Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shampoo ala Mode: It's Peachy

In honor of my dear husband's birthday, I'm going to repeat this post. And the dish-- I'll be making it for him tonight. Here we go, friends:


I see that confusion on your face.

You're thinking, "What does shampoo have to do with ice cream and peaches?  Yes, I do enjoy teasing you. We'll get to the shampoo and ice cream. But first, let's start with the peaches. A yummy recipe for summer--and my husband's favorite:

Cobbler ala Calvert

4 cups sliced peaches, sprinkle with a Tbl. lemon juice (if using frozen peaches--2 pkg-- omit lemon juice)

Mix in med-lg. saucepan:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tb. corn starch
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg

Cook over med heat, stirring, until thickened

Add 1 Tbl. butter, 1 Tbl. Grand Marnier liqueur (optional) and sliced peaches. Cook 5 minutes.

In another bowl mix:
1 cup flour
2 Tbl. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Cut in 1/4 cup cold butter until crumbly
then add 1 beaten egg and 1/4 cup buttermilk
Stir with fork til mixed

Pour peach mixture into deep pie pan
Spoon cobbler onto top of peaches in tablespoon size mounds

Bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven for approx. 25 min., or golden brown
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream--enjoy!

I like using sun-warmed summer peaches:

With a few yummy, rich extras:

While the peaches are simmering, mix the cobbler dough:

Spoon it onto the warm peaches and it's ready for the oven: 

Bake until golden--can you smell it yet?

And now for that ice cream . . . or in this case, gelato:

Be still my heart: Peach Cobbler--all you need is a spoon:

There you are.  Oh, what about the shampoo?  And what's that got to do with peaches?
Everything, in this romantic snippet from TRAUMA PLAN. 

Our hero and heroine enjoy a romatic sunset view overlooking a Texas peach orchard:

“Well . . .” He slid the blanket from under his arm. “Sun’s sinking fast now. Let’s find a spot without cactus and fire ants and get set for the show.”

Riley helped to spread the blanket and sat, not surprised that Jack settled close beside her. After the plane, the dancing, and sharing so much over the past couple of weeks, it felt natural. Visiting his hometown and this beautiful place made her want to know even more about him. Despite Jack’s reckless reputation—which he managed to bolster at every opportunity—Riley sensed some vulnerability when it came to his family. We have that much in common. 

There,” he said, pointing toward the west. “First streaks of pink. The peach blossoms are that same color. In March, sunsets are pink from sky to tree . . . to the shower of petals on the ground below. My aunt called it Ballerina Valley—not the best tactic to recruit a boy for orchard labor.”

“You worked here?” she asked, easily imagining him as a boy, sun-browned, scurrying up a ladder. “Picking peaches?”

“Picked them, ate them, pitched them. And squashed the mushy ones on my sister’s head.” Jack touched a fingertip to Riley’s hair, a smile teasing his lips. “I invented peach shampoo.”
Of course, you'll have to read the book to see how it all plays out.

And grab some of those summer's end peaches and surprise someone you love with a great dessert . . . I think you're going to enjoy both.

Happy reading, friends, and . . . Bon appetiti!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beach Picnics & Brownies To Go ~ Author Lisa Belcastro (giveaway)

**August 25  2:37 PM  CONGRATULATIONS to our giveaway winner, Deanna Stevens! And thank you all for stopping by to make Lisa feel welcome. I encourage you to check out her wonderful Winds of Change books. **

Who better to host in August than an author whose kitchen is in beautiful Martha's Vineyard? Especially when her meals are often beach fare and include tasty offerings from lobster to mac'n cheese and brownies. Trust me, your summer palate is going to be tickled today! When she’s not at her desk, today's guest is "living in paradise, volunteering at her daughter’s school, serving in her church community, planting and weeding her numerous gardens, trying to run a marathon a month, or walking the beach looking for sea glass." She was inspired to write Shenandoah Nights, the first book in her "Winds of Change" trilogy, while chaperoning two Tisbury School summer sails with her daughter, Kayla, aboard the schooner Shenandoah.
 Please wave your wooden spoons in a rousing Authors' Galley welcome for Lisa Belcastro! 

