My Life of Travels and Adventures: April 2011

Recipe - Loaded Baked Potato Chowder

28 April 2011

This soup turned out just as tasty as the name suggests.  It was easy to make too.  Bonus!

2 1/2 lbs potatoes
3 cups 1% milk
4 oz fat free cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp pepper
4 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 onion, chopped
Toppings: Such as, chopped cooked bacon, sour cream, steamed broccoli...

1. Peel and cut potatoes.  Boil for 10 minutes. Drain and coarsely mash.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the cream cheese and milk until smooth.
3. Add the potatoes, milk mixture, pepper, cheese and onion to a pot.  Stir and let cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Stir thoroughly before serving as the potatoes tend to settle to the bottom.  Serve with any or all of the optional toppings.

This recipe makes 8 cups.  Each cup is 6 WW ProPoints.  


Book Review: Inconceivable

21 April 2011

I saw Inconceivable, by Carolyn and Sean Savage, available electronically from the library.  I was intrigued.

According to goodreads...

The IVF mistake was simply stated: Carolyn Savage was pregnant with someone else's embryos. She and her husband Sean were forced to make a seemingly inconceivable choice: Either terminate the pregnancy, sue for custody, or deliver the baby—and relinquish it. The Savages decided to do what they would hope that another couple would do in a comparable situation. This is their story. Impossible to read without placing yourself in their situation.

I kind of remember hearing about this situation on the news in the past. But, this book definitely made you think.  What would we do in their situation?  How does this happen?  How are they able to be so strong throughout the whole ordeal?  

It was an interesting book to read.  Overall 3.5 out of 5. 

Book Review: Winter Garden

19 April 2011

I finished Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah crying.  Sign of a good ending?  I think so.

According to goodreads...
From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard: the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time - and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother's life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.

I really enjoyed this book.  All throughout I wasn't 100% sure where it was going or how it would end, but I needed to know.   A definite must read.  Rated 5 out of 5!


Book Review: Fragile

13 April 2011

 This past week I read Fragile by Lisa Unger.  This was my first e-book to read so I was excited. 

According to Goodreads... Everybody knows everybody in The Hollows, a quaint, charming town outside of New York City. It’s a place where neighbors keep an eye on one another’s kids, where people say hello in the grocery store, and where high school cliques and antics are never quite forgotten. As a child, Maggie found living under the microscope of small-town life stifling. But as a wife and mother, she has happily returned to The Hollows’s insular embrace. As a psychologist, her knowledge of family histories provides powerful insights into her patients’ lives. So when the girlfriend of her teenage son, Rick, disappears, Maggie’s intuitive gift proves useful to the case—and also dangerous.

Eerie parallels soon emerge between Charlene’s disappearance and the abduction of another local girl that shook the community years ago when Maggie was a teenager. The investigation has her husband, Jones, the lead detective on the case, acting strangely.  Rick, already a brooding teenager, becomes even more withdrawn.  In a town where the past is always present, nobody is above suspicion, not even a son in the eyes of his father.

“I know how a moment can spiral out of control,” Jones says to a shocked Maggie as he searches Rick’s room for incriminating evidence. “How the consequences of one careless action can cost you everything.”

As she tries to reassure him that Rick embodies his father in all of the important ways, Maggie realizes this might be exactly what Jones fears most. Determined to uncover the truth, Maggie pursues her own leads into Charlene’s disappearance and exposes a long-buried town secret—one that could destroy everything she holds dear. This thrilling novel about one community’s intricate yet fragile bonds will leave readers asking, How well do I know the people I love? and How far would I go to protect them?

I really liked this book.  It was a little confusing at first but starting about a third of the way in, I was hooked.  Fragile made me wonder about people's pasts and what they are hiding from the world.  Over all 4.5 out of 5.

I also enjoyed reading this on my Nook Color.  It was a little different to begin with... No page turning, No pretty cover to look at... but I stuck with it and enjoyed the book.

Recipe - Chocolate Nut Bark

09 April 2011

I made this recipe for a quick and easy snack.

1 cup walnuts
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
12 graham crackers

1. Heat the oven to 400F.  Toast the walnuts on a cookie sheet for 8 minutes.  Then chop coarsely.
2. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and graham crackers.  Chop the dried cranberries.
3. Melt the chocolate chips.  Stirring until the chocolate is smooth.
 4. Smooth the chocolate over the graham crackers.
5. Before the chocolate cools, sprinkle with the walnuts and dried cranberries.
 6. Let cool in the fridge for 1 hour.  Then break into pieces.

This recipe made quite a bit of the bark.  You may want to half the recipe unless you want to be tempted by this yummy snack in your fridge all week. This recipe is 2 points if you break it into 48 pieces or 3 points for 36 pieces. Either way it was a yummy snack with just the right amount of sweet and salty. 

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

05 April 2011

I finished Three Cups of Tea recently.  I have seen it in the library and book store for sometime now.  So I finally gave in and read this book.

According to goodreads: "One day in 1993, high up in the world's most inhospitable mountains, Greg Mortenson wandered lost and alone, broken in body and spirit, after a failed attempt to climb K2, the world's deadliest peak. When the people of an impoverished village in Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya took him in and nursed him back to health, Mortenson made an impulsive promise: He would return one day and build them a school. Although he was a homeless "climbing bum" living out of his aging Buick in Berkeley, California, Mortenson sold what few possessions he had to launch one of the most remarkable humanitarian campaigns of our time." "Three Cups of Tea traces Mortenson's decade-long odyssey to build schools, especially for girls, throughout the region that gave birth to the Taliban and sanctuary to Al Qaeda.

While he wages war with the root causes of terrorism - poverty and ignorance - by providing both girls and boys with a balanced, nonextremist education. Mortenson must survive a kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, death threats from Americans who consider him a traitor, and wrenching separations from his family." Today, as the director of the Central Asia Institute, Mortenson has built fifty-five schools serving Pakistan and Afghanistan's poorest communities. And as this real-life Indiana Jones from Montana crisscrosses the Himalaya and the Hindu Kush fighting to keep these schools functioning, he provides not only hope to tens of thousands of children, but living proof that one passionately dedicated person truly can change the world.

My thoughts:  Very interesting.  I started this book thinking one thing and ended with a new respect for the volunteer work people do overseas.  The way that Mortenson's family understands his work is amazing.  I could not imagine my husband being away for months at a time every year.  His work and understanding about the importance of education in Pakistan and Afghanistan before, during and after the tragedies around September 11th is astounding.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  4 out of 5 stars

Recipe - Baked Ziti

02 April 2011

This is such an easy dish to make.  I have made it in the crock pot as well.  So it can be done both ways.

8oz Uncooked Whole Wheat Pasta
15 oz Tomato Sauce
4 oz Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 cup Milk
2 Tbsp Flour
2 1/2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Nutmeg


1. Cook the pasta as regularly.
2. As the pasta is cooking, in a small saucepan, combine the Milk, Flour, Butter, Salt and Nutmeg.  Stir to mix, then boil for 10 minutes.
3. Drain pasta.  Mix pasta with 1 cup of Milk/Flour mixture, Tomato Sauce and both Cheeses.  (Sprinkle with bread crumbs if you would like)
4. Place into oven safe dish and bake for 20 minutes at 400F.

Makes 6 servings.  Each is 7 WW ProPoints.
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