Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Next Three Days

The Next Three Days ***
Russ really liked this movie but I felt like there were a few holes in the story. Russell Crowe begins a couple attempts at getting his wife out of prison and he is horrible at what he's doing, he almost gets caught! Then like a week or two later he pulls off the perfect prison break. There are too many close calls for it to be realistic. The wife goes a little crazy a few times in the film and that was stressful and irritating for me. But probably the one thing that bugged me the most about this movie is that Russell Crowe is a good person at the beginning and suddenly a switch is flipped and he is willing to do anything and I mean ANYTHING to get his wife out of prison. It wasn't believable for me. BUT the action was fun, even when it had an initially slow beginning... But the way Russell Crowe got his wife out of prison and the way he handled everything in the end was pretty cool. Other than the ridiculousness! Haha.

Great side dish

Imitation KFC Coleslaw
Source: Amanda's Cookin'
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 medium carrot (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  1. Chop cabbage into chunks and run through your food processor, or chop fine.
  2. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a large bowl, whisk well.
  3. Combine cabbage, carrots, celery, and onion and toss well. Pour dressing over the slaw and turn to coat well.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving to allow the cabbage to soak up the marinade. Overnight is best.

Mini Burgers? I think so, yes.

Imitation White Castle Burgers
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 24 small square dinner rolls
  • sliced cheese
  • pickle 
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Mix first 6 ingredients and press into an ungreased 10 by 15 inch jelly roll pan or put into a sliders fry pan.
  3. Prick with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain off juices. Cool.
  5. Cut into 24 squares and place on dinner rolls.
  6. Drizzle desired amount of ketchup and mustard. Top with pickles and cheese.

Slightly Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chili Dressing
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large sticks
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • chopped cilantro (optional)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put potatoes and onions on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 T olive oil and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast, turning occasionally until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, approximately 35-45 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven.
  5. Whisk 2 T oil with juice and chili powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. 
  6. Toss fries with dressing and sprinkle cilantro on top. Serve warm.

Family Favorite

When we were younger we made this for lunch almost every Sunday. People would wander in and eat some, then leave. Or sit down and eat half the dip and make more for everyone else. HAHA. It is super quick and easy AND delish. Oh, and don't mind the name... If you know my family, it won't really surprise you that our favorite snack is called:
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 can chili
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips
  1. Spread the cream cheese in the bottom of a medium/small glass casserole dish. Spread the refried beans over the cream cheese. Spread the chili over the refried beans. Sprinkle a generous amount of cheese over the chili.
  2. Place in the microwave for about 3-5 minutes, depending on your microwave... The point is to get it heated all the way through and have the cheese completely melty-gooey on top.
  3. Spread sour cream over the cheese and eat with tortilla chips! Oh SO GOOD.

Best Clam Chowder I've EVER Had.

Boston Clam Chowder
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup onion, minced
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp. thyme
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 cups 2% or whole milk
  • 2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1-2 cans clams (do not drain)
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  1. Microcook potatoes in a bowl with ¼ cup water for 10 minutes or until soft OR cook the potatoes in water on the stove until soft; drain all but ¼ cup then set aside. 
  2. Saute’ onion, garlic, celery and spices in butter over medium heat till translucent. 
  3. Add flour gradually. Cook and stir till bubbly (1-2 min.). 
  4. Stir in milk, potato juice and clam juice. Boil and stir one min. 
  5. Add clams and potatoes, turn heat down to low and heat till hot. 
  6. Stir in vinegar right before serving. 

Yes. I will take another.

These muffins have pumpkin in them but they are more like super moist, super delicious chocolate muffins. They are most certainly super tasty though!
Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins
  • 1 Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.  
  2. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.  
  3. Place all ingredients but chocolate chips in a large bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more.  
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips.  
  5. Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Best way to eat veggies EVER

Baked Zucchini and Tomatoes with Cheese 
  • 4 small zucchini
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil (a handful of fresh basil is DELICIOUS!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (can substitute mozzarella cheese)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 1/2 to 3-quart baking dish.
  2. Cut ends from zucchini and cut into 1/2 inch rounds. Cut cores from tomatoes and slice about 1/2 inch thick. Cut each slice into quarters.
  3. Combine zucchini and tomatoes; sprinkle with the onion, garlic, salt, basil, pepper, and some of the fontina cheese. 
  4. Toss to blend; drizzle with the olive oil and toss again to coat the vegetables. 
  5. Turn the vegetables into the prepared baking dish. 
  6. Bake for 25 minutes. Top with the rest of the fontina cheese and the Parmesan cheese and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes.

I had no idea I would enjoy Jewish food this much!

