Wednesday, May 25, 2022

CRUNCHY AT ITS BEST

from Stella May

This is my hubby’s favorite cookie. I must admit it is mine, too. I hope you like them as well. My recipe makes 10 - 12 medium cookies or 7 - 8 large ones. 

Almond Cookies

4 egg whites, right out of the refrigerator*
⅓ cup organic sugar, or ½ cup for a sweeter taste
1 tsp. almond extract
1 cup almond flour (I use super-fine blanched)
Almonds, slivered or whole 

Pre-heat oven to 250° F. 

Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

Pour egg whites into a glass bowl. Set your mixer on high speed. Whip until whites are very firm. 

Gradually add sugar, almond extract, and flour. Drop dough onto cookie sheet using a tablespoon or a scooper. Add an almond on top of each cookie, then set pan into oven. 

Bake for 20-25 min, then turn off the oven, but leave cookies inside for another 40-45 min. 

Remove and enjoy. 

*Store the yolks in the fridge to scramble for breakfast the next morning.

Here is a peek at Stella’s time travel romance novel for your reading pleasure. 

One key unlocks the love of a lifetime…but could also break her heart. 

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

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

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

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

’Til Time Do Us Part is available in Kindle and Paperback at AMAZON


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

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of 'Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 35 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

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

Monday, May 23, 2022

Take the Good with the Bad

from Emma Lane aka Janis Lane

 Shifting with the world in rapid change can be a headache for sure. We humans are comfortable with everything when it stays the same, even if sometimes it ought to be different. Yes, the pandemic was scary. That was and is a bad thing. Most of us lined up for the vaccinations and felt thankful there was some protection. I admit I fell in love with the masks and haven’t had a bad cold or any upper respiratory infection since I started wearing one out in public. That’s a good thing. I may be clutching one of my trusty masks for a long time to come. It’s just too easy a protection to ignore. I know some folks don’t feel that way and that’s their right, but for me and my house, we mask.  


On the other hand, I’m connected to a family plant nursery. During the pandemic, a renewed interest in farming, house plants, and gardening surged to the top of the hobby list. We were amazed how fast our plants were scuttling out the doors of the greenhouses with folks snatching and grabbing for more.

We planned an anniversary festival with artist and authors setting up for interest. So plants, paintings, and books. What could be more interesting than that! It was a success and so fun. What is the bad news? 

 Supplies are precious. We may not have enough pots to present our plants this season. We are scrambling and repainting and reusing old ones we can find. Other perennials are presenting in one too big or too small. We must use ingenuity, creativity, and sheer determination to have a successful season. Big supply boats are stuck in canals and such. Nothing we can do except encourage US businesses to pay attention and invent a new factory or two. I shudder to think we must go back to the ‘dig your own.’ 

 My bad news on a personal level was the fall I took tripping over my easel. (Another fun hobby during the pandemic.) No, my nose isn’t broken, but you aren’t allowed to laugh when you see me. 

 The good news? Oh, it’s the very best. I have a Cozy Mystery release that debuted in the latter part of April. Ta Da! Check out the pretty greenhouse on the front cover of Murder by Proxy, the fifth of the Detective Kevin Fowler Cozy Mysteries. That’s a clue, by the way. An attitude of thankfulness goes a long way to reconciling the not so good. 

Happy reading and happy gardening as we flex with the good and bend with the bad taken in perspective. If you're looking for me, you know where to find me. I’ll be repotting succulents in Greenhouse 3.


A blizzard blows in big-city crimes which spill into the peaceful small town of Hubbard, New York, catching the attention of Detective Kevin Fowler and staff. What unusual acts engage the Secret Service with the local cops? A young man is found badly beaten in the heated greenhouse of the Young Family Plant Nursery. Early spring melt reveals a sinister vehicle with a deadly cargo, even as the master of the greenhouse welcomes part-time alumni.

Romance swirls, tumbles, and produces surprising changes among the group of friends at Buddy and Rita’s diner. Beverly hires a young, ambitious reporter to work at the growing newspaper and starts a new adventure of her own, while Kevin watches over the townspeople of Hubbard. The mystery of a toxic skunk is finally routed by troublesome out-of-towners. An unexpected wedding shocks everyone but the Young Family. Spring has arrived and May is in full bloom in the Western New York small-town Americana, as another beautiful bride walks toward the flower-laded bower under the approving eyes of a group of fond friends.

AMAZON BUY LINK

 


Emma Lane
is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane. 

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own. 

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Romance Meets Outdoor Dining

from Sloane Taylor

Spring is an amazing time of year and my favorite because that’s when the Earth comes alive. All sorts of beautiful things happen. Trees are budding, tender plants push through the ground, and romance is in the air and warm weather is just a few weeks away.

I am a romantic through and through. Always have been and with any luck I always will be. Romance is much more than a quick trip to tangle the sheets. It is about being with someone you love and doing little things to show them how much they mean to you. In my case I cook because I love it.  

When summer arrives and the gardens are ablaze in color, I want to move the romance outside. So why not share a summer night with your someone special? What better way than with a sizzling romantic dinner, candles, wine, and music. You don’t need much to set the mood and turn your patio, balcony, or kitchen into a lover’s nook. Make your night special with great food because is the doorway to infinite possibilities. 


A printed flat sheet is perfect for a festive tablecloth or set out placemats for the plates and serving dishes. Use plenty of candles in different sizes and a variety of holders scattered around the table to enhance the mood, but definitely avoid scented candles. Stemmed wine glasses sparkle in candlelight and add a festive feel to your dinner. Use your regular dishes or, for fun, mix it up with a number of different plates that don’t match but
complement each other for the different courses. Experiment and have fun.
  

Now that you have the perfect location and setting for you and that right person, may I suggest you spoil yourself with an intimate dinner meant for lovers. It is easy to prepare, and leftovers make marvelous sandwiches. This recipe also works great in the oven. 


Ask your butcher to dress the tenderloin. If he won’t, then you need to remove the excess fat and sliver out the silver strip along the side. Easy to do. Slide a sharp knife under the strip close to one end. Use a back and forward motion like sawing to ease your knife between the meat and the strip as you lift it away from the beef.

 

MENU

Marinated & Grilled Beef Tenderloin

Potatoes Baked on the Grill

Grilled Asparagus

Sautéed Mushrooms

Dry Red Wine – Valpolicella

 

Marinated & Grilled Beef Tenderloin
2 – 3 lb. (1 – 1.5kg) beef tenderloin
½ cup (120ml) olive oil
½ cup (120ml) dry red wine
3 rosemary sprigs or 1½ tsp. (7.5ml) dried
6 thyme sprigs or 1 tsp. (5ml) dried1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Oil to coat grill grate

 

Combine all ingredients in a long bowl or plastic bag and a shallow pan. Marinade in fridge 2 – 20 hours. Seems like a strange time span, but the longer the marinade the tastier the beef.

 

Remove meat from refrigerator 1 hour before grilling or roasting in oven. Meat needs to be almost room temperature.

 

Grill Instructions

Preheat grill to medium-high.

 

Pat tenderloin dry. Discard marinade. Add beef, close lid, and grill 15 – 20 minutes or until meat is done to your preference. Be sure to turn meat several times to avoid burning.

 

Oven Instructions

Preheat oven to 400° F (200°C).

 

Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Pat tenderloin dry. Discard marinade. Add beef to pan. Roast 30 – 40 minutes or until meat is done to your preference. Save the juice to moisten he meat when you serve.


Baked Potatoes on the Grill

1 russet potato per person

Olive oil

Aluminum foil

Butter

Sour cream

Chives

Freshly ground pepper to taste 

Preheat gas grill to medium-high. 

Wash potatoes under cool water. Pat dry. Poke several sets of holes in each potato with a fork. This stops the potato from bursting as it bakes. Rub potatoes with a small amount of olive oil to keep the skin soft. Wrap each potato in a section of aluminum foil. 

Place potatoes on upper shelf of grill. If you don’t have an upper shelf, then lay them at the outer edges of your grill. 

Grill 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning every 15 – 20 minutes. Test if done by inserting a toothpick into the potato. It should glide in easily. 

To serve, remove foil and then cut an X across the top of each potato. Using potholders squeeze the ends toward the center until the potato mounds. 

Serve with butter, sour cream, chives, and pepper.

Grilled Asparagus
6 – 8 asparagus per person
½ cup (120ml) olive oil
2 tbsp. (30ml) lemon juice
½ tbsp. (7.5ml) garlic powder, not salt
1 tsp. (5ml) dried basil
Freshly ground pepper to taste 

Trim, then discard, the tough bottoms off asparagus with a sharp knife. 

Combine oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, basil, and pepper in a glass or ceramic dish. Stir well. Add asparagus. Stir gently to coat the spears. 

Set gas grill to medium-high heat. Poke a few holes in a piece of aluminum foil then set it onto the grate. Lay spears on top. Turn frequently to avoid burning. 

Asparagus are done when they color to medium brown, about 5 – 7 minutes. 

Arrange spears on a dish and serve immediately.

Sautéed Mushrooms
1 tbsp. (15ml) olive oil
2 tbsp. (25g) butter
½ small onion, sliced thin
2 tbsp. (30ml) dry vermouth or white wine
Freshly ground pepper to taste 

Clean mushrooms with a dry paper towel to remove bedding soil. Slice them in half lengthwise if medium or into thirds if large.

