Monday, February 18, 2019

Soup, Soup, and More Soup

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It's no secret in my family, I love soup. Just about any kind of soup. And I'm always willing to try new recipes. The latest recipe I tried was for Zuppa Toscana, a soup they serve at Olive Garden.

I came by this recipe on Facebook. With a few minor changes (some suggested by the person who gave the recipe) I made it. I must admit, it was delicious. Even my hubby liked it and he's not big on creamed soups of any kind.
Another recipe I made recently was for Cream of Chicken soup - Can you tell I like cream soups. But truthfully, my all time favorite is home made chicken soup like grandma used to make. In my opinion, you just can't beat it. My mom also made this soup. Every Sunday. She stuffed the chicken first with cracker stuffing, Just before it was done, she took the chicken out and finished it in the oven. We ate the soup, with thin noodles - always thin, never wide noodles. To this day Chicken Soup tastes better with thin noodles. But that's neither here nor there. We'd eat the soup for lunch - usually around 1:00, then go to my grandparents' house. When we returned home,
Mom put the chicken back in the oven to heat, made rice, (almost always rice but occasionally mashed potatoes) gravy, and a vegetable. That's what we had for dinner. I said earlier you couldn't beat the soup, that's not quite true. Chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes or rice, gravy, and vegetable were (are) my all time favorites.
When I first got married, I continued my mom's tradition of making chicken soup every Sunday.  Sometimes we visited my grandparents or my parents and sometimes my in-laws, and sometimes we just stayed home. Whatever we did, we followed the same routine of soup for lunch and chicken for dinner.
Of course just being the two of us - except when my husband's friend dropped in - we always had leftovers and dinner for Monday and sometimes Tuesday.  As for me, I could eat soup all week. With the exception of summer that is.  I can't bring myself to eat soup in the summer even though I grew up with it. I can't remember exactly when but my husband asked me when I was going to make something American. American??? What was wrong with chicken soup?
He said he'd like some fried chicken for a change. I didn't have a clue how to make fried chicken. My mother never made fried chicken. She made Chicken Soup, Roasted Chicken, Chicken Paprikash, and Chicken with Gravy, but never just plain old Fried Chicken. My first attempts at making it from a cookbook weren't all that good. The breading always fell off. To this day, I don't make good Fried Chicken. So I stick with Chicken soup.
I'll never forget the day my mom told me that  my dad said he didn't mind telling her he wasn't all that crazy about chicken soup. After fifty years of marriage and making soup every Sunday - that's almost 3000 Sundays she made soup. God love him, he ate soup every week and never said a word. Of course, we laughed about it. Mom didn't think it was too funny at first.
I learned just how hurt she was when my husband informed me after 50+ years of marriage, the he wasn't all that crazy about carrots in the chicken soup. Seriously. I always made sure I gave him a lot of carrots and the poor man never said anything. Now, I'm very careful not to give him too many, which is fine, more for me. LOL
I still make soup often, but not every Sunday. In fact, I make it any day of the week when I have a taste for it. I usually make a large pot and have it for lunch every day until it's gone. Nothing better on these cold winter days.
Here's the recipe for the Zuppa Toscana. Try it, you'll love it. I made the low carb option.

You can find the recipe Here

Zuppa Toscana
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
50 mins
Creamy Zuppa Toscana recipe, full of crumbled sausage, crispy bacon and tender potatoes in a creamy broth! Make this Olive Garden Soup right at home. Low carb option included!
Servings: 6 - 8 serves
Author: Karina
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound mild Italian Sausage casings removed - (I used sweet Italian Sausage)
  • 4 oz (125 g) diced bacon (I omitted the bacon)
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine optional (I made it with and without, tastes fine either way)
  • 1 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth (I had homemade broth)
  • 5 Russet potatoes scrubbed, rinsed and sliced into  1/4-inch slices* (I used the cauliflower and one turnip)
  • 1 cube beef bouillon crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes optional — adjust to your taste 
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half or heavy/thickened cream
  • 3 cups chopped kale hard stems removed (substitute with baby spinach leaves or Swiss chard) (I used the spinach)
  • Fresh shredded parmesan cheese for serving
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional -- for a thicker soup) SEE NOTES (I used this also)
  1. Fry the sausage in a heavy based pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat while breaking up the meat with the end of your wooden spoon. When browned, and cooked through (about 10 minutes), drain most of the oil, leaving about 1 teaspoon of drippings in the pot. Transfer sausage meat to a plate.
  2. Cook the bacon in the same pot/Dutch oven over medium heat until crispy (about 10 minutes). Drain, leaving about 2 teaspoons of drippings in the pot. Transfer cooked bacon to the plate with the sausage meat.
  3. Sauté onions in the pot and cook until soft and translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  4. OPTIONAL: Add the wine and let reduce to half (about 2 minutes).
  5. Increase heat to high, pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Season broth with crushed bouillon, salt, pepper, fennel and chili flakes. Add the potatoes and boil until fork tender (about 10 minutes).
  6. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the heavy cream, cooked sausage, bacon and kale. Let simmer for 2 minutes, until kale leaves have softened.
Recipe Notes
*For low carb option, replace potatoes with 1 head of cauliflower, chopped.
Cut potatoes into even pieces to ensure even cooking.
Chicken, turkey or beef sausages can be used.
Pancetta can be used instead of bacon.

