Recipes + Excerpts

 

Rouladen

Growing up, my family always had Rouladen, sans pickles, for our special Christmas Day feast. I can still recall the smell of the bacon grease from the fried bacon and the scent of chopped onions lingering in the air. And, oh boy, there was nothing like the flavor of the thin meat wrapped around the bacon and onion stuffing, held together by three toothpicks. That’s coming from a vegetarian, too, who no longer eats meat—GASP! But, hey, we never forget the things that made our taste buds go wild as a child, and I am comfortable admitting that the smell of bacon is still ah-mazing.

My mom got the recipe from her mom, who got the recipe from a couple who came to Michigan from Germany. (Although, my maternal grandma was German, herself.) After she got the recipe, my mom only made Rouladen once a year as well, since it involves a lot of cooking and the meat can be quite expensive.

My mom kept that tradition for us while we were growing up, so I decided to give that tradition to Donovan’s mom and grandma, who live in Michigan, too.

 

Ingredients:

– 8 pieces round beef slices, 6 inches, ¼ inch thick
– ½ cup minced onion
– ½ pound of fried, cut-up bacon
– Pinch salt
– Pinch black pepper
– Quartered, peeled potatoes
– For gravy, you’ll need flour and water.

 

Instructions:

1. Cut up bacon and fry.

2. Remove bacon. Sautee minced onion in the bacon grease.

3. Remove onions from pan. Keep the bacon grease in the pan.

4. Mix bacon with the onion in a bowl. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.

5. Lay out prepared beef slices. Add a generous heap of the bacon and onion mixture into the center of each slice.

6. Roll up the beef slices. Use toothpicks to secure each end and the middle shut. Three toothpicks usually do the trick.

7. Brown the rouladen bundles in the bacon grease, on all sides.

8. Remove the rouladen bundles and put in a roasting pan. Add some water to the bacon grease pan. Scrape up all the goodies. Pour over the rouladen bundles. Don’t drown them, just enough to reach half-way.

9. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

10. Halfway through the baking time, add the quartered, peeled potatoes around the rouladen bundles, into the juices.

11. It’s done when the potatoes are tender. Transfer rouladen and potatoes to a dish or platter.

12. Gravy: Add more water or substitute beef broth to the pan if a lot of the juices cooked down. Put pan on burner and boil. Now, in a separate bowl, mix flour and water together. Add the flour mixture to the boiling juices until thick. If you need to thicken it more, make more flour and water mixture and then add to the juices. Keep mixing.

 

EXCERPT:

“Here. I also wanted to give this to you.” Meredith reached into her apron pocket and pulled out an index card.

Beth took it. On the top it read, “Rouladen— Goldwyn Family Recipe.” It was the recipe passed down to all Goldwyn women.

“I should’ve given it to you a long time ago,” Meredith said.

“I wouldn’t have known how to make it if you had.”

Meredith patted her hand. “When you make it the first time, we can video chat, and I can walk you through it.”

“We may have to do that the second time, too.”

“As many times as you need.”

Beth tucked the index card into her pocket with the snowball cookie recipe.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

The timer for the last batch of cookies went off. Meredith pulled it out of the oven, not knowing how much those two recipes in Beth’s pocket truly meant to her. They were a Christmas present on their own, more valuable than anything that could be bought in a store.

 

 

Snow Ball Cookies

Ingredients:

– 1 cup soft butter
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 1 tablespoon water
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 2 ¼ cup flour
– ½ cup chopped pecans

 

Instructions:

1. Combine all wet ingredients with the sugar.

2. Add flour and pecans. Mix Well.

3. Form 1-inch big balls and place on a cookie sheet. Note: Dough is thick.

4. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 325 degrees.

5. Cool then roll in powdered sugar.

 

EXCERPT:

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Warmth spread through him as he watched Beth exchange hugs with them.

“Oh, Beth, we’re so happy you came,” his mom said. “I brought cookies. They’re in the car.”

“I can never pass up cookies,” Beth said.

In the backseat of his mom’s van, she cracked open a red and gold tin canister. The aroma of the snowball cookies Donovan grew up eating wafted out and touched his nose. Beth selected a cookie on top, bit into it, and let out a content moan. “These cookies are delicious.”

“I’ll have to give you the recipe. They’re easy to make,” his mom said.

“That would be great. Thank you.”

Grandma turned in her seat and held out a thermos.

“Don’t forget the hot chocolate. It’s the real stuff, too, none of that instant crap from a package.”

Donovan took the thermos, unscrewed the cap, and gave it to Beth. She took a sip.

“Wow. Can I take the two of you home with me?”

Laughter filled the van.

Seeing Beth getting along so well with the two other women he loved brought up a surge of emotions he couldn’t tamp down. Didn’t want to tamp down. As it consumed him, he had the urge to show her how much she meant to him. And he didn’t care who saw it either.

 

 

Christmas Coffee

Ingredients:

– 1 cup instant hot chocolate mix
– 1 cup regular cremora (coffee creamer)
– ½ cup sugar
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon
– ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

 

Instructions:

1. Mix all ingredients.

2. Put in a jar.

3. Add a spoonful or two (to taste) to your cup of brewed coffee.

 

EXCERPT:

SeismicCrimes_w10160_300

“Dear, I know you haven’t known Donovan long,” Lily said, “but the two of us are curious about your feelings toward him.”

Beth felt her cheeks sear red. She glanced at the women who waited for her reply while she carefully weighed her answer. “I care about him a lot. He’s an amazing man.”

