Add Lobaciousness to Your Life!

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My latest cookbook has just been released in paperback and digital formats.  “Lobacious Lobster” is packed with 200 decadently delicious and super simple recipes, plus more than 100 color photographs.

I literally could not help but create a new word to aptly describe lobster.  “Lobacious” says it all!

Enjoy this recipe from the collection!

 

Bodacious Bacon Lobster Bites

Bodacious Bacon Lobster Bites

12 (1-1 ½”) squares of cooked bacon

12 buttery crackers (such as Ritz or Pepperidge Farm)

12 slices (½“-thick medallions) fresh, warm lobster tail meat

¼ c favorite bottled “con queso” sauce, heated (or make your own by blending cream cheese, Jack cheese, & diced jalapeños)

At serving time, place a piece of bacon on each cracker; top with a piece of lobster, followed by a drizzle of warmed con queso.  Serve immediately.  Makes 12 bites.

Lobacious Lobster is available through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and more.

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Cranberry Capers

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Cranberry Bellini

‘Tis the season to add the tartness of cranberries to the menu.  While I offer the Cranberry Cooking cookbook full of super simple recipes, I share here a yummy way to start a day with the zing of cranberries.

For a holiday brunch, a Mimosa is popular, but the Bellini is even yummier, featuring peach puree and prosecco sparkling Italian wine, plus a touch of raspberry, which is actually a formerly “secret ingredient.”

We’re bringing it forward now for the holidays as a Cranberry Bellini.  Be sure to start with well-chilled ingredients.

 

Cranberry Bellini

½ c cranberry juice

1 c peach nectar

1 bottle prosecco (or other sparkling white wine)

Combine cranberry and peach; keep chilled till needed.  Pour into tall flutes or martini glasses till just ¼ full.  Top with prosecco; garnish as desired.  Serve immediately.  Makes 6-8 servings.

KISS Notes:  I sometimes like to rim the glass with cinnamon sugar.  Garnish

Cranberry Pearrini

with a wedge of lime, a slice of fresh peach, or “shrub”-style with a couple tiny scoops of raspberry (and peach) sorbet or sherbet.  A nice variation for this drink is the Cranberry Pearrini.  Make as above but replace the peach nectar with pear nectar.  Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a large fresh raspberry.

For other great cranberry recipes to take you from appetizers and tapas to entrées, side dishes, and desserts, check out Cranberry CookingIt’s part of a series of 8 pocket cookbooks, all featuring easy recipes to help you star in the kitchen.  They’re all available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more.  (If you buy one on Amazon, you can also get the digital edition FREE!)   Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Posted in Bubbly Makes the World Go 'Round, Family -- Says It All, Party Themes & Schemes, Super Simple Is Key! | Leave a comment

Sweet Thank You!

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Our Maltipoo, Bandit, received the most lovely thank you note… from another dog, no less.  Mr. Casey had just read Bandit’s book, “A Dangerous Book for Dogs.”

He said:

“Hi Bandit.  The best book ever!  You can tell, my humans, Judy & Ken wrote this for me.  We loved reading your story and all your helpful information.  I, too, am a Maltipoo, and my name is “Mr. Casey.”  I weigh 16 pounds, and I have champagne color fur.  I hope you don’t mind; I let my human Mom and Dad read your training methods so they would know what to do with me.  I hope you can come visit me someday.  I thank you again.”

Well, Bandit, with all his 7 pounds of fun, fur, and fury, is very happy to have gotten that missive.  He says he is planning a visit with his newest fan very soon… even though Mr. Casey ignored Bandit’s warning to NOT share his secret tips for training your humans with ANY humans.  Sigh.

Such is a dog’s life.  Love, cookies, and belly rubs.

You can find Bandit’s “A Dangerous Book for Dogs” in paperback and digital (Kindle) formats on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as in Audiobook from Audible.com.

 

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Thank you!

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I have received sooo many fabulous comments and positive reviews for my latest book, “The Bimbo Has Brains!”  I am humbled and honored.

However, I must thank YOU for supporting or contributing to my life’s journey to not only learn how to survive and thrive, but to then become able to share the many life lessons I gleaned with others.  I had no idea that so many people would find this book as helpful in their / your personal journey through life’s stereotypes, double standards, and relationship mazes.

Your feedback inspires me!

Please enjoy this code UP3LM59T which can be applied at “check out” directly from the printer by following this link: https://www.createspace.com/6497205

This scores a 25% discount for $5 off when you purchase the paperback edition of “The Bimbo Has Brains” from the printer!  (Sorry, but neither Amazon nor Barnes and Noble give me any discount options.)  This UP3LM59T code does not expire and can be used multiple times and shared with as many people as you’d like.

Enjoy!  And thanks again!

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“Bimbo” Rocking!

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My latest book, “The Bimbo Has Brains,” made the Uncaged Book Reviews!

Okay… it’s on the last page of the March, 2017 edition, but it IS a 5-star review, so I am pleased to have been chosen as one of reviewer Amy Shannon’s favorite reviews.

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God Speed

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Christopher Martin

Life is a very difficult place to live.

The telephone rings.  A loved one  has passed.  At 39, he is too young… and gone way too soon.  He is Christopher Martin, my husband’s first born and #1 eldest son.  Please say an extra prayer for his Dad, his Mom, and his siblings.

His passing turns the world surreal for everyone who knows and loves him.  Christopher was brilliant.  His creativity flowed like a 10-lane super-highway with the Flying Angels soaring overhead.

His laughter and passion for living will dance in our hearts forever.  His genuine interest in people and what makes us tick touched countless people who passed through his life.  The trail of his footprints will be missed, as his path was cut short too suddenly.

Hug everyone you love a little more closely.  Take nothing for granted… not one single day.

God bless you, Christopher.

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Link of Love!

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Use this link to my newest book, The Bimbo Has Brains, for a $5 discount (25% off) by using this code:  UP3LM59T

That’s straight from the printer and has NO expiration date!  Enjoy!!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Super Simple Sweetheart Goodies

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For Valentines Day and beyond, look for easy recipes.  They can be assembled quickly with few ingredients.  You can find yummy ideas in some unexpected places.

For example, in the Dockside Dining… Back for Thirds cookbook, recipes were designed for backyard barbequing, tailgating, and simplicity for travelers, particularly on board on on the shore for boaters.  But these recipes are easy to do indoors in a traditional kitchen, too!    

So many of them are perfect for pairing with your favorite wines or bubbly, too!  For example, here’s a recipe from the Appetizers section.

Super Simple Surfside Crabmeat

Super Simple Surfside Crabmeat

¼ c butter

1 c chopped sweet onion

1 tsp minced garlic

¼ c white wine (such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay)

1 lb fresh lump crabmeat (drained)

3 T mayonnaise

¼ tsp paprika plus a dash or 2 cayenne pepper

3 T chopped fresh parsley

1-2 green onions, thinly sliced (green portions)

Melt butter in grill-safe skillet or heavy foil pan over med heat.  Add onion & garlic; sauté 2-3 min till onions are tender.  Add wine; stir for 1 min.  Gently stir in crabmeat; remove from heat.  Stir in mayo, seasonings, and parsley.  Serve directly from the skillet or foil pan with buttery crackers, pita crisps, tortilla chips or melba toasts.  Or spoon into mini phyllo pastry cups.  Makes about 2½ cups.

 KISS Tips:  Try sprinkling a bit of shredded coconut, chopped or sliced almonds, or some panko bread crumbs on top.  Or turn this into a brunch or lunch entrée by spooning over warm rice.

Serve some of this to your sweetheart!

Check Dockside Dining out.  It’s available in both paperback and digital formats.  More than 200 Super Simple recipes are packed into the sweet little 5×8″ size!

There are salads like Orange You Glad You Like Melon and  Far Out Far Eastern Chicken Salad.  Brunch delights include French Toast Timboo Tavern, the Egg McMushroom Sandwich, and Berried Bacon Waffle Treasures.  Other appetizers range from Crabby Bon Bons, Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms, and Pears in a Blanket to Peachy Brie Bites and Roasted Pecan Crystals.  There’s also an amazing Seafood Crisp a la Kretch’s Marco Island and a Sassy Super Hero Dip.  Among the stellar entrees is the Sail Away Salmon, Riviera Rack of Lamb, and Cathy’s Lime Pepper Shrimp and Scallops.  There are plenty of veggies and sides, soups, lunch ideas,and some saucy condiments.  Of course, there are more than 30 sweet treats for dessert… or whenever.  Some favorites are the Chocolate Covered Strawberry Dip, Super Simple Peach Cobbler, and a cake treat called For the Love of Eclair.  Oh, yeah!!!

 

 

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Bimbo’s First 5-Star Review

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So psyched.  The Bimbo Has Brains just got our first review on Barnes & Noble.com and earned 5 stars!  That is an exciting way to start.

Also, Author Amy Shannon’s Bookshelf Reviews has now honored me as one of her featured authors and posted a lengthy interview about the book and me on her blog.  Click to read.

 

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Thank you!

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The Bimbo Has Brains has now officially launched!  I feel so very blessed to  have already heard from so many of you!  I do so appreciate the well-wishes.  Some have asked how long it took me to write this book.  Most honestly, I must answer with “a combination of a few months and a few decades.”  That’s what Life Lessons do for us.

I truly do seek honest reviews on any sites from Amazon to Goodreads.  If you will, please share the announcement of this new book with your circles of influence.  Read on!

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20 Days to Bimbo!

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bimbo-front-cover

The countdown continues!!!  The official release of my next book is February 1st.  The Bimbo Has Brains is making waves and getting some delightful early comments.  Here are a couple:

“The Bimbo Has Brains—and insight and compassion and empathy and outreach and bubbling-over humor. Cathy Burnham Martin’s book is so human and so immensely caring that it will change lives.”

-Richard Lederer, best-selling author of Anguished English and other books about language and humor

“Cathy Burnham Martin’s voice is bold, beautiful and pregnant with emotion, integrity, humour and honesty.  Brilliant ‘bimbo’ indeed!   She stands up for past and future generations of women and shows our sisters that there is hope through understanding and that communication is the message for all involved. “

-Beverly Read Moody, Toronto Area Book Club

Needless to say, we are quite excited!  Details are on the QTPublishing.com website, along with info on the companion book by John A. Gehrisch, The Golf Pro Has Heart.

 

 

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Happy New Year!

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bimbo-front-coverToday begins the official countdown to the release of my next book:  “The Bimbo Has Brains… and Other Freaky Facts.”  31 Days to go!

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Love Dogs – Must Read

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06-14-09-04jeeter-bandit-kiss-in-hall‘Tis the season to make treats… AND protect our furry friends from them. In the book released by our dog, Bandit, this year, he includes a long list of items that we humans might not realize are poisonous for our dogs and cats.

As I was preparing dinner last evening, I was reminded of this.  While chopping some onions, a piece flew onto the floor.  As is usual for Bandit, he quickly scurried toward the morsel.  He knows this as “Clean Up, Aisle 4.”  However, on this occasion, I had not called out, “Clean Up, Aisle 4.”  In fact, knowing that onions are on the very serious Oh-No list, I had already made my move to quickly reach the onion chunk first.

Bandit gave me quite the disappointed look.  But, it’s all about keeping them safe.  With more than 100,000 cases of pet poisoning just last year, we can’t be too careful.

A Dangerous Book for Dogs” is truly a riotous romp for dogs on how to train their humans.  Naturally, Bandit felt he should include some free bonus goodies… because you’ve been good.  One of them focuses on food and treat safety.

As the list is several pages long, and goes into a great deal of detail, I will just give a few important highlights here.  The list goes well beyond foods.  For example, while I won’t list every specific detail here, in general, keep all human and pet medications, as well as chemical treatments away from your animals.  Household cleaners and personal care items are also big no-no’s.  The list of harmful plants should also be considered, including the likes of aloe, daisies, marijuana, and tobacco, for just a few.

It’s the foods we consume that cause the most common angst.  In a nutshell, keep alcohol and caffeine away from dogs and cats, along with chocolate, grapes, raisins, fruit pits, citrus peels, garlic, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, yeast dough, nuts, and avocado.  While there are some specifics and varietal details within categories, these form a pretty important starting point.  Despite the popularity for humans right now, don’t even let them get at coconut water, as it’s too high in potassium for dogs.  Also avoid sharing dairy treats, as they are difficult for them to digest.

Sigh.  ‘Tis the season to enjoy goodies, but we all need to remember that to be good to our beloved pets, we need to protect them.

Front Cover - B&W edition

For more information on Bandit’s “A Dangerous Book for Dogs,” (despite his warning to keep it OUT of human hands), check out the list of books at the blog, GoodLiving123.com.  It’s available in paperback, digital, and Audiobook formats.

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Posted in Must Love Dogs (& Other Wonderful Pets) | 8 Comments

Yayyyyy Cubbies!

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Sorry, but being a lifelong Red Sox fan has also made me aware of other team’s sufferings from various “curse” experiences. I only wish the World Series could have been Cubs v Red Sox.
All good. SOOOOOO happy for Cubs fans everywhere. (Sorry Cleveland. It is not easy to be playing against the year of Destiny.)

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A Dangerous Book for Dogs

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Front Cover - B&W editionWARNING!!! Don’t let this book fall into human hands!!!!  That’s Bandit’s strong advice regarding his new book.  A Dangerous Book for Dogs is filled with insider tips and secret strategies to help canines get and keep their humans in line.  Some wonderful advice was also shared by his various canine pals, too.

You’ll find many chuckles along the way as you recognize how some of your own human friends try to understand and cope with their own paws-itively wonderful friends.  Bandit… sometimes known as 7 Pounds of Fun, Fur, and Fury… serves up some superb FREE Bonus treats as well.

If you are a big fan, you can also get the full, unabridged text in a full-color edition by the same title.  Only the cover photographs differ.  The regular paperback (with Bandit lounging on a striped pillow on the cover) contains the same nearly 150 photographs inside as the full-color edition, although they are in black-and-white.

For the full-color edition, look for Bandit propped up on a white pillow.  Front Cover - Full Color EditionAlways the Pillow Puppy… helping him rest as he shares his wisdom.  Now Bandit will start producing the full, unabridged edition as an Audiobook.  That is scheduled for release this Spring!

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Where was THIS book when I NEEDED it?

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The Hormone FixThe latest book, narrated by Cathy Burnham Martin, is entitled “The Hormone Fix: Naturally Rebalance Your System in 10 Weeks.”

While it may sound wild, hormonal imbalance affects more people than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined!  Yikes!  Written by Dr. Julius Herrera, “The Hormone Fix” explains the reality of the science within us AND delivers a natural approach to feeling healthy and balanced, regardless of the “time of the month” OR the time of your life.

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Timely Fat Loss Tips on Audiobook

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Check the new Audiobooks page on my blog www.GoodLiving123.com to see how I’m celebrating my new career twist in the New Year.   After doing voiceover work for decades, I am a Johnny-Come-Lately to narrating Audiobooks, and I am loving it!!!!  I will keep updating the list as I complete works… I am narrating my own books as well as those by other authors.  They’re available on sites like Audible.com, Amazon, iTunes, and such.

I’m learning a lot as I narrate nonfiction works, but I’m also having a blast portraying so many characters in novels.  Oh, and I was told to try romance, so I did.  OMG!  Hubby suggested that I simply “pant” a lot, but I found that was not necessary.  He’s such a wise guy.  🙂

Fat Loss TipsAnyway, one of the books may be most appealing this winter as so many of us try to include good health habits and weight loss among the New Year’s resolutions we hope not to break.  I recorded “Fat Loss Tips 3,” the 3rd book in The Fat Loss Series.  Book 3 in the 7-volume series focuses on food.  It packs a lot of eating tips, along with the real “skinny” on low carb, high fiber, trans fats, and more.  Also in the 90-minute Audiobook, you’ll get fat loss meals and a nutrition plan, including weight loss breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.

Check out the whole list of books I’ve finished narrating at this point.  If you’d like to do an Audiobook review on any of the titles, email me at QTPub123@aol.com and I’ll try to get you a code for a comp copy.

Meanwhile, enjoy 2016… with love and laughter.

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Cheese Crisps Have Hit the Stores!

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Since I first made these gems in the late 1970’s, folks have asked why I didn’t sell them.  That’s not my focus, but I figured someone else would… someday.  That day is now.

cheese crispsFresh Gourmet 9-29-15

“Fresh Gourmet” is the name under which they are manufactured.  I’ve now seen them in supermarkets in both the North and South.  They offer two varieties… Parmesan and Asiago.

