With Thanksgiving getting closer everyday I've been thinking hard about what to put on the menu this year. My mom always hosts Thanksgiving but I usually bring several side dishes and desserts. I've compiled a list of a few of my Thanksgiving favorites in hopes that it will help you plan your family celebration as well! I've linked all the recipes to the titles.
me start by saying I’ve always been an overachiever. That admission
comes with a mixture of pride and chagrin. Overachieving carries a
My accomplishments include
becoming one of the first woman partners at a major international law
firm and one of the first female general counsels at a Fortune 500
company. When I left legal practice to study creative writing, I could
have aimed for a cozy mystery or a romance. But, no, my goal was to
write a novel that combined genres. Even worse, I wanted to educate
The tenacity that enabled me to
achieve goals in my legal career remains with me. (Some call it
stubbornness.) My determination to publish a novel that both entertains
and educates lead to ten years of drafting, rejections and a decision to
self-publish. The resulting book is titled Terminal Ambition, A Maggie Mahoney Novel.
is a legal thriller. Reviewers frequently characterize it as a “page
turner,” “fast-paced” and “engrossing.” I can sigh with relief that I’ve
met my goal of entertainment. Thirty-nine reviews on Amazon with a rating of 4.7 stars prove it.
my delight, none of the reviewers objected to the education that
mingled with the thrills. Maggie Mahoney, the protagonist of Terminal Ambition,
fights sexual harassment and discrimination in her Wall Street law
firm. Each of her battles illustrates different manifestations of these
problems and provides an opportunity to educate readers. Her crusade
gripped readers because her antagonists are smart and highly motivated.
The ambition of the firm chairman to be named U.S. Attorney General is
threatened by her disclosures. His second-in-command is unprincipled and
one of the firm’s worst sexual culprits.
In my compulsive, over–achieving way, I added an appendix to Terminal Ambition
in the form of a legal memo from the protagonist that spells out the
legal prohibitions against sexual harassment and discrimination. It also
details 12 escalating steps that a victim of harassment can take in
My insistence on the appendix proved
to be a deal-killer. Originally, I had been inspired to use this device
by Michael Crichton who included appendices setting forth the hard
science behind a few of his thrillers. I refused to eliminate the
appendix because my fundamental goal had been education; a legal
thriller was my chosen genre because many enjoy it. I could spread my
message further in a popular book. If I sound like an evangelist, it’s
because I am when it comes to women’s rights.
The twists and turns of Terminal Ambition provide more than an education. They also lead readers to a moral question. When does ambition become toxic? It’s a question I wish I had asked myself years ago, but that’s a story for my memoir!
ABOUT KATE McGUINNESS
leaving the corporate world, Kate was determined to master writing and
riding, pastimes that often led to confusion in the telling. Her studies
of creative writing proved to be more successful than her horseback
adventures which included a broken leg! However, her love of horses
also took the opportunity to be more fully involved with her son’s life
– too involved, he would say. She enjoyed watching scores of soccer
games and cheering his team on to a divisional state championship. All
grown up now, her son lives in Eastern Europe and teaches English as a
addition to Terminal Ambition, Kate writes on women’s issues for a
number of online sites. Her essays have appeared in Role/Reboot,
Jezebel, Fem2pt0, Women’s Media Center and Ms. JD. You can follow her on
Kate lives in a utopian community in the Midwest with her husband, dogs and innumerable squirrels.
Today is the last Secret Recipe Club reveal for 2012. That's because we'll be taking December off to enjoy the holidays. This month the blog I received was Cooking...on the Ranch. Lea Ann has a wonderful blog with so many amazing choices! A few that I can't wait to try are her Orange Spiced Pork Tacos, Orange Chile Brownies, and Watermelon and Feta Salad.
However, for today's recipe I chose a twist on one of my favorites-Baked Ziti. I've made baked ziti with roasted vegetables, baked ziti with different cheeses, and baked ziti with meat. This version has both meat and vegetables in it and uses Muir Glen tomatoes and tomato sauce. Since I just went to Pittsburgh and bought several cans of each, this was the perfect recipe.
I really enjoyed the vegetables and lean ground beef in this ziti. I also liked that the sauce was made from the Muir Glen tomatoes and tomato sauce. It was simple and delicious. I used a few spices to give it a little more flavor then topped it with a combination of Italian cheeses. I liked that it was over loaded with sauce like so many baked pastas are. We both thought this was a tasty creation and will definitely have it again!
Muir Glen Baked Ziti with Fire Roasted Tomatoes (adapted from Muir Glen, as seen on Cooking...on the Ranch) 12 oz. ziti, uncooked
3/4 lb. lean ground beef (90%)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini, cut in half twice (lengthwise) then diced
1 can (15 oz)
Muir Glen® organic tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz)
Muir Glen® organic fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 t. oregano
1 t. parsley
1 t. black pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. grated Asiago
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Cook the ziti according to the package directions. Drain and then add the pasta to the baking dish.
3. Meanwhile, cook the ground beef in a skillet until it is browned. Add in the onion and red pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add the zucchini and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, oregano, parsley, black pepper, and salt. Heat to boiling then pour over top of pasta. Toss to coat.
5. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Asiago over top of the pasta. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven, serve on a plate, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
In our house we have a rather large and beautiful 4 shelf bookcase. It has glass windows that slide up so you can choose a book and then the window slides back down when not choosing a book. I love the bookcase and it looks gorgeous in our house. The only problem is that it isn't quite big enough, especially when I keep buying and reviewing books!
That's why I've joined in the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. This giveaway is to motivate those of us that have too many books to give some of them away to others who enjoy reading as much as we do.
I had a difficult time choosing which books to giveaway but eventually I decided on 4 books I've reviewed this year. I'm including a link to my reviews with the name of the books. This giveaway is open to all U.S. residents.
I love the fall. The weather turns cooler but it still warm enough to wear my sandals, the leaves turn beautiful shades of colors, and there is always an abundance of pumpkins and apples. I love to bake with both apples and pumpkins. Last year I canned some chunky apple butter that I adored but this year I wanted to make a smoother version of this classic.
I went to the market looking for the perfect apple for this butter. I finally settled on a combination of sweet Gala's and tart McIntosh apples. The longest part of this process is peeling and cutting the apples. I peeled them all by hand then used an apple corer/slicer to help me cut them. This cut down on some time but it still took close to 45 minutes to peel and slice all of the apples.
I boiled the apples until they were soft and them put them into the food processor to turn them into pulp. Then the pulp is mixed with spices and sugar to make the apple butter. The apple butter is then cooked until it has thickened and then processed in the canner. I enjoyed this smooth version of the apple butter. It is great on toast, waffles, or even on top of ice cream!
This week #SundaySupper is all about Gifts From the Kitchen and I can't think of a better gift then something that has been canned and can be enjoyed anytime throughout the year! I'm happy to share this apple butter recipe this week.
Apple Butter (recipe from Ball's Blue Book Guide to Preserving) 4 lbs. apples 4 c. sugar 2 t. cinnamon
1. Wash the apples. Core, peel, and slice the apples.
2. Combine the apples and 2 cups of water in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Simmer until the apples are soft.
3. Pour into a food processor and puree until smooth but not liquified. Measure 2 quarts of the pulp.
4. Prepare a boiling water canner and 3 pint jars. 5. Combine the apple pulp, sugar, and cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook slowly until thick enough to round up on a spoon. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
6. Ladle the hot butter into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles and readjust headspace.
7. Put on the 2 piece lid and screw to finger tip tight. Heat in a boiling water canner for 10
minutes with the lid on. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Remove from the water and let cool for 12 hours then check to make sure
the lids have sealed. Store for up to 1 year.
I'm sure I've told you before but I'm a special education teacher in an elementary school. On thing that I like to work on with my students is positive behavior. Each month we have a positive behavioral incentive for all the special education students. We always have a theme, usually a holiday. My instructional assistant and I both love to bake so we have lunch with the students and then they enjoyed themed baked goods made by us.
This past month we had a Halloween party. The kids were super excited and couldn't wait to see what we were making. I looked through my cooking magazines and on Pinterest to find some kid friendly Halloween recipes. I ended up making cookie candy pizza and monster pops!
The kids loved the monster pops. They were super easy to make and my students actually had a great time making them "talk" to each other before them gobbled them up. The cookie candy pizza was fun to make as well because it really went with the theme. The kids thought it was awesome that it was a sweet pizza with Halloween candy on top. I had fun making them and even more fun watching the kids eat them!
Cookie Candy Pizza (adapted from Taste of Home magazine)
1 tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough (I used Pillsbury) 1/2 c. candy corn
1/2 c. Autumn mix candy corn
12 gummy worms
1 c. M&M's candy
2 c. chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Press the sugar cookie dough into the bottom of a 12 inch round pan (I used a springform pan). Bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes or until it is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool.
3. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave, checking every 30 seconds until they are melted.
4. Quickly spread the melted chocolate on top of the cooled cookie crust.
5. Top the cookie pizza with the candies, working quickly so the chocolate does not harden.
6. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set. Cut into wedges.
Monster Pops (adapted from Multiples and More)
24 large marshmallows
24 lollipop sticks
Assorted sprinkles Candy melts in assorted colors
Black candy melts
1. Melt a small amount of any color chocolate in the microwave. Check on it every 30 seconds until it is completely melted.
2. Dip a lollipop stick in the chocolate and then place it in the middle of a marshmallow. Repeat with remaining marshmallows. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
3. Pour the sprinkles into a shallow dish.
4. Working with one color of candy melts at a time, melt in the microwave at 30 second intervals until completely melted. Holding the marshmallow by the stick, dip it halfway into the colored chocolate. Immediately stick the top of the marshmallow into the sprinkles to make the "hair". Add on candy eyes then set on waxed paper to harden. Repeat with remaining colors.
5. Melt the black candy melts in the microwave in 30 second intervals until completely melted. Spoon the melted chocolate into a zip top baggie. Snip off the end of the baggie and pipe on monster faces. Allow the chocolate to harden.
former cop, current PI in Virginia Beach, VA, screens his clients the
way he screens his women, based on whichever drop-dead gorgeous woman
happens to waltz through his door first and manages to hold his
attention. So when Felicity Farren, widow-at-large, struts into his
office asking him to solve the two-year-old murder of her husband Artis,
she intrigues him. When Casey starts digging, he learns the murder
isn’t what it seems to be and he doesn’t have a big enough shovel to
unearth the truth. And to top it all off, his former rival at the police
department, Greg Gilman, is determined to disrupt his investigation.
Casey's challenge is to learn what really happened to Artis, and why
Gilman can’t seem to remove his head from his butt. And he’ll need all
of his wits to complete the task. (-synopsis from Goodreads)
Casey is a private eye who will do whatever it takes to solve the case. When Felicity enters his office and talks about her dead husband, Casey is intrigued. When Felicity runs out of the office in the middle of their conversation he decides to get to work. The novel follows Casey as he pumps Ian, his best friend the cop, for information on an old case. When he doesn't get the information he needs there he goes to the witnesses. Even when they aren't willing to talk he somehow manages to see them and get some more details about the murder. When he starts asking questions about Tiny, the owner of a bar, he ends up on top of a roof in a fight for his life. I found Casey to be egotistical and a bit annoying. He never shuts up throughout the entire book and often talks about how great he is. He has two girlfriends but apparently that isn't enough because he gets some action from a few of the witnesses as well. He has a flashy Dodge Viper which he also likes to talk about. I had some difficulty keeping track of the secondary characters in the book. They were brought up multiple times but in different situations which made it confusing for me. The story itself and the mystery were interesting. There are a lot of clues, information on the murder, and twists in the story you are never really sure who murdered Felicity's husband. While there is some action in the book, the conclusion leaves something to be desired. I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.
This past weekend was my 10 year reunion at West Virginia Wesleyan College. It's been about 7 years since I've been back to the campus and I was heading down with my best friends from college. We were having a girl's only weekend so I knew it would be fun but I also knew it was going to be different then when we were in school.
It ended up being a blast and seeing so many people I haven't seen in years was really great. The buildings on campus looked a little more run down but the chapel at the center of the school is still gorgeous. Even though I'm only in my early 30's I felt really old being down on campus again and I'm sad to say that while I aged the freshman certainly didn't.
For the weekend trip I knew my girls and I were going to need some serious fuel to keep us awake past 10 o'clock. I was planning on something chocolate but I wanted to make it something that had meaning. Since it is the fall and our school colors are orange and black I went with pumpkin cheesecake brownies.
These were like crack in a brownie! The rich, chocolate brownie layer tasted like fudge and on top of it sat a dense pumpkin cheesecake. Every bite was sweet, spiced, and filled with pumpkin goodness. I could have eaten the entire pan myself and once my friends had a bite they felt the same way.
I wanted to share these for the 7th week of The 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted by Meal Planning Magic. They were so awesome I know you are going to want to bake them yourselves and share them with your loved ones this holiday season.
Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies (adapted from Beantown Baker) For the brownies: 3/4 c. butter, melted 1 c. sugar 1 t. vanilla 2 eggs 3/4 c. flour 1/3 c. cocoa powder 1/2 t. baking powder 1/2 t. salt 1/2 t. cinnamon
For the cheesecake: 8 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used Philadelphia 1/3 less fat) 1 egg 1/2 c. sugar 2 T. flour 1/2 c. pumpkin puree 1 t. vanilla 1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time until totally incorporated.
3. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder.
4. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Pour 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Set the rest aside.
5. In a large bowl beat the cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed. Add in the egg and beat well. Mix in the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.
6. Spoon the cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter. Put small spoonfuls of the remaining brownie batter on top. Using a knife, swirl the two batters together.
7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the center is set. Cool on a wire rack and chill before serving.
In November I often take time to think about what I am thankful for. This year I'm most thankful for my loving husband, my wonderful parents, my fabulous family, and my friends. I'm also thankful that I have a roof over my head, heat to keep me warm, and plenty of food to fill my belly. As with every year, I've thankful for books!
My parents read to me my entire childhood and I think that helped me to start reading at a young age. I continued getting lost in a good book whenever I needed an escape from reality as a teenager. Today I like to get lost in a good book to get away from the stress of adult life.
I'm sharing with my readers two books. One is a thriller that I really enjoyed, the other is a cookbook filled with recipes and funny stories. Both would be a great addition to any collection.
I am giving away both of these books to one of my readers. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States. The books are:
It's been another hot week and all I've wanted to do is stay inside in the air conditioning. I was lucky enough that last week we went to my parents for a few days so we were able to swim in the morning and afternoon when it was hot. I'm missing the pool and don't really want to be out in the sun. This also makes it difficulty when I'm preparing dinner because I just don't want to turn on the oven.
When I'm cooking on the stove top I'm not only looking to not turn on the oven, I also want a meal that's not too heavy. I despise eating heavy foods in the summer. They make me sluggish and hot. When looking through my recipes I wanted to make an Asian dish because I had several cups of rice leftover from the night before that could be quickly reheated in the microwave.
I found a recipe for healthy sesame chicken but I had taken tofu out for dinner so I just turned it into sesame tofu. This is a quick meal that's ready in 20 minutes. The sauce is slightly sweet and tastes great on the tofu. The broccoli was a nice addition for crunch and color. In all it was a healthy meal that was delicious, filling, and not too heavy.
Healthy Sesame Tofu (adapted from Gourmet Day to Day)
1/4 c. flour
2 T. cornstarch
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 block extra firm tofu
1/4 c. reduced sodium soy sauce
2 T. sugar 1 t. sesame oil
2 garlic cloves
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
2 T. toasted sesame seeds
1/4 c. green onions, chopped
1. Drain and press the tofu. Then cut into 5 strips. Cut each strip into 4 pieces.
2. In a gallon size plastic bag combine the flour, cornstarch, ginger, salt, and pepper.
3. Add the tofu to the plastic bag and shake to coat the pieces of tofu.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the tofu and cook for 5-6 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove from the skillet and place on a plate.
5. Mix the soy sauce sugar, sesame oil, garlic cloves, and broccoli in the skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes or until broccoli starts turning a deeper green.
6. Return the tofu to the skillet, toss to coat, and sprinkle with green onions. Serve over rice.
Back when I lived in Pittsburgh I loved going to TGI Friday's and getting their Jack Daniel's chicken. The sauce was sweet, a little tart, and rich with flavor. My cousin would always get the Jack Daniel's sesame chicken strips. Between the two of us we could have easily eaten a jar of Jack Daniel's glaze. I don't know what they put in it, but it's amazing.
A few months back I saw a copycat recipe for the glaze and was stoked. I didn't make it right away because I could never remember to buy pineapple juice at the store. Finally I did and I made it the day before I was using it. Just the smell of it cooking on the stove was enough to make my mouth water. I quickly tasted it before I put it in the jar and I practically swooned.
I ended up using it as both a glaze and a dipping sauce for chicken strips but it would be good on shrimp, steak, or ribs as well. My husband wasn't sure if he would like it but he ended up saying how good it was and how he'd like to have it on shrimp next time. The recipe is easily doubled and can be kept in the refrigerator.
Jack Daniel's Glaze (slightly adapted from Sunny Side Up)
1 head garlic, roasted
2/3 c. water
1 c. pineapple juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 c. brown sugar
3 T lemon juice
2 T. white onion, minced
2 T. Jack Daniels Whiskey
1 T. pineapple, minced
1 t. ginger, minced 1/2 t. red pepper
1/2 t. black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the top off of a head of garlic so that the cloves are exposed. Peel off any papery layers on the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, pineapple juice, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for 1 minute then reduce head to medium low.
3. Squeeze the garlic cloves out and into the saucepan. Throw away the skins.
4. Whisk in the lemon juice, onion, whiskey, pineapple, ginger, red pepper, and black pepper.
5. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or until the liquid has reduced by half.
6. In a small bowl combine the water and cornstarch. Mix well and then add to the saucepan. Stir well.
7. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.