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Macarons and their reign of terror by Lynn Carthage

A year ago, I was asked to write a blog post for Hobby Reads, and I instantly thought, “Oh, I’ll make macarons!” This incredible chewy confection from France relates to my novel Betrayed, and I thought it’d be fun to give them a shot.

Until I googled a recipe and learned how hard they are to make.

Listen to this introduction to the recipe: “I am a baker’s apprentice and after much trial and error, we finally perfected the technique.” If professional bakers and their eager apprentices were trying and failing, what chance did I have?

I’m easily intimidated in the kitchen, and even after the recipe was “perfected,” these treats take two hours and thirty minutes to make—only twenty minutes of which is baking time.

I knew I was out of my element, but I gamely bought the ingredients. I have almond slivers still in my pantry, just waiting to be pulverized in my food processor because…I never made them.

That’s right. I lost my nerve and procrastinated. For a year.

And now Betrayed is being supplanted by its sequel Avenged, which releases in February. Continue reading “Macarons and their reign of terror by Lynn Carthage”

Conchas by Winnie Archer – Featuring Our Guest Blogger Kim Davis

Conchas Dough

3 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
½ cup lukewarm milk
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3½–4 cups all-purpose flour
Nonstick cooking spray for greasing the cookie sheet

Cinnamon and Vanilla Topping

⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Prepare the conchas dough by dissolving the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. Add the milk, sugar, butter, egg, and salt. Next, stir in 2 cups of the flour and mix until smooth. Add more flour, a little at a time, until the dough is easy to handle and forms a ball.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

3. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, and then turn it so that it is greased side up. Cover the bowl, place it in a warm place, and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1½ hours. You’ll know the dough is ready if an indentation remains after you press on it.

4. While the conchas dough is rising, prepare the topping. Beat together the sugar and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour and mix until a dough with the consistency of a thick paste forms. Continue reading “Conchas by Winnie Archer – Featuring Our Guest Blogger Kim Davis”

Special Corn Chowder by Joanne Fluke

A romantic seven-day cruise is the perfect start to bakery owner Hannah Swensen’s marriage. However, with a murder mystery heating up in Lake Eden, Minnesota, it seems the newlywed’s homecoming won’t be as sweet as she anticipated . . .

After an extravagant honeymoon, Hannah’s eager to settle down in Lake Eden and turn domestic daydreams into reality. But when her mother’s neighbor is discovered murdered in the condo downstairs, reality becomes a nightmarish investigation. Victoria Bascomb, once a renowned stage actress, was active in the theater community during her brief appearance in town . . . and made throngs of enemies along the way. Did a random intruder murder the woman as police claim, or was a deadlier scheme at play? As Hannah peels through countless suspects and some new troubles of her own, solving this crime—and living to tell about it—might prove trickier than mixing up the ultimate banana cream pie . . .



(Made on the stovetop)
1 cup whipping cream
2 chicken bouillon cubes (or enough dry bouillon crystals or beads to make 2 cups of chicken broth)
1⁄2 stick (2 ounces, 14 cup, 18 pound) salted butter
10-ounce bag frozen whole kernel corn
2 sixteen-ounce cans cream style corn
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1⁄4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
1⁄2 teaspoon onion salt
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Hot sauce to taste (I used Slap Ya Mama)
1⁄4 cup instant potato flakes (if needed to thicken the chowder)
One jar of jalapeño jelly
1 package microwave buttered popcorn Continue reading “Special Corn Chowder by Joanne Fluke”

The Magic & Science of Chicken Soup by Mary Feliz

Years ago, when my family was fighting a “never say die” respiratory issue, I talked to a bunch of my friends about what ingredients their cultures’ “Magic Chicken Soup” contained. I came up with this list of ingredients for a sure-to-cure chicken soup:

Indian & Persian: Tumeric and Saffron (both are anti-inflammatories and make the soup a pretty golden color with a delicate bouquet)

Irish: “The Trinity” celery, onions, carrots

Greek: Lemon juice

Vietnamese, Korean, and other Asian Cultures: Fresh Ground Ginger and Garlic

Jewish: Dill and Matzah balls or noodles (other cultures add rice)

Mexican: Cilantro and rice, sometimes corn, various peppers to taste

Almost everywhere: Garlic (4,000 years of folklore says it also keeps away vampires. And who wants to deal with a vampire when they have a cold?) Continue reading “The Magic & Science of Chicken Soup by Mary Feliz”

