Veggie Mac & Cheese

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After I posted this photo of yesterday’s lunch, I was asked for the recipe. It’s such a simple dish that I’m rather embarrassed to do so, but let’s give it a whirl. Doesn’t it look scrumptious? 🙂

Veggie Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Kraft or similar macaroni and cheese (see why I’m embarrassed?)
  • Generous handful of grape tomatoes
  • Generous handful of raw spinach, baby or regular
  • Garlic (minced is best, but powdered can work in a pinch)
  • Black pepper

Wash the grape tomatoes and slice in half. If the tomatoes are extra big, cut into quarters. Cook the macaroni according to the box directions (add to boiling water and stir occasionally for 7-9 minutes), adding the tomatoes directly into the water with the pasta.

Wash the spinach and drain in a colander. Leave in the sink. Do not add to the boiling water.

After the pasta is tender, drain the pasta and tomatoes right into the colander with the fresh, washed spinach. Do not rinse. You’ll have perfectly blanched spinach without any over-cooked, slimy leaves. 🙂

Add the drained macaroni, spinach, and tomatoes back into the pot (turn off the heat first). Add the macaroni flavoring along with your desired amounts of milk and butter or margarine (I put in enough milk to keep things moist but not runny, and maybe two tablespoons of butter). Add a generous amount of garlic and stir until everything is mixed together.

Spoon into a serving bowl and top with fresh grated black pepper.

Add or substitute whatever ingredients you wish.

Enjoy!

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Taste Us! You’ll Like Us! Meet Leigh Ellwood for #LoveSpanks!

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Register for Love Spanks 2015 here!

Leigh Ellwood

We begin a new year, and for many that means a new eating plan, diet, etc. I promised myself last year that I would put myself through the torture of a food regimen that deprived me and offered little in the way of results. Just eat less and move more. Easier said than done, but I find lately some things I’ve done on the advice of others have helped improved my mood. Maybe the weight will come, or go, later.

Two things I’ve done: cut out caffeine after 2PM and stop eating after 8PM. Lessening the carbs and trying a different kind of breakfast. If this sounds familiar, it’s adapted from the Bulletproof Diet, which I read this month. Do a search, though, and you’ll find people have adjusted it to their living. One recipe I found, I’ve tweaked and added to my routine. It’s for Morning Butter Tea.

What you need:

1 cup brewed organic tea. Right now I’m using a chocolate Pu-erh tea from Numi, but I imagine you can use other kinds to suit your taste. I tried this because of the health benefits of Pu-erh – it’s supposed to aid in weight loss, but if that’s not an issue use what you like.

1 packet stevia. I use Truvia.

1 tablespoon coconut oil. Coconut oil is supposed to improve brain function, which I need in the morning!

1 tablespoon butter. Not just any kind, though. It’s recommended to use grass-fed butter because it’s better for you. Kerrygold is a popular brand, but if you know of any others I’m interested.

1 tablespoon raw cacao powder. I use Navitas Naturals brand because it’s pure powder with no added sugar. Chocolate is good for antioxidants, so yes it’s health food. 😛

Recipe is simple. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. I have a Vitamix and usually give it 30 seconds at settings 5-7. It’s important to blend rather than stir because the butter and oil are mixed well and you don’t get the residual oily sensation. Just blend and drink – it’s like a chocolate tea latte!

BTW, here is the video from which I adapted the recipe.

http://ilovebuttercoffee.com/bulletproof-tea-recipe/

~

This recipe isn’t relative to any of my stories, but it’s something new I’m trying in order to improve my productivity and mood. I’m not interested in slimming down into a bikini right now, but I want to write more, and write well. The Bulletproof book pointed out ways not only to become fit, but improve the mind. I improve my mind, I improve my stories.

~

Leigh Ellwood is a starving writer who feeds on books. She needs money to pay for them, so please help her out.

See her new releases at http://www.leighellwood.com, read her thoughts at http://leighwantsfood.blogspot.com, and bug her on Twitter @LeighEllwood.

Register for Love Spanks 2015 here!

Taste Us! You’ll Like Us! Meet Jessica E. Subject for #LoveSpanks

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Register for Love Spanks 2015 here!

