Sunday brunch and books

My turn to host the book club slash brunch today at noonish. A few may be running late due to Daylight Savings Time. We’ll wait. I’m serving a southwest breakfast bake as the main dish. The rest of the menu is salad and a bowl of fruit. For dessert…brownies, of course. For anyone who doesn’t like chocolate, there’s always a slice of sour orange pie with whipped cream. Oh my.
Southwestern Breakfast Bake

Credit: Mr. Food recipe and photo

Grab the ingredients:
  • 1 (30-ounce) package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1/2 cups shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese blend
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
To make it happen:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9- x 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Arrange potatoes evenly in bottom of dish. Sprinkle with cheese, green chilies, bell pepper, and scallions.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients; mix well then pour evenly over potato mixture.
  4. Bake uncovered 55 to 60 minutes, or until center is cooked through and set.
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Coyote Wells Mystery series delivers for fans of the genre

Murder with a side of chocolate.

The 2nd book, Shadow Canyon, keeps readers coming back to Coyote Wells.

Look for it February 27th

Murder with a side of chocolate

Exhausted after the Sun Bringer Festival, Gemma Channing and her ex, Lando Bonner, are hanging out at the beach, trying to recover from the three-day event when her longtime nemesis is found dead on the dunes. As rumors grow about Mallory’s demise, many in Coyote Wells feel like Gemma is responsible.

Determined to find out who did it, Gemma goes into overdrive to find the real killer. With the help of Lando and her friends, they dig deeper into Mallory’s past, hoping to uncover all of her secrets. But they get more than they bargained for when the tables turn. The new theory brings a longtime mystery to the forefront, one that’s been hanging around for three decades…unsolved. What does it mean for the people in Coyote Wells when the secret’s uncovered? And will Gemma be able to figure things out before anyone else dies?

flu shots, Halloween, & teal pumpkins

Every fall I try to do the right thing and get a flu shot. Bad move! Twenty -four hours later, I broke out in hives—a reaction I’ve never had before—and for several days I was splotchy red, itching, and feverish. Not only that, the site of the shot still hurts like blazes. And it isn’t just me. My hubby, who never has a reaction to anything, also broke out in hives and experienced terrible arm pain. Which tells me something is really seriously jacked with this year’s vaccine.

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Image Credit: Amazon

Anyhoo, after alternating between slathering aloe vera and cortisone cream on my arms and legs for several days, I’m now getting ready for Halloween, dragging out the witches and building my traditional hay bale stack with pumpkins for the front porch.

Which brings me to a question. Anyone out there know about teal pumpkins? I had never heard of them until last week. Yes, I know, I must’ve had my head buried in the sand. However, I prefer to think of it as having my head down, hard at work on my next story. But I digress.

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Image Credit: Google 

Displaying teal pumpkins on the porch means you’re offering non-food items in lieu of sugary candy or chocolate. Now even though this breaks this chocoholic’s little heart somewhat, when the doorbell rings Tuesday night, I’ll be offering trick-or-treaters, not one but two bowls. One with the tried and true assorted chocolate candy bars I love, AND another with trinkets I picked up at Target near the Halloween section. Corny stuff like plastic fangs, glow sticks, little plastic bracelets, costume necklaces, spider rings, pencils, pens, crayons, markers, Halloween erasers, mini notepads, and stickers. Cool huh? It’s not a bad plan trading orange for teal. If this chocolate lover can switch out Butterfingers and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for a few  nontraditional giveaways that cut down on sugar, I’m all for it. And it  might actually be cheaper. Amazon offers a 100-piece toy assortment for only $18 bucks. Not a bad deal instead of buying bags and bags of sugar-laden candy.

Image Credit: AllergyandAsthmaCare.com

Whatever you decide, is okay by me. Here’s hoping you have a happy and safe Halloween!!! And if you must get a flu shot, ask them ahead of time if your arm might fall off before they stick that needle in you. I wish I had.

 

New series: A Coyote Wells Mystery

As Halloween approaches and with Thanksgiving on the horizon, I’m settling in for a long winter of writing. For starters, I’ve outlined three books for my new series, A Coyote Wells Mystery.

First up is Mystic Falls scheduled for release on Tuesday, November 7th.

Emotionally reeling after the death of her grandmother, Gemma Channing is settling into Coyote Wells, her hometown where she grew up, after a ten-year absence. While coming to terms with the loss of her Gram, MYSTIC FALLS FINAL coverdisturbing things begin to happen. Women are disappearing. Just when she begins to realize Coyote Wells has changed—and not for the better—she’s forced to bump heads with Lando Bonner, her ex, a man who still carries around a grudge. You might say Lando despises her. But since she’s digging for answers in an effort to explain exactly how her grandmother died, she needs his help. It won’t be easy. Lando has never forgiven her for leaving him. Tensions between the two rise as a killer grips the town in fear. Is it kill or be killed? Who will the killer target next? And when will it all end?

I love dabbling in mysteries and figuring out how to solve them. As you can tell by the continuing theme, Gemma and Lando will have a homicide or two to solve in each book. They’ll have help from an array of quirky characters. I hope you come to love Gemma and Lando as much as I do and hope you settle into the town with all the other odd characters who make Coyote Wells home.

