Monday, June 30, 2014

Spaghetti with Homemade Meatballs

Somehow I have never made my own homemade meatballs....  until tonight.  This was a pretty yummy recipe!  It was also fairly easy to make, similar to making meatloaf.

2 Large Eggs
1/3 Cup Fresh Breadcrumbs
4 Tbsp Grated Cheese (I used Gruyere)
1 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Mediterranean Basil
2 Large Garlic Cloves (Minced)
1 tsp Alpine Touch (Salt & Pepper)
1 lb ground beef

1 12-16 oz can of tomato based pasta sauce (I used Tomato & Basil)
Angel Hair Pasta

Stir eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese olive oil, basil, garlic and alpine touch together in a bowl.  Add ground beef and mix thoroughly.  With moistened hands, form beef mixture into meatball shapes. 
Pour additional olive oil into a skillet over med-high heat.  Work in batches, adding meatballs to the pan.  Fry until brown and cooked all the way through, turning frequently for about 15 minutes per batch. 
Boil the noodles to al dente, strain and set aside.
Heat up the pasta sauce in a sauce pan and add the browned meat balls.
Serve with the sauce over the noodles and enjoy. 
*You can add additional shredded cheese and a dash of basil over top.  

Mix together the ingredients and then mix in the hamburger
Add olive oil to a skillet and form the meat mixture into meatballs, place in the pan to fry

Heat the pasta sauce in a pan and add the finished meat balls
Serve & Enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Thorn Birds

I had been reading this book for quite awhile during my breaks at work when I finally finished it.  I must say that I felt like something was missing in my life when the journey did come to a close. 

The Thorn Birds is written by Colleen McCullough and encompasses three generations of the Cleary family.  The story is predominantly placed in Australia during the depression.  Speaking of
depressing, this book is seriously depressing and kind of a downer for about the first half and almost 3/4 of the story.  Not to say that it isn't a good read, but it left me wondering if any one in the family was ever going to catch a break.  The historical fiction was brilliant and the characters were really brought to life. 

I really connected with Meggie as a little girl and as she got older.  She spent her life striving for happiness in her own surrounding and life really knocked her down, but she never gave up hope and never let go of the love she felt in her heart. 

There is so much heart break from every realm that a heart can be touched within this story.  I found myself crying at work on several occasions.  I just wanted so much for so many of the characters to find happiness.  Yet they were not fully miserable.  They accepted their lives as they were and went on with life.  None of these characters looked at life with defeat and gave up.  They were all hard working and persevered. 

As a reader you follow Meggie from the time that she is a little girl.  You get to see her grow up and then have her own family and watch her grow old.  The main love of the story is between Meggie Cleary and a forbidden man to her Ralph di Bricassart.  Ralph is a priest in the Catholic church and therefor has sworn off women in his love of God and the church.

Justine is Meggie's daughter and I was not a big fan of her until the last part of the book and then I must say that I absolutely loved her.  Her spunk and zest for life in comparison to the rest of the Cleary clan was a nice relief and a splash of color in their gray world. 

The closing of the book spoke volumes.  There were so many (dare I say) epic lessons within this classic story.  This book was not written lightly and was not meant to merely entertain, it was meant to SPEAK to the reader.  That it did for me.  I still feel like something it missing after saying goodbye to these characters.  I give it a 5 out of 5 stars and high recommend this historical fiction book. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Technology vs Science

There were a couple of thought provoking discussion questions in this past week that I thought were worthy of sharing with my geek fans, and anyone else that is interested in reading about it.  Due to the use of some other sources, I will note those for anyone interested in taking a closer look.  Please feel free to add your 2 cents in to the comments.

To discuss with would be a better choice from my point of view, I first want to talk about how technology stimulates Science, and vice versa.

How does technology stimulate science?

Technology stimulates scientific discovery in many ways.  One of the ways in which it can stimulate scientific discovery is by proving or disproving scientific theories, as was the case with the steam injector.  The steam injector patented by Henri Giffard, showed that the caloric theory of heat was not as all-encompassing as previously thought.  Giffard based his injector on the Bernoulli principle of pressure and velocity.  The result was that Giffard’s steam injector was supporting proof of the then unpopular kinetic theory of heat.  The steam injector was able to show that one theory of heat was more accurate than another.   As stated by Volti, the steam injector was “an example of a technology that worked even though existing scientific principles did not completely explain its operation.”
According to Volti, “Technological development also plays a vital role in scientific advance by supplying devices and instruments that are essential for scientific inquiry.”   The 3-D printer is one of many examples of this, with its almost limitless possibilities.  NASA is currently doing testing on a 3-D printer to enable it to be used on the Space Station.   Greenemeier states that “The ability to resupply far from Earth would give such a vessel the ability to carry out longer, deep-space missions.”  If this is the case, than this particular technological device would allow for even more scientific advancements to take place.  Increased time in space, and the ability to go further, could lead to a myriad of new discoveries.  Although science is reliant upon technological creations for advancement, technology would be just as crippled without science.
Technology and science work hand in hand, in a cycle of reliability.  “Both are based on the gathering of knowledge, and they both advance through the cumulative development of that knowledge.”  Scientific advancements today are reliant upon previous technology, which was reliant upon even earlier scientific advancements, and so on.  This was shown clearly in the studying of genetics with the use of the technological tool of medical image analysis.  Without the scientific need for analysis this technology would not have been created, let alone advanced to the state that it is now.  In turn by using this advanced technology, it was able to once again affect scientific advancement.  The scientist Woo Suk Hwong claimed in 2004 that he had successfully cloned a human embryonic stem cell.  However as shown by Understanding Science, “through the close scrutiny of images in his published work that appeared to be duplicated and manipulated, this so-called breakthrough was revealed to be a fraud.”   Without technology, the scientific advancement that is this study, and resulting inventions, with regards to genetics today, would not have been possible.

Would you choose a scientific discovery or technological invention?

The answer to this question was easy for me; I would of course choose to invent a technology.  From the days of my youth, and my dream of one day becoming a marine biologist, I learned a lot about biology and science.  I also learned that it was not for me.  Science revolves around theorems…  These can change so drastically with time and be completely dis-proven after decades and even centuries of pouring one-self into the work.  The steam injector that I used in the scientific advancement discussion is one such example.  As stated by Volti, the steam injector was “an example of a technology that worked even though existing scientific principles did not completely explain its operation.”  The steam injector laughed in the face of the caloric theory and brought the kinetic theory of heat out as the winner that we still rely on today. 
Discovering something doesn’t mean that it will be useful now or ever.  Just the simple act of discovery is not enough.  Without a complimentary technology that can utilize the scientific discovery and make it work, it will never be able to reach its potential as a successful discovery.  Many scientific discoveries take so long to be realized as useful, that the person that discovered them cannot be a part of reveling in the glory of its impact on the world.  Volti declares “Whereas science is directed at the discovery of knowledge for its own sake, technology develops and employs knowledge in order to get something done.”  Therefore, an invention has the opportunity to bring a use to the world, and add more than just a resource. 
Technology can be accomplished on at least some sort of a schedule.  A technological project can be laid out on paper and in worksheets and plan for the end of a beta version of the technology.   These steps can be broken down and in turn show a final project and allow for plans to improve upon the technology.  However when it comes to scientific discovery, as affirmed by Volti, “Scientific research, especially when directed at the discovery of basic principles, is an uncertain endeavor that cannot be guided by schedules and routinized procedures.”  As an analytical thinker, I would much prefer being able to intimately know the project I was working on and be able to create something useful to add to the world, this is why I choose a technological invention. 
Does Technology Stimulate Science?

I also utilized the book Society and Technological Change (7th ed.) by Rudi Volti. 

Friday, June 27, 2014


I was given this book to read for free in exchange for an honest review.  

Corcitura is written by Melika Dannese Lux is a mythological, thriller, suspense, historical fiction novel.  It entertains the reader with a lot of new and in depth vampire mythological ideas, as well as a surrounding environment that you can imagine being in.

I feel like this book had a lot of great ideas.  I loved the vampire mythology and having the book told from the perspective of the “victim.”  It was also interesting to have nothing told blatantly about a vampire type until about a quarter of the way through the book.  With that being said I had a lot of problem really connecting with the story.  There are wonderful landscapes and buildings described, but it felt like the characters were lacking and that the events had a lot of holes.  

Given the longer length of the book it allowed for the characters to slowly come out over time, but there were many déjà vu moments, and I had a distinct problem with the scene in the first Part of the book where Eric was in the wax museum and it described him taking the necklace and then after an action filled romp he returned to the same wax figure and took the necklace again…  It felt like there were a lot of little sections of the book that would have ended up in a “movie errors reel” if this was a movie to show different things that didn’t add up. 

The biggest problem I had with this book was that there didn’t seem to be any backfill between some of the characters.  There would be a scene with something going on and then skip forward and be into another scene like walking into a room halfway through a conversation and never getting filled in on what was missed.  Reading this book was like watching a movie about a book but there were certain parts that had to be cut and so they were just left missing.  

Don't be discouraged, it was still quite an interesting story.  Lux did a lot of extensive historical research and mythological research in regards to different creatures of the night, with her main focus on vampires.  I enjoyed reading from the different perspective, but by the end of the book, I still felt like the relations between characters were lacking somewhat, and could have gone more in depth.  I still think it is worth a read, but I would love to see an edit of it with more character relationships expounded upon and brought more to life.  I wanted to feel more of the connection with Leonora; I wanted to feel more of the betrayal that Eric felt from other characters.  I wanted to feel the anger and the rage and the in depth emotions that were talked about, but not brought to life enough for me.  

Description of environment was superb; character ideas were great, but just give them more life and more depth and this would be a phenomenal book.  Given the way things stand right now I did enjoy the book, but it felt like some parts were missing, so I leave it at a 3 out of 5 stars and love this start to the story. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wine-Infused Leg of Lamb

This is an extremely easy AND extremely delicious recipe!  I am a big lover of lamb, but you could also do this with a nice beef roast. 

1.5 lb Leg of Lamb (Larger if you are wanting to serve more people)
Seasoning (Garlic, Rosemary, Sea Salt)
Red Wine (I used Sangiovese)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Season the lamb and add it into an oven safe baking dish.  Pour enough wine in to come to the top of the lamb but not cover.  Put in the over for 30-40 minutes for medium rare.  Serve & Enjoy!
*If you want an alcohol free dish, substitute chicken stock. 

Season the lamb and place it in the baking dish
Add the wine and bake
Remove from oven, serve & enjoy

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Patches & Buttons

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Patches & Buttons is a cute children's story that is written and illustrated by Jennifer Link.  Buttons is an adorable bunny that seems to be afraid of everything, especially loud noises and the dog named Patches. 

It is 36 pages wrong with an illustration every other page.  Buttons the bunny likes to hide when he is scared.  The story culminates with Patches wanting to play with Buttons and bringing him a toy and buttons finally manages to get over his fear and be friends with patches.

This book is quite simplistic but cute, fun and easy to read.  My son loves it and we have already read it more than 5 times since it came in the mail.  It has the toddler stamp of approval.  The illustrations are vivid and go along with the story very well. 

I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.  Very cute and fun to share with little ones. An enjoyable read from the realm of children's books.

Q & A with the Author
Name:Jennifer Link
Website: Jennifer Link Bookstore

Why did you decide to write Patches & Buttons? 
Jennifer Link: I sketched different concepts and fantasized about the possibility of bringing my art to children's books for many years, but admit life often got in the way.  A few years ago, I decided I would write a book for my nephew when he turned one.  It was a board book and I made it just for him so I never planned on publishing it.  But after good responses from the book from friends and family I set a goal to finally write a book to publish.  I wanted to create one for children that would be colorful and serve as a story about my two favorite animals: a dog and a bunny.  I wrote the book in memory of my dog Amber and bunny Buster.  When a child reads the book and begins to smile I know I have done my job in honoring my pets in a way that allows them to still live on.

