100 Days of NO Processed Meals – Crock Pot Style — Stacy Makes Cents

If you didn’t know, I work for Louisiana State University, but I live in another parrish. My husband, son and I have a 50 mile round trip commute to work/school. We eat out. A lot. No, really. It’s kind of ridiculous.

Since this is New Years Eve, that day of the year when we’re all gung-ho about making healthy, productive changes in our lives, the Russo family is going to TRY to eat at home more. Like homemade food.

We’re also trying to cut down on the hidden soy and HFCS in our diet. This blog seems like a good place to start.

100 Days of NO Processed Meals – Crock Pot Style — Stacy Makes Cents.


Interview with Christine Ashworth

To conclude Unofficial Christine Ashworth week, I got the author herself to sit down and answer my question about her Caine Brothers series. If you read any of my reviews this week, you know that I’m a just tad bit fond of her tribred boys. Now, for the interview!

The Caine Brothers live/work/play in Santa Monica, California. I just happened to visit the town this summer, and by visit I mean we turned off of the 105 onto Pacific Coast Highway and motored along on our 6000 mile road trip, BUT I remember thinking that Santa Monica was beautiful. It’s no wonder to me why the Caine family made their home there, or that the Caine boys eventually came back home.

aerial-third-street-promenadeI know this isn’t a question, but I worked in the Santa Monica area for almost ten years and I still love it there. I took drawing classes through UCLA Extension upstairs at the Third Street Promenade, and people watching there is so much fun. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend a stop in to the 3rd Street Promenade!

In your Caine Brother’s series, you’ve combined demon, fae, and human into a new species: tribred. Of all the paranormal creatures to play with, what attracted you to demon and fae?

It was 2008. I’d read all the werewolf fiction and all the vampire fiction, and didn’t think I could compete with those, so I started playing around with other beasties. Demons drew me, but I had to make them softer – which is where the Fae comes in. Not that all Fae are soft – by no means! Once I thought of a tribred, I was satisfied that I had something that was my very own, that I could write in any way I wanted.

I also find it interesting, with the demon and fae in play, that your big bad is a human, albeit an ambitious one. Where did Kendall Sorbis come from? What was your inspiration for the witch I’d love to pour a bucket of water on?

Kendall showed up when I wrote a short story titled Demon Hunt – it was the first story I wrote in the Caine series, and at 15k, I was pretty happy with it. Then CMP bought up Demon Soul, and asked if I had anything else. I showed them Demon Hunt, and they asked me to make it a full length novel – and it would come second in the series. So as you imagine, I had some rewriting to do! But the plotline for Soul was pretty set, so I slipped Kendall in kind of sideways, as someone helping the vampire Satine for his own purposes. In Hunt, he took on a bigger role.

I’ve found a delightful similarity between Justin and Magdalena’s relationship and the one crafted by Shakespeare for Benedict and Beatrice. Are you a fan of Shakespeare? Was Much Ado About Nothing what you had in mind when you created Justin and Magdalena?

I am a huge fan of Shakespeare. My husband was the artistic director for the first ten years of Nevada’s Shakespeare in the Park, an Equity company that performs in Green Valley, just outside of Las Vegas. But – while I adore Shakespeare, I didn’t really have a thought about Beatrice and Benedict when writing Justin and Maggie’s relationship. That book was supposed to come after Demon Soul, but with everything changing, I had to drag out their romantic arc. At least I managed to get them into bed in Demon Hunt, even though it was “off screen”, so to speak!

Your fourth book in the Caine Brothers series is Demon Rage. I’m assuming it’s Justin’s story, although, one more book of unresolved bickering between Justin and Magdalena would hardly go unappreciated. Will we finally see Magdalena admit that she loves the guy?

Yes, it’s Justin’s and Magdalena’s story. If you read the teaser at the end of Demon Hunt, you know that the dynamic has changed between them. And that’s all I’m going to say at this point! (Oh, and I love happy endings!)

There’s a fourth Caine, cousin Kellan. Will there be a fourth Demon title? (Please, oh please, oh please say yes?)

I will write as many Caine novels and short stories as CMP will accept! Not only does Kellan have his story waiting, but so does Megan the doctor, and Mephisto is waiting impatiently for me to tell his story.

Yes! I love Mephisto! What’s next for you? After the Caine Brothers?

