Roasted Carrots

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I was going to a potluck and needed to make something, but had very little in my fridge-and no money as I was waiting for a new debit card and my work hours don’t work well with my bank’s hours.

I had just bought a huge bag of carrots, so I decided to look up a carrot recipe. I searched through google, and when I saw Ina Garten, I thought why not try it out as Barnes and Noble has been promoting her like crazy. It comes from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 12 Carrots
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1-1/4 Teaspoons of Salt
  • 1/3 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Minced Fresh Dill or Parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat the Oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. If the carrots are thick, cut them in half lengthwise; if not, leave whole.
  3. Slice carrots diagonally in 1-1/2 inch thick slices. (The carrots will shrink when cooking, so make the slices big.)
  4. Toss in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Transfer to a sheet pan in 1 layer and roast in the oven for 20 mins-until browned and tender.
  6. Toss the finished carrots with minced dill or parsley, season to taste, and serve.

Thoughts After Reading:

So I took them to the potluck and they were all gobbled up instantly.

I know, I wanted seconds but there were none. So yeah, it was delicious and I highly recommend it.

And this also works for potatoes, but you do have to roast them longer.

For more Food Network recipesgo to Arugula Salad with Olive Oil, Lemon, and Parmesan Cheese

For more carrot recipes, go to Grilled Sausages, Potatoes, & Carrots with Salsa Verde

For more recipes, go to Spinach Tortellini Soup

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Kidnapped!

Kidnapped! (Sweet Valley High #13) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

I’m going to find them and read them!

As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written book. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

Wow…

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files were you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review I didn’t think I’d be reviewing another Sweet Valley High until book #13, but I forgot book #11.

Ooops…

So there is only one book between the last review and this one, and it turns out that Steven’s girlfriend has cancer and she dies. It is very sad, but it won’t be the end of it…unfortunately. But that a book for another day.

Not looking forward to that…

KIDNAPPED!

Elizabeth unfastened the chain lock as Carl became aware of what was happening.

“No!” he cried as he rose to prevent her escape. “Elizabeth, no!”

She unlocked the bolt and pulled on the door handle. It wouldn’t be long before she was free. But something was wrong. The door wouldn’t open! Elizabeth gasped as Carl seized her. He grabbed her under the arms and threw her onto the sofa with the force of a man possessed. His eyes now bright with anger, he came toward her.

This is it, though Elizabeth as she squeezed her eyes shut. This is the end.

WHAT! I’m HOOKED!!!

Jessica and Elizabeth are candy stripers. Jessica only to meet Jeremy Frank, well-known handsome TV personality who had been laid up with a broken leg. While Elizabeth, of course, loves it. Tonight there is a party and Jessica is getting ready, while Elizabeth is still at the hospital and then going to tutor Max Dellon. Jessica has moved on to a new guy of her dreams, Nicholas Morrow who is everything she wants. Rich, handsome, etc.

Jessica waits, but at 8 she can’t do it no more-someone else might grab Nicolas-and has her friend Cara Walker pick her up-leaving a note for Elizabeth when she gets home. At the party Jessica meets the dreamboat, and Regina, his sister (who is deaf).

Meanwhile, in chapter 3, we see what happened to Elizabeth. Elizabeth stayed late at the hospital, and is hurrying to her car-hoping to hurry and get to Max’s. Next to her car is a junky creepy pedophile van, but Elizabeth doesn’t even notice. Really girl? As an adult it makes you wonder why something didn’t happen to her earlier.

She was grabbed, chloroformed, and kidnapped. And she is in a junky old place. Who took her?

Max is waiting for Elizabeth, but she is an hour late. That’s not Elizabeth at all. By 9:40, he knows something is up and decides to head to the hospital.

Todd is worried about Elizabeth, but Jessica makes up a lie as to where she is as she wants to focus on Nicholas.

Low Jessica, very low.

Elizabeth wakes up and finds herself alone, but then her kidnapper comes home. It is Carl, the janitor. Carl who asked her for help, Carl who she pitied, and now is a victim of his interests.

Help me! For God’s sake someone help me!”

