Dream Dishes: Elle Brownlee’s Cinnamon Rolls with Browned Butter Caramel Glaze

November 30, 2015

The main dough recipe is from an old favorite shared among my family. It’s our tradition to make at least two batches of these every Thanksgiving Morning. What a delightful way to wake the household—with the aromas of fresh baking bread and sweet cinnamon! My addition is the glaze; frost still-warm rolls for a melted-down effect or serve on the side in pretty ramekins.

Rolls have good, solid body and satisfying chew without being tough. And they’re sweet but not cloying or too rich, making a just-right start to a day filled with eating. Pair with a fruit salad and bacon (because there can never be too much bacon). While writing Emergency Contact, this recipe was constantly on my mind as a goodie I knew for sure Garrett baked and would become (one of) Liam’s favorite! ☺

This basic sweet dough recipe is quite versatile and makes a wonderful base for many treats. Additionally, the dough can be made ahead of time and chilled for next-day baking or frozen for later use.

Enjoy! And Happy Holidays everyone!



2 packages dry yeast
¼ c warm water
1 c milk, warmed
½ c sugar
2 tsp salt
8 Tbs (1 stick) butter
3 eggs at room temp
5 ¼ c to 5 ¾ c all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Roll Filling

6 Tbs (¾ stick) melted butter (brush on dough)
Combine these three ingredients:
1 c brown sugar
½ c chopped nuts – if desired
½ c currants or raisins – if desired


3 Tbs butter
¼ c brown sugar
1 package cream cheese
(Toast brown sugar and butter in a sautee pan. Blend into cream cheese while still warm.)


In a small bowl sprinkle yeast over the warm water. Let stand until dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Mix milk, sugar, salt, butter, and eggs in a large bowl, and beat well. Add dissolved yeast. Next add 2 ½ cups of the flour, and beat until smooth and well blended. Add 2 ½ cups more flour and beat until the dough holds together in a rough, shaggy mass.

Scrape dough onto lightly floured surface and knead a minute or two, then let rest for 10 minutes.

Knead 8-10 minutes more until smooth and elastic. While kneading if the dough sticks to your hands, sprinkle on a little more flour. Form a loose ball with the dough and place in a greased bowl then cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside in a warm place and allow the dough to rise until double in bulk.

Once doubled, punch the dough down (great stress reliever! ;D).

Roll dough onto a floured surface into a rectangle about 32×12” and 1/3” thick. Brush the surface with melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon roll filling over the buttered dough then gently press down with your fingers. Beginning with a long end, roll the dough up like a jelly roll, then cut into pieces about 1 1/4” wide. It will make about 24 slices.

Place slices in a greased pan, cut sides down (so the swirls are exposed rather than tucked in together). The slices should be gently pressed into the pan so they just touch one another. Cover and let rise until puffy, swollen, and double in bulk.

Bake in a preheated 375d oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown on top.


Find me all over the web and talk food, tea, romance, whatever you fancy!

Website http://www.ellebrownlee.com/

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Dream Dishes: Grace R. Duncan’s Sand Tarts

November 27, 2015


One of my absolute favorite recipes of all time is one of the simplest I’ve ever learned, though it takes a bit to put together. It’s been in my family for generations, handed down mostly verbally. In fact, even in this day and age of technology, my own daughter knows the recipe by heart.

When I was a kid, I made these cookies with my mom every year, without fail. They take some work, despite their simplicity, because they’re rolled out. For someone who might have some physical limitations, it can be quite a challenge.  But they’re definitely fun to make and taste amazing!

My favorite part of the whole thing was decorating the cookies. We brush a little bit of beaten egg onto the top with a pastry brush, then put colored sugar or other sprinkles on top. I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to get the decorations just right. I’d add more than one color, sometimes trying to make the candy cane shaped ones look like a candy cane or the Christmas tree ones green with dots of ornaments on them. I drove my mother completely nuts sometimes, and always ended up with a billion colors all over myself. I remember spending more than one evening after in the bathtub!


The recipe itself is really versatile too. It’s easily doubled or tripled (though not halved because of the odd number of eggs), and depending on how the dough is rolled out, they can either be crispy or soft. I prefer them soft, myself, but I love them no matter how they come out. I hope you have a chance to try them and enjoy them as well!

Thanks for reading!


Sand Tarts

Prep time: 15 minutes  Refrigeration: 2 hours  Baking time: 10 minutes
Makes about four dozen cookies.



1 cup margarine (softened makes it a lot easier to work with)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
4 cups flour

1 egg
colored sugar or sprinkles for decorating



  1. Cream butter and sugar together.

  2. Add eggs and mix well.

  3. Add flour, one cup at a time until dough pulls away from the sides. Pat into loaf and wrap with plastic wrap or place sections in ziploc bags. Refrigerate minimum of 2 hours.

  4. Roll out dough on floured surface. Cut into shapes.

  5. Brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles.

  6. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden.


For more from Grace, check her out here:
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Dream Dishes: Andrew Grey’s Thanksgiving Corn Pudding

November 24, 2015

A Thanksgiving Recipe from Andrew and Dominic


Dominic spent many years working as a pastry chef, so to say he’s talented in the kitchen is an understatement.  He has recipes for many different wonderful things ranging from cookies he’s developed himself to cheesecakes that will cross your eyes.  (The cookie recipe he keeps under lock and key. They’re cherry brandy cookies and he only makes them at Christmas.  My mother tries to steal every one of them she can.)  However I asked him for a possible Thanksgiving recipe and he pulled out one of my favorites.   Its corn pudding.  OMG.  I love the stuff.  For years it was either cornbread or a bowl of corn on the table until Dominic discovered this dish at a potluck, deconstructed it, and developed his own recipe.   I twisted his arm, well actually I just leaned down and gave him a kiss and he sent me the recipe.

Both Dominic and I had very traditional Thanksgivings growing up.  There are some of his mother’s recipes that we have every year, especially her pies.  Unfortunately many my family’s Thanksgiving recipes haven’t stood the test of time.  But that’s okay, he and I are fine with building our own traditions and memories.  I think it’s one of the things we’re good at.

Happy Thanksgiving all!  I hope it’s the best ever for you!


4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 (17-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen sweet corn, thawed
3 eggs, beaten


  1. Melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat.

  2. Add flour, sugar, and salt, stirring until smooth (it will form a heavy roux).

  3. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

  4. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly.

  5. Remove from heat, and stir in cream-style corn and sweet corn.

  6. Add beaten eggs to corn mixture, stirring constantly.

  7. Pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour until just barely set.


Optional Additions (add after step 6, above):

If desired, omit the 1 tablespoon sugar and add the following:

- Additional 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Ground white or black pepper to taste (1/2 teaspoon)
- 2 tablespoons finely minced shallot or scallions
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives

Other possible additions:

- Diced canned green chilies or roasted red peppers
- 1 cup grated cheese (such as yellow or white sharp cheddar, or jack cheese)

Ronnie’s Car

November 23, 2015

I thought I’d post a picture of one of Ronnie’s cars.    This is one of his Lamborghinis.



Eyes Only For Me – Excerpt.

November 23, 2015



For years, Clayton Potter’s been friends and workout partners with Ronnie. Though Clay is attracted, he’s never come on to Ronnie because, let’s face it, Ronnie only dates women.

When Clay’s father suffers a heart attack, Ronnie, having recently lost his dad, springs into action, driving Clay to the hospital over a hundred miles away. To stay close to Clay’s father, the men share a hotel room near the hospital, but after an emotional day, one thing leads to another, and straight-as-an-arrow Ronnie make a proposal that knocks Clay’s socks off! Just a little something to take the edge off.

Clay responds in a way he’s never considered. After an amazing night together, Clay expects Ronnie to ignore what happened between them and go back to his old life. Ronnie surprises him and seems interested in additional exploration. Though they’re friends, Clay suddenly finds it hard to accept the new Ronnie and suspects that Ronnie will return to his old ways. Maybe they both have a thing or two to learn.

Purchase a copy:



I changed in the locker room while Ronnie talked to everyone. His big personality was back, and it was good to see. After filling my water bottle, I went up to the mezzanine to the treadmills. I got on one, dropped my phone into one of the cup holders, then started the machine and began my workout. I had a good view of the workout floor, so I watched as the others went through their routines, talking constantly as they did. A few times I saw Ronnie glance up, making the occasional rude gesture and then grinning like a naughty child. I was about to give him one back when my phone rang. I picked it up and answered it.

“Is this Clayton Potter?” I heard a strange voice ask.

“Yes, it is,” I answered, figuring this was some sort of telemarketing call. I made a mental note to check the do-not-call lists.

“I’m Dr. Greenway down at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Your father listed you as next of kin. He was brought in earlier today. I’m afraid he’s had as many as three strokes in the past few hours.”

Hearing the word stroke, I forgot what I was doing or where I was. The machine kept working even as I stopped, and it pushed me off the back. I stumbled and managed to keep from crashing to the floor but ended up in a heap nonetheless as my legs gave out.

“Mr. Potter, are you all right?”

“I don’t know” was the only answer I could form. My head buzzed and my ears rang, hands and legs tingling. “How is he now?”

“Howard is stable at the moment, but he’s slipped into a coma. Part of it is the body’s way of protecting itself. We need to run some more tests to determine the cause of the strokes, and then we may need to perform surgery to try to correct the blockage in his neck. Is it possible for you to get here? We will need permission to perform the surgery. I can do emergency surgery without it, but I would prefer we time this as best we can.”

“Yes. I’ll see about leaving as soon as I can.” I stared at the phone, sitting on the floor while other people began gathering around me. I scanned the faces, people I didn’t know all asking questions that didn’t seem to register. Then Ronnie pushed his way in, and I took a deep breath as the fog over my mind lifted somewhat.

“What happened?”

“It’s my dad,” I told him. Those words galvanized Ronnie into action. He helped me to my feet and grabbed my things from the machine before turning it off.

“What happened to him?” Ronnie asked.

“Stroke,” I answered. “Got to get to Johns Hopkins.”

Ronnie stared into my eyes. “You can’t drive. Not like this.” Even as he said the words, he was already leading me down the steps and toward the locker room. “Change your clothes.” He left me in front of my locker, and I stared at it, forcing my hands to work. I pulled off my gym clothes and got back into the regular ones. By the time I was done, Ronnie was dressed.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“My dad was at Hopkins,” Ronnie told me, and then he snatched up my bag and took me by the arm. My head was clearing, and the feeling was returning in my arms and legs, but I still felt shaky on my feet. He half propelled me toward the door, stopped at the desk briefly, and then we continued outside.

“My car is over there,” I said, but Ronnie guided me to his and somehow managed to get both gym bags in the tiny trunk of the Lamborghini.

“I’m taking you down.” He unlocked the car and lifted the door upward. It felt like I was still almost on the ground once I got in. Ronnie pushed the door down to close it and came around to the driver’s side. As soon as he got in, he started the engine, which roared to life, and within minutes we were out of the lot and entering the freeway.

“You don’t have to do this,” I said, a little belatedly, though I was pleased he thought enough of me to take this much care. Ronnie and I were friends, but he was a very busy man whose time was extremely valuable.

“Of course I do.” Ronnie reached over and patted my leg a few times, then returned his hand to the wheel. “When my dad was in the hospital, you came in all the time, talked to him and Mom.” Ronnie’s voice faltered for a few seconds. “She told me how you used to sit with her and just listen while she spouted all kinds of crap. Her words. She said she needed someone to talk with, and you were there.” Ronnie continued driving as I stared out the window. I’d made the drive from Harrisburg to Baltimore more times than I could count. It had been just my dad and me for a long time.

Welcome to the Eyes Only for Me Release Party

November 23, 2015

Good morning!  I’m Andrew Grey and I’ll be hosting the release party for Eyes Only For Me for much of the day right here at the Dreamspinner Blog.  So ask a question, comment all you want.  But especially on this post because I’ll choose one commenter to win the Andrew Grey story of the choice.    So let’s get this party started!!!!


Dream Dishes: Diane Adams’s Tostadas and Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

November 22, 2015

With the holidays looming and our schedules becoming increasingly hectic it’s nice to have something quick and healthy to fix for dinner. I’d like to share a couple of recipes that are favorites at my house. These are my personal recipes and I’ve never tried to share them before so be gentle!

This first one I made up on the fly one night when I needed something quick. What a surprise that the kids love it! I hope you do too.


Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

 pasta plated


 prv ingredients 



  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with foil. Use a single sheet and fit it to the bottom and sides of the pan. Be careful not to tear it. Oil it with some olive oil (or oil of choice).

  2. Wash, slice all vegetables except the tomatoes and garlic. Pile them on the foil lined sheet pan include the whole tomatoes. Crush the garlic cloves over the top. Use more or less garlic to your personal taste. Salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Place in oven on center rack. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Keep an eye on it and take it out when the vegetables are roasted to your taste. Cook pasta according to package directions while vegetables are roasting.

  1. Dump the vegetables on top of the cooked pasta. Make sure you get all the juice in the pot too, you don’t want dry noodles! Toss the vegetables and pasta to combine. and that’s it! Enjoy!!!

pasta plated

  1. This recipe is super adaptable. I’ve made it with Italian sausage and asparagus. Feel free to add cheese, though as much as I love cheese I prefer this dish without. Since I made up this recipe myself, the instructions are not professional. If you have any questions, please leave them in comments and I’ll do my best to answer.


And now…Tostadas!

I didn’t make up tostadas (obviously), but here is how I fix them at home. You’ll notice there’s not much (any) heat in my recipes. I’m not one for a lot of spice, but I’ve nothing against you adding as much as you like.




  1. Roast one small chicken (about 3 or 4 lbs) or use a rotisserie chicken. Let the chicken cool and bone it. Shred the meat.

  2. Chop the peppers and dice the onion. Sauté the onion until soft. Add the peppers continue to cook until fragrant. Add the shredded chicken and Fajita sauce. Cook over medium low heat until heated through. Allow to simmer while you heat the refried beans. If the beans are very thick you can thin them slightly with chicken broth.

  3. Spread a tostada with refried beans, a couple tablespoons. Spread sour cream over the refried beans, add the chicken mixture (don’t over load the tostada!) and then toppings of choice.

  1. That’s it! Yummy tostadas ready to eat. As you can see my choice of toppings doesn’t include lettuce (icky, icky lettuce, boo!) I think some black olives might be a welcome addition next time.


They aren’t beautiful but they are delicious! I usually have sweet tea with my dinner; which will come as no surprise to those who know me.  I also have a collection of really cute cups which makes drinking my tea fun.

Please let me know if you try the recipes! I’ll be happy to answer questions. I hope you enjoy!


Website: www.dianeadams.virtualdelusions.com

Twitter: @d_adams

Facebook: Diane Adams


Dream Dishes: Karen Stivali’s Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Bites with Maple Glaze

November 20, 2015

Cooking for friends and family is one of my favorite things, not just at the holidays, but all year round. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid and have a collection of handwritten, tried-and-true recipes in a well-worn three ring binder. Growing up with one Jewish grandmother and one Italian Catholic grandmother, food held a very significant place in my life and sharing it with people was a way of bonding and creating powerful sensory-filled memories. That’s a big part of what’s made eating and cooking an important facet of my life and it’s also why mentions of food work their way into every one of my books.

When I tried this appetizer recipe for a party, it was the first platter to be emptied. It combines some of my favorite things (maple syrup, bacon, cinnamon, sweet potatoes) and it’s naturally gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free and grain free so it’s suitable for people with a wide range of food allergies. Also—YUM. Enjoy! And if you’d like to try out some of my other recipes, check out the recipe section on my blog.

~ ~ ~

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potato Bites with Maple Drizzle

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size cubes (3/4″-1″)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (more or less, to taste)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 lb bacon strips, halved
maple syrup, for drizzling or dipping
wooden toothpicks

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Melt butter and mix in cinnamon and cayenne.

Toss sweet potatoes in butter mixture.

Dip into brown sugar to give a light coating (press on gently with fingers).

Wrap each cube in bacon and secure with toothpick.

Place on cookie sheet (with rim) or in 9×13 pan. (Or use disposable aluminum pans for quicker clean up.)

Bake until sweet  potato is cooked through and bacon is desired crispness (40-60 minutes depending on size of cubes).

Drizzle with maple syrup and serve warm (with extra maple syrup for dipping, if desired).

Makes roughly 30 bites (you can tweak the amount depending on how many bacon slices you have, etc).


To hear me talk about books, movies, my notorious naughty feline companion BadKitteh, or a host of other topics ranging from food to sex and back again, follow or contact me at any of these places:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/karenstivali/

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KarenStivali/

E-mail: karenstivali[at]gmail[dot]com

Dream Dishes: Patricia Correll’s Sugar Cookies and Frosting

November 19, 2015

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting


When my mom was a kid, she and her five siblings lived across the street from their paternal  grandmother. Every holiday season Great-Grandma made hundreds of these cookies and stored them in Tupperware containers under her bed. Six kids eat a lot of cookies!

I started making these cookies with my mom when I was 18 months old. At first I was only able to help cut out the shapes, but as I got older I was allowed to do more. I’m 36 now and I think I’ve gotten pretty decent at frosting these things, and I’ve acquired an impressive array of cookie cutters, including a manatee and a unicorn.

My older son is 6 and loves making these as well. His favorite part is cutting them out…or it might be the frosting process, which  usually involves many, many sprinkles. The baby will be ready to help in the next few months. And, like generations of mothers before me, I’ll pretend to not see when they sneak bits of dough into their mouths…as long as they say nothing when I do it too.

Cookie Dough
(20 minutes. Number of cookies is variable depending on the size of the cookie cutters you use. One batch is usually around 24 cookies)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients together. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to mixture (don’t kill your mixer’s motor, near the end you’ll need a wooden spoon and some arm muscles to mix it up). Cover dough with wax paper and chill for an hour minimum (overnight is better).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, depending on how you like your cookies. Go to town with cookie cutters, then place shapes 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 6-8 minutes or until edges are brown. Tip: leave them on the sheet a minute to cool before transferring them to a wire rack, they might fall apart if moved too soon.

Tip: To keep metal cookie cutters from rusting (sometimes it’s hard to dry in the little crevices), wash they quickly and then lay them out on a cookie sheet and stick it in the oven while it is off, but still warm. They dry quickly with no rust. But don’t do this with plastic cutters, unless you want to ruin your cookie cutters and your sheets. I only tried that once…

Buttercream Frosting (15 minutes)

I/2  cup butter, softened (not melted!)
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk (variable)

Sift confectioner’s sugar into bowl; mix on low with the softened butter. Add vanilla extract and milk until desired consistency. Color with food coloring and frost cookies. Don’t forget the sprinkles. So many sprinkles! HAHA SO MANY SPRINKLES. Load on that frosting, because the cookies are really just vehicles to convey frosting to your mouth.


Patricia Correll:


Not Quite Skynet with Clancy Nacht

November 18, 2015

Not Quite Skynet

I’m Clancy Nacht, and I’m here to talk about my new book, the sci fi thriller romance, Strange Times.

This isn’t my first time at the m/m rodeo. I’ve written several novels and novellas in the past, including the Black Gold series and The WASPs, which was originally released at Dreamspinner Press way back in my early days of writing. Funnily to me, the books I often read are horror and thrillers, but what was in my heart and soul to write was always romance. I think when it came to romance, I had things to say, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve really started to merge those interests.

Like many kids, I was taken to see the Star Wars series as a child and I loved it. I wanted to be Han Solo (though in the neighborhood I was always cast as Leia–she’s not bad either but hrmf) but I wanted a light saber. I spent hours with other kids playing war with sticks, imagining epic battles between good and evil. As I got older, I read Asimov and Bradbury, planting the seeds for a love of a genre I wouldn’t write in until much, much later.

This is my first longer work of sci fi. I’ve written the odd short story where you can create a very quick sketch of a vision of the future, but this story required me to think a lot harder and more deeply about what this vision of the future was.

I was working for an electric company and spent a good deal of time considering the power grid. As we add more electric conveniences, we are, as with everything in America, adding to an already overburdened infrastructure which may or may not be able to handle it. Pertinent to this particular novel was the concept of the Smart Grid, which is a blanket term for an electrical grid that can communicate with appliances in your home.

Say your air conditioning/heating unit is able to talk to the grid, which is then able to talk to an application on your smartphone. Say you’re on vacation and realize that you left your thermostat set to 72 and it’s 100 degrees outside. You don’t need to pay for all of that extra cooling, so you set it to 85 from wherever you’re vacationing. Thermostats are the front line for this concept, but the idea is to get all appliances on that grid so you can turn lights on or off, check on your fridge, basically control all your electronics remotely.

It’s hardly Skynet, but amusingly, some people are very, very alarmed by this and would write in on social media that the “chatter” between the thermostat and the grid gave them headaches. Others became very concerned that their appliances might be spying on them. Both suggest very interesting ideas and stories, but this idea of appliance spying and our reliance on smartphones is really what inspired the world of thought control in Strange Times.

That world has been hit by war and disaster but picks up the bones of civilization as we know it–now put under the control of a violent right wing extremist who is deadly serious about eradicating homosexuality. There’s also a symbiotic species of alien whose arrival on earth saves us from ecological disaster….but the aliens have their own agenda and are rumored to feast on humans. Those named criminals are sacrificed to the aliens.

Just to be who they are in this oppressive world, our heroes have to become rebels. Homosexuals are given the option to be reprogrammed and join the military or die. One of the main characters, Turk, is an ex-soldier who turns militant rebel. Alex is a young man about to enter college who’d successfully hidden his homosexuality until being caught in a honeytrap set up by the oppressive government. It’s Turk’s job to save him.

On top of being sexy and exciting, I hope this story also gets people thinking. To that end, one of the ideas posed does have to do with our devices. When you think about it, with GPS on in our phones, our banking information, our email, our texts, our contacts…our devices can paint a frighteningly accurate picture of us. Never before have we had such an invasive set of information collected in a one-stop shop sort of place. Yet, it’s just so convenient to have and use.


Do you ever think about the data that is being compiled? Do you worry about that? Do you think only people doing things that are bad should be worried? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

For these and other slightly frightening thoughts, you can find me in spooky omnipresence:

Blog: http://www.clancynacht.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clancy.nacht
Twitter: https://twitter.com/clancynacht