Monday, February 24, 2014

Low Carb: Chicken with Pepperoni Marinara Sauce

This past week, my hubby tweaked one of my favorite Cooking Light recipes for me - Chicken with Pepperoni Marinara Sauce. For most of you, the official recipe will fit in to your carb allowance. But I'm only allowed 25 carbs per meal, so it was just a tad out of my range. Here's how we tweaked it:

Rather than broiling, my hubby decided to bake the chicken. So into a ceramic casserole dish they went. He used his handy dandy baking thermometer to let him know when the chicken breasts were halfway-done. Then he added light scoops of the pepperoni sauce mixture (his version was Chunky Mushroom Ragu sauce with chopped pepperoni added) and just a little bit of cheese. Both of these helped cut down the carbs. Back into the oven the meal went, until the thermometer said they were done.

He had extra sauce and cheese on the table for the rest of the family. A side of pasta for the munchkins and steamed veggies for the entire family. It was super delicious and I didn't miss my chicken being drowned in sauce. My youngest son, who really doesn't like spaghetti sauce, preferred this recipe version. He scraped off the sauce, ate the cheese with it and said the chicken breast just had a hint of extra flavor.

However you choose to make Chicken with Pepperoni Sauce, it will be a winner! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Low Carb Bell Pepper "Sandwich" and a Giveaway Winner

I recently had to change my diet - per orders of the doc. Low carb. Gasp! All my fave foods will now be a very rare indulgence. Thankfully, with the help of many fabulous friends, I am discovering new yummy foods. Today, I'm sharing a sandwich option I never even considered!

The Bell Pepper "Sandwich"

1 bell pepper, halved and deseeded
Meat salad of your choice (tuna, chicken, etc)
Toppings (onions, celery, pickles, shredded cheese, nuts, etc)

Simply fill each half of the bell pepper with your meat salad. Add your toppings and enjoy!

I made mine with tuna and celery salad, then topped it with onions and pickles. It was super delicious and surprisingly very filling. My kids even tried it and most them really liked it.


Sweet Confections Cover Reveal Giveaway Winner

A huge sincere thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway. Thank you for all your comments, tweets and Facebook messages. I'm super excited to share the rest of the journey of my book release with you. And now, the winner of the $10 Redbox gift card and advance ebook copy of Sweet Confections is . . .

Destiny Shackleford! Congrats!!!





Thursday, February 13, 2014

Interview with Debut Author Lisa Swinton and another Giveaway!

Today, I'm excited to share an interview with Lisa Swinton, one of my fabulous writers group friends. Her first novel, Fallen Angel, just came out last week. If you love Italy, drama and romance, then you should definitely check it out!


 Book Blurb

 Antonio does not believe in love at first sight until he sees her fall into a street in Milan and get hit by a motorcycle. Compelled to know if she can return his affection, he becomes Renatta’s hospital volunteer only to learn that the accident erased her memory. Together they must discover her past, present and future. In the way of happily ever after stand her opera career, tyrannical mother, and fiancé.

Antonio must win Renatta’s heart before she bends to the will of her mother and marries Marcello.Failure means a lifetime of loneliness, for love at first sight never happens twice.



About the Author

Lisa Swinton caught the romance bug early by way of fairy tales and hasn’t been able to cure it since. Instead, she feeds her addiction with romance novels and films. In between being a doctor’s wife and mother of two, she occasionally puts her B.A. in Musical Theater to good use via community theater, church choir and teaching the art of singing. In her elusive spare time she enjoys researching her family tree and baking (especially with chocolate). She loves to travel, Jane Austen, and all things Italian. In her next life, she plans to be a professional organizer.


The Interview

What is your favorite type of romance story?
Clean romance is my favorite but I'm happy to read romance in any genre or age, time place. Minus erotica of course.

If you had to summarize the book for readers, it would be . . .
Antonio falls in love at first sight with rising opera star, Renatta, but most overcome her memory loss, family and fiancée in order to gain her heart and happily ever after.

Tell us about the hero and the lucky lady.
Antonio is a down to earth level headed car designer on vacation who doesn't believe in love at first sight until it happens to him and turns his world upside down. He is a gentleman and when he loves, he loves fiercely. 

Renatta sees the good in everyone and never makes waves. The accident reveals her true strength and she tackles her family issues and determines to make her own future.


If your characters could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?
Antonio would save Renatta from the motorcycle.
Renatta would never let Elisabetta go.


What scene did you have the most fun writing? Why? (include short blurb)
One of the scenes I had fun writing is when Chiara (Renatta's sister) and Stefano, (Antonio's BFF) meet. Chiara idolizes Stefano's work as a fashion photographer and so she completely freaks out in an embarrassing way when she meets him. It was fun writing their introduction and having a Beatles like moment to lighten things up.

Chiara’s eyelids fluttered open; she looked disoriented for a moment, then her eyes focused on Stefano’s face. “What happened?”

Stefano broke into a wide grin of amusement. “You fainted.”

“I did?” Her voice was soft and slightly breathless.

“Si.”

“Antonio caught you and I carried you in.”

“You did?” Chiara’s disorientation faded away as a deep red blush raced up her neck and cheeks. “You are Stefano?”

“The one and only.”

She closed her eyes and groaned. “This is officially the most embarrassing moment of my life.”

Stefano chuckled. “Well, I am happy I got to be a part of it. Do you feel well enough to sit up?”

“I think so.”

Stefano eased her up on the bench beside him and kept one arm around her for support.

Chiara covered her face with her manicured hands and asked, “Could we start over? You know, pretend I never fainted, but presented myself as a calm collected and mature young woman instead of a fanatical teenager meeting an idol?”


Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book was optioned for a movie?

  No one in Hollywood. I'd need some undiscovered actors from Italy for this. Guess we'll have to travel to Italy and have a casting call. Who wants to go?

What are you currently working on? Do you have any other releases planned for 2014?
I'm not. I've been busy getting this book ready to publish. But I have several characters clamoring to have their stories told. Ivy and Sam (a high school romance I'll probably title Ivy Climbs) and Maren and Zane (professionals in their early twenties in NY titled The Guy on the Corner).

I plan to release Ring on Her Finger in fall of 2014. You can check out the first chapter at the end of Fallen Angel.


 The Giveaway!

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Sweet Confections Cover Reveal and Giveaway!

I can't believe everything is coming together so quickly for the Sweet Confections release in April. I'm totally in love with my book cover - and hope you'll love it too!


According to Rachel Marconi chocolate heals all wounds. That and throwing darts at pictures of her ex-boyfriend. Burned by yet another bad relationship, Rachel decides to reprioritize her life, putting her dream to compete on a  Food Network Challenge on the top of her list and dating at the bottom crossed out in red sharpie.

But what's a girl to do when a certain sexy guy keeps asking her out?

Cue in Graydon Green, a former pro hockey player turned restaurant owner. After a lot of persistent and humorous teasing, he finally convinces Rachel to commit to a date. Just when things begin to warm up, threatening notes directed at Rachel arrive. When her bakery is vandalized, Graydon's protective streak goes on red alert. Is it her obsessive ex-boyfriend stalking her? Or maybe a challenger trying to sabotage the competition?

Either way, Rachel is definitely going to need more chocolate - perhaps drizzled over ice cream and devil's food cake.



What do you think?

What I love: The cover so totally matches my characters! I love Rachel's red hair - it's perfect! The other thing I love is the banner across the bottom with the little houses and light post and the "An Indulgence Row Novel". What a fun tie in for the series! I wish I could show you the complete print cover with the back and everything, but it's not complete yet. When I get the final copy, I'll be sure to share it on my blog.


While you're here . . . 

Share the love about the Sweet Confections book cover and enter to win a Redbox gift card and an advance copy of Sweet Confections when the final pdf is ready (sometime in March).


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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Days and Book Delights

It's a tad bit snowy outside. Well, more like a Kansas-sized blizzard (which means we got more than 8 inches of snow). Believe me, after growing up in Pennsylvania where a blizzard meant you couldn't open the front door, Kansas snow dumps are pathetic. Nevertheless, it is unusual to get this much snow here. My kids are loving it.

No school.

Snow up over their knees = snowmen, snow forts, and snowball fights.

It also means hot cocoa, board games and books, books, books. My middle school daughter is devouring Fablehaven #5 by Brandon Mull, my high schooler is reading a variety of comic books and graphic novels, my munchkin who is down with the flu is making his way through Spirit Animals by Brandon Mull, and my youngest chicky girl is obsessed with a reading website her 1st grade teacher introduced her to - Tumble Books. She loves reading along with the books and animations.

And me? Yes, I'm reading - the final proof of Sweet Confections before it goes to print. Booyah! And hey, the cover reveal is NEXT WEEK! I can't believe it's all coming together. It's absolutely thrilling. But I keep trying to rein in the excitement, look ahead to what's on my to-do list, and enjoying the awesomeness of extra snow days with my munchkins. I hope you're all snuggled up with a book (or some other wonderful delight) on this beautiful winter day.
Review Disclaimer: Sometimes a book I review has been sent to me for free by a publisher or an author. This in no way effects my review, which is my own opinion about whether the book was a good read for me, fit my tastes, and if I would recommend it to others. Other than possibly a free book, I am not compensated in any way for posting a review.