Flag Cake

Thoughts Before Baking:

We reviewed a 4th of July mystery on Tuesday and we have another coming Wednesday, on the actual 4th. I thought the best way to celebrate is with a recipe I made a few years back and really enjoyed. I found it in a magazine and it comes from Betty Crocker.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box of Betty Crocker or Other Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 1/4 Cups of Water
  • 1/3 Cup of Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Container of Vanilla Frosting
  • 1/3 Cup of Blueberries
  • 1 Pint of Fresh Strawberries, pits removes and sliced in half

Directions:

  1. Cook cake mix according to box directions..
  2. Cool 10 mins and remove cake from pan.
  3. Cool for an hour.
  4. Place cake on try and frost top and sides.
  5. For flag design, arrange blueberries in the upper left corner to create stars.
  6. Arrange strawberries in rows to create stripes.
  7. Serve immediately. (Store covered in fridge)

Thoughts After Baking:

I loved this cake and thought it was absolutely delicious. You should add it to however or whichever way you choose to celebrate the festivities.

For more 4th of July recipes, go to Happy 4th of July Triple Berry Salad

For more Betty Crocker recipes, go to Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

For more holiday recipes, go to Fajitas

For more cake recipes, go to Irish Apple Cake with Custard Sauce

For more desserts, go to Chocolate Whoppers

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Death by Cashmere

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Death by Cashmere (Seaside Knitters Mystery #1) by Sally Goldenbaum

Thoughts Before Reading:

This was recommended by Goodreads as I enjoyed The Black Sheep Knitting Mystery series.

At the time this post was being written, Anne Canadeo has yet to write any more mysteries, so I figured, hey what the heck! Let’s try it out.

As this book features the 4th of July, I’m posting it the Tuesday before and will post again on next Wednesday, the real 4th of July.

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Plot Synopsis:

Isabel “Izzy” Chambers has returned to Sea Harbor, Massachusetts the town she used to visit every summer.

Izzy had tried being a lawyer, but after a case went bad she left and decided to open her own knitting shop. She, her Aunt Nell, their young friend and lobster fisher woman, Cassie; and older woman rolling in dough, Birdie, finish the group.

The shop does extremely well but both Izzy and her aunt Nell have come in agreement that they would like someone to rent the above apartment and keep an eye out. Enter Angie Archer, an old friend who has just moved back as well.

Angie ran a bit wild after her father died in a quarry accident, but her life at school achieving her B.A. and Masters has calmed her down. Currently she is assisting the Historical Society in putting together an exhibit on the quarry.

One night Angie prepares to go out with Peter, Cassie’s brother; but the night takes unexpected turns as Nell and Izzy spot her fighting with the town matriarch Margarethe’s son Tony.

Nobody is sure what happened next, but the next day Cassie goes out to check her lobster traps and finds Angie’s dead body.

While the cops originally rule it as an accident, it turns out that it is murder.

The knitters start investigating and discover that Angie had a major chip against the town’s bigwigs, was researching into the town’s deeds for more than just the quarry exhibit, and may have had more than a few upset at her.

While they hunt for the truth, someone wants their secret buried and is willing to kill again and again to protect themselves.

Which person in their “no crime” town is secretly a killer?

Hmm…

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Thoughts After Reading:

In a lot of ways this is like The Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries.  You have a person who used to vacation there moving back to live their full time: Lucy Binger/Izzy Chambers. In the knitting group there is an older woman who looks out for everybody and mothers them: Maggie Messina/Aunt Nell. There is young girl to round the group out: Phoebe Meyer/Cassie.  They both take place in a little town near Boston.

However, this book was a bit lacking, to me at least. It took a looong time to get the characters backstories, I’m not sure if the author just wanted to build suspense or what.

The other thing I disliked was the author took a loong time to get to the mystery, I’m not sure if she was floundering, just trying to build tension, or wanted to round out her story?

And the mystery was extremely solvable. It took barely any pages for me to have it figured out yet these “detectives” never even thought to look at the most obvious clue or what else Angie was interested in; instead going after red herrings.

But besides that the book wasn’t bad, but promising that it could be better in later novels. I’ll keep reading to see if the book excel or if they flop.

For more 4th of July mysteries, go to The Hyde Park Murder

For more knitting mysteries, go to The Postman Always Purls Twice

For more mystery reviews, go to Death by Divorce

 

French Onion Soup

Thoughts Before Baking:

So this recipe comes from my sister blog theCatWhoWroteaBlog.wordpress.comNow my big sister blog TheCatWhoWroteaBlog usually does this with all the recipes in one post. I prefer doing one at a time so I won’t be reposting the whole thing.

However if you are interested in all the recipes pulled from the tenth book, The Cat Who Talke to Ghosts, just follow this link.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter or Margarine
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cooking Oil
  • 1 3/4 Cup of Thinly Sliced Onion
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Sugar
  • 3 14.5-oz Cans of Beef Broth
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • 4 Thick Slices of French Bread, Toasted
  • 1 Cup of Gruyére Cheese, Softened

Directions:

  1. Heat butter or margarine and oil in saucepan.
  2. Add onion slices and sugar.
  3. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown.
  4. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper.
  7. Put soup into 4 bowls and top with toasted bread. Sprinkle cheese on toast.
  8. Broil until cheese melts. Serves 4.

Thoughts After Reading:

I’m not a big French Onion Soup fan, but everyone in my family loved it. They said it was perfect and just how French Soup should taste.

What do I know?

For more on The Cat Who…Cookbook Recipes, go to Chocolate Whoppers

For more soup recipes, go to Hearty Lasagna Soup

For more recipes, go to Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Death by Divorce

Death by Divorce (Caribbean Murder Mystery #2) by Jaden Skye

Thoughts Before Reading:

I received this book free from BookBub an amazing site that you can get free ebooks from. You know me and free things.

Plot Synopsis:

So Cindy Blaine has solved the death of her husband in Death by HoneymoonCindy is lost at what to do next with her life when she is called by an old school friend Dalia who’s husband has gone missing.

Understanding how her friend feels, unsure that she can solve this crime too, she still heads down to Grenada. There she teams up with police detective Mattheus and sets out to solve the disappearance.

This is a tricky case as Ames was very unfaithful and would leave for weeks at a time, could he have left Dalia for another woman, like he did the wife before?

It also turns out that while Ames is very rich and lives a high life, most of his money has come from Dalia-who has refused to fund him any longer.

Oh

There is much more than meets the eye with drugs, deception, and a complex web of lies and other lives.

Hmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

This was a good follow-up novel. The mystery and characters were very interesting with some good twists and turns.

The combination of Cindy’s inexperience but emotional clarity, matched with Mattheus’ weary experience and logical thinking was great. I thought it was a good read sans all the awful spelling mistakes.

For more Caribbean Murder Mysteries, go to Death by Honeymoon

For more BookBub books, go to This Doesn’t Happen in the Movies

For more cheating husbands, go to Run Run As Fast As You Can

For more mysteries involving disappearances, go to The Night Sister

For more investigative reporters, go to Loose Screw

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thoughts Before Baking:

I received this Betty Crocker Celebrate! cookbook several years ago for Christmas. Since then I have made a few different recipes from it. When I saw this one about mint chocolate chip cookies, I had to make it as I LOVE mint!

Especially with CHOCOLATE!!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 Cup of Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup of Butter or Margarine, Softened
  • 1 Tablespoon of Freshly Chopped Mint Leaves
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Package (10 oz) of Mint Chocolate Chips ~1.5 Cups

**HOLIDAY SHORTCUT: If you don’t have time to chop the mint, add 1/4 teaspoon of Mint Extract instead.**

***HOLIDAY TWIST: Substitute the raspberry chocolate chips for the mint for another summer twist.***

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat sugar, butter, mint, and egg in large bowl with electric mixer on medium or with spoon.
  3. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls about two inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake 11-13 mins or until golden brown.
  7. Cool 1-2 mins, move from sheet to wire rack. Makes about 3.5 dozen cookies

Thoughts After Cooking:

Sorry no picture, but that just means I’ll have to make more!! It is so good, you should try it. I’ve never made it with the raspberry cookies, and I can’t wait to try.

For more Betty Crocker Celebrate! recipes, go to Irish Soda Bread 

For more cookie recipes, go to Chocolate Whoppers

For more desserts, go to Sugar Puffs

For more mint recipes, go to Blackberry Mint Infused Water

Capital Bride

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Capital Bride (Matchmaker & Co. #1) by Cynthia Woolf

Thoughts Before Reading:

I got this book free, all I needed to do was post a review. So here we go.

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Plot Synopsis:

Sarah Johnson finds herself a homeless, unmarried, mother. Even though she is trained as a governess no one would take a mother, let alone an unmarried one.

Her cousin William, who inherits her family’s property, offers to marry her and give her a home. But she knows that that will be the kiss of death for him in society.

She decides there is only one thing left, become a mail order bride for Mr. John Atwood.

John Atwood is a widower, who’s daughter hasn’t spoken a word since his wife was murdered. Will Susan an John work things out and will their kids get along?

The murder comes back and John has to face him and his old demons. But then something more frightening occurs, someone is after Sarah and will stop at nothing to get her. Will she be kept safe, or will she finds herself kidnapped and forced to be the bride of a psychopath.

Oh no!

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Thoughts After Reading:

I received this book free and thought it was horrible. The characters are not from the right time period in manners, speech, culture, and the beliefs.

She also had the “racism” wrong. The East was much more racist than the West, as in the West biracialism, was popular. I felt as if this author did hardly any research into the time period she was writing about.

The plot line is boring and the characters act completely strange and unrealistic. She took things that would have made a great climax and resolved them too soon, realizing afterwards she was missing conflict and pulled out the dumbest and lamest one to use. It was also poorly written as everything just works out fine for the characters, no conflict, realism, or interesting things happen. Very dull and boring.

