Tag Archives: food

Look for my Ad!

Did you catch my ad on WOW? Or someplace else? If you purchase a copy of any one of my picture books this month, please tell me where you found out about the book, send me a copy of your receipt and I will enter you into a drawing to win one of the other four (my choice of book) in paper or eform (kindle, bn, other) according to the format you purchased.

email me at: joanleotta@atmc.net with your receipt!


What a Day!

It’s not even ten am yet and already I have been hard at work on the computer, but am not yet dressed!

First thing–saw that Silver Birch has posted my poem What we took with us when we moved, as a part of their moving day series–warning, this one is sad.

Then, I opened my gmail account and there were the page proofs for Summer in a Bowl!!!!
Amazing work by the artist Rebecca Zeissler.
Countdown to publication day of September 30!!!!!!
You can order the book now , pre-order on THEAQLLC, Amazon and BN
Those who pre-order before the launch date of September 30 can email me a copy of the receipt and be in a drawing to win a copy (signed) of the first book in the series, WHOOSH!
There is a recipe in the back of this one and gardening tips

Never Done

A writer’s work is never done!

I am busy working on PR, blog hops etc for Summer in a Bowl and also at the same time working on poems, my usual quota of articles, and coordinating with my publisher on revisions in the texts of the NEXT TWO Rosa books–Rosa and the Red Apron and Rosa’s Shell


Heather Zeissler of THEAQLLC has been wonderful to work with.

If you want me to come to your school to talk about the process of writing picture books or  to talk to your group about how I got started writing picture books, just email me at joanleotta@atmc.net




C. Hope Clark Shares a Secret

C. Hope Clark’s newest series is set in one of my favorite places in all the world–Edisto Island, SC. We spent many happy holidays there as a family and Joe and I welcomed the new Year there for several years running. The place is magical. And if we are to believe Hope there is mystery lurking in every corner as well.

Never fear, Hope’s heroine solves all the mysteries and the miscreants are punished. Of course, what happens when a good mystery is solved? Celebration! And there is no better way to celebrate than with a meal of Edisto shrimp. Hope has shared heroine Callie’s fave recipe with us in this post–you may not be able to buy Edisto shrimp where you live, but do look for the freshest, wild caught domestic shrimp you can find.


Displaying Echoes of Edisto.jpgDisplaying Echoes of Edisto.jpg

Callie Jean Morgan’s Favorite Lowcountry Meal

By C. Hope Clark

Writing a mystery series set at a beach I am often enticed to visit the coast and as many seafood restaurants that my stomach can bear. In South Carolina, we do mainly shrimp and crab with a wide assortment of fish easily caught off our shore. While I could eat my weight in crab, one of my absolute favorite coastal recipes is shrimp and grits.

Non-Southerners often turn up their noses at grits, but just let them taste them in this concoction, and man-oh-man, their tongues will slap their faces silly wanting more. Every dignified South Carolina eatery has a shrimp and grits recipe on the menu, each with a spin or twist of its own, some almost too rich to finish.

In my newest release, Echoes of Edisto, (released August 5, 2016), with all that I throw at Callie Jean Morgan, she needs this sort of comfort food. Something to coat her belly, relying on the harvest caught in her beloved Edisto waters. Food from her home territory she loves so dang much.

Echoes is the third in the Edisto Island Mysteries, and the South Carolina coast is learning to love the stories. Information about the books greets every Edisto tourist in their rental, a local magazine keeps a feature ongoing about the series, and every single visitor’s center in South Carolina contains an Edisto Beach Tourist Guide which flaunts the Edisto Island Mysteries.

So let me introduce you to shrimp and grits, to entice you to visit . . . and pick up the books. This recipe is one I learned on Edisto Island, which I’ve adjusted a bit for my own taste so that you never fail to lick the bowl clean.


Serves four.



1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and whole

3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

Salt (by taste)

Black pepper (by taste and optional)

Cayenne pepper (by taste)

6 tablespoons bacon drippings (or half bacon droppings / half olive oil)

½ cup diced onion

½ cup diced pepper, sweet banana or bell

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth or chicken bouillon

Crumbled bacon



2/3 cup grits (regular, not quick 5-minute grits)

2 cups water

½ cup cream (preferably the heavy stuff)

No salt


Peel the shrimp, careful with removing all shell and legs, and place meat in bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice. Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. (NOTE: the saltiness in the shrimp and roux is the reason you avoid the salt normally cooked into grits.) Let set so flavors mingle.


