Friday, July 31, 2015

Missy's RWA Photos

Missy Tippens, here. I wanted to share my RWA photos in addition to Mindy's and Cate's. They're in no particular order since I loaded them from my phone. But I tried to stick to ones that involved food. :)

This was a photo posted on Seekerville. I think it's Tina Radcliffe's. I loved that she remembered the napkin!

Three of the Cafe ladies! Mindy (Left), Missy (center) and Mary/Cate (right).

Our table centerpieces at the Harlequin party were book-like lights. So beautiful!

 The Cupcake table at the Harlequin party. Lots of toppings to add!

Another of the dessert tables, including the cute Harlequin mints. (As you can see, I took the photo later in the evening.)

A nice man at the ice cream station at the Harlequin party. I was fascinated by his ice cream and toppings. He was fascinated by my accent and asked where I was from! :)

A plate nearby. I didn't ask her permission to photograph it. I'm sneaky like that. :)

Now, backing up a few days to one of our dinners at Junior's, near the hotel. An egg salad BLT. Oh, my goodness, it was YUM! And something I'm going to make at home.
For those of you who haven't ever made egg salad:

Boil the eggs and then cool them in ice water. Peel, and chop (I use an egg slicer and slice the egg in it both directions). Then add a good amount of mayonnaise, a dash of yellow mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. I also sometimes add sweet pickle relish. For this sandwich, top a big scoop of egg salad with bacon, lettuce and tomatoes.

And on that note, I'll leave you with a growling stomach and your mouth watering. :)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dark Chocolate Bark "Hashtag" HEALTHY!!!

Well, as healthy as chocolate can be, anyhow!

Hi, I'm Ruthy and I love God, my family, my country, coffee, chocolate and dogs.

Unlike mathematical order of operations, my order may change depending on the day and desperation!


"Home for the Holidays" Contemporary and Historical collections are on sale for your Kindle app or Kindle device right now! Run over here to get your .99 (yes, ninety-nine cents!!) collection and then come back... I'll wait, and make your coffee when you return so it's crazy-fresh!

Cate was talking about chromium and chocolate and all that good stuff yesterday, and that reminded me to share this super easy, "won't break the carb or calorie" bank snack:

Dark Chocolate Bark

2 bags (or 4 cups) of dark chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts, almonds, nuts of your choice

Melt chocolate over pan of hot (not boiling) water. I create my own double boiler by setting a biggish bowl over a 2-quart saucepan with about 2 inches of water in the bottom. Heat the water to simmer. Add chocolate to the bowl.

 Stir regularly. Don't let water or steam get into chocolate, that's why I use a bigger bowl to block the steam.

You can clean the kitchen or READ A BOOK while this is melting!

When melted, stir in nuts (more or less isn't a big deal). I used these Caramel Salted Peanuts:

 Spread out on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm, break into pieces. Store in covered container in fridge (at least in summer, when the weather's moderate, can be kept in cupboard. I made white chocolate bark and dark chocolate for our summer reunion:

Break into pieces:

This is a great, marvelous, quick grab without being high in calories or carbs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Post RWA15: Chocolate, Your Sweet Tooth and Chromium

Remember last week when I posted about that darn sweet tooth of mine and lamented (not really) heading into RWA where I would be served dessert after dessert after dessert?

You saw all the yummy dessert pictures in Mindy's post yesterday and I'm sure Missy has some coming up so I won't taunt you with any - yet.

Actually, I'm not just being nice. I was too busy enjoying myself to even remember to take pictures!

I noticed something with all those sweets though - many of them were dark chocolate and I found myself not eating all that much of them. It wasn't because they didn't taste good. They were sinfully delicious. But they were filling. A few bites satisfied that nasty sweet tooth.

I'm borrowing Tina's pictures from Death by Chocolate.

I got to wondering why I couldn't eat more than a few bites of each. So I did what any good writer would do  -  research!

In this case, the research was a bit of tying together what I had read in several different places. Several years ago, I read a really interesting article indicating that perhaps a chromium deficiency was responsible for people's cravings for sugar.

When I went to look for that article to write this post, I came across some other articles that tied it all together. Bear with me for the science part. I promise there is a payoff.

According to the article:
Chromium is a factor in blood sugar and cholesterol regulation, and is necessary for the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Low chromium levels can thus lead to elevated blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, or blood fats, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. This raises the risk for disorders such as diabetes and heart disease.

I've read that between 80 - 90% of Americans are deficient in Chromium. That same article included this sentence: "Eating large amounts of simple sugars also can lead to chromium deficiency."

*insert heavy sigh*

Even my sugar befuddled brain can see the Catch 22 here. Lack of chromium makes you crave sugar, but too much sugar leads to a chromium deficiency.

So, a little knowledge is good, right? But what can we do with that knowledge to interrupt this vicious sugar cycle?

This is where it gets good.   

 A little more research yielded this good news:

All chocolate is made from the raw cacao bean! Cacao is the seed of a fruit of an Amazonian tree that was brought to Central America during or before the time of the Olmecs. Cacao beans were so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that they used them as money!

Okay, I knew that, but did you know that cacao contains chromium?

Okay, bad news - I have to give a little disclaimer. My research also yielded this article that cautions that eating products made with cacao will not help you lose weight or be healthy because of all the other things in the treats. She says to beware of misleading claims and I certainly don't want to mislead my Yankee Bell pals. 

So, what do we take away from this - 

In my opinion - moderation in all things is good. If I can snack on a bit of dark chocolate and that will keep me from running to the freezer or cupboard all night in search of ice cream or cookies or candy, then it IS a good thing and not at all misleading.

So what can we eat that will give us the taste we crave without the bad stuff?

Well. there are cacao nibs. 

 But we can drink it too. Remember the post Jan Drexler did back in 2013 Not Your Children's Hot Chocolate. See, Jan was onto something!  

But if you're not a fan of chocolate, according to this article by Emilia Klapp on ShareCare:
There are small amounts of chromium in most foods. However, dark chocolate (made with a high proportion of cocoa) is rich in chromium, carrying roughly 10 times the amount of the chromium in whole grains. Whole-grain products still are excellent sources of chromium, as are:
  • Beef and calves’ liver
  • Chicken and eggs
  • Fish and seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Walnuts
  • Lettuce, broccoli, onions, and apples
  • Potatoes with skin
  • Brewer’s yeast

So what do you think? 

I'm going to try this experiment and see if eating a bit of dark chocolate or cacao can fend off that sweet tooth. I'll let you know how it works out.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear experiences anyone else has had.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mindy's RWA 2015 Recap

Just outside of our hotel.
Tex here and what a week it has been. I spent much of it smack dab in the middle of Times Square in New York City. RWA 2015 was a week of fun, exhaustion and a few firsts.

This was my first trip to the Big Apple. And while I didn't get to see a lot, there were plenty of great experiences. Starting with the shuttle ride to our hotel. Holy smokes! You couldn't pay me to drive in New York.

Love Inspired author Lisa Jordan was my traveling companion and roommate for the week. 
We barely had time to check into our hotel before meeting our editor, the amazing Melissa Endlich.
Melissa was our escort for our very first subway ride.
And she took us to the Harlequin offices.
Woolworth Building where the NY Harlequin offices are located.
Melissa and Mindy outside the Woolworth Building.
Harlequin Offices
The offices were much smaller and quieter than I'd expected. I thought it would be a flurry of activity. Instead, the editors were all tucked in their offices, staring at computer screens. I can only assume they were reading manuscripts.

After what was probably our only decent night's sleep,
The view from our hotel room. That's the Hudson River with New Jersey on the other side.
we ventured out to explore Times Square on our own. 
Talk about hustle and bustle.
This really is the city that never sleeps.
And we found the two best stores of all.
 The Hershey Store
and the M&M store!

