I’ve been reading a series of Coffeehouse Mysteries. When reading them I always get a craving for coffee and in the last book, I got a hankering for a coffee muffin. So I scoured the internet for a while trying to decide what I wanted to try. I considered healthy versions of the muffins but at last decided, that if I’m going to eat a chocolate coffee muffin, I’m not going to make it healthy…it’ll be a true treat. So finally, I landed on Serious Eats’ page and decided that looked good. I made a few tweaks and here we are.
Espresso Double Dark Chocolate Muffins
Adapted from Serious Eats
Yields: 18 muffins
- 2 c all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c Hershey’s unsweetened dark cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 c sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 c vegetable oil
- 1 c plus 2 Tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 Tbsp espresso powder
- 1 1/2 c extra dark chocolate chips, divided (I used Guittard)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray standard muffin tin with non-stick pan spray. (I highly recommend you don’t use paper muffins cups on this recipe.)
Stir flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl; set aside. In large bowl, whisk sugar with eggs. Whisk in oil, milk, vanilla, and espresso until combined.
Whisk dry mixture into wet mixture until just combined. Stir in 1 cup chips.
Evenly divide batter between muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining chips. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, 15-17 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan 15 minutes, then remove muffins from tin and place on wire rack to cool completely.
The Practice House was a freebie that had been sitting in my Kindle list for months…maybe 6 months or more. I finally got around to reading it and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s set in the 1930s primarily in Kansas then in California. It follows a woman from Scotland, Aldine, who moves to America and winds up in Kansas as a teacher staying with a family. The family is split on their thoughts of her. The father, son, and youngest daughter adore her. The mother and oldest daughter do not like her and often show as much. But the woman remains until the family finally is forced to leave Kansas for California. There’s a drought and the youngest is sick and won’t make it there. The Scottish woman cannot go with the family so she stays behind. That’s mostly part 1. I’ll hold part 2 of the story to save the spoilers but it’s a true love story not just between a man and a woman but a family and a woman. It’s a good one despite being a lengthy book (almost 500 pages!). You get wrapped up in the story and often times don’t want to put it down. If you like historic fiction, this is one I definitely suggest picking up.
My goodreads rating: 4 stars
How I read it: Kindle
The other day I got a hankering for pasta salad and I’d recently heard about pasta made from lentils or chickpeas. So of course, I had to experiment, and Caprese Pasta Salad was born!
Caprese Pasta Salad
1 8 oz. box chickpea pasta (any pasta will do really)
1/2 c pesto
1 pint cherry tomatoes (I like the orange or multicolored ones)
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, pearl sized
salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Note, if you’re using any kind of veggie pasta, you may want to undercook it a bit so it doesn’t get too mushy.
- Strain cooked pasta and allow to cool for a few minutes. You can run cool water over it if you’d like.
- Mix pasta, pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella in a large bowl until pesto coats all the other ingredients.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
The Marriage Lie was loaned to me by my mother-in-law. She said she thought I’d like it and would I please share my thoughts when I finished. So I moved it up in my pile of books to read. It was a psychological thriller type. The premise is that Iris’s husband dies in a plane crash. Except, he wasn’t supposed to be on that plane. This leads to a pile of secrets and deception coming to the surface about her husband, the husband she’s just celebrated 7 years of marriage with and one she thought was perfect.
I really enjoyed this book. I swept through it quickly and thought about the story when I wasn’t reading it, trying to puzzle out what was going on. I also really enjoyed the characters. They seemed likable and I felt like I could see them playing out in a movie. In fact, I think this would make a great movie.
My goodreads rating: 4 stars
How I read it: paperback
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware was a book I’d been wanting to read but it wasn’t until my mother-in-law lent me a copy that I really moved it up on my “to-read” list. It was nothing like I expected but truth be told, I didn’t know much about it other than it was hot on the book club rounds.
It was a little slow and I found the main character, Lo, rather hard to relate to. While seemingly confident in herself to pursue her concerns, she seemed like a weak character and rather unlikeable. While Lo’s partner wasn’t a large part of the book, I found myself sad for him even at the end. I also found the characters on the ship to be so similar I had a hard time keeping track of who was who.
It wasn’t until close to the end the whole story became interesting enough to hold my attention for more than a chapter or two. But once the story really unfolded, it seemed predictable even though I didn’t see the twist coming.
My goodreads rating: 2 stars
How I read it: paperback
I had high hopes for this book. I love Giffin‘s other books and really wanted to like First Comes Love. But…I really didn’t. It followed the accounts of 2 sisters who lost their brother at the beginning of the book. Fast forward 15 years and read how their lives have turned out. Honestly? Not great but it follows their relationship together, with their families, friends, and their own selves to try to turn around. I don’t want to give away spoilers so I’ll focus on the main characters: Meredith and Josie. Neither is all that likeable but if I had to pick, I’d pick Josie. Meredith is cold and skeptical while Josie has a job she excels out and loves that seems very mature yet she’s a mess outside of it. She doesn’t seem to see past herself…even when there’s something/someone staring her in the face to see past herself and her own desires. Meredith on the other hand is skeptical of everyone and plays martyr the whole time.
One could argue their both strong women knowing what they want and going after it but there are strong arguments for seeing them both as broken, selfish, and blame-placing. The book does turn around a little in the end for me but I still look back on it a few days after finishing it being disappointed that the characters were so unlikeable and selfish in the end.
If you like Giffin, I recommend reading it. I’m really hoping it’s set up itself up for a sequel so I can read it and hopefully see the story continue to try and redeem itself.
