Sloane Taylor - Sweet as Honey, Hotter Than Hell

Archive for the 'Cooking' Category

March 15, 2017

A WORLD OF YUM

by Chris Pavesic

This is a new family favorite. I made these in place of my traditional Christmas Cookies last year, and have requests to make them for all upcoming holidays. For New Years I made an extra batch to store in the freezer for any time an unexpected guest visits, and they lasted about a day.

Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookies
½ cup unsweetened baker’s chocolate powder
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter (plus an additional amount for coating the baking tray)
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 ¼ cup all purpose flour (plus an additional amount for coating the baking tray)
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ package raw pecan halves
½ cup (approximate) coarse sugar or sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Prepare the baking sheet by coating the surface with butter and then dusting with flour. This will help ensure the cookies do not stick.

Prepare the plate. Sprinkle the coarse or sanding sugar on the surface for pressing the cookie dough.

Mix chocolate powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg in a large bowl until blended.

Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt until mixed. (The dough will be stiff.)

Stir in chocolate chips until evenly mixed.

Using the tablespoon-sized measuring spoon, scoop one cookie and drop it onto the plate.

Using your fingers or the back of the spoon, press and mold the dough until it is shaped the way you desire. (My family likes the traditional rounded cookie shape—but you do you!)

Lift the cookie and place it sugar-side up on the baking sheet. Press one of the pecan halves into the center. Repeat for the remaining cookies.

Space the cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove from the cookie sheet. Finish cooling on a wire rack.

This recipe makes about 36 cookies.

What’s Next?
I am currently working on two projects. I have a two book epic fantasy in the draft/beta reading stage and I am working on a LitRPG novel concept. For those who might not be familiar with the genre, LitRPG is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy which describes the hero’s adventures within an online computer game. Finally my love of gaming and writing are coming together! I knew all of those nights I stayed up playing MMORPGs would pay off someday. Right now I am in the world-building stage for my LitRPG.

It all boils down to more time in front of the computer and putting words on the screen. Over the next few months I will make more announcements as events warrant. Until then my short stories are available on Amazon.com and are free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Praise for Heart & Mind
“The author has managed to weave an intricate web about being true to yourself. One shouldn’t be guided or led by others. Above all, feel the magic in your own heart. As the fairy godmother believes sometimes it is best not to mess with destiny.” –Chief, USN Ret…VT Town—a Top 500 Reviewer on Amazon.com

Praise for The World In Front of Me
“Picked up this short story because I noted it was previously published in Penumbra, which was a pretty high quality publication. And this story lived up to my expectations for a professional quality piece.

The story’s main idea reminded me a lot of the Lakeside community in Neil Gaimon’s American Gods, but I won’t say anymore about that for fear of giving away spoilers. But fans of Gaimon should really enjoy this story. Fans of strong women who make tough choices should enjoy this as well”—KSluss—Review on Amazon.com

Praise for Going Home
“This is an excellent short story that is full of surprises for the reader. Martial law is about to be imposed in the colony.

A secret room, trips on a train and a clandestine meeting are all part of this superb short story.

Most highly recommended”—Off Grid . . . And Loving It—a Top 500 Reviewer on Amazon.com

Praise for Wonderland
“The writing is beautiful, the characters are complex and thoroughly developed and the story is fascinating. All of it together creates a world you don’t want to leave when the book ends. I am so glad I discovered this author and I cannot wait for her next book”—Mary—Review on Amazon.com

Read excerpts from all of the books written by Chris Pavesic on Amazon.

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. Learn more about Chris on her website.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 12:40 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

March 8, 2017

Memories Are Funny Things

by Elliott Baker

Yes, they are. Sometimes they’re there when we want them, and sometimes they’re not. Unless you’re one of those eidetic folks who can remember every minute of their lives, early memories are often of higher emotional occurrences like birthdays or the time you broke your arm. I grew up with four sisters and brothers and for whatever the reasons, we rarely went out to eat. When we did, it was usually a special occasion. As a food lover, something about being in a restaurant has always been magical to me and has served as an anchor for more memories than I might have been able to recall without.

One of my favorite memories was dinner at Patti’s. This large, many roomed, Italian restaurant was a staple of Jacksonville, Florida dining. The people were friendly, the atmosphere, at least to a twelve-year-old boy was about as elegant as possible, and the food was good and more important to my twelve-year-old memory, plentiful.

If you were there for your birthday, you were served a small everything pizza. I was assured by my father we didn’t have to be there on the exact day of someone’s birthday. In fact we sometimes missed it by months. The restaurant didn’t seem to be concerned, and neither did I. Great pizza.

This restaurant is where I was first introduced to chicken parmesan which I have loved ever since. My memory of the dish combines the excitement of being there with the actual preparation of the food, but given how busy the restaurant was, I don’t think its popularity was due only to the free birthday pizza.

I came across this a while ago and would like to share it with you.

Restaurant reviews
Thursday, March 1, 2001

Duplicating Sauce an Inexact Science

By Dan Macdonald
Jacksonville Times-Union food editor

“Here’s the sad truth — you won’t be able to replicate Patti’s famous Boneless Chicken Parmesan at home.

This dish was the most popular menu item during the restaurant’s history, nightly outselling everything else 3 to 1, said John Patti, grandson of founder Peter Patti and a former chef.

You won’t be able to make the sauce exactly as it was made in the restaurant. It’s doubtful that you’ll want to buy a large round of goat’s milk Romano cheese to hand grind. It’s unfathomable that someone would go to the trouble of making bread from scratch just for the bread crumbs.

————–

PATTI’S STYLE SAUCE

Place all ingredients in a large pot and stir together. Simmer on low heat for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

4 (10-ounce) cans tomato puree
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons salt
24 ounces water
Pepper to taste

Yield: 2 quarts.

Source: John Patti.

—————

Or maybe Patti is just being coy.

When asked for the recipe, Patti said he didn’t know it. At least he didn’t know how to make it in anything less than 15-gallon quantities. As unbelievable as it sounds, he doesn’t make it at home for the family.

“I have a [bottled sauce] that I use, Classico Four Cheeses Di Parma, It’s a little more seasoned than what we used at the restaurant, but it is pretty good stuff,” Patti said.

While he wouldn’t give us a specific recipe, he did describe how to make the Chicken Parmesan.

First, the sauce (an approximation of the recipe follows). It is made from a thick tomato puree. The restaurant would buy it in No. 10-size cans. The puree had to be thick enough so that if you stuck a kitchen knife into the center, it would stand up.

The puree was diluted somewhat with water and seasoned lightly (a light hand is necessary) with oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. It is then covered and left to simmer for five to six hours.
That’s it. However, the quantities remain a mystery. Patti suggests preparing 2-quarts of sauce (enough for four servings of Chicken Parmesan and some spaghetti side dishes).

Patti’s served a whole chicken breast. When it was de-boned, they left them connected at the top. When served, the breast halves were pushed together to give the appearance of a super large half-breast.
The chicken was dredged in flour then an egg wash and then in dried bread crumbs.

At the restaurant, the chicken was deep fried, though pan frying at home in a good vegetable oil is more practical.

Once the chicken is fried, it is placed in a baking dish and then lightly covered with the tomato sauce (it shouldn’t be smothered), dusted with the Romano cheese and the covered with a rather thin slice of provolone cheese. The provolone should be so thin that when placing it on top of the fingertips, you can see the fingers make an indentation without tearing it.

Place under the broiler long enough to allow the cheeses to melt and blend together with the sauce.

But wait, where’s the Parmesan?

“You got it,” Patti said. “You discovered the secret. We left out the Parmesan. That’s what put us on the map.”

Now while you mull over why Patti decided to leave out the Parmesan, how about a brief intro to my action adventure story? I hope you like it.

For three thousand years a hatred burns. In seventeenth century France two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue an incarnation begun long ago.

In ancient Egypt, there were two brothers, disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When the pharaoh died, the physician took the knowledge given and went to Greece to begin the mystery school. The general made a deal with the priests and became pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.

The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.

After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.

Read more on Amazon.

Award winning, international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy.

A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott’s Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

Sloane said @ 12:57 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

March 1, 2017

WINTER COMFORT FOOD

by Sara Daniel

Need something warm and a little sweet for these cold winter nights? How about butternut squash casserole. Preparing the squash is a bit of work, but the end result is so worth it.

