The Man Next Door

“The Man Next Door” from Death Wears a Beauty Mask by Mary Higgins Clark

Mr. Mensch just finished with one of his “guests” and is looking for a new “visitor” to join him. Mr. Mensch inherited millions from his penny-pinching, miserly father. He has moved around the country and had many “visitors” stay with him in his basement or secret rooms.

This is not good

He’s been looking at his neighbor Bree Matthews, watching her. He knows that choosing her would be dangerous, police would come-but he can’t get her out of his head. She had been remodeling her townhouse next door and had a leak destroy everything. She came over enraged and yelling that the contractor told her it was his fault-he had a leak pouring onto her roof. Mensch just told her calmly to get another contractor take a look-its not his fault. While he was calm on the inside, a fire was growing inside him. He wanted her.

The next day, Bree came to apologize and admit she was wrong. She had another contractor view and it turns out the original contractor cut a lot of corners. Mensch accepted her apology and couldn’t deny it. She was to be his next visitor.

That night he went to work, cutting out the stone in the basement that connects the two houses, his plan to get in and get Bree.

Bree has been having a bad weekend. She had her beautiful home decorated and destroyed by shoddy work. She is taking the contractor to court, which caused a fight and break up with her boyfriend Kevin Carter, as he felt she should just accept the settlement. She had to spend their planned Friday night alone, leave the office early Saturday because she has a cold, and spent all Sunday in bed miserable. Now she is heading to court and is woken early because of a strange grinding noise from next door. Ugh!

She doesn’t know how much worse her life is about to get as that noise marks Mensch’s entrance. He breaks in, drugs her up-makes it look as if she was abducted on her way home Friday night, and imprisons her in her basement. Will she make it out okay, or face the same fate as his previous’ visitors?

Thoughts After Reading:

I loved it. It was so engrossing that I read faster and faster until I reached the conclusion. I had to know if she survived or ended up dead in the river.

For more Mary Higgins Clark, go to Let Me Call You Sweetheart

For more from Death Wears a Beauty Mask, go to Voices in the Coalbin

For more short stories, go to A Much Expected Murder

For more books with kidnapping, go to The Secret Adversary

For more serial killers, go to The House on Foster Hill

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Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Happy Valentine’s Day!

So today we celebrate with a romantic murder mystery!

letmecallyousweetheart

Let Me Call You Sweetheart by Mary Higgins Clark

This is the first Mary Higgins Clark book I had ever read, so it is special to me. Years back I was just watching TV shows and movies on Youtube on my phone while I was working on something on the computer. The movie Let Me Call You Sweetheart came on, and I started watching it.

I got so into the film, I decided to read the book.

Kerri McGrath is a divorced mother and works for the D.A. Her ex-husband left her to trade up for a new wife/partnership in a law firm and has been pretty absent in Kerri and their daughter Robin’s life.

One day he was taking Robin out and she didn’t have her seatbelt on. They were in an accident and she gets her face damaged. Kerri takes her to the best plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles Smith. While they are waiting, Kerri sees a beautiful woman that looks so familiar to her, but she can’t remember where or why. She asks about her name, but doesn’t recognize it.

It sticks with her, and she keeps thinking of roses. It continues to trouble her until one day it hits her like a flash! The woman was a dead ringer for Suzanne Reardon! The Sweetheart Murder!

Eleven years ago, Suzanne Reardon was found dead in her home, sweetheart roses thrown everywhere. Her husband was arrested for her murder and the case quickly sewn up. It bothers Kerri that Dr. Smith would make a lookalike, and not one but TWO, as she discovers another woman done over the same way. She calls for the old files and begins to research into the case.

Geoff Dorso is pleased she is interested, as he is the defense attorney for Skip Reardon, Suzanne’s husband. He never believed that Skip was guilty and has been trying for the last eleven years to find something that proves it and help him get his freedom. He eagerly goes over the case with Kerri, hoping they find something new, along with falling head over heels for her.

But not all are happy that Kerri is looking into it. Her boss Frank Green made his career on that case and he is up for promotion, one that could go away if it turned out he sent an innocent man to jail. He encourages Kerri to let it go as she has a ton of current cases that are in need of looking into.

State Senator Jonathan Hoover, and friend of Kerri’s, is not interested in her dragging this up as he and the party were interested in elevating Frank Green and appointing Kerri to judgeship, but that won’t happen if she keeps looking into this.

Don’t mess with it

Jimmy Weeks, Mafioso, is dead set against any investigation into the Suzanne Reardon case. Right now he is going on trial, Kerri’s ex-husband, Bob, being his defense attorney. He tells Bob in no uncertain terms that he needs to get his ex-wife to quit or else bad things will happen.

Kerri is waffling between looking into the case and letting it go, especially with the threats against her, her job, and her daughter. But then she uncovers something and believes that the real killer is still out there. Will she be able to figure it out in time? Or will this be her last case?

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

I love this book. I enjoy it so much that I reread it a lot. I definitely recommend it to anyone.

For more Valentine’s Day posts, go to This Pen for Hire

For more on Mary Higgins Clark, go to Voices in the Coalbin

For more mysteries in retrospect, go to The Disappearance of Edwin Drood

For more Not in a Series Mysteries, go to The House on Foster Hill

Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Bark

So I love yogurt and when I saw this recipe I thought it would be interesting to try out. I found it on pinterest and it comes from Hello, Wonderful.

Plus strawberries are a Valentine’s Day staple, so I thought it would be a cute one to do before the holiday.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • Dried Strawberries (I couldn’t find any so I used Dried Cran-Strawberries)

Directions:

  1. Line a flat pan with sides with parchment paper and spread evenly with yogurt, making sure it is not too thin (about 3/8 of an inch thick).
  2. Sprinkle with dried fruit.
  3. Freeze for a few hours until completely frozen.
  4. Remove frozen yogurt from pan and peel off parchment paper.
  5. Break into pieces.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It wasn’t that good. The fruit kept popping off the yogurt and it was so hard it made my teeth hurt.

When it did soften it kind of melted everywhere.

Ugh!

Not something I would repeat.

For more Pinterest recipes, go to Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta

For more recipes, go to Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

Garlic Parmesan Kale Pasta

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I love kale, so when I find a recipe I want to make it! I found this on Pinterest but it originally comes from Budget Bytes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bunch of Kale
  • 1/2 lb of Pasta
  • 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp of Butter
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 1/4 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:

  1. Pull the kale leaves from the stems and tear them into small pieces.
  2. Rinse the kale in a colander under cool, running water; letting it dry.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  4. When water is boiling throw in pasta noodles, cooking al dente (about 7 mins).
  5. Drain the pasta in a colander.
  6. While pasta is cooking; add olive oil, butter, and minced garlic to another pot or skillet.
  7. Cook over medium heat for 1-2 mins or until garlic is soft and fragrant.
  8. Add the kale and continue to saute until kale has wilted and turned a deep green color (about 5-7 mins).
  9. Turn the heat off.
  10. Add the pasta to the pot with the kale.
  11. Toss pasta and kale together.
  12. Let them cool to the point that no steam is rising from the pot. You want the pasta hot but not hot enough to melt the Parmesan cheese.
  13. Season the pasta and kale with salt, black pepper, and red pepper.
  14. Add the grated cheese.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It was really good.

I love kale and I love pasta and this was a great combo!

For more Pinterest recipes, go to Blueberry Banana Protein Smoothie

For more Budget Bytes reccipes, go to Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta

For more pasta dishes, go to Creamy Parmesan Spaghetti

The House on Foster Hill

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

This story is told in twi different times, with two different points of view:

Present Time:

Kaine Prescott has lost her husband and has a stalker. She tried to get the police to investigate both more thoroughly, but both have come to dead ends.

After two years, she moved to Wisconsin and bought a house, sight unseen, in her late grandpa’s hometown.

As she fixes the house up, she discovers a dark history and secret surrounding it, connected to a long ago mystery. As Kaine continues investigating will she find the answers or succumb to a past and present killer?

Past:

Ivy Thorpe assists her father, the town doctor, in trying to exhume and discover what caused the death of the bodies the police find. The House on Foster Hill has always held bad memories for Ivy, but with the discovery of a dead woman’s body, a baby, and possible serial killer. Will Ivy outsmart the killer, or will she be the next in his deadly list.

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

It was good with great characters but the present day reveal was disappointing.

I expected more from the novel than the obvious and chunkily thrown in villain.

I really enjoyed how the author switched back and forth between the ’60s with Ivy and the present day with Kaine. This back and forth was extremely interesting, captured your attention, and made you want to find out what happened next.

For more serial killers, go to Real Murders

For more stalkers, go to Another Saturday Night and I Ain’t Got Nobody

Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

Another smoothie?

So yah, I drink a smoothie like every morning. There are going to be a lot of them being posted on here. This one I found online from Daily Smoothie.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Frozen Banana
  • 1 Cup of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk or Other Milk of Your Choice
  • 1/4 Cup of Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 2 Tbsp of Jelly

Directions:

  1. Add milk to blender first.
  2. Follow with peanut butter, jelly, and banana.
  3. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It was okay.

Not that good and to be honest I would never make it again.

For more smoothies, go to Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

For more drinks, go to Blueberry Banana Protein Smoothie

Secrets

Secrets (Sweet Valley High #2) 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 these weren’t the best written books. Most of them are cheesy, silly, and sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill.

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 miniseries, 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, had supernatural elements, psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog. So we get to review them!

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 book Double Love, the sisters competed for the same guy, Todd Wilkins. Todd really liked Elizabeth, but Jessica did all she could to stop the romance. A bunch of other stuff also happens with the football field being involved in a big tug-of-war between companies, Elizabeth and Jessica afraid their dad is having an affair, Elizabeth and Jessica’s brother dating a girl from the wrong side of town, Jessica pretending to be Elizabeth and damaging her reputation, dances/parties, etc.

This book picks up after Elizabeth played a trick on Jessica, getting her dunked fully clothed. So here is where our story begins…

SECRETS

It wasn’t fair, Jessica raged, tears streaming down her face. Enid was going to the fall dance with Ronnie, and she was sure to be named queen. Ronnie was so blind with love that he’d swing a million votes her way.

Jessica sighed. She just had to win. If she were queen, Bruce Patman would finally notice her. She’d never wanted anything so badly in her entire life. She’d do anything to make it happen.

Out of the corner of one wet eye, Jessica glimpsed a piece of paper sticking out from under the bed. It looked like a letter.

Dear Enid,” she read with a sudden voracious interest. A smile crept slowly across her features as a plan shaped itself in her mind.

Time to put my evil plan in motion…

Jessica is mad that her sister got one over on her and had her dunked in front of everyone. But she doesn’t think on it too long as she has something more weighty on her mind. She has been in love with Bruce Patman for years but he never paid attention to her. She has watched him go through every A-list girl except herself! Her latest attempt to snag him is to win Fall Queen, as Bruce is nominated Fall King. If the two are crowned, they will have to go to the following dances and school activities together-and he will fall madly in love with her.

The dance is two weeks away and Jessica can’t wait!

I’m so excited!

Elizabeth has noticed that her best friend Enid Rollins has been so down lately. The decide to do a marathon baking session to cheer her up-but no dice. Finally Elizabeth just asks her and Enid unloads. Enid has a secret-a big secret. She has a police record.

When her parents divorced two years ago, she got involved in drinking and drugs. She and her boyfriend, George Warren, hit a boy while driving. The kid turned out to be okay-but the two were arrested, given 6 months probation, and put through drug counseling. Enid was changed by it and George was sent away to a private boarding school.

Enid is worried about her boyfriend Ronnie Edwards finding out. He said a lot of stuff in the last book that makes Enid certain that if he discovered her secret he’d dump her right away.

In my open she would be much better without him. He’s a rude, jerky, jealous, control freak, and abusive.

Enid has been writing to her friend George these past years and is afraid that Ronnie will see it as cheating on him. She shows the letters to Elizabeth, but it is nothing more than average friend encouragement and support. Elizabeth promises to keep the letters a complete secret.

Meanwhile, Jessica and her friends are talking about Ms. Dalton the French teacher. Jessica’s best friend Lila Fowler hates Ms. Dalton as not only is her father dating the 25-year-old teacher (really? 25), but her boyfriend, Ken Matthews, has a giant crush on her. She starts a rumor that Ms. Dalton and him are having an affair.

Jessica returns home later in a bad mood. She tried to charm Bruce Patman-but received nothing. She wants to hang out with her sister-but she’s gone again off with Enid. Enid who hates Jessica. She starts thinking of everything that is wrong and goes in her sister’s room-as her’s is painted an ugly brown (bad idea by Jessica) and too messy (she hates cleaning). As she sits there she spots a letter, and a terrible, awful idea is born.

Later Enid, Ronnie, Elizabeth, and Todd are double dating when Elizabeth and Todd notice something is off with Ronnie. The couples split ways with Enid and Ronnie heading to the classic make-out spot. Ronnie acts totally different and all over Enid-and then breaks their date to the dance.

When he tries to go farther than Enid wants, she manages to get loose-but then it all comes out. Ronnie knows all about George and her past.

“The letters. Liz must have told him about the letters.”

Jessica leaves for a party at Lila’s hoping to snag Bruce Patman there. Elizabeth calls up Enid, but she won’t have anything to do with her. Elizabeth stays home wallowing in confusion, while Jessica heads out.

Jessica is super disappointed to find out Bruce already has a date to the dance and puts her eyes on now dateless Ronnie.

Elizabeth confronts the question of how this could have happened, discussing it with her favorite teacher-Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins tells her to look for the key thing-motivation. Why would anyone want to do this? Break up Enid and Ronnie?

Hmmm…

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 the twins wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

When Jessica goes to Lila’s party-but imagine in burgundy:

The dance: I see Jessica in this…

And Elizabeth in this:

Thoughts After Reading:

As a teen I loved it! From beginning to end. As an adult, I still enjoyed it-good pacing and the better writing than later books in the series.

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:

Just then Bruce sailed past, nearly colliding with her as she stumbled backward in an attempt to escape Winston’s murderous feet. He swept her with a long look that sent an electric shock tingling up her spine. There was a hint of invitation in his smile, and more than a spark of interest in his sexy blue eyes. Some of her misery faded. Could it be?…

Can Jessica play Bruce Patman’s game and win? Find out in SWEET VALLEY HIGH #3, Playing With Fire.

Of course we won’t because that isn’t a mystery. I don’t think I will be reviewing anything until book #13, Kidnapped. When I get there I’ll do a quick recap-and then continue.

For more young adult fiction, go to Christina’s Ghost

For more books were letters play a key role, go to This Pen for Hire

Waffle Maker Grilled Cheese

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I have a waffle maker and was interested in what else I can make in the waffle maker. I’m not sure where I found this, but I thought why not try it out?

Ingredients:

  • Bread
  • Butter
  • Cheese

Directions:

  1. Turn your waffle maker on.
  2. Butter one side of the bread.
  3. When waffle maker is ready, place a slice of bread, butter face down.
  4. Add cheese and top with bread, butter side up.
  5. Put top of waffle maker down.
  6. Let cheese melt then remove sandwich and eat.

Thoughts After Reading:

Yummy, easy, and a much faster clean up.

For more Grilled Cheese sandwiches, go to Garlic, Tomato, Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwich

For more sandwiches, go to Cucumber Hummus Sandwich

For what else you cando with a waffle maker, go to Waffle Quesadilla

The Enemy We Know

The Enemy We Know (A Letty Whittaker 12 Step Mystery) by Donna White Glaser

Letty Whittaker is a psychologist and recovering alcoholic, trying to help others. One of her patients “Carrie” and her discussed a plan to get away from her abusive husband.

When “Carrie” takes off, her abusive husband, Wayne, comes to the clinic and threatens her, fleeing when the police come-Letty just barely being able to be okay.

Oh no!

But now-Wayne claims that Letty attacked him and she’s being disciplined as there is no “proof” of her story.

Letty starts to fall into despair, when to make things worse-gross and cruel gifts keep coming her way. Wayne finds out about her alcoholism and threatens to reveal it to her boses and have her lose her license.

Then Wayne is found murdered and Letty is the prime suspect!

Thoughts After Reading:

This book was awful.

Ugh!

