Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's almost Christmas!

Here are my newest reviews:

Hazardous Duty

The Pew

The United States of Arugula

I'm about halfway through my RT books for March (due at the beginning of January) and still getting ready for Christmas. I'm way behind this year, I can' t believe how much stuff I've left until the last minute.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And some more

How My Breasts Saved the World

Dial L for Loser

A couple more coming this week. I decided to start earlier on my RT books so I didn't get caught so behind this month.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Latest Reviews and 2007

I have been so lax here in the last quarter of the year with blogging, and even with reading. I've slowed way down and I'm not sure exactly why it's happening.
Here are my latest reviews:

A Full House of Growing Pains


The Man with the Iron Tattoo

C'est la Vie

I have decided to do a TBR challenge for 2007 and make a point to read at least two books from my tbr shelves each month of the year. I want to read at least one book from each author's last name, and since I'm missing a couple, that should be just about right to reach my goal. So January will be my "A" and "B" author months...the books I plan to read are:

The Bridesmaid by Hailey Abbott and
Riggs Park by Ellyn Bache

I just picked the first book from the A's and the first book from the B's. My RT schedule for December is brutal, so hopefully it will calm a little in January so I can fit this in.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Latest Reviews

Too Many Secrets


52 Family Time Ideas

I think that's it for right now. I'm behind on my write-ups as usual too. Hopefully I'll get at least three more done today and tomorrow so they will be off my shoulders before the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

November Reviews

My newest posted reviews (still way behind)

The Man with the Iron Tattoo


Love You, Mean It

More to come, I'll post as they do...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New reviews

Again, sorry it's been so long since an update from me!

Calm, Cool & Adjusted

Cursed by a Happy Childhood

Bittersweet 16

I have more reviews turned in awaiting posting, and I have four books sitting here waiting for me to review them. Just not enough hours in the day!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Weekly Update

I am slowly catching up. I actually got my RT reviews done a week before the deadline, I'm doing pretty well! I can now try to work on my website review books, I have tons and tons and I get overwhelmed just looking at them.

New this week:

The Sea Serpent of Grenadier Pond

The Christmas Letters

Between: A Girl's Guide to Life

I should have quite a few more next week. I am going to really push myself to get more books read this week.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Recent Reviews

Latest reviews:

Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum

What is Heaven Like?

The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions

Kiss the Cook/Bride

The Red Gloves Collection

It's a double deadline month for Romantic Times, which is keeping me really busy reading review books. Hopefully I'll finish them this week so I can get the reviews written and spend the next few weeks whittling down my other review pile as well as reading a couple of books for fun. I really want to read at least two books from my tbr mountain this month. They keep arriving from paperbackswap and I just don't have time to read them, there are so many that look so good!

I may get to go to the Seahawks game next Sunday, depends on whether the other person hubby invited can go or not.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I'm not a good updater

Sorry for the infrequent updates. I'm not doing a very good job at keeping my schedule straight. I've really overwhelmed myself this fall, and I am not sure what needs to go, but something definitely does. I have two RT deadlines this month, the first is tomorrow and fortunately, I only had two reviews for that one. The next one is at the end of the month, and I have at least four for that one.

Here are my most recent reviews I've had posted:
She Who Watches

RV There Yet?

The Confident Woman

Playstation Nation

I only read 10 books this month, that is an all time low for me. I need to get busy reading much faster.

I am enjoying the new fall TV season. I can't wait for the premiere of Lost this week. At this point, the only new show I'm watching is Vanished, but I'm going to watch The Nine on Wed. All of the other shows are ones from last year and before. I just don't have time for anything new!

Monday, September 04, 2006

It's been awhile!

This has been a crazy end of the summer. We went on vacation to the beach for a week, and then it's been busy trying to get the younger kids ready for and started in school and our older daughter back to college, which is where we delivered her yesterday. I did get quite a few reviews written this past week, I have been working hard! I will get back to my regular routine of recipes and reviews in a week or so, once I have the fall routine down a little better. Until then, here are the latest reviews I've had posted:

Between Heaven and Ground Zero

The Overachievers (excellent)

Tasty Temptations

Consider Lily

Apples of Gold: A Parable of Purity

Landon Snow and the Shadows of Malus Quidam

Real Stuff

Grace Notes

Everyone Worth Knowing


One Cold Night

Fix-It and Enjoy-It! Cookbook

I just finished up my Romantic Times books for the month, and I haven't started anything new today. I have been reading like there's no tomorrow! I do think I'm going to start Pledged by Alexandra Robbins. I loved The Overachievers, and I like Robbins' writing style. Since I was in a sorority in college, I'd like to see how it mirrors my experiences.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Havent' updated for awhile. Things always get so busy when it's RT time of the month. We've also had a lot of activities going on around here--swimming lessons, gymnastics, etc.

Some new reviews posted:

Creating an Intimate Marriage

Irish Girls are Back in Town

Monkey Love

I promise I'll be better with updating once school starts again and life returns to some semblance of a schedule.

Monday, July 31, 2006


Two new reviews

Down Came the Rain

Something that Lasts

Will post some recipes and pictures later.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bluebarb Crunch

Here's my newest review posted:
The Nannies

My mother-in-law gave me a bunch of rhubarb, and being a rhubarb novice, I had no clue what to do with it. I found this recipe in my Bed and Breakfast cookbook:

Bluebarb Crunch
4 cup rhubarb cut into l-inch pieces
2 cups blueberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup water

For Crumble/Crunch Topping
l cup all-purpose flour
l cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter or margarine - melted
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375In a large bowl combine rhubarb, blueberries, sugar, flour, cinn, lemon ju and water. mix well. Pour into a greased 9 by 12" baking dish.For topping, in a small bowl combine topping ingredients, sprinkle topping over fruit. Bake 45 min. until rhubarb is tender.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Well, the other night I had made the chicken marsala, and now I have this big bottle of marsala wine...what to do with it? I didn't have the ingredients to make tiramisu (but I will be getting them soon!) but I did have some berries that needed to be used. So I whipped up some zabaglione.

It was VERY easy.

I put a pot of water on the stove and got the water hot/boiling. Then I used the large stainless steel bowl above and put the following in the bowl:

4 egg yolks

4 teaspoons sugar

4 tablespoons Marsala wine

I wisked the mixture constantly, making sure the bowl didn't touch the water, until it became thick and creamy. It took about 5 minutes. That's it!

It was really delicious with the berries, everyone in the family enjoyed it.

I'm currently reading Family by Karen Kingsbury and listening to The Husband by Dean Koontz

Thursday, July 27, 2006


I love salmon (I can't help but hear Kelly Pickler's pronunciation in my head when I type that). It's very inexpensive here on the west coast at this time of year. I found this recipe in Giada's Family Dinner book and it's delicious. She calls for broiling the salmon in the oven, but I put it on the grill so I didn't have to heat up my kitchen, it worked wonderfully that way.

Broiled Salmon with garlic, mustard, and herbs

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

3/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (I didn't have any so I used dried)

1 Tablespoon white wine

1 Tablespoon olive oil

nonstick cooking spray

6 6-8 oz. salmon filets (I used half a salmon because it was cheaper)

Lemon wedges

In a small bowl, mix the garlic, both mustards, rosemary, and thyme. Mix in the wine and oil. Set the sauce aside.

Preheat the broiler. Line a heavy rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray (I sprayed heavy-duty foil with non-stick spray) Arrange the salmon fillets on the baking sheetand sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Broil for 2 minutes. Spoon the mustard sauce over the fillets. Continue broiling until the fillets are just cooked through and golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to plates and serve with the lemon wedges.

We had fresh green beans and twice baked potatoes along with the salmon. Very delicious meal.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Recipe and a review

Here's another review:
I Did (But I Wouldn't Now)

A couple of weeks ago I made another Rachael Ray recipe, which was a pork tenderloin with strawberry sauce. It was wonderful, although a lot of work. Also had parmesan risotto with it, which even my rice-hating hubby loved.

Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Strawberry Sauce

Juice and zest of 2 limes, plus 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving
1/4 cup coarse-grain mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Two 14- to 16-ounce pork tenderloins, trimmed of fat and cut in half crosswise
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 whole star anise
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup Strawberry Sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a resealable plastic bag, combine the lime juice and zest and the mustard with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the pork in the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. In a medium, heavy saucepan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the onion and garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add the Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, star anise, red pepper flakes and Strawberry Sauce and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Push the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan and keep warm.

3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until the oil ripples. Remove the pork from the marinade and sear on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes total. Place the skillet in the oven and roast until cooked through but still juicy, about 10 minutes for medium. Place the pork on a cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes more. Slice the pork and serve with the sauce and lime wedges.

Strawberry Sauce

2 pounds fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Juice of two lemons (4 tablespoons)

1. Combine the strawberries, brown sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Partially cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are softened and release their juices, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

2. Pour the strawberries into a blender and blend until smooth.

3. Press the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a storage container. The sauce will keep for up to 10 days in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

Parmesan Risotto

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat; add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent.

2. Add the rice and cook, stirring continuously for a few minutes, until the grains are glistening. Increase the heat to high and add the broth and 1 cup of boiling water. Bring the rice to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the rice is al dente, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the risotto from the heat, stir in the lemon zest and Parmesan and season to taste with salt.

Monday, July 24, 2006

New Reviews

Here is my newest posted review:

The Measure of a Lady

I'm currently reading Irish Girls are Back in Town a compilation of short stories by chick lit authors. It's for a long overdue review, I'm mad at myself that I've had it on my piles for so long. I'm so far behind! Will move onto Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger next. Currently listening to The Husband by Dean Koontz, but I haven't heard very many good things about it.

We had turkey burgers for dinner tonight. It's been SO hot, I haven't been cooking much lately. We went to Fort Stevens on Saturday to escape the heat, stopped at a great restaurant in Astoria called Baked Alaska The food was wonderful, I had blackened salmon tacos and LeeRoy had Alaskan Amber Ale battered fish and chips. Service was so-so, but we survived. Ate dinner at Pig N Pancake which is always good after a day of running around. Everyone had breakfast for dinner and we left satisfied. Yesterday we went up to the upper Coweeman river and everyone but me played in the water. This cast is just not wonderful.

Back to reading I go, I have some more pictures from things I made before the heat wave, will post soon.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Chicken Marsala

I have discovered the book Giada's Family Dinners and I'm in heaven cooking! These are fabulous dishes and I have yet to find one my family doesn't like. The other night I made Chicken Marsala with Mustard and Mascarpone and it is all gone! The picture doesn't do the flavor justice. It's heavenly. Here's the recipe.

Chicken Marsala with Mustard and Mascarpone

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets
salt and pepper

2 tablspoons olive oil

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup chopped onions

1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup marsala wine

1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

12 ounces dried fettuccine

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until brown, about 4 minutes per side, set aside.

While the chicken cools, melt 2 tablespoons of teh butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onion and saute until it is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the mushrooms are tender and the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3 inch thick slices. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain. Toss with remaining 3 tablsepoons of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Using tongs, mound the fettuccine on plates. Spoon the chicken over.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Grilled Pizza

I made grilled pizza last Friday night. This is a great summertime meal and it's very easy.

My recipe comes from Weber's Book of Grilled Pizza. We have a gas grill, so that's what I make the pizza on.

You can get dough anywhere, but I choose to make my own because it's so easy.

Basic Dough Recipe

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1 package active dry yeast

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Place lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast on top and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Combine flour and salt. Add to water, 1 cup at a time, until well incorporated. If very sticky, add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until soft and slightly sticky. Add 2 tablespoons oil, mix well until dough feels elastic. Turn dough onto well floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. (I use my Kitchenaid with the dough hook here). Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until more than doubles in volume, about 1 hour. Punch dough down and knead until smooth. Divide into 4 balls and proceed with pizza making.

For pizza

Roll out each piece of dough, generously covering each side with oil. Stack with sheets of wax paper between. Get ingredients ready. For pizza Margherita (shown above) I used mozzarella, some grated parmesan, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, minced garlic, and salt.

Preheat grill. Place dough over direct heat for 2 minutes, utnil bottom is marked and brown. Flip over with tongs. Cover with toppings. Turn off middle burner to bake on indirect heat. Close grill and cook for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bottom is lightly browned.

It is quite delicious, a nice smoky flavor. If I'm feeling ambitious, I put wood chips in a smoker box and that gives it an even better flavor.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Newest Reviews

God's Trophy Women

The Recital

Flirting with Forty

TeenVirtue 2

I'm currently reading The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks. It's a choice for one of my online book groups. Interesting so far, kind of a mix of historical fiction and non-fiction.
I'm going to have to get busy with my RT books here in a week or so. Kids start swimming lessons on the 31st, so that's a good 20 minutes of reading time each day for two weeks.

Friday, July 14, 2006


I just finished Down Came the Rain by Brooke Shields. That definitely hit close to home, wow. Review will be posted soon.

I'm currently reading The Nannies by Melody Mayer. I needed a light YA break. The kids and I are listening to Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett. It's keeping Logan's interest a little more than Grace's, I think it's a little above her head.

Spaghetti a la Rachael Ray

The other night I made spaghetti with mozzarella stuffed meatballs from a recipe from Rachael Ray's Every Day magazine. It was delicious and everyone in the family liked it (even Kimber who hates red sauce)

This isn't my picture, it's the one from the magazine. My camera always seems to be upstairs when I want to take pictures, and hobbling up the stairs is a huge pain with the cast. So I am resorting to "Canned" pictures. I did make the recipe though, and it was fabulous, so take my word for it and make it. Instead of her sauce, I just used two jars of Ragu onion and garlic sauce. I have so much of it and not any crushed tomatoes.

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk or water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, 2 smashed and 1 chopped
Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 pound lean ground sirloin (I used ground turkey breast due to my major hamburger phobia)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1 large egg
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 20 (1/2-inch) cubes
1 pound spaghetti

1. In a medium bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the milk. 2. In a large, wide saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the smashed garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, season to taste with salt and let the sauce simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally. 3. Add the beef, chopped garlic, parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, egg and 1 teaspoon of salt to the soaked bread crumbs and stir with a fork until combined. Place about 2 tablespoons of the mixture in your hand and press a mozzarella cube into the center. Shape the meat around the cheese, forming a ball. Repeat with the remaining meat and mozzarella. 4. Stir the sauce and raise the heat to medium- low. Carefully place the meatballs in the sauce, submerging them completely. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook without stirring for 20 minutes. 5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti, cook until al dente, about 8 minutes, and drain. Toss the spaghetti with the tomato sauce and meatballs, sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve.

