Today, I’m delighted to have the beautiful and enchanting Sandra Sookoo as my guest. Sandra is sharing stories about her, a snippet of her work and a yummy recipe. Plus, in addition to the package of book swag Sandra mentions at the end of her blog for a prize, the winner will also receive a fall scented lip balm from Bath & Body Works. So let’s get those comments going folks! Sandra will draw a winner Sunday night!!!
Thanks for having me on the blog today! I’m excited to be here. So, you wanna know if food plays a part in my books, huh? I’d have to answer yes and no. At the start of my writing career, food did feature heavily into my stories. In fact, the whole of my Holiday Magic series does feature food of some sort, since there are stories featuring a diner owner, a couple of bakery owners, Santa’s nephews, Cupid, etc. I used to always give out recipes in my swag I handed out. Of course, there is this one hot little story featuring a vampire and chocolate ganche… but that’s a story for another time!
Over time, my writing evolved and I don’t use food as much. However, I do feature a recipe each month on my website and usually post a favorite every Tuesday on my blog. For me, food and writing go hand in hand. If I’m stuck on a plot point while writing, or the story just isn’t moving along as great as I’d like, I head to the kitchen and cook or bake. More often than not, by the time I’m done, the writing problem has worked itself out in my brain.
Today, I’m bringing you a favorite recipe I’ve made many times. It originally came from the people at Penzey’s Spices (who, incidentally inspired my very first book with a spice rub) I thought it would be fitting since it’s chocoately in time for Halloween and a great way to use up zucchini from your gardens this summer.
Also, here’s a blurb and short excerpt for an upcoming Halloween themed historical romance (releasing on 10-31) called Courtesans and Thieves.
Where pumpkins and midnight meet that’s where love can be found.
Audrey Harper wants nothing more than to experience life before she consigns herself to taking care of everyone else in her family. A Halloween masquerade fits the bill. As a French courtesan she intends to lure an unsuspecting man into her bed, find a few moments of bliss and leave before the clock strikes midnight.
Justin Redding’s life as a junior accountant is as far from exciting as he can get. As a result, he supplements his income and thirst for adventure by stealing jewelry from the area’s wealthy upper crust. He’s admired Audrey from afar and convincing her father that he’s good enough is uppermost in his mind. Disguising himself as a masked avenger is the only way to win her heart.
What happens next is a heady jaunt through a crowded 1880s ballroom, a shadowy pumpkin patch and perfumed sheets. But unraveling lies and secret identities might trap the pair in a sticky web, dissolving the moonlit love affair before love’s bloom can take root.
Costumed guests ebbed and flowed around her like a colorful, glittering sea. Most of the men wore half-masks, some had headdresses and hoods that fully obscured their faces while a good percentage of the women’s faces were free. A few wore veils, but by and large, the female element to the party had chosen to put the bulk of their energies into displaying their other attributes.
Grinning, she navigated the crowded floor, knowing that’s exactly what she’d done with her own costume. How many of these women were prowling for men tonight? How many would find the object of their desire? Her smile slipped a bit. Lots of competition it would seem, which meant she couldn’t waste any more time.
All doors on the south side of the house were thrown open to encourage the party to spill outside to the large patio and gardens beyond. At the edge of the Harper property, the neighbors owned an extensive apple orchard and pumpkin fields. Audrey grinned and this time nothing could dim it. The perfect place for a rendezvous. Tendrils of a cool breeze wafted between the bodies, beckoning her in that direction. With a handful of her skirt hitched up to prevent tripping, she stepped forward only to abruptly change her trajectory when she spied her father coming in from the patio.
Oh Lord, he can’t see me dressed like this! He’ll demand I change clothes.
Her steps quickened and the black-dyed ostrich feather she’d stuck into her updo bobbed with each stride. Couples swayed around her, moving in and out of her path. She cut a zigzag pattern through them, hoping her father hadn’t seen her before she’d run. She’d managed to clear the first room and edged into an adjoining parlor. Equally full of laughing, dancing couples, Audrey tried to force more oxygen into her lungs and kept up her quick pace. At the door, she risked a glance over her shoulder. When she didn’t catch sight of her father’s tall, lanky frame, she heaved a sigh and relaxed.
Putting a hand on her stomach, she turned and surveyed the room. Now the danger of being discovered in scandalous clothing had passed, her mind returned to the mission. Find a suitable man, drag him into a shadowy corner and have her wicked way with him.
She emitted an unladylike snort which caused a few matrons in the bunch to look askance at her. Audrey ignored them. As if I know how to begin a seduction let alone carry it through to the end. Her cheeks warmed at the thought and just as quickly, nervous churning began in her stomach. Was she about to make a fool of herself? And for what? A night of passion that she could remember for the rest of her life?
Was the hopeful payoff worth the risk?
As she debated, her gaze roamed the room until it rested on a man dressed all in black. He wore a black cloak lined with red and a flat, Spanish-style brimmed hat along with a black satin mask that obscured the upper portion of his face. Yet, in that one passing glance, she caught his eye and a connection between them was swift and immediate.
Excited butterflies took flight in her stomach, tickling every point internally in their haste to migrate. Foreign heat rushed between her thighs, slightly dampening her silken drawers as the man gave her a slow grin that promised much more than words ever could. Seconds later, he advanced toward her.
Audrey pressed a hand to a flaming cheek. Perhaps the risk wasn’t high enough.
Wanna learn more about me? Here’s where you can find me on the web:
Believing is Seeing blog: http://sandrasookoo.wordpress.com/
Still curious? One random commenter will receive a packet of book swag. Thanks for spending time with me today!
Chocolate Zucchini muffins
½ cup room temperature butter (1 stick)
½ cup canola oil
1 ¾ cups white sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup milk
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
2 cups peeled and finely grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325°. Line 2 standard muffin pans with papers. In a large bowl, mix butter, oil and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, VANILLA EXTRACT and milk mixed with vinegar (sour milk). Blend well. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, COCOA POWDER, baking soda, CINNAMON and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir by hand to combine. Add grated zucchini and half the chocolate chips and stir well. Spoon the batter evenly into the pans, filling each paper 2/3 full. Sprinkle the other half of the chocolate chips, on top and bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or they spring back when lightly touched (don’t touch the melted chocolate, though.)
Yield: 24 muffins.
Prep. time: 15 minutes.
Baking time: 20-25 minutes.