If you’re looking for some book ideas, read along with me! I’m sharing my February Reading List.

Confessions of a Cookbook Queen February Reading List Picture Have you read any good books lately?

I have not finished all of my books on last month’s list (although I intend to). I got sidetracked with THIS book (which is on this month’s list), and it’s taking me awhile to finish. Not that it’s too long or not good, but we have been remodeling, so half of my house is a disaster and I’m not having a ton of time to read. Mostly, I’m sweeping up sheetrock dust and drinking wine to make the messy edges a little fuzzier.

Here’s what I’ve got on the list for this month:

Jellyfish

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

One of you guys recommended this last month! Although it’s a story meant for grades 4-7, I couldn’t pass it up after reading the description and reviews.

Via Amazon:

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting-things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.

DeadWake

 Dead Wake by Erik Larson

I have been seeing this book everywhere! A few years ago I read Erik Larson’s book The Devil in the White City and LOVED it, so hopefully this one is pretty great, too.

Via Amazon:

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 

TheRoyalWe

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

I am reading this right now after seeing it on several Best Books lists. While I don’t necessarily find it worthy of any prizes, it’s entertaining and fun to read.

Via Amazon:

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy-tales. Her twin sister Lacey was always the romantic, the one who daydreamed of being a princess. But it’s adventure-seeking Bex who goes to Oxford and meets dreamy Nick across the hall – and thus Bex who accidentally finds herself in love with the eventual heir to the British throne. Nick is everything she could have imagined, but Prince Nicholas has unimaginable baggage: grasping friends, a thorny family, hysterical tabloids tracking his every move, and a public that expected its future king to marry a native. On the eve of the most talked-about wedding of the century, Bex reflects on what she’s sacrificed for love — and exactly whose heart she may yet have to break.

BrokenGrace

Broken Grace by E.C. Diskin

I always love adding a suspenseful novel to the mix, and this one has great reviews!

Via Amazon:

On an icy winter’s day in southwest Michigan, Grace Abbott wakes up as the survivor of a car crash. But she’s left with a traumatic brain injury and a terrifying reality: she can’t remember anything.

Left in the care of her sister, Grace returns to the family’s secluded old farmhouse to recover—but within an hour of her return, the police arrive. Grace’s boyfriend has been murdered. Without any memory, Grace has no alibi.

With suspicion weighing heavily on her and flashes of memory returning, Grace searches for clues to her past. But with every glimpse, her anxiety grows. There is something about the house, her family, her childhood…perhaps the accident isn’t the only reason she can’t remember. Are the dark recesses of her mind hiding something even more sinister and terrifying than she could ever imagine?

Is someone willing to kill again to hide the truth?

 

I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading and loving!

 

These Heart Eye Emoji Oreos are a simple and delicious way to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” to an emoji lover!

Heart Eye Emoji Oreos Picture

I have so many questions about dating in the age of smartphones.

Like how many dates do you go on with a person before it’s acceptable to friend them on Facebook? Or is that something you can do prior to the first date?

It’s just that years and years worth of bad selfies and previous relationship info seems like something a person should not be privy to until they are seriously committed.

Also, breakups. Can you break up via text? Or is it something that absolutely must be done in person? Is it possible that the seriousness of the relationship is the qualifier for possible text break-ups?

I feel like I would be really good at text break-ups. Every time they texted me to see if I wanted to hang out that weekend, I’d just text them back the poop emoji until they got the hint.

Heart Emoji Oreos Photo

There is so much anxiety and second-guessing involved in new relationships, texting should really not be part of the equation. There is so much room for interpretation in a text, it’s quite upsetting even for old married people like myself. One time my husband texted me “call me as soon as you get a second,” and I started hyperventilating and was all OH GOD. SOMEONE HAS DIED. SOMEONE HAS DIED!!!

But as it turns out, he was pulling up to the drive thru and wondered what I wanted to eat. So basically, I was way off.

One thing I can tell you about texting is that there is no misunderstanding the Heart Eye Emoji. It’s a yellow face with hearts for eyes, what could it mean except for love?

These cuties are so incredibly easy to whip up and are super yummy, too! It can be hard to find Valentine’s treats that aren’t too babyish for older kiddos or adults, so I love that these are perfect for all ages.

Here’s how you make them:

oreo-mold-photo.jpg

You’ll need one of these Oreo molds and some yellow candy melts — both can be found in the candy making/cake decorating section of your local craft store (Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, etc.). You can also order them HERE and HERE via Amazon Prime and have them in time for Valentine’s Day! (NOT affiliate links, I just LOVE me some 2 day shipping)

Melt the yellow candy melts according to package directions. Fill molds halfway with the melted candy.

IMG_5727

Press an Oreo into the center of each mold. Gently press it in so that the candy coating comes up the sides of the mold, covering the edges of the cookie.

If you’re like me, use the Peppermint Oreos that you still have leftover from the holidays. It’s fine. It’s all sugar.

IMG_5739

Spoon just a bit more of the melted candy on top, spreading to cover.

Place in the refrigerator until firm, them pop out of the mold.

IMG_5757 These jumbo heart sprinkles are perfect for these little guys. I’ve seen them at both Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. They usually sell them year round, not just seasonal.

You can also buy them HERE.

Use a bit of your melted yellow candy to attach the heart eyes. Melt some dark chocolate almond bark/candy wafers (I prefer THESE and can always find them in the baking aisle at Walmart), place in a plastic bag with a teensy snip out of the corner, and pipe a mouth on your cookies.

Once firm, package up or serve.

Heart Eye Emoji Oreos Image These little guys make me SO happy!

Heart Eyes Emoji Oreos Pic

Enjoy and have a very happy Valentine’s Day!!

In a dinner rut? My weekly meal plan is the perfect inspiration for family-friendly weeknight meals.

WeeklyMealPlanFeb8

Happy Saturday!

Will you be watching the Beyoncé concert tomorrow? I’ve heard that Coldplay and some football players will be there, so that’s interesting.

I’ve got some yummy dips planned, and I’m making a big batch of my favorite brownies. You can’t ever go wrong with a pan of those!

Here’s what we are having for dinner this week. As usual, be sure to print out a free grocery list. All the ingredients you need for the week are already filled out for you. Easy, peasy.

Oven-Baked-Chicken-Parmesan-Sandwiches-tasteandtellblog.com-1

Monday: Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches

How amazing do these look? I saw them on Pinterest the other day and have been dreaming about them ever since!!

**photo credit

steak Tuesday: Sirloin Steak

I hardly ever make steak, but it’s a nice change from time to time. Sirloin is a good choice for our family — it’s inexpensive and none of us are too particular, as long as it’s cooked well.

**photo credit

Chipotle-BBQ-Chicken-Salad-with-Tomatillo-Aocado-Ranch-Dressing-main Wednesday: Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad

I LOVE salads like this that are FULL of stuff. The kiddos aren’t crazy about lettuce, but they’ll eat enough of the toppings and meat that we call it even.

**photo credit

crispy-slow-cooker-carnitas-2 Thursday: Crispy Slow-Cooker Carnitas

Carnitas are one of my FAVORITE things in the entire universe. These are SO simple and so crispy and good.

**photo credit

mongolian-beef-7title Friday: Copycat P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef

My husband got this a few weeks ago when we were out of town at stopped for lunch. He loved it, so I thought I would surprise him by making it at home!

**photo credit

That’s it for this week. Enjoy your weekend!

I’m recapping Episode 5 of The Bachelor with Ben Higgins!

 

The Bachelor Ben Higgins {For previous recaps, click HERE}

The episode opened in Mexico City.

So now instead of just being insane in America, the girls can spread the crazy in a whole other country.  With tacos. Fabulous.

The first date card comes and it is addressed to Amanda. Cue all the fake smiles in the entire world.

The next morning, Ben shows up at 4:30 in the morning to wake up Amanda for their date. Weaves, retainers, and make-up free faces abounded, which is all anyone can really hope for.

Ben and Amanda leave and head out to their date. It turns out that they will be taking a hot air balloon ride.

Soooo…they are recycling No-Shower Britt’s date? That’s just bad juju, if you ask me.

The hot air balloon ride goes perfectly. No one dies and they kiss a lot and it’s super romantic. Afterwards, they lay in a field of grass and wildflowers and share all of their hopes and dreams. And all I can think about is how itchy that must be. Does the grass feel different in Mexico? Because it looks equal in itchiness to America grass.

