Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cream Cheese Alfredo Sauce

Phew! There is so much that I've wanted to post about lately, but I haven't had the chance to sit down and write! My schedule at work has been a little different these past couple of days, and it's thrown off my groove. I must say that I'm proud of myself because I sent out some more query letters today! I've been getting a few rejections here and there, but that's all part of the process. I'm just waiting for the one who will say yes. You better believe it's going to happen.

In the meantime, I do believe I promised some more recipe sharing. When we made that delicious Alfredo, my mom and I looked up a ton of recipes, so I honestly can't remember where this one comes from. The woman who did it showed the original recipe and then the modifications she made to it. We used her modifications. As I mentioned, it's none too healthy. Pretty much it's a heart attack on noodles. That's what makes it so darn delicious! You could definitely make adjustments to it though to make it a little healthier. A lot of Alfredo recipes do it without cream cheese, so that's not a necessity. We always use the neufchatel cream cheese or the 1/3 less fat or whatever it is, so that's another option. So here's the recipe as we did it. Keep reading afterwards for notes on what the original recipe called for.

Cream Cheese Alfredo Sauce

1 cup butter
8 oz cream cheese
1 pint half and half
1 tsp garlic powder
black pepper
1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter.
2. When butter is melted, add cream cheese.
3. When the cream cheese is softened, add half and half.
4. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
5. Simmer for 15-20 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly.
6. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan

We also sauteed onion, chicken, and small shrimp and seasoned those with Cajun spices. Mix that all together and you will have a splendid masterpiece!

The original calls for 1/2 cup of butter, heavy cream instead of half and half, and 2/3 cup of grated Parmesan. We used half and half because that's what we happened to have on hand! You can used minced garlic cloves instead of the powder (3-4 cloves).

We used some wheat angel hair pasta instead of Alfredo noodles, which I actually prefer. Choose whatever noodles you like best! If you have leftovers, the sauce will become a solid mass, but it heats back up really nicely, so you can enjoy it over and over again!

More to come! Enjoy!

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Weekend of Gluttony

In general I try to be healthy(ish). I squeeze in my exercise 6 days out of the week. I try to manage portion control because really if calories didn't mean anything I could eat an entire loaf of banana bread in one sitting (and don't you dare forget those chocolate chips in that banana bread!). And then there are times when you just let all of that go for a short amount of time and give into the glutton within you. For instance, you can't count calories when you go to Disneyland. You just can't! You have to eat all that deep fried, portion size way too big food! Especially their chocolate raspberry cookies. Seriously. If you've never had one, you must. The next time you ride splash mountain, waltz on over the the little shop by the exit that's all Winnie the Pooh themed. You'll find them there. Or if you would rather not be soaking wet whilst you enjoy a little piece of heaven, they are also sold on main street.

Anyway, this weekend's excuse was Father's Day. Nothing like a good holiday to encourage bad eating behavior. It's how we celebrate! It must be done! It all started on Saturday. Every year my town has a special festival with booths, a carnival, a parade, the whole shabang. I love looking at booths at fairs. People are so creative! I'll most likely not buy anything, but I sure like to look. I figure I'm a shop owners worst nightmare--that person that just stands around forever then says I'll be back, but really it's just a nice way of saying I don't want to buy your stuff. I just wanted to stare at it! Besides that fun activity, it has become tradition to go and get an elephant ear and devour it.

That thing was delicious!

The fun of the weekend continued as we went to see the new Jurassic World movie. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it to you. It's pretty much the same as all the others, so if you like those, you'll like this one! Maybe this time they'll finally learn that messing with dinosaurs is not a good idea. Doubtful, but it's always nice to have a little faith in the human race.

There was a bunch of other stuff that happened this weekend (I attended a baptism for my church, which is always an amazing experience, and I went to a Brazilian barbecue which was as awesome as it sounds). And then Sunday came, and I sure enjoyed spoiling my dad. I am seriously so grateful for him. He makes me laugh so much! He's just amazing. My mom and I made some amazing food for him, if I do say so myself. I made Alfredo sauce from scratch for the first time ever. In case you were wondering, that stuff is so bad for you! Man, that was like stirring together fat, and more fat, and more fat. So bad for the body, but it sure is good for the soul! I made Cajun chicken and shrimp Alfredo with homemade bread sticks, and my mom made this decadent chocolate cake that you cook in a slow cooker. SO DIVINE! Stay tuned for posts with the recipes. As stated in my last post, I love to share :)

I hope you all did your part to spoil your fathers this weekend. Our parents do so much for us. The least we can do is a little spoiling in return!

