Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mango salsa tastes like summer! #recipe #mystery @abbottmysteries

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

We’re having a hot and humid early summer in these parts.  Salads and no-cook meals are the way to go.  And mangoes are showing up in the grocery store. How perfect is that?  We’re dusting off our recipe for Mango Salsa and preparing for a refreshing dinner on the screened porch. 

This recipe is great with chicken, hot or cold, and with fish, surprisingly enough. It’s sweet as well as savory, easy too and full of such good things that you can feel virtuous while enjoying it.


 Mango Salsa

All you need is:
2 medium mangoes, ripe
1 red pepper, chopped
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
1 lime
¼ cup chopped cilantro and some leaves for decoration
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Dash of hot sauce
½ tsp sea salt

All you do is:
Chop pepper and red onion.  Chop cilantro.  Combine peppers and cilantro and red onion in a bowl.

Prepare mangoes by cutting in three parts (the pit in the middle). Reserve that. Score the inside of each of the parts.  Press outside in and cut off mango. It will be perfectly diced. 


Add to bowl.  And gently mix to combine.

Squeeze the juice from the lime.

Place olive oil, cider vinegar, lime, salt and hot sauce into a small bowl and whip with a wire whip until smooth. 

 Add dressing to salsa and blend to cover all the yummy ingredients.  Enjoy in your most summery locations.  If there's any left, it will be even better the next day,

We’re happy to announce that The Marsh Madness won the 2016 Bony Blithe Award for ‘mysteries that make us smile’.    You can bet that made us smile,

If you missed our post two weeks ago, here’s a picture of the award design.


If you've already read The Marsh Madness, we hope you're ready for THE HAMMETT HEX.

 Here's the book trailer to WATCH NOW.  WATCH NOW

We're getting in the mood with our fedoras.  Why not get in the mood by PREORDERING  HERE?
 or wherever you order/buy your books!


Don't miss out on book and dog news, recipes and contests with our newsletter.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Cookies in a Jar

My cottage in Ireland!

In case anybody missed all the blather, I’m just back from two weeks in Ireland, fitting out my very own cottage. No, it wasn’t ready to stay in yet (no running water—the well pump had pumped its last, and I’ve found someone to replace it), so I stayed in a nice rental unit on a dairy farm. I am now well informed about managing dairy cattle—even watched a newborn calf take its first steps.

The "business end" of milking
What I love about staying in rentals rather than B&Bs is that I have a kitchen, and I love to cook with the local products. There’s a terrific supermarket in nearby Skibbereen, and then there’s the Skibbereen farmers’ market every Saturday. I swear I plan whole trips around being there in time for the market.

I’ve probably written about the market before, but it’s worth talking about again. It’s a mix of the best of local foods (who knew West Cork was a foodie paradise?) and people selling both crafts and stuff—“stuff” being typical flea market treasures. I scored well, buying six stainless steel copper bottomed pots and pans for about $30 total. Okay, check that off my to-do list for the cottage.

But, oh, the food! Fresh fish, breads and cakes, cheese, meats, smoked fish. Live birds for sale, and fresh chicken and duck eggs. It breaks my heart when I want to buy everything and cook with it, but there’s only me and sometimes my husband to consume it. I hope somebody enjoys the cheese I had to leave behind. I ate just about everything else.


If I have to comment on one change that I’ve seen in the years I’ve been visiting the Saturday market, it’s the growth of products that advertise that they’re gluten-free. And there are a lot of breads made from spelt now. The place and its vendors move with the times.

My cottage is in Drinagh, home to the region’s largest dairy co-op. Since I was staying on a dairy farm up the hill from Skibbereen, I watched the Co-op tanker trucks arrive every two to three days to collect the milk (stored in temperature-controlled conditions, I assure you!). That’s a lot of milk. 

It shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve been a bit too busy to put together a recipe for MLK, but! I found a wonderful thing in the supermarket: cookies in a jar, made by a company called Bake It Easy. Apparently it’s a relatively new product that has gone on sale recently (I ended up talking with a sales rep for the brand when I went back to stock up). Everything you need is in the jar, in lovely tidy layers. You open it, empty it into a bowl, add butter and an eggs, spoon it out onto a baking sheet and bake! A child can do it. 

I know, it sounds a bit like the first instant cake mixes that appeared on the market a long time ago. I’m told the manufacturers like Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines instructed the home baker to add milk and egg just to make them feel they had something to do—they could just as easily have added powdered milk and egg to the mix.

But I’m glad I went back the second time, because I got to sample three of the flavors—Oately Dotely, Choca Bloc, and Smart Cookie--and they’re good (would I tell you about them if they weren’t?). Really. (And, believe it or not, I talked up MLK to the sales rep.)

So, rather than provide you with a recipe and all the pictures, I’m offering a giveaway to three winners, one for each cookie flavor. Just leave a comment and tell me which one you like, and I’ll draw one winner for each and send you the jar of instant cookies! (BTW, the chocolate one looks pale in the jar, but it bakes up into nice dark cookies.)

There's no one book attached to this post--I learn a lot any time I visit Ireland, and it all goes into the books.

But! Stay tuned for some exciting news about the fifth book in the series, coming next spring.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Baked red peppers, stuffed with fennel by Linda Wiken, author

I have a new favorite cookbook! It's called Flavors of Sicily by Ursula Ferrigno and I love it. I've visited the fair island only once but it's really stayed with me. And the extra value of this cookbook is the gorgeous photos and the slices of information, such as the sections Sicilian citrus groves, and the wines of Sicily.

What I've chosen today is a zesty side dish that adds a lot of color to any plate. And, it combines two veggies I thoroughly enjoy -- red peppers and fennel. It's also fairly easy to put together. And, conveniently, it can be made a day ahead and reheated.

Let's get started!

4 tbsp. olive oil
4 fennel bulbs
4 red peppers
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic closed, finely chopped
7 oz. ricotta
¾ c. pistachio nuts, shelled and finely chopped
7 oz. strained or diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. tomato paste
Handful cilantro, finely chopped
Pinch of crushed dried chili peppers
Fennel fronds to garnish
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

  1.          1. Preheat over to 350F.  Line wide baking dish with parchment paper
2.          2. Halve the fennel bulbs lengthwise and trim, discarding wood cores. Save leafy fronds.

1.         3. Blanch bulb halves for 8 minutes in saucepan of boiling water. Drain and pat dry.
2.         4. Halve peppers lengthways and remove pith and seeds.

1.        5. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in frying pan. Sauté onions and then add garlic.
2.       6. Transfer onions and garlic to large bowl; add ricotta. Season with salt and pepper. Place 3-4 spoonfuls of mixture in each pepper half. Place fennel on top then fill in the gaps with cheese mixture.



1.       7. Transfer peppers to baking dish. Mix strained tomatoes with tomato paste; season with cilantro.     Pour around peppers. Drizzle remaining olive oil on peppers; sprinkle pistachios on top.

2.        8. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

 9. Garnish with fennel fronds.

Voila. A colorful addition to my chicken breast, roasted potatoes, and asparagus dinner!

The countdown is on. Just 12 days to go until release day!

 TOASTING UP TROUBLE, the first in my new Dinner Club Mystery series (includes recipes)
is coming July 5th!

To pre-order, click here 

Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

Visit Linda at
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at

Visit Erika at 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase.