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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is from my trusty old church cookbook. At least the original version is. I've changed things up a bit. They call it Mrs. Fields' Chocolate Chip Cookies. The story is that someone wrote to Mrs. Fields and asked for her recipe. She sent it along with a bill for $10,000. So the woman shared the recipe with everyone, figuring if she was going to pay that much for it, she was going to make sure everyone got their money's worth. The story probably isn't true, but this is still a very tasty version of chocolate chip cookies.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1 c. white all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/2 c. oatmeal, instant or quick-cooking are best for this recipe
2 c. chocolate chips

Cream butter, shortening, and sugars until light and fluffy. Add salt, baking powder, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until very creamy. Stir in flours, oatmeal, and chocolate chips. Scoop onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 8-9 minutes, until barely browned on the edges. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from the cookie sheet.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Recipe - German Pork Roast

This is a semi-traditional one-dish meal that riffs off the German dish choucroute. I think. I've never made the traditional dish because I've never had all the ingredients in the same place at the same time. It requires sausages, pork ribs, other smoked meats that come from pigs, sauerkraut, and other stuff. It's tasty, but not what I had on hand.

I hope you enjoy this one. It's tender, flavorful, and easy. Plus, it only takes one roasting pan to make the whole dinner.

German Pork Roast

2-3 lb pork roast or thick-cut pork chops, bone-in or boneless, doesn't matter
1-2 lb potatoes, scrubbed and cut in big chunks, about 8 good-size ones
1 lb carrots, scrubbed and cut into big chunks, about 10-12
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 apples, cored and sliced, don't bother peeling them
2 c. good quality sauerkraut, not the canned stuff, go for a good bottled variety or the refrigerated stuff in the deli section
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Place the pork roast in a large roasting pan or baking dish. If it has a fat layer, face that side up. Spread potatoes and carrots around the roast. Lay onions on top of the roast. Add apples over the top of that. Spread sauerkraut over the roast. Sprinkle salt over the meat and vegetables. Add pepper.

Bake at 400° F for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until roast is done and vegetables are tender. If you use chops or a flat roast, check after 45 minutes. A very thick roast or one with bones may take longer. Roast should no longer be pink in the center.

Let stand for 15 minutes after you remove it from the oven.  Slice the roast.

Serve with butter, salt, pepper, and sour cream as garnishes.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I Finally Crawled Out of the Dark Ages

I have a smart phone. A cheap, burner smart phone, but it's still a smart phone. I have to say goodbye to my undependable pain-in-the-butt brick that basically just made phone calls. I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the present.

No, I'm not a technophobe. I like new technology. I have a MacBook Air that I adore, except for the small hard drive, but that's a different rant. (I can't store my 50,000+ fonts, images, and movie editing stuff on the drive without running out of room. And then there's my game collection...) But I'm oldschool hardcore. Phones should make phone calls, and be easy to use to make phone calls.

So why did I get a smart phone? First off, my brick wasn't holding a charge anymore. I guess twelve years is a good life for a phone that cost all of $10. Second, I needed a way to accept credit card payments. I have a Square. The phone works well for that, most of the time, not that I've needed it since I bought it but it's only been a month.

I'm going to put in a plug for TracFone here. No, they aren't paying me anything. I've been using their services for years, ever since I picked up my brick. And yes, that was a kicking, screaming fit over having to get a cell phone. I still hate them most of the time. But for $150, I have a smart phone and a year of service. It's limited, but since I hate phones it's sufficient for me. And I can buy more minutes and more data if I need it. No monthly fees, no contracts. And if I want a new phone, it's easy enough to switch the plan over. I just did that for my brick. I now own a new brick for that number that is just a little fancier than the old one but it only cost me $5.

Now I just have to figure out how to juggle three phone numbers until we can cut the landline. And what pattern to glue the rhinestones and unicorn stickers.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Popovers

These can be a little tricky, but when they work out, they poof up into shells that you can stuff full of things like chicken with gravy, mixed veggies in cream sauce, chili, broccoli cheese soup, or whatever savory thing you want to fill them with. They are the savory version of cream puffs only a little bit easier to mix up.


4 eggs
2 c. milk
2 c. flour (I use plain old white flour for these)
1 t. salt

Heat oven to 450°. You want it hot when you're ready to put these in so make sure you pre-heat. Grease 12 muffin cups. Don't use paper liners for this recipe.

Beat eggs with a fork. Add milk, flour, and salt. Whisk just until smooth.

