Monday, January 7, 2013

Liz's Liar: Plotting Princesses Blog Hop

As writers, most of us belong to a lot of groups out there, some good, some not as good. I was fortunate enough a few years back to hook up with an amazing group of women from my local romance writers chapter (Dallas Area Romance Authors ) and we're still going strong. Several times a year we meet and help each other with plots. I try not to hog the meetings, but I usually do. These women have helped me plot all four of my clueless cook books and then some.

Anyway, we decided to do a blog hop and today is my day. Here's how it works. If you leave a comment you'll be entered to receive a copy of MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT. In addition, you'll be entered in the grand prize drawing: An ebook or print book from each of the 10 participating authors. That's 10 free books!

I also share a recipe with you and an excerpt from MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT. So, let's get started. First the excerpt. The set up is the first elimination round of the Caribbean Cook-Off on board the Carnation Queen, and my clueless cook is one of three judges.


Emily turned to Jordan. “And I’m delighted to have you as well, Jordan.” She stepped closer to stand directly in front of Beau. “Thank you for agreeing to be a judge also, Mr. Lincoln.”

Jordan almost felt sorry for Beau, whose tongue was nearly hanging out of his mouth after his first glimpse of the entertainment lawyer. He must have thought he had died and gone to Hooter Heaven.

“Jesus!” Jordan heard him say under his breath.

“Are we ready to get this show on the road?” Emily asked without offering her hand.

“Yes,” Jordan replied.

Beau could only nod. Jordan couldn’t help thinking Marsha had just lost out on the KahlĂșa brownies, too.

Emily moved to the middle of the stage and took the mic from Michael’s boss. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to what we hope will be the first of many annual Lone Star Caribbean Cook-Offs. I’m Emily Thorpe, and along with Wayne Francis and KTLK in Ranchero, Texas, I have the privilege of being a sponsor for this wonderful event. First off, I want to thank the good people at Carnation Queen Cruise Lines for their help in putting this together, as well as the talented staff at KTLK for making it happen. Of course, we wouldn't be here if it weren't for all of you wonderful listeners who chose to be a part of this fun cruise with us. So, are you already to see the chefs cook?”

The crowd went wild, all except Beau’s wife who definitely was not a happy camper and was sending daggers in Emily’s direction. Had she seen her husband’s reaction to the dazzling lawyer? And if so, why was she giving Emily the evil eye?  Her only fault was looking gorgeous. She couldn’t help it if Beau was as sleazy as they come and just as horny.

“Let's start by introducing the talented chefs who came from all over the Dallas-Fort Worth area to show off their talents.” The crowd cheered after each name, rocking the house when Stefano was introduced. “The competition will take place only on the days we’re at sea so that y’all can enjoy the wonderful islands we’ll visit. Tomorrow night we’ll begin with appetizers, and then on Thursday when we’re on our way back to Miami, the chefs will give us their best dessert recipes. We’ve saved the most challenging part, main entrees, for Friday night after which the points will be tallied and a winner crowned.

“Tonight's Greased Lightning Elimination Round will start us off. Our chefs have each chosen their own favorite fish to cook, but they’ll have to incorporate every ingredient from the baskets at their stations in their recipes.”

She reached for an opened basket from one of her assistants and held it up. “Each basket has identical ingredients chosen by the executive chef on the ship. There are mangoes, pineapples, crab meat, a few exotic seasonings and even guava berry liqueur. The chefs will have thirty minutes to prepare enough for the three judges and the twenty-five tasters.” She paused to allow the crowd to show their approval before she continued. “Now it’s time to meet the three people who hold the fate of our chefs in their hands.”

Emily turned toward Jordan and Beau. “The pretty lady with the great hair is Jordan McAllister from the Ranchero Globe. She writes the popular Kitchen Kupboard column, so we know she’s highly qualified to pick out great-tasting food.”

Jordan nearly choked on the sip of water she'd just taken.

“Sitting on her right is Beau Lincoln, owner and CEO of Sinfully Sweet, a Fortune 500 company that sells the most delicious cocktail desserts I've ever tasted.

“And I don’t think I need to tell any of you who the distinguished looking gentleman to Jordan’s left is. Please help me welcome world renowned chef and owner of the fabulous Chez Lui restaurant in New York City, George Christakis.”

The man seemed almost embarrassed by all the hoopla. The crowd’s appreciation and subsequent standing ovation brought a half smile to his face. He stood and waved, causing another storm of applause.

