Hot Eats and Cool Reads: February 2012

Feb 29, 2012

Salmon Pesto Cream Tortellini Recipe

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Dinner is ready in less than 20 minutes with this creamy and cheesy pasta recipe! The flavors come from lemon zest, tomatoes and delicious parmesan cheese! This is sure to be a new favorite comfort food! 

Salmon Pesto Cream Tortellini Recipe from Hot Eats and Cool Reads! Dinner is ready in less than 20 minutes with this creamy and cheesy pasta recipe! The flavors come from lemon zest, tomatoes and delicious parmesan cheese! This is sure to be a new favorite comfort food!

I first published this recipe over six years ago in February 2012!

After making it many times over the years, I'm finally giving this post a much needed update!

This recipe is defintely tried and true, and always turns out fantastic!

Feb 26, 2012

Minnesota Ground Beef and Wild Rice Hotdish Recipe

This old school comfort food casserole is hearty, delicious and just like Grandma used to make! This is a family favorite and perfect for any winter meal. 

Minnesota Ground Beef and Wild Rice Hotdish

This old school comfort food casserole is hearty, delicious and just like Grandma used to make! It's full of vegetables like onions, carrots and celery and is packed with protein from the ground beef and wild rice. This is a family favorite and perfect for any winter meal.

This post contains affiliate links. Hot Eats and Cool Reads may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no cost to you! Thanks for the support!

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Feb 25, 2012

Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots Recipe

Carrots are a favorite side dish at our house! Our favorite is Brown Sugar Glazed carrots, but I wanted something a little lighter to go with fish. These Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots turned out AMAZING! They are super flavorful and don't require alot of work to make them! I know these carrots will be back on the menu soon at our house. I am addicted!! Enjoy!!

What you need:
6-7 large carrots, peeled and quartered into thin slices
3 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small sauce pan heat honey and balsamic until thinned. Add parsley and pepper. Mix. Place carrots in a square baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Pour honey balsamic sauce over carrots and toss to coat again. Bake for 25-35 minutes stirring occasionally. Enjoy!!

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Garlic Butter Baked Pollock Fillets Recipe

My local grocery store had a great sale on frozen Pollock fillets this week. 

I've never cooked them before so I thought I'd try them out! This recipe turned out fabulous! 

The fish ended up to be fall apart tender and the garlic gave it great flavor. You can substitute Pollock for any white fish. Tilapia would be fabulous prepared this way as well. 

This recipe is super fast and easy and would be convenient to cook on a week night when you don't have much time to cook. Enjoy!!

What you need:
1 pound frozen Pollock fillets, defrosted
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. lime juice
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay Pollock fillets in a glass baking dish in a single layer. Combine the garlic, melted butter, parsley, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour over Pollock fillets. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. 

Serve with:
Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots

Book Review: Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals by Christopher J. Payne

Quote from Amazon:
"Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals contains sadly beautiful photographs by Christopher Payne and a masterful essay by Oliver Sacks that reminds us that state hospitals were not always places of neglect and abuse but also of true asylum--of refuge from the stresses of life. The book presents us with a world of abandoned buildings, forgotten ashes, and derailed futures. It packs a powerful punch."--Elyn R. Saks, author of The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, and Professor, USC Law School

My Thoughts:
I was so excited when I received the email saying this book was on it's way to me via the MN Link Interlibrary Loan System. The timing was perfect. In just over a week, my siblings and I will be touring Fergus Falls State Hospital in Fergus Falls, MN. I will be posting about our tour in a future post!

This book contains images from the Fergus Falls Hospital as well as many others around the United States. I am wowed by the Kirkbride Architecture and the massive size of the buildings and grounds. This book shows some amazing photos that make you wish you were there. I loved the photo of the hanging toothbrushes and the photos of long, abandoned hallways. It's so sad in a way, that these buildings were left so abruptly and rarely touched again.You also wonder paging through this book, what if these walls could talk? What story would they tell?

Christopher Payne did an amazing job with photographing these hospitals. You can view some of these images at his website Chris Payne Photo.

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.