How did you get your book published?
JL: I spent a good amount of time researching different types of publishing options available for new authors and the best route for children's books in general.  I decided to go with self-publishing because it made the most sense and allowed me to keep the rights to my artwork and story.  I picked Outskirts Press because they seemed to offer the most control over not only my publishing options but marketing at well.  They have marketing options that I have not seen in other companies. 

What types of readers will be interested in your book?
JL: Patches & Buttons was written to be geared towards 2-5 year olds.  Half of the book pages were created with text and the other with only artwork in order to keep the short attention span on the little ones.  I wanted to use bright colors and variety throughout the book to allow my readers to connect with the personality of the characters. 

What is special about your book and differentiates it from other books in the same category?
JL: I think what sets my book apart from others is the style in which I created the artwork.  I drew the pages manually then took it into a computer artwork program in order to add the color and textures.  I still managed to create the impression of fur on parts of the bunny and the dog without making it appear like a photograph.  I combined cartoon and realism to appeal to children and adults at the same time.

Have you published any other books?  Do you plan to publish any future books?
JL: This is my first published book so far but I would like to work on another one eventually.  I haven't decided if this will be a series yet or if I would create my new book with a totally new story and characters.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Potato Pesto Soup

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes, as it always turns out amazing.  It saves well and has great repeat meal value. 

10 slices of Maple Bacon (Chopped)
5 Large Red Potatoes
1 Large Red Pepper (Seeded)
2 Tbsp Butter
2 1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
2 1/2 Cup Milk
6-8 oz Conchigliette (small shell pasta)
2/3 Cup Heavy Cream
Chopped Parsley
Garlic Salt

Pesto Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley (Chopped)
3 Garlic Cloves (Crushed)
1/2 Cup Pine Nuts (Crushed)
2 Tbsp chopped Basil
1/2 Cup Grated/Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2/3 Cup Olive Oil

To make the pesto sauce, put all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend for about 2 minutes. 
Chop the bacon, potatoes, and red pepper.  Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat for about 4 minutes.  Add the butter, potatoes, and red pepper and cook for 12 minutes, frequently stirring. 
Add the chicken stock and the milk to the pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  add the conchigliette and simmer for an additional 10-12 minutes.  
Blend in the cream and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the parsley and mix thoroughly.  Stir the pesto into the soup until mixed all the way through.  Serve topped with a sprinkle of the shredded cheese and a dash of basil or parsley on top.

Add the pesto ingredients into a blender
Blend until thoroughly mixed

Add the chopped bacon into a large pot
Add the butter, potatoes and red pepper
Add the milk and chicken stock
Add the conchigliette
Simmer with the cream
Add int he pesto and the parsley
Serve & Enjoy

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Rage Within

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Brilliant...  Intelligently written.  I loved this book. 

I can't say that it was an overly happy story, as it was predominantly a lot of batters both within and outside of one's self.  The Rage Within follows a man named Kellan from his past to his current state and events beyond his control rage on around him, with him drawn to the center more often than not. 

The Rage Within is written by B.R. Crichton and the man knows his battle tactics.  This is his debut novel and barring a couple of occasional typos, you would never know it.  It was thrilling to experience the amazing against all odds tactics that would leave you vying for the "good" side to win...  The world that he has created is expansive and imaginative.  The characters draw you in to their stories and they develop as people before your eyes. 

This fantastical beliefs and races are ones that have been more than glimpsed in other stories.  This is a book that stands on it's own in originality.  The book opens in a way that may turn the timid reader away, but if you can delve into this world head first and hold on for the ride, you will not be disappointed. 

Crichton paints a fierce enemy and gives a face to evil, but nothing is quite as it seems in this action filled thriller.  The world is described so that you can imagine you are there, listening to the conversations of the characters that he has brought to life.  Each character has it's own flaws that also helps them stand out.  It is refreshing to read a book with such a lively character base and interactive environment, where so many stories fall flat in mere dialogue and internal thoughts. 

