Tag Archives: BigW ebooks

FRIDAY FEAST with J.M. Bray

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Welcome to Friday Feast, where food and fiction unites in one mouth-watering place!

And we’re going to be getting very mouth-watery soon with a Feast first-timer. But I’m sure you’re anxious for the latest instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you. Last week I only lost one ball to a dam. A miracle! Next week I’m aiming for none. Can such a feat be achieved? Stay tuned!author JM Bray

Now on to my guest, a man set to break Feasty tradition. No, not because he’s a he – although this is unusual – but because he’s… American. Yes, today’s guest, J.M. Bray hails from Southern California.

I know, I know. Friday Feast is usually restricted to my enormously talented and glamorous Australian compatriots, but  J.M. asked nicely if he could and I said yes. ‘Tis good to have variety, plus J.M. is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and is published by Australian publisher Escape. And he plays guitar and races a Porche, which, let’s face it, sounds pretty damn cool, so I think we can kind of claim him for today.

J.M.’s debut release is a new adult romantic fantasy novel called Tearing The Shroud and it looks a brilliant read. Take a peek.

 

TEARING THE SHROUD

 

Cover of Tearing The Shroud by JM BrayFall in love, be possessed, hunt a sorcerer and save the world — and Vincent thought calculus was tough.

1984 — Vincent expected college to be about freedom and girls, but then the nightmares of sorcery, monsters and other worlds began. Not even the surprising attention from his dream girl, Julie, could shake them.

Before he’s even nailed his second date with Julie, he’s possessed by Coleman, a warrior from another realm. Coleman is hell bent on defeating the monstrous Kafla who threatens to tear into Vincent’s reality, changing both his and Coleman’s worlds forever. They have one chance to stop them: Vincent must allow Coleman to share his body and wage war against the sorcerer.

Now it’s up to them, the women they love, and Vincent’s rag-tag bunch of role- playing and gaming friends to save the world, or see 1984 descend into the apocalypse.

 

See? Told you it sounded fantastic. It’s available now for immediate download to your e-reader, tablet, computer and phone.  Buy from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, BigW ebooks, Google Play and JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Excellent. Now enjoy this man-in-the-kitchen moment!

 

On Grandmother’s Stepstool

 

The earliest memory I have of a cooking is being on a stool next to my grandmother. We lived in a small house behind her home and every morning until I was five, I’d toddle down to her back porch where she waited for me. I can still here her say, “Come on, honey, help grandma cook.” Her heavy, white porcelain, gas stove with cast iron skillets and big pots bubbled and sizzled magically. I would watch as she fried bacon, then used the dripping to fry eggs, the centers soft and the edges a crispy dark brown from the bacon fat.

Photo of JM Bray Teaching his 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

Teaching my 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

My very first experience as a “cook” was near that time, stirring the white, sausage gravy. Yes, sausage, bacon, fried potatoes, eggs, fluffy biscuits (scones), coffee and juice was the normal breakfast. She was from the south, of Irish descent, born in 1898, five foot two inches tall and not a thin woman…which isn’t surprising given the food she made. Based on the time frame, I was about four. I’d stir the white gravy, with a spiraled whisk, careful to keep it from sticking as it thickened to a creamy consistency, later to be slathered over buttered biscuits.

Through years, she taught me how to bake bread (which she did twice a week until her death at age 81,) flip eggs without breaking them, make gravy and cook my favorite…potato soup. I once ate so much of it as a young teen that when I tried to stand afterward, I ended up on the kitchen floor. I learned my love for cooking at her side. I am the cook in our family and every time I lift a ladle or toss a spice in without measuring it, she is with me.

Today’s recipe is of that same soup…though I’ve made a slight improvement on her recipe. I think she’d approve. This soup, made by my protagonist for his girlfriend and her family, appears in Mending the Shroud, book two of the Shroud Trilogy. It will release mid-year through Escape Publishing. Consider this a preview.

In the Comments section post a fond memory of you have of a family recipe or cooking with grandma. We’ll roll the dice among the entrants and the winner will receive an ebook (.mobi or .epub) of my romantic fantasy novel, Tearing the Shroud.

 

 Potato Soup

 

Ingredients for potato soup

8 large-ish russet potatoes (about fist sized) peeled and cubed

1 medium onion chopped

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk

Water

Salt

Pepper.

Serves 6-8 as a full meal.

chopped onions

Chop the onions and put them in a large pot with the stick of butter on a low-medium heat to cook until transparent or slightly golden.

cooking the onions

While that’s cooking, peel the potatoes and cube them to about 3/4 inch.

chopped potatoes

When the onions are ready add the potatoes to the pot and stir carefully, coating them with the onion butter mixture. Add just enough water to come ¾ of the way up the potatoes.

Adding the potatoes to the pot

Bring to a light boil, cover and let cook until the potatoes break apart when poked with a fork. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of water.

(This is the change from grandma. who boiled the potatoes and onion in a lot of water, poured it off, then added the butter. Which I think tosses away some of the potato-y-goodness)

Add the can of milk and mash with a hand potato masher…DO NOT MIX with a mixer or immersion blender. It breaks up the potato too much and makes it too starchy. You want the soup to have texture with little pieces of potato.

Potato soup 

If you need to thin the soup, use milk or half and half, not water.

Salt and pepper to taste. It takes much more salt than you’d think, so don’t be shy.

As you can see, this is not a health conscious recipe, but is it ever good! It is, however economical. For less than five dollars, you can serve a hearty meal for 6-8 people. This soup also works wonderfully as a starter for large dinners or banquets. When I’ve done this, I just multiply the ingredients for my crowd and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped chives just before bringing to the table.

Enjoy!

JM

 

I think we will enjoy, J.M. What a handy recipe. With that creamy, buttery spudly goodness I’m thinking it’ll taste awesome too.

So Feasters, we have another giveaway!

Share a fond memory of cooking with your grandma or a treasured family recipe and you’ll go into the draw to win an e-book copy of J.M.’s fab novel, Tearing The Shroud.

I have lots of wonderful memories of cooking with my Nanny. Mum used to go off to netball on Saturdays and I would spend the afternoon with my grandparents. During those hours Nanny taught me to bake and sew and do all sorts of house-wifely things. They were lovely times that I’ll always treasure.

What about you? Any sweet memories you can make us dewy-eyed with?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 4th March 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about J.M. and his books, please visit his website. You can also connect via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and also through his blog.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Victoria Purman

We’re baaaaaack!

Welcome to the first instalment of Friday Feast for 2014. And what a cracking year it’s going to be. Already slots are filling up fast, with a fantastic line-up of authors for your delectation.

How has your summer been so far? Stinking hot no doubt. It’s been a blistery one, that’s for sure. Never fear. You can be super cool with Friday Feast.

And now, because I just know you’re hanging out for Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, here’s a quick update: After three-putting 8 out of 18 holes the week before last and too many again last week, I fear my putter has developed yet another fault. Or my brain has. I suspect the latter. Sigh. But at least my new bright purple golfing outfit looks totally groovin’, even if it does make me resemble a grape-flavoured jube.Austrlalian author Victoria Purman

Speaking of groovin’, my guest today hails from my home state of South Australia, which naturally means she’s super talented as well as nice. Victoria Purman hit the charts with her debut novel Nobody But Him. Now she has a new romance on the shelves with the second in her Boys of Summer series.

Take a look at the utterly gorgeous Someone Like You.

 

SOMEONE LIKE YOU

 

Cover of Someone Like You by Victoria PurmanWhen Lizzie Blake knocks on the door of Dan McSwaine’s beach house at Middle Point, she barely recognises the man who answers. What ever happened to the guy who swaggered into her home town with a grin and left wither heart in his back pocket? Lizzie wonders if he’ll ever be that man again – and if she should risk everything she’s built her life on to help him.

Dan can’t normally bear to be more than ten minutes from a hip bar, an imported beer and a group of hot women. So what is he doing holed up in a falling down beach shack at Middle Point? All he knows is that he’s made some crazy decisions since the night a truck slammed into his care and almost killed him. The first one was to think that buying a crumbling piece of coastal real estate was a good idea. The second crazy decision was to try to hide away from the world when a woman like Lizzie Blake is determined to drag him right back into it.

 

Doesn’t that sound delicious? The perfect summer read. And it can be yours with a quick trip to your local independent bookseller or a trip to your nearest chain store. Or you can just click away at these retailers: For the print and ebook, try direct from the publisher, Harlequin, or Booktopia, Bookworld, and QBD The Bookshop. For the ebook, try Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW or your favourite store.

All bookied up? Excellent. Now get cool with Victoria!

 

Summer Love Is Like No Other Love…

Neither Is The Food

 

It’s hot where I live.

In South Australia, we’re in the middle of our second heat wave of the summer, during which we’ll have temperatures of 40 degrees and above for ten days or more.  It’s been so hot that we consider 35 a cool change.

Victoria and her mum Emma

Victoria & her mum Emma

When it’s this hot, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking.

Funny that the heat doesn’t seem to dull my hunger, however.

