Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mistress of Malice and Mercy Teaser #2

Another bit of a conversation between Duke and Viola:

"How was the ‘port?” she asked, sinking against his solid heat. Bickering with Duke always lifted her spirits.

Breach-magic fueled teleports weren’t a new concept, but theirs was different. Matching tattoos under their wedding rings directed the energy so that the teleport always took one straight to the other’s side. It was useful in emergencies. Neither had grown used to being yanked out of one place and dumped in another.

“Dizzying as always.” Duke retreated so there was a sliver of space between them. He lifted her chin so she was forced to meet his eyes. “Are we going to talk about this army thing, or are we going to two-step around it all day?”

“I never liked doing the two-step.”

“That’s because you refuse to let your partner lead. You’re doing a damn fine job of avoiding the topic, sugar.”

Viola sighed, slumped forward with her forehead resting against his shoulder. “Elrachaim’s got an army; we don’t. What is there to talk about?”

By the way, are you following the Daughter of Deception blog tour? It's full of excerpts, interviews, reviews, and giveaways. At the end, I'll give away an e-copy of both Daughter of Deception and The Chaos Child. I'd send a copy of MMM along with it, but trust me you wouldn't enjoy it in its current state.

Here's today's interview with The Bookish Snob:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mistress of Malice and Mercy teaser

Okay, I'll admit, I get a little goofy when I read nice things written about Daughter of Deception. Maybe it's because I still see it as that silly little project I used to as a distraction from hell work. Anyway, after reading several very lovely comments about Duke and Viola, I dove into Mistress of Malice and Mercy, the last book in the series.

In the first chapter, Duke and Viola have this little conversation, and I thought I'd share it with the rest of you:

"I know, sweetness, I know." Duke guided her off her chair and onto his lap. Mindful of his still-healing shoulder, he cradled her against his chest with her head tucked under his chin. "I'm sorry about that. Blame it on the fact that I'm running on no caffeine."

"You should have stayed in bed."

"I can't sleep when you're not there with me."

Viola's heart melted. Tears stung her eyes. He was so gruff most of the time that his sweeter side still stunned her. She was glad no one else saw the gooey side to the rough, tough Network region head. "Aww, Tobias."

"I mean, lately you've been a little space heater and it's damn cold in that bedroom."

The tears dried. Her lips thinned. She dug her knees into his hips. "You're a jerk."

So, as you can tell, marriage hasn't changed much for our my favorite couple.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chocolate Chip Scones

Okay, so those don't look like scones. They look like drop biscuits. I used a scone recipe, but they were the last thing on my "to make" list and I got lazy. Very, very lazy. Rather than rolling them out and cutting them into pretty little circles, I did what any good Southern gal does with a bowl of biscuit batter - I dropped them on the baking sheet by the spoonful. I call them "rustic" or "country" - or you can call them lazy. I won't be offended.

I made two batches using the same basic recipe - one "plain" and one chocolate chip. The chocolate chip leftovers were devoured by the guys at work. The others I hoarded and took to work for breakfast along with a little raspberry jam. I am not looking forward to going back to cold cereal next week. I have been thoroughly spoiled. Now, I did use almond milk, so mine were likely a little sweeter than intended, but the milk worked perfectly.

(For those who have made scones before: is the dough supposed to be super sticky? This was my first time, and I wasn't sure what the dough was supposed to be like).

Here is my recipe (taken from... I don't remember):

Basic recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup almond milk

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. (I used my hands. It's fun!Stir in the egg. (If you are making the chocolate chip ones, here is where you add 1-1/2" teaspoon and 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips).

Gradually add the milk until a thick dough is formed.

(This next step is the one I skipped)
Turn out the mixture onto a floured board and knead lightly. Roll out the dough to 3/4" thickness and cut into rounds with a 2" cookie cutter. Gather the trimmings and lightly knead, roll, and cut them as well.

Place the rounds about 1" apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little beaten egg or milk. Bake in a preheated 450° oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Almond milk chocolate sheet cake

I love chocolate sheet cake! It was one of my favorite desserts as a kid. There's just something about all that chocolate and the unique flavor (maybe it's the vinegar and baking soda) that sets it apart from other cakes. When planning the menu for Sunday's tea party/Pride & Prejudice marathon, I found a recipe for a chocolate sheet cake that uses almond milk. Since milk from a cow sometimes makes me sick and my aunt is lactose intolerant, I thought it was perfect.

