Thursday, June 18, 2015


Sanctum (Asylum Book #2)
by Madeleine Roux

352 pages
Published: August 2014

Read: June 2015

Sanctum picks up right where Asylum left off.  Abby, Dan and Jordan return to Brookline, the place that has haunted their dreams since the previous summer.  Now they are pretending to be potential fall applicants to the college in order to dig up more information.  Everyone needs closure right?  Soon, the kids begin to see things that have them questioning what is real and what is not.

This is another great book from Madeleine Roux!  I love fast-paced reads that you just can't put down.  The first book had me thinking that the characters were a little young, but it seems to fit. I loved it!  There is a third book in this series that I'm very prepared to read =)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Favorites #11: Cupcakes

I don't know that I've ever mentioned it here before, but I absolutely love cupcakes.  Love to see them, love to eat them, love to bake them.  I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to these exquisite beauties.  They are small bites of angelic flavor.  I like to make the mini cupcakes to get that true bite size.  You don't feel so bad eating them at that size =).  Here are some of my favorite flavors and ones I can't wait to try!

from Your Cup of Cake
Lemon is my go to flavor and, as you will see, Your Cup of Cake is my go to site for the most amazing cupcake recipes.  These cupcakes don't disappoint.  The citrus tang of the lemon and the creamy goodness of the cream cheese frosting melt together in your mouth.  This is one amazing cupcake!

from The Cake Blog
Who knows why, but orange and vanilla go together like milk and cookies.  It's a classic flavor pairing that takes you back to your childhood.  Sprinklers in the back yard and orange creamsicles in your hand.  Ahhh! Those were the days.....

from Java Cupcake
I've never actually had a Mojito, probably need to change that.  If it tastes anything like this cupcake, I definitely want to try one!  Fresh raspberries always make me smile!

from Life Made Simple
These look so amazing!  When we were little, we always felt special drinking the sparkling cider at Christmas dinner. Like a grown up drinking wine!  I bet these cupcakes are as tart and bubbly.  I can't wait to try these!

from Shugary Sweets
I don't eat watermelon because it feels gritty in my mouth.  It's a texture thing, but I love watermelon flavored candy, like Jolly Ranchers...yum!

from Your Cup of Cake
These were excellent!!  I made these one weekend for my family, just to see if they were good.  Of course they were!  The tartness of the lime is offset by the sweetness of the strawberry.  It just tastes like summer!

from Your Homebased Mom
These pink lemonade cupcakes are one of my very favorites!  The flavor is out of this world.  Using the pink lemonade concentrate in the frosting is genius! You must try these!

from Recipe Girl
Don't these just look like a wedding?  The white on white and the delicate pearls, just beautiful. 

from Crazy for Crust
Mint and chocolate is another flavor combination that is just perfect together.  Combined with the chewy brownie in this cupcake, we have a winner!

from Your Cup of Cake
 Another one of my very favorites!  This was one of the first cupcakes I ever made.  I wasn't very good at it and was just starting to use a piping bag for frosting.  These cupcakes have crumbled cereal in the cake and in the frosting.  We never have leftovers!

What is your favorite cupcake?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark

Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark
(Kingdom Keepers Book #1)
by Ridley Pearson

336 pages
Read May 2015

As a die hard Disney fan, how had I never heard of this book?!  Once I heard about it, I ran to the nearest book store!

Pearson begins this series describing Disney's latest invention, the DHI or a Disney Holographic Host who shows up in the park when you have questions.  They are the  holographic images of 5 local school kids preloaded with all the answers.  However, when they took the kids' images, something happened to the kids.  Every time they go to sleep at night, they cross over to the Disney park as their holographic self.

During the first crossover, they meet a man who tells them they are in danger.  He needs them all to meet and fight The Overtakers together.  These are Disney villains set to take over the park, and the world if Maleficent has her way.  They all must fight together to save the park.

I love reading a book where I can picture the location.  I know the places in the park that the author describes, I've been there!  I could picture the fight in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the clue hunting in the It's a Small World ride. I love that!

Disney After Dark is an action filled adventure, especially for teenagers, or middle school age kids.  I look forward to the next book.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Quilter's Apprentice

The Quilter's Apprentice
Elm Creek Quilts (Book #1)
by Jennifer Chiaverini

224 pages
8 CDs

Read May 2015

Sarah and Matt McClure have picked up their lives and moved to Waterford, PA to accommodate Matt's job as a landscaper.  Sarah, an accountant, is looking for work in this new town, but she doesn't want the same old boring work as before.  She wants something different.
While looking for work, Sarah goes with Matt to his job site.  The owner of the land is a bitter old woman, Sylvia, who isn't very sociable.  Sarah eventually befriends the woman, cleaning her estate in return for quilting lessons.

This is a very charming, cute, cozy read.  I liked the storyline, but at certain points I felt like I'd read it before.  It may be a very common set up so that's probably why it's familiar.  Sarah as a character was extremely whiny in the beginning and I almost put it down.  It eventually got better.  The book is carried by Sylvia's stories.  She reminisces about her past, her family, and friends.  Sort of like finding your grandmother's old journals. 

I waited so long to read this book and had such high hopes for it.  I wasn't as pleased as I thought I'd be and I'm not sure I'll read any more of the series.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Cajun Jambalaya

Now, I am by no means an expert when it comes to cooking, soup, New Orleans, creole, cajun, or jambalaya anything.  But, when it comes to this classic dish from Emeril, I make it enough to be an expert on this dish.  We love it and can't eat enough of it!  I make a variation of Emeril's dish, however it's basically the same.

I find myself using many of the same ingredients, but I multiply everything by 4.  I know I know, that seems crazy.  However, we have a huge stockpot to cook it in and it makes enough for leftovers most of the week.  We like it that much =)

I found this recipe in an Emeril cookbook a long time ago.  I've since lost the book but I've put it into my own permanent family cookbook that I plan to hand down.  Enjoy!

Cajun Jambalaya
adapted from Emeril Lagasse
(**Note, this is the original version, not the one x4**)
12 medium cooked shrimp
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, recipe follows
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3/4 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
5 links of Uncle Charley's hot Italian Sausage (I do not x4)

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning:
(**Note: not multiplied by 4 or you'll have seasonings for years!)
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

In a bowl combine shrimp and Creole seasoning, and work in seasoning well. In a large saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, 3 - 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in rice and slowly add broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 - 20 minutes. When rice is just tender add shrimp and sausage. Cook until meat is done, about 10 - 15 minutes more.
**Note: because I use Hot Italian Sausage, it will be spicy.  If you like a little less spice, go for the Mild Italian Sausage.  You will still get some spice from the Creole Seasoning.**