Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Busy Three Days

Lots going on.  Two recipes, one new and one tried and true and loved.  Finished a book.  Took David to the 4-month appointment [lots of tears were had].  And accomplished a minor miracle.  So here goes....

My food experiences first.  We tried a homemade version of a hamburger helper dish.  While cooking 8 ounces of elbow macaroni, I browned a pound of ground turkey (though the recipe called for ground beef). I added 16 ounces of tomato sauce and a packet of onion soup mix.  After that was mixed I added a cup of cheddar cheese.  When the pasta was finished that got added to the pot as well.  Everything got mixed and then put into a casserole dish (ungreased), topped with another cup of cheddar cheese, and baked at 350 for half an hour (half covered, half uncovered).  It was okay.  We liked the texture and we liked some of the taste, but the onion soup stuff was weird.  We're thinking we'll try it again, but add different spices instead of the onion soup mix.  The chunks of onion didn't cook through and were crunchy and the flavor was just off.

Then tonight's dinner.  This is one of John's favorite dinners, and I really have to agree.  It's pretty simple but just a bit time-consuming.  It is also a one-skillet meal, so it's awesome for clean-up.  You slice a pound of kielbasa sausage lengthwise and then slice about half an inch thick.  Brown this in about a tablespoon of olive oil (I would use grapeseed, but I don't have any).  Add a package of au gratin potatoes and the sauce mix along with 2 1/2 cups of water.  Mix it up and cook for 18-20 minutes over medium heat, stirring every 3-4 minutes or so.  If you don't stir then the potatoes get stuck to the bottom of the pan in a giant lump.  Once the potatoes are soft, add a 8-10 ounce package of mostly thawed California medley veggies (carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower).  We use a full 16 ounce package because it fills out the dish, Jocelyn will actually eat the veggies (even the broccoli - but not the stems), and they are just really good for you!  Mix it all up and cook for 8-10 more minutes.  Remove from the heat, top with about a cup of cheddar cheese, and recover for about 2 minutes to let the cheese melt.  This dish is really pretty with all the colors of the veggies, potatoes, and even the meat.  We really like this meal.  We got it out of the Fast Fixes with Mixes cookbook, which is a favorite in our house.  Maybe someday I'll get pictures, but the food usually disappears too fast. :)

My book: I read Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus. 
From After her sister Athena's tragic death, it's obvious that grief-stricken Persephone "Phe" Archer no longer belongs in Los Angeles. Hoping to make sense of her sister's sudden demise and the cryptic dreams following it, Phe abandons her bubbly LA life to attend an uptight East Coast preparatory school in Shadow Hills, MA -- a school which her sister mysteriously mentioned in her last diary entry before she died.
 Once there, Phe quickly realizes that something is deeply amiss in her new town. Not only does Shadow Hills' history boast an unexplained epidemic that decimated hundreds of its citizens in the 1700s, but its modern townies also seem eerily psychic, with the bizarre ability to bend metal. Even Zach -- the gorgeous stranger Phe meets and immediately begins to lust after -- seems as if he is hiding something serious. Phe is determined to get to the bottom of it. The longer she stays there, the more she suspects that her sister's untimely death and her own destiny are intricately linked to those who reside in Shadow Hills.

My review: I LOVED the first half of this book.  I don't know if it's the type of books I've been reading lately or what, but I had all of these ideas on what could happen, or where the plot could go, or what twists could be thrown in.  Nope.  It was pretty much what they set it up to be.  It was still good, but it wasn't great.  The writing wasn't spectacular, but it was very accessible.  The plot was good, but predictable.  The characters were fun, but again, slightly undeveloped.  I would give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Mr. David.  He is such a happy baby.  He has officially doubled his weight: 11 lbs, 12 ozs.  He's two feet "tall".  He's pretty much a little guy and the doctor is very happy with everything.  We have tried rice cereal, which he hated, and bananas which he did not hate.  We're planning to revisit the cereal because when we tried it he was very hungry and the spoon did not go as fast as either the bottle or mommy.  The bananas were given at a much calmer time and he seemed to enjoy them.  Maybe we shall combine the two....  He got three shots and mouthful of medicine today, but calmed pretty quickly.  And still ate the bananas.  What a trooper.

And finally, our minor miracle.  John and I paid off our last credit card today after our federal return came in.  I get to call them tomorrow to cancel the card.  SO EXCITED!!!!  At some point I'll share our journey with debt and getting out and hopefully inspire someone to try to do the same.

So it's been a big three days.  I'm looking forward to a relaxing Friday at school and then the weekend already.  We need more three day weekends :)


  1. Good for you Alyssa for getting did of debt! It's an great feeling to be debt free. You might not want to cancel your card though...having it is good for your credit score.

  2. Sounds like a great few days! Those dishes (especially the second one) sound so yummy. And congrats on being debt-free! That's wonderful! :D