Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hunter Moon Book Tour and Giveaway: Enter to Win an Autographed Book and a $25 Amazon Gift Code! US/CAN #HunterMoonBookTour



Hunter Moon (Lupine Moon Series) by Cait Lavender


Bawling cattle tore Shelby Flint from her bed. With lawyer fees to pay in her struggle to keep her ranch from the clutches of her greedy cousins, she couldn’t afford the loss of even one calf. When she sees a large wolf circling her cows, she aims and fires.

While the wolf escapes, Shelby can’t seem to get away from her troubles when a marijuana grower sets up shop on her land, sabotaging her property and eventually coming after her. Adding to that, a handsome game warden is poking his nose into her business and working his way underneath her skin. Shelby will have to fight harder than she ever fought before to keep from losing heart and everything she ever loved.

Buy it on Kindle / Nook/ Smashwords

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Follow the Tour


Want to win one of 5 Autographed Books and a $25 Amazon Gift Code? Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter! Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on April 20, 2012.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (March 31, 2012)

It's the weekend! And that means it's time for another Super Saturday Giveaway Linky! If you're hosting some awesome giveaways on your blog (or even some that need a little love), be sure to submit them to the linky below and then tweet this page and post it on Facebook! If you're just here to try to win some great prizes, you've come to the right place! Be sure to check my right sidebar under CURRENT GIVEAWAYS. I have a whole lotta prizes to give away!



Have Easter Dinner Delivered to Your Doorstep from Schwan’s!

My Easter dinner shopping and cooking is going to be a breeze this year because I just got a fabulous shipment from Schwan’s Home Delivery! They have everything you need to prepare a delicious Easter dinner for your family. My delivery included a sliced ham; au gratin potatoes; green peas; a triple berry, apple and rhubarb pie with vanilla sauce; and vanilla ice cream! I am so excited to turn these items into this:


My mother-in-law is visiting from Alaska, and when she saw the food arrive from Schwan’s, she got so excited. She said that her sister in Nebraska orders food from Schwan’s all the time, and absolutely loves their food and service!

I had never heard of Schwan’s Home Delivery service, so I headed over to the Schwan’s website to check it out. All I can say is “Wow!” I couldn’t believe the huge variety of items they sell: fruits and veggies, meat, seafood, desserts, beverages, ice cream, appetizers, pizza and pasta, side dishes, entrees, and more! In fact, they have more than 350 frozen food options that come right to your door. There’s even a loyalty program for repeat customers.

Get started with Schwan’s by ordering your Easter dinner! They also sell gift cards that would make a perfect gift for an older or disabled person who has a hard time getting out to shop. I hope you’ll visit www.schwans.com today!



Have an Egg-stra Special Easter with Nestlé Seasonal Candy!

Everyone knows that an Easter basket just wouldn’t be complete without some delicious chocolate! I love to look at all of the new chocolate Easter items they have at Target each year. This year, I spotted an adorable Nestlé Crunch Paul Frank Bunny! It comes in the shape of Paul Frank’s classic monkey character, Julius, but with bunny ears! Check it out below…
I love how it comes in such a colorful package, too. It will definitely catch my kids’ eyes when they spy their Easter baskets! If you’d like to pick up a Nestlé Crunch Paul Frank Bunny, too, be sure to head to Target because it’s an exclusive item there.

Of course, Nestlé has plenty of other wonderful selections for Easter. If you’re a Butterfinger fan, you’ll want to get the Nestlé Butterfinger Bunny, which is made of solid milk chocolate with Butterfinger pieces scattered throughout. How yummy is that?!

But even if you’re not a chocolate fan, don’t despair. Nestlé has you covered, as well, with their SweeTARTS Gummies (shaped like bunnies!); SweeTARTS Chicks, Ducks and Bunnies; WONKA Golden Egg Hunt (pre-assembled Easter eggs stuffed with SweeTARTS, Laffy Taffy, and Nerds); SweeTARTS Jelly Beans; and much more! I’d love to try the Blue Punch flavor of SweeTARTS Jelly Beans! If you like to fill plastic eggs for an egg hunt, Nestlé makes WONKA Egg Fillers, which are individually wrapped packages of candy that are perfectly sized to fit inside plastic eggs.

