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FRIDAY FEAST with Melanie Scott

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Oh, we have special treat on Friday Feast today. A brilliant book, a super giveaway and a recipe that was so mouth-watering I had to whip it up as soon as I saw it.

But more on that shortly because I just know you’re hanging out for Sydney Swans news. After a most excellent win on the weekend, only a tiny percentage separates us from those pesky (pecky?) Hawks at the top of the ladder. Give it time. We can still overtake them and win Author Melanie Scottthat coveted spot. I have faith!

Sadly, there is no Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news because I was too busy hangin’ with my tribe at the Romance Writers of Australia conference, which was brilliant even if I still haven’t recovered my voice. Jim says it’s because I put an entire year’s worth of talking into four days. Perhaps a sign I should get out more…

And now to today’s guest. You may know her as dark fantasy author MJ Scott, but Melbourne based Melanie Scott is about to take the sports romance world by storm with her new series featuring the New York Saints baseball team and the three men determined to save it. The first in the series is The Devil in Denim, a book I’m reading, and loving, right now.

You will want this baby. Oh yes you will!

THE DEVIL IN DENIM

Cover of The Devil in DenimLIFE JUST THREW HER A CURVEBALL.

As the team-owner’s daughter, Maggie Jameson grew up in the New York Saints’ stadium—glove, cap, hot dogs, and all. Baseball’s in her blood, and she’s always dreamed of the day when she would lead the Saints to victory herself. That was before her dad had to sell the team to Alex Winters. The fast-talking, fiercely attractive businessman has a baseball pedigree that’s distinctly minor league. Maggie wants to hate him but his skills of seduction, however, are off the charts.

WILL LOVE BE A HOME RUN?

Alex could never have imagined how much this team means to Maggie. He needs her to help show the players that they’re still a family…even if he and Maggie are at the verge of exchanging blows. But her fiery determination and gorgeous looks prove irresistible to Alex. And much as he wants to relegate their relationship to the playing field—and get the Saints back in the game—Alex just can’t help himself: What he wants to win most is Maggie’s heart…

There are some shallow people out there who would only buy this book for the taut manbum cover (me!) but I can assure you what’s on the inside is even better. Yes it is! And you can pre-order it right now and have it in your hands, all ready for stroking and reading, right on its August 26th release day. Secure your copy now via Amazon, Book Depository, iBooks, Booktopia, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, Kobo or your favourite retailer.

Taut manbum organised? Awesome. Now let’s get zesty with Melanie.

Sweet or Sour

You know those questions on quizzes? The ones that ask you if you like salty or sweet. I’m always thinking “Both”. Life’s too short to choose between the joys of the perfect salty potato chip or good rich chocolate. And one thing that those quizzes always fail to ask about is sour! I will confess I like a good sour sharp tang. If it was possible to overdose on Wizz Fizz as a A packet of Wizz Fizzkid, I would have (and these days I find it hard to resist a good sour lolly). But, growing up in the country, we always had a lemon tree and, luckily for me, my parents still live there and still have a magic pudding lemon tree that rarely stops fruiting so they can keep me supplied. Lemon delicious pudding, lemon juice on crispy fish or fresh steamed vegies, lemon butter, lemon tart (unless there’s a lemon cheesecake on offer), lemon in iced water and of course my beloved margaritas, well, let’s just say I’m a fan of the little yellow fruit. Here in Australia, lemon slice popped up all over the place when I was a kid and I’m always on the quest for a good version (and generally I amp up the tanginess with an extra lemon kick), well, frankly, sometimes a gal just can’t wait for a slice to set to get her lemon goodness fix.

The other day I was in the mood to bake, which often inspires a brownie fit, but I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate (who knew that was possible). Having attempted a lemon drizzle cake recently that was good but needs some more experimenting with, I was still in the mood for lemons but didn’t want a cake. I thought of lemon slice but then I stumbled across a lemon and coconut brownie on Pinterest. Pinterest is baker enabling heaven. It was lemon. It was coconut. It was a brownie. I was sold. And it turns out a lemon coconut brownie is very much the love child of lemon cake and lemon slice. Aka it was exactly what I was in the mood for. And delicious.

Now Maggie Jameson, the heroine of The Devil in Denim, feels like she’s been handed a pretty big box of lemons at the start of the book. She needs to figure out if she can wants to suck it up and make lemonade (though she starts the process by using lemons in a time honoured way… by drinking too many tequila slammers) or not. Maybe while she’s thinking about it, and trying not to think about Alex Winters, who is partially responsible for her pile of lemons, she should whip up a batch of these bad boys. I’m sure they’d cheer her up.

