Sunday, September 4, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Melissa Bourbon

Please welcome our guest blogger, Melissa Bourbon.

Melissa, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas.  She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox and two romantic suspense novels to be released in 2012.
Take it away, Melissa!

The Beauty of Fall

Let me just put this out there.  I am not a summer girl.  Yes, I’m that blond-haired, green eyes California girl (living in the sweltering North Texas heat), and while I have a good selection of flip flops and shorts and enjoy a nice day at the beach (at least I used to--when I lived near the beach), I much cold weather and prefer jeans, boots, sweaters, jackets, long sleeves, and did I mention boots (cowboy, slipper, name it.  There’s hardly a boot I’ve seen that I don’t like).

So now that it’s finally September and the temperatures have FINALLY plummeted from 105+ to a mere 99, I’ve caught sight of fall.  Just a mere glimpse, but it gives me hope.

And fall means:

~Cooler weather is around the corner.

~School has started so my kids are off learning all kinds of exciting things during the day while I (finally) get several uninterrupted hours of writing and working time.

~The fall clothes can come to the front of the closet.

~And I can bake with abandon.

Okay, scratch that last one.  Maybe not bake with abandon, but bake and not feel like every morsel I eat will be evident thanks to the aforementioned shorts and tank tops, but can be nicely hidden away under those clever long sleeves.  I can turn on the oven and know that I’m not raising the temp in my house, thereby forcing the air conditioner to work harder.  And the sweet aroma of baked goods is something that fills me with warmth rather than an ‘it’s too darn hot to eat!’ feeling.
Whenever fall finally comes, there’s one thing that we bake in our household that sort of sets the mood for the season.  I love it.  My kids love it (one son, in particular), and we’ve even adapted it to a gluten free version since the one son who LOVES fall right alongside me has celiac disease.

What is this special fall treat?

Pumpkin Bread!

As an aside, I’m a moderate foodie.  Not a high-fallutin’ one, but a down home, comfort one.  My books always have food in them.  Food and strong women.  Two things that are absolutes.

My Lola Cruz mysteries have lots of delicious Mexican food in them (the family owns a Mexican restaurant--lots of these recipes can be found on my website: or  In face, MLK’s Wendy Lyn Watson’s hubby has hijacked my Spanish rice recipe and now calls it his own.   Makes me proud!

PLEATING FOR MERCY, book one in A Magical Dressmaking Mystery (which came out in August) has a bit of Southern flavor to it.  Sweet tea, fried chicken, okra, and biscuits.  Mmm-mmm-mmm.

A FITTING END has Chicken Fried Steak and other tasty tidbits.

And now I’ve just decided, this very minute, that pumpkin bread will be in the third Magical Dressmaking mystery I’m currently working on.  It’s takes place in November, so what better way to help set the mood than by adding this yumminess to the story? 

Ha!  Thank you Mystery Lover’s Kitchen.  I might not have added this delicious tidbit had you not had me here today.

And now, without further ado, here is the most delicious (if not a wee bit fattening) pumpkin bread recipe ever.  By the by, you can substitute apple sauce for the oil and you’d never know.

Happy baking!

 3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cup pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Set oven temp to 350 degrees


Mix wet ingredients together.  Add dry ingredients, then stir in chocolate chips. [Note: this makes a ton. 24 muffins plus 2 loaf pans, or a bundt cake and two loaf pans.] Pour into "your choice."

Bake for 45-50 minutes, checking for doneness after 40 minutes.

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  1. Great post, however I will have to argue one point. I do love the fall, but it's also a stern reminder of what lies ahead. The ONLY good thing about winter is the hot tea, which I can drink all day long. But that's it. I'm not a winter person. I didn't want the pools to close. I'll be hibernating with good books and lots of hot tea and hot chai this winter.

    And yoga. I'm a yoga fan too.

  2. Melissa, thanks so much for joining us. Did you know I'm celiac, too? I adore pumpkin bread. And the pic of your son is adorable!

  3. YEAP, fall is my favorite time of year... and anything baking in the kitchen is a great idea... Love the recipe, but have to be honest... dress making mysteries... wow! Something for everyone.

    (but probably not too many Dave Dress making hobbyist... Although there was that one Dave I knew in college. He had the most fabulously decorated dorm room. Wonder what he did with that sewing machine and why he stored his sister's shoes. Man she had big feet

    ... But I digress

    Oh and love the recipe... welcome to the blog!

  4. Shirley, you must live where winter hits hard. I'm in North Texas, so we get a smattering of snow, some brisk weather, but overall, it's not bad so I like winter!

    Hot tea or mocha on a blustery day, the fire in the fire place, pumpkin bread, and a good book. That's the perfect day.

  5. Avery, I remembered that about you... it's tough, but so much easier now than it was even 2 years ago. I'd love to hear your favorite recipes.

  6. Oh, yes, yes, yes, I look forward to fall, too, and pumpkin bread is one of my faves. Thank you for sharing with us today Melissa (aka Misa R.), and warm congrats on the launch of your new series!

    ~ Cleo

  7. I'm with you on the weather. Summer fruit gets me thru the miserable heat. Thanks for the recipe. Love anything punkin. And I just can't get enough of that cover. Your books are on my Kindle so I look forward to seeing the covers online.

  8. Melissa, your pumpkin bread sounds wonderful! But, um, do you think you're writing enough series? LOL! You must be one busy person!

    ~ Krista

  9. Thanks, Cleo! I love MLK (um, hint hint).

    It is YUMMY pumpkin bread, Krista, if not healthy. But the apple sauce option helps! Yup, I'm really busy, but it's all good. :)

    PJ, thank you! I love and appreciate your support.

  10. Can't wait to try this! Sounds scrumptious...and I love pumpkin bread. :)

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