Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

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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!

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Devil’s Food Cake Murder

Devil’s Food Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #14) by Joanne Fluke

So it has been a while since we reviewed a Hannah Swensen Mystery. Let’s do a quick review. Hannah is an annoying baker and cookie shop owner who “investigates” murders as she is the only one in town who is “able” to.

She doesn’t work but manages to keep her shop afloat and solve crimes better than the cops. She has two boyfriends-Mike, a cop with a roving eye, who uses her for food and such; and Norman a dentist who actually cares for Hannah and wants to marry her because he loves her.

Hannah doesn’t really love either one but strings them both on as one is her picture of “manliness” and the other “sensitivity”.

Ugh!

What happened most recently is that the professor who dated Hannah when she was a student of his (but he turned out to be married) moved to Lake Eden and was murdered-Hannah having to solve the crime. Norman was also away at a conference, but when he returned, acted so weird, cold and avoiding Hannah.

He brought back his ex-fiancé, Doctor Beverly Thorndike, who Hannah hates as she wants Norman only interested in her-even though SHE can date another man. Really Hannah? As if that’s fair!

Anyways, Reverend Bob Knudson and Claire have finally been married. They went on a short two day honeymoon, as Rev. Bob couldn’t find anyone to fill in for him. However, he happens to run into childhood friend Matthew Walters, now the same denomination minister, and Rev. Matthew has volunteered to fill in for Rev. Bob so he and Claire can go on a real trip.

Everyone is excited except for Rev. Bob’s mother, Grandma Knudson. She starts to grow suspicious of Matthew and questioning if he really is who he says he is.

Why you may ask? Matthew remembers the sofa being green, when at the time he was staying with them it was red.

Gasp

Matthew as a kid had a chocolate allergy, while this Matthew has been eating Grandma Knuson’s Devil’s Food Cake nonstop.

Hmm…

Matthew says he is on a four month sabbatical, but Grandma Knudson knows that they don’t let them go for more than six weeks.

And to top it off, Matthew can sing! Ministers can’t sing well according to Grandma Knudson.

Seriously, Grandma Knudson, really? Really, Fluke?? I’m a minister’s daughter and I know tons who can sing. But whatever…

Hannah and Andrea investigate, along with trying to figure out what to do about Doctor Bev. They discover that Matthew is color blind-that explains seeing red as green. Matthew’s major is music and he was given a four month sabbatical. And yes, Matthew outgrew his allergy.

Oh well

Everyone feels great about it until Matthew’s dead body is once again found by Hannah. All are sad.

The next day Grandma Knudson and Hannah get the surprise of their lives. Rev. Matthew arrives and says the dead body is that of his almost twin-like, resembling cousin Paul.

Yes for some reason Paul pretended to be Matthew. But why? What was he after? Will Hannah find out or die trying?

Meanwhile, we end on a real cliffhanger. Apparently when Norman and Doc Bev broke up the engagement-she was pregnant. She never told him until now, and they are going to move in together so that Norman can get to know his daughter Dinah. This means that the Hannah, Mike, and Norman triangle is over.

Boom

Thoughts After Reading:

***Spoiler Alert***

Besides Grandma Knudson saving the day (priceless) I thought this book was horrible.

These characters make zero sense and just act completely unrealistic.

That ending though, Fluke shocked me with the Norman having a secret baby. I immediately went out and checked the next book out from my local library.

For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Gingerbread Cookie Murder

For more from Joanne Fluke, go to Vanilla Crackle

For more reviews, go to The President’s Daughter

Twin Sun Toast

StarWars

As Tuesday’s book review was on a fantasy/science-fiction book, I thought that the perfect recipe to pair it would be one from The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis.

This is similar to the Joanne Fluke recipe, Hole in One, but doubles it! Is it doubly delicious? Or a double fail?

Ingredients:

  • 1 Wide Slice of Sourdough Bread (at least 7 inches wide)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Butter
  • 2 Small Eggs
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. Put the bread slice on a cutting board.
  2. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out two holes side by side, but leaving bread between and around the holes.
  3. Put a skillet on the stove and switch on the medium heat.
  4. Put the butter in the skillet.
  5. As butter melts, spread it evenly around the bottom of the pan.
  6. Place the bread slice in the pan and break an egg into each hole.
  7. Add salt and pepper.
  8. Fry until the clear parts of the egg turn white, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Slip a spatula under the bread and flip it over quickly and carefully enough to not let the eggs slide out of the holes.
  10. Cook for one minute more.
  11. Slide toast on a plate and a plate and enjoy.

Thoughts After Reading:

So this did not work out at all like the image in the cookbook. The bread kept ripping and egg went everywhere.

But I did not see that they needed to be small eggs, I just used the regular large ones.

So I will try to make this again and make sure I use small ones. But otherwise it was a delicious way to start the morning.

For more recipes from theThe Star Wars Cookbook: Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes, go to Wookie Cookies.

For more breakfast recipes, go to Herbed Eggs with Sour Cream

For more recipes, go to Vanilla Crackle

Vanilla Crackle

So I had a recipe on Gingerbread Wands which I thought would go perfect with Gingerbread Cookie Murder, but I lost the recipe and can’t make them.

So instead I will post a recipe from Joanne Fluke, but if you are interested in Gingerbread cookies, check this recipe out.

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Thoughts Prior to Cooking:

So the recipe comes from Apple Turnover Murder. This recipe intrigued me as it only had a few ingredients and seemed incredibly easy to make.

She calls it Vanilla Crack, but that has negative connotations so I changed the name.

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Ingredients:

  • Non-stick Cooking Spray or Butter
  • 1 Box of Soda Crackers ( I used saltines)
  • 2 Sticks of Salted Butter (1 Cup, 8 oz, 1/2 lb)
  • 1 Cup of White Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup of Salted Nuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Line a 10 by 15-inch cookie sheet with foil.
  2. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray or rub with butter.
  3. Cover the pan completely with a single layer of crackers, salt side up. Set aside
  4. Preheat oven at 350° Fahrenheit.
  5. Combine the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a heavy saucepan. Bring it to a full boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Boil for five minutes, stirring constantly. Don’t stop stirring.
  7. Pour the mixture over the crackers as evenly as possible. Spread it about if needed.
  8. Sprinkle the nuts on top.
  9. Slide the pan into the oven for ten minutes.
  10. Remove pan from oven and let it cool. When they have thoroughly cooled, peel off foil, and break into pieces.