The clinic turned on Letty saying she made it up-believing the crazy guy who is need of help for his domestic violence over their trained psychologist?

Seriously!

And to top that off-her coworker was worried about her and snuck in the back of the cubicle and overheard everything! Why doesn’t she say something?

And then they have the guy who threatened her come back every week. Who are these people?

Plus Letty needed some real help. Seriously.

DO NOT READ!!!!!!

For more reviews, go to The Case of the Invisible Dog

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.

A Much Expected Murder

“A Much Expected Murder” by Gail Ingram, from Tales of Fatima

Basil Rathbone, yes the Basil Rathbone who played Sherlock Holmes in many movies, is getting ready after a performance when he and his secretary Lavender are warned by a brute of a man with a gun to “leave Mrs. Dawson’s case alone”.

As Rathbone is not involved with any case, he agrees. After the man leaves he receives a phone call from a Mrs. Dawson in need of help.

Hmm…

Rathbone meets with the woman who asks for his assistance as her husband has something bothering him and she can’t tell what it is. Rathbone goes to speak to the man, and discovers that he is convinced that his wife is murdering him. She had a young chemist help her with a poison that was undetectable and killed her first husband, and now she is killing him. But how does he know she murdered her first husband? Why he was the chemist.

The brute returns and attacks Rathbone for reneging his promise. Rathbone then goes to see his detective friend and he discovers that Mrs. Dawsonn never had a first husband. Then what is going on?

Wen they return to the house they discover they are too late, Mr. Dawson is dead.

Hmm…

And then to complicate things, the brute is there at the house! He is the doctor and an old friend of Mrs. Dawson, in fact her old lover.

He tells Rathbbone that Mr. Dawson told him his suspicions about poison and they are pretending he is dead to catch the killer. They made up a story of the first husband as to distract Rathbone. As they are in the house they stumble upon Mr. Dawson. They try to talk to him but he is dead-throat cut.

WHAT!

They call the police and try to figure out who did the deed? Mrs. Dawson for the money? The Doctor for Mrs. Dawson? Mr. Dawson’s crazy sister who constantly speaks of death?

Thoughts After Reading:

Great story. Loved it! And Basil Rathbone amazing!!!

For more short stories, go to The Old Plantation

For more on a husband’s murder, go to Death by Honeymoon

Blueberry Banana Protein Smoothie

So another smoothie! Yay!

Yay!

This was found on Pinterest and comes from Amy’s Healthy Baking,

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Frozen Blueberries
  • 1/2 Frozen Banana, Sliced
  • 3/4 Cup of Greek Yogurt
  • 3/4 Cup of Vanilla Almond Milk (I use regular milk as I don’t like almond milk)
  • 2 Cups of Ice

Directions:

  • Blend all until smooth.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It was delicious.

I love blueberries.

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

For more smoothies, go to Healthy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

For more drinks, go to Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

The Case of the Invisible Dog

The Case of the Invisible Dog (Shirley Homes Mystery #1) by Diane Stingley

After falling to strike it big in Hollywood, and two awful relationships, Tammy Norman has headed back to her hometown in North Carolina.

Desperate for work she takes a job with a Sherlock Holmes obsessed private investigator (who also believes to be a descendent of the real Sherlock Holmes), Shirley Homes.

At first Tammy spends her days doing nothing and getting paid well. Then a case comes their way. Every night a man is kept up by a barking dog, but neither he or his neighbors own one?

What’s starts out as a benign case turns to murder with Tammy wondering if she and Shirley have gotten in waaaay over their heads.

Thoughts After Reading:

This was soooo awful.

Ugh!

It was stupid. It makes fun of Sherlock Holmes and fans.

The characters are so awful.

Don’t read it. It was boring and the end was unsolved and made no sense. I can’t stress enough, do not read it.

For more private investigators, go to Wolverine Noir

For female private investigators, go to Innocent in Las Vegas

One-Pot Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

January is National Soup Month!

To celebrate, let’s eat some soup!

I love tortellini and a month ago Raley’s had a super sale, 2 packages for $5. I bought 4 and put three in the freezer for later.

