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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A meal from Vonnie Hughes who brings us her special Quiche recipe.

The perfect lunch or dinner that’s great for leftover vegetables. The extra bonus – it’s easy to make. Let your imagination rule on the veggies. Onion, broccoli, mushroom, cauliflower, courgettes, capsicums, corn kernels…whatever you have on hand tastes amazing in this recipe. Chopped, cooked bacon or a small can of salmon are welcome additions.

SELF-CRUSTING QUICHE

3 tbsp. butter

3 medium eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

Pepper to taste

2.5 cups mixed vegetables, chopped

1 cup grated cheese with a snappy flavor for oomph

Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).

Coat an ovenproof dish large enough to hold all ingredients with butter. Set aside.

Mix eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.

Stir in vegetables and bacon or salmon if you’re using them.

Blend in cheese.

Pour mixture into a greased dish.

Bake 40 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Here’s a little from Vonnie’s Regency romance to perk your interest.

 

Matthew Monfort has two excellent reasons for loathing members of the ton, but thanks to his father’s machinations, he finds himself inveigled into offering for Lady Verity Tristan. Well, it’s time he married and she’s…well, she’s different; in fact, she’s quite delightful…and intelligent…and sweet… but she needn’t think she’s going to win him over.

 

AMAZON BUY LINK

 

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. These 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 on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

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

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

The script of her life

by

Linda Lee Greene, Author & Artist

It was a foregone conclusion that eighteen year old Lee Greene of Peebles, Adams County, Ohio would be drafted, but like so many young couples living everywhere under the specter of World War II, his sweetheart Roma Gaffin and he got married anyway. The date was September 29, 1942. By Christmas of that same year they were pregnant for me. A few weeks before my birth, my father was drafted into the US Navy, with the expectation that following his training he would be shipped to somewhere in the Pacific Theater of the war. My mother stayed on at my grandparent’s farm in Peebles, and it was in a bedroom there that I was born, assisted into the world by Old Doc Ellison. My father first laid eyes on me a few weeks later—on the occasion of his return home after receiving an honorable medical discharge from the Navy.

There was little separation in my mind between my parents and my grandparents when I was a kid. Despite the fact that by the time of my toddlerhood, my parents, little brother, and I had settled in Columbus, Ohio, the farm and its inhabitants play central roles in the script of my childhood. We spent every weekend and holiday there, and my brother and I stayed at the farm during every summer until I was an adolescent. One of my most vibrant memories is of Lena, my grandmother, thick around the middle by then, her chestnut hair peppered with white, utilitarian apron tied around her waist, standing before her cook stove. With fresh peaches plucked from trees in the farm’s orchard or stash of canned goods in the cellar, and butter churned from the milk of resident cows, in her wood-filled cook stove, lacking the modern convenience of temperature control, my grandmother whipped up peach cobbler to rival any big city bakery. Breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, pies, cobblers—all the baked goods consumed by her large family were the products of her masterful hands. An abundance of her baked goods was the highlight of her high-holiday dinners.

~LENA’S PEACH COBBLER~

The Peaches

5 peaches, peeled, cored, and sliced*

1 cup sugar

¼ tsp. salt

Add peaches, sugar, and salt to a saucepan. Stir well to combine. Cook on medium heat for just a few minutes—until the sugar is dissolved and juices are drawn from the peaches.

Remove from heat and set aside.

*(If using canned or glass jar peaches in an amount of about 1 quart, skip the above step)

The Batter

6 tbsp. butter

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

¾ cup milk

Ground cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Add butter to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place the pan in the oven while it preheats, to melt butter then remove pan from oven.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium size bowl. Stir in milk until just combined. Pour mixture over melted butter and smooth to an even layer.

Spoon peaches and juice (or canned/glass jar peaches, if using) over batter. Sprinkle cinnamon generously over the top.

Bake for about 38-40 minutes. Serve warm topped with a scoop of ice cream, if desired.