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Thoughts After Cooking:

When I ate the first piece I thought they were okay. But then, I had to have another, and another, and another…you see why they are called crack. They are addicting! But there is no drugs in it, it is that toffee taste that is so good it destroys your self-control.

These were really good, and there is a chocolate version that I am eager to try.

For more Hannah Swensen recipes, go to Too Easy Hotdish

For more dessert, go to Cherry-Pistachio Tea Cakes

For more recipes, go to How to Make a London Fog

Gingerbread Cookie Murder

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Gingerbread Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen #13.5) by Joanne Fluke

So I hate these Hannah Swenson holiday specials.

They are boring, predictable, and just avenues to include a ton of Christmas type recipes. But I started something, and now I am going to finish it. The review must go on.

Plot Synopsis:

It is Christmas time once again in Lake Eden. Ernie Kusak, driver, chauffeur, etc; has recently won the lottery, moved into Hannah’s condo, and started playing Christmas music incredibly loud and ALL THE TIME.

I don’t like it.

He told Hannah he would turn it down tonight, so hopefully he does.

Yay!

That night Hannah goes out with Norman, his mother Carrie, her new husband Earl, Hannah’s mother Delores, and her new boyfriend Gary Jenkins. He just moved into town, and bought Ernie’s old house.

When Hannah gets home she discovers that Ernie negated on his promise and that all the music is on and full blast.

Luckily someone has called the police, so Mike is there. Ernie’s ex-wife loans Mike her spare key to get into the house and they find Ernie’s dead body.

Who killed him? And why?

Thoughts After Reading:

So what did I think?

So what are my issues with this book?

1)Helpful Hannah

Mike questions Lorna, as we all know the wife/ex-wife usually has good motive for murder. Hannah tries to help by telling her she didn’t do it and it’s horrible to have her be accused. HELLO Hannah if you interfere with Mike’s questioning he is never going to let you in on anything. And two, you don’t know that she didn’t do it. She could be the killer.

Seriously Hannah!

2)Mike Questions Hannah as the killer

Really Mike? You think that she could be a killer. My goodness that is the dumbest thing I ever heard. Why are the deputies so stupid!

3)How does Hannah run her business?

How does Hannah make any money selling her goods at 50¢?

4)The Cops are Idiots

Now it hurts me to write this as I like police officers. My family has had them throughout and I respect them. But man they are so stupid in this book series.

The cops seem to get dumber in each book. In this one they think one man killed Ernie, but only wiped half of his fingerprints, leaving the crucial ones. Really? Smells like a frame-up

5)Fluke Knows Nothing of Cell Phones.

So Hannah discovers that Gary’s phone number was the same on the winning ticket. You know you don’t pick your number when you get a cell phone, you have one assigned. So it is pretty strange to choose “these” influential numbers that mean something, when he couldn’t do that.

6) It is All Circumstansial Evidence

And the dumbest thing to this book? How Hannah discovers the reason for murder and the guy admits it. So all the numbers on Gary’s phone number all have a certain special meaning to him. These are also the ones he chooses for the lottery ticket, the one Ernie claims is his. He has it framed and hanging on the wall, Gary spots it and kills him. Hannah figures it out and when she questions him, all Gary has to do is deny it. There is no proof he was in there, just because they use the same numbers doesn’t mean anything. It all is circumstantial. All he has to do is say he doesn’t know anything, let them prosecute the other guy and go on his way. Why would he give himself up? It’s just dumb, dumb, dumb.

For more Hannah Swensen mysteries, go to Apple Turnover Murder

For more Hannah Swenson Christmas mysteries, go to Plum Pudding Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to A Most Peculiar Circumstance

For book reviews, go to A Duty to the Dead

Too Easy Hotdish

 

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Thoughts Prior to Cooking:

This recipe comes from the Hannah Swenson Mystery Apple Turnover Murder.

Hannah makes this dish for her boyfriend and sheriff deputy, Mike. Now before reading this book I had never heard of a hotdish, other than a hot dish, as in a dish that is hot. Apparently they are big in the Midwest and Northwest, but me being from California we don’t eat “hotdishes”, we eat casseroles. But I was willing to give it a try as to how they described it in the book made it sound extremely tasty.

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Ingredients:

  • Non-stick Cooking Spray or Butter
  • 1 and 1/2 lbs of Lean Ground Meat (such as hamburger, pork, chicken, turkey, sausage, etc. Make sure it is lean as the fat does not drain out of this dish)
  • 2 -12oz Cans of Cream of anything
  • 1 lb Package of Tater Tots
  • 1 Cup of Shredded Cheese (Be sure to use only one cup as too much can become an insulator and keep the bottom layers from cooking.)
  • Worcestershire Sauce (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° fahrenheit.
  2. Use the cooking spray or butter to coat a 9 by 13-inch pan.
  3. Put the ground meat in the bottom of the pan, spreading it as evenly as you can. Press it down with your hands or the back of a spatula.
  4. Spoon the two cans of cream-of-something on top of the meat. Make sure to spread it out as evenly as possible.
  5. Put the tater tots on top of the soup in a single layer. Spread them out as evenly as possible.
  6. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese.
  7. Do not cover your hotdish with anything. Slip the pan into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the tater tots are browned and crispy.

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Thoughts After Cooking:

In a way this particular hotdish is like the poor man’s Shepherd’s pie. Instead of mashed potatoes, tater tots, and instead of gravy, cream of something. I am not a fan of Shepherd pie at all, I can hardly eat it, but I did enjoy this Hotdish.

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The only thing that I thought was wrong with this dish was that it was rather plain in seasoning. I recommend using the Cream of Chicken and Herb, as the herbs really helped along with adding a bit of Worcestershire sauce.

It was very easy to prepare and I recommend it for those of you who’s hours are crunched (working moms and college students) and need a fast dish to make and make quickly.

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I didn’t include a picture as it doesn’t photograph well, but do not let it’s looks deter you. It does taste great.

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For more Hannah Swenson recipes, go to Christmas Cheese Rounds

For more cassaroles, go to Ratatouille

Apple Turnover Murder

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Apple Turnover Murder (A Hannah Swenson Mystery #13) by Joanne Fluke

I finally get to post this book. This was the first book I read in the Hannah Swenson series, so my views might have changed since then. It was was the first review I ever wrote, and has just been sitting in the wings until I had caught up with the rest of the series.

