Archive for 2014
December 29, 2014
Pretzel Crack – the Addictive Snack!
My dear friend Middle Grade author Sharon Ledwith is here to get us hooked on an awesome treat that works on the appetizer table as well as family night with a good movie. The kitchen is all yours, Sharon!
Looking for a great family snack that’s easy to make and soooo addictively wicked, you’ll need to lock those ranch-dressed, salty bites under lock and key if you want to make them last until your next movie night? Then look no more. Seriously. You’ll be hooked with your first nibble.
And guess what? No baking is required. Even your kids can help with this recipe.
What you need:
32 ounce bag of pretzels
16 ounce bottle of Orville Redenbacher’s Buttery Flavor popcorn oil
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (dry)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoon dill weed
1 deep foil tray (from dollar store)
What you do:
1. Mix all dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
2. Mix in the popcorn oil.
3. Coat pretzels evenly, then spoon out onto a deep foil tray.
4. Air dry pretzels in foil tray, stirring every 15 minutes until dry (approximately 1-2 hours).
Store your freshly made pretzel crack in freezer bags. Voila. Done. Ready for consumption.
Warning: If you find that you or a family member eats a whole bag in one sitting, it’s time for an intervention. Do what you must. Be firm. Then, since the bag is empty, go ahead and make some more. You know you want it.
While waiting for the pretzel crack to dry, might I suggest you enjoy a trip into the past with The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis?
Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.
When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they’re given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn’t a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.
Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers–legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial–Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don’t, then history itself may be turned upside down.
To read an excerpt of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, please click HERE.
Check out The Last Timekeepers series Facebook Page.
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, The Last Timekeepers, available through Musa Publishing. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.
Happy New Year!
December 24, 2014
December 22, 2014
Black Olives with a Boost
This week and next we’re moving my National Appetizer Month recipes to Monday since Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall on Wednesdays.
The only way this recipe can be any easier is if it makes itself. Your friends and family will think you worked hard to create this tasty nibbler.
|Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography|
Black Olives in Oil
1 can medium pitted black olives, drained
3 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
Glass jar with a secure lid
Empty the olives into the jar. Add the garlic. Pour in the olive oil to cover. Refrigerate at least 1 week. The mix will become thick and cloudy. It’s okay, that’s the oil solidifying.
To serve, set the jar on the counter until the oil becomes clear and normal consistency, which will take several hours. Spoon out the quantity of olives you wish to serve into a pretty dish. Be sure to have toothpicks. Put the jar back in the fridge for future use. You can refill with more olives and the mixture can stay good for up to three months.
Next Monday I’ll have an addictive snack with very few calories. Be sure to pop back in.
I wish you all Merry Christmas!
December 17, 2014
HOLIDAY TIDBITS TO LOVE
In keeping with my declaration that December is National Appetizer Month, I’m including a family favorite that I make for almost every occasion. This recipe is easy, quick, and won’t break your budget.
Sweet Barbequed Meatballs
12-16ozs frozen Italian seasoned meatballs
6-10ozs grape jelly
1 bottle barbeque sauce
¼ cup dry red wine
Combine all ingredients in a medium-size saucepan. Be sure the meatballs are covered with the jelly and barbeque sauce. Adjusting the amounts as necessary. Be sparing if you add more wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until meatballs are heated through.
Keep warm on the stove or in a low-heat oven until you’re ready to serve.
To make your life easier during this busy holiday season, prepare this appetizer several days in advance of your party. Be sure to cover and refrigerate. On party day, remove the meatballs from the fridge at least 2 hours prior to serving. Warm either on the stovetop or in the oven.
I’ll be back Monday. Until then…
Happy appetizer munching!
December 15, 2014
SARAH GRIMM IS SMILING
I am elated to introduce you to romantic suspense author Sarah Grimm and her latest release Midnight Heat. This book is a perfect holiday gift for your eReader friends and family.
