A big welcome to Luanna. Her recipes are to-die for so I'm sure you'll enjoy this one. PLUS, Luanna has a new release out TODAY! To celebrate, Luanne has a giveaway for an Amazon gift card (link is below the recipe). Show her some love, leave a comment, and be sure check out her new book!!! ~Carissa
Anyone who regularly reads my blog, or who subscribes to my newsletter, knows that I love to cook. I prepare our supper mostly from scratch five days a week (Mr. S. is in charge of the kitchen on the weekends).
As much as I like to cook, I love to bake even more. Of everything I could bake, I most enjoy baking sweets – cookies, cakes, pies, cheesecakes, squares, brownies, etc. (Why am I so hungry all of a sudden?)
So, given my love of all things sugary, you may be surprised to discover that I’m talking about a non-dessert. But summer is grilling time at my house and since I have yet to perfect BBQ brownies (I’ve yet to try, to be honest) I’ll share one of my favourite summertime chicken recipes.
I discovered this recipe so long ago I don’t recall where it came from and I didn’t make note of the source on the stained recipe card. I suspect it was either Cooking Light, or Bon Appétit. As with many grilled meats, the chicken in this recipe benefits from a marinade, a two-step process in this case. First, the pieces of chicken breast are soaked in a blend of lemon juice and salt for 30 minutes to tenderize the meat. Part B, (anyone else still miss Car Talk on NPR??) the chicken is mixed with the flavourizers (it’s a word, I just made it up) – plain yoghurt, garlic, spices, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for a hint of heat.
If you’re in a bit of a rush, or if, like me, you don’t worry about supper until mid-afternoon, the marinade will do its thing in as little as three hours. But for optimum flavour, it’s best if that magical flavour meld and transfer happens in the fridge overnight. Then you can be sure the fragrant spices have penetrated all the way through each piece of chicken.
I’ve found the best way to grill boneless, skinless chicken breast is to cook on fairly high heat for a fairly short period of time. That way you get the nice charring but the chicken remains moist and tender.
So, when it’s time to cook, preheat your grill on high. Be sure to oil the grates so nothing sticks. Place the skewers on the grates, cover, and cook for five to ten minutes. (You’ll know where the hot zones are in your grill, adjust placement and rotation of the skewers accordingly. For our gas grill, it’s on the left side toward the back.)
Don’t try to move or shimmy the skewers too soon or they’ll stick. When nicely dark grill marks form and the meat is starting to brown (the chicken will be yellow from the turmeric) carefully flip the skewers over and cook a bit longer. The best, and most accurate way to test for doneness is an instant-read thermometer. Barring that, slice into one of the larger pieces of chicken – if it’s no longer pink, then it’s done.
Transfer the skewers to a platter and tent with foil for about five minutes. I usually serve the kebabs with a simple rice pilaf and steamed veggies. Or with corn on the cob if it’s in season locally.
The best dessert for after this meal (we always eat dessert after supper – always) is a bowl of ice cream.
Do you have a favourite summer-time grilling recipe? (If you’ve discovered a recipe for cooking brownies on the grill, please let me know!)
Chicken Tikka Kebabs
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup plain yoghurt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 ½ tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Cut chicken breast into 2-inch pieces and place in bowl. Stir in lemon juice and salt, mix well, let sit for 30 minutes.
Combine yoghurt and next six ingredients in a small bowl, mix well. Stir into chicken, cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Soak wooden skewers, if using, for a couple hours. Preheat grill on high for about 10 minutes.
Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto skewers, leaving about an inch between pieces, discard marinade. Brush grate with vegetable oil. Grill kebabs, covered, for 5 - 10 minutes. Carefully turn them over, cover, and cook for another 5 - 10 minutes. Check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer after the shorter time – the centre of the largest piece needs to register 165F. (If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, slice into the centre of a chicken piece and if there is no pink remaining, the chicken is probably done. Leave on for an extra minute if you’re nervous, but not much longer.) (Grills vary in cooking time so consider my times as guidelines only. Safety first!)
Remove skewers to a platter and tent with foil for 5 minutes. Serve with rice pilaf.
June 26, 2019
Contemporary ~ Small Town Contemporary
Unemployed photojournalist Raynor Elliot stops at a bakery near the famous Deerbourne Inn. Not only is he surprised by a job offer at a regional magazine, he recognizes the bakery's owner. Once an awkward high school kid, she now possesses fabulous curves and an irreverent sense of humor. The cozy bakery, with its delicious smells of sugar, vanilla, and spice, has more to offer than tasty cookies.