Potato Latkes
  • 2 cups peeled and shredded potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I added about a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and it was good)
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil (we used vegetable oil and it was fine)
  1. Place the potatoes in a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible.
  2. In a medium bowl stir the potatoes, onion, eggs, flour, and salt together.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot.
  4. Place large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4-1/2 inch thick patties. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. Let drain on peper towels. serve hot with applesauce, sour cream, and green onions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Mansion

The Mansion ****
By Henry Van Dyke
**You can read this book on-line at this web-site.
Book Type: Religious, Christian
Summary: "The Mansion," a classic story by Henry van Dyke, is a wonderful book that sets forth the century-old ideals of kindness, sympathy, and self-sacrifice. The message on charity presented in this book reminds us of the true spirit of giving, making it a "must read" every Christmas right along with Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol. If every young person in the world were to grow into maturity believing in, and practicing, the ideals set forward in "The Mansion," much of sorrow would disappear; violence, civil disorder, and war would be almost impossible, and a new era would be ushered in. An example of the beautifully written prose in this book would be van Dyke's answer to the question "What Counts? That which is truly given; Only that good that is done for the love of doing it; Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought; Only those labors in which the sacrifice was greater than the reward. And only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself" This insight is the undergirding theme of "The Mansion," in which van Dyke managed to blend a wealth of knowledge on how we are able to grow from acts of charity, with an entertaining novel, all in a few pages.
summary found on amazon
My Review: Well this is not an uplifting book! 60 pages of what? The characters are not very deep or developed because the story is so short. But it definitely makes you re-evaluate your life. I just thought "wow. I need to be a better person". So looking back I would say the book is not uplifting, but I suppose you could say it's inspiring. Thoughts it inspired: "What matters in the next life?" "What size will MY mansion be?"

Way better than the stuff you get in a can...

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
  • l/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 4 c chicken broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 4 leaves fresh basil
  • 2 cups milk or cream
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. In a large soup kettle, saute onion in olive oil until almost translucent. Add garlic and continue to saute for one minute. 
  2. Add tomatoes, sauce, paste, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes. 
  3. Puree about 1/3 of soup at a time in blender until desired consistency. We like to have a few chunks in our soup so we only puree about 2/3 of it, if you don't like chunks puree all of the soup until creamy.
  4. Add milk or cream and seasonings, and continue to simmer for another 5 or 10 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and serve!

Green Lantern

Green Lantern **1/2
We had heard from many different sources that this movie was no good. But we decided to watch it anyway... And it turns out that we probably shouldn't have... Don't get me wrong, the movie was acted well, we were impressed with the special effects, and there were some funny parts... But the storyline was flat, the characters were flat... The story and character just weren't developed, there were no consequences. Like the movie starts out with Ryan Reynold's waking up in bed with some random girl that is never seen again. And yet he is able to get back together with an old fling, she doesn't even really care about the fact that Ryan Reynold's character can't commit to anything and sleeps around... Yeah, that makes sense. Basically everything fell a little short of the mark. They had a good concept to work with and they just didn't pull it all together. So it definitely wasn't the worst movie I've seen by any means, but it just didn't come together.


Another one of the ideas I had for the YW activity was to make cute little snowmen. I found a cute idea at this site that has you make your own little pom poms.
The big one I made took FOREVER, but the small ones took a few minutes. So If you decide to do anything like this, make sure you stick to the small ones, haha. Anyway, I used mostly stuff I had around the house so my snowmen are NOT the cutest... But they're alright! :)

Christmas Lantern

For the combined young women's activity this week I was asked to take charge and do a Christmas craft. I don't know why they thought I could do this!  But there was nothing I could do about it, so I looked on-line all week trying to find anything I thought would be cute and fun for the girls. FINALLY I found a couple things I thought were cute and was pretty much shot down by the YW president... But I ended up using one of my ideas anyway: a Christmas Lantern. I didn't have a Cricut and I had absolutely no luck finding Christmasy vinyl decals so I ended up drawing and chopping up contact paper to make my patterns. I made one to show the girls what it would look like... My snowflakes are totally lopsided and I scraped off a bunch of the spray just trying to get everything off, but I think it turned out alright.

I think my favorite type of Chinese Food is the Side Dish

Vegetable Egg Rolls
Inspiration:  Blogchef
  • 6 cups shredded cabbage and carrot mix
  • ½ cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 celery stalk (diced)
  • 2 tablespoons green onion (minced)
  • 1 4 (oz) can shrimp (drained)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • cornstarch
  • 20 egg roll wrappers
  • vegetable oil (for deep frying)
  1. In a large bowl combine cabbage and carrot mix, bean sprouts, celery and green onion. Stir in soy sauce, garlic powder and black pepper.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium high and fry and pour beaten egg into it and fry like a pan cake on one side and then flip. Chop egg up finely. Stir the egg into the cabbage mixture. Sprinkle the top of the cabbage mixture with cornstarch and mix well.
  3. In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Lay out an egg roll wrapper. Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling in the corner of the wrapper, but not so the filling is actually touching the corner. Fold over that corner and roll about half of the way up. Fold over the left and right corners to the middle. Using a brush or the bottom of a spoon, brush the cornstarch/water mixture on the edges of the wrapper. Finish rolling up tightly and secure to make sure there are no leaks. Repeat until all the egg roll wraps are used.
  4. Deep fry egg rolls in batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Sometimes I have a major Chinese Food craving...

Chinese Shrimp with Broccoli
Inspiration:  Blogchef
  • 2lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ½ c broccoli, chopped
  • 1 large head broccoli, sliced into florets
  • ¼ c water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • ½ c chicken broth
  • 1/3 c rice wine
  • 3 ½ Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  1. In a bowl combine soy sauce, chicken broth, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil and white pepper. Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of water.
  2. Heat a wok or frying pan over medium high heat. Add vegetable oil. Add broccoli and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes or until it has reached your desired tenderness. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add a little more oil if needed. Add garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add shrimp and stir fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add sauce mixture to the wok and bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute. Add the cornstarch and water mixture and cook while stirring until the sauce thickens. At this point the shrimp should have turned pink and be fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. Add broccoli florets back into the wok, mix well. Remove from heat and serve.


So recently I posted a picture of my attempt at zipper flowers. I found some at the store the other day so I may try to make them differently next time... Make them bigger and looser. Anyway, it reminded me that I had made some cloth flowers a little while ago with the help of my sister in law Corrin. She is always making new little cloth flowers! She's so cute and creative! Anyway, these are the flowers we made... some were mostly Corrin and some were all me... But they're all pretty cute! I think... :)

Thanksgiving Wreath

So I feel like I need to add things to my wreath... But they aren't really selling fall stuff anymore. It's NOVEMBER. Why aren't they selling fall decorations? Oh well. I went to the dollar store to buy stuff and was given a bunch of odds and ends that they had in a box. So I just put together my wreath with those random bits and pieces and it's not bad considering all I brought was the frame. But next year I plan on getting a bunch of leaves and maybe other things to make it look better... We'll see!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Best Tacos I've Ever Had...

Yay! I get to be all cool and write on Chaela's blog! (Woot, woot!)

For those of you who don't know me: I'm Michaela's old roommate. The one who who flat out asked Russ what, exactly, his intentions were with the girl and told him just to kiss her already.

Yep. That's me. :)

I also happen to be a lover of music, art, dancing, literature and all things French. (Ok, I'm a little obsessed... get over it)

AND..... FOOD!

I love to cook and Mich will attest that I love to cook delicious things that don't take much time. (She's actually shared a few of my college standbys on here already.) So when I told her I had a fabulous taco recipe, she said that I should just come on and share and she'd try it out.

So here I am :)

So let me tell you about this here recipe:

I'm a teacher and rarely get home before 5:30. I live back at my parents' (since I'm single and really don't want to pay rent) and to help out I make dinner once a week. Grocery shopping and all. My mom has always been a stay-at-home mom and dinner is promptly at 6. Nowadays that's even more necessary since my dad is bishop and usually doesn't have much time between work and meetings. In other words, when I make dinner I have to make things quick.

Tacos are quick. I love a good taco. But it has to be a GOOD taco with lots of flavor. But the MSG in seasoning packets doesn't go over well at my house and I'm not a big fan of ground beef. So I made these impromptu turkey tacos. And keep making them. Quick. Easy. Delicious.

Here's what you need:

*measurements are approximate... Michaela will attest to the fact that I only measure in baking*

1-2 lbs Ground Turkey (that package has ~ 1 2/3 lbs)
1 T Oregano
2 t Cumin
1-2 T Chili Powder
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 14.5oz can tomatos
1 4oz can green chilis
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 avocado (this is the fattiest part of the dish!)
Tortillas (I'm a flour tortilla person, myself)
Ranch dressing (or creamy tomatillo dressing... from my blog here)

In a medium fry pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil and heat on medium/medium-high. Turkey is extremely lean and you don't want it to stick!

Begin cooking turkey over medium heat.

In another fry pan, again drizzle a bit of olive oil and let it start to heat up (again on medium/medium-high)

While the oil is warming up, add the cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt and pepper to your turkey. Mix it in well and let it continue cooking on low.

Back in the other fry pan, add your onions and garlic and saute until the onions begin to appear translucent.

Add the green chilies and continue cooking until some of the liquids have cooked off.

Add the tomatoes. You may need to break apart some of the bigger tomato chunks.

Pour the tomato mixture over the fully cooked meat and mix in well.

Put the meat on a tortilla, top with sliced avocado and a drizzle of dressing.

Roll it up, serve with a salad and enjoy!

***I'll come back on and add a mint lemonade recipe to go with the dish :)
If you ever try one of our recipes we would love to hear your feedback! Let us know if you like them or if you make any changes! We love comments! :)


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