Add in the milk, cream and seasonings and heat through but do not bring to a boil.

Take out about 3 tablespoons or so of the broth and whisk with 2 tbsp of flour to make a roux. Slowly whisk it back into your soup to get the consistency you would like.

Add in the crab and Worcestershire sauce, heat through and serve.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Crystal's Pumpkin Bread

Remember how easy to make my banana bread recipe is?  Well, my pumpkin bread recipe is just as easy!  Try 'er on out!  David's been loving this for the past month, I was making my third and fourth loaves upon his request when I snapped the pics in this post.

Pumpking Bread

In a large bowl mix:

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
2/3 cup pumpkin
1/4 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp water

In another bowl mix:

1 cup and 3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients.  Mix together. 

Pour into greased loaf plan.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.  The bread is done when you insert a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean. 

Can we say yum?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crystal's Classic Crust

I have had numerous upon numerous requests for my pie crust recipe and I'm finally revealing it.  I'm not sure why it took me this long to share it, but without further ado...

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
3 tbsp cold butter
2-4 tbsp ice-cold water

Combine flour and salt in large bowl; mix well.  Cut shortening and butter into flour mixture using a pastry blender.  This part right here is the secret of the entire recipe and why crusts can come our inconsistently.  It is extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely important that you stand there and cut the shortening and butter into the flour mixture until you have one consistent mixture.  You should not be able to tell the difference between the butter, shortening or flour mixture.  It should have it's own for-sure consistency...crumbly is my best description.  This is what mine looks like.

Notice there's no white or yellow?  It's all the same color and crumbly consistency.

Now, you sprinkle 1 tbsp of water over the flour mixture, gently toss with a fork.  Repeat until mixture is moist enough to form a ball.  Tip: the water is supposed to be ice-cold so before I start mixing the dough above, I pour a glass of ice water on the counter and then when I'm ready it's sitting there for me, nice and chilly.  I usually only have to add 2 tbsp of water to get the dough to form a ball, but there have been times I've used more.   Only add just enough water to form the ball, not too much.

Gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly.  Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.  Do not skimp on this time frame, 20 minutes does not equal 30 minutes.  You can definitely refrigerate longer, just don't shorten this time frame.

Now your ready to roll out your dough!  Flour a pastry mat, then place dough on top.  Cover dough with a little more flour and roll it out to desired pie plate size.  Be sure and use enough flour so the dough does not stick to your rolling pin.  Also, the less you physically touch the dough, the better.

Like my marble rolling pin?  My mom bought it for me at an estate sale, love it!

Alright, once you are ready to place your crust into your plate, fold the dough in half and place plate close by.  [Sidenote: I also always spray my pie plate so the crust won't stick later.]  This makes the crust easier to lift and transport.  Carefully lift crust and place in plate.  You will probably have to do a little reconstruction work.  Don't worry or get frustrated, that's OK!  Work your way around the edge and make sure your crust is even all the way around.  You might have to remove taller sections and place them in shorter sections.  The more crusts you make, the more even you'll learn to roll it out and the less of this you'll have to do. 

The crinkle part of crust-making was always part of what intimidated me.  I've seen David's mom and my own grandmother do this differently...but, this is the way David taught me.  Shocked that my husband taught me how?  What can I say, his mom brought him up right.  Place the biggest knuckle on your forefinger on the crust and then use your thumb and forefinger on the other hand to place the crinkle around your knuckle.  Continue doing this all the way around the plate, it only takes about a minute and makes such a difference in the presentation!

And VOILA!  Here's what the whole thing will look like prior to cooking.

Place a yummy filling in prior or post baking (depends on the pie your making).  Tip: if you're making a cream pie where you bake the pie crust separately...poke the dickens out of the pie crust with a fork (throughout the entire bottom and sides) prior to baking.  I made this crust into a tasty pumpkin pie with the recipe I shared last month.  Try both of these recipes for Christmas.  You won't regret it! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Michael J. Fox: Part Two - Always Looking Up

You guys remember me sharing with you Lucky Man, Michael J. Fox's first memoir?  David and I both loved it and especially enjoyed the fact that the audiobook was read by the man himself. 

On our last trip to Kansas City (go Chiefs!!) David and I listened to Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.  The first book outlines Fox's life through 2003.  Always Looking Up was published last year and is supposed to bring you "up-to-date" on Fox's life within the past decade, which it does well. 

The first thing in this book that caught my attention and I laughed at was the title.  Fox meant this both figuratively and literally when he picked it...always looking up.  Coming from a man who is much shorter than the average Joe...well, at least he can laugh at himself.  Being a comedian and all, that probably comes naturally, at least in some aspects. 

