What’s Cooking

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.

June’s Choice

Summertime and the Baking is Easy
from Chris Pavesic

Fresh peaches are always delicious. Bake them in a pie or bread and your home is filled with a beautiful aroma. Try my easy Peach Bread recipe for an anytime treat that goes great with coffee and tea, hot or iced.

Photo courtesy of Anna Armburst at Pixabay

Peach Bread

¾ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 oz. blueberry (peach) yogurt
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 cup peaches, chopped
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ cup raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350ᵒ F.

In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, milk, oil, yogurt, egg, and extract. In a separate bowl, combine flour with baking powder and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

In a small bowl, toss peaches with 1 tablespoon. flour.

Fold floured fruit gently into batter.

Pour batter into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice off a piece of warm Peach Bread, pour your favorite beverage and indulge yourself with a good book. 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.

Blurb

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.

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

Sloane

May’s Choice

Easy and Delicious – the Perfect Dessert! Our friend Dorothy Rea is a marvelous cook and baker. She graciously agreed to share her recipe, one of my favorites, for her lemon bars. So easy to make and delightful to eat.

Lemon Bars

Dorothy’s Luscious Lemon Bars

Crust
2 cups flour, not sifted
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, not softened

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cut with a pastry cutter until mixture is pliable enough you can press it into a 9 x 13-inch metal pan.

Add dough to pan and press as evenly as possible all across the bottom and halfway up the sides.

Bake 25 minutes. Leave oven on to complete the recipe.

Filling
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups sugar
6 tbsp. lemon juice, use fresh if possible
4 tbsp. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Mix eggs, sugar, and lemon together in a medium-size bowl. Gently fold in flour and baking powder.

Pour over baked crust evenly. Set in hot oven and bake 25 minutes.

Cool completely in pan then cut into serving squares. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and enjoy!

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

Sloane

April’s Choice

A Self-Regulating Dessert
from Vonnie Hughes

This quick and easy treat is a huge success with my family and I’m confident it will be with yours, too.

Impossible Pie

Impossible Pie

4 eggs
½ cup butter
2 cups milk
½ cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut
2 tsp. vanilla essence (extract)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Blend all ingredients together in a food mixer.

Pour the mixture into a 10″ (or similar) greased pie dish. Bake for one hour or until the centre is firm.

The flour forms the crust; the coconut forms the topping and the center is egg custard, creating a delicious dessert!

Dangerous Homecoming

Sit back with a slice of your tasty pie and take a peek at my latest Regency Romance.

Both of them are scarred by war; she because of the shattered men she nurses; he because of the loss of friends and the horrors he must endure daily.

Colwyn Hetherington has a chance to put it all behind him and return to England. Juliana Colebrook desperately wants to go to England to seek out her relatives. They take an almighty chance and travel together, setting in train a series of events that neither could have anticipated.

With only their love to sustain them, they clash head-on with the reality of England, 1813.

Blurb

She clasped her penknife tightly in her free hand and hid it beneath her skirts. The dead eyes swivelled from Kit’s hemp binding, now lying on the floor, to Juliana’s face where she hovered protectively in front of Kit.

‘What a clever young lady,’ the revolting animal purred. At the menace in his voice, Juliana felt as though a snake had slithered up her spine. She stood up and held out her ungloved left hand to show him how she had untied the ropes. Dead-Eyes was too wary to come any closer, and she knew he couldn’t see in the dimness that the knots had been sliced through.

The pale eyebrows rose. ‘Perhaps those dexterous fingers can be put to better use. Come here.’ He crooked a long, thin forefinger and the muscles at the bottom of Juliana’s stomach jolted.

Hold yourself together, Juliana. Your plan relies on your being as close to him as possible.

Slowly she sidled towards the creature and for the first time she saw signs of life in the cold eyes.

‘I always interview our new young ladies before they are thrust on our clients,’ he purred thickly. ‘I like to … warm them up, so to speak.’

Bile rose in her throat. She had never seen an iceberg but she had heard about them, and she had the distinct impression that a huge chunk of iceberg had just washed into the room. ‘Warm them up?’ She didn’t think so. Please, please, please God, don’t let him have touched Tilly.

