December Recipes – Chicken Vol-au-Vents

by Jacquie Underdown

This is an incredibly decadent recipe of rich, creamy, cheesy goodness, so it is best to eat on special occasions only. My mother-in-law hauled this recipe through from the days of fat and flavour as a reminder of how good food can be, and makes it every Christmas.

Chicken vol-au-vents can be made in advance and re-heated on Christmas day, so you’re not spending all day in the kitchen. For someone like me, who also has their birthday on Christmas Day, this recipe is perfect.


  • 2 large chicken breasts, whole
  • 20 palm-sized vol-au-vent cases
  • 1L water
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 3 stalks of spring onions, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp. cornflour
  • 500 g of grated tasty cheddar cheese
  • 500 mL of thickened cream (do not use low fat, it will split. Trust me, I’ve tried repetitively.)
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. seeded mustard


Add chicken in a medium sized pot and fill with water until the chicken breasts are covered. Throw in chicken stock cubes, place pot onto heat on a stovetop and simmer until the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Take the chicken out of the pot and place on a chopping board. Tip out half the cooking liquid into a mug and reserve for later.

Place the remainder of liquid still in the pot back on to a low heat. Add spring onions and mushrooms to the liquid, followed by the mustards. Stir until combined.

Combine half a cup of cream with the cornflour and stir. Add this mixture and the remainder of the cream into the pot and stir until thickened.

Add the cheese and stir over low heat until the cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, chop the chicken into 2 – 3 centimetre sized cubes and add to the creamy, cheesy mixture. Stir to combine.

Check the mixture for taste and consistency here. If the mixture needs more mustard, add it. If it needs more liquid, add some of the reserved stock liquid. If it needs more cornflour, add some more. If it needs seasoning, add pepper and salt.

Lay vol-au-vent cases on to baking trays. Spoon in chicken mixture until filled to the top. Place into the oven for 20 minutes at 160 C (or if reheating from cold, until heated all the way through).



A story about starting fresh, letting go, and risking it all for love…


Feed Your Reader – Rock ‘N’ Roll All Night

Spend the night with a rock god – or six…

25823 (1)

From Australia to the world…

Chicago. The last stop of their wildly successful US tour sees Australia’s biggest rock band The Screaming Tuesdays in sultry, summertime Chicago to play two sold-out shows. But the stage is not where the action is, and no one knows what goes on behind the scenes…


KM Golland
Eden Summers
Lexxie Couper
Zaide Bishop
Shona Husk
Rhian Cahill

Reality in romance: stories tackling the tough issues

If you’re a hard core reader of romance, you’ll be aware that between the pages of a romance book you can find any and every issue, even the toughest and seemingly untouchable topics.

And I’m not talking about possible sexual scenarios with an octo-tentacled mutant.

Or even how to tell your brother you’re expecting his best friend’s baby.

I hate to bring the mood down, but romance and reality can and does blend. And yes, even with something as topical as domestic violence.

But romance books are for entertainment, I hear you say. I want to be distracted from real life, not dragged into it.

And I agree whole-heartedly. But it doesn’t mean a romance story can’t tackle the tough issues and still provide a sexy, sassy, rip-roaring read.

When I started to write Pieces of Me back in July 2014, domestic violence awareness was gathering force, unfortunately because of the horrendous number of shocking deaths suffered by women and children at the hands of their current partner, ex-partner, or parent. (I ask that you take the time to look at Rose Batty’s – 2015 Australian of the Year – foundation and personal story here: ).

As a woman, wife, sister, aunt, daughter, and mother of two boys, each time I think about the prolificacy of domestic violence in Australia, I feel a sickening knot in my belly. Domestic violence is a confronting topic, and may not be, on the surface, something expected to be found in a romance novel. But with the right approach and delicacy from the author, it can be.

In addition to providing an entertaining read, my intention with Pieces of Me is to increase domestic violence awareness, particularly within our upcoming generation of young women (18-25) who may unwittingly find themselves in that situation. And, also, show the effects on children who have grown up witnessing domestic violence in their household. I attempt to dispel some of the unjust stereotypes many of us hold about the victims. And highlight how, with the right support and opportunity, a victim can safely extricate themselves from their abuser and, in time, heal.

Pieces of Me was written to inspire HOPE by showing the happy ending we could achieve. The story is a tribute to the STRENGTH of will women have to survive, heal, and emotionally grow after experiencing horrendous adversity. And of course, between the e-pages, there’s loads of sizzling, explosive LOVE, because that’s what we read romance for, right?



A story about starting fresh, letting go, and risking it all for love…

For Hannah, Mercy Island is a refuge, a new beginning, and a place to find safety in her own skin. Here, in this peaceful, beachside place, she will rediscover all those pieces of herself her abusive ex stole away.  For Bear, Mercy Island is a prison, a backwater, a place he can’t wait to escape. Away, in the city, he’ll chase his dreams and lose the bad memories haunting him.

When Hannah’s home is damaged in an ugly storm, Bear offers his handyman services to repair it—a last job and a pretty girl to pass the time before he heads out. But Hannah is terrified to lose herself in another relationship, and Bear isn’t in it for the long haul.

However, their simmering sexual attraction refuses to be ignored, and just because love isn’t on the line doesn’t mean sex isn’t on the table. A no-strings-attached brief fling to curb the tension and take the edge off. No ties. No emotions. No pain.

