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Archive for the ‘Wednesday Special Spotlight’ Category

Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

The ever-engaging Sharon Ledwith who brings us her recipie for chili for those who are or feed sports fans. Here’s Sharon

One of the favorite dishes of armchair warriors, chili has so many combinations and gastric consequences, I’m sure it could be deemed as a weapon of mass destruction. Sports fans absolutely love their chili, especially when tailgating with other like-minded souls. We’ve discovered one recipe that’s a sure-fire way to keep you warm inside and out, while waiting for your team to get the game started.

Make ahead the day before and reheat or prepare on the fly, this spicy version takes 30 minutes to prep, cooks for 2 hours, and serves 12 of your closest blood-thirsty family or friends. A warning: have plenty of water or your preferred adult beverage on hand, along with a stack of napkins to not only wipe your mouth, but soak up your tears.

Game-Face Tailgate Chili

2 pounds ground beef chuck

1 pound bulk Italian sausage (use hot Italian if you love it spicy)

3 (15 ounce) cans chili beans, drained

1 (15 ounce) can chili beans in spicy sauce

2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 green chili peppers, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon bacon bits

4 cubes beef bouillon

½ cup beer

¼ cup chili powder

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco or Frank’s)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 bag of nacho chips

1 (8 ounce package) shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground chuck and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.

Pour in the chili beans, spicy chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, chili peppers, bacon bits, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, hot pepper sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, or refrigerate and serve the next day.

Ladle into bowls and top with shredded Cheddar cheese. Serve with nacho chips for dipping.

After the game or while you’re waiting on the chili to simmer, take a timeout for yourself, and crack open 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, I assure you that either series will boost your mood, and take you away from the game of life.

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

Debut author Mark Hess who has created a cozy mystery that keeps the reader on their toes with the perfect blend of red herrings and unique characters. Hess has a wonderful imagination and a flair for creating an enjoyable read.

Seven people are trapped in a lonely mansion at the top of a mountain where a private detective races to identify the killer before no one is left alive.

The weather is brewing into a late winter snowstorm and the drive down the mountain is dangerous. Complicating the dilemma, there is no cell phone connection or any way to contact anyone for help. The situation turns serious after they learn the gates are closed and locked. The killer has them perfectly trapped. No is permitted to leave until the end of the three-day weekend.

Meanwhile a childhood romance is about to rekindle, as a rich relative promises to reveal which guest will be granted a prize. The detective is disturbed to realize things are not what they seem when teams are formed to search for the promised treasure. Detective Joe O’Conner wonders how far greed will take this odd group, his dubious playmates of childhood. He will need all his training, experience, and instinct to solve this case. But a friend wonders if a bad case of love will keep him too distracted to be effective.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Mark Hess is a determined man who, once he sets his mind to something, it gets done. Hess has a learning disability that he has struggled with all his life, but he refuses to let it stop him. A kind man by nature, Hess also has a wonderful sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic. This adds up to an author with the ability to create intriguing plots that never fail to hold you close to the edge of your chair.

He lives in Western New York on picturesque acreage that showcases the beauty of each season as the year moves on. During the day Hess happily devotes his time at an herbtique and plant nursery. At night he works on plotting his next novel.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as that between lightening and the lightening bug
—Mark Twain.

I (The C in C.D. Hersh) personally experienced Mr. Twain’s quote when the telephone company crossed our phone lines with that of another customer. Upon calling customer service, I explained the problem and noted something different about the employee’s accent.

“Where are you located?” I asked him.

“The Philippines,” he replied.

As he was unable to resolve my problem to my satisfaction I asked to speak to his supervisor. Big mistake, as the supervisor had a thicker accent. To make a long story short, I finally got through to the person on the other end of the line that they needed to check my phone records, or rather the phone records of the number I was calling from—which wasn’t my number, and they would see how to resolve the problem as this was the second time they had switched my phone line with this person.

