A to Z Challenge – R


 

R – Red Wine & Roses

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You had to know I would  use this as one of my R words, right?

My very first published book! This is contemporary romance, and a bit steamy! According to one of the reviews, too steamy.

Most of my manuscripts are paranormal fantasy. This one is a stand alone. I loved writing it,  but I already know some things I will do differently in my next romance.

Red Wine & Roses – get your copy and leave me a review!

 

 

 

R – Reviews

The all important reviews for a book.  I don’t know how many readers actually read the review before purchasing, but to an author, it’s vitally important to receive reviews.

Wonderful Romance, extra Spicy

Couldn’t Put This Book Down

I Loved The Characters

 

R – Rice

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Rice is the mainstay of most of the world’s diet.  It is versatile, so it’s used in a variety of  cooking styles. For instance Spanish Rice next to the Chimichanga and refried beans, Fried rice with the sweet and sour shrimp,  steamed rice with chicken ala king, or my favorite . . RISOTTO.

Which requires a RECIPE

If you can’t get any morels,  then you can substitute another type such as Portobello. Morels are best, but they are hard to find/get.

 

 

Risotto with Morels

Ingredients:
1/2 pound  morel mushrooms, chopped into small pieces – rinsed and soaked in salt water then drain on a paper towel
4 cups chicken stock
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces bacon, cooked drained and chopped
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
freshly chopped parsley

Directions:

In a saucepan, heat the chicken stock with the 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer.
In a  Dutch oven, melt the butter and the morels, and bacon, saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of the chicken stock mixture to the rice plus the saffron, salt, and pepper. Stir and simmer over low heat until the stock is absorbed,  10 minutes. Continue to add the stock mixture, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry before adding more of the stock mixture. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 25 to 30 minutes total. When done, the risotto should be thick and creamy and not  dry. Remove from  heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve  with extra cheese and a sprinkle of parsley.

R- Rash

While poking around in the garage working on furniture  restoration, I’ve gotten into something that has irritated my skin. The sad thing is I have no clue as to what it was, so I’m likely to repeat this.

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And technically, I did not take this picture. My daughter took it of me.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

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A to Z Challenge – Q


 Q -quinoa

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An amazing super food! There are so many ways to incorporate this into your diet. Here are a few suggestions:

  1.  use instead of rice, or combined with rice
  2. use in place of bread crumbs in meatloaf
  3. use as you would oatmeal in the morning – add your favorite toppings. Mine are peaches, cream, and a little honey.
  4. Make quinoa cookies – pretty much like you would make oatmeal cookies.
  5. Add it to a basic bread recipe!
  6. Add some to your salad before drizzling your favorite dressing over it.

Q – Queen

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Queen -of hearts,  of diamonds, spades, but what about clubs? Are there no songs to commemorate the queen of clubs?

Many of you may not know this,  but a friend of mine has immortalized me as the evil queen (mwahaha haha- cackles with evil laughter) in  not one but two of her books.  OK, so the second is a sequel to the first but never the less I am immortalized as evil queen Ellie!  Apparently Queen Ellie has a thing for shrimp, not the kind you eat but rather a character that is a shrimp. Interesting.

I considered snapping a few pics for queen-sized, but naaaaaaaahhhh!

 

Q – Quackers

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Baby ducks –  ok so it’s a stretch. But come on –  are these not the cutest things? Spring time is flourishing with flora and fauna!
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These precious babies bring a smile to my face when then my legs are nearly shaking on the last lap around the pond.

 

Q – Quilt

OK,  I don’t know what the deal is but we saw numerous of these, all different on the ends of barns as we drove through northern Missouri and Iowa. Is this an Amish thing? Mennonite? Is there some symbolic meaning behind it?  I don’t know but  it got us talking.

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If anyone wants to fill me in on why  so many people have a quilt block design on their barns, I’d love to know.  Have a fabulous day!

 Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Super Fuel for A Super You


fresh figs

fresh figs

It’s difficult to have the energy required to get through a normal day much less one that has  more demands than the usual routine.  Especially if your diet consists of  poor quality fillers such as popcorn instead of a meal (admit it, you’ve done it too!),  pasta covered with butter and herbs, or a tube of snack crackers because  you didn’t feel like getting out in the weather and you forgot to pack your lunch.

Sadly,  I’ve done all of these and worse, then wondered why I was fighting the sleepiness in the afternoon.  It’s simple!  I didn’t give my body the fuel it needs to function.

Let me mention briefly a point that I brought up last week in A New Attitude Towards Food about skipping meals.  It has the opposite effect on weight loss than you would think.   Contrary to what most people think,  overweight people are the most likely to skip meals. There are multiple reasons why we skip meals but the result is the same.  You are more likely to overeat at the next meal and have larger portions because by that time,  you are ravenous!

Skipping meals causes your body to hold onto its fat stores, instead of releasing them. It interprets skipped meals as famine, so it locks down on the fat stores because it doesn’t know when the next meal will come. This is actually a quite efficient process, except for the bulging  belly and thighs that plague us.

So, anyway . . . DON’T SKIP MEALS!

continuing on last week’s theme,   here are some more super foods.

Why are they called super foods? 

Most  “super” foods are good for your heart and your overall health when incorporated into a heart-healthy diet that’s balanced in lean protein,whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat milk and dairy products. This diet should also include nuts, seeds and legumes,  as well as fish and liquid vegetable oils.

There are no standard criteria or approved list of super foods, but they are categorized as such based on the dense nutritional values.  Adding “Superfoods” to your diet certainly has  health benefits but the key to a healthy diet is to consume a variety of nutritious foods in the right quantities.

More superfood choices:

Apples –  Seems there is a lot of truth to the adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Aside from the  benefits of fiber and helping regular digestive flora, apples contain polyphenols that offer an assortment of benefits, the most impressive of which is they’re able to help regulate your blood sugar levels. This can be of great use in weight loss! They also help you stay focused throughout the day!

Asparagus – The  takeaway on asparagus is that it hits on two levels: it provides antioxidants and also works as an anti-inflammatory. I haven’t read this anywhere but I can tell you from personal experience ( it may be part of the anti-inflammatory thing)  it can act as a diuretic as well.  So, it helps in fighting free radicals!

Beets – you won’t catch me eating them voluntarily,  but they are loaded with betalains, that aren’t found in many foods that make it to the dinner table.  I have included beets in a smoothie where other things were combined and masked the taste of beets,  but that is my preference.

Cantaloupe – Low calorie, sweet and delicious, and it has an alkaline effect on the body which can help balance your ph levels from getting too acidic –  which helps  in digestion and prevention of yeast infections!  WIN WIN!  Can I trade in my beets for a double portion of cantaloupe?

Cherries -They can help improve your memory and have a substantial amount of beta carotene. You might also want to consider eating cherries to help get a good night’s sleep as they’re a natural source of melatonin.  So see there? Don’t forget your cherry on top next time you get that sundae. (Just make it a  fresh cherry not a maraschino cherry soaked in sugar)

Dark Chocolate -This is one  superfood that many people will not have a problem eating. While it may not be as ubiquitous as milk chocolate this is worth going out of your way for. It’s antioxidant rich and has been shown to help with the heart, the brain, and stabilizing glucose levels. It can even help with dental health. What’s not to love?  YES! There is a GOD!!!!!

Figs – I have to be honest,  up until last year I had only ever eaten a fig as a fig newton. I still remember that silly jingle! Who knew I was eating healthy?  Recently we found dried figs at the health store and they are just as sweet  as  I remember in the newtons.   Just go HERE and check out all the benefits of figs!

Pineapple -Pineapples have a way of adding instant island flavor to most any dish. But they also pack their own benefits by helping with eye health, gum health, and even easing arthritis pain. Even though it is low in fat and cholesterol free, you’ll want to stick to smaller portions due to the sugar content. Plus, for anyone who has ever overdone it  on fresh pineapple the  enzymes in it play havoc on your tongue. But OOOOOOOOOOH, pineapple.

Pomegranate– My mother used to buy pomegranates every time she could.  I never understood her fascination with them. All those little seeds. . . . I guess she knew something.  Nowadays, this usually ends up as pomegranate juice, and it’s makes a great addition to fruit smoothies, or just drinking straight. The top benefits of drinking it are that it can help with breast, prostate, and lung cancer. It’s also been shown to help with blood pressure, and can help prevent or even reverse plaque buildup in the arteries.

Combined with last week’s list,  you should have a variety to plan an entirely new menu!  Try something new this week.  Contact me if you are interested in the menu plans. I’m considering doing a newsletter to include them with some recipes.

Write on my friends,  and eat well!

Ellie

 

A New Attitude Towards Food


Let’s be honest, most of us overindulged around the holidays.  Who can resist those home-baked chocolate chip cookies with melty chocolate? Gingerbread men  that you slowly torture by  dunking first this foot, then that one into your morning coffee. What?  You don’t  create the psychodrama of torturing the little man of goodness?

Maybe it’s a writer thing. Anyway, new year new eating habits.  For the most part it’s a reestablishment of nutritious eating guidelines. My personal approach involves simple changes that I can adapt for long-term lifestyle changes that I can live with because I have more than twenty pounds to lose.

If I make a statement like –  I will not eat chocolate in 2016,  it’s a lie.  I might make it to the afternoon of day 1 before I am scrounging in my secret stash.  It’s not just me,  you do it too.  If we  lay down the law and state that object A is forbidden,  then there is some compulsion within us that screams for it, demands it, wears on our willpower to the point that we give in. A more realistic goal will be that I allow myself 3 small pieces of chocolate throughout the week.   I can live with that!

My new eating plan began on January 4th. Yeah, I’m late in posting this.  I don’t have a big long list of goals to share – sorry to disappoint those of you that are used to my ‘Mega-blowout-I-am-going-to-totally-kick-ass-this-year’ list.  I’m streamlining and simplifying.  Two simple goals: Eat balanced meals and practice portion control.  In reality there are 4 goals because part of eating balanced meals is not skipping meals.  Something that I am terrible about.

I plan my weekly menu before I do my grocery shopping, to avoid impulse purchases and thwart those unhealthy items that tend to jump into my cart like chips or snack crackers and also to save some money on our groceries.

As I plan my menus,  I scour food sites, pinterest, and my cookbooks for healthy nutritious meals.  A typical days menu is between 1500 and 2000 calories. Throughout the week it averages 1800 calories. I plan a couple of desserts into the meal plan sticking mostly to  lowfat, low sugar but still appeases the sweet tooth.

One of the changes I have been making in meal planning is using Superfoods.  The following list is items that I have incorporated into our meals:

Greek Yogurt – plain, unsweetened.  The ingredients on the side of the container  – cultured milk –  that’s it.  The only ingredient.  100%  milk. NO sweetener, no sugar, no additives, no chemicals.

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Quinoa – I’ve made some really interesting meals with this versatile grain. Talk about filling!

Kale –  chopped up kale can work like parsley in some dishes, like on top of my potato soup.  It can be the main part of a salad –  like my favorite citrus kale salad. I don’t care for the tough and woody stems,  but the leaves are amazing.

Blueberries – Who doesn’t like blueberries? From blueberry muffins to fresh blueberries in my cottage cheese or greek yogurt, it’s like nature’s candy!

Oatmeal -This rib sticking old-fashioned breakfast is  a godsend.  I am not a morning person and tend to be on autopilot until after the second cuppa. Whether you make zingy lemon lifter, or blueberry blast, or my  new favorite – peach and almond, it’s a versatile mainstay of our kitchen.

Salmon – We have salmon once a week. Whether  as salmon croquettes, or  grilled, or baked salmon is a good protein choice loaded with omega 3.

Lentils – Cheap nutrition.  Lentils and rice were a mainstay of our diet when we were newlyweds on starter wages. Sometimes we added some meat to it, sometimes we didn’t. Lentils can be added to salads just as you would garbonzo beans.  They can be tossed in soups and stews for added protein. Lentils are high in iron, something I need battling anemia.

There are numerous superfoods, these are just a few that I have worked into a regular rotation in our diets. Would you like some recipes with these superfoods or some others?  Let me know in the comments. Trust me,  I have loads of recipes. I may have to think about what my pinch translates into in a measured amount,  but I am recipe rich!!  If you are interested in meal plans, contact me!

Write on my friends, and eat well!