Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Summer Love by Amy Vastine and Carol Ross

Summer is our season! And with the dog days approaching, Amy and I thought we’d share some of the things we love about this much-anticipated, way-too-short and splendidly sun-kissed time of year.

Amy - Sleep. My “real” job is in a middle school, so one of the things I love about summer is summer vacation obviously. My 5:45 AM alarm is turned off and I wear pajamas as long as I want!

Carol – Daylight. Flowers are blooming, trees are thick with leaves, grass is green and lush. With the longer hours of daylight I’m torn between whether to head to the beach or up to the mountains because they are both calling my name.

Amy - Sweets. I love sweets. I think I wrote a whole blog on my sugar addiction. Summer thankfully brings the best berries, the tastiest watermelon, and delicious sweet corn. I get to satisfy my sweet tooth while eating fruits and veggies - what more could I ask for?

Carol – Babies. Animals, that is. Where we live, wildlife friends are visiting almost daily with their new babies – fawns, elk calves, bunnies, ducklings and goslings. Swallows are nesting right outside my window. I can barely stand all this fuzzy cuteness!

Amy - The lake. My husband and I are boating people. We love spending time on the water during the summer. My book club is headed up to Wisconsin later this month and we plan to spend the whole weekend on Lake Camelot, soaking up the sun and doing some tubing. Should be hilarious!

Carol – BBQ’s. (I think these are more typically called “cook-outs” in other parts of the country/world.) Here we call gathering together, grilling up something delicious, and eating outside “barbecues.” Throw in some badminton, Frisbee, or whiffle ball and all is right in my summer world.

Amy - Book birthdays. This summer, my new series, Grace Note Records, begins with the release of The Girl He Used to Love. I can’t wait to share this story with the world, so much so that I’ve begun posting a prequel called The Boy Who Broke Her Heart on Wattpad. Feel free to check it out HERE.

To get you all in the summer spirit, we thought we’d share a couple of our favorite summer recipes. They’re certain to bring a little sunshine your way.

Amy - In my new Heartwarming, the heroine bakes cookies for all the big events in her small town of Grass Lake (see how I managed to get my love of lakes and sweets in there). The book is also set in the summer, so I thought I would share one of Faith’s famous cookie recipes. Did I mention that they are all alcohol-inspired? Oh, they all have a little kick, so eat them responsibly!

Salty/Sweet Margarita Cookies with Tequila Glaze
Cookies:
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup  butter, softened
Green Food Coloring
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon finely grated lime peel
1 teaspoon Orange Extract
1/2 cup sanding sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Tequila Glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon tequila (can be omitted and replaced with another T of water)

Mix flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, lime peel, extract and food coloring; mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a log 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper.



Refrigerate at least 1 hour.



Preheat oven 350°F. Mix sanding sugar and coarse salt. Roll each cold dough log in mixture to coat evenly. Cut dough into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place on ungreased baking sheets. If desired sprinkle a bit of additional sugar and salt mixture on tops.



Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Cool on baking sheets 1 minute. Place cookies on wire racks to cool completely.



Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies. If desired, sprinkle lightly with salt/sugar mixture. Let stand until glaze is set.

Carol – Summer in the PNW means berries! We grow some of the best in the world, and one of my favorites is the blackberry. And here in the Northwest we have an especially delicious native blackberry, too. They’re much smaller, sweeter, and delicate than the fat, firm, shiny berries you typically see in the grocery store. The location of prime patches is so secret that locals know better than to even bother to ask where you picked them for fear of being sent on a wild goose chase. And it’s no wonder, they usually sell for between $40 and $80 a gallon depending on availability in a particular year. For this recipe, any berry or combo of berries will work (a mix of blackberry, blueberry, raspberry is amazing).

Berry Cobbler
Filling:
8 cups berries 1 Tbs lemon juice
¾ cup sugar ½ tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs flour

Topping:
1 ¾ cup flour 1 egg
1/3 cup sugar ½ cup buttermilk
2 tsp baking powder 6 Tbs butter, melted and cooled
¼ tsp salt ½ tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Mix filling ingredients and spread on the bottom.

For topping: In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk, butter and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and fold gently. Dough will be soft. Drop large spoonfuls onto fruit. Bake until filling is bubbly and topping is brown, about 45 minutes. Serves 8-12.



And last but not least, since we're talking about Summer Love - we would be remiss not to mention the Summer Lovin' Giveaway going on this entire month. Catherine, Karen, Kate, and Amy are giving away a summer beach prize worth approximately $250. Pre-order any of the July 2016 Harlequin Heartwarming novels this month and enter to win our awesome summer beach-reader basket! One lucky winner will walk away with a Thirty-One utility tote filled with tons of beachy fun, including 25,000 Harlequin My Rewards points. Don't miss out!

Order any or all of the following:
The Girl He Used to Love - goo.gl/Qv2HJo
Sophie's Path - goo.gl/sFIUhv
When I Found You - goo.gl/Dl1NrD
Under an Adirondack Sky - goo.gl/MDBZpE
Then enter to win our prize worth approximately $250 here - https://goo.gl/xCnTq9



40 comments:

  1. You'll get no argument from me with respect to the things you love about summer!

    Thank you for sharing your recipes. I bet both treats are delicious!

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    1. Thanks, Kate. There really is a lot to love about this time of year. My list could go on and on.

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  2. Love all these summer celebrations. Thanks for the yummy recipes also. This makes me think about all the fun things to do this summer. Yay.

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    1. Hi Sandra! Making this list made me think about all the things I want to do this summer. The only bad thing about summer is that it's way too short. When I was a kid it seemed like it lasted about a year. In my mind, there was the school year and then the summer year. Now it goes by in a flash.

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  3. I love summer! Although some would argue that in Arizona, it's always summer. Heat or no, I love the slower pace, getting to sleep in, BBQ's and best of all, watermelon! Thanks so much for the recipes. I may not be a great cook and I'm definitely not a creative one, but I can follow directions. So if I have a recipe, at least it turns out edible. Can't wait to try these one!

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    1. I think you're right, LeAnne. No matter where you live, or whatever the weather, summer just has a different feel about it. Oh, watermelon. I think you guys grow some amazing melons down in Arizona, right?

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    2. Yes! My husband's best friend is a farmer and I don't know what he does, but his watermelons are to die for. Last summer we had a BBQ and I let the kids have some of a watermelon he'd given us. My 23 year old daughter came by later and had a temper tantrum because I hadn't saved some for her. Real tears and everything! She's still mad about it.

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    3. This is hilarious! I might cry over a watermelon that good, too. But lucky you to have a farmer friend.

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  4. WOW, GUYS! I'm headed for the grocery store. These cookies sound amazing and yes, I have blueberries in the fridge ready for this weekend's party...a lobster fest. But you both nailed it. Summer days. Lots of light and sun and LAKES! Gee, I sure wish I was a part of Amy's book club. What a lucky group. A week of fun and tubing. Sigh.

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    1. A lobster fest!? Catherine, that sounds amazing. I love seafood of just about any kind, and shellfish most of all. Sounds like you already have the makings of a fabulous summer weekend. And I wouldn't mind sneaking in to Amy's book club myself!

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  5. Ooooh those recipes sound so good! And the berry one reminds me that my tart cherry trees are ready for picking! I always make 'fresh picked/home grown' cherry cobbler in June :). Of course, that means a lot of messy cherry pitting lol.

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    1. Rula, cherry cobbler is on of our favorites. I'll be making that as well - if the birds don't eat all the cherries first. Lol about the cherry pitting. It is pretty labor intensive. But so worth it when you finally pull that finished product out of the oven.

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    2. You two are making me very hungry!!

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  6. Oh, those cookies! Loved the post.

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    1. I agree, Liz! I'm thinking about trying them this weekend for a graduation bbq we'll be attending. I love the sound of that sweet and tart combination.

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  7. I'm about ready to give up summer this year since we've already had several days of record heat. It may even be too hot to cook right now, but I'll save those yummy recipes for fall. Cobbler and cookies are good any time. The get-away with the book club sounds so appealing. One of these days we're going to take Muriel up on her offer of all gathering on her front porch.

