Hot Eats and Cool Reads: October 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review: No More Time-Outs by Thomas Slater



Description from Goodreads:

Thomas Slater’s latest novel is a non-stop ride of entertaining drama with suspenseful plot-twists and pulse-pounding action—from unholy corruption inside a church sanctuary to the insidious figures that lurk in the shadows of the dangerous city-streets. Wisdom Jones has made a deal with the Devil. Purchase price of a kidney: his life. But this Devil isn’t the malicious spirit who’s the total embodiment of evil: this one’s human, the CEO of the biggest drug operation ever established inside of Detroit city limits, and rumored to dabble in the black market for human organs. Though the tab may be staggering, no cost is too steep for the life of Wisdom’s precious mother.
Her dying wish is to see her disobedient family restored to their once proper alignment with God. She lays her hand on her only responsible son’s head and makes him swear the oath. Wisdom isn’t ready to honor a dying wish. What good would it do to restore his mother’s health if stress from her wayward family delivered her right back to death’s doorstep? The Devil gives Wisdom a week to give his mother one more present: the gift of restoring her family back to its rightful splendor.
No More Time-Outs follows Wisdom Jones while he prowls the dangerous streets in pursuit of reformation. The clock is running and there are absolutely…no more time-outs!



My thoughts:


I received this advanced readers copy awhile back from Strebor Books, but honestly didn't think much of it because of the guy holding the basketball on the front cover. I'm not much of a sports person at all. This book is all action and sports play a very small role. I couldn't have been more wrong!


After reading the back cover again, and realizing the book is set in Detroit, I knew I had to read it right away! I visited Detroit last summer for the first time and totally fell in love with the city.


This family has issues, major issues! I love that the book alternates chapters between every family member, except the mom. The book is sort of based around her illness, so she is still a major part in it. Wisdom is a great character and he really gets the brunt of all the families issues. As for the rest of the family, they are on a huge path to destruction and the action keeps you wanting to read more. I am very excited for the sequel to come out and I have no doubt it will be just as good as this one! This book is being released November 2011, so make sure to go out and get your copy!



I rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars!


Thanks to Stebor Books for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.
The author's website can be found here!


 

*In accordance with the FCC guidelines, if you make a purchase from the Amazon link above, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you for the referral.*

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Small Wonder... Remeber this 80's sitcom??

We all have those favorite TV shows we watched growing up. I love being able to buy them on dvd and re-live a little bit of my childhood. There was this one show though, and I couldn't for anything, remember what it was. The only thing I remembered, was a girl who looked like Punky Brewster (in my mind, maybe the dark hair lol),  and she had an electronic panel in her back.  I thought maybe it wasn't even a real show or something since I had such a vague memory of it, but at the same time, it seemed like I watched it alot.

So here I am, browsing 80's and 90's stuff on Pinterest a couple weeks ago, and look what I find. A pin of Vicki the robot from Small Wonder!


Needless to say, I was geeked to finally solve this mystery! I rushed to ebay and bought the first season on dvd and couldn't wait for it to arrive. Well, we've had it for a few days now and Ella is hooked. She won't stop watching it! I have to say after all these years, I still love this show. It is super cheesy just like most 80's sitcoms were! The special effects are hilariously dumb and the characters are loveable.  It's a trip seeing all the old 80's stuff... toys, appliances, clothes, hairstyles, etc! Love it!

Short description from Wikipedia:
Small Wonder is an American science fiction sitcom that aired in first-run syndication from September 7, 1985 to May 20, 1989. The show chronicles the family of a robotics engineer who, after he secretly creates a robot modeled after a real human girl, tries to pass it off as their daughter.

Here is the intro song!



And you can't forget the little redhead nosy neighbor from next door, Harriet!


What were your favorite 80's or 90's sitcoms?? Have you bought any on dvd??


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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sweet Brown Sugar Ham Steak and Crash Hot Potatoes Recipe

What can I say, I am a huge sucker for ham. Love it any way it's cooked. Today's recipes are for Sweet Ham Steak and Crash Hot Potatoes. This is the first time I've tried either of these recipes, and they both turned out great!

First let's start out with the ham. 

