Monday, January 21, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan

After reading my journal the other day, and realized that this month is my eight year anniversary of being a vegetarian. Looking back, I realize I didn't have the healthiest first couple of years of vegetarianism. I think I started out strong in 2005, but then with factors such as me not knowing how to cook/living with meat eaters/and being busy, I found myself basically just eating whatever my family made minus meat. And to be honest, I wasn't a HUGE fan of veggies! (Gasp!) 

So, by 2007-2010, I know that's a ridiculously long time, I wasn't exactly the best vegetarianism. BUT, moving out to Utah and living on my own, I learned a lot. When I got married, I learned how to cook and I gave veggies a chance, and I actually love them! So, the last three years I've been trying to eat healthier, and when I find a recipe I just LOVE I can't help but share it! 

So, I've had a lot of vegetarian friends and non vegetarian friends ask about this recipe, so this is my slightly changed version of Eggplant Parmesan! 
(Super step by step, with pictures!) 

Start with a Large Eggplant.

    This is totally a large eggplant!
    Peel and cut the eggplant (eggplants have FREAKISHLY thick skin!)  into 1/3 size slices
    (***After you let the eggplant sit for just a few minutes, it will start to discolor like so. It's just oxidation, and totally normal.***)
    Once you've cut the eggplant, layer it in a strainer and salt generously.  Let it sit like this for thirty minutes.

    After the eggplant has soaked in the salt for thirty minutes,  run cold water over it and pat dry.

    Next, fill two dishes with 2 beaten eggs and the other with bread crumbs. We used progresso italian because the seasoning is delicious! (we have these random Tupperware dishes that are PERFECT for dredging and french toast haha.)
    Next, dredge the eggplant slices in the egg first, then the bread crumbs
    Fry the eggplant on medium high, for about three minutes per side until golden brown.
    BUT, be careful! I started it on medium high and it was a grease popping massacre! Start it on low, and work your way up to medium high!

    They'll look about like this. Drain them on an absorbent paper towel.
    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lay half of the eggplant in a dish sprayed lightly with cooking spray (or use shortening)

    Cover the eggplant in half of the pasta sauce (About 1.5 cups) 
    Cover the sauce layer with half of the mozzarella cheese (about 1/4 cup) Also cover it with half the Parmesan cheese (about 1/6 cup)

    Repeat this step again using the rest of the eggplant and sauce and cheese until you have two layers.

    Cook the dish for about 25-30 minutes.

    Viola! Eggplant Parmesan!

    We dished it with asparagus and it was pretty yummy! My only advice is double triple check the consistancy of the eggplant before you take it out. It should be softer and not crunchy.

    So, basically it's pretty simple but mega delicious and you'll feel like a chef afterward!

    Happy 8 years to me! :) 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking back at 2012

With just a few days left of 2012 and a serious lack of blogging on my part, I'd like to just highlight the last month or so for us.

We survived finals week! This was honestly my hardest finals week ever, but maybe that just means I'm getting closer to being done! (Even though I feel so far away!)
Jeffrey and I survived, unscathed and did super well, if I do say so myself.

We saw the lights at temple square with a couple of our best friends, Paige and Wally and their adorable adorable little girl Bell, which was too much fun. It was only my 2nd time seeing the lights, and there was snow, and it was perfect. :)

We had a great Christmas Eve with family and a great Christmas with each other. My husband spoils me WAY too much and he knows me far too well. :)

Christmas was also noteworthy this year as we spent it, and most of Christmas Eve, in bed SICK. First came Jeff, then came Taylor. And now, days later we're both puny, weak, coughing, aching messes.
BUT we're lovely messes who take care of each other super well!
It's been horrible being sick though,. I hate seeing Jeff so uncomfortable and NO medicine works for him! I had to miss 3.5 days of work, too and it's been hard.

BUT my headache is gone and I don't feel quite so death-like as of two hours ago, that's a start right?

Oh! And Caity got her mission call- Provo Utah, baby! I'm so excited for her! Utah is the best. Maybe she can save Provo, too. ;)

So, for the next few days we're going to rest up for the Spring Semester.
Have I mentioned how it feels like school is NEVER going to end?

Cause, it feels like school is never going to end.

The Venable Family.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Brigham City Temple Open House/Dedication

  One thing I do love about living in Utah, is that you're at the hub of all the fun Mormon events. Two Sunday's ago, we got to attend a Temple Dedication, and about a week before that we got to go to a Temple Open House.
Lemme Explain.

  So in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we build temples, just like King Solomon did. These are houses of the Lord in which we can enter and make very sacred covenants with God. Because we revere making covenants with God as such a solemn affair, one cannot enter the temple to make these covenants until we have been worthy members of the church and have fully prepared ourselves for at least a year. (For example, when I was baptized at 16, I had to wait one year to enter the temple to do youth ordinances, then before I got married I received my endowments in the temple, and was later sealed in the temple to my husband for time and all eternity.) I'll post some links at the bottom of the post to better explain the Temple. In short, it's the most sacred place we can go while on Earth. Jeff and I visit the temple to do certain ordinances every month, and it's def. the highlight of our month!

  BUT living in Utah gave us the opportunity to be around during the building of the Brigham City Temple in Northern Utah. This was an exciting time because after a temple is built there is a period of time where it isn't dedicated (dedicated to the Lord for sacred ordinances) and the public is invited to come and see the inside (yes, every nook and cranny) of the new Temple! It's truly a great time because it allows members and non-LDS people alike to come and enjoy the beauty and peace found within the un-dedicated temple. People can walk through sealing rooms, instruction rooms, the celestial rooms, every room you'd ever wondered about is open! Then, a few weeks later the temple is dedicated to the Lord as His house, and talks are given by general authorities, hymns are sung, and the church rejoices to have another temple of the Lord on the Earth.

  Jeff and I were very excited because neither of us had been to a temple open house or dedication! We seriously debated going since we were so busy but then Jeff decided that we'd go for a date night, and I'm so so glad we did! The Brigham City Temple is GORGEOUS! The artwork inside the temple, the various paintings, were all spanking new. I'd never seen most of them, and since Brigham City apparently has a thing with peaches, much of the decor inside the temple was peach-themed. So beautiful!

  The dedication was neat too, because President Packer, who was born in 1924 and is sadly in declining health, was the "key note speaker" I guess you could say at the dedication because he was born and raised in Brigham City, and was overjoyed that the town he'd grown up in finally had a temple. It was a beautiful ceremony with lots of tears, singing, and rejoicing. The saints around the world could feel the spirit and were pleased with the newest temple in Utah.

  It was a great experience being able to see the temple before it was dedicated and to be able to witness it's dedication. I'm glad we live so close to the hub of events like this, and I can't wait for us to visit the Brigham city temple to do some temple work!

  Here are some pictures of the open house for the Brigham City Temple, and some links about the Temples.

The Brigham City Temple Sign

Me touching the "dedication stone" It's the last stone put into the temple at the time of dedication to finish the temple, and the Prophet touched it like a week later, NBD. 

Me and my oh so cute husband at the Temple. What a beautiful day!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I've Fallen in Love with Seattle

This summer was probably the best for Jeffrey and I. Since Jeff wasn't tied to a desk all summer, we actually got to go on a couple of vacations. As much as I loved loved loved the Narrows, hands down without a doubt my favorite aspect of this summer was Seattle. We went for a week to see our great friends Clyde and Destiny, and it was nothing short of heavenly. 

I could write for days about Washington. It's without a doubt the BEST place I've been and that's including the US and Europe. It's the happiest place on Earth! SO, instead of writing for days about Seattle, I'm just going to highlight some reasons why it was epic. 

                                       Reason #1: The Art Surgeon
This is Joesph, the Art Surgeon. He does spray paintings in downtown Seattle. He is completely amazing. I'll have to post a picture when I get them off of my phone.

Reason #2: The Seattle Zoo
This is the bird room at the Zoo. It was so fun playing with them! This guy was hurt so I kept letting people take him to feed. 
This was also at the Zoo. Not only does Jeff love penguins, but some little girl threw her dad's sunglasses in the penguin pin...and the penguins kept diving for them. SO CUTE.
                                                 Reason #3: The EMP Museum
The EMP (Experience Music Project) was AMAZING. We spent probably four and a half hours wandering around listening to Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana and they had a SUPER COOL horror film exhibit all about Horror and Eli Roth. Jeff was in heaven.

