African Sweet Potato Soup by @Donna_Fasano

This recipe for African Sweet Potato Soup comes from my novel Two Hearts in Winter. My protagonist, Heather Phillips, cooks an international meal for her friends to celebrate the holiday. This soup is served as part of that meal in the opening scenes of the book. There is nothing more comforting during the cold winter months than a bowl of hot, flavorful sweet potato soup. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Soup

African Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled, chopped
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth (store-bought is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/3 cup chopped, unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced fine

Directions:

1. Add the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Sauté the onion until golden, about 8-10 min. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon. Stir in the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.

2. Pour the broth into the saucepan. Add salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

3. Remove the soup mixture from heat. Using a food processor or blender, blend the soup and peanuts until almost smooth. Return to the saucepan. Whisk in the peanut butter, and cook on medium heat until just heated through. Serve warm topped with minced parsley.

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Sweet Potato Soup

Loss and betrayal have caused Heather Phillips to give up on love. She’s thrown herself into running The Lonely Loon, her Bed and Breakfast located on the boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland. The “off season” in this tourist town is usually a time of rest and reflection for her; however, DB Atwell, a famous author, arrives at The Loon for the winter to finish his long-overdue novel. Daniel, too, has faced grief, and tragedy continues to haunt him. Once Heather and Daniel meet, their lives will never be the same.

Reminiscent of Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks and culminating in a happily-ever-after similar to the great Nora Roberts, Two Hearts in Winter is a story about learning to let go of the past, about realizing that, though hardship affects us, it need not define us, and about coming to understand and truly believe that beauty is sometimes covered in scars. The human heart has an amazing ability to forgive, to heal, and to hope, especially when touched by love.

Titles in the Ocean City Boardwalk Series:
Following His Heart, Book 1
Two Hearts in Winter, Book 2
Wild Hearts of Summer, Book 3

Moving along, very slowly

So 2020 is over, but the new year didn’t start on the right foot and the level of stress hasn’t decreased at all. Talking about stress, how do you cope and survive? How do you deal with that unbearable itching that seems to eat at your heart?

Last year I locked myself at home, avoiding public places since March 2020: no supermakets, no restaurants, no hairdresser, no dentists, no ophthalmologist, no mall, no retail stores,…

The doctors’ appointments were all postponed until further notice. My hairdresser went out of business. Our ophthalmologist died and our dentist moved to another state.

My husband handles the grocery shopping and I haven’t seen my friends in ages. After avoiding the grandchildren for a couple of months, now we meet them on the beach–one of the benefits of living on the ocean.

I learned to overcome my fear of height and walk for hours on the terrace of our high-rise where no one ever comes. My biggest problem is nibbling non-stop, mostly on dry fruits and frozen fruits, since I don’t like chocolate–dried plums with breakfast, dried figs and dates for snack, dried mango with a 5:00 o’clock tea at 4 pm, dried apricot for dessert with frozen mixed berries. The only dried fruits I threw away were the gingers. After I opened my mouth to scream at the bitterness, I couldn’t even close it. But the ginger chews are delicious and excellent for the stomach.

Writing helped me keep my sanity. Between September and December 2020, I published the following books: Sunshine Over Snow; His Son, Her Daughter; Half a Dozen with Love; Love in the ER; Love on the Slopes.

Secret Kisses is released today, and Between Babies and Girlfriends will be my Valentine book.

In addition to the above, there are five books that were part on ABB boxes and will be published later in 2021: Dalia’s Christmas Wish, Baby Plans, Rescue Plans, Sailing Away Plans, Flirting Plans.

SECRET KISSES: Love You Doc Series, book 4

Katy Mahoney, Hoda Seif, and Sarah Kohn. Three girls from different backgrounds and religions pledged to maintain their friendship forever.

Worried that their daughter Hoda might adopt the behavior and habits of the Western world, her parents choose an Egyptian fiancé, eager to immigrate to the United States. Too young to know any better, Hoda agrees, until she meets Katy’s cousin, the handsome medical resident, Liam Olson, and receives her first kiss. With Katy’s help, Hoda stays in touch with the man of her dreams.

On high school graduation day, things get complicated when Hoda’s fiancé shows up to claim his reluctant bride. and doesn’t hide his concern about her negative attitude, especially once he notices her lovely friend, the bubbly Sarah, and falls in love with her.

Meanwhile Katy meets Hoda’s oldest brother Tarek, a dark and handsome medical graduate who can’t take his eyes off her. The graduation weekend ends with Hoda and Omar breaking off their engagement, Omar renting a room in Sarah’s house, and Tarek and Katy going on their first date. Three best friends, three secret and forbidden romances. For five years, the three friends meet and exchange confidences and advice.

Will the three friends manage to convince their families to let them marry for love or will tradition tear the lovers apart?

SEXY and SEDUCTIVE HEROES!!
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08MWK9PCT/

Using Your Imagination

One of the great blessings of childhood is a vivid imagination. A child can make a blanket into a tent or a robe, a stick into a sword or scepter, a couch into a castle or mountain. Give a child a cardboard box and he will find more uses for it than just a packing container.

The simpler the object, the easier it is to turn it into a versatile plaything. Give a child an object that is too refined, like a toy kitchen set, and it cannot be “imagined” into anything else. When I teach Bible classes, I use blocks and marbles for towns and people.

As we age we sometimes lose that kind of ability to imagine objects as anything but what they are. Instead, we go into our minds and travel or dream from there. With the present stay-in-place requests by the government, many of us understand what solitary confinement entails. It gives us plenty of time to dream. At least we have the Internet, with Netflix and online shopping.

What are you doing that uses your imagination? Cooking new recipes? Playing new games with your children? Becoming a schoolteacher since your children are staying at home? If you want a free way to teach your child to read, go to www.raisingupgiants@wixsite.com/free where I have a free reading program. My seven-year-old brother taught me to read at age four, so learning to read is fun, at least the way I show you.

My last book out was Avalanche Puppy, which is part of a new Authors’ Billboard Amazon 99 cent collection, Unforgettable Joy. I wanted to put some humor in it, so I made my dog, Brat, a Border Collie. Brat wants his own way, which includes building his “herd” of his owner/trainer and the young man who wants to act as his handler.

Border Collies are high-energy dogs with minds of their own, and it was fun to write about him. They will nip at your heels to try to herd you together, and when you protest, will just “smile.”

As usual I’m writing another story and planning more. My second-chance-at-love story takes place at a dude ranch, where the new cook turns out to be the woman the owner had dated in college. He hadn’t recognized her married name when he hired her. Then the woman he is currently interested in shows up as a guest. Her name has also been changed as she is in the witness protection program. This story will be part of “Sweet and Sassy in the Summertime”, which is due out in late June.

So use your imagination and chase away boredom. If you need help, remember to go to our Authors’ Billboard monthly board and join our Easter Egg Hunt contest. I have four books on the board, all of which will be free on different weeks, including this week.

Pets are Priceless Pains in the Butt

Whether it’s an old one-eyed cat you started feeding as a stray or a custom-bred ‘designer dog’ you paid thousands of dollars for, all pets are priceless. Or should be considered as such. They’re a limited time joy, their unconditional love unmatched by emotional two-legged humans.

Granddaughter Ruby and her Pomeranian guardians

If a box isn’t available, the sink will do!

A dog’s wagging tail (or a stub of one) when you enter the room and cat’s snooty aloofness when you find him in your favorite chair, daring you to remove him, (his way of saying, ‘Pick me up and hold me, too!) go beyond words.
Yes, it costs to be a responsible pet owner, but here are a few priceless—or at least low cost—hints on how to keep your home cleaner and maybe more enjoyable for you and your pet.
Sheets and shedding. Almost all cats and most dogs shed, and seem to enjoy lazing on beds. I found that laying out a simple yet colorful sheet on top of my bedspread is a great ‘hair and dander’ catcher. I wash it once a week, rotating it with another colorful sheet so the bed is never bare. After all, it’s much easier to wash a sheet than a fluffy comforter! Make sure you dry your sheets in a dryer with a dryer sheet and a clean lint trap. You’ll be surprised, and a bit grossed out, on how much shed fur it traps!
Keep a towel near the door during rainy and snowy seasons to wipe down the dog when he comes in after his outdoor duties. If you make it a loving experience, they’ll not fight or try and get away. This saves lots of frazzled nerves from keeping wet pets off clean floors and/or furniture.
Cleaning cat boxes is a necessary chore, but doesn’t have to be labor intensive. I bought an amazing cat box, manufactured in Canada. Omega Paws is a ‘roll me over’ enclosed box that traps the cat litter clumps in a drawer. After inverting the box, simply pull out the trap drawer on the side and dispose of the waste in the trash. I bought mine on Amazon (http://amzn.to/2mI3Tej). Just make sure you use clumping cat litter. No matter what type of cat box, though, a nappy rug under and in front of it catches loose litter from kitty paws. Shake regularly to limit litter spread to the rest of the house.
If you live in an area of the country where fleas and ticks are present, make sure you use a once-a-month deterrent such as Revolution. Oregon is famous for the prevalence of fleas, yet I’ve never seen one nor had to deal with ear mites. I stay on top of the regimen because prevention is so much easier than eradication. Call your vet about what he suggests (department store brands have been known to kill dogs!) and ask if he gives quantity discounts. Mine buys the product in bulk and offers a deep discount if I bring in my small dogs for their monthly dabs on the back of the neck. Buy four packages get one free is also an option with some vets.
Do you love men who love critters? Read about Jay, the young mechanic who has a way with feral cats, and a young woman’s heart, in Kit Kringle: An Alaskan Tale. Part of Unforgettable Christmas (only 99 cents for the whole box set).

Kit Kringle: An Alaskan Tale, part of Unforgettable Christmas