Pour batter into muffin cups, filling them only about 3/4 full. Bake 25 minutes. DON'T TAKE THEM OUT. Lower the oven temperature to 350° and bake another 15-20 minutes until they are golden. Remove from the oven and the pan and make sure to serve them hot.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pimp My Book!

Welcome to the first episode of Pimp My Book! Where I take something like this:

And turn it into something like this:

Now I'm going to have to find all those tacky rhinestones and do it to a book for real. Who would want to win a paperback copy of Dark Dancer covered in rhinestone bling? If I get enough comments on this post, I'll go find my glue dots and sparkly stuff and do it. How many comments is enough for that to happen? You tell me.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Corn Bread

Every once in a while, I want corn bread. I'm still trying to find the perfect recipe. This is a good basic one to start with.

Corn Bread

1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 c. milk
1 egg
3 T. oil or melted butter
1/2 t. salt
2 T. honey (or sugar)
1 c. flour (I just use regular white flour)
3 t. baking powder

Mix together cornmeal, milk, egg, oil, salt, and honey. Set it aside for about 30 minutes. This lets the cornmeal soak up the liquids.

In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Stir into the cornmeal mixture just until mixed together.

Pour into a greased pie pan and bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out mostly clean. (You can also use an 8" square cake pan or an 8" cast iron skillet, but grease the skillet really well first.)

Add-ins, stir in with the flour:
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 c. canned corn, well drained
1/2 c. jalapeƱos, chopped small and well drained

Monday, April 6, 2015

Why I Do Giveaways

It seems like the internet is just a giant steaming pile of spam some days. I hate to feel like I'm adding to it. "Buy my book," I scream as I stand on the street corner in my trenchcoat and hat, flashing book covers at people glancing my way. I'm a book pimp. And I hate that feeling. I am not good at self-promotion. I'd rather hide under my desk and write more books than get out there to promote the ones I've already written. But if I don't do it, then nobody will.

So I've decided that instead of endlessly screaming at people, I'd do the promo I'm more comfortable with. I do guest blogs and interviews. I try to connect with people on social media. And I occasionally participate in giveaways and contests and events with other authors.

Somewhere in the middle of taking care of promo and life and business things like taxes and invoices, I find time to craft more stories. Well, not right now. My writing time is being eaten up with school projects, some of which are very cool but still top secret. Let's just say I'm working on another ARG even cooler than DUST.

If you're looking for lots of promo, I can point you to a lot of authors who will gladly spam you every which way they can. If you want to read great books, I try to point you to those when I find them. If you're looking for fun giveaways, I sometimes have those, too.

Like right now, there's this one going on (Click here for the full post):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Blueberry Muffins

Muffins are tasty. And easy. And a little bit tricky, unless you make unfrosted cupcakes and let them masquerade as muffins. That's what most bakery muffins taste like to me.

To get a nice, tender muffin, be careful not to overmix them. That's what makes them tough. You want lumps in the batter, and not just the ones that are blueberries.

Serve these hot with plenty of fresh butter.

Blueberry Muffins

In a large mixing bowl, mix together:
2 c. flour (for healthier muffins, use 1 c. white and 1 c. whole wheat)
1/4 c. sugar
3 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 c. blueberries, fresh or still frozen

In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together:
1 egg
1 c. milk
3 T. melted butter

Put paper liners in a muffin pan (you need one with 12 muffin spots). Stir liquids into the dry ingredients just until barely mixed. THERE WILL BE LUMPS! That's okay. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, filling each one about 1/3 to 1/2 full.

Bake at 400° for 17-20 minutes, just until light brown. (If you want to check, a toothpick should come out clean. Or the top should spring back when lightly pressed.) Bake mini-muffin size 9-12 minutes.

Serve hot with butter and cinnamon sugar or honey.

Makes 12 regular muffins or about 20 mini-muffins.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter Giveaway!

This is not an April Fool's joke! It's another giveaway for you. This one is hosted by I Am A Reader. Be sure to check out her blog.

Easter Money 2015 An Amazing Group of Authors & Bloggers have joined with me to bring you 1 fabulous prize!! Short on cash? Here is your chance to spring into $250 in Paypal Cash. 1 lucky winner will receive $250 in Paypal Cash!
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Bella Street Time Travel Romance
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Giveaway Details
$250 Paypal Cash Ends 4/15/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  
a Rafflecopter giveaway