RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: July 2013

Birthday Dinner, Part XIII and Triple Chocolate Milkshake

Posted on

What better way to bring Birthday Dinner home than with a milkshake! This is the final section for the novel, and represents a calming epilogue after the high drama and violence of the last couple parts. And Becca tells Jonah how Zach has to drink milkshakes till his jaw heals. Imagine that–drinking milkshakes under doctor’s orders!

You don’t have to drink this Triple Chocolate Milkshake, but we can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to. It’s simple and quick and made from ingredients many of us have in our fridge and freezer right now. Perhaps best of all, given the time of year (summer, at least in the Northern Hemisphere), there’s no oven to heat up and the final product is cold and refreshing, a cooling liquid decadence. So indulge yourself!

And check out the end of Birthday Dinner while you’re at it–an end that brings you all the way back around to the beginning, sort of.

chocolate milkshake

Triple Chocolate Milkshake

1 heaping cup chocolate ice cream

1/4 cup chocolate milk

2 Tablespoons chocolate syrup

4-6 ice cubes (optional)

whipped cream, to top

chocolate shake

Add the chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk, and chocolate syrup to a blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds, or until all of the ingredients are well mixed. For a thicker shake, add the ice cubes and blend again. Pour the milkshake into a glass and top with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

Birthday Dinner cover

Birthday Dinner, Part XIII, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Birthday Dinner, Part XIII, text © Jeffrey Anderson

To download the entire novel in the format of your choosing for $1.99, go to


Birthday Dinner, Part XII and Soft Gingersnap Cookies

Posted on

It’s always a challenge to make a good thing better. Sometimes you have to go way out on a limb and take a chance. Sometimes you have to try something new and different. Sometimes you have to make several attempts before it finally works out.

Now soft gingersnap cookies–that’s taking a good thing and making it better. Nothing against the hard “snapping” gingersnaps. We’ve all had plenty of them–fresh out of the box or Grandma’s cookie jar (the one with the screw-on lid that was always so difficult to get off, especially without Grandma hearing!). But let’s face it–a cookie that snaps back at you when you bite it is not ideal, at least not if you want to keep your full set of teeth (maybe that’s why Grandma didn’t have all her teeth). So a soft gingersnap should be a big improvement. Give this recipe a try to see what you think.

Zach and Becca have tried to take a good thing and make it better. Their relationship was already strong before Jonah, but now it is even stronger. Trouble is, there’s a price to pay for their efforts at improving Jonah’s life and their own. And that price comes due in Birthday Dinner, Part XII.

soft gingersnaps

Soft Gingersnap Cookies

6 Tablespoons shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling

1 egg white

2 Tablespoons molasses

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have a bowl with granulated sugar in it ready for the cookie dough to be rolled in.

In a mixing bowl, add the shortening and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Beat ingredients together until fluffy, or about two minutes. Add the egg white and molasses and mix all of the ingredients together. Add the flour, cornstarch, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda and blend until dry ingredients are incorporated.

gingersnap cookie dough

Roll the cookie dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in the bowl with granulated sugar, making sure to evenly coat the cookie dough with sugar. Place the cookie dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies are just set. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

About 12 cookies.

soft gingersnaps

{Adapted from Dessert For Two}

Birthday Dinner cover

Birthday Dinner, Part XII, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Birthday Dinner, Part XII, text © Jeffrey Anderson

To download the entire novel in the format of your choosing for $1.99, go to


Birthday Dinner, Part XI and Chocolate Cobbler

Posted on

From mixed berry cobbler last week to a double-layer chocolate cobbler this week–not a bad trade, aye?

Fresh fruit is all about summer growth and life, and that’s a good thing. Really, it’s a great thing–hooray for summer! hooray for blooming life and hope and fresh opportunities! But sometimes you have to come back down to earth. Sometimes life doesn’t go exactly as planned or hoped. And when that happens, what better thing to turn to than good old chocolate–two layers to boot! There’s plenty of warm reassurance in this dessert. There’s plenty of consolation and comfort. There might even be a bit of indulgence and escapism. See what you think.

