Tag Archives: Recipe

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Espresso S’mores

Hi friends! So … you may or may not know, but I’m a total fatkid with a major sweet tooth, but not too sweet. (It’s totally a thing, okay?!) … but I’m also m-a-j-o-r-l-y obsessed with s’mores. Mostly because I love marshmallows. Especially toasted marshmallows. Who doesn’t love toasted marshmallows? I mean, I’m a self avowed judgeybear, but I actually try not to judge too much when it comes to food but … in this case … yeah. Anyone who doesn’t like toasted marshmallows is kinda a monster. >.>

ANYWAY. I chose dark chocolate brownies because I wanted something with richer flavor that wasn’t too sweet. Same with the reasoning behind the espresso. Plus those are just flavors that marry beautifully. And we all know marshmallows are crazy sweet, so it’s a nice balance. You can tailor this “recipe” at will. Continue reading

Blogiversary Guest: Luanna Stewart

Hi friends! Can you believe it? ALBTALBS is five! Five! I know! We’re limping along here, and I’ve got a bunch of fun guests this month. I also have to say I LOVE this post and OMG COOKIES. Thank you, Luanna!!! She’s kicking off all the wonderful festivities with delicious treats.

I’ve asked everyone participating in the blogiversary festivities to come up with a list of “Top 5” or “5 Favorite” or just anything remotely related to the number 5. 😀

My Five favourite cookie recipes:

Yes, it’s the season for New Year resolutions. But I’ve never met a resolution that hasn’t failed. Whether it’s to eat less, or exercise more, (or vice versa? I suppose there could be people who need to put on weight and slow down) I generally get to late January and my willpower goes on hiatus. Continue reading

Author Spotlight: PJ Schnyder

Hi friends! Another author who is going to AAD visiting with us today! Lucky girl. She’s also so adorable. See?

First, I’d like to thank Limecello for having me on her blog and to thank the readers stopping in to say Hi by offering the chance to win a free ecopy of Red’s Wolf. Just leave a comment at the end of this guest post! 😀

I’ve never been to New Orleans so when I heard Authors After Dark 2012 would be there, I did a little happy dance and made sure to register as soon as possible. I already wanted to attend Authors After Dark because I made such a connection with readers, existing and new, at last year’s convention.

But, when the convention activities are at a lull and people are out on author field trips or exploring the city, they might spot me sampling the city’s cuisine. Because if there’s one thing I love to explore about any place, it’s the food!

Beignets, gumbo and etouffee are on my list to try in New Orleans. I’ve given it my best go at the recipes I’ve found and been fairly happy with them, but there’s nothing like tasting them the way they’re supposed to be made.

Readers of the Terra’s Guardians series might be familiar with my love for food. Mackenzie of Heart’s Sentinel makes real hot chocolate from scratch and tends to cook when she’s nervous. Carri of Red’s Wolf truly enjoys a properly cooked steak, but her real favorite is chocolate cake.

Here’s a snippet from Red’s Wolf in case you’d like to see what I mean:


He wouldn’t look at her, but nudged the plate toward her. “The cubs almost ate all of the chocolate cake. You said earlier it was your favorite, so…”

“Thank you.” She accepted the slice, partly wrapped in a napkin, and immediately took a bite of the moist, chocolaty heaven. Sweet perfection exploded across her palette. Carri half-closed her eyes in bliss, enjoying the velvety richness of the cake and smooth, intense icing. “Oh, whoever baked this should win an award.” Jason shook his head, catching her attention. Blushing, she mumbled around a mouthful of cake. “What?”

“It amazes me how much you can enjoy a bite of food.” His voice had its usual gruff tone, but his eyes warmed with a twinkle she hadn’t noticed before.

“Good food deserves to be appreciated properly.” She stood straighter. “This is a work of art. Chocolate is a wonderful thing.”

He frowned, his expression doubtful. “It’s a slice of cake.”

