Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review: New York Debut (Carter House Girls #6) by Melody Carlson (Excerpt Included)

Title: New York Debut (Carter House Girls, Book 6)
Author: Melody Carlson
Pages: 224
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2009)
Genre: Fiction / Teen Fiction / Christian
Edition: Paperback - Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy for this WildCard Tour!



Perfect for : Personal reading, great gift/read for teen girls, probably a good book for parents of teenage girls to read as well (gain some insight into today's teens!!)

In a nutshell: I was recently asked if I could recommend any "edgy" Christian fiction for young adult girls, and I have to say that New York Debut by Melody Carlson is just that (my niece even confirmed it!). This is the sixth book in the Carter House series. Carter House is a boarding house for teenage girls, and in this book, the girls are coming back from winter break, getting ready to head back to school, and are preparing to participate as models in New York's Fashion Week for one of the designers. The thing that makes this series so great is that the author has created teenage girls that have real-life problems. This book tackles issues like teenage drinking, eating disorders and peer pressure, and provides responsible actions and consequences (helping a friend enter rehab, encouraging another friend to eat healthier and know that she is perfect the way she is, police involvement and house arrest and consequences for girls who throw a party and sneak in alcohol, etc). And to make it even better, there is a bit of faith interspersed throughout the book in a way that is subtle and not overdone, girls who simply say, "I've been praying for you" can really make a statement to the girls reading this book. I love what this book stands for and the message Melody Carlson is giving today's girls - add that girls actually enjoy reading these books and you've got a great combination!

Extended Review:

Characters: The girls in the book talk and act in ways that today's girls can relate to and understand. A few of the girls are bent on making it through life the hard way, and they act as a good backdrop within the book to show the "good" choices that some of the other girls are making.

Story-Line: I can still remember being wrapped up in my own world as a teen, thinking that my parents knew NOTHING about what I was going through. I wish I could have been reading books like this one, where the story shows girls making tough choices (both good and bad), and having to deal with the consequences, and learning from each other, as well as getting a little exposure to faith, and knowing that it is ok to pray and lean on faith, even as a teen.

Readability: This is a young adult/teen book, and as such, it is written to a level that teen girls will be able to relate to. I enjoyed the book as an adult, but read it knowing that it was a teen fiction book.

Overall: This is a great book for teen girls (and adults), that will help impart the importance of making good choices, while allowing the reader to understand that making the wrong choice will result in consequences. I especially like that Melody Carlson has taken this opportunity to tackle some of the tough issues faced by today's teens. Note: this is the sixth book in the Carter House series, and I had no trouble reading it without having read the other books, but I would like to have read the other books as well.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


New York Debut (Carter House Girls)

Zondervan (May 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past ten years, she has published more than a hundred books for children, teens, and adults, with sales totaling more than 2.5 million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List.

Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards including The Gold Medallion, The Christy, and The Rita Award. And most recently she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.
She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714931
ISBN-13: 978-0310714934

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“Where is Taylor?” asked Grandmother as she drove DJ home from the airport.
”Is she coming on a later flight?”

DJ hadn’t told her the whole story yet. In fact, she hadn’t said much of anything to Grandmother at all during the past week, except to leave a message saying that she’d changed her flight and planned to be home two days earlier than expected. Obviously, Grandmother had assumed that Taylor had changed her plans as well.

“Taylor’s in LA,” DJ said slowly, wishing she could add something to that, something to deflect further questioning.

“Visiting her father?”

“No…”

“Touring with Eva?”

“No…”
“What then?” Grandmother’s voice was getting irritated as she drove away from the terminal. “Where is the girl, Desiree? Speak up.”

“She’s in rehab.”

“Rehab?” Grandmother turned to stare at DJ with widened eyes. “Whatever for?”

“For alcohol treatment.”

Grandmother seemed stunned into speechlessness, which was a relief since DJ didn’t really want to discuss this. She was still trying to grasp the whole strange phenomenon. It was hard to admit, but the past few days of being mostly by herself in Las Vegas had been lonely and depressing and one of the reasons she’d been desperate to change her flight and come home early. She had really missed Taylor. The hardest part was when she discovered that Taylor wasn’t allowed any communication from outside the rehab facility. This concerned DJ. No cell phone calls, email, or anything. It seemed weird. Although DJ was praying for her roommate, she was worried. What if it wasn’t a reputable place? What if Taylor never came back? What if something bad happened to her? Not only would DJ blame herself, she figured everyone else would too.

Finally Grandmother spoke. “Did you girls get into some kind of trouble in Las Vegas, Desiree?”

“No…”

“I want you to be honest with me. Did something happen to precipitate this?”

“The only thing that happened is that Taylor came to grips with the fact that she has a serious drinking problem. If you’ll remember, I tried to let you in on this some time ago.”

“Yes, I remember the vodka bottle. I simply assumed it was a one-time occurrence.”

“I told you otherwise.”

“Well, I know that girls will be girls, Desiree. You can’t have spent as much time as I in the fashion industry and not know this.”

“Were you ever like that?” asked DJ. “I mean that girls will be girls bit?”

Grandmother cleared her throat. “I wasn’t an angel, Desiree, if that’s what you’re hinting at. However, I did understand the need for manners and decorum. I witnessed numerous young women spinning out of control. Beautiful or not, a model won’t last long if she is unable to work.”

“Isn’t that true with everything?”

“Yes…I suppose. How long is Taylor going to be in…this rehabilitation place?”

“I don’t know. You should probably call her mom.”

“Oh, dear…that’s something else I hadn’t considered. Certainly Eva Perez won’t be blaming me for her daughter’s, well, her drinking problem.”
“Eva is fully aware that Taylor had this drinking problem long before she came to Carter House.”

“Good.” Grandmother sighed and shook her head. “I just hope her treatment won’t prevent her from participating in Fashion Week. That would be a disaster.”

“Seems like it would be a worse disaster if Taylor didn’t get the help she needs.”

“Yes, of course, that goes without saying. But I would think that a week or two should be sufficient. Goodness, just how bad can a problem get when you’re only seventeen?”

DJ shrugged, but didn’t say anything. The truth was she thought it could get pretty bad, and in Taylor’s case it was bad. And it could’ve gotten worse. To think that Taylor had been drinking daily and DJ never even knew it.

“It’s just as well you came home early, Desiree,” said Grandmother as she turned onto the parkway. “Already Casey and Rhiannon are back. And Kriti is supposed to return tomorrow. Eliza will be back on New Year’s Eve.”

“I’m surprised she didn’t want to stay in France for New Year’s.”

“As am I. If I were over there, I’d certainly have booked a room in Paris. Nothing is more spectacular than fireworks over the City of Light. But apparently Eliza has plans with her boyfriend. Imagine—giving up Paris for your boyfriend!”

Of course, DJ knew that Eliza’s life of lavish luxury didn’t mean all that much to her. Like a poor little rich girl, Eliza wanted a slice of “normal.” Well, normal with a few little extras like good shoes, designer bags, and her pretty white Porsche.

“It’s good to be home,” DJ proclaimed as her grandmother turned into the driveway.

“It’s good to hear you say that,” said Grandmother.

And it was the truth. After a week in Vegas, DJ was extremely thankful to be back. Maybe for the first time, Carter House did feel like a home. She couldn’t wait to see Casey and Rhiannon.

“Welcome back,” called Casey as she opened the door, dashed out onto the porch, and hugged DJ. “Need some help with those bags?”

“Thanks.” DJ studied Casey for a moment, trying to figure out what had changed. “Your hair!”

Casey picked up one of DJ’s bags then grinned as she gave her strawberry blond hair a shake. “Like it?”

“It’s the old you—only better.”

“My mom talked me into it. The black was a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

“I think you look fantastic. And that choppy layered cut is very cute.”

“Your grandmother approved it too. And I got highlights.”

DJ touched her own hair. “Taylor had been nagging me to get mine redone. But it was so expensive in Vegas. I figured I’d do it here.”

Casey lowered her voice. “So how’d your grandmother take the news about Taylor?”

DJ stopped at the foot of the stairs and stared at Casey. “Did Rhiannon tell you everything?”
“Yeah, is it supposed to be a big secret?” Casey made a hurt face now. “I was wondering why you told Rhiannon and not me. I thought we were friends, DJ.”

“I didn’t mean to, but I sort of spilled the beans with Rhiannon because I was so desperate and didn’t know what to do at the time. But then I felt bad. I mean it was possible that Taylor wanted to keep it private, you know?”