And the Liebster Award goes to…

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Getting to know new blogs is a fantastic way to connect with more people. Katherine at The Fashion and Mind…Travel! blog has nominated Romance, Suspense, & Chocolate for the Liebster Award, which we gratefully accept.

In order to keep the nominating process going and allow you, the readers, to find more and more interesting blogs, I’ve been tasked to answer ten questions and then nominate other blogs to hold that honor. First, I’ll answer the questions thrown at me.

What’s your favourite color?

Bluegreen. Tomboy that I was, in first grade I used to fight to keep that particular crayon all to myself. I know, selfish, huh? But I’d gladly share all the others, so there is that. 🙂

Coke or Pepsi?

Personal preference, definitely Coke. But I have a few characters who favor Pepsi. I have no idea why that is. 😉

What is your most prized possession?

My imagination. It’s gotten me through tough spots from teen years to an office environment.

What does the perfect date for you look like? With whom? Place?

A walk on the beach or a hike in Big Sur with my hubby.

What is your passion in life?

Hands down, writing is my passion.

Best compliment you have received?

I get letters, emails, and Facebook messages  from readers who tell me they connect with my characters.  That IS the ultimate compliment.

What does a perfect day look like to you?

Any day I can get in a thousand words minimum writing is a perfect day.

Your dream vacation? Worst vacation? Best vacation?

I have yet to experience Hawaii. It’s on my bucket list though. The worst vacation would be when we took off for Florida in the middle of a thunderstorm. Turns out lightning hit our house while we were gone. Then on the flight back, we hit horrible turbulence which convinced half the passengers we were going down. To this day it’s the scariest flight I’ve ever been on.

Who do you most admire in life?

People who have the courage to follow their hearts. People who stand against the criticism of the world when all that world wants to do is hurl insults at them for wanting out of a toxic relationship, who want nothing more than to be happy.  As Jay Leno once said, you want a soulmate, not a cellmate.

If you were president, what is the first thing you would do?

Declare all Fridays free chocolate and coffee day!


That’s it for my part. Now to nominate the other blogs I enjoy. These blogs don’t have to do a thing, participate or not, it’s up to you.  But I highly recommend giving them a look-see.

I Didn’t Have My Glasses on

Helle Gade Photography

Backyard Edible Gardening

Crafts and Coffee

Be Like Water

Bitch Can Write a Book

Bookmobiles A History

Everything Else Thrown In

Jump For Joy

Keep blogging and connecting,

Vickie

Roses are red …

Happy Valentine’s Day

1 Valentine Blog Post

Roses are red, cookies are too

Unless they are chocolate and so filled with goo.

But I picked the red heart with sugar and spicing

Then nibbled the part and licked off the icing.

It didn’t last long and was gone in a flash

Like Cupid, his arrow, with a bit of panache.

My sugar high fixed, my sweetie is ready

For that’s when I’ll wear that red, silky teddy.

It’s a surprise and a wonder what a cookie will do

When love’s on the line and the sentiment’s true.

Like flowers or candy will work just as well

In a bed and breakfast or a ritzy hotel.

Closed off from the world, get back in touch

Spend the weekend curled up, not a thing is too much.

 

Chocolate snowballs

Simple, easy 

Chocolate Snowballs

1 Chocolate Snowballs

Award-winning Pastry Chef Johnny Iuzzini celebrated his visit to snow-laden Chicago recently by  mixing up a batch of Chocolate Snowballs from his second cookbook, Sugar Rush. Here’s the link to the video at NBC Chicago. For some reason the vid wouldn’t embed into my post.

Anyway, if you’re looking for something to offer up for Valentine’s Day that’s chocolate and fairly quick with no baking involved, try throwing these together. You will need to allow 2 hours to let the dough set. What got my attention is that this recipe is a little different than the norm in that it doesn’t call for nuts or marshmallows but rather butter cookies, an odd choice I thought at the time. The butter cookies give it a different texture altogether. If you want to pass on using those, the recipe is a bit versatile because you could certainly use graham crackers instead of the butter cookies and substitute nuts for the coconut.

Sugar Rush

Chocolate Snowballs

Makes about 1½ dozen cookies
Ingredients:

• 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
• ½ cup sugar
• ¼ cup dark cocoa powder
• ¼ cup whole milk
• 1 teaspoon ground espresso powder
• ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• 6 ounces plain butter cookies, finely ground (about 1¼ cups crumbs)
• ½ cup unsweetened fine, dried coconut flakes

Instructions:

1. Put the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, and milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the espresso powder, vanilla, and salt.
3. Put the crumbs into a medium bowl and pour the warm liquid mixture over them; mix well until crumbs are evenly moistened.
4. Line a small sheet pan with parchment paper and spread the mixture out on it in an even, thin layer. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
5. Scoop level tablespoon-sized portions and roll them into balls.
6. Toss them in the coconut, rolling firmly with your hands to adhere the coconut.
7. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 1 week.

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/In-Celebration-of-Chocolate-Chocolate-Snowballs-290819471.html#ixzz3QoP7Fiiu