Lemon and Coconut Brownies

(original recipe from taste.com.au)

Lemon and Coconut Brownies

Ingredients:

250g butter

2 cups caster sugar

4 eggs

1 ½ cups plain flour

1 cup desiccated coconut

3 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1/3 cup if you like it really lemony like me) plus extra for icing if you ice them

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180ºC (my over is fan forced and I used 170c). Line a 20 x 30cm (base measurement) slab pan with non-stick baking paper. Whatever you use for brownies. I was lazy and used a square pan that was a little too small so they came out thicker and needed a bit longer cooking but they were still yummy

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Turn heat down low. Stir in sugar until it dissolves. Turn off heat and move to a cool spot. Add eggs, 1 at a time and beat into the mixture quickly so no bits of egg cook before it’s combined. It will end up thick and glossy.

Sift the flour over the egg mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in coconut, lemon rind and lemon juice. Spread over base of prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan to cool completely. Turn out and cut into pieces (you decide how big, the original recipe suggests 15). Doesn’t need to iced but would be lovely with a thin lemony icing made from icing sugar and lemon juice…I usually start with a cup of icing sugar and add a tablespoon or so of lemon juice and then adjust the mixture to taste and for consistency when I’m making that kind of icing. Keep in an airtight container if there are any left.

 

Doesn’t that make your mouth water, Feasters? As it should because like The Devil in Denim, these brownies are delicious! Impossible to stop at one piece. Why would you want to anyway? There’s fruit in there which means the recipe has to be good for you.

And guess what other goodness Melanie has for you? Yes, we have a…

GIVEAWAY!

Because you’re all special and Melanie is lovely, she’s offering one lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of his devilish bumness… I mean, The Devil In Denim. A truly excellent read that you will love. But you must work for it. You must shaaaaare!

So, for a chance to win, tell us what do you prefer when you’re reaching for a treat? Sweet, sour, salty or a combination?

Are you a sour fan and love to gobble sour snakes and mouth puckering lemon drops? Perhaps you prefer a salty bowl of chips or nuts, or maybe sweet treats are your go, lollies or sweet cakes and biscuits. For me it depends. There’s nothing quite like a nice dark piece of chocolate post dinner but I have been known to turn slightly rabid over a bowl of salt and vinegar chips (those Red Rock Deli ones are awesome). What about you? Share and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 19th August 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Delores who has won a copy of Melanie’s new release The Devil in Denim. I predict some fun reading and cover stroking in someone’s future! Thanks to everyone for sharing their favourite sweet and sour treats, and giving us all terrible cravings. See you again soon!

FRIDAY FEAST with Kandy Shepherd

It is my great pleasure to welcome best-selling Australian romance author Kandy Shepherd to Friday Feast this week. Kandy head shot_2Kandy’s not only a lovely lady, she’s a wonderful writer whose debut release, Love Is A Four-Legged Word, was one of the nicest, most heart-warming romances I’ve read. But then how can anyone resist a story with dogs and chocolate? Not me, that’s for sure.

I’m a bit jealous of her, actually. I mean, Kandy is hugely talented AND lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains – gorgeous part of the world – with a menagerie of animal friends that include dogs and horses. Dogs, horses, mountains, writing. Sigh. Sounds so blissful… rather like one of Kandy’s fun, feel-good books!

Speaking of books, Kandy has a gorgeous new release to warm your heart. Check it out.

 

REINVENTING ROSE

 

 

KandyShepherd_ReinventingRose800When an internet love affair goes wrong, Rose straightens her hair and boosts her bra size—but she discovers it takes more than a makeover to find the courage to be her real self.

After 28-year-old schoolteacher Rose Butler flies to the other side of the world to meet the hot Australian guy she met online, their romantic reunion doesn’t go quite as planned. Stranded in Sydney, and too humiliated to return home to San Francisco, Rose decides to stay. She aims to shed her old image, and reinvent herself into someone tougher, smarter—maybe even wilder.

Help with her makeover comes from three unexpected new friends—Carla, the born-again-virgin beauty editor; Sasha, the out-of-rehab heiress; and Kelly, the high-flying model.

And then there are the men she meets—sexy bad-boy photographer Elliot; and Luke, the handsome doctor who may not be as straightforward as he appears. It might just be worth risking her heart again…

But as Rose throws herself headlong into her new life, she gets tripped up by a painful family secret and unresolved problems from her past. She’s forced to question her beliefs about love and loyalty, old mistakes and new choices, and the bonds of both family and friendship.

By reinventing herself, can Rose discover who she really is and face a fulfilling new future?

 

Doesn’t that sound fabulous? I have Reinventing Rose on my Kindle right now. And you could have it on your e-reader with just a clickety-click. Buy Reinventing Rose now from Amazon or Smashwords. Go on! You won’t regret it I promise.

Now please give a big whoop for Kandy. She has chocolate…

 

Triple The Fun

 

Hi Cathryn, thanks so much for having me on Friday Feast. I’ve read so many wonderful authors’ posts—and tried a few recipes—and it’s a thrill for me to be here.

During my career as a magazine editor, I enjoyed working with food editors, recipe writers, stylists and photographers. My interest in food has flowed into my books.

IMG_0820The heroine of Love is a Four-Legged Word Maddy Cartwright is a chef, aiming to be a magazine food editor and a TV chef. Her best friend, Serena Oakley, the heroine of Home Is Where the Bark Is is a hopeless cook, though she pretends to be otherwise—the hero is the cook in that book. The recipe I’m sharing below is for Maddy’s triple choc brownies, which play an important role in the book

Food isn’t such a focus in my new release Reinventing RoseI draw more on my experience as a beauty editor to help with the details of Rose’s makeover. I adore writing romance where the focus is on two people falling in love against the odds. But I also like writing about the other aspects of my characters’ lives—family, friends, career challenges—and this book gave me that opportunity.IMG_1885

There’s lots of talking about food in Reinventing Rose but not a lot of actual eating. Rose, the heroine, finds herself sharing an apartment with girls who are always trying various weight-loss diets, live on black coffee, or don’t eat much at all. Rose is a suburban girl at heart and is bemused by all this. The only substantial meals she gets are when the male characters are in charge!

300811_0032_1bReinventing Rose is very much a city book, set in Sydney. But it was mostly written in the country at our little farm in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

We bought the farm because of our daughter’s passion for horses. It’s a beautiful, peaceful spot where I can indulge my interests in cooking and gardening when I’m not writing. I even have a wood stove that I haven’t quite mastered. Our chickens give us wonderful eggs and we’re getting quite good at growing vegetables and fruit, too.

These decadent brownies are a treat much requested by visitors to the farm—especially teenagers! (Rose’s flatmates would definitely not approve of the kilojoule count!)

 

 

LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD

TRIPLE CHOC BROWNIES

 DSCF2905_2

Makes: 24 brownies

Time to prepare: 20 minutes

Time to cook: 35 minutes

Dont even think about the calorie count!

You will need:

250g unsalted butter, chopped

125g good quality dark or bittersweet cooking chocolate, (around 60% cocoa content is best) chopped

2 cups caster sugar

4 medium size eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plain flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

Pinch salt

125g macadamias, chopped

125g white chocolate chips

250g good quality milk chocolate for topping, cut into small chunks

Icing sugar to decorate

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180C or 170C for fan-assisted ovens.

1. Spray the bottom of a rectangular cake pan, (33 x 23 x 5cm) with cooking spray oil, then line with baking paper so paper hangs over edges of pan.

2. Heat butter in medium saucepan on very low heat until butter is half melted. Add chopped dark chocolate. Take off heat when chocolate is half melted, stir until completely melted and combine. Keep saucepan off the heat.

3. Stir in sugar. Then add eggs, one at a time, and stir mixture until it is glossy. Stir in vanilla.

4. Sift flour and cocoa together and add to saucepan. Mix until blended.

5. Stir in nuts and white chocolate morsels. Pour mixture into prepared cake pan.

6. Bake approximately 35 minutes until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Take out of oven. Randomly sprinkle surface with chopped milk chocolate chunks and lightly press down. Return to oven for one minute. Take out of oven for the final time.

7. Cool brownies in pan. Using edges of baking paper, lift onto board. Cut into small squares and sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

TIPS

• Pecans or walnuts also taste great instead of the macadamias.

• You can use milk chocolate chips for the topping instead of chopped chocolate.

• The brownies freeze well, but wait until they’re defrosted before dusting with the icing sugar.

NOTE Australian standard measuring cups are used. (For overseas readers, there is not much difference between Australian and US measuring cups so the recipe should work well using them).

 

Oof! I think I’m putting on kilos just looking at that recipe! But what an absolutely gorgeous one it is. Thanks, Kandy. You’ve just made a whole bunch of people slobber on their keyboards.

Okay, feasty lovelies, what’s your favourite chocolate indulgence? Death By Chocolate? A plain piece of Lindt? Mousse? Good old Tim-Tams? Reveal yours and you could win an ebook copy of Reinventing Rose. Yes, we have a GIVEAWAY! But comment fast because the giveaway closes closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 23rd April 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

Mine chocolate indulgence is a truffle (or five) from Jeff de Bruge, a Belgian chocolatier whose chocolates I fell in love with when we lived in France. My mouth goes funny thinking about them. Those were the days, sigh. So ‘fess up. Kandy and I would love to hear your fantasies. Choccy ones, that is. You can keep the rest for those funny websites!

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kaetrin who has won an e book copy of Reinventing Rose. Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon.