Sunday, March 31, 2013

Even sugar-free these are GOOD

Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from: the pioneer woman

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 c coconut Oil
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp)
  • 8 c (plus 1 c extra) whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (heaping) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (scant) baking soda
  • 1 T (heaping) salt
  • 1 c melted butter
  • 2 c sugar or erythritol
  • generous sprinkling cinnamon
maple frosting
  • 1 package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 T pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 c confectioners' sugar or erythritol (thrown in blender previous to use)
  1. For the dough, heat the milk, oil, and honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
  2. Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. 
  3. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  5. To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.
  6. To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.
  7. Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.
  8. Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. One “log “will produce 20 to 25 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)
  9. Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. 
  10. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.
  11. While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add maple syrup, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar; continue beating until well combined and smooth.
  12. Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor. They only get better with time… not that they last for more than a few seconds. Make them for a friend today! It’ll seal the relationship for life. I promise.

In honor of Easter. EGGS

Deviled Eggs
  • 12 whole Eggs
  • ½ c Mayonnaise
  • 1 T White Vinegar
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ tsp Dry Mustard
  • 2 dashes Tabasco Sauce
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Onion Powder
  • ¼ tsp Pepper
  • 6 whole Green Olives Stuffed With Pimento, Cut In Half (optional)
  • ½ teaspoons Paprika Or Parsley, For Garnish
  1. Place eggs in a large pot covered with water. Bring water to a boil, cover the pot and shut off heat. Leave for 10 minutes. Then take eggs out of water with a slotted spoon. Slightly crack the egg to open the shell a little, then run under cold water to peel off the rest of the shell. Once all are peeled, cut eggs in half length-wise.
  2. In a bowl, combine mayo, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, Tabasco, salt, onion powder and pepper. Scoop out the yolk part of each egg and put it into the mayo mixture in the bowl. Set the whites aside. 
  3. Squish the yolk mixture with a fork to make a slightly smooth consistency. I like tiny bumps of yolk in it, but you can make it as smooth as you like.
  4. Spoon the mixture into each half of egg white to fill the hollowed part. To garnish, cut green olives in half and press one into each egg if desired. Sprinkle with paprika and or parsley for garnish. 

DANG Good Waffles

Brown Butter Waffles

  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • 3 T sugar or erythritol
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. sea salt
  1. Preheat an oven to 200°F. 
  2. Have ready a rimmed baking sheet. Preheat a waffle iron. 
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the milk solids in the bottom of the pan turn a toasty brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly. 
  4. Add the milk, egg yolks and vanilla, and whisk until combined.
  5. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the milk mixture and whisk just until combined (a few small lumps are okay). 
  6. In another bowl, using a clean whisk or a handheld mixer, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Scoop the whites onto the batter and, using the whisk, gently fold them in evenly. 
  7. If your waffle iron is not nonstick, lightly and evenly oil the grid. According to the manufacturer’s instructions, spoon the batter over the grid, close the lid and cook until the waffle is golden brown, usually about 4 minutes. 
  8. Transfer to the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve the waffles piping hot.
  • 2 cups cherries or strawberries
  • 3 Tbs. orange blossom or other mild honey
Halve and pit the cherries and place in a bowl. Add the honey, stir to mix evenly and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to allow the cherries to release some of their juice. Serve the waffles piping hot with a big spoonful of the cherries.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

I LOVE shrimp. And pasta. And this dish.

Olive Garden Shrimp Scampi
  • 1 1/2 lb medium fresh shrimp, shelled
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 c white wine (or 1/2 c chicken broth + tsp. apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1/2 lb angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat oil in a saute pan. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute; do not brown. Add butter, wine, red pepper, salt and pepper and reduce by half. Add Italian seasoning.
  2. Add shrimp and cook 1-2 minutes until fully cooked.
  3. Transfer pasta to plate and top with shrimp mixture, and Parmesan cheese.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Before I Fall

Before I Fall **1/2
by Lauren Oliver
Book Type: YA, Realistic Fiction
Summary: What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.
The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death--and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I really didn't like how this book started out. It was all teens drinking, swearing, talking about sec, doing drugs, drinking alcohol... I guess what's considered the teenage experience. I guess I was clueless in high school and didn't live the experience or was even really aware of it. The main character is super duper popular and awful to everyone. I also hated that. I've never understood why people are so mean to other people sometimes. Anyway. This chick dies and relives the same day over and over again. The way she responds makes perfect sense, so I thought it was realistic in that respect. I did enjoy after about the fourth repeated day when she begins to try and figure out why she keeps repeating the same day over and over again. In the end she figures out what's most important and tries to live her last day to the fullest and still help at least one person. The book progressed slowly, had a lot of disappointments along the way, but the end was satisfying... Except for the fact that the girl remains dead. But it made sense. That's why she's trapped anyway right? Because she's dead and had unfinished business? Anyway. The book wasn't great, it wasn't bad... It was just okay for me! :)

Fairy Tales Revamped ~The Princess Books~

Princess of the Midnight Ball ***
by Jessica Day George
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale
Summary: Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above. 
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book is based on the Brother Grimm tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I read the Grimms version and have to say that the author followed the story very well. It follows the plot almost perfectly, with ONE big exception. The princesses in George's story are under a curse that requires them to dance all night long. In the Grimm's tale they choose to and drug the princes. I preferred the princesses being helpless to stop the cruelty that was befalling themselves and those around them. This story was much cuter and more romantic than the Grimm's story. The soldier is endearing, the princesses are more relatable, and the ending was much more exciting. I thought this was a very fun, cute little fairy tale. I really enjoyed reading it!

Princess of Glass ***
by Jessica Day George
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale
Summary: Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other's countries in the name of better political alliances--and potential marriages. It's got the makings of a fairy tale--until a hapless servant named Eleanor is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book is a sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball. The main characters are different and the story takes place in a different city with a different bad guy... BUT the main character was IN the first story. She is one of Rose's little sisters. The story is a major twist on Cinderella. Surprisingly I liked it as much as the first book. I thought the main character was a lot of fun. Both of these books were well developed with loveable characters that you just want more of. Fun little remakes of some classic fairy tales :).

Princess of the Silver Woods ***
by Jessica Day George
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Fairy Tale
Summary: When Petunia, the youngest of King Gregor's twelve dancing daughters, is invited to visit an elderly friend in the neighboring country of Westfalin, she welcomes the change of scenery. But in order to reach Westfalin, Petunia must pass through a forest where strange two-legged wolves are rumored to exist. Wolves intent on redistributing the wealth of the noble citizens who have entered their territory. But the bandit-wolves prove more rakishly handsome than truly dangerous, and it's not until Petunia reaches her destination that she realizes the kindly grandmother she has been summoned to visit is really an enemy bent on restoring an age-old curse. The stories of Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood get a twist as Petunia and her many sisters take on bandits, grannies, and the new King Under Stone to end their family curse once and for all.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book was just as fun as the first two. I liked Petunia as a main character. She's spunky like Poppy but she cares a lot about her family like Rose. I thought Oliver was cute, a fun addition to the stories. This story is like the sequel to The Twelve Dancing Princesses with a splash of Little Red Riding Hood thrown in. It was cute, clever, and fun. I thought that this book was a nice little addition to the previous books in this series. If you like the first one then this one is worth reading as well.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I LOVE bagels. They are SO GOOD. YUMMY. So it was time for us to attempt to make our own. That way we know what's in them and we know they're healthy. These are healthy bagels but they are still quite delish!
Honey Whole Wheat Bagels
  • 4  to 4 1/2  c whole wheat flour
  • 1 pkg yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 c warm water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 T honey 
  • Water + 1 T honey
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 c raisins
  • 4 tsp dried garlic
  • 4 tsp dried onion
  • 4 tsp poppy seeds
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinammon
  1. Stir together 2 cups of the flour, the salt and the yeast.  Add in the warm water and 3 Tablespoons honey.  Gradually add in the remaining flour. 
**If you are going to blend anything into your dough, now is the time to add it! Such as cinnamon raisin or blueberries.
  1. Dump out  dough and knead the flour until smooth and elastic. Cover the dough and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into twelve equal parts. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Begin shaping each piece of dough into a nice ball.  Stick your finger in the middle of the ball and pull it apart to create about a 2 inch hole.   
  3. Lay it onto a buttered cookie sheet or baking stone. Continue until all the bagels are formed. Let them sit until your 20 minute timer goes off. 
  4. Turn the broiler on in your oven. Broil your bagels for 2 minutes on each side.
  5. Meanwhile bring a big pot of water to a boil.  Stir in the remaining 1 T. honey. Put 4-6 bagels into the water, turn down the heat and simmer for seven minutes, turning the bagels over once during that time. Continue to boil your bagels until they are all done.  Let them drain on a towel for 1-2 minutes.
 **If adding toppings brush with egg wash and sprinkle with toppings on both sides now.
  1. Bake at 375 ° for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Bean Trees

