Hot Eats and Cool Reads: April 2013

Apr 29, 2013

Crunchy Poppyseed Chicken Salad Recipe

This easy spring and summer salad is delicious, and perfect for any picnic, barbecue or lunch! Also great with turkey or ham if you're looking for ideas to use holiday leftovers!



Crunchy Poppyseed Chicken Salad


Crunchy Poppyseed Chicken Salad Recipe from Hot Eats and Cool Reads! This easy spring and summer salad is delicious, and perfect for any picnic, barbecue or lunch! Also great with turkey or ham if you're looking for ideas to use holiday leftovers!


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Apr 24, 2013

Chicken and Tortellini with Tomato Cream Sauce Recipe





Hello foodies! Hope everyone is having a great week so far! It's been quiet at our house this week, which is great compared to the hectic last few weeks we've had. My cousin and I went to get pedicures together today. That relaxation was MUCH needed! I also got some really wonderful news earlier today, but I will let you all know what's going on with that, within the next couple months! Lots of huge changes have been going on in our life, and my daughter and I are so excited for this amazing opportunity we've been offered.

Today's recipe turned out so fantastic! I was staying at my sister's house for the weekend, and her husband made this for us. I love creamy tomato sauces, and the spinach and chicken goes so well with it. I love that he used tortellini instead of regular pasta. This recipe has tons of flavor and you will leave the table feeling completely satisfied!

Thanks to my sister, Shannon who blogs over at Speaking in Plain Shamish for taking the photos for this post!

Chicken and Tortellini with Tomato Cream Sauce (print recipe)

What you need:
1- 20 ounce package fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
2- 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 cups heavy whipping cream 
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, as desired
olive oil

Directions:
Cook tortellini according to package directions. Rinse and drain.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook chicken breast, garlic and onion in olive oil, until chicken is cooked through. Add the tomatoes, spinach, basil, salt and pepper as desired. Cook and stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until thickened.

Toss tortellini and sauce. Serve topped with additional parmesan if desired.



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On the blog... one year ago:
Easy and Cheap Homemade Salsa


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This recipe was featured at:
Love Bakes Good Cakes 
Home Maid Simple

Apr 23, 2013

Guest Post: Restaurant Review... Mesa Grill, Las Vegas, NV

Thanks to my author friend, Nicole Dunlap for guest posting and reviewing this awesome restaurant!


From budget options to extravagant affairs, Las Vegas offers endless buffets galore that will not only fill up your belly, but dig into your pockets.

Then there are the restaurants.

Almost every chef worth his or her reign on The Food Network Channel has a spot in the city that never sleeps. Of all the choices, I went to Bobby Flay’s “Mesa Grill.”

I will never forget my night at Bobby’s place–and oh yes, we’re on a first name basis. Not that Bobby knows me or anything. But you don’t get intimately involved with the “Blue Corn Lobster Tacos” and not forget the dynamic inventor. The explosion of flavor and subtle habanero heat – because let’s face it, we all know Bobby is known to bring the heat–well, it all just came together for the universe’s best taco since the invention of… tacos! The “blue corn pancake,” what a visually artistic plate, had tender pieces of barbequed duck. Look out Texas. Bobby’s barbeque is in fact spiced to perfection. And that was just the appetizer.



Now you may wonder if I was full, yes of course. But nobody goes to Mesa Grill for the first time and doesn’t succumb to the woes of gluttony. You just stuff yourself and endure. Luckily, my husband was with me so I didn’t have to order multiple meals. I ordered the “Grilled Lamb Porterhouse Chops” while my husband ordered the “Chipotle Glazed Ribeye.” They were almost too beautiful to eat. Manly meals that make you feel strong. As I google eyed these melt-worthy pieces of meat, my heart felt overwhelmed with giddiness. Then, at this moment, I caved in to rationality and allowed my sense of smell, sight, and taste of food to take the back burner. I, alone, to my horror and satisfaction could not determine which of these would taste better. Finally, for the first time in awhile, my husband came in handy. We commenced to sharing both meals and ended our dining experience within a sense of aromatic fireworks.




I shall not lament receiving the bill, but I have a regret. We were too stuffed for dessert. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I will return.

This wonderful experience leads me to one question. How the heck do the judges on Iron Chef eat all that food?

Gluttony at its best.


Mesa Grill:
Located in Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
877-346-4642
Website

Info about Nicole:


I am the "gumbo genre" author, because books shouldn't be lightly seasoned... I write stories mainly about family, women's issues, drizzled with drama, and peppered lightly with suspense. As a counselor, I have worked with families dealing with issues of neglect, and mental and physical abuse. The Shaw family saga is a homage to all the mother and daughter relationships. Miss Nobody begins with the disconnect of these types of relationships. The second installment, Miss Scandalous, goes through the process of this familial relationship coming together and I will continue to develop their lives for a character driven read. While writing, I've painted a picture of myself, the people, and places that I've come across to create a story where readers can learn about the characters, root for them, hate them, love them, cry for them; and most of all, yearn to flip through the pages to the end of that character's journey.

Website: NicoleDunlap.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Dunlap/e/B009BTPPWY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6535805.Nicole_Dunlap
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicoleydunlap
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorNicoleDunlap
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9637GqJqx7Y
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ndunlap09/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/116823021665178839801/posts

Apr 22, 2013

Benne Wafers aka Sesame Seed Cookies Recipe

These small and delicious cookies are chewy and such a great snack for Christmas, holidays or with coffee! Traditionally from Tanzania and other countries in East Africa but now also common in Southern United States!

Benne Wafers aka Sesame Seed Cookies Recipe from Hot Eats and Cool Reads! These small and delicious cookies are chewy and such a great snack for Christmas, holidays or with coffee! Traditionally from Tanzania and other countries in East Africa but now also common in Southern United States!


My daughter is a Daisy in Girl Scouts and recently we went to a Girl Scout's event called "Thinking Day". 

Apr 20, 2013

Balsamic Garlic Mushrooms Recipe

Here we are... the 20th of the month again, which means it's time for the Surprise Recipe Swap!!

This month I was assigned to Morsels of Life. I've never visited this blog before, so I was super excited to browse through and pick a recipe. CJ has some great recipes, and was so hard to choose just one. I finally decided to make these Balsamic Garlic Mushrooms. If you've been a follower of mine for awhile, then you know I love mushrooms and use them pretty regularly. This recipe turned out so amazing. I'm also a huge balsamic lover, so it was the perfect choice! It's a quick side dish or would also be a great topping for a steak. Either way, it's pure awesomeness. You gotta try it! Make sure to stop by and check out CJ's other recipes here!








Balsamic Garlic Mushrooms

by Sheena
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Instructions
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms, saute for another 2 minutes, then add balsamic. Saute until mushrooms are cooked, usually another 3-4 minutes, add parsley and serve!
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On the blog... one year ago:
My Mama's Potato Salad


Apr 18, 2013

Book Review: The Healer: by Antti Tuomainen


Book summary:
One man’s search for his missing wife in a dystopian futuristic Helsinki that is struggling with ruthless climate change.

It’s two days before Christmas and Helsinki is battling a ruthless climate catastrophe: subway tunnels are flooded; abandoned vehicles are left burning in the streets; the authorities have issued warnings about malaria, tuberculosis, Ebola, and the plague. People are fleeing to the far north of Finland and Norway where conditions are still tolerable. Social order is crumbling and private security firms have undermined the police force. Tapani Lehtinen, a struggling poet, is among the few still able and willing to live in the city.

When Tapani’s beloved wife, Johanna, a newspaper journalist, goes missing, he embarks on a frantic hunt for her. Johanna’s disappearance seems to be connected to a story she was researching about a politically  motivated serial killer known as “The Healer.” Desperate to find Johanna, Tapani’s search leads him to uncover secrets from her past. Secrets that connect her to the very murders she was investigating...

The Healer is set in desperate times, forcing Tapani to take desperate measures in order to find his true love. Written in an engrossingly dense but minimal language, The Healer is a story of survival, loyalty, and determination. Even when the world is coming to an end, love and hope endure.

My thoughts:
I was super excited when I found out I won this book through First Reads on Goodreads. I am a huge fan of dystopian fiction, so this was right up my alley. The book was just average in my opinion, and read more like a mystery, than dystopian books I've read previously. That was my misunderstanding though. The story moved fairly slow and was somewhat predictable. It's not a waste of time, but I've read much more interesting stories. It was my first Finnish crime book, so I definitely found that interesting as I love to read different types of books. 

Overall I rate this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Apr 17, 2013

Berry Blue Jello Slime Drink Recipe




Hello everyone!! I hope you're having a wonderful week so far! We've been super busy around here lately, which means not much cooking going on. Thankfully, I have lots of posts written up, so I can continue to bring you something new twice a week!

This recipe is SO fun!! My daughter and I had a blast making, and drinking it. It would be super fun for a kid's birthday party or family gathering, especially if you made a few different kinds of Jello to try. I know this is something we will make again and again. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Berry Blue Jello Slime Drink (print recipe)

What you need:
1 cup boiling water
1- 4 serving size package Berry Blue Jello (or your favorite flavor)
2 cups cold water
lemonade
lemon lime soda

Directions:
Stir the boiling water into the Jello, in a medium bowl, for at least 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Stir in the cold water. Refrigerate for 3 hours until soft set stage. Stir and break Jello apart with a fork.