Todd has had enough and calls Mr. Collins, who Jessica said Elizabeth was babysitting for. He finds out the truth and guns after Jessica. Jessica realizes the time and that Todd is right-

The Wakefields come home and see the note that Jessica left-growing worried about where Elizabeth is.

Where is she? How will they save her?

They discover her car and figure out something happened to Elizabeth at the hospital, or shortly after. When the police come into it, they start looking at Max.

Its up to the gang to track her down and clear his name.

On the case!

Thoughts After Reading:

Rereading…yes it is campy, and predictable but I still really enjoyed it. I think that the suspense and drama was right on point. As a teen and an adult, it got me wanting to get to the conclusion to find out what happens next. And that opening scene, fantastic!

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what they wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

For the party when Jessica is trying to impress Nicholas Morrow

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

There was no way Elizabeth could mistake the look she saw in his eyes, a look that said, “You’re the one I want.” It made her feel awkward and uncomfortable. She had a strong suspicion that Nicholas hadn’t reacted this way with Jessica. And she dreaded what would happen when Jessica found out.

Will Elizabeth leave Todd for Nicholas? Find out in Sweet Valley #14, DECEPTIONS

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Too Good to Be True

For more mysteries on a kidnapping, go to Deadly Intent

For more mysteries about a sister disappearing, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more mysteries about a disappearance, go to He’s Gone

Spinach Tortellini Soup

So I’ve made a tortellini soup before, but after I did that Pinterest sent me some other recipes I’d be interested in. Such as this one.

This originally comes from Umami Girl.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced Small
  • 2 Large Carrots, Diced Small
  • 2 Large Celery Sticks, Diced Small
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 8 Cups of Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock
  • 5 oz Baby Spinach
  • 9 oz Tortellini
  • 1/4 Cup of Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Black Pepper
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery, and salt. Stir to coat with oil.
  3. Cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften.
  4. Stir in stock, bringing to a boil.
  5. Cover and reduce heat to simmer, until veggies are tender.
  6. Remove lid and add spinach and tortellini.
  7. Cook according to pasta package directions.
  8. Take off the heat stir in parsley and black pepper.
  9. Ladle into bowls and serve with cheese.

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was pretty good. The tortellini I used was dried so it had a different taste than the refrigerated, kinda dry actually. But still good. I really enjoyed it and found it to be healthy and tasty.

For more Pinterest recipes, go to Slow Cooker Enchilada Casserole

For more soup recipes, go to One-Pot Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

For more tortellini soup, go to Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Spinach

Murder on Ice

Murder on Ice (The Nancy Drew Files #3) by Carolyn Keene

Background Information:

It’s been a couple of months since we reviewed one of these mysteries, so let me do a bit of background information.

So this series began in the ’80s and have some updates from the original series. Nancy Drew originally was a 16 year-old, high school, amateur detective, but in this version she has been aged up to 18, and a high school graduate.

She still lives in River Heights, IL and is in a long distance relationship with Ned Nickerson, who is a student at Emerson College.

Her friends are still cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne; Bess being the beautiful blonde shopaholic who is always eating and George the super athlete in every way. Instead of a blue roadster, in this book she gets a blue mustang convertible.

One of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author (as Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym), always gives great detail to what she wears. I’m totally going to add a special section at the end.

One other thing that this series does a little differently is that every book cover has a handsome guy on it, someone who appears in the book. Some people hate that, but I always think of it as a fun guessing game as we try and figure out which of the characters it is.

Another thing this book series does, is that since it is a “case file” there is a little information sheet at the very beginning. Sometimes the suspects mentioned turn out to be who did it, while other times the person whodoneit is someone Nancy never saw coming.

So enough review:

THE CASEFind the midnight prowler who’s causing a string of nasty “accidents” at Webb Cove Ski Lodge-even if it means ruining a romantic vacation with Ned

CONTACT: Liz Whitcomb, owner of the lodge. She wants Nancy’s help-but has she got something to hide?

