Tag Archives: contemporary romance

FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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Felicitations, food ‘n fiction fans, and welcome! This week, in yet another packed-to-the-max Friday Feast, we host a multi award-winning and best-selling Australian contemporary romance author who’s going to reveal her cracking new read, share a winter-beating recipe, AND give you the chance at a giveaway. It’s all happening, so read on!

First, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Frankly, it’s so bad I’m not sure I’m up to talking about it. After coming last – yes, LAST – in last week’s ladies competition I thought things couldn’t get any worse over the weekend. They did. I went from diabolically bad to… Sorry. I can’t bring myself to tell you. It’s too awful. I want to be upbeat say the only way is up, but I said that last Author Amy Andrewsweek and look what happened. So I’m just going to continue to sulk and mutter, and watch the Haney Project on the golf channel while pointing at my chest and yelling, “You want a challenge, Hank? Try this baby then see how good you are!”

Eh hem.

My guest today is Amy Andrews, who is, if you weren’t already aware, most awesome. She’s prolific, talented, has won bucketloads of awards, hit best-seller lists and done lots of other cool things. I am not ashamed to say I’m a total fangirl. Her books are a hoot and you should all go out and grab one today.

Amy’s latest release is Limbo. Take a look.

LIMBO

Cover of Limbo by Amy AndrewsSix Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’ fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.

When ex hillbilly-punk rocker turned cadaver make-up artist Joy Valentine is visited by the ghost of a high-profile murder victim begging for Joy’s help to find her kidnapped baby girl, Joy knows from experience the cops are going to think she’s crazy. So she takes it to the one guy she knows who won’t.

The last thing disgraced ex-cop turned private investigator Dash Dent expected is a woman from his past turning up to complicate his present with a nutty, woo-woo story. The problem is he knows Joy is telling the truth and he can’t ignore the compelling plight of baby Isabella whose disappearance six months prior transfixed the nation.

Discounted and discredited by the police, Dash and Joy work together to uncover the mystery and find Isabella, with a whacky supporting cast including Eve, a brothel madam; Stan, an excommunicated priest; Katie, Dash’s ten-year-old daughter; and two horny goldfish. It’s a race against time and against all odds – but the real battle for Dash and Joy might just be keeping their hands off each other.

Trust me, you’ll be on a winner with any Amy Andrews book so get clicking and snap Limbo up now. Buy from Booktopia, Bookworld, Amazon.com, Amazon.au, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, Nook or your favourite ebook retailer.

Now settle back and enjoy!

2 Ingredients, 1 Crockpot

Well I must be doing something right because this is now my 4th visit to The Feast and Cathryn still seems to want this food faker back. The good news is the last month or so my cooking mojo has returned! Which was nice of it after 19 years of being AWOL. I cooked two banana cakes, an orange cake and three lots of Coq au Vin in a month! I’ve been mildly surprised at this most unusual behaviour while the family wondered if I’d been abducted by aliens who’d switched my brain with Nigella’s then returned me (particularly cruel when you think they could have switched our bodies as well!).

I emailed Cathryn and told her cooking lived here once again and could I do a Feast spot. No food construction I promised her. I’ll do Coq au Vin, I said. I even went and bought all the ingredients and made it last Saturday. Then promptly forgot about taking pictures as I went. Doh! The worst part was when it came to writing this blog the thought of doing another batch left me completely unenthused. That’s the thing with we food fakers – we’re fickle. So apologies to Cathryn and regular readers but no Coq au Vin.

What I did cook this week, though, was a delicious pea and ham soup which is kinda perfect for these winter months. I even took pictures! So, that’s what I have for you today. No chopping, slicing or dicing, no frying, no rolling in flower or beating/separating anything. Its food construction personified – 2 ingredients and one crockpot – with apologies to Cathryn for leading her on with promises of my reformed character 🙂

PEA AND HAM SOUP

Ingredients

Pea and Ham soup ingredients - bacon bones and dried peas

1/. Bacon bones. The amount depends on you and how big your pot is. You can also use ham hocks or ham bones. Lucky for us my BFF has a farm where she raises pigs because she loves them but occasionally one finds itself onto a roasting spit. We scored some smoked bacon bones off them when they visited a couple of weeks ago. They kind of look like something you might see hanging in an abandoned railway yard in The Walking Dead but they smelled amazing. My husband grew up on a pig farm so he just about died and went to heaven when they were presented.

