Friday, August 31, 2012

The Paris Vendetta

Vacation book number two - Check!

I'd started to read "The Paris Vendetta," by Steve Berry a long time ago, but stopped at chapter 2 for some reason. I reread what I'd previously read, and continued on. It was an interesting book. The treasure hunting was pretty cool, as was the cloak and dagger. I was disappointed about the friendship that was stretched, and eventually lost, but seeing as how the book is actually the fifth with this particular main character, it makes sense that things change like that. I don't think that the other Steve Berry book that I've read ("The Romonav Prophecy") had the same main character, so I need to backtrack!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three Dimensional Granny Square Flower

I've finally completed week 9's squares for the Granny Square Afghan Project

I didn't read the directions completely, so the first one I did (the one on top) has a smaller border. But that shouldn't matter too much after the whole thing is put together.
I'm getting excited, the end of the project is nearing. If I can get myself in gear, I should have a pretty nice blanket to show off! It'll be the largest crochet project I've done to date.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Here's the Church...

My first vacation book is done, "Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple," by Tempa Pagel.

When I first started this book a few weeks ago, I struggled with it a little (I had a hard time keeping the characters straight). As I continued to read it, though, it got easier. The violence that was promised on the back of the book didn't happen soon enough to feel like it was integral to the story, but, of course, it was. The author did do a good job of showing how busy this stay-at-home mother-of-two was.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ravens vs. Jaguars

Wow! I cannot believe the ass-whipping that the Ravens gave the Jaguars! The Ravens defeated Jacksonville, 17-48, in the final home preseason game of 2012. After the Detroit Lions walked all over us last week, it was good to see the Ravens step up and perform.
Halftime was youth football and Lil' Ravens Cheerleaders again, so the band only performed our pregame show. We did get to play three times during the game, which is a lot for us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gooey Butter Cake

Back in June, Wanda told me about a recipe she made called Gooey Butter Cake. It sounded like something I'd like to try, and I finally am! The recipe she found was from the American Profile website, but I thought I'd use the cake part of the recipe from that, and the Filling part of the recipe from Paula Deen, which has less powdered sugar.

Gooey Butter Cake

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix cake mix, melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 eggs with a spoon. Pat into a 13x9-inch baking pan.
  3. Mix cream cheese, remaining 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and melted butter with an electric mixer. Slowly beat in powdered sugar. Pour over cake layer.
  4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool.
The cake was yummy! It was really rich, and I am so glad I didn't use the filling from American Profile, which called for 4 cups of powdered sugar.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ravens vs. Lions

Tonight's preseason game was slightly disappointing. The Ravens lost to the Detroit Lions, 27-12. Not one single touchdown was had by the Ravens, but a few exciting plays were called back due to penalties. It was raining throughout the game, a light drizzle for the most part, but it didn't start to come down hard until we were marching back to the buses.
Like last year's preseason, the band only performed for the pregame show, so for halftime, we watched PeeWee Football players and the Lil' Ravens cheerleaders perform.

Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie

In the late evening hours after work last night, and the wee morning hours today, I made this Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie, which I saw on an e-newsletter from Pillbury.

Italian Zucchini Crescent Pie

  • 2 tablespoons LAND O LAKES® Butter
  • 4 cups thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 2 LAND O LAKES® Eggs, well beaten
  • 2 cups shredded Muenster or mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
  • 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and onions; cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in parsley flakes, salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and oregano.
  2. In large bowl, mix eggs and cheese. Add cooked vegetable mixture; stir gently to mix.
  3. Separate dough into 8 triangles. Place in ungreased 10-inch glass pie plate, 12x8-inch (2-quart) glass baking dish or 11-inch quiche pan; press over bottom and up sides to form crust. Firmly press perforations to seal. Spread crust with mustard. Pour egg mixture evenly into crust-lined pie plate.
  4. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. If necessary, cover edge of crust with strips of foil during last 10 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings
I know that Tom won't try this, because of all of the onions, but I think it was pretty tasty. Instead on Muenster, I used an Italian blend of cheeses, and my crescents were the garlic butter flavor (since I had them laying around). The pie was nice and cheese-y, the crust was a nice consistency, and the herbs gave it a really nice flavor. It was quite rich, though, so maybe it should be 8 servings?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Secret Mistress

This evening, I finished reading "The Secret Mistress," by Mary Balogh.

