Monday, December 12, 2011

Quick and Delicious. AWESOME.

White Bean and Chile Quesadillas
source: Lisa Hawks
  • 1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 T chopped green chiles
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • cheddar cheese, grated
  • green onions, sliced
  • fresh cilantro
  • flour tortillas
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  1. Mix first 3 ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Prepare veggies.
  2. Divide mixture among seven flour tortillas. Mash with a fork to within 1/2 inch of the edges.
  3. Sprinkle with the next 4 ingredients. Top with a second tortilla.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and brown tortillas on each side. Cover the pan while cooking.
  5. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

My FAVORITE Type of Salad

Greek Salad and Dressing
source: Our Best Bites
  •  1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • olives
  • red onion, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • pepperoncini
  • 1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (this will not make the dressing spicy, just flavorful)
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 c. canola oil (or other salad oil)
  • 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
  • 3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. dry oregano
  1.  Mix lettuce, olives, cucumber, tomato, red onion, and feta cheese together in a bowl. Serve with Greek salad dressing and pepperoncini on the side.
  1. In the jar of a blender, combine all the ingredients through the garlic. Blend until smooth. 
  2. While the blender is running, add the oil in a steady stream. 
  3. Turn off the blender and add the feta and pulse the blender a few times (more if you want a creamier consistency). 
  4. Whisk in the herbs. If possible, refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. 
  5. Use as a marinade for chicken, lamb, or flank steak or drizzle over a Greek salad.

Who knew meatloaf could be SO good??

Meatloaf Wrapped in Bacon
source: Pioneer Woman - This woman is BRILLIANT!
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 6 slices White Bread
  • 2 pounds Ground Beef
  • 1 cup (heaping) Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/3 cup Minced Flat-leaf Parsley
  • 4 whole Eggs Beaten
  • 10 slices Thin/regular Bacon
  • 1-1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • Hot Sauce To Taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour milk over the bread slices. Allow it to soak in for several minutes.
  2. Place the ground beef, milk-soaked bread, Parmesan, seasoned salt, salt, black pepper, and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Pour in beaten eggs.
  3. With clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined. Form the mixture into a loaf shape on a broiler pan, which will allow the fat to drain. (Line the bottom of the pan with foil to avoid a big mess!)
  4. Lay bacon slices over the top, tucking them underneath the meatloaf.
  5. Make the sauce: add ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and hot sauce in a mixing bowl. Stir together. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the top of the bacon. Spread with a spoon.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, then pour another 1/3 of the sauce over the top. Bake for another 15 minutes. Slice and serve with remaining sauce.
  7. Serve with mashed potatoes. Yummy!

This seriously made me drool...

Garlic Lemon Pepper Rotisserie Chicken
  • 1 chicken (3 1/2 - 4 pounds)
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter softened
  • 10 cloves garlic
  1. In a small bowl, grate the zest from 1 lemon and mix it with 2 tsp. of salt and the pepper.
  2. Add the lemon zest mixture to the butter and stir with a fork until the all the ingredients are evenly mixed. Set aside.
  3. Salt the cavity of the chicken with the remaining 1 tsp. of salt. Cut the lemons into quarters and place them in the cavity of the chicken. Peel the cloves of garlic and place 5 of them in the cavity of the chicken along with the lemons.
  4. Place the chicken on the rotisserie spit. Tie the legs tightly together so that the ingredients inside will not drop out when the chicken is rotating on the rotisserie.
  5. Apply the lemon and butter mixture to the chicken. Rub approximately 1/2 of the butter under the skin of the chicken, spreading it out evenly. After rubbing the butter under the skin, place the remaining 5 garlic cloves sporadically under the skin. If the outside of the chicken is moist, dry it off with a paper towel and then rub the remaining lemon butter mixture on the chicken. Now finish tying the chicken around the fatty parts of the legs and tying the wings to the body.
  6. Cook according to manufacturers directions, around 90-120 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 175°F. Remove from rotisserie and remove the items in the cavity.
  7. Tent the chicken with foil and allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

I've never cooked with Leeks before...

Leek, Onion and Potato Soup
Source: Andrea Khan
  • 4 large leeks
  • 1 medium onion, chopped small
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ¼ c butter (or olive oil)
  • 3 c vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 ¼ c milk
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  •  1½ tablespoons snipped fresh chives or chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons cream or crème fraiche
  1. Begin by trimming the leeks, discarding the tough outer layer. Split them in half lengthways and slice them quite finely, then wash them thoroughly in two or three changes of water. Drain well. 
  2. In a large, thick-based saucepan, gently melt the butter, then add the leeks, onions and potatoes, stirring them all round with a wooden spoon so they get a nice coating of butter. 
  3. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and let the vegetables sweat over a very low heat for about 15 minutes.
  4. After that, add the stock and milk, bring to simmering point, cover and let the soup simmer very gently for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft – if you have the heat too high the milk in it may cause it to boil over. 
  5. Now you can put the whole lot into a blender – leave it to cool a little first – and blend to a purée. If you have to blend the soup in batches, make sure you have a bowl to hand to put the first batch into.
  6. Now return the soup to the saucepan and reheat gently, tasting to check the seasoning. 
  7. Add a swirl of cream or crème fraîche before serving and sprinkle with freshly snipped chives or parsley.

Perfect for a BBQ. Or snack. :)

Creamy Pasta Salad
source: allrecipes
  • 1 c small uncooked seashell pasta
  • 3/4 c fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 c cubed cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 c diced celery
  • 1 deli style pickle, sliced
  • 1/2 c green onion, diced
  • 1 hard-cooked egg, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup prepared Ranch salad dressing
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon prepared mustard


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, broccoli, carrot, cheese, cucumber, celery, sunflower kernels and egg. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients. 
  4. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

    REAL Fish and Chips

    Remember how we made fish and chips without beer recently? Well, it really wasn't that great... So we searched for another non-beer battered fried fish and... We were unsuccessful. SO decided to just replace the beer with something else and it actually turned out quite delicious!
    English Fish and Chips
    source: Alton Brown

    • 1 gallon canola or vegetable oil
    • 4 large Russet potatoes
    • Kosher salt


    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • Dash Old Bay Seasoning (recipe below)
    • 1 bottle brown beer, cold (ginger ale)
    • 1 1/2 pounds firm-fleshed whitefish (tilapia, pollock, cod), cut into strips
    • Cornstarch, for dredging

    1. Heat oven to 200 degrees F.
    2. Heat the oil in a pot or deep fryer over high heat until it reaches 320 degrees.
    3. Using a V-slicer with a wide blade, slice the potatoes with the skin on. Place in a large bowl with cold water.
    4. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. Whisk in the beer or ginger ale until the batter is completely smooth and free of any lumps. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Note: The batter can be made up to 1 hour ahead of time.
    5. Drain potatoes thoroughly, removing any excess water. When oil reaches 320 degrees, submerge the potatoes in the oil. Working in small batches, fry for 2 to 3 minutes until they are pale and floppy. Remove from oil, drain, and cool to room temperature.
    6. Increase the temperature of the oil to 375 degrees. Re-immerse fries and cook until crisp and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and drain on roasting rack. Season with kosher salt while hot and hold in the oven.
    7. Allow oil to return to 350 degrees. Lightly dredge fish strips in cornstarch. Working in small batches, dip the fish into batter and immerse into hot oil. When the batter is set, turn the pieces of fish over and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain the fish on the roasting rack. 
    8. Serve with malt vinegar. 
    I could NOT find Old Bay seasoning ANYWHERE! So I made my own. And the recipe still turned out great. So here's what I did-
    Old Bay Seasoning
    • 1 tablespoon ground dried bay leaves
    • 2 teaspoons celery salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground celery seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
    • Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container and store in a cool place.

      Slightly Simplified French Onion Soup

      Onion Soup with Cheese Crostini
      Source: Lisa Hawks
      • 1 tsp. butter
      • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
      • ¼ tsp. sugar
      • 1/8 tsp. pepper
      • 2 cups chicken broth
      • 1 ½ cup water
      • 2 T. white wine vinegar
      • 1/8 tsp. thyme
      • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
      • French bread, slice or cut into chunks
      • Grated swiss or cheddar cheese
      1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over med. heat. Add onion, sugar, and pepper to pan. Cook 15 min. or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar; cook 2 min. or until vinegar almost evaporates. 
      2. Add broth, 1 ½ cups water, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. 
      3. Reduce heat and simmer 15 min. 
      4. Ladle into ovenproof soup bowls and place on a baking sheet. Top each with a slice of bread and a sprinkling of cheese. Broil until cheese melts. OR: place bread on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with cheese and broil until cheese is melted. Place a slice on top of each serving of soup.

      Try this with white gravy. YUMMY.

      Death by Potatoes
      Source: Russell LeBaron
      • 4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
      • 2 T butter
      • heaping scoop sour cream
      • heaping scoop cream cheese
      • 2 garlic cloves, minced
      • salt and pepper to taste
      • milk (optional)
      1. Boil potatoes approximately 10 minutes, until fork tender. Drain water. 
      2. Smoosh potatoes with a potato masher and add the rest of the ingredients. Add milk if the potatoes are too thick. 
      3. Serve with white gravy. I'm telling you! Best mashed potatoes and gravy combo you will ever have!!

      This is DELICIOUS.

      Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce
      source: Lisa Hawks
      • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
      • ¼ tsp. salt
      • ¼ tsp. pepper
      • 3 T. flour
      • 2 T. butter
      • ½ cup chicken broth
      • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
      • 2 T. capers, drained
      • 3 T. minced parsley
      **NOTE: I have been told by quite a few people that they think capers are a type of fish or something. Capers have nothing to do with seafood. They are more like olives. They have the same type of flavor as olives. So if you like olives you will love anything with capers! 
      1. Place chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to an even thickness. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper then dredge in flour. 
      2. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 3-4 minutes on each side then remove and keep warm. 
      3. Add broth, juice and capers to pan. Bring to boil, scraping pan to remove bits on bottom. 
      4. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve.
      *Alternative: Instead of pounding the chicken flat, simply cut into chunks before sprinkling with salt and pepper and dredging in flour. Cook chicken and prepare sauce the same way. Cook up some angel hair pasta and mix chicken, pasta, and sauce together.

      We wish you a merry Christmas!

      What do you do with all of the cute Christmas cards that you get every single year? Keep them! At least that's what I do... Because I'm a pack rat. It's true and I'm not afraid to admit it. So this year I decided it would be fun to display all of the cute cards that we have but it is really hard to find something some sort of card display. So... I made one! Obviously. I found the idea for my Christmas card display here!

      I made a Christmas wreath out of branches from our Christmas tree last year... But it seriously took FOREVER. AND I had to just throw it away at the end of the season. But I kept the things I made it with and bought some fake branches at Michaels. I think it turned out pretty well... Not perfect by any means, but not bad. :)


      Hugo ****1/2
      Oh my gosh! Okay, I haven't read the book so I have no idea how this movie compares to the original story... But WOW. This movie was FABULOUS. Russ and I absolutely LOVED it. The little kid that plays Hugo is fantastic, the story is interesting, the tribute to classic movies is perfect, and the emotions you feel are real and well deserved. This movie was so wonderful.Russ and I saw it in 3D and it wasn't really worth it, but the movie is more than worth the full price. It is such a great film! I can't say enough good things about this movie. Go see it. Now!

      Sunday, December 11, 2011

      The Heroes of Olympus

      The Lost Hero ***1/2
      by Rick Riordan
      Book Type: Fantasy
      Summary: Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?
      Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.
      Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.

      summary found on goodreads
      My Review: This book is written a lot like the Percy Jackson series and is full of the same and similar characters. Annabeth returns as well as many other characters from the Percy Jackson series. You have a new cast of main characters that are very diverse and interesting. I really enjoyed Leo's character in this story. If you like the Percy Jackson series you will enjoy this series as well! I look forward to the rest of the series!

      The Son of Neptune ****
      by Rick Riordan
      Book Type: YA, Fantasy
      Summary: Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
      To storm or fire the world must fall.
      An oath to keep with a final breath,
      And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death.

      Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn't know much more than his name. His brain fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight with the pen/sword in his pocket. Somehow Percy manages to make it to a camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he has to keep killing monsters along the way. But the camp doesn't ring and bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth
      Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn't do a very good job of it. Sure, she was an obedient daughter, even when her mother was possessed by greed. But that was the problem - when the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her "gift" for and evil purpose, Hazel couldn't say no. Now because of her mistake, the future of the world is at risk. Hazel wished she could ride away from it all on the stallion that appears in her dreams.
      Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes and can be anything he wants to be, but he doesn't see it. He doesn't even know who his father is. He keeps hoping Apollo will claim him, because the only thing he is good at is archery - although not good enough to win camp war games. His bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely - enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart.
      Beginning at the "other" camp for half-bloods and extending as far as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment of the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophesy of Seven

      summary found on goodreads
      My Review: I LOVE THIS BOOK. Have you read the Percy Jackson series? You should. It's a blast. And the first book in this series is fun, but I have to say, this book is fabulous. I absolutely adore Percy Jackson. He is such a GREAT character. I love his wit and snarky comments. It was so so fun to have him as a main character again. I just love how real he is! He is this amazing fighter yet he finds himself on the verge of tears more than once because he is overwhelmed by his circumstances. He has no memories of his past except for fuzzy ideas of Annabeth. Hazel and Frank are great characters as well. The story is just so fun and well developed. Such a blast. I can't wait for the next one now! :)

      Mark of Athena ****1/2
      by Rick Riordan
      Book Type: YA, Fantasy
      Summary: Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.
      And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?
      Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare...

      summary found on goodreads
      My Review: AHHHH OH MY GOSH I finished this book maybe 3 months ago and I STILL can't get over Rick Riordan's ending! OH MY GOSHHH. This book is wonderful. Just as good as all of his previous books, better in some ways. The story is maybe not quite as crazy as some of his other books. The action is still often and trouble is constantly finding them. They are on a journey to fulfill a prophecy which regularly has them running for their lives. There are four voices in this story: Annabeth - The confident, intelligent, talented, beautiful, yet fierce and determined character who is haunted by her past and future. Oh and there is the fact that she is Percy's girlfriend and has been desperately searching for him throughout the last 2 books. :) Percy - The snarky, brave, handsome, hero of the story, always and forever the foremost in each of these tales. Nico Di Angelo states that Percy is the most powerful demi-god he has ever met... Which I believe is a bit of foreshadowing... Ahem. Hazel - brave and powerful. This chick is just super cool. And last but definitely not least: Leo - I absolutely adore Leo! He feels inadequate when compared to the other demi-gods but he has great power. I look forward to him discovering his strengths in the coming books. You already see his intelligence, bravery, determination, loyalty, quirkiness, and witty sarcasm in the early books. I LOVE all of the characters in these books. They are all great. I loved that this books shows more of their humanity and teenage insecurities. These kids aren't concerned with the average teenage fears but they are still young and unsure of themselves at times. In previous books Percy was a bit cocky on occasion. He has been humbled by this book and is a bit less confident in himself. But together they are a truly unstoppable team of demi-gods. Annabeth has to face an unbeatable and terrifying foe to save the world and return order to life as we know it. There are many obstacles and unexpected dangers on their path but in the end it's not enough. The ending of this book literally shocked me so badly that I gasped and shouted out loud. Russell was in the other room sleeping (yes I was up until about 3 in the morning reading this book, I couldn't put it down!!!) and I was worried I had woken him up. I re-read the most shocking turn of events at least 5 times before I was able to accept that Riordan really had done that. He really did. OH MY GOSH. The ending is stellar and horrible and shocking in every way. I LOVED THIS BOOK. Wow. It's been months and I am returning to my moment of utter disbelief. I cannot WAIT until the next book comes out. AHHHHH.

      Galaxy Diner

      Galaxy Diner
      location: Flagstaff, AZ
      We loved the feel of this restaurant and the food is super yummy. It is set in 50's style with pictures of actors and actresses from the 50's on the walls. The waitresses wear poodle skirts and sweaters... It was cute. And the food was super tasty. We got these yummy breakfast potatoes and stuffed french toast... It was all yummy, good price for what you get. They gave us a ton of food! It was a great place to go! :

      Diablo Burger

      Diablo Burger
      location: Flagstaff, AZ
      This is basically a hole in a wall, but probably the best tasting burger place we have ever been to. The food is all locally grown and raised and cooked to perfection. Goodness it was sooo good. It was actually featured on a few t.v. shows, so it is obviously tasty :). It is a bit pricey but it is most definitely worth it. The fries are super good, covered in Italian Seasoning or something. If we go back to Flagstaff we will definitely go there again! YUM.

      Rock Springs Cafe

      Rock Springs Cafe
      location: Rock Springs, AZ
      We were told to stop at this restaurant on our way up to Flagstaff. So we did and... we were a bit disappointed. Russ' steak was DELICIOUS. But the mashed potatoes were dry, the gravy was so-so, and the side salad seemed like it just came out of a bag. We spend 45 bucks on a mostly lame dinner. Sad day. But we bought a Blackberry Crumb pie and it was pretty good... But not worth 18 bucks. Blegh. So overall? Disappointing!

      Salsa Brava

      Salsa Brava
      location: Flagstaff, AZ
      WOW. This restaurant was suggested to us by the hotel we stayed at in Flagstaff during Thanksgiving break. It was apparently featured on the food network t.v. show "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" and it definitely earned it's television debut! Holy cow. We got the "chimiquitos" appetizer and their "carnitas" main dish and both were delicious. MMMNUMNUM. Really, we weren't feeling the greatest after our long drive but for me, this restaurant was worth the drive! Haha. It was really delicious. If we lived in Flagstaff I would be on a first name basis with their staff. Haha! The pricing was average for Mexican food with their main dishes pricing between 9 and 15 dollars. The appetizers are 6-9 bucks and their lunches are well priced. Anyway, worth the money for sure!
      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! :)


      Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...