Tasty Tuesday: Chicken Enchilada Casserole from #romance #author Cathy Skendrovich #dinner #recipe #romancebooks

I have a little spicy treat for you all on this Tasty Tuesday! Not only is Undercover with the Nanny a hot dish, but contemporary romance author Cathy Skendrovich shares a hot Chicken Enchilada Casserole dish, too. Take it away, Cathy!

Thank you, Betty, for hosting me on your “Tasty Tuesday” blog. I love writing, and I love cooking, so being able to talk about both is a win-win for me.

Food is always featured in my books. It doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack, I invariably have my characters breaking bread together. It may be because I love to cook (and eat it), but I think it’s also true that when you sit around a table with friends or family, you naturally share more about yourself while in the process of eating. Table conversation can be enlightening, from lovers to parents.

In my upcoming romantic suspense release, Undercover with the Nanny, due out on April 23, 2018, the characters share several meals together. Our hero, Sawyer Hayes, is a DEA agent investigating Kate Munroe and her boss for possible drug trafficking. In one scene he invites Kate out to dinner in order to pump her for information. He’s unprepared for the slam-to-the-gut chemistry they share in the Mexican restaurant. Kissing her becomes more important that feeding himself. And kissing his suspect is dangerous, as well as unprofessional. Will he give in to the urge, and jeopardize the case, as well as his career? You’ll have to purchase the book on April 23rd to find out.

UwtN_1600When Kate Munroe is smacked in the head by a beach volleyball, she has no idea that the hunky guy responsible is a well-trained DEA agent sent to investigate her. She just thinks he’s a schmuck who can’t play very well. And when she discovers he’s moved in right next door, she’s not overjoyed. He makes her feel…edgy, when he looks at her. Like he knows what she looks like under her clothes. And she doesn’t trust a guy who throws her off balance. She doesn’t trust, period.

DEA agent Sawyer Hayes came to the southernmost tip of California in search of Mexico’s dangerous drug cartel leader, Armando Ortiz, who slipped through his fingers in El Paso. The link to finding Ortiz is Kate Munroe, a nanny for one of Ortiz’s henchmen. But does the dark-eyed beauty with the smart mouth know who she works for, or is she an innocent pawn in this high stakes game of cat-and-mouse? It’s Sawyer’s job to find out. And Sawyer won’t rest until he knows, because he’s falling for the sexy babysitter and isn’t sure if he can throw her in jail when the time comes.

Here’s an excerpt:

Just one more knock.


She gave what she thought was one last, good rap. Silence.


Fate—or God—had provided a reprieve for her common sense. She could go back home without having embarrassed herself with her momentary sexual weakness. She turned to go. Just as she did, she heard the rattle of the doorknob, along with the swish of the front door opening. Scrunching her eyes shut, she pivoted, and then opened them one at a time. She choked on a strangled gasp.


Sawyer Hayes stood in the open doorway, gloriously naked, except for the towel slung low on his hips. Really low. Mouthwateringly low. She dragged her gaze away, up that corrugated abdomen, past that chiseled chest where stray water droplets dotted the wide expanse of male skin, up to those glittering emeralds that pinned her in her place.


There was no Southern charm in his expression now. Only a palpable expectancy that snapped between them like an electrical current. Without losing eye contact, he leaned one brawny shoulder against the doorjamb. She fought the urge to check out how that towel remained around him in this new position. He had such narrow hips, after all—


“I don’t imagine you’re here to borrow a cup of sugar, are you?”


Her gaze popped up to his face, where humor had replaced that avid anticipation of a moment before. What could she say? That, now that the decision was left in her hands, all she could think of was being with him? Touching him, tasting him, doing unmentionable things more in keeping with a certain Mr. Christian Grey than with what she’d ever done in her rather beige sexual past.


A questioning look crossed his face, and she realized she’d been silent too long. What should she say? Tell him she’d changed her mind? Excuse herself and run home? He wouldn’t follow her. But, she hadn’t changed her mind, that was the problem. Seeing him almost naked only underscored that realization.


Her pulse sped up as she admitted to herself: she wanted to have sex with Sawyer Hayes. She needed to know if that instant spark that came to life whenever they were together would transfer to the bedroom. That maybe, just maybe, he would rock her world when others hadn’t. She wouldn’t question what that meant if he did.


“I do have sugar, Munroe, though you don’t strike me as the type to use that manufactured—”


“Can I come in?” Without waiting for his answer, she pushed past him, brushing against his body while half-hoping that tenacious towel would lose its battle and land on the floor. That would make her decision so much easier.


“It depends on how long you plan on staying,” he drawled, stepping aside and shutting the front door with a decisive click. She moved closer, close enough she could smell the soap he’d washed with, could hear each measured inhale and exhale that he took. She studied his face, had to tilt her head only a little because he was barefoot.

That sexy tidbit may not have you craving food, but here’s an enchilada casserole recipe I make for my family that’s easy and tasty and is similar to what I describe in the book. I use chicken, but turkey or beef can be substituted.

enchilada casseroleChicken Enchilada Casserole


2-3 cups cooked, shredded chicken

1 15-oz. can tomato sauce

1 15-oz. can enchilada sauce, mild

Corn tortillas (10-20 count package)

Sliced or chopped olives to taste

Shredded Mexican cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350˚
  2. Grease 9×13 baking dish
  3. Pour and mix tomato sauce and enchilada sauce in bowl
  4. Dip enough tortillas (usually 2) in the sauces, and place in bottom of dish
  5. Sprinkle some chicken on top
  6. Sprinkle olives and cheese on top of chicken
  7. Dip more tortillas in sauces and cover the chicken, olives and cheese
  8. Continue layering ingredients until there’s no more chicken
  9. Top the casserole with at least two more dipped tortillas, and sprinkle cheese on top
  10. Optional: May dribble sauce over top
  11. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350˚ for 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Good with Mexican rice and beans. Serves 8-10

2017 Profile PicCathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went to college, her writing took the form of term papers, written on typewriters instead of computer keyboards.

Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school. Along the way, she married her husband of now thirty-three years, had two sons, and moved to southern Orange County, California. She chose to work part-time in the school system there.

Now she has returned to writing. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed closely by The Pirate’s Bride. The sequel to The Pirate’s Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, came out Oct. 1, 2017. Her next contemporary romantic suspense, entitled Undercover with the Nanny, is due out on April 23, 2018.

She likes writing romance because she feels it’s lacking in today’s technological world. While she enjoys writing contemporary stories, creating romance in bygone times fascinates her. She hopes her ability to write in both genres will be the beginning of a long and satisfying writing career.

You can reach Cathy at the following sites. She loves hearing from readers.







Thanks so much for sharing both your story and your recipe, Cathy! A bit of spice can really make a meal and a romance special. The combination seems like a fine idea to me.

Next week will be the last guest post for Tasty Tuesday for a while. I’m starting a new blog series of Between the Lines posts on Mondays and I hope you’ll all enjoy them. Watch for more recipes and stories to return later this year, though. I know how much you all have loved reading about the many different books and foods.

Until next time! Happy reading!


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.


Tasty Tuesday: Spaghetti Sauce by #romance #author Lynn Crandall #dinner #recipe #amreading #mustread #fiction

Here comes another tempting Tasty Tuesday dinner idea for you all. Help me welcome contemporary romance author Lynn Crandall back to share her spaghetti sauce recipe and her latest romance with you all!

Thank you Betty for having me on your “tasty” blog. I’m excited to talk about my novella, Two Days Until Midnight, and food.

Food is a favorite topic among people. We don’t merely take in nutrition and fill our stomachs, we enjoy the flavors and textures of a variety of foods. Our meals feed our bodies and our souls. According to experts, humans are the only mammals on the planet who cook food. Eating is an activity for us. We go out to dinner with friends and enjoy conversation over a meal. We gather as families around the dinner table and check in with each other to stay connected. The phrase “breaking bread” is a reference to the fundamental belief that sharing a meal is a meaningful observation of our shared humanity.

In Two Days Until Midnight, bird-shifter Lark Ellis has some bad news to admit to her boss Tamier Rein, whom she is falling for. She invites him to dinner at her house, creating a welcoming and casual atmosphere to show she cares despite her bad news. Cognizant of Tamier’s Italian heritage, she plans her meal around a dish she believes is Italian – spaghetti. By cooking Tamier something from his culture, she is showing him she accepts him and is trying to connect – and hoping her efforts will soften the blow. Does it ease her admission for Tamier? You can find out by reading the book.

Two Days Until Midnight(FINAL)coverBird-shifter Lark Ellis has spent her life shielding her true identity. Now, to protect her flock’s habitat she’s taken a job that pits her mission against her secret and her integrity.

Reclusive billionaire architect and CEO of Global Environments, Tamier Rein lost his freedom and his dreams the day a Society assassin cursed him and changed him into a were-cheetah. Imprisoned by uncontrollable transing, he faces a devastating condition of his curse on the approaching Autumn Solstice.

Lark risks her identity and all she holds dear to help Tamier as their relationship develops into a promise of true love. As the deadline looms, Tamier must let her teach him to live or lose everything in two days.

Two Days Until Midnight is available for 99 cents on Amazon http://a.co/9i3RRnz.

It also is part of an anthology titled At Midnight, by HiDee Ekstrom, Rena Koontz, and myself. Find the anthology on Amazon at http://a.co/ckmTcAI.

Here’s an excerpt:

Tamier closed his eyes, clinging to the sense of wonder and peace spreading through him, and trying to ignore his spontaneous impulses to reach for her. “I do know I don’t want this moment to end.” He stepped close to her, so close he felt her breath on his face. She didn’t move away, and he looped a lock of her hair behind her ear, sinking into the soft feel of it. Oh, how he wanted to kiss her lips, but he stood suspended in doubt nanomillimeters away.

“Tamier.” She stared at his mouth. “You don’t know everything about me.”

He pulled his eyes from her lips and looked into her eyes. “I don’t expect I do.”

“There are things I want to tell you, but I’m afraid.”

“Don’t be. If there are things I need to know, you’ll tell me or they will come up.” He nuzzled the soft spot under her ear and into her neck, all of his senses exploding with sensations.

“Tamier,” she whispered. “What?”

“Remember later that I warned you.”

Now to the recipe.

Italian Spaghetti Sauce


2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste

1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree

2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1⁄2 cup chopped onion

3 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1⁄2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1⁄2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese

2 1⁄2cups water (less if you want a thicker sauce


In a large stockpot on low-med heat add olive oil and saute onions for about 4 minutes. Add crushed garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add tomato products. Mix well. Add spices and cheese. Cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

Add sausage, ground beef, meatballs, or chicken if desired.

Serves 12 to 16.

lynn-crandall-picLynn Crandall lives in the Midwest and writes in the company of her cat. She has been a reader and a writer all her life. Her background is in journalism, but whether writing a magazine or newspaper story or creating a romance, she loves the power stories hold to transport, inspire, and uplift. In her romances, she focuses on vulnerable, embraceable characters who don’t back down. She hopes that readers discover, over and over, stories of ordinary people who face ordinary life challenges and are transformed by extraordinary love.


Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Lynn-Crandall/e/B00AX9OA40/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1511570977&sr=8-1

Website http://lynn-crandall.com/

Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrandallAuthor/?ref=settings

Twitter https://twitter.com/lcrandallwriter

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6198966.Lynn_Crandall

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/lynncrandallwriter/

Instagram lcrandall246

I love a good spaghetti sauce with ground beef, or better yet ground venison. Thanks so much for sharing the sauce and the excerpt, Lynn. The recipe reminds me of my sister-in-law making sauce for dinner, and it was the first time I had ever seen anyone make it from scratch. Very tempting, indeed!

Anyone else make their own sauce? What other ingredients do you include or exclude?


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.

Tasty Tuesday: Teacakes by #romance #author Jannette Spann #cookies #recipe #amreading #mustread #fiction

Tasty Tuesday welcomes a real classy lady and her Mama’s Teacakes recipe. Contemporary romance author Jannette Spann shares the inspiration for her novel, Right Time for Love, and makes me hungry at the same time! Take it away, Jannette!

Thank you for having me on Tasty Tuesday, Betty, and for allowing me to share a favorite recipe of mine. One of the questions I get asked the most is, “Where do I get the inspiration for the books I write?” Truthfully, some come from thin air, but Right Time for Love came from old-fashioned teacakes.

There were eleven kids in my family, and we grew up on a farm in the country where we raised most of what we ate, both meat and vegetable. We got electricity in our home when I was four-years-old, but I was eleven when Mama bought her first electric stove. Before then, she cooked on a large, old-fashioned wood-burning stove. As kids, our job in the afternoon was to remove the ashes and bring in stove wood. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term ‘stove wood’, it’s split firewood, only shorter and smaller.

Although money was scarce, it didn’t stop Mama from being a wonderful cook. Very seldom did she know how many kids would be at our table, only that she would have a lot of hungry mouths to feed…our friends were always welcome. It wasn’t often that we had sweets, but when we did, you can bet there were never any leftovers.

My favorite—without a doubt—was her teacakes. It wasn’t unheard of for me to beg for those. When she had the time, energy, and right ingredients, she would make a big batch of teacakes for all of us. If you’ve never ‘swiped’ cookie dough as a kid, then you’ve missed one of the joys of childhood. Today we’re told not to eat anything with raw eggs, but I still eat teacake dough.

