Thursday, November 08, 2012


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Fun, family and eating. It can’t get any better than that. The only stress is hours of planning and cooking, but I like the scents and the warmth of a kitchen bubbling with tasty foods. I seem to wait all year for turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce. And pumpkin pie! We never have that any other time of the year and I always look forward to it. That day I don’t think about diet, fats or carbs. I just enjoy the food and it’s probably the only day of the year I do that. Bring on Thanksgiving!

We all have favorite foods. During the holidays my mom always made black cherry Jell-O salad. No one liked it but her. She made it because it was something she liked and she was the cook. I’m making a grocery list and I thought about her salad. I have her recipes in a box, those she had recipes for. I might dig it out and give it a try. I’m older and I might like it now. That’s one thing about getting older you’re willing to compromise and try new things. But the old staples will always be my favorite.

What are your favorite foods at Thanksgiving?

Don’t miss the Harts of the Rodeo series. The books make a great Christmas gift.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Tomas: Cowboy Homecoming - Dec ‘13


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Living Like Cinderella by Megan

Last month I was lucky enough to take a trip to the Biltmore mansion in North Carolina. You might be familiar with it--it was featured in the movies Richie Rich and Forrest Gump. (I need to acknowledge fellow Harlequin author Cindy Kirk for this picture from her FaceBook page as mine didn't turn out. Thanks for the loan, Cindy.)

The hiking in Tennessee and North Caroline was invigorating. Okay, sometimes my friends had to hike on without me. I admit it: I'm a flat-lander.  The trees had peaked before we arrived but the hills were still lovely with reds, golds, browns and yellows as well as the evergreens. The people were helpful and welcoming, even the sweet young man taking a traffic survey in Pisgah National Forest. They're proud of their waterfalls, to the point of having difficulty recommending which we should hike to see. Here's one lovely waterfall.

But back to the Biltmore. It was finished in 1895 for millionaire G.W. Vanderbilt, grandson of magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, the shipping baron. Despite the other tourists, I truly felt swept away into the past. I could well imagine the thrill of being asked out for a stroll through the rose garden by a handsome gentleman in a smart black suit and with a roguish twinkle in his eye. I could imagine wearing the lovely clothes, but not changing five times a day just to play croquet or eat a meal. I could easily imagine sleeping in a lush bed and dancing into the night.

The staff had begun to decorate for Christmas, a task which takes more than two weeks. I've been immersed in all things Christmas while writing Holly & Ivey: Christmas in Stilton, so I felt right at home. I was a week early for the installation of the 40' Christmas tree. I'd say "I'll see that on the next trip" but instead I'd love to visit in April to view the azalea garden in bloom. But any season in this lovely magnificent American castle is gorgeous.

That's what Cinderella's life changed to after the wedding. A man devoted to her. A lovely home, nice clothes, food, and servants. I'm sure it was a relief to live someplace not cleaned by rats and birds.  lol  I loved going back to a simpler time, which was also a harder time. The corsets alone would have killed me. The expectations of society would have been thwarted because I'm more likely to flirt with the chauffeur or the stable master than some stiff-minded rich boy. Nevertheless, it's a place of dreams.

Okay, I admit it. I fell in love with the library. GW Vanderbilt was a book collector and a reader. [sigh] And he had an indoor swimming pool! Yep. I could have been happy there, at least for a long visit.

What are some of your favorite places to visit in the US?

Megan Kelly
Santa Dear, available now

PS Blessings and prayers for my everyone affected by Superstorm Sandy and this current storm.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Comfort Food

With the devastation of Hurricane Sandy haunting the news, I’ve been thinking about how we comfort ourselves. For me, comfort food always helps.

There are several comfort foods I crave, most of them oozing fat and carbs.

These are some of my favorites:

Mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, brownies, chocolate pudding, Mexican hot chocolate made with whole milk, and cinnamon rolls.

Part of my comfort ritual is to make these things from scratch. Somehow preparing the food myself helps. Plus, the whole house smells good, which lifts the spirits, and the food tastes so much better than the bought stuff. That said, I’m not wedded to my own cooking. If the power goes out, I’ll happily go out and buy the comfort food I crave.

I thought I’d share one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes with you.

Patti LaBelle’s Over the Rainbow Mac and Cheese
Serves 4 to 6

Warning: this is artery-clogging stuff! To avoid heartburn, I cut down on the fat a bit. My changes are in parentheses.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use 1 teaspoon, which works just as well)
1 pound elbow macaroni
8 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon butter (I cut this down to 4 tablespoons or half a stick of butter, total)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Muenster cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
2 cups half-and-half (I substitute nonfat evaporated milk)
1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta , cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2-quart casserole. (Or spray with Pam)

Over high heat, bring the large pot of water to a boil. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is just tender, about 7 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain well. Return to the cooking pot.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, mix the Muenster, mild and sharp Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses. To the macaroni, add the evaporated milk, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, the cubed Velveeta, and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the greased casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

Bake until bubbles around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.


What’s your favorite comfort food?

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