Clutching the penknife in the palm of her right hand, she shuffled closer to him, measuring the distance carefully and also his height. Yes, he was tall. So was she. Flexing her body, she moved closer, as if in a trance. His arm shot out and grabbed her.

‘No!’ Kit yelled behind her.

‘Stay back, Kit,’ she warned.

‘That’s right, my dear. You understand. You want to be tutored by Benny Ames, don’t you?’ He tugged her flush against his body. Struggling not to recoil, she saw he was sweating. His tongue slid
greedily over his yellowed teeth and he clasped her left hand like a lover. She kept her right hand hidden in her skirts. Ames’s breathing deepened as he tried to rub her left hand over his erection. Even as she struck, he was so lost in a haze of sexual pleasure he had no idea what had happened.

‘Hurry, Kit. Run!’ she yelled

This time she was prepared for the blood. It spurted out of his throat in a great arc, dousing the holland covers beside them. Juliana ducked backwards holding the slippery knife handle. The knife blade was buried in Ames’s neck. He clutched his throat, his eyes wide with stupefaction.

Juliana’s stomach lurched and she dropped the handle. As Ames made the most fearsome gurgling sounds, she edged around his flailing body and raced to the door. She hurtled down the stairs and cannoned into Kit. ‘Hurry, Kit. Hurry. Get out of here.’ She shoved the front door open and pushed him outside.

Kit slanted a glance back over his shoulder as his little legs sped along. ‘Where are we going?’

‘To the Rosemary Lane Inn. Hurry!’

‘But I don’t know where it is!’ He kept on running all the same, tugging Juliana along by the hand.
Juliana cast a quick glance behind them. The blue door with number 32 painted on it still stood innocently ajar and she could hear no sounds of pursuit.

‘Run towards the traffic noise,’ she gasped.

A few people glanced at them as they rushed by, but nobody seemed interested in a scruffy boy and a bloodstained, disheveled young woman running helter skelter up the alleyways. No doubt it was a common sight in these parts.

As they stumbled from the dank alleyway into a wider street she saw a sign stuck on a building façade that said ‘Chamber Street’. The steady throbbing of her sore, bruised feet echoed the drumming in her head. Swaying, she knew she was nearly done for.

Kit glanced back and tugged her hand. ‘Come on, miss,’ he encouraged her, then he raised their clasped hands and stared at the red stains on Juliana’s fingers. ‘Thank you,’ was all he said.

Breathless, she gulped and said nothing, fighting her queasy stomach. Soon it would happen – the reaction. Last time she had shaken as if with the ague for several hours. And when she had finally found herself safe, she had huddled into a ball and cried and cried and cried. She had cried for her mother and for herself, and for all the other women who had been held in the power of men who did not deserve them.

But now was not the time for self-indulgence. She must protect Kit. She lifted her chin and plodded on.

Footsteps pounded behind them. Twisting around, she shoved Kit out of the way…

Buy Now

Amazon | Smashwords

 

Vonnie Hughes

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense, she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow, she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. There is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

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

Sloane

March’s Choice

St. Patrick’s Day is a fun holiday meant for family and friends and celebrating because everyone is Irish on that day. Grab your partner and plan a party that uses this recipe from the hot couples’ cookbook Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire.

This traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal is what most North Americans will enjoy with a cold Harp, Guinness, Killian’s, or Smithwicks. But here’s a newsflash, Boyo, except for the beers mentioned you’ll never find corned beef served anywhere on the Old Sod. That’s right. Our Irish brethren look at us in amazement, but that’s never stopped us Yanks from creating traditions. So, pour another wee dram and let’s get cooking.

Corned Beef

5 lb. corned beef brisket*
2 med. onions, peeled and quartered
4 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried
4 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ tsp. dried
8 sprigs fresh parsley or 2 tsp. dried
3 bottles of beer, any brand works
water to cover

Preheat oven to 300 F°.

Place meat in a Dutch oven. Add remaining ingredients, including spice packet that comes with the beef if there is one.

Bring to a boil on the stovetop. Place in oven and roast for 3 hours or until meat is fork-tender.

Don’t stint on the amount of beef. It cooks down to approximately half the original size. I learned that lesson the hard way.

*Here’s a tip from my butcher Raoul; Always buy corned beef flat cut. It has less fat than the point. Therefore, you get more meat for your money.