After much checking and rechecking on what I’d said, the phone company employee gave me a time that they would attempt to fix the problem. He said the technician would come to our apartments and look in our phone boxes. I repeatedly told him neither of us lived in apartments and there should be no need for the technician to come into our homes. We lived in houses a mile apart and no one had been messing with our phone boxes. The problem was on their end, or rather in a relay box somewhere near where we live. I should have taken the hint right then that we weren’t on the same page, English-wise or culturally.

Then he said we should keep our phone lines open.

Now I don’t know what that meant to him, but to me it meant staying on the line. “Do you mean you want me to not hang up the phone?” I asked, wondering how that make any sense and how it was going to work for the allotted time to would take to fix the line.

“No,” he said, “keep it by your side.”

“Keep it by my side?” That made about as much sense as putting Godiva dark chocolates on a hot sidewalk. “Do you mean you want me to carry it around with me?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.

I searched my brain for another definition of keeping the line open. “Then do you want us not make any calls or take any calls on our lines?” I asked.

He said some other unintelligible phrase, obviously as frustrated as I was at his botched attempts. Finally, he blurted out, “Don’t unplug the phone.”

“Why would I do that?” I asked, completely bamboozled at his definition. That, I thought, would be a stupid thing to do, and had absolutely no relationship to the phrase “keep the lines open.” What he tried to express to me, with what appeared to be a very basic understanding of English, was as close to lightening as lightening is to a lightening bug.

Next time I have to deal with the phone company, I’m asking where the customer service employee is located, and calling back until I get someone in America. Hopefully, they’ll know the difference between lightening and the lightening bug.

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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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Chief par-excellent Sloane Taylor who brings us her Oktoberfest inspired menu from her vast collection of easy to prepare recipes.

Oktoberfest is the festival to end all festivals and is celebrated around the world but started in Munich, Germany for a royal wedding in 1810. The citizens of Munich were invited to all the festivities held in fields just outside the city gates. And from there the world adopted this grand event. It runs from late September to the 1st Sunday in October. Be sure to include plenty of German music when you celebrate.

MENU
Sauerbraten – Marinated Pot Roast
Boiled Potatoes
Red Cabbage with Apples
Rye Bread
German Red Wine – Spätburgunder which is German for Pinot Noir

Sauerbraten – Marinated Pot Roast
5 black peppercorns
4 whole juniper berries*
1 med. onion, sliced thin
½ cup (120ml) dry red wine
½ cup (120ml) red wine vinegar
2 cups (450ml) cold water
2 small bay leaves
4 lbs. (2kg) boneless beef roast, top or bottom round or rump
3 tbsp. (43g) lard or solid shortening
½ cup onion, chopped fine
½ cup carrots, chopped fine
½ cup celery, chopped fine
2 tbsp. (30ml) flour
½ cup (120ml) beef stock, if needed
½ cup (50g) gingersnap cookie crumbs

Use a mortar and pestle or a baggie and hammer to crush black peppercorns and juniper berries together.

In a medium-sized saucepan combine peppercorn mix, sliced onion, wine, vinegar, water, and bay leaves. Bring marinade to a boil over high heat. Remove pan from stove and let cool to room temperature.

Trim excess fat from roast. Set beef in a deep flat bowl or pot just large enough to hold it comfortably. Pour marinade over the top. Add more wine if marinade is not halfway up the sides of the meat. Turn meat to moisten all sides. Cover pan tightly with foil or cling wrap. Refrigerate for 2 – 3 days. Be sure to turn the meat over at least twice a day.

Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C).

Remove meat from marinade. Pat dry with paper towels. Strain marinade through a fine sieve set over a bowl. Discard spices and onion, but reserve marinade.

Melt lard in a Dutch oven over high heat until it sputters. Add roast and brown well on all sides. Adjust heat so as not to burn the meat. Transfer meat to a platter. Pour off and discard all but 2 tbs. (30ml) of fat. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot. Cook over moderate heat until they are soft and light brown, 5 – 8 minutes. Sprinkle flour over veggies. Cook, stirring constantly 2 – 3 minutes or until flour begins to color.

