Tag Archives: Chocolate recipes

FRIDAY FEAST with Rachel Bailey

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Hello tasty people, and welcome to Friday Feast, the blog series where Australian authors share their love of food, latest releases and more. This week it’s choc heaven so prepare to drool, plus we have a wonderful book giveaway!

But before that, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. After last week’s debacle in the Gold Brooch play-off I thought the only way was up but no. The barrel of my golfing despair has yet to have its bottom scraped. There were good shots, especially with my driver, but mostly they were bad. I appear to have a massive problem with looking at the ball, ie. I can’t seem Author Rachel Baileyto look at it at all. I may have to change from marking my balls with blue love hearts to pictures of Chris Hemsworth as Thor… shirtless. That’ll hold my focus!

And now on to today’s delicious guest. Rachel Bailey is a USA Today best-selling author whose books have been published in over 26 countries and translated into 16 languages. She also loves dogs. As everyone knows, dog lovers are the best people so that makes Rachel extra cool.

Rachel’s latest release is the very delectable looking The Finn Factor. Check it out.

THE FINN FACTOR

The Finn Factor by Rachel Bailey coverSometimes all a girl needs is a little practice…

It’s been twelve months, three days, and eleven hours since accounting student Scarlett Logan made it past a second date. A pitcher of mojitos in hand, she employs her supreme graphing skills to narrow things down to one horrifying explanation. Kissing. Clearly someone needs to teach her how to kiss properly. Like, say, her best friend and roomie, Finn Mackenzie. He’s safe, he’s convenient, and yeah, maybe just a little gorgeous.

Finn knows exactly why Scarlett’s boyfriends are disappearing quickly. Him. Not a single guy she’s brought home is nearly good enough. And he’ll be damned if he lets some loser give her “kissing lessons.” No. He’ll do the honors, thank you very much. The moment their lips touch, though, everything turns upside down. But Scarlett deserves the one thing Finn can’t give her. And if he doesn’t put an end to the sexy little shenanigans, he’ll teach Scarlett the hardest lesson of all…heartbreak.

I LOVE the sound of this book! And you will love it too. The Finn Factor releases on September 28th but you can pre-order it right now from Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, Kobo, iBooks and Barnes and Noble, and come the day it’ll be sitting in your reader, ready for devouring. Easy!

If you would like to taste test this delicious book, Rachel has an excerpt on her website. I also recommend you read her Sunday Smooch on the LoveCats DownUnder blog. It’s fantastic!

Now, for the really luscious part… Please give a big welcome to Rachel, who’s celebrating the world’s favourite foodstuff: chocolate.

Secret Ingredients to Make Chocolate Even Better

I’m a chocoholic. There’s a good size portion of my brain taken up with just thinking about chocolate and planning my next foray into the chocolate cupboard. So it’s pretty safe to say that A mug of hot chocolate with spice sprinkled on topI’ve done a bit of – how shall I say – chocolate experimentation over the years.

Most people have caught onto the chocolate and salt trick, courtesy of the salted caramel craze, but my brother and I were dipping our French fries into chocolate and/or caramel sundaes for years, though when I was older, I started a more sophisticated blend: salted popcorn in with our M&Ms.

A few other tips from my years of experimentation:

Hot Chocolate: you’ve tried cinnamon sprinkled on the top and you’re looking for your next taste sensation? Try cardamom. A friend added cardamom and cinnamon on my coffee years ago (apparently it’s a common treat in the Middle East), and I loved it. Of course, I also extended the idea to hot chocolate. It blends nicely but has an exotic flavour.

Ice-cream: I make chocolate ice-cream at home, and the chocolate was just never strong enough when I followed the recipes. A tip from a friend helped here – add a teaspoon of coffee. chocolate icecreamYou can’t taste it in the final product, but it makes the chocolate even chocolatier, kinda like adding sugar to tomatoes when they’re cooking. We never make it without coffee now!

Chocolate and chilli: You’ve tried the fancy chocolate and chilli and the expensive chocolate shops and want to recreate the effect at home? There are two ways I use – a sprinkle of chilli powder in my hot chocolate, but that’s limited to winter use. My other favourite way is smearing chocolate spread over toast, then adding a thin layer of sweet chilli sauce. It’s like there’s a whole party in your mouth.

So, over to you – any tips on chocolate combinations for me? Or, if you’re not a fan of chocolate, what’s your favourite combination of flavours? I’ll give a e-copy of The Finn Factor to one commenter!

*

What fantastic tips! I especially like the icecream one, Rachel. I’m going to try that one out because, like you’ve found, many recipes aren’t often chocolatey enough. And if you’re going to eat chocolate, there should be no holding back.

Now, my sweet Feasties, did you read the above? Rachel is offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win an e-book copy of The Finn Factor, either share one of your choc tips or favourite combination of food flavours and you’ll be in the draw.

I’ll start you off with my choc tip: if a recipe calls for dark choc, trying using the Lindt A Touch of Sea Salt. The salt seems to add extra oomph.

So what’s your tip or food combo favourite? Share and you’ll be in the draw to win The Finn Factor!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 29th September 2015. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Rachel and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Pinterest and the fab LoveCatsDownUnder blog.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

FRIDAY FEAST with Pamela Cook

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Hello, food ‘n fiction lovers and welcome to another happy edition of Friday Feast. This week, a gorgeous new rural romance into which to sink your heart and a luscious tart for your mouth. Yes, we cater for all the important bits here on Friday Feast, so keep reading!

Okay, so in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, my theory about channelling golf pro Ricky Fowler via my new Puma trousers worked. Unfortunately not the way I wanted. As golf fans will know, young Ricky failed to make the cut at the US Open, finishing the first two rounds with a Author Pamela Cookrather ignoble score somewhere in the vicinity of 13 over par. A contagion of bad play that then spread across the globe to me and turned worse. Oh, well. This week I have new golf shoes and a new putter grip to test out. Surely this has to help? Yes? Pleeeease?

It’s my pleasure to welcome back to Friday Feast fellow rural romance author Pamela Cook whose success in 2012 with her popular debut Blackwattle Lake was soon followed up in 2013 with Essie’s Way. Both featured feisty women, tangled family relationships and a healthy dose of romance, and were loved by readers.

Pamela’s new release is Close To Home. Take a look!

CLOSE TO HOME

Cover of CLOSE TO HOME by Pamela CookA compelling story of love, lies and loss in a small country town.

Orphaned at thirteen, Charlie Anderson has been on her own for over half her life. Not that she minds – she has her work as a vet and most days that’s enough. Most days. But when she’s sent to a small town on the New South Wales coast to investigate a possible outbreak of the deadly hendra virus, Charlie finds herself torn between then haunting memories of her past and her dedication to the job.

Travelling to Naringup means coming face to face with what is left of her dysfunctional family – her cousin Emma, who begged Charlie not to leave all those years ago, and her aunt Hazel, who let her go without a backward glance. But it also means relying on the kindness of strangers and, when she meets local park ranger, Joel Drummond, opening her heart to the possibility of something more …

As tensions in the town rise, can Charlie let go of the past and find herself a new future in the place she left so long ago?

I can see the fingers of all you rural romance lovers itching to buy from here, so here are all the links in one convenient place to satisfy that covetous need for this book. Try Booktopia, Bookworld or Angus and Robertson. Also Boomerang Books, Fishpond.com.au, Abbey’s Bookshop, QBD The Bookshop, Amazon.au, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite independent book seller or chain store.

