Jenn McKinlay

New York Times Bestselling Author

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Fun Stuff!


Latest Cupcake Recipe!


Champagne Cupcakes: A light fluffy cake topped with champagne frosting.
Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sour cream
½ cup champagne

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Line cupcake pan with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and the vanilla. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream and the champagne. It will fizz a bit. Alternately, add the flour mixture and the champagne mixture to the large bowl, mixing until the batter is smooth. Fill paper liners until two-thirds full. Bake for 17-22 minutes until golden brown. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Champagne frosting:

Ingredients:

1 cup champagne
2 sticks of butter, softened
2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1 Tablespoon champagne

Directions:

Simmer one cup of champagne in a small sauce pan until reduced to two tablespoons. Allow to cool. In a small bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until thick and creamy. Add the reduced champagne plus one tablespoon champagne. Whip together until light and fluffy.
Decorate the cupcakes with the frosting using a pastry bag. Garnish with champagne colored pearlized sprinkles.

Puzzle Time!



The Guide to Crafternoons:




What is a crafternoon? Well, in Briar Creek it is a meeting between close friends where they share a craft, a good book and some yummy food. Here are some ideas for having your own crafternoon.

Start with a good story. Lindsey recommends The Last Time I Saw Paris, by Lynn Sheene, which comes with a handy discussion guide in the back of the book. The reading guide is also enclosed here to give you a sense of the novel.

Share a craft, such as knitting, where participants can work on their own projects at their own pace. See the next page for the pattern Lindsey used to make the rolled hat for her father.
Enjoy some delicious food. Nothing brings people together like good food. Recipes for Mary’s clam chowder and Sully’s hot chocolate follow the knitting pattern.
Lastly, the most important part of crafternoons is to relax and have fun with people you enjoy!


Lindsey’s Knitting Pattern for a Rolled Hat

Materials
One skein Loop-d-Loop River (90 percent cotton, 10 percent cashmere), 103 yards
One size 10.5 US circular needle and one set 10.5 US double-pointed needles (or a second 10.5 circular needle) for working the top of the hat.
Scissors and yarn needle

Gauge
14 stitches and 20 rows per 4 inches in stockinette stitch in the round. Take time to check gauge.

Pattern size is for an average adult.

Instructions
Cast on 76 stitches. Join in round, being careful not to twist.
Work in stockinette stitch for 9 inches.
Next round, *knit 2, knit 2 together. Repeat from* around.
Work in stockinette stitch for 1 round. Change to double-pointed needles or work in second circular when needed. Divide the stitches evenly among the needles.
Next round, *knit 1, knit 2 together. Repeat from * around.
Work stockinette stitch for 1 round.
Next round, *knit 2 together. Repeat from * around.
Work in stockinette stitch for 1 round.
*Knit 2 together. Repeat from *, ending knit 1.
Cut yarn, leaving a long tail. Thread tail onto the yarn needle, slip stitches onto needle and pull yarn tight, closing the top of the hat. Weave in ends.

Sully’s Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

¾ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
3 ½ cups milk
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup half-and-half
¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into two pieces

Directions

Bring all ingredients (except cinnamon sticks) to a simmer in a medium saucepan, whisking often. Remove from heat, add cinnamon sticks, cover and let sit for five minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks, bring to a simmer again, whisking often. Pour into mugs and serve hot.

Mary’s Clam Chowder

New England clam chowder is very particular; for example, don’t even try to put a tomato in it or any self-respecting Yankee will not eat it. Also, those thick chowders that they serve in restaurants come from using too much flour. The real deal uses cream, which is much lighter and enhances the flavors of the clams instead of hiding it.

Ingredients

2 pounds chopped clams with liquid (quahogs, cherrystones or littleneck clams)
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
2 cups onions, chopped
3 slices of bacon, diced
3 cups clam liquid, either broth from cooked clams or bottled clam juice, plus water to total 3 cups
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat a heavy pot over medium heat and add bacon. Cook, stirring until lightly browned. Add onion and cook, stirring until soft and translucent. Add 3 cups reserved clam liquid or bottled clam juice and water, and increase heat to high. Add chopped potatoes and cook until potatoes are just soft—about 10 minutes.
Add milk and half-and-half or cream and chopped clams, lower heat and simmer until clams are cooked (4–8 minutes, depending upon the size of the chopped clams). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Yields 4 large servings.