Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

Sometimes sheer boredom can inspire you.

My husband was having chicken for supper, but I don't eat chicken.

I have a freezer full of frozen wild salmon though,  and I'd just read another article on how healthy wild salmon is - this time because it contains something called astaxanthin.

I poached the salmon, but none of the tried and true fallbacks interested me. (It was THAT kind of a day.)

Then I remembered some pomegranate seeds I had. I was so excited to see the first domestic pomegranates showing up in the supermarket that I'd bought one even though I knew it was probably too early. It was. The arils looked lovely, but they had zero taste.

So - how about making a pomegranate glaze for my salmon?

It seemed a way to use both ingredients without wasting anything.

I always have pomegranate juice on hand because I like to add it to mineral water. (If you didn't know, pomegranate juice is very heart healthy.)

I poured some of that into a saucepan, added some butter (about a tablespoon)

and once the butter had melted, I added those flavorless arils.

Oh my stars!!!!!!!!

Heavenly!!!!! And it took mere minutes to prepare.

The butter blended in with the juice for just the tastiest sauce.

I intended to put it all on a bed of greens, but I put it in a bowl instead so I could eat it with a spoon and not miss any of the sauce. 

Confession time - I'm not sure this was the best taste match for the salmon. It wasn't bad (and it did grow on me).  I just think it probably would have gone better with steak. But oh that sauce was delicious.

I don't usually do shameless plugs on here, but I'm SO very excited right now. If you are reading this, it will be less than 24 hours until the release of my debut Christmas in Hiding from Love Inspired Suspense. I've been so happy with the reviews so far and I'm just so delighted that people are finally going to get to meet Callie and Jackson.

Here's the cover -

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Speaking of Pumpkins...

Yes, fall has finally arrived. Though, we have a slightly different take on autumn here in Texas. Instead of leaves turning, we have sustained temps below 100 and, if we're lucky, we might only have highs in the 80s. But with the rest of the country talking pumpkin this and pumpkin that, I'm ready to indulge in some fall treats, so today we're revisiting my quickie pumpkin muffin in a mug recipe from last year. 

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 flat tablespoon 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 2 heaping tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon vanilla OR 1 teaspoon lemon juice 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons golden flax meal
  • 1 tablespoon almond flour (if you don't have almond flour, you can use 3 tablespoons of the flax meal)
  • 3/4 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5-6 teaspoons Truvia, separated (you can use more or less, depending on your tastes. If you use another artificial sweetener, adjust according to your personal taste)
  • 1 generous tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
Put cream cheese, yogurt, vanilla or lemon juice (I prefer lemon juice because it gives the frosting a less intense taste and, to me, tastes more like cream cheese frosting) and 2-3 teaspoons sweetener into a small bowl.

Mix until smooth and set aside. This gives the sweetener a chance to dissolve.

Now grab yourself a nice size mug, crack the egg into it and whisk with a fork.
Then add your flax meal/almond flour, pie seasoning, baking powder, sweetener to taste (I usually use about 3 teaspoons/packets), pumpkin and coconut oil and whisk until everything is incorporated.

Place mug in microwave and cook on high for 60-70 seconds. You can also bake it in a ramekin or divide batter between two holes of a regular size muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Those methods would probably make for a prettier muffin, but since I'm an instant gratification kind of girl, I usually go for the microwave. Besides, even in the micro, it still comes out with a nice, cakey texture.
**Note: My microwave is 1100 watts, so if yours differs, you'll need to adjust the time accordingly.

Once done baking, dump your muffin(s) onto a plate...

I like to cut mine in half before topping it with the frosting.
And I love that there's an ample amount of frosting, so that no bite is without.

I love it. Blissful pumpkin satisfaction without the guilt. Whoo-hoo!

So I was just telling my husband that I saw the Christmas stuff going up at Walmart. He frowned, but I like it. I pick up a few things here and there. Can you believe October is almost here? This year seems to have flown by in a blur. Now it's time for me to slow down and savor life for a while. But that doesn't mean there's not work to do. Proposals need to be written, new stories explored. 

