In The Kitchen With…Jane

Jane is the resident candy maker around here. She makes truffles. Dark chocolate truffles infused with peppers. She was looking for a hobby when she signed up for a candy making class, but ended up with a new best friend, Edward, and a new business.

You might remember Jane. Her book was called Sugar Rush. She had a really hot affair with a really hot Cowboy Surfer by the name of Graham. Well, the title has been changed back to its original, Melting Jane and it’s being revised for re-release.

Being that it’s the week of Easter, and being that I’ve been working on Jane’s book this week, she kind of put it into my head that we should share a truffle recipe with you. But, I’m going to do one better and share two.

First, Chocolate Chili Almond Truffles from The Spice House

Ingredients

1 Pound Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided

2 Tablespoons Unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons Corn syrup

1 teaspoon Arrowroot

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 teaspoons New Mexican Chili Powder

1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract

1/2 Cup Heavy whipping Cream

4 Tablespoons Dutch Cocoa Powder

1/4 Cup Toasted almonds

Serves / Yields

about 3 dozen truffles

Preparation Instructions

Take 9 ounces of the chocolate and chop it into small pieces. Place in a bowl with the butter, corn syrup, arrowroot, baking soda, chili powder and extract. In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil, and slowly pour over the chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until all the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Chill the chocolate overnight (or in the freezer for a few hours) until it is the consistency of a thick frosting.

Cut the remaining chocolate into small pieces and melt it over a double boiler. While this is melting, scoop the refrigerated chocolate mixture into little balls and roll until even. Quickly dip the balls into the melted chocolate to coat, and return to the refrigerator.

Place the dutched cocoa and almonds in a food processor and pulse together until blended. Remove truffles from the fridge and roll in the cocoa-almond mix.

Helpful Hints

Chocolate melts if manhandled too much, so if it’s taking a long time to prepare, work with only part chocolate at a time. Keep the remainder cold in the fridge.

(I love chili spiced truffles. They are rich and the kick of chili… Delicious!)

I think sometimes I view the chili truffles as a grown up candy, so I thought I’d sneak in a yummy truffle treat you could make for anyone. It’s easy and oh my goodness… They are so good. My daughter and her friends made two batches of these a couple of weeks ago and sold them all. With the profits, they all went to the zoo. Loved their ingenuity!

Second, Easy Oreo Truffles from Kraft Recipes

What You Need

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

1 pkg. (15.5 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 4-1/4 cups), divided

2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

Make It

MIX cream cheese and 3 cups cookie crumbs until well blended.

SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Kraft Kitchens Tips

How to Melt Chocolate: Place unwrapped chocolate squares in microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 2-1/2 min. or until chocolate is completely melted, stirring every 30 sec.

How to Easily Dip Truffles: To easily coat truffles with the melted chocolate, add truffles, in batches, to bowl of melted chocolate. Use 2 forks to roll truffles in chocolate until evenly coated. Remove truffles with forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into bowl. Place truffles on prepared baking sheet; let stand until firm.

How to Store: Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Give some thought to homemade candy for Easter this year. I am… And be on the look out for Melting Jane’s cover and re-release in the next few weeks.

~lissa

P.S. Don’t tell Jane I shared another truffle with you. She might get a bit peeved… 😉

In the kitchen with…Lissa

Yes, me. Nothing wrong with that, right? Good.

Y’all know how I love to cook and be in the kitchen. It’s one of my great passions, and well, I have several…

I’ve found that cooking is something that relaxes me and is a creation of something pleasurable (one hopes…LOL), something meant to please and fulfill a need, to make someone happy. And yes, I do believe food should make us happy. I don’t think it should be a chore or something that we simply do because we have to stay alive. No, it should be pleasurable, good, real food. The Italians and French have it right. They savor their food. They delight in it. They take their time over it…both cooking and eating. It should make you smile and not stress you out. It doesn’t even have to be complex. Honestly, some of the best foods are simple.

My husband is right now, thanks to so many diet changes for him, only borderline diabetic. His blood glucose count is nearly normal to where diabetes isn’t even considered. We’ve adjusted the diet enough to help him overcome the issues he was having. He’ll stay on a low sugar, whole grain, lean protein way of eating to keep the blood sugars where they need to be, he’ll continue exercising to maintain the 20lbs loss. But it’s taken 2 years to get everything under this kind of control for him.

