A HUGE Happy Birthday Carl D’Agostino!!

Carl D’Agostino is not only a cartoonist he’s also a man with incomparable humor and a wonderful and considerate friend.

You can find his blog here:

https://carldagostino.wordpress.com

He has also published a book with his work:

I know I made you smile

I’m featuring Carl D’Agostino today because he celebrates his 70th Birthday on June 18, 2019.

Thank you, Carl, for being a great friend, for making us laugh, for being a wonderful human being, for sharing your talent – and just for being a part of our lives!

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Moodboard Of My WIP

I’m currently drafting book 7 in ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series. It is quite some work. By a list of blog post ideas, I felt challenged to publish a mood board of my work in progress, using 9 pictures. It took me forever to decide what the most important parts of the plot are and how to express them. Then I had to pick the images and, of course, spend another few hours to choose the ones I think express best the feelings of the story.

Picture courtesy of: https://spark.adobe.com/make/mood-board-maker/

This is the mood board of book 7.



I hope I could give you an impression of how the emotions will be within this book, caused by the story and the plot.

This is the first mood board I ever created. I’m curious to read in the comments what you think about it.

The Story And The Cover – Finding The Right Model

While working on ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I built character by character, developed, considered their look, decided who they are and in what direction they would head within their story.

But also, I was ‘creating’ their look; dark hair, blue eyes, black hair, bronze eyes, tall, muscular, petite, almost ethereal. I will deliver many descriptions while ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series progresses.

In my head, the characters and their personality formed together with their look, and while creating them, I didn’t consider any consequences – like the book cover to the story.

Let me give you an example:
Katie is a breathtaking beauty with caramel colored hair and brown eyes; her cream skin makes her look almost fragile.

To find ‘Katie’ I was busy looking through hundreds of pictures on several websites. In a way, it was an exciting task, and my excitement grew with every picture. But after a while I got slightly bored, my hope slowly dying that I would find “THE” Katie… the woman I had created in my head.

I wish I could say, ‘suddenly’ I found her, just as she was in my fantasy… but the fact is, I didn’t. Katie was not one of the models, but the Model I found has caramel colored hair and is stunningly beautiful. I set the first mark on her picture. Whenever I discovered a model who got close to her beauty or my description, I tagged her. In the end, I compared all the models and by process of elimination, I ‘rejected’ one model after the next until I got ‘my Katie.’

I took some time to get used to ‘combine’ my fantasy with the model and then went through the different pictures of the model. Finally, I picked the one that’s on the cover now.

By now that’s ‘my Katie’ on the cover.

I was talking with my cover designer about the cover. I could deliver her Katie, but what about the rest of the cover? The man, the background, the font? I’m lucky to have a cover designer who knows her stuff. I informed her that I couldn’t go through the model search again. I wanted some mystery, some secret.

Soul Taker isn’t a love-story-romance where a man and a woman are kissing on the cover…


I wanted something different; a man every reader can connect to, and has the chance to create the character’s look in their own fantasy. And my cover designer found the solution. I’m very proud of the ‘Soul Taker’ cover.

Since the second book in the series is completed and only needs to return from the Copyright Lawyer, we had to get together and discuss the next cover.

Believe it or not – I was sitting on the monitor and dully clicked through hundreds of pictures.

Let me tell you – the thought of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is planned to contain 13 books, scares me.

How are you designing your covers? At what point do you start considering what should be on the cover, and if you have cover models – how do you pick them? Let us know about it in the comments. We’re curious.


Buy Soul Taker here:


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BOOK REVIEW: Soul Taker (The Council of Twelve Series Book 1) by A.J. Alexander – Written By Janis Beck

I was informed today that Janis Beck’s ‘Soul Taker’ review can be found on her blog. Thank you so much for your efforts and support, Janis!


After long years in the line of duty as a ‘Soul Taker’, Kate is worn out.
When she gets a new job offer from the ‘Powers Above’, she accepts her new job as a Guardian gratefully without knowing that her teacher is one of the most powerful beings in existence, the Archangel Raphael.
Along with Raphael, she takes on her new task and the connection between them grows.
Raphael helps, protects and supports Kate, but suddenly, she becomes a target for the Demons of Hell.

Raphael realizes that Kate means more to him than he expected, which causes him to fight furiously against danger. If he fails, Kate’s future will contain eternal darkness, evil, and torture.

AVAILABLE NOW AT Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo iTunes, SCRIB

REVIEW

New author A.J. Alexander excites us with her debut novella Soul Taker. Kate is an angel of death, taking the soul into the afterlife. After a job that went bad Kate wants to call it quits.

Continue reading here

Even Jane Austen Suffered From Self-Doubt

Picture courtesy of quotefancy.com

Like many other writers, occasionally I suffer from self-doubt. I tried to think positive thoughts, tried to find encouragement, and did some research on the subject. And then I came across a quote about self-doubt:

“I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress.”

I was surprised that this was said by Jane Austen, one of the most famous and most wonderful writers in English history – even globally.

I learned a lot from that quote: not only suffered Jane Austen from self-doubt – female authors are called ‘authoresses.’ *chuckle* I might be a little old-fashioned, but I somehow like it. Maybe I’m some relic from the 19th century.

But humor aside, like many other artists, I’m occasionally tortured by self-doubt. Am I good enough as a writer? Are my stories readable, are my characters likable? Am. I. Good. Enough.?

Of course, I would like to be a good author. I would love to have readers who fall in love with my characters and love my stories. But will that ever happen? I know, my book was read, I got reviews, and I know they liked ‘Soul Taker.’ But, what does ‘everybody’ else say?

Am I desperate to become famous? To be honest: no. I’d rather have my books and characters to be liked. I’d love people to say that ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is a wonderful read.

I’m a person who, unfortunately, suffers too often from depression. I keep trying to consciously be aware of these weak times and pull myself out of them, as my Dad taught me, all these years ago. Self-doubt isn’t helpful in my case, but I refuse to drown in melancholy.

To read that even a fantastic writer like Jane Austen suffered from self-doubt in a way makes me feel sad for her, but it’s also a relief to find out I’m not the only one.

Do you suffer from self-doubts at times? If yes, how do you cope with them? Can you teach me a tip or trick to find my way out of them?


Picture courtesy of: http://www.biography.com

Jane Austen
(1775–1817)

Jane Austen was a Georgian era author, best known for her social commentary in novels including ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ and ‘Emma.’

Who Was Jane Austen?
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. While not widely known in her own time, Austen’s comic novels of love among the landed gentry gained popularity after 1869, and her reputation skyrocketed in the 20th century. Her novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, are considered literary classics, bridging the gap between romance and realism.

Early Life
The seventh child and second daughter of Cassandra and George Austen, Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. Jane’s parents were well-respected community members. Her father served as the Oxford-educated rector for a nearby Anglican parish. The family was close and the children grew up in an environment that stressed learning and creative thinking. When Jane was young, she and her siblings were encouraged to read from their father’s extensive library. The children also authored and put on plays and charades.
Over the span of her life, Jane would become especially close to her father and older sister, Cassandra. Indeed, she and Cassandra would one day collaborate on a published work.

In order to acquire a more formal education, Jane and Cassandra were sent to boarding schools during Jane’s pre-adolescence. During this time, Jane and her sister caught typhus, with Jane nearly succumbing to the illness. After a short period of formal education cut short by financial constraints, they returned home and lived with the family from that time forward.

Literary Works
Ever fascinated by the world of stories, Jane began to write in bound notebooks. In the 1790s, during her adolescence, she started to craft her own novels and wrote Love and Friendship [sic], a parody of romantic fiction organized as a series of love letters. Using that framework, she unveiled her wit and dislike of sensibility, or romantic hysteria, a distinct perspective that would eventually characterize much of her later writing. The next year she wrote The History of England…, a 34-page parody of historical writing that included illustrations drawn by Cassandra. These notebooks, encompassing the novels as well as short stories, poems and plays, are now referred to as Jane’s Juvenilia.

Jane spent much of her early adulthood helping run the family home, playing piano, attending church, and socializing with neighbors. Her nights and weekends often involved cotillions, and as a result, she became an accomplished dancer. On other evenings, she would choose a novel from the shelf and read it aloud to her family, occasionally one she had written herself. She continued to write, developing her style in more ambitious works such as Lady Susan, another epistolary story about a manipulative woman who uses her sexuality, intelligence and charm to have her way with others. Jane also started to write some of her future major works, the first called Elinor and Marianne, another story told as a series of letters, which would eventually be published as Sense and Sensibility. She began drafts of First Impressions, which would later be published as Pride and Prejudice, and Susan, later published as Northanger Abbey by Jane’s brother, Henry, following Jane’s death.

In 1801, Jane moved to Bath with her father, mother and Cassandra. Then, in 1805, her father died after a short illness. As a result, the family was thrust into financial straits; the three women moved from place to place, skipping between the homes of various family members to rented flats. It was not until 1809 that they were able to settle into a stable living situation at Jane’s brother Edward’s cottage in Chawton.

Now in her 30s, Jane started to anonymously publish her works. In the period spanning 1811-16, she pseudonymously published Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (a work she referred to as her “darling child,” which also received critical acclaim), Mansfield Park and Emma.

Death and Legacy
In 1816, at the age of 41, Jane started to become ill with what some say might have been Addison’s disease. She made impressive efforts to continue working at a normal pace, editing older works as well as starting a new novel called The Brothers, which would be published after her death as Sanditon. Another novel, Persuasion, would also be published posthumously. At some point, Jane’s condition deteriorated to such a degree that she ceased writing. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, Hampshire, England.

While Austen received some accolades for her works while still alive, with her first three novels garnering critical attention and increasing financial reward, it was not until after her death that her brother Henry revealed to the public that she was an author.

Today, Austen is considered one of the greatest writers in English history, both by academics and the general public. In 2002, as part of a BBC poll, the British public voted her No. 70 on a list of “100 Most Famous Britons of All Time.” Austen’s transformation from little-known to internationally renowned author began in the 1920s, when scholars began to recognize her works as masterpieces, thus increasing her general popularity.

(Source: https://www.biography.com/writer/jane-austen)

Memorial Day 2019

Picture courtesy of: https://memorialdayhistory.com/

 


Please, pray with me for the ones who are out there, facing the danger to fight for us, for our freedom, for our Country. 

Picture courtesy of: https://memorialdayhistory.com/

America Will Always Stand
Randy Travis
Album :America Will Always Stand

She stands in the face of evil
And will not lose hope or faith
America, the land of freedom
Still the home of the brave.

So raise the banner, called Old Glory
Let us join our fellow man
History will write the story,
America will always stand.

Walking through the fires of danger
There are those who gave their lives
They’re the world’s greatest heroes,
And we won’t forget their sacrifice.

So raise the banner, called Old Glory
Let us join our fellow man
History will write the story,
America will always stand.

America is not divided
Our enemies they will be stopped.
‘Cause, we the people are united
And still, one nation Under God.

So raise the banner, called Old Glory
Let us join our fellow man
History will write the story,
America will always stand.

History will write the story,
America will always stand…

Songwriters: Becky Bluefield / Doc Walley / Michael Anthony Curtis / Randy Travis / Yvonne Sanson
America Will Always Stand lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Soul Taker Secrets – The Council Of Twelve PicNic (Vegetarian)


In several of my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ books the members of the Council, together with their consorts meet to spend some time together, relax, talk, enjoy nice conversations, jokes and laughter. Sometimes they meet in one of the member’s houses for dinner, but occasionally they organize a picnic. Today I decided to provide you with the recipes of the latest ‘Council Of Twelve’ picnic. Enjoy! (And feel free to try out the recipes!)

