December 31, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Barbequed Shrimp

NOTE: I posted this recipe 2 years ago, but thought that it's a good dish to serve when you want to sit around and talk with family and friends.  Just keep plenty of napkins on hand.

I'm not sure why this is called Barbequed Shrimp.....you don't barbeque it and you don't put barbeque sauce on it. However, it is a really good, quick and delicious recipe. It is also quite messy, because you serve on the table in the sauce, and the shrimp then needs to be peeled.

Barbequed Shrimp

Ingredients:

2 Sticks Butter, melted
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
Dash of Oregano
Hot Sauce, to taste
1 tbsp Chili Sauce
Paprika
1 cup White Wine
1 Sliced Lemon
Salt and  Pepper
1 lb Shrimp, in shells, headless, medium size

Directions:
Mix all ingredients in large, oven-safe pan (9x13). Marinate shrimp for 1-2 hours in sauce, or overnight, though the butter will solidify again.

Bake 300° oven, basting often about 30 minutes. Serve with French bread for dipping into sauce, cole slaw and rice, if you want.


Anna Kathryn Lanier
http://www.aklanier.com/

December 30, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Black-Eyed Pea

New Year's Day is two days away and tradition has it that you're supposed to eat black-eyed peas for good luck.  We did that every year when I was growing up, peas out of a can. I hated them.  I think I stopped eating them for a few years.  Then I discovered this recipe in a local paper.  Yum Yum!  I did make the mistake of NOT fixing rice with it the first time I made them, really pissing off my mother. I've not made that mistake again.  Cornbread is also really good with them! 

I'm actually not making them this year, my mom is.  I was at my in-laws for Christmas and didn't make a ham, so I don't have a bone for the peas (the only way I've made it).  I also leave out the green pepper, but that's because I really dislike the taste of green pepper.

Note: The peas need to be soaked overnight.  And you won't be disappointed in this recipe.


Southern Black-Eyed Peas


Ingredients:

1 1-pound pkg dried black-eyed peas
2 quarts water
1 onion, chopped
¼ green pepper, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
Ham bone, piece of salt pork or several slices of bacon
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Wash the peas; soak overnight or at least 5-6 hours.

Pour off soaking water; put peas into a large sauce pan with at least 2 quarts water. Add remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook about 2 hours or until peas are tender and mash easily. Add water as needed while cooking.

Serve with fresh cooked rice and cornbread.

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.  ~Ellen Goodman

December 29, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Bacon Pinwheel

Bacon Pinwheels

Ingredients:


6 strips bacon, diced
6 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
1 can (4 oz) mushrooms, steams and pieces, drained
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tube (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls

Directions:

Heat oven 375⁰.

In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Using slotted spoon, remove to paper towel to drain. In a small bowl combine cream cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Add mushrooms, garlic powder and bacon.

Separate crescent dough into four rectangles, seal the perforations. Spread cream cheese mixture over each rectangle to within ¼-inch of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Pinch seams to seal. Cut each roll into six slices.

Place side down on greased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

December 28, 2010

Holiday Cheer - BBQ Sausage

Great for that New Year's buffet.

BBQ Sausage

Ingredients:

1 pkg little smoked sausage
1 bottle bbq sauce
1 (12 oz) jar chili sauce
1 (10 oz) jar grape jelly

Directions:

Mix sausage with bbq sauce, chili sauce and jelly in crockpot or sauce pan. If in crockpot, put on low and heat until hot. In sauce pan, heat over medium heat, simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.


"A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other." —Anonymous

December 27, 2010

Head out of Clouds, Feet into Glass Slippers

First of all, thanks for having me Anna. This is my first stop on a blog tour to mark the seven day countdown to the release of Rosemary Entwined. Please excuse me for a moment while I do the snoopy dance of joy and squeal like the tires of a 1969 Charger ripping around a bend.

Okay, I’m done.

So, back on topic. Fairytales. Gotta love them, with all the action and romance and happily ever after. All very modern ideas, but that’s a topic for another day. What I want to focus on is all that sweet, sticky, love stuff. And why I never wanted the prince.

When I was a little girl, I read everything I could get my hands on. My father was a reader too, but he was into Sci-fi and epic fantasy, which didn’t interest me until my late teens. Which boils down to a wonderful amount of literary freedom, maybe even too much. By the time I was eight all my Babysitter’s Club books were replaced by VC Andrews and Johanna Lindsey. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sat next to my Barbies. And I developed a whole new concept on what I considered romance and love.

To my mind, Robin Hood trumped superman, Prince Charming had nothing on Sherlock Holmes, and why be a Queen when you could be a headstrong maiden with no prospects and meet pirates and cowboys. I couldn’t understand the concept of soul mates when it came to being kissed awake by a virtual stranger or when that guy you danced with brought you back your shoe.

When I thought of love, I imagined someone who would make me feel alive, someone who would keep up with me during each new adventure, and expect me to keep up with him. But somehow that didn’t add up to me being a feminist. I like having doors open for me sometimes, and when the world goes wrong, I want a big, strong body to lean on damn it.

So in the end—since I’ve got to tie my book in somehow—even though Rosemary Entwined has some roots in Snow White, it’s in no way your typical fairy tale. And the biggest challenge was dealing with seven men vying for the position of prince when, as far as I’m concerned, they’re all too good for the label. As for Rosemary, I can tell you one thing without spoiling the story.

Actually, it’s right in the tagline.

One kiss might save her, but if Rosemary has to lose even one of her men, she doesn’t want a prince.

They say write what you know, so that’s what I did. With a few twists to make it interesting ;)



Bianca Sommerland was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. When not reading neurotically or writing as though the fate of the world rests on her keyboard, she is either watching hockey or teaching her daughters the beauty of a classic, steel pony while reminiscing about her days in Auto Body Mechanics.

Her time is balanced with utmost care between normal family life, and the internal paranormal realm where her characters reside. For the most part, she succeeds. She is currently working on a risqué new ménage novel called, EVIL’S EMBRACE. Her first book is coming out January 3rd 2011. You can visit her at
I'm No Angel Author's Blog


Rosemary Entwined

Holiday Cheer - Mulled Cider

Mulled Cider


Ingredients:

2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 tsp whole allspice
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 quart apple cider
½ cup rum or brandy, optional

Directions:

Add cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger to the apple cider. Heat until hot, but do not boil. Add ½ cup rum or brandy, if desired. Serve warm.

“For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.” ~ T.S. Eliot

December 26, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Herb Veggie Dip

Nope, the holidays are not finished yet. We still need to get through New Year's Day/weekend,  Here's a veggie dip to help ring in 2011.


Herb Veggie Dip Mix


Ingredients:

1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp thyme
1 ½ tsp dried tarragon
1 ½ tsp minced onion
¾ tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cups sour cream
2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and mix until well blended. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Serve with assorted fresh vegetables.

NOTE: To make a gift of this recipe, combine all the herbs together and store in a ziplock bag. Attach a gift tag onto the bag with instructions to add herb mix with 2 cups sour cream and 2 tsp lemon juice.

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

December 25, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Eggnod Bread

I just now found this recipe. If I'd seen it before, I would have posted earlier.  It sounds yummy. Good thing for me, my family will also be holding a Christmas celebration on New Year's Eve weekend. I think I'll make a loaf for that gathering!


Eggnog Bread


Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup dairy eggnog
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. rum extract
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350⁰. Grease bottom of a bread pan.
Beat eggs, add sugar, eggnog, butter, rum and vanilla. Blend well.

Mix together flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Add to egg mixture. Stir until just moistened. Pour into greased pan.

Bake at 350⁰ for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool bread completely before slicing.

December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - -a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved. - Augusta E. Rundel

December 23, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Boursin Cheese Ball

I'm really not familiar with Boursin, so I really don't know what that means..lol.  But this is a good appetizer dish to serve at a holiday buffet. 

Merry Christmas!!!

Boursin Cheese Ball

Ingredients:

1 (8-oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp green onion, chopped
1 tsp parsley, chopped
½ cup finely chopped pecans

Directions:

Mix all ingredients except parsley and pecans and shape into a ball. Mix parsley and pecans together and roll ball in mixture. Serve with garlic bagels.

And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, Which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savor, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." - Luke 2:10-12

Holiday Cheer - Layered Taco Dip

Wow! One more day to shop, wrap, and finish the final touches for Christmas.  And maybe you've forgotten you need to provide a dish for the family gathering.  Here's an easy appetizer to take along.


Layered Taco Dip

Ingredients:

1 can (16-oz) refried beans
1 pkg. dry taco seasoning
1 (6-oz) carton avocado dip
1 (8-oz) carton sour cream
1 (4 ½-oz) can chopped ripe olives
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 (16-oz) jar picante sauce

Directions:

Combine beans and dry seasoning mix. Spread bean mixture evenly in a 12X8X2-inch dish. Layer remaining ingredients in order listed. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving. Serve with chips.

Merry Christmas!


December 22, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Candy Crunch

Sweet and Salty...what a great combination!

Candy Crunch


Ingredients:

4 c pretzel sticks or pretzel twists
4 c (24-oz) white chocolate chips
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 c dried fruit (dried cranberries, raisins, etc.)

Directions:

Line a 15X10 jellyroll pan with tinfoil.

Place pretzels in a large bowl. In a large saucepan, melt chips with milk over low heat. Stir until smooth. Pour over pretzels, coating well.

Immediately spread mixture into pan. Sprinkle with dried fruit, press down lightly with back of spoon. Chill 1 to 2 hours. Break into chunks. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Heap on the wood! - the wind is chill; But let it whistle as it will, We'll keep our Christmas merry still. - Sir Walter Scott

December 21, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Cranberry Cheese Squares

A bar cookie...the best kind, cause they are so quick to make.

Cranberry Cheese Squares

Ingredients:

2 c all-purpose flour
1 ½ c quick cook oatmeal
¾ c plus 1 tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
2 sticks butter, softened
1 (8-oz pkg) cream cheese, softened
1 (14-oz can) sweetened condensed milk
¼ c lemon juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 (16-oz) can whole berry cranberry sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350⁰. In a large bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, ¾ cup brown sugar and butter. Mix until crumbly. Reserve 1 ½ cups crumb mixture.

Press remaining mixture into a greased 13X9-inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.

In medium bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in milk until smooth, add lemon juice. Spread evenly over baked crust. In another medium bowl, combine cranberry sauce, cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Spoon over cheese layer. Top with reserve crumb mixture.

Bake 40 minutes or until golden. Cool. Cute into squares. Store covered in refrigerator. 

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. - W. T. Ellis

December 20, 2010

The Season of Romance

Greetings everyone,

I'm Robin Badillo, and I'm new here, so please don't bite...(well, not too hard anyway)
In keeping with the Holiday spirit, and being humble enough to admit that no one in their right mind would want a recipe from me, my contribution today will have nothing to do with food, and everything to do with  filling you up... romantically speaking, of course. 
As a guest blogger, allow me to first say, I am so thrilled to be here sharing bits and pieces of the things that run through my muddled mind. 
I've swept away the cobwebs, polished the silver and I think everything is just right for a little trip into my thoughts... welcome to The Season of Romance...
Have you ever wondered why we love those Hallmark commercials more and more the closer we get to the holidays? How about those made for TV Christmas movies we can’t get enough of?
We already know what’s going to happen. The happy ending that warms your heart and brings a tear to your eye, proving everything we learned in Sunday school as a child was true, miracles can happen.
Recently, I participated in several online group chats with some of my favorite writing loops. Topics ranged from trivia about certain author’s books to questions in general about the endless experiences we have all had over the years during the holidays. I think everything from spiked eggnog to being snowed in at airports came up in the discussions. Some of it was funny, but some stories were quite touching.

All of that got me to thinking, and mind you, sometimes that can turn into a dangerous endeavor. I noticed that a lot of authors and publishers offer free Christmas stories or really pump up the promotion of books centered on the holidays, which of course is a natural thing to do. But the thing I found interesting was that these stories were no different than any other romance with the happily ever after endings we may already read every day.
 So, I wondered, what makes them so special just because we throw in some angels and mistletoe?
Well, the way I see it is this. 
We go about our lives every day, dragging our tired minds off to work, shoving the kids out the door to school, sit in traffic for hours on end just trying to survive the commute and return home to our average little lives every night only to catch a few hours of sleep and do it all over again the next day.
There’s nothing romantic about that. 
And for those of us who are single, widowed or apart from our significant others during the holiday season, the time can prove particularly difficult. Though reading doesn’t fill the void we may feel, it does offer something we could all use…hope.
It’s that time of year when the handsome handyman who comes to fix the overworked, single mother’s heating unit, ends up sweeping her off her feet and repairing the parts of her life she didn’t have time to see where broken. 
It takes on a different meaning. 
The miracle of love just feels better when it’s realized while sitting in front of a blazing fireplace or twinkling Christmas tree. When two unsuspecting people find more than presents under the tree…they find each other.
The story is the same, but somehow the sentiment is intensified when it occurs on Christmas or even New Year’s Eve. Perhaps it’s that one time a year when all the bad things in the world manage to fade into the background and people tend to be a little friendlier, a little more patient and yes, maybe a little more willing to take a chance on love.
I, for one, still hold onto those romantic notions that Santa may grant my every wish, or some angel will be sent to lead me to that special guy, or even some fairy has some magic dust to sprinkle over me while I sleep and I’ll awake to find Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome, wearing nothing but a smile, bringing me breakfast in bed.
Hey! That's my fantasy, don’t snicker.
For whatever reason, I still allow myself to believe that somehow, romance, love and yes, even miracles are just a little more possible during the holidays.
I plan to sink my teeth into a few holiday romances this season, whether it be the movie of the week, or a sentimental love story found only in the pages of a book. Who knows, if I wish hard enough, good old St. Nick just may have exactly what I’ve been looking for in his big red bag and I’ll finally have use for the mistletoe.
Happy Holidays everyone!! 
May your all your hearth and heart be warm and your stockings be filled with cherries and whipped cream… what you do with it is up to you!!
Robin Badillo

http://www.robinbadillo.com
http://robinbadillo.blogspot.com
http://www.facebook.com/robin.badillo

Wednesday's Chow - Eggnod

I Love eggnod, but haven't made it for years, because of the egg scare.  This looks like a great recipe and the eggs are cooked!


Eggnog


Ingredients:

 4 egg yolks
 1/2 cup sugar
 2 cups milk
 2 whole cloves
 Pinch of cinnamon
 1 cup cream
 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 Tbsp each of bourbon and rum or brandy, or to taste (can omit for kid-friendly eggnog)

Directions:
1 In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until they become lighter in color (can whisk by hand or use a mixer for this). Slowly beat in the sugar, whisking until fluffy.

2 Combine the milk, cinnamon, and cloves in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Slowly heat mixture on medium heat until it is steaming hot, but not boiling.

3 Temper the eggs by slowly adding half of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly while you add the hot mixture. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

4 Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it begins to thicken slightly, and coats the back of the spoon. It helps to have a candy thermometer, but not necessary; if you have one, cook until the mixture reaches 160°F. Do not allow the mixture to boil, or it will curdle. (If the mixture does curdle you may be able to save it by running it through a blender.) Remove from heat and stir in the cream. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove the cloves. Let cool for one hour.

5 Mix in vanilla extract, nutmeg, and bourbon/rum and brandy (feel free to omit for kid-friendly eggnog). Chill.

Makes 1 quart. Serves 4-6.

"Christmas! The very word brings joy to our hearts. No matter how we may dread the rush, the long Christmas lists for gifts and cards to be bought and given--when Christmas Day comes there is still the same warm feeling we had as children, the same warmth that enfolds our hearts and our homes." ~ Joan Winmill Brown, American author and editor.

December 18, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Reindeer Chow

First, we have a recipe for Santa's reindeer - food to help them fly all night and also to help them find your house. Then there's a recipe to make hyper those who are waiting for Santa.....

Reindeer Food


Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp red colored sugar
3 tbsp green colored sugar

Directions:

Mix together and place in a plastic bag. Sprinkle on the lawn on Christmas Eve. The smell of the oats and the glitter of the sugar will help the Santa’s reindeer find YOUR HOME!


Reindeer Chow

 Ingredients:
 1 stick butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
7 cups Rice Chex cereal
2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Melt the butter, chocolate chips, and peanut butter in a pan over medium; stirring to blend. Put cereal in a large bowl and add mixture. Mix well. Add powder sugar and stir until well coated. Keep in a sealed container.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
- Clement Moore, The Night Before Christmas

Texas Rangers Baked Eggs - RECIPE CORRECTION

I was making the Texas Rangers Baked Eggs tonight for a church breakfast and realized I'd left off one of the ingredients!  You need to add 1 pound of small-curd cottage cheese to the recipe.  I have corrected the recipe on my blog so you can just print it out again. I'm so sorry about this. It'll probably turn out okay without the cottage cheese, but then again, it might be a little soupy! 

I had bought the cottage cheese for the recipe and as I was mixing it, having printed out the recipe from my computer, I thought, "where's the cottage cheese?" So I looked up the recipe in the book I found it in and sure enough, there was supposed to be cottage cheese!

Anna Kathryn

Holiday Cheer - Quick Chocolate Drops

Quick Chocolate Drops


Ingredients:

3 c quick oats
1 c shredded coconut
6 tbsp cocoa
½ c butter
½ c milk
2 c sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Directions:

Mix oats, coconut and cocoa. Heat butter, milk, and sugar in medium saucepan until almost to a boil, but don’t boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over dry mixture and stir well. Drop by spoonfuls onto a buttered or waxed cookie sheet. Chill until firm.

The magi, as you know, were wise men - wonderfully wise men who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. - O. Henry

December 17, 2010

Lacey- Waiting for Santa

This is my 3-year-old granddaughter.  The Fire Department is making its annual trip around town, escorting Santa.  Lacey can hardly contain herself, waiting for him to come by.  After he passed by our house, she chased him half way down the block....

Holiday Cheer - Cookie Pizza

Hosting a kids' party this year?  This 'cookie' may be just the ticket. Fix the dough and the 'sauce,' then let the kiddos add the ingredients.

Cookie Pizza


Ingredients:

1 (18-oz) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
2 cups (12-oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 (14-0z) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups M&M’s
2 cups miniature marshmallows
½ cup nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven 375°. Divide cookie dough in half. Press into two ungreased 12-inch pizza pans. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips and condensed sweetened milk and mix well. Pour over crusts. Sprinkle with M&M’s, marshmallows and nuts.

Bake additional 4 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly toasted. Cool.

Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart... filled it, too, with a melody that would last forever. - Bess Streeter Aldrich

December 16, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients:

2 c sugar
½ c milk
1 ½ c peanut butter
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow cream

Directions:

In a saucepan, bring sugar and milk to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Add peanut butter and marshmallow cream; mix well and fast. Quickly pour into a buttered pan (size depending on how thick you want fudge to be). Chill until set.



No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. ~ Francis Pharcellus Church


New Reviews for A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE
 
"A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE...captures its readers' attention from the very first page." ~ Danielle; The Romance Reviews 4 Stars
 
"I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romance especially at Christmas time." ~ Lisa, Happily Ever After Reviews 3 1/2 Tea Cups

December 15, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Texas Ranger Baked Eggs

The holidays sometimes means a houseful of family and friends.  Which means, you gotta feed them.  Here's a great breakfast casserole...put it together the night before, pop it into the oven on Christmas morning while you open gifts and feed the crowd a delicious dish!

Texas Ranger Baked Eggs
From Mariposa Ranch Bed and Breakfast
Brenham, TX

Ingredients


7 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tsp sugar
4 oz cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 lb small-curd cottage cheese
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
¼ cup green bell pepper
2/3 cup butter, melted
½ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Dash paprika
Dash ground mustard

Directions

The night before: In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, and sugar together. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spray a three-quart baking dish with vegetable oil and pour mixture in. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven 350°. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Serves 12.


Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don't quite know how to put our love into words. - Harlan Miller

December 14, 2010

BOOKSIGNING - DECEMBER 18

Saturday, Dec 18

12 - 4pm


Linda Mooney
Anna Kathryn Lanier
Skhye Moncrief
Anne Marie Novark
Elizabeth Pina

5 multiple genre romance authors
at
Boomerang Books
Come Join us for Snacks and Fun!


Boomerang Books
907 W Main St
League City, TX 77573
281-316-1404

December 13, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Mexican Pinwheels

Here's yet another quick recipe for a holiday party.

Mexican Pinwheels:


Ingredients:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz sour cream
8 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1 small can chopped black olives
1 small can chopped green chilies
Garlic and seasoned salt to taste
1 pkg large flour tortillas
Picante sauce

Directions:

Combine all ingredients. Spread evenly on tortillas and roll up. Place in refrigerator, covered, overnight. When ready to serve, slice into 1-inch sections and served with picante sauce.



Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone. - Charles Schulz

Fort Smith Jail

Guest Blogger Kathy Otten

When my manuscript for Lost Hearts was in its earliest plotting stage I knew that my heroine, Johnny, would have to spend some time in jail. In my mind I pictured something similar to what I’d seen in TV westerns like Gunsmoke and Bonanza. I saw a wood frame building with bars on the windows, a back room with four or five fairly spacious jail cells, each with a nice cot to sleep on. Meals arrived on trays covered with pretty dish towels and except for an obvious lack of freedom it wasn’t such a terrible place.

But after doing my research, I realized that what my heroine, Johnny, would experience was something very different from my original conception.

Johnny was arrested in Indian Territory by my hero, U.S. Deputy Marshal Richard Bennick, and returned to the United States District court at Fort Smith, AK. The jail at that time was beneath the courthouse, a brick building which had once housed the soldiers of the old fort.

Prisoners were brought there to await trial, or serve out sentences of less than a year. Occasionally, a reluctant witness was housed in the jail until he was needed to testify. After their conviction, men waited for transfer to other facilities, or for the execution of their sentences.

The ceiling of the basement rose barely eight feet above the floor. A heavy stone wall divided the space into two sections, each measuring thirty by sixty feet. Two entrance doors in the foundation flanked either side of the courthouse steps, and opened into each basement area.

Inside each entrance was an eight by ten foot vestibule constructed of rough lumber, where prisoners could confer with their attorneys or visit with family.

Small basement windows provided light and ventilation. Guards placed urinal tubs in the unused fireplaces with the thought that the old basement chimneys would carry the odor out of the building. Kerosene barrels, cut in half were used for washing though the jail staff did not usually allow baths. To make the suffocating air more bearable, the flagstone floor was constantly wet down, making the air heavy with steam and dampness. And although whitewash and lime were used frequently, the stench from the crowded basement rooms was often present in the courtroom upstairs.

There was no separation of criminals by crime, so a young boy accused of horse theft would spend his time with convicted murderers awaiting their sentence on the gallows.

Very little attention was given to the comfort of the prisoners. They were left to manage for themselves, sleeping on the rough flagstone floor where the constant dampness caused their straw mattresses and blankets to become moldy. To exercise, prisoners divided themselves into squads and took turns marching back and forth across the room. They also held mock court, trying men for offenses like spitting on the floor, which if convicted were sentenced to sweep.

Prisoners were fed breakfast and dinner. The cooking was done in a couple of old buildings which once stood south east of the jail building. Hogs raised by the bailiff were fed the scraps in a barrel from the prisoners’ meals.

As the number of prisoners increased and were crowded into the basement, they became filthy from lack of any kind of sanitation.

In the 1870’s a member of the Grand Jury went down to inspect the jail. The stench nearly knock him down. When he returned to the courtroom, he brought with him a piece of bread and a piece of meat, each alive with vermin.

Appeals for improvement were made, but congress did not act. The sad state of affairs continued until 1887, when a new three story brick jail, adjoining the courthouse, was finally built.

These are the conditions Johnny encountered when she arrived at the jail in Fort Smith, and here is a brief excerpt from her time there.

Excerpt:

The guard grabbed her arm and shoved her forward, down the steps, and through the door. The smell of sweat and human excrement assaulted her senses. She slapped her hand over her nose and mouth and stepped forward into a small area partitioned off between the outside door and the inside of the jail. He handed her an itchy wool blanket and opened the inner door to the crowded basement cell.

The only light came through small, ground-level windows. She stood for a few moments as the crowd of men stared back, sizing her up. She wished she could turn and run, back outside, back the way they’d come, back down the wide street, searching every building and alley until she found Rab. With cold finality, the door of iron bars clanked shut behind her.

As much as she hated Warren and Machler, Johnny scurried forward, sticking to them like a
leech. At least their familiarity offered some measure of protection. Dewy and Red found a spot
near the fireplace, but she wouldn’t have chosen it, because most of the odor in the room seemed to come from the large tub inside the unused hearth. Breed and Stringer found some men they knew from somewhere and stopped to talk.

Tears clogged her throat and silent sobs swelled tight inside her chest. This tiny room was filled with thieves, murderers and rapists. She bit down on her lower lip.

Don’t cry. Don’t cry, she chanted to herself as she worked her way through the crowd behind
Machler. Eventually, they found a tiny area along the wall. She huddled there on the stone floor, her arms wrapped tight around her up-drawn knees. Even Warren and Machler were subdued, talking quietly between themselves.

How was she ever going to protect her secret in here? She could almost feel the hands of these men milling around, touching her body, holding her down, as they pulled off her clothes. She wiggled her back against the damp stone and pulled her blanket tight around her, wishing that somehow the wall would swallow her up. She shivered, but her baggy layers of clothing did nothing to warm her.

Afraid to reach for her locket, she closed her eyes and thought about a big white house surrounded by a strong iron fence, or maybe pretty, white pickets, like the one at the Elk House. She imagined the smell of pies cooling on a window sill, and a swing hanging from the limb of a large oak tree. In her mind, she heard the laughter of a man and woman and saw a table overflowing with food.

“Hey, there, boy.”

Johnny’s eyes flew open. A man with dirty clothes and graying whiskers stood looking down at
her with one ice blue eye. His other eye, his left, was stuck in the outside corner of his eye socket so that he appeared to be looking in two places at the same time.

“Got a name?” the grizzly man continued.

She swallowed down her fear and lifted her chin. “Johnny Bodine.” At the mention of the name
Bodine, the prisoner’s black eyebrows rose.

Then to make him think twice, she added. “An’ I’m kin to Calvin Everett, so’s ya best jest stay away from me or Uncle Cal’ll gut ya in less time than it takes ta skin a badger.”

The man chuckled. “But yore paw an’ yer uncle ain’t here.”

“They ain’t, but the men what ride fer them are.” She slipped her hand inside her boot and pulled out her small skinning knife. “Now stay away from me, or I’ll gut ya my own self.”

The man chuckled. “Damn it, kid, where’d ya get that little toad sticker? Didn’t anyone search ya?”

Machler laughed. “Johnny’s our little pickpocket. Whatever ya want, Johnny’ll get it fer ya.”

The big man’s smile vanished. “What I want is that knife a yourn. So why don’t ya pass it over?”

The thought crossed her mind to just give him the knife, maybe then he’d leave her alone. But if
she did would he use it on her later? And how would the other men treat her if she backed down and they perceived her as weak?

“Didn’t yer paw teach ya nothin’?” Warren whispered as he inched away. “Never show yer
hand.”

The big man reached for the front of her duster, as though he were about to jerk her to her feet. Instead, she jumped up and ducked under his arm, bolting toward the other side of the room. She heard him swear as she jumped over the legs of men sitting on the floor and darted around those who stood in clusters, talking. Behind her, she heard heavy boots thump against the stone floor along with the grunts and curses of the men the big man must have shoved aside in quest to reach her.

Buy Lost Hearts from The Wild Rose Press now.

Visit Kathy at http://www.kathyottenauthor.com/.

Holiday Cheer - Eat DRINK and Be Merry

What's a party without punch? Here's two recipes to fulfill the DRINK part of Eat, Drink and Be Merry.  I made the cranberry punch last year, and it is really good!  Who would think you can make punch out of canned cranberry sauce?

Hot Apple Cider

Ingredients:

6 cups apple cider
¼ cup real maple syrup
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
1 orange peel, cut into strips
1 lemon peel, cut into strips

Directions:

Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in a washed square of cheesecloth and fold up the sides to enclose the spices. Tie with a length of string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture. Heat over moderate heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until hot, but not boiling. Remove the cider from the heat and discard the spice bundle. Ladle cider into mugs and add a cinnamon stick to each if desired.


Sparkling Cranberry Punch

Ingredients:

 1 1-lb can jellied cranberry sauce
2 ¼ cup hot water
½ cup sugar
½ cup lemon juice
1 tsp lemon extract
1 ½ cup ginger ale
Fresh mint
Clove studded lemon circles
Fresh cranberries

Directions:

Heat cranberry sauce and water until sauce is melted. Add sugar and allow to cool. Stir in lemon juice, extract and one cup ginger ale. When ready to serve, add remaining ginger ale. Garnish with mint, clove studded lemon circles and fresh cranberries.

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. - Agnes M. Pharo

December 12, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Naughty and Nice Candy

This is an easy to fix goodie for home or office party!  Oh, yeah, it's also VERY GOOD!

Naughty and Nice Candy


Ingredients:

1 11-oz pkg butterscotch morsels, divided
1 11-oz pkg semisweet chocolate morsels
½ cup creamy peanut butter
2 c dry-roasted peanuts
1 10-oz pkg chocolate-covered raisins
2 c thin pretzel sticks

Directions:

Butter a 9x13-inch glass pan.

Microwave 1 1/3 cup butterscotch morels, pkg of chocolate morsels and peanut butter in large, microwave-safe bowl on high for 1 minute, stir. Microwave in 10-20 second intervals, stirring between each interval until smooth.

Add peanuts, chocolate-covered raisins and pretzels. Stir well to coat all. Spread into prepared baking dish.

Place remaining butterscotch morsels in small, heavy duty plastic bag. Microwave at 70% (medium-high) for 30 seconds. Knead bag to mix. Microwave in 10- to 20-second intervals, kneading between each until smooth. Cut a very tiny corner from the bag and squeeze to drizzle over candy. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Break into bite-size pieces.


Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas. 
~ Dale Evans Rogers

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Cowboys Hang Their Hats
http://www.aklanier.com/

December 11, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Sugar and Spice Pecans

A great little snack for those family gatherings and holiday parties or just for sitting on the coffee table.


Sugar and Spice Pecans

Ingredients

1 egg white
1 cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp water
1 lb pecan halves

Directions

Beat egg white until frothy, but not stiff. Stir in sugar, salt, cinnamon and water. Add pecans and stir until all pecans are coated. Spread pecans on large cookie sheet. Bake at 200° for 45 minutes, stirring pecans every 15 minutes until dry and toasty. Be careful not to overcook and burn. Let cool and seal in airtight container.



Still available A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE COOKBOOK.  Twenty-seven mouth-watering recipes.  Get your FREE download now!

Anna Kathryn Lanier
Where Cowboys Hang Their Hats
http://www.aklanier.com/

December 10, 2010

Night Owl Reviews - 3 1/2 Stars for A Gift Beyond All Measure

Night Owl Reviews has given A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE  3 1/2 stars and a grade-A review.

"A seasonal read, A Gift Beyond All Measure delivers on it's title. If you are looking for a heart warming story and don't mind a hero that needs to be taught a thing or two about tenderness, then I think you will like this story. Tessa is a character that steps right out of the page and into your heart. She's a tough cookie that you want to find love and happiness." ~ Talina



Buy  A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE now.

Holiday Cheer - Candy Bar Squares

Okay, as IF a candy bar isn't sweet enough, let's add some sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar to it!  I just made these...they have to cool, before I can try one, but when I do, I'll let ya'll know what they're like.....I imagine very sweet!  The hardest part was chopping up 4 cups of Milky Way bars.  It was just time consuming.  I do wonder if I should have used my food processor. I was just afraid it would 'chop' the bars too small.

Anyway, here's the recipe and picture of the finished product. Enjoy!


Candy Bar Squares


Ingredients:

¾ cup butter, softened
¼ cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups quick oats
1 ½ cup flour
1 egg
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 cups candy bars, chopped
(like Snickers or Milky Way)

Directions:

Preheat oven 350°. In a large bowl, combine butter and peanut butter. Add brown sugar and baking soda; beat well. Stir in oats and flour. Remove and reserve 1 ¾ cups crumb mixture.

Stir egg into remaining crumb mixture; press firmly on bottom of ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 pan (I used a 13x9). Bake for 15 minutes.

Combine reserved crumb mixture and chopped candy bars together.

Spread sweetened condensed milk over baked crust. Sprinkle crumb and candy bar mixture over top. Bake 25 minutes or until golden. Cool. Cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature.