This book is written in a way so that those that have not read Lucky Man are caught up to speed.  There was a little bit of redundancy if you've read the first, but not overly much.  Fox discusses his attempts to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson's throughout the past 5-8 years as well as the politics of this feat.  Campaigning for different political figures is discussed due to the need for stem cell research.  While stem cell research is something I have a definite opinion on (which I will not disclose since this is a politic-free blog), at this point in the read my eyes might have gone a little glassy since I'm not big into politics.

In another section of the book, Fox discusses how there is some talk of him playing up his disease and that perhaps he's "faking it" to tug on the heartstrings of America.  This was proclaimed by a rather famous person...and I was more than a little disgusted. 

Many more detailed accounts of Fox's life and how he remains optimistic still are found in this book.  While I enjoyed this book, I will say that I enjoyed Lucky Man more.  Why?  While this book is well-written it is not read like a novel as Lucky Man was.  However, I do still highly recommend it!  This set of books would make an excellent Christmas gift if you're looking for something in this genre...I'm just sayin'.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Remember Me?

I've been a bad blogger...I teased you with my pie crust recipe and then didn't deliver.  Between the holidays and a certain special reason...I do have an excuse...but I can't share just yet what the special reason might be.  Let's just say that big things are getting ready to happen for David and myself.  Stay tuned for details...they will be coming soon.  And I promise, I will be posting my crust recipe later this week so you'll get a chance to try it for your extra special Christmas meal.

In the meantime, here is my latest book review...

Remember Me? is a cute romantic story about an amnesiac who tries to piece her life back together when she loses three years worth of her memory.  The last thing that Lexi Smart remembers is going out with her girlfriends the night before her father's funeral back in 2004.  She wakes to perfect teeth, straight hair, a thinner body, a Louis Vuitton bag along with a wedding ring that'd knock someone out...complete with a multi-millionaire, gorgeous husband.  Lexi thinks to herself WHAT HAPPENED over these past three years?

Once released from the hospital Lexi tries to live her day-to-day life...or what is supposed to be her new day-to-day life.  And slowly it comes out that this new life...even though Lexi is now beautiful and rich...isn't quite as peachy as it looks...complete with betrayal and back-stabbing.

This was a cute little novel that was a nice break from some heavier reading I've done recently.  It was very predictable, but I still enjoyed it.  If you're looking for a sweet, light read then I would definitely recommend.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Pie

I am normally a total "back of the can" or "back of the box" recipe kinda girl.  And I guess you could say this one is a "back of the can" recipe...even though I searched for it on the internet...  Last weekend my mother-in-law and I were wanting to make a pumpkin pie and I had everything in the house except the evaporated milk.  If you have ever read and/or used the back of the Libby's pumpkin can recipe, then you know evaporated milk is one of the necessary ingredients.  Who wants to go to the grocery store for ONE item?  Seriously?  No one. 

What did I have in my pantry that miiiight work?  Eagle Brand.  You know that super yummy sweetened condensed milk...mmmm...  So, I looked on the Eagle Brand website for their recipe for pumpkin pie.  And we made it.  And it was awesome.  Tasted just like the Libby's recipe.  If you're like me and forget to purchase evaporated milk this holiday season...or if ::gasp:: your grocery store is out of it, try this recipe.  It's quite good!

P.S. I've had quite a few requests for my pie crust recipe...I'll reveal this early next week so you can try it out for Thanksgiving!

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin (about 2 cups)

1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust

Heat oven to 425°F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust.
Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F; bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1-inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired.

My Name Is Memory

This past weekend I finished My Name Is Memory, by Ann Brashares.  I had been looking forward to reading this for months and it did not disappoint.

This is a love story that transcends generations and lives.  Daniel remembers his past lives each and every time.  In every life Daniel finds his "Sophia" and his love for her grows more yet, even though she never remembers him.  Within this book the two get closer than they have in the 1,200 years they have both lived.

In this life, Sophia is reborn as Lucy and in her high school years Lucy feels this unexplainable yearning to be near Daniel.  The couple goes through a series of near misses through their early adulthood, but in the end...even though they are thwarted by a previous life's nemesis (the former brother of Daniel and husband of Sophia)...the two find each other. 

This is very much a typical, sweet, slightly-predictable love story.  Very light reading and Brashares left it wide open for a sequel.  If I were giving it a grade, I would give it a solid "B."

Friday, November 12, 2010

False Victim

I've been absent recently and I apologize...but, I'm baaaaack!  My life has been super crazy busy lately and although that's no excuse to not blog...well, that's my excuse.  Moving along to my mostly recently finished book...

False Victim is a book based upon a true story that actually happened to the author, Kathie Truitt.  Julie, the main character in the book, moves to Washington DC with her family and quickly makes work of settling into the neighborhood and her new life.  However, her neighbor, Lynn, has other plans...Lynn begins to copy everything Julie does...and begins to stalk Julie, but Lynn makes it out to appear the opposite...and it gets right down scary when Julie ends up charged with attempted murder. 