Zach and Becca’s life and love, so full of hope and optimism last week, takes an ominous turn in Birthday Dinner, Part XI as an act of vandalism may mark the return of Latonya, vengeful and violent now. Or maybe not–maybe it’s just a random crime. In either case, they could use some reassurance and maybe a little escape. And they find their reassurance and escape not in chocolate (at least not this time) but in each other. Check it out.

chocolate cobbler

Chocolate Cobbler

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules

4 Tablespoons cocoa powder, divided

8 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

5 Tablespoons milk or cream

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed

2/3 cup hot tap water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of a 5×7 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, coffee granules, 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder, and 4 tablespoons granulated sugar. To this, add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir ingredients together. The batter will be thick. Spread this mixture on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

chocolate cobbler topping

In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and the brown sugar. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the batter in the baking dish.

chocolate cobbler

Pour the hot tap water over top of the entire mixture. Do NOT stir ingredients together.

chocolate cobbler with strawberry

Place baking dish on a cookie sheet. Put in oven and bake for 35 minutes. When the cobbler is done, the top will look set and there will still be liquid on the bottom–that’s okay, it’ll thicken after cooling to make a pudding-like mixture. Let the cobbler cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

chocolate cobbler

{Adapted from Dessert for Two}

Birthday Dinner cover

Birthday Dinner, Part XI, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Birthday Dinner, Part XI, text © Jeffrey Anderson

To download the entire novel in the format of your choosing for $1.99, go to


Birthday Dinner, Part X and Mixed Berry Cobbler

Posted on

Summers are so full of life and fresh opportunity!

We learned that back in grade school, right?–when summer vacation meant breaking with routine and discovering new friends and exploring new places and finding new pursuits. Our hopes and expectations might not have always been fulfilled, but there was a lot of adventure along the way!

I don’t know if fresh fruit is a symbol of this life and opportunity, or if it is the life and opportunity! Every time you turn around this time of year, there’s a new fruit available at the grocery or the farmer’s market or the roadside stand or (if you’re really lucky and the squirrels and the birds don’t get there first) in your garden or along the edges of the fields nearby. And each kind of fruit has countless possible uses–from rinse off and pop in your mouth to elaborate desserts or sauces. This Mixed Berry Cobbler lies on the easy and quick end of that long spectrum–just a couple bowls and a Mason jar and mix and put in the oven. Then feast on all that life and fresh opportunity an hour later!

Becca enjoys a similar summer feast of life and fresh opportunity in Birthday Dinner, Part X, except her feast comes in the form of people–charges new and old that she’s supposed to be helping but that are in fact helping her much more. Give it a listen or read while you enjoy your feast of summer life and fresh opportunity.

mixed berry cobbler

Mixed Berry Cobbler

1 mason jar (or two smaller ramekins) 

1 cup fresh mixed berries (I used blueberries and strawberries)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more to sprinkle on fruit

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the mason jar (or two ramekins) with cooking spray. Set aside.

Add the berries to a bowl and lightly mash with a potato masher. Sprinkle some granulated sugar over top and mix ingredients together. Set berries aside.


In another small mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar. Stir ingredients together. Add the melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until dry ingredients are incorporated.

mixed berry cobbler

Pour the batter into the prepared mason jar. Top with fruit. Be sure to leave at least 2 inches between the top of the jar and the fruit to allow for the cobbler batter to rise and expand. Place the jar on a cookie sheet and put in the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes (or 35-40 for two ramekins), or until the cobbler batter starts to turn a golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Top with more fresh fruit, sugar, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

mixed berry cobbler

{Adapted from Pint Sized Baker}

Birthday Dinner cover

Birthday Dinner, Part X, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Birthday Dinner, Part X, text © Jeffrey Anderson

To download the entire novel in the format of your choosing for $1.99, go to