For a thicker soup, mix cornstarch together with 2 tablespoons of cream. Mix well until free from lumps and add it in along with the cream. Give it a good stir while the soup is boiling until thickened. Then add in the cooked sausage, bacon and kale. Continue on with the recipe.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Another Year Gone By

Another year is nearly gone. They seem to go by quicker these days. Must be something to do with age. I would have thought with retirement the days would go by slower, but not so. A lot has changed these past couple of years. Last September, we purchased a new house. Well not new new. But new to us. So, we've been here for a year now. This is actually our second Christmas here.
That's another thing that's changed a lot. Christmas. Usually, we get together with my brothers and sister on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, this year, my brother and brother in law were sick, so that just left another brother and me. We got together and had a very nice evening, but it sure was different from past Christmas Eves.
Back in the day when our children were little, Christmas was lively, loud, and fun. As the kids grew, they married and had children of their own. Little by little they quit attending. They had spouses and in-laws to spend Christmas Eve with. It dwindled down to only a few and this year, none of our children were going to come.
Another thing we quit doing was exchanging gifts, even our "funny gifts". Gag gifts that we started many years ago. Oh, the fun we had with those gifts. But it became more and more difficult to come up with ideas over the years. So, a few years ago, we quit doing it.
Another thing that changed was Christmas Day for us. Usually, all of my children come and some of the grandchildren. This year my oldest daughter and her husband were out of town and my oldest son and his girlfriend hosted Christmas dinner at their house for her family. One of my granddaughters is deployed and another had a baby 3 days before Christmas, so needless to say, they didn't come, and three others had other plans. So even Christmas Day is dwindling somewhat.
Not that it wasn't a nice Christmas, it was. We had a very good time at my daughter's and son in law's house, not to mention an excellent dinner. In lieu of silly gifts, my daughter suggested a white elephant game. Such fun.
And, as the year comes to an end, I look back on all that happened this year, some good, some bad. One of my brothers in law was diagnosed with cancer, a sister in law with Alzheimer, another with Parkinson, and I lost a good friend. But I count my blessings and thank God for our health, family, and love we share. For the most part, it's been a good year.

Wishing everyone a Blessed and Happy New Year!  See you in 2019

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Meet Katherine Wesley

Hi, I’m Katherine Wesley, but everyone calls me Kate. I’ve recently returned to my home town of Twinsburg, Ohio after five years of living in self-imposed exile. Okay, it wasn’t really exile, I left because my fiancĂ© jilted me two days before our wedding. Can you believe he didn’t even have the guts to tell me in person? Oh no, he left me a note and took off to Las Vegas. 
I left town shortly after, because I couldn’t stand the looks of pity from everyone. I know I wasn’t the first, and I probably wouldn’t be the last, but that doesn’t help when it happens to you. So, I fled. I built a new life for myself. I even opened a very successful flower shop in Clyde, Ohio.

But now I’m back and I just opened my own florist shop here. Problem is, my ex is back too. Not that I care. I mean seriously, I’m over him.  The fact my heart beat a little faster the first time I ran into him didn’t mean a thing. Heck, it thumped twice as hard when I met my client’s brother. Not that I’m looking for a guy, believe me, I’m not.  Good grief, I’m happy just the way I am. I don’t have to answer to anyone, and no one has to answer to me. Nope, I’m quite happy, thank you very much
Life was fine until I visited my Aunt Kate’s grave, well mostly fine. I mean my ex and Emma’s brother seemed to be vying for my attention. I never had that happen before and, quite honestly, I could live without it. Talk about uncomfortable. But the florist shop was doing well for just having opened. Emma’s wedding helped that. Anyway, there I was, minding my own business, going to the cemetery, and that’s when I found a dead body.

Well let me tell you, life turned upside down, backwards, forwards, and inside out. Between my ex, Emma’s brother and the dead body, let’s just say things got real complicated.

To make matters worse, the twin sister of the victim showed up in town. If you don’t think that made life real interesting, well think again.

You’ll have to read Trouble Comes in Twos to find out what happened. Released from BWL Publishing, it’s available from several booksellers. You can find them all at: BWL website
Check out the rest of my books here on my blog,

Excerpt from Trouble Comes in Twos

A shadow passed over the doorway, and Kate realized she wasn’t alone.
Adam stood in the doorway, a cocky grin on his face. “Now that’s settled, how are you, Kate?”
Kate couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t he take a hint? “What do you want, Adam?” She didn’t care if she sounded angry. He deserved angry.
Adam came into the work room and stood in front of her. “You look great.”
Kate looked away. So did he, but darned if she’d tell him. He looked too damn good. What was the saying? Fool her once, shame on him, fool her twice, shame on her. Nope, she didn’t need him, or anyone like him.
 “So, what do you want? I gave you all the information on Emma. Shouldn’t you be out investigating?” She picked up a flower and set it in a vase. Her heart beat so hard, it surprised her that he didn’t hear it.
“Look, I know you’re still upset about the wedding, but give me a chance to make it up to you. How about dinner tonight?”
“I’m busy.” Still upset? The man had no idea. Like she’d pick up where they left off? Was he kidding.
“Tomorrow then?”
“I’m busy tomorrow, too. Look, Adam, just go, okay. I don’t want to have dinner with you. Not tonight, not tomorrow, not ever.”
“Come on, babe, don’t be like that.” Adam moved a strand of hair behind her ear. “I don’t blame you for being angry. But come on, it’s been five years.” He ran his finger along her cheek. “The least you could do is give me a chance to explain. Not that I’m sure I could. I’m not sure, even now, why I took off. Cold feet, I guess.”
Kate trembled at his touch. A spark of something familiar tumbled in her stomach. She pushed his hand away. Try as she might, her anger shattered.
“How dare you walk in here like nothing happened? Like we’re going to pick up where we left off?” Kate spoke through clenched teeth. What she really wanted to do was lash out and hurt him the way he hurt her, but a customer might come in and screaming wasn’t going to help anyway.
Adam stared at her, a look of confusion in his dark eyes. He just didn’t get it. He really didn’t see anything wrong with what he did. Took the coward’s way out and left her to deal with canceling all the wedding plans. What a jerk. “Look, just go.” She turned back to her work and picked up a vase to fill her next order.
Adam ran his hand through his dark, wavy hair. Hair she used to love to run her fingers through. She could almost feel the soft, silkiness of even now.
“Give me a break, Kate. Let me make it up to you.”
Part of her wanted to give in, and part of her wanted to throw something at him. Stay strong, get rid of him. No way was she picking up where they left off.
The bell rang again, and before she had a chance to react, Mark stormed in. Kate’s stomach did a flip at the sight of him. What was wrong with her, reacting to these men this way? For five years men had no effect on her. Now, in the course of an hour, the two of them managed to get under her skin, causing feelings deep within she hadn’t experienced in years. Feelings she didn’t want to feel.
Mark stared at them for a second. “I don’t know what the two of you have going, but why aren’t you out looking for my sister?”
Kate shuddered at the angry tone of Mark’s voice. “There’s nothing going on between us, Mr. Westfield. I just suggested the very same thing to Detective Shaffer,” she said just as angry. “Now if the two of you will continue this outside, I have work to do.”
“I’ll call you later, Kate.” Adam acted as if everything between them was settled. Par for the course. Wasn’t that always how it was? She got mad, spoke her mind, and that was it. Over and done with. Nothing changed. Adam went on doing the same things he always did. Didn’t matter if it upset her. Poker every Friday night with his friends, no matter how angry she got. How they had managed to plan the wedding was beyond her.  Not that he did any of the planning. Adam didn’t even want to see the hall or listen to the band. No wonder he didn’t have any qualms about canceling the wedding. He didn’t do any of the work for it. Obviously, he wasn’t ready to get married. So why had he asked her? Asked her, heck, he had insisted. Even when she suggested they wait a year or so. He at least owed her an explanation. But did she really want to hear it?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Meet Mystery Author J.Q. Rose, Giveaway

Thank you, Roseanne, for hosting me this week. You're the final stop on my Winter Blog Tour for my newest release, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard. I'm celebrating this journey with you because you're the one who helped me with the manuscript and have been a wonderful supporter throughout my writing career. Sending you warm HUGS!

Dear Reader, You can get in on the celebration too by becoming the lucky commenter to win a PDF copy of this paranormal mystery. Just say hi, send Roseanne a hug, or leave a comment below and you'll be entered into the drawing. Deadline for entry is Sunday, March 4, 9 pm ET.

Why I Write by J.Q. Rose

Why I Write by J.Q. Rose
About two years ago we attended a concert by Joseph Martin, a master pianist and composer of sacred music. When he played the piano, the music was so beautiful, tears surprised my eyes. Emotions of joy, inspiration, power, thankfulness filled the night as Mr. Martin shared his mastery of the piano and his anthems sung by our church choir. One after another were simply feeding my heart. What a gift he has for blessing others with his music.
Joseph Martin--Master of the Piano
Photo courtesy of by nuchylee
As I listened, I realized this is what I want to do for readers. I want to give them joy when they read my stories. If a reader finishes my book, and the story is one she will remember for the entertainment, the surprises, the humor and the emotions that played through her as she read, then I have accomplished my reason for writing.

What about you? Why do you write? And for the reader, what are you looking for in a book of fiction and/or non-fiction?

For more information about this world-renowned composer and performer, go to Joseph Martin's website here.
# # #
Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J. Q. Rose
Paranormal mystery
Back of the Book: Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose
 Rescuing a naked woman lying in a geranium bed? Investigating mysterious murders Not the usual calls for first responder Jim Hart. He expects slip and fall accidents or low blood pressure emergencies in his retirement community of Citrus Ridge Senior Community and Golf Resort. The ghastly crime scenes turn the winter time fun into a terrifying season of death and mystery when the authorities cannot track down the predator responsible.

Jim and his wife Gloria could escape the horror and grief by returning to their northern home, but concern for their friends and residents keep them in Florida. With the entire community in a dither over the deaths, the Harts participate in the normal winter activities of golfing, dancing, and pool parties with their friends to distract them from the sadness and loss.

Can Jim and Gloria work with the authorities to discover who or what is killing the seniors on Sunshine Boulevard and stop the increasing body count?
Click here to find out more about the book and/or to order from major digital booksellers.

Click here to order Paperback from amazon.

* * *
About J.Q.
After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction.
Author J.Q. Rose
Her mysteries published by BWL Publishing are Terror on Sunshine Boulevard, Dangerous Sanctuary, and Deadly Undertaking. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. She and her husband, Gardener Ted, spend winters in Florida and summers up north camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at

Friday, February 16, 2018

Mother Nature Has a Sense of Humor

What else can it be with the weather warm one day and freezing cold the next. January was a bitter cold month. Not unusual to have sub zero temps for a few days in January. It is winter, after all. This year it started the last week in December with temps in the teens and went well into the first week in January.

Before we knew it, by the middle of January the temps were spring like – rising all the way to 55. Great time to take down the Christmas lights and I took advantage of it. Many people did.
February started out up and down, but mostly below average until the 9th and then a warm front moved in. Not that I’m complaining mind. I don’t much like those frigid temperatures. Never did. Not that I care much for the high heat of summer either. It could stay in the mid to upper 70s all year long and I’d be happy.

This week has been fairly mild with temps working their way up to 60 yesterday (2/15).  Today, it’s going to be 33, below average for this time of year. Next week promises more warmth with highs in the mid 60s. Unfortunately, it’s going to rain.
Can’t have everything, after all it is winter in Ohio. We’re lucky to have the warm temps. I’m hoping for an early spring, but I’m not holding my breath. We often have our biggest snow storms in March. Heck, we’ve even had them the last week of April. Yep, Mother Nature’s sense of humor again.  I guess no one told her Spring is supposed to begin March 20th.

Sometimes I wish I can go south for the winter, but then I think about it. I’m too family-oriented. I couldn’t be away from them for that long. I know they’d get along without me just fine, but… would I get along without them? Probably not. I like our get-togethers. Like having them close at hand in case I need them. I’ve been blessed they all live within 15/20 minutes the farthest and five minutes the closet. If I have an emergency, I know they’ll be here quickly. So call me a home-body.

Getting through winter hasn’t been too bad since we retired. If it gets bad, we just stay home. I’ve got a freezer stocked with meat as well as frozen (homemade) spaghetti sauce and chili. We certainly wouldn’t go hungry. I’m blessed to have my nephew plow our snow and they keep the streets pretty clean around here, so we’re really not snowbound – at least we haven’t been for a while.

