Guest Author Tina Radcliffe!

Lets give a big Wildflower Junction Welcome to author Tina Radcliffe! Many of you already know her and her stories! They’ve won all sorts of hi-falutin’ awards. Most recently Claiming Her Cowboy was a finalist in the 2018 ACFW Carol Awards. She has always been one to “give a hand up” to others and was honored recently as the 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year. Tina is giving away two copies of her book, Christmas With the Cowboy to two lucky folk who comment!


Victorioan Christmas Card
Christmas Card Circa 1880 ~ Public Domain


Christmas in the 1800s wasn’t that much different from our celebrations today. But out West, it was most certainly simpler. Many prairie families couldn’t even fit a tree inside their small dwellings. Decorations were homemade and the presents beneath less fanciful and more practical. While cowboys on the trail didn’t have the luxury of a fireplace with stockings or a tree in the corner, caroling, and libations were still in order.

Researching this topic piqued my curiosity about the food prepared to celebrate the holiday season.

I’m all about the food!

According to Food Timeline’s review of the time period,Christmas menus reflect traditional foods of the celebrant’s original culture.” 

From “American System of Cookery,”by  Mrs. T. J. Crowen [T.J. Crowen:New York] 1847 

“To Arrange a Christmas Dinner. Place a high pyramid of evergreens (made as before directed) in the centre of the table. Let a roasted turkey of uncommon size occupy the middle or centre of one side of the table, on one end let there be a cold boiled ham, and at the other, fricasseed chicken or a roast pig; with the turkey serve mashed potatoes and turnips, boiled onions and dressed celery, or other salad with apple sauce–near the ham place fried or mashed potatoes and pickles or mangoes: and with the pig or fricassee, the same as with the turkey; large pitchers of sweet cider (or where that is not desired, ice water) should be placed diagonally opposite each other, on two corners of the table; boiled turkey with oyster sauce may occupy the place of the fricassee, or instead, a fine oyster pie. For dessert, there should be only two very large and ornamental mince pies, one sufficiently large that each of the company may be helped from it, in token of common interest, is desirable. Ice creams and jellies and jams and ripe fruits and nuts, with sweet cider and syrup water of different sorts, or wines, complete the dessert. Biscuit and jelly sandwich may be served at dessert, or paste puffs and charlotte de russe or blancmange with strands of jelly.”

Charlotte de Russe?

Betty Crocker tells us that the Charlottes are molded desserts. “The mold is lined with cake and filled with fruit and custard or cream mixed with gelatin. Charlotte Russe, made with ladyfingers and rich Bavarian cream, is served with fruit sauce.”

And Blancmange?

“Blancmange is a sweet dessert commonly made with milk or cream and sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and often flavored with almonds. It is usually set in a mold and served cold. Although traditionally white, blancmanges are frequently given alternative colors.” Wikipedia

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Sounds a bit fancy for prairie homes and cowboys on the trail who made due with what they could obtain.
A perfect example would be Black Pudding and Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake.

Black Pudding

From Wink Crigler, owner of the X Diamond Ranch and curator of The Little House Museum in the White Mountains.

6 Eggs
1 Cup Sweet Milk
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Soda
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Molasses

Mix well.  Pour into 1-pound can and steam for 2 to 3 hours by placing in a kettle of boiling water. Keep covered.
This is to be served with a vinegar sauce:

1 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp.  Butter
1 Tbsp. Flour
2 Tbsp. Vinegar
½ Tsp Nutmeg

Put in enough boiling water for the amount of sauce wanted.
Add two slightly beaten eggs and cook stirring constantly to the desired consistency.


Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake

 Adapted from the Homesteading Handbook

Boil a cup of brown sugar in a cup of cold water with 1 and 1/2 cup raisins.
Add a teaspoon each of salt and cloves, and cinnamon.
Also, add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/3 cup of shortening.
Boil for 3 minutes and let cool.

Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in 5 teaspoons of hot water, add 2 cups of flour, and half a teaspoon baking powder. Add the baking soda mix with the first mixture.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 F.

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This talk of food circles back to my holiday release, Christmas with the Cowboy
and the favorite food in the story, made by the heroine, Emma Maxwell Norman.

Emma’s Chocolate Muffins


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1?2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1?4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1?2 cup butter, melted
1?2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cup cupcake tin or use liners.
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda in a large bowl, mix together.
Add eggs, milk, chips and melted butter. Stir until well blended. Spoon into muffin tins.
Bake 18-20 minutes.

Dust with powdered sugar or sprinkle with extra mini chips (optional).

Adapted from Genius Kitchen.

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Now that I’ve made you hungry, leave a comment or even a recipe sharing about your own historic family recipes. Two commenters will be drawn for a print (or ecopy for international winners) of Christmas with the Cowboy.


