Mary’s Tavern Recipes ~ Chocolate Stout Cake

Mary and John's Wedding

Mary and John’s Wedding

Welcome to the Mary’s Tavern! In celebration of my 33rd wedding anniversary, I’m sharing one of my husband’s favorite cakes. And since it’s Valentine’s weekend, I had to toss in something chocolate, too.

It’s hard to fathom that we’ve been married that many years–through sickness and health, good times and bad–he is still my knight in shining armor.

Mary and John at the Scottish Games

Mary and John at the Scottish Games

Yes, we’re much older, but our love has only grown.

So as we celebrate love this weekend, I share my love not only with this amazing man, but with my family, friends, readers, and animals.

Love is all around us!






1 cup stout (I like Guinness)

1 stick plus 2 TBS unsalted butter

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

¾ cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 TBS pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking soda



8oz Philadelphia cream cheese

1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar

½ cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter and line a 9-inch springform pan.

Pour the stout into a large wide saucepan, add the butter- in spoons or slices-and heat until the butter’s melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan. When the cake’s cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the frosting.

Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioners’ sugar and then beat them both together. Add the cream and beat again, until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the cake.

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Spotlight Author Interview: Ashley York

AshleyYork.1Please make welcome the lovely Ashley York today! You’re in for a treat with this interview, since Ashley will be sharing the cover for her upcoming release, The Seventh Son! And don’t forget to take a peek at her latest book, The Irish Warrior!

I’m serving mead and cinnamon cake, so grab your favorite beverage and get comfy…

MM: Welcome, Ashley! So happy you could join us today. Describe a typical writing day. Are you a morning, afternoon, or night-owl writer?

AY: I was told that walking was a good way to get your brain working before writing so, except during extreme weather conditions (and I live in New England so I do get that), I try to take a two mile walk. The only problem with a regular two mile walk is that your body gets used to it and pretty soon you have to increase the length for it to have the same effect. I am a morning person. More specifically, I’m a sunrise person so winters are tough for me because the sunrise takes so long. We’re at 7:15 right now. Yeesh! If I try to start working at 7 am, I’m going to have trouble until the sunrise is a more decent 5:00 :)

My routine is that I have to take care of the animals first. Then I grab my glass of water, fresh coffee, low-fat cottage cheese and an apple before heading up to my office upstairs. I go through social media and emails but have found I can lose a lot of time with that so now I limit it to an hour. If it’s not done in an hour, it will have to wait. At least that’s what I try to do but some of you may know I also do my Lumosity in the morning. In theory it takes about ten minutes but I always do Train of Thought game. As long as I can get all but two correct, I’m happy. That can take awhile.

MM: Love meeting another early riser! An hour sounds perfect for social media and emails, so I think I’ll have to stick to your thought process regarding this rule. Can you tell us about your current work-in-progress?

AY: TheSeventhSonFinal.300My current WIP is The Seventh Son. It takes place in medieval Ireland after the Battle of Clontarf. This is the fourth book in the Norman Conquest series and I’ve included Peter and Brighit (The Gentle Knight), Sean and Thomasina (The Irish Warrior) and others. They’re integral to the plot which takes a lot of planning. Mort has been in all four of the books. My readers enjoy the secondary characters so I like to have them carry through more than one book.

I enjoy research and the more recent archeological digs from early Viking settlements in Ireland has made my creation process really fun. I love creating characters but I strive to make the world’s they live in truly reflect their world view. I have a lot of fun with that.

MM: What a stunning cover, Ashley! I love how you’re incorporating the other characters from your previous books into this story. As for research, I’m a huge fan! What inspires you when you’re writing?

AY: Research inspires me because it is so fascinating. I know you listen to music while you write, Mary, and I think that’s really neat but I can’t listen to music passively. Listening to music is a brain activity for me: the words, the instruments, the emotions. They all demand my attention. I write in a quiet place with my dog by my side.

MM: Each person is different when it comes to inspiration, Ashley, and I find your way very unique. What’s your favorite item on your writing desk?

AY: My desk is a total mess right now. On the wall behind my computer is my huge map of Scotland, Ireland, and England. This is my reference map. I have certain areas marked. I’d say that’s my favorite thing.

MM: Ooo…would love to see your map. A treasure! Now for fun, do you prefer…

Champagne or Beer? Champagne now because I pop open a bottle when I finish a book

Southern drawl or Scottish burr? Scottish burr

Kilt or Leather pants? Kilt!!!

Print book or e-reader? Print book

What a wonderful chat, Ashley! Thanks so much and wishing you all the best!

Here’s where you can find Ashley:

Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley York is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. She has an MA in History which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author’s imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.

Connect with her online at:



Twitter: @ashleyyork1066



Outcast and alone, Thomasina MacDonell is hell bent on finding her brother, the only person who can thwart their father’s latest scheme to offer her as payment for his gambling debts. Disguised as a lad, she defiantly sets off on foot to locate him—never expecting to find a handsome, Irish warrior riding her beloved horse. The warrior’s offer of help and unsolicited advice on how to be manlier sparks an intimate desire to reveal her more feminine side.

Rejected by the love of his life, Sean O’Cisoghe wants simply to return home and heal his broken heart. When a young “lad” steals the horse out from under him, he discerns the spirited woman may be in way over her head against her ruthless father. Finding her brother while keeping her would-be betrothed at bay, Sean must confront the fact that Thomasina has stolen his heart. Will Norman soldiers out for his blood and shifting clan alliances cut short their growing passion?

Buy Links: Amazon    BarnesandNoble

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Medieval Monday ~ First Kiss: Tanis by Bambi Lynn


Welcome to Medieval Monday and first kisses! Today, I have the fabulous Bambi Lynn teasing us with a “First Kiss” scene between her two characters. She’s sharing a sizzling excerpt from Tanis, Book 3 in her Gods of the Highlands Series. I love this cover, too! Enjoy my friends!


He stopped abruptly when she appeared. His demeanor changing quickly from one of surprise to that of hungry predator. She smirked. He would soon see which of them was prey. She pressed him back into the room with a strength belied by the dainty hand on his immense chest. She kicked the door shut with her foot as they entered.

With one beefy arm around her waist, Tanis gathered her up against him. Fighting the urge to squeal with delight, Kiah wrapped both legs around him. He was massive. And hard.

She wore nothing beneath the fur around her waist that left her legs bare to her thighs and drove men wild. The ridges of his stomach teased her through the fabric of his shirt, but Kiah savored the anticipation of feeling his skin against her almost as much as the contact itself. It would be difficult to say which gave her more pleasure.

A choice she was glad she did not have to make.

Winding her arms around his neck, she captured his mouth with hers. She was hit with the most mind-numbing kiss she had known in all the ages. A groan of sheer ecstasy bubbled up in her throat. What elements caused such a reaction? Why did she not feel it with all men?

Why did it not last more than a few days?

She felt like she could fly, something she had done every day since her creation, one of few gifts withheld from man. But in human form, the sensation of flying was far greater than the reality. It was not fair.

Emotions combined with her human sensations, roiling through her in a tangled mess that left her bereft of coherent thought. She kissed him fiercely, inhaling his essence as her tongue danced with his. He smelled of male and sex, tempting her to vanquish their clothes and feel his naked skin against hers. His body was sculpted muscle, hard and strong, beckoning her to meld her own warrior’s body against it, to stroke it, to lick it, to conquer it.

Tanis kissed her back, with equal enthusiasm, alternately teasing her and devouring her. She tasted his humanity and for once was not revolted by it. His passion enflamed her own, leaving her drunk with lust. He tangled his fists in the fur at the small of her back. In many other parts of the world, her attire would be scandalous. It certainly was not acceptable here in Alba, but in the wilds of the Highlands, she found it a simple matter to ensure her existence went unnoticed, even in human form.

Woven within his humanity was the hint of pagan blood. Its impurity laced the delectable flavor of the man. She recoiled from the foulness of it, only because she reminded herself she should, before it was too late.


Tanis Cleary, laird of a small Highland clan, wants to protect what’s left of his family from the pagan god who hunts them. But even with his colossal strength, fed by the unholy blood in his veins, he cannot do it alone. His only ally is an insatiable angel with a chip on her shoulder. Will he desert his clan to follow the only woman who can save him from eternal damnation?

Kiah is an angel of God, tasked with guarding one of His most sacred vessels. Like any woman desperate to win her Father’s approval, Kiah will stop at nothing to succeed in her mission. Distracted by the lure of a man more compelling than any other, Kiah soon finds herself battling the fires of hell, her very existence in jeopardy.

Buy Link: Amazon:

My guest next week on Medieval Monday is Lane McFarland! 