Quite a few girls in my book fact, I think almost all of them...have read this book.  Most of them absolutely loved it.  When I finished this book, my in-laws were in town and I had my mother-in-law read it as well because she had just finished the book she had brought.  It's a very quick read with short chapters and relatively large print.  I had read the whole thing in two sittings. 

While I can't say I enjoyed this book, it was definitely a page-turner.  I don't really think you can enjoy a book where someone is slowly being tortured, stalked and victimized.  You literally want to keep reading just so you know what crazy episode is going to happen next.  Donna, my MIL, even looked at me halfway through the book and said, "You know, this is a really depressing book!"  It's hard to believe that the police weren't catching on to what was going on.  Scary to think that this kind of stuff really does happen!

The book has a very real ending and I appreciated that...though, I wished things could have turned out for the better in both women's cases.  My favorite line (and Donna's) in the book was when Rick, Lynn's husband, comes to Julie in the end apologizing and saying something to the effect of, "She's my wife and I love her." Julie responds with, "If you truly loved her, you would have gotten her help a long time ago."  How true.

I would definitely recommend this book.  As a general rule, I'm a person that keeps to myself and doesn't normally open up to new friends for a period of time.  And what's funny is that some of my closest friends are the same way.  Very private people, until a certain level of trust is earned.  While I don't recommend being a hermit or recluse, this book validates my thoughts that while most people are generally's best to keep your guard up because you never know.  And also, always trust your gut.  If you're getting a negative vibe from someone, there's probably a reason why.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Michael J. Fox, Part One - Lucky Man

I love 80s movies and one of my favorites is the Back To The Future trilogy.  Of course, after watching this as a child I decided that I had to see everything Michael J. Fox was in.  His character, Marty McFly, was so likable and Fox was such a good actor. 

I never was hooked on Fox as Alex P. Keaton...mostly because I was one of the few people that never watched Family Ties.  I know, I'm weird.  Or maybe it's the fact that the show ran from 1982 until 1989 and I was everything from a toddler to a grade-schooler in that time?  Perhaps that's a good reason...

Regardless, I decided that my next nonfiction set of books should be Fox's memoirs.  Here's the first one, Lucky Man.  David and I listened to this audiobook on our last trip to Kansas City to watch the Chiefs game. 

David was really not excited to listen to this audiobook, but quickly got "in" to it after a few short chapters.  The book outlines Fox's life through 2003.  Everything from Family Ties to Back to the Future to Spin City is discussed as well as his parents, his wife and children and even his drinking binges... 

The book starts out with Fox waking up to his first morning of the beginnings of Parkinson's.  This being an uncontrollably trembling pinkie finger after a night out on the town with Woody Harrelson.  From there Fox flashes back outlining how he became the person he currently was and gradually moves forward from that point throughout the book.  The book ends with Fox determined to find a cure for Parkinson's within the next decade.

I thought this was a very well-written memoir and I can't wait to read his second, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist.  It might be a bit...David has insisted on listening to it with me as well, so it's saved for our next roadtrip.  Be looking for part two of this post!

P.S. Fox has released another book recently (this year) that's titled A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future.  This might be a good read too!

PW BBQ/Comfort Meatballs

I recently tried out a Pioneer Woman recipe and just want to share how fabulous it was.  David is a big fan of BBQ meatballs and when I said I was making PW's Comfort Meatballs his first question was, "Are they BBQ?"  Of course, when I said "No, according to the recipe they're called 'comfort meatballs'." David immediately came back with, "I prefer my meatballs uncomfortable."  Hardy har har. 

I'll give you a moment to recover from my husband's sense of humor.

Better now?

It turns out, these taste like BBQ and when I went to snip the link off her website, they're called BBQ meatballs.  So, if you have her cookbook, look for 'Comfort Meatballs' and if you look on her website, look for "BBQ Meatballs.'  Same great recipe.  These will definitely be a repeat around this house.  Here's the link.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ghosts Among Us

In my book club, I am being inundated with everyone's favorite books.  This book is one that a few of the girls absolutely love, so it was lovingly forced upon me. 

I'm one of those people that doesn't know what to think about ghosts or the supernatural.  I have instances where I think, "OK, maaaaaybe that could be a ghost" and then other times I'm like, "No way, that's rubbish."  But, I don't have a very strong feeling in either direction.  Sure, I'd love to think that our loving relatives are still with us, but I'm just not convinced.  I guess that's because I'm one of those people that have to see something to believe it.  And ghosts aren't (at least, typically) visible.