If you’re wondering how this relates to my latest book, it’s simple… eating is one of my favorite things to do. When I began to plot Right Time for Love, I had a sweet craving and thought about my mama’s teacakes. That’s when I decided to make teacakes the central theme of the story.

Brandy Wyne, my heroine, needed a way to introduce herself and her mother to their new neighborhood. Why couldn’t Brandy’s mom bake the best old-fashioned teacakes in the world?

After all, who can resist a plate of fresh baked homemade cookies? Each time they gave cookies as a gift, a new character was introduced to the story.

Got a problem? Reach for the cookie jar.

Need a disaster? Mix a batch of cookie dough and have things go haywire.

Need to catch Mr. Right? Give him a cookie.

Thanks to the teacakes, Right Time for Love was so much fun to write, it practically wrote itself.


1 cup margarine, softened

2 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla flavoring

3 cups self-rising flour

Cream margarine & sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla, beat until well blended. Stir in flour 1 cup at a time until all 3 cups have been worked into dough. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 355 degrees. Roll out dough on lightly floured board or pastry cloth to 1/8″ thickness. (I roll it out in small batches.) Cut out cookies and bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned. (For richer cookies, use real butter.) Enjoy!

RightTimeForLove_453x680Brandy Wyne’s future includes an old house with plumbing problems, a new job, and caring for her mother who has suffered a stroke.

Gavin Wilkin has increased his Grandpa’s plumbing business to twice its original worth, but the old man’s got a hot lady friend with greedy hands. How can he convince his grandpa of what she’s after without hurting him? Added to his problems is the responsibility of caring for his seven-year-old niece for the summer.

Brandy can’t afford the plumbing repairs she needs, and Gavin can’t find a sitter for his niece. Ever heard of the barter system?


AMAZON   http://www.amazon.com/Right-Time-Love-Jannette-Spann-ebook/dp/B00U6NBWJY/ref=pd_sim_351_1

BARNES & NOBLE   http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/right-time-for-love-jannette-spann/1121320610?ean=2940151603751

KOBO   https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/right-time-for-love

SMASHWORDS   https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/524597

ITUNES    https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/right-time-for-love/id973246621?mt=11&uo=4

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the first reading of “Camp Fire Girls” to her 4th-grade class, Jannette Spann knew she wanted to be an author. She admits her aspirations were almost shattered when English grammar proved to be her toughest subject in school. As it so often happens, her childhood dreams were pushed aside as life led her in other directions. The dream faded, but never went away.

In the early nineties, she began writing short stores for her grandchildren and the dream of being an author sprang to life again. After completing a creative writing course, she wrote her first full-length novel which to this day remains in the back of her closet.

More stories came to life in her imagination and in December of 2012 she decided the time had come to get serious if she wanted to fulfill her childhood dream. In August of 2013 she published her first full-length Inspirational Romance Novel Hidden Hills, with Astraea Press. Two years later she released her 2nd novel with the same publisher entitled Right Time for Love. Both books are available for purchase on line in e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Jannette is a member of Heart of Dixie, the North Alabama Chapter of Romance Writers of America. She believes when God gives you a dream for your future, you should go for it. Chances are He’s given you the ability to succeed, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Get to know her better at http://www.jannettespann.com/

The teacakes sound absolutely wonderful, Jannette! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe and a bit about your childhood memories.

Ready to share some teacakes with your neighbors? Or maybe stir up some recipe competition with your friends? What do you think?


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.

Tasty Tuesday: Angel Food Waldorf #Cake #dessert #recipe #paranormal #romance #PNR #mustread #fiction

Today’s cake recipe is more an assembly project than a straight up recipe. It’s called an Angel Food Waldorf cake and it really is divine! I recently made it for myself and hubby. I’ll tell you a little secret about that at the end, so bear with me!

I discovered this recipe when I was a teenager and really big into cake decorating. You know, the buttercream icing and pastry bags, designs and letters in various colors on the smoothly frosted cake surface. I even competed at the county 4-H fair, though I don’t recall any awards… But that’s another matter, right?

My family loves this cake. When I told my daughter I was going to make it, she was miffed because she lives in another state and so couldn’t pop in for a slice. It’s good, but worth crossing an entire state for? Probably not.

Because it’s one of my favorites, I decided to include it for the big Thanksgiving dinner in my latest paranormal romance, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow. Tara has a hard time in the kitchen for reasons she is slow to discover for herself. But by the time the family feast comes around she’s sorted things out well enough to pull this delight together. Here’s a snippet from the story to set the mood:

Tara wiped her hands on a towel and grinned at him. “That finishes the pies, and the cake is baked and ready for the final construction.”

“Are we building something?” Grant loved her quirky little smile at his question.

“You could say that. We need to slice off the top of the cake, then cut out a tunnel in the bottom and pull out the center part of the cake.” She motioned with her hands to show him what she meant. “Then we fill the tunnel with whipped cream, sliced strawberries, and slivered almonds.”

“Yum.” She was so cute when she wrinkled her brow in thought. “Then what?”

“Put the top on and smother the whole thing in more whipped cream.” She pointed to a second box of strawberries. “Some of those get spaced on top as decoration.”

“Double yum.” He gazed at his woman, drinking in her features and enjoying her animated motions with her hands. “What happens to the cake you pull out?”

She wiggled her brows with a grin aimed his direction. “That’s the best part. You get to eat it.”

“I’m in.”


With no further ado, here’s a little more detail on how to build this confection.


Betty’s Angel Food Waldorf


Angel Food Cake, prepared as directed

1 large container Cool Whip

1 cup cut up strawberries

½ cup slivered almonds

½ cup miniature marshmallows

8 medium strawberries, approximately the same size and capped


Bake an angel food cake per box instructions (or buy one, if you prefer); cool completely

Place cake upside down on a plate. Slice off entire top of cake about 1 inch down; set aside.

Make cuts down into the cake 1 inch from the outer edge and 1 inch from the edge of the hole in the center, leaving substantial walls on each side. Remove cake within the cuts, leaving a 1 inch thick base.

IMG_0565In a medium chilled bowl, mix 5 cups Cool Whip with the strawberries, marshmallows, and nuts until well blended. Press the mixture firmly into the cavity to avoid holes in cut slices. Replace top of cake and press down gently.

Use remaining Cool Whip to frost the cake. Place 8 remaining strawberries point side up at regular intervals on top of the cake. If desired, sprinkle more slivered almonds around the top.

Chill at least 4 hours before serving.

Makes 12-16 servings.


Ready for the little secret about the last one I made? Shhh! We’ve never done this before, but hubby and I ate the whole thing in 3 days! My intention had been to have him take whatever we didn’t eat to work with him on Monday, but it didn’t last that long. Talk about yummy! But not something I expect to repeat, either. (Soon, at least.)

What do you think? Are you up for putting together this light and delicious treat for your family and friends? What other berries do you think would taste good instead of, or perhaps in addition to, the strawberries?


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.

The_Touchstone_of_Raven_Hollow_600x900Tara Golden has hidden her healing power all her life. But occasionally, she uses her abilities on people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. Now a tall, sexy geologist is asking questions she doesn’t want to face, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer. There’s no way she would reveal her abilities and her gifted sisters for a fling.

The latest medical tests divulge geologist Grant Markel’s fatal condition is cured, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. When he meets the sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest, he’s determined to prove she’s full of smoke and mirrors despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?

Amazon: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-kindle

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

Kobo: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-Kobo

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

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

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

iBooks: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-iBooks

Google: http://bit.ly/Touchstone-GoogleBks

Tasty Tuesday: Romantic Risotto alla Milanese by #histrom #author Carmela Martino #dinner #recipe #Italian

So, I need to pay close attention to today’s Tasty Tuesday recipe since I am challenged when it comes to cooking rice! Carmela Martino has done her research for this Risotto alla Milanese recipe based on her historical romance, Playing by Heart. I’m going to pull out a notepad and pencil and follow along closely. Ready to hear about her amazing story of lady musicians as well as this very tempting dish? You’re up, Carmela!

My historical romance, Playing by Heart (Vinspire Publishing), is inspired by two amazing women who lived in 18th-century Milan—composer Maria Teresa Agnesi and her older sister, linguist and mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi. I changed their names for the novel, but I included actual historical people and events to make the story feel more authentic. That authenticity carries over into the food and drinks mentioned. Getting those details right required significant research. I scoured historical cookbooks as well as references on the history of food in Italy. In the process, learned that the classic rice dish I’ll be sharing today, Risotto alla Milanese—Milanese Risotto, probably wasn’t developed until the 1800s. But, since it’s probably similar to the risotto my characters eat in the novel, I figured Risotto alla Milanese would be a fun recipe to share with you for Valentine’s Day. Even the name sounds romantic!

My main character is the naturally gifted musician Emilia Salvini. Because she is a teen in the story, Playing by Heart is categorized as young adult fiction. However, many adult readers and reviewers have commented that the story straddles the YA/adult genre. In the novel, Emilia dreams of marrying a man who loves music as much as she does, but as the “second sister,” she fears she’ll be sent to a convent instead. Her only hope is to prove her musical talents crucial to her father’s quest for nobility. Her first test comes when she must perform at a reception welcoming a new governor to Milan. Risotto is mentioned in Chapter 3 to highlight the dinner-table tension when Emilia’s parents disagree over whether Emilia and her sister should have new gowns for the event. The lavish reception, which is held at the palazzo of an influential count, is where Emilia meets the violinist who becomes her love interest.

My parents were born in central Italy, so I’ve eaten and prepared a variety of Italian rice dishes. However, since Italian food is very regional, Risotto alla Milanese wasn’t one of them. When I decided to make it for myself, I turned to my brother for advice. He’s the family foodie and loves to cook. He sent me to a recipe on the Food & Wine website that is basically how he prepares it. I’ve adapted the recipe as follows.

Carmela’s Risotto alla Milanese


5 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 TBLS extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup chopped leeks (the original recipe calls for onion, which I can’t eat)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

Pinch of saffron threads*

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 TBL unsalted butter

2 TBLS chopped Italian parsley (I forgot to buy fresh parsley, so I used a teaspoon of dried parsley instead.)

*Note: Saffron is expensive, but you need very little for this dish. I bought a small container of saffron online, but my brother tells me it’s available at Trader Joe’s, too. The saffron is what gives this dish its distinctive golden hue.


Risotto bubblingIn a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a simmer and keep warm. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the leeks, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, over medium heat, until soft. This took me maybe 4-5 minutes. Add the rice and cook about 1 minute, stirring to coat with the oil. Crumble the saffron into the wine. I wasn’t exactly sure how much a “pinch” of saffron is. I aimed for about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon, but I had a hard time measuring the fine threads.

Risotto adding butter almost doneAdd the wine to the rice and cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed. Add about 1 cup of the warm broth to the rice and continuing cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until nearly all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente, literally “tender to the tooth” and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce. It took me about 20-25 minutes from first adding the broth to get to this point. Stir in the cheese, butter, and parsley. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Risotto finished productThis recipe is a little labor-intensive, but I enjoyed making it. The kitchen smelled marvelous and the result tasted delicious, especially with a little extra parmigiana sprinkled on top. If you enjoy background music while dining, you could cue up a piece composed by Maria Teresa Agnesi herself, such as the one here. If you’d like to read more about the two sisters who inspired Playing by Heart, visit the website I created.

I’m pleased that Playing by Heart has received some lovely reviews, including one from Booklist that said, “Martino’s romantic read features lovable characters and is vibrant in setting and detail.” For more about the novel, and additional review excerpts, see the book’s page on my website.

PR BW portraitCarmela Martino is an author, speaker, and writing teacher. She wrote the middle-grade novel, Rosa, Sola (Candlewick Press), while working on her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. The novel was a Booklist “Top Ten First Novel for Youth.” Her second novel, the historical romance Playing by Heart (Vinspire Publishing), took first place in the Young Adult category of the 2013 Windy City RWA Four Seasons Romance Writing Contest. Carmela’s credits for teens and tweens also include short stories and poems in magazines and anthologies. Her articles for adults have appeared in such publications as the Chicago Tribune, Catholic Parent, and multiple editions of the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. Carmela has taught writing workshops for children and adults since 1998, and she blogs about teaching and writing at www.TeachingAuthors.com


Sign up for Carmela’s Creativity Newsletter

Facebook Author Page




TeachingAuthors blog posts

Vinspire Author Page

PlayingbyHeart cover 70 percent


Barnes and Noble


Google Play


Vinspire Publishing


That sounds absolutely delicious, Carmela! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, and I can’t wait to read Playing by Heart. I love books about musicians and combined with the historical aspects makes it all the more tempting for me.

Do you enjoy rice with fun and intriguing ingredients like cheese and saffron? What other ways have you dressed up rice?


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.

Tasty Tuesday: #Squash #Casserole amid A Sister’s Quandary by #author Rachel Jones #recipe #whatsfordinner #mustread #fiction

For today’s Tasty Tuesday, how about a delicious pair of squash casserole and a poignant sister’s story about forgiveness and healing? Author Rachel Jones has just the thing for us.

