Thursday, February 27, 2020

Payback in Panama (The Cuban Trilogy, Book 3) by Noel Hynd

Book Description:  After two attempts on her life, Alex is faced with the ultimate decision . . . kill or be killed. U.S. Treasury Agent Alexandra LaDuca is at a crossroads. Her job is beating her up, emotionally and psychologically. And the moral battle between her faith and her responsibilities is taking its toll on her effectiveness. For the first time, she wonders how long she can last. Forcing an end to her long-running and treacherous duel with the heads of the Dosi Cartel, Alex knows this is her last do-or-die operation. It's time call in all the favors owed to her. Her fight takes her into the criminal underground of America's east coast, south into the violent underworld of Central America, across Honduras and El Salvador, and finally to Panama for a shattering confrontation. Alex's career, her life, and her future with the man she loves---a future she never expected after the violent death of her fiance two years earlier---are all at stake. After a final payback in Panama, nothing will be the same . . . if she even survives.

My Thoughts:  This is the third and final book in The Cuban Trilogy.  I've read the previous two books, Hostage in Havana and Murder in Miami.  And I LOVE these books by Noel Hynd!
Payback In Panama is probably my favorite of all three...maybe because the action and the end takes place.  Or maybe, just maybe, because Alex has matured and finds her "place."
Now, in my humble opinion, the reader should read all three books in order.  Reading the books in order gives the reader a sense of all that is going on in Alex's life, the "whole" why she is doing it and what "it" all means.  I'm not trying to be ambiguous, I just don't want to give away the story.
This read has great action and suspense!  Noel Hynd never disappoints me in this arena . . . I love the words he uses to describe the sights, smells and nerve binding tensions!
Alex is on assignment and at times the reader wonders if she will make it.  The underworld of Central America is SO brutal.
A great christian suspense novel!  

  • Series: Cuban Trilogy, The
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310324556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310324553

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Crow's Call by Wanda Brunstetter

Book Description:  When Vernon King, his son, and son-in-law are involved in a terrible accident, three women are left to cope with their deaths, as they become the sole providers of the family they have left. The women’s only income must come from the family greenhouse, but someone seems to be trying to force them out of business.
Amy King has just lost her father and brother, and her mother needs her to help run the family’s greenhouse. It doesn’t seem fair to ask her to leave a job she loves, when there is still a sister and brother to help. But Sylvia is also grieving for her husband while left to raise three children, and Henry, just out of school, is saddled with all the jobs his father and older brother used to do. As Amy assumes her new role, she also asks Jared Riehl to put their courtship on hold. When things become even more stressful at the greenhouse, will Amy crumble under the pressure?

My Thoughts:  Oh.be.still.my.beating.heart!  The long awaited Amish mystery by Mrs. Wanda Brunstetter is finally here! The first book in the Amish Greenhouse Mysteries.
I love suspense/mysteries so when this book came in the mail I delved right into this story.  And what a story!
The cover of this book is interesting because it shows three things that are the main events in this story.  First the crow, then the flowers and thirdly, Amy King. 
Amy King is single but dating/courting when her precious father, brother and brother-in-law are killed.  After their deaths the women  of the family seem a little lost at what can be done to keep money coming in so they can all survive.  
No, this isn't a story about survival but about family ties, love and moving on in life when all seems lost. And the mystery of the greenhouse.
This is a GREAT read!  Don't miss it!

"I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review."

Title: The Crow's Call #1
By: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 320
Vendor: Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date: 2020

The Blue Cloak (True Colors) by Shannon McNear

Book Description:  Based on real events beginning in 1797 — Rachel Taylor lives a rather mundane existence at the way station her family runs along the Wilderness Road in Tennessee. She attends her friend’s wedding only to watch it dissolve in horror has the groom, Wiley Harpe, and his cousin become murderers on the run, who drag their families along. Declaring a “war on all humanity,” the Harpes won’t be stopped, and Ben Langford is on their trail to see if his own cousin was one of their latest victims. How many will die before peace can return to the frontier?


My Thoughts:  When you read a story that makes you completely unaware of anything that is going on around you...that, my friend, is quite a story!  The Blue Cloak is a page turner!
From a wedding to war!  Oh, how one never knows what a day will bring.
Poor Rachel Taylor she is just attending a wedding and then before the cake is served there's an all out war on humanity.  Actually a dangerous serial killer who wants to take a wife.  Literally...take a wife.
Shannon McNear takes us on a dangerous and suspenseful journey as Ben Langford goes on the hunt for Wiley Harpe and his cohorts.  
This story had me at page one and didn't let go until the very end.  
This is not a story for the faint of heart.  There is a descriptive scene that includes a lot blood and gore.  True crime with true colors.
The twists and turns has the reader tied in knots but what an ending!