SUSPECTS: 

  • Luke Ericsen, the lodge’s ski instructor. He’s a man with a mysterious-and maybe murderous-past.
  • Michael Price, a handsome, helpful stranger. He saved Nancy from a serious accident. Is he being a white knight? Or does he have a darker motive?
  • Gunther, a cheerful German student enjoying an American vacation. He came to the lodge for fun-or could he be there for revenge?

COMPLICATIONS: George Fayne has fallen for Luke Ericsen-with the blindness of first love. How can Nancy tell her Luke could be a killer? Then a blizzard cuts the lodge off from the rest of the world, and the prowler strikes again. Ned, George, and Nancy find their lives on the line!

So Nancy was supposed to have a vacation in Deadly Intent but that didn’t work out-so here they are again. This time Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned are heading to the Web Cove Ski Lodge for a relaxing ski vacation.

You really think it will be that easy?

Nancy needs this vacation as Ned is growing tired of all their time being devoted to mysteries instead of each other.

But the vacation doesn’t last long, as they are signing in Bess makes a joke about Nancy, Nancy Drew, Notorious Girl Detective. Liz, the owner of the ski lodge asks Nancy to help her by investigating the strange things that have been occurring.

On the case!

A man was seen peeking in the windows, the kitchen lock was messed with, angry violent calls asking for a John, and snow tracks around after 2:00 am. Liz has no clue why anyone would want to break in.

They meet the others staying there, Gunther-there with a group and latches onto beautiful Bess. Then there is Luke, a snob, the ski instructor. He is pretty good, but it looks like his injured leg kept him from the olympics.

The next day they are ready for skiing. Luke is a safety-nazi, he tells Nancy not to use the ski lift until he’s checked it. Before he does he goes to show Ned his skis, as Ned is interested in buying them. He and Ned go off, but Nancy doesn’t want to wait. She uses the the tow line, that only Luke uses, but the line has been cut and she falls.

She is saved by a blonde stranger and Luke. But after Luke denies seeing the other guy.

That’s not the only thing that goes strange-Luke’s skis that he plans on selling, end up being sabotaged while Ned was using them-Ned being injured.

Then Ned and Nancy use Luke’s car without his knowledge, but the lines are cut and they barely manage to get safely out when it blows up.

To make things worse a blizzard comes and they are trapped in a ski lodge with a murderer. Will they be able to figure it out and stop him, or will he claim another victim.

Thoughts After Reading:

This is one of my least favorite stories. Nancy is so convinced Luke is the killer when EVERYTHING points to someone being after him! It was not very good at all. But you know, every series has one bump in the road.

Nancy’s next case:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Nancy’s next case:

Working undercover for a hot new teen magazine, Nancy’s assignment is to protect the publisher…from murder.

She’s also trying to save her relationship with Ned. He’s tired of taking a backseat to every case that comes along, and he’s met a girl more interested in him than in mysteries.

Nancy must risk losing her love-and her life-in SMILE AND SAY MURDER–Case #4 in The Nancy Drew Files™.

For more on The Nancy Drew Files, go to Deadly Intent

For more Nancy Drew, go to The Demon of River Heights

For more Carolyn Keene, go to Secrets Can Kill

Angel Hair Pasta With Zucchini and Tomatoes

So I was reading Knit to Kill by Anne Canadeo and Lucy makes this pasta dish that sounds super good. But they didn’t include it in the book!

So I scoured the internet to try and find one that fit the description Lucy gave and settled on SkinnyTaste‘s Angel Hair Pasta with Zucchini and Tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Medium Zucchini, Spiralized or Julienne
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic Chopped
  • 2 Shallots
  • 3 Medium Diced Tomatoes or 2 Cups of Grape Tomatoes, Halved
  • 4 Teaspoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • 8 oz of Angel Hair Pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chopped Fresh Parsley or Basil
  • 1/4 Cup of Low-Sodium Vegetable or Chicken Broth

 

Directions:

  1. Boil a large pot of water and cook pasta according to the directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat up a large saute pan.
  3. When pan is hot, add olive oil.
  4. Add garlic and shallots to the pan and saute about 1 min, or until soft.
  5. Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook about 1-1.5 mins, then add tomatoes, crushed red pepper, parsley, chicken broth, and add salt and pepper.
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Drain the pasta, and reserve a cup of water.
  9. Toss the pasta with the zucchini and tomatoes.
  10. Add pasta water if needed and serve with parmesan cheese.

Thoughts After Cooking:

SOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOD!!

For more Black Sheep Knitting Mystery recipes, go to Schooner’s Summertime-Only Strawberry-Raspberry Pie

For more pasta recipes, go to Spinach Parmesan Pasta

For more recipes, go to Frijoles Moledos y Fritos (Refried Beans)

Knit to Kill

Knit to Kill (Black Sheep Knitting Mystery #9) by Anne Canadeo

It’s been a while since we reviewed these mysteries, so let’s do a brief recap:

So Lucy is getting married!

Well, remarried. Before the big day, the group decides to head out for a girls weekend.

Suzanne Cavanaugh’s old college friend, Amy, lives in a luxury community, Mermaid Manor on Osprey Island. She agreed to let them have a luxury condo for free in exchange of a few free lessons from Maggie.

FREE!!

So the group is off. On their first night, Maggie holds a meeting and they overhear a brawl occurring at a poker game.

Dr. Julian Morton is causing trouble again. He not a very well-liked man. This time Derek Pullman, heavily in debt, has lost a load to Morton-accusing him of cheating. The fight going really bad.

Y’all know what that mans. Someone is going to end up DEAD!

The knitters continue on their way.

The next day Phoebe gets up early and goes off photographing and bird watching. Lucy wants to go bike riding, but it is much too foggy so she heads to yoga class with Dana. I don’t know about you all, but this is giving me flashbacks to the third Black Sheep Knitting MysteryKnit, Purl, Die. You know how they go to the spa for free, do yoga, and knitting lessons.

Did she just reuse her plot?

The yoga class is interrupted by sirens as it turns out Julian Morton is dead! He was murdered buy being knocked out and then pushed off the cliff.

The Knitters try their hardest not to get involved, but then Amy’s husband is arrested for the murder. They decide they must do all they can to clear his name.

But there are soooooooo many suspects and everyone hated Dr, Morton.

  1. Derek Pullman-Was conned out of a ton of money to Morton when his funds were already low. Did he give Morton the final push in anger and to be free of his IOU?
  2. Meredith Quinn-She was Morton’s first wife and got nothing from the divorce. She has to work multiple jobs to just get by. Could she have done it? After all, revenge is a dish best served cold.
  3. Helen Shelburn-Morton’s neighbor. Morton killed her dog because he would dig up the flower beds when he got out of the yard. He put rat bait in areas purposely where the dog could accidentally eat it and wrapped it in bacon to ensure he would eat it. Helen LOVES her dog, was she getting justice?
  4. Betty Rutledge-Years ago Betty was a counselor at a camp with her brother and Morton. One day Morton was jealous that her brother won a competition, besting him, and knocked him into the fire-pit, Morton claimed it was “an accident” while Betty knows it was on purpose. It has always angered her that her brother ended up with burns and was so embarrassed he became a hermit. Could she have finally gotten payback?
  5. Dr. Lewis Fielding-Fielding is Morton’s psychiatrist and Meredith’s lover. Could his love for Meredith and desire to help her overcome his oath to protect lives?
  6. Tanya Morton-Dr. Morton’s second wife. She badly wanted out of the marriage but suffered from a prenup that would leave her with zilch. Could she have killed him for freedom and lots of dollars?
  7. Cory Morton-Morton’s son. He got nothing from his father but a mess of issues. When Cory had a great idea and asked his father for a loan, he received mocking words and verbal abuse. Was it the last straw?

Which one, which one? And time is running out for the Knitters. They only have a few days to figure it out.

Thoughts after Reading:

I thought it was okay. It was very slow paced and not as good as the first book or Til Death Do Us Purl. There isn’t really any investigation but just “accidental” revealing of information. Again at the end we are saved with exposition.

Ugh! One of those guys!

As I said before, it reminded me a lot of the third book when they go on the Knitters weekend to the health spa.

When Phoebe just happens to take a picture with an important clue I figured out who it was. Obvious.

I wish they included a recipe for the penne pasta with tomatoes, zucchini, basil, and mozzarella. That sounds really good and I think I will try to make it.

For more Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries, go to A Murder in Mohair

For more from Anne Canadeo, go to The Postman Always Purls Twice

For more knitting mysteries, go to Patterns in the Sand

For more Wedding mysteries, go to Floral Depravity

Frijoles Moledos y Fritos (Refried Beans)

I know I posted on Friday, but you know me! I can’t resist posting on a holiday!

So this recipe came from a Mexican cookbook was given to my mom by my abuela, and she passed it on to me. It has a great and easy recipe for refried beans. All you need is cooked pinto beans, such as the ones from Slow Cooker Pinto Beans recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of Cooked Pinto Beans
  • 2 Tsp of Oil
  • 1 Tbsp of Chopped Onion
  • 1 Crushed Garlic Clove or 1/2 Tsp of Minced Garlic
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 3/4 Cup of Shredded Cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and add beans.
  2. Mash beans thoroughly, add a little water, garlic, onion, and salt.
  3. Cook beans until they are well heated.
  4. Add cheese and cook until it melts completely.
  5. Serve hot as a side dish or as a dip.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It might not photograph well but it’s delicious!

Party Time!!

For more Cinco de Mayo recipes, go to Arroz (Mexican Rice)

For more holiday posts, go to Easy Northumberland Pan Haggerty

For more Mexican food, go to Chorizo Breakfast Burrito

Arroz (Mexican Rice)

So Cinco de Mayo is coming, and to get you all ready for the holiday I am going to share with you how to make authentic Mexican Rice.

I know it technically is called Spanish Rice, but I’ve been calling it Mexican Rice ever since I was a child. It made sense to me, my mom is Mexican and making Mexican Rice.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp of Oil (Safflower, Canola, etc)
  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 1 Cup of Rice
  • Small Amount of Onion, Sliced
  • 1 Bouillon Cube of Chicken Stock
  • 6-oz Can of Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Chili Powder or Cumin

Directions:

  1. Pour oil into pot, and rotate pot so bottom of pan is covered in oil.
  2. Cook onions in oil until tender.
  3. Toss in rice, water, chicken stock, chili powder or cumin.
  4. Put in enough tomato sauce for “color”-(my grandma would always say this. There is no exact measurement, just put in enough to give it a nice orange color.)
  5. Cook rice over medium heat, covered, stirring from time to time to keep from sticking.
  6. Cook until water has disappeared and rice is tender.

For more Cinco de Mayo recipes, go to Fajitas

For more Mexican food, go to Chorizo Breakfast Burrito

He’s Gone

He’s Gone by Deb Caletti

So I read a book by this author before, Stay, and it was very sad, but compelling and kept me turning every page.

So when I spotted this one, I checked out the back and felt drawn to it, just like her other novel.

So one morning Dani wakes up and finds that her husband Ian is gone. At first she doesn’t think much of it, hoping he went out for coffee or maybe to cool off as they had a disagreement the night before. They went to a work party for Ian, but Dani was a bit too much under the influence and wasn’t up to Ian’s standards.

Ugh! One of those guys!

But everything changed that night when Ian didn’t return. His car stayed parked in the same place all day. None of his clothes or things are missing. No one has seen him. And Dani has no memory of what happened after the party.

They and everyone she knows searches and searches but to no avail, what happened to Ian?

Between the modern day of the disappearance and the searching we also have Dani recounting how they met and how they unraveled.

Dani was married to an abusive man, always getting a fist or a kick-life was unbearable. She wanted out. She wanted to be rescued. And Ian felt the same feelings of being trapped in his marriage that was solely superficial-he made money and his wife spent it all on countless shopping trips and she flirted with everyone.

Ian saved her, and everything was good-until it wasn’t. Ian had a lot more faults than Dani had originally seen. In fact-he turned out to be just as abusive-except emotional and verbal instead of physical. He blamed her for his loss of friends, children, money, stuff in the divorce-taking no blame for something he instigated.