Feb 23, 2012

Cheese Tortellini Marinara Bake Recipe

This is a great recipe for a week night meal. The prep is minimal and the baking time is quick! You can do so many variations with any ingredients you have on hand. I made this with jarred spaghetti sauce, but alfredo with chicken would be amazing too! I think that's what I'm trying next time! Mushrooms would also be a great addition! It turned out great and I would make this again!!

 What you need:
1- 19 oz bag of frozen cheese tortellini, cooked
1- 24 oz jar Prego sauce
1- 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 brats or Italian sausages, cooked (I used leftovers from the night before)
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
black pepper
1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup
1/4 c. parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a 9x13 baking dish except 1/2 c. mozzarella and the parmesan. After all the ingredients are combined, top with the remaining 1/2 c. mozzarella and 1/4 c. parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

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Book Review: Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Description from Goodreads:
James Witherspoon is a bigamist. His daughter, Dana, and her mother both know about James's other daughter, Chaurisse, who lives with his other wife in a nicer neighborhood nearby. But Chaurisse and her mother are blissfully unaware of James's secret family.

When Dana--tired of a life in the shadows--accidentally meets her half-sister, she befriends her. For Dana, it's an irresistible opportunity to secretly see how the other half lives. For Chaurisse, Dana is a glamorous friend--a "silver girl" possessing all the style, popularity, and long pretty hair that Chaurisse thinks would make her happy. But their friendship is destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered.

Set in 1980s Atlanta and told in the alternating voices of the two girls, this is a classic story of loyalty and love, class and privilege. Like the early works of Toni Morrison, Jones's story is populated with rich, flawed characters who win and then break your heart. Written with grace and style, Silver Sparrow is the novel that will put Jones on the literary map.

My Thoughts:
I bought this book shortly after it was released, and I wish I would've read it sooner! This story is told by two sisters, except one of them doesn't know she even has a sister. Dana is the "secret" sister. She has lived her life knowing about her Dad's wife and daughter Chaurisse, but they know nothing about her. The first half of the book is told by Dana and the second half told by Chaurisse. 

Their father James, married both women and lives a double life. Dana has seen Chaurisse here and there over the years because they live in the same area and she finally decided to befriend her. Not everything goes exactly as planned, and the ending is not happy as expected. Tayari Jones did a great job writing this book. This is the first book I've read by her, but I am excited to see what else she has to offer. I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves a great fiction novel. 

I rate this 4.5 out of 5 stars



Feb 21, 2012

Crispy Baked Hash Browns with Parmesan Recipe

I love side dishes that don't require alot of work because I like focusing more time cooking the main dish. These hash browns have a quick prep and they turned out really tasty! You can serve them with dinner, or at breakfast with some eggs. It works great either way! I sprinkled some green onions and hot sauce on mine and served with some brats and corn.

What you need:
4 c. frozen hash browns, partially thawed
1 small onion, finely diced
3/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tbsp. dried parsley
2 tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8x8 glass baking dish. In a bowl combine hash browns, onion, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour into the baking dish. Top evenly with butter cubes. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Feb 18, 2012

Cucumber, Strawberry and Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe

A fresh and delicious salad that's great for any meal! Ready in 10 minutes!

A fresh and delicious salad that's great for any meal! Ready in 10 minutes! Cucumber, Strawberry and Tomato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe from Hot Eats and Cool Reads

For my daughter's 5th birthday party, we decided to have an Italian theme for the food. This salad recipe was a great addition to the Chicken Alfredo, Spaghetti and Garlic Monkey Bread! The sweetness of the strawberries added in was amazing! You could also add thinly sliced red onions to change the flavor. 

Feb 15, 2012

Slow Cooker Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork Recipe

In my opinion, the only way to cook a roast is in a slow cooker. This is my first attempt at making pulled pork for sandwiches and I really like how it turned out. The can of Dr Pepper added in makes the flavor of the meat so good, even before adding the sauce mixture. I will definitely use this method for cooking a pork roast again. 

This is also a great recipe to make for a family get together or party. The 2 pound roast made alot of sandwiches so it wouldn't take much more to accommodate a larger group. If you don't want to make the sauce homemade, you can also use you favorite BBQ sauce. Enjoy!!

What you need:
2 pound pork roast
1 large onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Dr Pepper
salt and pepper
olive oil

1 1/2 c. ketchup
2 tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce 
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Turn on the slow cooker to the high setting. Season roast with salt and pepper. Sear the roast in a olive oil coated frying pan over high heat until all sides are browned. If you aren't familiar with searing, you can find a great how-to guide here at All Recipes.

Place roast in the slow cooker with onions and garlic. Pour the can of Dr Pepper over the top. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or until the meat is tender enough to shred. Drain out the majority of the liquid and shred the pork.

Mix all ingredients for the sauce. Return the pork to the slow cooker and mix in the sauce to combine. Cook on low for another hour or until completely heated through. Serve on your favorite bun or roll! 

Chicken, Tomato and Cucumber Pasta Salad Recipe

 This is one of those recipes that was created using random, leftover ingredients. They sometimes make the best recipes! I needed something simple to go with Pulled Pork Sandwiches, so a pasta salad seemed like the perfect fit! It's super easy to put together and you can make as much as you need and add any veggies that you like! I have so many great salad recipes that I haven't blogged yet and I can't wait to make some more and share them with you all!! I hope you like this one!

What you need:
1 c. mayo
juice from 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
salt and pepper to taste

 1/2 pound small shell pasta, cooked and cooled
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1/4 c. diced onion
1 c. leftover cooked chicken

Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients into the bowl with the sauce and gently toss. Add more mayo as needed depending on how creamy you like it! Enjoy!!

This recipe was shared at:
Recipe Round Up at Gooseberry Patch
Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Fabulous Friday at My Crowded Kitchen
Weekend Potluck at The Country Cook
Cast Party Wednesday at Lady Behind the Curtain

Feb 12, 2012

Book Review: Ghetto Superstar by Nikki Turner

Description from Goodreads:
Fabiola Mays was born to sing. She has a voice like honey and a body to match, but one heartbreaking setback after another threatens to derail her dreams of a recording deal. To make matters worse, it’s Christmastime, rent is past due, and the cops intend to kick her tight-knit family to the curb–until a small-town gangster comes to the rescue and offers them a place to stay.

Years pass, and Fabiola continues to play gigs and travel around the country hoping for another shot at fame. She’s long forgotten the gangster named Casino who bailed out her family once upon a time. But when Casino is shot, Fabiola feels that she must help the man who helped her family during their lowest point.

As Fabiola climbs the ladder of success, she is pulled between the spotlight and the street, trying to resist industry moguls who find the allure of fresh meat irresistible and the thugs from the shadowy side of the ghetto who threaten to keep her close.

My Thoughts:
Fabiola is such a sweet main character and you find yourself rooting for her on her journey to stardom. I also loved Casino's character. Despite their age difference, they seem like they would be an amazing couple. Fabiola finds herself caught up in many obstacles during her early singing days. Most people would've given up, but she still trudged on with the help of her momager, Viola. 

This is a decent book overall, but coming from Nikki Turner, I expected more. It was slow moving and the book didn't really cover as much of the story as it could've. I hated the ending, it left no explanation and since it's been quite a few years since this book was released so I'm not even sure if there is even a sequel in the works. 

3.5 stars out of 5


Orange and Strawberry Sparkling Vodka Cocktail Recipe

This is such a fun and super tasty drink! I would love to serve it at a summer BBQ. I'm a big fan of mixing chunks of fruit into any drink. There's just something great about nibbling on the fruit in between sips! I love the abundance of citrus available right now too! Any kind or variety of oranges would be great in this drink. Blood oranges are a personal favorite of mine. Enjoy!!

What you need:
1 pound frozen (thawed) or fresh strawberries
2 oranges, sliced
1 c. simple syrup
ginger ale or sprite

In a bowl, combine strawberries, oranges and simple syrup. Refrigerate for a couple hours before using.

Scoop some strawberries, oranges and syrup in the bottom of a glass, Top with ice, vodka and soda. Stir!

 Garnish with an extra orange or fresh strawberry slice!

Short Spaghetti aka Goulash Recipe

Delicious, easy and budget friendly lunch or dinner recipe! This goulash is ready in less than 30 minutes and great served with a salad, veggies and buttered bread!

Short Spaghetti aka Goulash

Delicious, easy and budget friendly lunch or dinner recipe! This goulash is ready in less than 30 minutes and great served with a salad, veggies and buttered bread!

This post contains affiliate links. Hot Eats and Cool Reads may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no cost to you! Thanks for the support!

This recipe was revised, photographed and updated on 6/9/20. You can find the original recipe here.

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Feb 9, 2012

Blueberry Crumble Recipe

What do you do when you have 2 containers of blueberries to be used asap?? Search my awesome recipe collection on Pinterest, of course!! This Blueberry Crumble recipe is on point. Everyone enjoyed it and it went quick! YUM! I did add more blueberries than the original recipe called for, and I think it was a perfect amount for this yummy breakfast-y dessert! We will be making this again!

What you need:
2 c. oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, melted
3 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl combine oats, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/4 c. flour, baking soda and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine. Press into 9x13 baking dish.

In the same bowl toss blueberries with sugar, 1/4 c. flour and vanilla extract. Spread onto pressed crust.

Wipe out bowl and combine 1 c. flour, 1/2 c. brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the blueberries. 

Bake for 25-35 minutes until set and browned on top. Enjoy!!

Feb 7, 2012

Buttered Noodles with Peas and Parmesan Recipe

 This variation of buttered noodles is my favorite. It is such a quick and easy side dish and can be paired with so many different main courses or served alone for a quick lunch.

What you need:
elbow macaroni
frozen peas
shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Cook noodles according to package directions. A few minutes into cooking the noodles, add the frozen peas. Drain. Combine noodles, peas and butter heating until butter is melted. Remove from heat. Add parmesan, salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Hamburger Vegetable Soup Recipe

I love this soup! It's so easy to make and you can basically throw it together using any veggies from your pantry, freezer or fridge. Before you know it, you may be adding more broth because there ended up being so many veggies added in! My Mom started off making this and I always loved it. It's also become one of my daughters favorites. This is exactly how I made it this time around, but you can change the amounts to whatever you have on hand. Enjoy! 

What you need:
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. frozen peas
1 small head of cabbage, chopped
2 medium red potatoes, diced
2 large carrots, sliced
1- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
10 c. beef broth
1- 15.25 oz can corn
1- 15.8 oz can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp basil
salt and pepper
1 c. small shell noodles

In a large soup pot, fry ground beef, onions, garlic, salt and pepper until beef is cooked through. Add the rest of the ingredients except the pasta. Cook over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes. Add the shell pasta and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes until pasta is cooked through and veggies are tender. 

This recipe was shared at:
The Ultimate Soup Recipe List at Love Bakes Good Cakes
Recipe Round Up at Gooseberry Patch
Look What I Made at A Thrifty Mom
Sunday Night Soup at Easy Natural Food
Weekend Potluck at The Country Cook
Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Recipe Linky at Newlyweds
Midweek fiesta at Food Corner

Feb 5, 2012

Turkey Porcupine Meatballs Recipe

 Some of my most favorite recipes have come from church cookbooks. This one was found in the "Feeding the Flock" cookbook from Tri-Parish Lutheran Church Royalton, MN. I've tried quite a few great recipes from this cookbook already. I did made a few small changes from the original, according to the ingredients I had on hand, and it turned out so tasty! This is a new family favorite!!

What you need:
1/2 c. instant white rice
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey 
2 tbsp. olive oil
15 oz tomato sauce
1/2 c. tomato juice
1/2 c. water
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine rice, 1/2 c. water, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and turkey. Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls. Brown balls in olive oil. Transfer to a glass baking dish. Combine tomato sauce, tomato juice, water, brown sugar, worcestershire, and pepper. Pour over meatballs and bake for 45 minutes. 

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Feb 3, 2012

Strawberry and Pineapple Bellinis Made With Moscato D'asti Recipe

I am a huge fan of Bellinis! I love making and trying different fruit combos. They always turn out so delicious and refreshing. This one is no exception! Loved the tropical flavor of the pineapple and it was perfect paired with strawberries!

What you need:
1 1/2 c. frozen strawberries, thawed
1/2 c. canned pineapple chunks
1/4 c. sugar
1- 750 ml bottle Moscato D'asti

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. Enjoy!!

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