Monday, April 30, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Sweet and Spicy Salmon

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I'm back with more salmon! This isn't a favorite fish of my kids, but I love it. I'm going to keep trying it different ways to see if I can't convince the boys that they love it too.

Sweet & Spicy Salmon:
2 largish pieces of salmon
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon crushed garlic (2 cloves, smashed and chopped)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
aluminum foil


In a medium-sized dish (such as a pie pan), combine all of your spices with the brown sugar. Tear off enough foil for each piece of fish and lay it out on the counter. Place each piece of fish on its own piece of foil and rub the salmon with your spice/sugar blend. Fold the foil over and create a contained packet. Place the packets into the crockpot.

Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours.  Serve with rice or quinoa and some veggies.

I just found out about boil in a bag quinoa! I'm so excited to try that out alongside the salmon. Let me know what you pair with this! I'm always looking for new ideas.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Book Review: The Case of the Clever Secret Code

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Buckley and Bogey, Cat Detectives, find their next big case with the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Agency to be their most difficult yet. It all starts one hot summer day, when the boys are sitting in the front window of their Mom’s antique store. That’s when they see a big, black limo crawling up the street and going right through downtown St. Gertrude. So who is in that long, black car? None other than famous movie star, Steele Bronson! And his surprise arrival sends the entire town into a tizzy! Especially when he announces his plans to shoot his next movie right there at the St. Gertrude Library, housed in a historic four-story mansion. And wouldn’t you know it, but it all happens just Gracie, the boys’ human sister, is a finalist in the town’s Fourth of July essay contest. Holy Catnip!

But it isn’t long before Buckley and Bogey realize there is something very wrong with the whole picture . . . including the one that Steele Bronson is filming. Because it soon becomes very clear that the guy is after much more than just an Academy Award. And when the drama turns to danger for the boys and their family, that’s when Buckley and Bogey jump into the scene. Because this is one case that has it all — from Fourth of July festivities to tales of the American Revolution, and from a secret code to a hidden key! And unless Buckley and Bogey want to see this movie turn into a tragedy, it’ll be up to them to crack the case . . . as well as the secret code . . . Holy Mackerel!

Holy catnip! If you know me, you know that I love cats. Just check out my Instagram! When I first picked up a Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper a few years ago, I loved it. Recently, I found another one on my Kindle!

The Good: These are an easy read and full of great characters! For me, I quickly fell in love with all of the cats in this book and just wanted to hug Gracie more than once. It takes a good writer to get you to connect quickly with their characters.

The Bad: There aren't enough books in this series. I honestly cannot get enough of these kitties and their capers.

The Summary: If you have cats, love cats, even like cats and also love a fun read, you're going to want to check out this series.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Wordsmith Wednesday: Handy Dandy Tools

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Writing Tools - Katrina Roets - Wordsmith Wednesday
Writing Tools - Image Courtesy of Bas Bleu

I have a confession to make. Life scooped me up this past week and I didn't get a chance to do any educational reading! So, instead of a book review for this week, I want to share some of the tools that may help with your own writing.

1. Write or Die - This isn't one that I use myself, but I know a few people that do. Essentially, it's a way to set a word/time goal for yourself and if you make it, you're rewarded and if you don't, you can set up punishments.

2. Words to Use Instead of Said - There is absolutely nothing wrong with using the word said, but if it's starting to feel as if that's all you use, why not mix it up a bit? I've found this list to be incredibly useful when I'm stuck in the said rut.

3. Story Structure - Are you looking for a story structure chart to help you outline that new book or story? This one has just about anything you could ever ask for.

4. Know Your Characters - It's important to know and understand your characters. How else are you going to know if something is in or out of character for them? I've found that a really fun way to get to know each one is to interview them. Check out this link for a set of interview questions that can get you started!

5. Editing Challenge - You've written the book. Maybe you've participated in NaNoWriMo. Now what? It's time for editing. If you have no idea where to start, this 30 Day Editing Challenge may be just what you need.

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Free Book Alert!

