April 18, 2014

Puffed Quinoa Peanut Butter Treats

I made two batches of these Puffed Quinoa Balls, one that used butter and confectioners sugar, but they tasted way too sweet . This version came out a lot better and it's also healthier, but I  will post the other one later on down the line.

 For Easter this year I wanted a fun treat for the kids, and have been experimenting with a couple different recipes this one came out the best. Taste like a chocolate peanut butter cup actaully. You can use a different nut butter, almond, hazelnut whichever you have on hand, even use crunchy peanut butter.
 The sweet taste comes from honey and with just heating the butter, this is put together in under 30 minutes. The puffed quinoa is like a softened version of rice crispy treats, I love them!



Ingredients
2 cup puffed quinoa
*It's really popped quinoa. To make it - heat a skillet until it's hot. Drop some quinoa in the pan if it's hot enough you will hear popping noises, wait until you hear the popping noises with your test batch before adding more. Once test batch starts popping add more of the quinoa and heat till it's popping a lot. It will be slightly golden brown and slightly "puffed" or roasted. It only takes minutes so don't burn, keep the skillet moving while it pops.  I found a bag of puffed quinoa at the store and used them for this but have popped quinoa before. You can burn it easily so be careful.  * I found this post helpful on popping the quinoa

1 cup peanut butter or any other nut butter you have.
8  tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melting chocolate , I used 3 blocks of candy coating chocolate to heat up and had a little left over still.

* If you don't have quinoa or you don't want to pop it you can use rice crispy cereal, I'm sure it will come out great . *

Directions
In a small skillet combine the peanut butter , honey an vanilla up till just melted. Pour in the puffed Quinoa. Mix until it's all covered well. Place in the fridge for about 10 minutes or the freezer for 5 till firm . You just want it cold so dipping will be easier. Next heat the candy coating up in a small pan, while it is melting take the mixture out, use a cookie scoop or a spoon to scoop out mixture.

 Form each into a small ball set back in freezer or fridge until you have all the balls done. Now for dipping into chocolate. You can cover them completely ( you'll need more chocolate) or cover half. Sprinkle with sprinkles if using and set on wire rack covered in wax paper to cool. Repeat with other balls until finished.

They came out great! I love how fast you can make them, it's a quick little treat the kids and adults will enjoy this Easter.
Quick how many times did I say Quinoa in this post! ha
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April 16, 2014

Creamy Shrimp Alfredo Pasta


I love making Shrimp Alfredo, it is so simple and quick. There's really not much to it either, so a little prep and dinner is on the table in under 30 minutes. You can use angel hair pasta or fettuccine, I'm not a fan of thick pasta so I stick to the thin stuff, but you can use which ever you prefer. 




Ingredients
1/3 cup Butter
2 Medium Onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves Garlic, finely minced
2 tsp Flour
1/2tsp Salt
1/2 cup Half & Half
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Lemon Zest
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Parsley

8 oz Angel hair pasta , uncooked ( or fettuccine)

Directions
 Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain it and set aside keeping warm. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high and saute onion and garlic for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
 Reduce the heat and stir in the flour, salt and pepper until flour just begins to color a little ( don't let this burn) . Gradually stir in half and half, reducing heat and simmer until thickened. It shouldn't only be about 5 minutes. Add in the lemon juice,  zest and shrimp. Cook for about 3-5 minutes more or until the shrimp turns pink. Transfer this in with the cooked pasta, tossing with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with extra parley, pepper to taste.

Simple and quick, my kids always love this dish, I  never have left overs.  Enjoy!
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April 14, 2014

Lunch Box Recipes

I keep getting emails about the Lunch Box Challenge, while it did end I will start it back up again. It's been crazy busy here but I do plan on getting back into it. In the mean time you can find all the Lunch Box Challenge Recipes right on my Pinterest, just click the picture below.



If you aren't following via Pinterest you may want too, as soon as the summer garden vegetables come in there will be tons and I mean tons of fresh vegetable recipes to check out! You can check out my Boards here 

Happy Pinning! 

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April 11, 2014

Slow Cooker Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

I love meatballs, possibly too much really. Meatball subs are my favorite, though I can just eat the meatball whenever. With pasta, without, on a roll, without a roll. Right out of the pan.....


 They are so good I can't help it.


Ingredients
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs ( I made these with GF crumbs)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 garlic gloves minced
2 eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
1 lb  lean ground beef
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
8 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
* pinch of sugar. I don't always add this, but when I taste the sauce and something is off, usually the sugar makes it perfect!



