Archive for the 'Cooking' Category

Highlights from a Sicilian Kitchen

September 4, 2019

Sloane said @ 12:34 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

Love from a Sicilian Kitchen

from Gina Briganti

If you’re reading a fantasy romance about an Italian woman (Elena Zucchero in Deep in the Dreaming), written by a woman who is half Sicilian (Gina Briganti), then you deserve to taste delicious, authentic Sicilian food.

This sugo (gravy, sauce) is a modified version of the one I grew up smelling on Sunday mornings when my dad made baked pasta. The sauce was simmering for a good two hours before I woke up in my bedroom three rooms away from the kitchen. You know my dad was a genius in the kitchen because it took that level of cooking to get teenagers out of their rooms before noon on the weekends.

Waking up to this smell after visiting our neighborhood Italian grocery store the day before to buy fresh focaccia meant quickly making myself presentable and rushing to the kitchen to ladle sugo on a slice of bread and eating it over the stove.

It was a big pot of sauce.

Elena makes her sugo just like I do, and it’s close to how my dad made his, and his mother made it before him, and her mother before her. It may go back further than that, but those are the stories I heard.

I hope you enjoy every minute it takes to make this dish because you and everyone in smelling distance of your home will be by later to say hello, bring a gift, return the blender they borrowed, etc.

One look at the directions and you’ll know why we make it on Sunday.

Image by AURELIE LUYLIER from Pixabay

SAUCE
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 head of garlic, crushed
2 6 oz. cans organic tomato paste
45 oz. can organic tomato sauce
⅓ cup nutritional yeast or Pecorino Romano if you can eat dairy products
2 tbsp. Italian herb blend
2 tsp. red chili flakes
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large yellow onion
1 carrot, cut in half (to balance the acid from the tomatoes. This is in place of the sugar my family uses.

Sauté garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat (3 on my electric stove) until garlic is cooked. This is when your house starts to smell amazing. Add tomato paste to garlic and cook until the tomato starts to caramelize.

Add tomato sauce, nutritional yeast, herbs, mushrooms, water, chile flakes, whole onion, and carrots to the pot. Simmer, covered, for a minimum of two hours to infuse those flavors together. I leave the onion in until it starts to fall apart and the carrot in until it is cooked through. When we were growing up we would try to time it so we could get some of the cooked onion on our bread along with the sugo.

Stir occasionally.

The sugo is ready when the onion falls apart.

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

ROASTED EGGPLANT
1 Eggplant
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

While your sugo is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash eggplant and slice into ½ inch slices. Brush each slice with evoo.

Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for fifteen minutes. Test to see if its cooked through by piercing with a fork. If the fork won’t go through, turn the eggplant over and cook for another ten minutes.

Repeat the process until its fork tender. Eat a couple of slices when no one’s looking. I call this the cook’s fee. Guard the eggplant until it’s time to assemble the pasta because some paisan (Italian friend) is going to try to steal some, too.

Cool eggplant. Cut each round into quarters.

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay 

PASTA
Cook pasta al dente (leave some bite in it) in boiling water for about seven minutes. It will cook more as the pasta bakes.

Pour pasta into a colander and then rinse with cold water to remove the starch.

BAKED PASTA
Mix pasta with finished sugo (which means you’ve removed the onion and the carrots and the sauce smells like heaven) and eggplant and then spoon into a casserole that you have a lid for.

Bake covered at 350° F for 45 minutes.

Mangia! (eat!)

Now for a little about Elena’s fantasy romance.

Deep in the Dreaming - High Resolution[1316]

A parallel world. A trapped soul. To save her friends, they’ll battle addiction, magic, and eternity…

Elena Zucchero has lived and lost in reality. Now she fills her heart through her work as a hypnotherapist by helping her patients improve their lives. But when a nightmare plagues her sleep, she learns her friends have gone missing in an addictive alternate plane. And the only way to save them may require feeding the demons of her handsome new client…

Draper Montgomery painfully resists the call of the Dreaming. But despite his dangerous cravings, he senses his enchanting therapist has a wound he can help heal. And to satisfy his heart’s desire, he may just have to risk the very foundation of his mind…

As Elena and Draper discover a deeper soul connection, the therapist struggles to keep her distance in the hunt for her friends. If the people she loves even want to be saved…

Will the perilous hunt to rescue her friends lose them their lives and their souls?

