Holiday Recipes: Yum!

With the holidays coming around, I’ve been thinking a lot about food (although I kind of do that all year round). So, for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to share a few delicious recipes for the occasion – although really you can make them all year round. Still, what can I say, turkey is a Thanksgiving staple.

So first off, let’s talk turkey. This recipe is from Taste of Home (with a few modifications) and is a turkey breast, although I’m sure the basting sauce can be used for a whole turkey too. I love this recipe because the meat stays so juicy.

turkeyHerbed Turkey Breast
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bone-in whole turkey breast (5-1/2 to 6 lbs.)

In a small saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Place turkey on a hot grill (with charcoal spread around the outside of the grill for indirect heat). Please note that you can bake this turkey, but grilling adds an amazing flavor. Baste with butter mixture. Grill for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees, basting every 30 minutes. Yields 10-12 servings.

Now for a side. I realize potatoes and stuffing are the norm, but this rice dish (also from Taste of Home, with a few modifications) is so good, I think it would be a great side with the turkey. Ha! Can you tell how much I use this recipe-the picture is all wrinkled.

rice bake






Mushroom Oven Rice

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) chicken broth
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

In a skillet, saute the rice in butter for two minutes or until golden brown. Add onion; cook and stir for two minutes. Add mushrooms; cook and stir until tender. Transfer to a greased 1-1/2 qt. baking dish. Stir in the broth, water, soy sauce, and parsley. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Yield: 6 servings.

I was born and raised in north central Wisconsin, where the celebration drink of choice is an old fashioned (or at least it was when I was growing up). I didn’t have a picture, so my husband made one for me for that purpose, and I couldn’t let it go to waste. Hee. Hee. What a hardship. Note: This is not the same fruity old fashioned drink that is found in other states.

old fashionedOld Fashioned Brandy Sour

1 shot of brandy
a few spritzes of bitters
lemon-lime soda


In Wisconsin, an old fashioned can also be made with whiskey instead of brandy, and there is a version known as an old fashioned sweet, in which cherry syrup/grenadine is used in place of bitters.

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do, but no matter what we eat, let’s all savor our time spent with family and friends. After all, that’s really what the holidays are all about.

If you’re not a subscriber to my newsletter, be sure to sign up by clicking on the button in the sidebar. I’m giving away author signed books – one winner every month. In December, I’ll be giving away paperback copies of:

The Tattooed DukeThe Scottish WitchHis Clockwork Canary





So be sure to take part. And congratulations to November’s winner:
Jen Brown! Congratulations, Jen!


How Once Upon a Masquerade Came to Be:

About five years ago, the Romantic Times Book Reviews magazine held a writing contest called the American Title V. Based on the television show American Idol, the competition called for unpublished writers to submit their work. Editors from Dorchester Publishing decided who would participate, then every month, excerpts would be posted and readers voted who would stay and who would go.

I was one of eight finalists, and strangely enough, my critique partner, Barbara Longley was another. What I found out was…while this contest started out judging our skills as writers, it ended as a test of marketing and promotion skills. And I began with none.


At the time, I used no social media, and only my closest friends and relatives even knew I’d written a book. That changed quickly. Soon I’d politely informed my dentist, my hair stylist, my doctor, my vet, and all my neighbors that I needed their help, bad. The winner of this contest would have their book published by Dorchester publishing, and I really wanted that to be me.

Sadly, I am a huge introvert. Approaching strangers and asking for their votes was highly stressful for me. But I did it anyway, and I made it through round after round, somehow managing to get enough votes to stay in the competition until there were just two of us.

After six months of promoting myself like a crazy woman, I’d reached the light at the end of the tunnel. And although I still hated the marketing aspect, I had expanded my reach. I was on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and many more sites. I’d also reached out to newspapers, radio, and television. (Kind of cool – I was on two radio shows, the local news, and a local TV talk show).

I learned a lot about myself as a person along the way too. I had drawn a line in the marketing sand that I wasn’t willing to step over, which is maybe why I lost. After all was said and done, Once Upon a Masquerade came in second place. I had tried my best, and even had gotten it into my head that I was going to win. So finding out I hadn’t was a blow, especially since there were no prizes for second place, just a congratulations for making it this far and thanks for playing.

Okay, I’m making this sound way too depressing when the truth is that I grew as a person from the experience, and I made a lot of friends along the way – people who cheered me on and boosted me up. Entangled eventually made an offer on this book, and have been a godsend. Through them, all those who rooted me on and voted for the book now have a chance to read it, which for me is about as satisfying as it gets.


Quick public service announcement:

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter by clicking on the Subscribe button in the side bar BECAUSE… once a month for the next several months I’ll be giving away author signed books.

In November, one lucky winner will get the following:

What happens in London sm If the slipper fits sm Thornbrook Park sm

Happy Halloween!

Welcome! And Happy Halloween!

First off, congratulations to Linda Townsend, who won a super cute backpack that I gave away for the Wicked Entangled Blog Hop!

Next I’d like to encourage you to sign up for my newsletter by clicking on the Subscribe button in the side bar BECAUSE… once a month for the next several months I’ll be giving away author signed books.

In November, one lucky winner will get the following:

What happens in London sm If the slipper fits sm Thornbrook Park sm

Now back to the business of celebrating!

Halloween is such a fun holiday, filled with trick-or-treaters, scary movies, and well, candy. It’s also the only time of year I make certain foods. I don’t know why I limit myself to only once a year. Maybe because that’s what makes Halloween so special. So, I thought I’d share with you a couple of treats I like to make.

First up: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (My mom roasted pumpkin seeds as far back as I can remember, and my kids just love them.)

pumpkin seeds 2Ingredients:
pumpkin seeds (rinsed and air dried – this can take several hours), oil, and salt

Once the seeds are dried, drizzle oil over them, and mix to coat. Lay out a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes (times may vary depending on the oven).

Secondly, I thought I’d share a non-alcoholic drink my youngest likes to make every year. This recipe is from a small Halloween cookbook similar to that found on

Candy Corn Shots:

Candy Corn ShotsIngredients:
Decorative sugar sprinkles in yellow, orange, and/or white
1 to 3 tubes (0.6 oz. each) decorating gell (white, yellow, and/or orange)
4-6 clear shot glasses
2 lg. scoops orange sherbet (about 1 cup)
1 cup milk
2 Tbls. Frozen orange juice concentrate

Place decorative sprinkles in a small bowl. Squeeze gel along rim of each glass and dip into sprinkles. Set aside. Place sherbet, milk, and orange juice concentrate in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into prepared glasses. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6.

Lastly, I love trying new things, so how about a Vampire Kiss Martini, courtesy of

Cocktails - 2014Ingredients:
1-1/2 oz. vodka
1-1/2 oz. champagne
3/4 oz. Chambord black raspberry liqueur
Red sugar for rimming

Rim the glass with red sugar. Pour vodka and half the Chambord in a martini glass. Top with champagne. Pour the rest of the Chambord over the back of a spoon to make it float. Drink and enjoy. Yield: 1 glass.

Mmm. Sounds so good. Makes me want to mix one up right now! Cheers!