 Over medium heat, drizzle a small amount of olive oil into a medium-sized frying pan and add butter. Stir in onions and mushrooms. Sauté until almost tender, 3 – 6 minutes. 

Pour vermouth or white wine over the mushrooms and continue to heat. 

To serve, grind pepper across the top and spoon into a warm serving dish. 

This dish is best cooked and served on the same day. Leftovers are soggy.

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


Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

To learn more about Taylor go to her website Stay in touch on BloggerTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Taylor's cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Date Night Dinners Italian Style, Sizzling Summer, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available at all book vendors.


Monday, May 16, 2022

COVER REVEAL for VONNIE HUGHES

 

Coming soon from The Wild Rose Press! Acclaimed author Vonnie Hughes has written another exciting Regency romance drama with just a bit of fluff and interesting facts sprinkled in. This is novel is destined to soar on the bestseller lists!



Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Breakfast Anyone?

from Helen Carpenter

Cheese sandwiches for breakfast anyone? Oh yes—and this simple-to-make chewy and crunchy cheese melt combo is the sandwich of choice. Chewy mozzarella, crunchy fresh green peppers and onions, spicy pepperoni, and Italian seasonings deliciously stacked on buttery English muffin rounds make breaking your night's fast a pleasure.

Melted Cheese Sandwich
6 English muffins, store-bought or hand-baked
1 tbsp. butter, softened
12 slices (1-oz each) mozzarella cheese
1 sweet onion
1 large green pepper
6 oz. sliced pepperoni
Garlic salt
Italian seasoning

Split each muffin and lightly butter the outer side. Place one-half of each muffin buttered side down in frying pan.

Top each muffin half with 1 slice of mozzarella, 1 sweet onion ring, 1 green pepper ring, and 1 ounce of pepperoni. Season to taste with garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Add another layer of mozzarella. Place remaining half of muffin on top, buttered-side up.

Fry sandwiches in covered skillet, turning once, until cheese melts and sandwich is heated through. Remove from heat and serve immediately.


Once upon a time there was a mother/daughter author dup named Helen and Lorri, who wrote as HL Carpenter. the Carpenters worked from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories was unreal but not untrue. Then one day Lorri left her studio to explore the land of What-If, and like others who have lost a loved one the magical place lost much of its magic. But thanks to family, plus an amazing group of wordsmiths named Authors Moving Forward (AMF), the magic is slowly returning.

Helen Carpenter loves liking and sharing blog posts from other authors. She lives in Florida with her husband of many years  and appreciates everyday, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook.

 

Monday, May 09, 2022

The 80-20 Rule for Writers

 from Sharon Ledwith

Apply the 80-20 rule to everything you do. Especially when it comes to your writing. What’s the 80-20 rule? It’s a simple formula. The basic idea is that 20 percent of the things you do will account for 80 percent of the value of your work. For optimum performance in any job, it’s essential that you work on the top 20 percent of the activities that account for most of your results. This rule is also known as the Pareto Principal or Power Law.

How does this law apply to Writers? Read on…

·        Time Sucks: You know what I’m talking about. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. TV. Email checking. Web surfing.  These activities can be gigantic time sucks. Get a timer or set an amount of time for yourself for these simple pleasures. If you do this, you'll free yourself up to dedicate time for your writing. Do it. Be ruthless.

·         Great Writing Sessions: Some writing sessions are more productive than others. Know when is the best time for you to write, and when is not. Are you a night owl or an early bird? Know yourself well with regards to this advice. You will generate roughly 80% of your writing in the best 20% of your writing sessions. When you have a great day of writing, take notice on the factors that make it productive, and try to repeat those factors in all of your writing sessions.

·         Not-so-great Writing Sessions: A small number of your writing sessions will be far more wasteful than the rest. What happened in these sessions? Distractions? Your special someone knocking on your office door? Pets demanding attention? Do the math and figure out the factors that prevented great writing sessions. What can you do to fix these sessions in the future?

·         Writing Quality: Pretty much 20% of your writing will be of a high quality. That's the good stuff you should publish. The other 80% will be crap. Buck up. It happens to the best of us. 

·         Know Your Audience: What’s selling for you? Your audience will vastly prefer some 20% of your writing. Know this. Embrace this, especially the enthusiastic reviews. Then create more stories like it. It should drive more success your way. 

·         Creating Ideas: You'll think up 80% of your best ideas in 20% of the time you dedicate to creative activities. Figure out what puts you in these highly creative states and try to recreate those conditions every time. Was it the music you were listening to? The tea or coffee you sipped? Perhaps it was incense you were burning. On the flipside, you'll trash 80% of your time spent generating new ideas. Maybe that time would be better spent on editing, reading or other activities. 

