Posts made in August, 2017

Bready or Not: Matcha White Chocolate Cookies

Posted by on Aug 23, 2017 in Blog, Bready or Not, chocolate, cookies | 0 comments

I continue the matcha-in-baked-goods theme to celebrate the release of Call of Fire last week, this time with Matcha White Chocolate Cookies.

Bready or Not: Matcha White Chocolate Cookies

The weird thing about these cookies is that the green tea’s color didn’t carry through in the baked results, but the taste is still there.

Bready or Not: Matcha White Chocolate Cookies

In fact, when my husband took these to work, a guy kept going back for more. He finally asked, “What’s in these?!”

“Green tea,” said my husband.

Bready or Not: Matcha White Chocolate Cookies

“Oh, does that make these healthy?” the man asked, making a face of disgust as he grabbed another cookie.

I won’t go so far as to say these are healthy, but these do have caffeine, and maybe those provided him with a much-needed jolt.

Bready or Not: Matcha White Chocolate Cookies

The flavor of these is unusual and hard to describe. The sweetness of the white chocolate is bold, and behind that is a mild and pleasant aftertaste from the matcha. It’s enough for you to know there is something unique about the cookies, but not to identify what it is.

Bready or Not: Matcha White Chocolate Cookies

If you want to be sure that the green color comes through in this recipe, maybe add a little bit of food dye before mixing in the white chocolate chips.

Or you may be content with your cookies coming out as mine did: pale yet undeniably delicious.

Bready or Not: Matcha White Chocolate Cookies

Bready or Not: Matcha White Chocolate Cookies

These firm-but-chewy cookies combine the fresh, mild taste of green tea with white chocolate. If you want to be certain the cookies will turn out green, add a few drops of food coloring before adding the white chocolate.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon matcha
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 cubes), softened
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips (most of a bag)

Preheat oven at 325-degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, matcha, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a big bowl, cream together the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs.

Gradually add the dry ingredients until just combined, then mix in the white chocolate.

Use a teaspoon scoop or spoon to dole out cookies on a sheet; the cookies will spread, so be sure to space them out. Bake for 13 to 14 minutes. Let set on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then move them to a rack to finish cooling.

OM NOM NOM!

Bready or Not: Matcha White Chocolate Cookies

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Bready or Not Guest: Spencer Ellsworth with Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 in Blog, Bready or Not, brownies, chocolate, gluten-free, guest, guest recipe, healthier | 0 comments

I’m happy to welcome Spencer Ellsworth with a Bready or Not guest post! His debut novel is out today. I was lucky enough to read A Red Peace a few months ago, and blurbed it: “This is space opera candy!” Seriously, if you love space opera, GET THIS. It’s fresh and fun, mixing up cozy tropes in fantastic new ways.

Which is pretty much what Spencer does with this recipe today, too. He shares a recipe for gluten-free brownies that look absolutely delicious. I bet they’d be perfect to eat in accompaniment with a brand new space opera novel…


I’m Spencer, and I have two big things in common with Beth: we both like to write a good swashbuckling adventure (here’s mine) and we both like to bake.

Unlike Beth, I have celiac disease, which means, although I bake all the time, I use gluten-free flours. I was diagnosed way back in the dark ages of 1985. I did all of elementary school in the 1980s gluten free. Let us all turn and salute my mother, who had to bake “special cupcakes” every time someone else in the class had a birthday and brought in gluten cupcakes.

*Salutes Mom*

Ahem.

Celiac disease is, like Crohn’s, arthritis and lupus, an autoimmune disease. Our immune systems, upon consumption of gluten, attack and inflame our intestinal lining, preventing the absorption of any food. Because autoimmune disease is on a spectrum, people often have reactions to gluten that are tricky to diagnose without an endoscopy or colonoscopy.

There are two great lies about gluten-free food

1) you can just substitute GF flour mix in most recipes

2) gluten-free food just doesn’t taste as good

1 isn’t true because different proteins act differently in different grains. Gluten-free flours are not sticky like wheat. You don’t need to knead any gluten-free bread product; you just need to mix the dough and let it rise. You may find certain GF flours, like sorghum or millet or brown rice, less palatable than wheat. But most celiacs can find a preferred flour mix.

Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

This picture shows plain rice flour (the fine-textured flour), a gluten-free mix, and a gluten-free pancake mix (the one with dark specks).

However, that leads me to…

2 isn’t true because there are a LOT of celiacs out there making a LOT of amazing food. But you do have to do some baking on your own. The best gluten-free food is made at home, with patience. Commercial kitchens can’t take the time and ingredients necessary.

So if you’re new to GF baking, here’s an un-ruinable recipe to start. Peruse Gluten-Free & More (formerly known as Living Without) for anything else you need, or just contact me through my website.

Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

 

Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

These are totally un-ruinable because they can be made with just about any gluten-free flour, flour mix, or pancake mix. They will have a slightly different consistency depending on the flour, but they work with anything from plain rice flour to Pamela’s pancake mix.