Meanwhile, another date card arrives at the hotel. It is addressed to: Jubilee, Becca, JoJo, Caila, Emily, Lauren B., Jennifer, Leah, and Olivia. It reads: Como ce dice, “This way to a man’s heart?”

Even though Olivia STILL didn’t get the one-on-one date she is so desperately longing for, she has convinced herself that being on the group date invitation is secret code for, “I’m desperately  in love with you and your deformed toes.” She is literally giddy with excitement.

Back on the date, Ben and Amanda talk about her kids and her past relationship with her husband over drinks. Ben is a great listener and…okay, maybe mildly crazy adorable. He gives her the date rose, they kiss, and she floats back to the hotel on a cloud of love.

Time for the group date! The gang meets up at an ESL class, where they learn simple phrases in Spanish. Bless their hearts, their brains are practically smoking from all the overloaded circuits. Some of us just weren’t meant to say hard words.

The group then heads to a restaurant where they will be competing in a cook-off. With real Mexican recipes. Written in Spanish. Everyone splits into pairs, and Olivia wastes no time digging her hooks into Ben. Maybe that’s what is wrong with her toes. Maybe they’re sloth-hook toes.

The group starts cooking, and the women are basically murdering Olivia with their stabby eyes. Does he honestly not see that she is the worst person to ever exist? Does he not care about her sloth-hook toes? Do his ears and eyes work?

Lauren B and Jubilee win the cooking competition. Which means that Lauren actually won because Jubilee has been bratty and horrible the whole time. Hashtag zero percent surprised.

Back at the hotel, the date card arrives for Lauren H. It reads, “Let’s design a life together.”

The group heads to the cocktail portion of the date, and Olivia wastes no time in getting Ben alone. I can hardly even watch them talk to one another. Her face practically swallows him.

Jubilee sits and pouts as the rest of the women take turns having time alone with Ben. When it comes to Lauren B.’s turn, Ben takes her away to show her the city. They make out and talk about how crazy they are about each other, while the other women wait and SEETHE. I mean, am I the only one seeing that she is CLEARLY HIS FAVORITE?? If these two aren’t just biding their time until this whole thing is over, I don’t even know.

When it’s time for Jubilee to spend time with Ben, she starts it off with complaining. She’s upset that she has to compete with other women for Ben’s affection. And she’s telling him this while she’s on a show based on competing with other women for his affection. It’s all very meta.

Ben ends up asking Jubilee to go home, which is none too soon, if you ask me. She sobs while I sit and stare at her, cold and unfeeling. Goodbye, Jubilee. Cue the party music!

Ben goes back to the women and pretends to act sad about Jubilee leaving. And then somehow…Olivia ends up with the group date rose. Ummmm…WHAT?!?!?! Ben!! I thought we were finally cleaning house, and then you betray me like this?? It’s like I don’t even know you!!

The next day is Lauren H’s date!

Ben and Lauren H. walk the streets of Mexico, where they end up hanging out with a Mexican fashion designer for Fashion Week. They head to a runway, where they start preparing to walk in a fashion show. No pressure, Lauren H!! What a fun date, huh?

They walk the runway, they realize how close the fashion show bonded them, and they celebrate over shots of tequila. Then they head to dinner where they talk about past relationships, and Lauren H. desperately tries to get out of the “friend zone.” It works, because they finally kiss. And it must have been darn good because she basically starts crying.

Time for the cocktail party and rose ceremony!

There’s trouble a’brewin’ because the women are NOT happy that Olivia got the group date rose. JoJo and Ben have time alone together (am I the only one who thinks of KC and JoJo every time I read her name? “Close to me you’re like my mother, close to me you’re like my father”) and they kiss. JoJo returns to the group, then Olivia tells Amanda that she reminds her of Teen Mom. Understandably, JoJo gets angry, so Olivia begins to cry crocodile tears (while smiling — how is it possible to smile AND cry?) and tells her that she’s going to try harder to get along.

This is going to lead to some drama, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

One of the twins (which one is left now? Does it matter?) sits alone with Ben and basically tells him that Olivia is awful. Seeing what is happening, Olivia attempts to squash the situation, white Ben puts on his investigator hat and attempts to get to the bottom of things. After speaking to several women and asking questions about Olivia, he decides to pull Olivia aside, right before the Rose Ceremony is set to start.

And…scene.

OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING. Is Olivia going home? Will we ever see her toes?

I’ll be watching next week to find out…