Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, Chocolate Tamales and some Bubbly…

ChristmasKitsch_500x750Logically I know that Amy doesn’t  ACTUALLY write her books for ONLY me…But she MIGHT AS WELL!  I loved this story. Totally and Completely. It’s a simple story really, and a familiar story to be sure. But it was so loving, and it was so warm. Rusty Baker is our narrator who tells us his story in the first person. Rusty is a high school senior, a jock, he’s not super deep, he’s got a kind heart, he was taught to be polite by his parents, he’s supposed to go to UC Berkeley in the fall to study something (pre-law has been “suggested” since his dad is a lawyer, and he’s meant to be his old man’s clone)…These are all facts, things that just happen to BE in Rusty’s life, not things he’s responsible for. He’s self-aware enough to understand his privileged life, to understand that all the stuff he has is supposed to make his life so much better than others who don’t live huge house or drive new cars. The thing is that stuff really doesn’t make anything better …The thing about his life he actually likes the most, the BEST thing, the one thing he got all on his own, it’s his friend Oliver. Oliver is different (brown, little, and from a very NOT privileged Latin family), not at all like his upper middle class friends who take everything for granted. Oliver is SO SMART, and funny. There is no frowning, EVER, when Oliver is around. Also, Oliver is gay, which you’d think would bother Rusty, but he doesn’t care! He’s never had someone like Oliver in his life.

These boys were so sweet, and THAT love. That all encompassing, grounding thing they had. I really had to think hard about what to make for this review…I toyed with the idea of cookies (you will know why when you read the book!), but I HAD to go with tamales. I’m LATIN! And the ritual that is tamale making during the holidays where a pivotal thing for Rusty, and his understanding of the kind of love he’d have with Oliver. SO! Tamales, Chocolate Tamales, that is…With a Vanilla Bourbon Pecan Crumble Filling that will make you want to cry, they are so DELICIOUS. For all this holiday goodness the only choice for a wine pairing was a bottle of BUBBLY…Jaume Serra Cristalino Extra Dry Cava Brut from Spain. It is my favorite affordable sparkling wine for drinking with extra luscious dessert. This wine is dry and fresh, so it cuts through the sweetness of the chocolate and buttery crumble. Delightful, and at $8.00 a bottle, a WINNER.

photo 3 (1)

Back to our  guys…Things are progressing fast for Rusty, high school is ending and he is doubled over by his parents expectations of him…They don’t SEE him. They want him to be someone he simply cannot be. College is like this impending doom looming in the horizon, and it’s scary. He knows in his heart his happiness lies in other things. He wishes he could tell his parents that the summer construction job with Oliver’s dad was like a revelation, that he wants simpler thing, maybe a job where he uses his hands and his body. A little house with dogs and people in it that love each other, that sounds like the best dream. Oliver too, he has to be in that life. Oliver is solid and there, and he makes Rusty feel grounded…He’s the best friend he’s ever had, until the day that Oliver challenges everything about their relationship and kisses him. And then, that’s when Rusty Baker starts to make sense to himself.

Once at Berkeley things go from bad to worse, the only thing keeping Rusty from totally losing it is the prospect of Thanksgiving break and seeing Oliver. He can barely keep his head above water with his studies, he’s so done with everything. He makes his decision when he gets home, he is going to come clean to his parents about who he really is, in all ways. Things come out (pun intended here) a lot more abruptly than he intends and he ends up getting kicked out of his home, and staying with Oliver’s family for the holidays. Rusty is adrift, cut off from his family so drastically, like he meant nothing to them, it hurts him deeply. He is not sure what will be of his life, but at the same time…It’s also what he’s always known to expect from his parents…What shakes him to the core though is  the brazen warmth with which Oliver’s family embraces him. To them this boy that their Oliver loves, MUST be OK, they will make sure of that. Rusty feels so undeserving of all this love and support, he just can’t accept it, they are too valuable and worthy, and he is to insignificant for even his parents to miss…Rusty struggles to let himself accept all that he is being offered…Even when his reluctance hurts Oliver, he hesitates. Oliver is a treasure, and Rusty has nothing to offer him , how can he possibly be enough? Oliver takes all that doubt Rusty has and fights it. Makes him see, that the ONLY thing that Oliver cannot live with, is not having Rusty in his life.

