Dishing Up Romance and Magnetic Attraction are my current releases. Dishing Up Romance was truly a labor of love for me. Every chef I know dreams of having their own cookbook, and I’m no exception. When Avalon asked me to write this series, I was over the moon knowing my dream was about to come true. And, what better way to combine two of my favorite subjects: romance and food. I hope you enjoy reading the excerpt, and the making the recipe I’ve included below.
Washing vegetables during my externship for the last month at Chez Francoise hadn’t taught me anything about my aspiring career in the culinary arts except to give me chapped hands. I blocked a yawn using my forearm and drained the water, only to refill it for the third time and watch the spinach float to the top.
Charlie Johnson, the executive chef and owner of Chez Francoise entered, and I gasped as I gawked at Mr. Rock-hard Chest Guy standing next to him. I stood up a little straighter. Oh yeah, flashed through my mind. Things were indeed looking up—big time.
I quickly moved behind a wall that jutted out to get a better look at him so those close by wouldn’t witness my girlish fantasies coming to life. He said something to Charlie and as his mouth moved, I watched his sexy lips and crooked smile. Charlie said something to him and pointed in my direction. I jolted back to the sink, my heart now wildly pulsating and watched him head my way. I tried to calm down, but as he got closer, my mind imagined he was Don Giovanni, the Italian Don Juan, and I was Princess Caterina being lured into his world by his good looks and charm. Then all of a sudden, Dad’s favorite song played through my mind.
When the moon . . . hits your eye . . .like a big-a pizza pie.
“That’s amore,” shot out of my mouth like a canyon when he stood next to me, the scent from his aftershave teasing my senses. I cleared my throat to squelch my embarrassment, but then this wasn’t the first time I’d made a fool of myself. He leaned toward me. I inhaled deeply, enjoying the woody scent of what I thought was cedar or pine, but maybe it was the wooden crate of spinach he held in his hands—the one I hadn’t noticed before.
“Amore?” he said with a devilish grin.
“Cooking!” I responded quickly, my index finger doing a standalone. “The food . . . the cooking . . . that’s love—don’t you think?” My lashes fluttered. I couldn’t believe how quickly I’d resorted to acting like a love starved woman who’d been on a deserted island most of her life. Actually, I was, but that’s my doing—darn it!
“Yes, I agree,” he said with a wink. “Food is love. Now, where would you like me to put this crate of spinach?”
“Crate?” I asked, still watching his mouth move, my legs now wavering like a limp piece of liver.
“Yeah,” he said, “Charlie asked me to bring this over to you.”
“Oh, right. More spinach,” I mumbled, too embarrassed to look him in the eyes. “Sorry.” I pointed ahead. “By the sink, please.” I followed close behind, enjoying his back view as much as the front. He placed the crate on the floor then stood and extended his hand. I was barely able to lift mine, now limp and shaking, into his warm palm.
I shook my head. This wasn’t real and I had no desire to become involved with anyone, especially now that I had a new career on the horizon. So why was I so bowled over by his looks? Because he was gorgeous, and I was lonely? Or because I had conflicting thoughts about having a love life?
“I’m Josh Benson.” He interrupted my thoughts. “Are you alright? You look a little pale.”
“Uh huh,” I said, still trying to avoid his baby blues. “I’m Cassie Pirelli,” I stammered. “I’m just getting over a cold.” I didn’t sound nasally, but hey, I thought it might work, but then maybe not so much.
He grinned, and I knew I’d been snagged. He knew exactly what I’d been thinking.
“I’d like to ask you something.”
Ohmigod rushed through my mind as my pulse picked up speed. It had been a long time since any guy had paid attention to me.
“So what did you have in mind?” I said fast and flirty.
I chastised myself, but you think I could stop acting like a jerk? I knew it, and he knew it, but here I stood while he watched me with a cautious eye and a toothy grin. My eyes glanced down at his left hand just for Yuks—you know, in case I was interested, all the while praying I wouldn’t see a ring on that finger. Ah, my prayers were answered. No wedding band. Not even a tan line. My heart skipped another beat.
“How long have you worked here?” he asked.
Dishing Up Romance includes 32 recipes, several of which are my closely guarded family recipes, like my mother’s Tomato Sauce and Meatballs that I’ve weaved into the story. It is currently discounted at Amazon. http://amzn.com/0803474598
And as an extra bonus, I’m pasting in a simple recipe for you. I hope you enjoy them, but beware, you might just enjoy them too much.
NO DATE--NO BAKE CHOCOLATE PEANUTBUTTER DATE BALLS
2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 40-45 cookies)
1/2 cup finely chopped dates
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup peanut butter
5 tbsp dark corn syrup
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp hot water
2/3 cup of confectioner's sugar (for rolling)
This guy shouldn’t be on your mind at a time like this, but your thoughts are all shot to Haiti in a hand-basket. Making these ‘no date’ date balls should clear your head and heart from the tennis match playing out in your brain. Focus on what’s right and ignore the heart palpitations whenever he’s around. Focus girl, focus! Tell your alter ego to take a hike and stop messing with your mind.
In a medium-sized saucepan melt the butter, peanut butter and corn syrup. Stir to incorporate and let bubble, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from stove and add cocoa. Blend with spatula.
Add the nuts and CRUSHED wafers in a large bowl to safeguard your heart from being crushed. Pour chocolate mixture over top and work the mixture with your fingers to form a dough. If the dough is too dry, add one tablespoon of hot water at a time and blend.
Keep your eyes on the prize of success as you form the dough into 30 one-inch balls and less on his abs while you roll the balls into the confectioner’s sugar. Place in an airtight container with a lid to keep them fresh. And in the event you become tempted to go to the other side because you think you’re missing another window of opportunity, break the freakin’ window!
Magnetic Attraction, written by my alter ego, K. T. Roberts is a lighthearted romance with sizzle and released two weeks ago. Needless to say, I’m very excited. The reviews rendering 5 out of 5 stars have been amazing. And . . . drum roll please, my cover was done by our very own multi-talented Wendy Ely. Isn’t it wonderful?
ORDAN BAILEY has issues. She wants it all—like loving and being loved, the flowers, the candy, the romance, and please, a relationship that doesn’t end in disaster. That’s not asking too much, is it?
Apparently so, because discovering her boyfriend of three years is a two-timing dirt-bag isn’t her idea of the happily-ever-after kind of relationship. And while she’s getting even, who could have predicted she’d have a chance encounter with Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell who teaches her how fate, friendship and passion all contribute to “having it all” or will he be swooped up before Jordan ever gets that chance?
Below is an excerpt. I hope you enjoy it. The book is available at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007H0HRNO/ref=cm_sw_su_dp
Here’s chapter two: Jordan and her two friends are going to Miami for a weekend to help her get through her heartache of learning her boyfriend has cheated on her.
Back at Mags’ apartment, Emily and I headed for the kitchen with the food. Mags took off for the bedroom to pack.
“Jor, are you feeling any better?” Emily asked while searching through the drawers to find silverware. Just as I was about to respond, she was shouting out to Mags. “Where are you hiding the silverware? Sorry, Jor. You were saying?”
Mags yelled from the other room. “Check the hall closet.”
“The hall closet?” She shook her head. “Who the hell keeps their silverware in the hall closet?” she asked, looking over her shoulder at me as she walked back into the kitchen. “Jor,” she sighed, “sorry. Go ahead.” With plastic silverware in hand, she shouted. “Mags, food’s ready.”
Mags padded to the table in furry blue slippers. “I’m starving.” She turned to me as she sat down. “How are you doing, Jor?”
She looked over at Emily. “Where are the plates?”
“I couldn’t find them, and I’m exhausted from trying to think from your scary perspective.” Mags jumped up out of her seat, shaking her head. She bent over and opened the cabinet under the sink, and began shifting cleaning products around.
“Under the sink?” Emily said impatiently, shooting me a side-glance. “You know, Mags, you are seriously pathetic.”
“Hey, so I’m not domesticated,” Mags fired back. “You were saying, Jor?”
“Nothing,” I held up my hand, and shuffled off to the living room. I began to regret having invited them to Miami. I listened to their bickering for the next few minutes, my eyes glazing over from the snipes until I couldn’t take it anymore. I got up and walked out the door, closing it behind me. I heard Mags briefly ask Emily about the noise but that only lasted a second before they were back to their favorite pastime. Outside, I flagged down a cab knowing they were in too deep with bickering to even notice I was gone.
The cabbie dropped me off in front of my apartment. I made a speedy exit, unlocked the door and slowly walked to the sofa and flopped down. Ryan’s number flashed across the screen when my phone rang, and I couldn’t shut the ring off fast enough. My pulse shot up. He was adding insult to injury. Why couldn’t he just leave me alone?
I sat for a while, staring into space and trying not to think of anything, but my curiosity got the best of me. I keyed in my pass code and listened to his message.
“Hi Jor, it’s me. My plane just arrived.” He sighed. “I just wanted to check on you, baby.”
Resentment shot through every fiber of my being and my anger flared up again. Why was he torturing me? His infidelity was already out, so why was he playing this game? I grabbed a champagne flute from the cupboard and was reminded of the night he’d given me the six-piece set as a gift—the same night we’d talked about going to the South Beach Palms for our honeymoon. What happened to make him cheat? I could feel my nostrils flare, and wondered if I’d be able to resist chopping the guy’s freakin’ head off if I ever ran into him again. I filled the glass from an opened bottle of champagne on the shelf in the fridge and took a sip of the flat, sickening sweet liquid. It had lost its fizz, just like our relationship.
I scrounged around for something to eat, when the doorbell rang. I knew it was Mags and Emily and listened to them pound on the door. The banging went from a normal tap to successive weight on the bell that was grating on my nerves and forced me to open the door.
Emily forged past me with the bag of food. “Jordan, honey, we are so sorry,” She placed the bag on the counter and came over to me. “C’mon, sit down and we’ll fix you a plate of food.” I didn’t budge.
Mags dropped her suitcase on the floor, then reached out to grab my hand and pulled me upright from the sofa. “C’mon, Jordan, you have to eat something.” I rolled my eyes. “Hey, you know, I just thought of something,” her mouth curled into a smirk, “you remember those zits Ryan had all over his face last week?”
“Yeah. What about them?”
“That was the evil coming out of the dirt-bag.” She squinted her eyes and twirled her finger around like she was mixing a magic potion of poison, “that shit has to come out somehow so it seeps out of their pores in the form of zits.” As our resident comedian, there was no way anyone could avoid laughing at some of the funny things she said and did—except for Emily who’s the oldest of the group, and the least amused by Mags. Em and I gave Mags another side-glance, but I laughed. Mags shrugged, “Hey, that’s what my mother says whenever I have them.”
“My mother used to say the same thing, but that was just about making sure I was toeing the line. Whenever she’d see a red bump on my face, she’d give me the squinted eyes and say, “You did something to get that bump. What was it?” We all laughed and it felt good to release some of the stress I’d felt all day. Finally eating something did help to calm be down as well.
Once we’d finished our take out, I rallied the troops. “Okay,” I said tossing the plates in the trash trying to clean up the mess we’d made. “We’d better hit the road before we miss our flight.”