Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Books Galore


Hi Ya’ll! Sorry I haven’t posted in a bit this wedding has TAKEN over my life! 10 days! WHAT?!?! Whether I’m planning, emailing, or stressing I just haven’t had a lot of time to make posts! I need to get better at that! Another goal!


One goal that I am still keeping up is my love for reading! Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly! So without further ado here we go!


 I found this book to be so interesting! I really enjoyed it and could not put it down! 

After losing her parents, Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister, and nephew on their small tobacco farm. She struggles with her aging mother, sister's mental illness and her own epilepsy. 

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County's newest social worker, she realizes how much her help is needed. She becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her boss and new husband. Jane is drawn to Ivy and she begins to discover secrets that are much darker than she would have guessed. She realizes she needs to take drastic action or she might lose a battle that goes against everything she believes in. 

Fabulous read!


 Beautiful Day was a book I just couldn't put down! It was so wonderful and I could relate to it so much because the main character is planning her wedding. While reading, I thought on a couple occasions "oh, I wish I had planned a wedding  on the beaches of Nantucket!" Just kidding mom :)

The Carmichaels and the Grahams are gathered in Nantucket for a wedding that will unite their two families. The plans were made according to the wishes of the bride's late mother, who left behind a priceless Notebook. Everything should be going seamlessly however, things are falling apart. The happy couple is doing well while their loved ones are crumbling around them. Leading up to the big day, love is questioned, scandals arise, and hearts are broken and healed.

Another fabulous read! It was easy, light and enjoyable!


 And then there was this book.... 2 tissue boxes later I think I have finally recovered!! I had to read this book with all the hype that it has been getting! I am a firm believer on reading the book FIRST then seeing the moving. The jury is still out whether I will go see the movie. Not that I didn't enjoy the book, I just don't think I can put myself through all that emotion again! Let's just say make sure you are alone when you finish this book because YOU WILL turn into a slobbering, blubbering, tear-filled mess. Don't say I didn't warn you!!

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has brought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal. In her final chapter she is introduced to a gorgeous Augustus Waters who appears in her Cancer Kids Support Group, and her story is completely rewritten. 

Great read! I read it in 2 days so it's a quick read as well!


The Murder House was an interesting story! It was written from the point of view of the murderer, which I enjoyed! There were lots of twists and turns which kept you on your toes. I felt some parts in the story that were very winded. This book could have been cut in half and it would have been a great read!

When Police Officer, Helen Anderson takes the files of a big court case to study over the weekend, she commits a huge error. Police files are not suppose to leave the police station. The moment those files end in the wrote hands, Helen's whole life is turned upside down and begins to spiral out of control. For one small lie leads to another and another until she is forced to clean up her tracks on multiple occasions. 

Interesting read for sure. I wouldn't say it was my favorite though!

If you have read any good books lately write them in the comment box below! I love new book suggestions. I just started Bent Road by Lori Roy so I will let you know!



Monday, June 9, 2014

Cherry Almond Bread



 I love to bake! The only problem I encounter is having baked goods in the house! I tend to want to eat all of them! There is something special about putting together a recipe like bread or muffins. I just love the way I feel when I pull out something golden, warm, and delicious from the oven!





This bread did not disappoint! The cherries and yogurt kept the bread moist while the slivered almonds gave a great crunch! I ended up making 2 batches; one for our priest, and one for my room mothers! Paul got a few slices when we met the priest to discuss our readings for the big day and he said this bread was delicious! He even dared to say it was his favorite yet and he knows his baked goods!




Cherry Almond Bread
Makes one loaf

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 tsp of salt

½ cup of truvia

1 ½ tsp of baking powder

2 eggs

1 stick of unsalted butter brought to room temperature

½ cup of greek plain yogurt

2 cups of chopped cherries

2 tbsp of almond extract

1 tbsp of silvered almonds for topping

loaf pan

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together flour, baking soda, cherries, and salt.

Blend butter and sugar together until there are much smaller chunks of butter. Slowly add eggs. Add almond extract. Blend until somewhat smooth. It will still be a little chunky with the butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Knead together until it is all mixed.

Form into a loaf in the loaf pan. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of slivered almonds on top of the loaf. Then lightly press the almonds into the dough. You want to make sure it bakes into the bread.

Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown on top. Also make sure when you stick a knife in the center it comes out clean.

Enjoy with smeared marmalade or jam! It is even better lightly toasted in a pan with a little coconut oil, just sayin!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Blackberry Lemon Marmalade



As I sit here eating watermelon, yum, I can’t even believe our wedding is one month away. I have been trying to get things done earlier rather than later so that everything won’t happen all at once. Especially because I have 10 days left of school! Ah! There is so much to do! One of those things on my to do list was to figure out a present for my room mothers. I have two this year in my classroom. It was the first year that we were assigned room parents and it really has been a treat! I have been dying to try canning! I was afraid especially for the sterilization process but I have to say it was so easy! I think I’m addicted now! Just this weekend alone I’ve made 5 cans of jam/marmalade. I’m going to make another batch tonight for my mamma, whom I’ll see next weekend! I’m thinking tonight I’ll try blueberry lemon marmalade! I’ll let you know how that comes out.