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Poor little review

So let’s see if the review will stay the way it is, or my having read the previous books & rereading it, will alter it.

Read it today!

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Plot Synopsis:

So Carrie has just been married and Norman is leaving for a dentist conference, his cat, Cuddles, will be staying with Hannah. Hannah settles in for quiet times, but of course whenever we think of all will be well, that is when the shizz hits the fan.

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Mayor Buscombe’s wife, Stephanie, stops by Hannah’s cafe, The Cookie Jar, and asks for cookies for the charity event she is in charge of.

Hannah is shocked that they would ask her for such a large order, that close to the event, and for cookies that take a lot of time to prepare.

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However, Lisa suggests apple turnovers which Stephanie heartily agrees to. However, Hannah has no clue how make one!

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

Lisa assures Hannah that her mother-in-law has an old family recipe they can use and all will be well.

It can't be that easy, can it?

It can’t be that easy, can it?

So Hannah starts to feel good about the charity event. She is especially excited for the brother sister dance team who will perform. The two grew up in foster homes and have a great talent. Sadly, the sister seems to be getting sick.

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But they hope that she will be well by the time the curtain rises.

Everything seems to be working out…that it until Lisa’s husband, Herb, asks Hannah for a favor. Herb has an amateur magic act, of which Hannah has assisted him in before. He asks her if she will be willing to do it again, as Lisa is claustrophobic and can’t do all the tricks. Hannah doesn’t want to, but agrees.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

To make things worse, Hannah has to once again wear the purple nightmare that clashes with her red hair. Otherwise known as her costume.

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At rehearsal, Hannah encounters Professor Bradford Ramsey. Bradford Ramsey was the professor that Hannah was studying under when she attended college. He would write her special “love poems”, and spend hours with her. Only problem is, he forgot to mention he had a wife. Hannah has been lucky so far, as  Professor Bradford Ramsey hasn’t recognized her. That all changes tonight, as he finally put the pieces together and tries to get Hannah to become a Swenson sandwich, as he is also seeing her sister.

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Hannah is enraged at his behavior and tells him to leave her sister alone, and then goes off to get ready to perform. Everything is ready for the actual show, except one thing. No one can find Bradford Ramsey. Hannah spots him backstage asleep and yells for him to get moving. When he still won’t budge, she goes to shake him, knocking him over, and realizing he is dead.

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Yep, once again Hannah has discovered a dead body and is on the case. This won’t be an easy mystery to solve as Bradford had many mistresses and many enemies. The suspect list has many of the townspeople on it; including Hannah’s own sister Michelle!

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Adding to her troubles is that Norman has returned and is acting strangely; almost as if he doesn’t want to see her anymore…

Is it over for these two?

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Thoughts After Reading:

So I originally when I first read this I thought it was a cute mystery, but easily solvable.

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After the death of Bradford, I immediately knew who the killer was. I did not think this ruined the book though, as I found the characters charming and enjoyable.

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Now how do I feel?

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I couldn’t stand it. Hannah was always going on about this or that, her random lectures seem to be getting longer and longer in every book…

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They keep making Andrea stupid about little things, but smart about harder things. It reminds me of what he says in After the Thin Man:

Nick Charles: At 3:30 Anderson threw this note into my window. He was planning to use some of the information he had gotten…Dancer, how do you spell Topeka?

Dancer: None of your business

Nick Charles: This note is a poor attempt at illiteracy. The easy words are spelled wrong and the hard ones right…

That’s how I feel about Andrea. I her attempt to make Hannah smarter and Andrea dumber, she makes easy things “too hard” for her to do or understand; but she can grasp difficult things. I hate it, it’s annoying.

Icannotstandmorons_Laura

And something else that really bothered me, was that the are going to make the apple turnovers, an “old family recipe”, but instead of making their own dough for the pastry they went with pre-made biscuit dough. I found that odd for an “old family recipe”.

cyborgsaywhat

I mean even IF they were just “using” it to save time, why wouldn’t they include an alternate dough recipe?

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It was not very good. I’m not sure why it hooked me the first time.

bahmehscrooge

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Plum Pudding Murder

For more book reviews, go to Paper Roses

Christmas Cheese Rounds

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Thoughts Before Cooking:

So I love cheese.

parmesancheesetoomuch

And I especially love cheese logs. So when I saw this recipe I jumped at the chance to try it out.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Cup of finely chopped pecans
  • 8 0z Cream Cheese Brick
  • 1/2 Cup of Chopped Green Onions

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients. Pack into a round or ball.
  2. Chill for two hours to overnight.
  3. Serve with crackers or bread

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Thoughts After Cooking:

I thought it was amazing!

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I took it to a party and we ate up immediately.

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For more Hannah Sweson Recipes, go to Scandinavian Spuds

For more cheese logs, go to Gorgonzola Cream Cheese Log

For more appetizers, go to Cheesy Pesto Pull Apart Bread

For more recipes, go to Harvest Pumpkin Scones

Scandinavian Spuds

potatoes

And being so thankful, let’s get started with a potato filled recipe! 🙂

Plumpuddingmurder

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I love potatoes, so when I saw this recipe I thought it would be delicious! Let’s check it out.

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Ingredients:

  • 12 Baking Potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons of softened butter
  • 8 tablespoons of melted salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of dried crumbled basil
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 4 tablespoons of bread crumbs
  • 8 tablespoons of salted butter
  • Lemon Juice

Directions:

  1. Choose a bowl large enough to hold all the potatoes and fill with cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt and a squirt of lemon juice in the water.
  2. Peel a potato and rinse it off.
  3. Slice it the  potato in quarters, but only halfway, not completely through. Drop it in the water so it won’t discolor
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  5. Use a baking pan that will hold all your potatoes in a single layer.
  6. Use the 2 tablespoons of butter to grease the baking pan.
  7. Dry the potatoes and lay them in the pan.
  8. Drizzle the melted butter and sprinkle with salt.
  9. Sprinkle with basil and paprika.
  10. Place pan in oven uncovered for 30 mins.
  11. Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  12. Melt the cold stick of butter and drizzle over the breadcrumbs
  13. Slip pan back in the oven for 25 mins.

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Thoughts After Reading:

These were very good but were much tastier when I added cheese. I love cheese.

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Vertical vents made it hard to move the potatoes as they could easily snap. Next time I think I will cut them horizontally instead. But otherwise, delicious!