Hi everyone! My first attempt at writing women’s fiction — I usually write full-length contemporary romance novels — debuted in a short story anthology last November. One of the details was to include the mention of a prepared dish that we would share with readers at the end of our stories. I chose a squash casserole recipe that I concocted a few years into my marriage while developing my culinary skills (we will be married 40 years next month). I’ve passed this recipe to family members throughout the years and decided it was the perfect recipe to include in my story about family love.

In A Sister’s Quandary, a life-threatening diagnosis triggers forgiveness between two estranged sisters. Brooke and Sophie spend weeks together as they recover from kidney donor and recipient surgery. While reminiscing, they talk about many things. Among them, the first dish Nana taught them to cook — squash casserole — because Gramps’ garden produced a bumper crop that year. When Betty offered a spot on Tasty Tuesday, I knew this was the dish I wanted to highlight.

Rachel’s Summer Squash Casserole


Serving-IMG_06452 lbs. yellow squash, sliced and cooked

Salt and pepper to taste

1 small onion, chopped

½ cup butter

1 carrot, grated

8 oz. sour cream

10.5 oz. can cream of chicken soup

2 cups cornbread stuffing

1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded


In a large pot, cover squash with water. Add salt and pepper. Cook until tender. Drain and mash.

Sauté onion in butter. Add all other ingredients except cheese.

Mix well and pour into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle cheese over mixture.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Squash Casserole-IMG_0639

Love Around the TableA Sister’s Quandary

A life threatening diagnosis triggers forgiveness and healing between two estranged sisters.

Sophie needs a kidney and Brooke wants to provide her with one. But the past is keeping Sophie from accepting her twin’s gift and a chance for a healthy future.

Love Around the Table

Six Southern authors share six great short stories of friendship, family, and romance. Each narrative includes a recipe that the author divulges for readers at the conclusion of her story.

Love Around the Table is an extraordinary book. 100% of the eBook sales go directly to the Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta.

Your purchase of this eBook will help make life easier for a child and their family. Ronald McDonald houses provide a home away from home when a child is receiving medical care for a life-threatening condition. There is no charge to the family.

Buy Links:






Rachel Jones-IMG_7587-Edit_previewAward-winning author Rachel Jones is a writer by day and a Labor & Delivery RN by night. A clarinetist for fifty-four years, Rachel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from Berry College and taught music in public and privates schools for ten years. Changing her career path in 1991, she received her Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing from Kennesaw State University. For the past twenty-seven years, she has cared for high-risk OB and laboring patients in the hospital setting.

Rachel’s love of reading romance novels prompted her at age fifty-seven to write her first contemporary romance manuscript. She loves composing stories about strong women and sweet romance. Her books reflect her love of the performing arts and a twenty-seven-year career in healthcare has influenced the threads of medical drama woven into her storylines.

When she’s not writing or working, Rachel loves traveling, sewing and the music enthusiast in her still believes in practicing her clarinet and piano. She lives in Kennesaw, Georgia with her husband of thirty-nine years. They have three adult children and one spoiled Labrador retriever.





Squash, both yellow and zucchini, are favorites of mine. This casserole sounds delicious to me! And the story is intriguing as well. Sisters do not always get along, do they? Maybe most of the time, but not always… Do you recall the Sisters number in White Christmas, the one that Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye pretend to sing dressed up like the original sisters in the movie? What a great scene, and the song itself is right on target. I hope you enjoy the recipe and the story!


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.

Tasty Tuesday A Handful of Heart Healthy #recipes from #author Virginia McCullough #dessert #breakfast #delicious #mustread #fiction

Today’s Tasty Tuesday offering includes several tempting recipes for you try. Women’s fiction and romance author Virginia McCullough is here to tell you about one of her favorite stories and several related dishes to enjoy. What do you have for us, Virginia?

Welcome to the Both Sides Now Café with Virginia McCullough

The Jacks of Her Heart takes place in a small Wisconsin town named Capehart Bay and features Jack Young’s ’60s and ’70s nostalgia café, Both Sides Now, where every item on the menu is named after a ’60s or ’70s song. No wonder it’s a favorite eatery in Capehart Bay. Lorna Lindstrom, a professional organizer and lifestyle coach, loves the café and when she and her friend June meet there for lunch, they usually order their favorite “California Dreamin’” salad, with either chicken or chilled shrimp—it’s full of avocado slices and tomatoes and, of course, sprouts—alfalfa, broccoli, radish, and sunflower.

Lorna and June never pass up a chance for a “Brown Eyed Girl” bran muffin. There’s no trick to make those at home. Use your favorite bran muffin recipe and add chopped walnuts and raisins, and you instantly have your brown eyed girl.

Jack, recently divorced, and Lorna, a widow, are passing acquaintances, but they both end up in a local group that takes off on a Caribbean cruise. Everyone has a fabulous time. But wow, Lorna and Jack get so caught up in the moonlight and dancing they impulsively duck inside a tiny chapel in the Dominican Republic and walk out married!

A light-side romance, The Jacks of Her Heart sees Jack and Lorna wondering if their opposites-attract-marriage can last once they’re back home in the midst of a chilly Wisconsin spring. Jack and Lorna have a “morning after” moment and agree that a quick divorce is probably the best solution to their impulsive wedding. Their grown children sure think this marriage is a serious mistake and aren’t shy to say as much at a dinner that brings the two families together. But do these kids—in their twenties and living their own lives—have to be so bossy about it? Leading the charge is Vicky, Lorna’s newly married daughter.

Don’t get me wrong, the adult kids try to be understanding of their parents’ need for “companionship in their older years.” What? In their early fifties, Jack and Lorna stifle their laughter and, using the need to bring out dessert, the two head to the kitchen to talk things over:

“Who are these kids to tell us how to spend our older years? Vicky’s been overbearing and bossy ever since her father died, but this is ridiculous. All three of them seem poised on a cliff, ready to pounce and run our lives.”


Lorna broke away from Jack and opened the bakery box. “What do you want to do?” she asked, transferring the raspberry tart to a platter.


“Since you asked, I’d like to shoo the kids out the door.” He came up behind her and squeezed her shoulders. “Maybe we could have a little companionship.”


She glanced behind her and grinned. “Right. I’ll drag out the rocking chairs and we can watch the Weather Channel.” She shook her head. “Honestly, I never heard anything so ridiculous in my life.”


“I know one thing,” Jack said with an edge in his voice. “I don’t feel like pretending to feel bad about our so-called mistake.”


Lorna pivoted to face him. “It didn’t feel like a mistake when we said those words—our vows, I mean.” 


“Spoken in front of a tall, skinny guy in a lime green suit—it matched your dress as I recall.”


“Ah, yes, that green is one of my best colors,” she said with a giggle, “but not necessarily one of his.”


“You looked beautiful, like you do now.” Jack rested his chin on the top of her head. “I don’t know about you, but I’m stubborn enough to…”


The sound of the door opening interrupted him. “Do you need more help?” Vicky asked, her face pinched in disapproval.


“We’re fine, but why don’t you put out the dessert plates from the breakfront in the dining room?”


When Vicky was out of sight, Lorna turned to Jack. “My stubborn streak is wide awake and standing at attention.”


He cupped her cheeks in his palms. “We’ve been quick to label it a mistake. But I didn’t want to take my hands off your soft skin this afternoon. Then I couldn’t wait to get back over here, even knowing our kids would treat us like criminals.” He kissed her forehead. “What do you think? Whaddya say we give this marriage a go?”


“Sometimes impulsive decisions turn out okay.” She heard the uncertainty in her voice and closed her eyes, enjoying his touch as he cradled her face. Caught in a frenzied game of tug of war, her head yelled no, no, no, but her heart begged her to say yes. Back and forth, her reason locked in a battle with her feelings.

Jack is a follow-his-gut kind of guy, while Lorna leans toward logic and reasoned decisions. They’re both stubborn, though. And maybe the kids pushed too hard for a fast breakup.

Within days of their cruise-ship wedding, Jack and Lorna find themselves involved in each other’s families in ways they never imagined. Jack is almost certain Vicky’s brand new husband is cheating, and Jack’s elderly dad needs some help—now. Turns out Jack comes with a dog, and he rescues a few more. For reasons of her own, Lorna doesn’t welcome pets, especially dogs. Uh oh. So, can this starry-eyed couple find some common ground?

I had a lot of fun with the ’60s and ’70s theme, and the book features a vintage clothing sale and Jack’s summer-long music festival, opening with a Beatles tribute band. But the most fun was naming Jack’s menu items—and you can have fun, too:

  • A couple of readers have commented that they started thinking of their regular brownies as not just typical luscious dessert fare, but special “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” brownies.
  • Grill flank steak for two and call it “Going to the Chapel.”
  • Any smoothie made with a banana can become an instant “Mellow-Yellow Banana Smoothie.”
  • Make an orange flavored muffin and call it “Here Comes the Sun.”

A couple of relatives of mine got a kick out of the “Whiter Shade of Pale” vegetable and egg white omelet and now call The Jacks of Her Heart a heart-healthy book. If you’re not familiar with egg white omelets, here’s an easy-does-it “Whiter Shade of Pale” recipe Jack’s cooks use:

Beat 4 egg whites until blended and set aside. (Use one whole egg if that “shade of pale” from all egg whites is a bit much for you.)

Assemble vegetables—up to ½ cup each of any combination of greens such as spinach and kale. Add about ¼ cup of any or all of these: diced mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black olives, cauliflower, or broccoli. Add salt and/or other seasonings to the vegetable mix—chives are always good. Some add the raw chopped vegetables into the omelet, but I like to lightly sauté and soften them before folding them in.

Melt butter (or a vegetable oil if you prefer) in your omelet pan and continue as you would with any omelet. Add the vegetable mix when the eggs are almost done and fold the omelet. Top with crumbled feta cheese or any other grated cheese if desired.

Want to listen to Joe Cocker sing “Whiter Shade of Pale” while you enjoy your omelet? Click here for a 1978 performance.

Ice Cream SundaeLorna’s mom Aggie has a favorite Both Sides Now dessert, the “Nights in White Satin Sundae.” Who can resist the easiest dessert ever—chocolate ice cream and marshmallow topping, and a dollop of whipped cream? Enjoy it with a side of the Moody Blues singing that hit live in 1968.

Hands down, the favorite lunch and dinner item on Jack’s menu is the “Forever Young Salmon Salad.” It’s fit for company, extraordinarily versatile, and takes very little time to fix. Here’s how to make this salad for two:

Two salmon fillets, 4-6 ounces each, placed skin side down in a lightly oiled baking dish.

Brush the fillets with a generous amount of sesame-ginger salad dressing—any brand. (A light teriyaki sauce is good too.) Bake the fillets at 375 for 20-30 minutes. Some people bake them at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

Fill two dinner plates with greens and cut vegetables, any amount and kind you want. (Packaged greens and precut salad vegetables are fine.)

Put the fillets, hot or chilled, on the bed of greens. Add (optional) walnuts, berries, sunflower or sesame seeds, dried cranberries or raisins, and croutons. Dress with any kind of salad dressing, including a sesame-ginger.

If you don’t care for sesame-ginger flavor, try seasoning the salmon with spicy mustard, lemon and dill, or a citrus blend. Use honey-mustard dressing or raspberry vinaigrette.

“Forever Young” is one of the most enduring songs of the ’60s and ’70s era. Here’s one of my favorite covers, Joan Baez singing the Dylan classic.

The Jacks of Her Heart was great fun to write and if I had a Both Sides Now Café near me, I’d be a regular. I hope you’ll take a trip to Capehart Bay and enjoy Jack and Lorna’s story.

About Virginia McCullough

Born and raised in Chicago, Virginia has lived in many places, from the Maine coast to the mountains of North Carolina and now Green Bay, Wisconsin. As a ghostwriter/editor/coauthor, Virginia has written over 100 nonfiction books for physicians, lawyers, business owners, professional speakers and many other individuals with information to share or a story to tell.

Virginia’s women’s fiction titles include Amber Light, Island Healing, and Greta’s Grace. She also writes for Harlequin’s Heartwarming line. Girl In The Spotlight (June 2017) and Something To Treasure (January 2018) are the first two books in her Two Moon Bay Heartwarming series, with Book 3, Love, Unexpected due for release in May 2018.

Whether romance or women’s fiction, Virginia’s novels feature characters who could be your neighbors and friends. They come in all ages and struggle with everyday life issues

Website:  https://virginiamccullough.com/

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/JUJCb

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/virginia.mccullough.7

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VEMcCullough

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/Virginia-McCullough/e/B001JRXBNQ/

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/virginia-mccullough

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/468913.Virginia_McCullough


Jacks 150Where to Find The Jacks of Her Heart

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/2DCMnT9

Nook:  http://bit.ly/2BpLecw

iBooks:  https://apple.co/2F5UiWd

Kobo:  http://bit.ly/2DywVbz


Thanks so much, Virginia! What great recipes!

So we learned about several new dishes to try, along with what sounds like an awesome story about an intriguing couple and town. I hope you enjoy!


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.