An Easter basket just isn’t complete without some scrumptious treats from Nestlé. Visit www.Wonka.com or www.NestleUSA.com to learn more about these seasonal delights, and head out to the store to stock up on them today!



Book Review: Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 7th Edition


When I was pregnant, I always found it so fascinating to read about what was going on inside my body during those 9 months. In the early months especially, when there wasn’t much visible going on from the outside (except maybe my green complexion from nausea), it was hard to believe that so much activity was going on inside. A really great resource for finding out all this fascinating information is the book, Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 7th Edition,by Glade B. Curtis, M.D., M.P.H. and Judith Schuler, M.S.

Not only does it talk about your baby’s growth and development, but it goes into great detail about what’s happening with YOU! From migraines to stress incontinence, the authors leave no pregnancy topic unturned. You’ll also find out what tests you can expect from your doctor along the way, exercises you can do, and even tips for Dad! It would take me pages to describe all of the comprehensive content contained in Your Pregnancy Week by Week. So, just take my word for it…

If you’re planning a future pregnancy, trying to conceive, or even already pregnant, this book is a valuable resource for everything baby- and mommy-related. It should be required reading for every pregnant woman (and her partner)!

HEADS UP! Be sure to join me on Sunday, April 1, for the start of the Oh Baby Baby Giveaway Hop when I’ll be giving away a copy of Your Pregnancy Week by Week as part of an amazing giveaway package!





Exclusive Interview with Ashland Menshouse, Author of "The Last Seer and the Tomb of Enoch"

What is this book about?

Five mismatched teens in Appalachia, who’ve just entered high school, stumble upon a hidden battle between a Bigfoot and a ghost over a tomb of buried angels, known as Watchers. The new band of friends has to figure out who is on the side of right and who is evil, and stop their town from falling apart. It’s a little bit spooky, but it’s mostly adventure and lots of fun.

How did you get the idea for this book?

Two important aspects of my life are my faith and my pursuit of scientific study. And although truth and understanding can be found from both of these, there are still things in our world that are inexplicable and possibly incomprehensible. I enjoy thinking about those things, which we understand so very little. So a book where everyday kids find themselves struggling against the unknown to solve a mystery was fun for me to write.

When did you start writing? Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

I’ve been writing since middle school, but mostly poetry when I was younger. When I was in post-secondary school, I focused more on my studies and wrote little for fun. Now that I’m older and settled, it was the perfect time to write larger works. It took me a little more than two years to write this book, my first.

My advice for beginning writers is never give up. Put your helmet on, keep your nose to the floor and keep moving forward, no matter what anyone tells you.

Why did you decide to write a book in this genre?

I work with ill and injured children, so writing books for children and teens has become a natural branch of my main passion. Also, I’ve always been a huge fan of science fiction and adventure fantasy, so it was easier for me to write what I enjoy.

Do you plan a sequel or future books?

Yes. I’ve nearly completed the second book, The Last Guardian and the Keeper of the Magi, and I’m already plot-planning for the third book, The Last Nazirite and the Shadow Light.

Do you have a website? How can we order this book?

Visit www.hoaker-croaker.com, plenty of information and links available there. My book is available in hardcover, paperback and e-reader at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.






DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wean Green Glass Storage Containers: Eco-Friendly, Recyclable, and BPA-Free!

There has been a lot of discussion about the dangers of BPAs in plastic products. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but when given a choice, I pick BPA-free products over others. And I’m always yelling at my husband not to microwave food in plastic containers! So, I was really excited for the opportunity to review Wean Green products. They:
  • Are made from 100% recyclable glass
  • Come in very small sizes, which makes them perfect for baby food or school lunches
  • Have an easy-to-open clip lock system.
  • Are leak-proof and stain-proof
  • Are almost unbreakable as they’re made from tempered safety glass
  • Come in 5 different sizes and 4 different colors
Take a look at all of the amazing Wean Green storage containers we received! I am so impressed with these containers. They’re cute, eco-friendly, and extremely well made. I love using them in my children’s lunch bags, and I don’t have to yell at my husband when he puts the glass container in the microwave oven! We had actually been searching for smaller sizes of storage containers, so we were thrilled to find them through Wean Green. They’re perfect for parents who make their own baby food! And I love that they don’t get stained inside like our plastic containers.

Visit www.weangreen.com to learn more about these amazing glass storage containers and locate a retailer near you. Wedding season is coming up, and these would make great gifts!



Recipe: Candy Popcorn Easter Eggs

By Dennis Weaver, The Prepared Pantry

Make adorable popcorn balls that don't just look great, but taste fabulous as well. These popcorn eggs make the perfect Easter treat, and kids will love to form the balls.

We made these Easter eggs with Marsden and Bathe Flavors such as huckleberry, green apple, apricot, cherry, blueberry, and root beer. Experimenting with flavors is half the fun.

We then used Americolor food coloring gels to make our Easter eggs bright and festive. These colors are nine times more concentrated than liquid food gels and they come in 27 colors, so you can make endless varieties.

How to make candy popcorn:

3/4 cup un-popped popcorn kernels
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup white corn syrup (Karo)
1/4 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons desired flavor
3-4 drops of Americolor food coloring gel or equal

1. Pop the popcorn kernels with a popcorn popper. Set aside in 2 large bowls.

2. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan.

3. Add the corn syrup and water. Stir.

4. Add the sugar. Make sure not to let any sugar stick to the edges of the pan. If one grain of sugar is left un-dissolved, it can cause the whole batch to crystallize.

5. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 235-245 degrees. (Please use a candy thermometer). It is important for the mixture to reach this temperature, if it doesn’t the candy will not harden properly.

6. Add the baking soda and stir quickly as the mixture begins to bubble. Once bubbly and frothy, remove the pan from heat.

7. Add the flavor and food coloring until mixed in.

8. Pour over the popped popcorn in both bowls. Fold into the popcorn until evenly coated.

9. Once the popcorn has cooled slightly, take a handful and squeeze it in your hands to form an egg shape.

Tip: If you plan on making several different flavors/colors of popcorn, do them all in separate batches. If you were to separate the mixture after cooking a large batch and add color/flavor to each, the mixture will have cooled too much and you will not achieve the right temperature for making candy popcorn.

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry. He is the author of How to Bake, a 250 page book about the art and science of baking. You can download a free copy of How to Bake by clicking on the banner below.

The Prepared Pantry

DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Celebrate Chick-fil-A’s New Kid’s Meals with the Old School Fun Blog App! #GIVEAWAY

At Chick-fil-A, they care about the physical development of every child they reach with their Kid’s Meal program, which is why they’re making their entrees healthier by offering one of the nation’s most nutritious kid’s meals! Their NEW nutritious menu options include:
  • Grilled Nuggets
  • Buddy Fruits® Pure Blended Fruit To Go applesauce
Chick-fil-A hopes that their new Kid’s Meals will help fuel some active family fun in the great outdoors, so they’ve introduced their Old School Fun blog app with classic old school games for the family and a fun throwback quiz! Spin the wheel to get an endless amount of Old School Fun and games for the entire family! And take the Old School Fun Quiz! Are you a disco-dynamo or the bomb dot com? You’re just a spin away from creating awesome family memories!



Chick-fil-A is also celebrating their new healthier Kid’s Meals by offering the following great giveaway for YOU! Read on…

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive a pack of three Free Chick-fil-A Kid’s Meals! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends on Sunday, April 8, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST.

CONTEST CLOSED. Congratulations to the winner: carolwegs!

Exclusive Interview with Bruce Jenvey, Author of "Angela’s Coven"

What is this book about?
Angela’s Coven is about a modern-day witch who risks all to save an aging rock star from his unfortunate deal with the devil. Don’t worry, this is not a horror novel that will give you bad dreams and violent urges. Angela’s Coven will make you laugh, cry, laugh, and cry again, but most important, it will cast a different light on anything you may have ever considered as faith. This is a story about second chances, starting over and doing so for all the right reasons. My 12-year-old granddaughter read it with no adverse effects. (She’d also read all the Twilight books and the Hunger Games series.) My 80-year-old mother-in-law read it as well. Both (and many more in between) loved it!

Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?

It’s my first published novel, and that means fiction. For years, I wrote national advertising copy for the automotive industry. Then I owned a travel and history magazine for boaters here in the Great Lakes. In those days, I did publish two books, but they were all about places to go, things to do, and restaurants not to miss. (Yawn.) In the past few years, I turned my interest to fiction, something I always wanted to try, but it takes a great deal of courage. I started with what I thought was a short story (turns out it was a novella), and then a longer one, and then a longer one. I was planning to put these into a book that would be a collection of similar stories when story #4 (Reggie, it was called) “became” Angela’s Coven, and my reading circle went crazy over it.

When did you start writing? Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I’ve been writing ever since I could read, and since I’m from a family of teachers, that was early on. I remember reading books in grade school and usually thinking one of two things: 1) What a great story that was! or 2) I could write a better one than that! When I was younger, I kept most of my writings to myself. They weren’t very good and usually generated a lot of laughter. The only problem is they were dramas! Once in high school, I became a lot more serious about my writing. I had an English teacher who felt writing was the best way to get command of the language, so we wrote all the time. He encouraged me greatly. In college, writing those term papers was a snap for me, and once out, I ventured into advertising and marketing only to have someone say: “Hey, you can write! You should be in the Creative Department!” Forty years later, here I am!

What advice can I give to young writers? First, don’t give up. Fiction is the hardest thing in the world to write. It’s all you and your concept of what entertaining can be. People are going to laugh at your efforts. It’s going to happen! But if you remember just one thing, the MOST important thing: Tell ʼem a story! That’s why they’re here and what they came for. They want you to tell them a GOOD story. A finely crafted, well-worded tale of little consequence is nothing but an exercise in how well you can follow the rules. It’s boring. Break some rules, but do so while telling them a story that will make them laugh, or cry, or sleep with the lights on, or imagine themselves as the hero. Tell them a story they can’t forget. That’s what it’s all about. And by the way, all those people who laughed at me? I now have more published novels than they have combined! One. But it’s one more than they have. Keep writing! And when you think you’ve run out of ideas, face another direction and tell them what you see over there.

How did you get the idea for this book? Why did you decide to write a book in this genre?
I have always been fascinated by the paranormal and found myself researching where a lot of our commonly accepted myths and legends got their start. I began to ask myself “why” and “what if” questions about our cultural pasts and discovered it was often harder to accept the long-standing myth than it was to draw my own logical conclusions. To put that more simply: My wife is a big-time angel collector, but who said angels have to have wings and fly around in the holy limelight? What if they were more like us? And the devil, Lucifer … What if he weren’t the perfect example of evil? I mean, what if he had faults and flaws of his own? Everybody does!

But it was the witches that interested me the most. I love Halloween, I really do! Great time of year, great imagery and legends ... but what if we had it all wrong? Did you know that the first women who were labeled “witches” were nothing more than midwives practicing home remedies and what we would today call holistic medicine? But it was the Dark Ages, and there were other motivations afoot that I won’t get into here. The bottom line is that the midwives were vilified as WITCHES to give the physicians (all men, by the way) the upper hand in the health care business. Really! All this “in league with the devil” crap was just that … crap.

In MY fictional world, there is a constant struggle between good and evil, but it’s the witches who are caught in the middle trying to make their own way in the world and not taking sides. My witches don’t have magic wands and don’t wear pointy hats. This is all alchemy and chemistry.

