Chris Pavesic writes fantastic fantasy and she’s an amazing cook. That’s why I invited her back today to share a recipe that helps us eat more vegetables and exciting books to binge on.
Take it away, Chris!
1 lb. red potatoes, cubed in 1 inch pieces
4 large carrots, sliced thin
3 celery stalks with leaves, sliced thin
2 medium zucchini, 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
6 cups vegetable stock
Large Soup pot/Dutch oven
Combine all of the ingredients in the soup pot/Dutch oven except the parsley. Bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer about 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add parsley during the last 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Chris Pavesic joins us today with a soup my family and I have been making since she posted the recipe on her blog. I have added vegetarian sausage to it for extra protein, or substituted the brown rice for chickpea-based orzo for the same reason. Vegetable broth is always used in place of chicken because my daughter is a vegetarian. No matter what I do with this recipe it comes out amazing.
1. In a large saucepan, combine onion, rice and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in flat saucepan. Gently cook mushrooms about 10 minutes or until brown and most of moisture has evaporated. Add mushrooms to stock. Stir in sherry and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes.
Makes 6 servings
While you eat your meal, why not enjoy a good book?
We have a new guest author on the blog today, and guess what? She’s brought a bowl of cheese soup for National Soup Month and shared a little about her book, A Chance At The Moon.
Thank you, Linda!
By Linda Lee Greene
Winter, and especially the high-holiday season that is winter’s centerpiece, brings with it for me an air of nostalgia, a wistfulness for the Thanksgiving Days of old, the days when at the end of a long country lane, the white square farmhouse of my maternal grandparents came into view, and within its walls my large family would soon gather around an immense table groaning with a homegrown Thanksgiving meal. With the elapsing of time, the torch has passed to my aunts and uncles, and then to the members of my generation. The work of keeping the traditions of our family alive and well continues to be handed down.
This past Thanksgiving my immediate family gathered at the home of my daughter, Elizabeth, the person who often as not, has hosted our celebration for several years. I am so grateful for the young people of my family, and for the time and space to hunker into the winter of my life, to gather my provisions, as well as to relax into my unbound hours and make the most of them.
Turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and several other side dishes, sweetened at meal’s end with pumpkin pie and whipped cream, and a wide selection of additional heavenly desserts was our traditional fare. Last year, we broadened our menu with some new dishes. My contribution was a lovely ‘Farmhouse Cheese Soup’ laid at table as an appetizer. The recipe comes from Stacey Pirtle of ‘Southern Discourse,’ where it is described as “…oogey, gooey, goodness…a zesty comfort food even the pickiest eaters will enjoy.”
Savory Farmhouse Cheese Soup
1 stick (½ cup) butter ⅓ cup onion, diced ⅓ cup carrots, diced ⅓ cup celery, diced 1 tsp. garlic, minced 32 oz. chicken broth (I prefer the low-sodium brands) ½ cup roasted red peppers, diced 1 cup of Chardonnay, optional 6 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated 6 cups of half-and-half 2 tsp. paprika 1½ tsp. fresh thyme, chopped 1 tsp. salt 1 tsp. white pepper Bacon bits French bread, small chunks
Melt butter in a large stockpot or automatic cooker over medium-low heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are translucent.
Add broth and peppers. Simmer about 5 minutes. Pour in Chardonnay and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Add cheddar cheese, 1 cup at a time, and stir well after each cup until cheese is melted. Blend in half-and-half a little at a time, stirring continuously.
Stir in paprika, thyme, salt, and white pepper. Cook on very low heat for another 5 to 10 minutes, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes.
Sprinkle bacon bits on top of each savory bowl. Sprinkle on bread. Shredded chicken is a nice add-in. Enjoy!
While your soup is simmering how about a peek at my latest crime thriller?
Was it chance or destiny’s hand behind a man and a woman’s curious encounter at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas? The cards fold, their hearts open, and a match strikes, flames that sizzle their hearts and souls. Can they have the moon and the stars, too? Or is she too dangerous? Is he? Can their love withstand betrayal? Can it endure murder?