Jessica E. Subject

I started writing lesbian romances in 2011 after my first story was published. Even though Unknown Futures was my first F/F story published, the first F/F scenes I wrote were those in Never Gonna Let You Go. Kate Richards read that story and encouraged me to write an F/F 1Night Stand story. Since the 1NS I was working on wasn’t going well, I went with it and wrote Unknown Futures. The other F/F titles I have published are Never Gonna Desert You, which continues Melina’s story, who is introduced in Never Gonna Let You Go, and Phoenix Spanked, which is part of Spank or Treat 2014.  In Sex Boot Camp, which I wrote under the name, Paisley Brown, there are F/F and F/F/F scenes. And you can check out my Love Spanks story from last year here. I am working on another F/F romance right now, which takes place at a space academy. I’ll have more information about that story in the spring.

I hope you enjoy Love In Disguise, my short story for Love Spanks 2015! The story that will be posted on my blog is only a portion of the entire story. You’ll be able to read the entire story in the Love Spanks 2015 anthology.

[Ana’s note: Jessica’s story for Love Spanks this year contains a WOODEN SPOON. 😀 😀 😀 The end. Look for the pre-order link, coming soon!]

I chose this recipe, because my story is set in the future, and I believe, in the future, we will eat less, getting all the nutrients we need in smaller packages, especially when the food is being replicated and farmland becomes scarce. Since these energy bars don’t require any baking, you don’t even need to use the replicator. You just have to locate the ingredients. I have made this recipe several times for my family, and the bars always seem to disappear very quickly. I also tend to double the recipe to make it last a bit longer.

Energy bars from the future

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked quick-cook oats

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Spread the mixture in a pan or glass dish. Refrigerate for two hours. Slice and enjoy! (uneaten bars should be kept refrigerated.)

Author Bio: Jessica E. Subject is the author of contemporary and science fiction romance, ranging from sweet to erotic. In her stories, you could meet clones, or a sexy alien or two. You may even be transported to another planet for a romantic rendezvous.

When Jessica isn’t reading, writing, or doing dreaded housework, she likes to get out and walk. Fast. But she just may slow down if there is a waterfall nearby.

Jessica lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two energetic children. And she loves to hear from her readers. You can find her at jessicasubject.com and on twitter @jsubject.

Website/Blog | Newsletter | Amazon

Register for Love Spanks 2015 here!

Taste Us! You’ll Like Us! Meet Tara Quan for #LoveSpanks

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Register for Love Spanks 2015 here!

Ana’s note: Tara is one of two authors giving F/F her first try for Love Spanks! I am thrilled to see authors expanding their range. (Tara usually writes M/F.) Plus, she always has the cutest cartoons and video trailers for her books.

Tara Quan

Since my Love Spanks 2015 contribution features cupcakes, it seemed appropriate to offer up a dessert recipe. Unfortunately, baking is not my forte. My husband traded in some rewards points many moons ago for a Kitchenaid stand mixer, perhaps hoping I would expand my culinary horizons beyond different permutations of stir-fry. The monstrously heavy appliance has moved with us to three different countries, but it spends most of its days gathering dust.

I came to the realization not too long ago that any dessert I attempt would have to be simple, easy and fast. The creaming method is not for me (though my real-life hero uses it with enough skill to produce delicious brownies, when the mood strikes, which happens about once every two years). I also have a weakness for tea. I drink at least a pot a day, usually more, and I’ve dropped obscene amounts of cash at both the physical and online versions of Teavana.

And thus I present Tea-Infused Shortbread (it’s more delicious than it sounds, I promise). It’s based on Claire Robinson’s Food Network Recipe, though I’ve made a few minor adjustments to make it “me”-proof.

A How-To for Non-Bakers (for emergency situations such as community potlucks)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
  2. Take out a digital scale. Cover it in plastic wrap. Turn it on.
  3. Detach the top part/clear plastic container from the food processor. Put it on the scale. Press tare.
  4. Add 255grams (9oz) of all-purpose flour. Press tare.
  5. Move the container back to the food processor. Add ½ a teaspoon of salt.
  6. Peruse your tea collection. I suggest a black tea, but you definitely do not need to stick to the classic Earl Grey. My favorites are Strawberry Pu-errh and Cacao Mint Black, but I think Chai would also work very well (cinnamon and cloves, what can go wrong?). Once you’ve sniffed around and have settled on the prefect scent, add 2 tablespoons of loose tea leaves to the mix.
  7. Pulse until the tea is spread throughout the flour.
  8. Return container to the scale. Press tare.
  9. Add 85 grams (3oz) of powdered/confectioner’s sugar. Press tare. (p.s. I’ve had decent results lowering this to 50 grams.)
  10. Add 227 grams (8oz/1cup/2 sticks) of room-temperature unsalted butter. (If you, like me, forgot to let the butter sit outside the fridge ahead of time, I suggest reading a good collection of short stories full of spanking fun while you wait).
  11. Reattach the container to the food processor
  12. Add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
  13. Pulse until you get a single piece of dough.
  14. Put the dough in plastic wrap and roll it into a log about 6.5cm (2.5in) in diameter. Twist both ends of the wrap to seal it.
  15. Chill in the fridge for 30 min.
  16. Unwrap the log and slice it into disks about 0.8cm (⅓ in) thick.
  17. Place disks on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or two). Make sure they’re all separated from each other by at least 5cm (2in).
  18. Bake until the edges are light brown (12 min).
  19. Let it cool on the sheet(s) for 5 min.
  20. Transfer cookies to a rack and let it cool to room temperature (don’t forget to taste!)

