Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Crockpot Spaghetti Squash

12:00 AM 0 Comments
It's Too Yummy Tuesday!

On select Tuesdays I share delicious recipes either inspired by my books or that are just plain delicious!


One of my favorite tools in the kitchen is my crockpot. Year round, I use it to make soups, chili, pulled pork, chicken, and I've even made chocolate cake! Fall is a prime time for me to bust this baby out and start making some super easy, delicious meals, especially since squash is so plentiful in the market right now and I discovered what must be the simplest way on earth to prepare spaghetti squash. No boiling, baking, fuss, or muss...just cut a squash in half (the quick way-through the middle) and pop it in the crockpot into some sauce. That's it!

If you can't bring yourself to whip up the awesome sauce from scratch, two jars of spaghetti sauce will do the trick. But honestly, I love the rich, hearty flavor of the homemade version below--and it's so easy there's little reason not to give it a try.

Crockpot Spaghetti Squash

 Ingredients

1 small onion, diced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced (optional)
Olive or other oil for sauteeing
1 lb ground beef
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 28-oz cans San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp sugar (honey or maple syrup works if you're avoiding table sugar)
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Parmesan cheese to heart's content (optional)
1 spaghetti squash, washed and cut in half across middle (so you have one piece with the stem end and another piece with a blossom end)

Directions

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and saute onions until soft. Add mushrooms and saute until browned. Add ground beef and stir, breaking up until cooked. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add tomato, cumin, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt/pepper, and red pepper flakes if using. Stir everything through and bring to barely a simmer. If you're using Parmesan, stir in about 1/2 cup at this point.

Pour sauce mixture into a crockpot. Scoop seeds out of spaghetti squash halves and discard (or save for other uses). Place halves, cut sides down, into sauce mixture. Cover crockpot and cook on low for approximately 6 hrs, or on high approximately 3-4 hours or until squash is soft and strands separate easily with fork but are no longer "crunchy". (Unless you prefer it that way. I like mine just a bit "al dente".) Shred squash strand into bowls and top with ladles of sauce. 

Serves 3-4


Enjoy!
~~~

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Goodreads. She loves talking to people!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Weird Writing Tip #6 -Talk to Yourself

12:00 AM 0 Comments

Part of a series of Weird Writing Tips that have helped me craft that wacky thing we call "fiction".


Talk to Yourself

Last week's tip dove into what some might consider hippy-dippy territory, discussing the art of Feng Shui as a method of improving the flow of creative energy. I'm headed back to that "out there" sort of place today with another technique I learned early this year. 

Ever have a story that just won't talk to you? Characters who turn their backs, a muse who takes unscheduled and unapproved vacations? Ever feel like you just can't get into that writer "flow" the way you do when that word count is burning up pages? Here's a trick to get in touch with that Awesomely Prolific Writer You.


 The weird tip is: Use meditation/visualization to talk to the future/alternate "You" who has already written the project you want.

Here's how to do this:

Find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down in at a time when you can spend ten or fifteen minutes without being disturbed. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, in and out, in and out. Thoughts will come, telling you about the dishes you need to wash or the bill you forgot to pay. Let the thoughts drift away, telling yourself you will deal with them in a little bit.

When you feel relaxed, picture a door in front of you. Imagine that on the other side of the door, you will encounter yourself, specifically, the future self (or alternate self, if you prefer) who has successfully written your current or planned project. When you're ready, open that door and find You. Maybe you're at a desk in a grand office, typing another book. Maybe you're outdoors, enjoying nature. Wherever "You" are, walk up and say hello. Ask about the project, how it was written, how You got past any pitfalls. Let You talk, and listen carefully to whatever You say, any advice given. Observe how You are dressed, how You talk about writing, the energy and positivity You project. Let that energy fill the present you until you feel in synch. When you are ready, move back through the doorway, into your own time and place, bringing the energy and wisdom of your other Self with you.

This might feel silly the first time or two you try it. That's okay! If this doesn't work at first, try again tomorrow. If You said something that doesn't immediately seem related to your problem, don't dismiss it too quickly. Think on it. You might have given just the right advice, once you learn what it means.

Give this a fair try. You have the answers you need. Trust your intuition!

Have fun, and have at it!

~~~
On select Mondays, I like to gab about writing or whatever's going on with me. For more gab, please join me on Twitter or Facebook. I love talking to people!


J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gods Still at Work -Snippet Sunday

12:00 AM 16 Comments
~~Warning: Mature themes~~

On Sundays, I share tidbits of my works in progress as part of Weekend Warrior’s 8-Sentence Sunday.  

Still no title for my Yule story, the first in a series of short stories based around eight sons of Herne, pagan gods appointed to oversee the sabbats. Last week, Dominus was thinking of the seductive earth female he had prepared to become the sun bearer in his Yule ritual.  We move straight on from the end of last week's snippet, which finished with a single word: Lorayna.

Dominus heard her name dance through his thoughts, and try though he might, he could not wave it away. He typically preferred not to know the names of the women whose light he released. There was little point in it, for he would not see nor know anything of the females once his mission was complete. For their part, the women would know nothing of him, either. The majority of human consciousness was blissfully unaware that their world sat tightly against a realm of immortals and magic, nor did they care to know just how much their gods were still at work to this day, walking the woods, tending to fields and lusty lasses, and generally keeping their worlds in balance.
Laughter rose to his ears, and he drew back instinctively behind the cover of trees. Humans would not see him while he wore the veil charm, rare few, anyway, but he felt it best not to chance it. The door to the cottage opened and several people spilled out, happy and carefree and followed by a waft of alcohol that was apparent to his keen, supernatural senses. Then came the presence he sought--Lorayna, standing in the doorway with a wide smile that tightened Dominus’s chest.


So, what do you think?

~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ *~ * ~ *~ *

For more awesome snippets, check out 

~~~~
I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Simply Scrumptious Sauteed Beets

12:00 AM 0 Comments
It's Too Yummy Tuesday!

On select Tuesdays I share delicious recipes either inspired by my books or that are just plain delicious!


The past couple of weeks I've posted recipes involving several steps and quite a few ingredients, not to mention more sugar than I normally eat these days. So today I thought I'd change things up with something quick, easy, and so good!

As part of my personal challenge to eat healthier, I've been exploring vegetables I'd either never eaten or hated as a kid and never tried again. The honey-sriracha brussels sprouts I posted a few weeks back was one such experiment, and today's is another. I'm officially a veggie convert!

If you've been shying away from beets, they are nutritious and have heart-healthy antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering properties--so give them a try! This recipe may help change your mind about them. The cooking does involve two steps--first boiling til tender, then into a skillet for some sauteed deliciousness--but that small extra effort is well worth it. With just a few simple ingredients, the beet flavor is delicate and shines nicely. Don't skip out on using the beet tops! I was highly skeptical about doing it, but I found I almost enjoyed the flavor of the greens more than the beets themselves. Quite nice.

Simply Scrumptious Sauteed Beets


Ingredients

1 lb beets with top greens
Boiling water
Small amount of oil for sauteeing (I love coconut oil for this, but olive oil is great too)
Salt to taste
A sprinkling of garlic powder (optional)


Directions

Wash beets and cut off greens; reserve. Cut into quarters (no need to peel yet) and place in boiling water. Boil gently for about 20 minutes until fork tender. While boiling, chop greens and set aside. Drain beets and (carefully) remove peels. They will come off easily!

Heat a medium skillet with a small amount of oil until hot. Sautee beets for 1 minute, then add greens. Salt to taste and add garlic powder, if using. Sautee until greens are wilted.

Serves 2-4 (or just me, as I'm happy to chow down on this for dinner, then lunch the next day!)


Enjoy!
~~~

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Goodreads. She loves talking to people!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Weird Writing Tip #5- Move Your Chair

12:00 AM 0 Comments

Part of a series of Weird Writing Tips that have helped me craft that wacky thing we call "fiction".


Move Your Chair

I've been talking to a writer friend of mine a lot lately about our processes, including our little rituals and the locations that help us get words onto the page. During one such chat, I realized how much my writing area has changed since we moved to the townhouse, and how it no longer fits some of my own previously defined "musts" for an ideal flow of creativity. 

Years back, before I began writing, shall we say, the "spicier stuff", I used to blog about Feng Shui for writers. Specifically, I discussed how some simple strategies for arranging writing space can make huge strides in our careers and creativity.  There's a whole process that goes along with this, but even quick, easy changes in clutter, light, color, and positioning of furniture can make an amazing difference in your productivity.

Using my own Feng Shui advice back then, my writing went to a whole new level, and I wound up hitting my new publisher's bestseller list several times.

So the weird tip is: Move your writing chair to an "ideal" location as identified by the principles of Feng Shui.

Here's how to do this:
WALL WITH DOOR HERE

The image at right is called a "bagua", or a Feng Shui octagon. It shows what aspect of our lives is affected by each area within a given space (a house, a room, or even a desk). Mentally overlay this octagon on the room you write in, making sure the "Career" side of the octagon is positioned along the wall where the door is. 

Now, consider where within this octagon your writing chair is located. If you write in the Marriage, Family, Health, or, to a lesser degree, Knowledge area, this isn't as desirable (unless you write non-fiction, in which case, the Knowledge zone might work well).  Consider a move according to your current writing goals.

*The Children's area is also called the Creative area. Good for obvious reasons, especially if you've suffered writer's block.
*The Fame or Career areas are nice places to write when you're wanting to get published, increase visibility for your writing brand, or are moving into writing as a full-time job.
*The Wealth area can help you earn more money for your writing.

If it's not practical to rearrange your writing chair, try writing in these zones anyway. Hopefully a couch or seat is already located there, but if not, pull up a rolling or dining chair, a beanbag, whatever. Give it a shot. Look around and see how it "feels" to write in this zone. If there's just no good spot in that room, go to the ideal zones in a different room (the living room, for instance) and see if it works better for your needs.


Have fun, and have at it!

~~~
On select Mondays, I like to gab about writing or whatever's going on with me. For more gab, please join me on Twitter or Facebook. I love talking to people!

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Season of Light -Snippet Sunday

12:00 AM 20 Comments
~~Warning: Mature themes~~

On Sundays, I share tidbits of my works in progress as part of Weekend Warrior’s 8-Sentence Sunday.  

This week, I'm still working on my Sons of Herne series, which will be a set of short fantasy tales focused around the eight pagan sabbats and the seductive gods appointed to oversee them. I still haven't decided on a title for the Yule story I'm writing first. Last week, I shared the opening snippet, where Dominus was on a walk through the winter woods. Today we'll move forward just a few sentences to discover what he's up to. 


Dominus raised his forearm near his face, leaning it against the nearest pine tree while he observed the cottage for signs of activity. The hour grew late on the eve of Yule, but many humans celebrated their seasonal festivities long into December nights. Some, including those who kept the old ways, marked the rebirth of the sun by staying awake all through the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice, keeping vigil until the break of dawn proclaimed in the physical world what Dominus would achieve in the metaphysical.
Another season of light would be brought forth by a meshing of souls—one from each realm—but Dominus could not simply choose any female he wished from the earth realm. She must be one impregnated with the light of a Beltane fire.
Dominus thought of his last visit to her, how he had stood at her bedside, whispering ancient secrets while her hair spilled across her pillow and her round curves beckoned. His male need flared into a sharp ache at her beauty, urging him to plunge his fingers through that silken hair and run his tongue over every sultry dip and swell on her body. He never touched her—he could not.
A figure passed by the sheer curtain drawn halfway across the front window, and his pulse quickened.

Lorayna.


So, what do you think?

~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ *~ * ~ *~ *

For more awesome snippets, check out 

~~~~
I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cheese Blintzes with Cherry Sauce

12:00 AM 0 Comments
It's Too Yummy Tuesday!

On select Tuesdays I share delicious recipes either inspired by my books or that are just plain delicious!


Last week, I shared a recipe for cheesecake that I made for my husband's birthday. I had half a package of cream cheese plus half a can of cherry pie filling left over, and I wanted to find a way to use them up this week. So I decided to make blintzes, something I hadn't done in like fifteen years. I grew up eating blintzes, which are basically stuffed crepes, and I perfected my own recipe over years of trying out different versions. Sadly, my handwritten recipe book was destroyed in a flood, but I was determined this week to recreate the splendor once again. The results were a big hit--my husband invited me to make these whenever I want, preferably every morning for his breakfast. LOL. 

Don't be scared off at the thought of making crepes. They are so easy and quick to do in this recipe! No crepe pan needed, and you don't even have to flip them in the skillet. I made the entire recipe in 30 minutes.  Okay, not counting the fact that I made my own ricotta cheese for the filling, since I didn't have any. That will be next week's recipe! (And the ricotta only took 5 minutes of actual work.)

The trick to these blintzes is to use a small nonstick skillet and spray with a generous spritz of cooking spray before pouring in batter (wipe out pan between each crepe and re-spritz). Make sure the pan stays hot, but not too hot or crepes will brown/burn. Water dropped in skillet should sizzle, but not spit at you and jump out of the pan. If your pan gets too hot while making crepes, remove from heat, run under water for 1 second, and wipe dry before returning to heat. Do the water drop test and the temp should be perfect again.

This recipe made 8 blintzes, 2 for each of us plus 2 extra for my lunchbox the next day. (Yay!) This amount fit my large skillet perfectly for the last step. If you need to double the recipe, fry your blintzes in 2 batches or in 2 large skillets.

Cheese Blintzes with Cherry Sauce


Ingredients
Crepes
1/2 cup flour, sifted
2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Filling
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup ricotta cheese, preferably drained for 30 minutes over a colander (line with cheesecloth or layers of heavy duty paper towels)
4 Tbsp sugar or to taste
1/2 tsp vanilla

Toppings
1/2 can cherry pie filling
and
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Make Topping: Stir together sugar and cinnamon until combined; set aside. (Heat cherry pie filling about 30-60 seconds in microwave about 5 minutes before serving.)
Make filling: Cream ingredients together until well combined and smooth. Set aside while making crepes. 

Make crepes: Combine crepe ingredients in medium bowl and beat. Use an electric mixer on low speed, or a wire whisk by hand until the batter is smooth. (You don't want lumps like you tend to get with pancake batter. You want to wind up with a very thin batter, smooth, free of lumps, and with just a few air bubbles around the sides of the bowl.) If the batter seems too thick to flow easily around your pan, add 1 tsp of water at a time to the desired consistency.


Heat a small skillet until a water drop sizzles. Spray pan with cooking spray.  Pour in a scant 1/3 cup of batter (I use a bit over 3/4 full in a 1/3 cup measure); tilt pan immediately so batter covers the bottom evenly. Let crepe cook about 1 minute, just until you see the top dry out (it can feel a bit sticky to the touch, but not wet).  Don't walk away--this goes quick. Lift crepe out of pan with a wide spatula and set aside on a plate. 

Crepes can stick together when stacking them on the plate, so to prevent that sprinkle each crepe very lightly with a bit of the cinnamon-sugar mixture you prepared. They will separate much easier now!

Wipe pan, spray, and repeat until all batter is used. (If you did *scant* 1/3 measures, you should have 8 crepes.)

Assemble blintzes and cook: 
On cooked side of crepe, place about 1 -1/2 Tbsp of filling along 1 side, about halfway between center and edge. Fold short end over filling, then fold up ends, and then roll up other side (just like making a burrito). Repeat with remaining crepes. 

Heat large skillet with about 1/2 inch of oil (I use coconut for the flavor, but you can use regular cooking oil). Add 2 Tbsp butter. When melted, add crepes to pan and fry for about 1 minute to 90 seconds until golden brown; turn and fry 1 minute on other side so blintzes are evenly golden. Drain on paper toweling.  To serve, top with warm cherry filling and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.


Enjoy!
~~~

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Goodreads. She loves talking to people!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Weird Writing Tip #4- Don't Name The Thing

12:00 AM 0 Comments

The fourth in a series of Weird Writing Tips that have helped me craft that wacky thing we call "fiction".

Don't Name The Thing

I got to thinking about this tip the other day after helping a friend with a college English assignment. Her teacher gave feedback about not "telling" the story--in other words, the whole "Show vs Tell" thing. It's a simple enough concept when bandied about by fiction writers, but teaching exactly HOW to make that mental shift to someone with no fiction writing experience can be an interesting prospect. 

I thought back to my own humble writer beginnings, when I was first making the change over from non-fiction. Let me just say, "showing" a scene was a tall order when my prior background had consisted largely of health education articles and random how to's. After stumbling through some rather poor attempts at prose, I ran across an exercise that finally broke through my rigid, procedural telling and allowed me to start showing what I wanted to convey.

The weird tip is: Practice writing about everyday objects without ever actually naming what they are.

Here's how to do this:

Look around the room and select an item at random. Spend a few minutes freewriting a list of descriptive terms that do not include the actual name of the item or any synonyms. (For instance, if you are looking at a flower, don't write "flower", "rose", or "posy".) Now go back through and delete references to shape and color. Finally, write a sentence describing the item using the remaining terms. It's okay if it looks silly or rambles on a bit. Just do your best. And by the way, you get bonus points if you also avoid naming what the item is made out of. (For instance, "wood" if you're describing a desk.)

This can be a tough exercise at first! It is certainly much easier to say, "There were flowers in a vase on the desk" than, "An explosion of delicate beauty, like miniature fireworks bursting out of a crystalline palace, adorned her desk." But one way will help enrich the molecules zipping around your writer's brain, while the other way, not so much.

Important: I'm not suggesting that this is the way to write all our actual fiction, so that a character doesn't get into a "car", but a "rolling contraption of gleaming technology." Rather, the purpose of this exercise is to force our brains away from "telling" what The Thing is, and instead describing the essence of what makes an object/person/setting unique. It's a technique worth playing around with for a bit. As  you practice, this will get easier and more automatic until you realize that your prose flows out with much more richness and layers during actual writing sessions. The gears have switched over, and the fiction writer's thought process has kicked in. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

Have fun, and have at it!

~~~
On select Mondays, I like to gab about writing or whatever's going on with me. For more gab, please join me on Twitter or Facebook. I love talking to people!

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Call of Winter's Duty -Snippet Sunday

12:00 AM 16 Comments
~~Warning: Mature themes~~

On Sundays, I share tidbits of my works in progress as part of Weekend Warrior’s 8-Sentence Sunday.  

I know I left some readers (and myself) wondering last week how the hero of Bound to Her Master would perform during the slave games. However, I've had to put that book aside temporarily to focus on a new story, as it is part of a series slated to launch at the end of November. (Can you believe it's just around the corner?)

 The Sons of Herne will be a series of short fantasy tales focused around the eight pagan sabbats and the seductive gods appointed to oversee them. This week's snippet is the opener for my as-yet-untitled Yule story.

The crisp bite of frost in the air was sharp enough to sting even the nostrils of an immortal, but it was the scent of anticipation that Dominus inhaled most as he strode through the woods. He needn’t have bothered approaching this way, on foot through the wild forest. He could simply appear inside her cottage, where it was no doubt warm and welcoming. Still, he preferred to walk the wintry landscape at this time of year, when the crunch of snow beneath his boots and the heady scent of pine sparked a most pleasant ache between his legs. The crackle of ice breaking off a nearby branch was a call to duty, the brush of chilled wind a push toward his destiny. The nipples on his bare chest hardened, but not solely from the cold breeze across his skin. Most humans marked the change in their annual calendars on a different day, but Dominus was well aware that this night, the night of the Winter Solstice, would be when he brought forth a new year. He and the woman he had been carefully preparing for this moment.


So, what do you think?

~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ *~ * ~ *~ *

For more awesome snippets, check out 

~~~~
I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Salted Caramel Cheesecake

12:00 AM 0 Comments
It's Too Yummy Tuesday!

On select Tuesdays I share delicious recipes either inspired by my books or that are just plain delicious!


My husband's birthday is this week (today, in fact), and we celebrated early since I had the weekend off from work. Since he's not a big "cake" fanatic, I made him his favorite dessert--cheesecake. Now, he prefers his cheesecake topped with cherries, and that's good fun. Still, I thought I'd add a twist. I made the cheesecake plain and served toppings on the side, so each of us could heap on whatever we wanted. So today I give you MY ultimate fantasy--cheesecake with homemade salted caramel sauce. Heaven! 

Don't be afraid to try making your own caramel sauce. It's not at all difficult and doesn't even require a candy thermometer. However, it does take a close eye, so I'm including photos of the steps I took to prepare it.

I almost didn't wait long enough to snap this photo before eating!
Salted Caramel Cheesecake

Ingredients
Crust
1 cup vanilla wafers, ground fine
1 cup graham crackers, ground fine
1/2 cup nuts (pecans, almonds, or walnuts), ground fine (optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
4 Tbsp butter, melted

Filling
1 1/2  lbs cream cheese, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
5 eggs, room temp
16 oz carton sour cream
1/4 cup flour, sifted
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice

Salted Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
Kosher or other coarse salt of your choice, to taste

Directions
Grease a 9-inch springform pan over bottom and up the sides. Fill a 13x9 inch baking pan (or something similar-the size isn't crucial) about half full of water and set it on the bottom rack of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Make crust: Combine all crust ingredients and press into bottom and partly up sides of prepared pan. Set aside. Note: if you opted not to use nuts, add an extra 1/2 cup of either nilla wafers or grahams, your choice.

Make filling: Beat cream cheese til fluffy with a hand mixer on the lowest setting. Add sugar and cream together well. If you're like me, by now you want to zip up the speed on your mixer. Resist and keep beating on low. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well. Blend in sour cream, flour, vanilla, and lemon juice. Pour onto crust and bake on the middle rack of your oven for one hour and fifteen minutes. Turn the oven off, open the door and let it sit for an additional one hour. Remove to cool. 


Make sauce: 
I like to start the caramel sauce about 20-30 minutes before serving the cheesecake, to give it a chance to cool off a bit. Just two points of caution:

1. Careful. Hot sugar can splatter like heck at times and stick to your skin! Which isn't nearly as fun as eating the caramel. So stand a bit away from your pan when adding ingredients to the melted sugar.
2. Don't walk away from caramel. Once you start melting the sugar, stand by and keep an eagle eye on the mixture. Depending on your pan and burner, this shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes. (I have an electric stove, so it takes a bit longer to heat things up. Meh.) 


White sugar layer in bottom of my large,heavy skillet
Pour sugar evenly in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or medium sized skillet and place over medium heat. (By the way, see the little ceramic handprint at the top of the photo? My son, who now towers over me, made me that when he was a tiny little thing. It makes a great spoon rest.) Leave the sugar alone until you see the edges start to brown and/or melt slightly. I find this step rather tough, because I tend to be impatient and standing over something without stirring, prodding, or otherwise meddling isn't in my nature. And you can't nip off real quick to do something else, either. You have to stay with it and watch, as caramel can go from white sugar to burned mess fairly rapidly. If you smell something funky happening, gently pull in with a spatula to see what's going on beneath that white layer of granules. If it's melting, proceed to the next step. Otherwise, smooth it out like nothing happened and leave it alone for a bit longer.
Transparent sugar at edge now...start pulling toward center

 When you see melted or browning sugar around the edge, begin pulling the sugar from the edges toward the center with a spatula or wooden spoon. (I love a sturdy rubber spatula for this.) Once the sugar has melted and has a lovely caramel color, add the butter (carefully) and whisk  in. 
This is my preferred color, which happens FAST once sugar starts melting
 How dark you want your caramel is up to you. I prefer the nice light caramel shown above. Once it goes dark, say around the copper of a penny and beyond, there's a bitter note in the aftertaste that some people enjoy. I'm not one of them. Plus it's barely a heartbeat from dark to burnt, and I'd rather not risk it.
Add the butter and stir quickly (carefully, to avoid spatter)

Once your butter is melted, remove pan from heat and let the bubbling slow down for a few seconds. Then add the cream. Watch out for splattering here while stirring it in. The volume will increase quite a bit during this stage, so just keep whisking to tame the beast (and hopefully you used a large enough pan, yes?)


Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...beautiful cream-and-sugar trouble!!

Let your caramel cool a bit until it won't singe your taste buds off, if you can stand to wait that long. I can't, which is how I know caramel can and will singe taste buds. So patience! You can either serve individual slices of cheesecake with caramel drizzled on top and a pinch of coarse salt, or serve a small jug alongside your cheesecake and a small dish of salt for people to add as they wish. 


The finished caramel...silky, creamy and oh-so delicious.

Another way to serve: let's say your cheesecake got a bit too much color on top or you had some cracking. (The pan of water in the oven should have helped with that, but it still happens.)  Let the caramel cool enough to pour over the top of your cheesecake without melting it, and cover the whole thing. Sprinkle with salt. Voila, those imperfections are gone.

By the way, you can serve caramel sauce other ways--over ice ice cream, warm cake, apple pie, as a "fondue" dip for bananas/peaches/apples, etc. Yum!

Enjoy!
~~~

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night. Connect with her on Twitter or Goodreads. She loves talking to people!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Weird Writing Tip #3- Edit Backwards

12:00 AM 0 Comments

The third in a series where I will be dropping some Weird Writing Tips that have helped me over fifteen years or so of pounding out fiction.


Edit Backwards

This gem of a tip is one I learned about some years ago when I was editing for a small publisher. It really helps fish out some awkward prose and small mistakes.

Typically when we edit a piece, we read through it from start to finish. This is great, of course, and every story should get at least a couple of full read-throughs. But what happens here is, when you are in the "flow" of reading, your brain will sometimes fill in blanks, missing words, incorrect spellings, etc all on its own. To keep this handy brain thing from happening, you have to take the "flow" out of the read and focus on one sentence at a time. 

So the weird tip is: Make a sentence-by-sentence edit pass starting with The End and working backward.

When you read things out of context, your brain won't be as apt to create optical illusions to make you think things are correct when they aren't. Now, I'm not talking about flipping words around backwards, so they look like cuneiform:

I mean reading each sentence normally, but starting with the last bit of your book rather than the first.

This is done literally the way it sounds. Go to the tail end of your manuscript and read the very last sentence. Reading it out loud is even better. Correct flaws, if any, and refine anything that could be smoother. Go to the sentence just before the last and repeat. It will seem funny at first, but that's the point. I recommend this is as one of your last editing passes, after revision and a quick proofread. You may be surprised what you find.

Have fun, and have at it!

~~~
On select Mondays, I like to gab about writing or whatever's going on with me. For more gab, please join me on Twitter or Facebook. I love talking to people!

J. Rose Allister is the author of more than twenty-five books, primarily romance and erotic romance. A former editor and submissions director, she now works as a mild-mannered hospital secretary by day, naughty writer by night.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Test of a Dominant -Snippet Sunday

12:00 AM 20 Comments
~~Warning: Adult content~~

On Sundays, I share tidbits of my works in progress as part of Weekend Warrior’s 8-Sentence Sunday.  This week, I continue with my latest project, a bondage fantasy titled Bound to Her Master.

Last week, Ti-Hana, sex slave to the arising lordship himself, had her big moment being revealed to the crowd--although her attention was more focused on her Master. This week, we've moved a little ways forward, into Lord Stepanyan's viewpoint as he contemplates the even bigger moment that lies just ahead. 

Every nerve in Stepanyan’s body twinged with a tight alertness, as though he were preparing for battle with a Lyrian fire beast rather than simply audiencing his Mastery of a female. He had done so many times in the pleasure house, even once or twice at the open-air temple, and this occasion should be no different. Yet it was.
This was not only a test of a god’s skill in the Cerunnon ways, but a test of a ruler preparing to take his place on the high seat. A test of a Dominant who had tamed a ti hana—a truly "wild human"—in just a couple of months. A female with no prior knowledge that his realm even existed, let alone how their bondage traditions worked, would be put through her paces to show how well his time in the pleasure chamber with her had been spent. The many eyes who would behold this session would not only be judging his technique and control, but also his leadership. What if she failed him?

What if he failed her?


So, what do you think?

~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ * ~ * ~ *~ *~ * ~ *~ *

For more awesome snippets, check out 

~~~~
I'm J. Rose Allister, wife, working mom, and the author of over twenty-five books. Somewhere in between one and the next, I love hanging out here on my blog and over on Twitter. Give me a comment or follow-I love chatting with people!

Visits To This Blog: