My Sister’s Keeper

Jodi Picoult is pretty high up there on the list of my favorite authors.  Despite the popularity of this particular book and that there was a movie based on it, I just finished reading My Sister’s Keeper for the first time. Picoult, yet again, does not disappoint.

The Jodi Picoult books I’ve read all deal with a court case, an ethical dilemma that stretches beyond the lawyers and jury and into the characters. In My Sister’s Keeper, Kate has leukemia and her parents, like any parents in that situation, will do anything to keep their daughter alive. Including conceiving younger daughter, Anna, who at 13 is asked to donate a kidney, after already donating stem cells, blood, and bone marrow.  Anna makes a decision to petition for medical emancipation, to give herself the right to make her own decisions about her health when her parents are torn between their two daughters.  Throw in a delinquent older brother, a lawyer with a medical problem, and a guardian who used to date the lawyer for good measure and you’ve got quite the story.

There’s a “WSP reader’s club guide” at the back that I was planning on typing about.  After starting several times, I’ve decided against it.

The questions most ask about how I would act in the situations the family faces and if they made the right decisions.  I can’t imagine how I would handle any of this if I was in this situation because it is one of those awful circumstances you just hope will never happen to those you care about.  You don’t know how you’re respond until you get there.

One of the common themes throughout the book is that there is no right answer.  Do you let the younger sister make a decision for herself and her body even if her answer costs her older sister her life? Do you force the younger sister to donate something for the greater good of her family even if it psychologically harms her? There’s no right answer for this family, in this and numerous of the other problems they face.  They make the decisions they think is best and that’s really all you can do.

The Hunger Games

I first read The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins just before the first movie came out in 2012.  I started reading The Hunger Games Saturday evening and in less than 24 hours finished the three books.  Afterwards I felt exhausted, hyper, shaky; I felt like a powerful drug was working it’s way out of my system.

Last week, I reread the three before the Catching Fire movie came out, which started playing in United States theaters on Friday, November 22.

I could talk at length about these books and the movie adaptations but since it’s been a few days since I read them, I don’t have anything right in foreground to discuss.

But something about this reread has stuck with me.  Having gone directly from Fifty Shades of Grey to The Hunger Games, I was really struck by the differences between Ana Steele and Katniss Everdeen.  As I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, one of the most annoying things about Ana is her complete dependence on Christian for well… everything.  Katniss though- Katniss is such a BAMF.  Yeah she’s got the two guys who love her but she says *repeatedly* that she can’t think about that now.  Katniss has got bigger fish to fry than daydreaming about who to marry and how to make him happy.   When Ana ends things with Christian, she gets severely depressed and stops eating.  Katniss endures through far more traumatic experiences and while she has moments of what I’d consider severe PTSD (and really, who could blame her?), she survives.

I loved Katniss as a character from my first read through but giving the timing of this, her strength was really that must clearer in comparison.

Chicken Tortilla Bake

When wondering around Pinterest and the like, I try really hard to only save things I can in some way replicate.  What good is the picture of someone’s dinner if there’s no instructions on how to make it myself?

This recipe came from one that fell through the cracks.  The description explains that it’s a 5 item recipe using only chicken, tortilla, rotel, cream of chicken soup and cheese.  The link gives me a recipe that doesn’t really match the description. Same concept of dinner but loads more ingredients and such.  So here’s my attempt just using the 5 items listed and trying to make the best of it.

Chicken Tortilla Bake

Ingredients

4 Tortillas – I used Mission Carb Balance Soft Taco flour tortillas, 8 ct to a package so I used half.
1 Can Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
2 Cups “Fiesta Blend” cheese – This is a mix of Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla, and Asadero cheeses but I’m sure any cheese will work.
1 lb of Chicken
Bonus Ingredient: Few tablespoons of Sour Cream

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350.
Cut the Chicken and Tortillas into bite sized pieces. Layer in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
Pour the Rotel Tomatoes and Chiles and the Soup into the dish.
Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Serve with Sour Cream on top (if desired).

Pre-Oven, it didn’t last long enough once cooked to have a photo shoot.

Notes

The amount of cheese is approximate.  I had about 1/2 of an open cheese blend in the refrigerator and used the rest of that.  It probably could’ve used just a bit more.
That’s really my only comment, I’m really please with how it came out.
Boyfriend specifically requested this and was pleased with the results so hazzah!

Meatball Biscuit Sandwiches

It’s essentially just grands, cheese, and meatballs.  What could possibly go wrong?

Meatball Biscuit Sandwiches

The original post that started this can be found here.  I didn’t end up following most of it so not bothering to copy it here.

Ingredients

2 cans Pillsbury golden layers biscuits
10 frozen fully cooked Italian style meatballs – thawed
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese 
Italian Seasoning 
Garlic Powder
Marinara Sauce

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.  Take 1 biscuit, add a meatball on top along with some mozzarella cheese.  Put another biscuit on top of the sandwich and seal the sides.  Repeat for remaining meatballs and biscuits.  Arrange in a round cake pan.  Sprinkle the biscuits with some Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.

