My Life of Travels and Adventures: January 2011

Recipe - Homemade Pasta

30 January 2011

I have always wanted to make homemade pasta.  Why?  I have no idea.  But I decided to cross this item off my bucket list and make us some dinner.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
Pinch of salt

1.  Beat the eggs.  Add the remaining ingredients and knead until smooth.  It took about 3-4 minutes.
2. Let rest in covered bowl for 10 minutes.
3. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.
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4. Cut into desired shapes.
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I made fun shapes
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Neil made boring shapes
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5. All to air dry completely before cooking.
6. Cook as you would normal pasta.

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Book Review - The Lost Hours

30 January 2011

The Lost Hours by Karen White  came to me as a Christmas present. The premise of this book is that "Every women should have a daughter to tell her stories to.  Otherwise, the lessons learned are useless as spare buttons from a discarded shirt.  And all that is left is a fading name and the shape of a nose or the color of the hair.  The men who write the history books will tell you the stories of battles and conquests.  But the women will tell you the stories of people's hearts."

Piper Mills discoveries several clues to her Grandmother's past after her death.  She decides to contact her Grandmother's childhood friend, Lillian.  Lillian at first claims not to know Piper's Grandmother, but after a lot of prodding and being faced with the memories of her past, she tells her Granddaughter and Piper the story of her past. 

Overall this book took some time to get into and was semi-predictable.  However there was one twist at the end that was unexpected.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Book Review - Columbine

23 January 2011

Columbine, the bookI received Columbine by Dave Cullen for Christmas since it was on my wish list I thought this would be a good second book of the year to read. Talk about eye opening.  Here is the description from the Author's website

"On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold left an indelible stamp on the American psyche. Their plan was staggering: to blow up their school, surpass Oklahoma City in horror, and leave "a lasting impression on the world." The bombs failed. But the unprecedented attack unleashed a new era of violence in schools—branding every future shooting "another Columbine."

When we think of Columbine, we think of the Trench Coat Mafia; Cassie Bernall, mistaken Columbine martyr; and Patrick Ireland, "the boy in the window"—the whole world watching his gutsy escape. Now, in a gripping work of journalism a full decade in the making, comes the story we never knew. In this revelatory book, Dave Cullen debunks the myths and produces a profile of teen killers that burrows to the core of psychopathology. He reveals two radically different killers: Eric Harris, the callously brutal mastermind, and Dylan Klebold, the quivering depressive who journaled obsessively about love and attended the Columbine prom three days before opening fire.

Columbine unfolds seamlessly, in an unforgettable tale of two honor students with a healthy circle of friends, secretly stockpiling a cache of weapons in the basement. They recorded their vitriol on film while manipulating every adult who could have stopped them. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold left warnings all around them—described by Cullen with a sharp investigative eye and psychological acumen. Culling from hundreds of interviews, thousands of police files, testimony from world-class psychologists brought in by the FBI, and the boys' videos and journals, he delivers the first comprehensive account of the tragic Columbine school shooting.

In the tradition of Helter Skelter and In Cold Blood, Columbine is destined to be a classic. A riveting tale of murder, redemption, police cover-up, and a town apart—the haunting cautionary tale for our age."

I remember coming home from school and watching the news about the attack in 1999.  I was a freshman in high school at that time and this attack caused some serious aftershocks across the country and within my own rural school district.

Upon reading this book, everything I remember about the shooting, the killers, the victims and the survivors has been proved wrong.  This book gives a great insight into what the two shooters were thinking and planning, what the survivors saw and how they are coping.  It really makes you think about how the media contorts the news we receive.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Recipe - Black and White Bean Burgers

20 January 2011

Tonight I made up a batch of Black and White Bean Burgers.  This recipe makes 12 burgers (but I made 9 very large burgers for the hubby). If you make 12 burgers they are 6 WW ProPoints each.

Ingredients:
1 - 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 15oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 eggs
1 large onion
1 green pepper
3 (to 4) cups of bread crumbs
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
4 tsp basil
6 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup hot sauce (you can add more to make them spicier - these are a medium spice)

1. Chop onions and peppers.  I place them in the food processor and let it go to town
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2. Mash beans.  Again I put them in the food processor
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3.  Mix all ingredients including only 3 cups of bread crumbs.  If they are too soft to form into a patty then add more bread crumbs.
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4. Form into 12 patties.
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5. Cook and or freeze.  We cook ours for about 4-5 minutes each side on the grill.  A little less time than we would a hamburger.
6. Enjoy!

Recipe - Mini Cheesecakes

12 January 2011

Tonight I made one of Neil's favorite recipes... Mini Cheesecakes.  I modified the recipe slightly to make it more WW friendly.  Only 3 WW ProPoints each.

Ingredients:
1 cup graham crackers crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light butter softened
3 - 8 oz packs - fat free cream cheese
14 oz low fat condensed milk
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Now on to the steps:

1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
2. Crush the graham crackers.  Up until I received my food processor for Christmas, I was doing this in a ziploc bag and just beating it.  It sure helped with anger management.  This time the food processor made this step so much easier.
3. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter.
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4. Divide the graham mixture into 24 cupcake cups.
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5. Press the graham mixture into the cups

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6. In the meantime, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.  Gradually add in the condensed milk.  Add the eggs and vanilla.

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7. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the 24 cupcake cups.


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8. Bake for 20 minutes.

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9. Enjoy. Neil likes to place these in the freezer and eat them chilled.  Each mini cheesecake is only 3 WW ProPoints.

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Book Review - The Book Thief

12 January 2011

I just finished The Book Thief last night.  It had recieved some high praise on the internet so I was hoping it would live up to the hype.  It did. 

The Book ThiefThe book is about Liesel Meminger, who at only 9 years old, is taken to the live with the Hubermanns, a foster family, on Himmel Street in Molching Germany, in the late 1930's.  She arrives with few possessions, but among them is The Graeve Digger's Handbook, a book stole from her brothers burial place.  During the years that Liesel lives with the Hubermanns, Hitler becomes powerful , live on Himmel Street becomase more fearful, and Liesel becomes a full-fledges book thief.  She rescues books from Nazi book burnings and steals from the library of the mayor.  Liesel is illiterate when she steals her first book , but Hans Hubermann uses her prized books to teach her to read.  The book is a story of courage, friendship, love, survival, death and grief.  The book is Liesel's life on Himmel Street, told from Death;s point of view. 

Again, this book had me sucked in from the beginning.  As I was nearing the end, I was sad that it would be over soon.  I also had a scene played out in my mind of how the book would end.  That didn't happen.  The ending was good and had a couple of surprises. 

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5.
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