Thursday, December 27, 2012

Last day to get a FREE book from me!

December 27th is the last day you can download THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS for free from Amazon! Even if you don't have an eReader, you can download the free Kindle app and read it on your computer or your smartphone. It's the prequel to the USA Today bestselling THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, part of my special Holiday Bundle!

And, I'm guesting on the Heroes and Heartbreakers blog today, so stop on by and chat with me, for a chance to win the Holiday bundle!

Shirley

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

FREE book, until Dec. 27th!

For two days only (Dec. 26 and 27th), you can download THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS for FREE! If you have an eReader, or just download the free Kindle app to your smartphone or computer, grab this free novella, the prequel to the USA Today bestselling THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE series! This is one of my Sweet and Savory novels, fun, flirty reads with recipes written by the characters!

What'd you serve for Christmas dinner? I made Ina Garten's Prime Rib Roast...and it was OMG to-die-for. It's my second year making it, and I swear it gets better every year! Leftovers today, and it just makes me wish I bought a bigger roast ;-)

Have a wonderful Boxing Day!

Shirley

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas! Free Book & Holiday Bundle



First off, I want to wish all my readers a MERRY CHRISTMAS! I'm always like a little kid on the holiday--I absolutely can't wait for the day to arrive! And of course, the meal...this year, it's rib roast. I am literally drooling, anticipating that tomorrow!

For all you who get Kindles or Nooks or iTunes cards for Christmas, I wanted to let you know that THE GROOM WANTED SECONDS will be FREE for two days only, December 26th and 27th! If you download it, you get a taste of the Christmas season, along with some great recipes!


About the book: Nothing like a little breakup to remind a man why he loves a woman and what an idiot he’s been. After a clunky marriage proposal, Rebecca Wilson breaks up with Jeremy Hamilton, an engineer lacking a romance chromosome. She goes away for the summer and thinks she has found true love. When she returns with a broken heart, Jeremy seizes the opportunity to convince her to give him a second chance.

But it isn’t until he brings out his wild and fun side that Jeremy sees a dim flicker of hope for a future with Rebecca. His determination drives Rebecca to break into her secret cookie stash, hoping Thin Mints can make her forget Mr. Wrong. She’s already been burned twice before—is she ready to take a second chance on love?

The Sweet and Savory Romances will make you laugh, cry, and rev up your appetite with their hunky heroes. As a special addition, satiate your hunger—for food that is— with tried-and-true recipes written by the characters inside.
 
If you want to gift yourself, you can download my all new, limited edition Holiday Bundle of Sweet and Savory Romances, starting with the USA Today bestseller, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE! Four books in one, plenty of reading for that holiday break!
 
Merry Christmas to you and yours. I'm grateful and blessed to be surrounded by those I love, and I hope you are, too.
 
Shirley

Friday, December 21, 2012

Guest Post: Aurelia B Rowl with a New Book and Mushroom Soup!


Today, I welcome author Aurelia B Rowl, with a quick and easy Mushroom Soup recipe and a new book with an awesome cover (and I love that title, too!).

 
Matilda 'Tilly' Carter didn't think her day could get any worse, but even Christmas had just been cancelled.

The one girl Dean Watson has sworn never to have—never even expected to see again—just flared back into his life and into his home—his sanctuary—like she belonged there. Christmas would certainly be more bearable with Tilly around though…

As the chinks in Dean's armor appear, Tilly seizes the chance to win her knight once and for all. She's not about to take no for answer—not this time—but Dean must resist, even as his heart rebels and temptation threatens to undermine his resolve.

Win or lose? Love or honor? Which will Dean choose? Assuming he gets a choice…

 
 
Tears welled in her eyes, clouding her vision. She turned and wandered blindly toward the exit as the first tear escaped, forging a track down her cheek for the rest to follow. Tilly took in a lungful of air and then another. Having made a spectacle of herself once already, she really didn't want to be the cause of yet another scene.
The crowds swarmed around her, with students and family members heading home for the holidays only adding to the usual rush-hour melee of commuters. They jostled past, threatening to swallow her whole, as they rushed en mass in the opposite direction, using their briefcases and suitcases as a battering ram.
It was suffocating. She had to get out of there. Breaking into a run, broken heel or not, she raced through the doors and out into the biting December chill. Her waterlogged eyes struggled to adjust to the dark, dreary sky after the bright station lights, but she didn't dare slow down, desperate to escape the throng of festivities and merriment.
Carol singers assembled outside burst into a jovial rendition of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," full of joy and happiness. Didn't they know Christmas had just been cancelled?
"Ooof!" Tilly smacked her shin against the edge of a low bench, too dark to see as she tried to dodge the growing audience. She ended up sprawled across the bench, dropping the handle of her suitcase with a loud clatter.
At least the pain shooting down her leg gave her an excuse to be crying. Unfortunately, it meant she had to stop running too. Not good. Whenever things got too tough, too intimate, or too confrontational, you could rely on her to make a run for it. Running away was what she did best...

