Monday, February 21, 2011

Follow-up ...

So… the French Onion Soup turned out pretty good yesterday. It was quite tasty, but it was missing…. Something. We had so much left over that we took a tub of it to John’s parents and they enjoyed it too. Father-in-Law says that maybe it just needed more salt, or perhaps the onions needed more caramelization.




Today I have the irrational desire to permanently stay home and learn a lucrative craft so I can just be crafty and not have to work in an office anymore….


What kind of crafting should I take up?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I should be tired

On Saturday I... Woke up. Fed the cats two kinds of food. Made lunch, sent John to work. Did the grocery shopping, laundry and the Relief Society Newsletter. Washed all the dishes, by hand and in the dishwasher, including the cats water bowl. Cleaned the litter box. Moved all the stuff out of the bathroom. Swept the kitchen, hallway, bathroom, laundry room. Scrubbed the mildew off the bathroom walls. Washed the hallway walls. (But not the ceiling. I personally don’t really believe in cleaning ceilings but mine are REALLY gross. They were dirty when we moved in 8 years ago and with the combination of the base grossness plus the swamp cooler they're unbearable now... besides, we're working towards painting them.) Scrubbed a few pieces of the floor on my hands and knees. Folded the laundry... took a 30 minute nap… then after that i scrubbed the tub and the toilet and had to put everything back where I found it... By the end of the evening I had a migraine. Surprise! And it was only 9:00PM so I went to bed.
I guess the steam mop and vacuum have to wait until Monday.
Now it’s Sunday and I've been wide awake since 2 AM... you'd think with everything I did yesterday I would have slept most of the day away. I lay in bed as long as I could… until 5:30 AM and then got up to make this recipe for my new food of the week:

French Onion Soup
Cooktime: 30 minutes active - 8-10 hours total servings 6 – 8

4-5 onions, sliced
3 T olive oil
2 bay leaves
48 oz (4 cans) vegetable broth (beef broth or beef/chicken broth mix)
French baguette
Gruyere Cheese
S & P to taste

Toss sliced onions with olive oil. Add onions and bay leaves to crock pot and cook for 3-4 hours. Stir and add water or stock if you think they are too dry. If not, continue cooking for another 3-4 hours. Add stock and continue cooking for 30 minutes longer.

Slice baguette and brush both sides with olive oil. Toast for 10 minutes in 350° oven.

Slice cheese.

When soup is finished cooking, ladle into oven-proof bowls. Place one or two baguettes on the top and top with cheese slices. Broil for 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Note: The cup or bowl should be filled all the way to the top with the soup. You will also want the croutons to fit the top of your cup/bowl like a lid. (they can be cut and pieced in to fit) Now you can add the cheese and broil. This method allows you to push the cheese into the soup with your spoon.

We'll see how this turns out later. It looks like we'll be having it for lunch today.

Who knew John's second job would make me so productive. I don't really know if it was energy that got me all through that, or just loneliness.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What's Up With Us?

Movies I haven't commented on yet:
TRON: Legacy (2010) - 3D IMAX ... It Was Awesome! I have heard a lot of people complain about this movie, but personally, I really enjoyed it. We saw it opening day and we weren't disappointed. I went into it looking for a high tech action movie, and I wasn't looking for a remake or continued story line. I just wanted a good movie, and that's what I got. Will it be as impressive when I buy it on DVD and watch it on my little TV? I don't know, but I will own it anyway.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) - Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil exes in order to win her heart. This movie was so amusing. The whole video game/comic book feel to it was great. John and I both really enjoyed it.
Family Guy: It's A Trap! (2010) - Family Guy's version of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was terrible. There were parts that were funny, parts that were offensive, and parts that were just plain stupid. I don't suggest watching this one.

What did we do last week:
Well, I cleaned out my side of the closet. Unfortunately there is still a lot that needs to go. I would look through and even though I know that shirt doesn't fit I love the color and "I'll lose weight and it will fit again." but we all know that that isn't how it goes. I just need to let go of that pretty pink shirt and those Old Navy shirts that I loved that just don't quite button over the abundant bosom that I have. I just need to let them go and realize that IF (when) I lose the weight I can just buy new clothes. And that's fun ... right? So Tonight it's back to the closet to pull out more stuff and pass it on to those who need it more than I do.
**Update** When I got home from work today I got to work on the DI pile. I tossed out anything in the closet that didn't fit. Except my dresses because dresses are to hard to find. It was hard, but I did it, and thank heavens for black garbage bags so I didn't have to look at what got thrown out. I got rid of shirts and shoes and sweaters from my closet. I pulled coffee mugs from the cupboard, flower vases, a cat claw tower, a kick-bat, a lamp, old cookbooks, games and some unwanted Christmas decorations...
I ended up with four garbage bags, two boxes and a few random items that all got to go to the DI Trailer that so conveniently was at the stake center this week. It's amazing what throwing out all that stuff can do for the soul. I can almost get to the bed in the "other room" so close yet so far.