2/. A packet of dried peas.

And that’s it…

Method

Before you go to bed, place peas in a bowl and drown them in water leaving a good few fingers of liquid covering them. You only have to soak them for a couple of hours but I always soak them overnight.

The next morning place the swollen peas and any water that might not have been absorbed and ham/bacon bones in crockpot. You might need to add some more water depending on the amount of bones you’ve used – so the liquid is up to about ¾ of the crockpot bowl.

Preparing pea and ham soup

Put crockpot on low.

Leave until the evening when all the meat will have fallen off the bones and the peas are all mushed.

Trawl through soup for all the bones (this is the most time consuming part of the recipe) then give a good stir.

Pea and ham soup

Voila! It’s done. Grab a bowl and fill. A nice crunchy bread roll or toast is the perfect accompaniment. Also a glass of wine. I can recommend this cheeky red with the fabulous retro label that every romance author/reader should have on hand!

Amy's red wine recommendation

I don’t know about you guys but winter has hit hard as I write this so guess what I had for lunch?

Pea and Ham soup

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Well, Amy, I know what I wish I was having for lunch! That looks delish and I’m a bit of a fan of a good soup. Mum’s pea and ham soup was an absolute winter winner in our household growing up. She wasn’t much of a cook, bless her, but she could make a mean pavlova and super tasty soup. Just like you!

Now, my Feasty lovelies, because Amy is so wonderful, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

For your chance to win an Amazon Kindle copy of Amy’s new release Limbo, simply tell us this: What’s your favourite way to snuggle up in winter?

Are you a blankie on the couch type of person, or perhaps your greatest winter love is ugg boots? Maybe you’re a demon at hunting down places with open fires or perhaps you’re like me and sidle as close to your other half as possible, pinching all their body heat. Reveal your favourite way to avoid the winter cold and we’ll pop you into the draw.

Please note: giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 16th June 2015. Open internationally. Rah! Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay, you can still read the book via the Kindle app on your phone, tablet or computer.

If you’d like to learn more about Amy and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @AmyAndrewsbooks or keep up with all of Amy’s news by signing up to her newsletter.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Amy Andrews

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you feeling the luuuurve? Or are you suffering a touch of the bah humbugs over the day?

I’m on holidays so I’m most definitely feeling loved up. Er…*cough*… I’m not sure that came out quite right. I meant I’m feeling relaxed and happy with the world. Not the… um… you know, which is not something I want to talk about or you want to hear!

Okay, let’s start again.

Welcome to this Valentine’s Day version of Friday Feast featuring a lady who knows all about heart flutters, in more ways than one!Photo of Amy Andrews, author

But first, because I just know you are fascinated, this week’s edition of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite one day of brilliance, I’m losing the Great Murray River Challenge miserably. I swear my other half is cheating on his scorecard. Either that or he has snuck death-seeking balls into my bag. On the other hand, I’m having fun so not all is lost.

Now back to my guest. Amy Andrews has published forty books. Yes, FORTY. And if that isn’t enough, she’s been nominated for FIVE Australian Romance Readers Awards this year. Fortunately Amy is also a most excellent lady and we love her, despite her clear penchant for overachievement and making the rest of us look bad.

Amy’s latest release (and ARR Award nominee in both the Favourite Contemporary Romance and Sexiest Hero categories) is Holding Out For A Hero. Take a lookie…

 

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

 

Cover of Holding Out For A Hero by Amy AndrewsWhen sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she’s just buried her mother.

Two years later, back in the city, their paths cross again but this time Jake is in the process of destroying her favourite dive bar. With her home facing a wrecker’s ball, her school being closed down and her 15-year-old brother hell bent on self-destruction, it’s the last straw. Throw in a dominatrix best friend who is dating a blue ribbon guy so straight he still lives at home with his mother, it’s no wonder the sanest person in Ella’s life is a dog.

With all this to contend with, the last thing Ella needs is Jake back in her life. But, as fate would have it, Jake is the only chance she has to save her school.

As the school football season heats up, old secrets threaten to surface and Ella takes on greedy developers, school boards and national tabloids. But can she save not just her home, her school and her brother, but also the reputation of the man she’s never been able to forget? And, more importantly, does she want to?

Holding Out for a Hero is a quirky, heartwarming tale of unlikely romance, friendship and family.

 

Now that sounds seriously sexy! And Jake and Ella can be all yours with just a clickety-click from Amazon (for your Kindle or Kindle reading app), iTunes, Google Play and Kobo. It’s on my e-reader. Go and put it on yours!

Now come blow kisses at Amy. She has chooocooolate!

 

Claytons Cooking Part 2 – The Valentine’s Day chapter

Or

My Cheating Heart

 

So, we’ve already established I’m not a cook. That I cheat in the kitchen – often. That I construct dishes from pre-made ingredients and kind of smash it all up to make something new and exciting.

Yep, that’s the way we rock in my house. And everyone’s still alive and adequately nourished.

Yes, I’m a fraud who does not belong on such a magnificent blog with people who make their own spaghetti sauce. From scratch…

But Cathryn likes to indulge me so I thought I’d treat you to another easy-peasy food construction tip for Valentine’s Day!

Now…Valentine’s Day means chocolate right? Well, you know, it means love and romance and all that good stuff too but let’s face it, we’re women, right?

So….back to chocolate.

How about this Valentine’s Day you surprise your lover with some home-made chocolates? Well, you know, home-made in the loosest sense of the word….

The first thing you need is some chocolate moulds. Now, I used to have a stack of plastic moulds that I bought from Robin’s Kitchen years ago when I did this kind of stuff with the kids. I’m sure I had hundreds of them. No, I do have hundreds of them. I just couldn’t find any today when I came to do this recipe…. We food constructors are also bad at keeping track of our kitchen stuff… So I popped out and bought a proper you-beaut sturdy petit four tin. Impressive right?

Amy Andrews's petit fours tin

Next you need chocolate. What? You didn’t think I was actually going to make the chocolate did you? Perish the thought! But I do advise you to buy the most expensive cooking chocolate you can find – might as well dazzle your significant other with the taste of it, right? I used Cadbury. It’s more expensive than most but worth it.

Photo of the chocolate Amy used

Lastly you need stuff to mix in to the chocolate. I’ve used pistachios, coconut, peppermint essence, sprinkles and cranberries. Also Cointreau and rum. Because alcohol. But you can use whatever you want – chilli anyone?

Ingredients for flavouring the chocolates

Now all you do is melt the chocolate. You can get really authentic and do it in a double bowl over a boiling saucepan of water but why? Throw it in the microwave and it’s melted in like 1 minute! Plus, no saucepan to wash up!  Pour the melted chocolate into the individual moulds about half way up. Add whatever bits and pieces you’d like to each one, give it a gentle stir then fill the rest of the way with more chocolate.

Petit fours tin filled with chocolates

Refrigerate!

The end.

And here’s what they look like after they’ve been chilled a while.

The finished chocolates on a plate

Now, if you want to make it really special you can find a cute box or some cellophane and present them nicely. Knowing my hubby he’d prefer me to line them up on his naked body and lick them off after they’ve oozed a little but, you know, whatever works for you! 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For a chance to win a digital copy of my Aussie romcom Holding Out For A Hero tell me – do you like chocolate? Got a favourite brand? Or do you prefer something non-edible for the big-day-of-lurve?