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.  You should definitely read this book if you are into action, battle scenes, fantasy, internal battles, sweeping landscapes, and memorable races.  The ending does a good job of providing closure, while still leaving you with hope for a visit back to the mind of Crichton. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Vote For My Menu: June Edition

I took a month off to catch up on being a full-time student, but it's that time again, come vote for my menu!  This decision is based solely on 4 main course and 4 dessert recipes that I choose and then you vote to come to a FINAL decision.  After a week's time I will cook my version of the selected recipe and provide step-by-step instructions along with photos!  To vote just comment your Number and letter choice.  Thank you all in advance for your continued support and participation!

Main Dish Options

Option 1: Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Glaze
I can only imagine how delicious these flavors would compliment one another.

Original Recipe: Pork tenderloin with pomegranate glaze

Option 2: Cheese Tortellini with Spinach & Slow Roasted Tomatoes
After many requests I have promised to always provide a vegetarian choice.  As much as I love meat, there are so many amazing recipes that do not need it, such as this one.

Original Recipe: Cheese Tortellini with spinach & slow roasted tomatoes

Option 3: Sweet & Sour Chicken-Apricot Skewers
I am intrigued by this recipe and would love to try it.

Original Recipe: Sweet & Sour Chicken Apricot Skewers

Option 4: Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
This could be really awesome or really weird, let's try it!

Original Recipe: Salmon with Avocado

Dessert Options

Option A: Gooey Crock Pot Monkey Bread
I have been saving this amazing recipe for months, and can't wait to try it out!

Original Recipe: Gooey Crockpot Monkey Bread

Option B: Pear & Pistachio Crisp
I really wonder what this combination would taste like.

Original Recipe: Pear & Pistachio Crisp

Option C: Rice Pudding with Cherries
Rice Pudding AND Cherries, and there is also WHITE chocolate, I am salivating just thinking about it!

Original Recipe:

Option D: Bourbon Cake with Caramel Glaze
This sounds so exciting and yummy

Original Recipe: Waterford Reserve Bourbon Cake with Caramel Glaze

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wages Creek

I had the pleasure of reading a delightful children's book, Wages Creek as an advanced reader copy.

From the moment my son and I first pulled Wages Creek out of its packaging, he was enthralled with the cover art.  I loved the concept of the read-along CD that came with.  The CD included a complete reading as well as exciting sound effects to emphasize sections of the story. 

Wages Creek is a 30 page children's book written by Jeffrey Hickey and illustrated by Karen Kiser.  It is about a man that goes camping with his family and ends up catching a cold.  His family goes off to explore nature while letting dad rest.  He awakens to realize just how special Wages Creek and the ducks that reside there are.

This book was fun to read with my son, it is probably geared more towards ages 6 or 7 and up and with my toddler being 3 and a half, we just broke it up into 3 sessions to finish the book.  The storyline is very creative and teaches children to appreciate family and the small things around them.  The whole audio CD was so fun to read along with.  We would follow along in the book and my son was delighted by the sound effects.  I don't think I have ever had a children's book that was quite so fun to follow along with.

This book definitely needs to be paired with the Audio disc in order to get the full effect.  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.  Brilliantly done all around.  I highly recommend this book, especially for campers and animal lovers, especially of the waterfowl variety. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

How Do You Define Technology & Culture?

You don't think about how hard it is to define such seemingly easy terms until you have to do it.  This week my class discussion posts were about defining these two words, here is what I had to say.  What is your definition?  I am genuinely interested in your responses as I had a lot of people disagree with me.


To me culture can have as many definitions as there are people.  It seems to be one of those revolving words that people interpret differently based on their own experiences that they bring to the table.  For me, culture can be defined as a definition of a group of people.  That is to include the individual heritage, history, beliefs, dress, and way of life, diet, as well as, customs and courtesies.