I also made Focaccia--partly from a Rachael Ray recipe and partly my own made-up version. I used her ingredients, but not her directions. I didn't have the time to do it like her recipe described.

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (110°F to 115°F)
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cool water (70°F to 85°F)
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary and 1 tablespoon whole fresh rosemary leaves

1. In a medium glass bowl, stir together the yeast, lukewarm water and sugar. Let the mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the microwave with a measuring cup with one cup of water inside. Micro-rise the sponge (I learned this technique from the book Bread in Half the Time) Heat for 3 minutes at 10% power. Rest for 3 minutes. Heat at 3 minutes at 10% power. Rest for 6 minutes.

2. Combine sponge in a mixer bowl with remaining ingredients (except whole rosemary leaves) Mix/knead until dough forms a cohesive ball. Put in greased bowl and repeat micro-rise instructions from above. Preheat oven to 400.

3. Gently transfer dough from bowl to a greased 9 x 9 inch baking dish. Spread dough to cover the bottom of the pan. Gently press fingers into surface and make indentations. Sprinkle coarse salt and whole rosemary leaves over top. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned. Drizzle more olive oil over the top.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I have been cooking...

I've been cooking a lot, I just haven't been posting much. I haven't been taking pictures of what I made either, but I think I can find pictures on the net since all of the recipes have been food network or Rachael Ray recipes.
The other day I made beignets, the recipe can be found here Cream Puffs in Venice

They were actually really good, I was quite surprised since I rarely make anything that requires deep frying. I do recommend trying them out though, because they weren't very difficult to make. I actually might make them again. I made them on Friday morning.

Friday night, I made another Guy Fieri recipe Penne with Cajun Hot Links and Chipotle Shrimp. It was delicious. Instead of the hot links, I used turkey kielbasa, and as per my usual, I used fat free half and half in place of the heavy cream.

1-ounce olive oil

4 hot links, all beef, cut in 6 bias slices

20 (21/25 shrimp), deveined, shelled and butterflied

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup Chipotle Sauce, recipe follows

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound cooked penne pasta

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated plus more for serving

1 tablespoon diced Roma tomato

1 tablespoon diced scallion

In saute pan over high heat, add olive oil and hot links. Sear links until browned. Add the shrimp and cook until pink. Lower heat to medium. Then add cream, 3/4 of the Chipotle Sauce, salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta and the cheese. Toss to combine.
Serve in pasta bowl and garnish with diced tomato, scallions, more sauce, if desired, and grated Parmesan.

Chipotle Sauce:

1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce

3/4 cup canola oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

3/4-ounce Dijon mustard

1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo

3/4-ounce red chili flakes

1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in blender, puree, cover and refrigerate.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

New Reviews!

Finally had some time to get some reviews completed. Got my RT ones done too, it's been quite a productive week.

And God Created the Au Pair

Coupon Girl

Like Dandelion Dust

The Secret Life of Becky Miller

I'm currently reading Reconstructing Natalie by Laura Jensen Walker and I Did (But I Wouldn't Now) by Cara Lockwood

Friday, July 07, 2006

Steak and Salad

Well, I've had a VERY productive day today with the kids at grandma and grandpa's. I've completed all of my RT reviews (except for the book I'm still reading, but will finish that today I hope) and I've written all but one of my online reviews. Yahoo! I'm actually getting some things done! Truly, I feel like I've accomplished so much today. The weather is warm but not too hot, so the breeze blowing through is nice. I'm listening to jazz on the XM radio on my computer, so it's been a treat to work in the peace.

Last night I made Bloody Mary Flank Steaks and Romaine Salads--two more Guy Fieri recipes. They both turned out wonderfully.

Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese-Bacon Vinaigrette
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped red onion (I used white because that's what I had)
1/2 pound bacon, chopped (I used turkey bacon)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 heads romaine lettuce, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (I used Gorgonzola because that's what I had)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill to high heat.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saute pan over high heat. Add the onions and bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy. To the same pan add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
Brush the romaine lettuce with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, place on the grill cut side down, and quickly sear.
Serve the lettuce, cut side up, and drizzle the balsamic dressing over the lettuce. Sprinkle with blue cheese and garnish with cracked black pepper.

Bloody Mary Flank Steak
1 cup vegetable juice (recommended: V-8)
1/2 cup vodka
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
4 tablespoons olive oil
1-pound flank steak
Thoroughly mix all the ingredients except for the flank steak in a 1-gallon zip lock bag. Add the flank steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.
Preheat the grill to high or heat a skillet over high heat. Remove the flank steak from the marinade and wipe the excess liquid off with paper towels. Grill or pan sear both sides, then lower heat to medium and cook to medium rare.
Let the flanks steak rest, covered, with a clean towel for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut on the bias against the grain and serve.

And I did it all wearing the lovely boot! Aren't you proud of me?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

My new companion

Lookie here at my new best friend!
The MRI I had last week shows that I have a partial tear in my PT tendon of my ankle. So now, except for sleeping and showering, I must wear this lovely air cast. It's not too bad, but I don't know what I'm going to do about driving (right foot). The kids are at their grandparents for a couple of days, I have a major review-writing day planned tomorrow, but I need to get at least two done today. I still have most of my last book--The Brushstroke Legacy by Lauraine Snelling ( a hit or miss author for me)--to read.

My goal for today--clean up my e-mail box, then write up two reviews, then lie on the couch and read my book until Big Brother is on.
Watched Rock Star:Supernova last night...wow, brought back a lot of memories about my high school and college days and the rock music I loved then! That's why I love the XM 49 station, all great "later" classic rock songs.

On to try to reach my goals!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Day After

Lots of clean-up now that the 4th of July is over and hubby is back to work and VBS is over. I can't believe (well, yes I can) how much got pushed aside for the last week and a half with so much going on. Today is definitely a day to recuperate!

Here's the salad I made for the bbq yesterday, shoepeg corn salad. It's a recipe I got from the Taste of Home Cooking School. I made it before and it's always a huge hit.

Shoepeg Corn Salad

3/4 cup vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 can (15 1/4 ounces) baby peas, drained

2 cans (11 ounces each) white or shoepeg corn, drained

1 jar (4 ounces) chopped pimientos

5 green onions, chopped

6 celery ribs, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

In a small saucepan, combine first six ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool. In a large non-metallic bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour marinade over vegetables. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally. For best flavor, make 2-3 days before serving.

The other thing I made was sangria

This was not a real recipe. I just "winged" it. I mixed two bottles of merlot with some orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, and about a half cup of sugar. I sliced up an orange, a lemon, a lime, two peaches, and also added some frozen strawberries and some frozen raspberries. Mixed it all up in a big bowl and then chilled it until ready to serve. It was pretty yummy.

I'm finishing up my RT books for the month. I'm way behind on my other reviewing because I've been so overloaded with RT lately. I'm reading Norah's Ark by Judy Baer and I have one more book to read. I have loads that aren't written up, this past couple of weeks has made me a slacker in more ways than one! But fortunately for me, for the October issue I only have seven books (instead of 11 like this month) so I should be able to breathe a little easier.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Finally Updating

I finally have a free moment to update! I have a couple of pics to post. One of Grace's cake from last weekend and one of our new fridge. The cake was fun for the candy party, it had Skittles all over the top of it.

