Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quick Holiday Cookie Recipe- Bring out the Spritz!

Spritz cookies are a new tradition in our house.  My husband's mother made them while he was growing up and he loved them. So, I've started the tradition with our kids.   

Spritz cookies are a delicate butter cookie that look like you've spent a lot of time making them when they are actually quite easy. The kids love decorating these cookies, especially when they get to put their little fingers in the colored sugar and sprinkle on as much as they'd like!

Here is a quick recipe for Spritz cookies.  You will need to purchase a Spritz cookie press to make these cookies.  The press is inexpensive and found in department stores around the holidays.

The picture below shows the press I use, and the fact that, although made yesterday, 3 dozen spritz cookies disappear in my house!

Basic Buttery Spritz Cookie
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. almond extract

Cream the butter and sugar and egg.  Add remaining ingredients. Scrape down sides and roll dough into a log that will fit inside the tube of the cookie press.  If the dough is too soft (very sticky) you can chill it for up to 30 minutes.  However, I've found that chilling makes it hard to press the dough out of the cookie press.

Choose the disk for the shape you want and press out the cookies 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with different colored sugars or other decorator sweets.

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should not brown.  Transfer to wire rack to cool and ENJOY!

By the way, these are great cookies to share with Santa on Christmas eve!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Author Gretchen McNeil DIshes On Meatballs, Bourdain and the Allure of Salty-Sweet

Today I want to introduce you to the fabulousness of Gretchen McNeil. I met Gretchen through the Apocalypsies where she and Lynne Kelly have served as den mothers of sorts, corralling the craziness of 100+ debut authors into a highly fun and functional group. But Gretchen is also a food-lovin' lady and avid home cook who is lucky to live amid the amazing restaurants of L.A. and thus a natural for Pots 'n Pens.

About Gretchen

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror/paranormal POSSESS debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins, August 23, 2011. Her second novel, TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – is tentatively scheduled for a Fall 2012 release. Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she currently sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk ( ). Gretchen is also a founding member of the vlog group YARebels ( where she can be seen as "Monday."

Tell me about a typical writing day and how food fits into it. Do you stress bake or cook compulsively on deadline, or does the food prep fall away when the writing gets busy? How about when you’re performing?

I think any writer will tell you that food plays a HUGE role in the process. When I'm writing on deadline I require certain food items in the house: jelly beans, fresh corn tortillas and guacamole (for quesadillas), and I always make a big batch of my homemade meatballs. Yes, totally random, but I think those items fill three essential food needs: sugar high, comfort food, brain protein.

Performing is similar, except I'm usually expending a lot more calories singing and dancing on stage than say, sitting on my butt in front of my laptop, so I tend to crave carb energy, usually in the form of the French fry…

What kinds of meals or flavors inspire you most?

I love a mix of salty and sweet. There's a brunch restaurant in West LA that does this to perfection in the form of waffle sliders – mini Belgian waffles sandwiching a fried egg, thick cut bacon and sharp cheddar cheese, served with real maple syrup. I also love the Pancakes 'n' Bacon cupcake from Yummy Cupcakes. Oh, and anything labeled "salted caramel." Mmmm. Now I'm hungry.

What are some of your favorite books involving food?

I'm a huge Anthony Bourdain fan. I've read all of his non-fiction books and I adore the way he mixes his unique voice (I call it "overeducated snark") with amazing food commentary. He makes me want to hop a plane to Asia and eat my way from Japan to India!

Recipes or improvisation? Plotter or pantser?

Can I be both? I like to start with a recipe, and then modify it to my own personal tastes overtime, like said homemade meatball recipe mentioned above.

Your writing seems to straddle different genres. Does your cooking, as well?

Oh yes. I was exposed to a variety of cuisines as a kid growing up in California. I love all food, and I've tried my hand at everything from dim sum to tamales to shepherd's pie!

Possess is set in your birthplace of San Francisco but you live in L.A. Which city has the better dining scene?