I didn’t inherit my grandmother’s prowess in the kitchen but once in a while, I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, and I see fleeting fragments of her in me. I did inherit her affinity for storytelling. I hear her colorful depictions of local gossip so clearly in my mind’s ear. She was also a prolific writer of delightful and informative letters, the greater number of them penned during the Great Depression and World II. Many of them are transcribed in, and form the spine of, Guardians and Other Angels, my novel of historical fiction, based on the true story of three generations of my family. And of course, my formidable grandmother is a key figure of it.

 

One review of the novel states: “5 stars…Wonderfully Written! This was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I loved the Americana. [It] reached out and touched my heart, mind and soul. [It] provided tremendous insight into what many American families endured during the first half of the 20th century. It captures you and draws you in. This is most certainly a five-star novel.”

Read more on Amazon.

 

 

 

Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.

Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger. It was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a hold of her.

She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.

Visit Linda on her blog and join her on Facebook.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The ever-engaging Sloane Taylor who brings us her latest menu that is delicious and filling!

Ready for some good down-home type cooking that’s finger lickin’ good but doesn’t splatter grease all over your stove? If so, then this is the menu for you.

MENU

Oven-Fried Chicken

Mashed Potatoes

Corn

Spiked Watermelon

White Wine – Chablis

Oven-Fried Chicken

3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless – legs and thighs work great, too

    Milk

    ½ cup (50g) flour

    1 tsp. (5ml) dried thyme

    1 tsp. (5ml) dried marjoram

    ½ tsp. (2.5ml) garlic powder, not salt

    1 tsp. (5ml) paprika

    ¼ cup ((52g) shortening or lard

    ¼ cup (57g) butter or margarine

    3 tbsp. (45ml) fresh parsley, chopped or 1½ tbsp. (20ml) dried

Place chicken in a glass dish, cover with milk, and let sit for a minimum of 3 hours. This is a perfect way to use up milk when it is close to its expiration date. You can also marinade the pieces overnight. If you choose to go longer than 3 hours be sure to refrigerate the dish. I learned this tenderizing trick from a talented chef in Salzburg, Austria.

Combine flour, thyme, marjoram, garlic, and paprika in a plastic or paper bag.

Drain and pat chicken dry. Place pieces one at a time in bag and gently shake to thoroughly coat them. Lay chicken on a plate as you coat the remaining pieces. Set chicken in fridge for at least 20 minutes to set the coating.

Preheat oven to 425° F (220°C).

Add shortening and butter to a metal baking pan just large enough to hold the chicken. Place dish in oven until mixture is melted. Add chicken. Bake 15 minutes and then turn pieces over. Cook another 20 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife.

REMEMBER – all meat continues to cook for 5 minutes or so after it is removed from the oven.

Remove chicken from baking dish to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any oil. Transfer pieces to a clean plate. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

You can also make this dish on your grill. Set the grill on medium-high. Watch carefully so the chicken doesn’t burn.

Mashed Potatoes

Chicken stock, not broth

    1 small russet potato per person, peeled and quartered

    3 tbsp. (43g) butter

    Sour cream, a very large dollop

    ¼ cup (60ml) milk, at room temperature

    Freshly ground pepper to taste

    Parsley, snipped or chopped for garnish

Preheat oven to 220° F (100°C).

Pour one-inch (2.5cm) chicken stock into saucepan. Place potatoes in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by at least one inch (2.5cm). Cover pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 20 – 25 minutes. Potatoes are done when a fork inserts easily into a section.

Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, sour cream, and pepper. Mash well. Drizzle in milk. Mash and continue to add milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer.

Keep the saucepan warm in the oven while you finish preparing dinner.

Canned Corn
Sometimes it’s good to go easy and nothing is easier than canned veggies.

    1 can of corn per 4 people

    ¼ tsp. (1.25ml) dried thyme

    Pinch of salt

    Freshly ground pepper to taste
    Butter

Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Sprinkle on thyme, salt, and pepper. Lay pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Spiked Watermelon

An adult pleasure that tops off any summer dinner, especially when you dine al fresco.

