A Portrait to Die For - Radine Trees Nehring, Author

6:00 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



NO-THAW HAMBURGER MEAT LOAF   
(see notes below)

Use approximately l lb. lean hamburger, frozen in a flatish lump.
1 can beef broth. (No-fat kind is good)
1 small can tomato juice or similar tomato product. (Use imagination here. You could substitute left-over picante sauce, salsa, or seasoned canned tomatoes, for example. Add water if needed, making sure there is plenty of liquid around the meat at all times.)
1 med. to large onion, cut in strips, and 1 green pepper, also cut into strips with membrane and seeds removed. 
Unwrap frozen meat and place in a large casserole dish or a roaster with a lid.  Salt and pepper the meat lump, and you can also add any other seasonings you like. Arrange onion and pepper slices on top. Pour beef broth mixed with your tomato product around the sides.  (Not over the top.)
Bake, covered, in 350 degree oven for an hour and a half.
For larger quantities of meat, test for doneness after an hour and a half, adjust time as needed. (Because of the tomato juice, meat will have a pinkish tinge throughout.)
Thicken liquid for gravy.  Carrie serves this with baked potatoes and a green salad.

Note:  Carrie's Hamburger Patty Surprise is another super-simple recipe already becoming popular with readers. See her son's reaction to it in "A Portrait to Die For."  That recipe is the back of the book.

As you have probably discovered already, Carrie is not an enthusiastic cook, and--due to life circumstances--never had cooked until she was on her own when past middle age.  All her recipes are "double simple," but by far the favorite with readers is her No-Thaw Hamburger Meatloaf from "A Treasure to Die For."  If you want meatloaf and all you have is frozen hamburger, this is your answer, and it's delicious.  (The Nehrings enjoyed it just last week.)



A Portrait to Die For - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of Stir Laugh Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"Beginning around the time of the Revolutionary War, it was the practice, mainly in Europe and the British Isles, for important works of art like those in the Port View portrait collection to be copied in folios of mezzotint prints.  Imported folios (large books or folders) of English portraits provided late 18th Century artists in this country with models for elegant poses and gestures that could be used by their sitters, and also with ideas for beautifully developed background scenery.  Prints in the folios are normally close reproductions of the original, and Crystal Bridges' Library is fortunate to own a number of these folios.  If you have time after viewing the Port View portraits, visit the library and study the books of prints on display there.  One of the mezzotints you'll see is a portrait of young twins.  Each child holds a bouquet of daisies.  The original of that print in the gallery below is one of the Port View Historical Society's true treasures.  I suggest, for fun, you study both the original portrait and the print carefully.  Do you find variations between the two?"


This was part of an article written by Reporter Maylynn Brewer after her visit to the Crystal Bridges Library.  Apparently she had seen a difference between the original and its copy and this article is about to cost her her life as well as her brother Mark's life.  Then Maylynn disappears.

Carrie McCrite is a volunteer at the Crystal Bridges Library.  She too has noticed a difference between the two pieces of art.  Carrie has a tendency to get herself involved in other people's problems and this difference is piquing her interest.  Henry has insisted that she not get involved.  Her past involvements have come very close to costing not only her own life but his as well.  But... when Henry's younger half sister Catherine becomes involved with the search for Maylynn her fiance Rob, who is Carrie's son, also joins her and of course Carrie and Henry can't allow them to play detectives by themselves.

This book picks up pace as the story goes along, especially when a Port View truck is hi-jacked.  What was in the truck?  Painting sales are discovered but are they sales of the real thing or copies?  If they are copies, how are the buyers being convinced that they are the real thing?  I found this book very enlightening as to how the art world works, but I also found it to be a very spellbound mystery.

Radine Trees Nehring, 2011 Inductee, Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame.
Sharing the magic and mystery of the Arkansas Ozarks in To Die For novels.
New Carrie and Henry adventure from Oak Tree Press: A Portrait to Die For. 

http://www.RadinesBooks.com

Princess Adele's Dragon - Shirley McLain

10:42 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Better Than Sex Cake
(Princess Adele's Favorite Cake)

1 Butter  Yellow Cake mix baked per directions. Let it cool and then poke holes in the top of the cake.

While cake is cooling combine 1 cup sugar and a large can of crushed pineapple in saucepan and bring to a boil to melt sugar.

Pour over the cake and let cool.

Mix a large box of Jello French Vanilla  pudding and place over pineapple mixture.

Sprinkle with pecans, Coconut or whatever you choose.

Top this with whipped cream  and sprinkle with pecans.  

This is a very moist cake and needs to be refrigerated.