Beach Picnics and Brownies to Go
By Lisa Belcastro

Summer is in full swing on Martha’s Vineyard. President Obama is back for another vacation, and the warm weather entices us to head to the beach for sunset picnics and barbeques. At a park, one might worry about ants. On the beach, it’s a given that grains of sand are going to flavor whatever we’re eating. No one cares. The views are spectacular, and we try to hit our favorite beaches for dinner at least twice a week from June through September.

Some nights I’ll pick every available vegetable in my garden, toss them into a salad, grill a piece of steak or a few chicken breasts, pack the cooler and head off. Those are the easy meals. When I’m feeling more adventurous, I load the portable grill into the back of my Jeep.

I’m on my third grill. The first one was your basic charcoal briquettes variety. Ever try to cook burgers over a nice fire when you’ve forgotten the matches? Less than successful, let me assure you. My family survived on cucumber and tomato salad, potato chips, macaroni salad, and chocolate chip cookies. Not necessarily a bad meal, but not cheeseburgers topped with homegrown beefsteak tomatoes and sliced onions.

In what I thought was an intelligent move on my part, I purchased a propane grill. My new grill had a push-button starter to ignite the flame. No more matches. This blonde was getting smarter by the minute. First picnic of the summer, we decide lobster was a must. We headed to Menemsha, the Island’s premier sunset location. Menemsha is also a fishing village with two fabulous fish markets that will sell you fresh catches as well as cooked meals.

We stopped in to purchase live lobsters for grilling. They sales clerk parboiled our two-pounders, and we walked down to the beach with food, blanket, chairs, grill, and . . . I forgot the propane. Technically, I hadn’t forgotten it. My friend, who’d helped load the car back at my house, had undoubtedly left them on my front porch.  Our sales clerk laughed, assured us it happened many times throughout the season, and threw our lobsters into their pot until they were done. It was a beautiful evening.

I learned my lesson. The latest portable propane grill, replacing the one that wore out, sits on a shelf in my garage next to the propane, next to the cooler, next to the beach bag. Everything for a sunset picnic is now in one place, except the food and drinks. So far, I haven’t forgotten our dinners.

This summer we’ve done more beach picnics than grilling. The garden is overflowing with vegetables that I cook up and bring in the hot-pack cooler. Last Sunday night we had mac ‘n cheese with kale and tomatoes, cucumbers and hummus, hot green bean and bacon salad, and a fresh berry tart for dessert.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it. More friends have arrived for a visit, so maybe I can plan the same menu? As I glance out the window, kale and tomatoes are bountiful, and that mac ‘n’ cheese recipe is my favorite.

In Shenandoah Dreams, the third book in my Winds of Change trilogy, Melissa Smith is a teacher chaperone aboard the fictionalized schooner Shenandoah. Though Melissa would never claim to be a good cook, she, and everyone else onboard the ship, appreciates Nick’s cooking.

In real life, the meals aboard the Shenandoah are so good the students and chaperones rave about the food for weeks after they return home. Hearty breakfasts, lunches served topside, and delicious dinners are the daily fare. The kids probably love the desserts best, but who doesn’t?

Book Excerpt:
The satisfied mumbles of boys and girls, who had gobbled down heaps of vegetable lasagna and now were gabbing amongst themselves with mouths full of Nick’s double-chocolate brownies, filled the saloon. Melissa sat at the starboard table with Captain Roberts. She enjoyed his nightly talks after dessert. Over the years, she’d learned different sailing topics, been enthralled by folklore stories, grinned at the many superstitions, and tried to sort facts from exaggeration in his stories.

The light was fading quickly outside, and darkness crept through the skylights. Tucker turned the wick up higher in the oil lamps. A warm glow filled the room. In a different situation, say, with one man and no children, it might have been romantic.

Melissa reined in her sentimental notions. Too many times in one day she’d thought about dating. Something strange was definitely happening during this cruise. She had no interest in dating and no interest in the Townshend Act either.

Hoping to clear her vision, or at least the ideas running through her mind, Melissa rubbed her eyes. When she opened them, she saw Amber returning from the head. The little minx convinced one of the boys to slide down on the bench, and she managed to claim the seat to Zane’s right. The first mate had definitely made a new friend.
A few arms reached across the table, trying to score what was left of the brownies.

More than two-thirds of the sweets were consumed. Captain Roberts had about half an hour of their attention span before the sugar high wore off and the students began yawning and nodding off. Melissa couldn’t wait to hear what his topic would be. She needed something else to concentrate on, and his forty-plus years on the water gave him more than enough material. None of which had ever included dating or marriage.
I enjoyed that teaser, Lisa, and I'm craving a taste of that macaroni and cheese! I'm going to have to pester you for the recipe. Sounds amazing. 

