Category Archives: recipes

Bake, Love, Write

Moonday Mania

bake, love, write

I’m in a cookbook! Author Lois Winston put together a dessert cookbook with over 105 authors (mostly romance authors) and it includes not just recipes, but their advice on writing and love. So look for author Jessica Aspen and my recipe for, Dark Forest Fruitcake. It’s gluten and grain free, and full of chocolate love!

bake, love, write: 105 aurhots share dessert recipes

What do most authors have in common, no matter what genre they write? They love desserts. Sweets sustain them through pending deadlines and take the sting out of crushing rejection letters and nasty reviews. They also often celebrate their successes—selling a book, winning a writing award, making a bestseller list, or receiving a fabulous review—with decadent indulgences. And when authors chat with each other, they often talk about their writing and their lives. Recipes. Writing. Relationships. In this cookbook 105 authors not only share their favorite recipes for fabulous cakes, pies, cookies, candy, and more, they also share the best advice they’ve ever received on love and writing.

Discover the  ebook for only 99cents!

Apple Ibooks Barnes and Noble Amazon

If you’re like me and love having print copies of recipe books than here are the print links:

Amazon Barnes and Noble

Authors include: Brenda Novak, Lois Winston, Debra Holland, Dale Mayer, Shelley Noble, Caridad Pineiro, Diana Orgain, Lisa Verge Higgins, Lynn Cahoon, Jasmine Haynes, Jan Carol, Meg Bellamy, Bobbi Chukran, Melissa Keir, Amy Gamet, Kristy Tate, Terry Shames, Barbara Phinney, Kitsy Clare, Raine English, Cathryn Cade, Haley Whitehall, Shilpa Mudiganti, Melinda Curtis, Jessa Slade, Jill Blake, Daryl Devore, Molly MacRae, Elizabeth Rose, Helena Fairfax, Lourdes Venard, Jessica Aspen, Maegan Beaumont, Kay Kendall, Elizabeth John, Victoria Adams, Cyndi Pauwels, Alice Loweecey, June Shaw, Donnell Ann Bell, T. Michelle Nelson, Nina Milton, Pam DeVoe, Skye Taylor, Conda V. Douglas, Pepper Phillips, Judy Alter, Cadence Denton, Lesley Diehl, Erin Farwell, Regan Walker, Kaye Spencer, Barbara Monajem, Kathleen Kaska, Catherine Kean, Rose Anderson, Suzie Tullett, Deborah Hughes, Cynthia Luhrs, Judy Baker, Alicia Dean, Leslie Langtry, Janis Susan May, Mitzi Flyte, Ruby Merritt, Renee D. Field, Kathryn Quick, Susan Cory, Judy Penz Sheluk, Kay Manis, Kathryn Jane, Debra Goldstein, E. Ayers, Chantilly White, Sloan McBride, Triss Stein, Ana Morgan, Adele Downs, L.C. Giroux, Pamela Aares, Nancy Warren, Barbara Lohr, J.J. Cook, Lynn Reynolds, Cori Arnold, B.V. Lawson, Lynn Franklin, M.L. Guida, Irene Peterson, Sue Viders, Liese Sherwood-Fabre, Susan Santangelo, Sheila Seabrook, Elaine Charton, Sharleen Scott, Kathy Bennett, Jody Payne, Reggi Allder, Ashlyn Chase, Beverley Bateman, Susan Lohrer, Donis Casey, Barbara Leavy, Stacy Juba, Karen Rose Smith.

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at

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Filed under Book Sales, Gluten Free, Jessica Aspen's Books, Moonday mania

Hot Balls of Luv!

Moonday Mania

How to heal a broken heart with chocolate.

Even romance writers have broken hearts. Not every Valentine’s Day goes well for everyone, nor does writing romance mean your life is super romantic. Of course mine is now, but there have been times when I romance didn’t go well for me. And in my deep, dark past, I used to make fudge.

No marshmallow creme allowed. Just old-fashioned ingredients. Why? Because that was the way I was taught, from a recipe developed before marshmallow creme. That’s how old this recipe is (although it does contain corn syrup). Now it does tend to be a little grainy, so if you can find superfine sugar, you should use that. But I grew up with grainy fudge, because that’s the kind of sugar we bought. We didn’t care. It was fudge.

Thick, rich and simple. Mostly just chocolate and sugar and an endorphin high that must have been kicking. No wonder I made it a ton when I was an adolescent, jacking my system likely got me through all the heartaches.

With real candy you use a candy thermometer to tell when it’s hid soft ball or hard ball stage. Or you can use the old fashioned method of testing for doneness by dropping balls of hot love (your candy) into a glass of water and feeling them for doneness.

(Okay, that sounds like a blog to me.)

