Tasty Tuesday: Cajun Shrimp Étouffée by #romance #author Linda Joyce #recipe #dinner #whatsfordinner

Tasty Tuesday brings a delicious Cajun dish, Shrimp Étouffée, by romance author Linda Joyce. Boy, does this sound delicious! I know her stories are tantalizing. Take it away, Linda!


By way of introduction, let me begin by saying I’m a southern gal and my heritage is Asian-Cajun-Irish. I love food as much as I love books. My husband and I have organic raised beds and grow vegetables—he supplies the green thumb. I supply the cooking. I have one bed dedicated solely to herbs. I make enough pesto with my organic basil to freeze and last me through the winter. I love farm-to-table restaurants, trying new food combinations, and discovering new flavor profiles. Let’s face it, if you watch any cooking shows, even cupcakes are getting into the act with daring combinations.

etouffeeWhen it comes to my books, my characters usually eat what I eat. For example, in Behind the Mask, Chalise Boudreau’s favorite food is Shrimp Étouffée. In Bayou Bound, Biloxi Dutrey can’t get enough of Red Beans and Rice. I haven’t written a character yet who craves sushi, but it’s coming. The Irish part of me blends well with the Japanese and Cajun—Irish seafood, I’m told, is exceptional. All parts of me love oysters and prawns.

But you might be wondering, just exactly how I chose which food to mention in my books. It’s a closely guarded secret—not. It’s simple: my stomach is in charge of the picking. In Behind the Mask, Chalise’s Shrimp Étouffée was served to her at her first romantic dinner date with Chaz Riboucheaux because it’s what I had for supper. In the book, Chaz remembers from years ago that it was her favorite, and he has the chef make it just for Chalise.

In my recipe for Shrimp Étouffée, I’ve included a few notes to help the preparation go smoothly. When reading over the instructions, if you have questions, please let me know.

As you can see from the list of ingredients, though this is a Cajun dish, there’s a nod to my heritage in the shrimp—Irish (and Cajun of course), and the short grain rice—Japanese.

Gluten Free FlourOne last little note about the ingredients: flour for the roux. I use gluten-free flour. In my family, I’m known for my gravy. It always begins with a roux. My husband will tell you he could eat my gravy like soup. (My secret is I add a bit of cream sherry and cook off the alcohol, leaving just the richness of flavor.) When I make it, he puts it on everything. Yep, even vegetables like carrots and peas. I’ve tried many types of gluten-free flours to make roux with varying degrees of success (okay, most of them were failures), however, this is the one that most closely gives me the consistency and flavor I seek—Gluten-Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour by Bob’s Red Mill. And if gluten isn’t an issue for you, then any all-purpose flour will work.

Happy Reading and Bon Appetite!

Shrimp Étouffée

By Linda Joyce

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

4-6 servings of cooked rice (Since I’m Asian-Cajun-Irish, I use Japanese short grain rice, but please use what you prefer.)

2 pounds shrimp already shelled and deveined (I do buy frozen large shrimp in the bag when I am unable to get them fresh.)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup of butter for roux

(Another 1/4 cup at end of dish. See instructions)

1/2 cup flour

1 onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1-2 stalks of celery, chopped (equal amount of onion)

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika – optional

1 pint seafood stock (or add bottled or canned clam juice)

1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning

1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes

Salt (only as needed because Cajun Seasoning usually contains it.)

3 green onions chopped

Crystal SauceHot sauce (Crystal is my choice) to taste

Directions:

1) Cook your rice as you normally would now so it will be ready when Étouffée is ready.

2) Make roux – melt butter with oil, then add flour in heavy frying pan. I use cast iron. Don’t let the flour burn. Cook low and slow. Whisk continuously. There are videos on YouTube about how to make a roux if a visual helps. Cooking takes about 15 minutes. You want a nutty aroma.

3) Add onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic to roux. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. You want vegetables to be limp. Add the black and white pepper, Cajun seasoning, green onions, and parsley. Stir together.

4) Add seafood stock and tomatoes with juice to the mixture above. Stir together.

5) Bring the mixture just to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. You’re looking for the consistency of gravy.

6) Taste for salt. Add if needed.

7) Add shrimp. It will take 3-6 minutes to cook. Don’t overcook! Then remove from heat.

8) Stir in final 1/4 cup of butter and mix well.

9)  Serve over warm rice.

Behind_The_Mask_AdjustedFormer model Chalise Boudreau returns to Louisiana after ten years and faces an uncertain future. Watching her budget, she’s living with her mother and plans to open a luxury salon, but she fears the community sees her homecoming as a failing, and she knows any malicious gossip will jeopardize her success.

Once bad-boy, now entrepreneur Chaz Riboucheaux is home and trying to rebuild his old reputation. He believes one of his companies, the Magnolia May, a pirate ship, can make Ascension a tourist destination, but the mayor refuses to grant him a lease at the city’s dock.

Chalise and Chaz come face to face at a Twelfth Night party. Years ago, he stood her up and left her brokenhearted. Now her brain is at war with her heart, but her body has a mind of its own. As Chaz leads her across the dance floor, he knows when the music stops it won’t be the end of their waltz. He has questions only she can answer, and he won’t stop until he gets what he wants.

Linda_Joyce_0342Amazon Best Selling author and 4-time RONE Award Finalist, Linda Joyce writes about assertive females and the men who can’t resist them. She has penned the Fleur de Lis series, Fleur de Lis Brides series, and the first book in her Sunflower series. Her other books include Behind the Mask and Christmas Bells. She has more books in the works.

A big fan of jazz and blues, Linda attributes her love of music to her southern roots, which run deep in Louisiana. Courtesy of her father’s Air Force career, she has lived coast to coast in the U.S. and wrote her first manuscript when she was twelve while living in Japan. In addition to being a book addict, Linda’s a foodie, an RVer, loves to kayak, and binge watch movies. Now she lives in Atlanta with her husband and General Beauregard, their four-legged boy who thinks Linda is his pet.

You can find Linda at http://www.linda-joyce.com/


Awesome and tempting recipe! I really enjoyed Behind the Mask when it came out last year. Linda’s stories have an exotic feel to them because of the locations where they are set and the intriguing characters she’s brought to the page. I hope you enjoy both.

Linda is the last guest author for a few months as I transition to a new Tasty Tuesday series of recipes. Look for the introduction of my new cooking related series next week. I think you’ll find it interesting and maybe even inspiring!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Steak Marinade #recipe by #contemporary #romance #author Lesia Flynn #whatsfordinner #grilling

Tasty Tuesday time! How about a delicious marinade for some grilled ribeye steaks by the fabulous romance author Lesia Flynn! You’ll love her recipe almost as much as her light-hearted romances. This lady can really cook. Help me welcome my dear friend, Lesia!


Thank you, Betty, for allowing me to visit your Tasty Tuesday Blog again. What a treat to be with y’all!

Due to a series of unexpected events, I recently discovered several stories that I thought were long gone, out the door, lost inside a computer no longer in my possession. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across them! WooHoo! (Yes, I danced like a little girl!)

I’m super excited to announce that Cash & Lila, the first of these lost short romances, is scheduled to release in June. Here’s a little bit about their predicament . . .

Cash and Lila Coverart for KDPThey say a picture is worth a thousand words. Lila Joone should have taken that to heart when she watched the love of her life drive away with his hand waving high above his sporty convertible, headed to his new post-graduate job in Atlanta. Nope. Gullible, naive Lila didn’t pay one mind to that gesture. That was five years ago. With her own career now secure, all she wants is a happily ever after. But how can she, when the only man she ever wanted was Cash Bonner?

Fast living under the big city lights of Atlanta wasn’t Cash Bonner’s plan and living large damned sure wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. He had a front row seat to witness that fact and a few hard-earned scars to boot. It was high time he made a U-turn and got back to where he took a wrong turn, leaving Lila in the rearview mirror. He’s confident he can find her, but will she have anything to do with him after all this time?

Can life offer Cash and Lila a unique encounter, a second chance, the possibility of…

A happily-ever-after?

Why do I love this sexy short story? Maybe I’m a weirdo, but there’s nothing sexier than a man willing to admit when he’s wrong and make it right!

grilled meatThe backdrop of the story is set around cooking dinner for two on the back porch grill. What better to cook than a juicy steak? Yum! And while my easiest recipe is for wine (Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon. Find it. Buy it. Drink it. Tehehe…), I give to you a recipe for the steak marinade I’ve used most of my adult life. I was told it originated at a restaurant in my hometown. My husband taught me their trick and we’ve used it ever since. It’s fool-proof and easy-peasy, too!

Marinade for the Perfect Ribeye

Ribeye Steaks (with beautiful marble)

Adolf’s No MSG tenderizer (Indo Tenderizer [by the same people that make Spike] is my favorite, but I have difficulty finding these days.)

Freshly Minced Garlic

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Kitchen Bouquet (a browning sauce, usually found near the steak sauce at the grocery store)

Place steaks in a large Ziploc bag. Sprinkle with tenderizer and cracked pepper. (Note of caution: tenderizers are usually pretty salty.)  Add as much minced garlic as you like and cover ingredients with enough Kitchen Bouquet to coat the steaks. Seal the bag, removing any extra air. Massage the bag to cover every side of the steaks with your marinade. Set aside for at least 20 minutes; overnight is fine, too.

Grill to your liking or broil in the oven. If you’re throwing it on the grill, I’m not the grill master of this family, so you’ll have to take it from here. If broiling? I have an electric stove. I usually broil on high for about 2-4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the cut) for a medium cooked steak. An iron skillet steak is probably delicious, too!

Remove the steaks from the fire and let them rest for a few minutes to render their perfect drippings. Drizzle the steak drippings onto a loaded baked potato for a little extra yum! Toss a salad and your meal is complete!

Lagniappe

There’s nothing more frustrating than shopping for steaks only to find that Ribeyes are a gazillion dollars per pound. My response? Improvise! So, if you find yourself in a pickle, New York Strip and Pork Tenderloin Steaks are great substitutes.

Also, if you want to take it south of the border, squeeze a wedge of lime over your Ribeye. That, my friends, is delicioso!

Happy grilling, y’all!

Lesia Flynn first fell for romance when her mother gave her a paperback novel. One book later and she was hooked on love. It wasn’t until she had children that she realized she wanted to write stories of love, romance, and happily ever afters.

Lesia Flynn BioLesia was born and raised in Louisiana. She studied Graphic Design at Louisiana Tech University. She currently lives in Alabama with her husband, children, and a rescue cat who believes his mission in life is to keep Lesia safe and out of harm’s way. She loves libraries, gardening, travel, art of all kinds, and playing some really bad guitar for her neighbor’s cows.

Lesia is an active member of the Heart of Dixie Chapter of Romance Writers of America. She writes fun, contemporary romance. Connect with Lesia Flynn at www.LesiaFlynn.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and @LesiaFlynn.


See, what did I tell you? If you’ve haven’t read any of Lesia’s stories, take a moment and pop over here and pick one up. You won’t regret it! It’s grilling season around here, so I hope you enjoy this marinade recipe frequently!

Thanks for visiting with us today, and I hope you have a tasty day ahead!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Mauby #cocktail #recipe from #romance #author Sandra Masters

Tasty Tuesday has arrived along with a refreshing adult beverage recipe from Barbados by author Sandra Masters. Tell us more about it, Sandra!


Mauby cocktailOn a hot day (and there are many of those in Barbados), many Bajans reach for a refreshing glass of mauby to quench their thirst and cool down.

Mauby is made from the bark of the Mauby tree, boiled with cinnamon, orange peel, nutmeg and cloves, and sweetened to taste.

It is rather a unique flavour, with a bitter aftertaste, and some people really dislike it! But of course it’s a favourite of many others. So it’s worth at least trying… you might find yourself adding it to rum punch, coconut water and Banks beer as your go-to drinks in Barbados!

Mauby was traditionally sold by vendors who walked around the towns & villages dispensing the delicious drink from buckets expertly balanced on their heads. Today mauby is on the menu at many local cafes and even at the Chefette chain of fast food restaurants.

TheDukesMagnificentBastard_w11254_100The Duke’s Magnificent Bastard

A Regency Romance with an Element of Suspense

After three years in England, Thorn Wick, the duke’s bastard son, perfectly flawed, still fights for acceptance in his father’s world as a renowned Argamak Turk horse trainer. Just when he starts to believe in fairy tales, another obstacle looms to thwart his plans: on a dangerous mission to Barbados, Thorn is stunned when secrets are revealed about his mother. Will he exact revenge for the foul deed?

Alicia Montgomery, ward of the duke, is in love with Thorn. Strong willed and adventurous, she determines she can convince him to admit his feelings. But the reality of loving Thorn too much almost destroys her.

Can Alicia quell Thorn’s demons and prove love can pave the way to their happiness to fulfill their destiny?

sandra-masters-author-picFall in love with Romance all over again with author Sandra Masters

From a humble beginning in Newark, New Jersey, a short stay at a convent in Morristown, N.J. at the age of fourteen, Sandra Masters retired from a fantastic career for a play broadcasting company in Carlsbad, California, and settled in the rural foothills of the Sierras of Yosemite National Park with her husband, Ron, and two dogs, Silky and Sophie. She traded in the Board Rooms for the Ballrooms of the Regency Era and never looked back.

She wrote her first book at the age of thirteen and since then she’s always traveled with pen and notebook for her writing experiences. It’s been the journey of ten thousand miles with a few steps left to go. She deemed it a pleasure to leave the corporate world behind decades later.

Nothing she expected, but everything she desired. Her business card lists her occupation as Living The Dream.

Get to know her and her stories at www.authorsandramasters.com


Sounds good to me! Did you find that idea as tempting as I do? Thanks again, Sandra, for sharing with us!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Putting Together Gift Baskets for Readers #writerslife #readers #romance #books #readerevents

One of the fun aspects of being an author is attending reader events. I’ve traveled to several over the last few years and met so many avid readers who come out to say hello and talk about books. I especially enjoy seeing my fans and meeting my readers! One annual event I attend most every year, either as a reader or as a hosting author, is the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon on June 3 in Huntsville, Alabama. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I need to put together the baskets, but what I didn’t talk about was how I go about doing so.

There are two kinds of baskets featured at the luncheon. Raffle baskets and author door prize baskets.

Golden Owl 2017The raffle baskets each have a unique theme associated with them. Tickets are $1 each, or 6 for $5. This year, I’m doing two. One is the Golden Owl Books and Brews basket, containing items related to the fictional bookstore in my Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series. Obviously, I’ve included several books including Undying Love and Haunted Melody, but also tea, coffee, hot chocolate mix, a decorative owl, and some shortbread. A talented friend donated some notecards she made using her photos and some wire jewelry she made, items also found in the fictional store in my stories. Of course, you get the basket, too, which is made from pretty gold wire and I’ve used a soft pashmina to line it.

Old Tyme Xmas-2017The other raffle basket has the theme of an Old Tyme Christmas and includes several historical romances set during that holiday as well as some old-fashioned types of decorations, a snowman votive candle holder, the Christmasy basket, a crocheted scarf I made as a liner, and some hard candy in stick form and lemon drops. A few items to kick off your holiday season a bit early.

Those two were easy to decide to do, but then I had to figure out what my door prize basket’s theme would be. Stumped, I turned to my fans, Betty’s Novel Ninjas, for inspiration. (If you too are a fan of my stories, you’re welcome to join the Facebook group!) They didn’t fail me, either! This group of people who have read and enjoyed my stories listed several possibilities. Two ideas—Irish basket and a cooking related basket—combined to make my ultimate theme: Irish heritage. I took a white wicker basket, lined it with a shamrock scarf, and filled it with everything I could think of related to Irish cooking, history, Irish Heritage-2017symbols, and foods. Including copies of the first two books in my Secrets of Roseville series, Undying Love and Haunted Melody. See, the O’Connells and Golden families both have Irish ancestors. And I blog on Tuesdays about cooking, so the two ideas merged into one and I’ve put together a jam-packed basket of goodies as a result!

One lucky attendee at the luncheon will have their name drawn to win my door prize basket. There’s no additional expense after you pay the $35 to attend the luncheon. The ticket price includes a $5 coupon you can use when you buy a book at the public signing after the luncheon. Additionally, you get to have lunch with the author of your choice (you can choose up to five, ranked by preference). Each hosting author also will give the people at their table a gift or two for coming out to chat about books and answer any questions you may have. It’s a lot of fun for readers and authors alike!

By the time of the luncheon, the third book in the Secrets series will be available. I’ll have copies of The Touchstone of Raven Hollow among other titles there for purchase and signing, so come on out and see me if you’ll be in the Huntsville area on June 3. I’ll be hosting a table this year, so sign up to come eat lunch with me, too! It will be a fun day all around!

Have you attended reader events like the Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon? What was the highlight of the event? Or would you like to attend one?

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Easy as Pie Crust #recipe from #romance #author Michele Stegman #dessert #pies

Tasty Tuesday is all about a pie crust recipe by author Michele Stegman. Tell us more, Michele!


All the way home, and while she peeled apples for a pie, Katie wondered just what she had gotten herself into. Adrian seemed to want more than to just pay her back for her help. He wanted a relationship. But did she?

It had been almost three years since Brent died. She had grieved. She missed him, but she was ready to get on with life. But was Adrian the man she wanted to get on with life with?

Well, wasn’t that what the dating process was for? To find out about each other? And no matter how it had come about or how he had phrased it, this was a date.

She had wanted to find out more about Carly’s teacher. Now she had the perfect opportunity. It wasn’t like she was going to walk down the aisle with him next week.

She took two of the frozen balls of pie dough she kept on hand and thawed them in the microwave while she finished cutting up the apples, added flour, sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and nutmeg.

She had wondered about Mr. Adrian Wright. He was attractive enough to be a model for one of those catalogs selling sport clothes. He was lean, black-haired, and had a look in his dark eyes that told every woman who gazed into them they hid some secret only she could unearth.

Adrian’s smile was infectious, especially now that he had quit scowling at her. He was kind to children, and he put himself whole-heartedly into whatever he was doing. But he was old enough to be established in a steady job. Why was he substitute teaching? How could he even live on a substitute teacher’s pay?

Could he really afford to take her out? Maybe that was why he seemed so tense when he asked her.

She rolled out one of the balls of dough and put it into her biggest pie pan, a deep ten inch one, and dumped in the apples. She eyed the second ball of dough wondering what kind of top to put on the pie. Lattice? Cut out leaves and layer them all over the top? A design of an apple tree branch with leaves?

The door bell rang and she heard Carly banging the blinds to look out the window. “It’s Mr. Wright, Mom,” Carly called.