“It’s chocolate cake, very moist, and with really good icing.” She corrected him, holding out the slice.
“Here, try some.”

“Maybe a taste.” He gave in, but he didn’t take a bite from the slice she held. Instead, he separated the space between them, taking his taste from her lips.


Obviously, my slipping out to taste the wonders of New Orleans will be important research. After all, there will be more books to come in both my Terra’s Guardians and Triton Experiment series. Gotta have some wonderful things for my characters to enjoy. 😉

To tide us all over until we can get to AAD New Orleans, I figured I’d share my recipe for crab and shrimp etouffee.


Shrimp and Crab Étouffée , adapted from THE PÊCHE

1.5 pounds raw shrimp, peeled
approx 1 cup crab meat
2 tsp & 2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or a little more)
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1/4 c. finely chopped celery
1/4 c. finely chopped red bell pepper
3 c. chicken broth (low sodium)
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
1 c. finely chopped scallions
Cooked white rice, for serving

Prepare shrimp:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Add two teaspons of salt (Kosher? Yes, it’s different from table salt or sea salt) to the water and then add in the shrimp. Boil for approximately 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Rinse with cool water, drain and set aside along with drained crab meat.

Make the Étouffée:

Combine the remaining two teaspoons of salt, cayenne, black pepper, basil, and thyme in a little bowl. Set aside.

Put a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high heat.

Add the oil. Just as it starts smoking, add in the flour evenly across the oil and whisk vigorously for a minute or so.

Turn heat down to medium low and brown the roux for approximately 30 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon until it’s looking like dark chocolate.

Add the onion and cook until soft, approx 5 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat and add in the bell pepper and celery along with one tablespoon of the spice mixture. Stir until combined.

In a different saucepan, heat chicken broth to boiling. Once it’s boiling, get the roux mixture back on medium heat and slowly whisk in the broth until combined, about two minutes. Move the pan off the heat.

In another saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 5 Tbs butter. Add in the shrimp, crab meat and scallions. Stir. Cook for a minute and then add in the remaining spice mixture. Stir and then add it all into the roux, stirring until mostly combined. Add in the remaining Tbsp butter and stir until shiny and glossy.

Serve the étouffée in a shallow bowl and top with rice. Maybe garnish with more chopped scallions. Enjoy.


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Oh my gosh – after all that I’m so hungry! What about you! Like mentions of food in books? Have a favorite example? What’s a “signature” food you’ve never had but want to try, and where? (E.g. gelato in Italy, a Philly cheesesteak in Philly, deep dish pizza from Chicago.) Or do you have a recipe to share? You know I love recipes! One lucky commenter is going to win a copy of Red’s Wolf from Ms. Schnyder! (Contest rules here.)

Feeding “Shannon Stacey” – The General Edition

So… not sure if Shannon Stacey will actually eat either of these things. Even though she should. She said she likes cream of chicken soup – and it’s similar, in a way. This recipe is much healthier though. What am I talking about? Cauliflower soup. I know, some of you are recoiling right now. Me? I like cauliflower. I like it roasted, or with curry, or steamed and with fresh crab meat. Yum.

I’m actually not huge on thick soups, but this was so good and luxurious. I wanted to bathe in it. No joke. I had a large bowl. Then some more. Then I >.> might have “tested” some more. Straight from the pot.

So anyway this is my like 30 second bowl. You can of course make it more beautiful. I also went sparse on the olive oil so the drops aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as a heavier dose might be. If you click over for the recipe you’ll see how amazing it is at food 52, where their professional photographer and food stylist experience obviously makes it look better. I’m just sharing my bowl to show you – hey – you can make yours look similar, and in less than a minute!

All you need is cauliflower, an onion, water, olive oil, and salt. Pepper is optional. “Tools” required are a “heavy bottomed pot” – or just any pot, a knife, cutting board, and… any of these things – a blender, immersion blender, food processor, food mill, ricer, or … even a potato masher really.

