Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Tour for Rachel Dahlrumple by Shea McMaster (Guest Blog & Giveaway)

Today I bring to you courtesy of Goddess Fish Promotions a suspenseful story about a woman betrayed whose husband's death isn't the end but the beginning of a web of lies.  Throw in a hunky Deputy and things get even more complicated.  Shea McMasters is here today to not only give us a glimpse of her new book, but also give us a lasagna recipe that sounds mouth watering.  There's also a giveaway associated with today's tour stop, so be sure to read this entire post to get yourself entered.  And now, I bring to you author Shea McMasters.......

I hope my hostess doesn’t mind, too much, but since I’m hijacking her blog for the day I might as well do it up big. Right?

I could go on and on about what makes a good romantic suspense, or state the obvious about why strong heroines are preferred but, really, I’ve been talking about either myself or writing for the past several days. Kudos to those who have followed me from day to day. I think you deserve a break.

So here it is. My big surprise. My very own recipe for Monster Lasagna.

As if you didn’t have enough recipes of your own, right? Well, this one lives up to its name. It’s a monster. I made this last weekend for my husband and his pinochle playing buddies. I even thought far enough ahead to take pictures. Please ignore my messy, crowded kitchen. It’s clean enough no one will get food poisoning.

Like a good novel, one must begin with the sauce (Okay, that’s cheesy, but Jmo made me write it):

Slice and chop two medium sized sweet onions, or one very large onion. Vidalia, Walla Walla, Maui, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s a sweet variety. Toss into a frying pan seasoned with a little olive oil. I like to caramelize my onions. It brings out the sweetness.

Add to the pan one pound of ground beef and four to six Italian sausages. I prefer the mild sausages and sometimes I squeeze the meat out of the casing and chop it up into the ground beef. Usually I cook the sausages then slice them very thin and continue cooking while browning the meat with the onions. Once everything is cooked, drain off the excess grease and dump it all in a stock pot. The stock pot is necessary because of volume. See the photo. Yes, I used every drop in the dish.

Major cheat time. This is where I add a Costco sized jar of Prego. I’m usually short on time and it tastes pretty much like I’d make anyway. I rinse the jar with red wine and add it to the pot. I keep a four pack of wine miniatures on hand. One bottle works. About a large glass of wine. I prefer Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel, but whatever you like is fine as long as it’s red.

At this time I also shake in some dried garlic flakes. Yes, you CAN have too much garlic, but it takes a lot to get there. If I want some leftover sauce, I might dump in a can or two of diced tomatoes but, really, it’s not a requirement. The last time, I added some dried wild mushrooms. My big guy likes mushrooms. I’m so-so about them. Can take or leave ’em. Usually leave ’em to tell the truth.

Let this simmer a while. Don’t let it burn. Doesn’t hurt to let it cool then chill in the fridge overnight. Or, if you live in a cold area like I do, cover it tightly and set in a snow bank on the back porch overnight. In my case, I have a second floor balcony off the great room. Works great for large batches when fridge space is tight.

Next come the sneaky veggies. Depending on the size of the zucchinis, I finely shred one to two. Two if they’re small. I use the cheese grater and stir these bad boys deep into the sauce. Next, the green pepper. Not my favorite vegetable, I chop it up as fine as I can. Better distribution in the sauce that way. Definitely one I can taste, so I don’t go overboard. The cleanup crew will eat any leftovers raw. They love it!

Are you wondering what makes my lasagna different from all the others yet? Part of it is my sauce, which is different every time I make it. More or less sausage, veggies or not, I rarely make it the same way twice.

But what sets mine apart comes into play when I assemble it. Ah, like writing a novel, organizing the plot and the characters, one must lay out the media prior to assembly.  I start with my roaster pan. Not any old 9x13 pan, no siree, this one is sized to take a 25lb turkey. It’s big. And deep. 15” long by 12” wide by 3” deep. Teflon coated aluminum. Williams-Sonoma. Fully deserving of a Marine Corps Hoo-Rah. This baby takes an entire large box of noodles. Seven noodles per layer exactly. Twenty one noodles in all. They fit the width, rather than the length of the pan. (Insert man grunt here.) Trust me, they grunt when lifting the filled pan. It’s that heavy. I grunt! Nearly sprained my wrist last weekend lifting it in and out of the oven.

Cook the noodles according to directions and keep in cool water.

Next, we have the cheeses. What is lasagna without cheese? Probably spaghetti with wide noodles.

I buy three large containers of part skim Ricotta, into which I mix one egg per container, a generous sprinkle of dried garlic mix and about a half cup of grated parmesan cheese. Stir until well mixed. Since this makes a lot of ricotta, I tend to mix it up one container/layer at a time. That way if I don’t need the third container I can put it back in the fridge. Yes, this lasagna will try to ooze out over the top of the pan, so assess volumes as the layers build.

If I’m feeling rich, I really love to use fresh mozzarella. I can get this from Costco, but it does add significantly to the cost. Most often I use two pound blocks of Precious Mozzarella. Or an extra large bag of pre-shredded from Costco works as well. I also have plenty of grated and some shredded parmesan on hand. The shredded cheese looks pretty on top.

Time to assemble the creation.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan, just enough to keep the noodles from sticking. Drain the pasta on a clean towel (I do this 1-2 two at a time to keep them from getting sticky). Lay out the first seven noodles, edges overlapping. Cover with a generous layer of sauce. Plop on spoonfuls of the ricotta mix, trying to create a fairly even layer. Cover with a layer of shredded mozzarella and sprinkle on a coating of parmesan. Lay down the second layer of noodles and repeat the layers two more times. Finish off with a sprinkling of the shredded parmesan.

Yes, this will fill the pan to the very top. It will most likely drip in the oven, which is why I sometimes place it on a cookie sheet that is larger than the roasting pan. A layer of heavy duty foil works as well.

Since the sauce is usually warm when I assemble the lasagna, one hour at 350 deg. F. is usually enough time. If the sauce is cold, 90 minutes might be called for. It’s ready when sauce is bubbling up around the edges and the cheese is browned. Let sit, if you can stand to, for at least ten minutes. Twenty or thirty minutes are better to let things firm up a bit more. By the time my husband drove across town, it was well set to serve as soon as he arrived at the pinochle house.

I use a Teflon spatula to measure and serve the pieces. They’re huge. And this monster usually provides a minimum of a dozen leftover servings. After feeding six people. If it sits in the fridge longer than three days I’ll toss the leftover containers in the freezer, but usually, when my son is home, this isn’t necessary.  I’ve told my husband to leave some with his buddies. I know Uncle Jim will gladly take a week’s worth for his lunches.

So, really, on the surface this has nothing to do with my writing. Really? You think so? Surprise! This lasagna is mentioned in a few of my future works. I have at least two WIPs that take place in an Italian restaurant. I’m calling this Bellisario’s Lasagna, the signature specialty using noodles made by Gina, the heroine of one story.

Am I Italian? Sorry, no. But my aunt by marriage is! Does that make me Italian by association? Probably not, but you don’t have to be Italian to appreciate a really fine lasagna. Just like you don’t need to be a detective to appreciate a fine Romantic Suspense novel. Which Rachel Dahlrumple is. There, got my plug in.

What’s your signature recipe? Would love to hear what drives your family wild, well, food-wise, that is. What drives your man wild is your business *wink* *wink*

And if you have minions to loan me for the clean up, I promise to return them. Eventually.

Many thanks to my hostess for letting me do something different!

That does look good and I know what I'm making for dinner tonight.


Her husband's death is just the beginning of her marital woes.

Rachel's humiliation over the discovery of her late husband's affairs turns to fear when one of his mistresses sends her a poisoned bouquet. But finding the source of the killer flowers is only one step on her path to solving the mystery her husband left behind.

Deputy Dan Weston is with Rachel when the bouquet arrives, and he's at her side as she deals with so many of the secrets that come to light after her husband's death. Dan has carried a torch for Rachel since puberty and he's not going to let her dead husband's vindictive girlfriends or his psychotic mother come between them now. But that means finding out who is sending snakes and poisoned posies before one kills Rachel.

Buy Link:


I looked up and took in Dan’s expression. All teasing gone. Cop mode.

“I’m a simple person, Deputy Weston. Steady and calm. Boring. I don’t offend anyone, and no one gives me trouble. Unless you’re talking about Jose Delgado, who is three weeks late with the last book he checked out.”

“I don’t think Jose wrote this.” With a deepening scowl, he turned the card so I could read it through the clear plastic.

Black, block letters, innocuous enough, aside from the message. Ah, yes, the kicker.

Let him go. We want to be together. Start divorce proceedings. Or better yet, end your pitiful life. Your choice. For now.

Dan’s gaze was glued to my face, which first felt hot, then cold. My head swam and my breathing wheezed in and out, as ragged as my stuttering heartbeat.

That bastard. The low down, scheming, rotten, lying, slimy, vile, despicable…

“Care to revise your statement?”

A few quick blinks brought the deputy back into focus, though I could feel the airways in my lungs constricting.

“I know who’s going to die, and isn’t going to be me,” I whispered. “Chinese water torture is too good for him. Splinter those bamboo chopsticks and the minute he gets home, they’re going under his fingernails” I’d learned a few things from my father’s stories of ’Nam. And of course, by reading about the war. After all, I was a librarian. I’d read nearly every book on the shelves. Briefly, I considered doing a search on torture techniques.

The tanned face so near mine blanched. “Easy going, ma’am.”

Right. I wasn’t known for saying such things. I wasn’t known for saying much.

“Well?” I demanded. My fragile world had just vaporized before my eyes and it was far too soon to see what might be left. If anything. The only future visible looked like a rapidly expanding black hole.

