Thursday, June 30, 2016

He's Married - Maggie Tideswell, Author

Beef Bourguignon 

15 min
3 hr 45 min


5 cloves garlic, smashed
3 fresh bay leaves
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 ribs celery, halved
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
One 750-ml bottle red wine, such as Burgundy
4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces slab bacon, cut into lardons
1 pound cremini or white button mushrooms, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 to 4 cups beef stock
3 fresh bay leaves
1 bundle fresh thyme
1 pound red bliss potatoes, quartered
1/2 bunch fresh chives, finely chopped, for garnish
Crusty bread, for serving


For the marinade: Combine the garlic, bay leaves, carrots, celery, onions and wine in a large bowl or container. Add the beef; cover and let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight. (This is a really important step: it makes a huge flavor difference.)

For the stew: Remove the beef from the marinade. Strain the veggies and bay leaves from the marinade and discard. Reserve 2 cups of the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat a large, wide pan or Dutch oven with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Sprinkle the beef with salt and toss with the flour; do not flour the beef until you're ready to brown it. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pan, but be sure to not crowd the pan; you will need to work in four batches. Brown the meat well on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the pan to a baking sheet.

After the first two batches, deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of the reserved marinade, scraping up any browned bits. Drain the liquid into a small bowl. Add more olive oil to the pan to coat and cook the remaining two batches of meat. Add the meat to the baking sheet. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup marinade, scraping up any browned bits.

Add the bacon and cook until it gets brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Toss in the mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic and onions, and season with salt. Cook until the mixture starts to soften and becomes very aromatic, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup marinade and deglaze the pan, stirring up any browned bits, 1 minute. Add the beef. Stir to combine and cook until the wine has reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add enough of the beef stock to just cover the surface of the beef. Toss in the bay leaves and thyme bundle. Cover the pan, bring the liquid to a boil and put in the oven.

Cook the beef for 2 hours. During the last hour of cooking time, add the potatoes. Cover the pan with the lid and put the stew back in the oven to cook for an additional hour.

Remove the pot from the oven and skim off any excess grease from the surface of the stew. Garnish with the chives and serve with crusty bread to sop up all the sauce.

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

Her stomach knotted painfully and her fingers automatically found the black stone around her neck. Black, to match her shoes.  Dane saw the movement and touched the stone with his index finger. “Is this a superstition?” He grinned and winked at her. “It won’t save you, you know, once I get you alone.”  Between his chuckle and the cold stone against her sternum, her situation couldn’t be worse.
She hadn’t thought much beyond the wedding ceremony and reception, and then only in terms
of the honeymoon Dane had been so secretive about. Her going-away dress had topped the list,
and then she’d worried about what to pack if she didn’t even know where they were going.
The wedding night and sex for the first time hadn’t come into it.  She had better think about it now, because this was it, it was about to become a reality.  They had never been alone together, not really. In the frenzy of wedding arrangements, there had always been people around with the potential of interruption. This was the first time they were truly alone.

Eloise and Dane are married.  They love each other, at least Eloise thinks they do.  But how.  They have only known each other a few weeks.  It was almost a meet, date a few times and tie the knot.  And now it's their wedding night.  They are headed to the Honeymoon Suite and Eloise knows what that means.  But that simply can't happen!  See, Eloise has a secret that only she and her doctor know about.  There is no way Dane will still love and want her after he finds out!  

Then Eloise returns to the place of her wedding in the Hottentots Holland Mountains.  It looked the same but not quite as Gothic as the rainy night of the wedding a week earlier.  That is until she runs into Hugh Fleming and when he suggested that he knew she would be back she felt a bit of uncomfortable fear which will only increase as the horrors of the lodge begin to take place.

This is an erotic book but also a horror mystery.  It keeps you on edge until you discover where the events from the past are coming from and when you determine if they are actually repeating themselves or if its all in Eloise's head.  A really interesting book.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Soldier With A Backpack: Living and Dying Simultaneously - Linda Diane Wattley, Author

Roasted Tofu

(If you’ve never had roasted tofu before, here’s a great way to start.  Toss tofu and asparagus in a tangy orange and basil scented sauce, made rich and savory with miso.  Serve with brown rice or couscous and an orange and fennel salad.)

