Saturday, October 30, 2010

Austenland

I have never seen Pride and Prejudice. There I said it! All my family has, as well as my in-laws and probably most of my friends. I just never got around to it. HOWEVER, there was a funny TV series on PBS last year that was a spin off of it and I really enjoyed it. Most of the parts I didn't get were easily explained to me by my HUSBAND.

Unfortunately, says my husband, he was subjected to watch Pride and Prejudice a little too much while he was living at home. I just think it's hilarious that he knows way more about it than me. He's a good sport about it.

I was a little hesitant to try this book Austenland by Shannon Hale because of the fact I have read the book it's based off. Here's the description from Shannon Hale's website:

"Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen—or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?"

MY REVIEW:Funny, very funny! Always a fan of Shannon Hale, but this one is a different twist to her normal books. She usually writes LDS fiction, but this one isn't. It's funny like her other ones though, which is what I love about her. It's a comedy about this girl who's obsessed with Mr.Darcy, like most girls are. I totally recommend this book, such a good read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff I

I've been hearing from tons of people they got snow here in Utah. Thankfully, it must have skipped over our house because I'm not ready. With cold weather upon us, it's the perfect time to break out the old crock pot. This recipe is very highly rated on allrecipes.com but I've never had an opportunity to try it..... until now. I was a little weary because I've tried beef stroganoff in a slow cooker before and it turned out terrible. This, however, was EXCELLENT and I'm keeping it for sure.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff I
Ingredients:
1 pound cubed beef stew meat
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed golden mushroom soup
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water
4 ounces cream cheese

Directions:
1. In a slow cooker, combine the meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and water.
2. Cook on Low setting for 8 hours, or on High setting for about 5 hours. Stir in cream cheese just before serving.

Here are my results:

Heist Society


Here's the descriptions as found on amazon.com:
"Tired of her lifelong involvement in her family's illicit dealings, teenager Katarina Bishop enrolls herself in a prestigious boarding school. Then after a mere three months there, 16-year-old billionaire Hale arranges for her to get kicked out. He informs her that five paintings have been stolen from the menacing Arturo Taccone and that her father is the prime suspect. Determined to save him by locating the real thief and stealing the paintings back, Kat gathers a crack team of larcenous teens for the heist to be pulled off before the two-week deadline. However, her resolve falters when she learns that the paintings are Nazi war spoils. She negotiates complicated relationships in an action-packed plot, and the unknown identity of the thief suggests a sequel. This irresistible light-fingered fairy tale is elevated by glamour and mystery. Carter's style is conversational, smooth, and clever, exposing Kat's wry humor and her steely determination. Amid themes of family loyalty and identity, the protagonist comes to understand herself, her beliefs, and her place in her family. Daring, delicious, but filled with a sense of purpose, Heist Society mixes classic elements of the adolescent bildungsroman into a high-stakes escapade."

MY REVIEW: I enjoyed it and found myself not wanting to put it down. I heard somebody compare it to Ocean's Eleven but I wouldn't go that far. You want to know what happens but it's not high suspense. I quick read but I liked it!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Breaded Ranch Chicken

As I planned this week's meals out, I needed something simple most days as I would be caring for a bed-ridden hubby this week. I have had this recipe stashed in my recipe box for some time now and decided it was time to give it a try. I'm glad I did. This is a simple,quick, and good tasting chicken recipe. Although not a 5 star recipe by any means, it was hearty and well liked in my house.

Breaded Ranch Chicken

Ingredients:
3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1(1 ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix
8(4 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Directions:
1. In a shallow bowl, combine the cornflakes, Parmesan cheese and salad dressing mix. Dip chicken in butter, then roll in cornflake mixture to coat. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until chicken juices run clear


Here are the results:

Devil's Food Cake



Here's the description from amazon.com:
"It s been years since author Thom Mortenson has been back to Garrison, Colorado. As part of the committee who invited the bestselling writer to speak at the library fundraising benefit, Sadie Hoffmiller wants everything to be perfect right down to the homemade devils food cake she baked herself. Certainly, murder was not on the menu. When Thoms manager ends up dead on stage, Sadie jumps in to offer her guidance and expertise to investigators. But when the police refuse to take her seriously, Sadie has no choice but to pursue justice on her own. After all, is Sadie to blame if she keeps stumbling over information? Can Sadie turn her back when people intricately woven into the deception keep crossing her path? With her son, Shawn, at her side, her reputation on the line, and a full cast of suspicious characters, Sadie Hoffmiller is once again cooking her way through a case that offers far more questions than answers."

MY REVIEW:This book is 3rd as part of Josi Kilpack's murder mystery series, but each book can be read individually without a problem. I enjoy her combination of food loving, problem solving, heroin Sadie Hoffmiller as she tries to figure out the latest murder that she witnesses. With plenty of suspects, it kept me guessing until the very end.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Candy Shop Wars



I enjoyed the tremendously popular series Fablehaven by Brandon Mull and decided to try one of his other books out and listen to it while I was enlessly cleaning my house. Here's a description of The Candy Shop Wars from amazon.com:
"Welcome to the Sweet Tooth Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe, where the confections are a bit on the . . . unusual side. Rock candy that makes you weightless. Jawbreakers that make you unbreakable. Chocolate balls that make you a master of disguise. Four young friends--Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon--meet the grandmotherly Mrs. White, owner of the Sweet Tooth, and soon learn about the magical side effects of her candies.

In addition, the ice cream truck driver, Mr. Stott, has arrived with a few enchanted sweets of his own. But what about the mysterious man in the dark overcoat and fedora hat? Why are all these "magicians" trying to recruit Nate and his friends? Who should they trust?