FREE cookbook available
FMI: http://www.aklanier.com/  

December 8, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Seven Layer Cookies

The first time I had these cookies was at a goodie exchange at my church. I have to admit, it took me a couple of years to finally ask for the recipe and am I sure glad I did.  These are a holiday staple in my house.  They are VERY rich, but well worth the extra ten pounds you gain just by looking at them.  Enjoy!



Seven Layer Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup margarine
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup flaked coconut
6 ounces butterscotch chips
6 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Directions

Melt margarine and put in 13x9 pan. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over margarine. Spread flaked coconut over crumbs. Pour butterscotch bits over coconut. Pour chocolate chips over butterscotch bits. Sprinkle chopped nuts over all. Slowly pour sweetened condensed milk over all. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can Jacob and Tessa overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure?



I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
~Charles Dickens

Holiday Cheer - Release Day and Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Release Day!!!

A GIFT BEYOND MEASURE is hitting the ‘shelves’ today at The Wild Rose Press! Whoo Hoo!


Blurb:

Arriving home for Christmas, the last thing Jacob Scott expects in his house is a sexy, shotgun-toting stranger. Worse, his attraction to her bothers him even more than the gun. Still reeling from the deception of his long-time girlfriend, he’s not looking for romance.

Tessa Jones has learned one hard lesson—when everyone in your life has failed you the only one you can trust is yourself. Facing the whispers of the townsfolk and an arson charge, Tessa unexpectedly finds herself trusting Jacob with more than her legal troubles.

Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can these two lost souls overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure?

Unedited Excerpt:

In all of her Christmases, Tessa couldn't remember a time when she'd baked cookies. If she left cookies for Santa, they'd have been store bought. Her mother was always too busy to bother with something as time consuming as cookie baking. And the group home didn't allow such activities. Someone probably would have burned the place down.

She was happy to let Jacob take control of the cookie making; it was his tradition after all. She satisfied herself with standing on the sidelines, handing him ingredients as he needed.

“Now, comes the important part,” he said. “Putting them on cookie sheets. They have to be just the right sized balls, or they don't cook correctly.”
She grinned. “Really? Do they taste bad?”

He nodded. “Yes, that's why you have to eat them before anyone else does. You don't want anyone to eat yucky cookies.”

Laughing, they each filled a cookie sheet with dough. Tessa noticed that more than one of his cookies were not the same size as the others. He caught her looking and winked.

She turned back to her task and sighed. It almost felt normal to be doing this with him. For a brief moment, she had a flash of them doing it together in future years, perhaps with children of their own. Ah, Christmas wishes, the stuff dreams were made of.

Best to remember reality.

“You never answered my question,” he was saying.

“What question?”

He finished his own sheet of dough and put both in the oven. “How did you end up in Spencerville? Most people leave Spencerville for a big city. They don't leave the big city for it.” He set the timer and faced her.

With her back to the island, she leaned against it, her hands gripping the cool marble surface. “It wasn't meant as my final destination. I was heading to Washington with a classmate from my cooking school. He wanted to take the scenic route through Montana and Idaho. His car broke down just outside Spencerville. After we got it towed and looked at, we knew we didn't have the money to fix it. So, we got rooms in the boarding house and found jobs. I got hired on at Baxter's Diner. He got a job with the feed store.”

Jacob raised a brow, but didn't ask any questions.

“We planned to stay until we got the money to fix the car, which we did in about two months. We were all set to leave town when I woke up one morning to find the car, our money and Bobby gone.” She brushed flour off her sleeve. “So was the daughter of the feed store owner.”

Trust me, he’d said. Ha!
“Bobby did leave me a note. Something about destiny and how he needed to follow it. He always was a little dramatic. Personally, I think it was just lust between him and Priscilla.”

Jacob leaned against the counter near the sink and crossed his arms over his chest. “When was this?”

His hazel eyes held interest. In her? Unexpected warmth surged through her. She cleared her throat.

“Two years ago. Old Man Baxter took me back, since I’d quit my job in anticipation of leaving. I worked there until....well, last month.”

“Did you love him?”

“Old Man Baxter? Hell, no.” She cleared her throat, picked up the bowl and moved to the sink.. She knew who he meant.

His lips twitched as he moved out of the way. “No, did you love Bobby?”

“I don't think so.” She put the bowl in the sink and rinsed it out.. “Mostly, I trusted him. I trusted he'd fulfill his promise and get me to Washington, to the new life we discussed.”

“A new life together?”

His interest was getting too personal for her comfort. She glanced at the timer. Maybe he’d end the interrogation when the cookies were done.

“Not the way you’re thinking. He had family there, but we talked about getting a place together. He thought we were already living together and that living together meant ….” She stopped. Good Lord, what was she doing? Jacob didn't need to know that about her.

He cocked his head. “Meant what?”

Having sex. She clamped her mouth shut and shook her head. Thankfully, the timer went off and she didn't have to answer. Hopefully, he'd drop the subject. Mercifully, he did.

True to his word, Jacob ate the cookies he'd made that weren't the right size. A bit of the lightheartedness returned when he did.

It was nearly ten when they finished washing the dirty dishes. She hid a yawn behind her hand.
“That was fun. Thank you, Jacob.”

He stood a few feet from her, hands flat atop the counter. “No, Tessa, thank you. It helps to remember the traditions of the holiday.”

A dizzying current raced through her, ending with a tingling in her stomach. She swallowed the desire rising in her breast. The desire to fling herself into his arms and beg him for a kiss like the day before.

“Well,” she breathed. “I'm off to bed. I still have to get up at four-thirty.”

Instead of moving toward the door, though, she stood where she was. Something in his eyes shifted. Her stomach did a flip. He stepped toward her, ran a finger down her cheek, smoothed his thumb over her lips.
“Merry Christmas, Tessa.”

His lips brushed hers in a soft touch. She sighed and he pulled her closer, kissed her harder. He cupped her head as his tongue parried deep into her mouth. She suckled it, tasting decant chocolate chip cookies.
She clung to him, to the promise he held in his eyes, to the promise his mouth gave and for this moment she wanted to believe them.

Shaky fingers slipped the buttons of his shirt free, then smoothed over the hard planes of his chest. A deep groan escaped him when she brushed his nipple. She paused, then teased the nipple again, eliciting another groan. Joy erupted in her heart. She did that to him, little Tessa who nobody wanted.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 stick butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp water
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup chopped pecans

Directions:

Preheat oven 350°. Mix together butter, sugars, egg, water and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Add oats, chocolate chips and pecans. Mix. Drop by the spoonful onto baking sheet and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light brown.

Find this recipe and 26 more in A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE COOKBOOK. Download it now, for FREE off my website.

December 7, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Grandma Scott’s Pumpkin Bread

Frist: please join me at Write by Bethany - where I am a guest today. Bethany has done an interview on me and you know, I learned a few things about myself in answering the questions! http://writebybethany.blogspot.com/



A friend gave me this recipe more than 2 decades ago, but I didn't try it out for several years. Now it's a staple in my house at Christmas time.  The nice thing about this recipe is that it'll make you 2-3 regular loaves, but 6 one-pound loaves...great for teachers, neighbors and co-workers, one batch makes a lot of gifts!

I call it Grandmas Scott's Pumpkin Bread, instead of Jill's -- the friend who gave me the recipe -- because I use the bread as a prop in my short story The Priceless Gift.

The last thing Christina Scott expects Santa to bring her is a sexy—and very familiar—cowboy. Gavin Holloway’s just as shocked to discover she’s the woman he’s sent to pick up from the airport for a Christmas visit with her brother. They'd spent one hot week together months ago—a week where they both left their identities and individual problems behind. Neither ever expected a reunion.


Little do they know, Santa's elf has more than coal up his sleeve. Ho ho ho and a badgering we'll go before reindeer two-step on their rooftop and deliver THE PRICELESS GIFT that will leave their snowy days sizzling

The Priceless Gift is a prequel to A Gift Beyond All Measure - which is set to be released tomorrow at The Wild Rose Press.


Grandma Scott’s Pumpkin Bread


Ingredients

3 C sugar 1 C oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 C cooked pumpkin (16-oz can)
3 ½ C flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
¾ C water
1-1 ½ C chopped nuts

Directions

1) Combine sugar, oil and eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin.
2) In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir into pumpkin mixture.
3) Add water and nuts.
4) Spoon batter into well greased and floured pans (2-3, depending on size*).
5) Bake at 350º for 60-70 minutes.

*If making 1 pound loaves, you can make 6 loaves with one batch.

Get it NOW - A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE COOKBOOK is now available on my website.

Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.
~ Mary Ellen Chase

December 6, 2010

Holday Cheer - Little Christmas & Speculaas

December 6th - The Feast of St. Nicholas*
*Also know as Little Christmas

I first learned of Little Christmas in 1978, when I was an exchange student in Finland. My host family celebrated it with a party and the exchange of small gifts. December 6th is the Feast Day of the Roman Catholic Saint Nicholas, a fourth century bishop of the city of Myra in what is now Turkey. He is one of those the legend of Santa Claus is based on.

According to the website Women For Faith and Family “Saint Nicholas was renowned for his great kindness and his generous aid to those in distress. Among the kind and miraculous acts attributed to him are saving three young girls from prostitution by secretly providing them with dowries, raising three murdered boys from the dead, and saving sailors caught in stormy seas. For these reasons, he is considered the patron saint of children, unmarried girls, and sailors, among others.”

But it is wrong to assume that he is the legend of Santa Claus. He is one of many, including the pre-Christian Scandinavian legend of Odin, who rode throughout the world in winter on his eight-footed horse, Sleipnir, giving out gifts or punishments. Other legends include Knecht Ruprecht from Germany, Sinterklass from The Netherlands and Father Christmas from England.

The custom of hanging stockings also derives from these legends. From Bishop Nicholas comes the story that when he threw the three bags of gold to save the three sisters from slavery, they landed in their stockings, hung out to dry. Later, Dutch children would put out their wooden shoes for Sinterklass to leave them goodies – apples, candies, cookies and sometimes money to represent the dowries of the three young girls. Of course, those who were bad received coal or switches instead.

In my novella, A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE, Santa Claus pays a visit to Tessa and Jacob.

“Did you open your stocking?”

“My stocking?” She closed the dishwasher and turned it on.

“Yeah, that red thing hanging on the mantle. Did you open yours?”

She cocked her head and smiled. What had he done? “No.”

He hustled her out of the kitchen to the living room. Two red velvet stockings with white trim hung from the mantle, both obviously stuffed with gifts. He removed one and handed it to her, then retrieved his own.

She squeezed the stocking, the soft velvet rubbing her hands as a hard object pressed back. It had been years since she’d had a stocking, not since leaving the home. Childish excitement bubbled inside her, along with gratitude at Jacob’s thoughtfulness.

He waved a hand to the couch and she sat on one side while he sat on the other. She watched as he removed a candy bar, then a small, thin wrapped gift. He shook it.

“No rattle. I wonder what it can be.” He ripped off the paper to reveal a little black date book. “Santa gets me one of these every year. Hey, you’re not opening your stocking.”

The heat of a blush crept up her face. “I’ve had a stocking before. The group home always gave us one.” She delved into the red velvet, anxious to see what Santa had left her.

He opened his candy bar and took a large bite. “I never said you hadn’t,” he spoke around the chocolate.
Bright green paper fell away from a bottle of perfume, the sort you got from the drug store. She loved it.

The next few minutes revealed a pair of gloves, aftershave and a movie DVD for Jacob. She received bath salts, a word search book and her own candy bar. Both stockings had an orange and nuts in the bottom.
Sighing happily, Tessa fell back against the couch. “That was a pleasant surprise.”

“Well, I’d love to take the credit, but Christina did it. She gave me the gifts last night.”

Ah, so that was the bag he’d carried home.

“But you played Santa.”

“I suppose I did.” His hazel gaze bore into her. “And you played Mrs. Claus.”

Her forehead wrinkled in confusion. “How do you figure?”

“Last night you helped me make cookies. And you’ve fixed that strudel for Pee Wee and Taylor. Isn’t that what Mrs. Claus does, bake cookies?”

Tessa grinned. “I suppose it is.”

She couldn’t remember a time when she’d felt so…joyful, if she’d ever felt joyful. She laughed.

Blurb – A Gift Beyond All Measure

Arriving home for Christmas, the last thing Jacob Scott expects in his house is a sexy, shotgun-toting stranger. Worse, his attraction to her bothers him even more than the gun. Still reeling from the deception of his long-time girlfriend, he’s not looking for romance.

Tessa Jones has learned one hard lesson—when everyone in your life has failed you the only one you can trust is yourself. Facing the whispers of the townsfolk and an arson charge, Tessa unexpectedly finds herself trusting Jacob with more than her legal troubles.

Struggling between the promise of the present and the hurts of the past, can these two lost souls overcome their pain long enough to discover a gift beyond all measure?

"This is a must read for anyone who needs a good dose of Christmas romance. You won’t be disappointed."
 A Five Star Review by Ginger Simpson

Available from The Wild Rose Press December 8, 2010.

December 8-31st only – FREE COOKBOOK! Download a free pdf companion cookbook for A GIFT BEYOND ALL MEASURE. Just visit my website for the link. The cookbook contains 27 mouth-watering recipes.

Leave a comment for a chance to win an electronic copy of both The Priceless Gift and A Gift Beyond All Measure.