For years I had fudge on the brain. I made it a lot. My birthday cake was covered in real fudge icing. Real fudge sets up fast, so you have to move lightening fast to cover a cake. Hard as a rock, but oh so delicious. And perfect. Chocolate cake, fudge icing, and topped with real vanilla ice cream. Mmmm!

But here’s the thing. Fudge doesn’t really nurture your soul. That endorphin kick was a fake. Real love and romance do it so much better. You want to know how I know that?

I haven’t made fudge for years. In fact, I almost couldn’t locate the recipe for this blog, it was buried in the back of my recipe card box. Instead, now, I nurture my soul with real love…friends…and brownies. 🙂

Okay, I still love chocolate and still sometimes have those days where I want it’s soothing touch, but I no longer go for the super sweet taste of fudge. In fact, I’m eat very little sugar at all now. My occasional brownie foray is sweetened with honey or maple syrup. But, because I still have a soft spot for the past, I’m sharing my grandmother’s fudge recipe with all of you. If you want a little adventure into the past, give it a try. And you’ll get to try rolling your own soft balls.

My Grandmother’s Fudge

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sq bitter chocolate
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbl corn syrup
  • tiny pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp butter

Butter a 8×8 pan and put aside.

Melt chocolate on med-low in a thick bottomed pot. Add milk and sugar, salt, butter and corn syrup. Stir occaisionally. Cook until soft ball stage. (When dropped into a glass of cold water the candy forms a soft ball stage and sugar crystals are forming on the sides of the pan. (If you’ve reached a hard, crackly ball, you’ve gone too far!)

Remove from heat and beat hard!

Beat until it is 20140217-072459.jpgalmost firmed up and pour into the greased pan. Fudge should develop a glossy color. If you wait too long, you will not be able to pour it into the pan or over the cake. It will still taste delicious!

This is the tricky part. Be careful, hot candy gives you very bad burns. I had a very bad birthday one year, when the hot fudge slipped over the edge of the pot and burned my hand. You must develop a good bicep muscle and beat it until it is ready. Have a friend on standby to take over. We just don’t have the upper arm strength our grandmothers needed to cook!)

Let cool. If you can! If you can’t, at least wait until it is past the tongue burning stage, we don’t want any trips to the ER.

Hope your Valentine’s day was every bit as romantic as you wanted it to be, but just in case it wasn’t, there’s always fudge!

Or brownies…or chocolate…or wine.


Filed under About the Author, Moonday mania, recipes

Gluten Free Microwave Brownies

Moonday Mania

a blog for the days it’s too hot to cook

It’s been hot! But I still want to bake brownies for those romantic summer picnics. So if you need a treat for July Fourth, but you don’t want to heat up your oven, here is the wheat-free, heat-free, recipe for you.

Jessica Aspen’s Gluten Free Microwave  Dark Chocolate Brownies

  • 7 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup maple syrup (the real stuff)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients. Stir fast, I like to use a whipping motion to add height to the brownies. Pour into a microwave safe (glass works well) 9×9 dish or equivalent. Microwave for five minutes at normal setting, then two more at 80%. Let sit for at least five minutes. Dish up plain or with your favorite gluten free ice cream. Yummm!

(Your microwave may be different, so feel free to make multiple batches to experiment with. Also I have a glass turning plate in mine, if you don’t have one, stop and turn the brownies every two minutes.)

Oven directions: bake 350° for twenty minutes, check for done with a toothpick.

Warning: these are a bit crumbly, so serve on a plate, but they are oh so delicious! In fact I was going to take pictures, but they’ve been eaten already. I’m now forced to make more so you can see how delicious they are. Poor me!

What’s your favorite beat the heat desert? Have you used the microwave to bake before? What about the crock-pot? It does a wonderful dense cake and keeps your kitchen much cooler. Maybe I’ll share that next!


Filed under Gluten Free, Moonday mania, recipes, Writer's Journey

Marigold and Dandelion Eggs to Celebrate Spring

Thursdays Bite

a paranormal blog

It’s spring, and with Easter coming up I thought it was time for another recipe from A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook, by Patricia Telesco. Ostarra is the holiday most Wiccans celebrate at this time and it has much to do with fertility, hence the symbolism that has carried over into Easter with the eggs and bunnies, and of course, re-birth.

Oh, and I included the variation below with similar magical foods for those of us with no marigolds or dandelions this early in a snowy spring!

a kitchen witch's cookbook by patricia telescoMarigold and Dandelion Eggs (Medieval France)

The marigold is said to be one of the flowers which gives forth small bursts of light, usually near twilight on clear days, like a beacon or flash of insight. In the language of flowers, dandelions are ancient oracles. they are also high in vitamin C. make certain the dandelions you use are free of pesticides.

