Tag Archive | Holidays

Irish Beef Stew by Tricia Andersen

From Christina: Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Usually I fix the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal…but this year, I wanted to be a little different. Fortunately, author Tricia Andersen stepped in to offer her recipe for Irish Beef Stew. This is what we’ll be having on the 17th! I wanted to share it here a few days ahead of the holiday so that you’ll have time to do a bit of grocery shopping too if you’d like to serve this for your family and friends.

 

Irish Beef Stew Recipe

Since both my husband and I are both part Irish, St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal in our house.  I get a little crazy and try to make a special dinner for my family.  A couple of years ago I found this Irish Beef Stew Recipe on AllRecipes.com.  I hope it’s a hit with your family like it is with mine!

Quick note from Christina: The recipe calls for stout beer. Since no one in our family imbibes, I’m planning to substitute beef broth with maybe a pinch of ginger and/or Worcestershire sauce.  Below the recipe I’ve included an “alcohol substitution” link.  

Beef StewIngredients

Original recipe makes 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 white onion, cut into large chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups beef broth

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle Irish stout beer (e.g. Guinness®)

1 tablespoon cold water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

 

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Toss beef cubes with flour to coat, then fry in the hot oil until browned. Place the carrots, potatoes, onion and garlic in a large slow cooker. Place the meat on top of the vegetables. Mix together the beef broth and tomato paste and pour into the slow cooker along with the beer.

Cover and cook on High for 6 hours or Low for 8 hours. During the last hour before serving, dissolve the cornstarch in cold water and then stir into the broth. Simmer on the High setting for a few minutes to thicken.

 Alcohol Substitutes for Cooking

 

It’s That Time of Year by Charlene Roberts

From Christina: I loved reading Charlene’s thoughts about the Christmas season. I, too, miss some of the “old-fashioned” celebrations. Maybe we can bring them back!

 

It’s That Time of Year

by Charlene Roberts

Oh, it’s that time of year!  Festivities, friends, family and fun!

Charlene 1

I have to admit, as much as I don’t like the over-zealous Christmas commercialization (I mean really; Christmas songs and advertisements right after Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween? In October?), I do feel that extra bit of excitement when the first snowflakes are flying through the air.

I wish sometimes that Christmas was celebrated the old-fashioned way—visiting neighbors, buying gifts that meant something and treating it as the cherished holiday that it is. Call me old, I don’t care—I miss the friendliness of strangers yelling “Merry Christmas!” as they scurried hither and yon, looking for that perfect gift. It doesn’t happen as much as it used to.

I also like to spend the holidays reflecting on what has happened in the past year and what I can do to make the next year better, for myself and for others. I also use the time to think of goals; I don’t wait until the New Year (I’m sort of like Santa; making a list and checking it twice). Besides life goals (weight loss, work already!), I also like to work on my writing goals; I’m a slow writer, so having a rough outline of what I would like to accomplish for the next year helps to keep me on track.Charlene 2

But Christmas should be fun time! Whether it’s watching television shows (Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Carol), going out to admire the Christmas decorations, or attending church) or honoring the season in your own special way, please enjoy yourself (hey, if you’re one of the lucky ones like me, that’s five days off work—whoo hoo!!) 🙂

Charlene Roberts is an active member of the Romance Writers of America. She lives in Toronto, Canada.  She’s been a model, and has also worked in the film, consulting, and insurance agencies.

Charlene says she likes for her heroes to be a little unpredictable, and she loves when plans come together. Be sure to check out her latest release, Festive Persuasion, a Christmas novella available from Ellora’s Cave.

 

 

Happy Holidays from Time for Love

With Thanksgiving now behind us, winter is settling in. As I write this, it’s sleeting a bit outside my window, and we have patches of snow and ice on the ground. Our neighbors to the south in Oklahoma and Texas are digging out, and snow storms are hitting the east coast.  I haven’t been following the weather too closely, but I’m guessing the mountains in the west are probably dressed in “winter white” as well.

I don’t like winter. It’s cold. It’s gloomy. Everything seems more difficult to do with snow on the ground, ice in the air, and chill winds that leave us shivering and shaking. At least, that’s how it is here in the midwest. If you’re one of those folks basking in the warmth and sunlight of Arizona, California, or Florida…well, just smile and keep quiet.

The only good thing about winter is how nice it feels to stay inside, to curl up in front of the fireplace, to spend time with friends and family. The winter months are so dreary, I think maybe that’s why we’ve made it a time for holiday cheer.

Swno Winter

Bright ribbons and bows. Christmas trees. Candles glowing. Fruits, nuts, cookies, and candies.  These are traditions for many families. Others think of dreidels, potato latkes, and applesauce. Those who celebrate Kwanzaa turn their thoughts to the Nguzo Saba, or “Seven Principles”, with colorful candles, unity cups, and mkekas. 

We can learn much from sharing our holiday traditions, and in coming weeks many different romance authors will be dropping by with memories of winter holidays.

Sabrina Garie will be bringing a few tasty “hot drinks” with her — recipes included. Mae Clair, Ashley Nemer, Charlene Roberts, and Holly Jody Gill are also among the authors who are taking time from their busy holiday schedules to share a few thoughts here at Time for Love.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone the best during this holiday season. Stay warm! Stay well! May the love in your heart light the way for others.

– From Christina –

Be Thankful by Tori James

From Christina: Today, I’m very thankful to share this wonderful post from author Tori James. It’s a special day for me — a sad one in many ways, but a day of honor, as well. My younger sister passed away several years ago. Her birthday was November 21, and even though she’s no longer here with us to celebrate, I still want to honor her memory. I miss her, and I’m grateful for the love and friendship she gave to me — and to everyone she met. Jan would have loved Tori’s post about being thankful.

Be Thankful

By Tori James

I think about Thanksgivings past and how, especially when I was younger, to be so grateful for the things I had, the people in my life. It’s easy to be grateful for all the good, easy and wonderful bits but as I’ve grown older (maybe even a bit wiser? Jury is still kind of out on that one, honestly), I’ve learned to be thankful for the whole of it, the big ball of crazy that is my life.

Thankful

I’m thankful for the bad days, they show me who  I am, what I’m made of and what I can conquer.

I’m thankful for the rain because it cleanses, washes away the dirt, the shadows, and that first peek of sunlight after a good storm is breathtaking.

I’m thankful for my enemies, they mean as much to me as my friends. They tend to show me that which I don’t wish to become and make the sweet sincerity of my friends more meaningful.

I’m thankful for the days where pain stings because I’m  a warrior at heart and it reminds me that nothing can keep you down. If life knocks you, you come up swinging.

Thankfulness is more about recogizing the teensy miracles that happen in our ordinary, every day lives. On the comical side, I’m thankful I wake up. Thankful someone brewed the coffee I need to survive. I’m bloody thankful that chocolate exists or things would be sketchy at best. I’m far from being a beauty queen but I am thankful for my face, my form. Even my freckles. All my flaws. Because they make me…me. And despite it all, there is no one else I’d like to be.

My life is full of blessings, large and small. Every day is a gift and every day I wake up, there is just more to appreciate, both in myself and others, in the world.

When we stop seeing the simple miracles; a child’s laugh, our fave song playing on the radio, the fact that Starbucks has finally started serving Holiday Drinks (Caramel Brulee Latte….how I love thee!) or the fact we are able to pay the bills on time (mostly), that’s when we start taking things for granted.

So this year, I’m beyond blessed and I know it. I’ve had my share of both good and bad happenings and events in the last 365 days but there is not a single moment that I wasn’t learning, reaching, growing and living. Rising up to my challenges, meeting new people and making my own lil mark on the world. There is thankfulness and joy to be found everywhere, every way…every day.

Happy Gobble Gobble to one and all!

STT

 

Torie James has loved reading since she was old enough to hold a book in her lap. While her friends were out playing, she was generally curled up nearby falling down rabbit holes, catching second stars to the right, and stepping through wardrobes into mysterious lands and countless adventures. When those stories ended, she made up her own and kept going. Her debut novel, a paranormal romance called Timeless Night, was released on Sept. 20th 2013 and she’s currently working on the sequel.

Readers can find Tori on Facebook as well as on her blog: Oh, the Places I Go!

 

Thanksgiving — Better than Christmas by Stacy Moran

Christmas tops the list of “favorite holidays” for many people, but not for romance writer Stacy Moran. Today, she shares a few thoughts — and a special recipe — for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving — Better than Christmas

Thanksgiving. I love it more than Christmas, and here’s why.

Thanksgiving is getting absorbed by the Christmas festivities and shopping before it ever has a chance to be truly enjoyed.

With the Christmas season coming earlier and earlier every year, Thanksgiving is becoming known more as “the day before Black Friday” than an actual holiday. Christmas is swelling to monstrous proportions, swallowing Thanksgiving. Retailers are even staying open on Thanksgiving in order to beat competition’s sales.

A holiday that is in some ways controversial, but to me is the best time of year, is disappearing.