Amy Lane really outdoes herself with the interracial heroes, she has a real understanding of the things that are different about couples who come from such different cultural backgrounds.  The warmth that exists at the center of Latin families, but also the truth and honesty in all colors of families who ultimately, as much as they fuck up, still do want to see their children happy. The core of this story for me was the idea that there is not anything anyone can learn, know, or earn, to be deserving of the open love someone offers up to them…Rusty had to finally understand that the only thing he ever has to give Oliver was himself. All that other stuff they can take care of together.

Everything about this story was warmth, and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. The families and friends were wonderful. I loved Nicole, Rusty sister and Rex his college roommate HAS GOT TO HAVE his own story. What a wonderful character. Again, Amy Lane writes a story that to reads like something I know personally. Straight to my heart.

I cannot recommend this story enough, it is out today from Riptide publishing, and can be purchased here.

Chocolate Tamales with a Vanilla Bourbon Pecan Crumble Filling

For the masa:

  • 2 cups corn flour for tamales
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons (heaping) non-hydrogenated vegetable spread
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk, more if needed
  • 1 (6-ounce) package dry corn husks, moistened according to package directions
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup of raw pecans
  • 4 tablespoons of vegan buttery spread
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar or sucanat
  • 2 tablespoons on bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of organic vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips

Directions:

For the masa:

In a standing mixer with paddle attachment, place corn flour, salt and water and mix at high speed to prepare the batter. Scrape bowl halfway through and continue mixing until well combined. Remove batter from bowl, form it into a ball, divide it in three parts and set aside. Wipe out the mixer bowl. Add the butter and vegetable spread to the bowl and mix at high speed until fluffy and light, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Separately put the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute, stir it at 30 seconds and add to the mix  once its cool. Add vanilla, cinnamon and sugar, then add the reserved corn flour batter in three parts with a third of the milk and the chocolate following each addition. Continue mixing well for another 3 minutes.Add some extra milk if the batter seems dry. It will be very sticky when it is ready.

photo 3

For the filling:

In a skillet put in the pecans and heat for about five minutes at medium heat, moving them around, so they don’t burn. Put the pecans aside and then add the buttery spread to the pan, sautee for a minute until melted then add the sugar, vanilla and bourbon, stir until it looks like caramel and then add the pecans. Cook for another 3-4 minutes stirring constantly. When the mix is thick like caramel remove from heat and let cool for 15-20 minutes. Once its cooled scrape the mix of the pan and place in the food processor, add the maple syrup and pulse until the mixture is coarsely ground uniformly.

photo 2 (1)

photo 1 (1)

Making the tamales:

Fill the bottom of a steamer with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. To assemble the tamales, place one moistened triangular-shaped corn husk on a work surface with the base of the triangle closest to you. Using a soup spoon, scoop about 2 ounces of batter and place it on the bottom center of the husk (close to the base but about half an inch away from the edge). With the back of your spoon, make a small flat indentation in the middle of the batter and place about two teaspoons of the crumble and a pinch of the mini chocolate chips in the indentation. Now it is ready to be folded (you do not need to cover the chocolate chips with more batter). Fold the right side of the husk over the filling, then fold the left side up and over, enclosing the filling but without pressing too much. Now flip the top of the triangle over to close the tamale. Tie both ends of the tamale with string. Place the the steamer rack standing up. Repeat with the rest of the filling and stack all tamales together on the steamer rack so they stay together. This will keep them from opening up while cooking. Once they are all in the steamer bring water to a boil, cover and steam for 45 minutes.

photo 2 (2)

Check the steamer occasionally to make sure there is enough water in it. To check if the tamales are cooked through, open one to see if the filling is fluffy and no longer stick to the sides of the husk. Serve the tamales with vanilla ice cream and a bit of hot fudge and ENJOY.

I do hope you guys try this recipe it is delicious and a holiday treat, with the bubbly and this wonderful Christmas story, I guarantee an amazing evening!

Cheers, Happy Reading and A Lovely Holiday Season!

Laura

Let It Snow Blog Tour Stop: Heidi and I Prepared a Lovely Holiday Recipe…Vegan Pot Pies!

let it snowHello All! Today I have a super special post for you guys! As part of the blog tour for her new Christmas story Heidi offered to make a holiday recipe with me.  Yep, the lovely Ms. Heidi Cullinan, Gay Romance Author Extraordinaire, and fellow Vegan Life enthusiast and I made some delicious pies for her snowed in bears and her Goldilocks. If you guys read my review yesterday, you already know that I LOVED this story, AND that most of it happens while the main characters are stuck in a cabin during a snowstorm…What better food comfort food for a snow filled day than hearty, yummy pot pies?

Heidi was kind enough to look for the recipe herself, and found a delicious Vegan and Gluten Free recipe for Veggie Pot Pies at the Fork & Beans food blog. She and I agreed on a time and day to do some baking and made our pies. Below is the recipe that we used, I also included a few suggestions from both Heidi and I on the recipe as well as photos of the cooking process and a few of some of us eating our pies.

Vegetable Pot Pie “Cupcakes” Recipe

Makes 12 mini or 4 full-sized ramekin pot pies

INGREDIENTS

For the pie crust:

  • 1 c. superfine brown rice flour
  • 1 c. sorghum flour
  • 1/2 c. arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 c. potato starch
  • OR use 3 c. regular flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 c. shortening
  • 2/3 c. ice water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine flours, salt and baking powder in a large bowl until mixed thoroughly.
  2. Add shortening and stir until it is mixed into flour. You might need to get those fingers dirty and mix with your hands.
  3. Add the ice water in 1/3 c. at a time. You want it to just combine into the dough in order to make it stick together.
  4. Form into a ball. Divide into 4 balls. Flatten, cover and chill while you prepare the filling.

Heidi and I made these for our families on Monday night, we had a remote baking date from Iowa to Upstate New York.  We had a great time , we did photos updates and  there was a lot of commentary from the parties involved. In the end our fams LOVED the pot pies, even our kids gobbled them up!

Now this recipe is a bit tricky, because it is a gluten free dough. It needs a lot of attention to the proportions and preparation details, because it can get really dry easily, and then it gets SUPER crumbly. Heidi has some really great tips, and pics to show how she got hers to cooperate.  Here is what she did for the dough:

Dough ready to knead. Pic from Heidi.

Dough ready to knead. Pic from Heidi.

Okay, so, first off, I had the dough. I sifted it all together, and added my shortening, and my water… and THIS is with an extra 1/3 cup. I added another 1/3 after that.
Dough divided into balls. Pic from HC.

Dough divided into balls. Pic from HC.

Eventually I wrangled it into the balls, and here they are, ready to chill out in the fridge.

IMG_1641

Troublesome dough.

I rolled out the dough. Or, tried to.
 
DUDE. This was crumb city. Even if I could get it into a kind of circle to transfer over, this is what it did when I tried to put it into the pan. Eventually I just hacked off what seemed to be the right amount, folded it in, and pushed it into place.
Cute little cupcakes ready for the oven. Pic from Heidi.

Cute little cupcakes ready for the oven. Pic from Heidi.

Eventually I just hacked off what seemed to be the right amount, folded it in, and pushed it into place.
 
I did have better luck with the tops. I had probably three tops-worth leftover, so I worry them will be a bit thin. Here they are, ready to go in the oven. I dusted them with grape seed oil, though, because I am almost out of olive.

Eventually the dough did cooperate and Heidi got them to behave in their pans, thoughts of getting Frankie to kibosh the gluten idea apparently were considered, but in the end the lady prevailed!

 

For the filling:

  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs Earth Balance margarine
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 c. gf flour (you can just use brown rice flour)
  • 1/4 c. non-dairy milk
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn
  • 1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

DIRECTIONS

  1. First, allow the bay leaf to infuse into the vegetable broth by simmering the 2 together in a small saucepan.
  2. Saute your onions in the butter. Allow to sit for a good 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add paprika, thyme and flour into the onions. Stir until well mixed. Cook for 5 minutes. Add milk.
  4. Take the vegetable broth (bay leaf discarded) and add into the onions mix; along with the remainder of the ingredients (carrots, peas and beans).  Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Roll out the dough in individual pieces by using wax paper on each side. It might help to use a 3″ cookie cutter to cut out dough and *gently* place into a greased muffin tin. If the dough rips (it probably will), do not freak out. Using your fingers, gently push it back together.
  7. Place the filling into muffin tins up to the top. Place a piece of the dough on top and gently seal the edges together by pinching it with your fingers.
  8. Take a knife and place a few slits through the top. Brush with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes or until top has browned.

Curried Pie Filling.

I got pretty lucky with the dough, and it was pretty easy to handle. For the filling I made a few adjustments, which I thought  worked out really well.  First, I doubled the amount of paprika, and added two tablespoons of sweet curry powder (I used Penzeys Spices Curry) to the onions, while I was sauteing them. The curry taste gave the filling a real nice flavor.

Happy Little Pies.

Happy Little Pies.

 I had some filling, left over that I think would go great with some white rice, maybe with a some steamed tofu chunks perhaps. Second, I added a tablespoon of cornstarch at the end, because I felt it was too thin.

Chow Time!

Chow Time!

The Pot Pie making was a huge success…I wrote Heidi to tell her my family loved them and by the time it was all said and done, my husband wolfed down four of them and my munchkin was a happy camper…On Heidi’s Homestead the results were…“They turned out great here too! Worried how they’d come out of the pan, but with a mini and regular rubber spatula, they were a breeze. (Probably also helped that I liberally used shortening in the pan.) Held together well enough we could actually eat them like cupcakes. They didn’t want to brown, which was odd, but they sure tasted great. Even Anna liked them, which was kind of amazing”.

Well that’s all for me today folks! Thanks to Heidi for the recipe, the photos, the baking tips and the fun times. I hope we can cook together soon! I leave you with some of the photos of us enjoying the fruits of our labors.

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura

Heidi's Baby Girl with her pie! She looks happy!  :)

Heidi’s Baby Girl with her pie! 🙂 

Dan loved the pies...Word on the street, is that he got stuck with dirty dish duty...

Dan loved the pies…Word on the street, is that he got stuck with dirty dish duty…

That crazy look in my eye just means...I LOVE PIE!

That crazy look in my eye just means…I LOVE PIE!

Early Review: Let Is Snow by Heidi Cullinan a Lovely Green Salad with Strawberry, Avocado and Poppy Seed Vinaigrette and a bold red.

let it snowI’m just going to put it out there, the burly bearish older man with an effeminate flamboyant younger man trope works on me LIKE A CHARM. I love the dynamics that can come from this type of love story. The older, more jaded man, finally finding someone that deserves his devotion, someone who brings out in him all the tenderness he’s forgotten he has to give. And then that younger man finding someone who cherishes him JUST THE WAY HE IS…That makes all those things that everyone branded as wrong in him, exactly the things that make him even more precious to his lover. THAT place, the place of acceptance, of seeing in the person you love that vulnerability and treasuring it, making that very “weakness” the place of strength where to grow your love, THAT place is where Heidi Cullinan brings it like no other author for me in this genre. This story charmed me. How could it not, with that cozy little cabin in the woods, and the three cranky bears who end up with a very reluctant Goldilocks?!

For the food this book is getting two posts. This first one with my review, has the  wine pairing and a recipe for a lovely salad which will serve as a yummy side to an AWESOME recipe for Vegan and Gluten Free Pot Pies, which will be up tomorrow as part of Heidi’s Blog Tour. For the wine, I chose a  the 2011 Flaco Tempranillo   from Spain.  You will NEVER pay more than $8.00 for a bottle of this wine, it’s tasty and rich every time. It’s got a little vanilla, a little spice, and a little pepper, which means it’s always good for the table. When in doubt, go with a Tempranillo. So, Tempranillo and a Greens, Avocado and Strawberry Salad with a Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (this I made special for Frankie) is the food and wine today. Now back to the story.