Chocolate Lasagna by Lisa Jackson

Whenever I have an impromptu family dinner, I usually make chocolate lasagna for dessert as it’s a fave and easy to throw together.  Well, except for one time when I picked up regular pudding rather than instant—uh, that doesn’t work at all.  So take note.   Anyway, I found this recipe on the Internet about two years ago and it’s been a hit with my family—especially the grandkids—every time.  There are variations I’ve tried—such as graham crackers for the crust or adding in Nutella or peanut butter to the filling but the basic recipe is wonderful.  I don’t know who originally came up with it, but here’s the recipe I use:

Chocolate Lasagna
Author: The Kitchen Snob



36 Oreo cookies (regular, not double stuffed)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened Continue reading “Chocolate Lasagna by Lisa Jackson”

Great-Grandma’s Chocolate Espresso Cake by Andie J. Christopher

In this first book in the new One Night in Miami series, readers meet the quirky Cuban/Irish Hernandez family. Alana Hernandez, the baby sister of the family, knows the second-best way to former Navy SEAL Cole Roberts’ heart. And, on Valentine’s Day, this chocolate espresso cake would be just the ticket.

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking soda
1 large egg Continue reading “Great-Grandma’s Chocolate Espresso Cake by Andie J. Christopher”

The Hope Chest that Inspired Hope Chest Of Dreams by Lisa Jones Baker

When I was a little girl, my mother’s hope chest fascinated me.  Not because it was fancy; it’s not, but rather because of what loomed inside.  Her wedding veil.  Love letters from my father.  Grandmother’s special linens.  What intrigued me most was that my father made it himself and presented it to her just before they married.  The beloved possession rests upstairs beneath the wall quilt of my great grandmother’s beautiful, ornate, delicate handkerchiefs that were sewn together by my great aunt, June.

Intrigued, I researched the origin of the hope chest, aka Hope for Marriage, and learned that the pieces, constructed from different types of wood and often lined with cedar to protect the contents from insects, fungus, and moths, are often referred to as dowry chests.  Typically, they’re used to store special things such as linens, quilts, and china that are handed down in the family.  Single girls are, many times, gifted a hope chest before marriage.

Hope chests are routinely placed at the foot of the bed and have existed since the times of pharos.  In fact, Egyptians used them for storing valuable documents during long, treacherous, oceanic voyages.  But to me, my mother’s hope chest carries what only dreams are made of.  Something mystical and intangible.

It’s a rare, blessed treasure that prompts my imaginative mind to wander back to the days when my parents fell in love and had no idea how many times their children’s and great-grand children’s fingers would touch the heirloom.  My mother’s hope chest will be passed down to me, and I will place their wedding picture on top while the beloved quilt with its own compelling stories looms in the distance.

In my HOPE CHEST OF DREAMS series, Rebecca, Annie, and Rachel will experience their own stories with William, Levi, and Jarred.  And eventually, their hope chests constructed carefully and artfully by creative genius Old Sam, will be filled with great symbols of love that they will cherish and pass down to their daughters.  To me, these characters and stories are personal, a natural inspiration and connection to my mother’s hope chest.

My parents aren’t rich, but what they have, money can’t touch.  And the sentimental piece constructed by my father over fifty-nine years ago plays its own special role in my parent’s forever journey of true love as well as their nearly six decades of marriage that continues on earth as long as they both live and will pick up when they join in heaven.  And maybe someday, a couple in our family will treasure the hope chest over fifty-nine years, and inherit my parents’ abounding Christian love and happiness that’s a wondrous, generous, rare blessing from our Creator.


Three young Amish women, each gifted with a hand-carved hope chest, find that one by one, with patience and faith, their most blessed dreams for the future can come true…

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside—to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…

Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer…


dads dassdasd The New Americana Series

In the heart of Arizona’s Sonora Desert, a little girl in need of her father, a woman in need of forgiveness, and a war hero in need of love come together to create a family…

Before he left for Afghanistan, Jake O’Reilly had everything—a beautiful wife, a baby on the way, a wonderful life. Three years later, his wife is dead and he is so haunted by his memories of war that he can’t bring himself to go home. But when his wife’s grandfather tracks him down and persuades him to come work on his ranch, where Jake’s daughter is living, he agrees—even though he is reluctant to expose his little girl to the man he’s become.

At Flying Cloud Ranch, his daughter doesn’t recognize the brooding stranger he’s become. But the beauty of the ranch and the immediate connection Jake feels with his wife’s cousin Kira slowly begins to heal his wounds. Though he doesn’t want any complications, he finds himself impossibly drawn to the tough woman who runs a horse therapy program for troubled teens. And as they each begin to imagine a new future, they discover that happily ever after is always within reach—if only you are willing to open your heart . . .


