Deadly Gamble - Connie Shelton, Author

12:25 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Pedro's Green Chile Sauce (for chicken enchiladas)

1 T. shortening or vegetable oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped green chile 
1 c. chicken broth
1/4 t. garlic powder
2 T. flour
1/2 t. salt (if chicken broth is salty, start with less and taste before adding the full amount)

Heat shortening in saucepan, saute onions until glossy. Add green chile, garlic powder and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Stir the flour into a small amount of cold water in a cup and blend until smooth, then gradually stir the flour mixture into the boiling chile sauce. It will thicken pretty quickly. Taste, and add more salt if desired.

(For an added touch, I usually add about 1/2 cup diced tomato. You can also add a little chopped leftover beef or pork.)

Simmer 15 to 20 minutes so the flavors will blend well and serve over enchiladas, burritos or any Mexican dish that needs a sauce.

Pedro's Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas (Charlie's favorite!)

1 recipe green chile sauce, above
8 corn tortillas
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
1/4 c. finely diced onion
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
lettuce and tomato, chopped, for garnish
sour cream (optional)

Make the sauce and keep it warm. Heat oil in a skillet, then quickly dip each tortilla in the hot oil for a few seconds, turning once with tongs, then placing on paper towels. You want the tortilla to be soft, not crispy. Place 2-3 tablespoons shredded chicken and a sprinkling of diced onion along the center of each tortilla and roll it up. Place the rolled tortillas in a baking dish, top with the sauce and cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees about 15 minutes or just until cheese is melted. [Alternately, place two rolled tortillas on each dinner plate, top with sauce and cheese, and microwave 30-45 seconds to melt the cheese.]

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chopped lettuce and tomato. Typically, in New Mexico these would be served with refried beans and Spanish rice on the side.
Makes four servings, two enchiladas each.

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

Working on a case for Stacy North would have probably been the last item ever on my agenda.  Stacy had been my best friend and roommate in college.  My best friend, right up until the day she eloped with my finance, Brad North.  Although I came to realize later that it was all for the best, such situations do tend to put a damper on friendships.  So when she came to my office asking for my help in recovering a 'stolen/lost' Rolex watch Brad had given her for Valentines day just two weeks earlier, my first thoughts were no way.  But there was a desperation in her eyes that pulled me back from throwing her out.

Charlie Parker and her brother Ron  are partners in RJP Investigations.  Charlie normally acts as the accountant while Ron does the dirty work but he was out of town at the moment and Stacy was desperate.  She had to recover the watch before the next night so Brad wouldn't find out it was missing.  As Charlie started to pull the details out of a tight mouthed Stacy, she found that the person who took the watch was a bit more than a thief.  Apparently he was also a lover.  But after finding out that the watch had been pawned at a local Pawn shop, Charlie was able to retrieve it and return it to Stacy.  End of story.  End of case.   Well, it would have been the end had it not been for a murder that takes Charlie and Stacy deeper into an investigation that will end with Stacy being the main suspect.

I turned page after page looking for hints as to who the murderer really was.  I knew who I hoped it would be.  I knew who it wouldn't be.  I knew who I thought it would be.  Turns out that I was wrong all the way around and was in for a total surprise at the end.  This book really took me on a thrilling mystery.  I loved it and can't wait to read book 2 'Vacations Can Be Murder.'

All Lies - Lies #1 - Andrew Cunningham, Author

12:08 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



ANDREW'S FAMOUS CARROT CAKE
His only claim to fame!
(and he stole it from his mother, who stole it from a neighbor…)

1 1/4 CUPS OIL
1 1/2 CUPS SUGAR
2 CUPS FLOUR
3 EGGS
2 tsp CINNAMON
2 tsp BAKING SODA
2 tsp VANILLA
1 tsp SALT
1 BAG COCONUT (7 oz)
2 CUPS GRATED CARROTS
20 OZ. CAN CRUSHED PINEAPPLE (INCLUDE JUICE)

MIX ALL TOGETHER AND BAKE AT 350 FOR 1 HOUR IN GREASED 9X12 PAN


FROSTING:

6-8 OZ PACKAGE OF CREAM CHEESE
CONFECTIONERS SUGAR
1 STICK MARGARINE/BUTTER
VANILLA

BLEND CREAM CHEESE AND BUTTER/MARGARINE, THEN ADD CONFECTIONERS SUGAR UNTIL IT'S SO SWEET YOUR TEETH DROP OUT (ABOUT 1/2 A BAG OF SUGAR).  ADD VANILLA TO TASTE.