"I received a complimentary copy of this book 
from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review."



WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

Roasted Baby Carrots

These are so good!  Recipe from Betty Crocker!

Ingredients

4
teaspoons vegetable oil
1
tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4
teaspoon garlic salt
1/8
teaspoon pepper
1
bag (16 ounces) plus 1 bag (8 ounces) baby-cut carrots (9 cups)
Directions

  • 1Heat oven to 425ºF. Spray rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, with cooking spray.
  • 2Mix all ingredients except carrots in large bowl. Add both bags of carrots; toss to coat. Spread carrots in pan.
  • 3Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender.

    Expert Tips

    Roasting carrots makes them even sweeter because while they cook, more of the carrot starches turn into sugar. Another plus- carrots are very high in vitamin A.

    Tuesday, February 25, 2020

    Betting on Hope (A Four of Hearts Ranch Romance) by Debra Clopton

    Book Description:  A bet gone wrong. A small town’s meddling. And a cowboy intent on saving his ranch.
    Maggie Hope is an advice columnist whose background leaves her with little advice to give . . . and it’s beginning to show. When Maggie fills in at an interview with champion horse trainer Tru Monahan, the on-camera chemistry between them is undeniable. Maggie’s bosses know this is the opportunity she's been looking for to launch her career—and their bank accounts. In order to save her column, Maggie takes Tru up on the bet that he can teach her to ride a quick-stepping cutting horse like any cowgirl, despite the fact that she has never been on a horse. And in the meantime, she can get the scoop on the man under the cowboy hat.
    Tru has been on the competition circuit for longer than he’d like, but he knows it's the only way he can afford to keep the Four of Hearts Ranch that means so much to his ailing grandfather. So when his sponsors see the opportunity for Tru’s fans to get to know the star on a more intimate level, he knows he must oblige. To his dismay, Maggie not only invades his small town of Wishing Springs, but she also invades his heart, and that is something he cannot let any woman do—for her own good.
    In Wishing Springs, Maggie finds what she has always been looking for: a community and a home. But when her past catches up to her, it threatens everything, even the tender hope that this town holds all of her heart’s desires.

    My Thoughts:  Oh.My.Goodness!  I was so excited when I received Debra Clopton's newest book, Betting On Hope, Book 1.  Debra Clopton writes funny, humorous, witty stories.  When I need a light read, that's also a fun read, I go to Debra Clopton's books.
    Betting On Hope is a play on words title.  I love puns . . . double meanings!
    In this read we meet Maggie Hope.  You.gotta.love. Maggie!  She is full of life and so funny!  She's an advice columnist and at the last minute she fills in to interview a champion horse trainer, Tru Monahan.  Well, Tru and Maggie have THAT chemistry!  And, of course, Maggie's boss sees this as an opportunity to help Maggie's career and create some cash for their pockets, too.
    For all the fun, there are some learning moments too.  Life has ups and downs.  And as Maggie finds out truth does come out.  But it's all in how one owns up to truth and mistakes that makes the out come good/bad or hard/easy.
    A fun western type story full of hope.




    • Series: A Four of Hearts Ranch Romance (Book 1)
    • Paperback: 320 pages
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1401690491
    • ISBN-13: 978-1401690496

    Monday, February 24, 2020

    Deadly Echoes (Finding Sanctuary 2) by Nancy Mehl


    Book Description:  After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller's life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last. She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school.

    Sarah's joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn't know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed. 

    As she learns more about Hannah's death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents' murder. Sarah enlists Paul's help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul's concern encourages Sarah's growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide--even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.


    My Thoughts:  I love books penned by Nancy Mehl.  And, of course, when there is a series I can hardly wait for the next book.
    In the small Mennonite town of Sanctuary Sarah is a high school teacher.  Sarah and her long lost sister, Hannah, have recently found each other.  Sarah  is fond of her sister and her eight-year-old niece.  Sarah soon learns that Hannah may have found leads and why their parents were killed. 
    Who doesn't want Hannah and Sarah to find out why their parent were killed and what links will they go to keep this a secret?
    Quite a suspenseful read.  
    Many leads and it seems that maybe, just maybe, Sarah needs to be careful of the men she associates with?  
    Nice romance...good and clean.
    I loved this read and hope you will too!



    • Series: Finding Sanctuary (Book 2)
    • Paperback: 336 pages
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0764211587
    • ISBN-13: 978-0764211584

    Saturday, February 22, 2020

    Amish Quilts: Giftable Inspiration along with Quilting Tips by Wanda E. Brunstetter (Author), Richard Brunstetter (Author), Rebecca Germany (Compiler)

    Book Description:  Enjoy a trip into the Amish quilting tradition through beautiful full-color pictures by Richard Brunstetter. Taken in Amish communities and homes throughout the United States, his pictures offer a visual celebration of the quilting traditions of plain peoples, while author Wanda E. Brunstetter offers her insights into the roles quilts play in family life. Also included are tips for those who want to make their own heirloom quilts.

    My Thoughts:   I love quilts! And to be honest I've never received or bought an Amish made quilt.  I buy quilts from chain stores and they are pretty but in this book Amish Quilts:  Giftable Inspiration along with Quilting Tips it's easy to see why people want to buy a homemade quilt hand stitched by an Amish woman...the quilts are fantabulous!
    One of my favorites is the "Rose of Sharon" quilt.
    In this beautiful, full color book not only are the pictures lovely but on the left page across from the picture of the quilt, there is a verse and then a quilting tip.
    On the page of the "I Am the Rose Sharon" picture the following page has the verse from Proverbs 31:13 and the quilting tip is:  To create a warm blanket, substitute a length of wool for the usual polyfill as the middle layer of the quilt.
    This is not a huge book, just 8 x 0.6 x 8 inches.  So, it makes a wonderful coffee table book and a GREAT gift for that quilt lover!
    What a lovely book!


    • Hardcover: 128 pages
    • Publisher: Shiloh Run Press (September 1, 2016)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1634096746
    • ISBN-13: 978-1634096744



    Wednesday, February 19, 2020

    WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

     LOVE , LOVE this stuff!  

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Bark



    YIELD: 1 8x10 piece
      
    COOK TIME: 15 minutes
       
    TOTAL TIME: 1 hour

    ingredients:

    • 8 ounces good quality, dark chocolate (70-80%), very finely chopped
    • 6 ounces peanut butter chips 
    • 1 cup mini peanut butter cups 

    directions:

    1. In a microwave, double boiler, or chocolate melter, gently melt chocolate on the lowest possible heat setting. Stir regularly, removing from heat as needed. The goal here is to keep the temperature under 90 degrees, above which the chocolate will lose its temper. Be patient, keep stirring, and even with on and off low heat the chocolate will melt eventually.
    2. Meanwhile, melt peanut butter chips in a microwave safe bowl by microwaving on medium power in 20 second intervals, stirring until melted. If this mixture seems too thick, stir in a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil or shortening to thin it out.
    3. Pour melted chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread into an even layer (it will not cover the entire pan, just spread it until it's as thick as you want your final bark to be). Dollop lines of melted peanut butter chips on top of chocolate. Run a toothpick or skewer through the two kinds of chocolate in a circular motion to form decorative swirls.
    4. Sprinkle evenly with peanut butter cups. Let sit, uncovered at room temperature, for 1 to 2 hours or until set. Break or cut into serving size pieces.
    *Note that if you melt your chocolate to a higher temperature or it somehow loses its temper, the chocolate may not set up completely. In which case, just refrigerate it until firm. While the bark is still perfectly edible, it is not as stable at room temperature and will need to be refrigerated.

    Tuesday, February 18, 2020

    Precious Moments God Watches Over Me

    Book Description:  Share all the ways that God watches over us with your little one!
    Illustrated with the adorable Precious Moments art, this sweet little book features rhyming text about all the ways God watches over His children, helping little ones to feel safe and loved. The book takes a child through all the things that happen in a day, accompanied with a prayer, and closes with a sweet poem that reminds children that God is always watching over us, even when we sleep. Complete with scriptures and prayers, this book will be a wonderful addition to every family’s library.
    My Thoughts: I have always loved Precious Moments books and figurines.  I love the sweetness of Sam Butcher's drawings.  Those sweet faces, big eyes, and always a kind smile make for a nice picture!
    This is a lovely somewhat small board book.  Just right for small hands to hold.  And since it's made out of "board," that song sturdy "stuff" little hands can't hurt it nor can stains since it washes well.
    Of course, this is a sweet book for little ones so the words all rhyme.  A great book for the beginning, just learning about words kind.of.read!
    The pictures/illustrations are so cute and will hold the interest of about any small child (or the child in us all).  
    I'm an adult and I love this book!  This book also makes a great gift!