I bought a bag of each.  (Beware… the price approaches $5 for a small bag.)

The contents match my simple one-ingredient approach.  Cheese.  Just cheese.  100% real, gluten-free, dairy-rich cheese.  Nothing else.  Nada.  Bupkiss.

cheese curls

While the supermarket variety is a small 1” size disk, I advocate making them in a variety of sizes, to suit your needs.  Small ones to replace crackers.  Large disks to top a salad.  I also do some other “shape” treatments for visual interest when placing my Cheese Crisps out with cocktails and other tapas items.  You can “crinkle” each disk a bit or roll them into tubes, but you must do this while they are still fresh and hot from the oven, since they cool very quickly to a nice crispy texture.

cheese crispsBefore I give you the recipe again, let me answer the questions I have already gotten from personal friends.  No, I have no plans to buy them again.  They are just too super simple to make.   I could imagine myself buying a bag if I was traveling and wanted a cheesy snack for the road.  If you want a zero carb snack with all the crunch of a cracker, these babies deliver!

Plus, I make them in lots of flavor varieties, beyond Parmesan and Asiago.  Favorites include Pepper Jack and Muenster, by the way.  The original idea came from picking at cheese that had melted off my nachos and gotten crispy on the foil-covered baking pan.  Oh, yeah!

So, here’s the recipe for you.

Super Simple Cheese Crisps 

Sandwich-size deli square slices of cheese, such as Muenster, cut in 4 squares

Space 4 pieces of cheese in a Pyrex pie dish or 8” square baking dish.  Microwave on high 1 minute (or up to 90 seconds depending on your microwave.  (It helps to start with a warm plate, or you may need to flip the first batch of cheese over and cook 15-30 sec more.)  Cool on paper towels.  Make as many as you like!  Store in airtight containers at room temperature or they will lose their crispness.

Kiss Lips croppedKISS Notes:  A popular restaurant at a Sheraton hotel started serving my Parmesan version of these beauties atop their Caesar salads in 1976.  While such crisps pop up frequently in restaurants now, they were quite the novelty in the 1970’s and even ‘80’s.  I refined them in 1980 to this microwaved technique & with more varieties to serve as AWESOME carb-free crackers for friends trying the Atkins Diet long before carb-free items appeared in stores.  I also served them as a super snack with wine… I still do.

This recipe appears in a couple of my cookbooks, including Volume 1 of “Fifty Years of Fabulous Family Favorites” along with the recipe for my original baked version.  The cookbook “Dockside Dining – Round One” also gives some clever tips on turning these into Cheese Crisp Canapes.  Enjoy on this New Year’s Day… with love and laughter.

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Cranberry Capers

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Fresh Cranberries

Fresh Cranberries

‘Tis the season to start savoring the tartly delectable cranberry!  My Cranberry Cooking cookbook (in paperback and digital formats) celebrates one of America’s most under-rated fruits.  Whether you enjoy them in breads or desserts, sweetened in a sassy sauce, nestled into a perfect pork or poultry entree, or sprinkled over a sweet potato casserole, “yum” comes to mind with all these recipes, more than 100 in categories from breakfast to dessert, and this is the time of year when we can enjoy them with all their popping crisp freshness.  Naturally I love giving a couple of the recipes free, because while we don’t mind paying for good cookbooks, FREE is always appreciated, I know.

We just had some friends over for a rack of lamb dinner party, so lamb is on my mind right now.  While most folks typically think of cranberries in sauces, desserts, breads, or beverages, their entrée applications are marvelous.

lamb chops w cranberry chutneyLamb with Cranberry Chutney
2 T olive oil
¾ c sweet onion, diced
1 c fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 – ½ c orange marmalade
2 T brown sugar
2 T orange juice
Salt
6 lamb rib chops
In the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan, sauté onion 3-5 min over med heat, stirring frequently.  Stir in cranberries, marmalade, brown sugar & orange juice; salt to suit your taste.  Cook over med heat 5 min, stirring frequently, till sugar dissolves & cranberries pop.  Remove from heat; set aside.  Arrange lamb chops on cooking-spray coated grilling rack in foil-lined, shallow roasting pan.  Broil 6” below heat source for 2-4 min per side, or until desired degree of doneness.  Serve chops with chutney.  Makes 2 servings of 3 ribs each.

Kiss Lips croppedKISS Tip:  Broil 2 min per side for med-rare, 3 min per side for medium, and 4 min per side for med-well.

 

Now, I realize that lamb may or may not be a favorite of yours, so I also include a poultry entrée to tantalize your tastebuds.

Cathy’s Crocked Cranberry Chicken
I created this recipe in 2007, inspired by a childhood favorite that used apricot preserves. 
4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded flat & folded around your favorite stuffing with ½ c dried cranberries & ½ c chopped apple added
Paprika
1 env dry onion soup mix
16 oz whole berry cranberry sauce
1 bottle cranberry vinaigrette
¼ c cranberry liquor, peach schnapps, or Grand Marnier

Place stuffed breasts in bottom of slow cooker.  Sprinkle liberally with paprika & soup mix.  Spread cranberry sauce over them; pour on the vinaigrette.  Cover the cooker; cook on low for 4-5 hrs.  Pour liquor over top & stir a bit.  Cook 5 more min & serve with long grain & wild rice and a green vegetable.

 

Cranberry cover - front onlyTo further entice you, here is a list with a few of the other recipes from Cranberry Cooking:

Appetizers:  Cranberry Orange Hazelnut Dip, Turkey Cranberry Brie Quesadillas, Cranberry Crab Rangoon

Baked Non-Dessert:  Cranberry Kissed Cinnamon Rolls, Spiced Cranberry Muffins, Sweet Potato Praline Coffee Cake

Beverages:  Frozen Cranberry Margarita, Hot Percolator Punch, Smooooth Cape Cod

Desserts:  Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes, Cranberry Streusel Bars, Crumbling Cranberry Peach, Baked Cranberry Apples, Peachy Pecan Foster, Cranberry Mousse, White Chocolate Cranberry Tart

Entrees:  Maple Cranberry BBQ Sauce, Cathy’s Cranberry Stuffed Chicken Rolls, Spirited Pork Chops, Cranberry Turkey Burgers

Fruits:  Blushing Cranberry Pears, Cranberry Apple Dumplings

Salads:  Cranberry Waldorf Salad, Cranberry Orange Spinach Salad, Cranberried Broccoli Salad, Cranberry Wild Rice Salad, Cranberry Vinaigrette

Sandwiches:  Caramelized Cranberry Apple Peanut Butter, Zippy Cranberry Turkey Wraps

Sauces and Condiments: Honey Cranberry Barbeque Sauce, Mushroom Cranberry Sauce, Chunky Cranberry Apple Rhubarb Sauce, Tex Mex Cranberry Salsa

Side Dishes:  Roast Turkey and Cranberry Sausage Stuffing, Spiced Sweet Potato and Cranberry Couscous, Wild Rice Cranberry Pilaf

Snacks:  Nutty Snack Mix, Spiced Cranberry Popcorn

Soups:  Cran-Apple Turkey Stew, Cranberried Turkey a la King

 

The Keep It Super Simple kitchens delighted in compiling this collection of scrumptious cranberry recipes… from appetizers and sauces to salads and entrees… for the KISS™ cookbook Super Series from Quiet Thunder Publishing.  Cranberry Cooking, plus all the other books in the Super Series are conveniently bound in a handy 5×8” format.  If you prefer digital editions, you will also find them on Kindle.

Cranberry Cooking is a special book of Super Simple recipes to help make Good Living as easy as 1-2-3.  Enjoy… with love and laughter!

 

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Tonight! Music, Merriment & Memories

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It’s a first for the Manchester Community Music School… tonight’s swinging 1940’s style USO-type show, packed with music and guest stars…. All performing on a volunteer basis to support the great work being done at the school. Fifty of New Hampshire’s most celebrated and professional musicians serve as faculty for more than 1200 students from throughout the region and our neighboring states. Tonight we celebrate!

Enjoy air-conditioned comfort, free refreshments & free raffle tickets… along with great entertainment! My hubby (The Ronald aka Ron Martin) is one of the hosts, alongside Mike Reed… playing his rendition of Bob Hope… or Bob “Hoop” as I call him… with a little “Bling” Crosby and friends.

