HOLLIS AND IVY is out!

Spread the Christmas joy! HOLLIS AND IVY is out for all to enjoy. If you enjoy Hallmark Christmas movies, this sweet romance is for you! And if you like Christmas in general, it is for you. And if you like mountains, skiing, flowers, parrots, or coconut, it is for you too! (I’m having Oprah flashbacks). Basically, everybody should read HOLLIS AND IVY immediately!

***

Unlucky Ivy Teague can’t win against her competition’s dirty tactics, and she will have to close her flower shop unless a Christmas miracle arrives at her door.

Hollis Dash has been sent to finalize a business deal with Ivy’s rival, but meeting Ivy upsets all his plans.

Can they both get what they want for Christmas? Only Santa knows.

***

You can get it now from Amazon, Amazon.ca, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Google Play.

 

Christmas Recipes 2017

I spent the weekend baking (SO MUCH BAKING!) and have decided to do my future self a favour and put all my recipes under one post to find for next year.

Most of these (with the exception of the Candy Cane Cookies) are kid-friendly when it comes to baking and cooking, so give them a try!

 

Rolled Shortbread

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

Gingerbread Cake

Chocolate Drops

Candy Cane Cookies

No-bake Coconut Christmas Trees

Whipped Shortbread

Chocolate Chip Cherry Coconut Drop Cookies

And if you are reading this before December 31, 2017, don’t forget to download your free copy of 12 DATES FOR CHRISTMAS for over a dozen family-favourite holiday recipes, and sneak peeks at twelve holiday romances – including DECKER AND JOY and HOLLIS AND IVY.

Chocolate Drops

I haven’t had these since I was a kid. Then we saw them at a bake sale and decided they were something that needed to be brought back into fashion for Christmas this year.

So far we’ve made two batches. I don’t know how they disappear so quickly. Fortunately, they are very easy (and kid-friendly) to make.

 

Boiled Chocolate Drops AKA Chocolate Haystacks

1/2 cup butter or margarine (125mL)
1/2 cup milk (125mL)
2 cups granulated sugar (500mL)
1/2 cup cocoa (125mL)

2 1/2 cups rolled/quick oats (625mL)

Put first 4 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 full minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in rolled oats. Drop by teaspoon full onto trays covered with waxed paper. Let harden. Makes 4 dozen.

Coconut fans can replace 1/2 cup of oats with 2/3 cup of coconut.

These harden quickly, so get them onto the tray ASAP.

(The recipe books says is great for first-time cooks, and they are. Easy and quick to make – there is no downtime to get bored.)

Whipped Shortbread

This is an old family recipe that I have never managed to get quite right. But this version is almost as tasty.

1 cup soft butter (salted)
1/2 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s/powdered sugar)
1 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
1/4 cup cornstarch
Maraschino cherries or slivered almonds

Put butter in mixing bowl. Sift other ingredients every top. Beat at high speed until creamy*.

Drop by teaspoon full on to tray and decorate with a piece of cherry or almond.

Bake at 325 F for 12 minutes.

Notes from Elle

* My recipe actually says “Beat at high speed until consistency changes. You’ll know it when you see it.” It sounds like terrible instructions, but if you are beating it and say “nope, it looks the same” then it hasn’t changed. For some reason, I think it takes 20+ minutes of beating (my mom used at hand mixture.) When the texture goes from cookie dough, to like whipped cream, you’ve got it! I’ve had it happen once. This year my mixer started heating up so much, the beaters got hot and started melting the butter. Folks, that shouldn’t happen! Creamy tastes just fine, and that’s usually where I stop because I don’t have the patience.

No Bake Coconut Christmas Trees

(This recipe is also available as part of the free 12 Dates for Christmas cookbook).

½ cup butter or margarine*
2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
3 tbsp milk
3 cups shredded coconut (medium or long strand)
½ tsp vanilla or mint flavoring**
Green food coloring*  **
3 oz white chocolate for melting (chopped up baking squares or wafers) *  **

 

Melt butter or margarine in a large saucepan or microwave. Remove from heat if using stovetop. Add icing sugar and milk.

Mix in coconut and flavoring. Add enough food colouring to tint mixture green.

Roll into 1” balls. Pinch tops to make into cones.

Place in refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 2 hours – preferably longer – to dry and firm.

Melt chocolate in saucepan or microwave. Dip tops of “trees” to give make them “snow covered”. Return to fridge until chocolate re-hardens.

Makes about 3 dozen treats.

Elle’s Notes from experience

* You can get fancy and leave your trees “white”. They look great with brown chocolate topping (melted chocolate chips work fine.) Or leave them as snow balls with white chocolate on top (see photo).

** If you want to go retro to the 80’s, you can make pink Christmas trees (remember those?).  Tint the coconut pink, add cherry flavoring instead of mint, and dip in white or regular brown chocolate.

 

Hollis and Ivy – Sneak Peek

Only a week until Hollis and Ivy will hit your e-reader. Is December 11th circled on your calendar? I thought I’d tease you a little with a snippet from this sweet romance.

You can pre-order it now from Amazon, Amazon.ca, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Google Play.

**

There were numerous chain coffee shops in the village, but Hollis preferred to try independents when he travelled. A food truck with “Coffee Run” painted on the side, set up on the street beside the main parking lot had caught his attention. It was brilliant marketing for a town built on ski slopes.

He wasn’t the only one with caffeinated intentions. Sunlight was barely peeking over the mountains, signifying the beginning of the ski day, and the line was trailing off after the morning rush. Hollis found himself standing next to a tall, gangly man with a red and white striped hat and matching sweater. A woman in a wool coat—obviously not a skier—fell in behind him.

The service was quick, the drinks were steaming, and the sugar was on the ledge beside the order window, beside a wide-mouthed jar of biscotti. Hollis took a deep whiff of his coffee before setting his cup on the counter. As he tucked his gloves in his pocket, he took a step to the side to make room for the next customer.

“Good morning. The usual?” the man in the truck asked.

“Make it a double, Joel. Thanks.”

Something about the woman’s voice made him smile. Clear and light and a little husky, like she was used to speaking quietly. He noticed it had the same effect on the food truck worker, who offered her a big grin. “One of those days, huh? Don’t worry, Ivy, we’ve got you.”

Then she directed that voice his way. “Excuse me, please.” She pointed at the biscotti container, and Hollis sidled sideways two more steps. He wasn’t about to come between a woman and her cookie. She grinned, and it hit him twice as hard as her voice. She was gorgeous. Her long, dark brown hair matched her eyes, and her friendly but anxious “Coffee, coffee, yay coffee” whisper made him laugh. A puff of wind brought the scent of spring, a reminder of it even though winter had barely begun.

She used the tongs to pull a long, chocolate-topped cookie from the jar. He wasn’t sure of her next move; it happened too quickly to see. But after that, he saw her arm jerk, and watched in amazement as the cookie went up, executed a perfect backwards, double twist, and splashed down in his coffee.

Nobody spoke. Until she gave a horrified gasp and said, “And I’d like to buy the handsome man in the tan jacket a biscotti.”

Candy Cane Cookies

These cookies taste like a pepperminty dream. Making them is a … less pleasant dream.  Unlike other recipes on my blog, DO NOT MAKE THESE WITH CHILDREN.  As a grown-up, I get exasperated trying to roll and shape the delicate cookie dough. With kids, it will be an exercise in frustration.

But I promise you they are worth every single fiddly minute.

Candy Cane Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp almond flavoring
¼ tsp peppermint flavoring
½ tsp red food coloring

Mix first 4 ingredients together well. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
Divide dough into two equal portions. To one half, add almond flavoring. To the other half, add the peppermint flavoring and food coloring. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP)

Roll 1 tsp of each color dough into ropes about 5-6 inches long. Lay side by side. Pinch ends together. Twist to form a spiral. Keep dough and rolling surface cool. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and shape to form a cane. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes until pale gold. Cool on baking sheet 2-3 minutes then remove. (Transfer with care; these cookies are delicate.) Makes about 2 to 3 dozen, depending on how big you make them.

Based on recipe from “Company’s Coming: Cookies” by Jean Pare, 1988

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

Christmas isn’t Christmas without holiday baking, so let’s start with something easy to make, and a good way to get the kids involved in baking.

Unfortunately, these can’t be sent to school because they do contain nuts (I’ve heard of a Wow-butter version but have not tried it myself.) They are fine – and always popular – at home and work potlucks.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1-300 gram bag of butterscotch chips
1-200 gram bag of mutli-coloured mini-marshmallows (you can use white but why be plain?)

Melt the butter, peanut butter and butterscotch chips over a low heat. Remove and let cool a little as to not melt the marshmallows. Pour in marshmallows. Coat thoroughly. Press into a 9″x13″ pan. Chill in fridge for 1 hour. (You can line the pan with parchment paper for easier removal.) Cut and serve.

12 Dates for Christmas

 

I have an early Christmas present for you!

Several of my fellow romance writers and I have come together to make 12 Dates for Christmas. This is a free recipe book download, stuffed full of Christmas recipes.

Each recipe is inspired by a Christmas romance, and we’ve also given you sneak peeks at a dozen Christmas stories.  Including Decker and Joy, and your first look ever at Hollis and Ivy!

Here’s the link.

And for more Christmas fun, I hope you join the 12 Dates for Christmas group page on Facebook to find all things Christmas.

41 days to Christmas!