Category Archives: Food and Recipes

Chili Verde Recipe

For anyone who’s interested, here’s a chili verde recipe my daughter uses and loves.¬† It’s from a Web site called Simply Recipes (simplyrecipes.com). I haven’t made it myself, but it appears to be fairly easy and not too spicy. She cooks it in a Crockpot.

The recipe recommends it be served with rice and tortillas and since it’s Mexican food, I suppose that’s proper. But I like it with cornbread. What can I say? I’m just a country bumpkin. Where I come from, cornbread goes with everything.

Simply Recipes is a great Web site for recipes, by the way. Lots of larrupping food. ūüôā

Chile Verde Recipe

  • Cook time: 3 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
  • 5 garlic cloves, not peeled
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
  • 2 Anaheim or Poblano chiles (optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped
  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds pork shoulder (also called pork butt), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 to 2-inch cubes
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh oregano or 1 Tbsp of dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • Pinch of ground cloves

Method

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1 Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Cut in half and place cut side down, along with 5 unpeeled garlic cloves, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin. Remove from oven, let cool enough to handle.

If you want the additional flavor of chiles other than jalapenos, you can add a couple Anaheim or poblano chiles. Either use canned green chiles or roast fresh chilies over a gas flame or under the broiler until blackened all around. Let cool in a bag, remove the skin, seeds, and stem.

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2 Place tomatillos, skins included, into blender. Remove the now roasted garlic cloves from their skins, add them to the blender. Add chopped Jalape√Īo peppers, other chilies (if you are using them), and cilantro to the blender. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed.

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3 Season the pork cubes generously with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high heat and brown pork chunks well on all sides. Work in batches so that the pork is not crowded in the pan and has a better chance to brown well. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, lift pork out of pan and place in bowl, set aside.

4 Pour off excess fat, anything beyond a tablespoon, and place the onions and garlic in the same skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until limp, about 5 minutes. If your skillet is large enough to cook the entire batch of chile verde, with the sauce and meat, then add the pork back to the pan. If not, get a large soup pot and add the onion mixture and the pork to it. Add the oregano to the pan. Add the tomatillo chile verde sauce to the pork and onions. Add the chicken stock (enough to cover the meat). Add a pinch of ground cloves. Add a little salt and pepper. (Not too much as the chile verde will continue to cook down and concentrate a bit.)

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5 Bring to a boil and reduce to a slight simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours uncovered or until the pork is fork tender.

Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with Spanish rice and warmed flour tortillas or freshly made corn tortillas.

Yield: Serves 8.

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TODAY, IT’S ALL ABOUT MEXICAN FOOD…

Yesterday, I cooked real food from scratch.

And I made the best chile verde I’ve ever made. In fact, it was so awesome I ate two bowls.

I lost my original recipe, so I went searching on the food network and found several. I ended up using a little of theirs and a little of mine, partly because I couldn’t find everything they called for. I had to use what I could get.

So here’s how it went.

First, I put 8 tomatillos into the oven to roast (350-degrees for about 30 minutes.) While that was going on, I moved to the chopping and cutting.

Tomatillo

Tomatillos

I cut a 2-1/2 lb. pork loin roast into 1‚ÄĚ squares. (Personally, I don‚Äôt like stews and chiles made with junky meat.) Then I liberally salted and peppered them. I used 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Then I dredged them in about 1/2 cup of flour. Next, I browned the pork cubes on all sides in 1/4 cup of cooking oil.

While the pork browned, I went at cutting into 1‚ÄĚ squares, 2 green bell peppers, 2 poblano chiles and 2 yellow onions. Depending on how much heat you like, you could add a couple of jalapeno peppers.

After the pork cubes browned, I removed them from the skillet and added the peppers and onions to the same skillet. While they sweated, I minced 3 garlic cloves and chopped the roasted tomatillos into 1″ squares. I also chopped 1 bunch of cilantro.

English: United States Department of Agricultu...

Pork Roast

I put the pork cubes and the peppers and onions into the Crockpot, added 2 tsp. dried oregano and 2 tsp. ground cumin, then covered it with a bottle of LaSabrozita Verde sauce and mixed it up.

Next I added 2 bay leaves and the chopped tomatillos and the garlic and cilantro.

I let the whole thing cook for 4 hours on HIGH.

I made cornbread, too. Cornbread isn’t Mexican food, but it goes really well with it. My husband, being from the Far North, doesn’t appreciate cornbread as much as we Texans do, so I seldom make it. And when I do, I have to eat all of it by myself. (It’s no wonder I’m fat. ūüė¶ )¬† So I halved a square of cornbread and put it in the bottom of a bowl, covered it with a generous serving of the chile verde and topped it with a dollop of sour cream.

I’m not saying this is a perfect chile verde recipe, but what I ended up with was larrupping. You couldn‚Äôt tell it was a recipe that I had literally thrown together. My husband thought it was too hot, but with the cornbread and sour cream, I thought it was just right. ūüôā

I love Mexican cuisine. I grew up with it and it’s as common in Texas as chicken-fried steak and cream gravy. In Mexican restaurants, just like food served in all restaurants, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it isn’t. But one thing I’ve noticed about good, authentic Mexican food cooked from scratch. It’s labor-intensive. It calls for sooo much preparation before you can even get started on the cooking. But if you stick with it, when you finish, it’s usually worth it.

I know of many Hispanic women who make tamales. I’ve attempted tamales only once. Too hard.

I also have a Hispanic friend who makes her own chorizo from scratch. What you buy in the grocery store pales in comparison to hers. I badgered her for weeks to share her recipe with me, but like many scratch cooks, she uses a little of this and a little of that, so she had to think about what to write. But she finally did give me a recipe on paper. I know it‚Äôs delicious because I‚Äôve eaten hers, but I haven‚Äôt yet made it myself. It doesn’t intimidate me nearly like tamales do. When I make it, I‚Äôll give you a full report. My taste buds are already on alert for some chroizo and scrambled eggs. Hmmm!

What about you? Do you have favorite food you like to cook, one that brings raves from your friends and family?

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The Holidays Have Landed…

And so has holiday food. The weather turned cold, we got a little rain, so the Christmas spirit finally hit me. I even got out and did a little shopping.

I also did a little baking. I made¬†one of my favorite cookies and loaded¬†them up with white chocolate chips, dried cherries and fresh pecans. I thought that sounded festive. They turned out fine.¬†¬† …..¬† The price of dried cherries and this year’s fresh pecans¬†just about left me gasping, but then you’ve heard me whine about the price of food before.¬†I calculate those cookies must¬†have cost more than¬†50-cents apiece to make. And they aren’t very big cookies, either.¬† ūüė¶

 

After that, I took a recipe for one of Emeril’s cakes off the Food Channel website and made it. It’s called Chocolate Swirl Bundt Cake with Nutty Topping. It’s a fluffy marble¬†cake accented with praline liqueur and fresh pecans pieces. I haven’t tried a piece of it yet, but the recipe sounded so good, I know it will be larruping. Emeril’s receipe called for walnuts and walnut liqueur, but I had fresh pecans on hand rather than walnuts, so I rushed to the liquor store and bought the praline liqueur ¬†stuff. If you want the recipe, you can go here: ¬†http://www.foodnetwork.com/search/delegate.do?fnSearchString=bundt+cakes&fnSearchType=site

 

If you make it with the walnut liqueur as he recommends, let me know how it turns out.

(On a side note, that praline liqueur is very good on ice cream.) ūüôā

(On another side note, I read somewhere that chocolate is going to nearly double in price in 2012! That is pure evil!)

I will probably make more cookies. I always do. So how about you? What are you baking for the holidays?

****

When my daughter comes to visit, we always make things. This year she brought a recipe called Chocolate Eclair Icebox Dessert. Believe it or not, this is kind of low-cal. And it’s so light,¬†delicious and easy, you don’t feel guilty if you have more than one piece. Guilt-free. That’s the ticket. So here’s the recipe.

