Alpha Males Can Cook

By Linda Wood Rondeau

in-the-kitchen-march-2016According to an article on the “Ask Men” website, though not stereotypical, the alpha male does have a few dominant traits:

  1. He is comfortable with crisis. He loves to win.
  2. He is unconcerned about self-image and is more focused on the tasks at hand. He likes to lead rather than follow. He operates according to his own game rather than follow someone else’s agenda.
  3. He will take up the fight with confidence.
  4. He is self-reliant and doesn’t take advantage of others expertise or position.
  5. He owns up to his mistakes and takes responsibility for his actions.
  6. Like a good boy scout, the alpha male is loyal and trustworthy.
  7. When confronted with the need to change, he does so with diligence and forethought.
  8. He does not lie or bend the truth to his advantage.
  9. He is respected because he respects others.
  10. He does not shy away from the big decisions.

This certainly describes my alpha male hubby who loves to cook. He’s always been willing to “man up” to any challenge, and has willingly shared household duties. He’s never even shied away from shopping for those girly products either.

Through most of our nearly forty years together, I’ve been the primary cook and managed meal preparations and planning. He’d fill in as necessary, as long as he did it, “his way.” His way often turned out to be quite good. Ask the kids, who said, “How come Dad’s pot roast tastes better than yours, Mom?” From then on, the hubs was king of the pot roast!

He might have retired, but my writing career became busier than ever after I published. So, it was decided my very alpha male husband would become primary cook. He met the challenge head on with great results. Even if his inventions didn’t quite pan out, he made no excuses, adapted his approach accordingly and tried again until he got it right.

pressure-cookerOur stash of appliances enlarged as he added a waffle iron, salad chopper, and sundry appliances deemed to get the job done faster and more efficiently. I think his favorite became the pressure cooker. I never used one. They scare me. He won’t use an electric pre-programmed one. It has to be stove top and man handled!

I think my favorite of all his creative recipes is his beef stew. As delicious as it is fast to prepare.

We had company for lunch, friends we hadn’t seen in years. My alpha male can operate on several levels at once. Not me. So he cooked. We stood in the kitchen and enjoyed our coffee oblivious to his fast action. Within fifteen minutes his famous beef stew was ready, complimented by buttery biscuits. Our friends were so amazed they snapped a picture as he labored in love.

Writer, how do you portray your alpha male? Note, the characteristics are not so much what they do but how they approach what they do. My alpha male hubby who loves to cook has always adapted the motto: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” Colossians 3:23 KJV.

in-the-kitchen-march-2016-beef-stew

For the curious…here’s my alpha male’s recipe:

Steve’s Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

Ingredients –

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 ½ – 2 lbs stew beef
1 large onion, cut up
4-5 carrots, peeled & cut into chunks
4 celery ribs, peeled & cut into chunks
4 potatoes cut into chunks
1 ½ – 2 cups beef broth
1-2 beef bouillon cubes
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions –

Heat oil in bottom of cooker. When oil is hot, add meat all at once letting it sit for one minute to sear before stirring.  After meat is completely seared, add onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, bouillon cube and broth. Add salt & pepper if desired.

Lock lid with pressure setting on high.  After achieving pressure, cook for 15 minutes. Use natural release method.

Writing Prompt: “What do you mean can I cook?” Jason stood in front of me, hands on his hips. Uh oh. I’d done it now…


img_3790Winner of the 2012 Selah Award and Carol Award finalist LINDA WOOD RONDEAU writes to offer hope for those with damaged lives and demonstrate our worst past, surrendered to God becomes our best future. After a long career in human services, Linda now resides in Jacksonville, Florida. When not writing, the author enjoys golfing, hiking, and spending time with her best friend in life, her husband of nearly forty years. Her recent release, Miracle on Maple Street, has already won the hearts of many.

Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com where they’ll find a list of her books, her blog, Snark and Sensibility. Email her at lindarondeau@gmail.com  or find her on Facebook, Twitter, PInterest, Google Plus and Goodreads. 