Now for some deliciousness with Pamela.

Resistance is Useless

Lovely to be back on Friday Feast. Thanks for having me, Cathryn.

Last time I was here I shared a recipe for my Aunty Elsie’s Blueberry Cheesecake, a family favourite. Another favourite Lemon Meringue Pie. I have to admit I’ve never actually made one but I do enjoy devouring the ones my mum whips up. One of them makes an appearance in my very-soon-to-be-released novel Close To Home. And when I say very soon, I mean in four days. And yes, I’m just a tad excited!!!

Sadly I’m not much of a cook but I do love a good dessert, just like my new main character Charlie Anderson. Charlie has a sweet tooth and fortunately for her the town she is working in, Naringup, has a great variety of restaurants. When she finds herself dining at Savannah with the very handsome local Parks and Wildlife Ranger how can she resist sharing the Chocolate Tart with Salted Caramel Icecream?

The week I was revising this scene I’d had the pleasure of dining at St Isidore’s, a beautiful restaurant in Milton. When I saw the Chocolate Tart on the menu I didn’t have to think twice. And although I was a little unsure about the accompaniment I have to say, the combination of the sweet tart with the slightly salty icecream was to die for! Needless to say the dessert made it into the novel.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found a recipe for a Chocolate Tart with Salt Flakes. Not quite the same as the one I sampled at the restaurant but close – and easy enough for me to attempt. It turned out pretty well and the sea salt flakes sprinkled over the top are a great contrast to the rich chocolate filling. You only need a sliver but it really is delicious.

Chocolate Tart

Chocolate Tart

Ingredients

300 ml double cream

2 teaspoons of caster sugar

A pinch of sea salt

50 g unsalted butter, softened

200 g 70% cocoa chocolate, broken into small pieces (I used Lindt – yummy)

50 ml milk

One sheet of ready-made shortcrust pastry  or use your own recipe

Sea salt flakes and cream or ice cream, to serve.

Slice of chocolate tartMethod:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a greased tart tin with the pastry and bake blind for 10-15 minutes. Remove weights and bake again for 15 minutes until golden.
  2. Mix the cream, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and add the butter and chocolate. Stir until all the ingredients are blended.
  3. Leave the mixture for a few minutes then stir in the milk. Keep stirring until shiny. Pour into the tart shell and leave to set for around 2 hours. I left it out until it cooled then put it in the fridge for an hour.
  4. Sprinkle lightly with salt flakes. Serve with cream or ice cream.

Enjoy!

Ooh, definitely one to enjoy, Pamela. Very hard to go past chocolate anything but that tart looks utterly divine. So rich and naughty and yet so easy!

So what do you think, Feasties? Reckon you could have a go at a bit of salt with your chocolatey sweetness? How about a touch of chilli or mint or even orange?

Share your favourite chocolate flavouring in the comments and for a bit of fun we’ll see who can come up with the most tempting.

In the meantime, if you’d like learn more about Pamela and her excellent books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @PamelaCookAU and her Flying Pony blog.

FRIDAY FEAST with Shona Husk

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Hello, foodie-reader people! Welcome once again to the deliciousness that is Friday Feast. And what healthy little beasties we’re going to be today. There’s a pancake recipe that will sweeten up any breakfast, plus an amazing new paranormal romance to lose yourself in. How’s that for the perfect way to start your weekend off.

But first, the cringeworthy update that is Us Heins Weren’t Mean To Play Golf. The rot has well and truly set in. Shots were duffed. Balls were bulleted into dams. Swearwords were said. A head was hung in shame. On a good note, I guess the only way is up!

Author Shona HuskSpeaking of good notes (oh, I am the segue QUEEN!), our guest today is Friday Feast regular and multi-romance genre author Shona Husk (she of the Toblerone Brownies, which I made a batch of last week and nearly passed out from chocolate overdose after eating). Shona has a new book out in the brilliant Court of Annwyn series and it sounds a beauty, with spies and fairies and powerplays and, of course, that thing that makes good books even better, romance.

Take a look…

THE DARKLING LORD

The Darkling Lord by Shona HuskA darkling with a lust for power…

Henry Saint shouldn’t exist. Every year on his birthday, he kills someone and takes their soul so that he may live another year. He is a darkling, not fairy… but not human either. Yet he is bound by the laws of both worlds. With a new King on the throne of Annwyn and the mortal world trying to rebuild after plagues killed so many, Henry seizes the opportunity to carve out a place of his own. He wants Detroit.

A spy without a soul…

Darah was Felan’s spy before he became King of Annwyn. Now he has one last mission for her. He wants her to join the darkling’s Court and discover what Henry’s endgame is. No one trusts the Banished when they gather in great numbers. As Darah gets drawn into Henry’s world she realizes he can give her the one thing she could never find in Annwyn—love. But is love worth betraying her King?

Far out, that sounds exciting and you’ll in the capable hands of a skilled storyteller with The Darkling Lord, so why not buy it today?  Try amazon.comKobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, or your favourite ebook retailer. And while you’re clicking about, add The Darkling Lord to your Goodreads shelf and give everyone else the heads-up about this cracking book.

Right. Now let’s get healthy with Shona. A woman who knows her way with chocolate…

Breakfast Made Extra Delicious!

For the last quarter of 2014 I had to go gluten and dairy free. It was extremely unfun (yes, I know it’s not a word but it should be). When you read labels you quickly realize that gluten and dairy are in everything. Coconut milk power…includes dairy. Gluten…where isn’t it?

So I did a bit of research and tried to find new things to eat. Breakfast was the big one for me because I liked fruit salad with yoghurt or porridge (when it’s made with water it’s just gruel) or cereal.

Fortunately the internet is wondrous and I discovered quinoa with apple and sultanas and walnuts and honey. Yum!

Then I found these. Chocolate chip oatmeal cookie pancakes by the Minimalist Baker.

These pancakes are so delish as long as you don’t go into them expecting light and fluffy, or thin and crepe like. These are chunky and full of awesome.

Recipes are just a guideline and we have giant bananas at the moment so click the link for the original or check out my slightly altered version (because I’m lazy and I use what’s in the cupboard).

Shona’s Choc Chip & Rolled Oat Pancakes

In a bowl put 1 banana, 1 egg, 1 tbsp peanut butter (crunchy, smooth, whatever is handy), 1 tbsp coconut oil, dash of vanilla and cinnamon (cloves and nutmeg too if you feel like it). Give it a whisk until smooshy.

Toss in 2/3 cup of rolled oats and ¼ cup gf flour and 1tsp baking powder. Whisk. It should be quite thick. Add ~80ml water (I ran out of oat milk one day and decided water would be fine. It totally was).

Let the mix sit for 10 mins. So go and get dressed, tell the kids to get dressed, feed the cat etc…

Stir the mix add a splash more water if it’s thickened up a lot. It should be gloopy not runny. Add 3 tablespoons of choc chips (throw in what looks like the right amount because who really measures chocolate?)

Blob mixture onto the frying pan. Don’t try for big pancakes, think pikelet size. Flip and then serve with nutlex and maple syrup and fruit (oranges, berries and pears go really well).

If your kids aren’t snarfing them down these will keep in the fridge for a couple of days once cooked so you can enjoy them for breakfast tomorrow without the fuss of cooking them.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do…the Minimalist Baker has lots of other yummy recipes for the gf and df. I no longer have to be as strict which makes going out a whole lot easier but at home I try and avoid them still.

