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FRIDAY FEAST with Whitney K.E.

It’s winter in Australia, which means, at least for the Hein household, lots of comfort food, red wine and that magnificent Irish gift to the world, Guinness. Oh, and football. (Can I mention here that my beloved Sydney Swans are perched very nicely in 4th on the AFL ladder?)

But back to the Emerald Isle…Author Whitney K.E.

My guest today is young Australian romance author Whitney K.E. whose debut release What Happens In Ireland hit the virtual shelves only a few short weeks ago and has been amassing glowing reviews since. If you’re a sucker for romances featuring sexy, lilting-accented Irishmen and strong Aussie women, you’ll love Whitney’s Irish-set romances. Note the plural. Yes, there are more to come. In fact, in what will be exciting news for her new fans, I’ve discovered that Whitney has a whole series of Irish Hearts novels planned.

But first, take a look at What Happens In Ireland.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IN IRELAND

 

What Happens In Ireland by Whitney K.E. coverEver wondered what happens in Ireland?

When Australian, Kate Barrow, meets a handsome Irishman in a Dublin bar, she has no idea that he’s about to turn her world upside-down and inside-out.

In Ireland to take on a position on a thoroughbred stud, Kate is shocked when her manager-in-co reveals himself to be the same man she’d met in Dublin.

Jack is drawn to Kate. The problem is, she won’t have him. But Jack has always loved a challenge and the intriguing woman from Oz is one he cannot resist.

Harbouring the sting of another man’s betrayal, Kate is certain she wants nothing to do with love and nothing to do with Jack O’Reilly. But when naked torsos, Mother Nature and dysfunctional umbrellas start plotting against her resolve, she realizes the charms of an Irishman are going to be hard to resist.

Unashamedly romantic and sentimental in parts, hot and steamy in others…I have no hesitation at all in recommending this novel to readers of romance fiction. And in particular, to readers of romance who love Ireland…’ – Maria Mohan

 

You can own What Happens In Ireland right now with just a couple of clickety-clicks. Download now from most excellent ARRC 13 Gold Sponsor Kobo, or try iTunes, Amazon (for Kindle), Bookstrand, All Romance Ebooks, Smashwords, or buy direct from the publisher Secret Cravings.

Now, please welcome Whitney.

 

Butter Me Up!

 

Hi Cathryn! Thank for having me. Now, I have a confession. I’m not the world’s most talented cook, which makes me wonder why on earth I chose to write about cooking, haha. I’m not afraid to admit that my skills in the kitchen are quite basic, but if I were to blame it on anything, it would be my genes. My mother manages to burn everything she bakes (apparently because she likes the taste, haha) and ‘from-scratch’? I think my sisters and I all agree that we preferred she didn’t try her hand at it 😛

And like myself, my heroine Kate proves herself to not be much of a cook. Secretly, I think it is because my muse prefers to see her heroes shirtless and leaning over the stove as they make something delicious whilst tantalizing my heroines visually as well, haha.

But, I guess I’m not completely hopeless. I have mastered a few recipes, though I can’t say my presentation skills are all that great. 🙂 I like to make sweets (though rarely get a chance to make them). And my favourite and one sweet that is always incorporated into my Christmas hamper that I make for the family lunch, is peanut butter balls. I love peanut butter. And with a drizzle of chocolate, you can’t go wrong. And what’s more, they are quick and easy for the under-skilled cook!

So here’s my recipe 🙂

 

Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:

1 cup of Peanut Butter (crunch or smooth, you take your pick J)

2 cups of icing sugar

6 teaspoons of softened butter

250gs of cooking chocolate (I prefer dark as the peanut butter is quite sweet) for drizzling!

Easy-peasy instructions:

So first, you want to soften the butter by placing it in the microwave for around 20 seconds.

Next, you mix the butter, icing sugar and peanut butter in a bowl until it forms a nice mixture that you can roll into balls. This is where the taste testing comes in. I tend to experiment a little with the sugar and peanut butter here, depending on how sweet I want the mixture to be.

Next, you spoon out the mixture and roll it into small balls and place them on a tray lined with baking paper (saves all that washing :P) and place them in the fridge to set. I’d give them 20 minutes (enough time for you to check my facebook :P) just to be on the safe side, but you want them to be hard enough that they don’t stick to your fingers.

And now for all you chocolate lovers, you melt the cooking chocolate via placing a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. Once it’s melted, you can drizzle the peanut butter balls in the chocolate and ta-da! Once the chocolate is set, you have an easy treat!

