First Tuesday Recipes for November

It’s that time of year again…the time when the calendar is in fast-forward from Halloween through the New Year. It’s a busy season, but try to slow down every now and remember to be thankful!

This week I’ve got a breakfast recipe that’s simple and delicious, a side dish, and an easy weeknight soup using convenience ingredients.

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Favorite Oatmeal

One serving of plain oatmeal, prepared according to package directions

1/4 c. half & half

1 banana

1 T. (or to your taste) brown sugar

Prepare oatmeal as directed. Place in a bowl. Pour half & half over oatmeal, but do not stir. Slice banana onto top. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar until golden and fragrant. Stir and enjoy!

If you don’t have a kitchen torch, place the oatmeal in a broiler-safe bowl, layer ingredients as above, and broil until sugar is golden and bubbly. Keep a close watch on it!

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Baked Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Sour Cherries

This recipe comes courtesy of Chef Ed Daggers of the Atlantic City Country Club, with his permission.

3 med. acorn squash

2/3 c. dried cherries

1 c. frozen tart red cherries

1/2 c. packed brown sugar

1 t. grated lemon peel

1/4 t. nutmeg

1/2 t. salt

1/4 c. lemon juice

3 T. butter

Cut each squash in half and discard seeds. Place squash, cut side up, in two 13 x 9″ greased baking dishes.

Combine the dried and tart cherries, brown sugar, lemon peel, nutmeg, and salt. Spoon into squash halves. Sprinkle with lemon juice and dot with butter.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until squash is tender.

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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

1 pkg. Uncle Ben’s Long Grain and Wild Rice original recipe (discard spice packet)

1 c. water

2 cans (14 oz. each) chicken broth

1-2 carrots, shredded

10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

onion flakes

1 can cream of chicken soup

8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese

In medium saucepan, bring rice, water, and chicken broth to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until rice is cooked.

Add carrots, broccoli, and onion flakes; simmer for 5 minutes.

Add canned soup and cream cheese; simmer until thickened.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Amy

First Tuesday Recipes for October

It’s officially fall and despite what the thermometer says, I know cooler weather is coming. (It’s supposed to be almost 90F here tomorrow…ugh.)

Fall is my favorite season for lots of reasons, but food is one of them. I love using apples and apple cider, pears, Brussels sprouts, squash, parsnips, and broccoli when I cook, and this is the best time of year to enjoy them at their finest.

The recipes I’m going to share this month are a simple side dish, a pasta dish, and a quick bread. Let’s cook!

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Cheesy Brussels Sprouts

This recipe is one I made up, so the measurements are approximations. It’s easy, though, so you can tweak it to your tastes.

1 c. Brussels sprouts (I use frozen because they’re smaller than fresh), thawed if frozen

1 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

1/4 t. salt

1 palmful grated Parmesan cheese

If you use frozen Brussels sprouts, pat them dry with paper towels once they’re thawed. If using fresh, just wash them.

Halve the Brussels sprouts.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat until the butter has melted. Add Brussels sprouts to the pan, cut-side down. Sprinkle with salt. Cook for about 4 minutes, without flipping the sprouts, until the cut sides are beginning to brown. You’ll have to check them, since cooking times vary depending upon the size of your sprouts.

Flip the sprouts and continue cooking until they are browned all over. Add the Parmesan cheese to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the cheese starts to melt and stick to the sprouts. The cheese should start to become golden. Serve immediately.

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Pasta with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

This is one of my favorite recipes EVER. Everyone likes it and it’s crazy easy to make.

1 lb. your favorite pasta or 18 oz. cheese tortellini
1 T. butter
1 sm. shallot, finely chopped
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
pinch of nutmeg
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve some of the pasta water (about 1/2 cup) before draining.
While the pasta cooks, heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the pumpkin and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the cream; bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low; simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese and cook until thick, about 1 more minute. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with the reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve sauce over pasta and wait for the compliments to roll in.
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Apple Bread
1/2 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. peeled, cored apples, finely chopped
2 T. buttermilk
2 c. flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/3 c. chopped walnuts or pecans, opt.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift dry ingredients (I use a whisk) and add to the butter mixture alternately with apples and buttermilk. Fold in nuts, if using. Pour into greased bread pan (regular size) and let stand for 20 minutes.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. It’s best to wait until the next day to slice and eat the bread, but if you can’t wait that long, I completely understand.
Enjoy!
Until next time,
Amy
P.S. Remember that I’m always open to printing recipes from readers! If you’d like to submit a recipe, just email me at amymreadeauthor@gmail.com.
P.P.S. I know the spacing in this post is off, but I don’t have the hours upon hours it was taking to fix it. Sorry about that!

