Tuesday Treats: Mexican Beef and Rice Casserole

Sometimes, you just need to stretch things. Or, you’re really hungry. And you’re craving spicy but not… I totally think this fits all those bills.

Total time: 1 Hr 15 Min
Prep: 25 Min
Cook: 50 Min
Healthy Living: Make Mexican Beef & Rice Casserole tonight: a tasty way to make a pound of ground beef serve eight. Mexican Beef & Rice Casserole also freezes well!

What You Need
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1-1/2 cups KRAFT Mexican Style Shredded Four Cheese with a TOUCH OF PHILADELPHIA, divided
1 pkg. (1 oz.) TACO BELL® Taco Seasoning Mix
1 cup long-grain white rice, uncooked
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, peas)
1 can (14.5 oz.) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup TACO BELL® Thick & Chunky Medium Salsa
1 cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth

Let’s Make It
1 – Heat oven to 375ºF.
2 – Brown meat in large nonstick skillet; drain. Return meat to skillet.
3 – Reserve 1 cup cheese for later use. Add remaining cheese and all remaining ingredients to meat; mix well.
4 – Spoon into 13×9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; cover.
5 – Bake 40 to 50 min. or until rice is tender. Top with reserved cheese; bake, uncovered, 5 min. or until melted.

Kitchen Tips
Tip 1 – Special Extra: Garnish this hearty casserole with chopped fresh tomatoes and cilantro before serving.

Tip 2 – Substitute: Prepare using KRAFT Mexican Style 2% Milk Finely Shredded Four Cheese.

You know the routine. CLICK HERE to get the full recipe/nutrition details over at Food & Family. As much as my heroines like the easy peasy, so do my alpha dudes, because sometimes, they have to feed themselves and not all of them are down with a constant diet of fast food. Would you like to guess who admitted he’s made this? The book cover might be a clue for those of you familiar with my Nightriders MC series. If you haven’t already, come on over to the dark side of the Moonstruck world and you can start with Elijah “Easy” Cross and Samantha “Sam” Prescott in NIGHT SHIFT, book 1 in the series. Sam arrives to collect her neice and nephew, who are under Nightriderprotection. She comes loaded for bear, only to butt heads with the sexy Wolf shifter. You can read it for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription or buy it for $2.99. It’s also available in print. Just click on the cover to zip on over to Amazon. Easy wants to know if y’all like it mild, spicy, or hot?

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Midway Monday

Summer is almost here. How can that be? *flail* So, there was week and a weekend. And rain. Storms. Critters. Cute critters.I really need to take more video and pics of Jake and Loki. Loki makes me laugh and Jake is just the perfect gentleman–though a little sly when he “absconds” with the cats’ bowls and licks the leftover food out of them. He then either hides the CLEAN bowl on his bed, or he leaves out in the doorway to the family room so I can find it. Silly doggo. Loki does the “Halloween Cat Prance” when he’s not zooming from one hiding place to another. Silly kitteh.

Between weather, meetings, and a recording thing I’m doing, the weekend was pretty much a bust where writing was concerned. I’m almost to stay-up-all-night panic mode on this puppy. Tomorrow morning is a quick run to Walmart, leaving Jake at home. He LOVES to ride in the car and trying to sneak out into the garage without him is an adventure. But it’s to hot for car critters so he has to stay home. Then it’s BICHOK until I get at least two chapters done, even if the writing is complete drivel. Gah! I’m so unhappy with myself at the moment. Okay. Enough.

Dude! High speed Saturday night on Live PD made the local news because, OHP y’all! It wasn’t exactly our neck of the woods but on roads that we drive frequently.

I finished up my reread of Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series just in time for the library to drop Patricia Brigg’s STORM CURSED on me. I started out like #81 on the hold list for that sucker, with more people waiting behind me. I slotted it in to listen so I could get it returned to the library for the next patron. All I can say about it is: miniature zombie goats. I’m back to Psy-Changelings now and just over halfway in it. So far, so good. There’s a deep, dark nasty presence that a few people are aware of but have no clue who this person is. The identity might or might not be revealed in this book. Nalini is really good when it comes to extending some threads while sewing up others and giving readers a satisfying read.

