Friday, December 30, 2011

Half-Time Biscuits and Gravy AND New Years Eve Cheese Ball

Half-time during the BYU/Tulsa game this morning couldn't have gotten any better. Why? 

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy!!  

Uumm, YUM!! I used my new cookbook that Amelia got me for Christmas. That would be, this one:

Check it out. It's got a lot of recipes that have potential to be STELLA. This one proved it. I've only made Sausage Gravy at one other time in my life, a few months ago actually, and it was not nearly as good as this one. The gravy was perfect!! I loved it so much and being the psychic that I am, I new that you would all be drooling at the mouth to make this, so yes, I will share.

Sausage Country Gravy
8 oz. sage or maple-flavored bulk sausage
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Prepare the biscuits and bake them while you make the gravy.
2. Cook and stir the sausage in a small skillet over medium heat, crumbling it with a wooden spoon. Drain the fat, if necessary.
3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Cook until the roux begins to darken slightly. Slowly whisk in the milk, water, slat, and pepper. Continue stirring until the gravy thickens and comes to a simmer. Stir in the sausage.
4. Break the warm biscuits in half and cover with the gravy.

****I just realized that instead of using 8 oz. of sausage this morning, I used an entire 16 oz. pack. WHOOPS! I remember looking at it and thinking about how I would just double everything else, but a phone call from my mother and a good BYU play later and the entire 16 oz. was mixed in with the regular/not doubled measurements above.  Maybe that's why it was so good! So full of sausage!! But I kind of liked it that way, I think it would have been overly gravyish with only 8 oz. I guess you can figure out what works for you. We also used HOT sausage.  MMMMMmmmmmm.

As for the biscuits.  Good ol' BISQUICK was the way to go for me. I LOVE this stuff. You can use it to make so many things and they are all so fluffy and yummy and delicious. And it's always easy!! Just as this recipe is! And not too expensive. All you need is the sausage and all the other ingredients are every day items that you most likely already have.

The best part about the Food Nanny cookbook is that each recipe has a dinner conversation starter at the bottom of the page (what cookbook gets better than this?).  Today's was "What do you look for in a friend?"  I learned that Darin looks for loyalty and I look for good calf muscles, I mean, that is how I was attracted to Darin in the first place.


While I'm at it, I thought it wouldn't hurt to share the Cheese Ball recipe that Darin and I used to make our appetizer for Christmas Dinner. It'd be a perfect New Years Eve treat if you are still looking for something.
This one comes from this cookbook:

Lion House Christmas

Pineapple Cheese Ball
2 packages of cream cheese
1/3 chopped green pepper
2 tblsp chopped green onion
1 tblsp seasoned salt
8 oz. crushed pineapple

Throw everything together in a mixing bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon. Chill for a few hours and then roll it into a ball. (Darin and I whipped it with beaters the first time we made it and it seemed to mix the ingredients better but was harder to form into a ball).
Serve with crackers of your choice.

***The actual recipe says to roll it in crushed Pecans after it has chilled and you've formed the ball, but let's be real, who likes the nuts on the outside of a cheese ball? I certainly don't, so we just left that step out. You can do as you wish. 

ENJOY!!  Have a FABULOUS New Years Eve tomorrow night. Stay safe, party like a rock star, snap yo fingers, lean back, lean back... you know the drill.  Have fun!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Aguante Argentina!

The moment has arrived. I knew it would (I hoped it would).

For those of you who are unaware (or have forgotten), 3 years and a month ago (more or less) I was on an airplane on my way down South.  WAAAYY SOUTH. I was on  my way to the blessed land of Argentina where I would spend the next 18 months of my life.  I was serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where I was able to share a special message to anyone and everyone (and when I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE... that would listen that is) about the restoration of Jesus Christ's church on the earth and how we can come to know him and follow him better. If you are interested in learning more about what we share as missionaries: Click Here. ORRRR, ask me!! Or your nearest Mormon :).

This is her. Isn't she beautiful! So big and full of land. The light blue dots up North are the cities where I lived (Corrientes, Goya and Posadas). The darker blue dot is the most beautiful place that I have ever been, Iguazu  Falls. We got to go up on a day trip and visit the cataratas (waterfalls) one day and it was breath-taking.