  • 4 whole dandelion buds
  • 2 tbls butter
  • 2 marigold blossoms, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Pick the dandelion buds when they are just about to open. Melt the butter in a frying pan over low heat. Sauté the dandelions until they open wide. Beat the marigold, eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Pour over the dandelions, which will poke through. cover: cook over low heat until the egg is set and dry on top. Fold in half. Yield: 2 servings

Variation: For the same magical results without the flowers, substitute 1 cup diced cashews, 1/4 tsp orange rind, and 1/4 cup diced, peeled oranges.

Magical attributes: Sun magic, positive outcomes in legal matters, prophesy, simple joys

Celebrations: Spring and summer festivals, Birthday of the Sun, Samhain, Candlemas, Sun Dance

taken from A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook, by Patricia Telesco, Llewellyn Publishing, 1994

Rituals of Celebrations by Jane MeredithInterested in other Wiccan Celebrations? Check out Rituals of Celebrations, by Jane Meredith.  Lewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac and Seasons of the Sacred Earth, by Cliff Seruntine.seasons of the sacred earth by cliff seruntine

Llewellyn's Sabbats Almanac

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Filed under Magic, recipes, Thursdays Bite, witches

The Darkest Night

Yule Celebration 2012

yule wreath

This Thursdays Bite we are planning for Friday, December 21st, the Winter Solstice, or Yule. The shortest day of the year and the advent of the zombie apocalypse.  (Just kidding!) Yule is the time  we pull our loved ones close and linger around the fire. The time for celebrating the re-birth of the sun and thinking about what we’d like to get rid of in our lives and what we’d like to keep.

Yule is also a great time to look back at the year and ruminate about what went well, and what we could be doing differently. When the new day dawns and the days get longer, how will you be spending your hours?

This year I’ll be frittering away a child free weekend with my husband. Yep, a little early Christmas present for both of us. And boy do we need it. This has been a stressful fall and winter, and it’s not because our zombie preparedness kit is incomplete. ( I need a portable water filtration system. Maybe Santa will bring one.) I also have started looking at next year’s goals and analyzing what the heck went wrong with my goals this year. I have a pretty good idea that it was all my family stuff interfering and plan to just tell everyone in 2013 to “Go away! I’m writing!)

Okay, we’ll see how that works.

I do have some fun things lined up already for the New Year. I’m taking a class on the ins and outs of self-publishing. I’m too nervous to dip my toe into that pond without some cold hard facts and some hand holding so the class on Author EMS by Amy Atwell and Kelli Finger looks perfect. It promises to teach me enough about the whole shebang to figure out if it’s just too much work, or if it’s something I want to do. Definitely an interesting start to the New Year.

The other class I am taking is not such a fun one, but it’s necessary. It’s Taxes For Writers and it’s on the Colorado Romance Writers site HERE. I’m moderating that one, so  I’ll have to get on the loop every day. That’s one way to make sure you actually participate in a class. Not that it won’t be a good class, but taxes are not my forte. I have to confess. I haven’t done taxes since I got married. Yes, it’s a June and Ward relationship. Jeff does the taxes and I stay home and write. I’m not complaining, no way!

Just for fun, while you’re thinking about your year and clearing out the old to make way for the new, here is a recipe to celebrate on Friday. Something fun to do with your sweetie or the kids or just by yourself while you watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

What do you do on the Winter Solstice? Do you celebrate the dark and the return of the light? Do you take the time to analyze the year, or do you save that for New Year’s Day? What about baking? If ginger bread cookies are not your thing and you would like some delicious recipes check out the Holiday Yum Recipes on More Cowbell.

From the Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook: “Make gingerbread cookies both for yourself and for your tree spirits to encourage the return of the sun.”

Magical Colors:  Green (Growth, prosperity, faith and health) and Red (strength, courage, vitality, fire)

Now let’s do what any good kitchen witch would do and combine these magical ideas and make iced ginger cookies. Ginger ( health, cleansing, vibrant energy and zeal) is a sunny warm flavor perfect for summoning the light and banishing the dark during the cold winter months.

Rolled Gingerbread Men (and Women!)

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molassas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbl vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking pwder
  • 1/2 tso baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves

Beat shortening, add half the flour and all the rest of the ingredients- beating between each addition. Once thoroughly  mixed, beat in the rest of the flour. Cover and chill until workable (approx 3 hours). Roll out 1/4 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Cut a small hole in the top of each cookie. Bake 375° for 5-6 minutes. Don’t over bake. Cool on cookie sheet and decorate. Tie ribbon through the top and hang on the tree.