The recipe says salt to taste – I actually doubled the recipe and used only a teaspoon for the whole thing, and it was enough. (We don’t go sodium heavy though so ymmv.)

I used an immersion blender for the first time – and I just stuck it in the pot. For a single go, I think it’d be fine. Next time if I double up again, I might as it says blend in batches. The cooking temps I was more lax about, but for the ingredients, I was spot on.

And as the comments say – you might be tempted to add “more” but really, don’t. At least not the first time. This soup needs to be appreciated for how it is. Which is lovely, wonderful, and pretty much genius in its taste and simplicity.

I’m definitely going to be making it again. I can see wanting some texture though – so maybe some toppings. Ones that will only add to the soup, but won’t “take away” from it.

This might even work as a bed for other items – it’s almost thick enough to be a puree if you don’t thin it out as much.

The recipe itself is here. And they mention it on the food 52 blog here – with more pictures etc.

Enjoy! As they said – this really is great for anyone  – even people who don’t like cauliflower. Especially them! In fact the chef who came up with the recipe doesn’t particularly like cauliflower! What a way to get a delicious, rich soup in an extremely healthy way.

Super win. And you know what? It’s onl 72 calories per serving. That’s right. Seventy. Two. For something that you think has a whole bucketful of cream and milk. (Which it doesn’t. It only tastes like it does, in the best way – not the too heavy way.) <3

[I’m not posting the actual recipe here because it seems … I dunno – silly when food 52 has it already, and better? But what would you guys prefer? Would you like me to include it in the actual post? Whatever your preference is! … Or does nobody care about the recipes?]

A Snack for Shannon Stacey… and a Winner

So this isn’t a very detailed “Feeding Shannon Stacey” post, but you know. Can’t win ’em all. There are also no pictures because well, it’s pretty self explanatory, and not that pretty. Tastes great though!

You know how sometimes you just need something sweet? It’s beyond want. I imagine most people have the ingredients too – and if not, they’re easy enough to get.

Take chocolate chips – dark, milk, semi-sweet, whatever you like. And if you want it a tad sweeter (and like a hint of vanilla), add white chocolate chips too. Just measure out 1.5 tablespoons, and put them in a microwave safe bowl. Nuke it for 12 seconds, then mix. (This is key, you don’t want to scorch the chocolate.) If it’s not melted, nuke it again for another 12 seconds. At this point, with this amount of chocolate, it should be done. (If it’s really still solid, nuke it for 9 seconds.) The power on our microwaves varies, of course, but it’s easier to add heat than take it away.

Anyway, you now have a lovely bowl of melted chocolate. To make it more decadent – add in 1 T of peanut butter. Whatever type you like most. Mix well. (Conveniently, you can use the same tablespoon measure, because solid chocolate wouldn’t have left any residue.) If you want to be really fancy I think a pinch of cinnamon would be really good too.

Now? Well I ate my mix with a banana. But I suppose apples, strawberries (though that might be weird what with the peanut butter), or whatever fruit you like.

If you’re on weight watchers or anything the points should be easy enough to figure out. It’s filling, delicious, fulfills whatever sweet tooth cravings you might have, and is better than eating a candy bar, or other junk food.

Incidentally – the method can be used to melt chocolate for so many other things. Mousse, for making candy, coating cake balls, and so on.

Now the winners.

Smartmouthtexan gets a lovely copy of How to Dance with a Duke  from when Manda Collins came and discussed book covers with us. (Please email me your address via the contact form.) And as for. B.A. Totuga’s giveaway of a $25 GC, and Carolyn Jewel’s offering of Not Wicked Enough? I’ll leave those open until next week. 🙂


Something Light and Fruity: Wine Soaked Peaches with Whipped Vanilla Ricotta

It’s not a secret that I like fruit, and that I also like alcohol. O_o Which then makes it so easy for all sorts of horrid statements, but I’m going to say you’re all mature enough to understand that. Considering all those substance abuse lectures I had to attend… CLEs, people! Anyway, my original point. I make no apologies for it – I mean, what do you think limecello is? Vodka, lime, and sugar. Done.

