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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin (A Song of Fire and Ice #5)

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire #5)A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Jacket Blurb:  In the aftermath of a colossal battle, Daenerys Targaryen rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way east--with new allies who may not be the ragtag band they seem. And in the frozen north, Jon Snow confronts creatures from beyond the Wall of ice and stone, and powerful foes from within the Night's Watch. In a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics lead a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, to the greatest dance of all.

Game of Thrones (1st ed 1991)
A Clash of Kings (1st ed 1998)   yup...7 year wait.
A Storm of Swords (1st ed 2000)  whew!  2 years.
A Feast for Crows (1st ed 2005)  damn, 5 years this time.
Dance with Dragons (1st ed 2012)  another 7 year wait.  Was it worth it?  No, not really.


My plot summary (I'm assuming you've read the first four or have a passing acquaintance with the series):

Tyrion went from point A to point B and really didn't accomplish anything other than being the most interesting part of the book despite nothing happening!

Jon stayed at the wall and pissed everyone off. 

Stannis marched on Bolton and got stuck in the snow, "Winter is coming!"

Reek got stuck between Bolton and Stannis.

Bran got stuck in a cave.

Daenerys spends most of her time wringing her hands, "But I'm just a young girl!" while everyone is telling her to take the damn dragons and wreak some havoc and chaos!  What good are dragons if you can't inflict some mayhem? 


It's almost as if the multiple plots have gotten out of control and GRRM doesn't quite know how to pull all the various strings back in to make a strong cohesive story. 

This was a rather grandiose, overly bloated, transition book about feasts lavish enough to make the Food Network envious, clothing descriptions to rival Project Runway, a Kim Kardashian-style (aka - pointless) wedding, and guts/shit/flux/flies and carnage enough to turn a strong person off their dinner. 

Ultimately, there was a lot of repetitive statements, such as "words are wind" and "being as useless as nipples on a breastplate". People were kinda moving around on the playing field unless they were stuck in the snow or bobbing around at sea. As for the numerous endings - which all felt the same - the reader is left once again clutching at their breast, gasping for air, wailing and tearing their hair at the cliffhangers.  

Well, no, not really that bad; mostly I just tossed the book aside in disgust, knowing that it may very well be another 5 years before we know who lives and who dies, and by that time I just won't care.   Actually, I don't care now - too many years pass between the books and I'm losing interest.

Reek. Reek, the book was weak.



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Monday, April 14, 2014

Recipe Review from 4/7/2014

Not much to say about this past week - it's spring in northern Minnesota, or as I like to call it "the Season of Mud" so outside activities are a bit restricted at the moment.  We did check out the Duluth Home Show with the thought of talking to some contractors about a possible kitchen remodel.  We were there about 3 1/2 hours, didn't get to everything, but I did come away with three names.  If they don't call me this week, I will start calling start after Easter.

Dogs are revealing in the warmer temps, returning birds, and emerging squirrels and chipmunks. Several critter holes have been now been excavated.  I'm not enjoying the early season doggie baths. 

Only two new recipes for this week.  I had hoped to grill the brats outside, but didn't have an opportunity to clean the grill, so the start of grill season will have to wait a bit. 

Le Schedule/menu:
Sat - Home Show/Jazz at Toga/dinner out with parents
Sun - Chicken and Chickpea Stew for lunches
Mon (yoga) leftovers 
Tues (defuzz) - Brats and side  
Wed (am yoga/D shoots) - leftover chicken
Thurs (yoga) - leftover brats
Fri -out

Lunches - Minestrone Soup

Chicken and Chickpea Stew (Great American Slow Cooker Bookgluten free
Delicious! Delicious! Delectible!  Chicken was fall apart tender, the spices reminiscent of maybe Morocco or Spain, and perfect served over some brown rice.

 I used a 4qt slow cooker.