Reason #4: This Entire Day.
This was THE ABSOLUTE BEST DAY. I wish we'd gotten a picture of all of us, but we went downtown with Clyde and Destiny, and Sam and Dave. We went to Pike Place Market, took a ferry to Bremerton, saw the Navy Museum, and ate LOTS of seafood. It was the best day of the entire summer.

This is the cool fountain thing in Bremerton, where Jeff played  with the little kids. :)
                                                Reason #5: The Frankfurter
One of the best things about Seattle is that they have amazing vegetarian food and lots of tofu. This place was right by pier 56 and had the BEST veggie dogs and hand squeezed lemonade of my LIFE.
                                                Reason #6: Pike Place Market 
I could go here everyday and die happy. Amazing food, luscious fruit, cheap gorgeous flowers, live music and flying fish. It is HEAVEN. 
                                                Reason #7: Starbucks
There was a Starbucks on every corner. This is the oldest Starbucks. I LOVE Starbucks.

Seattle was amazing. I have WAY more pictures and things that I loved about it.. but this will just have to suffice. 
My advice? Go to Seattle!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rewind: We hiked the NARROWS!

Okay, so I'm going to rewind a bit and blog about the Narrows, because I think it's probably the coolest thing I've ever done. And the hardest, it's def. the hardest thing I've ever done.

So, this summer Jeff and I had the chance to take three days and head down the southiest of southern Utah to a little place called Zion's National Park. Zion's is home to a lot of really fun vacation things; restaurants, historic trails, and most of all hikes. Zion's is pretty well known for two hikes. One of them is called Angel's Landing, and the other is the Narrows.

The Narrows is a 16 mile top-down hike that leads you off any beaten path down into what's apparently the "Grandfather" of slot canyons (meaning you have two canyon walls ranging about a couple hundred feet up on each side of you and the only way to go is forward or backward.) through the virgin river and into the park. This is not a hike for the inexperienced (aka ME, not sure WHY I let the hubs talk me into this!) and it's seriously a strenuous experience.

So, what you do is you pay some guy in a van fifty dollars per person to take you up to the top of the Narrows, which the only road is a ridiculously scary unpaved death trap that apparently shuttle vans lose wheels on and are sometimes forced to stop mid way and turn around, yikes! So he takes a group of you, in our case five, up to the top of the narrows and wishes you well as you begin your descent into the slot canyon. The first little bit is easy enough, just pasture and some light water trail... but around mile four or five things get tricky. The virgin river widens up and you're forced to walk in the river the majority of the time. It really makes you grateful for watershoes, walking sticks, and camelbaks. Seriously, the only way I can think to describe it is that it's like walking on slippery bowling balls. Without that walking stick we would have been toast. River hiking is a whole new brand of hiking, too. It's way more strenuous than I'd expected because you're always fighting the current, which can get really strong for a lot of the hike.

So by about nine miles in you're surrounded by stunning gorgeous canyon walls that go up as far as you can see, totally blocking the sky in some parts, and you're walking in the river. But it gets better. Most of the time you're hiking either in the middle of the river or on the small banks or shallow parts, but some lucky parts get so deep that you have NO bank on either side of you. That's right, you have to SWIM through the canyon until you hit a spot where you can walk again. The walls are so narrow that you can hold out your walking stick (which is roughly 4.5-5 feet long) and touch each side of the canyon with it. It's surreal how utterly secluded and engulfed you are in this canyon. The fun parts also come in the form of trying to figure out which way to hike around rock formations, ect and sometimes realizing the only way is to jump off of the rock you're on and swim down the river.

It's rigorous, it's tiring, it makes for a grumpy grumpy angry wife (by the time you hit mile 11 anyway) but man, is it gorgeous! At one point you're just hiking along, and BAM! You're standing on top of a huge waterfall. I mean standing on top of it, and then you have to climb through a rock and down to get to the bottom and it's breath taking. I won't lie, by mile 11 I was done. I was basically begging Jeff to leave me for the wolves (luckily he didn't!) and I'm sure by mile 12 he wanted to. He's a trooper for even putting up with me from mile 11-16. :)

And when you get to mile 16 you're so pumped you feel on top of the world. Then, after you drive home and realize every single muscle in your body is completely pulsating with pain, you're down and hour for a solid 24 hours. Let's just say I soon became addicted to Epsom salt. We started the hike at 8 am and finished at 9 pm, drove home (which is about five hours) and passed out until the next night. And when we woke up, we ate everything in sight. It took me a solid two weeks to walk normally again.