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Quote for the Week of February 7, 2016

Tomb of William Longespee, 3rd Earl of Salisbury - Salisbury Cathedral, England

Tomb of William Longespee, 3rd Earl of Salisbury – Salisbury Cathedral, England. Photo by John Morgan

“Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.”

–Cathy Better

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Medieval Monday ~ First Kiss: The Druid Knight Tales by Ruth A. Casie


Welcome to Medieval Monday! We continue with our theme of “First Kiss.” Today I’m featuring a wonderful excerpt from The Druid Knight Tales by Ruth A. Casie. I’m hooked already! Enjoy!


“Aye,” he said sleepily, followed by a soft snore.

She wiped the blood from the scratches on his cheek and studied him.

Full brows framed his wide-set eyes with long, thick lashes. His high cheekbones accentuated the deep hollows beneath them. His close-clipped beard outlined his full lips. His face spoke of power and ageless strength. He had a face that was easy to look at.

The wounds cleaned and bandaged, she bent over and gave him a lingering kiss on his forehead. Her head snapped up and her fingers went to her lips. They tingled as if she had eaten something spicy. She searched his face. His ashen color hadn’t changed. Panic welled in her throat. Her healing kiss always brought results.

His arm snaked around her and drew her to him. She didn’t resist when he pulled her closer and kissed her deeply. When she moved away his eyes were closed, the corners of his mouth tipped up in a smile, and his face took on a soft pink hue.

Relief flooded through her but was quickly replaced with doubt. For the first time she wondered if her healing kiss would be enough.

She prepared the camp and when she was done, sat back to rest. The smell of the wood and the snap of the fire were soothing. The dancing flames mesmerized her and drew her in deeper. The intertwined flames parted and in its midst she saw two figures following a light. She knew it was an omen but she could not tell if the sign was good or bad. A loud snap and a log fell, sending sparks flying, startling her out of her trance.


After a year of searching, Maximilian, the druid Grand Master, finds the sacred mistletoe destined for his soul mate shriveled and dead. He must journey to the Otherworld and tell the Ancestors of his failure.

Ellyn of Brodgar is an exceptional healer. But each healing kiss depletes her energy and brings her closer to death. Ellyn needs to find her own healing power before it’s too late.

Max and Ellyn are tossed into the Otherworld and have until the third sunset to appeal to the Ancestors or be lost forever. Together they find love, and as the last rays of the third sunset slip away, both are willing to sacrifice their hopes, dreams, and lives for the other. Do they have what it takes to escape the Otherworld and begin their life together?

Buy Links: 





My guest next week on Medieval Monday is Bambi Lynn!

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Quote for the Week of January 31, 2016

Paris, France. Photo by John Morgan

Paris, France. Photo by John Morgan

“To do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in, and scramble through as well as we can.” 

–Sydney Smith

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Mary’s Tavern Recipes ~ Nutjammer Cookies

Mary's Recipe Box

Mary’s Recipe Box

In looking for a recipe that I’ve created, my search led me a “verra” old recipe box that I started when I was 18 years old. Now, some of you already know how old I am, so this box is ancient. ;) The box is stuffed with recipes I’ve collected and received for almost 40 years. I no longer have the lid, but it’s a treasured item filled with memories.

I’m craving something sweet–yes, the holidays were only a month away, but I was good and didn’t indulge too much.

It’s been eons since I’ve made these treats. In fact, I’m talking 30 years ago. I know I’ll be baking cookies this weekend.

Do you have a recipe box? Do share!  

Nutjammer Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1-8oz. package cream cheese, softened

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

2 cups, pecans, chopped fine (or any other kind of nut you favor)

1-12oz. jar apricot or peach jam

2 teaspoons sugar

1/3 cup powdered sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese together. Sift flour and baking powder together. Add to creamed mixture. Chill 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix nuts, jam, and sugar. Divide dough into four equal parts. Work with one quarter at a time. Keep remaining dough refrigerated.

Roll dough very thin on lightly floured board. Cut into 2-inch squares (or use a 2-inch round cookie cutter). Place on cookie sheet and fill with 1 teaspoon of nut mixture. Top with a 2-inch square and seal edges with a fork. Bake 15-20 minutes. Remove, cool, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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Spotlight ~ All Mine by Tamrie Foxtail


I’m excited to share a forthcoming book with everyone! All Mine by Tamrie Foxtail is part of A Candy Hearts Romance Series released by my publisher The Wild Rose Press. I know some of you have been hearing great things about this series, but I wanted to give a shout-out for this special story. It’s perfect for the month of February, so pre-order your copy today. Release date: February 10, 2016.