She holds a VERY special place in my heart so I'm warning you now that I will most likely talk about her often, and maybe even the skinny minny country right next to her, that is CHILE. I also got to spend an amazing 4 months down in Chile and can be found wandering down memory lane from time to time. With that said, if you have a grudge against South America, or met someone from South America that has offended you, or just don't like to talk about any other country besides the United States, this isn't the blog for you.

Anywhoooo... the reason behind the timing of this blog post representing a little part of this special part of my life:
Today I felt a special connection to my dear friends down South as my work day mirrored a day in the life of an Argentine. You see, in Argentina, and in many other Hispanic countries, you have something called THE SIESTA. It's a pretty magical thing really. I had heard about this so called SIESTA before traveling down South but I couldn't really comprehend it until I had experienced it. What happens is, everyone wakes up and heads off to work (usually somewhere between 6-8am) (and when I say everyone, I may not literally mean EVERYONE, in most cases the women stay home to prepare food) and then around the middle of the day (usually around 12pm in Argentina) everything shuts down and everyone goes home for lunch and THE SIESTA. Lunch is huge. I mean BIG. This is their equivalent to our dinner. They eat a light breakfast (maybe some bread and mate) and then chow down on a big, hearty, yummmmy lunch, like this:

Empanadas anyone? Ham and cheese? Meat? Chicken? Fish? Alligator? (one of my personal favorites)

Or perhaps some Nouqis?
Pizza?  (Don't worry, it looked odd to me at first too. But this is how it's done. It's all about the olives and the red peppers baby).

Then there is my personal favorite, the Milanesa.

If you are a little less fortunate in the $$$ department, a good Guiso will work just fine.

If you are little MORE fortunate in the $$$ department: EL ASADO (barbeque. And not just any barbeque. A REAL barbeque. Do you see any hamburgers or hot dogs out there? NO. That's because that is not a barbeque, as I was reminded many time...)

MMMMMMMM... doesn't that just make your mouth water!
And don't forget the bread!!!! Don't think I ever had a meal without the pan (bread). I even made tacos for a couple families and they still put bread on the table. I tried to explain that you don't usually eat bread with tacos, but I was laughed at. You eat bread with EVERYTHING.

So, that's lunch. Like I said, BIG. Then after lunch is the coveted SIESTA (which translates as NAP for anyone who is still struggling with that one). And not just any nap.  An entire city nap!!!  It's an incredible thing. Everyone naps. All the stores close, the kiosko's close, even some of the internet cafes close. The only people alive in that 2-3 hour period are a few of the stray dogs and...yours truly, the missionaries!! Not the best time to go knocking on doors to teach people, but leads to some interesting memories.

The point of this post (which was meant to be a short post, but I'm talking about Argentina people!! Is it possible to make it short?) is to say that today I had an Argentine work day. I had a morning shift where I worked from 8-1pm and then substituted for someone else's class and worked again from 5-9pm. My middle day may not have consisted of Milanesa or Asado or even an incredible nap (just a baby one), rather it was filled with cleaning out the storage shed, putting the Christmas decorations away and a quite difficult run with the husband after stuffing my face all week. BUT, it made me think of Argentina. It helped me remember an ity bity bit of what it was like to be down there and what it might feel like to be Argentine, and anything that does that, however small it may be, is worth sharing.

More stories to come, but until then...go find your closest Argentine Restaurant and ENJOY!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

La Navidad

Christmas was a really good day.

It started out with an incredible breakfast of Cinnamon-Pecan Pancakes, Sausage and Scrambled Eggs made by my Mother and Sister-In-Law.  SO GOOD.

We then made our way to church for a really nice Christmas service, in the which we sang a lot of Christmas hymns and heard the Christmas story read from Luke 2. It was a nice hour long meeting and really helped me start off Christmas day in the right way. 

Not long after we got home from church Derek and Linzy and their ADORABLE little girl Claire showed up. She has such a beautiful smile and smiles at EVERYONE.

Then on to the gifts...

Darin opening up his running pants and gloves and me my pretty green scarf
Making his best Shawn Spencer face
Chess set and cardigans!

Darin's brother Devin is a firefighter and just about everything he got was fireman related, it was pretty fun to watch him open his presents.

Fireman Santa
Fireman Monopoly
Mom with her Kindle! She was pretty excited :)

The living room AFTER opening gifts

More fun with Claire:

 Darin's future with children. Holding on to them while quickly checking his email and facebook. haha. That's my Darin. Love it.

After taking some time to play around with gifts, take a little siesta and talk to my family, we had an incredible Christmas dinner. My Mother-In-Law picked all the recipes out of the Lion House Cookbook and what a good decision that was! The food was fantastic. Darin and I were in charge of the appetizer (we made a Pineapple Cheeseball) and also the drink (a lemon-lime, sherbet smoothie type drink). Amelia made a yummy Poppy Seed Spinach Salad and Derek and Linzy made a creamy Almond Celery Casserole. Put together with the ham, mashed potatoes, gravy and rolls and we had a meal.

Getting the drink on the table


 We finished off the evening with a little Fireman Monopoly. I didn't realize what a fun game that was. I think growing up I never wanted to play it because it is such a long game. Even though we were all creamed by Amelia, I think it's going to become my new game addiction. I already called my parents and asked them to send me mine... :)

I'm sad that I wasn't able to be with my direct family on Christmas and miss them a lot, but I am really grateful that Darin's family is so close to us and that we all got to be together this special day.

The Light House

I am SO SO SO glad that Darin has a wicked good eye and spotted this house the other night while we were driving around Pocatello looking at Christmas lights. We almost went right past it!!

Earlier this month we tried to find one down by where we live, but the closet one we could find was in Salt Lake City, so I was obviously super-duper excited in  finding this one. In fact, Darin and I went back last night to watch some more.  My attempt at taking videos to share with you all wasn't very successful. I think my camera was unsure how to handle all of the bright, changing lights. But I tried, may be a little blurry here and there, but you get the idea :).

Coolest thing EVER! Love it!  I could sit out there for hours watching it. Let me know if you know of any in the Wasatch area so we can be prepared for next year and find one in your local area! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas

The Christmas festivities actually began in our ity bity apartment quite some time ago, even before Thanksgiving, I'll sheepishly admit. But we couldn't help it!! Our little $10 Amazon tree arrived and we couldn't help but pull it out of the box to admire the little wonder. Of course once it was out of the box, we just had to decorate it, and I'm glad we did. It was so fun to put up the decorations and lights with Darin. Our FIRST married Christmas! Our FIRST tree! Ooohhhh... so many FIRSTS. We have to enjoy them as much as we can right? I mean, you never hear people talk about their "7th Christmas!!"  or "4th Christmas tree!!"  My apologies go out to all who feel the need to throw up over these extremely, overly cutsie thoughts, but there is something special about the FIRSTS, and I plan to live em' up until they run out! Grab a bowl if you feel the need.

Putting the FIRST few ornaments on our FIRST ity bity precious Christmas tree. (Thanks mom for the ornaments!! We couldn't have done it without you!)

The finished product. She may not be a masterpiece, but we love her and it has been so fun to have her in our home this holiday season. Especially love the lights that Darin put around the living room, besides the fact that they have fallen down in that corner behind me a few times and tend to choke us when we walk out of the bedroom in the morning, but no harm done.

That was the beginning of our Christmas adventures, then just this Thursday night we drove up to Pocatello, Idaho to spend Christmas with Darin's family and got right to work on the decorations as soon as we arrived.

I really don't know. Just don't ask.
The finished product
And of course we couldn't finish off the evening without making some hot chocolate in our stellar hot chocolate maker (thanks Mom S.!!!). If you don't have one of these things, get one. The chocolate is so smooth, so silky, so so SOmuch like a rich lotion cream making it's way so effortlessly down your throat. It's great.

It's been a great holiday season thus far (minus the finals and end of semester projects/papers). In fact, last night we found one of those music, Christmas light houses. Definitely one of the highlights of this Christmas, those things are AWESOME.