CHOCOLATE ECLAIR ICEBOX DESSERT

22-1/2¬†sheets low-fat honey graham crackers (enough to make 2 or 3 layers in a 9×13 pan), 3 cups fat-free milk, 2 (3.4 oz.) packages vanilla or cheesecake instant pudding mix, 1 (8-oz.) pkg. reduced fat cream cheese at room temperature, 1 (8-oz.) tub frozen light cook whip, thawed

Arrange graham cracker sheets to cover the bottom of 13×9 pan coated with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups milk, pudding mix and cream cheese and beat at low speed 1 minute, or until thick. Fold in shipped topping. Spread half the pudding mixture over graham crackers and top with another layer of¬†graham cracker sheets. Repeat with the remaining pudding mixture and another layer of graham crackers. (You can cut out the middle layer of graham crackers if you like.)

TOPPING

1/4 cup fat-free milk, 2 tbsp. margarine or butter, softened, 2 tbsp. honey, 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted, 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (We doubled the topping.)

Combine 1/4 cup milk, softened butter, honey and melted chocolate in medium bowl. Beat well with mixer. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat well. Spread chocolate over graham crackers. Cover dessert and chill 4 hours. Make sure your cover doesn’t touch the chocolate topping. It’s okay to leave it uncovered if necessary.

There you go. Let me know how you like it.

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate! Who Doesn’t Love it?…

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Yum!

The dictionary’s definition of chocoholic is “someones who craves chocolate.” That’s simple enough and pretty much applies to me and most of the people I know. Probably most of the people *you* know. Chocolate is one of the most popular food products in the world. And at this time of year, with it all around us to be part of the holiday enjoyment as well as gifts to be given to friends, we just think more about it.

Chocolate is made from the partial fermentation of beans from¬†cacao trees. The trees¬†are small evergreens that¬†originated in the Amazon basin. They have to grow near the equator because they need a great deal of rainfall and¬†can’t survive temperatures below about 60 degrees. Nowadays,¬†more¬†than three-fourths of the world’s trees are grown in Africa.

The trees were cultivated in Mexico, Central and South America more than a thousand years BC. The Aztecs brewed a bitter drink from thebeans and chili peppers, which was favored by their kings and used as an offering to their gods. Chocolate found its way to Europe after the Aztecs introduced it to the Spaniards.

Hard, durable chocolate didn’t come into existence until the early 1800s when a Dutchman patened a process whereby cocoa butter could be removed from the chocolate. Now,¬†cocoa butter is added back in varying amounts.

More recently, research has revealed potential health benefits from eating chocolate. Limited amounts of dark chocolate appear to help heart disease in that ingredients in dark chocolate appear to inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol and might even lower blood pressure in some people.

So! We just drew names at my job for our Christmas gift exchange. The person whose name I drew is someone I like a lot, so I was thinking and thinking about what I could give her. Then I hit upon the perfect thing. Gourmet chocolates.

Fudge Love Truffle

I used to have some retail stores, in which I sold gourmet candies and chocolates. The¬†brand of chocolate I chose to feature¬†was The Sweet Shop and its handmade truffles that are¬†manufactured¬†in Fort Worth, Texas. Here’s a picture of one of their signature truffles. …. ¬†I can’t even describe how delicious this candy is. It has that smooth ganache center that melts in your mouth. It’s robed¬†with two layers of chocolate. It¬†does not leave a residue on your tongue¬†and¬†floods your mouth and senses with goodness. (If you want to know more¬†about The Sweet Shop candy, you can go here:¬† https://secured.keysql.com/sweetshopusa/shop.asp?site=&kpage=aboutus¬†¬†¬†¬† Or you can go here:¬† www.sweetshopusa.com)

Come on, everyone. Indulge yourselves. Make some fudge. Eat a box of truffles. It’s Christmas!

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Sin!…The Sweet Kind

As you food lovers might know, the great Paula Deene has a line of desserts that’s sold in grocery store bakeries. So a while back, I was lost and wandering through a bakery and I happened across Paula Deene’s Gooey Butter Cake. Two little slices were packaged in an acetate container and the cost was a little more than $3.00. Didn’t seem like a bad price to me, so I bought a container.

Gooey Butter Cake

Well, what can I say? As it turned out, it was a mouth-watering, larruping delicious confection and I ate the whooooole thing. Did I say rich?

So, as I often do when it comes to cooking, I think, “I can make that.”

I start researching recipes.¬† I¬† learn that this cake was introduced in St. Louis and is apparently of German origin. Well, of course it is. German food is just good. Wasn’t it German cooking that gave us PIE?

I also discover that Paula Deene is by no means the only person who makes Gooey Butter Cake. Many people have recipes and they range from pumpkin to chocolate to toffee to caramel. A plethora of mouth-watering, pound-adding richness.

So not wanting to live in sin alone, I’m sharing a recipe for a simple, basic Gooey Butter Cake. This isn’t exactly any particular person’s recipe. It’s one I sort of put together from several recipes. It looks good to me and should be fairly easy. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m going to. I’m willing to give a full report next week and if you like, you might do the same. If you want to know how to bake the various flavors, the recipes are easy to find on the Internet. Here you go, everyone:

GOOEY BUTTER CAKE
Preheat oven to 350-degrees
Mix together 1 box¬† yellow cake mix, 2 eggs, 8 tbsp. butter, melted and press into a 13″ x 9″ baking pan.
In a large bowl, beat 8 oz. cream cheese until smooth. Add 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla. Continue beating until smooth.
Gradually add 16 oz. powdered sugar (I think this is 2 cups) and beat well.
Slowly add 1/2 cup butter, melted, and mix well.
Pour evenly over cake mixture that you’ve pressed into the 13″ x9″ pan.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until center is slightly set.

If any of you have a recipe for Gooey Butter Cake that is different from this one, by all means, share it with us. We can all suffer together.

I should add that my sojourn through bakeries wasn’t over. Just last night, I was wandering again and a Paula Deene’s Carrot Cake just jumped out and said “Take me!”

Get thee behind me, Satan!

Now I would walk over hot coals for carrot cake. But I know that if I just have to have it, I can make it. I have many times. In fact, I have about 20 recipes and all of them are good. So I resisted that temptation to sin and didn’t buy it. I was exceedingly proud of myself.

Gooey Butter Cake is my focus for now. After I make it, I’ll see if I can resist it and thereby, force my husband to eat it. <grin>¬† He would do that just to get it out of my sight.

All I can say for you, Paula Deene, is with only two little slices, you’ve created a monster. The devil is bound to get you!

Anna J

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Progress (Maybe)

Work continues on the blog. I now have the background I want and a header that speaks of Texas. However, I’m still looking for that perfect header. And I might even change the theme.<Sigh>It’s terrible to be such a ditherer. (Is that a word?)

The book covers are all up now–Anna Jeffrey, Sadie Callahan and Dixie Cashbut they are transferred from Flick’r and are in random order. I’m not happy about that, but I apparently can’t change it. As soon as I learn how, I hope to turn the book covers into a slide show.

Anyway, the bottom line to all of this is the blog is still a work in progress.

Also, some new links are up. So if you haven’t signed up for my Yahoo! newsletter that I’ve been sending out for years and want to, there’s a link for it. If you haven’t friended me on Facebook or Twitter and want to, there are links for that, too.

In the future,¬† I’ll be blogging on Tuesdays, God willing. ….. If I get smarter or if more things come up for me to talk about, perhaps I’ll do it more often. It isn’t that I don’t have a lot to say. I’m just not sure if anyone wants to read it.

Working on this blog page is one of the most time-consuming things I’ve ever done. WordPress is very user-friendly, but there are so many options and figuring out how to connect all of these links has had me ready to throw my computer out the window. For a person who can barely manage a cell phone, it’s a brave new world out there. I think this comes under the heading of “Trying to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.”