For nearly a decade, Maggie has put the needs of her younger siblings ahead of her own. Now she’s willing to accept a marriage without passion in order to protect her brother, but fate has a wicked sense of humor. On the eve of her wedding, Maggie meets the man of her dreams.

When Shamus loses a bet, the penalty is a blind date. Shamus is prepared to endure a long, boring night; the last thing he expects is to find the woman who can bring his heart back to life.

But Maggie is keeping secrets–and her engagement is only one of them.


“And we are thirty seconds from the New Year,” the TV announced.

Shamus stood in front of Maggie, drawing her to her feet.

“Twenty seconds!”

His dark blue eyes appeared almost indigo in the soft light of the bar.

“Ten seconds!”


He cupped her face in his hands.


I can’t kiss him. I’m engaged.

As the old year closed and the new one began, Shamus touched his lips to hers. The noise surrounding them faded.

The warmth of his callused hands framed her face. His rum and coke flavored kiss began with a tenderness that stole the breath from her lungs. As his kiss grew in intensity, the warm swirls that had danced in her blood all night grew as well, reaching a lava hot stage within seconds.

When Maggie was fifteen, her mother told her about the first time she kissed Maggie’s father. “Once in your life,” her mother said, “there’s a kiss that shatters everything you thought you knew and changes the direction of your life.”

She understood now. Maggie pressed her fingers to her lips in a fruitless attempt to hold onto the sweetest kiss of her life. Tears strangled her heart at the realization that it was also the most bitter, since it could only mean farewell.

Pre-order Link: 


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Medieval Monday ~ First Kiss: The Highlander’s French Bride by Cathy MacRae


Welcome to Medieval Monday! Our theme of “First Kiss” continues this week with the lovely Cathy MacRae! She’s sharing a passionate excerpt from The Highlander’s French Bride. Enjoy!


“Many where I am from speak Gaelic, though many also speak English, or a form of it,” he said casually, his tone easing some of her concern. “Mo chridhe means my heart. That is what ye are, Melisende. The love of my heart.”

Her thoughts were a whirlwind. “I do not know how to respond other than to say you stole my heart years ago.”

“Then why the hesitation?”

She bit her lip against a smile. “`Twas not because I did not understand your words, though it is true I’d not thought about the differences in our languages.” She took a breath to steel her courage. “`Twas because of the look on your face—in your eyes.”

He tilted his head at her. “What look?”

“As though you wished to kiss me,” she whispered, the very depths of her exposed, for there was no taking the words back. Kinnon rose, pulling her to her feet with him, and gathered her in his arms.

“I do.”

His mouth descended, caressing her lips with gentle pressure that quickly built to an insistence, flaming a hunger in her she’d never known. She leaned against him, her breasts aching as they touched his chest. Her lips parted at his urging as though paired to his, and his tongue mated feverishly with hers.

With the force of a sudden storm, she was no longer plain Melisende. Every fiber of her felt beautiful and desired. Her world was nothing more than the roughened velvet of his lips, the taste of ale on his breath, and the tender confines of his arms.


Heir to a lairdshsip, Kinnon Macrory is driven to prove himself by fighting the English on the battlefields of France. His dreams of heroic valor are destroyed by his inability to come to grips with the atrocities visited on the very people he is sworn to protect, and three years in a French prison for a crime he did not commit leave Kinnon longing for the one thing of beauty in his war-torn life—a young woman of great kindness and wisdom named Melisende.

Melisende de la Roche struggles to stay one step ahead of soldiers who would imprison her for helping an injured Scotsman accused of treason. She finds refuge in her uncle’s shop—until a chance encounter sends her fleeing into the unknown once again, always haunted by the beguiling friendship with the troubled young Scotsman she is certain she will never see again.

Determined to find the woman of his dreams, Kinnon returns to France, only to discover a trail of clues to Melisende’s whereabouts. Their reunion will open the doors to passion, but half-truths and lies from the past could destroy the one thing they both are willing to fight for—each other.

Buy Link: Amazon

My guest next week on Medieval Monday is Ruth A. Casie! 

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Quote for the Week of January 24, 2016

Ben Nevis, Scotland. Photo by John Morgan

Ben Nevis, Scotland. Photo by John Morgan

“It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities.” 

–Eric Hoffer

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