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Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Bowl Recipe Round-Up

For some odd reason, I couldn't wait for the Super Bowl this year. And I don't even watch that much football, which makes this even more peculiar. It's probably because I'm tired of the football season and just want it to be over with. Between the months of November and the beginning of January, if you even try to walk out of the house with a shirt that is non-Colts, expect lots of glares and people sniffing their noses. Football is serious in Indiana. The Colts are one of things we Hoosiers can pride ourselves on, and, believe me, we do. I was hoping as much as the next girl that the Colts would get into the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, that was not to be. Oh well. Maybe next year.

However, besides the end of the football season (I'm more of a basketball person) the one other thing I do enjoy about the Super Bowl is the food. I love bite-sized appetizers, anything that's fried, and classic American comfort food, such as, burgers, hotdogs, and buffalo chicken wings. That's why I've compiled this list of foods that would be great Super Bowl food.

*Note: All pictures come from original authors

I hope you all have a great Super Bowl weekend! And I also hope that the Broncos win. ;)
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Healthy Onion Rings

Onion rings are an American classic. And it's no wonder, seeing as how nothing is better than a sweet, carmelized onion enveloped in a beer batter. (Okay, maybe I can name a couple things better than onion rings, but you get my point.)

Admittedly, the recipe I'm giving to you today isn't exactly like the onion rings of your youth, but I promise they're just as good. Even my sister gave these a thumbs up. That's high praise from her. She normally turns her nose up at whatever I make. Although she still ends up eating it...

To be honest, I don't really know how to eat an onion ring. That might be really random, but I'm like 100% serious. Whenever I try to eat one I end up accidentally sliding out the entire onion from the breading and don't get any of the bread but all of the onion. :/ Oh well, these are slightly easier to eat, because they aren't totally covered in batter. It's just a light crispy coating that tastes like a normal onion ring, if not better.

Inspired by this recipe

1 large sweet onion cut into 1/2" slices
1/4 c. chickpea flour (or other flour of choice)
1/4-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. milk of choice
1 c. crushed pork rinds (or bread crumbs or maybe even potato chips?)

1. Preheat your oven to 420 degrees F. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and grease the rack.
2. Slice your onions into rings.
3. Put the rings in a gallon ziplock bag with the flour, salt, and garlic powder. Shake entire the onions are completely coated in the flour.
4. In a small bowl, add the milk
5. In another bowl or pie plate, add the pork rinds.
6. Dipping one onion ring at a time, first dip in the milk, then the pork rinds and place on the cooling rack.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes. Then broil for an additional minute. Serve with ketchup or dip of choice.

Inquiry of the Day:

Will you be watching the Super Bowl this year?

I definitely will be. Not only is it a good excuse to make anything that's deepfried, Peyton Manning is playing this year. As you might've guessed, I'm a Colts fan (I live in Indianapolis, of course I'm a Colts fan), so I'm sort of obligated to root for Denver and Peyton. ;)
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Final Draft

Okay, so remember how so many months ago when I was doing my first round of revising? Well this is it guys. I'm on the last draft.

You cannot begin to understand how excited and happy I am right now. Happy not only because I got the darn (frustrating, irritating, beautiful) thing done, but also because I get to share it with you guys soon. Eep! It's so exciting!

The only thing left to do are line edits, which is basically looking for grammar/spelling issues. Easy peasy compared to the other edits I've done. Hopefully this'll be the least painful edit. *crosses fingers*

What I'm really worried about is it not being good enough. I love it, my friends (of the ones I've let read it) love it, but what about my family? What about you guys? Have I not done enough? Is it not close enough to perfection? I know it'll never be perfect, but still.... There will always be haters, I know and expect that, but am I strong enough to take the criticism? Especially when it might be coming from my own family? That will hurt more than any of the other criticism I've had to take.

I'm going to keep it super short and sweet today and spare you all from my endless ranting (plus my dad is pestering me to get off  the computer...), so this is it. This is the end. I hope you guys love this book as much as I have grown to love it.

 And then the writing cycle starts all over again when I write books two and three. ;) 

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mexican Hot Chocolate

I have a confession.

The pictures aren't of Mexican hot chocolate. They're of regular hot chocolate. But, to be honest, they look practically the same, so I thought this picture would suffice.

Anyways, after having so many cups of hot chocolate, things start to get a little boring. Why not change it up a bit with this rich, spicy, and chocolatey recipe? After the 12 inches of snow and below zero weather we got last week I craved hot chocolate that would warm me up from head to toe. This recipe fits the bill!

A word of caution before you try this recipe is: It is spicy. You definitely do not want to add more cayenne than I call for. And if you're not a huge fan of spicy foods, I would recommend leaving it out. But keep the cinnamon! It adds a different flavor to normal hot chocolate and I am a huge fan of the two together.