Do you plan a sequel or future books?
This is only the first in a series of books about the Cabbottown Witches. The second book, The Great Northern Coven, is scheduled to be released October 19, 2012, and I am currently working on Book #3, The Ragtime Coven. In each story, it’s the coven and whoever may be a member at the current time that is the continuing character. Angela’s Coven is set in modern-day NYC and upstate New York. The Great Northern Coven is a parallel story that takes place in Alaska and involves bush pilots and Native American beliefs. (It ties very nicely to the witches of my Cabbottown, NY. You’ll have to read it to see how!) The Ragtime Coven will be a prequel and tell the earlier story of the Cabbottown Coven and how Angela got the way she is. A total of five books are planned at this time.

Do you have a website? How can we order this book?
Angela’s Coven is currently only available in e-book format (paperback will be released by fall!). It is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, I-Books, as well as many other e-book retailers, including my publisher’s page: www.museituppublishing.com. You can find the major links and the latest news on my page: www.covenbooks.com. And, of course, you can find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/angelascoven. Enjoy!





DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links.

MIRROR MIRROR Giveaway: Win a Fandango Gift Card and a Movie Storybook!

I’m really excited to see the movie, MIRROR MIRROR. It arrives in theaters this weekend, on March 30th, and it looks like a movie that my kids and I will all enjoy! Julia Roberts stars as the Evil Queen who sets out to get rid of the more beautiful Snow White, played by Lily Collins. The previews show lots of hilarious scenes and fun action for a whole new twist on the classic tale! Check out the trailer below:



[Email subscribers, please click on the title of this post to view the video online.]

I love that Julia Roberts is playing such a comedic part and poking a little fun at herself. It looks like she did an incredible job in the role of the Evil Queen! I hope your plans for this weekend include going to see MIRROR MIRROR. You can learn more about MIRROR MIRROR at www.mirrormirrorfilm.com!

GIVEAWAY

One (1) winner will receive:
$25 Fandango Gift Card
Mirror Mirror: The Movie Storybook

Three (3) additional winners will receive a copy of Mirror Mirror: The Movie Storybook

Prizing courtesy of Relativity Media.
Giveaway open to US mailing addresses only.

To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Celebrate Easter with a Dinosaur Train Egg Holder and a DVD Giveaway! US/CAN

Here are some great ways for your children to celebrate Easter with their friends from the hit PBS KIDS show, Dinosaur Train! Yes, Buddy, his Pteranodon family, and all his dinosaur friends love Easter, too, and they have a couple of great ways that you can celebrate right along with them!

First, when you’re coloring your Easter eggs for the holiday, you can place them in a Dinosaur Train egg holder! Just download the pattern for FREE, color it and put it together, and you’ll have an adorable Dinosaur Train Egg Holder! CLICK HERE for your free template.

Second, enjoy the day by watching the DINOSAUR TRAIN: EGGSTRAVAGANZA DVD! In this exciting adventure, Buddy and his Pteranodon family encounter baby hatchlings and dinosaur eggs of all shapes and sizes. They learn that all dinosaur families are different, and so are the ways of nurturing them. And they might just solve a mystery or two while they’re at it! The DINOSAUR TRAIN: EGGSTRAVAGANZA DVD includes eight exciting shows and is packed with lots of special features, including interactive games, coloring pages, and a Dinosaur Reference Guide.

Check your local listings to find out when the hit television series Dinosaur Train airs on your local PBS KIDS® station. And be sure to keep up on all Dinosaur Train news by following the links below.

Follow The Jim Henson Company:
www.facebook.com/hensoncompany
www.twitter.com/hensonparents

Follow PBS Kids:
www.twitter.com/pbskids
www.facebook.com/pbskids

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive the DVD, DINOSAUR TRAIN: EGGSTRAVAGANZA! To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. There are no mandatory entries. The more items you complete, the more entries you receive. This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only, and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

It’s Cheesecake Paradise at Cheesecake.com!

If you’re a fan of cheesecake, you’ll be in cheesecake heaven at Cheesecake.com! Check out some of the scrumptious flavors of cheesecake they carry:

Amaretto Cheesecake
Crème Brulee Cheesecake
New York Cheesecake
Praline Cheesecake
Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Strawberry Cheesecake
Turtle Cheesecake
White Chocolate Cheesecake

Honestly, if someone brought me one of their Cheesecake Samplers, I wouldn’t know which flavor to try first! They all sound incredible. They also have a really nice selection of cheesecake recipes on Cheesecake.com for even more wonderful cheesecakes like Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake and Caramel Apple Pie Cheesecake. Yum! And they carry cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, and whoopie pies, too! Their products make fabulous gifts, and they guarantee 100% customer satisfaction. If you’re looking for a unique and delicious dessert to serve or want to send something special to a loved one, visit Cheesecake.com!