At the literacy signing, I had the privilege of sitting beside Sandra Orchard who writes for Love Inspired Suspense and Revell. So fun getting to know her.

Thursday was filled with workshops, the LI Meet & Greet, lunch with my editor and the Harlequin Pajama party. Boy, was I wishing I hadn't eaten dinner.

But did I let that stop me? Of course, not.
Pajama party fun with LI authors Winnie Griggs and Belle Calhoun.
Friday, at the Harlequin book signing event, I was thrilled to meet and sit next to the incredible Mia Ross. Such a sweetheart. 

And things just wouldn't have been the same without Missy.

But the biggest deal of all was Friday night and the Harlequin Black and White Ball at the Waldorf Astoria. Naturally, I forgot to take pictures of the food, so I'm hoping Missy will share those with you later this week. 

The party was held in the Starlight Room, a definite feast for the eyes.
Starlight Room at the Waldorf Astoria.
What fun it was to dance the night away with my buds and fellow LI authors, Lisa Jordan and Susan May Warren.

The week culminated Saturday evening with the Rita and Golden Heart Awards. And there's no better way to top that off than with a slice of real New York Cheesecake from Juniors Diner.
Hey, who ate my cheesecake?
All in all, it was a fantastic week. The experience of a lifetime.
But, alas, all good things must come to an end. Sunday I was schlepping it to LaGuardia with conference brain. And there's only one thing you can do then...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome back, RWA Conference attendees! I hope your week is starting out well.

Mine? Well, not so good. My computer died yesterday. I'm thankful for an external hard drive and multiple backups of files on USB sticks, so I haven't lost any important files.

I'm also thankful for the tablet I bought a few months ago...because I knew my computer was at the end of its life span. But it just isn't the same. So its time to shop for a new computer!

But nothing will stop this Yankee Belle post!

Today's recipe is an easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy do-ahead lunch. It has a lot of protein from the black beans and cheese, so it will keep you going all afternoon.

Okay, here we go:

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas


2 Tablespoons oil, divided (I use coconut oil)
1/2 cup frozen corn
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon each (optional - mix and match): cumin, cilantro (fresh or dried)
a dash of cayenne pepper
1 can (about 16 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 Tablespoons lime juice
Shredded cheese (cheddar, fiesta blend, Monterrey Jack - your choice
Fajita size (6 inch) flour tortillas

Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large skillet for a minute or so, then add the 1/2 cup frozen corn. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, or until the corn is popping and browning.

Remove the corn from the skillet and set aside.

Pour the second Tablespoon of oil into the skillet, and add the onion, garlic, chili powder and other spices. Saute until the onion is soft - about 2 minutes.

Stir in the rinsed and drained beans and heat through, mashing the beans slightly as you heat them up.

Return the corn to the skillet and toss to combine.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the lime juice and salt to taste (I usually don't add any salt).

Now you can refrigerate the mixture in a covered bowl, or use some immediately. 

When you want to make your quesadillas, lay one tortilla in your pan over medium heat (you can use the same pan you used before - if you're making your quesadillas immediately, just wipe out the pan with a paper towel).

On the bottom tortilla, spread about 1/6 of the bean mixture. Sprinkle with cheese, then top with a second tortilla.

Heat thoroughly, until the bottom tortilla is a bit crisp, but not browned, then flip (carefully) the quesadilla over and brown the other side. 

Cut the quesadilla into wedges and enjoy!

One thing I love about this recipe is that I can make all six quesadillas at once on the griddle for a family dinner, or I can make one at a time for my own lunch.

You can also substitute shredded chicken for the beans if you'd rather make chicken quesadillas. I think I'd add a can of green chilies, too.

There's no limit to the combinations you can try.

Do you like "make ahead" lunches? For me, it saves a lot of time and thinking at lunch time when I have a deadline looming!