Sunday, April 17, 2016

Midnight Owl Book 1 - Viv Drewa, Author

Easy Grilled Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken Bowls
  With Pineapple Sriracha Crema
(One of Joe's Favorite Dishes)

Serves: 4-6
1 10 oz. package Campbell's Teriyaki Chicken Grill Sauce
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 ripe pineapple,trimmed and sliced
2 large zucchini
2 large red bell peppers, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more to brush grill
salt and pepper
1 Recipe Coconut Ginger Rice and Beans

Teriyaki Chicken: Brush grill where you will be cooking chicken and pineapple with some olive oil. Preheat grill to medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and grill for 6-7 minutes per side, or until completely cooked through.
Remove chicken from the grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Add to a large bowl and toss with warmed teriyaki sauce.

Vegetables and Pineapple: Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and some freshly cracked salt and pepper to a large freezer bag with the bell peppers and zucchini. Toss to coat.
Working in batches, grill vegetables and pineapple at medium high heat until tender and lightly charred all over, about 6-8 minutes for the pineapple, or until caramelized, 8 minutes for the zucchini and 6 minutes for the red bell peppers, flipping everything once during cooking. Once cool enough to handle, slice red bell peppers into strips.

Pineapple Sriracha Crema

3/4 cup sour cream, divided
1/4 cup mayonnaise, divided
3 tablespoons pineapple marmalade
2-4 teaspoons Sriracha, more or less to taste
1 tablespoon lime jice
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped

Add 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoon mayonnaise, the pineapple marmalade, Sriracha, lime juice and cilantro to your blender and chop then puree until smooth, scraping sides down as needed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup sour cream and 2 tablespoons mayonnaise.* Taste and stir in more Sriracha and lime juice to taste if desired.

Assemble: Divide rice between bowls and top with chicken, red bell peppers, zucchini and pineapple. Drizzle with Sriracha Pineapple Crema.
*I stir in more sour cream and mayonnaise after blending to thicken the crema. I find if I add it all to the blender it is too runny.
**Cooking time will vary depending on how much you can cook on your grill at a time.

Midnight Owl (A Joe Leverette Mystery Book 1) - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir Laugh Repeat: Think With Your Taste Buds: A Book and A Dish

"Who's there?" she called out in a trembling voice that didn't sound like her own.  The light behind the door went out and the squeaking door opened slowly.  A man stood there and looked at her.  He was wearing a total-body rain suit, surgical cap and mask.  Only his eyes were visible.  "Hello, Heather," he said in a calm voice.  "What do you want?  Why are you doing this?  Who are you?" she blurted out.  "Now, now.  I'm here to take you on an adventure.  One that will allow you to pay for all the misery you've caused to a lot of people," he said with his calm voice.  "I'm going to make sure you'll never hurt anyone again."  He turned and reached for a pile of what looked like fabric straps from the table.  They were four strips.  He began applying one of them to each of her limbs, tightly, like a tourniquet, a few inches below her torso.

Later... "I was walking my dog and he got upset.  He pulled me over there,"  Amy said, and with a shaky finger, pointed to the black mass at the shore.  "When I got to it, I saw it was a woman's leg."

Amy was just one of the unfortunate who had her day destroyed with the finding of a body part.  Throughout the day others would discover the remains of what would turn out to be a woman which had been mutilated with her body parts being placed in garbage bags and dropped off at various places.  All of the finders were strangers to each other yet they all had one thing in common... a dream.

If you like suspense, this book will throw it out to you with page 1.  I don't believe I've ever read a book that began as deadly as this one did.  I don't believe I've ever read a book that caught me up in the story with the 1st page.  This book did both.  It kept me in suspense to the very end.  I had no idea who the killer, or should I say mutilator, was.  And I'll not reveal any information that might give you a clue.  I will tell you that you are in for a total surprise at the end.  Now I can't wait to read book #2 in this series to see what will happen next and how Author Viv Drewa will entice me into waiting on the edge of my seat for book #3.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Vital Temptations: A Heart's Betrayal - K. L. Lewis, Author

K. L.'s Simple Lemon Pie
(Great for any holiday or occasion. I usually make this on Thanksgiving Day)

Freshly squeezed lemon juice-1/2 cup, or 1/4 if you want it less lemony
2 Egg yolks (Can use full eggs, but need to beat well to reduce clumping)
1 Can Eagle Brand Condensed Milk (Sweetened)
Pie shell of liking (I prefer the 'Ready Crust' graham cracker, reduced fat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix juice, yolks and milk together and pour into your pie shell.  Bake 10-15 minutes or refrigerate overnight. 

