Sunday, February 17, 2019

RAMBLINGS & RECIPES - Chef Michael's Restaurant in Islamorada, Florida

My husband, bless his heart, gets preoccupied with so many other things that he sometimes forgets things like Valentine's Day (sigh). This year, since I didn't want to be disappointed with last minute plans, unable to get in to any decent restaurants and ending up ordering pizza, I took control and made reservations weeks in advance for one of the nicer restaurants in Islamorada... Chef Michael's. I had been wanting to try this place out and I am so glad I was finally able to do so.

Parking is somewhat limited, and we weren't quite sure what to do, but a gentleman with a big smile came out to show us the "special" parking space by the mailbox that no one ever sees. Yay!! 

We were greeted outside by super friendly hostesses who checked our reservation and then took us inside to be seated.  Our waitress, Laura, was fantastic! She immediately arrived at our table to take our drink order... even though it took me awhile to peruse the extensive wine list! I finally settled on a White Zinfadel that was quite nice.

The appetizer of Tempura Lobster Tail was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and served with Coconut and Red Curry Sauce. One order consists of two nice sized pieces, plenty for two people to share.

And then our dinner arrived! I had ordered the Seafood Pasta and it was served in a huge bowl. I decided to not count calories tonight because the pasta was covered in a rich, basil cream sauce, seasoned wonderfully. It had huge sea scallops and even bigger Key West pink shrimp. I even detected more lobster in it as well. There was no way I could eat all of this, especially after devouring some of the amazing bread. The basket contained three different kinds of dinner rolls. One was plain, one was multi-grain with seeds, and the third was olive bread. Instead of a little saucer of olive oil, like many restaurants serve, Chef Michael's provides a little bowl of olive oil mixed with so many herbs (parsley, basil, garlic, cilantro, and I'm not sure what else) that you have to spoon it onto the bread.

Rick had ordered the Hogfish Pontchartrain, which consisted of a nice piece of hogfish, lightly blackened and covered in crawfish and shrimp in a piquant Creole sauce. It was served with grilled vegetables and rice. The vegetables must have been good because Rick actually ate them.

The desserts looked amazing but my stomach was so full from the delicious dinner that I just couldn't eat another bite.  Next time... I'm saving room for the 7-layer carrot cake... or maybe the Creme Brûlée with Tahitian vanilla... or maybe the Chocolate Toffee Mousse Cake. So many decisions.

Next time you are in Islamorada, make a reservation to eat at Chef Michael's. You will not regret it!

Chef Michael's is located at Mile Marker 81.6 on the Oceanside, just off the main highway on the "Old Road"

Hogfish Adriatic
By Chef Michael Ledwith

4­ six-ounce portions of fresh hogfish
Salt and pepper, to taste

Adriatic Sauce
1⁄2 cup fresh cilantro
1⁄2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1⁄4 cup fresh basil leaf
2 cloves garlic
1⁄2 cup good olive oil
2 tablespoons “Fire Cider”
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper

Make the sauce. 
In a food processor, add all of the ingredients for the sauce and puree until smooth.
Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
If the sauce is too thick, slowly add more olive oil.
Serve the sauce at room temperature. The sauce stays well in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Grill the Fish (The fish can be grilled or pan seared.)
Have your grill hot and clean.
Lightly season fish with salt and pepper.
Lightly coat fish with canola oil.
When fish is done, transfer to serving plate, lightly top the fish with Adriatic sauce.
Served with a lemon wedge, steamed seasoned quinoa and grilled asparagus.

