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fast shepherd’s pie–guest post!

Master Chef Michelle is in the kitchen and The Edible Bookmark couldn’t be happier! In honor of Easter and the recent chilly temperatures, she’s sharing a family favorite made with lamb and love. Without further adieu…

Michelle P.
Ok, who isn’t sick of the cold yet?! If I could get my hands on that ground hog…well, as an animal lover I guess I have to let some things go. Just gives us more time to enjoy hearty, warm, and comforting foods. Here’s my take on Fast Shepherd’s Pie from Cooking Light.

I’ve taken this fast recipe and made it a tad bit faster. The only downside I have found is that it may be a bit more “saucy,” but can we say clean plates by all?? That = A KEEPER recipe in my book.

Hands-on Time: 30 min.
Total Time: Under 1 hour.
Serves 6 (easily)

Step 1aIngredients:

  • 6 lamb loin chops, meat removed from bones and cut into bite size pieces*
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • ¾ tp. kosher salt (I swap this out and use Secolari’s Black Truffle Sea Salt)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen peas & carrots mix**
  • 1 package Bob Evans mashed potatoes***
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups, fat-free, low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 ½ tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 ½ tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

michelle’s musings:
*I just ask the butcher in my grocery store to cut the meat from the bones so it makes it easier to cut them in smaller pieces at home. I also suggest using 8 chops for a more meaty taste.Step 3

**/*** : These are the items I use to speed things up even more. The original recipe calls for microwaving baby carrots, slicing them up and for making frozen Ore Ida Steam n’ Mash potatoes.


  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle lamb evenly with salt and pepper. Add lamb to pan; saute for about 4 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove lamb from pan with a slotted spoon. Add onion to pan; saute for about 4 minutes and stir occasionally.
  3. Stir tomato paste into onions in pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in carrots, peas, thyme, and rosemary. Bring to a boil; cook 4 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in browned lamb.
  5. Add butter to Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes and microwave for just the first cooking cycle.Step 7
  6. Spoon lamb mixture into a 2-quart broiler-safe glass or ceramic baking dish. Top with Bob Evans Mashed Potatoes. Broil 4 minutes or until lightly browned.



Nutrition Information:
1 Serving (approx.. ¾ cup lamb mixture and ¾ cup potatoes): 377 calories; 13.7 fat (5.2g saturated, 4.3 g mono, 0.8g poly); 20.2g protein; 39.9g carbohydrates; 5.7g fiber; 59mg cholesterol; 2.9mg iron; 536mg sodium; 59mg calcium

archer’s voice, by mia sheridan

archers voiceSo when I burst into tears and had to re-read numerous parts of this book, I concluded that this was the first 4-bookmark book that I had read in a while. Wow. The emotion Mia Sheridan evoked in Archer’s Voice was just…wow. I resisted reading this book for a while, not wanting to buy into the hype that has been surrounding it. But, the masses were right on this one. Shall we…

Six months ago, Bree Prescott suffered the tragic loss of her father. As a result of the night her entire world was changed, she has decided to get away for a while. A college graduate and former chef at the deli owned by her dad, Bree finds herself settled in as a waitress in a small town in Maine trying to put her life back together.

Enter Archer Hale. He’s lived just outside of Pelion, MN his entire life. Growing up with a philandering and abusive father; a mother who was in love with another man; and the chief of police who was married but wanted to save Archer and his mom from their sad existence, Archer is no stranger to tragedy and loss. As a result of a horrible scene no child should ever witness, let alone be apart of, Archer has been rendered mute. And because he’s lived a secluded life since his own life-altering experiences, the small town of Pelion all but ignores him. Except Bree.

Over time, the secrets of Archer’s past are revealed with devastating consequences. The truth about the night Bree’s father died comes to light. And in the midst of it all, there’s a beautiful love story between a young man who finally speaks without ever saying a word and the woman who loves him unconditionally.

At first, I thought this book was moving slowly–but then I came to the conclusion that it was me, not the book. Bree and Archer’s story is heart wrenching for so many reasons. It’s sweet. It’s poignant. It’s romantic. It’s hopeful. It’s a really good book.


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closer than you think, by karen rose

closer than you thinkUGH!!! That’s pretty much how I feel about this book. Closer Than You Think is the first Karen Rose book I have ever read and I have to say, it will probably be the last. Which is disappointing on so many levels because she has a series set in Baltimore, which is where I currently reside.

This book was not poorly written. The characters were likable. The plot was interesting. This sincerely could have been a 4-bookmark book, except… My single biggest gripe–it was entirely too long. It was 624 pages on my Nook and could’ve been a great read if it were literally half that length. Can you say editor, please? Let’s dive in…

Deacon is an incredibly cool FBI agent and liaison with the local police, and has a unique look all his own. He’s recently moved back to Cincinnati from Baltimore to help his doctor sister, Dani, raise their younger brother, Greg, who is a deaf teenager having a hard time living with their aunt and uncle. Deacon’s Cincinnati police officer cousin Adam, helped Deacon get his job/transfer, though something is going on with Adam–he’s very angry and resentful of Deacon–but we never find out what exactly the issue is.

Faith, a psychiatrist, is on the run from a sex offender she used to counsel and helped put in jail. He’s attacked her multiple times and she’s just moved from Miami back to Cincinnati where she grew up. She’s also just inherited a house that has clearly upset someone in her family, though her twin uncles claim neither have an interest in the estate. Throw in Faith’s mother’s suspicious death; her mistrust of police because of her past, including her police officer ex-husband, and you almost forget that the main plot is supposed to be about a serial killer who’s on the loose. Only you can’t forget, because essentially, everyone in the book is a suspect so then you’re just confused.

There were so many sub-plots and suspects that I was exhausted reading this book before I was even halfway through. (I also attempted to explain it to a friend of mine over breakfast this past weekend and she stopped me after I was 2 minutes in because it as so convoluted.) It was one thing after another on top of another. This is a new series for Rose and the 2nd installment is due out next year. Needless to say, I will not be reading it.


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garlic, butter shrimp scampi

IMG_1973Initially, I paused in blogging about this recipe. Then I realized how I could help it! And to be fair, I did go back for seconds of the original recipe. This is another quick, week-night meal that I think would pair nicely with a simple side salad. Let me know what you think!

Original recipe is from How to Nest For Less.


  • 8 ounces of whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (half stick) of butter
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 package McCormic® Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi Seasoning Mix
  • 1 tbsp juice of a lemon
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Old Bay
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  • Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in large skillet on medium heat until butter is melted. Add shrimp and Seasoning Mix; cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Stir in lemon juice.
  • Toss with cooked pasta to coat well. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.


tara’s tips: Personally, I need my protein (i.e. meat) to be flavorful. I suggest seasoning the shrimp with Old Bay, salt, and pepper, and if you can handle the kick, red pepper flakes. Without the last 4 ingredients, the dish is fine for all–again, I did go back for seconds. But we know me, to take a page out of Emeril’s book, I like to kick things up a notch.

baltimore eatery: grano emporio

grano emporioA few weeks ago, my girlfriends and I stumbled upon a small restaurant in the heart of Hampden, an area of downtown Baltimore. We originally had reservations some place else, but a super fast change in direction landed us literally across the street at the most charming local Italian eatery–a split second decision that couldn’t have had better results if we tried.

We walked into Grano Emporio and while small and packed on a Friday night, they did everything they could to accommodate our party of 3. We ran into one of my co-workers who was with his own party of 3, while waiting in the bar area. And then had the pleasure of sitting at a table next to someone we think was an owner and quite charming in his own right.

There was a lot of Italian being spoken, the wait-staff was awesome, our wine glasses were never empty (at the direction of aforementioned owner), the bread was hot out of the oven, and the seasonal desserts were delish!

I was intrigued by the specials, so I ordered them…all of them. The appetizer of salmon, prosciutto, mozzarella pinwheels, the main dish of lobster with crab stuffed ravioli, and an apple custard pie. And while my dessert was super yummy, one of my girlfriend’s had the tiramisu and it was to die for–highly recommend. Actually, that’s the point of this post–in case you hadn’t noticed, I would highly recommend Grano Emporio–I also would highly recommend you make a reservation.

Normally, when I go out for Italian, it’s some place in Little Italy–Amicci’s anyone? And when I got to Hampden, it’s usually for Holy Frijoles. Dining at Grano Emporio was a delightful experience all around and one I plan to repeat–did I mention the yummy French press coffee? Don’t miss out on this hidden Baltimore treasure. Buon appetito!