New Year – New Race

I missed out on this last year, but am officially signed up for 2013!  Here we go!

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The Girl Who Chased the Moon

The above book was the topic of this month’s book club (I have with my friends), but due to it’s popularity I was only able to get a copy about a week ago.  With Thanksgiving in between the meeting last night, and when I received the book, I was unable to finish.  However, I was so enthralled by how far I had gotten as of Monday evening… that I totally skipped out on book club because I wanted to see how it ended (seriously, it’s very good).

 

The book has two main storylines:

The first is about a young girl (17ish) who has recently lost her mother and so goes to live with her grandfather in the small town of Mullaby in North Carolina, where “strange and wondrous” things happen.  When she arrives, she soon learns that the reason she knew so little about this tiny town was because her mother had left some very bad blood behind, and the girl – Emily – has quite the reputation to live down.

Mullaby has some very unique characteristics and legends surrounding it; including ghost lights that have been seen around town for years and years, a local gentle giant, and wallpaper that changes on it’s own.  While this hint of magic usually isn’t something I’m drawn too, I think that thanks to books like Twilight, we’re all a little more interested in the genre.  (And it does add a light, fun note to the story as well.)

The second storyline surrounds woman Emily meets from her mother’s past, Julia.  Julia was a troubled teen and is back in town running her father’s business until she plans to sell it and move back to where she’s moved on with her life.  She has turned things around as she’s grown up but still battles some of the “ghosts” from her past.

Both storylines have a hint of romance and mystery, and the book leaves you wondering just what the lights are in the woods at night, and also what on earth Emily’s mother did that was so horrible… it’s really a page turner.

With my DVR so full of good shows these days, it’s difficult to put aside some time with my Kindle, however last night I stayed up until roughly 1:30 finishing this.  Definitely worth the read!

Duke’s branching out

As I was walking through the bean and canned tomato aisle at WalMart this past weekend, I picked up a can of Busch’s Black Beans… and wondered what I could make with them.

Your taste buds change over time and currently, I’m a fan of black beans (and buffalo type/spicy sauces).  I turned the can over and voila, there was a recipe on the back!  I made it this weekend and it’s a keeper! (Or it wouldn’t be featured here.) :]

Busch’s Traditional Rice and Beans – serves 6-7 as a side

via

What to gather:

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 (15 ounce) can BUSH’S® Black Beans, drain and reserve juices

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon garlic salt

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

2 cups cooked rice

What to do:

In large skillet heat olive oil; cook onion and green pepper until crisp tender.

Stir in tomatoes, beans, thyme and garlic salt, cook 3 minutes.

Add vinegar, pepper sauce, and reserved juices continue to cook 5 minutes.

Serve over rice.

Notes: I only had white wine vinegar, so I used roughly 2 1/2 T of that instead of the above, as it was all I had left.  I also guestimated on all measurments that weren’t liquid, and more than doubled the hot sauce because 1) I only had Frank’s Red Hot and it’s a little more mild than, say, Sriracha (spell?), and 2.) See above, I’m liking spicer foods these days.

One thing I’ve learned about cooking is that it’s not baking (seriously).  You can guess sometimes and its probably not going to be ruined… such is the case here.  Super filling… good for you… and delicious!

Who’s a winner… I’m a winner!

I enter a lot of contests… they are free after all, so you might as well try!  And so, occasionally I’ll win something – usually tickets to an event.

The two that stick out the most are a couple years ago when I won tickets from vita.mn for a band that I’d never heard of playing at the Pantages.  I went with a friend, and we ended up leaving before the show was over (not our thing).

The other was more exciting… just a few months ago I was able to go to Batman Live! via a contest from one of my favorite local shows.

But… when it comes to everyday things – BINGO, pull tabs, raffles… other people hold the luck.  Not last Tuesday though… 😀

While out playing BINGO to celebrate the last day of a co-worker, I won $150 on a pull tab!!  Oh yeah… $150!  I was so excited!  I’ve never won a sum of money that large ever… and I was ecstatic!

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

So, it’s been a pretty busy week at work… and outside of work… so I haven’t exactly been near my own computer very much.  BUT last weekend I made a recipe originally discovered by my mom on pinterest; and it’s so so good!  A total comfort food, and super easy to make:

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti– serves a lot [makes an entire crock pot]

What to gather:

16 oz dry angel hair pasta, cooked

1lb Velveeta Cheese (2%) – cut into little cubes

12.5 oz can chicken breast, drained and flaked

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

12.5 oz can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1 small onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

a good shake of Italian seasonings, oregano, parsley

salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

Grab your crockpot and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and stir to mix well.  Cook on LOW for 2-3 hours.  Stir again just before serving.

As a “only cook for myself” type of gal right now, I’ve found that you can keep this for about a week… however keeping food too long has never really scared me (sometimes to my detriment); so, use your own judgement.

Pumpkin Seeds

Hey look!  I’m only a week and a half behind! ;]

Did some googling and found a few recipes for cooking up those seeds that we all pulled out of our pumpkins a while back, and most of them were the exact same.  I ended up with:

“Many Trips to the Oven” Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (my name for it)

What to Gather:

Pumpkin Seeds

Olive Oil

Salt

Misc Seasonings (I chose Garlic Powder, I’ve also heard of Chili Powder to give them a bit of a kick)

What to do:

Thoroughly rinse seeds to get all the “guts” off.  Lay out on paper towels overnight to completely dry.

Preheat oven to 200.  Toss seeds in olive oil (reserve bowl) and lay out on a cookie sheet.  Season with Salt and whatever other seasonings you’d like.  Bake for 1 hour total, taking out every 10 minutes or so to toss in empty bowl with olive oil residue and lay back out on cookie sheet. (Thats it.)

I also happen to know, that you can wait a while with seeds “drying” in the fridge while you get around to cooking them…