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Welcome to the

2021 Historical Author Holiday Cookie Hop!

Read below for a chance to win a $150 gift card to the online retailer of your choice, a separate opportunity to win two 3.5-inch cast iron skillets, a little background on the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa, and a fabulous (holiday) monster cookie recipe.

And . . . while you’re here, don’t forget to check out my upcoming release NEVER CROSS A HIGHLANDER and preorder a copy from your book retailer of choice!

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The Origins of Kwanzaa

When Celebrated: December 26 – January 1

By Whom: Many Blacks and African Americans in the United States

What Is It: Kwanzaa is an African-American celebration of life. The seven-day observance is a ritual to celebrate the first harvests to the home. Though the holiday period has similarities to the Yam Festival in Ghana and Nigeria, the celebration did not originate in Africa. Dr. Maulana Karenga introduced Kwanzaa, a Swahili (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) word meaning “first,” in 1966 as a response to what he deemed the extreme commercialization of Christmas. The celebration or festival centers around seven principles, each of which is separately celebrated each consecutive day of the festival. The Seven Principles (nguzo saba) utilize Swahili words and include:

  1. Umoja (unity),
  2. Kujichagulia (self-determination),
  3. Ujima (collective work and responsibility),
  4. Ujamaa (cooperative economics),
  5. Nia (purpose),
  6. Kuumba (creativity), and
  7. Imani (faith).

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding=”10px|0px|27px|0px” _builder_version=”3.0.87″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.87″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.87″]Like Hannakah, candles are used to represent concepts of the holiday, and placed in a seven-branched candleholder. For Kwanzaa this candleholder is known as a kinara, and each of the seven candles signify one of the Seven Principles. Five common sets of values are central to the activities of the week: ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment, and celebration. The symbols of Kwanzaa include:

  • crops (mzao), which represents the historical roots of African-Americans in agriculture and also the reward for collective labor,
  • the mat (mkeka), which lays the foundation for self- actualization,
  • the candle holder (kinara), which reminds participants in the ancestral origins in one of 55 African countries,
  • corn/maize (muhindi), which signifies children and the hope placed in the younger generation,
  • gifts (zawadi), which represent commitments of the parents for the children,
  • the unity cup (kkimbe cha umoja), which is used to pour libations to the ancestors, and
  • the seven candles (mishumaa saba), which remind participants of the principles and the colors in flags of African liberation movements > 3 red, 1 black, and 3 green.

Those who celebrate the holiday frequently greet one another with “Habari gani” which is Swahili for “How are you? / How’s the news with you?” Gifts are exchanged, and on December 31st, participants celebrate with a banquet of food, often cuisine from various African countries.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding=”10px|0px|0px|0px” _builder_version=”3.0.87″][et_pb_column type=”2_3″ _builder_version=”3.0.87″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image _builder_version=”3.0.87″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″ _builder_version=”3.0.87″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_image _builder_version=”3.0.87″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row custom_padding=”0px|0px|0px|0px” _builder_version=”3.0.87″][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.87″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.87″]


I love these cookies, which seem to throw in soooo many yummy ingredients! Many people make their monster cookies with candy-coated chocolate pieces (or M&Ms) as a standard ingredient. I do not. However, for specific holidays, one great way to turn them into Holiday Monster Cookies is to sprinkle candy pieces on top coordinated with the main colors representative of the particular holiday. So, for Christmas season (which we celebrate in my family), we like to add green and red M&Ms. 

This particular recipe does NOT use any flour. Don’t worry, though. The cookies still turn out crunchy on the edges and chewy in the middle.  The recipe is also VERY versatile. Add or delete mix-in ingredients to suit your taste. Also, if you don’t want to bother with making individual cookies, you can simply spread the dough in a baking pan and make cookie bars instead.

Wondering why they are called “Monster Cookies”? When I first encountered the recipe, I assumed it was because you added so many yummy mix-in ingredients. However, one baker told me her grandmother used to make them as huge, cover-your-palm size treats (thus, a monster of a cookie, so to speak). Yum! That explanation works for me, too . . . LOL!

You don’t have to make your cookies monster size, but if you choose to do so, one thing I like to do is bake some in individual-sized 3.5-inch cast iron skillets, let them cool just a bit, then serve them topped with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. Each family member gets to eat right out of their own cast iron cookie plate! My kids loved this, especially when they were younger!

Best of luck with the hop, and happy baking!

~ Lisa Rayne

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~ ~ Special Giveaway ~ ~

Win a pair of 3.5-inch cast iron skillets!

If you’d like a chance to win your own pair of 3.5-inch cast iron skillets, just sign up for my NEWSLETTER below, and you’ll be entered into my special drawing. You can receive a second entry into my special giveaway if you also follow me on INSTAGRAM here!

Sign me up!

* indicates required

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* 1 1/2 cups peanut butter (optional – use crunchy peanut butter for an extra crunchy treat)

* 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

* 3/4 cup Sugar

* 1/2 cup Butter softened

* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 3 large eggs

* 4 1/2 cups rolled oats

* 1 1/2 cups coconut, shredded

* 2 teaspoons baking soda

* 1/2 teaspoon Salt

* 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

* 1 cup red & green candy-coated chocolate pieces (optional – for a holiday twist)[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″ _builder_version=”3.0.87″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.87″]


  • Step 1

HEAT oven to 350ºF. Beat peanut butter, brown sugar, sugar, butter and vanilla in large bowl with mixer on high speed until well blended. Beat in eggs.

  • Step 2

STIR oats, coconut, baking soda and salt in large bowl until blended. Gradually blend into peanut butter mixture then stir in chocolate chips. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

  • Step 3

DROP by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Press to flatten slightly. (Optional >> Sprinkle red and green chocolate pieces on top for that burst of holiday cheer.)

  • Step 4

Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.0.87″ custom_padding=”27px|0px|2px|0px”][et_pb_row custom_padding=”0px|0px|0px|0px” _builder_version=”3.0.87″ border_width_bottom=”8px”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.87″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_divider show_divider=”on” _builder_version=”3.0.87″][/et_pb_divider][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.0.87″ custom_padding=”0px|0px|0px|0px”][et_pb_row custom_padding=”41px|0px|0px|0px” _builder_version=”3.0.87″][et_pb_column type=”1_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.87″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.87″]

To continue the Hop:

To continue the hop, jump to one of the author sites listed below that you have yet to visit. (Just click on the applicable web address to be linked straight there!) “Collect” more recipes and learn more fun historical holiday facts.

While hopping, follow/like/subscribe, if you’d like to keep up with the authors’ historical romance book releases. 

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To enter the giveaway:

  • Be sure to put Historical Romance Authors are Sweet in the subject line.
  • Check out the Facebook Event site for all the giveaway details and requirements.

Cookie Hop prize:

You will be entered into the random drawing for a $150 gift card to the online store of your choice. The winner will be posted at the Facebook Event site, Heather’s author page (Heather McCollum – Scottish Romance Author | Facebook) and on my Instagram page.

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Alanna Lucas


Amy Jarecki


Angelina Jameson


Anna St. Claire


Aubrey Wynne


Celeste Barclay


Deb Marlowe


E. Elizabeth Watson


Eliza Knight


Elizabeth Ellen Carter


Elizabeth Johns


Gina Conkle


Heather McCollum


Jane Charles


Jerrica Knight-Catania


Jessica A. Clements


Katherine Bone


Katherine Grant


Kathryn Le Veque


Lisa Rayne


Lori Ann Bailey


Lynne Connolly


Madeline Martin


Michelle McLean


Ruth A. Casie


Samantha Grace


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Sapna Bhog


Tammy Andresen


Tara Kingston