*Can add meringue to top it off, but I'm not crazy about meringue

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

The two chatted for several minutes as Bethany continued studying him.  Something about him reminded her of her dad, who always told her to look for a sense of humor in a man.  His beautiful complexion and perfect lips and teeth were an added bonus; she loved a man who took pride in his oral hygiene and nails.  His pearly white smile sparkled at her when he spoke.  Bethany sensed that he was much younger than the guys she usually dated and she was unimpressed that he came to the conference unprepared; nonetheless she accepted his offer for lunch since she hated eating alone.

Dr. Bethany McNeal has just met the love of her life - Dr. Brent Anderson.  Both are attending a conference at the Seattle Children's hospital.  The unprepared Dr. Anderson takes the only available seat left which is next to Bethany.

Just a couple years earlier Bethany had found herself in a relationship with a man she really loved and trusted.  Turned out trust was the last thing he should have been given.  They parted ways with her being extremely cautious when it came to men.  Brent finally broke through the wall she had built and she had fallen so in love with him that she knew there would be no other.   But... Brent came with secrets, both past and present.  Secrets that should end any feelings she has for him.  When she finally learns what he has been hiding from her the pain is unbearable but nothing can kill her love.

As I read Vital Temptations I found myself rooting for Bethany.  Hoping she would open her eyes and see what was going on around her.  Hoping she would listen to her best friends Danielle and Caleb.  Listen to them when they tell her there are other women.  Listen when Danielle introduces her to Charles who falls heavily for her.  This love story will keep you in suspense all the way to the end, wondering what is going to happen to Bethany.  I knew how I wanted it to end.  I'll not tell you what I hoped for but will tell you that it didn't end the way I wanted it to which is good because I think it ended just the way it should.  I had a hard time putting this book down and if you're a fan of a good 'what is she going to do' you'll be glad you picked this one up.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Brazen Shark - David Lee Summers, Author

Japanese-Style Beef and Sweet Potato Stew(A requested dish for Legion's friends Ramon & Fatemeh)
Makes 4 Servings

2 lbs boneless chuck cut in 1-inch chunks
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup honey
10 slices of ginger (nickel sized)
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes in 1-inch chunks
6 oz udon noodles (or angel-hair pasta)

Brown meat in the cooking pot over medium-high heat.

Add vegetable stock to the pan and continue cooking over high heat to deglaze and integrate juices from the meat with the stock.  Add soy sauce, honey, ginger, and a couple of grindings of pepper.

Once liquid reaches a boil, cover and turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

While meat is cooking, cook noodles/pasta according to package directions then drain and set aside.

When meat is nearly tender, stir in sweet potatoes and cook until tender, but not mushy—about 20 minutes.  Add salt if needed, then stir in lemon juice.

Serve by placing pasta to taste in the bottom of the bowl and covering with meat, vegetables and stock.

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

The men took their stations with samurai keeping careful watch. Legion continued to calculate reasons for the airship's capture. A mission to discredit the emperor's power and gain popular support seemed a high probability.  Usurping the throne directly also ranked high.  Either possibility could precipitate further warfare and involve either the United States or Russia.... Legion, you have abandoned me.  Although Mendeleev remained silent, Legion had no problem hearing his thoughts.  Legion considered and after a moment, decided to speak.  "We have not abandoned you.  We have been watching and calculating possibilities."

"Why didn't you stop the samurai from taking the airship? Certainly you can see what a disaster this would be for our goal of world unification."

"We could not stop the samurai without taking over their minds and bending them to our will."

Legion remembered assorted names for himself.  Most were simple combinations of letters and numbers which identified the different machines he once occupied, but some held ancient meanings. Perhaps one had even been his name as a corporeal life form.  He was nothing but a swarm of microscopic machines that reproduced asexually.  Over the millennia he had watched solar systems form as well as thousands of species destroyed in a microsecond.  His main goal in being though was the unification of earth and its people.  This goal has taken him into the minds of a small circle of humans that he has helped by expanding their ability to create items that he feels is needed for them to succeed.  Two of these items became the first air ships and fast moving water ships.

