February 8, 2015

Recipe Challenge Day 8: Bolognese Sauce

Friend gave me this recipe, she always raves about the sauce she makes and I had to try it, looked like a mighty big ingredients list as well as an even longer direction list but it came together fast. It worked out really well, loved the sauce and will be making it again. 


2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
1 1/4 pounds ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, sliced
1 yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup (3 oz) tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup milk
2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, passed through a food mill*
2 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen string
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese rind
1 pound fresh pasta, such as fettuccine, tagliatelle, or pappardelle, cooked until al dente and drained
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving

In a large, heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the ground beef, ground pork,  salt and pepper to taste and cook until browned. Transfer the meat to a paper towel-lined plate. Add the pancetta/bacon and cook until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate to drain. Turn the heat down to medium and add in the remaining oil.
Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until soft and tender. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook till heated, just a few minutes, then add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated,  Add the milk, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, and cheese rind the stir until combined and heated through.  Add in the meats and season with salt and pepper bringing to a simmer. Cover partially, you want the sauce to thicken it will take about 2 hours. When sauce is thick, discard your bay leaves thyme and the cheese rind. Season with salt and pepper and serve

I promise it's worth the work!
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February 7, 2015

Recipe Challenge Day 7: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Like Banana bread? Then you will like these muffins. I don't even like banana bread but loved these muffins, so you need to try them either way. 
They were really good, moist and not sweet they were a great afternoon snack, kids adored them.  Made 16 muffins, so plenty to go around.

3 ripe medium bananas
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter softened
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray with a muffin tin with cooking spray.
Mash bananas in a bowl, add in the other ingredients one by one as it mixes together. Will create a nice gooey batter. Prepare your muffin cups or tins, spray down the sides of a metal tin, then pour batter evenly into pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until toothpick in the center comes out clean .

So moist!  Enjoy 

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February 6, 2015

Recipe Challenge Day 6: Stuffed Clams

Love seafood, and love stuffed clams! I've wanted to make these for some time though, but never really had a go to recipe. This came from a friend, and it does seem like a load of directions and ingredients but I swear its'completely worth it.


10 large cleaned clams
1 minced garlic clove
1 tablespoon clam juice (or cooking liquid from steaming the clams)
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried parsley
3 tablespoons minced onion
1 stick butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon wedges, fresh dill weed for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350F
Pour a couple of inches of water to a big pot and bring it to a boil.
Add the clams and cover the pot, ( enough water to cover clams)  Bring to boil them bring down to a simmer. Let it steam for about 10 minutes or until shells open. Discard any that haven't opened after this point. Remove the clam meat from shells once they have cooled to handle. Mince up the clams. You can use the clam shells or use other shells on hand. Rinse and clean them set aside. This recipe will fill 10 large half shells .

Melt the butter in a skillet over a medium heat, then sautĂ© the onions for a couple of minutes or until tender, then add in the garlic till heated. Add in breadcrumbs, lemon juice, clam juice and clams. Stir until it's completely moistened.  Set your shells into a baking dish and scoop out your mixture into each shell. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Cook about 20 minutes or until slightly golden brown
Serve with lemon juice if wanted.

So very good! 

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February 5, 2015

Recipe Challenge Day 5: Quinoa Cookies

This cookie is a cross between a chocolate chips and oatmeal cookie and oh so yummy. I was stunned by how much it made , cause my friend just handed me the ingredients, said "Mix, scoop bake" Turns out it make just over 3 dozen cookies , and the reason why it needs to make so much is simply- they taste so darn good! These are a great snack or breakfast cookie, made with whole wheat flour, some seasoning, applesauce, oats and quinoa you really can't go wrong. I will try to pop them into the freezer after baking pull them out when needed. My kids loved them!


2 cups Gold Medal whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet  .
 In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and baking soda. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Add the applesauce and mix until combined. Stir in the raisins and oats then slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet till combined. Add in the chocolate chips and mix.
Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop ( small) scoop dough onto the baking sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until the top is no longer wet. Transfer to wire rack and let cool


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February 4, 2015

Recipe Challenge Day 4: Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Focaccia bread! I love this kind of bread, it just usually takes awhile to make so who has the time for that? Busy days like today when you suddenly find yourself with so little time on your hands so I've been working on a speedy Focaccia bread recipe and it came out great. The challenge was making it in under an hour and it worked out perfectly.  This recipe uses a cast iron skillet, if you haven't guessed yet I adore my cast iron , they are used alot!

So good!