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    1. I'm so sorry, Roz. I don't think I could handle the kind of heat you guys have down there in AZ. You've lived in the NW, so you already know how beautiful our summers are here. And this one is shaping up to be the best we've had in years. We definitely need to plan a meeting on Muriel's porch, or maybe crash Amy's book club party!?

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  8. Love the recipes, and the summer plans. My summer plan is to get out of Tucson as much as possible. I love Arizona, but summer lasts way too long here!

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    1. I can imagine it's super hot there in the summer! My husband and I are going to Palm Springs in a couple weeks - 108 every day. Yikes!!

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  9. Cn we relocate Amy's party to my porch? I'm already setting the table. Love, love, summer, and though my routine doesn't change much, the sun and the warmth make me feel more relaxed. Love the sound of those cookies (despite my hatred of cooking, I bake cookies all the time) and I know where to find those blackberries, too, Carol, so the cobbler sounds yum!
    Have a great day, Everybody!

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    1. I would love to come hang out on your porch, Muriel! We'll create a Heartwarming book club and it will be the best one ever!

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  10. Tequilla glaze?! Wow does that sound amazing :) After reading your post, you and Carol have me in the mood for summer. My favorite thing to do is sit outside on the porch and read. It sounds kind of lame, but we have cold months here from October until early May so May-Sept is soak up the warm air and sun time!

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    1. I think sitting on the porch sounds lovely. Nothing wrong with enjoying some of that warm weather we northerners don't get year round!!

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  11. Well if I wasn't ready for summer before, I sure am now!! Fabulous post, ladies....and margarita cookies?! I'm so in! I might be living vicariously through you guys this year .

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    1. Well I think we failed to mention one other thing we love about summer - RWA national conference! Looking forward to that summer adventure with you :)

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  12. You two are too funny.
    Can you just send me a box with the desserts because I don't have time to make them.
    And, Rula reminded me, it's time to run to Walmart and get the Heartwarming books. yeah

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    1. I will have to bring you some when we meet up at RWA! I don't love cooking but baking is fun for some reason :) And yes - go get those books!!

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  13. Okay. That's it, Muriel. We're all coming to your porch and forming a book club. Wouldn't that be fun? Carol and Amy, I am so hungry right now! I need cookies and cobbler. Great post on summer; you covered all the bases.

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    1. I love this plan! Book club at Muriel's. I've made myself hungry, too. I'm going to do some baking this weekend.

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  14. I'm in the doorway, watching for all of you, iced tea pitcher in hand.

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    1. Love this, Muriel! Make mine nice and sweet(:

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  15. Oh, those recipes sound yummy. Wish I could get together with all of you for a summer BBQ at the lake. Here's to summer.

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    1. Thanks, Beth. Wouldn't that be fun!? Yes, here's to summer *raising my glass in a toast*

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  16. Looks like you both are ready for the summer. Reading, eating and vacationing sound good to me!

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    1. Definitely ready for summer, Tara! And reading and eating are two of my favorite things to do on vacation.

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  17. After hearing about the AZ heat, I don't think I'll complain too much about Mississippi heat. :-) Love the post and the recipes!

    And I wanted to shout out a welcome to LeAnne Bristow! And I hate to say it, but if someone gave my watermelon away...:-)

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    1. I agree about that Arizona thing, Patricia. I don't know how I would handle that kind of heat. And yes, so excited to welcome LeAnne!

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  18. Thank you Amy and Carol for reminding me of all the reasons I should love Summer. You both presented some really good reasons, and I love them all. I typically hide in the summer because my body HATES heat and humidity, but I do much love the long days, the blooms and the animals scampering about. Congratulations on the upcoming book Amy. And Carol, I'm still remembering what a wonderful read If Not for a Bee was. Thanks for sharing this inspiring post ladies. ( :

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    1. Thank you so much, Laurie. I understand about your suffering in the heat. I know a few people like you. And I do have to admit we really don't get very many brutally hot days here in the Northwest. And we have very low humidity. Love the flowers and long days, too. Happy summer to you!

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  19. My favorite thing about summer is by far swimming and grilling. I also love the wide variety of fresh veggies and fruits that are available during the summer months, especially watermelon! YUM! Thank you for the recipes!

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