Thursday, March 31, 2011

Just Breathe

Are you looking for a good chick lit book?  Well, here's a good one, Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs.  There are no real dark issues, no twists or turns in the plot...just a fun, light, romantic read.

Sarah Moon is a comic strip writer and finds out within just the first few chapters of this book that her husband has been cheating on her.  They've been through some serious stuff in their marriage and each have taken a different route to cope...Jack, Sarah's husband, decided his coping method was to sleep with another woman.  So, Sarah leaves Jack and "goes home" to find herself...kinda like everyone other woman in every other chick lit book.

This was a nice, light read.  No great, but not bad...just good.  And exactly what I was looking for when I picked it up.  I haven't read a really good novel in a while and was getting tired of picking up mediocres, stinkers and snoozers.  I would recommend this if you're looking for exactly what this book is...some good chick lit.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wacky Wednesday Walk Mix

I thought I would share another one of the shuffles mixes from my iPod today.  This one was from a walk last week where I walked 6 miles and felt pretty darn good around the end of it.  I've shared the videos from a couple of my favorites on this list.

Still - The Commodores
Inside Out - Eve 6
PYT (Pretty Young Thing) - Michael Jackson

Won't Go Home Without You - Maroon 5

Unknown - Lifehouse
Prayer - Disturbed
Be My Baby - The Ronettes
Upside Down - Diana Ross
You Save Me - Kenny Chesney
Watch The Wind Blow By - Tim McGraw
Ticks - Brad Paisley
Runaway - Linkin Park
Voodoo Lady - Live

The World - Brad Paisley

Room 21 - Hinder
Duck and Run - 3 Doors Down
Music - Madonna
Separate Lives - Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin
Dip It Low - Christina Milian
Drunker Than Me - Trent Tomlinson
Feels Like Today - Rascal Flatts
No Excuses - Alice in Chains
For the First Time - Kenny Loggins

Periodically, I'll shop the iTunes shop and add to my music library.  Here's what I've decided to add this week...I had a little throw-back I wanted this week...  Do you have any suggestions that you feel I should add to my library?  Feel free to share!

Through Glass - Stone Sour
I Like It - Enrique Iglesias
Lovin' You - Enrique Iglesias
No One - Alicia Keys
More - Usher
S&M - Rhianna
Hey Baby - Pitbull
Everytime I Close My Eyes - Babyface

Giving Him Something He Can Feel - En Vogue (I LOVE this video, it totally takes me back to grade school)

My Lovin' (Never Gonna Get It) - En Vogue
Free Your Mind - En Vogue
Born This Way - Lady Gaga
Let Me Be Myself - 3 Doors Down
Escape (The Pina Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mary Stuart - Queen of Scots

Mary Stuart - Queen of Scots, is a biography of the deceased queen.  Mary has been known as a bit of femme fatale and Guy was intent to write a accurate and highly-researched biography of said queen. 

This book is not for everyone.  Unless you are interested in reading about this type of subject...HISTORY...then, this might be a bit of a snooze fest.  However, I really enjoyed it.  Ever since my mom had me listen to The Six Wives of Henry VIII, I've been very interested in the different monarchies and how everything played itself out.

I would definitely recommend this book, if you are interest in learning more about the Queen of Scots.  I would also recommend The Six Wives of Henry VIII, in case you haven't read it either!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Salisbury Steak

What are your memories of salisbury steak?  Perhaps not good ones...a lot of school cafeterias attempt this dish and it doesn't turn out so well.  That was David's thoughts last night when I told him that I was making salisbury steak.  But, when the smells wafted into the living room from the kitchen, he immediately came to investigate the tasty aromas.  I tried this recipe from my Food Network Magazine (thanks for the subscription, Nicole!).  It was very good, so give 'er a go!

Salisbury Steak
Food Network Magazine

1 pound ground beef
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup) (I used two shallots)
7 saltine crackers, finely crushed (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage (I used dried sage)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I used dried parsley)

Gently mix the beef, egg, onion, cracker crumbs, sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl using your hands. Divide into 4 equal portions and shape into oval patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the patties, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and cook the mushrooms until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste, scraping up any browned bits. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, then stir in 2 1/2 cups hot water and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes (it took longer than 2 minutes, at least 5). Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, swirling to combine.