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For more Hannah Swensen mysteries, go to Mini Lemon Pancake Cookies

For more potato recipes, go to Oven-Crispy Creole Seasoned French Fries

For more recipes, go to Harvest Pumpkin Scones

Plum Pudding Murder

Ready for our next Christmas mystery?

christmascookies

Me too!

startrekletsgetstarted

Okay!

Plumpuddingmurder

Plum Pudding Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #12) by Joanne Fluke

*Contains Spoilers*

So the first thing I notice in this book is in her acknowledgements, she thanks:

Jill Saxton for correcting my Minnesota mistakes

Joanne Fluke is from Minnesota, how could she be getting it wrong?

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So the beginning of this book actually is one of the strongest. We see it from the point of view of Larry Jaeger, and of course we know right away he is a major jerk.

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He has come back to Lake Eden to swindle as many investors as he can. The biggest investor is his fiancé Courtney, but even she doesn’t know what he’s doing or how much money he has squirreled away.

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He has everything closed up and ready to shut down for the night. All he has to do is wait for Hannah Swenson to pick up her check for the cookies and such that he is selling at his Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot. As he waits for Hannah and Norman to come, he hears something. He thinks it is Hannah, but he is dead wrong. Instead someone charges in and kills him “for what he has done.”

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One Day Earlier

In The Cookie Jar, Hannah and Lisa are decorating for Christmas when Hannah spurts out another one of her random factoid, this time that shellac was originally made from female insects. Now this needs to stop.

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I know you are trying to make her sound educated and intelligent, but none of these factoids ever sound like real conversations. They are just out of nowhere with Hannah being some kind of “I am supreme knowledge woman” and everyone just fascinated for the slightest bauble coming out of her mouth. Just no. NO MORE!!! It’s boring and stupid.

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Delores, Hannah’s mother, comes in to talk with her about her best friend, and business partner, Carrie Rhodes (Norman’s mom). Delores and Carrie were supposed to take a class together about running a small business, but all Carrie seems to do is be busy lately.

seriously

She wants Hannah’s help to find out why, along with her coming to class.

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When Hannah gets to the class she runs into the last person she ever wanted to see. The Professor she was having an affair with! The one who turned out to be married, and the reason she left school.

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But that isn’t who they have for their class. They have Dr. Kimberly Whiting, who is pretty boring and Hannah can’t wait to leave. When they finally do get out, Norman turns up as he came to drive Hannah home, and hopes to take her out to dinner.

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They head back to her place as she decides she is far too tired to go out. This works for Norman as it turns out he has an ulterior motive.

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No not that. He too wants Hannah to help him figure out what’s going on with his mom.

What?

Why is she acting so weird? Why is she canceling on him all the time.

HMMM

While the two are eating and cooking, Mike decides to drop by. Now as you can guess I don’t like Mike. I think it is obvious she should get with Norman as Mike has a roving eye, and just expects Hannah to be free when he is.

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Anyways. While they are all eating and having fun, Andrea calls needing help in getting a Christmas tree, and both Norman and Mike decide to come and help.

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When they get there we have another Hannah lecture and random factoid…

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They go to the Crazy Elf’s Tree Lot, which is more than just trees. While Norman and Andrea look for a tree, Mike and Hannah ride a few rides and head over to the snack bar. It seems as if Hannah’s cookies are selling like crazy, and they are running out way too soon.

After Hannah takes more orders, Mike wants to get Hannah alone…

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NO not that. He wanted to talk to her about Carrie.

really?

It seems she’s on everybody’s mind.

seriously

Anyway, Mike has been working extra shifts at the Tri-County Mall and thinks Carrie is a shoplifter.

What?

And what ’til you hear this. The reason why he thinks that is because she is buying a lot of stuff and looked like she didn’t want to talk to him about it.

What?

That’s all your evidence? Come on, you suck as a detective. Did you look into whether those weren’t Christmas gifts? Charity donations? Clothes for the holiday parties? Maybe she has a boyfriend. I mean come on, think about it logically. There are a thousand reasons why someone may be shopping a lot around the holidays that don’t involve stealing.

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Oh my gosh, Mike is so stupid! He’s this dunderheaded in every book.

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So Mike and Hannah go to see Larry and talk about cookies. After the orders are done they get back to Andrea who has bought multiple trees. Norman buys Hannah a Christmas Tree, although she thinks it won’t work with her cat.

They go to set up the tree, calling in Lonnie, a deputy and Michelle’s (Hannah’s other sister) sometimes boyfriend. Hannah finds out from Lonnie that his sister is crocheting cute animals for the Crazy Elf Larry and getting paid $10. Hannah thinks it low as Larry is selling them for $20, but hey Hannah that’s business.

seriously

The next day, Hannah is working in her shop when her mother comes in. Her assistant Luanne, a really hard worker, is missing!

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No one’s seen her, she didn’t come to work, and she’s not answering the phone. They call again, but still nothing.

This is bad.

This is bad.

But such is life, and Hannah continues cooking, getting the order ready for Crazy Larry.

Now here is where I have a major problem. We are nearing the halfway point of the book and were missing something.

Murder

Instead it has been trees, cookies, etc. Now I don’t have a problem with it being Christmas heavy, I love Christmas! But as they have taken so long to reach the murder and mystery, that means that we are going to have a quick wrap up. And it is going to either be A) extremely obvious, or B) solved in a silly and stupid way. Not looking forward to it.

seriously

But back to the book. After Hannah finishes for the day she heads over to Luanne’s to see where she is and what’s going on.

It turns out that Luanne was asleep. She was given a job by Courtney to check the Crazy Elf Books and had stayed up way into the morning trying to balance the books, but to no avail. Luanne thinks it is her fault, but Hannah suspects that Larry isn’t everything he says he is.

urkelgif interesting hmm

They head to the Christmas lot as Hannah needs to deliver the cookies and Luanne return the books.

They drop off the cookies and head out to see Courtney. Luanne tells her about her problems, and that she mentioned the issue to Larry. So not only is Larry cheating the company, Courtney knows, and Larry knows that Courtney knows.

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Back at the shop the girls are cooking up cookies when Dr. Whiting, the Mayor, and Herb (Lisa’s husband stop by). When Hannah sees Herb and Lisa and it makes her think about getting married. Let me just say I am sooo tired of this triangle.

