Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays- Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Edition

So I know some of you are sitting there with a huge amount of turkey leftover in your fridge. You have made the typical leftover turkey pot pie, oodles of deli sandwiches and there is still a mound you don't know what to do with. Here is a recipe for that leftover turkey that will satisfy and make you forget you are technically eating leftovers. It's called cajun chicken, a recipe Seth grew up with.

1lb turkey cut in smallish pieces (when I say 1 lb, I mean put however much you want to in. If you want tons of turkey, go for it. You can also use chicken tenders, which is what this recipe originally called for before we started changing it.)

1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
5 or 6 sliced mushrooms
1 tsp. Cajun Spice (this you need to be careful on. The Cajun spices we have sampled in Utah seem a little bland while out here they have a fabulous kick to them.)
Angel Hair Pasta (we make 8-10 oz for two people, but this is really up to you.)

Cut the peppers into smallish segments. Saute in olive oil until soft. Saute turkey in olive oil, if you are using chicken you need to make sure to brown in at this point, if you are using turkey it is already cooked so you are basically just heating it back up. Add the Cajun spice to the turkey or chicken while cooking and then add the peppers to the skillet with the chicken/turkey.

The Sauce:
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (we never seem to have chicken broth just laying around so we mixed 2 1/2 cups of water with 2 chicken bouillion cubes.
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbls butter
a dash of black pepper
a dash of cayenne peper (a little cayenne goes a long way so be careful not to ruin your dinner.)

Stir these ingredients together with a wire wisk until sour cream blends in. Pour the sauce over the chicken/turkey and peppers and simmer for 5 minutes.

Here's where it gets tricky. While the chicken/turkey is simmering, mix 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch and a small amount of cold water in a separate bowl. Stire until the mixture is smooth. Add to the skillet and stir for a few minutes to make sure the cornstarch has evenly mixed with the sauce. The amount of cornstarch you need to use can vary from each time you make the meal. The whole point of adding the cornstarch is as a thickener. You can use any other type of thickener, but this is a mild way to get to that perfect consistency.

Once the sauce is mixed, serve on a bed of angel hair pasta. If it's not spicy enough for you, add a little more Cajun spice on top.

It's really not that hard of a meal to make and it tastes fantastic.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Review- Princess Academy

My friend Tera recommended this book to me a little while back. I tried Goose Girl first and I couldn't get into to it. I am not sure if it was because I was super stressed at the time or any number of other reasons but I decided that Shannon Hale was not for me. When a copy of Princess Academy came into my hands, I decided to give her a second chance.

I loved it! I feel like there are too many problems going on in the world right now for me to depress myself with sad books, so Princess Academy was a perfect escape. I felt like the book was well written and my favorite part? I was not rooting for the heroine to end up with the prince. In fact, I didn't want her to leave her life with the miners she loved so much. It was a fresh relief to read a fairy tale where you thought the prince was second rate to another character.

One of my major irritations in fairy tales, is helpless female leads. This book soothed my irritations about helpless woman and gave me a heroine that was ready to change her circumstances herself and not wait for the prince to come around.

This book is a really quick read. I read the entire thing on one of those miraculous days when Sofie actually took a nap, so about two hours. It was light reading and entertaining. I felt happy and positive when I finished reading this book, which is what I am looking for from a book right now. It is a pretty entertaining story and worth a read.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book Review- The Princess Diaries

This book has been on my to read list forever, practically since the movie came out. I finally got around to it last week and it was a cute story. It wasn't the compelling type of book that I want to read over and over again but since it was a quick read, I think it was worth it.

I was surprised about how similar and completely different the book and the movie were all at the same time. There are things about the book that the movie portrays so beautifully and then there are moments in the movie that leave you flipping back through the book wondering where the screen play writers got that idea. (I am not saying the movie isn't great, Lorene pointed out to me that it sounds like I am saying the book is better. No way. This is one of the only times I will say this. THE MOVIE was better.)