    ½ watermelon

    2 – 3 cups (450 – 750ml) vodka

Remove the seeds from the watermelon. Cut fruit into chunks or use a melon scooper to form balls. Place the cut pieces into a glass bowl.

Pour vodka over the melon. No need to cover the fruit. You just want enough so all the pieces contact with the vodka. Stir gently. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for several hours.

Serve melon from the bowl along with forks or long spoons.

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Learn more about Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer,Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire, and Date Night Dinners Italian Style on Amazon.
Excerpts from her romance books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The prolific writer Sharon Ledwith who brings us her latest time-saving recipe plus where to find her books.

An Italian dish full of sausage and veggies that’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and a napkin on your lap. The preparation takes about half an hour, with a bake time of 25 minutes, a setting time of 10 minutes, and serves ten of your hungriest family or friends. This hearty meal is ideal for those weekend warriors set to do some renovations at their home or cottage. Serve with a side salad, garlic bread, and your choice of wine, and you’ve got the makings of a trip to Italy without leaving the comforts of your home.

Potluck Penne and Sausage Casserole

16 ounces penne pasta

1 lb. bulk Italian sausage

1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1½ tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced

1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms

6 garlic cloves, minced

15 oz. tomato sauce

14 oz. pasta sauce with meat

2 cups shredded part-skimmed mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente; drain and transfer to greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Fry sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes, breaking into crumbles. Drain and remove from pan.

In same skillet, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes and stir frequently. Add zucchini, mushroom and garlic. Cook 6 – 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Be sure to stir often.

Add tomato sauce, pasta sauce, and sausage. Pour the mixture over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese.

Cover casserole with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake 10 minutes. Uncover. Bake until golden brown and cheese is melted, 15-20 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Once dinner is done, and you’ve had your last sip of wine, I’m sure you’ll be ready to escape into your living room for some much-needed quiet time. Why not make a cup of tea, then relax with one of my books? May I suggest a nostalgic visit to Fairy Falls or perhaps go back in time with The Last Timekeepers? Just remember to breathe once in a while as you’re being led on a bumpy, unpredictable ride along with my characters.

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power while trying to have a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

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, 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.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Living with Type 1 Diabetes and The Cheesiest Spinach Casserole

by

Leight Goff

I am a young adult author with type 1 diabetes. Why is that little fact important? Maybe it isn’t, but it has shaped me as a writer, a mother, and a person, whether I wanted it to or not. I didn’t by the way. I have never shared this publicly as I am a very private person. However, this is important because I’m not the only person dealing with type 1. You see, my younger brother had been diagnosed at the age of fifteen with the same disease. I watched how it ravaged his body over a short period of time. I saw firsthand how it attacks—one tiny blood vessel at a time until there’s nothing you can do to reverse the damage. I also remember quite clearly my mother being afraid to help him. He was on his own and terrified.

Eight years after his passing, I was thirty-one, active, slender and continuing to lose weight even though my weekly running had slowed. I had developed an unquenchable, burning thirst, my fairly good vision was growing blurry, and my strong legs were cramping in the middle of the night. I knew in my heart what it was. I’d seen the symptoms in my brother a decade earlier. After three months of denial, I went to the hospital where I was diagnosed with what the doctors’ thought was type 2 diabetes. They explained I was too old to have type 1.

However, I was running twenty miles a week. I kept asking myself, “How could it be type 2?” My husband told me he could see how thin I’d gotten and was concerned the doctors were wrong. They insisted and put me on an oral medication that clearly wasn’t going to work. It didn’t. The antibody test came back positive and the fact was, my immune system had turned on me. The insulin producing cells in my pancreas were destroyed and would never return.

It was a death sentence as far as I knew. I, too, was terrified. I had a husband and two young children. I had a life I wanted to live for as long as I could. I knew the chronic disease would kill me, if I let it. If I let it. So, I committed to not let it destroy me like it had with my brother. I’m not kidding. I was scared to death, but the disease that had taken him wasn’t going to take me.

