Archive | This Book Is Making Me Hungry! RSS feed for this section

This Book Is Making Me Hungry! + Review: Sea Rose Lane

30 Jun

51hxZPHwTQL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who’s invaded the house with her motley crew.

As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

 

irenepicbio1(From the author’s website.) Irene Hannon is a bestselling, award-winning author who took the publishing world by storm at the tender age of 10 with a sparkling piece of fiction that received national attention.

Okay…maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But she was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest conducted by a national children’s magazine. And she likes to think of that as her “official” fiction-writing debut!

Since then, she has written more than 45 romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have been honored with two RITA awards—the “Oscar” of romantic fiction—and she is a six-time finalist. Her books have also won a Daphne du Maurier award, a Carol award, two HOLT Medallions, a National Readers’ Choice Award, a Retailers Choice Award and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. One of her novels was also named by Booklist as a top 10 inspirational fiction books of 2011. In addition, she is a Christy award finalist.

Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full-time. She is happy to say she has no regrets!

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing. A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.

When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.

My Impressions:

Irene Hannon is a go-to author for me. I have always loved her romantic suspense, and now she is my favorite for contemporary romance. Sea Rose Lane is the second book in her Hope Harbor series. A few characters from the first book make appearances, but it is easily read as a standalone novel. But my recommendation is to start at the beginning of the series — you will not want to miss any visit to this picturesque town on the Oregon Coast that is filled with people that quickly become friends (at least fictional friends 🙂 ).

DSC06478 Arch rock OregonSo what’s to like about Sea Rose Lane? Besides the true-to-life and endearing characters, the wonderfully detailed setting and a sweet, sweet romance, Hannon crafts a story a reader quickly sinks into. This book is not just a romance, but a story of hope and community. There are several story lines that, while secondary to the romance thread, bring a depth to the book with complex relationships, issue-oriented plot lines and lots to think about! There are also some unexpected characters — two seagulls and a seal — that add a touch of whimsy. And you will definitely be charmed and intrigued by the taco-making artist who seems to know an awful lot about what is going on in this small town.

I absolutely loved Sea Rose Lane! A perfect choice for a Summer reading.

 

Highly Recommended!

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revell for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

ne0107_chocolatecake.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeAs with several of Hannon’s books, this one made me hungry! Besides the fish tacos served up by Charley, Eleanor makes a mean fudge cake! So, of course, I had to look up a recipe to share. The one I chose is from Nigella Lawson, courtesy of the Food Network.

“Eleanor’s” Fudge Cake

Ingredients

For the cake:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup best-quality cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup corn oil
1 1/3 cups chilled water

For the fudge icing:
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line the bottom of 2 (8-inch) cake pans.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring cup whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended. Using a standing or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you’ll need another large bowl for this is using the hand mixer; the standing mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed. Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins. And actually, you could easily do this manually; I just like my toys and find the stand mixer a comforting presence in itself.

Bake the cakes for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out on the rack to cool completely.

For the icing:
Melt the chocolate in the microwave – 2 to 3 minutes on medium should do it – or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.

In another bowl beat the butter until it’s soft and creamy (again, I use the stand mixer here) and then add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until everything’s light and fluffy. I know sifting is a pain, the 1 job in the kitchen I really hate, but you have to do it or the icing will be unsoothingly lumpy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.

Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.

This Book Is Making Me Hungry! + Review — Seeing Things

8 Apr

41r1XzO5CML._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Birdie Wainwright see things that aren’t there – purple flowers growing out of floors and alpine slopes where her stairs ought to be.It’s just her macular degeration acting up. Nothing is going to stop this tango-loving grandmother! When she breaks her ankle side-stepping a “boulder”, Birdie’s visions take on form and voice as Huckleberry Finn. Birdie and Huck explore the complexities of life, and Birdie discovers more than she imagined possible about love family, reconciliation – and hearing from God in unexpected, albeit utterly delightful, ways.