What do you think? It’s the easiest cookie recipe I’ve found, to be honest. More importantly, there’s next to no clean up (parchment paper is awesome).

About the Author

Globetrotter, lover of languages, and romance author, Tara Quan has an addiction for crafting tales with a pinch of spice and a smidgen of kink. Inspired by her travels, she enjoys tossing her kick-ass heroines into exotic contemporary locales, supernatural worlds, and post-apocalyptic futures. Her characters, armed with magical powers or conventional weapons, are guaranteed a suspenseful and sensual ride, as well as their own happily ever after.

Just Desserts (her Love Spanks story) is Tara’s first foray into F/F fiction, written to escape the wrath of a certain someone’s wooden spoon. She does, however, have a good number of M/F romances under her belt. Her most recent project is A Witch’s Night Out, a series of paranormal tales for Decadent Publishing’s 1Night Stand line. Flirting with Fire features a clueless warlock, his fed-up cat familiar, and the magic of All Hallows’ Eve. It is followed by Frosty Relations and Fireworks at Midnight. All three contain explicit sex. None include spanking, but the same cannot be said about some of this author’s other works.

To learn more about Tara’s books and social media haunts, visit her website: www.taraquan.com

Register for Love Spanks 2015 here!

Ana’s Advent Calendar Day 7: Beyond Fairytales

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D.L. Jackson is one of the masterminds behind Decadent Publishing’s newest series, Beyond Fairytales. It’s also the series for Taliasman, my latest release. You may recognize her name as one of the naughty (ahem…as in too hot for Ana to handle) authors for Spank or Treat this year. She also has a wicked sense of humor, as you’ll see in her post. I’ve loved getting to know her, and I hope you’ll enjoy her visit. Behave! 😀

 

 

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Okay, so the last time I lost power in my neck of the woods, my youngest son was a senior in high school and had lizards, a bearded dragon named Walter and a Gecko named Wiggles. Now they did not room together in the same tank, mostly because Walter, though he adored blueberries, also found Wiggles to be quite tasty.

I regress. Back to the power outage. Poor cold-blooded babies. I had to keep the lizards warm (No that’s not some kind of erotic author innuendo or purple prose. I really had to keep them warm) and the only way to accomplish the mission was to put them near the wood stove. I hauled the big heavy tanks out to the front room and let them soak in the heat.

At this time I had a new phone (one I could actually text with, a skill I’d recently acquired, which no one will claim to have taught me, because I really am not very good at it), and anyone who knows me, knows I’m as far from being a tech-nerd as a girl can get. It was my only means of communication during the outage, and with a new release going hot, I had to make an appearance. You’ve seen those lovely posts on Facebook that show texts gone wrong? *raises hand and waves* I should be the poster child.

Back to the power outage. It was during the holiday release of This Endris Night with Decadent Publishing, the lights went out. My publisher wanted me to blog and post a favorite recipe (double chocolate mousse cheesecake), but alas, I had no electricity. While explaining the way I cook, that I have to write down the measurements as I go, because, I don’t really use recipes, I mentioned that I would be unable to post a picture of the decadent dessert I wanted to make. Going on further, I mentioned my power had been out for three days. My son’s lizards were “basking” by the woodstove and I’d been boiling snow to flush the toilets.

Well, damn auto-correct. It changed basking to baking, and next thing you know, Kate Richards asked if Walter and Wiggles were my yummy holiday recipe. If you ever hear her ask me if the lizards are baking by the wood stove again, it’s really code for stop trying to text. You suck at it.

This year, it happened again. I found my Thanksgiving to be quite primitive. If I couldn’t cook it over a wood stove, it wasn’t part of the meal. I boiled snow to wash the dishes and flush the toilets and it got me to thinking, I was living in a fairytale, well, one of the really scary Grimm’s tales that leave you screaming and running for your life, but a fairytale nevertheless.