For more historical fiction mysteries, go to Alias Grace

For more mail order brides, go to Paper Roses

For more Westerns, go to Loose Screw

For more kidnapping mysteries, go to The Last Suppers

 

Hearty Lasagna Soup

Thoughts Before Cooking:

My husband and I love lasagna, so when I came on this recipe I knew it would be perfect. This recipe comes from 12 Tomatoes: Simple Recipes, Serious Flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs of Italian Sausage
  • 1 28 oz can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 10 oz Lasagna Noodles, Broken into Smaller Pieces
  • 8 oz Fresh Kale (Optional)
  • 4 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 1 Cup of White Onion, Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup of Parmesan Cheese, Grated
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Dried Basil
  •  1 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot heat the olive oil and brown the sausage.
  2. Once sausage is cooked, add the onion and cook until softened.
  3. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, add the basil, oregano, and red pepper.
  5. Stir in tomato paste until incorporated, then add the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, water, and bay leaves.
  6. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 mins, then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 mins.
  7. Add lasagna noodles and kale and cook for 8-10 mins.
  8. Transfer to bowls and top with cheese.

Thoughts After Reading:

I left my soup on the stove to cool so I good put it away in the fridge and when it had all the liquid was pretty much gone!

But otherwise it was really good and I would definitely make it again.

For more lasagna noodle recipes, go to Broken Lasagna with Zucchini-Tomato Sauce

For more soup recipes, go to Black Bean and Turkey Stew

For more recipes, go to London Fog Fauxccino

Frosted Shadow

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Frosted Shadow (Toni Diamond Mystery #1) by Nancy Warren

Toni Diamond is a beautiful blonde Texan who has worked her way up from poverty to a great lifestyle, all due to the Lady Bianca Cosmetics.

This Mary Kay makeup line enables women to run their own business and allow any to move up the ranks, rewarding the best saleswomen.

Toni is attending their annual conference, along with being one of the motivational speakers. As she starts her address, she is interrupted with the shock that a Lady Bianca representative was murdered.

Toni heads down with the crowd, but realizes this is not a Lady Bianca rep. She isn’t dressed accordingly, and her makeup is more a free makeover than something she’d be showcasing to prospective clients.

Sergeant Luke Marciano wasn’t looking for civilian involvement, and initially believing that Toni was beauty over brains; he never expected to find himself thrilled at the prospect of her interference.

At first drawn to her outer beauty, he quickly finds that overshadowed by her intelligence and quick mind as she proves to be a powerful ally into the world of Lady Bianca.

The dead women turns out to be suffering from a bad marriage, a lover, and attempt of divorce. She wasn’t even here for Lady Bianca, but a mystery book convention. While the police investigate the victim’s husband, Toni takes a step back and focuses on her team.

To Toni’s surprise and disapproval, she discovers that her biggest rival in the business, Nicole Freedman is pressuring her team into making large purchases, amounts impossible to sell in one month, just so that they can win the prize. After witnessing her browbeating one of her team into submission, Toni speaks out against her.

This unleashes one giant catfight, in which Nicole accuses her of not only trying to sabotage her team, but of sending her threatening anonymous emails.

Toni is confused at that, and after the fight ends she gets a reprimand from the higher ups. A fight and a lecture in the span of a few hours? Toni settles on a walk to calm herself, returning to the hotel late and going to the nearest bathroom to relieve herself.

In the bathroom she notices Nicole’s feet in another stall, telling that it is her by her unique shoes. Not wanting another confrontation, she tries to finish quickly and leave, but notices that Nicole is seated unusually and hasn’t moved.

Going to check on her she discovers that Nicole is dead, she too has been murdered.

What?!

Even though they disliked each other, Sergeant Marciano dismisses Toni as a suspect. He believes the two deaths are connected and starts investigating what ties they shared.

Toni decides to do her own investigating, and gets signaled out by the killer. Will she be able to solve the case, or just end up another victim?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I loved this mystery.

Toni works for a Mary Kay type cosmetics company and I love how the author creates a composite of beauty queen with intelligent woman. Diamond is relatable and fun, you quickly being drawn into her life and the mystery that engulfs it.

Hmm…

The mystery was interesting and enjoyable. The only thing I didn’t like was the way they connected the first murder with the second, it was pretty weak to me.

Otherwise, I thought it was a fun mystery and look forward to the next book in the series.

For more mystery reviews, go to Alias Grace

Black Bean and Turkey Stew

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I just got a crock-pot and my mother gave me this book to go with it. As I flipped through the pages I was looking for something that could cook all night while I was asleep, and be ready the next day for dinner. This recipe of stew/chili appealed to me.

Ingredients:

  • 3 15-oz Cans of Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
  • 1.5 Cups of Chopped Onion
  • 1.5 Cups of Fat-Free Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup of Sliced Celery
  • 1 Cup of Chopped Red Bell Pepper
  • 4 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1.5 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Coriander
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper
  • 6 oz Cooked Turkey Sausage, Thinly Sliced
  • Cheddar Cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except sausage into crock-pot. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours.
  2. Stir in sausage and cook on low another 10-15 mins.

Thoughts After Cooking:

It was delicious and so easy. I loved it and will be making this again and again.

For more chili and soup recipes, go to Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Spinach

For more recipes, go to London Fog Fauxccino