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Bite-Size Caprese Salad

Happy Homicides 6: Cookin’ Up Crime is out now! I’m delighted to be included in this short story anthology with 14 other authors, in 15 clean, traditional mystery stories. It’s available for $.99 until November 5. Click here to buy your copy now.

My husband was gone for a golf weekend with the boys from Friday through Sunday. Yay! I had most of the weekend to catch up on laundry, do some cleaning, and most importantly, get some writing work done. I’m working on several projects, and sometimes it’s easier when the house is quiet.

He came back mid-afternoon on Sunday and I made these bite size appetizers to tide us over until dinner (Pot Roast in a Crock Pot – I’ll post that next week). We’d had a Caprese Salad a week or so ago, and I still had some mozzarella. Add some tomatoes I picked up Sunday morning at the grocery store, a few ingredients on hand, and presto!

Bite-Size Caprese Salad

Each toothpick holds one serving

Mozzarella, cut into 1/2″ chunks

Grape tomatoes

Basil leaves, torn to size

Balsamic glaze (I use Gia Russo brand, available from the grocery store in the vinegar aisle)

Extra-virgin olive oil

Himalayan sea salt

Arrange the mozzarella chunks on a plate. Top with a piece of basil leaf and tomatoe. Insert toothpick, and continue until you’ve made as many as you like.

Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over tomatoes; drizzle balsamic glaze over tomatoes. Sprinkle sea salt over tomatoes.

Eat and enjoy!

Eggs Benedict on Rusk

Ooh, what’s rusk? You may have seen it in the grocery store, or used it for a teething baby. It’s a dry, twice-baked bread or biscuit. I’d read about it in books that featured sailors eating it; since it is dry, it travels well and doesn’t spoil the way a loaf of bread might.

Before our bucket list cruise to Alaska we traveled to Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, before the start of the cruise. We had a delicious breakfast in Vancouver at De Dutch Pannekoek House. It was serendipity that this delightful restaurant was next to our hotel.

My husband ordered the Eggs Benedict, which used rusk as the base instead of English Muffins. The rusk held up to the heat and sauce, never losing its integrity as an ingredient. I bought a package from the restaurant, and carried it successfully home 10 days later with all rusks intact.

Sunday morning I made Eggs Benedict on Rusk. This was my first foray into making it myself; it is usually something I order out. It was easier than I expected because I bought a packaged Hollandaise sauce mix (gasp!). Just add water; that’s the ticket 🙂

I also have an egg poacher, a pan with an insert holding six cups above the simmering water. If you don’t have such a pan, in gently simmering water use a spoon to swirl the water before dropping the egg in. This should help keep the white close to the yolk.

Eggs Benedict on Rusk

4 eggs, poached

4 pieces of rusk

6 pieces of Canadian bacon (the package I had said 3 per serving)

Hollandaise sauce

Place two rusks on each plate. Top with Canadian bacon, poached egg, and nap the Hollandaise sauce over the top. I sprinkled some pink Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper over the Hollandaise sauce. The rusk was light and crispy to the end. Now that I know how easy it can be, I’ll make this again.

Happy Homicides 6: Cookin’ Up Crime will be released on Friday, October 20. I’ll tell you more about my story and the recipe for it soon.

Chocolate Cream-Filled Graham Shells

Last week I shared a recipe for a dish I took to a friend’s golf tournament stuffing party. As most of our gatherings do, we ended up dancing and singing along to songs Alexa provided. How crazy is technology in our time that we can tell an inanimate object (she is, right?) to play and song and it happens!

I usually take at least two desserts, since not everyone likes the same thing. I took two gallons of ice cream (French vanilla and Chocolate) and hot fudge and caramel sauces. Easy peasy, something for everyone 🙂

I don’t mean to be flip about this, but dancing and celebrating life are important even, or maybe especially, when you’re fighting a life-threatening disease. How can it be anything but beneficial to have fun with friends and family who love you, to know that you are surrounded by people who want you to kick cancer’s ass?

I write this, talking about desserts for a friend who has breast cancer, the day after an extended family member lost her battle with lung cancer. Cancer is a disease that touches everyone, in one way or another. If you can, please consider donating to an organization that does cancer research. It is heart breaking to lose a life so young (52), for parents to outlive a child, and children to lose a parent before they are fully grown themselves.

Having a support system with people ready and willing to do what needs to be done is key. I hope everyone has such support and love in their lives.

Making dessert won’t save a life, but sharing food and camaraderie, dancing and singing, are a deposit in the memory bank to hold onto when times are tough and chemo is making you feel less than your best.

And now, the recipe.

Chocolate Cream-Filled Graham Shells (Makes 12)

2 packages of Graham Cracker shells, 6 shells per package

2 tubs of frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 3.4 oz package of instant pudding mix (I used vanilla, but you can use any flavor you like)

2 T hot fudge sauce

3 biscotti, crushed into crumbs

Mix the pudding mix into the whipped topping; divide the mixture into two tubs. Add the hot fudge sauce to one and stir to combine; reserve the other tub for a different use (Toasted Pound Cake with Caramel Cream – recipe posted 10/2/17). Refrigerate overnight.

Fill the graham cracker shells with chocolate cream. Top with crushed biscotti.

Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving.

Enjoy!