Archive for the 'Recipes' Category

Giving up chocolate for Lent
by Jessa Slade on March 29th, 2010

Currently working on: Freedom from cocoa tyranny
Mood: Libre!

So I’m giving up chocolate for Lent.  As I’ve mentioned on this blog once or twice before, I’m addicted to buckets of double chocolate cookie dough. 


Eight pounds of cookie dough every month was starting to seem a little… excessive, which is not to say OBSESSIVE.  And, really, what better time of year to give up chocolate than the Easter season?


I mean, I have a perfectly fine imagination on my own.  It’s not like romance writers NEED chocolate to be inspired.


There are lots of ways to say “I love you” that don’t include theobromine.


Sure, Godiva has furnite made of chocolate.  But I didn’t make that bed, so I won’t lie in it.  Even if it would be awfully convenient from a snacking standpoint.


Think of all the time I’ll save not mixing up incredibly difficult desserts that are huge hits at picnics like the following:

  • Cheap box of brownie mix (recommend Duncan Hines family size prepared to “fudgy” directions in 13×9 pan)
  • Minty middle: Beat together 3 Tbl soft butter, 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp pure mint extract, 2 Tbl milk
  • Chocolate top: 2 Tbl butter & 3/4 cup decent chocolate (recommend Trader Joe’s 1 pound bittersweet block — did I mention that buying chocolate by the pound is probably an indication of a problem?)

Nope, instead, I can sleep well knowing I’ve beaten my chocolate addiction.  Maybe it’ll be a bed of chocolate.  Yum….



Shamelessly Embracing My Sweet Tooth
by Our Guest on November 20th, 2008
Hello, I’m Allison and I’m a chocohalic. Actually, I’m hopelessly addicted to anything sweet, and what’s more, I have totally embraced my addictions and have no desire whatsoever to be cured.
So there. Take THAT nutritionists and health food nuts! I WILL consume dark chocolate truffles and raisinetts and snack on sugary cereals and drink hot chocolate and triple mocha peppermint latte and…oh, jeeze, Allison, take a breath…it’s a little too early for this…
I’m ok. But seriously, having said that, I will issue this disclaimer: I can indulge because I do have a fair amount of self-control. All those lovely treats I just mentioned are reserved for just that – treats, part of my little reward system and not what I rely on to get me through a day of writing. I’ll have ONE dark chocolate truffle, a few raisinettes. A couple of lattes per week. 
As far as preparing food goes, it isn’t what I make but what I don’t make that gets me through a deadline. As I was finishing up Dark Temptation last spring, my real life modern day warrior hero was not only willing to do the shopping, he’d cook, serve and clean up afterward, along with our very understanding daughter. And I’m not talking pizza and frozen food. Nooooo. The man is a wizard with a barbecue. Give him a piece of fish, some fresh veggies, a can of Old Bay and some aluminum foil, and he will create a culinary delight worthy of any fine restaurant. What a guy — I’m keepin’ him. As I said, he’s my hero, and he keeps us alive and well-nourished through any deadline emergency — and aren’t they all emergencies?
But not to leave you facing the holiday season without something sweet, warm and wonderful — odd though, it isn’t chocolate. This is what I call my “New World Wassail,” and it’s just perfect for relaxing and being cozy on chilly winter nights. Where I live, we like to light the tikki torches, get a little blaze going in the chiminea, grab a sweater and sip our wassail poolside.
Allison’s New World Wassail:
1 quart apple cider
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 to 1/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you want this)
sliced oranges
optional but highly recommended: rum
Heat all ingredients to boiling, then cover and simmer 20 minutes. Strain. I usually return it to the pot and set the burner to the lowest setting to keep it warm. Float the oranges on top. Now, here’s where the “New World” part comes in. Traditionally, English wassail would have been made with port or ale. This being America, lol, I add a dash of rum to each serving, sit back and enjoy – the perfect end to a busy holiday! 
Some like it slow
by Sharon Ashwood on November 19th, 2008

Speaking as someone who turned out a book called RAVENOUS, it’s pretty clear I have a welcoming attitude toward food. I’m not a picky eater. I like it all.


One of the things catching my interest right now is the slow food movement. No, this has nothing to do with lazy vampires, geriatric werewolves, or zombies in need of arch supports.


