Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Badlands 2017

I forgot to schedule a post for yesterday, so I threw this one together for you for this week. I hope you enjoy the pictures.

We take a trek to the Badlands of South Dakota every few years and we did that last week. We'd been across the state to visit family and took the time on the drive home to spend some time in the park. We got to see the sunset in the Badlands and that is one spectacular sight.  I managed to take a million pictures and will share some of them with you.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Goose Outing

I know. The title sounds a little weird and it probably is.

As you all should know, we keep birds and my brothers have a couple of English Springer Spaniels. Jake and Zoe are birding dogs so all of our birds must be chaperoned when out away from the coop. We also have a lot of water on the place, so we thought a short trip to our little pond might be good for the geese since my brother had the dogs inside.

The geese enjoyed their short outing but were ready to go home when I was.

Just for reference I've included a picture of the geese from March 31st of this year. They grow up fast!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Chicken Marsala Recipe and Budget Complaints

We've been trying to save money because things are tight right now. Partly because we have the added expense of homeschooling, but I know part of the reason we seem to always be broke is that I haven't been cooking as much as I should. Going out to eat, even at McDonalds, is expensive. For a family of five, we spend at least $30 for every meal we eat away from our table. That adds up pretty quickly.

When I finally get motivated to take action I create a menu for at least two weeks and sometimes as far out as a month in advance. Then we go grocery shopping. Inevitably, we find deals on things, such as a sale on ham or pork roast, or even hot dog buns. Then my menu has to change to make sure we eat the buns before they get moldy. It's not a deal if you don't eat it. It's just money thrown away. What I really need to do is make a menu, go shopping, then adjust the menu to what we bought. That might make a tighter, more easily followed schedule.

Also, I like to try different recipes to keep things from getting boring. I have several recipes that I'd consider regulars - spaghetti is easy, but I reserve that one for when I'm not going to be home to cook. It's easy for the girls to make and I am TIRED of spaghetti. We went through a spaghetti-every-few-days phase a few years back. I make sure to keep that one on the go to list, but don't allow it too often any more. I've gotten the frequency of spaghetti down low enough that I don't completely dread the sound of it and am enjoying it again.

All that being said, I was searching for a chicken recipe. We'd found a deal on boneless, skinless chicken breasts and I'd been aching to use it up. For me, chicken seems to be the easiest thing to try as a new recipe and have at least half of my family enjoy the meal.

In my search I found a recipe for chicken marsala. I once tried my cousin's plate of chicken marsala when we ate at Olive Garden. Sadly, I did not like it. But, the recipe I found called for asparagus. If you've been following me lately, you'll know we have some wild asparagus that grows on our land and we've been harvesting it. I have an abundance of asparagus right now. It's wonderful and if I can include it into a recipe I love it. I consider it as almost free food. Around here I've seen the prices of asparagus as high as $7.99 a pound, so I always feel rich when I eat asparagus. Then, when I think about how we obtained our asparagus (for a small fee of walking around, bending down, and cutting the stalks) I feel like I'm crafty and smart, as if I'm cheating the system somehow. It gives me a giggle. "Take that! I'm eating asparagus for FREE!" Yeah, I know. I'm weird. I'm okay with it.

I had to go do a little extra shopping for marsala wine and mushrooms, but I had everything else the recipe calls for. The wine was right at $14 but I only used 3/4 cup, so I have plenty for later recipes and the mushrooms were less than $2. I figure the recipe cost me about $15 to make, and I think I might have been estimating a little high. I've attached a picture of the finished product on my plate. I hadn't even thought about taking a picture until I tasted it. Then I immediately whipped out my phone. I wanted this documented! It was YUMMY!

The recipe called for chicken - I used the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. However, she states that she also uses chicken thighs. That would cost even less than the breasts. I don't know how much I used. I had taken a package, butterflied the breasts in half to make them thinner. I should have beat them up a little to thin them out a little more, but I didn't. I just coated them in flour with some salt and pepper and then fried them up in a hot skillet with olive oil.

While I cooked the chicken I roasted the asparagus. All I did for that was cut the asparagus into small pieces. Some of our asparagus is HUGE so I cut those down even more. Then I put it all on a tin foil lined cookie sheet with some olive oil and salt and pepper. I put them in the oven at 400° for twenty minutes.