So Mother Nature can keep her sense of humor. I’ll laugh right along with her. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

To Microwave or not - Call me old-fashioned

Recently I attended an online party for Pampered Chef – the representative posted a bowl to make popcorn in the microwave. Now, I love popcorn as well as the next person. Haven’t made it in a while, but every so often I get a taste for it.
Rca 0.7 Cu Ft Microwave, Black
I responded in the comment section that I didn’t have a microwave. The representative replied that it was time to get one.  I had to chuckled and responded I didn't like them. She didn't reply, so I hope I didn't offend her. 

We just recently moved, and I got rid of two microwaves. Yes, two. And I didn’t use either one. One sat on a small cabinet in my kitchen for several years, the other was stored in my attic. Why? It was given to me by my son to use in our motor home. I had it in there for, maybe, a couple of weeks. Never used it, and it took up valuable space that I could use for something else.

So, I got rid of them. It’s not that I don’t like microwaves, they have their place and they’re great for some people. Just not me. The only thing I ever used mine for was to reheat left overs, and even then, it wasn’t often. If I was heating leftovers, it was usually for both my husband and me. Took less time to do it on the stove.

When we moved, I looked around the kitchen and, although I have a lot of counter space, I couldn’t picture it anywhere. I prefer to keep my counters uncluttered. I have a Kitchen-aid mixer and toaster on one counter, and I’d really rather have them put away, but the mixer is too large to put in a cabinet an hubby uses the toaster every day. He has a hard-enough time pushing it back on the counter, let alone putting it in a cabinet, so it stays out.

Hence the reason I don’t have a microwave. Why keep something I never use. Besides, making popcorn the old-fashioned way, on top of the stove isn’t all that difficult and, in my opinion, just as quick.

Maybe there’s a little of Aunt Beatrice Lulu in me – she loved to cook and bake from scratch. You can find Aunt Beatrice Lulu in my Family Affair series – 

All in the Family

NothingVentured, Nothing Gained

Monday, January 22, 2018

Losing a Pet

Last night, we lost Toby, our Bichon, who's been with us for twelve years. He
hadn't been feeling well for several days, and after blood work at a Clinic, the results showed several abnormalities.

One of them was diabetes as well as hypothyroidism. Not being able to understand medical language, I couldn't figure out what else was wrong with him.  Since the clinic we went to only treats well dogs - we took him for his update on shots and heart worm test - they recommended a blood test before they'd give him his shots.

After the results came back, they recommended we take him to a different vet and have him treated. The soonest I could get an appointment was Monday - today. Unfortunately, he didn't make it. We could see him going downhill throughout the day.

My husband and I both swear we could see him losing weight by the hour. We let him out as usual in the morning and he did his business, but was moving very slowly.  He refused food, drank sparingly, and slept most of the day. Every time he woke up, he drank a little and went outside. At least, that's how most of the day went.

By evening, he could barely walk, went outside and lay down. I had to carry him inside. Eventually, he quit drinking and quit going out. I suppose we could have taken him to an emergency clinic, but honestly, since we're on social security, we really couldn't afford it.

Besides that, I don't think they could have saved him and it would have cost an arm and leg. My husband and I took turns sitting with him and comforting him.
Our other dog, Oliver, a Shorkie - cross between a Shitzu and Yorkie - laid a short distance away as if he knew what was going on. When Toby finally slipped away, Oliver came over to him, checked him over and sat down.

It's painful watching a loved one die whether human or pet. Toby was an excellent dog, well trained (very easily trained) and a wonderful companion. We shall miss him, but thankfully, we still have Oliver to help fill our time.

This morning we had the painful decision as to what to do with him. We really couldn't afford cremation, besides which no one in the family other than my husband and me would want his ashes. Our time here on earth is limited as we're both getting up in age. Why go through the expense of saving his ashes.

Fortunately, the vet we were going to take him to this morning had the solution - a common burial, the least expensive option. Toby loved other dogs and I'm sure he'll be happy with our choice. Toby loved to ride in the car, chase squirrels, company - especially my son, Tim, who always gave them a treat when he came
in. I swear they knew when he was company. It was like they recognized the sound of his truck before he even pulled in the driveway. Toby loved camping, too, and we'll miss him being with us this year.

 We have many good memories with him and will cherish them always. He loved this house where he didn't have to be restrined on a leash and could run free in the fenced in yard.

Saying goodbye was difficult and we will miss him, but we know he's in a better place, pain free, and running with his new friends.