Casey nodded somberly. “Yeah, I guess I do know.”

“You should.” After all, it had only been a few months since they had intervened with Casey in regard to her pain pill snitching.

“So, are you saying mum’s the word?”

“Until Taylor comes back. Don’t you think it’s up to her to say something or not?”

“Yeah. I can just imagine Eliza with that tasty little morsel of gossip. It’d be all over the school in no time.”

“Speaking of Eliza, that means Kriti too.”

“Kriti just got here about an hour ago.” Casey paused, nodding toward the room that Kriti and Eliza shared. The taxi dropped her and she went straight to her room. But something seems wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure. She just looks different. Kind of unhappy. I mean she didn’t even say hello or anything.”

“Maybe she was missing her family.”

“Maybe, but my guess is it’s something more.”

“We should probably try harder to reach out to her and make her feel at home.”

“You’re here!” Rhiannon burst out of the room and threw her arms around DJ. “Welcome home!”

“Man, it is so good to be back. Vegas—for more than a day or two—is a nightmare.”

“At least you got a tan,” observed Rhiannon. She glanced at Casey. “Both of you, in fact.”

“It’s that California sun.”

“Don’t make me envious,” said Rhiannon.

“Hey, look at you,” said DJ as she noticed that Rhiannon had on a very cool outfit. “Is that new?”

“Old and new. My great aunt gave me some of her old clothes and I’ve been altering them.” She held out her hands and turned around to make the long circular skirt spin out. “Fun, huh?”

“And cool,” said DJ.

“She’s got all kinds of stuff,” said Casey. “Hats and costume jewelry and scarves and things. I told her she should open a retro shop and get rich.”

“Maybe I will someday.”

“Or just sell things here in Carter House,” suggested DJ. “Between Eliza and Taylor’s clothing budget, you could clean up.”

“Oh, yeah, DJ, Conner just called,” said Rhiannon. “They just got back from their ski trip and he said he tried your cell a few times, but it seemed to be turned off.”

“More like dead. My flight was so early this morning, I forgot to charge it.”

“Well, I told him you’d call.”

Casey set DJ’s bag inside her door. “Speaking of boys, I think I’ll check and see how Garrison is doing—find out if he missed me or not.” She touched her hair. “Do you think he’ll like it?”

“How could he not,” said Rhiannon. “It’s so cool.”

“Later,” called Casey as she headed for her room.

“So, how’s Taylor?” asked Rhiannon quietly.

“You didn’t tell Kriti, did you?” whispered DJ, pulling Rhiannon into her room then closing the door.

“No, why would I?”

“I just wanted to be sure. I think we need to respect Taylor’s privacy with this.”

“Absolutely. So, have you talked to her?”

“They won’t let me. They have this no communication policy. No email, cell phones…nothing. It’s like a black hole. Weird.”

Rhiannon nodded. “Yeah, it was like that with my mom at first. I think they wanted to keep her cut off from any bad connections. Then after a while, you earn communication privileges.”

“Oh, that’s a relief. I was really worried.”

“I still can hardly believe Taylor went willingly.”

“Yeah, our strong-willed wild child…putting herself into rehab.” DJ shook her head.

“That remind me, Seth has called a few times too. He wanted to know why Taylor’s cell was off and where she was.”

“What’d you say?”

“That I didn’t know.” She shrugged. “Actually, that was the truth.”

“But nothing else?”
“No.”

“Good. I mean it’s not like we need to keep it top secret, but until we hear from Taylor, let’s not talk about it.”

“Sure.” Rhiannon put a hand on DJ’s shoulder. “And don’t worry about her, DJ. She’ll be fine.”
“I know.” DJ nodded as she put her bags on her bed and started to unzip them. But as soon as Rhiannon left, DJ wasn’t so sure. What if Taylor wasn’t fine? What if something had gone wrong? And what if it was all DJ’s fault?


If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Review: Fix, Freeze, Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik

Title: Fix, Freeze, Feast: Prepare in Bulk and Enjoy by the Serving - More than 125 Recipes
Author: Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik
Pages: 250
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; illustrated edition edition (November 7, 2007)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Cooking
Edition: Hardback - many thanks to the authors for sending me a copy to review!



Perfect for : Personal Use, Hostess Gift

In a nutshell: The authors, Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik, have written a cookbook that is based on warehouse shopping (Costco, Samsclub, etc) so that you can save money and prepare more than one meal to put in the freezer for later use. Plus, the recipes use the entire tray of meat (or other warehouse items), so you aren't stuck with leftover pieces of meat that you have to quickly cook or freeze. With recipes like: Chicken Cordon Bleu (makes 12 rolls), Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips (Makes 3 Entrees, about 12 strips each), Tequila-Lime Chicken (Makes 3 Entrees, 4 servings each. View pdf recipe here), Mozzarella Meatballs (Makes 6 entrees, about 20 meatballs each), Pumpkin Muffins (Approx 3 dz), this cookbook will help you save money when shopping, as well as preparing meals that can be frozen and used when you don't have the time to prepare them from scratch. Also helpful are the items in the appendix which include a sample meal plan, shopping list, etc as well as labels that can be copied and used on the freezer packages to make cooking easy!

Extended Review:
The front of the book contains a lot of great information for new and expert freezer cooks! From getting organized and planning your menu, to solutions if you miss an ingredient, or want to prevent ice crystals from forming on the food in the freezer!

Content: From the table of contents: Warehouse Shopping, Family Cooking, Becoming a Warehouse Gourmet, Chicken Main Dishes, Beef Main Dishes, Pork Main Dishes, Meatless Mains, Sides, And Soups, Sauces, Marinades and Flavored Butters, Breakfast, Snacks and Sweets, Branching Out, Appendixes, Resource List, and an Index.

Format: Each recipe starts with a short description, then shares the number of entrees/dishes the recipe will make, along with the servings per dish. (Example: The recipe for Baked Potato Chowder will result in 4 entrees of 6 servings each, or a total of 24 servings.) The recipe then shows you the items you will need, with the warehouse (bulk) items in bold, including packaging items as well (baking dishes, wrap, foil, etc). Next are detailed instructions on preparing the dishes, and finally, how to cook each dish after thawing. Some recipes include extra tips at the bottom. Some also include alternate cooking methods (indoor/outdoor cooking, crock pot/stove, etc).

Readability: The entire book is written in an easily read and understood way.

Overall: This is a great way to cook meals ahead of time for those days you are short on time but still want to save money and avoid fast-food. The back of the book includes a section of instructions that can be copied and taped onto the frozen dishes to make finishing them even easier!

From Amazon:
Millions of shoppers save money buying groceries in bulk — trays of boneless chicken breasts, pairs of flank steaks, and flats of ripe tomatoes. But savings can quickly become losses if those bulk quantities spoil in the refrigerator or lie forgotten — unlabeled and unrecognizable under layers of ice crystals — in the back of the freezer.

Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik have built businesses teaching home cooks how to take advantage of bulk savings by shopping wisely; converting food purchases into delicious, healthful family dinners; and labeling and storing the meals for easy access on busy days. They share all their best recipes and organizational wisdom in Fix, Freeze, Feast, a cookbook every price-conscious shopper will love, and warehouse club members shouldn't be without. With their help, home cooks will have freezers stocked with easy-to-prepare entrées, ready to be defrosted and cooked for weeknight family dinners. Imagine the comfort of knowing a homecooked meal is always available.

Each recipe includes instructions for dividing, preparing, and storing the raw ingredients, and a second set of simple directions for thawing, cooking, and enjoying the food. Designed for the way people cook today, Fix, Freeze, Feast meals are lighter and fresher than traditional bulk-cooking recipes, with a focus on simple stews and stir-fries, quick grilled or broiled main courses, and popular ethnic meals such as Beef Fajitas and Cashew Chicken Stir-fry.

Add to the entrées ready-to-bake cookie doughs, warming soups and side dishes, fruit smoothies, and portable kids' snacks, and those warehouse club shopping trips begin to look more valuable than ever. This is a system that saves time, saves money, and saves families from the empty calories of takeout food. Make room in the freezer for next week's dinner!






About the Author: (From the Fix, Freeze, Feast website)
Meet Kati Neville

Q. Where did you grow up? And, how did that influence your cooking?
A. I grew up in Iowa and wasn't exposed to very much culinary adventuring. I was a picky eater too, which only reinforced my lack of exposure to new flavors. I only began cooking and exploring new flavors after moving to the west coast. I'm enjoying making up for lost time.

