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

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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

 

Zucchini and Tomatoes

I love zucchini and tomatoes, so this seemed a perfect recipe for me.

This comes from The Kellogg’s Cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup of KELLOGG’s Complete Wheat Bran Flakes
  • 2 Teaspoons plus 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Grated Lemon Zest
  • 4 Medium Zucchini (about 1 1/4 lbs), well washed, trimmed, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  • 3 Medium Tomatoes (about 3/4 lbs), peeled, cored, seeded, and cut into wedges.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place the wheat bran flakes in a resealable bag. Seal the bag and using a rolling pin, crush the flakes into a fine crumb.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a small frying pan over low heat. Add the crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 mins, or until lightly colored.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in zest. Set aside.
  5. Heat the remaining tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  6. Add zucchini and saute for 5 mins or until almost tender.
  7. Add tomatoes and lemon juice, along with salt and pepper.
  8. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 mins, or until hot.
  9. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
  10. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top and serve.

Thoughts After Cooking:

No picture, I forgot to take one.

It was really good except the crumbs. They were too sweet and didn’t really add to the recipe.

For more Kellogg recipes, go to Cheese Potato Crisps

For more from the Kellogg’s Cookbook, go to Rice Krispies Cookies

 

Lowcountry Boil

Lowcountry Boil (A Liz Talbot Mystery #1) by Susan M. Boyer

So I first became aware of the Liz Talbot Mysteries with the third book, Lowcountry Boneyard. I was a book reviewer for a blog, we didn’t get paid but I did get free books to read, like that gum commercial.

I tried to get the rest of the series but the libraries didn’t have it and I thought about buying it but I really wanted to read it first. I finally got my hands on the first book, so here we go!

Liz Talbot left Stella Maris Island, her hometown, for college and marriage and has hardly been back. Her high school sweetheart, Michael Devlin, married her evil cousin Marci Miller (seriously she has some screws loose), and then she married, Scott Andrews, turned out to e a narcissistic conman.

She is divorced and now runs a successful private investigator team with her ex-brother-in-law Nate Andrews. (It is obvious he has feelings for her but Liz doesn’t see it and still carries a torch for her high school sweetheart).

Everything changes when she sees the ghost of her high school friend, Colleen Stevens. She warns her to come back to the island as her grandmother, Gram is dead.

At first Liz thinks her grandmother died by accident, but soon she and her brother. Blake Talbot, Police Chief, decide there was something more happening.

Liz inherits her Gram’s house and Colleen, a guardian spirit who is connected to the island. As long as Liz remains on the island, Colleen is there to guide and protect her-but if Liz doesn’t stay then terrible things will happen.

As Liz says goodbye to Nate and her other life, she sets out to make Stella Maris her new home and solve who killed Gram.

She finds herself in a wasp nest of developers, fighting city council, blackmail, hired guns, domestic violence, choosing between her old flame or starting something new, and more! Will she find out the truth, or end up joining Colleen in the spirit world?

Thoughts After Reading:

It was a great read. I love how classy and ladylike Liz is, as a Southern woman should be, along with how tough and resourceful she is.

This novel is great read as it gets intense in the middle and I was flipping pages trying to get to what happened next.

I loved it and can’t wait for book 2!

For more private investigators, go to The Case of the Invisible Dog

For female private investigators, go to Innocent in Las Vegas

For more Southern mysteries, go to Design for Murder

For more supernatural mysteries, go to Christina’s Ghost