Return the patties and any juices from the plate to the skillet. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the patties are cooked through, about 2 minutes (I cooked longer than 2 minutes this time as well, try 5-10). Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Per serving: Calories 352; Fat 21 g (Saturated 10 g); Cholesterol 141 mg; Sodium 428 mg; Carbohydrate 11 g; Fiber 1 g; Protein 27g

The recipe suggested serving with buttery egg noodles.  I'll probably try that next time, but I served it with mashed potatoes and broccoli last night, yum!  This was definitely a winner, try it!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Crystal's Stuffed Peppers

Every so often I get a craving when I'm reading a blog.  This occurred earlier in the month when I read this blog post from How Sweet It Is.  I hadn't eaten stuffed peppers I read this.  I honestly probably had not had them since high school or longer.  And these looked so...stinkin'...good.  Mmmm...peppers...

OK, back to the subject at hand because my mouth started to drool a little bit in remembrance of this meal.  In fact, this became a Dave's Fave right off...with this being only my first attempt at this meal.  Do you know that David told me way back when he was a kid and didn't like peppers, his mom would just give him the filling?  Not that the filling isn't good, but isn't that the entire point of stuffed peppers?  Spoiled...that's all I have to say.  Rotten...spoiled rotten.  And still is by me and the other women in his family (and mine too).  OK, I've gotten it out of my system.

Basically, when I threw this dish together I included section's of the How Sweet It Is recipe along with a couple of others.  I, pretty much, took what I liked about each recipe and made it my own.  Here's what I came up with.

Crystal's Stuffed Peppers
Adapted mostly from How Sweet It Is

6 bell peppers (red, green, orange or yellow-I think red is best)
1 pound ground beef
olive oil
2 shallots, diced
1 head of garlic, minced
red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
parmesan cheese, to taste
1 can Rotel
1/3 cup cream
basil, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Slice the peppers in half (vertically) and remove the ribs/seeds.  Place in dish(s) with innard side facing up (like a bowl).

In a skillet over medium heat, head olive oil.  Add diced shallots and minced garlic, saute until soft and fragrant.  Add beef to the skillet and cook completely.  Drain fat.

While the meat is cooking, mix the Rotel and cream over low heat.  Stir in basil, to taste.

Add rice, red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese into meat mixture, mix.  Then add approximately 1/2 cup of tomato cream sauce to meat mixture, only adding enough to moisten the mixture. 

Add the meat mixture to the halved peppers, stuffing them as full as you can get them.  Pour the rest of the sauce over the tops of the peppers. 

Bake for 20 minutes uncovered.  Cover and bake for another 30 minutes.


Now your problem is figuring out what side dish to make...because this dish has it all...meat, starch and vegetable...  Hmmm...a quandary.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

I'm still not sure how I feel about this book...The Memory Keeper's Daughter.  I wouldn't say it was bad, but I wouldn't say it was good either.  The premise is good, but in a story like this I'm not sure there is a good way to finish it without a sad ending.

Dr. David Henry is driving his pregnant wife, Norah, to the hospital on the night of an intense blizzard.  Caroline Gill, Henry's nurse, meets them at the hospital where David is forced to deliver his own children.  Norah gives birth to healthy twins and while Norah is lucid as her son is born, when her much smaller, weaker daughter is born the drugs have already started to drift Norah in and out of consciousness.  David notices immediately that his daughter has Downs Syndrome...and makes a life-changing decision based upon his childhood growing up with a sister with Downs Syndrome. 

David's own family was torn apart when his sister died young, therefore he thinks that his wife would be better off never knowing the true fate of their daughter.  He asks Caroline to take his daughter away to an institution for such special needs persons and then proceeds to tell his wife that Phoebe, their daughter, was stillborn...a blue baby.

Caroline follows Dr. Henry's instructions at first...until she gets to the facility.  It's awful; there's no way she could leave this sweet baby girl in such a place!  So, Caroline makes the decision to run away and raise the child on her own.

The rest of this novel details the effects that David Henry's decision makes on everyone's lives.

The main question that I think this novel asks is Norah's predicament:

Is it worse to lose a child at birth


to have a special needs child?

Which would you think is harder?  I think the answer to this question depends upon who you ask and can vary based upon that person's circumstances.  Regardless, I think this should have definitely been a choice Norah Henry was offered.  Everyone in this novel's life would have been dramatically different if Norah had been given a choice.

The Lifetime channel made this book into a television movie.  I have it recorded on my DVR and intend to watch it soon.  If you want to know what happens and don't necessarily want to read the book, check the Lifetime website and you can find out when the next showing is.  Here's the preview:

Now, back to the actual book...would I recommend it?  I don't I said at the beginning of this review, this book left me feeling unsure.  This is definitely one of those topics that is very hard.  Have you read this book?  What are your thoughts?  If you haven't and decide to read it...let me know.  I'm still a little "hung in the balance."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Chip Muffins

I was looking for something new to make for David's breakfast treats and found this recipe.  The first time I made these Apple Cinnamon Chip Muffins I actually forgot the cinnamon chips.  Oops.  To be honest, though, you could make them with or without the cinnamon chips.  They give a little "umph" to the flavor, but the muffins aren't totally lost without them. 

On another note...have you ever eaten these straight from the bag?

If should, they're delicious!  I kept taking little nibbles throughout the baking process...I might have a new obsession.

I made a few changes to this recipe, simply because I don't bake with whole wheat flour...not because I'm against it.  It's just hard to have 15 different types of flour (i.e. all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, self-rising flour, cake flour, etc.) in your pantry.  I'll just stick with my regular ol' all-purpose flour.  If you want to try the original true-to-the-blog recipe, please click here.  My adapted version is listed below...

Apple Cinnamon Chip Muffins
Adapted from Multiply Delicious
(above pic is from Multiply Delicious as well)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp apple pie spice
½ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ¼ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1 ½ cups tart apples, chopped (such as granny smith)
½ cup mini cinnamon chips

Topping and Middle Layer

½ cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, cold and cut in cubes

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray or use muffin liners.

In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda, salt, and apple pie spice.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and eggs until smooth. Mix in vanilla and oil. Stir in apples, and gradually blend in the flour mixture. Fold in cinnamon chips. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until mixture is like coarse crumbs.

Spoon ½ tbsp into prepared pan and top with cinnamon sugar mixture. Then top another ½ tbsp into muffin cups and finally top with more of the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

These freeze great!


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Corrections

It is very, very, very, very, very rare that I can't finish a book.  In fact, I can't remember the last book that I tried to read and couldn't finish.  Well...I can no longer say that...

I made it about 100 pages into this 500+ book and I could go no further.  It wasn't so much the writing style as the actual story/plot-line that did me in.  I just couldn't take it anymore.

I know it's a national best-seller and is in the Oprah Book Club...but, no thanks!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Same Kind of Different as Me

I was in the perfect place when I read this book.  Literally.  And when I picked this book up, I didn't think I would like it very much.  I'm probably guilty of that old sin of judging a book by it's cover.  It's not the most appealing cover, am I right?  But, let me tell you...this book does not disappoint.

This is basically a sort-of Cinderella-story type memoir.  An international art dealer, Ron Hall, and a homeless man, Denver Moore, give a little bit of background about themselves, then you read about how they develop a lasting friendship. 

Why was I in the perfect place when reading this book?  When I was halfway through, I attended the annual Hearts of Hope Tea here in Oklahoma City.  What is the Hearts of Hope Tea, you ask?  Well, the local homeless shelter, City Rescue Mission, has this annual tea to share with women of Oklahoma City what the Mission is accomplishing and what future plans are.  I was lucky enough to attend this tea with some of my favorite ladies, members of Junior Hospitality Club.  The entire presentation was very heart-warming, not to mention the food was good!  I feel honored as being one of the donors at the end of the tea that raised enough money to refurnish the Women's Center this coming year.  To learn more about this click here!

With that being said, you can probably understand why I was really "in tune" with this book while I was reading it.  In fact, that night after the tea I immediately went home and had to finish this book.  I would highly recommend this book, especially if you're looking for something that you will feel good about when you close the back cover.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beef Taco Skillet

Campbell's has some of the easiest and yummy recipes if you ever take a glance at the back of those cans.  Never pass up checking those out because most of the time these are "tried and true" recipes.  Kinda like the pumpkin pie recipe on the back of the Libby's pumpkin can.  And Lord knows my mother raised me on the Campbell's Chicken and Rice Bake dish

Here's one that I found in a coupon flyer that was attached to the tomato soup coupon.  This is the perfect recipe if you're home and want to make dinner in under 20 minutes.  And even though the recipe says it makes four servings, ummm...David and I scrape the skillet clean.

