Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Tastings -- Roasted Asparagus from the New Chance Cafe

It's spring!  Although you can get asparagus year-round these days, there's something about fresh from the local farm that just says winter's behind us.   

How does Rachel get the manly, meat-eating cattlemen of River's Bend ranching country to eat their green veggies?  Putting roasted asparagus on the New Chance Cafe's menu has proven a huge hit!  And it's easy peasy. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut ends off asparagus and toss them with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper in a very fine Extra Virgin olive oil.  Rachel gets hers from California Olive Ranch.   

Lay side by side on a baking sheet.  Rachel puts parchment paper on the sheet for no-clean up cooking.  


Roast for 35 minutes or a bit less depending on the diameter of your stalks.  You'll want them nicely browned, but still crisp.  

Enjoy. 

Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll come back for my Friday photo and Saturday snippets!

xo,

JoAnn 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Snippet from BRIARWOOD COTTAGE


This Saturday snippet is a sneak preview from BRIARWOOD COTTAGE, a Castlelough novella that will be out this June.  

This is also the first time I've shared the cover with anyone but my newsletter subscribers.  The art is by Oregon artist Rebecca Prough and you can watch it come together on her blog.  The way the image gradually appears on her canvas reminds me of when I did counted cross-stitch. The cover design is by the wonderful Syd Gill Designs. 

Introducing Duncan McCaragh:

Duncan McCaragh had always trusted his instincts, which had kept him alive more times than he cared to count. 

When Diane — the stylish brunette executive assistant who'd flirt a bit whenever he came to Manhattan — kept her gaze glued to her computer screen while he cooled his heels in the outer office of the Global News Network, his Spidey senses began to tingle. 

Duncan had survived an IED explosion in Iraq, a firefight in the Hindu Kush, and had sweated bullets convincing a Syrian military officer that he was merely a correspondent in the country covering the civil war. He’d had his phone confiscated during his brief imprisonment, but had lived to tell the tale.  

Over the years, some had called him brave. Others, who envied his knack of being in exactly the right place at the right time, claimed he was merely lucky.  Still others, mostly his competitors, insisted that his earlier military deployments made him a reckless adrenaline junkie. Hence the nickname Mad Dog McCaragh.

Thanks for visiting!  Wishing all Christians a happy and blessed Easter.  For everyone else, have a super Sunday!   I hope you'll all come back for Tuesday Tastings, where I share a recipe from one of my books.  

xo,

JoAnn 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday photo: Fanad Lighthouse, County Donegal, Ireland

Since I'm finishing up BRIARWOOD COTTAGE and about to get back to Sedona's Irish rocker bad boy in A SEA CHANGE, I'm in an Irish state of mind.  Which is why this week's Friday Photo is from County Donegal.  My Grandda McLaughlin was descended from the McLoughlin Gaelic High Kings of Ulster who reigned in the 12th century, but were overturned by their kinsmen, the Clan O'Neill in 1241. 

Granda fought in both the Anglo-Irish war for Independence, then the Irish Civil War, coming to America with a price on his head after partition. My earliest memories are listening to his lyrical brogue spinning grand tales of kings and castles, battles and banishments, magic and miracles, which is probably why I became a writer.  Brady, from A WOMAN'S HEART, is totally based on him. 



Thanks for visiting!  I hope you'll return for Saturday snippets where I share an excerpt from one of my books and Tuesday's Tastings, with a recipe from one of my books.  Meanwhile, have a wonderful weekend and a very happy and blessed Easter to all of you celebrating the holiday.

xo,

JoAnn 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday Tastings: Braised Chicken, Tomatoes, and Onions from On Lavender Lane

I've missed Friday photo and Saturday snippets because we've been busy taking care of  of our darling Jessie (rescued dog #3) while waiting for her after surgery lab results.  

However, here's Chef Maddy's braised chicken from ON LAVENDER LANE.  My editor asked for this recipe after I turned in the manuscript and not only did she and her husband love it, she raved about how yummy her apartment smelled while it was cooking.  It's truly a lot easier than it might look at first glance and there's a lot of room to put your own ingredients spin on it.  Enjoy! 

               
    Ingredients

4 chicken legs (you can use thighs and drumsticks separately, but Maddy prefers to keep them
attached)
salt
pepper
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, thickly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
2 rosemary sprigs
6-8 Roma tomatoes, coarsely diced (you can use regular tomatoes, but Romas hold up better.)
1-2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)

Preparation

Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper the night before, or at least eight hours before, if possible. Your chicken will be more flavorable and tender.