Someone wanted me dead. But who? My husband? His girlfriend? Divorce loomed in front of me like a huge gaping maw. I wanted to wail, gnash my teeth, and obliterate something, anything. Of course, I was Rachel the Mouse, so I did my best to hide the violent urges building inside. Rachel the Meek never, ever, let loose with her most primitive emotions. She hid them deep, keeping a calm, submissive, accepting face turned toward the world at large.

“What would you do?”

For the first time I could remember in our long history, Dan looked directly, and very deeply, into my eyes. The sympathy, sincerity, and concern on his face hit me before his words did. Already overwhelmed from too many emotions boiling in my heart and head, I had no defense or response for his reply, or the way he ever so lightly caressed my cheek with the back of his fingers.

“Since I’m not the kind of idiot your husband is, Rachel, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to screw around on the most amazing woman anywhere. Were I the lucky one to have you, I wouldn’t leave you alone long enough for you to ever feel abandoned.”

Aside from the asthma and allergy thing, I was a healthy woman. I’d never, ever, once fainted in my life. But the shocks to my system that night hit too hard. A poisonous gift, a nasty note, knowledge I didn’t want of my husband’s cheating ways, and a gorgeous, younger man, telling me he considered me amazing… The zing I felt in my tummy from his touch did me in.

Black waves engulfing me, limbs losing strength, I slowly collapsed and Dan caught me at the last moment of consciousness. Like any nineteenth-century heiress worth her crumpets and tea, I fainted right into his arms.


The softer, sweeter side of Morgan O’Reilly, Shea McMaster lives for traditional romance.

Born in New Orleans, raised in California, Shea/Morgan got moved to Alaska in 1977, where she attended high school before running back to California for college. Alas, once back home she met and fell in love with her own forever true hero, a born and raised Alaska man. Since then she’s had a love-hate relationship with America’s largest state.

With her one and only son half way through college, and mostly out of the house, Shea is fortunate to spend her days engaged in daydreaming and turning those dreams into romantic novels and novellas featuring damsels in distress rescued by their own brains and hunky heroes.  /


Giveaway is for a custom tote bag or mug to one commenter from the entire tour.

-Open to US & CAN.
-Leave a comment, along with your email addy, answering Shea's question (which is in bold) to be entered.
-One commenter will be chosen from every comment made from the entire tour.  So the more comments you make during the tour at these stops, the greater your chances of winning.
-Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM on 11/18.


  1. Hmm, guess what I had for breakfast? Nicely warmed lasagna.

    It's very cold today, about 10 degF with gusting winds that take us down to -20 with the windchill. A good day to snuggle in and read. Or in my case, write.

    Looking forward to a great day here visiting with anyone who drops by! Be sure to leave a note and tell me what's your favorite dish to make. Even if it's a dish of tea. I like tea :)

  2. Yummy! My family goes wild if I cook at all. It's just easier that way.

  3. I never thought of sneaking veggies into my lasagna. Thanks for the tip! And I look forward to that novel set in an Italian restaurant.

  4. I'm lucky enough to have TASTED Shea's monster lasagna and it's as good as it looks! My hubby is the cook in our family. I CAN do it, I just don't LOVE doing it. The most spectacular thing I make is Porcupine Meatballs, which are just meatballs made with rice, simmered for several hours in a tomato sauce and then garnished with flour dumplings. Gives you some idea of what "spectacular" means in our house - lol. Comfort food--that's what counts big here! Thanks for the recipe, Shea. And good luck with the book too!

  5. Hmmm ... well, hold the hamburger, sausage and ricotta and other cheeses and I could probably eat this! LOL. It's almost enough to lure me away from vegetarianism. Sure looks good! And so does Rachel Dahlrumple ... congratulations on the release and all the great buzz!

  6. Boone, whether you actually cook or not, you put on a good spread. Keep doing what works!

    Tam, I figure it makes it more like pizza if you add the veggies. A more balanced meals, as it were!

    Liz, not a darn thing wrong with comfort food. Lasagna is right up that alley. Very yummy on a cold and windy day. It helps provide layers of warmth to last the whole winter long... wait, not the picture I want to encourage! Unless you're envisioning those layers as soft cuddly blankets. Yeah, that's better!

    Thanks for stopping by, ladies! You're the best :)

  7. Juniper, no, not a vegetarian meal at all. Not one my cardiologist would approve of either, I suppose, which is one reason I make it only about once a year. Another plus for it is the leftovers freeze very well for plenty of future meals.

    It's a good thing we can usually find restaurants that cater to both our tastes. So glad you came by!

  8. Can't wait to give this a try. Love food that I can cook to eat some, freeze some and lasagna is so good for that. Thank you for sharing!

  9. You're very welcome, Anonymous! email me your name and I'll add you to the hat for the drawing on Friday.

    shea (AT) sheamcmaster (dot) com

  10. I make a great lasagna, if I do say so myself. Food brings the family together & warms the heart.