She was the only woman ever to rock his world.
But this time he’ll have to prove he’s offering more than just Midnight Heat.
The unconscious man wheeled into Dr. Rebecca Dahlman’s ER is sexy—devilishly sexy—and injured. This isn’t just any patient in need of medical help. He is the only man she’s ever loved—the one who still haunts her dreams.
Black Phoenix bassist Dominic Price made a mistake three years ago when he walked out on Rebecca. A mistake he plans to rectify. But first he has to convince her to open her heart to him again.
One touch of his calloused hands reignites their passion. Can they rekindle their trust as easily, or will her fears cause her to lose him again…this time to a man bent on revenge?
Dominic’s level of pain could be gauged by the way he held himself, and his careful indrawn breaths. The doctor in her wanted to reach out and comfort. The woman in her wanted to reach out for a completely different reason. She’d never had such an irresistible urge to touch anyone the way she wanted to touch him. It had been there right from the beginning, their first meeting, and was still just as strong now.
She fisted her hands to keep from acting on the impulse.
“Can I come in?”
Definitely not. Even injured and surly, he still emanated so damn much testosterone he made her teeth sweat. Her heart did a little flutter whether she wanted it to or not. “That’s not a good idea.”
“Have dinner with me.” There was the arrogance that had been missing a few moments before. His tone wasn’t commanding, but left no doubt in her mind that for him there was only one answer.
Too bad she couldn’t give it. “I already ate.”
His brow furrowed. “Why the bleedin’ hell not? Are you involved with someone?”
“I’m not seeing anyone, no.”
At her admission, he stepped closer, invading her space. Heat emanated off him, and although he did not touch her, she felt surrounded by him. “Take a drive with me?”
The low, soft timbre of his voice thrilled her, washed over her skin like a caress, and she fought a tremor. The heat of his body warmed her through her clothes. Wanting to step closer, to press against him and inhale his all too familiar scent, Rebecca stepped away. Physically distancing herself from him. She only wished emotional distance was as easily achieved. “Drive where?”
“Does it matter?”
Not really, since there was no way on earth she was getting in a car with him tonight. Not when just the sight of him had her hormones standing at attention, one whiff of him, her body thrumming. Not after spending the entire day thinking about him.
Did he still hurt over the loss of what could have been? Did he still dream of her, of them? Had he ever?
Dominic blew out a breath and shook his head, his frustration clear. “It’s just a damn drive, Becca.”
It was so much more. Acceptance would be the first crack in the barrier she’d built around her heart after he’d walked out. With only the smallest encouragement, he would stop by on a regular basis, invite her to spend time with him. Which would, even if she kept her wits about her and turned him down, lead to more heartache. Just seeing him again made her yearn. Spending time with him was not an option.
She didn’t know why he was back in California. The why didn’t matter. What mattered was that he would be gone again soon. Dominic Price wasn’t the type to hang around. And she wasn’t stupid enough to believe she could change him.
Sarah Grimm is a wife and mother of two—five if you count her much-loved dogs. She resides in beautiful West Michigan, with her husband, two sons and three rescue dogs. Her addictions include reading, laughter, and drag racing.
I’ll be back Wednesday to with a new appetizer recipe. Until then…
December 10, 2014
Acclaimed writing team HL Carpenter is here with a delicious appetizer that I plan to serve Christmas Eve. So, ladies, grab an apron, and share the goodness. The kitchen is all yours.
October was National Pumpkin month, but we think such a beautiful fruit should get more than just one month of notoriety. So smile, say cheese, and make your own yummy appetizer for a holiday get-together.
Cheese Ball Pumpkin
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
4 ounces crumbled feta or blue cheese
4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. prepared mustard
½ tsp. onion powder
The stem of a green bell pepper
Place all of the cheese in a large bowl and let soften to room temperature.