“Have you slept with him?” Lily blurted.

Beth’s jaw dropped.

“Mom!” Meredith shook her head disapprovingly. “What she meant to ask is if you’re in love.”

Beth felt as though a cloud of butterflies were set loose inside her body. Her heart rate fluttered frantically at the mention of the L word. “It’s a little early for that.” She looked from Meredith to Lily. “Isn’t it?”

Meredith shrugged. “You tell us.”

Beth swallowed. “I…uh…” She knew she was in love with Donovan, but she hadn’t admitted it aloud since she’d told him outside the police department. “I think I am. Yes.”

The two women beamed at her, seemingly pleased with her response.

Beth took a sip of coffee, finding it cold and bitter. The look in Meredith’s and Lily’s eyes dashed the joy she felt a moment ago. The look said they hoped for marriage and babies. Lots and lots of babies. But Beth wasn’t ready for diapers and formula yet. The thought of being a mother for the rest of her life terrified her. How could she raise a child to be a good person? What if she screwed up? Although she had excellent parents, she wasn’t sure if she had the mothering gene.

 

 

Blake’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:

– Two slices of thickly sliced bread
– Shredded mozzarella cheese
– Shredded cheddar cheese
– Tomato, diced
– Butter
– Garlic powder

 

Instructions:

1. Mix a dash of garlic powder into a tablespoon (or so) of butter. Slather the garlic butter onto two slices of thickly sliced bread, such as Italian, French, or Cubano.

2. Heat a skillet, set one slice of bread, buttered side down, onto skillet.

3. Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded mozzarella cheese on top.

4. Add diced tomatoes, top with an equal amount of shredded cheddar cheese and the other slice of bread, buttered side up.

5. Brown each side to a nice golden. Cut in half, let cool, and enjoy!

NOTE: Blake says you can omit the garlic better if you want. But to add flavor, you can smear a little basil pesto on the inside of the bread before adding the shredded mozzarella cheese.

 

EXCERPT:

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“I figured if you wanted to cause me harm, you sure as hell wouldn’t be cooking for me.”

He shrugged as he continued to stir. “I thought you’d be hungry.”

“You thought right. The last time I had something to eat was a bagel at one o’clock this morning.”

“Then you’re starving.”

She chuckled. “I am.”

He motioned for her to sit at the table. “I don’t know what you like, so I made everything I know how to cook.” He set a plate on the green placemat in front of her. She looked at it and grinned. He had made a tomato grilled cheese sandwich, homemade mashed potatoes, and spaghetti.

Blake sat across from her with his own plate and looked at her. “Why are you smiling at the food?”

“No reason,” she insisted. “It’s exactly what I would’ve made.”

“Is that bad?”

She shook her head. “No. It’s good. It looks good.”

With that said, she dug right into her food. The cheese was gooey, the mashed potatoes were excellent, and the spaghetti tasted like it came from an Italian restaurant. And she ate every last bite. “Those mashed potatoes were fabulous,” she claimed.

“My grandmother’s recipe. It was the only thing she was able to teach me how to cook. My sister is the chef in the family. That spaghetti sauce was hers.”

“She makes her own spaghetti sauce?”

“She uses it in her restaurant and sells it to her customers. She gives me a couple of jars every month.”

“Tell your sister she makes the best damn sauce I’ve ever tasted. And that grilled cheese was also the best I ever had. No lie.”

“Well now, I created the grilled cheese on my own.” He picked up the plates and set them in the sink.

“I’m going to go up and take a shower. The door will be unlocked if you need me.”

“Okay.” She didn’t know why the little detail about the door being unlocked while he was wet and naked had her heart racing.

Oh, wait, that’s why!

 

 

DANI’S Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:

– Eggplant
– Olive oil
– Basil (Fresh, none of that dried crap, as Dani would say.)
– Mozzarella cheese
– Tomatoes
– Pasta sauce

 

Instructions:

1. Slice eggplant and lightly brush both sides with olive oil, set in a warm skilled and cook each side for about three minutes until lightly golden. Set aside in a baking dish.

2. Place a few fresh basil leaves onto each slice of eggplant.

3. Slice the mozzarella (as thick as you want) and layer on top of the eggplant. Then slice the tomato and place on top of the mozzarella. Add another basil leaf on top of the tomatoes.

4. Sprinkle the whole dish with Parmesan cheese and pour pasta sauce over the layers of eggplant, cheese, and tomato.

5. Bake this in the oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Let cool and enjoy!

NOTE: Excellent with cheesy garlic bread.

 

EXCERPT:

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She sipped her coffee and examined Blake over the top of her mug. “I want to cook dinner for you tonight.” He looked at her, a forked sausage halfway to his mouth. Smiling to herself, she cut a triangle from her stack of pancakes.

“Why?”

“You have to eat.” She snapped a crispy piece of bacon in half and took a bite.

“It’s against the rules.”

“Eating?” She raised a brow at him. “I’m not asking for a date, nor am I going to poison you. I make awesome eggplant parmesan.”

“I don’t have eggplant,” he said, shoveling a forkful of scrambled eggs into his mouth as if that would end all further discussion.

“We can pick one up.”

“Excuse me?” He looked at her. “You aren’t going anywhere. Not with Red and his men after you.”

Thanks to you, she thought.

“Correction. They’re after us. I highly doubt we’d see them while picking out eggplant, unless they get a craving for cucumbers.”

 

 

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