by Kimberly Kincaid
Confession time: I’m a gigantic foodie (what’d you think the F stood for?!)
The Reader’s Digest explanation is that all my stories revolve around characters and settings that have a direct relationship with food. Chefs in traditional restaurant settings are my go-to, but I’ve also written about caterers, wine experts, restaurant owners and personal chefs. Not everyone is professionally trained or fancy. In fact, Jules, the heroine in my latest release, is the manager at Mac’s Diner, and her specialty is comforting people through comfort food. The truth is, foodie love can be found in lots of places (even off the pages and in your own kitchen!) if you know where to look for it.
Just be forewarned. Getting hungry as you read my books is an occupational hazard. So snack often, and don’t read hungry!
Jules’s Stuffed French Toast
¼ cup milk (not skim, but 2% is okay)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8-oz. package cream cheese (not fat free! Trust me on this, it doesn’t set up properly), softened
1 Tablespoon honey (I used orange flavored, but any will do)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (plus more for sprinkling)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ cup orange marmalade (I just go from the jar and don’t quite measure this— it’s more to taste)
One loaf brioche, preferably a few days old, cut into an even number of one-inch thick slices
Cooking spray for the griddle
Spray a griddle or non-stick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat, but no higher. While it warms, whisk eggs, milk and vanilla in a shallow bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, honey, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sugar together until combined. Spread about 2 Tablespoons (-ish, you can eyeball this, really, but you want a good layer) of cream cheese mixture on one side of a slice of brioche. Repeat process with one Tablespoon (again, approximate, but as long as the ratio is about 2:1, you’ll be great) orange marmalade on another slice of brioche. Put both slices together like a sandwich (cream cheese facing marmalade). Repeat with remaining bread, cream cheese mixture and marmalade.
Just before cooking (and I do mean just!), dip each side of the “sandwich” in egg mixture to coat the outside of the bread completely, without soaking it through. Place immediately on the griddle. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the bread is golden-brown and firm to the touch, and the cream cheese in melted through. Repeat with remaining “sandwiches”. Sprinkle with a dusting of cinnamon. Serve with fresh fruit or maple syrup. Makes approximately five “sandwiches”.
Feed to the one you love, preferably as breakfast in bed!
As an ivy-league ER doctor who eats double shifts for breakfast (and lunch…and dinner), Blake Fisher has little appetite for anything other than work. Being on the staff at Brenstville Hospital means taking care of people, a need Blake understands all too well from losing his brother to cystic fibrosis eight years ago. When he’s asked to coordinate a carnival fundraiser for the cause, he jumps at the chance to help others with the disease…until it lands him side by side with the one woman he never thought he’d see again: his ex-fiancée.
Streetwise and rough around the edges, Jules Shaw is no stranger to earning a living through hard work. But when her job as the restaurant manager of Mac’s Diner puts her shoulder to really broad shoulder with Blake Fisher, she nearly balks. She’d rather dodge and deflect than admit the real reason she broke things off, but the catering contract for the carnival means big business for Mac’s, and feeding people is Jules’s lifeblood.
As Blake and Jules join reluctant forces, they quickly rediscover the spark between them. But the possibility of a future together hinges on coming clean about the past, with potentially devastating consequences. Can Blake and Jules overcome their drastically different backgrounds and learn to love again, or will they always be outside the lines?
Blake’s eyes flashed, the same stormy green as the ocean in a thunderstorm, and he pinned her in place with his stare. “I don’t want you to say you’re sorry, Jules.”
“Oh.” The word collapsed from her lips in more of a throaty sigh than the stubborn affirmation she’d intended, and she swallowed hard. “You don’t?”
“No.” Blake lowered his attention to their hands, the calluses on his thumb sliding roughly over her knuckles as he blanked his expression and let her fingers go. “I didn’t come here for that. In fact, I’m here for something that has nothing to do with you and me.”
“Okay,” Jules said, extending the word by several syllables to form a question as she belatedly recovered her wits. “What’s that?”
“The Brentsville Hospital Carnival For A Cure.” He pulled a crisp, dark blue folder from the laptop bag he’d propped over the bar stool next to him. “I’m the event coordinator, and Mac’s is the catering restaurant. I came to see your boss so she and I can get a tentative schedule set since it looks like I’ll be working pretty closely with her for the next six weeks.”
Jules white-knuckled the edge of the apron around her waist, her heart doing its level best to vault clean out of her ribcage. She was so far past this-can’t-be-happening, and yet…“You…you’re the event coordinator for the Carnival For A Cure?”
“Yeah.” Now it was Blake’s turn to draw the word into a question. “Why?”
“Because I wrote that proposal. I’m in charge of all the catering and planning for that event on our end.”
Jules shifted her weight to stand as tall as her five-foot-nine frame would allow, her palms going slick with realization as she finished, “You won’t be working with Serenity for the next six weeks, Blake. You’ll be working with me.”
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