This recipe is one of my summer standbys – handed down to me by my Hungarian mother, Emma.

You might by thinking that this is just a plain and simple potato salad. But the secret of its Hungarian deliciousness is the eggs – lots of eggs – and those delicious Euro-style gherkins.

My Mum serves it with her special-recipe crumbed chicken – which my three teenage boys aka The Hungry Horde – devour like it’s their last day on earth.

I cook up a huge batch of this salad and have it on hand on the fridge to fill the stomachs of The Hungry Horde with a cold chicken or some snags.

Oh, and it’s delicious with a cold beer.

Oma’s European-Style Potato Salad

European style potato salad

2kg potatoes

8 hard-boiled eggs

1 onion, very finely chopped

Finely chopped gherkins (the European kind)

Lovely mayonnaise – I use the whole egg kind

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil your potatoes and let them get cold. Peel them and slice them into a huge bowl.

Wait for your eggs to cool and break them up with a fork. I actually use one of this ginchy egg slicer doohickeys, which is fun as well as fast. Add the eggs to your potatoes, along with the finely chopped onion and gherkins.

Add your mayo a tablespoon at a time so you don’t over-mayo.

Stir. Voila! You have your wonderful, eggy deliciousness!

 

Oh, yumptious! Thanks, Victoria. I’m a complete sucker for potato salad at the best of times but add some eggs and we’re talking heaven! Perfect for this time of year, when we’re entertaining outdoors, picnicking and barbecuing.

Would you like to win a Kindle copy of Someone Like You? Well, here’s your chance. Reveal your favourite summer salad and you’ll go into the draw. I have a new one I’m rather enamoured of, made with baby spinach, chick peas, red onion, roasted sweet potato and other goodies, and dressed with a yoghurt and pomegranate molasses dressing. It is beautiful!

So what about you? Are you a traditionalist who loves nothing better than a crunchy coleslaw? Maybe you prefer a touch of exotica with some hot and sour Asian noodles to spice things up. Share away and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST Tuesday 11th February. Open to Australian addresses only.

Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay. You can download the reading app to your phone, tablet, laptop or computer and read where you like. It’s easy!

If you’d like to learn more about Victoria and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Iris who has won a Kindle copy of Victoria’s latest release Someone Like You. Thanks to everyone for playing along.

FRIDAY FEAST with Sarah Mayberry

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Whoop! It’s Friiiiiday. And an especially good one for me because I’m on the cusp of handing in the first round of my Rocking Horse Hill edits. Plus I have a super-cool new guest for you. But first, the moment you’ve been waiting for, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly.

I had an airy. Yup, I took a swing and missed the ball completely. And this was after I’d taken a penalty drop as punishment for hitting my ball into a water hazard. About sums things up, really. Ahh, well. At least it wasn’t Sarah Mayberry author photoon the first tee in front of everyone. One must be thankful for small mercies.

Now to my guest. Please excuse me while I have a major fan-girl moment, cos Sarah Mayberry is all kinds of awesome. Not only is she a most splendiferous super-selling romance author, she writes for Australia’s longest surviving serial drama, Neighbours! Sarah has also co-created her own TV drama called Karaoke High (sounds like my kind of school), occasionally helps out on other shows, and consults on movie projects. See? Told you she was cool.

Sarah’s latest release is Her Favourite Rival, a book I just loved. The zing between the hero and heroine, both beautifully drawn characters, is perfect. If you want a feel good book, the sort you’ll want to cuddle afterward because you had such a good time, then this is it.

 

HER FAVOURITE RIVAL

 

Cover of Her Favourite Rival by Sarah MayberryA new meaning for office politics!

Audrey Mathews has worked hard to get here. Now she’s up for a promotion and nothing will stand in her way – including Zach Black. He’s hot, smart and the competition. When they’re assigned to the same project, she’s shocked at how much she actually likes about him….and how much she misjudged him.

Before long Audrey is seriously falling for Zach – and indulging in an affair that’s against company policy. And the stakes rise when it’s clear only one of them can get ahead. So where do they draw the line between competition and love? Especially when she doesn’t want to lose either the promotion or the guy…

 

Trust me, this is a cracking romance. And there’s a related book, too – Her Favourite Temptation – which is equally as good.

You can purchase Her Favourite Rival right now direct from the publisher, Harlequin, or try your local book or chain store, or that most excellent of booksellers, Booktopia. For the ebook, try Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, iTunes, BigW ebooks or your favourite retailer.

Now that you’re all loaded up, go have some foodie fun with Sarah.

 

Contraband Cake

First up, a big thanks to Cathryn for inviting me to talk about one of my favourite things today – food! It took me ages to decide what recipe I wanted to share with everyone, and I finally fell back on a cake that has been living in my subconscious for the past few months – a sure sign that it’s time for me to bust out the bundt tin and make it again!

Like any self-respecting romance writer, I have been having a love affair with cake in all its forms all my life. Pretty much anything goes for me, except that horrible thick marzipan icing – blurg. Otherwise, if its made from sugar, fats and flour, the sky is the limit. When we were kids, I can remember my mum making brandy alexander cakes, and piping cream into sponges and chocolate cakes. Because my mother was nothing if not modern, she was an early adaptor of the packet cake mix, and more power to her. Us kids definitely didn’t know the difference! Helping her cook and then fighting with my siblings for first go at the bowl and the beaters are some of my fondest and yummiest memories. In fact, there was a time there where I was convinced that cake actually tasted better as a batter than it did cooked. Crazy times, indeed.

I should probably confess up front that today’s recipe was stolen from a magazine when we were living in New Zealand. It was a very old, tatty magazine, the type that kicks around a cafe until it is actually a biological hazard it’s so old. Nevertheless, I employed the usual covert stratagems in order to liberate the recipe page from the clutches of the magazine’s binding – my husband was appointed lookout and instructed to cough loudly as I tore out the page as discreetly as possible. This was – obviously! – in the days before iphones and whatnot. Nowadays I just boldly take a picture of the recipe on the page.

The thing was, once I saw the picture of this finished cake and read the instructions, I knew this cake was for me. It’s moist, it’s got dates in it, and there is chocolate. Oh, and there’s alcohol. It’s hard to argue with all of the above, don’t you think? It’s not a cake you want to inflict on a family gathering – the kids will be very sulky because they can’t have any because of the alcohol – but it’s fantastic as a dessert cake. I am actually drooling a little while typing this.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s my recipe, I hope you get a chance to make it and enjoy:

 

Coffee Drizzle Cake with Dates

Photo of coffee drizzle cake with dates

Serves 8

Cake

225g/8oz butter, softened and chopped

2 cups caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

3 eggs

150g/5.5oz ground almonds

1 1/3 cups self raising flour

1 teaspoon bicarb of soda

30g/1oz of cocoa

1 1/4 cups espresso coffee, cooled

1/2 cup buttermilk

Syrup

200g/7oz fresh dates, pitted, cut into slivers (if fresh dates aren’t available, dried are fine – pit them and cut them into slivers, then soak them in boiling water to soften them before soaking them in the brandy/cognac)

3 tablespoons of brandy/cognac

3/4 cup of caster sugar

1/4 cup espresso coffee

Pour the brandy over the slivered dates and set aside to soak for an hour. Turn the mixture over every now and then to distribute the brandy/cognac.

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C/375 F/Gas mark 5. In a mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence until fluffy. Add eggs one by one, beating after each.

Sift the flours, bicarb of soda, cocoa and a pinch of sea salt over the egg mixture. Add the buttermilk and cooled espresso and whisk until smooth. Spoon into a well-greased 24cm non-stick fluted (bundt) cake tin. (You can use a standard round or square tin, too, just adjust the cooking time to suit). Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. ( I cooked this recently in my new fan-forced oven and it took only 35 minutes, so perhaps check on the cake a few times the first time you make it.) Let it stand in the tin for 10 minutes before easing the sides and then turning the cake onto a wire rack.

For the syrup, combine the sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then simmer without stirring until a golden caramel. Remove from heat, add the 1/3 cup of espresso – being very careful, as the sugar will spit. Stir until smooth.

Top the cake with the slivered dates, then use a spoon to drizzle the syrup evenly over the cake. Serve with ice cream or double cream.

I promise that this cake is delicious, grown up and irresistible in the extreme. And now I have to make it, because I need to taste it again. Num num num.

Thanks for having me, Cathryn, and I hope you all enjoy.

 

I most definitely shall enjoy, Sarah. That cake is right up my…er…cakehole! Anything with dates in it is a winner I always think. And cognac. Plus it looks so pretty!

Hmm, which has me thinking… What’s your favourite adults-only food? I luuuurve tiramisu, and make a rather delish version with Tia Maria added the sponge biscuit soaking mix. 

What about you? Do you have a favourite dish full of contraband? Like to share? You never know, your idea could make it onto someone’s next home alone menu…

If you’d like to learn more about Sarah and her books (read them, they’re fab!), please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

Welcome to Friday Feast! I’m very excited about today’s guest. Not only is she a fabulous writer and gorgeous person, she’s taking us on an armchair trip to my favourite country, Italy!