Deep in the Dreaming is the fourth standalone book in the captivating Natural Gifts paranormal romance series. If you like mysterious worlds, conflicted characters, and love that conquers all, then you’ll adore Gina Briganti’s enthralling tale.

Buy Deep in the Dreaming to slip into another world today!
AMAZON BUY LINK

Watch the YouTube video here.


Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

Visit her website and blog for book trailers, newsletter sign up, and whatever else she thinks up.

Stay connected on Facebook, Gina’s Amazon Author Page, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Thank you for reading!
Gina

Sloane said @ 12:30 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

Delicate and Delicious

August 28, 2019

from Carol Browne

Sponge cakes date all the way back to the Renaissance era and, some believe, the delicate treat originated in Spain. The cake was perfected over the centuries and was a favorite of Queen Victoria accompanied by a good cup of afternoon tea. This version is vegan as it omits eggs and trades butter for margarine. I’m confident the Queen would have enjoyed this version too.

SPONGE CAKE VEGAN STYLE
4oz./115g fat
3oz./85g coconut sugar
1 heaped tbsp. cane sugar
8oz./225g self-rising flour
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (baking powder)
5 oz./140ml warm water

CREAMED FILLING
2oz./55g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
vanilla essence (to your taste)
2oz./55g margarine
Raspberry or strawberry jam, optional

Preheat oven 400F° 200C/Gas 6.

Grease and flour 2 sandwich tins or small cake pans.

Melt fat and sugar in a small pan over low heat. Stir in flour.

Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in water and then stir into sugar blend. Carefully add more warm water if needed to make a soft mixture. Beat well.

Divide batter evenly between the 2 pans. Bake 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn out the sponges onto a wire rack to cool.

If you use jam, slather it on one or both cakes then top with creamed filling. If you prefer not to use jam, spread creamed filling on one of the sponges and then lay the second sponge on top.

Here’s a peek at my epic fantasy to enjoy with your tasty creation.

Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.

Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.

A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.

When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.

There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

EXCERPT
The night was waning when Elgiva woke, wondering where she was. The dark ceiling of Joskin’s cave hung above her, and everything had a reddish glow, cast by the embers of the fire. She slid from under the fur coverlet, her skin tightening at the loss of its warmth, and searched for her leather sandals.

Something had woken her, something that waited outside the cave. A runnel of dread ran down her spine.

She had an inexplicable sense of impending danger, but it was too insistent to ignore. An unnamed instinct stopped her from alerting her companions. She must face this menace alone.

She left the cave as quietly as she could. Her heart pounded in her throat as she peered between the rowan trees and searched the night. Whatever had awakened her, it beckoned. She held her breath and listened, but her ears detected nothing, save for a silence as dark and empty as an abandoned crypt.

It would soon be daybreak, but the sun had yet to rise, and the dark beyond the cave swarmed with potential horrors. She stepped out from among the rowans, relying on her acute senses to make out her surroundings. An unnatural calm gripped the night and as her sandals whispered against the cold grass, they sounded abnormally loud. She feared they would betray her presence.

After a while, she came to a stop and searched the trees. Thin strands of mist curled along the ground, cold and clammy, like an exhalation of sickness.

She hugged her shoulders, knotted her fingers in the cascade of her hair, and shivered in her ragged robe. All around her, the silence seemed to be drawing into focus.

“Who is it?” Her throat was too dry for her purpose. She swallowed and licked her lips. “Who’s there? I know you’re there. I can . . . I can feel you!”

Feel you.