1 ¼ oz. package extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed
2 Tbsp. red miso, divided
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, divided
4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. freshly grated orange zest
¼ cup orange juice
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.  Pat tofu dry and cut into ½” cubes.  Whisk 1 Tbsp. miso, 1 Tbsp. vinegar and 2 tsp. oil in a large bowl until smooth.  Add the tofu; gently toss to coat.  Spread the tofu in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Gently toss asparagus with the tofu.  Return to the oven and roast until the tofu is golden brown and the asparagus is tender, 8 – 10 minutes more.  Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1 Tbsp. miso, 1 Tbsp. vinegar, 2 tsp. oi, basil, orange zest and juice, and salt in a large bowl until smooth.  Toss the roasted tofu and asparagus with the sauce and serve.

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

I always welcomed sleep because it was a form of escape from the grown up world.  When I would go to sleep, there was always an angelic presence waiting for me.  At the time, I didn't know it was this presence drawing me there, I just knew I couldn't wait to get there.  It was so normal to me that I never wanted to awaken.  In fact, it angered me that I had to wake up at all.  When I heard about the soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, and their struggle to have a decent night's sleep, I was confounded because it is like I am the total opposite of them.  My nightmares are more in the awakening state than the sleep state.  The world is a war zone to me.  My sensitivity to my environment is often times nerve-wracking.  The first thing I wanted to do in an uncomfortable moment is go to sleep.

Author Linda Diane Wattley writes about her life, from childhood to adult.  She writes of the horrors of being molested by someone close, watching the fights between her parents, the desertion of her mother and older brother, leaving she and her younger brothers in the presents of her father who later brings another family into their lives.  She shares all of her feelings as these events take place as well as the other horrors live deals her as an adult.

As I read Soldier With A Backpack I couldn't help but relate to many of the events that took place in her life and how some of those events affected my life as an adult.  I know very few people who haven't commented on how 'hard their childhood was' myself included, but after reading what this author went through I can only thank God for the life I had as a child and my life as it was and is now as an adult.  I know several veterans who suffer with PTSD but never quite understood it until now.  I guess I also never realized that you don't have to be a veteran to suffer this mind fogging disorder.  There is one piece that the author included in the book that I must share.  It's actually by a Jim Kwik and fits all of us, with or without PTSD.

Here it is "If an egg is broken by outside force, Life ends.  If broken by inside force, Life begins.  Great things always begin from inside."  If we could all remember and live by these two short sentences then there is nothing that we can't handle and deal with throughout our lives.  This is a book that I recommend to everyone!  Including young adults.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Alien Embrace - Donna Steele

Italian Cream Cake
(One of Lori's favorites)

2 cups cake flour
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 eggs (separated - whites beaten stiffly)
1 tsp soda
1 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1 cup coconut

Cream margarine and sortening. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Add yolks and beat well.  Shift flour and soda and add to mixture with buttermilk alternately (start and end with dry). Stir in vanilla, coconut and nuts.  Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

Cook in 3 greased and floured 9" pans at 325 for 45 minutes (or until toothpick ready)

Cream cheese frosting -
8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 box powered sugar
1/2 stick margarine.

Beat margarine and cream cheese until smooth, then add vanilla and sugar.

Hope you enjoy!!  It's a family recipe from my Aunt Charlotte who lived in Hickory.

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

Everyone he had known must have cried out at once.  There had been nowhere to run.  He had no idea what had exploded or what could have caused the destruction.  That didn't matter now.  The flames had raced through the narrow corridors, killing everyone inits path by smoke if not flames.  How could everything have gone so wrong?  They'd had such high technology.  He knew the answers, the out-of-control population.  He had only known shortages until he came here.  There was still guilt at every meal he ate.  Now his home was a burnt-out shell.  The structure remained, damaged, probably collapsed in places, but uninhabitable.  And all done to themselves.

As Lori comes out of a coma she finds that she has no memory of her life.  The purse that had been found with her contained only a comb, wallet and cell phone.  Her address meant nothing to her and she couldn't visualize her home at all.  Then she met Dr. Marcus Greene, the doctor called in to consult due to her amnesia.  She knew she had never met hem but there was something familiar about this handsome man standing before her.  Mark was in a long relationship with Cynthia but after meeting Lori he couldn't get her out of his mind.  This is a woman that has stolen his complete being - mind, soul, and body.  But getting to know her, where she really came from and why she is here may change those feelings completely, or could it bring them closer?  You see, Lori isn't from here and Mark will have to accept that fact or walk away from her.  What will he do and is she the only one like her out there?  Maybe not.  Does he even believe in Aliens?  Maybe he better start believing.

I fell in love with this book from page one.  Author Donna Steele writes in a way that allows you to 'feel' each character.  You feel their pain, their joy, their love and you can't get enough of them.  I'm really hoping this is the beginning of many more books in what would make a great series.  When I read this book I couldn't help but remember the series of books written by John Jakes.  This book has so many stem offs as well as connections that would make it a great set of books to read and who knows, maybe into a TV series.