Your celiac friends will appreciate the attempt to make real brownies, rather than those flourless peanut butter cookies or rice krispie treats we ALWAYS get.

Make sure to clean ALL your work surfaces very well first. All counters and bowls should be scrubbed clear of any trace of gluten. Use non-porous materials like Teflon or glass. Make sure they are scrubbed completely clean of every last scrap of anything that ever contained gluten. (Even better, use the excuse to treat yourself to a new dish and new mixing bowl.)

4 eggs
1 cup sugar (add more to taste, especially if not using chocolate chips)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup cocoa powder (I much prefer the darker, richer Ghiradelli’s over the chalky Hershey’s)
1/2 cup butter, margarine or coconut oil
1/2 mushy avocado (this is weird, but it makes the whole endeavor much fluffier)
1 cup of any gluten-free flour, baking mix or pancake mix
2 tsp baking powder (if not already included in your mix)
Chocolate chips & nuts to taste

Set oven to 350.

Beat the eggs with the sugar and avocados.
Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

Melt the butter or oil in a saucepan or microwave-safe dish, and add the cocoa powder and beat until smooth.

Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

Allow the butter/cocoa powder mix to cool a bit, then mix into eggs, sugar and avocado.

Mix your flour in with the rest. Add baking powder if you simply have a basic flour mix.

Pour into a greased baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes on 350.

Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

Bready or Not Guest: Spencer Ellsworth's Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

Un-Ruinable Gluten Free Brownies

These are totally un-ruinable because they can be made with just about any gluten-free flour, flour mix, or pancake mix. They will have a slightly different consistency depending on the flour, but they work with anything from plain rice flour to Pamela’s pancake mix.

Your celiac friends will appreciate the attempt to make real brownies, rather than those flourless peanut butter cookies or rice krispie treats we ALWAYS get.

Make sure to clean ALL your work surfaces very well first. All counters and bowls should be scrubbed clear of any trace of gluten. Use non-porous materials like Teflon or glass. Make sure they are scrubbed completely clean of every last scrap of anything that ever contained gluten. (Even better, use the excuse to treat yourself to a new dish and new mixing bowl.)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (add more to taste, especially if not using chocolate chips)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder (I much prefer the darker, richer Ghiradelli’s over the chalky Hershey’s)
  • 1/2 cup butter, margarine or coconut oil
  • 1/2 mushy avocado (this is weird, but it makes the whole endeavor much fluffier)
  • 1 cup of any gluten-free flour, baking mix or pancake mix
  • 2 tsp baking powder (if not already included in your mix)
  • Chocolate chips & nuts to taste

Set oven to 350.

Beat the eggs with the sugar and avocado.

Melt the butter or oil in a saucepan or microwave-safe dish, and add the cocoa powder and beat until smooth.

Allow the butter/cocoa powder mix to cool a bit, then mix into eggs, sugar and avocado.

Mix your flour in with the rest. Add baking powder if you simply have a basic flour mix.

Pour into a greased baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes on 350.

 


Red Peace

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Spencer Elsworth’s Site

A Red Peace, first in Spencer Ellsworth’s Starfire trilogy, is an action-packed space opera in a universe where the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity and dominate the galaxy.

Half-human star navigator Jaqi, working the edges of human-settled space on contract to whoever will hire her, stumbles into possession of an artifact that the leader of the Rebellion wants desperately enough to send his personal guard after. An interstellar empire and the fate of the remnant of humanity hang in the balance.

Spencer Ellsworth has written a classic space opera, with space battles between giant bugs, sun-sized spiders, planets of cyborgs and a heroine with enough grit to bring down the galaxy’s newest warlord.

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Sunday Quote is flying back from GenCon today. Hopefully.

Posted by on Aug 20, 2017 in Blog, Quote | 0 comments

“Every book has a soul, the soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and dream about it.”
~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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Re-post: Gen Con Schedule

Posted by on Aug 16, 2017 in Blog, call of fire, public speaking | 0 comments

(If you’re looking for my Bready or Not post, I shifted it to Tuesday night so I could share it on social media before my trip! You can find my Matcha Cheesecake Bars recipe here.)

As this posts, I should be on the way to Gen Con. *knock on wood*

I have events throughout the day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. If you’re there, I hope you can take a brief break from gaming and drop into a panel or two! I will have cookies, though I don’t know how long they’ll last. If you partake in a cookie, you can also get one of my brand new ribbons to add to your badge.

The book vendor should have copies of my Clockwork Dagger duology as well as Breath of Earth and Call of Fire; follow me on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the stock on hand.