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It is totally obvious who she should be with. I mean read this:

If she [Hannah] had accepted Norman’s proposal, he’d probably look at her like that. Norman was a true blue, and he’s be the sort of husband who would never risk his marriage by having an affair with another woman.

On the other hand, if she’d accepted Mike’s offer of marriage he’d probably…Hannah’s daydream evaporated in a flash of painful reality. If she’s married Mike and he went out of town for the night, she couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t stray. It might be a repeat of his nights with Ronnie Ward and Shawna Lee Quinn. If she were Mrs. Mike Kingston, she’d always wonder what he was up to when she wasn’t with him.

What’s the issue? You like Norman, he’s perfect, and your cats get along. Besides he built your dream house.

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Anyways, they get into a discussion about good business practices, and look over their homework. They notice that the wrong thing was the fact that the business was only dealing in cash. It is a bad business practice as it means the records might not be as accurate and could be hiding something. But that’s not true for every business. Like key shops.

That night Norman and Hannah go out for dinner and spot a couple hiding in a curtained booth. All they can see are the shoes, but the two want to snoop some more and Hannah pretends to accidentally spill her purse. As they pick the items up, Norman realizes who the woman is. IT’S HIS MOM!!!!

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Hannah tells Norman about Mike’s suspicions, and Norman is justifiably angry.

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They drive around the parking lot looking at the cars and trying to guess which guy it is when Hannah has to head out to Crazy Elf to get her check. The whole lot is very quiet…

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And the door to his office unlocked…

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And when Hannah reaches for her check, she spots Larry and realizes

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And that there are bullet holes in the room

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Meaning it is:

Murder

And this happens on page 167. Finally. Geez it was taking forever.

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It turns out that instead of being horrified at Hannah discovering another dead body, her mother Carrie wants Hannah’s help. It turns out her friend Dr. Love, a psychologist and radio show host, is the wife of Larry and the prime suspect.

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Hannah goes down to the bank to deposit Larry’s check and discovers that Larry had multiple accounts.

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So by now I figured that it is Dr. Whiting. She’s new in town, she just pops up randomly, has no real character, and is completely obvious as the killer.

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The police discover that Larry destroyed a lot of people by having them invest in his business only to give out false documentation.

Everything will be fine.

A real Ponzi

The mystery of what going on with Carrie is solved when they discover that it is Earl, a man they like and are okay with.

It was pretty dumb.

It was pretty dumb.

Norman does research on the computer and discovers one of Larry’s dirty deeds was as a large television set seller. The guy, Salvatore Bianco, who was cheated out of everything ended up killing himself. Hannah thinks the person is connected to Bianco, even though he cheated a ton of people and it could be ANYONE. The crime happened in Wisconsin so they are looking for someone from Wisconsin as to be the killer.

Hannah discovers that it is Dr. Whiting, because get this Bianco means White in Italian and her car plates have a W on it.

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Really? That a LOT of circumstantial evidence. I mean even if she is related that doesn’t mean she killed him. And of course instead of acting logical, Dr. Whiting tries to kill her, Hannah saves the day, they have Christmas dinner. Yada, yada, yada.

blahblah

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Thoughts After Reading:

I really do not like these Christmas themed books as it seems like an excuse to just cram as many recipes as they can in and the mysteries are always obvious and cheesy.

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I did not like it.

horrible

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Cream Puff Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Death Comes to Pemberley

For more Hannah Swensen Holiday Mysteries, go to Candy Cane Murder

For more conmen, go to Peach Cobbler Murder

 For more mystery reviews, go to Snagged

Cream Puff Murder

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Cream Puff Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries #11)

So Hannah’s mother, Delores, is planing a huge party to celebrate the release of her newest Regency themed book. She has ordered special gowns for her daughters to wear to the event. The only problem? Hannah’s dress is much, much too small.

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Only one thing left for her to do: Diet.

Diet

While she hates working out, she decides to join her sister, Andrea, in her new exercise regime at the newest gym, Heavenly Bodies. Now why is Andrea working out? Well even though she looks great, with Ronni Ward, three time bikini queen and always after men married or single, Andrea has been feeling insecure.

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And she isn’t the only one Ronni is upsetting. Almost every female in Lake Eden is upset with Ronni’s return and her putting the moves on their men.

Hate her that's so raven

But Hannah has other things to focus on: such as creating the perfect dessert for her mother’s party, and getting in shape to fit the dress.

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As everyone involved has agreed that Hannah’s cream puffs are the perfect choice for the party; Hannah does a few trial runs on flavors. Mike sees them and buys them for Ronni’s party as he thinks they will be just perfect.

Really Mike?

Really Mike? Really? Buy something from one girlfriend for another?

The next day Andrea and Hannah head to the gym, using their member key to get in really early. After they have worked hard, they decide to head to the jacuzzi for a reward.

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Andrea continues her workout a bit longer as Hannah goes first. There she finds a huge mess from Ronni’s party. Food and drink stuff, both of which are not supposed to be in the pool/jacuzzi area.

Come on, guys. You didn't even clean up?

Come on, guys. You didn’t even clean up?

But then as Hannah looks further, she finds a dead body. Ronni.

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She’s been Murdered.

Murder

Almost the entire sheriff’s department is suspended as they either had a relationship with her, like Mike, or was a friend, like Bill. With only two newbies left and having to bring in outside assistance; Hannah decides it is up to her group to solve the crime. She, Norman, Andrea, Michelle, Delores, and even Carrie set out on the case.

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Thoughts After Reading:

This is one of the few Hannah Swensen Mysteries I actually enjoy.

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I know, a real shocker. I liked this because the end wasn’t predictable. Fluke leads down a path that causes you to think is the end is totally obvious. It has to be this person, it just has to. They are the only one who makes sense.

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Fake information is  even given by another character to steer you away from who you think it is, but it makes you think even more that the person you are thinking of is the killer.

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But then at the end when you have the reveal, you are completely amazed as you discover you were looking in the wrong direction the whole time.

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And it isn’t one of those weird, completely out of left field endings either. This one made total sense.

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So that was the good. Now let’s look at the bad.

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Hannah and Mike’s Relationship

Really Mike?

Really Mike?

So there is this love triangle between Mike, Hannah, and Norman. And I really don’t know why it is there. Norman loves Hannah and Mike loves having a good time. Mike is a horrible boyfriend as he doesn’t want to commit himself, but have fun with other ladies as well. Norman on the other hand is perfect. Why can’t Hannah see that already. I mean, argh, it just makes me so upset to have to read about how she can’t decide when the answer is clearly in front of her face.