When cheese is soft, add Worcestershire and mustard. Blend with electric mixer or food processor on low speed. Scrape bowl and beat blended mixture on medium speed 1 or 2 minutes more until well mixed (do not overbeat).
Turn the mix onto plastic wrap. Pull the wrap up and secure with a twist tie. Shape the wrapped mixture into a ball. Score the pumpkin “ribs” onto the cheese ball with your fingertip or a flat knife.
With the plastic in place, set the cheese ball in a bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Before serving, sprinkle with paprika and add a bell pepper stem to top.
Keep refrigerated until the crowd arrives, then serve with assorted crackers.
To add even more fun to the party, discuss a good book. We suggest our latest speculative fiction novelette, Taxing Pecksniffery.
Flying frizzles! The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact?
The biggest surprise about the Shewawa Water Tax Rebellion of 2176 was that no one on Xerios saw it coming.
Oh, the Celestial Council knew cosmic numbers of Shewawans were swelling the ranks of the opposition. Who could miss that? Long before the proposed Water Tax had taken effect, news reports overflowed with stories of protestors and frivolous arguments—well, arguments the Council called frivolous. The protestors, as ever through recorded history, were deadly serious—so serious that when civilized avenues of protest failed, they turned to more forceful ways of expressing displeasure.
Tax accountants who’d been posted to Shewawa on standard duty tour understood the brewing danger. We encountered it every day, first hand. We sent urgent red-alert notices back to Xerios via the tax hotline, advising the Council’s Senior Tax Commissioner of the agitation boiling up all over the colony. The STC and the rest of the Council dismissed our warnings, refusing to believe a ragtag group of upstarts would challenge their authority to impose the Water Tax. So events continued to burble downhill, the way they do when no one has the courage to face the truth or the vision to chart a new course.
I never expected to get caught up in the rebellion. I was a Certified Etherworld Accountant, an expert at numbers warfare, not a Shewawantologist. Maybe I should have been less casual about the impact of the Water Tax, since I was part of what the protestors had begun to call the “oppressors.” But in some ways, I was as blind as the Council. As surely as my name is Ichann Count, I knew what was going to happen, even if I didn’t want to acknowledge my intuition or admit I thought the protestors had a point.
I considered myself an ordinary person, doing my ordinary job. Like a gazillion others across the Tri-Galaxies, I got up every morning, ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, and went to work. I spent my days crunching numbers at the Etherworld Tax Bureau with a hundred other CEAs and crushing on my cute cubicle-sharer, Fifo Ventry.
The Monday the Water Tax went into effect, I was doing both. I sat behind my light-beam privacy curtain, trying to ignore the office turmoil surrounding me. My co-workers abandoned their desks and gathered in uneasy clusters by the main conference room, sipping hot fragrant Starshine coffee and muttering to each other. We were all waiting for our boss to brief us on his morning’s skull sessions with the political factions on Xerios who wanted us to enforce the legislation and the Shewawan revolutionaries urging its repeal.
None of us expected the news to be good. We’d hoped to be back home in Xerios by now, but redeployment was doubtful. The Water Tax meant a ton more work and the Tax Bureau was already short-staffed.
HL Carpenter is a mother/daughter writing team. Their latest work is the speculative fiction novella Taxing Pecksniffery, the story of Ichann Count, an expert at accounting warfare. The year is 2176, a rebellion is brewing, and the boss wants a recon report. Ichann Count is all wet as a spy, but she plunges into the fray. Will she emerge with her memory banks intact? Learn more about Taxing Pecksniffery on HL Carpenter’s website.
December 8, 2014
Naughty Ladies of Nice Box Set
FRENCH Tart Book 1
Bon Appétit…Satisfy all your cravings at cooking school.
Determined to prove herself and shed her party girl image, Donatienne Dubois pins her hope on the exclusive cooking school in Nice, France.
Mark Anderson is incognito and hating every moment. To pose as a student while keeping tabs on a rich wild child is his version of hell, until he partners with the dish of Crème Brulée good enough to eat.
