Books and Beverages

Books and Beverages (#6)

I actually read more than one book this month. I read two. Aren’t you proud of me? They were both pretty quick reads and right within my usual genre of fantasy/sci-fi. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them and highly recommend them. So far this year I’ve read 16 books, which is two more than I’ve ever read in one year. I’m about 500 pages short of reading the most pages in one year, so I’m pretty confident I can beat that too. And I’m three books ahead of schedule for my Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge, so I might bump that up by five books again. Challenges are supposed to be challenging.


Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I’d heard of this book back in November 2012 when Marissa Meyer wrote a pep talk for NaNoWriMo. (Fun fact: This book got its start during NaNoWriMo.) I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up sooner, but I guess I thought that a futuristic retelling of Cinderella with cyborgs was a strange concept. Fast forward three years and practically everyone is reading it and raving about it, so I figured I ought to check it out. It reads fast, the world building is awesome, and the advanced technology in it seems very plausible, but some of the politics do not. Anyway, the book follows Cinder who is a working class teenage girl and the best mechanic in New Beijing. She’s also a cyborg, meaning that she’s part human, part robot. An accident when she was 11 left her badly injured and doctors replaced several of her limbs with artificial robotic ones. She doesn’t remember anything from before the surgery. Cyborgs are basically ostracized by society, and especially by her step-mother who was left to care for Cinder after her adoptive father passed away from the plague, which has become an epidemic. Cinder of course has two step-sisters who are all excited about going to the annual royal ball, and of course Cinder isn’t allowed to go. There is even a fairy godmother and missing shoe of sorts and an unlikely romance between Cinder and the prince. It hits all the elements of the original Cinderella but in a futuristic sci-fi setting. However, you can see the major twist coming from miles away and that kind of ruined some of the suspense and had you wondering when in the world the characters would catch on. This is the first book of The Lunar Chronicles, and the final one is set to come out this November.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I had been meaning to save this book for a little while, but I found that I couldn’t wait any longer to return to Middle Earth. This book takes place before The Lord of the Rings and sets it up and introduces the reader to Middle Earth. So from that aspect, it might be smart to read The Hobbit first, but I don’t think it’s necessary. The Hobbit is more lighthearted and less complex than LOTR, making it a story for all ages. Bilbo Baggins, a very respectable hobbit who doesn’t do anything unexpected or go on any adventures, is visited by Gandalf who is looking for someone to go on adventure. Bilbo declines any adventures, but invites Galdalf for tea anyway since it’s polite. The date for the tea arrives, and Bilbo hopes that the old wizard has forgotten all about him. He finds that is not at all the case and over a dozen dwarves and Gandalf show up on his front porch, in need an additional someone to go on an adventure. A terrible dragon named Smaug stole all the dwarves’ gold and trinkets many years ago and they want to get it back and slay the dragon. Bilbo finds himself embarking on a journey to a far-away place and leaving all the comforts of his hobbit hole behind, uncertain if he will ever return. And like any journey, there are unexpected obstacles along the way. This story was originally written for Tolkien’s children, so the narrator occasionally interjects in the first person, making it feel as if you’re being read to. The only things this book lacks are female characters (I couldn’t find any), and romance. Despite this, it is still a worthwhile read that contains little nuggets of wisdom for all ages.



IMG_0995Okay, so I haven’t actually drunk this one, but it has my name on it which is why I’m including it in here. My mom found this for me and I was so happy because up until then, I could only find misspelled ones. (That’s right. If you spell Stephanie with f’s and/or y’s, you’re misspelling it.) Anyway, I’m glad someone at Coke knows how to spell.

Red Lobster’s Peach Lemonade

I had this the other day at Red Lobster, and wasn’t sure how it would taste based on the name alone. It was delicious and it took a lot of self-control to not drink it all at once. I could taste both the peach and the lemonade, and nothing seemed to overpower the other. It was really good and really addicting and I recommend you try it if you ever get the chance.


Microwavable Lemon Raspberry Mug Cake

I found this little booklet of recipes that you can make in a mug, and some you can even make just with your microwave. I thought this would be a perfect recipe to share for the back to school season since having a personal microwavable mug cake would be perfect in a college dorm. I found this cake to be nice and moist and it comes out of the microwave all warm and the raspberries have kind of melded into the cake itself. You also get to make a sweet lemon glaze to drizzle over the top kind of like frosting.