The Bean Trees ***
by Barbara Kingsolver
Book Type: Realistic Fiction
Summary: Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: I thought this was an interesting book. The story was unlike any other I've ever read. It was very heart felt and real. I enjoyed that it took place here in Tucson. The main character (Taylor) is interesting. I didn't really know what to make of her at first but by the end she has grown up a lot and I really liked her. She basically has this little Indian baby dropped in her lap with no warning, no explanation, and no expectations. She finds that this little girl has been severely beaten in her short life and decides to go ahead and keep her. Raise her. Give her a home. In time Taylor grows to truly love this little girl and it terrified of being a bad mother. It is a story about life and growing up. It is about taking the lemons life gives you and making some dang good lemonade. It is about fate and a free-spirit. It is about love. It was a good story. Simple but sweet. In the end I enjoyed it very much. It's not dramatic or full of adventure, it is just life.

The Clockwork Century Series

Boneshaker ****1/2
Book Type: Steampunk, Adventure, Zombie
Summary: Boneshaker derives its title from the Bone-Shaking Drill Engine, a device designed to give Russian prospectors a leg up in the race for Klondike gold. Unfortunately, there was one hitch: On its trial run, the Boneshaker went haywire and, long story short, turned much of Seattle into a city of the dead. Now, 16 years later, a teenage boy decides to find out what is behind that mysterious wall. Can his mother save him in time? Zombie lit of the first order.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book is awesome. Need I say more? :) Really though. This book was fantastic. The zombies are oober creepy but not the focus of the story. They are a great plot device. Right when everything seems to be going well, BAM ZOMBIE ATTACK. But the zombies aren't the bad guys... The humans are!
So Zeek sneaks into Seattle to try and prove that his dad wasn't a criminal mastermind who purposefully destroyed the city, even though it's crawling with zombies. His mom (Briar) races in after him to save his life. They each in turn find people who are crazy enough to be living in Seattle. On purpose. Yeah. I would choose to live in a zombie infested city filled with a noxious gas that kills and reanimates you in seconds upon breathing it in... Not. Did I mention that several of the people living in the city are missing body parts because they were injured in the Blight (noxious gas) and had to remove limbs to keep from turning zombie?? Broken flesh equals bad news! Also they have to wear face masks whenever outside, be absolutely silent, and incredibly stealthy in order to remain alive. Which obviously leads to them needing insane filters to drag healthy safe air from miles above the city into their underground, tomblike homes and keep out the deadly air right above them. Insanity! But. Makes for a very exciting, grungy, cool book. I love the feel of the steampunk books. They make you feel grungy and dirty the whole time. Reading this book you are on the edge of your seat wondering when the next round of zombie destruction will occur. The story is told mostly from Briar's perspective with inserts from Zeek. You follow both of them as they dodge zombies, search for a past that is uncertain and future that is even less certain. It is an action-packed, edge of your seat kind of book that I absolutely loved. Check it out!

Dreadnought ****
by Cherie Priest
*Companion books to Boneshaker*
Book Type: Steampunk, Adventure, Zombie
Summary: Nurse Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news: Mercy's husband has died in a POW camp. On top of that, a telegram from the west coast declares that her estranged father is gravely injured, and he wishes to see her. Mercy sets out toward the Mississippi River. Once there, she'll catch a train over the Rockies and--if the telegram can be believed--be greeted in Washington Territory by the sheriff, who will take her to see her father in Seattle.
Reaching the Mississippi is a harrowing adventure by dirigible and rail through war-torn border states. When Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Reluctantly, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.
What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwhackers, then vigorously attacked by a band of Rebel soldiers. The train is moving away from battle lines into the vast, unincorporated west, so Mercy can't imagine why they're so interested. Perhaps the mysterious cargo secreted in the second and last train cars has something to do with it?
Mercy is just a frustrated nurse who wants to see her father before he dies. But she'll have to survive both Union intrigue and Confederate opposition if she wants to make it off the Dreadnought alive. 

summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book is a companion book to Boneshaker. The second book in this series is called Clementine, but it pretty much doesn't exist... Basically it is impossible to find. But you don't need it. This story is great all by it's self. That is something that is really cool about these books, they all take place in the same world and time period. But the characters are all different. You don't have to read any other book in the series to really understand the story you're reading. It's great! This book also has a strong female lead. She is fearless and intelligent. She is traveling across the country on her own in a dangerous and scary world. She experiences terrifying odds while trying to reach the father she barely knows. It was a blast following her across the country during a steampunk, zombie infested war! Cherie Priest is awesome, her books are so much fun to read, they're well written, engaging, exciting, suspenseful, and enriched with a great cast. Awesome book. Love it.

Ganymede ***
by Cherie Priest
Book Type: Steampunk, Adventure, Zombie
Summary: The air pirate Andan Cly is going straight. Well, straighter. Although he’s happy to run alcohol guns wherever the money’s good, he doesn’t think the world needs more sap, or its increasingly ugly side-effects. But becoming legit is easier said than done, and Cly’s first legal gig—a supply run for the Seattle Underground—will be paid for by sap money.
New Orleans is not Cly’s first pick for a shopping run. He loved the Big Easy once, back when he also loved a beautiful mixed-race prostitute named Josephine Early—but that was a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. Jo’s still thinking about him, though, or so he learns when he gets a telegram about a peculiar piloting job. It’s a chance to complete two lucrative jobs at once, one he can’t refuse. He sends his old paramour a note and heads for New Orleans, with no idea of what he’s in for—or what she wants him to fly.
But he won’t be flying. Not exactly. Hidden at the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain lurks an astonishing war machine, an immense submersible called the Ganymede. This prototype could end the war, if only anyone had the faintest idea of how to operate it…. If only they could sneak it past the Southern forces at the mouth of the Mississippi River… If only it hadn’t killed most of the men who’d ever set foot inside it.
But it’s those “if onlys” that will decide whether Cly and his crew will end up in the history books, or at the bottom of the ocean.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: I have really enjoyed Cherie Priest's books, but this one was a little different for me. One of the main characters is a prostitute. Granted Cherie Priest doesn't delve into those details too much, but it is a big part of the story... I did really like her as a character, and the other main character is endearing... But other than that, the story was just really slow. The zombies are barely in the book... The action is minimal... It's just not as exciting as the other books. It's written well as always and the story is interesting... It just takes forever for anything exciting to happen and it doesn't last very long. But the ending hints at more stories to come that are more focused on the zombie epidemic... So maybe those will be more of what I'm looking for!

Inexplicables ***1/2
by Cherie Priest
Book Type: Steampunk, Adventure, Zombie
Summary: Rector “Wreck ‘em” Sherman was orphaned as a toddler in the Blight of 1863, but that was years ago. Wreck has grown up, and on his eighteenth birthday, he’ll be cast out out of the orphanage.
And Wreck’s problems aren’t merely about finding a home. He’s been quietly breaking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own supply of the sap he sells. He’s also pretty sure he’s being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know—Zeke Wilkes, who almost certainly died six months ago. Zeke would have every reason to pester Wreck, since Wreck got him inside the walled city of Seattle in the first place, and that was probably what killed him. Maybe it’s only a guilty conscience, but Wreck can’t take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall.
The walled-off wasteland of Seattle is every bit as bad as he’d heard, chock-full of the hungry undead and utterly choked by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there's the monster. Rector's pretty certain that whatever attacked him was not at all human—and not a rotter, either. Arms far too long. Posture all strange. Eyes all wild and faintly glowing gold and known to the locals as simply "The Inexplicables."
In the process of tracking down these creatures, Rector comes across another incursion through the wall -- just as bizarre but entirely attributable to human greed. It seems some outsiders have decided there's gold to be found in the city and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get a piece of the pie unless Rector and his posse have anything to do with it.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book was better than Ganymede for me. It had more action and adventure. However, there were hardly any zombies, which was kind of disappointing. But I like how it pulled together the first 3 books. Most of the characters from previous books are in this novel, which is fun to see. The main character was not my favorite. He's such a punk, he drove me a bit nuts... But he's a teenager who has had a difficult life up to this point, so I forgave him his flaws... at least a little bit. :) The inexplicable was pretty crazy. It was fun to have a new monster in these stories, at least for a while. And the bad guys in this story were new characters, so that was interesting as well. The ending to this book left it open to a great follow up. I look forward to the next one. I'm sure it will be just as exciting as the first two once again. Yay!

