Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I just finished reading Gone Girl tonight! Exciting Friday night, eh? But considering I usually wait eons to blog about things, you have to take my word for it….great book!!
Gone Girl is the story of married couple, Nick & Amy. Nick & Amy have been married for 5 years. They were living the high life in NYC, but downsized and moved to Missouri about a year prior. On the day of their 5th anniversary, Amy goes missing. There are signs of a struggle. What happened? Where is Amy? Who took her?
The husband did it! Or did he….????
If you want to read a summer thriller with twists and turns, then read this book. It definitely had some “OMG I didn’t see that coming” twists for me. I both found myself thinking that couldn’t happen and then in the next moment…oh man, what if that sort of thing DOES happen??
And then the ending….ah you’ll have to find out yourself.
5 out of 5 stars
My generous aunt Ann recently gave me several of her cookbooks. It was a win-win situation. She wanted less clutter in her house. I wanted more clutter. Wait, no that’s not right. Ah well, it’s hard to resist free cookbooks!
She later asked me which cookbook I dove into first.
Uh…the cookie cookbook, OF COURSE!
Banana Chocolate Chip Bars
Recipe from Nestle’s Best-Ever Cookies cookbook
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
sifted powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large 15 x 10 inch jelly-roll pan. Set pan aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set bowl aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract until creamy. Beat in the bananas and egg. Gradually beat in your flour mixture.
Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread batter into your prepared jelly-roll pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes.
Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Sprinkle cooled bars with powdered sugar.
These bars are not overly sweet. I enjoyed
three a bar for breakfast. Add a smear of peanut butter on top and a glass a milk…fast breakfast of champions.
I’d heard great things about South Congress Cafe’s brunch when I first moved to Austin.
Brunch and I are BFF’s since I moved here too.
I was prepared for a wait when I arrived. Good location around fun shops + good food + Austinites in general are BFF’s with brunch = there’s a wait to be seated.
Luckily, I had a Bloody Mary to indulge in during the wait. It was tasty, but kind of pricy! If I recall correctly, it was $8….so I only ordered one.
My first impression of the brunch menu….”Wow, um…can you order any a la carte “normal” items?” No, you can’t. Just go with it & be adventurous. The second time I went to brunch at South Congress Cafe, one of my friends from book club had this deer in headlights look on her face! Be forewarned if you are taking out of town guests here that aren’t foodies.
Both times that I have been to South Congress Cafe, my waiter was fantastic. Great service!! I really wanted to try the Carrot Cake French Toast, but didn’t want it for my whole meal. The waiter said we could order just one piece to share…like an appetizer.
Brillant & tasty idea! I’ll be all over this come fall!
For my entree, I decided on the Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict with the Chipotle Hollandaise.
My food was a bit cold and the eggs were overcooked. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the chipotle Hollandaise. I should have stuck with the regular Eggs Benedict option.
Unpictured: my 2nd time at South Congress Cafe for brunch, I had the lemon and goat cheese pancakes with blueberry compote.
What?! Lemon & goat cheese pancakes??! Yes! They were really good!!! Even my deer-in-headlights friend liked them. :)
South Congress Cafe
1600 South Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
Monday – Friday, 10 am to 10 pm
Saturday – Sunday, 9 am to 10 pm
I remember trying artichokes for the first time about 12 years ago. It was at a restaurant in a pasta dish. I immediately hated it.
Thank goodness I’m always a believer in trying things again! Except for olives…olives will always be disgusting.
This artichoke & tomato salsa is obviously very different from traditional salsa. It’s also very versatile!
I enjoyed this salsa:
–on salad, in lieu of dressing
–on top of fish
–in a veggie wrap
Artichoke & Tomato Salsa
Recipe slightly adapted from Oxygen Magazine, May 2012
2 cups marinated artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
3 Roma or plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
sea salt & pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients together into a bowl.
My Mom & Dad came to visit me in Austin a few weeks ago!
Some of the highlights:
–dinner at Jack Allen’s
–lunch at Hula Hut
–boat ride on Lady Bird Lake
–shopping at the outlet mall in San Marcos
–day trip to San Antonio to the Alamo, Riverwalk, and Market Square
–lunch at the Salt Lick
Dad & I at Jack Allen’s
Mom, Dad, & I at Hula Hut
Aunt Ann & Uncle Bob
My cousin, Kristy, and I at Threadgill’s
Aunt Jill & Austin
Family boat ride on Lady Bird Lake
Beautiful grounds at the Alamo
Breakfast at Whole Foods
I’d fallen off the smoothie wagon for awhile. It’s been all about eggs for me in the mornings. But now that summer is here, my love of the breakfast smoothie has been re-energized!
Also, I recently bought a Margaritaville blender. And to justify the cost, I knew that I would be making more than just margaritas in it. :)
Raspberry Banana Smoothie
Recipe from The Chew
1 1/2 – 2 cups raspberries
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 – 1 cup ice
Almond milk, to thin, if needed
Combine all ingredients into your blender. Blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, add some almond milk.
Makes 2 small smoothies or 1 large smoothie.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Description from Amazon:
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.”
I’m finding it hard to describe this book, which is why I referenced the Amazon description above. People seem to either love or hate this book (at my book club, most of the gals were on the hated spectrum). I was one of the in-betweeners. If you love imagery and long descriptions, you’ll love this book. I usually loathe description and crave fast-paced dialogue, which this book is not. But I was intrigued by the story!
Two older magicians (true magic, not illusions) wager that they can both train a superior magician. For the years of their youth, Celia and Marco are the chosen trainees. I really enjoyed the chapters about the young magicans and the training they had to go through. Once they are adults, they find out that the circus is the the stage of their competition.
Interesting concept, right?? Confusing concept too though! The unique premise kept me reading this book. The slow pace and reliance so heavily on imagery left it short for me.
3 out of 5 stars
**July 9 Update: Voted into Foodbuzz’s Daily Top 9.**
I’m really considering buying Taylor Swift’s new perfume, Wonderstruck.
Is it acceptable for a 33 year old to buy perfume from a 22 year old?
Sometimes I actually act my age. I made grown-up burgers! Delicious & grown-up!
Pesto Chicken Burgers
Recipe adapted from Everyday Food
1 pound ground chicken
2 large tomatoes, cut into thick slices
red onion slices, if desired
fresh mozzarella, sliced
buns or thick bread, such as focaccia (I used an Asiago bread.)
salt & pepper, to taste
pesto (I used pre-made, but you can certainly make your own.)
Heat a grill or grill-pan to medium-high.
Season ground chicken with salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties.
Lightly brush grill pan with olive oil. Cook chicken patties for 4 minutes, covered. Flip patties and top with mozzarella cheese, continuing to cook.
In the meantime, slice tomatoes and red onion. Brush tomatoes with oil oil. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and onion to the grill and cook, flipping once.
Cook until chicken burgers are opaque throughout and tomatoes are slightly charred.
Assemble burgers with bread/buns, chicken burgers, pesto, tomatoes, and onion.
Frozen strawberry margarita! I was already well into this one…
UNO Attack! Sadly, I didn’t win any rounds.
Loved this quinoa salad and….
…this Asian slaw!
I love these little poppers things so much. The only things I love more are…
…my beloved Killer Beez!!
See ya next year, fireworks!