A flash of silver sliced through the dark, and Elgiva gasped in fear. Her arms came up to shield her face as the beam struck a rock several yards ahead. It exploded with a whoosh and sent up thousands of splinters of light, which fell to the ground and sizzled in the mist.

A shape now stood upon the rock, its form concealed in a black, hooded cloak.

Elgiva clutched the amulet to her breast. Her hands were white with terror. “In the name of Faine, who are you? What sort of trick is this?”

A soft, sly voice spoke back to her. “Why should you fear magic?”

“What do you want?” she pleaded, her voice a croak of fear.

“To see for myself.”

“To see what?”

The dark shape sniggered, but made no answer. Instead, it swept its cloak aside, and a cloud of sparks flew out and covered the ground with beads of light.

Elgiva stepped back unsteadily, resolved to flee.

“Stay!” commanded the creature.

It raised a skeletal hand, and the forefinger swung towards Elgiva and pinned her against the darkness, holding her like a rivet of bone. No elf, no wilthkin, ever owned such a hand. Her legs threatened to buckle beneath her. This had to be a nightmare; she was still asleep in the cave. But no, it was all too real.

“Who are you? What do you want?” she cried. “I have . . . I have an amulet!”

The creature laughed derisively. “I am Death, and I have come for you.”

It began to radiate a sickly green light, enveloping itself in a caul of brilliance that pulsated with force. The light grew in size until the trees behind it were bathed in its angry glare. It reached for Elgiva, like a foul stench creeping along a breeze, and she was helpless. The creature’s power throbbed in the darkness.

Within the taut coils of her fear, her instincts screamed at her to run, but her limbs had turned to stone.

Siriol, Siriol, help me . . . help . . .

With a shriek of glee, the creature increased the throb of its power. Elgiva’s mind was suddenly invaded by an inexplicable force. She became divorced from herself and watched from a great distance, waiting for the horror to unfold.

Amazon Buy Link


Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Her non-fiction book is available at Dilliebooks.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 12:22 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

From Garden to Freezer

August 21, 2019

by Tina Griffith

The season for fruits and vegetables to go into jars, cans, or the freezer, is almost upon us. This is what I do with fresh carrots. The method is easy and the carrots are tasty! I’m sure you’ll like them.

Tina’s Tasty Carrots

1 lb. carrots, scrapped and trimmed
2 gloves garlic, diced
8 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
2 – 3 tbsp. dried cilantro*

Cut carrots in half if long and wash them under cool water. Drop them into a pot of water, cover, and bring the pot to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, this is called parboiling. Works great with all root vegetables.

Warm garlic, butter, and cilantro in a frying pan on medium heat. *I use cilantro because my husband is from Costa Rica, but you can use Italian or regular parsley if that’s better for you.

Add carrots. Allow them to simmer for a minute or two on each side, and then remove them to a cool dish. Be sure to scrape all the sauce over them.

After they are room temperature, I add them into medium-size freezer bags, making sure they lay flat. I also make sure to put two servings into each bag – one for my husband and one for me.

I want to stress the fact that the carrots need to lay flat when you put them into the freezer baggies. This helps them to get to the same temperature at the same time. Maybe it doesn’t matter to everyone, but I have OCD and it’s important for food safety.

The day you want to use the carrots, remove them from the plastic bag and place them into an ovenproof dish. Turn the oven on 350° F, and then prepare the rest of your meal. When dinner is ready to serve, so are your carrots.

Here’s a peek at my latest romantic thriller. I hope you enjoy it!

On Hallow’s Eve, as the veil between the two worlds was thinning, the face of the full moon was lit up like a Christmas tree. The dead would soon come alive, the alive would dress up as the dead, and witchcraft had a way of piggybacking off other spells. This was the ideal night to be a witch, for the effectiveness of all incantations, divinations, and other avenues of magic, was perfect.

Jayla is a clever witch, who had been cursed in her teens by her friend, Ophelia. Since then, she has had to retrieve dark souls from shrewd men in order to survive. While she has taken hundreds of souls in her lifetime, this story is about her trying to take the one which belongs to Roger Casem – the man she accidentally fell in love with.

