Monday, August 31, 2015

Dinner Planning Funk - Dinner Solved!

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. No compensation was received for this post.
I have been stuck in a dinner planning funk. On the plus side, the family is still eating three meals a day. On the down side, at 5 pm, as I am wrapping up my work day, I have no idea what I am going to come home and prepare for the family. This is a little stressful and limiting in the sense that somethings require advance prep or at least advance defrosting.

It's times like this that I am glad that I generally have some convenience items in my pantry and a set of staples (at least to us) in my refrigerator. The other night, when the decision of what to have for dinner was still unanswered, I opened up my pantry looking for inspiration and saw that I had a jar of Herdez Mexican Cooking Sauces - Traditional Chipotle. This was all the inspiration that I needed for a quick, flavorful and balanced meal for my family.
I pulled some already grilled chicken out of the freezer, along with two slices of already cooked bacon and set it in my saute pan to warm it up. Once it was warm, I added in part of the jar of the Traditional Chipotle sauce. I grabbed a bag of shredded Mexican style cheese, a bag of salad, sour cream and a package of Chi-Chi's Flour Tortillas out of the fridge. Also, from my pantry, I grabbed some rice and a can of pinto beans and prepped both. From the garden, I had the kids grab a couple of tomatoes and an onion, which I diced up.

In a matter of about 15 minutes, I had prepared a flavorful dinner. Some ate it more like a salad or bowl, others prepared soft tacos with beans and rice on the side.

How do you handle those unplanned dinner nights? I just checked out their recipe page and I discovered a number of recipes that I could have also used for a quick meal.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some product samples for my family to try. I also receive thought starters and information that can be used in a post.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Among the Fair Magnolias #LoveStories #Review

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

I've discovered a new love and yet I find it frustrating too! What you ask? Novellas. Short Stories.

I recently had the chance to read Among the Fair Magnolias, a collection of four period fiction novellas. Three of the stories were captivating and I quickly joined into the lives of the main characters (it says Southern Women, but I feel that An Outlaw's heart is as much, if not more, about Russell than Nora). It was satisfying to pick up the book and read the story in one sitting. The novellas were each around 90 pages, perfect for a quick read. However, when I got to the end, I was so bummed that it was over I had already become invested in the story and wanted to know more.

I want to clarify, as I say three of the stories were captivating and the book contains four novellas. For whatever reason, the one story just was difficult for me to quickly engage in - I read it, but the experience was not the same for me as it was with the other stories. I will not dwell on this, because the overall book is great.

I think my favorite story was To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander. There was just something about Savannah that I found hard to resist. I haven't read any other stories by Tamera Alexander, but based on this short, I would love to check out some of her other books.

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray was the first, non-Amish work that I have read by her. She is one of my favorite current authors and I find all of her works to have great character development and a story the reader can easily engage in; this story was no different.

If you enjoy period fiction and if you enjoy a quick read, like this busy mom, then I recommend checking out Among the Fair Magnolias.

About the book:
Among the Fair Magnolias (Thomas Nelson, July 2015)

In the most turbulent decade of our nation's history, four Southern women---destinies forged by birth, hearts steeled by war---face near impossible choices on their journeys in life . . . and in love.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander
Savannah Darby would do almost anything to revisit her family home. So when new owner, Aidan Bedford, a Boston attorney and former Union soldier, seeks to redecorate the house for his fiancée, Savannah jumps at the opportunity. But the clock is ticking. Can she find the box her father supposedly hid there during the war before her assignment is completed? And before she sees yet another battle lost on the home front. This time, one of the heart.

An Outlaw's Heart by Shelley Gray

When Russell Stark returns to Fort Worth, he's determined to begin a new life. But when he arrives at his mother's homestead, he discovers she's very ill, and the woman he loved is still as beautiful and sweet as he remembered. With time running out, Russell must come to terms with both his future and his past.

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love
Abigail knows all too well what is expected of her: to marry her distant cousin Charles and take her place in society. But her heart belongs to another. A terrible incident forces Abby to choose between love and duty.

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser
Emily has a secret: She's in love with one of the freedmen on her family's plantation. Meanwhile, another man declares his love for her. Emily realizes some things are not as they seem and secrets must be kept in order to keep those she loves safe.

Purchase a copy here.

About the authors:

Tamera Alexander is the best-selling author of numerous books including A Lasting Impression and The Inheritance. Tamera is a two-time Christy Award winner, two-time RITA winner, and a recipient of the prestigious Library Journal Award. A native of west Tennessee. website, Twitter, Facebook

Dorothy Love makes her home in the Texas hill country with her husband and their golden retriever. An award-winning author of numerous young adult novels, Dorothy made her adult debut with the Hickory Ridge novels. website, Twitter, Facebook

Shelley Gray is the author of The Heart of a Hero series. Her Amish novel (written as Shelley Shepard Gray), The Protector, recently made the New York Times best seller list. website, Twitter, Facebook

Elizabeth Musser, a native of Atlanta, Georgia now living in France, is a novelist who writes what she calls 'entertainment with a soul.' For over 25 years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in mission work with International Teams. website, Twitter, Facebook

Learn more about the book, the authors and read other reviews on the Blog Tour page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.