The recipe does call for flour, and if you’re in a dorm, it might not be practical for you to go out and buy a 5 lb bag of flour from the grocery store. The alternative is heading over to the bulk foods aisle where you can probably get flour in a smaller quantity.

Lemon Raspberry Mug Cake

You Will Need

  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp lemon juice, divided (I recommended fresh lemon juice.)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh raspberries (or blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries)
  • 2 Tbsp powdered sugar


Step 1: Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in large microwavable mug. (The bigger the better, you don’t want a lemon raspberry cake mess all over your microwave.)

Step 1

Step 2: Add the oil, sour cream, milk, and 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Mix well. Top with raspberries.

Step 2A

Step 2B

Step 3: Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes.

Step 4: In a small container, combine the powdered sugar and remaining 1 tsp of lemon juice. Mix well and drizzle over the cooled cake. Devour ASAP.

Lemon Raspberry Mug Cake

This recipe was super easy and super delicious. It serves one, which I think is great if you’re craving cake but don’t want to make a whole one.

Nutrition Info:

Serving Size: 1 mug cake, recipe makes 1 serving
Calories: 355
Fat: 11 g
Saturated: 3 g
Trans: 0 g
Cholesterol: 13 mg
Sodium: 54 mg
Potassium: 68 mg
Carbs: 62 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sugar: 42 g
Protein: 4 g
Vitamin A: 3%
Vitamin C: 14%
Calcium: 7%
Iron: 1%


S’mores Bars

A while back this little idea popped into my head to make s’mores bars. A graham cracker crust on the bottom, followed by a layer of fudge brownies, and on top some mini marshmallows all golden brown and gooey. For this recipe, you can either use your own fudge brownie recipe, or pick up a box mix from the store. The box mix I found was Betty Crocker and came with a packet of Hershey’s syrup to go with the mix. I thought this was genius for s’mores bars since a Hershey’s chocolate bar is most often used when making real s’mores over a fire. Also, the fudginess mimics the melted chocolate on real s’mores.

They didn’t turn out quite how I expected, and the brownies kind of overwhelmed everything else. But they were very delicious and pretty on top with the caramelized marshmallows. I used a 9 x 9 pan, and perhaps the marshmallows and graham cracker would have been able to shine more with an 8 x 8 pan instead. I still feel like sharing this recipe, though, so here it is.

Fudge brownies with a graham cracker crust and caramelized marshmallow topping
Fudge brownies with a graham cracker crust and caramelized marshmallow topping

By the way, National S’mores Day is Monday, August 10.

You Will Need

  • 6 graham cracker sheets
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • Brownie mix, and whatever else is needed to make it as per the directions, or your own brownie recipe
  • 2-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • A square 9″ x 9″ pan


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350° F and grease the baking pan. Break up the graham crackers and place them into a food processor with blade. Pulse a few times to break them up even more, then grind them up on a low speed until finely chopped.

Step 1

Step 2: In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, and graham cracker crumbs until well mixed. Press into the greased baking pan and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown around edges.

Step 2A
Crushed graham cracker and butter mixture.
Step 2B
Graham cracker crust pressed firmly into pan.

Step 3: While the crust is baking, mix up the brownies as per the instructions you are following. When the crust is done, remove from oven. (You may need to adjust the oven temperature at this time, following your instructions.)

Step 3A
Brownie batter.
Baked and golden brown crust.
Baked and golden brown crust.

Step 4: Pour prepared brownie batter over the crust and smooth out. Sprinkle the marshmallows on top, leaving some room in between to allow for expansion.

Step 4A Step 4B

Step 5: Bake as per the brownie directions. They’re done when a toothpick comes out mostly clean about 2″ from the edge. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Step 5

In somewhat unrelated news, I reopened my Etsy jewelry shop last weekend. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, now’s a great time because everything is up for sale. A lot of the items that I’ve featured on this blog are also up for sale, so if you’ve ever wanted to own a piece of jewelry seen here, now’s your chance! There will a jewelry post going up tomorrow that you won’t want to miss!