I enjoyed it, but not as much as some of her other books. The lucky couple didn't get married until late in the book, so the description of the heroine having to be the hero's "secret mistress" after they were married didn't seem to come into play as much as it could have. If I wasn't expecting that, the book would have been fine.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Southern Cheese Stuffed Eggplant

My dinner tonight was determined by a recipe I picked up at Brad's Produce Stand, and the lady behind the counter who claimed it was delicious.

Southern Cheese Stuffed Eggplant

  • 2 eggplants cut in half lengthwise
  • ½ cup chopped candy onions
  • ½ cup chopped green peppers
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 tomatoes pelled, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 8 oz package sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 ½ cups bread crumbs
Heat oven to 350F. Scoop out interior of eggplants, leaving ½ inch shell. Cube scooped out interior and reserve. In a large fry pan, cook onion and green peppers in ¼ cup butter on medium-low heat 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and reserved cubed eggplant. Cook 5 minutes. Drain liquid from vegetables. Stir in cheese and ½ cup bread crumbs. Spoon mixture into eggplant shell and place in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Toss remaining bread crumbs with ¼ cup melted butter and sprinkle on top of stuffed eggplants. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
This dish was surprising delicious! None of the flavors were overpowering, and I was extremely pleased. I also learned how to peel a tomato. Too cool.

15-Minute Chicken & Rice Dinner

For Tom's dinner tonight, since there's no way in hell he'd eat what I was planning on fixing for myself, he requested a chicken and rice dish.

15-Minute Chicken & Rice Dinner

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 ¼ skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 can (10 ¾ ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1 ½ water
  • ¼ paprika
  • ¼ ground black pepper
  • 2 cups uncooked instant white rice
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets
  1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken form the skillet.
  2. Stir the soup, water, paprika and black pepper in the skillet and heat to a boil. Stir in the rice and broccoli. Reduce the heat to low. Return the chicken to the skillet. Sprinkle the chicken with additional paprika and, black pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
We didn't have any broccoli, and since it was for Tom I cut back on the pepper. Tom was very happy with it. He said it's just what he likes, basic.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Live! At APG, it's...

Okay, I admit it, I stole the graphics off of their respective websites, but how cool is a concert with all of those bands?!?! I haven't been to a concert in forever, and this was pretty cool. I got to hear most of the songs I wanted, but unfortunately we had to leave before the concert was over because of the contract with the van we took to the concert.

Zucchini Nut Muffins

The other day, I picked up this recipe, among others, at Brad's Produce Stand and swore that I'd give it a try. Today, I did.

Zucchini Nut Muffins

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups zucchini, grated
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  1. Beat the eggs until foamy.
  2. Blend in sugar, oil and zucchini.
  3. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients above to the egg mixture; blend well.
  5. Add the nuts, and spoon into greased muffin tins.
  6. Bake at 325°F for 20 minutes.
I think they were delicious - slightly sweet, with that little touch of cinnamon. Tom said I executed the muffins well, but they had a "farm-y" or "hay-y" flavor. He's not a huge fan of zucchini, but at least he gave them a try, I'm proud of him for that.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Sunburst

Week 8's assignment for the Granny Square Afghan Project went pretty well, after I learned how to count!

You won't believe how many times I had to undo a couple of rows because I didn't count the stitches like I should have. Lesson learned... for now.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

African Somalia Flower

I completed Week 7’s assignment in the Granny Square Afghan Project this evening.

I like how they turned out, but I think the pattern I found skipped a step, which caused my “squares” to not be squares (as you can see in the picture). It also didn’t mention changing colors, so I had to wing it. I’ll probably try these again at a later date, just to square them up.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Howard County Fair 2012

The band’s annual gig at the Howard County Fair was today. We performed a concert and participated in the parade. The concert went well, and I can’t think of any songs that we really messed up on. I was disappointed that we ran out of time and had to skip playing a song that I really like (“Uprising,” by Muse), but there will be plenty of time for that over the course of the season. There was one glitch during the parade – the front and back halves of the band were not together when we played the Star Spangled Banner – but apparently we were only one beat off, which is much better than when we’re a whole measure off.
Afterwards, Jeff (the guy I carpool to band with) and I stopped at Brad’s Produce Stand and got some corn. There were some recipes on the counter that I picked up, and am excited to try them out.
After fixing dinner, the rest of the evening was catching up on TV shows I’d recorded and crocheting granny squares for the Granny Square Sampler Afghan. I completed the second part of week 5’s assignment (the Squircle V 3),

and also week 6’s project (the Sunburst Variation Square).

