Hot Eats and Cool Reads: 2011

Dec 29, 2011

Book Review: From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender

Description from Goodreads:
Alexis is the last girl you'd expect to sell her soul for beauty and popularity. After all, she already has everything she needs--an adorable boyfriend, the perfect best friend, and a family that finally seems to be healing after her sister Kasey's unfortunate possession by an evil spirit.
But then Kasey tells Alexis about the mysterious new club she has joined, and the oath she has taken to someone named Aralt. Worried that Kasey's gotten in over her head again, Alexis and her best friend Megan decide to investigate by joining the Sunshine Club, too. At first, their connection with Aralt seems harmless. Alexis tries a new -- normal-- look, and finds herself reveling in her elegance and success.
Still, despite the Sunshine Club's outward perfection, the group is crumbling from within, and soon Alexis finds herself battling her own personal demons. She can hardly even remember why she joined in the first place. Surely it wasn't to destroy Aralt...why would she hurt someone who has given her so much, and asked for so little in return?

Book Trailer:

My Thoughts:
After reading the first book in this series, Bad Girls Don't Die, I knew I would have to continue on, once this one was released. This series is mainly about 2 sisters, who have issues with being possessed. These are definitely books that I would've read in my teenage years. I love the whole ghost/ possession theme. 

Alexis is a great main character and I loved the idea of the sunshine club and Aralt and how certain characters and situations were all tied in together at the end. The author did a really great job with this one. Some series get worse as more books are released, but this was definitely better than the first one. I will be waiting for the next book As Dead As It Gets, which should be released in May 2012. 

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars

Dec 28, 2011

Super Saucy Lasagna Recipe

If you've been looking through my recipes, or following me for awhile, then you know, pasta is my favorite! I've already shared a few of my pasta recipes such as: Capellini al Fresco, Stuffed Shells and Italian Spaghetti and this is another favorite to add to that list. I love my lasagna saucy, and by cooking the noodles ahead of baking, it helps keeps the noodles from absorbing all the sauce. This recipe is very similar to the one my Mom made growing up, so it is also a great comfort food for me. Hope you enjoy!

What you need:
12 lasagna noodles
3/4 pound hamburger
1/4 pound italian sausage
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1- 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
1/3 c. fresh basil, chopped
2- 15 oz can tomato sauce
1- 11.5 oz can tomato juice
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar
4 c. mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large saute pan, brown ground beef, italian sausage, onion, garlic, italian seasoning, salt and pepper. In the last few minutes of browning add mushrooms and fresh basil. Then add tomato sauce, juice and sugar. Simmer over medium low heat. Meanwhile, in a large stock, pot boil noodles for about 10 minutes or until almost cooked. 

Cover the bottom of a 9x13 pan with a small amount of sauce. Layer 3 noodles on the bottom first, more sauce and cheese on top of that. Continue until noodles are gone. Top with remaining sauce and cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top!

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Dec 26, 2011

Mini Pizza Meatloaves Reinvented Recipe

Awhile back when I first started blogging, I posted the recipe for Mini Pizza Meatloaves. This one is a different variation from the original. I added Italian sausage to the ground beef since I had some extra on hand. I love this version just as much as the original so I thought I'd post this as well. This would be great as a main dish, or an appetizer!

What you need:
1 pound ground beef
1 Italian sausage link, casing removed
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1/3 c. pizza sauce plus additional for serving
1/2 c. onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. green olives, sliced
5 white mushrooms, diced
2 c. mozzarella cheese
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt and pepper

In a bowl, add all ingredients except cheese. Combine ingredients until mixed well. Divide ground beef mixture evenly into a 12 cup muffin pan. Add a small scoop of sauce to the top of each meatloaf and cover completely with the shredded mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. To serve: Cover the bottom of a plate with a couple spoonfuls of pizza sauce and serve mini meatloafs on top! Enjoy!!

Easy Bacon Deviled Eggs Recipe

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Look no further for your new favorite game day, party or holiday appetizer! This easy recipe is full of delicious bacon, basil, garlic and more!

Easy Bacon Deviled Eggs Recipe! Look no further for your new favorite game day, party or holiday appetizer! This easy recipe is full of delicious bacon, basil, garlic and more!

Game day parties are some of my favorite gatherings.

I'm not much of a sports person, but I sure love all the amazing food! So many different dips, salsas, sandwiches and sweet treats! Love them all.

I first made these delicious deviled eggs for Christmas, then for a game and drink night with the ladies. 

Warm Bacon and Cheese Dip recipe

I was super excited to try some new appetizer recipes yesterday for Christmas! I brought this bacon and cheese dip with to my Dad and Stepmom's house and I just love the way it turned out. The flavors were great, and it is so easy to get ready, bake and serve! We set out pretzels to go with it, but crackers, chips or fresh veggies would be great as well! Great addition to any holiday gathering or party!!

What you need:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups sour cream 
1/2 cup bacon, fried and finely chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped green onion

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Place the mixture in a baking dish. Cover and heat the dip for 30 minutes or until hot. Garnish with extra bacon, cheese and green onions!

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Dec 24, 2011

Book Review: Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark

Description from Goodreads:
In New York for treatment of his father's leukemia, seven-year-old Brian Dornan sees his mother's wallet being lifted. Desperate to retrieve the St. Christopher medal tucked inside--which he believes to be protecting his father--Brian follows the thief into the subway, and into the most dangerous adventure of his young life.

My thoughts:
I've never read a book by Mary Higgins Clark before, so I decided to try this one since it had a Christmas theme and I wanted a holiday book. It was a fast and easy read and although it was based at Christmas time, the actual storyline didn't have much to do with Christmas itself. Overall though, it was a decent read, it kept me interested and I liked the somewhat predictable ending. 

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars


Dec 23, 2011

Chicken, Rice and Black Bean Bake Recipe

I love meals where you can just throw everything together and stick it in the oven! A few weeks back, I got a case of Hunt's tomato sauce, so I went to their website to get some inspiration for some new recipe ideas. They have a really good recipe selection and I will be using quite a few more recipes from there!! Mexican themed foods are some of my favorites, so this chicken and rice dish hit the spot for a great meal!

What you need:
1 1/2 c. basmati rice
1/2 green pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. green onions, sliced
1- 15 oz can tomato sauce
1- 14.5 oz can mexican style diced tomatoes
1- 15oz can black beans, rinsed
2 1/2 c. chicken broth
4-6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs or legs
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
olive oil
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with olive oil. Combine rice, diced pepper, garlic, green onions, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder in the baking dish. stir together. Rub the chicken with additional cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and place in baking dish on top of rice. Bake for 1 hour, stirring rice once or twice while cooking to combine flavors. Enjoy!!

Dec 20, 2011

Easy Four Ingredient Baked Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels Recipe

These addictive easy four ingredient baked cinnamon sugar pretzels are the perfect sweet and salty snack! Great for parties, holidays or movie night at home. 

pretzels in a white bowl.

5 Ingredient Baked Honey Spiced Pretzels Recipe

These tasty baked honey spiced pretzels are only 5 ingredients and perfect for any party! Delicious sweet and savory flavors. Such a great snack anytime.

pretzels in a white bowl.

Dec 19, 2011

Book Review: The Saddest Girl in the World by Cathy Glass

Description from Goodreads:
The bestselling author of Damaged tells the true story of Donna, who came into foster care aged ten, having been abused, victimised and rejected by her family. Donna had been in foster care with her two young brothers for three weeks when she is abruptly moved to Cathy's. When Donna arrives she is silent, withdrawn and walks with her shoulders hunched forward and her head down. Donna is clearly a very haunted child and refuses to interact with Cathy's children Adrian and Paula. After patience and encouragement from Cathy, Donna slowly starts to talk and tells Cathy that she blames herself for her and her brothers being placed in care. The social services were aware that Donna and her brothers had been neglected by their alcoholic mother, but no one realised the extent of the abuse they were forced to suffer. The truth of the physical torment she was put through slowly emerges, and as Donna grows to trust Cathy she tells her how her mother used to make her wash herself with wire wool so that she could get rid of her skin colour as her mother was so ashamed that Donna was mixed race. The psychological wounds caused by the bullying she received also start to resurface when Donna starts reenacting the ways she was treated at home by hitting and bullying Paula, so much so that Cathy can't let Donna out of her sight. As the pressure begins to mount on Cathy to help this child, things start to get worse and Donna begins behaving in erratic ways, trashing her bedroom and being regularly abusive towards Cathy's children. Cathy begins to wonder if she can find a way to help this child or if Donna's scars run too deep.