You need:

1 bone-in fully cooked ham steak (2 pounds)
  4 Tbsp butter, cubed
4 Tbsp brown sugar


Directions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ham steak on both sides; drain. Remove ham. In the same skillet, melt the butter; stir in brown sugar. Return ham to skillet; cook until heated through, turning often. Yield: 6-8 servings.



I rate this recipe 5 out of 5 stars! The brown sugar and butter sauce makes the ham taste amazing and cuts down on the saltiness. I also cracked fresh pepper on top! Yum! 

Now onto the potatoes. This recipe was found once again, browsing Pinterest! I love that site, it is my virtual recipe box!

You need:

12-15 baby red potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil (I use sunflower oil, tastes amazing and great health benefits as well)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper



Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. Place on a cooking sheet coated with cooking spray or drizzled with olive oil. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and with a potato masher, gently smash each potato. Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and pepper (add a bit of your favorite dry herbs if you like). 
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Eat plain or top with a little sour cream and green onions.

I rate this recipe 5 out of 5 stars as well! I love the crispy, browned flavor in the potatoes and it's a great way to mix it up from typical potato recipes.

Sources:
Sweet Ham Steak: Taste of Home Website
Crash Hot Potatoes: For The Love of Cooking

This recipe was shared at:


Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: The Jakarta Pandemic by Steven Konkoly


Description from Goodreads:

THE DEADLIEST PANDEMIC FLU IN HISTORY IS BEARING DOWN ON NEW ENGLAND, AND ALEX FLETCHER HAS A BIG PROBLEM...

HIS FAMILY IS PREPARED, BUT NOBODY ELSE IS.

AS THE FLU SPREADS AND THE WINTER INTENSIFIES...

THE FOOD TRUCKS STOP, HOSPITALS TURN AWAY THE SICK, AND CITIES START TO FALL APART. POWER PLANTS WILL START TO TRIP OFFLINE WITHIN WEEKS.

ALEX'S NEIGHBORS ARE STARTING TO GET SICK, AND THEY'RE STARTING TO GET HUNGRY. SOME OF THEM ARE GETTING ANGRY...

ALEX'S PROBLEM IS ABOUT TO EXPLODE. 

My Thoughts:
WOW!!! This book is amazing! One of the best books I've read in the genre. Alex is a great main character, and he is definitely someone you'd want on your team. The pandemic flu spreads very quickly in this book and Alex has his family fully prepared to ride it out within his own home. Not everything goes according to plan and evil comes out in full force when people are desperate. This book makes you think of all of the what if's and what would you do, given a situation like this. It is real, very real, and you will be on the edge of your seat throughout most of this book waiting to see what happens next. I highly recommend you go out and buy this book ASAP if you want to read a great pandemic thriller! $3.99 for Nook and Kindle.

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.
 
The author's website can be found here!


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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Beef, Bean, and Cheese Taquitos Recipe

A few posts back we tried Bean and Cheese Taquitos. Since I had some of the ingredients left from that batch, I decided to try a different variation. They both are fabulous and easy to make from scratch!

You need:
2 Tbsp. cilantro
20 small flour fajita tortillas
10 slices colby jack cheese
sour cream
salsa
guacamole


Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
 
Combine beef and cilantro. 

Take 1/2 piece of cheese, break in half again, and place both strips across the tortilla. Put about two tablespoons of beef filling lengthwise on top of the cheese. Spread it out into a strip and roll up the tortilla around it.  Place it seam side down on a baking sheet.  Repeat with all of the tortillas.


Lightly spray the tortillas with cooking spray and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake until the edges are golden brown (it took mine about 10 minutes).  Eat warm with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa for dipping. 

This recipe was shared at:
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Homemade Ground Beef Taco Meat Recipe

This is a recipe I came up with for homemade taco meat after trying to cut out some processed foods in our eating. It is easy and fast with lots of flavor!

Homemade Taco Meat (click here to print recipe)

You need:
1 Lb. ground beef (turkey or chicken works too!)
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red or green pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1- 15oz can black beans, rinsed

Directions:

Put all ingredients except black beans into large frying pan. Cook on medium to medium high heat until ground beef is almost cooked and then add the black beans. Use with tortillas for tacos, tortilla chips for taco salad or use as filling in taquitos.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grapefruit & Raspberry Bellini Recipe

The first bottle of Moscato D'Asti was used for Mixed Berry Bellinis. For the second bottle we decided to concoct our own version!! This recipe is lighter and more refreshing than the last and just as good!