Class takes on a whole new meaning as Doni and Mark heat up the kitchen when they discover honey has better uses than sweetening tea.
FRENCH Delights Book 2
Fantasy blooms in a garden of wicked delight.
Science is Paul’s life. Close to a major breakthrough, all he wants is to be left alone with his trees and not be forced to entertain a corporate suit.
Lisette is less than thrilled about spending a month at a moldering chateau on the French Riviera with only some dried up old scientist for company. However the hot man in dirty jeans proves more of a fantasy than the nerd in a lab coat.
Sex and science create a volatile formula resulting in total delight.
FRENCH Twist Book 3
Spies and lies bring a deadly twist to the City of Lights.
Interpol agent Claudette D’Laquois is trapped in the hellhole of life and unable to trust anyone. Desperate to regain control, she flees to the safety of her uncle’s rundown chateau on the French Riviera.
Uptight accountant Donald Hobbs ditches numbers for dirt to oversee his friend’s orchard for three weeks.
Illegal drugs and Russian mobsters take a back seat to a lethal night of sinful pleasure for Claudette and Don.
FRENCH Kiss Book 4
Man and the sea have one commonality – both have a great capacity to create evil.
Author Rachel Conklin rejuvenates her creativity on the French Riviera as a fishing boat cook. Her plan is perfect until a storm at sea sets in motion a series of violent events beyond her imagination.
Dr. Henri Bernier has the ideal life with a job he loves and an inherited old fishing boat he treasures. He may not be the best sailor, but he is always cautious of the evil that travels above and below the water.
Treachery and sex traffickers force Rachel and Henri to stretch their limits and face what truly matters in life.
FRENCH Tickler Book 5
Lace and handcuffs…tools of the trade.
New Yorker Samantha Bradley has a fun, sexy career designing ladies lingerie. She treats herself to a well deserved break on the French Riviera where the women are glamorous and the men are gorgeous. After a few days Sam is eager to sample more than just the local cuisine.
Cisco Bernier is France’s key criminal prosecutor, but his courtroom charm falls flat outside the hallowed halls of justice. From family relationships to romantic trysts, his success rate is abysmal until a chance encounter with a sensuous young American businesswoman spins his staid world out of control.
Sam and Cisco sizzle together, but any future is threatened when their pasts collide.
Magnificent Men of Munich Box Set
Heated Negotiations Book 1
Mergers and negotiations are not just for the boardroom, especially when things heat up high over the Atlantic.
Travel agency owner Teddi Howard is Hell in high heels when she jumps a plane to Munich. Her goal—strangle the German tour operator who reneged on their exclusive contract.
Winter Games Book 2
As the games heat up, the stakes grow higher, and Lonnie must decide whether to play along or leave her heart out in the cold.
Lonnie Copley may be a genius, but not when it comes to her personal life. A series of wrong turns puts her far from reality and the German autobahn. The last thing she wants on the eve of a snowstorm is to be dangling at the edge of an Austrian mountain in need of rescue—especially by a leather-clad giant with Johnny Depp eyes.
Perfect Lie Book 3
A seedling of doubt will unravel even a perfect lie.
After two ex-husbands and a con artist, Francine Daniels has had it with men. Her life is finally the way she wants it — successful and complete. At least she thinks so until a working vacation in Munich brings her face to face with a sexy German hotelier who sees right through her brash exterior and makes her sizzle with his every touch.
Yesterday’s Lovers Book 4
Isabella Carrington has never wanted for anything her entire pampered life — except for love.
No matter how many designer items she buys or men she conquers, Isabella Carrington never seems to find what she’s looking for. When she meets the one man in the world completely unaffected by her charms, she is determined to have him, even if it means a dunk in the Grand Canal.
Behind every mask is always a fragment of truth.
Chicagoan Clancy Marshall has planned her dream vacation in Venice down to the last detail. From gondola rides to masked balls, and anything else that just happens along, she is determined to experience all pleasures. But those careful plans fly out the door when she literally falls into the arms of a masked stranger.
Vittore Ricci comes from an old Venetian family that claims two doges in their lineage. A straight-laced Count and owner of a prestigious hotel, he never does anything without serious consideration. Until a sexy American tourist offers an opportunity no man can refuse.
Pink boa and red stilettos…anything goes with Armani.
Life isn’t easy for American Lacey Blake when she’s stranded in Prague dressed like a dolled up hooker and nowhere to go. The cash-strapped American, boasting a pink boa and red stilettos that would make any working girl jealous, is saved by a staid giant in classic Armani.
Dragan Petrovic worked hard to shed the stigma of his youth and what his mother endured to put food in his belly. Now that he is a success, Dragan is determined his 5-star hotel will retain its unblemished reputation and no apprentice prostitute will launch her career in his lobby.
But one look in Lacey’s eyes proves there is more to the desirable woman than a micro mini and a push up bra. The urge to protect her compels Dragan to suggest an unconventional plan that stirs deep desires and alters their lives forever.
This book is compiled from recipes by the Musa Publiashing authors who love to cook. There are over seventy recipes that range from exciting appetizers to interesting adult beverages. You’ll definitely find plenty to tempt your palate.
To enter, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org with BDAY in the subject line. In the body of the email please add your title and format preference.
Also, if you like bookmarks and trading cards include your snail mail address in your email and I’ll get you a packet in the morning mail, no matter where in the world you live.
Good luck and thanks for helping me celebrate!
December 3, 2014
APPETIZER LOVERS UNITE
There are National Months for every known thing but appetizers. As a true lover of awesome finger food I ask you, how unfair is that? So I am declaring December to be National Appetizer Month. Each Wednesday I’ll feature a delicious appetizer. To kick off this auspicious event I’ve invited Sara Daniel to share her Easy Deviled Eggs recipe just in time for your holiday planning. The kitchen is all yours, Sara!
I love to eat deviled eggs—as long as someone else makes them! But as I approached my fourth decade of life, I realized maybe I need to cross this item off my bucket list even though the creation seemed way too complicated and fancy. I’m a busy mom with a full-time writing job. When it comes to food, I don’t do complicated or fancy.
But recently, I had a bunch of leftover Easter eggs and a whole lot of company coming over. I needed my guests to eat those eggs, so they weren’t sitting in my fridge until Halloween! So I scoured recipes online (Thanks Google!) and simplified the simplest recipe. I haven’t figured out a way to simplify peeling hard boiled eggs, but once I got past that part, these eggs were easy-peasy to make.
Easy Deviled Eggs
1 dozen hard boiled eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. honey Dijon mustard
Peel hard boiled eggs. (Muttering and cursing is optional, but I find the eggs respond better to threats and bad temper!)
Slice eggs lengthwise. Scoop yolks into a bowl. Mash yolks, mayonnaise, and mustard together.
Scoop mixture with a small spoon into egg white halves. (If you want to use some fancy thing to make pretty, complicated designs, knock yourself out!)
Sprinkle with paprika. Cover with cling wrap and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
Like me, the heroine of Wyatt’s Guilt makes work her priority over food, but I think Nicole should give these eggs a try too!
Here is a short intro to one of my favorite books.
Nicole trusted Wyatt with her heart once. She won’t make the same mistake twice.
Nicole DeMonde’s car breaks down the moment she returns to her hometown for her brother’s wedding. The cop who stops to help her is none other than local hottie Wyatt Truman, who slept with her then dumped her when they were teens. She has no choice but to accept his help. However, she knows better than to trust him with her heart twice.
Wyatt is determined to earn Nicole’s forgiveness and make amends for his callous past. Once he lays eyes on her, he can’t help wanting a lot more than forgiveness, despite his intention never to hurt her again.