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JUMPING SHIP An Introductory Novella (0.5) ~

When the pursuit of love trumps obligations 

 On the 3rd of June 1975 in New York, Edward and Pearl Riley receive the ultimate give of love - a newborn baby, wrapped in a blanket and stuffed in a burlap bag. The child's name, Sakkara, is written out on a torn sheet of paper, and immediately fills every void the married couple has ever had. Pregnant seamstress Petrina Dugal becomes a runaway at the age of twenty-six. She flees the claws of a brutish husband, despite her adoration for a well-loved South American country known as Guyana. At the heart of the rebellion resides an enigmatic lover named Michael Chen. The journey to escape their choices lead the couple through the Caribbean's treasure trove of islands: Trinidad & Tobago Grenada Barbados St. Lucia Martinique Antigua The journey of the young couple from Guyana to New York is chronicled in very specific clues, left with baby Sakkara. But as she comes of age and begins learning the truth of her abandonment, the Caribbean calls out to this love child. Sakkara is set to unravel the mystery of her true heritage, and hopefully reunite with her long-lost parents. Jumping Ship is the introductory novella to the Island Hopping series. This explosive collection boasts the rich culture of the West Indies, deep love, and a mystery unlike any other.

Get it on AMAZON for FREE

COMING SOON... Download an extended sample:

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Seafood Alfredo

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This recipe is a household favorite! I mean, who doesn't love alfredo and shrimp? Okay, I know that some of you don't love them but that's okay. Everyone at my house does!

Seafood Alfredo:
1 stick butter
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon herbs de provence
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded parmesan
3 smashed and chopped garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons flour
1 pound frozen, cooked shrimp


Pour the milk into your crockpot and then stir in the flour. Add your herbs and garlic, stirring them in. Add the stick of butter and all of the cheese.

Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Don’t panic when your butter separates from the milk and cheese. It will be okay, I promise.

Stir the mixture thoroughly and add your frozen shrimp. Cook pasta according to package directions. When its done, toss the alfredo sauce with your pasta and enjoy!

And...if I might suggest, while your pasta is cooking, why not toss some garlic bread into the oven and toss together a simple salad to go alongside your pasta? Yum, yum, yum!

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Book Review: Murder on New Year's Eve

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Ridgeway Rescue Mysteries can be read in 1-2 hours. Perfect for when you're waiting for an appointment or just want a fast read. Don't miss out on this quick, clean, cozy mystery that will keep you guessing until the end!

It's New Year’s Eve and 20-year-old Emma Wright has a date with her crush—well, not a real date, but she can dream! Colby Davidson, the K9 search and rescue deputy, is allowing her to accompany him while he’s on patrol at the Ridgeway Illumination Festival. Though they are just friends, she’s still hoping for a possible kiss at the end of the festivities.

When a stranger asks them to help take some pictures at the event, Emma and Colby are happy to oblige. But their assistance turns them into alibis for the man’s whereabouts while his girlfriend was killed. Most of the clues point to a robbery gone bad, but Emma doesn’t believe all of them point that way. Was it really a robbery or was it murder?

This is the first novella in the Ridgeway Rescue Mystery series. It introduces us to Colby, Emma, and Emma's dad as well as two very awesome dogs! After reading the others, I couldn't wait to jump into this one as well!

The Good: Emma is a bit...well, flighty...but she's a total sweetheart and far more observant than I will ever be! Colby is strong and responsible and you just know there's a backstory there that you want to dive into!

The Bad: I read this out of order so this was the last one that I read and I was sad to discover there were only three so far. I can't wait for more!

The Summary: This is a great series by a very talented author. Yes, they're short but that just makes you want them more! They're perfect for those days where you're stuck sitting around, waiting for something. Pick them up and enjoy!

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wordsmith Wednesday : How to Write Short Stories And Use Them to Further Your Writing Career

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Wordsmith Wednesday - Katrina Roets - Short Story

Now, learn the master key for writing great short stories, and the strategies for using them to advance your writing career 

As most writers will tell you, the hardest fiction form to master is the short story. To be successful, a short story needs to have "emotional wallop," and in under 7,000 words.

Not easy to do.

In this book, #1 bestselling writing teacher James Scott Bell explains the essential ingredient for a successful short story, no matter the genre. He shows how any writer—whether planner or "pantser"—can use this key to unlock infinite story possibilities.

And turn readers into fans.

Which is part of the strategy for short story writing today. With the coming of the digital revolution in publishing, short fiction presents possibilities beyond a one-time sale to a literary journal. Writers can use stories to increase discoverability, grow as a writer, generate some side income, and get back in touch with the sheer joy of writing.

This book uses examples from the best stories by undisputed masters of the craft, including Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Stephen King and Irwin Shaw.

In addition, five complete stories are included to show you the master key in action.