Butternut Squash Casserole
1 butternut squash
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. flour
3 eggs
¼ cup margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Microwave squash for 5-7 minutes. Skin, cut in half, scoop out seeds and cut into big chunks. Cook in pot of boiling water for about 15 minutes, until tender. Drain and mash.

Combine all ingredients in 9 X 13 inch dish.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Topping
8 oz. vanilla wafers
½ cup margarine, melted
1 cup brown sugar

Crush vanilla wafers. Combine wafers, margarine, and brown sugar. Spread over cooked casserole and bake for 5 more minutes.

Here’s a little teaser from my contemporary romance for your reading pleasure.

Love is his enemy…and her answer.

A nationally televised bombshell revealing a secret son turns marriage therapist Caleb Paden’s life upside down. While others focus on the public relations disaster for his company, he can only think of rescuing his baby and providing the stable home dictated by his marriage theories—one devoid of love and emotions.

Olivia Wells might not be the baby’s biological mother, but she loves him as much as any parent could. Letting him go will break her heart. Letting him go to a man who doesn’t believe in love will tear her apart.

As she helps Caleb bond with his child, Olivia finds herself falling for the man behind the stuffy therapist persona. However, he wants nothing to do with her love and emotions, and those are the only things she has to give. If she can’t convince him love is the answer, not the enemy, she will lose both the baby she loves and her heart.

EXCERPT
“Scones?” He recoiled as if she’d announced the kitchen teemed with roaches.

“You don’t like them?” She set the tin on the side table and arranged the dishes of butter and strawberry preserves.

“No.”

She bit her tongue over the urge to tell him how much she detested his books. “I use a recipe my grandmother brought over from Scotland. I serve plain scones along with two other flavors of the day.”

“Coffee will suffice.” He picked up his cup. “Thank you, Olivia, for your hospitality. I’m in need of a room tonight for myself and my, uh, son. A suite would be best, if possible. I’ll pay the going rate, naturally.”

He had no idea what “going rate” she offered to misguided marriage therapists. Not that it mattered. Whether he paid for his stay or not, he had to sleep under her roof. The storm didn’t leave either of them a choice. And she had plenty of rooms. Her other scheduled guests for the week had cancelled due to the weather. “Of course you need to stay. But Liam already has his own room and he’s currently asleep there.”

“From now on, he’ll stay with me.”

Her heart fell to the pit of her stomach. “Dr. Paden, you’re chilled and must have had a terrible drive. Why don’t you relax and worry about yourself this evening. Liam is on a schedule where he goes to sleep before dinner and sleeps through to the early morning. I’ll introduce you to him then.”

He set down his coffee cup with an ominous clank. “I didn’t come here for coffee and scones. I came for my son. Take me to him now.”

She clasped her shaking hands behind her back. She had no legal claim to Liam. But how could she give up the child she loved to such an overbearing, pompous ass?

BUY LINKS:
AmazonBarnes & NobleKoboiBooksGooglePlay

Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Sloane said @ 12:04 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments

February 22, 2017

DOLCE – Italian for Sweet

from Alicia Joseph

And that’s just what this dessert recipe for one of my favorite cookies is, sweet and so good. I know you all will love them. Not only are they tasty, but they are easy to whip up. Make a double batch because they won’t last long when your family gets a taste.

Ricotta Cookies
2 sticks margarine
1 lb Ricotta
3 eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar

Preheat 350 degrees° F.

Mix all ingredients together. Drop onto lightly greased pan by tablespoonful.

Bake 12-15 minutes.

Frosting
Powder sugar
Vanilla extract
Milk
Sprinkles, optional

Mix the three ingredients to your desired consistency. Spread on cooled cookies.

Enjoy!

How about a teaser from one of Alicia’s novellas while the cookies cool?

Madison Andrews has spent her entire life ~unsuccessfully~ searching for love. She begins having vivid dreams of the same woman every night, and soon, Madison believes this woman is the love she has been searching for. Madison’s dreams become more intense and she realizes the dreams she’s having recreate moments taken from actual events from her life ~~ and this woman is there for all of it. Madison searches for her, but how can she find a woman she knows everything about… and yet nothing? She doesn’t even know her name.

EXCEPT
Now, I laid down my fork and leaned into my seat. I knew she didn’t want to talk about this anymore, but I did. “This all sounds crazy to you, and maybe in the beginning, it was something to joke about, but now, I’m not sure. These pictures were taken directly out of my life, and this woman was in every one of them. You can’t tell me I just dreamed it from memory, because my memory isn’t that good! The photos were identical all the way from the clothes we wore, to the smile on our faces. Hell, even the background was the same! She was the only thing that was different. How could that be?”

I stared at her, waiting for a response as she took it all in.

“Like I said on the phone, I just don’t know what you want me to say. I’m not sure what you’re asking me. Is it weird? Yeah, totally, but I’m no dream expert, and neither are you. Like I said before, maybe it’s your subconscious taking over. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation, and it probably has some fancy scientific name.”

“She’s my wife,” I said flatly. “I saw a picture of us from our wedding, and we looked like we belonged together. We know each other. I mean, really know each other. I wish you could see us together, because you’ve never seen me this way with anyone before.”

“And what way is that?”

“In love,” I answered.

“In love,” Shelly repeated and then pushed herself away from the table.

“Well, Maddy, me seeing you with her is something that will never happen. Do you wanna know why that will never happen?”

“I know why you think that will never happen, but that’s where you’re
wrong.” I stared at her and said, “I’m just gonna come out and say it. I think she’s real.”

Shelly took a deep breath and pored over her food. “Maddy, Maddy, Maddy. What are you saying? This is crazy! I’m back to thinking these dreams are about your mom, because this is way beyond not getting laid. You lost a woman you loved, you miss her, and now you’re trying to replace all those things you miss about her with this other woman.”

Shaking my head, I said, “If this was just about me missing my mom,
then why wouldn’t I just dream of my mom? There’d be no reason for this
woman to be in my dreams if it were just about my mom.”

I watched a look of frustration cross Shelly’s face as she ran a hand
through her hair. “You said you were at your dad’s today. How’s he doing?”

“Wow, that was a very obvious subject change,” I pointed out.

“I’m sorry, Maddy, but I’m having a real hard time digesting this food and your dreams at the same time. I need a fucking break.”

“Fine, but don’t use my dad as an excuse to change the subject.”

She touched my arm. “I’m serious. How’s he doing?”

I looked at her. “He’s desperately lost without her, and I don’t know how to make him better. Of course, I knew it would be hard for him to move on, but I thought eventually he would.”

“Maddy, it’s only been eight months. Give the man some time.”

“But he’s only getting worse. She was the love of his life, and he can’t live without her. Until I started having these dreams, I’ve never experienced that kind of love before and what it felt like to have someone to come home to, or someone to comfort you while you cry in their arms and take care of you when you lose your mom to cancer. The love he misses is the love I have with this woman.”

Shelly kicked the chair out from underneath her and came toward me. “What are you saying?” she yelled. “That you love this woman the same way your father loved your mom? Madison, that is ridiculous. It is not the same!”

I shoved myself away from the table and stormed across the room. “Maybe not here, in real life, but in my dreams it is! We were married! I saw the picture of us. We had a life together. We’d known each other a long time. I can feel it. Hell, my brother graduated from the academy eleven years ago, and she was in the pictures! Eleven years ago!” I stopped and took a deep breath. “If you could see these pictures, you’d understand. It isn’t just about the mere fact that she was in them, but it’s about how close she looked with my family. She was a part of my life.”

Shelly cocked her head and gave me a challenging look. “So you’ve known each other for a long time, you and this woman in your dreams. The two of you shared some great life together, yet you don’t even know her name. Madison, real people have names.”

To read more of HER NAME, please click onto Amazon.

Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. Her first novella, Her Name, was published by Musa Publishing in 2014. Her Name is a sweet, romantic story about a woman who believes the beautiful woman she dreams about is the real love of her life.

Loving Again is her second published novella. Alicia is currently working on a new novel called A Penny on the Tracks, a coming of age story about love and friendship. Alicia has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon.

When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews.

Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 1:00 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

February 15, 2017

A TASTY MEMORY FROM HOME

by Sharon Ledwith

When I began writing The Last Timekeepers Time Travel series, I wrote it with the intention of creating a nostalgic, good old days feeling to take tweens and teens (and hopefully many adults too) on an adventure in time that would keep them reading, smiling, and begging for more books. That said, I made sure that each book also included a scene involving food to allow my characters a chance to rest and mull over what has taken place so far during their Timekeeper mission—think family chats at the dinner table after a long day or those Sunday family get-togethers at supper. Call me sentimental, but there’s something about mixing food with a fun read!

This recipe is among one of my favorites my mother used to prepare for family get-togethers or the holidays. With a melt-in-your-mouth texture, this dish is sure to put a smile on any face—even those who cringe at the thought of broccoli or cauliflower on their plates. Easy to prepare with a prep time of fifteen minutes and cook time of approximately sixty minutes, this supreme cheesy feast serves around six of your famished family members or hungry guests.

Supreme Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cheese Casserole
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can golden mushroom soup
1 can mushrooms (pieces and stems)
1 tbsp. butter
Half and half cream
Head of Cauliflower
Bunch of Broccoli
Dash of paprika

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut broccoli and cauliflower into bite size pieces. Drop into a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Drain the vegetables well and set aside.

Fry mushrooms lightly in butter until browned.

Empty cans of soup into a saucepan and add one can of half and half cream. Stir until smooth. Set stove to medium heat. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture just to the boil.

Place vegetables in lightly greased casserole dish. Pour mushrooms and soup mixture over the vegetables. Garnish with paprika if desired.

Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil to brown, then cook for another 20-30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Since you’ve got some wiggle room to relax, why not set your butt in the closest cozy chair, and crack open one of The Last Timekeepers books?

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:
MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHINGAMAZONAMAZON.CABARNES & NOBLE

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:
MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHINGAMAZONBARNES & NOBLE

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:
MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHINGAMAZONBARNES & NOBLE

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE.

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Sloane said @ 1:29 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

February 8, 2017

Add a Little Wicked to Your Valentine’s Day

by Leigh Goff

The strawberry. Could there be a more perfect food for Valentine’s Day? It is as red and heart-shaped as a Valentine and also a symbol of the goddess of love herself, Venus. According to folklore, if a double strawberry is halved and shared with the target of your affection, you will fall in love with each other.

Here is a wickedly delicious recipe that even Sophie, my sixteen year-old witch protagonist from my debut fantasy romance, Disenchanted, would make for her true love using fresh strawberries picked from her aunt’s enchanted garden. Please enjoy the excerpt that follows.

Photo by Ambro

Wickedly Delicious Strawberries
2 pints strawberries, with stems if possible
1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (or milk chocolate chips)
2 tbsp. corn syrup
6 tbsp. butter

Wash strawberries and pat dry. Place on paper towels until they reach room temperature.

Melt chocolate chips, corn syrup, and butter in a double boiler, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and dip each strawberry into chocolate, coating ⅔ of berry. Allow excess chocolate to drip off into pan.

Place stem side down on waxed paper covered baking pan or cookie sheet. Refrigerate until set, about 15-20 minutes.

Yields approximately 28 strawberries.

Recipe courtesy of Food.com

Here’s the excerpt to enjoy while your strawberries are chilling.

He grinned his seductive grin, letting me glimpse his dangerous streak. Most likely a family trait and I had to make sure I didn’t forget it was there. He did seem different from them, not as affected from the poison running through their veins.

“I’m curious about you.”

My heart pleaded with my head to ignore the doubts and questions, to be in the moment and believe it was possible. “I love my garden, but this is what I like the most about Wethersfield. Right here. Where the star-crossed lovers are buried. Their story…well, it’s an interesting one.”

His lips pursed. He drew back, dejected. “Their story? Their story is a tragedy. One of many in the Mather family history.”

“The end is tragic, but it’s still a love story and this tree…” I raised my hand, admiring its lushness. “It’s a symbol of their forbidden love. Centuries with no berries and now look at it.” The mulberry swayed with the breeze as if it were dancing. The branches flaunted multitudes of pale, red berry clusters that had begun to ripen for the first time. I liked to think the tree was finally done mourning, but I had no idea why it picked this year of all its three hundred plus years.

