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Cooking

One thing I do and do well is cook. Check out Studly’s waistline if you don’t believe me. Yet it has always frustrated me to read a delicious-sounding recipe and then have to figure out what to serve with it. Beans or peas? Fried or boiled potatoes? To salad or not. You get the idea. We’re not talking rocket science, but a clue or two from those big-buck chefs, whose books I constantly buy, would sure help.

So today don your aprons and grab those skillets because we’re taking a giant step to ease the burden of the overworked woman.

Every month a new menu will be posted. Please feel free to email me your thoughts, suggestions, or your favorite recipes. We’re all in this cooking thing together and might as well help out each other.

May’s Choice

Enjoy a Little Spice ala Catherine Castle
Mandarin Orange Spice Tea that is.

I don’t know about you but I love hot teas, especially when the weather is chilly. I have a whole cupboard full of teas. I’d like to share a spiced tea recipe I developed.

Years ago, in the 60s, Tang—the orange juice of the astronauts—put out a spice tea recipe using Tang (a powdered orange juice drink) and instant tea. Instant tea was a favorite of my mother-in-law’s. She served it all the time. I can say with absolute certainty that instant tea isn’t my favorite cup of tea, but when the Tang spiced tea recipe came on the scene, it wasn’t bad. Probably the sweet, orangey flavor of Tang made the difference. Back then my husband and I drank Tang all the time because it was much cheaper than real orange juice and we were on a tight budget.

As the years have gone by, Tang, which is full of sugar and off my diet now, is no longer an option for spiced tea. So, I came up with this spiced tea flavored with mandarin orange juice and warm spices.

Here’s my by-the-cup recipe that serves 1 in 3 easy steps. It, too, goes great with cookies and a good book read beside the fireplace. If you need to cut the sugar, substitute an artificial sweetener, or leave it out if the real juice makes the tea sweet enough for you.

Mandarin Orange Spice Tea (by the cup)

1 black tea bag
3 mandarin oranges, juiced
1/16th teaspoon ground cloves
1/8th teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar

Place the teabag in a cup and add boiling water. Steep 3 minutes, less for a weaker.

Remove tea bag and then add the mandarin orange juice and spices. Stir well to mix spices into the tea.

Grab a copy of Catherine Castle’s award-winning sweet romantic comedy, A Groom for Mama, a blanket, and settle into your favorite reading spot for an excellent cup of tea and a great read.

Here’s a peek to further induce you.

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.

Buy Now

Amazon

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 contest 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 (20+) and Twitter (21). 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.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

April’s Choice

from Chris Pavesic

Is there anything better than homemade sweet and salty caramel corn? Not only does it taste delicious, the aroma that fills the air when you are cooking it is heavenly.

Baked Carmel Corn

Baked Caramel Corn

Nonstick cooking spray
24 cups air-popped popcorn
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup light or dark corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Coat bottom and sides of large roasting pan with nonstick spray. Place popped popcorn in roasting pan.

In saucepan, slowly melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.

Gradually pour over popped popcorn, mixing well. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, and cool completely. Break apart and store in tightly covered container.

Why not try one of the books from Chris’s LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles while you enjoy your popcorn treat?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Traveler's Zone by Chris Pavesic

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.

Buy Now

Amazon | Smashwords

Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

Chris Pavesic was a fantasy author who lived in the Midwestern United States. She loved Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris most often enjoyed 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.

March’s Choice


from Sharon Ledwith

Ready for some comfort food? I bet you are! So, let’s go with a fan favorite – PIZZA! Not just any pizza, but one so extraordinaire you’ll toss all those take-out menus and never order in again. The sauce is superb and flavorful, and is worth adding the numerous ingredients. This pizza is perfect for game night and gatherings on those cool or damp days at your vacation or stay-cation home. Now that’s Amore!

Pizza Extraordinaire

Pizza Extraordinaire

SAUCE
1 – 6 oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. warm water (110° F/45° C)
3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp. garlic, minced
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. anchovy paste
¾ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried marjoram
¼ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
⅛ tsp. dried red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well, breaking up any cheese clumps.

Allow the sauce to sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors. Spread sauce evenly over the dough. Add any of toppings you like.

CRUST
2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
½ tsp. brown sugar
1½ cups warm water (110° F/45° C)
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
3⅓ cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable or olive oil

Use a large bowl to dissolve yeast and brown sugar in the water. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2½ cups of flour.

Turn dough out onto clean, well-floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. You may or may not use all of the remaining 1⅓ cups of flour.

Place dough into a well-oiled bowl and then cover with a cloth. Let dough rise until double, approximately 1 hour. Punch down dough and then form it into a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out.

Preheat oven to 425° (220° C).

If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may spread the sauce and add your favorite toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.

Bake pizza until cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

While you’re enjoying your slice of mouth-watering, made-to-order pizza why not put your feet up and relax on the couch with a good book? May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a trip back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Whichever you choose, I assure you that either series will take you on a journey far away from the chaos and problems of your world.

Here is a brief intro from Book 2 of my Fairy Falls series.

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.

Buy Now

Amazon

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 (20+) and Twitter (20), 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 (20+).

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

February’s Choice

My niece JJ is an excellent and creative cook. This past Christmas she gave me a roll of garlic herb butter that is to die for. Not only is great on cooked steak and veggies, it’s delicious spread on crackers and fresh bread. Of course, I had to make another batch right after the holidays because we devoured her amazing gift in a flash. I am confident you and yours will like this recipe, too.

Herb Butter

Garlic Herb Butter

½ cup butter at room temperature
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried, chopped fine
1 tsp. fresh thyme or ½ tsp. dried, chopped fine
2 tbsp. fresh parsley or 1 tbsp. dried, chopped fine

Cream butter in a medium-sized bowl with a spoon. A handheld mixer works too.

Stir in garlic and herbs until just blended.

Tear off 6 – 7 inches of wax paper. Lay butter about 1½ inches from the edge. Use your fingers to shape into a log about 1 inch thick. Cover log with that bit of extra paper and roll, shaping the log as you go. After butter is wrapped, twist the ends tightly.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Herb butter lasts 2 weeks in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer.

Oregano and basil are excellent replacements for rosemary and thyme.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

January’s Choice


from Chris Pavesic

January is National Soup Month. Since I live in the Midwest, I have created a vast collection of recipes to ward off those northerly winds that attack us from Canada. This one is hearty, delicious, and healthy. Hard to beat a trio like that. Add a crusty roll, salad, and your favorite beverage to create a superb lunch or dinner.

Kale and Butternut Squash Minestrone

Kale and Butternut Squash Minestrone

1 tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup diced onion
½ cup thinly sliced celery
2 cups butternut squash, peeled (reserve rest of squash for another time) cut into ½ inch cubes
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
3 cups water
¾ tsp. dried rosemary
¼ tsp. salt or to taste
⅛ tsp. black pepper or to taste
2 cups coarsely chopped kale leaves (lightly packed) stems removed
4 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in soup pot/Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook and stir 5 minutes or until onion is softened.

Stir in butternut squash, beans, tomatoes, water, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a Dutch oven. Cover and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Add kale. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender.

Ladle soup into bowls and then sprinkle with cheese.

Why not read a good book while you enjoy your soup? May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Traveler's Zone

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.

Buy Now

AMAZON | SMASHWORDS

Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click here for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

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 and blog.

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