Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Artichokes, and Pesto

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Thoughts prior to cooking:

This recipe comes from the book, Knit. Purl. Die. I’ve always wanted to make it and now I finally have

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Ingredients:

Pasta:

  • 1 lb of pasta
  • 4 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Large bunch (1 lb or more) of asparagus
  • 1 Can of artichoke hearts packed in water
  • 1 Medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of pesto sauce
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Pesto:

  • 1 Large bunch of fresh basil, about 2 cups of leaves loosely packed
  • 3 to 4 Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Start with pesto sauce. Remove basil leaves from stems.
  2. Wash leaves and dry them on paper towels. (Make sure the leaves are dry or the recipe will not work.)
  3. In a blender or food processor, mix leaves with chopped garlic and blend.
  4. Drizzle in olive oil.
  5. Add nuts and cheese, mix again, adding more oil if necessary. Sauce should have a pasta consistency.
  6. Refrigerate until needed.
  7. Heat oven to 425°.
  8. Cook pasta to package directions. Set aside.
  9. Wash asparagus and trim ends about 2-3 inches.
  10. Set them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil and shake pan to coat spears.
  11. Bake in oven 7-10 mins. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  12. Let it cool and cut into pieces.
  13. In a large heavy pan, large enough to hold the pasta, heat a tablespoon of oil.
  14. Drain the artichoke hearts and lay them flat in heated oil. Cook until golden brown and turn once. Heat briefly and set aside.
  15. Add two more tablespoons of oil to pan and heat. Add onion and garlic.
  16. Cook onion until clear and soft. Add asparagus, toss lightly. Lower heat so vegetables don’t overcook.
  17. Add cooked pasta in thirds.
  18. Add about 1/4 cup of pesto sauce and turn.
  19. Add artichokes on top and any other extras.
  20. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

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Pasta with Roasted Asparagus Artichokes and Pesto

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Thoughts after cooking:

I thought it was good, but I didn’t care for the artichoke hearts. I thought it also could be improved with tomatoes and chicken.

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For more pasta recipes  go to Angel Hair Pasta with Chicken

For more recipes, go to On the 4th of July Comes Apple Pie

Murder He Wrote: Edgar Allen Poe

Many of you may not be aware of the fact that we all have a certain man to thank for the mystery genre. Edgar Allen Poe.

What?

Yes, Edgar Allen Poe’s gothic fiction not only began a new genre, but his character Inspector Dupet is what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based Sherlock Holmes on. So here’s to Edgar Allen Poe, father of the mystery and detective genre.

Here is a brief summary of a few of his stories involving murder and mystery.

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Keep an eye out as these too will be reviewed in the future.

At the Corner of King Street

At the Corner of King Street

At the Corner of King Street by Mary Ellen Taylor

At the Corner of King Street, by Mary Ellen Taylor, follows two threads: Sarah Shire-Goodwin, Scottish immigrant settling in the new colony of Virginia; and Addie Morgan, a women trying to distance herself from her family and the disease that destroyed it.

Addie Morgan’s family is cursed.

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The women in her family tend to carry traits for mental diseases, or “carry the curse” as it has been called for centuries. Addie was lucky enough to be passed over, but both her mother and older sister suffer from being bipolar. Addie has always taken care of everybody, but when her sister causes her to crash her car and nearly kills the two of them, Addie has had enough. She leaves Alexandria, Virginia; the Shire Family Salvage Company; and heads off to anywhere else.

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She finds herself working as a picker in a vineyard, later becoming the bookkeeper, and ultimately second-in-command. Here she feels she finally has a normal life with her job and her boyfriend, the vineyard owner. Everything is going perfect, until she receives a call from her sister Janet, and is sent back into the cyclone of her former life.

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After the car accident, Janet took off leaving her husband and son. Since then she has been doing drugs, drinking, and not taking her medication. She also is pregnant, and when Addie arrives on the scene, Janet has just given birth to a baby girl. Addie hopes that the baby can quickly be found a foster home so that she can return to her new life, but soon discovers that nothing in life is ever that simple.

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While Janet is committed to thirty days of a doctor’s care, Addie stays in Alexandria taking care of the new baby, and the family business. Here she meets up with an old friend, Margaret and the two stumble onto a mystery strife with superstition. In the homes they are salvaging, Addie and Margaret discover three witch bottles, a protective charm from the 18th century made to ward off a supposed witch named Faith. As they look deeper into this, they discover that this mystery is connected to Addie’s distant relative Sarah Goodwin along with the problems in the present. Addie soon finds out that the past is never far behind.