My Thoughts:
Cathy Glass is one of those authors, who's books, I always look forward to reading. She is one of those special people who has an incredible heart and it makes you wish everyone in the world could be touched by her. The Saddest Girl in the World is another great book she has written. She is caring for a little girl named Donna. Once again, Cathy's patience and love as a foster carer help Donna through her issues from the horrible abuse she suffered from her Mother and siblings. Cathy's books are hard to read, some of the things these children go through are horrific but what she does for them is so worth the read!
I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars!

Dec 18, 2011

Rum Balls Recipe

These little rum balls sure have a little bit of a kick! I contemplated putting them in the adult beverage category! I'm sure if you ate enough of them, you could catch a little buzz. They are rich and so chocolaty. I really like the flavor they have and they are super fast to make! They would be a great addition to any holiday gathering!

What you need:
2 1/2 c. crushed vanilla wafers, about 75 wafers
1 c. ground pecans
1 c. confectioners sugar
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 c. rum
3 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. water
additional confectioners sugar

In a large bowl, combine wafer crumbs, pecans, confectioners sugar and cocoa. 
Combine the rum, honey and water. Stir into crumb mixture.
Shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in confectioners sugar (you could also add some Christmas sprinkles), Store in an airtight container.
Makes 3 1/2 dozen

Recipe Source: Taste of Home

Dec 17, 2011

Candy Cane Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

I am a cook. But a baker? Not so much! I need alot of practice in that area! Last night my sister Shantel and I were baking fools, making last minute cookies for a cookie exchange this weekend! We made 6 1/2 dozen of these babies! They turned out good though, I love the crunch they have from the crushed candy canes when you bite into them. It's a great cookie for the holidays!

What you need:
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup butter, at room temp
1 c. packed light brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temp
3/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. crushed candy canes

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Using a mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium speed just until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, then stir in the flour mixture followed by the chocolate and peppermint chips. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour before baking.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking, until the cookies are very lightly browned in the centers, about 10 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to handle, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack. Enjoy!!

Makes appx 4 dozen, depending on how big you make the cookies! 

Dec 14, 2011

Salt and Vinegar Broiled Fingerling Potatoes Recipe

Tonight, I fell in love. The whole house smelling like vinegar was totally worth it! I am a sucker for anything with vinegar or anything pickled. Sauerkraut, pickled veggies, turkey gizzards or anything like it, is so delish in my book. (I'm sure many of you don't agree with pickled turkey gizzards, but, don't hate til you try them haha!) This recipe is quite amazing. It is at the top of my list for snacky type foods and it will be made often around here. Ella even loved them... bonus!!

What you need:
1 pound fingerling potatoes, sliced lengthwise about 1/4" thickness
2 c. white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar, or some of each)
olive oil
sea salt

1. In a small pot, combine the potato slices and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until fork-tender, about 8 minutes. Let cool in liquid for 30 minutes. Then drain well and pat potatoes dry with paper towels.
2. Preheat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches below the heat source. Dump the potato slices onto a sheet pan, sprinkle very generously with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Arrange the potato slices in a single layer. Broil until lightly browned on top, about 7 minutes. Then flip the slices and broil until the underside is lightly browned, about 5 minutes more. Serve warm.

Dec 13, 2011

Stovetop or Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup Recipe

This hearty Zuppa Toscana soup recipe is similar to Olive Garden's and is so simple to make. Sausage, red potatoes and kale are the main ingredients in this delicious lunch or dinner.

Soup in pot with ladle full of soup.