The biggest changes (I don't have a problem telling you them because if you choose to read you find out in the first pages.) Mia's dad is still alive in the book and you really hate the grandmother's character. That last part I was especially torn about. I love the grandmother in the movie and so hating her in the book seemed wrong to me. This dilemma is usually why I have a strict read the book before you see the movie policy, so I don't get hooked up on characters because I like the actress that plays them.

Josh is just a jerky and Lily's brother is just as sweet. I did like this book but not enough that I couldn't put it down or I am going to die without it on my shelf. It is worth it, if you need a small escape from the world that isn't going to depress you but you aren't looking for the best written book out there with characters in it that you can't get enough of.

I am glad I read it but honestly I don't see myself picking up the sequels any time in the future.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Christmas Wreath

I wanted a Christmas wreath really bad this year. I couldn't find one that I liked that was in the budget, so I made one myself. Here is how it turned out. I followed this tutorial here.

Basically you just take a wire hanger, I used a baby wire hanger because I didn't want to have to buy so many ornaments, and stretch it out to a circle shape. Then you untwist the top part. Before you slide each ornament on, make sure to hot glue the cap on so it can't come off. Then slide the ornaments until you have your wreath the way you like it. Then twist the metal back together and voila!

I really love the way it turned out. It took so many ornaments though. Have a guess? There are about 60 on my little baby wire hanger, imagine if I had used a full sized one. You want to know the best part? All of my ornaments came from the dollar store, this cost me way less than $10 to make. In fact, some of the ornaments came in packs of 15 for a dollar.

Now I just have to convince myself to hang it on my door. I am terrified someone is going to steal it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tasty Tuesday's - Zuppa Toscana

It feels cold today, even in Texas. I thought I would share my cold weather favorite, Zuppa Toscana. This is pretty close to the Olive Garden recipe but I make my soup super hearty.


1 lb ground sausage
1 tsp red pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions
4 Tbsp bacon pieces
1 tsp garlic powder
10 cups water (this water stays in the soup, so make sure to measure it out.)
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
5 or 6 potatoes
¼ of a bunch of kale

Sautee and crushed red pepper in pot. You can either buy Italian sausage or use your favorite Italian seasonings to spice it up a bit. Drain excess fat and set aside. In the same pan, sauté bacon, green onions and garlic for approximately 15 mins until cooked through. Mix together the chicken bouillon and water in a large pot, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour. Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated. Stir in the sausage.
Add kale just before serving.

To make this soup really hearty, I add tons and tons of potatoes and sasuage. If you are more of a soupy person, just add what the recipe calls for. I hope you like it. It is delicious!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Review- The Time Traveler's Wife

I knew the second I let it escape that I read this book and I didn't review that there would be requests for a review and my suspicions were correct. Honestly? I didn't review it because I didn't know what to say.

I loved this book but there were times when I was completely embarrassed to be loving it. While the story is completely captivating and original, it is riddle with swearing, sex and the like. Sometimes a page had so many F words on it that I would literally turn around hoping no innocent child was reading over my shoulder. Since the basis of the story is a man who time travels and has no control over and since every time he time travels he ends up at his destination nude, it made for some very interesting scenes that the easily offended would be best to not read this book.

If you could get past all of the grit, the underlying story was beautiful, romantic but frustrating and twisting all at the same time. I love that the story switched vantage points and we heard the events from different people.

This story never left be bored but it did leave me blushing a few times.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tasty Tuesdays- Buffalo Chicken Wings

Seth has been begging me to make him wings for a long time now. They aren't exactly a healthy dinner and so I have been resisting. He finally talked me into last week and this is what I came up with. It is super easy and fast. The longest part is just the frying. This is also really affordable when compared to buying wings at a restaurant.

2-3 pounds chicken wings
enough oil to fry wings in
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons your choice hot sauce
1/2 vinegar

This meal is enough to feed two hungry adults but this recipe is very easily doubled. Buy the chicken wings that are ready to fry (the little bit smaller wings) or you are going to end up cutting off the tips and cutting the wings in half at the joint.

1. Fry chicken wings in oil until cooked inside. I cut each wing open to check, since I have problems with chicken but if you are super sure of your frying skills just fry away.
2. Drain the wings on paper towels.
3. Mix the wings with the sauce.