You can also add Rice Bubbles to the mixture if you are looking for a crunchy texture, or even coat the peanut butter balls in some nuts or other bits. 🙂

Again, a big thanks to Cathryn for having me today! It was a pleasure and I’m having fun looking at some of the recipes other authors have place on here. Might have to try refine my cooking skills 🙂

 

Ooh, they sound very naughty, Whitney. But oh-so-perfect to snack on while reading about your sexy Irishman. An excellent and easy thing to whip up for a morning tea or as a gift too.

So, my lovely Feasters, any Irish tales out there? Have you kissed the Blarney Stone? (I have!) Get a bit wobbly the moment you hear a sexy lilting accent? Love a big dollop of colcannon?

I had a ball in Ireland. Spent a week with my girlfriend and her Irish friend hooning around in a borrowed car, freeloading with anyone who’d put us up. I still can’t get over the generosity of the people we met. Wonderful, wonderful country, and beautiful too. Really must go back one day. In the meantime, I’ll have to satisfy myself with Whitney’s What Happens In Ireland!

If you’d like to learn more about Whitney K.E. and her books, please visit her blog. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Eleni Konstantine

Ahh, Fridays. I just adore them. After a big week writing there’s something completely satisfying about turning my brain (and belly) to some feasty goodness. And what feasty goodness we have in store!EleniK

This week I’m absolutely delighted to introduce a new guest to Friday Feast. Adelaide writer Eleni Konstantine is not only a talented author and designer, she’s also a total sweetheart. But if her paranormal and fantasy romances are anything to go by, it appears she also harbours a deep dark side. Probably developed form all those wonderful fairytales her mother gave her when she was young, along with her great love for Greek mythology.

Eleni’s latest release is Sealed With A Kiss. Take a look.

 

SEALED WTH A KISS

 

SealedwithAKiss_smCan a gift from her grandmother protect Lise? 

Lise doesn’t believe in vampires. Or so she tells herself. Though, she constantly wears the garnet necklace her grandmother gave her, which wards off the creatures. Andreas, the man she’s attracted to, seems more than a little interested in it. Could there be an ulterior motive?

Intrigued? I am! Thanks to the joy of ebooks, you could have your own copy with just a quick clickety-click. Visit Smashwords where you can download a file for any ereader format, from Kindle to Kobo to your iPad, and others. You can even read it on your computer. Easy!

 

And now, prepare your tastebuds for Eleni.

 

 

Mana’s Pastitio

I love food. Seriously. I’m not one of these people who only views it as substance. After all, why does food taste so good if this was to be the case?! Lucky for me, food is paramount in the culture I grew up in. And I have a mum (mana or mama in Greek) who loves to cook and experiment as well. Lucky me!

But today, I’m going to bring you one of the traditional dishes I grew up with.

Pastitio.

What is pastitio? It’s Greek and is sort of like a mousaka but instead of putting potato and eggplant (aubergine), you have pasta.

There are three layers traditionally

  1. Pasta – bottom layer
  2. Mince sauce
  3. Béchamel sauce (white sauce) – top

But we mix up the bottom two layers.

You will find variations on the web, but this is the one that always makes my mouth water no matter what. I had to pin my mum down for this as she does this off the cuff and changes according to the size of the casserole dish.

The following is for a dish 30cm x 40cm

pastitio

Ingredients

  • 500gm pasta of your choice. We usually go for penne as it mixes with the mince layer really well. Fat spaghetti is lovely as well.
  • 7 eggs  (3 egg whites, lightly beaten for mince/pasta layer; the remainder egg yellows will go in the béchamel  (white) sauce) and 4 eggs in béchamel sauce.
  • 7 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons melted salted butter
  • 250gms (1 cup) of cornflour
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • grated dried ricotta cheese or Parmesan (to sprinkle on top of the white sauce)
  • 800-1kg mince – we usually do a mixture of Pork and Beef. But you can really have what you like.
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion (whatever type) – grated
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomato (or you can put the ready made pasta sauce instead of the diced tomato and tomato paste)
  • ½ cup chopped parsley (continental)
  • 1- 1½ cups water
  • 7 heaped tablespoons corn flour
  • 8 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or dried ricotta cheese (or a mixture of both)

The mince layer

–          Heat up oil and fry up mince until brown.

–          Add onion and stir

–          Add tomato paste and diced tomato. Stir

–          Add ¾ teaspoon nutmeg.

–          Add salt and pepper to taste.

–          Add chopped parsley

–          Stir until there is little to no liquid left.

–          Take off heat and put to side.

The Pasta layer

–          boil the pasta so it’s al dente. Tip 1: add a few drops of extra virgin olive oil;  Tip 2: when you add the pasta, add some salt to taste.

–          strain pasta

Combining layers

–          Mix the meat sauce and the pasta together.

–          Add the 7 tablespoons of the cheese(s)

–          Add  3 lightly beaten egg whites into mixture and stir.