Directions

In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, a tablespoon of the Italian seasoning, minced garlic, eggs ,  milk then stir until well combined.
Next add the ground beef mix together with a spoon or your hands until thoroughly combined. Separate the meat mixture into 16 even pieces and roll each into a ball.
In a medium skillet you want to brown the meatballs on all sides, just so they keep their form, so only for a minute on each side. Transfer to your slow cooker. In the same skillet heat oil over medium heat.
Add the diced onion and cook until the onions are golden brown. Add the other 2 garlic cloves which you minced and cook for another two minutes.
 Transfer this mixture into a large bowl. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir. Pour this sauce over the meatballs in the slow cooker. Cook for about 8 hours on low.
Serve with cooked pasta or can be used for making a meatball sub.



Enjoy!
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State of Grace , Resurrection #1 - Guest Post Review

Review By Jennifer



Sate of Grace  is the first book in the Resurrection series. This book is an interesting spin on the supernatural. I thought the main character, Grace who is only 27 years old was going to be coming home to take care of things before the end, but boy did I get a surprise. This was like the Time Traveler's Wife meets the Vampire. Grace has a brain tumor and was only given a few months to live. She experiences extreme headaches and is suddenly transported back in time nearly 1800 years into the past Grace experiences the differences first hand of what living in the past means.


How well do you know your history? Would you be able to clean and cook in the early 1800s? I know that I would definitely struggle with knowing my place and being able to take commands and like it. Don't even go there with attire. Do you know how long it takes to lace up a corset and put on all those petticoats? No, thank you! What would you do if you were to time travel and end up in another year butt naked and not knowing what year it was? How would you acquire clothing? How would you know what year it it? This book was great to discuss and play what it? with! I even spoke to my kids about time travel, as we had all just watched Peabody and Sherman in the theaters, so they understood time travel.
It was very well written and I cannot wait to read the sequel!

This book is an ebook
Published October 2012 by Smashwords
ISBN# 139781301176021
Written by Elizabeth Davies

You can check out the Resurrection Series here on Goodreads

Check out Jennifer's Review here on Goodreads
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April 10, 2014

No Bake Cherry Coconut Granola Bars

I keep messing around with ideas for granola bars. I see one I like, alter it, or just toss things into a bowl till it works. My kids eat a lot of granola bars and sometimes they just want a different taste so it's been fun creating different ones. This recipe I used 2 ways, just by changing the fruit, nuts and the butter used .

I made a Cranberry with Hazelnut Butter, and the other is Apricots ( chopped in the food processor)  and with Walnuts. They came out great, they do need to be kept chilled, as when they sit at room temperature for too long they get more sticky, but that's the only down fall. My kids grab these when ever they are hungry and enjoy them.

Ingredients

1 cup hazel nut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter,peanut butter or any other favorite butter you have.
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup dried fruit of choice
1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice * optional

Directions
In a medium sized steel skillet  on medium head, melt your butter, honey and oil till smooth . Keep stirring until smooth them remove from heat. Stir in the other ingredients till everything is covered well with the wet mixture.  Pour this into a 9x13 baking pan and spread evenly. Firmly press it till all is spread well. Refrigerate for about 2 hours before slicing.  Keep store in fridge. I sliced mine up and bagged them up for "on the go" purposes. Use Wax paper if storing outside the pan so they don't stick to each other.

Enjoy!


There's only 1 day left to vote!! 
I was nominated for Top Foodie Blog through Voice Boks and would love a moment of your time for a vote. 
If you have a chance click on the badge above and find my Blogs name halfway down the list "It's My Side of Life" Click on the heart, that's all it takes! 

Thanks! 

 There are awesome blogs on the list I'm excited to be a part of the contest and find new food blogs. Thanks for your vote!
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April 9, 2014

Curse The Moon - Cold War Rising by Lee Jackson - Book Tour



Lee Jackson Brings Heat To The Cold War.



His code-name is Atcho. He leads guerrilla fighters through the US-supported insurgency that rages at the Bay of Pigs in the early days of Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Captured and cast into the island’s worst dungeons, Atcho learns that a phantom-like officer of the Soviet KGB shadows him. Inexplicably released from incarceration and still dedicated to his country, he battles through the bowels of the Kremlin in Moscow, into the granite halls at West Point, and finally to highest levels in Washington, DC. Atcho’s rise opens doors into US National Defense even as the seemingly omniscient KGB officer holds unflinching sway over his actions. His public life clashes with secrets that only he and his tormentor share, isolating him in a world of intrigue among people whom he is determined not to betray – and then he finds that he is the trigger that could spark thermonuclear war.







