Monday, January 11, 2010

Guest Blogger Donna Alward (Returns!)

The Playfriends are tickled to welcome Donna Alward back to the blog today. (Note to self: ask Donna what she's blogging about before posting to be sure you won't be starving afterward...)

But back to the fabulous Donna... this award-winning author for Harlequin Romance is also a hoot to hang out with, and I'm so glad she's back today, because her topic is one that's a fave around here...

Cooking it up between the pages

If any of you have read any of my books, you’ll find that no matter what, there’s food in there. Even when the heroine can’t cook (Hired By The Cowboy, Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage) there’s food. Even when they eat in fancy restaurants (Hired: The Italian’s Bride) or leave it up to someone else (The Rancher’s Runaway Princess) you’ll find scrummy food. And sometimes it IS the heroine whipping up a gastronomical delight.

Cuz I love food. I love to eat it, I love to cook it. I hate to do dishes. That’s why you’ll hardly ever (don’t want to say never) see one of my heroines toiling away lamenting her dishpan hands. She probably won’t be seen cleaning toilets either. Not just because it’s not romantic. But because I hate cleaning the bathroom and I hate doing dishes.

Anyway *ahem* back to the food.

I’ve got another book out this month and the heroine is a secondary character from The Rancher’s Runaway Princess. Jen O’Keefe runs the local bakery. I know. Not just food but CHOCOLATE. Her signature item is chocolate brownies. Brownies based on my favourite brownie recipe ever. Brownies that have caused some people to raise their eyebrows at me and say “No, you can’t possibly mean that much butter, sugar and eggs!”. Not only that, but Jen is making a change. No more Snickerdoodles Bakery – she’s upgrading to a catering business too! And she’s catering Andrew Laramie’s party at the Lazy L Ranch.

That meant I could think of all kinds of things for her to make. For her business – things like Italian sausage penne. Spinach and pecan salad with poppyseed dressing. For Andrew’s party, the Alberta rodeo staple – Beef on a Bun. I get hungry just thinking about the shredded beef in a rich sauce on a chewy Kaiser roll…

You won’t find a lot of fancy foods in my book, because while I love to eat’ em, I usually keep to good ol’ comfort food. Then again, you never know when I’m going to throw in homemade Veal Parmigiana or a stir fry pan of spicy hot Kung Pao…

So…what’s for dinner at your house?

You can check out the recipes for foods found in my books on my Recipe Corner page of my site.

In the meantime, you can read about Jen and Snickerdoodles Bakery in One Dance With The Cowboy, out this month from Harlequin Romance and book 1 in my Cowboys and Confetti duet.

Visit Donna's page at

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Win An Amazon Gift Card!!!

The Playfriends are celebrating the new look of our website for 2010 by giving out a big prize this week – a $50 gift card to . The catch? You must answer a question about the website from the blog to be entered to win.

Check in each day of this week and answer the question found at the bottom of the blog post by sending the answer to . Each question you answer gives you 1 chance to win, up to 5 entries for the week. Additional entries may be earned by reporting any broken links you find on the website to the same email address. The more you play, the bigger your chance to win!

The winner will be announced on Saturday, so be sure to check in then too. If the prize is not claimed within 7 days, we’ll be awarding it to someone else. Okay? Let’s play!

Monday’s question: From “Roll Call”, who dubbed us “The Children”?

Email your answer to to enter!

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P.S. Winners from Free Book Friday’s very challenging post. :)

Becky J. Heath wins the 3 Presents book pack for her creative post.
Mariska wins last month's Holiday FBF prize featuring Linda Winstead Jones and Rhonda Nelson's Christmas Novellas.
Virginia wins the copy of An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James.
Please send your snail mail address to

Martha M is the winner of the Revenge contest against SP. Kimberly chose her because "she is sick and twisted and I love her." Martha, send your snail mail address to


mindmap1 said...

Hi Donna

Love your books and your 'voice.'

Today we're having Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup. Poached Salmon with a Chilli, Honey and Stem Ginger Sauce with Brown Basmati Rice.

It's healthy because we're suffering from a suger overload after the festive season.

Christine XX

Maureen said...

That was a delicious post. Congratulations on the new book.

Donna Alward said...

Christine - oh that sounds delish! We were talking on a loop about healthy recipes and I was saying one of my favourites is for a garlic dill salmon that my kids love and their favourite pairing is roasted vegetables - sweet potato, squash, zucchini, potatoes...if you can roast it and it's in my fridge, it goes in. Toss it with some olive oil, garlic and oregano and yum! And I think I've just solved tonight's dinner problem...

Thank you Maureen! I'm really excited for this duet to hit the shelves.

Problem Child said...

Hi Donna!

Hmm, I don't know what's for dinner. Lunch will probably be a PB&J sandwich. Dinner tonight might be eggrolls -- my aunt made a batch of homemade eggrolls and sent them to me. Delish! (And easy!)

Although now I'm craving a Snickerdoodle...

Playground Monitor said...

I love roasted veggies. When do we eat?

I don't really like to cook but I'm trying to eat good food and not rely on convenience stuff. And since I live alone, it's a challenge. Sometimes I make something and end up eating it for a week.

Tonight's dinner? ~shrugs~ I'm visiting a friend and may not be back home in time for dinner. So it might be a bowl of chili at my favorite fast food restaurant.

Welcome back, Donna! And that spinach and pecan salad looks yummy. Care to share the recipe?

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Donna! Oh, you are a writer after my own heart! Food!!!

I think we're going to Mom's house for chicken and dumplings tonight. How could I turn it down? Last night was penne pasta with a thick meat sauce and garlic bread. :)

Instigator said...

I am not a cook. Seriously. Ask any of the Playfriends. I have a few staple party foods that I can whip up and a couple casserole recipes if pressed but... Zilla (my DH) does all the cooking in my house. He even does the cleaning, half the time before you're finished with your plate. When he's done he's ready to clean up and move on. :-)

However, that brownie recipe sounds interesting. I do, on occasion, bake. Care to share?


Angel said...

Um, yum. Now I'm salivating and wishing I could half beef on a bun and brownies for lunch. :) I've been doing some research into the medical things that ail me, and it looks like I'll be relearning how to cook this year -- especially vegetables. None of my family eats them and growing up we ate most vegetables fried. If I don't want to eat salad at every meal, I'm going to have to learn new ways of making vegetables that I'll actually eat. Sigh...

Tonight we're probably going to have chili (still cold weather here) or chicken sandwiches. I'm down to my stock items, since tomorrow is grocery day. :)


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hi, ladies! Donna, those brownies have me drooling. No fair!

I'm dropping in 'cause Daniele sent me mail about your contest. I posted about it -- and about Donna's visit, too. She deserves just as much love!

Donna Alward said...

The brownie recipe is up on my recipe corner at It's called Jen's Runaway Brownies (because they first made their appearance in The Rancher's Runaway Princess).

As far as the salad - I will have to dig for the exact recipe but it's super easy. Spinach, dried cranberries, a little bit of red onion for snap, and candied pecans (a little butter and brown sugar in a non-stick pan, add pecans and cook until lightly browned and then cooled.). The hard part is not eating all the pecans before putting together the salad.

The dressing? I just use Kraft poppyseed. :-)

Caroline Storer said...

I *knew* I shouldn't have read this blog before dinner! Now I'm starving! Take care. Caroline x

Virginia said...

Hi Donna, great post, love your books. My problem with eating healthy is my husband and the way he wants to eat. I cook everyday, just got through, fried chicken, mashed patatoes and green beans, but he wants everything fried, he's a meat and patatoes man and salt, the man eats a ton of this. I have tried to fix things different but he complains if its not fried. What must I do?

Smarty Pants said...

I'm going out with a friend, so tonight is Thai food - something I don't dare try to make at home.

I don't cook much that's extraordinary. DB likes things simple and unfussy. Meat and potatoes works just fine for him. That's why I prefer to bake. That brownie recipe looks good. Very decadant. The people that complain about the butter and sugar would probably pass out reading the recipe for buttercream icing. People get very unhappy when I tell them its Crisco and powdered sugar. Oh, and vanilla extract, as though that helps. :)

Donna Alward said...

My word - y'all have just described what it's like cooking for my mother. LOL

My husband and kids though - meat and potatoes happens very rarely. Their faves are anything italian, mexican, or indian, or asian...come to think of it, they are pretty easy to feed.

There are some quirks with certain veggies that aren't enjoyed but the dh is very easy to please.

Anonymous said...

Hi Donna,
I've got to admit I've never read one of your books, but that will be changing shortly. And like you I love to eat & cook. And, yes the cleaning up part & bathrooms, well I'm with you on that.
Usually my sister cooks, so tonight she has pot roast with fixings that she put in the crock pot last night. Will have cole slaw and probably corn bread with it.....yummmmm
I will be visiting your website shortly and adding to my list of sites.
Thank you and have a great afternoon.

Minna said...

Today I made some pizza.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Those roasted vegetables sound great! I just blogged about food in my stories the other day, so this topic has been on my mind a lot. My characters usually end up cooking pasta or fajitas.

I'm with you on toilets and dishes. My husband is great in the kitchen, but I usually beat him to it, because whoever cooks in my house doesn't have to do the dishes! ;-)

Good luck with your new book.

chey said...

Today is hamburgers, potato wedges and salad.

Donna Alward said...

Good lord I'm hungry. Fajitas, burgers and potato wedges...mmm mmm mmm.

One of my fave things is homemade soup in the winter (it's like minus a zillion here at the mo and very white) and on my website there's a recipe for Pasta e fagioli that's SO good.

I'm actually making supper as we speak (5 p.m. here) and the salmon is just going in the oven.

Jane said...

We're having breaded pork chops tonight. My dad is the cook in the family. His specialty is pan-fried noodles with beef.

Stephanie said...

Loved reading this post.
In fact, it saved my dinner.
I was on the way out to work and stopped to read the blog since it always gives me a great start to my day and realized, Oh My Gosh,
I forgot to put supper in the crock pot. Which I then went and did before I left for work.

So I am having teriyaki pork loin, green beans, au gratin potatoes, and salad.

I really enjoyed reading this posts. I can't wait to read the newest book.

p.s. Thanks for saving my dinner!

Kathy said...

So glad you came to play, Donna! The brownies look delicious and so does your current cowboy. Yum! Yum!

Where do you get your ideas, Donna? What time period do you like to write about most? And, are you inspired by characters first or places?


Liza said...

Hi Donna and congrats on the new book. Homemade vegetable soup was on my menu for the night.

donnas said...

Great post. I have to admit I havent read your books yet but they sound like something I would enjoy. And now that I am starving, because dinner from Taco Bell wasnt nearly as good as your post. I think I will go raid the fridge.

Pat L. said...

What the heck is a broken link?

Happy New to All.

Donna Alward said...

Jane - I love breaded pork chops. My sister has a recipe for ones using corn flake crumbs and parmesan and I don't know what else, but they are SO good!

Stephanie - Glad I could help! ;-)

Liza - I love soup. Love it love it love it. Especially as it gives me an excuse to make bread. Recipe for breadmaker foccacia on my site. :-)

Donna Alward said...

Kathy - ideas. Hmmm. You know when I first started writing I had to go looking. But now...I think I've trained my brain to be open to ideas and usually it just takes a what if scenario and I'm off.

I'm definitely a contemporary girl, though I will confess to ADORING reading historicals. I'm not sure I could ever pull it off, but give me a good scandalous Regency and I'm in heaven. To write though - I am firmly contemporary.

And I am definitely inspired by characters over places, although setting plays a huge part in my writing. Sometimes it almost becomes a character of its own. I think because characters tend to have relationships with their surroundings and it influences their moods and actions. Right now I'm writing a book set in Argentina and it's interesting because the heroine sees it through new eyes and the hero sees it from the perspective of someone who grew up there.

Now I'm off to have some coffee! Bitterly cold here today. :-)

gigi said...

You know brownies are an original American creation. Yum.

We had homemade Chili Monday night.