My Falcon Football series has been described as FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS meets SWEET HOME ALABAMA. And, I have to agree! Football plays a part, but even more it's about life and love (and food!) in a small Southern town. As Alec, my hero in Book 3, MELTING INTO YOU, thinks "Old lessons from his mother surfaced. In the south, births, deaths, thank yous, and apologies all involved food."
For the past weeks I've featured recipes from the FALCON FOOTBALL series, Ada's Banana Pudding, Darcy's Chicken and Dumplings and Logan's Skillet Blackberry Cobbler. This week is everyone's favorite comfort food with a twist... Logan's Bacon-Basil Mac and Cheese. I think we can all agree bacon makes everything better. Along with the recipe, stay to enjoy a snippet from CAUGHT UP IN THE TOUCH.
SLOW AND STEADY RUSH is a RT Book Reviews TOP PICK!!
"....marvelously funny, engaging, and memorable in a place where everyone knows your name."
"Laura Trentham writes an intricately woven story that throbs with rich emotion. I laughed, I cried, I loved Slow and Steady Rush!"
Bestselling Author of the Sweet, Texas Series
"The instant chemistry and dynamic give-and-take...Trentham pulls the various elements together in time to deliver a sweet, satisfying story."
Note: Logan sometimes goes crazy and uses cavatelli pasta.
8 oz. (½ pound or about 1 ¾ cups) macaroni
3 tbsp butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp pepper
2 ½ cup milk
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3-4 slices bacon
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Boil the pasta until al dente.
- Cook bacon, crumble.
- In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add flour, salt, dry mustard, and pepper. Whisk constantly for three minutes forming a roux.
- Add the milk in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add 2 cups of the cheese, stirring until melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta. Add crumbled bacon and toss.
- Add half the pasta to a two-quart casserole dish Sprinkle on half of remaining cheese. Add the rest of the pasta. Sprinkle on basil and the rest of the cheese.
- Bake for 25 minutes, until the mac and cheese starts getting a brown on top.
“Sorry, ma’am. Didn’t mean to startle you. Are you having problems?” Mountain Man rested his forearms over the top of her door. His wrists were thick, his hands huge. The black under his fingernails was a workingman’s polish, and fresh red scratches zagged over the back of his hands. As he repositioned the frayed blue and white baseball cap shadowing his eyes, the muscles along his forearm jumped. Dark brown hair flipped into almost curls around the edges.
The sunlight emphasized the thinness of his cotton shirt, one shoulder seam pulling apart across the broad expanse of his torso. His masculinity wove around her, at once disconcerting, yet easing her illogical, escalating panic.
“My car won’t start.” God, she hated the little-girl, tinny sound of her voice. She cleared her throat and tried again, forcing a practiced steel into her words. “It’s been acting funny since I hit Birmingham.”
Mountain Man assessed the parking space she’d pulled out of and pushed the brim of his hat up a couple of inches with his forefinger. He squatted, and she slid out of the car to watch. He swiped his fingers through a puddle on the blacktop and rubbed. Then he smelled his fingers. He turned toward her, still in a squat. “Looks like a coolant leak. Your AC been working?”
“Not well. And, my temperature gauge flashed red just before the engine died.”
“Pop the hood, and let me take a gander.”
She pulled the lever on the dashboard and joined him at the front of the car “Are you a mechanic?”
“I’m a handyman, remember?” Again, he graced her with a panty-melting grin before leaning over the engine compartment to jiggle hoses.
His scent filtered through the humidity to her. Not the stench of unwashed male she expected. Underlying the clean sweat and grease was a mystery that hooked her closer, until she was leaning over the hood too, close to his shoulder. The one with the ripping seam. She swallowed, her throat stiff as if a noose had tightened. Usually, panic accompanied the feeling, but not this time. This time a covey of birds beat their wings in her stomach.
He turned toward her, one hand on the edge of her raised hood. His eyes were brown, but not a plain brown or even a deep, intensive one, but an electric brown with sparks of gold. They danced over her face. His voice came out gruff, almost a whisper. “I understand your problem.”
She massaged the taut cords of her neck. For a heartbeat, she wondered if he referred to her or her car. Hope lilted her question. “You do?”
“Yep. One of your hoses is cracked. Probably due to the heat.”
She swayed on her heels and dropped her face, pretending to study the hulk of metal and plastic under her hood. No matter her degrees and successes, sometimes she was a complete and total idiot. Like now. This redneck mountain man could never understand her. Her hair swished forward, strands sticking to her cheeks, hiding her face. “Can you fix it?”
He left her standing over the puzzle of her engine. He hadn’t even offered to call a tow truck. She felt oddly abandoned.
He stopped at an old blue and white Ford pickup parked in the shadow of a huge oak tree. Instead of climbing in and driving off with a grin and a wave, he flipped open a white, metal utility box in the truck bed. Clanging metal accompanied his search. He made a satisfied exclamation before trotting back toward her. “Duct tape. I always keep a roll handy. You mind hanging on to my hat?”
Without giving her a chance to answer, he pushed the ball cap into her hands, dropped to lay on the ground, and scooched under her car. With his knees bent, his legs stuck out from under the bumper.
An embroidered flying falcon on the side of his cap had lost half of its thread, and she picked at the fraying brim. She shuffled her feet apart and flapped her blouse to catch the slight breeze ruffling her hair. The occasional rip of tape punctuated the unidentifiable song he hummed.
His shimmy reversed itself, and he emerged with new brown stains on the front of his shirt and a glossy smear along his cheekbone. He rubbed his fingers along the edge of his shirt dirtying it further, and ran the back of his wrist over his forehead, wiping away a rivulet of sweat.
“You’ve got some grease on your cheek.” She pointed like a three-year-old.
He brought the edge of his T-shirt to his face and scrubbed it clean. At least she assumed that’s what he was doing, because she couldn’t tear her gaze away from his torso.
Michael, the boyfriend she’d broken up with six months earlier, had kept his chest waxed to show off the contours he worked hard for in the gym. Mountain Man did not wax. Curly brownish hair trailed from his partially revealed pecs straight into the waistband of the gray boxer briefs peeking out of his jeans. And, for all the time her ex-boyfriend had put in at the gym, he had never built the solid, thick muscles of the man standing close enough to touch.
Mountain Man didn’t lift weights for an hour then push papers around a desk for the rest of the day. Maybe he chopped wood or moved bales of hay or broke horses. She’d watched a documentary on real-life working cowboys one sleepless night and had unusually erotic-laced dreams when she’d finally drifted off.