Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bahama Chicken Soup and Tortilla Strips

I have never been to the Bahamas but I can see myself sitting under a coconut tree enjoying this flavorful soup. I found the recipe in a 30 Minute Meal cookbook by a local Utah author Shauna Evans.  I marked several recipes that look interesting.
The trick to making this meal in 30 minutes is to have a Rotisserie chicken on hand. I didn't have one but quickly cooked some frozen chicken tenders (that I always have). I added more veggies and cut the recipe down so we only ate it for 3 meals.
I had my doubts about the Tortilla Strips--I usually purchase packaged Wonton or Tortilla Strips but I didn't have any on hand and I did have some close to date tortillas in the fridge. The garlic butter gave them a great flavor and they really did get crispy.
I was happy with the final dish and quickly wrote the recipe down so I could share it with you.
Here is my version of:
Bahama Chicken Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red or yellow pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon seeded and minced jalapeno pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 can petite diced tomatoes--or 2 diced Roma tomatoes
1/2 can diced green chilies
2 cups diced cooked chicken, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
juice from 1 lime
In a stockpot heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, red peppers, garlic and jalapeño. Cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add chicken broth, coconut milk, tomatoes, green chilies, carrots, salt and pepper. Cook on medium low heat until carrots are crisp tender.
Add cilantro and lime juice.
Garnish with Tortilla Strips.

Tortilla Strips
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
flour tortillas
Mix melted butter, garlic and salt. Brush on both sided of tortillas. With a pizza cutter, cut in 1/2 inch strips. Spread on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, turning once.
Printable Recipe

Saturday, April 11, 2015

2015 Books List--1st Quarter

I enjoyed sharing the books I read in 2014. Many good reads but the post was certainly too long. I decided a quarterly book post would be better. Here is just a little about each book and why I liked it.
More detailed information on each book can be found on Amazon.
Books read the first quarter of 2015 include:

Still Alice--B+
For some reason I assumed this book was true. I finished it before I realized it is a work of fiction. I hate it when that happens! Still Alice by Lisa Genova was a book club read.  Alice is a brilliant professor at Harvard (a fact that is repeated over and over). As a Linguistics professor she travels and speaks all over the world. In her later 40's Alice begins forgetting things--she blames it on the stress of a very busy life. While on her daily jog she forgets where she is at and how to get home. She seeks medical helps and is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's.
As an almost 60 year-old I found myself making armchair diagnosis to almost all I know! A bit scary I admit. This book was believable--the author does have credentials, I assume she knows what she is talking about.
Alice deteriorates rather rapidly and soon she has to resign from teaching. I thought it was very interesting how others treated her. Some thought if she just tried harder she could remember, a few family members were compassionate and still others just ignored her.
I came away from this book with a heightened awareness. How would I treat someone with EOA? How would I help them maintain their dignity. Would I be content to be their friend knowing their limitations? I certainly hope so. This book made a great discussion. I think it scratched the surface of a condition we may all be exposed too. Knowledge is good when it helps us be more aware.
Still Alice was worth reading, it does include a few words that I do not care to read. I would give it a solid B+.

An Invisible Thread--A
This was my choice for Book Club this year. It is the true story of a remarkable relationship between a busy New York Sales Rep and a homeless 11 year old panhandler. He was asking for spare change, she kept walking. Something stopped her in her tracks and she went back. She continued to go back again and again. They met up weekly for years and built a life-changing friendship that has today spanned almost 3 decades.
This was an excellent book to discuss. Are we compassionate? How do we reach out to others, could we be a little kinder? You never know when a simple kindness will change a life. Excellent book, it just might be my favorite book this year--but the year is still young!