You need:

1/4 c. sugar
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
1-20 oz jar Del Monte citrus salad, drained
1- 750 ml bottle Moscato D'Asti

Directions:

In the container of an electric blender, combine fruit and sugar; process until smooth.  Strain mixture, if desired. Pour fruit mixture into a serving pitcher; slowly add wine, stirring gently to combine. 




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Bean and Cheese Taquitos Recipe

I'm always looking for quick and easy recipes for weeknights. This is a great tasting recipe and is super quick to make! I found this recipe at Life and Kitchen blog. I did make a few changes. Since there were only a couple of us, I just used the one can of black beans, partially smashed, and cut the recipe in half. I also left out the lime since I didn't have any.

You need:

 1 can  refried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1 lime
2 cups shredded cheese (such as cheddar, Mexican blend, etc)
~20 6″ flour tortillas
cooking spray
sea salt for topping

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the refried beans, black beans, cilantro, and spices.  Then add the zest from the lime and the juice from half of the lime and stir.  Mix in the cheese.

Put about two tablespoons of filling lengthwise into a tortilla.  Spread it out into a strip and roll up the tortilla around it.  Place it seam side down on a baking sheet.  Repeat with all of the tortillas.

Lightly spray the tortillas with cooking spray and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake until the edges are golden brown (it took mine about 10 minutes).  Eat warm with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa for dipping.


Recipe #9 in the Pantry Challenge 2012

This recipe was shared at:
Recipe Round Up at Gooseberry Patch
Recipe of the Week at Family Fresh Meals
Weekend Potluck at Meet Penny


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Mixed Berry Bellinis Made with Moscato d'Asti Recipe



This is one amazing drink. I love Moscato d'Asti alone, but adding the strained berries makes it so much better! This is not only my favorite drink, but everyone who has tried it has loved it as well. You will not be disappointed! Have fun and enjoy!!

You need:

1/4 cup sugar 
1-12-ounce package frozen mixed berries, thawed
1-750 ml bottle Moscato d'Asti

Directions:
In the container of an electric blender, combine berries and sugar; process until smooth.  Strain mixture, if desired. Pour fruit mixture into a serving pitcher; slowly add wine, stirring gently to combine. 


Photos taken by:

Recipe Source: Paula Deen

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: Mile 81 by Stephen King


Description from Goodreads:

With the heart of Stand By Me and the genius horror of Christine, MILE 81 is Stephen King unleashing his imagination as he drives past one of those road signs . . .

At Mile 81 on the Maine Turnpike is a boarded up rest stop, a place where high school kids drink and get into the kind of trouble high school kids have always gotten into. It's the place where Pete Simmons goes when his older brother heads off to the gravel pit to play 'paratroopers over the side'.

Pete, armed with only the magnifying glass he got for his tenth birthday, finds a discarded bottle of vodka in the boarded up burger shack and drinks enough to pass out. That's why he doesn't notice a freshly mud-spattered station wagon (which is strange because there hadn't been any rain in New England for over a week) which veers into the Mile 81 rest area, ignoring the sign that reads 'closed, no services'.

The driver's door opens but nobody gets out . . .

My Thoughts:
This was a very short story. 43 whole pages on the Nook. It was a very good and interesting 43 pages though. Pete is started off as the main character, but really isn't because he is sleeping through a good majority of the book. It's creepy in the "Christine" type of way and I laughed my ass off at King's random thrown in swear words and phrases. I did actually like the characters even though they weren't a part of the book for long. Good ending!

I rate this 3.5 out of 5 stars


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Mushroom, Onion & Swiss Burger Recipe

I use alot of ground beef around my house! Thielen Meat's of Little Falls, MN has the most lean and best tasting burger I have ever had. It's so good, I refuse to buy it anywhere else! Every couple months they have a sale and I always stock up!

Tonight for dinner I decided to make Mushroom, Onion & Swiss Burgers, skipping the bun! I eat way too many carbs already!

What you need:
1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
1 tub sliced white mushrooms
3 slices swiss cheese
1 Tbsp butter
1 roma tomato, diced
salt, pepper and nature's seasoning

Combine ground beef, garlic, salt, pepper and nature's seasoning. Shape into 3 patties. Cook on medium heat for approx 10-12 minutes, turning periodically until cooked through. Top with cheese within the last couple minutes.

