Friday, February 28, 2020

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Lucky One" by Lori Rader-Day, Served with a Recipe for (Not-From-A-Box) Macaroni and Cheese

Happy Aloha Friday! Once again, my week has been crazy and I am more than ready for the weekend. To kick it off, I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Lucky One, a mystery/suspense novel by Lori Rader-Day. Accompanying my review is a recipe for homemade Mac 'n Cheese with Greek Yogurt in the sauce, to make it just slightly healthier. ;-)

Publisher's Blurb:

Most people who go missing are never found. But Alice was the lucky one…
As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community, but against the odds, her policeman father tracked her down within twenty-four hours and rescued her from harm. In the aftermath of the crime, her family decided to move to Chicago and close the door on that horrible day.
Yet Alice hasn’t forgotten. She devotes her spare time volunteering for a website called The Doe Pages scrolling through pages upon pages of unidentified people, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. The post is deleted as quickly as it appeared, leaving Alice with more questions than answers.
Embarking on a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to connect the dots and find her kidnapper before he hurts someone else. Then Alice crosses paths with Merrily Cruz, another woman who’s been hunting for answers of her own. Together, they begin to unravel a dark, painful web of lies that will change what they thought they knew—and could cost them everything.

Twisting and compulsively readable, The Lucky One explores the lies we tell ourselves to feel safe.
Paperback: 400 pages 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (February 18, 2020)
My Review:

The Lucky One is my first book from Lori Rader-Day and I was pulled in by the premise and the fact that I am always fascinated by missing person cases and the non-law enforcement, civilians who try to solve them. The book starts with Alice who speeds much of her time on The doe Pages, a website devoted to the often cold cases of missing persons. A reason she wants to reunite people with their loved ones is that she was taken as a toddler but was tracked down and returned to her family--"the lucky one." On the website she sees the face of the man who kidnapped her, recently reported missing, and she and a couple of friends she has met through the network start searching for answers. Merrily is the young woman who reported her sorta stepfather missing on the site and soon Alice and Merrily's paths have crossed and they are looking for a man who impacted both of their lives. I don't want to go into any more details due to spoilers but I will say that many twists and turns kept me guessing throughout the book, and I guessed mostly wrong up until the very end--and I like when an author can make me doubt my crime-solving skills! ;-) It did take me about a third of the book or so to truly get into the story and the characters--at first I didn't like either Alice or Merrily, or any of the characters all that much, and I felt that it was taking too long to get to the action and suspense. What pulled me along were the twists and turns the story was taking--I really needed to know how it was all going to end up and I am glad I rode it out, because once the pace picked up, I was fully into it and didn't want to put it down. If you like a dark and twisty thriller, give this one a try. I will definitely be looking for more books from Rader-Day. 


Author Notes: Lori Rader-Day is the author of Under a Dark SkyThe Day I DiedLittle Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. She is a three-time Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee, winning the award in 2016. Lori lives in Chicago.
Find out more about Lori at her website, and connect with her on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Food Inspiration:

There was not a lot of tempting food in the book but there were some mentions like soup, coffee, chocolate cake, Prosecco, little umbrella drinks, bacon, white wine, a Chicago hot dog, milkshakes, PBJ sandwiches with the crusts caught off that a construction worker brings for lunch, curry, cheeseburgers, corn, McDonald's fries and Coke, cereal, tea, pancakes with a bacon smile, beer, carrots in a garden, cake and lemonade. 

For my bookish dish, Alice is thinking about the night she was going to spend reviewing details on the missing persons website she volunteers with and macaroni and cheese from a box.

I was not that inspired by the food in the book but I am always up for macaroni and cheese and I had seen a recipe that incorporated Greek yogurt in an email that I wanted to try. Although Alice's macaroni and cheese was from a box, a good easy stove top version is quick and easy easy enough for a weeknight dinner.

Greek Yogurt Mac 'n Cheese 
Slightly Adapted from 
(Makes 8 Servings)

1 medium Spanish onion (diced)
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup flour
2 cups Stonyfield Organic milk
1 tsp Tabasco or similar
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock (optional)
3/4 lb sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/4 lb Jack cheese or other favorite (shredded)
2 cups Stonyfield Organic Greek plain Whole Milk yogurt
16 oz pasta macaroni (cooked per instructions and set aside)
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup  grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and white pepper (to taste)

In a sauce pan, melt butter slowly and add diced onions and saute lightly for about 2 minutes. Strain onions out (you can discard them now) and return butter to pan. 

