All month long, we’re featuring some of our favorite authors, along with a quick Q&A and some of their favorite recipes. We’ve got daily giveaways with chances to win some amazing (and steamy!) reads plus a month-long Recipes for Romance Grand Prize Giveaway for a box filled with books and more!
Today Brenda Collins stopped by with a recipe for Collins Family Christmas Trifle!
**Q&A with Brenda Collins**
The Christmas Ball! Don’t be surprised that you haven’t heard of it – it’s my mother’s invention. She makes the ball out of paper streamers, coins and dollar store Christmas trinkets– with a funny verse she writes attached to each wrapped ‘prize’—and mails one ball to each of us every year. After the big family dinner on Christmas Day, we pass The Ball around the table, stopping at each person so they can read their verse and open their prize. New rules have evolved over the years, like if the streamer breaks, it’s bad luck, and, as more of us moved away, whoever gets the $1 coin has to write the thank you note to Mom. She’s 88 years old this year and still makes up a Christmas Ball for each of us and several of our first cousins’ families – so we’re all wrapped together in streamers on Christmas Day!
When you grow up in a big family like mine, every Christmas seems to bring its own oddities. I was raised on an island in the North Atlantic, off the east coast of Canada, so the weather could wreak havoc on festivities. I remember having to crawl out through a dining room window to go to church one Christmas morning because an overnight snowstorm had buried the doors. Another blizzard knocked out the electricity which made it really difficult to turn on the tree lights and to cook the turkey. The turkey was always a bit of a challenge. Big personalities run in my family but my husband is King of the Kitchen and no one argues with him on that for good reason. The first Christmas after we moved to Alberta, we invited a bunch of siblings and friends for dinner, and chaos reigned in the kitchen as the big feast was prepared. Finally, the table was set, all the side dishes steamed in covered dishes, and everyone held their breath as my husband went into the kitchen to take the turkey out of the oven. A non-festive expletive split the air, followed by, “Who turned off the %^&$# oven?” We ate our vegetables and desert first that year, and eventually enjoyed the turkey as well.
I don’t have any. It doesn’t grow north of New Jersey so maybe mistletoe isn’t as big where I come from.
The Holly & the Ivy isn’t just the name of my book in A Frost Family Christmas trilogy; it’s a traditional English Christmas carol that I’ve loved since I was a child. When I was researching my story, I discovered there’s a midwinter custom in ancient English villages of holding singing contests between men and women, where the men sang carols praising holly for its “masculine” qualities and disparaging ivy, while women sang songs praising the ivy for its “feminine” qualities and disparaging holly. The two sides would resolve their differences under the mistletoe. Isn’t that romantic?
My husband does all the cooking, even over the holidays. Nothing says I love you like a hot meal that you haven’t had to cook. He says I’m the best Christmas gift he ever got – our first date was when he invited me to a Christmas party!
Pumpkin Spice, hands down and lips smacked!
Egg Nog, but with a splash of rum to fight off the chill of our Canadian winters.
Hodgepodge, with as many handmade and kiddy ornaments as possible. I currently have a Rubik’s Cube on a string that my nephew put on the tree one year and an oxygen mask that my husband got from his secret Santa at work.
I wish I could say the old bulbs but I ran out of patience trying to find the burnt out lights, so it’s fairy lights now.
My husband and I have been very fortunate in our lives and certainly don’t need anything. We see the holidays as a time for thanksgiving and spreading our good fortune.
**About Brenda Collins**
BRENDA M. COLLINS is a recognized speaker and much quoted expert on business issues for writers, an award-winning technical writer, and published contributor to numerous industry trade magazines, including two annual editions of Writers Market (Brewer, R.L., ed. F&W Media Inc.).
In addition to The Holly & The Ivy (A Frost Family Christmas – Book Three), she has also published the sweet paranormal romance, Witch in the Wind and Stories of Chance, with Roxy Boroughs, for which all author proceeds are donated to the fight against breast cancer.
We can’t wait to try out Brenda’s delicious recipe for:
**Collins Family Christmas Trifle**
Message from Brenda:
Even after I left home I used to stock a bottle of Newman’s Port in my liquor cabinet. When I first moved to Toronto, a cousin invited me for Christmas dinner, and asked me to make the trifle, assuming I would know how. Rather than admit I didn’t, I looked up a recipe and set to work. Not only did I make the mistake of baking something called a one-egg-cake from scratch rather than buying an Angel Food cake, but the more insecure I felt about how the trifle would taste, the more port I added. My cousin said that trifle was the best he’d ever tasted and asked what I’d done differently. I didn’t tell him but I suspect it had to do with the entire bottle of Newman’s Port I’d poured into it!
- Recipe Serves ~6, but Mom was an elbow cook so none of the measurements are exact.
- We always made the trifle in one large glass dish.
- If you’re a serious cook, feel free to make the custard from scratch.
- Newman’s Port™, the secret ingredient in my Mom’s trifle is no longer available, so we sadly have to substitute another port these days. In 1997, European Union rules ended a 310-year-old tradition of shipping casks of Newman’s Port to my home province of Newfoundland for ageing purposes. But I’m sure any good port or sherry will work.
Thanks again for having me today. It’s been great fun! Best wishes for a happy holiday season to you and all your readers.
- Angel Food Cake
- English Custard (Bird’s Custard Powder™, sugar and milk)
- Frozen mixed berries
- Newman’s Port Wine™ (or equivalent), or sherry
- A few hours before you begin, put 2 cups of the frozen berries into a bowl to thaw and add about a half cup of the port.
- Start by making 2 cups of the custard, following the instructions on the container. Set about 1 1/2 cups aside to cool, and eat the other half cup while it’s still hot – Delicious!
- Tear the sponge cake into pieces and loosely line the bottom of the dish with the pieces.
- Sprinkle with the port.
- Spread the marinated fruit evenly over the cake.
- Pour the custard over the fruit layer making sure it covers the sponge cake completely.
- Place the dish in the refrigerator and leave until the custard is set – but can be left in the refrigerator overnight.
- When you are ready to serve the trifle, finish with a thick layer of freshly whipped cream spooned over the top. Decorate with strawberry slices or raspberries or toasted almond slices, if you happen to have them.
**About The Holly & The Ivy**
Police Officer Joey Frost has her hands full this Christmas in Carol Falls, Vermont. A vandal is painting the town red, green and every color in between, plus someone left baby Holly in the manger of the town’s Nativity display and no one has a clue where her mother is. But Joey can handle it all . . . until a snow storm blows Noel “Fletch” Fletcher back to town.
Joey and Fletch have a history. But he’s no longer the cute boy who kissed–and–dismissed her in high school. He’s grown into a dangerously attractive man—who also nabbed the promotion Joey was gunning for. When the Police Chief assigns them to work together, Fletch’s “by–the–book” law enforcement style is almost as irritating as the resurfacing of their old attraction. Is Fletch trying to distract her from her career aspirations? Or is true love going to be her surprise Christmas gift this year?
- Dec 17 — Roxy Boroughs, author of Home for Christmas
- Dec 23 — CJ Carmichael, author of What Child Is This
Other Books by Brenda Collins:
Don’t forget to enter our month-long Recipes for Romance Grand Prize Giveaway for a box filled with books and more!