1 14 oz can no-salt added canned diced tomatoes (I used petite diced)
1 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 sm onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp minced fresh oregano
t tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1/2 tsp salt
3 lbs bone-in skinless chicken thighs (I used 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless)

1) Stir the tomatoes, chickpeas, onion, parsley, paprika, cloves, cinnamon, saffron, and pepper in the slow cooker.
2) Mix the oregano, olive oil, garlic, and salt in a small bowl; smear this paste over the chicken thighs.  Set them into the slow cooker so their partly submerged.
3) Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7 hours, or until the meat is fall apart tender.  


 Root Vegetable Minestrone  (Ckng Lght, March 2014)  gluten free and vegetarian optional**
This was outstanding!  Super easy to assemble, fantastic taste.  We both loved how thick and stew-like this turned out - nothing like your 'classic' minestrone soup which is very brothy.  This was thick and saucy which really highlighted the sweetness of the vegetables.  I'm not certain it necessarily supposed to be so thick, but that's how mine turned out and I loved it.   I almost made this twice - but decided to hold off for another week or two.
  • 5 center-cut bacon slices, chopped (I skipped the bacon and just sauted the veggies in some rendered bacon fat I had saved)
  • 1 1/3 cups chopped peeled butternut squash
    photo from cookinglight.com
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrot 
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsnip  (I used a turnip)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 2/3 cups (1 can) unsalted chicken stock 
  • 1/4 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
  • 3/4 cup 1 14.5 oz can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; reserve 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Add butternut squash and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) to drippings in pan; sauté 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in uncooked pasta; cook 10 minutes. Stir in cannellini beans, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes or until vegetables and pasta are tender. Divide soup evenly among 4 bowls; top evenly with bacon.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Back Spin by Harlan Coben (Myron Bolitar #4)

Back Spin (Myron Bolitar, #4)Back Spin by Harlan Coben

My rating: 4 of 5 stars




Jacket blurb:  Kidnappers have snatched the teenage son of super-star golfer Linda Coldren and her husband, Jack, an aging pro, at the height of the U.S. Open. To help get the boy back, sports agent Myron Bolitar goes charging after clues and suspects from the Main Line mansions to a downtown cheaters' motel--and back in time to a U.S. Open twenty-three years ago, when Jack Coldren should have won, but didn't. Suddenly Myron finds him self surrounded by blue bloods, criminals, and liars. And as one family's darkest secrets explode into murder, Myron finds out just how rough this game can get.

"Read" as an audiobook.  In fact, I "read" the first CD twice, it was that enjoyable.

Myron has become entangled in the world of golf.  Jack Coltrane is on the cusp of winning the tournament he choked on 22 years earlier.  His wife is the LPGA top player.  His son has been kidnapped.  Win refuses to help for personal reasons.  Esperanza will help, but she wants to become a partner in MB Sportreps when she graduates law school.  It's up to Myron to untangle this tangled bag of golf clubs and he does it with wit, humility, and dogged determination.

I simply enjoyed this book.  The narrator is absolutely perfect for the voices, conveying the haughtiness of the upper crust in Win's character and Myron's more humble roots.  You can really see Esperanza rolling her eyes at Myron as she snarks back at him.  The writing really pulls the reader along, alternating between laugh out loud and baited breath anticipation. 

My commute mantra became "please let me hit a red light, I need a red light!"  Wish I could get these consistently on audiobook from the library, but the system seems to be hit or miss. 

Highly recommended.



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Monday, April 7, 2014

Recipe Review from 3/31/14

Two back to back snowstorms - one with two days of 40mph winds and an inch of snow; one with 6" of the heavy wet stuff that gave me my worst commute of the year, and then promptly melted later in the afternoon.  Gotta love spring. 

We ended the week with temps hitting 50*!  Was nice enough that I pulled my porch chair and table out and sat outside while the pups ran around.  Rest of the week is supposed to be in the 40's, which would be very welcome indeed! 


The Meal Plan for the previous week:
Sun - Pulled Pork Sandwiches with pickles and baked fries
Mon (yoga)  leftovers
Tues (yoga) leftovers
Wed (yoga am/Bullseye league) Minestrone Soup  Out for Pizza
Thurs (yoga) leftovers
Fri - leftovers
Sat - out with Parents

Lunches - Corn and Potato Soup, Fritos, fruit, luna bars, yogurt, nut cups.



Sweet BBQ Sauce  (A Sweet Pea Chef Blog)
I'm not a fan of pre-prepared BBQ sauces as more often than not, they are full of High Fructose Corn Syrup and other preservatives.  Bleh.  BBQ sauce is also remarkably easy to make and delightfully variable - maybe a traditional sauce, or a mustard sauce, how about a white BBQ sauce?  This one below is a sweet-hot barbeque sauce that I found via Pintrest.

I doubled the recipe for my 4lb pork shoulder roast. It was definitely tangy-zingy-sweet and doubled, was the perfect amount for the quantity of meat I had.  What I wasn't counting on was eating pulled pork for four meals!  Maybe a 3lb roast was too much for the two of us. 

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp. ground mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
kosher salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine well. Refrigerate at least 15-20 minutes prior to using, if possible.

**My notes - I did heat the sauce for about 15 minutes to get the honey and molasses to combine and some of the spices to release their flavor.  Then I popped it into the fridge until I was ready to use it.  


Creamy Corn and Chicken Soup (Great American Slow Cooker Cookbook)  gluten free
 A riff on corn and potato soup that ups the protein with the addition of some chicken.  A chop, plop, puree dish that was most satisfactory.  For my bacon lovers out there, some crumbled bacon on top would have really rounded out the flavors nicely. 

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 qt chicken broth
4 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
1 cup thinly sliced leeks (rinsed and drained)
1 cup baking potato, diced  (I used baby reds)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 half and half 

1) Put chicken breasts on the bottom of the slow cooker.
2) Add everything except half and half.
3) Cover and cook 2 1/2 hours (low) 5 hours (hight)
4) Remove chicken breasts and set aside. Puree remaining ingredients until smooth or desired consistency.
5) Cube chicken breasts and return to pot.  Add cream.  Cover and cook an additional 15-30 minutes.


 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #4)

The Last Coyote (Harry Bosch, #4)The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Jacket Blurb:  Harry Bosch's life is on the edge. His earthquake-damaged home has been condemned. His girlfriend has left him. He's drinking too much. And after attacking his commanding officer, he's even had to turn in his L.A.P.D. detective's badge. Now, suspended indefinitely pending a psychiatric evaluation, he's spending his time investigating an unsolved crime from 1961: the brutal slaying of a prostitute who happened to be his own mother.Even after three decades, Harry's questions generate heat among L.A.'s top politicos. And as the truth begins to emerge, it becomes more and more apparent that someone wants to keep it buried. Someone very powerful....very cunning....and very deadly.Edgar Award-winning author Michael Connelly has created a dark, fast-paced suspense thriller that cuts to the core of Harry Bosch's character. Once you start it, there's no turning back.

"Read" as an audiobook.  Narrator was Dick Hill.

Two stars for the portrayal of the main character, four stars for the plot.  Average being three stars.  

By the end of the first chapter, I detested our protagonist, Detective Bosch.  A self-centered, arrogant, obnoxious, rude, character which I simply could not sympathize or empathize with, nor, ultimately care about.  I don't know why anyone would like this man or call him a "friend" given how poorly he treats people.  I can't fathom any police department putting up with the behavior demonstrated in this book (and previous), including assaulting a supervisor, assaulting an investigator, illegal use of resources while on leave, inability to work with a team.  He insults everyone he talks to, treats them as idiots, accuses them of some perceived slight to his character, frequently shouts at them, and to top it off, only Bosch knows what's right. Everyone else is an ignorant putz.  I'm seething at Bosch's behavior just typing this review.

My second complaint with the book was the excessively long "love scene" between Bosch and Jasmine.  Tedious, boring, and gratuitous - if I wanted a soft porn romance book, I'd read a soft porn romance book.  I want a mystery-thriller.  There are other ways to have a couple connect meaningfully that doesn't involve sex.

The only reason I finished this book was the plot - the plot was interesting.  A cold case with interesting twists and turns, of perceptions being righted, and ultimately, the truth coming out.  Not a pleasant truth, mind, but that's usually the case.  That was very well done.

Was the plot enough to carry the book...barely.  Not sure I could recommend this one.



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Monday, March 31, 2014

Recipe Review from 3/24/14

It snows.  I snowblow. It melts.  It snows. I snowblow. It melts.  Welcome to my so-called "spring".  Where one day we are in blizzard like conditions with awful roads, and the next day it's 50 and sunny.  At some point here we need to strike a balance...

The Meal Plan:
Sun:- make Winter Squash Stew;  make Risotto
Mon (yoga and bookgroup) (legion meeting)
Tues - leftovers
Wed - (Bullseye League) make Quiche
Thurs (yoga) leftover quiche
Fri - (Husband at Outdoor show) leftover quiche;  make quinoa dish.
Sat (Sister up) Husband leftover quiche for lunch, me with sis. 

Lunches - Winter Squash Stew; fruit, bread, luna bars, yogurt and nut cups.

Cherry Ricotta Scones  (Ckng Lght March, 2014)  vegetarian
A putsy recipe that I didn't think was worth the bowls, saucepan, and utensils I dirtied to assemble this.  I don't have a microwave so I brought the cherries and OJ to a simmer on the stove and then covered and set aside.  The "ricotta" devonshire cream mix was better than I thought it would be, but it had a granular texture that I didn't find appealing.  Upon reviewing this...I might have shorted myself on the butter, but I'm not certain.  The flavor is good (I love cherries!) and had I remembered almonds, it probably would have helped.  In hindsight, I should have tossed a bit of almond flavor into the batter.  Oh well.  Ultimately, an "okay" scone.
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice 
    photo from cookinglight.com
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese 
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon fat-free buttermilk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4.5 ounces whole-grain pastry flour (about 1 cup)
  • 3.4 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Combine cherries and juice in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute; let stand 5 minutes. Drain; discard liquid. Finely chop cherries.
  3. Combine ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar, rind, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture. Add 1/3 cup buttermilk and canola oil to remaining ricotta mixture, stirring until smooth.
  4. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cherries and almonds; toss. Add buttermilk mixture; stir just until combined.
  5. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls 3 inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Combine egg and remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk, stirring with a whisk. Gently brush top and sides of dough with egg mixture. Bake at 425° for 15 to 16 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool slightly on a wire rack.
  6. Beat the reserved ricotta mixture at medium speed 3 minutes or until fluffy. Serve with warm scones.

Risotto with Red Peppers and Asparagus (Ckng Lght Apr 2014)  gluten free, vegetarian
I LOVE risotto!  Something about the creamy rice just appeals to me in a comfort food way.  The April issue had an article on how to simplify risotto, where you rinse the rice in the broth before hand, then you don't have to stand and stir-stir-stir; but I can't seem to find that blurb on-line.  I tried the method and it worked great

My complaint with this recipe was the veggies amounts called for were way too much!  I halved the asparagus and thought there was still too much.  One red pepper would have been plenty.  The Husband thought the dish was overly bland.  I liked it except for the excessive veggies.  Broccoli would also be a good substitute for the asparagus. 
photo from cookinglight.com
  • 2 large 1 large red bell peppers
  • 1 pound 1/2 pound (or less) asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth 
  • 2 cups water 
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1 cup Champagne or sparkling wine  I used regular white wine
  • 2 ounces goat cheese (about 1/4 cup)
  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Combine asparagus and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl; add to baking sheet. Broil 5 minutes. Remove asparagus from pan; set aside. Broil peppers an additional 5 minutes or until blackened. Place peppers in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and chop peppers. Combine asparagus, peppers, and rind in a medium bowl; toss to combine.
  3. Bring broth and 2 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  4. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, shallots, black pepper, and salt; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in Champagne; cook until liquid is absorbed (about 2 minutes), stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 cup broth mixture; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reserve 1/4 cup broth mixture. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes total). Stir in asparagus mixture; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in reserved 1/4 cup broth mixture and cheese.


Winter Squash Stew with Beans and Corn  (Ckng Lght, Oct 2000)  vegetarian, gluten free
Super easy to assemble!  Cooks in about 45 minutes.  Easily made ahead and in fact, it's one of those recipes where it's better the next day after all the flavors have had a chance to meld.   Flavors are reminiscent of a chili or the southwest.  I did find this a bit on the bland side - so some hot sauce or chili powder if you like a little extra zing.

photo from cookinglight.com
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 3 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled buttercup or butternut squash (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 cup diced onion 
  • 2 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 dried New Mexican chile, seeded
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the squash and onion, and sauté 5 minutes. Add 1 cup water and the next 4 ingredients (1 cup water through chile); cover and cook 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water, salt, and tomatoes; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Add the corn and beans; cover and cook 15 minutes. Discard the chile.

Mushroom, Gruyere and Spinach Quiche (Ckng Light April, 2014) vegetarian, gluten free option
I do love a good quiche and while this wasn't as "spectacular" as the magazine made it out to be (hell-O! It's just quiche!) it was still really good and even better as leftovers.  Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and in this case, dinner.  I did modify the recipe greatly in that I did NOT make my own crust.  I wasn't in the mood to add an hour to my prep-time and I had a single Pillsbury crust to use up in the fridge. 
photo from cookinglight.com
  •  1 homemade crust, OR 1 pre-made crust of choice OR 1 gluten free pie crust - all baked according to pie crust directions.
  • 3 center-cut bacon slices
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half
  • 3 large eggs  (I used 4 large eggs)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 ounces cave-aged Gruyère cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven temperature to 350°.
  2. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings; crumble. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add shallots to drippings in pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.
  3. Place milk, half-and-half, eggs, egg white, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a blender; process until smooth.
  4. Arrange half of cheese over bottom of crust; top with spinach mixture and remaining half of cheese. Carefully pour milk mixture over cheese. Sprinkle with bacon. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until filling is set. Let stand 10 minutes.


Quinoa Salad with Roasted Corn and Tomates (Ckng Lght)  gluten free, vegetarian, vegan option
Quinoa Salad with Oven-Roasted Corn and Tomatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. Combine corn and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Spread corn in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Roast corn at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.
4. Combine juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add corn, quinoa, and tomatoes to bowl; toss to coat. Add cheese and basil; toss gently.
- See more at: http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2012/05/05/salad-saturday/#sthash.OeJMmAab.dpuf
The sister and little nephew came up to visit on short notice and I needed an easy and fast lunch that was gluten free, soy free, dairy free and high protein.  Quinoa has become my go-to meal base in situations like this and this recipe popped up on the first search.  The steps below can be done pretty much at the same time - once the quinoa is started, the corn can be popped into the oven, the tomatoes chopped and dressing whisked. 

I did cook up some lightly seasoned chicken tenders and add them to the dish for the adults - little nephew got chicken and veggies.  This would be great for a picnic or lunches because it can be served hot, warm or cold.  Recommended with and without the chicken!

