Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yummy salsa

Restaurant Style Salsa
Source: thepioneerwoman
  • 1 large can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with green chili's
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 white onion, chunked
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, minced
  • 1 pepper, sliced thin (mild=anaheim, medium=jalapeƱo, hot=serrano)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • lime juice to taste
  1. Throw all ingredients in food processor or blender.
  2. Pulse 8 times or to desired consistency.
  3. Refrigerate 4 hours and serve.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chile
Source: Rita's Recipes
  • 2 chicken breasts, still frozen
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 1 can corn kernels, do not drain
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese
  1. Put the chicken in the crock pot.
  2. Top with the tomatoes, corn, the drained and rinsed beans, ranch dressing, cumin, onion and chili powders. Stir to combine then top with the cream cheese.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring one or twice to blend in the cheese.
  4. Shred the chicken into large pieces and serve over rice.
  5. Can also serve in tortillas or taco shells or as a dip.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Healthy Breakfast Smoothies

Having PCOS makes it so that I have to avoid so many foods and I have to eat a lot of vegetables daily... Probably just the recommended amount. But it is very important that I squish these veggies into every meal daily if I can. So I've started trying out green shakes for breakfast. It is a great way to get in a full serving of veggies, fruits, carbs, and protein... Depending on what you put in your shake.
Nut Butter Green Smoothie
source: Russell
  • 1/4 c oats
  • 1-2 c fresh spinach
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • 1 c milk (coconut is my favorite!)
  • 1 T peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/2 plain Greek yogurt + 1 tsp vanilla (optional)
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until all ingredients are well mixed together.
Applesauce Green Smoothie
source: ??
  • 2 c spinach
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 apple
  • 4-6 ice cubes
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinammon
  1. Put all ingredients in blender. Blend until all ingredients are well mixed together.

The Maze Runner Trilogy

The Maze Runner ***1/2
by James Dashner
Book Type: Dystopia, YA, Sci-Fi
Summary: When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I thought that the concept behind this book was great. The book starts with a young kid with no memories of his life. He is a blank slate. He finds himself surrounded by a bunch of other boys who also have no memories of their past. They are trapped in a maze with no direction and no past. Why are they there? How did they get there? What now? This book reminded me of Lord of the Flies when it first opened. A bunch of boys all living together with no adult supervision... Thankfully the story turned out to be nothing like Lord of the Flies. It is more like Incarceron in the end. A young boy with no memory of his past learns he is a key character in the world outside of the maze they're trapped in. They have to work with those around them to solve the problems that surround them. This book takes place in a horrifically deteriorating dystopic world, it is fun to follow along and try to figure out what's currently going on and what will happen next.

The Scorch Trials ****
by James Dashner
Book Type: Dystopia, YA, Sci-Fi
Summary: Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.
In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.
Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.
The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

summary found on goodreads  
My Review: This was my favorite book in the series. This book begins to give you some background information while still developing the plot from the previous book. You learn a little bit more about what is going on. Who the boys are, where they come from, why they were trapped in a maze.... You meet new characters. You learn more about the characters that were in the previous novel. And you start to discover the truth behind the dystopic society that surrounds these boys. The people who are affected by the scorch are honestly creepy. They slowly degenerate physically and mentally until they are little more than zombies. This book is very interesting and well developed.

The Death Cure ***
by James Dashner
Book Type: Dystopia, YA, Sci-Fi
Summary: Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.
What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

summary found on goodreads
My Review: Final book in the series. Wraps up the whole story and pulls everything together. You never find out everything, things are still left open ended. But the important details that have been kept away from you are finally revealed. Characters that are important in the first two novels are killed off and several minor characters get promoted to the front line of the story. I was disappointed with the end of this story. I have conflicted feelings about Theresa the entire story and I didn't feel satisfied by her role in the story at the end. As the story ended I felt a bit disappointed but I thought that overall the series was very fun.

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows **
I was supremely disappointed by this movie!! I LOVE Johnny Depp so I was looking forward to seeing him in this role. Unfortunately the film did not meet my expectations. There wasn't really much of a point or plot. There was some inappropriate material.... And really it just didn't have anything going for it. We were very disappointed by everything in this movie. It had a great cast with Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer, who act superbly as usual... But they didn't have much to go with on this film. I would highly suggest NOT trying out this flick. It just isn't worth the two hours it will suck out of your day.