Boys on the Boat--A
A very interesting, true story about the US Rowing Team of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I don't think I really knew that rowing was a sport until I read this book. Coming from land locked Utah I don't know much about water sports. This 8-man team of underdogs originated from the University of Washington. Eight amazing young men each with a unique background.
I do love a good true story. I like to learn about real people and their real lives. If you liked Unbroken you will most likely enjoy Boys on the Boat. I enjoyed listening to this book on Audible.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks--A
Another true story (do you see a pattern) that I read with disbelief. A poor black tobacco farmer has cancer. Henrietta Lacks is known in the scientific world as HeLa. Her cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951 These cells were to become a very important tool in the medical world. They were vital in developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping and more. Her cells have been bought and sold by the billions.
I read this book with so many questions about ethics, race and medicine. This was a common practice in 1951. Was it right--I don't think so, but was it beneficial--yes. I hope we have learned from the mistakes of the past.
I listened to this on Audible--it is narrated by Cassandra Campbell, she is the best. This would be a great book club read. There is so much to discuss.

Divergent is labeled as Young Adult Fiction. If you are a fan of The Hunger Games you will probably like Divergent. The is the first book in a series of three, it has also been made into a movie (which I have not yet viewed). This is the story of a futuristic society that is divided into five factions. I listened to the Audible version and quite enjoyed it--but not enough to finish the series. I will listen to the rest of the series--just not now.

A Year on Ladybug Farm--B-
This is the light hearted story of three friends that leave their comfortable lives in the suburbs and buy a run down mansion in the middle of nowhere. I want to think most women are smarter than these three friends. But this is a work of fiction after all! It is somewhat amusing. It is the kind of book I have on my phone to read at the Drs. office or while I am waiting in line at Sonic for my half price Fresh Lime Diet Coke.
This book is not life changing nor is it a book club read. It is an airplane or beach read. Enjoy it for what it is. This is the first book in a series, I bought the second one for 1 cent as a used book. It is in my bag waiting for my next trip to the beach!!

The Deer Hunter's Oath--A+
This delightful memoir is written by my brother Jeff Lindstrom. If you love a good deer hunting story this will make you smile. Jeff started writing his history in a way his grandchildren would love to read. That is just a good story. 98% true, and 2% writers license.
 I am a non hunter by choice but I know the location--I lived at the farm, the end of civilization for two years. I also know the players so this book really came to life for me. Jeff has the ability to describe people in such a way that if I saw them at the Fruitland Store I would certainly know them.

 Jeff describes this as a collection of light-hearted and entertaining stories. Tales of family, friends and deer hunting from the perspective of a young boy growing up in the 60's - his first deer camp at age eight, the competitive teen years, antics with his brothers, and concluding with the ramblings of an old man. A humorous look at the education of a young and impressionable outdoorsman by the older, more experienced deer hunters, who administer the deer hunters oath.
You will laugh as you read this, if you are a hunter you can see yourself over and over. It is fun my 23 year old was laughing out laud and our 10 year old granddaughter said she loved it.
Any outdoors man would love this.

I read a good review on this book but I didn't study it near enough. It began as a fun romance, I do like a good romance. But it wasn't long before the fun left. Bad language was common and the story line just went down from there. I classify this book as something I could not share with my mother or daughters.....if there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy we seek after these things...

Well friends there are my read for the first 3 months of 2015. Please let me know what you are reading. I'm always looking for a new read.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Creamy Chicken Picasso

I have had this delicious looking chicken dish pinned for ages. I found it on Let's Dish--one of my favorite blogs, Dani has some awesome recipes. This chicken dish was no exception. Candise was visiting and we made this for Easter dinner. It might not be your typical Easter Dinner, but it was colorful and fresh. Perfect for a spring meal.
The chicken was tender, the onions and peppers were yummy. We spooned the tomato cream sauce over angel hair pasta. And we tried not to lick our plates because it was Easter. Please don't wait till next Easter to make this dish. I will add it to the 'make often' recipe list.