Dec 10, 2011

Creamy Tomato, Spinach and Tortellini Soup Recipe

This hearty Creamy Tomato Spinach and Tortellini Soup is simple to make and ready in 30 minutes! Perfect for a meatless lunch or dinner on a cold winter day! Serve with a sandwich or some bread for dipping. 

bowl of soup with white background.

Dec 8, 2011

Fried Egg Sandwich with Avocado Recipe

Who doesn't love a great fried egg sandwich for breakfast?? (Or even dinner as we always do!) This twist on the classic egg sandwich, is amazing with the sliced avocado. But for me, avocado makes everything better!! try this recipe, trust me, you just can't go wrong!!

What you need:
3 eggs
6 slices bread
3 slices sharp cheddar cheese
6 slices of bacon, fried
1 avocado, sliced
salt and pepper

Fry the bacon until crispy. In the same pan using the bacon grease, fry the eggs, over hard. (season with salt and pepper) Meanwhile, toast your bread. Layer the cheese, egg, 2 slices of bacon and avocado. One avocado should be enough for 3 sandwiches! Enjoy!!

This recipe was shared at:

Dec 7, 2011

Slow Cooker Snow Flake Hot Cocoa Recipe

The perfect winter time treat, especially during the holidays! Rich, creamy and a great alternative to traditional hot cocoa! 

The perfect winter time treat, especially during the holidays! Rich, creamy and a great alternative to traditional hot cocoa! Slow Cooker Snow Flake Hot Cocoa Recipe from Hot Eats and Cool Reads

There really is no way to explain how good this hot cocoa is.

To me, it almost has a custard flavor. I like it way better than traditional hot chocolate.

I can see making this recipe a lot through the winter, and just cutting the recipe in half, so it will be the perfect amount for my daughter and I. 

Dec 5, 2011

Easy Oven Pancake aka Hootenanny Recipe

This simple to make and unique breakfast recipe uses basic fridge and pantry staples and is super tasty! Top it with maple syrup, powdered sugar or fresh fruit to make it sweet!

Easy Oven Pancake

This simple to make and unique breakfast recipe uses basic fridge and pantry staples like flour, eggs, butter and milk and is super tasty! Top it with maple syrup, powdered sugar or fresh fruit to make it sweet! Serve with your breakfast favorites for a complete meal that will feed the whole family!

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Dec 4, 2011

Blushing Mimosas Recipe

I'm loving all these great drink recipes I have been making lately, especially ones with Moscato d'asti or champagne. This is another excellent one with a slight twist on the regular Mimosa. Very tasty and light, and it goes down great!

What you need:
3 c. orange pineapple juice
2 tbsp grenadine
1- 750 milliliter bottle champagne or Moscato d'asti, chilled 

Stir together the first 3 ingredients in a pitcher. Then add the champagne or wine and lightly stir. Pour into champagne flutes or glasses. (2- 12oz cans of ginger ale or lemon lime soda can be substituted for the champagne)


Source: My recipes (slightly adapted)

Oatmeal Blueberry Squares Recipe

I just got a whole bunch of fresh blueberries for a really great price so I had to find a few recipes to use them up. I found this one while browsing Foodie Friday at The Country Cook. It sounded yummy and somewhat healthy so I decided to try it. They were good, almost like a chewy oatmeal bar, and not too sweet. It's a great snack or breakfast bar!

What you need:
1 1/2 c. quick oats
1/2 c. flour (white or whole wheat)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c. fresh blueberries
1 egg
1 c. milk
3 tbsp apple sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350° F.
  1. Coat 8x8 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix until just combined.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  4. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and cut into squares.

Source: Debz Delicious Meals (slightly adapted)

Dec 3, 2011

Philly Cheesesteak Quesadillas Recipe

Your favorite cheesesteak sandwich made into a quesadilla! Use leftover steak, beef roast or chicken to save time in the kitchen and use either provolone or cheese whiz depending on what you love! This appetizer, lunch or dinner is ready in less than 30 minutes! Use a skillet, oven or quesadilla maker!

