A new recipe for romance!

A new recipe for romance!

The Spice Aisle has joined forces with Philly Loves Romance to bring your more behind-the-scenes content and author/reader events. Soon, you’ll be able to interact with some of your favourite authors and meet some new faves! Thank you for supporting the Spice Aisle these last two years. We hope you’ll continue the journey with us!

For now, join us at the Philly Loves Romance Facebook page.

The Basics of Plating – Ways to Present Food Like a Chef

The Basics of Plating – Ways to Present Food Like a Chef

A little-known fact about my husband, he’s a trained Chef. In his previous life, he worked under a famous Chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City. Needless to say, he’s the cook in our family.

One of the things I admire and have taking notes on is how meticulous he is about presentation. His motto, part of serving great food is presentation: like the antipasto pictured below, it should appeal to your mouth, nose and eyes. Don’t they deserve a feast, too?

You don’t have to be a trained chef to learn the basics of plating, which is the art of presenting food in an attractive way. Don’t worry, it’s not about making butter sculptures or radish animals, at least not for me. Here are a few simple ways I’ve learned from my husband on how to present your meals like a pro.

  1. Set the table. This is one of the boys’ daily tasks.  We’re a casual family so we try to keep things minimal.

  1. Choose your plates wisely. Make sure your serving plates are big enough to let each food item stand out, but small enough that the portions don’t look tiny.

  1. Read the clock!A foolproof way to arrange food on a plate is to place the carbohydrate (rice, pasta, bread, etc.) at “11 o’clock,” the vegetables at “2 o’clock,” and the protein at “6 o’clock” from the diner’s point of view.

  1. Be odd. Don’t be strange, but things generally look more interesting when they’re in sets of odd numbers, rather than even numbers. So, if you’re serving shrimp or stuffed mushrooms, put five on each plate, rather than six. Don’t worry about counting out peas though.
  2. Play with Height.This Chicken Stir Fry with Broccoli looks more interesting because of the high mound of rice sitting next to it.            


Remember, yours eyes, should enjoy the meal as much as your tongue.




Just a Taste… of Coming Down

Just a Taste… of Coming Down


The campus is dark and mostly deserted. People are either home, in halls, or cozied up in one of the many bars dotted around the university. We pass the occasional runner and a few groups of students walking home from the pub, but for the most part it’s just the two of us.

We keep stopping to kiss and touch, which turns the ten-minute walk to the art building into a twenty minute one. My head is still buzzing, but the tab of ecstasy we shared before leaving my room is washing away the worst of my hangover, blanketing me with a sense of sweet euphoria. Whenever he touches my chest it makes me giggle.

When we finally reach the building it’s all too easy to break in. He jimmies up a sash window with a metal rod, then pushes it up until we can climb inside. My feet land on the classroom floor, and my heart races, pounding against my ribcage like it’s trying to escape. Suddenly the lyrics from Bat out of Hell start coming out of my mouth, and Niall muffles them with his palm, hushing me as he leads me toward the studios.

“But it’s Meatloaf,” I try to tell him. “Did you know he changed his name by deed poll? Imagine having to sign your cheques Mr Loaf. He must get really funny looks when he does the weekly shopping.”

“You weren’t this chatty an hour ago.”

I hadn’t taken ecstasy an hour ago, either. Now I want to tell him everything. There’s so much in my brain that’s itching to get out, I barely even know where to start.

This time, he muffles my words with his mouth. Hard, rough kisses that send my pulse soaring. He cups the back of my head with his hand and presses the other against my bum. His tongue is soft, though, almost gentle compared with the rest of him. I let him stroke it against my own.

“You need to be quiet while I paint you, okay?” he says after I break free to take in some air. His words are punctuated by soft pants.

“I don’t know if I can.”

“At least try and lie still. I can’t do the first sketch if you keep moving and speaking.” He kisses me again, and this time I feel his hardness digging into my hip. “We should never have taken that bloody E.”

“It feels good, though.”

Niall pushes me against a table and it rocks precariously against the tiled floor. There’s a crash as a pile of books fall to the ground. He laughs and pushes me again, this time until I’m sitting on the edge, my legs wrapped around his hips. He grinds into me, kissing me feverishly until we fall back onto the scratched wooden table top.

“I thought you were going to paint me,” I say.

He pulls my t-shirt up over my head. “Later.”