It was a funfetti cake...too cute. The kids really ate it, which surprised me, because usually a lot of cake gets wasted.

Now onto pictures of our new refrigerator.

It's a Maytag Ice2O, has the water and ice in the door and freezer on the bottom as a drawer.

We're definitely enjoying it!

I'll update some more later. I cleared off the camera so I'll be able to post more pictures this week.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

VBS This week

We have VBS this week, and I'm helping. Needless to say, I have very little computer time. I promise! I will post more when the week of craziness is over. I have some cute pictures of Grace's birthday cake (from her candy party)

New reviews posted:

Body Piercing Saved My Life

Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's Going to take a little time...

The kids are out of school, and that means that every single time I sit down to the computer, one or both either a. wants something b. wants me to do something for them or c. says "get off the computer!"whine whine whine, "you are always on the computer!"

So needless to say, I have had precious little time to do any sort of updating. I have been cooking, but my camera is full of pictures that I haven't had time to print out/download onto the computer because of the above reasons. So I don't have pictures of my fabulous flank steak I made last night, or the wonderful spaghetti pie or the banana pudding. Sorry folks!

Logan's gymnastics program is tonight. Then only two more things this week. Grace's tryouts tomorrow, and their last competition on Sunday. Whew!

VBS next week, so it will be another very busy time with not much computer time.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Another Review Update

The Stork Reality

I have got to make some time this week to do some write-ups. I have a huge stack of books sitting here saying "review me!"

Currently reading Straight Up by Lisa Samson. Lots of characters and I'm not very far into it yet. Have been working on Grace's birthday party and living through the week of gymnastics.

Didn't cook last night, was a little burned out after Sunday's extravaganza. I do plan to cook tonight though, spaghetti pie and banana pudding. Yum.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Father's Day Meal

Here is our meal we had for Father's Day. It turned out so well, I was quite pleased. The only disappointment was that I had planned to have peaches, but they didn't get ripe quite quickly enough. Otherwise, it was a great meal.

We had Rib-eye steaks, Roasted Red potatoes, and braised spinach

Prime Rib-eye Steaks with Mustard Parmesan Crust
Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello

Mustard Parmesan Coating:
20 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh, roughly chopped thyme
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 thick rib-eye steaks (about 2 to 2 1/2-inches)
Grey salt and fresh ground black pepper
Olive oil, for drizzling
2 cups fresh, finely grated parmesan cheese

In a pre-heated saute pan over medium-low heat, pan roast the garlic in olive oil, tossing only once. Allow to brown for about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the cloves through a strainer. Allow to cool before mashing roughly with fork. Add thyme to garlic paste and mash that in as well. When they are pasty but still chunky, mix in the Dijon mustard.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Preheat a grill to high.

Season steaks well with salt and pepper. Pound the seasonings in well. Drizzle steaks on both sides with olive oil. Place meat on grill to brown, about 5 minutes each side.

Remove steaks from grill, place on a large cookie tray. Cover top generously with mustard parmesan coating. Top with large piles of parmesan, spreading out to edges carefully with fingers. Place steaks in oven for 8 or 9 minutes.

Braised Spinach
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large red onions, sliced (I only used one)
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 large bunches fresh spinach, washed with water still clinging to leaves, stems trimmed and leaves coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add 1/3 of the spinach and saute until it begins to wilt, about 1 to 2 minutes. Continue adding the spinach 1 handful at a time, sauteing just until it begins to wilt before adding more. Add the soy sauce and crushed red pepper. Saute over high heat until spinach wilts. Season the mixture, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and serve.

For Dessert, we had Chocolate-Coffee Cupcakes with Mocha Ganache and Mascarpone Cream
After I made the cupcakes, I took them out of their paper liners and put them in the bottom of paper cups, it made them look like an espresso and it was too cute. They are SO good. Very labor intensive and a bit complicated, but so worth it.

For the Chocolate-Coffee Cupcakes withMocha Ganache and Mascarpone Cream(makes 30 cupcakes)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoapowder (preferably Dutch process)
1/4 cup instant coffee powder
1 1/2 cups cake flour [such as Swans Down;do NOT use self-rising flour]
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup coffee beans, crushed
8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To Make the Chocolate-Coffee Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 30 standard muffin cupswith paper liners.Combine the milk, cocoa, coffee and 1/4 cup water in a small sauce-pan and bring to a boil, constantly whisking, until the cocoa and coffeehave dissolved. Let cool and pour into a liquid measure.Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer,cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately withthe milk mixture in three batches, ending with the liquid. Fill each muffin cup halfway with the batter. Bake 18 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove thecupcakes from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the Mocha Ganache and Mascarpone Cream

Combine 1 cup of the heavy cream and coffee beans in a small saucepanand bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let infuse for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean sauce-pan and bring back to a boil. Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the hot cream over it, stirring slowly, until the ganache is smooth. Spoon enough ganache over each cupcake to fill the liners to the rim.Using a whisk or in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attach-ment, whip the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream to stiff peaks. Add the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Spoon the mascarpone cream into a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip andpipe the cream on top of the ganache in a circle.

On the reading front, finishing up The Only Best Place by Carolyne Aarsen, it's an interesting story about a woman who moves from the city with her husband to take over his family farm. Lots of interesting emotions come up, I'm not exactly sure if I enjoy it, but it's good. Does that make sense?

Lots of gymnastics this week, Grace's show is tonight, Logan's is Thursday night, and there are tryouts for the pre-team on Friday, then our last Make a Splash on Sunday. Whew! Then VBS next week along with bring a friend for gymnastics.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Being silly

Thought I'd steal this from another blog. Google: your name needs. I googled "Melissa Needs..." and here's what I came up with (after excluding everyone else's blogs with the same thing! I skipped to page 9 of the Google list):

1. Melissa needs to get off the porch rail! (hmmm, interesting)
2. Melissa needs attention and will do “things” for attention (this sounds a bit bad!)
3. Melissa Needs Your Help - Kittens/cats Up For Adoption (I am so not a cat person)
4. Melissa needs blood will you help me? (Nope, don't need any more)
5. after a night in heels melissa needs to take a break (This is true!)
6. MELISSA needs to know whether such a functional request can be executed at that instant (huh?)
7. Melissa needs automotive troubleshooting (I suppose I would if my car was broken)
8. Melissa needs lots of cash and fast, but playing by the rules is getting her nowhere (I love this one)
9. Melissa needs to find homes for Judy’s 2 male cats (Well, at least they aren't my cats this time!)
10. Melissa needs our prayers ( A Fitting one to end on, I always need your prayers!)

New Review

Here is my newest posted review:


Have a ton of other books sitting here on my desk saying, "write me up! write me up!" so I guess I need to do that really soon.

Currently reading Violet Dawn by Brandilynn Collins. Just started, but it's a captivating mystery so far.

Made some chocolate coffee cupcakes today for a Father's Day treat. I'll post a picture and a recipe tomorrow or Monday.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Welcome Weekend!

With the kids out of school I'm having trouble keeping the days straight! Even Grace asked me this morning if we had church today.

Last night I made a chicken club ring--Pampered Chef recipe. It was only hubby and I who ate, but Kimber ate later after she went to Starbucks with a friend. The kids had been to Chuck E. Cheese all afternoon so they were full of pizza and junk food.