Unwind Trilogy

Unwholly ***1/2
by Neal Shusterman
**Sequel to Unwind**
Book Type: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Summary: Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.
Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I loved the first book in this series; Unwind. It is a fabulous, new, fresh story. It takes place in a dystopic society where abortion has been outlawed and a parent can have their trouble child unwound into little pieces rather than deal with them. This story is the second chapter in the soon to be trilogy. This part of the story follows the same characters- Risa, Conner, and Lev- but there is also a new main character- Cam. Cam is basically the new aged Frankenstein. He is made up of a million little pieces from who knows how many unwinds. This story is as interesting and engaging as the first book in many ways. However, Shusterman has a too many character voices which muddles the story on occasion. Yet, overall, I thought the story was fun, but not quite as good as the first book. ALTHOUGH, I am looking forward to book 3, Unsouled


Stardust ***
by Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Fantasy
Summary: Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victorian-English village on a quest for a fallen star in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: Have you seen the movie Stardust? Russ and I LOVE that movie! So we decided to read the book it is based on. And the verdict is out. I like the movie better. The book and movie are very much a like but there were a few subtle differences. The book explains a few details that are merely touched upon in the book, which was one benefit of reading the story. Outside of these few details I felt that watching the movie left you feeling more satisfied than reading the book did. I liked the characters in the movie better and I thought the ending was much happier and more satisfying. Basically the book is fun, the movie is better. If you didn't like the movie DON'T read the book. If you enjoyed the movie but didn't love it, don't read the book. If you LOVED the movie and would like to get some more insight and details about the world in stardust, read the book. It is a fun story, if not a wonderful one!

Herbed Quinoa Salad

First I was on the Elimination Diet, then I was on the Fodmaps diet, all to try and figure out what causing my stomach irritation. Have I figured it out after all this? No. I have not. But I did have the chance to experiment with my food again and again. So we branched out in our choices of carbs. I would say my favorite so far is probably quinoa. So we tried making this quinoa salad and it was absolutely delicious. We made it twice in one week. This salad is healthy, yummy, and worth trying out. Oh yummy.
Herbed Quinoa Salad
source: Recipe Land
  • 1 1/2 c peas
  • 3 c quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 4 oz. feta or goat cheese
  • 1/3 c fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 c fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1/3 c chives or green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. To cook the quinoa: bring 2 cups of water or chicken stock to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add 1 cup of quinoa. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Drain off any remaining liquid. Fluff with a fork to separate the grains. Allow to cool before combining in salad.
  2. In a 2-quart saucepan over high heat, bring one quart water to a boil. Add the peas. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until tender; do not overcook. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  3. Place the quinoa in a large bowl. Add the peas, cheese, parsley, tarragon and chives. Toss lightly.
  4. In a cup, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Pour over the salad.

Spindle's End

Spindle's End ***
by Robin McKinley
Book Type: Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Summary: All the creatures of the forest and field and riverbank knew the infant was special. She was the princess, spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia on her name-day. But the curse was cast: Rosie was fated to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into a poisoned sleep-a slumber from which no one would be able to rouse her. 
summary found on goodreads
My Review: I loved Robin McKinley's book Beauty so I decided to give this book a shot. I have to say that I was supremely disappointed by this story. The young girl that is sleeping beauty is nothing like I picture her being. She is supposed to be beautiful, poised, and talented whereas this girl is basically none of the above. The story started out well and then went downhill. The focus of the story takes place during Rosie's (sleeping  beauty's) childhood and teenage years. It was a very different story from any other sleeping beauty story I've ever read. But it was fine until the end. The ending had absolutely nothing to do with the classic story or any semblance of the story at all. I guess if you don't care for the sleeping beauty story you could enjoy this book. Just don't think of it as the same story at all. If you think of it as a different story it's written well and it is fairly interesting... But really, you can't have any attachment to the classic story of sleeping beauty.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman ***
Hmmm well.... This movie was disappointing. Charlize Theron was insane. Totally crazy. A perfect evil witch. She played her part very well. Chris Hemsworth did a great job as the huntsman. Kristin Stewart was.... Kristin Stewart. Even with the good acting jobs I thought the movie was a bit disappointing. There really wasn't anything GREAT about this movie. It was dark and depressing and it had a supremely lame ending. Basically I felt that this film was lacking in almost every way. There was very little worth rejoicing over. They took this movie an interesting direction and I was over it by the time we got to the end. I will say that the dwarves were pretty funny and the creepy woods was pretty cool, in a dark, dreary way.