I have discovered how tedious Cinderella’s life really was. Seriously, the girl suffered.

When you think back to the time when most of the famous fairytales were penned, the authors didn’t have the luxuries we enjoy today. And that my friends is some serious fodder for wicked inspiration. So, time to shut off the lights, burn a few candles and grab a pen and paper. Do you have the guts to take on the Beyond Fairytales Challenge? Can you twist an assigned tale into a romantic happily ever after, even if the hero and heroine had to boil snow to wash dishes, or the tale is dark and spooky, much like my house has been these last few days without electricity? Yes? Check out the submissions requirements on http://www.decadentpublishing.com (Or if you want to read some twisted fairytales, you can find them there too.)

*Points flashlight at face* Once upon a time….

Leave a comment with your contact email. I have some goodies in my basket to give away, and you really don’t want to miss out on this Happily Ever After. I will draw three winners randomly at the end of Ana’s Advent Celebration and announce what you’ve won.

[Ana’s note: If you have registered to play the Advent Calendar, your email address is already on file. If you haven’t registered, please do so! :)]

 

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Beyond Fairytales books available for purchase

A Riddle for Love

Darkest Magic

For the Love of…Geese?

Hunter’s Mark

Once Upon a Marriage

Operation Owl

Saving Sultan

Saving Their Princess

Slumber

Starlight Cowboy

Taliasman

The Star Princess

The Thief and His Master

You Belong to Me

 

 

 

Ana’s Advent Calendar 2014, Day 3: 2nd Annual Holiday Recipe Exchange

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Today’s announcements: I have received some serious news about a friend’s health and took time yesterday to process it. Please don’t worry. I am fine, and Advent Calendar will proceed as normal. But I was not able to respond to comments the way I wished, and I apologize for that. This season can be a joyous one, but it can also be a difficult reminder of loss and times of heartache. In that spirit, we will have the third annual Blue Christmas post on Friday to honor those for whom this holiday is less than joyous. It’s a sacred tradition of Ana’s Advent Calendar, and for me it is the heart of the entire event. I created Advent Calendar specifically for those who feel alienated, sad, weary, or unhappy during a month in which the world seems to celebrate. There is a place for us, too. If you feel quiet, if you feel unsure about socializing or drinking eggnog, have no fear. Here, you are welcome just as you are. (Unless you are a troll. Trolls should go back to living under the bridge. :P)

Also, you may have noticed comments from the inimitable Kathryn Blake, best known as Headmistress Blake of disciplinary fame. She has returned for a second year as helper elf, and she is joined by the lovely Anna Jones of Witty Bard Press. They are helping me behind the scenes. If they ask you questions or give you a gentle reminder, please obey them as you would me. Wait. Without the merciless teasing. 😀 Never mind, tease away.

I will be away tomorrow through Saturday (or Sunday, if weather decides not to cooperate), but you will be in the capable hands of Kathryn, Anna, and an amazing series of guest posters. I will check in as I am able, and I will return to you for sure on Monday. Sunday, I hope. 🙂

Last year’s Holiday Recipes post generated an amazing wealth of tasty treat ideas. Michelle B collected all of the recipes into a surprise party favor. Michelle B has offered to do the same this year, so please make sure your recipes have clear measurements, all necessary steps, and are easy to understand. You can use either imperial (cup, teaspoon) or metric measurements, but please be consistent.

The following is a recipe I made with my mom every Thanksgiving. For some reason, ginger cookies were cut into turkey shapes for Thanksgiving, while Christmas meant white sugar rolled-out cookies. I always preferred the more flavorful ginger cookies, but to this day I think of ginger cookies as Thanksgiving cookies. It feels naughty to make them for Christmas, and we all know I’m about the naughty!

Rolled-out cookies are special to me because my mother (who baked/cooked because she was a woman and expected to do so, not because she enjoyed it) only made them twice a year. She hated her kitchen in a mess, and she particularly hated Ana creating mess in her perpetual excitement. (No one can picture me excited about a project, right?) I’ll never make cookies as perfectly or neatly as my mom, but I like to think that imperfections are a sign of love.

Here is this year’s holiday recipe for Advent Calendar. If you go to last year’s PDF, you’ll find a recipe for another of my favorites–vanilla caramels. Yum.

UPDATE: If you add an image to your recipe, Michelle B will include it in the cookbook. You can post the photo directly (I think) or a link to it.