Creamy Chicken Picasso
4 tablespoons butter, divided
4  boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium onion, sliced
2 peppers (red, orange or yellow), cut into rings
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, melt  2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet and brown the chicken lightly on each side. Transfer to a greased 9x13 pan. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet, add the onions, season lightly, and cook until soft and browned.  Arrange the onions over the chicken.  If needed add the last tablespoon of butter to the skillet, add the peppers, season lightly, and cook until softened.  Add to the 9x13 with the chicken and onions. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  To the garlic add the tomatoes, broth, cream, salt and pepper, and nutmeg.  Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.  Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables.  Cover with foil and bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove foil.  Top with grated cheese and return to the oven, uncovered, until cheese is golden brown and chicken is cooked through. Serve with pasta if desired.
Printable Recipe

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pork Tenderloin with Pan Sauce

Can I just tell you right now that this is the best meat I have ever eaten! I made it three times in March and it will probably go on the menu again this week. It is tender and delicious. The pan sauce is what dreams are made of! Please make it soon.
Pork tenderloin is usually sold in a package of two, each tenderloin weighs close to a pound.  You can figure 4 ounces per serving so each tenderloin serves 4. This is a perfect weeknight meal for hubby and I. Leftovers make a gourmet lunch--the only way to 'brown bag'. 
Don't be tempted to over cook the tenderloin. It will cook in 20 minutes or less. I love my quick read thermometer. Your meat will be tender and delicious cooked to 145 degrees. Tent with foil and let is rest for five minutes.
So I just might make this again tomorrow!

Pork Tenderloin with Pan Sauce

1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
juice of one lemon
1-2 Tbsp Worcestershire
1-2 Tbps chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp dried mustard
freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 lb pork tenderloin, silver skin removed

Combine all marinade ingredients and reserve 3 tablespoons. Place pork tenderloin and marinade in a Ziploc baggie and let marinate for at least 3-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a hot skillet over medium-high heat sear each side of the tenderloin for 2-3 minutes. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes until meat has reached 145 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Pan Sauce
Pan scrapings from pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. reserved marinade
1-2 Tbsp. butter

Meanwhile, place the skillet back on the stove on medium heat. Add the chicken broth and whisk to de-glaze the pan of all the yummy bits left after you browned the tenderloin. Add the marinade, bring it to a boil and reduce 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the butter.  Stir until the butter has melted. Pour over the tenderloin and serve.
Printable Recipe
Thank you Chef Mommy for this delicious dish!

Friday, March 27, 2015

skillet chicken with mushrooms and asparagus

Chicken with Pesto Mushroom Cream Sauce, for Two-- adapted from ATK The Best Simple Recipes (a book worth owning)! So much great info.
I do struggle taking photos of main dish meals-either they are just not photogenic or maybe I am just very hungry, it smells so good--we are so hungry, etc. "We must eat now", the children chant. Luckily this meal is on the table quickly.

Rinse one large chicken breast--pat dry and season well with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet, over medium high heat till just smoking. Cook chicken till golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate, tent with foil.
Add another tablespoon of oil and heat, add 4 ounces of mushrooms sliced, cook till brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 cloves minced or pressed garlic, cook till fragrant about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 cup chicken broth, and chicken. Scrape to remove brown bits, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer until the chicken is cook through 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to a serving plate and tent with foil. Return skillet to high heat and simmer until desired thickness, about 5 minutes. Off heat add the 2 tablespoons  pesto, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Slice or shred the chicken. I served the chicken and sauce over very thin pasta and grilled asparagus. You could also use broccoli. I topped with Parmesan cheese.
Printable Recipe

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Happy Birthday Maren

I just finished the cutest quilt for granddaughter Maren. Last summer I took Maren to visit a friend of mine. She lives in a beautiful home and is an excellent decorator. Maren walked in the living room and whispered 'Nana, I love these colors'! The front room was decorated boldly in yellow and gray.
And just like that a quilt was born! I started with just yellow and gray--striking yes but I wanted the quilt to have a pre-teen feel so I added a few floral prints and a bit of red and pink.
This is a happy quilt. Maren is bright and energetic; she loves to chat, read and bake cookies. I also like to chat, read and bake cookies. I love to spend time with Maren--she is a delight!
This quilt was so fun to make. I learned the importance of a perfect 1/4 inch seam. Being just a few threads off adds up quickly. I have a few blocks that didn't quite make it into the quilt. They are reminders of what happens when one gets just a little off track. Small mistakes add up in quilting as they do in life.
The pattern for this quilt is in Growing Up Modern by Allison Harris. It is not a difficult quilt but it did take time, probably because I am just learning. Actually this is a great pattern to learn basic quilting skills--rotary cutting, straight stitch sewing and pressing. Happy Birthday Maren!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rosemary Bread

This simple bread upgrades any meal to gourmet! It is easy to make. One wonders how a few simple ingredients can combine to make something so delicious. I suggest using fresh Rosemary--a little goes a long way. Rosemary is easy to grow. If you must purchase a sprig of fresh rosemary it keeps for weeks/months in the fridge.
This recipe comes from Our Best Bites, I have made it countless times and it always is a winner. It reminds me of the bread served at Macaroni Grill. Serve it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar--or use it as the bread for your favorite Panini.

Rosemary Bread
1 cup warm water, 105-115 degrees
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoons oregano
2 tablespoons fresh Rosemary
Mix water, sugar and yeast together--let sit for about 10 minutes or until bubbly. In the bowl of a stand mixer add  2 1/4 cups flour, salt, garlic powder, oregano and rosemary. Using a dough hook mix together. Slowly add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Mix together until well mixed adding the additional 1/4 cup flour only if needed. Dough should be moist and sticky.
Put a little olive oil in a bowl and add dough, Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes or until double in bulk. Punch dough down and divide into two balls of dough. Place on an oiled stone. sprinkle loaves with kosher salt. cover and let rise again until double. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. Eat warm!
Printable Version

Friday, March 6, 2015

It's a Quilt!

Seven years ago we were excited to welcome a new grandson to our family. I happily went to the fabric store, purchased some darling fabric, a simple pattern and set out to make a quilt for our new little bundle.
I guess life got in the way. Our grandson Henry was born--the quilt was not finished. If I could quickly finish it/start it I could still give it to him. Some how years passed.
Now Henry is a handsome seven year old. I am happy to say I have finally finished the quilt. It is darling but not quite right for a seven year old boy.
Luckily it matches my front room--so it will still be used to comfort little ones. I imagine it will be perfect to throw on the floor for a little one to play on. It will be used to make a fort for watching a movie or to cover a sleeping grandchild. I'm sure it will still get plenty of use.
Don't worry about Henry--I have a quilt at the quilters right now. It is perfect for a seven year old.

Here is Henry--last summer on a hike to Stewart Falls.

Henry at age 4--what a handsome young man!

With a pieced back and a Scrappy Binding this is one cute quilt!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This delicious Salad comes from Epicurious. I read over 80 reviews, studied the recipe and came up with one delicious version. I think it just may become a family favorite. Great for a light meal, add cooked chicken or shrimp for a more filling dinner.
The actual Peanut Dressing was to die for--the kind you just might find yourself licking the spoon. It came together in 30 minutes. You could make the dressing the day before but I would dress the noodles just before serving. Most testers liked the salad at room temp--I thought it was delicious just lightly warmed. Looks like a meal with many options--make it yours!