And while you enjoy choc chip pancakes check out The Darkling Lord for some paranormal romance with spies and fairies.

 

Honestly, Shona, you are the queen of healthy cooking with chocolate! These sound great and I love the idea whipping up an batch and keeping them in the fridge to have later. That’s very handy, especially for when you’re running late. And because they’re only pikelet sized, these pancakes would be perfect to munch on while reading The Darkling Lord!

If you’d like to learn more about Shona and her edgy romances, including the Shadowlands and Court of Annwyn series, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter using @ShonaHusk, or sign up to her newsletter to keep up to date with new releases and more.

FRIDAY FEAST with Margareta Osborn

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Greetings, lovely people, and welcome to another scintillating edition of Friday Feast. This week we’re coming up roses with one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors, plus a recipe for the cake everyone adores, chocolate!

First, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Or not. Thanks to a weekend of fun and fiction at the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra I didn’t play. I did, however, score a blow-up horse, duly christened Hot Chocolate by the QT barflies. See? There’s always a silver lining!

Photo of Margareta OsbornBut on to rosier things…

With her debut novel Bella’s Run fifth generation farmer Margareta Osborn quickly established herself as one of Australia’s star rural romance authors. She soon followed that success up with Hope’s Road and Mountain Ash. Then a couple of years ago came the ebook novella A Bush Christmas and it was an instant hit.

Margareta has now taken this story and transformed it into a full-length novel, carrying on the lives of the characters her readers had come to love so much. The result is Rose River, set in the East Gippsland mountains, an area Margareta knows well. Check it out…

ROSE RIVER

Rose River by Margareta OsbornAdapted from Margareta Osborn’s bestselling ebook novella A Bush Christmas, Rose River is a gloriously funny romantic comedy set in the beautiful Australian outback.

Take one city girl – and drop her into the back of beyond…

Housesitting in rural Burdekin’s Gap, high up in the East Gippsland mountains, is not an obvious career move for a PR executive like Jaime Hanrahan. But, hey, retrenchment is a kicker.

Plus she’s determined not to spend Christmas in Melbourne with her friends, who still have company cars and six-figure salaries, or with her mother, Blanche, who has remarried too soon after her father’s death.

However, it turns out that Burdekin’s Gap is a little more remote than Jaime had anticipated, the house is in the middle of a cattle station, and the handsome manager, Stirling McEvoy, doesn’t appreciate a new farmhand in Jimmy Choos and Sass & Bide cut-offs.

Soon Jaime is fending off stampeding cows, town ladies wielding clipboards, sheep who think they are goats, nude sportsmen and one very neurotic cat. So why does she feel like she’s falling in love… with the life, with the breathtaking landscape, and with one infuriating cowboy…

Doesn’t that sound fun? And a copy could be yours with just a few clicks. Visit Booktopia, Angus & Robertson, Bookworld, Boomerang Books, Collins Booksellers, Fishpond, iBooks, Kobo, Amazon.au, Amazon.com, Amazon.uk, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite bookstore.

All set? Lovely. Now you can have chocolate.

The Chocolate Read

My latest novel, ROSE RIVER, started out as a little ebook called A BUSH CHRISTMAS. This novella (a short book) hit #1 on iTunes, and was a finalist in the Romantic Novella of the Year A Bush Christmas by Margareta OsbornAward with Romance Writers of Australia. It was a huge success, and I was simply delighted!  Then, the emails and messages started hitting my inbox, arriving by the truckload, from readers around the country with a singular request, ‘We want the rest of Jaime and Stirling’s story!’

Seriously, what could I do … ? And to be honest, I was curious myself. What was going to happen next in the mountains around Burdekin’s Gap?

ROSE RIVER is the outcome.

When I sat down to write more of Jaime and Stirling’s story at Polly’s Plains, a cattle station in the high country of East Gippsland, our family had just lost a friend. In my sadness, I was looking for something to read. I wanted a novel that was light hearted and fun, a book where I could simply sit back and be entertained. A distraction was what I needed, an escape. I was searching for a story that was like chocolate, an endorphin to sweeten and warm my saddened heart and mind. I couldn’t find it. So, with ROSE RIVER’s deadline looming, I sat down wrote the book I was looking for instead.

ROSE RIVERPink iced chocolate cake is a laugh-out-loud, heart-warming story about the thrills and spills of life on the land. It brims with humour, abounds with deep affection for unique and colourful country communities and draws on my passion for the spectacular beauty of the bush where I have lived and worked all my life.

And while I wrote I ate chocolate – Chocolate cake to be precise. And you are very special because I’m going to share with you my precious chocolate cake recipe (a HUGE cake), which can be used as the basis for a marble cake as well. It’s a recipe I’ve tweaked and played with for years until it’s nigh on darn perfect. It’s yummy, moist and there’s lots of it.

So now you’ve got it all. ROSE RIVER, the “chocolate read” …  accompanied by the chocolate cake. My middle son is aghast, ‘Mum, you can’t share that recipe with anyone! It’s your special cake!’

Just goes to show what I think of you guys, right?

Enjoy!

ROSE RIVER CHOCOLATE CAKE

Rose River chocolate cake250gm Butter

2 Cups Caster Sugar (I never said it was healthy 🙂 )

2 ½ cups of S.R. Flour

1 teaspoon of Bi-Carb soda

4 tablespoons of Cocoa

2 cups of milk

4 Large eggs

Vanilla

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time until combined,

(If using a small mixing bowl, change to larger one now.)

Add sifted dry ingredients alternating with milk, until all ingredients are combined.

Grease a large lamington slab pan, or large sized spring-form cake tin. You can also use a smaller round/square cake-tin and a loaf tin.  The mixture goes a long way. Great for making one cake for now and freezing the other for emergency smoko rations 🙂

 

And how grateful we are, Margareta! Thank you for sharing such a beloved recipe. It’s always such a joy to feature tried ‘n true country cooking on Friday Feast. You can’t go wrong with the cooking and the flavours are complete crowd-pleasers. Great stuff.

I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing you all the very best with Rose River, which will no doubt be another runaway hit for you.

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Nicki Edwards

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Welcome to the food and book magnificence that is Friday Feast! We have a treat for you today: a debut author and Feast virgin! But more on that in a moment…

Prepare yourselves. You may find the news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf a tad startling. Yes, folks, I didn’t play too badly. In fact, so not-too-badly that I lost a stroke off my handicap. I Author Nicki Edwardshaven’t stopped blinking at it since the update came through. Tis a wonder indeed. Naturally, I will now spend the next month not being able to play even close to it. But that’s golf for you!

Enough of that. We have far more important things to discover, like books ‘n food.

This week I’m delighted to introduce Australian author Nicki Edwards to you. Nicki has a brand-spanking new rural romance release out and it looks fabulous. Intensive Care, as the name suggests, has a medical bent and being an Emergency Department nurse, you can trust Nicki to bring real authenticity to the story.

Take a look.

INTENSIVE CARE

Cover of Intensive Care by Nicki EdwardsEscaping to the country was meant to be easy…

On the surface it looks like busy Intensive Care nurse Kate Kennedy has it all: a long-term relationship, a great career and a sleek inner city apartment. But appearances are deceiving, and in one fell swoop everything comes crashing down around her. In a moment of spontaneity, Kate leaves her city life and takes a new role as Nurse Unit Manager at Birrangulla Base Hospital, but her dream move proves harder than expected.

