Posts Tagged ‘cowboys’

FIRST KISS=TUESDAY from SWEET HOME COWBOY by Marin Thomas #NEWRELEASE

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

SWEET HOME COWBOY

Love at the Chocolate Shop, Book 9

 Sweet Home Cowboy cover

When Marietta newcomer Elena Puente is coerced into attending a speed-dating event at the popular Copper Mountain Chocolate shop, she’s blindsided by a serious attraction to local cowboy, Wesley Banks.

Still recovering from a broken engagement, the first-grade teacher from Las Vegas isn’t looking for romance. She’s in Montana to get to know the great-grandfather she never knew existed until she found some hidden family letters. Judge Kingsley is a grouchy recluse and he’s far from welcoming, but Elena is determined to stay in town long enough to give his neglected estate on Bramble Lane a facelift.

Elena’s resolve to avoid romance is tested when she discovers Wesley is the caretaker of her grandfather’s rural property. Soon, she and the cowboy are attending more speed-dating events at the chocolate shop and she’s seeking his advice on how to deal with his ornery boss. Local gossips wager the old Judge will run Elena out of town before anything serious develops between her and Wesley. But Wesley’s a determined man, too, and he’s betting Elena belongs in Marietta forever…with him.

FIRST KISS Excerpt © Marin Thomas:

             Wes pointed to the river where Elena’s bobber went under the water. “You caught a fish.” He set his pole aside. Wrapping his arms around her, he placed his hands over hers before turning the reel slowly—very slowly, savoring the feel of Elena against him.

            “Where’s the fish?” she asked. “I can’t see it.”
“Shh… It’s there.” He could stay right here in this moment with Elena all day and never tire of touching her. When he turned the reel twice more, a small trout rose out of the water.

            “I caught one!” She jerked the pole too hard, and the fish plopped into the water. “What happened?”

            “Your excitement scared him off the hook.” Wes loved staring into her eyes—blue as a clear Montana sky. Her gaze lured him closer but right when her mouth was within reach, the judge’s voice rang out. They jumped apart and Elena dropped the pole, which fell into the water and was swept away by the current.

            Elena climbed to her feet. “Hello, Gramps.”

            Gramps?

            The judge’s mouth twitched as if he found the endearment amusing.

            “I thought you were spending all day in court?” She left Wes at the end of the dock and walked over to her grandfather.

            “Two of my cases were rescheduled.” The judge eyed Wes as he approached. “Are you going to finish mowing the yard or sit out here and fish all day?”

            Wes opened his mouth to respond, but his boss turned on his heel and disappeared through the gate in the hedge.

            Elena retrieved the tackle box and surviving pole, then stopped at his side. “I’ll take a rain check on that kiss.”

            He grasped her wrist. “I don’t give out rain checks.”

            “Then maybe you should pay up now.” The pupils in her eyes dilated, leaving only a sliver of blue visible.

            “Gladys Simons is still on her porch.”

            “Then we’ll give her something to watch,” she whispered.

            Wes brushed his mouth against Elena’s not once but twice before he pulled away.

            “Is that all you’ve got?” she teased.

            He cupped her face, tilted her head to the side then he swooped in and kissed her again—not a flirty peck, but a long, soft exploration of her mouth that left them breathing hard. “How was that?”

            “Much better.”