Chef Michael’s is located at 81671 Overseas Highway, in Islamorada (halfway between Mile Markers 81 and 82), and is open for dinner daily and brunch on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Book Blitz & Giveaway - THE RUINS by T.H. Hernandez

The Ruins
T.H. Hernandez
(The Union #2)
Publication date: June 16th 2015
Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Heartbroken, grief-stricken, and wracked with guilt, seventeen-year-old Evan Taylor returned to the Union, leaving behind the boy she loved.
Now, she and her friends must find a way to do the impossible – warn the citizens of the Union about an impending rebel attack without alerting the government and risking retaliation against her friends in the Ruins.
When every move Evan makes is thwarted, it soon becomes clear she’s being watched. Faced with a daily fight to stay one step ahead of her pursuers, she returns to the Ruins. But life in the Ruins has its own dangers, and soon she’s fighting a different battle – to stay alive long enough to discover the truth.
Grief, guilt, heartbreak, fear, loss, and abandonment all swirl in my head, creating a vortex of pain and confusion keeping me awake.
Three days ago I was planning a future with the boy I love. Cyrus was going to come back to the Union with me. We were going to figure out a way to warn the citizens here or stop the attack. Together. Now his brother is dead and Cyrus stayed behind, unwilling to abandon the rest of his family.
The scents of honeysuckle and fresh-cut grass float on a late summer night breeze. I stare up at the clouds from the chaise lounge on the balcony. A thick marine layer inched its way in from the coast hours ago, blanketing the sky and obscuring the stars I was hoping to see. With the moon hidden and the Union lights off for the night, darkness envelopes me.
Over the soft murmuring of desalinated ocean water burbling through the aqueduct, I hear the door slide open behind me and sit up. My bio-dad, Eddie, walks out and takes the spot beside me.
“Can’t sleep?”
I shift to my right, giving him more room. “No. You?”
He shakes his head, his cinnamon-colored wavy hair sweeping across his shoulders. “My grandmother used to say if you can’t sleep, it means you’re awake in someone else’s dreams.”
That’s a comforting sentiment. Is Cyrus dreaming about me right now? Or is he like me, too afraid of the nightmares to close his eyes?
Eddie presses his lips together and studies me for several long seconds. “Are you ready to tell me where you’ve really been all summer?”
His question catches me off guard. I thought he bought my story, the one I told him when I came back. The one Lisa fed him while I was in the Ruins. Posing as me, she texted my mom and Eddie from my tablet with regular updates on our fake adventures sailing off the southeastern coast. When I first showed up here yesterday afternoon, he didn’t seem to care where I’d been or what I’d been up to, only that I was here at all. I’m definitely not ready to have this conversation with him.
“I don’t know, are you ready to tell me where you were for the first twelve years of my life?”
He shifts his weight on the chaise next to me and sighs. “I don’t know how many times I can apologize.”
“You think another ‘I’m sorry’ is going to fix everything?”
He rubs his palms on his thighs and stands. “You’re welcome to stay here as long as you’d like, but you might want to ratchet the anger down a few notches.” He moves toward the door before turning back. “You’re going to have to forgive me some day.”
I raise my head and turn toward his dark silhouette. “Why? You think sending me a ticket and letting me hang out with your new kids makes up for everything?”
“No,” he says quietly, “because hanging on to all that anger and resentment isn’t healthy.” He walks back into the house, sliding the door closed behind him.
With a heavy sigh, I fall on my back and stare back up into the blackness. Seriously? After being nothing to me for three-quarters of my life, where does he get off being all parental right now?

Author Bio:
T.H. Hernandez is the author of young adult books. The Union, a futuristic dystopian adventure, was a finalist in the 2015 San Diego book awards in the Young Adult Fiction category.
She loves pumpkin spice lattes, Game of Thrones, Comic-Con, Star Wars, Doctor Who marathons, Bad Lip Reading videos, and all things young adult, especially the three young adults who share her home.
When not visiting the imaginary worlds inside her head, T.H. Hernandez lives in usually sunny San Diego, California with her husband and three children, a couple of cats, and a dog who thinks he's a cat, affectionately referred to as "the puppycat."


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Book Blitz & Giveaway - PIECE BY PIECE by R.H. Tucker

Piece by Piece
R.H. Tucker
(Rumor Has It, #5)
Publication date: February 7th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Everything can change in an instant.
They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone, but the truth is, sometimes you know exactly what you have. And when it’s gone, you start to fade away, too.
Taylor Hopkins knows this firsthand. For the past couple of years, he’s focused on only three things: college, working out, and girls. School to focus on the future and forget the past. Exercising to zone out and clear his mind. And girls for all of the above. Then Sasha falls into his life …
Sasha Williams loves to cook. Skipping her second year of college to work under a head chef and owner of a restaurant was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. After yet another breakup with a guy still hung up on his ex, she decides a night out is the perfect thing to wash away recent memories, and make sure her focus is on cooking. Of course, it doesn’t help that meeting Taylor, and a subsequent deal between them, turns into something she never thought she’d face.
While trying to break down walls, Taylor and Sasha work to come to terms with a future between them. But can you build a future on a foundation that continues to crumble away?
Piece by Piece is the fifth book in the Rumor Has It series and can be read as a stand-alone.
… It’s what I’ve been working for. Even though I still want to finish school and get my associates degree, I know I want to get my foot in the door with personal training.
Thankfully, Becky walks through the door, nothing but skintight yoga pants, a white sports bra, and grinning widely at me. I don’t date, but if there’s a girl that I’d call a constant in my world, it’s Becky. No fuss, no muss. We keep it clean, with no strings attached.
“Hey, Taylor,” she says with a smile.
“What’s up, Becks?”
Leaning against the counter, her breasts are on full display; she doesn’t have to try very hard to flaunt them. They’re fake, but hell if I care. “How about that raincheck tonight?”
I groan. “Can’t do it tonight, heading out of town.”
Her exaggerated pout makes my eyes find her lips. “You’re no fun.”
“How about tomorrow night? Cal and Ethan are celebrating.”
“Oh.” She perks up with excitement. “Celebrating what?”
“They’re branching out. Cal’s finally opening up his own place.”
Eyeing me carefully, she looks around, dropping her voice. “Oh, are you gonna be joining them?”
“Not sure yet. Cal says it’s an open invitation, so we’ll see I guess.”
Leaning closer, she licks her lips. “You should. I’d love some more one-on-one time with you.”
“Oh, I don’t see that being a problem, no matter where I’m at,” I answer, lifting a brow. “You still have my number?”
“Of course.”
“Hit me up tomorrow, and I’ll tell you where we’ll be at tomorrow night.”
Her eyes linger on me as she walks into the gym, behind frosted glass doors. Micah chuckles behind me.
“Seriously, if there is anyone that you might as well just date, it should be Becky. I actually think she’s starting to like you.”
“You’re crazy.”
“Come on, Micah. She knows the score.”
He shakes his head, shrugging. “Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Would you ever think about trying something with her?”
I quirk an eyebrow at him. I know exactly what he’s talking about, but I don’t feel like having an honest conversation right now. “As a matter of fact, Micah,” I pause, making him give me a suspicious look, “there’s a whole lot of things I’d still like to try with her.”
He starts laughing. “And on that note, I’m gonna clean the locker rooms. Freak.”

Author Bio:
RH Tucker lives in Southern California and writes character-driven stories with people who have real heart. At least, he tries to. He also consumes too much caffeine, eats too much pizza, and firmly believes Rocky Road is the best flavor of ice cream.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Book Blitz & Giveaway - THE COUNCIL OF NERETH by T.J. Amberson

The Council of Nereth
T.J. Amberson
Publication date: December 2nd 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Six months have passed since the Council of Nereth was formed. The land is at peace. The people are thriving, secure in the knowledge that Raelin, the evil sorceress who once ruled over them, is no more.Like the other members of the Council of Nereth, Edlyn has returned home to live and work, waiting for the time when the council will meet again. Busy serving the people and restoring the manor of her childhood, Edlyn keeps her deepest wishes hidden away in her heart.On Edlyn’s eighteenth birthday, a messenger from the capitol arrives to her home and delivers devastating news: Maddock has gone missing, and the worst is feared. Edlyn rushes back to the capitol to join the other council members in a desperate search for Maddock. Soon, a ghostly attack confirms the terrifying truth that evil forces are upon Nereth once again. With time running short, Edlyn and her companions must find Maddock and save Nereth before it is too late.
“I am afraid there is no time,” the man interrupted. He crossed the threshold and closed the door behind him. “I apologize for the abruptness of my visit, but I must implore you to hurry. My name is Dalton. I am the new Chief Officer. I was sent by Sir Briac to escort you to the capitol without delay.”
For one instant, Edlyn stood in stunned silence. Then her heart thudded in her chest, and she lunged across the room for her still-damp cloak. “Of course. I shall ready myself immediately.”
“Oh, Miss Edlyn.” Lancy wrung her hands. “I do hope that the cause for your summons is nothin’ too serious.”
“It must be of great importance. The council was not scheduled to meet for another month yet.” Edlyn hung her sword over her side. As she donned her boots, she raised her head and addressed Dalton again. “Did Sir Briac say anything to you about why we are being so urgently summoned?”
“It is in regards to Sir Maddock.”
Edlyn froze. “Maddock?”
Dalton removed his hat and pushed his wet, shoulder-length brown hair from his face. “It would seem that Sir Maddock has gone missing.”
“Missing,” was all Edlyn could manage to say, her breathing growing strained.
Dalton replaced his hat. “After the council members parted ways last June, Sir Briac never received any correspondence from Sir Maddock. Concerned for his welfare, Sir Briac led soldiers into the Colleland to ensure that all was well. But Sir Maddock was nowhere to be found. No one seems to know what happened to him, and our ongoing searches have not uncovered even a trace of a clue.”

Author Bio:
TJ Amberson hails from the Pacific Northwest. With a love of writing in several genres, TJ strives to provide well-written, age-appropriate, & original novels for tweens, teens, and new adults.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

RAMBLINGS & RECIPES - To Valentine or Not to Valentine

Bless his heart, my husband is a very sweet, generous man at times. But holidays like Valentine's Day tend to be more of a last-minute obligation to him. 

Once he realizes what day it is, he will rush out to buy me a card or maybe even some flowers... or HIS favorite candy (knowing I am on a diet and probably won't be eating it). 

Hmmm... Bless his heart.

When my kids were little, the day was reserved for supervising the signing of the backs of all the little Valentine cards that they took to school and for baking heart-shaped cookies for the class party. Or topping cupcakes with little candy conversation hearts. Remember those?

There were no romantic dinners with just the two of us on Valentine's Day once we had kids. It was more of a big family event at home.

I would try to make it special for the kids by making heart shaped pancakes. Yes, I'm sure their teachers loved that. Fill them up with sugar and then send them off to school!

I would  also cut their sandwiches with a heart-shaped cookie cutter (which totally embarrassed my son when he was in high school).  And of course for dinner we would have a heart-shaped meatloaf decorated with mashed potatoes. Don't laugh. They loved it!

Now that the kids are all grown and have moved out, I often thought it would be nice to go back to those before-marriage-days when hubby was much more romantic. So this year, I took control and made reservations at one of the most romantic restaurants I could find here in Islamorada. Chef Michael's! 

I'll let you know how it goes next week! The only thing I can tell you is that I won't be ordering meatloaf.

Valentine's Day Meatloaf
(in case you still have kids living at home)

* 1 lb. ground beef
* 1 lb. ground venison
* 1/2 to 3/4 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
* 1/4 cup chopped onion
* 2 eggs
* Salt & Pepper to taste
* Ketchup

Combine the meats (and you can use whatever kind of ground meat you prefer here, whether it's ground turkey, pork, veal or whatever).  Add salt & pepper, bread crumbs and onion and mix thoroughly.  Beat the eggs slightly with a fork and add to mixture.  Mix with your hands until everything is combined and shape the loaf into a heart shape.  Top with ketchup and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 to 55 minutes.

For additional decoration, you can surround the meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Book Blitz & Giveaway - BLACK BLADE (Reaper Born Trilogy, #2) by H.G. Lynch

Black Blade
H.G. Lynch
(Reaper Born Trilogy, #2)
Publication date: February 8th 2019
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Having moved country, fallen in love, and killed the demon responsible for his father’s death, Ruairidh could do with a break.
Instead, he’s being arrested for his girlfriend’s murder, being stalked by demons, and seeing a Fetch that indicates the death of someone close to him.
This time, Ru isn’t just failing Maths and fighting demons – he’s going to the demon realm to bring back the soul of his loved one, and it’s going to take more than his sword and his wits if he wants to make it back to the living world.
Ruairidh reached out and took my glass from me, setting both glasses down on the coffee table. Then he held out one hand in an elegant request. “May I have this dance?”
“You may.” I slid my hand into his, and he bent low to kiss my knuckles like a proper Victorian gentleman. I giggled as he straightened.
He flashed his cocky grin, and pulled on my hand, yanking me forward, so I stumbled against his chest. “Much better,” he purred, circling his arms around my waist.
Breathless, I splayed my hands on his chest and slid them to his shoulders, so my body was pressed down the length of his. His forest-green eyes burned into mine, so close that they were all I could see. The music was smooth and slow, and I was surprised when Ruairidh began to move to the rhythm, his steps careful and familiar.
“You can waltz?” I asked, startled that this rough-edged man could dance so beautifully.
He winked. “I have many hidden talents.”

Author Bio:
H.G. Lynch is a Paranormal Romance author from Scotland. She is an avid reader, and cat-lover. She spends most of her days writing, while wrestling her cat off her laptop. She loves horse-riding, Star Trek, and snow.
Her books are dark paranormal romances.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

New Release! THE OMNI TOWERS SERIES - Boxed Set for Books 4, 5 & 6

Wow! Another boxed set from author Jamie A. Waters! 

Available today!

If you have finished reading Books 1, 2 & 3, which mainly focus on Kayla's story, just wait! This next boxed set focuses on two other dynamic women, with even more adventure, twists, turns, romance and mystery. Ohmigosh! I love this entire series! You can buy all six of these books individually, or save on these boxed sets... or download them free from KU if you subscribe!  Check these out!


Three books in the award-winning dystopian fantasy series!
Drop of Hope (Book 4)
Dangerous secrets can lurk under the water's surface…
Ariana Alivette has lived a life of perceived luxury in the elusive Omni Towers. While most of the remaining survivors around the world are struggling to survive, Ariana has been locked away to protect a dangerous secret. But, even the walls of a gilded cage can't last forever.
When Ariana makes the decision to reveal her secret to save a life, she suddenly finds herself targeted by those determined to use her for their own ambitions. Ariana must quickly learn the rules of this new world and do whatever is necessary to master her own fate, because one wrong decision means losing her life—and her heart.
Flames of Redemption (Book 5)
Beware the games that can leave you burned…
Valentina has spent her life working as an elite agent for the Coalition. After a rescue effort goes horribly wrong, she's taken to the Omni Towers where she finds herself embroiled in a masterful game of chess and she's the hunted queen.
With the Coalition poised on the brink of civil war and ready to rescind their alliance with The Omni Towers, Valentina must quickly get to the bottom of who is behind the sinister plot targeting their leadership.
When shipments of weapons go missing and buried secrets emerge, Valentina is forced into facing her past and playing the deadliest game of her life. Unfortunately, the stakes of this gamble are higher than anyone could have anticipated and not even a love forged in fire may be enough to save their people from destruction.
Spirit of the Towers (Book 6)
Fate may guide you, but it never promises you'll survive…
Valentina once prided herself on her ability to blend in and adapt to any situation. But no one can remain in the shadows forever, especially when faced with the flames of truth.
The alliance between OmniLab and the Coalition is crumbling, and the man Valentina loves is at the heart of it. With people dying and riots threatening the already shaky foundation of the towers, it's a race against time for Valentina to find out who's responsible.
And deep below the surface, the rapids and danger continue to grow...
An unlikely friendship may be the only chance Valentina has to calm the storm and stop the rebellion before it's too late. And if she fails, it's not just her life and the man she loves at risk—but also the spirit of the towers and the secrets lurking beneath the fallen city.


The Novel Lady Published @ 2014 by Ipietoon