Q. How do you develop your recipes?
A. That's changed over the years as I've become more experienced as a cook. I used to follow recipes to the "T." But now I'm much more free form. For example, I have a new spice blend in my cupboard right now. I really want to try it. Since I read so many cookbooks and magazines, I'll start collecting recipes to see what others are doing with this particular ingredient and begin experimenting on my own until I've perfected a recipe for the freezer and my family's tastes.

Q. What can cooks learn from Fix, Freeze, Feast?
A. Our primary goal is to offer cooks an updated, refreshed look at freezer cooking (the process of making meals ahead for the freezer). I own a couple of cookbooks from the 1950s that have specific chapters on these methods, so it's not a new concept at all.

What IS new from Fix, Freeze, Feast, is that we're going beyond casseroles. Whenever someone talks about freezer cooking, they think of casseroles and clumpy white sauces. We're offering cooks more modern recipes.

And finally, we present our recipes on the most common products and package sizing offered at warehouse clubs. The majority of people we know who are members at warehouse clubs, purchase many groceries there. To our knowledge, there is no other resource like ours that tells people specifically how to divide those large packages so they maximize their card savings.

Meet Lindsay Tkacsik

Q. Where did you grow up? And, how did that influence your cooking?
A. I grew up in a small coastal city in northern British Columbia. Although a small city, it is home to many different racial and ethnic groups, including First Nations, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Vietnamese, and East Indian. You can find your favorite ethnic cuisine in its restaurants and a wide variety of exotic ingredients in its grocery stores. Fishing is a major industry, and that means there is an abundance of freshly caught – and often free - seafood to enjoy. I have learned to appreciate a wide range of foods and flavors.

Q. Do you love to cook?
A. I do love to cook! Sometimes the daily grind takes the fun out of getting dinner on the table, though. That's why I love this method so much. Night after night, preparation for dinner is so minimal that time is no longer an issue. I have energy and enthusiasm to spare, and often experiment with new foods.

Q. How do you develop your recipes?
A. As I mention in the book, many of my recipes were developed in an effort to mimic favorite restaurant meals at a time when we had no restaurant budget. I have also worked on having a full repertoire of family friendly, simple recipes that please every member of the family.

Q. What was your worst cooking experience?
A. I can think of many. Along the way to becoming a confident cook, I made numerous mistakes.

Once as a teenager, I wanted to make French fries. I burned the oil so I took the whole pan and set it in the sink – turned on the cold water and…what a disaster! Cold water hitting the hot oil made a huge mess. I had to clean it up quickly before the evidence of my deep frying escapade was discovered (sorry Auntie Darlene).

My worst cooking incident came out of the mistaken notion that I could simply multiply every ingredient in a recipe in order to make a bigger batch of soup. Let me tell you, no matter how large the recipe, you will never need a half a cup of cumin in anything. That huge batch of soup was buried in a hole in the backyard.


If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Review: Holly Clegg's Trim and Terrific Gulf Coast Favorites by Holly Clegg

Title: Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Gulf Coast Favorites
Author: Holly Clegg
Photography: David Humphreys
Pages: 272
Publisher: Holly Clegg (September 1, 2008)
Genre: Non-Ficiton / Cookbook
Edition: Pardback - many thanks to the author for sending me a copy to review! Thanks Holly!!



Perfect for : Personal Use, Hostess Gift, Gift

In a nutshell: If the nutritional information was not included, I wouldn't know that these recipes were really healthy!! They scream decadence! This book is beautiful - the pictures are amazing, and the book is well-organized. Holly Clegg has included over 250 recipes with Gulf Coast flair. . . only better - they are easy to make for people who want more time to spend with family and friends, and they are healthy! These recipes are versatile - they will work for normal home-cooked meals as well as for entertaining. Some of my personal favorites: Stuffed Louisiana Potatoes, Sweet Potato Fries, Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa, Marinated Chicken with Roasted Tomato Topping and Mozzarella Cheese (see recipe from the author's website below), and White Chocolate Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

The author has included icons to indicate if a recipe is vegetarian or if it is freezer-friendly, as well as "Terrific Tidbits" that provide tips and suggestions, along with nutritional information for each recipe. There is a section at the end of the book that provides suggestions for a well-stocked kitchen (pantry, refrigerator, freezer, etc), menu suggestions based on the recipes (even for leftovers!!) and a glossary of terms. Overall, this is a very helpful book that would also make a great gift. I only wish every single recipe had a photo!!

Extended Review:
Content: The book includes chapters for the following: an Introduction, Appetizers, Breads, Muffins and Brunch, Soups, Stews and Chilis, Salads, Vegetables and Sides, Seafood, Poultry and Game Bird, Beef, Pork, Veal and Venison, Pasta, Sweet Treats, Stock the Pantry, Menu Suggestions, Cajun/Creole Glossary, and an Index.

Format: Each chapter starts with a full-color photograph of a completed recipe, along with a listing of the recipes in the section and the corresponding pages. It also contains a fact about Wetlands.

Each recipe includes the number of servings, a short description, a list of ingredients, easy to follow instructions, and nutritional information (including a diabetic exchange). A recipe will have a symbol at the top if it is vegetarian, or if it is freezer-friendly, and some have "Terrific Tidbits" or helpful information that pertains to the recipe.

Readability: Holly Clegg has written a very easy to read cookbook. The instructions are clear, and the information is helpful.

Overall: One thing that I really love about this cookbook is the cover - not only is it a beautiful thick and glossy cover, while it is a paperback, it has flaps like a dust-cover that you can use to mark your page - this is SO helpful if you don't want to break the spine of the cookbook to keep it open, or to mark a favorite recipe. Add over 250 healthy and scrumptious recipes, and you have a cookbook that is sure to please everyone's taste buds, and help with any situation from everyday meals to entertaining.

From the Author's website:
Over 250 easy, healthy, and delicious recipes from my Louisiana kitchen!!

If you enjoyed Holly's Trim & Terrific Louisiana Kitchen, Holly's new book will quickly become one of your favorites....featuring regional specialities and new recipes that take advantage of the bountiful seafood of the region. This book highlights America's Wetlands with a portion of the proceeds to go to the America's Wetlands Foundation.


Sample Recipe (From the author's website):

Marinated Chicken with Roasted Tomato Topping and Mozzarella Cheese

Broiled, marinated chicken topped with mild green chilies, fresh tomatoes, spinach, and mozzarella cheese makes a quick and dynamic dinner.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
6 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped green chilies, drained
1 cup grape or cherry tomato halves
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions
1. In resealable plastic bag, combine lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, paprika. Add chicken, coat well. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to cook.

2. Preheat broiler. Line baking pan with foil. Place chicken breasts on pan, discard extra marinade. Broil chicken 7-9 minutes on each side.

3. In nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté onion, garlic until tender, 5 minutes. Add green chilies, tomatoes, sauté few minutes longer. Add spinach, cooking only until leaves are wilted. Season to taste.

4. Divide mixture on top of each chicken breast, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Return to broiler, broil only until cheese is melted. Watch carefully.
Makes 6 servings

Food Facts

Calories 159
Calories from fat 14%
Fat 3 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 70 mg
Sodium 148 mg
Carbohydrate 4 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 2 g
Protein 28 g
Diabetic Exchanges: 3 1/2 very lean meat

TERRIFIC TIDBIT: Instead of white balsamic, try the different flavored Nakano seasoned rice vinegars, such as pesto or red pepper, for a lively flavor.

About the Author: (From the author's website)
Holly Clegg, the "Queen of Quick." is author of the trim&TERRIFIC" cookbook series including a diabetic cookbook with the ADA, Eating Well Through Cancer and KIDS COOKING for Mommies with more than 850,000 copies in print, reigning supreme when it comes to healthy, delicious everyday meals and party fare.

Turned off by both diets and tasteless foods, Holly's mission is to give cooks the ability to put a delicious, healthier meal on the table in a time-friendly manner.

As Holly adds cookbooks to her trim&TERRIFIC series, her "never sacrifice taste" philosophy remains intact. Her message is simple: food that is good for you can be delicious and easy to prepare. Holly's reputation for her healthier approach continually garners national media coverage. Holly has made her fast, flavorful and healthy meals on network television shows including and Fox & Friends, NBC Weekend Today Show, The 700 Club, and D-Life on CNBC as well as major local markets nationwide. She writes for national food magazines and Internet food sites. As well as a keynote speaker, Holly also serves as the national spokeswoman for Louisiana Sweet Potatoes and has done media spokesperson work for diet Coke, Pace Salsa/Campbell's Soup, Nature Sweet Tomatoes, and Salmon of the Americas. Holly was featured in a national Teflon/DuPont nonstick ad campaign with her Trim & Terrific recipes in full page ads in national magazines including People, Self, Real Simple, Ladies Home Journal, Bon Appetit, USA Today, plus many more.

A wife and mother first, Holly understands the challenges of the busy person. Her personal experience of running a household of five inspired the subject matter for each of the trim&TERRIFIC books. Her recipes require familiar ingredients and include easy-to-follow instructions and quick tips; this combination is the main focus of her trim&TERRIFIC series.

Holly personally tests all of her recipes in her home and as a result, has three avid cooks. "Children love to cook, and if you include them, you can make positive, lasting impressions," Holly said. Based on her experience, Holly included a Kid's In The Kitchen Chapter filled with fun, delicious recipes in The New Holly Clegg trim&TERRIFIC Cookbook and has the newly released KIDS COOKING for Mommies. If you're wondering if you can really make a healthy impression on kids, Holly has proof. "My youngest child did not have a fast food hamburger until she was 15 years old, and it wasn't because I didn't allow it. I didn't have to pick up fast food for my children because I knew I could get something on the table in 30 minutes."

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday Thinger: All Your Covers (Just For Fun!!)

Welcome to another week of Tuesday Thingers! We always love to hear from regular participants as well as new people.

I was randomly (desperately searching) the site for something different and fun to look at this week, and I stumbled onto a few fun pages. One of them was a page that will show you "All Your Covers" by title, author, or date entered! Find it here. If the link doesn't work (or if it takes you to MY covers), I found it by going to Tools (tab at far right), going down to number 9, and selecting the link for All Your Covers.

Questions: Do you have any missing covers (they show as a plain gray book)? Did you have a favorite view (title, author, date entered)? Do you have any favorite covers? If so, is there anything they have in common?

My Answer: This is the first time (I think) that I've played with the All Your Covers feature on LT. I remember looking at the Photomosaic link not too long ago, but for some reason, didn't remember seeing a page that would show all my books!! :) How fun to see them all together.


I've got two missing covers among the books I've got on my shelf right now, but I haven't added all my books as LIFE happened to snowball on me since about December. I'm working on catching up, but it is slow going.

I don't really have a favorite view, although it is fun to see the books in the order I entered them in, as for many of them it was the order I read them in.


After looking over my covers in each view, I think my favorites are the ones with blues and greens, which surprises me (would have thought the covers with people on them would have been my favorites).


Next, I guess I need to find out what to do about those missing covers!!

Looking forward to reading everyone's answers!!

~ Wendi

If you are new to Tuesday Thingers: Welcome! The meme was originally created as a way to network with other bloggers and to learn about Library Thing! I'd like to encourage you to join us. If you don't know what Library Thing is - you are in a great place to learn about new things, and if you are an old pro, stick around and share your wealth of information! Visit Library Thing here. To join in, copy the picture and question into your post and link back here so people can read other responses. Make sure you leave a comment here with a link to your post so we can stop by! If you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment here!

Review: Learning to Live Financially Free by Marybeth and Curt Whalen (Excerpt Included)

Title: Learning to Live Financially Free: Hard-Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Marriage & Your Money
Author: Marybeth and Curt Whalen
Pages: 176
Publisher: Kregel Publications (February 16, 2009)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Personal Finance / General
Edition: Paperback - many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review for this WildCard Tour!



Perfect for : Personal Use, anyone who is trying to straighten out their finances or to ensure that they have a good plan in place

In a nutshell: "84% of people recently surveyed say money issues cause tension in their marriage (back cover of book)." Like so many other people, money does tend to be a source of tension in our family from time to time. This book has been a blessing to our family. Not only do the authors share their own money experiences and mistakes, but they also share what they did to turn their circumstances around, and they help you (as the reader) to take action to turn your circumstances around as well. Whether you are in debt, or you feel you are financially secure, this book will help you and your significant other ensure that you are both on the same page when talking about your money and your goals. While the book is both practical and faith-based, it is a great resource for both religious and non-religious families.

Extended Review: On pages 46-47, the authors target five main money-related topics that cause tension in marriages: communication, budgets, unexpected expenses, home purchases and spending money before you have it. They then go on to show you how important it is to communicate and understand your current finances, how to hold each other accountable, and how to build trust (and the importance of honesty). All of this great information is just an example of what you can find within a few pages of this book.

Content: From the Contents, the book includes chapters for: Finding Hope, Hitting Rock Bottom, Unloading Financial Baggage, Becoming a Team, Moving Money Mountain, Taking the Hardest Step, Learning to Live on Less, Establishing No-Matter Whats, Facing Unexpected Expenses, Avoiding the Easy Button, Experiencing the Blessings of Financial Hardship, Replacing Comparison with Contentment, Building a Financial Legacy, and Inspiring Hope for the Future.

Format: Each chapter focuses on a theme, and is supported by real-life examples that the reader can relate to or understand. The end of each chapter includes a Study section that provides pertinent scriptures, a Reflect, Discuss, Plan section that helps you look at your current situation and asks great questions, and finally there is an Action section, that helps you take action on what you have just learned throughout the chapter. This is a great, practical way to work through the book, and allows you to work on your finances in bits and pieces so it is not as overwhelming.

Readability: The book is easy to relate to and read, including many personal experiences and examples from the authors' lives.

Overall: This is a book that is filled with great real-life examples of both problems and solutions to financial issues that we face on a regular basis. The common-sense approach to money and debt is sure to be something that will help people in all stages of their finances, whether they are making ends meet, or are overwhelmed with debt.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

Marybeth and Curt Whalen

and the book:

Kregel Publications (February 16, 2009)


Marybeth Whalen is a speaker and contributing writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. The author of For the Write Reason, Marybeth has also written for Parent Life, Money Matters newsletter, The Old Schoolhouse, Hearts at Home magazine, and Homeschooling Today. She contributes regularly to the daily online devotions of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She and Curt are the parents of six children, which has taught them much about how to stretch a dollar.

Curt Whalen is a trained financial counselor through Crown Financial Concepts. He has years of experience helping couples establish budgets, solve financial problems, and learn to communicate more effectively. He has written articles for TEACH Magazine and Money Matters Newsletter and has contributed to books by authors Lysa TerKeurst and Melanie Chitwood.

Visit the authors'
website.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.69
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (February 16, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825441889
ISBN-13: 978-0825441882


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Finding Hope

Marybeth

Several years ago, my husband, Curt, and I traveled to Florida to visit my stepsister, Becky, and her husband, Chuck. Curt and I enjoyed a few days away from our kids and reconnected with family members we don’t get to see very often. One evening the four adults snuck away for a nice, leisurely dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s at Pleasure Island in Disney World. The environment was festive and fun, and all of our spirits were light as we sat around the table enjoying the sights, sounds, and delicious smells.

At one point during the conversation, we got on the subject of struggles we’d experienced in marriage. Curious as to the low points of other couples (we’ve certainly had our share!), I asked Becky and Chuck what their lowest point had been. Without even pondering, Becky blurted out, “When we didn’t have any money. Chuck had just taken a job with his dad and wasn’t making much as a starting salary. I can clearly remember one time when I went to the grocery store and my card was declined because it was maxed out. I’ll never forget having to leave my groceries behind. I felt like every eye in the store was watching me. That was the lowest point in the history of our marriage—and it took awhile for it to get better.”

Becky and Chuck’s financial situation did change. They became financially independent and now enjoy a lifestyle few people do. Yet as they sat at dinner that night—years after that difficult time—Becky could easily recall the humiliation of struggling with money. That period still haunted them and still counted as the roughest trouble they had ever faced—beyond the divorce of his parents, issues related to children, cross-country moves, and several health problems. Not having enough money and struggling to pay for basic needs had left an indelible mark on their marriage.

