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Halloween Temptation

Happy Halloween! Have I ever posted my very favorite pumpkin recipe? Does it matter? Here it is. Again. Or for the first time. I can’t be trusted to remember.

MAPLE PUMPKIN PIE

1 can Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup heavy cream

3 eggs

1 TBSP flour (though I’m wheat free – so I sub in a tablespoon of arrowroot with no problem or even just leave it out)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp maple extract (or maple flavor)

Mix it all up, put it in a pie crust or in custard dishes, bake at 350 until set (a pie take about 50 minutes, start checking small custard dishes at about 25 minutes). Cool. Serve with loads of whipped cream.

You can make this lower fat and lower calorie. Substitute low fat evaporated milk for the cream and something like Egg Beaters for the 3 eggs. It won’t be as velvety as the original, but it’s still awfully tasty.

What are your Halloween favorites? I’m always looking for more temptation!

Mighty Chia Pudding Parfait

I am not much of a cook. Mostly I chop vegetables for salads or stir fries or to “warm them up” in the oven. However of the last couple of months I have become a little bit more daring and it is due to a fabulous cookbook: The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Lidden. It is a vegan cookbook, but all the recipes are easy to follow and most of the ingredients are in your cupboard. One of my new favourites is the

Mighty Chia Pudding Parfait:

3 tablespoons (45ml) chia seeds

1 cup (250ml) non-dairy milk (almond or coconut are my favourite)

1/2 teaspoon (2ml) pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons (7-15ml) maple syrup or agave nectar to taste

fresh fruit, whatever is in season or to your liking

1. In a medium bowl whisk together chia seeds, milk, vanilla extract and syrup. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours to thicken.

2. Serve the chilled pudding in glasses alternating with layers of fresh fruit and/or granola. You can also add ice cream to the mix.

As you can see super-easy and very quick prep-time. Then you pop it in the fridge and pick it up whenever you fancy something sweet.

Do you have a favourite summer desert?

Master Class by Cassandra Carr or Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

Is it Saturday already?! Seriously? Bummer, I fell asleep at the blogging wheel. Sorry!

I’m not really much of a cook and I definitely don’t bake. When I saw the theme for the two weeks before Christmas I had a slight panic attack and then send out a cry for help. The wonderful and fabulous Cassandra Carr answered.

I give you Cassandra Carr and her Chocolate No-Bake Cookies:)

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar (less can be used and they still taste fine, just a little more cocoa-y and less sweet; can also use sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (grease the measuring container so the peanut butter doesn’t stick to it)
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 cups quick oats
Put milk, butter, sugar, vanilla, peanut butter, and cocoa into a large saucepan. Heat and stir often as until butter melts and liquid is smooth. Continue heating to firm ball stage (when you dribble a bit of the mixture into cold water and it doesn’t disintegrate you’ve got it). Remove from heat and add oats. Drop until wax paper and chill until cookies firm.
Can I just say that even I may try this recipe. I love the idea that I don’t have to bake these cookies;).
Cassandra’s latest book is a scorchingly sexy BDSM story. The cookies might not need it, but Master Class definitely generates enough heat to make things sizzle.
Ryan Tomasi feels like a failure. His marriage is officially over; the ink dried on the divorce decree. His friend Jack introduces him to BDSM and he agrees to attend a Halloween party at a club. A submissive approaches him, offering herself, and how can he refuse the kneeling beauty? They do a whirlwind scene and Ryan is addicted—both to dominance and to her.
Lisette Rinaldo is returning to the BDSM club for the first time since ending a bad relationship with her former master. She spots Ryan and is taken by the combination of self-assurance and nervousness the man displays as he takes in his surroundings. And after he gives her an incredible re-introduction to the lifestyle, she knows she needs to see the man again.
Ryan and Lisette explore each other and the lifestyle, but what started out as playtime quickly evolves into something more. The problem? Ryan isn’t ready to get serious again and Lisette doesn’t want to fall in love with a guy who can’t give all of himself to her. Both of them are going to have to break out of the bonds holding them back from happiness.
You can buy Master Class form Loose Id or amazon.
You can find Cassandra’s website here and follow her on twitter here.
Happy Holidays!