Pour in 2 cups (450ml) of reserved marinade and ½ cup (120ml) water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Return meat to pot. Cover tightly. Cook in the oven for 2 hours or until meat shows no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Transfer meat to a heated platter. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Discard veggies. Pour liquid from pot into a measuring cup. Skim off fat. You need 2½ cups (570ml) liquid for the sauce. If you have more, boil briskly to reduce the amount. If you have less, add beef stock. Combine liquid and gingersnaps in a small saucepan. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes. The crumbs will dissolve and thicken the sauce. Strain sauce through a fine sieve. Keep warm on very low heat until ready to serve.

To serve, carve meat into ¼ inch (.64cm) slices. Arrange on individual dinner plates or a large platter. In either case moisten the meat with a little sauce. Pass the remaining sauce in a gravy boat.

*Rosemary is a good substitute for juniper berries. Use one fresh sprig.

Boiled Potatoes
1 red potato per person, peeled and quartered
Chicken stock
Tap water
1 lg. bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Butter to taste

Add potatoes to a saucepan that holds them comfortably. Pour stock halfway up the potatoes. Top off with water, covering potatoes by an inch (1.25cm) or so. Add bay leaf. Set a lid on top.

You can do up to this point earlier in the day. Leave on the counter or stovetop until you are ready to cook.

Bring pan to a boil over medium heat. Adjust the lid and heat so the water continues a soft/light boil, but does not spill over. Cook 15 – 20 minutes, then test for doneness. A fork will insert easily.

Drain potatoes and discard bay leaf. Sprinkle pepper over potatoes. Add butter. Stir carefully so as not to smash potatoes.

Don’t have bay leaf? Add 1 tablespoon (20ml) or so of dried basil to the pot. When you drain the potatoes most of the leaves will be gone, but the good taste remains.

Red Cabbage with Apples
2 – 2½ lb. (1 – 1.5kg) red cabbage
⅔ cup (150ml) red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. (30ml) sugar
2 medium-sized apples, peeled and cored
2 tbsp. (25g) lard or bacon fat
½ cup (50g) onions, chopped fine
1 whole onion, pierced with 2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
5 cups (1.2L) boiling water
3 tbsp. (45ml) dry red wine
3 tbsp. (45ml) red currant jelly, optional

Wash cabbage under cool water and then remove tough outer leaves. Cut cabbage into 4 pieces. Remove core. Shred easily by slicing each section into thin strips.

Place cabbage in a large mixing bowl. sprinkle with vinegar and sugar. Toss with a spoon to cover the shreds evenly.

Slice apple into thin wedges. Melt lard or bacon fat in a large pot. Add apples and onions. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until apples are lightly browned.

Add cabbage, onion with cloves, and bay leaf. Stir well while pouring in boiling water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat so cabbage does a slow simmer. Cover and cook 1½ – 2 hours, or until cabbage is tender. Check occasionally to be sure cabbage is moist. If it seems dry, add 1 tbsp. (15ml) or so of boiling water. When cabbage is tender there should be almost no liquid in the pan.

To serve remove whole onion and bay leaf. Stir in wine and jelly. This recipe freezes nicely.

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


Sloane

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 Italian Style, Sizzling Summer, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire on Amazon.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

A new book from Stella May who brings us her latest Time Travel Romance. Be sure to get your copy today!

This engrossing novel has wonderful moments of humor and honest soul-searching. This book contains a house flipper who talks to her projects, a beloved grandmother, a case of mistaken identity, and a slow-burn romance. Look for its release on Amazon and all major vendors September 27, 2021.

The twist of a key answers many questions…but could also break her heart.

BLURB:
Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance and time travel and is the author of the family saga/trilogy Once & Forever, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean.

She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and all are partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Our suggestions to spot “telling” writing in your WIP.

We’ve all heard the admonition “Show, don’t tell.” When we show we are producing better writing that will capture our readers. Showing, instead of telling, lets editors and agents see you are not an amateur.