I never forgot that moment with Becky and Chuck. I think of it often, as it is a telling commentary on the power that financial issues can have in a marriage. Marriages break up every day over money. Mismanagement, miscommunication, and misunderstandings drive a wedge between husband and wife. Instead of getting in the ring and fighting for their finances together, many couples throw their hands up and walk away—from the problems, but also from each other. In a study done by Money magazine, 84 percent of those surveyed said that money causes tension in their marriage, and 13 percent said they fight about money several times a month.1 Another study cited that 37 percent of couples say that debt is the number one issue that will spark a fight. “Numerous studies have shown that money is the number one reason why couples argue—and many of the recently divorced say those battles were the main reason why they untied the knot.”2

Curt and I teetered on the edge of throwing in the towel on our marriage many times. We’ll tell our story throughout this book, and we’ll also share the lessons we learned during our time in the ring as we literally fought to get our finances under control. Our prayer is that this book will help other couples find the freedom that can result from living financially sound lives. The truth is, money is not an isolated issue within a marriage—it infiltrates every other area of the marriage. From the kitchen to the bedroom, money problems will follow you. Once you get a handle on this area of your marriage, you’ll find that other problems seem to evaporate into thin air. It’s been our experience that the stress of money problems adds an air of negativity to the marriage as a whole. Working together to eliminate those problems can breathe fresh hope and life into what seemed like a lifeless, hopeless situation.

If you’ve picked up this book, then chances are you need to make some changes in your finances. And you’re not alone. Our country as a whole is in a downward financial spiral that is picking up speed with each turn of the calendar page. “On average, today’s consumer has a total of 13 credit obligations on record at a credit bureau. These include credit cards (such as department store charge cards, gas cards, or bank cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgage loans, student loans, etc.). Of these thirteen credit obligations, nine are likely to be credit cards and four are likely to be installment loans.”3 “Revolving consumer debt, almost all from credit cards, now totals $957 billion, compared with $800 billion in 2004, according to the Federal Reserve. Average car loans are up, too, to $27,397, from $24,888 four years ago. Home mortgages total $10.5 trillion, compared with $7.8 trillion in 2004.”4

Our personal financial choices are now being reflected on a national level. As we write these words, our nation is experiencing one of the hardest economic challenges since the Great Depression. For decades we have lived beyond our means, using debt as a tool to obtain our wants. And now our house of cards is crumbling around us. We find ourselves with a national debt that has surpassed the ten-trillion-dollar mark, a banking system that is undergoing radical change, and billions of dollars of value that has been lost on Wall Street as the Dow plummets from over 14,000 down to lows we never thought possible. Economists have stopped asking if we’re going to be in a recession and started asking how bad and how long it will be.

The national climate of anxiety and uncertainty is also the climate of many homes.

A Commitment to Change

The reality of our poor financial choices hit Curt and I one night four years ago, a few days before Christmas. What should have been a time of festivities and celebrating became just another cause for stress. We didn’t know how we were going to afford the expensive presents on the kids’ lists. We didn’t want to tell them no, yet to buy gifts meant adding to our already overwhelming debt load. Because of our faith, we took God at His word when He said that nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 1:37). And yet, from where we sat, our situation looked impossible.

For years, we’d been trying to do something to change our financial picture, to no avail. We desperately wanted to stop using credit cards, yet financial emergencies always cropped up that drove us back to credit card purchases. We wanted to begin tithing and saving, yet there was never any money left over to do that. We wanted to begin chipping away at our debt, and yet we saw no way to do so. We felt trapped at every turn. We’d gotten ourselves into a financial mess. Never before that night had we felt more strongly about getting out of our mess.

As we sat in our parked car at a shopping center near our home. I watched as the other shoppers bustled past us, intent on their lists and last minute errands. I vaguely wondered how many of them were slipping deeper into debt as they charged purchases they couldn’t really afford. Meanwhile, Curt and I talked for over an hour, working through what it would take for us to change our spending habits and take steps toward achieving our dream of being debt free. Though neither of us realized it yet, that night was the beginning of a major change in our lives. We were embarking on a journey that would enable us to escape the bondage of debt and begin to enjoy financial freedom. It would be a journey of many years as we endeavored to live differently from the rest of the culture and swim against the current on money issues.

I’ve often wondered why that night was different than our many other conversations throughout our marriage that had begun, “What are we going to do about our money problems?” Although some of our past efforts had resulted in temporary changes, nothing we did ever stuck. We quickly slipped back into our old ways and debt always seemed to creep back in. Even if we closed a door, debt seemed to find a window. So what made this night—this conversation—different?

First, just a few days before, we’d learned we were expecting a baby. This news had prompted us to evaluate how we could become more financially stable as we prepared for this additional responsibility. In short, it was time to get serious. Second, this impending life change and the urgency we both felt resulted in a unity of purpose that we’d never had before. In the past, our convictions about getting out of debt and making hard changes were usually separate, with one person not as sold on the necessity of the plan. We had never been on board at the same time.

Finally, and most importantly, God met with us that night in the car, allowing Curt and me to feel the same conviction and urgency. God went before us and prepared our hearts, as He is faithful to do. We looked across that car at each other and decided that, not only could we do this, but that together we would do this. Whatever it took. In our ignorance we were actually excited about working together to slay this debt monster and change our financial picture. God created unity where once there had been anger and blaming.

Heart Attitudes

Since that night, I’ve learned that getting out of debt requires allowing several basic attitudes to take root in our hearts. Notice I did not say in our minds. The Bible points to the heart as the center—the very essence—of who we are. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” All of our thoughts and actions flow from our hearts. It’s funny how we seem to relate money to our heads and not our hearts. But we miss the mark when we do that. Without allowing these attitudes to take root in our hearts—at the very center of our being—our plan for debt reduction would have quickly fallen by the wayside as unexpected expenses and “opportunities” came our way. By presenting a united front in our battle with debt and allowing these attitudes to determine our actions, we’ve been able to stick with our plan. Though we’ll go into the specifics of our plan in other chapters, I first want to cover these four heart attitudes.

An Attitude of Commitment

Because we saw the necessity of reducing our debt and were committed in our hearts to doing that at all costs, we were not tossed about by the waves (Eph. 4:14) when real life hit. We set a goal and held each other accountable to reaching that goal. We are committed to God and to each other as a team. Our plan to become debt free was a long-range plan. In a world of fast food, microwaves, and instant access, it’s not easy to walk out every agonizing step in a long-range plan. We knew that results would be long in coming and that we had to fix our eyes on the goal, not the circumstances, and hang onto the Lord to get us through. We’ll spend all of chapter 4 talking about how to become a team.

An Attitude of Obedience

A key to obedience is recognizing God’s ownership of all things. We were both convinced that God would help us get out of debt if we were obedient to Him. This obedience required me especially to obey not only God, but my husband as well. Though submission is a dirty word in most circles, it was essential on our journey. I had to let my husband lead—even when I doubted his decision and even when he made mistakes. I couldn’t step out of the chain of command, and at first I had to continually confess this struggle to the Lord. The good news is, it got easier for me, and my husband became a natural leader for our family. The more power I handed over to him, the more I saw him grow. I am the direct beneficiary of the blessings of obedience. Through this journey, I’ve had many opportunities to show my husband my respect, trust, and honor as our provider and leader of our home.

An Attitude of Surrender

This period of getting out of debt hasn’t been all rosy, as we’ll relate later in this book. Obedience has required sacrifice. I’ve had to surrender my wants and reduce my expectations. I’ve had to learn to go without, to trust God to provide, and to lay down my desires. We’ve both had to make adjustments in our spending and truly “count the cost” of every spending decision. We’ve learned to surrender our desires in the name of honoring God’s plans for our family, trusting Him to continually bring about the best outcome possible—more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).

An Attitude of Prayer

As we’ve laid down our wants, we’ve had to go to God and cast all our anxiety on Him (1 Peter 5:7). He has shown Himself to be a great listener and comforter. We are learning to go to Him with our specific financial concerns and to give Him all the praise when He meets our needs in miraculous ways. Our time of financial readjustment has truly increased my prayer life as I’ve become more intimately acquainted with Jehovah-Jireh, my provider. I have learned what a detail-oriented, personal God He is. This experience has deepened my faith—a benefit I did not expect.

As we’ve walked through this time of going to God for everything we need, I’ve learned to trust in Him more completely. Though I’ll talk about this in more detail later, I want to share some things that happened just last summer that illustrate how God answers even what most would call silly, insignificant prayers. Know, though, that nothing we pray is silly and insignificant to God!

• In past summers, we’d gone to a farm and picked buckets of blueberries. But it was not cheap to buy the blueberries—and I knew that we didn’t need to spend the money. So I told the Lord about how I wanted blueberries. I didn’t really ask Him for blueberries, per se, I just told my Daddy how I was longing for some blueberries for making pancakes, muffins, cakes, and other dishes. Just a few days later, I was talking with a woman I barely knew, and she mentioned that she and her family would be going out of town for a few weeks. She said that she worried about their large blueberry bushes with no one to pick them—and would we like to come and help ourselves while they were gone? Would we! We were able to pick bags of blueberries—for free!

• My son needed a new bike to ride up to our neighborhood pool because his had been stolen. We simply did not have it in the budget to buy the new bike—and yet the mother’s heart in me broke every time I saw him walking up to the pool while all the other kids rode past him. I told God how much it hurt and asked Him to provide my son with a bike when I could not. Just a few days later I was at a children’s consignment store and there, for a very inexpensive price, was a bike that looked almost new and was the perfect size for my very tall son. Why was this bike at a children’s consignment store that day? Because God orchestrated it so that I would find it. At least that’s what I believe, and that’s why I praised Him that day for answering this mother’s prayer and taking care of yet another detail in my life.

• One day I was craving a good, old southern tomato sandwich, a staple of my summer diet. But we had no tomatoes. I was just about to get in the car and drive to a produce stand to buy the tomatoes when I felt God tell me not to go, but to wait for the tomatoes. What a strange response, I thought. But I obeyed, wondering what God was up to. Within the hour, my son ran in from the neighbor’s house with several large, juicy ripe tomatoes in his hands. “Mom,” he cried. “Miss Joyce had too many tomatoes and I told her you’d love to have some!” I didn’t miss that opportunity to let my son know how God had used him to answer his mom’s prayer.

• A new necklace was all the rage and caught my eye several times as I saw it on the necks of other women. Usually I’m not much of a jewelry person, but there was something different about this particular necklace. I even found one for a reasonable price at a little home jewelry show and had it in my hand to buy it when I felt God nudging me to put it back. “But it’s a great price,” I told God—as if He didn’t know that. Again, I felt Him telling me to put it back. I will provide, I heard Him say. The following month we were visiting my stepsister, Becky, in Florida and I noticed that she was wearing that same necklace. I told her how much I liked it. “Oh,” she replied. “Do you want one? Because I got one for a gift and certainly don’t need two!” And just like that, I was the proud owner of a necklace I really wanted. And I didn’t have to spend a dime.

These are a few just examples of the countless times that God has shown us that He hears our prayers, He cares about the details, and He will move on our behalf. Sometimes we just have to be patient. And sometimes we have to learn to take no for an answer. Because I’ve seen God provide in miraculous ways, I’ve learned that when He says no, there has to be a good reason. And I must accept his no and move on instead of brooding over it. This process has taught me much about holding the things of this earth lightly—and has drawn me closer to the Father’s heart in the process. Through it all, we’ve indeed found hope in what could have been seen as a hopeless situation.

Do you need to find hope for your finances? The God of hope (Rom. 15:13) is waiting to show you the way out of debt and into freedom.

Study

Read Genesis 6:5; Luke 2:19; and Hebrews 4:12. How do these verses relate our thought lives to the condition of our hearts?

Reflect, Discuss, Plan

1. Was it a different concept for you to think of money as being tied to your heart attitude instead of your thought life?

2. What heart attitude do you struggle with the most—commitment, obedience, surrender, or prayer? Is there a part of you that still wants to control the situation and is hesitant about involving your heart in the process?

3. In the car that night prior to Christmas, we took a big step toward getting out of debt, as we verbally committed to each other to do whatever it took to get out of debt. Has there been a time when you’ve taken this step with your spouse? Does there need to be?

4. Have money problems been the lowest point in your marriage? If so, why do you think that is?

Take Action

Are you facing a particular situation that feels hopeless? (A bill that’s due, large amounts of debt to pay off, a purchase that needs to be made but no money to make it, etc.) Write down Romans 15:13 and then spend time praying that verse aloud. If you’re working through this book with your spouse, pray together.


If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Review: Holly Clegg's Trim and Terrific Diabetic Cooking

Title: Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Diabetic Cooking
Author: Holly Clegg
Photography: David Humphreys
Pages: 224
Publisher: American Diabetes Association; 1 edition (June 25, 2007)
Genre: Non-Ficiton / Cookbook
Edition: Pardback - many thanks to the author for sending me a copy to review! Thanks Holly!!



Perfect for : Personal Use, Hostess Gift, Gift, GREAT for a couple or family who has a diabetic family member

In a nutshell: Holly Clegg has yet another wonderful cookbook filled with over 250 wonderful foods that are quick to make and healthy while still being tasty! This cookbook is filled with glossy full-color pictures, and when you see the pictures and recipes, you won't think this is a diabetic cookbook at all! Filled with recipes such as: Roasted Pepper and Mozzarella Salsa, Blueberry Pancakes, Chicken Lentil Chili, Chicken and Sausage Couscous Jambalaya, Shrimp and Feta Pasta, Berry Tiramisu, and a scrumptious Banana Split Dessert with only 12g of sugar, this book is sure to be a favorite of both you and your family! To make things even better, these recipes are easy to make for people who want more time to spend with family and friends, and they are healthy, so you don't have to worry about what you are feeding your family!

The author has included icons to indicate if a recipe is vegetarian or if it is freezer-friendly, as well as "Terrific Tidbits" that provide tips and suggestions, along with nutritional information for each recipe. There is a section at the end of the book that provides suggestions for a well-stocked kitchen (pantry, refrigerator, freezer, etc), a 7 day menu, recipe suggestions and an index. Overall, this is a very helpful book that would also make a great gift. As with most cookbooks, I only wish every single recipe had a photo!!

Extended Review:
Content: The book includes chapters for the following: an Introduction, Appetizers, Breads, Muffins and Brunch, Soups, Stews and Chilis, Salads, Vegetables and Sides, Poultry, Fish and Seafood, Beef, Pork, Lamb and Veal, Pasta, Sweet Treats, Stock the Pantry, 7 Days of Menus, Recipe Suggestions, and an Index.

Format: Each chapter starts with a full-color photograph of a completed recipe, along with a listing of the recipes in the section and the corresponding pages.

Each recipe includes the number of servings, a short description, a list of ingredients, easy to follow instructions, and nutritional information (including a diabetic exchange). A recipe will have a symbol at the top if it is vegetarian, or if it is freezer-friendly, and some have "Terrific Tidbits" or helpful information that pertains to the recipe.

Readability: Holly Clegg has written a very easy to read cookbook. The instructions are clear (and quick), and the information is helpful.

Overall: With over 250 healthy and scrumptious recipes, this cookbook is sure to please everyone's taste buds, while still meeting the health needs of a diabetic family member.

From the Author's website:
Over 250 recipes designed for diabetic cooking that can be on your table in 30 minutes or less!!
Hundreds of recipes you'll swear are too good to be good for you! Cookbook author Holly Clegg has teamed up with the American Diabetes Association to create a Trim & Terrific cookbook perfect for people with diabetes.

Filled with over 250 diabetes-friendly recipes, this extraordinary collection is packed with meals that are quick, easy, and delicious. Forget the hassle of diabetes menu planning and rediscover the joys of great food.

Inside you'll find such tempting recipes as: White Chicken Chili with Tomato Salsa, Prosciutto-Wrapped Zucchini, Caribbean Pork Salad with Mango Black Bean Salsa, Chicken and Sausage Couscous Jambalaya, Salmon Cakes with Dill Sauce, Frozen German Chocolate Mousse Pie, and much more!

Effortless recipes, great food, and all of it in under 30 minutes or less. Diabetic cooking doesn't get any easier than this!

2008 Silver Winner Nautilus Book Award in Food/Cooking/Nutrition


Sample Recipe (From the author's website):

Easy Pot Roast

You can throw this roast in a low-temperature oven early in the afternoon, then go run errands and have dinner waiting when you get home! These few ingredients create a sensational gravy that's great over brown rice or barley.

And use the leftovers for delicious roast beef sandwiches!



Ingredients
1 (4-pound) beef sirloin tip roast, trimmed of fat
6 cloves garlic, sliced or 1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
1 large onion, sliced
1 (10.75-ounce) can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 (16-ounce) package baby carrots
2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes (yams)
2 cups peeled, cubed red potatoes

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Cut slits in the roast and stuff pieces of garlic throughout the meat. Season the meat with salt and pepper (if using).

2. Spread the sliced onion over the roast and pour the soup over the onions. Cover and bake for 4 hours.

3. Add the carrots and potatoes and continue cooking for another hour or until the meat is tender.

14 servings/serving size: 4 ounces beef plus 1/2 cup vegetables

Terrific Tidbit
This recipe works well in your crockpotleave it on low and cook all day.

Food Facts
Exchanges
1 Starch
4 Lean Meat
Calories 249
Calories from Fat 72
Total Fat 8 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 57 mg
Sodium 254 mg
Total Carbohydrate 14 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Sugars 4 g
Protein 29 g

About the Author: (From the author's website)
Holly Clegg, the "Queen of Quick." is author of the trim&TERRIFIC" cookbook series including a diabetic cookbook with the ADA, Eating Well Through Cancer and KIDS COOKING for Mommies with more than 850,000 copies in print, reigning supreme when it comes to healthy, delicious everyday meals and party fare.

Turned off by both diets and tasteless foods, Holly's mission is to give cooks the ability to put a delicious, healthier meal on the table in a time-friendly manner.

As Holly adds cookbooks to her trim&TERRIFIC series, her "never sacrifice taste" philosophy remains intact. Her message is simple: food that is good for you can be delicious and easy to prepare. Holly's reputation for her healthier approach continually garners national media coverage. Holly has made her fast, flavorful and healthy meals on network television shows including and Fox & Friends, NBC Weekend Today Show, The 700 Club, and D-Life on CNBC as well as major local markets nationwide. She writes for national food magazines and Internet food sites. As well as a keynote speaker, Holly also serves as the national spokeswoman for Louisiana Sweet Potatoes and has done media spokesperson work for diet Coke, Pace Salsa/Campbell's Soup, Nature Sweet Tomatoes, and Salmon of the Americas. Holly was featured in a national Teflon/DuPont nonstick ad campaign with her Trim & Terrific recipes in full page ads in national magazines including People, Self, Real Simple, Ladies Home Journal, Bon Appetit, USA Today, plus many more.

A wife and mother first, Holly understands the challenges of the busy person. Her personal experience of running a household of five inspired the subject matter for each of the trim&TERRIFIC books. Her recipes require familiar ingredients and include easy-to-follow instructions and quick tips; this combination is the main focus of her trim&TERRIFIC series.

Holly personally tests all of her recipes in her home and as a result, has three avid cooks. "Children love to cook, and if you include them, you can make positive, lasting impressions," Holly said. Based on her experience, Holly included a Kid's In The Kitchen Chapter filled with fun, delicious recipes in The New Holly Clegg trim&TERRIFIC Cookbook and has the newly released KIDS COOKING for Mommies. If you're wondering if you can really make a healthy impression on kids, Holly has proof. "My youngest child did not have a fast food hamburger until she was 15 years old, and it wasn't because I didn't allow it. I didn't have to pick up fast food for my children because I knew I could get something on the table in 30 minutes."

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Tory Widow by Christine Blevins

TEASER TUESDAYS : Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading ~ I always look forward to reading everyone's teasers!

My 2 “Teaser” Sentences for today:

Anne slipped the notice back into her pocket. "I'd be a fool not to take Mr. Rivington up on his offer."

~ p. 229, “The Tory Widow (Uncorrected Proof Edition)" by Christine Blevins

[Please note that this Teaser was taken from an Uncorrected Proof, and there may be differences in the final edition!]




From Amazon:
From the “talented”(Bertrice Small) author of Midwife of the Blue Ridge, a stirring novel set on the brink of the American Revolution.

On a bright May day in New York City, Anne Peabody receives an unexpected kiss from a stranger. Bringing news of the repeal of the Stamp Act, Jack Hampton, a member of the Sons of Liberty, abruptly sweeps Anne into his arms, kisses her—and then leaves her to her fate of an arranged marriage…

1775: Nearly ten years have passed and Anne, now the Widow Merrick, continues her late husband’s business printing Tory propaganda, not because she believes in the cause, but because she needs the money to survive. When her shop is ransacked by the Sons of Liberty, Anne once again comes face to face with Jack and finds herself drawn to the ardent patriot and his rebel cause.

As shots ring out at Lexington and war erupts, Anne is faced with a life-altering decision: sit back and watch her world torn apart, or stand and fight for both her country’s independence and her own.

~ Wendi

Review: Holly Clegg's Trim and Terrific Freezer Friendly Meals

Title: Holly Clegg's Trim & Terrific Freezer Friendly Meals
Author: Holly Clegg
Photography: David Humphreys
Pages: 304
Publisher: Running Press (November 27, 2006)
Genre: Non-Ficiton / Cookbook
Edition: Hardback spiralbound - many thanks to the author for sending me a copy to review! Thanks Holly!!



Perfect for : Personal Use, Hostess Gift, Gift

In a nutshell: Let me start by saying that I love the way this cookbook was put together. It is a hardback, which makes it sturdier in the kitchen, and it is a spiral bound book, which makes it lay flat, so the pages don't shut while you are cooking. In this book, the author helps you to make up meals ahead of time (in 30 minutes or less) that freeze well, which can then be taken out and used for dinner when you are short on time or need a break. Holly Clegg has provided a great list of ingredients and how well they freeze, as well as which containers to use for freezing. As with her other cookbooks, this one is filled with healthy versions of favorite family foods. If the nutritional information was not included, I wouldn't know that these recipes were really healthy!! Some of my favorite recipes include the Artichoke Cheese Toast, Banana Blueberry Muffins, Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Feta, Spinach, and Ham, and a White Chocolate Bundt Cake (see recipe below). This cookbook would be great for everyday cooking as well as entertaining.

Extended Review:
Content: The book includes chapters for the following: a Note on the Recipes, Introduction, Freezing Facts, Freezing Guide, Appetizers, Muffins, Breads and Brunch, Chilies, Stews, and Soups, Sides and More, Poultry, Meat, Seafood, Desserts, Pies, Cookies, and Cakes, Suggested Menus, Cookware Tips, and an Index.

Format: Each chapter starts with a listing of the recipes in the section and the corresponding pages.

Each recipe includes the number of servings, a short description, a list of ingredients, easy to follow instructions that give you the choice to 1. Prepare and Eat Now, 2. To Freeze, 3. To Prepare After Freezing. The bottom of each recipe includes the nutritional information (including a diabetic exchange). All recipes that are vegetarian have the symbol of a carrot next to the name.

There are two main sections of beautiful full-color photographs of some of the recipes - my only wish is that there were photos of all the recipes. :)

Readability: Holly Clegg has written a very easy to read cookbook. The instructions are clear, and the information is helpful.

Overall: Holly Clegg has written a cookbook that is full of healthy alternatives to frozen dinners and take-out food. Including over 200 recipes, all meals are supposed to be made in 30 minutes or less, and can be easily frozen for later use. Holly and her family have tested every recipe by making them, freezing them, and re-heating them to make sure they are still wonderful.

From the Author's website:
Quick and Healthy Recipes You Can Make in Advance: And everything you wanted to know about freezing food and had no one to ask!!

With FREEZER FRIENDLY MEALS, Clegg emphasizes, "Why spend every night in the kitchen when a day or two is all you need to prepare tasty, healthy meals for the entire week?" Not only will cooks find easy-to-make, delicious recipes in Holly's new cookbook, but each recipe has the nutritional information as well as meal ideas to take the guesswork out of trying to decide which would be the best side dish to serve with each entree. And you will enjoy reading all the helpful hints. For instance, not sure which foods freeze well? Wondering how long chicken will stay good frozen?

Best of all, each recipe has three sets of directions: To Prepare and Eat Now, To Freeze and To Prepare After Freezing: If you are looking for a quick nightly dinner or recipes to prepare on your time frame and freeze, these questions, and other useful tips, are answered by the kitchen diva.

Now none of us have an excuse anymore when it comes to making that home-cooked meal every night of the week. Cook in advance, and when you get home after a long, hard day at work, you have everything you need already made...just reheat and serve!!

Nutritional analysis and diabetic exchanges included.


Sample Recipe (From the author's website):

White Chocolate Bundt Cake

Keep these ingredients in your pantry to whip up this unbelievable cake in a pinch. This is another standby favorite I frequently make when I need to take a cake somewhere or to satisfy my craving.



Ingredients
1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 (4-serving) box instant white chocolate pudding and pie filling
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup canola oil
2/3 cup fat-free milk
1 egg
3 egg whites
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon almond extract

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat 10-inch nonstick Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding, sour cream, oil, milk, egg, egg whites, mixing until well mixed. Stir in white chocolate chips and pecans.

3. Pour in Bundt pan and bake 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

4. In small bowl, mix confectioners' sugar, milk almond extract; set aside.

5. Cool cake on rack 10 minutes before inverting on serving plate. Drizzle glaze over warm cake.

Makes 16 servings

To Prepare and Eat Now: Slice and serve.
To Freeze: Cool to room temperature, wrap, label and freeze. Recommended freezing time: up to 4-6 months.
To Serve: Defrost, slice and serve.