Ruby Red Trilogy

Ruby Red ***1/2
by Kerstin Gier
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Summary: Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.
summary found on goodreads
My Review: Imagine this. You have a cousin that is beautiful, intelligent, talented, special. . . Very special. She can travel through time. Okay, she hasn't done it yet. But she will. It's her destiny. Because she was born on the right day. What about you? Oh. You're average. In pretty much every way. Until the day everything changed. That's right. You're walking down the street when suddenly you get dizzy and fall down. When you stand up everything looks different. You think "Man I must have hit my head REALLY hard." No. You didn't. YOU traveled through time. YOU. How can that be? You're not special. You weren't born on the right day. And everyone, EVERYONE agrees with you. Turns out everyone was wrong. You are very special. And you're destiny may very possibly change the world. Are you ready for it? No. Do you have a super hot guy you're supposed to travel through time with? Yes. Does he think you're worthless? Also yes. AWESOME. What a great day! Can't you just feel the excitement buzzing through your veins? Gwyneth can't. And I can't say I blame her. I'd freak out a bit if I suddenly zipped through time with no training, no preparation for this moment. How many times would you let yourself travel through time uncontrolled before you told someone? I would probably tell everyone right away and laugh in my cousins face "who's the SPECIAL one NOW? HUh?? Yeah that's right, ME." Okay maybe not. Maybe I would crawl in a corner and pray it doesn't happen again a few times before I'd tell anyone. Either way. This story was a lot of fun. I am looking forward to the rest of the series. I want to know if I figured out the major plot twist that I feel is coming. I feel it in my BONES. . . :) Unfortunately the rest of the series won't be sold in the states for a while... Maybe I should learn German? Oh yeah, the books were originally written in German. Translated by someone British so best read in a British accent. Hmmm...

Sapphire Blue *** 1/2
by Kerstin Gier 
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Summary: Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.
At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book was even better than the first! More action, more drama, more mystery, more twists and turns... I have no idea where this story is going or how it is going to wrap up in one more book. If you like the idea of time travel and teen drama and young love... Pick up this series. It is a blast. You'll Love it. Trust me. Fun Fun Fun! Does Gideon really love Gwen? Why is she so special? How is her gift going to change everything? What is Gideon's special gift? Will they gather all of the blood or will they discover a secret that will change their lives forever? Who can she trust? Who is on her side? I am looking forward to finally getting my happy ending... Or will it be happy? Gideon is so hot and cold. There's a huge life changing secret out there floating in the stratosphere and Gwen is destined to be affected by it... But how?

Battle Royale

Battle Royale **
Dystopian, Thriller, Horror, Alternative history
Koushun Takami's notorious high-octane thriller is based on an irresistible premise: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill one another until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan - where it then proceeded to become a runaway bestseller - Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world. Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available for the first time in the English language.
summary found on goodreads
. I personally found The Hunger Games a much better story. Battle Royale was nowhere near as disturbing or thought provoking on a personal level as The Hunger Games. The violence is ridiculous, and even from the first chapter the plot is so obvious. Don't read this book. Stick with The Hunger Games. Like I said, it is a MUCH better story with a plot and purpose that I found sorely lacking in Battle Royale.

The Evolution of Caplurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate ****
by Jacqueline Kelly
Book Type: YA, Historical Fiction
Summary: Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century. 
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book is absolutely adorable. I love books with strong female leads. Calpurnia is an adorable, spunky little girl. She is so full of life and curiosity. She is always exploring the world around her and she loves to spend time with her grandfather, absorbing as much information from him as she can. She goes on a few little adventures and learns what's truly important in this life and what doesn't matter. She loves her family dearly and has many fun and realistic interactions with her brothers. This book is not your classic girl book. It is hilarious and real. I love how genuine the main character is. This is a book for everybody. :) I would highly suggest picking this up when you're looking for a fun summer read this year.