Gen Con 2017 schedule

Thursday

10:00am – 11:00am: Writer’s Craft: Characters with Disabilities Westin/Caucus
Explore ways to include characters with disabilities in your stories in a respectful and realistic way. With Gail Z. Martin, Beth Cato, Mary Robinette Kowal

3:00pm – 4:00pm: Writer’s Craft: Are You Overthinking the Story? Westin/Caucus
Climb out of the rabbit hole of self-doubt and get back to writing! Learn to identify when you’re overthinking the story. Featuring Beth Cato, Kelly McCullough, Richard Lee Byers, Toiya Finley

Friday

11:00 – 12:00pm: Writer’s Craft: Creating True Leaders Westin/Chamber
Learn to craft inspirational characters that embody the traits of a great leader! Featuring Stephen P. Kelner, Jr., Beth Cato, Richard Lee Byers, Geoffrey Girard

12:00pm – 1:00pm: Writer’s Craft: Writing a First Draft Westin/Chamber
Most writers begin with a draft. Learn how to get that first draft down, what a draft looks like, and what to do with it. Features Beth Cato, Christopher Husberg, Kelly McCullough, Toiya Finley

3:00pm – 3:45pm: The Once and Future Podcast LIVE! Westin/Chamber
Join host Anton Strout with Mercedes Lackey and Beth Cato for a live recording of this weekly geeky podcast for readers and writers that focuses on all things fantasy and SF. (Note that I need to dash out a few minutes early to make sure I make my signing at 4pm.)

4:00pm – 5:00pm: Signing (Exhibit Hall)

Saturday

12:00 – 1:00pm: Writing 101: Themes—What’s a Theme and Do You Need One? Westin/Chamber
Educators and experts always go on and on about the theme of a story, but what is it and should you worry about it? Featuring Beth Cato, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Howard Andrew Jones, Karen Bovenmyer

3:00pm – 4:00pm: Reading: Kelly McCullough & Beth Cato Westin/Congress I
Writer’s Symposium authors read from their latest works in an intimate small-room setting. Join us for this unique opportunity to experience the authors’ personal interpretations of their own works.

4:00pm – 5:00pm: Writer’s Craft: Alternate History Westin/Capitol I
Want to write a story where Rome never fell? Or where a time traveler saves Kennedy? Learn tips for writing awesome alternate history stories! Featuring Charlaine Harris, Eric Flint, Beth Cato

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Bready or Not: Matcha Green Tea Cheesecake Bars

Posted by on Aug 15, 2017 in Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, breakfast | 0 comments

I’m presenting many wonderful matcha baked goods this month, but this one, dear readers, is the most delicious. The most divine. The most appropriate way to celebrate the release of Call of Fire.

Bready or Not: Matcha Green Tea Cheesecake Bars

My husband takes most all of my baked goods to work. These Matcha Cheesecake Bars earned a rare and vociferous response.

To directly quote, with expletives replaced Mad Lib style to make this work-safe and kid-safe:
“She needs to laminate that [noun for excrement].”
“Those were [verb for copulation, -ing] on point.”

Yeah. This recipe is a winner.

Bready or Not: Matcha Green Tea Cheesecake Bars

Plus, these bars are ridiculously easy to make. You make a crust. Mix up some green cheesecake. Do some layering and swirling.

Bready or Not: Matcha Green Tea Cheesecake Bars

Mind you, I’m not a big cheesecake person, but thanks to the cookie-like crust, these are not rich like standard cheesecakes. You really get the best of everything here, and the matcha powder adds a wonderful fresh flavor and a lovely green tint.

Bready or Not: Matcha Green Tea Cheesecake Bars

Do note that the type of green tea you use may produce different results. I used a Rishi sweet green tea blend that includes sugar, making it ideal for lattes or baked goods. [Addendum: Readers have baked this recipe using standard matcha powder and have been delighted with the results! So use whatever green tea you have handy. If you want it sweeter, just add a touch more sugar.]

Bready or Not: Matcha Green Tea Cheesecake Bars

I plan on re-making this with a variety of teas. Look for another version of this recipe in the coming months!

Adapted from Every Day Dishes.

Bready or Not: Matcha Green Tea Cheesecake Bars

Bready or Not: Matcha Green Tea Cheesecake Bars

This incredible recipe will please cheesecake lovers and convert non-cheesecake eaters as well. Note that different green teas may produce different results in taste and tint; sweet matcha powder will obviously contain more natural sweetness, but the recipe turns out well when standard matcha is used, too.

  • Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 Tb unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tb vanilla extract
  • Cheesecake layer
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tb unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tb all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tb matcha (sweet or regular)
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven at 325-degrees. Line an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, cream together the softened butter and brown sugar for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs and the vanilla extract, followed by the combined dry ingredients.

Use an uneven spatula to smooth out HALF of the batter in the prepared pan. Place the other half in another bowl for now. Clean the mixing bowl before the next stage, if desired.

To make the cheesecake layer, beat together the softened cream cheese, sugar, butter, flour, and matcha powder. Mix in the egg and vanilla until it is mostly smooth.

Pour about HALF of the cream cheese mix on top of the batter in the pan and smooth it out. Dollop the remaining crust and cheesecake batters over the top, and use a butter knife to swirl them together.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test in the middle. Let cool at room temperature for an hour, then place in fridge to continue chill and set for another hour or two.

Lift it up by the aluminum foil and place on a cutting board to slice into bars. Store in a lidded container in fridge, with waxed paper or parchment between stacked layers.

OM NOM NOM!

 

Bready or Not: Matcha Green Tea Cheesecake Bars

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