In a skillet, cook enough bacon to make 6 tablespoons of drippings, 6-10 slices depending on the fattiness of the bacon. Remove bacon. Sauté onion and banana and/or bell peppers in the grease, medium heat, until translucent. No more than 10 minutes.


Gradually sprinkle flour over vegetables, stirring in one tablespoon at a time to avoid lumpiness. Stir constantly. Stir all for 2-3 minutes until browned.


Add shrimp, liquid and all, to skillet. Add 1 ½ cup broth gradually, stirring constantly, letting liquid mix well with the browned flour. You’ll see the soft brown gravy start to happen. The shrimp should turn opaque and pink after 2-3 minutes. Add remainder of broth, if needed, to thin the gravy and avoid lumping.


Either start grits halfway through this process, or complete roux and set aside to remain warm, but do not fix grits in advance of the roux. You want the grits to be fresh, hot and creamy. Bring water to a boil then add grits. Lower to medium-high and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking. Once completed, add the cream and stir for another 2 minutes. Remove from burner.


Put grits in a bowl. Ladle roux in the center. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon.


Oh good gracious, a meal to die for . . . oh wait, I don’t want to give away the story!



  1. Hope Clark is the creator of The Edisto Island Mysteries as well as the Carolina Slade Mysteries. She is also an avid presenter, speaker, and teacher about writing and earning a living as a writer, in much demand at writers’ conferences and libraries. Her latest project, beside yet another Edisto book, is honoring a request to read her own Edisto stories for the Books for the Blind program. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com



The Next Step!

The next step in the process of getting Summer in a Bowl into the hands of readers is preparing a summary. Now, if I had done a more traditional query and had been working with a publisher I did not know, the summary would have been in my query letter. As you recall, in this case I was approaching the publisher who had done WHOOSH! so, after a phone conversation, I just sent him the entire manuscript.

For me, the summary is the hardest part of the process. I love to talk about my book. I get very enthusiastic and well, restricting myself to just a few words–rough!

This summary will be what potential future readers will see on Amazon. Would you be interested in buying the book after reading this?  If you have changes to suggest, please let me know. My publisher and I both believe in this book and want to see it in the hands of as many children as possible.

Please look this over and let me know if any changes are needed!

Summary for Summer in a Bowl By Joan Leotta

Rosa and her Aunt Mary spend every Thursday together in the summer, tending Aunt Mary’s garden.

On this last Thursday of the season, they harvest the vegetables and Aunt Mary cooks them. Rosa is not sure she wants to try them until her father proclaims the dish, “Delicious!” and Rosa discovers that the soup is a way to preserve all of her summer fun. Summer in a Bowl is a wonderful introduction to the joys of gardening with children and the fun of cooking with children.




Ally’s Kitchen

Ally's book is here!

Ally’s book is here!

If you don;t feel like an around the world ticket is in the budget this year go down to your local bookstore or order up Ally’s Kitchen: A Passport for Adventurous Palates–no visas needed. This $28.99 (retail) book will fill your home with the delightful tastes of world cuisine. Phillips allows for the fact we may not ave access to international markets where we live so she offers up a chapter on how to put together some typical spice blends.

Intimidated by international cooking? Don’t be. Phillips opens the book with the mantra that each cook knows best–something she lives by– and the changes you make in her recipes to accommodate your family will make the recipe better. In fact, she herself is a home cook who has achieved international fame. She has won multiple cooking contests and her food blogging prowess has landed her a job as Dole Foods Media person.

I was fortunate enough to get to take a look at this book in its early stages–before the photographs and the wonderful tips on decor, plating, and enjoying life were added.Here is what I said

“A lot of love, Boho and otherwise went inthte making of this book–taht is evident. Ally infuses the book with her particular brand of enthusiams and knowledge–a combination that results in creations that are as delicious as they are wonderful to admire on the plate. You’re not alone when you open this cookbook. Ally’s voice and positive persona are with you on each and every page. She is a marvel and her recipes are too!

Enjoy the book. I do

Ally’s Kitchen: A Passport for Adventurous Palates

By Alice Phillips

Hardback, 232 pages

Cedar Fort Publications

Retail $28.99

Available in bookstores and on line @ AllysKitchen.com



Gimme a Hug

Gimme a Hug!


So, a new product–yes, to be sure, they sent it to me free to try. But I was very skeptical, The product is a silicone specially shaped array of “huggers” to put directly on to a cut onion, orange, lemon, and even two (one small , one large) made just for avocados.


I have plastic containers for my cut fruit. Some specially made for that fruit.

Onions , even in their container often not only dry out where I cut them, but also allow aromas to fly about my frig.  Not so with the huggers.


My first try was with the lemon. Worked fine. After two days, my half lemon still juicy and good to use. Onion is still in there, but he is not emitting any smells into the rest of the vegetable drawer. Love it! Best of all is the avocado, an item which browns if left out even for a few minutes. I used half of my avocado; put it into the hugger, (with seed still in place).

After an entire day in the frig, my avocado remained perfect!!!! Yes, I should have photographed it all, but I did not. Mea culpa. The included photos in this blog are from the company.  They are extremely easy to clean and while the set of two avocado huggers is 9.99 plus shipping and the set of four other veggie huggers is 14.99, this is cheap in the long run–no twisting in plastic wrap or smelly containers. Best of all, less food waste since these really work.

They were developed through a kickstarter campaign and it is no wonder folks invested. The idea is wonderful! And so is the final product.

The material is food safe; one hundred percent FDA qualified silicon. The product was just introduced at the spring 2014 Chicago Housewares show and hopefully will make it to your specialty stores soon. Right now you need to buy it online at http://www.foodhuggers.com.


So now the question–what do they cost and since I have a free set, am I willing to purchase a set? Yes, to the latter. In fact, I plan to purchase a set of the avocado for our daughter! She lives in an apartment and the ease of storing these flat silicone pieces will appeal to her.


Again check them out on www.foodhuggers.com.  It may be too late to get them to your dad for Father’s Day, but  there is a whole summer of grilling ahead where cut up veggies may require the storing of bits and pieces of vegetable. And do be sure to order a set of the avocado huggers for the avocado lover in the family !



The Newest Food Star!


ImageImageMeet Abishai Powers-

On November 23, I attended a Taste of Home Cooking School Show with Chef Michelle Robberts. She was great, but it was another attendee, chef-in-training, Abishai Powers who stole my heart. Nine year old Abishai wants to be a chef and is not wasting any time preparing for his career choice. Attendance at the Show (with his Mom, Korrene) was a part of his Christmas gift this year, along with a stylish red chef coat (complete with monogramming) and a set of business cards touting him as the culinary extraordinaire he is (at least at heart)–Abishai’s Food Lab. He already has a blog and agreed to share one of his recipes with my readers. His Dad is David Powers, pastor of The Pilgrimage in the Surfside area of Myrtle Beach SC

 Top Photo–Michelle Roberts and Me!

Photo two–Michelle and Abishai

Photo Three-Michelle, Korrene and Abishai

We did this interview between Thanksgiving and Christmas and Abishai and his family were busy making cookies and taking them around to others as gifts–to military recruiters, shut-ins and others who might need remembering with something sweet. It seems that Korrene and David Powers are also teaching Abishai how to serve others with his talent. Many good lessons


Abishai has a goal and the support of his family and agreed to be interviewed for this blog. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will.



Joan, Q:When did you first decide you wanted to be a chef?

Abishai,a: A few years ago When I saw my mom cooking . I think I was 7 years old. –when did the blog start–about that time–


Q.Who teaches you cooking? I know you told me you learn from Mom and Grandma and from classes they’ve taken–but please tell me again, and in more detail.

A.My mom teaches me all she can. She is the one that has taken some classes, and she comes back and tells me what she learned.


Q.What classes are you taking that help you most in your cooking?

A.My mom uses math class a lot to teach the measuring with cooking. I have also written one of my own recipe creations down in a Language Arts class that has been put into a cookbook. The cookbook is for my Mamaw’s church. –the meat-a -zacki (see recipe below!)


Q.Do you do any online or TV/video training?

A.I like watching some of the cooking shows.


Q.Which Television chef shows are your favorites?

A.Master Chef Jr. – It’s a new show and I get to watch it as a school project. I also like watching Gordon Ramsey and Guy Fieri

(Note: Abishai noted that there is a junior chef contest on a show offered on the Hulu channel that he might enter.)


Q Do you have a favorite cookbook?

A.The Campbell soup recipe card box


Q.What do you like about that?

A.I like being able to take the cards out and look at them while I cook.


Abishai told us that he works to develop his own recipes as well. Pizza is one of his favorite things and he told me that he is working on a book of  “secret” pizza recipes with his Dad who also helps him with inspiration by cutting out pictures for him for the book.

My dad and I have been putting it together for a while and continue to add to it as we find new pizza recipes. It’s more kind of a like a secret pizza journal, says Abishai.



Do you read any food magazines? Which ones do you like best?

No, I don’t read any. All my reading is focused on the Magic Tree House books right now.


Are you aiming for the children’s top chef contest?

That’s what I am shooting for


What made you want to go to the taste of home show?

It was a Christmas Present from my mom and dad. They gave me the tickets and my new chef coat at the same time.


Q.Have you ever invented your own recipe? What was it; will you share with my readers? What did your family think of it?

A.Meat-A-Zaire Sandwich: Bagel Thins, Teriyaki Sauce, Spinach, Turkey (meat of your choice)


What is your favorite food?



Q.Do you look at healthy eating for your family?

A.Yes we try to put vegetables and other healthy things in our meals


Q.What is your favorite  veggie?

A.I think spinach on pizza

I usually cook spinach on pizza for my family


Q.Do you cook for the family sometimes?

A.As much as I can. I make most lunches and breakfasts


Q.What kind of a chef do you want to be (restaurant, working for a company, etc?)?

A.I want to have my own Gourmet Pizza Reteraunt


Q.What training do you intend to take to become a professional chef?

A.Classes and Learning from other famous Chef’s


Q.What are your other interests and hobbies? What subjects do you like best? What grade level are you working at now?

A.Collecting knives and a being a survivalist. My favorite subject is math. I am in 4th grade



  The Meatazaki Sandwich from Abishai’s   Foodlab
  Ingredients: (for each sandwhich)
  Thin bagel
  Teriyaki sauce
  Sliced turkey
  Fresh spinach

  Open up your thin bagel. The thick ones overpower the sandwich, and, let’s be   honest, most of you don’t need the extra carbs.
  Give a couple healthy squirts of teriyaki sauce. The amount is up to you and   depends on how much you like to hit the sauce. Put this down first so it can   soak into the bread.
  Add the sliced turkey to the bread. Put as much as you’d like. I usually go   with 2 slices, but you can pile it up as much as you like.
  Add the spinach. I like fresh spinach instead of the frozen or canned stuff   because that stuff is nasty. I’d recommend at least 10 leaves. Any less is   not healthy enough, but more is good.
  Add the cheese. Use your favorite kind of cheese. It can be grated or sliced.   Don’t use that nasty cheese product stuff that comes in slices though. My dad   says it’s not really cheese and just pretends to be real cheese. I like using   the grated cheddar my mom keeps in the fridge.
  Slap the bread on top and enjoy.
  Time to prepare: 5 minutes
  Time to eat: Depends on how hungry you are



Wonderful Words

The word of the day yesterday was party–with writer friends. So, the talk went to writing–three, no four people brought things to read and for us to critique. Everyone brought food and words of Christmas cheer. Ours is a small loving group. We toasted one of ours who has gone on to the other side this year and those who simply could not come to the meeting. We talked about scrivener (the writing program)and sending work to contests. We shared writing as diverse as non-fiction, romance, a personal memory and an essay destined for a certain local essay market.

All words were spoken in love, received in love, and critiqued in a way to make them better.

What a wonderful group!

Foods Fight Flu!

I love this topic. Today on everydayhealth.com they listed ten that build the immune system. I had planned to give you a recipe on for stuffed cabbage today but do not want you to miss this article. Cabbage will come later.

So, here is the link