My Review-

Ready for some fast passed adventure and an exciting thriller?   Curse The Moon by Lee Jackson is it ! From the first page you are thrown into troubling times right smack dab in the middle of the Cold War in Cuba.

 Atcho is his code name, driven by his love for his country and even more for his family we meet a man that takes us right into the thick of things.  While  leading guerrilla fighters Atcho is captured and cast into the darkened dungeons where he fears the worst is to come, and he's right. The worst has yet to come for him. As the book goes on you are taken back by the struggles and hardships endured by the Cubans and those around them , really getting a feel of what was going on during those times.

Throughout the book Atcho's spirit is never once broken though. It was really inspiring to read actaully, you've got this man fighting for his life , fighting for his family, struggling through so much and yet the fight is still inside of him.  The power behind this man shines through and the characters come to life on the pages. It really grabbed me from the start. You question whether he'll make it through to the end, if he can keep going and pull through or no which kept me on the edge of my seat anticipating what may happen next.  Curse The Moon is a thrilling story filled with a lot more than adventure and action,  it's filled with a surge of emotion and an intense amount of hope and that I really couldn't walk away from .

This was done so well, I really couldn't put the book down and look forward to reading more from Lee Jackson. If you enjoy a great plot with an incredibly well drawn adventure this book is for you. You won't be disappointed.


Buy the Book from........


About the Author
Image of Lee JacksonLee Jackson was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and grew up in Tangier, Morocco. When he was 12 years old, his family returned to the US, and when he was 20, he enlisted in the Army. A year later, the Vietnam war ended. Lee then attended and graduated from West Point, and served on active duty until June, 1982. In 2008, he went back to work for the Department of the Army, and deployed for 19 months each in Iraq and Afghanistan. There, his job was to go into towns and villages and learn anything he could about concerns relating to security, and recommend courses of action to meet military objectives without resorting to lethal methods. He returned to the US in 2013, lives in Texas with his wife, and is a full time writer of Historical Thriller Fiction, particularly surrounding the Cold War. 'Curse The Moon' is his first novel which was published in December 2013.



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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.




NOW FOR THE AUTHOR'S GIVEAWAY


5 LUCKY WINNERS will each receive a
SIGNED BOOK to US Winners or
PRINTED BOOK to CA / UK winners
Ending on Thursday 10th April at 11.59pm EST 

Enter Below and Good Luck !!




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April 4, 2014

Pork Chops with Mango Peach Salsa


Kind of funny how this dinner came about.  A friend gave me this recipe for Mango Peach Salsa, she makes cinnamon chips with it and that was going to be the whole recipe. A really fun snack, well I made the salsa, but forgot to make the chips. Smart right? Yeah it was a busy week, but it was a nice turn out in the end even without the chips.
  With pork chops on hand I tossed some of this salsa in on top of the chops and baked away. Turned out awesome! The kids loved it, I loved it. Had no left overs, and they all said it was the best pork they ever had! That's one mighty big win in my book!





Ingredients for Salsa

2 mangos, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 small peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste
3/4 cup water

Directions

Mix it all together. Bam, hard right? Don't hurt yourself now. This makes about 8 cups, sometimes I get less due to the size of the peaches or mangos.

Directions for Pork Chops.

6 pork chops, boneless or with bone up to you. Place a little of the salsa in a 8x13 baking pan. Place chops ontop then add some salsa to each pork chop. Cover with foil and cook for 35-40 minutes on 350F or until the chops are done.
 Serve with the remaining salsa and enjoy!

There's only 7 days left to Vote! 
I was nominated for Top Foodie Blog through Voice Boks and would love a moment of your time for a vote. 
If you have a chance click on the badge above and find my Blogs name halfway down the list "It's My Side of Life" Click on the heart, that's all it takes! 

Thanks! 

 There are awesome blogs on the list I'm excited to be a part of the contest and find new food blogs. Thanks for your vote!

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April 1, 2014

Flames of Love Book Tour






NEWLY RELEASED........


Book #3 The Remingtons, Love in Bloom Series #12


As one of New York’s Finest, firefighter Cash Ryder is always prepared. When a woman’s car skids off the side of a mountain during a snowstorm, he’s there to rescue her. Cash is totally focused on the woman’swell-being, but within minutes of getting her to safety, he realizes that he’s nowhere near prepared for the heat that rolls off of sensual, smart-mouthed, and stubborn Siena Remington.

As a model, Siena Remington has dated some of the wealthiest, most handsome men in the industry, and she’s made peace with the idea that most men are just looking for eye candy and they wouldn’t know how to romance a woman to save their lives. When she’s rescued by a tall, handsome stranger, she thinks that maybe, just maybe, she’s found her own real-life romantic fairy tale—until he opens his mouth and everything that comes out is gruff, ornery, and aggravatingly sexy.

Thrown together during an annual firehouse calendar photo shoot, the passion between Cash and Siena sizzles, and neither one knows how to control the flames. After an evening of verbal sparring followed by a sinfully sensual night, their darkest secrets are revealed—and so is Cash’s warm, romantic heart. But Siena’s secret might be too much for big, strong, always-prepared Cash to handle—and Siena is forced to choose between a man who’s everything she’s ever dreamed of and an opportunity of a lifetime.

THE REMINGTONS are the newest addition to the LOVE IN BLOOM series
**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

My Review

I really have to hand it to Melissa Foster, she is writing book after book, yet keeping one thing I care about the most true - keeping the characters believable.  It makes or breaks a book, I'll tell you that,  and being able to relate and understand the people within the pages makes it even better. I've always enjoyed her books and she keeps throwing out more tales that steal our hearts away.

In Flames of Love we meet Cash Ryder and Siena Remington. Siena is a model who has dated a number of men, cream of the top, high price, good looking you name it they had it- all but one thing. Real romance. Siena swears there's just no chance of it in her life until that is she's rescued by non other than Cash Ryder - New York's finest firefighter himself. Course the moment they start talking things flame up in nothing but cross fires. You need a fire extinguisher with these two, whether their  words or hands needing to cool off there's just no stopping the heat that flares up page after page.

Thrown together for an annual firehouse calender shoot the sparks are still flying up in every which way between Cash and Siena which neither one can deny or ignore. Only problem is after spending a night together their darkest secrets come to light. Choices need to be made, and you're left wondering what will happen . Can they handle the truth? Can they move on from what can tear them apart?

You'll have to read to find out!



Buy the Book from.....
Amazon.co.uk    Amazon.com     Barnes and Noble    KOBO



About the Author


Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of a number of International
bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women's Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Cafe. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success.


Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she's written for Calgary's Child
Magazine and Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa's interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.




Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on The Women's Nest
or her personal website.


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ALSO AVAILABLE 
Books 1 - 3 Snow Sisters, Love in Bloom Series #1 - 3

Books 1 - 6 The Bradens, Love in Bloom Series #4 - 9


MORE COMING SOON.....






NOW FOR THE AUTHOR'S GIVEAWAY !!

Three lucky winners will each receive ebooks for
Lovers at Heart & Destined for Love (Book 1 & 2 of The Bradens) 
Ending on Thursday 24th April at 11.59pm EST
Open Worldwide

Enter Below & Good Luck !!



http://beckvalleybooks.blogspot.com/2014/03/giveaway-for-flames-of-love-book-tour.html
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March 28, 2014

Mint Lemonade

Crazy weather everywhere these days. Cold, rainy, then nice and warm, I hear people are still getting snow in some places and yesterday there was a Tornado here in Northern CA. Make up your mind mother nature!
While it is a bit nuts weather wise I've been working hard in the garden when ever the weather has been letting me. Spring is here ( sort of ) Summer will be here soon, so time to bust out the garden tools and get to work.
  I was taking care of the mint when I wanted the drink, fresh lemonade actaully. Nothing better than enjoying some fresh lemonade while gardening . Easy to make you can enjoy some too this weekend!


Simple Syrup Recipe
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

 Drink Ingredients

2 Cups water
Ice cubes
1 2/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons julienne mint, plus leaves for garnish
1 lemon, sliced 1/4-inch thick, plus more for garnish

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and  water. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Let stand until completely cool. Next, in a large pitcher half-filled with ice, add the water, lemon juice, simple syrup, mint, and lemon slices. Stir to combine. Serve over ice. Garnish with mint leaves and lemon slices , Enjoy!



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