Miracle on Maple Street

moms-final“Christmas is a time for miracles,” Ryan McDougal tells his mother, when he is told that a long lost cousin, Millie, has resurfaced after nearly forty years, the cousin whose picture his mother clasped the day his father abandoned him. Though they occurred decades apart, he always believed the two disappearances were connected like opposite links of a chain. With Millie’s arrival, perhaps he might finally receive the answers he so desperately sought. However, Ryan has a third thorn in his side, more devastating than any mystery. His wife, the love of his life, has left his arms and his bed. How long before she moves out of the house and takes his beloved son with her? He prays for his own Christmas miracle. Millie’s anticipated visit prompts Ryan’s mother to reveal secrets that bring all to light. However, when past and present collide, the truth is more than Ryan can bear.

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An Alabama-Inspired Thanksgiving

img_20141012_173651690By Jennifer Hallmark

Thanksgiving Day will soon arrive. I’ll wake early, eat a bowl of Cheerios and savor my morning cup of tea. As I hold the steaming mug, I’ll find comfort in its warmth and the sweetness of the honey-laced liquid inside. But only for a moment. Soon, thirty to forty people will crowd inside our home and there’s still much to do.

I’ll prepare part of the food on Wednesday. It releases some of the stress and flurry from this day and gives me more time to relax, be thankful, and maybe watch part of the early football game. But this morning, we’ll finish cooking. The savory smell of baked turkey permeates the air. It will soon be joined by cornbread dressing, pinto beans, sweet potato casserole, and yeast rolls. My husband, Danny, always makes the dressing, a recipe passed down from his mother. I scurry and pour the sweet tea in our three-gallon beverage dispenser. I’ll make a gallon of unsweetened tea but hardly anyone will drink it with the well-sugared kind around. We work as a team, making sure everything is just right.

thanksgiving-231781_960_720Around noon, we usually finish the last-second tasks and sit for a moment to eat a turkey sandwich. Around two o’clock in the afternoon, my husband and I will open our home to a hodgepodge of family, friends, and a few others who have nowhere to go. Everyone is welcome at our annual Thanksgiving feast.

By one o’clock, a few of the family has already arrived. Danny’s sister will open the front door and shout, “knock-knock” and I know the fun has begun. Each person arrives with different delectable dishes of food and we arrange them the best we can on the kitchen counters and stove top.

Football is still on the television but no one’s really watching as people drift from room to room. Handshakes and hugs abound as many catch up on old times. The garage doors have been shut and the space has been transformed into a dining room/fellowship hall. Large tables are set up for the adults. A special kids table, complete with coloring books and crayons sits by its side.

Mamaw Avon’s Pink StuffAt the appointed time, we all squeeze into the kitchen where my son or daughter will welcome everyone. One of the grandchildren will say “grace” before the long line forms to tackle the cafeteria-style selection of meats, vegetables, and casseroles that take up every inch of available space on the counters. Everyone loads their Chinet plates to the brim, grabs the plastic flatware and napkins and hunts a place to sit.

In the garage, large tables of sweet delights line one wall and hold twenty or more desserts, many new recipes that someone wanted to test on the crowd. Last year, I tried two pie recipes but neither turned out. I was teased over my pie “soup”. This year, I’ll stick with a cake and maybe some cookies. 🙂

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Not my pie…

Before the afternoon is over, everyone will have eaten more than enough and recipes will have been swapped. Some will be scouring the day’s newspaper, planning to brave the crowds and start their Christmas shopping later in the evening. As a few linger behind to help me and Danny clean up, my heart swells with gratitude. I wouldn’t trade our Thanksgiving for anything.

For the next few days, we’ll munch on leftovers and when we warm our plate in the microwave, the fragrance of Thanksgiving will return. I’ll sit in the recliner and sip another cup of tea, content.

And thankful.


Someone usually makes a macaroni casserole at Thanksgiving. Here’s the recipe for you to try…

Macaroni Casserole

8 oz. package elbow noodles
1 jar chopped pimentos, drained and dried
1 jar sliced mushrooms, drained and dried
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. Kraft American Cheese, grated (set one cup aside)
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup chopped onion

Cook noodles; drain and place in large bowl. Grate cheese and set aside 1 cup. Stir together noodles, pimentos, mushrooms, soup, cheese (minus the cup), mayonnaise and onion. Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove and sprinkle remaining cup of cheese over top. Bake 10 more minutes.


Writing Prompt: I pulled the spice cake from the oven. The aroma of nutmeg and cinnamon flowed through the house and set my stomach to rumbling. As I started to carry the heavenly confection across the kitchen…

Happy_Thanksgiving_sign


Jennifer Hallmark writes southern fiction and fantasy. Jennifer’s website and blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers.