Beef Taco Skillet
Campbell's recipe

1 lb. ground beef
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Tomato Soup (Regular or 25% Less Sodium)
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
6 flour tortillas (6-inch) , cut into 1-inch pieces (I use 4 whole grain tortillas)
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Cook the beef in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it's well browned, stirring often. Pour off any fat.

Stir the soup, salsa, water, and tortillas in the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until the beef mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the beef mixture. Top with the cheese.

Creamy Mexican Fiesta: Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream with the soup. (I like it this way)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Heretic's Daughter

I'm on a little bit of a non-fiction streak (as you'll see when I post my next review) and honestly, I didn't even realize it!  The majority of the time, I do my research when reading a book...I, unfortunately, did not do that in this case. 

I own The Heretic's Daughter in audio version because I picked it up at Half Price Books after noticing a paperback copy circulate through our book club.  At the time, nothing more was said within the club other than the reader enjoying it.  It wasn't until after I finished it, passed it along to my mother and she researched it, that I learned this is a true story!

Frankly, I thought this was a historical fiction novel that was reasonably accurate with what actually occurred back during the Salem witch trials.  There are so very many books about these trials, that I didn't think much of it.  Kathleen Kent, the author of The Heretic's Daughter, is a 10th generation descendant of Martha Carrier, the true heroine in this story.  Kent retells this story that has been passed down to her through the generations...

Martha was one of the first women accused, tried and hanged for witchcraft.  Her story is told through her daughter, Sarah, (hence the title) and what is truly amazing about this story is the bond the mother and daughter form.  In the beginning of the story, the two do not have the best of relationships...but, as the story progresses, Sarah learns how strong her mother is and how admirable.  In the end, Martha has Sarah perform the unthinkable to save herself and little brother...and, the bond between mother and daughter couldn't have been stronger despite appearances to the public.

This story is hard to listen to at times.  Conditions in general and treatment of the accused is rather disgusting.  However, I do think this story is very enlightening though sad.  It's truly tragic the horrible events that have occurred in the past simply because someone didn't like someone else.  Very good read and I would definitely recommend.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spicy Shrimp Pasta

I found this recipe a long time ago on the Tasty Kitchen website.  However, like many recipes, I wanted to mix it up a bit.  Make it mine, you know?  With that said, dinner last night was a resounding success!  I will definitely be making this again in the future...and I have to say, the sauce with the shrimp is so good that I'm not sure you even need to add anything to the pasta.

Spicy Shrimp Pasta
Adapted from jaymielo on Tasty Kitchen

8 ounces whole wheat thin spaghetti/angel hair pasta
4 tablespoons butter
1 head garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 whole red bell pepper, diced
½ cups white wine, plus more as needed
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Italian parsley
1 cup Mozzarella, shredded
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Fill a large saucepan with water, generously salt and add pasta when it begins boiling. Continue to cook until al dente.

While the noodles are cooking, put a large saute pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the minced garlic with a dash of red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring as needed, for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add in the diced red bell pepper and cook for another minute. Pour in the white wine and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. When the sauce has thickened, add in the peeled shrimp, spreading them in a single layer and flipping as soon as they start to get pink. Finish the sauce by mixing in another tablespoon of butter and some Italian parsley. Add more wine until the sauce is the desired consistency and turn the heat to low while you finish the pasta.

Using a glass measure, remove 2/3 to 1 cup of water from the pasta saucepan and then lightly drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the sauce pan; add in most of the grated cheese, the cream and the reserved pasta water, stirring quickly to melt the cheese and coat the pasta.

Place a generous serving of pasta on a plate. Serve the shrimp over the creamy pasta and enjoy!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shuffling Up My Walk

Right now is one of my favorite times of the year.  Why?  I love to walk at the park and shed those recently gained winter month pounds.  You know, those pounds you gained from Thanksgiving and Christmas and being locked up in your house from snow days. 

