Thursday, April 4, 2013

Come dine with Sophie and Dan: Today’s treat is… Extra Hot Rocking Pizza! Sophie’s Run Blogtour 2013 with Nicky Wells

Come dine with Sophie and Dan: Today’s treat is… Extra Hot Rocking Pizza!
Sophie’s Run Blogtour 2013

I love Nicky Wells.  No, seriously—adore her.  She’s a wonderful mum, fiercely loyal friend, makes me laugh when I need it most, and she’s convinced Sophie, from her smashing Rock Star Romance series, to make you my all-time favorite dish today.  No matter the language you speak, the word “pizza” is globally understood.  Grab your hot pepper flakes, and join us for the party! 

Sophie’s Run

You can purchase Sophie's Run here.
Her famous star remains her rock while life takes her on a little detour…

Who says that the road towards true love is straight and even?  Sophie is certainly discovering that it is anything but.

So she has finally found the man of her dreams! Well… she knows who he is, even though she hasn’t actually quite met him yet.  But she misses her opportunity, and then her life goes crazy.  Rock star and ex-fiancé, Dan, keeps getting in the way of her new romance—even if he is just trying to be helpful.  A fire, an impromptu mini-trip with Dan, and a dreaded wedding later, Sophie is still struggling to meet the love of her life. Then, just as she is getting it together with her perfect man, best friend Rachel commits an act of unspeakable betrayal.

Sophie has had enough. Confused and distraught, she decides that it is time for radical change.  Surprising herself and shocking her friends, she embarks on a secret journey and eventually gets her life back on track.

Hey, you! Yes, you, Jen Tucker! And friends! *waves*

It’s me, Sophie! Remember me? *blushes* You do? Aw, thank you! Yeah, well, I’m back again. My romance with Dan is continuing, in a roundabout way, and he very definitely remains my rock even while life takes me a on a little detour. It’s all in the second book, Sophie’s Run, and that’s why Jen’s invited me here today.

*blushes some more* Well, actually, I kinda invited myself. After Dan had such a great time on Princess with a Pen, I wanted to come by too. Plus I know Jen and I have a lot in common, not least a love of rock stars (albeit different ones, TG!) and of hot pepperoni pizza.

See, this latest book tour of my author, the lovely Nicky Wells, is all about taking YOU on tour with us to share some of the lovely food that we enjoy throughout the books. Pizza is very high on both mine and Nicky’s lists… Did you know there are twenty-two mentions of pizza in Sophie’s Run alone? I think it’s fair to say it’s my staple food, LOL. And I celebrate with pizza, too. Always. Even really big things!

We were greeted by the amazing smell of pizza, loud voices, and cheerful music. Balloons and banners had been strung criss-crossing the room, and there was a great centerpiece made up of pink and white heart-shaped balloons.
Überraschung,” Greetje shouted when she spotted us and hastened across the room to say hello. “Surprise! We thought for a moment you weren’t coming.” She hugged me briefly and whispered in my ear, “I am so pleased for you, congratulations.”
She turned to Dan and Rachel. “Hi, good to see you again. Did you forget about all this?” She gestured loosely at the balloons and the party. Rachel had the grace to blush.
(Excerpt from Sophie’s Run)

Now this post wouldn’t be terribly interesting if I simply said, ‘go and buy a pizza from your local takeaway.’ (Although I’ll never say no to a Domino’s, Papa John’s or Pizza Hut delivery!). Instead, I have gone to the trouble of making pizza from scratch, just for you. It’s actually surprisingly easy, and I can pull this off, so can you. The biggest challenge is simply getting organized because both the dough and the sauce need some time to cook/stand/rise/simmer. Here goes!

