Pakistan Casserole

by Sandra Merville Hart

Another one of the dishes my husband makes that has become a comfort food to me is Pakistan Casserole. He got the recipe from a co-worker before we were married. It quickly became a go-to recipe for him because it’s easy to prepare.

I use long grain brown rice which takes about 45 minutes to cook. In my opinion, this enhances the flavor of the casserole. If you use minute rice, it will be much quicker. It’s your preference—and, let’s be honest, it probably depends on the amount of time you have to get the meal on the table. 😊

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


1 lb. pork sausage (ground beef or ground turkey are nice substitutes)

3 cups cooked rice

1 can Cream of Chicken Soup

6 slices American cheese

¼ cup of shredded cheese

Prepare the rice per the package’s instructions.

Brown the sausage in a skillet, crumbling it as it cooks. Drain.

In a separate bowl, combine the cooked rice, sausage, and soup.

Select a large casserole dish (mine is 13×9) and spray it with cooking spray.

Spoon in about 2/3 of the mixture. Cover it with a layer of American cheese. Then put the remaining mixture on top.

Sprinkle about ¼ cup of shredded cheese (more if you prefer) over the top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese melts.  

The flavor of the sausage is toned down a bit by the other ingredients, making this a kid-friendly meal. It’s also filling. The adults in our family also enjoy this dish.

If you make this dish using minute rice, it can be out of the oven in about a half hour.

For variation, try substituting the sausage for ground beef or ground turkey. This will also make the dish less spicy for those who prefer milder flavors.


Sight and Sound Theater, Branson

by Sandra Merville Hart

Recently, my husband and I went with my brother and sister-in-law to see Jesus at the Sight and Sound Theater in Branson, Missouri. What a spectacular show!

I’ve seen other plays like Jonah, Moses, and Samson at this theater and anticipated that Jesus would be just as amazing. It was—in fact, it exceeded my expectations.

The actors lit up the stage. The drama highlighted many of the well-known events in Jesus’ life and shed new insights as the story unfolded.

I was captivated by the photo on the program before I ever walked into the theater. It stirred my emotions as well as my imagination. Nice job!

The special effects are really well-done. It appeared as if Jesus really walked on the water. Peter went under when unbelief caused doubts and Jesus saved him, as the photo portrays so beautifully.

Live animals add a new dimension to the show. Aisles are used as part of the stage.

Actors put their heart and soul into each performance. Families, couples, church groups, and vacation-goers flock to these plays. Every performance I’ve attended has been to a packed house.

Deservedly so.

The production of Jesus has ended for this season. Miracle of Christmas will be live on stage from November 5 – December 31, 2022.

I was thrilled to learn that I Heard the Bells by Sight and Sound Films will be in theaters in December of 2022. I’ve already added this to my holiday plans.

For more information, check out their website.

If your plans take you to the Branson area on vacation, I’d recommend an evening performance at the Sight and Sound Theater.

The Element of Love by Mary Connealy

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Book 1 in The Lumber Baron’s Daughters series

Three beautiful sisters are running away from their stepfather’s plans to marry them off to his money-hungry friends whom they are all certain will mistreat them—possibly worse than their stepfather mistreats their mother. Their mother sends them off to find husbands and then return. She remains to face her husband’s wrath, but at least her strong, intelligent, beautiful daughters will be safe.

Laura, the youngest, meets a parson at the train station. Caleb heads a mission team heading to remote area of California. She convinces him to take her and her companions—she hides her relationship to her sisters to maintain secrecy. Then the real adventure begins.

Laura soon decides she must convince Caleb to marry her so that she can claim her third of her inheritance out of the clutches of her violent stepfather. But Caleb has secrets of his own…

This novel leaps from one dangerous adventure to the next so that I could barely put down the book. The characters are realistic and the relationship between the sisters is believable. Their mission—to choose their own husbands, take charge of their inheritance, and rescue their mother—drives the story.

Danger follows all four women, making this a page-turner.

One caution—the ending will leave you wanting to read Book 2!


The Story Equation by Susan May Warren

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Subtitle: How to Plot & Write a Brilliant Story from One Powerful Equation

This is a wonderful book to help authors plot and write a story that grips the emotions of reads.

The author shares practical tips for authors to use The Story Equation in creating a powerful story.

Tips for creating unforgettable characters that resonate with readers are especially helpful. If readers don’t care about the characters, they quickly lose interest. Warren devotes a whole chapter to building a sympathetic character.

Warren suggests writing the book as a Four-Act Story, which she explains in an understandable manner.

