Monday, 16 September 2019

Jump into Fall with the Perfect Taco Salad and Cozy Mystery by Janis Lane...

I've invited author friend Janis Lane (Emma Lane's alter ego) into my virtual kitchen to share a fantastic family friendly recipe that's perfect for the new school year, and pairs well with the beginning of football season. Need I say more? Take it away, Janis...

This recipe is easily adapted to personal preferences. More beef? More cheese? More onion? More sauce? Dollop of sour cream? Scoop chips? Choose your own alterations.

Makes an easy party set up which allows guests to assemble their own plates. Serve with guacamole dip and more corn ships.

TACO SALAD

½ - l lb. ground beef, preferably chuck for flavor
1 med. onion, diced
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
¼ - ½ head lettuce, chopped to bite size
1 8-10 oz. can diced tomato
2/3 bag corn chips, slightly crushed
Ortega Taco Sauce to taste (or your favorite brand)

Sauté beef and onion together until done (no pink left). Use fork to break lumps into small pieces. Cover pan and then set aside.

Prepare individual plates covering the bottom with corn chips. Add warm beef mixture.

Quickly scatter cheese to take advantage of the warmth.

Layer with lettuce, and then tomatoes. Drizzle with taco sauce to taste. Sprinkle a bit more cheese for garnish or substitute a piece or two of parsley.

Serves 4

Image by Monfocus from Pixabay
GUACAMOLE DIP

2 ripe avocados, halved with pits removed but saved 1 tbsp. lime juice, lemon works too
¼ cup onion, chopped fine
½ cup tomato, diced
¼ tsp. salt
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped fine - optional 1 tbsp. mayo
Corn chips

Chunk avocados into a glass or ceramic bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice.

Gently stir in remaining ingredients except chips. Tuck pit deep into dip. This stops the avocado from turning dark.

Drop spoonfuls onto taco salad or use chips to dip.

Enjoy!

Here's a little more from my cozy mystery. I hope you enjoy it.

When Cheryl realizes her new next-door neighbor is someone she loved as a young girl, she immediately puts the brakes on her emotions. Never again would she allow the gorgeous hunk of a man to break her heart.

Ruggedly handsome Detective David Larkin isn’t used to pretty ladies giving him a firm no. He persists, even as Cheryl fights her own temptations. The two struggle to appreciate each other as adults, even as they admit to deep feelings from their childhood.

AMAZON BUY LINK

Read more of the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon

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.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Recipe and Read of the Month: A Welcome Break with Gingerbread Coffee Cake and the Newest Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery by Sharon Ledwith...

Face it, we all need breaks! A needed holiday a couple of times a year. A long weekend to unwind. A day off to recharge. Even when we’re working, we need to take at least fifteen minutes away from our jobs after we’ve been working non-stop for two or three hours. Hey, we’re not robots, and if our jobs require us to sit, stand, or walk around for any length of time, our bodies will eventually tire, and we lose our focus. And that could cause plenty of headaches for business owners, retail stores, and manufacturers.

Even when I’m writing a book, I make sure I include plenty of sequels between scenes. It’s kind of like a coffee break (or tea if you’re so inclined) for your reader. Scenes include plenty of activity and emotion, at times keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Sequels are devised to break the tension where there’s less activity, letting the readers’ emotions rest. I use this technique in both my young adult book series, The Last Timekeepers and Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. This way, there’s a balance between the calm and chaos in every tale I write, and doesn’t leave my reader feeling exhausted at the end of the book.

Ready for a break? How about a slice of homemade coffee cake? It’s a twist on what you would think of as seasonal baking, and trust me, this cake is great for your anticipated time out, whether you’re at work or at home working on your next novel or artistic endeavor. With a prep time of 15 minutes and a total time of 1 hour, 25 minutes, this cake serves about 24 of your closest colleagues.

Gingerbread Coffee Cake


3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tbsp. (45 mL) cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp. (15 mL) ground ginger
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground cinnamon
2 tsp. (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp. (5 mL) baking soda
½ tsp. (2 mL) each salt and ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. (1 mL) ground cloves
⅔ cup (150 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups (375 mL) sugar
3 eggs
½ cup (125 mL) molasses
1 tsp. (5 mL) vanilla extract
2 cups (500 mL) sour cream

PREHEAT oven to 350 °F (180°C).

GREASE 9 or 10 inch (23 or 25 cm) Bundt pan. Dust with flour.

IN a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.

IN a separate bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in molasses and vanilla.

SET mixer on low speed. Alternately beat in flour mixture and sour cream, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of sour cream and scraping down side of bowl as necessary.

SCRAPE batter into prepared pan, smoothing top.

BAKE until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of cake, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

LET cool completely in pan on wire rack. Invert onto serving plate. Prepare sauce to drizzle over cake.

Coffee Caramel Sauce

1½ cups (375 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) brewed coffee (brew stronger than package directions)
¼ cup (60 mL) 35% whipping cream, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ tsp. (1 mL) salt

IN a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and coffee. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is foamy, about 12 to 15 minutes.

REMOVE from heat. Stir in cream, butter and salt. Drizzle over gingerbread cake. Slice and serve.

So, now that you’ve baked to your heart’s content, it’s time for your break! Leave those dirty dishes in the sink, pour yourself a cup of your favorite hot beverage, and go curl up on the couch with one of my books. May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls? Just remember to pack lightly.

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.
Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:
Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:


Monday, 2 September 2019

Labor Day Lemony Blueberry Breakfast Bread by Chris Pavesic...

Now that all the blueberries have been harvested during August, Fantasy author Chris Pavesic has a yummy suggestion on what to do with those tasty blue treats. Take it away, Chris...

Enjoy this delicious and easy bread any time of the year. Fresh or frozen blueberries work great. Make extra, the bread freezes and thaws beautifully.

Lemony Blueberry Bread


¾ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. milk
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 oz. blueberry yogurt
1 large egg
1 tsp. almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

PREHEAT oven to 350ᵒ F.

IN a medium bowl, stir together sugar, milk, oil, yogurt, egg, and extract. In a separate bowl, combine flour with baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

IN a small bowl, toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour.

FOLD blueberries gently into batter.

POUR the batter into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for 10 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely.

Lemon Glaze (optional)

⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup white sugar

COMBINE lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and then cook an additional 3 minutes. Let glaze cool a bit. Poke small holes in the top of cake and then pour glaze over the bread before removing it from the pan.

While your home fills with a tasty aroma, indulge yourself with a good book. May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles?

In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.

In the Traveler's Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.

Time to play the game.

Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.

What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.

The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.

A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.

The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.

The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.

The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.

But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.


Want to learn more about The Revelation Chronicles? Click HERE for updates on this and the other series by Chris. Watch the video on YouTube.

  4eee6-chris2bpavesic2bauthor2bphoto

Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.

Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and her Amazon Author Page.