Pour even parts lemonade and lemon lime soda in a glass until 3/4 full. Add Jello and stir slightly. 

Recipe Source: Jello & Cool Whip Simply Delicious Cookbook

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

On the blog... one year ago:
Cheesy Corn & Black Bean Dip


This recipe was shared at these fabulous blogs!

This recipe was featured at: Feeding Big

Apr 15, 2013

Cabbage Roll Casserole Recipe




Cabbage Roll Casserole is one of my absolute favorite meals! I posted this recipe previously when I first started blogging, and since it turns out so good, I decided to re-post with a new photo.  I also shared this a couple weeks ago over at Love Bakes Good Cakes for a guest post. I love Jamie's blog. Stop by and check it out. 

Both my daughter and I just love this recipe! We've made it many times, and it continues to be a favorite. It's so easy to make too. Enjoy!

Cabbage Roll Casserole (print recipe)

What you need: 
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion,diced
4 cloves garlic,minced
1 tsp dried basil
1- 14.5 oz can beef broth
1- 15 oz can tomato sauce
1- 11.5 oz can tomato juice
1- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 medium sized cabbage, chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 c. instant brown rice
salt and pepper 

Directions:
In a large saucepan cook ground beef, onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper until beef is cooked through. Add broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato juice and remove from heat. In a 9x13 pan, add chopped cabbage and rice. Pour ground beef mixture over rice and cabbage, stir to combine. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour, stirring a couple times throughout baking.

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

On the blog... one year ago:

Taco Dip

Cinnamon Churro Muddy Buddies

This recipe may be shared at these fabulous blogs!

Apr 10, 2013

Wild Rice Pancakes Recipe





Hey everyone!! I'm back with the next wild rice recipe!! This one turned out to be one of my favorites. I'm not a huge fan of pancakes, but these ones definitely hit the spot! I enjoyed them warm, with butter and syrup, and also cold and plain for a snack. If you don't want to make the batter homemade, just add the wild rice to your favorite pancake batter! These also make fantastic waffles. It's definitely a new and different breakfast! Enjoy!!

Wild Rice Pancakes (print recipe)

What you need:
3/4 cup cooked, cooled wild rice
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Fry on a hot, greased griddle until browned on both sides. 

Recipe source: Favorite Wild Rice Recipes of Minnesota's North Country Cookbook

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

On the blog... one year ago:
Shrimp Fried Rice



This recipe is shared at these fabulous blogs!

Apr 8, 2013

Ground Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom and Wild Rice Skillet Recipe




I just love wild rice! Growing up in Minnesota, we used to eat wild rice hotdish all the time at potlucks and family gatherings. Most of those recipes include cream of something soup, which I try to avoid these days with eating healthier. That's how this recipe came to be. 

This recipe is so quick to make if you pre-cook the wild rice ahead of time. I usually boil up one batch, and make a few different recipes with it throughout the week. Keep an eye out for Wednesday's recipe, I will be showing what you can make with the rest of your cooked wild rice! I love how this dish turned out. It's very earthy tasting and so delicious!! My brother loved it as well, so glad I have him at work to taste my creations! Enjoy!

Ground Chicken, Spinach, Mushroom and Wild Rice Skillet (print recipe)

What you need:
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
4 ounces baby bellas, sliced
3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 cups cooked wild rice
4 slices provolone, cut into small pieces
1 cup mozzarella
salt and pepper, as desired

Directions:
In a large skillet, over medium high heat, cook ground chicken, onion and garlic until chicken is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add the basil, mushrooms, spinach, salt and pepper and saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add the wild rice, provolone and mozzarella and stir until cheese is melted and combined.



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

On the blog... one year ago:
Bacon & Apple Grilled Cheese



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Apr 6, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway! Miss Scandalous (Shaw Family Saga #2) by Nicole Dunlap! (giveaway closed)



Summary from Goodreads:
A mother’s love vs. A daughter’s revenge. Charlene Shaw has gone through hell. She was raped and left for dead, yet she continued on her quest for fame. She’s a beautiful, desired actress who has found her Mr. Wright. According to the magazine headlines, her life is perfect. There’s just one thing her heart cries for…her daughter, Raven. This might be her hardest challenge yet–building the mother-daughter bond she’s prayed so hard for. Raven Shaw has been abandoned by love. Her mom preferred Hollywood and her childhood best-friend, now ex-lover, disappeared when she became pregnant. Now, she’s adjusted to a “new” kind of love…motherhood. She’s determined that her daughter will have everything she didn’t. The only thing she wants for herself is revenge, even if it means disconnecting from a small piece of her heart that still cares. Raven’s acts of rage slither into her mindset, overpowering her in the form of nightmares and delusions of skeletons long dead. After Raven’s scandalous ways, can Charlene mend Raven’s heart or will she be pulled down into the abyss? And then, there’s always the option, Charlene can get a little scandalous too…

My thoughts:
I just love when you finish the second book in a series, and it's just as good as the first. That's the case with Miss Scandalous. Raven and Charlene are back again, with more drama and heartache. This book sucks you in from the beginning, and once again I couldn't put it down. I love how Nicole's writing and  characters are so real. You feel a wide range of emotions when reading about their life, and wonder if things will ever be "normal" for them, after all they've gone through. I highly recommend this book and the first in the series, Miss Nobody. I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series!

I rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars!

You can find my review for the first book in the series, Miss Nobody here!

Now onto the giveaway!

This giveaway is for one paperback copy of Miss Scandalous by Nicole Dunlap. Giveaway runs from Saturday April 6th to Friday April 12th, 2013. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States, as well as outside of the US. The author will be shipping the book out after the winner is chosen. Winner is picked by random.org and will need to respond within 48 hours of being emailed, or a new winner will be chosen. 

You can enter this giveaway by commenting on this blog post with the answer to this question: 
What is your favorite book genre? Please include your email address with your answer so I can contact you if you win!

Please visit Nicole Dunlap, the author of Miss Scandalous, at one of these sites:
Website: www.nicoledunlap.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nicoleydunlap
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6535805.Nicole_Dunlap
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorNicoleDunlap
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/ndunlap09/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/116823021665178839801/posts

Paperback winner:



Apr 3, 2013

Egg McMuffin Breakfast Casserole Recipe

This delicious breakfast casserole has all the ingredients of McDonald's Egg McMuffins combined together and baked! Make this for holiday brunch or dinner instead of breakfast!


Egg McMuffin Breakfast Casserole



This delicious breakfast casserole has all the ingredients of McDonald's Egg McMuffins combined together and baked! Use Canadian bacon, sausage or regular bacon, and any cheese you prefer! Drizzle maple syrup on top for that delicious sweet and savory flavor combo! Make this for holiday brunch or dinner instead of breakfast!



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Apr 2, 2013

Book Review: Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky


Summary from Goodreads:
Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&M's out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In Heads in Beds he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know.

Heads in Beds is a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets—not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it’s like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge.


My thoughts: 
I really don't know much at all about the hotel industry, so this book was a huge eye opener for me. Jacob Tomsky comically and cleverly tells the story of his experience working in hotels, and what goes on behind the scenes. He totally makes it seem like the hotel industry is brutal, and after reading this book, I would never want to work in a big hotel. 

I loved the stories about the crazy hotel guests and the types of relationships some of them formed with the employees. I learned that if you have any outrageous mini bar charges on your bill, whether they were from you or not, if you dispute them, more than likely they will be removed. This book is full of fun facts and stories and it will keep you reading from start to finish. I really enjoyed it overall. It's a funny glimpse into a life nothing like mine. That's why I love memoirs so much. 

I rated this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

On the blog... one year ago:
Creamy Pineapple Pudding Dessert




*If you make a purchase from the Amazon link above, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you for the referral.* 

Apr 1, 2013

Penne Pasta with Chicken and Asparagus Recipe




Asparagus is one of my favorite springtime foods. I absolutely adore it! I will eat it raw or cooked, and just love it with pasta! 

This recipe for Penne with Chicken and Asparagus has been a favorite in my sister's family for a couple years. I was super excited when they made it the last time we visited them. This pasta is light and so flavorful. An instant favorite for my daughter and I! I know we will be making this in the near future! Enjoy!!

Thanks to my sister, Shannon from Speaking in Plain Shamish for photographing this dish!

Penne Pasta with Chicken and Asparagus (print recipe)

What you need:
1- 16 ounce box penne pasta
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange pepper, diced
1 bunch slender asparagus spears, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1 inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, as desired

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken. Season with salt and pepper and cook until chicken is cooked though and browned. Remove chicken from skillet.

Pour the broth into the skillet. Stir in the orange pepper, asparagus, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and steam until the asparagus is tender, about 5-10 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet and warm through.

Stir chicken mixture into the pasta and mix well. Let sit for 5 minutes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, stir again and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

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

On the blog... one year ago:
Foil Pack Steamed Veggies


This recipe may be shared at these fabulous blogs!




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