To make your own extra-hot rocking pepperoni pizza, you need…

For the base:
~300 grams of good strong flour (this is really important; ordinary flour won’t do, it has to be flour for breadmaking!)
~½ teaspoon of dried yeast
~1 tablespoon of olive oil
~1 teaspoon of salt
~170 ml of water

For the sauce:
~two tins or cartons of chopped tomatoes
~two tablespoonfuls of tomato puree/concentrate
~one or two cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
~herbs and seasoning to taste: parsley, thyme, chives, oregano, basil, a bay leaf, salt, pepper
~a dash of olive oil

Anything you fancy really! I’m using today:
~pepperoni slices
~pickled chili
~sliced raw mushrooms
~heaps of mozzarella cheese

And here’s what you do…

First of all, get your tomato sauce going. Place all the ingredients in a medium size pot. For the herbs, use a good sprinkling of each, there are no hard and fast rules and you can always add more later if you think it needs more oomph. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, cover the pot with a lid but take care to let some steam escape, otherwise the sauce won’t boil down; and leave to simmer for one to two hours. When it tastes good, turn off the heat and leave to cool. You can even make this the day before, and any leftovers you can freeze for next time!


My mouth is watering...

Next, you need to make the base. If you have a breadmaker, throw the ingredients in and follow your manufacturer’s instructions for making pizza dough. If you don’t have a breakmaker, pour the flour in a heap onto a smooth and cool work surface. Make a dent in the middle and add the yeast, olive oil and water. Combine by kneading inwards until you have a soft, smooth, springy dough. Place in a bowl, cover and leave to rise for at least an hour; the dough should double in size. (If you have a boiler cupboard or somewhere where it’s nice and warm, put the dough-in-bowl there). After an hour, knead again and then leave to prove again for another half hour or so.

Turn the oven on NOW! Turn it up as hot as it will go. Domestic ovens are nowhere near as hot as a pizza oven (my friend the pizza baker told me that your average pizza oven bakes at 260 centigrade/500 Fahrenheit plus, whereas your domestic oven stops at 220 centigrade/430 Fahrenheit), so crank it up and make it’s properly preheated when you put your pizza in!

To make the pizza base, divide your lump of dough into four equal balls. Roll out onto a tray using the heels of your hand. The dough will be quite bouncy and obstinate, but you’re in charge so keep going until you have a nice pizza shaped base. Be sure to make it quite thin ~ it will rise in the oven. But then again, don’t make it too thin. If you can see the tray through it, you’ve probably stretched it a bit too far!

Leave your pizza base to rest for about 20 mins. (I know, it takes time! But it’s worth it. You can prep your toppings while the bases rest).

The pizza ‘before’ it goes in the oven…

 Ladle on the sauce, add your toppings, cover with cheese and shove your pizza in the oven. It’ll probably take about five minutes, depending on the heat in your appliance, so keep an eye on it — you don’t want it to burn!

….and ‘after’ it comes out! YUM!

Happy eating! I hope my post today inspired you to try making your own pizza sometime and while you eat… well, why not perhaps join me, Dan and twenty-two mentions of pizza in Sophie’s Run? Rock on!

Thanks again to Jen for hosting me and… hang on, wait, there’s more!

Nicky Wells is giving away one delicious chocolate gift to a lucky winner in the UK or North America!

The small print: This Gift prize is a product of Unique Chocolate. The Gift prize is subject to availability in your country. If the Gift prize is not available in your country, Nicky Wells reserves the right to offer a substitute gift prize of a similar nature at her discretion. Nicky Wells will require the winner’s postal address for shipping purposes.

Click HERE for the Rafflecopter Link

2. Bonus Giveaway

Nicky Wells offers a giveaway of one Amazon gift voucher worth $20/£15 for one lucky winner. To enter, simply share your thoughts on Sophie’s Run with Nicky. Email your comment to and your name will be entered into the draw. Competition closes 1 May 2013.

     Isn’t Nicky the best?  Good luck to you all!  If you win the chocolate, I think that’s up there with winning the lottery.  And you know what happens when a sudden windfall comes your way, right?  The people come out of the woodwork to share in your good fortune.  I will be one of them.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by.  Nicky and I appreciate you very much!

About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Rock On! Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door.  A signed author with U.S. publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, Nicky is in the throes of publishing her Rock Star Romance Trilogy. Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters.  When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and occasional teaching assistant.

Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.

Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress. You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook. Nicky is a featured author on the innovative reader/author project, and has joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Nicky also has author pages at Sapphire Star Publishing, Amazon and, of course, Goodreads.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sibel Hodge talks drama free Soup Opera. Yes, I said Soup Opera!