Once you've been through this book, even once, you'll be well on your way to crafting short stories that readers love—which will build your fan base and boost your long-term writing career.

If you've been around a while, you'll know that I used to write a lot of short stories. Then, Nick pulled me into working on The Tether and it's been a couple of years since I've written anything of my own. I thought that maybe short stories might be a good place to get back to my own work so I picked up this book.

The Good: There are some great tips about what makes a good short story and for those not familiar with Kindle Direct Publishing, there's a pretty decent walk through on how to get your books into e-book format and up on Amazon.

The Bad: Over half of this book is made up of short stories. When I bought the book, I was expecting a lot more information on actually writing stories. The author takes a bit of time to actually work up to what he considers the "key" is and then doesn't really expand a lot on it. The book feels like a series of one or two blog posts that a bunch of filler was added to so that it could be marketed and sold as a book.

The Summary: For $3.99, I really expected more out of this book. I will take the blame for not realizing just how much space 5 short stories do take up in a book of this size, but I also feel that when a book states that it's about writing short stories, more than 47% of the book should be about that topic. Did I get anything out of it? Yep. Did I get enough? That I'm just not sure of.

PS If you got this far, I'm going to give you a tip. If you'd like to know the "secret" to good short story writing, head over to Goodreads and read a few of the reviews. It will save you $3.99.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Paella

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I really shouldn't post these recipes when I'm hungry. By the time I finish, I'm drooling on my keyboard and starving. Of course, I never have the exact ingredients to make anything as delicious as this unless I've shopped for the week! I need to fix that.

2 spicy sausage, cut up
1.5 pounds of thick fish steak
1 each of a yellow, red, orange bell pepper, cut in chunks
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 head of cauliflower florets
2 Tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon saffron
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 cup brown rice


Dump the rice and chicken broth into the crockpot and stir. Stir in the saffron and the salt. Add the butter, and chopped onion, cauliflower, and bell pepper. Add the cut up sausage and the fish to the top.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4, or until rice has absorbed the liquid and is cooked and the fish is flaky. Be careful you don’t cook it too long or your rice will break down and nobody loves mushy rice!

Let me know what you think!

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Book Review: Murder on Valentine's Day

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Ridgeway Rescue Mysteries can be read in 1-2 hours. Perfect for when you're waiting for an appointment or just want a fast read. Don't miss out on this quick, clean, cozy mystery that will keep you guessing until the end!

It's Valentine's Day and 20-year-old Emma Wright just wants her crush to take notice of her. But Colby Davidson, the K9 search and rescue deputy only thinks of her as a kid sister. How will she get him to take her seriously?

When her veterinarian boss calls her to pick up a cat at a potential crime scene, she finds herself at the house of the richest woman in Ridgeway. Her father—the sheriff—and Colby are there. They both dismiss the untimely death as a heart attack, but Emma finds clues that it might be something more. Did the software billionaire die of natural causes, or was it murder?

If you've read my reviews of Pauline's writing before, you already know how much I enjoy her work. I kind of want to be her when I grow into my writer's shoes!

The Good: Another quick read that was perfect for a slightly chilly afternoon. I read this series out of order but it didn't matter. They all work great as standalones. The characters are engaging and the story keeps moving right along. I swear that Emma is the non-ocd version of Monk with her observation skills!

The Bad: Yep, still got nothing when it comes to this series.

The Summary: Another fantastic piece to this series! I love how you can read each one as a standalone or as part of the ongoing story arc. I honestly cannot recommend these more if you're looking for a cozy mystery to while away an hour or two.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wordsmith Wednesday : How to Best Optimize Blog Posts For SEO

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How to Best Optimize Blog Posts for SEO - Life With Katie - SEO
Are you unsure how generate more traffic to your blog? Do you feel overwhelmed by all the SEO articles out there (or not even sure what the term means)? Do you wish someone could break it down for you in simple steps?

Then this is the book for you!

Rachel provides you her top 25 tips laid out in easy to understand language gleaned from her own ten years of successful blogging as well as optimizing and managing countless client blogs. Containing a wealth of information, these tips will help you increase traffic to your site!

Topics include:
· SEO terms defined
· Specific ways to increase traffic to your blog right now
· How to optimize each post for maximum exposure on Google
· Ways to connect with readers
· How to integrate your blog posts on the various social media sites

If SEO confuses you, this is a great beginner breakdown for any new blogger, writer, veteran author, and even small businesses.