“Open the door for him, Honey.” So much for fancy. Plain would have to do. She was rolling out the crust when Carly shepherded Adrian into the kitchen, hanging onto his hand and bouncing along in her yellow Winnie the Pooh swimsuit.

Adrian smiled and started to say something when he saw what she was doing. “A pie? From scratch? You didn’t have to go to so much trouble,” he said. But the gleam in his eyes told her he was glad.

MrRightsBabyCover-ebookAdrian, the hero of Mr. Right’s Baby, obviously loves pie. So does my own hero, my husband, Ron. When we first got married I made a pie. And it was good. But it was when I tasted one of my new mother-in-law’s pies that I knew I could do better. She graciously gave me her pie crust recipe and I’ve been using it ever since. I have to admit, I make a great pie.

Katie, the heroine of Mr. Right’s Baby, is a lot like me, except for the way she looks! We both love to bake and cook. We both made our kids lunches with homemade bread and cookies and sometimes tucked little love notes in the lunchbox. Her adopted daughter, Carly, is based on my daughter, Shana. Both of them are little balls of sunshine.

 

 

Shana holding pieI included the excerpt from Mr. Right’s Baby because she is baking a pie with my mother-in-law’s recipe. Now I’m going to share that recipe with you. I love it not only because it is so good, but because I can make it into flattened balls and store it in the freezer. Then, like Katie, when I need to make a pie in a hurry, all I have to do is take out a ball of dough, thaw it, and make my pie!

Ginny’s Pie Crust

Mix: 4 ½ cups flour, 1 T sugar, 1 t salt.

Add:  1 ¾ cup Crisco (I use butter flavor)

Mix these together. It is easier if you use a stand mixer.

Separately mix together ½ cup water, 1 T vinegar, 1 egg. Whip together and add to the flour/Crisco mixture.

Chill for 15-30 minutes before using.

This makes 2½ double crust 9 inch pie shells. It will keep for 3 days in the fridge, or you can make it into flattened balls and freeze for later.

10151971_633987283679_4716031159509436_n (2)Thank you so much, Betty, for letting me blog on your site. I love sharing recipes and talking about baking.

Mr. Right’s Baby is available as an ebook or in paperback. Visit www.MicheleStegman.com for information on my other books and to read excerpts. Or connect with me on Twitter or on Facebook.

 


I’ll fess up. I’ve never made a pie crust from scratch. In fact, I usually buy them ready to fill at the grocery store. But I may have to give this recipe a try. What do you think? Do you like to bake pies? How do you make your crust? I’m curious!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Writing Space Reality versus Vision #writerslife #amwriting #amediting

Moving day is quickly approaching. Only a couple of weeks until the big day. Like many people, I’m not looking forward to the actual move. All the disruption, decisions, questions, and mess associated will go on for weeks, I’m sure. It’s the endgame that I’m looking forward to most. In particular, the fact that I’ll have my own office for the first time in 17 years.

My Writing Space-TaftFor the last 14 years, I’ve done my writing on a laptop, either on my lap (which ended up being a very bad idea, by the way) or in the configuration in the picture. For at least seven of those years, I worked either at the desk in the family room which my husband eventually commandeered to do the finances or at an office when working full-time as a technical editor/writer for SAIC in support of NASA’s Space Launch System Program Office in Huntsville, Alabama. I resigned from SAIC in 2013 and returned to working from home.

I bought the laptop desk after years of using my laptop on my legs, looking down, which caused severe neck and shoulder pain my chiropractor has corrected for me. The wireless keyboard sits on my lap, my wireless mouse and pad on the arm of the recliner. It’s been fairly comfortable, although recently my upper arm has started to rebel against the height of the mouse. I imagine after we move, I’ll still write in a similar position most of the time, but I’ll also have an actual office with a door and a window I can retreat to when necessary.

My New Office-PinkIn reality, the room is a bedroom and apparently was used by a little girl. Or at least someone very fond of pink. I’m not fond of pink. Especially Pepto-Bismol pink. So when we have the entire interior of the house painted by a professional before we move in, the color will change in my new office. He’s going to paint everything, too, including the ceilings and closets and trim. I’ve chosen Solaria, which is a pale yellow with gold tones. A cheery, warm color to surround me with to write and edit, research, transcribe. Whatever I need to do. I’ll need to find some pretty curtains, hopefully in navy, gold, with a splash of red? I’ll see what I can find that appeals to me after we move in. That’s one decision that doesn’t have to be made right away.

Why am I so excited about having an office? I’ll have space to spread out reference materials, or manuscript pages as I revise and edit. I’ll be able to more easily transcribe my father’s correspondence in a place where the piles and stacks won’t interfere with other family activities. I may even set up my keyboard to play while I let my imagination play with a scene or two. Keep in mind I haven’t had access to my keyboard because it’s been set aside to make room for the exercise equipment in the room it used to be in. So pulling it out again is another positive I’m seeing in this move. Decluttering is another!