Learn more about Anna Kathryn and her stories at http://www.aklanier.com/ and http://www.annakathrynlanier.blogspot.com/.

This cookie is traditional baked in The Netherlands and Belgium for Little Christmas.


Speculaas

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour/meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
Finely grated rind of 1 large lemon (outer yellow skin of lemon)
1 cup sliced or shaved almonds

Directions:

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and lemon zest until well combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Flatten the dough into a round, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and form into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls. Place the balls of dough on the prepared cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Then, using the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, flatten each ball of dough to about 1/4 inch thick (can also use a cookie stamp). Sprinkle each cookie with the shaved almonds. Bake for about 10 - 12 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

From: http://www.joyofbaking.com/

Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus!... There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.
~ Francis P Church, New York Sun, Sep. 21, 1897
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus"

December 5, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Soup in a Jar

Need a gift for your neighbor or child's teacher?  Here's a nice double-duty recipe - Soup in a Jar.  If you want to make a fancier gift than just a jar full of beans, put the jar in a basket with a couple of soup mugs/bows, wooden stirring spoon, napkins, bottle of wine, and the can of diced tomatoes. You could even toss in a soup ladle, if you wanted to. Be sure to type up the recipe card and include it.

I made this soup on Friday night and it's really good. I'll probably be giving away a couple of jars to friends and family this year.

Country Six-Bean Soup Mix


Ingredients for jar:

½ cup dried red beans
½ cup dried navy beans
½ cup dried pinto beans
½ cup dried baby lima beans
½ cup dried kidney beans
½ cup dried Great Northern beans
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp beef bouillon granules
1 tsp dried minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
½ tsp dried oregano leaves
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Directions for putting jar together:

Layer beans in a 1-quart food storage jar with tight-fitting lid. Slide bay leaves down the side of the jar. Place spices in a small baggie. Close tightly with a twist tie. Place bag on top of beans in jar and close jar tightly.

Cover the top of the jar with a decorative piece of fabric and attach recipe card with ribbon.

Recipe Card to include with jar:

1 jar Country-Six Bean Soup Mix
4 or 5 cups water
1 can (28-oz) diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
8 oz smoked sausage links or 2 smoked ham hocks
Hot pepper sauce or red wine vinegar (optional)

1) Remove seasoning packet and bay leaves, set aside.
2) Place beans in large bowl or pot; cover with water and let soak 6-8 hours or over night. Drain beans, discard water.
3) Combine soaked beans, 4-5 cups water, tomatoes, sausage, contents of seasoning packet and bay leaves in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 ½ to 2 hours, until beans are tender. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce if desired.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Note: In the picture, I included the bay leaf for contrast, but bay leaves should be discarded and never eaten, as the spine can do bad things to you.





“I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.” ~ Taylor Cadwell

December 4, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Ramen Noodle Cole Slaw

I'm attending my local RWA chapter's Holiday party today and this is what I'm bringing for the pot luck. I don't make it often, because it makes a lot! So, it is a perfect recipe for a holiday party.

Ramen Noodles Cole Slaw

Salad Ingredients:
1 16oz package prepared cole slaw mix
1 cup roasted almond slivers (just barely toast them in oven for 2 mins - careful, they will burn)
1 cup shelled sunflower seeds
2 bunches chopped green onions
2 packages crushed Ramen Noodles (throw out the seasoning packages)

Mix all of the above together in large bowl

Dressing:

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Bring to a boil in a medium saucepan for 10 minutes. Set aside until cooled. Pour over cole slaw.

The longer this sets, before serving, the better. So it can be made the night before.


There's more, much more, to Christmas
Than candlelight and cheer;
It's the spirit of sweet friendship
That brightens all year.
It's thoughtfulness and kindness,
It's hope reborn again,
For peace, for understanding,
And for goodwill to men!
~ John Greenleaf

December 3, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Candy Cane Crunch

Candy Cane Crunch


Ingredients:

1 pound vanilla or chocolate flavor bark coating
¾ cup crushed candy canes

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Heat bark coating in heavy medium saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until candy is melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Stir in ½ cup of the crushed candy canes. Pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheet to about 3/8-inch thickness. Sprinkle with remaining candies.

Chill 30 minutes until firm or let stand several hours at room temperature. Use foil to lift candy from the baking sheet. Carefully break candy into pieces.

Store tightly for up to 2 weeks.

NOTE: Watch the melting of the candy carefully. Don’t let it scorch….you’ll have to throw out the batch.


Christmas gift suggestions:



To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.
~Oren Arnold

December 2, 2010

Holiday Cheer - Angel Kisses

Angel Kisses
Treasured Traditions: Recipes from Southern Louisiana

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
1 cup dates, chopped
2 cups crisp rice cereal
1 cup pecans
1 cup coconut

Directions:

Beat eggs and add to sugar and butter in a heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil.

Add dates, cook five minutes. Remove from heat.

Add cereal and pecans. Butter hands to grease and roll into bite-size pieces. Roll pieces in coconut to coat.

Free cookbook - December 8-31, 2010 http://www.aklanier.com/

May love and light fill your home and heart at Hanukkah. ~Author Unknown

December 1, 2010

Yule Tide Blog

Yule Tide Blog - Join a multitude of romance authors as they blog through the month spreading tidings of love and happily-ever-afters at Roses of Houston Blog. Each author will play Santa with a daily prize. Join the fun December 1st through December 24th.


Some of the authors blogging along:

Anne Marie Novark
Ginger Simpson
Sharon Donovan
M. Kate Quinn
Cindy K. Green
Emma Lai
Chris Redding
Paty Jager
Celia Yeary
Anna Kathryn Lanier
Ciara Gold
Calroline Clemmons
Pyllis Campbell
Maryann Miller
Elaine Hopper
Meagan Hatfield
Ashley Ladd
Silver James
Sky Purington

Skhye Moncrief

Holiday Cheer - Fudge

The holidays just aren't the same without fudge.  From when I was a child, I can remember my daddy standing at the stove, for what seemed like forever, stirring the butter and sugar mix.  Fudge has been a holiday staple in my family for years. I made my first batch of 2011 the other day.  Here's my family's time-teasted recipe:

Fudge

Ingredients:

1 ½ stick butter
3 cups sugar
1 5-oz can evaporated milk
1 7-oz car marshmallow crème
1 12-oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Butter a 13x9 inch pan, set aside. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter, then add sugar and evaporated milk. Bring to a boil and boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234°F. Remove from heat and add marshmallow crème, stir until melted. Add chocolate chips, stir until melted. Add chopped nuts and vanilla, stirring well.

Pour into prepared pan and cool.


The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others' burdens, easing other's loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas. ~W. C. Jones