Recipe Post: Light and Fluffy Pancakes

FYI/Reminder: All my ebooks are still on special promotion at $3.99 at AmazonBN.comKobo.comGoogle Books,Sony Reader Store, and Apple bookstore.


This is not my own recipe.  It is from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition with 1,000 Recipes by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen and it is pretty darn perfect.

Here’s what you need.

2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

(What I often do is I take quadruple the above listed quantity of ingredients, stir them together in a big mixing bowl, and then store it in an airtight canister.

Like that.  Voila, homemade pancake mix.  Saves a lot of measuring down the road.)

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How to Make Caramel Popcorn–and General Update

The senior kidlet, who is a gourmet, has written a recipe post for the blog.  And lo and behold, he sounds exactly like the smart-aleck fourteen-year-old he is. 🙂  And he also sounds like he is talking to a bunch of other teenagers, rather than to ladies of his mother’s generation.  But oh well.  I have some general update following the recipe.

And if you need a query consultation, I have one up for bit at the Brenda Novak Diabetes Research Auction.

Caramel Popcorn

Hi I’m John a.k.a the senior kidlet. First off, this blog is pretty cool. Do i sound immature? Never mind.  If you don’t already know I’ve been on a cooking spree for a while now. Most of the time  I make slightly more complicated dishes than caramel popcorn but I just had to share this one because it’s just so delicious, easy to make and not expensive either.  This is great food for any sports event on TV, a movie you rented and brought home, or just a quick snack. Do you really want to know this recipe? I bet you do, you wanna know how I know it’s cause I’m a psychic. Not. All right, on to the recipe.

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In which I get chatty about nothing in particular

Over the holidays, I (finally!) made it home to my parents’ house for a solid twenty days. It was fantastic to be back in the Bay Area, surrounded by mountains and water every-which-way I looked.  No offense to the Jersey folks – the shore is very beautiful – but I like a little sudden elevation with my ocean.  Not to mention the food!  I’m a glutton when in California.  Sourdough baguette, good wine, Zachary’s deep-dish pizza, fresh artichokes and Brussels sprouts from the Sonoma Coast…


Speaking of Brussels sprouts, I’ve been noticing a disturbing web-wide trend of disparaging these heroic vegetables.  (Carolyn Jewel, I am looking at you!  Yes, I saw that interview!)  While driving along the coast, I obtained two stalks of Brussels sprouts and they changed my world.  I am here to tell you that said stalks are 1) fun to wave like wands; 2) ideal for bopping people atop the head; 3) DELICIOUS.  I now issue a dare to all the haters:

1. You get some Brussels sprouts and slice them into thirds.

2. You put them into a bowl and add a whole lot of olive oil, salt, and chopped raw garlic.

3. You mix it all up.

4. You toss the contents onto a tinfoil-covered pan and cook it for twenty to twenty-five minutes at 400-425 degrees, depending on your oven.

5. When the sprouts look nicely browned on top, you remove the pan and you eat the sprouts with sour cream.

6. Then you come back and talk to me about how you like Brussels sprouts!

* Disclaimer: If you steam the sprouts, all bets are off.  I cannot argue with the awfulness of steamed Brussels sprouts.


I am one of those curious children who truly enjoys being at home with my parents, doing nothing.  Indeed, if left to my own devices, I would have been shamefully content to spend all twenty days of my break sitting on my parents’ couch, egg nog (AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS) to my left, sourdough bread and e-reader to my right, mainlining various World War II-themed miniseries. Winds of War and War and Remembrance?  So fantastic!  (Apart from the whole miscasting thing. Robert Mitchum is a fantastic actor, but he was 65 at the time the first series was shot, playing a character who’s supposed to be 39 or 40.  As a result, a romance that thrilled me in the book began to seem rather…icky…on-screen.)

But the Lad, AKA my partner in crime, was out in California to meet the parents.  And he insisted we Do Stuff.  Which, you know, sounded reasonable.

So off we went to the aquarium in Monterey, where I ogled a great many jellyfish, cuttle-fish, octopuses (nope, it doesn’t pluralize to octopi, apparently.  This bums me out for obscure reasons.  I guess I like the idea of a Latinate sea creature), sharks, and otters.  I return to you with a discovery: the underwater world is twice as weird as anything ever shown to me in Star Trek: The Next Generation (a formative influence).

The aquarium experience also got me thinking about how wonder is such a devalued feeling in adult life.  As a child, so many things are new and strange, but once we grow up and settle into jobs and learn the art of juggling bills and various other responsibilities, we tend to forget to take time to search for the strange and unexpected.  I certainly forget how rejuvenating it can be to encounter something you knew absolutely nothing about.  Sea horses, for instance—did you know they could look like this?

Not a great photo, but trust me, the sea horse is technicolor.

At the aquarium, I felt like a wide-eyed kid as I walked through those rooms, and I left feeling younger and lighter, somehow.

The other wondrous highlight of my holiday was The Secret River, by Kate Grenville.  This is a beautifully written piece of historical fiction that conjures 18th century London and Australia with vivid, gripping immediacy.  I highly recommend it to the historical fiction fans out there!

All right, I feel a wee bit bad having posted and said not a word about writing.  Suffice it to say that A Lady’s Lesson in Scandal is off my desk, into production, and features a heroine who’s my favorite yet.  (How amusing: I feel slightly bad admitting that…as though Lydia and Emma and Gwen et al might take offense.  Ha!)  I’ll be sure to speak more of ALLiS in my next post. In the meantime, please attend to your Brussels sprouts!

Recipe Post: Writer’s Breakfast

A week or so before the RT convention in April, I started packing.  At my mother’s advice, I tried on the dresses I was taking.

Left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have bothered.  These things already fit me, right?  Wrong.  I’d put on a few pounds and they all showed at the worst places: right above the decolletage on my strapless frocks.  Ack!  How can someone who doesn’t even have boobs have overboob squish-age?

So immediately I took a look at the Master Cleanse–the lemon-juice-plus-red-pepper-flake-fluid-diet I’d heard my friends talk about–and immediately jumped away from my laptop in fright.  That @#$% ain’t for the faint of heart, and I am nothing if not faint of heart.  After I recovered my will to live, I went to read GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter.  Because my gossip lady is always talking about Ms. Paltrow, I occasionally take a look at GOOP and remembered that a while ago Ms. Paltrow posted a one-week cleanse of her own.

Remember what I said about being faint of heart?  I didn’t manage Gwyneth’s cleanse either.  But I did come away with a great recipe for a quick, nutritious, and pretty tasty breakfast shake.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or just enough to cover the berries in your blender)
  • 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder (I used my husband’s Muscle Milk)

Pour everything into a blender and blend to your preferred consistency.  I like mine smooth, Senior Kidlet prefers his berries to be chunkier.  His Hawtness likes milk so we make his with milk.

(If you are a careful examiner of pictures and wonder what is that green substance, it is a scoop of Pro Green powder.  Ms. Paltrow specified it.  I bought a canister in a moment of weakness.  It tastes like grass powder on its own, but kind of disappears in the shake.  But I chose not to include it here because it’s hella expensive and now that I’d finished with the one at home, I most likely won’t be buying it again.)

That hand is not mine, by the way, but belongs to Sr. Kidlet.

It makes a big old glass of smoothie, gets my energy up, and get me to actually ingest all those gargantuan Costco containers of berries I can’t help buying when they are in season.  If you are on a low-carb diet–hi, Meredith–it’s pretty perfect.  If you are on a vegan diet–hi, Janine–with a soy-derived protein powder, you are good to go too.  If you are me, who doesn’t like to eat anything healthy, low-carb, or low-fat, but will make an occasional sacrifice to get rid of overboob squishage, this is SPARTA!

Bon Appetit.

Inaugural Recipe Post: Cake Pops

I am a pretty decent cook. But more importantly, I’m a pretty fast cook. His Hawtness once jokingly said that I get only half credit for cooking since I do only the simplest dishes.

And then one day I said to myself, you know, these dishes are pretty simple but they hold up pretty well. I’ll bet there are other readers/writers out there who wouldn’t mind a few of those recipes–more time for reading/writing, right?

Except, well, our inaugural recipe is really simple but it isn’t exactly fast–not to mention it is also highly calorific.  So I held onto it for a long time until I had a book signing recently. And used it to lure folks to my table. I can’t speak to its success as a promotional product for my books, but one teenage boy came around five separate times for the cake pops. Ha!

The original recipe can be found at food blogger Bakerella’s website.

Here’s what you need: 


  • One box Red Velvet Cake Mix plus the oil, eggs, and whatnot to bake it with
  • One 16oz can cream cheese frosting
  • Chocolate bark/coating
  • White chocolate chips (I used Nestle because it has directions on the back for how to make dipping chocolate)
  • Vegetable shortening to combine with the white chocolate chips during metling (not pictured)
  • Popsicle sticks (not pictured)


1. Bake the cake according to directions.  Let it cool completely.

2. Crumble the cake.  (I did mine in my food processor.)

3. Combine the frosting with the cake crumbs.  (I used about 3/4 can of the frosting.)

4. Form the cake crumb frosting mixture into popsicle-size balls. And stick the popsicle sticks into them.  Now put them in the fridge or the freezer for a while so that the cake spheres firm up a bit.

5.  Now melt the chocolate bark/coating according to directions.

6.  And melt white chocolate with some vegetable shortening, according to directions.

7.  And dip!  (And drizzle, if you feel like.  I drizzled with a spoon.  I  have no talent for food decorating, but I don’t think anyone cared.  And in case you are curious, the cake pops are standing on a block of florist’s foam.)

The chocolate bark is rather heavy.  But chocolate morsels, once melted with some vegetable shortening, is really easy to work with.  So this past weekend, for Junior Kidlet’s birthday, we did an at-home chocolate fondue with my teeny tiny crockpot.  Yum.  And impressed the heck out of the kids.  🙂

(And here you thought the shea butter was an isolated instance of crazy.)  😛

But I promise, next recipe will be really, really superduper simple.  And healthy too.

And in other news, HIS AT NIGHT is finally released into the wild today.  Phew.  That means I’m almost done with publicity stuff and can go back to just writing.  What a relief.