Local café owner Joel O’Connor finds himself increasingly drawn to the gorgeous new nurse, but like Kate, he’s been scarred by love and isn’t looking to jump into anything. Yet their chemistry is hard to deny and after a near fatal incident, Joel and Kate find themselves opening up to one another.

Just when Kate thinks she’s found love again, their fragile relationship is thwarted by their pasts. Can they both let go of their guilt and grief to move on to a bright new future?

Ooh, thwarted love. We do love that in romance land, which makes this a must for your rural romance collection. Intensive Care can be yours right now with just a few clicks. Buy the ebook direct from the publisher Momentum or try Kobo, Amazon.com, Amazon.au, Amazon.uk, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi or Google Play.

All set? Excellent. You may now play with Nicki.

The Secret Ingredient

When Cathryn first emailed and asked me if I’d like to join her on the blog, I said “yes” without thinking. Then I checked out her blog and my heart thudded into my RM William’s boots. You see, I need to share a little secret. Don’t tell anyone (especially not Cathryn), but I despise cooking! I hesitate to say I ‘hate’ it in case that comes across too strongly, so let’s just stick with words like ‘detest’, ‘loathe’ or ‘dislike’! (And yes, I’m aware that they all mean the same thing!) And while I’m airing all my dirty laundry, I have another confession to make – I don’t even own a recipe book! All I have is a spiral bound book full of handwritten recipes I’ve gathered over the Well used recipe book showing Lenore's Muffins recipeyears.

Now that massive weight is off my shoulders I can get on with the business of talking about food, which is what this blog is about! Just because I don’t like cooking, doesn’t mean I can’t do  it. I can actually make an amazing lasagne, have a few sensational chicken meals, and I even have a great kangaroo dish that I make. But my downfall is baking.

My four kids will tell you I can’t bake to save myself. I follow recipes from my mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law (all of them brilliants cooks) and they all fail. Every time. I would sample a chocolate cake, slice or dessert at their house, demand the recipe, go home and attempt it, but it would never work out. In the end, I came to the conclusion that they left out some vitally important ingredient on their handwritten list, on purpose!

One of my friends is incredible when it comes to hospitality and she makes the most amazing white chocolate chip muffins. She told me they are fool proof. Now those words should have been a warning sign. I should have backed away immediately before anyone got hurt. But no, you guessed it. I asked for the recipe which she handed over, scrawled on a scrap of paper. And I went home and attempted to make them. Sadly I have lost how many times I’ve attempted these muffins, but each time I tell myself this will be the day they work out.

A few years ago (yes I have been trying to make these muffins FOR YEARS) I announced proudly to my youngest son Toby that I’d made “Nore’s Muffins”. He was so excited until he bit into one and screwed up his face.

“They don’t taste like Lenore’s,” he said.

My shoulders sagged. I knew he was telling me the truth.

“I just don’t know what Lenore puts into hers to make them work,” I said.

“I know!” Toby stated. “Lenore makes hers with love.”

And that is my problem dear readers. I can cook. But I forget to add the most important secret ingredient. Love. So, on that note, I’d like to share Lenore’s muffins with you. I promise you, if you add love, they will work every time! I’m told they taste great with coffee, but I wouldn’t know as I’m one of those strange people who has never tasted coffee in my life. Which is all the more strange that I would feature a coffee-loving nurse in my debut novel, Intensive Care!

“Made with Love” Muffins

Muffins in the oven, ready to bake

1 cup SR Flour, heaped

1 cup sugar, heaped

3 large tablespoons butter (melted)

½ – ¾ cup of milk

1 tblsp cocoa

2 eggs

¾ pack of White Chocolate chips

Mix

Bake for 15 minutes at 180.

Make yourself a muffin, grab a coffee and have a read. Enjoy!

 

From Intensive Care:

“Hello, love,” the man greeted Kate as she got closer and she blinked in surprise. It was the Irish guy from the elevator! At the sound of his voice a sudden unexpected warmth coursed through her body, traveling down to her toes.

“Oh! Hi.” She grinned.

“What can I get yer today then, love?”

“If you’re still open, I’m in need of a proper coffee.”

“Yeah love, we’re still open. My name’s Joel.” He smiled and his blue eyes twinkled. “Joel O’Connor.” The dimples she remembered formed on each side of his mouth.

“Well, hello there, Joel O’Connor.” She smiled in return. When it was obvious he didn’t recognize her, she felt strangely disappointed. “I’m Kate.”

 “So where are you from then, Kate?” he asked, his bright blue eyes dancing.

Do I have something written across my forehead? How do they know I’m not from around here?

“Sydney,” she replied.

“Well Miss City Chick, I make the best coffee in Birrangulla.” He smiled again, revealing perfectly straight white teeth. “And when I say I make the best coffee, I mean it really is the best coffee. I’ll even bet it tastes better than any coffee you’ve ever tasted from that city of yours.”

“Oh yeah?” she teased him. “How about I let you know once I taste it?” She laughed softly before stopping herself and covering her mouth with her hand. God, it sounded like she was flirting.

“It’s a deal,” he replied.

 

 

Thanks so much, Nicki. And how easy are those muffins? Absolutely no excuse not to make a batch and settle in for a good long read of Intensive Care. The perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon and we Friday Feast readers all know we need more “me” time.

Now, my delicious little Feasty darlings, Nicki has a question for you: If you were to sit down in a café like Bean Counter in Intensive Care, what type of coffee would you order? And if you were to have something to eat with it, would you pick sweet or savory?

Ooh, this is a bit of a tricky one for me, because it depends. Post lunch I’d probably go for an espresso, something to get me through the afternoon. Maybe with something light and sweet, like a macaroon. In the morning I’d more inclined to go for a latte and perhaps something savoury.

What about you, Feasties? Is your penchant for a nice cup of Earl Grey and a shortbread? Or perhaps a hot chocolate matched with a terribly indulgent dessert is more your go, or a lusty long black. Let us know. We’d love to hear!

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

FRIDAY FEAST with Beck Nicholas

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Hello, lovely people, and welcome to another fantabulous edition of Friday Feast! Today is very special because we have on a debut Australian author, a book giveaway and a totally slurpilicious recipe. Much cause for celebration!

Unlike a certain beloved football team whose performance in the  AFL Grand Final still makes me want to sob with heartbreak and bewilderment. But enough of the Sydney Swans. Cos, quite frankly, I’m still too upset to talk about it. So, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news… well, at least I wasn’t as bad as my football team! Not even close. Although I did send a ball hurtling into a dam. Actually, make that two balls. Oh… Hang on. It was three. Sigh. But I did spot a frill-necked lizard and had a brown snake go slithering across the fairway. Just as a bonus!

Speaking of bonuses, that’s what you’re in for today, so read on.Young Adult author Beck Nicholas

I am absolutely chuffed to welcome Beck Nicholas to Friday Feast and to showcase her debut young adult novel, Fake. Beck hails from Adelaide and has been a long time member of the Romance Writers of Australia, and we’ve caught up at many a conference. I was thrilled when I heard Harlequin would be publishing her first book and even more delighted when I saw the fantastic cover she’d been given. Now it’s wonderful reviews I’m seeing!

Fake is on the shelves now and while it might be marketed at young adult readers, adult readers will be in for a treat too. Take a look.

FAKE

Cover of Fake by Beck NicholasSeventeen-year-old Kath McKenny has a date to the end-of-term party with her since-forever crush. He publicly messaged her to confirm, but there’s been a recent status update: he’s taking the new girl — giggly, pretty, well-developed Lana Elliot — instead.

After being thoroughly humiliated in front of half the school, best friend Chay talks Kath into revenge: a scheme to create the perfect — and very fake — online guy for Lana. Once she falls for him, they’ll show her what it’s like to get brutally dumped.

Everything is going to plan until Kath starts spending more-than-just-friends time with the other new kid in town — Lana’s dreamy older brother, Sebastian. Kath finds herself getting in deep — in love and drowning in guilt, she tries to put an end to her prank, but it’s taken on an unstoppable momentum of its own, with very real consequences.

As her plotting begins to unravel, so do the people Kath thought she knew:
Her mother has a secret online life.
Her father has a whole new family.
Her best friend is barely recognisable.
Her boyfriend has a disturbing hidden past.
And her enemy is more familiar than she knew

Doesn’t that sound a blast? You should buy a copy right now. For the paperback visit most splendiferous online bookstore Booktopia. Also Bookworld, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop, Collins Booksellers, direct from the publisher Harlequin, or your favourite bookshop or chain store. For the ebook try Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite retailer.

Still not sure? Try this excerpt on for size.

‘Kath! What are you hiding here for?’

I look up, into the frowning face of Chayanne Davy. She’s been my best friend since fourth grade when she cut my finger in a fight over a piece of purple ribbon. She didn’t do blood and promptly fainted, meaning we both spent the rest of the lesson in the nurse’s office. Now, she looks even more pissed than she did then. Her eyebrows, a dozen shades darker than her bleached hair, are lowered in a scowl.

I shrug. ‘This is where we always sit.’

She drops a folder on the damp grass and settles beside me with an exaggerated sigh. ‘But now you’re dating Joel, you need to hang out near the canteen in case he wants to talk to you.’

‘He bought me an ice-cream almost two weeks ago. It’s hardly a commitment.’

‘You’ve finally got Mr Hottie’s attention and now you’re going to blow him off?’

I’m not sure a meet-up at Sweety’s Icecreamery, two doors down from my house, even counts as a date. I shrug again.

Chay flashes me one of her infectious grins. Her bright red lipstick matches her sandals which, combined with tiny cut-off shorts, are completely inappropriate for the chill in the air. ‘So did I imagine the fact that he asked you to the end-of-term party?’

My lips twitch but I refrain from repeating the jig I’d performed in the privacy of my bedroom. ‘Nope.’

Truth be told, for a while I’d worried that I’d dreamed the casual invite to the annual dress-up celebration. I’d been polishing off the remnants of my strawberry shake and the final slurp nearly drowned his words.

Wasn’t that fun? Now go buy. Go on!

Sorted? Excellent. Please enjoy some delicious naughtiness with Beck.

A Little Fakery

I am a regular reader of Friday Feast for the brilliant excerpts (to make my TBR pile groan)and the recipes. Part of the excitement of that call with my first sale was the prospect of at last being a guest myself. Here I am with FAKE on the shelves and my turn in the FF spotlight. Thanks for having me Cathryn (even though we might have a slight disagreement on footy teams – Go you Crows, 2015 for sure!).

There isn’t a lot of cooking in Fake – apart from one horrible experiment when Kath makes her fave lunch of banana and peanut butter warmed on fresh bread. The thought of it actually makes me gag but I remember a friend at school LOVING the combination. Personally I preferred the timeless (but perhaps equally disgusting) potato chip sandwich for my no-mum-around meal.

Although there aren’t many cooking moments, the characters do spend an awful lot of time visiting Sweety’s Icecreamery where they enjoy ice-creams and milkshakes… and a little romance.

Today I’m sharing a recipe inspired by the mint milkshake in the book. It’s is more of a building than cooking one but is super delicious. And you know sometimes it doesn’t hurt to Fake it a little.

Choc-mint Ice-Cream Sandwich

One tub awesome choc mint ice-cream (whole tub not required for dessert)

Choc chip cookies (or buy some)

150g softened butter

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 1/2 cups SR flour

1 cup milk chocolate bits

Method

First, cream butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla and beat well. Mix in sifted flour and choc chips, until well combined.  Place heaped teaspoons of mixture onto lined tray, and press gently flat.

Bake at 180C for 10-12 minutes or until golden in colour and slightly gooey.

Choc chip cookies

Choc sauce

200g 70% Cocoa dark chocolate

185ml thickened cream

Break up choc and mix together. Heat in microwave or over double boiler gently, stirring often to combine.

Broken up chocolate ready for melting

Construction

Place dollops of ice-cream between two cookies. Then simply drizzle the warm choc sauce over the top.

Choc-mint Ice-Cream Sandwich

Enjoy!

I’m not sure how many this makes thanks to family scavenging as I cooked but all the components can be enjoyed on their own too.

For a chance to win a signed copy of Fake, comment below to let me know your favourite after school snack or an easy dessert.

 

Thanks, Beck! And how good does that sandwich look? Mmm. I adore mint chocolate so this is right up my alley.

Now, you heard Beck. There’s a…

GIVEAWAY!

Rah! We so adore a giveaway on Friday Feast. It’s such a great way to discover a new author and this giveaway is totally easy-peasy. All you have to do to win a signed paperback copy of Fake is leave a comment sharing your favourite after school snack or easy dessert.

In the interest of playing along, I’m going to divulge one of the snacks I used to sneak in as a teenager: zap a snack-sized tin of corn in the microwave, drain and then stir through one (or many more) of those individually wrapped cheese slices. Zap a bit more until the cheese is melted, then scoff with spoon. Embarrassing to think about now but I loved that mix.

Your turn to share!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 7th October 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Shelleyrae who has scored a copy of Beck’s fabulous debut release, FAKE. Thanks so much to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun. There were some wonderful after-school snack blasts from the past, as well as some, how shall we say… not for the fainthearted foods mentioned!

FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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Greetings, Feasters! Don’t you just love Fridays? Especially when they feature super authors, scrumptious food and book giveaways.

But first, news from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. A two week break seemed to have done wonders… for 8 holes. Then it all fell apart. Like, REALLY apart. By the 18th I was having a severe attack of the sookybum-I-just-want-it-to-be-overs. I’m starting to think I should change my home course. Mine is costing a small fortune in water-dunked balls. Hmph.Author Amy Andrews

At least my darling Sydney Swans won and are now perched back where we belong at the top of the AFL ladder, although we ended our game against St Kilda with injury worries. Not the time of the year to be losing players, especially super stars like Josh Kennedy whom I luuuuurve.

Speaking of superstars – ha! – today on the blog we have awesome Aussie author and Australian Romance Reader Award winner Amy Andrews. Amy has written over forty romances, including the brilliant Holding Out For A Hero, which, if you haven’t read it, you should go fetch and devour now. It’s a blast.

Amy’s latest release is an urban-family romantic comedy and sounds a hoot. Take a look…

RISKY BUSINESS

Risky Business by Amy AndrewsSamantha Evans’s life is going to hell. Not only has she rage-quit her beloved, high-powered job, but she is suddenly afflicted by hormones, free time, and an unavoidable, unignorable, undeniably gorgeous irritant in the form of Nick Hawke, her extreme sports star neighbour, who has come home to take over the reins of his grandmother’s second-hand bookshop. Sam needs something to keep her from begging for her old job back until she’s good and sure her boss understands how wrong he was, and taking a low-risk, low-stress job helping Nick at the bookstore might be just the thing.

After all, it’s not like Nick is the right guy to help her with her hormones. He’ll just be fun to look at while she searches for the one.

Nick has six months to get over an injury before Everest and a big, fat contract beckon. That means no sports, no danger and, above all else, no risks. It means playing it safe. And Nick Hawke doesn’t do safe. So he’s going to need something to stave off the boredom while selling books he doesn’t read to people who wouldn’t know a carabineer from a crochet hook. What could be safer than hiring a cranky, unemployed accountant to help run the bookstore? Sam is efficient and methodical and messing up her neat, post-it note world could be a fun way to pass the time….

Risky Business mixes the classic romance of Philadelphia Story, the humour and wit of When Harry Met Sally, and a strong, contemporary Australian setting to create a delightful, irresistible, utterly satisfying treat of a novel.

Doesn’t that sound cool? And there’s a special offer on right now. Buy from the Mills & Boon website using code RWA14 at the checkout and you can have Risky Business for only 99 cents. How’s that for a bargain! Otherwise, you can insta-buy via Amazon, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now buckle up for another fun foodie ride with Amy.

Fantastic Food Faking

So, surprisingly, Cathryn has asked me back. Considering I’m one of those who finds cooking a chore I feel very blessed. Anyone who’s read my previous two blogs here knows that I subscribe to the food construction method of “cooking” and whilst that may be an okay thing to do in the privacy of your own home it is entirely another thing to put your slack-arse, slap-dash cooking ability up for critical viewing on a world-wide blog.

But hey, this is Cathryn’s little corner of the internet and we are all in the cone of silence. Right?

So…forthwith, the third instalment of my Clayton’s cooking efforts – the cooking you get when you’re not really cooking at all.

Clayton’s Cooking Part Three  Or Cathryn plying me with too much alcohol at RWA and asking me to do it with absolutely no recollection on my behalf…

Raspberry, Chocolate Mousse and Brandy Snap Tartlets

(yes, I just literally made up that name)

Sounds posh right? But don’t get too carried away – its easy peasy, consists of 4 ingredients and requires no actual oven being turned on! But it also looks spectacular and goes down a treat at parties!

Ingredients –

•             A box of Brandy Snap baskets.

Now…..long story. I went to buy these at the supermarket yesterday and was told they’re only a Christmas item (WTF – I’m sure I’ve bought them at other times???!) but never fear, we food constructors are nothing but versatile in our attempts to actually avoid cooking anything.

Anzac Biscuits

Any packet of round biscuits will work. I found these gourmet (special note – important part of food faking is buying the most expensive ingredients so they appear to be homemade) Anzac biscuits. Although I also used some plain chocolate ones as an experiment and Gingernuts work quite well also. The thinner the better!

Anzac biscuits

•             A tub of Chocolate Mousse.

Chocolate mousse

You can of course make your own but splash out on an expensive brand and put your feet up for the hour it would have taken you to make one! I used a posh Belgian chocolate brand from my supermarket fridge section.

•             Punnet of fresh Raspberries.

Raspberries

•             Icing Sugar to garnish.

•             Zap the biscuits individually in the microwave (special note – the microwave is a food constructors best friend) for approx 30 secs but you may have to experiment to get it just soft and pliable enough to push into a cupcake pan. Don’t worry if it breaks up – just push it in and mush it together as you go while its nice and warm. Repeat until you have as many as you need or run out of biscuits.

Brandy Snap Baskets

•             Leave to cool for ten minutes. The biscuits will have re-moulded into a basket shape and will slip easily out of the pan.

•             Fill with mousse.

•             Top with raspberries.

•             Dust with icing sugar.

Tartlets

And hey presto – they’re done!  Look fab, taste amazing and it’s taken less than half an hour!

You’re welcome 🙂

 

Don’t they sound delicious? And how easy! Even my inner food snob (who I like to keep well-slapped down these days) is drooling. I bet these go down a treat at parties, as Amy says. What’s not to like? They even have fruit to make them healthy.

I’ll tell you what is else good and healthy, a…

GIVEAWAY!

Now, my Feasty lovelies, what’s your favourite way to cheat with party food? Do you buy in mini sausage rolls and pies? Perhaps you’ve been known to take bought dips and add a few secret touches so they appear home-made? I have to admit I’ve done that before…

Reveal your secrets and you’ll go into the draw to win an e-book copy of Amy’s new release Risky Business. Guaranteed great fun!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 26th August 2014. E-book only. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Amy and her fabulous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using @AmyAndrewsbooks. Amy has also just started a newsletter. Sign up for up-to-date details on new releases and giveaways.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Shelley who will soon be laughing her socks of with her ebook copy of Amy’s Risky Business. Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun. As always, you were a joy. See you again soon!

FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

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Tra-la-la! Another excellent Friday is here and what fun we’ll have with it too. But first, one must gloat!

Did you see my darling Swannies? They were magnificent last week against Geelong. Magnificent! It’s taken a while but my boys have really hit their footy straps now. Which leads me nicely into Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Last week I didn’t just play to my Australian author Jennifer Scoullarnew handicap, I beat it. By TWO WHOLE STROKES. Imagine! ‘Tis a miracle, but for some very strange reason the Great Golfing God loves me at the moment. It will pass, of course. That is the Hein fate, but for now I’m loving it!

Speaking of loving (hee!), today’s Friday Feast guest has been receiving rave reviews for her latest release. Jennifer Scoullar broke into the rural romance genre with the hugely successful Brumby’s Run, followed by Currawong Creek. Now her latest, Billabong Bend, is out and it’s being praised by readers and bloggers everywhere.

Check it out…

BILLABONG BEND

Cover pf Billabong Bend by Jennifer ScoullarFor riverine farmer Nina Moore, the rare marshland flanking the beautiful Bunyip River is the most precious place on Earth. Her dream is to buy Billabong Bend and protect it forever, but she’s not the only one with designs on the land. When her childhood sweetheart Ric Bonelli returns home, old feelings are rekindled and Nina dares to hope of a future for them both on the river. But a tragic death divides loyalties, tears apart their fledgling romance and turns her dream into a nightmare. Will Nina win the battle for Billabong Bend? Or will the man she once loved destroy the wild wetlands she holds so close to her heart?

Billabong Bend is a star-crossed love story which sets Nina, a floodplains grazier, and Ric, a traditional cotton farmer, on a heart-rending collision course amid the beauty of New South Wales’ northern riverlands.

A star-crossed love story! Now, how could anyone refuse that? And you don’t have to because Billabong Bend is available right now from your favourite book shop or chainstore. Or you can order instantly online from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Dymocks, Fishpond, Boomerang Books, and QBD The Bookshop. For the ebook, try Amazon for Kindle, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Kobo or your favourite ebook retailer.

All stocked up? Fabulous. Now it’s time to get native with Jennifer!

