Monday, February 28, 2011

Loving Minneapolis!

It definitely feels like home here. We went out to Ikea and got a few key items to dress up our home and make it feel ours. We love how it turned out! (Stay tuned for pics.) We're getting to know our neighbors and having people over, and it's awesome. For awhile I thought that Natalie would keep us from being able to have people over at night, but it was totally fine. We played games and when it came time to put her down, I did, and then we continued our night! We're making it a goal to have people over more often and be more outgoing as a couple. John really enjoys having spontaneous moments like that.

So, I discovered something amazing...John's video camera!! :) Yes, we've had it all along, but it was put away for a long time and I never used it to record anything from our married life, and that makes me sad. Now that I know how easy it is to record things, then put it onto your hard drive to make more space...I'm recording every cute little thing that Natalie does. It's so fun to document those milestones, and I'm excited to watch them and reminisce with her in later years.

So, for all the Jamba Juice fans out there, I successfully reinvented the Chunky Strawberry topper using homemade granola. It's amazing. John says it's "way better than Jamba Juice." :) It's a complete, healthy breakfast that is fast and easy once you have all the ingredients together. I tried to make the granola as close as possible to the kind you get at Jamba Juice because I'm IN LOVE with it. Here's the recipe:

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup honey powder (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt (or regular salt)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup water

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Whisk wet ingredients together in smaller bowl. Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix until well incorporated. Spread over a greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 300 degrees for about 50 minutes or until evenly toasted, stirring every 15-20 minutes. Let cool before storing in airtight container.

Here's Valorie's chunky strawberry topper recipe:

1/4 cup milk
3 tbsp light yogurt
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 banana
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup homemade granola
1/2 cup frozen strawberries

Add first 5 ingredients to blender, blend on low setting. Add granola and strawberries and pulse a few times until it's at a chunky consistency that you like. Top with more granola and other half of banana, sliced. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I know it's been forever...

Let's face it, I'm pretty bad at this blogging stuff. But, I am making it a goal to update my blog at least twice a month, since we're in Minneapolis and so far away from everyone. I promise I will do better...if not, you all can reprimand me as you see fit. :)

Minneapolis is great! We're getting settled in, and so far we love the area, we love our apartment, but most of all we LOVE the people! Everyone we have met so far has been nice, friendly and so willing to help, I can't help but feel at home here. It's crazy how big and busy it is here, we live just 2 miles away from the U of M campus and yet it takes about half an hour to get to campus with parking and traffic. The campus is the size of Rexburg itself! It's amazing seeing so many tall buildings, the view from the freeway at night is pretty spectacular. All in all, we're happy, and we feel like we made the right decision in coming here.

We're very excited about doing certain things while we're here, and as we experience each one I'll check it off the list.

-See an opera at the Minnesota Opera Center
-Go to a Timberwolves game (preferably vs. the Kings)
-Eat out at the legendary Al's Breakfast and 112 Eatery
-Take a ride down the Mississippi River
-Visit at least a few of the many lakes here
-Shop at the local farmer's markets for some rare, interesting food items

I'm sure I'll add more to the list as we become acquainted with the area and learn about other exciting things that we can do here. In other news, Natalie is getting so big and she is a very happy, smiley baby most of the time. She's sleeping through the night half the time, and she is starting to wake up cooing. She's beginning to try to "talk" to me, and her little giggles are the cutest! She's sitting in her bouncer, staring and making cute little noises at me as I type. I still can't figure out how to post pictures on here, so facebook will be my main place to share photos. As soon as I find our camera among the many unpacked boxes, I will do another "photo shoot" with her.

Lastly, it just wouldn't be a Hoffman blog post without some sort of recipe or cooking experience! This morning I made a very green smoothie, literally. It was delicious and incredibly healthy! Here it is:

1 1/2-2 cups fresh spinach
1 small banana
1 1/2-2 cups frozen mango cubes
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2-2/3 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2-2/3 cup juice (any tropical flavor, I used Dole 100% Pineapple Orange)

Makes 3 servings

Blend yogurt, juice, spinach and flaxseed in a blender. Add mango and banana and puree until smooth. Enjoy! I know all that spinach sounds scary in a smoothie, but you can't even taste it! It adds tons of nutrients, so don't be afraid to add a bunch. I feel very energized and ready to get things done today! Hooray!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some big changes are on its way...