To me Thanksgiving is about…

  1. Family
  2. Amazing Food
  3. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  4. Gone with the Wind (my family tradition)
  5. A room filled with napping people
  6. The smell of turkey and pumpkin pies
  7. The start of colder weather
  8. Charlie Brown
  9. Memories of childhood
  10. Leftovers

This year take a moment and remember your childhood, watch the parade, play football in the yard, savor Grandma’s stuffing, and just appreciate the day.

To make the day a bit easier here is my “go-to” recipe for moist turkey.

Turkey Dinner

INGREDIENTS

One Turkey, approx. 15 lbs.

Juice of a lemon

Salt and pepper

Melted butter

Tops and bottoms of a bunch of celery

2 carrots

Parsley

Sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme

METHOD

Step One

To start, if the turkey has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before cooking. Keep it in its plastic wrapping until you are ready to cook it. While in the refrigerator, and or while you are bringing it to room temp, have the bird resting in a pan, so that if the plastic covering leaks for any reason, you are confining the juices to the pan.

Handle a raw turkey with the same amount of caution as when you handle raw chicken – use a separate cutting board and utensils to avoid contaminating other foods. Wash your hands with soap before touching anything else in the kitchen. Use paper towels to clean up.

Remove the neck and giblets (heart, gizzard, liver). Use the heart and gizzard for making stock for the stuffing. The neck can be cooked alongside the turkey or saved for turkey soup. Or all of the giblets can be used for making giblet gravy.

Step Two

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Step Three

Wash out the turkey with water. Pull out any remaining feather stubs in the turkey skin. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Lather the inside of the cavity with the juice of half a lemon. Take a small handful of salt and rub all over the inside of the turkey.

Step Four

For flavor, put in inside the turkey, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery. You may need to cap the body cavity with some aluminum foil so that the stuffing doesn’t easily fall out. Close up the turkey cavity with either string (not nylon string!) or metal skewers. Make sure that the turkey’s legs are tied together, held close to the body, and tie a string around the turkey body to hold the wings in close.

Step Five

Rub either melted butter all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle salt generously all over the outside of the turkey (or have had it soaking in salt-water brine before starting this process). Sprinkle pepper over the turkey.


Step Six

Place turkey BREAST DOWN on the bottom of a rack over a sturdy roasting pan big enough to catch all the drippings. This is the main difference between the way mom makes turkey and everyone else. Cooking the turkey breast down means the skin over the breast will not get so brown. However, all of the juices from the cooking turkey will fall down into the breast while cooking. And the resulting bird will have the most succulent turkey breast imaginable.

Add several sprigs of fresh (if possible) thyme and rosemary to the outside of the turkey.

Step Seven

Chop up the turkey giblets (gizzard, heart). Put into a small saucepan, cover with water, add salt. Bring to simmer for an hour or so to help make stock for the stuffing.

Step Eight

Put the turkey in the oven. Check the cooking directions on the turkey packaging. Gourmet turkeys often don’t take as long to cook. With the turkeys mom gets, she recommends cooking time of about 15 minutes for every pound. For the 15 lb. turkey, start the cooking at 400 F for the first 1/2 hour. Then reduce the heat to 350 F for the next 2 hours. Then reduce the heat further to 225 F for the next hour to hour and a half.

If you want the breast to be browned as well, you can turn the bird over so that the breast is on top, and put it in a 500°F oven or under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, just enough to brown the breast. Note that if you do this, you will have a higher risk of overcooking the turkey breast.

Start taking temperature readings with a meat thermometer, inserted deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, an hour before the turkey should be done. You want a resulting temperature of 175°F for the dark meat (thighs and legs) and 165°F for the white meat (breast). The temperature of the bird will continue to rise once you take it out of the oven, so take it out when the temperature reading for the thigh is 170°F, and for the breast 160°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, spear the breast with a knife. The turkey juices should be clear, not pink.

Step Nine 

Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Turn the turkey breast side up to carve it.

kristin-emery-family-and-friends

Once again remember the point of the day is to enjoy and be thankful for your  family, friends, and the amazing food prepared.

About Stacy Moran: 

Stacy  was born in West Virginia but now finds herself living in Texas. She has loved writing since she wrote her first book in the first grade, The Land Without Rules. Her mother will tell you it was a brilliant piece of literature.

An author of several genres, she prefers to combine the mainstream genres of paranormal and gothic romance with elements of erotic, mythology and fantasy.

Her most recent works include, Blood Myth (The Myth Series), Sekhmet’s Revenge, The Lotus, and a series of erotic shorts,  Temptation Tuesdays. You can find her books on Amazon.

SAM

Readers can find Stacy online at her official website, at her blog, and on Facebook. 

