Monday, December 7, 2015

Ho Ho Ho Harlequin Holiday Extravaganza - Michelle Major - A Very Crimson Christmas **Giveaway**

Welcome once again to my blog's holiday bash staring all the wonderful Harlequin Special Edition authors I review for RT Magazine. Today's installment is by Michelle Majors. Enjoy as she shares a special holiday memory, a recipe and a great giveaway too! And I've posted my review of her holiday tale A Very Crimson Christmas courtesy of RT Magazine below!

I’m thrilled to be a part of The Reading Frenzy’s Ho Ho Ho Harlequin Holiday Bash this year! There are so many things I love about the holidays—trimming the tree, driving around our neighborhood to see the lights and, of course, holiday books! But my favorite is all the special recipes we dust off every year around Christmas. My daughter and I have a tradition of making homemade hot fudge and baking cookies, which always include buckeyes since I’m from Ohio.

But it’s my grandma’s recipe for mashed potatoes that reminds me the most of Christmas when I was a girl. She only made her potatoes on special occasions and, while the recipe is simple—potatoes, butter, milk, salt and pepper—she had a way of blending them (always with her trusty hand mixer) that resulted in mashed potatoes that were light and creamy and never had any lumps (at least that’s how I remember them!). My mom doesn’t cook much, so I learned from watching my grandma. Apparently, I should have been watching a little closer because the first time I tried to make her mashed potatoes, things didn’t go exactly as planned.

My parents were hosting Christmas and I’d volunteered to make the mashed potatoes. I was so excited to follow in my Gram’s footsteps and become the new ‘chef’ in the family. How hard could it be? What I didn’t realize was that it’s always a good idea to check the boiling potatoes for doneness before mashing them. Once you add the milk and butter, it’s kind of too late. Oops.

I was devastated to wind up with a big bowl of spuds that were a gloppy mess and crunchy as well, since the potatoes were barely cooked. My mom still served them because I’d made the effort, and it was embarrassing to watch everyone not eat my contribution to the meal. Everyone except my grandpa. He was a gruff, tough WWII vet who had a total soft spot for his two granddaughters. So my grandpa not only ate one heaping helping of those disgusting potatoes but then asked for seconds.  Of all the memories I have of Christmas traditions, presents, and celebrations through the years, it’s that one sweet moment of my grandpa’s love that sticks with me.

Since that first less than successful attempt, I’ve perfected my grandma’s mashed potatoes. She’s now in her mid-90s and Alzheimer’s keeps her from remembering  all those holiday dinners. I’ve tried plenty of different potatoes through the years, but for Thanksgiving and Christmas I always make her recipe and I always think of my grandpa.

Do you have a favorite holiday recipe that’s a tradition in your house? Share a dish you love to make in the comments below and I’ll pick one winner for a copy of my November Special Edition release, A Very Crimson Christmas and a $10 Amazon gift card.

And if you’re making mashed potatoes, my grandma’s rules for perfect potatoes are: 1. Start with the potatoes in cold water when you put them on to boil.
2. Heat the butter and milk before adding to the potatoes and always add the butter first.
3. Don’t over mix!

I hope each of you has a wonderful, blessed Christmas with your own special memories!

 Michelle Major grew up in Ohio but dreamed of living in the mountains. Soon after graduating with a degree in Journalism, she pointed her car west and settled in Colorado. Her life and house are filled with one great husband, two beautiful kids, a few furry pets and several well-behaved reptiles. She’s grateful to have found her passion writing stories with happy endings. Michelle loves to hear from her readers at

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  1. You learn from experience.

    Sorry to hear about your grandma, now your mashed potatoes are going to be extra special

    1. You're right! And every time I make them I think of her! I just thought of the fact that the hero's nanny in my giveaway book is named after my grandma. :-) Sharing this memory was meant to be!

    2. Wow that's fabulous to know Michelle!

  2. Thanks for all the great tips and tricks!!

  3. What a special memory, Michelle❤️ My daughter LOVES mashed potatoes so I'll try your grandma's recipe this Christmas. Our tradition is making a big pot of hen soup and baking ham bread, it's a tradition to eat it with other Venezuelan dishes. My hubby made it last year! We always bought it from a bakery. It turned out great! Daughter wants to bake xmas cookies, she already bought the cookie cutters so we're set!
    This year we celebrate xmas with our new pup, Minuet! She's adorable!