–          Butter or oil a casserole dish (we use Pyrex) before use.

–          Pour mixture above into casserole dish and flatten out to cover the bottom of the dish.

–          Leave for 10 minutes (basically leave when making the White Sauce)

White sauce

–          Place 6 cups of milk, a pinch of white pepper, ¼ teaspoon with melted butter into saucepan to boil.

–          As this is heating, add into a bowl, the remainder eggs (4 whole + 3 yellows), 1 cup of milk and corn flour and whisk until the corn flour is absorbed.

–          Add the bowl’s ingredients into the saucepan and stir until the milk froths.

–          If there  are lumps in your white sauce, you can sift it through to make it more smooth.

–          Add white sauce to the casserole dish. Spread out.

The Finish

–          Add some dried grated ricotta cheese or Parmesan cheese to top of mixture

–          Put in oven at 180 Celsius(356 Fahrenheit) for an hour.

–          Let it rest for 10 minutes when you take it out of the oven.

–          Cut into how large you want your pieces to be, and serve.

–          A Greek village salad makes a good side dish.

 

Thanks, Eleni, for sharing this wonderful family dish. I’m a huge fan of Greek food and will definitely being giving this one a go. It’ll be perfect for a wintery night snuggle-in.

Now, my lovely Feasters, is there a dish or a food that you go back to again and again? Eleni would love to know. In fact, she’d love to know so much that she’s giving away an ebook copy of Sealed With A Kiss to one lucky commenter.

My go-to food is a fresh rice noodle dish made with chilli bean paste and pork that I adapted from a Neil Perry recipe that was featured in a Gourmet Traveller several years back. It’s hot, healthy, fast and luscious to eat. A household favourite.

So share away and you could win yourself a short tasty read!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 21st May 2013. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about Eleni and her stories, please visit her website. You can also connect via her Eleni’s Taverna blog.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Jenny who has won a copy of Eleni’s Sealed With A Kiss. Thanks to all who visited and left comments. Always lovely to see you. Hope you all enjoy your pastitio!

FRIDAY FEAST with Anna Campbell

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It’s always a joy to have Anna Campbell on Friday Feast. Not only is she wonderfully talented she’s a lovely lady and a very generous author.Anna Campbell 43970006

I call Anna my Romance Queen and while the title may be tongue in cheek, it’s not without genuine merit. Last month, Anna won five Australian Romance Readers Awards. Five! She’s also won or been a finalist in awards as prestigious as the Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year, Romantic Times Readers Choice Awards and the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards. And for four years running, Anna has been voted ARRA’s Favourite Australian Romance Author.

I bow to thee, my queen!

Anna’s latest release is as lush and emotional as all her others. Take a look.

 

THESE HAUNTED HEARTS:

 

A REGENCY GHOST ROMANCE

 

 

THH low resOn one fateful wedding day at Marston Hall in 1818, four linked destinies hover in the balance.

Josiah Aston, Earl of Stansfield, wakes to discover he’s seventy years dead and he alone can free his beloved wife Isabella’s tormented soul. But first he must convince her to trust him against all the evidence…

Lady Isabella Verney, beautiful and tempestuous, married the man of her dreams, only to die violently on her wedding day. Every clue points to Josiah as the murderer…

Is true love strong enough to defeat ancient malevolence forever?

Miles Hartley, Viscount Kendall, is society’s ideal catch, but what does that matter if he can’t convince Calista Aston that he loves her? When an age-old curse strikes, only by proving himself worthy of her faith can he save their happiness…

Lady Calista Aston, noted bluestocking, fears she loves Miles Hartley not wisely, but too well. On her wedding day, her doubts place her at evil’s mercy. When death and disaster loom, is it courage or mad folly to believe that Miles loves her in spite of all her faults?

On one fateful wedding day at Marston Hall in 1818, will the lovers emerge triumphant or will darkness conquer all?

 

 

Ooh, a ghost story. Right up my alley. I bet it’s right up yours too, so why not do some clickety-click buying while you’re here? Or read an excerpt and then buy. Haunted Hearts is available now direct from Amazon for your Kindle and Smashwords for all ereaders and tablets. It’s bargain priced too. Only $1-99, so no excuse for holding back. I haven’t.

Book buying complete? Excellent. Now all hail the queen!

 

Chinese Food at the Wedding?

 

Hi Cathryn! Thank you for having me as your guest at your Friday Feast! As you know, I love your blog and the Friday Feasts are the icing on the (wedding) cake.

Hmm, am I being deliberately obscure? I think I might be. Although I imagine Chinese people will look at that title and go, “Yeah, we have Chinese food at weddings. What’s so special about that?”

Let me make myself clearer!

I’ve got a new e-novella out right now, an extended version of a story that first appeared in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE in June last year. THESE HAUNTED HEARTS features two romances for the price of one, Calke Abbey bednot to mention a cursed Chinese bed based on the Great Bed at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. Like the bed in THH, this bed was an 18th century royal gift stored in pieces in the cellars of a stately home. Like the bed in THH, this bed is hung with priceless silk embroideries. Unlike the bed in THH, the Great Bed at Calke doesn’t curse any bride who sleeps in it to a violent death (or not as far as I know!).

As you can imagine, within the space of a novella, and with two couples to sort out, not to mention numerous baleful supernatural influences to vanquish, nobody really has time to sit around and nosh. But given that this story is based around two weddings, I thought I’d talk about wedding cakes today.

I’m actually un-Australian. I hate fruitcake. Which means Aussie wedding cake isn’t my favourite thing. On the other hand, some U.S. friends made me an American wedding cake when I visited in 2007. This is basically a butter cake with yummy butter icing. Yup, that’s the one for me. Until recently, I had no idea that American wedding cakes were different from the traditional English/Australian version. I thought Cathryn’s food-mad readers might be interested in seeing a recipe for one.

As a proviso, I’ve never made American wedding cake, but I found what looks like a good recipe on The Wedding Information Site. I’ve adapted this recipe to my own taste (meaning the Chinese bed has cursed any mentions of that abomination margarine to oblivion!).

You can keep the decorations on your American Wedding Cake simple by adding fresh or silk flowers. Or you can decorate it by adding twisting garlands of roses and leaves made from royal icing or sugar paste. This recipe will make three round or square cakes 28cm, 20cm and 12.5cm. This size will serve approximately 80 people depending on how you cut it.

 

American Wedding Cake

wedding cakes 2

Ingredients:

600g butter
600g of caster sugar
12 eggs
600g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1-2 tablespoons cold water
450-550g raspberry or apricot jam
Vanilla Butter Cream:

The secret to making a good buttercream frosting is to beat it long enough to incorporate and dissolve all the ingredients into the butter, creating a fluffy and creamy texture. Soften the butter to room temperature for at least 3 to 4 hours for best results. Don’t use melted butter as this just creates a sloppy mess.

2 cups of salted softened butter

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 cups of sifted icing sugar

12 tablespoons of heavy cream

Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter until it becomes light and fluffy (can take over 5 minutes to achieve). Stop the mixer often to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add the vanilla extract and 1 cup of icing sugar and continue to beat for 2 minutes.

Alternately add the remaining icing sugar and 4 tablespoons of cream and beat very well.

Once you have the desired consistency, continue to beat the frosting for 5 minutes more until it is very fluffy.

As you use the frosting you may have to add the remaining 4 tablespoons of cream to keep the consistency smooth.

The Cake:

Grease and line three round or square deep cake tins 28cm, 20cm, 12.5cm.

Cream butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy and pale in colour (this can take up to 5 minutes or more of beating).

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, following each with a spoonful of flour.

Sift the remaining flour and fold into the mixture with water.

wedding cakes 3Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake in a moderate oven (180C). Allow about 40 minutes for the small tin, 1 hour 10 minutes for the middle size and about 1.5 hours for the larger cake, or until they are well risen and firm to the touch.

Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Split each of the cakes into three layers and sandwich back together with the jam.

Place the two smaller cakes onto thin silver boards to same size as the cake and the bottom tier on a lager silver cake board.

Brush off any loose crumbs from the cake. Use part of the butter cream icing to cover each cake.

Position the cakes on top of each other and smooth the butter cream as much as possible using a hot wet palette knife if necessary.

Decorate the cake as you wish with hand made decorations, silk or fresh flowers.

 

So are you a fan of wedding cakes? What sort of cake did you have at your wedding? Or if you’re not married, what sort of cake would you like? Can you convert me to the joys of margarine? Hmm, think I might know the answer to that one. I’ve got a download of THESE HAUNTED HEARTS: A REGENCY GHOST ROMANCE for someone who comments today!

 

You had me at that frosting, Anna. It’s as luscious as one of your books! And I am so, so with you on the butter front. Margarine is awful stuff and, as we all know, butter tastes better.

So get a-commenting, Feasters, and reveal your wedding cake stories. There’s a faaaabulous prize up for grabs!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 2nd April 2013. Open internationally. Whoop!

If you’d like to learn more about Anna her wonderful, wonderful books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter. Anna can also be found regularly blogging at Romance Bandits.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Cheryl who has won herself an ebook copy of Anna’s wonderful new novella, These Haunted Hearts. Thanks to all who took the time to comment. Hope to see you again soon.