Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's Been Awhile!

I haven't written anything in so long I'm not sure this is really me typing the blog post... Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but my life has been so crazy busy I'm not sure where to begin.

Sadly, my life has not been busy with writing. Summer will be delayed... Maybe she will make a winter debut.

I've had an interesting summer filled with fun activities like a Zoo trip. What an exciting time and there is no sarcasm in that statement. We really had a blast. It was hot but the animals were super cooperative anyway. That polar bear is truly an entertainer. He waits until you're staring into the glass hoping that you can catch just a glimpse of his snowy white pelt then he swims right up to the window, stands straight up in your face and smiles a big beaming grin as he kicks off the wall -- all 16 or so feet of his incredible mass. Wow.

Went to the world's largest recorded family reunion. It was my great-grandfather's family. His name was Henry Grow. He had four wives and 32 children. With 32 children it doesn't take too long before you have lots and lots of descendants. To date, the family association has identified over 10, 000 relatives. I found 2 cousins right here in Alpine. That was an amazing event.

Went boating for the first time in many years...decades, I'm sure. Had uber fun. I think I could live on a boat. I love the rock and roll, the speed, the exhilaration and the tubing! Yes, folks, the old grandma went tubing behind my son's boat. The same son who tried to pitch me off the tube. Wow. I survived but had a nice sunburn to heighten the fun barometer.

Went on a trip to SLC. Visited the church museum and played in the kids hands-on section. Went to City Creek for the first time. Went to Heritage Park and visited all the pioneer sites. Lots of fun there. My son-in-law was the engineer for the Bowery which greets people as you enter the park. The grandkids rode ponies and played with pigs and goats and chickens. Great memories.

Kids and grandkids were all over the place this summer so we bought an above the ground swimming pool. Those take a considerable amount of care. More than I remembered.

Heck, I even got a jury summons for Federal Court. I was not selected (I was probably the only one who thought it would be fun, however) which was a good thing as it would have been just one more thing to keep Summer at bay.

So, as summer winds down, maybe Summer will wind up! Still have a few unmastered items on my plate but as all those whittle down writing will make a comeback. So to all you Summer fans... don't abandon her. It may only be an ebook... but it will be a book. Looking forward to winter and to the Winters.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My New Cookie Cookbook!

My new cookie cookbook has been published! And you won’t believe the price. Time to Bake! Cookies & Bars: Easy Recipes, Expert Tips is  just $2.99. You can order it here for Kindle, or here for Nook.

I grew up in a house where homemade cookies reigned. Every Saturday evening, the aroma of hot cookies would fill the house. My mother had a wooden cookie box in the shape of an old butter bucket, lined with wax paper and stocked with all kinds of homemade cookies. For my children, opening Grandma’s cookie jar was like discovering hidden treasure. In my new cookie cookbook, I  share my family recipes along with tips.

Here is what my publisher is saying about my book: “Whether you are looking for elegant holiday cookies, a chocolate indulgence, or something with that cozy, homemade goodness, you will find it in this exquisitely photographed, easy-to-use cookbook.”

My cookie cookbook was inspired by the main character of my fictional LDS series "A Summer Winter Murder Mystery." You can find my Summer Winter books here.

Time to Bake! Cookies & Bars has a lot of great recipes, and photos of every recipe. They include:

These cookies are a true chocolate addict’s delight. We start with a great chocolate chip cookie recipe, and then instructions for dipping. The results are as tasty as they are beautiful.

For my family, these cookies mark the holidays -- and not just Christmas. Because they are undoubtedly my husband’s favorite cookie, I make them for his birthday, our anniversary, Valentine’s Day and Christmas.

This recipe has its origins from the Scovil Bakery in Nauvoo, Illinois. I was visiting the restored City of Joseph (a loving endearment for Nauvoo) and followed my nose to the door of this old-fashioned bakery. I’ve included these cookies in my neighbor gifts for the past several Christmases and they are a huge hit. If you use a straw to cut a hole before baking, they will become ornaments to hang on a tree.

This cookie is certainly delicious! Enjoy this cookie -- it’s one of my favorites. While I was baking these cookies for the photo-shoot for this book, my son came over. Standing in the kitchen, he ate four before I could get the next pan filled. I piled a plate full for him to take home to his family and before he left I had to refill his plate! Maybe I should have made the double batch just for him.

I am a reader and a writer. I read and write murder mysteries. When my publisher released my first mystery in 2010, I threw a launch party and served these cookies. You’ll see why this cookie was such a big hit at my mystery book launch. If you love chocolate like I do, then indulge!

My third daughter, Rabecca, created this next cookie for her dad. My husband loves cookies. One day, he decided he needed to lose a few pounds -- but giving up cookies was impossible for him. Rabecca undertook to invent a healthy cookie so her Dad could guiltlessly enjoy them while he was dieting. These cookies are hearty and filling. They freeze well. Every now and then, my husband will call Rabecca and say, “Feel like making me some carrot cookies?” And of course, she does. Graciously, she shared this recipe with me for this book.

If you are looking for something sweet but salty, this will become your cookie of choice. They come from my baking daughter, Jennefer. She loves the combination of salt and sugar and these cookies were born in her kitchen. She also graciously let me use her recipe for this book. Make them big. The pretzels need room to stick out of the cookie. Instead of plain pretzels, try using the chocolate covered pretzels. I did and the added chocolate is divine.

This recipe uses chocolate/pretzel M&Ms in place of chocolate chips. I like the M&M’s coloring the cookies and for those milk chocolate lovers the extra chocolate is de-lish.

It has been my experience that butter makes a cookie taste richer. I use “good quality” butter almost exclusively… except for this cookie. Shortening really lives up to its claim to produce a higher, softer cookie. My mother made a cookie similar to this one. I use pecans to her walnuts but the coconut in this cookie blends with either nut. This is a calm infusion of flavors. It’s just good. Coconut lovers will delight in the subtle tastes that meld into one great treat.

This cookie sprang from a desire to see just what cocoa does to an oatmeal cookie. This subtle cookie turns into a flavor-packed tongue-teaser with a combo of intense flavors. Chocolate tastes great with oatmeal!

What cookie cookbook would be complete without a brownie recipe? I’ve tried hundreds of brownie mixes, shortcut versions, and long drawn-out recipes and this is without a doubt the best brownie recipe out there.

I like this one for brownies. This is smooth and spreadable. Wait until the brownies are cool before frosting. If you can anyway.

I like mint. I like chocolate. I love mint and chocolate. One of the best things about Christmas treats is the candy cane. Waiting for them to arrive in the stores is almost painful. And, those new soft canes are almost too delicious to be true. Did you know putting them in a blender or food processor turns them into the best topping for anything delicious like ice cream, cakes and cupcakes, sugar cookies and yes, frosted brownies? This recipe is my version of peppermint and chocolate brownie. So delicious!

These brownies start include a thick chocolate glaze over a caramel layer. If you are a caramel lover, this recipe will send your head spinning. Best brownies ever!

My youngest son is a cookie baker. He furnishes his family with Snickerdoodles. When moved upon, he takes these homemade goodies into work. Ahhhs and oohs are always the reaction. I’ve taken his recipe and hyped up the cinnamon burst with cinnamon chips. What a great addition to the sweet chip family. So many possibilities!

Hosting parties for her friends was a favorite past time of my mother, and her favorite food for parties was cookies. My wedding plans hit a stall when my mother had to have major emergency surgery just three weeks before. We’d been talking about finger foods, but with my mom laid up, my sisters and I resorted to cookies. Following my mother’s plan, we made one-bite cookies – gazillions of them. It was a hit.

As you have guessed, chocolate is my passion. I have a sign in my house that reads: “Wheat is for Man. Chocolate is for Woman.” Chocolate comes in many tastes and types -- I prefer a moderate dark. Richness is vital to my chocolate taste. No cheap chocolate for me (grabbing a desperate handful of chocolate chips doesn’t count.) This cookie is rich with chocolate in many forms. While baking these treasures please inhale the incredible aroma. That one simple act will brighten your day and enrich your life.

A couple of my kids love -- with a capital L -- peanut butter. They also love chocolate. Combine the two and you’ve got a hit. Just ask Hershey’s. Try this cookie and you’ll never go to the grocery store to buy a peanut butter cup again. (Sorry, Hershey’s!)

In the never-ending quest to feed her family healthier snacks, my daughter, Rabecca, shared this version of her peanut butter cookie. Just the fact that it’s a cookie guarantees that something is going to upset someone’s body balance, but these cookies are a tad healthier and super delicious as well. These taste so great you won’t believe they have a healthy slant. And, these taste just like PB&J sandwiches! The resemblance is amazing.

Just like PB&J, or salt and pepper (or chocolate and just about anything) caramel and apples seem to be made for eternal togetherness. This next cookie is the only bar cookie I offer (besides brownies, of course). This recipe is made so much easier by the invention of caramel chips – another wonderful addition to the sweet chip family. Try this cookie at the beginning of fall when apples cry out to be eaten.

You know how they say the mother of invention is necessity? Well, after once spying caramel chips in the grocery store, and creating this recipe based on those chips, I couldn’t find them anymore. So being the resourceful person that I am, I invented my own quick and easy recipe for caramel chips. You won’t believe how easy!

My husband loves this recipe. Because his heritage is from Edinburgh, Scotland, he thinks shortbread cookies belong to him exclusively. He likes all shortbread cookies. Adding chocolate chips to a basic cookie like this just makes it better. Here is where my husband’s taste differs from mine. While he prefers milk chocolate; I fancy dark. So I divide the dough in two sections, adding his chips and my chips respectively. Dipping the bottoms of the cooled cookies into melted chocolate gives them a festive look. I save this extra step for gift giving or Christmas treats.

This is without a doubt one of my favorites. It’s the one that nine out of ten times filled my mother’s cookie jar. But, ever since I can remember, she tweaked this recipe. My mother has been deceased for 20 years now and I am the grandmother of sixteen so when I say I can remember a long time back, I really mean it. Nearly everyone has a different version of the classic chocolate chip recipe. It seems that no matter what you do to a chocolate chip cookie, it is a delicious treat.

Oatmeal is such an easy addition to cookies. Quaker Oats used to use a slogan which read: “If it’s good for them in a bowl, it’s good them in a cookie.” I couldn’t agree more. This cookie is hands-down my favorite (Forgive me if they are all my favorite!) I have to hide them or I will eat the entire batch!

The book also includes bonus recipes for

And tips for:
- Baking with a fresh apple substitute
- Cooling Your Baking Pans
- Working with peanut butter, cocoa, brown sugar, and coconut
- Baking with food coloring
- Pressing cookies
- and much, much more!

Time to Bake! Cookies & Bars: Easy Recipes, Expert Tips is just $2.99. You can order it here for Kindle, or here for Nook.

My cookie cookbook was inspired by the main character of my fictional LDS series "A Summer Winter Murder Mystery." You can find my Summer Winter books here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Contests and More Contests!

Recently I sponsored via my friend Roseanne on Goodreads. The winners received a copy of Taya: Daughter of Jacob (my young adult Book of Mormon romance/adventure) and NYC: Murder Brooklyn Style, A Summer Winter Mystery.

I seem to like long titles... Oh well.

Anywho... as my mother would have said... Hundreds of people entered and 3 people won! Yay!!!! Lucky 3!

I hope all the rest of them buy the ebooks or the paperbacks... I'm not choosy...

Currently, down in California at Lehi's Tree Bookstore owned by my friend JoLynn Cook, there is another contest going. This is a fun contest with nothing to do but write your name on a card and put it in a box for a drawing happening at the end of JoLynn's Grand Opening... YAY!.... The winner will have their name used as a character in my upcoming 3rd Summer Winter Mystery, NYC: Monopoly on Murder.

Doesn't that sound fun? Why, yes, it does... So, I'm sure JoLynn would love to see you at her Grand Opening and I'd love to have you want to be used as a character in my next book!

I'm saving a spot for you as I write... Catch ya' later.

NYC: Murder Brooklyn Style

NYC: Murder Brooklyn Style
Dang this copyrighted stuff! Couldn't get rid of the red face!

NYC: A Mission To Die For

NYC: A Mission To Die For