I have an elliptical at home, but it's just not the same as a fun walk in the park.  First of all, how many times have you actually used that clothes hanger...errr, I mean piece of exercise equipment since you bought it?  Riiiight...that's just about everyone.  Actually going to the park makes me more accountable because I'm making that extra effort PLUS, I can't just jump off the track at any point.  I have to actually make it all the way around the track before I can get in my car to drive home.  At home, it's so easy to just say, "Ehhh, that's good enough" and hop off.

When I lived back at my old single abode, I had this great walking track nearby that was 1.5 miles.  I'd lap it a couple times at first, then would add an additional lap per week until I made it up to 9 miles.  I really miss that park, but I found one almost as nice up in my new married neck o' the woods.  This track is 2.8 miles and I'm lovin' it already.  Last night I walked one and a half laps (there's a trail back to the parking lot once you make it to the 1.5 marker) and I feel great today! 

One blog post a friend of mine did a while back was sharing their work-out mix.  This is a pretty common thing to post as I've seen it on a few other blogs as well.  However, like my friend, I tend to keep my iPod on shuffle a lot...having 1,246 songs gives me a pretty random mix.  What's funny is, I am totally all over the place with my music selection...I have everything from country to 80's to pop to rock to even some gospel and some of my mom's 70's easy listening.  Music tells you a lot about a person...and I guess I'm a spasdic weirdo.  So, here's last night's random mix, let me know what you think...

Wild West Show - Big/Rich
Heart of Glass - Blondie
Winner at a Losing Game - Rascal Flatts
Lips of An Angel - Hinder
When I'm Gone - 3 Doors Down
U + Ur Hand - P!nk
Never Gonna Feel That Way Again - Kenny Chesney
All I Want to Do - Sugarland
One More Girl - The Wreckers
It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over - Lenny Kravitz
My Immortal - Evanescence
Back in the Saddle - Aerosmith
Sleep Tonight - Tim McGraw
Crush - David Archuleta
Break of Dawn - Michael Jackson
By The Way - Hinder

I might share again in the future if you guys like seeing my weirdo shuffles.

Now, here's a question for you throw your iPod on shuffle or do you have a specific "work-out" mix?

A Long Way Gone

I have recently finished A Long Way Gone, which is the memoir for Ishmael Beah.  Beah was a young boy who was involved in the Sierra Leone civil war.  The tale that this young man tells is a sad, graphic story about the brutality and unbelievable brainwashing that can take place in war. 

This story starts out with Beah on a quick trip with his friends to perform in a talent show/concert just a few villages over.  Each of them listen to rap music and love to break dance, but little do they know that their lives will never be the same...

Just a short time after they leave their village, it is attacked by rebel soldiers.  Beah and his friends flee...the next few months of their lives are simply an attempt to survive.  Some do...and some don't.

There were literally some parts of this book that turned my stomach.  Between some extremely graphic scenes that entail, essentially, cold-blooded murder and the drug utilizing to brainwash young men to become these cold-blooded killing machines...I almost couldn't take it.  I do, however, believe that this is definitely an important read.  You learn about how very non-peaceful the rest of the world can be, which can be enlightening in a country where our lives are pretty sheltered.  Give this one a try, but be ready for the content! 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Big Changes...Coming Soon!

I've been quite...quiet lately.  And I've been quiet because I've been trying to figure out what our (David's and mine) life will be like in the very near future.  I know that I alluded to some changes in a previous post, but recently those changes have become more than rumblings. 

To be blunt, David's job is transferring him out of state.  This is a temporary move...when I say temporary, I mean approximately two years.  So, depending upon your definition of temporary that term may or may not seem appropriate. 

Regardless, we're leaving...for a while anyway.  And the date is approaching...even though we don't know the actual date yet.  A couple months out.  And I've officially given notice at my place of business.  As of the end of this month I'm out...adios!  One of my co-workers thought it would be a funny joke to come in the following day and say, "Haha, just kidding!  I wasn't really quitting!"  This would be a great April Fool's joke, but I think I'll pass on giving everyone a heart attack.

So, where are we going?  You're probably dying to know, right?  Well, our future temporary home will be located in San Antonio.  Approximately ten hours away from my family and thirteen hours away from David's.  Yea, this has gone over well...not.  But, like me, everyone wants what's best for David's career and we're all excited for what new opportunities arise based upon the new experiences he will gain.

Pray for a smooth and easy transition for us!


Related Posts with Thumbnails