Have a great week and tune in next time to find out how you can be a glutton too! Gluttony loves company!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread

Recently I've become something of a baking fiend. I came to this discovery while I was in Romania. I think the best part about it besides eating a glorious mixture of baked goods is watching others eat a glorious mixture of baked goods. I decided that cooking/baking for people is my one of my favorite ways to serve people, and that realization hit me when I made what has become my famous banana bread for some fellow missionaries at the time and the eyes of one them open wide and sparkled with joy that moment he took his first bite. My banana bread will forever be dedicated to him.

My point is that I also like to share the love by offering up good recipes so that other people can experience the joy of delicious food. So heads up! You're going to be hearing about my cooking/baking adventures along with all my other adventures (for they are many).

I've been wanting to try this recipe I found on Pinterest for a whole wheat honey oatmeal bread. Sunday has kind of been my "try making a new bread" day. So when I got up, I only had one thing on my mind (okay, no. It wasn't about the bread. It was actually about curling tighter in a ball and not getting out of bed...but my second thought was totally all about bread.). You can find the original post where I got the recipe from by clicking here.

I didn't quite do everything as instructed, mostly because I prefer to make bread the old fashioned way and not with a dough hook. I tried the dough hook once, and it just didn't please me. I'll tray it again someday. But for now, I prefer stirring everything up by hand and kneading it myself. Also, I used salted butter so I didn't put in as much salt as she said. I put in about 1/4 tsp.

I was afraid it wasn't going to rise because my water/milk combo didn't seem like it was warm enough for the yeast, and the yeast didn't really get foamy like it normally does, but it actually did okay. It is a nice texture and very hearty. I would say to check it at 35 minutes when baking. I cooked it for the full 40 as instructed and the top crust is a tiny bit overdone, but not hugely so. Basically, it's still delicious, but take note that not every oven is the same.

I also don't have a ton of experience taking those fancy food photos. I ended up taking a whole bunch of ridiculous pictures of myself with a piece of this amazing bread smothered in butter in honey (divine!). Sometimes pictures are just more fun when you're a little weird in the process, right? Hopefully someone out there is nodding their head.

Full credit for this recipe goes to Kathy Gossen. Check out her site for more info and recipes!

Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread

·         1 cup water
·         1 cup milk
·         2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
·         2 tablespoons honey
·         2½ cups whole wheat flour
·         2 cups bread or all-purpose flour
·         1 cup rolled oats
·         ½ stick unsalted butter, melted
·         1 tablespoon salt
1.     Pour water and milk into a microwave-safe bowl; heat 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer.
2.     Add yeast and honey. Let sit 10 minutes until yeast is foamy.
3.     Stir in remaining ingredients, adding slowly while mixer is on low.
4.     Using a dough hook, knead on medium speed 6 minutes until dough is smooth, elastic and only slightly sticky.
5.     Keep dough in bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise 1 hour until doubled.
6.     Turn oven on warm.
7.     Grease two loaf pans with butter, making sure to cover the entire pan surface.
8.     When dough is doubled, punch down. Split the dough into two ball. Work the balls under until they resemble two small loaves. Transfer the loaves to the loaf pans.
9.     Turn oven off. Place bread into the warmed oven for 45 minutes.
10.  Leave loaves in oven. Turn oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes or until loaf is deep brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
11.  Remove the bread from the loaf pans and cool on a cooling rack (or enjoy warm with butter and honey--our personal favorite topping on fresh bread)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Writing Query Letters

I'm about to do something I haven't done in a long time: write a query letter.

I've been working on my writing, and I've completed a few projects. I even went back and did a round of editing. I'll be honest. I had never done that with one of my novels before. I would highly recommend it. It's crazy how many mistakes you catch or how many details you want to add when you go through it again. So if you're a writer, I highly recommend going back through and editing. But you were probably already smart enough (and not so lazy) to do so.