Legion's interference in the creation of these vehicles has taken a turn for the worse.  A group of samurai have captured one of the air ships owned by the Russians.  For some time their intended use for this ship is unknown even to Legion.  When their agenda is made clear, it's up to the humans he contacts to save the world from a major war that will put an end to the unification they all desire.  But can he do this without interfering into the minds of others?

The Brazen Shark was a book that I will say I wouldn't normally have chosen... but... once I started reading I had to continue to see exactly where it would take me.  It took me to a world that is called earth but with an entirely different history.  One that actually had me wondering if there really is a 'Legion' out there that is powering the minds of those who create what most of us can't even imagine.  Could Einstein have been one that was contacted by a being like Legion?  After reading this book it just might be possible.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Murder by Design - Betty Tima Gordon, Author

Jalapeno Potato Soup(A Betty Tima Gordon Specialty)

1 medium onion (chopped)
1/4 cup margarine
5 lbs. sweet potatoes, cubed
8 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeno & juice
Pinch of baking soda (prevents curdling)
4 cups evaporated milk
salt & pepper to taste
Garnish with sour cream & chopped green onion.

Saute onions in margarine.  Add potatoes, chicken broth and cumin.  Cook until tender (20-30 minutes).  Add jalapenos, soda and milk.  Coarsely mash potatoes with potato masher.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Simmer 15 minutes stirring frequently.

(This Jalapeno Potato Soup was given to me by a dear friend more than thirty years ago. At the time, my friend said it was her father's favorite. It remains one of my family's favorite)

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

...drifted into sleep, loud music, cigarette smoke, pink and blue lights, dancers, and David's intense eyes all swirled around her, catching her in their coils before moving farther and farther away... Harshness of grating metal ripped through the silence invading her consciousness.  She bolted upright, "Whaaa...who?  Who's there?"  Terrified, she ran into the kitchen and grabbed one of the knives from the drawer.  As she moved toward the edge of the wall where she could see, the knob turned.  Her hand tightened around the base of the knife as the door opened.  She stared in disbelief at the shadowy figure filling the doorway.

Meet the characters:
Paul Barlow - Homicide Division - Houston Texas - Paul is in the middle of finding a rapist who takes the victim's shoes as a reminder of his deed.
David Farrell - Vietnam Vet - law student - engaged - having an affair
Karen Matthews - law student - in her 40's - in love with David Farrell
Sharon Berg - an impressionable young woman infatuated with David Farrell - wears a Vietnam coin, a keepsake form her deceased brother, around her neck which grabs Farrell's attention
Vicki Sanders - Karen's roommate - hates David Farrell
Kim Lowry - David Farrell's fiance - works for Delta - gone a lot

Now that you've met most of the characters I'll go ahead and tell you that one of them will be raped and one will die.

When I started reading Murder by Design I wasn't hooked in the beginning but I had a feeling it would eventually grab me.  Well it did and it didn't take long.  I found myself both agreeing and disagreeing with Detective Barlow as he tracked down who he believed to be the rapist as well as the murderer.  His main suspect was taken all the way into trial and I was still not sure.  Then the big bomb hit and I will tell you that I was and wasn't surprised.  I suspected the person but not the how.  This is a really enjoyable book.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

All Saints: Murder on the Mersey - Brian L. Porter, Author

Filet Mignon with Rich Balsamic Glaze
(A favorite dish of Detective Inspector Andy Ross)

2 (4 oz. each) filet mignon steaks
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
salt to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup dry red wine

Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over both sides of each steak and sprinkle with salt to taste.  Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Place steaks in hot pan, cook for 1 minute on each side, or until browned.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add balsamic vinegar and red wine.  Cover and cook for 4 minutes on each side, basting with sauce when you turn the meat over. Remove steaks to two warmed plates, spoon one tablespoon of glaze over each, and serve immediately.

All Saints:  Murder on the Mersey - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Detective Inspector Andy Ross pulled the unmarked police Mondeo to a halt, its right side wheels pulled up on the pavement outside St. Matthew's Church in Norris Green in an effort to avoid restricting the traffic flow along Brewer Street...  There were already two police patrol cars parked on the street, together with another pool car identical to his own which he knew would have brought his assistant, Sergeant Clarissa, (Izzie) Drake and Detective Constable Derek McLennan to the scene...  As he neared the scene, Ross could see Dr. Nugent on his knees, his assistant, Francis Lees beside him, both men obviously intent on carrying out their initial examination of the body...  "Oh, my God," Ross exclaimed as he drew closer to the scene...  "I told you, sir,"  his sergeant said, quietly.  "Yes, but this... this is, well, nothing short of bloody monstrous... the victim, a man in his mid to late fifties, has been almost totally eviscerated... "Who found him, Izzie?"   "The poor bloody priest"

