Monday, October 26, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Truffles

It's almost Halloween, and as anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook knows, Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. I was scrolling through recipes this afternoon and came across a recipe on that was so cute I couldn't resist sharing it with you. 

Take a look at these adorable pumpkin truffles: 

Are they cute, or what? 

The recipe says that they're "bursting with flavor from pumpkin puree, cream cheese, cinnamon graham crackers, and plenty of spices." The cream cheese flavor isn't overwhelming, but gives the candies a pleasant cheesecake flavor. I'll post the basic recipe here, but you can find the full thing here:

  • 6 oz white chocolate, chopped (or use chips)
  • 2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup powdered dry milk
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs (I recommend using cinnamon grahams)
  • 1 lb orange colored candy coating
  • 3 oz green colored candy coating
Yield 24-30 truffles


1. In a small bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave in short bursts until it is melted and entirely smooth. Set aside for now.

2. Combine the softened cream cheese and the pumpkin puree in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth and combined. Scrape the bowl and beat again to make sure there are no lumps in the cream cheese.

3. Add the powdered milk, the powdered sugar, and the pumpkin pie spice. Beat on low until incorporated, then scrape down the mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, until very smooth.

4. Add the melted white chocolate and mix until incorporated. Finally, stir in the graham cracker crumbs.

5. The mixture will be fairly soft at this point. Press cling wrap on the top and refrigerate it until firm enough to roll, about 2 hours.

6. When the candy is firm, use a candy scoop or a teaspoon to scoop up small balls. Dust your hands with powdered sugar and roll the truffles between your palms to make them round.

7. Melt the orange candy coating in a microwave-safe bowl until melted and fluid.

8. Dip the truffles in the coating, one by one, using dipping tools or a fork. Set them on a foil-lined baking sheet when finished.

9. To make them look more like pumpkins, add a bit of melted chocolate to the remaining orange coating to turn it a darker shade of brownish-orange. Put it in a small plastic bag and snip off a tiny corner. Pipe intersecting lines across the top of the truffles.

10. Finish them off with green leaves: melt the green candy coating and put it in a plastic bag as well. Draw a small swirl on to of each pumpkin truffle to simulate vines or leaves. (Note: There are two #9s in the recipe on the website. I've renumbered here.) 

11. Refrigerate the truffles to set the coating, for about 10 minutes, before serving. Store Pumpkin Spice Truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and bring them to room temperature before serving.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Trading Spaces

This is my last week in Missouri, taking care of my grandkids. My daughter is coming home tomorrow, so we'll get a couple of days to visit before I leave to go back to Florida. I've been living her life for the past two weeks, getting kids up and ready for school, doing laundry and dishes for four, doing homework after school and refereeing the inevitable spats between sisters who share a room. 

I've loved every minute of my time with the kids and I've had a great visit with my son-in-law. We've talked about everything there is to talk about and we've pretty much figured out how to save the world should anyone ever put us in charge. But I'm exhausted. 

I don't know if my daughter would feel equally worn-out if she were to take over my life for two weeks, what with the writing, the blogging and the demands of social media. I like to think she might find it somewhat challenging, but I could be deluding myself. All I know is, after living her life for a couple of weeks, I have a deeper respect for her. 

Today was probably my most challenging morning yet. The kids and I went to a party hosted by the local Baptist Church last night. The invitation said from 6:00 to 7:00, and in the interest of being supportive and a team-player in this small-town atmosphere, I thought it might be fun. 

The event was supposed to include a "weinie roast" and games. Turned out to be cooking hot dogs and S'mores over a bonfire and a kitchen filled with great food and a bunch of kids racing around and squealing -- all great fun. 

About the time I was getting ready to go home, I learned that the evening's festivities also included a hayride from town to the lake and back again. It was crisp and cold and a perfect October night, and I loved being out in the fresh air and experiencing autumn at its best -- but it meant that we were all out later than I'd expected and that gave this morning a rough start. 