Let’s talk about this blackberry lemon marmalade and exactly what is going on. The true definition of marmalade is “Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits boiled with sugar and water. It can be produced from kumquats, lemons, limes, grapefruits, mandarins, sweet oranges, bergamots and other citrus fruits, or any combination thereof.” Thanks wikipedia. I was very nervous about keeping the skins on the lemons in the marmalade but boy am I glad I did! They almost candied when it was all said and done! They are a little bitter when you get a bite but mixed with the blackberry it levels out the bitterness. As long as you cut them into bite size pieces they will be amazing. I am so in love with the sweet yet sour taste of this marmalade. I actually spooned it right from the jar to eat it! Not really part of the wedding diet, I’m sure, but I just couldn’t resist!

I also am a strong believer on NOT using any artificial sweeteners EVER. I used to be addicted to Splenda. I hate even admitting I would put 3 in my coffee DAILY. Then I started reading about the stuff and realized how bad it was for me. When I stopped my chronic headaches did as well and I dropped 3-5 pounds too! Incredible. I also realized how I didn’t even need anything to sweeten up my coffee! I just drink it black now or, if anything, maybe some almond milk. Of course, I occasionally will have a skim latte, my absolute favorite, but only once in awhile! Back on track, I did use Truvia in this marmalade. It was all they had at the grocery store I went to. I would have gotten stevia but I think Truvia is okay. I wouldn’t use it all the time but for this it was all right! I did like how I didn’t have to use much!

I hope you enjoy and make sure to smear this on your favorite bread! I’ve been eating it on some delicious Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins. My absolute favorite! I’ve even put a dollop in my plain Greek yogurt and it tastes like a treat!

Blackberry Lemon Marmalade
Made 2 - 8 oz glass jars

3 small cartons of Blackberry Containers (it came to a little less than a pound, it was about 12 ounces.)

4 medium lemons

Juice from one lemon

½ cup of truvia (or 1 cup of sugar)

2-3 sterilized jars (just in case you have extra)

Directions:

Sterilize the jars. I place the glass jars (without the lids) in a large boiling pot of water for the entire time the rest of the ingredients are cooking.



While jars are sterilizing you can begin the cooking. Place a small dish in the freezer which you will use at the end for testing the marmalade.

Wash the blackberries really well as well as the lemons. Give the lemons a good scrub because you will be eating the skins in the marmalade. Cut the lemons into bite size pieces. I would even go on the smaller end. Taking out the seeds as well as the white membrane (what encases the fruit). Place seeds and membrane into a cheese cloth and set aside.



Place blackberries, juice from one lemon, and sugar in a large pot. I used my fancy new Le Creuset (thanks mamma J) Stir every few minutes.



Cook down until the liquid is just about covering the blackberries (took around 5-8 minutes)



Then drain the blackberries in a colander with a bowl underneath. I like to stir the blackberries here to get all the juices out.



Set the blackberry fruit aside. Take the blackberry juice and return back into your original pot (my Le Creuset)

Then add the lemons (skin on) to the liquid. Then add the cheesecloth with the membrane and seeds. This has natural pectin in it, which thickens the marmalade.



Bring this liquid to a boil for around 5-8 minutes until it becomes thick, almost syrupy. Continue stiring (I never used a thermometer even though a lot of things I read about canning says you should however you do not need to. You want it to get about 220 degrees here for about five minutes. I however, just waited for most of the liquid to evaporate and it became thick like jelly.)

Then add back the blackberries and cook for another 5-8 minutes or until the marmalade is thick. Continue to stir every few minutes to prevent sticking to the bottom of your pot! I also used a chilled plate to help. Once I thought the mixture was ready I put a dollop on the chilled plate and if it didn’t run off the plate I knew I was good to go! A good test is if you drag your finger through the marmalade and it is wiped clean. Then you know it’s set.) Then remove cheesecloth and discard.

Once the marmalade has thickened. Take it off the heat. Let it sit for about 5 minutes.

While your marmalade sets, place your jar lids in a glass bowl.

Carefully take out the jars from the boiling water. I used tongs.

Then carefully spoon the boiling water into the glass bowl with the lids just until the lids are submerged.

Carefully scoop your marmalade into each jar. Leaving about ¼ of the top empty.

Tighten the lids onto your jars. Not too tight.

Place the jars back into your canning pot. Make sure they’re submerged in the water about an inch of water should be covering them. 

Once the water starts boiling set the timer for about 10 minutes. Lift carefully here and let cool. I used tongs however I would like to get a canning tool for this. The marmalade will keep for about a year! Good luck!



                                    I love this smeared on some Ezekiel bread!