This book was very interesting and written like a manual of sorts.  I found the stories entertaining and, for the most part, uplifting.  I'm still unsure how I feel about ghosts, in general, but if they are least now I have more in depth knowledge!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr. Pepper Cake

I finally made it.  This is one of those recipes that has sat in my recipe book for weeks...or maybe months.  But, I just haven't had an occasion to give it a whirl.  We had a "food day" at work a few weeks ago and I decided that was a good enough reason. 

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this cake is more like fudge than a cake...with a little crispiness to the icing.  It was great.  And did I mention it tastes nothing like Dr. Pepper?  I think that was what deterred me from trying it sooner...being that David and I don't drink pop.  Of any sort.  I know, we're weird like that. 

You should try it...for the recipe please click here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pasta Bake

I do believe we have a new Dave's Fave in the house!  I made this a week or so ago and David has already asked if I'm going to be making this dish again.  It's so easy.  And sooooo good.

BBQ Chicken Pasta Bake
from How Sweet It Is

4-5 ounces boneless chicken breast, shredded
3 cups cooked whole wheat pasta
1/4ish cup BBQ sauce
1 small red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup milk
Shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare pasta and shredded chicken and set aside. In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sliced onions.  Cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes. During this time, combine shredded chicken with 2-3 tablespoons bbq sauce. Once onions are caramelized, set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour to create a roux. Immediately add milk and turn down to low heat. Add a small amount of cheese and stir until cheese is melted and mixture thickens – about 2-3 minutes.

In the casserole dish, alternate layering pasta, bbq chicken, and onions. Add cheese mixture about 1-2 tablespoons at a time, throughly mixing to act like glue and hold the pasta together. Top with additional cheese sauce, remaining shredded cheese, BBQ sauce drizzles and bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, October 18, 2010


In the book club I have recently joined, we don't read the same thing each month.  Instead, each girl brings whatever books they have read that month and we take turns sharing the books and lending out the really good ones.  This way the "duds" get discarded and you don't waste as much time (and money) on so-so books.  I love this about my book club and have read some books that I have really enjoyed.  Plus, I've lent out some of my favorites.  Currently, my favorite book of all time is on it's first rotation, The Thirteenth Tale.  If you haven't read it yet...well, you should.

Fallen is a book that was rotated to me by my friend, Natalie.  She really liked it and wanted to get this series started amongst our club.  I read this book in a little under three days.  Partly because the print is very large and partly because it is a young adult novel, targeted at teeny boppers.  Needless to say, it was a quick and easy peasy read.  I enjoyed and am looking forward to reading the second installment, Torment.

The basic gist of the story is that Luce, the protaganist, is sent to the reform school of Sword & Cross.  You learn the reason why Luce is there has to do with the suspicious death of her prior love interest.  Daniel Grigori, Luce's new love interest at Sword & Cross, treats her with disdain and irritation.  Yet, she can't keep her mind off of this fate?  Why is she constantly compelled to be around him and if she's not, think of him?  You begin to understand why at the end of the story...

I felt that this story was a cross between Twilight and perhaps Angelology?  Others have told me that it has a My Name is Memory twist to it as well.  I haven't read that yet, but perhaps...I currently have that one borrowed as well, so I'll be writing a review on it soon!  Although, this book is not as well written as the two mentioned above (storyline-wise) I do admit that I enjoyed it and look forward to Torment!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Marley and Me

I've done a lot of reading recently.  Can you tell?  Either that or I'm horribly behind on blogging...hmmm...maybe it's a little of both!

Like I normally do, I went to Half-Price Books a while back and was looking for some good audio-books.  This one, Marley and Me, jumped out at me.  I know it was made into a movie...and it's a tear jerker...and it's the last thing a dog-lover like me needs to read.  Unless you want a good cry.  My mom had watched the movie and when I said I was going to buy the book she asked, "Why?  You know how it ends and it's soooo not worth it."  She balled at the movie, obviously.

When I was nine, my mom and I bought my stepdad a birthday present...a puppy.  A westie puppy, we named Ruffles.  And prior to my mom watching this movie my nineteen year old lovely little "sister" had died.  It was hard on all of us.  The last couple years of her life Ruffles couldn't see or hear anything.  In the end, when she was put to was best.  She wasn't suffering anymore.

My mom had already told me that this book ended similarly, so I was prepared. 

There was a section at the end of the book I related to greatly.  John comes up behind Marley and starts talking to him while Marley is devouring the remains of grilled cheese sandwiches on the kitchen table.  Marley doesn't hear anything until the very end of the scene, then drops to the floor completely taken by surprise.  I don't know how many times I went to pick up Ruffles her last year or so of life and she started like a bomb was going off next to her when she felt my hands on her ribs.  It broke my heart. 

But, truly dogs are one of the more wonderful creatures in this world.  And this book tells it perfectly.  Dogs are never without flaws.  They'll be destructive, eat the most inconvenient items, cause you to procure vast vet bills...but, in the end...the loyalty, love and devotion they provide you's so much more than worth it!

Needless to say, I LOVED this book.  Ending and all.  But, I still think I'll pass on the movie.  I had a good enough cry with the book.

I'll leave you with my favorite quote from the book...

"Animal lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit, full of empathy, perhaps a little prone to sentimentality, and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky."

Breaking Dawn

I have officially finished the Twilight series!  And I have to say that I love, love, loved them!  In the beginning, I was one of those people.  I didn't want to read about vampires nor did I want to read some teeny bopper series.  But, in the end my arm was twisted, I was wrestled to the ground...and it was forced upon me. 

When I first read Twilight, I literally wanted to get my red pen out and start making corrections to grammar...but, I will admit that the way the story is woven and develops...that makes it totally worth reading through the grammatical errors and redundant vocabulary.  Plus, New Moon wasn't as bad...and I hardly noticed errors by the time I got to Eclipse and Breaking Dawn.  I think Meyer got a better editor.

Throughout the series, I have been a Jacob fan...always a loyal member of Team Jacob.  In Breaking Dawn he did annoy me a couple times with his whining, but in the end I'm happy with how the situation turned out.  There were definitely a couple times that I was thinking, "Seriously, is this really happening?!"  Totally thinking that the story was going south.  But, little did I know that Stephanie Meyer had it all figured out.  She went from left field, all the way to right field and then came back home...literally wrapping everything up in a big, fat bow...then, she even plopped a cherry on top!  I loved it and will definitely be reading through the entire series again before the first installment of the Breaking Dawn movie comes out next year. 

I can't wait!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Football Food

It's that time of year, when pigskin and snacky foods encompass many individuals' Saturdays...and even some week nights.  This past Saturday was one of the biggest games around here, OU/Texas (insert upside down horns symbol here).  David and I had some friends over and here are the two scrumptious dip recipes I made for our lovely guests.  Try these for your next football game get-together!

Southwest Corn Dip (modified from Tasty Kitchen recipe)

2 cups frozen corn
1 can chopped chilies, drained
2 anaheim peppers, chopped
1 can black beans
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 cup sour cream
8 oz. finely shredded mexican-blend cheese
fresh cilantro, chopped (to taste)

Drain chilies and black beans (rinse beans and drain a few times). In a large bowl combine corn, chilies, peppers, black beans, bell pepper, and scallions.  Mix well.  Stir in the sour cream and grated cheese. Add the cilantro last.

Refrigerate before serving.

Serve with Fritos Scoops, yum!

I'm going to be honest...this next dip was the big hit and it was sooooo...stinkin'....easy....peasy!!  And I'm not posting a pic because, as Jessica said in her blog, this is one ugly dip.  Good...but ugly.

Chili Dip (from How Sweet It Is)

1-8oz block of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups chili
1 1 /2 cups shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 375.

In a bowl, mix cream cheese, 3/4 cup chili, and 3/4 cup cheddar cheese. Spread in dish. Top with remaining chili and cheese. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with chips and enjoy!

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Million Little Pieces

I recently finished A Million Little Pieces.  And I'm not really sure where to start with this book.  This book was originally published as a memoir...non-fiction.  It was written to capture James Frey's experiences as an addict and his treatment through an alcohol and drug treatment facility.  It has received a ton of acclaim and even became an "Oprah's Book Club" book.  After that it sold like crazy, just as any book with that classification would. 

After a while certain people started to question Frey's honesty because the story is very extreme.  So there were investigations made into the background of his story.  It didn't take long to figure out that some of the more "interesting" aspects of his memoir were...incorrect...fabricated...made-up.

Frey came forward and admitted that some of the more scandalous sections of the novel were perhaps a loose portrayal of what actually happened.  Because of this, sometimes the novel is classified as a memoir...other times it's classified as fiction.  Take your pick...

As for my opinion on the book...I'm split.  I'll start off by saying that it is extremely harsh with vivid descriptions and rough language.  Many have said that they don't like Frey's writing style and that it was hard to relate to him.  I can see this, but at the same time there was instances where I could definitely see why he acted the way he did. 

This book is not for the faint at heart.  If this type of topic interests you and you're mentally prepared to read  the "f" word a lot and hear graphic details...go for it.  Otherwise, it might be a good idea to simply shelf this one.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blueberry Buckle

Some of my wedding gifts included recipe books. Recipe books that hold all sorts of yummy, tasty, delicious treats. In one of these wonderful books, I have already discovered a "Dave's Fave."  That recipe came from this book...

I've made this coffee cake a couple times already and David loves it for his breakfast through the work week.  One recipe lasts the entire week perfectly...that is, if you don't have a slice for dessert at dinner one or two nights like we have...  The recipe also states that you can use raspberries, which I'm definitely going to try the next time raspberry season comes around.  In fact, most "berries" would probably turn out pretty well with this recipe.

