Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No Bake Chocolate Cookies, courtesy of author Sheila Roberts

Angel Lane

Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest. She's happily married and has three children. Writing since 1989, she has had 24 books published, both in fiction and nonfiction under different names and in different languages. However before she settled into her writing career, she did lots of other things, including owning a singing telegram company and playing in a band. But writing and helping others to find ways to make their lives better are her greatest passions.

Her down-to-earth wisdom and quirky upbeat sense of humor make Sheila a popular speaker to groups large and small. Her books are becoming perennial hot sellers. Her book Bikini Season was a Bookscan top 50, a Target Breakout Novel pick and an Amazon Beach Read pick. On Strike for Christmas will be released this year for the third year in the row and has been optioned for film. Her new release Love in Bloom has been chosen as a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book. Now… if she could just get on “Dancing with the Stars”!

You can visit her website at www.sheilasplace.com to find out about her latest women's fiction novel, Angel Lane.

QUICK CHOCOLATE FIX COOKIES


I love chocolate and I’ve been known to hit the kitchen like a ravening beast in search of . . . something, anything chocolate. One of the reasons I love this particular recipe is because it’s quick and easy to make and actually has some good ingredients like oatmeal and peanut butter in it, so it makes a great snack for kids. (Mine always liked it, anyway!) I’ve had this recipe for so many years I don’t even remember where I got it. But I do remember it tastes really good. In fact, I just made some. Aaaah. Chocolate.

No Bake Chocolate Cookies

2 cups sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup cocoa
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup margarine
3 cups oats
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions: Combine in a medium saucepan: sugar, cocoa, milk, and margarine. Boil for one minute. Remove from stove and add oats, peanut butter, and vanilla and stir until mixed. After mixture cools a little drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.

Makes 2 dozen. (Use a smaller spoon and you’ll get more)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Deputy Tempe Crabtree's Recipes, Courtesy of Author Marily Meredith

Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s Recipes

Tempe isn’t much of a cook, her minister husband comes up with better recipes that she does. However, here are a couple of her favorites because they are quick and tasty:

Beef Stroganoff with Hamburger

1 pound lean hamburger
1 onion, chopped
2 T. Worchestershire sauce
1 can tomato soup
½ soup can water
Sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small container sour cream

Brown hamburger and onions in a large skillet. Add Worchestershire sauce, soup and water. Stir and cook until hot. Stir in mushrooms. Add sour cream. Mix well. Serve over cooked noodles or rice.

Mini Pizzas

1 package of English muffins
1 can of pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Toppings of choice: Pepperoni, canned mushrooms are Tempe’s favorites.

Open muffins and put each half on a baking pan. Put a spoonful of pizza sauce, sprinkle cheese on each one, and arrange toppings. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until the cheese melts. Depending upon how many people you are feeding, increase the amount of ingredients.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest, Dispel the Mist from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.

She is a member of EPIC, four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, WOK, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. She was an instructor for Writer’s Digest School for ten years, served as an instructor at the Maui Writer’s Retreat and many other writer’s conferences. She makes her home in Springville CA, much like Bear Creek where Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com/.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

A Tulare County Supervisor, with both Native American and Mexican roots, dies under suspicious circumstances. Because of Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s own ties to the Bear Creek Indian Reservation, she’s asked to help with the investigation. To complicate matters, besides the supervisor’s husband, several others had reason to want the woman dead.

Tempe has unsettling dreams, dreams that may predict the future and bring back memories of her grandmother’s stories about the legend of the Hairy Man. Once again, Tempe’s life is threatened and this time, she fears no one will come to her rescue in time.

WHAT PEOPLE HAVE SAID ABOUT BOOKS IN THE DEPUTY TEMPE CRABTREE SERIES!

“…Calling the Dead, Judgment Fire and now Kindred Spirits are books not to be missed. The mystery as well as the way Hutch and Tempe work out their differences makes for interesting reading.”Patricia Reid, Best Sellers World

“…Marilyn Meredith has her own unique writing style which brings her readers in and allows them to put the pieces together like a puzzle, and to help solve the mystery as they are engaged in the reading of her work…”Terry South, Quality Book Reviews

“…You cannot go wrong with Tempe Crabtree.”Sarah Brewley, WP Book Reviews

“Marilyn’s stories flow and you don’t want to put the book down. I can’t wait for the next one to go on sale.”Keith Bettinger, Author of: Fighting Crime With “Some” Day and Lenny, or What Happens When Car 54 Where Are You Meets Dragnet

EXCERPT:

Her first dream was about her grandmother. Once again, Tempe was a child, cuddling against the soft warm body. Grandma’s nut brown wrinkled face, always expressive when she told Tempe the Indian stories. Love for her granddaughter apparent in her dark eyes. Tempe smelled the lavender that grandma always sprinkled into her dresser drawers. In the dream, she told a story Tempe had never heard before.

In the old days, women learned never to leave their acorn meal unattended. All day long they made ground acorns on the big rocks near the river. Then they took the meal down to the water to wash out the poison. They left it in the sun to dry, but when they came back it was gone.

Grandma paused dramatically and Tempe gasped. Who could have taken the acorn meal?

None of the women took it. None of the children took it. When they looked around they found big footprints in the sand where they left the meal, so they knew the Hairy Man had eaten it. He liked Indian food too and was smart enough to know he needed to wait until the acorn meal was leached of its bitterness before he took it. After that, they always set aside a portion of the leached meal for the Hairy Man. The women always wondered if the sound of them pounding the acorns let him know when it was time to come for his share of the food.

Tempe wanted to ask her grandmother questions about the Hairy Man, like did he still come for the acorn meal, but she faded away.

The only reason Tempe remembered this dream was because she had an urgent need to go to the bathroom. On her way back to bed, she noticed Hutch hadn’t joined her, so it must still be evening. Still sleepy, she thought briefly about the dream deciding it had absolutely no relationship to Supervisor Quintera’s death and promptly returned to her slumber.

Her next dream was a nightmare. Tempe knew she was on the reservation, but it was different looking as familiar places often are in dreams. The buildings all seemed dilapidated and badly in need of repair though she couldn’t see them clearly because of a grayish-yellow swirling mist surrounding everything. Jagged black mountain peaks poked through the clouds. Though she was alone, a feeling of menace was so prevalent, she could almost smell it.

In fact, she did smell a sour aroma mixed with smoke, like someone was burning trash with something toxic in it. Not knowing exactly what to do or where to go, she walked down the road which instead of being paved was dirt, and filled with rocks. No vehicles were around, either moving or parked.

Without warning, a large man who resembled Cruz Murphy stepped out of the fog. He held up a hand, palm out. “Stop. Danger ahead.”

“Maybe I can help,” Tempe said, moving closer to him, but as she did, he faded into the mist.

“Chief Murphy. Cruz, wait. Tell me what’s going on. I need to know.”

He didn’t answer, but another figure appeared from the gloom, Daniel Burcena dressed all in black. His features sharp and menacing. “You should heed warnings that are given to you. You may have native blood flowing through your veins, but your heart isn’t on the reservation. Everyone who lives here can see that. Go back where you came from.”

“I loved my grandmother,” Tempe said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t proud of my Indian heritage. Let me make it up to her.”

“It’s too late. Way too late.”

A warning siren blew. People ran from the buildings, spilling out onto the road and crowding around Tempe. What was going on? The siren stopped for a moment. It sounded again. More shrill this time. It stopped and then shrieked again.

It was the phone. Tempe shook the nightmare from her mind and picked up the receiver. “Deputy Crabtree.”

A strange voice, one that sounded like it was electronically altered growled, “Stay away from Painted Rock.”

Marilyn Meredith’s DISPEL THE MIST VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR ‘09 will officially begin on Oct. 5 and end on Oct. 30. You can visit Marilyn’s blog stops at http://www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com/ during the month of October to find out more about this great book and talented author!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Saka-Saka courtesy of author Balthazar Rodrigue Nzomono-Balenda

Saka-Saka (Cassava Leaves)

Saka-Saka (Saca-Saca, Sakasaka, and also known as Mpondou, Mpondu, or Pondu) is the Congolese word for cassava leaves, and the name of a dish made from them. Could “saka” be a Congolese pronunciation of “cassava”, doubled for an emphasis on quantity to name a dish wherein cassava leaves are the main ingredient?

Central African people seem to be unique in their consumption of cassava leaves, which are cooked as greens. Elsewhere in the world, the cassava (or manioc, yuca, or yucca) plant is cultivated only for its tubers.

Cassava leaves are found only in the tropics. If you can pick your own fresh cassava leaves, select the smaller, newer leaves; the larger, older ones are tough. If cassava leaves are not available, substitute collards, kale, turnip greens, or similar. As a writer, I always do my best to take my health seriously by eating traditional food. When I have this dish, I feel like I have a desire for more and more. I am a big eater, believe me.

Ingredients:

Lots of cassava greens stems removed, cleaned, and cut or torn into pieces
A few spoonfuls of palm oil, Moambé Sauce, or any oil
One onion, chopped
One clove garlic, minced
Sweet green pepper and/or sweet red pepper, chopped (optional)
Eggplant (peeled, cubed, rinsed, and salted) or okra, chopped (optional)
Salt, or baking soda, to taste
One piece of dried, salted, or smoked fish; or one can of pilchards; or one can of sardines

Directions:
Throughly crush, mash, or grind the greens in a mortar and pestle or with whatever you can improvise. (roll them with a rolling pin, crush them in a heavy bowl with the bottom of a sturdy bottle, etc.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add greens and cook for thirty minutes or more (much more if using cassava leaves).

Add all the remaining ingredients to the greens and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Do not stir. Simmer until the water is mostly gone and the greens are cooked to a pulp.

Serve aside with a fried chicken, meat, very hot chili. With rice, fufu or batton de manioc ( cassava tubes)




Balthazar Rodrigue Nzomono-Balenda is not only an author and a poet, but also a student, multimedia designer and translator. His previous books include The Depth of My Soul and The Struggle for Power and the Fight for Survival. Balthazar became interested in poetry by accident in 2003 when he wasn’t satisfied with the way things were going in his early studies and in the Danish society. His latest book is Freedom of Press: The Sitting Duck. You can visit Balthazar on the web at http://www.redroom.com/author/balthazar-rodrigue-nzomono-balenda.



Balthazar uses poetry as a tool in his book, Freedom of press the sitting duck to express himself about circumstances journalists can face, when they do their reporting in their countries or overseas. He was inspired by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour’s message on Youtube about journalists getting, kidnapped, tortured or even killed for their works. He learned that most of the time, journalists are silenced by killers who are hired by those who cannot stand the idea of an independent press. In more than 85% of cases, no one was ever arrested or convicted for a crime. Balthazar agrees with Christiane Amanpour about CPJ’s advocacy making a difference because he believes that in a healthy society, freedom of press is part of reporter’s rights to express themselves freely. Even if Balthazar is not a journalists nor he’s interested in journalism, but his objectives with this book, Freedom of press the sitting duck is also to relate situations journalists face, while doing their work and others who may have different occupations, but dealing with similar situations: Human Rights activists, Greenpeace activists, authors, freedom fighters, bloggers, aid workers, NGOs etc. Balthazar’s approach is that journalists are also people who have a right to their profession and the message, which he has to his readers, is that in our Western societies, we must not take freedom of press for granted and he believes that CPJ must keep fighting for justice against murders who have walked away from their wordings with impunity. Peace without justice is like setting yourself unrealistic goals.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sonoma Chicken Salad Courtesy of Author Kathy Balland

Kathy Balland is the author of the award-winning book: Lose the Diet – Transform your body by connection with your soul. For a FREE half hour guided meditation audio to help you relax and reconnect, sign up at: www.LoseTheDiet.com. The book trailer is at: www.DietFreeMovie.com. Follow Kathy on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/LosetheDiet.

This is one of my favorite summer recipes. Besides the dressing, there are only four ingredients! It’s simple, cool and delicious. The nutty flavor from the toasted pecans, the texture of the crunchy celery and the sweet flavor from the grapes make a great combination. The simple dressing mixed in with the chicken tops it all off. You can even buy already cooked chicken, including cooked sliced chicken, which makes it even easier.

As I say in my book Lose the Diet the only other thing you need to add is intention. Simply add a dash of love to your food. After all: If you love your food, your food will love you!
Sonoma Chicken Salad (from Whole Foods)

Ingredients

Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
5 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Salad
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or cooked chicken)
3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted
2 cups red seedless grapes
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

Method
In a bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.

Toast the pecans by putting them in a pan on medium heat, and stirring for a few minutes until they become toasted, but not burned. Place the pecans in the refrigerator to cool.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes until completely cooked through. Remove cooked chicken breasts from pan, cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate. When the chicken is cold, dice into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Breakfast Sausage Pizza

Ingredients:

12 ozs. pork sausage links
10 ozs. can refrigerated pizza crust dough
2 cups frozen hash brown potatoes with onions and peppers, partially thawed
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cook sausage according to package directions; drain. Press crust into lightly greased 14-inch pizza pan, forming a 1/2 inch rim. Bake 5 minutes. Arrange potatoes, sausage, and green pepper over crust. Whisk together eggs, milk, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Pour over pizza.

Sprinkle top with cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown and eggs are set.

Makes 6 servings

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Noodles Romanoff

Ingredients:

8 ozs. extra wide egg noodles, uncooked
1 1/2 cups creamed cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
dash Tabasco sauce

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and tabasco sauce. Gently combine noodles with the cottage cheese mixture. Pour into 2 1/2 quart casserole. Top with grated cheese. Bake, uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.

4-6 servings

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Win a Copy of "Just Food" by James McWilliams

I am giving away 5 copies of this book on my book review blog - Review From Here. Head over there to check out what you need to do to win and good luck!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Country Fried Steak Courtesy of Kim Smith, Author of "A Will to Love"

About the Author:

Kim Smith is the hostess for the popular radio show, Introducing WRITERS! Radio show on Blog Talk Radio. She is also the author of the zany, Shannon Wallace mystery series available now from Red Rose Publishing and also the new romance novel, A Will to Love.


You can visit Kim’s website at http://www.mkimsmith.com/


About the Book:

Benton Jessup wants his bed and breakfast to be successful. He will go to no lengths to insure that it does. But when Kitty Beebe, a famous romance author, arrives at The Inn, his desire for success becomes a struggle of wills with love.


Kim Smith’s Country Fried Steak

Country fried steak is my best friend. As a writer, I am always looking for quick, nutritious, and tasty stuff to cook, so I can get on with the business of putting words to paper. So, it just doesn’t get any better than this, yall! *Yes, I am channeling Paula Deen here, because well, she’s a Southern gal, too! Serve these steaks with some form of potato, like mashed with gravy, yum yum, and a bagged salad and you are set for the night. Oh, and fresh from the garden, home-grown tomatoes would be right as rain, too!

Ingredients:

1 lb. Round steak, or sirloin tip steak
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
oil for frying

Gravy:

3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
½ cup chicken broth
salt and pepper

Cut meat up into about four pieces and use meat pulverizer on each. Pound until about a fourth of an inch thick. Heat oil in skillet. In a bowl, beat egg into milk. In separate bowl, place ½ cup of flour with paprika, pepper, and about ½ teaspoon of salt. Dip meat into egg mix, then flour mix, then place in hot oil. Brown on both sides for about 2-3 minutes then lower heat to medium, cover the skillet, and let steak fry like chicken for about 10-12 minutes. Remove cover and let steak crisp for 2 mins. Remove from skillet.

Leave the crispies in the skillet and about 2 tablespoons of oil. Place the 3 tablespoons of flour in the skillet and cook, stirring until all the flour is brown. Slowly add the milk and broth and cook for a few minutes until bubbly and thick.

Okay, now I have to go eat. I am starving just thinking about this! I hope you enjoy it!

Kim Smith is the author of the romance novel, A Will to Love. You can visit her website at http://www.mkimsmith.com/


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Monday, July 20, 2009

Chuck's Favorite Mac and Cheese

It's been too long - life has been pretty hectic and I'm sorry about that. But, here's one of my favorite recipes. I found it on Allrecipes years ago and have made it numerous times and my family never gets tired of it. Here goes:


INGREDIENTS:

1 (8 ounce) package elbow macaroni
1 (8 ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (12 ounce) container small curd cottage cheese
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add pasta, and cook until done; drain.
2.In 9x13 inch baking dish, stir together macaroni, shredded Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle topping over macaroni mixture.
3.Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Overnight Caramel French Toast

This is one of my family's favorite recipes. We make it every few months not only because it's easy but delicious as well. You have to try this one - no need for syrup as the caramel glaze is perfect on the top (once you invert the pieces after baking). Enjoy!


INGREDIENTS

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
12 slices bread
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

1.In a small saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Top with six slices of bread. Combine sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle half over the bread. Place remaining bread on top. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar; set aside.

2.In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining cinnamon. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

3.Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Danish Pudding Dessert

This is my Uncle RJ's favorite dessert. I don't think about it too often because we usually only have it for his birthday. I love it and think I'll start making it more.

Crust:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup nuts

Mix like a pie crust and put into a 13x9" pan patting down. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes and let cool.

1st layer:

2-8 ozs. packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup nuts
5-6 bananas

Combine well and spread over the pie crust. Cut 5-6 bananas into slices and place over the creams cheese mixture.

2nd layer:

2 pkgs danish dessert (Junket)

Add 3 1/2 cups cold water to the danish dessert and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Let cool and pour over bananas. Refrigerate until set.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Four Foods Meme 82

I finally hit the jackpot and found a site that deals only with meme's. I admit it, I love these! This meme can be found at Fun, Crafts, and Recipes.

Here are this week’s four questions. I’m trying something a little different again.

#1. Lynne’s question. Do you cook items besides meat on the bbq grill, and, do you prefer gas or charcoal grills?

We do cook vegetables occasionally on the grill, mostly corn on the cob or potatoes. In the words of my husband, if it's not charcoal it's not grilling out.

#2. Name a food that begins with A.

Angus beef

#3. Name a drink that begins with A.

Ale

#4. Share a recipe for something that calls for American Cheese.

My oldest daughters favorite breakfast is cheesy eggs, which is truly just scrambled eggs cooked until they are almost done. Then you take american cheese (we use Kraft) and tear it into strips until it melts. Yummy!

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Chocolate Banana Cake

Ingredients:

2/3 cups shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
2 or 3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup sour milk - 1 tsp. vinegar
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Sift dry ingredients and set aside. Cream shortening. Add sugar and cream well. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each. Add vanilla and cocoa and beat until blended. Alternate adding the dry ingredients, banana, and milk until well blended.

Grease and flour a 13x9" pan. Add mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until done.

This cake (along with the Banana Spice Cake) are delicious alone. But a good chocolate frosting on this is delicious. Or cream cheese. Whatever you prefer. Enjoy!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mumpy's Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is a recipe from a friend of mine and is delicious and couldn't be easier!

Ingredients:

1 cup butter at room temp
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beat well
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder

Combine dry ingredients. Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Gradually add the dry ingredients until well blended.

Grease and flour a 13x9" pan. Add the mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until done. Top the coffee cake with pats of butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Yummy!

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Banana Spice Cake

I was visiting my Nana and Papa this past weekend and due to her ill health she was unable to bake. She had me bake two cakes to use up the leftover bananas. The other will be posted tomorrow - not sure I could pick a favorite!

Ingredients:
2 0r 3 bananas =1 cup
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup sour milk (1 tsp. vinegar to regular milk)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup nuts

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each. Add lemon juice, sour milk, and vanilla and beat well. Alternate between adding the bananas and dry ingredients until well blended.

Grease and flour a 13x9" pan. Add the banana mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until done.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Butter Chicken Courtesy of Author Candace Havens





I was lucky enough to get Candace to agree to submit a recipe to my blog.



It was hard for me to come up with my favorite recipe because I have so many. To be honest I only learned to love cooking in the last few years. I’ve done it for many, many years, but didn’t enjoy it until Rachael Ray and Paula Deen invaded my life. After meeting them, I realized what I was missing out on. So here is one of my favorites, that the whole family enjoys.

I searched for some Butter Chicken recipes after having Indian food with my agent Elaine Spencer. It took me awhile but I found just the right combination of ingredients and I love it. It’s a really easy dish to put together.

Butter Chicken
1/2 stick of butter
1 onion
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
2 tsps crushed garlic
2 tsps crushed ginger
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
2 tsps chili powder
5 chicken breasts (Cubed or bite size)
8 oz tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1cup unsweetened yogurt, or heavy cream, or sour cream depending on flavor you like (I’ve used them all)
Brown rice or broad egg noodles

Melt butter in large frying pan on low heat with cinnamon. Chop onion and add to pan. While onion is cooking, you want it to be almost clear but not brown, get your rice or noodles ready depending on what the package says. When the onions are soft, add all of the remaining spices and let them warm in the middle of the pan before you stir. Add your cubed chicken and cook until the chicken turns white on med-high heat. Once the chicken is white, lower heat and add the tomato sauce and paste, and stir. Cook on low heat with lid, for 25-30 minutes. Then slowly add yogurt (or cream, or sour cream) and cook through (about two minutes). Serve on the rice or noodles. Not only is this dish delicious, it makes your house smell amazing and people will think you’ve been cooking all day!

About the Author:


Candace "Candy" Havens is a best selling and award-winning author. Her novels include "Charmed & Dangerous", "Charmed & Ready", "Charmed & Deadly", "Like A Charm" and "The Demon King and I". She is known for writing strong female characters, who save the world, but aren't exactly perfect. She is a two-time RITA, Write Touch Reader and Holt Medallion finalist. She is also the winner of the Barbara Wilson award.

Candy is a nationally syndicated entertainment columnist for FYI Television. A veteran journalist she has interviewed just about everyone in Hollywood from George Clooney and Orlando Bloom to Nicole Kidman and Kate Beckinsale. You can hear Candy weekly on 96.3 KSCS in the Dallas Fort Worth Area.

Her popular online Writer's Workshop has more than 1000 students and provides free classes to professional and aspiring writers.

For more information on this author or her books visit www.candacehavens.com
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Sweet Onion Pork Chops

I've decided to make every Friday a freezer Friday. What is Freezer Friday you ask? I am going to post recipes that freeze well for use in the future.

It has been awhile but I used to do Once A Month Cooking. I really wish I could find the time to do it again and really may just bite the bullet and get back to it. Not only does it save a bunch of money, it also saves a bunch of time in the long run. You have a day or two of intense cooking and the rest of the month is free.

Anyway, here is the recipe. I haven't tried this one and am not a fan of pork chops, but think my family would really enjoy it!

Ingredients:

8 boneless pork loin chops (3/4 inch thick and 8 ounces each)
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (such as Maui onion)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup French salad dressing
1/2 cup honey

Heat oil in a large skillet and brown pork chops on both sides. You will need to do them in batches. Once all are browned, put all pork chops back into the skillet. In a small bowl combine sugar, onion, ketchup, barbecue sauce, dressing and honey, stirring well. Pour sauce over pork chops, then bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover skillet and simmer for 12-14 minutes, or until meat is cooked through and tender. Cool comnpletely and place in freezer container. Split into two if desired, ensuring equal amount of sauce goes in each.

On cooking day:
Thaw pork chops overnight. Heat skillet and add pork chops and sauce. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes, or until pork chops are thoroughly heated. Serve.


These pork chops are great with rice.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Regency Queen Cakes Courtesy of Hazel Statham, Author of "Lizzie's Rake"

Because I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, I’m afraid I rarely do any baking nowadays, but I thought I would share this recipe I recently found with you. I am assured they are delicious.

Regency Queen Cakes
Ingredients
• 450 g self raising flour
• 450 g sugar
• 450 g butter
• 225 g currants
• 110 g almonds, ground
• 6 eggs
• 1-2 tablespoon rose water
• mace
• paper, cases

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 190C/374F/gas mark 5.
2. Sift the flour and mace together.
3. Beat the eggs.
4. Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly.
5. Beat the eggs, rose water and melted butter together.
6. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture.
7. Add the liquid mixture and mix thoroughly.
8. Add the currants, sugar and the ground almonds and mix well.
9. Put a heaped spoon of the cake mixture in to the paper cases, or a well buttered patty or muffin tin.
10. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until well risen, firm and golden brown.

You can ice them if you wish, using a thin mixture applied with a brush, more like a glaze.



If I may, I'd like to share my new Regency Romance release, 'Lizzie's Rake', with you

Here is a brief blurb:

Can a rake reform his ways and truly love? Lizzie's head tells her one thing, her heart another.
Infamous rake and Corinthian, Maxim Beaufort, Earl of St. Ive, finding himself in possession of a property in Yorkshire, is unprepared for the changes it will bring into his life.
Irresistibly drawn to Elizabeth Granger, the former owner’s daughter, he attempts to help the family, finding himself filling the role of benefactor.
When the house is razed to the ground, he arranges for temporary accommodation for Elizabeth and her siblings on his estate and when Elizabeth rejects his proposal of marriage, he is nonetheless determined to win her over.
However, events and his reputation conspire to thwart his efforts and his course is one fraught with dangers.
Trust does not come easily and determined to protect her heart, Elizabeth struggles to resist her own longings. At times, their difficulties appear insurmountable but the earl is widely known as ‘The Indomitable’ and the name was not lightly earned.

A brief excerpt:

“Indeed you have, my dear,” he said earnestly, and she raised her eyes quickly to his face. He moved away as if the look discomfited him and there existed a silence between them, only the stamping of the horses’ hooves as they moved restlessly in the stalls invading the moment.
Suddenly turning and coming to stand before her, St. Ive asked quietly, “Do you still think of me as an intruder, Elizabeth? Am I still not welcome in your home?”
“Maxim…” she began, and would have turned away but immediately his arm detained her, drawing her back to face him. For a long moment his searching gaze devoured her face until, tilting back her chin with his free hand, he bowed his head and kissed her.
As the gentle kiss turned more demanding and he drew her tightly to his chest, he became aware that her soft lips remained frozen beneath his and she held her delicate frame rigid within his embrace. The fear in her eyes cut through him and immediately he released her from his arms.
“Why?” she demanded, the instant she was set free, bewilderment heavy in her voice.
“Why?” he repeated softly, almost as if he spoke to himself, a slight smile on his lips, and after the briefest hesitation he said flippantly, “Because you have rain on your face, my dear.”
“Odious, detestable man,” she cried angrily, running out into the night, not even pausing to take up her lantern.
He stood watching as the dark downpour devoured her.

*****

This is my first release with The Wild Rose Press and is available as both a paperback from
http://www.amazon.com/Lizzies-Rake-Hazel-Statham/dp/1601544650/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240305244&sr=1-3
and e-book http://www.thewildrosepress.com/lizzies-rake-p-1236.html?zenid=479dbc0fc788bfc3ca1602a8436eb24a
and from www.fictionwise.com

It is the first of my books to also be available in the UK and can be ordered from www.amazon.co.uk or by quoting
• ISBN-10: 1601544650
• ISBN-13: 978-1601544650
at your local bookshop.

Please visit my website www.hazel-statham.co.uk for details of my other books

I love to hear from my readers so please do not hesitate to contact me with your comments or questions.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ham Noodle Dinner

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles
1 celery rib, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 can (10 3/4 ozs) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 package (10 ozs) frozen peas, thawed
1 cup (4 ozs) shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. ground mustard

Directions:

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain. In a large skillet, saute celery and onion in oil until tender. Stir in the noodles and remaining ingredients. Transfer to a greased 2 qt. baking dish. Cover and back at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until heated through.

Serves 4-6

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

It's that time again- it's going to be another easy week because it's going to be pretty busy. I'll try to post recipes for those that need them. Here goes:

Monday - Brats and hot dogs on the grill, french fries, and a salad
Tuesday - Ham Noodle Casserole
Wednesday - Tomato Garlic Chicken, salad, rolls
Thursday - Cheeseburger Pie, salad
Friday - Eat out
Saturday - Ranch chicken and rice
Sunday - Hamburgers and pork chops on the grill, roasted potatoes and veggies, salad

Have a great week and happy eating!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A new trick for coloring Easter Eggs, Courtesy of Author Elizabeth Walker

I can't wait for Easter to try this - to be honest we may just try it before. With a 4 and 5 year old, and a husband that doesn't have a whole lot of patience, this sounds like the perfect way to color Easter eggs. And I bet the colors turn out fabulous! Here it is - thanks so much Elizabeth for sharing!

An "ooooh! Ahhhh!" Egg coloring recipe.
I know, I know - Easter is over but....It really is my favorite recipe! After I share it with you, If you'll bear with me, I'll explain why.

What you need:
Small eggs (not boiled)
Old SILK ties, blouses, or boxer shorts with colorful patterns (Thrift stores are a great place to pick these up!)
Old WHITE cotton sheet, t-shirt or pillow case
Twist ties
Vinegar
Glass or enamel pot ( no reactive metal because you will adding the vinegar )


What you do with it:
Cut your old silk ties and white cotton fabric into squares big enough to wrap around the entire egg.
Wrap the unboiled egg snugly in a silk square, with the bright side of the pattern against the eggshell. Wrap the white cotton fabric square snuggly on the outside of the silk and twist tie at the top.
Put wrapped eggs into the pot and fill with water.
Add ¼ cup of vinegar to pot of water.
Bring to boil.
Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes.
Remove wrapped eggs with tongs and allow eggs to cool.
Unwrap your little masterpieces!!

I packed up my 4 messy (as usual) little boys and headed to my mother in law’s house on the Saturday before Easter. We always get together for holidays. We don’t always color eggs together, but this year she and my sister in law asked if we could. Now, I want you to understand that I love Easter, I do – but I don’t love my dyed fingers or the thin, dark line that stains the underside of my fingernails making it look like I haven’t washed since the last time I made a mud pie, or the pastel colored children that are most always the result of dying Easter eggs! We do it every year, but if I can be honest for a moment - I dread those messy little dye tablets…I do, I really really do (I couldn’t possibly be alone here). So, I was looking forward to trying the "tie dye". It sounded different and fun, and less messy, so…off we went to "tie dye" our Easter eggs.

The boys and their two cousins (on their father’s side) set to work, only slightly enthusiastically at first, on wrapping the eggs in their ties. We all talked and giggled and wondered what each pattern was going to look like, hoping they would turn out bright and beautiful. Eventually the kids wandered off and left us three ladies to begin the boiling. The kids played and bounced and giggled in the background while Mother and daughters in-law giggled and swapped stories in the kitchen. I hadn’t really had fun dying Easter eggs since I was little. I wasn’t even entirely confident in how the eggs would look when they came out, but I was enjoying myself and the kids were enjoying themselves…..and there was no dye on the carpet, fingers, shirts, table cloth, etc!

After boiling and cooling the eggs, we all gathered together again to unveil the patterns and colors that were transferred onto the eggs. Little fingers grabbed and unraveled one at a time. From the first egg right down to the very last, the kitchen was filled with "oooohh’s," and "aaaaahhh’s," and "This one’s mine," and "Mom, this one’s for you!" They were beautiful, and every one that we opened was so different from the last even though some of them were created with the same tie. The kids loved it. The adults loved it. It was a major Easter egg success.

Well, leave it up to me to try to find a lesson in everything, but I couldn’t help it. In the car on the way home I found myself thinking about how, we wrapped these plain white eggs in patterns and colors that we loved, and hoped would turn out great, but really – in the beginning – it was just that; hope. We didn’t really know how they would turn out, we just put our best into them and, well …. Hoped the best would come out.

It seemed so similar, in essence, to raising the very children that prepared the eggs for the pot. Every day we wake our children, clean them, feed them, tell them we love them, remind them to be good and do what’s right – then we send them (at times reluctantly) out the door to the "boiling pot" out there in the big world, and we hope that we have wrapped them well enough in morals and common sense and faith, that they will come out of the pot unique and magnificent. Sometimes we worry, other times we wonder, all times we hope. All in all, I suspect our little patterns will transfer – a little different on one than on another – but they will transfer….so long as we don’t let ourselves get too worried about the mess, and make sure that we spend the time it takes to wrap them up well in all the "colors" that we want to share with them. When the day comes that my kids take off the wrappings I struggled to keep on them, and head for the boiling pot of their own accord, I suspect my heart will make noises similar to the ones in the kitchen on that happy Saturday before Easter this year, as little by little I get to witness the masterpiece that each of them has turned out to be.


About the Author:

Elizabeth Walker is the author of the memoir, The Tablet of My Heart. You can visit her website at www.tabletofmyheart.net.

About the Book:

The world turns upside down for a young girl when her father begins a fatal battle with the merciless affliction cancer. Before his illness finishes it’s devastating rampage through her adolescence, she is confronted by a new demon. She falls victim, by the hands of a trusted adult, to sexual abuse. The devastation of these events causes her to question God’s roll in her life, and whether He ever loved her at all. The Tablet of My Heart is a collection of Poetry from the journal of that young girl. It is narrated by the author of the journal herself, who paints a portrait of words illustrating her emotional journey from hopelessness to healing. It is dedicated to victims of abuse; to bring to them the realization of hope that there is a light at the end of the silence.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Dinner Solution Software Giveaway

What a great giveaway over at $5 Dinners, but you better hurry, it ends tomorrow! To enter visit http://www.5dollardinners.com/ for details!

Banana Nut Brownie Bites Courtesy of Jackie Morgan

I saw Jackie talking about these on Facebook awhile back and thought they sounded great. She was kind enough to share the recipe with me. If you want to check out her fantastic blog please visit Literary Escapism

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 pkg brownie mix + ingredients for cake-like brownies
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Chop the peanuts using a food chopper.
In a bowl, mix together the bananas, oil, eggs and water (which is required for the brownie mix). Mix (or blend) until everything is smooth and then add the brownie mix. Mix (or blend) until everything is smooth again and then mix in the peanuts.

Spoon out the batter into the mini-muffin pan until each slot is 3/4 full.
Bake for 13 minutes.

Yield: about 6 dozen brownie bites

Variation: Substitute pretzels for the bananas. I haven’t tried this yet, but I am so going to.

We made these yesterday and they are delicious! I will be making the prezel variety today to see how these turn out. My family loved these and I also like the size as they are perfect for my little ones to snack on. An, a lot less messy than a regular brownie. Yummy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

20 Garlic Chicken (in the crockpot)


This has been one of my family's favorite recipes for quite some time. Let me say that I don't eat the skin on the chicken and the meat has a nice mild flavor and stays very moist. Depending on how you place the garlic the skin can have a mild to moderate garlic flavor (according to my husband) but it is still delicious! Here is the recipe (picture to the left is the before):


Ingredients:


3-4 pounds chicken
1 large onion, sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. pepper
20-40 garlic cloves, peeled but intact



Directions:


Place the onion slices in the bottom of your crockpot (I use a 6 quart). In a large bowl blend the olive oil, kosher salt, paprika and pepper. When well blended, rub it onto each piece of chicken and place on top of the onions, trying to cover each one the best you can (I usually double the amount of oil, salt, paprika, and pepper to make sure I have enough).