Sibel Hodge is back with second gluten free cookbook, and I give it two enthusiastic, GLUTEN FREE, thumbs up!  We all get stuck in ruts with dinner ideas, right?  I’ve found that especially true since my Celiac Disease diagnosis in 2004.  Sibel doesn’t want you to reinvent the wheel, nor does she want you to track down rare ingredients.  She gives you a fresh way to use what you might already have in your pantry, and will never be farther than your local grocer.  I hope you’ll discover some new takes on old favorites, and take a chance and make some delicious new-to-you ones as well.  Bon Appétit! 

 About A Gluten Free Soup Opera:
 Whether you’re looking for a tasty starter, a light lunch, or a hearty dinner, there’s nothing quite like a nutritious bowl of soup. In the second book from Sibel Hodge’s gluten free cookbook series, A Gluten Free Soup Opera takes you on an international culinary journey, bringing you a delicious bowl of goodness for any occasion. All of the 30 recipes included are gluten and wheat free, and most also have dairy free and vegetarian/vegan options included.

Looking for a Christmas Day starter? Try Festive Chestnut Soup. If you’re running low on time, Butter Bean and Pancetta Soup or Greek Pork and Lemon Soup will take 20 minutes to cook. For a filling dinner, Rustic Leek and Potato or Hearty Lamb and Green Bean Soup fits the bill. African Peanut Soup, Moroccan Sweet and Sour Soup, or Chili Bean Soup are the ultimate in winter warmers. Pistachio Soup and Seafood Soup will impress your guests at a dinner party. And for a light lunch, choose Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup or Broccoli and Parmesan Soup.

A Gluten free diet doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste. Today it can be eclectic, vibrant, and adventurous. After cooking for her coeliac husband for over a decade, author Sibel Hodge gives you the ultimate in mouth-watering and healthy recipes, which can easily be prepared using ingredients from your store cupboard or local supermarket.

Who says gluten free cooking has to be boring?

Experiment. Eat. Enjoy!

Sibel's message for you:
Hello! A big Soup Opera welcome to you…

For those who don’t know me, let me tell you a little bit about how this book was born. Well, for starters, I’ve been cooking since I was about ten years old. Under the watchful eye of my nan, who was a fabulous chef, I developed a love of food that has lasted…let’s see…ahem, at least eleven years (yes, I can still be twenty-one in my head), and she taught me how to make mouth-watering meals from scratch. Now I want to pass that knowledge on to you.
I’m the author of thirteen other fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children, and in my spare time, I’m Wonder Woman. When I’m not writing or saving the world from dastardly demons, you can find me in the kitchen, cooking up a storm.
Being half Turkish Cypriot and half British, I was introduced to exciting culinary delights from an early age. When the rest of my mates were eating plain meat-and-two-veg dinners, I was tucking into Mediterranean delights of mousaka, meze, and pilavs.
Turkish people love to eat, therefore they love to cook! In the first cookbook in my gluten free/wheat free series, A Gluten Free Taste of Turkey, I combine my knowledge of tasty, easy-to-cook recipes with nutritious and scrummy Turkish food.
My love of Mediterranean food and the healthy Mediterranean Diet went on to spark my interest into a vast wealth of international dishes. Increasing your recipe bank means you can travel all over the world, and sample all kinds of cuisine, without ever needing your passport!
I’m also a qualified health and fitness professional, with a special interest in nutrition. We all live busy lives these days, don’t we? But that doesn’t mean we have to swap healthy, easy-to-cook, delicious meals for junky fast food. We are what we eat, and if we put rubbish in, it won’t be long before we’re feeling rubbish, too. I firmly believe that our ever-increasing health problems, diseases, and allergies are due to the chemicals, pesticides, and hormones that are pumped into our food and environment. I want to show you that healthy meals can taste great and be easily prepared.
I’ve been cooking gluten/wheat free since I met my hubby over a decade ago. When he first told me he was coeliac, I had a panic attack. I’d never heard the word before, and my first thought was that it meant he had some peculiar sexual quirk that I wasn’t going to like very much. When I finally discovered it meant he couldn’t eat gluten, which is found in barley, oats, wheat, and rye, I had an even bigger panic attack. Trying to find something in the supermarkets back then that didn’t include those ingredients was a nightmare. As well as being blatantly advertised, it’s often cunningly disguised as “thickener”, “stabilizing agent”, “shortening”, and “Ricin”. OK, I made the last one up, but gluten can have severe side effects for people who are coeliac or intolerant/allergic to it.
Maybe now would be a good time to let you into my little secret (stands up and coughs)… I have a serious soup fetish! There, I confessed! Whether it’s summer, winter, or spring, you’ll find me eating the stuff (sometimes in secret). I’m a regular soup-a-holic, and I know that I’m not alone in this little culinary foible. I mean, how can you not love a little bowl of goodness that’s so versatile? Whether you’re looking for a simple starter, a light lunch, or a hearty dinner, soup is the perfect dish every time.
So will you need any specialist ingredients or equipment for this recipe book? No! There’s nothing worse than buying a cookbook, reading through the recipes, and then banging your head against the kitchen worktop because you’ve discovered you need a particular blend of this, or an obscure jar of that, and you just can’t get hold of it. You’ll probably find most of the ingredients used in this cookbook already lurking in your store cupboard or, failing that, your local supermarket. Unlike when I first started cooking gluten free all those years ago, you can now find so much choice in gluten/wheat free products in the shops that you shouldn’t have any trouble getting hold of everything you need to create my tasty, international delights. The only thing you may need to pick up (if you don’t already have one) is a hand blender, and these are both easily available and cheap.
If you’re not coeliac, or sensitive to gluten/wheat, should you eat a gluten free diet? Well, many people are turning to a gluten free/wheat free diet because it can have many health benefits, including an increase in energy, better digestion and elimination, improving cholesterol levels and auto-immune disorders, controlling weight and bloating, and making you super attractive to the opposite sex (yes, I made the last one up again – just checking you were still awake). Whereas twenty years ago, a gluten free diet would be bland and boring, today it can be eclectic, vibrant, and delicious, and these are the dishes that I wanted to share with you in A Gluten Free Soup Opera.
The recipes included in this book should be used as a guideline because you know your taste buds better than anyone else does. If you want to substitute one ingredient for another that you like more, then go for it. This is how great recipes are born, and it’s all about making the food work for you. Wherever you can, please try to use organic ingredients. It’s kinder to the environment and animals, and it’s healthier for you.
The most important thing in cooking is to have fun with it, so experiment, eat, and enjoy!