First in a new series by the author of Night Hawk and Out Rider

Still waters run deep . . .

From the moment Roan Taggart picked up the pretty redhead at the Jackson Hole airport, his training and experience told him she was spooked. She’s left New York City to visit the Wind River Ranch, where Roan is a wrangler, and just as he can pick up a horse’s mood, he can feel the tension coming off her body. And that vulnerability is triggering all his protective instincts . . .

Shiloh Gallagher likes the gray-eyed cowboy’s dry humor—and the Special Forces background that lends him a stoic, powerful presence. But she’s been scarred by trauma and her mother’s murder . . . and knows a strong man can be dangerous. She came to wide-open Wyoming to flee a threat that’s left her unable to write her novels. Now, as she rides horses with Roan and helps him build an isolated cabin, she’s slowly letting down her guard. But danger has followed her west, and they won’t have a future together unless they defeat a killer from her past . . .


Something to hold on to . . .

Not so long ago, Reese Lockhart was commanding a company of Marines. Now his life is spiraling out of control. The Bar C ranch outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming may be his last chance to save himself . . .

Shaylene Crawford, an Afghanistan veteran herself, knows all too well the demons of PTSD—that’s why she’s determined to turn her family’s cattle ranch into a place where wounded warriors can work, find a home, and rebuild their souls. Her embittered father nearly drank and gambled the place away, but with help from a small crew of vets—including the newest arrival, the quietly compelling Reese Lockhart—she intends to hold on to her dream. And when someone tries to destroy that dream, Reese will do whatever it takes to defend her . . .


An unexpected reunion . . .

Kira Duval was part of a Special Forces team that got caught in an ambush—leaving only two wounded survivors: herself and Weapons Sergeant Garret Fleming. Losing her team was traumatic, and in the chaotic aftermath, as the Army moved them from hospital to hospital, she lost Garret too. But she never lost her secret yearning for him.

Finally, she gave up trying to track him down back in the States. But as she settles in at the Bar C cattle ranch in Wyoming, a place where veterans can find a home and a place to heal, she’s introduced to her sandy-haired, hazel-eyed housemate: none other than Garret Fleming.

They’re a long way from Afghanistan—and a long way from the people they used to be before tragedy changed their lives. But as Kira earns her keep by caregiving for the ranch owner’s bedridden, alcoholic father—a task that sometimes feels more challenging than any black ops mission—she finds that even in peacetime Garret still has her back, and that in this warm, welcoming place, the passion she resisted in the heat of battle may finally have a chance to flouish . . .



Healing, like love, takes time . . .

For Noah Mabry, it’s easier sometimes to relate to the dogs and horses he trains than to other people. Ever since his marriage became a casualty of the war in Afghanistan—torn apart by the PTSD he brought back with him—he prefers to be on his own. At the Bar C Ranch, where he works with a crew of fellow military vets, his gentle patience helps tame even the rowdiest mustang—but he’s about to meet a woman who needs a healing touch he’s not sure he can give.

Dair Wilson, a half-Comanche ex-Marine who lost a foot to an IED, has been hired on to assist Noah, but her deepest wounds aren’t visible. Growing up in an abusive home, she learned not to trust men, even ones who seem nothing but kind. After a wild horse sends her sprawling, the attentive care she receives from the Bar C family—and especially from Noah—is enough to convince her she’s found a place she can finally breathe easy. But one angry, damaged man poses a threat not only to Dair and Noah, but to everyone who’s built a new home at the Bar C . . .


Joanne Fluke on TOUR!

Tuesday February 28, 2017 @ 6:00 pm
4014 N Goldwater Blvd # 101
Scottsdale, AZ 85251-4344

Thursday March 2, 2017 @ 6pm
6101 Frisco Square Blvd
Frisco, TX 75034

Friday March 3, 2017 @ 7:00 pm
7700 West Northwest Hwy
Dallas, TX 75225

Saturday March 4, 2017 @ 12pm
9015 Grand Ave
North Richland Hills, TX 76180

Monday March 6, 2017 @7:00 pm
Sanibel Public Library
770 Dunlop Rd.
Sanibel, FL 33957

Wednesday March 8, 2017 @ 6:30pm
2342 Bissonnet St
Houston, TX 77005 Continue reading “Joanne Fluke on TOUR!”

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