Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Recipe: Irish Shepherd’s Pie

With temperatures dipping well below zero, I wanted to make something warm and comforting so I immediately thought of Irish Shepherd’s Pie.
The recipe immediately transports me back to my great-grandmother’s kitchen where I would sit on a kitchen chair patiently waiting for my turn to mix the ingredients.
When served with a warm loaf of rustic ciabatta bread and garden salad, Irish Shepherd’s Pie makes the perfect meal for a cold winter’s day.
I hope you enjoy!

  Irish Shepherd’s Pie

For the filling:
1 lb of ground lamb*
1 Jar of Beef Gravy
1 Can of Sweet Corn
1 bag of mixed Veggies
½ pound of potatoes
Kerrygold Red Leicester Cheese
Handful of dried parsley
Spray a glass pan with cooking spray—I used Olive Oil spray—and set aside.
Open the bag of frozen veggies, put in a colander, and rinse with lukewarm water. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
Shred the cheese
Prepare potatoes just as you would when making mashed potatoes—Potatoes can be made the day before. Add in half of the shredded cheese and parsley mix well.
1—brown the ground lamb until cooked through, drain the grease.
2—Add browned lamb to the veggies add gravy. Mix thoroughly.
3—Pour into pan, spreading even.
4—Spread corn evenly on top of gravy/veggie/meat mixture.
5—Spread on the mashed potatoes.
6—Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
7—Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes.
8—Remove from oven allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
*Not a fan of lamb or having trouble finding it, use ground beef or turkey instead. If using turkey, switch beef gravy to turkey gravy.  To make this into a vegetarian dish, I add an extra bag of frozen veggies and 2 cans of water chestnuts.  

Red Leicester is a sharp and tangy cheese kind of like a cross between cheddar and Cheshire. A firm cheese that is brilliant for grating that also melts well. Use Red Leicester the same way you would use sharp cheddar.

What recipes evokes memories for you? 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hot & Bothered by Kate Meader Release Day Blitz

A Fire They Can't Put Out . . .
Although her baby boy keeps her plate full, Jules Kilroy is ready to take her love life off the back burner. Despite a bevy of eligible bachelors, it's her best friend, Taddeo DeLuca, who is fueling her hormones with a generous serving of his mouth-watering Italian sexiness. But Jules learned her lesson once before when she went in for a kiss, only to have Tad reject her. She's vowed never to blur the lines again . . .
 After a lifetime of excuses and false starts, Tad has finally opened a wine bar, a deal made even sweeter when Jules joins his staff. Lovers come and go, and he's had his share, but friendships like theirs last forever. Still, ever since he tasted her luscious lips, he can't stop fantasizing about what could be. Then she joins an online dating site-and the thought of his Jules with another man makes Tad's blood boil. Even if he gets burned, Tad can't stop himself from turning up the heat this time.
Buy Links:


“I’ll walk you up,” he said, slipping his jacket on so it was clear to both of them he would be on his way as soon as his chivalrous duty had been performed. Because people put on jackets to, you know, go outside.

“You don’t—”

“I do.” He tucked his hand under her elbow, the touch electrifying his every cell once more. He didn’t let go of her arm as he guided her up to the second flight.

He took the key and opened her door. No problems with the door knob.

“I’ve got it from here,” she said, still avoiding his eyes. Good girl, look away. If she had any sense of self-preservation, she would close the door and send him packing because he was this close to pushing her against the wall and banging her boneless.

“How did your date go tonight?”

Fuck. The self-preservation thing goes both ways, bischero.

There was that flare of anger again. He wished she’d come right out and say what she was mad about.

“I didn’t know Cara was going to bring Darian.”

“So, a pleasant surprise. A doctor.” Merda, that came out sarcastic, which, to be honest, he meant it to be. Judging by the freeze-his-nuts stare she aimed his way, she took it in that same spirit.

            “Think I don’t have it in me to date someone smart like that?”

“Don’t use that card, Jules. You have it in you to get anyone you want. I just don’t think that guy’s right for you.”


Because he’s not me.

None of those idiots understood the first thing about her. Tad did, though. He knew that sometimes she felt dumb because the words on the page refused to cooperate for her. He knew that she had spent her childhood wishing that someone, anyone would see her. He knew she had fought like a tigress to get here so she could provide the best life possible for Evan.

Tad had been there from the beginning, shoulder at the ready for her tears, hand outstretched so she could crush it while delivering Evan. Fancy diplomas, fat bank balances, a McMansion in Schaumburg—none of these things qualified them for shit where this woman was concerned.

“He’s just looking for a housewife to support him and pump out his kids while he does his important job.”

“Wow, you got all this from watching me flirt with him?”

He could feel his teeth mashed together like a trash compactor and he spat out the next words with trouble. “Conor’s no good for you either, so you can forget about that.”

“What’s his problem, then? He owns his own bar, saves people from burning buildings… Oh, is that it?” She kicked off her shoes, an angry smirk crinkling the corner of her mouth as one of the heels hit the leg of her coffee table with a satisfying thud. “You don’t think guys who save lives are good enough for me. You’re not exactly saving any lives when you pair that silky Pinot with the aged manchego.”

As insults go, it was pretty tame, but the sharpness in his chest registered the unintended blow. Saving lives was the last thing he was qualified for.

“I’m just trying to look out for you, Jules.”

“That’s a neat trick. You move your lips and Jack’s words come out. I’ve already told you I don’t need another brother.”

She might not need a brother but she needed a protector. Someone who could be with her through the tough times, who understood the meaning of sacrifice and family. Someone not like him.

But he could be her friend. “What happened to get you so upset tonight?”

Her brows drew together over eyes sparking with determination. “I realized I have to take what I need and fight for what’s mine.”

Whoa, if he wasn’t turned on before, he sure as hell was now. Mine. He loved how that sounded on her lips, even though he had no idea what she was yammering on about. She was grabbing something by the balls—her destiny, perhaps, and he was man enough to say, she had him by the balls as well.

The smoky lines around eyes dark with emotion hit him like a shot of moonshine. Every hair, and more, stood to attention at the sight of her Cabernet-red lips in that beautiful bow shape that would look so perfect trailing scorching kisses across his chest and beyond. Warmth washed through his veins. The edge of desire rose up to meet him and he embraced it fully.

He was only human.

She padded toward him, showcasing the sultry sway of her hips even without the sparkly fuck-me heels. Her eyes turned to shadowy emeralds like the pupils had swallowed the usual sea-green brightness. He recognized that look. He had seen it the other night in the wake of his kiss. Except for one difference: Juliet Kilroy, his friend, hot MILF, was now seducing him.

She brushed by him and closed her fist over the doorknob. Looked like her difficulties with the open/close thing were a thing of the past. Drawing the door ajar a few inches, she speared him with a look that might have flattened a lesser man.

“I’m giving you a choice. You can walk out this door and pretend there isn’t something happening between us or you can stay and give me what I need.”

His cock thickened and grew achy. “What do you need, Jules?”

“You. Inside me. All night.”

Oh, sweet Jesus.

He held her green tilty gaze, aiming to infuse his next words with cut-the-bull clarity. “I’m not like the others, those men you’ve been dating, the ones who slobbered all over you tonight. I’m not boyfriend material.”

“That’s not what you offered, though, was it?”

Leaning past her shoulder, he pressed the door shut, the snick short and final.


“That’s not what I offered.”

About the author:
Kate Meader writes contemporary romance that serves up delicious food, sexy heroes, and heroines with a dash of sass. Originally from Ireland, she now makes her home in Chicago, a city made for food, romance, and laughter - and where she met her own sexy hero. When not writing about men who cook and the women who drool over them, she works in an academic library. Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter @kittymeader
Social Media Links:

Hot and Bothered was originally released as e-book.
Read My Review HERE

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Baby For Keeps by Janice Maynard

A woman and baby walk into a bar…
It might sound like a joke, but saloon owner Dylan Kavanagh knows it's all too serious. Struggling single mom Mia Larin needs him. She helped him when they were young, and the bachelor means to do everything in his power to protect Mia and her child. Giving her a job, a room under his own roof, is easy. Keeping it all about business isn't….
Dylan is a successful, eligible catch, but are Mia's feelings just a case of hero worship? Or will she still need him, still want him, once her circumstances change?

While this was a super-fast read, it wasn’t was of my favorites. It’s wasn’t one of the worst romances I’ve read. It just didn’t gel with me.
Mia is this super-smart woman who’s returned to her hometown with her infant daughter. Although for someone having an IQ near 170, Mia made some pretty stupid decisions that just sort of grated on my nerves.
Dylan has always felt like an outcast because of his dyslexia and he always felt a bit unworthy of Mia. That was another thing that drove me up the wall. Yes, he has a learning disability and yes, Mia is super-smart, but it wasn’t enough to be the catalyst for the conflict.
The chemistry between them was amazing and lifelike, but the conflict made the book feel a little flat. Also, I would have like it if the plot would have been checked for consistency. While it was little details like one person holding the baby then mysteriously another person had the baby, it still drove me mad.  
Overall, it was a cute little read with flaws that drove me up the wall. I liked the premise of a smart heroine and I wish the author would have stuck with that instead of having her to make stupid decisions throughout the book


Book Details
Title: Baby For Keeps
Billionaires and Babies
Author: Janice Maynard
Publisher: Harlequin Desire
Category: Passion
ISBN: 978-0-373-73320-0
Format I read: Mass-Market Paperback $5.25
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 Cups

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kitchen Success: Bloomin’ Onion Bread

Hello lovelies! I hope you all are well! It has been a crazy few days around here.
Friday, I decided to try my hand at tumbling down the stairs on my bottom. Other than a lovely little eggplant-colored bruise on my derriere and a pulled muscle, the only thing that was injured was my pride. Honestly, if falling up—and down—the steps were an Olympic sport, I would be the gold medalist.
I was supposed to post an guest post today although it didn’t arrive so I’m scramble mode today so I thought I would share with you a recipe I tried out.

A few weeks ago, I finally got around to trying the Bloomin’ Onion Bread that the wickedly talented Anna @ Herding Cats and Burning Soup whipped up. To see the recipe click HERE
I did switch out a few things. I used a Rustic Tuscan loaf and the orphan Irish cheeses that I had left over from another dish that I made. Rather than using butter, I used about ½ cup of olive oil, which I brushed on.

Oh, my buttered buns, this was delicious. It was the perfect starter and I loved the medley of cheese flavors. Each piece was divinely cheesy. Next time I try this, I’m going to make it with a pasta dish and add in a bit garlic powder to the olive oil.


Monday, January 19, 2015

The New Year's Bride by Kit Morgan

Sheriff Spencer Riley and his mother recently ordered his big brother Clayton a mail order bride for Christmas. Too bad neither one of them bothered to tell Clayton, so imagine his surprise, and Spencer thought it to be one of the funniest things ever...until it happened to him! "After all," his mother told him. "If Clayton can have a mail order bride for Christmas, why can't you have one for New Year's?" So much for the annual scarf and mitten set she usually got for him this time of year! Just what sort of mail order bride was HE going to get?
Elle Barstow spent most of her life at Winslow's Orphanage but now it was time to leave and either find a job (of which there were none) become a mail order bride, or take to the streets of New Orleans and hope for the best. Becoming a mail order bride looked like the safest option, but Elle soon learned things don't always go the way we think they will. Unwittingly involved in a horrendous encounter before she leaves New Orleans, Elle can't possibly marry her future husband when she doesn't know if she's considered guilty of murder! She figures her only chance is to avoid the law, not to mention her future husband, until she finds out what really happened. Easier said than done. Her future husband IS the law!

Rather than getting a scarf and mittens for Christmas, Sheriff Spencer Riley—thanks to his meddling mother—is getting a mail-order bride. Having seen the success that his brother, Clayton, had with his mail-order bride, Spencer’s not really complaining.  Although he can tell that something other than marriage is on Elle’s mind.
Elle thought she was seeking safety by becoming a mail-order bride, but she has a small problem. She’s possibly guilty of committing murder and her husband’s the sheriff.
This was a cute, clean, little romance. Having met Spencer in the first book, The Christmas Mail Order Bride, I was interested in reading his story. Sadly, this book was just okay. Some parts of the plot were rushed while other parts were so slow I felt my eyes glazing over.
The interaction between Ellen and Spencer was very limited. He spent most of his time mooning over how beautiful she was and she spent most of her time agonizing over the fact she may have killed someone and her husband-to-be was going to arrest her. If it would have focused on building the relationship between Elle and Spencer the book would have been leaps and bounds better.
Overall, the book was a quick read. The only spark between the characters was a very chaste kiss in front of the fire. While I wasn’t expecting a shag-me-on-the-kitchen-table romance, I was expecting at least some chemistry.



Read my review of: The Christmas Mail OrderBride

Book Details
Title: The New Year's Bride
Holiday Mail Order Brides Book 2
Author: Kit Morgan
Publisher: Angel Creek Press
Format: e-book
Source: Purchased via Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Cups

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Antique Store Finds: A Victorian Windsor Twist Bar Spoon

Saturday, I had some errands to run so I figured that if I had to brave the -19 temperatures, I was going to treat myself to a stop at my favorite antique shop, Memories Gate. It’s like Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders and the Antiques Road Show all crammed into one amazing place of never-ending delight.
I wanted to pick up a few pieces of vintage flatware that I could turn into spoon rings. I know, it’s okay to cringe, my mother does every time I tell her of my *intentions* to make said spoon rings. And while I did find and purchase some amazing silver spoons (don’t worry, I will not be turning these little lovelies into jewelry as the ones I picked up are antiques all made before 1915) I also purchased what I thought was a teaspoon.

Turns out, my ‘teaspoon’ that I purchased for a dollar, is actually a small Victorian bar spoon called a Windsor Twist Bar Spoon made by Rogers Bros. I couldn’t read the maker’s mark on the back because the spoon was so tarnished, but after a little bit of scrubbing (check out my helpful hint at the bottom to see how to clean your silver), I managed to see the mark then start my search.
The spoon is from the 1880's, and was used to make drinks and cocktails. Essential to the Victorian bar, the bowl of each Windsor Twist spoon (regardless of the length of the handle) is equivalent to a teaspoon and was used to measure the ingredients for mixed drinks. The twist handle design aided in the stirring as well as the blending of the drink and when the drink was served, the spoon was left in it.
While I can’t find the exact year my spoon was made ,I know that it was made sometime between 1880-1886 as the spoon in shown in the1886-87 Meriden Britannia Catalog.

My spoon is the second from the left.

Here’s a few drinks the small Windsor Twist Bar Spoon was used to make
According to volume 17 of the 1903 “Wine and Spirit Bulletin”, the small spoon was used to make the “Old Fashioned Cocktail”:
“Crush in small bar glass one lump sugar, put in two dashes Schroeder’s bitters, piece twisted lemon peel, two or three small lumps of ice, one jigger whisky. Stir and serve with small bar spoon in glass.”
1888 Whiskey Smash
I also picked up 10 pieces (A 14inch serving platter, 3 dinner plates, and 6 orphan saucers) in the Blue English Village Pattern by Olde Staffordshire for a song. It was on sale and I paid $15 for the entire set. So that means I paid $1.50 for each piece.

Spoons I picked up for a dollar a piece.


Helpful hint

When you come across tarnished silver, the worst thing to clean it with is chemicals. The best way to clean silver is with ketchup and table salt. Dip and rag in ketchup then into the salt and then scrub your silver until tarnish is removed. Rinse with lukewarm water and dry with a soft cloth.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Aftershock by Jill Shalvis

If it hadn’t been for the earthquake, Amber Riggs would never have made love to a perfect stranger. And no doubt about it, fire inspector Dax McCall was perfect. Who else could have taught her the meaning of passion at a time like that?
Still, when Amber ran into him a year later she wasn’t sure how he’d react. To her…or their three-month-old baby. She hadn’t meant to keep the news from Dax, but he’d been out of town, and she’d been sort of relieved. After all, how do you tell the perfect man he has a perfect baby girl with a woman he doesn’t know from Eve?

Amber Riggs is an uptight—and if I’m being honest, annoying—relator. Dax McCall is a carefree and handsome fire inspector who never once thought about settling down. When an earthquake traps the two strangers together, they—thinking their lives are ending—decide to go out shagging. After the two are rescued, they go their separate ways.
When they meet again a year later, Dax is more than a little surprised to discover that Amber had his child and never even bothered to tell him she was pregnant. Now Dax is determined to have both his daughter and Amber in his life, although Amber does everything in her power to foil his plans for their happily ever after.
I liked Dax. He’s not the type to rein in his emotions or hold back and he loves his daughter. His job as fire inspector makes him realize just how fragile life is and he doesn’t want to let the chance to create a home with Amber slip through his hands.
Amber has trust issues because of her past and I completely understood why she’s cautious but, oh my aunt Fanny, I could not stand her. I wanted to slap her with her own book. She was determined to block out Dax and the poor guy was practically groveling at her feet.
While I liked the premise of the novel, two strangers sharing a night of passion then reuniting because of a child, but the heroine really put me off of this novel. She was determined to have a ‘poor me’ party rather than see that Dax was madly in love with her.
Sadly, Aftershock just didn’t pull me in. I started this book in the fall, judging from the fact I marked my place with a burgundy leaf, and just picked it back up Friday. I was kind of hoping that I would be lured back by the character’s siren call but sadly, I wasn’t.
Overall, the only reason I finished this book and didn’t chuck it in the bin was because of Dax. I wanted to see if he finally got his HEA. Although I will say, after having to put up with Amber and her whinging, I was kind of hoping for an epilogue, which I never got.

Book Details
Title: Aftershock
Author: Jill Shalvis
ISBN: 978-0-373-18087-5
Release Date: June/24/2014
Format I read: Mass-Market Paperback
$6.99 U.S./ $7.99 CAN.
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 Cups

Seeing as the temperature was -25 Friday and my house is the worst house in the world to heat, I spent the majority of the day curled up in my big comfy chair reading (and drinking tea) and I finally managed to get started on my Conquering ‘The Box’ Personal Reading Challenge.

Aftershock is the first book I’ve finished in my Conquering ‘The Box’ Personal Reading Challenge.  Click on the picture to check out my progress.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Personal Reading Challenge: Conquering 'The Box'

ß See that over there where the arrow is pointing? That is ‘THE BOX’ *cue dramatic music* that I mean to conquer before the year’s over. If I can manage it before summer rolls around, all the better.
What’s in this box you ask. Well, it’s filled with romance books that I purchased last year and never got around to reading. Some of these are books that I’ve purchased because of blog recommendations. Other’s I’ve picked up because I liked the storylines or the covers caught my eyes or it was from a new line that I was trying out. Then there are some that just sort of jumped in my shopping cart on their own free will.
'The Box'
I. Will. Conquer. This. Box.  While this is my own personal reading challenge, some of the titles will fit perfectly in other reading challenges that I’ve joined in on, which works out rather nicely.
Contents of 'The Box'

There's so many yummy books in ‘The Box’ that I am just itching to read and two that I’ve started on, Aftershock by Jill Shalvis and Loving Rose by Stephanie Laurens.


My Goal:

Since ‘The Box’ contains 33 books, I would like to have 5-8 read and reviewed by Lent, which falls on 2/18. And the remainder of the books finished by the end of the year, although preferably by summer.

If I don’t meet my goal of 5-8 books by 2/18, I will be giving up buying books for Lent.

That means if I don’t meet my goal, I will not be purchasing books for 40 days.


Books that I've Read from 'The Box'

1-Aftershock by Jill Shalvis
2-The Child They Didn't Expect
3-Expecting The CEO's Child