Could she kill him, as she had done with the others? If she wanted to continue living, she must. But today, when his eyes skimmed her body with unbelievable passion, she began to recognize her own needs. As she blushed and turned her face away from him, Jayla did the only thing she could.

AMAZON


Tina Griffith, who also wrote twenty-seven children’s books as Tina Ruiz, was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school.

After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister’s scary biography.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Sloane said @ 12:23 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

Cool Lunch for a Hot Day

August 14, 2019

from Chris Pavesic

Looking for a refreshing meal to beat the summer heat? This healthy sandwich and smoothie duo has you covered.

This peanut butter sandwich forgoes jelly for fresh sliced pears.

Open-Faced Nut Butter Sandwich
1-2 slices of your favorite bread
Peanut butter or almond butter
Sliced pears
Raisins
Honey
Cinnamon

Toast your favorite bread; one slice to eat open-faced or two for a sandwich. Spread on nut butter and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle on a few raisins. Add sliced pears, enough to cover bread. Sprinkle top of pears with cinnamon and enjoy.

When the weather gets warm, is there anything more refreshing than a smoothie? This one sneaks in some healthy vegetables and chia seeds.

Ginger-Berry Smoothie with Chia Seeds
1½ cups frozen or fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries (extra for garish if desired
⅓ cup canned sliced beets (save extra beets for next smoothie) or leftover cooked beets
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. peeled and grated fresh ginger
Chia seeds

Combine all ingredients in a blender except chia seeds. Blend until smooth. Top with chia seeds and extra fruit if desired. Makes 1 serving.

Books available at Amazon.com or wherever books are sold.

4eee6-chris2bpavesic2bauthor2bphotoChris 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 and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.

Sloane said @ 12:02 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

A DELICIOUS WAY TO QUENCH YOUR THIRST

August 7, 2019

from Catherine Castle

Iced tea is summer’s classic drink. I thought it might be interesting to talk about the history of this popular drink before the summer slips away and also share my Nectarine Iced Tea recipe.

The history of tea reaches back to 2737 B.B. when, according to Chinese legend, Emperor Shen Nong accidently discovered tea when a leaf from a wild tea tree fell into a pot of water he was boiling in his garden. He enjoyed the flavor the leaf lent to the water so much that he began to brew it.

Iced tea, however, is much younger. The first recorded recipes in the U.S. for iced tea appeared in The Buckeye Cookbook in 1876 and in 1879 HouseKeeping in Old Virginia. The 1879 recipe, published by Marion Cabel Tyree, called for green tea to be boiled and steeped throughout the day. The liquid was then poured over ice and sugar and served with lemon.

The popularity of iced tea using black tea is believed to have started at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, where Richard Blechynden, the Commissioner of Tea for India and one of the fair’s directors, was exhibiting hot black tea. Because the temperatures were high, hot tea wasn’t selling. So, Blechynden brewed and chilled the tea, and thirsty fair visitors began buying. The trend caught on and by World War I iced tea appeared in the kitchens of Americans and in restaurants on a regular basis. Today, iced tea—black, green and herbal, in bottles, boxes and pitchers—is a staple on America’s menus.

Iced tea also appears on the tables in other countries, but many have a different take on the drink than Americans do. Here we have what most Southerners know as sweet tea, which is sugared, and regular iced tea—most common with Northerners, which is usually unsweetened. Tea drinkers have the option of adding a squeeze of lemon, or not.

In Brazil, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, mate tea, not the camellia sinensis tea associated with black tea, is the preferred drink for iced tea. Yerba mate dried leaves are boiled in water, then strained and served in cups.

Photo by Allie Smith Unsplash

Iced tea in Greece is usually flavored with peach or lemon. If you order peach tea, you’ll still get a lemon slice on the rim of the glass.

Ginger lemon, lemon and peach flavored teas are popular in India.

In Hong Kong tea is served with lemon slices that are crushed, releasing the volatile oils into the tea. There is also a milk tea version of iced tea made with green tea, flavored with jasmine blossoms and tapioca pearls. The tea is served warm and poured over ice, creating a creamy iced tea.

Taiwan has an interesting tea called Bubble Tea. This tea is usually a strong black tea, sweetened with sugar and condensed milk. It is served cold usually with tapioca pearls. Sometimes pudding, jelly, or chunks of fruit are put into it instead of tapioca pearls. Bubble tea can also be made with other types of tea.

Thailand iced tea is made from strongly brewed black tea, sweetened with sugar and condensed milk. Evaporated milk, coconut milk or whole milk are also used. The tea and milk are usually mixed together and then poured over the ice.

You might think that with tea time being a staple in the UK iced tea would be as popular there as in the rest of Europe. But not so. The popularity of iced tea in United Kingdom has only begun to rise since 2000.

Today, when you ask, “Would you like some iced tea?” Most people expect brewed black tea, with or without sugar and lemon. But plain old camellia sinensis isn’t the only option. With hundreds of flavored and herbal teas, the varieties of iced tea are only limited by one’s imagination.

At my house our favorite iced teas are decaffeinated Sun Tea, made by steeping tea bags in cold water using the heat of the sun to brew it, and hibiscus tea made from pouring boiling water over the dried flowers of the hibiscus plant. I’ve even begun putting my leftover morning tea, usually Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea or Irish tea with cream, into the refrigerator and drinking it cold later on in the day. I’m surprised at how tasty it is.

For your summer tea enjoyment, I’ve included a fruity iced tea recipe I developed. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Nectarine Iced Tea
4 peach flavored green tea bags
2 cups boiling water
1 ripe nectarine
2 fresh, sweet cherries with the stem, optional
Sugar or sweetener to taste

Place tea bags in a 2-cup heat-proof measuring cup. Pour boiling water into cup and steep tea bags according to directions.

Halve the nectarine and peel⅔ of the fruit. Reserving 2 peeled slices for garnish.

Slice the peeled nectarines into sections. Place ½ the sections into a bowl and crush the fruit to break down the flesh and release the juices.

Drop ¼ of the crushed nectarine into two 16-ounce glasses and stir well. Add ice and then remaining peeled nectarines.

Pour cooled tea over the ice and fruit in the glasses.

Garnish the glass edge with the unpeeled fruit and drop a fresh sweet cherry with the stem on into the top of the tea.

Add sugar or sweetener to taste. The riper the fruit the less sweetener you’ll need.

How about a peek at my latest sweet romance while you sip your refreshing tea?

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

EXCERPT
With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.

“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”

“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”

Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”

Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”

A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”

“And just how do you know?” she asked.

“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”
“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”

Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”

Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”

He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”

“I don’t want—”

“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”

Amazon Buy Link

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

Sloane said @ 12:53 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

Calorie Counting or Not – This Treat is for You

July 31, 2019

from Suzanne G. Rogers

A friend of mine invited me to a potluck, with the caveat that she was following a low-sugar diet to lose weight. I offered to bring dessert and began looking for a low-calorie pumpkin-based custard recipe on the Internet. I wanted to find something that didn’t require any artificial sweetener, and I found what I thought was the perfect recipe.

It was a disaster.

If your idea of delish is eating pumpkin puree with a spoon, that dessert would have been perfect for you. Therefore, I modified it into something tasty, without the cloying sweetness often found in pumpkin pies.

Image by Conger Design from Pixabay

Suzanne’s Pumpkin Custard
1 15oz. can pumpkin
4 eggs, beaten
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Fold pumpkin into eggs. Stir in milk, both vanillas, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar. Divide mixture into 4 small ovenproof bowls.

Be sure to use cooking spray on the inside of the baking dishes. I also use a squirt of cooking spray inside my measuring cup before I add the sweetened condensed milk, so it slides out better.