It's probably my proudest moment. I felt like when we got home everyone should just know that we made it through the narrows, which is silly of course, but I was.. is.. one proud lady! For someone who SUCKS at hiking, I hiked the narrows! Best experience of the summer, hands down.

I feel like that's legendary, so here are some pictures.

This is us at six am, totally exhausted from lack of sleep. About to hike 16 miles. Smart, right?
At the top of the Narrows, so pain free!
Things are starting to get Narrow.

Totally sideways, but it's getting very narrow.
The water is getting deeper!
Right after this picture, we had to take a swim for a bit..
Gorgeous spots like this all along the canyon.

The victory picture just before all of the pain sets in. It was victorious.

Like I said, very painful but totally worth it. :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Let's Play Catch-Up

I know, I know. I'm a horrible blogger. I won't even say I'm going to become more attentive with our little blog, because I always do and school and work consume every second of my life.

So, I'll try? That's the best I've got.

SO much has happened since April, and I'll try to play catch up, but there are a couple of things that I want to kind of focus on because a few AMAZING things happened this summer!

Jeffrey and I got all moved into our condo. We love it. The location is nice, it's close to Jeffrey's family and our friends, and it's a lot bigger than our little basement apartment in Orem. Plus, it's far far away from Provo, which is ALWAYS a plus. So, we're liking being home, to say the least.

Our ward here is a ton better, too. In Orem our ward was... a little set in their ways. We'll say that. But we're loving our ward here. It's an older ward, but honestly sometimes that's nice. And, apparently we're just meant to be here because I just got called to teach the sunbeams. Which in LDS speak means I'm babysitting three year olds for two hours expecting them to learn gospel principles. Honestly though, I'm pretty excited. We had our first lesson last week and the kids are just too cute. A handful of course, but cute. :)

What else is new? I turned 21 on Sunday. It feels weird but the same. I don't feel older, but at the same time I do. Or maybe I'm just expecting myself to. Who knows. It was a fun birthday, though. Jeffrey and I started school on Monday, which is a blast so far. We have three of our four classes together, (German, Geography and Anthropology) and then I'm taking a Socio class alone and he's taking Criminal Justice. I think it's awesome that we have classes together, and it saves us money on parking passes, gas, books and all of those fun perks. We're liking WSU though. It's a lot bigger than UVU that's for sure. I never thought parking could be worse than at UVU.. I was wrong.

So, exciting things are happening!
We're loving life and making a ton of memories, which I guess is what really matters. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finals Week on Steroids.

We live! I can't believe I've neglected our blog for this long. I think this means we have no life.. or we're busy. 

Quick update before I get back to studying and packing..

It's finals week! Which means we've made it through yet another semester, and which also means that I'm officially half way finished with my Bachelor's and my Social Work licensing. Hoorah! I'll be happy to start my career and start on my master's. 

But for now I should focus on finals. My Marriage & Family final is over, thankfully and I only have a math final on Monday and my Crisis Intervention on Thursday (which will consume MOST of my study time, if not all.) 

I had something happen this week that was totally new to me and my college career. My Philosophy professor missed three classes. After the third class we got curious and went to the department who informed us that he'd gotten sick and wouldn't be back to finish up the semester. (Thanks for the email and wasted time!) SO, they finally got a sub in and after a catastrophe with our group projects (we were given 45 minutes to put together an entire presentation, yeah.) our professor's surgery date changed so he wouldn't have time to grade the final, so he cancelled it. Best day of the semester! So, I'm ending my Philosophy class with a 105.. I'm so okay with that. 

Jeff's professors all did his this week--so he's done now, too except for one take home final next week. 

BUT why JUST have a boring final's week? We're all about adventure in the Venable house. So this Final's Week we decided to also move up north. 

Yeah, you read that right. Not only am I studying for my biggest final, but I'm packing up our entire house and moving it an hour and a half up north. So, it's currently Thursday and we've got three boxes packed. We can do this though. 

Now, I should be totally studying.. but I'm officially declaring tomorrow packing day.. Wish us luck! 

The Venables