As Valentine's Day is creeping closer towards us, I was wondering if you have any recipe suggestions. Any special recipes you usually have on Valentine's Day that you would like to see me recreate? I'm thinking about trying this recipe. I'll let you all know how it goes. ;)

2 1/4 c. almond milk (unsweetend) or light coconut milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. cocoa powder
pinch cayenne pepper
scant 1 tsp. cinnamon
3 T. honey
liquid stevia, to taste
pinch salt

1. Blend all the ingredients together in a blender.
2. Pour into a small pot and heat on the stove until simmering.
3. Top with whipped cream and extra cinnamon, if desired.

Inquiry of the Day:

What other hot chocolate flavors have you tried? At Panera, they serve this salted caramel hot chocolate with chocolate chip marhmallows that is to die for. Maybe I'll make that sometime... 
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top Recipes of 2013

This post is long due, you guys. And I apologize for it being so late. With the Snowmageddon, catching a little bit of the stomach bug, and school starting up again, I just haven't had the time (or wanted) to blog. But now I do. And seeing as how I'm stuck inside for another day, I really have no excuses.

Anyways, these are the most popular recipes on my blog and I posted all of them in 2013. One is the most popular and ten is the least. However, they all are delicious. At least, I think so. ;)

1. Healthy 3 Musketeers

2. Vanilla Chai Iced "Frappe"

3. No-Mayo Slaw

4. Paleo Crepes

5. Cake Batter Ice Cream

6. Copycat Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate

7. Paleo CoCo Wheats

8. Mint Coconut Whipped Cream

9. Vanilla Orange Smoothie

10. Red Velvet Cake Balls

Speaking of Snowmageddon, I have a new recipe coming up that's perfect for the freezing weather. Well, I don't know if it's freezing where you are, but it's -13 degrees F where I am! The recipe just needs a tad more work. Hopefully it'll be on the blog in a few days. 
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Friday, January 3, 2014

Best of 2013: Books

I realized that I forgot to wish you all a happy new year, so.... Happy New Year! I hope your 2014 is amazing! :) My New Year's resolutions are as follows:

  1. Get back to my healthy eating plan (which I slowly strayed from as the year progressed...) 
  2. Read 50 books this year 
  3. Finish editing/revising my novel
What are some of your New Year's resolutions?

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I love books. I have an obsession with them. And, when it comes down to it, I could have a worse obsession, right? ;)

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love. 

This is the concluding book in the Divergent trilogy, so if you haven't read the first two (Divergent and Insurgent), I highly suggest you do. To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the book. But not in the way that you'd think. Don't get me wrong, it was amazing, but the ending... I wanted to have a serious talk with Veronica Roth. So if you do end up reading this book- beware! 

2. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan 

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

Again, this book is part of a series and The House of Hades is the fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series. The first three are The Lost Hero, The Son of Neptune, and The Mark of Athena. You should start from the beginning if you plan on reading The House of Hades at some point. I love Rick Riordan's style and this book did not disappoint. He keeps a serious tone, but injects lots of humor into the story. Luckily there wasn't as huge of a cliffhanger as The Mark of Athena, but still enough to keep me on the edge of my seat.

3. Beyond Bacon by Matthew McCarry and Stacy Toth (aka the Paleo Parents) 

Beyond Bacon pays homage to the humble hog by teaching you how to make more than a hundred recipes featuring cuts from the entire animal. While bacon might be the most popular part of the pig for those following the paleo diet, there is a plethora of other delicious and nutrient dense cuts to enjoy.

Pastured pork is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), the "good fats" our doctors want us to eat - not to mention high in Vitamin D, a deficiency for most Americans.
Beyond Bacon breaks the myths behind this often eschewed meat and shows you how create delectable dishes that are grain-, legume-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free. Beyond Bacon allows you to improve your health and the environment by focusing on sustainable swine.

Firstly, the pictures in this book are gorgeous. I want to eat every single one of their recipes even though they might contain some strange ingredients (think the jaw of a pig). Second, the recipes are divine. Stacy and Matt have creatively incorporated the whole hog into their book. If that's not something to applaud, how about the tastiness of their recipes? I've tried the pork sausage stuffing casserole and it was awesome. I don't usually like stuffing, but that was great. If you're tired of the usual pork chops or tenderloin, this book is for you.  

4. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker - his classmate and crush - who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself-a truth he never wanted to face. 
Thirteen Reasons Why is the gripping, addictive international bestseller that has changed lives the world over. It's an unrelenting modern classic.

When I first started this book I didn't think that I would like it. Boy, was I wrong! I finished it in about 3 days. This isn't your usually teen suicide book (depressing, unoriginal, etc.). It's witty, suspenseful, and 100% creative. Both Clay and Hannah are amazing storytellers with voices all their own. I just couldn't stop reading!  

5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio 

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August Pullman was born with a facial deformity that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. 

What I loved about this book was that it gave me a new perspective. (I love it when books do that...) I would compare this book to Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. The same idea is present here, but told in a completely new way. The best part about this book was that it was told from multiple view points, which gave you insight on how other people coped with Auggie's facial deformities. And, even though it dealt with a heavy topic, this book was still full of laughs. 

6. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy–loving best friend riding shotgun—but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.  

Unlike John Green's usually deep and thought-provoking novels, this one is mainly just plain funny. There are some good philosophical moments, but you don't end up crying at the end of it. To be honest, I liked this book more than The Fault in Our Stars (please don't hate me). The writing style in this book is incredibly witty and the characters wonderfully developed.

7. All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab 

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save. 

This isn't a very well known book, but it deserves to be. The prose was amazing and the plot absolutely thrilling. It's a refreshing mystery, not like one I've ever heard before, and keeps you guessing till the very end. I was hanging on to the edge of my seat by the last few chapters. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough! 

8. Drama by Raina Relgemeier 

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she's a terrible singer. Instead she's the set designer for the stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen, and when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier! Following the success of SMILE, Raina Telgemeier brings us another graphic novel featuring a diverse set of characters that humorously explores friendship, crushes, and all-around drama!

Even though this is a graphic novel (which I don't read very often), I loved this book. It was very refreshing to read a book that practically nails the drama that occurs during middle school. And, there were plenty of twists and turns in this book. It was exactly thought-provoking, but it was a nice, easy read. I really enjoyed this book.

Inquiry of the Day:
What were some of your favorite books that you read last year? 
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Best of 2013: Food

I'm way behind schedule with these posts. I hope you guys don't mind. I will get to all of them eventually.

I highly recommend you try all these recipes. Especially the chocolate macaroon pie. And the zucchini fries. And the chicken tikka masala. ;) Heck, they're all good and relatively simple to make.

I tried to add some variety to this list and not just have the majority of it dessert recipes. I think I did a pretty good job. Over half the list are non-dessert items. (Not that I couldn't make a whole post on desserts. ;) And I have a little bit of ethnic cuisine in there, too. I've really been enjoy Indian and Thai food this year. In fact, we have the chicken tikka masala at least every other week.

Anyways, enjoy the food!

I highly, highly, recommend this recipe to anyone who is dairy-free and/or loves Indian food. Normal chicken tikka masala you marinade in a yogurt mixture overnight, then cook for a while in a tomato sauce. This is way easier. You can even make it in the crockpot! The one thing I changed with this recipe was the cut of chicken they used. We used bite-size pieces of chicken breast and fry them up before adding them to the sauce. 

Picture form Fast Paleo

My grandma called this her favorite dessert and, I have to say, it's probably one of my favorite desserts as while. Think of a Mounds candy bar, as a pie! It's really rich so you only need a little slice, but it also satisfies your chocolate cravings. 

Picture from Gluten Free Fix

 If you aren't a huge fan of zucchini, I still recommend you give this recipe a try. They're crispy and don't have too much of a zucchini flavor. You can get your vegetables in and not even know it with this recipe! Instead of using the bread crumbs, I used crushed pork rinds, but you can totally use the bread crumbs if you can eat bread. 

Picture from Chocolate Covered Katie

A lot of us gluten-free folk miss Girl Scout cookies. (Or maybe I'm just speaking for myself???) Whether you liked Girl Scout cookies or not, you should still give this recipe a try. I think these are better than the original Thin Mints. They aren't quite as sweet and a lot minty-er. 

Picture from Elana's Pantry

I love cornbread with a bowl of chili or soup, but I don't love using corn meal. Fortunately, Erica from Comfy Belly came up with a recipe that uses only almond and coconut flour. Much healthier, and much better for my belly. 

Picture from Comfy Belly

This is one of the best ice cream recipes you will ever have. I promise you. If you love coconut and you love mango, you'll adore this recipe. Now it uses real sugar, which I know some of you can't or don't want to have. Lucky for you, I adapted the recipe so it's completely refined sugar-free. Yay! :) 

Picture from The Patterned Plate

I was trying to avoid putting the same blogger in this list twice, but I couldn't help but put this peanut sauce recipe on here. It's one of my favorite vegetable dips. You could a whole bag of carrots and not even know it. My favorite way to use this sauce is to put it on the Healthy Chopped salad from Trader Joe's. 

Picture from Elana's Pantry

I'm pretty sure what every person on the Paleo diet misses are real chocolate chip cookies. You know, the ones that have that brown sugar taste to them and are slightly crisp on the outside, but chewy and soft on the inside. Well, these are the real deal. I'm 100% serious. For an even more enhanced flavor add a teaspoon of almond extract to the dough. You won't regret it. 

Picture from Against All Grain

Inquiry of the Day:

What were your favorite recipes that you tried in 2013?

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