Saturday, October 27, 2012

It's Halloween Week!!

It’s October…and October is by far my favorite month of the year!  The weather really starts to change, the leaves all start turning, its Halloween and it’s it beginning of my “baking season”.  This is the time of year where staying in my kitchen all day baking cookies, cakes, muffins, and various other pastries is totally acceptable.
Since it’s October, and Halloween is my favorite holiday, it’s only right that I share my favorite Pumpkin Muffin recipe and my list of Top Ten Supernatural Books.  The muffins are always a huge hit whenever I make them.  I serve them for breakfast, after school snacks, and my daughter loves them when her braces are sore from being adjusted. J
 Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting
2 Cups sugar                                                  1 tsp baking soda    
½ Cup vegetable oil                                         ½ tsp ground cloves
3 Eggs                                                          1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon**
1 Can (15 oz) canned pumpkin                          ½ tsp nutmeg
½ Cup water                                                  1 tsp salt
3 Cups all-purpose flour                                   1 Cup raisins (optional)
1 ½ tsp baking powder                                     1 Cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 Container (16 oz) cream cheese frosting, your own recipe if preferred (optional)
1.  In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water.  Add flour, baking soda, ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; blend well.  If you choose to add raisins and/or walnuts, fold them into the mixture now.
2.  Spoon into pumpkin mixture into greased muffin tins, filling ¾ full.  Bake at 400° degrees F for 15 minutes.  Use a toothpick inserted into the center of a center placed muffin to check doneness.  If the toothpick comes out clean, they’re done.
3.  Let cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
4.  Frost each muffin with cream cheese frosting.  You can also sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of frosting if desired. 
**I like a lot of cinnamon in my pumpkin recipes, but if you prefer to be a little lighter with cinnamon, this can be cut back t0 ¾ to 1 tsp.  These muffins are also just as good without the frosting if you want to cut back on sugar.
Below is a list of my Top Ten Favorite Supernatural themed books.  This is a general list that covers everything from ghosts to fairies.  I will be posting more specific lists later this week, because this was a really hard list for me to decide on.  I will admit it, Paranormal Fiction is probably my favorite genre, and to pick my top ten favorites was excruciating.  But I managed….
1.    Amityville Horror by Jay Anson – (Ghosts) This book scared the crap out of me.  I couldn’t put it down and then I couldn’t sleep. 
2.    The Witching Hour by Anne Rice – (Witches) This book is long, but it’s worth it. Lots of history and a really good story line. There are only three books in this series, which is a little disappointing, but they are all really good.
3.    Bitten by Kelley Armstrong – (Werewolves)  Awesome, Awesome, Awesome book!  Told from the perspective of the only living female werewolf.  It’s full of action, mystery and just enough sex and romance.
4.    Angelology by Danielle Trussoni – (Fallen Angels)  Amazing book with so much historical detail in it that it’s hard to put down.  I still question the ending, but if she comes out with a sequel I’ll be happy.
5.    Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris – (Vampires)  Small town, Southern girl with a special gift ends up dating and working for vampires in the first novel in one of the best vampire series I’ve ever read.  I couldn’t put these books down and then they came out with the TrueBlood HBO series…I was hooked.
6.    Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton – (Vampires)  First book in the Anita Blake series.  This is the book that started it all and will leave you craving the next one.
7.    Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire – (Fairies)  Great mix of mystery/suspense and the supernatural.  Main character is a PI with a past who’s also a fairy knight.  First book in an awesome series that’s hard to put down.  I hope she keeps the series going.
8.    To Kill a Warlock by H.P. Mallory - (Fairies)  This was a recent read for me, the author put her books on sale one evening through B&N for Nooks so I thought…hey, why not.  I have to say I couldn’t put it down.  It was a great blend of supernatural, mystery, romance and HUMOR.  I love the main character.  She’s a fairy in law enforcement who’s also a struggling writer on the side.  This series is now one of my favorites.
9.    Grave Witch by Kalayna Price – (Witches/Fairies)  I read this book last year and when I finished it, I couldn’t wait to get the next one.  There are only three books in the series so far, and they are all awesome. 
10. Something from the Nightside by Simon Green – (Demons)  This is the first book in a series I can honestly say is one of my favorites.  The setting for the book is a parallel world where it’s perpetual night and demons, witches, and gods rule.  It’s a great balance of mystery and the paranormal with a hero you can’t help cheering for.
Enjoy everyone, there is a lot more to come...but remember, I'm new at this and I'd love to hear what you think. J

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Welcome to Sweet Reads!!

Welcome to Sweet Reads!!!
A place where curling up with good books and awesome recipes is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged. J
First, I should probably explain a little about me and where the inspiration for this blog came from. I have always been a book lover and amateur chef. I can spend hours in a library or bookstore, just hanging out and looking through all the books I want to read, it’s my happy place. My mother often tells me that I missed my calling as a librarian, but I don’t think so, I think I’m just a different kind of librarian.
Because of my life-long passion towards books, many years ago I opened a bookstore in a small Midwestern town. I loved my little book store. I loved being surrounded by thousands of talented writers all day and helping people discovery new authors to read and fall in love with. My favorite part of the job was when a customer would come up to me and say “I really like Patricia Cornwell’s books, but I’ve read them all, what do you suggest”? Ohhh…the options!!!
Unfortunately, I don’t have my little bookstore anymore. Due to a cross country move I changed my store from a brick-and-mortar store to selling items online only and have been running it that way off and on over the years.
My second passion in life (right after books) is cooking. I love to cook, especially baking. I read, I bake…I read, then I bake…
There are many days I spend the entire day in my kitchen, trying new recipes or revamping and improving old ones. I’m also a stress baker, much to the enjoyment of my family and co-workers since it’s not uncommon for me to suddenly decide to make cookies, cupcakes or a peach/plum tart for no other reason than…it makes me happy.
Over the past few months, I have come to realize that many of my friends and co-workers have been asking me for my recipes and for suggestions on what books to read. The more I thought about it, the more I started to think about how I could share my passions with others. Presto…the Sweet Reads Blog was created!
This blog may seem pretty random at times, but I promise you’ll find some interesting things in it. J
So grab your favorite hot (or cold) beverage and stay awhile, everyone is welcome and I encourage feedback and suggestions on what you’d like to see posted.