Monthly Archives: November 2013

Five Holiday Gift Ideas for Pet Lovers

This is a big shopping week for us here in the United States. The day after we give thanks for what we have, we’re wooed from our warm beds in the wee hours of the morning to go out and buy more stuff. We call this day Black Friday.

For those of not you willing to brave the traffic, the crowds and the crazy motivated shoppers, here are some ideas for the pet lovers on your list that you can purchase from the comfort of your own home. (Fuzzy bunny slippers optional.)  After all, us crazy devoted pet-lovers spent over $50 billion dollars on our fur babies last year!

 

1. RESCUE CHOCOLATE

peanutbutterEDIT

100% of the proceeds are donated to rescue shelters around the country. It’s organic, cruelty-free and plus you know… it’s chocolate!  Purchase it HERE  (*for human consumption only)

 

2. BIG MUTTS DOOR MAT

big_mutts

“We like Big Mutts and we cannot lie.”

Wipe off paws, feet and scare off would-be intruders! Purchase HERE

 

3. PET PORTRAITS FROM A PHOTO

pet_portrait

These beautiful pencil sketches can be done right from a photo you upload to their website. So easy! They also offer watercolor and oil. Check it out HERE

 

4. WINE CHARMS

cat_charms

A nice bottle of wine is a great holiday gift, but why not add a little something special? These cute hand painted wine charms are available in CATS or DOGS

 

5. MAKE A DONATION IN THEIR NAME TO A RESCUE ORGANIZATION

Ask them what their favorite rescue charity is. Or if you want to surprise them, here a few of my favorite ones:

NOWZAD

ASPCA

STOP PUPPY MILLS

 

Also, I’m excited to announce the upcoming release of the third book in my Pet Psychic Series!

Esposito-Silence-Is-Golden-EBOOK-WEB

Should be available next week & books are always a great gift!

Happy Shopping! Do you participate in the Black Friday madness?

The Secret Ingredient–Some Autumn and Holiday Treats

Every few weeks, the misterio press authors do a joint post. Today, we thought we’d share some of our favorite stick-to-your-ribs, cold weather dishes and some ideas for holiday meals and treats.

We’ll start off with Kathy Owen, whose cooking skills make me absolutely green with envy. I can’t wait to try this recipe, an easy meal you can throw together on a  busy day. (Easy is my favorite word when it comes to cooking. 🙂 )

some of the ingredientsSo here’s Kathy with her Crockpot Beef:

Ingredients:
1 cup chopped onion*
1 cup chopped celery*
1/2 cup chopped peppers*
(*I use already chopped veggies from the supermarket’s salad bar, or the freezer section.)
30 oz tomato sauce
2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup water
3.5 lb eye round or rump roast (I used two small ones, adding up to about 4 lbs)
2 or more cloves of garlic, minced (I use the already-minced stuff in the jar.  See a theme here?)
ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Mix veggies together, and spread half of the mixture in the bottom of crockpot.  Set the other half aside for the moment.

2. Season roast(s) with garlic and black pepper.  I just use a fork; it’s awkward no matter how you do it.  Don’t worry if some garlic falls off.

2 small roasts, seared3.  Sear roast(s) on all sides in a heated pan or skillet with a little oil, until they look something like this.

4. Then plunk those little cuties in the crockpot, on top of the veggies. Put the rest of the veggie mixture on top of the roast(s).

5. Pour all of the liquid ingredients on top of that (no need to mix them; just splash them in).

Finished dish

6. Cover and set on HIGH for 6-8 hours.  The house will smell soooo good.  Be prepared for major stomach-rumbling.

7.  Then, it’s time to shred!  What I like to do is spoon the liquid into a separate receptacle temporarily, then use two forks to pull the meat apart right in the crockpot.

8. Pour the liquid back in, stir, and serve over rice or noodles.

Kass here again. While we’re on the subject of easy, I’ll throw in my contribution. This recipe actually comes from my cousin who is a fab cook. This is a variation on a popular holiday side dish that I just love.

