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Archive for 'recipe'

Cara North: Chocolate Pies and Cowboys (Recipe)
Monday, April 12th, 2021

Hello, everyone, and thank you for having me as a guest on this blog. I considered the many topics I could write about, but spring is upon us, and while many are not able to gather with family and friends just yet, we may still be making and eating desserts. One of my favorite go-to desserts is super easy. It has to be because I am not a great cook, and it sometimes takes me more than one try to get a recipe right. This is why I make this chocolate pie…

Cara’s Chocolate Pie

One chocolate cookie crust (pre-made)
Box of chocolate instant pudding
Container of whipped topping
Chocolate sprinkles.

Make the pudding, pour onto the readymade crust, wait until it is set, then add the whipped topping, put on the sprinkles and BAM! You have a very quick and easy dessert.

Anyone else terrible in the kitchen? What is your go-to make and take item?

Johnson Family Ranch

One of the reasons I love writing characters that know how to cook is because I wish I enjoyed cooking.

Johnson Family Ranch Book #1: Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off
She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy (Johnson Family Ranch Book 2)
Johnson Family Ranch Book #3 One Hot Momma

My cowboys certainly enjoy cooking. Since they are from a pre-facetime, social media era, I have dropped the price on this well-loved contemporary, erotic series. They are available where e-books are sold.

You can find out more about me and my work at these links:
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N.J. Walters: Sweet Christmas Traditions (Recipe)
Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

I love this time of year—the music, the colored lights, the tree, the holiday movies, and the excitement. Like most families, we have various traditions that have changed or evolved over the years. But one tradition that never changes is my mother’s fruit cake.

Yes, I said it. Fruit cake. We’re big on this holiday staple in my family, and all of us would feel slighted if our mother didn’t make us one of her amazing cakes. Heck, when I was a kid, I used to ask for one for my birthday every year. Mom would make a fruit cake for the family celebration and a chocolate one for the party with my friends. I don’t know what makes hers so special. Maybe it’s the love. All I know is Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it.

My mother was always a big baker. Growing up in our house, we always had light and dark fruitcake, pineapple cake, cherry cake, chocolate chips, brownies, snowballs, Nanaimo bars, shortbreads, and so much more. We had two long shelves in the kitchen that held nothing but cookie and cake tins. It was a kid’s paradise.

Another tradition is chocolate fudge, but not just any fudge. I use the same recipe my mother used when I was a kid. I know I’ve shared it over the years, but it’s worth repeating. It’s fast and delicious.

Five Minute Fudge
(From the Carnation Milk Cookbook)

2/3 cup of Carnation milk
1 2/3 cups of sugar

~Bring sugar and milk to a boil and boil on low heat for 5 minutes. Stir constantly. Remove from heat.

1 ½ cups chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet dark chips)
1 ½ cups of plain mini marshmallows (I use Kraft minis)
1 tsp of vanilla flavouring

Stir until smooth and pour into greased 8” X 8” pan.

Cool and cut into squares.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you all!

Burning Ash
Forgotten Brotherhood, Book 3

No one is more surprised than Asher, one of the oldest vampires on Earth, that he’s attracted to vamp hunter Jo Radcliffe. She’s smart, a talented slayer, and she’s gorgeous. Something about her pulls at him, like no one ever has before. For a man, whose name strikes fear in everyone––this is something new and intriguing. And quite possibly deadly, if she discovers his secret.

Jo has two things in common with the handsome Asher––they are both slayers and someone is messing with them in a very-much-trying-to-kill-them way. She’s not so happy about joining forces with a dude she doesn’t know. But he’s sexy as hell and really good at his job as one of the Forgotten Brotherhood, whose business it is to execute misbehaving paranormals.

She knows she’s bait in a larger plot to harm Asher and the Brotherhood. And there is nothing he won’t do, no line he won’t cross, to keep her safe––which may be the weakness that destroys them both.


About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

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M. A. Monnin: Music as a Muse (Recipe)
Friday, October 9th, 2020

I brake for great songs. Not literally, but when I’m driving, I tend to station-surf, hunting for a song that lifts me up and reflects my mood. Between FM, satellite radio, the cd player, and yes, even a cassette player, there are plenty of options in my car. I’m constantly searching for songs that make me feel—feel happy, sad, romantic, or amused. One tune that I block out all else to listen to is “Samba Pa Ti” by Santana. Something about those notes evokes yearning and sensuousness, and lifts my soul to a satisfying high.

So when I answered the submission call for short stories involving a supernatural connection to jazz for the anthology All That Weird Jazz, I knew the story I wrote would involve a song that pulled the main character in, a song like “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak, or “Still Got The Blues For You” by Gary Moore. A song that takes the listener to another world. A Siren Song.

In my story “Siren Song“, Hawk Hathaway’s soul is touched by a song, too, one that leads him to a life-changing dilemma. He listens to local jazz at The Gimlet Lounge, a bar above an old speakeasy, sitting in the dark, sipping on drinks served to him by attractive bartender Greta, who with her pierced eyebrow, plaid skirt, and biker boots is both from a different world and so out of his league.

For myself, listening to music while enjoying a refreshing drink (alcoholic or not, I’m not partial), soothes my soul and provides a calming effect that I appreciate more than usual during this troubled year. Here is a cocktail with a history as old as The Gimlet Lounge, and I’ve included a non-alcoholic version as well. It’s one of my favorites.

The French 75

The French 75 is a champagne cocktail that has been around since the early 1900s and got its name from the French artillery gun used during World War I. I enjoyed several of these when The National World War I Museum in Kansas City served them at their exciting evening events that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War. They are typically made with either cognac (French brandy) or gin. For cool fall and winter nights, I prefer them made with brandy, but on hot summer nights, a French 75 made with gin is particularly refreshing.

Serve in a coupe or flute. Makes one serving.

French 75

½ oz. cognac
½ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
3 oz. Champagne
Twist of lemon peel for garnish

Fill a shaker with ice and add cognac, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake, then strain into glass and top with Champagne. Add lemon peel.

French 75 Mocktail

3 oz. Tonic water
2 oz. Sprite
Twist of lemon peel for garnish

For the mocktail, pass on shaking over ice because both of the ingredients are carbonated. Instead, pour ingredients directly into a flute or coupe, and stir with a swizzle stick. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

The tonic water adds dryness to the drink, and there is no need to add lemon juice since Sprite already has lemon flavoring. I use Fever Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water.

Enjoy your drink, turn on the stereo or stream your music of choice, and if you have no dilemmas of your own to ponder, why not check out Hawk Hathaway’s in “Siren Song“?


All That Weird Jazz

Jazz. A music of improvisation, of passion, of its very own kind of magic. Considered by many to be the only truly original American form of music, it has since its birth in a smoky room somewhere also been tied to the strange, wrapped up in the supernatural, associated with the occult, at least in hints and shadows. Pro Se Productions now brings together several of the most innovative writers in genre fiction today in ALL THAT WEIRD JAZZ, telling the tales of the unusual between the notes, the magic behind the music.From straight up pulp action to ghostly noir to a dragon who digs Jazz more than anyone else, ALL THAT WEIRD JAZZ takes love for this unique musical styling to an all new level, complete with adventure, thrills, and even a chill or two.

Paperback Link:

Ebook Link:

About the Author

A. Monnin is an AF veteran and avocational archaeologist. She lives to travel, and can’t wait until her next foreign trip. Egypt, the French island of Guadaloupe, and the Balearic Islands are all on her agenda.

You can find her here:
Facebook: MA Monnin
Twitter: mamonnin1
Instagram: M.A.Monnin

N.J. Walters: Summer Fun at Home (Drink Recipe)
Thursday, June 18th, 2020

It’s been a stressful year and many of us will be staying closer to home this summer. If you expect to be spending more time in the backyard this season, here’s a cool and refreshing adult beverage you can make ahead of time and enjoy whenever you like.

Summer Slush

1 – 12 oz can of frozen orange juice
1 – 12 oz can of frozen lemonade
¾ cup of sugar
5 cups of water
2 cups of vodka

In large freezer proof container, mix in order given and freeze.
Serve ½ glass of slush with 7 up or ginger ale.

Things you can do at home!

Now that you have your drink, here’s some things you can do at home this summer.

1. Throw an indoor picnic. On a rainy day, spread a blanket on the living room floor, thrown down some pillows and enjoy picnic foods—fruit, cheese, crackers, fried chicken, pasta salad, or whatever you desire. If it’s an adult picnic, you can throw in a bottle of wine, light a candle and make it romantic.

2. Have one night a week where you try a new recipe. Get your family involved and all of you take turns choosing. They don’t have to be complex recipes—unless you’re so inclined. Keep it simple and fun. Fire up the grill if you have one.

3. Dessert night! I’m sure you’re seeing a theme here. Spend a day baking some tasty treats and enjoy. Or recreate a traditional English tea, complete with scones and cream.

4. Have a movie marathon day. Pick a movie series, load up on snacks, and watch them back to back. Lord of the Rings, Die Hard, Bourne Identity, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mummy. There are plenty to choose from. Or have a theme movie day—Disney, horror, comedy.

5. Take a walk or a drive somewhere different. Doesn’t have to be far. We all tend to be creatures of habit and take the same routes or go to the same places.

6. Read a book. Take yourself out to the backyard, the balcony, or walk to a park (maintaining social distancing) and enjoy a few hours.

And if you’re looking for something to read, you might want to check out ARCTIC BITE, the second book in my Forgotten Brotherhood series, out now.

Arctic Bite
Forgotten Brotherhood, Book Two

Being immortal doesn’t mean you can’t die. It just means you’re damn hard to kill.

When Alexei Medvedev joined the Forgotten Brotherhood—paranormals hired to assassinate other paranormals—he knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk. But his next target is one of Death’s own Reapers gone rogue. For the first time since he started this gig, “damn hard to kill” feels more like “damn near impossible.”

Tracking Cassie Dobbs brings him to a remote bar in small-town Alaska, where this hot-as-hell Reaper is casually serving drinks, as if she doesn’t have a bounty on her head from Death himself. Alexei is dangerously intrigued. Everyone in the Brotherhood knows the first rule: don’t fall for your target.

But Alexei soon has bigger problems to face than an unexpected attraction. They only send assassins after those who deserve to die…or so he’s been made to believe. Now that he’s met Cassie, though, he’s not so sure.

What if everything he’s been told is a lie, and the person he’s been sent to kill is the only one who knows the truth?


About the Author

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Visit me at:
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Nalini Warriar: Karma’s Slow Burn (Excerpt & Recipe)
Thursday, December 26th, 2019

Thank you, Delilah, for hosting me and my new romance Karma’s Slow Burn.

I’m about half way through my pre-release journey and boy, I can’t tell you how long this seems. But, I did and still do need this time to get a lot of balls balancing in the air in beautiful harmony. And I still hope (fingers crossed) one of those balls won’t come crashing down on me.

I’ve received three good reviews from as many ARC readers. It is not nearly enough to get my book on reputed-maybe too hyped?-advertisers sites. All of them require at least five four-star reviews. Which is understandable due to the over-whelming numbers of books being released. Which is a downer for an indie author like me. I have to keep working to find those choice spots so my book does not fade into oblivion even before it is released!

Then there are the shenanigans with Amazon about getting those two reviews on my book’s page. The only place to put a review not posted by an Amazon buyer (they can’t because my book in not yet available) is to get in touch with Amazon. Days 1,2. Then they send me a link I can use to send them the reviews, which they will enter on my book page for me. The email they sent is invalid and my email bounces right back. I again send them yet another email, through KDP, Author Central or Customer Service? Aargh! Too many choices. Day 3. They send me the right one but meanwhile I can’t schedule any actual promotion because my book details are not current. Double aargh!

Now that the issue has been resolved, I heave a tiny sigh of relief. Now I have to see how I can get those precious reviews on Smashwords. I will need a barrel of luck as it does not look good.

Karma’s Slow Burn

Karma’s Slow Burn, promo price of $1.99 on pre-order until date of release on 1 Feb 2020
Buy Links:

Sportswriter Karma Huntington is going to hit Rafael Henley, star pitcher for the Sliders, hard to avenge her husband’s death. Rafael cannot ignore the chemistry between them and decides a one-night stand is in order. Karma agrees. Just to get that itch off. But once they get into each other’s pants, things get complicated. Revenge and guilt take a back seat with sizzling chemistry in control. Rafael likes willowy blondes and women who don’t look to him as their protector. Yet here is, lusting after the complete opposite: petite, raven-haired, Karma with a rose tat running up her neck. Can Rafael overcome the dark secret he hides and give in to what his heart wants? Will Karma finally admit she needs Rafael?

Excerpt from Karma’s Slow Burn:

As Karma drove home, the large orange globe of a full moon hung before her eyes, bathing the countryside in its silver glow. The deserted road stretched in front of her, turned and disappeared between the trees. It was a magical and beautiful night. The scent of lilacs wafted from the back seat of her electric car. Trudie had cut her some lilac sprigs. He had three different colors growing in the yard.

Karma listened to Linus Radisson’s music. She waited for the part where Radisson’s voice became husky and slithered all over her. She waited for the part where it cracked at just the right spot. He had a very sexy voice and she sighed, her shoulders falling and her arms dropping from the wheel, carried away by the rhythm in the ballad. There was a jolt and her butt lifted up from the seat. As it sunk back, there was a loud thud. She felt the car pulling to the right.
Dammit! A bloody pothole! A flat. Immediately, there was a ping. Her overly environmentally friendly car had just run out of juice.

Double fudge!

She eased her smart vehicle slowly to the grassy side where it stopped of its own volition. She got out and inspected the damage. In the light of the moon, she could see the right front wheel sagging. Karma opened her trunk, got out the jack and began the intricate process of changing the flat.


Rafael Henley started his Harley Street Glide and eased out onto the open road from his home in the country. Lush woods surrounded the ten plus acres. Hidden deep in the greenery, a stream trickled down ancient rocks. It was a good place to raise Ali.

He’d left an exhausted Ali asleep, with Rosita close by, after an afternoon of splashing in the pool, leaving him a bit of time to indulge in his passion. It was something only Linus knew about. Helmet donned and he could be anybody.

It was a beautiful evening, the sun leaving pink streaks in the darkening sky. The sliver of the moon turned round and yellow. Soon, he would be alone with the wind in his hair. It was another secret he kept: out on the road with nothing in sight, he took off his helmet and was one with the countryside.

It happened half an hour into his ride. He saw her illuminated in the pale glow of the twilight just as he was coming out of a bend. It couldn’t be anyone else but Karma. Not with those long, black waves rippling down her back. Not with his senses all on alert. There was a tiny something-could be called a car-parked by the side. She was at work at one of the tires. She paused, made a movement with her hands and there was no more hair rippling down her back. Her almost naked back. Her dress glistened in the glow of the moon. It was pale, strapless and the back dipped in a sumptuous V. He could make out the way it hugged her curves.


It was enough to make him hard. What was it about this woman? She was not good for his sanity. She brought up bad memories. But his cock didn’t know any better. It wanted what it wanted. And it wanted her.

As he killed his engine and walked toward her, he untucked his T-shirt. It fell below his fly and he was grateful to be able to hide the evidence of his arousal. She was kneeling on a rolled up blanket, a pair of pale shoes by her side. In the glow of the portable light by her side, he saw her arms move. Gravel crunched beneath his shoes.


Karma was almost done with the last bolt when she heard the crunch of gravel behind her. A sleek road hog pulled up beside her. She put the wrench down and sank down on the grass. Of all the people to run into, it had to be him.

“Need help? A ride?” The familiar voice rubbed into her skin and seeped in like the lavender lotion she loved.

Just his voice gave her goose bumps. Karma turned to look at him. Moonlight glinted off the chrome on his motorcycle.

“Nope, Henley, I’m all done. Thanks for stopping, anyway.”

“Mind if I keep you company?”

Karma hesitated for a brief moment before she said, “No.”

She got her phone out to call her father. And a tow truck. He got off the magnificent machine and stood by her with his hands in his pockets.

“Lovely night,” he sniffed the air. “Fresh air.”


“You don’t live around here.” A statement not a question.

“Nope don’t. Visiting my father. Thought you lived in the city. In a penthouse.”

“Yep. But I also have place in the country. Not far from here.”


He came down on his haunches beside her. He was wearing a pale colored T-shirt: either blue or white and jeans. Dark hair, in sexy disarray from the bike ride, fell over his eyes. There was a faint aroma of something smoky. It was seductive. She took a deep whiff of it.

“What are you doing with a flat at a time like this?” She caught a flash of his smile in the night.

“Well,” Karma began slowly. “I had no choice. It chose me.”

“That can happen,” he laughed softly.

She stuck the phone back in her pocket and gave the bolt a final twist. Then she stretched her arms over her head, leaned them back on the soft grass and looked at the sky.

“I can’t believe it. Just a couple of months ago all this was under snow.” She looked around her.

“It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? That the cycle goes on and on seemingly forever?”

When she was done, he got to his feet and gave her his hand. He pulled her up. She made sure not to get too close to him. She put the wrench away and he handed over the rest of her stuff.

“Who’re you calling?” he butted in when she began her second call.

“My father. Need a ride home. My zero emission wonder is out of juice.”

“I can give you a ride. No need to disturb your father.”

Karma debated. On the one hand she’d promised herself she’d focus on her plan. On the other, the Harley was hot and she wanted to feel it beneath her. It was no contest at all. Prudence lost by a mile. But they still had to wait for the tow truck.

She pressed her phone and soon Linus Radisson’s voice flowed through the moonlit countryside.


“Are you still in touch with Linus?” With those words she opened the can of worms.

Any desire he had for her screeched like a banshee and made for the hills. “Yes, we’ve stayed friends.”

“That’s nice. Like Kim and I.”


He was damned sure it was not the same. What he had with Linus was way beyond simple friendship. It was karma. They were brothers in every way except blood, drawn to each other from the moment they met. They were two kindred souls who’d found each other in an ocean of souls. They were two sides of the same coin, each unique and distinct.

“He has the most amazing voice. And the guitar….it rips me apart.”

His sentiments exactly, though he didn’t say it out loud. His grunt should have been agreement enough. Linus’s music was the balm to his wounds. It took him places. He never needed anything else to keep him soaring, always lifting him up when he was down. And when he felt like wallowing, Linus was there too with his dark lyrics and brooding harmonics.

“Isn’t he up for a Grammy?”

“Or more, I wouldn’t be surprised. His latest album packs quite a punch, both lyrical and musical.”

“How’s your daughter?”

He knew what she was doing. She was controlling the conversation. The thing was, he couldn’t have cared less. He was content to sit by her side in the moonlight, let her fragrance soak into him, knowing something was about to change.

She plopped down on the grass again and he followed suit, his hands braced behind him. She hitched the dress up to her thighs and sat cross-legged, her hair tumbling over her shoulders. She didn’t seem to notice when a breeze picked up strands and blew them across his body, the silky fingers whispering around his biceps. He snagged a wayward strand. It curled around his finger as if it had a life of its own. He resisted the impulse to rake his fingers through her hair. He resisted the urge to pull her into his arms and wrap them around her to make her disappear in them like he’d done outside Josh’s.

And he was back where he’d started. As desire for her surged in him, he beat it down with an iron fist even as his dick thickened and hardened to wood. He shook his head to empty them of lustful thoughts and focused on what she was saying.

Recipe from Karma’s Slow Burn.

Karma’s Axle Grease Smoothie

-1 ripe banana
-1 ball frozen spinach
-handful blueberries
-10 raw cashews
-2 dates
-1/2” piece of ginger root, peeled
-1 tsp each of hemp flour, nutritional yeast and flax seed powder
-up to 2 cups liquid (water, almond or soy milk) for desired consistency

Buzz in a high speed blender. Pour into tall glasses and enjoy.

Fireflies in the Night

Literary Fiction, winner of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award; Best Books of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews; Starred Kirkus Review; Finalist Foreword Reviews Indie Fiction Award. A historical, coming-of-age novel.

Buy Link:

About the author

Nalini Warriar dreamed of being a writer then forgot the dream for a bit as she went on to garner a Ph.D in Molecular Biology. While in her lab, the dream came back and hit her on the head and she’s never looked back writing through her years as a scientist. After more than a decade in cancer research, Nalini returned to the creative part of her soul and now devotes her time to dreaming up the perfect alpha male and feisty woman to appear in her books. Her novel, Fireflies in the Night, was a Foreword Reviews Fab Award finalist and won the Next Generation Indie Book Award in 2017. Kirkus Reviews awarded Fireflies in the Night a starred review and named it Best Books of 2016. Karma’s Slow Burn, a contemporary romance will be released in February 2020. She’s working on her next romance, a Crenshaw Brothers book, to be released in 2020. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

Author Links:
Twitter: @nwarriar

Diana Cosby: Giving The Gift Of Thanks (Recipe & Contest)
Sunday, December 1st, 2019

UPDATE: The winner is…Patricia Barraclough!

Diana Cosby ©2019

Liam and the Christmas Sheep


Gifts come in many shapes and sizes, but I believe the most precious ones are those delivered from the heart. It’s easy to get caught up in the mayhem of life, particularly during the hustle and bustle of the Holidays, but every day, there are people amidst the chaos who help you, who take time out of their busy lives to make a difference in yours. This year, why not return that gift?

This holiday season, as wrapped gifts exchange hands, I ask you to pause, reflect on those who’ve truly made a difference in your life, and if possible, find a special way to say thank you. This can be a simple gesture—something like a greeting card, a bouquet of flowers, or a heartfelt poem. Maybe you could bake someone their favorite cookies? Or, present them a coupon book filled with everyday chores, which they can tear out and give you to do on those trying days when they need a helping hand. The absolute best gift you can offer another person is one given from the heart. And when special-delivered, without any strings attached, it touches their own.

This Christmas, I’m making gift baskets filled with my favorite homemade things, such as macadamia-butterscotch chip cookies, shortbread, double chocolate-orange-pecan biscotti, Vermont maple syrup, and more. With each one, I’m sharing a part of myself with the other person.

What ideas can you think of? Remember—the more original and inventive, the more fun! I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

My gift to you, one of my favorite recipes:


1 tsp. salt                     1 tsp. baking powder               1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sugar                   ⅞th cup peanut butter          12 oz. butterscotch chips
1 cup butter                  2 eggs                                  3 cups flour
1 tbsp. Amaretto or vanilla
1¼th cup chopped macadamia nuts
1⅛th cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl mix butter, sugar, and brown sugar, then whip in the Amaretto (or vanilla) and peanut butter. Beat in eggs. Add baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Once mixed, add butterscotch chips and macadamia nuts. Mix in flour. Chill dough.

Bake for 11 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool and enjoy!

Author’s note:
An avid baker who enjoys creating new twists on recipes, Seathan MacGruder is the hero of His Conquest, the 3rd book in the best-selling MacGruder brothers’ Scottish medieval romantic suspense series. For more information about the MacGruder brothers, visit Diana’s website!

I sincerely wish everyone health, friendship and happiness this holiday season.


ONE winner will be drawn from everyone who posts on my guest blog post about, ‘Giving The Gift of Thanks,’ on Delilah’s blog between 1 December 2019 – 8 December 2019. The winner will receive one of Diana’s mugs and a tote.


Diana Cosby, International Best-Selling Author
The Oath Trilogy
MacGruder Brother Series
Forbidden Series: Forbidden Legacy/Forbidden Knight/Forbidden Vow/Forbidden Alliance/ Forbidden Realm‒14th April 2020

Ane Ryan Walker: Thanksgiving — So much to be thankful for and so many things that can and will go wrong. Count on it. (Recipe)
Sunday, November 24th, 2019

Psst! My apologies to Ane! I’m posting this a day late. My mother went into the hospital on Friday, so we’re a bit upside down at Devlin house! Enjoy the post!


I am fully aware The Holiday is not quite here, but this year will be the first time I’ve had the opportunity to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family in about five years. When I retired, my husband and I opted to travel the country, living fulltime in our RV, clearing our bucket list and volunteering in State parks. That five-year trip was an exceptional adventure. Now, as I get ready to move back into a “Brick and Stick” house and wait for the delivery of my personal belongings from storage, I’m recalling the incredible number of disasters—both imagined and real that happened over the fifty odd years when I was in charge of the kitchen, menu, turkey, etc.

So, what I’d like to do is share a few ground rules guidelines that might help you get through the holiday with less stress and, hopefully, a little more peace on earth.

Again, and this bears repeating: What can go wrong usually will.

Typically, it takes about five days to thaw a 24 lb. turkey. I found out the hard way, that this feat can be accomplished in about two to three hours. It requires a large, clean cooler. Place the cooler in a bathtub. Fill it with lukewarm water, immerse the frozen turkey and spin until the water cools. Dump the cold water and begin the process again. Repeat until the turkey thaws.