First, an update from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly, because I know how much you hang on it during my beloved Sydney Swans off season. I’m beginning to believe that all the golf balls I buy are suicidal. Fiona Palmer author photoI can think of no other explanation for why they keep diving for eel ridden dams and blacksnake infested rough. Spookily, it only ever seems to happen to the brand new ones…

Enough of that. Time to say ciao bella to one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors, Fiona Palmer!

Fiona is a born and bred country girl who shot to ru-ro (as we fondly call it) stardom with The Family Farm, following that huge success up with Heart of Gold, The Road Home and The Sunburnt Country. All best-sellers and complete heart-warmers. Now Fiona has another story for your rural library, and this is being touted as her best yet. Take a look at The Outback Heart.

 

THE OUTBACK HEART

 

The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerIndianna Wilson is a country girl through and through. She’ll do anything she can to save her beloved home town from disappearing off the map – even if she has to die trying. She brings Troy Mitchell to her tiny outback town, with hopes that he can bring a breath of fresh air to the Saints football club and lift the wider farming community.

He’s just the spark they need in Hyden but it’s the fire that he ignites in Indi’s heart that takes her by surprise. She knows he’s feeling something too – why, then, does he insist on pushing her away? What is it from his dark past that’s preventing them from sharing a future?

As the town rallies together and their fighting spirit returns, Indi and Troy discover that sometimes life offers up a second chance – you just have to be brave enough to take it.

The most heartfelt and moving novel yet from favourite Australian rural romance writer and bestselling author of The Family Farm.

 

Footy, love and the outback, how can you resist? Hie thee down to your nearest bookstore or get that mouse a-clicking. Signed copies of all Fiona’s books are available now from her website, and between now and Christmas Fiona will throw in a stubbie holder with every purchase. Otherwise, for the paperback, try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, direct from Penguin Australia, your local independent bookshop or nearest chainstore. For the ebook visit Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks or JB Hi-Fi.

Now enjoy your Italian holiday.

 

Pizza Passion

 

Thanks to my mate Cathryn for having me, I love her Friday Feasts. Today I thought I’d talk about Pizza. (An all time favourite of mine because its easy and my kids eat it!!) This is funny because I hadn’t eaten a Pizza Hut pizza until I was 18. We ate plenty of frozen McCain’s pizzas growing up but I’d never had a fresh made one. I was living in Perth and had part time work (while at College) at the Peppy Grove Pizza Hut and that was the first time I’d ever eaten one, especially hot out of the oven. Then I couldn’t understand why I’d never eaten one sooner.

Anyway the reason I’ve gone with Pizza for this Friday Feast is because I just recently went to Italy for 3 weeks on a ‘research’ tip for my next book. And I ate pizza. I didn’t go over board while there, I shared it around with the pastas and we cooked for ourselves for 11 nights while in Montone (a small village in Umbria) and we had lots of salads. (Must even up the carb/veg ratio)

But as I was looking back through my photo’s for a ‘Pizza’ pic I was quite shocked to see how many photo’s I had of me eating pizza! Crikey, it makes it look like that’s all I ate!

One thing I realised is that the pasta and pizza’s are really simple in Italy. They are not full of other ingredients. We make pizza’s or pasta at home and have heaps of vegies and herbs in them, in Italy its simple. In Pompeii we had a pasta dish which just looked like pasta with a tin of crushed tomatoes in it and a basil leaf on top.

But you know what? It was soooo tasty. We think it must be the delicious tomatoes grown in the volcanic soils. Maybe we put too much ‘stuff’ in our dishes? I do tend to load my homemade pizzas with every topping possible to make sure I’m getting plenty of vegies lol

Fiona Palmer aunt and cousin eating pizza in Florence

So here we are eating pizza in the street in Florence. We’d caught up with my cousin who just happened to be in Italy on her trip at the same time as us. My Aunty Lorna and I were the Pizza testers. I never pizza’ed alone. (We did wonder if we’d have to attend a Pizza Anonymous group when we got back!)

Fiona Palmer eating pizza in Gubbio

This is yours truly pigging out on a yum slice of pizza in Gubbio. (An amazing Medieval town not far from where we were staying in Montone. We actually found this place by accident. A wrong turn somewhere landed us here. Much to our delight!)