I’m working on two different YA novels; a contemporary romance set at the rodeo; and I’m writing two plays, as well. So yeah, I’m busy! Plus I have a day job, and a husband who likes seeing my face, rather than my back hunched over the keyboard, lol.

bottle-crimson-clover-bigMy husband does, too. What’s up with that? *wink* I have stack of 2-inch steaks in my freezer begging to for a proper mate. What wine would you suggest to go with pepper-crusted sirloin?

Ooh, that’s a good one. If it were just a plain steak, I’d say a nice, peppery Zinfandel. But since you’re doing pepper-crusted (YUM!), I’d go with a Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of my go-to wineries is Kendall Jackson. Either their regular Cabernet or their Private Reserve Cab would go well with this steak. IF you want something slightly different, I do recommend Concannon’s Crimson & Clover. It’s a red wine blend that’s running under $10 at the grocery store, and it hit my “Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!” status, so that’s saying something!

Thank you for coming on my blog today and indulging my questions about the Caine boys.

Thank you so much for having me here, Wendy. I’ve had a blast!

ChristineAshworth1Christine Ashworth is a native of Southern California. The daughter of a writer and a psych major, she fell asleep to the sound of her father’s Royal manual typewriter for years. In a very real way, being a writer is in her blood-her father sold his first novel before he turned forty; her brother sold his first book before he turned twenty-five.

At the tender age of seventeen, Christine fell in love with a man she met while dancing in a ballet company. She married the brilliant actor/dancer/painter/music man, and they now have two tall sons who are as brilliant as their parents, which keeps the dinner conversation lively.

Christine’s two dogs rule the outside, defending her vegetable garden from the squirrels, while a polydactyl rescue cat named Zaphod holds court inside the house. Everything else is in a state of flux, leaving her home life a cross between an improv class and a think-tank for the defense of humans against zombies and demons.

Demon Soul | Blood Dreams | Demon Hunt
Christine’s Blog | Twitter


00-GumboWeatherI’d like to say that it’s gumbo weather. In some parts of the US, it is, but not here. I present as evidence the picture to your left.

I never realized while growing up that the weather is huge cue for the holidays. I’ve lived in South Louisiana for more than 16 years, and Christmas still catches me off guard. Look at my kid in my back yard and tell me it’s really December. (Yes, this is in fact the weather that I moved to Louisiana to enjoy.)  I love Christmas, but I’m a bit low on Christmas spirit.

I haven’t made gumbo in a while. I started posting pictures on Facebook this morning and realized five pictures later that I had enough content for a blog post. So, I’m going to show you, my lovely readers, how I make mine. (And by mine, I mean Tiffiny Guidry’s.)

You’ll notice that there isn’t a recipe on this page. That’s because I learned gumbo as a process, rather than an amalgamation of ingredients. Each pot is different. Always yummy, but they all come together differently.


I start with a 10-inch skillet and mix 2 cups of flour with 2 cups of vegetable oil with a wire whisk. I heat this over medium heat and stir continuously until it’s medium brown. (It will continue to darken as it sits.)

04-RouxInPot I take half of the roux and put it into my 7-qt enameled cast iron dutch oven. I used to make gumbo in stock pots, but I find the temperature hard to control. Cast iron is MUCH easier to deal with.


To that, add your Holy Trinity (4 med yellow onions, 2 green peppers, 4 stalks of celery, uniformly chopped.) Sweat the veggies for about 10 minutes on medium, stirring occassionally.


Meanwhile, I stored the rest of the roux in the fridge and washed dishes.


I filled the pot with water, leaving about an inch, and brought it to a boil. Then, I lowered the heat and let it simmer until the water level reduced by about 1/2 an inch.


At that point, sauted frozen okra in canned diced tomatoes until the okra wasn’t slimy, then poured it into the gumbo pot. And then brought that back up to a boil.


While this has been working, I thawed a 1-lb chicken breast, and a pound of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  I also microwaved 3 links of smoked sausage for 1:30 on high. This made the sausage soft enough to slice. When the gumbo was boiling, I added the turkey, then the sausage, then the raw diced chicken. Yes, raw. This stuff is now going to boil for about an hour, so cooking the chicken first means I wash another pot. I’m not that fond of washing dishes.



These are the seasonings that I add to my gumbo. I add each in a thin layer and stir in. Then I give it a few minutes to simmer before tasting. I keep adding small amounts until I like the way it tastes.



Finished gumbo, with rice.