“You sound like you believe in happy endings.”

“I want to. Don’t you?” He was kind of young to be tainted, I thought. My mind drifted to the possibility he had been jilted by a beautiful duchess during his time in London.

“Like I said, I come from a long line of tragedy in my family.”

I bit my lip for a second. He was right about that. For as long as we knew his family, they had been dropping dead, and usually in the prime of their lives, except for the really mean ones like the reverend, and his father and Zeke. “You know you have to fight for your own happy ending. You have to will it to happen.”

His eyes held mine, leaving me breathless again. I struggled to think straight.
“I’d bet you’re good at willing things to happen.”

A tendril of sable hair tickled my cheek. I brushed it away. “I’m good at making mistakes. Lots of mistakes.”

His eyebrows furrowed with disbelief. “You make it rain flower petals, yet you wallow in self-pity?”

He was aware I created the storm of blossoms. Crud. Of course, he was. There was no good explanation for it. My stomach sank. “I…uh…uh.”

He grinned, not fazed at all by what I could do. “How would you feel about having me as a friend, Sophie?”

My heart fluttered when he said my name, but I glanced at him curiously, not understanding what he was offering. “I choose my friends carefully.” I thought back to my dream last night. I wasn’t afraid of him, but how could I trust him?

He grimaced from my pause. His threw his hands out in front of him. “Look, I know you hate my family. And we haven’t exactly gotten along swimmingly, but I was thinking, it might be easier for both of us if we could find some middle ground.”

Incredulity colored my tone. “You want to be friends?”

“Why not?” he replied.

I shook my head. “Surprisingly weird.”

“Me?”

“Your suggestion.”

“It’s not weird at all.” He extended his hand to me as if he were serious. “Shake on it.”

My heart yearned for his touch, but it wrestled against the logic from my head. “I can’t.” I glanced around, knowing that since the Wethersfield Witch Trials, minus the rare exceptions, witches were forbidden to enter into any kind of a relationship with ordinaries, especially the Mathers. “This is crazy. Our families are enemies and…and I hate you.” My lips tingled from the devil’s bit, confirming what I already felt. It was a lie. I didn’t hate him at all. In fact, I feared it was the opposite. “Tell me what you really want from me.” I subtly pointed my finger in his direction. “Verum,” I whispered in a hushed voice, attempting to cast a truth spell on him. The magic trickled out. I watched for a change in his focus, but as I watched him, a heart shape carved into the bark of the mulberry’s tree trunk behind him. My eyes popped. I closed my mouth, still staring at the engraving. “Wha?” I uttered in disbelief. Mishaps were guaranteed when I was near him.

“What do I want from you?” he repeated back to me, unaware of my fail.

I averted my eyes, feeling ridiculous.

“I want you to be you. You’ve got everyone thinking you’re thoroughly
ordinary when you’re the farthest thing from it.”

I peered up at his beautiful face from beneath my lashes. Did he see
through me? Did he really know what I was? “What would your father think about you wanting to be my friend?”

“It’s no one’s business but ours.”

“Ours? Like you and me together?” My brow crinkled. “A secret friendship?” I tried to ignore my quickening pulse. Everything in me wanted to believe him. My head railed against the idea. I would be breaking rules and there would be consequences.

He stepped closer. “I think we’re both good at keeping secrets. Why not one more?”

I swallowed hard. “You seem to have everything, including a terror for a brother who’s got your back. Why do you need a friend?”

“Everyone needs a friend.”

He held his hand out, wanting me to shake it while his eyes held me tight. In that moment, dizziness crept in and an overwhelming feeling of falling from a cliff followed. The intensity of it scared me. I put my hand up in a stop motion and pressed my other hand to my stomach, hoping the plummeting sensation would pass. I backed away. My head and heart tore away at each other. “I can’t do this.”

His face bore a forlorn expression. “You’re right. I’m playing with fire, a bad habit of mine. This was stupid of me. I’m sorry.”

Curiosity creased in my brow. “What do you mean ‘playing with fire’?”

His eyes, holding tight to his secret, burned through me. “I mean you. I’m pretending I can control something that’s out of my control. I can’t be around you without getting burned, yet I’m completely drawn to you.” He parted his soft lips. “Like a moth to the flame.”

Buy Links:
Mirror World PublishingAmazon

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Sloane said @ 1:23 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

February 1, 2017

TOFFEE FOR YOUR VALENTINE

by Sara Daniel

Buying your valentine chocolates? Yep, you and millions of other shmucks.

Going with flowers? Ditto. Sorry.

How about making a sweet for your sweetie this year? It’s sweet, chocolate-y, and easy to make. And the personal effort is worth far more than that bouquet of roses you were eyeing.

Chocolate Toffee
1 ½ cups butter
1 ½ cups sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
Pinch salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped almonds
½ cup chopped pecans
Sea salt

Combine butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a saucepan over medium heat for 12-15 minutes, stirring constantly with a spatula.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spread toffee mixture. Top with chocolate chips. When chips begin to melt, spread chocolate over toffee.

Sprinkle with almonds, pecans, and/or sea salt.

Refrigerate for 1 hour then break into pieces.

Serve with a Sara Daniel romance for the sexiest Valentine’s Day ever!

He’s supposed to be the town hero. He’s not!
Haunted by comrades he was unable to save, Drake Miller walks away from his military career for the relaxed, quiet life of running his father’s bar in Regret Hollow. Too bad no one tipped him off that his father sold the bar.
While the townspeople treat him to a hero’s welcome that he doesn’t want and doesn’t deserve, he finds one person who doesn’t fall at his feet, calls him out for bad behavior, and kisses like a fantasy. Unfortunately, she also owns the bar that was supposed to be his.
As a single mom and small business owner, Mallory Marquette takes her commitments and responsibilities seriously. She can’t give away her livelihood just because Drake thinks he’s entitled to it—even if he is the town hero and the first man in a decade who gets her blood flowing. Besides, she needs a reliable bartender much more than she needs a lover.
Can this hero turned bad boy step up to a lifetime commitment, or will the freedom he sacrificed so much for cost him everything?

Buy links:
AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunesKoboGoogle Play


Sara Daniel writes what she loves to read—irresistible romance, from sweet to erotic and everything in between. She battles a serious NASCAR addiction, was once a landlord of two uninvited squirrels, and loses her car keys several times a day.

Learn more about Sara on her website and blog. Subscribe to Sara’s newsletter.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Sloane said @ 1:25 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking,Holidays | Comments are off

January 25, 2017

A WARM TASTE OF ITALY

A small bowl of hot soup is an excellent starter to any meal. You can also enjoy soup for lunch or dinner by adding a salad and fresh bread. This hearty recipe works great for all situations. Add a glass of crisp white wine and enjoy!

Minestrone (Vegetable) Soup

½ cup dry white beans, navy or Great Northern
4 tbsp. butter
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup zucchini, unpeeled, scrubbed and diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup red potatoes, diced
⅓ cup celery, diced
5 strips bacon, diced
¼ cup onion, chopped
½ cup leeks (or substitute onions), chopped fine
2 cups drained diced tomatoes
2 quarts chicken stock, homemade or canned
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup rice

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a heavy 3-to 4-quart saucepan. Add the beans and boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour. Return the pan to the stove, and over low heat simmer the beans uncovered for 1-1½ hours, or until they are barely tender. Drain the beans and set aside.

Melt the butter over moderate heat in a heavy 10-to 12- inch skillet. When the foam subsides, add the peas, zucchini, carrots, potatoes, and celery. Toss constantly with a wooden spoon to coat the vegetables. Cook 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

Fry the bacon in a heavy 6-to8-quart saucepan over moderate heat until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels, but retain the grease in the pot. Stir in the onion and leeks. Continue to stir until the vegetables are soft and lightly brown, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, vegetables from the skillet, chicken stock, bay leaf, parsley, and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered for 25 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Add the rice, beans, and bacon. Cook 15 – 20 minutes longer.

Garnish
½ tbsp. dried basil
½ tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. garlic, chopped fine
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients into a small bowl. Stir well.

To Serve
Ladle into individual bowls. Sprinkle with herb/garlic mixture. Pass a bowl of grated cheese.

