Friday, August 31, 2012

August Foodie Penpals Reveal!


 When I first discovered the Foodie Penpal program last month, I just knew I had to try it! How fun to send $15 worth of fun foods to someone, and have someone send some to you! I signed up and couldn't wait to get the info so I could go shopping! I sent my package to Theresa at Plays in Dough and received my package from Dana in PA!

I was super excited to open my package when it came in the mail! I am a huge pretzel lover, so I loved the 3 packages of pretzels on the top of the package! They will be so yummy dipped in some almond bark!


The Nutella really caught my eye! I've been wanting to try it forever, but somehow it never ends up in my shopping cart. There quite a few Nutella recipes I have pinned, so keep an eye out for that in a future post.


OMG I am in love with the Dark Chocolate Acai Blueberries! They are so yummy! The granola is so tasty too!


Last but not least, Chocolate bars! Can't wait to try the pretzel one! I am a huge sweet and salty lover!


Foodie Penpals is so fun to participate in! I cannot wait to get my next package!! You can participate too! Click here for more info!

Mediterranean Baked Swai or Tilapia Recipe and One Year Blogiversary Taste of Home Cookbook Giveaway!



Wow, one year blogging already?? I cannot believe how fast that time flew by! I initially started this as a book review blog, but soon added recipes due to my love of cooking. Friends and family always wanted recipes I've cooked, but I never wrote them down. It was a challenge at first, measuring and writing everything down, but I soon caught the hang of it. Pictures are a whole different story. I look at some of my first pictures and want to laugh at how basic they are! It's not easy taking food pics and thanks to my sister Shannon, who is a photographer, my images have become so much better! I am so glad to have each and every one of you follow me throughout my cooking, reading and reviewing adventures and I hope you find lots of things here you love!!


I have been a huge fan of Taste of Home for many years. I always looked through their magazines as a teen when my Mom would get them in the mail, and have loved them ever since! This recipe came from the Taste of Home Cookbook! This cookbook is a huge hard cover binder filled with hundreds of recipes. I love this book and always know I can find a great recipe within it's pages! One of you lucky readers will have a chance at winning your very own copy!! You can find the rafflecopter entry form at the bottom of this post. Giveaway starts August 31, 2012 and ends September 7, 2012! Good luck!

One of the recipes I found in this book was for Mediterranean Baked Fish. Tilapia was the fish I decided to use. I cannot say enough great things about how this recipe turned out! Both my daughter and I cleared our plates! All of the flavors mesh well together and the fish turns out so flaky and juicy from the tomatoes and lemon. I made a couple minor changes from the original such as adding more garlic. I always need more garlic, haha! This is definitely a recipe I will make again! Enjoy!!


Mediterranean Baked Tilapia (print recipe)

What you need:
1 cup leeks, thinly sliced (white part only)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
12 large fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 pounds Tilapia fillets
2 roma tomatoes, sliced
10 green olives
1 medium lemon, half of it sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

In a medium skillet, saute leeks and garlic in olive oil until tender. Set aside. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Arrange basil in a single layer in the bottom of the dish, top with fish fillets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with leek mixture. Arrange tomatoes and olives over fish. Place the thinly sliced lemon on top and squeeze juice from remaining half of lemon all over the top. Sprinkle with additional pepper.

Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Now for the giveaway!


Giveaway details:
Giveaway starts August 31, 2012 and ends September 7, 2012. The winner will be announced and emailed on September 8, 2012. One lucky reader will win the New and Revised Taste of Home Binder Cookbook. Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply to my email, and if no reply is made within that time, Rafflecopter will choose another winner. This giveaway is open to United States residents only. If you have any questions, please contact me at hoteatsandcooloreads (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks for entering!

If you like this recipe, follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads Board on Pinterest here

On the blog...
One year ago: Book Review: If These Walls Could Talk by Bettye Griffin

This recipe was shared at:
Leek Blog Hop at Katherine Martinelli
Gluten Free Fridays at Vegetarian Mamma
Strut Your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters Stuff
Foodie Friday at Simple Living
Weekend Potluck at Sunflower Supper Club
Foodie Friends Friday at A Lil Country Sugar
Fantastic Thursday at Five Little Chefs
Thursdays Treasures at Recipes for my Boys
Creative Thursday at Michelle's Tasty Creations
Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesday at DJ's Sugar Shack
Recipe Linky at Newlyweds
Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain
Totally Tasty Tuesdays at Mandy's Recipe Box
All My Bloggy Friends at Love Bakes Good Cakes
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef in Training
Manic Monday at Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen
Mealtime Monday at Couponing and Cooking
The Bulletin Board at Mrs Happy Homemaker
Mix it Up Monday at Flour Me With Love
Scrumptious Sunday at Addicted to Recipes
Church Supper at Everyday Mom's Meals