I added more cocoa than the recipe called for simply because I got a little carried away. The cinnamon flavor got lost, but I think that's because I did go overboard with the cocoa. This cake smells amazing when you are making it - you boil the butter, milk, and cocoa so it smells like hot chocolate and then you pour that over the sugar/flour/cinnamon mixture and it makes you want to grab a spoon and just dig in (I don't recommend it, though). The cake was a huge hit at the tea party. I brought what was left to work today and it disappeared before I could run out to the car to grab a box of plastic forks! If you see about fifteen guys with chocolate around their mouths, they work for me!

All the food at the tea part went over very well (which makes me happy because I spent all day Saturday baking). I will post pictures and recipes throughout the week.

-- Note, because I wanted to cut the cake in small pieces, I put it in the fridge for a couple of hours once it was done. It will cool very nicely on it's own, but if you want the glaze to harden faster you should chill it. --

Taken from the Silk Pure Almond website, here is the recipe for the chocolate sheet cake.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butter or margarine
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 cups Silk Pure Almond Vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup margarine or butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons Silk Pure Almond Vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Whisk together flour, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter or margarine. Add cocoa and Pure Almond and bring to a rapid boil. Remove from heat and pour over dry ingredients, mixing well. Stir in soda, vinegar and eggs. Mix well and pour into prepared pan. Bake in top rack of oven for 20-25 minutes. While cake is still warm, prick thoroughly with a fork and pour frosting over cake.
I sprinkled mini chocolate chips over the top of the cake before I poured the frosting. They partially melted and added another layer of chocolate yumminess.

To make the frosting:
Melt butter or margarine in a medium saucepan. Add cocoa and Pure Almond and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar, vanilla and nuts. Keep warm.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Soundtrack Fridays - Daughters

This song wasn't on any of my original playlists. I like John Mayer just fine, but he didn't fit in with the characters or the story. While going through my frighteningly large collection of music looking for songs to put on playlists (this is a task that can take days because I get distracted), I hit play for "Daughters" because I hadn't heard it in a long time. My husband laughed at how perfectly it seemed to describe Viola and her father. He was right, as he often is. I hate to quote tv pundits, but the "defining moment" in Viola's life was her father's disappearance.

Enough rambling! Here's the song:

John Mayer - Daughters by naoufel-actor

I have a tea party on Sunday (we're going to watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice), so I will be baking my little heart out on Saturday. That's what I get for volunteering to make all the food. I found a recipe for a chocolate cake that uses almond milk, and I've never made scones before so we'll see how that turns out. I'll share my triumphs (or, you know, utter failures) with you Monday.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Viola's Banana Bread

Duke has made no secret of the fact that he loves banana bread. In Daughter of Deception he calls it the perfect apology food. Later in the series, he mentions that Viola gets revenge on him by lacing the banana bread with cayenne pepper.

Here is Viola's banana bread recipe:

1-1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon each: ground cloves, ground nutmeg, ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(Or if you'd like, use 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice - this recipe is spicy, alter to your tastes)
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 to 2 cups mashed bananas (about five or six very ripe ones)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9x5 loaf pan
- Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the ingredients and set aside.

- In a second, medium bowl mash the bananas - I find it's easiest to put the peeled bananas in the bowl, cover them with the sugar, and then use a fork or potato masher to mash them. The sugar works as an abrasive to break up the bananas.

- Add the egg, vegetable oil, and vanilla to the banana and sugar mixture. Combine.
- Dump the wet ingredients into the well in the dry ingredients. Fold until just moistened. I usually try to keep it to under 30 strokes.
- Pour into loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 50 - 55 minutes. Let cool.
- Enjoy.
Actually, I find that banana bread tastes best after it has been sitting for twelve hours or so. (If you make it at night, it makes a wonderful breakfast).

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need a late night snack!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Soundtrack Fridays - Born on the Bayou

Good Friday morning! It's beautiful outside - I'm stuck inside, but I'm trying not to think about that right now.

This week's track comes from Daughter of Deception again. At the end of chapter thirteen, Duke and Viola have a small discussion about music. She chooses a Creedence Clearwater Revival CD as a compromise between her grunge/rock preference and his country music leanings.

This is the first song they hear:

Foo Fighters did a cover of this song that's not bad. Who am I kidding? It's pretty damn awesome. CCR + Foo Fighters = great music.

Did you know that Houston is known as the Bayou City? Since they were both born in Houston, it's an appropriate song.

Plus, it's just fun.

Have a great weekend!