I went to my medical appointments, feeling so desperately alone. I also went to support meetings at my local hospital, which were actually the opposite of support. There I met with fellow type 1 patients who had refused to accept the disease and its mighty power and that scared the hell out of me. They hadn’t seen what the monster could do. After two meetings, I never went back. They seemed to be in denial and denial was not an option for me. If I encountered another type 1 at a social event, I latched onto them like they were a life raft, but none of them seemed to be on the same path as myself. I acknowledge that everyone with the disease has to come to terms with it on their own and figure out their own plan.

My plan was to respect the monster, and in return my diligence would keep the monster at bay so as to allow me to live as normally as possible. Day by day. Some days great. Some not so great. But good health was and continues to be my goal.

I started my healthcare regimen with old-fashioned syringes and vials, moved on to insulin pens, and finally graduated to wearing top-notch medical equipment in the form of an insulin pump and a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) in one of arms (I switch it to the other arm every ten days). After almost twenty years, the last ten with tubes and gadgets attached to me, I’m pleased to say I have no blood vessel damage to my eyes or kidneys. This is my life. For the rest of my life, but I’m thankful to have the technology to maintain my good health and I’m most thankful for the years my brother didn’t have.

Am I scared? Every single day I wake up summoning courage to face the day. Type 1 is truly a monster that never quits. I’ve dealt with other beasts in my life, some of them in my own family, but this monster is a killer waiting to snatch another victim. However, like in a fairytale the point of a monster is that it is meant to instill fear and test the hero. Will the hero face her fear and defeat the it? In my own story, I have faced my fear, my greatest fear, but until they find a cure for type 1 diabetes, I won’t be able to defeat it. In the meantime, I will continue to battle it every single day with strength and steadfastness.

As far as writing, I’d love to craft a story that features a character with type 1. In the meantime, I am inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates. Although I’m terrible at casting any magic of my own, I am descended from an accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky. That’s pretty cool, right?

I am currently taking a charcoal drawing class and golf lessons to bring some new experiences to my writing. We’ll see how that goes! I have three published young adult novels, I am a member of SCBWI, and I graduated from the University of Maryland.

At present, I am working on a manuscript about a teen witch, Abigail, fighting for her right to practice witchcraft in a conservative southern town with a history of burning witches. As she finds herself irresistibly drawn to the tale of the Silver Moon Witch, trouble begins to find Abigail who’s discovering the witch’s story has dangerous parallels to her own life, especially when someone is watching, waiting to toss a match.

THE CHEESIEST SPINACH CASSEROLE

This is a healthy, low carb casserole that I enjoy making and it doesn’t raise my blood sugar levels!

20 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

4 oz. cream cheese, cut into small cubes

1½ cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled

4 large eggs, beaten

¼ cup butter, melted

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir well to combine.

Spread mixture into an 8×8 baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges are golden and the center is set.

Serve immediately.

Recipe from THAT LOW CARB LIFE

Here’s a little from my latest novel to peak your interest.

Koush Hollow
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…
is deadly.
After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT

Hayden shook his head. “I shouldn’t expect someone like you to care.”

“Like me? I’m not so different from you.”

He cocked his hands on his hips and stared into my eyes. He concentrated, searching for something. “Jenna, what if that were true? How would that fly with your Pearl friends?”

“What are saying?”

“The night of the beach party—you stayed under the water for minutes. I thought you were drowning.” His gaze lowered to my mouth, sending a warm flutter of butterflies inside me. “Maybe you’re more like me than you ever thought possible.”

Surprised, I pressed a hand to my stomach. I glanced back at the yacht club. “I-I have to go.” I stumbled into a walk. My mind raced. What was that look he gave me?