Father Gerald Byrne, along with his sister, grew up in Speke Hill, an orphanage that was run by the Roman Catholic Church.  He developed a deep interest in theology and the Church which eventually brought him into the priesthood.   After years of traveling all over the world it also brought him full circle back to St. Luke's where he would be not only their priest but also the priest of Speke Hill.  But, shortly after his arrival the murders started.  Bodies are being placed in various cemeteries after being totally disembowel and mutilated. 

This book took me down a very winding road!  As much as I tried to determine who was carrying out the brutal murders, the harder it was for me to justify my suspicions.  And at the end... I was totally surprised.  As always, Brian L. Porter has written another book that can't be put down.  I can never get enough of his books.  He has a Stephen King/Dean Kunze/Jeffrey Deaver frame of mind when he writes putting him right up there in their class of authors.

All Saints: Murder on the Mersey

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dark Money - Larry D. Thompson, Author

Jackson Bryant’s Huevos Rancheros
By Vicki Thompson (Larry's Wife)

This is an old-fashioned “seat of your pants” style recipe.  It is actually more of a cooking method than a recipe but it is a crowd pleaser.  Have fun with the flavors you add to match your family’s tastes.
Prep time 10 minutes
Cooking time 20 to 40 minutes

1 to 2 large eggs per serving needed: 4 to 6 eggs for 2 cans each of tomato products – add more cans for more eggs.

2 or 3  8 ounce cans of plain tomato sauce
2 or 3  8 ounce cans of plain diced tomatoes
1 or 2 TBS Salsa – homemade or your favorite prepared – this becomes spicier as it simmers
1 – 2 tsp ground cumin
1 – 2 tsp ground red pepper to taste red pepper taste increases as it cooks so start cautiously and add during the simmer to taste as mild or hot as wanted

Extra salsa for serving on the side
Corn chips of choice
1 ½ cups of shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
Mexican crema as desired
Diced onions as desired


In a deep sided skillet add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salsa and seasonings.  The sauce needs to be slightly deeper than an egg.  Bring the sauce to a full boil and turn down to simmer about 20 mins.  The longer the sauce is simmered the deeper the flavor becomes.  Crack eggs one at a time and drop into sauce in separate sections of the sauce to poach the eggs in the red sauce.  For a two egg serving place two eggs close to each other.  Simmer covered for 12 to 15 minutes until the top of the eggs begin to look white; with a large spoon move the eggs slightly in the sauce to see if the egg is too liquid or is beginning to firm up.  The eggs are best when they hot all the way through, the yolks are still liquid and the whites are firm but not hard. The cooking time differs based on the type of pan, how hard the simmer is and how deep the sauce is.  When learning how I liked to cook mine I would scoop one egg into a bowl to see how cooked it was slipping it back into the pan if necessary.   Line bowls with chips and spoon the eggs and sauce on to the chips.  Add cheese, hot sauce, salsa, onions and crema to taste.   I save left over sauce for more eggs another day or for soft tacos the next morning.

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

"Walt, he's losing a lot of blood.  Pressure is 45 over 20.  Heart is racing at 120 and respirations are rapid and shallow."  Walt called the emergency department at Harris Methodist Hospital to advise that the governor had a chest wound and relay the vital signs.  As they hurried away, they got a report that Edward Hale was dead and Kevin O'Connell was wounded.  Tears came to Walt's eyes as he heard the news.  He was overwhelmed with the thought that he and his team had failed.

Walt Frazier had known Jack Bryant since Desert Storm when he pulled a beam off Jack's leg after an attack by the enemy.  Eventually Walt left the army, joined the Texas DPS and was currently the lead in security for Governor Rob Lardner.  Jack became a powerful lawyer, made his billions and turned his career into a pro-bono which allowed him to help those in most need of a good lawyer.  But when the governor was shot while attending a political Halloween party Jack was assigned to the position of special prosecutor and finds himself participating in the identification of and search for the shooter.