The Game

The Game ***
by Diana Wynne Jones
Book Type: Child, Fantasy
Summary: Hayley’s parents disappeared when she was a baby. Since then, she has been raised and homeschooled by her grandparents. Grandad is overworked and travels a lot; Grandma is much too strict and never lets her meet any children her own age. When Hayley does something wrong—she is not quite sure what—they pack her off to her aunts in Ireland. To Hayley’s shock, her family is much bigger than she thought; to her delight, the children all play what they call the game, where they visit a place called the mythosphere. And while she plays the game, Hayley learns more about her own place in the world than she had ever expected. This original novella by Diana Wynne Jones is sharply funny, fast-paced, and surprising until its very end—like all of this acclaimed author’s work.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: I LOVE Diana Wynne Jones. Usually. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Howell's Moving Castle and I enjoyed the Chrestomanci series, but this book was kind of disappointing. It is supposed to be some sort of twist on Greek mythology. I love Greek mythology and this book was just not up to par for me. It fell flat. The concept behind it was very strange and I didn't quite understand where Jones was going with it. The Greek mythology employed in the story was very strange, I recognized only a few of the names and the ones I did recognized were done very poorly. Greek mythology is not pretty, it is not nice. This book is happy and frilly and nice. This is a fun children's book, I suppose. But I didn't exactly love the way that Jones developed the characters or the plot. Such a bummer. I still love Diana Wynne Jones. And I will happily try out most of her other books. But this one was a major disappointment for me!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower **1/2
by Stephen Chbosky
Book Type: YA, Fiction, Epistolary Novel
Summary: Standing on the fringes of life... offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
It is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, where all you need is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

My Review: If you look into this book you'll find that it has rave reviews up the wazoo! I personally did not enjoy it that much. Let's explore the many reasons why shall we? Charlie is supposed to be a 15 year old boy but I felt like I reading a story from the perspective of a 7 year old. He expresses him as a child would with a childish understanding of the world. He is an awkward and limp character. He is so bland and detached as he discusses these dramatic events that occur. You feel no connection to any of the characters because of the style of writing employed. It feels as though Charlie has no connection to his friends or family so it is difficult to care when bad things happen to people. Charlie cries. A LOT. What 15 year old boy finds himself crying about everything all the time? It seems as though they have two emotions in this story. Sad and crying or unfeeling and blank. His private world is as boring and unimportant as his dealings with other people, he has zero social skills or understanding of the world around him, and still everybody just thinks he's great and talented and special. All he needs, they say, is to just 'participate' more or not be afraid to 'do things'. Basically it is supposed to be a big dramatic story with lots of drama but all I felt was bored. AND the book is full of sex, drugs, and alcohol. These kids are doped up the entire story. I don't know if this story is sharing a typical high school experience or an unique one... But if this is average and ordinary I had a strange high school experience. I didn't ever feel like I had to drink or do drugs to fit in. I know most people at least experimented a bit with those things, but was everyone deeply involved in them all of high school? I don't know. Basically this story was dull and unaffecting and stock full of sexual exploits and more details than I ever needed to read. I don't know why this book did so well. It is not well developed or executed.

Monday, September 3, 2012

When you can't have potatoes, you get creative.

I have missed potatoes like there is no TOMORROW. So in replacement of potato chips at our BBQ with some friends tonight, we decided to branch out... And make our own chips. Sweet potato chips. YUM.
Garlic Rosemary Baked Sweet Potato Chips
  • 1 medium sweet potato, very thinly sliced (using a mandoline slicer or food processor is best)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. rosemary, minced
  • coarsely ground sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Position rack in the center of oven.
  2. Whisk together olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Brush two baking sheets with half of oil mixture. Place potato slices on sheets in a single layer and brush tops with remaining oil. Sprinkle with rosemary and salt.
  3. Place baking sheets on center oven rack. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until edges begin to curl and brown. (Note that the baking time depends on the thickness of the chips--even a slight difference in thickness can impact the time, so keep an eye on them!) Allow chips to cool completely on baking sheets.
**we cut our chips a little thick so they were soft with slightly crispy edges. They were good, but I think they would be even better if you cut them more thinly! Either way, enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Remember the bookmarks I made back in the day? Well I lost one of them so I decided to make a new one! Shabam!

