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Review: The Undead Pool

The Undead Pool
The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sad to think that there is only one book left to be written in the series. This book is a game-changer. Multiple plot lines come together and weave a complicated tapestry of destruction, magic and revelations. Demons, elves, pixies, vampires and weres must work as a team to bring down one of the baddest enemies, no, not really an enemy, an entity that Rachel has ever faced. Watching Rachel grow as a character has been frustrating at times but in this book, she truly shows that she is more than the sum of her experiences and that she has grown tremendously over the course of the series. Then there is also the Trent dilemma. Fans of the series have been waiting with baited breath for something to happen since Ms. Harrison teased us with the ending of Ever After. She more than makes up for the teasing. Cannot wait for the next book.

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Pumpkin Mole Chili

No photo to go along with this.  Sorry.  Despite that it was delicious.  Inspiration found here at the BrokeAssGourmet.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound or so of ground beef.
  • 1 shallot, minced (didn’t have any onions, not sure how that happened)
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 poblano pepper, chopped (remove seeds and membranes)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cans (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste mixed with equal amount water
  • 2 cans (15 oz) beans (your choice – black, kidney, white)
  • ** Mexican Mole Seasoning blend (from Savory Spices) – to taste.  I think I ended up with about 1 – 2 tsp
  • Chili Powder  – to taste.  Start out with 1/2 tsp and work your way up.
  • 1 small pie pumpkin roasted and mashed OR 1 small can (15oz) pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup (+/- might need more, might need less) water
  • juice of one orange
  • Handful chopped cilantro

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in medium stockpot
  • Add shallots and garlic.  Cook until translucent and golden.
  • Add carrots and poblano pepper.  Cook until softened.
  • Add beef and cook until no longer pink.
  • At this point, add in the diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, the beans and the seasonings.  Salt to taste.  Let simmer about 30 – 45 minutes.
  • TASTE
  • Add pumpkin and orange juice.  Add some chopped cilantro.  If needed, add water
  • TASTE
  • Let cook another 15 minutes or so.  Stir now and then.  If too dry, add some water.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings.  

Serve with diced avocados and some corn chips over rice!

** If you don’t have Mole seasonings, you can substitute 1 – 2tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder.  Dark chocolate powder is better.

Review: Jersey Angel

Jersey Angel
Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not your typical teen romance. Not entirely sure it is a romance. It is more of a coming of age story than a romance. There is a love story sort of but it certainly doesn’t end up with a happily ever after. It is a realistic portrayal of a teen who sees her friends going places and realizes that she isn’t going anywhere. Next September when her friends go away to college, she will be enrolling in the local community college, living in the same NJ shore town, working the same crappy job at her Dad’s marina, sleeping with the same boys who are also staying behind.

Angel is no angel…she’s a teen with an on again off again boyfriend who admittedly sleeps with her best friend’s boyfriend. She does feel guilty but that doesn’t stop her. She is a restless spirit, much like her mother who floats from boyfriend to boyfriend as well. This novel shows a side of teenage girls that is not often shown in novels. Angel and her friends drink, smoke pot, get high, flirt, sleep around and get knocked up. They don’t apologize for it or try to hide it. This is who they are.

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Summer Spaghetti

My Mother-in-law, like my Mom is a great cook.  We are blessed to have two wonderful cooks (and knitters) in our family.  I am trying to take down their recipes so that we can save them for the kids.  That is in effect what this blog is.  Partly a place for me to gather recipes from them as well as from Jeff and I.

MIL makes this dish all the time in the summer.  We made it recently but the kids changed her recipe a bit. Instead of adding cheddar cheese the way she does, they opted to add in some sliced fresh mozzarella.  Either way you make it, it screams summer with its brightly colored tomato pieces and sweet aromatic basil leaves.  The kids also voted to add some butter to the pasta before adding the tomatoes and basil.

photo

There is no real recipe for this.  Here’s the basics:

Make pasta according to the directions on the package.  We have been using whole wheat pasta.  Spaghetti works but if you prefer another shape, go for it.

Drain the pasta and put it into a bowl.  Add a bit of butter to the pasta.  Mix it up to melt the butter.

Cut a good sized handful of grape tomatoes in half.  We used some red and some yellow to make it pretty.

Grab a really big handful of basil leaves (fresh from the garden) and roughly chop them.

Add the basil and the tomatoes.  Give it a good toss.

Slice up some fresh mozzarella.

Salt and pepper it all and serve!

Absolutely Avocados
Absolutely Avocados by Gaby Dalkin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A whole cookbook dedicated to avocados? I’m there! This slim volume (<200 pages) is filled with fun facts about avocados as well as over 80 recipes for ways to incorporate these delicious green fruits into your daily menu plan. Some of the recipes are fairly simple and no brainers – mashed avocado on toast, huevos ranchero with avocados but others are new ideas to me and will certainly be added to my repertoire of avocado recipes. Not entirely sure that I will be making avocado brownies but it might be worth a shot. Stunning photos of the recipes but I would prefer a photo of every recipe. All in all, a surprisingly good single ingredient focus cookbook.

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The weather last week was crazy.  Mother Nature couldn’t make up her mind whether it was Winter or Late Spring.  It was rainy,damp and cold which to Jeff and I means soup weather.  My only request was that he make a soup that was creamy.  This is what he came up with. Everyone here loved it and we are looking forward to making it again.

soup

Ingredients

  • 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ White onion (roughly chopped and caramelized)
  • 2 Celery stalks (roughly chopped and sauteed)
  • 2 Carrots  (roughly  chopped and sauteed)
  • 7 Whole cloves of garlic (left whole and sauteed with onions)
  • 6ish  tomatillos, roughly chopped and sautéed
  • 2 medium/small Batata
  • 1 Poblano (chopped and sauteed)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 Lime juice
  • Oregano (leaves from 3-4 8” sprigs)
  • 3 Haass Avocados
  • Pepper
  • Cilantro to garnish
  • Vegetable broth (1 box – 1 qt)
  • water

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in soup pot.
  • Add onions and whole cloves of garlic.  Saute until caramelized.  This will take some time.  Let them sit a bit before stirring.  Watch so they don’t burn.
  • Once the onions are caramelized, add the carrots and the celery.  Saute until they begin to brown.
  • Remove all the vegetables from the pot.  Add the poblano pepper and saute for several minutes to soften and lightly brown.
  • Remove the poblano pepper.
  • Add the tomatillos to the pot.  Saute until they just begin to break down and release the liquid.
  • Add all the sauteed vegetables back to the pot.
  • Stir in the vegetable stock.
  • Add the chopped batata, lime juice, lime zest and the oregano.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer and add the chopped avocado.
  • Let cook an additional 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Run the soup through the blender at puree in batches.  If necessary, add water to thin the soup to your desired consistency.
  • When completely pureed, place back in pot and season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve garnished with Cilantro and plain yogurt (or sour cream/creme fraiche/crema)

 

For Mother’s Day I wanted to make a new dessert.  I saw this recipe for a Strawberry and Prosecco Tiramisu which sounded great.  Only problem was that I ran out of time and ended up making a plain pound cake topped with a sweetened marscapone topping.  Also made a blackberry mascapone topping.  It went over so well that I had no time to take a picture of it!  Too bad because it looked so pretty with the golden yellow of the pound cake, the creamy marscapone and then the lavender of the blackberry topping.  I thought the cake was a bit dry but everyone else disagreed with me.

Pound Cake

  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Prepare a loaf pan by using your preferred method.  I spray it with Pam and then dust a bit of sugar instead of flour
  • Beat sugar and butter until it is light and fluffy
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
  • Add vanilla and salt
  • Gradually add flour and beat until just mixed
  • Bake for one hour at 350, tenting if the top is browning too quickly
  • Cool 15 minutes in the pan then finish cooling on a rack

 

Sweetened Marscapone Topping

  • 8 oz marscapone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 – 2 tsp vanilla

Directions

Beat all together.  I used my hand held electric mixer and it whipped it up so it was nice and creamy.

 

Blackberry Marscapone Topping

  • 8 oz marscapone cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup blackberries, rinsed and patted dry

Directions

Beat all together using hand held electric mixer until smooth.  There will be some pieces of blackberry that don’t get pureed but that’s okay.