Try it, try it, try it!  OK, I'll stop chanting now...but, it is really good.

Blueberry Buckle

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9x9x2-inch or 8x8x2-inch baking pan (with Pam); set aside. 

In a medium bowl combine the 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the 3/4 cup sugar.  Beat on medium to high speed until light and fluffy.  Add egg; beat well.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk to beaten egg mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.

Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with blueberries. 

In another bowl combine the 1/2 cup flour, the 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon.  Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle over blueberries.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden.

Cool slightly; serve warm.

408 calories, 17g total fat (6g saturated fat), 38mg cholesterol, 247mg sodium, 58g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 5g protein

Monday, September 27, 2010

PB & J

This past weekend was a whirlwind for me considering I had birthday after birthday after birthday to celebrate!  Just to give you an idea, this past week (within a two day period) was my dad's, grandmother's, niece's and mother-in-law's birthday.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg! 

On Saturday morning was Abbey's sixth birthday party.  Abbey is my friend (and matron of honor) Susan's daughter and for her party there were sandwiches served.  One of the sandwich flavors was the good ol' PB&J.  The night before the party Susan and Amanda (my maid of honor) prepared all the sandwiches for the following day.  They did this so that we had that much less to prepare immediately prior to the arrival of a dozen hyper little girls...

I was not informed of what took place during this preparation time until the following evening, when the three of us were enjoying some cold beverages.  Apparently, Amanda prepares PB&J sandwiches differently than either Susan or myself.  Now, I know there's more than one way to skin a cat (pardon the Southern saying), but how do you make a PB&J?

Here are the three ways we discussed that are all acceptable ways for PB&J preparation...or are they?? 

A.  Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread.  Spread jelly on another slice of bread.  Place peanut buttered slice on top of jellied slice (not the other way because the jelly might slide off bread as your flipping depending on consistency of jelly).

B. Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread.  Spread jelly on top of peanut butter.  Place bare slice of bread on top of peanut butter and jelly-covered slice.

C. Get out a bowl and spoon.  Dump some peanut butter in bowl.  Dump some jelly in bowl with peanut butter and stir.  Spread PB&B mixutre on a slice of bread.  Cover with another slice of bread.

I'll go ahead and share that my normal protocol is option A...that's probably why it's option A, because it's the first one I thought of. 

Thoughts?  Do you have an even more interesting or efficient way to make a PB&J?

By the way, yes, this is what late 20s/early 30s women talk about on a Saturday night.  What of it?  ::wink::

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I started this book on Thursday the 9th...and by the time I had join my book club this past Friday night, I had read just over half of this book, which has a total of 452 pages.  Then, when I got up on Saturday I read...and read...and read...and read some more.  I finished the rest of this book within 36 hours.  With that being said, obviously this is one of those books that once you get "into it" you have to finish it. 

The basis for the storyline in this novel is a couple of scriptures from the Bible. Twice within the Bible the "Nephilim" are referred to and Angelology takes these pieces of scriptures and runs with them...and weaves them into a very captivating plot. 

The Nephilim are supposedly the offspring of fallen angels who have mated with human women.  These Nephilim are a "master race," which when the term is loosely translated means "giant."  They are taller, more beautiful, stronger and live longer than the typical human.  Not only that, they're unfeeling, emotionless and mean with a desire to rule the world.  They have no regard for human life and murder people regularly.  Angelologists (in this book only-there are real angelologists, but they don't have the same functions as within this book) are humans that study angels and the Nephilim trying to stop the Nephilim from their "evil ways" including taking over the world. 

Now, knowing that small bit of background information...Evangeline is really who this book is about, but you don't really "get" that until the end of the book.  The story starts with her and finishes with her.  You learn about how she joins the convent she belongs to in the beginning of the novel and how her life is a calm day-to-day schedule of prayer and church duty.  Then, a young gentlemen, named Verlaine, shows up with an inquiry about the contents of her library and Evangeline's life is turned upside down.  Angelology is a part of Evangeline before she even knows it...and that's only the beginning. 

This book has a very intricate storyline with a lot of background information that you receive up until about 2/3 of the way through the novel.  And then you get to the guts of the book...and then you can't put it down.  I will say there were a couple of twists and turns that I kinda saw coming, but not to their full extent.  There was definitely a few instances within this book that my jaw simply dropped open.  I loved it and would definitely recommend this book!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Basic Pizza Crust and BBQ Chicken Pizza

I had clipped/saved these two recipes a while back, but just haven't had a chance to get to them.  And I needed to because homemade pizza is wonderful. 

Another reason, though?  When I moved in with David there were four bottles of BBQ sauce in the fridge.  One bottle has since been used up, but when I made this pizza there were still three.  Three half empty BBQ sauce bottles.  In my fridge.  Taking up space.  Can you tell this grinded on my nerves?  I only had one bottle that I contributed.  Why did David have three bottles?  Maybe he feels like a different flavor from time to time?  They were all different brands...  I don't know.  Regardless, this recipe has helped me dwindle that number down to two bottles.  Two because I made this pizza twice.  What?  The crust recipe makes two crusts.  And it was a good pizza.  So I made it twice.  Yum.

I printed both of these recipes off the Pioneer Woman website...big shocker there, I know.  And have I mentioned that David's mother prefers the PW pizza crust to her own?  Wow.  I had to try it...soon.

Let's begin with the crust...

Basic Pizza Crust
(PW Version)

1 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast (I used active)1 1/2 cup warm water
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water. Let stand for a few minutes.

In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with bread hook attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined.  The dough will come together in a sticky mass.

Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it aside for 1 to 2 hours, or store in the fridge until you need it.

Note: it's best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.  (I made my dough and baked the first pizza 2 days after making the dough, then the second pizza exactly a week later.  Both crusts came out perfectly!)

When you are ready to make the pizza, grab HALF the pizza dough (recipe makes 2 crusts) and squeeze the dough toward the bottom to form a nice, tight, pulled ball. You can roll out the pizza with a rolling pin if you'd like, but sometimes it's just as easy to throw it around and pull and stretch till it feels right. And when the crust is nice and thin, lay it on an oiled baking sheet or pizza pan (I spread mine on a round pizza stone). Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and spread it with your fingers. Very lightly sprinkle some salt on the crust.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
(slightly altered from the PW original)

1/2 recipe for pizza crust (half of recipe listed above)
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 6 tenderloins the first go-around)
approximately 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
olive oil
approximately 16 ounces, weight fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
1/2 red onion, sliced very thin

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Salt chicken breasts on both sides, then place in an ovenproof dish. Pour BBQ sauce over the breasts and turn them over to coat. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done.

While chicken is baking, stretch out pizza crust. Lay it on a pizza stone drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle a little olive oil on the crust.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of BBQ sauce on the crust and spread it evenly. Top sauce with half the sliced mozzarella. Sprinkle on thinly sliced red onion.

Remove chicken from oven.  Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

Dice the chicken into small cubes.

Top pizza with the cubed chicken, then the rest of the sliced mozzarella.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Cut into slices and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Lost Symbol

I have now officially read all of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon stories.  Honestly, I can't wait for them to make this one into a movie.  It wasn't my favorite of the lot, in fact if I had to rank them accordingly I would say The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol and then Angels and Demons.  At the same time, I think that with the storyline of this book with it's visual aspects, which can't be always easily translated into printed form...this story will come alive on the silver screen, much like The Da Vinci Code did.  I thought they did an exceptional job with that book to movie transition, I only hope they do the same with The Lost Symbol.

This story begins with Robert Langdon being called to Washington D.C. by his good friend and mentor, Peter Solomon...well, Solomon's assistant made the call, but regardless Langdon leaves quickly.  What Langdon discovers once he gets to Washington is that Solomon did NOT request his presence, rather it was Solomon's captor Mal'akh. The story continues into an interesting web of betrayal, murder, torture, destruction and finally...the truth.  The truth about Mal'akh and the truth about The Word.

The book is signature Dan Brown and if you've enjoyed his mystery-style with a Biblical twist in the past, then this is right up your alley.  I really enjoyed it and can't wait for it to come out in the theaters...I've done a little research online this morning and it appears that the movie will come out in the summer of 2012.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

What's a good comforting meal for a Saturday night when it's been a lazy, relaxing day?  Spaghetti and meatballs sounds good doesn't it?  I'll bet it sounds even better when the meatballs are made from scratch! 

Well, I'll bet you can't guess what we had for dinner on Saturday night...

I found this recipe on the Tasty Kitchen website a while back.  It looked really good at the time, so I clipped it and filed it away for future use.  Months later I've now tried it...though, I did change it up a bit.  Here's a link to the original recipe I found...and another link to the blog it came from, Your Everyday Momma.

Here's what I did with this recipe...

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
¾ cups Italian bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
⅛ teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 whole egg
½ cups milk
1/4 cup parsley
mozzarella cheese, sliced and chopped

Mix the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, egg, milk, and parsley in a small mixing bowl. Add to the ground beef until well incorporated.  Using a metal spoon (preferably one you use to scoop cookie dough), scoop out mixture in the size of the meatballs you’d prefer. Before forming into a ball, place a small amount of mozzarella cheese in the middle and form the ball around so that all of the cheese is completely covered.  Brown the meatballs until almost completely cooked, place the meatballs on a jellyroll pan, and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve with your favorite pasta and tomato sauce!