Heat a heavy pan over medium heat and when it's warm (test by flicking a bit of water with your fingers into it until it sizzles), add the olive oil.

Using the water test again, when the oil's heated, place the chicken legs into the pan skin side down and cook 12 minutes, or until crisp and brown. (Note: to keep the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the pan, don't turn until it's completely browned. Test occasionally by just lifting a bit at the edges.) Then turn and cook for another 4 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add your sliced onions. Cook until transluscent, approximately 5 minutes.

Add garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

If you're using wine, now's the time to add it. Simmer, reducing it to half, while scraping up any brown pieces from the bottom of the pan.

Add the diced tomatoes and cook for five minutes. If you haven't used the wine, scrape up the brown bits now.

Arrange the chicken in the pan, skin side up, and pour in any of the juices that collected while it was put aside.

Pour in enough broth to reach halfway up the chicken.

Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cover and cook at a low simmer for 45 minutes, checking occasionally.

Discard the bay leaf and rosemary. If necessary, add more salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with braising sauce, including tomatoes and onions, over mashed potatoes.

Bon appétit!

Options

You can also cover the frying pan (if it's ovenproof) or put into a covered baking pan and cook for 45 minutes, or until done, in a 350 degree oven. But it's much more controllable and, Chef Maddy believes, richer, when cooked stovetop.


To add white meat to the dish, substitute two breasts for one set of legs. Brown them with the legs, but don't add them back to the braise until the last fifteen minutes or they'll be tough. Chef Maddy advises this dish is much richer with legs, and even those who think they don't like dark meat may be surprised at the depth of flavor.

Thanks for visiting!  I hope you'll return for my Friday photo and my Saturday snippets from one of my  books or a sneak preview of one I'm currently working on. 

xo,

JoAnn 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesday Tastings --- Steamed clams from Sea Glass Winter



Welcome to Tuesday Tasting!  If you've dropped in for a Tuesday Teaser, those have now become Saturday Snippets.  Tuesdays I'll be sharing recipes, many from past, current, or future books.  And speaking of current books, thanks to all of you who've written to tell me how much you've enjoyed RIVER'S BEND, a spin-off of my Shelter Bay books set in Oregon's ranching country where Sweetie and I grew up.   


These are the steamed clams Dillon Slater, a former Army EOD tech turned high school physics teacher and basketball coach, cooks for Claire Templeton when he comes to her Shelter Bay cottage to talk with her problem teenage son in SEA GLASS WINTER (January, 2013).  





Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter or half butter, half very good extra virgin olive oil. I always buy mine from California Olive Ranch because I know it's fresh and tasty.  Since clams grow in salt water, if you don't use unsalted butter, you may find them too salty for your taste. 

3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced very fine
1 1/2 - 2 lbs fresh Manila or Littleneck clams

3/4 bottle Oregon's Full Sail  Amber Ale for a rich, robust depth in fall and winter. In Summer Dillon switches to the brewery's IPA, which has a nice touch of citrus, or a crisp white wine. 

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Sourdough or other crunchy bread for dipping

Preparation:

Rinse clams, one at a time, in a colander to get rid of any sand that might linger. If any are open, tap them gently to see if  they close.  Discard any that don’t.

Remember, clams are alive. If you’re not using them immediately, gently lay them in a shallow dish, cover them with a damp paper towel, and store in the refrigerator for up to two-three days. You may want to redampen the towel, but since they need to breathe, don’t cover them with water, keep them in an air-tight container, or cover with plastic wrap.

Melt butter (with olive oil, if you use it) in a large, heavy sauté/braising pan.

Add garlic and cook until it softens and just barely begins to brown. (It gets dark quickly, so it's better to err on the side of lighter.) Toss in approximately 2 1/2 Tablespoons of the parsley and stir, just for a minute or two. 

Add beer or wine and bring to a simmering boil.

Add clams in a single layer, being careful not to crack shells, and cook covered, stirring occasionally, for five to seven minutes, or until all the clams open.  Remove them as they open and, again, discard those that don’t.

Place the clams in serving bowls, pour the sauce over them, sprinkle with remaining parsley.

Serve with a crunchy bread which has either been warmed or sliced, brushed lightly with olive oil, then grilled until brown and crunchy.  A crisp white wine or beer is the perfect accompaniment. 

Enjoy the yum!

Serves 2-4 as appetizers; 2 for a meal.  If you bought 2 lbs for two people, depending on size, you may have leftovers to add to linguini for a second meal.    This recipe also works with mussels, which gives you more meat, but Sweetie and I (and J.T.)  slightly prefer the flavor of the clams.) 

xo,

JoAnn 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Legends Lake price cut!



