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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mother's Day Approaches

Are you tired of giving your mom bath salts and scented candles? Looking for something exciting and new to share with her? First, obviously, you should grab her a copy of my fun, sexy Recipe for Love series. : )

But if she's already read those, here are a few more ideas! I love this gift list--it makes me wish I had kids, so I could ask for the adorable canvas chalkboard jars or the Tartine Bread Cookbook. Something on here is bound to jumpstart your creativity, and make this the happiest Mother's Day ever for the maternal-type-person in your life.

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Books are Out!

I love Tuesdays! Every Tuesday, a whole bunch of brand new books are released into the wild, ready to be caught and devoured by ME. And today is an extra special release day, because it's the first day I'll be able to get my grabby hands on Face of Danger by Roxanne St. Claire.

FoD is the third installment in the Guardian Angelinos romantic suspense series, about an Italian-American family of private investigators in Boston. This one happens to focus on a character I've been obsessed with since she first appeared in the free prequel to the series! Vivi Angelino, the heart and soul of the organization--and one of the most vivid, memorable, exciting heroines to cross this reader's path in years. Don't believe me? Check out this excerpt from the book. I guarantee you'll understand immediately why I've been dying to read FoD for months now.

I've already ordered my copy, but if you want one of your own, you can get it at Amazon, B&N, Borders, wherever hot, sexy, exciting page-turners are sold!

What's at the top of your TBR pile?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Menu

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend full of fun and family! I definitely did. We got together with my parents and my sister, and cooked up a storm.

We had:

Gruet Sparkling Wine

Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Creamy Champagne Vinaigrette
Courgettes (Baby Zucchini) and Avocado Carpaccio with Pistachios

Lamb chops with Lemon
Moroccan Spiced Baby Carrots
Roasted Easter Egg Radishes with Brown Butter
Minted Mashed Peas

Fresh Berries with Whipped Cream

Follow the links to see the recipes we used! I'd highly recommend all of them, especially the lamb and the zuchinni and avocado carpaccio. Really special. And by making the vegetables the focus of the meal, with just a little taste of meat, we had a hugely satisfying Easter dinner that didn't make me feel like I needed a nap afterward.

What did you eat this weekend? Feel free to share your favorite recipes!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Swimsuit Season Ahoy!

For most of the country, the days of fun in the sun are still far off, but here in Austin, they've pretty much arrived. Guess I should've started thinking about this months ago, but I'm finally feeling the need to get back to eating right and working out! Better late then never.

My current plan is to count calories, avoid all processed foods, including white sugar, and focus on Michael Pollan's healthy eating goals: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Real food, portion control, nearly vegetarian (but I plan to eat seafood, to keep my protein up.) Sound good? Anyone have any deliciously light recipes they'd like to share? I'll post the ones I make that turn out well...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring Cooking

This Huffington Post article on ham made me wonder what most people eat for Easter dinner. In my family, we usually jump all over the chance to have lamb. But I'm open to new ideas! What do you like to serve as your main dish?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blood, Bones & Butter

I'm really into memoirs right now--especially memoirs by chefs I admire, like Gabrielle Hamilton, the famously straightforward, tough chef/owner of Prune in Manhattan. Her new book, Blood, Bones & Butter, is a beautifully written, unflinchingly honest window into the evolution and life of a restaurant. The stories from her unconventional childhood and young adulthood provide glimpses of the inspirations for some of her more iconic dishes at Prune, and it's fun to watch her destiny unfold. But mostly, the writing is great and totally sucks you in. 

After this, I plan to read Grant Achatz's Life on the Line, and follow it up with a switch to the world of pro tennis for Andre Aggassi's memoir. 

What's your favorite kind of book to get lost in, other than romance?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Musical Man

I'm not a huge musical theater fan (at least, not compared to some people I know) but I do enjoy it. Especially when it's done as well as this past weekend's staged reading (and singing!) of Sondheim's classic Company with the NY Philharmonic! Neil Patrick Harris (swoon) played Bobby, the main character, a single guy whose married friends are always trying to convince him to get serious about relationships. The best couple was Stephen Colbert and Martha Plimpton, who delighted the audience with some extremely physical humor and acrobatics, and basically stole every scene they were in. What a blast! The performance also featured the powerhouse diva of divas, Patti LuPone, singing the iconic "Ladies Who Lunch" and blowing us all away.

It seems to be my week for unforgettable theater experiences. What's your favorite musical or play?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pickle This

My husband got me the best gift this year--a two-day class at the French Culinary Institute in NYC! All our plans are in place, we have hotel reservations and dinner with friends and theater tickets...and we get a call yesterday that the class is cancelled. BOO.

But do we cancel our trip? Hell to the no! We soldier on. And find a new class to take! Slightly smaller, more intimate and hands on--and all about pickles.

That's right, pickles. They're not just those limp, yellow-died spears of ex-cucumber anymore! You can pickle just about any vegetable, and some fruits too, with very interesting, delicious effects. I've been curious about the process for a while, and now I'm going to unlock its mysteries with Bob McClure's class! Can't wait. I'll definitely report back on what I learn, and maybe share a recipe or two.

What's the cooking technique you're most interested in mastering?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New Excerpt Posted!

The countdown to the Rising Star Chef series continues! To tide you over until August 2nd, here's a brand new, never before seen excerpt from the first chapter of Too Hot to Touch. If you've been wondering about the smokin' hot hero on the cover, this is your chance to meet Max Lunden! And his heroine (and rival chef) Jules Cavanaugh. Check it out and let me know what you think. Below is a tidbit to get you going! Click on the snippet to read the rest of the chapter...

Chapter 1 

The dining room was deserted, the cracked red leather of the banquettes sagging sadly over the snowy white, tablecloths. 

From here, she couldn’t tell that those linens were all fraying at the edges, but she could see every chip, every indelible scuff mark, in the gorgeous black and white tiles covering the floor. 

Jules Cavanaugh peered out the round glass window cut into the kitchen door and remembered another night when Lunden’s had been empty, just like this. Only tonight, there was no blizzard. No storm. No snow. 

And no customers, either. 

Mind full of the worries that had become all too common over the last year and a half—is it time to talk Gus into shutting down lunch service? Do we really need four servers on Thursday nights if we don’t get more than ten covers all night long? What am I going to tell Gino when he calls about next week’s beef order? They’re not going to extend our credit forever, even if Gino’s great-grandfather supplied the first steaks ever cooked at Lunden’s—Jules had managed to tune out most of the commotion behind her. 

A kitchen full of chefs with nothing to do was a recipe for trouble, and the Lunden’s crew was no exception... 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

These tired guys are my Border Terriers, Hunter and Oscar. We just finished the Mighty Texas Dog Walk, a 3-mile trek to benefit the Texas Hearing & Service Dogs! Here's hoping we managed to break the world record for number of dogs on a walk, too.

We saw a lot of great dogs today, including a 182-pound Great Dane, a dachshund in a Batman t-shirt, and a Pomeranian groomed to look like a lion.

Tell me about your pets!

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