I use a lot of recipes from Cooking Light. Not so much Weight Watchers, though. In a lot of the research I’ve done on food and processing, reduced fat, fat-free, processed, artificial isn’t what I want to go with. I’ve also found that when I consume artificial sweeteners, I get more migraines. We’ve tried Truvia and Stevia and while DH will use them at home if I make him, he prefers the taste of Splenda more. I have also found that natural sugars like honey, maple syrup and minimally processed sugars like Sucanat do not negatively affect him nearly as much as plain white sugar. Yes, sugar is sugar, but we’ve experimented with them all enough to know that different ones affect blood sugar in different ways.

So, let’s talk ice cream…

I haven’t found a good sugar free homemade ice cream recipe yet, so I still buy sugar free and no sugar added ice cream for him when he’s craving it. I was in the store yesterday looking at ingredients. Most ice creams (unless the label says ‘All Natural’) have multiple ingredients I can’t pronounce and in regular ice cream, they have not only sugar, but corn syrup as well? Why? Why do you need both? Ice cream is milk, cream, sugar, flavor (vanilla, lemon, strawberry, etc…) Why do you need to add anything to it? Some of it is synthetic. Some of it isn’t. It’s all additives and preservatives giving products longer shelf (or freezer life in this case), smoother texture, and in some cases fiber where there wasn’t any before. So, if there can be All Natural ice cream in the grocery store freezers, why do we need to have not All Natural ice creams in the freezers? Just one of my curious questions…

I, actually though, prefer homemade ice cream and my husband does too so as soon as I find a good sugar-free or no-sugar added recipe for homemade ice cream, I’ll be trying it out for him. I remember sitting on my grandparent’s back porch in the evenings in summer and they’d get the ice cream maker out with all the ingredients…including the rock salt and we’d take turns churning the ice cream while talking and visiting. Neighbors would come over, some with fruit, some with pound cake slices. It’s one of my fondest memories growing up.

Homemade ice cream is amazing. There are different styles… custard which uses eggs and non-custard which uses cream, milk, sugar, and whatever flavor you want.

I make it every couple of weeks. I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker… You can make frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbert, and ice cream in it…

I also have an ice cream cookbook called The Perfect Scoop because it came highly recommended, but I am looking into others just for variety. My brother liked the homemade vanilla bean ice cream I made at Thanksgiving so well, that he went out and bought one of these ice cream makers and now makes all kinds of homemade ice creams for his family. His favorite was the vanilla he made with fresh berries in it. I thought that was really cool.

I even found a recipe the other day for homemade Dippin’ Dots! Can’t wait to try it…

So, with summer coming…what are some of your favorite summertime cool-down treats?

~lissa

In The Kitchen with…Blue

Happy Thursday! I hope y’all slept better last night than I did. Night sweats. Damn. I’m not all here yet and I keep yawning every 2-3 minutes. So,if I doze off, just nudge me to keep going…

Blue recently emerged in her own story: Forever In Blue Jeans. This is my longest book to date at about 65000 words. I am proud of the book, of the story that emerged, but I’ll talk about that another day. She’s got a domestic streak a mile wide. She’s turning her family’s plantation home into a bed and breakfast and she’s been to culinary school. All that does take a backseat to the relationship she’s trying to forge with Cort, but it’s still there…

She and I cook very differently in some situations. She goes without a recipe, I use one, usually only as a guideline, but I do use one. She also does dishes by hand in her cozy kitchen and well, I only do dishes by hand when I have to. But the one thing we have in common is we love good food. Whatever it is, we love good food. And coffee…

Sort of the morning after, she makes breakfast for Cort…a bacon, egg, and cheese quiche. He’s never had one. Poor him.

I love quiche. Eggs. Milk/Cream/Some kind of dairy. Cheese. And whatever you want to throw in it. All in one pan. Bake it. And voila! Delish! It doesn’t require fancy equipment or ingredients or a lot of time/prep.

The following is a recipe from a cooking blog called The Keenan Cookbook (they have all sorts of wonderful recipes). I haven’t made this without the spinach because I like the spinach in it, but it can be done. It is also a crustless quiche so for those who don’t like the pastry crust, this is one for you…

This is a small recipe (and a good starting spot if you’ve never made a quiche before) but it can easily be doubled and made in a quiche pan (pie pan) instead of the muffin tins the recipe calls for.

Crustless Bacon, Egg and Cheese Quiche

Ingredients:

5 pieces bacon
1/4 tomato, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1/2 scallion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen spinach, cooked and squeezed dry
3 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Fry bacon in a skillet, plate and pat dry when finished, then chop.

Discard most all of the bacon fat from the skillet. Add tomato, onion, scallion, spinach and bacon to the pan. Cook on low until onion is translucent.

In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs with sour cream, salt and pepper.