 

*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.*

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Creamy Mushroom Gravy Recipe



This is one of my favorite gravy recipes! I mentioned it in my Classic Crispy Baked Chicken post a couple days ago! My Mom would make this alot when I was growing up, and it's a great comfort food for me! I've made a few changes, but it still tastes amazing! I also love this mashed potato recipe! The garlic gives it a great flavor. Enjoy!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (print recipe)

What you need:
5-6 medium- large potatoes, cut into cubes
4 cloves garlic, skins removed
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream

Directions:
Boil potatoes and garlic cloves until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain. In a large bowl, mash potatoes, garlic, butter, milk and sour cream until smooth.

Creamy Mushroom Gravy (print recipe)

What you need:
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1- 10.5 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
2 dried sage leaves, crumbled
1/4 cup chicken broth or drippings from Classic Crispy Baked Chicken
salt and pepper if desired

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, saute butter and garlic in butter until tender, about 10 minutes. Add soup, sage, broth and salt and pepper. Simmer over medium low for about 10 minutes.

This recipe was shared at:
Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesday at DJ's Sugar Shack
Recipe Linky at Newlyweds
Totally Tasty Tuesdays at Mandy's Recipe Box
All My Bloggy Friends at Love Bakes Good Cakes
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef in Training
Mealtime Monday at Couponing and Cooking
The Bulletin Board at Mrs Happy Homemaker
Mix it Up Monday at Flour Me With Love
Scrumptious Sunday at Addicted to Recipes
Church Supper at Everyday Mom's Meals
Weekend Potluck at The Better Baker
Foodie Friends Friday at A Lil Country Sugar
Fantastic Thursday at Five Little Chefs
Thursdays Treasures at Recipes for my Boys
Creative Thursday at Michelle's Tasty Creations
Tasty Thursdays at Mandatory Mooch

Monday, August 27, 2012

Classic Crispy Baked Chicken Recipe



Roasted or baked chicken is such a comfort food for me. Especially if I serve it with mashed potatoes and creamy mushroom gravy. My Mom made it regularly when I was a child, and my daughter loves it now. It's perfect for a weekend lunch or dinner and the leftovers are perfect for making Chicken, Tomato and Cucumber Pasta Salad. The garlic mashed potatoes and creamy mushroom gravy recipe will be up on Thursday will be found here!



Classic Crispy Baked Chicken Recipe (print recipe)

What you need:
Skin on Chicken Thighs or Legs
Black Pepper
Garlic Powder
Season Salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Trim excess fat from chicken thighs. Season chicken evenly with pepper, garlic powder and season salt and rub in. Bake in a glass baking dish for 1 hour.

If you like this recipe, follow the Hot Eats and Cool Reads Board on Pinterest here

This recipe was shared at:
Manic Monday at Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen
Mealtime Monday at Couponing and Cooking
The Bulletin Board at Mrs happy Homemaker
Mix it up Monday at Flour Me With Love
Scrumptious Sunday at Addicted to Recipes
Church Supper at Everyday Mom's meals
Weekend Potluck at The Better Baker
Foodie Friends Friday at A Lil Country Sugar
Fantastic Thursday at Five Little Chefs
Thursdays Treasures at Recipes for my Boys
Creative Thursday at Michelle's Tasty Creations
Tasty Thursdays at Mandatory Mooch
Recipe Round Up at Gooseberry Patch
Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain
Totally Tasty Tuesdays at Mandy's Recipe Box
All My Bloggy Friends at Love Bakes Good Cakes
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef in Training 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Raspberry Custard Recipe



 Custard is one of my favorite desserts! I always know when I find a new custard recipe, I just have to try it! I found this recipe browsing online, and when I had my sister and her boyfriend over for dinner, I knew this would be the perfect dessert to make. This recipe is so quick and easy to make and everyone will love it! Most of these ingredients can be found in my kitchen at anytime, so I know it will be a go to dessert for me. You could also try blackberries, strawberries or blueberries depending on what you have, or what's on sale. Enjoy!!

Raspberry Custard (print recipe)

What you need:
1/4 cup melted butter, plus extra for greasing the pie plate
3/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups raspberries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 inch pie plate.

Place raspberries in the bottom of the pie plate. They will rise once you add the custard.

In a blender, combine milk, eggs, sugar, flour, salt and vanilla and blend until combined, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter and blend again. Pour custard mixture over raspberries and bake for 20-25 minutes or until custard is set in the center and lightly browned on top. Once you take this out of the oven and cool, the custard will deflate. Top with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired. 

Recipe source: Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

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

Book Review: The Other Side of Goodness by Vanessa Davis Griggs with a Giveaway!!



Description from Goodreads:

How far will faith and love go when an ambitious man finds himself in the fight of his life—with a woman who knows the other side of goodness all too well…
Fifty-year-old Alabama congressman Lawrence Rudolph Simmons will do whatever it takes to get re-elected—even switch parties from Democrat to Republican. With the political tide turning, Lawrence feels it’s his best shot—along with his charisma, solid twenty-nine year marriage, and three great kids. But a buried secret from his past is about to be resurrected.…

It’s been eight years since Gabrielle Mercedes gave up her baby for adoption. But when she learns the child desperately needs a bone marrow transplant, she doesn’t hesitate to contact the congressman. Like Lawrence, Gabrielle will fight for what she wants, even if it means the truth could ruin someone else’s life and career…

My thoughts:

I received this book from a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads. I'm not typically a Christian Fiction reader, but the storyline sounded great, so I decided to enter and won! This book was such a fast read for me. I was so interested from the very beginning, I could not put it down!! Gabrielle was such an inspirational character. She had been through so much in her lifetime. When the daughter she gave up for adoption 8 years ago ends up needing a bone marrow transplant, she tries to do whatever possible to get the biological father to get tested. Lawrence, the father, is a jerk politician who is up for re-election. If this comes out, it could hurt his campaign and he doesn't want his wife and kids to find out either. 

This book tells a wonderful story and shows how people's faith in God can bring them through some tough times no matter the outcome. The ending of this book is abrupt, so I assume there will be another in the series. I highly recommend this book and author and I cannot wait to check out some of her other books. After I read this, I discovered there is a book before this one with another part of Gabrielle's story that you'd want to read first. That book is called Goodness and Mercy. Check them out!

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars! 

Now onto the giveaway!


 Giveaway starts August 25, 2012 and ends September 1, 2012. The winner will be announced and emailed on September 2, 2012. One lucky reader will win a softcover copy of The Other Side of Goodness by Vanessa Davis Griggs. Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply to my email, and if no reply is made within that time, Rafflecopter will choose another winner. This giveaway is open to United States residents only. If you have any questions, please contact me at hoteatsandcooloreads (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks for entering!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apple Blueberry Quick Bread Recipe



I have been on a huge quick bread kick lately! I just love having a piece or two for breakfast! Yummy! My Dad has a early harvest apple tree with these big, juicy, sugary apples and I just knew bread would be the perfect thing to make with them! These apples were big enough where I only needed one for this recipe, so I see a few more apple recipes in this blog's future! Enjoy!!


Apple Blueberry Quick Bread (print recipe)

What you need:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup apples, peeled and chopped (I use a vegetable peeler to peel my apples)

Topping:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x4 loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, add eggs and beat with a mixer for 30 seconds. Add oil, apple sauce, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sugars and beat until smooth.

Slowly add in flour mixture and mix on low just until combined. Fold in apples and blueberries. Pour batter into loaf pan.

Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly on top of batter.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until browned on top and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and remove from pan.

Bread recipe adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod

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

This recipe was shared at:
It's Fall Y'all at Love Bakes Good Cakes
Recipe Round Up at Gooseberry Patch
Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain
Totally Tasty Tuesdays at Mandy's Recipe Box
All My Bloggy Friends at Love Bakes Good Cakes
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef in Training
Mealtime Monday at Couponing and Cooking
Makin You Crave Monday at Mrs Happy Homemaker
Mix it up Monday at Flour Me With Love
Scrumptious Sunday at Addicted to Recipes
Church Supper at Everyday Mom's Meals
Recipe of the Week at Family Fresh Meals
Weekend Potluck at The Country Cook
Foodie Friends friday at This and That
Tasty Thursday at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
Thursdays Treasures at Recipes for my Boys
Fantastic Thursday at Five Little Chefs
Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Tasty Thursdays at Mandatory Mooch 

Monday, August 20, 2012

BLT Gazpacho Recipe



Last summer when I was visiting Detroit my sister and I stopped at a fabulous little deli called Mudgie's. It ranks at the top of my favorite restaurant list. While I was there, I tried their soup of the day which was BLT Gazpacho. Ever since then, I have been craving that flavor combo. 