Notes

So. Definitely misread the instructions and not sure how that happened so badly.  The original post talks about 1/2 a meatball to 1/2 of a biscuit (using only 1 can instead of by 2).  Whoops.
I used mozzarella cheese rather than the suggested string cheese because I just can’t stand string cheese.  Well after trying to use shredded mozzarella, I can see the appeal in string cheese.  I had trouble keeping my shredded in the biscuit long enough to seal it.  Maybe I’ll try getting a block of mozzarella next time so I can just cut off a bit to be more solid than the shredded.  Definitely need to try something because this time did not give as much cheese as I would like.

I don’t think I enjoyed the garlic. I love garlic and garlic bread and all that but it wasn’t working for me with everything else.  I liked the parm and seasoning though.

We just had the sandwiches, no pasta or such alongside.  I think I had 4 while Boyfriend had 6 and was real full.

Overall pretty good though and worth another try.

Fifty Shades of People who Murmur Too Much

I learned today that my nook can find certain words or phrases. Never had need to use that before so this was a recent discovery.  And with the recent Fifty Shades post, I just had to see:

In Fifty Shades of Grey, there are 199 times when someone murmurs.
Fifty Shades Darker has 278.
Fifty Shades Freed says it 293.

This gives us a three book total of 770 times where someone is murmuring.  Seven. hundred. and. seventy. times.

This is literally ridiculous.

E. L. James has a net worth of $60 million.  That’s nearly $78,000 for every instance of murmuring.

I might be sick.

Italian Chicken Bake

The pin last nights dinner was inspired from is the reason why I copy and paste ingredients and directions to the blog whenever I make something. I don’t rely on a link working.  The pin this came from was repinned over and over, enough that the link doesn’t go anywhere.

Based on the description, I think I did a decent enough job of recreating it but either way… here we go.

Italian Chicken Bake

Ingredients

1.5 lbs of Chicken
1 Can of Green Beans (or other vegetable would likely be a fine substitute)
3 Eastern Potatoes (I used 3 Eastern Potatoes)
1 Stick of Butter
1 envelope of salad dressing mix (I used Kraft Thick and Creamy Italian Anything Mix)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350.
I had 3 larger full sized chicken breasts that I slit in half (so 6 pieces of chicken) that I lined along the bottom of my pan.
Open the green beans and line along one side of the pan.
Cut the potatoes into smaller chunks and line along the other side. (I went with 3 potatoes, 1 for each full sized chicken breast)
Melt the butter and pour into the pan.
Sprinkle the Italian mix on top of everything.  I stirred a bit to try and coat everything but I don’t know how necessary/helpful that was.
Bake for an hour.

Notes:

I may have gone overboard with the potatoes.  Seemed like a lot as we were eating.  And the larger pieces weren’t quite cooked all the way through so either precook them a smidge or cut to smaller pieces next time.
The prep was quick so most of the wait is just baking so it’s pretty easy.
Boyfriend really enjoyed it though – downing 2 larger plates worth faster even than usual.  He said it was definitely worth repeating.
Yum.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you this post about Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta.  While I thought it was a win, Boyfriend enjoyed it but was under the impression it was more of a casserole than just pasta and sauce.  As a result, I took to twitter and found this recipe to try.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

The link Pinterest connected to can be found here.

Ingredients

1 lb. bacon, fried and crumbled (The blog I found it from used bacon bits)
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken 
2 tablespoons of ranch seasoning
1 lb. bow tie pasta
2 jars of Alfredo sauce
1/3 cup of evaporated milk or regular milk
4 cups shredded Italian cheese blend

Directions

Cut chicken into cubes. Mix in ranch mix, evaporated milk and half a jar of alfredo sauce. 
Cook pasta al dente. Drain and return to pan. 
Pour half of a jar of Alfredo sauce into bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Spread evenly. 
Begin layering casserole starting with half of noodles, then half the chicken mix, half of the second jar of Alfredo sauce, half the bacon, and half the cheese. 
Repeat layers with remaining ingredients.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Notes

This was a fairly last minute idea.  I had most of the ingredients on hand but not quite the same amounts as what was called for.  I used a bit less than 1.5 lbs of chicken, 6 slices of bacon, 1 jar of Alfredo (I actually had 2 I could’ve used but didn’t, mainly because it looked like 1 jar was plenty and when it was all said and done – 1 jar tasted like plenty), and 2 cups of cheese (I had 1 cup of cheddar from my previous Chicken Bacon Ranch adventure and used 1 cup of mozzarella).
Even with the lesser amount of ingredients, 30 minutes wasn’t a long enough bake time.  The chicken was not cooked all the way through when I took it out.
All things considered, it tasted pretty good.  Boyfriend liked this better than the first chicken bacon ranch pasta.  I think I disagree. I’m not sure if it was the Classico Alfredo I used or what but something in the creamy sauce wasn’t working for me personally. It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t like it as much.
It worked out to feeding both of us Sunday night – two larger portions for him, 2 smaller for me.  Also gave a lunch portion for me and a slightly larger lunch portion for him.
I think next time, I’m going to try to take the previous pasta recipe and add more cheese and bake it like a casserole to kinda give the best of both.  We’ll see how that works out.
Here, have a picture:
I forgot to take a picture Sunday night but it was as tasty as leftovers Monday.