If, for some strange reason, you would like your icing to actually be hard because you expect your cookies to last on your tree. Be sure to use Royal Icing. And, to avoid the Solstice Sickies, use powdered egg whites in your icing. This will take care of the salmonella question.

I want to thank everyone who dropped by for the Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop. I met a ton of new people and we gave away some great prizes. Congratulations to AJCraig for winning my e-copy of Little Red Riding Wolf. Grand Prize winners listed HERE.


Filed under Magic, recipes, Thursdays Bite

Love in a Jar

Thursdays Bite

(in a big way)

Fall is here, and so is harvest time. I don’t know if it’s the drought or if it’s just one of those years, but this is the year everyone’s fruit trees bore amazing bumper crops. Even my MIL’s nectarine tree that we’ve been making fun of for years out-did itself. From one scraggly fruit every three or four years to this year’s so-much-fruit-we-couldn’t-pick-it-all, that tree gave it’s all. We’re not expecting another nectarine, ever.

a kitchen witchs cookbook by patricia telescoAnd since this is Thursdays Bite, today I’m sharing Pagan harvest recipes from the Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook byPatricia Telesco. If you are interested in easy ways to add magic to your life or just use some very unusual recipes, this is a terrific book. Kitchen magic is everyday magic that mothers and grandmothers have been using for a long time. If you’ve ever made cookies to heal broken hearts or brewed up soul strengthening chicken soup- you too have used kitchen magic.

One major tip for a magical kitchen:

Keep it clean. Before cooking a magical recipe you want to be sure you cleanse your kitchen. Use something basic, like vinegar in a spray bottle of water, center yourself, and then clean away with a cleansing attitude. Waft some sage in the air and you are good to go. Starting with a fresh clean counter is not only good for your health, but  it will ensure your magic in your recipe stays true.

This is especially true when canning. Follow all canning rules. Lots of boiling hot water and a very clean kitchen make for lovely jars to open later, or to give as gifts during the holiday season. And check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation for tips on canning and preserving.

Quote from the A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook:

The primary objective for canning and preserving has been, until recent years, as a means to supplement porvisions during times of scarcity. Today, we preserve as a way of using extra foods, and their potency, for a rainy day! There will be creations such as “Mary’s Strawberry Syrup for Love,” and “Aunt Jane’s Protective Pickles” (heavy on the garlic), and “Sight Sauce” neatly lined up alongside other foods. The added bonus here is that your magical energy is already prepared and ready for any tine you need it, with nothing extra to do but oopen the jar. These goodies also make lovely gift ideas. It is interesting to note that Hermes, the Greek God of communication, is attriguted with teaching humanity about “hermetically” sealing items. he becomes an appropriate patron deity for kitchen withces during their magical canning and preserving efforts.

For some odd reason my parents occasionally canned chutneys over my lifetime. I’m not sure why, but every once in a while they would get together, go on a shopping spree, and spend a day in the kitchen peeling, seeding and chopping. Then, that Christmas, they would present the family with beautiful jeweled jars of chutney. Now, since my parents are one of those successful love stories (they’ve been married for 57 years), maybe there is love to be found in a jar of chutney.

New England Fruit Chutney for Lovers

In some form or another, each fruti and spice in theis recipe can be used to woo and tempt love. The vinegar and salt add precision and extra energy to guide your magic towards its goal.

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 large apples, peeled and chopped
  • 4-5 apricots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 large pears, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 2 oranges, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • Rind of 2 oranges, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of grated lemon rind
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger root
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cider vinegar plus 1/2 cup
  • 3 cups packed brown sugar

Jessica’s note:(For canning method instructions, please see the National Center for Home Food Preservation)

Place the onions, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, oranges, orange rind, lemon rind, raisins, ginger root, garlic, nutmeg , allspice, cinnamon, salt and 2 cups of the vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil: stir regularly. Reduce heat; simmer for 1½ hours. Make sure all the fruits are evenly cooked. Stir in the sugar and remaining vinegar; simmer 1 hour.

Fill jars; leave ½-inch headspace. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Age in a dark place for at least 8 weeks before serving. This chutney is very pleasing with cheese breads and baguettes. The bread can be cut into the shape of hearts before serving. Yield: About 7 half-pints.

Magical attributes: The energy of romance, clarity of love, youthful vigor and idealism.

Elaine Cougler's Chutney Jars

Elaine Cougler made chutney. Yummy!

If any of you make the chutney, please let me know how it turns out. I do love chutney, but you can see why I have never even attempted it. My forays into canning have been mostly failed jams and a bumper crop of alcoholic peaches! Yum!

Have you ever tried a magical recipe? Stirred some love into oatmeal cookies, or tried to entice a beau with pecan pie? Share your stories with me, canning attempts and all!


Filed under About the Author, Magic, recipes, Thursdays Bite