Rolled Ginger Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup shortening

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 cup molasses

2 Tablespoons vinegar

5 cups sifted flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon ginger (powdered)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg, molasses, and vinegar. Beat well (with a wooden spoon! Oh, joy!). Sift dry ingredients together and stir into the wet mixture. Chill for three hours.

Roll out on floured surface and sprinkle with sugar. Cut with cookie cutters.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-6 minutes (depending on thickness) on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cool slightly and move to cooling racks.

 

 

 

 

Today, I’d like you to do three things:

  1. Share your favorite holiday recipe. This is not a contest to show cooking expertise. If your favorite holiday recipe is to go to the grocery store and buy a pint of eggnog, tell us! If you like to slice hot dogs lengthwise and doctor them up with barbecue sauce, go for it. If you don’t cook, what food do you like to enjoy for the holidays?
  2. Reply to at least two other recipes in the comment thread. Have you tried it before? Is it new to you? Would you like to try it?
  3. If you have tried cooking or baking before, please share a story about your worst disaster. Mine? Too many to count. Most recently, I wanted to make Michelle B’s shortbread cookies from last year’s cookbook. I mixed everything together and set the dough in the fridge to chill. Then I got slammed with work, so I didn’t get a chance to check the dough…for two days. I had to throw the dry, crumbly mess away. Oops! Or there’s the time I wanted to make perfect lemon bars for my friend’s funeral and went through three batches, had to buy a new non-warped pan, and learned why RealLemon is not real at all. It took three tries, but I did finally get it right. 🙂

UPDATE: If you add an image to your recipe, Michelle B will include it in the cookbook. You can post the photo directly (I think) or a link to it.

Pizza Potato Casserole

Since some people wanted my recipe for last week’s pizza potato casserole, here it is. Though I don’t cook with measurements (unless it’s baking where the amount of flour, baking soda, etc. actually matters), so it’s all estimated. Plus, I wasn’t entirely happy with the results. I’m not normally a fan of canned soups (unless I don’t feel like cooking), and I’m not sure what else I could use to smooth out the acid of the tomato sauce. More herbs, maybe?

Has anyone else made a similar dish before? How did you make it?

Pizza Potato Casserole:

Brown beef (I used ground sirloin–Ami and other UKers, you call it mincemeat–but you can use whatever you like, or even meat substitute) in a skillet, along with minced onion, green onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and chili/cayenne pepper. (A dash of your favorite hot sauce would work, too.) I used about 3/4 of a pound of meat, but I’m stingy with meat. You can do a pound, more or less.

Once the meat is browned, dump in tomato sauce (I used two small cans, I think around 10 ounces each), your favorite nacho cheese sauce (I used fiesta nacho cheese canned soup), chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, and other Italian-type seasonings. Simmer, covered, for about ten minutes. (Or simmer while washing your prep dishes and until you remember to check the meat-sauce mixture. Hey, I’m telling you how I did it. 😀 I might as well be honest.) You may want to add a bit of brown sugar to soften the acidic taste of the tomato sauce. I didn’t try it this time, but it might help. I added some hot sauce here because I like a bit of kick to my food. 🙂 I used Louisiana Hot Sauce because it’s mild and doesn’t overpower other flavors.

Peel and cut potatoes into thin slices. Lay them on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. (I did not peel my potatoes because they were red ones that are yummy with their skins on, but the flavor was a distraction from the pizza stuff. If I were to do it again, I’d use white or gold potatoes with peelings removed.) I’m not sure how many potatoes I used, but use enough to make a fairly thick layer (think of this as your pizza crust).

Spread the meat-sauce mixture evenly on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Add pepperoni slices and/or whatever vegetables you like–green peppers or mushrooms, perhaps. Cover pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-60 minutes. Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes and switch the oven to broil.

Enjoy!

If you have suggestions for improvement, please add them in the comments. This was my first time making this dish in many years, and I’m afraid I’ve gotten a bit rusty. I’d make it again to try the improvements, but in all honesty I’m thoroughly sick of the dish after eating leftovers for four days. 😀 I made two loaves of bread last night (onion and sesame), and I also made some 15-bean soup. I recently discovered the 15-bean soup packages, and they are ridiculously yummy and cheap. Who ever would have thought to add lemon juice to a bean soup? Not me. 😀

Tentative menu for this week: salsa chicken with rice, mahi-mahi poached in coconut milk with ginger and asparagus, and beef stew. What will you be eating this week?