Yes, I'm a San Francisco native but I've lived in LA for almost 15 years. And as much as I adore San Francisco's foodie culture, I think for sheer variety, inventiveness and insanity, LA is my preferred food city. I mean, where else can you eat at the #1 Himalayan restaurant in the U.S.?

Now for the signature Pots and Pens question: If you had to choose a single book and a single food item, desert island style, what would you pick?

Does champagne count as a food item? No? Damn. In that case, an After School Special (grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough with tomato soup to dip it in) and John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps. Don't ask. I love that damn book.

What recipe are you going to share with us? Tell us a little bit about it!

So this is my favorite recipe, the one I always include in recipe swaps. It's a brunch dish which takes all of 5 minutes to assemble, and every single time I serve it, people beg me for the recipe. It's also the easiest dish I have ever made in my life. Ready?

Spanish Cheese Pie

3 eggs, whisked with 2 tablespoons of milk

1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 small can diced fire roasted green chiles (I like the Ortega brand)

1 small can French's French Fried onions

1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Poor in a glass pie plate. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes. Cut and serve.

You'll thank me for this one. ;)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

One thing I always try to do in my stories is keep my readers on their toes. I want them to be surprised when a twist pops up in the book. This is something I keep an eye out for when I'm doing revisions. I always go through and chunk out my scenes, noting on Post Its the characters, the setting, what's going on, and the POV for each scene. These go up on my cork board. Then I can go through and see exactly what needs to be added, cut, expanded, condensed, etc.

It's during revisions when I try to add those subtle layers - make that character a little deeper, make that motivation a little more complex, make that first kiss a little more spine-tingling ;-) It's all about the layers. And the more unexpected those layers can be, the better.

So, although yesterday was Thanksgiving, I will not be sharing a Thanksgiving recipe today. In honor of layers (and my birthday which is today) :D here is my all time favorite "layered" recipe.

Mom's Chocolate Cake


1 3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

(See the directions for the following ingredients)

1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water


Cream sugar, shortening, eggs, and vanilla. sift together dry ingredients and alternate with 1 cup milk, adding to creamed mixture. Mix the 1/2 cup cocoa and 1/2 boiling water together and add to mixture. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

I usually double this recipe to make 3 or 4 round layers and you end up with something scrumptious, like this:

*ahem I promise not all of my recipes will involve chocolate and/or cake :D But gotta go there for the birthday post ;-) *

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gateway Books and Pecan Tassies

As a kid I was an omnivore of books. Put it in front of me, and there’s a pretty good chance I’d be happy to read it. Still, there were certain genres that drew most of my time and interest and others that I just ignored.

While I was a sci-fi guy early on and had enjoyed the standard issue Narnia books, fantasy never seemed like my thing. They were awfully long and kind of boring. Then, I picked up T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, which is indeed long and some would say boring. But it worked for me, and legends and myths and honor and, of course, cool stuff with swords came alive for me. From then on, I couldn’t get enough of fantasy.

Mystery’s another genre I didn’t spend much time with as a kid. Sure, I liked the Encyclopedia Brown books, but it had never occurred to me that there was such a thing as a mystery that took more than fifteen pages to solve. Then, I read The Westing Game. Brilliant! Mysteries could be fun, with layers of character development, plot, and actual thinking on the part of the reader.

I could go on and on with genres and subgenres that I unsuspectingly got sucked into (e.g., technothrillers via The Andromeda Strain), but you get the point. I expect most book lovers have had this same experience, when a book snuck up on them and opened a whole new world of reading possibilities.

So, how about it? What book surprised you? What genre were you amazed to see in bed with you when you rolled over in the morning? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Here’s a recipe I’ve adapted from one my momma made for us. Much like The Old Man in the Sea shocked me because I liked it even though I’d hated previous Hemingway experiences, this recipe always catches me off-guard because otherwise I don’t even like pecans. These pecan tassies, though, are so worth it.

Basically, these are bite-size pecan pies with just a hint of doctoring.

Pecan Tassies

Pecan Mix
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/3 c. chopped pecans
2/3 c. brandy
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. butter or margarine
2 c. flour

2 eggs
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Melt butter in frying pan on medium-high heat. Add pecans, stir until coated, and cook for 1 minute. Add brandy and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add brown sugar, and cook for another minute, stirring constantly, until pecans are slightly darkened. (Do not overcook!) Remove from heat and set aside.

Mix crust ingredients until crumbly. Shape into cherry-tomato-size marbles. Put marbles in mini muffin pan and press in center of each to spread along bottom and sides of each cup.

Mix egg, butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla and almond extracts. Then stir in pecans.

Put 1 heaping teaspoon of pecan filling in each shell. If there’s extra filling, each can be filled to the top of the shell.

Bake at 325° for 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan. Makes 48.

Basic Version: Use plain, uncooked pecans, omitting the brandy and other ingredients in the pecan mix.

Lower-Fat Version: I’ve cooked these many times with reduced fat butter (or substitute) and reduced fat cream cheese, and they turn out just fine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Guest interview: Denise Verrico serves up fantasy and creamy autumn squash soup

Today it's my pleasure to introduce Denise Verrico and her urban fantasy, MY FEARFUL SYMMETRY.  Hopefully many of you are already familiar with her Immortyl Revolution series. Denise will tell you more about what happens in this third book, but "a boy becomes a vampire and fights to become a man." For a glimpse at the first two books, check out this trailer.

You can find MY FEARFUL SYMMETRY at Amazon, Nook, B&N Paperback, Omnilit, Allromance, and Fictionwise.
Denise, if a couple of your characters were raiding your fridge right now, what would they most likely to eat? Are they disappointed or excited about what they find?
There are lots of fresh ingredients as I favor southern European and Asian cuisines.  We tend to shop as needed.  They would always find a lot of hot sauce!  My teenaged son has about fifteen different hot sauces in the fridge. 
Cedric MacKinnon the hero of my third Immortyl Revolution novel lived in India, and he’d enjoy all of the exotic condiments and spices we have on hand.  

Mia Disantini would love the fact that there is always pasta, olive oil and garlic in my pantry.  Like her, I’m of Italian heritage (I’m also German, Scots Irish and Welsh on the maternal side), and I can make a meal with just those three ingredients.  I’m kind of like Rachel Ray there.  You can’t come between an Italian girl and her EVOO! 

However, my characters would have to go to a blood bank to get their favorite food. 
2.   Hmmm...think I'd hang with Cedric and Mia. What inspired your latest book, and what ingredients do you hope make it a tasty treat for readers? 
My Fearful Symmetry is an exotic dish. 

The series plot of my Immortyl Revolution novels deals with two vampires stealing the secrets of immorality and sparking a revolution among the outcast of their race. 
I had the problem of a lot of political upheaval affecting the fates of the heroine and hero of my first two books that they were not able to witness.  Too much was happening offstage in India, on the other side of the world from New York.

Then I had this character, this irreverent, six-three, auburn-haired, nineteen-year -old Scotsman by the name of Cedric MacKinnon who ends up in India as a male vampire courtesan.  Who better to observe the inner workings of the vampire power structure?  Yes, you saw the words male vampire courtesan.  Cedric is an adept of the ancient arts, a temple dancer in service to the Immortyl cult of Kali.  You could compare them to the Geisha or sacred courtesans like the devidasi of India.  Because of his extraordinary beauty and grace, Cedric is much in demand by the Immortyl elders and becomes a political pawn of the chief elder, which puts him at the epicenter of the turmoil caused by Kurt and Mia’s revolution. 