I’ll share pictures of my new office once I get it arranged and workable. With luck, my vision will come to be. I want a place that inspires and comforts. Only after everything is transported and set up will I know for certain. Either way, I’ll have my own space and my husband will have his own office next door. Our living room will be used for relaxing and not work for a change. I like that, too!

Do you have an area or space all your own? Or if you could have one, what would it look like? What would you be sure to have in it?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday & Haunted Melody! Oatmeal #cookie #recipe #newrelease #paranormal #romance #mustread #fiction

It’s here! The release of Haunted Melody! I feel like celebrating! So I am happy to share Paulette and Zak’s story with you along with a favorite recipe I got from my mother.

I love to bake, therefore it’s only natural that one of the characters in my story also bakes. The housekeeper, Meg, is a county fair award-winning baker, no less. She makes chocolate chip cookies to die for and cinnamon rolls that melt in your mouth in addition to fixing scrumptious meals.

In honor of Meg’s accomplishments, I thought I’d share my oatmeal cookie recipe with you. My mother loved to bake as well, and taught me most everything I know on the subject. It’s very possible she inherited it from her mother, but I don’t for sure. Grandmother Reed’s sugar cookie recipe is an annual favorite at Christmastime, but only after I cut it down to one-third the original recipe which made a LOT of cookies!

These little gems are chockfull of oats. If desired, you could add your favorite dried fruit, such as raisins or cranberries. My hubby loves these and hoards them for himself rather than sharing with others. I hope you enjoy them as well. Cheers!

Betty’s Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons soft butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 Tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups Quaker Oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.

  2. Beat butter, sugars, egg, water, and vanilla together until creamy.

  3. Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.

  4. Add to creamed mixture; blend well.

  5. Stir in oats (and any additional fruit desired).

  6. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes.

haunted_melody_600x900Paulette O’Connell needs to build her home decorating business in order to give her unborn child a stable home. While exploring the mysterious attic of the antebellum plantation where she lives, she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost. But he won’t leave until she figures out why she needed him in the first place, putting her plans in serious jeopardy.

Zak Markel has been searching for the last ingredient to create the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight. But he discovers the woman of his dreams in the smart and beautiful Paulette, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.

Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?

(Updated and revised edition; originally published in 2014 as Remnants.)

B&N: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-K

Amazon: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-UK

iBooks: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-iTunes

Thanks for helping me celebrate the release of Haunted Melody! In a couple more months, I’ll be releasing the third book in the Secrets of Roseville series, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow. I so cannot wait to share Tara and Grant’s story with you! I had fun writing their story, let me tell you. Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Juggling Personal and Professional Obligations #WritersLife #moving #familyfirst

I know I’m fortunate to be able to work from home. It’s a comfortable place where I can relax and focus on what I need to do without having to dress up and drive to an office. Only when we’re moving, it becomes difficult to concentrate on my writing and the business side of publishing books. See, we sold our farm last week and so started the paperwork to buy the new house we hope to move to the middle of April. We had not planned to move so soon, though. After we put the farm on the market, I pushed through finishing writing The Touchstone of Raven Hollow (Secrets of Roseville Book 3) by the first week in March so that I can stay on track to release it in May. I will send it off on Tuesday to my editor to help me polish it.

Then my focus almost entirely will shift to sorting and discarding, donating, or packing. In addition to our upcoming move from a farm into a neighborhood near my father-in-law’s retirement community, we also have to clear out his assisted living apartment. He’s needing more care now, so will move into skilled care. Thus his other apartment needs to be vacated for another resident. So two moves over the next one month. And all the decisions and disruptions that comes with making such moves.

I’m grateful to have my book nearly done so I’ll keep on track, but I also rather long for the escape of slipping into the story world for a few hours. Ignoring all of those decisions for a little while.

IMG_2173Another task that has taken priority is putting together the raffle baskets and my author basket for the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon on June 3. I’ll hand them over to the ladies in charge of the baskets so they don’t get damaged or worse lost during this transition. Which means gathering the goodies to put in them. I’m waiting for a few more things to fill them out and then can check off that task from my to-do list.

Easter Sunday falls between when we expect to close on the new house and when we close on selling our farm, so I’m not sure if we’ll gather for the holiday, or if we do which house it will be in. Another decision looming!

I may or may not have time during the month of April to write my weekly Monday post, but I will try. I enjoy touching base with my readers. Tasty Tuesday posts will continue as those are provided by some of my authors friends for your enjoyment. Starting in May, I’ll be sharing some historical recipes adapted to modern tastes, cooking techniques, and healthy eating options. More on that to come later.

For now, it’s only one more week until Haunted Melody releases on March 28. Have you ordered your copy yet? Links are below for your convenience.