Meanwhile saute mushrooms and onions in butter.

Top hamburger patty with mushrooms, onions and tomato!




Enjoy! (I promise there is a hamburger underneath all of that lol)


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Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: Secret Obsession by Kimberla Lawson Roby


Book Trailer:


Description from Goodreads:

Paige Donahue has always lived in her sister Camille's shadow. As children, Camille had the grades, the friends, and their parents' love, while Paige was left with hand-me-downs and criticism. Now as adults, Camille lives an idyllic life with her husband, Pierce, and her two perfect children in a beautiful home, while Paige is stuck in a small condo with bills she can't afford to pay. But no more. With seeds of doubt planted in both Camille's and Pierce's minds, Paige's plan to steal her brother-in law starts to work. But when he reveals his decision to make his marriage work, a desperate Paige moves from envy to madness. What results from her dangerous scheme is something no one could have imagined.

My thoughts:
I feel like I've read this book before. It was so predictable, that it will be soon forgotten. It is a mixture of many books I've read before and nothing stood out as remarkable or different. Overall it was still a decent read, not either good or bad, just a time passer. There was a small twist at the end that I never expected so that made it a bit better. I've really liked some of her other books I've read, so I will still be checking more of them out. 

I rate this 3 out of 5 stars

The author can be found on Facebook here!
Her website can be found here!


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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ground Beef Chili with Bacon Recipe

Today was a perfect fall Sunday to make some nice, hot Chili! The recipe always changes a little bit each time I make it, depending on what I have. This is today's variation!

What you need:
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 lb pre-cooked bacon, cut into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1- 15 oz can dark red kidney beans
1- 15 oz can black beans, rinced
1- 15 oz can navy beans
1- 15 oz can chili beans
46 oz bottle tomato juice
3 Tbsp. chili powder
salt & pepper
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Add ground beef, bacon, onion, garlic, red pepper, 1 tsp cumin, cajun seasoning, salt and pepper to a large stock pot. Cook over medium high heat until ground beef is fully cooked. 


 Add diced tomatoes, all of the beans, tomato juice, chili powder and 1 tsp. cumin. Simmer for a 30-45 minutes. Top with shredded cheddar.


Enjoy!


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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review: My Husband's Girlfriend by Cydney Rax



Description from Goodreads:

A celibate husband and wife are the two most dangerous people on earth . . .
Neil and Anya Meadows are stuck in a sexless marriage. Anya suffers from a hormonal disorder that leaves her with no sex drive at all, while Neil has a voracious sexual appetite. After one unfulfilling encounter too many, they make a deal: Neil will be allowed to have a mistress, but only for oral sex and only twice a month. And he’s forbidden to fall in love with her.
Things don’t exactly work out as planned. Neil and his mistress Danielle have a child together, and all of them—Anya, Neil, Danielle, the new baby, and Neil and Anya’s daughter—decide to live together as Houston’s most complicated blended family. The tension builds as each is forced to make difficult choices, as well as to come to terms with the past—and the future.
Fast-paced, provocative, and sexy, My Husband’s Girlfriend explores issues of morality, emotional ties, family, love, and monogamy, and is an eye-opening novel about the complexity of modern love.

My Thoughts:

This book was slow and just bothered the crap out of me. How stupid was the main character Anya? She gave her husband permission to cheat, is literally insane for letting the baby mama come into their house on several occasions like a friend or family member, and then decides she wants her husband to herself again after all of that. There was really no climax to the story and it was just blah. I do give Rax credit though, the editing was near flawless but the story just didn't do it for me. I did really like one of her other books My Daughter's Boyfriend, so I might still check some of her other books out.

I rate this 2.5 out of 5 stars 


The author's website can be found here


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Paula Deen's Pumpkin Bars Recipe


Fall is one of my favorite seasons. There's nothing like a cool breeze coming through the window after a hot summer and the smells of cinnamon, pumpkin and apple. So Cozy!

My daughter Ella and I decided to bake today. I usually don't do much baking, but with all these great recipes I have waiting to try, I decided to throw this easy recipe together! This recipe is for Pumpkin Bars and can be found on The Food Network website here

My helper Ella!


The color of this batter is so beautiful!