Spicy Peanut Sauce
6 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 cup chicken broth (I used a little bullion and water)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger root
1 teaspoon sriracha hot chili sauce
juice from 1 lime
Mix together with a whisk or an immersion blender. If it to thick either heat it for a moment or add a little more broth. I thought it was great as is.
6 to 8 ounces thin spaghetti cooked al dente, pour in a colander, drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. I used 6 ounces because I want plenty of dressing on my salad. Cook more pasta for a lighter dressed salad.
To cool pasta add:
 2-3 cups veggies. I added red and yellow peppers cut in slivers. julienned carrots, shredded cabbage, shredded Napa (I used a couple of cups of greens from a (Costco Oriental Salad--easy)
1/2 cup sliced green onion,
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
Add dressing to pasta and veggies. Top with cilantro, peanuts and green onions.
Printable Recipe

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lemon Tartlets

The best thing about January is the availability of Citrus Fruit. Beautiful grapefruit, several types of juicy oranges and bags of lemons. Yes, one can get lemons any time of the year but they are the best in January. These little lemon tartlets are a burst of citrus in your mouth. This recipe comes from an old Pampered Chef cook book. It is a recipe that was good years ago and is still excellent. It gives you a reason to use that 'tart tamper' that has been rolling around in your kitchen drawer. I don't use it often but when I do I love it! These little dainties are a positive addition to any dessert tray.

Lemon Tartlets
Tart Shells
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
1 1/4 cups flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 large lemon
Powered Sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray mini muffin pan with Pam.
For tart shells--beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg white, blend well. Add flour and blend until just combined. Using small cookie scoop drop level scoops of dough into muffin pans. Press dough into cups with a well floured Mini Tart Shaper--tart tamper.
For Filling--Lightly whisk the eggs in a small bowl add butter and sugar, whisk together. Using a rasp grate the lemon peel, measure 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Juice lemon and measure 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add zest and juice to egg mixture. Mix well. Pour filling evenly into tart shells.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, edges will just begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Carefully remove tartlets from mini muffin cups. Cool completely. Refrigerate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Makes 24 tartlets.
Printable Recipe

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Asian Chop Salad

I am happy with the variety of 'chop' salad kits at the market. I do purchase them occasionally and if fresh they can make a delicious salad. I wanted to see if I could come up with a 'better' chop salad. I think you will agree that this is one excellent salad. This salad is full of texture and flavor. The dressing is light with just a little sweetness. Combine the salad and dressing for a perfect dish.

Asian Chop Salad
1 bag coleslaw mix (14-ounce)
Napa Cabbage
red pepper
green onion or red onion
bean sprouts
sugar snap peas
1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/3 cup slivered almonds
Mix coleslaw and veggies in a large bowl, toss with dressing at least 30 minutes before serving. The dressing will draw some moisture out of the veggies, this really is enough dressing. Just before serving top with sesame seeds and almonds.

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Combine all ingredients and shake or stir vigorously. Refrigerate until ready to use. This dressing can be made several days before serving.
Printable Recipe

You can use finely sliced cabbage and grated carrots instead of coleslaw mix.
Use whatever veggies you have. I like this salad because most of the ingredients keep well in the fridge. Cabbage, carrots, celery, onions have a long life span. This salad is excellent with just these!
Napa Cabbage keeps quite a while in the refrigerator, it adds a delicious flavor and a 'softer' crunch. Fresh bean sprouts have a short shelf life--but are delicious if you have them.
I didn't put amounts in this salad--use more of what you love!
I found this recipe in an Our Best Bites cookbook, I made a few changes to make it more to my liking.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Crock Pot White Chicken Chile

I think Crock Pot meals were invented to help ease the 'witching hour'. That time between about 4 and 6 PM when life falls apart. Kids are cranky, (not just pre schoolers), everyone is hungry and Mom is franticly scanning thru Pintrest looking for easy dinner ideas.
 Welcome the Crock Pot. Dinner is slowly cooking, the house smells wonderful. Family members know dinner is near because they can smell it. Mother can play games with toddlers or help youngsters with homework, because she already knows what's for dinner. Yes, the Crock Pot is a wonderful invention, maybe a life changer.
 Valyn Baker served this White Chicken Chile at the Ward Christmas Party, people begged for the recipe. She directed the droves to this link in the LDS Living Magazine. Here is my take on this recipe, I have served it several times with positive reviews.