You’re wondering how I know this. One year, when newly a nurse and far from my hometown, several of the single nurses decided to have a “friends” holiday. Since our employer provided each of us a turkey, as a group, we donated the excess birds to a local church for their holiday food drive. We also opted to split the Thanksgiving “on call” hours into eight-hour shifts. At eight AM on Thanksgiving Day, the nurse relieving me from call handed me a frozen turkey. That’s right. 24 lbs. to be cooked by 4 PM.

My friends and I survived with a few adjustments and had a terrific holiday. But I learned a few things that day which have served me well over the years. These are not really rules for holidays but think of them as guidelines. Please use what you can and ignore the rest.

When you have a galley kitchen in a tiny apartment, people don’t usually invade your space. Unless they really want to help you cook. Make a plan and stick to it. Check back with the people who agree to help with the cooking to make sure you stay on the same page.

This Frozen Turkey event exacerbated the control freak in me. I never approached a large gathering or a family holiday in the same frivolous way as I did on that single girlfriends Thanksgiving.

Rules Guidelines for Holiday Survival

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Plan ahead.
  3. Clean out the fridge before the big day. This will assure the storage containers are clean and available.
  4. Make a list of things you can cook ahead that will not suffer in reheating. Desserts, rolls, snacks, are an excellent choice.
  5. Assign side dishes, dessert, etc. to relatives who want to help. This only works with reliable people who will stick to your plan.
  6. Remember your company will probably show up early, to assure them a good parking spot.
  7. Be prepared for people who want to help in the kitchen on the day. Leave chores you can trust them with and set up for them. I usually set the table but don’t add napkins, silver, serving spoons to the table. I assemble these things on a tray. Assign the chore, relieve the stress on the kitchen and appreciate the help.
  8. When you assign side dishes to relatives, be specific about what you can cook. You cannot cook your turkey when friends and relatives show up expecting you to manage the cooking or reheating for 120 side dishes at different temps while you are cooking turkey. Remember, 1 oven, 1 microwave, 1 toaster oven, is usually all that’s available. In a pinch, you can empty the dishwasher, turn on the drying cycle and load the reheated food into the top rack while you manage shifting other sides around for reheating. Rolls do okay but keep an eye out for food drying out. Short term use.
  9. Make sure you have extra foil and plastic wrap on hand as well as containers you don’t need to have returned. I buy a pack of easily forgotten containers at the Dollar Store, along with a multipack of shower caps. The shower caps are great for covering pies, cookies, and individual plates. I think you get twenty for $1.
  10. Remember, the oven is only so big. In an apartment you might not be able to fit a giant bird in there. Two birds are better than one. Double the dark meat. Two wishbones, need I say more? You can cook the smaller birds back to back. When you carve and serve the first, slip the other precooked turkey into the oven while your guests are enjoying the first bird.
  11. If you’re also having a houseful of company, make sure you plan for a good breakfast. I usually do an egg, sausage, and bread casserole assembled the night before, cooked first thing in the morning and served with fruit, coffee, and sweet breads. This breakfast is hearty enough to keep the family satisfied till dinner is ready midafternoon. It holds up well for stragglers, too.

And I’m including a real southern recipe for Corn Pudding just in case you can’t take one more year of looking at the green bean casserole.

Corn Pudding Recipe

¼ cup of all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 cups fresh or frozen corn, drained, and divided
3 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
¼ cup unsalted butter melted
1 ½ Tbs. scallions chopped, optional

Grease and flour an 8×8 baking dish or casserole dish of the same size. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour, sugar, salt, and pepper, set aside. Pulse one cup of corn in a food processor until smooth. Set aside. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then stir in flour and milk until combined. Whisk in melted butter and corn puree, add scallions and the rest of the corn. Stir to combine well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake in preheated oven until puffed and lightly browned. Takes about 40 minutes. Sprinkle the top with chopped scallions if desired. Enjoy. FYI, this dish is delicious served hot or just warm.

Happy Thanksgiving!

About the Author

Ane Ryan Walker is an author and adventurer who believes in Angels, Demons, Witches and Magic. She recently settled in Alabama, after traveling the country with her husband and living fulltime in her RV. Ane is a member of Romance Writers of America©, Greater Houston RWA, and Women’s Fiction Chapter of RWA.

Born and raised in the great northeast, she writes a fictional series Survivors of Salem, about the witches who survived the Salem Witch Trials. She is also currently working on books about fulltime RVing.

In addition to Return to Angels Cove, look for the second book in the Survivors of Salem, The Covenant.