Jordan

The two began fighting more and more-unraveling faster than a ball of yarn.

So now the question is: did Ian leave? Or is he dead?

Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was compelling and kept you turning page by page to see what happened to Dani and Ian.

It was so sad how Dani left one abusive relationship, only to find herself in another. I think it is a travesty that more people aren’t educated about the many levels of abuse, only thinking it is physical or verbal.

For more disappearances, go to Deadly Intent

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to The Wife Between Us

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

Spinach Parmesan Pasta

Thoughts Before Cooking:

So I had a ton of spinach leftover and few ingredients to choose from and was trying to make something new. After a bit of searching on the internet, I found this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Uncooked Pasta
  • 3 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 5-6 Cups of Packed Spinach
  • 1/2 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Boil water according to pasta instructions, cooking al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of water.
  3. Set pasta aside.
  4. Using the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
  5. Add garlic, and cook 2-3 mins.
  6. Toss in pasta and spinach.
  7. Gently toss and cook until the spinach is wilted.
  8. If pasta starts to dry out, add the pasta water.
  9. Stir in 1/4 cup of cheese, and toss until combined.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Put in large bowl and garnish with cheese.
  12. Serve immediately.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It reminded me a lot of the Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta recipe I made. You make them almost exactly the same, just with different leafy greens. However, I thought this spinach one was much better.

Yum

For more pasta recipes, go to Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta

For more spinach recipes, go to Crock-Pot Sausage, Spinach, and White Bean Soup

For more recipes, go to Slow Cooker Enchilada Casserole

Too Good to Be True

Too Good to Be True (Sweet Valley High #11) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

As a kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written books. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files where you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review I didn’t think I’d be reviewing another Sweet Valley High until book #13, but I forgot book #11

So let’s see since Secrets, we had Jessica being controlled and abused by her dream guy, Bruce Patman, discovering he is nothing but a nightmare; had the sisters compete to have a girl join or not join their sorority; Jessica went out with a much older man; Todd got a motorcycle; Elizabeth cracked her head riding the motorcycle and went into a coma, along with having a personality change; Roger Barret becomes a sport star and tries to go after Lila Fowler; and Jessica tried to keep the school “slut” from joining the cheerleading squad. Wow.

What?!

So that leaves us with number 11:

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Suzanne rose from the couch and wound her arms about Mr. Collins’ neck. She could feel his muscles tensing as she pressed up against him

Suzanne, stop it,” Mr. Collins warned. She parted her lips and tilted her head back, willing him to embrace her. He was so close. His heart was beating much too quickly…

Trembling with the effort, Mr. Collins pulled free from her. “Get your things,” he ordered. “I’ll wait for you in the car.

She stared at him for a long, incredulous moment. How dare he reject her? Her eyes narrowed to razor-thin slits. “You wanted to kiss me. I know you did.”

Mr. Collins shook his head. “Believe me, I’m doing you a favor.”

But Suzanne scarcely heard what he was saying. Rage was boiling inside her. Oh, he’d pay for this. She’d make him pay. “You’re the one who’s going to be sorry Roger Collins!” she hissed.

Mr. Wakefield’s old college roommate, Tom Devlin, and him got back into contact. Devlin is a diplomat and has been all over the world, but has returned to New York City. His daughter, Suzanne, proposed  an idea of having her and one of the twins exchange home’s for a week during their spring break as Suzanne has always longed togo to California. (Although they are rich why not take a family vacation? Whatever).

Whatever…

But only one Wakefield daughter can go, and of course resident drama queen, Jessica pitches a fit when she loses the coin toss to Elizabeth. But Jessica can’t be out-tricked for long, and makes Elizabeth feel insecure in her relationship with Todd, getting her to switch places.

Suzanne, or Suzy as she asks everyone to call her, arrives looking glamourous as ever. She even has a dazzling English accent from her time abroad.

Even though Suzy is wealthy, lived all over, and had everything-she is kind, caring, and doesn’t mind lending a helping hand in everything-cleaning, cooking, etc.

She’s almost too good to be true,” Enid said…

Is she?