You’ll catch the famed 48+ piece Summer Band, the Capital Jazz Orchestra Trio, the sensational NH Youth Jazz Combo, plus a couple star numbers from Dance Visions Network. And vocalists? Boston recording artist Bill Andrews, former Miss New Hampshire Michelle Lamontagne, musical theatre buff Paul Padfield, superb Manchester Community Music School voice student Megan Jurnak, and the buttery baritone stylings of Lloyd Owens.

Doors open at 6pm for the 7pm show at the school on 2291 Elm Street in Manchester’s north end. General admission tickets will be sold at the door.

 

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My 1000th Recipe!

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Fam Faves trio as cardsWhen the 3-volume set “Fifty Years of Fabulous Family Favorites” came out in April, it included the 1,000th recipe that I have published!  (It’s been a very busy two years!)  I actually first developed this dish in 1979; I just hadn’t started writing the books yet.  This gem has stood the test of time beautifully.

 

Appropriately, for my taste buds, my 1000th recipe features lobster!  So, in my traditional GoodLiving123.com blog fashion, I must give you that dish as a yummy freebie.

Café Martin Shrimp with Spinach and Alfredo Sauce

Cafe Martin Shrimp with Spinach and Alfredo1

4 T butter

6-8 green onions, sliced, including 2-4” of green portions

2 lbs med to large raw shrimp, peeled & deveined

1 T minced garlic

1 bunch fresh spinach (or baby) or 10 oz thawed & dried

1 – 2 c Alfredo sauce, warmed

¼ – ½ c light cream or half-and-half cream (or white wine)

Freshly ground black pepper, to suit your taste

Melt butter over med-low heat in large skillet or Dutch oven; sauté green onions 1 min.  Add shrimp; sauté 1 min, till turning pink.  Remove shrimp & onions with slotted spoon; set aside.  Add garlic & spinach to pan; stir 1 min, just to start turning spinach limp.  Stir shrimp mixture back into pan; stir in Alfredo sauce & cream (or wine) till mixture is your desired consistency.  Season with pepper.  Serve as is or over hot pasta of your choice.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Now… to the lobster.  THIS makes the best variation… substitute large fresh lobster meat chunks for the shrimp.  Ooooh la la!!!

Yum, yum, yum!  Enjoy… with love and laughter!

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My Family Favorites Cookbook Trio Just Released

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They swamped me with work over these past three months, but my newest series has now arrived!  You’ll find over 600 recipes from my family, extended family, and some dear family friends.  Recipes were collected and preserved, some for generations.

Front Cover

Volume 1 contains Starters, Sippers & Sweets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front Cover-Vol 2Volume 2 features recipes for Brunch, Lunch & Entrees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front CoverVolume 3 folds in all the rest with treasured recipes for Sides, Soup, Salad, Snacks, Etc.

 

In the KISSTM tradition, the collection emphasizes recipes that are Super Simple, though a handful, admittedly, have longer ingredient lists than usual.  Each volume in the series is presented in 5×8” paperback style in the Super Simple tradition.  They’re all available directly through my GoodLiving123.com blog and also online.  However, as with all my works, if you purchase through Amazon, the full-color digital edition is free.

Now you’re cooking with Cathy… and family.  Enjoy… with love and laughter!

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My First Online Reviewer

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Just got my first review on my book “Champagne!”  Here’s the link:  http://www.crystalsmanyreviewers.com/2015/01/champagne-facts-fizz-food-fun-by-cathy.html

Thanks to all for so much support!  You’re the best!!!

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Chronicles and Cathy

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YouTube has the program on which I just appeared on January 6, when Kevin Avard interviewed me regarding my latest books. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiKww1e1gCk# is the link or simply Google “Gate City Chronicles – Cathy Burnham” to check it out.  (Oh, my!  It has been a lonnnnng time since I did this sort of gig.)  Both nonfiction and cookbook titles are available on the GoodLiving123.com blog under “Books by Cathy.”

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Champagne Bubbles for Community Music School

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ChampagneMy latest book is hot off the presses:  “Champagne! Facts, Fizz, Food & Fun.”  All profits from December sales go to support scholarships and musical instruments at the Manchester Community Music School, for which I am a volunteer and member of the Board of Directors.  We have more than 1200 students now, and the programs, such as music therapy, are gleefully growing like crazy.

Check out the book at the Quiet Thunder Publishing site www.QTPublishing.com or on sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Of course, details are also in the Books section on the GoodLiving123.com blog.  Beyond insider tips on serving bubbly and setting up theme parties, you can enjoy more than 130 recipes for sparkling beverages and food dishes to serve with champagne.

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Sparks and Bonta Fans Celebrate!

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Preview Party Ice Sculpture & Raw Bar

Preview Party Ice Sculpture & Raw Bar

Since Chuck Rolecek closed his celebrated C.R. Sparks restaurant in Bedford, NH in 2010, the ensuing gap has never been filled.  In Hampton, Bonta regulars feared the very same fate when Bonta was sold.  Little did they know that the Montrones had deliberately patterned Bonta after Sparks’ California bistro style.  We had enjoyed Bonta, but upon learning Rolecek had bought it, I instantly thought, “Perfect!  Very little fit-up is needed; it’s already ‘Sparks East.’”

I forgot that I was talking about THE C.R. in C.R. Sparks and in the new CR’s The Restaurant that has now replaced Bonta.  Chuck Rolecek pulled out the existing bar and replaced it with a sexy, curved edition.  Wood trims are gorgeous, including the addition of a second door into the back dining room.  New light fixtures add an updated glow.

Menu items are reminiscent of C.R. Sparks, such as the lamb shank, salmon, and bone-in rib-eye.  Why not!  The original Sparks Executive Chef Chris Veatch is back as a partner and Executive Chef at CR The Restaurant.  Sparks fans will also recognize a favorite bartender, too.  (Welcome Kathleen!)  Many Bonta staff stayed on to join the new restaurant, as well.

CR The Restaurant has been open for a couple of weeks now for dinner 7 nights a week and lunch on Saturdays and Sundays.  As Chuck Rolecek is known to say, “We only get one chance to make a first impression.”  CR The Restaurant wants to make it a good one AND make those with fond Bonta memories feel welcomed back “home.”

For Sparks fans traveling from the Bedford area, the new Hampton restaurant is immediately off the exit just east of I-95.  Easy off, though not so simple to head back west again.  CR’s The Restaurant touts that their location is just 30 minutes from Manchester.  That would be the Manchester-Auburn town line.  It’s easily 45 minutes from Bedford, but it IS worth the drive.  Go for it!

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My 2nd Dockside Dining Cookbook Arrives

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Dockside Dining: A Second Helping

Dockside Dining: A Second Helping

Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com are two of the places where you can find both cookbooks.  So savor summer forever by breaking out the barbeque!  This handy little series was developed for those who love life on the waterways, but these goodies work for anyone who wants easy cooking.   I have been very busy in the final days of summer finishing up Dockside Dining: A Second Helping, packed with more original recipes and clever classics. If you buy Volume 1 or Volume 2 in paperback on Amazon, you actually can get the Kindle eBook digital edition absolutely FREE.

Many recipes provide make-ahead tips; others are perfect for last-minute preparations.  Dockside Dining brings you dozens of original recipes that make creative dining Super Simple for weekend warriors, die-hard boaters, and backyard grillers.  (Naturally, I will include a couple of recipes here to whet your appetite!)

Dockside Dining: Round One

Dockside Dining: Round One

We started with Dockside Dining: Round One, featuring more than 170 recipes.  Dockside Dining: A Second Helping brings you more than 150 additional Super Simple recipes… perfect for outdoor or take-along dining.  Whether you are on the boat, dock, or deck, you now have lots more tasty options to take you from breakfast and lunch to Happy Hour and dinner… and beyond.