Fiona MacLeod has been plagued for years by the need to make amends for telling The Big Lie. When the victim of the lie strolls into her bakery with his icy blue stare and killer charm, she feels like she's standing too close to a hot oven.
Between running her bakery and frosting cupcakes for the Mad River Garden Party, she's pretty sure she's falling in love with this infuriating, sexy man. Can Fiona dredge up the courage to confess, face the consequences, and hope for forgiveness?
Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother's stash of romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after. Luanna writes full time, concentrating on sexy romantic suspense, steamy paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna has recently returned to the land of her birth with her dear husband and two spoiled cats. When she's not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious. Under her previous pen name of Grace Hood she has two novellas published with The Wild Rose Press.
It’s summer and I’ve just completed six weeks of travel for work, family, and vacation. I’ve traveled to Blacksburg and Charlottesville in Virginia to pick up my kids from their colleges, Smithfield, VA—home of the Smithfield hams, Annapolis, MD for a Naval Academy graduation, New Orleans, and Ireland. It’s been fun and exhausting, but I’m glad to be home. After I do the laundry and put away the suitcases, and take a nap, one of my favorite things to do is review my travel journal.
Whether or not I spend one night or ten in a place, I always record everything in my travel journal: names of hotels, restaurants, interesting sights, people I’ve talked to, random details and even doodles. While it can feel like work, when I get home I’m always so happy that I’ve kept a record of where I’ve been and how I felt and even what I ate.
Here are a few reasons why I love keeping a travel journal:
1. I take a ton of photos and store them on a Google drive when I get home to eventually share on Social Media (I never post while I’m traveling. I’m too paranoid). But when I get home, I print out my favorites and stick them into my journal. After each day, I always keep a few pages blank specifically for my photos. Sometimes I also add things like pressed flowers from a New Orleans courtyard, a napkin from an Irish tea shop, or a ticket to see the D-Day Memorial in Virginia.
2. I always record my day, including where I’ve stayed and eaten. I describe places I’ve seen and the people I’ve met. I try to include obscure details like strange smells and unusual foods—things I know I’ll forget once I’m home.
3. I love to sketch, even though I’m horrible at it, and it’s a fun way to keep my memories. Once I’m done with my doodles, I ask my kids to identify what I’ve drawn and write down in the journal what they think they see. They’re never right, but it’s always fun to be mocked by the young.
4. The other thing I love about having a journal is that I never mind eating alone. Once I’m served, I sit and observe and write the world around me.
5. Although I record my day, I also keep notes on the people I’ve met. Most people don’t carry business cards so I track names, numbers, and people with whom I’d like to stay in touch.
6. Keeping a journal gives me a complete, detailed itinerary of our trip I can share with others who are planning their own trip. I’ve also used my diaries when I’ve revisited cities years later to remind me of things I liked and didn’t like.
7. I always leave space for to-do lists for things I need to remember while I’m traveling such as buy day-of theater tickets or next-day museum tickets or make dinner reservations in the next city. It’s amazing what you can forget while traveling.
8. Since I’m always talking to people when I travel, I keep a separate section of the journal for must-dos. Things that aren’t on my itinerary or in my guide book that I learn about from others and decide to see. I even track things that will inspire me to take a future trip to a new place.
9. I write down all of my financial transactions. Although I keep my receipts, I still keep a running tab of every expense and ATM withdrawal, as well as the daily exchange rates. That way there are no surprises when I get home and open my credit card bill! I also keep track of things I buy that I may have to list for U.S. Customs (depending on the country I’m in).
10. Most important, don’t write in your journal as if others are going to read it. Be as irreverent, funny, whiny as you want. Years later, you will appreciate your own candor!
Tips for travel journals:
Keep it small, light-weight, and with a soft cover.
A journal with lined paper makes things easier.
Carry a few pens that write well. Add in a charcoal pencil for drawings.
Bring a glue stick to add in ticket stubs and random Polaroid photos.
Don’t worry about getting it wet or covered in sunscreen. The point is to record your real life—the things that really happened—not create some fake trip you think others will enjoy hearing about.