Last Friday was February 11th and it was Lucy's 4th Birthday. I can't believe that she's four years old... (but that also means that I can't believe it's been almost two years since Lariann passed away.) Scott and Ariane had Lucy's party on Saturday since all us adults (me, john, rachel, devin, ariane and scott) went to see Spamalot on Friday night. (More about that in a moment) She wanted a Star Wars party so she got one. I was given the opportunity to make Lucy's cake. Scott just wanted to buy one, and Ariane thought it would be fun to make one, and then I offered my services. It was R2-D2 and I must say it turned out fantastic. Lucy was super excited for her cake. R2 is her favorite Star Wars character, and I was more than happy to oblige. It was two layers one chocolate layer and one yellow layer with chocolate frosting in the middle.
I got the pattern to draw R2 from this website How To Draw Cartoons Online and the step by step instructions were very helpful. I'm sure I'll use it again another day for another cake. I used my Wilton frosting tips 2, 16, and 18 to do the stars and striping and outlining, and I also used a few frosting bags with just the tip cut off for some of the outlines and details. I learned three things while making this cake.
My adorable niece and her awesome cake
1) Don't buy the cheap frosting color it's not worth it in the end when the added color breaks down the consistency of the frosting and it starts running out like ink. Oh, and my finger is still green.
2) If using decorating sugar for details; it doesn't take as much as you think it should.
3) When freezing your cake, make sure it is lying flat in the freezer because when it defrosts and settles it will crack your frosting. (I need a bigger freezer.)
Everyone at the party was amazed by my caking skills and my mother-in-law took the opportunity to brag about me. (he he) One of Scott's cousins actually thought it was from the store (I like that compliment.) But now I have requests for cakes from Ariane's sister. Her son's birthday is in April and I said I was willing. I have a few people who have also requested cakes, but I don't know how generous I'm feeling. I may have to start charging for my time but then I'll be just as bad as the grocery store.

As I said before, we went to see "Spamalot: A new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail" on Friday and it was great. John and I were supposed to have seen this about three years ago when it came through the last time, but I was having my super asthma attack at the time and didn't know it. We gave our tickets to our friends Logan & Jenny and they went with the rest of the Evans' instead of us. But they all loved it and have raved about it and John and I just felt left out because we had really wanted to go. Well, last year when the 2010-2011 Theatre season was announced there were so many shows we wanted to see that we got season tickets. Spamalot was one of them. The show is entertaining, funny, full of obscene gestures and offensive. They poked fun at broadway, gays, jews, and themselves. But we loved it. What is Monty Python without some offensiveness? It's like watching a Mel Brooks movie and expecting not to be offended. It just doesn't happen. The music was fun and there were several songs that were familiar from other Monty Python albums. You can never go wrong with "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". There was even a little inspiration with "Find Your Grail". Would I recommend this musical to others ... only if you like Monty Python and aren't easily offended. Also, you should probably be over the age of 15 because I just don't think it would be appropriate for anyone younger than that.

For my new recipe last week I made S'mores. Here is the recipe:

S’More Bars Recipe
Prep Time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 30 to 35 mins

1 stick of butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 king-sized milk chocolate bars
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (7 full-sized graham cracker sheets, processed till fine)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Use an electric mixer to cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Set aside. Meanwhile,whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan.
Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side.
Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Be sure to cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16 squares.

I think I used too much marshmallow cream, and I over cooked it. So this wasn't as good as I wanted them to be. Maybe you'll have more luck with them. John and I each had one and that was it.

This weeks new recipe... I went for something easy... and we love it:

Italian Cream Soda
Serves 4

1 cup Italian Syrup Flavor (Choose your favorite: Vanilla, Cherry, Orange, Raspberry, Almond, Hazelnut or Caramel)
1/2 cup Half & Half or Heavy Cream
2 1/2 cups Club Soda
Ice (as needed)
Whipped cream (if desired)

MIX ingredients and serve over ice.
ADD a whipped cream garnish to make it more special!

Being a non-alcohol drinker it seems a stretch sometimes to come up with a tasty fun drink and this is my favorite thing to get when I go to any Italian restaurant (or anywhere that serves this drink.) What could be more fun than to make them at home?! The Italian syrup can be found in the coffee/tea aisle at the grocery store. My local Fresh Market didn't have a great selection so I bought strawberry flavor even though I really wanted orange. But I made-do with the strawberry. This is a yummy fun drink ... just remember to include a nice straw to drink and stir it with.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


The Green Hornet - Jan. 14 

I Am Number Four - Feb. 18

Apollo 18 - March 4

Red Riding Hood – March 11

Battle: Los Angeles - March 11

Paul - March 18

Source Code - April 1

Thor - May 6

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - May 20

X-Men: First Class - June 3

Super 8 - June 10

Green Lantern - June 17

Rise of the Apes - June 24

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - July 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - July 15

Captain America: The First Avenger - July 22

Cowboys & Aliens - July 29

Conan the Barbarian - August 19

Fright Night - Aug. 19

The Apparition – Sept. 9

Real Steel - Oct. 7

The Thing - Oct. 14

Immortals – Nov. 11

Hugo Cabret - Dec. 9

Sherlock Holmes 2 - Dec. 16

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn - Dec. 23

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Today is John's Birthday

Today has been rather eventful for being a Saturday. We have gotten so used to our Saturday's being those lazy days where nothing really gets done and we're lucky if we change out of our pajama's into real clothes, but since it was John's birthday it was a special day.
I know I said earlier that I wasn't going to get to try a new recipe this week with everything that has been going on, but I did manage it. Last night after we finally made it home from work I got the bee in my bonnet to get something done and I decided to make something new for John's birthday breakfast because I really wasn't in the mood to wake up early and make him waffles. So I went back to and came up with this recipe:

Baked Apple French Toast Recipe
Prep Time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 40 to 50 mins

4 slices thick cut cinnamon swirl bread
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
4 egg whites
2 cups lowfat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 medium granny smith apples (sliced into thin 1/4 inch pieces)
powdered sugar for dusting
maple syrup for serving

Cut cinnamon swirl bread into one inch cubes, place in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, vanilla and milk. Sprinkle sugar over bread cubes and then add egg mixture. Stir in cinnamon and apples. Pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish and let sit in the fridge for at least two hours. Can be left overnight. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until set. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle each serving with maple syrup. Serves 4 to 6.

This was super yummy to eat for breakfast (in fact, I think I'll have some more for dinner.) I was glad to just pull it out of the fridge and throw it in the oven this morning. I got out of bed at 7:50am (on a Saturday, are you kidding me?!) to get it into the oven and ready to eat at a reasonable breakfast time. The recipe says to cook it for 40 to 50 minutes, and me, being me, decided to cook it for the full 50 minutes (+ a few extra because the timer went off while I was in the shower) and it turned out a little too dry. I think that next time I'll only do it for the 40 minutes and add additional if needed. John was impressed.
I also had made my own cinnamon swirl bread to use in this recipe since I had some time on Wednesday night. This isn't a new recipe, since I use it all the time:

Grandma Mc's Bread Recipe:

5-6 cups Flour
3Tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
2 packages Yeast (or 4.5 teaspoons)
2 cups Warm Water
1/4 cup Oil

1 Tablespoon Butter

Sift together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. (I use a whisk to incorporate them all together, who wants to actually own a sifter... just one more space taker-upper.) Heat oil and water together to just warm enough that you can comfortably stick your finger in it. Add to flour mixture. Mix in an additional 2.5 to 3 cups of flour. Turn out on to table and knead for 5 minutes. (or as I learned from my friend Holly, "knead until it's soft like a baby's bum.") Put kneaded dough into a greased bowl and let it raise for 1 hour. (Easy trick: turn oven to 400 degrees for 1 minute and then turn it off and put your bowl in the stove to raise. It works great.) Punch down dough and shape into the pans. Cook 2 loaves for 30 to 35 minutes at 375 degrees. Slather tops with butter when it comes out of the oven.
For Cinnamon Bread: mix 1/2 cup Sugar with 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon, roll out dough slather with butter sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mix, roll up like a Cinnamon roll stuff it/them in a bread pan and bake as above.

After breakfast John got his birthday presents. I gave him Doctor Who: Season 2 and Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock for the Wii. He was very excited. I sent him off to play his new game and got to work on his birthday cake.
This year, as it turns out, we have a theme going at our house. On one hand it could be just be "British" in general, but it's narrowing down to be Doctor Who. For this past Christmas John got the entire James Bond Movie Collection (thus being British,) a TARDIS that spins and makes sounds (it's awesome!) and Doctor Who: Season 1. Where as I got a cute little ADIPOSE stress toy for Christmas and for my birthday I got a replica Diana/Kate engagement ring (yep, back to just British again,) and this adorable 10th Doctor. Here he is with the previously mentioned TARDIS:

Isn't he cute. He was made by my ridiculously talented older sister. It appears that the Doctor abounds at our house so why not keep the theme running with John's birthday cake....

