Wednesday, May 22, 2013

breakfast on the brain

I've been on a major breakfast-foods kick lately. A few weeks ago I had a dream that I was eating a bagel with bacon, egg and cheese, and as soon as I woke up I went to the kitchen to make that dream a reality. It was VERY satisfying.

Then last Saturday I made blueberry muffins to surprise Andy. He only ate ONE (they were delish — he's just crazy). Clearly I had to eat the remaining five muffins. I had just made myself a huge pot of decaf coffee and those muffins were the perfect accompaniment. Don't judge me!!!

Then I got a hankering for pancakes. What is going on here?! I knew my friend was going to join me for dinner before we watched "Sense and Sensibility" together, and when she mentioned simply having eggs or cereal I was allllll over that. We had pancakes, eggs and bacon and topped our pancakes with maple syrup that she had brought as a hostess gift. Sally ate one pancake, one egg and one slice of bacon. I had four pancakes, two eggs and three slices of bacon. I dominated that meal.

I've been wanting to try one (or all) of Beth's baked oatmeal recipes since I stumbled upon Budget Bytes last year. The other two treats look pretty tempting, too! Hopefully if I make any of these I'll show better restraint than I did with the muffins and pancakes...

Blueberry banana baked oatmeal from Budget Bytes
Apple pie muffins from The White Ramekins
French toast bread pudding from Beantown Baker

Friday, May 17, 2013

how well do you know yourself?

I just finished reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. The book has mixed reviews on Amazon, but I thought it was an interesting read. I felt the author was honest about herself and her quest, and I liked that her story constantly caused me to pause and consider my own beliefs about happiness and how those beliefs are reflected in my daily life. I took a look at her blog and thought this quiz would be fun to fill out. I'd love to know your answers, if you're up for sharing!

questions were pulled from this post of "The Happiness Project" blog

If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more? Usually less, because most things are forbidden for good reason. If it's something like fries or chocolate, then come on. More, please.
If you unexpectedly had a completely free afternoon, what would you do with that time? Read a book at a coffee shop.
Are you comfortable or uncomfortable in a disorderly environment? Uncomfortable.
How much time do you spend looking for things you can’t find? Not much, because I'm pretty good at remembering the bizarre places that someone might have left something. One time Andy went to get a gift card out of his wallet and it wasn't there. He freaked out because the card held a significant amount of money. I don't know if it was a few hours or a few days later, but I suggested he look in the plastic bag under the bathroom sink that he had used to pack up extra toiletries when we moved to a new house. Sure enough, the gift card was in the bag.
Are you motivated by competition? If I think I can win, maybe. I'm not often in competitive situations.
Fill in the blank: “I really wish I could make consistent progress on my project to: keep our dining room table clear of clutter.”
Do you find it easier to do things for other people than to do things for yourself? Yes.
Whom do you envy? Why? You know, I don't let myself go there. Sure, I get jealous sometimes, but there isn't one person who has everything I don't have. 
What do you lie about? (For instance, a friend told me he’d been telling people that he walked to work, when in fact he almost never does.) Hmmm... that's a hard one! I don't think I lie about anything, but I probably don't give the cold hard truth, either. For example, I tell people I don't exercise much these days. Really I should say that I don't exercise at all, except for the occasional long walk.
What did you do for fun when you were ten years old? Do you still do that activity–or would you like to do it? I read, played teacher and wrote stories. These days, I do all of those things! 
Do you work constantly? or think you should be working? No, I don't work constantly. I currently have three part-time jobs and I have a lot of flexibility with my schedule. Some weeks I work a lot, but others I hardly work at all. My work life is well suited for my current life circumstances.
Do you embrace rules or flout rules? I mostly embrace them, but I've always been a slight risk-taker.
Do you work well under pressure? Deadlines? YES. I work best when I'm on a deadline. 
What would your perfect day look like? Sleeping in, waking up to sunshine, having a big breakfast prepared for me, spending the afternoon on a boat or a beach with my hot husband, yummy snacks and a good book, and then wrapping up the day with dinner and games with friends or family.
Are you a morning person or a night person? Neither? I tend to get cranky and restless in the afternoon.
What’s more satisfying to you: saving time or saving money? Saving money. 
Do you like to be in the spotlight? I wish I could say no... but yeah, I do. I love to tell stories and make people laugh.
What would you do if you had more energy? I don't like that question. I do want more energy, but the root issue of why I don't do things is because I don't want to. Example: clean more. 
If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it? Nooo! We don't need any more rooms! I probably wouldn't do anything at all - just shut the door and try very hard to avoid filling it with junk. 
What people and activities energize you? Make you feel depleted? I get energized by people who are good conversationalists (they ask questions, show interest, answer my questions honestly, etc). I like to take walks and do activities that are thrilling but aren't terribly taxing, like jet-skiing. Or activities that test trivia, like watching Jeopardy or crossword puzzles. People who are disagreeable or critical deplete me. Shopping depletes me if I'm alone.
Is it hard for you to get rid of things that you no longer need or want? Not at all.
On a typical night, what time do you go to bed? How many hours of sleep do you get? I go to bed any time between 9:30 and 11 and typically turn out the light between 11 and 11:30. I usually get 8-9 hours of sleep.
If at the end of the year, you had accomplished one thing, what is the one accomplishment that would make the biggest difference to your happiness? It's hard to measure, but becoming more like Christ. That accomplishment would have a positive affect on every aspect of my life.
Is there an activity that you love to do–yet somehow never seem actually to do it? Not that I can think of. Maybe blog? Haha.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

homemade queso blanco

I volunteered to make queso for the Cuatro de Mayo party we attended Saturday night, and it wasn't Friday night that I realized I had never made queso before.

It took a while to find a recipe that didn't call for Velveeta. If you're really determined to be authentic, use asadero cheese (also called Oaxaca).

I'm happy to say the queso was a huge hit! It's got a slight kick to it, but not so much that you'll be fanning your mouth. There was about 1/4 cup left over from the party, so I put it over rice and beans tonight alongside beef tamales. OHMYYUM.

from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Lola's queso blanco
(I used this recipe for inspiration and then threw in a bunch of other stuff I had on hand.)
makes about 4 cups of queso - perfect amount for a large party!

1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 serrano chilies, seeds and stem removed, diced
2 jalapeƱo chilies, seeds and stem removed, diced
24 oz white American cheese, shredded
1 firm tomato, seeds removed, diced
1 can diced green chilies
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 pint half and half

3 tbsp juice from a jar of diced jalapeƱos
1/2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tbsp hot sauce

Cook the onion and peppers in the oil until softened. Place all ingredients into a crock pot and turn on low, or heat all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat, adding the half and half slowly and stirring until absorbed.