            Wes watched her fanny twitch back and forth as he followed her through the gate.

~~~

SWEET HOME COWBOY is available at these vendors:

AmazonUS / AmazonUK /

 Kobo / iBooks

All vendors: BOOKS2READ

Happy reading!

Deb

FIRST KISS=TUESDAY (from THE COWBOY NEXT DOOR by Roxanne Snopek)

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

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Roxanne MBB-smallPlease welcome one of my Tule Publishing sisters, the delightful Roxanne Snopek to First Kiss=Tuesday. I’m excited to share two of Roxanne’s connected books this month. Today, you’ll read a darling snippet from THE COWBOY NEXT DOOR (Book 3 in the This Old House series), and releasing in two weeks will be Book 4: CINDERELLA’S COWBOY.

Here’s Roxanne to give you the set up for this scene:

Hello readers! I’m delighted to share with you a brief First Kiss scene from THE COWBOY NEXT DOOR. This is actually a “sort-of” First Kiss scene, as you’ll see soon, but I hope it conveys the push-pull of their growing relationship as well as the humor that runs between these characters.

My hero, Eric Anders, is worried because Jackson, the old dog next door, showed up at his place alone and is now leading him and his own dog, Blue-Girl, out into the pasture, apparently searching for someone.

Night is falling and Eric thinks he hears Leda, the girl he can’t stop thinking about. He fears she’s out here somewhere, lost, cold or hurt.


 

TCND-snopek-MEDIUM

 

THE COWBOY NEXT DOOR

by Roxanne Snopek

 

A shiver ran down his spine. Coyotes could sound like women crying, babies crying, too, luring out unsuspecting, curious dogs. A pack of them would make short work of Jackson.

“Come here, buddy, stay close,” he said. The dog complied.

But what if it wasn’t coyotes? What if it was a woman? Or a child?

What if it was a woman, a child, and coyotes?

He stepped up his pace. It could only be Melinda or Leda. And Mel would never do something like that to Austin.

That left Leda. Who had no one looking out for her.

Even if she’d just gone for a walk and gotten turned around, even without coyotes or wolves or bears or jagged rocks and hidden logs to stumble over, darkness would fall quickly and with it, the temperature.

“Hello?” he called. “Can you hear me?”

Instantly, the sound stopped. Then it started up again, changed and very, very recognizable.

Leda. And she was mad.

Unlike her usual Gollum dig-it language, this was the real meal deal. Curses of every color floated over the evening air, creative, expressive and sometimes hilarious.

But definitely the adult version. Nothing sanitized here. Such nasty words to come from such a sweet mouth. The intrigue he couldn’t help feeling around her turned to something else. Something more.

Something dangerous.

She might be spouting r-rated language, but she was just a kid. A kid with a kid, someone he had no business feeling… intrigued… about.

“Go away!”

His heart slipped. She was definitely crying. Crying and cursing at the same time. That was never good.

The words came from a gully to the left of the trail, he thought.

“Come on, Jackson.”

They wound their way along the rocky ground and suddenly, there she was, huddled against a mossy rock.

Sobbing.

“Leda!” He was on his knees beside her before he knew what he was doing. “What’s wrong, honey? Are you hurt?”

“Go away!”

She was shivering. He shucked off his jacket and set it on her shoulders, where it hung like a tablecloth.

“I don’t need you,” she said, her voice hitching.

Jackson pressed against her side, nudging her with his muzzle. She put her arm around him and he crept halfway onto her lap. Good. The dog would help warm her up.

Eric sat down on her other side. The rock was still warm from the sun but the ground beneath them was cool. He lifted his face to the sky and took a deep breath.

“Nice out here, isn’t it?” he said.

He could feel her body beside his, her slender thigh running alongside his own leg. She was vibrating.

“What?”

He adjusted his position and casually slung his arm across her shoulders. He felt like the kid in a movie theater, pretending to stretch so he could get closer to his date. Only this time, he was doing it to keep her warm.

And maybe keep her from bolting.

“The sky. The air. Smells good. And look at those colors.”

“I came out here to be alone, you know.”

“I don’t know. I’m only here because of Jackson.”

She put her face down and kissed the dog’s head. “Sweetie boy. Come here, Blue-Girl. You’re a good girl, too.”

“Oh sure,” said Eric. “The dogs get kissed. I on the other hand, don’t get so much as a civil word. That hurts my feelings.”

She sniffed, but some of the tension left her body.

“You sounded like a pack of coyotes.”

At that, Leda lifted her head. She turned to face him, which put her once more well within kissing range. Inches away, it seemed. Her eyes shone in the light of the setting sun, her lashes damp, her lips swollen.

All very kissable.

“Coyotes, huh?” One eyebrow lifted, as did one corner of her mouth, but she didn’t move away.

“Rabid ones, maybe.”

He moved closer. It would be a shame to waste an opportunity like this, after all. She needed comforting. It would be a comforting kiss, nothing more.

“That might have been safer,” she murmured. Her eyes dropped to his mouth. “For you.”

The dogs squirmed then and knocked against Leda’s shoulder. Her face collided with his, in a cheek-bumping, tooth-clattering connection that was nothing like a kiss.

“Ow!” Leda sat back, and put her hand to her mouth. “You bit my lip!”

“I most certainly did not!” He ran his tongue over his bottom lip and tasted salt. “You bit mine.”

Heat ran through Eric like an electrical current, the touch of her mouth on his like lightning, leaving him smoking and shaken. If that’s what an accidental kiss felt like, what would a real, full-on kiss feel like?

Jackson lifted his head. With one swipe of his enormous tongue, he French-kissed them both and the moment was broken.

A bloody lip will do that.

##

Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Cowboy-Next-Door-This-House-ebook/dp/B00SS19ECS/

Amazon UK:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cowboy-Next-Door-This-House-ebook/dp/B00SS19ECS/

Amazon Australia:

http://www.amazon.com.au/Cowboy-Next-Door-This-House-ebook/dp/B00SS19ECS/

Amazon Canada:

http://www.amazon.ca/Cowboy-Next-Door-This-House-ebook/dp/B00SS19ECS/


What a kick! French-kissed by a dog. That has to be a first FIRST KISS=TUESDAY. I love it!

Thanks, Roxanne. Now, we can’t wait to see what you give us next. 

Deb

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Yvonne Lindsay’s Shortbread + “For Love of a Cowboy”

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

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Food=love in my books. Today’s recipe belongs to Yvonne Lindsay–Author #3 in the marvelous “Big Marietta Fair” line-up.

Her book, For Love of a Cowboy, is on SALE, as part of a Kindle Countdown for the next five days. If you missed it the first time around, grab it now for just 99¢.

Since my arm is still in a cast and editing blogs taxes all ten fingers, I decided to reprise Yvonne’s wonderful recipe and snippet today. Enjoy!

Welcome, Yvonne.

yvonne 10 copy

I had such a lot of fun writing FOR LOVE OF A COWBOY. I’m a big fan of the “opposites attract” trope and love the twists and turns these opposing characters take me on. In FOR LOVE OF A COWBOY, a superstitious hippie-chick from New Zealand meets up with a taciturn Montana cowboy and, oh boy, do sparks fly!

Shortbread
Author: 
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: Universal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
This is one of my favorite quick and easy baking recipes. I hope you enjoy it.
Ingredients
  • 8ozs (225g) butter
  • 4 ozs (125g) powdered sugar (we call it icing sugar here in New Zealand)
  • 4 ozs (125g) cornflour
  • 8 ozs (225g) standard flour
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar well, add sifted flour and cornflour.
  2. Knead well, roll out to ½ to ¾ inch thick (12mm to 18mm).
  3. Cut into pieces, place on greased baking tray (or baking paper on baking tray) and bake about 30 minutes at 300 deg F (150 deg C).
  4. Yum!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00050]

For Love of a Cowboy

by

Yvonne Lindsay

     A flash of movement from beside the road startled her, forcing her to instinctively swerve to the left and jam on the brakes. The VW shuddered to a halt even as the stag bounded away with its white rump a flash of brilliance in the darkening evening. The beast had been magnificent, its russet brown coat and lighter underbelly at odds with the black markings on its head. She watched until she could see it no longer then let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Chinese folklore said deer were lucky. The buck was a sign, she was sure of it. She was on the right route and when she got to Marietta she’d find what she’d been searching for all her life. Nothing else mattered but that.

     The thought filled her with hope and she took her foot from the brake and began moving toward her destiny once more. Right up until a swath of blinding lights whipped around the corner ahead and appeared to be coming straight at her. Huh? That wasn’t right. Again she swerved, harder to the left this time, and all but stood on her brakes to avoid a collision. She might have missed the other vehicle but she wasn’t quite so lucky when it came to the ditch that bordered the road, or the trees that lined it. The bus lurched to one side with a bone-jarring jolt, coming to a halt at an angle—half on the road and half off it.

     Before Willow could take an inventory of either herself or Daisy, the passenger door was pulled open. The aperture filled with broad shoulders, a large black Stetson and a hulk of intimidating male.

     “Are you all right?” the guy demanded.

     His voice was deep and gravelly, as if he didn’t talk much, and an equal mix of testosterone and what she thought was anger poured off him.

     “No thanks to you,” she retaliated as she gingerly felt the rapidly growing bump on the side of her head where she’d struck the door pillar and the matching one on her hip where her cell phone usually resided in her pocket. Come to think of it, her whole left side was becoming one almighty ache.

     “Me?” he replied. “I wasn’t the one driving on the wrong side of the road.”

     Willow started to protest but then belatedly realized she was wasting her time. He was right. She had been on the wrong side of the road. She hadn’t corrected after she’d seen that buck. Instead, thanks to a mix of tiredness and inattention she’d carried on driving as if she were still back home in New Zealand. She gave herself a sharp mental slap and groaned out loud. Some sign the buck had turned out to be.

     “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I—”

     “Too damn right you weren’t thinking. Who declared you and this thing fit for the road anyway?”

     “There’s no need to be mean to Daisy,” she protested as she fought to unclip her seatbelt and clamber out of the bus. No easy task given that Daisy was doing her own impression of the Leaning Tower of Pisa right now.

     “Daisy?” the guy started, then clearly noticed the chain of hand-painted daisies on the side of the van. He rolled his eyes and muttered, “Never mind.”

     A large hand thrust toward her. Willow shrunk back, earning a growl of irritation from her rescuer.

     “Take my hand. It’ll make it easier to climb out.”

     She gingerly reached forward. Strong fingers clasped hers. She gasped at the heat that transferred from his hand to her own. At the tingling sensation that began where their hands melded and then traveled the length of her arm. She must have hit her head harder than she’d thought.

     “You okay?” he asked. “Do you think you broke something?”

     Nothing more than what little pride she had left, she thought ruefully. “N-no, I’m fine.”

     She pushed herself up and, aided by his steady strength, climbed out of the van. She pulled her hand free from his the moment she was able—fought the urge to wipe her palm down over her cutoff denim shorts to get rid of the residual tingle that remained there.

     Willow ruefully studied Daisy. “I don’t suppose you have a rope there, cowboy? D’ya think you could pull her out?” she asked, raising her face to meet his gaze for the first time.

     Oh, she thought, taking a big step backward. He was tall and—she did a quick inventory—built. She’d already had the impression of size about him but now, face to face? That was something else. Her eyes flicked over the way his softly worn black T-shirt stretched across his shoulders and muscled chest and tapered to where it was tucked in at the waistband of equally well-worn jeans cinched with a belt complete with a big bold buckle. Yeah, he was built all right. Everywhere.

     Willow swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat and forced herself not to lift a hand to fiddle with her braids like she always did when she was nervous. Nervous? Hell, she didn’t know whether to be nervous, grateful or just flat-out turned on. Her body decided on the latter.