Vegetables

6 med. red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
6 carrots, scraped and cut into 2 in. pieces
1 celery stalk, cut into 2 in. pieces
1 med. green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges
1 cup corned beef cooking liquid
water

You can prep all the veggies and store in a large container covered by cold water until you’re ready to cook them. Refrigerate so vegetables remain crisp.

Place veggies in a large pot. Stir in corned beef cooking liquid. Add water to cover vegetables by 2 inches (5cm). Cover pot. Set cooking temp at medium. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and adjust lid so the pot doesn’t boil over but maintains a soft boil. Cook about 30 minutes or until veggies are fork-tender.

Horseradish Sauce

1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. fresh chives, snipped short

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir well.

Transfer to a serving dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Learn more about Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire on Amazon.

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

Sloane

February’s Choice

Sharon Ledwith popped in again with her outstanding recipe for lasagna. This is one delicious dish you have to try.

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.

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 hope of adding this mouth-watering pasta entree to your menu one day.

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 tsp. garlic salt or powder
1½ tsp. 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 pre-cooked noodles)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven or large skillet, cook and stir meats until brown. Drain off fat.

Add tomatoes; break up with a fork. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, oregano, and basil. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered 20 minutes or until mixture is the 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 an 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.

Buy Now
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Mirror World Publishing

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.

Find Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter , 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.

January’s Choice

• Braised Pork Chops
• Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
• Truly Yummy Brussels Sprouts
• Crisp White Wine – Riesling

Pork Chop

Braised Pork Chops

1 tsp. dried sage or 4 fresh leaves
1 tsp. dried rosemary or 5 fresh sprigs
1 tsp. dried thyme or 5 fresh sprigs
1 tsp. pressed or finely chopped garlic
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Olive oil
4 pork chops with or without bones 1 inch thick
¾ cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. chopped parsley fresh or dried – optional

Lay herbs into a glass dish large enough to hold the chops in one layer. Sprinkle garlic over herbs. Carefully pour about 1 cup olive oil into dish so as not to disturb the herbs, then add pepper. Lay chops across herb mixture. Add more olive oil until chops are barely covered.

Marinade in the refrigerator for 2-5 hours. Turn chops once during the time you’ve allowed.

Remove dish from fridge 1 hour or a little less before cooking. Meat cooks better if it’s nearer room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 250° F.

Add a little marinade to a medium-sized frying pan and heat on medium high until oil shimmers. Add chops and brown 3 – 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Transfer meat to an ovenproof plate. Pour off all but a thin film of oil, add ½ cup of wine and bring to a boil. Return chops to the pan. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 30 minutes, basting with pan juices occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Return meat to the ovenproof plate, cover, and set in oven while you finish the potatoes and asparagus.

Prepare the sauce just before serving dinner. Skim as much fat as you can from the braising liquid and pour in the remaining ¼ cup wine. Boil over high heat, stirring and scraping in any browned bits that cling to the bottom and sides of the pan, until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze.

Off heat, swirl in butter and parsley, pour over pork chops and serve.

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

1 large garlic clove, peeled and bruised with the flat of a knife
1 – 2 tbsp. butter for baking dish
5 red potatoes, peeled and cut into ⅛-inch slices
1½ cups Swiss cheese, grated
6 tbsp. butter, cut into ¼-inch bits
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Rub the bottom and sides of a medium-sized baking dish with garlic. Grease dish lightly with butter.

Dry potato slices between paper towels. Spread half of them on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with half the cheese and butter bits. Grind pepper across the top.

Spread remaining potato slices in the dish followed by cheese, butter, and pepper. Pour cream down the side of the dish.

Bake in the upper third of the oven 25 minutes or until the potatoes are almost tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Remove any residual liquid with a bulb baster. Bake another 5 – 10 minutes until potatoes are tender, the cream absorbed, and the top is nicely browned.

Truly Yummy Brussels Sprouts

1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts
6 strips bacon, chopped
½ medium onion, diced
1 stick butter or margarine
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Trim stems off sprouts and remove any tough outer leaves. Slice sprouts in half lengthwise if they are large.

Set a large skillet over medium heat. Fry bacon until lightly browned. Add butter, onions, and sprouts. Cook until veggies are tender, 5 – 10 minutes. Stir frequently.

Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

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

Sloane