At the very end of this book the Author quotes number 10 of Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing.   'Leave out the parts that the readers tend to skip.' - believe me, he succeeded!  Yes I'm one of those that has a tendency to 'scan' read.  Not with this book.  I read EVERY word and EVERY word held my attention.  It's filled with murder and suspense as well as politics.  It's not only an enjoyable work of fiction, it's also an eye opener as you learn just how deceitful our political representatives really are.  This book will entertain as well as educate.  I find it a book I would highly recommend to anyone.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Dead Medium - Peter John, Author

Margaret's Bakewells
(Her favorite!)

300g plain flour
125g unsalted butter
30g sugar
1 egg

225g butter
225g sugar
225g ground almonds
3 eggs
The grated zest of 1 lemon
50g plain flour
jar cherry jam

200g Icing Sugar

As my mother always told me, there's no need to flounce around the kitchen when it comes to making shortcrust pastry. Throw the flour, butter, sugar and egg into bowl and mix well. I use the big Kenwood mixer Alf brought me for my birthday last year but a bit of elbow grease will do the job just fine. If the mixture feels a little loose just add a smidgen of flour. If it's too tight, a dribble of water or milk will help. Once you're happy with your short crust, dust your counter with flour and tip the pastry on to it. Find a rolling pin, mine is usually in the top drawer next to the sink, and roll out the pastry to fit whatever tin you have to hand. I use a round tart tin. It's just a bit smaller that those old vinyl albums they used to sell down the high street years ago. I've still got a few. Everything's on those compact thin gummies now. People say they sound better but I prefer my Pat Boone with a little crackle. Anyhow, once your pastry is in the tin perforate the base with a fork as many times as you can fit and stick it in the oven, 20 minutes should do it. I usually preheat mine at 200c (Gas mark 6).

While that's baking you had best get on with the filling. Grab a bowl and beat the butter and sugar together until it's all fluffy. Throw in the ground almonds, then the eggs. I find it's best to do them one at a time, beating as I go. If the mixture begins to split, Don't panic, just add a smidgen of flour. This next bit is important, I got this wrong once and it was an awful mess. Stop with the beating and gently fold in the flour and lemon zest.

You should have taken your pastry out of the oven by now, let it cool before spreading cherry jam across the base. leave 2 cm gap around the edge. Grab your filling and spread it over the jam. Bung the tin back in the oven for another 20 minutes or until set and golden-brown, I turn mine down to 180 c for this bit. Once baked make sure it's completely cooled before doing the next bit.
For the icing tip the icing sugar into a bowl. Add a little water and keep stirring until you get a think fondant, adding water as needed. Pour the fondant over the cake and wait for it to set. If I'm feeling adventurous I pipe melted chocolate across the fondant while it's still loose and then drag a knife across it to form a marble pattern which looks rather effective but is not essential; it tastes just fine without it.

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

George's hand on her shoulder silently comforted her.  She would have usually pulled away from him and given him the sharp end of her tongue but at that moment she didn't.  It wasn't fear that held her temper.  Even though she hated to admit it, his presence reassured her.  His touch anchored her, preventing her form drifting into the darkness above.  Had she been alone she might have reacted to the bewildering feeling that was overwhelming her.  The fear made her shy away from the darkness but also drew her toward it.  The temptation to let go felt familiar, it almost felt like a sense of belonging.  It was as if the darkness marked a path she was meant to travel, a passage home.  

May Elizabeth Trump spent her young years in a orphanage, her adult life being a recluse that saved every penny earned, and now she can speak to those who have passed as well as those who are still living.

Penny Saunders lives in the same town as May but has passed leaving her only child Chloe in a bad financial position.  Chloe must now pay for her college education as well as the upkeep on the family home that Penny has spent her life trying to hold on to.

Then comes the idea that will involve Margaret, May's only 'friend', and her Thursday Night Club, which is a group of 4 ladies who dabble in the 'psychic business.'  With May as the medium they can line up clients of ghosts who want to talk with those left behind and charge the living, allowing Chloe an income so she can continue with her education as well as keep the house.

One important piece of information that I haven't told you.  May is dead therefore being the Dead Medium.

This book is full of humor, ghosts, and some uncertain beings that are called the Soul Stalkers who May has been warned about by a ghost named George.  But... even though she never cared for a living soul when alive, for some reason May is drawn to Chloe and feels the need to help her in any way possible.  This story kept my finger busy as it turned page after page.  I couldn't wait to see what the next page and even sentence had to add.  And the ending - that was a total surprise.  It also left a very large opening for another chapter in the Dead Medium which I hope Author Peter John brings forth very soon.

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