Showing posts with label low-carb. Show all posts
Showing posts with label low-carb. Show all posts

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: Review of "Cross Her Heart" by Sarah Pinborough, Served with a Recipe for Mushroom & Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice

Happy Thursday. We got lucky again this week, with Hurricane Olivia down to a tropical storm today and besides some heavy rains still to come, not much of an impact on Oahu, Kauai, and while there were damages, it certainly was not as bad as it could have been on Maui. My thoughts are with the East coast and those dealing with Hurricane Florence. I hope for a similar outcome. 

If you are nervously anticipating a storm, it doesn't hurt to have a good thriller to distract you like Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough. I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for this novel. Accompanying my review is a recipe for healthy and tasty bowl of Mushroom & Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

Lisa is living a lie and everyone is about to find out.

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.

But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. 

Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go.

But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa’s world explodes.

As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it’s up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.

But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.

Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren’t meant to be broken.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 4, 2018)

My Review:

Cross Her Heart is my first Sarah Pinborough book. Well, at least the first one I've read. I chose her bestselling previous novel, Behind Her Eyes as a Book of the Month pick last year, before I decided that my biggest problem with the Book of the Month club was actually reading the books. I have a stack of them just sitting on my shelves. I have a feeling though, that Behind Her Eyes may move up to the top of the pile, now that I have given her a try. 

Cross Her Heart snuck up on me a bit. I felt like it started a little slow but whether that was me (seriously, I can't read ANYTHING lately at night and stay awake lately) or the book, I'm not sure, but the twists in the story began to unfold and I found myself caught up in this story and the secrets and lies of Lisa, Ava, and several of the other characters. It is easy to assume that you know what Lisa might be hiding herself and her daughter from, and I liked that I had it wrong. I had several things wrong as a matter of fact, until I reached the end. I was expecting a bigger shock than I got--maybe because I heard so much about a shocking twist in Behind Her Eyes (If you read it don't tell me--I have managed to go more than a year knowing there was a twist but not knowing what it is!), but I felt like in this case, there was a lot of foreshadowing of the big reveal. It didn't spoil the journey for me though, the last third of the book was quite a ride and had me anxiously turning pages. I don't want to say much more than that, as this is a book you'll want to go into without many more details than you already get in the publisher's blurb. 

If you like mystery-thrillers full of twists, secrets, lies, and family and friendship dramas with interesting and flawed characters, add Cross Her Heart to your fall TBR list--it's engaging and entertaining and will keep you guessing.


Author Notes: Sunday Times No.1 bestseller Sarah Pinborough is the critically acclaimed and award-winning, adult and YA author. Her previous novel, Behind Her Eyes, has sold in 25 territories, been shortlisted for the Crime and Thriller Book of the Year at the British Book Awards and was a Sunday Times No.1 bestseller in hardback and paperback. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.
Find out more about Sarah at her website, and connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

Although there wasn't a lot, there was food to be found in Cross Her Heart including pizza, milk, bread, Battenberg cake (an almond-flavored tea cake), tea, Ferrero Rocher chocolates, vodka, cakes,  drinks, a punch of fruit juice, lemonade, vodka and Bacardi, a cold jacket potato, donuts, prosecco, sandwiches and chips, microwave popcorn, cider, tequila shot, crisps, brownies, frozen lasagna, oven fries and peas, curry, beer, bread, olives, scallops and sea bream, Chablis, ice cream with wafers, chicken salad, Chinese takeaway (mentioned a few times, from the Peking sweet-and-sour pork and chicken chow mein, etc.) Caramacs, jelly, ice cream, Chocolate cake, beans on toast, and Jelly Babies (a jelly candy).

Recipe Inspiration: Since there were several mentions of Chinese take-away, for my book-inspired dish, I thought I pick one of my favorite Chinese takeout dishes--fried rice. I wanted to be a bit healthier than my favorite take-out place and use plenty of vegetables and since I still had the remains of a large bag of frozen cauliflower rice, use it in place of rice.

Mushroom & Veggie Cauliflower Fried Rice
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 as a Main, 4 as a Side)

4 cups cauliflower rice (fresh or frozen--see note*
3 Tbsp olive or coconut oil, separated
1/2 sweet onion sliced
1 medium carrot diced
1/2 large red bell pepper
3 scallions/green onions, chopped, white and green parts separated
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger minced
2 cups white button and crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup snow peas, trimmed and sliced into thirds
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari, plus more to taste
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp sesame oil, plus more to taste
sea salt and black pepper to taste
toasted sesame seeds

Prep Cauliflower: If using fresh cauliflower, wash the head and pat it dry, then shred it using the largest holes of a grater or by pulsing the florets in a food processor until it resembles grains of rice. If using frozen, let thaw in a colander then squeeze/press as much of the liquid out as possible. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion slices, carrot, red pepper, the white part of the scallions, garlic and ginger and saute until just the vegetables are just starting to get tender--about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms are tender and vegetables are tender and cooked through. Remove the vegetables from the pan, cover and set aside. 

Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. When hot, add the cauliflower rice and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until cauliflower is tender but not mushy. Stir in the snow peas, 2/3 of the green onion tops, and the tamari/soy sauce and cook for another minute or two. Then push the cauliflower rice to one side of the pan and scramble the beaten eggs on the opposite side. Once eggs are scrambled, gently stir them into the cauliflower rice, along with the sesame oil. Taste and add additional tamari, salt and black pepper as desired. serve immediately, garnished with the remaining chopped green onion and toasted sesame seeds, Enjoy!

Note: This fried rice is at it's best when fresh cooked and hot but you can enjoy leftovers within a day or two. 

Notes/Results: Especially when served hot and fresh, this cauliflower fried rice stands up to it's counterpart in flavor but is much lighter, less greasy, and so much lower calorie and healthier. If you are using frozen, pre-riced cauliflower, the more liquid you can press from it the better--much like the original, the drier the 'rice'--the better the fried rice as you can get it crispier. Use any veggies you like here, you can also add more protein with shrimp, chicken, or tofu and you can leave out the eggs if you aren't a fan--it's very versatile. I'm not saying I don't love the slightly greasy, salty shrimp fried-rice from my local Chinese restaurant, but a big serving of this works just fine and leaves me some wiggle room for dessert calories. ;-) I'd happily make it again. 

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Cross Her Heart" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "After Nightfall" by A.J. Banner, Served with a Recipe for Cauliflower Rice Risotto Primavera

I'm happy to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for the After Nightfall, a new psychological suspense novel by A.J.Banner. Accompanying my review is an easy and delicious Cauliflower Rice Risotto Primavera, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

Beware of friends with secrets…

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (August 7, 2018)

My Review:

Although her other books have been on my TBR list, After Nightfall is the first book from A.J. Banner that I have managed to read. It's a quick read with a good premise and plenty of twists and turns packed into 250-ish pages. I liked that all of the characters had  suspicious behaviors and/or secrets to hide and that had me suspecting everyone. I was certain several times that I had identified the person responsible for Lauren's death--only to be convinced a chapter later that it was someone else. It definitely kept me turning the pages to the end to finally discover the guilty party. Where the book fell a bit short for me was in the characters. I had a hard time liking most of them for various reasons and the main character, Marissa, had me wanting to shake her quite a few times throughout the story. (This bummed me out because my niece is a grade school speech therapist like Marissa and so I wanted Marissa to be stronger and represent!) ;-) The characters that I liked the most were minor players in the drama--a couple of neighbors and Marissa's supportive best friend. Then again, me not liking the characters made them seem all the more suspicious and maybe that worked in the end by keeping me guessing. I breezed through After Nightfall and enjoyed reading it, liking Banner's writing style--her wording, pacing, and how she built the tension. I look forward to delving into her first two novels.


Author Notes: Born in India and raised in North America, A. J. Banner received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her previous novels of psychological suspense include The Good Neighbor and The Twilight Wife, a USA Today bestseller. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and six rescued cats.

Connect with A.J. on Facebook and Instagram.  


Food Inspiration:

There was food to be found in After Nighfall, including spiral pasta with olives, wine, sparkling apple juice, buttered rolls, prosecco, prosciutto, Ligurian minestrone soup (described as soup with vegetables and garlic), macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, chocolate cake, leftover pasta, eggs, omelet with onions and tomatoes, rice, banana nut bread, cotton candy, apples, chocolate chip cookies, whiskey, vodka, chamomile tea, lemon cupcakes, mango kale salad, risotto primavera, fish and chips, a salad of butter lettuce with radishes and onion with mustard dressing on the side, blackberry cheesecake, apricot marmalade, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter on toast, scotch, mint tea, a gin and tonic, appetizers and cake, fruit punch, a stir-fry of vegetables, spaghetti carbonara, cereal, peanuts, and huckleberries.

For my book-inspired dish I picked the risotto primavera that Marissa orders when out to dinner with Nathan. I love risotto and had been meaning to try a cauliflower rice version after buying a large bag of riced cauliflower at Costco. I grabbed a few simple veggies--sweet onion, carrot, celery, red pepper and peas and thought I'd grate up a small leftover chunk of Parmesan that needed to be used. 

Cauliflower Rice Risotto Primavera
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2  cloves garlic, minced
5 cups cauliflower rice (I used frozen)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup coconut milk or milk of choice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese + extra for serving
sea salt and black pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves to taste 
zest of one lemon

Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and saute about 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the cauliflower rice and broth, cover pan and reduce heat to medium low. Let cauliflower and veggies steam for about 6 to 7 minutes then remove the cover and let the liquid evaporate for 5 minutes or so, then add the peas. Continue to cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, then stir in the coconut milk and cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in basil and lemon zest and serve topped with extra cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: I have been enamored with cauliflower rice lately-especially since my doctor recommended I cut out wheat and gluten and cut down on rice and other carbs. When cooked and seasoned well, cauliflower rice works really well in soups and rice bowls and I was thrilled to see how well it worked in risotto. I did not miss the arborio rice and the guilty feeling from eating too much of it. With cauliflower rice it's about 25 calories a cup, versus 200 in a cup of arborio rice and 218 calories for a cup of cooked brown rice . I loved this risotto. I kept it light on the cheese and used coconut milk and it was plenty creamy. I will definitely make this again.

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "After Nightfall" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.