And now, as an extra treat, the wonderful Wynn-Wynn Media is offering a chance at a fabulous giveaway:

All three books in the Winds of Change series, PLUS a kitchen towel set. So fun!

For your chance at the giveway, please leave a comment below that includes your e-mail address. I will draw the winning name (via Random.Org) on Monday, August 25th, and notify the lucky person by e-mail. Entrants with U.S. mailing addresses only, please. 
Meanwhile, happy reading and . . . Bon apetit!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

LIFE SUPPORT Release Party & Book Giveaway!

*** 3:29 pm  March 7th (Kazoon toot, please!) Here are our lucky partygoing book winners: KAREN STEVENS, KELLI JO C., CHRIS GRANVILLE, BARB PEACOCK, and "SUNNYMEADOWS"! Congratultions, and thank you ALL for helping to celebrate the release of  LIFE SUPPORT! ***

Though Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook and several other sites have already "scooped" the date by a week or more, today March 1st marks the official release of my newest medical novel,

Nurse Lauren Barclay puts life on hold to keep a watchful eye on her troubled sister. It’s why she’s back in Houston. But that means confronting the brooding Physician Assistant who caused painful turmoil in her family--and left Lauren with memories her heart can’t forget.

PA and single parent Elijah Landry is no stranger to stormy relationships, including his father, who is threatening him with a restraining order. It won’t stop Eli from protecting his disabled brother—or making peace with Lauren. He wants that and so much more.

But as Lauren and Eli draw closer, a powerful hurricane roars toward Houston. Survival instincts take priority and everything changes. Can hope weather the storm?

Someone please cue the champagne pop . . .   Thank you!

As you may know, this Houston set story is the final book in my Grace Medical series, and I am already working on the first of my three newly contracted books. But this in no way prohibits me leaving the keyboard long enough to throw a release celebration party. So let's do it!

Since Life Support's story includes a  lively Mardi Gras party, I thought we should serve slices of King Cake:

Mmm, grab a slice--and watch out for the little toy baby prize. Ah, you look great with purple sprinkles on your chin!  

And because I can't write a book without more than one sweet treat, how about we add some chocolate cherry scones from a scene at Houston's exceptional coffee spot, Ben's Beans?

Oh, and we must offer Eli Landry's brother's favorite food in the world: Blueberry Pancakes!

Yes, that works. But maybe we should have some protein, too . . . Louisiana style. Like Gumbo:

And some of those yummy salami-layered Cajun Muffuletta sandwiches:

Here, grab a napkin. And start tapping your toes. The band is starting up: 

Heads up, as soon as you finish your gumbo, it's your turn at the rub board

Now let's put some of this together with a brief snippet from LIFE SUPPORT:

Lauren opened the door to find festivities in full force . . . 

The air smelled of gumbo—chicken, smoky sausage, shrimp, tomatoes, peppers, garlic—spicy and pungent, but there was a bakery scent too, yeasty and sticky-sweet like frosting.  The Viettes had done an amazing job turning the homey great room into Mimaw’s version of the French Quarter in New Orleans, featuring a huge vinyl mural complete with brick walls and triple-story ironwork balconies, street signs, and even the gaudy likeness of costumed dancers and musicians. Green, purple, and gold streamers hung from the overhead beams. An elegant sequined mask was affixed to Auntie Odette’s smiling portrait. 

To say that there was music was an understatement.

The hardwood floor thrummed from speakers offering blues and jazz—saxophone, trumpet, piano—alternating with an upbeat blend of accordion and washboard: zydeco . . . 

Cyril must have caught Eli at the door, because he wore a trio of bead strings around his neck, a complete style clash with the pale striped shirt, jeans, and running shoes—all of it so different from the white coat and scrubs he wore at Houston Grace. His hair looked damp. Rain maybe, or more likely he’d showered after leaving the hospital. But even beyond the beads and casual clothes, he seemed more than a little out of his element. His dark eyes were serious as he scanned the room, taking in the decorations and the crowd.

Oh, dear . . . Lauren’s stomach did a foolish somersault as their eyes met.

Great food, music, romance, medical drama, and hurricane brewing! I hope that's enough to entice you to give this new story a try. In fact, by way of continuing celebration, I'm going to help that along right now.