 

 

 

71R-IYF0fxL._UX250_Patti Hill (in her own words) —

It might be more exciting to tell you what I’m not. I’m not a pirate. Or an astronaut. Or an opthamologist, which would be amazing.

The next best thing – honest! – is being a storyteller.​

Although you and I don’t know each other, when you read my stories, we’ll travel together and meet amazing characters you’ll be thinking about long after the story ends. I love that.

When not writing, my favorites things are reading, hiking, photography, friends, and good food. Boring, right? It gets worse. I’m happily married to Hunky Hubby, the model for all things wonderful about men. I’m the mom to two grown sons and the mother-in-law to a sweet gift from God. And I’m owned by the wonder dog, Tillie. Life is good in Colorado. I hope it’s good where you are, too.

I really, really do.

I’m working hard to release novel #7 by April 2016, The San Clemente Bait Shop and Telephony. My main character talks to the past on an antique telephone and discovers a clue to her missing brother. She also finds love, eventually.

My Impressions:

I have had Seeing Things on my Kindle for a while now. When I finally had a break between review books, I dove into this sometimes quirky, all the time touching story of family. Patti Hill has a different way of seeing things from other authors, and for that I am thankful. This contemporary novel explores the way families interact — with hurt feelings and rejection and love and forgiveness. Birdie had a lot to teach, but also a lot to learn, and so did I. If you like contemporary family drama, make sure you check this one out. It is also FREE for Kindle Unlimited!

Characterization is key in Seeing Things. Birdie Wainright is a great character. She is a very active and vibrant senior citizen who lives with her age-related macular degeneration (AMD) with graciousness and style. When a fall puts her in the middle of her son’s semi-dysfunctional family, she is relegated to the guest bedroom. But in typical Birdie-style she puts both feet (one good/one injured) into the middle of the mix. Other characters — Andy her distracted son, Suzanne her sometimes passive/sometimes aggressive and always stressed daughter-in-law and Fletcher her angst-ridden teenage grandson — are all ripe for intervention with varying degrees of success. And you will love the supporting and supportive cast of housekeeper Lupe and The Bats, other women living with low-vision realities. And did I mention the imaginary character of Huck Finn? He plays an important role in the ultimate healing of the family.

Even though I had a bout with (mercifully temporary and partial) blindness early on in my journey with Multiple Sclerosis, I never had to deal with a world in which glimpses of clear vision are marred by a gray fog. Birdie’s AMD was an eye-opener for me! (Please excuse that really bad pun.) But what Birdie couldn’t see, she trusted by faith in God. Her prayers for her family, or as she put it, lowering them through the roof to reach Jesus, are lovely and loving. One particular prayer for Suzanne shows the real-life struggle to pray for those who are our enemies. It is also laugh out loud hilarious!

Fletcher introduces Birdie to the wonders of Asian food with heartburn and hallucination-inducing Shu Mai with Spicy Mango Sauce. Oh, my mouth was watering. So I have included a recipe for the dim sum favorite at the end of this post.

Seeing Things has been out for a while (2009), but still a great read from Patti Hill. I rank this one highly recommended and a good bet for book club discussions!

Highly Recommended!

Audience: adults.

Great for book clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

BIKE_Shrimp-and-Pork-Dumplings_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeShrimp and Pork Shu Mai Dumplings (From Food Network)

Ingredients

Pork and Shrimp Filling:
2 pounds large peeled and deveined shrimp
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
5 cloves garlic, smashed
4 green onions, chopped
4 egg whites
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 4-ounce can water chestnuts, minced

Wrappers:
One 10-ounce package round wonton wrappers
Napa cabbage leaves, for lining the steamer
Canola oil

Directions

Wrappers:
For the filling: In the bowl of a food processor, add the shrimp, ground pork, sesame oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, green onions, egg whites, lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pulse the ingredients until smooth, 3 to 5 times. It should be somewhat chunky, not totally pureed. Put the filling into a bowl and fold in the water chestnuts.