flacoLike I mentioned this book has three bears, and this story  is all about the Papa Bear and his Golden boy. Marcus was a high powered lawyer in Minneapolis, but a failed relationship and disillusionment with his fast paced, ambition driven career made him give it all up. Now’s he’s back living  in Logan, Minnesota where he grew up, staying in a cabin with his two best friends, Paul and Arthur. Frankie is a young man working as a hairdresser in the Twin Cities, things are not terrible, but they are not great either, and on his way back home from Thanksgiving at his parent’s place, he drives his car into a snow bank in the middle of an ice storm, and ends up stuck in the middle of nowhere town of Logan, Minnesota.

Poor Frankie leaves his car behind, and starts walking until he ends up in a cabin, where he has no choice but to hunker down until the storm passes. He’s a little trepidatious, his earlier stop in a local cafe kind of scared  him. The men in this town seemed a bit menacing. But he goes into the cabin anyway he doesn’t really have a choice….Just so happens the cabin is inhabited by three very bearish bears *whimpers*, actually the same guys from the cafe. And at least one of them is looking at Frankie like he’d love to eat him up as a midnight snack…Things could get interesting…

What I loved about this story was that both Marcus and Frankie had so much baggage, but they still were able to give into that gut feeling that hey had found something special. They both were scared of getting hurt, Marcus of getting his heart broken again, and Frankie of all the ways people could hurt him for being who he was. Marcus scared Frankie, he seemed like the kind of man who carried chip on his shoulder for having to be put in the same category as guys like Frankie. Frankie scared Marcus, because he reminded him of all the things he wanted, but knew he could not have. They started a stand off. Marcus was growly, but sort of protective and cared for Frankie’s needs as much as possible. That just made Frankie confused, Marcus seemed to hate him, yet he went out of his way to make sure he was faring in the crowded cabin.

Frankie simply was HOT for Marcus, and sharing that small pull out couch was not helping matters, specially with the free BDSM porn audio show they got every night from Arthur and Paul up in the loft. Marcus on his side of the bed not faring any better…They just could not communicate, Marcus refused to talk, and it was driving Frankie CRAZY!!! Until he finally lost it and made Marcus come out with how he really felt…Things got sexy pretty quickly after that, their connection grew strong and intense. They had something special, something REAL. However there was actual REALITY, Frankie couldn’t live in a small town where he would have to live with slurs and hatefulness, and Marcus could not face life in a big city. There was nothing to do but take advantage of the time they had together during the storm…After that they had to say goodbye.

salad and let it snow

Total Holiday Comfort

One of the things I liked the most about this story was how it embraced that reckless optimism we feel around the holidays, the sense that we can really get our very best wish to come true…That we can make a difference in small ways, and big  ways and that those things that we never would dare to hope can actually be within our grasp.

I loved Frankie and his fabulosity sweeping through the elderly of Logan one awesome hairdo at a time. Loved how the town banded together to help those who were hit worst during the storm, and loved how just by being who they were Marcus and Frankie made each other strong enough to reach for their happy ending.

Heartwarming and delightful…And of course very very sexy.

I’m very much looking forward to more Minnesota Snow Stories.

Let is Snow will be released November 26th, from Samhain Publishing, and is available for pre-order here.

Now here is the recipe…Fast, easy, and yummy!

Sweet, tart, creamy and delicious.

Sweet, tart, creamy and delicious.

Greens, Strawberry and Avocado Salad with a Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

1 cup of romaine lettuce chopped

2 cups of mixed greens

1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries

1 avocado sliced

For Vanaigrette:

1/2 tablespoon of poppy seed

1/2 tablespoon of agave nectar

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon no-salt salad seasoning (I used Penzey’s Spices Greek Seasoning, but Mrs. Dash or something similar works too)

3 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Mix greens, avocado and strawberries in a large bowl (if you are not vegan 1/3 of a cup of feta cheese goes nicely in this salad). Separately in a small plastic container with a good sealable lid put all the vinaigrette ingredients, with oil going last. Close the lid, shake vigorously until well blended. Taste and then pour onto the salad and toss until everything is well coated with the dressing.