In case you haven’t heard of it, slow food is the opposite of fast food: fresh, locally grown, home cooked, and enjoyed for its quality rather than its convenience. It exists alongside ideas like the hundred mile diet, organic food philosophies, and supporting the small local producers and community markets. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area of the Pacific Northwest that’s rich in farmland and wineries and that has a selection of world-class restaurants invested in promoting agri-tourism—which could be defined as “come visit and stuff your face till you drop”.


What does this have to do with writing?  Slow food makes a better author.  While I’m right in there with the “loves chocolate” brigade, for me there’s a price attached to that sweet indulgence:  word count.


This is a sad state of affairs for someone addicted to Hawkins Cheezies and who loves her glass of chardonnay, but garbage in, garbage out. When production counts, I have to avoid the junk snack aisle because sugar, salt, and preservatives make me groggy and (even more) stupid. It’s a hard-won lesson, but if I want to indulge in a not-so-virtuous treat, I have to wait until I’ve done my work for the day.


How very boring. Of course, nothing prevents me from eating well except my own unwillingness to tear my fingers from the keyboard and rejoin planet earth. I love to cook, so I really have no excuse. Here’s a recipe I’ve had for years that I absolutely love. For “slow food” it takes hardly any time to prepare:


Bunny soup (no, we’re not cooking Bugs)




Cook until soft:


2 lbs carrots, scrubbed and chopped

1 potato

Pinch salt

4 cups of stock or water


Saute in olive oil:


1 small chopped onion

Crush garlic (about a teaspoon)

1 tsp grated ginger

Handful of chopped cashews


Add sauted mixture to carrots and put the whole thing through a blender (or use a hand blender) to make a smooth texture. Whisk in


one cup of yogurt

dash of sherry


 and heat through. Garnish with more cashews.






Food for thought…or just for eating
by Annette McCleave on November 18th, 2008

Favorite writing foods. Hmmm.

Let’s be really clear: I don’t cook. For many years there was a running joke in my house that I could burn Jello. I’ve certainly ruined Kraft Dinner. Yeah, don’t ask. Just put it down to a mind that can bury itself so deep in a story that the real world ceases to exist for a while. Long enough, apparently, for food to burn and KD to turn into gray mush.

Right. Now that I’ve instilled you with confidence, I’m going to share my favorite recipes.

I’ll point out, for the sake of the faint-hearted, that these are my mother’s recipes, which I follow to the letter. Creativity with words? Got that. Creativity with spices? Uh, no. I learned early on not to experiment.

My all-time favorite food for Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie. Here’s how my mom makes hers:

2 nine-inch unbaked pie shells (my mom made her own pastry, but I skip that part and go right to the frozen food section of the grocery store)
1 large can of pumpkin puree
1 ¼ cups of brown sugar (packed)
2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 tsp ginger
2/3 tsp mace
2/3 tsp nutmeg
2/3 tsp salt
4 eggs (separated)

In large bowl, beat the egg yolks; blend in the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, salt, mace, ginger and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy, then fold them into the pumpkin mixture. Pour into pie shells.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Bake until the pastry is golden and a knife inserted into centre comes out clean. Let them cool on a rack.

Then dig in. Smother your piece of pie in whipped cream or eat it plain. Whatever works for you. The best part of this recipe is how light and fluffy the egg whites make the pie. Yum.

My other favorite recipe for cool autumn weather is rice pudding. Try this one:

½ cup of short grain rice
1 cup of boiling water
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
4 cups of milk
1 cup 18% table cream (what, you thought this was low cal?)
½ tsp nutmeg
½ cup of raisins
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cinnamon

In a large saucepan, cook the rice in the boiling water until the water is absorbed. Feel free to cook yours in a steamer if you prefer, but you’ll need to transfer the rice to a saucepan to complete the recipe.

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Then whisk in a cup of the milk and stir until smooth. Add the sugar mixture, along with the rest of the milk and the cream to the saucepan with the rice. Mix well. Add the nutmeg and the raisins.

Stirring steadily, bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to the barest simmer and stir occasionally. Cook 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until very creamy.

Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Remove the pudding from the heat. Whisk a little of the pudding into the egg yolks, then add the egg yolk mixture to the rest of the pudding. Put the pudding back on the stove and cook for an additional minute. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and butter. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.

I swear, even if you don’t usually like rice pudding, you’ll love this. You can eat it hot or cold.


