BOOKS AND BLOGGING PHILOSOPHY

Philosophy is defined as a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought. Well, my theory is if I can add at least 10 new books to my Wishlist and move at least 5 older Wishlist selections to my TBR list every month, then life is a ice cream sundae. And if I can find those 10 books from at least 5 new blogs each month then that's the cherry on top.

NEW VISITORS AND OLD- WELCOME!

NEW VISITORS AND OLD- WELCOME!
Well, I've made it almost 5 years now, so for better or worse, I continue on. I tend to blog in spurts as the urge to be creative erupts. As I don't have an artistic bone in my body, you will see very few changes in the layouts. Hey, I'm a reader not an artist like so many of the awesome bloggers I follow. I know you don't always have the time but if you stopped and looked, take a half a minute and say your piece. Recommend a book that you have enjoyed or hated for that matter. Thank you to all who visit.
Oh, and I moved my Google Friend Connect info and share this buttons to the top, as without our friends, who are we?


Friday, December 9, 2016

Forever Romance's Holiday Celebration Blog Tour & Giveaway


A HIGHLANDER’S CHRISTMAS KISS by Paula Quinn

CHRISTMAS COMES TO MAIN STREET by Olivia Miles

MERRY COWBOY CHRISTMAS by Carolyn Brown

A CHRISTMAS BRIDE by Hope Ramsay

MISTLETOE COTTAGE by Debbie Mason 

‘Tis the season to celebrate! Five of Forever’s authors with brand new Christmas romances are sharing their favorite holiday recipes and memories.

CAROLYN BROWN’S PUMPKIN BREAD

Kids, grand children, great-grands, all coming home for the holidays—the aroma of pumpkin bread baking in the oven—everyone waiting for it to get done so they can slice it up while it’s still hot, slather butter or whipped cream cheese on it, and tell the age old stories about the holidays we’ve had in the house. That’s the stuff memories are made off and every time I smell pumpkin bread it puts a smile on my face for the whole day.

PUMPKIN BREAD
This makes 2 loaves and 8 muffins; Or it makes one Bundt cake


½ cup butter 
½ cup shortening
2 2/3 cups of sugar
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin (one 15-16 ounce can)
3 ½ cups flour
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons soda
1 cup pecans (optional)
2/3 cup of cold strong black coffee
(NOTE: I use all butter if I’m out of shortening or even oil)

Cream first four ingredients. 
Add canned pumpkin.
Add dry ingredients alternately with coffee
Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour for loaves or bundt cake, 25 minutes for muffins, or until they test done in the center.
Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. 
Cool completely before frosting with Harvest Moon Frosting (below).
HARVEST MOON FROSTING
3 egg whites
1½ cups brown sugar
6 tablespoons water
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a double boiler. Cook 7 minutes, beating the whole time with an electric mixer, over the boiling water.  The frosting will stand in peaks when done. Add vanilla.  Beat until thick enough to spread.



Find out more about Carolyn Brown at her website.

PAULA QUINN’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES

My dad used to live across the street from us. Every year, when my
kids were little, he would dress up like Santa, climb out his window
on the second floor, and hang Christmas lights on his fire escape. My
kids would watch from our window with wonder in their eyes, unaware
that it was grandpa. He would turn and wave to them, sending them into little fits of breathlessness. Later, we would visit grandma and
grandpa’s for homemade cookies (left there for them by Santa). The
house was always fully decked out with every Christmas decoration
imaginable with Alvin and the Chipmunks on repeat while the kids
hunted down little “pre-Christmas” gifts he’d hide for them. I loved
witnessing the magic of Christmas and love through their eyes. Now
grown, my kids will sometimes still look out the window at his fire
escape and smile, remembering a grandpa who loved them beyond measure.



GRANDPA’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES (A favored Italian recipe)

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
3½ cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder

Sift dry ingredients. 
Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs; add
vanilla and dry ingredients.
Knead and add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to hands.
Pinch off dough, roll in your hands to form a log and
 then twirl into
shape. 
Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

ICING
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 teaspoons water

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Stir until creamy. Dip cookies into icing and sprinkle with trim. Place on wire rack with wax paper on counter to collect the dripping icing and sprinkles. 




Find out more about Paula Quinn at her website.
DEBBIE MASON TREE TRIMMING PARTY

One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions is our tree trimming party. We’ve held one every year for the past thirty years. Though I don’t know if it qualifies as a party seeing as it’s just the immediate family. But we do make a thing of it with our favorite carols playing in the background, fire on (mostly for ambience), hot chocolate served in festive mugs, lots of holiday treats, and a special ornament for each of the kids and grandkids to open before the tree decorating gets under way.

 

But I think the most fun for all of us isn’t decorating the tree, it’s unpacking the ornaments. I’ve always tried to buy an ornament that’s uniquely suited to each of the kids, whether it was a sport they were into that year or a movie, book, or hobby they loved, so unwrapping each one brings back a lot of special memories. Here’s a peek at just some of the collection. I don’t think it will be long before we have to break from tradition and let the kids take some of the ornaments home to decorate their own trees. Either that or we’ll have to put up another tree. 

And this one in my office doesn’t count Every year, my family gifts me with an ornament too. This year they gave me these three adorable ornaments to celebrate the release of the first book in the new Harmony Harbor series, MISTLETOE COTTAGE, and the short story, CHRISTMAS WITH AN ANGEL. 


Find out more about Debbie Mason at her website.


HOPE RAMSAY’S GINGERBREAD COOKIES

Every year for the last quarter-century, or possibly longer, I have set aside the Saturday closest to Christmas to bake gingerbread cookies with my children, and now, with my grandchildren.   These are the only cookies I make at Christmas time, and the activity is more about family fun than turning out a perfect cookie.  Usually I do most of the rolling, cutting, and baking.  And the rest of the family does the decorating.

The magic is in the royal icing.  The white icing is a snap to make, and it can be divided up into small bowls and colored with food dye, creating pots of colored cookie paint.  I give each child (or adult) a watercolor paint brush and let them paint the icing onto the cookies.  The kids have a blast, and the cookies always come out looking wonderfully homemade.  

To me, cookie baking embodies everything I love about Christmas: kids, family, baking, and yummy desserts.

 Displaying Hope Ramsay Gingerbread.jpg

GINGERBREAD COOKIE DOUGH
Makes about 6 Dozen

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dutch cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 cup superfine sugar
1 egg at room temperature
½ cup unsulphured molasses

Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour cocoa, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, backing soda, and salt.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and molasses and beat thoroughly.
On low speed, add the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Cut the dough into thirds, pat into disks, wrap in plastic and chill until firm – 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough about 1/16 inch thick and cut cookies with cookie cutters.  Transfer the cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookie turn brown.
Let cool on sheets and then transfer to a wire rack.  Decorate with royal icing.
ROYAL ICING
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup water

Using a mixer, place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat at high speed until fluffy, thick & shiny (about 10 minutes.)  Divide the icing into smaller bowls and color it using food coloring.  

Find out more about Hope Ramsay at her website.


OLIVIA MILES SNOWFLAKE COOKIES
In my newest release, CHRISTMAS COMES TO MAIN STREET, my heroine owns a cookie bakery. As this story takes place over the holidays, I thought hard about a signature cookie she might make, and eventually I settled on charming snowflake cookies. Of course these are not just any old cut out cookie, though. No, Kara makes them by the dozen, sure to keep each one in the batch distinct in shape and decoration, because no two snowflakes are ever the same, after all! And it’s these snowflake cookies that she delivers every day to the inn in Briar Creek…where a Christmas visitor falls in love with more than just her cookies. 
I hope you all enjoy these snowflake cookies as much as Nate does!  
KARA’S SNOWFLAKE COOKIES (sugar cookie cut-out and royal icing recipes courtesy of Martha Stewart)
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
½ teaspoon salt 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. 
Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies. Transfer cookie dough on plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from freezer and transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough. 
Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. 
ROYAL ICING
2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing 
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, or more to thicken icing 
Juice of 1 lemon 
3 drops glycerin 

Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice and glycerin (if using); beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Decorate each as you wish!

 

Find out more about Olivia Miles at her website.







1 comment:

Laura Thomas said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful holiday books. And I'm loving those recipes too!