Merry Early Christmas to you the Fillies and you readers!


Home for the holidays

A second chance at love on Big Heart Ranch


Former navy SEAL Zach Norman has been avoiding his ranching roots—and the woman he couldn’t have. Back to visit his brother’s widow, Emma Maxwell Norman, and her adorable toddler twins, the bah-humbug cowboy is roped into helping prepare the ranch for the holidays. Working side by side, can Emma and Zach overcome their troubled past…and receive the greatest Christmas gift of all—love?



Connect with Tina

Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Webpage 

A freelance writer for over twenty years, Tina Radcliffe is an RWA Honor Roll member, a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, and three-time ACFW Carol Award nominee.  She is a 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year recipient and a 2018 Carol Award finalist. Her 10th book for Harlequin released in October 2018.  In addition to novel-length fiction, Tina has sold over two dozen short stories to Woman’s World Magazine. A former library cataloger, Tina is a frequent presenter on writing topics and an online instructor. She currently resides in Arizona, where she writes fun, heartwarming romance.


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50 thoughts on “Guest Author Tina Radcliffe!”

  1. Good morning Tina, welcome to P & P. Loved your blog. Yes, now I’m hungry too, thanks for the recipes.

  2. Hi Tina, A very interesting post and now I’m ready to eat Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂 One dish through the years that my family always said wouldn’t be Thanksgiving or Christmas without it. Simply mash potatoes and turnips and mix together. I know the Scots have a name for it but I forget it at the moment. A side dish I grew up with and then my family. But so darn good with gravy 🙂

  3. Carol, do you know I have never had mashed turnips. I must rectify this. How do turnips taste when boiled?

    And thanks for stopping by. Not sure if you are early or late! I am Pacific time here in AZ. Just going to sleep. Will be back in the am.

  4. Hi Tina! Thanks for your blog. Carol L. brought up some fond memories with her post. When I lived in Scotland some folks called potatoes, turnips and carrots mashed together clapshot, but more often than not we just had what they called tatties and neeps. Oh, the Scots love their turnips, and of course being a cooler climate turnips, tatties, carrots and peas are what are easiest to grow there or to get fresh. My last big fall harvest meal there included neeps and tatties from the cold storage cellar. And I ate more peas while in the UK than I think I ever have the rest of my life at home.

  5. Eliza! All you Scottish peeps. I think I need to visit. I love that. Tatties and neeps.

    I’m Italian. We ate a lot of pasta growing up, even on Thanksgiving and Christmas. They served it right along with the turkey.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Thank you for sharing your very interesting post, Tina. And thank you for the recipes! You definitely made my mouth water!!

  7. I am so glad that I found this website! Not only did I find some absolutely must-try recipes for the holidays (which was totally unexpected!), but I found gift ideas in the books featured. I am really looking forward to starting a new series! I live in KS and was looking for information relating to local historical sites with Civil War-era significance,but I found so much more than what I initially searched for! The books sound wonderful and I am so happy to have found this genre. I am still gobsmacked that I had no idea they existed! I think that I have found my new favorite website (and book series) to while away the hours this winter – and we’re being told that snow’s a coming on Monday, according to local forecasters. I truly am excited to have found this community! I’m disabled and do most of my travelling “virtually”, so expect to see me wandering around here a lot! Again, your books sound wonderful, and I look forward to starting to read them shortly, and thank you for the holiday menu ideas as well. Thanks so much and take care – Cheri

  8. Tina, started your new book this week and am enjoying it.
    I still use my mother’s recipe for molasses crinkle cookies. I have her recipe for rolled sugar cookies, but could never make it come out the way she did.
    I’m part French-Canadian and one of our traditions is the pork pie, which is ground pork and ground beef mixed with mashed potatoes, seasoned and baked in a piecrust. It’s delicious but very rich. I usually limit myself to one slice and have a green salad on the side. My family serves this at Christmas and New Year’s, but it’s good year-round, even cold.
    Good to hear from you Tina.
    Kathy Bailey

    • I have had molasses crinkle cookies and rolled sugar cookies, but have not made them. Now pork pie is a new one on me. Have you met Josee Telfer? She’s French Canadian too. Thanks for picking up my book you Genesis winner you! And thank you for the lovely card and tea bag.

  9. Love the cover, almost as yummy as Emma’s Muffins. So glad I don’t have to pick. I already had a copy of this delicious book.

  10. Oooh, new recipes to try! My grandma always made oyster stew on Christmas Eve, and we continue the tradition of having a simple soup supper on the night before Christmas each year. Looking forward to reading your upcoming book!

