The Recipe Challenge

Scout Son once said there could never be too much chocolate. Today, he recanted.

I love to cook. My ex-husband would question that, and to be fair, there was a 10 year period when I hated to cook. But really, when every meal is met with “Eeeewwwww! Nnnnnoooooo!” by the short people in my house, who would want to cook?

But those years of child torture paid off, and now I can cook again. Which is good since during those years I collected a lot of recipes. Like, inches of magazine recipes. Here’s the thing. I never make those recipes.

I’m like most of you. I have maybe 10 go to recipes. You know the ones I mean. You’re on your way home from work and you need to make something for dinner and you decide on spaghetti because you know everything that goes into the sauce because you lived off of it for those 10 years when you weren’t allowed to cook anything challenging.

The problem is that half of my go to recipes are desserts. What can I say? Come to my house, I can whip up a cake from scratch. Dinner? Um…

So last week I challenged the kids. I dumped all the recipes on the table and said, “Pick two each, one real meal, one dessert. I’ll make them this week.” And going forward, we’re picking a couple of recipes every other week to try, until we work through the pile. Keepers actually get hole-punched and put into the recipe binder.

Linguine with Four Cheese Sauce
Linguine with Four Cheese Sauce

Scout Son immediately picks up Rotini and Cheese (Cooking Light, November 2010). And I think, really? Glorified mac and cheese? That wasn’t even the recipe I had wanted to try on that page! But as I was lamenting the lack of challenge, Scout Son and Snarky Daughter came through. Linguine with Two-Cheese Sauce (Cooking Light, July 2011). Brown Sugar Soufflé with Crème Anglaise (Cooking Light, June 2011).

Yeah, if you think Cooking Light is non-fat, non-taste food, go back. They’ve changed. Now it’s healthy, low-fat awesome stuff. Recipes with bacon, butter and sugar. In moderation.


Anyway, Scout Son still had a dessert to pick. And he didn’t

Too much chocolate? They are a bit rich.
Too much chocolate? They are a bit rich.

disappoint, although once again, not what I had pulled the page for: Double-Chocolate Profiteroles (Real Simple, December 2010). Puff pastry with chocolate ice cream and dark chocolate sauce.

These are what have my son decided might have too much chocolate. They don’t really, but quantity is key here. Three is too many because these suckers are rich. But if you’re having a bad day, or need something to go with a big red wine, buongiorno profiteroles!

I made three out of four. The soufflés will have to wait, mostly because I don’t have the right pans.

No awesome new recipes this week. Tomorrow, in honor of fall, it’s Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream ( It’s not one of the 10 recipes yet – I forgot the leeks and will be headed back to the grocery store tomorrow – but it’s a family favorite.

And sometimes, favorites are more important than trying new things.



Following the Dreams of the Fallen

I promise usually my posts will reflect my writing attitude, which is usually somewhere between sassy and snarky. But this week I had a unique experience that I need to share, and that’s what blogs are for, right?

Last week, I attended Scout Son’s Boy Scout meeting. As Merit Badge and Rank Advancement Goddess I pretty much have to attend meetings. But I don’t pay much attention. I’m there to collect paperwork and enter it in a database. Period. Yeah, I volunteer to do that. Confession: I plot my books in Excel. Using different colored text for each plot line. So the merit badge database is sort of relaxation for me.

Anyway, this week at the end of the meeting, the Grand Poobah of Scouts called us all together. Including me. This is never done. We had a contract. OK, technically the contract was “no uniform, no way,” but in my mind that implied no end of ceremony stuff either.

So we got into a circle. In the middle of the circle was an odd-colored brick. Only it wasn’t a brick. It was a hunk of steel. From the World Trade Center. Most of our boys were too young to remember 9/11. They don’t remember being able to keep your shoes on when you went through airport security, or being able to walk your family to the gate and watch their plane take off.

But they understood the gravity of that steel block. They understood the marks on the side where the metal had been sheared away. You’d expect it to have been silver. It wasn’t. It was black and rust-colored.

The owner of the block had asked for a piece of the wreckage during the clean-up, and was allowed to have this piece with the stipulation that he not sell it. And so he held on to it, kept it locked away, until Sunday. He brought it to his church service. Our Grand Poobah asked if he could bring it to our meeting, and so, there it was, sitting in front of a room full of formerly-screaming-now-silent boys.

We had the opportunity to touch it. To try to pick it up. Those of us who picked it up were surprised by how heavy it was. Heavy with the hopes, fears and dreams of all those we lost that day, and those who continue to give their lives today because they fearlessly went into the pit to save others. Heavy with the prayers, tears and grief of those they left behind.

Having picked up that block of steel, I carry some of the grief of those who lost someone to a tragedy that knew no borders. We all do. Hopefully, by carrying that grief across all our shoulders, we ease the pain of those who lost someone that day. A flight attendant in Pennsylvania. The boy you watched grow into a man.

I also carry the weight of those hopes and dreams that were never met. I owe it to those we lost to live life to the fullest and reach for my dreams. Never stop believing. In the words of Yoda, “There is no try. Do or do not.”

So I write. Because to do anything less is to dishonor the dreams and potential we lost on 9/11.

Follow your dreams, wherever they lead.


Countdown Begins to Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé

Wow. This is like a first date without having to stare awkwardly at the guy across the table. Or a decent meal to go with it. Hang on, this whole initial blog announcement needs something to go with it. Wine…dog drool (that’s Cassie’s suggestion for anything having to do with the computer)…chocolate. That’s it. Celebratory chocolate!

I’m so excited my book is entering the final stages of publication. Cover art, line edits, reviews, cover quotes, website, blog. There’s so much to do before The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé is released in November.

Obviously, I’m starting with the website and blog so you all can get to know me while the excitement builds. This is the first of my Heiress at the Door books. The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé takes place in a small coastal town in North Carolina. Take a bit of Morehead City, add a dash of Wilmington, and a smidge of all the other small Carolina towns I’ve visited over the years, and you get Blakely.

Later Heiress books will take place in San Francisco and Europe. Having lived on both coasts, I’ve taken my favorite parts of each locale and made them the backdrop for my sassy romances.

If you know me, you know I’m the sarcastic one. I can’t turn it off, and stopped trying to years ago. It shows in my stories. I’m still trying to get a handle on the webiste, blog, tweets #NoCassienotTreatstweets and everything else that goes into a book launch. So bear with me while I work out the kinks.

When I’m not writing, I’m gardening (can you hear the weeds laughing?), knitting, cooking and playing with my kids and the crazy pets we have. Or running from the kitten who currently rules the house. It keeps me busy. When seriously avoiding deadlines I can be found baking sinful things, like the chocolate chip and pecan cookies I made earlier this week when Photoshop was being cranky about my banner.

So, welcome to my world. My clothes are a little tight, the kids and the music are loud, and there’s a fair chance a Doberman is howling in the background. But without chaos, I’d lose my mind!