Jasper Update with Bonus Critters

I’ve been meaning to update you on Jasper for a while. He will have been here three months this coming week. It’s been a riotous three months. He’s a very good boy, but we have had a variety of issues to work out, starting with boundaries, how to keep his huge and very strong front paws to himself, and to stop being selectively deaf when it comes to the word “no.”

Saturday Good News Thread: Honoring Lilly

He pulls the same look anytime I scold him. He turns on the charm and reminds you that he was once starving and abandoned. I feel like a villain, but remain steadfast in his training. He rewards me by catching on incredibly quickly.

Saturday Good News Thread: Honoring Lilly 1
Look at that booty

Scout still feels a bit put upon, but she enjoys romping around the yard with him. He insists on full body contact with her when they sleep and while she tolerates it, she throws me those “why me?” looks from across the room.

Saturday Good News Thread: Honoring Lilly 2

It’s impossible to get them all looking at me at once…so here are 2 of them Continue reading

Holidays, Duxbridge and Critters, Oh, My!

This post is a little longer than usual, but a lot to catch up on.

It’s been a rough year-ish, as anyone who follows the blog knows. And while I’ve been busy with the Duxbridge Mysteries series, that was about all the writing I could manage. Posting new content here was minimal. I’m hoping to make up for that going forward, especially since the upcoming holidays are some of my favorites. Recipes galore.

Just got back from a great relaxing trip to Boston. Friends, family, and fall colors were just what was needed. A week away was a little stressful for both Trixie and Jasper, but they were in good hands, and Scout was super chill, so that helped them. And now that I’m back, they are all relaxing back into their routines.

The first book in the Duxbridge Mystery series is finishing up with the editor. I’m assuming publication date will be in time for the holidays. It’s taken longer than expected, mainly because there were weeks of not feeling up to writing. Daily life and my day job were about all I could tackle. But, as always, the characters won’t shut up, so I always return to it. Continue reading

A Little Fall Color Vaca

I’m off on a much needed vacation/writing research trip.  Duxbridge Mysteries: Recipe for Murder is at the editor for a second edit, after some major rewrites. Oh, how spoiled am I that this was unusual? But understandable. It’s been a weird year, and I’m surprised anything I wrote was coherent.  It now looks like a solid cozy mystery/romance, and I’m excited to get it to the publisher.

Meanwhile, I’m working on the best way to add all the recipes into the novel. We may be moving those recipes to a dedicated “Dispatches from Duxbridge” website. It’s up to what my writing partner wants to do.

I’m off to the “real” Duxbridge to walk the beach, visit friends and family, and do some research on the next in the series.  There will also be some leaf-peeping.

As soon as my editor gives me the okay, I’ll post the first four chapters to tide you over until publication.

When I get back, I’ll catch you up on everything that’s been going on and why so few entries (thank goodness for JeffreyW who keeps the blog going with his wonderful photos and videos).  I owe this blog a nice, long post. Including updates on the many critters (as you can imagine, they keep me super busy).

Until then…

Saturday Comfort Meal: Pan Fried Chicken Breasts

 

I butterflied chicken breasts tonight and tossed them in a homemade “shake n bake” before pan frying them, and my earworm is a little southern girl saying, “…and I helped”

It’s pretty easy and quick. Served with electric pressure cooker mashed potatoes and pepper gravy.  Salad or green beans (hey, I bet you still have some zucchini in the garden!) make for a complete dinner.

Butterflied Pan Fried Chicken Breasts

  • 1 lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 – 3 tbsp flour (if you want “crunchy chicken, add 1/2 cup of panko or bread crumbs)
  • About 1/2 tsp each: salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, dried sage, garlic powder, and a dash of cayenne (more as desired)
  • olive oil (not EVOO)

cast iron skillet, gallon zipper bag

Butterfly the breasts, cutting them completely through so you have several thin cutlets.

Add them to the zipper bag, as many as you can, and have them lay flat. Pound them until they are about 1/4 inch thick. Remove and repeat until all cutlets are pounded.

Place the breasts back into the bag.  Mix all the herbs and spices together, grinding together, using a mortar and pestle if you have them. Otherwise, you can use the back of a spoon in a bowl.  Add the mixture to the bag with the breasts and toss until they are well coated.

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high

Add flour to the chicken mixture and toss until all chicken is well coated, as more as needed.

Now it’s time to add breasts to the skillet. Test a bit of the moist flour and make sure it sizzles in the pan, then add breasts. Don’t crowd, you may have to do in two batches (make sure the oil heats back up). Reduce heat to medium and cook until golden brown on both sides 160 degrees F. Remove to paper towel or cooling rack. They will climb to 165 quickly.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.


 

When You Know She Means Business

I was on the phone with a client, and what happens often, one of the dogs decides that’s the time to crunch or squeak. This time it was Trixie. I asked her to stop, which remarkably, she did. When I hung up, I found her waiting patiently.
“Can I squeak now?”
May be an image of dog and ball
I must have had the don’t mess with me face when I asked her to stop, LOL

Apple Week: Apple Cider Donut Holes

It’s the time of year when folks go out to orchards; spend the day filling bags with apples, going on hay rides, running through corn and bale mazes, before finishing up with cider and cider donuts. In honor of that, I decided to try and make my own. Baked, not fried.

I haven’t purchased cider in a while and was a little shocked at the cost – but I bought from a local orchard, so it was worth it. Excellent flavor.

These turned out pretty good – unless you’ve got donut tins, these are going to be a little lopsided, not perfectly round as the dough is more like muffin dough. They are much lighter than muffins, more like a good cake donut, and once you coat them in cinnamon and sugar, no one will notice their little flat bottoms.

This recipe made about 3 ½ dozen holes or 2 ½ dozen mini muffins.

Apple Cider Donut Holes

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 cups of apple cider (reduced to ½ cup)
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or 2 tbsp buttermilk powder and ½ cup water)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 small apple, shredded or 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce

Topping:

  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Saucepan, large mixing bowl, Mini-muffin pan or donut pan (these usually make mini-donuts), two small bowls Continue reading

Apple Week: Cast-Iron Skillet Apple Crisp

I bought some mediocre apples the other day, and beyond feeding them to the dogs as treats, I needed something to do with the other two pounds. Apple crisp came to mind – add enough butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, and even mediocre apples can shine.  I wish I had a bit of apple cider because the wasn’t a lot of juice in these, so the crisp was a little dry, despite a stick of butter.

I toyed with going to the local open space apple orchard to grab some (free) apples, but I think I might be too late this year, and they’ve been cleaned out.  It’s become a very popular place for apple picking.

Since I discovered using a cast-iron skillet for making apple crisp, that’s been my go-to. Sometimes I bake it in the skillet, but most of the time, I move it to a glass baking dish because mine has a great cover for the leftovers. Continue reading