Lucy & Stan’s Dairy-free Beer Cheese Soup

Lucy and Stan united to make this soup happen. They love her microbrew and he loves his cheese. Lucy wanted a dairy-free option and just like that, cold winter nights got warm and cozy.

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Note that if you want to make this soup yellow like the dairy version you can add more of the shredded Daiya cheddar. The bold flavors are there without it.

 

Ingredients:

3 tbsp. Earth Balance (vegan butter)

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 brown onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

8 oz. ale of choice

4 oz. Miyokos Cheers to Cheddar Roadhouse Cheese Spread

2 cups cashew milk

2 tsp Cholula hot sauce

1 cup Daiya cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1/2 tsp thyme, dried

2 tsp Kosher salt

 

Directions:

Heat a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot add 1 tbsp. vegan butter and let it melt.

Add celery, onion, and garlic. Cook for about three minutes.

Add cornstarch and remaining 2 tbsp. vegan butter. Combine with vegetables. Cook, stirring often, for about five more minutes or until your vegetables look cooked. Make sure you incorporate all the cornstarch.

Add ale slowly while stirring so the cornstarch stays smooth.

Transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until large vegetables pieces are blended.

Return soup to pan and add in Miyokos cheese. Stir until it melts and combines.

Stir in cashew milk a cup at a time, whisking the soup after each addition.

Hot sauce, Daiya cheese, pepper, thyme, and salt are added at the same time. Stir until cheese is melted. Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy with your favorite toasted bread.

 

Excerpt from Desert Sunrise

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Lucy unlocked the door to the house with Stan just behind her, chattering about how the house was too big for her.

Stan fought the feeling that she was hinting at anything, anything at all.  She didn’t look like she was.

“Do you want to try a pilsner I made?  It’s my first try at it.”  Lucy offered, walking straight into the kitchen.

“You make beer?”  The woman was full of good qualities that Stan didn’t want to look too closely at.  He spent too much time thinking about her already.

She shrugged.  “One of my brothers is really into it.  He gave me a home brewing kit a few years back for Christmas so I tried it to be nice.  I ended up liking it.”

“I’ll try it.  Thanks.  Can I help you with anything?”  He watched her move surely around the kitchen, not as smooth as Dana, but much more than he did when he was doing anything more complicated than heating something he bought at the store.

She’d seen him in the kitchen.  He tried, but it was faster to do it alone.  “There’s nothing to do really.  Relax.  Drink.”  She handed him the fine beer mug she’d bought in Germany filled with the clear golden brew and thick foam.

He took the first sip, not knowing what to expect.  The light, refreshing, slightly sweet taste was the best he’d ever had.  “Would it be wrong to say that it reminds me of Heineken, only much better?”

Lucy’s smile was ecstatic.  “That’s exactly what I was going for!  The sweeter Dutch style.  The German pilsners are darker and a little bitter for me.  I like the Czech color and flavor, but they’re not quite as sweet.  Do you want salad with your chicken?”  Her tone was more like, “You want salad with your chicken, don’t you?”

“You and Dana are obsessed with vegetables,” he tried to sound like he disapproved.  The fact was, they were growing on him, and his doctor said that the changes he made to his diet were showing up in his blood work.  He had to admit that he did feel better.  His old injury from being stomped on by too many broncos didn’t ache or get stiff as often as it used to.

“What do you expect from two nutritionists?”

She plated the food and brought it to the table.

Stan saw the salad and dressing sitting on the counter.  “Sit down, Lucy.  I’ll get the rest.”

They talked about their day in the park while they ate.  Lucy was building her nerve for her second task.  She was getting the score before he left today.  They were either going to start dating or she was going to work on redirecting herself until she found a smidgen of interest in someone else.  That was the problem, of course.  She wasn’t even a little attracted to anyone else, not even the charming chef at the restaurant in Palm Springs who was always inviting her in under the guise of tasting new dishes for him.

When the dishes were cleaned and put away dry, and they had each finished a tall glass of pilsner, Lucy found that she still didn’t have a smooth way of asking him what he wanted with her, if anything.

“This was a real treat, Lucy.  I should have guessed you’d be a great cook.  The beer surprised me.  I’d like to try whatever you make next.”

That was an opening, wasn’t it?  Or was he being polite?  Enough, she told herself.  Ask him and be done with it.

“Stan, I have to know something.”

He stilled, hearing how important that something was to her.  “Yeah?”

“What, do you have pirate training, give no quarter?”  It annoyed her, really annoyed her, that he wouldn’t help her at all.

“What?”  He was truly confused.

She closed the gap between them, reaching her arms up around his neck, taking his lips in a soft kiss.

He took the kiss, deepening it as far as he could take it without having to drag her to the empty bed he knew was only a few feet away.

“Well, that answers part of my question,” she spoke against his lips. “Though I wasn’t really wondering about this part.”

The ability to think was quickly leaving him.  Lucy, funny, witty, nature loving Lucy, was wrapped around him and pressed against him.

She sighed.  Neither moved.  Their mouths were just shy of a kiss and still he didn’t say or do anything.  She could let him go home right now and they would be right where they were.  She pushed on, determined to make it or break it.

She moved out of his gentle hold.  “I’m glad you enjoyed the lunch.  I did, too.  One last thing before you go.  Are you into me, or not?”  She saw his sarcastic glance down to where he swelled hard against his jeans.  “I know you want me, that’s not what I’m asking.”

She deserved to know, he supposed.  If only he knew what to do about what he felt.  He summed it up as simply as he could.  “I like you, Lucy.  A lot.”

That was something, she supposed.  It didn’t tell her what she needed to know.  “Pirate,” she muttered.

“Why do you keep calling me a pirate?”  Women could be so strange.

“Because you’re making me work for every little thing here.”  She cocked her hands on her hips, warrior style.

“What do you want me to say, Lucy?  Do you have it all figured out for me already?”

“No, Stan, I’m not the kind of woman to ‘figure it all out for a man’ or we wouldn’t be standing here months later having this conversation.  And what I want you to say, is what you feel, what you want.  Or should I start looking somewhere else?”

He narrowed his eyes.  “What do you mean by that?”

***

Desert Sunrise

Life is good for Lucy Shannon. Love will be too, when the man she knows is out there for her finally shows up. Until then she is going to enjoy herself. So what if her ex-fiance tossed her heart into a blender? Years of therapy had put that in perspective.

Stan Spellman doesn’t think like her. Not in the least. Sure, life is good. He does what he loves every day, spends a pleasurable night with a woman when he wants to. Love? Happily ever after? He’s seen the rare occurrence of it. That’s as far as his thinking on the subject goes.

They’re both scheduled for a wake-up call that will change their lives forever, fulfilling dreams they never knew they had.

 

The Author

gina-pic-1-crop-300-dpi

Gina Briganti writes paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance in north Texas. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.

 

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What Lucy Thinks About The Natural Sisters Cafe in Joshua Tree, CA

What Lucy Thinks AboutBy Lucy Shannon*

The first time I tried the food that would become The Natural Sisters Cafe, they were vending at the Joshua Tree Events Center.  A fully-functioning restaurant was still a dream at the time.  I was impressed then, and I’m even more impressed now.

If you tell me that your offerings are natural, I’m automatically expecting you to know what that means, and to live up to it.  The Natural Sisters know natural foods.  They know how to prepare it, and how to present it.  If you’re into health food, you know that getting it right takes skill.  Lots of skill.

Natural Sisters Wheat Grass Wheat Grass Shot & Joshua Tree Coffee Co. Coffee

Natural Sisters Breakfast 1

Veggie and Hummus Wrap

Desert Sunrise Smoothie

Natural Sisters

My hands-down favorite meal at The Natural Sisters Cafe is their biscuits and gravy.  They are made from scratch, feature vegetarian sausage, and are covered in their luscious gravy.  It’s too much food for one, but now that I indulge in breakfast with my handsome cowboy, I can order it and a muffin or a smoothie and share all of it.

Did I mention that all of their offerings are vegetarian or vegan?  You’re right.  I didn’t.  Stan and Joe don’t miss the meat when they eat there, which is testament to the fact that you probably won’t focus on that, either.

The Natural Sisters Cafe is one of those restaurants where you can order anything on the menu.  Their smoothies, egg bagels, create your own sandwich, salads, soup of the day, and fresh juices happen to be my favorites.  I wonder what your favorites will be!

The Natural Sisters Cafe

61695 8 29 Palms Hwy

Joshua Tree, CA 92252

(760) 366-3600

Almost forgot the stars!  The Natural Sisters Cafe is a solid five out of five stars!

*Lucy Shannon is a character in the Natural Gifts series of uplifting paranormal romances by Gina Briganti.  You can read the story of how Lucy Shannon fell in love with her cowboy in shining spurs in Desert Sunrise, book 2 of the series.  The Natural Sisters Cafe, and this review of The Natural Sisters Cafe, are real.

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Dana Cooks…Mini Pumpkin Pie Muffins

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In my Natural Gifts series of uplifting paranormal romances, one of my characters is a celebrity cookbook author.  Today I’d like to share a lovely fall recipe from the fictional Dana Carapelli-Jacobs’ cookbook series, Dana Cooks For The Holidays.