I am super thankful for having such amazing family, on both sides of the country :), that take care of us and love us.  I am even more thankful for the knowledge that I have of our Saviors birth and of the perfect life that he led. I know that he lived and that he does still live today. He came to earth to save us all from our sins and errors and help us better the quality of our life as we follow him and search to know him better. I know that we can come to know him as we follow our living prophet today. I am so blessed to have this knowledge in my life and know that it is thanks to him and his love that I can feel so happy each day of my life.

Merry Christmas!!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

One Year Ago: The Placing of the Pearl

It's been one year today since the pearl landed on my left-hand ring finger. For those of you who are interested and may not have heard, here is the story:

(Disclaimer: The dates in this story may not be 100% accurate)

November 29th 2010-- In the car

B:  When we go to D.C. over Christmas break, wouldn't it be fun if my parents come with us? It'd be fun to spend some time with them, don't you think?
D:  Uuuhhhmmm... I mean, I think it would be more fun if we went by ourselves.
B: What? Why? 
D: I dunno... I just figured, it's our first time in D.C. together and I thought it would be more special if it was just you and I.
B: What?! More special? Why don't you want to let my parents come?! You don't want to get to know my parents do you? 
D:  No, I do want to get to know your parents. Yeah, you're right. They should come.

December, 10th 2010 -- Sitting in the living room of my apartment in Provo
B: Wouldn't it be fun if my whole family could come to D.C. with us? A family day trip with my siblings too.
D: Wait, I thought that just your parents were coming...
B: Yeah, that's what we talked about, but what if we figured out a day when we could ALL go together, you know, with my siblings too.
D: That's a lot of people.
B (irritation showing in her voice): Why don't you want to hang out with my family? We're flying out to PA to be with them you know, not just so that us 2 can go off and be by ourselves.  
D: I know. I just, your whole family...
B: I don't get it, why don't you want to hang out together?
D: No, it's fine. Yeah, let's go with your whole family.
B (realization setting in): Oohhh... you were gonna propose in D.C. weren't you?
D: No. Of course not.
B: That's why you don't want my family to come. I get it.
D: Whatever, I wasn't going to propose there.
B: Yes you were. Why else would you not want them to come? You were going to propose in D.C. Weren't you?
D (not being able to contain himself any longer): So what if I was! So what if I was going to propose in D.C.!

After that I felt like a complete idiot for ruining the surprise and told him he could still do it there and he said no, that he couldn't because I knew about it. I got really sad and felt like I had ruined the perfect proposal in the capitol city, and I guess that's because I had. It haunted my dreams, I quit my job and stayed at home crying in bed while Darin comforted me with ramen noodles and episodes of Psych (okay, it wasn't to that extreme, but I was pretty upset at myself).

December, 23 2010 -- Washington D.C 
We hadn't talked much about the previous conversation or where and when the proposal would happen. I fully avoided the topic. I still expected it to happen over break, while visiting my family and since we hadn't talked about it in a few weeks I thought that perhaps he could still be planning on doing it in D.C., but was trying to make me think that he wasn't. In fact, I became absolutely POSITIVE that he was still going to propose in D.C. 

I was thinking about it the entire day. When? Where? I watched him very closely as we went through security in the museums to see if he acted as though he was hiding something, NOTHING. At dinner we started talking about what we wanted to do for the rest of the night. We were getting tired but we hadn't been to the memorials yet. That's it. That's where he was going to propose, I was certain of it, UNTIL he started talking about how tired he was and turned it all on me.

D: Do you still want to go to the memorials?
B: Of course I do! You don't?
D: Yeah, I guess we can go. Yeah, I don't mind going, I'm just getting tired.

And that's when the doubt began to build. What if he's not going to propose? Maybe he was being honest in saying that he wouldn't propose in D.C. because I ruined the surprise.  So there I was, being torn to pieces on the inside, wishing that I could just be a fiancee already.

While walking toward the Lincoln Memorial, clear sky, full moon, total romance:
D: Man, this would have been the perfect night for a proposal. 
B: WHAT!? You really aren't going to propose to me?
D: Of course not. I told you I couldn't do it here anymore.

I was NOT a happy camper. I had been looking forward to the proposal ALL day. How could I have been wrong? I felt it coming, but I was wrong.  I didn't hold his hand. I didn't talk. I just whipped out my camera and began taking pictures of anything and everything. I get slightly embarrassed telling this story because it makes me sound like an emotional 15 year old, which is how I was acting. I don't know why it was so emotional for me, but I guess that's what love does to a girl....aaaaaaaa....

While taking a picture of the Washington Monument and the moon:
D: Brillante.
B (irritated): What?
D: Brillante.
B: What!?--(still take pictures of the  Monument, sure had a lot of those to go through and delete)
D: Turn around.

As soon as he said it I knew I had proven my idiocy again and felt that same embarrassed feeling come over me. I turned around slowly and there he was, bent down on one knee with the pearly white extended toward me. You know the rest :).

One of the many pictures I took while trying to distract myself from reality
My FIANCEE at the proposal spot
Yo at the proposal location

How was he so ridiculously patient with me throughout all of this? I do not know. It still amazes me that he didn't just take the ring back and tell me we were through, but that's my Darin. He loved me then and he loves me now, and that I do know.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekend in the City of the Lake with Salt

Saturday morning Darin and I officially began to feel that SCHOOL'S OUT feeling that we yearn for the entire semester (Okay, maybe not the ENTIRE semester, but when you have more homework to do then you have time and you're exhausted. You know the feeling). We started out the day by sleeping in. Yup, you heard it right, SLEEPING IN!! It was A-mazing. Rolled out of bed around 10am, packed a little suitcase with a few essentials and were off to Salt Lake City in perfect time to listen to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.

Dropped our friend Erik off at the Airport (going home to Mexico for  break to see his family) and then headed over to my Sister-In-Law's apartment (Darin's mom also came down for the weekend :) ). Although we were STARVING and needing a lavatory we waited patiently outside for 29 minutes until the girls got home from shopping and were off to lunch.

We went out and ate at The Lion House. Delish. Have you eaten there? I'd heard so many good things about it and all were true.  The Apple Pie... TO DIE FOR. It was SO good.

(Chicken Dijon with YUMMY broccoli soup)
(The fam. ALWAYS so excited and willing to get their pictures taken)

(He didn't want his picture taken...I took it anyways)

After our delightful lunch we walked around the temple for a couple minutes, and when I say a couple minutes, I'm not exaggerating.  Like 10.  And in those dear sweet 10 minutes, we must have seen AT LEAST 8 brides and grooms walking around getting their pictures taken.  WOW.  I knew Salt Lake City was a popular temple, but I had no idea. Just to prove that I'm not lying, I shot a few of these for your viewing pleasure...
Bride Numero 1

Bride numero 2

Bride Numero 3

Bride Numero 4

A little hard to see, but Bride Numero 5 nonetheless
I only got 5 before I started to feel a little awkward and decided to stop. But seriously, there were A LOT of brides.  Of course, it was the perfect weekend for getting hitched. First weekend after finals. Only weekend over break that doesn't involve Christmas and New Years. No doubt it was a busy wedding weekend throughout the nation.  Happy Wedding!!!

That evening we got all bundled up and went to the Conference Center to watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform with Nathan Gunn and my childhood/preteen/teen/maybe even a little now idol JANE SEYMOUR. The only thing that could have made it better would have been having Sully at her side. But even seeing good ol' life-saving Dr. Mike in person was AWESOME. Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was by far my favorite show growing up and I have obviously reenacted episodes of the show, with me as Dr. Mike, so clearly I felt a connection.  Let me not get on a Dr. Quinn tangent, because I oh so easily could.

Back to the concert:

The stage was gorgeous and all decked out for Christmas.

Me and Sweet Bottom, getting ready for an awesome concert
The concert was really really really good. Great dancing, singing and story telling. At the very end, Jane Seymour read the Christmas Story out of Luke 2 and then the choir and Nathan Gunn sung a very powerful version of Angels From the Realms of Glory. I could really feel the Christmas spirit so strong which I know comes from the spirit of remembering Christ at this time of year. It's amazing how powerful of a testimony music can be. I'm so thankful for Amelia and Sharon for inviting us this amazing concert with them. It definitely helped me get even more into the Christmas mood.

After the concert we walked around temple square and looked at the lights for a bit before calling it a night.

Merry Week of Christmas to all!!!