Now I’m off to figure out what to do with all the stuff in my china hutch. Talk to you later!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

haunted_melody_600x900Paulette O’Connell needs to build her home decorating business in order to give her unborn child a stable home. While exploring the mysterious attic of the antebellum plantation where she lives, she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost. But he won’t leave until she figures out why she needed him in the first place, putting her plans in serious jeopardy.

Zak Markel has been searching for the last ingredient to create the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight. But he discovers the woman of his dreams in the smart and beautiful Paulette, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.

Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?

(Updated and revised edition; originally published in 2014 as Remnants.)

Amazon USA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-UK

B&N: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-K

iTunes: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-iTunes

Tasty Tuesday: Regency Ratafia #cocktail #recipe from #romance #author Alicia Rasley #beverage #research

We’re in for an historic treat today on Tasty Tuesday! Romance author Alicia Rasley is sharing the recipe for a Regency-era cocktail that sounds quite potent indeed. Introducing Ratafia, the Regency lady’s indulgence. Indeed! Welcome, Alicia!


Thanks, Betty, for inviting me to participate in your blog! Remind me next time not to read your posts when I am hungry. Now I’m famished. Just as well I decided to write about drink rather than food.

Those of us who read and write Regency-set historical novels (set in the early 19th Century Britain) are often presented with food riddles. What is jugged hare? And how about scotch collops? Not to mention spotted dick!

We also notice that the Regency era offered a variety of different drink options, from the innocuous (tea and coffee) to the potent (Napoleon brandy and “blue ruin” gin).  You never read about people drinking water, probably because it wasn’t safe. Boiling and fermenting would do a lot of decontamination… so you can see how the Regency characters could talk themselves into thinking of brandy as an aid to good health.

A photo by Roberta Sorge. unsplash.com/photos/kp9UVn-PUacOne drink that seemed particularly popular with the ladies was “ratafia” (pronounced rah-tuh-fee-uh, all syllables equally accented). In Regency novels, ladies of quality sip this drink all day long, while the gentlemen are downing brandy and whisky. I once assumed ratafia was some kind of mild cordial, sweet and only slightly alcoholic, as befitted a pious lady of a good family.

Then a friend of mine, another Regency novelist, embarked on an experiment. Lynn Kerstan decided to make ratafia as Christmas gift for her writer friends. When the little bottle arrived in the mail, I promptly took a swig. That’s when I realized that the proper Regency ladies were quite deceptive when they pretended this was some innocent sweet cordial.

It was probably 90 proof. Seriously.

When I pointed this out, Lynn sent me the recipe she’d used:

Regency Ratafia

1 quart of brandy

½ bottle champagne

1/2 cup of gin

¼ cup of sugar

2 oranges

2 cups of cherries, pitted and squashed

2 cups of blackberries

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

1 teaspoon powdered rosemary

Three cloves (bruised)

¼ cup crushed almonds

Mix in a gallon glass jar. Cap jar and shake. Store in dark cupboard for three weeks, removing once a week to shake jar. After three weeks, strain liquid through a cheesecloth, pressing down on solids to release their liquid. Distribute and store in several pint jars or tightly corked wine bottles.

Notice that the recipe starts with brandy, and then adds champagne and gin! The orange and cherry provides the cordial-ish taste, while the herbs and spices add a depth of flavor.  And the sugar, well, that doesn’t just make it sweeter. I think the purpose of storing this concoction for weeks and stirring it occasionally is to ferment it even further.  (I found another recipe that primly suggested an addition to stop fermentation—vodka. Yep, that’ll take care of that intoxication problem.)

With the brandy base, Lynn’s version was most similar to those created in the Regency. I’ve found less potent variations, some which are basically a long-refrigerated sangria (red wine, fruit, sugar, and three weeks in the fridge). Italian ratafia starts with Montepulciano red wine and adds only cherries as the fruit. A French variation uses a variety of berries, including gooseberries. The Catalan version has unripe (green) walnuts soaked in the liquor before the fruit is added. I even found one that deepened the flavor with peach and cherry pits (which are poisonous if opened).  Each of these adds both a spice like cinnamon and a savory herb (usually rosemary).

Ever after, I imagined those Regency ladies primly sipping their ratafia at the afternoon al fresco musicales, and then as an after-supper liqueur, and finally as a nightcap, then stumbling off to bed in a stupor, and waking up with a hangover. Ratafia is not for sissies!

Here’s a less potent variation that we can enjoy this summer without too much guilt. I devised it myself after testing a few recipes. (The extreme measures I take for research!) I decided to follow Lynn’s example and stir it once a week. I didn’t have any cheesecloth, so I just strained it through a wire mesh colander.