Tomorrow I am cutting about 10 inches off of my hair! I'm excited, but I'm also very worried that I will eventually hate it and miss my long hair terribly. I have always been a long-haired girl, I almost see my long hair as a part of my identity, a part of my beauty! But, I am getting very tired of the high-maintenance of taking care of this hair. I usually end up just putting it in a bun and leaving it there. So, I am dedicating tomorrow to big changes and major pampering for a pregnant lady in need. I'm getting a pedicure too, something I've had done only once before in my life! I'm excited.

I tried making homemade pecan pralines last night to go with homemade vanilla ice cream I'm making today, and it was a very frustrating experience! The mixture would NOT harden around the pecans. The problem was that my candy thermometer stopped working, so I had no idea when it was hot enough (and you have only like a three degree window before you have to take it off of the heat) so I had to try it again two more times, the last time adding more sugar, before it finally caramelized and worked. Sort of. They're pretty grainy, but at least they're solid! Ugh. I'm usually a pretty great cook, especially when it comes to desserts, but candy making is another world entirely. I want to get better at it, and I know that with practice (and a new, functional candy thermometer) I will.

Well, that's all I have to say for today! Until next time...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Delicious Spinach Artichoke Dip! is the long awaited recipe! Measurements are approximate, since you can add or subtract whatever suits your tastes, and you can't really mess it up! :)

Start by putting about 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Add 2 large cloves of garlic, minced, and sautee it in the butter. Then, add about 2-2 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach (or 1 1/2-1 3/4 cups if already defrosted) and about 3/4 cup-1 cup chopped artichoke hearts from a jar, adding more if desired. I used the "Cara Mia" brand, they're delicious. Stir well while cooking for about 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Then, add about 3/4 cup cream cheese, softened, and about 1/2 cup sour cream. Feel free to add more of each if you want a more creamy consistency. Stir it together, then add about 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and salt to taste and stir it in. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes, until cream takes on an overall green color. Preheat the oven to about 375 degrees, and put dip into a small casserole dish or other glass dish with a lid. Top it with about 3/4 cup-1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or enough to cover the top) and another 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Put it in the oven, covered, for about 10 minutes. Remove lid and allow to cook in oven for another 5-10 minutes, until cheese is thoroughly melted and possibly light golden brown on top. Great for parties or other gatherings, because it stays warm for up to an hour! Serve with bread cubes, crackers, or tortilla chips. Serves about 8-10 very happy eaters. :)

Let me know how you like it, and if there were any adjustments you made that deviated a lot from the recipe. When I made it, I just threw stuff in without measuring too much, so the result may be different than when I made it the first time. I'm actually going to make it again tomorrow (at John's request), sticking to the amounts I mentioned here, and if there's any major differences, I'll make note of it. Good luck!

4/18- I made it again, using only about 1/2 cup sour cream (3/4 cup is TOO much cream and not enough veggie!) and about 1 full cup of grated mozzarella cheese to cover the entire dish. Those were the only changes I made, and it turned out great!!

First Post!

After numerous people telling me that I needed to start a blog, I finally did it! Now that John and I are brand new college graduates, we have a bit more time on our hands, though John still has his 8-5 mon-fri job that he's always had. So here I am, alone at home for the next few hours, which I have to get used to. I will be enduring many lonely days such as these this summer, unless I find enough students that want me for their accompanist! That should keep me pretty busy.

I woke up feeling pretty under the weather today. Maybe I'm finally starting to get "morning sickness" after all! Since I found out three weeks ago, I have been feeling great with no sickness at all. I'm nearing the end of month 2, so this could be just the beginning of many pregnancy symptoms. I just realized that this may be news to many of you reading this...surprise, I'm pregnant!! :) I'm going to have my first visit with the obstetrician this week. Any women in Rexburg who have (or are going to have) kids, which doctors/centers do you like? I'm trying to make up my mind about where to go and who to work with.

Well, that's about all for today, I think a glass of ice-cold juice and a good movie sound like heaven right now.