Ah, the joys of being a writer. :)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Life goes on....

Sorry to do a rerun recipe again so soon, but here's why:

This hole is in the side of our bathtub. It was made by my knee.

Now I don't know about your house, but holes don't belong in bathtubs where I live!

My knee will survive, but I'm sore, bruised and moving pretty slow, so I certainly haven't been feeling like cooking. So no new recipe to share :(  Next week, though! I promise!

And here's the other reason for this rerun:

"A Home for His Family" is bringing some nice comments my way from readers, so I thought we'd revisit the pictures I took on my first research trip to Deadwood. Back in 2013, I was just beginning to work on this story idea about a Boston school teacher out to change the world and a Civil War veteran haunted by his past who only wants to find a place he and his brother's children can call home.

The story had to be set in Deadwood, of course! This is the center of the center of Western Romance and Tradition...

Okay, maybe you can make a case for Abilene, or Dodge City, or Tombstone, but I'm sticking with Deadwood. 

If you've read "A Home for His Family," you might remember the scene where Sarah and Olivia have a conversation while climbing the Lee Street stairs. While I was in Deadwood last Friday, I took a picture of the modern version of those stairs. Even though the mining camp of 1877 has progressed into modern times, these stairs still exist for the convenience of the residents.

Believe me, I was tempted to climb up to Williams Street. I'll certainly do it the next time I'm in town!

But first, to our rerun recipe. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into my life from a couple years ago!

Easy-Peasy Chicken Turnovers (and research trip pictures!)

We'll start with a gratuitous puppy picture!

Puppyhood is fleeting - Thatcher will turn seven months old on
Wednesday. The same day as another famous puppy in Upstate New York!

When I saw Tina's fabulous Easy Crescent Danish Rolls on Friday (click here for that recipe), I remembered my recipe for Chicken Turnovers.

Much to my family's dismay, I don't remember that recipe often enough!

It's another creation with Pillsbury Crescent Rolls - boy, those pastry thingies sure are handy, aren't they?

Chicken Turnovers


2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (or store brand)

1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked, boned chicken (I used canned)

8 ounces cream cheese

seasoning to taste (I used 1 teaspoon Tone's Rosemary Garlic)

So, here's what you do:

Soften the cream cheese, either by warming in the microwave, or letting it sit in a bowl until it reaches room temperature. Mix in the chicken and seasonings, plus a little chicken broth or milk if it isn't mixing well.

A word about seasonings - The Rosemary Garlic was really good. You can also use just salt and pepper, or onion, or garlic, or Parmesan cheese and garlic....  Or go a different route and use thyme, or tarragon....

Experimenting with the seasonings is a lot of fun!

And if you want to make more turnovers, just add another can of crescent rolls and a bit more chicken. Each can of crescent rolls you use makes four turnovers.

Open one can of crescent rolls at a time and divide each can into four rectangles. Press the perforation together.

Put 2-4 Tablespoons of your cheese/chicken mixture on one end of the rectangle. Fold over the other end and seal the edges. 

I like to crimp the edges with the end of a fork....

Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden brown.

These are great by themselves, but I really like them with soup or chowder, as an alternative to sandwiches.

Especially tomato soup. Mmmmm..... Now that's a great lunch!

Now to the research trip - you all like westerns, right?

On Saturday, my husband and I took a research trip. I'm taking a (temporary) break from Amish historicals, and am working on a proposal for a story set in Deadwood in the autumn of 1876.

We started our tour by following part of the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stagecoach route from Newcastle, Wyoming to Deadwood, South Dakota.

This cow was hanging out near the scene of a violent gold robbery at the Canyon Springs stagecoach stop back in September, 1878.

We ended up in Deadwood, at the Mt. Moriah Cemetery. It was sobering to see how many of the headstones told the sad story of Deadwood residents who died at a young age. Civil War veterans, doctors, wives.... Many died in their twenties.

And the Potter's Field? Two sections. Huge. Many graves are unmarked.

The saddest were the children. Too many children in a very short time.

And yes, we had to pay our respects to Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Potato Creek Johnny and Preacher Smith.

Calamity Jane's last request? "Bury me next to Wild Bill." And that's where you'll find her.


Did you enjoy the research trip? You'll have to make a real trip to Deadwood someday! I know I can hardly wait to get back there - either by hopping in the car and heading north, or in the pages of another book.

The next story is brewing away on the back burner as we speak. ☺

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fifteen minute raspberry pop tarts!

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and we have a quick and easy recipe. I'm not a fan of canned fruit or canned filling, but my kids saw this on a kids' cooking video, so they wanted to try it. Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad! 
How's that for a recommendation, haha! No, seriously, it was pretty good for something that comes out of a can and a tube, respectively.
You'll need one can of raspberry pile filling/jelly. I think that banner at the top says NO FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, but the way it was cut off makes me laugh. 
 Several tubes of puff pastry from a tube. The kids were very excited to open these since they make that *POP* noise. This one is already stuffed, but I didn't get a picture of when they first rolled it out. You can use crescent rolls and roll it into a square with a rolling pin.
 We made two varieties. One was plain raspberry filling and one was cream cheese and raspberry. It was delicious! I like mine more like a Danish so I used 4 oz of cream cheese with 3 TBS of the filling. That made several pop tarts.
 Cut the pastry into squares, placing a few TBS of the filling onto each square and sealing with a form. Cook in the oven at 375F for about 10-15 minutes. MMMM, fresh out of the oven!
 This one is plain raspberry with a little glaze on top. It made great kid get together party food!
We also made an incredible fresh peach and cinnamon cobbler that I'll share next weekend. Fall is here and soon we'll be making everything pumpkin but for right now, we're enjoying apple season and the last of the grape harvest.
My mother and her friend made dozens of jars of fresh Concord grape juice. She brought us a whole box of jars and we drank it cold, on ice, heated with spices, and with sparkling water. It's nothing like store bought juice! If you ever wanted a chance to make your own grape juice, here a link to a step-by-step post. Super easy and after canning, it will last for a really long time. (Unless you have six kids, and in that case, it lasts about a week.)
 We're at the last of our corn harvest and we were giggling a little at our "Frankencorn". Since we use seeds from previous years, but also have Indian corn growing near the same patch, sometimes we get a little cross-pollination. It tasted great, but I gave a double take when I first saw the purple underneath.
Leaving you with this picture of our zucchini bread just out of the oven. Passing you all a virtual slice with some fresh, chilled butter. 
 Pop on over to Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits facebook page or my web site The Things that Last for books news. Until next time!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Doughnuts and Caramel Sauce

Missy, here. And I had a craving last week. For caramel (pronounced car'-muhl in my world). :) So I started digging through my saved recipes in my Food Network recipe box and found this one for Salted Caramel Sauce (click here). The recipe came from Kelsey Nixon of Kelsey's Essentials. I followed the recipe pretty closely, except for another of my kitchen FAILS, which, frankly, I'm getting tired of! :) But I'll be brave and share my embarrassment once again here on the blog.


1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup heavy cream

3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I only had salted)

1 teaspoon gray sea salt, crushed or kosher salt (I only used a pinch of pink Himalayan salt

 and it was plenty salty)

Combine sugar and water and stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.

Increase the heat to medium-high and DO NOT stir. Allow it to boil.

Allow it to boil for 5-6 minutes until it turns amber colored. I could also smell when it was about done. Do not let it turn too dark or it'll be burned!

This looked and smelled perfect.

Remove from the heat. Have your other ingredients ready. On another blog I happened to read yesterday, I found out your cream and butter should be at room temp. So be sure to pull it out ahead of time.