I have made a tortellini soup before and saw this one so thought I would try it it out. It comes from pinterest, but originally Gal on a Mission.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp of Dried Rosemary
  • 28-oz Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 15-oz Can of Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano
  • 4 Large Basil Leaves or 1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Basil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Pepper
  • 4 Cups of Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 Cup of Heavy Cream
  • 20-oz of Three-Cheese Tortellini
  • 1/2 Cup of Shredded Parmesan Cheese + extra for garnish
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh Basil (Optional) to garnish

Directions:

  1. Place the onion, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil in a 6-quart soup pot or dutch oven.
  2. Sauté over medium heat for 5 mins or until onions are translucent.
  3. Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, chicken stock, and heavy cream.
  4. Stir to combine.
  5. Simmer for 20 mins.
  6. Place the tortellini into the soup and cook for 12-15 mins or until the tortellini are tender and cooked through.
  7. Stir in parmesan cheese.
  8. Serve and garnish with cheese and basil.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It was delicious!

Another yummy soup recipe.

For more Pinterest recipes, go to Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

For more soup recipes, go to Crock-Pot Potato & Kielbasa Chowder

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

Deadly Intent

Deadly Intent (The Nancy Drew Files #2) by Carolyn Keene

Background Information:

It’s been a couple of years since we reviewed one of this 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 schooler, an 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.

Hmmm…

Another thing this book series does,  as 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 whodonit is someone Nancy never saw coming.

ASSIGNMENT:Find a missing rock star-Bent Fender’s lead guitarist, Barton Novak, who disappeared suddenly after telling Nancy he had something important to tell her.

CONTACT: Roger Gold, Bent Fender’s drummer, whose father is a friend of Carson Drew’s.

SUSPECTS: 

  • Ann Nordquist, the group’s agent. She may have decided that ten percent isn’t enough. Maybe she’s going for it all.
  • Harold Marshall, the producer of Fender’s hit records. Could he also be producing pirate editions of those same tunes?
  • Dave Peck, a friend of Ned Nickerson’s, with a mysterious new job, and lots of cash to flash around.
  • Alan Wales, Bess Marvin’s new boyfriend, who’d give anything to be a success in the rock world. How far is he willing to go?

COMPLICATIONS: How do you prove there has been a kidnapping when there’s no ransom note? And how do you investigate a case when all the clues lead straight to your best friend’s boyfriend? But Nancy has to hang in there. Barton’s life is in danger-and before the case is over, so is hers!

Nancy has just finished her last case Secrets Can Kill, and is ready for some fun and relaxation. Her father, Carson Drew,  was college roommates with Sy Gold, who’s son is Roger Gold-drummer for Bent Fender. Carson is working on the band’s contract and in return, Nancy: George, Bess, and Alan all get to see the concert for free.

They hang out with the band before the show, talking about music and the like. Alan gets his dream wish as he plays with the group. Barton tells Nancy that he needs to talk to her about something strange he has discovered. They have to go and get ready, but Barton tells her they will talk after the show.

Hmm…

The band bursts back into the room with the shocking news that Barton has disappeared. Was he kidnapped or did he just take off again from the stress of fame?

The rest of the band think he just took off, but Roger is convinced that it is different this time. This concert is a special one, Rock for Relief, for handicapped kids, just like his sister. Roger knows he wouldn’t back out on this one. Not to mention he’s totally been into the music, so focused on the contract as he feels they are losing out on royalties.

Alan goes on stage in Barton’s place while Nancy does a bit on investigating. She discovers that two “roadies” no one knew took off with a large box-a box big enough to hide a person. Nancy also finds a wallet that matches one of the roadies rings, with a big L-shaped dragon. She then gets knocked out.

She wakes up with the concert over and the wallet missing. But even with that that she is on the case.

The next day Bess and Alan go to the label that carries Bent Fender to see if they will pick him up too. Nancy heads over with her father to speak to Ann Nordquist, the group’s agent. She is a very nice woman, just recently returned from China. She reassures the two that there is no cutting or dipping being done on her end. She thinks that Barton just didn’t understand the process it takes for the money to get into a  musician’s pocket.

Hmm…

Nancy then goes to see Harold Marshall, the producer, who is an angry bear of a man. He claims that it was all a stunt to sell records Bent Fender, just like Abbey Road and the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead. He also tells Nancy that there is no way they are signing wannabe no talent Alan.

