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Well, hello there and welcome to another edition of Book Beginnings.  Today, I am bringing you the first lines from “His Majesty’s Hope” by Susan Elia MacNeal which is the third in the Maggie Hope mystery series.

“Wannsee-Berlin, April 1941

The urn the ashes came in was beautiful-shiny and black, with an enamel swastika on one side.  It was small, so very small, Jens Hartmann thought.  How could is possibly hold the remains of his son?”

I read the first Maggie Hope book on a whim and really liked it so, of course, I had to keep reading.  Ms. Hope is a mathematician turned spy by way of being Winston Churchill’s secretary.  In this book, we learn the reason that Maggie’s bosses wanted her to become part of a secret intelligence group during World War II and there are so many twists and turns to her story. 

Ms. MacNeal weaves a great tale of the fictional spy with historical facts, locations and characters.  I can’t wait to read the next one!

Please join me at Rose City Reader for Book Beginnings.

Six Sister’s Stuff is a great site for delicious recipes and neat crafts.  Today’s soup comes from Camille and it is a copycat of a dish from one of her favorite restaurants.  When I first read the list of ingredients, I was a little skeptical, but this is so tasty.  The A1 sauce really gives it a great kick.

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1 lb. ground beef

1/2 cup diced onion

6 cups beef broth

14 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 cup ketchup

6 oz. can tomato paste

3 tbsp. A1 sauce

2 tbsp. brown sugar

3 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked

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Cook the macaroni according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  Cook the ground beef with the diced onion until the meat is cooked through and the onions are soft.  Set this aside.

In a large pot, combine the beef broth, diced tomatoes, ketchup, tomato paste, A1, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium high heat.  Bring this to a boil then reduce the heat to low.  Add the meat mixture into the soup pot and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the macaroni to the soup and enjoy! I made a pan of cornbread to go with this and we all enjoyed every bite.

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C loves a good bacon cheeseburger, even if his arteries do not.  Ha, ha!  I had never attempted to make one because frying and I, well, we just don’t get along.  So in my effort to be a good wife and fix things he enjoys, I got over my fear of frying and cooked this recipe from KevinAndAmanda.com.

The burgers turned out great even after I burned the first batch of bacon I cooked and then managed to smoke up the house while I was cooking the second batch. Oops!

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1 lb. bacon

1 lb. ground beef

1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix

2 tbsp. A1 steak sauce

1 egg

Montreal steak seasoning

Sliced cheese of your choice

Hamburgers buns

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Cut the bacon in half and fry in a large skillet over medium-low heat about 10 minutes on each side.  Don’t do what I did and turn up the heat trying to make it cook faster.  Please, just don’t. 

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While the bacon is cooking, combine the ground beef with the ranch dressing mix, A1 sauce, and egg.  Mix this together with your hands and form into 6 patties.  Season both sides of the patties with Montreal steak seasoning.

When the bacon is done, leave just enough bacon grease in the skillet to coat the bottom.  Turn the heat up to medium high.  Put the hamburger patties in the skillet and cook for 3 minutes on each side.  While the burgers are cooking, spread a little butter on the buns and toast in a warm oven for about 5 minutes.

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Place the cooked bacon strips and a slice of cheese on each burger and place a lid on the skillet.  Turn off the heat and leave covered just until the cheese melts.  Build your burger and enjoy!

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Book Beginnings

Today, I bring you “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth which is the second in the Divergent trilogy.  Here are the first lines:

“I wake with his name in my mouth.  Will.  Before I open my eyes, I watch him crumple to the pavement again. Dead.  My doing.”

This is Tris speaking of what happened at the end of the first book.  She did, indeed, kill Will during the simulation while he was being controlled by the Erudite faction.  The Erudites were trying to steal important information from the government or, at least, that is one of the possibilities of their actions. 

“Insurgent” continues the story of Tris who is a Divergent and doesn’t really fit into any of the government factions which makes her a dangerous and valuable commodity.  She must deal with fear, grief, and unknown enemies to help save the remainder of her family and friends.

Please join me at Rose City Reader for Book Beginnings.

Y’all, let me tell you about this roast!  It is now my favorite way to cook a beef roast and it will be a long time before I try a different way.  This is one of those recipes that seems to always be popping up on Pinterest, but after my co-worker loved it and after Plain Chicken loved it, I knew it had to be great. 

This is so easy and tasty and I could just go on and on!  This is the perfect Sunday supper main dish.

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3 lb. pot roast (I used a chuck roast.)

1 packet Ranch dressing mix (I used Penzey’s Spices ranch dressing mix. It’s the best and no MSG!)

1 packet Au Jus mix

6 pepperoncini peppers

1 stick butter

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Spray the crock of your slow cooker with non-stick spray.  Place the roast in the crock.  Sprinkle the ranch dressing mix and Au Jus mix over the roast.  Place the peppers around the roast and, lastly, put the stick of butter on top.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours and try not to gobble the whole thing up in one sitting.  I dare you!! 

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We love our animals…

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Whenever I start thinking about favorite fall flavors, my first choice is always apple.  Some people LOVE pumpkin with a capital “L”, but I’m an apple girl.  This recipe from King Arthur Flour Company (also one of my faves) is awesome!  How can you go wrong with a caramel apple in cake form?

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For the topping:

2 medium apples (I used Galas.)

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tbsp. thawed apple juice concentrate (or boiled cider if you have it)

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 cup light corn syrup

For the cake:

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tbsp. thawed apple juice concentrate (or boiled cider)

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I use King Arthur.)

1 large apple, peeled & finely chopped (I used gala.)

3/4 cup chopped pecans

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan at least 2 inches deep.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment or wax paper and spray that as well with non-stick spray.

Slice and peel the top with the stem off one of the apples and set it aside.  Peel and slice 2 apples into 1/4 inch wedges. Place the apple top, stem side down, in the middle of the pan, and overlap the rest of the apple wedges in a ring around that piece.

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Over low heat on your stovetop, melt the butter with the 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp. apple juice concentrate, 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/2 cup light corn syrup.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour 1/2 cup of the syrup mixture over the apple slices and set the rest aside.

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For the cake: Beat the vegetable oil, 1 cup light brown sugar, 2 tbsp. apple juice concentrate, eggs, spices and salt together for 2 minutes at medium speed.

Sift together the flour and baking soda then stir this into the batter.  Add the chopped apples and nuts and mix until just blended.

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The batter will be thick so scoop the batter into the pan over the apple slices then carefully spread it so it completely covers the apples.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

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Remove from the oven and run a knife along the outside edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan.  Let the cake cool for 5 minutes then turn it out on to a serving plate.  Make sure and save any of the tasty topping that might stick to the pan.

Reheat the reserved topping and pour it over the cake.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8-10 servings

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