In a muffin tray, sprayed with non stick cooking spray, divide the egg mixture equally into 4 of the muffin spots (about 1/4 cup of mixture). Add the vegetable/bacon mixture and top with cheese. Bake for 22 minutes or until cooked through.

YUM!

Next time, Blue will be here to join in and we’ll share the iced coffee recipe we use. At the moment, though, she’s off doing…unmentionable things with Cort.

One night stands are supposed to be forgettable… But what if the sparks are still flying?

Cort arrives in Blue Ridge with the prospect of a job he can’t resist: the rewiring of a plantation home. Digging into the walls of historical buildings to learn about them from the inside out is a passion he can’t deny. With his mind focused on catching up with his old friends and the challenge of ancient wires, a romantic set up is the last thing he suspects.

And he’s not the only one in the dark…

Blue can’t believe the man pulling to a stop in front of her house is the same man she met in a Savannah riverfront bar five years ago. Heated memories of their one night flood her, but the chill in his eyes remind her of the coward she’d been by leaving while he was sleeping. This time, she can’t escape him or the things he makes her feel. He’s in her space, surrounded by their friends, and every throbbing cell in her body is involved…

So’s her heart.

Angry words, angry sex, good food and cups of strong coffee all washed away by a Southern summer thunderstorm, and the road to forever has taken a turn…

Warning: Between the sheets you’ll find meddling friends, drunk cakes, a corset tattoo, and a Southern plantation. But, what you really need to be on the look out for is a heroine laying siege to a hero with nothing but her sassy mouth holding him against the door…

Yesterday, Blue’s and my ‘drunk cake’ was featured over at a new blog called Romance Cooks. Cream Cheese Bourbon Pound Cake. 🙂

This blog series is developing as we go along and I hope to include character interviews with questions from readers. It’s my way of showing my love of cooking with all of you through the books I write and the characters I create…or rather the characters that just barge in on me.

I hope you all have a great day…

~lissa

In the kitchen with…Cam

Hey y’all! Grab a seat and let’s talk…cookies. Yeah, I know. It’s a little odd to have a character such as Cam Carter from Stick Shift know how to make cookies. Molasses cookies at that, but he does. See, his mama thought it would something good for him to know, something good for him to be able to sneak out of his back pocket when he was trying to impress a girl. And impress, it does. I don’t care who you are, most of us, like and or wish a man we loved/lusted after knew his way around the kitchen with either sweets or coffee.

I know I would have appreciated it. However, DH does know how to load a dishwasher much better than I ever could have managed, so maybe we’re even…sorta. But, I still love the idea of a man cooking, baking even… At least making me coffee. There’s something inherently wonderful about being woo’ed that way, being taken care of in that basic way. It’s intimate.

Cam uses his way with cookies as a way to mend the bridge between himself and Lily, as a way to soften her heart toward him, as a way to, as his mother had once said, impress the girl.

Now, really… who wouldn’t melt at a bad boy race car driver bringing you cookies that he’d made himself? I know I damn sure would…

Do you have a man who cooks for you? Cooks with you? If so, can I come for a visit? 😉

Just Like Starbucks Molasses Cookies (borrowed from Kate at Stolen Moments Cooking)

  • 3/4 c. butter or margarine
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. blackstrap molasses (or 1/2 c. plain molasses)
  • 2 1/2 c. flour (You can use any combination white/whole wheat flour)
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. ginger
  • For rolling dough – 1/2 c. white sugar

1. Cream the butter or margarine and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg and molasses and beat for an additional minute.

2. In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Sift or stir with a fork or whisk for 30 seconds.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Cover dough and refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours, until firm.

4. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into a ball, then roll through white sugar. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

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I love Molasses Cookies. They are my favorite, especially if iced, but I’ll take them sugared as well.

An orchestra musician, a private music teacher, and a homebody, Lily’s a full-figured, quiet woman who lives a fairly simple and solitary life. Aside from music, she has one big passion: stock car racing. She’s been a fan for as long as she can remember and makes the yearly pilgrimage to Daytona as often as she can. When she’s offered a chance to get away to North Carolina and attend two weeks of races, she jumps at it. Little does she know what that chance has in store for her…

Cam Carter is one of the most successful young drivers in the top tier of the stock car racing circuit. All over the country, he’s well known to racing fans, loved by some, respected by a few, and hated by others. He’s arrogant, strong willed, and a consistent winner. What he doesn’t have is balance…until he meets a pretty, very curvaceous, and unassuming fan named Lily.