Add olive oil and flour and whisk until fully combined. Add milk 1 cup at a time and whisk to work out any lumps. Bring to simmer. Add spices and gently fold in cheeses then set aside to cool slightly. Once slightly cooled, add in yogurt one cup at a time.

Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat. Garnish with toasted bread crumbs and Parmesan before serving.

Notes/Results: A tasty and easy macaroni and cheese. It's maybe not quite as cheesy as some mac 'n cheeses I have made but it's plenty creamy and there is an appealing tang to it from the Greek yogurt. I confess that my store did not carry Stonyfield yogurt so I used another brand--although I did use the milk. I definitely suggest buying the sharpest cheddar you have and topping it with the Parmesan and adding the ground mustard, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to pump up the flavor. I bought seasoned panko for the top--another good idea for the crunchy bits. I happily ate a bowl for dinner and it was even better for lunch the next day. I would happily make it again.

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Lucky One" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Simple Thai Noodle Soup: Curry Goodness for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

We are celebrating the curries of the world at I Heart Cooking Clubs and I was craving That yellow curry--one of my very favorite curries. Looking online, I found Nigel Slater's Simple Thai Noodle Soup, and it looked perfectly easy and delicious.

I didn't find a need to change up the recipe except that I did add just a touch of agave to bring a sweetness to round out the spice and added lime juice.

Simple Thai Noodle Soup
Slightly Adapted from Nigel Slater via
(Serves 2)

1 good knob fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1-2 red chillies, seeds removed (optional), roughly chopped
1-2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, roughly chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 handful fresh coriander, a few sprigs reserved and chopped
a glug or two vegetable oil
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1-2 pinches ground turmeric
small jug vegetable stock
a couple of handfuls rice noodles
1 x 400ml/14fl oz can coconut milk
1 large handful raw, peeled tiger prawns (the shells and heads can be reserved for making stock in another recipe)
a few splashes Thai fish sauce, to taste

Blend the ginger, chilli, lemongrass, garlic and coriander in a food processor until quite finely chopped, adding a little vegetable oil if the paste is too dry.

Add the paste to a large shallow pan and cook for a few minutes to release the aromas, stirring frequently. Roughly crush some coriander seeds with a pestle and mortar and add to the paste with a pinch or two of turmeric and the vegetable stock and simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, pour some boiling water over the rice noodles in a bowl and let them sit until they have softened, about 4-5 minutes, then drain and set aside.

To soften the heat of the sauce, add the coconut milk to the pan and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes while you devein the prawns by cutting along the back of the prawn with a small sharp knife and removing the black 'thread' using the point of the knife. Add the prawns to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until pink and tender, finishing off with splashes of Thai fish sauce, to taste, and more chopped fresh coriander, to your taste.

To serve, divide the drained noodles between two bowls and ladle over the aromatic soup with the prawns and serve straightaway. Chicken, scallops or mushrooms are a great alternative to the prawns.

Notes/Results: Simple and satisfying, this is a good soup as is and would make a nice base for more vegetables. I made the curry pasta in my blender and it was quick and easy. Once you have the components together, this soup comes together in a matter of minutes--making it a perfect and money-saving alternative to Thai take-out. I will happily make it again.

Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs for The Curry Trail! theme. 

Let's see what is going on in the Souper Sundays kitchen:

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brought a classic Vegetable Soup and said, "This is an old recipe originating with my grandmother. She passed it on to my mother who made copious quantities and shared with both sets of grandparents and my Uncle Lew. Everyone loved it and I still do love it today. I make it the same way and my family enjoys it too. Fresh veggies and marrow bones make the difference I think.

Judee of Gluten Free A - Z Blog shared Persian Roasted Eggplant Soup saying,"Is this eggplant soup recipe of Persian or Lebanese origin? I'm not sure, but it's been in our family for many years. It's simple, delicious, and usually a crowd pleaser. We make it two ways: one with just roasted vegetables and the other way we add chickpeas after blending." 

Finally from here at Kahakai Kitchen, I made a tasty Potato Salad, jazzed up with a few of my favorite ingredients--capers, cornichons, and sweety drop peppers from the olive bar at my local grocery. It was excellent and was the perfect fix for another recent craving. ;-)

Thank you Tina and Judee for joining me this week!

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Ghosts of the Missing" by Kathleen Donohoe, Served with a Recipe for Potato Salad

Happy Aloha Friday! it's been a long week with the first few days of the week sending off house guests and a busy work week. I am looking forward to the weekend and kicking it off with being today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Ghosts of the Missing, a new novel by Kathleen Donohoe. Accompanying my review, is a recipe for potato salad, somewhat inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

In the vein of The Lovely Bones and The Little Friend, Ghosts of the Missing follows the mysterious disappearance of a twelve-year-old girl during a town parade and the reverberations of this tragedy throughout the town.

On Saturday, October 28, 1995, a girl vanished. She was not a child particularly prized in town…When questioned by reporters, those who’d known Rowan described her as ‘quiet’ and ‘loner’ and ‘shy’ and even ‘awkward.’ Words for pity.

Culleton, New York has a long history—of writers, of artists, and of unsolved mysteries. It’s where Adair grew up before she moved to Brooklyn to try to make it as an artist. But after years away from her hometown and little to show for it, Adair decides to return. She moves back in to Moye House, the old mansion, and current writer’s retreat, imbued with her family’s legacy.

Ciaran is a writer staying at Moye House in the hopes of finally solving the mystery of what happened to Rowan Kinnane—his sister, and Adair’s childhood best friend. As the two begin investigating, secrets long buried rise to the surface, complicating their sense of themselves and their understanding of what happened on that fateful day.

With her “knack for capturing heartbreaking moments with a gripping simplicity” (Village Voice), Kathleen Donohoe lures us into a haunting world of secrets and obsessions and shows just how far people will go in search of the truth.

Paperback: 320 pages  
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (February 11, 2020)

My Review:

I went into this book drawn by the publisher's blurb and comparisons to The Lovely Bones, and the mystery tag. It wasn't quite what I expected going into it, there is a mystery but it proves to be more atmospheric and tragic than suspenseful. It's a beautifully written story that meanders along and ties in Irish folklore with a more modern disappearance of a twelve-year-old girl (Rowan) in 1995 and then goes back and forth, mostly between that time and 2010 when her best friend (Adair) comes back to the small town of Culleton, New York and her home there--Moye House, a writer's retreat--wanting to regroup and to find out what happened to Rowan. There are family curses, many family secrets, and characters from both past and present to understand and unwind. Reading it reminded me of trying to put together a puzzle on a lazy afternoon; trying different pieces to see how they fit together, and having the picture slowly unfold. The prose and pacing lean more to literary fiction than mystery, so if you want the thrills, look in another direction but if you want a misty, almost fairy tale vibe, it's a lovely read.


Author Notes: KATHLEEN DONOHOE is the author of Ashes of Fiery Weather. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Recorder, New York Stories, and Washington Square Review. She serves on the Board of Irish American Writers & Artists. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

Find out more about Kathleen at her website, and connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.


Food Inspiration:

There was very little food and therefore food inspiration in the book but mentions of food and drink did include red berries (rowan berries), wine, Campbell's tomato soup, tea, roast beef sandwiches and potato salad, beer, coffee, pumpkin carving and bobbing for apples. coke, orange juice, slicing vegetables and lettuce, strawberries, and apple-cinnamon donuts.

Since the there are Irish characters and culture in the book, I thought about making an Irish dish as my bookish dish but ultimately I decided to go with potato salad--passed around with roast beef sandwiches at a funeral towards the beginning of the book. I'll be honest, I made it more because I wanted potato salad than its meaningful presence in the story. ;-)

I kept in simple--an old-fashioned potato salad but I made it pop a bit with some sweety drop peppers from the olive bar at my local grocery store (purchased along with the cornichons) as a nod to the red rowan berries.


Potato Salad
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 4-6 Servings)

About 2 lbs white or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 green onions, chopped, white & green parts separated
1/3 cup sweety drop peppers or pimento
1/4 cup cornichons or baby dill pickles, sliced 
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed
2/3 cup mayonnaise of choice
2 tsp yellow mustard or to taste
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes into quarter or large chunks and place in pot of cold, lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain. Run potatoes under cold water to cool. Drain, chop into 3/4-inch chunks and set aside. 

Place the eggs, white part of onions, peppers, cornichons and capers in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard, apple cider vinegar, celery salt, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. and gently sir to combine. Fold in the potatoes and most of the green onion tops. Garnish with the remaining green onion tops and a sprinkling of paprika.

Cover the potato salad and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving--if you make it ahead, it tastes even better on the second day. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.

Notes/Results: Just a simple potato salad with lots of bright tang from the mustard, vinegar, peppers, cornichons and capers--just the way I like it, and creamy without being gloppy. I made a relatively small batch because otherwise I would sit and eat potato salad for days. ;-) I will happily make it again.

Linking up this potato salad here at Kahakai Kitchen for this week's Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie Sundays). We share soup, salad and sandwiches each week--join in if you have one!

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Ghosts of the Missing" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.