I'm going back to the resource I've used in the past, They have advice on how to write queries, and they have a whole bunch of literary agents listed that you may consider sending your query to. It also has links to literary agency sites so you can find the right agent for you. It's been a pretty helpful resource to me in the past.

Now I haven't been accepted for publication yet, but you've got to start somewhere, and if you want to succeed you can't be afraid to fail. Think of all the great people who didn't succeed on the first go! So for those of you out there who are still aspiring just like me to see your written work in print, don't give up. We're in this together, my friend.

Stay tuned for future updates!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

This was a beautiful weekend, one spent with family, and one filled with great inspirational messages.

In the past week or so, I've received news of many people I know who are being faced with really difficult challenges. Some are suffering great loss. Others are fighting for their lives. My heart goes out to them.

As I think about them in their circumstances mingled with thoughts of our Savior, my heart is full of gratitude. Today we celebrated Easter, a day where we can remember Christ's sacrifice for each of us. It's such a comfort to me to think of Him in times like these. These great losses aren't specifically my own, but I'm glad that these great people who I know can receive strength and comfort through our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that because He lives, we will live again. Even death is not a permanent separation because Christ conquered it! He knows all of our pains and sorrows, and He knows how to succor us. He loves us even with our weaknesses. He will walk with us step by step, and even though we will have moments in our lives that are hard and painful, we don't have to face them alone. I know that my Redeemer lives. This knowledge brings with it hope and peace in my life.

With Him by our side we can overcome all things.

Happy Easter. Let us remember Him and strive to be more as He is.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Post-Mission Life

Wow. It's been awhile. Time to blow the dust off this thing and put it to use again.

Confession. I've been back in the states for awhile now. To read about all the adventures I had in Romania and Moldova click here. It's really weird how quickly time flies. I've thought about updating the blog multiple times. I just never have. I'm finding myself here sitting at the table with a spare moment, and I thought, "What the heck? Let's do this thing?"

So what has post-mission life been like? I started off by having many grand adventures, namely travelling around to see all the people I love and of course making a pit stop at the happiest place on earth.
This is our "we're in Disneyland" faces

I did all the important necessary things like catch up on all the Doctor Who episodes I'd missed (I'm still in love with that show).

And now I'm just adjusting to life and trying to figure out what the next step is. I'm working, cultivating my new love for baking (sorry all you pinterest followers who see all the bread recipes I'm pinning all the time), and writing and editing. One of my goals for the future is still to be a published author. It's a lot of hard work, but I still really enjoy it.

That's the quick little look into my life right now. Now that I've committed to give this thing another go, I'm sure you'll be hearing a lot more from me in the near future. Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents, because I'm here to stay. Bring on the adventure!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Called to Serve

Apparently nothing happened in the past year worth writing about. Actually that's false. I've just put blogging on the back burner for quite some time now. But it's time to dust off this old thing for a little update. Also, I've gotten out of the habit of writing in all aspects, and I don't really want to lose that. (Side note: 2011's attempt at NaNoWriMo didn't work out so well...). The last time I wrote, I was leaving for Colorado to try my luck there. I didn't end up staying there, but I'm sure glad I went. I met great people, had some good adventures, and I completely my project for the year! (See a couple posts previous). Here is the completed product of my film a clip every day project. Unlike the original, I decided to go for two seconds instead of one. I didn't think about how this would double the time of the video... But I was putting together the video throughout the year so I wouldn't have to do it all at the end, and by that point, I didn't want to start over and make it all one second. I do plan to make a one second version, but that'll have to wait. So here's a glance at my year that I neglected to talk about but was totally awesome.

So I saw a lot of movies, ate lots of food, and spent a lot of time with a certain ginger cat. Also, I went to Disneyland, saw waterfalls, went to Time Out For Woman, etc.

Last year also involved an important decision, one that included my leaving Colorado. I decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I've been called to serve in the Romania/Moldova mission. I'll be leaving shortly, and I'll be gone for a year and a half. So, for now, this is farewell. See you again in a year and a half. I hope it's a good one :) Adieu!