Get Series(ous). #6

Ok, let’s open this with a .gif I love. Not because it has anything to do with anything, simply because I love it. K?

I have no clue why I love this .gif so much. I just do.

This week’s Get Series(ous). post is close to my heart. Why? Because I have a paperback of it in my jacket.

Is that a carrot in your pants…?

Also, I just really love it. I’ve re-read each of them a few times, and I keep going back for more. It’s like potato chips…or moonshine. Either one, really.  I fell in love with the first book not long after its release, and I hoard each new installment like a prized dude concubine. (this is a thing that exists somewhere, right?) A concubdude. Dudecubine? Again, either way.

Let’s explain this notion and feeling I have with an image, shall we?

Guitarists have nimble…minds.

 Well, hello there, sexy man servant with completely equal rights who also happens to be a feminist. The servant thing is totally a pre-agreed to situation…no dubious consent issues at all. Now, wash my back.

The Match. 

So, for whom is this series a good match?

You know that college professor friend you have who holds several degrees, but also tends towards dick jokes at the party? Her/him.

This person may also be someone who loves the show Broad City or Girls, but is perhaps looking for a book where the cast is just a hair older. Think Big Bang Theory–only funny, and without that annoying laugh track. All the dick jokes, and a mortgage. It’s a win/Let’s pretend adulthood is a win, series.

This reader is interested in a romance that’s fresh. She’s read Sophie Kinsella and Jane Green for years, and she’s tired of certain tropes. Girls who spend too much, girls who have shit confidence, girls who go to college purely to receive their M.R.S.

This reader wants something new. She wants to have her hero and eat him too.

What is the series?

The Knitting in the City Series by Penny Reid.

If you’ve read ANY of my book posts, you know I have a serious girl crush on author Penny Reid.  Her books give me an immense amount of lady wood. Sequoia National Forest-level lady wood.

my lady wood is fertile.

The Blurb:

*from the first book.

There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

Why I love it:

So many reasons. The biggest reason has got to be the dialogue. Each character has a completely unique voice, but they’ve been blended in a way that makes them feel cohesive and collected. 

The storylines are just zany enough as to work with one’s suspension of disbelief. Each book has a bit of froth, a lot of humor, and some pretty big truths. However, since those truths are ensconced within a standard of humorous storytelling, they aren’t pedantic or arrogant. It feels as though Penny Reid is layering each story with a sense of self awareness and witty self-deprecation. When one is reading a piece of this collection, one can almost hear her whispering,

“Don’t worry, I’ve totally been there, it’s ok. Also, when I was there, I just had a terrible reaction to a drug store face cream that made my neck look like Jabba the Hut. Let’s talk about it over a Pimms Cup.”

*this quote is totally fictional and I am certain Ms Reid’s neck has never appeared to be alien or slug-like in appearance. 

Reading this series, one absolutely feels as though the characters within their volumes could absolutely be their friends in real life. They are easy to cheer on, laugh with, cry with, and feel a strange and completely inappropriate reaction in the nether regions when their husbands are near.

I could totally be the jam in a Quinn/Drew sandwich. Read the books and you’ll get that. 

Also, the books made me want to learn to knit; which is weird, because the last time I was crafty was that hot minute in eighth grade when I played “light as a feather” with a bunch of girls at an “occult” bookstore. (How occult can you be if you also sell houseplants and Billy Joel albums? “She’s Got A Way About Her”…don’t know what it is, but I think it’s those love candles….)

This was the expected result. This was not what occurred.

There are currently four books in the series, with a few more planned. She’s also penning a spin-off series based on the characters in Beauty and the Mustache. *the book tied with #1 for my favorite.

Now I’m going to do something sickly personal that may make me want to puke later. Beauty and the Mustache is one of my favorite books–possibly ever, and the book HIT me. I mean, it HIT me. Not because of any personal commiseration with the characters–if anything, Neanderthal Marries Human hits close to home with that one. However, it just clicked for me, and while I was reading it, I was HEAVILY reminded of one of my favorite songs by one of my FAVORITE singer/songwriters, and it just felt like Drew. So, before the recipe inspired by the book. (Which there will be another one as well, because I couldn’t choose, but may be reserved for when I review the next book in the series.) Here’s the song.

ok, and this one.

