Saturday, May 5, 2012

You must read "The Fault in our Stars" and my fresh ink.

OK, So I have fallen head over heels with John Green's writing.  What a genius!  "The Fault in our Stars" was quite easily one of the best books I have ever read.  Paper Towns was also fabulous.  I did something a little crazy today, and I could not be happier that I did!  My ode to Looking for Alaska....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Yep, I'm STILL reading!

Here are a few more books for your consideration!

1.  "Flat-Out Love" by Jessica Park....ok, LOVE this author. LOVE LOVE LOVE.  The dialogue and banter between the characters is outstanding, the story is heart warming, and funny.  And sad.  And cute.  and kick ass.  AND the author, Jessica Park, is hilarious and really has a way with words. (and much better than Jodi Picoult, I may add).  Are you buying it yet??  You should be!

2.  "Hana" by Lauren Oliver.....this is a short story, about 50 pages I think.  If you are a fan of her Delirium series (you should be!) this is a MUST read.  It is from her best friends POV, and, for me, put a new spin on things.  Trust me, it puts Hana in a new light, good or bad, I won't tell!

3.  "Eden" by Jamie McGuire....The final installment of the "Providence" series does NOT disappoint!  I loved every second of it, even though I am sad to say goodbye to Nina and Jared (especially Jared!) I am pleased with the ending....maybe they could continue in a series about Claire and Ryan??  hint hint.   This is a trilogy that you definitely need to read if you haven't started already.

4.  "Gabriel's Inferno" by Sylvain Reynard....ok, I have to admit that since I read 50 Shades I have kind of become a romance fan....and I found this book really exciting, kind of dangerous...just a great late night read.  I really fell for the characters by the end.  So if you like a little romance, this is a book for you!

"Insurgent" by Veronica Roth.....WOW!

SO, I don't know if I have to say again that DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth is one of my favorite books.  Today INSURGENT was released (book 2 of the trilogy) and OMG it is amazing (I finished it in 6 hours)!  Sometimes I find that the second book in a trilogy is the weakest as it is just the catalyst to the end of the story and usually isn't as exciting as the beginning or end.  BUT not this one!  It was amazing from page 1 until the final page.  Now I just cannot believe I have to wait probably a year for the next book.  UGH.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"Looking for Alaska" by John Green

I can honestly, and whole-heartedly state that this book is in my top 3 books OF ALL TIME.  It affected me.  It had me laughing out loud, crying, smiling, man it was so incredible.  The story felt so real, I felt a part of their lives, I felt their pain, I felt their laughter, I felt everything.  John Green seriously changed my life with his writing here.  I say how much I love books a lot, but every so often one comes around that just changes the way you are, forever.  This is one of those moments.  man oh man, you NEED to read this book, now.  I firmly believe that all teenagers should read this book, I think all humans should read this book.

"How will we ever get out of this labyrinth!"

I, too, hope I find this answer in my lifetime.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MORE new must reads!

SO, I have clearly been on a reading KICK!  I just can't seem to put my Kindle down, much to my families dismay.  I have been trying to pass the time until May 1st when "Insurgent" by Veronica Roth and "Eden" by Jamie McGuire are released...and I have found some WONDERFUL books along the way.

"On the Island" by Tracey Garvis-Graves....What an amazing book!  I was surprised actually at my reaction to this book, I fell in love with these characters so much, I absolutely am telling you to get it immediately and read it.   I was actually heart broken when it ended, I wanted it to go on forever.

"The Marriage Bargain" by Jennifer Probst....This was a darling book, you pretty much know how it will end, with some twists and turns but it is so good.  It is an easy read, a great beach read!  She really made you feel the sexual tension between the characters, which is hard to do!

"Summer of Skinny Dipping" by Amanda Howells....Oh man, this book had me SOBBING loudly last night.  I was worried that I wouldn't like this because it is about teenagers, but OMG.  It is a great story about growing up, falling in love, heartbreak.  I do not want to give too much away so I can't say much, but please read it.  Trust me, it will make you happy, sad, and hopeful all at once.

Happy Reading!!

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

This is an easy, go to dish for us if we are craving Asian cuisine.  It can get rather spicy though, so please vary the peppers for your own tastes.  Depending on our mood, I sometimes leave all the seeds in, or take seeds out of one pepper and leave the other.  If you cannot find Thai chiles, Serrano chiles are a good substitute.  Also, I always keep fresh ginger in my freezer, it makes it SO much easier to grate.

2lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1inch chunks
1/3c rice vinegar
2T low sodium soy sauce
1t fresh ground black pepper
1-2 fresh Thai chiles, cut in half (with or without seeds-to your taste)
2/3c dark brown sugar
1/2c water
1T fresh grated ginger
1T crushed garlic
2T vegetable oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2T chopped up cilantro

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, soy, black pepper, chiles, water, ginger, and garlic and whisk gently to combine.  Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil.  Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken and stir fry until browned all over, about 4 minutes.  Pour the sugar mixture over the chicken and stir to coat.  At a high temp, stir fry until mixture begins to caramelize on chicken, about 5 more minutes.  Stir frequently.

Stir in cilantro.

Serve over jasmine rice and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Harissa Marinated Steak Tips

If you have not tried Harissa before, you should try it at once!  It is a Spicy chile sauce from North Africa. I have found it at Fresh Market, and I'm sure Whole Foods carries it as well.  I also have seen recipes for it on websites so google it if you can't find it at your grocer.  I use a mild version, so it is not so spicy.  It is delicious, and I could probably put this sauce on anything!

1.5-2lbs top sirloin steak, fat trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
2T extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2T packed brown sugar
2T low sodium soy sauce
1T fresh thyme leaves
4T Harissa

combine the olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, soy, thyme, and Harissa in a medium bowl and mix well.  Add the steak, turning to coat.  cover and place in fridge for at least 2 hours, as long as a day.  If you are home, mix the marinading meat a couple times.

When it's time to cook...
Brush a skillet with olive oil.  Cook the meat on med-high browning on each side until cooked through (medium is best), about 10 minutes (depends really on the thickness of your meat).

You can serve with more Harissa on the side.
I served this with a wild rice pilaf and a fresh steamed veggie.