Quatro: Addictive Dip & Hangover II

Last night was our first game night with our upstairs neighbor. It was great to hang out, socialize and play some great card games. All three of us are pretty new to town and don’t have a ton of friends yet so a night like that is really good. It makes me feel like I’m social and have friends outside of the internet. But don’t worry internet friends, I still love you.

 

While playing Uno and Phase 10 we of course needed finger food to keep our strategy forming minds sharp. Our gracious host has some awesome homemade veggie dip and tasty breadsticks. I wracked my brain for a bit trying to figure out what to bring. At first I thought deviled eggs, a classic. But that just felt…. lame. So on a hunt I went and what I found was the most addictive amazingly simple dip ever.

 

Beer Cheese Dip

(adapted from tasteofhome.com)

 

2 pkgs of cream cheese (8oz each)

1 pkg ranch dressing mix

2cups shredded cheddar cheese

½ to ¾ cups beer (your favorite or non-alcoholic)

Pretzels for dipping

 

Let the cream cheese sit out for a while to soften or zap in the microwave for about 30seconds to loosen up. Dump in the ranch mix and the beer. Blend until fluffy and fully mixed. Incorporate the shredded cheese. Serve immediately with pretzels or cover and refrigerate for later.

 

And that’s it. So easy but trust me, you will be amazed how delicious it is. Surprisingly it isn’t overly cheesy or overpowered with the ranch. Somehow it balances out perfectly. I’m sure you could serve it with chips, veggies (it’s good with carrots) or what have you. The pretzels really pair well though.

 

Speaking of pretzels, I love love love them. Next post I’ll share my favorite soft pretzel recipe and maybe even experiment with a sweet cinnamon version…

 

Anyhow, game night was most definitely a success. Awesome time, will do again!

 

Today as a wonderful follow-up to the Memorial Day weekend bonanza my amazing boy and I went to see The Hangover Part II. Holy crap. It was definitely good. A lot of the same tricks and gimmicks were used granted, but it was still well done. The backdrop of Thailand is gorgeous to say the least. Tiny spoiler- the monkey is sooooo cute and Alan’s gift for Stu is truly perfect.

 

If you enjoyed the first one at all, you’ll have a good time seeing this one!

 

Tomorrow will hopefully be a good wrap-up of the weekend with a solid raid night. My guild is downing heroics like champs, it’s super fun.

 

Before I end this post though, I do have to say something about Memorial Day. It’s a day about those who have died in service to the nation I call home. There are a lot of military members in my family, including my dad and brother. Fortunately I haven’t lost any family to war, though some have been injured. It’s times like this that I think of the sacrifice of so many.

 

Whether you agree with the politics of any war, you should always support those who put their lives on the line to stand up for something, to make a difference. And it’s not just the soldier, it’s their family too. I remember crying for my dad in kindergarten because he’d been gone for so long deployed on a ship for the Gulf War (the original). Years later there were many times I rolled my eyes at my mom who cried at patriotic songs or wore flag festooned outfits, but I take them all back.

 

Thank you to the men and women who went to war.

 

Thank you to their families who supported them.

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Trilogy! Enchiladas, Toaster Oven & LA Noire

Of all kitchen small appliances that I have, the toaster oven is by far the most versatile. With just the boy and me it really helps cut back on power bills and heating up our small apartment when I use the toaster oven instead of the regular oven. You can toast sandwiches, make nachos, bake potatoes, make mini monkey bread and sooooo much more.

And let’s say that whoever you live with is a bit of a picky eater, maybe he isn’t a fan of Mexican while you desperately love it. Yes, it’s true, I love Mexican food. Years in southern California have spoiled me rotten and here in the middle of potato fields there just aren’t an abundance of choices for any ethnic food. Greek, Thai, Mexican, Arabic…. <sigh>.

So when I’m needing Mexican and the boy gives me that patient, being led to slaughter look, I improvise. Out of the need for enchiladas and the picky palate of my boy, I found a way to make enchiladas for one in the toaster oven. He eats leftovers, I eat melty cheesy goodness, everyone wins. So here it is, the toaster oven wonder-

Enchiladas for One

2 flour tortillas

1 to 2 cups shredded cheese

Salsa or 1 can enchilada sauce

Optionals:

sliced black olives

jalapenos

diced cooked chicken (cook in a little oil with cumin, salt, pepper and chile powder)

sauteed onions

Cover toaster oven pan with some aluminum foil and microwave the tortillas for about 10seconds to make them soft. Put some cheese down the center of each tortilla, add any of your optionals at this time. Take your salsa or enchilada sauce and pour approximately two tablespoons over the cheese and optionals. Fold over the sides of the tortilla, place seam side down on the toaster oven pan. Cover the tops with more salsa or sauce then smother with the cheese. Put in the toaster oven on bake, 350* for about 8 to 10 minutes or until all the cheese is amazingly melty.

You’ll devour them and love the super easy cleanup.

Now what to do while eating all that melty goodness? Perhaps…. watch the boy play LA Noire? Yes, that sounds excellent. Yesterday while picking up various summer essentials like anti-death-by-sun cream we also grabbed a copy of LA Noire. For those of you pale like me who do not tan ever, you should understand. Anywho, LA Noire is a single-player game but my boy and I manage to make them multi-player games. He takes the controller, I make the choices. It works out well especially since we found that I’m better at questioning/interrogation. This game is as good as I heard, you put the pieces together and solve mysteries in a real gum-shoe fashion. There’s some great backstory too and the backdrop of 1950’s Los Angeles is beautifully crafted. Rockstar games, who made GTA, Max Payne and Red Dead, have a great engine at the base of this game.

