Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lincoln in the World - Book Review

What else can be written about Abraham Lincoln? How about a book on his foreign policy or lack thereof? While Lincoln is not always remembered as a global strategist, Kevin Peraino's book Lincoln in the World aims to show that Lincoln was a great foreign-policy president who helped bring about America's rise to world power.

Through several conflicts, including a debate between Lincoln and his law partner and a potential war with a French emperor, Peraino points out just how strategic Lincoln was at handling America's foreign relations, thereby avoiding European intervention on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

If you're a fan of Lincoln, then you might enjoy this book. If you're a fan of general history and presidential foreign policy, then you'll find this book interesting. It's not always an entertaining read, and there were a few moments when I thought I should just give up on the book and not finish to the end. I'm not sure I always understood everything in the book, and there were so many names and events to keep track of. If you're expecting something like Team of Rivals, I think you'll be really disappointed.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Duke vs. Pitt

In November, my husband and I went to visit my brother-in-law in Pittsburgh. He's a college student there, and we took him to a college football game between his team, Pitt, and Duke.

Pitt lost after a disastrous field goal attempt that should have clinched the win. I was really hoping that the field goal would be good because it was cold and rainy the whole game, and I was ready to make our way over to Red Robin for dinner!

Pitt plays football games at Heinz Field, which is a pro football stadium. Because it is Heinz field, there is this whole ketchup thing that happens whenever the team makes it into touchdown territory. It's called the Red Zone.

And whenever it's Red Zone time, the Heinz ketchup bottles over the scoreboard tilt down and red "ketchup" appears on the screen. I had to take pictures of this! It was kind of creeping me out because I thought the ketchup looked more like blood than ketchup.

What do you guys think? 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Gluten Free Pizza Pot Pie

While going through the March issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray, I came across a new product from Bertolli called an Italian Style Torta. It looked like a pot pie, and the magazine described it as a pot pie filled with pizza toppings. At first, I thought, "That sounds good."

And then I thought, "I could make that myself."

So I did.

I call it Pizza Pot Pie. Here's what you need to make it:

1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
one package of gluten-free sweet Italian sausage (I use Premio brand.)
Pillsbury Gluten Free Pie & Pastry Dough
1 23-ounce jar of pasta sauce (or pizza sauce)
1/2 package of pepperoni, chopped (You'll have to do the chopping by hand.)
gluten-free cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove the sausage from its casings and brown it in a skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure you break it up into smaller pieces as it cooks.
3. Once the sausage is no longer pink, add the chopped pepperoni and the jar of sauce to the skillet and lower the heat. Once the sauce is heated through, after just a minute or two, turn off the heat.
4. Spray a nine-inch pie pan with the cooking spray.
5. Take half of the gluten-free pie dough and knead it in your hands until it becomes workable. You can attempt to roll it out into a circle that will fit in the bottom of your pie pan, but I find the Pillsbury Gluten Free Pie & Pastry Dough to be really difficult to work with that way. I just used my hands to press it out into a circle in my pie pan. (Even though it's difficult to work with, it's got such a great taste and texture when cooked, so it's well worth the effort.)

6. Pour the meat and pasta sauce mixture on top of the pie dough in the pan. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella on top.

7. Take the other half of the gluten-free pie dough and knead it in your hands until it becomes workable. Again, you can try to roll it out OR place it on parchment paper and use your hands to press it out into as large a circle as you can get. Then carefully drape that circle on top of your filling in the pie pan. Don't worry if it's not perfect. Just call it "rustic cooking".
8. If you're able, crimp the sides of the pie dough. Then, use a knife to slice two lines into the top of the pie dough.
9. Bake the pie for 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven, slice it up, and eat it!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Meal Plan Monday - March 2

It's finally March! Will we finally get warmer temperatures here in the Northeast? Let's hope so!

In the meantime, there's no waiting for good food at my house this week. Here's what's on the menu:

Sunday: yuca empanadas*

Monday: sloppy joes

Tuesday: Italian bean soup

Wednesday: on our own

Thursday: pancakes, eggs, and bacon

Friday: pea pesto pasta

Saturday: out

*new recipe

Friday, February 27, 2015

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter

The other Friday I took the day off of work and spent it getting things done: Target, library, grocery store, scrapbooking, deep-cleaning our bedroom, laundry, AND making pumpkin butter.

Yep, you heard me.

I made pumpkin butter in the middle of winter.

Really, this is more of a fall recipe, in my opinion. But you guys have been crazily repinning the Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter recipe in my Fall Recipes Pinterest board, and I happened to have an extra can of pumpkin in my pantry, so I thought, "Why the heck wouldn't I make pumpkin butter right now?"

This recipe is super easy, and aside from the 15-ounce can of pumpkin, you probably already have the other three ingredients in your fridge/pantry: apple juice, pumpkin pie spice, sugar.

That's it. Easy peasy.

Plus, it all goes in the slow cooker for about five hours and makes your kitchen smell YUMMY while it cooks.

The recipe doesn't say what size slow cooker (or Crock-Pot, if you own the trademarked brand of slow cooker) you need, but I used my two-quart slow cooker (mainly because my six-quart Crock-Pot was dirty in the sink...) and it was the perfect size! If you're planning on doubling, tripling, or quadrupling the recipe in order to make and gift the pumpkin butter, then you'll definitely want to use a larger slow cooker.

Cooking the recipe as is made enough to fill my 20-ounce Aladdin mason jar, which is made of Eastman Tritan material (not glass) so it won't crack, break, or stain. Plus, it's BPA-free!

Toast up some whole grain English muffins (cutting them in half with a fork, as is the proper way, if you didn't know) and slather this pumpkin butter on top for a delicious snack or breakfast that will have you wishing for those cool (but not frigid) and crisp days of fall.

Sigh. Winter is almost over with, right?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Selfies with Mom

For Christmas, my mom gave me a hexagon paper punch to use on my scrapbook layouts. I finally had some time to get more scrapbooking done, and I thought I would use the paper punch on a layout featuring pictures of my mom!

Here is the finished result: "Selfies with Mom!"

I used one of the kits I had put together last year and just took coordinating patterned paper from the kit and punched it into a bunch of hexagons with the paper punch. Then I laid them out on the cardstock in the pattern I wanted to create, adhered them down, and put the embellishments and pictures on top.

Do you guys use paper punches in your scrapbooking? This is the first shaped paper punch I've used. I have a couple border punches that I like to break out from time to time.

Using this paper punch was super easy. I saw a scrapbook page that my mom made using her own hexagon paper punch, and I kept that in mind when creating my page.

And if you're wondering about these pictures, they were taken back in October when my parents came in for a visit. The top picture is us picking pumpkins and the bottom one is us playing mini golf. (I won!)