    • Age Range: 1 - 4 years
    • Series: Precious Moments
    • Board book: 32 pages
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0718011082
    • ISBN-13: 978-0718011086
    • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.1 x 1 inches

    Monday, February 17, 2020

    A Heart's Disguise (Journey of the Heart, Book 1) by Colleen Coble

    Book Description:  In the celebratory mood of the recently-ended Civil War, Sarah discovers her betrothed has been keeping a devastating secret.
    While the tiny town of Wabash, Indiana, celebrates the end of the fighting,            Sara Montgomery attends the parties, but inside she’s fighting a deep sadness. The love of Sara’s life, Rand Campbell, didn’t come back from the front.
    So her brother and ailing father persuade her to pledge herself to another man—despite her misgivings. When Sarah finds out that Rand is in fact alive—and that her fiancé Ben Croftner knew it—she indignantly breaks off their engagement.
    Croftner doesn’t take rejection lightly—and a single woman with a sick father makes an easy target. He abducts Sarah, his intentions anything but honorable. Then Rand comes to her aid . . . only to reveal that he has been posted at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and asks her to go with him as his wife.
    Will Sarah leave her dying father’s side for the only man she’s ever loved? And what plans are forming in the jealous heart of Ben Croftner?

    My Thoughts: A Heart's Disguise is a short book, just 96 pages but it doesn't end there . . . this is book one in a series.  It was also part of a larger book and is now being made into a series.  Some people may not like a series but,  since I have not read the "larger" book, I am looking forward to the series. 
    This book takes place at the end of the Civil War and Sarah Montgomery is ever so glad that the war is over but she is quite sad her love, Rand Campbell, did not return from the war.
    Her father is ill.  So her ailing father and her brother "talk" her not becoming engaged to another man, Ben Croftner.  Well, soon enough, Sarah finds out that her beloved is a live and that her now fiancee, Ben, knew this all along!  Indignant! and feeling distrustful!  Sarah breaks off her engagement.  But Ben is not a good man and does not take rejection well!  
    Sarah becomes an easy target and Ben abducts her!  Rand comes to save her.
    But how will Ben take this turn of events and can Sarah leave her dying father to go with the love of her life?
    A light historical read!  Loved this read! And can't wait to read the other books in this series! 

    • Series: Journey of the Heart (Book 1)
    • Paperback: 128 pages
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0529103419
    • ISBN-13: 978-0529103413

    Sunday, February 16, 2020

    An Amish Picnic: Four Stories By: Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Kathleen Fuller, Vannetta Chapman

    Book Description:  Four Authors, four great stories.


    My Thoughts:  An Amish Picnic!  Just imagine all the fantastic food!
    Well and the people too.
    All of my favorite authors in one fantastic book with four short stories/novellas:

    Baskets of Sunshine by Amy Clipston:  Despite a significant difference in age Phoebe wants to know more about her father's employee, Kevin.  He seems like such a great guy.

    Candlelight Sweethearts by Kelly Irvin:  This is a fun story about Esther and Jasper.  Lots of thunder and lightning.  

    Reeling in Love by Kathleen Fuller:  Nina and Ira are fishing buddies but even fishing buddies need the help of match makers for love to bloom.

    Picnics and Prospects by Vannetta Chapman:  This is an interesting short story about Faith and David.  They build tiny houses and when they find a packet of letters from the 70's they take time to restructure.

    All of the stories are fantastic!

    *This book was provided for Influencers of Vannetta Chapman*

    Title: An Amish Picnic: Four Stories
    By: Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Kathleen Fuller, Vannetta Chapman
    Format: Paperback
    Number of Pages: 393
    Vendor: Zondervan
    Publication Date: 2020

    Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

    Book Description:  Three years ago, a collision between a fast-moving freight train and a school bus full of kids led to devastation and grief on an unimaginable scale. But a fresh clue leads San Antonio police detective Amara Alvarez to the unlikely conclusion that one of the children may still be alive. If she's correct, everything law enforcement believes about the accident is a lie.
    With time running out, Amara must convince others--and herself--that despite all evidence to the contrary, the boy lives. And she will do everything in her power to bring him home.


    My Thoughts:  This is an interesting read.  And because I live close to Athens, Texas where a real life bus with school children was hit by a train this book seemed to jump off the pages for me.
    But, hopefully, that is her the similarities in this story end because this page turner is quite a suspenseful read.
    Of course when there is a full fledged detective, Amara Alvarez, on the case and the begins to come up against one lie after another---the suspense begins to build.
    How many people will be hurt?  How many children used for someone else's gain?  Can Amara figure out the cause before it's too late.
    This is one of those mystery/suspense stories that will leave you thinking long after the story comes to an end.


    *This book was provided for review by Revell*

    • Paperback: 400 pages
    • Publisher: Revell (February 4, 2020)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0800736508
    • ISBN-13: 978-0800736507

    Wednesday, February 12, 2020

    WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

    A very non nutritional Valentine's Treat!