~~~

Buy For Love of a Cowboy right: HERE.

Happy reading!

DEB

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Deb Salonen’s Watermelon Salad (from NOBODY’S COWBOY)

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

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Food=love in my books.

Since my new book, NOBODY’S COWBOY, releases on Friday, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a recipe from the book. This strange and wonderful melange of flavors isn’t the only surprise my hero, Austen Zabrinski, has coming when he meets my heroine, Serena James. He also learns the difference between an alpaca and a llama…and he picks up a few tips on how to be warm and wonderful human being. (Important for those of you who read Cowgirl Come Home and thought Austen was a royal pain in the arse.)

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 From Nobody’s Cowboy:

Austen took his sister by the shoulders. “You can fix my life after your’s is back on track, Meeps. Not before.”

She smiled sadly. “Good point. Sorry if I was out of line, Serena.”

Serena grabbed a paper plate and served up two zucchini wedges, adding a dollop of her special sour cream dill sauce, and a serving of watermelon salad on the side. “No worries. Here. Your kids loved these.”

Mia started to shake her head, but after a stern frown from Austen, she dropped her giant purse in a deck chair and took the plate. “Even Em?”

“Even Em. And that salad is crazy good.”

Mia picked out a hunk of fruit, pausing to examine it. “Is this feta cheese? Weird.”

She popped it in her mouth and chewed. Her eyes went wide and she grinned. “Yummy.”

She tried the zucchini next.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Watermelon Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
This strange and wonderful melange of flavors isn't the only surprise my poor hero, Austen Zabrinski has coming when he meets my heroine, Serena James.
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • One 8-pound seedless watermelon, scooped into balls with a melon baller or cut into 1½-inch chunks (10 cups), chilled
  • ½ pound feta cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
  • 1¼ cups pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 1 small sweet onion, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt, Tabasco and pepper. Add the watermelon, feta, olives and onion and toss gently. Garnish with the mint and serve.

NobodysCowboy-MEDIUM

NOBODY’S COWBOY

A snippet from Chapter 2:

“Your neighbor? A grizzled cowboy with leathery skin and a permanent squint?”

She pictured Austen Zabrinski. “Not even close.” The distinctive banging sound of her back door made her drop the wheelbarrow handles and start toward the house. “Speaking of the devil… I have to go. Thanks for calling and thinking of me. Love you.”

She pocketed her phone and jogged across the open turn-around, her boots making a shish-shish sound on the hard ground. Her truck was parked under the sprawling cottonwood.

Three things struck her straight off. Ugly green wasn’t ugly on him. Borrowed jeans couldn’t hide his great butt. And he’d left his filthy jeans and shirt on the table as she’d asked. The small concession made her happy–even if it meant washing stinky, ‘paca poop pants.

She might have claimed environmental responsibility but the best part of washing Austen Zabrinski’s pants was being able to return them in person at some later date.

“Ready to go?”

He nodded. The cloudless sunshine made what she’d assumed were artful highlights in his hair look like the real deal. Damn, the man got more gorgeous every time she looked.

“My foreman should be getting back from Livingston any minute. When he sees my horse, he’ll call my cell. When I don’t answer, he’ll probably send out a search party.”

She motioned for him to follow. “Not memorizing phone numbers has to be the worst part of becoming dependent on cell phones.”

“Agreed. That and spending way too much time staring at a tiny screen. Believe me, it’s tempting not to replace the damn thing.”

She thought she detected an odd hint of defeat in his statement. What’s his story?

Since they’d practically had sex–in her mind–she decided to ask.

Once he was seated with his safety belt snug across his flat belly, she turned the key in the ignition and put the truck in gear.

“So, fill me in. You own a ranch your brother called a tax write-off. You’ve as much as admitted you’re nobody’s cowboy. You wear three-hundred-dollar jeans. I don’t see a wedding ring. Your nose is sunburned. So I take that to mean you don’t have a wife or live-in girlfriend to remind you to put on sunscreen.”

He let out a gruff cough. “Very observant. The jeans are two years old.”

“But look brand new.”

“I don’t–didn’t–come to the ranch very often in the past.”

She waited.

“No wife. Never married. My last… friend-with-benefits wanted more than I’m in a position to give at the moment. I’m not sure we’re still friends. But I’m positive the benefits have been canceled.”

She’d always been a sucker for smart men with a sense of humor. The leftover dewy feeling in her crotch–and the fact she was a stranger in a stranger land–made her bold. “So, if someone new to the area was interested in that sort of position–friends-with-benefits-no-strings-attached–how would one apply? Online? Or in person?”

He tossed back his head and gave a deep, masculine laugh that sent a stream of shivers down her spine, pooling conveniently in her already primed lady parts. Her hands tightened on the steering wheel.

Since they’d reached the end of her driveway and had no traffic behind her, she threw the shifter into park and turned to face him.

Before she could offer any slightly embarrassed disclaimer for such an obvious come on, he released the latch on his safety belt and moved closer.

“In person. I go with my gut. Usually one kiss will do. Either there’s chemistry or there’s not.”

“Chemistry. Crap. My least favorite subject in school. But I do like kissing.”

She leaned in, too.

#

Austen could have come up with a dozen–make that a trillion–reasons not to kiss this beautiful stranger. But, for all his reputed logic and claims he was a rule maker, not a rule breaker, he was lonely. And… as much as it killed him to admit the fact, he’d had reached a point where he was unsure of what to do next. Him. Rudderless. Now, living in the moment seemed like the only rational choice he had.

Besides… she offered. It wouldn’t be neighborly to turn her down. Right?

~~~~

I can’t wait to share this book with you! Please mark your calendar.  This book will go on sale Friday, 8/29/14, for the special “release date” price of 99¢ (72 hours only).

Bon appetit and happy reading!

DEB

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Barbara Ankrum’s BLUE RIBBON LEMON MERINGUE PIE

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

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Food=love in my books. Today’s mouthwatering recipe belongs to best selling author Barbara Ankrum. Author of A FAIR TO REMEMBER, book #5 in the marvelous “Big Marietta Fair” line-up.

 

 247477“You might call A FAIR TO REMEMBER a best friends-to-lovers story, but I prefer to call this one a do-over story of opportunities missed.  I love do-over stories because they are really about finding resolution, which most of us never get in real life. But Jake and Olivia, of A FAIR TO REMEMBER, do get that chance, when they meet up 12 years after leaving Marietta, Montana, to fulfill a silly, pinky-swear promise to meet up at the Fair when she turns 30 to be each other’s fall back person. And that’s when it really gets interesting!” ~ Barbara

 

 

 

BLUE RIBBON LEMON MERINGUE PIE
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
What fair experience would be complete without checking out the baked goods competition?
Ingredients
  • Pastry
  • 1 cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
  • Filling
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 2 drops yellow food color, if desired
  • Meringue
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. • 1 In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
  2. • 2 Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.
  3. • 3 Heat oven to 475°F. With floured rolling pin, roll pastry into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown; cool on cooling rack.
  4. • 4 Reduce oven temperature to 400°F. In small bowl, beat egg yolks with fork. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.
  5. • 5 Immediately stir at least half of hot mixture into egg yolks; stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Boil and stir 2 minutes; remove from heat. Stir in butter, lemon peel, lemon juice and food color. Pour into pie crust.
  6. • 6 In medium bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not underbeat. Beat in vanilla. Spoon onto hot pie filling. Spread over filling, carefully sealing meringue to edge of crust to prevent shrinking or weeping.
  7. • 7 Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until meringue is light brown. Cool away from draft 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate cooled pie until serving. Store in refrigerator.

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Excerpt from A FAIR TO REMEMBER

by Barbara Ankrum

“Enough about me,” Olivia said. “Tell me why you’re still single after all these years?”

 Jake picked up another flat rock and skipped it across the water. It bounced to the middle of the moonlit river and disappeared. “I was no monk.”

 “So,” she said, trying to lighten the mood, “tell me about your most inappropriate relationship.”

 He looked at her like she was crazy. “No.”

 “C’mon. You already know about mine.”

No.”

She bit her lip. “Are you saying there were no inappropriate relationships?”

“I’m saying I’m not discussing them with you.”

His gaze landed on her mouth where it lingered for a moment before returning to her eyes. His nostrils flared slightly and she knew what he was thinking. He was thinking exactly what she was thinking.  Of its own accord, her tongue darted out to moisten her lips.

Was it self-preservation that they both looked away at once? But just when she thought she’d dodged a bullet, back he came.

“You scared of me, Liv?”

 “What? No.” She gave a nervous laugh like that was the last thing she could possibly be. Nervous. Phhhfftt!

He sighed, then reached down to pull off a boot.

“What are you doing?” she inquired.

 “Take off your clothes.”

Instinctively, she clamped her hands across her chest. “What?”

“C’mon. Not all your clothes. Just your dress. Your boots. Let’s go swimming.”

“Now?”

“We’ve done it a million times here.” Off came his other boot. “C’mon.”

Off came the black T-shirt over the holy-crikee ripped muscles of his torso. She inhaled at the sight of the new-to-her tats that covered one shoulder and forearm.

He followed her gaze and grinned. “Or are you scared of that, too?”

Oh, yes. She was definitely, definitely scared of that.

The owl they’d been listening to flapped across the water with low, swooping beats of its huge wings, barely skimming the surface of the river.

 “I-I’m still a little drunk and, obviously, I-I don’t have a bathing suit.”

“When did you get so prissy? Underwear always sufficed before. When naked wasn’t appropriate.” He grinned and loosened the button on the top of his jeans and she heard the toe-curling sound of his zipper sliding down.

“We only did that once when we were fourteen and it was pitch black.” She watched the smooth, thick muscles of his back bunch and move beneath his skin like quicksilver as he slid off his jeans. He was wearing boxer briefs that outlined each and every sexy muscle in his thighs and backside, a view that made her mouth go dry.

He gestured at the dark night with one hand. “C’mon. It’s hot. And since you’ve put the nix on discussion of what’s got you so spooked, what’s a little swim between friends? When do we ever get this place all to ourselves, anyway?” Jake waded in a few steps then dove underwater.

Grown men and women cannot be friends,” her sister Kate had declared once when Olivia had mentioned her relationship with Jake as a perfect example of male-female friendship, “because, in the sage words of Harry Burns to Meg Ryan’s Sally, ‘the sex part always gets in the way.’”

A warm rush of longing shuddered through her as she watched him shimmer under the surface of the water. Kate was right.

The sex part was a problem.

He shot straight up out of the water and gasped, the water sparkling in his hair.

Definitely a problem.

                   BUY HERE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

More good reading to share from my friend, Donna Fasano:

The Merry-Go-Round
by Donna Fasano

When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind…stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she’s not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane. As if Lauren’s personal life isn’t chaotic enough, this slightly jaded attorney is overrun with a cast of quirky characters who can’t stay on the right side of the law. What’s a woman to do? She can allow life to spin her in circles forever. Or she can reach out and grab the brass ring.

USA Today Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has written over 30 romance and women’s fiction books that have sold 4 million copies worldwide. Look for Ehefrau auf Zeit (German Edition) due out September 16th, published by Amazon Crossing, and the first novel of the brand new 3-book Ocean City Boardwalk Series called Following His Heart, due to be released at the end of October.

Happy reading!

DEB

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Katherine Garbera’s Spoonbread

Monday, August 11th, 2014

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Food=love in my books. Today’s recipe belongs to USA Today best selling author Katherine Garbera. Author of HER SUMMER COWBOY, book #4 in the marvelous “Big Marietta Fair” line-up.

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Her book, Her Summer Cowboy, is out NOW.

I’m presently laid up with a broken wrist, and Kathy’s book got me through the ER wait. Love her characters. Really enjoying this connection to Nashville, too. And wait till you try her spoonbread! It tastes like you know good ol’ Southern food oughta taste.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Spoon Bread
Author: 
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: Universal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels or one 10-ounce package frozen corn, thawed
  • ¾ cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, bring 2 cups of the milk and the corn to a boil.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining milk and the cornmeal. Whisking constantly, slowly add the mixture to the boiling milk. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter, thyme, salt, pepper, and eggs.
  4. Transfer to a buttered casserole or cast-iron skillet. Bake until golden and set, about 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Excerpt from HER SUMMER COWBOY

by Katherine Garbera

 

He’d followed her to cheer her up, yeah, right, his body said.  He’d followed her in the hopes of claiming this kiss.  He had expected to seduce it out of her with laughter and maybe some of his country charm.  Not from sympathy.

 But he’d take it.  God, she felt good in his arms.  He pulled her closer felt the way her curves settled against the hard planes of his body and remembered what it felt to be living.

He’d existed for too long.  Too long.  But tonight he didn’t have to think about any of that.  In fact the way her tongue brushed over his and her hands skimmed down his back and pulled him closer made him stop.

Her lips were soft and she tasted of iced tea and summertime.  She moved against him like the branches of the willow tree in the wind.  Brushing against him and retreating as her hands clutched at him and the kiss took on a life of it’s own.