When the crowd finally quieted down, Emily continued. “So without further ado, let's get started. Remember, chefs, one of you will be eliminated tonight, but you'll still get to hang out and enjoy a great cruise. The final winner will receive five-hundred thousand dollars, courtesy of Gourmet Kitchens, along with the opportunity to do a national ad campaign with me for Classic Cuisine.” Her assistant handed her a remote control. “You’re on the clock,” she said as a huge digital timer appeared over the chef stations and began the thirty-minute countdown.

The chefs immediately opened the baskets and got down to business. Soon the smell of cooking fish filled the air as the chefs frantically chopped and mixed, poached and sautĂ©ed—and intermittently sprinted to the back of the stage to grab additional ingredients from a table laden with fruits and vegetables.

With only five minutes to go, the atmosphere on the stage was near chaos. Jordan watched the contestants scurrying to and from their stations, as if the clock were a time bomb. Except for Stefano. In direct contrast to the other chefs, the cocky Casanova was jovial as he tasted his dish, added more seasoning, and nonchalantly tasted again.

Maybe this guy was as good as he said, Jordan thought, watching him take one more bite before setting down his fork.

In a flash, the smile on his face disappeared and his eyes bulged open. Doubling over the table as though in severe pain, he grabbed his throat and terror flashed across his face. It took a few seconds for Jordan’s brain to register that he might be in serious trouble, but then she jumped up and ran toward him.

Before she could reach him, Stefano’s eyes rolled back in his 

head, and he fell face-first into his signature halibut dish.

And here's the fabulous Kahlua brownie recipe:

Sinfully Sweet's Chocolate Kahlua Brownies

3/4 cup cocoa, unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup melted butter, divided
1/4 cup boiling water

1/4 cup Kahlua
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, combine the cocoa and baking soda. Blend in 1/3 cup of melted butter. Add boiling water and Kahlua and stir until well blended. Stir in sugar, beaten eggs, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup of butter, then the flour and salt. Add the nuts and chocolate chips and pour the batter into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until chocolate brownies are firm and begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool before cutting into squares.

So, to get the comments started, tell me about your favorite dessert with some kind of liquor in it, or just say hey. Be sure and leave your email address with your comment so we can contact you if your name is drawn.



Jody S said...

We LOVE carmel brownies!! No alcohol in them, but so delicious :)

Barbie Jo Mahoney said...

Love the excerpt Liz! And I can't wait to try this brownie recipe. My rum balls are always a hit at holiday time, but I can't think of any other dessert I put alcohol in.

Dale T. Phillips said...

MMM- brownies and good books. Great combo! Have some snacks while reading the latest...


a phrase: OMG!

Liz Lipperman said...

Jody, I'm not a big fan of caramel, but my hubby would love those. Thanks for sharing.

Liz Lipperman said...

Barbie, I love rum balls, too. Another recipe from this book is Creme de cocoa peanut butter fudge that is to die for. And of course, Bailey's Irish Cream Truffles. Yum!

Liz Lipperman said...

Brownies and a good book. You've hit it on the head, Dale.

Liz Lipperman said...

OMG what? The recipe is awesome, Vicki. I should bring it to the next PP retreat.

Lindsay said...


Kathy Ivan said...

Hey Ms. Liz

What a great excerpt. I loved this book (I was lucky enough to get an ARC). This series just keeps getting better and better and I love that the Princesses (including me) play a tiny part in them.

Brownies -- what's not to love? Chocolate, caramel = goodness!

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Liz,
Great recipe! I might actually have to try it. :) I can hardly wait to read the book. It's in my TBR pile.

Happy Monday!

Liz Lipperman said...

Kathy, I love that you all are a part of it, too. I'll bet it's fun to see what I do with all the great plot ideas that come out of those retreats!!

Liz Lipperman said...


Liz Lipperman said...

Karilyn, hurry up and read it so you can tell me what you think. I have your latest on my TBR pile, also, so I know how hard it is to read while writing!!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Once again, has spoken. Dale Phillips will get the free copy of MFTH. Congrats, Dale. Send me your snail mail address, and I'll get that copy out to you.

Thanks for commenting, everyone. Your name will be entered to win the grand prize.

Susie R said...

I really need to speed up my reading a little so I'll be ready for this one when it comes out. I can't wait to see what kind of trouble Jordan and the gang get into at sea!

Lindsay said...

You said to leave a comment so I felt a comment

Alisha said...

OMG! I want those brownies!!! I have to make them. I love your writing, Liz!