Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Seriously Good Freezer Meals + Blueberry Orange Smoothie Kits Recipe

Seriously Good Freezer Meals
by Karrie Truman
Publisher: Robert Rose
ISBN: 978-0-7788-0591-5

The last couple weeks since getting home from Minnesota have been interesting! I've had a lot of time to be Suzy Homemaker. I haven't fully embraced it, but I have been working on preparing meals thanks for the Seriously Good Freezer Meals book I'm reviewing! It's been quite the interesting process getting started. So I'll tell you what I think of the book, and what it's been like starting down this road to freezer meals.

I definitely liked the first chapter of Seriously Good Freezer Meals of Getting Started chapter. I think some of it was basic information, but definitely necessary. Nothing like getting a refresher course! Some of the things I learned are that avocados (without skins) and garlic cloves are able to go in the freezer!! There's also a great breakdown of freezing dairy products, blanching times for veggies, and how long your meals will last. Each recipe offers a "Bulk Batch Guide". I think 5 batches would be great for a freezer meal exchange!

Now, it takes some time to build up meals so it'll take me a few more times to have enough meals that I will feel good about having last minute food to feed the family. The only thing I have to remember IS...take the food out to thaw the night before! The days we have sports at night are probably the ones  where we'll use these the most this fall!

Since I've never made freezer meals, I have a learning curve on prep and shopping! My goal with some of these meals is to do several batches, but a few of the recipes have expensive ingredients. Not only that, I have to get the family to remember we have these meals as well!

The first thing I made was Perfect Freezer Pancakes. We love eating them, but I never remember to make them unless we're having breakfast for dinner. I have yet to master the art of fluffy pancakes. My friends think I'm stirring too much. Darn it! For breakfast, I also made the Buttery Cinnamon French Toast Bake. I'm holding onto that one for the weekend after school starts.



One of the things I have a hard time coming up with is side dishes. I can never think of different ones to make, and this way, I don't have to! I'm looking forward to heating up the Cheesy Potatoes because a friend of mine makes a dish similar to this, and it's to DIE for! Fingers crossed this is on par with hers. The next two side dishes I'll be making several batches of are the Mashed Potatoes and Brown 'n' Serve Rolls!


I made 3 main dishes: Amazing Macaroni and Cheese, Mongolian Beef and Green Beans, and Broccoli Chicken Alfredo Bake. One thing I haven't quite gotten the hang of yet when making these kinds of meals is sealing them at the end of the process. I bought a bunch of aluminum foil pans, but when I put the plastic on top I'm not sure I'm even doing it right to get rid of the air or is it tight enough. Of course the second part of that is putting tin foil on top. Thankfully that should keep the meals good for the short term. The great piece of making these dishes is making meals I've never attempted before. Fingers crossed the Mongolian Beef turns out well!


The last meal I made was the Creamy, Cheesy Broccoli Soup. Now, this is a dish where I'll be the only one eating it. It calls to put it into a gallon freezer bag, but I used 4 quart sized bags for single-ish servings. Depending on my appetite on of the quart bags could be a couple of meals for me. And I did sample it as I was pouring them into the bags. Oh my, my, my it was good! This I'll be making a TON of batches for.


Up next I'll be trying desserts. They look pretty scrumptious, and they'd be awesome to have on hand when company comes over or just having a better choice on hand for the family! All in all, I'm really loving Seriously Good Freezer Meals and can't wait to try out more of the recipes!

Blueberry Orange Smoothie Kits (2 servings)

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, partially thawed
1/2 banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup water

1. In a small bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, vanilla, and orange juice. Pour 1 tbsp each into 8 cups of an ice cube tray. Freeze for about 2 hours, until solid.

2. Meanwhile, slice banana into 1/4" slices and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for about 2 hours, until solid.

MAKE IT NOW Place the 8 orange juice cubes, frozen blueberries, and frozen banana pieces into a blender. Add water. Blend on High until smooth. Add more water if necessary to get desired consistency. Pour into 2 classes and serve cold.

MAKE IT A FREEZER MEAL Place the 8 orange juice cubes, frozen blueberries, and frozen banana pieces in a labeled quart-size freezer bag. Seal, removing as much air as possible.

MAKE THE SMOOTHIES Add contents of freezer bag and water to blender. Blend on High until smooth. Add more water if necessary to get desired consistency. Pour into 2 glasses and serve cold.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Marvel's AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR On Blu-Ray


Ok, let's be serious for a minute. Your favorite movie of the spring...? Mine was hands down AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR! It was an adventure from the moment the first scene came onto the screen! As soon as I found out we were going to get to review the Blu-ray, I knew my family was going to be all over family movie night. We also got the added bonus of having some fun items to help make Infinity Stone sugar cookies! My hubby decided to make an ice cream sandwich out of his cookies! With the extra dough leftovers I made some rainbow cookies, too.


Avengers: Infinity War, debuting digitally on July 31, 2018 and Blu-ray™ on August 14, 2018. Experience over two hours of exclusive bonus content featuring never-before-seen details behind the scenes, a ten-year history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a filmmaker roundtable, deleted scenes and so much more!