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So let’s begin out Mike is a loser countdown:

A) Hannah: “[Mike’s] not mine. I’m not even sure he is partially mine, not when Ronni’s living in the apartment across the hall from him.” (pg. 6-7)

If he “isn’t” yours, and so eager to bounce to the new babe in town; why are you even with him? Just dump the chump already. He’ll move on quickly.

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B) Mike: “Sometimes I wish you’d taken me up on my marriage proposal. Then I could eat like this every night.” pg. 66

  1. First of all, Mike only proposed after he heard Norman was going to. Norman built Hannah her dream house. Mike ran out and bought a ring just because he didn’t want Norman to “win”.
  2. Second, Mike hardly ever takes Hannah out; instead making her always cook for him, and usually late even though he knows she gets up early in the morning to bake.
  3. Third, he states the only reason he is sad that Hannah turned him down is because she can’t cook for him every night. Really? Why is there a contest again?

yuck_pirates_of_the_caribbean

C) Norman: “I love you too. And I know telling you what to do is a lost cause. You never listen anyway. I’ll see you in about forty-five minutes with steak and salad and two types of cookies.” pg. 76

When Mike hears that Hannah is going on a diet, he tells her that will be good she needs to lose weight. Norman asks why she needs to change when she is already beautiful. Mike tells Hannah read this book, investigate like that, blah, blah, blah; Norman shares his advice and then lets Hannah choose whatever she wants. When Mike calls to take Hannah “out” she always ends up cooking for him, with Norman he takes her to the restaurant or brings the restaurant to her.

He's perfect.

He’s perfect.

D) At Midnight Mike Calls and Wakes Hannah Up Having Her Meet Him in The Freezing Parking Garage and Having Her Bring Him Coffee.

Mike doesn’t want a girlfriend he wants a maid and assistant. And he knows she wakes up at like four in the morning and works all day. He’s suspended, he can wake up at four talk to her then and then go back to bed. He’s a jerk. Let her get her beauty sleep!

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E) Mike: “I just wanted you to know that there was nothing between Ronni and me. I know it looks bad, but there wasn’t…She needed a friend, a shoulder to cry on. I guess she was using me, but I didn’t mind being helpful…She was always calling me to come over for something and I went because…well…we had a lot in common since we both worked for the Sheriff’s department…I know it is going to come out that I slept at her place a few nights. We’d be watching a movie or something, I’d fall asleep on her couch. She never woke me. She’d go to bed and let me wake up on my own the next morning.” pg. 169-170

Really Mike? Really. So Ronni was your “friend”, the same way Shawna was your “friend”. In fact if Shawna hadn’t also been murdered; he would be messing around with her too.

And all these “she invited me over” crap? In every book 90% of the time Mike invites himself over or shows up on Hannah’s doorstep, like he’d be any different with Ronni.

He’s a jerk so cut him loose!

duh

F) Norman Makes Her a Low-Calorie Breakfast After Spoiling Her with the Incredible House, A Roaring Fire, Soft Bed, Plush Towels, and Two Cats.

Hannah stays the night at the master suite while Norman takes the guest room. It is an incredible and ritzy place. Then to top it off, he makes her an absolutely scrumptious breakfast, carefully measuring everything out so that he doesn’t ruin her diet.

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G) Mike: “Hannah…Where have you been? I’ve been calling you every hour since midnight!

Hannah: He’d called her at midnight. Again. Mike wasn’t concerned that she hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since Ronni was murdered. He’d probably wanted her to meet him in the garage again with a thermos of coffee and cookies so that he could give her more instructions on investigative procedure.” pg. 282

Hannah you said it. That is all he wants.

How rude

H) Mike: “I should have known someone would tell you, but I didn’t think you’s run to Norman on the rebound…It didn’t mean anything, Hannah. It was just…convenient, you know? She was right across the hall from me and…these things happen. You’re an adult. You know that.” pg. 283

ohnoyoudidn't

So first you lie, lie  about your relationship with Ronni? And then you try to excuse that behavior by saying it “just happened” and “that’s what adults do”?

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NO! NO! And NO! Good-bye.

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I) Nancy: “Keep your eyes open Hannah. If you find a man who doesn’t think he is the hero, grab him and give him a hug because he’s the only realist in the room.”

Hannah: “[To Norman] Do you think she modeled the Duke of Oakwood after you?

Norman: “After me?…What are you talking about, Hannah?…The Duke of Oakwood is about as far from my character as you can get.” pg. 333

Norman is fantastic. Pick him. Then the two could be the Tommy and Tuppence of the midwest. Besides that, he really loves her.

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Carrot Cake Murder

For more mystery reviews, go to The Harlot’s Tale

Carrot Cake Murder

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Carrot Cake Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #10) by Joanne Fluke

I did not like this book.

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I thought the story wasn’t that good and very under developed. And that the author went for an easy ending, instead of creating something that made sense and was actually mysterious.

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This was extremely lackluster and boring.

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But review I must.

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Plot Synopsis:

So it is summertime and Lisa and Herb are having a big family reunion, inviting every single relation. It is a huge affair and Hannah, her family, and two boyfriends are also joining the crew.

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One person that Herb’s mom Marge’s long-lost brother Gus who took off years ago never to be found, ends up showing up to the party.

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He  said he was just in the area and happened among some flyers and thought he would join the group. He has a a lot of money and fancy suits.

wow

However, at the reunion a lot of old hurts come up. Gus was a master manipulator, a borrower and not returner, and a blackmailer. He has a lot of people that he has upset over the years.

Not-Good

He asks Hannah for her special carrot cake as he just loves it, and Hannah gives him a whole one.

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The next day no one can find Gus for the group picture, so they of course send Hannah and she finds the dead body.

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So let’s start with what was wrong in this book.

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A) If It Is Such a Big Party With So Many to Feed, Why Are Hannah & Family & Boyfriends Included?

suspicious Hmm

I know that Hannah and such are great friends of Lisa and Herb, but it seems weird to invite so many non-family members to a family event. I mean it is not just a few people but Hannah, her sister Andrea, her husband Bill, their two children, Bill’s mother, Hannah’s mother Dolores, Hannah’s sister Michelle, Michelle’s boyfriend Lonnie, Hannah’s boyfriend Mike, Hannah’s boyfriend Norman, and Norman’s mom.

What?

Do they really need a dozen more people, at a family only event? No. And Hannah is helping to cook means she should come, yeah her but why are there 11 extra with her? It is just another plot by the author to have Hannah a part of everything that goes on in her town.

seriously

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B) Gus Just Happened To See the Reunion On A Flyer

Come on, Mack

Why do they have flyers to a family only event that they sent marked mailers to? You are not expecting the whole town to come, why paper the streets?

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C) Hannah Goes On A Huge Derail On the Size And Weight Of Hockey Pucks

What?

Sometimes I feel as if Fluke is paid by the word or something. She is constantly derail on the weirdest subjects, weird as in THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PLOT! I’m tired of it, please STOP!!!!

Stop this stupid love triangle!

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D) Don’t Eat Hannah’s Food, You Will Die

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I’m pretty sure in every, single book the person dies eating Hannah’s food. All I can think is why hasn’t anyone made the correlation and Hannah have gone out of business already. Eat her signature dish and you might be signing your death warrant.

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E) Hannah Finds Another Dead Body

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In almost every book Hannah finds the dead body. It is boring! Come on Fluke, change it up.

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F) Mike & Hannah Drama Continues

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In every book Hannah complains about Mike not being a great boyfriend because he won’t let her investigate with him. What do you think Hannah, that any cop would love to have an amateur bungling things and getting evidence illegally. Listen up Hannah, why don’t you become a real cop or private investigator, and then Mike will leave you alone.

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G) Rocky Road S’Mores?

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Lisa makes a bar cookie she calls Rocky Road Bar Cookies, after the Rocky Road Ice-Cream.  She puts nuts, marshmallows, chocolate, etc.; the same ingredients in the ice-cream. Hannah tries it and says that it tastes like S’mores

What?

What kinda S’mores are you making Hannah? They don’t have nuts. And they have graham crackers in it instead.

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H) I Have Never Had A S’More Before

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Lisa tells Hannah she has never had a S’more before which makes no sense. Every store that sells food sells the fixing for s’mores. Hershey’s advertises it on TV as soon as we hit May, so does Honey Maid, etc. I cannot believe she has never tried a S’more “because she didn’t learn in girl scouts”. Get real.

seriously

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I) Red Velvet Cookies Cure Alzheimer’s

Come on, Mack

As someone who has multiple family members who suffer from the disease, words cannot describe how deeply hurt and offended I am at you even suggesting that, whether it is in jest or not.

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J) Randomness That DOES NOT ADD TO THE STORY!

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We spend too much time on random acronyms to remember Native American tribes, the Great Lakes, colors of the rainbow. Just stop!

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K) Mexican Hotdish Mexican Not Dish

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Your Mexican Hotdish isn’t even Mexican. Jack cheese? White rice? Fritos corn chips? Offensive to the Max! If anything it is Tex-Mex. Get it right.

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L) Don’t These People Have Jobs?

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Man Hannah and Norman spend so much time NOT working I wonder how they can provide for themselves.  I mean Norman just decides to fly to Atlantic City, doesn’t he need to work? Doesn’t Hannah? I mean it is one thing to work investigating around work, but these guys just totally disregard it.

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M) Exposition, Exposition, Exposition to Make the End Work

In the last 42 pages we get this big exposition rush about one of Lisa’s relations who is bad at the stock market and wasted away the money, mean to his wife, mad that Gus won’t give the money he borrowed from his wife back, blah, blah, blah. Listen Fluke, you do this a lot and it is horrible. I don’t know if you can’t decide on a killer or feel you need a “twist” for the reader but it is really bad, really bad.

Not-Good

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N) If He is So Horrible Why Are You Still Married?

What?

So Peggy is the wife of the murderer and the deliverer of the exposition about how Mac is totally the murderer. You go on about how horrible and threatening he is, why are you still married? Why don;t you leave.

And if you love him as much as you say and act, why are you so willing to give him up to the police. It just didn’t make any sense and felt like Fluke was rushed and just did the ending the night before it was due to print.

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O) Ross is Back

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This bland saltine of a man is back? Seriously? Come on, just stop. Isn’t it enough you have two guys fighting over Hannah, do we have to include another guy who is blander than a heart patient’s diet?

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Thoughts After Reading:

Hated it. Two out of Five stars.

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For more Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Candy Cane Murder

For more reviews, go to Grave Peril

 

Candy Cane Murder

CandyCaneMurder

Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #9.5) by Joanne Fluke

So Candy Cane Murder is actually a collection of three stories: Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery) by Joanne Fluke, The Dangers of Candy Canes (Jaine Austen Mystery) by Laura Levine, and Candy Canes of Christmas Past by Leslie Meir. I already reviewed Candy Canes of Christmas Past last December, as part of my countdown to Christmas. Today I will be looking at Fluke’s work.

It is Christmas time in Lake Eden, and Hannah is not very excited about it.

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You see, Hannah has agreed to be the Christmas elf for the County Children’s Home Christmas party. She will help Wayne Bergstrom, owner of Bergstom Department Store, hand out toys and candy canes to all the kids.

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The only problem? Her suit does not match the color of her hair and reveals more of her size than she would like it to. It appears that she has been snacking too many Christmas goodies.

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But when her niece tells her she looks great, she decides to move forward and get ready to make those kids happy.

Unfortunately, there are a few more curves in the road. Wayne has come down with a sore throat that is incredibly raspy, making him almost unrecognizable. They are afraid that the kids might become frightened, so Hannah makes up the dumbest story imaginable as to why Santa is hoarse. I don’t know what the author was thinking.

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That evening is the big Christmas party, and Hannah has a great time. She tastes some tantalizing tidbits and dances the night away with both her guys.

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Hannah grows tired from her partying, earlier work, and even earlier bakery hours. She decides to call it a night and is joined by both of her sisters. They head out to the car when they come across a candy cane. A candy cane like the ones they handed out earlier to the kids.

Very suspicious

On closer inspection, it turns out that there is a whole path of candy canes. Hannah had given them all to Wayne after they finished with the kids earlier. Hannah decides to follow the path and climb the snow bank to see what caused Wayne, a skinflint, to drop so many and not go back to pick them up?

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At the end of the candy cane path is Wayne, still in his Santa suit and dead.