He followed after and grabbed onto my hand. Lightning flickered from his touch and ignited my nerves. The shiver ran the length of my arm and down to my toes. My heart raced. I turned and looked at him. I wanted to feel his eyes on my mouth again.

He held me fixed in his gaze. “Promise me if you decide to become a pearl girl, you’ll do it as an informed person.” His tone was deadly serious.

Right there, I felt the weight of his concern. I dropped my gaze. “Hayden, I’m too smart to be a part of something that is ethically bankrupt and environmentally dangerous, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Don’t let them change you into one of them.”

I touched my hand to his cheek and traced the line of his jaw. “Do you think my mother and her friends are really part of a pollution conspiracy and a murder cover-up?” I asked referring to his childhood recollection. “Do you think I’d ever want to be a part of that?”

He considered my argument for a brief second. “This is bigger than you, Jenna. It will suck you in, if you let it.”

Mama appeared behind me, interrupting the discussion. “Everything okay here?”

“Fine.” I breathed in and out as quietly as I could, waiting for my racing heart to settle down. “Hayden, this is my mother, Dr. Crossland. Mama, this is Hayden Black. We’re classmates and we were discussing a history assignment.”

She dissected him with her eyes and everything about her expression told me she did not approve.

BUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.

You can find more information at www.LeighGoff.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A story from our past.

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Image by Michael Sylvester from Pixabay

At age 18, I (Catherine, the C of C.D. Hersh) decided to cook a dinner for my then boyfriend to show off my homemaking abilities. It was something you did way back then. I planned a four-course dinner to cover all the basics of a meal. I served him two sets of appetizers: shrimp cocktail with homemade cocktail sauce and bacon wrapped hot dogs. A big salad, an entrée and two vegetables, and poached pears drizzled with chocolate sauce for dessert rounded out the meal.

I’ve long since forgotten exactly what I served for the middle portions of the meal because the beginning of the dinner was so spectacular that it is burned in both our memories. The shrimp cocktail was a huge success. I lined the pedestaled dessert cup with lettuce leaves, piled a generous amount of the homemade cocktail sauce in the center and carefully laid the curved shrimps around the edge of the dish. The presentation was exquisite. He was all smiles as he ate my offering.

The next appetizer up was the bacon wrapped hot dogs (recipe below). You could use little smokies or sausages, but hot dogs were the choice that day. I carefully wrapped each hot dog in a strip of bacon, cut them into bite-sized pieces (because a savvy hostess would never serve an entire hot dog as an appetizer), and laid them on a baking rack. The bacon kept falling off. So I hunted for something to skewer the strips of meat to the hot dogs. I finally found a box of toothpicks, or rather a few toothpicks, in the pantry. I counted the number of hot dog pieces I had and then how many toothpicks I had. I was woefully short on toothpicks. So, like any frugal cook, I broke the toothpicks into the number of pieces I needed and carefully stuck them into the hot dogs, making a mental note to remove the skewers before serving. I popped the hors d’oeuvres in the oven and went back to work preparing the rest of the meal.

Then the oven timer rang, I removed the appetizer from the oven, put the next course in to finish cooking, checked that none of the pots were boiling over, plated the hot dogs and proudly presented them to my boyfriend who was in the living room watching television.

“Yumm,” he said. “This looks good.”

Pleased that I hadn’t burned them and that they looked appetizing, I picked up the empty shrimp cocktail dish—which look like it had been licked clean—smiled, and returned to the kitchen. A bit later I returned to the living room to retrieve the hotdog platter. My boyfriend had eaten every single hors d’oeuvre.

As I looked down at the platter my stomach dropped to the floor. “Where are the toothpicks?” I asked anxiously.

“Toothpicks?” he said. “You had toothpicks in them?”

“Yes, to hold on the bacon.” By now my heart was racing. “Did you throw them into an ashtray or the waste basket?” I glanced at the ever-present ashtray sitting beside the sofa. It was empty. So was the wastebasket.

He put his hand to his throat and massaged it. “I thought they were a bit crunchy.”

“You ate them?” I asked in terror.

“You didn’t take them out?” he responded. “Why weren’t they sticking out of the hot dogs?”

I looked at him in dismay. “I didn’t have enough to put in all the hors d’oeuvres, so I broke them into smaller pieces. I must have forgotten to remove them. Oh. My. Gosh! I fed you toothpicks! What if they rip up your stomach or intestines? I may have killed you! I’m soooo sorry.”

He took my accidental murder attempt with great aplomb. “Don’t worry,” he assured me. “I chewed them up real good.”

His assurance didn’t make me feel much better. “Do you want the rest of the meal, or should we go to the emergency room?”

“What are you serving me?”

I told him the menu, and then added, “With no toothpicks in sight. I’ve used them all up on the appetizer.”

“I’ll eat,” he replied. Then we both broke out in gales of laughter. But I kept a real close eye on him for a few days just to be sure.

That boyfriend was Donald (the D of C.D. Hersh), the same man I married a few years later. He didn’t die. I wasn’t indicted for murder, and we’ve lived happily-ever-after for half a century. Occasionally, I serve him a burnt offering, which we laugh about, but I never, never, never break a toothpick for use in meal prep. I can’t even pick one up without remembering that first meal I cooked for him.

I learned an important lesson that day—for a happy life, don’t kill your future spouse.

For your eating pleasure here’s a version of the hotdog hors d’oeuvres, using whole toothpicks.

Bacon Wrapped Hotdog Hors d’oeuvres

    4 hotdogs

    4 slices lean (center cut) bacon, thin slices

    2 slices American cheese (optional)

    Toothpicks (WHOLE)

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lay a cookie rack over it.

Wrap one slice of bacon around each hotdog. Secure with WHOLE toothpicks at ends and middle. Place hot dogs on cookie rack.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, turn hotdogs. Bake another 10-15 minutes or until bacon has cooked and crisped.

If using cheese, cut each slice in half and lay a half slice over hot dog and leave in oven until cheese begins to melt.

Remove from oven and cut hotdogs into bite-sized pieces.

REMOVE TOOTHPICKS.

Tip: Cooking the hotdog whole means you won’t need as many toothpicks and will help ensure you don’t puncture your beloved’s intestines when he accidently eats them because you forgot to remove the tiny wooden skewers. ☺

Links for our books are on our book page, under the menu at the top of the page or on our Amazon Author Page

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Date Night Dinners Italian Style

from

Sloane Taylor

NEW RELEASE

Date Night Dinners Italian Style

The perfect date night at home—course by course.

From antipasti to dolci, everything you need to create a unique dining experience for an intimate date night in!

  • All recipes are proportioned for two.
  • No exotic or hard-to-find ingredients.
  • Easy recipes, from prep to presentation.
  • Mix-and-match courses to create a unique dining experience.
  • Wine pairing suggestions to complement each dish.
  • Cooking tips to effortlessly move your date-night agenda from the kitchen to…wherever you’ll most enjoy dessert!

Get your copy today on Amazon.

Available now on Amazon since June 21, 2021!

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning romance author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Learn more about Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Sizzling Summer,Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire, and Date Night Dinners Italian Style on Amazon.
Excerpts from her romance books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A chocolatey, sweet treat from Sharon Ledwith that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

A real crowd pleaser at small gatherings such as book clubs or intimate bridal and baby showers, this chocolatey, sweet treat will tempt even the most disciplined of us. If cherry is your go-to fruit that makes your mouth think you’ve swallowed a piece of heaven, then read on if you dare to concoct this sinful chunk of bliss.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY CHUNK LOAF

A bit of butter for greasing the loaf pan
1¼ cups + 1 tsp. all-purpose plain flour
¼ cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup granulated or caster sugar
1 cup cherry yogurt
3 large eggs lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup mild vegetable oil
1 cup cherries
¼ cup sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped, use less if you prefer

Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C or 165° for fan ovens, Gas Mark 4).