###

It’s a cool fall afternoon, and I miss Carter, Jenny, and Jason coming through the door with the stories of their day. Thank goodness I will see them soon for the Thanksgiving holiday.

I think Carter and Jenny miss us, too, which is why I thought it would be sweet to send them a batch of goodies from home. Both kids love pumpkin pie, which inspired me to bake a treat they can pop in their mouths while they run from one class to another. As Jason often says, “No plate, no fork, perfect.”

I’m thrilled with these muffins. The middle tastes like pumpkin pie, and the walnuts I sprinkled on top of them right before putting them in the oven gained a warm, roasted flavor.

I’m especially happy that these easy, sweet treats are bursting with fall flavor, but do not contain any refined sugar, gluten, or dairy products.

Mini Pumpkin Pie Muffins 

Ingredients:  Remember to use organic ingredients if you can.

1/2 cup coconut flour (Well-stocked grocery stores have this now, as well as health food stores)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup raw honey
3 tablespoons walnuts, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.   Combine the coconut flour, pumpkin pie spice, and baking powder together.

In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients, except for the walnuts, until well blended. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin purée mixture, and mix well until smooth.

Fill each mini muffin cup 3/4 full; the batter will rise a little.

Bake for 11 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the largest muffin comes out clean.

Makes one dozen mini muffins.

###

As always, thank you for reading,

Gina

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Gina Briganti is Interviewed by Rita Lee Chapman, Author of “Winston: A Horse’s Tale”

I truly enjoyed getting to know Rita, and reading her charming story about Winston.  My review of Winston, A Horse’s Tale is on Amazon and GoodReads.  Have a look at it if you’re interested in the horse’s view of life.  I’m definitely happy that I read it.

Rita was looking for authors to interview a few months ago, so I looked into her, and her books, and found yet another reason to enjoy the self-publishing journey and community.  I connected with Rita and away we went with the interview you can now read on her site.   Rita’s interview included some new, fun questions I haven’t been asked before. I hope you enjoy reading my interview with Rita.

As always, thank you for reading,

Gina

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A New Author Interview With Yours Truly

Jaideep khanduja is a fellow author whose books include

http://www.amazon.com/Dry-Tears-Eyes-jaideep-khanduja-ebook/dp/B0084TBMYW/ref=asap_B007HZ263U_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412723456&sr=1-2

and

http://www.amazon.com/Project-Management-Ultimate-Journey-Assurance-ebook/dp/B007HONT9G/ref=asap_B007HZ263U_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412723456&sr=1-1

He took the time to ask me a few questions that I found fun and interesting to answer. I hope you enjoy reading them.

http://pebbleinthestillwaters.blogspot.in/2014/10/author-interview-gina-briganti-author.html

As always, thank you for reading,

Gina

Would You Give Back, or Erase, Your Natural Gift?

My dear friend and fellow author Melissa Barker-Simpson (Hands of Evil) hosted this post for the release of Desert Sunrise, book two of my Natural Gifts series. In this post, five of the characters from the series answer the question of whether or not they would give their gifts back, or erase them, if they could.

If you’re new to the series, you can catch up by reading the first book in the series, The Dreaming.The Dreaming

Thank you, Mel, for always being wonderful.

And as always, thank you for reading.

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It’s Release Day: Desert Sunrise by Gina Briganti (Book 2, Natural Gifts)

Desert Sunrise Cover for Kindle 8-28

Desert Sunrise by Gina Briganti, the second full-length book in the Natural Gifts series, is now available for Kindle and in paperback! If you want a signed paperback, let me know; Amazon doesn’t have them.  Desert Sunrise is an uplifting paranormal romance, and the Natural Gifts series is where fate gets a good name.

I’ve been enjoying this story for four years, and now I am able to share it with all of you!

This is what it’s about – Back Cover Blurb:

Life is good for Lucy Shannon. Love will be too, when the man she knows is out there for her finally shows up. Until then she is going to enjoy herself. So what if her ex-fiance tossed her heart into a blender? Years of therapy had put that in perspective.

Stan Spellman doesn’t think like her. Not in the least. Sure, life is good. He does what he loves every day, spends a pleasurable night with a woman when he wants to. Love? Happily ever after? He’s seen the rare occurrence of it. That’s as far as his thinking on the subject goes.

They’re both scheduled for a wake-up call that will change their lives forever, fulfilling dreams they never knew they had.

Are you getting my newsletter? I share fun, interesting, exclusives with my readers in it. Sign up takes only a few moments, and your information is not shared with anyone else.

Thank you for sharing this special day with me.

As always, thank you for reading!