 

And a big chocolate-flavoured Valentine’s Day right back at you, Amy! I now have a fair idea of what you’re doing today. Don’t wear out your tongue!

*cough*

Oh, dear. We really are having one of those days on the Feast, aren’t we? Never mind. Valentine’s Day is but once a year. Next week we shall return to normal innuendo free programming.

But only after we’ve given away a Kindle copy of Holding Out For A Hero!

You heard Amy. Share your favourite chocolate or whatever turns you on for Valentine’s Day and you’ll go into the draw. Me, I have a deep, deep affection for Jeff de Bruge chocolates, a brand I fell for when we lived in France. Luscious little babies. My mouth waters just thinking of those truffles. Otherwise, feed me red wine.

What about you? Maybe you like to suck on a Lindt ball? Perhaps pink champagne is more your go? Or maybe the best Valentine’s Day gift you could receive is a promise to babysit and 12 hours uninterrupted sleep. Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST 18th February 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

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 Amy and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Ingrid who has won herself a copy of Amy’s Holding Out For A Hero. What fun she’ll have! Thanks to Amy and to all who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon.

 

 

Mid Summer News

First up, I’m a very proud Australian Romance Reader Award finalist in two categories. Such a thrill!

My rural romance Heartland is up for Favourite Contemporary Romance and, much to my great honour, I’m up for Favourite Australian Romance Author. Winners will be announced at the awards dinner at Cello’s Restaurant, Castlereagh Hotel, Sydney on 22nd March. Tickets to this glittery, star-studded night can be booked through ARRA. Go on, you know you want to be there!

Sitting on the hall table, ready for posting, is a package containing the proof-read pages of Rocking Horse Hill. Which means the next time I see this manuscript, it won’t be looking like this:

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein first page proofs

It’ll be in book form with a shiny cover for me to stroke and feel gooey over. Rah!

Which brings me to a release date. Mark your calendars, cos Rocking Horse Hill is coming soon.

Release date for Rocking Horse Hill 23rd April 2014

Speaking of covers, it won’t be long and I’ll have one to show off. Newsletter subscribers score a look before anyone else. So if you want to be the first to see the cover and blurb, as well as catch up on other news, take a trip to my website and sign up.

Currently I’m well into my 2015 book, The Falls, which stars Teagan Bliss, a character from Rocking Horse Hill. This one is set in a gorgeous valley in New South Wales and features some “interesting” villagers, as well as a super sexy farrier hero and an evil cat. Great fun!

For those in the Mildura and Red Cliffs area, I’m coming your way. Just in time for Valentine’s Day too.

Promo for Mildura and Red Cliffs library talk

For more information, please visit the Mildura Rural City Council website.

My new website is nearing completion and should go live mid next month. I can’t wait. It’s so pretty!

Friday Feast is still on holidays but I’ve lined up some fantastic authors to kick the year off. Stay tuned for more on that. But if you’re looking for some recipes to try then don’t forget the recipe index is there for you to salivate over. Toblerone brownies, anyone?

And finally, a quick Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf update. I dropped another stroke off my handicap. I have no idea how or why, but it happened. The Great Golfing God is toying with me…

Till next time, stay cool (or warm!) and enjoy your Australia Day weekend. I know I will!

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Emmie Dark

One week until Christmas! Are your bells a-jingling in excitement? Mine are. Well, maybe not a-jingling but thanks to a fantastic writing month I’m feeling a tad seasonally happy and in the mood for celebration.

Before I introduce our gorgeous guest, here’s the Christmas edition of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf.  Last week was a team event. Everything that went wrong is all my partner’s fault. Me hitting into the water for the bazillionth time had nothing to do with it. Noooothing at all. Oh well, at least we didn’t come last.Romance author Emmie Dark

Now don your Santa hats and pour a glass of festive bubbly because it’s time to get seriously Christmassy with contemporary romance author Emmie Dark.