Princess Adele's Dragon - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

When she arrived at the opening into the mountainside the creature used to enter and leave the mountain, she pulled out her sword, said a prayer.  She took the first step inside the cave to face her destiny.  As she worked her way down the cavern, the heat rose from deep in the cave... She stopped to rest and heard a sound coming from below.  It sounded as if someone was crying.  It tugged at her heart for an unknown reason.  I wonder if the dragon trapped someone.  It's the saddest thing I've heard in a long time... In a moment's time, the ground trembled in a rhythmic fashion.  That meant one thing.  The beast was on the move.  At least, the crying stopped.

Princess Adele has gone in search of the dragon that has been destroying the surroundings.  Her brother King Robert has been told by his advisor Lord Ashmore that the only way to tame the dragon is to sacrifie a girl child.  Adele is determined that isn't to happen so she's gone in search of the dragon herself in hopes that she will be able to slay him.  What she finds isn't something she would have ever expected.  The dragon she finds quickly becomes "Princess Adele's Dragon."  And he will protect her as well as her brother's kingdom to the end.

Princess Adele's Dragon is a book full of treason, friendship,love and even a witch who can cast some pretty mean spells.  The real deceit comes when Adele and her brother find that two of the people they trust the most are out for one thing - to make the kingdom their own.   They must hang on but at what cost?

This book may sound deep but it is really an easy read.  It moves fast without losing your interest and attention to the events taking place.  I think it's a book young readers would enjoy.  I did.


What Haunts Me - Margaret Millmore, Author

2:45 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves




Spinach and Artichoke Dip
(Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse but George likes it too)

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
--
Cook Time:
30 min
Level:
Easy
Serves:
6 to 8 servings
Ingredients
2 (10-ounce) packages fresh spinach, well rinsed and stems trimmed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup 1/2-inch cubes rindless Brie
1 cup grated Monterey Jack
1 (6 1/2-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 strips bacon, fried crisp, drained and chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Assorted chips for dipping (pita chips, tortilla chips, bagel chips)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round chafing dish and set aside.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the spinach in batches and cook until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and refresh under cold running water. Squeeze to remove all excess water and chop. Set aside. In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light roux, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and cream in a steady stream, and cook, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cooked spinach and lemon juice, and stir to incorporate. Add the cubed and grated cheeses, artichoke hearts, and bacon, and stir well. Remove from the heat and pour into the prepared dish. Top with the Parmesan and bake until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot with chips. 


What Haunts Me - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

“I noticed a woman of about thirty standing just off the sidewalk on the grass.  Her appearance was right out of the 1940's; her dress hung below her knees with padded shoulders and semi-tailored waste line, Mary Jane shoes, hair neatly done up in side rolls.  Yet, it wasn't the vintage apparel that stood out so much; it was that she was untouched by the light rain that was coating everything and everyone around her.  Of course, it was also the Harry Potter glasses that she wore, and the fact that she seemed to be intently focused on John.

For no other reason but instinct, I raised the umbrella and gently jabbed it at her as we walked past.  A look of horror filled her face, and then she swirled away into a grey mist, just like the ghost, or whatever he was, had done when I was a kid at Bobby's house.  Now that I remembered it all, it occurred to me that John didn't have a lisp...anymore.”

George is a normal young man in his 30's.  His mother had died when he was young, he was raised by his father, went to school, ended up becoming very successful in the real estate field and even bought himself a nice home on the top floor of a building that housed only one other person who was an elderly lady named Justine Wilkinson.

After getting over a bout of the flu George found his life changing before his eyes.  He was seeing 'ghosts' that were haunting people and making them ill.  He also discovered that he could poke them with a pencil and they would, for the lack of a better word 'die.'  Then came the memories of his childhood.  Apparently he was able to do this as a child but for some reason didn't remember it until now.  These memories and the events now taking place in his life are wreaking havoc on his life and he doesn't know how to make it stop.


George is a GK or ghost killer.  They come in all power stages and ranks with him being one of the best.  But he ends up with a mission that has to be handled before the bad ghosts take over.  This book is the perfect beginning for a TV series.  If you like the Walking Dead you'll really love What Haunts Me.  I'd love to see this picked up by a producer, yes it's that good.

Steamy Windows - Mae Nunnally, Author

1:24 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Millionaires' Pie
(2 recipes for this book!)

8 oz cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz whip topping
1 can crushed pineapple (drained)
1 C chopped pecans
1 C sweet coconut flakes
2 x 9-inch graham cracker pie crusts

blend cream cheese and condensed milk
fold in whip topping
stir in pecans and coconut
divide between the pie crusts
chill 3 to 4 hours before serving

Harvey Wallbanger

1 /4 oz. vodka
3 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. galliano l'autentico

Add the vodka and the orange juice to a tall glass, fill with ice, stir and float galliano on top.  Garnish with an orange slice.

