The holiday season is officially here! Whatever and however you celebrate, it’s a season when friends and family come together, and odds are, you might be giving gifts to—or sharing meals with—your loved ones. Just going out on a limb there. Now, something you might not know about me is that I loooove hosting, and I love cooking even more. I’m pretty good, if I do say so myself. I’m also very well read in the romance department, so believe me when I tell you no one is more qualified to give you unsolicited advice on which romance reads would make great gifts, and what recipes best complement them.
So, in the spirit of the season, here’s some of my completely unsolicited gift and food advice. You’re welcome. Pull up a seat and let’s dig into these delicious romances and delectable culinary pairings!
Well Met by Jen DeLuca—Turkey Legs
Look, I can’t include a book set in a Renaissance faire on my list of gift-worthy romances and NOT also suggest you pair your read with a turkey leg. Jen DeLuca’s fabulous debut, Well Met, is perfect for the Renaissance lover in your life, or for anyone who knows how sexy leather pants and vests can be. Bold spices and Louisiana hot sauce give this turkey leg recipe from Taste of Home the perfect amount of zing. Because trust me, you’re going to crave something hot and delicious when you meet my boyfriend Simon. HEYOOOO.
Intercepted and Fumbled by Alexa Martin—Sweet and Spicy Buffalo Wings
I’ll be the first to admit I know very little about football, but what I DO know, I learned from ATK co-founder Alexa Martin and her swoon-worthy romances, Intercepted and Fumbled. (Blitzed comes out so so sooooo soon!) Marlee and Poppy are two kickass characters, and the romances are sizzling hot in these gorgeous books. This sweet and spicy wings recipe from the Food Network (aka my kryptonite, I will seriously watch that for hooouuuuuurrrrrrssssss) combines honey, ginger, vinegar, and chipotle peppers for a pepped-up take on a football classic.
Image courtesy of author
Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym Martineau—Lamb Tagine
In the opening chapter of Kingdom of Exiles by ATK co-founder Maxym Martineau, we meet Leena, a badass beast charmer who’s chowing down on a lamb dinner in the bar where Important Plot Things begin. (No spoilers! Buy the book!) A “tagine” is a dish named for the specialty pot in which it is cooked. You better believe the Barefoot Contessa has that specialty cookware, but for beast charmers, assassins, and sleep-deprived mothers of two babies (it me), this hearty lamb dish can be cooked in your standard pot. The Moroccan-inspired flavors will keep you warm until the sexy assassin Noc comes along to take over the job.
PS – I love the Barefoot Contessa sooooo much, I’d even dare stepping foot into Cruor if she asked me to.
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole—Sage and Lemon Chicken
Do you know someone who likes smart, sarcastic humor? World travel? Sexy royals in disguise? Then A Princess in Theory is the book for them. One of my favorite scenes is when Thabiso cooks dinner for Naledi for the first time – a chicken dish with lemon and sage, which she only allows him to prepare for her because she’s tired of ramen and not at all because he’s a gorgeous male specimen (just kidding, it’s both). Ohhhh Thabiso. *swoons* Anyway, this recipe from Taste of Home features freshly squeezed lemon juice, fresh sage, and lots of other delicious things. Sadly, it does NOT include a foreign prince in disguise. You’re going to have to read the book for that.
Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher—Street-Style Tacos
Honestly, friends, you didn’t think you were getting a food-themed listicle by yours truly without any mention of tacos, did you? I was already pumped to read Andie’s book, and when the meet-cute included TACOS!? Are you kidding me? Romance doesn’t get better than that. One of my all-time favorite food blogs, Damn Delicious, has a killer street taco recipe. Onion, cilantro, lime juice… The only thing more delicious would be sharing them with Jack Nolan.
BONUS—to go with your tacos, here is my own personal salsa recipe!
- 3 cans Rotel
- 1 small white onion
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 bunch cilantro
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- Garlic to taste (4 – 5 cloves)
- Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse to desired consistency. Refrigerate overnight, and enjoy while reading a fabulous romance, like Not the Girl You Marry. 😉
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston—DIY Jaffa Cakes
I’m not even going to try to play it cool, I’ve read Red, White & Royal Blue upwards of nine times. I absolutely adore it. If you’ve read it, too, you’ll know that Prince Henry turns to jaffa cakes in times of stress, and what kind of fool would I be to not link you to Her Royal Highness herself Mary Berry’s recipe? While you nibble these tasty treats, treat your brain and heart to this delightfully heartwarming book about what happens when the First Son of the US and the Prince of England fall in love. Star Wars jokes, swoonworthy feelings, and delicious food details abound.
Moonlight & Whiskey by Tricia Lynne—Winter-Spiced Old Fashioned
Another one of my favorite romances! ATK co-founder Tricia Lynne’s Moonlight & Whiskey is a sexy, red-hot tale that burns bright amid a NOLA backdrop, slick with a sexy lead and plenty of whiskey. And, PLOT TWIST, to honor the characters and motif, I’m recommending a cocktail this time. Smitten Kitchen blog’s “fairytale of New York” cocktail is essentially a winter-spiced old fashioned, and good lord it’s good. Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg warm up the traditional bourbon and orange with a splash of spice that’s perfectly paired with Avery and Declan’s love story.
There you have it! I always love new foodie finds and sexy reads, so now it’s your turn to share. What are some of your favorite recipes that go with your favorite reads? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy gifting, happy cooking, and happy holidays. <3