Leftovers freeze well.

Serves 8

May you enjoy all the days of your life around a well laden table!

Sloane Taylor
Twitter
Amazon Author Page

Sloane said @ 12:37 am | Cooking | Comments are off

January 23, 2017

IN THE NAVY

They never eat a Bean Soup as good as the one Regency Romance and Cozy Mystery author Emma Lane prepares. Emma brings us a delicious and easy recipe for a hearty soup sure to keep you warm. The kitchen is all yours, Emma!

Navy Bean Soup

2 strips bacon
1 med, onion, chopped
3 cups water
1 med. white potato, peeled and cubed
1 can navy or great northern beans, drained
1 clove fresh garlic, chopped fine (optional)

Sauté’ onion and bacon until onion is pearly-colored and bacon is crisp. Crumble bacon and add both to pot.

Stir in water, beans, potato, and garlic.

Simmer for at least an hour. Stir occasionally. Do not add more water before serving.

Top the serving with a spoonful of grated cheese or a dollop of sour cream.

Serve with a pear salad and a loaf of French bread or hard rolls.

Pear Salad
l can pears halves or slices, drained
lettuce
dollop of sour cream
sprinkle of nutmeg

Assemble on individual salad plates. Chill until ready to serve.

While you’re waiting for everyone to come home for dinner, here’s a teaser from one of my Regency books.

What happens when a strong heroine meets an arrogant, but handsome hero? Sparks fly. It’s a Regency Romance Romp!

Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.

The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?

Amazon Buy Link

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 1:11 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

January 18, 2017

A HOT BEVERAGE FIT FOR THE QUEEN

by Suzanne G. Rogers

Whenever I’m writing Victorian-era English romance, I will often consult Mrs. Beeton’s The Book of Household Management (1861), for ideas on how things were done. Mrs. Isabella Mary Beeton was the Martha Stewart of the age, writing a highly-plagiarized cookery column for “The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.” Her book covers diverse topics such as household duties, dining, kitchens, servants, doctors, and the rearing of children, as well as detailed recipes for everything from soup to nuts. I’ve downloaded the manuscript onto my computer from Project Gutenberg, which makes it available to everyone in all different formats HERE.

Since it’s winter, I thought I would share one of Mrs. Beeton’s recipes for Hot Punch, which sounds perfectly delicious and terribly intoxicating.

TO MAKE HOT PUNCH

INGREDIENTS.— ½ pint of rum, ½ pint of brandy, ¼ lb. of sugar, 1 large lemon, ½ tspoonful of nutmeg, 1 pint of boiling water.

Mode.— Rub the sugar over the lemon until it has absorbed all the yellow part of the skin, then put the sugar into a punchbowl; add the lemon-juice (free from pips), and mix these two ingredients well together. Pour over them the boiling water, stir well together, add the rum, brandy, and nutmeg; mix thoroughly, and the punch will be ready to serve. It is very important in making good punch that all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated; and, to insure success, the processes of mixing must be diligently attended to.

Sufficient.— Allow a quart for 4 persons; but this information must be taken cum grano salis; for the capacities of persons for this kind of beverage are generally supposed to vary considerably.

Enjoy the punch over a copy of my latest sweet Victorian romance, Spinster.

Staring down life as an old maid, newly jilted Clare flees to a country home she’s inherited from her grandmother. She doesn’t count on clashing with her handsome neighbor, whose gentlemanly manners and education are at odds with his workingman’s image. As their relationship unfolds, however, she discovers the mysterious Meriweather Holcroft is not what he appears to be.

Suzanne’s historical Victorian YA book is available January 31, 2017 for your Kindle at Amazon.

Suzanne G. Rogers lives with her husband and son in romantic Savannah, Georgia, on an island populated by deer, exotic birds, and the occasional gator. She’s owned by two Sphynx cats, Houdini and Nikita. Movies, books, and writing are her passions.

Learn more about Suzanne G. Rogers on her historical romance blog and her fantasy blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Also, be sure to check out the website for the Sweet Romance written by Suzanne G. Rogers.

Sloane said @ 1:34 am | Author Friend New Releases,Cooking | Comments are off