Now if just solving mysteries sounds boring to you, no worries! There’s plenty of action too! Chasing suspects, tailing suspects, shoot outs and hostage situations. Plus, not everything is just handed to you. A lot of times evidence is semi-misleading and suspects lie. You have to choose if someone is telling the truth, you doubt them or you think they’re lying. You get points for the right reaction and it’s really quite exciting. I’d definitely give it 9/10.

Last bit of news before I sign off for now- my lily bloomed! It’s so gorgeous!

Asiatic Lily in bloom!

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Episode II: Gardens & Legendaries

I honestly didn’t expect to be making another post so soon what with my “at least twice a week” goal, but when you’re unemployed and just keeping house you find interesting things to do. My boy gets up early and goes to work, such a sweetie, so I’ve taken to begrudgingly cleaning.

To brighten the day a bit though, I started a mini garden. Now, when you’re in an apartment there really isn’t too much space so my garden consists of four pots sitting on the 4ft by 2ft concrete slab that is our “porch.”

Growing up we always had gardens. Whether it was in the scorching heat of Southern California or the lush suburbia of Maryland, we had something growing in the backyard. It’s been a few years since I’ve had my own garden and thanks to a little inspiration of home improvement stores bursting with color as well as my upstairs neighbor I set about to make a little patch of green.

Considering the limited space, I opted for plants that could do well in pots. So there’s an Asiatic lily starting to bloom next to three little strawberry plants in a big basin, a small pot of catnip for the kitties and a deep pot to hold the little seeds that I hope will turn into cucumbers. It’s not much, but I’ll keep you updated on the progress. The strawberries have already perked up and look ready to burst into a growing sessions. The catnip happily soaks up some sun and looks like a mini bush. Still waiting on the cucumber seeds to show life. GROW LITTLE SEEDS GROW!!!

The first day I had my little garden, fresh in their pots!

So as I wait for my garden to yield delicious and beautiful things, I’m also awaiting an exciting patch in World of Warcraft. As I said, I’m a gamer. I play Xbox and WoW, dabbled in Rift and can get sucked into a browser-based game for hours. I found Angry Birds online the other day, two hours in my boy starts playing too. I kept playing until I reached a level I couldn’t beat >_>.

Coming up in the next patch? New places! New quests! New raids! And best of all? New legendary caster weapon!!! I have to share because I’ll be getting the first one in my guild. It’s just oh so exciting. Fantastic stats on it, turns you into a blue dragon, rewards the guild with an adorable pet… what’s not to love?

Tarecgosa Whelp

Pet awarded from the legendary courtesy of mmo-champ.com

Currently on my “to finish” list for games:

Darksiders

Lego Indiana Jones

Borderlands

Possibly coming soon to the list:

LA Noire (heard really good things about it!)

Coming up tomorrow (or whenever I post next) Enchiladas for One and a short discussion on the awesome-ness of toaster ovens.

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First Edition: Little bit of everything!

Welcome welcome to an experiment of epic proportions. Let’s break the ice with a little bit of get to know each other! My name is Val, I cook, garden, read, watch movies and play lots of video games. Some people may say I play too much, but that’s a discussion for another day. Today is all about starting something new, my own little corner of internet dedicated to everything I enjoy. Hopefully, I find some people out there who have similar likes.

Purpose! Share recipes, discuss movies and books, brag about my video gaming

How often! To start we’ll aim for twice a week

So what are we going have to start?

My boyfriend’s mother is quite the lady. Her little boy moved way far away to be with me and as a result, she sends recipes monthly to make sure he’s well fed. For Christmas she sent a lasagna pan with her signature recipe (to be shared at a later date) which is to die for. Today I’m trying out one of her super easy recipes called American Chop Suey. Noodles, beef and tomato sauce, I’m not sure how it could go wrong.

This is also a one-pot wonder which makes me do a happy dance. Who likes doing dishes? Not me.

American ChopSuey

1lb ground beef

1 medium onion chopped (yellow or sweet)

1 package pasta (shells or macaroni)

2 cans tomato soup

Salt

Pepper

Oil (vegetable or olive)

In a large pot, boil water with some salt and add in pasta to cook as directed on the package. When done, drain and leave pasta in the colander. Rinse the pot to get rid of starch and reduce heat to medium, medium-high. Return pot to stove, add in about 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté onion until soft. Add in ground beef and cook until there is no more pink. Salt and pepper the onion-beef mixture. Mix in both cans of tomato soup with about half of a can of water. Let simmer for a minute then mix pasta in and serve hot.

Turns out pretty tasty despite simple ingredients. It’s great if you have a picky eater in the house like my boy. If you want a leaner version I bet you could easily substitute ground turkey or chicken. You could also sprinkle some parmesan on there and complete the package.

I’d include a picture here but in a cat related accident my camera no longer turns on. So pictures are to be coming at a later date when funds allow a new one to be purchased!

For the final thought in today’s awesome ground breaking first blog post we turn to the movies.

GO. SEE. THOR.

Thor Movie Poster

Thor courtesy of moviephotogallery.com

It’s just fantastic. Very well adapted, has some good Norse lore and continues the line of movies marching towards The Avengers! Be sure to stay after the end credits for an interesting Stinger that makes me anxious for the next installment. Soon to join the profitable and surprisingly well done (so far) movies is Captain America. If you listen closely in the preview for it, you’ll catch that it’s Mr. Stark (Ironman’s dad) who is part of the team making Captain America. Go back and watch Ironman 2, there’s a Capt America shield he pulls out of a box. And this ends the omg comic movies done well cheer.

In case you wonder about the picture at the top of the lake, it’s my favorite place ever- a little lake in Minnesota where my great-grandparents lived.

Until next time, keep leveling your cooking.

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