When the chicken was done cooking I took it out of the pan and then added the mushrooms and a little bit of oil. I cooked the mushrooms until they were soft and then I added the garlic. I didn't cook that too long since I tend to burn garlic when I do this. The recipe calls for 2 cloves minced. I just eyeballed some from my HUGE stash of minced garlic I keep on hand at all times.

Then I added the 3/4 cup of marsala wine. It doesn't specify, but I used sweet marsala since that was the only kind my local grocery store had. I guess there is also a dry marsala wine and I might try that someday. I followed the recipe and let it cook on high for a bit to cook off some of the alcohol. Then I added the 3/4 cup of chicken broth. Actually, I added a full can of it. It was probably closer to a cup than to 3/4 cup and might have been more than a full cup.

I let that cook down for about ten minutes. While this was going on the asparagus finished roasting and I put it on the counter to wait. Then I started cooking the pasta.

When the sauce was done (the pasta wasn't done yet) I added the asparagus. I scraped it all into the sauce, trying to be sure to get some of that salt and pepper into the sauce with the asparagus. Then I let it sit until the pasta finished. I never did add the chicken into the sauce - I forgot. I did taste the sauce and added a little more salt and pepper. You may or may not want to do this, but I recommend tasting it first. Of course, I tasted it several times before dinner time.

Then I plated it - pasta, chicken, and then drizzled the sauce with mushrooms and asparagus over the top. The sauce was very thin and I felt like I wanted more, so I will probably double it next time. I might even double the mushrooms, garlic, and asparagus.

Something I just now thought of, the recipe also calls for parmesan cheese and I forgot to use it. Oops. Next time, because there WILL be a next time for this recipe.

I'm including a link to the site that has the recipe because I don't want to claim it as my own. It isn't. I found it on Vodka&Biscuits and I will definitely be frequenting that site.

Here is a link to the CHICKEN MARSALA WITH MUSHROOMS AND ASPARAGUS recipe. She also has prettier pictures of the dish.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Demon Cycle Books

The Core 
Peter V. Brett

I first came across The Warded Man several years ago when I was doing research on a producer who asked to shop my books around for a TV or movie deal. Enter in my research - I wanted to know this producer's tastes. One of the books she'd also optioned was The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. I'd not heard of the book, so I downloaded it and fell in love. I was extremely pleased she'd be interested in my books since she was also interested in a great book like The Warded Man. Of course, nothing came of her efforts with my books. I do like to dream and reminisce once in a while, though.

Brett seems a little slow in putting them out, so I've, honestly, forgotten about the series. If it weren't for my oldest daughter, it may have been a long time before I thought to look for more in the series.

When I first downloaded the books she was too young to read them so I made her hold off until she got older. These books are for a mature audience. I own the first four on audio, so she's been listening to them and informed me I need to get the next book. I was looking for a new book to read, and since she'd reminded me of the series I thought I should pick it up.

In my research, I found that book five doesn't release until October of this year, so I thought I'd share the other four and the pre-order for the next one. I have pre-ordered my copy of The Core and it should be available for me to read/listen to by October 3rd of this year, 2017.

I am including links to buy from Amazon and Audible. You can simply click on the Kindle link if you'd like to buy a Kindle version or the corresponding word for the version you prefer. I do have a link for a four book bundle that will save you some money if you plan to purchase all four for your Kindle at once.

Here is the description for the four book bundle as it is found on Amazon:

As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile.

It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault.

Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will do the unthinkable, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past.

Arlen Bales will pay any price, embrace any sacrifice, for freedom, and his grim journey will take him beyond the bounds of human power. Crippled by the demons that killed his parents, Rojer Inn seeks solace in music, only to discover that his instrument can be a weapon as well as a refuge. Wanting to cure the sick and injured, Leesha Paper overcomes great hardship to become a guardian of old world science, learning that what heals can also harm. Together, they will stand against the night.

Book One - The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett - Kindle - Paperback - Audio

Book Two - The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett - Kindle - Paperback - Audio

Book Three - The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett - Kindle - Paperback - Audio

Book Four - The Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett - Kindle - Paperback - Audio

If you buy all four books separately for your Kindle the cost is $34.96, but you can buy them all in one for your Kindle for just $24.99 by clicking here:  Four book omnibus - Kindle Edition

Pre-order the fifth book - The Core by Peter V. Brett - Kindle - Hardcover - Audio