Let's a have book giveaway!

For your chance at one of FIVE signed copies of LIFE SUPPORT, leave a comment below about our launch party (do you like gumbo, was there a prize in your king cake, have you ever danced the Cajun jig, does a good romance story make your heart flutter?). Be sure to include your e-mail address so I can contact you if your name is chosen. I'll draw the winning names (via Random.Org) on Friday March 7th and contact the lucky winners by e-mail.

Good luck to you all. And have another slice of king cake!  Wheeee (rubbing my knuckles on the washboard and tooting a kazoo): LIFE SUPPORT has released!! 

**For another chance to win a copy of this book, check out fellow author Dr. Richard M. Mabry's blog where I explain how a book release is a bit like giving birth:  RANDOM JOTTINGS, The Expectant Author **

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sugar & Spice, and Everything . . . Nuts

A week before Christmas, and I'm crossing off lists, thumbing through recipes, and decorating everything that stands still.


And outside, too:

When I was climbing the ladder to hang these oversize ornaments on our bare crepe myrtle tree, a (very wise) neighbor called out, "Be careful up there!"--probably heard the rumor about my acorn-ankle incident. Sigh. Infamous. 

Speaking of neighbors, I always try to gift a little cheer to those special folks who make us grateful we live where we do. Mostly, I take cookies. But this year, I'm saying NUTS to that idea, and stirring up several batches of one of the favorite Calvert house munchies. A sweet and spicy nut mix that is perfect for gifting, adding to your cookie tray, or enjoying as you wrap presents, wipe away a tear over  "A Wonderful Life," a  Hallmark Christmas movie--or root wildly for your favorite football team.  

So here we go, a very easy and very yummy recipe:

Chili Nuts Santa Fe
adapted from a Better Homes & Gardens Recipe

1 egg white
1 Tbl. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbl. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 tsp red pepper (to taste, I use the smaller measure)
1/4 tsp celery salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 cups of peanuts or mixed nuts (I use unsalted cashews, large peanuts, pecan halves, and unsalted whole almonds)

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large cookie pan with foil and coat liberally with cooking spray. 

Mix all ingredents together in a large bowl.

Stir well to coat the nuts.
Then spread the mixture onto your prepared pan:

Bake for 20 minutes, stirring twice.
Cool. Break apart large clusters.
Store in an airtight container (or zip lock bag) for up to one week--if they last that long!

So that's it, easy-peasy. And a nice higher protein complement to the Christmas cookie fest.
Here's a photo of the nuts all packaged up (with a few pretty chocolates added) and ready to take to the neighbors:

And while we're making ourselves NUTS, crossing off lists, climbing up ladders, and trying to make everything "merry and bright," let's find some moments to take a deep breath and remember that it's the simple pleasures that are most important. Those everyday things we too often take for granted as we let the busy-ness of our lives take over. In this season of miracles, let's be grateful for the beauty and affirmation of those perfect blessings. Like this one we saw last night, above that ornament-adorned crepe myrtle tree:

Courtesy of God the Artist.

Tinsel will never compare.

Merry Christmas friends!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Good Gravy! (or otherwise): Guest Author Lynette Sowell (giveaway)

**Thursday Dec. 12th, 12:45 PM: Congratulationst to our newest giveaway winner, Linda Finn! **

My guest today is the award-winning author of over one dozen titles for Barbour Publishing. In 2009, she was voted one of the favorite new authors by Heartsong Presents book club readers. Her historical romance, All That Glitters, was a finalist in ACFW's 2010 Carol Awards. She makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country with her husband and a herd of cats who have them well-trained. She loves reading, cooking, watching movies, and is always up for a Texas road trip. Please wave your wooden spoons in a warm Authors' Galley welcome for

Good gravy!

By Lynette Sowell

“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

These are my favorite lines from one of my favorite Christmas stories. Scrooge is huddled alone in his big dark house and he's tucked beside his fireplace on Christmas Eve. Of course, he's in denial about the fact that his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, has come back to visit—and warn him.
Dickens' lines above make me smile every time. Scrooge thinks Marley's appearance is a figment of his own indigestion.
Instead of having Scrooge say, “It must have been something I ate,” Dickens had Scrooge blame the gravy.
I blame the gravy, too. Gravy and I? Well, let's say there are many things I can cook, and cook well.
But gravy? There's a 50-50 chance that I'll either get it right, or end up with a lump of, ah, something in the pot.
This year for Thanksgiving, I was spared the ordeal of making gravy because my in-laws made the turkey. The rule is, whoever makes the turkey makes the gravy, too. But Thanksgiving not at our home meant we'd have few leftovers. So this meant I'd make a turkey anyway.
I can roast a great turkey, but this year, for some reason, I didn't end up with as many drippings as I usually do for making gravy.
No problem. I could improvise. I'd simply make a roux out of the drippings I did have by adding flour. . I whisked the turkey drippings and flour on the stove. Looking good...
Then I added some water and milk, and yes! The gravy thickened. And thickened. And thickened.
It resembled the consistency of that paste kids used school once upon a time, the kind one kid in the class always tried to eat.
My daughter saw the gravy and frowned.
“Uh, Mom. You need to add some liquid to that. It's too thick.” She's an accomplished young cook herself, and yes, she was right.
So I tried to thin the gravy, and the verdict came back: “It tastes like, uh, flour.”
Gravy and I? We don't get along anymore. I think next time I make a turkey, I'll leave the gravy to my husband, or get packets of the just-add-water gravy mix. That, I can do.

In my new release, Tempest's Course, my heroine Kelly isn't much of a cook. She's very work focused and while she likes a tasty dish, she doesn't care to spend the time in the kitchen, only cooking for herself. I think she would have plenty of sympathy over my gravy predicament.
A few blocks from the former home of a whaling captain, where Kelly's preparing a bid to restore an old quilt, she stumbles upon a little storefront soup shop, much to her delight. I based this shop on Destination Soups, a place in New Bedford, Mass., where my book is set. They have amazing clam chowder:

The breeze cut through her jacket, so she made her way up a couple of blocks from the harbor. A few shops lined the street. A carved wooden sign swung above one storefront, Soup Nation. Someone opened the door and a swirl of scents drifted onto the sidewalk.

Kelly's stomach growled. She'd skipped breakfast while making the final touches on her bid that morning. She entered the shop and inhaled the mouthwatering aroma. Someone had just pulled a loaf of bread from the oven, too.

She ordered half a grilled cheese panini and a bowl of the fresh tomato soup, then slid into an empty booth. The tiny restaurant enveloped her with its warmth as she sipped her soup and enjoyed the tang of the cheese sandwich. Lottie would greet her with a grilled cheese sandwich after school, Kelly and the posse of kids walked from the school bus.

Kelly lifted her soup bowl as if in a silent toast, then set it on the table in front of her. A whoosh of air made her look up as the door opened.

The curly haired grouch from the other day stood in the doorway. He stopped when their gazes collided. He nodded at her.

Hey,” he said as he passed by on his way to the counter. 

Kelly Frost, a textiles conservator, is invited to the Massachusetts coastal city of New Bedford to restore a 150-year-old Mariner's Compass quilt. But there is one stipulation: she must live and work in Gray House, a former whaling captain's home, where the quilt is stored. There she meets Army veteran Tom Pereira, the caretaker of Gray House, whose heart seems as hard as the rocky Massachusetts coastline. Over the long-lit months as Kelly works to restore the quilt, she and Tom grow closer. And as she reads stories in a daily journal penned by Mary Gray, she learns the secrets of the quilt and Mary's own sad tale of regret. Then Tom learns secrets of his own family's past, and both Tom and Kelly learn they are tied to Gray House in ways they never imagined.

Mmm. I don't know about you, but grilled cheese and tomato soup always makes my mouth water! Perfect comfort food. Thank you, Lynette, for sharing your Thanksgiving saga and a snippet from your wonderful upcoming release. 

Now, with the generosity of Wynn-Wynn Media, I'd like to offer a fun giveaway: a copy of Tempest's Course, and a nice set of Pier 1 bath soaps. For your chance at this prize package,  please leave a comment below that includes your e-mail address.   I'll choose a name (via Random.Org) on Thursday, December 12th and notify the lucky winner by e-mail. 

Until then, happy reading . . . and Bon appetit!  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

There's a Kitchen Easy Button?

Even for those of us who love to cook, there are times when life simply gets in the way, or--in truth--we're just not feelin' it. If you're alone, maybe it's a great excuse for a popcorn entree. Hey, I've done it. 

But if you've got other rumbling tummies in the house, you'll want to come up with something a bit more substantial-- beyond cheddar cheese powder on the popcorn. 

How do you make something quick, nutritious, and yummy? Something that looks like you fussed, but didn't lash you to the stove for hours? It's entirely possible. 

Here's one of my favorite Easy Button meals. 

Yep, we're starting with a can and a package:

Chili: I like to use a nice organic (vegetarian) brand like Amy's. But any chili is fine.

Polenta: I find mine in the pasta section. This one is organic Quinoa. But ordinary corn polenta works just as well. It's pre-cooked, ready to heat and enjoy.  

Now for some fun "extras":

Sour cream (this one is vegan), avocadoes, cilantro, grated cheese of choice, and an ear of corn. 

Slice and grill the polenta: 

Microwave the corn for a few minutes, then toss it on the grill, too: 

Heat the chili (stove or microwave). Then put polenta on plates, top with chili, roasted corn (any corn is fine, doesn't have to be roasted), grated cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, and cilantro. Maybe a buttered tortilla on the side.  Add a pretty napkin and . . . voila! 

Healthful, fast, pretty, looks like you fussed. Let them shower you with compliments: no need to confess you hit the Easy Button

And speaking of short-cut meals, here's a little snippet from my upcoming release, LIFE SUPPORT.  The scene takes place in Houston Grace hospital, where Physician Assistant Eli Landry and ER nurse Lauren Barclay have been through an emotional wringer with tough cases and personal conflict. Eli's ordered a cafeteria tray for his 8 yr. old daughter who, because of circumstances, must eat her dinner in his office:

“Oh, cool!” Emma Landry chirped, appearing in the doorway. She glanced at Lauren, then back to her father. “Did you ask her, Dad?” 

“No. I—”

“Ask me what?” Lauren couldn’t imagine.

Eli shook his head. “It’s noth—”

“Shrek,” Emma blurted. “Our dog. Dad picked him up at the groomer on his way to get me at camp. Then we had to come here because of Uncle Drew.  Shrek’s downstairs at the loading dock.   Everyone’s being really nice; Vee even gave me a hospital blanket—oops.” She pressed her fingers to her lips. Chipped nail polish, each one a different color. “I probably shouldn’t tell you about the blanket. Anyway, he has water, too. And a place to lie down. But we’re worried because of the thunder.”

Eli tossed Lauren a sheepish look. “Our dog’s a coward.”

“We wondered if you could take him home with you.” Emma’s nose perked with appreciation as she caught a whiff of the cafeteria tray. “Just ’til Dad’s shift is over. That’s only a couple of hours from now. Shrek would be no problem.” 

“I think that’s too much to ask, Emma.” Eli lifted the cover from his daughter’s dinner. The salty-rich aroma of melted cheddar and fries wafted. “It isn’t right to impose.”

“Only for a few hours?” Lauren watched as Emma poked her small finger though the vortex of a curly fry . “I’m watching my folks’ dog. And Hannah   Leigh’s . . .”  She decided there was no way she could explain that her parents’ shih tzu was under the care of a canine therapist. “She’s sort of sensitive.”    

Easy button hospital cafeteria meal for my characters but, trust me, nothing else is easy for those folks, as you'll see when LIFE SUPPORT  releases in March, 2014. 

Meanwhile, takes some bows for an easy but healthful meal in your own kitchens. Happy reading and . . . bon appetit! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kitchen Hula: Guest Author Lisa Carter (giveaway)

**Weds. Nov. 27th 5:10 PM  Congratulations to our giveaway winner, Jackie! ** 

Our guest today is bringing a taste of the tropics to Authors' Galley. Especially delightful for those of you already pulling on mittens, parkas and wool hats in the season's first snows. I've seen your Facebook pics! Our guest's newest novel, Aloha Rose, a contemporary romance in the Quilts of Love series, releases this month. She and her husband have two daughters and make their home in North Carolina. When she isn't writing, she enjoys traveling to romantic locales, quilting, and researching her next exotic adventure. Please tie on your aprons and join me in a warm welcome for Lisa Carter.

Aloha from the 50th state and the setting of my novel, Aloha Rose. One of the things I love most about Hawaii is its rainbow of ethnicities. In fact, Hawaii is only state in the United States with no racial majority. Hawaii is composed of an ethnic rainbow of cultures, which add flavor and spice to the local cuisine. I like food and Aloha Rose is chock full of different foodie options available in this tropical paradise.

It’s a culinary adventure starting with breakfast and includes tropical juices such as mango, guava, pineapple and coconut. My favorite coffee is Kona, grown on the Big Island. For lunch, there’s boxed plate lunches with rice and meat, readily available at most roadside stands and food trucks, a result of quick lunches compiled by former Filipino and Japanese pineapple plantation workers. The Native Hawaiians bring poi—a pastelike starch and acquired taste, trust me—to the luau table along with haupia—a coconut pudding—and laulau—pork or chicken rolled in taro leaves.

I should warn visitors, however, of one dish for which Hawaiians of all races and cultures have a particular affection—SPAM. So beloved it’s considered it’s own food group. And Hawaiians will find a way to incorporate SPAM into every meal—I’m talking breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Whether it be SPAM omelets or SPAM burgers or SPAM casseroles. Definitely another acquired taste. But hey, if fit takes hanging out in the islands long enough to develop a fondness for chopped or fried SPAM, I’m willing to suffer for my writing art.

In the interests of everyone’s cholesterol levels, though, I share this fun dessert you can make at home to bring a little Hawaiian into your regularly scheduled winter.

Looking for something different to serve for dessert at Thanksgiving?
How about a shaka cool, Hawaiian way to usher in the holidays?

Hula Pie

•9-inch chocolate pie crust
•Half-gallon of macadamia ice cream
(substitute with vanilla and chopped macadamia nuts if necessary)
•4 ounces chocolate fudge topping
•1 shot of espresso or Kona coffee
•6 ounces of macadamia nuts
•Whipped cream

1. Allow fudge topping to warm to room temperature.
2. Scoop ice cream into prepared shell. Smooth mound into a high bombe dome.
3. If substituting vanilla ice cream—soften slightly and mix in by hand chopped nuts according to taste.
4. Warm espresso or coffee and mix into fudge topping.
5. Warm knife or metal spatula to spread topping evenly over bombe.
6. Freeze until ready to serve.
7. Cover hula pie with a layer of whipped cream and sprinkle chopped macadamia nuts before serving.

Mahalo and I hope you enjoy my favorite dessert from the tropical paradise of the Aloha state.

Excerpt from Aloha Rose

Thanks to a fierce case of jet lag, Laney rose with the sunrise at the sound of a door slamming in the direction of the stable behind the house. The thought of truck doors, a specific burgundy F150 to be exact, drove her from the twisted sheets. Hiding behind a lace-paneled curtain, Laney’s early bird behavior rewarded her with a too brief glimpse of Kai’s broad shoulders that tapered to a narrow waist. She exhaled as Kai disappeared on a sturdy coal black quarter horse to dispense with his morning chores. She’d let the lace panel drift into place.
      Kai Barnes. Obnoxious to a fault. Arrogant.
      But real easy on the eyes.
      Dinner had been a tense affair, everyone afraid to speak lest they say the wrong thing. Mily, unconcerned with strained undercurrents, chirped like a little bird, doing her best to put Laney and “Rose” in the know of the activities available on the ranch and around town. Dinner had also involved spam. And not the junk that cluttered the Internet.
      Spam burgers. The look on Laney’s face, despite her best efforts, betrayed her, for Kai laughed out loud.
      “Tutu’s favorite meal and Teah’s cooking specialty,” Kai informed her. And when Teah returned to the kitchen, he offered to split his burger with her, too, if she wanted more.
      Following Elyse’s lead at the Moana, Laney kicked him under the table.

From the back cover of Aloha Rose

Will conflict with one man keep Laney from her dream of a loving family? When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake applique on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people he loves. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold-digger and blocks every move she makes. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.

What a delight to have you in our cyber kitchen, Lisa--I apologize for the SPAM pat down! And I'm still chuckling over that great scene from Aloha Rose. Thank you for offering us some beach time and a yummy slice of pie.

And now for our Hawaii-themed giveaway. The wonderful Wynn-Wynn Media has put together a fun prize package:

A copy of Aloha Rose, cute tea towel AND some yummy Macadamia nuts! 

For your chance to win,  leave a comment below that includes your e-mail address.  I will draw a winning name (via Random.Org) on Weds. November 27th and notify the lucky person via e-mail. 

Until then happy reading . . . and bon appetit!