Alicia’s Less Potent but Still Classy Ratafia

Into a large capped glass jar, like the kind you use for sun tea, mix:

1 bottle of dry but fruity red wine (Italian and Spanish wines are best, I think)

1 pound of mixed and then crushed berries—your choice, but make half cherries for deepest flavor, and you can leave in the pits in for that dangerous thrill

½ pound of peach slices

2 oranges peeled and sectioned (I once tried tossing in the peels too, but that was a bit bitter. Next time I might just try the zest of the oranges)

I/4 cup of white sugar

A vanilla bean, sliced, or a half-teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground rosemary

¼ teaspoon of ginger and anise

A few crushed almonds

Close the jar and shake to distribute. Then put it away in a dark cupboard or the refrigerator (my choice) for three weeks. Once a week, shake the jar to re-distribute.

After three weeks, strain it through cheesecloth or a fine mesh. Then pour it into bottles or smaller jars.

Now try it out.  I’m a wimp and add water at this point, but if you’re made of stronger stuff, you can drink it straight. Keep it tightly capped and refrigerated. It goes great with barbecued meats on a summer night.

And don’t forget to wear your lacy gloves and sip primly from tiny cordial glasses!

Tryst at Brighton-coverIt’s a decade after Napoleon’s defeat, but the war still haunts even the victors. Linked by family and by grief, divided by social class, Russian émigré Natasha and ship’s doctor Matthew have lived for years in mutual distrust. But when she’s suspected of killing a man from her past, she reaches out to Sir Matthew for help. It takes both his medical training and her intuition to solve the mystery of the murder at the Brighton Inn—and the secret of her own troubled past.

 

 

 

 

alicia by dmac croppedAlicia Rasley lives in Regency England… well, only in her imagination. She is the RITA-award winning author of eight Regency romances, along with a best-selling family saga and a contemporary mystery novel. She lives in the Midwest until she can invent a time-travel machine! She teaches writing at a state university and in workshops around the country and online. Sign up for the email newsletter and get a free novella!

If you’re interested in writing as well as reading stories, sign up for my writing newsletter and get a free plotting article!


So now I need to mix up a batch of this to try. Should be quite an experiment. Anyone else interested in trying it?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Between the Lines: Fay Fuller, 1st Woman to Climb Mt. Rainier #research #women #history

 

Fay Peak-Visit Rainier
Image courtesy  VisitRainier.com

Have you heard of Fay Peak in the Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state? I had not, until I started researching the girls in my award-winning Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure. Edwina Fay Fuller embodies all three of those qualities: brave, daring, and adventurous.

 

Fay Fuller lived during a time in American history when women tended to be relegated to certain pigeon holes for appropriate behavior and activities. Only, Fay didn’t adhere to the restrictions. In fact, she decided to buck the system by not only riding her horse astride, but also by wearing men’s clothing for her most daring and adventurous escapade. See, Fay was 17 years old when she first climbed partway up Mt. Rainier. Three years later, she reached the summit. The first woman ever.

She climbed despite swelling she suffered from a charcoal mixture she wore on her face to attempt to prevent sunburn. She endured the pain on her face and on her wrist where the skin literally peeled off as a result of the failed mix. When they camped overnight in a steam cave on their way back down, she became sick from the smell of sulfur combined with the extreme cold and her exhaustion. Yet she had achieved her goal and would always carry that sweet feeling of accomplishment inside.

Fay inspires me through her commitment, determination, and sheer grit. When offered a hand by one of the men in the climbing party, she declined, preferring to reach the summit under her own power. The following day, though, the perilous nature of the trail made it necessary for her to permit a rope be tied to her waist in case of a slip or fall. A concession she reluctantly agreed to.

Her can-do spirit and belief in her own abilities humble me. She stood on her own two feet, literally and figuratively, and worked through obstacles to achieve her dream. If I ever get out to Washington state, I would love to climb up Fay Peak. I’d feel as though I’d followed in her footsteps, if only to a lower peak. I have no delusions of possessing the strength to climb to the summit of Mt. Rainier. Believe me!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Literary Classics International Book Awards - Youth Award Winning Book
Literary Classics International Book Awards – Youth Award Winning Book

During the 1800s, daring and courageous girls across America left their unique mark on history.

Milly Cooper galloped 9 miles through hostile Indian Territory to summon help when Fort Cooper was under attack.

Belle Boyd risked her life spying for the Rebels during the Civil War.

Kate Shelly, when she was 15, crawled across a nearly washed-out railroad bridge during a ferocious thunderstorm to warn the next train.

Lucille Mulhall, age 14, outperformed cowboys to become the World’s First Famous Cowgirl.

These are just a few of the inspiring true stories inside Hometown Heroines—American Girls who faced danger and adversity and made a difference in their world.

 

B&N: http://bit.ly/2em4lh9

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2eNm5Ap

Amazon ebook: http://amzn.to/1nY0qXH

iBooks: http://apple.co/2em5Iw5

Google: http://bit.ly/2fFEQ6w