We decorated the frosting with Halloween sprinkles! Yum! It tastes so good! Cream Cheese frosting is my favorite!




Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe

This Caprese Grilled Cheese is another great sandwich I found while browsing Pinterest! It can be found here at Closet Cooking. I used tomato basil pesto, but otherwise everything was the same. 



 The mozzarella I used was pre-sliced and it was just a bit too thick, so I would definitely make sure it's sliced thinner so it melts easier!
What's your favorite sandwich ingredients??


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Friday, October 14, 2011

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon, Avocado & Ham Recipe

So.... I'm just a little bit obsessed with grilled sandwiches right now!! I love trying different combos of ingredients. This one is AMAZING and in my opinion, who can go wrong with ham and bacon? (Turkey would be delish too!)




Grilled Cheese with Bacon, Avocado & Ham (click here to print recipe)
Yield: 1 sandwich

What you need:
2 slices of 12 grain bread
2 slices of pepper jack cheese
2 pieces of bacon, chopped
2 slices of ham
1 roma tomato, sliced
1/2 avocado, sliced
butter

Directions:
Butter the skillet or each outside piece of bread, however you prefer. Layer one slice of cheese, bacon, ham, tomato, avocado, one slice of cheese. Cook over medium- medium high heat until both sides are browned and cheese is melted.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Bacon, Apple & Avocado Recipe

This grilled cheese is absolutely amazing!! I love the interesting combo of ingredients. The only change I made was using rye bread instead sourdough and it turned out great! I cooked the bacon the day before, so it also turned out to be a fast meal!

You need:
Sourdough Bread
Sliced Avocado
Pepperjack Cheese
Cooked Bacon
Sliced Apple
Butter

Layer all ingredients on a slice of bread, put sandwich together and butter outsides. Cook on medium-medium high heat until warmed through.


Yummy, I love all the ingredients separately and together is even better!



And this is the final shot! Beautiful, tasty and perfect!
5 out of 5 stars and then some!

Check back tomorrow for a different variation of this sandwich!

This recipe was shared at:
Manic Monday at Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen

The original recipe can be found at: Jana Laurene


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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baked Parmesan-Crusted Tilapia Recipe

This is a very easy, no fail, fish recipe. The flavors are good and with prep and cook time it is also very fast!

What you need:

  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tilapia fillets (about 1 pound total)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


Preheat the oven to 400°. In a shallow dish, combine the cheese with the paprika and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and dredge in the cheese mixture. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until the fish is opaque in the thickest part, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the fish with the lemon wedges. 



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Monday, October 10, 2011

Ground Beef Stroganoff Recipe

I tried out another new recipe today, Ground Beef Stroganoff. I found this recipe on my new favorite website Pinterest! This recipe is absolutely delicious and easy too!!


The only change I made was using a small can of mushrooms (chopped) and added them to the hamburger when it was browning. I normally use fresh, but I was all out. Next time I will be using those instead! 

What you need:
1 pound ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 c. beef broth
1 c. sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Handful of mushrooms, chopped
3 Tbsp. flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 package egg noodles, cooked

Directions:
Bring a pot of water to boil and begin to cook egg noodles according to package directions.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, brown ground beef until thoroughly cooked. 
I like to leave chunks of ground beef and not break it up too small.
Put pan back on stove (setting aside the ground beef), add 2-3 tbsp butter and also the chopped onions and mushrooms (if using). Saute the onions and mushrooms, over medium heat, until onions are soft and then add garlic.
 Only cook for another 1-2 minutes so garlic doesn't burn.
Add flour to pan, stir and let it absorb butter. Now add beef broth and whisk vigorously to remove any lumps, turning the heat up to high, bringing it to a boil for 2-3 minutes until you see it thicken slightly.
Bring temperature down to medium and whisk in sour cream and 
cream of mushroom soup. Stir until mixture is thoroughly incorporated.
Add salt & pepper. Keep tasting mixture until it is seasoned the way you like. I probably use a good teaspoon and half or more of salt and pepper (and sometimes a bit of garlic powder, for good measure). If it gets too thick on you, just add a tad more beef broth.
Add ground beef back to mixture until reheated.
Serve over hot egg noodles.  
 


Enjoy!!


I rate this recipe 5 out of 5 stars!

This recipe was found at: The Country Cook


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