Additionally, Marvel Studios will also release The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron on 4K UHD digitally on July 31, 2018 and physically on August 14, 2018 on the heels of  the Avengers: Infinity War in-home release. PLEASE NOTE PRODUCT IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THESE SPECIFIC 4K UHD RELEASES.



I baked up a batch of sugar cookies the colors of the Infinity Stones. Do you know about the Infinity Stones? I'm still trying to get them all straight. Let me help you in case you're unsure:



The Space Stone / The Tesseract
Color - Blue
Power - Generates wormholes for travel to distant places

The Mind Stone / Vision
Color - Yellow
Power - Able to manipulate the minds of others

The Reality Stone / The Aether
Color - Red
Power - Transforms matter

The Power Stone / The Orb
Color - Purple
Power - Able to destroy whole civilizations

The Time Stone / The Eye of Agamotto
Color - Green
Power - Able to alter and manipulate time

The Soul Stone / Unknown
Color - Orange
Power - unknown



Here's a snippet from the press release:

“Marvels’ Avengers: Infinity War” is a must-own addition to every in-home film collection and is packaged several ways so that fans get the most out of their viewing experience. Consumers who experience the ultimate showdown Digitally will join a 30-minute roundtable with Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, James Gunn, Ryan Coogler, Peyton Reed and Taika Waititi who reflect on how their movies contribute to the MCU’s larger storytelling adventure.
 
The 4K Cinematic Universe Edition’s never-before-seen bonus material grants behind-the-scenes access to MCU members and features the memorable moments when characters first meet, the rationale behind some unexpected on-screen pair-ups, and a funny Super Hero gag reel. Featurettes explore the frighteningly powerful Thanos and two action-packed attempts to prevent his collection of all six Infinity Stones: the struggle on Titan and the massive battle in Wakanda. Deleted scenes and filmmaker commentary reveal even more on-set secrets from Marvel Studios’ monumental undertaking.
 
The Multi-Screen Edition includes a Blu-ray and a Digital Copy of the film, giving viewers the flexibility to watch the film on different devices. Those with 4K Ultra HD capability may opt for a 4K Cinematic Universe Edition, which includes a 4K Ultra HD disc, a Blu-ray, and a Digital Copy.
 
And for those who wish to catch up on their MCU history, select retailers are also offering bundled packaging as well as individual Digital and Physical releases of “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”



BONUS MATERIAL (may vary by retailer):

Blu-ray & Digital: 

  • Strange Alchemy (5:08)– Share the thrill of characters from across the MCU meeting for the first time—and discover why some were teamed up together.
  • The Mad Titan (6:34) – Explore the MCU’s biggest, baddest villain, his trail of influence through the stories, and the existential threat he represents.
  • Beyond the Battle: Titan (9:36) – Dive into the climactic struggle on Thanos’ ruined world, including the epic stunts and VFX, to uncover the source of its power.
  • Beyond the Battle: Wakanda (10:58) – Go behind the scenes to find out how the filmmakers pulled off the most massive and challenging battle Marvel had ever attempted.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (10:07)
    • Happy Knows Best (1:23) – Tony and Pepper spar over the details of their upcoming wedding—until a hassled Happy Hogan pulls up with an urgent request.
    • Hunt for the Mind Stone (1:24) – On a darkened street, Wanda Maximoff and the wounded Vision attempt to hide from Thanos’ brutal allies.
    • The Guardians Get Their Groove Back (3:20) – As Peter Quill and Drax quarrel over their failed mission to Knowhere, Mantis interrupts with news.
    • A Father’s Choice (4:00) – Thanos confronts Gamora with a vision from her past—and with lying to him about the Soul Stone.
    • Gag Reel (2:05)– Watch your favorite Super Heroes make super gaffes in this lighthearted collection of on-set antics.
    • Audio Commentary (approx. 149 min.) by Anthony and Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. 
  • Digital Exclusive:
    • A Directors’ Roundtable (approx. 32 min.) – Eight amazing directors reflect on how their movies contribute to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s larger storytelling adventure.

    Be sure to get your hands on this movie either digitally (it was already available July 31st) when it comes out August 14th. Don't forget to follow Avengers on social media to keep up on all of the excitement!

    Facebook: Facebook.com/Avengers
    Twitter: Twitter.com/Avengers
    Instagram: Instagram.com/Avengers

    Friday, July 20, 2018

    Birthday Freebies

    Have you ever wondered what you could get for free on your birthday? Here are ones I checked in July 2018:


    Perkins: Slice of pie, muffin, or cookie


    Denny's: Grand Slam


    Dunkin' Donuts: Beverage


    Nothin' Bundt Cakes: Bundtlet


    Caribou Coffee: Beverage any size (14 days to redeem)


    Portillo's: Piece of cake

    Red Robin:

    Claim Jumper:

    Rainforest Cafe:

    Starbucks: Drink ON your birthday


    Jersey Mikes:

    Vera Bradley:

    Krispy Kreme:

    Famous Daves: Dessert with a paid meal

    Steak 'n Shake:

    Buffalo Wild Wings:

    DQ:

    Ihop:

    Baskin Robbins:

    Panera: Pastry within 10 days


    Do you have suggestions as to where else you can get a freebie?