I've good news for those who've been frustrated, as I've been, by the ridiculous $15+ Kindle  and even worse, $18.21 NOOK prices my former publisher has set for LEGENDS LAKE, the third book in my Castlelough, Ireland series, after A WOMAN'S HEART and FAIR HAVEN.


Although Simon and Schuster is putting it out again in June with that new pretty cottage cover you see up on the left (they haven't told me what that price will be), for those who'd rather not wait, it suddenly went on sale on Amazon Kindle for a more reasonable $7.99 with the original horse cover.

Next up is BRIARWOOD COTTAGE, a novella set in Castlelough, in late May/early June.  Then Sedona's story, A SEA CHANGE, will be part Shelter Bay and part Castlelough and come out late this summer in both e-book and paperback.  An excerpt can be found in the back of RIVER'S BEND.

Thanks for visiting! Have a great rest of your weekend and I hope you'll come back for Tuesday Tastings, with a recipe from SEA GLASS WINTER.


xo,

JoAnn 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday Snippet from River's Bend

This week's Saturday snippet is from River's Bend.  Enjoy:

Cooper  rubbed his jaw as he studied her, his leisurely inventory missing nothing, from the top of her head down to her worn running shoes. 

Rachel had a sudden urge to smooth the wrinkles from her New York Giants sweatshirt. An urge she managed to resist.

"Well?" she asked when she couldn't stand his silent scrutiny another minute.

He didn't immediately answer. Instead, he approached within inches of her suddenly too-tense body. "Like I said, I've been thinking about you, Rachel Hathaway."

"Oh, really?"

"Really."  His thumb skimmed the curve of her jaw, leaving a scattering of sparks on her skin. "A whole lot. Have you thought about me?"

"No."  Her voice was calm. She was not.

Cooper laughed softly.

Rachel's heartbeat quickened.

"It's a good thing you're not under oath. I'd have to run you in for perjury."

"Do you always arrest women who resist your advances, Sheriff?"

"I never have before, but now that you bring it up, I'll keep it in mind," he said amiably. "Would you accuse me of police harassment if I kissed you, Rachel?"

She was going to kiss him because she wanted to. Not because the warmth of his gaze was making her knees weak.  "I suppose that would depend on what type of kiss it was."


He smiled, accepting the dare. "Why don't we try it and find out?" 

That's it for this week!  Have a wonderful rest of your weekend and I hope you'll return for 
Tuesday's Tastings, with a recipe from Sea Glass Winter. 

xo,
JoAnn 


Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Photo: One of Oregon's Seven Natural Wonders

One of the reasons I love setting stories in Sweetie's and my home state of Oregon is because there's so much spectacular scenery to share with readers. My Shelter Bay series is set on the Pacific coast, where he proposed to me at the sea wall when I was eighteen and River's Bend is set in Southern Oregon ranching country, where we grew up.  

This next week I'll be crossing the mighty Columbia River that divides Washington and Oregon because a wonderful reader invited me to give writing workshops at her children's  school in a small town near Mount Hood.  

The Columbia is, by volume,  the fourth-largest river in the United States, the largest river in North America's Pacific Northwest, and has the greatest flow of any North American river flowing into the Pacific.  Beginning in British Columbia's Rockies, it's 1,243 miles long and has a drainage basin about the size of France.  It's also one of Oregon's seven natural wonders. 

Quite honestly, I'm amazed anyone was able to narrow the list down to seven.  


To give you a size of scale on this photo, that boat in the background you can barely make out is a huge cargo ship. 

I'll be speaking and making up stories with classes from the second through fifth grades and am so excited!  I'm also going to have the opportunity to eat some great organically grown local food and sample some of Oregon's wonderful wine. 

I'll share more photos here on the blog next week.  Meanwhile, I hope you'll drop back for this week's Saturday snippet and have a wonderful weekend! 

xo,

JoAnn 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Game of Thrones Season III emoji recap

I'm so excited that Game of Thrones is coming back this Sunday!  Not so happy that after having caught up last summer, I won't be able to binge watch and will have to patiently wait for days between episodes.  

I LOVE this emoji "Game of Phones" recap of season three. And the Red Wedding is not only funny, but almost as horrifying in emoji form. If Gorge RR Martin was a teenage girl, this may be how the books/TV series would look.  :)

Enjoy:



Thanks for visiting! I hope to see you back for my Friday photo and Saturday book excerpt snippet.

xo,

JoAnn 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday Tastings: Grilled lamb chops with herb mustard butter


Happy April!  

During the time period River's Bend takes place, Rachel is more focused on fall and winter menus.  But now that it's (finally!!) spring, diners at the New Chance are enjoying lamb from local pastures. 

One of the most popular dishes is grilled lamb chops served with a mustard/thyme sauce that's a savory change from the typical mint served with lamb.  Rachel offers it with either mashed or roasted potatoes and fresh spring green peas.  

Always feel free to add your own twist to these Tuesday Tastings.  Because cooking is all about individuality!  If you're a novice home cook, one easy way to remember what flavors go together when you're cooking lamb, pork, or chicken, is to remember the old Simon and Garfunkel lyrics from Scarborough Fair: parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.  You don't have to use them all, but they marry well. 

That song was, by the way, the melody I used for the Shelter Bay video I created to take readers on a tour of the coastal town. (You can click on the bottom right hand corner to enlarge it to full screen.)  I'll be putting up another one soon for River's Bend, as soon as I get my photos put together. 


Lamb with mustard-thyme butter

Four servings: 

Ingredients: 8 lamb chops, trimmed of fat

For the marinade: 

2-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary or 3 teaspoons dried
chopped garlic to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup red vinegar

Place lamb chops in a plastic bag, cover with marinade.  Seal tightly.  Refrigerate and marinate 30 minutes - overnight. Turn bag occasionally to ensure all the meat gets covered.

Bring to room temperature before grilling.  (You can also pan grill, but I cook them outdoors. Even in the winter.)

Herb butter:

Soften 4 Tablespoons of butter (Not melted, just softened enough to mix in herbs.)
Mix in: 
1/2 - 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. (Increase to taste.)  Rachel uses whole-grain
1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried

Directions: 

Salt and pepper chops.  Place on pre-heated grill.  Broil the first side until browned.  6-8 minutes. 

Turn over and continue to grill 3-5 more minutes for medium rare. (Note: if you insist on eating your meat well done, don't bother wasting your money on lamb.)

 Transfer to pre-heated serving plates and top with herb butter.  

Suggested sides: roasted or mashed potatoes and peas or asparagus for pretty spring color and flavor.  

Enjoy!

xo,

JoAnn 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Snippets from River's Bend


RIVER'S BEND has been on sale for less than two weeks and I want to thank everyone who bought Cooper and Rachel's story!  And extra smooches to those wonderful readers who've written to tell me you've enjoyed it.  By the way, while you won't find a print copy on B&N, there is one, along with the kindle edition, on Amazon.

I've lots more books coming up this year, so if you want to keep up, I'd advise subscribing to my e-newsletter.  

This is the first week of Saturday Snippets, which is replacing Teaser Tuesday, which is now becoming Tuesday Tastings, with recipes from past, current, and future books. And some I just want to share because they're yummy.  


Here's today's snippet from RIVER'S BEND:  



"Scott's a great kid, Rachel. Bright, inquisitive, polite. You should be proud."

He couldn't have said anything that would have pleased her more. "I am."

"Good. Then you won't be upset when I tell you that he filled me in on all your secrets."

Rachel certainly hoped that wasn't true since her biggest secret was that she’d been all too aware of Cooper Murphy's absence. "Secrets?"

"Secrets," he confirmed. "Such as your vast organizational skills. I'm in the process of trying to clean out the office files and it's driving me insane. Your son assured me that you could straighten both me and my files out in no time."  His green eyes narrowed. "He says you make lists."

"I do."

"And you color code the categories."

"Of course."

"Why am I not surprised?"  

He'd made it sound like a character flaw. "Creating a well-ordered plan prevents disruption and chaos." Two things she definitely knew a great deal about.

"It also disallows for serendipity."

She folded her arms. "Serendipity?"  

"Yeah. The act of experiencing happy or pleasant surprises by accident. Which can more easily be discovered by occasionally going with the flow."

"I know what the word means. But going with the flow doesn't always lead to happy events."  Another thing she was more than a little familiar with. 

"Yet one could argue that your finding Mitzi's ad for the New Chance was a serendipitous event."

"One could also argue that the jury's still out on whether or not that turned out to be a happy accident."

"Well, we'll just have to make it one, won't we?" 

That's it for this Saturday.  Thanks for visiting!  I'm hoping to get some cards made this weekend for Operation Write Home and Cards for Hospitalized Kids, which I'll share here.  Then, as I said, Tuesday is recipe day, and then there's always Friday Photo. 

 I'm going to try to post more the other days of the week, too, but did I mention I'm working on a lot of books?   So, unlike Rachel with her color-coded organizer, I'm allowing myself room for serendipity.   :)

xo,

JoAnn