In “Where There’s Smoke” a novella in the Wrong Bed Christmas book, my two characters Emma and Erik are stuck in an abandoned cabin with only a couple of granola bars, a box of expensive chocolates and a very nice bottle of wine. Not the worst to make a meal on, but if I were planning the perfect meal for being stranded with a sexy firefighter in the middle of Colorado, I’d go with something that would give me more energy for the night ahead ;) Here’s the perfect rustic yet filling dish would appeal to any red-blooded American man (who wasn’t a vegetarian):
Seduce Me Beef Stew*
1 lb of lean good quality stew meat
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp oil
2 onions (sliced into thin rings)
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp tomato paste
2 cups of beef broth
3 cups sliced carrots
2 medium potatoes, sliced
1 cup green beans
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cold water
Coat beef with flour, shaking off excess. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil. Add beef and cook about 5-7 minutes until slightly browned.
Remove beef to a separate plate.
Add onions and mushrooms to the pot; saute for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so. Return beef to the pot and stir in tomato paste. Next add broth and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for an hour.
Add carrots, potatoes and green beans. Cover partially and cook for 15-20 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch. Stir into stew and increase heat to a boil. Turn off and let cool slightly. Serve with cornbread or crusty French bread.
*Derived from Healthy Meals in Minutes
Excerpt from “Where There’s Smoke”
The crackle of the lit fire drew her attention and instantly made the space cozy and—she licked her lips—intimate.
“Ah,” Erik said, stripping off his gloves and warming his hands in front of the blaze. “Good thing this wood is aged and dry. Instant warmth. Come on over and warm up.”
Emma hesitated for a moment, trying to regain a calm, less amorous demeanor. So they were alone in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with a bottle of wine, chocolate and a single double bed? Big deal. She could handle it. After all, she’d never allowed her attraction for him to show through.
She walked over and crouched beside him, sighing at the warmth. Exploring the cabin had kept her moving, but her fingers and feet were numb.
“Here,” he said, grabbing the nearest chair and dragging it close to the dancing flames. “Sit.”
Seconds later they each sat in matching chairs, thawing out.
“I can’t believe we’re stuck here,” she mused aloud, the warmth making her drowsy. She suppressed a yawn. “This is like a movie I once saw.”
“Misery?” he joked.
Emma laughed. “Are you planning on drugging me, incapacitating me and making me write you a romance story?”
He wiggled his eyebrows. “That could be fun. But I could think of better things to do.”