Saturday, August 30, 2014

Carb Wars: Apple Cinnamon Muffins

This recipe was originally for drop biscuits, but by the time I added this, changed that, and tweaked another, I ended up with these supper yummy muffins!



I use Carbquik in this recipe, which is basically a reduced-carb version of Bisquick. You can visit their website for a listing of stores, or you can search online for it. Other options include almond or coconut meal. Carbquik measures like flour, so remember to adjust the measurements accordingly when using almond or coconut flour. You may also need to add baking soda and/or baking powder.

Experiment with it until you find the recipe that works for you!

Ingredients

2 cups Carbquik
2/3 cup half and half
1/2  cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup sugar substitute (I use Swerve)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp steel cut oats
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Combine all dry ingredients into a medium mixing bowl. Add half and half and vanilla extract. Stir until well blended. Cut in the butter. This basically means to use the back of the spoon to mash in the butter until it's mixed well. :)



Line a muffin/cupcake pan with paper cups or try these silicone reusable cups. Seriously, the muffins just fall right out of them! Since Carbquik doesn't tend to rise quite like flour, we're going to fill the cups all the way to the top. I use a soup spoon to scoop the batter into the pan. Don't worry if the batter is a little thicker than regular muffin mix. It's supposed to look like that.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Allow to cool and set for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Yields 1 Dozen
5 Net Carbs Per Muffin



Friday, August 29, 2014

Erika Reed: Shattered Hearts

Four years after running away from the man she loved, Peyton Montgomery is coming home.
With nowhere to live, no money in the bank, and still stinging from being served her divorce papers, Peyton is returning to help her mother care for her father after a heart attack. Being back means eventually she’ll run into the man that broke her heart and ruined her for anyone else. When they do cross paths, Peyton soon discovers she wasn’t the only one that lost so much after she left.
Because of one drunken mistake, Jackson Holt lost the woman he loved. Now he has a second chance at mending the relationship he once had with Peyton, but he has a confession he needs to get off his chest before they both can move forward and claim the life and the love they lost the night Peyton left.

FIND IT NOW AT



Teaser Excerpt
“How is your father doing today, Peyton?”
Jackson Holt felt a slight ache in his chest as he stared at her. She had finally come back. His Peyton had returned home. She was still beautiful after all these years.
“Jackson,” she whispered his name.
He always did love hearing his name coming from her pink, pouty lips. God, he wanted to pull her into his arms and kiss those luscious lips that begged to touch his.
He walked closer to her and gave her a lingering hug that sent a jolt straight to his crotch. He took a deep breath of her scent and noticed she still used the same shampoo he loved smelling on her, mixed with her soft fragrant odor that smelled like sweet fruits and melons. The scent of her skin seemed to drive him mad whenever he held and kissed her.
Peyton released him sooner than he wanted. “How are you, Jackson? My father told me you have a coffee place a few doors down. I’m happy for you.” She gave him a sincere smile.
He didn’t want to talk about his shop right then and there. All he wanted to do was carry her off and take her home so he could make love to her like he dreamed for so long.
“How’s living in the big city and working for that animal hospital of yours working out? Your parents tell me that you like living there.”
Peyton gave him one of her dazzling smiles, as she stood tall before answering him. “I loved working at the veterinary clinic. It’s been my dream job I have always wanted.”
She obviously wasn’t about to tell him the truth about her job and marriage. He didn’t blame her one bit. She needed to learn to trust him again. Jackson gazed into her eyes and could see the pain that still hid behind those gorgeous brown eyes. She was trying to put up a façade. Even after all these years she still hated him and had trouble looking him in the eye.
“So I guess you’ll be leaving as soon as your dad is feeling better and out of the hospital?” he asked her.
Peyton gave him a nod. “Yes. I just want to make sure Dad is okay and back on his feet before I have to return home. I’m just here long enough to help Mom out. I shouldn’t be here longer than a week.”
A week, huh? Jackson had a week to spend getting to know Peyton again. There was so much he wanted to say … so many things that needed to be said between the two of them. He never got the chance to say good-bye to her like he’d planned after the night he last saw her by the lake.
The next day when he’d tried to call her cell phone, he couldn’t reach her, so he had gone to her house, only to be told by her parents that she had woken up early and had already headed to school. He could see the pain in her parents’ eyes as they mentioned to him that Peyton had told them everything he said the night before.
For years, Jackson felt hollow inside. He knew Peyton had married for the wrong reasons, just to get back at him. The Peyton he knew would never have married so hastily. She was a planner. She had always plotted and planned her future to a tee. They had spent countless hours by the lake discussing their plans for the future. She wanted to finish school, find a job in town, buy a home, and then wait a year before they married. She didn’t want to rush into marriage. Peyton wanted to make sure they were stable in their jobs and lives before they planned on spending the rest of their lives together. She would never up and marry someone she barely knew. Jackson had a feeling she married for her own personal reasons when she’d agreed to marry her ex within the short time they courted.
“Tell your Dad hi for me and I hope he recovers soon.” He smiled at Peyton and then waved good-bye as he left the bakery. As he looked inside the window from the sidewalk, he noticed Peyton staring at him. She gave him a smile and then turned away.
Knowing his time with Peyton was short, he knew he’d better think fast. Peyton could get spooked very easily, and they had so many unanswered questions that needed to be resolved before she up and left. He needed to be alone with her to share all the things in life that she didn’t know happened. Since she had said she never wanted to see him again, he’d respected her wishes and stayed away from her. But now that she is here, there was so much to talk about. She needed to know the truth about the life between them when she ran off. Jackson needed her to listen, really wanted Peyton to hear the things he lost along the way when she left without even a word. He missed her, and now that she was here and life was staring to get back to normal for him, he wasn’t about to let anything stand in the way of proving to Peyton that they were meant to be together.