Usually I'm not a huge pork fan, but this is GOOD.

Sage Pork
source: allrecipes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 6 center cut bone-in pork chops
  • 2 Tbl butter
  • 1 c water
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon
  1. Combine the salt, sage and black pepper in a small bowl and rub on both sides of the chops. Melt the butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium high heat and saute the chops for 5 minutes per side, or until well browned.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate small saucepan over high heat, combine the water and the bouillon and stir until bouillon dissolves. Add this to the chops, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer chops for 45 minutes. 


Whole wheat rolls, no sugar, AND DELICIOUS?? Sign me up!

Sweet Potato Rolls
source: King Arthur Flour
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsp soft butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 c cooked, mashed sweet potato (1 medium)
  • 1/4 c nonfat dry milk
  •   3 1/4 -3 1/2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 c sesame seeds (optional) 
To make the dough
  1. Place all of the ingredients (holding back 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour) into the bowl of your mixer or the bucket of your bread machine, set up for the dough cycle. 
  2. Mix until you've form a soft, but not sticky dough. Add more flour from your reserved amount if needed to achieve the correct consistency. 
  3. Knead the dough for 6 minutes, then place it in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour; it will almost double in size and look puffy.
To shape and finish the rolls
  1. After the first rise, deflate the dough and divide it into 6 pieces. You can roll each piece into a ball, then flatten it to make it 3/4-inch thick (this give it a large enough diameter to fit your sandwich on after baking). Or you can roll each piece into a 12- to 14-inch rope, and form into a Kaiser roll shape. 
  2. Place the rolls either in a hamburger bun pan or on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rise for 25 to 30 minutes, until almost doubled. 
  3. Brush the tops of the rolls with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. 
  4. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 17 to 19 minutes, until the tops are a rich golden brown color. 
  5. Remove the rolls from the oven and cool on a rack for 5 minutes.


Ultimate B.L.T.
source: thepioneerwoman
  • 8 slices Thick-cut Bacon, Cooked Till Slightly Crisp
  • 3 slices Marbled Rye Bread, Toasted
  • 3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Adobo Sauce From Chipotle Peppers, More To Taste
  • 2 whole Roma Tomatoes, Sliced Thick
  • 4 whole Green Leaf Lettuce Leaves, Washed
  • Salt And Pepper
  • Optional Ingredients: Cheese Slices, Avocado, Red Onion Slices 
  1. Mix together the mayo and the adobo sauce, adding more to get the spiciness you want.
  2. Spread some of the chipotle mayo on one piece of bread. Lay on four slices of bacon, then top with lettuce and tomato slices. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the tomatoes.
  3. Spread chipotle mayo on another slice of bread and lay it face down on top of the tomatoes. Spread more chipotle mayo on top, then repeat the bacon, lettuce, tomato, and salt and pepper. Spread chipotle mayo on another piece of toast and lay it face down on top of the tomatoes.  

Men in Black III

Men in Black III ****
Okay, Russ and I didn't hear anything about this movie, but we enjoyed the first one a lot so we decided to give it a go. I'll admit, I have no idea why NO one say this movie or said anything about it! This movie was easily as good if not better than the first one. Thank goodness! The second one was painful. But this movie was great. It was of the same calibre as the first movie. Will Smith's character was back on form, just as clever and funny as he was in MIB I. The bad guy was seriously creepy and weird. The guy who plays Tommy Lee Jones when he was younger sounded and acted just like him. It was incredible how good of a job he did! This movie played with your emotions getting you to laugh out loud and even get a little emotional at the end. Overall we loved this movie. I would definitely go see it, especially if you like MIB I.



Entwined ***
by Heather Dixon
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale
Summary: Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . .
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This story is also based on the Brother's Grimm tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. This story was not as similar to the Grimm tale as Princess of the Midnight Ball was. I would say that I preferred Princess of the Midnight Ball for the most part, but this story had some details that I enjoyed. This story followed the plot in that the sisters CHOSE to go underground to dance all night long. The underground kingdom is not as accurate in this story. In both the Grimm tale and Princess of the Midnight Ball the sisters walk through a silver forest before arriving at a lake where twelve handsome princes gallantry place them in boats and romantically row them across. Once the princesses have arrived on the other side they are swept up into a magical ball in which they dance all night long. In Entwined the girls merely walk through the silver forest, walk across a little bridge and dance all night long by themselves. The author barely talked about how the princes brought into the kingdom by the king attempted to discover their secret. It was like that detail wasn't important. I thought the princes were funny, and the love stories were pretty cute. The ending was a little dramatic and silly. But it was cute. I enjoyed reading this story but I still think I liked the other one better! :)