 
Lily fears the difference in lifestyles, ages, and personalities while Cam in turn, embraces them. Can they find a way to cross the finish line and take the checkered flag together or will the obstacles push against them until they crash and burn?

 
Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse.

Available as an ebook from Loose-id, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, Sony Reader

Hopefully next time, Cam will be able to take time out of his busy racing schedule to join us 😉

~lissa

 

In the kitchen with…Vinter!

Welcome y’all! Pull up a seat.

One of my favorite things to do is cook. I love being in the kitchen most of the time. It’s not always and not every day that I want to make a mess and then have to clean it up, but for the most part, I’m in love with cooking and baking and all things kitchen. Because of that, it makes sense for me to have characters in my books who cook.

Today’s character is Vinter. In Simple Need, the morning after with Elise, he made her breakfast…waffles and bacon. Now, of course, Vinter being Vinter, he couldn’t help but be a little naughty with the syrup. Luckily, Elise was all too happy to oblige him. He wanted to make her feel that she was welcome, that he wanted her company for more than the hot sex they were almost constantly having. And well, there was also that need for sustenance 😉 . After all, they did work up a bit of an appetite.

I have a love affair with breakfast foods, especially sweet breakfast foods. Waffles, pancakes, sweet breads, muffins, doughnuts, etc… I don’t have these things often, but when I do, it’s like a party. I love going out for pancakes or pastries, but more than that, I love making them. Nothing better sometimes than the smell of cooking waffles and bacon and warm maple syrup. It has to be real maple syrup, too. Not the flavored syrup, but the real thing, usually in the glass bottles and more expensive than the stuff at eye level. Real syrup can be used sparingly too since it’s sweeter.

Since I cook so much, I try to do it in a healthy way. I love food blogs and am always perusing them, spending hours reading through them for new and interesting takes on recipes. I use a lot of natural sweeteners instead of white sugar. Whole wheat and whole grain flours instead of white unless necessary, like for cakes and such.

So, because our bad boy hero, Vinter, made Elise waffles, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite waffle recipes from one of my most favorite food sites, Deliciously Organic.

Whole Wheat Waffles
Adapted from Christopher Kimball’s The Cook’s Bible
Serves 6

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat waffle iron.Whisk flour, cornmeal, sea salt and baking soda in a mixing bowl. Whisk egg yolks with buttermilk and melted butter. Beat egg whites until they hold a stiff peak. Add egg yolk mixture slowly to dry ingredients while stirring with a spatula until just mixed together (there will still be lumps and maybe a few patches of flour). Gently fold in the egg whites until just mixed together. (It’s important not to over mix).

Using a ladle, spoon batter onto waffle iron and cook until deep brown. Serve immediately.

If you are cooking for a crowd, simply preheat the oven to 200°F and place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. When the waffles are cooked place them on the cooling rack/baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm.

Now, this following bacon recipe is an indulgent recipe and I make it once in a blue moon and not to serve with waffles or pancakes since it’s so sweet already. It’s taken from the blog, Mommy’s Kitchen.

Brown Sugar Bacon

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, 8 slices

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Mix brown sugar, cayenne, and black pepper together in a medium bowl. Add bacon and toss. Line a baking sheet with a wire rack and lay bacon on the rack. Pat any remanding spice mixture on the bacon. Put the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven to a serving dish and let cool slightly before serving.

*Note: If using thick cut peppered bacon, omit the pepper in this recipe.

When I was looking for a waffle iron, I had the hardest time finding one that wasn’t for Belgian waffles. I wanted a regular thickness for waffles and I finally found one by Cuisinart for about $30. I love it.

Have you read about Vinter? If not, here’s the cover and blurb:

Vinter is not your typical businessman. Tattoos, piercings and not a suit and tie in sight. One-third owner of a bar and a tattoo parlor along with being a bassist in a band, Vinter comes and goes as he pleases. He likes his beer cold, his music hard and his women scorching hot. Until he’s knocked off his game by a suburban doll he can’t stop wanting.

Elise needs a change. In men. The buttoned-up businessmen she’s been dating leave a lot to be desired—in romance, in respect and most definitely in sex. A recent text message from her now ex-lover drives Elise into a popular bar on the outside of town, where she meets one of its owners. He’s just the kind of man she’s never had and definitely the kind she’s always fantasized about. Big, bad and oh so naughty.

Unexpected tenderness. Unimaginable lust. Being dumped has never felt so damn good.

Available as an ebook from: Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, Sony Reader, Kobo, Powell’s

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first installment of In the kitchen with… and that you’ll come back each Thursday to find out what and who is cooking…

~lissa