Hot Eats and Cool Reads: March 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Product Review and Recipe! Pan Fried Swai with the House Fish Seasoning From The Mystic Blue Spice Company

I am so glad I decided a few months back to make a Facebook page for my blog. I have discovered so many new people, companies and blogs to interact and network with. It has been awesome! When I saw that The Mystic Blue Spice Company was running a special on their House Fish Seasoning, I knew I had to buy some and give it a try!

This recipe is my second time using it, and I really love the flavors. It's so unique and fresh tasting. The main spices used in this seasoning are lemon pepper, dill, tarragon and onion. There are some other various spices as well. I really like this product and will be ordering some other spices and sea salts in the future! They would make great gifts too! I also love supporting and buying from smaller companies. You can purchase through their website here and visit their Facebook page here!

Pan Fried Swai

What you need:
3-4 frozen Swai Fillets, thawed
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
The Mystic Blue House Fish Seasoning
salt and pepper

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Season fish with fish seasoning, salt and pepper. When the skillet is hot, add the fish and fry for about 4 minutes on each side (depending on thickness of the fillet) or until fish is cooked through.

Print Recipe


Friday, March 30, 2012

Fresh Peach and Pineapple Salsa Recipe

One thing I love about summer is fresh, garden tomatoes! This post is an "I wish it were summer" kind of post. I am craving some great, garden fresh salsa, but since it is March in Minnesota, I have to settle with store bought tomatoes for now. I really love how versatile salsa is. You can pretty much add any ingredients you have, and it works. I just love the sweetness the peaches and pineapple adds to this, but you can leave them out if the taste isn't for you. If you like more heat, add jalapeno!

What you need:
tomatoes, diced
garlic, minced
pineapple, diced
red onion, finely diced
peaches, diced
anaheim pepper, diced
canned black beans, rinsed and drained
red or green pepper, diced
cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

InstaFriday 3/30/12

This is me. I'm not usually so serious in photos, but it's a great reflection of my mood at the time lol.

 This is my best friend Stacy and I. She is amazing! We were getting ready for a fun night out!

 Cute feet... new shoes and a pedicure :)

My pride and joy... Ella! She loved her face painting!

Last but not least, Ella's photo for the week. Her puppy, cookie!

life rearranged

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Homemade Pan Pizza Crust Recipe

This is my first ever attempt at making a homemade pizza crust! Pan pizza from Pizza Hut is my favorite, so I thought I'd give this recipe a try! It turned out great!! Since we made this on a weeknight, we didn't eat until almost 9pm, but it was so worth it! Make sure you have alot of time, as there are many steps to making this! The toppings we used were bacon, onions, mushrooms, green olives, and tomatoes. I can't wait to make this again and try it with Canadian bacon and pineapple!

What you need:

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
3 1/3 c. all purpose flour
1 tbsp italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and brown sugar in the water and let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in the salt, italian seasoning, garlic, onion powder, parmesan, and the oil into the yeast and water mixture. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour. 

Turn the dough out on a clean and well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. 

Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until doubled, which usually takes about an hour. Punch down the dough and form into a tight ball. Let the dough relax for a minute before rolling out. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the dough onto an oiled 17x12x1 (large) cookie sheet. Let the dough rise again for 15 to 20 minutes. Top with your favorite sauce and toppings. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until cheese and crust are golden brown. Enjoy!!

Print this recipe

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book Review: That White Girl: A Novel by J. Love

Description from Goodreads:
What happens when a white girl flirts with the color lines and crosses the border into gang territory, where the bullets are in part real and the rules cannot be broken? JLove tells this incredible story inspired by her own remarkable life.
Amber, a fearless white girl, has a passion for rap lyrics and an addiction to graffiti, but her journey begins when she becomes immersed in the power and grind of gang life after holding a gun to an innocent man's head during a robbery.
That White Girl is a sharp and candid coming-of-age story, with hip-hop as its backdrop, that explores a young woman's struggles and triumphs as she crosses boundaries, discovers her own limits, and finds a new way to express herself in a world divided into black and white.

My Thoughts:
This book started off slow, but after getting through 1/3 of the book, it finally started to pick up. This isn't your typical "urban fiction" as the main character is white. Amber is naive and decides she wants to runs the streets and joins the crips gang. The book follows her through high school, college and then a few years after college. She gets involved in drinking, drugs, graffiti, robbery and a few other crimes through high school. She finally starts to straighten up her life in college, but encounters many other obstacles that affect her life. She eventually finds herself and things fall into place. There were parts of this book that were very interesting, and some parts fell short but overall it was a good read. 

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mom's Tuna Pasta Salad Recipe

I'm going down memory lane this week. A few days ago, I posted the Stovetop Mac and Cheese my Mom used to make and today's post is her Tuna Salad! This is again, one of my favorites and I just cannot believe I haven't blogged it yet! This is super simple and most of these ingredients are found in my pantry at all times, so it's easy to make when you have nothing else in mind! If you do make it ahead of time, you may have to add more Miracle Whip when you are ready to serve as the noodles absorb some of the dressing. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

What you need:
8 oz small pasta (I used rings)
1/2 c. onion, diced
1- 15 oz can sweet peas, rinsed and drained
1- 5 oz can of tuna, drained
2 c. Miracle Whip
salt and pepper


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Swiss, Chicken and Spinach Muffins Recipe

I had quite a bit of Spinach leftover from the Pasta Fresca recipe I posted last week, so I decided to whip up these tasty muffins for dinner earlier this week. Wow, they turned out so good! The combination of ingredients were amazing and you could serve this as dinner or also as an appetizer! It would be so easy to change up the ingredients as well according to what you have on hand. I just love using a tube of biscuits for everything lately! Check out my Mini Garlic Monkey Bread or Farmhouse BBQ muffins for some other great biscuit ideas! Enjoy!!

What you need:
2 c. cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
3 c. raw baby spinach
1 1/2 c. fresh white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. shredded swiss cheese, plus more for topping
1- 7.5 oz. tube of biscuits
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate biscuits and flatten each one into a 5 inch circle. Place one biscuit in each muffin cup in the muffin pan. (you will have 10 total, not 12)

In a medium skillet, saute spinach, mushrooms, seasoned with salt and pepper, in some olive oil until spinach starts to wilt. Add chicken and saute for a couple more minutes. remove from heat and mix in the swiss cheese. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the chicken and spinach mixture into each biscuit and top with a sprinkle more of the swiss. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Print Recipe

This recipe was shared at:
Recipe Round Up at Gooseberry Patch
Recipe of the week at Family Fresh Meals
Fabulous Friday at My Crowded Kitchen
Weekend Potluck at The Country Cook
Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Show me What you Got at Our Delightful Home
Recipe Linky at Newlyweds
Look What I Made at A Thrifty Mom
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef in Training
Scrumptious Sunday Link Party at Addicted to Recipes
Favorite Things Friday at Gabriel's Good Tidings
Makin You Crave Monday at Mrs Happy Homemaker
Mix it up Monday at Flour Me With Love
Church Supper at Everyday Mom's Meals

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stovetop Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

This recipe is another childhood favorite of mine. Boxed macaroni and cheese was something we never had in the pantry at our house. Instead, my Mom always made what we called "cheese spaghetti". I don't make this often, but when I do, it brings me right back to my childhood. I still love it as much now as I did then! It's just as quick as the stuff in the box and the flavor is so much better! Enjoy!

Stovetop Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese (Print Recipe)

What you need:
3 c. elbow noodles
10 oz Velveeta cheese, cut into small cubes
2 c. milk
salt and pepper

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, start melting Velveeta in the milk over medium heat, stirring often. Add cooked noodles, salt and pepper and continue cooking until heated through and cheese is completely melted. Remove from heat and serve. Sauce will be thin, but it thickens up fast once it starts cooling down.  

If you liked this recipe, follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads board on Pinterest here!

This recipe may be shared at these fabulous parties!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Darling Nikki by E.V. Adams

Description from Goodreads:
A vengeful seductress lures her ex to his murder during a staged romantic encounter, but does not realize that her jealous husband is on their trail. Nikki Johnson should be content with her marriage to millionaire real estate tycoon Duncan Johnson. But Duncan has always found it hard to trust his sexy wife, Nikki, since she abandoned her first husband to be with him. And he is right to be suspicious, uncovering an affair going on between Nikki and her ex-husband, Chance Brown.
When her son Rayshad’s girlfriend becomes pregnant and her mother reappears after a twenty-year absence, Nikki’s life is turned upside down. Things get even worse when Rayshad reveals that Chance molested him for years — right under Nikki’s nose.
Chance, a successful attorney, is just as skeptical when his once spiteful ex-wife comes back into the picture remarried claiming she’s still in love with him. He is right to be wary when Nikki pulls a gun on him. But can she get away with the perfect murder with Duncan hot on her trail?
With a mother out for revenge and a dangerous love triangle, Darling Nikki is a cunningly crafted thriller sure to keep readers guessing until the very end.