Whisk in the cream. And here's where I messed up. I started pouring the cream and whisking, then stopped a moment to grab the camera to show you the foaming. Um… do not stop whisking! Not for any reason, not even the blog because...

…if you stop mid-whisk, it seizes up on you. Lovely. (big sigh)

Soooo… I finished adding the cream and figured I now needed to somehow rescue my car-muhl. I decided to put it back on the heat (turned down to medium) to re-dissolve the sugar.

It worked! Then I removed it from the heat, added the butter  and salt and whisked that as well.

Once everything is stirred in, put it in a bowl to cool.

And for pure happiness, serve over vanilla ice cream. :) This recipe definitely makes a sauce, not thick caramel. It's pourable and spoonable. But it's nice for serving on top of something.

Speaking of caramel… I took my middle son to the Atlanta Symphony this past Saturday night, and after dropping him off at the dorm, I decided I needed a snack before heading home. I was thrilled to see Sublime Doughnuts was open! He had tried to take me there on multiple occasions but it had always been closed. Check out their menu (click here). Oh my goodness. These doughnuts (which I'd seen featured on TV not long back) were amazing. My son's favorite is the Fresh Strawberry N Cream, which I tried (while driving home, so no photo!). It was truly outstanding. I also bought the Dulche le Leche and Yin Yang Twist.

Pictured below are the Reece's Peanut Butter Cup and the Butter Toffee. Oh my goodness. If you ever get near one of these stores, be sure to go in and try one or a dozen. :)

Visit me at my website!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

#Pumpkin Everything???

The pumpkin craze has hit hard, and I'm a big fan because this is what's going on at the Blodgett Family Farm on Parma Center Road in Hilton.

I put that for my local readers who will see that and RACE OUT HERE to buy pumpkins!

Pie pumpkins... check how great those handles are!!!!

Big pumpkins!
Bigger pumpkins!!!!!

And these are the beginning of the 30-40lb. patch....

So that's what I did last Thursday, but roasting squash got me to thinking... I wanted to try a roasted squash pie, like a sweet potato pie, only with roasted butternut squash.

So I peeled the squash.(I know, it makes your hands feel W-E-I-R-D!!!!)

I cut them into good sized chunks and added just a splash of water. I covered them with aluminum foil and roasted them for about an hour at 400°. Enough to get some dark, roasted sides, for the squash to tender up, but not to burn it!

Then I mashed it with a stick of butter and a 1/2 cup of brown sugar. It was still lumpy because it's drier than boiled squash or simmered squash, so I tossed half of it into the food processor with 1/2 cup water and smoothed it out...

Now it's like thick, dry-ish squash, amazing flavor and a totally different texture.

So then it's pie time!!!!

Only then we picked more pumpkins. Truckloads more.

And there was no time to make pie.

Now I'm bummed. You probably are, too, but I know Pumpkin Everything can't/won't last forever! So for this week, it's been sandwiches and salads, but we will cook again in upstate! I promise!

And until then, I will be unloading and organizing pumpkins, taking care of customers and writing books. :)

Books like these, available for pre-order right now and releasing on October 10th, 2016 at $2.99 for a nearly 100,000 word book from four delightful, award-winning and best-selling authors!

Historical Collection "Home for Christmas": 

And here is the Contemporary Collection, absolutely charming... A Heart Full of Christmas with angel-inspired stories to make you smile and sigh! Also $2.99 for your Kindle or Kindle app for any device!

I cannot tell you how much fun we've had, working together to offer a collection of sweet, warm, inspirational fiction at reader-friendly prices.

God is good, all the time, and we're thrilled to have this new way of touching reader's hearts and souls, and giving you a taste of different authors for such a reasonable price.

And now... Yes, you guessed it... Back to pumpkins, after one quick look at The Mighty Finn...

Practicing for when Baby Magdalena gets born in 8 days.... Snuggling a sweet baby doll is never a bad thing!

And yes, there will be three busy boys staying with Grammy while Mommy's in the hospital... Helping with pumpkins, no doubt!