My vampire stories take on “grown-up” themes like politics, sex and religion.  If you like stories that are thought-provoking, sexy without being graphic, where the eroticism is stylish and interwoven with intrigue and adventure, you’ll enjoy My Fearful Symmetry
      What’s cooking? Can you share a bit about your next project?
The germ of an idea for this one came after reading Ellen Kushner’s fantasy of manners, Swordspoint. What a fun book!  Other than urban fantasy, I’d never thought of fantasy set in anything other than a medieval or Bronze Age culture.  Coming from the theatre, I love 18th century restoration comedy, and I also like picaresque stories like Tom Jones, where the “rogues and scallywags” take on the hypocrisy of their society. 

This fantasy takes place in an 18th century sort of world that is “down under.” The setting is New Zealand-ish in geography, with two large Islands off of a mainland continent.  The magic is somewhat inspired by the belief systems of Polynesian cultures like the Maori.  For many years, the Islands in the story have been occupied by an invading culture that came from the far north. The plot involves three young people, a schoolmaster, a mixed-blood actress and the schoolmaster’s gay best friend, who all run afoul of the lingering puritanism of their society when one of them is scapegoated for practicing “witchcraft”. 

I don’t follow the strict picaresque form of a single first-person narrative, but tell the story in a limited third where each character is the POV in their own chapters.  I hope, however, to bring the rollicking humor, witty banter and bawdy sensibility of the picaresque novel to this book.  There are slimy noblemen, slick politicians, corrupt churchmen and greedy businessmen.  Hmm…that sounds a bit too much like real life.  There is also magic and a feisty heroine who isn’t above slipping a would-be seducer an immobilizing native potion and cursing his manhood.  

 If you were marooned on an island, and Pots & Pens granted your wish for only one book and one food, what would you choose?
To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book.  I read it in high school and fell in love with it.  Scout, Jem and Dill are such great characters, and who wouldn’t love Atticus Finch?  I’m attracted to stories that deal with injustice and also coming-of-age tales.

I could eat lobster until I explode. Broiled, steamed, Newburg, Lobster Rolls, Lobster salad, you name it!  I went to Boston this past summer and tried Lobster Rolls for the first time.  Yummy.

Recipe Row: What favorite recipe do you have for us today?  
This one is great as a starter course for Thanksgiving dinner!

Creamy Autumn Squash Soup
One Butternut Squash
One Acorn Squash
(You can use any orange-fleshed squash, but these are what I usually use.)
4- 6 cups Chicken Broth or Bullion (Use your judgment depending on the size of the squashes. It’s good to have extra broth on hand if needed.)
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 TBSP. Butter
1 Pint heavy cream (you can substitute milk, half n’ half or fat-free half n’ half)
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 Fresh nutmeg

Split and clean the squashes. Put halved squashes in a baking dish and bake them at 350 degrees until soft. Allow squash to cool and then scoop out the flesh.  Puree the flesh in a blender or food processor with some of the chicken broth.  You may have to do this in batches if the squashes are large.  Melt butter in the bottom of a Dutch oven or similar pot.  Chop onion and garlic and sauté in the butter until soft.  Add the pureed squash and more broth if needed.  Heat on low and whisk frequently.  When the puree is hot, add cream or milk.  You can add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Grate a little fresh nutmeg over the top of each bowl and serve.
Serves 4-8 depending on serving size, cups or bowls.

Thanks for stopping by today, Denise!  You can follow her at:
Facebook fan page:
Follow Cedric on Facebook:

Friday, November 18, 2011

OPEN MINDS interview with Susan Kaye Quinn


  Good morning fellow readers, writers and eaters! Today I have a treat for you.  An interview with Susan Kaye Quinn who's book I recently read and loved.  It reminded me of a cross between Scott Westerfeld's Uglies and Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games. One of my favorite reads of this year. Here's a blurb about OPEN MINDS. Welcome, Susan, to Pots 'n' Pens!

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.
Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.
Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) by Susan Kaye Quinn is available in e-book (Amazon US (also UK, France and Germany), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords) and print (Amazon, Createspace, also autographed copies available from the author).

