Recipe Review: Baked Chimichangas

IMG_1423In my opinion, the fact that chimichangas are usually fried is a large part of what makes me love them so much. So when I came across a baked option, I was skeptical. Needless to say, my fears were laid to rest after I made these. They are delicious. (Even better the next day.) Don’t let the incredibly non-professional photo deter you. Enjoy!

Original recipe from My Food Fridge.

Ingredients

8oz pkg. cream cheese
8oz. Pepperjack cheese, shredded
1 1/2 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1 lb. cooked chicken, shredded*
6 flour tortillas
cooking spray
shredded cheddar cheese
green onions, for garnish
sour cream
salsa
salt
pepper
season salt
olive oil

Directions

Chicken* (The original recipe did not specify how to make the chicken, so this is how I made mine.)
Cut chicken breasts in half and flatten to same thickness.
Season with salt, pepper, and season salt on both sides of each piece.
Drizzle a pan with olive oil and heat.
Cook chicken in pan, all the way through until done, flipping once.
Remove chicken from pan and drain on paper towels.
Shred chicken with 2 forks.

Chimi’s
Stir together cream cheese, Pepperjack cheese, and taco seasoning.
Fold in chicken.
Divide among flour tortillas.
Tuck in sides, and roll up each tortilla.
Lay seam side down in a sprayed 9×13″ baking dish.
Spray tops of tortillas with cooking spray.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Turn chimi’s over, and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Serve with cheddar cheese, green onions, sour cream, and salsa.

Tara’s Tips:
Truth be told, these were fine the 1st night, but after wrapping them individually in foil and storing them in the refrigerator so the seasoning could seep in, they were much better in the days to come. I heated them in the microwave for about 90 seconds and they were perfect. I didn’t bother topping with salsa, sour cream, or shredded cheese after the first night–and they were still delicious!

Book Review: The Sin Brothers Series

ZanettiForgottenSins  zanetti_sweetrevenge_ebook1I FINALLY read the first two books in The Sin Brothers series. And I wasn’t disappointed. The 4th book in the series will be released in March 2015. Let’s dive in.

 

Forgotten SinsIn a Nutshell
Shane Dean is clearly a trained killer. A highly skilled soldier, able to carry out any mission put in front of him. He knows how to interrogate a man to get the exact information he needs from him. What he doesn’t know, is who he is.

Shane has no recollection of his brothers. Why he’s as skilled as he is. What kind of mission he is carrying out. And he certainly doesn’t remember the wife he walked out on, Josie.

Josie, is a CPA looking to advance her career at the accounting firm she works for and forget the heartbreak she’s endured since her husband left her, 2 years ago. She’s tried to move. She has a male friend. She even filed divorce papers.

When Shane and Joie are reunited, things don’t go quite as either of them would have thought they would. And then there are those dead bodies that may or may not have something to do with Shane…

Sweet RevengeIn a Nutshell
Matt Dean is on a mission. There’s a kill chip in his spine and his brother’s spines and he needs to find the doctor who implanted them, so she can take them out. Like all of his brothers, Matt is not only well versed in carrying out highly dangerous missions, but also those that require a more gentle and seductive touch. He’ll employ whatever tactics he needs to in order to save his family–his brothers are more important than anything, even love…

In walks bar owner Laney Jacobs. Or rather, Matt walks into the bar owned by Laney Jacobs. He knows that she’s not who she says she is, and could be hiding in plain sight as the very doctor he’s seeking. Laney is indeed hiding something, but it’s more than Matt has bargained for.

Laney, is seemingly kind-hearted. She feeds the homeless. Helps those less fortunate than her with school supplies. All while letting them maintain their dignity and without any sort of judgement. But is Laney too good to be true?

Tara’s Take
Last month, I reviewed Blind Faith by Rebecca Zanetti. LOVED it! It’s the 3rd book in The Sin Brothers series. Hence, I thought it prudent to go back and start at the beginning.

Forgotten Sins and Sweet Revenge are fun reads and provide more insight and background on the bothers Dean. In addition, Zanetti’s writing style clearly evolved by the time she wrote Blind Faith. These first two books in the series have a bit of repetition. While Shane Dean may have amnesia, the reader is repeatedly reminded of his condition. Similarly, in Sweet Revenge, we never forget that Matt is on a mission and his brothers mean more to him than anything. It was also made clear that Matt’s feelings for Laney were conflicted. So conflicted, that it was hard for the reader to determine how Matt felt.

That said, overall, the series is one to take notice of. The interaction between brothers is amusing. The heroines are strong women, who seem to constantly point guns at the brothers… There’s mystery and intrigue; and just the right amount of sexiness.

If you haven’t tried this series, give it a whirl–you’ll enjoy the ride.

Book Review: The Promise

The PromiseIn a Nutshell:
This is Francesca (Frankie) and Benito’s (Benny) story. We first encounter Frankie and Benny in Kristen Ashley’s, At Peace. In that book, they are secondary characters–yet integral to the plot. In The Promise, we find out far more about their history and what happened after At Peace ended. (Just providing some context–essentially, read At Peace before you read this one. You won’t be disappointed.)

Frankie is being released from the hospital after the events of At Peace leave her with a gunshot wound. Benny, has decided that she’s going home with him. Now, mind you–Frankie was in a long-term relationship with Benny’s brother, Vinnie, who was in the mob and killed 7 years prior to the onset of this story. And that’s just the start of the complications.

There’s always been sexual tension between Frankie and Benny, but bad blood over what happened with Vinnie has kept them apart long after Vinnie’s demise. As such, it’s hard for them to finally overcome the past to be together–but they try their best to make it happen. A long distance romance. Work place drama (to put it mildly). Family struggles. And there you have the makings of an almost real life tale.

Tara’s Take:
This is classic Kristen Ashley story telling, though it’s clear her writing has evolved. Gone are the 1,000+ page books with over descriptors. In its place is a concise story with just the right amount of detail. Ashley creates characters you can’t help but adore. You immediately bond with them. (Hence why I’ve read almost all of her 20+ books.) And this one is no exception. You feel for both Frankie and Benny because at the end of the day they’re just trying to do the right thing, be together, and live happily ever after.

I think we all know someone who has been in or struggled with a long distance relationship. We’ve all had to manage vacation time, family acting crazy, and challenges in the work place. Those are just some of the elements that make this story so relatable and the characters seem so down to earth. Not only do you nod your head at times–been there, done that (though some of the scenarios are a bit extreme), you can’t help but laugh at the parallels to real life.

All of that said, there are some stretches. Frankie becomes an amateur super sleuth along with others in her office. There’s murder. Intrigue. And the mob. And while it made for somewhat of an interesting story line–it was really more of a distraction from the primary plot. The conclusion to the big ‘mystery’ was rather anti-climatic and left you wondering if it was needed at all.

On the whole, it was a fun, fast read, that I would recommend. I am admittedly biased because Ashley is one of my fave romance writers, but for good reason. You could read this as a stand alone–she provides enough background, but why deny yourself the fun of At Peace if you don’t have to? Enjoy!

Book Review: Blind Faith

blind faithIn a Nutshell
I was sent this book from a publisher on NetGalley. Aside from the fact that I was curious because it was only the 2nd unrequested book I had received, I was also intrigued when I researched the premise.

Blind Faith by Rebecca Zanetti is the 3rd book in the Sin Brothers series and tells the story of Nate–a futuristic soldier created in a ‘test tube’–and Audrey–the daughter of the scientist who created Nate. (I know, it sounds odd, bear with me.)

Nate has a kill chip implanted in him, as do both of his brothers. Long ago, he and Audrey were a couple. Even though he was supposedly created as a killing machine with no feelings, he fell in love. But circumstances pushed Audrey and Nate apart and now he’s racing against time to not only find the computer program to shut down the kill chips before he and his brothers perish, but he’s also in search of the child he and Audrey conceived, who he’s never met.

Tara’s Take
This is not a typical love story.  And this is not a book that I expected to like. I don’t do dystopian, futuristic, fantasy type stories–yes, I’m the only person on the planet that didn’t like The Hunger Games, but this one drew me in. Not having read the first two books, it was relatively easy to catch up on the storyline. The characters were likable and the plot was intriguing enough to make me want to read the 1st two books.

Even though Nate and his brothers were created by a ‘mad scientist’ and there’s a villain called the Commander that everyone fears–this is a pretty ‘normal’ love story/suspense book. The story has a good pace and it’s not too far out there. (Plus there are no children killing each other to stay alive–just sayin’.)

Blind Faith is a fast paced, easy read that’s interesting, funny, and provides the right combination of intrigue and romance. There are some hot alpha males and a strong-willed heroine with a brain. I’m looking forward to reading the first 2 books in the series and I can’t wait to read the 4th whenever it comes out. Yes, this isn’t the end of the line for the Sin Brothers and I can’t wait until they return!

 

Recipe Review: Sweet Cornbread

IMG_0520I have loved this cornbread since the first time I had it, years ago. Honestly, you could eat it as a dessert (I do)–it’s just that yummy! I have never doctored the recipe (which is rare for me) because you don’t need to. And I owe it all to my friend Denise–who I think owes it to her sister–thanks! Enjoy! (Oh, and it goes perfectly with the fiesta chicken…)

Ingredients:

  • 3c Bisquick
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 c butter, melted, then cooled
  • 1 1/2 c milk

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a 9×13 pan
  2. Bale at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes