Hungry Hearts Holiday Cookie Hop

Happy Holidays!

It’s that’s time again, to hop along with some of the hottest, food lovin’ romance authors around. ‘Tis the season for joy and hope and giving, no matter which holiday you celebrate. For me, it’s Christmas. I love baking all times of the year, but at this time of year, it’s extra special. I love baking for friends and family, for anyone who enjoys receiving and indulging on delicious treats.

As the title says, we’re having a cookie hop. Each blog will feature a favorite holiday cookie and each blog will have a rafflecopter form for you to fill out to be entered to win a variety of prizes: Harry and David Truffles, books, gift cards, and Hungry Hearts Holiday Author swag.

In addition to the Hungry Heart Holiday Hop prizes, the incredible Amanda Usen will be featuring Hungry Hearts authors n her site and giving their books away to lucky winners. Visit Writer.Chef.Romantic to get in on the fun.

The dates and authors are:
Ava Miles: Tuesday, December 3
Christi Barth: Wednesday, December 4
Kimberly Kincaid: Thursday, December 5
Lissa Matthews: Friday, December 6

This has been such a fun hop to be part of and I was so excited to be asked if I wanted to participate. I love food, love being in the kitchen, love baking and cooking. I find everything about it delicious and fun and to be able to incorporate that love into writing romance… It’s such a blessing.

Now, cookies are not my strong suit, but these cookies, these big, soft molasses cookies? They. Are. Awesome. And I didn’t screw them up! I’ve so far made two batches and both are gone. I won’t deny that I had a few, but with two teenagers in the house… ‘Nuff said.

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup molasses

4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup coarse sugar, decorating sugar, or granulated sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in pecans. Shape into 2-in. balls and roll in coarse sugar. Place 2-1/2-in. apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake 13-15 minutes or until tops are cracked. Cool on pan for 2 minutes before placing on wire racks to finish cooling. Yield: 2 dozen.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Now, don’t forget to visit the Hungry Hearts Holiday Hop’s Facebook Event page and don’t forget to fill out the Rafflecopter form below to be entered to win…

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Jackson Dawson had known only one way of life: ranching. That is, until he went to college in the city. There, he was introduced to a whole new world of people, food, and way of life. He never dared to imagine that he could do or be anything other than a rancher’s son, but with his mother’s words ringing in his ears and his sister’s encouragement, he took a chance. And in the process, found himself and met the woman of his dreams.

Pastry Chef Cass Jamieson’s only desire had been to own a bakery. After a stint in pastry school, she quickly learned that trying to make your dreams come true wasn’t easy. She was dejected when her bakery closed and soon returned to the classroom as a teacher to eager young bakers with the same stars in their eyes that had once been in hers.

So, when the stubborn, determined, and hot as summer in Texas cowboy walked into Cass’s pastry kitchen, it turned her life and libido upside down. When he seeks her out for heated kisses and her thoughts on his cake bakery idea, she gives in to the lust, but gives cautious business advice born of experience, only Jackson didn’t see it that way.

Who will bend first in this battle of wills involving sugar and spice and everything naughty and nice? Come take a ride with The Cupcake Cowboy and find out…

Warning: Uses of frosting that frosting was never intended for. A dirt road showdown. A lesson in milking cows. A whole truck full of mouthwatering cupcakes (some with liquor). A little family drama. And dreams on their way to coming true…

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | All Romance eBooks

Hungry Hearts Holiday Hop – Thanksgiving

InTheKitchen…Well, you’re in the kitchen with me, Lissa Matthews, and a whole host of other fabulous foodie romance authors! I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to be asked to join in!

This is definitely a different type of hop than what most of us are used to participating in and maybe different than what most of you may be used to hopping along to…

This hop is full of author swag which will be given away at the end of each day during the hop, holiday recipes, author spotlights, foodie romance excerpts, and a grand prize drawings for yummy gift baskets from Harry and David, which will be announced on author Amanda Usen‘s blog at the end of each hop!

As I  mentioned, this is a different type of hop. There are 3, week long hops: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year…

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To be entered for the Grand Prize, fill out the Rafflecopter giveaway form at the bottom of the post.

So, how ’bout we get on with the food. I know that’s what you’re here for… Don’t even try to deny it!

Sausage and Cheese Balls.

Yes, you read that right. I thought about giving up my Peanut Butter Pie recipe, or my Broccoli Casserole recipe, or the recipe for Apple Pie in a Pan (several recipes into one… this hasn’t been tested yet…). But Sausage and Cheese Balls are a tradition at Thanksgiving in our house. I’m usually the designated cook, that being passed down from my grandma, so how I cook it, if I cook it at all, is entirely within my discretion and power.

Of course, if things go wrong… *shudder* Luckily, nothing ever has.

I usually make 3-4 batches of Sausage and Cheese Balls, but they must last from appetizer on Thanksgiving Day, to snack times on Black Friday, and on thru game time of the Florida/Florida State football game on Saturday. It is imperative that we not run out of these savory devils.

I also, steer away from the official Jimmy Dean recipe. Nothing against it, I simply add to and take away as my taste dictates.

Sausage and Cheese Balls (the recipe is easily halved)

2 pkgs. Jimmy Dean Pork Sausage Rolls (I use the one flavored with sage, but you can use whichever makes you happy)
3-4 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I use sharp)
2oz Cream Cheese (for creaminess)
1-1 1/2 cups Bisquick (or other all purpose baking mix)
up to 1/4 cup Buttermilk (for moisture)

This is a messy recipe too. No mixers, food processors, blenders, or forks. Get your hands dirty, people! The only thing I use a utensil for with these, is a 1″ or 1 1/2″ cookie scoop, and that’s only for uniformity. We don’t want odd size balls. (Get your minds out of the gutters people! And that includes you *points* in the corner… I KNOW what you’re thinking…)

Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Once cool, I plate them in the proper dish and we dig in.

Of course, in our house, the serving dish or dishes is just as important as the sausage balls themselves.

This is the set I use (because yes, Thanksgiving weekend is the prelude to football on Saturday):

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They basically look like meatballs, but can taste like a sausage and cheese biscuit. We mostly eat them plain, but mustard works really well as a dip.

They’re easy, messy, and delicious. We’ve been making them in our family for as long as I can remember and they’re as important in our Thanksgiving celebrations as the turkey and pies are.

This recipe has nothing to do with any of my books. It’s a personal tradition for my family and no one I’ve written in yet. But, because this is not only for delicious recipes, but for us to get our books in front of possible new readers. I write books with coffee and cakes and cookies. None, however are set around Thanksgiving. The best I can do at this point, is my latest release (which came out Wednesday). Here’s the cover and the blurb:

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Once Brax traded in his suit and law degree for part ownership in his best friend’s tattoo parlor, Love and Tattoos, he never looked back. Inked from head to toe, full of business smarts, and an affinity for classical music and hard sex, he’s got life right where he wants it.

Until the woman he can’t stop craving comes home. She’s full of luscious curves, looks a little unsure of herself, and has taken to acting a little odd around him. Brax can’t help but wonder why.

The corporate advertising firm in Philadelphia that Annie buttoned up her carefree personality for has laid her off. Now, back in North Carolina, she’s trying to find her sparks again. Her career is changing direction, her sex life is nearly dead, and the one thing worth having in the midst of it all is supposedly off limits.

Brax’s cockiness and Annie’s own desire to for the tattoo artist, dares her to believe he might know her better than she thinks he does. And when he promises that he can help her find what’s missing in her life, she agrees to his little after-hours game.

The challenge he lays out comes with a few strings, the suggestion of stripping, confessions, and the temptation of ink. But, they’ve never been that close, so how could she possibly lose?

Here are the Spotlight Authors for the Thanksgiving portion of the Hungry Hearts Holiday Hop. They are being hosted on Amanda Usen’s blog! :

Meg Lacey – 11/1
Gina Gordon – 11/2
Rachel Harris – 11/3
Christine Warner – 11/4
Kate Meader – 11/5
Karen Stivali – 11/6
Liz Everly – 11/7

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In The Kitchen With…Pinterest

InTheKitchenMe. Again. And Pinterest, too.

I try a lot and I do mean A LOT of recipes that I find on Pinterest. I try a lot of recipes from the 100+ food blogs I follow via RSS feeds. A few times I’ve been disappointed, and only once have I ever had to throw anything away uneaten.

I can look at a recipe and see in my head the modifications I need to make, what would work for the comfort food palate of my family. And when it comes to trying recipes found online, or even in cookbooks, I have found this intuitiveness life saving, especially since I cook from scratch more than I cook from a box.

On Mother’s Day, I tried a recipe I found that was very simple and very delicious. I wanted shrimp and I wanted pasta. So, I found a recipe for Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta.

The only modification I made was using whole grain penne pasta instead of linguine. It was delicious. You can click here for the recipe.

The internet is an invaluable tool for cooking questions, suggestions, substitutions, recipes, and general or very specific information.

There are several schools of thought when it comes to food. To fuel. To stay alive. To enjoy. I fall into the ‘to enjoy’ category. Food is a pleasure. It should taste good, whether you’re eating very healthy or not, it should still taste good and be prepared with good quality ingredients. I say this and yes, I’m one of the fat chicks. I have what I like. I expand my palate often. But some days, I go all out.

I’ve eaten health food and wanted to gag knowing that with a little hot sauce, a piece of cardboard would taste better. I’ve eaten no carb, low carb, vegetarian, sometimes vegan, full fat, no fat, diet, non-diet, sugar free, and loaded with sugar. I love trying new things, cooking new things, introducing my family to new things. I love farmer’s markets, local farms, local dairy, and gourmet.

Food is a pleasure to me. Life sometimes is full of drama and sadness. Life is also short. Everything in moderation is the key. So is changing things up. Food is also inspiration for my writing. I love foodie romances and I love writing them. One of my favorites is Amanda Usen’s Scrumptious and Luscious and I’m dying to get my hands on her next book, Into The Fire. Cooking and baking are also one of the ways I relieve stress. Getting lost in a recipe, knowing I have to focus my brain on it or I may end up blowing up my kitchen, helps clear my mind and relax me.

I hope you’ll give the recipe a try. It was truly, very very good. And check out my Pinterest boards, Deliciousness-Savory and Deliciousness-Sweet. I bet you’ll find something fun that makes your mouth water.

~lissa

Guest: Dee Carney

10 Reasons Why Foodie Romances Rock

I write paranormal and contemporary romances. Love my vampires and other otherworldly creatures. Got a real thing for May-December romances. But one sub-genre that always calls to me are those foodie romances, where food (preferably gourmet) plays a large role in bringing the hero and heroine together. So what’s the appeal of food in your romance? Here’s ten…

10. Remember the movie 9 ½ Weeks? The scene where she kept her eyes closed while a young, virile Mickey Rourke fed her different food from the fridge? How sexy was that!

9. If you list the top five dates couples go on, somewhere in there “dinner and a movie” is sitting pretty. Even if the people are complete strangers who might only know each other from a dating web site, food is a great common ground where they can discover similar likes and dislikes.

8. Some foods are known aphrodisiacs! Oysters, asparagus, bananas, chilies, avocadoes…the list goes on and on. I doubt we would have spent so much time researching which would turn our cranks if they didn’t work.

7. Temperamental chefs. Yeah, yeah…they can be pains in the ass, but if you get a hottie chef to lose his temper, later there’s lots of groveling and even better, makeup sex. Hello!

6. Indulge your waistline without actually indulging your waistline! Think about it. Reading about those scrumptious desserts and soul-satisfying dishes doesn’t add to your calorie count for the day. Yet, a good author can make you taste the dishes with his/her descriptions.

5. Chocolate is food. Yes, food! And there are so many creative ways to use chocolate. Painting on the body. Hiding it in strategic places. Licking it off other places. Let your imagination go wild. (And if by some horrible twist of fate, you’re allergic to chocolate, the same can be said of syrups and honey.)

4. The old classic line, “Would you care to come up for some coffee?” If he doesn’t know what she means, then maybe he doesn’t need any coffee after all.

3. Men are visual creatures. It’s easy to get him going just by spending some time sucking on a popsicle, licking an ice cream cone, swallowing a banana…you get the idea.

2. Remember the scene from Lady and the Tramp with the spaghetti? Sharing food is a great way to accidentally touch, play fork wars, or as the dogs demonstrated, end up locking lips.

1. The following morning, breakfast in bed can be exquisitely sexy. And a good reason to continue the “conversation” from the night before.

To see more food and romance in the same place, take a look at my latest release, Once Burned. Here’s the blurb:

Close to the Heat, Book 1

With a chance to win a cooking competition that will advance her career, the last thing food truck chef Pepper Joseph needs is a distraction. Except she’s got a heaping helping of it in the form of fellow chef Darien Priest, the man who broke her heart.

It’s been years, and she tells herself she’s over his betrayal, but to her irritation, she finds she still has an appetite for his steel gray eyes, clean-shaven head, and sleeve tattoos.

Darien regrets the single, juvenile act that ended it with Pepper, but he’s never found the courage to apologize. Now that they’re in close quarters, something’s steaming and it’s not just the saucepots. One, toe-curling kiss proves there’s the potential for more than just a guarded friendship, and he sets out to prove he’s grown into an honorable man.

Until he discovers she’s pulled a seasoning switch that could have ruined one of his dishes. Now it’s on. There’s ten thousand dollars on the line, but if they don’t surrender to another chance at love, one—or both—of their wounded hearts could get singed.

Best selling, award winning author, Dee Carney writes paranormal and contemporary romances. Indulge in one of her foodie romances, but if you get hungry—for love or food—don’t blame her. Visit her on the web at www.deecarney.com or follow her antics at www.twitter.com/dee_carney.