Tell us a bit about your book and what foods play a role, if any?
Kira is the main character (the girl who can’t read minds in a telepathic world) and her dad often goes on “deployment” with his job as a Naval Intelligence Officer. While he’s gone, Kira’s mom likes to cook, and she always has some kind of treat waiting for Kira when she gets home from school. Snickerdoodles get a mention in the book (I have a serious weakness for them), and in a way they represent the solace Kira wishes she could have from her mom. It’s not that her mom isn’t available, but Kira feels isolated, like her problems are all her own and that her mom won’t understand.
I love snickerdoodles too, pure comfort food. What's your favorite snack while writing?
Right now? Halloween candy (yes, we still have some, but it’s getting down to the Dots and Peppermint Patties). Usually, I just have a pot of tea by my side.
*giggle* We still have Dots too! Do you have a go-to meal when you're strapped for time and need to feed the family?
Pasta. Nothing fancy, just some kind of tubular noodles (easier for little fingers to spear with a fork) and sauce from a jar. And cheese, lots of cheese, on top. #Yum
Pasta is my go-to also. Penne is my daughter's favorite. Plain, no sauce. My little foodie heart cries at this. But let's continue. Let’s say a couple of your characters are raiding your fridge right now, what are they most likely to eat? Are they disappointed or excited about what they find?
My characters would be sadly disappointed and possibly could get food poisoning if they don’t avoid certain things that have been in there too long. I’m drafting a new book! That usually means Mac-n-Cheese diet for a while.
If you were marooned on an island, and Pots 'n' Pens granted your wish for only one book and one food, what would you choose?
One food? Cheese. Keeps a long time, it’s tasty, although a diet consisting entirely of cheese might be a problem. For the book, I would have to say Hunger Games. It will make me appreciate having only the cheese to eat. :)

Surprisingly, my favorite recipe doesn’t contain cheese! It’s a recipe that was given to me by a high school friend whose family had emigrated from Germany. We regularly have pancakes for dinner at my house, and these hit the spot.
German Pancakes
6 eggs
1 C milk
1 C flour
¼ t salt
2 T butter

Combine. Put 1 T butter in each of two pie pans and melt as oven preheats. Pour batter in pans. Bake at 450 F for 20 min.

  I love this recipe. My mom would make something similar and serve it with fried apple slices and powdered sugar.  A very yummy dinner! :)  

Thank you for joining us Susan, and Happy NaNo, I can't wait for the next book!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Author Cami Checketts Shares Homemade Wheat Bread

Cami is a part-time author, part-time exercise consultant, part-time housekeeper, full-time wife, and overtime mother of four adorable boys. Sleep and relaxation are fond memories. She's never been happier. For more information on Cami's books:

Cami's latest release is The Sister Pact

Savannah Compton finds her sister, Allison, unconscious. Blood is spurting from Allison’s head and her toddler is screeching for Mommy. The handsome detective at the door believes Savannah is to blame.

Is there a food you’d love to learn how to cook or a different genre or type of book you’d love to try to write?
I'd love to learn how to make sugar cookies. Mine are always hard or falling apart. It's a sad situation when young boys never get the chance to decorate sugar cookies because their Momma is too cheap to buy them from the bakery and too lazy to master them.

I would love to write historical fiction but it's kind of like sugar cookies - too lazy to do the research. I'm sure if I tried historical fiction the readers would have to correct me often and it would be horribly embarrassing.

What’s your favorite kitchen accessory or appliance? How about a favorite writing accessory or reference?
Favorite kitchen appliance is the dishwasher. I throw things in dirty and they come out clean - fabulous!

Favorite writing reference is the internet. When I started writing I didn't have internet access. Imagine anything you needed to research (agents, publishers, the layout of New York City's subway so you can blow it up in your book) instead of just typing a few words and clicking you had to go to the library and actually read a book.

What inspired your latest book, and what ingredients do you hope make it a tasty treat for readers?
I had a nightmare that I was playing with my boys in the backyard and a man walked up and shot me. I started thinking, What would make someone do that to a sweet little Mom?

I hope it's a treat they can't get enough of. I hope it's so intriguing they want to keep reading and reading and then go and tell all their friends about it. (I like to dream big.)

What’s your go-to meal when you need to serve something quick and easy?

Spaghetti. We bottle our own sauce straight from the garden. It's amazing. I used Ragu once and none of my boys would eat it. (They're cute but definitely spoiled.)

Oh, do I understand wasting a perfeclty good plate of pasta. My husband hates spaghetti and will only eat it if I use a certain sauce. Picky Picky!

Tell about a time when food inspired your writing or a book inspired your cooking.
I love Josi Kilpack's culinary mysteries. I cannot read one of those without trying at least a couple of the recipes. The only time I didn't like all the yummy food references was when I tried to read Key Lime Pie while in labor with my fourth son. Contractions and thoughts of food do not work well together!

If you were marooned on an island, and Pots 'N Pens granted your wish for only one book and one food, what would you choose?

Wow. Thanks for the easy question. Hmm, the food would be my homemade bread (though I'd likely perish without Extreme Mouse Tracks ice cream).

The book would have to be The Book of Mormon. There are a lot of amazing books out there but The Book of Mormon is my all-time favorite.

Cami's homemade wheat bread

3/4 cup applesauce

2/3 cup oil

1/2 cup honey

2 Tbsp. salt

Mix together


5 1/2 cups warm water

10-12 cups finely ground wheat flour

1/3 cup vital wheat gluten

Mix for five minutes.

While you wait, mix 1/2 cup warm water with 2 1/2 Tbsp. yeast.

Add yeast mixture and 1-3 cups white flour or until dough pulls away from the edges of pan.

Shape into loaves, let raise.

Bake 350 for 20 – 40 minutes (I’m obviously not good at timing things. I wait for mine to smell good and pull them out when they’re brown.)

Thanks Cami, it was a joy to talk to you. I LOVE fresh baked bread and can't wait to try baking (I should really say murder 'cause I tend to burn my bread *sigh*) this.  Check out what Cami is up to over on her site by clicking on the links by her picture above.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Author Interview: Ali Cross & Become

Today I’m happy to welcome Ali Cross to the Pots n’ Pens blog! Ali’s a former opera singer who had a short-lived ballerina experience turned fantastic YA and MG writer who has just released her first novel!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, Ali! Let’s just jump into it J

You just released your young adult novel, BECOME, this past Friday. The story centers around Desi the Devil's daughter, and her search to discover if the good or the bad in her will win out. Can you tell us a bit more about BECOME?

Well, people are not black or white, and neither is Desi. Neither are any of the people in her life. I think BECOME is like a caricature of real life--because we all struggle against our darker sides from time to time. 

As you worked on BECOME, what foods make you think of the book or your characters? Angel food cake or Devil's food cake perhaps ;) ? Does Desi have a favorite food?

Desi needs coffee. The darker the better--and none of those silly frufru drinks, either. Does coffee count as food? In one scene someone gives her a chicken salad croissant sandwich and Desi thinks she's never tasted anything so good.

Being a writer means inspiration can strike at any moment, so sometimes meals aren’t so gourmet. ;) … What’s a favorite go-to for you to get the family fed?

Um. McDonald's? Carl's Jr.? Haha you probably didn't mean that kind of go-to food, did you? Pancakes or waffles are always good! (We love breakfast for dinner around here!)

Haha! I’m so with you on breakfast for dinner! Though, at my house we lean more toward cold cereal! Lol! Anyway, moving on, who has been the best cook you know and what’s one of your favorite dishes they’ve served you?

The mother of my niece-in-law, Wendy is by far the best cook I know but I can't think of a single thing she's cooked for me that I liked better than the other. It seems there isn't any food she makes that isn't awesomely delicious!

What writerly snack food / drink do you keep on-hand at all times?