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into October with a smile.

The story I’ve chosen for this month is full of great news for travelers who stay at any of the hotels owned by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG–the parent company of Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Candlewood Suites, and many others). Over the next two years, in all its 5,600 properties around the world, IHG will be phasing out the miniature bottles of bathroom amenities in favor of providing guests these amenities from bulk-sized containers.

This isn’t the first time IHG has provided an example of sustainability for the hotel industry–back in 2018, it committed to removing single-use plastic straws from all its properties worldwide.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a worldwide blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

Your cohosts for this month are Sylvia Stein, Eric Lahti, Shilpa Garg, and Lizbeth Hartz. And if you want to read more uplifting articles, please visit the WATWB Facebook page here or the Twitter home page here to find links to other stories.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

Author Spotlight: Darlene Foster

Today on Reade and Write I’m thrilled to welcome Darlene Foster, who’s here to talk about her newest novel, Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action, Book 7 in the Amanda Travels series (it’s available for pre-order now–it will be released on September 3rd). You will love the covers of these delightful books, and I love the idea behind the series because I enjoy reading stories set in places all over the world. Darlene’s books are a bit different from ones I normally spotlight on this blog because they’re written with a younger audience in mind, but so many adults love the books, too. And I think you’ll enjoy the interview as much as I did.

Congratulations on your next release! Tell us all about it. 

In Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action, Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah, travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. While there, she is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who didn’t return from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald.

Amanda travels around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, this intrepid traveller encounters danger and intrigue as she attempts to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.

Who is the audience for the book?

The book is written for middle grade or juvenile readers, about 8 to 12 years old. But many adults will enjoy it as well as they read it to younger children or for themselves.

Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?

The setting is modern-day Holland. I chose it as it is a place I have been intrigued by ever since I read Mary Mapes Dodge’s book, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates when I was about ten years old. I finally visited the Netherlands with my husband three years ago and it was everything I imagined and more. I decided then that Amanda needed to visit this delightful country. I consider my trip part of my research since I took many pictures and kept a journal. I did more research on the internet while I wrote the story as well as asked my Dutch friends and family members many questions to ensure my facts were correct.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Since this is the seventh book in the series, I wanted to make sure that the story was unique and didn’t sound exactly like the others, while still maintaining the same traits of the main characters.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?

I find this question difficult as child actors grow up so fast making it a moving target. I actually see these books more as animations should they be made into movies.

Tell us about your other books.

I have written six other books in the Amanda Travels series, Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel, Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone, Amanda on The Danube – The Sounds of Music and Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind. I have also written a bi-lingual (English/Spanish) book called Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio.

Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?

I am a huge believer in critique groups and currently belong to three of them, one in Canada and two in Spain. Without my critique groups, I would have never completed and published eight books in ten years.

Do you write every day?

Yes, I do. It may not be much some days and it is not always on my current WIP (Work In Progress), but I write. It is what I do.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?

My favourite authors are Jane Austen, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Atwood, Alice Monroe, Tracy Chevalier, Philippa Gregory, and Amy Tan, to name a few. My favourite books feature strong female characters, contemporary and historical.

Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?

I would so love to visit Australia and New Zealand.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I know it has been said before by many other authors but DON’T GIVE UP. There will be many down days even after you have been published, when you question your sanity. But just keep writing. That first draft is never going to be a published book. There will be many rewrites and tons of editing but just keep going. Talk to other authors, listen to their advice, and learn from their mistakes. Join a critique group or two or three and read other writer’s blogs.

What is your favorite movie and why?

This is difficult but I guess I have to say, “Gone with the Wind.” Scarlett O’Hara is a flawed character but oh my, she is strong. The movie deviates from the book but it depicts the times so well and Vivian Leigh is the perfect Scarlett.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t worry, be happy, it will all work out.

Describe yourself in three words.

Creative, hardworking and compassionate

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?

I was hoping you would ask me what my weakness is. My answer would have been chocolate. But you didn’t ask me so now no one will know. Haha! 

Where can readers connect with you?

Website: http://www.darlenefoster.ca/

Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darlene6490/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/darlene-foster

Where can readers find your books?

My books are available on all Amazon sites, Kobo and other quality bookstores such as Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble, and Waterstones, as well as many independent booksellers. If not on the shelves, they can be ordered.

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Holland-Missing-Action-Travels-ebook/dp/B07L9LVK4J/

Amazon.ca: https://www.amazon.ca/Amanda-Holland-Missing-Darlene-Foster/dp/1771681713/

Amazon.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-Holland-Missing-Action-Travels/dp/1771681713/

Thank you so much Amy, for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog.

Thank you, Darlene. Congratulations on your new book! I wish you all the best.

Until next time,

Amy

 

Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival: The Recap

On August 10, 2019, Suffolk (Virginia) Tourism and the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts hosted the sixth annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival. As many of you know, this is my favorite bookish event of the year.

Visiting Suffolk

The Nansemond River, from my hotel room

Suffolk is the largest city in Virginia in terms of land area (430 square miles), but visiting the city is more like visiting a small town where everyone is friendly, welcoming, and eager to show visitors everything their corner of Virginia has to offer.

The history of Suffolk is fascinating and full, and much of it has been preserved for future generations. From its settlement in 1608 to its involvement in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to its international recognition as the home of Planters Nuts, Suffolk has played an important role in the cultural history of the United States.

Visitors can tour Riddick’s Folly (which served as a headquarters for the Union Army during the Civil War), Cedar Hill Cemetery (home to one of Virginia’s Civil War trail sites), Planters Peanut Center, and the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, among many other attractions.

The authors who have participated in the Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival in past years have had the opportunity to visit Riddick’s Folly and the Cedar Hill Cemetery, as well as participate in Ghost Walks and storytelling walks.

The Festival

Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts

The festival itself is always held on a Saturday afternoon at the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts, a beautifully-restored building that operated as a high school until 1990. Since its reopening in 2006, it has become widely known as a popular venue for musical and theater productions, lectures, art exhibits, and visual and performing arts classes. It is a breathtaking backdrop for the authors to participate in panel discussions, hold workshops, and most importantly, meet and mingle with readers.

This year, the festival highlighted forty mystery authors of all subgenres, from traditional to paranormal to horror and romantic suspense. The featured author was Julie Hyzy, the New York Times bestselling author of 22 mystery novels and lots of short stories. Her interview, conducted by the talented and hilarious mystery writer E.A. Aymar, was a delightful way to learn about her journey as a writer from her beginnings to her crowning achievements.

Panels and Workshops

I was on a panel called “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and the authors on the panel talked about the importance of setting and story ideas. The writers had interesting views on setting and it was great to hear about all the different ways they use setting and atmosphere in their books to heighten suspense.

Other panels included “Strong Women in Fiction and Why We Love Them” and “License to Thrill: Shivery Suspense to Keep You Turning the Pages.” Workshops included “From Novice to Novelist: How to Write a Novel,” “You Wrote Your Novel, Now What?: Publishing World Options,” and “Short Stories vs. Novels: Pathways to Publication.”

The Best Part

Me with my table-mate, the incomparable Nancy Herriman

 

With two awesome readers, Tammy and Greg Porter

 

With a perennial favorite, author Julie Moffett

 

With Festival coordinator and all-around fabulous person, Katie Kelley

 

With good friend and fantastic author Maggie King

 

My table

The art gallery spaces of the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts are used to showcase the authors and their books, which are available for purchase and signing all afternoon. It’s a great place for readers to meet authors, talk with them, and take photos. These rooms are where the most enjoyable parts of the day take place.

Every year hundreds of readers come to see the writers, to reconnect with them, to chat, and to talk books. For the writers, it’s a wonderful time to see readers that we can only see once a year and to meet new readers.

For a full list of attending authors, visit https://www.suffolkmysteryauthorsfestival.com/.

As always, Suffolk Tourism and the Suffolk Center for the Cultural Arts are due a huge debt of thanks and gratitude for hosting what many readers and writers consider to be the friendliest and most welcoming book festival of the year.

The Paparazzi

If you’re interested in reading what the Suffolk News Herald wrote about the festival, you can check out the article here.

I hope to see you there next year!

Until next time,

Amy

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday of the month–time again for some good news to take you into August with a smile.

The story I’ve chosen for this month is one that celebrates a Canadian conservation achievement: the Nature Conservancy of Canada has managed to raise CAD $20M to purchase a rare “snow forest” in British Columbia, thereby protecting the habitats of about 40 at-risk species.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

These are the cohosts for this month: Shilpa GargDan Antion, Mary GieseSimon Falk, and Damyanti Biswas

 

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!