Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cooking with the Wenches - Sam Cheever's Chicken with Tomatoes and Basil

A cool recipe and a hot read! Sam Cheever is here to provide both. IMG_7837_120x180

I use thin sliced chicken breast for this recipe, but you can also butterfly and pound whole chicken breasts to ¼ inch thick.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Basil

5 medium plum tomatoes, diced and seeded ¼ cup packed,
fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2½ tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves sliced or pounded thin (approximately 2 lbs.)

Combine tomatoes, basil, half the oil, vinegar, and garlic in a bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown 3 minutes, or until golden and nearly cooked through, in half the remaining oil.

Flip and cook another 2 minutes on the other side. (Cook half at a time and keep the rest warm in a 200°F oven.)

Serve with sweet potatoes mashed with milk and Parmesan cheese.

Arrange the chicken on a plate with a scoop of mashed sweet potatoes and spoon a generous amount of the tomato mixture and juice over the top.

Delicious and pretty!

Now for that hot read we promised you.

Here's an intro from my erotic romance Cupid Only Rings Twice.

This Valentine’s Day, Rori’s gonna meet an honest to god Cupid. And he’ll use more than arrows to win her love.

Rori Foster is too beautiful to find love. Men just can’t seem to look past her exterior to recognize the human being inside. But, this Valentine’s Day, Rori’s gonna meet an honest to god Cupid. And he’ll use more than arrows to win her love.,

Unfortunately he’ll have to save her from the bad intentions of a cocky Love Demon first.

But Damios is determined to protect her. Even if he loses her in the process.


Damios lowered his head, capturing her exquisite lips in a kiss that was less a tender wish and more an urgent promise. Her mouth opened under his and he accepted her offer, slipping his tongue past her lips to savor her sweet taste. She moaned softly as his hands slipped around her waist, up her back, and pulled her tightly against his chest. Her body heated under his kiss and her incredible scent slipped over him.

Damios broke the kiss long enough to say, “I lied. I want to come inside.”

They both stilled for a moment, Damios realizing how his declaration had sounded and Rori’s lips twitching under a suppressed grin. He rested his forehead against hers, finding it hard to breathe.

“Sorry. That came out wrong.”

She chuckled huskily, skimming the tip of one velvet thumb across his bottom lip. “No. It came out just right.”

Damios bit her thumb softly and slipped his hands down her body, cupping the firm roundness of her buttocks. His lips found hers again and he groaned as she ground herself against him. Their kiss gained heat, their bodies thrumming under the imperative of a building need. Their tongues tangled, danced, and their hands skimmed, exploring with growing intensity...

To read more or purchase Cupid Only Rings Twice please click the vendor's name.

Musa Publishing | Nook | Kobo | Sony | ARe | Kindle | |

Sam Cheever writes mainstream romantic suspense and fantasy, all heat levels; and Declan Sands for M/M romantic suspense and fantasy. Her books are fast paced and fun loving. Not one of them will solve a single world problem, but you definitely won’t be bored while reading them! Sam’s published work includes 40+ works of young adult, romantic suspense, and fantasy/paranormal. Her books have won the Dream Realm Award for fantasy, been nominated and/or won several CAPAs, were nominated for Best of 2010 with LRC and The Romance Reviews, and won eCataromance’s Reviewer’s Choice award. She is published with Ellora’s Cave, both Romantica and Blush; Changeling Press; Electric Prose Publications (her own imprint), Musa Publishing, and Red Rose Publishing. She lives on a hobby farm in Indiana with 13 dogs, 2 horses, and one husband.

(HA! See, Husband, Sam has more dogs than I do.. That means we have to get more pets - Nancy)

Learn more about Sam Cheever on her blog Eclectic Insights. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find Sam on Goodreads.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cookng wiith family

Mikey, my 12-year old son, wants to be a chef. We watch Master Chef together. He has his favorite contestant and I have mine. We'll see which want-to-be Master Chef wins. This weekend he asked to learn how to make a gravy. I'm Sicilian so the thing in the picture above isn't tomato sauce, it's gravy. Okay, now that we have that squared away, I can continue.

The recipe for gravy is a loosely guarded secret. I learned from my Mom, who learned from her Mom, and so on and so on. I say the secret is "loosely guarded" because there aren't any real measurements that go with it. It's a pinch of this, a palm full of that. You know. One of those good old fashioned recipes.

Mikey and I spent the early part of the afternoon chopping garlic, and putting together the gravy. The trick about a good gravy (that all those commercial companies forget) is that it has to simmer for hours to get the best blend of flavors. We did all the prep work, and then I had to leave to grocery shop.

We live on a horse farm. The closest grocery story is a 20 minute drive. Needless to say, a trip to the grocery story approaches an "event" and takes at least 2 hours. Since I was going to be gone during the simmer time, I told Mikey that he had to stir the gravy every 15 minutes (about once after each show ended), and to add water if the liquid level went down. To hedge my bet, I told my husband the same thing.

Imagine my surprise on my way hone when my husband called and asked if there was any premade sauce I would eat.

They had had several issues in my absence. They moved the sauce to a smaller burner on the stove so that it didn't boil quite so much. That was one issue well handled. The next one . .. not so much. Both of them failed to notice that the water had boiled off and what they had in the pot was really tomato paste and not gravy. Somehow when Matt went out to walk the dogs and feed the horses, the stove was turned up. When he came back the tomato paste was burnt. Hence the call to me.

Now, keep in mind that Matt has actually made gravy before. I taught him how when we were dating. When I asked him how he hadn't noticed that the gravy had turned to paste, he said (and I quote) "Have we met?" and blinked his baby blues at me.


The gravy couldn't be salvaged. We ordered pizza. Take 2 - next weekend.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cultural Scars

A few weeks ago I was listening to the audiobook version of Lee Child's Tripwire. A lot of the story takes place in and around the World Trade Center in New York. It surprised me how hard it was to listen to events staged in a building that no longer existed. As a result, I became acutely aware of the scars we bear as a culture.

When we write we are told to make sure our characters are well-rounded, that they have a past, and plans for their future. The same thing's true for the world in which our characters live.  Each society has its triumphs, dirty secrets, and tragedies. How they affect us, the characters in our own stories, depends on who we are and how remote those events are from us.

For Americans, our cultural scars include the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the race riots of the 1960s, the war in Vietnam, the Challenger explosion, and the September 11 attacks. Each one of these events fundamentally changed how we function as a culture and interact with the world around us. But, there's something else you need to notice about the list. Off the top of my head, I only included events that occurred in my lifetime, or slightly before it. I didn't include the Civil War even though it changed, well, everything, about a young country.

If my grandparents were still with us, I'm sure they'd have included the Great Depression on the list of cultural scars. How did living through the Depression alter how my grandparents interacted with the world around them? They didn't spend money on things they didn't need to. They didn't accumulate "stuff" just to do it. My mother's parents hid cash around the house - although not under the mattress -  because they didn't trust banks. They paid cash for everything and didn't trust or use credit cards either. But I didn't live through the Great Depression. I'm two generations removed from it. So, while I know the lessons from the Depression, I also lived through the "me" generation of the 1980's where the mantra of the day was "why delay gratification? The good times will never end?" Well, they did.

To me the 9/11 attacks were more about the end of American innocence rather than the Kennedy assassination. Yes, we could be touched here in America. Our streets can look like those over seas where unrest is common. The September 11 terrorist attacks created a culture of fear. Politicians now sell it. They get elected because of it. One where we willingly sacrifice our civil liberties and outage at governmental prying for the illusion of "safety." I often wonder if my grandchildren will think the benefit was worth what we gave up.

Okay, sorry I drifted off topic. Back to my point.

Cultures are people too. They have pasts and scars. Those scars in turn inflict invisible wounds on the members of that society. The best stories are recognize this. Kevin J. Anderson's Saga of the Seven Suns has several rich cultures that hide scars. Jora'h, one of my favorite characters from the story, must confront  his culture's despicable acts, and decide whether to bear those scars at the cost of his values or expose those secrets and endanger his people. Each race has a secret that drives its society and present policy/ actions. A culture's present responsibility for its earlier choices is one of the themes in the series. Kevin's consideration and interweaving of these macro-issues makes him one of the best world builders out there.

Paradigm shifts happen when those wounds hit a critical mass and result in change. We change because of our cultural past as much as society changes because of what we do. Our writing should reflect the world around our character, and that world has scars that carve rivulets into its people's souls.