A tall figure loomed in the edge of her vision, something vaguely familiar about the man's loping gait. In an effort to see him more clearly, she wiped her eyes with the back of her hands, then cringed inwardly at the black streaks now etched all over them. Great. She could add impersonating a panda to her day from hell as well then.
The mascara stung her eyes, rendering her unable to focus properly. She blinked furiously as the man strode past her, talking into a mobile phone in a deep voice that resonated throughout her body and made the fine hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. A surge of adrenaline rushed to her legs, numbing the pain as her subconscious told her to run. Now! 
The cloaked figure stopped mid-stride as if he'd heard her gasp. "Mike, I've gotta go," he barked into the phone, hanging up instantly. He backtracked until he was standing right in front of her, his tone changing from a growl to one of surprise. "Basmati?"
Great. She hadn't heard the nickname for years—nine years, four months and...sixteen days, to be exact—and even then, only one person had ever actually used it. She screwed her eyes tightly shut, shaking her head from side to side. No. No way. There was absolutely no way this could be happening to her. Not now. Not today of all days... Talk about kicking a girl when she was down. Buy the book here!
 
Aurelia’s Oh-So-Simple Creamy Mushroom Soup
 This soup is so deliciously creamy and tasty, yet ridiculously easy to prepare. It can even be prepared in advance, then reheated immediately prior to serving, so is ideal for dinner parties.
 
Ingredients:
Mushrooms 1lb or more – chopped (I like to include a few field mushrooms for their colour)
Cream ¼ pint
Milk 1 pint
Plain flour 1½oz
Butter 2oz
Vegetable stock ½ pint
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms and cook for three minutes.
Sprinkle over the flour, then stir to coat the mushrooms. Stir in the vegetable stock and the milk, then bring slowly to the boil.Simmer for five-to-ten minutes.

Allow to cool, then blend – if you like your soup chunky, only blend half.
(At this point you can store soup in the fridge to reheat later) Return to the pan, then add the cream and reheat.
Serve immediately.
(Delicious with fresh, warm crusty bread).
 
Thanks so much for visiting, Aurelia! Love the recipe!

Shirley


Thursday, December 20, 2012

All New Holiday Reads!


Just in time for Christmas, I've got two new holiday reads and a cool Holiday bundle of my books! In stores now is MISTLETOE KISSES WITH THE BILLIONAIRE, the final story in the Holiday Miracles trilogy! Take a trip to Beckett's Run for a Christmas to remember!

And in my Sweet and Savory Romances series (romances with delicious recipes written by the characters), I've got THE BEAUTY CHARMED SANTA, an all-new novella featuring a few of your favorites from THE DEVIL SERVED DESIRE.

For readers new to my books or those looking for a great bundle of books to load onto your Kindle or Nook, try my limited-edition Holiday Bundle, FOUR books in one! See why readers are raving about this fun, flirty series!

Merry Christmas to all!

Shirley

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
I love cookies. I mean LOVE cookies (and cupcakes, and brownies and fudge...okay, any dessert, LOL). I try not to make cookies the rest of the year, because then I'll EAT them, but at the holidays, I go on a baking spree :-) This week, I made White Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints, Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars, and Melted Snowmen cookies.

First up was the Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars, a request from a friend after I saw it on Pinterest. They were delicious, and really easy! I bought the Peanut Butter Pretzels at Meijer--there was a plastic jar of them on the potato chip aisle, by the pretzels. I used Nestle's Chocolate Chip Cookie dough. I ate all the crumbs :-)

Next up is my White Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints, which is one of my own recipes (and is featured in Sugar and Spice). It's a favorite with my whole family, and an annually requested recipe. The kids have already eaten all the extras :-) They freeze super well, and are quick and easy. See below for the recipe.

Then I made my Melted Snowman cookies. They weren't as pretty as last year's, and that's because I used the canned Betty Crocker frosting instead of buying the pro tips at the candy and cake decorating store. I almost always forget I've got those metal cake decorating tips in the sink and grind one or more up in the garbage disposal, LOL.

Melted Snowman Cookies
 

These ones are pretty easy. I use the recipe from The Somewhat Simple blog. I use Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix (I find that works better than the refrigerated, already made kind), Then I buy the Royal Icing mix, add enough water to make it at "flood" stage, and do the decorating on top of waxed paper.