If you ignore the blurry-ness of the photo, (it seems I can't hold my camera still after holding a frosting bag for so long,) the frosting job turned out pretty good.
I made the chocolate cake (out of the box) in my bread/meat loaf pan and cooked it using the bunt cake directions on the back of the box. After it was cooked I skimmed off the top with a long knife using the pan rim as my guide, and threw it in the freezer while I made the frosting. Once it cooled a bit I did the crumb layer of frosting and popped it back in the fridge to solidify. I saved out about a cup of frosting to use for the white and black for later while I tried to come up with the correct TARDIS blue. That was harder than I thought. In the end it was a lot of blue and a few dabs of black coloring and it turned out a bit blue-gray, and that was good enough for me. I used John's Christmas TARDIS for my pattern and used my Wilton frosting tips 2, 46, and 47 for the detailing. The only things not edible on this are the signs because I cheated on the notice and ambulance service signs and printed those out on just plain old paper and pasted them on with a touch of frosting.  All in all I think it is pretty awesome. Now, my fingers are black and blue as well as my tongue and lips, (from frosting, not bruising) but I had fun making it.
Sad thing is, is that John doesn't even get a piece of birthday cake on his birthday. He had to go to work at the Energy Solutions Arena for the Jazz game tonight. Yes, John does have a part time Job. Yes, he is still working at the Church Office Building. No, he doesn't need the job, he just picked it up to get us a little closer to out of debt and a little closer to a house or mini-John-or-Liz. No, that doesn't mean I'm pregnant or buying a house. Yes, I'll tell you when I am.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I finished a project.

Look at my afghan

I made this with my new found talent of crocheting. Isn't it cute. It took me a month to make working on it here and there when John was otherwise occupied. I had a lot of fun making it, but there were some frustrating moments when I'd lose count and I was too annoyed to pull out the stitches and go back and fix the issues. I know I can see the mistakes, but I'm sure that no one else will be scrutinizing it as closely as I do. The next step it so decide what I'm going to do with it. Will it go in my box of baby-stuff-that-will-never-be-used, or should I give it to someone else. Hmmm.
I've started on a new one that uses a different stitch. It's a alternating pattern of single crochet and double crochet. This next one should be fun to try to make work. I was given a bunch of yarn from my mother-in-law that once belonged to Grandma Evans. It's all some dated colors: Brown, green, off-white, and orange-yellow-white-reddish variegated colors. I think I need to go buy some orange yarn to make up the fie skeins that the pattern calls for. I think I started it out with my stitches being tight, but I guess I'll just have to live with it and try to loosen up a little. Who knows I may have to undo the eight or so rows I have already done. Or not. I'll let you know how it turns out in a few months.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eating with Liz 2011 - Cheesecake Filling

This week has been full of... stuff. Between my mother-in-law having knee surgery, and John starting a new part-time job I have realized that there is not a single day this week that I'll be able to make a new recipe for us to eat. So instead of a new recipe today I'm going to share something new I found.
 - Philadelphia Ready-to-Eat Cheesecake Filling - 
I saw  this in a freezer case at the store several weeks ago and I showed it to John jokingly saying, "I wonder how this tastes?" Then, about three days later my sister-in-law texted me a picture of it from the store with just about the same sentiment. After thinking about it for a while we decided to buy some yesterday.
I must say... cheese cake in a tub is quite yummy. Nom nom nom.
At first I thought, hmmm, I can use Nilla Wafers and make mini-cheesecakes in cupcake papers, or dipping some strawberries or granola or spreading it on gram crackers, oooo whipping it up and using it for frosting on cakes and cinnamon rolls or... or... or... There are so many good ideas to use this with. Its a cheese cake lovers dream.  
Let me tell you though, I did not look at the nutritional information. I don't care how much sugar, carbs, fat, hydrogenated oils or dead puppies are included in this stuff. It's just plain yummy.
Last night after dinner we were craving something sweet and I thought: Ah-ha! I have cheese cake filling in the fridge. I took 3 spoons full of cheesecake, added a few Nilla Wafers and some sugar cookies and wah-la! Instant dessert.
It has the same taste as one of those instant cheesecake mixes that you get out of the box. The filling does have little bit of a tangy flavor that some people might not like, but I found that it wasn't so bad. I also found though that three spoons full were just a little too much. Next time I'll just do two. 
There's your dessert idea for the week. It's easy and tasty and one of those things to have in the fridge for one of "those" kind of days.

I think I'll try making this recipe with my filling... now, I just need to get to the store somehow.

Cheesecake Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

Whole Strawberries Cheesecake Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
Philadelphia Ready-To-Eat Cheesecake filling
Good Quality Dipping Chocolate

Wash strawberries and pat dry with paper towel.
Remove stem from berries and core the center of each berry. Be careful to leave bottom in tact.
Fill a ziplock baggie with the cheesecake filling and squeeze filling into each berry.
Melt dipping chocolate (in microwave-safe bowl at 30-second increments until chocolate is smooth and creamy.
Dip strawberries to cover about 3/4 of the berry and place on small baking sheet lined with wax paper.
Fill a second plastic bag with chocolate (regular or white) and drizzle to create design.
Chill - but set out to room temp before serving.
You can store these in a sealed container in refrigerator.

Happy cooking!