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This Book Is Making Me Hungry + Review — Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe

20 Mar

There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10

000882What if you could ask God anything? What would you ask? And how would He answer?

Chelsea Chambers is on her own. After a public split from her NFL superstar husband, Chelsea takes a bold step out of the limelight and behind the counter of the Higher Grounds Café, an old-fashioned coffee shop in dire need of reinvention. But when her courage, expert planning, and out-of-this-world cupcakes fail to pay the bills, this newly single mom finds herself desperate for help. Better yet, a miracle.

Then a curious stranger lands at Chelsea’s door, and with him, an even more curious string of events. Soon, customers are flocking to the Higher Grounds Café, and not just for the cupcakes and cappuccino. They’ve come for the internet connection to the divine. Now the café has become the go-to place for people in search of answers to life’s biggest questions.

When a catastrophe strikes and her ex comes calling, Chelsea begins to wonder if the whole universe is conspiring against her quest to make it on her own. After a shocking discovery opens her eyes to the unseen world around her, Chelsea finds the courage to ask God a question of her own. Heaven answers in a most unexpected way.

 

MLucado-261More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

 

 

My Impressions:

I confess that I have never read any of Max Lucado’s non-fiction books. I am a fiction gal and find it hard to get into most non-fiction. But when I saw that he had written his first novel, I just had to read it. Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe captured me from the beginning. Wonderful characters and a great setting add to this inspiring tale. This book is great for any fans of Max Lucado or for anyone who needs a little encouragement and hope that God is really listening.

Chelsea Chambers and her children have moved back to her hometown of San Antonio, Texas following her separation from NFL star, Sawyer. Reopening her mother’s cafe is challenging enough with her family changes, but a whopping tax bill puts Chelsea into panic mode. With some angelic help, Chelsea finds her faith and forgiveness.

Lightly written with plenty of chuckle-inducing moments, Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe still packs a punch on the spiritual front. Spiritual themes of forgiveness, the personhood of God and prayer are skillfully interwoven. A clever device is used to show how God wants to have personal relationships with his creation. Lucado also emphasizes that once prayers are sent up, they linger like a heavenly aroma. The book also gives a glimpse at how things on earth must look from the spiritual realm. I especially loved the scene where the angels are rejoicing when a character accepts the gift of salvation. Fun characters, inventive plot devices and mouth-watering cupcake creations are icing on the cake (pardon the pun!). Miracle at The Higher Grounds Cafe is definitely a must-read.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse and Thomas Nelson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake

GH0507H_chocolate-raspberry-layer-cake-recipe_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeMain character, Chelsea Chambers bakes up scrumptious goodies in her cafe. One particularly yummy dessert plays a role in her dealings with a real estate agent. So in honor of Chelsea, here is a recipe for Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake  from Giada De Laurentiis (courtesy of the Food Network).

Ingredients

Puree:
One 12-ounce bag frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed

Cake:
Butter, for greasing the pans
All-purpose flour, for dusting
One 18.25-ounce box chocolate cake mix, such as Betty Crocker Super Moist Chocolate Fudge
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Fresh raspberries or chocolate curls for garnish

For the puree: Place the raspberries in a blender and blend until smooth (yields 1 1/4 cups of puree). Remove 1/4 cup of puree and reserve.

For the cake: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of two 8- or 9-inch round nonstick baking pans. Set aside.

Place 1 tablespoon of the cake mix and the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Toss until the chocolate chips are coated.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining cake mix, 1 cup of the raspberry puree, vegetable oil, eggs and 1/4 cup water. Using an electric hand mixer, blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Mix in the chocolate chips. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, butter, cream cheese and sour cream. Using an electric hand mixer, beat on low speed until smooth. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

In a small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup of the frosting and the reserved 1/4 cup puree until smooth.

To assemble the cake: Place one cake layer, flat side-up, on a cake stand. Using a spatula, spread the raspberry-chocolate frosting over the cake layer leaving a 1/2-inch border. Place the other cake layer on top. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining chocolate frosting. Decorate with fresh raspberries or chocolate curls. Using a damp knife cut the cake into wedges and serve.

