CREAM CHEESE BLACK BEAN DIP

This dip has been a favorite in our home for years, so the recipe card bears the marks of having been consulted often. The dip can be made with or without black beans, but the added texture of those little guys is worth one more time around with the can opener. Enjoy!

1-8 oz pkg reduced fat cream cheese, softened

8 oz sour cream

8 oz salsa (I use medium heat)

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1 tbsp diced jalapenos

3 tbsp taco seasoning

1 can reduced fat refried beans

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Tortilla chips (Tostitos “Hint of Lime” is our chip of choice)

Optional toppings: sour cream, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, avocado, parsley or cilantro, sliced jalapenos

1) To large, microwave-safe bowl, add: cream cheese, sour cream, salsa, cheese, jalapenos, and taco seasoning; stir well to combine; add refried beans and black beans; stir well

2) Microwave dip on high 5-7 minutes until heated through (pause and stir every couple of minutes); remove from microwave, add your favorite toppings, and serve with tortilla chips

Serves: 4-6 as dinner

Serves: 12-16 as appetizer

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EVOLUTION OF A COVER ~ STEALING ADDA (Re-release)

Ready for another episode of Evolution Of A Cover? This time, it’s for the re-release of my first inspirational romance, STEALING ADDA, billed as “chick lit” when it landed in bookstores in 2006. Why “chick lit” as opposed to my earlier Bantam and HarperCollins medieval romances? I was told medieval romance didn’t sell well in the inspirational market, and I would have to give publishers “something different.” How different can you get, hmm? So, here’s the original cover. Cute.

Stealing Adda


In 2012, after the rights to Stealing Adda were returned to me, I re-released the book with a new cover. Cuter.

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Then…this year the rights to the rest of my “chick lits” were returned to me. And you know what that calls for, don’t you? New covers all around! Though the first four of my seven “chick lits” are stand alones, I decided to tie them together under the “Head Over Heels” series title—a nod to the lovely combination of romance and high heels with a big city feel. Let’s start with the stock photo my wonderful cover designer discovered, then it’s time to get to work—Adda has dark hair, and as for that revealing skirt… Need to do something about that. It’s the heels we’re focusing on, right?

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First mock up ~ Adore, adore the cut paper background and the partial face. I’d like to see the book title pop with more color, and the tagline reduced to fit the white space. Though I like the author name font, I think we should stick with the font used on my medieval romances. And let’s find a place for the “Head Over Heels” series title.

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Second Mock Up ~ The book title certainly pops in pink, but I’m thinking the color of those gorgeous heels would be better. Love the series title treatment, though it is a bit crowded. Let me think on that. Oh, I just stumbled on a Facebook discussion about partial face covers. Apparently, readers are either tired of them or never liked them at all, so let’s see more of Adda’s face. And we definitely need to pull that skirt of hers forward.

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Third Mock Up ~ Thumbs up on the orange font , skirt, and seeing more of Adda’s face. What do you think about changing the series title to a gradient of the blue background so it doesn’t look so crowded? And before I forget, Adda’s more into her nails than eye makeup. Can we tone down the makeup?

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Fourth Mock Up ~ The series title looks fabulous, her eye makeup is perfect, and I like the lighter orange font. Good call! We’re close but…um…it was suggested the cover would be more eye-catching if the heels were pink. Can I see how that looks, my dear, incredibly patient cover designer?

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Fifth Mock Up ~ The pink is more eye-catching, but I think orange is the better choice. There’s just something about the way it contrasts with the blue.

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The Final ~ Here she is. The new STEALING ADDA. Have I mentioned how talented my cover designer is? Coming soon: the new Perfecting Kate, Splitting Harriet, and Faking Grace. Exciting times!

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Website: www.tamaraleigh.com

 

THE REDEEMING Audiobook Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce THE REDEEMING joins THE UNVEILING, THE YIELDING, DREAMSPELL, and LADY AT ARMS in audiobook format, all narrated by the beautifully talented Mary Sarah Agliotta. And coming soon: THE KINDLING!

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Preview a sample of THE REDEEMING at: Audible.com, Amazon.com, iBooks Store

yielding_audible

Preview a sample of THE YIELDING at: Audible.com, Amazon.com, iBooks Store

unveiling_audible

Preview a sample of  THE UNVEILING at: Audible.com, Amazon.com, iBooks Store

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Preview a sample of DREAMSPELL at: Audible.com, Amazon.com, iBooks Store

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Preview a sample of LADY AT ARMS at: Audible.com, Amazon.com, iBooks Store

LADY OF FIRE ~ RELEASES 11.25.14

DANGEROUS
Believing only death will prevent him from returning to England, Sir Lucien de Gautier answers his king’s call to arms. When he is captured and his family refuses the ransom demand, he finds himself bound to the oars of a galley. Enraged and embittered, he has no hope of escape—until a rich merchant’s wife offers him freedom. In exchange, he agrees to smuggle a virtuous young woman out of a harem and onto a ship bound for England, unaware the real danger lies in the bond forged between him and his fiery charge. But when he learns she is as much his enemy as those who enslaved him, can he forgive her? More, can he forget her?

IMPETUOUS
Determined to wed her childhood friend, a betrothal her English mother will go to any length to break, Alessandra refuses to abandon the only life she has known in Algiers—even if it means compromising her faith. But when she is entrusted to a new bodyguard whose scarred face and soul draw her to him, she soon discovers the bold Englishman is only playing a part, biding his time until he can fulfill his end of a treacherous bargain. Desperate to turn him from his course, she reveals her identity, but only succeeds in gaining his contempt. Now that he knows the truth, will he ever feel for her all she feels for him? And will it be enough for her to forsake her world to live in his?

To read an excerpt, visit: www.tamaraleigh.com

Another Round Of Edits (AROE): Chapter Nine ~ LADY OF FIRE

Lady Of Fire

Bears repeating: If your writing is to hit the right note, allowing a reader to immerse herself in the story such that she develops the oh-so-lovely habit of giving in to just one more chapter, love on your edits. Embrace them. Feed them well. Give them plenty of exercise. And make sure they get good rest.

On to Chapter Nine! The following is from the first round of edits to my rough draft of LADY OF FIRE (Late Fall 2014). P/S: If you have a question about an edit, I’ll do my best to answer it. But as a mostly intuitive writer, I don’t always know why I do what I do 🙂

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SLOW-COOKER BLACK-BEAN AND LIME CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP

Tortilla soup in all its various get ups is among my favorites, and this recipe is right up there with others that have found their way into a bowl with my name on it. In this instance, it’s the lime that stands out. In fact, next time I think I’ll add a wedge to the bowl rim for those who want to give it more punch. Sorry, no leftovers…

4 cups chicken broth

juice of one lime

2 tbsp taco seasoning

2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp dried cilantro (or 1 tbsp fresh minced)

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1-1/2 cups diced onion

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1-15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1-15 oz can diced tomatoes, not drained

1/2 cup instant white rice

1-1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins, diced

Recommended toppings: sour cream, grated Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocado, broken tortilla chips

1) Turn slow cooker on low heat and add all ingredients (excepting toppings, of course); stir to combine, cover, and cook 6-8 hours

2) To serve, ladle into bowls and, to make it extra special, pile on those toppings

Now wasn’t that easy?

Serves: 6-8