Among the recipes in Volume 2 are these sample titles:

Appetizers:  Raft-Perfect Piggy Poppers,
Crabby Cream Cheese,
Nacho Mama Hot Off the Grill Nachos,
Panama Beach Parmesan Tenders,
Porky’s Seared Peach Wedges,
Mmm-Mmm Good Grilled Potato Skins,
Ham-It-Up Portobellos,
Tangy Peach Soup with Seafood Ceviche

Beverages:  First Mate Forbidden Fruit

Breads:  Muskoka Mustard Cheese Toasts,
Spinnaker Spiced Zucchini Muffins

Breakfast & Brunch:  Western Port Spamalot Omelet,
Bayside Bacon and Egg Muffins,
Nutty Cinnamon Apple Grilled Sandwich,
Berried Treasure Breakfast Crepes,
French Toast on the Grill

Lunch:  Hot Ham ‘n Cheese Buns,
Caramelized Onion Cheeseburgers,
Buffalo Chicken Pizza,
Nutty Hawaiian Pizza

Salads:  Super Simple Spinach Citrus Salad,
Peg Leg Pete’s Pea Salad

Entrees:  Grilled Polynesian Steak,
Grilled Stuffed Burrito,
Main Deck Meatloaf,
Safe Harbor Salmon Skewers,
Grilled Citrified Tuna,
Super Simple Grilled Lamb Chops,
Caesar Shrimp Pasta,
Florida Coast Pork Ribs,
Almost Legal Grilled Chicken,
Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu,
Grilled Shrimp Cocktail,
Relished Lobster Tails

Sides & Veggies:  Georgetown Gingered Carrots,
Ben’s Bodacious Cheesy Potato Bake,
Cruise Ship Creamed Spinach,
Crow’s Nest Summer Croquettes

Sauces & Condiments:  Jazzy Ketchup,
Incredible Cranberry Chutney

Your Just Desserts:  “Come About” Instant Cookie Bites,
Stuffed Strawberry Blossoms a la Spatt’s,
Carmen Miranda Banana Crisp,
Crispy Pudding Bites,
Grilled Pirate Rum Pineapple Kebabs,
Grilled Peaches and Cream Pound Cake

 

Get one volume, or get them both… either way you’ll have a great collection of Super Simple recipes to make your deck-side or dockside dining sizzle.

Following is a small sampling of the recipes in Dockside Dining: Round One, which was released earlier this summer:

Appetizers:  Super Simple Cheese Crisps,
Baja Bacon-Wrapped Barbeque Shrimp,
Ceviche Martini Roatan,
Yachters’ Yakitori,
Galley Ready Instant Snacks

Beverages: Sparky’s Sparkling Sea Breeze

Breads: Loafin’ Land-Lubber,
On Deck Onion-Cheesy Bread

Breakfast & Brunch: Hammock Time Ham and Egg Sandwich,
Pontoon Potato Pancakes

Lunch:  BLT Lettuce Wraps,
The Hull Truth Steak Tacos

Salads:  Crabby Fresh Corn Salad

Entrees:  Grilled Steak Perfecto,
Sweet and Saucy Salmon,
Mary Had a Little Lamburger,
Cheesy Macaroni on the Grill,
Fireworks Special Ribs,
Wining Garlic BBQ Chicken,
Grilled Shipwreck Shrimp,
Grilled Clams & Mussels

Vegetables: Kool and Kickin’ Corn,
Grilled and Chilled Veggies

Sauces & Condiments:  Bloody Mary Cocktail Sauce,
Dills Gone Jazzy a la James

Your Just Desserts:  Captain Jack Sparrow Spiced Rum Kebabs,
Go Bananas Foster Bites,
Super Simple Tiramisu Dip

 

 

Now, as promised, I must leave you with a couple recipes… Failing to give you a FREE taste or two from Dockside Dining: A Second Helping just wouldn’t be me.  Enjoy!

Nacho Mama Hot Off the Grill Nachos
I love nachos, but I get frustrated when restaurants pile on the chips and skimp on the cheesy toppings.  I always tend to make a single layer of chips, so every chip has plenty of goodies.  My suggestion is to prepare a single layer.  If you want more layers, just repeat the layering process once more.  My personal preference is to make more trays of single layer nachos.

Flat corn tortilla chips
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Canned black beans, drained & rinsed
Diced plum tomatoes
Pickled jalapeño pepper slices
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Thinly sliced green onions (green portions)
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish, if desired
Salsa, sour cream & guacamole, for serving

Place a single layer of chips in a large grill-safe pan or heavy foil disposable pan.  Sprinkle liberally with Cheddar cheese.  Then sprinkle with beans, tomatoes & peppers, followed by Jack cheese.  Sprinkle lightly with green onion slices.  Place on grill that was preheated to med-high.  Close the cover & shut off heat directly under nachos.  Cook 3-4 min to melt cheeses.  Garnish with cilantro & serve with salsa, sour cream & guacamole.

Kiss Lips croppedKISS Tip:  Instead of black beans (or in addition to), try cooked bits of beef or chicken.  Nachos make a great way to use such leftovers from the previous night’s grilling adventures.

 

Grilled Pastrami Reuben

Grilled Pastrami Reuben

Mini Pastrami Reubens
I love these as one of the options when folks want to nibble a variety of items for lunch, rather than having one big sandwich.  They’re also super for a dockside Happy Hour.

 

 

4 T butter, melted
4 slices thin, firm rye bread, crusts removed
2 T Dijon or spicy brown mustard
8 slices (3/4 lb) Swiss cheese
10 slices (1/2 lb) pastrami
6 heaping T canned sauerkraut

Brush 2 T butter on one side of 2 slices of bread; turn over & spread mustard on the other side.  Top mustard with 2 slices of cheese, 5 slices pastrami & sauerkraut, followed by 2 more cheese slices.  Place remaining 2 bread slices on top & brush tops with remaining melted butter.  Place on a grill griddle (or pan) preheated to med-high.  Cook 3-4 min.  Carefully turn with a spatula & cook another 3-4 min.  Remove from grill.  On a cutting board, cut each into 3 strips.  (For tapas, cut each strip into 3 small squares.)  Makes 6 strips or 18 tapas.

Kiss Lips croppedKISS Tip:  You can also opt to simply serve them as two traditional sandwiches.  Serve with dill pickles & potato chips on the side, along with some Thousand Island dressing, if desired.

 

 

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Scrumptious Says It All

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Florence's Veal Francese

Florence’s Veal Francese

I had not been to Florence’s since the 1990’s, when it was in a completely different Merrimack location and founder, Florence Foti, also had a Boston restaurant.  Since Florence’s reopened (with daughter Florence at the helm) in the current location on the Daniel Webster Highway in Merrimack, NH, I have intended to get back there, but it hadn’t happened until now.

My mistake.  I have been missing a tremendous gem of yummy authenticity.

This is my new favorite Italian restaurant in New England.  The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable.  Service is friendly and they immediately make you feel welcome and like family.  Food is prepared to order and totally fantastic.

With a group of friends, we had a most splendid dinner.  Salad is served family style with the three house dressings, which include poppy seed, balsamic, and Italian.  Everything was fresh and beautifully presented.  We enjoyed linguini and ziti pasta, homemade and perfectly cooked.  One of our friends enjoyed the gluten free pasta with a nice Bolognese sauce.   The marinara sauce is also perfect.

I tried one of my favorites… Veal Francese.  Tender, light, and topped with sliced mushrooms, with its buttery lemon sauce, this dish is totally melt-in-your-mouth yummy.

There are so many wonderful specialties and classic entrees on the menu, it was hard to decide what to try.  If it’s an Italian favorite of yours, it’s probably on this menu.  We will most definitely return… again and again!

We also managed to taste some dessert.  They offer classics like Tiramisu, Tartufo, Spumoni, Crème Brulee, and Cannoli.  Chocolate fans will adore both the Chocolate Lava Divine and the Chocolate Layer Cake, which is supremely dark and decadently moist, thanks to a thick layer of what seemed to be a dense mousse.  Awesome.

They are closed Sunday and Monday, but get there any other evening and indulge your taste buds!   They also have a function room for 50-100 guests.

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Good Pub Great Deck

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Saunders Bay Sunset

Saunders Bay Sunset

We’ve enjoyed great sunsets from the Junior’s Crush House deck in Gilford, New Hampshire, including this beauty.  Junior’s is a distinctly “bar-with-a-kitchen” establishment, versus a restaurant with a bar.  There are a few regular tables in the area outside the bar, but also bistro high tops.  We definitely recommend sitting on the deck, which overlooks the Mountain View Yacht Club and Saunders Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Junior's Scallops Penne Alfredo Special

Junior’s Scallops Penne Alfredo Special

In the past I have enjoyed Junior’s for some wonderful homemade pasta with sea scallops, which was a special one night.  However, I don’t recommend it for fine dining.  I find the food to be more hit-or-miss.  Junior’s has opted to become more of a BBQ joint, designed for “pub grub.”  A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed the Buffalo chicken tenders, though they are breaded, and thus, a bit on the greasy side.  A friend dining with us ordered a beef sandwich that was very heavy on the gristle.  The staff immediately took it away and off our bill and let him order something else, for which they also did not charge us.  So, they definitely try to make things right and do take care of the customers to encourage us to give them another try.