 As a native Montanan, I grew up around many different tribes of Native Americans.  There are also many different reservations located throughout the state.  I first remember being introduced to cultural differences as a student participating in sports.  This was when I had my first real exposure to other people who resided on a reservation.  I have always been intrigued by those different than I am and love learning more about them and what forms their beliefs and thought processes.  It was also eye opening to me to see how they would protect one another against outsiders.  They were always so close knit and familial. 

 As a military member in the Air National Guard I was again faced with the close-knit community in the Guard, only this time I was a part of it.  This was always referred to as the “Guard Family Culture.”  It was a very rude awakening to me when I had to do extensive training with the active duty Air Force.  Instead of the now “family” community culture that I had become accustomed to, I was instead faced with a culture of feeling of being more cut throat, and competitive with selfishness abounding.  I was appalled at the lack of camaraderie that was displayed by the airman that I can in contact with.  This exposure made my mind up that I would never want to be a part of the Active Duty Air Force culture.  This has been reinforced to me with dealing of other service cultures; most notably, the Marine Corps.  I had renewed faith in active duty camaraderie in watching how the Marines could come together as a “family” in the majority of their service members. 

This is just one example of a type of cultural behavior that can cross between races and even in occupations.  This can be further broken down in the military/civilian and even branches of service, down to what I experienced between the differences in the guard and active duty culture. 


Initially, just thinking of a way to define technology feels like a daunting task.  For me it is something that encompasses so many concepts that just one word is not enough.  With that being said I will try to articulate how best I view the meaning of technology.   Technology is something that can be used in addition to or separate from one’s own bodily limited methods.  I mean this in terms that it can allow us to do more than we could without it. 
From as far back as caveman with the addition of fire as a technology, a person could now cook and prepare food in a different way, which could also develop into a defense or attack method.  Copper as a metal has been a great technological addition in creating tools and utensils with it.  This allows new ways for someone to work faster and more efficiently, and with the creation of new weapons, one was able to better defend themselves and also to attack others, or even for use in hunting.  
Later in history a chariot or carrier was added to a horse to be able to carry more items or to travel faster, and then even to aide in warfare.  Progress forward even further in time and we can add in the radio to further communication and business and once again warfare.  The spaceship has allowed further exploration and research and claims in space wars. 
Technology allows a human to do more than they could previously have done; if left to the limitations of their own body.  With only hands and feet we could not have hunted or fought or defended and foraged, and explored with the same effectiveness that we do now.
That is not to say that there have not been failures in technology only that even without continued success that each technology has allowed for a capability that would not have been there without it.  Technology chooses no sides, it can be used for good or evil, and like a computer it is only as effective as its operator.    

Homework Helper

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blueberry White Wine Vinegar Reduction Pork with Garlic Boiled Potatoes & Carrots

I love cooking with fresh fruit and veggies in the house!  This was another one of those delicious recipes that you can do so many different ways.  Enjoy!

Grilled Pork

1/2 Cup Champagne Vinegar 
1/2 Cup White Wine (I used Vermentino)
1/2 Cup Fresh Blueberries
3 Pork Tenderloins (Thickly Sliced)
Seasoning (Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt, Tarragon)
Dollop of sour cream
Rosemary leaves

Prepare the grill (I used my handy George Foreman Grill).  Bring the vinegar & white wine to a boil in a saucepan over high heat.  Add the blueberries and reduce heat to Low.  Cook until reduced by half.  While the sauce is reducing, season the pork tenderloins.  Place on the grill.  Cook for about 15 minutes until cooked all the way through.  Remove from the grill.  Cover or keep warm in the microwave.  As soon as the sauce is thoroughly reduced score the meat to ensure the sauce will seep in.  To serve spoon the sauce and blueberries over the meat to just cover (or to taste).  Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and rosemary leaves to the side.  *Do not shy away from the sour cream, it enhances the flavor tremendously and makes the taste sweeter.

Garlic Boiled Potatoes and Heirloom Carrots

9-10 Small Gold Potatoes
~20 Small Heirloom Carrots
3 Large Garlic Cloves (Minced)
Seasoning (Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt, Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning)

Add the carrots and potatoes to a large pan and cover with water.  Turn heat to high and start to boil.  Add the garlic and seasoning to the water.  Boil until the potatoes are slightly soft but still firm.  Drain the water, serve & enjoy.  

Add the veggies to the water to boil and add vinegar and wine in a saucepan set to boil
Add garlic & seasoning to veggies, add blueberries to the sauce
Continue to boil the veggies and simmer to reduce the sauce
Season the pork and place on the grill
Serve & Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Ugly Princess: The Legend of Winnowwood

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

What can I say; this was a quick, easy, enjoyable read. From the moment I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t an overly long book, but I did manage to finish it the same day I started reading it.

The Ugly Princess is written by Henderson Smith (who also happens to be from my home state of Montana). It is a fun and refreshing new kind of Fairy Tale, based around the lore of the Winnowwood. The Winnowwood are spectacular women, given  magic and healing powers. However, whenever these powers are used the women get new warts or disfigurements to their faces causing them to become hideously ugly the more powerful that they are. There is one way out of this ugliness, but to take this loop-hole, one must give up these powers.

The heroine of the story is Princess Olive who reminds us in a whole new way that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and that true beauty lies within.  I have to admit that the further I got into the story, regardless of how ugly Olive was described as being, I had a hard time seeing her that way in my mind.  I think I must have seen her the way the animals did. 

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Henderson did an amazing job of writing a story that was just plain fun to read. Princess Olive is an unlikely heroine and we get to travel with her in her adventures and when she can really learn how to have confidence in who she is. There are many great friends to Olive and even a dysfunctional family situation that has you rooting for Olive throughout the story. We learn not to judge to quickly on many fronts, and to trust our intuition through the eyes and thoughts of Olive. I loved this story and would even read it again, it was so fun! I would love to see a sequel in the making.   *I have recently been informed by the author that a sequel IS in the works!  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Monte Cristo Benedict

This was one of the most amazing flavor combinations of all time.  I made this for the morning of Father's Day for Liam and I to share, since I am a single mother.  I even had leftovers for breakfast this morning and it was STILL amazing. I highly recommend this recipe, and it's not nearly as hard as it may appear to be.

Ingredients: (I only made 3 servings, since it was just Liam and I but I will show the servings for 4)
2 Large Eggs
1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tbsp White Sugar
1 pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Orange Juice
4 slices of bread (thick bread works the best)
1 Tbsp Butter
8 thin slices cooked ham
4 slices Cheddar Cheese
4 slices of a smoked cheese (cheddar, butterkase, etc)
8 poached eggs
A dash of Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Whisk the eggs, cream, sugar, pepper, cinnamon and orange juice together in a bowl until the batter is thorough combined. 
Lay bread slices into batter one at a time and let the bread absorb the mixture.  Turn bread over and repeat for the other side.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt the butter.  Cook the bread in the hot butter until browned (about 2-3 minutes per side).  Transfer the French Toast slices to a baking sheet.  *Feel free to use parchment paper to make for an easy cleanup.
Lay ham slices in the skillet and cook until they begin to brown on the edges (only about 1 minute per side).
Place a cheddar cheese slice on top of each French Toast slice.  Add 2 ham slices to each one as well and top with the smoked cheese.
Bake until the French toast batter has set and the cheese has melted (about 12-15 minutes).
Place sandwiches on a serving plate and top each with 2 poached eggs.  Season with the Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt. 
Serve & Enjoy!

Whisk the batter ingredients together
Place the bread into the batter to soak
Turn to soak the other side
Cook in a large skillet until browned
Place on a baking sheet
Lightly brown the ham
Add a slice of cheddar cheese to the French toast
Top with the ham
Add the smoked cheese on top and stick in the oven
Poach the eggs

Remove from the oven with melted cheese
Top each slice with 2 poached eggs
Serve with a dash of seasoning and enjoy