Cooking From My Books: Brady’s Steak With Mushroom sauce

Summer barbecue season is officially here, and that means big slabs of red meat on the grill! I love nothing better than a delicious steak grilled to perfection, and a delicious mushroom sauce makes it even better. Brady from my Big Timber series agrees, and he also suggests you pair it with a big glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.


2 tablespoons butter
4 (4 oz) packages gourmet blend mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
black pepper, ground
6 1-inch thick New York strip steaks
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms, shallot, and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Stir in cream, and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Stir in thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside, and keep warm.

Sprinkle steaks evenly with salt and pepper.

Heat a grill to medium high. Add steaks, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan, and let stand for 10 minutes. Serve steaks with mushroom sauce. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.


  • June 16, 2016

Cooking From My Books: Molly’s Caprese Salad

Today’s recipe from Blame It On Your Heart is one of my all time favorites and perfect for summer. It’s one of my favorites, because hello, who doesn’t love summer ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Plus, it’s dead easy to make. Of course, it wasn’t as easy when Molly made it because she went to the trouble of making her own mozzarella cheese. And I can tell you from experience, turning whole milk and some enzymes into lovely, creamy mozzarella is no easy feat. My success rate is abysmally low – 3 out of 4 batches I attempted left me with rubbery balls better suited for the tennis court than for my plate. So unless you’re really into cheese making, do as this recipe suggests and buy high quality fresh mozzarella at the grocery store to go with your garden or farmer’s market fresh tomatoes!



2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, washed well and spun dry
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste


On a large platter arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping them. Sprinkle salad with oregano and arugula and drizzle with oil. Season salad with salt and pepper.

  • June 9, 2016

Cooking From My Books: Jalapeño Margarita

It’s getting hot, and that means it’s time for cold drinks by the pool! This week I’m featuring another recipe from Delicious. Readers might remember Reggie’s visit to La Rubia in Austin, where she cooked with a would be rival for hero Gabe’s affections. While Gabe was immune to her charms, she still mixed up a tasty, spicy, margarita!


1 small jalapeño pepper (or half a large jalapeño)
1½ cups blanco or silver tequila, such as Avión
1 cup Triple Sec
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (8 limes)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons honey
Pinch of kosher salt

1. Pierce the jalapeño pepper in 8 to 10 places with the tip of a sharp paring knife and cut it in half lengthwise, leaving the seeds and the ribs. Place the pepper in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup, pour in the tequila, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

2. Discard the jalapeño and pour the tequila into a pitcher through a sieve to remove the seeds. Add the Triple Sec, lime juice, lemon juice, honey and salt. Stir and use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 6 hours.

3. When ready to serve, fill six margarita glasses with ice and pour over the margarita mixture; or fill a cocktail shaker with ice and some of the mixture, shake vigorously for 30 seconds, and pour into glasses. Serve ice cold.

  • June 1, 2016

Cooking From My Books: Brady’s Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger

Memorial Day is coming up this weekend, officially ushering in the summer barbecue season. With that in mind, this week I’m posting the recipe for Brady McManus’s amazing cheeseburger. Featured in Blame It On Your Heart, the first book in my Big Timber, Montana series, it is a favorite of Ellie Tanner’s 5 year old son, Nicholas.
Go fire up the grill!


½ c. light mayonnaise
¼ c. chili sauce
2 tbsp. dill pickle relish
2 lb. 85% lean ground beef
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. each salt and freshly ground pepper
6 whole-wheat hamburger buns
6 small lettuce leaves
1 large beefsteak tomato
6 tbsp. thin slices Vidalia onion
Nonstick spray
6 slice sharp Cheddar cheese
6 strip cooked bacon

Make Special Sauce: Mix ingredients in a bowl.
Make Burgers: Gently mix ingredients in a large bowl. Shape into six 1-in.-thick burgers.
Heat outdoor grill. Toast buns on grill; remove to a platter. Spread 1 Tbsp Special Sauce on bun tops and bottoms. Top bottoms with lettuce, tomato and onion.
Coat burgers with nonstick spray. Grill, turning once, 10 to 12 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted from side to middle registers 160°F. Top with cheese and bacon; cover grill 45 seconds or until cheese starts to melt. Transfer burgers to buns. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

  • May 25, 2016

Cooking From My Books: Ahi Tuna Tartare On Jicama

With the weather warming up here in California, we’re breaking out the shorts, the sundresses, and the bathing suits. With that in mind, I thought I’d post something on the lighter side for this week’s edition of CFMB.
This delicious appetizer was featured in Blame It On Your Heart, the first book in my Big Timber series. It was served at a surprise birthday party Jane Decker hosted for her husband. And because Jane is an A list Hollywood actress, of course it’s low carb :).


Ahi Tuna Tartare On Jicama “Chips”
3 3/4 pounds very fresh tuna steak
1 1/4 cups olive oil
5 limes, zest grated
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 1/2 teaspoons wasabi powder
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups minced scallions, white and green parts (12 scallions)
3 1/4 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeno pepper, seeds removed
5 ripe Hass avocados
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, optional
3 large jicamas, peeled and sliced into 2″ rounds

Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch dice and place it in a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, soy sauce, hot red pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour over the tuna, add the scallions and jalapeno, and mix well. Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. Cut the avocados into 1/4-inch dice. Carefully mix the avocado into the tuna mixture. Add the toasted sesame seeds, if using, and season to taste. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Serve on jicama slices.

  • May 18, 2016

Cooking From My Books: Brady’s Grilled Lamb Chops with Cranberry Chutney

A smoking hot guy who can cook? How does it get any better than that? That’s what was on my mind when I conceived of Brady McManus. If only he existed in real life…
Anyway, while the man might not leap from the page any time soon, his food is accessible to all of us!
This week, it’s delicious lamb chops served with a sweet and spicy cranberry chutney. Enjoy!


Cranberry Chutney:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
3 cups cranberries, divided
1 cup water
1 medium red onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 serrano chile, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves

Grilled Lamb Chops:
8 (4 to 5-ounce) porterhouse lamb chops
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Cilantro leaves, garnish
Finely chopped chives, garnish

For the Cranberry Chutney:
Combine the sugar, honey, 2 cups of cranberries and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the cranberries pop and become soft and the mixture thickens slightly. Stir in the onion, ginger, chile, garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until thick about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining cranberries and cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For the Grilled Lamb Chops:
Heat the grill to high or a grill pan over high heat. Brush chops on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown on both sides and cooked to medium doneness, about 6 minutes total. Remove lamb from the grill, loosely tent and let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve on a plater with cranberry chutney and cranberry sauce. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

  • May 11, 2016

Cooking From My Books: Shrimp and Grits

This is another recipe from Delicious. Readers might remember when Reggie Visited Biddie Lee Hughes, a lovely older restaurant who unfortunately couldn’t keep track of where she was and what she was supposed to be doing. It quickly became clear that if the producers of Simply Delicious had any chance of filming the segment, Reggie was going to have to take the lead.

So Reggie jumped right in and improvised, realizing that the classic southern dish had similarities to an Italian recipe Reggie could make in her sleep.

Enjoy this recipe for shrimp and grits, or if you like, gambieri con polenta!


4 cups water
1 bay leaf, plus 2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 1/2 cups coarse yellow cornmeal
1/2 rib celery, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 pounds rock shrimp
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped to yield 2 tablespoons

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot, combine the water, bay leaf, and salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Gradually whisk the cornmeal into the pot, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium low and stir constantly until the polenta is smooth and thick, about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Turn the polenta into a serving bowl and keep warm.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the celery and garlic, and process to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onion. Saute until softened and slightly browned, about 3 minutes, then add the celery and garlic, and remaining bay leaves. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and wine, mix well, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add a bit of water if necessary to keep the mixture from getting too thick, cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the shrimp are tender but cooked through.
Remove the bay leaves and stir in the parsley. Serve immediately with the warm polenta.

  • May 4, 2016

Cooking From My Books: Sullivan’s Chicken Wings

This recipe is from A Taste of Sin, the very first novella I ever wrote! It ended up in the anthology, A Taste of Honey, which featured three out of the four Donovan brothers. This story featured Nick Donovan, the youngest of the brood.
When the Donovan brothers hit Sullivan’s Bar after a long day, they like nothing more than to order a big pile of wings, paired with icy cold beer. Unlike many Buffalo wing recipes which call for heavier breading, this method focuses on creating a crispy skin and juicy meat. Enjoy!

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1-2 quarts peanut oil, for frying
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
18 chicken wings (about 3 pounds), wingtips removed and remaining wings separated into 2 parts at the joint
4 stalks celery, cut into thin sticks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks
1 recipe Blue Cheese Dressing (recipe follows)


1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the hot sauces, brown sugar, and vinegar until combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 2 1/2 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 360 degrees. While the oil heats, mix together the cayenne, black pepper, salt, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Dry the chicken with paper towels and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the wings and toss with a rubber spatula until evenly coated. Fry half the chicken wings until golden and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the fried chicken wings to the baking sheet. Keep this first batch warm in the oven while frying the remaining wings.

3. Pour the sauce mixture in a large bowl, add the chicken wings, and toss until the wings are uniformly coated. Serve immediately with carrot and celery sticks and Blue Cheese Dressing on the side.

Blue Cheese Dressing
Makes About 1 1/2 Cups

5 ounces crumbled blue cheese (about 1 cup)
6 tablespoons buttermilk
6 tablespoons sour cream
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and ground black pepper

Mash the blue cheese and buttermilk in a small bowl with a fork until the mixture resembles cottage cheese with small curds. Stir in the sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and garlic powder. Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper to taste. (The dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)

  • April 28, 2016

Cooking From My Books: Danny’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

I have a confession: Danny Taggart, the hero of Unleashed (#3 in my Gemini Men series) might be my favorite. I know, we authors are supposed to treat our characters like children and love them all the same if not differently.
But from the moment Danny popped onto the page, dark, broody, let’s face it, kind of an asshole, I was smitten. Blunt, to the point, and intense in his approach to everything. Including the way he cooks.
Readers first met Danny in the pages of Caught, the first of my Gemini Men books while he was banging around his father’s kitchen cooking Sunday dinner for his father and twin brothers, Ethan and Derek. On the menu:
Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs. Enjoy!

2 slices white sandwich bread (crusts discarded), torn into small cubes
1/2 cup buttermilk or 6 tablespoons plain yogurt thinned with 2 tablespoons whole milk
1 pound ground pork mixed with ground chuck (the butcher counter at your local store often features meatloaf mix which is good for this)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 large egg yolk
1 small clove garlic , minced (1 teaspoon)
3/4 teaspoon table salt
Ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for pan-frying (about 1 1/4 cups)
Smooth Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounce)
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves , minced
Table salt
Ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
Parmesan cheese fresh, grated

For the meatballs:
Combine bread and buttermilk in small bowl, mashing occasionally with fork, until smooth paste forms, about 10 minutes.
Place ground meat, cheese, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste in medium bowl. Add bread-milk mixture and combine until evenly mixed. Shape 3 tablespoons of mixture into 1½-inch-round meatball. (When forming meatballs use a light touch. If you compact the meatballs too much, they can become dense and hard.) You should be able to form about 14 meatballs. After shaping meatballs place on platter, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Pour vegetable oil into 10- or 11-inch sauté pan to depth of ¼ inch. Turn flame to medium-high. After several minutes, test oil with edge of meatball. When oil sizzles, add meatballs in single layer. Fry, turning several times, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Regulate heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking. Transfer browned meatballs to plate lined with paper towels and set aside.
Note: meatballs taste best when browned evenly on all sides. Their round shape makes this a challenge. The solution is to brown the two broader sides of the meatballs first and then use tongs to stand the meatballs on their sides. If necessary, lean the meatballs up against one another as they brown.
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in large pot for pasta.
For the sauce, discard oil in pan, leaving behind any browned bits. Add olive oil along with garlic; sauté, scraping up any browned bits, just until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, bring to boil, and simmer gently until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil; add salt and pepper to taste. Add meatballs and simmer, turning them occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Keep warm over low flame.
Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water. Cook until al dente, drain, and return to pot. Ladle several large spoonfuls of tomato sauce (without meatballs) over spaghetti and toss until noodles are well coated. Divide pasta among individual bowls and top each with a little more tomato sauce and 2 to 3 meatballs. Serve immediately with grated cheese passed separately.

  • April 20, 2016

Cooking From My Books: Adele’s Key Lime Pie

This favorite from Adele’s Cafe was featured in Blame it On Your Heart, the first book in my series set in Big Timber, Montana. With it’s delicious, tart-sweet filling and graham cracker crust, it’s sure to be a big hit with the whole family.

Note: Key limes are also known as Mexican or West Indian limes. If you can’t find them in your area, substitute bottled Key lime juice.



For crust
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs from 9 (2 1/4-inch by 4 3/4-inch) crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key lime juice (if using bottled, preferably Manhattan brand)

For topping
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream


  1. Make crust:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of a 9-inch (4-cup) glass pie plate.
    3. Bake crust in middle of oven 10 minutes and cool in pie plate on a rack. Leave oven on.
  2. Make filling and bake pie:
    1. Whisk together condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until combined well. Add juice and whisk until combined well (mixture will thicken slightly).
    2. Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack (filling will set as it cools), then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.
  3. Make topping:
    1. Just before serving, beat cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks. Serve pie topped with cream.
  • April 10, 2016