Sibel XX

Recipe from A Gluten Free Soup Opera
Moroccan Sweet and Sour Soup

This recipe does exactly what is says on the tin – it’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s sour, and it’s fun! Moroccan food is all about flavour and colour, and this dish is an explosion of both.

I’m using dried apricots here, and whenever possible try and get apricots that are naturally air dried, rather than those dried using sulphur or sulphur dioxide, which can cause allergies in some people. They will probably be darker in colour than the usual apricots, but the taste is the same and they’re healthier for you.

Did you know that as well has being a great source of dietary fibre and protein, chickpeas are also rich in folate, calcium, and manganese, plus they’re also low in fat, which is always a bonus! But if you don’t like chickpeas, substitute them for a can of beans like cannellini, borlotti, kidney, or black-eyed.


·     1 onion – chopped
·     1 carrot – diced
·     1 red pepper – diced
·     1 green pepper – diced
·     8 – 10 dried apricots – chopped
·     4 cloves of garlic – crushed and chopped
·     2 inch piece of fresh root ginger – peeled and chopped finely
·     400 gr can of chopped tomatoes
·     400 gr can of chickpeas – drained and rinsed
·     Juice of half a lemon
·     2 – 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
·     1 pint (approx. 2 ½ cups) of chicken stock/vegetable stock/water
·     ¼ teaspoon of dried cinnamon
·     1 tablespoon of ground coriander
·     1 teaspoon of ground cumin
·     ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
·     1 tablespoon of tumeric
·     1 tablespoon of paprika
·     ¼ – ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
·     ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
·     Salt to taste
·     Olive oil for frying


1.  Fry the onions and peppers until soft.
2.  Add the other ingredients, except for the fresh coriander, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 35 – 45 minutes.
3.  Stir in the fresh coriander and serve.

Serves 4 – 6

* Vegetarian/Vegan Options – Use vegetable stock
* Dairy Free

Thank you for sharing, Sibel!  I love to love you!
Thank you, oh fab readers, for stopping by, and I just love you all to bits.



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