These meatballs are extremely filling!  David normally goes back for seconds when I make spaghetti and meatballs, but not with these babies!  After just one serving he'd had enough...try these out, they're taaaaaaaaaaasty!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thrown Together Enchiladas

Do you ever just throw together some ingredients and call it dinner?  Of course you do...everyone does!  Well, I did this for last night's dinner and it was a home run according to David.  Hey, I'm always glad to hear that!

Have I mentioned that I'm a rock climber?  In case I haven't...well, I am.  Here's a pic of me from a few weeks ago.  I'm back on the wall for the first time after my return from my honeymoon.

You're probably wondering why I'm mentioning this...  Well, I climb two evenings every week and many times this leaves David to "fend for himself."  I usually try to cook so that there's leftovers on these nights, but it doesn't always work out that way.  If there's no leftovers sometime he's a cranky husband...

So, what I did for last night's dinner was I slapped it together on Tuesday night and left him baking instructions for when he got home from work.  This worked out swimmingly because he didn't turn into a cranky, hungry husband and the meal was still warm when I got home to eat!  Not only that, David told me these were the best enchiladas I've made to-date and asked me if this was a new recipe.  I just looked at him and said, ", I just slapped together some items in the fridge that needed to be used up before they went bad."  When I tried these, I have to say they were quite good.  I would definitely recommend making these enchiladas or some very similar out of what you can find in your own fridge and pantry as well!

Thrown Together Enchiladas

6 chicken tenderloins (approximately 2-3 breasts)
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can green chilis
4 oz. sour cream (half of an 8 oz. container)
shredded cheddar cheese (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup salsa (I had home-made, but you can use whatever)
jalapeno cheddar tortillas wraps

Boil chicken tenderloins until no longer pink in center.  Shred chicken with forks in a medium bowl.

Mix into chicken bowl green chilis, sour cream, approximately 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, salsa and 1/3 can of enchilada sauce.

Spray square baking pan (8x8 or 9x9) with cooking oil AKA Pam.  Spread approximately four tortillas with filling mixture, then roll each tortilla and place in baking pan.  If there is leftover filling mixture, spread over top of enchiladas evenly.  Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce evenly over enchiladas making sure all surfaces of the tortillas are covered.  Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese over enchiladas.

*At this point I refrigerated my enchiladas overnight until David was ready to bake them, giving the filling mixture and toppings time to soak into each other and meld in flavors.  But, if you want to just pop this pan in the oven immediately, feel free to do so!

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Sauce and cheese topping should be melted and bubbly.


P.S. The jalapeno cheddar tortillas give the enchiladas a nice, spicy kick.

Sorry there are no pics...I didn't expect for this meal to have such a good review or make it to the blog!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies

Remember waaaay back last week when I said I would share my two recipes that I made for our church potluck?  Well, I didn't get around to sharing the second one last week, but I am ready to share now. 

This is just one of those simple recipes that everyone has in their repertoire...with minor differences here and there.  But, it's a crowd pleaser! 

I found this recipe on because for some weird reason I couldn't find a copy in my stack o' recipes...weird, huh?  Well, after I went ahead and MADE the recipe I, of course, found my copy in my book.  The reason I couldn't find my copy was because it's a recipe my mom gave me...which my grandmother gave her...and it's not called "Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies."  It's called "World War II" cookies.  Hmmm...interesting. 

After gobbling down these cookies along with other church-goers, now David is requesting them again this week.  I'll try the "World War II" cookies recipe when I fulfill his request, just to see if there's a significant difference that makes them tastier.  In the meantime, enjoy this particular version of this popular recipe.

Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter

Combine sugar, cocoa, butter and milk in a saucepan. On medium heat, bring to a boil for one full minute.

Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter (optional), vanilla and oatmeal.

Drop by spoonful onto wax paper. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Can you tell I ran out of wax paper?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Angels & Demons

I just recently finished Angels & Demons.  This book was written prior to The Da Vinci Code (2000 vs. 2003), though I'm not sure if it just didn't get as much attention when it was published because the movies were released in reverse order.  Regardless, I wanted to read this novel after enjoying The Da Vinci Code.  Plus, I like to come full circle with books that have an ongoing plot-line with the same characters.

In a nutshell, the novel is about Robert Langdon and Vittoria Vetra attempting to keep a secret society, the Illuminati, from destroying Vatican City...during a papal conclave.  That really was a short blurb, ha!

I will say that I enjoyed this book, though probably not as much as The Da Vinci Code...and I don't know if that's because I saw the movie first or not.  There's a twist in the end and because I knew the twist was coming...  Who knows.  I liked it and if you haven't read it or seen the movie I would definitely recommend it.  But, also definitely read The Da Vinci Code!  And as always, both books are better than the movies...but, we always know that's how that goes...

Now I'm on to read The Lost Symbol, the final book in this series...or at least for now.  I'm not sure if there's going to be another...anyone know?


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