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Horsing Around Can Be Fun! by Arlene Kay

I’ve always loved horses, but the topic of equine rescue was a real eye-opener for me. Frankly I was immersed in the glamorous world of shows, polo matches and competitive racing and oblivious to the grisly fate suffered by far too many horses whose owners abdicate responsibility for them. I soon found that the Internet was awash with sad tales and dismal statistics. My fantasies about cherished creatures like Trigger, Silver and Buttermilk clashed markedly with reality. With the help of my best friend Babette Croy, I decided to do something about that.

My name is Perri Morgan. I lead a relatively dull existence in Grand Falls, Virginia, crafting custom leashes, collars, bridles and saddles for dogs and horses. “Rescues” touch a special place in my heart since after my parents’ death, I became the product of the foster care system. I know all too well what it means to long for acceptance and a forever home. In fact, my modest spread boasts two retired military dogs, one entitled feline and an ornery pygmy goat, all of whom were discarded and subsequently re-homed with me.

My community is an affluent one filled with Macmansions, lavish landscaping, and well-intentioned neighbors leading busy lives. Many of them enjoy polo, horse and dog shows and competitive riding. Some like Babette also have a big heart and genuinely care about less fortunate creatures. My pal is passionate. In fact, one might call Babette a social justice warrior willing to put herself and her pocketbook on the line to help animals.

Unfortunately, even good intentions can clash when property values and profits collide. Our town council suddenly proposed to rezone land and evict the Cavalry Farms Rescue facility. Tempers flared, expletives flew, and our normally tranquil community experienced a galloping case of NIMBY (not in my back yard) syndrome. With Babette leading the charge, several of us mobilized and formed a protest group, appropriately dubbed NEIGH. Nothing militant, just a band of concerned citizens with something to say.  Our ace in the hole was the public scrutiny provided by my romantic partner investigative hottie, Wing Pruett. Grand Falls prided itself on a liberal reputation and shunned any bad publicity. I was cautiously optimistic about our chances until disaster stuck: I came face to face with the bloodied corpse of Babette’s assistant, draped across her employer’s bed! Continue reading “Horsing Around Can Be Fun! by Arlene Kay”

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Sweet Bougatsa Recipe From Donna Kauffman

 

Welcome to Moonbright!

Kate Angell, Allyson Charles, and I had such a wonderful time setting our stories in the magical seaside town of Moonbright, Maine. The stories center around Bellaluna’s Bakeshop, an Italian bakeshop owned by the heroine of my story, Abriana, and her grandmother, Sofia.

It was so much fun researching this story, not the least of which was trying out some Italian pastry recipes! And yes, the book comes with several yummy recipes for you to try!

Today, however, I want to talk about the other chef in my story. My Greek hero, Caleb Dimitriou. His entire extended family run a handful of Greek restaurants, scattered from Philadelphia, to Maine, and all the way to Greece!

My great-uncle was Greek, and my grandmother ran a family restaurant, so it was great fun to delve a bit into the family history and bring it to life in this fresh, fictional way. I only wish the story was longer so I could indulge in my love of Greek food as well as all those delicious Italian pastries.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t indulge in playing with a few family Greek recipes. The things I do for research! (Yes, the struggle is real. And delicious!) Continue reading “Sweet Bougatsa Recipe From Donna Kauffman”

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The Taste of Fall by Allyson Charles

When I was invited to contribute a story to The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice, I was very excited. Not only because the stories centered around Halloween, one of the best holidays of the year, but because it allowed me to write about my favorite season. When I think of fall, I think of cozy cardigans, spiced lattes, and apple pie. Crisp fallen leaves and reading before the fire. In short, I think of hygge.

If you haven’t read Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness or The Little Book of Hygge, you might not have heard of hygge. It’s a Danish and Norwegian word meaning a mood of coziness and a feeling of well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. In 2016, the Collins English dictionary named hygge as runner-up for word of the year.

So what are some ways to practice hygge? When autumn rolls around, I pull out the quilt I’ve been working on—for years now—and snuggle up on the sofa and sew away. I think I’ve given up hope of ever actually completing it, but the act of stitching the pieces together is an act of zen for me, the end product not nearly as important as the journey.

Or I pull on a pair of reading socks and a soft sweater and find a reading nook to lose myself in a book for the afternoon.