·         Productivity: Some days will be more productive than others. Period. Exploit those days by pushing yourself to write as many hours as you can. Make the most of it and you may complete more work in one day than in several average days. 

·         Book Sales: A cold, hard fact: 80% of book sales will come from 20% of authors. This explains why the publishing industry tosses huge amounts of money at a small number of authors while it ignores great work from everyone else. Life’s not fair for those in that 80% range. 

·         Success and Failure: Some 80% of your written work will likely fail to gain an audience. However, all it takes is one major success to turn that percentage around and claim your stake in the publishing world. Grow a thick skin and keep trying.

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with its freakish power. There’s no hope for a normal life, and no one who understands. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go. Until mysterious things start to happen.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:


The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, Book #3

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:


Lost and Found, Book One
Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀


 


Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE

 

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

A SPECIAL TREAT FOR MOM




Do something really nice today for the lady who does so much for you throughout the year. This brunch  will show her how much you care. A few fresh flowers on the table are a nice touch.
 

MENU
Quiche
Fresh Fruit Salad
Croissants
Raspberry Jam
Butter
Zucchini Bread for Dessert
Mimosas
 Quiche
1 frozen deep-dish pie shell
1 tsp. (5g) butter
6 bacon strips, cut into ¼ in. (.64cm) pieces*
¼ cup (30g) onions, chopped
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1¼ cups (230ml) heavy cream
3 pinches white pepper**
¾ cup (85g) swiss cheese, grated
2 tbsp. (25g) butter, cut in small bites

Preheat oven to 375° F (190°C). 

Place pie shell on cookie sheet. Use a fork to poke several sets of holes in the bottom and around the sides of the shell. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. 

Melt butter in a heavy skillet. Add bacon, and ham if you’re including it, and onion when foam subsides. Cook until meat is lightly browned. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon to paper towels. 

Beat or whisk eggs, yolks, cream, and seasonings in a large bowl. Stir in cheese. 

Scatter meat, into pie shell. Gently ladle in egg mixture. Sprinkle the top with butter bits. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted in the middle of the quiche comes out clean. 

The dish may be served hot, warm, or room temperature. It also makes a wonderful appetizer. Leftovers reheat in the microwave beautifully. 

*Diced ham, ¼ lb. (125g), is also good in this recipe in place of the bacon or along with. All other ingredients and process remains the same. 

**No need to buy white pepper if you don’t have it. Use black pepper only a little more as it is not as strong as white pepper. 

Fresh Fruit Salad
1 banana
1 pear
1 tbsp. (15ml) lemon juice
¼ pineapple
1 kiwi
10 seedless red grapes, halved
10 blueberries
10 raspberries, optional

 

Peel and slice banana into bitesize pieces. Scoop into a medium-sized bowl. Core and dice pear then add to bowl. Sprinkle lemon juice over fruit to stop it from turning brown and mix well.

 

Remove rind and core from pineapple then dice the fruit. Add ¼ to banana mixture. Store the extra pineapple in a glass bowl or plastic bag. Refrigerate for future use.

 

Peel kiwi and slice then stir into salad. Gently fold in remaining fruit.

 

Spoon into a glass bowl, cover with cling wrap, and chill until time to serve. Leftovers are still good the next day.

Zucchini Bread for Dessert

Make this bread a day or two in advance to free up your Mother’s Day morning.


2 cups (200g) grated zucchini
2 cups (200g) sugar
3 cups (300g) flour
1 cup nuts, chopped, optional
¼ tsp. (1.25ml) baking powder
2 tsp. (10ml) baking soda
1 tsp. (5ml) salt
1 tbsp. (15ml) cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup (250ml) vegetable oil
1 tbsp. (15ml) vanilla

Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). 

Grease 2 loaf pans with butter. Cut and fit a piece of parchment paper to the bottom of each pan. I do this because my pans are old and food sticks to the bottom. Nothing attractive about serving zucchini bread with a big hunk missing. 

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. This includes the zucchini. Adding fruit or veggies to a flour blend helps them to not sink to the bottom of the bread while baking. 

Beat wet ingredients together in a large bowl. 

Slowly stir dry mixture into wet mixture. Be sure to blend well. 

Pour batter into pans. Bake 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Cool on a rack before slicing. This bread freezes great. 

Mimosas
1 bottle sparking white wine or champagne, cold
1 carton orange juice, cold
Tall slender glasses

Fill glasses half full with wine. Tip the glass slightly as you pour to retain the fizz. Top off with orange juice. Don’t stir. That will destroy the bubbles. 

Enjoy your day and remember to tell your mom you love her.

Sloane