Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pinterest Recipe Rundowns

Pinterest, of course, is one of my new favorite things. So many great ideas, visuals, and RECIPES! I got into Pinterest right around the same time I got married, and considering I did zero cooking before now, there is no shortage of recipes on my to-try list. As good as the pictures always make the food look...they haven't all worked out for me. On a little bit of a tangent, I've also noticed that the word "easy" is thrown around waaaay too much. And as someone on facebook clarified for me, "easy [when it comes to food] is takeout."

Back to Pinterest. Here are a few recipes I've tried, and I thought I'd give you a little bit of insight as to how they turned out. Maybe this will be helpful, or you'll get a good laugh out of my attempts at cooking. Click on the image to go to the recipe.

Recipe #1: Creamy Shrimp & Mushroom Pasta

This was...meh. It actually turned out great, and it wasn't TOO complicated to make. Problem: recipe called for 10 tablespoons of butter. The author even noted that she realized that was a ton, but that it didn't taste nearly as good without all ten tablespoons. So, I've never cooked before in my life, I listened to her! Turns out that is WAY too much butter. It was so rich, Ross and I struggled to take more than a couple bites. We love pasta, we love shrimp and mushrooms. But not ten tablespoons of butter. I might go back and try it with less. If it supposedly doesn't taste the same, then I'm wondering if there is an in-between?

Recipe #2: Easy Enchiladas

Easy? Very. Delicious? Yes. And typically, I don't care for enchiladas. Again with the over-doing-it-on-an-ingredient, though. I put almost an entire 16 oz of shredded cheddar cheese on top of these before baking. Too much cheese (not something you'll hear me say often). I guess I'll just cut back next time. But these were very tasty and so so easy. Winner!

Recipe #3: Spinach Lasagna Rolls

This recipe and I didn't get along too well. My first mistake was starting the process at 6:30pm. Actually, everything went well until the lasagna noodles came into the picture. I cooked them, and then the recipe said to "make sure they were dry." What, exactly, does that mean? Of course I drained them after cooking...but that still leaves them a little soggy, right? So I let them sit in the strainer for a few minutes. Then they were all stuck together. Not sure how this happened, unless they weren't quite cooked well enough. Rookie mistake, I'm sure, but I was a little irritated. We tried to soak the noodles in hot water again and slowly pull them apart. We ended up with six noodles (three of them double-layered) instead of the nine we were supposed to have, but that was ok. It actually turned out pretty well. Ross and I both decided we were not a big fan of the spinach. It's healthy, so that should have been a no-brainer. Final thought: the word "lasagna" is in the name, so why not just make lasagna like normal and not fool with rolling stuff up? Either way, if you like spinach, this might be worth giving a try.

I have many more recipes on my list...so there will definitely be more of this to come! Yay for cooking!*

*Trying to convince myself that I actually enjoy this.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vanessa Carlton: she's finally there

Are the echoes coming back to you, is wisdom seeing patterns on a loop, like a blanket around you...you'll figure it out, and get good again...
-Vanessa Carlton, "Get Good"

Self-fulfilling prophecy, maybe? I am loving her new album, Rabbits on the Run (released July 26, 2011). All along, I've had faith in this one. Maybe because I'm big on the girl+piano thing. I can even remember back when I first heard "A Thousand Miles" and then saw the music video with Carlton seated at the piano. During a time when my choice of singers of the Tori Amos variety were few and far between (they still are), Vanessa Carlton was a tiny bit of fresh air. Unfortunately, she was plagued for a while by the whole Mandy Moore syndrome. Ew. Over-produced, overly-pop crap. But finally, she has risen above all that.

The first track I heard was "I Don't Want to Be a Bride," which was the first indication to me of something a little not-so-mainstream and perhaps a little bit of realness. It's still my favorite track off the album. I think it's audibly noticeable that the gap in time between her last album and Rabbits on the Run was the difference of four years. Vocally for her and lyrically. This is finally the depth I was looking for from someone who I thought had the potential. It all comes together. Other favorites include "Fairweather Friend," "Get Good," and "London." From someone else who can say it better than I can:

"Rabbits on the Run is a deeply satisfying 37-minute romp that will make you remember why you really liked Vanessa Carlton once upon a time. And don’t lie. You did. A lot of people will say this is Carlton’s best album since Be Not Nobody, but I say this is her best album ever."
-Adam Finley (perfect review - read more here)

Also, if you're interested in a little more background on the album, this video is definitely worth watching:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

so much to do, so little weekend

To be honest, this isn't entirely the case anymore. Yes, I cut back to a four-day work week, but the fifth day is reserved for job hunting. This summer, there have been SO many things I've wanted to do on the weekends. The good news is there have been lots of get-togethers and weekends spent out of town. The bad news is that means I've had zero time to do anything normal. Normal as in - go to the local farmer's market., or visit the Goodwills and thrift stores in my area (I've heard they are good). This weekend, we have absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to go, so I plan to do both! #superexcited

Speaking of things to do, our apartment got a random semi-deep cleaning the other night at around 10:00pm because we had company coming (psh, why else would you clean?). I had been putting it off for a while thinking that (and I debated admitting to this) I was going to pay someone to clean our apartment. Yes, you heard that right. Child-free couple in their mid-twenties, with no real responsibilities outside of work, paying to have their two bedroom apartment cleaned. I said "couple" in that sentence, but it was really me pushing for this. In my defense, there's the whole I-have-to-drive-an-hour-to-and-from-work-every-day thing. Still, I'm willing to admit that's not a really good excuse. Which brings me to this point - I HATE TO CLEAN.

I chalk it up to perfectionism. My honest thought process when I start to clean is this: "I'm not mopping this floor correctly. WHY won't this dirt come off??? In order to do it right, I'd need to get on my hands and knees and scrub every last inch with a toothbrush. Wait, every last inch?! I don't have time for that! I spend ten hours a day at work and in my car! Now I just wasted thirty minutes and it still looks like crap! I hate this!" *runs off to bedroom sobbing* (<--not really, that was just for dramatic effect) I feel like I don't know how to clean, and I feel like I'm not good at it, and it's all a little discouraging.

In my search for people who sympathized with my views on cleaning, I stumbled upon FlyLady.net. I like what I've seen so far, and I plan on following the "Beginner BabySteps" program to a new cleaning routine...and just routine in general. I'm not very good at keeping them, but I know I feel better when I have one. Less stress, for one thing. I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

In other news, an EarthFare opened up right across the street from me this week! Anyone shop there on a regular basis? I've only been in one a couple times before (the one in Boone). I know it's on the pricey side, but I definitely want to try shopping for a few things there. It's been waaaaay to crowded to visit so far, so I'm waiting until it dies down a bit. Perhaps I'll add that to my list of things to do this weekend! :)