I wasn't careful about what, how, and when I ate yesterday, so I started the day off not feeling well. A crew of men showed up this morning without warning to fix some damage to the drive leading to the house just as I was taking the kids to school. By the time I got back and got the message that my son-in-law needed me to bring him something to him in town, I was completely blocked in by half a dozen trucks, a back-hoe and several mounds of dirt.

The crew eventually finished, and off to town I went, but whatever schedule I had in my head when I woke up was completely shot. 

Luckily, we'd planned a crockpot meal for dinner tonight -- a meal my daughter had pinned on Pinterest that looked quick and easy. She's made it several times and her family always enjoys it, and it's my turn today. 

Photo from The Larson Lingo
You can find the recipe and more about it on The Larson Lingo blog, and it really does seem to qualify as one of the easiest dinners ever. Ingredients include a frozen bag of chicken tenders, a block of cream cheese, a can each of black beans, corn and Rotel. Dump it all in the crockpot and cook it for 8-10 hours on low. You can find the pin here

Give it a try some day when the world is falling down around your ears. It's certainly made my day a lot easier! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Writing Candy Apple Dead

Having recently discovered that all the books in the Candy Shop Mystery Series were available in digital format, I've been thinking about the series a lot. I loved writing this series, and I still get notes and letters from readers who love the series, as well. The characters were a lot of fun to work with, and I had a great time coming up with Abby Shaw, her family and friends. 

I based the story in Candy Apple Dead on real-life events, the death of a personal friend that I never believed happened the way the police said it did. My friend, Terry, owned a clothing store in Salt Lake City, and back in the day I was a member of a local band. We were known for wearing matching clothes--clothes that Terry tailored for us in his shop. 

One morning I woke up to the news that Terry's shop had burned down in the middle of the night and his body had been found inside the store. I was devastated. Truly devastated. The police determined that Terry had set the fire himself, but I never believed it, so when I found myself at the start of a brand-new mystery series with a whole new set of characters to create and a new protagonist to work with, I thought it might bring me some closure to solve a case like Terry's. 

Am I suggesting that Terry's death happened the way I wrote it in Candy Apple Dead? No. Not at all. I want to be very clear on that. As any writer can tell you, we might begin with a particular person or situation in mind, but the characters in the book soon come to life, take on personalities of their own, and say and do things the original inspiration would never have said or done. 

People appeared in Brandon's life that never existed in Terry's. The one true character that existed in both Terry's life and Brandon's was Max, the inventory retrieval specialist. No, I didn't end up with the real Max after Terry died, but Terry did give me my doberman, Pride, and I loved that dog like crazy. 

You can read an excerpt from Candy Apple Dead and find buying information here

Did working through my friend's death in a work of fiction help? Yes, I think it did. If you're new to the series, I hope you'll enjoy getting to know Abby and the folks of Paradise, Colorado. If you try any of the candy recipes included in the books, please let me know how they turn out. 

Happy Reading! 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Candy Shop Mysteries Available in e-book Format!

It's amazing what you can find when you're clicking around on the Internet. The other day, I stumbled across copies of all five books in the Candy Shop Mystery Series available in e-book format. Who knew? I certainly didn't! I'm not sure why, but this was news to me. Great news! Exciting news! I'm personally thrilled to learn that the books are still available, and excited to have a way to share them with readers. 
I'm working on getting excerpts up for all the books, but it may take me a few days, so please be patient with me. 

First up, Candy Apple Dead, which is the first book in the series. 

Abby Shaw has returned to her hometown of Paradise, Colorado--leaving behind a career in corporate law and a cheating husband--to take over her aunt's candy shop, Divinity. But her sweet new life quickly turns sour when a fellow merchant dies in a fire. With all clues pointing to arson--and Abby's brother as the number one suspect--she must sink her teeth into finding the killer.

To read an excerpt and for information on where to buy a copy, click here:  

If you're read the series before, I hope you enjoy reconnecting with Abby, her family and friends. If you're new to the series, welcome! Enjoy!