Cooking With Native Mint

‘Two moons, one in the sky and its dimpled twin in the river, cast a soft glow over the bush. The velvet night was fragrant with eucalyptus and wild river mint.’ Billabong Bend

Thanks so much for asking me over for a Friday feast Cathryn. As you already know, I’m a fan of bush tucker. To celebrate the release of Billabong Bend I’m sharing a recipe using the rambling River Mint bush Mentha australisis – a subtle Australian native herb with the taste and aroma of spearmint. It thrives along waterways after flood, particularly in the beautiful Murray Darling riverlands. Indigenous people used River Mint to flavor food, and also medicinally for coughs and colds. Early settlers embraced this perennial herb, commonly teaming it with roast lamb. It can be easily grown and is great for boggy places. Although not as invasive as common mint it does spread, so may be best in pots for small gardens. Dry it, or use it fresh in savoury sauces, salads, fruit drinks and desserts. You can buy dried River Mint online very reasonably from The Bush Food Shop. They also sell River Mint and Pepperleaf Jelly and a delightfully refreshing Wild Spearmint Cordial!

Here’s a delicious no-bake slice that takes hardly any time at all to prepare, and will impress people with your bush tucker skills!

Native Mint and Macadamia Slice

Jennifer Scoullar's macadamia slice

200gm chocolate (I like dark best)

175gm Shortbread (Butterfingers shortbread made by the Old Colonial Cookie Company in Victoria’s Yarra Valley is yum and Aussie made. I’m not much of a shortbread cook!)

I/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

40gm butter

2 tablespoons of Australian honey

2 tablespoons dried River Mint

– Line a pan with baking paper

– Place the dried native mint in a saucer and add 2 tablespoons of hot water. Leave to cool.

– Combine 200gm chocolate with 40gm butter and 2 tablespoons of Australian honey in a

stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of boiling water until the chocolate just melts, and the

ingredients are combined.

– Remove from heat and stir in the native mint. Then fold in the packet of shortbread broken

into chunky pieces.

– Pour mixture into lined pan.

– Press macadamia halves on top and chill for 2 hours.

– Sprinkle icing sugar on top

– Slice and serve

 

Jenn, this sounds a lovely slice! And so easy. Like hedgehog slice but with a minty hint. I’ll have to give this one a try.

GIVEAWAY

We adore a good giveaway on Friday Feast and Jennifer has very generously offered one. This is your chance to win a paperback copy of her brand new, raved about release, Billabong Bend. Star-crossed lovers, Feasters! Star-crossed lovers! And yours to be had with just a teensy bit of effort.

To be in the draw, tell us your favourite slice. Maybe it’s lovely gooey caramel. Or perhaps you love nothing better than a savoury slice made with zucchini and fetta. Or even a bakery made apricot or apple slice that oozes luscious fruit the moment you bite into it.

Simply share your tastiest slice and we’ll pop you in the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 10th June 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Andrea, who has won a copy of Jennifer’s Billabong Bend. Great reading ahead. Thanks to all who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon!

FRIDAY FEAST with Shona Husk

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Oof, it’s been a big week. So much to catch up on after my trip away to South Australia and western Victoria but a very lovely time was had so all worth it.

We have an excellent guest on Friday Feast today, and a regular, but first you must endure Author Shona HuskUs Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news because I’m chuffed. Chuffed, I tell you!

Yes, I played well enough last week to lose an entire stroke off my handicap. Whee! Lots of long puts sunk and I only hit one ball into a dam. Marvels!

Which gives me a very nice segue back to today’s Friday Feast guest because she is a true marvel. Why? Because Shona Husk gave us TOBLERONE BROWNIES! Plus she’s a pretty awesome author. Shona is a three-time Australian Romance Reader Award finalist and best-selling author of multiple contemporary, fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi romances (her Shadowlands series is fantastic). Whatever tickles your romantic fantasy, Shona has a book for you.

Her latest release is The Changeling Soldier. Check it out.

THE CHANGELING SOLDIER

Cover of The Changeling Soldier by Shona HuskHer time in the mortal world is running out…

After fleeing Annwyn three centuries ago, Ella built a life in the mortal world making gowns for European royalty and playing in mortal intrigues. Now those Courts are long gone, and she dresses Hollywood starlets. Mortals come and go, but Ella always ends up alone. She longs for the home she left behind.

He’s been dreaming of the coming battle all his life…

Isaac Norton is a returned soldier. Now home, he’s restless and his recurring dream is becoming more frequent: he’s fighting on a snow-covered field stained with blue blood. When he sees Ella, he knows she isn’t human. And she knows what he is, a changeling.

Ella can give Isaac the answers he needs, but there will be a price to pay: his soul.

Ooh, now there’s a story with a lot at stake! The Changeling Soldier releases June 3rd but you can pre-order it right now for a measly 99 cents. What a bargain! Order the ebook from Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble for Nook, All Romance eBooks or you can buy a print version from  Amazon or Createspace.

Go on! It’s 99 cents and you’ll have a cracking time!

Speaking of a cracking time, here’s Shona.

My Favourite Cookbooks

I love cooking, not the huge labor intensive dinner party style cooking, but the sling it together with love style of cooking. Simple and delicious. It should be no surprise that one of my favorite cookbooks is Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals (No, I have never cracked the 15 minute mark but it’s still something I aim for).

Cathryn: Neither have I with the 30 Minute, Shona, but it’s still fast-ish and the results are pretty tasty!

I also love that I can hand his 15 and 30 minute meals books to the kids and they can select the menu for the week (as an added bonus if they don’t like it I can remind them that they picked it).

My other favorite cookbook is one I was given for Christmas (I might have suggested that was what I wanted). Silvia’s Cucina is full of Italian yumminess. I started with the desserts, then moved my way to gnocci and pasta before trying bread. OMG! I haven’t bought a loaf of bread since January.

While I’ve had a bread machine for over a decade it was never great for sandwiches and the texture wasn’t quite right. Silvia’s bread is awesome. I love the overnight no knead recipe (it has 3 ingredients!) and the kids like her soft crust yoghurt bread. Silvia’s Cucina has been a great addition to my library. While many of these recipes are a little more time consuming, slow roasted goat and Nona’s polenta and pork ribs are so worth the wait—and perfect for making on the weekend.

Lastly Curtis Stone’s What’s for Dinner. This is another one that I can hand to the kids so they can choose the meals. Potato and corn chowder is very popular, as it the banana bread (although I must confess taking out half the walnuts and swapping them with choc chips).

I can’t leave without sharing a recipe, this is one my sister sent me and it’s for no bake chocolate slice. From ihearexercisewillkillyou.com (my notes are in italics, this recipe is also super easy to halve if you are running out of things but still want a sweet treat, it’s also super rich so cut small squares!)

The Best No-Bake Bars You’ll Ever Eat

1 cup peanut butter (I use crunchy)

1/2 cup honey (um, I never actually measure I do it by eye as it’s less of a PITA)

1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil (be sure to use unrefined for the coconut flavor) (health food shop)

2 cups dry oats (not instant) (I use rolled, I’m guessing that’s the same as dry as it turns out fine)

1 C shredded coconut

1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips (200g of 85% Lindt is awesome)

1 t vanilla extract

Melt peanut butter, honey and coconut oil over medium-low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and add oats, shredded coconut, chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chocolate is entirely melted. Pour into a 9×13 pan and cool in the fridge. When it’s set, cut into bars and enjoy. Store in the fridge. If they last that long!

***

While I do use the internet to find recipes, it’s not the same as flicking through a book and feeling inspired to try something new. What are your favorite family (and time friendly) recipe books?