You can adjust the added sugar to taste, but this recipe as written comes out to just under 250 calories per serving. Best served cold, but I’ve eaten it warm because I couldn’t wait and it was good then, too. I’ve also eaten it for breakfast as well as dessert because I’m a grown person and I can do what I like.

Add a dollop or two of whipped topping, or for something really scrumptious, make a batch of vanilla sugar-free pudding and put a few tablespoons on top before you dig in. Of course, you’ll also be adding more calories, but the vanilla pudding makes for a really nice treat.

For another calorie-free treat, pick up my Victorian-era romance, Duke of a Gilded Age. The sweetness is built into the story, so it won’t go to your hips.

When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril and will cost more than one man his life.

Duke of a Gilded Age is available at this Universal Link, Amazon, and Google Play.


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 her website for the Sweet Romance written by Suzanne G. Rogers.

Sloane said @ 12:52 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

Blackberries – Nature’s Treasure

July 24, 2019

from Carol Browne

In the USA, it’s Fall; in the UK, Autumn. Whatever you call it, it’s that time of year for mists and mellow fruitfulness and it’s the fruit that takes centre stage. We harvest an abundance of russet-coloured apples and use them for apple-bobbing and cider. Their colours echo the colours of the leaves. But Autumn has one other iconic fruit and that is the blackberry. It is dark and rich and guarded by thorny brambles, a treasure in the hedgerows that we must take care to harvest. For centuries this fruit has been picked and enjoyed in a variety of ways. It is an ancient source of nutrients and is extremely beneficial to health; the berries’ dark purple colour created by the antioxidants they contain.

Blackberries are an image important to the childhood memories of one of my main characters in The Exile of Elindel. It is strange to think of people picking blackberries for so many centuries. The continuity of this seasonal practice has continued regardless of what else has happened in the world. I myself live in the countryside where the opposite side of my road is entirely hedgerow and as I write this, it is one huge blackberry factory! Strangers have suddenly descended upon us to fill their buckets and baskets with fruit. We won’t see them at any other time of the year. I just hope they leave some for the birds who need them far more than these humans!

I’m sure elves love blackberries too.

Image by Emma Larocque from Pixabay

BLACKBERRY BRAMBLE SORBET
900 grams (4.5 cups) blackberries
1 whole lemon, with peel, chopped, remove seeds
1 lemon, juiced
425 grams (2 cups) castor sugar (superfine sugar in the USA)

Purée blackberries in a food processor. Add lemon bits, juice, and sugar.

Blend until well incorporated. Set in fridge and chill for 2 hours.

Place in an ice cream maker and churn until set.

No ice cream maker? No problem. Freeze the bramble in a metal pan. Scrape and stir the mixture every half hour for a 2 – 3 hours to create a fine ice.

Here is a little from my latest epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it.

Godwin’s adventures in Elvendom left him a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world.

In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. Who—or what—is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm?

And what has become of Elgiva?

Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help.
Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

EXCERPT

His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

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Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sloane said @ 12:36 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

FAMILY and FOOD

July 17, 2019

by Sharon Ledwith

The one theme I love to weave throughout my two book series is the importance of family. We hold each other tight when times are tough, and on the flip side we can tear each other apart during times of stress and worry. Food seems to be the source of comfort in all family matters.

Meals bring us together to celebrate, cry or support each other in so many ways. The characters in The Last Timekeepers young adult time travel adventure series were originally thrown together, despite their differences, and have had to learn how to act like a family by trusting and working with one another through each Timekeeper mission. In my Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls teen psychic mystery series, the main characters change with each book, but the setting remains the same, I focused on the tribal matters of the town, and what’s best for the whole. Again, my characters must overcome differences and obstacles in order to keep Fairy Falls’ sense of community safe and intact.

I recently came across my father’s lasagna recipe, and a wave of emotions and memories rushed through me. I loved his meaty take on a popular Italian dish. My dad’s been gone for over thirty-five years, and I still miss him deeply, especially when our family gets together over holidays, events or Sunday dinners. So, I thought I’d share his special family recipe with you with the hopes of adding this mouth-watering pasta entree to your menu one day. Bon appetite!