I read this book while still researching my next novel. I found the wisdom and practical tips helpful as my imagination explored the journey my characters were about to take.

Definitely recommend this book to authors!


Hamburger Mac Recipe

by Sandra Merville Hart

One of the dishes my husband makes has become a comfort food to me. Maybe it’s because of the macaroni and cheese. Maybe it’s because it’s a filling supper with a side vegetable or salad. Or maybe it’s because my husband takes over the preparation for supper!

It could become a comfort meal for your family too so I’m sharing my husband’s recipe that he created long before we met as a quick and easy meal.


1 lb. Ground beef

1 box of macaroni and cheese

1 cup of shredded cheese, divided

Prepare the macaroni and cheese per the box’s instructions.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Turn off the heat. Drain it and then return the cooked ground beef to the skillet.

Sprinkle about ¼ cup of shredded cheese over the cooked meat and stir.

Add about 1/3 of the prepared macaroni and cheese and combine. Then add the rest in increments, stirring to combine the mixture.

Sprinkle ½ cup of shredded cheese over the top. Turn the burner on low, cover, and heat the mixture until the cheese melts—about 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a bowl. My husband adds more shredded cheese at this point to the top, up to ¼ cup.

This is a kid-friendly meal. Little ones who like macaroni and cheese but shy away from eating a hamburger often enjoy this meal. It’s more filling that macaroni and cheese alone and they get some protein.

Most of the adults in our family also enjoy this dish.

It’s easy to prepare—and can be ready in under 30 minutes on those nights when the children have dance or soccer practice or swim lessons. 😊

Coming Soon! A Second Chances Novel Release!

by Sandra Merville Hart

I wanted to share some exciting news with you—my next series will soon begin releasing! A Not So Convenient Marriage, Book 1 of my new “Second Chances” series, will release November 8, 2022!

This series begins a dozen years after the end of the Civil War. The first book is set in 1877 in three Ohio locations: Hamilton, Harrison, and the train town of Bradford Junction.

The second book is set in Cincinnati in 1883—84. (It was fun to share a few recognizable locations in this novel.)

I will soon begin writing the third book, so stay turned for details!

Here’s a bit about A Not So Convenient Marriage:

A spinster teacher…a grieving widower…a marriage of convenience and a second chance with the man she’s always loved…

When Samuel Walker proposes a marriage of convenience to Rose Hatfield so soon after the death of his wife, she knows he doesn’t love her. She’s loved him since their school days. Those long-suppressed feelings spring to life as she marries him. She must sell her childhood home, quit her teaching job, and move to a new city.

Marrying Rose is harder than Samuel expected, especially with the shadow of his deceased wife everywhere in his life. And he has two young children to consider. Peter and Emma need a mother’s love, but they also need to hold close the memories of their real mother as they grieve her loss.

Life as Samuel’s wife is nothing like Rose hoped, and even the townspeople, who loved his first wife, make Rose feel like an outsider. The work of the farm draws the two of them closer, giving hope that they might one day become a happy family. Until the dream shatters, and the life Rose craves tumbles down around them. Only God can put these pieces back together, but the outcome may not look anything like she planned.

Available on Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Books 2 Read.

A bit about Sandra

Sandra Merville Hart, award-winning and Amazon bestselling author of inspirational historical romances, loves to discover little-known facts from American history to include in her novels. In fact, many of her stories are inspired by visits to historical sites such as battlefields. Sandra treats all her vacations with her husband as an adventure for she never knows where inspiration for a story willarise. Her desire is to transport her readers back in time. Sandra is also a blogger, speaker, and conference teacher.

Buried Cold Case Secrets by Sami A. Abrams

Reviewed by Sandra Merville Hart

Melanie Hutton accepts a job as a forensic anthropologist back in her home town. Her parents have moved away—not that they supported her when she needed them most anyway. No, it’s the kidnapping she endured with her best friend that she can’t recover from, especially since Melanie escaped and Allie’s remains were never found.

Detective Jason Cooper isn’t happy to see Melanie return. She had escaped and left her best friend—his sister—at the mercy of that monster. The fact she can’t recall what happened makes matters worse. He had once imagined dating Melanie, marrying her. No longer. He couldn’t trust her. Too bad they have to work together.

But someone is trying to kill Melanie. Does it have anything to do with the kidnapping? They both must work together to discover the truth before someone else dies.

This story gripped my interest from the beginning. The characters face real danger throughout and the action builds as the story escalates.

A multi-layered story that was a page turner for me!

Recommended for readers of contemporary suspense.