Chicken Club Ring
3 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken
4 slices bacon, crisply cooked, drained, and chopped (I used turkey bacon)
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
2 8-ounce packages crescent rolls

Preheat ove to 375. Combine chicken, bacon, 3/4 cup of the cheese, mayo, mustard, and garlic, mix well. Circle crescent rolls around circular baking stone, wide sides facing in. Scoop filling evenly over rolls. Top with tomato slices. Fold pointed ends over filling, tucking under wide ends. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

I make my own crescent rolls using a recipe from allrecipes.com. I make the rolls up through their first rising, then use them in the ring recipe just like the canned crescent rolls. It's much much cheaper than buying them.

Golden Crescent Rolls

2 (.25 ounce) packages active
dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110
degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter or shortening
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
Dissolve yeast in warm water.
Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in remaining flour until smooth. Scrape dough from side of bowl. Knead dough, then cover it and let rise in a warm place until double (about 1-1/2 hours).
Punch down dough. Divide in half. Roll each half into a 12-inch circle. Spread with butter. Cut into 10 to 15 wedge. Roll up the wedges starting with the wide end. Place rolls with point under on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until double (about 1 hour).
Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 12-15 minute or until golden brown. Brush tops with butter when they come out.

I've been working around the house, putting clothes away. Wow, what a chore. Grace changes her clothes so many times a day it's ridiculous! I have put her on a "no changing clothes unless clothes are filthy" restriction.

Back to the house and to reading, I have got to get it in gear!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fettuccine and Pie, oh my!

I will admit, I have enjoyed the show The Next Food Network Star for the past two years. I really liked Guy, the winner from this year. For his last challenge, he made two dishes that I got the recipes for and have made a few times now. They are really tasty and everyone in the family enjoys them.

Tequila Turkey Fettuccini
Recipe courtesy Guy Fieri
1-ounce olive oil
1/4 red onion, cut into strips
1/2 tablespoon minced jalapeno
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 ounces turkey breast, cooked, sliced
1-ounce tequila
4 ounces heavy cream
1/2-ounce fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
9 ounces fettuccini pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 lime wedges, for garnish
2 sprigs cilantro, for garnish
2 tablespoons diced Roma tomato, for garnish
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In saute pan with high heat, add olive oil, onions, jalapeno and saute until translucent. Add garlic and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Add turkey, lightly mix ingredients, careful not to break turkey up to much.

Deglaze pan with tequila, pouring around the edge of the saute pan. Add cream, lemon juice and cilantro. Toss together, then add pasta, and toss ingredients while adding Parmesan cheese.

Nest pasta on plate, pour sauce over pasta. Lay sprigs of cilantro over top, sprinkle tomatoes on top, and crack pepper around the rim of the plate.

Here's how I changed it. First off, I have made this a couple of times. I tried using chicken and I tried using turkey, and I must say, chicken is MUCH better. It doesn't shred apart, and it gives a better flavor in my opinion. I doubled the recipe for my family, because this recipe only says it serves two. I substituted fat free half and half for the heavy cream, but I needed to thicken it a little with flour.

The next recipe is
Breath Mint Pie
courtesy Guy Fieri
6 ounces butter
6 cups chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (recommended: Oreo)
Mint chip ice cream
1 pound mint candy, frozen (recommended: Junior Mints)
1 cup whipped cream, garnish
1 cup chocolate sauce, garnish
12 mint sprigs, garnish

In saute pan heat butter on medium heat. Add cookie crumbs and mix until butter is evenly distributed. Line a half sheet pan with plastic wrap, and cover the bottom of the pan with half of the crumb mixture.

In mixer on lowest speed add ice cream and mint candy. Slowly mix together, trying not to break the mints open. Pour the mixture onto the cookie crumbs and gently spread throughout pan, trying not to break the crumb base. Once evenly distributed, add remaining cookie crumb mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refreeze.

Cut into 12 triangular pieces, garnish with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and mint sprig.

We were all full and satisfied after dinner last night!
Microwave was fixed today...first thing Grace wants me to make when the guy left (9:30 am) was Easy Mac. I managed to hold her off until 11, but she's happily eating it now. I know, I know, I could have made it on the stove, but what a pain! Now to decide on tonight's meal...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Crazy Busy!

I have been absolutely crazy busy the past few days with graduation and school ending and everything. Hopefully things will calm way down now, I'll just have a boatload of reading to do!

The other night I made Parmesan round steak. I found a great deal on center cut round steak, and after searching all over for a recipe, I just ended up making one up.

Here's what I did. I took five center cut round steak pieces and pounded them on both sides really well to tenderize.

Made bread crumbs from one large whole wheat hamburger bun that had been hanging around since last week and no one was eating it :) Grated about 1/3 cup of pecorino romano cheese and mixed it with the bread crumbs. Heated up a skillet with a small amount of olive oil. Whisked an egg in a bowl. Dipped each steak in the egg, then coated both sides with the bread crumb/cheese mixture. Cooked in skillet until b0th sides were browned.

In a 9 x 13 pan, I poured one jar of spaghetti sauce (tomato, garlic and onion chunky Ragu variety) Put the browned steaks on top. Sprinkled over top enough grated mozzarella to cover each piece well. Dumped another jar of spaghetti sauce over the top of that. Covered pan with foil and baked in 350 oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Served it with some parmesan angel hair pasta-roni (the things I do when I don't have a microwave, LOL, I was going to have baked potatoes with it but I forgot how long it takes them to cook in the oven!)

Today was Logan's last day of school, and he's over at a friend's house to sleep over tonight.

I'm reading And God Created the Au Pair and it's very cute. All in e-mail, which is a format I love.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Banana Bread and Graduation

Well, the banana bread turned out great. I used a Cooking Light recipe and it's been moister every day since I made it. Made French toast with it on Saturday evening, and it was delicious. It was dense but tasty.

Banana Bread
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
4 medium sized ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
1 egg, lightly beaten

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine sugar and next three ingredients; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Pour batter into an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 3 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Today was kindergarten graduation. Sob! I can't believe my baby is growing up so fast! I got very teary during the ceremony and when the teacher was giving out awards beforehand. I know, it's inevitible, but time just flies.

I'm currently reading Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury. And although I enjoy her writing, I'm finding myself avoiding this one because I'm a bit burned out on her books after reading so many the past few weeks.

Off to clean a little before dinner!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rosemary Orange Pork Chops

This was a really good meal we had this week. On Wednesday night, our microwave went out, and it can't be fixed until this coming Thursday. That is a huge pain, I never realized how much I use it. I have to be really on top of what I'm making this week as I don't have the microwave to help me thaw things.

Rosemary-Orange Pork Chops and Lemon-Butter Broccolini

From Rachael Ray 365

Zest and juice of 1 navel orange

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup chicken stock or broth

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons EVOO

4 1-inch thick center-cut pork loin chops

1 1/2 pounds broccolini (I used broccoli, can't find broccolini around here)

3 tablespoons butter

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Crusty Bread

In a medium sauce pot over high heat, combine the zest and juice of the orange, brown sugar, chicken stock, rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until reduced by half.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Season the chops with salt and pepper, then add to the hot skillet. Cook the chops for 5 minutes on each side.

While the pork chops are cooking, trim the broccoliini ends. Place the stalks into a skillet and cover with water. Cover the skillet and bring to a boil. Add salt and reduce the heat. Simmer for 5-6 minutes, until tender and bright green.