But love has a way of coming in the windows, even when you’ve slammed the door, if only Hannah and Bear can stop looking to the past and find hope in their future.

Hallowe’en Mini-Series: When I Fell In Love With Furry Supernatural Animals

By Suneeti Rekhari

Ah yes, Halloween, a time for sweet treats, latex monster masks, cats dressed as witches…


And vampire bunnies.

None are more endearing than Bunnicula, A carrot-juice sucking, red-eyed, furry beast.


Born in 1979 (same year that I was) out of James Howe’s imagination, I blame Bunnicula for my love of all things supernatural.

But vampire bunnies don’t get to have all the fun. If you’re on team Jacob rather than team Edward, you might prefer a cursed were-rabbit. A full-moon-transforming, carrot-chomping catastrophe.


Whatever your preferred creature of the night (and let’s face it, there are plenty to choose from), have a happy Halloween!

Recommended pick-up line: carrot juice is good for my furrrrrrr. 

Suneeti Rekhari thinks everyone deserves a perfect match. Everyone. Which is why her debut novel is about a paranormal dating agency. 

23093A fresh, exciting, funny, fabulous take on New Adult Paranormal about an enterprising matchmaker…and her paranormal clientele.

She started out as just an ordinary university student, but the sudden and unexpected inheritance of an unused warehouse on the industrial side of town throws Shalini’s life plan askew.

Drawing from her strengths, she decides to set up a matchmaking business, helping the lonely to find a soulmate. But something unusual happens, something unexpected—her first client doesn’t fit the regular profile. Victor is dark, handsome, emotionally available…and a vampire.

Suddenly Shalini’s already disrupted world becomes a place where rules no longer apply. She must learn to adapt to her new occupation of finding The One for a prospective clientele of vampires, shape-shifters, and other beings more likely to bite first and ask questions later. And there are those out there who are less than happy with her entrepreneurial spirit.

But just as Shalini begins to think she can cope with anything, she discovers that she has bitten off more than she can chew, and played with powerful forces that have the potential to not only destroy the Lost Souls Dating Agency—but Shalini herself.

Hallowe’en Mini-Series: When I Fell In Love With Myth

By Jenny Brigalow

Look Between The Lines

My Dears,

It is time to talk. Be seated. Fill your glass with rich red wine. Caste away your cares, settle down to listen.

There have always been the Children. I know, fore I walked with them through the Mist. My mother, and her father, and his father before him walked with them too. We were the keepers of the secrets and the tellers of the tales. Many names we have had, bard and jester, mage and madman.

Times change and those that walk this world must adapt or perish. The Children flourished. Until one day a new force arose. A magic of great might that threatened to extinguish the Olde. But the Children are nothing if not resourceful. They came to me and begged me to write their story into the realms of myth.

Hide us, they said, between the lines of a book. They made me an offer I could not refuse. Do this, they said, and you will be rich beyond measure and will live forever in the hearts and minds of mortals. Well, I ask you, what writer could resist? And so I did. That which was once a fact has become a fiction.

One such tale you will know well. The Count that was Dracula. Ring a bell? A monster. A sucker of blood. A stealer of souls. The stuff of nightmares.


Ew, you cry, but he’s so ugly! I chuckle. After all, my dears, the public gets what the public wants. “But that’s so old fashioned”, I hear you cry. And that, I would reply, is my point. This gothic tale was simply the seed. I sit back and watch the forest grow.

And such fine saplings shoot up. Such beautiful “paranormal” people. Subtle, sinuous and shapely. No longer the monster, but tortured souls, torn by inner tension. You sigh. Your pulse beats a wild tattoo against your breast bone. You know what I mean. You should. They are your creation. A product of your darkest dreams and desires.


So, next time you encounter a stranger with an acre of chest and cheek bones to die for, take a moment. Ask yourself, is he man? Is he a myth? Or is he something else entirely?

Of course, there’s only one way to find out. Are you game?

But the night grows old and so I bid you a fond farewell. But we will meet again – between the lines.

Yours truly,

The Mythmaker

Jenny Brigalow mixes myth, magic, monsters and men in her YA/NA series, Children of the Mist.
19229An original paranormal YA about an unconventional girl, an unconventional boy, their extraordinary transformations, and the secrets of the Scottish Highlands.

When skater girl Morven Smith turns sixteen, she develops boobs, acute appendicitis…and a pair of pointy teeth. While she is stunned by her metamorphosis into vampire, her best mate, the enigmatic Zest, is not. For the young werewolf, Morven’s transformation is an answer to his lonely prayers.

But they are unable to celebrate their mutual paranormalcy for long — there are too many dangers, too much suspicion, and too many questions. It’s only in Scotland that Morven can learn the truth about her past. But she discovers more than she bargained for when she meets her birth family — an ancient feud between vampires and werewolves. They may both be Children of the Mist, but only one species can survive.

23523In Children of the Mist, we discovered the secret history of the Children. Now, in the wilds of Scotland, one of them has come of age…

Megan MacGregor has lived her life off the grid, in complete secrecy. Now she’s all grown up, and needs what every female werewolf before her has needed: a mate.

Tracking one down in the lonely wilds of Argyll will be no easy task,  but Megan is no ordinary woman. When she finds Sean Duncan, she’ll do anything to keep him. But Sean has secrets and a past of his own, and Megan might get more than she bargained for in a mate.