My thoughts:
Darling Nikki was an interesting and fast read. I finished it within a few hours which is rare for me these days. The story was well written and the ending was a good one. The chain of events towards the end was crazy and I had to keep reading to see what happened next! Rayshad was bogus for not revealing the real truth and his character irritated me somewhat. He seemed sneaky and sheisty right from the start. This book is a definite page turner and you will not be disappointed. I received this book from the publisher, Strebor Books, to read and review. It did not influence my opinion in any way. 

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rice and Vegetable Salad Recipe

We have been having the most unusual weather here in Minnesota. It's been in the 80's for the last couple days and usually this time of the year it's in the 30's! This is the perfect weather for having a barbeque!! We got invited over to a friends house for one, so I needed to find a recipe for a salad with the ingredients I had on hand. This Rice and Vegetable salad was super easy and so flavorful! I just loved scooping it up with tortilla chips and some guacamole! It has some great flavors! Even better, it has a lime juice and olive oil sauce, so it won't spoil fast in the heat like mayo based salads do! Hope you enjoy!!

Rice and Vegetable Salad

What you need:
1/2 c. basmati rice, cooked and cooled
1- 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
3/4 c. frozen, fresh (thawed) or canned corn (rinsed)
3/4 c. tomatoes, chopped
3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
2 tbsp red onion, finely chopped 
1/4 c. lime juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine beans, carrots, corn, tomatoes, parsley, onion and cooled rice. 

In a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Drizzle over rice and veggie mixture and stir gently to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to serving. 

Print Recipe

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review: African Americans in Minnesota by David Vassar Taylor

Description from Goodreads:
African Americans have had a profound influence on the history and culture of Minnesota from its earliest days to the present. Author David V. Taylor chronicles this rich story, using first-person accounts, newspaper articles, and a careful analysis of census records. During the territorial and early statehood periods, blacks developed communities in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth, as well as rural areas, and established churches, businesses, and social organizations. Taylor recounts the triumphs and struggles of African Americans over the last two hundred years in a clear and concise narrative.

My thoughts:
This book was average in my opinion. I thought it would have more personal stories, but it was mostly alot of facts, pictures and newspaper articles. I really liked learning some of the history of African Americans in the northern part of the Unites States, because I've already read so much about the south. Overall, it was interesting and informative, and at 100 pages, not too long. I was able to get it from my local library, so I might check out some of the other books in the collection. 

I rate this 3 out of 5 stars


Farmhouse BBQ Muffins Recipe

Classic comfort food and easy enough for weeknights! Serve with a veggie for a complete meal!

Classic comfort food and easy enough for weeknight meals! Serve with a veggie for a complete meal! Farmhouse BBQ Muffins from Hot Eats and Cool Reads

This recipe is pretty much cheesy sloppy joe's baked in a cup! What's not to love about that? The kids love it, the adults love it too! It's a winner all around! We love making them on busy school nights, and if you precook the ground turkey mixture the night before, it's extra fast to whip it up when it's time for dinner!

Farmhouse BBQ Muffins

What you need:
1- 7.5 oz tube of biscuits
3/4 pound ground turkey (chicken or beef works too)
1/2 c. ketchup
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 c. shredded cheddar
black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Brown the ground turkey until no longer pink. Add ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, chili powder and black pepper. Mix to combine, remove from heat.

Meanwhile, separate biscuits and flatten each one into a five inch circle. Press one biscuit into the muffin cups in a muffin pan, 10 total. Scoop 1/4 c. of turkey mixture onto each biscuit and top with shredded cheddar. 

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

If you liked this recipe, please follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads board on Pinterest here

Classic comfort food and easy enough for weeknight meals! Serve with a veggie for a complete meal! Farmhouse BBQ Muffins from Hot Eats and Cool Reads

This recipe is shared at: Love Bakes Good Cakes, The Better Baker,

Buttery Garlic Bread Recipe

Who doesn't love garlic bread?? It is one of my favorite things and we make different variations of it quite often! I was cooking Pasta Fresca the other night so I had my friend, Dena, make the garlic bread. The way she prepared it was just too good. It is very buttery and the chunks of garlic and parsley were just perfect. It went so well with the pasta! Enjoy!!