So…my life is pretty boring–if frantic. Did I mention that I HATE technology? Of course, it hates me too, so I guess we’re even. 😛 Anyway, I have many words to go before I can lay my head down to sleep tonight. Hope y’all had a great weekend and that life (and technology) is treting you good. 😉

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Friday Sinema: God’s Country

I think I found one of my theme songs for my current Red Dirt Royalty book. This is a song Deacon Tate might sing. And want in on a little secret? Deacon is half Blake Shelton and half Garth Brooks. This is Cooper’s story though, and his storm chaser is going to lead him into all the weather Oklahoma can throw at them. Have a great weekend.

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Thursday Thoughts: Universal Furry Children

I’m always a little bit in awe of how (and why) the emails I get from tut.com relaying “messages from the Universe” sometimes hit so very close to home. This one arrived last week in the midst of mourning Cooper and welcoming Jake and Loki into the family. Because, yeah. Fuzzy critters are very much furry children around here. I remember thinking and speculating about the rainbow bridge and whether or not those furbabies who’ve passed will be there when I take the final journey. Lo and behold, the Universe answered me not a week later.

We just want you to know, Silver, that those animals you’ve known, who’ve moved beyond the veils of time and space:

Were forever changed by your love,
are all alive and well, and
they’ve banded together to ask me a favor…

that I make sure you get this message.

Bark, meow, chirp, ergle –
The Universe
© http://www.tut.com ®

Forever changed, Silver… you have that effect on people, too. And trees. Shrubbery’s completely different, though.

I got the message, Big U. Thank you. And I’ll see what I can do about the shrubbery. 😉 And thanks for the new additions to the family. They are loved.

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Wednesday Words: CATtitude

Today’s #1lineWed THEME is all about the CATtitude, whether it be a CATastrophe, CAT nap, CAT burglar, CAT got your tongue, or a CAT’s relationship with curiosity, today is CAT Day. In my current Red Dirt Royalty WIP, Cooper goes eye to eye with a cat who will be named Lucifer because…reasons. 😆 This is from the 2nd chapter, during a Cat 4/5 hurrican in Beaumont, Texas.
****
A brutal 18 hours later, Coop and Gil were headed back to the rescue command post set up for this part of town. Exhausted, hungry, and desperately craving dry clothes, he was lost in his thoughts.

“Hello?”

Was that a voice? He cut the engine and let the boat drift.

“Somebody out d’ere?” Gil called.

“Help! Over here.” A husky—and vaguely familiar—female voice that held only a hint of panic called out.

As the boat drifted toward the sound, Coop saw a light waving frantically. “We be comin’, cher!” the toolpusher yelled.

Coop started the engine but didn’t gun the throttle. In the dark, they couldn’t see what lay hidden beneath the murky water. He steeree propeller and discovered an extended cab pickup with only six inches of window and roof showd gingerly around a corner hoping there wasn’t a submerged street sign that would take out Thing above the rising water. Three women, four children, two dogs, and a drenched cat huddled on top.

The woman with the flashlight, and familiar shape, shouted instructions. “My truck is in the middle of the street. To my right, there’s a compact car submerged. My left should have a space clear enough to bring your boat alongside.”

All traces of panic fled as she took charge. Coop pressed his lips together to hide his grin. She wore a yellow slicker with reflective tape and as she turned, he caught the emblem and writing on the back. His storm chaser. Her wet hair was pulled back in a ponytail but long tendrils had worked free to plaster against her cheeks. He recognized the jut of her chin, the rounded cheeks, and the determined set of her shoulders. He liked women with attitude and Britt had it in spades.

Britt handed her flashlight to a boy of about twelve and dropped to one knee to help guide the boat. Willing hands helped the children and dogs into the boat, then the women. Only the cat refused to move. While Gil handed out blankets, Coop considered the situation. He was not a cat guy but this thing was big, black, with glowing yellow eyes and it looked like it could take on a gator. He glared at the cat. It glared back.

“I can leave you for gator bait, or you can get in the boat,” he said, challenging the cat. “Your choice.”

The storm chaser snorted. “You really think talking like that to cat is going to work?”
“You’re more than welcome to reach over and grab the thing, weather girl,” he shot back. “Last chance, cat.” He waited a few seconds then placed his hand on the truck’s roof and pushed off. Before he could react, the cat was climbing his arm like it was a tree, then scurrying down his back to settle in the space beneath his seat at the back of the boat.

“Huh,” Britt said. “I’m impressed.”

So was he, even more than the previous night when she’d fallen asleep in his arms.
****
So, do you have any cat shennanigans in your WIP? Do you like cats? Have a favorite cat book? Share!

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Tuesday Treats: Chocolate Chunk Magic Cookie Bars

Sometimes, a girl just needs chocolate. And nuts. In a hurry. My go-to stress sweet treat is this super-yummy blend of some of my favorite flavors.

Total Time: 45 Min
Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 30 Min

Discover a dessert the whole crowd will love when you make these Chocolate Chunk Magic Cookies Bars. These Chocolate Chunk Magic Cookie Bars come with pecans and coconut for deliciously sweet and nutty flavor.

What You Need
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 pkg. (4 oz. each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1-1/3 cups BAKER’S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut
1 cup chopped PLANTERS Pecans

Let’s Make It
1 – Heat oven to 350°F.
2 – Combine graham crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of 13×9-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.
3 – Pour condensed milk over crust; top with layers of remaining ingredients. Press nuts lightly into coconut layer.
4 – Bake 30 min. or until lightly browned. Immediately run knife around edge of pan to loosen dessert from sides of pan. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Kitchen Tips
Tip 1 – Size Wise: Balance out your food choices throughout the day so you can enjoy one of these bars. (This is only practical if you aren’t binge eating. Just sayin’…)

Tip 2 – Gift-It Idea: Layer bars in decorative holiday containers, wrap with ribbon and top with a bow. Makes gift-giving simple. (And this only works if you double the batch so you get to binge and still have bars left over for the gift. 😉 )

CLICK HERE to get all the nutritional detales from My Food and Family. Speaking of a girl needing chocolate STAT, a perfect example is any one of my Moonstruck heroines. When dealing with Wolves, they could all use this quick chocolate fix. However, arson investigator Leigh Daniels has all the reasons to binge because her hero? Brian “Smoke” Jenner is an arsonist. What can go wrong there, right? You can read their story, NIGHT FIRE, book 3 in the Nightriders series, for free with Kindle Unlimited or buy it from Amazon for $2.99. Just click on the cover pic or the title to hop on over there. If you haven’t read the book, you know you want to….

What about y’all? What’s your comfort food?

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Blow Off Monday

So, there was a weekend. And a last week. And a this week. My brain doesn’t want to switch on. I blew off Sunday and setting up the blog for today. And I slept late this morning. Anytime I make it until 7:00 a.m., that’s sleeping in for me. Stuff happened last week. Stuff happened this weekend. Stuff will happen this week.

As y’all know, we now have four furry children–two cats, one each, and two part Newfs, both male. Adidas and I are now outnumbered. Good thing we are the alpha females around this joint. 😉 Jake is settled–for the most part. He’s still trying to figure out Boone, and vice-versa. He won’t come into my office when Boone is in here. I hope that changes much sooner than later. He’s learned that he is welcome on my bed and takes advantage. 🙂 Loki is a ninja cat. Woke up this morning to find he’d escaped the kitten nursery and was running amok. This would be fine if he’d consistently use the litter box. We’ve MacGuyvered things hoping to keep him contained until he’s potty trained. Deeders has moved from the end of the couch/under the Christmas tree (which we never seem to take down or move 🙄 ) to under my bed. Jake ignores her, except to steal her food bowl. He very gently picks it up, carries it to his bed in the dining room (his preferred place to sleep–wood floor, air vents and the ceiling fan), licks it clean and then buries it in the blanket we through on top of the doggy bed. Jake LOVES to ride in the car. We gook him to Stormageddon’s T-ball game. You’d think he was a service dog he was so good. He’s been a perfect gentleman in our house. I still can’t believe four owners either abandoned or returned him. Grrrr 😡 No matter. Jake is home now and very much loved!

Writing? What’s that?

Not a good weekend for baseball. 😦

LIVE PD helps keep me sane.

Weather was crazy. I spent most of Thursday without power. Sunday morning, we had monsoon rains again, and lost power for a little, hense my blowing off everything. I napped. A lot. I’m so tired of being tired.

Wending my way through Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series. I’m almost up to WOLF RAIN, the new release. I ❤ this series.

The house across the street went on the market last week and the sold sign is already up. I'll be curious as to the new neighbors.

There was something else I was going to comment on but for the life of me, I can't remember. If the thought comes back, I'll write it down. In the meantime, I have lots of work to do. *sigh* How was your weekend?

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