His blood ran hot and heavy.  Her skin was soft under the touch of his fingers as he caressed her neck and jaw.  He pulled back and looked at her in the moonlight.  There was a slight pink flush to her cheeks and her lips were swollen a little from their kiss.

“Um…that was unexpected,” she said.

“A nice surprise,” he said, keeping his arms around her.  She was like the lightening bugs that flicked and flittered around them.  He knew if he didn’t keep her close she’d drift away from him.

Hell, even holding her, he knew she wasn’t his for long.  She was probably kissing him to distract herself from whatever it was that had driven her away from the party.  He didn’t want to be a dumb cowboy like Lisa had called him.  Falling for a woman who was just using him as a distraction.

And it was too soon for that anyway.  But his body was saying don’t let go.  And his mind was saying that he could like her.

“Yes, it was.  Listen, I’m not going to lie to you, Hudson,” she said, reaching up to stroke her finger over his jaw.  “You look like sex on a stick and there is something so appealing about the thought of burning up the sheets with you.”

“I’d say hell, yeah, but I can sense a but coming.”

 She gave him that sad sweet smile of hers.  “I don’t want to see either of us get hurt and being on tour with Gramps and singing those old songs is stirring up emotions I have been pretending didn’t exist for a long time.”

He nodded.  He knew that.  He’d heard it in her voice when she’d sang earlier at the dress rehearsal.  He’d seen it in the way she’d smiled at the crew and the band and acted like she as enjoying herself but the truth in her eyes showed she had some apprehension.  But he’d tasted something in her kiss that told him she might want to pretend he was a distraction except that he wasn’t too sure that was all he was.

 “I don’t mind letting you use me.”

He wasn’t too sure where he was going to end up at the end of the summer.  Marietta he knew.  But on the ranch with his dad, who knew?  He had the old ranch foreman’s house that was his own.  But he wondered if he’d be truly welcome out there.  Maybe he’d have to start fresh with a new place.  Somewhere out on Highway 89.  But this back-up country singer, Emma wasn’t going to figure in his life then.  He knew it, suspected she did as well.

“We’re summer strangers, Emma.  We can stay polite acquaintances or make ourselves something more.  That all depends on what we want.  I don’t want to hurt you either,” he said.

She flexed her fingers around his arms and went up on tiptoe and kissed him hard and deep.  Every nerve ending in his body jumped to attention and he felt himself harden as she drew her closer. Her arms slipped up his back and she held him fiercely.

There was more passion in that kiss than he’d felt in a long time.

 She pulled back, putting her hands on her hips and tipping her head to the side so that her long hair blew in the breeze.  “Strangers?  I don’t think so.  There’s something between us.  I guess as long as we both know it’s just for summer we’ll be okay.”

“You think?” he asked.  Damn, his voice sounded rusty and husky and he knew that was because of the way she’d made a mockery of his control and turned him on.

All he could really think about was how short that skirt was and how easy it would be to slip his hand up underneath it as he drew her closer to him and gave her back the kiss she’d just taken from him

“I do,” she said.

“What are we going to do about it?” he asked.  “I’ve got a few ideas.”

She threw her head back and laughed.  The sweet sound echoed around them and warmed the cold places in his heart.

“I bet you do.  I was thinking we’d just let it flow.  See what happens.  Worse comes to worse all you’ll be to me is my summer cowboy,” she said.

Her summer cowboy.  He could handle that.  He’d never had anything in his life that wasn’t temporary.  He was used to drifting along through peoples lives and making a new place for himself every few months.

 

BUY HERE

 

Happy reading!

DEB

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Yvonne Lindsay’s Shortbread “For Love of a Cowboy” deal

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

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Food=love in my books. Today’s recipe belongs to Yvonne Lindsay–Author #3 in the marvelous “Big Marietta Fair” line-up.

Her book, For Love of a Cowboy, is on SALE, as part of a Kindle Countdown for the next five days. If you missed it the first time around, grab it now for just 99¢.

Since my arm is still in a cast and editing blogs taxes all ten fingers, I decided to reprise Yvonne’s wonderful recipe and snippet today. Enjoy!

Welcome, Yvonne.

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I had such a lot of fun writing FOR LOVE OF A COWBOY. I’m a big fan of the “opposites attract” trope and love the twists and turns these opposing characters take me on. In FOR LOVE OF A COWBOY, a superstitious hippie-chick from New Zealand meets up with a taciturn Montana cowboy and, oh boy, do sparks fly!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Shortbread
Author: 
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: Universal
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
This is one of my favorite quick and easy baking recipes. I hope you enjoy it.
Ingredients
  • 8ozs (225g) butter
  • 4 ozs (125g) powdered sugar (we call it icing sugar here in New Zealand)
  • 4 ozs (125g) cornflour
  • 8 ozs (225g) standard flour
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar well, add sifted flour and cornflour.
  2. Knead well, roll out to ½ to ¾ inch thick (12mm to 18mm).
  3. Cut into pieces, place on greased baking tray (or baking paper on baking tray) and bake about 30 minutes at 300 deg F (150 deg C).
  4. Yum!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00050]

For Love of a Cowboy

by

Yvonne Lindsay

     A flash of movement from beside the road startled her, forcing her to instinctively swerve to the left and jam on the brakes. The VW shuddered to a halt even as the stag bounded away with its white rump a flash of brilliance in the darkening evening. The beast had been magnificent, its russet brown coat and lighter underbelly at odds with the black markings on its head. She watched until she could see it no longer then let out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Chinese folklore said deer were lucky. The buck was a sign, she was sure of it. She was on the right route and when she got to Marietta she’d find what she’d been searching for all her life. Nothing else mattered but that.

     The thought filled her with hope and she took her foot from the brake and began moving toward her destiny once more. Right up until a swath of blinding lights whipped around the corner ahead and appeared to be coming straight at her. Huh? That wasn’t right. Again she swerved, harder to the left this time, and all but stood on her brakes to avoid a collision. She might have missed the other vehicle but she wasn’t quite so lucky when it came to the ditch that bordered the road, or the trees that lined it. The bus lurched to one side with a bone-jarring jolt, coming to a halt at an angle—half on the road and half off it.

     Before Willow could take an inventory of either herself or Daisy, the passenger door was pulled open. The aperture filled with broad shoulders, a large black Stetson and a hulk of intimidating male.

     “Are you all right?” the guy demanded.

     His voice was deep and gravelly, as if he didn’t talk much, and an equal mix of testosterone and what she thought was anger poured off him.

     “No thanks to you,” she retaliated as she gingerly felt the rapidly growing bump on the side of her head where she’d struck the door pillar and the matching one on her hip where her cell phone usually resided in her pocket. Come to think of it, her whole left side was becoming one almighty ache.

     “Me?” he replied. “I wasn’t the one driving on the wrong side of the road.”

     Willow started to protest but then belatedly realized she was wasting her time. He was right. She had been on the wrong side of the road. She hadn’t corrected after she’d seen that buck. Instead, thanks to a mix of tiredness and inattention she’d carried on driving as if she were still back home in New Zealand. She gave herself a sharp mental slap and groaned out loud. Some sign the buck had turned out to be.

     “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. I—”

     “Too damn right you weren’t thinking. Who declared you and this thing fit for the road anyway?”

     “There’s no need to be mean to Daisy,” she protested as she fought to unclip her seatbelt and clamber out of the bus. No easy task given that Daisy was doing her own impression of the Leaning Tower of Pisa right now.

     “Daisy?” the guy started, then clearly noticed the chain of hand-painted daisies on the side of the van. He rolled his eyes and muttered, “Never mind.”

     A large hand thrust toward her. Willow shrunk back, earning a growl of irritation from her rescuer.

     “Take my hand. It’ll make it easier to climb out.”

     She gingerly reached forward. Strong fingers clasped hers. She gasped at the heat that transferred from his hand to her own. At the tingling sensation that began where their hands melded and then traveled the length of her arm. She must have hit her head harder than she’d thought.

     “You okay?” he asked. “Do you think you broke something?”

     Nothing more than what little pride she had left, she thought ruefully. “N-no, I’m fine.”

     She pushed herself up and, aided by his steady strength, climbed out of the van. She pulled her hand free from his the moment she was able—fought the urge to wipe her palm down over her cutoff denim shorts to get rid of the residual tingle that remained there.

     Willow ruefully studied Daisy. “I don’t suppose you have a rope there, cowboy? D’ya think you could pull her out?” she asked, raising her face to meet his gaze for the first time.

     Oh, she thought, taking a big step backward. He was tall and—she did a quick inventory—built. She’d already had the impression of size about him but now, face to face? That was something else. Her eyes flicked over the way his softly worn black T-shirt stretched across his shoulders and muscled chest and tapered to where it was tucked in at the waistband of equally well-worn jeans cinched with a belt complete with a big bold buckle. Yeah, he was built all right. Everywhere.

     Willow swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat and forced herself not to lift a hand to fiddle with her braids like she always did when she was nervous. Nervous? Hell, she didn’t know whether to be nervous, grateful or just flat-out turned on. Her body decided on the latter.