Like that will happen.

Nancy knows that whoever attacked her was dead serious and there is a lot more to this case than meets the eye. She’s definitely not giving up. Even weirder, Alan does get signed onto the label, and Alan saw Barton in Marshall’s office with his famous paisley scarf made by his sister and he confirmed that he was hiding out.

Hmm…

Nancy is confused at what is going on but then gets a note from Carl Rutland, a security guard, at the music hall. He found Barton’s paisley scarf-which means Alan was lying. But why?

Hmmm…

Ned calls Nancy and is very concerned about everything, joining her to help keep her safe.

Yes that is Rick Springfield. He played Ned in the Christmas episode which you can check out on Netflix or youtube.

Nancy and George are worried about Bess, and try to track her down but miss her along the way. They do discover something fishy going on with Marshall’s secretary Vivian, she’s messing around with the masters of the records-the originals.

Hmm…

After this point it is cause for more research and Nancy and George go to Jefferson Market Library.

They find out more about pirating records, China of course being the country that never follows copyright laws. The same country that Ann just returned from.

Another surprising twist, Ann has been dating Carson, could her father be dining a killer?

What?!

Later that night at the club. Bess and Nancy get in a fight as Nancy questions Alan. Bess is determined to stand by her man and not Nancy.

You’ve barely been dating while have been friends forever with Nancy.

After the fight, Nancy and Ned head out and go for a walk. They run into Dave Peck, someone Ned knew from Emerson, but was expelled from stealing from the record store he worked at. He has a Chinese connection and makes a lot of cash, somehow.

Hmmm…

The next night they are at the Bent Fender concert, when the lights fizz out and Bess is kidnapped. Now the stakes are higher than ever as Nancy needs to solve this case now! Before Bess and Barton end up dead.

Outfits-

George Fayne’s concert outfit, imagine this in all black:

Thoughts After Reading:

Loved it! From beginning to end.

Nancy’s next case:

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

Nancy’s next case:

Nancy thinks a romantic ski vacation with Ned will solve their problems, but she’s in for a big–maybe fatal–shock! First comes a new case–matching wits with a dangerous killer. Then George falls in love with the chief suspect, a tight-lipped ski instructor with a murky, murderous past. A midnight chase down a stormy, sleet-covered slope may help Nancy put an end to the terror. Or will it become a lethal pursuit that puts an end to Nancy Drew?

Find out in MURDER ON ICE–Case #3 in The Nancy Drew Files,™ available in September.

For more Nancy Drew Files, go to Secrets Can Kill

For more disappearances, go to The Secret Adversary

For more kidnappings, go to Gates of Thread and Stone

Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

1920sparty

Happy New Year!

I hope you all have a blessed year!

breakfast

So it is time for our tradition of New Year’s Day breakfast food recipe!

Thoughts Before Baking:

So I don’t like the titular dessert and looked for something else to try in this book, settling on Carrot Oatmeal Muffins.

I hate eating oatmeal-like for breakfast with milk or hot water. Ugh, so gross. So any time I find a recipe that uses up oatmeal in baking or smoothies, I love to try it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 Cup of Flour
  • 1 Cup of Quick-Cooking or Old-Fashioned Dry Oatmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup of Finely Shredded Carrots
  • 1/2 Cup of Raisins (optional)-I didn’t do this as I hate cooked raisins
  • 1/2 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Beaten Egg
  • 1/3 Cup of Melted Salted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray a 12-cup muffin tin, set aside. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and oatmeal.
  3. Sprinkle the baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon on top. Mix them thoroughly.
  4. Stir in the brown sugar. Mix until until all is blended.
  5. Shred the carrots if you haven’t already done so. A fine shred is best. You want them to cook in the time it takes the muffins to bake and turn golden brown and delicious.
  6. Add the shredded carrots and raisins if adding them, to your bowl and mix them thoroughly.
  7. In a separate small bowl, combine the milk, beaten egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Give it a good stir so that everything is well combined.
  8. Dump the contents of the small bowl into the larger bowl. Gently stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened and no dry “pockets” remain.
  9. Fill the prepared muffin cups 3/4 full.
  10. Bake for 20-25 or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  11. Set the muffin pan on a cold burner or a wire rack for 10 mins. After they have cooled for 10 mins, put them on a rack to cool.
  12. Makes about 12 muffins.

Thoughts After Reading:

Fantastic. I loved them!

For more Hannah Swensen recipes, go to Christmas Lace Cookies

For more muffin recipes, go to Breakfast Puffin Muffins

For more breakfast recipes, go to Pão de Queijo

For more Joanne Fluke recipes, go to Vanilla Crackle

For more New Year’s Day posts, go to Best-Ever Blueberry Muffins

In other news, let’s have a quick year review.

So last year I published 124 posts!

Out of those 124 posts, I’ve reviewed 73 mysteries. Which you should definitely check out.

And the following stand alone mysteries: Alias GraceThe Andromeda Strain, Candy from a StrangerChristina’s Ghost, Death Wears a Beauty Mask, The Mystery of Jessica Benson, The Night SisterThe President’s DaughterWeak Flesh, The Wife, and Wuthering Heights

And the following nonfiction: The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small TownOscar Wilde’s Last Stand: Decadence, Conspiracy, and the Most Outrageous Trial of the Century, and Supernatural Horror in Literature

And the following short stories: The Black Velvet RibbonThe Boscombe Valley Mystery, A Case of Identity, Conspiracy, Definitely, A Crime of PassionThe Hitchhiker, The Jigsaw Puzzle, Marionettes, Inc.,The Old Plantation, Punishment Without CrimeStowaway, Voices in the Coalbin, and Zero Hour.

And the following Children’s books: Garfield in The Case of the Mystery Mail and High Sea Adventure 

And the following little extras: Archie Andrews: Not So Private EyeHe’s Dead, Jim, and Little Archie: Man of the House

That’s a lot!

With cooking I reviewed 49 different recipes:

Yum

Breakfast: Chorizo Breakfast BurritoEggs in Purgatory, and Pão de Queijo

Drinks: Banana Peanut Butter SmoothieBlueberry Earl Grey Tea SmoothieBlueberry Infused Water, Fresh & FrozenBlueberry Muffin SmoothieCinnamon Roll SmoothieHealthy Pumpkin Pie SmoothieLondon Fog FauxccinoLondon Fog SmoothieStrawberry Infused Water, and Watermelon Infused Water.

Soup:Black Bean and Turkey StewCrock-Pot Potato & Kielbasa ChowderCrock-Pot Sausage, Spinach, and White Bean SoupFrench Onion SoupHearty Lasagna Soup, and Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Spinach

Entrees: Basic Chicken SaladBasic HamburgerChilaquilesCreamy Parmesan SpaghettiCreamy Tomato Spinach Pasta, Cucumber Hummus Sandwich, FajitasGarlic, Tomato, Basil Grilled Cheese SandwichOne Pan Italian Sausage and VeggiesSlow Cooker Pinto Beans, and Zucchini Boats

Side Dishes: Cheese Potato CrispsFries Quatro Queso Dos Fritos, Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoesand Hasselback Potatoes.

Desserts: Baked Apple SlicesBasic ShortbreadBraided Candy CanesChocolate WhoppersChristmas Lace CookiesFlag CakeFresh Mint Chocolate Chip CookiesIrish Blueberry Scones, and Sugar Puffs.

Extras: Cottage Cheese ToastMock Clotted CreamMy Number One Comfort FoodSimple CharosetSlow-Cooker BreadWaffle Quesadilla, and What to Do When You Run Out of Cupcake Liners

This blog was viewed 20,314 times last year.

Thank you all who viewed my work

The busiest day of the year was November 24 with 551 views and the post One Pan Italian Sausage and Veggies

The top five posts of this year were:

5) Apple Orchard Bars from Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke (2016)

4) Spanakopita Penne Bake (2017)

3) Fries Quatro Queso Dos Fritos (2018)

2)”The Tell-Tale Heart” from Ten Great Mysteries by Edgar Allen Poe (2017)

1)”The October Game” from Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury (2016)

So what will the next year hold?

You’ll just have to follow me to find out!