    1. You're new pup is the cutest!!! I'm going to look up a recipe for ham bread - sounds like something my family would love! Hugs!

    2. Wow Lorelei that's fantastic I love hearing about traditions from other places!

    3. Michelle, You tube must have videos, in Spanish it's called Pan de Jamon. We used pizza dough from our Publix bakery, rolled out thin, then covered with sliced ham, added green olives and raisins spread out, rolled up then put in the oven. Super easy.
      Deb, many families eat dinner close to midnight, also NYEve.

    4. Thanks for the YouTube tip Lorelei!! It's sounds yummy

  4. So happy to be here, Debbie! Ho ho ho!

  5. Thanks for the memory and the chance. These days I find myself trying to turn those old recipes into a lower sodium version for my mom.

    1. thats a great idea for today anonymous. I think I'll do that too!

    2. My mom is on a low-sodium diet so I make a lot of my Gram's recipes for her with no salt.

  6. Awe, your grandpa is the best. We all learn through trial and error but having that kind of support is priceless.

  7. A favorite holiday recipe came from my mom. She always made those meringue cookies, but added food coloring and chocolate chips for Christmas. A little crispy and lots of sugar!!

    1. OOh I wish I was a good cookie maker holdenj, but its just the same old toll house and m&m for me LOL thanks for sharing

  8. My mom always made a lot of cookies to give away on cookie trays to friends. A family favorite has always been Peanut Butter Blossoms.

    My MIL always has Chex Mix around, so now I make that every year, too. LOL

    Marcy Shuler

  9. I make a simple dip every year. Cream cheese mixed with either a can of crab or shrimp - you can add onion (dry or fresh), sour cream if you like it thinner and top with cocktail sauce. You could add chopped green pepper to make it festive.

    1. Oh that sounds wonderful, thanks for sharing catslady

  10. We make spinach dip every Christmas and Ricotta Cookies. The spinach dip recipe is on the Knorr's vegetable soup mix bag, but I don't use the water chestnuts. The ricotta cookies recipe is: Ricotta Cookies

    2 cups sugar
    1 cup margarine or butter, softened
    1 container (15 ounce size) ricotta cheese
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    2 large eggs
    4 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
    3 tablespoons milk
    Red and green sugar crystals (if making for holidays)

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar and margarine/butter until blended.
    2. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. At medium speed, beat in ricotta, vanilla, and eggs until well combined.
    3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat until dough forms.
    4. Drop dough by level tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased large cookie sheet. Bake about 15 minutes or until cookies are very lightly golden (cookies will be soft). With a spatula, remove cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
    5. When cookies are cool, prepare icing: In small bowl, stir confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. With small metal spatula or knife, spread icing on cookies; sprinkle with red or green sugar crystals. Set cookies aside to allow icing to dry completely, about an hour.

  11. I also make the Knorr spinach Dip without the water chestnuts.
    I also make spritz cookies every year and one meat stuffing and one bread stuffing.

    Spritz Cookies
    (You will need a strong cookie press)

    3 sticks of soft BUTTER ( no substitutes)
    1 c sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 3 1/2 c flour, 1/2 c gr almonds or 1/4 tsp almond extract blend together sugar and vanilla, knead in flour and gr almonds,so dough isn't too soft or sticky
    place in press place on ungreased cookie tray Bake 325* 12-15
    watch closely take out when golden brown Lower temp to 300* if oven runs hot

  12. Thank you for sharing that wonderful memory with us we don't have a special meal or recipe for Christmas because we don't celebrate Christmas in a big way however my mom always bake gingerbread cookies during the holidays that's the only special treat we have
    Happy holidays

  13. Oh I love to make gluten free peanut butter blossoms for the holidays! We make using 1 egg, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter! Mix all together and bake for 6-8 minutes at 350! When we take them out we add a holiday kiss or hug to the top! Fun for the holidays!