Emmie writes gorgeous stories, the sort that spark with snappy dialogue, steamy sexual tension and plenty of heart-tugging emotion. Earlier this year saw the release of Spellbound, a sizzling hot romance filled with angst, lust and a super hot hero. This week sees its companion novella Charmed hit the shelves. Check it out…

 

CHARMED

 

Cover of Charmed by Emmie DarkWhen a handsome and charming stranger reluctantly enters the magic shop where perky Melanie Cooke works as a psychic, she fully expects to give him a standard reading and send him on his way. But for the first time in her life, her powers fail her and the reading goes horribly awry.

Michael Harrison was dubious about the idea of seeing a psychic, but given the attraction between them, he’s prepared to put first impressions aside. Yet as he and Melanie get to know each other, Michael is forced to confront his past, and to face the fact that Melanie may be more than she seems.

Will fear and suspicion ruin all or will the magic and power of love keep them together? 

 

Doesn’t that sound fun? Lucky for you that Charmed is available for immediate download right now. You can purchase direct from the publisher Destiny Romance or your favourite ebook retailer like Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), Google Play, iTunes, JB Hi-Fi, BigW ebooks and more.

Ready for some Christmas fun? Heeeeeere’s Emmie!

 

Christmas Creativity

 

HI Cathryn and all Friday Feasters! Thanks so much for the invitation – it’s lovely to be here, especially to talk about food at this time of year. This time of year is my favourite foodie time – probably because it’s one of the few times of the year that I get to feed hordes. I properly plan menus and organise shopping lists – I do enjoy it! (But, if I’m honest, part of me is very glad that it only comes around once a year!)

I saw that Christina Brooke provided you with an ice cream Christmas cake a couple of weeks back, which, by the away, looks divine. I thought I’d do something similar – an icy Christmas treat, just perfect for a hot, sunny, Australian Christmas Day.

Have you ever looked at a photo in one of those gorgeous food magazines and been desperate to recreate it? Well, this was one of those times.

Delicious Magazine cover

Don’t they look great? And the recipe is SO simple. (I’m really not kidding!) Just grab some of your favourite vanilla ice cream and stir through some grated chocolate. From memory, I think we also added some chopped up pistachios and cranberries for an added Christmassy touch.

BUT… (You knew there’d be a catch, right?) There are a couple of little tricks.

But before I go into those, let me finish with the “recipe”. Once you have your ice cream with all its special treats folded through, you need to cut up squares of baking paper and twist them into long, narrow cones, and then stick them in place with a little sticky tape. Then you simply fill each cone with ice cream and return them to the freezer until you’re ready to serve.

SO EASY!

Ah, but here are the tricks. One, make sure you have enough room in your freezer. Something I didn’t plan, until we were already scooping ice cream into the paper cones was how on earth I was going to freeze them! Solution (thanks to my ever-logical mother) came from standing them up in champagne glasses! We needed to take a shelf out in the freezer to give ourselves enough room, though. And we all know at this time of year, fridge and freezer space is at a premium, so make sure you can fit them in.

And second – accept that it’s simply not going to look exactly like the picture.

Emmie Dark's Icecream Cones

If I make them again, I will do a better job of making sure the cones are completely filled, to avoid those little gaps. And I’d also try to do a better job of levelling off the tops, so that when you turn them out, they’re not quite so lopsided-y.

Emmie Dark's Christmas ice-cream cones

Having said that, they tasted absolutely delightful, and isn’t that what it’s all about in the end?

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

 

And a very merry Christmas to you too, Emmie! Thanks so much for this fabulous Christmas idea. Those icecreams look gorgeous, like decorations themselves and I bet they tasted delicious.

So, my clever Feasters, do you have a special Christmas trick? Something that looks amazing and impressive yet takes no time at all? I don’t so I’m in need of tips!!