Juniors Potato Curls with Bacon and Cheese

Juniors Potato Curls with Bacon and Cheese

A few days later my husband and I returned for a late lunch and a glass of wine.  My husband tried the chicken tenders again… still rather greasy.  I absolutely LOVED the home made potato curls!!!!   I had them done with cheese and bacon, which is one of the topping options.   Oh, YEAH!!!!  I will be back for those beauties again.  Junior’s is a good atmosphere for beverages and snacks.

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Bar Harbor GREAT Steamers

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Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor, Maine

In Bar Harbor, Maine you’ll find plenty of local culture and history.  It’s a lovely little town in which to walk around.  For me, scoring a lobster or lobster roll is a must-do activity.  I trust the locals for restaurant advice, and I was directed to Stewman’s Lobster Pound.  It looks great, and a good lobster pound can’t really mess up a steamed lobster, but making a great lobster roll is an art.

Stewman's Downdown entrance

Stewman’s Downdown entrance

The downtown West Street setting is perfect… straight off a post card.  Eat out on the dock at picnic tables.  Dine indoors in a more traditional restaurant setting.  Or dine outdoors but under protection.  Go for whatever is most comfortable for you… it’s all good, and every seat offers a view of the bay.

 

We started with local Maine steamer clams.  I must say this is one of the few places we have been where they were both utterly clean AND cooked perfectly!  You’ll find them delectably delicate and tender.

Steamers

Steamers

 

Full scale lobster dinners include clam chowder, a steamed lobster, steamer clams, sweet corn on the cob and red bliss potatoes, followed by a slice of Maine blueberry pie.  There are many other options, from salads, burgers and baskets to steak, salmon, scallops, and haddock.

Stewman's Classic Lobster Roll

Stewman’s Classic Lobster Roll

I selected a Classic Maine Lobster roll.  I must say it looked impressive.  Though the meaty chunks of lobster meat were cut small, the thick, crisply grilled, top-split roll was topped by a large mound of gorgeous fresh lobster meat on a couple large pieces of green lettuce.  Remember that I said it “looked” impressive?  It also tasted sweet and fresh, but for the $17 price tag, the mound of lobster meat served is quite small.  The lettuce lies very near the top of the roll.  While the roll looks large, the lobster basically sits on top.

Stewman's Lobster Roll Cross-Section

Stewman’s Lobster Roll Cross-Section

If you are not a true lobster roll aficionado, the lobster roll at Stewman’s Lobster Pound is just fine.  If you ARE a dedicated expert, however, opt for steamers and a whole lobster.  Skip the lobster roll, unless you just want a small portion of lovely, sweet meat to eat with a fork.

 

On the plus side, I like the side options with a lobster roll… French fries, sweet potato fries, a half-and-half fry combo, or kettle-fried potato chips.

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Best Steaks in New Hampshire

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Buckley's Kansas City Rib-Eye Steak

Buckley’s Kansas City Rib-Eye Steak

We enjoy great steaks, especially rib-eyes, and Buckley’s consistently delivers the best in New Hampshire.  At our dinner party the other night, most of us couldn’t resist the Kansas City Rib-Eye special of the night.  The steaks had been rubbed with dry BBQ seasonings and grilled to tasty perfection!  They were served with parmesan new potatoes and garlic green beans.

My husband and one other guest “oohed and ahhed” over the night’s swordfish special.  The hearty steaks were thick, juicy and cooked just right!

Wedge lettuce fans should note that Buckley’s wedge is a beauty.  The iceberg lettuce is sprinkled liberally with tomatoes, bacon, and some red onion.  You choose bleu cheese or cherry pepper ranch dressing.

We also heartily recommend the onion rings.  They may not be “THE” best in the state, but they come close.  These are great for panko fans.  The rings are thick-cut, panko-encrusted, flash-fried, and disappear right before your eyes.  With 8 in our group, two large-sized baskets vanished easily.

We also love their house-made chips and dipping sauce… and the fried orange sesame tenderloin tips are uniquely delicious.

Buckley’s wait staff is well-trained and highly attentive.  Our favorite is Constantina (Connie).  She’s super.

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Bar and Bistro at Marek’s is Merely Okay

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Bar & Bistro @ Marek's Terrace, Marco Island, FL

Bar & Bistro @ Marek’s Terrace, Marco Island, FL

Far from the best food on Marco Island, the Bar and Bistro at Marek’s does deliver a nice atmosphere, especially if you can sit outside.  The veranda is lovely, as is the terrace, and the live music featured on Tuesday and Friday evenings is perfect.  Service was cordial, but inconsistent at best.  The bartender was very pleasant but had no information about what bottled wines were dry versus sweet, for example.  Thankfully, Penny, one of the owners, I think, loves wine and could help.

Several menu offerings looked enticing.  My husband chose the Asian Crispy Shredded Beef.  Portions are very European, which is fine with us.  But he found the taste just “okay,” nothing special.  (He wished he’d ordered something else.)  I had the Crab Stuffed Jumbo Shrimps.  The bacon was crisped nicely, and the stuffing on these three beautiful shrimp wasn’t overly breaded.  That said, the overall taste was not special.  For the price, the value was good.  Both entrees came with rice and stir-fried vegetables, were nothing to write home about, but the little side salad was nice.

Bar & Bistro @ Marek's Crab Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp

Bar & Bistro @ Marek’s Crab Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp

My husband wanted a cappuccino with dessert, but the machine was giving them trouble.  We did share a slice of Key Lime Pie, which was zesty and pleasantly not overly sweet.

For bistro fare, the prices are exceptionally reasonable.  For foodies, the food may be a bit mundane.  For everyone, the atmosphere is welcoming and casual.  Will we go again?  Probably, but we are more apt to choose the original and adjoining Marek’s Collier House Restaurant.  Or we may simply order appetizers and a salad to enjoy with cocktails and the live music.  (Management could benefit by switching out the outdoor light bulbs to the warm variety they use by the driveway entrance.  The cool, white-hot bulbs on the terrace cast an almost florescent -like, cafeteria-glow over the tables.  It’s the only terrace improvement I suggest.)

Maybe our expectations for the food at Bar and Bistro at Marek’s were too high, as a couple of folks had told us this was their favorite restaurant on Marco Island.  (Maybe they should get out more.  Or perhaps this is simply the handy restaurant to where they were staying.)

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GREAT Flatbreads!

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Seasons 52 Fresh Grill Flatbreads

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill Flatbreads

Hubby and I were checking out a boat in North Naples, FL.  We lingered, checking out the yacht club, marina, and some nearby condos.  That means that we’d missed lunch.  Hah!  Traveling down the road by the Mercato Center, we spotted Seasons 52 Fresh Grill.

Unfamiliar with the restaurant group, we popped inside to check out the menu.  Scrumptious-looking appetizers, salads, seafood and more.  Being mid-afternoon, we felt it was too early for dinner, though a bit late for lunch.  We both opted for flatbreads.  Ron chose the Grilled Garlic Pesto Chicken with mozzarella cheese, balsamic onions, roasted red peppers, and arugula.  He absolutely loved it.

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill Lobster Mozzarella Flatbread

I chose one of the day’s specials, a Lobster and Mozzarella Flatbread, with lots of plump bite-sized pieces of Maine lobster, sliced scallions, toasted almonds, diced tomatoes, lemon zest and a lobster sour cream drizzle.

Both featured a superb light cracker-thin crust.

I will definitely return.  Several items on the menu are calling out to me, including the Maui Tuna Crunch sushi-grade tuna salad and the Sesame Grilled Salmon salad with pineapple, mango, and jicama.  Then again, the Oak-Grilled Rack of Lamb with spring vegetables also sounds scrumptious, as do the Lump Crab, Roasted Shrimp and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms.

The restaurant and wine bar atmosphere is classy, but not at all pretentious.  From the outside, we feared it might be “stuffy.”  Such thoughts were unfounded.  Seasons 52 is inviting and comfortable.

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Somethin’ Fishy at the Capri Fish House

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Capri Fish House "Grouben" and Onion Rings

Capri Fish House “Grouben” and Onion Rings

I love trying restaurants!  I love good food!  Looking for things to appreciate is a passion of mine.  The Capri Fish House Restaurant on the Bay on the Isles of Capri in southwest Florida had been calling to me for some time!  We could choose indoor air-conditioned seating, outdoor tables with our toes in the sand, or in the big chickee hut, which is where we dined for lunch.

My husband ordered some white wine for us, and we began perusing the menu.

At first, I was wishing for a basket of fried oysters, but The Ronald didn’t want to partake, and I preferred to share an order.  So, I looked at some other intriguing options.  The Shrimp Spinach Salad tempted me with its chilled spinach, mushrooms, strawberries and grilled shrimp served with hot bacon dressing.  Nice!

Hubby was busy complaining about the high prices, moaning that this must be their “in season” lunch menu.  Particular examples of his angst include the Fish House Hot Dog Sub for $9.99, which had him exclaiming that he’d “never heard of a $10 hot dog anywhere.”  The cheapest burger on the menu started at $10.99, and you can add grilled onions or mushrooms for another $1.50.

Anyway, I told him to be a sport and select something that appealed to him.  He chose the Tuna Salad Sandwich for $9.99, and enjoyed it very much.

I opted for their “Grouben,” a grouper Reuben prepared with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing on marbled rye bread for $14.99.   Wow!  I sure do recommend this beauty.  It featured scrumptious, plump, tender filets of sweet grouper.  It was completely delicious.

Sandwich selections come with your choice of French fries, onion rings or fresh fruit.  We love great onion rings, and these promised to be large, hand-cut gems.  Well, this proved to be a poor choice.  The golden mound of rings on both our plates arrived cold… okay… at room temperature.  I popped one in my mouth anyway.  Ooops!  Bad move.  They’d been fried in the same oil as a lot of fish and tasted very bad.  My husband called a wait staff over and explained that we’d just been served cold, fishy onion rings.  They immediately promised to bring us a side of fresh onion rings.

Shortly, a small dish with half a dozen hot onion rings arrived.  That was good service.  However, even at their freshest, I will tell you to avoid fried food here.  Period.  These may not be the absolute worst onion rings I have ever tasted, but I can’t remember where I have had any that were more awful.  The Capri Fish House batter is simply too dense and absorbs so much oil that foods fried in batter are almost spongy in texture.

I was glad I had not gone for the fried oysters or any other seafood.  I just don’t see “bad batter” as a good sign at a fish house.  Again, I recommend skipping anything fried here, unless you like a stale, old, fishy oil flavor.  This is really sad when I take into account that we dined at high noon on a Friday.  (So, if management believes that the oil is changed daily, someone is telling them fish tales.)

Sandwiches were truly good; salads looked lovely.  As your side dish, I suggest trying the fresh fruit.  We saw it, and it looked good.

The atmosphere is fun and super casual; the staff is friendly and very helpful.  The view is superb.  Will I return?  I would, because the grouper was perfect, but I must say it’s highly unlikely.  There are simply too many other great dining options on Marco Island and the Isles of Capri with similar menus, atmospheres, and views… and fresh oil in their fryers.  The bad taste remained in our mouths for hours, regardless of how many mints we popped.  I guess that I have discovered a pet peeve of mine.

The Capri fish House Restaurant does feature early bird specials Monday through Saturday from 4 – 5:45 pm, and all-you-can-eat buffets for both brunch and dinner on Sundays… just beware of anything fried.

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#1 Island in United States

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Sunset from Sale e Pepe, Marco Island

Sunset from Sale e Pepe, Marco Island

Hey, Marco Island… Congratulations on your #1 US ranking and #4 world ranking as the Best Island to Visit!  (2014 Travelers Choice Awards)  I’ve been visiting Marco Island for 30 years and watched it grow from slow and sleepy to wonderfully Wow!  (Sorry the secret’s out!)

However, we enjoy traveling around the world and have been on some great islands.  Marco is the one I go back to again and again.  Great beach, super people, fabulous restaurants, and very safe.

With the best climate in the lower 48 and the gentle trade winds, it reminds me very much of Hawaii… without the travel.  Okay, and without the luau and volcanic mountains.  🙂

Year ‘rounders tell me they do tend to forget they live in Paradise.  Check out TripAdvisor.com for info on activities, restaurants, and hotels.  LOVE this place!

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Sasso’s is Secret Gem in Marco Island Dining

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Sasso's Seafood Stuffed Lobster

Sasso’s Seafood Stuffed Lobster

Most locals and regular visitors will likely include Sasso’s International Cuisine and Seafood in their Top 3 Southwest Florida dining favorites.  I don’t find articles about it in the standard Marco Island promotional publications, so locals and those “in the know” have managed to almost hide this gem.  My husband and I found it by accident about 4-1/2 years ago, and we never fail to dine here at least once on every visit… as many times as we can, quite frankly.  The dining rooms and lounge, with a big, comfy bar and several dining tables all fill up very fast.  Even full-time residents say they try to make reservations at least one to two weeks in advance.  If you are in a hotel, ask your concierge to help you, but don’t wait until your last night.  We’ve talked with several folks who did that, only to regret having to wait until a future visit to get back to Sasso’s.

Because we travel and love foods from various cultures, Sasso’s lands right on target.  The Mediterranean-styled interior is sassy, yet stylish… classic, yet comfortable.  Diners fit in whether bedecked in their dressiest ensembles or in casual attire and flip-flops after a day at the beach.  Regardless of whether Sasso’s becomes your favorite Marco Island haunt or the spot where you go just for a special dinner, you will probably find the owner (Marianne Kramer) circulating about the tables, making sure you feel welcome and that your foods are prepared to your liking.  Sasso’s reflects Marianne’s passion!

We’ve always been welcomed by the staff and treated warmly and with the utmost professionalism, whether we were eating several courses in one of the exquisite dining rooms or simply sharing some appetizers in tapas style at the bar in the lounge.  (Bartenders Jo-B and Cathy handle a big crowd with skill and smiles.)  We admit that we are frequently wooed by the splendid nightly specials.

We love the regular menu items, especially items like the Ahi Tuna, whether as an entrée or in the Ahi Tuna Stacks appetizer, which is outrageously awesome, served on crispy wonton chips with a marinated seaweed salad and a superb Japanese ginger dressing.  We also enjoy the ever-changing House Spring Rolls, the calamari (both the spicy Asian variation and the traditional Italian style with marinara for dipping), and the melt-in-your-mouth Lobster Purse.  Who knew Maine lobster, portabella mushrooms, and brie cheese all wrapped in perfect puff pastry could be so gleefully addictive!!?

Every night a special menu features a different international culture.  The other night, Greece got the nod, and my husband was wowed by the Lemon Chicken soup, heralding as the best he’s ever had… anywhere.

The live entertainment is also first rate.  Everyone we have seen makes an effort to befriend the audience, welcoming both regulars and newcomers, and getting everyone dancing and having fun, whether you are 4, 40, or celebrating the 40th anniversary of your 40th birthday.  Owner Marianne Kramer and her staff are doing a great job of making fine dining fun and not at all stuffy.

If you drop in some night without a reservation, don’t worry about the wait time for a table.  The lounge is apt to be standing room only, especially on Thursday through Saturday nights.  That’s because the Happy Hour deal is great and the musical entertainment is delightful.  You could actually plan to go earlier and pop in next door to the miniature golf facility recently opened by Marianne and her husband.  These 18 holes are far from typical, as the course meanders through luxurious gardens throughout the tropical theme.

Regardless of where we dine across the United States or abroad, we always look forward to coming home to Sasso’s.  Check it out at www.Sassos.com or in person at 961 Winterberry Drive in Marco Island, Florida, just off Collier Boulevard, one block east of the Hilton.

 

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Shame Shame Shame — Shame of Fools

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MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry closed out 2013 providing the year’s easiest addition to the “Gripes of Cath.”  She lessened respect for herself, political commentators, her fellow MSNBC staff members, and other journalists.

 

While I have come to expect low humor from comedians and actors, I do not expect such from someone who purports to be a serious commentator and newswoman.  As others have learned, commentators should stick to political commentary and avoid pretending to have any sort of objectivity.

 

In my opinion, Harris-Perry’s obvious and snidely-expressed political bias diminishes her credibility as a political science professor.  Unless a student has already decided to be a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, they would surely strain to respect Harris-Perry’s views.

 

I respect her emotional apology.  That showed guts.  However, I can’t help but wonder if it might have had a lot to do with preventing the possible loss of her MSNBC job or repairing the warped stature she created for herself as a laudable opinion-molder.

 

As a political independent since the early 1970’s, I admit to being no fan of politics.  However, Harris-Perry and her giggling gaggle spewed worse garbage than some conservative commentators, of whom so many liberals delight in poking with criticism.  Tasteless.  Ignorant.  Strongly biased.

 

Lacking sense, these thoughtless comments not only revealed how out-of-touch some folks are regarding Mitt Romney, but they also revealed a seeming disdain for decent human values and the very color blindness they would like people to think that liberals alone advocate.  Embarrassing for us all.

 

They can now tweet, email, and offer heartfelt apologies all they like.  I respect Romney and his family for having the class to so graciously accept Harris-Perry’s apology.  From where I stand, she should never use the word journalist or newsperson in association with her name.  Ever.  As a political science professor, she most assuredly should know better.  Period.

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Dog Writes Woofin’ Wonderful Book!

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Miles-Mannered Man  When a great dog writes a great book, he’s far from barking up the wrong tree!  “Dog Days in the Life of the Miles-Mannered Man” is a heart-warming and hysterical collection of tall tales, wagging tails, and tantalizing treats.  Dog fans everywhere love how relatable this Forever Dog…. er… ah… Fur-ever Dog is.

After all the “atta-boys” for his limited edition hard cover, Miles’ book is finally available in paperback and as an easy e-book.  This makes a dog-gone superb gift for anyone… or yourself, if you’ve been good!  Check it out on www.Amazon.com by simply searching for Miles Mannered Man, if the link fails.

Along with all of Miles’ paws-itively relatable stories, special treats are included FREE!   They include:

  • Presidential Pooches (& other White House pets)
  • Other Famous & Heroic Dogs
  • Miles’ Favorite Recipes
  • Dog Quotes & Jokes with the  Miles Paw of Approval

So… get your copy, published by Quiet Thunder; then grab a biscuit and a cool bowl of milk and enjoy the “Miles-Mannered Man.”  If you get it from Amazon.com you get the value-added benefit of being able to then snag the Kindle digital eBook copy for FREE (rather than the usual $7.99).  Woof!

PS. Oh, and there are a few other titles from Quiet Publishing, as well, but dog fans think that Miles’ book is the cat’s meow.

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Posted in Must Love Dogs (& Other Wonderful Pets) | 10 Comments

“The Counselor” Delivers a Halloween Trick, Not Treat

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As much as I dislike giving bad reviews, sometimes someone earns it with such fervor that I must comply.  Few films reviewed by me since the early 1980’s miss the mark on as many levels as “The Counselor.”  Bottom line:  don’t pay money to see this.  When it’s available for free, don’t waste two hours on it.  Okay, that’s cruel, but “Yikes!”

 

The trailer failed to hint at what the film delivered.  Perhaps they were going for farce, in which case they did fine.  If they were aspiring to reach Tarantino-dom, Quentin has little to fear.

 

The great cast list sucked us in, and, to their credit, the actors did the best anyone could do with this over-articulated, unresolved script and storyline.  Hearing some of these characters “waxing poetic” sounded ludicrous to say the least, yet their diatribes go on and on and on, making the film feel painfully longer than it’s one-hour-and-fifty-one-minute running time.  An audience needs to be able to care about characters before they’ll care about their convoluted philosophies.

 

Lots of holes and continuity issues abound in the deliberately disjointed story line.  Contrived and illogical choices by characters simply add to the pretentiousness of this loose character study surrounding an attorney’s foray into a deal with Mexican drug cartels.

 

That said, “The Counselor” kept us talking for a long while.  We could even see some scenarios for a sequel that could actually tie in many of the dangling story lines and characters.  However, everyone in our group agreed that they would not bother seeing a sequel, even if it promised resolution.

 

Overall, the film doesn’t work for me on lots of levels, including bad screenplay, ridiculous dialogue, morbid sexual undertones, crazy continuity issues, weak segues, predictable twists, gratuitous violence,  and underdeveloped characters.

 

The best thing I found in “The Counselor” surprises me, since I am not a fan of tattoos.  Regardless, the leopard tattoos sported by the Cameron Diaz character totally rocked.

 

Just because I didn’t care at all for “The Counselor” does not mean you shouldn’t see it.  However, when you come out disappointed, at least you were warned.  It will not add one thing that helps us strive for Good Living.  Go to “Captain Phillips,” “Thor,” “Last Vegas,” “Rush,” even “Chance of Raining Meatballs 2.”  Choose ANYTHING else.  Give me something with action, substance, or good humor… please.

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An Apple a Day

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apples cropped2 I love good food… it’s central to making good living as easy as 1-2-3.  At this time of year, little is as refreshing as biting into a crisp Autumn apple.  This rings especially true in the northern United States, where chilly late summer night temperatures truly deliver the apple’s sweet juiciness.  Nothing beats picking your own apples at a local orchard.  You get great apples while making some magical memories.

Picking apples at a supermarket lacks the memories, but it can stir quite an adventure if you want freshness and quality, too.  Buyers beware!  Even apples listed as meeting the same quality and size standards may not be at all equal.

Watch out for wormy apple deceptions.  In their rush to offer cheap prices and beat the competition, some supermarkets select lower grades of produce, while passing it on to us as top quality.  These “rotten apples” definitely spoil the rest, as they drive top quality supermarkets out of business.  In New Hampshire we just experienced this as Market Basket expanded adding a couple mega stores.  Their dramatically lower prices caused Shaw’s to pull out of the Manchester area and Shop and Save to leave the state entirely.  We consumers are left with the cheaper prices, but we get stuck with lesser quality produce.

For example, I selected a nice looking bag of fresh McIntosh apples at Market Basket.

Extra Fancy McIntosh Apples from Market Basket

Extra Fancy McIntosh Apples from Market Basket

They are 2-1/2” Extra Fancy by grade.  That means that each is a minimum diameter of 2-1/2 inches, and they are of top quality.  I also liked that the local orchard is listed on the label:  “Packed and grown for Applecrest Farms, Hampton Falls, New Hampshire.”  Read carefully… “packed and grown FOR Applecrest Farms.”  Where were they grown?  I don’t know.

Earlier in the day I had bought a bag of 2-1/2” Fancy grade McIntosh apples at another supermarket, Hannaford’s.

Fancy McIntosh Apples from Hannaford's

Fancy McIntosh Apples from Hannaford’s

The bag notes the apples hailed from the New Hampshire Growers Co-op and even listed the associated apple growers.

Remember… not all apples are created equal.  When I put my apples side by side I saw dramatic differences.  The Market Basket apples were all small, perhaps barely meeting the 2-1/2” minimum for the grade.  The Hannaford bag contained not one single apple with less than a 3 or 3-1/2” diameter.  If Hannaford’s were “Fancy” and Market Basket’s are “Extra Fancy,” why were the “Extra Fancy” ones smaller?  And what’s “Extra Fancy” about bruises on every single apple?

Side by Side... Market Basket vs. Hannaford... No Contest

Side by Side… Market Basket vs. Hannaford… No Contest

I like making apple crisp, apple pie, and apple sauce.  I like stuffing a whole apple with nuts, raisins, and cranberries and baking it.  I like reaching into the refrigerator for a crisp, cold apple and taking that first luscious, juicy bite.  I like getting what I pay for… even in apples with which I cook.  Sigh.

Whenever possible, look for farm fresh, organic, locally grown produce.  For apples in the Granite State, check out the New Hampshire Grower’s Co-op.  Its website is www.NewHampshireGrowersCoop.com.

 

Check out the member farms.  Per my winning apple bag from Hannaford’s, they include:

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Appleview Orchard in Pittsfield   www.applevieworchard.com

Carter Hill Orchard in Concord  www.carterhillapples.com

Duane Family Farm in Barnstead  www.duanefamilyfarm.com

Gould Hill Farm in Hopkinton  www.gouldhillfarm.com

LaValley Farms in Hooksett  www.lavalleyfarms.com

New Hampshire Cider Works in Concord (Sorry, but I didn’t find a website.)

Information is good.  Use it to enjoy the best of the season… with love and laughter.

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