What you need:
6 slices of french bread (I used the pre-sliced garlic parmesan bread from Walmart)
3 tbsp butter,softened
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange 6 slices of bread on a cookie sheet. Mix the garlic and parsley with the softened butter and spread evenly on each slice of bread. Bake for about 7 minutes, or until the bottom of the bread is browned. 

This recipe was shared at:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Copycat Noodles and Company Pasta Fresca Recipe

My daughter and I love Noodles and Company. Pasta Fresca is my absolute favorite thing to get there! This dish turned out amazing! The flavor was almost spot on and it got better with every bite. I'm not even sure I will ever have to go to Noodles and Company again. I did not add meat, but grilled chicken or shrimp would be a great addition!

I am so glad I came across this recipe and I hope you love it as much as we did!

Copycat Pasta Fresca (click here to print recipe)

What you need:

Sauce mixture:
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. white wine
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Saute ingredients:
12 oz. penne pasta, cooked al dente, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. red onion, thickly sliced
6 Kumato tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges (could also use campari or roma)
2 oz. spinach, torn into smaller pieces
shredded parmesan

Parmesan Crusted Chicken, optional

In a small bowl, mix together sauce mixture ingredients and set aside. 

In a large skillet, saute garlic in olive oil for a couple minutes and then add the red onion and continue to saute for a few more minutes. Add the pasta, and your meat of choice, if you decide to add, and saute for about another 5 minutes until the pasta starts to lightly brown.

Add the spinach, tomatoes, sauce mixture and salt and pepper as needed, sauteing for up to 5 minutes or until spinach starts to wilt. 

Remove from heat, and sprinkle with shredded parmesan!

This recipe was shared at these blogs: This Gal Cooks, Flour Me with LoveMemories by the MileInside BruCrew LifeKathe with an EFeeding BigLove Bakes Good Cakes, A Dash of SanityThe Best Blog RecipesThe Country Cook

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Restaurant Review: Liquid Assets Sartell, Minnesota

Liquid Assets is one of those gems in the St Cloud area! I have been there before, about a year ago, for breakfast, but I've been wanting to go back ever since to try something else!

They have a nice variety of sandwiches, paninis, soups and of course coffee! When I first walked in, I immediately noticed the awesome decor. It makes it so comforting! They have a good selection of tables, couches and a separate room you can reserve for small groups. 

On this visit I decided to order the Reuben Panini which comes with chips and a pickle. It was delicious! I am on a huge Reuben kick lately, so it definitely cured my craving! There is just the right amount of corned beef, swiss, and sauerkraut. It was juicy and crispy, just like I expected it to be. The bread was delicious!

For my daughter, we got the mini corn dog kids meal which came with chips, pickle and fruit snacks. This was an exceptional value for $2.50. She was more than satisfied with the amount of food she got and where do you find a regular priced meal that cheap for kids?? 

 After the meal we also decided to get some ice cream which was also a great value.
Their coffee is tasty as well! I know we will be coming back soon and often. The service was fast, the staff was very friendly and we had an overall great experience!

You can find Liquid Assets website here and their Facebook Page here! If you live in the area, please check them out!

Liquid Assets
1019 2nd St S
Sartell, MN 56377

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hashbrown and Egg Breakfast Bake Recipe

Breakfast is amazing! I love to sleep in, so I rarely make breakfast unless we have it for dinner! I did manage to make this last Sunday even with the time change and it was before noon! (I surprised myself!) 

This egg bake is oh, so, good! The eggs turn out nice and fluffy and I really like the combo of veggies. It's so simple but has such awesome flavor. It also feeds alot of people, so if there's just a few of you, try cutting the recipe in half. This is one dish you could make every weekend and everyone would be happy!

What you need:
1 pound frozen shredded hashbrowns
8 cooked sausage links, cut into small pieces (ham, bacon or chorizo would work too)
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1/2 c. green pepper, chopped
1 c. mushrooms, sliced
10 eggs
1 c. milk
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish and evenly spread hashbrowns on the bottom. Next, do the same with the sausage, onion, green peppers, mushrooms and 1 cup of the cheese. 

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over top of the other ingredients and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over the top. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Print Recipe


This recipe was shared at:
Breakfast Ideas Monday at Yummy Inspiration
Strut You Stuff Saturday at Six Sister's Stuff
Fabulous Friday at My Crowded Kitchen
Weekend Potluck at The Country Cook
Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Recipe Linky at Newlyweds