The patterns are a little hard to follow at times, and I’ve had to redo things a couple of times, but they’re coming along. And the little mistakes? No one’s going to know about them but me, right?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Marty & Martina's Backyard Bash

This evening was Marty and Martina’s 8th Annual Backyard Bash. Every year, they throw a party in their backyard with food, drink, music, and door prizes. Lots of people show up, and it’s a good time. This year was the first time that Mel went, and we saw Brenda and Bill there. Their younger son even made it. The food was good, the DJ rocked, and it was good to see Martina and her daughters. The weather even decided to cooperate!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Call Me, Maybe?

I admit it, I like this song. And yes, it’s getting kind of silly how many parody type things have stemmed from it, but I was just told about this video on YouTube, and I love it! Now I’m hooked and have watched most of the videos of this nature on YouTube. In my opinion, this is definitely the best one. I think it’s because it’s young men, and they are not the target audience for this song.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grandma's Chocolate Pie

Yes, I know, veggies and dip should have been enough, but I really wanted to bring something else to the "picnic," so, after band practice last night, I whipped up this Chocolate Pie that Wanda had found on Homesick Texan's blog.
Grandma’s chocolate pie

Filling ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons of cocoa or 1 ½ squares of baking chocolate
  • ¾ cups of sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten slightly
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
Meringue ingredients:
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
Your favorite pie crust

  1. Mix your sugar, flour, salt, cocoa, eggs and milk (all except vanilla and butter) with a whisk.
  2. Cook while stirring on medium until it bubbles and thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes. If it becomes lumpy, just beat out the lumps. (It will not get any thicker in the oven so cook until it's as thick as you want it.)
  3. Remove from heat and stir in your vanilla and butter. Meanwhile, poke holes in your pie crust with a fork and bake it at 350 until it’s brown, about 20 minutes.
  4. Beat your egg whites with salt and when they start to get fluffy add the sugar. Pour the chocolate custard into the baked pie shell and top with the beaten egg whites. Bake it until it the peaks on the meringue are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Note: All that's happening in the oven is the browning of the meringue. So be sure and keep cooking the custard in the pan until it's your desired consistency.
Well, my chocolate was full of little lumps that wouldn't beat out, and I definitely messed up on the meringue, because it would not get fluffy. After consulting with Betty Crocker, the tiny bit of egg yolk that I got in the egg whites, that I thought I had removed, may have been the culprit with the meringue. Tom and I both thought that the taste was a little off, too, even though other people who tried the pie said it was good. I'm thinking that it's because the cocoa I used was extremely old, I bought all of the other ingredients pretty recently. I will try this recipe out again, but with new cocoa, and report back.

***Update*** I gave the pie another try and it looks much better. The meringue fluffed up a lot more, and the flavor was so much better. I guess fresh cocoa and no yolk in the egg white made all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Beau Monde Dip

Tomorrow, at Huber, we're having a luncheon with a picnic theme, so I thought I'd bring veggies and dip. The dip I chose to make is one that Wanda and I had discussed a couple of weeks ago, that we had first tried at Aunt Ethel's house and really liked, but couldn't find the recipe to. All I remembered was that it had Beau Monde seasoning in it, so I went to their website and found the official recipe for Beau Monde Dip.

Beau Monde Dip

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon Spice Islands Parsley
  • ½ teaspoon Spice Islands Beau Monde Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon Spice Islands Dill Weed
  1. Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, green onion, parsley, Beau Monde Seasoning, and dill weed in a small bowl.
  2. Cover and chill a minimum of 30 minutes to blend flavors.
I was unable to find the Beau Monde seasoning when I went to Aberdeen in search of it, so I settled on McCormick's Bon Appetit seasoning salt (I later learned that if I'd gone over the river to Perryville, I could have found it at the Food Lion). Despite the substitution, I think the dip tastes just as good as the dip Aunt Ethel made, so I think it's the recipe we were looking for.