Sometimes when I'm stuck, a nice cup of hot chocolate helps fill the empty spots. I love Mike & Ike's too. :)

On the other hand, are you a snacky reader? If so, what are some of your faves?

You know? I am not a snacky reader! The words alone are feast enough.

What a great answer! But here’s a toughy for you. If you were marooned on an island and Pots & Pens granted you a wish for only one book and one food, what would you choose?

Oh man. Um, one book. That would have to be THE SUMMER TREE by Guy Gavriel Kay. Thefood? Well, I might as well go out in style so please let me have a box of my favorite fudge.

Yum! Fudge, you so can’t go wrong with that. And finally … what recipe of deliciousness have you got to share with us today?

I'm gonna share the recipe for that delicious fudge I love! I hope you love it as much as I do!

·         2 cups brown sugar
·         1 cup margarine
·         1 tsp vanilla
·         4 tbsp milk
·         4 spoonfuls cocoa powder, large spoonfuls
·         2 cups confectioner's sugar
1. In a heavy pot, bring all but icing sugar to a full boil. Remove from stove.

2. With a mixer add the icing sugar.

3. Pour into greased pan. Refrigerate.

Thanks so much for inviting me to Pots 'n Pens today Windy! It was fun to think about my story from a different angle :)

Thanks again, Ali, for joining us today! Wishing you much success with your book (and hoping I can succeed making this fudge!).

And you can pick up a copy of Ali’s book in paperback at Amazon, for your Kindle, for your Nook, or at Smashwords

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Guest Interview: Robin Bridges

I am so excited to introduce today's guest on the Pots 'n Pens blog: Robin Bridges!
By day, Robin is a mild-mannered writer of fantasy and paranormal fiction for young adults. By night, she is a pediatric nurse. Robin lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband, one soon-to-be teenager, and two slobbery mastiffs. THE GATHERING STORM is her first novel.
Dishing with Robin.
If you were marooned on an island and Pots & Pens granted your wish for only one book and one food, what would you choose?
Jane Austen's Complete Works and a never ending bowl of shrimp alfredo (comfort food with comfort reading!)
What is your A+, number 1 writing/editing/query-reading snack?

(Diet coke and Crown doesn’t count, right?) I’m a sugar junkie-  remember William Carlos Williams and his pilfered plums from the icebox?  I crave cold, sweet things when I write.  I’ll stick twinkies in the bottom drawer of my fridge until they’re slightly frozen, or mix blueberry pie filling and Cool Whip and eat it with a spoon.

What’s cooking? Can you share a bit about your next project?

A new paranormal romance set in Regency England.

If your book were a menu item, describe the restaurant that would serve it (e.g., type of food, atmosphere, music).

Tell us about your edible specialty, and rate your skill in the kitchen: novice, not bad, or nominate me for a Michelin star.

I failed the cooking part of home ec in school.  (As well as the sewing part, but that’s another story.) My husband is the wizard of the Bridges’ kitchen.  That being said, once I went from using Weight Watchers recipes to using Paula Deen recipes, my dinner approval rating seems to have soared.  Who knew bacon grease + butter = love?

Sadly, now my husband has a new friend named Mr. Cardiologist and my days of pretending to be Paula Deen are over.  Goodbye, bacon grease.  I will miss you…

Recipe Row: What favorite recipe do you have for us today? (If you have a picture, please include it.)

In honor of my main character, Katerina, and in honor of my great-grandparents, who owned a bakery in Ukraine, here’s my favorite easy recipe for Russian black bread.  You can make it in the bread machine!

Russian Black Bread (From Allrecipes)

  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 c. bread flour
  • 1 c. rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  1. Place ingredients into the bread machine in order suggested by teh manufacturer.
  2. Use the whole wheat, regular crust setting.
  3. After the baking cycle ends, remove bread from pan, place on a cake rack, and allow to cool one hour before slicing.  
To learn more about the incredibly awesome Robin Bridges and her super cool debut THE GATHERING STORM, check out her website here.