Tina Christopher Writer of Sexy Steampunk and Sensuous Sci-Fi available at Ellora’s Cave and Amazon.

Christmas Recipes: Cranberry Cake

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I love Christmas. I love buying presents and seeing my children’s eyes light up. I could do without the endless TV adverts, but that’s what the mute button is for, right? 😀

Christmas is also an excuse for me to roll out all my cranberry recipes. I love cranberries. I love the colour, the smell, the taste and will add them to every thing going, be that drinks, dinner sauces or desserts. So today I’m sharing a recipe I found last year for a Cranberry Upside Down Cake that makes a great centrepiece alternative to Christmas Pudding (a good thing since I’m very allergic to nuts) and it serves up to 12 people, so it’s good for big get-togethers!

cranberry-cakeIngredients

  • 110g butter
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 350g fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 110g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 175ml soured cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Generously grease a 23cm springform cake tin. Wrap aluminium foil around the outside of the bottom to prevent leaking.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 300g caster sugar, water and cinnamon until sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and then add the cranberries. Stir to coat with the sauce, then pour into the prepared tin.
  3. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter with 100g caster sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and soured cream. Mix in the dry ingredients. Pour the mixture over the cranberries in the tin.
  4. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the outer edge. Invert onto a serving plate and remove the springform tin.

I tend to hold back a little of the sauce and then brush the cake once it’s cooled just to give it a fresh, glazed look. I’ve also halved the ingredients and made separate servings in ramkin bowls. Happy Christmas!


Misa Buckley is a sci fi geek who escapes the crazy of raising five children by creating imaginary characters who experience adventure, romance and really hot sex on their way to a happily-ever-after. You can keep up to date with Misa’s latest news by following her on Twitter or at her website.

Let it Snow – and Let Us Eat!

Happy holidays! We hope you’re all enjoying the festive season and aren’t too overwhelmed by shopping and family obligations. We thought we’d share two easy-peasy holiday recipes that are favourites in our households. Both these recipes can also be found in Passionate Cooks, a free cookbook from All Romance.

Scottish Shortbread

Using a food processor (Cuisinart, Kitchen Aid) makes this recipe very simple.

Preheat oven to 275F.

1/2 pound butter at room temperature
1/2 cup fruit sugar (or grind up regular sugar in processor)
1/2 cup rice flour
2 cups cake and pastry flour

If using normal sugar, grind it in processor to make it fine. Add butter and cream with sugar until smooth and light. Add rice and pastry flour. Dough should form into a ball in processor. Press into a greased square glass cooking dish (medium sized – 9 inches or so).

Cook for one hour or until bottom is lightly browned (lift up glass dish to check). Do not overcook! Cool and cut into squares. It’s best to cut when the shortbread is still a bit warm – not too hot, not too cold.

The secret ingredient is butter

The secret ingredient is butter

Sweet Embrace Potatoes

1 large can sweet potatoes in syrup (drained)
¾ stick melted butter
2 eggs
1 c sugar
1 c milk
2 tbs corn starch
cinnamon to taste

Dissolve cornstarch in a little of the milk to make it mix easily.  Beat all of the above ingredients with mixer until well blended. Pour in casserole and bake 22 minutes at 375 degrees.

Topping for casserole

1 c crushed cornflakes
1 c coconut flakes
½ c brown sugar
¾ c butter
½ nuts (chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, almond flakes)

Mix topping ingredients over low heat.  Spread over partially cooked sweet potato mixture.  Return to oven for 20 minutes.

Sweet Embrace Potatoes

Enjoy! We wish health and happiness to you and yours.

p.s. Come on over to Long and Short Reviews for another holiday recipe and a chance to win a copy of my m/m Hanukkah romance Eight Nights!

Keira Andrewsand Leta Blake write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Earthly Desires, the first book in the series, available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.

Moravian Christmas Cookies

This may surprise some of you, but I am a CHRISTMAS NUT.

Nope, not religious. I’m talking the whole tacky ornament, Santa loving, Grinch adoring, stockings-and-ugly-sweaters kind of Christmas nut.

I ADORE Christmas. I love getting together with my family, giving them the most fabulous presents I can come up with, eating, cooking, laughing, and sneaking around playing Santa.

When I was little, my parents had to make a rule for me. We couldn’t open presents until 5:30am. That didn’t stop me getting up at 1:00, 2:30, 3:25, and 4:59.

Yeah. This is a lifelong condition.

So, it is with a sense of great jubilation that I share with you my single favorite Christmas cookie recipe.

OMNOMNOMNOM

OMNOMNOMNOM

 

Warning: These cookies taste like you just jammed a sleigh-full of delicious and spice into your mouth. Also, one batch makes about a trillion cookies. But, good news. The batter can stay refrigerated for up to two MONTHS. (not a typo.) Yay for liquor-laced cookie dough!!!

And, without further ado…

 

MORAVIAN CHRISTMAS COOKIES

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups Shortening

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed Dark Brown Sugar

A five pound bag of flour (you won’t use all this in the dough, but you will need the vast majority by the time you’re done. Think of the rolling out. These cookies are a commitment, but it’s like marrying an ancient billionaire. Pain in the hoo-ha for the short term, but CRAZY AWESOME later!!)

4 cups of Molasses

3/4 cup Brandy

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 tablespoons Milk

1 teaspoon White Vinegar

2 tablespoons Cinnamon

2 tablespoons Nutmeg

2 tablespoons Cloves

1 tablespoon Ginger

 

Directions, in case you’re not scared enough now. IT’S WORTH IT!!

 

In a big bowl, mix together shortening, brown sugar, and 3 cups flour. Add molasses and brandy. In a separate bowl, dissolve baking soda in milk and mix in vinegar. Add to molasses batter with all the assorted spices. Now here’s where it becomes a workout. Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Your arms will be exhausted, and you may give up too soon. That is okay. Refrigerate at least overnight, but up to two months! Liquorrrrrrrrrrrrrr. 🙂

When you’re ready to bake, let a chunk of the dough come up to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. If your oven runs hot, you may want to knock it down to 260. You know your oven. I don’t. Moving on!

On a floured board roll out dough to 1/8 of an inch thick. If too sticky, add more flour. If too dry, add more dough. Cut 3 inch cookies. I recommend using parchment paper on your baking sheets, also, btw. Bake them for ten minutes total, the first five on the bottom rack, and the last five on the top rack. Remove and cool.

 

These cookies will turn you into a bakery, but they make your house smell of nutmeg and cinnamon and ginger and cloves. AMAZEBALLS. And the taste? They’re much better the next day. The spices ping your tongue. Yeah, so they’re a lot of work. Yeah, so they have about seventeen ingredients. THEY ARE SO WORTH IT.

 

Christmas is a commitment, people. Your December 25th can be just like every other day of your life, or it can be special. MINE WILL BE SPECIAL, DAMMIT!!

 

*omnomnomnomnomnom*

 

 

 

 

Mexican Eggrolls for the Holidays? You bet!

Sexy athleteThere is absolutely nothing holiday-ish about this photo. Still, when I saw him, I knew my fellow MANhandlers would appreciate his…ball. It’s clearly the focus of the photo, yes? I’m suddenly nostalgic for my days in the soccer keep. I was quite good, you know–recruited for the Miss Budweiser Ladies’ Traveling Team. But that’s another tale for another time. Ogle away while I get the recipe you need for the holidays.

So, every year we have this tradition that we do a predictable holiday meal for Christmas, but for New Year’s Eve, we do a huge Mexican food feast. It was easier to pull this off when we lived in New Mexico (the South simply doesn’t understand tamales or green chili that is not a bell pepper). We are a diligent and resourceful lot, though, and we make it work. The recipe below is ridonkulously simple, clearly unhealthy and guaranteed to taste good. We lean on the latter and ignore the middle altogether for this one night every year.

—————————————————
Mexican Eggrolls

2 lbs lean ground beef
1 clove of garlic, minced (more if you’re fending off the undead)
1 white onion, chopped (less if you intend to kiss your sweetheart)
1 can chopped green chilies (use two if you’re a chili addict and don’t forget to pick out the skins)
1 large bag sharp cheddar (large means the BIG bag)
2 packages eggroll wrappers
1 bag frozen potatoes OPTIONAL  (like O’Brien potatoes but without the peppers–trust me on this)
Salsa
Small bowl of water
Oil for frying

Heat the oil.