Dad’s Mouth-Watering, Meaty Lasagna

1 lb. lean ground beef
½ lb. ground pork
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes
1 can (12 oz.) tomato paste
2 tsps. garlic salt or powder
1½ tsps. oregano leaves
1 tsp. basil leaves
2 cups cottage cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 packages (4 ounces each) shredded mozzarella cheese
12 oz. lasagna noodles, cooked and well drained (we use precooked noodles)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch over or large skillet, cook and stir meats until brown. Drain off fat. Add tomatoes; break up with fork. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, oregano and basil. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered 20 minutes or until mixture is consistency of spaghetti sauce.

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).

Stir together cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese. Set aside 1 cup meat sauce and ½ the mozzarella. In ungreased baking pan, 13 x 9 x 2 inches, alternate layers of ⅓ each noodles, remaining meat sauce, remaining mozzarella, and cottage cheese mixture.

Spread reserved meat sauce over top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Scatter reserved mozzarella across lasagna.

Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting. Cut into 3-inch squares.

Serves 8 of your hungriest family members or friends.

And there you have it! A feast fit for any family who loves getting together to share good food, and create happy memories. So, now that you’ve cooked to your heart’s content, and your belly is full, why not escape from the dishes and curl up with one of my books? May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls or go back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Just remember to pack lightly.

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.

 

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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 @ 12:48 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off

MAKE BREAKFAST SPECIAL

July 10, 2019

from Lizzie T. Leaf

I like to create new dishes for breakfast. It’s my personal challenge to produce tasty and healthy meals outside the norm. This certainly fits the bill! Although I use honey smoked salmon, but any type salmon will still be delicious. This recipe serves 1 but is easily increased for more.

LIZZIE’S BREAKFAST SPECIAL

Image by Rupert B. from Pixabay

1 Roma tomato, sliced thin
1 ripe avocado
2 slices swirl bread, rye & pumpernickel
¼ red onion, sliced thin and separated
⅓ cup honey smoked salmon
Balsamic vinegar to taste

Drain tomato on a paper towel while you create breakfast magic.

Cut avocado in half, remove from shell and then dice. Spread on each slice of bread.

Lay onion pieces on top of avocado. Add tomatoes and then salmon. Sprinkle on vinegar.

Dig in!

Here is a little from my latest spicy romantic release for your reading pleasure.

Following the Powers directive to unite soul mates, a Scottish Cailleach’s magic will have repercussions in several realms.

Mixed-blood author Ian McCabe, grandson of Fae and gods, tries to deny his powers while hiding his true origins from the human world. When he discovers mortal, Emma Grant unconscious at his front door, his world starts to change.

Tour director Emma Grant leads a group of senior ladies through Scotland. The breakdown of their bus on a rural Scottish backroad has her sloshing through the rain and mud on foot. Her efforts to seek help results in a fall that knocks her unconscious. She awakens to find the man of her dreams staring into her eyes.

Both feel an instant attraction, but will his secrets and her distrust of men keep them apart.

A few lines that tweak a grin.
Yep, at this rate, a long three weeks lay ahead. No one had told Emma that the dozen school teachers ranged in ages from sixty-nine to eighty-eight. Good grief, what happened to women at this age sitting on the front porch and enjoying their rocking chairs?

Mildred waved away the correction “Of course, dear. Whatever you say. I just want to know, will we see any men in kilts soon? I want to see what they wear under them.”

Dirty old woman. She asked that question at least half a dozen times before we got on the bus and stated the reason just as often.

Read the first chapter on Amazon.

To read excerpts from other books by Lizzie T. Leaf please click onto Amazon.

Lizzie T. Leaf has 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.

Learn more about Lizzie T. Leaf on her website and blog. Connect with Lizzie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Sloane said @ 12:55 am | Author Friend Promo,Cooking | Comments are off