Honey Dijon Pork Chops and Cinnamon Roll Cake

May 17, 2011 at 7:11 pm (reading, recipes, resolution: 1 a week)

Two new recipes at our house today, courtesy of two new food blogs I stumbled upon:

For dinner, we had Honey Dijon Pork Chops, with homemade mashed potatoes and salad. We were big fans of this glaze – couldn’t be easier and it added a really nice flavor. I think it’d be good on chicken too. Oooo, kebabs. Chicken kebabs with this would be really, really good.

And in the oven right now, is Cinnamon Roll Cake, which so far smells delightful! I left out the pecans because I’m bringing what we don’t eat tonight (which better be most of the pan!) to church tomorrow night and I know at least one person can’t have pecans. Plus, I’m a cinnamon roll purist and I prefer them with no nuts. Trust me on this one and lick the bowl after you make the topping. Don’t think about the fact that you’re licking butter. Just give it a little lick. If the cake tastes anything like the bowl did, I’m gonna be a happy camper.

I haven’t done any reading for my BBC 100 list in a long time. I’m mostly through the Chronicles of Narnia series and I’m just not loving them and so I feel ambivalent about continuing and that’s stalled my progress on the whole list. Fantasy novels are just not my cup of tea, and I still have to read three more. Plus Harry Potter, and I think Golden Compass too. Meh.

In the meantime, I’m reading Helen of Pasadena, which I kind of adore because I used to work in a Pasadena private school, and I went to an all-girls school up north, and chick lit is more of my cup of tea than fantasy. 🙂

What are you reading right now? I’m between jobs, and I’m going to need something new, Helen’s story is almost over!


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The Horse and His Boy

February 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm (reading)

Meh. That’s how I feel about this book, the latest on my list. Kind of a let down, after how much I loved Prince Caspian… no wonder they haven’t made a movie version of this yet?? 🙂

I was mostly disappointed with how little overall plot there was. Really, the whole plot can be summed up in (spoiler alert) they run away from mean people, and then they fight mean people, and they win. Actually, I guess that’s the point of Prince Caspian too, but at least in that book we saw Caspian grow up, and the Kings/Queens were more involved.

One of my favorite aspects of Lewis’s writing is the spiritual allegories. I don’t normally read fantasy fiction, so that aspect of the Chronicles is a little tougher for me. But the spiritual allegories, particularly in the first three I read (Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe/Prince Caspian/Magician’s Nephew), were so strong and beautifully done that I was hooked on the story. The Horse and His Boy is allegedly a conversion story, but I just didn’t have the same connection to it as I did to the others.

Next is Voyage of the Dawn Treader, if the library has it, so we’ll see how that goes. 🙂

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The Girl in the Green Raincoat

February 19, 2011 at 7:15 pm (reading)

This book, The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman, isn’t on my BBC reading list, but I picked it up at the library cause it looked interesting. I’m not normally one for mysteries, but this was more psychological than gory, and didn’t have too much suspense, so I enjoyed it.

Parts I liked:
-Discussions of the future in relationships/families/life. We’re having lots of daydreaming/future talks lately, and I enjoy reading/hearing about how others discuss the future. Is that weird? (Probably.)
-One of the dogs is named Miata. We have an ’06 Miata. It made me smile. 🙂
-The psychology behind a spouse who has lost/killed multiple spouses. Like Drew Peterson. I don’t understand how subsequent spouses can get involved with someone like that?? So I guess I won’t say I like this part, but it’s definitely a topic that intrigues me.

Super short, probably only took me two hours to read? (Caveat: I read super fast.) I can highly recommend it as an enjoyable afternoon diversion.

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Prince Caspian, Valentine’s Day, and new recipe FAIL

February 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm (family, reading, resolution: 1 a week)

Today I had the day off… (happy birthday, Lincoln!) but I carpooled in with my husband to where I used to work, and where he still works. I got my oil changed at our local mechanic, then had lunch with some former coworkers. In between, I read and worked on some crafty stuff. I truly don’t mind just waiting around for a few hours at a time… I’m doing the same thing I would at home, but my husband doesn’t have to drive in alone and my oil got changed! 🙂

Started and finished Prince Caspian by CS Lewis while waiting today, so another one is crossed off my list! So far, I’ve liked Prince Caspian and The Magician’s Nephew better than Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe… Although I LOVE the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe movie, and thought the Prince Caspian movie was just okay. (Plot of the movie – very different of the book, in case you were unaware like I was.)

And now it’s Valentine’s Day… and we’re doing our favorite things to celebrate. 🙂 Since we were in college, we’ve gone to Chipotle for dinner on Valentine’s Day. We’re not big on paying a lot of money, or waiting forever for a table. So we save special dinners for other days, and on February 14th we have Chipotle and watch a movie together. Tonight was Wall-E, a Valentine’s gift from my husband a few years ago. I think it’s one of the best love stories ever! Then a gym date in a little bit, then relax at home with Chuck and House.

Totally failing at cooking one new recipe a week. We’ve been sharing one car for the last two-ish months (long story) and that means we get home late and end up eating out or eating our standard meals. Eh. We’ll try again next week.

What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Any other Chipotle fans out there? And Narnia fans – what’s your favorite book in the series??

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Another book finished: The Magician’s Nephew

January 31, 2011 at 10:35 pm (reading)

So I made a goal to read all of the books on the BBC’s 100 Books list… and I finished another one last night!! The Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis.

I have to say, I disagree with my sister in law, husband, and Bethany on the order the Chronicles of Narnia should be read in. I agree with Lewis on this one, and I think Magician’s Nephew should be read first. It’s the history of Narnia!! It just makes more sense that way!!

Ah, well. Also, enjoyed this one more than Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I was surprised about that! I really liked/admire Lewis’s ability to recreate Scripture almost word for word, yet you wouldn’t immediately recognize it as a Biblical situation unless you’re looking for it. I am just so intrigued by that – Biblical themes are so prevalent, yet we rarely discuss them.

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Dec 6

December 6, 2010 at 9:04 pm (december photo project, reading)

December Photo Project


This picture ties in to my goal to read all of the BBC 100 books… After the recommendation of multiple people, I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this weekend, before I read The Magician’s Nephew. I am now 1/7th of the way through the Chronicles of Narnia!

I was… content with the book. I was expecting a longer, richer story, and yes, I did know this was supposed to be a children’s story. I described it to my sister-in-law as I was expecting something the length of Anne of Green Gables, and I expected the movie version to be a condensed version of the story. Nope – it was very short, about 120 pages, and the movie follows the book almost exactly. In fact, I think I read the book about as quickly as I watched the movie!

Glad I read it… but I’m happy to round out my current reading selection with Dearest Cousin Jane, which is not on the BBC list but I’m enjoying it anyway. It’s sort of a fictionalized account of some of Jane Austen’s relatives. It’s amusing, I gotta say.

Am I the only one underwhelmed by Chronicles of Narnia? Please tell me someone else was expecting a longer story too… 🙂

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Enchilada Casserole

November 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm (reading, recipes)

This has become one of our favorites, to the point where I always keep enough ground turkey, enchilada sauce, and beans on hand to make it any time I don’t know what else to make for dinner. 🙂 This is courtesy of one of my former coworkers, Michelle, so I don’t know if she made it up or got it out of a cookbook.

Enchilada Casserole
~1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 can black or pinto beans
enchilada sauce (you’ll use about 1/4 of the big can)
cheese, grated, approximately 2-3 cups (I like to combine cheddar and mozzarella)
small corn tortillas

Brown the meat, drain, and set aside. Drain beans, and set aside. Pour a layer of sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish, then line with corn tortillas (my 9 x 13 pan works best if i cut the tortillas in half.) Try to get them as close together as possible, even overlapping, because it makes cutting/serving much easier! On top of the tortillas, put about 1/2 of the browned meat, 1/2 of the beans, and 1/3 of the cheese. Pour a little more sauce on, then add another layer of corn tortillas (again, it works best for me when they’re cut in half.) Add the rest of the meat, the rest of the beans, 1/3 of the cheese, and some more sauce. Add a final layer of tortillas, and top with sauce and the remaining cheese. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly inside.

The wonder of this recipe is its versatility – don’t have ground beef or turkey? Use chopped or shredded cooked chicken. Like it really juicy, like an enchilada? Pour on more sauce. Like it really cheesy? Add more cheese. Want some vegetables? Add peppers, olives, onions, etc… You get the idea. I’ve never been a strict recipe follower, so ideas like this are perfect for me. I can play around with it however I like. And, it freezes SO well! A 9 x 13 is enough for Tyler and I to each have seconds, and then have four servings left over. (So I’m going to guess that if you have 4 people, you can probably polish off a pan!)

BBC Book List update: I have checked out The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe… hoping to start reading this weekend. Really wondering if I’ll like them – I like CS Lewis’s nonfiction writing style, but I am not a fan of fantasy nor scriptural allegory most of the time. But I’m giving it a shot – I’m tired of people’s shocked expressions when they find out I haven’t read Chronicles of Narnia. 🙂

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New goal: BBC’s 100 books list

November 19, 2010 at 11:22 pm (random, reading)

So in 2003 the BBC asked readers to nominate the top 100 novels that everyone should read. It’s an interesting list… you can read all 100 here. Because it’s chosen by readers some are popular, not exactly chosen for their literary merit. However, I haven’t read all 100, so I think that’s my goal for this next year: read/blog about the books below that I still need to read…

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (I’ve read the first two. They’re not my favorites so we’ll see if that counts or if I read the rest.)
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (Heard him speak in Oxford. He’s very interesting.)
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I have no idea how many I’m missing… but I know I’m missing some.)
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame (I think I’ve read this but not sure. Will revisit and confirm.)
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (in progress: finished Magician’s Nephew on 1/30/2011, Prince Caspian on 2/14/2011, The Horse and His Boy on 2/26/2011)
34 Emma -Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis (repeat… cheaters.) DONE!
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold (I started this book and HATED IT. I might try again.)
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding (Also started and didn’t like. Will try again.)
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I’ve read some Holmes books… but I can’t remember which ones.)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Whew. Long list. Not even going to count, I think that’d be too overwhelming.

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