**Walnuts can also be added to recipe, but since they make my ears tickle, I don't use them.



All Lies - Lies #1 - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

My father's last words to me were "I come from a long line of idiots..."  My family did have an abnormally high incidence of stupidity running through its genes.  As far back as I could determine, my ancestors - the men, to be specific - were known for their questionable actions, actions that usually left them dead.

I (on the other hand) was 38 years old, but had never really lived.  I had no passions - well, other than baseball, which can be a pretty solitary interest.  I'd always been one of those invisible people.  If I was a character in a movie, I'd be the first one eaten by the shark.  I had worked at my current job for ten years and was good at my work.  I handled the customers well and, as far as I could determine, my staff all liked me.  I possessed a decent amount of common sense and problem-solving skills - a necessity of my job.

Del Honeycutt's life is about to take a full turn.  The death of his father will bring to light the history of crimes committed 85 years earlier by his great-grandfather and a few of his friends.  As he researches this unwanted history with the help of mystery writer Sabrina Spencer, he finds that not only is his life in danger but also the lives of Sabrina as well as the relatives of those they contacted regarding this long forgotten crime.

All Lies is unlike any book I've read.  The characters of most murder/suspense books are macho characters that decide they are the only ones that can handle the business at hand.  Not this one.  They actually acknowledge the police and even inform them (most of the time) while solving and ending the history of ancestors long gone.  This lack of 'Bad' Good Guy characters made this an easy book to read as well as one that I didn't want to put down.  If book 2 'Fatal Lies' is anywhere near as good as book one, I can't wait to jump into it!  I recommend this to all mystery readers.  It's a refreshing change.

Just a Touch Dead - Jordania Sydney Robinson, Author

11:27 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Hazelnut Brownies
(A Bridget Special)

box of 16 Ferrero Rocher chocolates
250g pack salted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g golden caster sugar
225g light muscovado sugar
100g cocoa powder
4 large eggs
100g self-raising flour
85g ready-chopped hazelnuts
4 tbsp Frangelico or Fratello hazelnut liqueur (or Disaronno)

Unwrap the chocolates, place on a tray and pop in the freezer. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Lightly grease and line the base and sides of a 21-22cm square tin with baking parchment.
Put the butter, sugars and cocoa into your largest saucepan and gently melt together, stirring regularly so the mixture doesn’t catch. Once the sugar granules have just about disappeared, take off the heat, tip into a bowl and leave to cool for 5 mins.
Use a whisk or wooden spoon to beat the eggs, one by one, into the mixture. When they’re completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth and shiny, stir in the flour, hazelnuts and liqueur. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35 mins.
Remove the tin from the oven and use a cutlery knife to mark the top of the brownies into 16 squares (don’t cut through, it’s just as a guide). Use a teaspoon to push a little dent in the centre of each portion and add a frozen Ferrero Rocher chocolate into each dip. Return to the oven for 3 mins, then remove and leave to cool completely.

Once cool, cut into 16 squares. Will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.

Just a Touch Dead - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

My long, pillar-box-red hair fanned out around my head like a vibrant halo, my fringe artfully covering one eye.  It looked great, really thick and shiny.  Why couldn't I get it to look like that normally?  I looked closer.  No, it wasn't my hair, or it wasn't just my hair, it was a rapidly spreading pool of blood from the back of my head colouring the pavement.  Huh.  But at least my white Christian Dior trouser suite was blood free.  I'd have died it that'd had any bloodstains on it.  Oh, wait.  No, I couldn't be dead.  If I was dead I wouldn't be floating around watching.  I'd just be, well, dead.  Right?

Meet Bridget Sway.  She has been hit by a bus but she isn't really dead.  At least that's what her 'angel' Charon has told her.  She is simply on a 'day trip' giving the doctors a chance to pump her body full of drugs so it won't hurt so much when she pops back in.

Charon had her board a bus filled with a group of crying people.  Something just wasn't right but she agreed to go along for the ride.  Then Charon explained to her that the other people on the bus were actually dead.