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Soon they discover it is murder and set out to find the killer. Could it be his ex-wife, angry at him for divorcing her and giving her no alimony? Or maybe his current wife is tired of being married but doesn’t want a huge legal ordeal? One of his mangers or staff that he was always cruel to? Or one of the countless others who dislike him?

WhoDoneIt?

Thoughts After Reading:

*Spoiler Alert*

I never would have read this if I had known it was an “in-between” novel. Let’s just say her in-between novels tend to, for lack of a better word, suck.

IDon'tlikeit

I thought the plot was terrible, the potential suspects two-dimensional, and I had it all figured out immediately.

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I mean it was obvious that Melinda and Cory weren’t brother and sister, even more obvious than Bo Derek and Rob Lowe being lovers rather than mother and son in Tommy Boy.

And once again the love triangle continues to be in play even though it is more obvious than ever that Hannah and Norman are perfect for each other.

Stop this stupid love triangle!

Stop this stupid love triangle!

I also didn’t care for the recipes in this book. None were really interesting, except for the Regency Seed Cakes, of which I will be making in the future.

I really just felt that this book was a way for the author to capitalize on the holidays rather than develop the storyline. You may think me a Scrooge, but I really feel like she was just trying to get those Christmas dollars with this one.

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For more on Hannah Swenson mysteries, go to Key Lime Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more in-between novels, go to Candy for Christmas

For more reviews, go to Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night

Breakfast Omelet

Key lime pie murder

Thoughts prior to cooking:

This recipe is from Key Lime Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #9)When I first read this recipe it sounded really tasty, except for one thing: the cream of mushroom topping. Now not being from the Midwest, I can’t stand my meals being too hearty. So I made a few adjustments…

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Ingredients:

  • Non-stick cooking spray or butter
  • 1.5 lbs of skinless sausage links
  • 8 Slices of bread (Any kind)
  • 2 Cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 Cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 Cup of finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of salt
  • 1.5 Cups of milk
  • 1/2 Cup of half-and-half, or cream
  • 1 Tablespoon of mustard
  • Sliced mushrooms

Directions:

  1. Spray the inside of a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick cooking spray or rub with butter.
  2. Cut the crusts from the bread and throw away. Take the rest of the bread and cut it into one inch cubes. Toss them into the 9×13 pan.
  3. Cut the sausage links into fourths and sauté them until they are lightly browned.
  4. Drain the fat from your sausage. Put the sausage on top of the bread cubes.
  5. Sprinkle the grated cheese on the sausage, then the chopped onion, and finally the green bell peppers.
  6. Whisk the eggs with the salt, milk, half-and-half, and mustard. Pour the mixture over the top of the casserole. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. Next Morning: This takes about an hour to a hour and a half to cook.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  9. Take the casserole out of the fridge and remove the plastic wrap.
  10. Lay the sliced mushrooms over the top and place it in the oven.
  11. When egg is cooked, remove from the oven and enjoy!

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Thoughts after cooking:

It didn’t photograph well, but trust me this thing is absolutely delicious.

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It had everything you could want in a breakfast food.

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It smelled and tasted good that we practically devoured the whole thing. I know I will make it again.

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For more Hannah Swensen recipes, go to Chocolate Covered Cherry Delights

For more breakfast recipes, go to Brioche French Toast

For more recipes, go to Lemon Bars

Key Lime Pie Murder

Key lime pie murder

Key Lime Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #9)

It’s summertime in Lake Eden, and that means that it is time for the Tri-County Fair!

Double double yay

As always there are loads of events, games, rides, and food booths. Hannah was planning on only suppling cookies to a booth, The Cookie Nook, but when a friend becomes sick, Hannah steps in to take her place.

gotthis

Yep, this year Hannah will be judging the bake-off; sampling all kinds of bread, cookies, pies, and more. She’s not in this alone, as the other two judges are home economics teacher, Pam, and instructional aide, Willa.

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In fact the whole Swensen family is taking part in the fair this year: Hannah’s mother Delores is running a dunk tank for the Lake Eden Historical Society;  Andrea, entering the mother-daughter beauty pageant with her daughter Tracey; and Hannah’s youngest sister Michelle is trying for the Tri-County Queen.

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What starts out as good eats, fun times, rodeo ramblings, and a quest to eat a deep-fried chocolate bar turns sour when Willa is murdered.

Murder

Now Hannah is on the case, trying to discover who is behind this killing.

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Did it have something to do with the robbery of the Rodeo entry fees? Was it someone who was upset with Willa disqualifying them from the Tri-County Queen contest? Could it have been someone who was upset that Willa gave them poor reviews on their baked good, causing them to win nothing and destroy their reputation as best cook? Was it a student flunked by Willa? Or was it someone unknown?

Sad but true.

Hannah soon realizes that she knows very little about who Willa is and her past. Why did she travel all over the United States, working in Washington, California, and Florida? Why did she break up with her fiancé two months ago? Why did she have her hair done and purchase a new outfit, when she had very little money?

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As Hannah starts looking into this crime, she discovers that she needs to watch her step, or else she might meet the same fate as Willa did.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

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Thoughts After Reading:

Now I thought the title, Key Lime Pie Murder, was a stretch. There is hardly any Key Lime pie in the book, just the one case when they sample it for the fair.

seriously

And to add to it, Hannah never even made a Key Lime pie, nor does she add it to her shop’s menu, like in Lemon Meringue Murderwhich would tie the book together. Instead, I felt that since the book failed to revolve around any dessert, a rarity, they just picked one they thought sounded good (which didn’t).

I don't think so.

I don’t think so.

The story itself was good, and the mystery interesting as we have to figure out why someone would have killed Willa. I think that it was easily solved, but in a good way, rather than feeling lazy or stupid.

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The only qualm I have with Hannah in this book is that she really seems to use Norman a lot, and he takes it like a doormat.

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I think that out of all the books, this one shows how right her boyfriend Norman is for her, than her other boyfriend Mike. Mike is too controlling, in the sense that he is a cop and cannot allow vigilanteism, not to mention the ego-burst of having your girlfriend be better at solving these crimes. The opposite of this is Norman, who doesn’t care about her investigating as he enjoys jumping in with her. He also is amazingly sweet in how he takes care of her cat, treating it as if it was Hannah’s sick baby. In fact, in this book more than any other, I could see Norman and Hannah happily married, a Tommy and Tuppence of the midwest.

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Cherry Cheesecake Murder

For more book reviews, go to A Change of Fortune