Dec 30, 2010

Alasandra's Reading List ~ December

  1. Third Degree by Greg Iles ~ First Warren Shields finds out he has an inoperable brain tumor and will die at 37. All he wants is to provide for his wife (Laurel) and two kids. Then in an attempt to warn him that his partner is framing him for Medicare Fraud, Nell sends an email telling him to look for something hidden in his home and he discovers his wife in cheating on him. When Laurel refuses to tell him her lover's name he snaps and holds his family hostage. Meanwhile the lover rethinks his decision to stay with his wife and kids and makes a desperate attempt to save Laurel. Terrible book the one decent person in the whole book dies while the cheaters get to live happily ever after, after destroying his life.
  2. Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts ~ Book Three in the Bride Quartet. Laurel convinces Del he should stop treating her like his sister.
  3. Don't Blink by James Patterson & Howard Roughan - Nick Daniels will do anything in order to report THE TRUTH. So when he is conveniently seated next to mob lawyer Vincent Marcozza when Torenzi kills him, he is elated to discover he has Torenzi's whispered words on tape naming mob boss Eddie Pinero as the man who ordered the hit on tape. But then he starts to wonder if his being there and getting "the evidence" on tape wasn't just a little too convenient. Now somebody wants him dead before he finds out the answer. Can he stay alive longer enough to get the story.
  4. The Sister by Poppy Adams - I didn't care for this book. The story is told from 70 year old Ginny's point of view. When her sister Vivi returns to the ancestral home after a absence of almost 50 years Ginny begins to recall things from their past. One gets a sense right away that there is something not right with Ginny (In an online discussion group several people speculated Ginny had Asperger's Syndrome from the information provided in the book). There is her obsession with time, her lack of emotion, the way she refers to her parents by their first names (Clive and Maude), Maude's belief that Ginny was responsible for Vivi's fall from the bell tower (a fall that destroyed Vivi's ability to have children), Maude's accusation that Ginny ruined Maude's life, as well as  the mysterious Dr Moyse's interest in Ginny. Once Vivi returns home she seems determined to tell Ginny some family secret and asserts their parents had no right to keep Ginny's condition from her. Finally forced to confront the way her sister used her to have a baby and then forgot the baby when it didn't survive Ginny poisons Vivi. The narrative is disjointed and none of the questions (Did Ginny push Vivi off the bell tower? Who killed Maude? What is wrong with Ginny) raised are answered.
  5. The Devil in The White City by Erik Larson - you can read my book review here. I highly recommend this book. (Non-Fiction)
  6. Cross Fire by James Patterson - Alex Cross and Bree Stone say I do. Kyle Craig is loose and out to kill Alex. Agent Max Siegel works closely with Alex to bring down the Numbers Killer as well as the Patriot Snipers. Fast paced, the only question is will Kyle Craig succeed in his quest to kill Alex. After all he is closer then even Alex imagines. 
  7. Nightshade by Nora Roberts - Colt Nightshade is looking for his friends daughter who is being held by some unsavory characters who make "adult movies". His best shot at finding Liz is to work with detective Althea Grayson, but will she cooperate. 
  8. Night Moves by Nora Roberts - Ry Piasecki carries Natalie Fletcher through a burning building but can he mend her broken heart.
  9. Road of the Patriarch by R. A. Salvatore - After winning Artemis Entreri's  heart Calihye attempts to kill him. Jarlaxle's plots gets himself, Entreri and the dwarf Athrogate banished from the Bloodstone Lands. Artemis returns to his childhood home and confronts is past. Artemis chooses to part company with Jarlaxle and Athrogate and to return to Calimport and Dwahvel.
  10. Turning Angel by Greg Iles - When Husband Stealing S*** Kate Townsend is murdered Penn Gage sets out to prove his childhood friend isn't the killer even though he was having an affair with the underage girl. Unfortunately for Penn the real killer is willing to kill again and again to keep his secret.
  11. Tripwire by Lee Child - A dying Leon Garber promises the Hobies he will find out what happened to their son who disappeared in Vietnam. Running out of time he hires a detective to find Reacher. But Victor Truman Hobie doesn't want to be found and he is willing to kill to keep his identity a secret. But Reacher is willing to die to save Jodi Garber (Leon's daughter).
  12. Daniel X Demons and Druids by James Patterson (Young Adult/Teen) - well there weren't any Druids in the book. But Daniel did travel back in time and meet the young boy Arthur (you know King Arthur) and Merlin (who is another alien from Daniel's planet). Merlin & Daniel join forces to defeat Beta. Who knew Stonehenge would prove so useful. Daniel's usual pals are behaving a bit unusual to Daniel's surprise.  Hints that future books will reveal what is going on with Dana and Willy.

Dec 29, 2010

Alasandra's Easy Christmas Cookies

These are perfect for making with young children.

2 (16 oz) packages Candiquick Vanilla
1 package Oreo Cool Mint Cookies (green centers)
5 peppermint candy canes crushed

Following directions on Candiquick package melt one of the Candiquick packages then add half of the crushed candy canes to mixture and stir well. Dip one cookie at a time into melted Candiquick until completely covered and place on wax paper until Candiquick hardens. Repeat with the next package of Candiquick.

You can melt both packages at the same time but you have to work really fast to prevent the Candiquick from getting too hard.

Alasandra's Bayou Bake

1 package 8 oz. cream cheese (light), cubed
2 tablespoons butter
1 lb. cooked gumbo shrimp
2 cans (6 oz) crab meat, drained
1 can heart healthy cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup brown rice
1 jar (4 1/2 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup butter flavored crackers crushed (about 24)

In a small saucepan cook and stir the cream cheese and butter over low heat until melted and smooth; set aside.

In a large skillet mix together the shrimp, crab, soup, rice, mushrooms, garlic and pepper add the reserved cream cheese mixture.

Transfer to a greased 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over mixture and top with cracker crumbs Bake uncovered at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Alasandra's Turkey Bundles

1 package turkey breast cutlets (4 to a package)
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
4 slices smoked mozzarella cheese
1 can of sliced pears (light)
1/2 cups boysenberry preserves
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

On wax paper roll a pastry sheet out cut in half and place 1 turkey cutlet in the middle of each half. Top with cheese and with a  pear slice and seal pastry. Repeat.

Place bundles on a greased baking sheet seam side down. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden brown and a meat thermometer reads 170.

I a small sauce pan combine preserves and vinegar. Cook on low heat stirring constantly  until preserves or melted. Serve with bundles.

Makes four

Alasandra's Turkey Cutlets with Pecan Crust

1/3 cup flour
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons Chipotle Mustard
2/3 cups dry bread crumbs
2/3 cup ground pecans
1 package turkey breast cutlets
1/4 cup olive oil

Place flour in shallow bowl.

Whisk eggs and mustard together in another shallow bowl.

Mix bread crumbs and pecans together in another shallow bowl. Coat cutlets in flour, then egg mixture then pecan mixture place in the skillet with heated oil and fry for 5 minutes on each side on medium heat or until juices run clear.

Serves four.

Dec 26, 2010

My Review of Butterfly Meadow Bunny Sugar

Originally submitted at CSN Stores
This sweet-as-can-be bunny doubles as a sugar bowl. Sculpted flowers, painted by hand, decorate the bowl.
  • Bunny sugar bowl
  • Butterfly Meadow collection
  • Crafted of fine porcelain
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Overall dimensions: ...

Cute Gift
By Alasandra from Ocean Springs, MS on 12/13/2010
5out of 5
I gave this as a gift to my Mother and she loves it. It is very cute and unique and will go with a wide variety of China patterns. She likes to decorate for Easter and this has become a favorite piece. I recently got her the matching creamer.

Dec 15, 2010

Cooking With Alasandra ~ Jonathan’s Pumpkin Cookies

Combine & Set Aside:
4 cups self -rising flour
2 cups oatmeal
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 ½ cups softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups brown sugar

1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin

Add flour & oatmeal mixture, mix well after adding each ingredient. Drop by rounded teaspoon on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Makes 8-10 dozen 2” cookies. Top with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 lb. box of confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

Beat cream cheese until very soft. Gradually add confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and milk. Beat until mixture is smooth and of good spreading consistency. Use original cream cheese only.

Alasandra's Cream Cheese Walnut cookies

1 cup sugar
3 oz. cream cheese
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed beat sugar with butter and cream cheese until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until creamy about 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Beat in vanilla. With spoon stir in flour and walnuts just until blended.

With lightly floured hands roll dought into 1 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on un-greased large cookie sheet ( I line mine with wax paper or use my stoneware) With floured fingertips flatten balls into 1 1/4 inch rounds.

Bake cookies 14 minutes until golden. Let cookies remain on cookie sheet on wire rack 2 minutes to cool slightly. Store cookies in tightly covered container up to 2 weeks. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Makes a great Christmas Gift

Sean's Birthday ~ Salmon and Shrimp with Garlic Rice

5 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups half and half cream
1/2 teaspoon ground Cajun Mustard
Dash cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
1 cup brown rice, uncooked
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
minced garlic
2 cups chicken broth

In a large saucepan melt 3 tablespoons butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add 1 cup cheese, mustard, dill and cayenne; stir until cheese is melted. Remove from the heat; stir in shrimp.

Pat salmon dry; place in a greased 12 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. Pour shrimp mixture over salmon. Top with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 400 for 25-30 minutes or until fish flakes.

Meanwhile in a saucepan saute garlic in remaining butter until tender. Add broth bring to a boil add rice and cook according to package directions. Yield 6 servings.

Dec 13, 2010

My Review of Hummingbird Nature Hook

Originally submitted at CSN Stores

Garden accent items are second to none. The handcrafted detail and durable paints make these items decorative and functional, lasting a lifetime. Add a touch of elegance to any patio or garden by choosing one of the many designs and items available.

Unique Gift Brings Smiles
By Alasandra from Ocean Springs, MS on 12/13/2010
5out of 5
I ordered 4 of the Hummingbird Nature Hooks to hang on the Hummingbird Cottage. They are very attractive and add a unique touch. I am very thankful I had the opportunity to review this product.
The Hummingbird Nature Hook
Tags: Picture of Product, Using Product
The Hummingbird Cottage
Tags: Using Product
Visit Flowers on Friday to see my original review of this product and more pictures of the Hummingbird Cottage.

My Review of Cornerstone Wall Lantern in White

Originally submitted at CSN Stores

  • One light wall lantern
  • Cornerstone collection
  • White finish
  • Clear seed glass shade
  • Transitional style
  • For outdoor use
  • Assembly required

  • Nuvo provides one year warranty

You Light Up My Life
By Alasandra from Ocean Springs, MS on 12/13/2010
5out of 5
I purchased 4 of these lights to go on the exterior of my house and they have really improved the house's appearance. They look attractive and provide good lighting. According to my husband they were easy to install. I received a credit toward the purchase of this product.
The House Looks So Much Better
Tags: Using Product
You can read my in depth review and see better pictures of this product at my post CSN Stores to The Rescue.

My Review of Butterfly Meadow Kitten Cookie Jar

Originally submitted at CSN Stores
A sculpted kitty forms the lid atop this charming cookie jar. The bottom bears a sculpted tulip motif.
  • Kitten cookie jar
  • Butterfly Meadow collection
  • Crafted of fine porcelain
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Overall dimensions: 11...

Gorgeous Cookie Jar
By Alasandra from Ocean Springs, MS on 12/13/2010
5out of 5
I have added it to my cookie jar collection and I have to say it is my very favorite. It is a really pretty cookie jar and with it's pretty pastel colors it is sure to look good in every home. I was given the opportunity to review this product.
You can see the Butterfly Meadow Kitten Cookie Jar as well as additional cookie jars in my collection here.

Dec 11, 2010

Lagniappe Restaurant in Ocean Springs

I had the chance to attend a Christmas Party at Lagniappe. The Restaurant is inside an old house and it was beautifully decorated for Christmas. The food was delicious. They had a lovely buffet. My favorite dish was the.............

Father George's  "Favorite Seafood Sin" This is our most popular dish, named for a local pastor who adores it!A combination of shrimp, crabmeat and crawfish tails in a SPICY cheddarcheese sauce on top of a thin layer of pasta and baked to perfection

It was really yummy and I would love to have it again soon. I also enjoyed the very cute and extremely tasty red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting. I am hoping to have the opportunity to eat there again in the near future. I meet Patsy and she is really sweet and works overtime to make sure everything is very "special". I had a lovely time.