An Excellent Dairy Milk Alternative: Good Karma Flax Milk!

There’s nothing better on a bowl of cereal than milk, but for people who have problems with dairy products, lactose intolerance, allergies or gluten, that may not be an option. Thankfully, Good Karma has an excellent alternative: Flax Milk! Good Karma’s Flax Milk is dairy-, lactose-, allergen- and gluten-free, as well as suitable for vegan diets and free of trans-fat and soy. Each serving also contains 1200mg of Omega-3, a fatty acid that helps to prevent heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. I have a family history of osteoporosis, so I was excited to learn that Flax Milk is also as rich in calcium as dairy milk. But, of course, to be a suitable substitute, it has to taste good … so my family tried it!

Good Karma was kind enough to send us all three flavors of Good Karma Flax Milk: Original, Unsweetened, and Vanilla. Guess what? We finished them all! My husband was especially enamored of the taste of Flax Milk. He drank it straight, as well as on cereal and in smoothies. The kids and I found it to be delicious, too. I can’t say that it tastes like regular milk, but it’s delicious all the same, and a great option for people who can’t tolerate or don’t care for cow’s milk.

If you fall into one of those categories, I hope you’ll give Good Karma’s Flax Milk a try. Sneak it into a smoothie for your kids and see what they think! Chances are good that they’ll drink it all up! You can find Good Karma Flax Milk at Whole Foods, as well as other natural food and grocery stores. Learn more at www.goodkarmafoods.com.



Delicious Easter Brunch Recipes from ALDI!

Several months ago, I shared some of the great products and bargains I found at ALDI. Now, I’m pleased to let you know that preparing Easter brunch has never been easier, or more affordable, thanks to ALDI! Straight from the ALDI Test Kitchen, you’ll find brunch-menu inspiration with these two exclusive ALDI recipes -- Sunnyside Breakfast Casserole and Baked French Toast with Orange. Add ALDI exclusive brand Appleton Farms Sliced Spiral Ham, Beaumont Coffee and Nature’s Nectar 100% Pure Florida Orange Juice, along with some fresh fruit, for a complete and delicious homemade brunch. Yum yum! (And while you’re at ALDI, don’t forget to pick up some terrific Easter basket goodies for the kids!)

Sunnyside Breakfast Casserole
Recipe courtesy of Chef Michelle Schmidt, ALDI Test Kitchen
Serves 20

• 7 each Season’s Choice Frozen Hash Brown Patties
• 1 bag Little Salad Bar Flat Leaf Spinach, sliced
• 1/2 bag (9 patties) Breakfast Best Pre Cooked Sausage Patties, Original
• 1 bag Happy Farms Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
• 12 Goldhen Large Eggs
• 3/4 cup Friendly Farms Half and Half
• 5 medium tomatoes, ends removed and sliced into quarters
• 2 tbsp Stonemill Essentials Parsley Flakes
• 1½ tsp Stonemill Essentials Salt
• 1 tsp Stonemill Essentials Ground Black Pepper

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350° and coat 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. Pan-fry the hash brown patties in a skillet according to packaging directions. Once fried and cooled, crumble the patties and evenly spread them into the baking dish.
3. Microwave the sausage patties for 40 seconds and then crumble them.
4. Evenly top the hash browns with the sliced spinach. Follow with the sausage, and 2½ cups of the cheese.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, salt and pepper. Pour over the casserole and pat down the mixture with a flat spatula.
6. Evenly top with the sliced tomato and sprinkle with remaining cheese and parsley.
7. Bake 45 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Baked French Toast with Orange
Recipe courtesy of Chef Alyssa, ALDI Test Kitchen
Serves 10-12