Place the garlic cloves around the chicken and cover. Cook on low 6-8 hours.



Makes 6 servings.



Note:

You will need a fork for this one:) Hubby tried to eat a drumstick and as he picked it up the meat literally fell off of the bone, lol! The garlic (a few pieces of which you can see here) can also be spread on some nice dinner rolls, they are very soft and have a nice mild flavor. We have made this before and it is a keeper in our house!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday May 11, 2009

Monday - Barbecue cheese stuffed meatloaf with potatoes and baby carrots

Tuesday - 20 garlic chicken(in crock pot) with buttered noodles and steamed veggies

Wednesday- Round steak casserole (in crock pot)

Thursday - Leftovers Buffet

Friday - Creamy tomoato, meatballs, and rice bake

Saturday - Burgers, fries, and baked beans

Sunday - My baby's birthday party at The Wisconsin Timber Rattler's game

Will try to post recipes for these (if they require a recipe) as I make them. Or, add a link to them if I have already posted them. Thanks for stopping!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Yum, yum...you've got to try this!

Ingredients:

15 oreo cookies, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
8 ozs. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Chocolate syrup
Mini Reese's peanut butter cups

Mix oreo cookie crumbs and melted butter together and press into the sides and bottom of a pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes. Cool. Using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, cream cheese, and 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla in a medium size bowl until peaks form. Fold cream mixture into peanut butter mixture. Spoon into crust. Refrigerate until firm. Decorate with chocolate syrup and penaut butter cups.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

First/Last Day Cake Recipe Courtesy of Author HBF Teacher

This recipe is perfect for a group of teacher friends (or any group of good friends) on the first or last day of school or hey, any day where you need to relax. Compliments of HBF Teacher, the author of No Teachers Left Behind, please enjoy.

First/Last Day Cake

Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix, without pudding (yes I said box because everything should not be done the hard way).
1 box (3 ½ oz) instant vanilla pudding (please see the previously mentioned note).
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 shot of Canadian Club whiskey (1 ½ oz)
½ cup cooking oil (I use vegetable just because it’s the healthy thing to do)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Additional ingredients for the Cake Topping:
¼ pound (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup Canadian Club whiskey
1 Bottle of the tastiest/cheapest wine you can find (not used for any portion of the cake, but gee, it tastes good going down). Add an additional bottle of wine for each additional group member.

Now get the cooking party started:
Place any George Clooney movie in the DVD/TV player in your kitchen. For extra flavor, select one of the Ocean’s movies – that way you can have a George, Matt, and Brad trio. Looking at them will make the stirring more fun. Be sure and have your first glass of wine when George Clooney appears on screen the first time.

Combine the cake mix, pudding, eggs, milk, whiskey (shot glass), oil, and walnuts.
Mix for 3 minutes then pour into a greased floured tube pane.
If exhausted after all this work, please have another glass of wine.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.
While cake is baking, remember to lust over George Clooney with wine and friends. During the last five to ten minutes of bake time, be sure and pre-make your syrup topping.
Remove cake from oven, but leave the cake in the pan.
Poke holes with a meat fork in the top of the cake.
Pour about two thirds of the syrup topping (see directions below) over the cake and let stand for about thirty minutes.
Remove the cake from the pan and pour the remaining syrup over the cake.
Enjoy with more wine, friends, and George.

**Syrup Topping directions:
To make the topping, melt the butter, add the sugar and whiskey and cook until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is syrupy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



HBF Teacher has been a public school Middle grades teacher for three years. Before that, HBF substitute taught for two years. HBF has also worked as a live-in nanny and an accounts payable representative. Today when not nurturing young minds, HBF enjoys travel, photography, culinary arts, and the cinema. The Cohen Brothers and Tyler Perry are among her favorite artistic contributors.

You can find HBF Teacher online at http://www.noteachersleftbehind.info/.





ABOUT THE BOOK:



Explored through a series of poems, emails, and brief conversations, No Teachers Left Behind is a fictional yet realistic look at the frustrations of middle school staff.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sun Dried Tomato Dip Courtesy of Author Jenny Gardiner

I have been making this simple appetizer for years and every time I serve it anywhere, people ask for the recipe. I found it in a newspaper probably almost 15 years ago in an article about local community cookbooks--this was from a cookbook put out by the Great Falls Elementary School PTA. It's totally addicting and fabulous with really fresh french bread slices:

SUN DRIED TOMATO DIP

12 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
7-oz. (1 jar) roasted red peppers, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbl. chopped parsley
1 tbl. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
dash salt
4 oz. cream cheese, softened and cubed
1/2 c. sour cream

Rinse & pat dry tomatoes and red peppers. In food processor w/ blade, chop garlic and parsley. Add tomatoes and peppers, and puree. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add cream cheese and sour cream. Process till smooth, scraping sides of bowl to mix thoroughly. Serve immediately, or cover and chill. Serve on baguette slices

About the Author:

Writing has always been my “thing,” despite that D I got in handwriting in second grade (thanks a lot Mrs. Garvin). Early on I learned I could boost my flagging math grades by writing extra-credit reports. I figured if I couldn't compute, at least I could snow job my way into a better grade. Ah, the fine art of fiction writing.

As I grew up, void of more remunerative skills, I pursued a writing-related career. I wrote and edited for my college newspaper, worked in radio, was even a TV news reporter (don't ask). I earned a degree in broadcast journalism from Penn State, but quickly abandoned the TV career because I hated helmet hair, a job prerequisite at the time. I'll admit I was envious, watching all those college friends with business degrees racking up the big bucks in corporate America while I floundered in debt working at poverty level as a publicist on Capitol Hill. But after a while I got used to having my mattress on the floor, cardboard boxes for dresser drawers, and ramen noodles for dinner every night. Eventually I became a “glamorous” Washington photographer, shooting an eclectic range of events and people (including Prince Charles!). I knew I had arrived when I shot a World Welter Weight Boxing Championship and got spattered by the fighters' blood and saliva from my vantage point on the apron.