1. Melt butter in pan.
2. add hot sauce and vinegar.
3. Stir well and then remove from heat.

Serve with celery and ranch!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crafty Sketchbook

Do you need and inexpensive but super cute present idea for your favorite little artist?
My sister's 7th birthday is the week and I needed something that I could easily mail and I knew she would love. I wanted to give her art supplies until I discovered this.
I bought a regular sketchbook at Wal-mart for just over $3.

I took 12x12 scrapbook paper and covered the entire front.
I used Elmer's No Wrinkle glue, which lived up to its no wrinkle name but it took FOREVER to dry.
Then I used paper shapes I had lying around to decorate the cover. You could use stickers and pretty much anything else to cover the sketchbook. Your little artist might actually love to design their sketchbook themselves.
Voila, a present that she loved and it didn't kill the budget. It actually cost me more to mail it then to make it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Book Review- The Two Princesses of Bamarre

In my journey to reach my book reading goal this year, I have read books from all walks of life. I have recently read a lot of memoirs, but sometimes memoirs can be really depressing. I was looking for a light hearted book in the young adult section of the library last week and this is what I came up with. I chose it because I love Ella Enchanted, which is written by the same author.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre was a cute story but no where near as well written as Ella Enchanted. It is pretty original, which I love. The whole story is based around finding a cure for a disease that is steadily killing off the kingdom. The story although predictable in fairy tale fashion took many twists and turns before ending up at the inevitable happily ever after.

This book isn't going to change your life, it isn't full of literary value but you just might find it enjoyable.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

If you read this book and don't like it, lie to me and tell me you do. I left a little piece of myself on the island of Guernsey when I was done reading this book. The whole book is written as a series of letters from the main character to various people. The main character is an author who is looking for the subject of her next book and her search takes her to Guernsey.

The characters felt so real. The tales of the hardships they went through during the German occupation broke my heart and made me want to join some sort of underground resistance even though it happened more than 50 years ago.

I became friends with these characters. I could see myself planning a trip to Guernsey and finding my new friends on the street, joining in their conversations as if I had been a member of their literary society all along.

This book is magical, when it was picked for our book club, I looked at the title and kind of wondered what kind of book I was going to have to read but now I find myself wishing that the library didn't have so I would be forced to buy it for book club. I already want to check it out again, when I just barely returned it to the library's shelf.

Read it, you won't regret it and if you do, lie to me. I don't think I could handle people not loving my new friends.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Review- The Glass Castle

I have met a lot of bad parents in my life. My parents did foster care, so seeing parents that can't take care of their children is nothing new too me but this book still floored me. I couldn't believe full grown adults could act so childish.

In this book the children become the adults, finding ways to survive by digging through trash and taking care of each other while the adults indulge themselves on candy and alcohol. The kids are the ones who want to escape the life of homelessness while the parents thrive on it. They were homeless because it was the easiest thing to be. They didn't have to report to a job everyday or go anywhere specific everyday, they could just wander around and they like it that way.

Even when this family wasn't homeless the kids were the parents. The mom couldn't even get herself up in the morning to go to work. The kids would have to wake her and shove her out the door. It sickened me to see these children's childhood snatch away from them.

It was a sad book, but it was also a tale of children becoming strong and triumphing. I would recommend. It was one of those books whose story was so unbelievable that you can't look away.

Tasty Tuesdays- Pomegranate Apple Salad

1 head romaine lettuce leaves
1 pomegranate
2-3 green apples

1. Wash and dry lettuce leaves.
2. Remove seeds from the pomegranate.
3. Chop apple into thin strips
4. Combine ingredients and toss with poppy seed dressing. Serve immediately.

You can either make poppyseed dressing or buy some from the store. Brianna's Salad Dressing is our favorite if you decide to go the store bought route. Here is my recipe for homemade if you want that instead.

2/3 cup of vinegar
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 sugar
1 1/2 tsp fresh mustard
1 1/2 tsp. red onion
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients and then 1 tbl. poppy seeds.