A pizza meal Fiona Palmer enjoyed in Perugia

When we visited Perugia (another town south of Montone) we went to this little restaurant which was down a little alleyway. It was gorgeous with round exposed rock ceiling. And it seemed small but as you kept walking you came to other little eating areas. Just to note, my Aunty and I couldn’t finish these ones but took the rest home to eat later. 🙂

A pizza meal at Brancaleone, a bar and restaurant in Rome

When we were in Rome, we found a fantastic ristorante/pizzeria right behind our hotel. Sadly we wished we had found it two days earlier!! But we went there so often that we felt like locals and the managers were so lovely. Even their little girl was gorgeous.  They had a big pizza oven and the size of our pizza’s were huge. But the nice thin base made it possible to eat the whole lot! One night we had something different (see I didn’t always eat pizza) and they brought us one of the pizza bases which had been coated in oil, sea salt and sprinkled with rosemary. OMG it was delicious and perfect with our meal. They also served their own fresh cooked potato chips while we waited. Brancaleone the place was called. Loved it. I won’t mention the yummo choc cake we had too.

So that was a snippet of my time in Italy. I have since tried making a few of the things we had over there like the basic oil, sea salt & rosemary pizza base. Goes great as a side to salad. 🙂

 

Sigh. My jealousy of you right now, dear Fiona, is ENORMOUS! Italy is such a wonderful place. Gorgeous people, beautiful scenery and language, all that history and art, and the food! Simple and delicious.

Now, Feasters, we have a giveaway, Simply share your favourite pizza topping in the comments and you’ll go into the draw to win a signed paperback copy of The Outback Heart. Easy!

So… are you a traditionalist, and prefer a good old Margherita? Or maybe you’re a modernist and enjoy exotica like tandoori chicken or roast pumpkin, fetta and chorizo? I’ll admit to the youthful indiscretion of loving pineapple on my pizza but now I’m a Margherita girl through and through, although I did once have a wonderful pizza made with tiny slivers of potato, garlic and herbs that I’d be happy to scoff again. So what’s your preferred topping? Reveal and you could win!

Entries close midnight Tuesday, AEST, 19th November 2013. Australian postal addresses only please.

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Melissa who has won a signed copy of The Outback Heart. Thanks to all who took part. I hope you’ll join in the fun again.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Elise K. Ackers

‘Tis fabulous Friday again! Which means I can brag about my most excellent golf game before introducing my equally excellent guest. Oh, come on, I know you want to hear how I actually managed to play to my handicap for the first time in months, and how I would have scored even better had I not had those two duffed shots on the 17th. The question now is, can I do it again? Knowing the Hein prowess at golf, probably not.Author Elise K. Ackers

Never mind, I’ll always have Friday Feast to cheer me up, and I’m feeling very cheery indeed about today’s guest. If you haven’t read contemporary romance and romantic suspense author Elise K. Ackers then you need to correct the situation fast. This girl is talented. Like really talented. Elise’s stories vibrate with tension and emotion, featuring vivid characters that draw you into their lives and sweep you along on a heart-warming, drama-packed ride. Yes, I ‘m a complete fan girl and I’m not afraid to say it!

Elise has just released the third book in her cracking Homeland series, Ask Me For Tomorrow. Take a look.

 

ASK ME FOR TOMORROW

 

Cover of Ask Me For Tomorrow by Elise K. AckersThree years after losing his wife, Dean Foster feels like he’s living in a daze. When he finds himself attracted to his new employee, it comes as quite a shock.

Single mum, Alice Jaye, is struggling to make ends meet. She’s too tired to flirt with her gorgeous new boss and firmly maintains a professional distance. But when their children bring them into close contact, keeping their relationship strictly business isn’t easy.

As Alice and her son spend more time with his family, Dean’s heart begins to open once more. But can he risk starting all over again?

This eagerly anticipated final book of the Homeland series is a tender, heartwarming story about letting go of the past and giving love a second chance.

 

Eagerly anticipated indeed. And you can have your own copy right now. Buy direct from Destiny Romance or try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, BigW ebooks, Google Play, iTunes or Amazon for Kindle. If ebooks aren’t your thing, keep your eye out for the paperback collection of all three Homeland books, coming February 2013.

And now please give a big cheer for Elise!

 

If I Appear On This Blog Five Times, I’ll Run Out Of Things I Can Cook

 

I’m delighted to be a guest on Cathryn’s Friday Feast, and admittedly, a little worried. If even one person makes this recipe, that’s a lot of responsibility on me. So allow me to preface the following with a warning: my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired. I can make five dinner dishes really well, five other dinner dishes moderately well, and the rest are out of my league. I’m a dessert girl. For eating, for making – I’m the person who thrusts her hand in the air to volunteer to bake for, well, any reason at all.

Yet here I am, offering you a dinner dish because I wanted to challenge myself. But before you run away, the below recipe is for one of the better dinner dishes. One I’ve cooked for many, many people who are all still alive, and who remember the evening fondly (unless they’ve all agreed to never mention the meal, kind of like Bridget Jones’s blue soup incident).

My mum walked me through this recipe before I moved out of home, and I’ve since adjusted it to be infinitely sweeter. You may find iterations of it on the web or in a cookbook – I’m not sure where my mum first learned it, but she successfully sent me out into the world with a few dishes in my repertoire. I was a very reluctant student, so hats off to her. I have since learned, I think… two more dinner recipes on my own.

Yet I’ll turn up with a new kind of cake, slice or biscuit almost every fortnight.

So without further ado, I’d like to share my favourite chicken dish. It’s on the sweet side and can be garnished with any number of things. I’m quite minimalist about extras due to personal preference, so feel free to add colour, texture and taste where you see fit. And indemnify me from all outcomes!

 

Creamy Honey Mustard Chicken

 Creamy honey mustard chicken ingredients

 

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

4-6 chicken breasts

1 tablespoon of honey mustard

2-3 tablespoons of honey

1/3 teaspoon of garlic

1 small container of thickened cream (use less if you don’t like so much sauce)

2 bundles of Hakubaku Organic Somen Noodles

Mushrooms, onions, chicken stock, beans, etc all optional. Let your tastebuds guide you!

 

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken into finger-width strips.
  2. Cook noodles as directed on packet.
  3. Simultaneously heat oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a bowl, mix mustard, honey, garlic and cream.
  5. Put frying pan with chicken over low-medium heat, stir in sauce and heat through.
  6. Strain noodles, arrange on plates and load chicken and sauce on top.

This is an almost colourless dish if you don’t add mushrooms, beans, etc, but having never added more flair than a sprig of parsley, I can’t make suggestions on this front.

This is very tasty, it reheats really well, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made it and I’m confident someone in your house will like it.

If Cathryn invites me back, I promise next time to share one of my baking recipes. They’re all terrible for your teeth and waistline, which of course, means they’re divine.

Thanks for having me Cathryn, I’ve worked up my appetite now!

 

So have I, Elise! Mmm, honey mustard chicken. Now that’s a dish to make your mouth water, and perfect to tempt the tummies of any fussy eaters out there, I’m sure.

Now, clever Feasters, do you have a fall-back recipe? One you know can’t fail you – that you’re perhaps a little known for?

Me, I make awesome Greek meatballs (if I do say so myself) that even the fussiest eater will adore. Lovely little balls of spiced lamb in a delicious tomato sauce, served with what else but a fetta laden Greek salad. Oh, I just gave myself the slurpies thinking about that. What a bugger we’re having stir-fry for dinner…

So what’s your crowd-pleaser? Share and everyone will pounce on you for the recipe, or think you’re awesome, or both. There is kudos in commenting!

If you’d like to learn more about Elise and her amazing books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter, Google + and Facebook.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Victoria Purman

And so our favourite day of the week comes around again. What have you planned for the weekend? I’m feeling a tad bereft because there’s no more footy. Fortunately, I have boxed sets of my beloved Sydney Swans Premiership seasons to see me through the dark times. And lots of books. Lots and lots of books, including the debut release of this week’s Friday Feast guest, Victoria Purman. Austrlalian author Victoria PurmanAnd I tell you, if there was ever a story to put you in the mood for a long Aussie summer it’ll be Nobody But Him.

I met Victoria recently at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle and was immediately struck by her professionalism and easy going nature. Then again, she does hail from South Australia, my home state, so these things are to be expected.

Nobody But Him is the first in Victoria’s Boys of Summer trilogy (earworm anyone? Since I typed that all I can hear is Don Henley) and has just hit the shelves. Take a gander at this bronzed Aussie!

 

NOBODY BUT HIM

 

Nobody But Him by Victoria Purman coverShe didn’t expect to run into her first love… or to fall back in love with him!

At eighteen, Julia Jones left for the city with a head full of grand plans for an exciting life that certainly didn’t include her hometown of Middle Point – a main street with a pub – or Ryan Blackburn.

But fifteen years – and a lifetime later – she’s forced to put her big city life on hold when she heads home to finalise her mother’s estate. Which is where she runs smack bang into the town’s new champion… the same Ryan Blackburn.

The sensible thing to do? Stay the hell away from him and head back to Melbourne as fast as her stilettos can carry her. But Julia finds his offer of a helping hand and a hot body too delicious to refuse and dives into a reckless, one-time fling.