The mystery deepens and the danger unfolds as the four youngsters discover that the magical strangers have all come to town in search of a legendary, hidden treasure--one that could be used for great evil if it fell into the wrong hands. The kids, now in over their heads, must try to retrieve the treasure first. And so, the war begins . . . "

MY REVIEW: It was a cute book and a little slower moving and less adventurous than the Fablehaven series, but fun nonetheless. It would be really fun to listen to with young children as it's easy to follow and fun. Overall, it was cute and fun.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Pretzels

My sister got this cute little Halloween pretzel kit from the store last year and we loved making these cute little edible chocolate pretzels. Here are the cute pictures:

Witch's Finger


Mummies

Pumpkins

Spiders

They came in a little kit found here or you can go to Hancock Fabric and pick one up. They come with the little molds and, paint brushes, and colored chocolates. You do have to buy your own pretzel rods though. You don't have to color them different colors on the same rod,we just thought they looked cooler that way.

Happy Halloween!

The Actor and the Housewife



I recently just finished reading The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale. I couldn't put it down it was so good. Here's the description from her website:

"Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity heartthrob Felix Callahan. A few hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened, though nothing has happened...it isn't sexual. It isn't even quite love. But soon Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what's hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends--talk-on-the-phone, drop-everything-in-an-emergency, laugh-out-loud-at-stupid-jokes best friends.

Becky's loving and devoted husband, Mike, is mostly unconcerned. Her children roll their eyes. Her large extended family and neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special... something unusual, something that seems from the outside--and sometimes from the inside too--completely impossible to sustain.

On the surface, Becky's story of a steadfast housewife and the handsome star is the ultimate romantic fantasy. But the depth of emotion that Shannon Hale shows us in Becky is the strength that underpins only the strongest relationships. It is what makes this story resonate beyond the glitter of Felix's movie-stardom to the deeper understanding of the kinds of true love we all dream of having.

Shannon Hale has created a magical and often hilarious story that explores what might happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life, and changes everything."

MY REVIEW: LOVED IT! It's such an interesting basis for a story and so bizarre, you just want to know what happens. Shannon Hale is an incredible author and seriously made me laugh and cry in the book. Amazingly well written!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chilling Jack-o’-Lantern Smoothies

I got so many cute Halloween ideas from a recipe group I attended. One of my favorites was this Chilling Jack-o'-Lantern Smoothie. The original recipe was from Bettycrocker.com but we tweaked it a little to make it more simple. Here's the original recipe:

Chilling Jack-o'-Lantern Smoothies
1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips
4 plastic cups (8 to 9 oz each)
3 containers (6 oz each) Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free orange cr√®me or harvest peach yogurt
1/4 cup frozen (thawed) orange juice concentrate
1 can (11 oz) mandarin orange segments, chilled, drained
1 banana, sliced

Directions:
1. In small microwavable bowl, melt chocolate chips on High for 1 minute or until melted. With tip of knife, spread chocolate on inside of each plastic cup to resemble eyes, nose and mouth of jack-o’-lantern. Repeat with 3 more cups. Refrigerate 5 minutes or until chocolate is set.
2. Meanwhile, in blender container, place all remaining ingredients; cover and blend until smooth. Pour into chocolate painted cups.

HERE'S WHAT I DID:
1 Tbs Nutella
1/2 bag frozen peaches
1 C. sugar
milk to desired consistency

Directions:
1.With tip of knife, spread Nutella on inside of each plastic cup to resemble eyes, nose and mouth of jack-o’-lantern.

2.Meanwhile, in blender container, place all remaining ingredients; cover and blend until smooth. Pour into chocolate painted cups.

Here are the results:


ADORABLE AND TASTY!

Eat Pray Love



I've wanted to read this book even before the movie came out and I finally got the chance. Here's the description from BOOKLIST:

"Gilbert, author of The Last American Man (2002) and a well-traveled I'll-try-anything-once journalist, chronicles her intrepid quest for spiritual healing. Driven to despair by a punishing divorce and an anguished love affair, Gilbert flees New York for sojourns in the three Is. She goes to Italy to learn the language and revel in the cuisine, India to meditate in an ashram, and Indonesia to reconnect with a healer in Bali. This itinerary may sound self-indulgent or fey, but there is never a whiny or pious or dull moment because Gilbert is irreverent, hilarious, zestful, courageous, intelligent, and in masterful command of her sparkling prose. A captivating storyteller with a gift for enlivening metaphors, Gilbert is Anne Lamott's hip, yoga-practicing, footloose younger sister, and readers will laugh and cry as she recounts her nervy and outlandish experiences and profiles the extraordinary people she meets. As Gilbert switches from gelato to kundalini Shakti to herbal cures Balinese-style, she ponders the many paths to divinity, the true nature of happiness, and the boon of good-hearted, sexy love. Gilbert's sensuous and audacious spiritual odyssey is as deeply pleasurable as it is enlightening." by Donna Seaman

MY REVIEW: I loved this book when she was in Italy discovering her love of food; in India learning to mediate; but it lost my interest in Indonesia when she's trying to find love. It turns out what she's trying to find is LUST, not love. Totally inappropriate. Like I said though, her journey through Italy is so fun and yummy, and I loved her description of grueling yoga and mediation sessions.So my suggestion is if your going to read this book is to read the first and second part and end it there. You will not miss the ending.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pumpkin Dip

Happy October! I would like to start the month with a fantastic recipe for pumpkin dip. I served this at a recipe exchange and everybody loved it!I served this with apples, graham crackers, and nilla wafers!

Pumpkin Dip

Ingredients:
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar (I only used 1 and 1/2 Cups and thought it was perfect)
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill until serving.

Here are my results: