Guest Chick Monday – In the Kitchen with Donnell Ann Bell

The Past Came Hunting by Donnell Ann Bell

I met Donnell when we were Golden Heart finalists together in 2010. Now she’s a  debut author for Bell Bridge Books.  Her book THE PAST CAME HUNTING was a 2007 Golden Heart finalist – and how cool is that cover?  She is also pleased to announce she recently sold her 2010 Golden Heart finaling book, DEADLY RECALL, to Bell Bridge as part of a two-book deal.  To learn more about Donnell or read a sample chapter, check out her web site at

What’s cooking, Donnell?


I think it’s an absolute scream that I’m a guest on Chicklets in the Kitchen because a great cook I’m not.  But Abigail needed a guest author, and I do have a very special recipe I’d like to share, so bear with me.

When perusing a cookbook if I don’t know what an ingredient is, I won’t even attempt it.  In my defense, though, I think the problem is psychosomatic.

Fifteen years ago, my husband and I moved into “my” dream home.  Notice I say “my” dream home because, you see, a house is an object, and my chemical engineer/ husband holds to the belief that you should never fall in love with something that cannot love you back.

Nevertheless, I fell in love with the house.  The kitchen…not so much.  The kitchen was outdated when we moved in, and the appliances, too, on their last legs.  I had huge visions of fixing the place up and making it the perfect residence.  My husband, on the other hand, had huge visions of paying off the mortgage.  Let’s just say when you’re paying off a mortgage at the speed we were working toward, a remodel wasn’t going to happen.

The not-so-dream kitchen

Further, as the kitchen existed, it wasn’t exactly incentive for me to become Julia Child.  So, I stuck to simple meals and concentrated on becoming a better writer.

A few years ago, we managed to pay off our mortgage.  By then, however, our children were entering college, so guess where they money went that time?  You got it… Colorado State University and Texas Christian.

Hence, my kitchen remained outdated, and I remained out of it for that very reason.  I continued focusing on what inspired me– the craft of writing.

Time, good or bad, has a way of marching on, and my children grew up, and they graduated.  By now, however, I no longer even considered remodeling my kitchen.  The economy had spiraled downward, and this time it was me saying, save every dime.

Did I mention I was married to an engineer?  As big as he is into saving, this time it was him saying if we’re going to do this, there’s never going to be a better time.

Shiny sparkly new kitchen

You can see the before and after pictures.  I now live in my dream home and my dream kitchen.  It’s amazing what happens when you love your surroundings.  Just as a muse inspires one’s writing, inspiration occasionally strikes me as I stand in my brand new kitchen.  I’m still not the best cook in the world; writing continues to be my all-time passion.  But I do seem to enjoy cooking more—particularly if I can pronounce the ingredients.  Here’s a meal I love and hope you will too.

Fabulous Chicken & Artichokes

4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Garlic cloves pressed or diced
1 cup Best Food mayonnaise (reduced fat will work, too)
1 can artichoke hearts
7-10 diced mushrooms
1 cup parmesan cheese.

Heat oven to 375˚

Combine olive oil, garlic and chicken and bake uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes.

In a bowl, mix artichokes, mushrooms, mayonnaise and spread over baking chicken.  Spread parmesan cheese over the chicken concoction.  Bake another 30 to 35 minutes.

I like to serve this with rice or pasta, salad or brussel sprouts.


Donnell, if I had your kitchen, I’d never leave!  That would make my  husband happy *laugh*.   And I love my kitchen, but MAN, yours is awesome!  So do any of you have any remodeling stories?  Comment for a chance to win a copy of The Past Came Hunting.

57 thoughts on “Guest Chick Monday – In the Kitchen with Donnell Ann Bell

  1. Donnell, thanks for stopping by and sharing your kitchen. The difference between the pictures is amazing! When we were house hunting, the kitchen was definitely a dealbreaker for me. If I didn’t love it, we weren’t buying the house. Thankfully I ❤ my kitchen. (You know, since I blog about it and all, that's probably a good thing. :))

    • Abigail, I’ve finally figured out the reply button. I’m so glad you love your kitchen, and you obviously love to cook. I’m curious, are you torn between writing and cooking? How do you separate the two?

      • I have young’uns at home, so unless I’m trying to make a contest deadline or have an idea that Just Can’t Wait, I wait until they go to bed before I start writing. Most of the cooking is done while they’re awake, and just recently they started picking out recipes to make themselves. It’s a family affair over in the Sharpe kitchen!

      • Good for you, Abigail. To this day, my daughter calls to say, “Mom, how do I make this?” Of course she was so busy in sports, she (along with me) didn’t hang out in the kitchen. Like anything, best to involve kids in these traditions young! Well, done, Sharpe family!

  2. Good morning Chickelets in the Kitchen. Oh, thank you for inviting me! Can’t wait to hear your remodeling stories. Some say it’s like labor and delivery. Your house is a mess for several months and you forget all about it at the end result. Off to the Y but will be back soon! Thank you!

  3. Jenny, thanks for joining me here today with these special ladies! I love artichokes also and with the mayonnaise it comes out super moist. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know how you like it, okay?

    Cyndi, believe me, I know what you’re going through. With this economy, and knowing my husband’s comfort zone with debt, I really tried to stave off that kitchen remodel. I do a little squee everytime I enter it now. But it was a long time coming. Hope you can remodel one of these days if that is your passion. Try the chicken dinner!

  4. Gorgeous new kitchen, Donnell! And chicken and artichokes? Yum!

    Just nipped over to your website to read the excerpt of The Past Came Hunting. What a delicious opening line! Loved the rest of the excerpt as well and can see why TPCH is getting rave reviews. Can’t wait to read the rest of the book.

    Congratulations on the new sale! May many, many more follow it.

  5. Great recipe. My DIL isn’t much of a cook (lucky for her my son works out of the house and is an excellent cook) but she also has a recipe for chicken with artichokes. It’s her go-to and is yummy. I do recipes on my own blog on Wednesdays, and am always looking for contributions (hint, hint)

    Your kitchen looks wonderful. We “re-did” ours when we moved into the house, but it was mostly facelift and new appliances. No major remodeling.

    Terry’s Place

    • Terry, I’m taking your hint. I have a great pork chop recipe (and it’s easy, too).

      Our remodel was a complete renovation with knocked-out walls, structural repairs, old paneling ripped out, the works. We lived for months with that part of the house taped off and my husband and I lived out of our utility room. It was cold, messy and so worth it! Thanks for stopping by!

      • Well, our facelift left us with no counters, no sink, no appliances for weeks. Thank goodness Hubster likes to cook on the grill. But washing dishes in the downstairs bathtub sucked. (I know it’s convenient for plumbers to do everything at once, but why they have to rip it all out before they’re even ready to install the new stuff is beyond me.)

        Looking forward to your recipe. Send it to me at

  6. Hi Donnell 🙂

    Gorgeous kitchen! Love it! Ours needs updating as well. We moved into our house “new” 20 years ago. But no money is the coffers right now for a remodel.

    Super Congrats on your book deal! Yay!


    • Hi, Cher, trying to get the hang of these comments! It says duplicate and I’ve already said that, but it doesn’t appear. Trust me, I feel your pain in the budget department. I’m always amazed on those HGTV shows how people have soooo much money for remodeling. Talk about writing fiction! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Your kitchen is beautiful! I am,too, watching other things (like two girls about to hit college) push aside a new kitchen (yes, someday my baby blue counter tops will be stylish again!).

    I love how simple this recipe looks and would eat chicken every night…but I am an artichoke coward. Will I like them? I see all the YUM comments. Do they have a strong flavor? Or will this taste like the hot artichoke dip my husband seems to love at all his local restaurants? Can you tell my middle daughter does 70% of our cooking? 🙂

    • Gillian, oh my gosh, were we separated at birth, but you got the looks department? . Artichokes are mild, not a strong flavor at all. I hope you’ll try this recipe and let me know what you think of of it. It’s the type you can make and people think you’ve slaved over the stove all day. My kitchen was white. My neighbors called it hospital white. (yikes). It, too, was custom in its day but it was seriously outdated. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Gillian, I was on the fence about artichokes too until I started dating Husband and met his mother, who never met an artichoke she didn’t like. Now artichoke hearts are a staple in my pantry and on my salads… and soon to be on the chicken, too!

  8. Melanie, you and me. I always admire someone who has a passion for cooking the way I do for writing. One of my best friends is a chef and she’s just amazed that I am so inept. I can put on a spread on occasion, but it takes nerves of steel and planning. And, yes, this meal is so easy, you can do it. Just don’t go back to your writing and forget that it’s in the oven! Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Wow, Donnell! That kitchen truly is gorgeous!! However, it wouldn’t matter how gorgeous my kitchen was, I still wouldn’t be the chief cook. Chief bottle-washer, yes. Cook, notsomuch.

    My wonderful hubby actually LIKES cooking – and he’s very good at it too. I’d be ubber content to just stand in the gorgeous kitchen, watching him cook. 🙂

    • Oh my gosh, Lynda, keep him! Keep him. My husband is famous for cooking the infamous “Bell Burger.” When I was indisposed and he was in charge of cooking he fried a piece of hamburger meet, slapped it on a piece of bread and layered it with ketsup. My kids would grab on to my knees and say, “Please, mom, no Bell burgers.” It was a matter of survival. He is NOT allowed in my kitchen, remodeled or otherwise . Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Gorgeous kitchen. And never mind cooking, I could just make a cup of tea and write there! But I have printed off the recipe and I will try it. I’ll also take a look at “Terry’s Place” for more recipes. I do need something to make me “look good” in the cooking dept.

  11. Hi, Donnell! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful kitchen and awesome-sounding chicken/artichoke recipe with us! My kitchen is tiny and really outdated, but it works and I’m thankful for that. However, I’d really love to have a 6-burner Viking stove and double oven! And a big commercial fridge/freezer. 🙂 I’ve decided if we ever have the opportunity to build again, I’m going for 2 dishwashers, too!!! I cook for 4 guys (husband & 3 sons) and believe me, they eat A LOT.

    I make a chicken/artichoke/sundried tomato dish that’s super simple – the recipe should be in the sidebar under my name in the category list. I’m definitely going to cook up yours, I’m positive my guys will love it!

    • Lis, oh my gosh, I’ve got my super duper calculator out here and I’m adding the cost of those appliances. You sound like a chef extrardinaire. My friend who is a chef has a tiny kitchen too, but the food that comes out of it. Amazing. And she has a double oven and all the newest gadgets. I’m in awe of the meals she creates. I just love this blog, I’ll be a follower, too, and maybe I’ll learn a thing or too! Thank you!

    • Thanks, Colleen, author of the Fabulous ZEN Man. Readers, this is one great book based in Denver, Colorado, our stomping state. Colleen, that wood is pecan. It’s hard and it’s holding up really well. Easy to clean too! Thanks for commenting!

  12. Donnell,
    Congrats on your book! Can’t wait to read it! We just bought a house that hadn’t been taken care of, and are going to redo the kitchen next year. The people who owned it painted the countertops with black acrylic paint, so of course, I covered the counters with cutting boards, and don’t let the food touch the paint. It’s so gross.
    Good luck with the book and thanks for the recipe! Sound yummy!

    • Dee Dee, I hope you do get to remodel it. 15 years was quite a wait for me, but I have to say, I do love it. I’d be nuts with the paint too. Good idea how to protect it. Happy Holidays!

  13. I’m horribly late to come to visit but I’d just like to say that the recipe looks deeeeeelicious, Donnell! I’m putting artichoke hearts and mushrooms on the shopping list – everything else is in the cupboard or fridge!

    Great blog, Chicklets!

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