Steamy Windows - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"What's a woman got to do to get a drink in this place?"  Matt thought to himself, maybe not be a rude S.O.B., but he said "Usually sit down and order is a good start."  Once she sat he continued, "so what will it be for ya?"  "Whiskey, straight up!"  He grabbed a frosted glass from the chest and poured what the lady ordered and placed in front of her.  He watched as she downed it in one shot.  He'd seen men do it, but this was a first with a lady.

Matt is an over-worked bartender who spends 50+ hours a week waiting on those who love to drink.  Latakia is a customer who just happened to come into his bar, drawing him as her bartender.  She's rude to him and now regrets it.  This good looking, sexy man might be just what she needs.

Steamy Windows is a steamy short story about two people who meet and if things work out they 'join.'  If you need a little boost to get into the mood, read this story. LOL!


Shattered Lies - S. J. Francis, Author

9:41 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Crab Salad
(One of Miss Kate's Favorite)


1 pound crabmeat, fresh or canned, drained, cartilage and shell picked out
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallot (bulb part only)
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped celery
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped dill pickle or relish
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon yellow mustard
Salt and black pepper to taste
Heavy sprinkling of paprika, to garnish

In a large bowl, combine crabmeat, egg, onion, shallot, celery and pickle. Mix together the mayonnaise and mustard in a small bowl. Add the mayo mixture to the crab and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with paprika.
Serves 6.
Serve the salad on lettuce or on toasted bread as a sandwich.
Healthy and low in carbs. Meal ready in 15 minutes or less.

Prep time: 10mins for boiling egg. 

Shattered Lies - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"Miss Kate went up there.  I went to check on her..."  "What do you mean?  You let her up there?  Why?"  he asked.  "I didn't let her up there," Elsa said.  "And why not?  It's her house, too."  "I Told you no one is allowed up there.  No one."  "Relax, Sam. I'm sure Miss Katherine didn't mean Kate,"  Elsa said.

"Damn it, woman!  I told you when we first came here that Miss Katherine has rules..."  "Why did you let her go up there?" Sam asked.  I didn't allow her to do anything,"  Elsa said.  "You still haven't told me what the big deal is."  "It doesn't matter now."  He moved to leave but she caught his wrist.  "It matters to you and if it matters to you, it matters to me."....  Sam knew if Miss Katherine found out, there'd be hell to pay, but he couldn't physically make Kate leave.  That left him without any other options.

Kate lived on the family plantation that her namesake grandmother Katherine owned.  Kate was a veterinarian and took care of the animals as well as the farm itself.  Her grandmother had raised her after the death of her parents and even after college and the death of her own husband, she still called the old place her home.  She wanted to be no place else.  So why was the attic off limits to her?

Kate knew something wasn't right.  There were too many unanswered questions about her parents and the answer was in that attic.  So after slipping the keys from her grandmother's room she went on a search through the attic.  There hidden under some old boxes she found a small, blue journal that appeared to belong to her mother.  She took it back to her room, read it and then went in search of her grandmother for the truth.

When Kate started asking questions I had no idea what she was going to turn up.  I was truly surprised when I learned the answers to my own questions.  I never dreamed her family secrets would turn out to be what they were.  And I don't believe she had any idea as to the size of the can of worms she was about to open.

This book will make you stop and think.  It will make you really understand that people do make mistakes but blood is normally thicker than those mistakes.  And forgiveness is even thicker.  A beautiful story of love and hate.

Starlight's Curse - K. C. Sprayberry, Author

7:27 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Enchiladas

(Brad knows the way to Jayme’s heart in Starlight’s Curse. What better way for a man to convince the woman he’s in love with to stick around than to whip up a dish that’s sure to warm not only her heart but also her stomach on a snowy winter night? These enchiladas are great for a couple or a family. Rarely does my household have any leftover to warm up the next day.)

1-1.5 pounds of lean ground beef, browned and drained
4 ounces plain cream cheese, chunked
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic chopped, or a couple of squeezes of minced garlic from a bottle
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon non-iodized sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or dried red pepper flakes)
15 ounce can enchilada sauce
2 bags of Sargento 4 cheese Mexican Blend (don’t substitute Taco Cheese. The spices will significantly change the flavor)
Flour tortillas                           Lettuce
Tomato                                    Avocado or Guacamole
Sour Cream                             Chopped Onions
Salsa (can be from the store or homemade)

Preheat oven to 350.

After browning and draining the lean ground beef, return to pan you’ve wiped out with a paper towel and cook again until all fat is absorbed. Add cream cheese and stir until it is completely melted into the meat. Add onion, garlic, spices, simmer for a few minutes to bloom the flavors. Take a handful of the 4 cheese Mexican blend and add to the mix. Remove from heat

Wrap flour tortillas in paper towels and microwave to soften about 2 minutes. Open can of enchilada sauce. Coat casserole dish with cooking spray to make it easier to remove enchiladas once they’re done.

Set out a couple of tortillas on the counter, add a heaping spoonful of the meat mixture to one end. Roll up, leaving the ends open. Set in pan. Repeat until you run out of tortillas. There may be meat mixture left, but not much. Occasionally, you might find that you have to squish the enchiladas together. Don’t worry, this makes them taste so much better.

Cover enchiladas with sauce. Use the back of a spoon to be sure every inch of the enchiladas is covered with sauce. Heavily spread cheese over the enchiladas. Bake in 350° oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese melts completely. Serve with favorite toppings.

Starlight's Curse - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Ragged sobs ripped from her throat as she stood beneath the tree.  She raised a shaky hand toward the body, her fingers reaching for a white rectangle pinned to a bright red turtleneck sweater... This was her baby... She dropped to her knees and curled forward.  Her arms wrapped protectively around her body, and she released great, heaving sobs of tremendous loss.  Her daughter hung from the branch of an elm tree.  

Forty years earlier... Far off in the woods, he caught sight of a dozen men wearing white robes and peaked hats slipping between the trees.  It was hard to make out.  Their clothes blended in well with the snow on the ground....  "There Daddy" his voice wavered, cracking into an embarrassing treble.  "The tree.  Look at the tree.  Daddy's head turned kind of slow like.  His mouth dropped open when he spotted the three figures dangling off ropes on that ancient elm... He took off running, his aunt lived off the other side of the road, in a shanty cabin that was the polar opposite of Starlight Mansion.

Many times I've read a book that I said was a page turner, and they were, but Starlight's Curse was a book that I wanted to read through the night and even the next day if need be without putting it down.  A lot of that is because I grew up during the time, 40 years earlier, when the Klan was active.  Part of it was because I also grew up just outside Atlanta and spent many weekends in the North Georgia mountains.  But the biggest part was that the story was so real.  It wasn't fast moving but moved more along the time lines that it would actually take for the events and thoughts to happen in real life.  This book took me in from the first page and held me there until the end.

Order your copy of Starlight's Curse here.

Severed Threads - Kaylin McFarren, Author

2:03 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Tuna Cakes
(A Kaylin Special)

2 cans (5 oz. each) chunk light tuna in water, drained, flaked
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1 cup Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese 
3/4 cup water
1 carrot, shredded
1/3 cup KRAFT Real Mayo Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip Dressing
2 Tbsp. Sweet Pickle Relish
1 egg, beaten

Garnish: 1 sliced lemon

Directions:
Combine ingredients. Refrigerate 10 min.; stir. Heat large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat. Use ice cream scoop to add 1/3-cup portions of tuna mixture, in batches, to skillet. Flatten into patties with back of spatula. Cook 6 min. or until golden brown on both sides, carefully turning patties after 3 min. Drain and cool patties on serving dish covered with paper towel, then squeeze with lemon and enjoy!


Severed Threads - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"Somewhere on board the ship is the gift Mai Le intended for her lover. According to ancient scrolls handed down by my grandfather, it was hidden in a handcrafted box disguised as a Chinese betrothal chest. After a thorough examination of the wood fibers and inscribed markings, there is no doubt in my mind. The lid your father found belongs to this box. The heart of the dragon must be hidden in the wreckage or buried somewhere close by. Prophecy foretells of a lion rescuing the dragon's heart. This is your destiny, Rachel. Your chance to turn your father's dream into reality."

Dr. Lao Ying schedules a meeting with Rachel Lyons in the hope of recruiting funds for lost treasure from the Wanli II ship. This is the mission her father Sam and his partner Chase Cohen had embarked on years earlier.  After examining the items found so far, Dr. Ying is sure the Wanli’s burial place has been found.  But the lack of funding could bring this excavation to a stop, and this is where Dr. Ying hopes to solve the problem. With Rachel's influence at the foundation she works for, the real search can begin. However, Chase Cohen's involvement creates a roadblock in this enterprising venture.

Rachel and Chase were a couple who shared a deep passion for the sea. Then, when Rachel needed Chase the most, he ran off and she hasn't seen him for four long years...that is, not until her meeting with Dr. Ying. She wants nothing to do with him or anything he might be involved in. Her brother Devon warned her about Chase before he disappeared, and now she realizes she should have listened. But as it turns out, Devon isn’t the smartest person in her life. He’s neck deep in trouble with money laundering and may end up in the ocean as shark bait. Chase’s treasure-hunting skills and the Heart of the Dragon he’s after are the only means to saving Rachel's brother from some really bad men.

This book is full of twists and turns. I would find a character that I started liking only to discover my first impression was wrong. Then I would come across one I didn't trust and soon realize I would want them on my side, especially if I were put into some of the situations in which Rachel, Chase and Devon find themselves. Severed Threads is chuck full of murder, drugs, bad guys, and a whole lot of suspense all the way to the end. For anyone who enjoys undersea mysteries, thrillers and adventures, this is the book to read!