While the cards at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas fail to distract them from their troubled pasts, on the side, the actress and the gambler play a game of ‘will they won’t they’ romance. Meanwhile, an otherworldly hand also has a big stake in the game. Unexpected secrets unfold brimming with dangerous consequences, and finally, a strange brand of salvation.
Amid the seductions of Las Vegas, Nevada and an idyllic coffee plantation on Hawai’i’s Big Island, a sextet of opposites converge within a shared fate: a glamorous movie-star courting distractions from her troubled past; her shell-shocked bodyguards clutching handholds out of their hardscrabble lives; a dropout Hawaiian nuclear physicist gambling his way back home; a Navajo rancher seeking cleansing for harming Mother Earth; and from its lofty perch, the Hawaiian’s guardian spirit conjured as his pet raven, conducting this symphony of soul odysseys.
The Cast of Characters
Actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms escapes the shadow of her mother’s gruesome murder and the relentless demands of Hollywood and loses herself in the cards at Las Vegas casinos. But like hounds on the scent, the scandal tracks her. And true to her history, it shows up in the person of dashing Hawaiian gambler, Koa Kalua’i. Neither of them are strangers at taking risks and too often losing. Will they win in their chance at the moon this time?
In Hawaiian cosmology, Aumakuas are guardian spirits whom many believe to manifest in physical form. Koa Kalua’i knows the tenet to be true, because Raven has not only been his winged-pet since the earliest days of his childhood on his family’s coffee plantation on Hawaii’s Big Island, but also his Aumakua. They make a remarkable pair, dedicated to righting wrongs.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, and orphaned as little kids, twin brothers Nicholas and Tobias Plato grew up tough but tenderhearted, qualities they put to use as actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms’ bodyguards. Who knew that Nicholas would play such a pivotal role in Olivia’s life: her most trusted friend and guardian, and in the end, her savior?
Navajo rancher and computer geek, Sam Whitehorse uncovers a secret, terrorist stockpile of materiel burrowed in the side of one his people’s sacred mountains in Nevada. It is a threat that he and Las Vegas gambler, Koa Kalua’i must expose and eliminate, but potential government involvement in the matter complicates such an offensive. And why does actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms insert herself into the whole affair?
Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.
Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger, it was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a strong hold.
She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.
Chocolate Mousse 1 ripe avocado 1 large ripe banana 2 tbsp. cocoa powder 2 tbsp. cold water
Put ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
Spoon mixture into 4 small dishes or glasses.
Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
You can add your sprinkles of choice on top, e.g. coconut or chopped nuts or whatever teases your taste buds.
How about a little from my latest psychological fiction while you’re waiting for your mousse to chill?
Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.
But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.
Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?
As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.
Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?
EXCERPT Thursday, 26th March, 2015.
My house is filled with people who don’t exist.
They have no substance. They are neither alive nor dead. They aren’t hosts or spirits. They aren’t in any way shape or form here, but I can see them, and now I need to make a record of how they came to be under my roof.
Why now? Why today? Because we line in strange times, and today is one of the strangest days this year; this is the day that Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was interred in Leicester Cathedral, with all due ceremony, 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. How surreal is that? I watched the highlights on Channel 4 earlier. A couple of my house guests sat with me and together we marveled at the event. They did Richard proud, no doubt of that.
I left them to it after a while and came up here to my bedroom to start writing a diary: this diary.
Life feels unreal today, as if time has looped back onto photo albums. The house clearly passed must itself and everything is happening now. And if I can set my thoughts down on paper, perhaps I can make sense of everything, make it all real somehow.
Where did it start, this thing that has happened to me? A couple of years ago? I can’t say when. It evolved without my conscious input. The existence of my house guests was a fact long before I began to wonder at it. I do wonder at it now and I know I must keep track of what’s happening before I lose myself in this crowd of imaginary beings.
At first there was only a few of them, and I observed their doings without much concern. I watched them snooping around the place, choosing the most comfortable chairs to sit in, leaning against the furniture, inspecting the bookcases, checking the kitchen utensils, and peering into my photo albums. The house clearly passed muster and they stayed. In time, they knew me down to the marrow. I have never known them as well as they know me. They have an air of mystery, as though they have a life outside my house they will never divulge. Even so, I felt I was safe with them and I could tell them my problems. Tell them what no-one else must ever hear. And so these shades thickened, quickened; their personalities accumulated depth and solidity, as though they were skeletons clothing themselves in flesh.
I no longer came home to a cold, empty house, but to a sanctuary where attentive friends awaited my return. I was embraced by their jovial welcome when I stepped through the door. I never knew which of them would be there, but one or two at least would always be waiting to greet me, anxious to hear about my day and make me feel wanted, and for a while I could forget the problems I have at work (even the one that bothers me the most). Since then I have felt a subtle change.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really need this to be a faithful account of the entire situation from start to finish, so I have to try to work out how it all began, even if I’m not sure when.
If I cast my mind back, it floats like a lantern through a city cloaked in fog. I must try to isolate the shadowy figures that flit up at me out of the murk. So, let’s begin with the friend I remember first. I was cooking my evening meal. My mind wandered. I remember feeling sad. And there she stood, at my right elbow, peering into the saucepan.
“Watch you don’t burn that,” she said.
I don’t have names for my imaginary friends, just titles, so I call her Kitchen Girl. She’s dark-haired with porcelain skin, and she’s tall and voluptuous. The sort of woman I’d like to be except I’m small with red hair and a ruddy complexion, and I need chicken fillets to convince people I’m female.
I suppose Kitchen Girl is rather daunting, with those fierce blue eyes and no-nonsense approach to everything. I can stand up to her though. I use humour as my weapon of choice and she appreciates wit and banter. I’d like it if she didn’t nag so much, if I’m honest (“Use less salt… keep stirring… is that all you’re going to eat?”) but, criticism aside, I know she’ll compliment me on the finished product as it lies uneaten between us on the table. Long conversations back and forth have been played out while the meals go cold on their plates. Fried eggs congeal and go waxen. Ice cream melts into a tepid sludge. Sandwiches curl up with embarrassment to be so spurned. You know how it is when you get gossiping. Someone wants to talk to me and that’s better than food.
And sometimes, it’s curious, but it’s Kitchen Girl who cooks the food and serves it to me like a waitress. She likes to surprise me with new dishes.
I have no idea how this happens.
Nor why she never leaves the kitchen. But I wish she’d do the washing up now and then.
Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol writes both fiction and non-fiction.
This slightly more sophisticated version of a no-bake cookie is a perfect treat to make this summer. Any cookie I can hold in one hand while I hold a book in the other is already a winner. Add peanut butter and oats and it is on!
12 pitted dates
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon reduced-fat peanut butter
Food processor/chopping blade
SpatulaSmall mixing bowl
Heart-shaped cookie cutter or sharp knife
1. Place the dates in food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until the dates are very finely chopped and stick together.
2. With a spatula, transfer to a small mixing bowl. Add the oats and peanut butter. Using your hands mix well.
3. Divide the mixture into 4 equal amounts.
Shape each into a ball. Place one ball between two sheets of waxed paper. Flatten the ball to a 3″-diameter cookie. Repeat with each ball.
Remove waxed paper and cut out a heart using heart-shaped cookie cutter or a knife.
With remaining cookie dough repeat process of rolling into balls and flattening in between waxed paper.
Serve immediately or return to waxed paper and store in an airtight plastic container. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Makes 4-6 cookies depending on shape of cookie cutter.
Some people claim breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I believe that’s true, but it doesn’t mean you have to stuff yourself with mountains of borderline healthy food. This menu is satisfying, delicious and won’t cause a coronary. For a more festive morning or brunch add Mimosas. The recipes are gauged for two people so you need to adjust the amounts if you are serving more.
Serve with Fresh Fruit Salad, Croissants or Fresh Rolls, Jam or Jelly, Orange Juice, and Coffee, Tea, or Milk
Scrambled Eggs with Feta and Chives
4 large eggs 2 tbsp. feta cheese, crumbled Freshly ground pepper to taste 1 tbsp. butter, you may need a little more 2 tbsp. fresh chives or 1 tbsp. dried
Crack eggs into a medium-sized bowl. Scramble well with a fork.
Stir in the feta and pepper.
Add butter to a medium-sized frying pan. Melt over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture and then carefully scramble. Be sure to flip the eggs so the cheese melts.