What she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up, and that saying goodbye to her home town – and to Ryan – is much harder the second time around.

 

You can own your own copy of Nobody But Him with just a couple of clickety-clicks. Buy direct from the publisher Harlequin or try most excellent Australian bookseller and ARRC sponsor Booktopia. There’s also Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes and the new BigW ebook store.

Seriously, it makes me proud to see so all the Australian stories dominating our bricks and mortar stores and virtual shelves at the moment. Anyway, enough of me, here’s Victoria!

 

 

Lock, stock and barrel

 

Has anyone else ever wandered the supermarket aisles and become increasingly concerned about the growing profusion of packet mixes and insta-meals?

I get the heebie-jeebies every time I read the back of the label and barely recognize anything that seems like real food.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a working mother of three teenagers and I’m certainly not averse to doing whatever it takes to feed the Hungry Horde.

And I’m not what you might call a health nut, either. Those who know about my consumption of wine and chocolate know this to be true. (To those who don’t know me, I consume a lot of wine and chocolate.)

But I don’t want my kids to be loaded down with salt and preservatives and chemicals when I can make the real thing at home – salt and preservative free – for much less.

Hence my recipe for my weekly, reliable standby: Chicken Stock.

I approach cooking as I do writing a book.

On the surface, it’s all exciting – doing the shopping, looking at the labels and the recipe books, making everything look beautifully plated up and Master Chef-y.

The writing equivalent is spending lots of time online with search engine terms that include “shirtless” and “man”; thinking about your cover; and how famous you’re going to be when it sells squillions.

But when you get down to it, there are some basic you shouldn’t ignore.

No matter what genre you write in, every book needs a solid story at its heart.

I think of my Chicken Stock that way – a solid base of flavour for a zillion meals.

I’m not kidding when I say Chicken Stock is easy. The Hungry Horde doesn’t have time for complicated.

I cook up a batch on the weekend and have it sitting in the fridge so I can scoop out what I need during the week for meals in the slow cooker, casserole dishes, stir-fries or soups.

It’s especially handy for those dreaded days when all you have left in the fridge is a couple of near-dead zucchinis, a floret or two of broccoli and a cauliflower (you know, the one you bought in the vain hope that your kids would actually eat it).

Gather the veggies, chop finely, cook them all up in the stock until tender, give it a whizz and voila – vegetable soup. My kids love it. Even when I tell Boy13 there’s zucchini in it.

 

Victoria’s Chicken Stock

 

  • Chicken carcasses (I use two because they come that way in the supermarket). Don’t worry about trimming off the fat – while important, that comes later.Stock pot with chicken carcases
  • Veggies – celery, carrots, onion, minced garlic
  • Pepper (and salt if you wish)
  • Water

Use a big stock saucepan and place the chicken bones in it.

Raid the fridge for whatever veggies you have. I always keep a few celery leaves and stalks in the freezer (did I mention I hate wasting food?) and pop them in to the saucepan with an onion chopped in half (you don’t even need to peel it), and a roughly chopped carrot. Add some minced garlic (from the jar I have in the fridge), a little pepper, and add water until the chicken bones are covered.

Bring to the boil.

Chicken and vegetables in the stock pot ready for boilingWhen it’s boiling, turn down to simmer and let the magnificent aromas fill the house. I usually leave it for about an hour, so the flavours really intensify.

Let the stock cool, and then strain out all the chicken and the veggies. Pour into a container and chill overnight. This step is really important, as the fat congeals at the top and can be easily scooped off the next day.

Your stock is ready, totally delicious and made from real food.

Make soup! Add to day-old rice in a wok and it will taste delicious! Use a cupful any time a recipe calls for stock cubes or stock powder!

Here’s stir-fry rice I made with the stock. The Hungry Horde loved it.

 Stir fried rice made with Victoria's chicken stock

 

Ahh, Victoria, you’re a woman after my own heart. Actually, can a girl say that or is that a man to woman thing? Hmm. Dunno, but you’re definitely a kindred spirit with all that wine, chocolate and home-made stock. Must be our South Australian genes!

Now, my darling Feasters, don those bikinis and budgie smugglers and channel your favourite summer past-time because Victoria has generously offered a most fabulous giveaway. Reveal what you like to get up to over summer and you could win yourself a copy of Nobody But Him. Perfect relaxation material.

Me? Over summer I play golf and eat lots of seafood washed down with wine, which is probably why my golf game is terrible…

What do you get up to for summer fun? Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 8th October 2013. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Victoria and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kerrie who is in for a whole lot of reading fun with Nobody But Him. Thanks to everyone who joined in.