    Oreo Bomb Cake:
    1. Dip oreos milk
    2. Line pan with them
    3. Cover in Cool Whip.
    4. Layer and repeat.
    5. Consume



    Tuesday, February 11, 2020

    The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

    Book Description:  Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister. 


    Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play...

    The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.

    This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances--and her dowry--Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house.

    Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past. 

    As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?


    My Thoughts: Yay!  It's been a little while since Julie Klassen had a new read out!  And I was so excited to receive The Secret of Pembroke Park.
    I'm not always a fan of historical reads...for me they tend to be a bit boring/slow moving but I enjoy Julie Klassen's books.  
    However, The Secret of Pembroke Park is her BEST book, yet!
    Abigail and her father are at the point where there is not enough money...financial ruin seems imminent!  But they are offered the opportunity to live in the somewhat abandoned home of relatives...this is where the mystery begins.  Why did the family who lived there before have to leave without taking their possessions? Abigail wants to find out why? Also, why has the manor been locked up for 18 years and now she and her father can live here?  And then, Abigail begins to receive journal pages in the mail and a horrifying mystery begins to unravel...and it seems that only Abigail has the fortitude to unravel this mystery and face the truth!  
    Abigail also feels that she is the not attractive...she feels that her younger sister is prettier.  She feels that she may live the life of spinsterhood because she is not attractive.  I loved how Abigail's character is brought out more than her beauty. . . this is true beauty!
    This book reminded me a little of Jane Eyre. 
    A great read!




    • Paperback: 464 pages
    • ISBN-10: 0764210718
    • ISBN-13: 978-0764210716

    Monday, February 10, 2020

    All's Fair in LOVE and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

    Book Description:  Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more. 
    Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.
    At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie’s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.
    But when Lucas Brannen, Kat’s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.
    As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself—her—is suddenly in danger of slipping away.
    The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kat’s senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.

    My Thoughts:  Betsy St. Amant pens a "sweet read" in All's Fair in LOVE and Cupcakes!  
    I admit that I chose this book based on the title and the picture (shameful, I know!)  But I love cupcakes and was caught up in the reality cupcake bake off.
    I like Kat she is slowly coming into her "own."  And then there's Lucas...oh! Lucas!  
    Lucas sees Kat's potential and he signs her up for a reality bake off show.  Kat is not sure about going on national TV for a bake off.  But she wants something more in her life than plain chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  {This seems to be the catalyst of the story.}
    The relationship between Kat and Lucas was, at times, a little like plain vanilla . . . they're friends but not sure if they should love each other.  The romance part of this story was clean and best described as young love.  Kat and Lucas like each other and are the best of friends BUT they are in love and can't seem to get the love part out. 
    The best part of this story are the cupcakes and bakeoff.  
    A fun, light read!

    • Paperback: 320 pages
    • ISBN-10: 031033845X
    • ISBN-13: 978-0310338451
    • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches



    Wednesday, February 5, 2020

    WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

    Another great soup recipe from Pinterest!
    Ingredients:
    12 ounces apple smoked bacon, chopped into small pieces
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 onion, small dice
    2 carrots, small dice
    2 celery stalks, small dice
    4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
    2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • Pinch or two sea salt
    ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
    6 (15 ounce) cans small white beans (or navy beans), drained and rinsed
    4 cups chicken stock, hot
    2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
    1 teaspoon lemon zest
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    Preparation:  Place a large Dutch oven, or heavy bottom pot, over medium-high heat; once the pot is hot, add in a small drizzle of olive oil, and the chopped bacon; crisp the bacon completely until nice and brown, then remove with a slotted spoon, drain it on some paper towel, and set it aside for a moment; reserve about 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, and set that aside for a moment, as well; wipe out the pot, and return it to medium-high heat.
    Next, add back into the pot the bacon fat, along with the olive oil and the butter, and allow them to melt together; once melted and hot, add in the diced onion, carrots and celery, and allow them to soften and saute for about 5 minutes; next, add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in about 2/3 of the reserved, crisped bacon, as well as the Italian seasoning, the sea salt and the pepper, along with the white beans, and stir to combine; next, add in the hot chicken stock, stir, and allow the stew to gently simmer for about 40-45 minutes, partially covered with lid; about half way through the cooking process, mash the beans a little bit with the  back of your spoon, or with a potato masher, to break up the beans a little bit and release their natural starch to thicken the stew; after about 40 minutes, turn the heat off and finish the stew by adding in the chopped parsley, the lemon zest and the lemon juice; serve the stew with some nice, crusty bread to dip, and garnish with some of the remaining crisped bacon.
    (Serves about 6)