~~~

Buy For Love of a Cowboy right: HERE.

Happy reading!

DEB

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY OC Jenkins’s Fish Fry Recipe (from Cowgirl Come Home)

Monday, July 14th, 2014

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Food=love in my books.

Since my new book, Cowgirl Come Home releases on Friday, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a recipe from one of its characters. OC Jenkins is my heroine, Bailey Jenkins’s father. He’s one of the main reasons she left home fifteen years ago.

OC is a larger-than-life outdoorsman, who until recently ran a fishing and hunting guide business called Jenkins’s Fish and Game in Marietta, Montana. People called him the “Fish Whisperer.”

Once a year, OC throws a big Fish Fry for friends and clients in the backyard of the Fish and Game. Here’s the recipe he uses. It calls for a packaged batter mix (McCormick’s Golden Dipt works best), but the rest is all OC — and maybe a little Don Salonen, chef extraordinare and my brother-in-law. (Here’s a photograph of young Don with his brother, Paul, fishing at Lake Poinsett, South Dakota.) Interestingly, my hero’s name is Paul.

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4.5 from 2 reviews
OC Jenkin's Fish Fry recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Some call OC Jenkins the "FIsh Whisperer," but what he does with the fish he catches is worth shouting about.
Ingredients
  • whisk 2 eggs
  • stir in 2 cups beer
  • add 1-2 tsp baking powder into a package of McCormick's Golden Dipt Fish 'n chips Batter Mix and stir to blend
  • Add dry mix slowly to liquid until you reach the consistency of pancake batter.
  • fish of the day (Chef Don prefers fresh caught Walleye, but any fillets will work)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat pan. OC uses good canola oil.
  2. Dry fish fillets completely.
  3. Dip in batter and immediately place in oil.
  4. Cook over medium to medium-high heat (OC uses an iron griddle) until edges turn golden. Flip once. Don't overcook. Fish is done when meat is white and pulls apart easily.
  5. Serve with condiments of your choice. But, as OC says, fresh fish doesn't need extra anything.