CLASSIC ~The Grimm Fairy Tales~

The Grimm Fairy Tales ***

For almost two centuries, the stories of magic and myth gathered by the Brothers Grimm have been part of the way children—and adults—learn about the vagaries of the real world. Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow-White, Hänsel and Gretel, Little Red-Cap (a.k.a. Little Red Riding Hood), and Briar-Rose (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty) are only a few of more than 200 enchanting characters included here. Lyrically translated and beautifully illustrated, the tales are presented just as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm originally set them down: bold, primal, just frightening enough, and endlessly engaging.
summary found on goodreads

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Rubbed Pork Loin with Apricot Glaze and Sauerkraut
source: Lisa Hawks
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 1 (2 lb) boneless pork loin
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 2 tsp. sugar (or instead of oil and sugar - 1 tsp. coconut oil)
  • 1 c sliced onion
  • 2 c sauerkraut, drained
  • ½ c all fruit apricot preserves, divided
  • ½ c water
  1. Preheat oven to 425-degrees. 
  2. Combine garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl; rub evenly over pork. 
  3. Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add pork to pan and brown on all sides. Transfer to a baking dish coated with cooking spray. 
  4. Add onion to pan; sauté until slightly browned. Add sauerkraut and sauté 1 min. Arrange mixture around pork in dish. Brush pork with 1/3 of apricot preserves. Pour ½ cup water over sauerkraut. 
  5. Bake for 15 min. Brush pork with 1/3 of apricot preserves; bake for 15 min. Brush with remaining preserves; bake another 15 min. or until meat thermometer registers 165-degrees. Remove from oven and let stand ten min. before slicing. 
  6. Serve with sauerkraut.

Healthy pancakes! YUM

Whole Wheat Pancakes
source: King Arthur Flour
  • 4 c white whole wheat flour
  • 1 c unbleached all-purpose flour OR gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 c old-fashioned or rolled oats
  • 3 T sugar
  • 3 T baking powder
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T baking soda


  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. buttermilk OR a combination of plain yogurt and milk
  • 1 large egg
  1. To make the mix: Grind the oats in a food processor until they're chopped fine, but not a powder.
  2. Put the flour, oats, and all other dry ingredients into a mixer with a paddle. Mix on slow speed. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature, or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.
  3. To make the pancakes: Whisk together 1 cup of mix, i cup oil, 1 cup of buttermilk, and 1 large egg. Don't worry if it seems thin at first: the oats will soak up the milk, and the mix will thicken a bit as it stands.
  4. Let the batter stand for at least 20 minutes before cooking.
  5. Heat a lightly greased griddle to 350°F (if you've got a griddle with a temperature setting; if not, medium-hot will do).
  6. Drop the batter onto it in 1/4-cupfuls (a jumbo cookie scoop works well here) to make a 4" diameter pancake. If you have English muffin rings, use them; they make a perfectly round, evenly thick pancake.
  7. When the edges look dry and bubbles come to the surface without breaking (after about 2 minutes, if your griddle is the correct temperature), turn the pancake over to finish cooking on the second side, which will take about 2 minutes.
  8. Serve pancakes immediately, or stack and hold in a warm oven.

Not terribly healthy dessert...

BUT it is certainly not the worst dessert you could have either :)
Peanut Butter Bars
  • 1 16oz. jar natural peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c honey 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer until blended.  Spread batter into glass pan. You can spread chocolate and peanut butter chips on the top before baking or jam if you so wish. 
  3. Bake for around 15-20 minutes. They should be a beautiful golden brown color when done.

Another Low Sugar Dessert

Fudgy Macadamia Nut Brownies
  • 1/2 c almond butter
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 1/2 c coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 c raw cacao
  • 1/4 c pitted dates, packed
  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 c macadamia nuts, chopped and divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 11 x 7 Pyrex dish
Place dates in a small bowl and cover with very hot water and set aside for at least 10 minutes.  
In a medium bowl whisk together almond butter, peanut butter, coconut milk, eggs and vanilla.  
Drain dates and process in a food processor or high-speed blender until smooth, whisk into the wet mixture.  Mix in salt and cacao powder and stir until smooth.  
Add chocolate chips and half of the chopped macadamia nuts, mix until incorporated.  Pour batter into the prepared dish and sprinkle remaining nuts on top of the batter.  
Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, top will start to slightly crack around the edges when the brownies are done, cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.
Allow to sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and these brownies are good. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days and these brownies are devine. Mmm. The fridge is magic to these brownies!
**other nut butters can be substituted for the almond or peanut butter

I LOVE Alfredo. MM mm.