Drain broccolini and return to the skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Stir and toss until the butter melts, season with salt and pepper.

Add the parsley to the reduced rosemary-orange glaze. Pour the glaze over the cooked pork chops. Toss to coat and transfer to a serving platter. Serve along with the broccolini and some crusty bread.

Really good flavors for late spring!

I'm currently reading Coupon Girl by Becky Motew. It's cute so far. I have eleven RT books for this month, so I have only a short window until I have to start reading them again.

I'm making banana bread right now, because I have this bee in my bonnet to make banana bread French toast. It just sounds so good! I'll keep you informed on how good it turns out.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ok God! I hear You!

I just want to give thanks to God for bringing the book The Secret Life of Becky Miller into my life. Ok, Ok, I hear You! What a wonderful book, and I'm not even finished with it. It is quite convicting about the balancing act we do as wives and mothers, as well as all of the myriad of things I try to cram into my day.

Wow, did I need to hear this!
If any of you stay at home moms out there want to read this book when I'm finished, drop me a comment and I will send it along. In case there are more than one of you, tell me how you try to be a supermom!

Trying again---Cookies

I made some wonderful cookies the other day when Grace had a friend over. I got the recipe from the Cookie Madness site. I substituted semi-sweet chocolate chips for the white, and eliminated the pecans. I also had some dried cherries, which I chopped up and added for a little zing. They were delicious!

White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, stir in the rolled oats, white chocolate chips and pecans. Drop by tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

I'm currently reading The Secret Life of Becky Miller by Sharon Hinck. It's really good and hitting all-too close to home for this stay at home mom!

Let's see if blogger will let me publish...I've been having an awful time!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Apple Cranberry Crisp

I decided to make a dessert for my family last night. I know, this is more of a fall recipe, but I used what I had available, and I made something quick. They didn't care what season it was supposed to be from...they ate every bite!

I mixed up 1/3 cup oats, 1/4 cup flour, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl, then cut in 1/3 cup of butter.

Mixed 3 sliced, peeled apples and some frozen cranberries (fresh frozen, not sauce) in a baking dish, then mixed in a about 1/2 cup sugar. Sprinkled the oat mixture over the top, then baked at 375 for about 25 minutes.

I need to do some more reading, I'm not doing very well getting through the numbers of books I need to.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Spinach Artichoke Tortellini

Another RR recipe...this one was delish! (Like my RR impression?) It really tastes just like spinach artichoke dip!

It made a huge bowl of it, but we ate it all nonetheless. The kids even liked it, once they got over the fact that it had--gasp!--spinach in it. I told Logan to close his eyes and just take one bite. I used my standard phrase, "if you die when you eat the bite, I won't make you finish it." Glad they don't really get that yet, it is still an effective bargaining tool :)

Spinach-Artichoke Cheesy Tortellini--From Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals

1 10-ounce box frozen spinach
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream (I used fat free half and half and it worked great)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
A couple of handfuls grated Parigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt and pepper
1 pound cheese tortellini (I used one bag of the frozen variety)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta. Microwave the spinach on high for 6 minutes to defrost.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat with the EVOO and butter. When the butter melts and is hot, add the garlic. Using a box grater, grate the onion directly into the skillet. Saute the onions and garlic for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the stock, then the cream, and bring the sauce to a bubble. Season the sauce with nutmeg and reduce the heat to low.

Place the defrosted spinach in a clean kitchen towel and wring it dry. Separate it as you add it to the sauce. Stir in the chopped artichokes and the cheese, then season with salt and pepper.

Cook the tortellini according to package directions, about 3-5 minutes. Drain well, toss with the sauce, serve immediately.

Ok...am I the only one who is just now finding out about Take Home Chef? It's a show on TLC and it's great! I want him to find me in the store and come home and make me dinner. But I would be really embarrassed if I wasn't allowed to come in and tidy up a little before they came in! Oh well, it would still be worth it.

I'm still reading the same book as yesterday. I don't have an audio going , I finished up Digging to American and haven't made it to the library yet. Nothing I have on hold has come in--just wait, all of my audio books will come in at the same time!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I'm Done!

Books all read, reviews all written and submitted. Done for the August issue! Now onto a few other review books, first up is Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock by Andrew Beaujon (a non-Christian) LeeRoy finished this one earlier last week and has been bugging me every day to start it so we can talk about it. I had to finish up the RT books, but now I'm going to read this other book before he starts to read it out loud to me!

I'm off to put Grace to bed...hubby and Logan are at a special thing at church, I don't think I'm going to let her wait up.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Fruit Pizza and Shopping

I made a fruit pizza for my women's ministry board meeting last night. It was a big hit and I even got a small piece left over to bring home for my poor, deprived family.

I baked a tube of sugar cookie dough (yes, from the store, I was too busy tye-dyeing in Grace's class yesterday to have any time to make it from scratch, although it would have been tons cheaper) on my Pampered Chef round stone. Let it cool, then mixed a package of light cream cheese with about 1/2 cup sugar, then mixed in a tub of light Cool Whip. Spread it on, then sprinkled with sliced strawberries and blueberries. It was too easy and very yummy. And I even got a deal--the strawberries and blueberries were getting overripe, so the store had them marked at 99 cents a carton, down from $4!

Went shopping at the Vancouver Mall today (Still can't learn to call it by its proper new name) Bought tons of clothes and shoes for everyone in the family, we all really needed some new things. Well, all except for Kimber, but she got some things anyway.

I'm going to go watch a movie with the family (Millions) I still have one more RT book to read before tomorrow night, and three reviews to write up. Why am I such a procrastinator?

Friday, June 02, 2006

RR Day! Pappa al Pomodoro

I checked out Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals from the library, and last night I made a pot of Pappa al Pomodoro.

Yes...I know, I need to do a little work with my food photography! LOL.

It was really delicious, I served the remainder of the ciabatta bread on the side with some balsamic vinegar dip.

Pappa al Pomodoro--from Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals

1 loaf chewy bread, such as ciabatta

1/4 cup EVOO

1 sprig fresh rosemary

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 small onion

1 cup chicken stock

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 cup fresh basil, about 20 leaves

Salt and black pepper

Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano or grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Chop about 2 cups of the bread and reserve the rest to pass at the table.

Heat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add about 1/4 cup of the EVOO, 4 times around the pan, then add the sprig of rosemary and the garlic. Peel and halve the onion, , and, using a box grater or other hand-held grater, grate the onion directly into the soup pot. Saute the mixture for 5 minutes, then remove the rosemary stem. Add the chicken stock and the tomatoes and bring it to a bubble. Add the bread chunks and stir until the bread has melted into the soup; the result is a soup-er thick consistency. Tear or shred the basil and stir it into the soup. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and ladle the soup into bowls. Top with lots of shaved Parm.

It's really delicious, good melded flavors and perfect for a rainy evening (which we had yesterday)

Tonight I have a big women's ministry board meeting, it's always interesting, but a lot of work.

Today I helped in the kids' classes. In Grace's class, it was a big mess. We tye died t-shirts for their last day of school party--ugh, my hands are very stained. We also painted "hot air balloons" that they had made from paper mache.