Get ‘em while they’re hot
by Jessa Slade on November 17th, 2008

Currently working on: Book 2
Wherein our heroine refers somewhat rudely to the hero’s “little dragon.”
Mood: Snickery

In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving feast day and the more-or-less middle of National Novel Writing Month, our topic this week is “Favorite Writing Foods: The Recipes That Get Us Through “That Time” of the Month.” (That time meaning, first drafts, revisions, holidays, copy edits or other public events where we are expected to perform like fuctioning members of society.)

So here’s my writing recipe:

  • Open bucket.
  • Heft spoon.
  • Bake if desired.

Yes, it is here, for the first time, that I will publicly reveal the secret of writing 50,000 words in a month: Bucket o’ cookie dough.


The small heart symbol on the label doesn’t actually say “perfect for romance writers”; it says zero grams of trans-fats. So bucket o’ cookie dough is good for you. Also I am in no way implying that the authors whose book spines appear beside this bucket are similarly inspired by chocolate. But I wouldn’t doubt it.

Preparing for my first NaNo years ago, I realized 1666.666 repeating words wouldn’t get written every day on inspiration alone. No, to achieve such a monumental goal I’d need chocolate. In a quick, convenient and plentitudinous form.

In loving support of my writing dream, my sweetie brought me English Bay Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough from a restaurant supply company he frequents for work. He has since come to regret introducing me to the bucket o’ cookie dough.

The 8 lb. bucket (they call it a pail, as if that somehow negates the mental image of a mid-NaNo writer with her head buried shoulder-deep in said bucket) provides enough cookies for breakfast  a writing session pick-me-up for the entire month. If you do the math (and I have), it comes to about ½ ounce of cookie dough per page. A mere .003 oz per word. Which, according to Yahoo Answers, is the weight of the average raindrop. (Not in the Pacific Northwest, of course, where the average raindrop weighs about the same as the entire bucket o’ cookie dough.)

Considering that my understanding of ounces in the English measurement system is based primarily upon an ounce of cocaine from the ‘80s TV show Miami Vice, I don’t think that four ounces of cookie dough to achieve my required eight pages per day is an unreasonable evil. At least addiction to cookie dough doesn’t somehow force me to wear pastels, boat shoes and oversized sunglasses.

Based on its weight of approximately one ounce and my average word count of 210 words per page, this cookie represents 420 words, my dears.  To continue the drug references.

Based on its weight of approximately one ounce and my average word count of 210 words per page, this cookie represents 420 words, my dears. To continue the drug references.

Wait? What do you mean opening a bucket o’ cookie dough doesn’t count as a recipe? Fine. If you MUST bake something for Thanksgiving just to prove to your friends and family that you are a Superwoman who can pull off 50K words PLUS a tasty baked good, I recommend The Cake Mix Doctor.  Frost any of her creations with melted Dagoba chips, and I promise you will sucker those friends and relatives into believing you actually dirtied measuring cups and spoons and such to grace them with your creation this Thanksgiving.

What? Lying about your baking mastery isn’t cool? We’re fiction writers, people. We’re EXPECTED to exaggerate. All right already. Here’s a real recipe. But it contains raw eggs. So if your friends and family who couldn’t be satisfied with buckets and box mixes get salmonella and ends up confined to bed while you finish your 50,000 words, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

French Silk Chocolate Pie
1 cup butter
1½ cups sugar
4 oz unsweeted chocolate (Dagoba!), melted and cooled
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 baked 9-inch pie shell, cooled
Whipped cream

1. Beat the butter with the sugar until very well blended. The mixture should be smooth, fluffy and pale yellow. (Jessa’s note: No really, follow the directions. Crunchy sugar butter is very yummy, but you want this smooth. Using super-fine baking sugar can help this process and then just keep beating. Hmm, kinda like revisions).
2. Blend in the chocolate and the vanilla. (Lick the chocolate bowl. That Dagoba isn’t cheap.)
3. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat in the eggs, on at a time, taking 5 minutes to incorporate each. (5 minutes is longer than you think so use an egg timer. Unless you’re doing timed writing, and then 5 minutes takes for flippin’ ever.)
4. Turn the mixture into the pie shell and chill for several hours. (Do I have to remind you to lick the bowl?)
5. Decorate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. (Dagoba!)

Meanwhile, if English Bay would like to be my corporate sponsor (I’m imagining a banner waving gently behind me at book signings… or possibly a sweeeet zippy sportscar in a rich two-toned bronze tricked out with a built-in toaster oven and emblazoned with my name, my latest book cover, and the image of a mystery-eyed bare-chested man holding out a plate of three cookies) I can be reached here at Silk And Shadows every Monday.