Buy your copy NOW and start increasing your visibility!

In my ongoing efforts to learn about how to make this a better blog, I decided to tackle some beginner SEO. It's a topic that can be totally terrifying if you have no idea what SEO is or how to figure it out. I happened to see this author in a webinar and decided to check out her books. Imagine my delight when I found this for only 99c!

The Good:
Rachel writes as if you're sitting down with her at a table and walking you through everything, step by step. She links to quite a few handy (and free) tools to help you with improving on whatever SEO you currently have going. As if that isn't enough, all of her tips are specific so you're not spending hours trying to nail down generic information to something that you can use.

The Bad:
This book is very specifically for those using Wordpress. If that isn't your platform (and my site actually isn't), then you'll have to do some tweaking to make it work for you. Some things may not be possible to do but I've already found some that I can put into place. Also, the section of the book that actually pertains to this topic is only about 44% on Kindle with the rest going to an author bio and a sneak peek at her next book.

The Summary:
For 99c, you honestly cannot go wrong with this book. If only one of the 24 tips (the 25th is more of yay, you made it!) is something that you can apply to your blog, it's more than paid for itself. I know that this is one that I'm going to keep coming back to so I can continue to add to what I'm already doing.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Crockpot Monday: BBQ Shrimp

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My oldest loves shrimp so we're always looking for new ways to make it. His favorite is probably just tossing it into mac 'n cheese but he'll eat it any way you make it!

BBQ Shrimp:
2 pounds fresh raw shell-on shrimp
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1-2 Tablespoons hot sauce (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 lemons, juiced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil


You'll need a 5 to 6 quart crockpot for this meal. It makes some serious yummy!

Rinse the shrimp, but don't soak them. Dump them into the crockpot.

Add the stick of butter, olive oil, and Worcestershire sauce. Measure out the tobasco, salt and pepper, and throw that in there, too. Juice the lemons, and add that, and top with the freshly chopped basil. Toss just a bit with a big spoon to mingle the flavors. The butter will be in a big stick, but that's okay.

Cover and cook on high for about 2 hours, checking every 30 minutes. You'll know the shrimp is done when it has turned pink, and can be peeled easily. I turned ours off at exactly 2 hours. It was perfect.

Serve with bread to sop up the juice.

So, so yummy! Let me know what you think!

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Review: Murder on St. Patrick's Day

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Ridgeway Rescue Mysteries can be read in 1-2 hours. Perfect for when you're waiting for an appointment or just want a fast read. Don't miss out on this quick, clean, cozy mystery that will keep you guessing until the end!

It's St. Patrick's Day and 20-year-old Emma Wright is working hard at training five-month-old Molly, her foster puppy, to become a therapy dog. But her training coach and neighbor gets an emergency call, cutting the lesson short, and Emma volunteers to pick up her daughter at a St. Patrick's Day concert in town.

When Emma arrives, the concert has just finished up, and the teenage girls are visiting with the band. Then the lead singer stumbles and falls to the ground, dead. Emma becomes the only level head in the crowd and calls for help. When the Sheriff and Colby arrive, they investigate it as a potential accident. But Emma finds subtle clues that something more sinister is going on. Did the leader of the band die in an accident, or was it murder?

It's been a long time since I read anything by Pauline Creeden and I can't believe that I didn't look up more of her work sooner! This is actually the third in the Ridgeway Rescue Mysteries series but the first one I read since I found it on St. Patrick's Day.

The Good: This cover! How could you not fall in love with that pup? I have a serious soft spot for huge, fluffy dogs and I miss having one. This isn't about me though! This is about a very well written novella filled with enjoyable characters and one very observant main character that I hope gets everything she wants!

The Bad: Umm...Yep, I got nothin'.

The Summary: If you're a fan of cute, cozy mysteries that won't take you hours or days to get through, you're going to want to check out this series by Pauline Creeden. Personally, I'm going to be stalking her mailing list and Facebook group to find out when the next one in this series is going to be released!