Friday, August 10, 2012


Beauty ****
by Robin Mckinley
Book Type: Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Beauty has never liked her nickname. Thin, awkward, and undersized, with big hands and huge feet, she has always thought of herself as the plainest girl in her family -- certainly not nearly as lovely as her elder sisters, Hope and Grace. But what she lacks in looks, she makes up for in courage. When her father comes home one day with the strange tale of an enchanted castle in the wood and the terrible promise he has made to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows what she must do. She must go to the castle and tame the Beast -- if such a thing is possible...
Here is the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty...and the Beast.
My Review: Who doesn't love Beauty and the Beast? It is a CLASSIC story. Also one of the best Disney movies ever made. Beautiful music, gorgeous back drops (animation?), AND a main character that is smart and clever as well as beautiful. AND AND she falls in love with a BEAST. True love here in this Disney flick. No love at first sight, no super hotties to be attracted to. True love. Wonderful. That being said, I guess it's not ALL that surprising that I would love this book. It is not as exciting as most of the books that I enjoy reading. BUT as far as re-tellings of fairy tales go? This version of Beauty and the Beast is a WINNER. In this story the Beast has been cursed for hundreds of years so he has grown and developed into a really sweet and kind being. He is a much more sympathetic character in this story than any other I've read. You can actually understand how Beauty could fall for him. The story moves at a slow even pace and you follow the heroine along as she discovers her feelings for the mysterious creature that has entrapped her body, mind, and soul. How romantic! :) Robin Mckinley is very talented at taking classic fairy tales and turning them into new fresh stories while keeping them true to the original stories. This one in particular doesn't stray far from the original tale, however the heroine is developed at greater length and is a strong character that you learn to admire. Definitely check out this book, you won't be disappointed. I promise. :)
p.s. I think this review is a beautiful and perfect description of this book and what makes it so great. If only I could write reviews so well!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Have you ever had to go on the elimination diet? You are very lucky if you never have to. BUT if you have constant stomach pain, you should probably consider trying out this diet. It seems to have helped me at least a LITTLE bit so far :). 3 weeks of very specific eating... Then you slowly add things in and assess for pains and symptoms of discomfort. Anyway, it is an incredibly difficult diet, so I thought I would share some recipes you can do and some tips of food to eat for a bit of variety in your diet... :)
Foods you CAN eat:
  • chicken, turkey, lamb, and cold water fishes 
  • rice, soy, and nut milks 
  • all legumes (beans, lentils) 
  • all vegetables except corn and tomatoes
  • all fresh or juiced fruits except strawberries and citrus fruits
  • rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa
  • breads/pastas/cereals: rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, teff, millet, soy 
  • clear, vegetable-based soups
  • drinks: fresh or unsweetened fruit/vegetable juices, herbal teas, filtered/spring water
  • fats/oils: cold/expeller pressed, unrefined light-shielded canola, flax, olive refined oils, salad dressings, pumpkin, sesame, and walnut oils
  • nuts/seeds: almonds, cashews, pecans, flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds,
  • sweeteners: brown rice syrup, fruit sweeteners 
Foods you CAN'T eat:
  • red meat, processed meats, eggs and egg substitutes
  • dairy: milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt
  • creamed or processed vegetables
  • strawberries and citrus fruits
  • starches: gluten, potato, corn products
  • breads/pasta/cereal: wheat, spelt, kamut, rye, barley
  • canned or creamed soups
  • margarine, shortening, butter, and spreads
  • peanuts, pistachios, peanut butter
  • brown sugar, honey, fructose, molasses, corn syrup
So basically buy a lot of vegetables, fruit, and rice. Things we've added to our diet to make up for some gaps in variety and deliciousness:
  • almond butter
  • coconut milk
  • sweet potatoes
  • V8 fusion
  • rice flour pasta
  • oats
  • nuts: almonds, cashews, pecans
  • rice crackers
  • rice cakes
  • avacados
  • quinoa (it's actually quite delectable)
  • lots and lots of salad - buy several different oil-based dressings
Anyway, for most of our meals we have simply adapted recipes that we already have. Some recipes haven't even needed to be adapted, just the toppings have been left out. Anyway, here are some recipes that we've been able to do and the changes invoked. :) Good luck!
  1. White Chicken Chili - Just don't add the cheese at the end.
  2. Curried Squash Soup -Leave out the butter. Don't add sour cream as a topping-just the cilantro is enough!
  3. Dilly Veggie Pasta Salad - Use pasta made with rice flour and leave out the tomatoes and cheese. Add other vegetables such as cucumbers for more variety. Add apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice in the dressing. :)
  4. Sweet Potato Fries - no changes!
  5. Roasted Veggies - Just leave off the Parm.
  6. Breakfast Shake - Coconut milk, oats, almond butter, 2 ice cubes, coconut flakes, half a frozen banana
  7. Oatmeal - use coconut milk instead of dairy milk. Add dried cranberries.
  8. Beans and Rice - Leave out meat. Leave tomatoes out of salad.
  9. Italian Wedding Soup - Use chicken instead of meatballs and rice instead of pasta.
  10. Hawaiian Haystacks - Leave out tomatoes, chow mein noodles, and cheese as toppings. Add other vegetables if desired. Leave out flour and milk in gravy. Add some almond milk to make it more of a sauce.
Things I miss the most: DAIRY, WHEAT, sugar, potatoes, and tomatoes... Man. Those alone make up most of the foods I ate pre-elimination diet. Seriously. Every time we try to find something I can eat these are the main food products that make it impossible. AHHHHHH. Only one more week. Then I can start adding things back in... And stop dreaming of ice cream and cheese every night...