I bought the Betty Crocker black, green, orange and red icing cans this year, but would definitely recommend pro decorating  tips if you can get them. It takes a little practice, but overall, the decorating is pretty easy, especially for non-crafter like me :-)

I assembled them all on a tray for a party I'm going to tomorrow night. I was going to decorate the tray, then figured the cookies were enough decoration :-)


White Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints
(from Sugar and Spice)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I always use real vanilla)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 cup white chocolate chips
Red sugar sprinkles
 
http://www.amazon.com/Sugar-Spice-Fern-Michaels/dp/0821780476/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1355882451&sr=8-3&keywords=sugar+and+spice+bookTrust me, these ones are so good, you won’t have any left for guests (and whoever invented that rule about sharing your cookies, anyhow? It’s Christmas, indulge yourself a little). In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and the shortening with an electric mixer (or use a stand mixer and let the machine do the work), then add the sugar, powdered sugar, baking soda, cream of tarter, and the salt. Beat just until combined.

Add the egg and vanilla, then mix in the flour gradually. Cover the dough and refrigerate for three hours. I know, it’s a long wait, but it’ll be worth it later. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough into 3/4-inch balls and put them on an ungreased cookie sheet. With your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon, press a circular indentation into the center of each cookie. Drop a 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each thumbprint. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour yourself a glass of milk and get into serious cookie-eating mode. Skip lunch if you have to-there’s no way a tuna on rye can compete.

Put the white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high in 30-second bursts, stirring each time, until the chips are melted. Pour the white chocolate into a resealable plastic bag and snip off a tiny bit of one corner. Drizzle the white chocolate over the cookies. Sprinkle cookies with red sugar to add that festive flair.

Now you’re ready to indulge-don’t worry about the calories until January 1st. Makes three dozen, just enough for you and a friend!
 
Did you catch my post on the cupcakes and the Salted Caramel Shortbread I made the other week? Tell me, what cookies are you making this year? Which ones are your MUST HAVE cookies for the holidays?
 
Shirley

Monday, December 17, 2012

Terri Rochenski's new book and an Easy Appetizer!



When I first saw Ms. Jump’s blog I was thrilled. She posts about two of my passions – books and cooking. And then she offered to let me guest post … well. Beyond thrilled to say the least!

Rather than blather on about writing or my process I decided to share one thought and a little about my newest release.

As a stay-at-home mom I often get bogged down in the details of life – kids, cleaning, laundry, cooking (even thought I love it!). I’ve found it’s easy for a woman’s identity to fade, oftentimes disappear altogether into the new one of mommy, wife, and housekeeper.

Writing has always been a passion of mine – my hobby – it’s the one thing I cling to that is all mine. M.I.N.E. It’s my escape, and I nab a few minutes wherever and whenever my children allow.

Because let’s face it … they do come first.

And one of the things I enjoy doing for them, the most besides hugs and kisses of course is cooking yummy food. Seeing as how the holiday season is upon us, I decided to share my favorite go-to party recipe.

#

Dried Beef Cheese Ball

3  4oz. packages of dried beef, broken up

3  8oz. softened cream cheese

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbs. Accent Season Salt

Mix all ingredence in a bowl. Shape into a ball, cover and refrigerate. (I like making it the night before to let all the flavors mingle together.)

Easy peasy! Slap some on a cracker and yums with a capital Y.

#

Now on to my newest release.

My short story, Beginning of Forever, is in Still MomentsPublishing’s Christmas Magic Anthology which released on December 4th. It’s a collection of my historical romance and three other contemporary stories. For now it is only available as an ebook.
Here's an excerpt from Terri's new book!

Beginning of Forever by Terri Rochenski

When Wayne Edwards moves to town, Lillian Davis experiences stirrings she thought were long dead. Guilt ridden over betraying her deceased husband and the feelings Wayne inspires, Lillian reluctantly lets him in. Secrets of the past – an old promise emerges, but will it threaten their forever?

Excerpt:

I rubbed my fussing son’s back and stumbled down the hall to grab the phone. “Hello?”
“Mrs. Douglas?”
A glance at the clock and my stomach clenched. Ronnie was an hour late for our Christmas Eve dinner. “Y-yes?”
“There’s been an accident.”
Through Steven’s heightened cries and the ringing in my ears I heard my husband’s name and Anna Jacques hospital.
This isn’t real. I need to wake up.
“Mrs. Douglas?”
I swayed and slumped to my knees on the linoleum floor, struggling to keep Steven in my grasp.
The floor is cold. I’m not dreaming.

A big thanks to Shirley for inviting me. I hope you’ll try the drool-inducing cheese ball AND my book!

Terri

Here's her blog and website, for more about Terri!

Thanks for visiting, Terri!

Shirley

Friday, December 07, 2012

Salted Caramel Shortbread

I may never eat another vegetable again. I think I'm going to go the rest of my life, eating these every single meal. They are that good. Just awesomeness, in every bite.

Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
kosher salt

3 sticks butter (3/4 pound), unsalted, room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus extra
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

First, make the caramel. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour the milk into a pie plate, stir in 1/4 teaspooon kosher salt, and cover it tightly with foil. Put the pie plate in a big roasting pan, and fill it halfway up the pie plate with hot water. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, adding more water if necessary. Let cool, then whisk until smooth.

Meanwhile, make the cookies.Set the oven at 350 degrees. The butter has to be room temp for this to work well, so what I did was set the butter out first thing in the morning, make the caramel, then about 15 minutes before that was done, I made the cookies.

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer. Add the vanilla. Mix the salt with the flour, then add the dry ingredients a little at a time and mix until the dough comes together. I formed the dough into square logs (though you can make it into a plate shape and roll it out; I just hate doing cut-out cookies). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Slice or cut the dough into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick cookies (mine were like 1/3 an inch). They don't spread much, so you can get quite a few on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with reserved sugar. Bake for 20-24 minutes, switching the cookie sheets halfway through to get even cooking. Keep an eye on them because they go from perfect to burned fast.

Put wax paper under your cooling rack. Remove cookies from the oven, place on the cooling racks. Heat the caramel for 30 seconds in the microwave, then put it in a Ziploc bag and snip one end (to make a homemade pastry bag). Drizzle cookies with caramel, then sprinkle with kosher salt.
Eat. Repeat ;-)

Shirley

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Christmas Treats :-)

 
I love baking at Christmas. It's a nice excuse to have a few thousand extra calories, all in the name of a holiday, of course ;-) I know I'll be running off these calories for the rest of winter, but hey, these desserts are worth it.
Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes
 
 
I've been spending WAY too much time on Pinterest lately, pinning cupcakes and cookies and all kinds of dessert ideas. I saw these Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes and HAD to have them. Reese's are, after all, my favorite candy eva, and these were like big Reese's. They're cupcakes with buckeyes in the center, and Reese's on top.
I mean, really, what more does one need?
Not to mention, they were EASY.
PEANUT BUTTER SURPRISE CUPCAKES
Center: 1 1/2 cups Peanut butter
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectionary sugar
Mix all in a mixer (my trusty Kitchen Aid was busy tonight!) then form into balls a little smaller than 1-inch around.
 
For the cupcakes, I mixed up Devil's Food cake mix. Line your cupcake pans with liners, add a little cake mix on the bottom, put in a peanut butter ball, then top with enough cake mix to cover. Bake as directed on the box.
 
The frosting is a Peanut Butter Buttercream  (I know, the calories in this...I can't even think about them!)
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream (I used half-and-half)
4-5 cups confectionary sugar
 
Blend all in the mixer, whipping on high speed until fluffy. Add more or less cream and confectionary sugar to get the consistency you want. Frost, top with a mini Reese's, and eat!
 
 
These are the ones I made for my husband's company (along with some Kiss cookies).

Then I made these fun Santa cupcakes. It's a basic yellow cake cupcake (from my trusty Betty Crocker), topped with white buttercream (what I did was double the above recipe for buttercream, but left out the peanut butter. Frosted the Santa ones first, then mixed in the PB and frosted the Peanut Butter Surprise Cupcakes).
The legs are Twizzlers, cut in thirds. Dip in frosting, then top with black frosting boots. I sprinkled the cupcakes with white sparkles. Easy and cute!!
 
Follow me on Pinterest, or let me know if you're a foodie like me and I'll follow you! Also, look for info soon about a new book!
 
I'm off to have cupcakes and milk! :-)
 
Shirley

Monday, December 03, 2012

Welcome Vicki Bateman and Not Your Grandma's Fruit Cake recipe!

Today, I'm thrilled to have Vicki Bateman on my blog, along with her recipe for Not Your Grandma's Fruit Cake (this one sounds so yummy, I'm going to have to try it for sure! I mean, how can you go wrong dipping ANYTHING in chocolate?) Welcome, Vicki!
She's also got a Christmas release, Twinkle Lights, out now!

Recipe: It Ain't Your Grandma's Fruit Cake
Fruit cake is maligned. And I'm here to make it delectable for everyone (and they won't even know it is fruitcake).

A good fruit cake (I use Collin Street Bakery)
Wilton Dark Cocoa Candy Melts
Wax paper
Drying rack


Cut the cake into bite-sized chunks. (Be sure to occasionally clean your knife).

In a microwavable bowl, pour in candy melts. Prepare according to directions.

Set cooling rack on top of sheet of waxed paper. Take a chunk of cake and dip into melted cocoa. Be sure all sides are coated.
Once cake is covered in cocoa, set on rack for cocoa to solidfy.

When cocoa is hardened, remove from rack and store in airtight container. Set in fridge. Will keep for a while.

Makes a lot of treats. Don't tell your guests what it is. They think they're eating an exotic dessert.

Look for her book at any major etailer, and also find out more about Vicki at:
 






 
Thanks for visiting, Vicki!

Shirley