3/4 c warm water ( keep the water temp betwee 115F and 130F)
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast rapid rise ( you'll use one full packet plus 1/4 tsp from another.)
2 Tbsp olive or olive oil
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt

Olive oil
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic minced ( one big clove minced)

Preheat oven to 350

Place the water and sugar in the standing mixer bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir then let it sit Let sit until foamy which will be about 5-10 minutes. Add in your oil and mix slowly. Add in the flour a little at a time as you are mixing. Mix until the dough starts to pull away from the bowl. When it's finished take your iron skillet and grease it with butter ( get the sides) . Pull out the oven rack set the skillet to it and let sit till the skillet is warm. While it's warming, place dough on a flour surface and knead a little, doesn't need much at all, then rolled out to the size of 10 inches. Take the dough and place into the warmed skillet and set aside for about 20 minutes with a towel over it. Or until it's doubled in size.

 Once it's doubled in size, take the end of a wooden spoon and poke gently into the dough all around, you don't need to push all the way down, just a gentle push around the dough. Sprinkle with olive oil, then sprinkle with rosemary, and the garlic and finally the Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown.


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February 3, 2015

Recipe Challenge Day 3: I'm in serious trouble , Flour-less Chocolate Muffins

Oh my gosh, so good. Just oh my , I don't even want to share this recipe because I want this delicious secret all to myself. I ate four of them, between mumbling "So good, so good" and my kids just eyed me like I was a crazy person. Then I ate another and finally let them have one themselves. Each and everyone of them went into silence.


I have to make this everyday just for silence alone- then the taste. Can't forget the taste. I'm not sure which wins out, silence or taste at this moment but the point being you have to make these and NOW!
You can't go wrong with four ingredients and the so , so so so yummy taste. It's moist, it's not too peanut buttery, you don't get a banana taste it's just too good to be true. 

Come on look at this thing!

I need another. Maybe four. Have I mentioned that these are healthy for you?! 

Let's get to the recipe, before I eat more


1 cup creamy peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
2 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup cocoa powder
optional Mini chocolate chips


Pre-heat oven to 350F
Using a food processor combine all ingredients and process until combined. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides a few times. Chop the bananas so it breaks down easier.
you can use muffins molds or spray a muffin tin before spooning batter evenly through 12 muffins cups. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Dare you to eat just one. Seriously, dare you!

I need another

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February 2, 2015

Recipe Challenge Day 2: Iron Skillet French Apple Pie

I love apple pie, just don't always have the time to make it, so when I stumbled along this recipe in an old recipe box it had to be made! After it was baked though it came to mind that this really sin't pie, it's more like cake, which just makes it even more appealing if you ask me.
  French Apple Pie, HELLO?! Who can say no to cake right? Pretty much no one. When you bite into it's there's just that hint of almost a light very moist coffee cake batter. It's so good!

3/4 cup
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
4 very large apples, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp rum
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 Tablespoon butter for skillet

 Heat oven to 350. Melt the 1 tablespoon butter into your iron skillet, make sure you move it around to coat all sides then set a side.

Stir together your flour m baking powder, and salt. In another bowl whisk together the eggs until foamy, then slowly add sugar. Add in the vanilla and rum till well mixed. Slowly add this mixture into the dry while stirring, should make a nice batter. Fold in your apple chunks and  then pour batter into your 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet.

Bake for about an hour, you want to be able to insert a knife in the center and have it come out clean. Let cool and serve with french ice cream or even cool whip!

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Dreaming of Love Book Tour


Book #11 The Bradens, Love in Bloom Series #19

Emily Braden is a leader in architectural preservation, a pillar in her small hometown, and successful in everything she does—with the exception of finding true love. She’s watched several of her brothers fall in love, and she needs this trip to Tuscany to get away from it all and to stop focusing on what she doesn’t have.

Dae Bray doesn’t do flings, and he never stays in one place for very long. As a demolitionist, he goes where jobs take him, and the more often he travels, the better. His trip to Tuscany is all work—until he meets smart and sexy Emily, who makes him reconsider his fear of settling down, his no-fling rule—and just about everything else he’s ever believed about himself.

Passion sizzles as Dae and Emily explore the history and beauty of Tuscany. Their romance moves beyond tourist attractions to the bedroom, blossoming into a deep connection neither can deny. But their worlds collide when Emily wants to preserve the property that Dae is there to demolish. Can a woman who sees the beauty in preservation and a man whose life is spent tearing things down find a solid foundation for their love?

THE BRADEN COUSINS are one of the newest additions to the LOVE IN BLOOM series.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Foster deliveries those oh so hot Braden men, one story at a time , gets us all hooked, waiting for the next one, then bam! Here comes the Braden sister- and it's not a disappointment! 

 Emily Braden , has finally made her way to Tuscany, a place where she has longed and loved for some time. Now with a chance to visit and explore she is throwing herself into the architect and history of the city which just happens to be filled with plenty of love. Which is just what she had hoped to get away from. Emily has watched several of her brothers fall in love around her, and wanting it herself this trip was a way for her to stop focusing on just that- not having that special someone. Things were looking up, that is until she met the one man that sends her heart racing.

 Dae Bray ,demolition expert finds himself with instant chemistry when he meets Emily, and he knows real fast that it's not going to be a simply fling for either of them. It goes against everything in his rule book, he's a man that enjoys his travels, goes where the work takes him, he isn't one to stay still. The heat between the two though has Dae actaully second guessing his whole outlook  and starting to go back on his own rules. He enjoys her company and she makes him look forwards to a happy ever after which he's never given thought about, the problem? She conserves architect, and he demolishes it.

  With jobs to do, Emily and Dae are torn between where their passions are, neither want to walk away from each other yet neither are willing to back away from their jobs they love so much. Can they come to some sort of understanding and agreement before their entire relationship crumbles before their eyes? You will have to read and find out!

Foster once again deliveries a fun and charming story for her readers, if you need a sweet pick me up, this is the book for you! Don't forget to check out all Foster other titles, which as always are stand alone but you'd be missing out on some great reads!

Available to buy from...

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. 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 World Literary CafĂ© and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine.

Melissa hosts an Aspiring Authors contest for children and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa lives in Maryland with her family.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa at The World Literary Cafe
or her personal website.
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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

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

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

Books 1 - 5 The Remingtons, Love in Bloom Series #10 - 14 

Books 7 - 12 The Bradens, Love in Bloom Series #15 - 20

Books 1 - 4 Seaside Summers, Love in Bloom Series #21 - 24

flames of love
Five lucky winners will each receive the Flames of Love ebook

Ending on Sunday 1st March at 11.59pm EST
Open Worldwide

Enter Below & Good Luck !!

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February 1, 2015

Recipe Challenge Day 1: Game Day Mini Taco Bowls

If you've followed me through the years you know what The Recipe Challenges are, February is the annual Challenge, no real theme just new recipes to try out each and everyday for the entire month. There are a few more challenges throughout the year with a theme behind them, take the Lunch Box Challenge, or Slow Cooker Challenge, I try to mix it up. February is more of a free for all.
 Point being, try new things even if they fail. People get stuck in meal funks so to speak, same things, or repeating meals time and time again- break free of that!

 I challenge you to try a new recipe each week at least, plan a weeks worth of meals, throw in something new, try it, what's the worst that will happen? You learn you don't like something?

This year will be a little different, as my kids are old enough they are taking more of a stand in this, the entire process whether picking the recipe or making it themselves, which is what today's recipe is about. My kids picked this recipe out and what better day than SuperBowl Sunday for some Mini Taco Bowls!

All the kids made this, from cutting the tortillas, to helping brown the meat and assembling the tacos. It's a great new twist to taco night and makes a great party appetizer as well.

1 lb Ground Beef
2 tbsp Taco Seasoning
One medium onion chopped
12 Corn or flour Tortillas
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Your choice toppings
Cheese ( we used four cheese blend)
Peperoncini slices,
Sour cream

Choice is yours pretty much


Preheat oven to 350F

Heat the onion in a skillet with at least a tablespoon butter or oil till tender. Add in the beef and season. Heat through. While it's cooking using a 3 inch cookie cutter ( any cup or even wide mouth mason jar should be wide enough to use as a cutter) cut your circles out of the flour tortillas. I used scraps to fill in other muffin cups, worked just fine, I hate waste so don't throw them out so fast. Place each circle into a muffin tin. * Now the recipe I had said preheat the cut taco shells once in the muffin tins, I didn't do this.* I love not following directions so I filled the cups up, then heated.

You can do it either way, pre-bake the cups for 12 minutes till they are crispy, then start filling with meat and your toppings. Or fill the cups, just topping with cheese and heat it all together, till cheese is melted and edges are crisp, took 15 minutes.

This is a recipe the kids can help with throughout, Enjoy!

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January 18, 2015

Quick Family Meal: Pasta with Sausage

Everyone has busy days, let's face it and no one always wants to slave over the stove to make dinner, so when I threw this one together I had to share it with you all. This recipe is quick and easy, would work with beef if that's on hand. If you don't have fresh tomatoes you can used can, I think 3 would bring the right amount of liquid to the dish. You can add fresh chopped peppers to this, even mushrooms to spruce it up nice. I had this together in under 30 minutes, so it's quick and easy, promise!


1 lb italian bulk sausage
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1  cup chopped onion
3 cups chopped tomato
1, 6oz can of tomato paste
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Optional topping- shredded cheese
1 box cooked pasta shells

In a large frying pan cook with a tablespoon butter, cook the onions until tender. Set aside the onions to a container and cook sausage in the same pan. Once the sausage is fully cooked add in the remaining ingredients including the onions and start the pasta in a pot of boiling water. Heat the sausage and tomatoes till it starts to bubble and then bring the heat down to simmer. When the pasta is finished drain and transfer to a serving dish before covering with the meat mixture, sprinkle with cheese as serving.

Really easy to put together on a busy night! Enjoy!
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