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Thoughts after reading:

I really enjoyed this novel. I liked the way that Mary Ellen Taylor made all of her characters multi-dimensional, just as complicated and interesting as they would be if they existed in real life. First we have the character of Addie who has had to grow up fast, being the one to care for her mother and sister because of their illness. After her mother’s death and her sister nearly killing her, Addie has had enough and wants to get far away in the hopes of having a normal life. When she is called back to the chaos of it all, she at first doesn’t want to help her sister or care for her sister’s baby. Addie is selfish for wanting to live her own life and not care for her family members, but it is a selfishness that has evolved from years of trying to make things better, to only have things fall even more apart. I appreciated that the author was willing to make the character not so saintly or eager to pitch in, but showing the reality of how much of a burden this disease is to the people who have it and for their family members.

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Eventually, Addie does decide to care for her niece and her reintegration into her Aunt Grace’s home, as well as trying to mend the broken relationship between her ex-brother-in-law Zeb and nephew Eric, were extremely well done. While some novels would have quickly had everyone pull together for “the good of the child”, the author had this repairing of familial bonds done slowly. Addie still has feelings of betrayal from her Aunt Grace not rescuing her from her mother’s care and the chaotic life they had lead. She also has a lot of guilt from choosing not to be a part of her nephew’s life and not fully preparing Zeb for the reality of what living with Janet is like. Aunt Grace is angry with Addie for having left her alone to work on the family, but is also angry with herself for not having the courage to mother the girls and remove them from her sister’s care. Zeb has spent many years angry with his ex-wife, but has lived a contented life raising their son. Now he has to deal with his resentment and bitterness at Janet for abandoning their family and once again throwing his world off kilter. Not only does the author make these slow transitions, but not all of these issues are resolved by the end of the book, the family still taking it one step at a time.

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I also loved the secondary character, Margaret, the sassy, free-spirited, historian. She has been working in the family bakery while trying to find another job, and becomes Addie’s partner in salvaging and unraveling the mystery of the witch’s bottles. As a fellow historian, Magaret’s excitement and wit made her extremely endearing and relatable. I hope to see more of her in the future; maybe even her own book or series? Here’s hoping!

Please!

The mystery was done very well. At first I disliked the journal entries from Sarah Goodwin that are placed in front of every chapter, but as the book went on and the lives of Sarah and Faith tied closer and closer to Addie and her family, they became extremely enjoyable. The final conclusion to the mystery and the novel was powerful and led to a perfect ending.

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All in all I really enjoyed this novel, giving it a five out of five star rating.

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I look forward to reading past and future novels of Mary Ellen Taylor and her tales of Alexandria.

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For the previous mystery book review, go to Fatally Frosted 

For more stand-alone mysteries, go to The Dollhouse Murders

With the 4th of July comes Apple Pie

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With the 4th of July tomorrow, I thought I should do some recipe that honors the day. As I was pondering this, the answer came to me. Apple pie. The perfect dish for America’s birthday. 

Thoughts before cooking:

Now this was a mysterious dish four years ago when I entered a pie bake-off. I searched the internet for the perfect apple pie, and found this recipe. It sounded simple and I risked it. I didn’t win (there was a gazillion pies) but not only did I think it was amazing, but everyone else did too. This recipe is from the food network and was posted by Sandi Anderson from Tyler’s Ultimate. Of course I have tweaked it over the years to suit the way I like it.

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Ingredients

Pie Crust:

  • 2 Cups of All-Purpose flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 3/4 Cup of Shortening
  • Ice Water

Filling:

  • 1/2 Cup – 1 Cup of All-Purpose Flour
  • 6-7 Granny Smith Apples peeled, and cut into slices
  • 1 Cup of White Sugar
  • 1 Cup of Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix up the shortening and flour. Add in water a tablespoon at a time until dough is more malleable. If you add to much and it is to liquid-y, then just add a bit more flour to firm it up.
  2. Put dough aside.
  3. When cutting up the apples, make sure to remove the hard pieces where the seed grows along with any spots or blemishes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375°
  5. Combine the apples, with the brown and white sugar.
  6. Add the flour and cinnamon, mixing them all together.
  7. Divid the dough in half and roll into two balls.
  8. Take a cutting board and put a little flour on the surface, rubbing it. Rub flour on your rolling pin as well.
  9. Place the dough down and roll it into a large circle.
  10. Place the dough in a cake pan.
  11. Lay the apples down on the dough in the pan.
  12. Put the two tablespoons of butter on top.
  13. Repeat step 8.
  14. Place the second ball of dough down and roll it out into a large circle.
  15. Place it on top, to be the top of your pie.
  16. Cut a small incision on the top of the pie to allow steam out.
  17. Add a dash of cinnamon and sugar on top.

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Thoughts after baking:

Best pie I ever made and sure to be the crowning achievement to any 4th of July celebration. At least until the fireworks come out!

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For more recipes, go to Best Guacamole Ever! (Plus Make Your Own Tortilla Chips!)