Grease a 2 lb. (8 ½ x 4 ¼ x 2 ½ inch) loaf pan.

Remove the pits from the cherries and cut each one in half. Place cherries in a small bowl, sprinkle the 1 teaspoon flour over top and toss gently.

Sift 1¼ cups flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.

Stir in sugar, chocolate chips, and walnuts. Set dry ingredients aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, eggs, vanilla, and oil.

Add yogurt mixture to dry ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until all the flour is mixed in and the batter is smooth.

Gently fold in the flour-coated cherries.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then remove cake and place it on a wire rack to cool completely.

THE GLAZE
1 cup icing sugar, confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp. maraschino cherry juice
1 tbsp. water
Drop of pink food coloring, optional

Pour icing sugar into a bowl. Whisk in maraschino cherry juice.

Gradually whisk in water, a drop or two at a time, until a smooth, drizzle-able consistency is reached.

Whisk in the food coloring, if using.

While you’re waiting on your loaf to bake and cool, how about taking a break by delving into one of my books? 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, either series will entertain and engage, pulling you into another time and a different place.

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power while trying to have a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

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, 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.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A Yorkshire pudding recipe from Carol Browne today!

These Yorkshire puddings are easy to make and taste great even if you aren’t a vegan. Leftovers are wonderful when reheated in the oven at 200ᵒ C (400ᵒ F) for a few minutes. Don’t use a microwave as that makes the puddings soggy and chewy. This recipe serves 6.

Image by Shutterbug 75 from Pixabay

Vegan Yorkshire Puddings

    360ml (1½ cups) vegetable oil
    190g (1¼ cups ) self-raising flour
    ¾ tsp. salt
    ¾ tsp. baking powder
    270ml (1¼ cups) soya or almond milk

Preheat oven Gas Mark 7 (215ᵒ C) (420ᵒ F).

Pour 2 tablespoons oil into each cup hole of a 12 cup muffin tray. Put tray in the oven at least 15 minutes so oil becomes really hot.

Sieve flour, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Gradually add plant milk, whisking constantly.

Remove tin from the oven and quickly pour the batter into the holes – about 2 tablespoons each. Fill them as evenly and smoothly as possible for the best shape.

Bake 20 minutes.

Here’s a peek at my latest epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it.

His adventures in Elvendom left Godwin 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. But 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.

Amazon Buy Links USAUK


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 but has also taken a plunge into non-fiction with Being Krystyna. This story of a Holocaust survivor has been well received.

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

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Leigh Goff shares with us her Top Five signs he’s the one! Plus a “Hope Chest” recipe for a Chicken Dinner.

How do you know he’s the one? I’m a firm believer in one’s intuition. It’s the hidden sense that isn’t based on logic, but comes to us in rare moments of need. Call it a gut-feeling that many of us have had. It’s an understanding that comes from within and there’s no need to question it. I’m speaking from experience so when your inner voice says he’s a good guy, it might be worth listening.

In my latest novel, Koush Hollow, Jenna fall for the local bad boy, but he isn’t so bad once she gets to see him more clearly. He’s passionate about the bayou, he cares about Jenna because he see beyond her troubling environment, and he’s honest in how he speaks. Ultimately, he makes Jenna want to be a better person and to strive to be more than a Pearl in her mom’s superficial social club.

Here are my top five signs that he’s the one for you and if these signs aren’t obvious and your intuition isn’t talking, I’ll try to explain.

1- He’s interested. He makes romantic gestures to let you know he’s into you. He sends you a bouquet of your favorite flowers. He leaves notes on your car windshield to cheer you up. He holds your hand when he senses you’re nervous. This means he isn’t afraid to show you that he wants more time with you.

2- He makes you laugh. Laughter is one of life’s simple pleasures. It could be a funny comment he makes when you wake up, or a silly joke he tells your friends over pizza. He’s a funny guy and he looks at life with a great sense of humor. He makes you want to spend time with him. It’s another sign that he’s interested in you. What’s not to like about that?