Philly Cheesesteak Quesadillas

Philly Cheesesteak Quesadillas on a platter and plate with parsley garnish

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Nov 30, 2011

Crescent Roll Calzones Recipe

It's recipes like this, that make me really excited. How can something so easy to make, and taste so darn good?? I really wish I had this recipe years ago! Another great thing, besides it being so easy, is how versatile it is. Use pork, beef, chicken or just veggies and it's gonna turn out tasting great every time. Change up the sauce to alfredo and mix up the flavors that way. Endless possibilities!! This is the variation I made:

What you need:
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
chopped ham
thinly sliced onions
shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. jarred pizza sauce, plus more for dipping
garlic powder
pizza seasoning or italian seasoning

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease or spray cookie sheet.

On cookie sheet, unroll dough and separate into 4 rectangles; press each into 7×4-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. Spread 2 tablespoons of sauce on two of the rectangles. Place onions on top of sauce and ham on top of that. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese over sauce, ham and onions.

 Place the remaining two rectangles on top of each and press edges with fork to seal. Sprinkle the top of each calzone with garlic powder and pizza seasoning.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm. Makes 2 large calzones. Enjoy!

Nov 28, 2011

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwich Recipe

I love my slow cooker and really need to start using it more! There are way too many good crock pot recipes out there, for me not to be trying one, at least once every week or two. We had these Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches over the weekend, and I have to say this is the BEST EVER roast recipe, even on it's own. Throw in some carrots and potatoes and make some gravy with the juice. And the leftovers (if you have any), make some pretty amazing meals too! Try it either way, you won't be disappointed!

What you need:
Appx 3- 3 1/2  pound beef roast
3 c. beef broth or 3 c. water and bouillon cubes
3/4 c. red wine, or one small individual sized bottle
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 medium sized onion, diced
2 tsp rosemary
nature's seasoning and pepper

4-6 french rolls
sliced provolone cheese, optional

Trim excess fat off of beef roast and season meat all over with nature's seasoning, pepper and rosemary. 

Pour broth or water and bouillon, and red wine into the slow cooker. Place beef roast, onions and garlic in the liquid. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

Take beef out and rest it, covered with aluminum foil, for about 15 minutes. Slice beef and return to slow cooker on low or very low for 30 minutes.

Lightly toast the bread and evenly distribute cheese between rolls, if using. Divide beef onto rolls (make sure to get those onions and garlic chunks on the sandwich too) and spoon the beef juice* into ramekins or other small bowls and eat everything while it is hot. Serve each sandwich with its own dip.

Serves 4-6.

*Note: If there is excess fat in your au jus, simply pour it from the slow cooker into a large measuring cup and let it stand for about 5 minutes so the fat separates. Skim it off, then pour the juice into serving cups.

Recipe Source: Baking Bites (slightly adapted)

This recipe was shared at:
Gooseberry Patch Recipe Round Up

Nov 27, 2011

The Best No Cook No Bake Banana Pudding Recipe

This delicious no bake, no cook banana pudding is the ultimate summer dessert, but also great for any time of the year! Perfect for parties, potlucks and holidays and such a crowd pleaser!

pudding on a plate with nilla wafer and banana garnish

Nov 26, 2011

Cabbage and Noodles Recipe

My brother was searching for a traditional kluski recipe and I stumbled across this one. We love cabbage at my house, so I knew we would have to try this. Glad we did, it is a very good recipe, and something completely different to make with cabbage. I am so blessed my daughter is not a picky eater, she loved this recipe as well! It's so cute because she is now asking with everything I make, "Mom, what ingredients did you put in this?" Too cute!

What you need:
1- 16 oz package Reames Egg Noodles (can be found in the freezer section)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 small head of cabbage, sliced into strips
1/2 c. butter
3 tsp paprika
salt and pepper

Cook noodles according to package directions in salted water. Meanwhile, brown ground beef (I always brown my hamburger in a little bit of bacon grease for more flavor), onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a large saute pan until ground beef is cooked through.

Add butter, cabbage and paprika and continue cooking, covered, until cabbage is tender. 

Add egg noodles and heat through. Add more salt, pepper and paprika as needed depending on your taste. I really had to add quite a bit of seasoning to get the right taste. Enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from My Culinary Canvas

This recipe was shared at:
Recipe Round Up at Gooseberry Patch

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