Brown ground beef with garlic, onion and green chilies in a deep pan. (I add the green chilies when the meat’s almost done and use the spoon to spread it around and pick out the skins.) Drain grease off meat and put back in the pan.

Fry potatoes. Drain them well and pat excess grease off with paper towels. (Seems pointless, but trust me. Too much grease is just too much grease.) Keep grease hot.

Add the bag of cheese to the meat and turn the heat on low. Stir it in and make sure it melts well. The meat should stick together really well.

Add the potatoes and mix in.

With on corner of the eggroll wrapper facing you, add a small spoonful of the meat mix. Dip your fingers in the water and trace the edges of the wrapper. Fold the nearest point over the meat, fold the outside corners in and roll. (It’s very important to make sure you get the seams sealed, but don’t mash them. Eggroll wrappers are temperamental and tend to tear out of spite. It’s true. I swear.) Set aside. Repeat the process until you’re out of wrappers, meat or alcohol.

Fry your eggrolls until they’re golden brown. (Usually takes a minute or so.) Remove and drain on a paper towel.

Suggestion: Have someone fry while you roll. It makes things much, much easier because the eggroll wrappers tend to stick to the counter as you set them aside.

Serve with salsa and enjoy! (Really, though? They don’t need it.)
—————————————————

There you have it, my faithful readers — a Tompkins tradition since 1948. Okay, that’s a lie. We started this around 1995. But traditions sound better if they’re older. You’re going to thank me. Your hips will curse my name, but the belleh will be happeh.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, happy holiday season and prosperous New Year full of wonderful new reads. And Mexican Eggrolls.

Maple Pumpkin Pie

I’m evil. I freely admit this. Thus, I gleefully bring you one of my family’s favorite recipes for the season. This came from Bon Appetit Magazine (when they were – you know – still actually a magazine and not a memory).

Maple Pumpkin Pie

  • One can of plain solid pack pumpkin (not pie mix)
  • 1 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup real maple syrup

Mix the dry ingredients into the pumpkin, then mix in the liquids. Pour into pie shells and bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean about 35-40 minutes. (This will depend entirely one whether you’re using 8″ shells, 9″ shells, deep dish, etc – this part is art rather than science.) Serve with whipped cream slightly sweetened with maple syrup. OPTION: I like cloves in my pumpkin pie. Hubby does not. The recipe doesn’t call for them, but when I make a batch for me, I add a scant 1/8 tsp of cloves.

This pie is slightly less sweet than other pumpkin pies you’ve had. But rich? Oh my, yes. Quite a diet bomb. I make it to recipe once a year for Thanksgiving dinner. The rest of the time, I modify it to accommodate the dieting members of the household. Here’s the ‘not such a diet bomb’ version:

  • 1 can of plain, solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • 3/4 cup of Egg Beaters or other egg substitute
  • 1 cup lowfat or fatfree evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup real maple syrup

Since pie shells are a huge fat hit, we forgo crusts altogether. Pour the batter into ramekins, place ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake at 350. These will take no more than 20 minutes or so, depending on the size of the dishes. The custard will puff up. Jiggle the cookie sheet. If there’s no liquid motion to the custard, begin checking with toothpicks for doneness.

This recipe can also sub in evaporated goat’s milk (Meyenberg is the brand I see in stores) if someone has milk sensitivity. This lower fat/no fat version of the custard won’t be as smooth and velvety as the original recipe, but it is still very tasty and the calorie hit is no where near whallop. If you want to reduce the sugar rush, use 1/2 a cup of egg substitute and one real egg. Use lowfat rather than fat free evaporated milk. The fat helps mitigate sugar absorption a touch. While maple syrup is a far less refined product that white sugar, it is still sugar – it will just hit your system a little bit slower when buffered by the fiber in the pumpkin and the fat in the egg and milk.

If, like me, the whole point of having pumpkin pie or pumpkin custard (as we call the crustless version) is to put whipped cream on top, try lowfat vanilla yogurt as a lower calorie stand in. I won’t lie. It’s not the same. But it’s not bad.

Image source: http://blogs.library.jhu.edu/wordpress/?m=200811

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