I'm off to read a little before I have to go get Logan from school.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

My Marvelous May Reading Month

Religiously Transmitted Diseases by Ed Gungor (A)
Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack (B)
Alaska Twilight by Colleen Coble (C+)
When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin (A-)
Lime Ricky by Jill Winters (B)
Violette Between by Alison Strobel (C+)
Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle by Beverly Bartlett (B-/C+)
Design on a Crime by Ginny Aiken (C)
The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan (A)
Redemption by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley (B)
Remember by Kingsbury and Smalley (B)
Return by Kingsbury and Smalley (B)
Rejoice by Kingsbury and Smalley (B-)
Reunion by Kingsbury and Smalley (B+)
Fame by Karen Kingsbury (B-)
Audio #6 for the year Don’t Say a Word by Barbara Freethy (B)
Forgiven by Karen Kingsbury (B)
Derailed by James Siegal (B)
Found by Karen Kingsbury (B)
The Reluctant Burglar by Jill Nelson (B+)
Interior Motives by Ginny Aiken (C)
Bad Connection by Melody Carlson (B-)
Pompeii by Robert Harris (C)
Georgia on Her Mind by Rachel Hauck (B)
Abiding Darkness by John Aubrey Anderson (C+)

24 books and an audio--and I finished my first for June today! I just couldn't squeeze it in last night.

Lime Cookies

I made the pasta with tomato and basil yesterday, but was in such a rush to get out the door I forgot to take a picture. So next time I'll have to show you what it looks like. I decided to make lime cookies this afternoon. Couldn't find a recipe that was exactly what I wanted, so here's what I came up with...

Soft Lime Sugar Cookies

1 1/3 cups butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 Tb. lime juice

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, mix well. Add vanilla and lime juice. Mix in flour and baking powder. Scoop onto ungreased cookie sheet, bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees, just until bottoms turn light brown, don't overbake or they will be dry.

Frost with vanilla frosting mixed with some lime juice.

Not very complicated, but they're yummy and hit the spot. I'm going to make a Rachael Ray soup recipe for dinner, I'm already dreading the kids' reaction. They just don't seem to like anything.

I finished the Yada Yada book--wow, what an incredible series. If you haven't read any of them, I urge you to check them out. Moving fiction.

Currently reading Murder, Mayhem, and a Fine Man by Clair Burney. Still listening to Digging to America, it's keeping me interested.

Well, I have one more review to write up, two more books to finish before Sunday night. I can do it if I work hard!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Made some enchiladas yesterday. Used the recipe for Pineapple-Black Bean Enchiladas from the Pillsbury Bake-off, but I added chicken. My husband is not a huge vegetarian fan--he'll occasionally eat it, but it's not his favorite. I also used fresh pineapple, which was a huge hit with my kids.

In other news--we paid a deposit on a cruise last night! We're going over our 10th anniversary on a Carnival cruise to Mexico. It's actually the first annual "Believe in Marriage" cruise offered by Families Northwest, but we knew it was meant to be because it's actually over our anniversary (Valentine's Day) And my parents are free to come up and take the kids to school and activities, so we're going! We don't have passports, so I went to the post office and got the applications today so we can get going on those.

Today I'm doing a final test run for my Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil that I'm entering in the Southern Living Cook-Off. I'm going to have Kimber prepare the recipe according to my directions and see if I've left anything out or anything's unclear. I'll post a picture of the finished product tomorrow. Grace thinks I'm nuts taking pictures of food.

Still reading the Yada Yada book, after I get my errands done today I've got to get busy with it, because I have two others after it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Apple Cranberry Bundt Cake

Here's a picture of my Washington Caramel Apple Cranberry Bundt Cake. It's really good...and even if I don't win (and I'm not really expecting anything) I am so happy. I have re-discovered how much I enjoy cooking and creating in the kitchen. It's fun to have something to inspire me to do it--thus a contest is a great thing. And my family is happy too!

I am going to enter something in the Southern Living contest as well...gotta work on that today because the deadline is next week.

I'm also reading up a storm. I'm currently reading The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught by Neta Jackson. Only two more books after this one, I should be doing well for this month.

We close on our house today! I am so excited to finally be done.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Changing the format a little

I am getting back into cooking more, so I'm going to start posting a picture of what I make each day. I've challenged myself to make something each day, no matter how small.

Yesterday, I made a recipe from the Pillsbury Bake-Off, Choco-Peanut Butter Cups

Here's the recipe:

roll (18 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated peanut butter cookies
cup Hershey®'s premier white chips (6 oz)
1 1/2
cups creamy peanut butter
cup Hershey®'s semi-sweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
Nature Valley® oats 'n honey crunchy granola bars (2 pouches from 8.9-oz box), crushed (3/4 cup)*

2 reviews
2 ratings
Preparation Directions:
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray or shortening. Cut cookie dough into 24 slices. Press 1 slice in bottom and up side of each mini muffin cup, forming 1/4-inch rim above top of cup (dust fingers with flour if necessary). Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. With tip of handle of wooden spoon, press dough down in center of each cup to make room for 2 tablespoons filling.
Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, melt white chips and 3/4 cup of the peanut butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Divide mixture evenly into cookie cups (about 1 tablespoon each). Refrigerate 10 minutes.
In same 2-quart saucepan, melt chocolate chips and remaining 3/4 cup peanut butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Divide chocolate mixture evenly on top of peanut butter mixture in each cup (about 1 tablespoon each). Sprinkle crushed granola bars over top of each. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Remove from muffin cups before serving.
24 cookie cups
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Break up cookie dough into bowl; knead or stir 1/4 cup flour into dough. Divide dough into 24 pieces; press 1 piece in each cup.

I used homemade peanut butter cookies, because I'm too cheap to buy the refrigerated variety. They turned out really well, and the family is enjoying them immensely.

I'm going to enter the Nordicware bundt cake contest, so yesterday I made up a recipe for an apple cranberry bundt cake, and today I made it. I'm going to hold off on posting the recipe until after the deadline for the contest (I know, I'm paranoid) but I'll post a picture tomorrow.

Recent review posted (still in the middle of my RT books, six down, three to go)

Saved Folk in the House

So I should be posting a bit more regularly and a little more variety!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Forgot a couple! Plus a link

Forgot these two reviews!

Lime Ricky

Princess Izzy and the E Street Shuffle

This is such an interesting blog...check it out

More Reviews

I have been busily reading as my RT deadline is again quickly approaching. Here are my latest reviews:

Violette Between

Authority in Prayer

Better Dads, Stronger Sons

Weird Planet: Lost in Las Vegas

I'm currently reading Reluctant Burglar by Jill Nelson, who used to be the head inspirational reviewer at RT. I'm intrigued so far, it's a good book. I'm listening to Digging to America by Anne Tyler.

Back to the reading, I never seem to get caught up!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

This week's reviews

Here are my latest reviews:

I Can't Do It All

When Crickets Cry

Alaska Twilight

I'm currently in the middle of Karen Kingsbury's Redemption series. I have the latest to review and I wanted to refresh myself. Haven't had much reading time, so it's slow going. I need to get busy because I have a slew of RT books this month.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

And another one!