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Book Blast: Edger

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Edger by David Beem -  Meet Edger (Ed-jer), a twenty-six-year-old gadget retail dork destined to become the world’s first superhero! His superpower: the ability to channel the Collective Unconscious, a psychic network connecting the living and the dead. In his arsenal are the skills of Bruce Lee, the strength of Samson, the wisdom of the ages...and the dancing chops of Michael Jackson—including that one twisty foot move, crotch grab, and fedora tilt. But there's a catch... Like every psychic superpower to get administered through a hypodermic needle, this one comes with a prick. Someone seems to have misplaced the booster necessary for stabilizing his superpower. Without it, Edger has three days before his brain turns to pudding. Join our Dork of Destiny as he overcomes the world’s greatest butt, two rival Cluck-n-Pray gangs, an evil cow, a Green Bay Defensive Tackle, rifle-toting assassins—and a pair of stoners who inadvertently create the world’s first supervillain after a wild night on Twitter!

Buy on Amazon

David Beem enjoys superhero movies, taekwondo, and flossing. He lives in Djibouti with his family and crippling self-doubt. Help actualize David’s inner confidence. Visit his website today, and buy all the stuff. / Facebook / Twitter

  Enter to win a $75 Amazon GC. Enter the form to win. Open to everyone that can get an Amazon GC 18+

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Wordsmith Wednesday : Book Review: Five Minutes to Success: Master the Craft of Writing

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As I become more serious about my writing, I'm hoping to add another feature here on the blog. Wordsmith Wednesday may not happen every week quite yet, but it's reserved for things that specifically have to do with my writer's journey. We're going to kick it off with a book review!


How long does it take to become a better writer?
Just five minutes.
These five-minute chapters are each designed to help you master an aspect of the writers’ craft. From prewriting and character development through plotting, editing, proofreading, and on to the options available in publishing, we will help you with every step of your writing journey. No matter where you are in your process, there is something you can learn that will make your writing stronger.
The path from writer to author is an obstacle course of pitfalls and secret rules. Five Minutes to Success promises to help you overcome each roadblock on your road to publication. With exercises and worksheets for each topic, we promise tips and tricks to make your work shine.
Give us five minutes.
We’ll give you the writing world.

I first heard about this book not long after it was released. A friend of mine happens to know both of the authors and was encouraging everyone that he knew to pick it up. Eventually, that's just what I did. Then, it sat on my Kindle until this past week when I decided to start really working on my education as an author. I confess that I didn't do a 5 minute lesson each day. If I had, it would be another 6 years before I wrote this review. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but this book is long.

The Good:
There is a ton of great information within the pages of this book. Even if you're not new to writing, this book will serve as a great refresher course. Each section has a little assignment at the end which will help the knowledge acquired sink in even further. This is one of my favorite things about this type of book. I'm a put it down in pen and ink kind of learner so having study questions really helps.

The Bad:
While it is stated that there are two authors for this book, the book really reads as if only DW Vogel (known as Wendy in the book) wrote it. I believe there are only one or two occasions where Jeri's opinion is stated. Also, there are locations where the punctuation is off (primarily section 1) and at least one point where a sentence's subject's gender changed mid-sentence. There are some other errors in the book, such as Deus Ex Machina being listed as Deus Ex Machine and the author's use of the term dialog instead of dialogue.  Granted, that last one is a pet peeve kind of thing for me. It isn't technically wrong, but it isn't the preferred form of the word. Dialog should be reserved for software design in my world.

The Summary:
If you can overlook the issues that I mentioned above, don't hesitate to pick up this book. It doesn't matter if you're a first time writer or someone who has been at this for a while, I'm pretty sure that you can find something in there that you can use. I do want to point out that the emphasis is more on traditional publishing, but again, don't let that stop you, self-publishers! I have no desire to have an agent or be signed to a big name publisher and I have pages and pages of notes to refer back to.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Salmon with Lime Butter

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I can't believe that it's April already! This year is flying by and I'm not sure I'm ready for what's coming up...but one day at a time and one yummy meal at a time! How many of you like salmon? It's a fishier fish so I know some people don't enjoy it. If it's been a while, why not give it another shot?

Salmon with Lime Butter:
2 salmon fillets (slightly frozen is okay)
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 Tablespoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried minced parsley (if you have fresh, chop up 1-2 teaspoons)
2 cloves minced garlic
aluminum foil


Spread a length of foil onto the countertop, and put the salmon fillets directly in the middle. In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave, then stir in lime juice, pepper, garlic, and parsley. Brush this mixture all over the top of your fish. Fold the foil over and crimp the sides to make a packet. Put this packet into the bottom of an empty slow cooker.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. 

Let me know what you think! I'm thinking about making this with some brown rice and veggies.

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