Sprinkle on the chives. Heat through and then serve.
Fresh Fruit Salad 1 apple, cored and sliced 1 pear, sliced 1 banana, peeled and sliced Lemon juice 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced 10 seedless red grapes, cut in half Small handful blueberries Small handful raspberries
In a glass serving bowl, combine the apple, pear, and banana. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent the fruit from turning brown. Gently stir. Add in the remaining fruit.
Cover with plastic wrap then set in the refrigerator to chill until time to serve.
COMING SOON to a kitchen near you!
Book 2 in theMeals to Make Together series
Starry summer nights are ripe for romance and dining al fresco. Enhance the mood with Romantic Meals to dine al Fresco, candles, wine, and your favorite music. Fire up your grill and share a romantic dinner with your someone special. Then let the night take you away.
Create 45 delicious and complete meals for two that can be cooked on your grill or stove. No exotic or expensive ingredients needed. These 103 recipes use everyday products already in your kitchen cabinets. Increasing the dinners is a snap for those fun nights when friends or family join you.
Romantic Meals to dine al Fresco, Book 2 in the Meals to Make Together series, is an ideal gift for a hostess, bridal shower, anniversary, or the couple who crave a fresh flavor in their lives.
Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.
Taylor currently has seven romance novellas released by Toque & Dagger Publishing. Her first solo venture into non-fiction is a Couples Cookbook with eighty of her favorite recipes, DATE NIGHT DINNERS, Meals to Make Together for a Romantic Evening.
No, they’re not sisters or even cousins. Today’s guest blogger is an author with a split personality and man can she cook! Forgive the corny author humor. We have a laugh about answering to and using different pen names. You should see us go out to lunch and confuse the servers! The recipe is better than my jokes, I promise.
Here’s Emma with the recipe. Enjoy!
Hi everyone, this recipe is only a guideline for making a delicious lunch or main dish with fresh vegetables. The list of veggies is easily amendable to whatever your grocer has in stock. No beets, please! Be sure to add nurturing bread like corn bread or crackers for a more substantial meal. Okay, I used corn Chex Mix one time, but that was an emergency. A green salad is always a welcome addition.
FRESH VEGETABLE SOUP
1 onion, diced
½ green pepper, cleaned and diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 fat carrot, peeled and chopped
1 – 2 ears fresh corn kernels, scraped from cob
1 can diced tomato or 1 lg. fresh, chopped
1½ cups fresh green beans, strings removed and chopped
3 cups beef or chicken stock
½ pound ground chuck
1 med. potato, diced
Sprig fresh thyme or ¼ tsp. dried
Sprig of oregano or ¼ tsp. dried
Small sprig of basil or ½ tsp. dried
Sprig of parsley, flat not curly
Sauté meat and set aside.
Pour stock into a large pot. Add onions and celery. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes.
Add carrots, corn, tomatoes, potato, and herbs. Return soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add meat. Simmer 10 minutes more.
Veggies will be somewhat crisp. Cook longer if desired. As it sits the flavor will increase. But cool and refrigerate if it’s going to be longer than a few hours before serving.
Optional Veggies: okra, green peas, yellow squash, small can chick peas
Optional herbs/spices: pinch of chili pepper, tiny clove of garlic, sprig of cilantro.
Tip: if you use fresh herbs tie together with kitchen string and remove before serving.
Here’s a peek at my Cozy Mystery, Murder in the Neighborhood, a novel which introduces you to Detective Kevin Fowler and the intriguing murders which infect this small town Americana. The series follows the detective, colleagues, friends, and lovers through a whirlwind of events, good and bad, over the next three novels.
A killer is attacking respectable citizens in picturesque Hubbard, NY, and leaving corpses on their front steps in the middle of the day. Detective Fowler isn’t certain who causes him to lose the most sleep, a certain sexy reporter with bouncing curls and sparkling black eyes, or the elusive psychopath creating panic in his small-town community. Together, the detective and the reporter race to find the monster in their midst and return the town to the desirable place where people come to raise their families in peace and contentment. Can they sort through their differences to find romance even as they search for a determined stalker with murder on his mind? The clock ticks down on a man in a rage with a deadly mission.
Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane onAmazon
Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.
She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.
Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.