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo
inspiration: Rachel Ray

  • 8 oz whole wheat fettuccine
  • 2 T EVOO
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 T fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 T gluten-free flour OR white flour
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 3/4 c parmesan, grated
  • 1-2 chicken thighs
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 6 mushroom, sliced 
  • 1/2 c pine nuts
  1. Coat a frying pan with olive oil, place chicken in pan, and season with salt, white pepper, text joy seasoning or seasoned salt. Cook through. Remove chicken and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add mushrooms to the pan. Add more oil if necessary. Cook until softened. Add mushrooms to chicken.
  2. Steam broccoli and add to chicken and mushrooms.
  3. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to chicken and veggies.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the EVOO over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and chopped sage and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Whisk in the flour until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth, milk, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring gently, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.
  6. Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture and toss. Stir in 3/4 cup parmesan. Top with the sage leaves and more parmesan.

This soup is SO good!

Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup with Dill
source: closet cooking
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 small potato, cubed
  • 1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 4 oz white cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 T dill, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan.
  2. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the chicken stock, milk, potato and cauliflower and bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
  7. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until melted.
  8. Add the dill and stir.

No sugar added ice cream

Stevia Ice Cream
source: Russell
  • 2 c milk
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • 3/4 c cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 T natural peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. liquid stevia
  1. Mix all ingredients until well combined. Pour into ice cream maker, churn approximately 20-30 minutes.

Oh my GOSH this is good.

Pork Roast with Mushroom Gravy
  • 1 (5-7 lb) pork loin or butt
  • 1 whole head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • Hot Sauce to taste
  • 1 T Essence (recipe below)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 T teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 T butter
  • 4 T flour
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, green and white parts chopped separately
  • 2 c beef stock
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 lb button or cremini mushrooms
  • 2 T teriyaki sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Pierce the roast all over with the tip of a paring knife and stuff one clove of garlic into each hole, followed by a few drops of hot sauce. Sprinkle on all sides with Essence and garlic powder and rub into the meat. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the roast evenly on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, and enough water to come 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Add the teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and stir to combine and loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and add a more water as necessary to come 1-inch up the sides of the pan. Continue to cook until very tender, about 3 1/2 hours total cooking time.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the gravy, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat, until milk chocolate-colored roux is formed, about 15 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and the white part of the green onions, and cook until the vegetables are soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the beef stock and heavy cream and cook until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until tender and golden brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and teriyaki sauce to the gravy and simmer until flavors come together, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  6. Remove the roast from the oven and transfer to a platter. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Strain the pan juices through a fine mesh strainer into the gravy and simmer until heated through and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve over the carved roast.
Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
  • 2 1/2 T paprika
  • 2 T salt
  • 2 T garlic powder
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 T cayenne pepper
  • 1 T dried leaf oregano
  • 1 T dried thyme
  1. Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

YAY a YUMMY sugar-free dessert!

Sugar-Free Cheesecake
  • 3/4 c graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 c milk
  • 1 (1 oz) package cheesecake flavor sugar-free instant pudding mix
  • 2 pints fresh fruit, sliced (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc)
  1. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted coconut oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
  2. Press the mixture into an 8-inch pie dish. Refrigerate while making filling.
  3. Beat cream cheese in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until softened. reduce the speed to low, and gradually beat in milk, a little at a time (mixture will be watery). Use a rubber spatula to scrape cream cheese from the sides of the bowl, if necessary.
  4. Beat in pudding mix until the filling is thick and smooth.
  5. Spoon half of the cream cheese filling into the bottom of the graham cracker crust.
  6. Spread half the fruit over the filling.
  7. Repeat cheesecake layer and fruit layer.
  8. Chill pie in refrigerator until set and cold, at least 1 hour.
If you ever try one of our recipes we would love to hear your feedback! Let us know if you like them or if you make any changes! We love comments! :)


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