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A Little Bit of Heaven in West Virginia

By Tammy Trail

I can’t think of a single family gathering that did not involve food. My earliest memory of eating apple pie was during a trip to West Virginia to visit my Dad’s family. He was very close to his grandparents, and we were invited to eat dinner with them one evening.

After dinner, my great-grandmother laid a freshly baked apple pie in the middle of the table. Even at the tender age of five, I could tell this was no ordinary pie. This pie did not come from a cardboard carton with a cellophane top, and there was no shiny tin “pie plate” that could later be used as a play tambourine. Nor was it once frozen to be thawed and baked later. This pie lay in an aged pie plate, one that must have seen years of sweet confections. Its crust was golden and flaky, made by loving hands. The aroma of apple and cinnamon was too mouthwatering to ignore. It was a smell that reminded one of heavenly perfection.

apple-pie-1229076__180As a child, I was a very picky eater. I was given the name “Inspector Jones”, because if it didn’t smell right or looked funny, there was no way I was going to eat it. But, this pie begged to be eaten. I think my Dad would have been disappointed if I had turned down Great-Grandma’s pie.

Once the piece was laid in front of me, I notice the layers of apples stacked between sticky syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon. I took the first bite, and fell in love. It was all that my eyes had promised it would be and more. To tell the truth, I haven’t tasted another apple pie like it since that day.

Once I tried making a pie from scratch. We had a neighbor who became disabled after serving in the Army during the Vietnam war. He was mowing his yard one day and just decided to go ahead and mow our lawn, too. I was so grateful that I baked him an apple pie. I didn’t do the lattice pie crust on the top like my great-grandma had, but instead I did a crumble top with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and a bit of flour. Turned out great. I made one for our wee family too.

He absolutely loved it! And I was so happy that he was pleased.

photo-256887_1280Recipes are like old pictures handed down from one generation to the next. I wish that I could ask my great-grandmother how she made her pie crust, but it most likely would not have turned out the same.

There is something to be said for women who love to cook. The most important ingredient is LOVE. Love of cooking, of sharing your art, and a love of seeing others enjoying it too. Here’s a pie recipe you’ll want to try from Pillsbury https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/perfect-apple-pie/1fc2b60f-0a4f-441e-ad93-8bbd00fe5334

Writing Prompt:

What are some of your favorite dishes handed down from an older generation?

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Goodbye Comfort Food

IMG_1177What if you have to give up your favorite comfort food?

When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teen, he said good-bye to his favorite comfort food and all-time staple – Pizza. It was a tough summer for him since pizza was also the food of choice at parties and outings. Maintaining sugar levels and managing this auto-immune disease while working to secure a starting spot on the varsity football team was a huge challenge for Jake, but he did great.

He managed exceptionally well — I’m such a proud mom — and eventually went on to play professional football in the NFL. Harvest House Publishers just released his first book, an awesome, inspiring devotional: First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up.  UnknownEventually, Jake brought pizza back into his diet and used insulin to correct sugar levels, but he still maintains a very healthy diet. So, in honor of Jake, I’m sharing a diabetes-friendly pizza recipe from Nikki Sheriff @  Diabetesconnect.com

320x260Chicken Pesto Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust By Nikki Sheriff
Crust:

1 small head of cauliflower

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1 egg

Pesto: (1 cup bottled pesto may be substituted)

1 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

pinch sea salt

fresh ground pepper to taste

Toppings:

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

6 thin slices of a Roma tomato

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: To make the crust, trim and wash cauliflower florets (not including the stems). Pulse in a food processor until fine.Pour into a microwave safe bowl and microwave covered for 5 minutes. Lay out a clean kitchen towel and lay a paper towel over it. Pour the steamed cauliflower onto the towels and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, wrap up the steamed cauliflower and wring out as much liquid from the cauliflower as possible.Pour into a bowl and mix with cheeses and seasonings listed above under “crust”. Add the egg and mix with your hands and shape into a ball. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, placing a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.Lay out a piece of parchment paper and press and shape the cauliflower mixture into the shape of a pizza, about 1/4 inch thick. Once the oven is preheated, carefully lay the parchment paper with crust onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.While the crust is baking, make the pesto if using fresh pesto (or you could use bottled pesto).For the pesto, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese in a food processor until well mixed.Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Let it puree until well incorporated. Mix half of the pesto with the shredded chicken and set aside.When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and spread the other half of the pesto onto the crust, like pizza sauce. Top with the chicken mixed with pesto, the tomato slices, and both

Pour into a bowl and mix with cheeses and seasonings listed above under “crust”. Add the egg and mix with your hands and shape into a ball. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, placing a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.Lay out a piece of parchment paper and press and shape the cauliflower mixture into the shape of a pizza, about 1/4 inch thick. Once the oven is preheated, carefully lay the parchment paper with crust onto the baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.While the crust is baking, make the pesto if using fresh pesto (or you could use bottled pesto).For the pesto, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese in a food processor until well mixed.Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Let it puree until well incorporated. Mix half of the pesto with the shredded chicken and set aside.When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and spread the other half of the pesto onto the crust, like pizza sauce. Top with the chicken mixed with pesto, the tomato slices, and both

While the crust is baking, make the pesto if using fresh pesto (or you could use bottled pesto).For the pesto, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan cheese in a food processor until well mixed. Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the olive oil, followed by the salt and pepper. Let it puree until well incorporated. Mix half of the pesto with the shredded chicken and set aside.When the crust is baked, remove from the oven and spread the other half of the pesto onto the crust, like pizza sauce. Top with the chicken mixed with pesto, the tomato slices, and both cheese’s.Bake 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melted. Slice into 8 slices and serve.

Looks and sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

***

Holly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children; daughter Betsy and football-playing sons—Jake (NFL) and Nick (University of Louisiana-Lafayette). Kansas City, Missouri is home and she blogs at www.writingstraight.com

Contact her at www.HollyMichael.com or on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/AuthorHollyMichael or Twitter: @HollyMichael

First and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Life can be pre-ordered at Amazon now by clicking this link, but will soon be available in most book-seller markets.

Thanks for stopping by. We are happy you joined us at Writing Prompts in June for our “Comfort Food Month.” Be sure to stop over in July. You will enjoy “Greatest Movie Ever Month.”

And now for the writing prompt…

The doctor lowered his eyes and studied the file. He raised his head and peered over his glasses. “You’re going to have to make drastic changes in your life.”

And go! Respond below in the comments section.

A Smorgasbord of Comfort Food

DSCN0251
By Jennifer Hallmark
Comfort food. Yum! Think of food that makes you feel good. Or maybe food that brings back wonderful memories of childhood or home cooking, like my grandmother’s homemade beet soup, borscht.

This month, we’re going to share recipes and stories about happy times and good memories. I’m up first and I want to talk about cookies. To me, there’s nothing better than a hot cookie out of the oven. The warm, sugary aroma draws you in as you spatula the baked piece of heaven off the cookie sheet onto your palm, then shift it from hand to hand to keep from getting burnt. That first bite into the melt-in-your-mouth confection brings to mind fun with my children, Christmas, and bake sales.

I’ll share two recipes with you today: Mama Landers Tea Cakes and Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Cookies. My husband, Danny’s grandmother made the best tea cakes and I’ve taken a peanut butter cookie recipe and made it dairy-free, for me.

Hope you enjoy the cookies!

IMG_20150304_165755157Mama Lander’s Tea Cakes

My husband Danny’s favorite cookies are his grandmother’s tea cakes. A simple recipe, the shortening makes them light and just a little crusty, delicious with a cup of coffee or glass of cold milk.

Yield: 2 ½ dozen

1 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 cups self-rising flour

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

 

Melt shortening and let cool for five minutes. Mix all ingredients together in order. Take a teaspoon at a time of the dough and roll into small balls. Roll in sugar. Add to cookie sheet. Press the top of each cookie with a fork. Bake at 325 degrees until lightly brown on bottom.

 

Here is my all-time favorite peanut butter cookie recipe, made without dairy, of course.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup light or lactose free Blue Bonnet margarine (its dairy-free)

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Thoroughly cream butter, peanut butter, sugars, egg and vanilla with mixer.  Stir together flour, baking soda and salt in separate bowl.  Stir flour mixture into butter mixture with spoon.  Shape into one inch balls; roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet and criss-cross with fork.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes; don’t overbake.  Serves 4 dozen.

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Writing Prompt: Write a prompt using the picture below.

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