Food Friday – Hubs Home Alone II

Hello again!

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I went out of town the other week, and had to make food for the hubs to eat while I was gone. I picked some recipes I wish I’d saved for when I was home!

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Though I didn’t make this with the crockpot method, this Crockpot Lasagna Soup from Family Fresh Meals was easy to make and reheat.

Crockpot Lasagna Soup.

Crockpot Lasagna Soup.

This was delicious, though not particularly reminiscent of lasagna. It was more a meat sauce with shells, but that’s tasty enough.

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I prepped these Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna Rolls from Rachel Cooks up to the point of baking and left them for him to finish off the day he wanted to eat them.

Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna Rolls

Pepperoni Pizza Lasagna Rolls

They were right up his alley. The sauce was fantastic. He said that could be my new go-to sauce. I’m going to make these again so I can have some!

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Next, I made a casserole using an augmented version of this Sloppy Joe recipe from Pioneer Woman, and masked potatoes. I forgot to take a picture of the casserole once it was finished, but it would have just looks like a pan full of mashed potatoes, so I don’t think we’re missing much.

Sloppy Joe Filling

Sloppy Joe Filling

My parents used to make something similar to this they called Shepherd’s Pie, but I think the cookbook called it hamburger pie or something. I can’t find the recipe anymore, but I think I tweaked this nicely. I added 2 teaspoons of thyme and a can of corn to the sloppy joe recipe, which gave me a similar flavor profile to what I remember. This is the point I started wondering why I was making all these recipes that sounded so good to me when I couldn’t eat them! It’s good he enjoyed it, or I might have been mad.

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Last up, these Calico Beans from Necessary Indulgences. This is definitely man food with bacon and ground beef.

Calico Beans

Calico Beans

Yum! I had a taste after I made them, and I wanted to save some for myself! I only used 1/2 cup of the brown sugar because I don’t like my beans too sweet and they came out great. This would be a perfect side for a summer barbeque.

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That’s all for this Food Friday. See you Monday!

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Novel Monday – Royals by A.B. Wright

Hello again!

Last weeks novel was Royals by A.B. Wright.

I wasn’t positive what I was getting into when I started reading it. I was mostly pulled in by the excitement of reading a fellow NaNo’s novel.

It was an interesting YA novel. The premise was interesting, a society rebuilding from a devastation with royals to rule them.

Something I’ve noticed in a lot of YA novels with a female protagonist, there is a bit of a love triangle here. I’m getting tired of that trope, but it was handled well here. There was a huge jump in one of the characters feelings/motivation that threw me. I felt like there hadn’t been enough of a catalyst for it, and it left me confused for a while.

I was loving the book though. It was entertaining and fun. Then something happened near the end, and I was flummoxed. I felt like I had been hit in the head. It doesn’t change the fact that I enjoyed the book. It was just shocking.

3.5 out of 5. Definitely check this out if you like YA. It’s an entertaining, quick read, and it would support an independent author. Win-win.

So, on to this week!

This weeks novel is…

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling.

As a fan of The Mindy Project, I’m excited to read (well, listen technically, I got the Audible copy) this. I imagine it will be entertaining.

That’s all for this Novel Monday! See you Friday.

Food Friday – 05/22/2015

Hello again!

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I’ve got some great recipes this week.

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Back in January I made this Eggroll in a Bowl recipe from Mostly Homemade Mom, and I made a version of it again this week.

Eggroll in a Bowl

Eggroll in a Bowl

Her recipe called for ground sausage, which I didn’t have then, and still didn’t have. I used group pork this time, and I added 2 tsp each of sriracha and black bean garlic sauce for a bit of a different flavor. Her original recipe is fantastic, mine is just a little different.

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Last August I made Cheesy Chicken, Bacon, Broccoli, and Rice from Kevin and Amanda. Well this week I found out they have a pasta version! Cheesy Chicken Bacon Broccoli Pasta.

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Broccoli Pasta

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Broccoli Pasta

This was so good. It is creamy and bursting with flavor, and it’s not too heavy. I did cut the heavy whipping cream in half with Greek yogurt to lighten the calorie load. If you decide to do that, just remember you have to add the yogurt at the end once you turn the heat off or it can curdle. And that would be a shame in a dish this tasty.

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I made another Kevin and Amanda recipe this week, Cajun Chicken & Rice.

Cajun Chicken and Rice

Cajun Chicken and Rice

Amazingly quick and tasty. I followed the directions and used a bag of frozen pepper stir-fry veggies instead of chopping my own, and it came out just right. I think this recipe took me all of 15 minutes to put together (I had rice already cooked), and it was so flavorful!

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Last this week, but not least, are these Bruschetta Style BBQ Pork Chops from Kitchen Trials.

Brushetta Style BBQ Pork Chops

Brushetta Style BBQ Pork Chops

Wow. I’m not sure what else to say here. These are absolutely amazing! The brushetta topping is fresh and light, and the balsamic vinegar is just right with the pork.

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That’s all for this weeks Food Friday. See you Monday!

Novel Monday – Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates

Hello again!

Last weeks novel was Suicide Forest by Jeremy Bates.

When I started this novel it was just because it was set in Aokigahara, also known as Suicide Forest, in Japan. I had heard about this place a couple years back and it seemed like an interesting place for a horror novel.

For the first quarter of the book I didn’t care for the characters at all. The main character, Ethan seemed completely self-absorbed and obnoxious. The things the characters did and thought seemed somewhat disjointed at the beginning. I thought more than once why would they say that/do that?

I guess my morbid curiosity about the forest pulled me through the first part. Bates crafted a strong creepy atmosphere from the beginning, and throughout the book it got stronger. Tension puled tight as I got deeper into the novel, and they deeper into the forest.

The second half picked up and dragged me along. I couldn’t put it down at that point. As I got closer and closer to the end of the novel, it got crazier and more shocking. There’s a great twist at the end, and I loved it.

4 out of 5. Please check this book out, I found it through Bookbub, and got a great deal on the Kindle version.

So, on to this week!

This weeks novel is…

Royals by A.B. Wright.

This is a novel from an author local to me. I was really excited to see that another NaNoWriMo participant had published and I couldn’t resist reading it for myself.

That’s all for this Novel Monday. See you Friday!

Food Friday – 05/15/2015

Hello again!

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I tried something new this week! But we’ll get to that a little later. I want to start this post with some comfort food.

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I don’t know about you, but pasta has always been a comfort food for me. I love it, and this Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe from She Wears Many Hats was right up my alley.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

This recipe does take a while (1 1/2 hours for me), but it’s not hard and it is worth it! The sauce comes together beautifully and gets an amazing depth from simmering the meatballs in it. It tastes like I spent the entire day on it, and it tasted great the next day for lunch.

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Staying on the comfort food train, I made Cheeseburger Wraps from Six Sisters’ Stuff. This is a fun twist on a cheeseburger, and I actually made a great salad out of the leftovers the next day.

Cheeseburger Wraps

Cheeseburger Wraps

The meat is flavored with ketchup and mustard, and once you layer it with your favorite burger toppings and crisp up the tortilla it tastes just like a burger without the heavy bun.

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So, now I’m finally going to talk about the new thing I tried. Salmon. I’m not a big fish person on any day, but this Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce from Damn Delicious looked too good not to try!

Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce

Teriyaki Salmon with Sriracha Cream Sauce

And it was good! The hubs loved it, and I mean LOVED it. I still wasn’t a huge fan of the actual salmon, but the flavor in the teriyaki and the sriracha cream sauce were amazing! I’m wondering if it would be as good on chicken?

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I got a good deal on shrimp this week, so I tried these Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalepeno Cream Sauce, also from Damn Delicious.

Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

Roasted Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

These were mind-blowing! The shrimp alone is amazing, and then with the jalapeno cream sauce? SO good! I wanted to eat the whole pan by myself. I added some homemade salsa because I can’t eat anything Mexican-themed without it.

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That’s all for this Food Friday! See you Monday

Craft Wednesday – DIY Patio Table

Hello again!

Finished Patio Table

I’m back with a great Craft Wednesday! Just in time for Memorial Day, too! Last week I stumbled on this How to Build a Patio Dining Table post from How To Nest For Less, and it seemed like the perfect solution for me. I had been looking for an affordable table for our deck for weeks and couldn’t find anything I wanted. Not to mention it was a project the hubs and I could do together. How perfect! The actual plans for the table came from Ana White, a fantastic website with over 1000 free building plans.

I’ve got a lot of pictures for this post, so hang in there with me.

After convincing the hubs that this was a perfect solution, we went off to the hardware store. Here’s all the stuff I bought that wasn’t the actual wood.

Supplies

And here’s most of the wood after the hubs cut it to size. This took him no more than 1/2 an hour.

Cut wood

Once they were cut, we sanded all the boards down. At that point it was getting late, so the next step had to wait until the next day, which turned out to be the longest part of the whole project. Throughout the next day I stained all of the tabletop boards and legs with Minwax Woodrose white tint stain. It took longer than I expected due the pre-stain step, so I skipped staining and just sealed the support and apron boards so we could move on more quickly.

Here are two of the tabletop boards. The left has been stained, and the right has been stained and sealed. The sealant did alter the color of the stain a bit, but I liked the end result.

Stain Versus Stain and Seal

Now, we’ve bounced into another day, and I had to finish sealing the stained boards while the hubs built the tabletop supports. Here it is laid out on the deck.

Support

By this time I was finished sealing, so I helped attached the outer side aprons.

Side aprons

Then it was time to attach all 17 tabletop boards! We laid them out how we wanted them, alternating the wood grain direction to help with mitigate any future warping, then stacked them on the end so we wouldn’t get the order mixed up.

Tabletop laid out

This part took us a total of three hours. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, we are novices, so we spent most of that time checking and re-checking.

Screwing in board

Tabletop finally done!

Tabletop done

I was so excited at this point! We had almost finished the table, and I was ridiculously proud of us. The only alteration we made to the plans came next, when we attached the legs. The hubs decided to bolt them on so we could take them off if we ever needed to transport the table. I added another layer of sealant after this to finish off the table.

Legs

All in all, this project took us three days start to finish, from Thursday evening to Saturday afternoon. It was completely worth it, and was a great project for us to do together. We are already considering making the matching bench.

Finished Patio Table

That’s all for this Craft Wednesday! See you Friday!