  11. Hi Tina. That was a fancy Christmas dinner that you shared and I loved the description of how to arrange the food on the table. I must admit that we still fill our tables full at both Christmas and Thanksgiving. My mom always made Blackberry Jam cakes during the Christmas season and they were from scratch! She passed away in February 2017 and last Christmas I made two jam cakes. I couldn’t find her recipe but I managed to make cakes that were ALMOST as good as hers!

    • Connie, so sorry for your loss. You know my dad is 86. I had to follow him around to get some of his recipes because of course, he has no recipe. Those are the best kind. Jam cakes sound wonderful.

      I know you have my Christmas book and I hope you are enjoying.

  12. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Tina! It is so great to have you here! Your book sounds like a delightful story! I am hungry now and my mouth is salivating after reading these recipes for all these yummy treats!

  13. My mom loves making a cake similar to the Eggless, Butterless, Milkless Cake… has a handwritten recipe from my grandmother!

  14. Hi! Christmas was great food at our house. Candied sweet potatoes, a huge baked fresh ham with cloves, pineapple rings and cherries basted with brown sugar and honey, yeast rolls and real butter, corn on the cob, English pea salad, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, whipped cream with fruit cocktail, fresh fruit salad and pies, lots of pies.

  15. Hi Tina! That holiday dinner reminds me of meals late mother used to prepare for the holidays — several meats (ham in case someone didn’t want turkey, chicken in case someone didn’t want ham …), at least one kind of fish, lots of veggies (usually from her garden), and then at least three desserts. Need I add she was Sicilian? 🙂

    Several years ago my group agreed that we were tired of the standard holiday fare at Christmas. So we had Southwestern for Christmas – tamales, nopalitos, guacamole, tacos, all kinds of good fixings. It was such a hit, we’ve done it every Christmas since. A few years ago we bought frozen prepared Greek food at a festival and had that for Thanksgiving. it was delcious, so we try to get to the Greek festival each year, buy the frozen food, and use it for Thanksgiving. I guess for us it’s as much about the group getting together as it is the food, in a way.

    Totally loved “Christmas With the Cowboy!” There are so many wonderful, interesting characters on that ranch, and they feel like friends I’ve known for a while. Eager for the next story in the series 🙂 In the meantime, I plan to try Emma’s recipe.


  16. Aw, Nancy, thank you.

    I always thought it was odd that we were the only family on the block with eggplant parm with our turkey dinner. But now I recall it fondly. And on Christmas Eve we had seafood. Squid too. EWWW.

  17. Hello Tina! Thank you for this delicious post! Our Christmas dinner included ham, green bean casserole and yams with pecan topping.

  18. Norwegian cookie called krumkaker rolls in the shape of a sugar cone uses a special iron on the stove. Can fill them with whatever you like. My grandmother made them every Christmas.

  19. Thank so much for the recipes. If I ever get time, I may try all three. Black Pudding sounds like an interesting custard. I love molasses and the flavor it imparts. The Butterless, Eggless, Milkless Cake sounds like a simple version of a fruitcake. Since I am likely one of the few people who will admit to liking fruitcake, I will be trying this one. Chocolate muffins will be a hit for my daughter and granddaughter.
    My mom made a nice cake roll at Christmas. It was plain and simple but I haven’t been able to get the recipe. My mother died of cancer when she was just 47. When my father remarried a year or so later, we acquired the evil step-mother. I was not living anywhere near them and neither I nor my sister had gotten the recipe from my mom. The step-mother threw out all my mom’s recipes and most of her things. I asked relatives ad got versions of it, but have never been able to duplicate it. It was a plain yellow cake, with rows of cherries, walnuts, and dates placed in rows baked, cooled a bit, then rolled. No filling or frosting, just a dusting of powdered sugar. It is simple and not too sweet. No matter how I try, it never turns out like her’s did. I guess it needs her special touch.
    The Christmas dinner described in Mrs. T. J. Crowen’s book is really a bit over the top. Does it say anywhere how many people it is supposed to serve? I prefer fewer choices so I can savor the dishes properly. Thank you for an enlightening post.

    • Oh, DENISE!!! I have a secret about a red velvet recipe. My hero mentions it in the last book of the series that comes out in February. I’ll be blogging here in March and we will have to discuss then.

  20. A couple of my favorite desserts for Christmas are Pecan pie and pound cake. Both with basic ingredients and easy to mix up. Now I’m in the baking mood! ?

  21. I don’t know of any recipes from my family. They had all passed away by the time I was born. My mom has a recipe box full of recipes but usually she cooks without the use of recipe cards. All by memory. I love her Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake although I’ve never tried making it myself. Thank you for sharing your wonderful post and recipes.

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