To determine if the filling is seasoned well, make a small patty, about 2 tablespoons. Place a small saute pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Once heated, add the tester patty and cook on both sides until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and place onto a paper-towel-lined plate and taste. Adjust seasoning to the remaining filling if needed.

Line each tray of your bamboo steamer with cabbage leaves and cover with the lid. Bring 1 to 2 inches of water to a boil in a large, wide pan. Set the bamboo steamer over the pot. Continue to add water as needed.

Place a wonton wrapper on a clean surface and add about 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Brush the edges of the wrapper with water. Fold and pleat as you gather the wrapping around the filling, leaving the top of the filling uncovered. Gently tap the shu mai on your work surface, flattening the bottom and allowing it to stand upright and make a basket shape.

Put the shu mai in the cabbage-lined steamers and cover with the lid. Steam the dumplings until cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes.

1010129To achieve the full effect of these Shu Mai, serve with Spicy Mango Sauce (from Allrecipes).

Ingredients:

3/4 cup finely minced mango
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
juice from one lime
1/2 small Thai chile pepper, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon hot chile paste (such as sambal oelek)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Stir mango, rice vinegar, lime juice, Thai chile pepper, garlic, and hot chile paste in a bowl until well combined. Cover and let rest 30 minutes. Stir in cilantro.

This Book Is Making Me Hungry — Thin Ice by Irene Hannon

17 Feb

Unknown-1Have you ever read a book that made you hungry with all the talk of cooking and eating? Most of the books that do that for me are centered around food. In Irene Hannon‘s latest romantic suspense novel, Thin Ice (review HERE), the twisting turning plot and the chemistry between the characters take center stage, but . . . they sure do eat a lot, sharing meals as they meet concerning an FBI investigation. One of their favorite places to strategize is Panera Bread, one of my favorite places to lunch. I started craving the Autumn Squash Soup while reading Thin Ice and have yet to find satisfaction. The closest Panera is in a neighboring town and requires planning to eat there. So I found a recipe adapted/developed by Can’t Stay Out of The Kitchen — hope it does the trick!

 

Panera-Breads-Autumn-Squash-Soup-IMG_5677-540x405Panera Bread’s Autumn Squash Soup

Fabulous copycat recipe of Panera Bread’s Autumn Squash Soup. This one’s filled with butternut squash, pumpkin, apple juice, half-and-half, vegetable broth and seasoned with cinnamon and curry. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds. This soup is gluten free.

Serves: 8

Ingredients

1 extra large butternut squash
2-3 tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 15-oz. can Libby’s Pumpkin
1 ½ cups apple juice
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 ½ cups half-and-half
1 ½ tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450°.
Peel squash.
Remove seeds and cut in chunks.
Place in baking dish or on cookie sheet and drizzle with oil.
Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Bake at 450° for 25-30 minutes or until fork tender.
Mash squash with a potato masher and place in a large stock pot.
Add pumpkin, apple juice, half-and-half and vegetable broth.
Puree ingredients with an immersion blender until well mixed.
Add honey, curry, cinnamon, salt and pepper and heat through about 10-15 minutes at a low simmer.

To serve, garnish bowls of soup with roasted pumpkin seeds.

Notes

Adjust the apple juice, vegetable broth and half-and-half according to how large your butternut squash is. If the squash is smaller, decrease liquids. If it’s a whopper you may have to increase this amount.

This Book Is Making Me Hungry! + Book Review — One More Last Chance

4 Sep

One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong left me hungry for more! Not only did I want to read more books in her A Place to Call Home series, but I wanted some of the New Mexico Green Chile Stew served up at the Dip n Dine in the small town of Last Chance. So here are my thoughts on the book and a recipe that Carlos may even have been proud to make!

UnknownSome things never change . . . and some things change you forever.

Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason–because it doesn’t change. After a relationship gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town. As the new owner of the Dip ‘n’ Dine, he’s shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.

As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance–just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.

Cathleen-Armstrong-hi-res-199x300Cathleen Armstrong is the author of Welcome to Last Chance, winner of the ACFW Genesis Award for Women’s Fiction in 2009 and the first volume in the series A Place to Call Home. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi, but her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.

