Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review: Home, Hearth, and Holidays

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With holidays approaching in the charming town of Appleton, and Daphne Ballinger's deadline to "get hitched" drawing closer, Daphne finds herself happily distracted with the unexpected tasks of "motherhood" Young Mabel is enjoying the attention, but the clock is ticking and unless love comes her way, Daphne's delightful life will start unraveling by spring.

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Book 3 in the series! I can't believe that I had this one on my shelf already as well. It might be time to take stock of what's sitting there, eh?

The Good: Another easy to read title and slowly some of those threads are starting to come together and it's becoming pretty clear to see how this series is going to end. I adore Mabel and I was so glad to see a bit of Daphne's best friend back in this book. She was very much missed in book two.

The Bad: Again, no identification that this is book #___ in a series. I really think that's important so that people know when the pick up the book. I will say that the author needs to watch for inconsistencies like who knows what, what houses are for sale/rent, and what people's names are. Both her
The Summary: If you've made it this far, you need to read this book as well, if only for Mabel's sake. Time is ticking...what's going to happen to Daphne, Mabel, Lucy, and Ethel?





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Monday, August 14, 2017

Crockpot Monday: French Dip Sandwiches

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While these aren't one of my personal favorites, my boy seem to love them and what better way of balancing out the pre-school preparation than to treat them to some of their dinner favorites!

Ingredients:
2 pounds thin pieces of steak (fajita meat works well for this!)
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups beef broth
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1 yellow onion, cut in rings
3 cloves smashed and chopped garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Put the butter into the bottom of the crockpot and turn on. Add the meat, garlic, and onions, and swirl around in the butter. Pour in the broth, beer, and cooking sherry. Add pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours.

If your meat is still in large chunks, remove it carefully, and slice. Return the meat back to the broth.
Serve on rolls with the juices on the side.

Dip the sandwich into the broth before each bite for a nice juicy flavor and consistency.


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Friday, August 11, 2017

Book Review: Dating, Dining, and Desperation

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Daphne Ballinger has learned to accept her deceased, eccentric aunt’s strange request that she marry in order to inherit her estate, along with taking over her aunt’s hometown paper’s advice column.

But knowing and accepting that God’s will be done becomes harder when a new neighbor, a divorced socialite, learns of Daphne’s predicament and takes on the task of finding her the perfect man, even if it includes speed dating. When God does open Daphne’s heart, it is instead to take in a young girl left parentless and in the care of her dying grandmother. It may be a temporary arrangement until the girl’s uncle returns from the Marines, but God uses Daphne to speak His heavenly love and protection into the life of the child -- whom Daphne soon discovers has a very handsome and single uncle.

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Once I discovered that the story wasn't done in book 1, I realized that I had books 2 and 3 already on my shelf and could dive right in...just like we're about to do with the review!

The Good: I loved the addition of Sabrina in this book. She was a dose of "interesting air" on what was starting to feel like a sad neighborhood. Add in that little girl and her story and I was smitten. I could very much relate to parts of this book and what some of the characters were going through.

The Bad: I really missed Daphne's best friend in this book. It very much felt as if she had been forgotten. Of course, there's also the fact that again, this book is part of a series and in no way does it say book 2 on it. The only thing that may tip you off is where it says that it's another Dear Daphne story. That doesn't scream part of a series where you have to have read the previous books to me.

The Summary: Another easy, throw in your tote bag and laze in the hammock kind of book. If you don't mind cliffhanger series, go ahead and add this one to your to read pile.


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Monday, August 7, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Creamy Beef with Noodles

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August already! Where did the summer go? In just a few short weeks, the boys will be back in school and we'll be eyeball deep in football and marching band. While I love Fall, I'm not quite ready for summer to give up its grip on us....

Ingredients:
2 pounds stew meat
2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted; your choice)
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon black pepper, depending on your tastes
2 tablespoons dried minced onion (1 one small yellow onion, finely diced)
1/4 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
1/2 block of cream cheese (4 ounces)
*Pasta

Directions:

Place all ingredients, except cream cheese into crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours. Stir in cream cheese until it’s fully incorporated. Serve over hot pasta.


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Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel

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With high hopes, Daphne Ballinger lands her dream job at The New York Times. But it's not long until writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her own failed romance, and her love of the city slowly sours as well. Is it time to give up the Big Apple for her small hometown of Appleton?

When her eccentric Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizeable estate to Daphne, going back home is an easy choice. What isn’t easy is coming to terms with the downright odd clauses written into the will.

Daphne only stands to inherit the estate if she agrees to her aunt's very specific posthumous terms -- personal and professional. And if she fails to comply, the sprawling old Victorian house shall be bequeathed to . . . Aunt Dee’s cats.

And if Daphne thinks that’s odd, wait until she finds out an array of secrets about Aunt Dee's life, and how imperfect circumstances can sometimes lead to God's perfect timing.

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This cover has been staring at me from my bookshelf and so I finally gave in and grabbed it. I have zero regrets. Let's get into the review!

The Good : The characters in this book are hard not to love. I found myself wishing that I'd had an Aunt Dee when I was growing up and I really could connect with Daphne as she struggles to find herself. The book moves smoothly and was perfect for a lazy afternoon along the river.

The Bad: The book ends rather abruptly without any of the plot threads being tied off. Luckily, a quick Amazon search showed me that this was book 1 of 4 in a series. Nowhere on the book does it actually say that.

The Summary: A fun, light read that will pull you in and keep you there to the end.


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Monday, July 31, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Cajun Turkey Breast

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If you're anything like me, you're longing for a vacation right about now. I'm not going to lie. I would kill for a few days away someplace with a hot shower, a cozy bed, and some really good food. Sadly, it's not in the cards...well those first two things, anyway! Really good food we can do!

Ingredients:
Turkey breast
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper (cayenne)
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 cup chicken broth

Directions:
In a bowl, combine all of your spices together. Rub the turkey with the spice mixture, getting it in all the nooks and crannies. Put the turkey into your crockpot, breast side down. If you have extra spice mix left, go ahead and pour it on top. Add the 1 cup of chicken broth.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Beer Braised Turkey

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If the beer in this recipe gives you a moment of pause, don't worry...the alcohol will cook out well before serving. Personally, I'm contemplating changing this recipe up with a bottle of cider instead of beer. If you do a bit of experimenting, be sure to comment and let me know what you tried and how it turned out!

Ingredients:
2 pounds potatoes, washed and quartered
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 pounds turkey drumsticks, or a bone-in turkey breast
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon dried basil (or 1/4 cup finely diced fresh basil leaves)
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer

Directions:

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the potatoes and onion into the bottom of your crockpot, and add turkey on top. Drop in butter, basil, and lemon juice. Sprinkle on salt, and pour in the beer.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.


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