Coming Down is available FREE TO DOWNLOAD from the following stores:


Carrie Pink

Labor-intensive Dessert for Labor Day

Labor-intensive Dessert for Labor Day


I love watermelon. And I’ve volunteered to bring one to a Labor Day picnic. But I can’t show up with one as-is. No, it needs to be impressive. And so I ask you, Spice Aisle readers, to help me decide…


Do I make a dolphin fruit party?



Do a fish filled with fruit?


Go for the top of the ocean food chain, and create a shark?



Maybe something sharp?



Something slow-moving?



Or something stunningly feathered?



Or is there something else I should sculpt? Let me know your favorite!

I’ve never attempted to carve anything other than a pumpkin before, so tips and tricks are appreciated.

And so, if all else fails, here’s my back-up plan:




Happy Labor Day!!


The Best Show You’ve Never Seen

The Best Show You’ve Never Seen

by Xio Axelrod

My love of genre television is not a secret, though love may be too weak a word. I could live off of genre TV alone (well, and romance novels/audiobooks, and maybe water and popcorn.)

My problem, as a writer, is that we’re living in a golden age of television. There are so many good shows on right now, it’s hard for me to keep up with them. Especially if I intend to actually get any writing done.

That said, my DVR and I have a solid relationship. And thank goodness for Netflix! One show I want to turn you onto is A&E’s Damien, starring Bradley James. [Read more…]

Going the Distance

Going the Distance

by Xio Axelrod

Next month, I’ll hit the road for the first time this year. And what a doozy of a trip it will be.

The Strip at night, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America - getty creative

First up, Las Vegas where I’ll join some of my fellow Spice Aislers at the annual RT Booklovers Convention. It will also be a research trip for me, as I start preliminary work on a new series. I’ve been to Vegas a number of times and every time is different. Not only because there seems to be a new hotel, restaurant, or hot spot for me to try, but because each visit has been for different reasons. The last time, I was there for a mini-writing retreat after the 2014 RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference. And I got my first tattoo.

Guess not everything that happens in Vegas… [Read more…]

Small Change That Changes Lives

Small Change That Changes Lives

by Xio Axelrod

‘Tis the season of giving, but also the season of big spending. And we’re spending more every year. Black Friday, once an American phenomenon, has spread around the globe prompting sales and discounts on everything from 4K televisions to stuffed toys to luxury cars. This year, an estimated $1 billion dollars was spent online on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving! We seem to be in a rush to spend more, faster.

Mr. X and I enjoy our gadgets. We both enjoy wine and Scotch. Both love books (naturally) and our Kindles are always full. But come the holiday season, we’ve often found ourselves in competition with one another to spend more. Get the biggest gift. The biggest “oh, babe, you shouldn’t have” response. It was cute, for a time. And then it became…embarrassing. Big gifts sat in the basement, unused, until we either sold them or gave them away.

It really bothered me, the excess. And it bothered him too, so we stopped. We still exchange gifts – great gifts! – but we make sure they’re actually things we want and/or need. A new teapot, tickets to a sold out show, Russian candy. Things that mean something.

Around the time we made the decision to shop smart for the holidays, we redirected that energy into helping others.

[Read more…]

Creating a soundtrack…for a book?

Creating a soundtrack…for a book?

by Xio Axelrod

Forget Tomorrow features an embedded soundtrackA soundtrack for a book? It’s not really a new thing, but it isn’t done often. It seems like we may be seeing it more and more, though. Pintip Dunn’s debut release Forget Tomorrow was released with embedded audio. (Gorgeous stuff!) And Stephen King has been known to add music to his books from time to time. [Read more…]

The Truth Is Still Out There

The Truth Is Still Out There

by Xio Axelrod

If you need anything from me during the 4th weekend in January, I suggest you let me know now. That way, I can get it to you ahead of time. On Sunday, the 24th of that month, I will be completely unavailable – inaccessible, unreachable – between the hours of 7 and 10 P.M. Certainly that whole weekend, and the week leading up to it. Okay, who am I kidding? It’ll be hard to get me to focus for about six weeks. Why? The X-Files are coming back.

Guys! GUYS! I’m grinning too!

[Read more…]

I’ve got a case of the ‘M’s

I’ve got a case of the ‘M’s

by Xio Axelrod

Hey folks! Does that title have you scratching your head? Let me ‘splainy.

Ever pull up a Pandora station, or set your iTunes/Amazon Music/etc to shuffle, and notice that there’s pattern to the music that they play? It’s random, of course, but it still seems to mean something.

sherlock universe
[Read more…]