At the school picnic things go a little strange. Suzanne who is an amazing swimmer, medal-winning, starts drowning-causing Mr. Collins to have to swim out and save her. Suzy is so grateful, but Mr. Collins acts weird.

Meanwhile, in New York Jessica is having a less than thrilling time until Suzanne’s gorgeous boyfriend agrees to take her out-using his and Suzanne’s tickets.

Back in Sweet Valley, Elizabeth, Todd, and Suzanne drive by Mr. Collins’ house as Elizabeth needs to drop off some stuff for the school paper, The Oracle. Why she needs to go to his house, or even knows where he lives, I don’t know. Weird things you didn’t question as a preteen.

Suzanne delivers the papers for Elizabeth, getting a “drink of water” from the  garden hose and splashing her body, showing off her body.

Really, an “accident”.

One day Elizabeth is supposed to babysit Teddy, Mr. Collins’ son, but Todd scores some awesome tickets to the Lakers’ game. Suzy agrees to fill in for Elizabeth, promising to notify Mr. Collins but doesn’t, surprising him instead.

Yes, Suzanne is too good to be true. Underneath that beautiful exterior she is rotten to the core. She tries to seduce him, trying to add another conquest in her life, but Mr. Collins won’t take the bait. And he rejects her.

She walks back to the Wakefields and tears her blouse, messes up her hair, etc. When she gets there she accuses Mr. Collins of attacking her. Will Suzanne’s evil plan work? Or will everyone see through her careful facade?

Hmm…

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what she wears. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

When Jessica wears the black crepe from Suzanne’s closet.

Thoughts After Reading:

Rereading it I realize there are some things that are just not quite kosher here-in the relation to each other. Elizabeth going to Mr. Collins house multiple times, the Devlins not caring about underage drinking, Suzanne’s boyfriend trying to rape Jessica but they don’t tell her parents it charge him, and more. But anyways in the end they reveal that Suzy is evil and all works out, Mr. Collins is reinstated (although wouldn’t there be a bigger investigation into what was said), and Suzy goes back to NYC (she doesn’t face ay charges either). Jessica returns lying about the great time she had, when it was awful (how come we never see how this affects her? It’s like the writers don’t think about what would happen logically). Then we have poor Steven…

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

On the other hand, her recent experience with Suzanne had taught her that appearances could be deceiving. It was best not to form judgements based on superficial evidence.

“You can’t be sure of anything until you talk to Tricia,” Elizabeth said gently

Steven was close to tears. “I’ve tried. But-but she says nothing is wrong. Liz, I know she’s hiding something. I can see it in her eyes. And it’s driving me crazy!”

What terrible secret is Tricia keeping from Steven? Find out in Sweet Valley #12, WHEN LOVE DIES

***SPOILER ALERT***

We will not be reviewing that book and since they say it in the title, I will reveal the end. She dies. It is very sad.

The next Sweet Valley High book we will review will be Kidnapped. 

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Secrets

For more book reviews, go to The Demon of River Heights

The Demon of River Heights

The Demon of River Heights (Nancy Drew Girl Detective Graphic Novels #1) by Stefan Petrucha

When this came out it was a new decade so that meant new updated look to Nancy Drew. In this Nancy is an absent-minded detective always forgetting things like putting gas in her car (a prius as she is very environmentally friendly) and charging her cellphone.

Bess is curvy and beautiful, and a mechanical genius.

And George is a super athlete and a tech whiz (?).

I don’t know where they were going with that…

This came out in conjunction with the Nancy Drew, Girl Detective series and focuses mostly on mysteries that happen in River Heights, ILL.

So the plot presented here is a new one, in which two art students are making a movie in River Heights based on an urban myth about a local demon.

When the students go missing, it is up to Nancy and friends to find them.

Thoughts After Reading:

I really enjoyed the graphic design and I liked the at-home mystery.

For more on Nancy Drew, go to Deadly Intent

For more graphic novels, go to Dracula (Graphic Novel)

For more demons, go to Just Because You’re Paranoid, Doesn’t Mean a Demon’s Not After You: Storm Front

Slow Cooker Enchilada Casserole

I’m Mexican

I thought it would be fun to share.

So I love enchiladas. When I saw this recipe I thought it sounded good…except they mix red sauce with chicken. We NEVER, EVER, EVER do that in my house. Red sauce with meat, green with chicken. NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, EVER exchange it.

So I was very wary, but I thought I’d try it. It comes from The Magical Slow Cooker.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs of Boneless, Skinless, Raw Chicken Breasts
  • 1-28 oz Can of Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 10 Corn Tortillas
  • 3 Cups of Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1-3.8 oz Can of Olives

Directions:

  1. Put the chicken and sauce in the slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours.
  3. Shred the chicken with two forks in the slow cooker.
  4. Cut the tortillas in to strips, add to the chicken and sauce.
  5. Stir.
  6. Add 1 cup of cheese and half the olives.
  7. Stir again.
  8. Flatten mixture and add rest of cheese and olives.
  9. Cook on low for 40-60 mins longer.

Thoughts After Cooking:

What did I think? I didn’t like it.

Ugh!

Red Sauce with Chicken is just gross. I didn’t like it and recommend skipping it.

For more Pinterest recipes, go to Peanut Butter Banana Oat Smoothie

For more Mexican food, go to Chorizo Breakfast Burrito

For more casseroles, go to Spanakopita Penne Bake

For more crock-pot recipes, go to Slow-Cooker Bread

The Company You Keep

The Company You Keep (A Kendra Clayton Mystery) by Angela Henry

I received this book free on BookBub. Lately those books have been a miss so let’s see how this one goes.

Plot Summary:

Kendra Wilson tried to leave her hometown, but found herself stuck there and working. She lost her job as a teacher due to cutbacks and instead spends her time split between working as a GED instructor and as a waitress at her uncle’s restaurant.

She loves both places, but wishes she could teach full time. Also her uncle’s restaurant is great but there is an annoying mean, boorish server-Joy and her uncle’s eclectic, high strung, dramatic girlfriend (I love her wigs and outfits, it makes me think of Iona in Pretty in Pink)

Kendra’s problems start with her best friend Bernie, who is dating a cad and jerk-Jordan Wallace. He’s just after her for money and someone to take care of him. They are waiting for him to pick Bernie up from the Literary Center’s Annual Recognition Program. His car was in the shop so he borrowed hers.

Jordan

Bernie says she’s done this time-Kendra has heard that before. Everyone knows how Jordan has been cheating on Bernie, especially with Vanessa Brumfield, their old mean girl from high school.

Jordan you are such a jerk.

The two go to the rental house that Bernie owns and has been renting to Vanessa (and she of course providing to Jordan along with herself.) Bernie goes to get her car and Kendra then goes home.

Later she is awoken by a phone call, Bernie telling her that Jordan is dead! Found dead in Vanessa’s house.

The two call the police, but Bernie ends up being the number one suspect. Kendra believes her to be innocent, but then discovers there is a whole lot more to Bernie than she realized!

I thought I knew Bernie, but I was wrong.

In fact, Kendra discovers that about all the company she keeps-Joy the waitress, Bernie, Bernie’s sister-in-law Diane Gibson, even her uncle: are hiding a lot more than she realized and all hated Jordan. There are lots of possibilities as to who could have killed Jordan but they all seem to point to Bernie.

Kendra wonders if Vanessa might be involved in all this, finding her “disappearance”, later claiming to be on “vacation”, very suspicious. She tries to investigate her and even goes out with Vanessa’s soon-to-be ex-husband, an extremely handsome lawyer. Kendra really falls for him, but it turns out someone doesn’t want them to together.

One of the two has a stalker that is determined they stay single for them. Will Kendra find out the truth and outwit this psycho? Or will she be joining Jordan in eternity?

Thoughts After Reading:

I really enjoyed this book and the characters. I thought Kendra was funny and extremely interesting and that the plot was well written and well paced.

The only thing I didn’t care for was Kendra dating someone that may or may not have murdered someone (never get involved with a suspect!!!) but otherwise I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see what is next in her investigations.

For more BookBub books, go to Weak Flesh

For more stalkers, go to The Wife Between Us