Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Book Review, 4 Miles, Austin = Cardamom Crusher, Pasta Bar Menu for 30

Happy Tuesday! So far mine is already better than Monday -no rain! :) Thanks for your sweet comments on the new Greek stuffed chicken dish! It's a fave for sure. :) So my Monday was pretty good, despite the rain! Just work and a 4-mile walk during lunch, where I finished Emily Listfield's Best Intentions. This was our April book club read and I REALLY enjoyed it. Here is my review: The book focuses on Lisa, a mother of two in NY trying to keep up at work, at home, with the Jones, etc. Quickly you see that things aren't quite right with her marriage, she has problems at work and things are just falling apart. The story unfolds with friends from the past, a series of unfortunate events, etc. I liked that while the story was suspenseful and kept me guessing, it was happening against a backdrop of her being a mom, trying to make her daughters happy and packing "juice boxes." That was a nice break from the other focuses on adultery, murder and marital distrust. I think it's well-written, well-edited, had a good story with a lot of surprises and really I don't know what I'd change - except maybe the main character - her lack of backbone just straight up pissed me off sometimes. But overall, a 4.5/5! I heard it described as a chick lit mystery so it's no wonder I enjoyed!

Sigh. It's always bittersweet when I finish a good book. Sometimes good books can be what gets me to the gym (if I leave and go get on the treadmill I can see what happens next whilst walking at an incline... as if I couldn't see what happened from the comfort of my bed - I try to trick myself!). I'm now starting Nicci French's Losing You. It sounds fab! (and i'm sure it is because it's a loan from my mom and her taste in books is DEAD ON with mine. It's like we're family or something. LOL) After work, I headed straight home, cooked up some dishes, watched some TV with the fam and called it a night. I will say we tried grinding the cardamom. The rolling pin didn't work for us. Or the garlic press and meat tenderizer. What worked for us was taking the bottom of a stainless steel measuring cup with a towel folded/triple layered on top (so it doesn't hurt your hand!). Then just slowly grinding the stubborn seeds out with the bottom of the cup against a cutting board. It took Austin about 4 minutes to get one teaspoon, which is what the Chicken Vindaloo I'm making called for! I'm adapting my recipe off of this one. I hope it's fabulous!

On another note, I have a few menus sitting around that I haven't shared - eek! Here is one I used this January for my sister's shower for a little over 30 people. I thought it went over well - I did make a few tweaks and am happy with it now!

Main Dishes: Pasta with Sundried Tomato Pesto; Baked Italian Sausage Pasta; Pasta Fagioli
Salad: 'That Good Salad' - one meatless one with meat
Bread: 2 loaves of French bread with spread
Pasta Close up
Salad (same salad - one with bacon and one without for our non-meat-eating buddies)

Check out the menu on Healthified Kitchen - it includes the recipes as well as a 'To-Do List' for when to cook what! I didn't include an ingredients list, as I found I had most items on hand, and of course, the list changes for if you make two salads vs. one, provide meatless options or don't, etc. I just printed out the recipes, marked through things I had on hand, then picked up the rest.

Q: Do you have a go-to menu for entertaining? So far I've tried Italian for 30, Mexican for 50/60, Asian for 10 and Mediterranean for 20/25. I LOVE trying new menus, but like to recycle too and make them even better with lessons learned!

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