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

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Nicole Flockton

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Winter is fully fledged now, so much so we’re halfway through the footy season with my darling Sydney Swans sitting very comfortably in 4th place on the AFL ladder, just ahead of those pesky Fremantle Dockers.Nicole Flockton author photo

Now, speaking of the Dockers, it’s my joy today to introduce one of their greatest fans, an ex-pat Aussie living in Texas who can’t let go of her footy-lovin’ roots. Nicole Flockton writes contemporary romances, moving from the sexy power of boardrooms and business, to equally drama-filled medical settings, with her latest, Rescuing Dawn firmly in the latter category. Check it out…

 

RESCUING DAWN

 

Cover of Rescuing Dawn by Nicole FlocktonHe helps save lives, now he wants to save hers.

Dawn Granger has loved and lost and it’s a road she’s not prepared to travel again, that is until her past turns up and has her questioning her resolve.

Andrew Holmes has sailed the globe numerous times, when he almost loses his life, he decides he needs to give something back so he returns home and trains as a paramedic. When he runs into his former sweetheart he is surprised to find an attraction he thought dead come to life. When he sees the sadness in Dawn he knows he will do anything to make her smile again.

Dawn tries to resist Andrew but their past pulls at her in ways she thought long dead. Can she trust a man who’s run out on her once before? Can she risk putting her heart on the line again? Or will it all be taken from her again.

 

Ooh, I adore a lovers reunited story and Rescuing Dawn sounds fabulously romantic. You can own a copy right now with just a few clickety-clicks on any of the following ebookstores: Kobo (most excellent sponsor of the 2013 Australian Romance Readers Convention), Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle) or iTunes.

All loaded? Marvellous. Now let Nicole warm you up!

 

 A Winter Delight

I’m thrilled to be part of Cathryn’s Friday Feast. After looking over the previous Feast posts I wondered what the heck I was going to talk about. You see I’m the world’s most basic cook. If I could get away with it I’d have the same thing every night. Actually when I was living by myself I would. I’d have a piece of meat (steak or chicken or lamb) some salad, pasta shells, broccoli and peas. I figured the whole meat and vege deal was a good healthy meal. Not to mention it was easy and after a day at work I was all about easy.

But now I’m a mum and wife so I need to get creative. Well I said I need to get creative doesn’t mean I do! My poor husband puts up with very boring fare. LOL

Now that I’m a published author I find I get caught either doing work work, or writing and it’s four o’clock and I haven’t thought about dinner! Some days I pull out my favourite little appliance – the Crock Pot! When my son walks in and sees it he’s all excited that I’m cooking his ‘favourite’ meal.

So seeing as it’s winter in Australia, I thought I’d share my favourite Crock Pot recipe. It’s actually an adaptation of a recipe that I got from Jamie Oliver for Lamb Shanks. All my measurements are extremely accurate (not) I guestimate most of the time :-). So here it is, “Zane’s Crock Pot Delight!”

 

Zane’s Crock Pot Delight

1-2kg of diced meat or 3 lamb shanks.

1 can of diced tomatoesNicole Flockton's Crock Pot

2 carrots chopped

4 celery sticks chopped

Splash of Balsamic Vinegar

¼ cup of water

¼ cooking wine

A few sprinkles of paprika, chilli powder, ground cumin

Any other spices you may like!

Put everything into the pot and cook on low for 6-7hrs

So there you have it. It really is a recipe where you can adjust the measurements to your liking. I’ll boil up some rice and serve it up with some crusty bread. Nice and warm on a cold winters night!

Do you have a favourite winter meal?

 

Ahh, the good old slow cooker, a saviour of many working folk, and this recipe looks a beauty, Nicole. Lamb shanks would have to be one of the most satisfying winter meats. All that sticky meat, cooked long and slow so it falls sweetly off the bone. Sigh. One could almost compose an ode to their joys.

So, Feasters, hit us with your winter wonders. I know you have them. Delicious comfort foods just made for warming the soul when the weather is bad. Lamb shanks are a firm favourite in the Hein household but we’re also rather partial to a good beefy casserole like boeuf bourguignon or beef cooked in beer (oh, how I love that!). Oops, just made myself a bit drool-y, but I’m sure you have plenty more mouth-watering dishes to tempt us, so share away!

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