Note: Different shaped Bundt pans allow for fun types of cakes.

Food Facts
Calories 318
Protein 4 g
Total Carbohydrate 51 g
Total Fat 11 g
Calories from Fat 31%
Saturated Fat 3 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Cholesterol 18 mg
Sodium 338 mg
Diabetic Exchanges: 3.5 other carbohydrate, 2 fat

About the Author: (From the author's website)
Holly Clegg, the "Queen of Quick." is author of the trim&TERRIFIC" cookbook series including a diabetic cookbook with the ADA, Eating Well Through Cancer and KIDS COOKING for Mommies with more than 850,000 copies in print, reigning supreme when it comes to healthy, delicious everyday meals and party fare.

Turned off by both diets and tasteless foods, Holly's mission is to give cooks the ability to put a delicious, healthier meal on the table in a time-friendly manner.

As Holly adds cookbooks to her trim&TERRIFIC series, her "never sacrifice taste" philosophy remains intact. Her message is simple: food that is good for you can be delicious and easy to prepare. Holly's reputation for her healthier approach continually garners national media coverage. Holly has made her fast, flavorful and healthy meals on network television shows including and Fox & Friends, NBC Weekend Today Show, The 700 Club, and D-Life on CNBC as well as major local markets nationwide. She writes for national food magazines and Internet food sites. As well as a keynote speaker, Holly also serves as the national spokeswoman for Louisiana Sweet Potatoes and has done media spokesperson work for diet Coke, Pace Salsa/Campbell's Soup, Nature Sweet Tomatoes, and Salmon of the Americas. Holly was featured in a national Teflon/DuPont nonstick ad campaign with her Trim & Terrific recipes in full page ads in national magazines including People, Self, Real Simple, Ladies Home Journal, Bon Appetit, USA Today, plus many more.

A wife and mother first, Holly understands the challenges of the busy person. Her personal experience of running a household of five inspired the subject matter for each of the trim&TERRIFIC books. Her recipes require familiar ingredients and include easy-to-follow instructions and quick tips; this combination is the main focus of her trim&TERRIFIC series.

Holly personally tests all of her recipes in her home and as a result, has three avid cooks. "Children love to cook, and if you include them, you can make positive, lasting impressions," Holly said. Based on her experience, Holly included a Kid's In The Kitchen Chapter filled with fun, delicious recipes in The New Holly Clegg trim&TERRIFIC Cookbook and has the newly released KIDS COOKING for Mommies. If you're wondering if you can really make a healthy impression on kids, Holly has proof. "My youngest child did not have a fast food hamburger until she was 15 years old, and it wasn't because I didn't allow it. I didn't have to pick up fast food for my children because I knew I could get something on the table in 30 minutes."

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Review: Bedtime Blessings (Volumes 1 and 2) by John Trent, PH.D.

Title: Bedtime Blessings (Volumes 1 and 2)
Author: John Trent, Ph. D
Pages: 416 (both books together)
Publisher: Focus on the Family (January 28, 2009)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Religion / Christian Life / Family
Edition: Paperback - many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!



Perfect for : Personal Use, Gift, Church Toddler Group Use, great for parents AND grandparents use!

In a nutshell: Some of my fondest memories as a child were bedtime, when my parents would say prayers, read with me, and my mom would rub my back or brush my hair while she sang me to sleep. Author John Trent has written a book that will help create these lasting (and very impactful) memories with "Bedtime Blessings." Each of the two books contain 100 bedtime blessings, in the form of stories and activities (talk, sing, experiment, do a puzzle, write a letter, etc) that will help parents and children end the day on a positive, faith-centered note. Each activity is quick and easy, and is followed by a related prayer that is specialized for your child. A few of my favorite activities in these books: Let's Look at Nature: Night Sky (p. 32, Volume 1), Let's Look at Nature: Nutty Friends (p. 97, Volume 1), Let's Play a Game: Chewable Checkers (p. 168, Volume 1), Let's Play a Game: Treasure Hunt (p. 5, Volume 2), Let's Do an Experiment: Invisible Ink (p. 28, Volume 2), Let's Make a Wish: Learning to be Thankful, (p. 68, Volume 2). I'm having a hard time not adding to this list - there are so many great activities in these books! These books are a blessing to parents and children alike, as they help parents to bless their children by spending time and saying meaningful prayers together, and as they will help provide lasting memories of faith and family for your children.

Extended Review:
Content: Volume 1: In the introduction, the author explains that Genesis 27 shows us the importance of a parent's blessings on their children, and then he shows us how to bless our children by doing "Bedtime Blessings" which include an activity and prayer. He goes on to help you create a Blessings Box (not required), or a box full of the things you can use for your nightly activities. The remainder of the book is full of 100 activities/prayers. There are a few pages at the back of the book that provide answers to a few of the activities.

Volume 2: The introduction of this book covers the importance of spending quality time with your child, and creating fun, meaningful memories. This book also has a section dedicated to the Blessing Box, again, this is not a requirement for the activities, and then has 100 activities/prayers, ending with a few pages of answers to a few of the activities.

Format: Each activity is short and simple, including all the instructions and dialogue needed to complete the "Bedtime Blessing," including a prayer that is easily personalized for you and your child.

Readability: Very easy and fun!

Overall: This is a wonderful set of books that will help you create memories that you and your child will cherish, as well as helping to talk about your day and reinforce prayer. I love these books and will continue to use them in my family. I also plan to share these books with other friends and family and think they will make great gifts.

Excerpt from Volume 1, page 12-13: (To read the introduction through the first 15 pages, including 5 different activities from Volume 1, click here. To read the introduction through the first 5 activities of Volume 2, click here.)

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE DAY
Good Day/ Bad Day

[Before you begin this blessing, decide on a form of meaningful
touch that you can give to your child and then your
child can give to you. Some ideas include:
• Lightly brush your fingertips up and down your child’s
arm;
• Rub your child’s back or shoulders;
• Smooth your child’s hair.]


Let’s talk about each other’s day. While you talk, I’ll
lightly brush my fingertips up and down your arm [or
whatever form of touch you’ve chosen]. When you’re finished,
I’ll tell you about my day, and you can brush your
fingertips up and down my arm.

So tell me. How was your day? Was it a good day, a bad
day, or just an okay day?

[Talk about your child’s response. What made the day good
(or bad or okay)? What was the best part? What does your
child hope will go better tomorrow?]


Now I’ll tell you about my day.

[Share some of the highlights of your
day with your child. Don’t be afraid
to share some of your challenges
and how you faced them, as long
as you don’t burden your child
with adult problems.]


Do you know who else we
can share our day with? We can
share it with God. He already knows
what was bad and good, but He’s glad when we tell Him
about it in our prayers, too.

Dear God,
Thank You for the good things that happened today.
Thank You for _________________________ [name
some of the positive things your child and you mentioned].

Thank You for helping us get through the not-so-good
things that happened today, like ____________________
[name some of the negative events you and your child mentioned].
Please give _______________ [your child’s name]
a really great day tomorrow!
Amen.


From the Back Cover:
Begin to Bless Your Child Tonight!

Bedtime can be the best time of the day with Bedtime Blessings and Bedtime Blessings, Volume 2. Together these books offer 200 simple, easy-to-follow ideas to bless you and your child. With games, songs, stories, experiments, conversations, and prayers, you can impart spiritual truths that will last a lifetime while building a close relationship with your son or daughter.

It takes only a few minutes each night to send your child off to a peaceful sleep with a blessing. Make the most of those precious moments you have together with Bedtime Blessings.


About the Author: (From the publisher's website)
John Trent is committed to strengthening both marriage and family relationships worldwide. His first priority is to give his two young daughters a spiritual heritage to sustain them for the rest of their lives.

Over the past five years Trent has spoken to more than 75,000 people in more than 65 major cities at his seminars, as well as to thousands of men at Promise Keepers conferences. He has taught family enrichment programs and worked with Gary Smalley for nine years, ministering to couples and singles through Today's Family. In addition to speaking, he has authored and coauthored many best-selling books, a number of which have been Gold Medallion finalists or winners.

A featured guest on hundreds of radio and television programs, Trent's list of appearances includes Focus on the Family, Insight for Living, Life Perspectives, The 700 Club, Prime Time America on the Moody Broadcasting Network, and others.

John Trent holds a doctorate in marriage and family counseling from North Texas State University. He also has a master's degree in New Testament Greek from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Cindy, have two daughters and live in Scottsdale, Arizona.

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!
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