• 16 oz L’oven Fresh Sandwich Bread, any flavor, toasted
• 4 Goldhen Eggs
• 24 oz Friendly Farms Hazelnut Coffee Creamer
• 8 oz Nature’s Nectar 100% Pure Florida Orange Juice
• 1/4 cup Baker’s Corner Brown Sugar
• 1/4 cup Baker’s Corner Granulated White Sugar
• 1 tsp Stonemill Essentials Ground Cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp Stonemill Essentials Ground Nutmeg
• 1 tsp Stonemill Essentials Pure Vanilla
• Zest and juice from 1 orange
• 2 cups Millville Natural Granola
• 1/2 cup Countryside Butter, softened
• Cooking spray

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 60-90 minutes
Total Time: 70-100 minutes

Directions:
1. Prep the day before and refrigerate overnight before baking.
2. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
3. Layer slices of toasted bread in the baking dish.
4. Whisk together eggs, creamer, orange juice, sugars, spices, vanilla and orange zest and juice.
5. Pour mixture over bread. Make sure it covers all pieces and press down gently if needed.
6. Mix together butter and granola and spread over top.
7. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
8. Preheat oven to 350°.
9. Bring to room temperature, remove plastic cover and bake for 60 minutes covered in foil.
10. Remove foil and bake for 15-30 minutes until casserole bounces back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean.
11. Top should be golden brown.
12. Top with Berryhill Pancake Syrup and serve with Breakfast Best Pre-Cooked Sausage Patties.

Exclusive Interview with Rasana Atreya, Author of “Tell a Thousand Lies”

About this book: In a culture where skin color can determine one’s destiny, fraternal twins Pullamma and Lata are about to embark on a journey that will tear their lives apart. Dark-skinned Pullamma dreams of being a wife. She is aware that with three girls in the family, there isn’t enough dowry to go around. But a girl can hope. Fair-skinned and pretty Lata would rather study medicine. Unable to grasp the depth of Lata’s desire, Grandma formalizes a wedding alliance for the girl. Lata ends up poor, uneducated and married to a man she cannot abide. Pullamma, meanwhile, is living Lata’s dream -- she is rich, powerful, and married to a good man. The only hitch, from Pullamma’s point of view, is that she cannot acknowledge her husband in public. And, oh, the fact that superstitious villagers think she is Goddess. Tell a Thousand Lies is a sometimes wry, sometimes sad, but mostly realistic look at how superstition, and the color of a girl’s skin, rules India’s hinterlands.

What is this book about?

The book is a lot of things, actually. It is about the racism inherent in Indian society (though it is not thought to be an issue). It is about superstition, about women, about corruption in politics. I’ve tried to use humor to keep it from being a serious book.

How did you get the idea for this book?

Indian television is overrun with commercials from the manufacturers of skin lightening creams, called fairness creams in India, that promise everything from good grades to nirvana, if only you use their particular brand of product. Hence my tongue-in-cheek tagline for the book: Fairness Cream: Finding Solutions to Life’s Vexing Problems, One Application at a Time.

Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?

The first that I have published, yes. But I do have another completed manuscript, and a couple more in various stages.

When did you start writing? Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

I quit my job in IT because my timings and kids didn’t go together. Writing had been my first love, so after I quit my 9-to-5 job, I went back to it.

Don’t be in a hurry to get your book out there. Polish your book till you can polish no more. Keep in mind that you get only one shot at a debut novel.

Why did you decide to write a book in this genre?

The commercials I talk about really bothered me though I am not a dark-skinned woman. Only recently it occurred to me that in our family, skin color was never an issue -- Dad was light-skinned, Mom was not. Never gave it a thought. For this reason I’m completely baffled by how color-obsessed we Indians are as a nation.

Do you plan a sequel or future books?

I do have a couple more books planned. Not sure of the sequence, or if one of them might be a sequel. Once I start writing, my characters take over, and I have no control over the storyline.