3- He remembers what you like. This is a gimme. You mentioned your favorite flavor of ice cream months ago at a Christmas party, surrounded by friends and loud music. You didn’t even know he heard you. Then, when you least expect it and you’re hiding at home with a terrible sore throat, he shows up with a pint of blueberry cheesecake gelato and you know this guy is something special.

4- He’s a good communicator. He makes good eye contact, he listens, and he asks questions. He doesn’t let you walk away from an argument without resolution. He knows it’s healthy to have different opinions, but it’s really healthy to talk them through and meet somewhere in the middle, and if that’s not possible, he’s okay to agree to disagree. Life gets tough and you need someone with good communication skills.

5- He makes you want to be a better person. You watch how he interacts with children, animals, and waiters and his kindness inspires you to be a bit more patient, smile more, or give a bigger tip, if you can afford it. He makes the world a better place to live in and you want to be by his side doing the same thing.

Here is my Hope Chest Recipe just so you’re ready when the right he walks into your life.

Mr. Right’s Chicken Dinner
1 Whole chicken plus 2 chicken breasts
1 Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing
1 stick of butter
1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken
1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom
2 cans of chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Boil chicken and breasts for 20-30 minutes. Shred meat from the bone.

Melt butter in a pot, then add stuffing mix.

In a separate pot, add soups and broth and heat.

Use a 9 x 13 dish to layer half the stuffing on bottom, shredded chicken, soup and finally the remaining stuffing.

Cover dish with foil and then bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Here’s a little from my book to peak your interest.

Koush Hollow
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…
is deadly.
After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT

Hayden shook his head. “I shouldn’t expect someone like you to care.”

“Like me? I’m not so different from you.”

He cocked his hands on his hips and stared into my eyes. He concentrated, searching for something. “Jenna, what if that were true? How would that fly with your Pearl friends?”

“What are saying?”

“The night of the beach party—you stayed under the water for minutes. I thought you were drowning.” His gaze lowered to my mouth, sending a warm flutter of butterflies inside me. “Maybe you’re more like me than you ever thought possible.”

Surprised, I pressed a hand to my stomach. I glanced back at the yacht club. “I-I have to go.” I stumbled into a walk. My mind raced. What was that look he gave me?

He followed after and grabbed onto my hand. Lightning flickered from his touch and ignited my nerves. The shiver ran the length of my arm and down to my toes. My heart raced. I turned and looked at him. I wanted to feel his eyes on my mouth again.

He held me fixed in his gaze. “Promise me if you decide to become a pearl girl, you’ll do it as an informed person.” His tone was deadly serious.

Right there, I felt the weight of his concern. I dropped my gaze. “Hayden, I’m too smart to be a part of something that is ethically bankrupt and environmentally dangerous, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Don’t let them change you into one of them.”

I touched my hand to his cheek and traced the line of his jaw. “Do you think my mother and her friends are really part of a pollution conspiracy and a murder cover-up?” I asked referring to his childhood recollection. “Do you think I’d ever want to be a part of that?”

He considered my argument for a brief second. “This is bigger than you, Jenna. It will suck you in, if you let it.”

Mama appeared behind me, interrupting the discussion. “Everything okay here?”

“Fine.” I breathed in and out as quietly as I could, waiting for my racing heart to settle down. “Hayden, this is my mother, Dr. Crossland. Mama, this is Hayden Black. We’re classmates and we were discussing a history assignment.”

She dissected him with her eyes and everything about her expression told me she did not approve.

BUY LINKS

Parliament House Press

Amazon

Leigh Goff is a young adult author with type 1 diabetes who is inspired by caffeine, enchanted spells, and unforgettable, star-crossed fates.

Although she’s terrible at casting any magic of her own, she is descended from the accused witch, Elizabeth Duncan of Virginia, who went to trial in 1695 for charges including bewitching livestock and causing birds to fall from the sky.

You can find more information at www.LeighGoff.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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