This recipe is great. I love being able to use a whole bunch of garden veggies to make it, and what could be better than some bacon on top?? It's fun and tasty and so, so easy to make!! Enjoy!!

BLT Gazpacho (print recipe)

What you need:
2 cups crusty bread, cubed
1 garlic clove
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, seeded
1- 4 inch piece English cucumber, peeled and seeded
1- 1 inch piece bell pepper
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup tomato juice
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper if desired

Garnish:
crumbled bacon
lettuce, sliced in thin strips
mayo

Directions:
Soak crusty bread in cold water for 15 minutes, drain and squeeze out any extra water. Put all ingredients in a blender, except olive oil and garnish ingredients, and blend until smooth. Drizzle in olive oil, blending until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until well chilled at least 3 hours, and up to 24 hours. Garnish with bacon, lettuce and mayo when serving.

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


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Mushroom Alfredo Sauce Recipe



Some of my favorite meals are meatless. They are a huge money saver plus they are generally quicker to prepare, making them great weeknight meals. If you've been following me for awhile, you know that I am a huge pasta lover, and I love to try new pasta recipes. 

This recipe is delicious!! The addition of tomatoes, mushrooms and basil spruce up the jarred alfredo sauce, which takes it to another level. It makes it taste more like homemade. This would also be great served over ravioli or tortellini if you don't want to use regular pasta. Enjoy!!


Pasta with Tomato, Basil and Mushroom Alfredo Sauce (print recipe)

What you need:
1- 16 ounce box of pasta, cooked according to package directions
olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1- 8 ounce container white mushrooms, sliced
1- 15 ounce jar alfredo sauce
3 tablespoons white wine or chicken broth
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
shaved or shredded parmesan cheese
pepper (if desired)

Directions:
Drizzle some olive oil in a large skillet, and saute onion, garlic and mushrooms over medium heat until onion is tender. Add alfredo sauce, pour wine or broth into alfredo jar, cover, shake well, and add to the skillet. Add tomatoes, and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in basil and remove from heat. Top with parmesan cheese!!

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

Serve with:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts



Summary from Goodreads:
In 1972, windswept DeClare, Oklahoma, was consumed by the murder of a young mother, Gaylene Harjo, and the disappearance of her baby, Nicky Jack. When the child's pajama bottoms were discovered on the banks of Willow Creek, everyone feared that he, too, had been killed, although his body was never found.

Nearly thirty years later, Nicky Jack mysteriously returns to DeClare, shocking the town and stirring up long-buried memories. But what he discovers about the night he vanished is more astonishing than he or anyone could have imagine. Piece by piece, what emerges is a story of dashed hopes, desperate love, and a secret that still cries out for justice...and redemption.

My thoughts:
This book has been on my book shelf for a few years, and I really wished I would've picked it up and read it a long time ago! This book was so good and it really kept my attention right through the end. Mark aka Nicky Jack discovers he was adopted after his parents pass away and he decides to go back to the city where his birth Mom is from to meet her. He discovers his birth Mom was murdered and he disappeared the very same night. 

The details surrounding the murder and kidnapping are a mystery to everyone in town, and things start getting crazy once questions start being asked and the real truth comes out. Mark is a great main character and you can't blame him for wanting to know the truth about his Mom. I liked the crime-mystery theme and the characters are just what you'd imagine them to be in a smaller town setting. Billie Letts did a great job with this book. This the first I've read by her and I would definitely read another. 

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fresh Strawberry and Zucchini Quick Bread Recipe



One of my favorite things about summertime fruits and veggies, is making new and interesting recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand. You just never know what will be in your kitchen depending on sales, fresh finds at farmer's markets, or what came out of your garden that day. This recipe is one of those creations. I got a really great deal on strawberries and needed to get them used up, as well as having an abundance of zucchini, so what better than to make a quick bread! This one turned out so stinking good. Top each slice off with a little bit of butter for the perfect snack, dessert or breakfast! Enjoy!!


Fresh Strawberry and Zucchini Quick Bread (print recipe)

What you need:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 cup fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
1 cup packed grated zucchini

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well combined. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, beating well between each egg. Add vanilla and beat until mixed.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat, then add 1/2 of the yogurt, repeating until flour and yogurt are just combined.

Fold in strawberries and zucchini. Pour batter into loaf pan, smoothing top with a spatula. 

Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Set pan on a wire rack to cool, then run a knife along the edge and remove from pan. 

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

Recipe Source: Examiner (slightly adapted)