Do you have a website? How can we order this book?

http://ow.ly/9A83N [Amazon US]
http://ow.ly/9AJit [Amazon UK]
My website: http://rasanaatreya.com
My blog: http://rasanaatreya.wordpress.com
My video trailer: http://youtu.be/DMuo8cw0B1g

Listen to the Inspirational Song, “Rise,” by the McClain Sisters for the Upcoming Disneynature Film, “Chimpanzee”!

Several times, I’ve seen the trailer for the upcoming Disneynature film, Chimpanzee. Not only do the story and photography look amazing, but now I’m excited about the music, too! I just watched the following video of the McClain Sisters singing “Rise,” a song they wrote and performed for Chimpanzee. China Anne McClain is the talented star of Disney Channel’s hit series A.N.T. Farm, and she sings along with her sisters, Lauryn and Sierra. Check it out!


[Email subscribers, please click on the title of this post to view the video online.]

More about this song: “Rise” is the latest Disney Friends for Change anthem. With the motivating lyrics “Together we can do anything,” the song captures the central message of the program: When kids and families work together, they can inspire each other and their communities to make a lasting, positive change in the world. “Rise” is the fourth Friends for Change anthem to be released with a benefit back to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. This contribution marks nearly $1 million awarded through the music campaign to charities working to protect the planet and conserve nature for future generations.

I’m really excited to see Chimpanzee with my children when it arrives in theaters on April 20th. I hope you’ll see it, too, and use it as an opportunity to talk with your children about saving endangered species like chimpanzees! And be sure to “Like” Chimpanzee on Facebook at Facebook.com/Disneynature.



DISCLAIMER: No products or compensation were provided for this post.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Exclusive Interview with Dave Custance, Author of “Sammy Knows It All: Singing Through Adversity”

How did you get the idea for Sammy Knows It All?
I was inspired to write this book while my sister Wendy was in the hospital in the ICU after a routine “outpatient” surgery had serious complications, and she had to be revived on the operating table. My grandmother and I spent almost three weeks at the hospital hoping for her recovery, and I spent a lot of time reflecting on my sister’s life and on our childhood. I realized that she really had an incredible life, full of obstacles and adversity, yet she has always been the most positive and inspiring person you’ll ever meet. This prompted me to write her story, which proved to be a very inspirational tale about an amazing girl who’s lived an incredible life. The story also includes many funny stories from our childhood and shows how truly special our brother-sister relationship is.

Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?
Yes, this is my first book. I started another book about eight or nine years ago to help young boys cope with life who are growing up in a household without a dad or some male figure in their life, but I never finished it. Maybe now that I have a completed book under my belt, it’s time to dust it off and finish it.

When did you start writing? Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I started writing stories in elementary school and, in fact, I recently came across some of the stories I wrote as a young boy that my mom had saved all these years. (I’m 49 now.) English and Journalism were always my favorite subjects in school.

As for advice for beginning writers... All I can say is that it has never been easier for a writer to write a book, publish it, and promote it than it is today. You can either do it yourself, as I am trying to do, or you can find all the help you need through the internet. My best advice is “Don't get discouraged by all of the naysayers out there who talk about how hard it is to get your books in bookstores or to get reviews, etc. It’s not hard at all... It just takes some serious footwork.”

Why did you decide to write a book in this genre?
I decided to write this book to honor my sister, with the hopes that someday she might be able to do what she loves best, which is make people laugh and help them feel better when they’re having a tough time. She is now on medical disability and cannot hold down a job. I think that if Ellen or Oprah or Rosie get a hold of this book, they might want to have Wendy on their show, and it will give her some purpose in her life. I also have visions of she and I doing a book-signing tour all over the country. This would get her out of the house and give her some excitement in her life again.

Do you plan on writing any future books?
Of course! This has been a fantastic experience, and I’m learning more about the whole process every day. My hope is that I can eventually do this for a living and become a full-time writer, which has been my dream ever since I was little.

Do you have a website? How can we order this book?
The website is www.sammyknowsitall.com, but it is really rough and I created it myself simply as an avenue for people to order the book. It needs a lot of work, which I plan to do soon. So far, the website is the only way to purchase the book.