This journal is for you, your kids, and grandkids. It’s supposed to be messy, imperfect, and fun. It’s a record of where you went, the things you’ve seen, and the kind of life you’ve lived. It’s a record of who you were and how and why you became the person you were meant to be!
I hope you all have a safe summer and happy travels!
One Dark Wish
September 24, 2019
Military ~ Romantic Suspense/Thriller
"Sexy Green Berets, dark secrets, and sizzling chemistry."—Cherry Adair, New York Times bestselling author
Her life must be forfeit for his to be redeemed
Historian Sarah Munro is not used to being shot at, but that's just what happens while she's poking around cemeteries on Georgia's Isle of Grace, searching for the key to a centuries-old cipher. Her quest has unwittingly drawn the attention of two deadly enemies intent on destroying each other—and anyone who gets in their way.
Ex–Green Beret Major Nate Walker is on a mission of his own: to restore the honor of his men. To do that, he is required to stop Sarah—or one of his own men will die. Caught in the middle of a deadly rivalry, Nate can't afford to trust the woman standing in his way. But his heart says he can't afford not to...
Sharon is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes of novels of suspense, adventure, and love. A wife, mother of twins, and caretaker of Donut the one-eyed dog, she’s addicted to snapping photos and eating Oreos. She writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets and their smart, sexy heroines retell Shakespeare’s greatest love stories.
Happy, happy birthday, CM! I hope it was a special celebration of YOU. And no, it's not selfish to want to be loved and recognized. You deserve it as you are awesome! XOXOXO ~Carissa
Let me start with this: I hate my birthday.
Not because I’m a year older, not because I’m almost 40. WAH! 40! No, that’s not it. I call my gray hair ‘silver threads’ or ‘wisdom threads’. I’ve made my peace with growing older in the last few years.
But my birthday, I hate it with a passion. It’s on a stat holiday, so like people born on Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, or any other holiday, I don’t get attention. I know, it sounds incredibly childish, but I’m like that when it comes to my birthday.
When I was a child, school was out already, so I never had a proper party with school friends. As a teenager, my friends would rather go and celebrate the holiday with the bonfire and show in town and as young adults, just about the same and by getting drunk.
How is that celebrating a birthday?
As an adult, I should be over this. I’m not. Well, almost over it.
I want a party. Like a real surprise birthday party for which I know nothing and have organized nothing. Because that’s what happens at a certain age. You organize your own dinner parties, you sit and watch your friends drink (I don’t), and you wait for the fun to start. Sure, it’s nice to catch up with friends but HEY!! Can my awesomeness be celebrated one day out of the whole year?
I want to dress up and not know why.
I want to have my eyes covered, so I don’t know where I’m going.
I want my friends and family to wait in the dark to yell ‘SURPRISE!’.
I want to nearly pee my undies out of fear from getting yelled at.
But most of all, I just want a party dedicated to me.
Does that sound selfish? Maybe. But when you’ve never had something that others have and you want a tiny bit of it, is that selfish?
2019 so far has been a rough year for me. A lot of soul searching, intensive therapy to face traumas, mourning the fact that I’ll never be a mother. I think I deserve some joy for a day. What do you think?
Fortunately for me, my group of friends has changed in the last few years and those friends are, for the most, younger than me, and have great ideas for birthday parties. I do enjoy my time spent in their company and trust that I will get what I want eventually because I do the same for them. The heart of the little girl inside me still wants a surprise birthday party.
EDIT: When I wrote this, it was early May. It’s now mid-June and I was told to stop any plans I’d made for my birthday, that it was taken care of. I hadn’t had time to make up a lot but isn’t it lovely when you throw something to the universe and it answers this way?
So today, happy birthday to me!
CM Peters would like to be ageless but hasn’t found the fountain of youth just yet. She works in the communications field but her true passion is writing. She hails from Québec and has been back at writing regularly after a long break since college. An eclectic writer, CM is equally at home penning short erotica, quality fanfiction, and elaborate sci-fi and fantasy novels. Whatever genre she is working in, CM always centers her stories around complex, relatable characters. At the moment, she's hard at work on a new novel while preparing another for publication. She’s been published in erotica and romance anthologies, a collaborative book with Gallery Books, and co-edited a few anthologies, one coming in 2019. If she's not furiously typing, you'll surely find her with her eyes staring at the chocolate-brown beam in her living room to organize her next outline before putting it down on paper.