24 July 2014

Recipe: Stuffed Tomatoes

A couple of weeks ago, author Rachel Harris challenged the members of her Flirt Squad to get healthy. This isn't about losing weight or dieting, or trying to fit some kind of arbitrary beauty standard, but about eating healthy foods and exercising, so we can feel good about ourselves. I promised to share some of my favorite healthy recipes with the group, so I've decided to share them with you as well.

Summertime is the best time for fresh produce and delicious, light meals. And if you don't have to heat up your house by turning on the oven, all the better, right? When the weather is warm and we want something fresh and flavorful, without cooking something elaborate, we really enjoy 

Stuffed Tomatoes.

This is a super-simple, healthy meal that is especially delicious this time of year, when garden-fresh tomatoes are plentiful. And it's easy to adapt to whatever ingredients you have on hand, so there's no need for an extra trip to the grocery store.

You will need:
1 head leaf lettuce (I like to use red leaf lettuce or romaine, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Or skip this ingredient if you don't have lettuce handy.)
6 large tomatoes
2 cans tuna fish (or diced chicken breast)
1-3 Tbsp. Miracle Whip, to taste (or mayonnaise, or plain yogurt)
1-2 tsp. mustard
1 c. chopped veggies/fruits (In the salad pictured above, I used celery, green apple, tomatoes, and green olives - other favorites include Craisins, grapes, onion, carrots, cucumbers, and zucchini.)
1/4 c. chopped nuts or seeds (This time, I used pine nuts. We also enjoy walnuts, pecans, or sunflower seeds sometimes.)
1/2 c. diced cheese (whatever flavor you prefer - I usually just use whatever I happen to have in the fridge)

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together tuna fish (I don't bother to drain mine. This way, I can use less Miracle Whip without having a dry tuna salad.), Miracle Whip, mustard, chopped veggies, nuts, and cheese.

Line 6 plates with lettuce leaves.

Cut each tomato into wedges, being careful not to cut all the way through, so the wedges are still connected.

Place a tomato into the center of each lettuce-lined plate and fan the wedges out to leave an open space in the center.

Divide tuna salad evenly between the tomatoes. Serve. (Prepare to have even your pickiest eaters asking for second helpings.)

14 July 2014

Happy Book Birthday, ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE by Rachel Harris

AMOP RDL Banner  

  I am so excited to be a part of the Release Day Launch for Rachel Harris' ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE!! ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE is the third book in her Love and Games Series published by Entangled Bliss.

  Accidentally Married On Purpose

About ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE: One ring plus one wild night equals one crazy love Sherry Robicheaux loves men. She loves love. And she loves an adventure. So when she meets a mysterious man while working backstage at a country music concert in Vegas, she’s all about what’s happened in Vegas staying there. Country music superstar Tyler Blue just wants a weekend of anonymity…though there’s something about the spunky waitress with the streaks of purple hair that tempts him like no other. Until the next morning, when they both wake up with fuzzy memories…and rings on their fingers. Convincing Sherry to maintain the ruse for his public image isn’t the hardest part—it’s reminding himself that their time spent playing husband and wife in her small town of Magnolia Springs can’t last. Tyler’s first love will always be music—and the road is no place for a sweet downhome girl.  

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This series just keeps getting better and better. The first book in the series, TASTE THE HEAT, totally took me by surprise. I fell in love with the Robicheaux clan and a certain sexy firefighter (before picking up this book, I didn't read many romances aimed at adults). Then, with book two, SEVEN DAY FIANCE, Rachel Harris managed to turn my two least favorite characters from book one into two of my very favorite fictional characters, giving me "butterflies and tingles from page one, clear 'til the end!"

And ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE is so much better, even, than the first two! (It's a good thing I don't give star ratings, because I'd have a hard time figuring out how to give more than five stars!)

I was so excited to finally get to read Sherry's story (which I've been waiting for since reading TASTE THE HEAT). She's adorable and vivacious, and absolutely genuine (I feel like she would be one of my best friends in real life). And I loved getting to know Tyler Blue, the absolutely swoon-worthy singer with a soft spot for family.

Sherry is in love with the idea of being in love. She's no stranger to sizzling romances, but they've all fizzled far too soon, and she's ready for something better. Convinced that she needs a new approach to love, she decides she needs someone boring and dependable. But before she gives up the fun life, there's nothing wrong with one last no-rules weekend in Vegas, right? Except she wasn't counting on waking up married to country music's biggest superstar.

What happens in Vegas doesn't always actually stay in Vegas.

Still, Tyler Blue is the best thing that could have happened to Sherry Robicheaux. Not only is he sexy and fun, with a voice that could make the coldest heart melt, but he's a great guy who loves his family more than anything. It's not often that I fall head-over-heels for a fictional character, but Tyler absolutely made my heart melt. *swoon*

If you haven't read the first two books in the series yet, that's okay. ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE totally works as a stand-alone novel. But once you get to know the Robicheaux clan, you'll want to read the rest. (And SEVEN DAY FIANCE is on sale right now for only 99 cents!!)

From opposite the long table of food, the brunette gave him a blatant once over as he came to a stop in front of her, twirling a strand of purple hair around her fingertip. When she reached his lucky belt buckle, her sinful lips twitched.

 “If the words, ‘Come here often,’ leave your mouth, I swear I’ll laugh you straight back to roadie-ville.” Her words were harsh, but the smile that sprang free was playful, and Tyler found himself mesmerized by the familiar twang of her southern voice.

So much so that he’d almost missed what she said.


 “Sorry, do you prefer techie?” Her cute nose wrinkled as she stuck her hands in her back jeans pocket. “I heard someone else say that earlier, but I swear that sounds like a computer nerd.” She looked him up and down again, this time her gaze lingering around his hips. Slightly south of the belt buckle. Hot damn. “I think roadie fits you better. Sounds sexier.”

Tyler scratched the side of his jaw. Was she messing with him? He’d heard a hell of a lot of come-ons since making it to Nashville and had been propositioned in every way possible. But this was a first. The woman stared back, smiling that damn seductive smile, and he realized she honestly had no clue who he was. For some reason, he was in no hurry to correct that just yet.

He couldn’t recall the last time he’d gone anywhere without being recognized, much less his own concert. But since the room was swarming with crew, Tyler could understand the confusion…if she weren’t a hardcore fan, and clearly, this woman wasn’t. Tyler swiped a hand over his mouth, hiding a smile.

“Sugar, you can call me anything you like,” he drawled, laying it on thick even to his own ears. Her pretty lips parted, and he grinned. “And what can I call you?”

Her smile twisted into a smirk. “Who said you could call me at all?”

 He laughed, shocked again, and for the first time in a long time, speechless.

She winked. “I’m Sherry.” When she said her name, she looked right into his eyes as if he should remember it, and he had no doubt that he would. The confidence pouring off her was sexy as hell. “And…you are?”

 “Tyler,” he replied, glad she’d gone with just her first name so he could do the same. The rest of the world simply referred to Tyler as Blue, the front man for the band bearing his last name. Even so, he stood back and waited for a sign of recognition.

It never came.

When it became obvious she really had no clue who he was, nor would she guess any time soon, Tyler felt a knot of tension release between his shoulder blades.

“So, Sherry, you planning to watch tonight’s show?”

She pulled a face. “I’m not much for country, other than the line dances. All those songs about trucks and trains and whiskey and dogs, though that last one I can forgive.” Her smile softened and Tyler moved closer, wanting to be nearer the genuine warmth of it. “No offense to your boss or anything,” she added with a slight grimace. “I heard he’s pretty hot…even if he is the man-whore of country music.”

A shocked laugh burst from his lips. “Excuse me?”

 She waved her comment away, as if she hadn’t just insulted him to his face—which, he guessed, she hadn’t really. At least not on purpose. “Just a theory I have. I’m sure he’s a perfectly adequate boss.”

Now, Tyler laughed for real. “Yeah, he’s…adequate.” Shaking his head, he propped his hip on the table. This was the most fun he’d had with a woman in months—and they both still had their clothes on.

  Author Photo About Rachel Harris: Award-winning and Bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls next door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books...and kissing. Lots of kissing. An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romance, and LOVES talking with readers.  

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Author Goodreads | ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE Goodreads

Entangled Bliss Release Blast

The summer is warming up with two new releases from Bliss this month.  I'm super-excited about ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED ON PURPOSE by Rachel Harris, the 3rd book in her Love and Games series. I've loved each of the books in this series so far, but this one is definitely my favorite. This is a sweet, behind-closed-doors kind of romance, with plenty of sizzling, make-your-heart-race moments. The other new release is a Red-Hot Bliss book, HER SECRET, HIS SURPRISE by Paula Altenburg, which throws the bedroom door open, for those of you who prefer more, um, steamy scenes. 

Plus, SEVEN DAY FIANCE (book 2 in the Love and Games series) by Rachel Harris is on sale! If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for? See below for more details. (I reviewed this one here.)


About Accidentally Married on Purpose:

One ring plus one wild night equals one crazy love
Sherry Robicheaux loves men. She loves love. And she loves an adventure. So when she meets a mysterious man while working backstage at a country music concert in Vegas, she’s all about what happens in Vegas staying there.
Country music superstar Tyler Blue just wants a weekend of anonymity…though there’s something about the spunky waitress with the streaks of purple hair that tempts him like no other. Until the next morning, when they both wake up with fuzzy memories…and rings on their fingers.
Convincing Sherry to maintain the ruse for his public image isn’t the hardest part—it’s reminding himself that their time spent playing husband and wife in her small town of Magnolia Springs can’t last. Tyler’s first love will always be music—and the road is no place for a sweet downhome girl.
Add it to Goodreads

 Enter Rachel's giveaway


About Her Secret, His Surprise:

Conflict of interest is an understatement…
Since being disowned by her strict father, Cass Stone has spent her adulthood trying to prove him wrong. Her drive has led to more success than her family ever thought she’d achieve, and life is looking great. Not even an incredible and mysterious one night stand that leaves her a single mom can trip her up...until the father of her baby stumbles back into her life, as sexy and unreliable as ever.
Logan Alexander hasn’t forgotten the night he spent with Cass two years ago, but he never expects to end up undercover as her assistant. His job saves lives—like it should have saved his brother—and he can’t afford complications. It’s difficult enough to maintain his cover as a carefree wanderer when he realizes his attraction to Cass hasn’t faded...and then he meets Cass’s daughter.
Add it to Goodreads
Follow the Her Secret, His Surprise Blog Tour

Enter Paula's giveaway


Pick up a copy of Seven Day Fiance this week only for just $.99!

About Seven Day Fiance:

One bad boy. One good girl. One unforgettable week.

Angelle Prejean is in a pickle. Her family is expecting her to come home with a fiancé—a fiancé who doesn’t exist. Well, he exists, but he definitely has no idea Angelle told her mama they were engaged. Tattooed, muscled, and hotter than sin, Cane can reduce Angelle to a hot mess with one look—and leave her heart a mess if she falls for him. But when she ends up winning him at a charity bachelor auction, she knows just how to solve her fiancé problem.

Cane Robicheaux is no one’s prince. He doesn’t do relationships and he doesn’t fall in love. When sweet, sultry-voiced Angelle propositions him, he hopes their little fiancé game can finally get her out of his head. He doesn’t expect her to break through all his barriers. But even as Angelle burrows deeper into his heart, he knows once their seven days are up, so is their ruse.

Pick up your copy of Seven Day Fiance before it goes back to full price! 
Add it to Goodreads

11 July 2014

Crock Pot Gourmet: Giant Pancake

Several weeks ago, Jessica Sinsheimer tweeted this link with instructions on how to make a giant pancake cake in an electric rice cooker. I don't own an electric rice cooker,* but I've made similar cakes in my Crock Pot, so I promised to share the recipe on my blog. It's been a crazy-busy summer, and I have so many half-written blog posts piling up, but I'm finally getting around to actually posting the promised recipe!

Crock Pot Giant Pancake

3 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. old fashioned oats
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. powdered milk**
1/3 c. oil
4 eggs
3 1/2 c. water**

In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and powdered milk.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add oil, eggs and 1 c. water. Beat together the liquid ingredients slightly (to break the egg yolks), and then slowly expand your stirring strokes to begin stirring dry ingredients into the wet, drizzling in remaining water as you stir. (Adding all of the water at once makes it difficult to incorporate the egg properly, but you don't want to mix the batter too much, or you'll get tough pancakes, so don't be too slow about adding the water. If you don't want to worry about overmixing, you can beat the eggs, oil and water all together in a separate bowl and dump it all in at once, then stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. I just prefer the one-bowl method, because I hate washing dishes!)

Spray your 5-quart*** Crock Pot with non-stick cooking spray, coating the sides and bottom evenly.

Pour batter into the crock, make sure the lid is skewed slightly to let steam escape, and cook on low for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (Cooking times may vary depending upon your Crock Pot's settings.)
You can either cut and serve the cake directly from the Crock Pot (my preferred method, because it creates less dishes to wash), or you can flip the cake out onto a large tray or cookie sheet to slice and serve.
 Serve plain, or topped with your favorite syrup or fruit topping.
 For a slightly more savory dish (the pancake itself isn't too sweet to begin with), you can drizzle with melted peanut butter (or almond or cashew butter or Nutella - Okay, so the Nutella wouldn't make it savory).

*I also make rice in my slow cooker. No need to buy multiple devices when one is so good at multitasking!

** I prefer to use powdered milk in cooking, because it's less expensive, you don't notice a taste difference in cooked products, and I can add a little extra calcium to my recipes by adding more milk powder than you would normally add for that amount of reconstituted milk. But if you don't want to use powdered milk, you can omit the powdered milk and simply use 3 1/2 c. fluid milk instead of water.

*** You can make a smaller batch in a 3-quart Crock Pot. Just cut all ingredient quantities in half. It will most likely cook faster as well, so start checking on it after 1 3/4 to 2 hours.

   -- Stir 1 c. dried cranberries in with the dry ingredients, and add 1 1/2 tsp. orange extract with the liquid ingredients. Before pouring batter into the Crock Pot, sprinkle 1/2 c. brown sugar into the bottom of the crock. If desired, you may also sprinkle 1/4 c. brown sugar on the top of the batter.
    -- Stir 1/2 c. cocoa powder in with the dry ingredients, and add 1/2 c. honey with the liquids for a sweeter treat.
    -- Use your imagination! What are your favorite pancake stir-ins? Add them to the batter before baking. (Leave a comment below to tell me your favorites!)

09 July 2014

What's Your Superpower?

Emily Lloyd-Jones' debut novel, ILLUSIVE, releases next week (July 15th), and to celebrate, she's asked, If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

For me, it would definitely be the ability to fly. I've always wanted to experience that weightless, free-as-a-bird feeling of soaring through the clouds. I'd love to give gravity the slip and leave the cares of the world below me. Whenever I travel, if flying is an option, that's the one I'll choose, and I always want to sit by the window, so I can watch the clouds pass by below me and pretend I'm Supergirl.

If you could have any superpower, what would you choose? Why? Leave a comment below and let me know! Then, go check out ILLUSIVE (preorder links are below).

The X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven in this edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure about a band of "super" criminals.

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?
The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against he government that could cost them their lives.

Emily Lloyd-Jones grew up on a vineyard in rural Oregon, where she played in evergreen forests and learned to fear sheep. After graduating from Western Oregon University with an English degree, she enrolled in the publishing program at Rosemont College just outside of Philadelphia. She currently resides in Northern California, working in a bookstore by day and writing by night.

04 July 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day to all of my American friends and readers! And to those of you in other parts of the world, Happy Summertime Friday! (There's always some reason to celebrate life, right?)

Independence Day has always been one of my favorite holidays, not because of the backyard BBQ or the watermelon-eating contests, or even the impressive fireworks displays, but because I love having a day set aside to celebrate our gratitude for freedom and liberty, and to remember all the brave men and women who fought (and still fight) for those freedoms. Please take a moment today, wherever you may be, to give thanks for the blessings in your life.

Side note:
As you may have noticed, my blogging efforts have slowed recently. (This happens every summer, as my children are out of school, and I'm spending more family together time with them.) I am still around, and I have a few recipes and book reviews ready to post in the upcoming weeks, but the pace will continue to be slow here on the blog probably until school is once again in full-swing in September.

In the meantime, you can still find me online. Most days, I'm on Twitter and Facebook. And I've had a couple of really fun interviews recently.

* The Debut Dish interview with That Artsy Reader Girl - I got to share a blog post with A.J. Pine (who I absolutely adore), and you still have 2 days to enter to win a copy of A.J.'s fun NA romance, IF ONLY, so go check it out!

* My Life in Movie Titles interview on the brand-new Breathless Ink blog - I got to share a little bit about myself and my book, and to celebrate some of my favorite movies in the process. This was one of the most fun interviews I've ever participated in. PLUS, you can win a copy of TWELVE STEPS and other great books!!