The Tiger Series

The Tiger Series ***1/2
by Colleen Houck
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Summaries: Tiger's Curse - The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and  mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.
Tiger's Quest -  Back in Oregon, Kelsey tries to pick up the pieces of her life and push aside her feelings for Ren. But danger lurks around the corner, forcing her to return to India where she embarks on a second quest--this time with Ren's dark, bad-boy brother Kishan, who has also fallen prey to the Tiger's Curse. Fraught with danger, spellbinding dreams, and choices of the heart, TIGER'S QUEST brings the trio one step closer to breaking the spell that binds them.
Tiger's Voyage -   With the head-to-head battle against the villainous Lokesh behind her, Kelsey confronts a new heartbreak: in the wake of his     traumatic experience, her beloved Ren no longer remembers who she is. As the trio continues their quest by challenging five cunning and duplicitous dragons, Ren and Kishan once more vie for her affections--leaving Kelsey more confused than ever.
Tiger's Destiny - With three of the goddess Durga's quests behind them, only one prophecy now stands in the way of Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan breaking the tiger's curse. But the trio's greatest challenge awaits them: A life-endangering pursuit in search of Durga's final gift, the Rope of Fire, on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal.  It's a race against time--and the evil sorcerer Lokesh--in this eagerly anticipated fourth volume in the bestselling Tiger's Curse series, which pits good against evil, tests the bonds of love and loyalty, and finally reveals the tigers' true destinies once and for all.
My Review: Okay. You can totally tell what kind of books I've been in the mood for lately. . . Mindless. Brainless. Cheesy. Sappy. Lovey-Dovey. Action Packed. People DIE. You know. Teen flicks. Anyway. I have a dear friend who suggested I check out this sappy romance series called The Tiger Series. I'll admit, when she said "it's like Twilight. But good." I felt a little nervous. I don't do Twilight. Granted, I haven't read it. I've tried to check it out of the library a couple of times, hiding it behind several other books because I'm ashamed to even be thinking about checking this book out... But I have never made it further than 50 feet from the book shelf before dropping it on the closest shelf and moving on. BUT. I love Megan. I trust Megan. When she told me that I would LOVE this series, I cringed at the story descriptions on goodreads and checked them out anyway. And I'll admit. Embarrassing as it may be... I truly enjoyed these books. I DID. Can you believe it? I read a Twilightesk book and enjoyed it. Granted. It's not perfect, there were things that irritated me a bit. But overall... I liked it. Maybe even bordering on LOVED it. You heard me. LOVED it. Okay. Now to my actual review... :)
The story starts out slow. Like, REALLY slow. The girl gets a summer job working with a white tiger at a circus. Somehow she falls in love with this giant beast. Woah woah woah. Did I say BEAST? Yes I believe I did. This book is a modern age twist on the classic - Beauty and the Beast. Shabam. Okay. So she gets this random offer to go to India by this random older/middle aged man in order to introduce the tiger to a new home. She flies across the country with a man she doesn't even know and feels totally and blissfully safe. No one is surprised or confused by this strange offer. But hey, whatevs. She gets there and her whole world is turned upside down! Okay. So I have to say, based on some of the descriptions I thought, yeah, this author has clearly never been to India. Example: the main character doesn't get sick from the food, at all. Ummm, everyone gets sick in India at least once. It's like the rule. Anyway, the description of the driver's was so spot on I almost jumped up out of my chair and screamed "SO TRUE". It is a perfect description. Which is why I couldn't believe it when the main character ended up driving by herself later in the book... YEAH FREAKING RIGHT. I'm just saying. Anyway. So once she get's to India the story picks up and gets much more exciting. I love Ren. Yes he does turn into a human for short parts of the day. When I first read the description I couldn't tell if he did or not and all I could think was "she's in love with a tiger? Is this author for real?" Anyway. Ren the human = major hottie. Yeah that's right. If I saw this man in person I would gawk. Married or not I would notice this piece of perfect masulinity. I don't know how Mr.Edward Cullen is described but Ren wins super hottie of the year hands down. I'm just saying. Also, Miss. Kelsey is a great main character, she's realistic. I like that. But you can totally tell that these books are written by a fat girl. I'm sorry but it's true. It just is. She describes food A LOT. The insecurities are realistic, but much more extreme than a cute, attractive girl would feel. I felt that Kelsey was pretty confident in some ways and totally pathetic in others. I guess that's real too. Anyway. I loved in the beginning of the second book when Kelsey starts college and gets asked out on a bunch of dates. It was totally like my college experience. Oh my goodness. Can I just say Artie = Andy? Anybody know what I'm talking about here??? Anyway. I felt for the girl. Been there. Done that. Although her boyfriend is a super model, which is different. I don't think I ever dated anyone THAT hot. My husband is adorable, don't get me wrong, I think he is incredibly handsome. But I never saw girls tripping over themselves gawking at him. But I'm not that gorgeous myself so I have no complaints. :) Anyway.
In the second book you get to know Ren's super hot little brother. And I adored him. Okay. Originally I LOVED Ren. But by the end of the second book I was conflicted. They are both Mr. Perfect and Kelsey has them both falling over their feet to be with her. Man. Jealous. Okay. So I liked that Kelsey wasn't like "I'm SO IN LOVE." Right off the bat, it takes her a while to feel that way and a lot of quality get to know you time. Also, she pushes away Mr. handsome because of her insecurities. Which I get. To a certain extent... I mean, if I were in her shoes I would have been like "heck yes you can be my boyfriend!" But maybe I was just more confident than this chicka. Or it was more like, "who cares if I get my heart broken I am SO dating the hottest guy in the world right now! What a great story for my friends. . ." I'm just saying. Anyway. I loved the main character. I loved the author's voice in the story. I love the super hottie love interestS. I love the action and quests that these characters have to go on. The only thing I don't TOTALLY get is why Kelsey is having such a hard time with the gorgeous men clamouring for her attention. 1. She is clearly obsessed with Ren. Just date the dang kid and give him a break. 2. If you really are so conflicted (like I am! I love Kishan AND Ren!) then say "I'm going to date both of you until I figure out what I want." Bam. That's what she did in school with Ren and Li. Why not now with brothers? I'm just saying. or 3. Dump them both. Take a break from having a super sexy boyfriend, save the day by breaking their curse and THEN decide who you want to date. You're 18. You don't need to be completely desperately in love with anybody yet. It's cool. Didn't happen to me until I was 20. And I still felt to young to have such strong feelings. You know what I mean??? Anyway.
At the end of Tiger's Destiny all I could think was WOW. What a finish. I can't believe this series is OVER! This series is a blast. It is a ridiculous yet fabulously fun story. If you enjoy love stories that are full of drama, adventure, hot guys, near-death experiences, and magic this is the series for you! Seriously, SUCH a great story! This ending was perfect! I did get a bit tired of Kelsey being such a dope and dragging around the sweet and handsome Kishan for so long... But I was happy with how Houck decided to wrap up her tired love triangle. Each book is unique and exciting. I loved how different each step of the journey was. It's like Harry Potter in the fact that you KNOW the basic plot before you even start each book, but none of the details. Leaving you pleasantly surprised as each task and journey occurs. Anyway, read this series! All the way to the end. It. Is. FABULOUS. So great. LOVE.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I am a really huge fan of this roast beef. It is QUITE delectable.

Braised Beef with Root Vegetables
source: Lisa Hawks
(I think she originally found it here)
  • 3 T. flour
  • 1 ½ T. oil
  • 1 (1-2 pounds) boneless chuck roast, trimmed of fat
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • ½ cup apple cider or gingerale
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 4 small turnips or potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 300-degrees.  
  2. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef on all sides with ½ tsp. of the salt and the pepper; dredge in flour. Add beef to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove to roasting pan.  
  3. Add garlic, broth, cider and bay leaf to frying pan, scraping to remove browned bits; bring to a boil.  
  4. Pour over the roast, cover and bake for 1 ½ hours. 
  5.  Add carrots; cover and cook 25 minutes.  
  6. Add remaining salt, turnips or potatoes, and onion; cover and cook an additional hour, or until vegetables are tender and beef is fork-tender. 
  7.  Sprinkle with parsley and bake another 5 minutes. Slice beef and serve with veggies and juices.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Thai Feast

Thai Pork
source: Suparn Lee
  • 9 pieces of pork
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  1. Season the pork and stack in a plastic bag to marinate over night. The juices will seep out of the pork while it sits.
  2. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. (I know it seems low, just trust me!)
  3. Cook uncovered for about one hour, or until cooked through. You want the juices to get all soaked up into the meat and turn into a type of glaze, so MAKE SURE you leave it uncovered. Believe me, it is BAD if you don't! :)

Chicken Masman
source: Suparn Lee
  • 4 lb. chicken
  • 1/3 c masman curry paste (mae ploy brand is best)
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 lb potatoes, chunked
  • 1 c water
  • 1 large onion, chunked
  • 1/2 c peanuts
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 1/2 T white wine vinegar
  1. Put oil in pan. Add curry paste to oil, stir thoroughly. 
  2. Add chicken and fry up at about 400 degrees (med-high heat). Cover and allow to cook through, about an hour.
  3. Add potatoes, coconut milk, water, onions, and peanuts. Let cook several minutes. 
  4. Add sugar, salt, and vinegar. Cover, turn temp down to about 275 (low heat), and allow potatoes to cook through, about an hour.

source: Suparn Lee
  • 2-3 T. oil, separated
  • 1/4 lb chicken or tofu
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 5 oz. rice noodles
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/4 lb shrimp
  • 1/2 T vinegar
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1/2 T. lime juice
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1/2 T. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • dash cayenne

  • 2 egg
  • 1/3 c. peanuts, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  1. Soak rice noodles in hot tap water as long as suggested on packaging (can range from 20 minutes - 2 hours).
  2. Cook chicken or tofu in 1 T. oil. Pull out chicken/tofu, set aside.
  3. Add onion to pan and saute until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add more oil if needed. 
  4. Add noodles to pan and cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes. 
  5. While noodles are cooking mix together ingredients for sauce, set aside. Add the shrimp to the pan along with water and 1 T, stir together.
  6. Add peanuts and sauce. Stir to blend and heat until shrimp is cooked through, it should have a nice pink color.
  7. Push all ingredients to one side of the pan. Add the eggs to the pan and cook until well scrambled. Stir all ingredients together.
  8. Add chicken/tofu back to pan. Add green onions. Cook a few mins more and enjoy!
Sweet Sticky Rice with Fresh Mango
source: Suparn Lee
  • 4 c cooked sticky rice
  • 1 can coconut milk (chaokh brand is best)
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • fresh mango, sliced
  1. To cook sticky rice: put in very hot water and let sit for 2 hrs, then steam for 40 mins.
  2. Put sticky rice in microwave 1 1/2 min if the rice is no longer hot when you begin the dessert.
  3. Add coconut milk, sugar, salt, and veg oil, stir completely.
  4. Let sit until all of the juices have been absorbed into the rice. About an hour or so.
  5. Add sliced mango to sticky rice.
Spring Roll Sauce
source: Suparn Lee
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T water
  • chili garlic sauce to taste
  1. Mix all ingredients except chili sauce and heat up in microwave for about 30 seconds. Add chili sauce.
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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