http://authorerikareed.webs.com
Erika Reed lives in Southern California with her loving husband and two beautiful daughters. She is very thankful for her family and friends that have been there, supporting her from the beginning of her writing career.


When she is not writing or running her busy household, she enjoys sitting down with her Kindle, reading one of her favorite authors. She enjoys her writing and will continue to surprise her readers with more exotic stories in the future.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Carb Wars: Super Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookies are my weakness. Chocolate chip, oatmeal, gingerbread, sugar, snickerdoodle--cookies have been my go-to sweet treat since I was little. My absolute favorite kind of cookies are peanut butter.

I used to help my mom bake them all the time, though my first solo attempt didn't go so well. I believe I was 8 or 9 years old, and the recipe called for vegetable oil. Not knowing any better, I used the "fancy" new garlic flavored vegetable oil my mom had picked up on the last grocery run. Needless to say, my creation didn't really make the cut.



I'm all grown up now, and while my mom has passed on, I still think of her every time I make peanut butter cookies. I've tweaked the original recipe to make it low-carb friendly, and I promise there's no pesky garlic aftertaste. LOL!

Ingredients

1 cup creamy, natural peanut
1 cup granulated sugar substitute -- I use Swerve
1 large egg
2 tbsp steel cut oats
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp granulated sugar substitute

Directions

Combine peanut butter, 1 cup sugar substitute, egg, and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended, about 2-3 minutes. Place the batter in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the remaining 2 tbsps of sugar substitute and cinnamon in a shallow bowl or plate.

Use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon to scoop the chilled batter into balls and roll each through the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place on a greased cookie sheet (or you can use tin foil) and flatten with the tines of a fork to form a criss-cross pattern.

Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. Allow to cool and firm on a wire rack before serving. Yields 18 cookies.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Carb Wars: Parmesan Zucchini Rounds

As much as I love chocolate, 9 times out of 10, I'm reaching for something salty. Potatoes are a no-no, of course, which also means no potato chips. Luckily, I found an alternative, and while these zucchini rounds are just as addictive as a bag of Doritios, I can indulge without feeling guilty (or miserable.)



Ingredients

2 medium zucchinis, thinly sliced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp panko crumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp paprika

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a cookie sheet with tin foil.

Combine garlic salt, parsley, pepper, paprika, panko crumbs, and Parmesan cheese in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Slice zucchini  thinly and toss with olive oil in a separate bowl. Then drop the slices into the Parmesan mixture to coat each side. (If you're in a hurry or just impatient like me, you can also use a gallon-sized Ziploc bag for the shake-n-bake method.) Arrange zucchini in a single layer on the foil-lined cookie sheet. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until browned and crispy. Serve with dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

Combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise and 1 tbsp honey Dijon mustard. Stir until completely blended.





Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Faves: Anywhere But Here



Sometimes, we just need to get away, relax, and recharge. Some places we want to visit for their history, some for their beauty, and others just because they make a mean sangria. No matter the reason, though, there are just some days when we'd rather be anywhere but here.

So for August, I asked my fellow authors for their top 5 favorite destinations. From the castles of Ireland to the beaches of Bora Bora, you won't want to miss these author favorites!

KALI ARGENT
Reclusive author currently residing in the Midwest with her oddly supportive family and tragically misunderstood cat.
FAVE FIVE

1. Washington State. Specifically, the Olympic Peninsula. And no, it has nothing to do with Twilight. Who wouldn't want to visit Mt. Olympus? 

2. Barcelona, Spain. I don't really have a reason, but the romantic in me has to visit Spain at least once
before I die. 

3. Ireland. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to visit Ireland. I'd love to explore the castles, see the fairy circles, eat fish and chips in an Irish pub, and walk along the shores at night. 

4. Rome, Italy. What more can I say? The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Sistine Chapel, and of course all of those gorgeous Italian men. *wink*

5. New Orleans. I've been to New Orleans a few times, and each time I go back is just as magical as the first time. I could sit on the balcony of my hotel overlooking Bourbon Street and people watch for hours. There so much history in this city that you can practically feel it in the air, and the food...the food is to die for!
Sometimes, new beginnings come from unexpected places.
To Cecily Baker, being unattached means making her own decisions, living by her own rules, and never answering to anyone. So when her sister drags her to a singles night at a local club--and then ditches her--it only strengthens Cecily's conviction that dating just isn't for her.
Pulling double duty as a bouncer and a bartender, Rafe Serento has seen a parade of beautiful women walk through the doors of Electric Mist, but he's never met anyone like Cecily. Lovely in every sense of the word, and just as stubborn, she challenges everything he thought he wanted in a relationship.
The more Cecily pushes him away, though, the harder Rafe pushes back, and unless they find some common ground, they'll both end up Alone.

QUOTE: “You’re here to find your next intended target. I’m here to make sure you don’t get into trouble. No one ever mentioned fun.”




JENIKA SNOW
Who is Jenika Snow? She is the pseudonym of a mother, wife and nurse.  She lives in the too hot northeast with her husband and their two daughters, and was able to have her dream come true in 2013 by writing full-time.
FAVE FIVE
1.      Scotland: I have always wanted to travel to the Highlands. I don’t even know why exactly, but one day I hope to make that a reality. 
2.      Russia: again, not sure why. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to go to Russia and see the  
buildings with the twirly tops (what I called them when I was younger. I don’t know if I’ll ever venture out that way, but I love looking up the geography and culture.
3.      Alaska: I’ve already been to Alaska, but I’d lie to travel further inland where the population s slimmer, and the arctic is more abundant. I love the snow (hence my last name) and would love to be surrounded by it. 
4.      Italy: I have always loved Italian cuisine and culture, and would love a first hand look and experience with it one day 
5.      Greece: Greek Mythology has always fascinated me, especially when i started learning about it in school.

Nico Landon, son of The Grizzly MC President, Jagger, has wanted Alexis Stein for as long as he can remember. But Alexis is the daughter of the hardcore Sergeant at Arms for the club, Brick. The scarred biker protects his daughter like no other could, but Nico is a patched in Grizzly member, too, and he will go up against anything and anyone to make Alexis his. 
The MC is all that Alexis knows, but she wouldn’t change the rough and tough lifestyle for anything. She loves Nico and has since she was a little girl, so she isn’t about to let anyone stop her from being with him, even if her dad and all of the Grizzly members are overprotective.

In the end, though, Nico gets his girl, and even has his outlaw wedding filled with bikers and Harleys, because nothing stops a Grizzly from getting what he wants.



FIND IT NOW AT:
QUOTE: “She’s going to be mine whether you give us permission or not. I love her, she loves me, and if she says yes, and you say no, I’ll still make her my wife.”




VELLA DAY
Check out my latest interview on YouTube: http://youtu.be/sQo5pyyVMDI
Not only do I love to read, write, and dream, I'm an extrovert. I enjoy being around people and am always trying to understand what makes them tick. Not only must my books have a happily ever after, I need characters I can relate to. My men are wonderful, dynamic, smart, strong, and the best lovers in the world (of course).
You'll find me most days on my chaise lounge with my laptop and my iced tea(unsweetened!) on the side table. I love to sleep in late and write into the wee hours. I also love FB, so you'll find me on there, too! 
I believe I am the luckiest woman. I do what I love and I have a wonderful, supportive husband, who happens to be hot!
FAVE FIVE
1.      Paris, France. Need I say more? I love the art, the people, and the romance of it all, n’est pas? 
2.      Brevard, North Carolina. Give me trees, gushing streams, and a mountain view, and I’m in heaven. 
3.      Geneva, Switzerland. This city combines the beauty of the mountains with the sophistication of the
city. 
4.      Isle of Capri. The food, the blue grotto, the authentic Italian experience 
5.      The Galapagos Islands. I’ve never been, but to see the animals in their natural habitat would be so wonderful

Heat level—HOT! This book is an erotic ménage for adult audiences only.
The hunt begins.
Mackenzie Wagner is deeply worried when her cousin not only fails to return from a job interview in Florida, she doesn’t answer her phone. Fearing something has happened to Cheryl, Mackenzie is determined to find answers. Now that her werewolf father has been slain by the evil Colters, it’s her job to carry on the tradition of helping others.
Werewolf cousins, Brandon and Sam Crenshaw, work for The Pack—a group charged with taking down the Colter organization. They’re hot on the trail of locating Cheryl Johnson, Mac’s cousin, and the last thing they need, or expect, is a woman interfering with their job.
All plans of keeping her at a distance go awry when the men realize Mackenzie is their mate. They vow to keep her safe—even if they have to lock her up. Too bad she’s smart enough to outwit them. It doesn’t matter the sex with both men is hotter than sin, she wants to find her cousin—no matter the cost. 
COMING SEPTEMBER 10TH!
QUOTE: Going to the police was never an option for her family; closets might be opened—skeletons revealed.




ERIKA REED
Erika Reed lives in Southern California with her loving husband and two beautiful daughters. She is very thankful for her family and friends that have been there, supporting her from the beginning of her writing career.
When she is not writing or running her busy household, she enjoys sitting down with her Kindle, reading one of her favorite authors. She enjoys her writing and will continue to surprise her readers with more exotic stories in the future.
FAVE FIVE
1.      I would have to say that my dream destination would have to be Bora Bora, Tahiti. I have always wanted to stay in a resort where my room/hut is above the clear blue water as I watch the sea life below me. The idea of waking up in the morning, looking down at the water beneath my hut and knowing that I could jump in at anytime of the day, thrills me to the bone. 
2.      Greece would have to be another destination I would enjoy traveling to one day. I have always found the streets and the way the white stucco homes and businesses all look the same. From what I have heard, Greece has the most amazing white sand beaches and crystal blue waters. 

3.      My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Maui, HI. I would have to say that I tend to favor the more tropical atmospheres and loved my week’s stay in Maui. Our time on the island was so relaxing. We snorkeled, parasailed, went to a luau, and swam in the most refreshing waterfalls.  
4.      As most of my friends on Facebook and my wonderful readers know, I live in Southern California and spend most of my time at the beach (mainly Dana Point) and vacation most of the summer at the river. Havasu, CA has an amazing lake that is heavily populated in the summer by many boats and watercrafts, mainly to enjoy the sun and fun. My family and I love vacationing here, boating and just relaxing by the water with family and friends. 
5.      As I get older and begin to think of my retirement with my hunky husband, I often see myself sitting on my porch, sipping my drink, as we overlook our home on the lake. I am not sure where that may be yet, but I hope to live somewhere warm and peaceful.

Sage Monroe is tired of being stepped on and feeling unloved by the people she cares most about in life. To make matters worse, her ex is trying to extort money from her with a video she knows nothing about. When the attractive Duffey cousins come to her rescue, she’s grateful, especially if they can help fix her problems before word gets back to her father.
Tye, Kash, and Tristan Duffey have been smitten over the sexy little cocktail waitress since the moment they laid eyes on the beautiful blonde. When they discover Sage’s apartment had been robbed and her ex is blackmailing their woman, the three will stop at nothing to ensure her safety. The three cousins take control of the situation and vow to eliminate the problem that is causing chaos in her life.
Can their love for one another overcome life’s obstacles that threaten to jeopardize their future?
QUOTE: “Yes, my cousins and I care deeply for Sage and don’t want to see her in any danger. I know you may not understand how she could fall for three men at the same time. But I assure you, sir, our intentions with your daughter are strictly admirable. We will never hurt her. We’ll do anything to keep her safe, sir. You have my word on that.”




OLIVIA BLACK
I fell in love with romance novels years ago and read everything I could get my hands on, from alternative to ménage and everything in between. Thousands of books later, I'm still an avid reader on the lookout for a good book.

I started writing ménage romance with Siren Publishing under the name, Alicia White. Recently, I decided that I wanted to branch out and with the support of my publisher, I started writing ManLove under, Olivia Black. Silver Bullet, is my first ManLove series and I’m looking forward to many others in the future.

I love waking up in the morning, getting my iced coffee and sitting down in front of my laptop. Going on adventures with my characters, makes writing the best job on the planet. My hope is that readers will find something positive in every book I write and that they will enjoy the journey along the way. Happy reading!
FAVE FIVE
This is a hard one since I love to travel. Every summer my daughter and I go on a road trip and we’ve been lucky enough to see some amazing places. The one city I really want to go back and visit is New Orleans. Just breathing the air in this city felt magical, it’s a feeling that’s difficult to explain, but is the reason for writing the Silver Bullet series. I dream about moving to New Orleans and living in a small apartment downtown preferably in the French quarter. The other four places are on my bucket list – Ireland, Scotland, Alaska, and Japan. These four destinations aren’t anything alike, but they all offer something different.    
  
Michael Moriarty is a polar bear shifter from Alaska. He left his small fishing community behind and moved to New Orleans, looking for a change. As a new employee at the Silver Bullet, his responsibility is the clubs security. One night, while making rounds, he stumbles upon a human in need of help.
Kenny Reeves has been dreaming about the Silver Bullet since moving to town. On his twenty-first birthday he decides to go to the club. What starts out as an amazing night soon takes a turn for the worst. His drink gets spiked making him uncoordinated and woozy. With the drug running through his system, Kenny can’t call out for help or fight off his assailant as the stranger pulls him out of the club and shoves him into a van. 
Michael’s never been a knight in shining armor, but when it comes to saving his mate, he’ll do anything.


QUOTE: “Licking his lips, Kenny’s breath picked up just imaging it. Glancing down, Kenny let his eyes trail over Michael’s powerful thighs, defined legs, and bare feet. If he hadn’t known that Michael was a bear shifter, he would’ve guessed. The man had predator written all over him.”




SUSAN HAYES
Susan lives out on the Canadian west coast surrounded by open water, dear family and good friends. She’s jumped out of perfectly good airplanes on purpose and accidently swum with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef.

If the world ends, she plans to survive as the spunky, comedic sidekick to the heroes of the new world, because she’s too damned short and out of shape to make it on her own for long.

To contact her about her books or to arrange end of the world team-ups, you can email her at susanhayesromance@gmail.come
FAVE FIVE

When I was twenty-one, I spent four, incredible months touring New Zealand and Australia on my own. I’ve loved traveling ever since, though there still are a great many places I’ve yet to visit.
1.      Scotland.  I would go back there in a heartbeat. The country is beautiful, the people friendly, and the men have accents to die for. What’s not to love?  Also, kilts. 
2.      Greece. I’ve not been yet, but I hope to see it one day. I studied Classics for a few years and I would love to see the land that spawned the heroes, myths and legends that still survive centuries later. 
3.      New Orleans. I’ve heard so much about the food and atmosphere of this city over the years, I want to experience it for myself. Also, sexy accents. 

4.      New Zealand. It’s been more than twenty years since I last saw this beautiful land, and I would love to go back. I have friends and family over there too, which gives me added incentive to go back one day. Oh yeah, let us not forget the sexy accents. (Sensing a theme here?) 
5.      Cancun, Mexico. I’ve never been to a true “blue water and white sand” tropical locale. Drinks with little umbrellas, sultry breezes and dazzling vistas? Sign me up! There’s actually a pretty good chance I’m going to be heading to Cancun this winter. Whoohoo!

Summoned into slavery, but unchained by love...
Lily is a magically bound slave who exists only to serve as a living ornament - the greatest of her master’s treasures.  When her master is killed, she finds herself bound to a vicious and cruel Duke whose dark intentions leave her terrified for her life.
Kel is the leader the fiercest mercenary army in the kingdoms, answering to no man and guided only by his personal code of honor. Upon learning that he and his men fought and died so their employer could gain control of a fae pleasure slave, he is furious. When that same man breaks his word and refuses to pay for Kel’s services, the mercenary knows just how to even the score.  He steals the Duke’s prize, the lovely fae slave.
Freedom comes at a cost, and the price Kel paid for the slave girl has made him a wanted man. Now the renegade warrior and the soft-hearted fae healer are running for their lives.  To survive, Lily must put her life in the bloodstained hands of a killer. To have what her heart desires, she’ll need to heal more than Kel’s wounds. She’ll need to heal his heart.

NOW AVAIALBE FROM:


QUOTE: Lily’s eyes were full of trust as she gazed up at him, her mouth curved into a knowing smile. “You are a better man than you pretend to be.”
“No, I’m not. Say that again and I’ll turn you over my knee and paddle you.”




JOEY W. HILL
Winner of the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement award, Joey W. Hill has published over thirty contemporary and paranormal BDSM erotic romances, including four series. Her emotionally-intense love stories offer everything from vampires, mermaids, witches and angels, to boardroom executives, cops and simple housemaids. Free excerpts from all her works are available at her website,www.storywitch.com.
FAVE FIVE

1.      Incredibly boring of me, I know, but HOME. I don’t mean a normal day at home, where I’m up to my ears in a million things and can’t enjoy what being there means. Instead, it would be a day when I can sit on my back screened porch with my animals and husband, read for pleasure, eat chocolate, watch the bees drone and the breeze move through the pampas grass and just…be. Like Dorothy, I can’t think of any other place like it. 

2.   Greece – I had a history professor who gave me an enduring love of the sculpture and history thereand I’d like to see it firsthand.
3.   Japan – though I’ve developed quite a black thumb these past few years, I still admire different types of gardens, and the ones I’ve seen with Japanese influences are some of my favorites. 
4.      Disney (the Florida one) – I’ve been a few times, and I love it every time. Always something new to experience and enjoy. I think people either love or hate it passionately, but I fall in the former category. Every time I see Cinderella’s castle, I get tears in my eyes. There’s a magic to the place that runs under, over and through it, if you look past the commercial stuff. 
5.      Caswell Beach, NC – we lived near there for quite a while and it’s a beautiful beach. Quiet, family-oriented, and a great place to sit and write for hours at a time beneath an umbrella, with your toes dug into the sand.

Ranch owner Quinn Pedraza has to find someone to run the saloon he won in a bet, but more than that, he needs a woman who can handle his alpha personality…and closet submissive sexual cravings. When vampire Selene Torres arrives on the scene, he gets everything he wants – and learns what he really needs.

QUOTE: “Condition number three,” Selene said. “You’re one of my employment benefits. And that starts right now.”







LAURIE ROMA
Laurie Roma lives in Chicago and mainly writes contemporary, romantic suspense, and sci-fi romance. She has always loved immersing herself in a good book and now enjoys the pleasure of creating her own. She can usually be found tapping away on her keyboard, creating worlds for her characters while she listens to music. Of course her playlist depends on her mood…but then again, so does her writing.
An avid reader of the romance genre, nothing bothers her more than annoying characters. Seriously, who wants a happy ending for someone that pisses you off? She loves tough alpha-male heroes and strong heroines that have brains as well as beauty. Her novels are filled with both passionate romance and down and dirty lust-driven interludes, as she believes both are essential to a good love story. She loves to hear from her readers and can be reached at laurieromabooks@gmail.com.
FAVE FIVE
1.      Scotland - Men in kilts with those sexy accents...need I say more? 

2.      Mexico - Where else can you stay at an all inclusive resort and relax for this kind of price? Every time I go there I’m able to relax, get a tan, and just have fun. 
3.      Italy - The men, the food, the scenery...did I mention the men? 
4.      Japan - I would love to see the cherry blossom festival there! 
5.      Greece - It’s beautiful, steeped in history, and just one of those places I would love to see!

Jared “Hammer” Caufield is a former Army Ranger and retired professional MMA champion that had to give up his fighting career due to a knee injury. He is a bad boy through and through, but that doesn’t stop him from craving the sweet little bakery owner, even though he knows she is too good for him…
Bakery owner, Kalista Redford, is a woman who has had a difficult past. She has always struggled with her self-esteem, and her last breakup hasn’t done anything to help improve her opinion of herself. When Kalista finds herself pursued by the dark and dangerous man she has secretly dreamed about, will she be able to follow her heart or will past insecurities threaten to ruin her chance at true love?




GET IT NOW FROM:

QUOTE: "His body was like living art. With thick, corded muscles covered with tattoos, he was the epitome of a bad boy."

Don't forget to drop by for Laurie's August Symposium: Naughty Girl! 


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Carb Wars: Hot Cocoa

Last week, a friend challenged me to find a hot cocoa recipe that was low in carbs and didn't suck. With Fall right around the corner, hot chocolate is a must-have in our house, and I was excited to find an alternative to one of my favorite indulgences.

Classic Hot Cocoa
Low Carb Makeover


Ingredients


  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 packets Splenda (or other sugar substitute)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)


Directions


  • Mix the almond milk (or any other low carb milk of your choice) with the heavy cream and vanilla extract and heat in the microwave for 2 1/2 minutes. If you prefer, you can also bring the mixture to a slow boil on the stove top. Just remember to keep the burner on low and stir constantly to prevent sticking. 
  • In a mug, mix the cocoa powder, sugar substitute, and cinnamon (optional). Carefully pour the milk mixture into the mug and stir until rich and smooth. Top off with Reddi-wip and a sprinkle of nutmeg and enjoy!



Variations


  • Remove the cinnamon and substitute peppermint extract for the vanilla for Mint Hot Chocolate
  • Use only one tbsp of cocoa powder and exchange the almond milk for one cup of dark roast coffee for a quick Mocha Latte. 


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Carb Wars: Cream Cheese Brownie Mugcake



I was 15 when the doctors diagnosed me with GERD. For those who aren't familiar, GERD stands for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. It's a form of chronic heartburn, and let me tell you, it hurts like hell. I took medication for years just to be able to eat anything without suffering, and it wasn't just the heartburn. The medication the doctors put me on caused other digestive problems, and it all just made me miserable.

About four months ago, I discovered an article linking carbs to GERD. It seemed legit, and honestly, after 15 years of pain, I was willing to try anything. In summary, my stomach doesn't produce enough acid. This means my body suffers from carbohydrate malabsorption, meaning it can't absorb or process most carbs, which causes bacterial overgrowth, and this leads to bloating or expansion of the stomach. This is what causes acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion.

After a bit more research, I decided to try the Atkin's diet since it seemed the easiest to follow, and this would be a lifelong change for me. And you know what? It worked! It's now been 3 months since I've had to take my reflux prescription, and I feel better than I have in years! 

Avoiding carbs and finding alternatives has been a challenge, though, especially when trying to cook something my entire family will eat. I choose to look at it as an adventure, though, and I hope you'll come along with me for the ride! 


CREAM CHEESE BROWNIE MUGCAKE



I love chocolate! Chocolate, however, has a lot of sugar and a lot of carbs. So, what's a girl to do when she needs a chocolate fix? Improvise, of course! 

Ingredients

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp sugar substitute, divided
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8th tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided

Instructions

Melt the butter in a coffee mug in the microwave. About 15 seconds will do the trick. Add cocoa, baking powder, egg, 1 tsp sugar substitute (I use Splenda) and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.



In a separate bowl, soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Add the remaining vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp sugar substitute. Mix until smooth. Pour into the mug on top of the chocolate mixture, but don't stir them together. 

Cook in the microwave for 1 minute and 40 seconds. Top it off with a tablespoon of Smucker's Sugar-Free Hot Fudge and enjoy!