But marriage and motherhood beckoned, and those professional “glory days” gave way to the raising of three children. The only writing I did for many years were grocery lists and an annual holiday letter to family and friends. I re-launched my writing career with the onset of a terrible drought in my state a few years ago. It dawned on me that with water rationing in place, no one would dare have a holiday party. After all, who could host a hundred houseguests for four hours of festive drinking yet ban them from using the bathroom? All that flushing would alert the water police! And so I wrote about it. Lucky for me, an editor immediately bought the story, which deluded me into believing that publishing was a piece of cake. Well, that piece of cake quickly grew stale, as I tried to sell more witty essays, with mixed success.

I did eventually sell more of my writing, including to the Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal and NPR's Day to Day. I started doing radio essays on a regional NPR affiliate. I landed a column in my city's newspaper. And then my generous mother bought me a laptop, which enabled me to write while at soccer practice, which opened up a whole new world of opportunities for a mom on the run as I am. And so I continued to hone my craft, joining writers groups (RWA, VRW, WRW, LLL, and Backspace) and researching the industry, only to discover that creative non-fiction doesn't sell unless you have a standing time-slot on National Public Radio and your name is David Sedaris, or you have a tendency to do stupid things like stage your own kidnapping in order to escape an ill-conceived wedding. I kept writing, and reading, and as I read I kept saying to myself, “I can write this well!” And thus began my fiction phase. As a journalist by training, I never dreamed I'd actually make up things for publication. I guess there are those journalists who do that, but they're not exactly supposed to. But I learned quickly that fabricating information was pretty liberating--not being constrained by such nuisances as facts made it that much easier for me.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Jay Bush, who read aloud Jean Shepherd's In God We Trust All Others Pay Cash to his Latin students each year before Christmas break. It's a wonderfully written memoir that has lingered in my memory for nearly three decades and really demonstrates the staying power of fine writing. Who says teens don't like to have stories read to them? Mr. Bush motivated me to strive for excellence, at least in English and Latin. Shame I didn't have him for math.

There comes a time when a writer really needs an ally. And I have found that in Suzanne Macpherson, a writer who was kind enough to take me under her wing and really show me the ropes. It was she who got me involved in the Romance Writers of America, an invaluable resource that has led to so many wonderful things. She's a lot of fun and a great writer--you should check out her books.

A few things I will admit about myself: I love old Bruce Springsteen songs and Rod Stewart's torch songs. I always have to hang the toilet paper roll so it descends from the top. I'm pretty certain I'm allergic to housework. I can't get enough peanut M&Ms (with movie theater popcorn, even better), loathe cilantro, love to cook (and fervently believe in the Slow Food movement), love yoga, study Italian and adore international travel.


For more information, please make sure to visit:

www.jennygardiner.net
www.jennygardiner.net/blog/

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera

Pasta and vegetables...my two favorite things! This sounds really good, haven't tried it yet but will be sure to let you know how it turns out.

2 zucchini, diced
2 yellow squash, diced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. dried Italian herb seasoning
1 box Penne pasta, cooked to el dente
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh basil, chopped
drizzle of balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl toss all the veggies with 1/4 cup oil, italian herbs, salt and pepper to coat. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and cook until veggies start to brown. Stir after 5 minutes, cooking about 10-15 minutes total. In a heavy skillet, saute garlic in remaining oil for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, stir. Add broth and wine and cook 2 minutes to reduce a bit. Toss the pasta with the roasted veggies and tomato wine sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and chopped basil. Drizzle on balsamic if desired. Serve.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies Courtesy of April Sanders

My favorite recipe are what I call Chocolate Chip Cookies. I tweaked the recipe over 3 years when I was first married almost 15 years ago.

The first time I made them, I was a newlywed. I accidentally put in baking “powder” instead of baking “soda”. The result were chocolate chip hockey pucks! I served them to my sweet new husband and kind Pastor.

I realized my mistake later and was mortified. So, when I tweaked the recipe I left in a bit of the baking powder so they get big (but never bake them past gooey J)

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies by April Sanders
(This is a triple batch and can be divided)

2 ¼ cups butter flavor Crisco (can use butter to be healthier)
2 cups brown sugar
1 ¾ cups white granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons vanilla
3 eggs
5 ¼ cups flour
3 teaspoons salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
18-24 oz chocolate chips (special dark are the best)
6-8 oz walnuts (if desired)

Preheat over to 375 degrees.

Cream together Crisco, brown sugar and white sugar. Add milk and vanilla, mix well. Add eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add by the spoonfuls to creamed mixture.

Add choc chips and optional nuts.

Drop by heaping teaspoons onto greased baking sheet. Bake 9-12 minutes until lightly golden but not brown. I take them out when they are still really gooey. My hubby LOVES them like that. Never crispy!

This recipe can be divided quite easily. I love to make the full triple recipe and divide it in half and bake on a cookie sheet(like the Pampered Chef bar pan) for delicious bars. Can also make in muffin tins and put a scoop of ice cream on a warm cookie – yum!
About the Author and Book:



The national release date for my book is June 16th. It will be available through Barnes and Noble, Borders, CBD, Christian book stores, amazon.com etc. Right now, however, it may be purchased directly through my publisher or myself. The digital download may also be purchased through Tate at the same link. The audio will be available soon!! I doing last edits right now.

My book Highland Masquerade may be purchased through my publisher at http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-60696-491-0

Or through me at grateful6sanders@cox.net or my facebook link http://profile.to/aprilsanders

I am also working on a website http://www.aprilsanders.webs.com/ but that is taking some time.

Signed copies can be purchased from me. Also, with EACH book there is a FREE download of the audio book version. It will be out around the end of April.

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