Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blogging Spring Break?

It's been over a week since I've been on here...yikes!  That was totally unintentional, but I guess sometimes life gets in the way.  Which, I'm totally OK with by the way!  Want a quick recap of what's going on in our lives?

First off, we have signs of life in our garden!  To the right is the first shoot from our asparagus bed.  When we first moved here David was insistent on the idea of having fresh asparagus.  He grew up with a patch at his parents' house and even had started a patch at the house he lived at when we first met.  However, when you're moving around constantly, like we were there for a bit, you don't get the chance to grow something like this.

In case you're unaware, you can't harvest asparagus the first year that you plant it.  You can't even harvest it the second year.  Well...technically you could, but it'll be puny little stuff and won't reseed itself.  You're technically supposed to wait until the third or fourth year before you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. 

At this point you might be asking how we're going to eat this stuff this year considering that we've lived in our home only 1 1/2 years.  Well, when David made his asparagus order he picked out two-year old asparagus crowns.  After waiting through last year, just to make sure the asparagus took well, this year we'll be enjoying these bad boys freshly cut from our own back yard.  In case you can't tell, I'm super excited about it.  Though, I will say that David and I have refrained from buying asparagus at the grocer or ordering asparagus in a restaurant within the past month.  When this stuff is ready we'll be eating it every meal and my tolerance for it lasts only about as long as it's harvest-able.  It's always interesting to me how the length of a vegetable or fruit's season lasts around the length of time it takes you to fully gorge yourself into a mild repulsion of said item.  I feel this way about asparagus as well as many other fruits and vegetables.

Next up from my mini-Spring break from blogging last week?  I did finish a couple of books, but neither are super noteworthy.  Because of that I'll be brief about both.

The Rise of Nine is the latest (third) book in the Lorien Legacies series.  If you're not familiar with this series, you might remember the movie I Am Number Four which brings to life the first book.  This first book held a lot of promise and the second book, The Power of Six, was still pretty good.  However, I felt that this most recent book lost a little bit of the momentum that this series had going for it.  There is supposed to be a total of six books written for this series, with the fourth coming out in August of this year.  I'm really hoping that the next one is more enjoyable than this most recent installment.  If you were to ask me how I felt about this book I'd probably just shrug my shoulders and say, "Meh."  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't that great either.

The second book I finished with lackluster pizazz was this one.

The Glimmer Palace is a historical fiction novel surrounding the life of a Lilly Nelly Aphrodite.  The story follows the birth, childhood and young adult story of this soon-to-be, some day, great actress.  I borrowed this audiobook from a member of my book club and while it could be entertaining and somewhat interesting...I just never got into it.  The protagonist never had me rooting for her because I just never felt that connection.  Plus, the ending was kind of sad and left me walking about thinking, "That's it?  Well, OK then."  Overall, just not my favorite.

I do promise that I have some fantastic book reviews in store for you soon.  In the meantime, I probably wouldn't necessarily recommend these.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Funday

It's been a quiet week on here...and sometimes that's needed, am I right?
Happy Friday all and please enjoy my favorite pins this week!

I think my theme of the week was, "I'm ready for summer! Or spring, at least."

And it wouldn't be my blog if there wasn't at least one reading pin...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Laura's Blanket

This past Friday my book club had a mini baby shower for my good friend, Laura.  She's about to pop and looked so cute.  At this shower we all brought her books for her little one to encourage reading at the earliest of ages.  I decided a while back to make another blanket, similar to Lindsay's, and wrap the books up in it as wrapping.  Since Laura and her husband aren't finding out the sex they're decorating in earth tones, including green and yellow.  Therefore, the sweet tri-tonal yarn I used.  I'm very happy with how this blanket turned out and can't wait to make another one soon!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Friday Funday

Happy Friday all! 

Unlike many people on Pinterest, I don't pin something unless I think it will be useful for some reason (except for some quotes that I just love).  So, some of the sillier stuff I tend to just "like."  I thought I'd share with you some of my laugh-out-loud likes that you might not have seen before.

My father-in-law is a retired chemistry professor, hence this type of humor within our household.  I sent this to David on Valentine's Day.

Source: imgfave.com via Kelly on Pinterest

As long as the sports is OU football, this is soooo me.

Source: epicfail.com via Liz on Pinterest

And if you're wondering what I look like everyday, this housewife picture is pretty accurate...just so you know...wink, wink...