Official Site of Stacy A. Moran

A New Journal Blog

Facebook

 

 

Halloween Memories by Charlene Roberts

From Christina: I didn’t have room to include Charlene’s entire title…LOL.  But I’ve listed it below…Mwahahahaha!!!

Halloween Memories – the SCARY ones! Mwahahaha!!

 by Charlene Roberts

Ahh, Halloween. One of my favourite times of the year. To be scared to death!

My friends think I’m nuts, and as such I have no one to keep me company for Halloween events. I enjoy them, but I’m not going by myself, are you kidding?

I have fond memories; does anyone remember a television show called “Night Stalker”? Man, that was the best scary show on TV. Honestly, I don’t know how I managed to sleep at night!

I also enjoy “Supernatural” – sure it helps that there are some cute guys on the show (hello, Sam!), but the earliest episodes were great. Hunting down the truth behind mythical and horror stories, and fighting ghosts. There was one episode with a scarecrow and sacrifices that still gives me the creeps!

So what is it about Halloween and its faithful following? All Hallows’ Eve represents the end of the harvest season and to stock up before winter sets in. it also involved lighting bonfires and rituals.

But I digress – I’m supposed to talk about why I love such a scary time of year! I think it has to do with adding a bit of scariness to an otherwise everyday life. And as October 31 represents the time when the door to the Underworld opened just enough to allow the spirits to roam the Earth, it adds another level of spookiness to an already spooky night.

So without further ado, some of my favourite Halloween memories!

 Haunted houses

Screemers in Toronto, Canada

Pic 1

This is one of the best haunted houses I’ve had the pleasure of screaming in. 6 spooky attractions, each one better than the last.

I went with a group of friends (3 girls, 4 guys)

I won’t tell you about all of them, but I’ll tell you the best:

1.   Corn field labyrinth – try running away from a psycho scarecrow!

2.   Medieval execution – warriors walk through the crowd, choosing those unlucky enough to go to the front to have their head chopped off. When the guillotine falls, the crowd is “splattered” with something, and it wasn’t water – I checked!

3.   Haunted house – we had to wait for awhile in line, but watching the girls run screaming out at the exit had my heart pumping before we went inside. There were closets with hands that reached out to grab you; a demon that followed you. A living room with a huge fireplace, and too quiet. The girls and I decided it was okay until the zombie got up from the top of the fireplace (we couldn’t see him as it was just high enough). The best was the huge room at the end. There was nothing in it except the demon, waiting for us. However he was the distraction from the cage buried in the floor filled with ghouls that shook the gate we stood on and grabbed your ankles. I have never ran so fast nor screamed so loud! But in the end, it was HUGE fun.

 Movies

I have always watched scary movies. Unfortunately, my friends think I’m crazy and won’t go with me, so I either have to find a guy friend or wait for the movie to debut on television. No way am I going to a theatre on my own!

Salem’s Lot

Picture 2

I’ve seen my share of vampire movies, but this one? It had everything;

David Soul (of the original Starsky & Hutch TV series) plays a writer who returns to his hometown to find that it is infested with vampires and with the help of several residents, systematically starts destroying them. The story sounds simple enough, but it is usually the simple things that have the greatest impact. The movie was based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, the numero uno author of horror stories. With a dark, creepy atmosphere, mysterious disappearances, spooky music and actors who played great vampires, it had it all.

I was already creeped out when the little boy who got bitten was floating in front of his brother’s bedroom window.Picture 4

But when the face of the vampire finally “popped up” onto the large TV screen it scared me so badly that I hid in the bathroom and refused to come out.  The movie was made in the late 70’s, and to this day, I can still see that vampire’s face. Picture 3

Imagine this ugly mug magnified a few times and you’ll understand why I had nightmares!

An American Werewolf in London

Picture 5

Man, what on earth possessed me to go to the theatre to see this one? Oh yeah, my friend Faith. She is the one exception to my girlfriends, and enjoys horror movies more than me. This is a woman who watched Night of the Living Dead without flinching.

Two friends are on a backpacking holiday in England. After a tense meeting with village locals, the boys take off across the moors…at night. They’re attacked by a werewolf, which leaves one friend dead and the other in hospital, who finds out the hard way that he’ll change at the next full moon. Picture 6

The transformation scenes were awesome; I managed to watch some of it through my hands that covered my face. The ruthless attacks were terrifying, and my over-active imagination had me sleeping with the lights on for the next two nights.

Imagine looking over your shoulder and seeing this little lovely coming for you.

Picture 7

There have been remakes and a sequel, but they don’t equal to the original, if I say so myself.

Rocky Horror Picture ShowThe Rocky Horror Picture Show - Logo #2

And now for something completely different….

When I had first heard about this movie, I had no interest in it. I mean, come on; a musical horror movie?

But every year, my friends would get excited about this show to the point where I had to investigate; I mean my girlfriends watched this show and told me it wasn’t scary. What’s up with that?

Picture 9

So when it finally showed on TV during Halloween I checked it out. I have never laughed so hard! The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with its dance scenes, singing and the transsexual Dr. Frank N. Furter was beyond what I had initially thought. Picture 10

I haven’t been to a theatre when this airs every year in Toronto, but the “toast” scene (throwing pieces of toast at the screen) is supposed to be a scream! (Pardon the pun)

Books

I have to admit there not many books that scare me. The best horror stories I’ve enjoyed are Stephen King’s and I find his collection of short stories are more frightening than the full length novels. I think it has to do with the idea of using ordinary little towns as backdrops and offering a “taste” of what can happen.

Picture 11

The best one I’ve read was “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” – I don’t know what it was about that book (I think it was the vampire), but short stories give just enough of a taste of a story that allows me to use my imagination to think “what else could have happened?” And then I freak myself out! lol

And there you have it – some of my fondest Halloween memories. I’ve noticed that in terms of the scare factor, the more realistic it is, the scarier it is for me.

What’s your favourite Halloween memory?

Charlene’s latest release celebrates another holiday. Festive Persuasion, a sweet Regency romance,  is now available from Ellora’s Cave. 

Harvesting Your Thoughts by Deryn Pittar

From Christina: When I first spoke to other authors about sharing a few autumn thoughts, Deryn Pittar brought up an interesting point. Not everyone is celebrating autumn. She’s a “down-under” author, so instead of chill winds and frosty nights, she’s getting ready for the warmth and renewal of spring. I invited her to share her thoughts on her own, unique “other-side-of-the-world” perspective of this time of year.

 

Harvesting Your Thoughts

by Deryn Pittar

 

In the Northern Hemisphere you’re all thinking about harvesting and battening down for the coming winter.  You have Halloween, with pumpkins hollowed out with cut faces and candles lit inside them. I believe you put these on your door steps. You’re enjoying the color of autumn, the brisk winds spreading their colorful leaves over the ground and you’re making the most of every hot sunny day that sneaks its way into autumn’s progress, lulling you with memories of summer.

When your winter storms hit we hear about them on our news, in the midst of our summer days while we sit around in the long evenings, enjoying barbeques,  and the benefits of daylight saving – except for the children who refuse to go to bed while the sun is up.

 

 

The View from Down Under

 

September and October in the Southern Hemisphere are a time of hope and growth. We hope for a nice wet spring, warm enough to make the trees blossom and the grass grow. Our palates are blessed with the crunch of freshly picked asparagus, lightly steamed, then drizzled with melted butter and garlic.

We don’t enjoy the equinox winds that sometimes blow from September till December, drying the ground, bending the trees and blasting the residents with its sharp edges, because winter is inclined to lash it tail down here, Down Under.

While you are snuggling down to write this autumn, preparing to put into words all your ideas and themes that summer activities have stopped you from doing – think of us. September October is when we dash out into the garden, plant and nurture, dreaming of a bountiful harvest.

Halloween is not very exciting down under.  An American custom, it’s still catching on. Children dress in costumes and knock on the door for treats.  Don’t ask them for a trick, they have no idea what you mean.  It’s like a begging trail. No pumpkins, but lots of witches and fearsome masks. Noses are turned up at homemade cookies, shop-bought sweets are the preferred treats. There is considerable parental resistance to this pseudo holiday.

Finding time to write in spring becomes a search for elusive minutes. Where have they gone? They’ve migrated north, to you. This is your opportunity to finish that novel, complete that poem, solve that plot hole and submit the romance you’ve rewritten three times. Grab the chance while your fellow authors, Down Under, are in the tight grasp of spring on the energy carousel.

I hope you enjoy your autumn and winter. I envy you, tucked up tight, snug inside, perhaps snowbound even, with all our spare minutes piled up in the hallway for you to use – until come April/May they wing their way south once more, for me to snaffle and devour.

Grab them, cherish them, use them well. I’ll be waiting for the leftovers!

Deryn Pittar describes herself as “a lady of advancing age, greying at the temples, and enjoying the benefits of retirement.” She enjoys words and has developed a love of Haiku, Tanka, Fibonacci and other forms of short poetry.  In addition to her poetry, she has published short fiction, two Sci Fi Romance novellas and is now working on a third. You can visit her at A Writer’s Ramblings.