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Cowgirl, Come Home

A snippet from Chapter 2:

“So…bring me up to speed. What do I need to know about Marietta to keep from stepping in deep horse pucky?”

Bailey’s question came between bites. The woman still ate like she’d come off an eight-day hunger strike. He’d always been impressed by how little Bailey cared about impressing anyone else–except when she was on the back of her horse.

“Everything’s pretty much the same. A few new homes on the east side of town, a big grocery store, chain drugstore and some fast-food places.”

She reached for another slice. “This is excellent. Thank you. I was supposed to have an hour and a half in Denver but then my flight out of Phoenix was late. I was starved.”

He could see that.

“What about you? You’re a building contractor now?”

“No. God, no. I have a crew that handles small remodels, utility sheds and decks. Mostly DIY stuff people think they can handle then find out they can’t. I leave new construction to the pros.”

“Business is good?”

“I can’t complain.” Zabrinski’s Big Z’s first quarter set new records for both volume and profit. Too bad he couldn’t boast about his personal life. “I’ll introduce you to Jane Weiss, the new head of our Chamber of Commerce. She’s from California, too.”

“California’s a big place.”

“Hmm. Never been.”

She dropped her half-eaten slice of pizza and eased back in her chair. “I’m stuffed. Thank you, Paul. I really can’t thank you enough.”

He’d already paid for the food before they sat down, so he closed the carry-out box lid and got up. “Am I dropping you at the house or the hospital?”

“The house. I’d like to get unpacked before OC gets home.”

“In case he says something that makes you want to run away? “

She chuckled. “Maybe.”

He walked slowly to accommodate Bailey’s gait. “Your mom says he’s mellowed.”

“So have I…thanks to the drugs.”

She made it sound like she was an addict, but he’d watched her cut the white tablet in half before swallowing the smallest piece.

Bailey paused at the Pizza Palace counter to thank the owner. “Your pizza is delicious. I’m impressed. Tasted like home.”

Home. California.

“Where are you from?”

“Central Valley. You?”

“Outside Sacramento. We were one of the first wave of ABCers.”

Bailey nodded as if the comment made perfect sense. The two chatted a few minutes longer, then Bailey waved goodbye. “I’ll be back. Thanks.”

Once they were in the truck and headed toward the highway, Paul asked, “What’s an ABCer?”

“Anywhere But California. A lot of small business owners have moved to other states. Ross bought a place in Nevada. My late husband.”

He didn’t want to ask but couldn’t help himself. “Your mom told me he died in a truck accident.”

She nodded, but her expression didn’t invite more questions.

“How bad is your foot?”

“Broken in two places. I’m now the proud owner of two steel rods and several very big screws in my foot and ankle.”

He winced. “Ouch.”

A red Prius cut in sharply to take the exit. Paul tapped the brakes a little harder than necessary. Bailey’s torso lurched forward until the seatbelt stopped her. Paul reached out without thinking.

The back of his arm hit her mid-chest. The first boobs he ever touched. Bailey Jenkins’s breasts. Still as firm and lush as his traitorous body remembered.

She reacted as if poked by a cattle prod. She shifted sideways, turning her shoulder toward him, but he could see her cheeks were kissed with red.

“Sorry.”

He meant that. Yes, he wanted to touch her. But he wasn’t seventeen anymore. They both had battle scars. She had barely healed wounds–both inside and out. He needed to pull from his fifteen-plus years of retail experience to sell her on a new beginning with an old friend.

~~~

Buy: HERE

Can’t wait to share this book with you!

Bon appetit and happy reading!

DEB

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY Deb Salonen’s Christmas Pudding + A Bundle of Cowboys!

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

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Food=love in my books.

To celebrate the release of The Cowboys of Copper Mountain bundle, I’m reprising my Warm Chocolate Pudding recipe. Who can resist something this yummy, rich, delicious…and the pudding’s good, too. 😉

Check out this great party and contest. (Book goes on sale sometime today–Tuesday–for six days – ONLY.)

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Did I mention this bundle is packed full of great stories AND recipes–some of them are mine. I’m hoping this one made the cut. It’s really delicious!

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4.3 from 3 reviews
Warm Chocolate Puddings
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Get the prep work done ahead of time then pop the tray into the oven shorty before you're ready for the grand finale. Guaranteed to impress.
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • 4 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Ice cream for each serving (optional) (any flavor) or whipped cream!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place four 6- to 8-ounce ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. Place chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat; mix in 2 tablespoons sugar, then egg yolks and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Still beating, gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; beat until mixture is stiff and glossy.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, mix about ⅓ egg-white mixture into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remaining egg-white mixture just until combined. Divide among bowls. (Puddings can be prepared in advance up to this point; cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate up to 1 day.)
  5. Bake until tops are puffed and cracked but insides are still quite soft (a toothpick inserted in center will come out gooey), 20 to 25 minutes, or 25 to 30 minutes if puddings were previously refrigerated. Serve, warm or at room temperature (puddings may sink as they cool), topped with ice cream, if desired.

Check out the cute cover of The Cowboys of Copper Mountain. Don’t miss the most excellent sale price of 99¢ (six days only), but even at the regular price of $4.99, it’s a great deal. Four complete books AND tons of other goodies–it is Christmas in June, after all!

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AMAZON

Enjoy and happy reading, my friends!

Deb

EAT=LOVE=TUESDAY C.J. Carmichael’s Cranberry Coleslaw

Monday, March 17th, 2014

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Food=love in my books.

       I’m so excited to welcome my friend C.J. Carmichael to the blog. CJ and I go way back and I’m a huge fan. 

       Her new release is Good Together, and her recipe comes via her heroine, Mattie Carrigan’s grandmother. The recipe is actually discussed in the book when Mattie and her daughters are preparing a Thanksgiving feast. Mattie very cleverly shuffles a bunch of family recipes and lets the girls each pick one to make. I can’t wait to give this recipe a try.

    (And I highly recommend Good Together. See my review below.)

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Excerpt:                                                                     Buy: Amazon

Mattie Carrigan’s subconscious figured out the problem first. She was dreaming that she and her husband Wes were in the airport. “You screwed up the reservation,” he was yelling. “We’re booked on two separate flights.”

She opened her eyes, heart racing, relieved to be in bed at their ranch in Montana and not trying desperately to get to Denver where one of their daughters had started college two months ago. They’d picked different schools, Portia and Wren,  one moving south, the other west to Seattle, which drove Mattie crazy. It was difficult enough having her children leave the nest. Couldn’t they at least go to the same place?

The night was still, dark and silent. Curtains fluttered in the breeze from the open window to her left. Wes was in the bed to her right, his naked back a wall blocking the digital time display on their alarm clock.

What time had he rolled in?

He hadn’t been there when she’d gone to bed around one a.m. So he’d driven late into the night to get here. And judging from the Head and Shoulders scent of him, even taken the time to shower.

She wanted to move closer and snuggle up against his warm, tanned skin. But something—a nasty stew of resentment, fear and hurt—stopped her.

Pushing aside her covers, Mattie slipped to the washroom down the hall. A weak nightlight—installed eighteen years ago when the twins were babies—kept her from stubbing her toes on Wes’s boots. Damn, why hadn’t he taken them off in the mudroom?

He’d been to another rodeo this weekend. She’d seen his scores posted on the Internet and they’d been low, so he wouldn’t have brought home any prize money. He hadn’t for the past six months. A sign that at thirty-nine, he was getting too old to be a rodeo cowboy.

The rosemary and bergamot infusion sticks on the back of the toilet tank couldn’t mask the odor of horse manure and cowboy sweat that permeated the pile of Wes’s clothes on the tiled floor. As she peed, she stared at his faded Wrangler jeans, and old blue and white checked shirt.

Not that long ago—definitely less than a year—Wes would have woken her up when he got home, no matter how late. They’d make love and then he’d tell her how things had gone. The broncs he’d drawn and the scores he’d made. He’d fill her in on the latest gossip—who’d been injured and who was riding high. And the romances. Someone sleeping with someone else’s wife…it happened all the time.

Mattie stared at her reflection as she washed her hands. The low light was flattering, masking the new age-freckles that had popped out this summer. Now that she was almost forty, she had to be more careful with her sunscreen, she supposed, though she’d never been one for fussing about her appearance.

Her sisters would say she relied too much on the looks she’d inherited from their mother. And she knew it was true, and that she’d been lucky. Good bones and teeth, thick hair and pretty eyes. She’d taken these assets for granted, never guessing that one day they wouldn’t be enough for her husband.

Because that had to be the reason they were drifting apart, right?

He no longer found her attractive. Maybe he’d found someone new…?

Mattie put a hand to her chest, feeling the pain as she entertained this new suspicion…that her husband had fallen for somebody new.

But then common sense prevailed. This was Wes, her husband of nineteen years. They were a team. Had been a team forever. Raising their girls. Running the ranch. They did everything together. And he valued that as much as she did.

She’d never doubted Wes in all the nineteen years of their marriage, even though they’d spent a lot of that time apart. And she wouldn’t doubt him now.

They were just moving into a new stage of life, that was the problem. Every couple went through this when their children moved away from home. For sure she and Wes were handling the change differently. She was clinging in every way possible—text messaging them many times a day, sending care packages from home—whereas Wes rarely mentioned them. Wren said he hadn’t called her once since she’d left.

Mattie hung back in the doorway, watching Wes sleep, feeling oddly distant, like she was observing a stranger. They’d met at a rodeo, when she was only eighteen. Ended up married and pregnant before either one of them was twenty. Not  a recipe for marital success.

And yet, they’d defied the odds.

Just a year ago she would have called them happy. Wes was her partner, the father of her children, her best friend. They told each other everything.

But not anymore.

“Mat? What’s going on?” Wes lifted his head from his pillow. His dark hair all but covered his eyes.

“I had a bad dream.”

“Worried about the kids?” His head flopped back. “Don’t. They’re fine.”

He always said that. She was the one who worried. But this time, it wasn’t about Wren and Portia. “We need to talk.”

Wes groaned. “In the morning. Get back to bed. It’s bloody freezing in here. Did you leave the window open, again?”

She loved fresh air when she slept, but Wes preferred to be toasty warm. That meant open windows in the summer, but come October when the cold winds blew off the Mission Mountains, they had to be closed.

She pushed aside the curtains, then cranked the lever until the window was flush with the wall. Quietly she crept back under the covers, loving the coolness of the sheets on her side of the bed. On her back, she stared at the ceiling, waiting to see if Wes would turn and pull her into his arms.

He didn’t.

Come morning, Mattie was up before dawn, dressed for work in old jeans and a flannel shirt. She stood by the bedroom window as she fastened her buttons. In the faint light she could see mist hanging low to the ground and clinging to the Mission mountains. It would be cold outside. She slipped an extra pair of socks on her feet.

Wes was still sleeping and she closed the door after herself so he wouldn’t be disturbed.

He generally slept late after a rodeo. She never did. Nothing happened in her day until the horses had been fed. Wes insisted this was ridiculous because they had hired men to do the morning chores. Well, these days it was only Jake. But Mattie had been raised on a ranch and the rules on the Circle C had been inviolate. No one eats before the animals.

Mattie brought up the twins the same way. From a young age, no matter the weather, she’d bundled them up and taken them to the stables with her. They’d adored trailing the feed cart as she dole out rations, petting the barn cats, and jumping in the wood chips that were used for bedding. But when they hit their teen years, suddenly Wren became a night-hawk and couldn’t drag herself out of bed any earlier than fifteen minutes before the school bus arrived, while Portia’s new hair and makeup routine required at least an hour of prep time , rendering her unavailable for anything as prosaic as ranch chores.

Mattie missed all of this—the early childhood years and the stormy teenaged years—with an intensity that made her chest ache. Something vital had been scooped out of her body the day she and Wes drove the twins to the Missoula airport.  Was she always going to feel this hollow?

 After filling a to-go mug with coffee that had been programed the night before to brew fresh at six a.m., Mattie almost tripped on the sleeve of a jacket that had been tossed toward a stool—and only partially hit its target. The light navy windbreaker was Wes’s. She bent over to pick it up, wrinkling her nose at the scent of tobacco smoke—he must have worn it into a bar. Intending to hang it on one of the pegs in the mud room, she paused when she noticed a key had fallen from one of the pockets.

 She picked it up, frowning because their house keys were silver-colored, not brass. Besides, Wes kept all his keys on a ring. So what was this for?

~~~~~

          I finished reading the book a few nights ago and still find myself thinking about these characters. It’s a wonderful read. Rich and emotional. CJ’s characters are so real and their situation so authentically written, you can’t help but care about them. It’s unlike any marriage-in-jeopardy story I’ve ever read.  I highly recommend it. 

Bon appetit! Happy reading!

Deb