 

My Impressions:

I really liked Cathleen Armstrong’s novel, Welcome to Last Chance. But I think I liked this book even more. She introduces three new characters to the already strong cast found in book 1. And while this book may be contemporary romance, the small town feel and the themes of change and fitting in make this more than a simple love story.

Chris Reed is the new owner of the Dip n Dine in Last Chance, New Mexico. He has great hopes for adding creative new dishes to the diner’s menu, but there’s strong opposition from the cook, Carlos, and some of his clientele who think any change is bad. Sarah Cooley has come back to Last Chance to teach second grade and she likes things just the way they have always been. But nothing ever stays the same as the two find out. With the arrival of Olivia, Chris’s seven year old niece, Chris and Sarah are thrown more and more together. Can they stay just friends.

Characters are a strong element of One More Last Chance. I loved the ensemble cast that make their way from the first book, including wise Elizabeth, opinionated Juanita, and stubborn Carlos. Chris and Sarah are highly likable characters that the reader knows from the start are meant for each other. Then there is Olivia, a kid who hides her vulnerability behind a tough veneer. The main characters are believers and take their faith seriously, but are just like the rest of us as they struggle with trust, insecurity and fitting in. The faith message is natural, never preachy. Armstrong also creates a small town feel that makes the reader want to settle in.

One More Last Chance can be read as a standalone novel, but I recommend you start with book 1. You won’t want to miss anything about the people or the place Armstrong has created.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(I purchased this book for my Kindle. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

1042620The Dip n Dine is famous for Carlos’ Green Chile Stew. A New Mexico staple, this recipe is courtesy of the Santa Fe School of Cooking.

 

 

Green Chile Stew

Serves 8

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds beef sirloin or pork butt, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 cups chicken or beef broth
1 pound red or white potatoes, cut in 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes
2 to 3 teaspoons salt, to taste
3 cups roasted, peeled, chopped green chile or to taste
3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, to taste

Heat the oil in a 6-quart pot over high heat and brown the meat in
batches. Set aside. In the same oil, saute the onions until golden.
Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Return the meat to the pan along
with any juices that may have accumulated. Add the broth, potatoes,
salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour, un-
til the potatoes are tender. Add the green chile and the red bell
pepper, and cook 15 to 20 minutes more. Add the cilantro, stir and serve.

Side Bar: At the school we use locally grown green chile when making
the stew. It is roasted over a fire or gas flame, peeled and chopped.
When the chile is not in season, we use roasted, peeled, chopped, frozen
green chile. You could also use freeze-dried green chile in place of the fresh.
A combination of mild and hot chiles produce a more balanced flavor.

 

This Book Is Making Me Hungry! Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon and Cranberry Nut Cake Recipe

20 Aug

One of the main characters in Irene Hannon‘s latest contemporary romance, Hope Harbor, is a cranberry farmer. Her aunt is known for her yummy cranberry nut cakes. There was sooo much talk about the deliciousness of these cakes, that I started wanting some too! Here is a recipe I found that seems to fit the bill. Enjoy the info on this great novel and the recipe that I just have to make.

51wiX-IuOqL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life–and love–altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives — including their own.

 

 

Cranberry Nut Cake Recipe (courtesy of thekitchen.com)

529f5b24697ab07726003a86._w.540_s.fit_Makes one 10-inch springform cake. Alternately: Four 4-cup loaves or 24 to 30 cupcakes.

3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature for 1 hour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups cranberries (12-ounce bag)

Optional pecan topping:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup pecans, unroasted

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan (or a collection of smaller pans. This make 10 to 12 cups of batter.)

Use a stand mixer or hand beaters to beat the eggs and sugar until very smooth and increased in volume. If using a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 4 to 7 minutes, using the whip attachment. If using hand beaters, beat on high speed for 6 to 8 minutes. The egg and sugar mixture will double in volume and turn very pale yellow, leaving ribbons on top of the batter when you lift the beaters.