This book grabbed me from the beginning.  It's actually a short book serving as an introduction to Bridget Sway.  It has a touch of humor, while giving you a touch of the dark side of what Bridget finds in the afterlife.  For me - I have developed the desire to read the next book in the series... Beyond Dead.

Curse The Day - Annabel Chase, Author

6:13 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Angel Food Cake in honor of Daniel, the beloved fallen angel--

1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 cups egg whites 
1 teaspoon cream of tartar 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 teaspoon almond extract 

Directions

Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and then add cream of tartar, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
Sift together flour, sugar, and salt. Repeat five times.
Gently combine the egg whites with the dry ingredients, and then pour into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan.
Place cake pan in a cold oven. 
Turn the oven on; set it to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). 
Cook for about one hour, or until cake is golden brown.
Invert cake, and allow it to cool in the pan. When thoroughly cooled, remove from pan.

Curse the Day - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

Daniel carried me in his arms like I'd watched Superman carry Lois Lane countless times, except Daniel didn't wear a unitard.  This time I forced my eyes to stay open so I could watch the town pass beneath our feet.  No easy feat for someone with my anxiety issues.  It was, for lack of a better word, magical.  I saw the church spire on a distant hill and the clock tower in the town square.  The town was bustling with people, or creatures that looked remarkably like people, and the buildings seemed to stretch beyond the horizon.

I still felt the need to pinch myself.  Today I'd met an angel, two fairies, and what I was fairly certain was an elf.  And now I was bout to meet a coven of witches.  It was an amazingly lucid dream and I was sure I'd awaken at any moment.  Never again would I eat the entire bag of Doritos before bed.

Emma Hart, Attorney, was on her way to meet with a new client.  Apparently somewhere along the way she has taken a wrong turn, or was it a turn that was really meant to be?  Whatever the case may be she, being the kind person she is, spotted a man standing on a cliff preparing to jump to his death.  She stopped her car and proceeded to prevent his demise from happening.  In the process she apparently didn't turn her car off before exiting.  She turned around to see it coming straight for her.  Her only means of escape was to jump into the lake.  Not good for a non-swimmer!  But before her own fatal death could occur, the man on the cliff swooped down and headed straight for her.  He flew!  He had wings.

Welcome to Spellbound.  Emma has found herself trapped in a community that housed everything from Witches to Vampires.  She also found that being an attorney put her in the perfect position of becoming the next Public Defender for Spellbound.  It appears that the original defender was murdered.  He was a vampire and someone had 'staked' him.  She now has the duty of taking over his case load as well as finding his murderer.

This book is so funny!  It's book one in the Spellbound Paranormal Cozy Mystery Books and I enjoyed every page.  Someone needs to pick this series up for a TV movie series.  I have no doubts it would be loved by the young generation as well as those of us in the older generation.

A Scone to Die For - H. Y. Hanna, Author

1:18 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Scone Recipe
(From A Scone to Die For)


Scones have a long history, originating in Scotland in the 16th Century, and are said to have taken their name from the Stone of Destiny where Scottish kings were once crowned. They are a “quick bread”, a bit similar to Southern “biscuits” in the United States. the original version was triangular-shaped, made with oats and griddle-baked rather than baked in the oven. They have since become one of the highlights of British baking – no traditional English afternoon tea would be complete without warm scones with jam and clotted cream!

A great debate rages in the United Kingdom over the correct way to pronounce “scone” – those in the North say it should rhyme with “cone” whilst those in the South insist that it should rhyme with “gone”. Meanwhile, people have come to blows over whether you should put the cream on first and then jam… or the jam first and then the cream!

There is now a huge variety of scones, both sweet and savory, made with dried fruit, nuts, vegetables, cheese, chocolate chips – and even a recipe with lemonade! This is a recipe for a traditional English plain scone, but it can be modified with the addition of your favorite treats.

Ingredients
500 grams all-purpose flour (approximately 4-1/4 cups or 17.6 ounces)
4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder*
1/2 cup caster sugar (super fine sugar)**
125 grams butter, room temperature (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon or 4.4 ounces)
150 ml full fat milk (just under 2/3 cup)
2 eggs beaten lightly
Egg and milk wash for the “egg wash” to glaze the scones

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 250C / 400F
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl (this is important to add more “air” to the mixture).
Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers – it is important to coat the flour with butter as much as possible. Keep doing this until the mixture has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar to the mixture and mix well with your fingers.
(This is the stage when you can add in extra ingredients such as raisins and currants, if you wish.)
Add the eggs and some of the milk – do not add all the milk at once; go slow and check that the dough does not become too wet otherwise the scones will “drop”.
Mix well with your fingers until the dough forms a ball.
Tip the dough onto a floured board, scatter some more flour on top, and then knead lightly. It is very important not to over-work the dough otherwise the scones will become very hard.
When the dough looks smooth, gently pat it out (or use a rolling pin) into a thick slab, about 1 – 1.5 inches thick. This is one of the secrets to great scones – not rolling the dough out too thinly.
The dough should now be rested for at least 30 minutes – unless you are using a single-acting baking powder. Some chefs say that resting the dough for hours, even overnight, is the secret to getting really light, fluffy scones.
Using a cutter of your choice, stamp out the scones from the dough. Be careful not to twist the cutter as you are pressing it down – only twist it gently at the very bottom to free it.
Roll up any leftover dough and spread it out again – keep cutting out scones until you have used up all the mixture.
Place the cut rounds onto the greased baking tray or baking paper.
Brush the tops with the the egg and milk wash – this will give them a lovely golden glaze.
Bake in the hot oven for about 12 – 15 minutes.
Cool the scones on a wire rack.
Serve warm with some jam and butter or clotted cream!

Enjoy!

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

"You want a few words, young man?  I'll give you a few words."  Mable stood up from the next table where she and the other Old Biddies had obviously been listening.  The reporter turned to her eagerly, "Yes?  Were you a witness as well?"  "Oh yes, and I even met the victim the day before." Mable nodded emphatically.  "Really?  What was he like?"  The reporter's tongue was practically hanging out.  "Flatulent."  "Er... fla...flatulent?" He looked bewildered.  Mable nodded.  "Yes, I didn't actually hear him break wind, you understand, but I could tell just by the tone of his skin.  Not enough fiber in his diet.  I'm sure of it.  Now, all he really needed was to take a spoon of bran every morning - just like Mr. Cooke does.  My doctor recommended this marvelous stuff for my Henry.  Particularly if you're constipated or if your haemorrhoids are acting up.  No need for laxatives to hurry things along."  She looked at the reporter intently.  "Do you go regularly, young man?"

I don't normally open my reviews with such a long script from the book but this conversation is one that had to be shared.  Mable is one of the group Gemma calls the "Old Biddies."  Gemma is actually from a tiny Cotswold village and has returned to her roots and opened a little establishment called Little Stables Tearoom which is run by her, her friend Cassie and her chef Fletcher Wilson.  The "Old Biddies" are becoming regulars at the tearoom and if you want to know anyone's business, just ask them.  So, when Gemma comes in to work one morning and finds a dead man sitting outside with a scone stuffed in his mouth, the Biddies know exactly what his problem was.

This book was one I would pick up, read a few chapters, put it down just to pick it right back up.  It's full of humor as well as a mystery that kept me in the dark.  I had my suspect and ended up changing my mind several times.  When the real killer was revealed I was shocked.  Never suspected that character to be the bad one.

A Silver Medallion - James R. Callan, Author

11:29 AM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Callan's Oatmeal Cookies

Start with
            ¾ cup of butter
            ½ cup granulated sugar
            1 cup brown sugar
            1 teaspoon of baking powder
            ¼ teaspoon baking soda
            1 teaspoon cinnamon
            ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and ground cloves and beat until mixed and smooth.
            2 eggs
            1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla
Now, mix in the eggs and vanilla until well mixed and smooth.
Next, if you have a good mixer, use it.  Otherwise mix by hand.
            1 ¾ cups of all purpose flour
            2 cups of rolled oats
After all of the above is well mixed in, then add and mix only enough to distribute the nuts and cranberries.
            1 cup pecans or walnuts
            1 cup of dried cranberries or Craisins
Use a teaspoon to put small mounds of dough on a cookie sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Some like the cookies softer and some like them crisper.  You decide, or make a pan of each.


This will make about 5 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie you bake.  If you have a  large enough mixer, you can double this recipe, cook half of it and put the remaining batter in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.  Then, you can bake the rest tomorrow, yielding hot, fresh cookies on both days, with only one mixing.  Happy eating.

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

Crystal's grandmother stood under a maple tree.  Eula Moore was staring at the small storage shed about twenty feet behind her house.  She aimed a double-barreled shotgun at the door of the building.  "Don't make no sudden moves.  I got a nervous trigger finger.  I might just blow your head off."  Nothing moved.  "Now, very slowly, come on out in the open, and keep them hands over your head where I can see 'em."  Crystal crept up beside her grandmother, "What's in there, Nana?" she whispered.  A few moments passed.  Then a single finger came into view. Gradually, it turned into a whole hand, waving in a small arc.  "Por favor, no dispare."  The tiny brown hand fluttered again.  The voice quavered slightly, "Please.  No shoot.  No shoot."

Crystal Moore was paying her grandmother Eula a visit at her home "The Park."  Finding her Nana standing in a defensive stance with a shotgun pointed at one of the buildings wasn't what she had expected to walk into.  She also wasn't expecting the troubles that followed the discovery of a young Mexican woman hiding inside that building.

Rosa was her name.  She had been smuggled across the border to serve as what Crystal called a 'slave' to one of Dallas' most prominent men.  And to keep her under his control she is told that her husband will be killed if she talks to anyone or tries to run.

In Crystal's attempt to help Rosa as well as others in this same situation, she finds herself in the heart of Mexico where family members of those enslaved are being held.  This task is one that could cost her her own life as well as the lives of those close to her.

If you want a twisting road ride, you'll find it in A Silver Medallion.  I thought the first book in this series 'A Ton of Gold' was good.  This second book in the Crystal Moore Suspense Series has taken it a step further.  My word to Author James R. Callan is "hurry up and give me book 3!"

Southern Spirits (The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Book 1) - Angie Fox, Author

1:42 PM Posted by Martha A Cheves



Coca Cola Cake
(It’s a staple in the South—and in Sugarland, Tennessee. This Coke cake recipe was contributed by Lee Avery Catts to "Atlanta Cooknotes" and was published by The Junior League of Atlanta.)

2 Cups sugar
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup Coca-Cola
1 ½ Cup small marshmallows
½ Cup butter or margarine
½ Cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Teaspoon baking soda
½ Cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
½ Cup butter
3 Tablespoons cocoa
6 Tablespoons Coca-Cola
1 box (16-ounces) confectioners' sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Cup chopped pecans

Preparation
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 15 min
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, sift the sugar and flour. Add marshmallows. In a saucepan, mix the butter, oil, cocoa and Coca-Cola. Bring to a boil and pour over dry ingredients; blend well. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk just before adding to batter along with eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well. Pour into a well-greased 9- by-13-inch pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and frost immediately.

Coca-Cola Cake Frosting
To make frosting, combine the 1/2 cup butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons of Coca-Cola in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over confectioners' sugar, blending well. Add vanilla extract and pecans. Spread over hot cake. When cool, cut into squares and serve.


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


"You want to help?" I asked, making sure I reached clear of Lucy as I dumped the contents of the vase over Grandma's rosebushes.  She gave the little pile a sniff and sneezed.  "You said it."  The dirt was loose and dry, which I was glad to see. I'd heard that sort of things was good for the roots.  It certainly couldn't hurt.  When the last of the fine dust had settled out of the air, I hosed out the vase and poured the water on the roses.  

After clipping a rose from the bush, putting it in the vase and adding water, Verity returned to the home she had inherited from her grandmother.  What happened next takes her on a journey that could only traveled by a strong minded southern girl, which she was.

Verity had been engaged to one of the most eligible, prominent members of her hometown Sugarland, Tennessee.  The wedding was planned and she was ready to go through it living happily ever after.  What she learned the day before the actual wedding put a stop on the event and ended up costing her everything she owned.  She had already sold off everything within her grandmother's house, except the dented vase that no one seemed to want.  Unless she found a way to come up with another $20,000 she would also be selling the house which was breaking her heart.

This book is so full of humor!  I'll give you just one hint of what you're in store for when reading Southern Spirits - Lucy is a skunk!  She's had her glands removed so she's safe but so cute you would think her to be a dog or cat.  The problems and events that take place after Verity poured the dirt on the roses leads to even more humor.  Yes, there are ghosts, murder and attempted murder, bringing it all together to make this one of my favorite books.