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    The Masterpiece By Francine Rivers

    The Masterpiece
    by Francine Rivers
    Publisher: Tyndale
    ISBN: 978-1-4964-0790-0

    Every year when I come back to Minnesota I join my old book club for their book of the month! It's one of my favorite things to do when I come home. Spending an evening with friends like we always did once a month, what could be better? I found out they were doing Francine Rivers' book The Masterpiece and was SO excited. If you've ever read a book by Francine Rivers, you know why I was so excited. If you haven't, then you're missing out. I reached out to Tyndale House hoping I could do a review of the book, and they agreed!

    Summary:

    New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

    A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

    Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.


    My Review:

    When my friend told me once I started reading The Masterpiece I wouldn't want to put it down, I thought she might be exaggerating slightly. I couldn't have been more wrong, and she couldn't have been more right! From page one, I was hooked!

    Francine Rivers' writing draws the reader in and holds on to them until the very end. Actually this book in many respects reminded me of Bridge to Haven, which I read not too long ago. The characters have so much depth and realness. 

    Roman was easy to dislike at the start of the story. He was living a very worldly life and only concerned for himself. Then there was Grace, a broken woman trying to find a way to make ends meet and figure out if she was keeping her son or giving him up for adoption. Two people who have been hurt tend to have walls built. Grace and Roman are no exception.

    Book club was fun discussing the book. One gal thought Roman was a jerk. We all got a chuckle out of her response. Our hearts all went out to Grace. Our discussion was wonderful and insightful. The questions at the end of the book helped with our chat. Be sure to give them some thought after you read the book!

    We agreed that we like how Francine wrote chapters specific to flashbacks of Grace & Roman's individual pasts. It gave us insights to how they became the people we meet in the story. Those chapters made them relatable, and I think helps us as readers to remember that the people we meet have a story.

    Be prepared when you start this book to stay up late and to tell yourself, "Just one more chapter!"

    About the Author:
    New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers had a successful writing career in the general market for several years before becoming a born-again Christian. As her statement of faith, she wrote Redeeming Love, a retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush. Redeeming Love is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction and it continues to be one of the industry's top-selling titles year after year.

    Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes—all bestsellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the world. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for many honors, and in 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America's Hall of Fame. In 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Francine's novels have been translated into over thirty different languages, and she enjoys bestseller status in many foreign countries.
    Francine and her husband live in northern California and enjoy time spent with their grown children and grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and she desires that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.
    Visit her website at www.francinerivers.com and connect with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FrancineRivers) and Twitter (@FrancineRivers).

    Tuesday, July 3, 2018

    Precious Moments 40th Anniversary & Review

    What do you think of when you hear the company, Precious Moments? I think of how beloved their figurines are and how meaningful they are to the people who have them. The little faces of the sweet characters, whether they're from the birthday train, celebrating a wedding, or just because, they just warm the heart. I was so delighted to be able to share my memories of having them and collecting them since the early 1990s for this review.



    The year I was married to my first husband, we found a wonderful tree topper that was a Precious Moments angel. We used her for years until I passed her on to my daughter. My mom got in on the action and started doing a collection of yearly mini plates, bells, and figurines for each of my daughters. Let me just say, they have quite the collection. Then my former mother-in-law started collecting them for me and giving me a new figurine every Christmas!

    This is the Precious Moments BIG 40th Anniversary! I feel like they've been around for a lot longer. They're such collectors items that you'd think they were celebrating 100 yrs. It's wonderful being able to celebrate such a wonderful anniversary with them!


    See what I mean? Everyone knows how sweet these figurines are and they make the sweetest gift! When I had the opportunity to do a review, I wasn't sure what I wanted to review, that would be meaningful to me. At first I was going to do this adorable wedding figurine for my daughter's upcoming wedding, but since I already had a gift for her, I decided to get something for myself.


    I love my garden. It's my place of peacefulness and relaxation. I spend most of my time in the garden reflecting and talking to the Lord. Sometimes I try to solve all of the problems in my life as I pull the weeds in my garden.


    One thing lacking in my garden is anything decorative. Up until now I didn't have any statues or garden decor. If I was going to add something, I wanted it to "add" to it, not distract from it. Yea I'm a bit picky about my flower garden. HA! After searching for the perfect way to start, I found the "Faithful and Feathered Feeder", Bird Feeder.


    The bird feeder has just the right spot at the corner of the garden. Earlier this spring I had to pull out a plant that didn't make it this year. That left the corner of my garden open with just dirt. There wasn't a good transition and this filled that spot wonderfully!


    Watching birds come to a feeder is incredibly relaxing so having this sweet feeder included in my garden brings a smile to my face every time I see it. Now, the only thing I have to do is add sand so that it'll be sturdy in case some rogue squirrels try to get to the bird seed.


    We'll have to figure out a way to drain any water that might collect from rain. I was talking to the hubby about it and he has some ideas on how to do that. All I need is seed all over the ground. lol I'm looking forward to enjoying this bird feeder in the years to come!

     
    Creative Commons License
    Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.