Cranberry Yams: (NOTE: This makes a lot, so if you’re feeding a smaller group, you might want to halve everything.)

Ingredients:
2 large or 3 medium-sized cans (45-50 oz.) of yams (in their own juice, not candied)
1 ½ cans (16 oz.) apricot halves
½ can of whole cranberry sauce (or 1 cup fresh cranberries)
3 tbs. light brown sugar
2 tbs. cornstarch
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ cup golden raisins

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Drain juice from yams and arrange in one layer in large casserole dish.
3.  Drain apricots, saving the liquid. Set it aside. Place apricots between the yams. Spread cranberries on top.
4.  Add enough water to apricot liquid to make 1 ½ cups.
5.  In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Stir in the liquid. Add golden raisins.
6.  Bring to a boil, stirring often. Syrup should thicken.
7.  Pour syrup over the yams, etc. and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 10-12 servings. And you can make it the day before, but allow more time for heating it through when it comes out of the fridge. It’s probably got a thousand calories per serving but I try to focus on all the good vitamins, minerals and fiber from the fruits and yams.

For a more health-conscious side dish here’s Shannon Esposito with another recipe easy enough even I can make it.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole:spaghetti squash casserole
Microwave 1 spaghetti squash for 12 minutes, then shred it.

Chop and saute the following:
2 carrots
1 zucchini
1 red pepper
garlic

Mix in 1 jar of Trader Joe’s marina sauce,
1 box of Trader Joe’s turkey bolognese,
1/2 pack shredded mozzarella.

Bake @ 350 for 30 min.

(You can substitute any marina sauce & plain ground turkey but it won’t taste as good, says the Trader Joe junkie that I am)

And now here’s Catie Rhodes with another holiday classic.

Southern Sausage-Cornbread Stuffing:

 What you need:
1 lb. ground pork sausage (I buy Jimmy Dean “hot.”)
2 medium white onions chopped*
4 stalks celery chopped*
6 cups cornbread crumbled (two envelopes of cornbread “mix” prepared will yield 6 cups.)
3 cups white bread cubes toasted (6 slices of bread will yield 3 cups of cubes)
2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. pepper (or to taste)
4 cups chicken broth (If you don’t make homemade broth and reserve it for stuff like this, buy chicken bullion cubes. That way you always have enough.)
4 large eggs, slightly beaten (2 for the cornbread)

[*Celery and Onion Note: If you have a food processor, I recommend processing your onion and celery until nearly smooth. People seem to like this recipe better when it doesn’t have chunks of onion and celery.]

How you do it:
1.  Prepare cornbread according to mix instructions.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3.  Cook sausage, onion, celery in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring and breaking up sausage as it cooks. When sausage is cooked through and celery and onions are soft, you may drain grease. (I don’t drain my grease.)
4.  In a large bowl, combine cornbread, bread cubes, sage, salt, and pepper. Stir well, making sure cornbread is crumbled. Stir in sausage mixture. Add broth and eggs. Stir well.
5.  Spoon mixture into greased 13″x9″x2″ baking dish.
6.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. When top is lightly brown, stuffing is ready to eat.

Yields 9 cups. (And there will be NO leftovers, I guarantee it.)

[Note: You can prepare this the day before and refrigerate it overnight. If you do this, it’s going to need at least an hour in the oven. Also, have some extra chicken broth on hand. Sometimes it can get dry.]

And for dessert, (here comes my favorite word again, ‘easy’)…

Also from Catie — Quick & Easy Pumpkin Pie 

This was my mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie recipe. It makes two pies, but I usually half it and make only one pie. This is an old fashioned recipe and is not as sweet (and decadent) as most modern recipes. To me, that’s part of its charm; however, I understand most people like knock-your-socks-off-sweet at holiday time.

pumpkin pie surrounded by pumpkinsWhat You Need:
1 can (29 oz.) pumpkin (15 oz. can works for 1 pie)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
4 eggs
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
2 Nine Inch Pie Shells

(I make my own pie crusts. They’re delicious, and it’s nowhere near as hard as it sounds. For a tutorial, click here. This tutorial shows you how to make two pie crusts. I usually freeze one and use it later.)

What You Do:
(You don’t need an electric mixer for this recipe. I use a fork to beat the eggs and a spoon to mix the rest.)
1.  Preheat over to 400º F.
2.  In a large bowl, mix eggs and milk until eggs are slightly beaten.
3.  Add other ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shells.
4.  Bake 1 hour at 400º F.

(After the first ten minutes of baking, you’ll want to cover the crust edges with foil or a crust cover so they don’t burn. Here’s a link showing you how to make a crust cover out of tin foil, which is handy because those store-bought crust covers often don’t fit.)

piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream

photo by Johnny CC-BY-SA 2.0, wikimedia commons

If you’re really feeling ambitious, here’s Kathy Owen again with  Spiced Whipped Topping for that pumpkin pie.

Mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg; stir in 3/4 cup heavy cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  CHILL FOR ONE HOUR.  Whip until stiff, and serve immediately.

And yet another treat from Kathy

Peppermint Fudge:

Ingredients:
1.5 tsp plus 1/4 cup butter (softened, divided)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
12 oz white baking chocolate, chopped
7oz jar marshmallow creme
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Directions:
1.  Line a 9 inch square pan with foil, grease foil with 1.5 tsp butter. Set aside.
2.  In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, sour cream, and remaining butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
3.  Bring to rapid boil; cook and stir until candy thermometer reads 234 degrees F (soft-ball stage).
4.  Remove from heat; stir in white chocolate and marshmallow creme until melted.  Fold in peppermint candy and extract.
5.  Pour into prepared pan. Chill until firm.
6. Using foil, lift fudge out of pan; cut into 1-inch squares. Store in refrigerator. Makes 2 pounds.

I don’t know about you all but I am now starving! LOL What’s your favorite holiday or cold weather recipe? Please share in the comments.

Women of Mystery boxed set cover

 

Oh, and here’s another holiday treat. A boxed set of three great mysteries, just $4.99 (only available for a limited time).

Available at AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, and KOBO

Volume 2 coming soon!

 

 

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Veterans, Gratitude and My Post-Menopausal Fu Manchu (plus boxed sets)

November is a crowded month. We have Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping, plus another event I’ll get to in a moment.

First, a big salute and thank you to our veterans! They endure and sacrifice so much and I think everyone would agree that we should take care of their needs when they come home. Did you know that Gulf War era II (deployed since Sept, 2001) veterans’ unemployment rate, while on the decline, is still almost 3% higher than the national average? Come on, America, we can do better than that!

On a lighter note, here’s the hubs in his Army days!

young serviceman

Handsome devil, isn’t he? And dig that psychedelic, early 70’s wallpaper in the barracks. He says they only got away with that because they were deployed out in the middle of nowhere.

If you look close you’ll see the beginnings of the mustache he grew in the Army, and sported for several decades after. Which brings us to that other thing that’s happening in November.

One of my online writer friends, Susie Lindau, is a breast cancer survivor, But she hasn’t just survived and endured, she has thrived and inspired (see her Boob Reports). And now she’s participating in No Shave November or Movember, an initiative by the American Cancer Society to raise consciousness about cancer, and also money.

The idea is that you let your hair grow wherever it may–mustaches and/or beards for men, legs and/or underarms for women–and then donate what you normally spend in a month on self-grooming to the cause of fighting cancer.

I certainly plan to make a donation, but this whole thing got me thinking about menopause and hair.

After menopause, women’s hormones shift. Well, duh. You already knew that. But what you may or may not have known is that it isn’t just estrogen and progesterone that go down. Testosterone also goes down some in women post-menopause.

Wait! What? Testosterone in women? Yup, women have small amounts of testosterone produced by their ovaries and adrenal glands. This testosterone is responsible for sex drive (yay!) and body hair (nay!)

So here’s what happens hair-wise for older women like myself. Less testosterone equals less body hair. I now shave my legs every other week instead of every other day. But the little bit of testosterone we have left in our systems isn’t as cancelled out by estrogen (which discourages facial hair). So now we have hair on our chinny-chin-chins. And mustaches. Oh, goodie!

I may not have to shave as often but I spend a lot of time in front of the mirror plucking out my fu manchu, and bitching mentally about how unfair it all is.

So what hit me right between the eyes about Susie’s post was this – November is also the month of Thanksgiving, of gratitude. Instead of bemoaning the fact that I now have a mustache, I’m going to focus more on being grateful: for my health, for my wonderful family and great friends, and for not having to shave my legs all that often!

And in response to Susie’s “I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours” dare, here’s my fu manchu!

Kass's photo with fu manchu mustache drawn in
Another thing we at misterio press are grateful for are our wonderful readers, and to show our gratitude we’ve put together boxed sets of some of our books for Christmas-giving ease (or your own reading pleasure). Volume 1 has just released and Volume 2 will be out in December.

Women of Mystery boxed set cover

Just $4.99 ~ three books for the price of one. Yay!!!

WOMEN of MYSTERY, Volume 1 (click on titles below to see the descriptions):

Dangerous and Unseemly, A Concordia Wells Mystery

Collateral Casualties, A Kate Huntington Mystery

The Alchemical Detective, A Riga Hayworth Mystery

Available at AMAZONBARNES & NOBLE,  and KOBO

How about you? What are you grateful for? And just how hairy can you get for a good cause?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Iceland: The New Hot Spot for Mystery Novels

I recently returned from Iceland and was fascinated by the quality and depth of its bookstores. For a country of only 300,000 people, Iceland has a fertile written heritage, starting with its medieval Viking sagas and continuing to a rich collection of modern mystery novelists.

photo of Icelandic waterside town

A typical Icelandic fishing village.

Is their voracious reading habit because of the cold weather? Iceland’s recent economic crash? The BBC recently reported that Iceland has more writers, more books read, and more books published, per capita, than any other nation. It’s estimated that one out of ten Icelanders will publish a book. Unfortunately, only about three percent of Icelandic works are translated for the English market.

Iceland hasn’t yet developed the international reputation its Scandinavian neighbors have for mystery novels and thrillers. The English-language series I found most prominently displayed in the bookstores of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, (and also available on Amazon) was the Reykjavik Murder Mystery series by Arnaldur Indridason. His prose is as sparse and clean as Iceland in October, which happens to be when the first book in the series, Jar City, takes place.

The book is noir-ish, featuring Reykjavik Detective Erlendur. Like a good noir hero, he’s divorced and feeling his age. One of his children is a junkee, the other in rehab. Chapter one drops the reader into a murdered man’s apartment, while the Detective examines the body. It seems like a simple enough crime against an elderly male –and most likely random – except for one clue: a cryptic three-word message left beside the body. Tantalizingly, the author only gives the reader one of the three words, driving an otherwise prosaic scene forward.

photo of moss-covered lava field

A lava field in Iceland, covered in moss.

The Day Is Dark, by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, is another currently “hot” Icelandic book, though it is largely set in Greenland. Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, an attorney, departs Iceland for a snowbound outpost in Greenland, where Icelandic employees have disappeared. Malignant townsfolk and hints of danger in the woods ratchet up the tension in this book, which is part mystery and part thriller.

Looking for a real classic? The medieval Icelandic sagas are jam-packed with murder, mayhem, and magic. Ranking as one of the world’s most important literary works, the sagas take place around the beginning of the last millennium, and have preserved much of what modern scholars know about the daily life, religion, magical practices, and adventures of the early Norse men and women, including their astonishing journeys to America.

kirsten-1

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten works part-time as a writer and part-time as an international development consultant. She writes the Riga Hayworth paranormal mystery novels. Her fifth book in the series, The Elemental Detective, will be published in December, 2013.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)