The recipe inspired by the books:

These books take place mostly in Chicago, and we know I don’t deep dish. There are a few things I like deep…water, dark chocolate…other things…but not pizza. I like it as shallow as a Kardashian, and just as over-done.

However!!! Beauty and the Mustache takes place in TENNESSEE. I know the mid-south. I know it and love it. My family hails from West ByGod, and the food of the region is like a warm hug and sunlight on my skin.

And it is overly-criticized as pedestrian and greasy! F THAT! A: My MawMaw always made sure I had vegetables, and she no more FRIED everything than I would. Also, Tennessee, Kentucky, Huntington, they’re ALL experiencing a renaissance in the culinary world! So, I figured, why not update one of my favorite childhood foods?

Deviled Eggs. OH YEAH! Any good Southern family knows that a party isn’t a party until some poor asshole has to peel 948y3948y6398x∏r² eggs.

Oddly, it ended up being paleo. Totally unintentional, but completely delicious.

Bacon-Avocado Cracklins Deviled Eggs

Yes, cracklins. Pork rinds. I swear, they’re delicious.

Bacon-Avocado Cracklins Deviled Eggs

Get Series(ous). Your next great read, and #PALEO deviled eggs. #FitFluential #jerf Click To Tweet

Bacon-Avocado Cracklins Deviled Eggs Bacon-Avocado Cracklins Deviled Eggs

 

Bacon-Avocado Cracklins Deviled Eggs

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 15 minutes-1 hour

Keywords: appetizer breakfast side snack low-carb paleo nut-free soy-free

Ingredients (2 dozen deviled eggs)

  • 12 large eggs, hard boiled
  • 5 slices of bacon, cooked, crumbled, and with the fat set aside
  • 1/2-1 large ripe avocado (to taste/texture)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • large pinch salt
  • pepper
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1 snack sized bag of PLAIN cracklins, crushed

Instructions

halve eggs, place yolks in a bowl

mash eggs with a fork,

add rendered bacon fat, mustard, butter, vinegar, salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic

mash avocado and add to mix

stir until mostly smooth or mix with a blender to achieve completely smooth texture

pipe into egg whites

top with crushed cracklins

CONSUME WITH YOUR FACE

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Get Series(ous). #5

It is 2 degrees in NYC. Two. As in 1+1. It’s the most basic math equation one ever learns, and all I can think is one plus one equals fuck you. I don’t want to leave the happy hollow I’ve created out of a pile of duvets and fuzzy blankets. I have a steaming mug of coffee, a filled thermos of the liquid sanity, and endless pages of fiction to write–and to read–in front of me. Damn the outdoors, I’m not even going to put on proper pants today.

Because I’m a writer, I’m going to pretend that’s ok.

Today’s Get Series(ous) series takes place in sunny Chicago!

Oh wait…

witch's tit. A closeup.

Ok, so, negative one minus one also equals fuck you–probably.

For whom is this series perfect?

The grown-up who loved The Bridge to Terebithia. They might-could-possibly tell you every story line in every Nancy Drew book. Their first movie boyfriend was Louis de Pointe du Lac, and then they read the book and fell in love with the tortured Lestat. (Obviously, the book is the original, but hey, they were 11 when the movie was released!! QUIT JUDGING ME, IT WAS BRAD PITT!)

This reader might have loved the show Sports Night. Not because of the sportsing going on, but because of the beautiful layers of sarcasm. Because there’s really nothing more important than the ability to embrace the “meh” in everything.

This reader is probably physically active–or at least has aspirations of activity. (Doing the walkings and the liftings of heavy things is hard when one plus one equals fuck you.) Reading about training and dancing and other strenuous physical activities that make you sweaty is really a motivator!

don’t pretend looking at this doesn’t make you…warm.

This was totally not just another excuse to place a Fassbender .gif.

this was.

This reader may also love the bacon and the pizza(ish) and the junk food. They make late-night runs for Hot Beef if they live in Brooklyn. Italian beef if they live in Chicago. Creamed beef in Youngstown. Hidden beef eaten in a closet of shame at 2am in Los Angeles.

What’s the series?

The Chicagoland Vampire Series by Chloe Neill. (book is link.)

The Blurb from book 1: (pictured above)

They killed me. They healed me. They changed me.

Sure, the life of a graduate student wasn’t exactly glamorous, but I was doing fine until Chicago’s vampires announced their existence to the world. When a rogue vampire attacked me, I was lucky he only got a sip. Another bloodsucker scared him off and decided the best way to save my life was to make me the walking undead.

Now I’ve traded sweating over my thesis for learning to fit in at a Hyde Park mansion full of vamps loyal to Ethan “Lord o’ the Manor” Sullivan. Of course, as a tall, green-eyed,
four-hundred-year-old vampire, he has centuries’ worth of charm, but unfortunately he expects my gratitude—and servitude. Right…

But someone’s out to get me. Is it the rogue vampire who bit me? A vamp from a rival House? An angry mob bearing torches?

My initiation into Chicago’s nightlife may be the first skirmish in a war—and there will be blood.

Why I love it:

This series was not even on my radar until a few years ago when my PSM told me that I really must read it. I was burned out on romances, and just wanted some action. (Take that as you will.) 

I wanted a book that didn’t make me feel like my feminism was perishing slowly under the weight of the Bellas and my own insecurities. I am SO glad she pointed me toward this (and a few other) series.

Not these Bellas. They’re aca-awesome.

Here is a protagonist who is smart, (PhD candidate) athletic, (dancer!) and she never once thinks a man is the key to solving her problems. She is not the polite, tractable female so common in PNR/UF.

Even when she does catch a man’s eye. He doesn’t–I don’t know–take her to a red room of dubious consent, or stalk her at night while telling her that her virginity is a sacred bloom that should be preserved. Sort of like this other flower held by this other dude with consent issues….

Bitches love libraries–and autonomy.

Nope. What does this guy do? He places her in a position of authority–even over himself–apart from him. He doesn’t mansplain or pull punches. He balls-to-the-wall Betty Friedans her vampire ass.

It’s great.

The series is lengthy, sitting pretty at eleven books (more to come!). However, this is not like some long series that died a painful death long before the last story is told. I’m actually EAGER to read the next novel that is to be released on 3/2. I’ve preordered. There’s a certain tingly feeling of anticipation when I think about the next book. I’m not at all eye-rolling the next book, dreading the nails to be added to the coffin of a once-loved storyline. Each book is fresh and engaging.

I honest-to-Pete have no idea how she’s kept me so interested. Homegirl must have Nora Roberts level book-penning juju.

It would be easy to get ensnared into a too-convoluted storyline, what with the multitudinous supernatural groups populating this series. From the shifters and their acute noesis, to the nymphs and their libidinous natures, and the fae, and their ass-basketedness. It never does, though. It simply works.

Put on a pair of leather pants, get yourself something made with bacon, and dig into these books.

The recipe inspired by the series:

In the book, the MC, Merit, is a bit of a junk food junkie. She loves deep dish, Italian beef, and her beloved, “mallocakes.” In the series, they’re a chocolate and marshmallow confection, similar to Mallomars. I knew I could recreate something similar, but just doing a plain old Mallomar copycat seemed lame. So I made them better.

Green Tea and Dark Chocolate “Mallocakes”

or less creatively-infringing

Green Tea and Dark Chocolate Mallow Cakes.

Because, umami.

marshmallow recipe adapted from this one.

Green Tea and Dark Chocolate Mallow Cakes Green Tea and Dark Chocolate Mallow Cakes

Get Series(ous). This time, with mallocakes. Bookies and Cookies, Oh my! Click To Tweet

Green Tea and Dark Chocolate Mallow Cakes.

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 45 minutes-1 hour

Cook Time: 4 hours+of passing time

Keywords: snack dessert bars cookie

Ingredients

    for the marshmallow

    • 2 packages of unflavored gelatin (use Knox)
    • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
    • 2/3 cup water
    • 1 cup superfine sugar
    • pinch of sea salt
    • 2 tbsp matcha powder
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup corn starch
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • cooking spray

    for the bottoms

    • one sleeve of graham crackers

    for the chocolate coating

    • one bag of dark chocolate chips

    optional

    • crushed almonds or matcha powder to dust the tops of the mallocakes.

    Instructions

    mix together the corn starch and powdered sugar and set aside

    spray a 13″-9″ pan with cooking spray

    sift some of the flour/sugar mixture over all of that spray, coating the inside of the pan

    break down the graham crackers into quarters and layer in a single layer into the bottom of the pan, using halves of those quarters to finish the layer if need be.

    to make the marshmallow

    divide the water in half, place half in a mixer bowl with gelatin

    add half to a heavy-bottomed saucepan with sugar, corn syrup, and salt.

    (spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before adding corn syrup for easy removal!)

    cover and turn to medium high

    let cook for about 4 minutes

    uncover and cook about 5 more minutes, or until the sides begin to boil.

    remove from heat immediately.

    place whisk attachment in mixer and turn to low, when the jelly mixture sort of gets globby,

    pour in hot sugar mixture in very slowly

    when it’s all in, turn mixer to high and whip that stuff for a damn long time

    about 15 minutes-until it’s really fluffy and white, like marshmallow fluff

    add in the matcha powder and vanilla in the last minute or two

    pour over the graham cracker mixture and spread with an offset spatula

    cover with a dusting of more of the corn starch and sugar mix

    let sit in the open air for a few hours (no less than 3) or overnight.

    to coat

    it’s really easiest to melt the chocolate in increments in the microwave, 30 seconds on high, stir, repeat, take to 15 seconds for a few times, until smooth.

    Avengers! Assemble!

    turn out the marshmallow/graham pan onto a dusted cutting board

    using a BIG pizza cutter that you’ve rolled through the sugar/starch mix, cut between the crackers, and shake off the excess dust

    place marshmallow up onto a cookie sheet lined with a cooling rack and silpat or parchment

    spoon melted chocolate over each piece and let coat or dip tops into the melted chocolate.

    while chocolate is still tacky, dust with almonds or matcha

    let set–about an hour.

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    Get Series(ous). #4

    Before we get into this week’s series, let me give you a little update on my marathon training, and a bit about coffee with friends.

    Last week I ran a clean 60. My eustachian tube (the thing that leads to your eardrum–mine is effed up) has been bugging the hell out of me, so my longest run was only 14 miles. I hit it heavier during the week, including cross-training on the row machine and the stair climber.

    I have come to the conclusion that nothing is more frustrating than repeatedly going up stairs and never getting anywhere. It’s worse than the treadmill, it’s way worse than an elliptical, it makes the row machine look like utopia. Basically, I’d rather have a Golgathan shit demon give me a pedicure than ever get back on that stupid thing.

    just keep climbing. just keep climbing.

    I did precisely zero yoga this week, as I was simply too busy. Brigitte, my future yoga ass, was not added to in the slightest. However, Ursula, my wino ass, was padded quite nicely.

    Ok, ONTO THE BOOKS!!

    Get Series(ous).

    This week’s series is definitely a departure from the other three I’ve presented to you so far.

    Hear me out. This week’s series is historical fiction set in the medieval era. I know, I know, you want to wave this one away because you once took an English History course wherein you fell asleep before you even reached the first Tudor. (Plantage-who?)

    It doesn’t matter. I am quite certain most people will love these books. However, I know you’re looking for a more-specific set of parameters of who best is suited to this particular series.

    This series is for the person who randomly quotes Braveheart or Excalibur. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves made you batty with Costner’s shit accent, period inappropriate costumes, and badly-researched script.

    You may love all of those sexy Highland romances, or perhaps the movie Elizabeth. When you were little, you dreamed of being a princess or the King. You know all about ermine and chainmail.

    It’s quite possible you’ve been to a Medieval Times, and wished the actors actually drew blood. (Because, jousting tourneys should end with a good maiming!)

    What’s the series?

     

    It’s the William Marshal series by Elizabeth Chadwick.

    The Blurb:

    Based on fact, this is the story of William Marshal, the greatest knight of the Middle Ages. Unsurpassed in the tourneys, he adeptly manoeuvres his way through the colourful, dangerous world of Angevin politics to become one of the most powerful magnates of the realm and eventually regent of England. From minor beginnings and a narrow escape from death in childhood, William Marshal steadily rises through the ranks to become tutor in arms to the son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. As champion on the tourney field and a royal favorite, William is in danger of petty jealousies at court. Dogged by scandal, banished from court, his services are nevertheless sought throughout Europe and when William’s honour is vindicated, he returns to court to win greater acclaim and power than before. A crusader and the only knight ever to unhorse the legendary Richard Coeur de Lion, William’s courage and steadfastness are rewarded by the hand in marriage of Anglo-Irish heiress Isobel de Clare, 19 years old, the grandaughter of kings and his equal in every way.

    What I love:

    This series is not merely a story told over several (5) novels. The William Marshal Series by Elizabeth Chadwick is a well-researched, sweeping epic of a tale, told by one of the world’s foremost Marshal scholars. It is fiction, yes, but it’s the sort of fiction that drives you to learn much more–beyond that of what’s in the pages you’ve read. It is similar to how fans of the Outlander series often become obsessed with the Jacobite revolution; readers of this series become desirous of knowledge of the medieval monarchies and courtly love. 

    This series will serve as a beautiful exordium into the vast canon that is historical fiction. And who knows, maybe even historical non-fiction. (It’s not all as dry as what you were forced to stomach in school.)

    These books are not 200 page afternoon snacks. They’re meaty and long, and a full meal in and of themselves. (TWHS) At over 500 pages each, these books will take a few days to read, but let me tell you, they are PAGE-TURNERS. Think of what William Marshal witnessed! The fall of England in Normandy, a sibling rivalry and monarch so unpredictable that Shakespeare decided to immortalize it.

    He stood witness to the MAGNA CARTA.

    These are not small things.

    Throughout the series, Elizabeth Chadwick takes on the heavy task of fluidly telling their stories in a fashion that maintains reader interest and piques their curiosity. She not only manages this–she excels. Every book is a revelation, each installment serving as lung and mallet for the reader, both keeping them lively into it, and forcing the breath from their lungs upon its completion. I daresay holding a bit of it hostage until the next book.

    Absolutely a five-star series. Read it.

    And now, the food.

    I thought about creating a recipe revolving around this series, but they mostly ate meat and bread with honey, and drank a lot of booze. Granted, I’d be more than happy to just pour myself a glass of sherry and drizzle some honey on a flatbread and call it a day, but that’s not much of a recipe, is it? Yeah, no.

    So I formatted a recipe for my training.

    Almond Butter and Date Protein Smoothie

    Delicious, a GREAT recovery or a meal. It packs a caloric punch, about 500 calories, but it’s all-natural, filling as a mother, and SO GOOD.

    almond butter and date protein smoothie

     

     

    Almond Butter and Date Protein Smoothie

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 2 minutes

    Cook Time: 2 minutes

    Keywords: blender breakfast dessert snack entree

    Ingredients (1 smoothie)

    • 1, 5-6 oz container plain greek yogurt
    • 1/2 cup milk (any)
    • 5-6 dates, pitted
    • 2 tbsp almond butter
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • handful of ice

    Instructions

    dump ingredients into blender

    blend

    drink

    (straw optional)

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    Get Series(ous). #3

    True story: I had to edit the ever-loving hell out of this post…

    Today’s Get Series(ous). is a favorite of mine, and I could wax poetic about it all damn day. Apparently, I planned on it, because the original post was pushing 2,000 words.

    Get Series(ous).

    Today’s series is for someone who loves the unexpected. Surprise parties are your favorite parties, and you never read spoilers for books or movies.

    You believe that good can be found even in the bleakest of situations.

    You recognize that family is not only comprised of those to whom you were born, but those of whom you chose.

    If you were a fan of Angels in America (yes, I am making that comparison…hear me out) because you understood the depth of the struggle of a crisis of faith. You can see the beauty in the everyday. 

    Yet? You still want to escape. You want to go to that place where reality slips away, and your burdens are no longer your own, and you’re experiencing the thoughts and actions of someone else for a while. You want to experience falling in love, and making a home, and learning new things; and the cacophonies of new emotions swirling from the linguistic gramophone of the novel into your mind’s ear and deep into your heart.

    Also? You may have a thing for guys with tattoos who draw on you with a soft sable brush while you’re naked.

    Because, WHO WOULDN’T WANT THAT?

    What series is it that I speak of with such annoying sycophancy?

    Pictures are links, as I do.

    The Blurb from book 1, The Scribe:

    Hidden at the crossroads of the world, an ancient race battles to protect humanity, even as it dies from within.

    Ava Matheson came to Istanbul looking for answers, but others came looking for her. A reckless warrior guards her steps, but will Malachi’s own past blind him to the truth of who Ava might be? While ancient forces gather around them, both Ava and Malachi search for answers.

    Whispering voices. Deadly touch. Their passion should be impossible… or it could be the only thing that will keep them alive.

    What I love about it:

    The Irin Chronicles is a wholly refreshing series in the oft-overdone worlds of paranormal romance. It feels fresh and previously completely unimagined. Elizabeth Hunter’s world-building is on-par with that of master world-builders like Neil Gaiman (think: Anansi Boys) or Stephen King (think: The Dark Tower). But the stories are told through a distinctly romantic voice. The magic of her storytelling is that the romance in The Irin Chronicles becomes so seamlessly entwined with the other aspects of the story–like the setting, or certain symbolic elements–that it becomes altered, and somehow more. The whole of this series is certainly more than the sum of its parts; but the parts–they’re enough to stand on their own, acting as brave sentry over a text that erupts with newly-ignited passions and soul. 

    Why I think you’ll love it, and the basics:

    If you’ve reached a point in your romance reading that you roll your eyes at every story, and quickly flip through pages, humming the “read this before, saw that coming” tune, then this is one to pick up. 

    This is not the gajillionaire vampire meets a pretty virgin and bites her after breaching her maidenhead story you’ve read to exhaustion. This series doesn’t even hold any propinquity with those tales.

    There are currently two books in this series of three. They are available in paperback, ebook, and the OMG SO WELL-READ AUDIOBOOK. Seriously. I suggest getting the kindle and the audible version so that you can switch back and forth and finish it in exactly zero time, and so that you can hear the narrator read it and give you tingly tingles in your tingle places. (Your heart you scamps. Mind out of the gutter!)

    The big announcement.

    The final Irin Scribe Chronicles novel, The Secret will be released on March 31.

    HOLY HOWEVER YOU SAY “CRAP” IN THE OLD LANGUAGE USED IN THE SERIES! 

    I’m having a moment. I’m going to need to re-read, re-listen to them again soon to refresh my brain. 

    <700 words. I took an angelic blade to this post for y’all.  Never let it be said I do not love you.

    Now? The food.

    The Irin Chronicles takes place all over Turkey (and the cold north, but mostly Turkey) and having that, I knew I wanted to re-create one of my favorite dishes from a local Turkish restaurant, Taci’s Beyti. They have PHENOMENAL food. However, a fuckton of it is fried. I simply am not in the place where I want to be eating fried food all the time.

    Therefore, I took their sigara boregi (feta cigars) and made it healthier and easier. Because, let’s face it, phyllo dough is delicious, but that stuff is a bitch. I used Russian “pastry leaves” which I love, but extra-thin egg roll wrappers would work as well. Also, those awesome g-free egg roll wraps would also suffice.

    Baked Feta Cigars

    baked feta cigars baked feta cigars baked feta cigars

     

    Baked Feta Cigars

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 5-8 minutes

    Keywords: bake appetizer side dessert vegetarian Mediterranean

    Ingredients (unlimited….but this recipe m)

    • 3/4 lb or more of sturdy, reduced salt, feta cheese
    • 1 package of pastry leaves or egg roll wrappers
    • zest of one or more lemons
    • 1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp water
    • cooking spray

    optional ingredients

    • chopped dates
    • chopped olives
    • honey
    • dill
    • parsley
    • crushed almonds

    Instructions

    Preheat oven to 450F

    cut the feta into sticks (about 4″ by 1/2″)

    chill sticks to near freezing *place in freezer 5-10 minutes

    place about one inch from the edge of a pastry leaf, leaving about 3″ in front, and an 1″ on either side

    sprinkle with lemon zest.

    brush all edges with egg wash. (that egg and water mixture)

    roll like a burrito, tail up, sides in, and roll forward

    place on a cookie sheet that is sprayed with cooking spray

    spray the cigars with cooking spray and brush the tops with egg wash

    bake 5-8 minutes or until tops brown

    eat immediately

    These can be assmbled, tied with twine, and frozen if you’d like to make a ton and then just bake them off. The egg wash and spray should not be applied before freezing.

    options

    add chopped olives on top of the feta before you roll

    same for nuts or seeds

    sweet version

    add chopped dates to feta and then drizzle with honey after baking.

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    Get Series(ous).

    Last week, in this post,  I started a new series on the blog wherein I am going to recommend different book series for different types of people. But first…an update on my marathon training.

    Today, (I’m writing this on Sunday night) was going to be a quick run. 5-8 miles. Instead, because NYC is expecting the blizzard which may or may not end the world as we know it, I did my long run. Tomorrow, I will do speed work before doomsday arrives.

    It was just the crazy Scotsman and me, and we made quick work of our 14 miles. (just over 2 hours) I then ran, quite literally, to the grocery store for various and sundry supplies. Just in case Mother Nature decides to be an obdurate bitch, and opens up a can on Brooklyn. I’m beginning to question my decision not to include booze…tomorrow. I’ll get wine tomorrow.

    Gods save me from snow days.

    Now?

    THE BOOKS!! (And then the food. You know how I do.)

    Get Series(ous).

     

    The series of the week is… (book is link)

    The Soul Eaters Series by Eliza Crewe. Honestly? I JUST read the first one last week, and I JUST finished the second book in the middle of the night last night. The third is due out this year.

    And I want to go and do it all again.

    Who should read this series? 

    That’s easy.

    This book is perfect for the girl who talks to herself in the shower. Not out-loud, mind you, but the girl who has a vivid imagination, and isn’t afraid to use it. She is caught smiling to herself on long runs or walks because she just thought of something funny.

    She may have a soft spot for damaged people, and secretly finds a dumb jock endearing, but nothing to get excited about.

    She knows that life isn’t black and white, and that learning to live in the gray areas is the best way to move forward.

    She may like the comedy of Margaret Cho. She probably watched Buffy. She may fucking love every word Darynda Jones has ever written.

    Overall, she’s a funny, super-chill chick with whom you just want to get a beer and hang out.

    Is this you? Of course it is. You’re reading my blog. 

    The Blurb.

    Meet Meda. She eats people.

    Well, technically, she eats their soul. But she totally promises to only go for people who deserve it. She’s special. It’s not her fault she enjoys it. She can’t help being a bad guy. Besides, what else can she do? Her mother was killed and it’s not like there are any other “soul-eaters” around to show her how to be different. That is, until the three men in suits show up.

    They can do what she can do. They’re like her. Meda might finally have a chance to figure out what she is. The problem? They kind of want to kill her. Before they get the chance Meda is rescued by crusaders, members of an elite group dedicated to wiping out Meda’s kind. This is her chance! Play along with the “good guys” and she’ll finally figure out what, exactly, her ‘kind’ is.

    Be careful what you wish for. Playing capture the flag with her mortal enemies, babysitting a teenage boy with a hero complex, and trying to keep one step ahead of a too-clever girl are bad enough. But the Hunger is gaining on her.

    The more she learns, the worse it gets. And when Meda uncovers a shocking secret about her mother, her past, and her destiny… she may finally give into it.

    My favorite quote:

    “I’m pretty sure Jo couldn’t talk about the weather without somehow including a threat. Forecast today: cloudy with a chance I’ll kick your ass.

    My review:

    These books are YA, yes. However, there is absolutely no reason for an adult not to go over the moon for them. What Eliza Crewe pulls off in these books is a stunning feat. Imagine, you’re an author, and you have this protagonist who could very much end up being completely unlikeable and unsympathetic. She’s a halfling of evil, and does terrible things. She’s not a straight-forward, you have to like me because I’m cute, cheerful MC. She’s an enigma with a wicked sense of humor.

    That character isn’t going to be easy to make genuinely likable–yet–Ms Crewe pulls it off. She pulls together the strangest filaments of personality from the Meyers-Briggs, and braids them together into a fine knot-work into a deeply textured character. A character you can cheer for.

    *A character for whom you’re willing to end a sentence with a preposition, because the alternative sounds too weird in the review.*

    Meda is snarky and sassy, humble, and self-deprecating. She doesn’t always react with grace, but who in the Hell does? (pun intended–read the books) Sometimes, when life throws you a curveball, you get hit.

    Sometimes you have to take the fall to land where you belong.

    That’s exactly what Meda does. And she does it while kicking ALL THE ASS.

    The book has great pacing, with very few bits where you’d think “ok and then?” Which is my normal reaction to YA. I didn’t find myself rushing through passages to get to the action, because the building scenes were just as interesting. I also found myself sort of falling in love with the secondary and tertiary characters–which is great. Because, usually, one character will not propel me to read an entire series.

    A twisted bit of the story I found myself really enjoying is the anthropomorphizing of the hunger (read:The Hunger) into an entity. Ms Crewe rather brilliantly spirals a natural/supernatural bodily function into a nearly fully-formed character or subset of Meda’s self. It doesn’t sound like it could work, but it does. I think it works even better here, than did “The Nothing” in The Neverending Story.  Both unusual uses of “it” as “whom,” but, in the end, I appreciated “The Hunger” more for its realization.

    By the time I finished the first book, I sat back and realized that my damned cheeks hurt. from.smiling. I read for hours, and apparently, smiled for approximately the same length of time. I am no pageant queen to have cheeks and facial muscles that are exercised in this manner as to not cry foul at their mistreatment. I am a writer. brood. I’m really good at scowling. will need botox very soon for that line in the middle of my brows that I get from frowning. Seriously, even while acting, I’m the crass and dodgy bitch in the green room trying to game face the fuck out of my competition.

    wanna see my gameface?

    IMG_1123

    totally sober, people. Also the light is giving me a lady stache. I hope it’s the light. I am Eastern European.

    4 stars.

    Boom. Mic Drop. I’m out. Read it.

    Ok….the FOOD.

    So, I really wanted cheese…and broccoli…and tomatoes, after my run. Sure, I could’ve made broccoli and cheese soup and tomato sandwiches, but then, I’d have to, you know, work for my lunch. PSSSHHH, I was not doing that. Plus, I don’t think I had enough heavy cream to make the soup base.

    So I did the next best thing. I made stuffed tomatoes. Broccoli and cheese stuffed tomatoes. So good you’ll want to lick my face, stuffed tomatoes. But not the gameface. I can’t laugh while gamefacing.

    Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

    Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 15 minutes

    Ingredients (4-6 tomato halves depending on)

    • 2-4 large beefsteak tomatoes, halved and gutted
    • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
    • 1/3 cup grated fontina plus 3 tbsp grated fontina for topping
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1/3 cup chopped, cooked broccoli (great use up for leftover roasted broccoli)
    • 1/4-1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning/herb mix
    • 2 tbsp mayo
    • 1 tbsp softened butter
    • salt and pepper

    Instructions

    preheat oven to 400F

    slice a sliver off of the bottom of each tomato half so that it sits flat

    place halves on cookie sheet

    salt and pepper the halves

    combine all the ingredients save the topping cheese and mix well

    stuff a scoop into each half and top with more cheese

    roast until crispy brown on top and JUICY.

    consume. now. in your face hole.

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