Quinoa Salad with Oven-Roasted Corn and Tomatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. Combine corn and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Spread corn in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Roast corn at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.
4. Combine juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add corn, quinoa, and tomatoes to bowl; toss to coat. Add cheese and basil; toss gently.
- See more at: http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2012/05/05/salad-saturday/#sthash.OeJMmAab.dpuf1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about  three ears)
Photo from cookinglight.com
I used frozen corn.
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp fresh lemon juice 
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup grape tomaotes, halved
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese - I used goat cheese
1/4 chopped fresh basil

1. Rinse quinoa; drain and combine with 1 1/2 cups water or broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until water is completely evaporated.  Set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375*
3. Combine corn and 1 tbsp oil in a medium bowl;  Spread corn in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.  Roast corn at 375* for 20 minutes or until lightly brown and roasted.  Cool slightly.
4. Combine juice, remaining 1 tbsp oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl stirring with a whisk.  Add corn, quinoa and tomatoes to bowl; toss to coat.  Add cheese and basil; toss gently.  Can be served warm, room temp or cold.
Combine corn and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Spread corn in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Roast corn at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. - See more at: http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2012/05/05/salad-saturday/#sthash.OeJMmAab.dpuf

Quinoa Salad with Oven-Roasted Corn and Tomatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. Combine corn and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Spread corn in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Roast corn at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.
4. Combine juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add corn, quinoa, and tomatoes to bowl; toss to coat. Add cheese and basil; toss gently.
- See more at: http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2012/05/05/salad-saturday/#sthash.OeJMmAab.dpuf
Quinoa Salad with Oven-Roasted Corn and Tomatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. Combine corn and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Spread corn in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Roast corn at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.
4. Combine juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add corn, quinoa, and tomatoes to bowl; toss to coat. Add cheese and basil; toss gently.
- See more at: http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2012/05/05/salad-saturday/#sthash.OeJMmAab.dpuf

Quinoa Salad with Oven-Roasted Corn and Tomatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. Combine corn and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Spread corn in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Roast corn at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.
4. Combine juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add corn, quinoa, and tomatoes to bowl; toss to coat. Add cheese and basil; toss gently.
- See more at: http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2012/05/05/salad-saturday/#sthash.OeJMmAab.dpuf
Quinoa Salad with Oven-Roasted Corn and Tomatoes
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup crumbled queso fresco cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 375°.
3. Combine corn and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Spread corn in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Roast corn at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly.
4. Combine juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add corn, quinoa, and tomatoes to bowl; toss to coat. Add cheese and basil; toss gently.
- See more at: http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2012/05/05/salad-saturday/#sthash.OeJMmAab.dpuf

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Hex and the City by Simon R. Green (Nightside #4)

Hex and the City (Nightside, #4)Hex and the City by Simon R. Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Jacket blurb:  Lady Luck has hired John Taylor to investigate the origins of the Nightside--the dark heart of London where it's always 3 A.M. But when he starts to uncover facts about his long-vanished mother, the Nightside--and all of existence-- could be snuffed out.

I finished this on my flights from Minnesota to Texas.  Absolutely perfect for traveling...actually just perfect period!

John Taylor, our Nightside private eye, accepts a job from Lady Luck to find the origins of Nightside.  A lot of people don't want him digging around in those murky depths, including Walker from the Authorities, The Hunter, and the Horrors - the entities who want John dead.  John engages two new characters - Sinner, a fellow who's living his own purgatory because he loves a demon named Pretty Poison; and Madman, who saw reality for what it really was and hasn't been able to see things the same way ever since. In John's journeys he encounters gods from days gone by and characters that can make the skin crawl on a dead man, but the biggest surprise is Lady Luck herself. 

Green's writing is definitely progressing and solidifying - the new character 'biographies' are becoming more integrated into the story rather than coming across as info dumps.  The new characters themselves are just amazing in their creativity and uniqueness.  Green has a subtle - almost wicked - sense of humor that keeps me turning the pages just to see what he will come up with next.  I find the length of these books just perfect for the setting, something that I can enjoy over a couple of days or on a trip.

Highly recommended.



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