Hope you enjoy the book, and yummy salad!

Come back tomorrow to read about Heidi and my pot pie baking date, for the recipe and some lovely pics of us eating pie!

Cheers and happy reading!

Laura

How I Met Your Father by LB Gregg, Butternut Squash & Mushroom Empanadas with Cilantro Pesto Dipping Sauce and a California Chardonnay.

18591051Well folks the Holiday Season in the M/M Universe is off to a GREAT start for me! “How I Met Your Father” by LB Gregg was a perfect way to get me in the mood for the season. First of all, it had been a long while since we had anything new from Ms. Gregg. Her brand of humor is unique in this genre, and I for one am super glad to see her name back in my kindle. This story is part of the Home for the Holidays collection coming out from Riptide Publishing this and next month. The anthology will  have stories from what I can only catalog as a heavy All-Star group of ladies, the likes of Ally Blue, Z.A. Maxfield and my beloved Amy Lane.

This story was so funny. I mean HILARIOUS. I could not stop laughing. I don’t even know what it was, it just hit my funny bone. Just from the title I was expecting comedy, something a little edgy, a little silly, a little gross, but hilarious nonetheless. The kind of story that is more about getting the laugh, than about taking itself too seriously…Campy, and it TOTALLY was that. I loved the humor, and in the process really got to like the characters.

The setting for this story is Nevis island in the Carribean (West Indies specifically). I’m an island girl myself, hailing from Dominican Republic. So for my recipe I wanted to make something that was festive, and also with ingredients common to this season.  I made a staple island “celebration food”, empanadas. Empandas sre a kind of pastry that looks a lot like a turnover, and can be filled with pretty much anything. For today I made a roasted butternut squash and mushroom filling, with a bit of cilantro pesto on the side for dipping the empanadas. I can only say they came out AMAZING. For the wine pairing I chose a 2011 Chardonnay from Butterfield Station Winery in California which is the perfect match for the fresh tastes in the empanadas. This wine has a nice fruity taste, with some vanilla undertones, perfect with the squash’s buttery taste. Also it has no oakiness, which I particularly dislike in Chardonnays. For about $8.00, what’s not to love?! Now that we have food and drink on the table, on to the story!

emp5

Justin Hayes is on a plane to Miami, on his way to his friend’s wedding in the Caribbean.  He is STRESSED OUT. Between the turbulence, and the nerves of missing his connection, and the impassiveness of the hot guy next to him (who seems to not notice that the plane is about to go DOWN!!!!), he is cursing himself for not taking that Ambien at the beginning of the flight. Here’s the thing…Justin is on his way to St. Kitt & Nevis to serve as best man at a wedding. Justin used  to be part of an all boy band named Rhythm Method and Chuck  one of his band mates, and best friend, is getting married. All the guys will be there, it’ll be kind of a reunion, for the four of them. The wedding seems to be planned pretty much on the fly, but Chuck sounds happy, and it’s always good to see the guys, they are the closest thing to family he’s ever had. Now, if he could only make it out  of the flight with his life, that would be awesome. He’s wound up, and barely notices when the giant hot blond man next to him grabs, his hand and starts soothing him?…Ummm what the hell? The kicker is it actually helps! His strong presence is like a balm to his soul…Except the whole thing freaks Justin out, AND turns him on at the same time! Where is all this groping coming from?! I mean did this guy recognize him?! If he did why is he touching him?! Because the world at large has NO CLUE Justin is gay, he made DAMN SURE of that…His sexuality was always under wraps. He never let his preferences be a reason for the band’s reputation to suffer in any way.

So, the guys is rubbing away, and despite himself Justin is INTO IT, like “I just got a boner in a potential life-and death situation” kind of way and now he’s pissed. Who does this guy even think he is?! As soon as that damn plane landed he jumped out of his seat and got out of there as fast as his legs could take him…Except the hot blonde god comes after him, and right in the airport family friendly restroom, shows Justin just how good those hands could feel, ALL OVER his body. After the quick and dirty airport sexual encounter they each went their own way…Hopefully  one would be the wiser…Yeaaaahhhh right….Fast forward to Justin’s arrival in Nevis, and his happy discovery that Mr. Golden God himself is none other than his best friend’s future father-in-law…So yeah things get a little tense…In every sense of the word. Jack (Blond God) is not making it easy for Justin, he’s not giving up on the obvious attraction they share, and Justin just cannot shed his crazy neurosis of being in the closet. Even though these days he isn’t really in the limelight. Jack is like the man of his dreams and obviously wants him, he makes it VERY clear. Justin must finally give up all that baggage, and stop using his old life as an excuse not to actually have a future with someone. All kinds of shenanigans ensue, and Chuck’s walk to the altar is filled with laughs and unseemly situations, and Jack and Justin, despite many interruptions, and a couple near death experiences, manage to make a go of things in the end.

I had a fabulous time reading this story. I loved every minute of it, and there was not a five minute period where I wasn’t laughing my ass off…It was like some sort of National Lampoon’s meets UK based Holiday Rom Com…The interactions between Justin and his band mates Chuck, Matt and TJ were for no better word irreverently politically incorrect and they were FABULOUS. These guys clearly loved each other like brothers, but that did not keep them from giving each other a hard time. The sexual jokes alone made me practically roll on the floor laughing.These boys did not pull punches with the puns. This was just a fun fun story, which to be honest was light on the romance, but in the end it did not make a difference for me…I was happy enough with how things worked out, since the story for me was a lot more about campy goodness than anything else. That being said, I got a pretty sweet and neat happy ending regardless, which in Christmas story is kind of what I want to see anyway. After all who doesn’t love a good boy band holyday rom com?!

Totally recommend.

How I Met Your Father is out today on Riptide Publishing and can be pruchased here.

Now for the food. Folks this is some delicious grub, a FOR SURE hit if you bring to any parties this holiday season.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Empanadas

2 Packets of Goya Turnover Dough (You can find these in pretty much any Latin Food section freezer) or 2 Pie Crusts

1/4 cup of water

1 cup of vegetable oil

For the filling:

3 cups of butternut squash peeled and cubed

6 cloves of garlic minced

1 small yellow onion chopped

1 1/2 cups of mushrooms chooped (I used Baby Bellas)

1 Tablespoon of fresh oregano

1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast (optional)

4 Tablespoons of extra vrigin olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven at 400F. Take the butternut squash half of the garlic, 2 TB of olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste and toss with the squash. After the squash is tossed well, place on a lined cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes flipping it once. Separately in a skillet, put the rest of the oil and sautee onions stirring until the soften, add mushrooms and sautee until they soften, about five minutes at medium heat. If they get dry at a little bit of water. Add the roasted squash to the mix and stir until the squash is mashed a  bit. After the filling is done time to make your empanadas. If you are using the pie crusts roll them out until they are about 1/8 of an inch thick and use a saucer to make cut out about 4 inch diameter discs. On one half of the disc put on about 1 1/3 tablespoon of filling. Dip your finger in the water, and run it over the edge of the pastry disc. Fold over the the disc and make indentations all along the edge until the pastry is sealed. Once your empanadas are done. Heat oil in a large skillet and fry the empanadas. They should cook for about a minute on each side or until the look golden. Transfer to plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Empanada filling.

Empanada filling.

Fold over and then seal.

Cilantro Pesto Dipping Sauce

1 cup of fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon of raw almonds

juice of half a lime

1 clove of garlic minced

1/3 cup of extra olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Put all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until they have pesto consistency. Adjust salt and pepper if neeeded or add oil if necessary.

Pour a bit on a small dish and add to your empanadas…Enjoy with a glass of chilled Chardonnay while reading this delightful Christmas story in the tropics!

The Finished Product. YUMMM!! These go FAST!

The Finished Product. YUMMM!! These go FAST!

Alright ladies and gents that is all for me today. Stay tuned this week, because I will have a post with an AMAZING Vegan Sticky Toffee Pudding and Ms. Heidi Cullinan will be visiting and making veggie pot pies with me this Thursday on her Let It Snow blog tour! Yay!!

Cheers and Happy Reading!

Laura