Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review of Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney

Cate Kinkaid's life is . . . well, frankly it's floundering. Her social life, her career, her haircut--they're all a mess. Unemployed, she jumps at the chance to work for her PI uncle, even though she has no experience and no instincts. After all, she is just dabbling in the world of private investigating until she can find a "real" job.
All she has to do for her first assignment is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? But when she reaches the dark Victorian house, she runs into an hungry horde of gray-haired mystery readers and a dead body. This routine PI job is turning out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?
This is the first Lorena McCourtney book I have read. It appears there are several by her, all mysteries. This book was very charming, witty and a smooth read. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good book to curl up with on one of those rainy or snowy days.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review and Recipe of Food Family Style by Leigh Oliver Vickery

Food Family Style is a cookbook chalked full of recipes from salads, to main dishes to desserts to appetizers to kid friendly snacks. The sub title for this book is Simple and Tasty Recipes for Everyday Life. I would completely agree with this title. The recipes in this book were very simple and easy to make and also very versatile. Don't have mayo, but have avocados? Easy substitute. No red peppers? Why not use yellow instead? Don't like to fry your bacon? Why not bake it instead and put the leftover grease in as flavoring (if you chose to do so. I didn't and it was still amazing). The book doesn't offer substitutions for the recipes, but isn't that the fun part of making your own creations?

Another great tool this book offers is the symbol key. Each recipe has a symbol along side it to represent some added info for the recipe. The recipe may freeze well, or is a gluten free, or can be made in the crock pot, or is a fav of mom's around the country. This is added information that can help in your meal planning.

The moment I received this cookbook, I sat down to devour it. (I heart cookbooks. Like really heart them). The downside of this book? No pictures. I love pictures as I am a visual person. But the upside? More room for recipes! And recipes fill each and every page. Good sounding recipes. And I had just the right group to test these recipes on. My family. They are the best judges of what tastes good and thankfully they will try anything. So the search began. I ended up making several recipes. The majority were smash hits. Some I received the mediocre stamp of approval. But there was not one recipe that was turned down.

Here are some of the recipes I tried:

Berry-Apple Oatmeal "Pie"
Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches
Peanut Butter and Banana Paninis
Shrimp and Mango Pasta Salad
Pasta Club Salad
Fresh Summer Corn Salad
Thai Noodle Salad

Looking back, I see I was leaning more on the breakfast and pasta side of meals. Why? Because during these cooking times, it was between 90-100 degrees every day, so the less the oven was on the better. And we're smack dab in the middle of the summer harvest season so fresh produce is at it's peak. I tried everything with fresh produce instead of canned. Such an amazing taste! There are though, many soup recipes that I would love to try. When winter visits and nestles in.

One of our thumbs up recipes was Shrimp and Mango Pasta Salad. The dressing was so light and easy and the salad took minutes to put together. I did make one tweak: no red pepper, so I substituted a yellow pepper instead. That red pepper would've added SO much color to this salad which would've made the picture below pop. And mango's? Those are tricky fruits to get "just" ripe. Ours was a bit more on the "unripe" side. This will definitely be making it's round again on our menu rotation though.

Shrimp and Mango Pasta Salad

1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 lb small shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
1 lb any shape pasta, cooked, drained, and rinsed
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen kernel corn, thawed (I used fresh corn and it was amazing!)
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced (I used less b/c of the kids)
1 Tbs. mango juice (squeeze the pit over the bowl)
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh cilantro, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Toss avocado in a large mixing bowl with lemon and lime juices. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Chill and serve. Serves 4-6

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. So many easy ways to tweak it to your family's liking and lifestyle.

Available August  2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review and provide feedback. All opinions and photos are my own. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Review of Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt

In Raising Financially Confident Kids, financial expert Mary Hunt draws from solid statistics and her own hard-won knowledge and experience as a mom who made it back from the brink of financial ruin to help you teach your children how to handle money responsibly. From preschool through the teen years, every stage of your child's development is covered, including how to talk to them about money at each age, how to help them start saving money and giving it away, and how to avoid the pitfalls of easy credit and a culture built on debt.
This book opened my eyes to how I do need to be more pro-active in teaching money to our kids. Mary Hunt gives a great idea of starting your kids off with a salary instead of calling it an allowance. Part is put into savings. Part of it is given away. And the rest is spending money. There is so much more behind these three things. More ideas and descriptions as how you may want to teach your kids. One thing I liked was that in the "giving away" section, she and her husband taught their sons that the giving part doesn't have to be to church. It could be to someone who is in need. A charity. Someone at school who is going through a hard time. And even church. But with it there are no strings attached. And nothing expected in return.

Mary does a great job writing this as it is an easy read, yet chalked full of great ideas if you have kids at home and want to teach them how to live debt free as adults.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions expressed are my own.