If you like a bit of the known and a lot of love, you can't help but love this book.  On a scale of 1-5 stars I would give this one 7 stars!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hidden Truths & Lies - Fran Lewis & Jake Swerdloff, Authors

Coffin Sandwich

2 slices whole wheat bread
3 slices OSCAR MAYER Smoked Ham
1 KRAFT Singles
1 Tbsp. MIRACLE WHIP Dressing
1 lettuce leaf

Tap or click steps to mark as complete
Cover 1 of the bread slices with ham and Singles. Spread with dressing; top with lettuce. Secure with plastic toothpick, if desired.  Cut sandwich into coffin shape using coffin template and sharp knife. For a more durable template, trace the template onto a piece of cardboard and cut out.

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

My name is Dr. Goldman, and I guess my story began over twelve years ago with a simple comprehensive examination of my patient.  Cursory exam of the teeth, gums and mouth done, I instructed the nurse to take a full set of x-rays.  Leaving Lisa to take the films, I went into my office and returned some phone calls... the films were developed and showed nothing more than two small cavities that I felt could wait to be filled.  But, on the lower left side there was something dark and not very big that looked like she was losing some bone.  So, not thinking anything of it and not wanting to alarm the patient, I never told her about it.

This was a mistake that Dr. Goldman would take through life.  It turns out that he would rather draw out the patient's visits and pocket the money than to point out something that might be a real problem to her health.  It was also a mistake that Dr. Goldman will take to his grave.  See, this patient will get her revenge on this greedy doctor.,

Hidden Truths & Lies is full of short stories of those speaking from the grave.  Those under the head stones and their stories as to how they got there.  The mistakes they made and the events that lead to them never being able to mend those mistakes.  Makes you wonder how many other stories are laying beneath the ground under all those headstones.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Across the Red - Ken Farmer, Author


2 lbs. Jimmy Dean Hot Pork Sausage and 3 pounds of ground chuck.
Saute meat. Sprinkle meat with chili powder and cumin while sauteing.
Teaspoon of sea salt
8 Beef bullion cubes
1 large can tomato juice
Add about 1/2+ bottle of chili powder - a 2.75 oz bottle. (more later)
Add one large red onion, chopped.
Add one can of Hot Rotell Diced Tomatoes with habanero.
Sprinkle Red Pepper or Cayenne or both
Add about a tablespoon Cumin
Sprinkle liberally with coarse ground black pepper
Sprinkle liberally with white pepper
Chop 8 - 10 Jalapeno peppers
Add small can New Mexico green chilis

Simmer low about 6 hours covered. Add one ounce grated medium cheddar cheese
every thirty minutes until you have added at least 4 oz. (1/4 lb.)
Sprinkle slowly while stirring, 3 tablespoons of Masa flour.
Add more chili powder, salt, Louisiana Hot Sauce and cayenne (or Habanero) to taste.

It's better after 24 hours.  May need to add more red pepper or cayenne the second day.

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

"Ma'am, I cannot tell you how sorry I feel for your loss.  I knew Billy through Ranger Hickman and I felt he had the makin's of a fine lawman."  He took her hands in his and gave them a gentle squeeze as she nodded, but said nothing.  The sight of tears streaming down her cheeks caused tears to rim his own eyes as well.  "If there is anythin' I can do for you...anythin'; a'tall, Miz Malena...please contact me over at the Sheriff's office."... He released her hands and tipped his hat as he moved to speak with the other relatives.

Billy Malena was just a kid and it was his first day on the job as a posseman.  He and Texas Ranger Bodie Hickman had been tracking a group of rustlers that had been hitting the ranches around the north Texas area.  They were taking top breed horses and were quickly wiping out the Rafter S Ranch in Cooke County.  Now it was up to a group of Marshals and Rangers to stop them.

I never read westerns!  I've never been a western movie fan and only promised to read this book because of my friend Larry.  Thank you Larry!!!!  Authors Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke have written a book that got me from the beginning.  It's so different from most books I read.  Where most have 1 or 2 main characters, this one has many that keep me rooting for each of them.  And the story... it's so real that I could actually see the events happening.  It held my interest to the point that I didn't want to put it down, even when I had to.  I actually finished it in 3 nights of reading.  As for the suspense, I thought I had the culprit nailed about 3/4 way through.  I hoped I was wrong... I wasn't, but I never would have guessed the final ending of this book.

This book would make a great movie.  And with all the many characters the cast could be a full line-up of stars.   Oh yeah... there is another book in this series titled Bass and The Lady which, even though it's a western, I will be reading!

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