Beat in the butter, vanilla, and almond extract, if using. Beat for 2 minutes or until the butter is smoothly incorporated.

Use a spatula to fold in the flour, salt, and cranberries. The batter will be quite thick. Spread gently into the prepared pan.

To prepare the optional pecan topping, heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir. Add the pecans and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the butter and sugar mixture is shiny and smooth and the nuts are well-coated with the butter and sugar. Spread over the cake batter.

Bake 60 to 80 minutes for the springform. For smaller pans, start checking after 30 minutes, but expect small loaves to take at least 40 minutes. Tent the cake with foil in the last 30 minutes of baking to keep the top from browning (this is especially important for the pecan topping).

Cool for 20 minutes then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the cake. Cool for an hour before serving.

The cake keeps and freezes well. To store, wrap the fully cooled cake tightly in plastic wrap and leave in a dry, cool place for up to 1 week.

To freeze, wrap the fully cooled cake in plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature, still wrapped.

This Book Is Making Me Hungry! + Book Review — Demise in Denim

17 Apr

0591ccdc09f18615f320696c61a955edWhen Reagan Summerside turned the first floor of her old Victorian home into a consignment shop, she never imagined she’d be harboring a fugitive in her attic. But after a dead man is found in a bathtub and local lawyer Walker Boone is accused of doing the dirty deed, she suddenly has a new houseguest.

Purchase a copy of Demise in Denim HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

10917865_733950283342411_129660116418082754_nDuffy Brown loves anything with a mystery. While others girls dreamed of dating Brad Pitt, Duffy longed to take Sherlock Holmes to the prom. She has two cats, Spooky and Dr. Watson, her license plate is Sherlok and she conjures up who-done-it stories of her very own for Berkley Prime Crime. Duffy’s national bestselling Consignment Shop Mystery series is set in Savannah and the Cycle Path Mysteries are set on Mackinac Island.

My Impressions:

Demise in Denim is the 4th book in Duffy Brown’s Consignment Shop Mystery series. Set amid the historic squares of Savannah, it is all that a cozy mystery should be. Colorful and quirky characters, a curious and meddlesome amateur sleuth, a hunky love interest and a mystery full of twists and turns are all found in this novel. Told from the first person perspective of Reagan Summerside, proprietor of the Prissy Fox consignment shop, the novel can be read as a standalone.  With an interesting mystery, Demise in Denim could be used as a guide to local cuisine! Reagan and her many sidekicks fuel their investigation with meatloaf sandwiches from Parker’s, barbecue from Wall’s and late night snacks of Tabasco popcorn from Pinkie Masters Lounge. Demise in Denim is a fun and flavorful read, but be aware there is some profanity.

While many of the sites noted in Demise in Denim do exist, there were a couple of eateries that are purely ficitional. But the food really does need to be real! So in honor of Cakery Bakery’s sprinkle donuts and best friend Chantilly’s mac and cheese, here are two recipes you can make yourself.

Baked-Funfetti-Donuts-1.-These-taste-just-like-your-favorite-sprinkled-donuts-at-the-bakery.-And-theyre-so-simple-to-make-at-home-3Cakery Bakery Sprinkle Donuts (courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:

DONUTS
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (careful not to overmeasure)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (gives them that “bakery donut” taste)
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) milk*
1/4 cup (60g) Greek yogurt*
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles
GLAZE
1/4 cup (60ml) milk*
2 cups (240g) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
extra sprinkles to sprinkle on top, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

For the donuts: whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the milk, yogurt, and egg together until smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla, whisking until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick. Fold in the sprinkles gently to ensure they do not bleed their color. I use these rainbow jimmies and they do not bleed.

Spoon the batter into the donut cups—I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag for ease, as pictured above. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling 2 ∕ 3 –3 ∕ 4 of the way full.

Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow the donuts to slightly cool before glazing. I find the glaze “sets” easier onto cooled donuts.

For the glaze: combine the glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk until the glaze is smooth. Remove from heat and immediately begin dunking the donuts, one by one, into the glaze. I simply dropped each donut into the saucepan and moved it around to coat evenly. Transfer each donut to a wire rack over a baking sheet to catch the glaze drippings. Take each donut and dunk again if you have enough glaze leftover. Sprinkle with additional sprinkles.

Donuts taste best eaten the same day, though they may be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for 2 days.

Additional Notes:

*Skim milk, 1%, 2%, whole, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or rice milk is OK.

*Sour cream or nonfat, low fat, vanilla, plain, Greek, or regular yogurt is OK.

*You may make this recipe into 8-10 muffins using a muffin pan. Bake at the same temperature for 18 minutes or until lightly browned.

 

IG1009_Grown_Up_Mac_and_Cheese.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeChantilly’s Mac And Cheese (courtesy of The Barefoot Countessa)

Ingredients
4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven – there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

 

(Thanks to Duffy Brown for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

This Book Is Making Me Hungry + Review — Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe

20 Mar

There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10

000882What if you could ask God anything? What would you ask? And how would He answer?

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask God a question of her own. Heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

 

MLucado-261More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

 

 

My Impressions:

I confess that I have never read any of Max Lucado’s non-fiction books. I am a fiction gal and find it hard to get into most non-fiction. But when I saw that he had written his first novel, I just had to read it. Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe captured me from the beginning. Wonderful characters and a great setting add to this inspiring tale. This book is great for any fans of Max Lucado or for anyone who needs a little encouragement and hope that God is really listening.

Chelsea Chambers and her children have moved back to her hometown of San Antonio, Texas following her separation from NFL star, Sawyer. Reopening her mother’s cafe is challenging enough with her family changes, but a whopping tax bill puts Chelsea into panic mode. With some angelic help, Chelsea finds her faith and forgiveness.

Lightly written with plenty of chuckle-inducing moments, Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe still packs a punch on the spiritual front. Spiritual themes of forgiveness, the personhood of God and prayer are skillfully interwoven. A clever device is used to show how God wants to have personal relationships with his creation. Lucado also emphasizes that once prayers are sent up, they linger like a heavenly aroma. The book also gives a glimpse at how things on earth must look from the spiritual realm. I especially loved the scene where the angels are rejoicing when a character accepts the gift of salvation. Fun characters, inventive plot devices and mouth-watering cupcake creations are icing on the cake (pardon the pun!). Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe is definitely a must-read.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse and Thomas Nelson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake

GH0507H_chocolate-raspberry-layer-cake-recipe_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeMain character, Chelsea Chambers bakes up scrumptious goodies in her cafe. One particularly yummy dessert plays a role in her dealings with a real estate agent. So in honor of Chelsea, here is a recipe for Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake  from Giada De Laurentiis (courtesy of the Food Network).

Ingredients

Puree:
One 12-ounce bag frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed

Cake:
Butter, for greasing the pans
All-purpose flour, for dusting
One 18.25-ounce box chocolate cake mix, such as Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Fresh raspberries or chocolate curls for garnish

For the puree: Place the raspberries in a blender and blend until smooth (yields 1 1/4 cups of puree). Remove 1/4 cup of puree and reserve.

For the cake: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of two 8- or 9-inch round nonstick baking pans. Set aside.

Place 1 tablespoon of the cake mix and the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Toss until the chocolate chips are coated.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining cake mix, 1 cup of the raspberry puree, vegetable oil, eggs and 1/4 cup water. Using an electric hand mixer, blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Mix in the chocolate chips. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, butter, cream cheese and sour cream. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on low speed until smooth. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup of the frosting and the reserved 1/4 cup puree until smooth.

To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer, flat side-up, on a cake stand. Using a spatula, spread the raspberry-chocolate frosting over the cake layer leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place the other cake layer on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining chocolate frosting. Decorate with fresh raspberries or chocolate curls. Using a damp knife cut the cake into wedges and serve.

Cake can be made 1 day in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight plastic container. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.