Or bake a delicious apple pie or chocolate-chip scones which I may or may not share, depending on whether I want to spread the hygge, or keep it all to myself. Continue reading “The Taste of Fall by Allyson Charles”

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Blue-Ribbon Made from Scratch Biscuits by Mary Lee Ashford

Hello there – Sugar Calloway from the Sugar & Spice mystery series here. As you may know, I’m not the cook in the community-cookbook-making and crime-solving duo you all have read about in GAME OF SCONES. That would be my friend and business partner, Dixie Spicer, who regularly takes first place at the State Fair with her baking. I’m just the business part of our community cookbook partnership. And often (the scale would say, too often) the taste-tester when Dixie tries out a new recipe.

Now I have to tell you, I’m usually a biscuits-out-of-a-can from the grocery store kind of gal. But Dixie insists this recipe is so easy that even I can make it. I’m about to give it a try. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Blue-Ribbon Made from Scratch Biscuits

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup more for dusting

2 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda Continue reading “Blue-Ribbon Made from Scratch Biscuits by Mary Lee Ashford”

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My Love Of Bakeries by Lynn Cahoon

Or this blog could be called my love of baked goods. Either way, I’m pretty sure it started at Buttery’s Food and Drug. It was a regional grocery chain in the northwestern United States when I was a kid. And they baked cookies in the store. Better yet, every child got one free cookie every visit.

I loved their butter spritz cookies. Oh, so sweet and melt in your mouth.

My school lunch program continued this love of baked goods by providing fresh baked bread every day for afternoon snack with a glass of orange juice. The school was probably part of some federal government study on the affect of carbs and sugar on kids, but I didn’t care. The bread was amazing.

In high school, I found my love of baking. A recipe always turned out the same way IF you followed the directions exactly. Veer from the recipe?  Your cookies might be too dense and not melt right. Or, worse, melt down into a crisp onto the cookie sheet.

When I was a young mother, Albertsons, another regional shop did fresh baked French bread from 4-6 every day. I’d stop in the store, buy two loaves on my way home from work, and eat one during the 20-minute drive. Now, I get worried if I eat a hamburger bun or two during the day.

Sometimes, even on a low carb, low sugar diet like the one I’m working, you have to break bread.  I love that term, breaking bread with others. Like a fellow writer who I have dinner with monthly. We chat and eat and plot and plan our careers over the Cheddar biscuits or sweet dinner rolls provided at some of our favorite places.

Some of my best memories are around food. That’s why in my books, the characters eat. A lot. It gives them something to do while they’re discussing the latest Aspen Hills murder. And with Shauna’s amazing cooking, it let’s me pretend I’m eating those free cookies again.

Lynn Continue reading “My Love Of Bakeries by Lynn Cahoon”

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Chocolate-Nutella Dipped Pecan Shortbread Sticks By Ellery Adams

The name sounds complicated, but this is an easy recipe to follow. These cookies are just the sort of treat Mrs. Hubbard would bake for teatime at Storyton Hall.

Imagine that it’s mid-afternoon, and you’d like to take a break and read for a few minutes. Well, nothing goes better with a cozy mystery than a cookie and a cup of tea or coffee. In my mind, this mid-afternoon break food is best when it can be eaten with one hand. That way, you don’t have to put down your book.

These cookies fit the bill. After you bite off the chocolate-Nutella-dipped end, you can dunk the rest of your goodie in your hot beverage. Presto! Your day just got a little cozier.

 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup salted butter, cold and cut up into pieces
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (if you’d prefer the nut taste to be milder, use vanilla extract)
  • ½ cup pecan pieces (I put mine in the food processor to get them nice and small)
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • ¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar

Continue reading “Chocolate-Nutella Dipped Pecan Shortbread Sticks By Ellery Adams”

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Baking Shows Unleashed My Inner Cake Boss by Ellery Adams

I love baking shows. There’s something so satisfying about having dinner and then settling down on the sofa to watch professional or amateur chefs battle it out on Chopped, The Great British Bake Off, Zumbo’s Just Desserts, Master Chef, Cupcake Wars, and Worst Cooks in America.

I remember the first time I tried to make one of Mary Berry’s cakes. I’d seen an episode of The Great British Bake Off featuring Mary’s Victoria Sandwich, and after reading countless literary references to the Victoria Sandwich and Victoria Sponge, I was dying to try my hand at one.

I made the cake. It was tasty. When I made it for the second time, I put my own spin on it. I used lemon cake because I thought it would go nicely with the raspberry jam. After that, I used homemade strawberry buttercream instead of jam. I figured that it was my duty as an American to tinker with a traditional British dessert (insert wink).

Next, I focused on Paul Hollywood’s bread. Using his recipes meant learning to translate grams into ounces, the meaning of strong flour, and learning that bicarbonate of soda is baking soda and that caster sugar is granulated sugar.  I began baking bread. It filled the house with such incredible aromas that I thought I’d never stop.

I didn’t exactly stop, but I was sidetracked by another show. This time, it was Nailed It! After my family watched the first episode, my daughter turned to me and said, “Let’s make everything they make.” I thought this was a crazy and wonderful idea.

The two of us started with the pigs in the hot tub cake and continued baking every weekend afterward. We gave away all the cakes and received just as much joy out of sharing the love and the sugar as we did baking together.

Continue reading “Baking Shows Unleashed My Inner Cake Boss by Ellery Adams”

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Not Only Dukes Get To Be Decadent by Madeline Hunter

The heroes of The Decadent Dukes trilogy gave themselves that moniker when they were boys. They did so only partly tongue in cheek. They knew that in their time period criticisms of the aristocracy included that it was decadent —too given to self-indulgence, pleasure and luxury and increasingly irrelevant in the world.

Most of us will never experience the kind of decadence available to Regency dukes. We take our self-indulgence in smaller, less expensive doses. Indulging in a little decadence isn’t a bad thing. It is like taking a mini vacation.

The easiest way to enjoy a decadence retreat is through— food! If you feel naughty while you eat it, you know it is decadent.

If we make it ourselves, the decadence is offset by the effort to some extent. We can feel virtuous for cooking from scratch before we sit down and sigh over rich, delicious food.

Here is my list of foods I consider so over the top rich, that they enter the realm of decadence.

 

  • Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. Don’t want to cook before indulging yourself? Then head to the Cheesecake Factory. Who hasn’t looked at those cakes when you enter and thought OMG, that is soooo decadent looking. Ignore the outrageously high calorie counts while you pick one. Everyone else does.

Continue reading “Not Only Dukes Get To Be Decadent by Madeline Hunter”

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Pie People by Krista Davis

My friend and fellow author, Leslie Budewitz, says people fall into one of two categories. We are people of the pie, or we belong to the clan of the cake.  I found this hilarious, but I have to admit that there may be some truth to it. I grew up with cakes. My mom baked a cake or pastry every Saturday morning when I was growing up. Only rarely did she bake a pie!

That’s actually not too surprising to me because my mom was born in Germany where cake is readily available at every proper café. Pies not so much. According to my research, pies go back ancient Egypt and Rome but it was the British who seized the idea and eventually brought it to America. Germans bake a lot of pastries and their strudel is well known, but pies take a back seat. I’m told that’s changing. Still, it accounts for why I am definitely from the Clan of the Cake. Continue reading “Pie People by Krista Davis”

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Summertime Recipe by Renee Ann Miller

One of my favorite summertime recipes is making a fruit salad in a watermelon basket. I shared this recipe in one of my newsletters last year, and it was a big hit with my subscribers. It’s a cool dessert to serve on a hot day and depending on the size of the watermelon you buy, it can feed a nice size crowd. And the best part—it’s not that difficult to prepare, but it makes a nice showing.

 

When shopping for a watermelon look for one that has one side that’s a bit flat, so it won’t roll and will be steady when set down. Next, you’ll want to figure out where you need to cut it to make the basket shape. In the second picture, you can see I’ve scored the skin of the melon to help guide me. I usually cut it outside on the table on my deck with newspaper underneath it, since it can get messy.

After cutting it, take a melon baller and scoop out the watermelon. Use a big bowl to put the fruit in. When all the fruit is out, I usually take a few minutes to cut out little upside-down triangles to make the basket’s edge, but you don’t really need to do that, I just think it looks fancier. Continue reading “Summertime Recipe by Renee Ann Miller”