And now I’ve got you all poised with your fingertips on the phone keypad about to dial a hotline for me… the post. I like mixing fruit and alcohol. I’ve talked about it before. Citrus sugar, vanilla sugar, and so on. Recently, I did peaches in pinot grigio. It was extremely good, and turned the pinot into this lovely blush color. I didn’t think to take a picture, because it was a random thing.

But then I made myself a snack/treat of the wine soaked peaches, with whipped vanilla ricotta.

What did I do? Take awesome ripe peaches, and slice them into thin wedges. I’d say as close to 1/8″ as you can get. I put them in a container, and filled it with pinot grigio. We actually got the Bota box pinot – something you might want to consider if you like drinkable wine that isn’t too pricey. Yes, it comes in a box, but it’s actually good. Honest. What I did was take one of those plastic quart containers you get with take out – filled it with peaches, then wine. Put the lid on tightly, and you’re good to go.

I let it sit overnight in the fridge, and that was it. You can take out the peaches and eat them how you wish… or leave them in the wine like a sangria. Considering it’s not really a preservative or anything though, I wouldn’t leave the peaches in the wine for more than a day. (36 hours as a guess the max?) If it were vodka, or something, fine. But with wine? Not so much. You can separate the two, and both will keep longer.

For the whipped ricotta… I actually left mine as is – just ricotta, a little powdered sugar if you like it sweeter, and some pure vanilla extract. I really like vanilla, so I used maybe 1.5 tsp for 1/2 c ricotta. N.B. I don’t actually measure things, generally, so these are all guestimates. If you don’t like vanilla as much, use less. Or use almond extract, lemon extract, etc, if you prefer.

If you want it to be a bit more decadent, you can make whipped cream first, then fold in the ricotta. Pour some heavy whipping cream into a large bowl, and take a beater, mixer, or whisk to it. Add in the powdered sugar, then the ricotta. Incidentally, this is also how you make cannoli cream. Which is excellent on pretty much anything – even bagels.

So there you have it. Wine soaked peaches with whipped vanilla ricotta. I didn’t take a picture, because I accidentally went heavy on the vanilla and it wasn’t that pretty. That, and I ate it before anyone asked me what the “recipe” was.

Feeding Shannon Stacey [v 2.0]

*NB: Some of you may have seen something like this post in the feed yesterday. I was trying to schedule it but it published. Sorry.

I mentioned before, I have a goal of finding a recipe for Shannon Stacey and her family. She’s not a cook – her own words – and her entire family consists of picky eaters. [Again, her.] She’s also quite cagey about what she and her family will or will not eat, so I’m going with the spaghetti method here. (Toss and see what sticks :P)

But first… yesterday HarperCollins made the decision to limit the number of times an e-book can be circulated at digital libraries. I love the digital library collections at my libraries. Their cap? Twenty-six times. It makes my brain cramp. I personally, think it’s incredibly stupid. Courtney Milan quickly had a thoughtful response to this situation, as usual. And I’m sure there will be many more posts popping up. Twitter friends who are librarians also had a lot of great comments: @SuperWendy, @MandaCollins, and @Tuphlos. (I won’t link their feeds because you know, it’s twitter and by the time you check they could very well be talking about pastrami.) Also, there’s a hashtag for HarperCollins, where you can say how you feel about the policy on twitter: #hcod. And since I just commented on the Smart Bitches post I feel obligated to link it :).

Wendy did say, there’s a common misconception – there aren’t “limitless digital copies” at an e-library (usually overdrive) collection. There are wait lists, hold lists, and the like – just as there are for print books. For example, I’ve been patron number 22 on a pre-release title before. I feel sorry for hold number 27 on a HC book now… and I also feel like I have to stalk my library to make it on the pre-cut off list. If my library even continues to buy them…

Ok. So, book/industry rant over. No more head-explodery. [Erm, and in case it wasn’t clear, the Happy Bunny pictures are what I imagine the publishing executives have on their doors… :P] Now we get to Ms. Shannon Stacey. First up recipe-wise… something simple, that I think will have mass appeal. It involves… Pretzel Crisps! Currently not available (at least not the updated version) on Amazon, but I asked [Pretzel Crisps] about it and they said hopefully in a month or two. So, yay! (You can also buy them from the website.)

This is a pretty no fuss no muss recipe, and great stress relief as well. You take your pretzel crisp flavor of choice- I’d recommend Buffalo Wing, or Garlic Parmesan, personally. I figure Tuscan Three Cheese would also be delicious, and possibly Supreme or the Everything pretzel crisps.

Ingredients needed: pretzel crisps flavor of choice, boneless skinless chicken breasts, flour or corn starch, vegetable and/or olive oil

“Tools” needed: food processor [optional], rolling pin and/or heavy/large surface, saran wrap or zip lock bags.

I’d say take 2.5 cups of pretzel crisps, and if you have a food processor, pulse them until they’re a flour-like consistency. Mix this with 1/3 cup either flour, or cornstarch. (The cornstarch is because it’s finer and might stick to the chicken better – but if you don’t have it, flour is fine too.) Basically it’s the workings of chicken piccata, but already seasoned/flavored.
If you don’t have a food processor, fret not. Or, if you do have one, but need some stress relief, here’s the option for you. Dump the pretzel crisps in a freezer size zip lock bag. Depending on how bad your mood is, double, or triple bag it. Then go to town. Smash the hell out of it. Use a rolling pin, cutting board, pan, your hand, throw it on the ground, have your kid do it, whatever. Kill it.

Spread the “flour” on a large plate in a relatively even manner. Set it aside.

Now, for the chicken. Trim it however you like. Either put it in a bag (you can use the pretzel crisp smashing one if it survived), or just cover it with saran wrap. Depending on how you feel about clean up, you can put saran wrap under, and over the chicken breast. This I recommend doing on a cutting board, or if your counters are sturdy, that. Flatten the meat to about 1/4″ – it’s pretty easy, actually. Take said rolling pin, or make shift rolling pin, pan, whatever, and whack away. Obviously if you have a meat tenderizer, you can use that.

If you’re feeling perfectly fine and don’t want to exert yourself, you can halve the chicken breast [or cut them into thirds] – just as if you were going to butterfly it, but slicing all the way through.

Preheat a pan with a large flat bottom, and pour in about 4 tablespoons of oil. You don’t need to cover the bottom of the pan. Medium to medium-high heat is fine. You want to hear a sizzle when you place the chicken in the pan.

Dredge the chicken in the pretzel crisp flour. Pan fry it. Done. [Because it’s thin it should only take a few minutes on each side – the chicken should be a golden brown color – adjust heat as needed. Medium high initially, turn it down after 30 seconds so the chicken gets a crust but doesn’t burn, and then depending on how full the pan is you might want to adjust the heat.]

If the bottom is almost completely dry – add one or two tablespoons of oil as needed.

You can serve it with bread, rice, or pasta, and your vegetables of choice. Done!

And… I got an email from Carrie offering up this suggestion: Ginger Soy Chicken. Carrie says, “We had it this week and was really good.  She could easily substitute Chicken tenders for the thighs if she only likes white meat.  Very few ingredients and took me less than 1/2 hour to make start to finish.”

Can you tell I’m not much of a recipe person? I’m the “a dash of this and a bit of that” type cook. I very rarely follow recipes to the letter. So, if you have any questions, ask, and I’ll clarify the best I can in the comments. Because we all know one thing I’m good at is talking 😛

What do you think? Gonna try the recipe? Maybe you’ll get lucky and Pretzel Crisps will send you a nice sample. And then… if you want, let’s wade into the whole publishing … muck. Or you know – random weekend! What are your plans? Got a recipe to share? Do you have a stress relief/go to town dish?