 

Oh, that’s easy…*trots off to survey collection* … er, perhaps not so easy after all. I love all my cookbooks. Some I read for fun and inspiration but never really cook out of, others I try loads of things. Probably my most used is Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes. There are some cracking recipes in there like lahmacun (a delicious lamb pizza type dish) and pollo alla diavola. And tonight I’m making the lamb tagine with prunes and almonds. I agree with Shona about Jamie Oliver too. If you’re time pressed, Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals has some pretty tasty recipes in it. Try the piri-piri chicken and the stuffed Cypriot chicken. Plenty of others to play with too.

What about you? What’s your favourite cookbook? Share the love. I’m sure we could all do with another on our shelves. Although don’t tell my other half that!

If you’d like to learn more about Shona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter using @ShonaHusk or sign up to her newsletter for all the latest releases.

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein (again!)

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Hello, my lovely Feasters! Welcome to this ANZAC day edition of Friday Feast. Did you brave the cold for dawn service this morning? We did, and it was as moving as always.

Lest We Forget.

Now, as is tradition, it’s time for your favourite sporting update in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. There is good news to report. Ha! You didn’t expect that, did you? Well, it appears the Easter Bunny bought me a golf swing and it was magnificent to behold.

Okay, that’s a lie. Magnificent was my beloved Sydney Swans victory over Fremantle in the AFL, something my swing could never be classified as. Doesn’t matter. The Easter weekend was stunning weather-wise and I had great fun on the golf course (except for those two balls in the dam on the 18th on Saturday – that wasn’t fun at all). Plus I won the Sunday competition. All right, so there were only five in the field but ppht, who cares about that? Bar me, they were all men and a victory is still a victory!

Another victory is Rocking Horse Hill finally hitting the shelves. Yeehaa!

ROCKING HORSE HILL

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein coverWho do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

And you can buy this exciting read RIGHT NOW!

For the paperback why not support your local bookstore? You’ll also find Rocking Horse Hill at chain stores like BigW, K-Mart and Target, and excellent online retailers like Booktopia and Bookworld.

For the ebook, clickety-click on over to Amazon for an instant download to your Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or JB Hi-Fi.

All loaded up? Oh, you’re good people! Now we can get on with some…

Sweet Seduction

There were many things I loved writing about in Rocking Horse Hill. The hill itself was a big one. The animals, of course. The indomitable Granny B. And Josh and Em’s history-burdened relationship.

The other thing was the food. Wallace-Jones women are renowned cooks. Em often has her friends Teagan and Jas over for dinner and a girly gossip. Tuesday night dinner at the Wallace-Jones mansion in Levenham is tradition, and Em’s mum Adrienne always cooks up something wonderful and comforting. When this family entertains, they do it in style.

One of my favourite scenes in Rocking Horse Hill is the first night Josh comes to Em’s for dinner. They’re both a bit nervous and want to impress, but neither wants to look like they’ve made too big an effort. So Em takes great care with her menu.

Here’s a little taste of what happens…

Dessert was as big a hit with Josh as the main course. He settled back to regard her with a lazy, satisfied smile. ‘If you set out to impress me, I’m impressed.’

Em’s desire soared hill-high. She smothered it with domesticity. Figuring that he wouldn’t be easily fobbed off, she allowed him to help with the dishes, and was glad she did. The practical chore took the edge off, and let them talk about developments in the town and local gossip. By the time the last dish was stowed and the benches were wiped, they were back to easy friendship.

Josh glanced at his watch. ‘I suppose I should get home. It’s been a big day.’

‘You sure you don’t want coffee?’

‘Thanks, but no.’ Josh wandered towards the sliding door, carrying his jacket, Muffy trailing behind. At the glass he stopped and gave the dog a stern look. ‘You look after your mistress now.’

To Em’s astonishment, Muffy pressed her shoulder into Josh’s leg, a sign of affection Em had always considered exclusively hers. Josh ruffled Muffy’s ears before turning to Em. ‘Thanks for tonight. It was great.’

‘You’re welcome.’

They stared at one another. The CD finished. Wind threaded through the roof and brushed against the house.

‘So.’

‘So.’

The temperature rose.

He leaned forward to kiss her cheek but the kiss lingered. The tiny hairs on her skin stirred against his breath. She could feel his swallow of hesitancy, then his long exhale as he made his decision. Another kiss: soft, fluttery. Heat swept her body, scattering it with delicious prickles.

Em closed her eyes against the pull of yearning. ‘Josh . . .’

So what was the dessert Em impressed Josh with? The oh-so-luscious chocolate heaven that is…

Moelleux au Chocolat

Also commonly known as chocolate fondants. This is, as Em points out ‘…a dessert disproportionately impressive to the effort it took to create.’

Honestly, you can whip these babies up in no time. And, because they’re better if you prepare them in advance, you can make them the morning or even the day before you want to serve, and simply keep them in the fridge until you’re ready.

Makes 4. Recipe can easily be doubled.

85g dark, high quality chocolate

85g butter, cubed

85g dark brown sugar

40g plain flour

3 eggs, beaten

Butter

Cocoa powder

Brush 6 ramekins with butter. Be generous. Tip in a spoonful or so of cocoa powder into each ramekin and rotate the ramekin so the powder covers the base and edges. Again, don’t be afraid to be generous. Tip out excess powder into the next one and continue until they’re all well dusted.

Ramekins buttered and dusted with cocoa

Zap the chocolate and butter in a microwave on low, stirring frequently, until melted. Or melt gently on the stove using a bowl set over a pan of hot water.

Mix the flour and sugar together. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Mix eggs into the melted chocolate mixture and then into the flour and sugar. Pour evenly into the ramekins, cover and leave them in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour.

Moelleux au chocolat ready for baking

Preheat oven to 180C. Place the ramekins onto a tray and then into the oven for 15 minutes, although the best timing will probably be a matter of trial and error – the perfect excuse to make and eat more as you test. The edges should be set but the inside runny. Poke it with a skewer if you’re uncertain, but remember your goal is to serve it gooey. Remove, allow to rest for a little, then turn out onto plates. Serve with cream and maybe some tangy berries if you have some handy.

The gooey insides of the fondant

And wait for the oohs and ahhs as everyone dips their spoons into the mounds and out pours all that chocolatey goodness.

You never know, you might even catch yourself a hunky man like Josh with this recipe. After all, the way to a man’s heart…

 

GIVEAWAY

Why not? New rural romances don’t come along every day, do they? And we do adore a lovely giveaway here on Friday Feast.

But you’ll have to work for it and share what you could be seduced with or have been seduced by. Reveal all in the comments and I’ll pop you into the draw to win a signed copy of Rocking Horse Hill.

Maybe you’re a sucker for an old-fashioned evening out to dinner. Or, like me, gentlemanly manners and a bunch of flowers had you turning gooey. Perhaps you were taken in by something adrenalin packed, like a skydiving date. Or maybe you fell in love over a hamper of stinky gourmet cheeses.

Share and you’ll be in with a chance to win.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 29th April 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, you’ll find plenty of news around the website. Just click on the tabs at the top of the page. You’ll also find me on Facebook, Twitter via @CathrynHein and Google+.

PS. For those in the NSW Blue Mountains, I’ll be signing books at the new BigW store in Katoomba for an hour or so from 11am tomorrow morning, 26th April. If you’re in the area, Come along and say hello. I’d love to see you.