Just as Wyatt starts thinking his best intentions are of the forever variety, Nicole decides to work Wyatt out of her system with a one night stand. Can either of them make peace with the past in a single weekend, let alone survive with their hearts intact?
To read an excerpt from Wyatt’s Guilt, please click HERE.
Sara Daniel writes what she loves—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She lives her own happily-ever-after romance with her hero husband.
December 1, 2014
A Gift Idea for the E-Readers on Your List
Erotic author Lizzie T. Leaf has a new release! The six DEAD books from her acclaimed series are now available in a box set.
DEAD Awake – Who knew a night of passion, could lead to a gal waking up dead…and pissed?
DEAD Faint – BillieJo didn’t want to die, but given her new food source for eternity death may have been a better option.
DEAD Hunter – ArieAnne was raised to believe vampires are evil, so how can she be in love with one?
DEAD Memory – David can’t remember his past, but finds it strange the smell of blood makes his mouth water.
DEAD Hot – Can two people with deep secrets discover the truth about each other and still find love?
DEAD Santa – A bite on this Christmas Eve delivery changed Santa into someone he doesn’t know, and Mrs. Claus doesn’t want to live with.
from DEAD Awake
“Guess again.” Daniel’s dark eyes bored into her. “My dear, if I wanted to be with someone famous I wouldn’t have to wait for them to die…nor would it be you.”
Well, he doesn’t have to be so persnickety and openly sneer at the thought of doing me! He might be good looking, but it isn’t like he’s God’s gift to women. And he’s old. He must be at least forty-five. “So what are you doing here?”
Wait a minute—did he read my mind?
He sighed and shook his head. “I promised a friend I’d help you understand what has happened to you. And yes, I can read your thoughts.”
Freaky. A mind reader, but he knows what’s going on with my situation.
Excitement suppressed her doubts. Finally, she was going to find out what happened. Perhaps she had some rare strange disease that only a few people knew about.
He studied her for a long moment with his intense black eyes, and she had to resist the urge to squirm. Maybe she didn’t want to know what he was going to tell her.
“Your condition is the result of…an accident. My friend didn’t mean to get carried away and turn you into one of the living dead.”
“The what?” How did she manage to get hooked up with these weirdoes? “Are you frigging nuts?”
His dark glare stopped her from saying more.
“For your information, I’m saner than you’re going to feel shortly.” He held up a hand to stop her question. “Let me finish before you start with your questions.” His voice teetered on boredom as he went on to explain what happened to her on Halloween night.
The story may have bored him, but by the time he completed his tale, she was boiling mad. “You’re telling me I’m a vampire.”
This man was certifiable. Vampires only existed in horror movies and at costume parties. “Then what does that make you, if you’re friends with this individual who took a bite out of me?”
“A much older and wiser vampire than you or my young friend who created you.” He adjusted the collar of his coat. “Now, do you want to benefit from some of my knowledge or do you wish to continue with your delusion that I’m insane?”
A little flick of fear ran down Deb’s spine. What if he was telling her the truth? What if she had been turned into a vampire? That would explain why the doctor pronounced her dead. She was, what did Daniel call it…one of the living dead.
“So, did your friend or whatever you call him, need virgin’s blood to survive, or what?”
The Experienced One grimaced. “I call him Aaron, or sometimes refer to him as my protégé, and yes, he is my friend. As for the virgin’s blood, if that was the case he’d be in real trouble on the survival issue with his selection of you, wouldn’t he?”
Lizzie T. Leaf loved books since she opened her first one. Her dream was to write them herself. Lost in the hectic day to day world of family, job, laundry and housework, writing became a distant memory. When the twinkling ember did spark, it was usually doused by someone demanding their share of her time.
Lizzie’s life went full circle. The desire to put the stories that continued to play in her head on paper emerged stronger than ever, and at a time when there was someone who encouraged. Now she lives her dream.