Tasty Tuesday: Fry Bread and Race Cars from #contemporary #romance #author Leslie Scott #NativeAmerican #bread #recipe #racecar #fiction

I need some speed today for Tasty Tuesday, along with a delicious way to fix some hot bread for dinner. Contemporary romance author Leslie Scott has a little of both for us! Fasten your seatbelts!

Thank you for having me on Tasty Tuesday, Betty!

My name is Leslie Scott and I write New Adult Contemporary romances about a town full of street racers. The debut novel of my Arkadia Fast series released last month. The follow-up should be out sometime this spring.

The hero of The Finish Line is Cherokee from Texas, and in this modern setting he’s also the reigning King of the Streets. When Betty talked to me about writing this post, I started thinking about a dish that would be important to my heroine. The entire time, though, Jordan was in my ear reminding me that he has the most important dish. That it was something his grandfather made for him when he came to live with him.

Though, fry bread is not a traditional Cherokee recipe, in the Midwest it has become very popular among the Native American population in the past fifty or so years. The puffy, fried dough is something his grandfather served with chili beans or taco fixings. Something hardy and filling for an older man raising a large, hungry teenage boy all on his own.

You see, Jordan was born to an addict mother who eventually left him with her father. The relationship between grandfather and grandson formed Jordan to be the man he is, the hero he is, for Raelynn in The Finish Line.

The first time I ever tried Fry Bread was at the Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City. If you’ve never been, you should really make that trip. The cultural experience is amazing, as is the artwork and obviously, the food.

I serve mine with taco fixings, though I’ve had it assorted sweet toppings (like with funnel cake) as well.

Here ya go:

Fry Bread


2 Cups Flour

½ Teaspoon Salt

½ Cup Water

½ Teaspoon Baking Powder

½ Cup Powdered Milk

About 2 Cups Oil or Shortening


frybread1Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, powdered milk, and water until you form a dough ball. Don’t kneed or over work the dough, you don’t want it tough.

Heat oil until bubbles form around the handle of a wooden spoon (or however you check to make sure it’s hot).

Flour your hands. Pinch off chunks of dough (mine are usually the size of a clementine), roll them into a ball, then flatten them with your hands.

Here’s a hint, don’t put more than two (or three if you have a large pan) pieces in the pan. Don’t let them touch and don’t let the oil get too hot. Flip them once when the edges start to burn. I use tongs, it’s easier.

When your pieces of fry bread are a nice, golden brown, take them out and let them drain.

frybread2Like I said, there are a variety of ways to serve fry bread both sweet and savory. I say, try them all! And honestly, being the southern girl I am… we’ve had it with white gravy and chocolate gravy. Because, why not?

I hope you enjoy!

TheFinishLine_w11775_750 - CopyAnother night at the races is more than burnt rubber with a hit of nitrous. For one young woman, it’s navigating trauma, love, and loss in the stifling Texas heat under the watchful gaze of her brother’s best friend and reigning King of the Streets, Jordan Slater. Home in Arkadia again, Raelynn Casey starts to heal from a terrible incident at college. She finds love in Jordan, a member of her brother’s circle of racing buddies. When another in the racing circle, the guy who took her to her high school prom, exposes his feelings for Raelynn, tragedy erupts like a tank of race fuel. Guilt, remorse, and pain must be overcome before Raelynn and Jordan can race to The Finish Line.

The Finish Line, Paperback http://bit.ly/2isnD4u

The Finish Line, Nook http://bit.ly/2A88mjH

The Finish Line, Kindle http://amzn.to/2A875ZX

About Leslie:

Leslie Scott thrives in the middle of chaos. Not because she homeschools her son and rides herd over the family’s zoo of indoor pets or listens to her soul mate wax poetically about all things car and related. Oh, no. That’s nothing. The real chaos is the characters in her mind, elbowing and tripping each other to get to the front of the line so they can be the next romantic couple in one of her stories. Her family is her passion. Writing romance is her dream.

Readers can find me on my website: lesliescottromance.com, on Twitter @leslieSwrites, and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lesliescottwrites. I’m really active on twitter/facebook and would love to hear from readers!

Thanks, Leslie, for sharing that recipe! I’m excited for your budding career and wish you all the best as you go forward!

I’ve enjoyed fry bread when I’ve visited my sister and her family in Oklahoma. What a delightful treat, too! I think it was around a time when the local tribe (am I using that term correctly? Please let me know!) held a powwow with dancing and food and storytelling, I think. It’s been a long time ago now, so the memory is a bit fuzzy. I do recommend trying this bread for its light and delicious texture and taste.


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.

Tasty Tuesday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from #Romance #Author Nancee Cain #sandwich #recipe #sogood #fiction

Hey, Tasty Tuesday fans! I’ve got a special guest today, contemporary romance author Nancee Cain is bringing her particular brand of humor to the table! Take it away, Nancee, with your grilled cheese goodness!

In my book, The Redemption of Emma Devine, Emma is not known for her culinary skills. As a matter of fact, burnt toast is her specialty and a grilled cheese sandwich highlights her inadequacies. Who among us hasn’t made a mess of the simplest thing? Enjoy!

Emma’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Place two pieces of toast in toaster.

Give in to the whining of the four-year-old who wants to help.

Caution her that the grater is sharp.

Push the button on the toaster.

Get sidetracked by a dog who needs to go outside to do her business.

Calm the hysterical four-year-old after she’s grated her finger along with the cheese while “helping.”

Throw the bloody cheese out, place a band-aid on the injured finger, kiss away the tears, thank the four-year-old for her help, and suggest she go find her father.

Mentally wonder if there is any beer in the fridge.

Remove the burnt toast from the toaster, ready to toss it in the garbage and start over.

Have second thoughts when the father yells from the living area, “Is supper ready?”

Place burnt toast on a plate teepee style and offer it to the father who has been oblivious to the chaos while he watches a ballgame.

Toastscheiben auf Porzellanteller, verbrannt

David’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Send frazzled mom to take a warm bubble bath.

Let dog in and instruct four-year-old to feed the dog and pick up her mess to keep everyone out of the doghouse.

Heat heavy cast iron skillet.

Cut off crusts.

Thinly spread one side of each bread with butter.

Skip the grated cheese and unwrap the pre-made cheese slice.

Thinly spread the other side of the bread with mayo and place mayo side down in pan. Throw on the cheese and when it is halfway melted, flip the other piece of bread on top and press lightly.

Remove from heat and cut in four triangles to prevent fit from four-year-old.

Allow four-year-old to eat in the den watching TV, knowing the dog will eat half.

Take an ice-cold beer to the frazzled mom in the bathroom, offer to scrub her back and enjoy the rest of the evening.


Profile portrait of businessman working on laptop  in black suit at studioAfter the upheaval of being dumped by his girlfriend, David Patterson leads a quiet life as a high school teacher in the small Southern town of Pine Bluff, Alabama. Soon to enroll in seminary, his dreams are within his grasp.

But a chance encounter with Emma Devine changes everything. She’s on the run, desperate, and surviving by any means possible. His pastor’s heart longs to help her—and the rest of him is rather intrigued as well.

His random act of kindness brings them together, but Emma makes an unfathomable decision—one that threatens to destroy two lives, though her intention is to save one.

Four years later, Emma returns, seeking redemption. But can David—whose dreams took a very different course after their last meeting—forgive her and risk losing everything?

Amazon: http://a.co/eBfDZfv

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2id9w5S
iBooks: http://apple.co/2gCXij5

KOBO: http://bit.ly/2yjQ9Md

Amazon paperback: http://a.co/aCuQI7q

Video: https://youtu.be/YaITeInWG7E


About Nancee…

During the day, Nancee works as a counselor/nurse in the field of addiction to support her coffee and reading habit. Nights are spent writing paranormal and contemporary romances with a serrated edge. Authors are her rock stars, and she’s been known to stalk a few for an autograph, but not in a scary, Stephen King way. Her husband swears her To-Be-Read list on her e-reader qualifies her as a certifiable book hoarder. Always looking to try something new, she dreams of being an extra in a Bollywood film, or a tattoo artist. (Her lack of rhythm and artistic ability may put a damper on both of these dreams.)

Website: www.nanceecain.com

Blog: http://www.nanceecain.com/blog/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Nancee_Cain

Newsletter: eepurl.com/bhFMtX

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NanceeCainAuthor/

Reader’s Group (Cain Raisers): https://www.facebook.com/groups/Cain.Raisers/

Twitter: twitter.com/Nancee_Cain

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nanceecain/

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/nanceecain

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCela7FfQ_j8t_qZm267NUSA

Nancee, you’re such a fun woman! I’m glad to call you a friend! Is there anything better on a cold winter day than a hot, gooey grilled cheese sandwich to warm you up? Well, other than your significant other… Maybe the sandwich could be paired with some tomato soup? That sounds like a perfect lunch or light supper, to me! How about you? What’s your go-to comfort food when you’re feeling down or just cold (it’s been so cold lately, too!)?


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.

Tasty Tuesday: Caramels from #Romance #Author Jill Haymaker #dessert #candy #recipe #Colorado #fiction

Today for Tasty Tuesday we have a real sweet treat! Contemporary romance author Jill Haymaker shares her recipe for homemade caramels! Yum! Tell us more, Jill!

Today I’d like to share with you my Caramels recipe. This recipe has been passed down through five generations of my family since sometime in the 1800s. My mother did not bake a lot, but growing up every year during the cold winter months, it has always been a special treat to have the delicious homemade caramels. I have had the joy of watching my children and grandchildren delight in the sweet treat as much as I did.

Jill’s Caramels

Combine in a large sauce pan:

½ lb. butter

2¼ cups brown sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1 can Eagle Brand milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Slowly boil, stirring constantly until you reach 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, or just after you reach the soft ball stage. (Hint: the caramel will darken in color just before it is done.)

Pour into a 9×13-inch baking dish and refrigerate to cool. Cut into squares and wrap individual pieces.

My Peakview Series centers around the small Colorado mountain of Peakview. Although the town is a product of my imagination, it is a composite of many small mountain towns where I have had the pleasure to spend time. The most consistent and well-liked character in my series is Violet Crandall who owns and runs the small café in the center of town. Violet is known for her kindness, her baking skills, and her uncanny ability to know everything that is going on in Peakview County. The internet has nothing on her. She also prides herself on being quite the matchmaker. If you ask her, she is responsible for every romance that has happened in Peakview.

If you’re single, you better watch out, Violet will know your perfect match before you do. The eighth book in the series, Colorado Golden Sunset, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07828MFF1 was released just before Christmas.

Violet’s own romance can be found in the second book in the series, Breakfast for Two. You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014VA616G, or at Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Google Play.

Breakfast for Two current coverThe tiny, mountain town of Peakview, Colorado, wouldn’t be the same without Violet’s Café, and its owner, Violet Woods. Widowed in her fifties, she leads a solitary life with only her cat Lucky to keep her warm at night. All thoughts of romance died with Stan. They had a wonderful, long happy marriage, and she’s content to live out the rest of her life with her memories.

Howard Crandall, Peakview’s only mechanic, is a confirmed bachelor and something of a hermit. When Stan died, he took it upon himself to look out for Violet, and Violet has kept him alive with her cooking skills. Over the years, they have become friends, but it isn’t until the past he has hid from for thirty year past suddenly catches up with him, that he opens up to the idea of finding love.

Is there a second chance for these two lonely souls?

On any given day you are likely to find Violet in the kitchen baking something homemade for her daily special. Many times she’s joined by her adorable granddaughters or any of the many local children she’s taken under her wing.

Jill Haymaker PicJill Haymaker was born and raised in Indiana and Ohio. After high school, she attended Bowling Green State University before moving to Fort Collins, Colorado. Ms. Haymaker made her home in Fort Collins until her recent move to East Texas. She practiced family law in Fort Collins for the past 20 years. She has three grown children, a son and two daughters. She also has three granddaughters.

Jill has always had a passion for writing. Colorado Sunset was her first full-length romance novel in her Peakview, Colorado, series. Her latest book, Colorado Golden Sunrise, is the eighth book in the series. If you love small town romance, you will love the characters in this series. She also has had several short stories published by Chicken Soup for the Soul, the most recent in the book Random Acts of Kindness.

When not practicing law or writing, Jill enjoys The Colorado mountains, horseback riding, gardening, long walks with her Shetland Sheepdog, Laddie, and spending time with her children and grandchildren. She enjoys their numerous sporting events. She is also an avid football fan and can be found on autumn weekends cheering on her favorite teams. She has a passion for working with high school youth; she is a youth group leader at her church, coaches a high school mock trial team, and is a volunteer at cross country and track meets.

Email: jillhaymaker@aol.com

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/jillhaymaker/e/B00VU1T4QY

Website/blog: http://jillhaymaker.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JillLHaymaker

Instagram: https://instagram.com/jillhaymaker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjillhaymaker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13636693Jill_Haymaker

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/Jill-Haymaker

I’ll say it again: yum! I’ve been out to Colorado several times, and plan to go again this year for the RWA conference in Denver this summer. Beautiful is an understatement! Thanks, Jill, for sharing your recipe and your stories!

Do you like to make candy? Caramels sound like something easy to make and delicious to boot. What kinds of candy do you all enjoy eating, if not making?


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.