Amazon Ebook US
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Amazon Paperback UK
Amazon Kindle DE
Amazon Paperback DE
Barnes & Noble
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Kobo
iTunes

 


Fruit Platter

Ingredients
Figleaves
Golden pineapple, peeled, cut in 8ths lengthwise, core removed and sliced crosswise
Cantaloupe, peeled, cut in half and sliced
Fresh blueberries
Fresh strawberries
Fresh raspberries

Directions
Arrange the fig leaves on a platter. Place the pineapple and cantaloupe on top of the fig leaves, and artfully arrange the blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries over the top of the pineapple and cantaloupe.

(Source: Foodnetwork.com


Cheese Plate

Cheese of your choice:

Roquefort
Camembert
Cotija
Chèvre
Feta
Mozzarella
Emmental
Cheddar
Gouda
Taleggio
Parmigiano-Reggiano
Manchego
Monterey Jack

1. Brie. Brie is a soft ripened cheese with a rind that helps to preserve the interior. Brie has a very creamy texture and a strong aroma that develops with age. Brie is great with fruit, crusty bread, crackers or toasted fruit bread.

2. Camembert. Camembert is also a soft and creamy cheese with a powdery rind. Similar to Brie, there are some differences as they are ripened differently.

3. Blue Cheese. Traditional Blue Cheese has cultures added to it so that the final product has fine blue veins running through it. Blue cheese has a distinct smell and can be crumbled or melted over other foods. Types of blue cheese include Gorgonzola, Blue Stilton, and Bleu de Gex.

4. Gouda. Gouda is a yellow cheese mainly produced in Holland. It is made in a round mold and has a distinct taste and a complete rind. Gouda can be aged for varying periods of time so the taste and texture depend on how long it is aged.

5. Maasdam. Maasdam cheese is creamy, but a bit sweet and fruity. Great for sandwiches, grilled cheese or eaten with fruit.

6. Grana Padano. Grana Padano is one of Italy’s most popular cheeses. It is a hard cheese and very tasty shaved over pasta or salad.

7. Smoked Cheese. Smoked cheeses are smoked in a traditional way so the outer skin is usually a brownish color. It has a smoky flavor and is sliceable, great on toasted sandwiches or with crackers. Types of smoked cheese include Gruyère, Smoked Gouda, and Provolone.

8. Edam. Edam cheese comes in a sphere, it is pale yellow and has a red paraffin wax coating. Edam is a semi-soft cheese with a mild taste and little smell but as it ages the taste and smell increase.

9. Swiss Cheese. Swiss Cheese is an ‘eye cheese’ or ‘hole cheese’, it has a smooth satiny texture and is slightly sweet in taste. It is a firm cheese which has a wide appeal so it is great for cooking, sandwiches, or a cheese board.

10. Feta. Feta has a deliciously soft and creamy texture. It has a slightly savory flavor and crumbles easily so it is good for salads, antipasto, savory pastries or served with crusty bread and crackers.

11. Cheddar. Cheddar cheese if a hard cheese with a sharp taste. It is one of the most popular cheeses and can be used in a variety of ways such as cooking, for sandwiches or with crackers and wine.

(Source: Weekendnotes.com)


Bread

Ingredients

1 to 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water*
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, molasses, or maple syrup
3 1/2 cups 100% Whole Wheat Flour, White Whole Wheat Flour, or Organic White Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 packet active dry yeast dissolved in 2 tablespoons of the water in the recipe
1/4 cup Special Dry Milk or nonfat dried milk
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

*Use the greater amount in winter or in a dry climate; the lesser amount in summer or a humid climate.

Instructions
In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. For easiest, most effective kneading, let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes in the bowl; this gives the flour a chance to absorb some of the liquid, and the bran to soften.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased surface, oil your hands, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it begins to become smooth and supple. (You may also knead this dough in an electric mixer or food processor, or in a bread machine programmed for “dough” or “manual.”) Note: This dough should be soft, yet still firm enough to knead. Adjust its consistency with additional water or flour, if necessary.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl or large measuring cup, cover it, and allow the dough to rise till puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and shape it into an 8″ log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the bread to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or till the center has crowned about 1″ above the rim of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. The finished loaf will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

Remove the bread from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool. If desired, rub the crust with a stick of butter; this will yield a soft, flavorful crust. Cool completely before slicing. Store the bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

(Source: Kingarthurflour.com)


Yogurt

Ingredients
4 cups whole milk, the fresher the better
¼ cup heavy cream (optional)
3 to 4 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt with live and active cultures

Instructions
Rub an ice cube over the inside bottom of a heavy pot to prevent scorching (or rinse the inside of the pot with cold water). Add milk and cream, if using, and bring to a bare simmer, until bubbles form around the edges, 180 to 200 degrees. Stir the milk occasionally as it heats.

Remove pot from heat and let cool until it feels pleasantly warm when you stick your pinkie in the milk for 10 seconds, 110 to 120 degrees. (If you think you’ll need to use the pot for something else, transfer the milk to a glass or ceramic bowl, or else you can let it sit in the pot.) If you’re in a hurry, you can fill your sink with ice water and let the pot of milk cool in the ice bath, stirring the milk frequently so it cools evenly.

Transfer 1/2 cup of warm milk to a small bowl and whisk in yogurt until smooth. Stir yogurt-milk mixture back into remaining pot of warm milk. Cover pot with a large lid. Keep pot warm by wrapping it in a large towel, or setting it on a heating pad, or moving to a warm place, such as your oven with the oven light turned on. Or just set it on top of your refrigerator, which tends to be both warm and out of the way.

Let yogurt sit for 6 to 12 hours until the yogurt is thick and tangy; the longer it sits, the thicker and tangier it will become. (I usually let it sit for the full 12 hours.) Transfer the pot to the refrigerator and chill for at least another 4 hours; it will continue to thicken as it chills.

(Source: Cooking.nytimes.com)


Cajun Nuts

Ingredients
2 tablespoons bacon grease
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 cup unsalted cashews
1 cup whole unsalted almonds
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
Cajun Seasoning
1/4 cup Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Instructions
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for Cajun seasoning. (You will only use 1/2 tablespoon of this mixture. Save the rest for other uses.)
In a small pan heat bacon grease over low heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Place nuts in a large bowl.
Drizzle bacon fat/garlic over nuts and toss to coat.
Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of cajun seasoning, salt, sugar, and black pepper over nuts. Toss to coat evenly.
Pour nuts onto a large baking sheet and place in oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

(Source: Spicysouthernkitchen.com)


Devilled Eggs

Ingredients
10 hard cooked eggs, peeled and halved
½ cup homemade mayo
4 tablespoons melted butter
salt
paprika

Instructions
Scoop out the yolks of each egg and set aside.
Arrange the whites on a platter.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the yolks, mayo, and butter until smooth.
Season to taste with salt.
Put the yolk mixture in a piping bag, and pipe the mixture into the halved whites. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sprinkle with paprika before serving.

(Source: Yummly.com)


Ranch Salad Bites

Ingredients

16 slices French baguette
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained
1/4 cup green onions (finely chopped)
40 sprays salad (wish-bone, spritzers ranch dressing)

Instructions
Combine arugula, roasted red peppers and green onions in medium bowl. Spritz with 24 sprays Wish-Bone® Salad Spritzers® Ranch Dressing.

Evenly top bread with vegetable mixture, then spritz with remaining Dressing. Serve immediately.

Arrange bread on serving platter; set aside.

(Source: Yummly.com)


Beet, Goat Cheese, and Grapefruit Salad

Ingredients
1 cup roasted beets
2 ounces of goat cheese (crumbled)
1 grapefruit (cut into segments)
1/4 cup hazelnuts
2 sprigs fresh mint
4 cups mixed greens
balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon EVOO

Directions
Preheat the oven at 350F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and spread the hazelnuts over the tray. Roast for 5 -10 minutes until golden. Allow the hazelnuts to cool and then chop roughly.
Remove the peel from the grapefruit and cut it into segments.
Crumble the goat cheese, and finely chop the mint.
Cut the beets into small wedges.
Layers the greens, beets, grapefruit, goat cheese, hazelnuts and mint on a large serving platter. Dress the salad with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

(Source: Yummly.com)


Super Fruity Beet & Pear Salad

Ingredients 
1/2 cup wish-bone superfruit berry vinaigrette dressing
2 beets (large, peeled, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
2 pears (large, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 head Boston lettuce (torn into bite-sized pieces)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon goat cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans

Directions
Toss Wish-Bone® Superfruit Berry Vinaigrette Dressing, beets, pears, tomatoes and parsley in large bowl.
Arrange boston lettuce on serving platter, then top with beet mixture, goat cheese and pecans. Sprinkle, if desired, with freshly ground black pepper.

(Source: Yummly.com)


Wedge Salad Platter

Ingredients
2 heads of iceberg lettuce look for light weight heads
4 ounces blue cheese crumbled
1 cup chopped cooked bacon
3 boiled eggs see below for perfect boiled egg instructions
1 1/2 cups store bought blue cheese dressing

Instructions
Boil eggs: Put eggs in large sauce pan. Fill with cool water about an inch higher than the egg. (Add 1 tablespoon vinegar which will make them easier to peel). Bring to boil. Remove from heat, cover pan and let sit for 10 minutes for a perfect medium hard boiled egg. Remove eggs to a pan of cool water to stop cooking process. Peel when cool
Slice both heads of lettuce into 4 equal size portions for a total of 8 wedges and place on tray.
Sprinkle with blue cheese dressing, bacon, eggs and cheese crumbles. Add an additional bowl of dressing in the center.

(Source: Laughingspatula.com)


Chocolate Lava Cakes

Ingredients
Baking spray, for spraying custard cups
1 stick butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray four custard cups with baking spray and place on a baking sheet.
Microwave the butter, bittersweet chocolate and semisweet chocolate in a large bowl on high until the butter is melted, about 1 minute. Whisk until the chocolate is also melted. Stir in the sugar until well blended. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, then add the vanilla. Stir in the flour. Divide the mixture among the custard cups.
Bake until the sides are firm and the centers are soft, about 13 minutes. Let stand 1 minute. Invert on individual plates while warm and serve with vanilla ice cream.

(Source: Foodnetwork.com)


Blackberry Cheesecake Squares

Ingredients
Crust:
Cooking spray, for spraying foil
One 11-ounce box vanilla wafers
1/2 cup pecans
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
Filling:
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
Topping:
4 cups blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust: Line a 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Place the vanilla wafers and pecans into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse again until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. (If they come up the sides, that’s okay!)
For the filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the sour cream and mix again.
Pour the filling into the crust, smooth the top and bake for 50 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the oven door and allow the pan to sit in the open oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
For the topping: Add the blackberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water to a saucepan or skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the juices thicken slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, make a slurry by stirring together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. Add the slurry to the berries, return to the boil and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool the mixture.
Pour the blackberries over the cheesecake and place the pan into the fridge to cool and set for at least 2 hours (several hours is better).
When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the pan by lifting the edges of the foil. Slice into 15 pieces with a long serrated knife.

(Source: Foodnetwork.com)


Lime Poke Cake

Ingredients
Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, well shaken
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
One 3-ounce box lime gelatin
Topping:
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Green sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the buttermilk and vanilla in a spouted measuring cup; set aside.
Beat the granulated sugar and butter in a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer) at medium speed until very light in color and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. With the mixer still running on medium, slowly add the eggs and beat until fully incorporated. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting; with the mixer running, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture, then 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining buttermilk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and beat until well mixed.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Use a large fork to poke holes an inch apart in the top and all the way through the cake.
Bring 1 cup water to a boil, pour over the gelatin in a medium bowl and stir until completely dissolved about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cold water. Pour the mixture evenly over the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Put a large bowl (for whipping the cream) in the refrigerator.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Whip the cream with the granulated sugar and vanilla in the chilled bowl until fluffy. Spread it over the cake and sprinkle the sanding sugar on top. Slice and serve.

(Source: Foodnetwork.com)


P.S. Don’t forget that these lashings of food are calculated for 17 people, 12 of them huge and strong warriors.