In spite of hearing the phrase over and over, many writers don’t know how to recognize “telling” writing. Writing that tells analyzes, generalizes, editorializes and summarizes instead of making the writing interactive and sensory for the reader. Naturally, there will be some generalizations and summarization in your writing, but you need to make sure these elements are in the minority, not the majority of your book. You need to show what’s happening so the reader can create in her own mind the picture you, the writer, want to share.

    To locate telling writing look for:
    • Passive sentences. Often passive sentences, especially those with the word was in them, are a tip-off you might be telling instead of showing. The sentence Sally was angry, is telling. Sally’s lips drew down into a thin, taut line, her jaw working side to side, shows us Sally’s anger. We can deduce from the picture that is painted how Sally feels because we know that look.
    • Passages that have very little sensory information. You can tell us the woman smelled good, was sexy, and she knew it, or you can show it by saying John turned to watch her as she strolled between the restaurant tables, her hips swaying like a belly dancer in slow motion. As she neared she tossed her hair behind her shoulder, casting the scent of violets and vanilla in waves toward him. The fragrance made him salivate. Her perfectly manicured nails trailed along his shoulder as she passed by. He shuddered under her touch and she smiled as he looked up at her. Here we know what the woman smells like, how she walks, how John reacts to her and how she reacts to him. Much stronger than just saying she was sexy.
    • “LY” adverbs. ‘LY” adverbs rob sentences of conciseness and force, making your writing weak. Which sounds stronger? The man yelled loudly or The man roared, the sound drowning out the radio. The dog’s tail wagged happily or The dog’s tail wagged in time to his barks as he bounded around the room. The taxi drove very slowly down the street, or The taxi crept at a snail’s pace down the street.

Get the picture? By adding active verbs, sensory information and using fewer “LY” adverbs, you are showing the reader a snapshot of what’s happening.

Here are a few telling phrases. Choose one, or two if you’re ambitious, and see if you can come up with a better picture.

    • skinny lunatic
    • fanatical nun
    • old paper
    • disgruntled employee.
    • frazzled mother.

Share in the comments what you’ve come up with so everyone can see what you created.

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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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

suggestions from Us about ways to keep your characters in turmoil!

We recently came across an old email entitled Instructions for Life. The 45 positive recommendations on the list are meant to help make one’s life better. By turning some of the instructions upside down and we created bad life advice that will keep novel characters in turmoil.

Next time things are going too smoothly with your WIP try throwing one of these in the mix.

    1. Let them believe in love at first sight, but fight it like it can’t exist.
    2. If they make a mistake, don’t let them be too quick to acknowledge it.
    3. Let them fall in love deeply, passionately, and with people they would never choose. They might get hurt, but it’s the only way to live life completely.
    4. Make them fight to keep their values, but make sure they do keep them. No one loves an un-heroic hero.
    5. Remember silence is sometimes the best answer and unanswered questions are always suspect.
    6. Let them dredge up the past; it makes for good conflicts.
    7. Let them read between the lines … a lot. Miscommunication thickens the plot.
    8. Let them slowly discover that not getting what they want is sometimes the best thing that ever happened.
    9. Never let them mind their own business. You can’t get in trouble that way.
    10. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risks, and make them willing to risk everything to get their goals.

Do you have a favorite trick for keeping your characters in turmoil?

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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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Anne Montgomery’s newest Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense from TouchPoint Press releasing September 13, 2021!

Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

PREORDER YOU COPY FROM AMAZON

REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Register & Order Online: TouchPointPress.com/Bookstore
Orders: info@touchpointpress.com


 

Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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Wednesday Special Spotlight

Shines On

Our virtual kitchen with chief Sloane Taylor who brings us her latest cooking ideas and recipies.

I had the great pleasure of attending a cooking class with my friend Bonnie several years ago. We were in New Orleans when this bright idea hit us. That’s what enjoying too many Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter will do to a person. 😊 The next day we were still hot to try our hands at Cajun cooking when we happened on The New Orleans School of Cooking. We enrolled in a class and, as our good luck would have, were the only two students. A great time was had by all!