Crock Pot White Chicken Chile
10 frozen chicken tenders
1 cup Salsa Verde--I used Herdez brand
I tried to find the difference between Salsa Verde and Green Enchilada Sauce. I have both sitting in front of me. I went with the Salsa Verde because it has less ingredients I can't pronounce. They look similar, I think either could be used in this recipe. Anyone know more on the subject?
2 cans chicken broth
1 onion diced
2-3 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup minced cilantro
Put frozen chicken tenders in crock pot add Salsa, chicken broth, beans and seasonings. I know the purpose of a crock pot meal is quick cooking. So if you want to just put the onion in I'm sure the cooking police will not come for you. However, I have found that onion sometimes takes forever to soften in a crock pot. I sauté the onion in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes and then add it to the crock pot. It smells great and adds a deeper flavor to the soup.
We use the crock pot for long slow unattended cooking. I did just that for years and tried to develop a palate for dried out chicken. This recipe cooks for about 2-3 hours on high. Chicken is done at 165 degrees. It will be flavorful and juicy. Remove chicken from the crock pot, shred it with 2 forks and return. Add sour cream and stir till combined. Top with cilantro and serve with corn bread, tortilla chips or strips.
 All crock pots cook differently, adjust. Chicken tenders cook quicker than chicken breasts. Thawed chicken cooks quicker than frozen. So many variables. The only truth in crock pot cooking is that chicken should not have the same texture as jerky! Enjoy. This really is a simple, delicious recipe.
Printable Recipe

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

I have never really been a breakfast person. I like a glass of juice and a piece of toast.
But I do like Brunch. A meal served at 10, when one is fully awake and moving is my kind of meal. There are so many available options for brunch. A light brunch may just be juice, muffins and a fruit tray. When my sons are in town if I mention the word, 'brunch' I better have bacon, sausage links and sliced ham. Other great brunch choices are Sunshine CasseroleDenver Omelet, Breakfast Pizza or a breakfast burrito. These also are great for dinner.
Now back to the blog post--I'm talking the most delicious Almond Poppy Seed Muffins, these gems are chuck full of flavor and texture.
I found this delicious recipe on Life Made Simple.

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cake flour--to make cake flour put 1 tablespoon of cornstarch in a half cup measure, fill with all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
9 tablespoons butter--softened
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
slivered or sliced almonds for the top
Sift together flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt three times. Set aside. Yes, I really did this. Beat the butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add extracts and poppy seeds. Add the flour alternating with the sour cream. Mix gently.
Either spray muffin pan with Pam or put in cupcake liners. I found some darling liners at Gygi's. Using a large scoop fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Do not overfill. Sprinkle almonds on top of batter. This recipe made 12 regular size muffins and 12 mini muffins. Bake at 375. 20-23 for regular size muffins, 10-12 minutes for mini muffins. Toothpick should come out clean. Don't over bake.
Printable Recipe

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 Book List

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. I read books on my phone and kindle. I love audible books and I always have a stack of books by my favorite chair. I often read 3 or 4 books at the same time. Which is my favorite method to read? Depends on the day. It is good to have options!

Here is a list of the books I have read this year. I decided to grade the books I have read--just like school grades. If I like an author I might binge read several of her books. I enjoy historical fiction. I like a good romance but I do stick to clean romances. I want to be able to give the books I read to my mother or my daughter.

 I enjoy learning about civil rights--I grew up in the 60's in a sheltered little town in Utah. I had no idea what was going on just a little to the south. I like self-help books and religious books. I like books that make me laugh and cry--in the same chapter. In choosing a book I always come back to something I memorized in my teens. '....If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report or praiseworthy. We seek after these things.'

I enjoy being part of a book group. I have read so many good books that I might not have chosen on my own. Here are the books I have enjoyed and a rating. I do a lot of research on the books I read. That way I am not often blind sighted by language or content.

A Lion and a Lamb by Rand Packer--An incredible book about Mormon history. A young couple embarks on a 25 year mission. This true story begins in the early 1900's. It is a story of trust, friendship and persecution. I passed this short book to several family members. All learned from it.
It is a solid A

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--A book club read that provided a lively discussion. Narrated by Death, what an interesting concept. This book used colors to describe feelings and events. A WW II book set in Germany. This book took me quite awhile to read. It is heavy and filled with emotion. I read a few pages and then had to digest it. I easily give this an A. It does have language but it is in German so it was easy for me to pass by. I also enjoyed the movie.

Wonder--RJ Palacio--This was my pick for book club this year. It is young adult fiction. I think it should be read by everyone--every year! The story of a teen, Auggie Pullman,who was born with a severe facial deformity. Told from the perspective of the Auggie, his sister, her friend etc. It provided great discussion at book club. Enjoyed by my 10 year old granddaughter and my 86 year old mother. It is an A.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper--I was reading Wonder while at the beauty salon. Another lady with foils in her hair saw what I was reading. She suggested I read Out of My Mind another YA book. This is about a girl with a disability. She is confined to a wheelchair but her mind is very sharp. No one knows it because she can't communicate. Made me rethink the way I treat those with special needs. B+, this would be a great book to read out loud to your children. Background for some great discussion.

The Fault in Our Stars--came with great recommendations but I didn't love it. I read it at the same time as Wonder and Out of My Mind. I just wasn't impressed. It has some language that I like to avoid. I have not seen the movie. It was a C.

Orphan Train by Christian Bakerkline--This book popped up on my Amazon account. If you like this book you will like this etc. YA fiction about a troubled teen in foster care that gets to know an older woman that was also an orphan. They helped each other. Not a bad book but I wouldn't read it again. I will give it a B-. I often wonder why an author will throw in the 'bad' word once or twice. It is a PG 13 book--read it before you give it to your teen.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes--Another book with just enough language that I can't pass it to my mother. It has received some good press.  A girl helps a guy that is paralyzed. How about that for a quick summary. B-

29 Gifts by Cami Walker--simply put a lady changes her life by giving. Not a bad concept at all. but, I had to plow through a lot of stuff I didn't care about to get to the 'giving' concept. I threw the book away, I guess that means it gets a D-.

Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin--Historical fiction at it's best! The story of Anne Marrow Lindberg and her famous husband Charles Lindberg. There are plenty of facts in this book woven together with the authors vision of how things may have happened. This was a book club read. We had a lively discussion about marriage in the early 1900's. Great book, it is an A. After reading this book I had to skim one of my favorite books Gift From the Sea by Anne Marrow Lindberg another A.

Sycamore Row by John Grisham--Grisham's first book was published in 1989. That means I have enjoyed his writing style for 25 years. If you like Grisham you will like Sycamore Row. A

The Help by Kathryn Sockett--This is a re-read or in this case a re-listen.  Audible brings The Help to life with great narration. I also had to watch the movie version again too. I thought the movie was very well done, it did the book justice. A+

The All Girls Filling Station by Fannie Flagg--This is one of Flagg's best. I don't know if this book is considered Historical Fiction but it has plenty of facts about life during WW II. I passed it to mom and she enjoyed it. Brought back memories from years ago.
 Fannie Flagg writes about life in the south. Her works are filled with quirky characters that just may sound familiar. This is light reading, probably not life changing but enjoyable. B+
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven--B
I Still Dream About You--B
Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man--C+
Red Bird Christmas--B
All books by Fannie Flagg.  Keep one on you phone, it will make waiting at the Doctor office more enjoyable.

Shannon Guymon-- is an amazing local author. She writes romance that you can share with your mother! Shannon's book are full of real characters. People that have problems--just like you and me. People that are working through life, making decisions both good and bad. Shannon has the ability to make her character's so real that if you saw them at the mall you would immediately recognize them. Her books may have a good guy, a bad guy, a crazy Mother-In -Law and everything in-between. There are cops and robbers and maybe a little mystery.
Shannon believes in happy endings. I do to. Her books are perfect to load on you kindle for vacation reads. I like her writing because it makes my elliptical time go quickly. Shannon is an A. She has many books. Check Amazon.

The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas--I have read several books by this author and have really enjoyed them. Easy fiction about women helping each other. Quilting is a background theme for many of her books. Problems are solved, people understood and friendships are made around the quilting frames. This book is set in rural Kansas about 1930. Life is hard, crops are burning, jobs are non-existent. A highlight of each week is a quilting bee of The Persian Pickle Club. Dallas has the ability to develop interesting characters. This is a fun book, I was surprised to come upon one bad word. Really--was it needed?? B+, Dallas really is a fun author.

A Distant Prayer--Miracles of the 49th Combat Mission by Joseph Banks--I enjoy reading books about WW II, this was excellent. This is the true story of Joseph Banks. At the time of his service one could go home after 50 missions. His plane was shot down on his 49th mission, Joseph was the only survivor. He was captured by the enemy. This is the amazing story of his miraculous escape and return to his wife and son. Miracles do happen. There is plenty of history packed in this short book. This is an A.

A Higher Call by Adam Makos--Another book about WW II. This was a book club read, several of us have parents that served in WW II so we are always happy to read more about this period of history. This is an interesting story about a American pilot and a German pilot. Their lives collided in a most remarkable way. I passed this book to my 5 brothers, mother and others. Excellent read. A.

My Story by Elizabeth Smart--Simply put this is the story of the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. This story made national news. Elizabeth gives a full account of her kidnapping, torture and finally her return to her family. This true story is difficult to read but I couldn't put it down. I knew the story as it happened so close to my home. Everywhere I went were posters of Elizabeth Smart. Told simply with much emotion. B+

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth--is a memoir. Worth was a Midwife in 1950's in the East End of London. People were very poor, they had little healthcare and antibiotics had just entered the scene. Midwifes provided prenatal care and delivered babies alongside trained nurses. Worth shares her memories of interesting characters, tough living conditions and miraculous births. This book is graphic in parts, PBS has turned it into an excellent series. B+

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd--I loved this book it could possibly have been my favorite read this year. Kidd is the author of Secret Life of Bees another personal favorite.
This book takes place in 1830's, it is based on the life of Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina. They rebelled so vocally against their family, society, and their religion that they were reviled, pursued, and exiled from their home city of Charleston, South Carolina, under threat of death. Their crime was speaking out in favor of liberty and equality and for African American slaves and women. Their lectures and pamphlets drew thousands. This book is well done on Audible. I love the southern accents of the characters. The authors notes at the end of the story are so interesting. I am amazed at how authors research and actually put the research into an enjoyable read. A+

Well, this turned into a long post. I have a long list of books to read in 2015. I will review books quarterly this year--shorter posts! I realize book choices are very personal--I would love to know what your favorite reads are. Please share. I tried to include links to each book, all books can be found on Amazon or your favorite library.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Peanut Butter Temptations--Cookies for Santa

Sometimes the best place to look for recipes is on the back of the product package. These delicious little gems come right off the back of the Reese's Miniature Peanut Butter Cup package. They are easy to make, the perfect treat to leave for Santa--and Santa will love them. I know!

Peanut Butter Temptations
about 40 Peanut Butter Cups Miniatures
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Have little helpers remove wrappers from candy. Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, egg and vanilla until fluffy. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Using Pampered Chef small scoop shape dough into a ball and place in an ungreased mini muffin pan. Do not flatten. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes until puffed and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Immediately press peanut butter cup in center of each cookie. Cool completely in pan. Remove, put on a plate and leave for Santa!
Printable Recipe