I just finished A Spool of Blue Thread last week.It was a slow one to read. The story was interesting but I never really felt like there was a true plot. It wasn’t until about halfway through I realized the plot was the lazy story-telling about the family it follows–The Whitshanks. I don’t mean lazy as in bad, I just mean lazy as a story you’d tell on someone’s front porch, which incidentally a front porch is key in the story. In fact, the house is key as much as the people are. The book follows The Whitshanks and how they became The Whitshanks. It’s an interesting story to see how a family becomes the family they are…all siblings and extended parts of them. You find out the personalities and relationships behind each person and how or why they interact the way they do. It’s relate-able in that everyone has a certain type of person in their family…you know, the know-it-all, the caretaker, the slacker, the hot-head.
While I liked the book, it’s not one I got really drawn into until the end and then I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more. While broken into parts, it still felt like the story was told backwards and primarily in flashbacks. But the ending was very abrupt. I wish I’d read it as part of a book club because there were discussion questions at the end that really made me want to have someone to talk to about it! So if you read it, let me know so we can talk about that ending.
I’ve been reading like crazy and felt the need to start up this blog again with book reviews of what I’m reading lately. I’ll just pick up with what I’ve just finished:
I watch Thore’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life and while I find her a little high on drama, unlike some reality shows, I don’t find her fake. Sure, with any reality show recording you can imagine some scenes are set up and situations are probably made more dramatic than they’d normally be but she seems real. So when she announced she had a book coming out, I put it on my “to-read” list. I just finished reading, “I Do It With the Lights On.”
I thought it was a good read. It was an easy read and it details her journey to becoming a fat person. She says she always struggled with her weight and talks about dealing with that in a society that is hard on fat people but especially fat women. She talks about growing up with parents who were incredibly loving and doting but fed her insecurity with her size. I’ve read some books with a similar message but what I liked about this book is she details her journey to really dealing with society and haters (and some lovers) of fat people. I know she still deals with people hating and saying she’s promoting obesity. I think she’s promoting loving herself, no matter what shape (physical, mental, emotional) it’s in. She seems to generally love a person no matter what they have going on with them. She’s a loud person who happens to be fat and unfortunately this brings her a lot of negative attention. I’m sure she (and this book) are not everyone’s cup of tea but I hope people at least look at her message “No Body Shame” and understand it’s important to respect people, whether you agree or like how they look. You never know what someone is dealing with and she points this out in her book. She made me even take a step back and look at how I view others and myself and realize I do a lot of things to appease society’s view of how I look.
Overall, do I say this should be next on your “to-read” list or stack of books? No, but I think it should be on your list somewhere along the line.
I was fortunate enough to devour two books in April (I’m hoping for that in May but we shall see).
First up was:
How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue
I was actually quite pleased with this book. It starts out as what I think will be two women reuniting a ruined friendship while they start a bakery together but it ends up in a mystery. It flipped back and forth between the mystery aspect and the friend aspect but not in a way that seemed distracting or disjointed. It was a great light read and if you’re a cupcake lover and/or baker like myself, you’ll enjoy reading about the different cupcake flavors that are mentioned. It’s a very illustrative book to read.
Next on the Kindle…
How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
This was recommended to me by a friend. I went from laughing and agreement to anger and disagreement over and over with this book. I almost quit reading many times but I finished. I’m glad I did as it certainly made me think. I think her early years are more humorous as Moran documents her life but I think it shows how a woman can turn her life around and grow into a strong, independent thinking woman who can be funny in a “man’s way” but still be a woman. If that makes sense….
What did you read in April?
Life has been a crazy, hectic, mess of wonderfulness lately. What’s been happening?
Last time I posted I was on the fence about starting Weight Watchers again. Well, I did. I lost 19.7 pounds in the first 3 weeks. Yeah…but while that’s awesome. I’m not getting too terribly excited because 1. it was much of what I’d gained back and 2. I know I can’t keep that amount of weight loss up for the long haul. So YAY for losing but keep the expectations lower on how much I’ll lose consistently. I’m also aware that it may fluctuate a lot over the next few weeks because I’m moving soon and it’s a little stressful.
I went on vacation with the fella and his family. We went to Orlando for 5 days and enjoyed pool time with sunshine and warm temps, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, a gangster inspired dinner theater, La Nouba (a Cirque Du Soleil show), laughter, and a lot of delicious vacation food. Fish and chips, amazing steak, fish. And….I was introduced to jaffa tarts.
Seriously, these things are delicious. Orange flavored cake/cream covered in chocolate. I loved them so much that when I saw them on the menu at the Irish pub the next night, I had them again. Kinda ridiculous but I don’t care. They were amazing.
And now we’re back and in the thick of packing so we can move in 2 weeks. Well, less than 2 weeks. I’m slowly freaking out and then K is calming down the crazy until I freak out again. I have so much stuff. It’s major purge time. I’m getting rid of So. Much. Stuff. I’m definitely one of those people who gets anxious about moving/traveling and while I love it, I get really antsy and uncomfortable right before it happens and I just want it over. I don’t mind flying or the airport process per se, but the night before I fly, I’m just thinking, “Ok, I’d like to be on the other side of this now and skip the flying.” I’m not afraid of it, I just get anxious about the process I guess. I’m the same way with moving. But because moving is much larger than flying across country, I’m at the stage 2 weeks prior of just wanting to be moved in and beginning to unpack.
On top of all of these “big” events there’s a lot on the social calendar. K had a birthday this month, a close friend of our’s had a birthday this month that we’re eager to celebrate, we’ve had family events, and we’re expecting my family to come visit shortly after we move. Like I said, it’s been a crazy, hectic, mess of wonderfulness lately.