Archive for the ‘ Recipe ’ Category

5 Terrific Things for Tuesday: Must Dos for Fall

Good afternoon Fiction Friends!

Our post is all about fall today! What are some things that are nonnegotiable for you when this cool season rolls in after summer? We asked around the office and came up with the top 5. Drumroll please………

1) Apple picking for fresh homemade apple sauce made the Italian way with plenty of butter and saffron.

2) Switching out your summer and spring clothes in your closet for your fall and winter pieces. Make sure and organize them by shirts, jackets, sweaters, pants, and skirts, then you can just grab things and put an outfit together, no shuffling through the closet.

3) Stepping on every crunchy leaf you can find and sipping a pumpkin spice latte while you do it.

4) Going to a pumpkin patch that has everything, and I mean everything. I want a wagon to carry my pumpkin that I choose, I want pumpkin spiced donuts, I want a corn maze with scarecrows, and I want a petting zoo where I can feed the animals. You aren’t supposed to feed the animals in the city. Take me out to the country where I can feed the animals.

5) Boots, boots, and more boots. I love seeing all of the different styles of boots that come out when fall starts. There are brown ones, black ones, grey ones, purple ones, Cowboy boots, tall boots, short boots. I love boots and the different ways you can wear them.  Boots scream fall to me.

What do you absolutely have to do when fall starts?


P.S. Don’t forget the scary short story contest that is going on right now. There is still time to submit a story.


A Tale and A Treat When Plans Fail and Other Acts of God’s Love (part 2)

My wonderful husband is still unemployed. That has not changed. We did not plan for him to be jobless. Who does?  But it is an astonishingly frequent event in the lives of those around us today.

 When we talked last year about Jeff going back to school again, the agreement was that his quest for a PhD had to run alongside the other things that we were doing, like working fulltime. However, the doors of the university continue to open as the doors for employment shut. He has been accepted into the program he desired and it even includes a teaching assistant position. If he goes to school part-time and continues to look for a full-time position, it just might work.

Right now we are paying close attention to the movement of the Spirit, reading scripture, praying and praying and praying . . . for His will for our lives.

And now we wait. Wait to see what incredible, or even ordinary, things that God has for us as we step out in faith.

Riley Morgan, in Long Trail Home has lost more than his faith. After returning from war he lost his parents and his fiancé. His dreams did not work out as he planned either.

But how could God have allowed him to lose so much?

Annie Sheffield was many things: a thief, an orphan, a child looking for a home, but she was definitely not blind. Miss Laura Wilcox knew all these things about Annie but she chose to accept her into the Wilcox School for Blind Children anyway. Laura needed the help and Annie needed a home. The only catch was: Annie had to make everyone around her believe she was blind.

Annie became a young woman by the time Riley Morgan came to work at the school, and he grew to admire Annie for her bravery in the face of her disability. His crusty façade began to wear as Riley came to care for the children living there. With little warning, Otis Ramsey swooped into town to announce that the benefactor of the school, Mr. Henry Morrow, has died—and he, Otis Ramsey, was going to shut down the school. They have 30 days to vacate the property he has inherited.

Laura, Annie, Riley and all the children are going to lose their home. They’re devastated.

This situation caused a unique conflict for Annie, after dedicating her heart to God at a tent meeting. Annie feels she must tell the truth. Will the town reject her once the truth is out? What about Riley? Where will she go once the school is closed?

Our plans are often interrupted; they often fail. But, God always has plans and they are often far better than we can imagine. Read how Laura, Annie and Riley live out His plan in Long Trail Home, due out this fall.

A Treat:

I took a poll around the office and many agreed that nothing screams Texas louder than a barbecue recipe. Well, I am going to do you one better with a smoked brisket recipe. I love brisket, it is my favorite cut of meat and when it is prepared properly it is a game changer. I like brisket so much that I consider myself a snob about it. With the help of this website I was able to find a great recipe that seems foolproof.

Texas Smoked Brisket Recipe

1 large untrimmed brisket
1/4 cup paprika
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
2 Tsp ground coriander
2 Tsp oregano
3 or 4 mesquite wood chunks

Mix the spices, salt, and sugar well, then coat the mixture onto the brisket. Plastic wrap it and let it rest in the fridge overnight if you have time… if not, try to give it at least a couple of hours. And remember, to get that dry rub flavor into the meat on both sides, score the fat on the fatty side. Cut down into the fat far enough to just expose the meat, in a pattern of one inch squares.  Smoke the meat with the mesquite chunks. If you don’t care for mesquite, oak will do a great job. When the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees, take the meat off, cover it, and let it rest for thirty minutes to an hour before slicing it across the grain. This final step is very important. It allows the meat to absorb its own juices and will leave you with an extremely tender and flavorful cut of smoky meat. Unfortunately, a smoker is necessary for this delightful dish, so either invest in one or head over to a friend’s house where there is a smoker and offer to make them dinner.


A Tale and A Treat

A Tale:

Family Reunions Take Time

Every year I make a pilgrimage to Upper Michigan for a reunion with my Husband’s side of our family. And, every year the participants change. Some of our members are unable to make the trip anymore due to health issues. Some are too busy. Some are broke. Some have a rotation with their other relatives and this is “not the year” to visit with us. So, every year is a new dynamic.

This summer was no different. My husband’s eldest brother was unable to make the voyage and since he is the patriarch, and the funniest of his seven siblings, David K. was sorely missed.

This year we did have an addition to our party. I’ve been married to my husband, the very same man, for 28 years, and this is the first time I have ever laid my eyes on our great-nephew’s face; for the first time I had the privilege of getting to know the grandson of my brother-in-law, Daniel, his wife, and their five year-old daughter. My pilgrimage only took about five to six hours to drive by car. Their journey from California took a few flights across the country and a rental car—plus, of course, time.

My husband’s last memory of Daniel was as a baby stretched out on the dining room table with a cloth diaper underneath him and one on top as he was being changed. Sometime in life choices and circumstances can cause family members to drift apart, add to that many years of maturing, and decades can fly by between reunions.

In the second title in the Texas Trail series, Captive Trail, the Morgan family longs for a reunion that in the end involves flights (on horseback), nuns, shotguns, life circumstance, and is many years waiting. The story opens when Taabe Waipu flees from her Comanche village on the eve of her wedding. She sets her course for the south on a horse she stole from her dowry. She heads home—even though she doesn’t know exactly where that is or who she really belongs to.

Ned Bright spots a lifeless body by the side of the road as he delivers letters, packages and people for The Butterfield Overland Mail Company: a white woman in native clothing. He delivers the injured Taabe and his unusual passengers, a group of Ursuline nuns returning to their mission station near Fort Chadbourne.

Traumatized, weak, dehydrated, and feverish, Tabbe recuperates at the mission while Ned and the Sisters try to find the family she was kidnapped from as a child. She lives in constant fear that the braves will return to take her back to her Comanche village before she can remember her Christian name and the dangerous language she drove out of her memory. 

Just as she is set to reunite with her family, the brave she was destined to marry descends upon the mission with shotguns and torches. Tabbe must make a choice. Give up and return to the native village or risk the lives of her friends, Ned and the Sisters. The nuns pray. Shots are fired, torches are thrown, and at least one person is caught in the fight.

Captive Trail is filled with adventure against the backdrop of Texas history. More information is to come from the author, Susan Page Davis. So, keep checking our blog as the launch in September draws near.


A Treat:

When I think of Texas, I think of chili and barbecue, but mostly chili. Man, do I have a phenomenal recipe for chili. I use ground turkey, black beans, plenty of mushrooms, and a can of spicy Rotel for added flavor. I love chili in the fall and winter. As much as I hate to admit it, fall is right around the corner. It is such a great 1 pot meal.


1 ½ lbs ground turkey

1/8 cup chili powder, or more to taste

2 tbsp tomato paste

1-2 red peppers, chopped

1-2 green peppers, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 carton mushrooms, chopped

1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 14.5 oz can Rotel (diced tomatoes with chilies)

1 14.5 oz can tomato puree

1 14.5 oz cans tomato sauce

2 14.5 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups brown rice, unprepared

Sour cream

Cheddar cheese

Tortilla chips

Directions: Brown the ground turkey in a Dutch oven with the chili powder and tomato paste. Add the chopped vegetables and then the tomatoes, puree, and sauce. Add the beans, and let the entire dish simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. While the chili is simmering, prepare your rice by following the directions on the bag.  When the rice is done and the chili is warmed through start serving it up by scooping rice into a bowl and topping it with chili. From there, add cheddar cheese and sour cream. I don’t even use a spoon, I just use tortilla chips to eat the whole bowl.

Enjoy this recipe as the weather starts to inevitably cool. Maybe enjoy it while you are reading the latest book in the Texas Trails series.


God’s Providence, A Sprained Ankle, and German Emigration in Texas (part 1)

My life has been filled with surprises lately–not all welcome ones either, like a sprained  ankle. 

The ICRS conference this week was the perfect time to launch River North Fiction, Moody Publisher’s new line. We didn’t receive the necessary legal approval to use our logo until late, so tight timing threatened to derail our plans. At the last minute–I mean VERY last minute–we completed our cute press  packets and shipped them overnight to the convention hotel with 15 minutes to spare.

I was all set. Flights were made. Check. Hotel reservations made. Check. Last-minute meetings with agents, authors and press contacts made and confirmed. Check and check. Bags packed. Check. One quart-sized ziplock bag filled with travel-sized containers of my favorite lotions, hair products, and cosmetics ready for security. Check, check and double check.

My husband and I kissed goodbye at O’Hare airport and I was officially launched on my trip to Atlanta with every hope for a successful convention.

Or so it would seem.

Unscathed through ticketing and security, I set off for the gate. With time for breakfast, I planned to fly out in the morning, drop my bags at the hotel and arrive  on the convention floor in plenty of time to make my first meeting just after lunch. The airline staff announced the boarding for the first set of passengers. They began to assemble at the counter in an organized fashion. And they stood there. Waiting. Without warning the sun dimmed; the skies grew dark; lighting cracked so loudly it was audible over the hum of jet engines; cosmic force winds drove pelting water against the windows. The plane outside at the end of the gangplank disappeared. Then the gangplank vanished and with it so did my hopes of flying out of Chicago.

Almost as fast as it arrived the storm subsided. The gangplank and plane became visible once more but the force of the storm changed the course of the day. My flight was canceled; long lines quickly formed once again around the ticket counter. I lost all hope of flying out by 3:00pm. The whole day was spent standing in line trying to get a flight out and canceling and rescheduling the meetings it took days to arrange. Tomorrow I would try again.

 Things were definitely off to a rough start.

 So too for one of our heroines in the new fiction series Texas Trails, about Texas history in the 1800’s and five generations of a family named Morgan.

 In the first title, Lone Star Trail, Wande Fleischer, along with her parents and siblings left their home in Germany. All they had was a cart full of their belongings and hope. Hope for a new start. Hope for promised land free for then to farm. Hope for marriage to Wande’s fiancé who traveled before her to establish their home. Hope for all their children to have a prosperous future.

 However, in 1845, Wande was greeted in Victoria, Texas with torrential rain. Her beloved sister perished the first few days after landing. Now their cart was stuck in the middle of the dirt road as she sunk knee deep in mud and fought the temptation to raise her fist in defiance to the God who brought them there and the wagon that passed without helping.

 Jud Morgan had no interest in helping any of the German immigrants flooding the countryside. Not even if they looked rather helpless with their belongings strewn all over the road. He wished they would go back to where they came from.  He wanted nothing to do with them.

 However, Jud’s compassionate mother took pity on the Fleischer family and offered them a place to stay–leaving Jud to face his fear, anger, and prejudice.

 A good rain can also bring in some unexpected blessings along with a change of plans including a sprained ankle. More on Tuesday.


In honor of our Texas Trails Series coming out in August I took to Twitter and Facebok to figure out what the ideal Southern dessert is and I decided to make a traditional peach cobbler. It was a hit here at the office! I put it out and less than 30 minutes later the dish was clean! I have now been reassured by one coworker that they will eat anything I bake. I am a recipe kind of girl when it comes to baking. There is too much of a science involved for me to take any detours.

I used a recipe from Paula Deen the Southern Belle herself Paula’s Peach Cobbler . For those of you who know Ms. Deen, there is no need to fear the amount of butter in this recipe. I would say it qualifies as average. The trickiest part of this dessert was defnitely the peeling of the peaches. It was worth it though for their sweet juiciness as opposed to canned peaches. I truly feel that the fresh peaches made all the difference in the world for this cobbler. The other key that Paula stresses is being sure to use self-rising flour. She is right, don’t even mess around with anything other than the self-rising in this recipe. We will branch out as this six book series is released and maybe try a chili, barbecue sauce, baked beans, oh, cornbread, technically we can do anything. Send us your thoughts on a great Texas recipe we should try out as we continue to discuss the Texas Trails Series