Since then, I’ve used up all the Joe’s Stuff I bought to season the dish and had to devise a new recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

JAMBALAYA

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup onion, chopped

½ cup celery, chopped

½ cup green pepper, chopped

½ tbsp. garlic, chopped

¾ lb. andouille sausage, sliced to pieces 1 inch thick

2½ cups chicken stock, possibly more

½ tsp. dried thyme

¼ cup paprika

1 tsp. dried oregano

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

½ tsp. tabasco sauce2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup rice

1 cup green onions, chopped, include plenty of green

Warm a Dutch oven on medium heat. Pour in oil. When it shimmers add onion, celery, and green pepper. Sauté 7 – 9 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Adjust heat so onion doesn’t burn. Add garlic. Sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in sausage and stock. Add remaining ingredients, except rice and green onions, and then stir well.

Add rice and bring to a boil. Cover then lower heat to simmer. Cook 25 minutes. Stir well after each 10 minutes so rice doesn’t stick to pan. Add more stock if the food looks dry.

Sprinkle green onions across the rice mixture when you serve.

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


Sloane

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 and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire 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

Gardener extraordinaire Emma Lane who brings us her interpretation of ways to use tomatoes in various dishes.

Inside Greenhouse Three there are vigorously growing hanging nursery pots of tomatoes. These are cherry tomatoes and they come in red or yellow. Medium-sized, these fruits of the vines are just ripe for popping into you mouth without a smidgeon of preparation. Don’t ask me how I know; I’ll never tell.

Hanging Baskets of Tumbling Toms go out of the greenhouse for sale around the first of May and disappear quickly. They may need to be brought in at night, but they are already in bloom with some tiny tomatoes showing. It’s a way to get a jump start on the season for a delicious tomato taste.

Lately I’ve learned to use them in several different ways that liven up a quickly thrown together summer meal. Below are a few ideas. You’ll spin off into your own vivid imagination, I’m certain, adding salads and main dishes. This is quick and easy fixing that leaves plenty of time to enjoy the sunshine outside.

Tumbling Tom Tomato Appetizers

Party Picks Crackers of Choice

There are tons of choices for the bottom of your snack which will wind up being topped by half a cherry tomato. I like plain old saltine, but I do experiment with any and all of the offerings. I need to mention that a homemade loaf of bread makes a fantastic “cracker” cut into small squares. Also, just plain toast cut into squares works well.

Next the Spread

These are just a few of the spreads I’ve used:

(1) Canned potted ham (or a chicken spread) mixed with mayo or a touch of mustard. Occasionally I use a pear relish mixed in that is delish. Mix and spread on your crackers lightly. Don’t glob or your cracker will collapse. Still taste good, but not esthetically attractive so soggy.

(2) I’m mad for the whipped cream cheese. ‘Nuff said about that. It’s pretty simple to spread on your crackers. You can add any old spice that strikes you as interesting. I’ve used Season all Salt, cinnamon, Italian seasoning or just a piece of fresh basil. All good. If you use the basil leaf, add a swipe of creamed cheese to glue it to the cracker else it’ll slide right off.

(3) I’m wild for ricotta cheese, but hubby isn’t so we get to ‘decorate’ our crackers individually.

Meat?

Here I use whatever I’ve got in the kitchen. Sliced ham bits are lovely, a sprinkle of the sausage you had for breakfast is great, a bit of corned beef (just a bit because it’s strong), another cheese either cut to fit the cracker or shredded and sprinkled over. Like the crackers, cheeses come in a great assortment chosen to taste.

You’ll find your own preferences for thickness. Slice the cherry tomato in half or into four slices and top your masterpiece. Use a bit of spread to stick it if toppings tend to slide.

Now is the delicate operation that remains a mystery you might keep to yourself. A very small dot of “Zesty Italian Salad Dressing. Shake first and I promise you, you must use only a very small dot on top the tomato. Voila! You are fini.

A plateful of these colorful snack crackers will disappear in a flash. Be sure you get your share. Enjoy!

May I suggest a peek into one of my Regency releases?

Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?

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

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

EXCERPT
Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.

As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.

Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.
“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.

As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.

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

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