Here's another review:
A Year in the World

Currently reading Violette Between by Alison Strobel. It's a strange book, but I just started so I'll reserve judgment for a little while.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday Update

Reviews posted this week:

Religiously Transmitted Diseases

Goodbye, Jimmy Choo

Zoe Sophia in New York

I'm currently reading Lime Ricky by Jill Winters and listening to Don't Say a Word by Barbara Freethy

We did a huge amount of painting today, painted Kimber's entire bedroom. Now to get it put back together tomorrow.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

More quotes

"I'm never bored and I never mind waiting--anywhere. Unless, of course, I've forgotten my book, in which case I just run off and buy another one. I read at the DMV, in movie lines, in bank teller lines, or when the shuttle from L.A. to San Francisco is four hours late. Layovers in unfamiliar airports are a treat, as are jury notices that arrive at my home and give me license to sit around and read all day, knowing that I'm doing my civic duty."

"Books teach you how other people think, and what they're feeling, and how they change from ordinary beings to extraordinary ones. Often they are so appealing and intellignet, you'd rather spend time reading aobu them than doing anything else. And unlike life, if you don't like what you're reading, you can slam the book shut and...peace. "

More later!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My April Reads

Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark (B-)
House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker ( C)
Pink by Marilynn Griffith (C+)
A Girl’s Best Friend by Kristin Billerbeck (C+)
A Year in the World by Frances Mayes (B+/A-)
The Notebook Girls by Julia Baskin et al (B-)
Uncharted by Angela Hunt (B+)
Waking Lazarus by TL Hines (B)
Goodbye, Jimmy Choo by Annie Sanders (B-)
Sandpiper Drift by Vanessa Del Fabbro (B-)
Sisterchicks in Gondolas by Robin Jones Gunn (B)
Journey to Love by Charlotte Hubbard (D-)
Relentless by Robin Parrish (C-)
Last Light by Terri Blackstock (B+)
Night Light by Terri Blackstock (B)
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (audio) (B-)


Haven't had any reviews posted this week. Finished up my Romantic Times books so I haven't had much time for any other reading.

I did finish Literacy and Longing in L.A., and while it was pretty good, I wish it had been a little longer. It seemed really short. I had many quotes I marked, here is one:

" I collect new books the way my girlfriends buy designer handbags. Sometimes, I just like to know I have them and actually reading them is beside the point. Not that I don't eventually end up reading them one by one. I do. But the mere act of buying them makes me happy--the world is more promising, more fulfilling. It's hard to explain, but I feel, somehow, more optimistic. The whole act just cheers me up."

I'm currently reading Alaska Twilight by Colleen Coble. I'm listening to Don't Say a Word by Barbara Freethy. Both are decent so far.

Gotta go make dinner!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

And here I am on Wednesday!

I have a couple of new reviews posted:

The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel

Woman First, Family Always

We head to California (yes, again) tomorrow morning. I have two more books to finish for RT before Monday, which should be pretty easy with the 16+ hours I'll be riding in the car over the next two days. Fortunately I don't get carsick!
I have to read Relentless by Robin Parrish and Night Light by Terri Blackstock. I also have a reader-reviewer book that has a review due May 3, so I need to read that one too:Literacy and Longing in LA

We're finishing up the house this week. Down to the last few things. We're having some open houses this weekend, pray that it sells quickly!

Back to go seal the tile on the shower...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday Review Update

Here are my most recent reviews. I'm currently working my way through my Romantic Times books for the month. I have three more to go before Monday, which should be ok. Especially since we're driving to California again. Kimber's done with school for the year this week...so early, I know! We have to go down and pick her up on Thursday and Friday. I'm really hoping to get some serious reading time in the car.

Latest reviews:
Drawing The Line


The Notebook Girls

I just finished reading Sisterchicks in Gondolas by Robin Jones Gunn ( I love this series, really touching books) and am getting ready to start Journey to Love by Charlotte Hubbard.

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous. I'm headed outside for a little reading before I have to go get Logan from school.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Books Read in 2006

Here are the books and ratings I've read so far in 2006. I will include April when the month is over and will post monthly after that.


Strictly Confidential--Terri Reed (C+)
Small Town Secrets--Sharon Mignerey (C-)
Be My Neat-Heart--Judy Baer (B)
Promise of Forever--Patt Marr (B-)
A Very Special Delivery--Linda Goodnight (C+)
Child of Mine--Bonnie Winn (C-)
Maggie's Story--Dandi Daley Mackall (B)
Red Velvet--Sandra Byrd (B)
The Art of Undressing--Stephanie Lehmann (C+)
Grace in Thine Eyes--Liz Curtis Higgs (A-)
Can You Keep a Secret--Sophie Kinsella (Audio) (B)
Claire Knows Best--Tracey Bateman (B-)
Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle-RK Mortensen (B)
Magdalene--Angela Hunt (C+)
House--Michael Ruhlmann (B)
Rekindled--Tamera Alexander (B-)
Magic Hour--Kristin Hannah (B)
Heavens to Betsy--Beth Patillo(C)
Earth to Betsy--Beth Patillo (C)
The Butterfly Farm--Diane Noble (B)
Everything's Coming Up Josey--Susan May Warren (A-)
A Vow to Cherish--Deborah Raney (B-)
Emily Ever After--Anne Dayton and May Vanderbuilt (B)


April in Bloom--Annie Jones (B)
The History of Love--Nicole Krauss (Audio) (B)
A Leap of Faith--Lenora Worth (B)
And Baby Makes Five--Debra Clopton (C)
Along Came Love--Carrie Turansky (C)
The Ransom--Kathi Mills-Macias (C+)
Things We Once Held Dear--Ann Tatlock (B+)
The Novelist--Angela Hunt (A)
Showdown--Ted Dekker (B/B+)
Tales from the Crib--Jennifer Coburn (B-)
Fashionably Late--Beth Kendrick (B-)
On this Day--Melody Carlson (B-)
Flee the Night--Susan May Warren (C)
Forever Odd--Dean Koontz (Audio) (C+)
Escape to Morning--Susan May Warren (C)
Expect the Sunrise--Susan May Warren (B+)
The Hunted--Fred Stoeker and DW Smith (C)
The Widows' Club--Joyce Livingston (B-)
The Forsaken--Stephen Arterburn and Mike Moscoe (C)
Mackinac Island--Gaymer Martin et al (C+)
Less than Frank--Lynn Bulock (C)
Leaves of Hope--Catherine Palmer (C)
If You Could See Me Now--Cecelia Ahern (Audio) (B)


A Time to Mend--Angela Hunt (B-)
Front Porch Princess--Kathryn Springer (B+)
Stormcatcher--Colleen Rhoads (B-)
Through the Fire--Sharon Mignerey (C+)
When Silence Falls--Shirlee McCoy (C-)
A Family Forever--Brenda Coulter (B)
When Dreams Come True--Margaret Daley (B-)
A Match Made in Bliss--Diann Walker (B-)
Lessons from the Heart--Dorothy Clark (C)
Miss New York Has Everything--Lori Jakiela (B-)
In Plain Sight--Lorena McCourtney (C+)
The Scent of Lilacs--Ann Gabhart (C+)
Unspoken--Angela Hunt (A-)
Savannah from Savannah--Denise Hildreth (B-)
The Tenth Circle--Jodi Picoult (B-)
Leigh--Lyn Cote (C-)
Carly--Lyn Cote (C+)
Fair Warning--Hannah Alexander(C+)
The Jane Austen Book Club--Karen Lee Fowler (Audio) (C)
In the Enemy's Sights--Marta Perry (C+)
On Wings of Deliverance--Elizabeth White (B)