Cake can be made 1 day in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight plastic container. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

 

This Book Is Making Me Hungry + Review — The Cherry Cola Book Club

20 Feb

The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee was Page Turners’ selection for February. Sad to say only one of our members liked it. The book had the feel of a cozy mystery — really quirky characters and a small town setting — but alas, no mystery was to be had. The author instead endeavored to create women’s fiction involving a book club dedicated to saving the local library. Great premise; poor execution. The characters came off as caricatures and the plot strained believability. And nothing seemed to happen. One bright spot was the inclusion of food — lots of it. The characters ate more than they discussed books! One of the recipes included in the book is for Cherry Cola Chocolate Cake. Yum! So here is the recipe and a little about the book. It is the first in a series, but sadly, we will not be reading subsequent books.

13613777Set in a small town in Mississippi, The Cherry Cola Book Club is the touching and sometimes hilarious story of a young, upbeat librarian who has been given an ultimatum to increase the library’s circulation dramatically — or risk having to close its doors.

Maura doesn’t just start a book club; she gets involved in unique and unexpected ways with her library patrons. She entertains and advises them, she has potluck dinners, and life in the town begins to imitate art. The patrons begin to relate their own lives to the work of writers like Margaret Mitchell and Harper Lee. In moving and personal ways, Maura helps them deal with such subjects as long-lost love and a brush with death, offering advice on nearly everything — including romance. No topic is off limits. Along the way, Maura raises the profile of the library — but will it be enough?

10259841_510797262379055_5560824650821427051_nAshton Lee was born in historic Natchez, Mississippi, into a large, extended Southern family which gave him much fodder for his fiction later in life. His father, who wrote under the pen name of R. Keene Lee right after WWII, was an editor and writer in New York of what is now called pulp fiction. As a result, Ashton inherited a love of reading and writing early on and did all the things aspiring authors are supposed to do, including majoring in English when he attended The University of the South, affectionately known as Sewanee. While there, he studied Creative Writing under Andrew Lytle, then editor of the Sewanee Review, and a member of the Southern Agrarians in the 1920s.

Ashton lives in Oxford, MS, enjoying the amenities of a university town that many writers have called home. Readers can like Ashton Lee at: facebook.com/ashtonlee.net.

62f26471-0c6d-4218-bf20-90991cda3e64Cherry Cola Chocolate Cake (courtesy of Betty Crocker)

Ingredients

1 jar (10 oz) maraschino cherries, drained, 1/4 cup liquid reserved
1 box Betty Crocker™ SuperMoist™ devil’s food cake mix
1 cup cherry cola carbonated beverage
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 container Betty Crocker™ Whipped vanilla frosting
1 cup marshmallow creme
24 maraschino cherries with stems, well drained, if desired

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom only of 13×9-inch pan with baking spray with flour. Chop cherries; set aside.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, cola beverage, oil, eggs and 1/4 cup reserved cherry liquid with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in chopped cherries. Pour into pan.

Bake 34 to 42 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In small bowl, mix frosting and marshmallow creme until smooth. Frost cake. Top each piece with 2 cherries with stems. Store loosely covered.

This Book Is Making Me Hungry! Recipe for Murder by Lisa Harris

16 Jan

Some books make me hungry for more, literally! Often books include recipes or feature characters who cook up mouth-watering creations. So once a month I plan to feature a book I have recently read with a recipe that goes along with it. Here is my first feature — Recipe for Murder and Lemon Crumb Cake, courtesy of main character Priscilla Crumb.

hsm-recipe-for-murder-cycle-1-2008Pricilla Crumb’s guest list has just turned into a suspect list . . . for murder. Pricilla never expected to be involved in a real life mystery, but that’s exactly where she finds herself when one of the guests at her son’s hunting lodge is found dead after sampling one of her salmon-filled tartlets. Determined to discover the truth, this unconventional busybody follows one lead after another, dishing up laughter and suspense along the way.

My Review HERE.

 

exps47862_THHC1757657D33CLemon Crumb Cake (courtesy of Taste of Home)

Ingredients:

2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 can (15-3/4 ounces) lemon pie filling

Topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Reduced-fat vanilla ice cream, optional

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, beat the first five ingredients until well blended. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into buttermilk mixture until blended. Pour into a 13-in. x 9-in baking pan coated with cooking spray. Drop pie filling by teaspoonfuls over batter.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in almonds; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

3. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm with ice cream if desired.

Yield: 20 servings.

 

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8