Friday, March 29, 2013

Brown Sugar Bourbon Baked Ham Yumminess!

Okay, Easter is right around the corner. In my house, that means ham. I've used a few different recipes over the years, but last year I tried one that beats all the rest, hands down. This will be, I promise you, the BEST ham you've ever eaten. I can't tell you enough of its deliciousness. Looks like a lot of basting sauce at first, but it reduces down. Trust me - scrap all your other plans and make this next weekend!

I used whiskey instead of bourbon - basically, whatever is in your liquor cabinet will work. Thanks so much to the folks at Southern Living for dreaming this up!

Brown Sugar-Bourbon Baked Ham

Prep: 15 min.; Bake: 2 hr., 30 min.; Stand: 20 min. Delicious warm or cold, this Southern Living favorite is the ultimate make-ahead main dish. Basting delivers big flavor and a beautiful glaze with little effort.
Brown Sugar-Bourbon Baked HamPhoto by: Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine
  • YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings
  • COOK TIME:2 Hours, 30 Minutes
  • PREP TIME:15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (6- to 8-lb.) fully cooked, bone-in ham
  • 48 whole cloves
  • 1 (16-oz.) package brown sugar
  • 1 cup spicy brown mustard (or dijon, which I used and was sublime)
  • 1 cup cola soft drink
  • 3/4 cup bourbon

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove skin from ham, and trim fat to 1/4-inch thickness. Make shallow cuts in fat 3/4 inch apart in a diamond pattern. Insert cloves in centers of diamonds. Place ham in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan.
2. Stir together brown sugar and next 3 ingredients; spoon mixture over ham.
3. Bake at 350° on lowest oven rack 2 hours and 30 minutes, basting with pan juices every 15 to 20 minutes. Remove ham from oven, and let stand 20 minutes before slicing.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hard As It Gets Cover Reveal!

Laura Kaye is one heck of a talented author. So I've been counting down the days until the start of her new series, Hard Ink. The book won't be out until November, but at least we get this HOT cover to tide us over until then!



Here's the blurb to get you even more exited:

Tall, dark, and lethal... Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey's tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome-pure catnip to a very jaded Nick. He's left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander's daughter. Loyalty won't let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too. With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn't expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees. Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge...

 
   
About Laura Kaye:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nearly a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Breaking The Boundaries: Unusual Aphrodisiacs and Why They Work

I'm thrilled today to introduce you to a fellow Washington Romance Writers chapter mate and a fellow foodie. Kimberly Kincaid's Pine Mountain romance series doesn't come out until next year, but you can have an amuse bouche of her writing with her just released novella, Love On the Line. Here's a peek - and then keep reading for her take on aphrodisiacs!
 
Violet Morgan puts the personal in personal chef, catering to clients who want the full cooking experience rather than a culinary drop-and-dash. But when her brother’s police detective partner is injured in the line of duty and needs help during recovery, she makes an exception. Violet lost her father to the job seven years ago, and worries for her brother’s safety every day. The last thing she wants is to get up-close with her brother’s career-cop partner…again.
For Noah Blackwell, being a detective isn’t just a lifestyle, it’s a legacy. So when he’s forced to take mandatory leave and deal with the trauma amnesia keeping him from identifying his shooter, it’s a literal case of adding insult to injury— and now he’s got to deal with an unwanted culinary caregiver on top of it. Never mind that he and Violet shared a steamy, secret kiss last New Year’s Eve. She rejects everything related to the job, and Noah’s not about to be distracted from recovering his memory and getting back to what he does best. No matter how pretty Violet is.
Despite their differences, Violet and Noah share a surprising bond in the kitchen that grows into something neither of them expect. But as Noah heals and their feelings for each other extend from the kitchen to the bedroom, Violet knows she must make an impossible choice. She may wear her heart on her sleeve when it comes to food, but can she risk it all to put love on the line?
Purchase on Amazon, or learn more at her website or follow Kimberly on Facebook
Okay, so as a foodie author, I have a lot of vested interest in whether or not the effects of aphrodisiacs are fact or fiction. But there’s something about certain dishes that make them inherently sexy, and I’m not just talking about the standard oysters of the half shell and chocolate-dipped strawberries. What is it about food that offers such potential to take things from the kitchen to the bedroom? The answers may be simpler (and sexier!) than you think.
Food incorporates all five senses naturally. Food is one of those lovely catch-alls that allows us to weave in every one of the five senses with ease. Of course there’s taste, but dig even deeper. Before any dish hits the plate, we can see it, smell it, feel it and even hear it, especially if we’re cooking. For writers, it’s a great place to slide in a few colorful and unique comparisons. In the opening scene of Love On The Line, my heroine Violet compares the ingredients in Spanish paella to a the threads in a tapestry. We hear the sizzle of the ingredients on the stove, the smoky scent of Chorizo and paprika, and are shown the deep yellow saffron-colored rice. It all comes together to put the reader in the spot, and what’s more, it uses the five senses to do it. Evocative? Yes. Effective? You bet!

Food can have emotional and sensual connotations. Let’s be honest. Most food isn’t inherently sexy on its own. But if you link it to the right scenario, if you give it a story to go with it, that food takes on not just a lot of emotional connection, but it can also translate into some pretty sexy stuff. In Love On The Line, Noah makes Violet a spaghetti dinner. Not really steamy in its own right, as spaghetti is a fairly common, potentially ho-hum meal. But why Noah does it (and that he does it at all) makes all the difference, and it leads to the most provocative scene in the book. The food becomes sensual as a part of the experience. It’s more than just dinner.

Food is indulgent and personal. Lastly, food is just yummy (yes, that’s the technical term!) It’s indulgent. It makes us feel good. Characters in books (or people in real life) can cook for each other as a method of comfort and caring, can feed each other as a provocative experience (we’ve all seen 9 ½ Weeks, right?!), and can use food to find that next level. What we choose, what is indulgent and sexy to each of us, is as unique as a fingerprint. But discovering it alongside someone we love can truly make it all the more incredible.
 
So tell me, reader-friends! What are some foods you find inherently sexy or indulgent? Do you think aphrodisiacs are science, or sensual? And for you writers, how can you work these themes into your work to put some shake in your bake? Tell all!


Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she's not sitting cross-legged in an ancient desk chair known as "The Pleather Bomber", she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to √©clairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She is thrilled to have collaborated on a Christmas anthology with Donna Kauffman and Kate Angell, titled The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, to kick off her Pine Mountain foodie series with Kensington this October. Her first full-length novel, Turn Up the Heat, will follow in February 2014. Kimberly resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters. Visit her any time at www.kimberlykincaid.com or come check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A sexy, sassy, chocolate filled Release Day!

It was just over a year ago that I began writing A Fine Romance. It's the second book in my Aisle Bound series, so I had to write it before the first book even came out. Kind of like writing in a vacuum, unsure if anyone would like book one or not, want to see more of the characters, etc. Happily, my readers liked book one. So I'm super excited to spread the word about release day of this sexy, chocolate-filled romance. Here's a taste:

They say you form your first impression of someone within thirty seconds of meeting them. Or, in Mira Parrish's case, within thirty minutes of not meeting them, when said person is supposed to pick you up from the airport and never shows. This is not a perfect start to her new life. Her friend Ivy is depending on her to run a new romance store, and Mira can't afford to let her down. 

Sam Lyons should probably apologize. But every time he sees Mira--which is often, since his family owns the bakery next to her shop--he can't resist antagonizing her. There's something about the sexy, straight-laced woman that drives him crazy. He can't get involved, though. He has too much baggage to be any good in a serious relationship.  

Despite his teasing attitude, Mira finds Sam too sweet to resist. (His hot body may be a factor.) But if there's going to be anything permanent between them, they'll need to let go of their pasts and look to the future...


Grab it today at Carina Press!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A New Romantic Victorian Thriller!

I read The Wild Princess last fall...in about a day. Could not put it down, it was so good. Which means I'm very excited to spread the word on release day about the next book from this talented author who happens to be my chapter mate in the Washington Romance Writers (although I highly recommend grabbing The Wild Princess and reading it first!)
 
Seducing the Princess by Kathryn Johnson writing as Mary Hart Perry

Mary Hart Perry’s acclaimed series of romantic Victorian thrillers (The Wild Princess) continues with Seducing the Princess, inspired by the life of Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter Beatrice. Painfully shy and lonely, convinced she is unattractive and unloved, the dutiful Princess Beatrice finally accepts that she will never marry and vows to devote herself to the queen in Victoria's waning years. In fact, her mother has secretly discouraged suitors for Beatrice’s hand. Just when Beatrice has all but given up on love and happiness, she meets Henry Battenberg, a dashing nobleman from the Continent who matches wits with the aging Victoria and risks his life and liberty to woo Bea.

But Henry isn't the only man interested in being welcomed into Beatrice's bed. The timid princess has become the target of a cruel plot hatched by her nephew, the madman destined to become the last Emperor of Germany. Wilhelm II sends a ruthless agent, a charming Scot, to seduce the naive princess and spy on the queen. How can the sheltered princess hope to fend off a man capable of murder, and perhaps worse, to get what he wants? But Beatrice is not without her own allies--her older sister Louise and Louise's American soldier-of-fortune and lover, Stephen Byrne. Will Beatrice discover which of the two men pursuing her she can trust, before it's too late? Drama, romance and peril chase the royal family from Buckingham Palace to a storm besieged castle on the Isle of Wight.
 
Here's a peek inside the pages:
Gregory watched the queen’s daughter weave down the alley of the dim barn and out into the sunshine. He laughed to himself. Girl didn’t know it but she was his.
He had seen it in her eyes. They had dilated nearly all-black at his touch. She’d trembled and reacted to him with unmistakable sensual awareness. He’d waited patiently for such signs these months as they’d ridden together, as he’d gently urged her to open up to him.
At first he’d worried that she might cling to her hope of Battenberg coming for her, but the missing letters did the trick. She no longer seemed to believe the Prussian loved her. He just hoped his agent had destroyed their correspondence as they’d discussed. Without the princess’s letters ever leaving London, and Battenberg’s missives intercepted before they could reach Beatrice, communication had been completely severed between the two. Moreover, his spies assured him that, whatever had transpired between the pair in Darmstadt, or later in London, their relationship hadn’t yet progressed to the bedchamber. Kisses and hand holding maybe, but Beatrice was still a virgin.
Which meant she knew almost nothing about sex.
Which meant he could use her naiveté to his advantage.
And now? He’d wait and let today’s little encounter sink in. Let Beatrice think about touching hands, about how much she missed Henry’s kisses and how nice it would be to be kissed again—by someone conveniently close by, someone she’d learned to feel safe with, and who knew how to please a woman.
In the meantime, there was this bloody job in the mews to get rid of. He needed to move up in the world, and fast, if he was to woo a princess, the task set for him by Wilhelm. That’s where he needed the help of the queen.
Author Bio
Mary Hart Perry (aka Kathryn Johnson) lives in Washington DC with her husband and two feline writing partners, Tempest and Miranda. The author of over 40 novels, she's written under her own name and a variety of pen names, including Kathryn Jensen, KM Kimball and Nicole Davidson. She teaches fiction-writing workshops for the renowned Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland. In 2008, she founded Write by You, to coach other writers interested in reaching publication. She has been nominated for the prestigious Agatha Christy Award, and won the Heart of Excellence and Bookseller's Best Awards (sponsored by the Romance Writers of America) in 2011.