My latest challenge is RSS. I know that’s an acronym for Real Simple Syndication (thank God for *that*) and WordPress has a link I can install, but I don’t know where to get whatever I’m supposed to connect it to. And I don’t know what happens next after I connect it. Comments, anyone?

Meanwhile, I’m still tearing my hair.¬† {:()

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How not to be successful… :-/

As many of you know, blogging is new to me. I’ve discovered I’m already¬† failure. First, I established a schedule, then I missed the deadline. Then I discovered I need a schedule of topics and some consistency. I’m a failure at that, too, because I suppose my blog is already turning out to be sort of like my life–all over the place and wildly disorganized in an organized way.

Mind you, I don’t love disorganization, though it appears that I do. For instance–and no one understands this–my various research files and pictures are all over the floor, but I know where every one of them is and what’s in it. As long as no one touches them, I’m fine. But occasionally my husband will think he’s doing me a favor and while I’m at work at my real job, he’ll pick them all up and put them in a neat stack. Then it takes me a week to find a single thing. I don’t scream and berate him though, because I know he had good intentions. Need I say that he and I both spend a good deal of time just looking for things.

Then there’s the writing. Someone suggested I should allow one blog day a week to write about writing. Hmm. I gave that some thought and concluded that everything I know about writing could be put in a thimble. I’ve¬† read probably 200 books, maybe more, on how to and why to. I’ve lost count of the number of classes and courses I’ve taken on creative writing in general as well as specific topics that are part of the process. I couldn’t begin to tell you how many fiction and non-fiction books I’ve read. But when I gave it serious thought, I couldn’t think of anything I know that someone else probably doesn’t know already. However, having said that, if I can figure out what someone might like to know about writing, I still might throw in a comment or two about it.

Then there’s reading. Now I do know a lot about reading. I’ve been a voracious reader of everything since I was a little kid. I grew up without the distraction of TV or entertainment most of us now take for granted. Half the time, we didn’t even have radio. Consequently, I read everything that came into the house from magazines to newspapers to….well, you get the idea. Nothing was off limits to us kids when it came to reading. I even read veterinary books and spent some of my youth puzzling about pictures I saw of sheep with huge goiters. (I still don’t know if sheep are more prone to goiters than other animals.) In my monthly newsletter, I do comment briefly on books I’m reading.

This week, I’ll probably be devoting a lot of time to figuring out Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads and other similar sites and how to get them all linked. And how to get my blog moved from “Unclassified” to classified as something. For a novice like me, all of this is a challenge.

Anyway, until I get everything figured out, anything is liable to crop up on my blog. I hope you’ll bear with me.

Anna

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Blogging Tomorrow…

You might notice I’ve changed the name of the blog.Hopefully, this one will work out better.

Tomorrow I’ll be blogging at Sweethearts of the West. Here’s the address: http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com/

“Cookin’ and Eatin’ in the Olden Days” is the name of my post. I’m making a short comment on something Nellie Witt Spikes wrote in “As a Farm Woman Thinks.” I would almost swear that woman sneaked into my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s houses and spied on them, except I know that what she wrote was how life was with everyone in West Texas. Until the oil boom, things in that part of the world progressed at a slightly different pace from say, life in Dallas or Houston.

Cooking has always interested me. I’m a frequent visitor to the Food Network online and I watch many of the cooking shows on TV when my husband is out of the house. He equates watching those shows with watching paint dry. That’s a curious thing to me because he does like to eat. I can’t recall how or when I first developed the interest in food preparation except to say that I learned how to cook at a young age, then took a few classes on cooking this and that throughout my life. Let’s face it. We all have to eat. And one look at me tells you I’ve eaten pretty well. As you who’ve read my books know, I often include scenes related to food and cooking in my stories. In fact, the heroine in “Sweet Water” managed her mother’s cafe.

So drop by Sweethearts of the West if you have a moment and read an interesting piece of trivia about how eating used to be. No fast food, no frozen dinners, no pre-prepared skillet meals to which you just add water. Imagine how different your life would be if you had to depend entirely on your ability, or someone else’s, to garden and preserve food. Or if you had to raise your own chickens or steers or hogs for meat, all of which my grandparents did. And maybe yours, too. Nowadays, all of that is a scary thought to me. I cringe when I think of something destructive happening to the trucking industry that hauls our food from Point A to Point B.

Though I grew up with gardening going on all around me, I really don’t know how to be successful at it. My pathetic attempts at tomatoes and green peppers and a few onions show me that I would flat starve to death if I had to grow my own food. For instance, my husband and I bought a green pepper plant in a pot. The plant grew to be more than three feet high and had blooms all over. I argued that some of the blooms should have been pulled off, but he didn’t pluck them. Finally, baby peppers appeared and that’s what they remained–baby peppers. I have one in my refrigerator right now that’s the size of a golf ball. It’s green, it has the right shape, but it’s a poor excuse for a green pepper. And I haven’t had the nerve to taste it.

How about you? Are you a gardener and a food preserver? Will you be able to survive if the trucking industry collapses?

Anna

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You Never Know….

Thanks to all of you from my newsletter who came and subscribed to the blog. I recognized most of your names. Also thanks to the Entangled authors who subscribed.

Changes are already¬† in the works. I’m so naive about blogging, I didn’t think to Google the name of the blog before I posted it. Consequently, I didn’t know another Anna Jeffrey had aWordpress blog called “Anna Jeffrey’s Blog.” ….. Oops. ….. I would’ve thought WordPress would’ve made me aware of that duplication when I was signing up and working on the nuts and bolts, but they didn’t. Aside from that, how could there be another Anna Jeffrey in the world blogging on WordPress? Anna Jeffrey seems like an unusual name to me. Another example of how small the world is.

The other Anna Jeffrey has made only one post and it’s from last year. She starts out with “For a long time I thought that the idea of a blog was narcissistic.” Wow. Of all the things I think about blogging, the last thing I would think is that bloggers are narcissists.

Actually, I think bloggers are brave. The fact is that bloggers, on occasion, have made pivotal changes in world events. One of the things that has kept me from doing it is fearing putting my thoughts and opinions out there for the world to see. It isn’t quite the same thing as writing a novel. Even though all writers hope to see the world read and embrace their words, there’s still an arcane veil of privacy between the novelist and the reader. Blogging seems more personal.¬† I know that’s weird logic, but that’s my thinking.

Having said all of that, I’ll be changing the title to something like Anna Jeffrey Says or Anna Jeffrey’s Comments or Thoughts or something like that. If you have some suggestions, by all means, let me hear them.

Smiles and have a good day,                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anna

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Hello, World….

This is my first post on Anna Jeffrey’s Blog.¬† So if you’re reading it, welcome.¬† I hope you’ll subscribe and come back often. A special hello to any of you who have been getting my newsletter for the past several years.¬† Here, I’ll be doing much the same thing that I’ve been doing in my newsletter–commenting on writing and the writing life, reading and publishing, all of which are changing as I type.

For you who don’t know me, I write character-driven contemporary steamy romance novels. I call them mainstream romances about real people and how they deal with and do or do not resolve real problems in their everyday lives. Sort of like soap operas on paper. A list of my Anna Jeffrey and Sadie Callahan books is posted in the side panel.

I’m also the co-author of a zany comedy/romance series written under the pseudonym of Dixie Cash. I hope to add those covers as soon as I figure out how to do it. I’m not exactly the smartest person in the world of electronics and computers.

I’m presently embarking on a new contemporary trilogy for Entangled Publishing, called the TEXAS TRILOGY. This is a 3-book saga (sort of) of a wealthy, but dysfunctional old Texas family. Think the TV show, Dallas. It’s slated for release in February, so I’ll be posting pertinent information as the process goes along.

So that’s it in a nutshell. Thanks for stopping by and I’m looking forward to seeing you again.

Anna

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