I Don't Get It

Tomorrow is my book club's monthly meeting, so I riffled through my book bag earlier this morning to give myself a little "refresher" on what I've read in the past two months (I missed last month's meeting).  And I've realized that I've been in a bit of a reading rut.  Seriously.  If you've been reading my reviews lately you might have noticed, but since they were kind of spread out I hadn't.  Despite a few goodies here and there I've been reading either super serious, depressing or boring stuff. 

I'll give you two examples that I need to give reviews for on here, but I've been putting it off because...well...I just don't get it.  I've read both of the following books and both have fantastic reviews from other readers.  And honestly, both of them get a 3 star rating from me (out of 5).  They were OK.  OK, they were "good," but not in a good way that makes me happy as I close the back cover for the last time.

Two words to describe The Orphan Master's Son - slow and depressing.

One word to describe Life of Pi - Really?

When I have finished reading a book I like to continue thinking about the people (or animals) within the setting/world of said book.  I like to contemplate what's happened, how everything has wrapped itself up.  I also like to think back to the beginning of the book sometimes and realize certain key indicators that pointed to the conclusion.  I really love it when an author puts a proverbial big, fat bow on top...and maybe a cherry too.  The two above books didn't do that for me...

In fact, these two pins pretty well sum up how I should feel when I snap a book closed in conclusion.  Well, at least I think so.

Ugh...I just hope I can push myself out of this rut. I do believe I'll be a bit more selective with my reading choices in the near future.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Turkey Meatballs Times Two

It hasn't been since January that this blog has spotlighted a food post.  Yikes!  I hadn't realized that it's been so long.  A sounding board for my recipes was one of the main reasons I started this blog...oops.  Honestly, I've been cooking and baking good stuff.  But, it's mostly the old standbys and all the really good ones are already on this blog, archived under the Dave's Faves tab above.  There have been a few recipes I've tried here and there, but with nothing fantastic to write home about.  I'd prefer to just share with you guys really, really, really good stuff.  And I hope you like it that way, LOL!  Well, I finally have a recipe to share on here...it hopefully won't take that long again for me to find another goodie. 

First off, I record a few cooking shows on my DVR and one of them happens to be Giada de Laurentiis'.  A lot of her recipes are a little much for me, but a lot of times they're fantastic.  In fact, one of David's more recent likes is her turkey taquitos (my blog review here).  That one is well on it's way to becoming a fave.  Well, her show a couple weeks ago focused on making turkey meatballs two different ways, for dinner two different nights of the week.  David happened to watch this episode with me and both of us thought the recipes looked delicious.  I did tweak both a little, simply because neither of us care for fennel or kale.  But, if you'd like to see and print her original recipes, a link is provided below each recipe's title. 

Both dinner preparation options utilize half of this first recipe for meatballs.

Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs
Giada recipe, click here for her printable

1 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground dark turkey meat
1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed**
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

**Note: I couldn't find turkey chorizo (as she calls it in her episode), so I used turkey bratwurst.  I'll be on the lookout for turkey sausage links or chorizo in the future now though!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, milk, eggs, onion, Parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, tomato paste, garlic, salt, and pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the ground turkey and sausage meat. Using fingers gently mix all the ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop or a small ice cream scoop, form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (about 22 to 24 meatballs). Place the meatballs on a heavy non-stick baking sheet, spacing apart. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until cooked through.

Now, for the first night's preparation of the meatballs.  This sauce recipe I have slightly modified and halved, since only half the meatballs were to be served with this sauce and the original recipe is for all the meatballs.  The original Giada sauce recipe is included in the link shared above with the meatball recipe.

1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves (I just sprinkled a good amount of dried basil since this time of year isn't conducive to having fresh on hand)
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth (I didn't end up using any, it wasn't needed)

Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet with 2-inch-high sides over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, and basil. Bring to simmer. Cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and simmer until the meatballs are heated through, about 10 minutes. Thin the sauce with chicken stock, if needed.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese alongside.

This recipe was absolutely delicious.  It's one of those items that you take a bite or two and you're like, "This is pretty good."  And then, by the time you finish, you're thinking it's better than you initially speculated.  But...my real favorite from this recipe paring is below.

First off, this is a pizza recipe, so I started with my favorite pizza crust, the Pioneer Woman's.  But, I like to healthify it a little by making it whole wheat.  Here's a link to one of her pages that contains the printable, but the way I make it is listed below.

Basic Pizza Crust
adapted from the Pioneer Woman

1/2 teaspoon instant or active dry yeast
3/4 cup
warm water

2 cups
all-purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat)
1 teaspoon
Kosher salt

less than 1/3 cup
olive oil

Sprinkle yeast over 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 paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined, and the dough comes 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. (for the recipe below, my crust was refrigerated a couple days...she isn't kidding, it really is better a few days old)

When you are ready to make the pizza, 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 usually roll it on my oiled pizza stone)

OK, so onto the important part...

Pizza Blanca with Meatballs

adapted from Giada, click here for her printable


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 dried bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, for oiling the baking sheet and for drizzling
1 pizza crust (above recipe)
3/4 cup coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
Classic Italian Turkey Meatballs, halved
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a heavy small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the bay leaf, nutmeg and garlic. Whisk over medium heat until the mixture thickens to sauce consistency and is smooth, about 6 minutes. (Sauce is done when you can sweep your finger down the sauce-covered spoon and the line remains intact) Stir in the salt and pepper.  Remove and discard the bay leaf and garlic.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Prepare above listed pizza crust on cooking stone or sheet pan.

Spoon the sauce on top and spread evenly leaving a 1-inch border around the dough. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top. Arrange the meatballs, cut-side-down, on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until center of pizza is set.

OMG...so stinkin' good.  I will definitely be making this pizza again.

So, there you have it!  Delicious recipe!  Hopefully I'll have another one (or 3) to share with you again soon!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Wallflowers Series

There are times when I need some light and frilly fluff to read.  Seriously, I can't read one strait-laced book after another.  As you can see from some of last week's posts I have recently read about a murder, a depressing meat-packing industry piece of socialist propaganda and an ultra dense historically accurate biography about a woman who lived over 2,000 years ago.  Who doesn't need something completely un-serious and for pure enjoyment only after all of that? 

Almost a year ago, Lindsay (from my book club) brought into our circle A Wallflower Christmas.  I didn't review it on this blog, but it was a nice, romantic, fluffy read.  Well, this book was the conclusion of a four-book series that my friend, Becky, ended up purchasing.  If you'd like to read Becky's review of the following four books, simply click here.

The main premise of these four books is that one year within London society, there are four young women who always appear to be sitting against the wall during societal balls.  Each is of marriageable age and each is eager...perhaps too eager.  Which might be why they're never asked to dance.  At one end-of-year ball the four begin talking and strike up a friendship where they hatch a plan.  The wallflowers, as they henceforth call themselves, will focus on one girl per year, starting with the oldest first, and combine their resources to "catch" a husband for her. 

Each of these books were a delightful, easy, breezy read with some "hot" scenes thrown in there.  I really enjoyed them, they were a great break from all the serious reading that I've been doing lately.  If I were to rank them, I'd say either the 1st or 3rd were my favorite, followed by the 2nd, then 4th.  If you're looking for a series that will make you smile and blush, these are the ticket.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Funday

This week I thought I'd share how the pins I electronically hoarded this week have reflected what's going through my mind lately.  First up, David cleaned out a lot of the garden over the past couple weeks and I cannot wait until it's planting time!  Flowerbeds, garden, flower pots, herb pots...bring it on already!  I think I might be trying these out in my flower beds later on this spring...

Source: google.com via Crystal on Pinterest

I'm always looking for ways to encourage my booty to hit the trails or gym...I found this iPhone alarm clock hilarious...

This picture and quote really spoke to me this week as well.  Molly is 11 years old and I've insisted on keeping her OKC vet throughout this entire shift from OKC to San Antonio and then Tulsa.  But, the fact of the matter is she's getting to a point where she'll need a local option if and when something happens...and I'll be taking her to someone new next week.  She's had the same vet almost her whole life...this stresses me out more than it ever could her.  This quote really is true for us, this little girl makes everything whole within this household.  David even refuses to get a second dog because he doesn't want to "upset the Mollster."

Source: squidoo.com via Crystal on Pinterest

And finally, this quote has affected me the most. 

When it occurred, I spoke about how my best guy friend, Tom, died last year.  It's been almost exactly 8 months and I still think about him frequently.  He was blind and I remember taking him on errands, eating lunch every day and enjoying lots of laughs.  I can't hear a song by Queen, AC/DC, Billy Squier and a few others without immediately thinking of my friend.  I think this is how grief works...every day gets a little easier, but you still think about them a lot.  There's always going to be little things (like this pin) that will stop you in your tracks, making you remember and reminisce. 

Happy Friday (and first day of March), see you back here on Monday!


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