Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ooh, Muffins! Guest Lynn Cahoon and a #bookgiveaway

LESLIE: I met today's guest, Lynn Cahoon, last fall at Bouchercon in New Orleans, where we shared a panel talking about food in mysteries. She writes the Tourist Trap mysteries, featuring Jill Gardner and the crew from South Cove, CA, and the brand new Cat Latimer mysteries, set in small town Aspen Hills, Colorado, where Cat runs a B&B and writers' retreats The second Cat Latimer mystery, FATALITY BY FIRELIGHT, comes out on Tuesday!

Leave a comment below for a chance to win the first in the series, A STORY TO KILL!  

LYNN: Muffins. They were the first thing we made in Intro to Home Economics my freshman year. We learned not to stir this batter too much as it loses the air that keeps muffins light and fluffy. Yet, you have to stir them just enough or you’ll get a mouth full of baking powder.

It took a lot of practice but I played with muffin recipes after school until I could mix up most anything into a batter. This one I call the kitchen sink recipe.

When I started writing my versions of a bed and breakfast mixed with a writer’s retreat in the Cat Latimer mysteries, my enjoyment of different breakfast breads came in handy. I’d love to be Shauna and be able to try out new recipes to wow the guests.

Shauna’s Special Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pre-heat oven to 400. Grease 12 muffin tins (or use spray oil).

Mix into a large bowl
· 2 cups all-purpose flour
· 1⁄3 cup light-brown sugar, packed
· 1⁄3 cup sugar
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

In a separate bowl, mix
· 2⁄3 cup milk
· 1⁄2 cup butter, melted and cooled
· 2 eggs, lightly beaten
· 1 teaspoon vanilla

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix together, but don’t over mix.

· 2 cups (one 12-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
· 1⁄2 cup walnuts, chopped
· 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool. Enjoy!

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the first book in the series, A STORY TO KILL, by midnight Monday, Feb 27. (US addresses only, please.) 

From the cover of FATALITY BY FIRELIGHT:

Cat Latimer’s Colorado bed-and-breakfast plays host to writers from all over. But murder is distinctly unwelcome . . .
To kick off a winter writing retreat, Cat and her handyman boyfriend, Seth, escort the aspiring authors to a nearby ski resort, hoping some fresh cold air will wake up their creative muses. But instead of hitting the slopes, they hit the bar—and before long, a tipsy romance novelist named Christina is keeping herself warm with a local ski bum who might have neglected to tell her about his upcoming wedding.

Next thing Cat knows, her uncle, the town sheriff, informs her that the young man’s been found dead in a hot tub—and Christina shows up crying and covered in blood. Now, between a murder mystery, the theft of a rare Hemingway edition, and the arrival of a black-clad stranger in snowy Aspen Hills, Cat’s afraid everything’s going downhill . . .

Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER, book 1 of the series, won the Reader's Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She's also pens the Cat Latimer series. A STORY TO KILL, and FATALITY IN FIRELIGHT are available in mass market paperback. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at and find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sweet Potato Fries #giveaway #veggies #recipe @VictoriaAbbott

Sweet potatoes are our favorite veggie.  We simmer them in soup, whip them like mashed potatoes, turn them into casseroles, you name it.  We love them every way. In restaurants we often order sweet potato fries with spicy mayo or aioli.  Now we’ve discovered how easy it is to make these at home, without a deep fryer.  Just sweet potatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. All natural and so delicious. After a bit of experimentation and fiddling with cooking times and temps, this is our result.  

Sweet Potato “Fries” 

4 small or three medium sweet potatoes
1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt
4 -5 springs of fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
½ cup good quality mayonnaise
1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F. 

Cut sweet potatoes into fry shapes, long and fairly thin. 

Place on a cookie sheet or baking dish, but don't crowd them.  Coat lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh thyme.

Bake for about 20 minutes, turn and bake for about 15 minutes more.

Stir cayenne into mayo in a small dish.    

Serve sweet potato fries hot as a snack or as a side.  We have done both!
For this meal we paired them with small tenderloin steaks and sautéed mushroom.  We felt like we had our own private bistro in Paris!

We hope you are continuing to join us for our ‘eat your rainbow challenge’.  Every time you leave a comment, your name goes into the hat for the draw to win this lovely vegetable dish. The draw will be made after the March 11th post.

WIN ME!!!!
And in case you have forgotten who we are:  Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between me: the artist and photographer Victoria Maffini, and other me:  Victoria’s mother, Mary Jane Maffini.

Together, we write the award-winning Book Collector Mysteries. We love writing together and oddly enough, we have fun.   


Want to see the books? Here they are!  All are available in print, e-book and audio at your favorite place to buy books.

Winner of the 2016 Bony Blithe Award!
Now hear this!
Get in on more fun with  our email newsletter.  All you need to do to get on the list is ask us RIGHT HERE

We’re also on Facebook and love to hear from you.  Click to link to Mary Jane Maffini
and Victoria Abbott

Make sure you eat your veggies and don't forget to comment and leave your email addy to be in the draw.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Almond Cheesecake Pound Cake

All right, I’ve been throwing a lot of weird vegetables at you lately (but I have to grab them when I see them at the store), so let’s go back to more familiar territory: cake (we here at MLK seem to be doing a lot of baking lately!). In this case, this is a recipe based on one I saw recently in our local paper, for a pound cake with a twist—it has cream cheese in it.

While the original recipe called for lemon flavoring, I decided to change it up a bit by substituting almond extract (Krista and I have to have a pound cake duel!).

Almond Cheesecake Pound Cake
(really needs a better name, doesn’t it?)


3-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter,
at room temperature

1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room

2-3/4 cups granulated sugar

5 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan (Note: you really need a pan that holds about ten cups. While there’s not a lot of baking powder/soda in this recipe, it does rise a bit, and if you try to squeeze into a smaller pan, it may overflow. Or don’t fill your pan to the top.)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

This is a vintage sifter I bought
at a flea market. Big enough for
just about any recipe!
In a stand mixer set on medium-high, cream the softened butter for 2 minutes. Add the softened cream cheese and beat for 2 minutes more.

Lots of butter!
Add the sugar in 3 additions, beating for after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl. When all the sugar is added, beat for 1 minute more.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing enough to blend (do not overbeat). Add the vanilla and almond extracts blend.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions.

All in
Scrape down the bowl and spoon the mixture into the baking pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

BTW, I weighed the batter--
it's more like five pounds!
Bake for 65-70 minutes in the middle of the oven (this is important: because it is a dense cake, the outside may begin to brown before the interior is cooked. If you’re concerned, cover the top loosely with a piece of foil and/or reduce the heat to 325 degrees). The cake is done when a skewer comes out clean and the cake shrinks a bit away from the sides of the pan.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn out on a wire rack and cool completely. (If you want to dress it up, you could add an almond glaze using butter, confectioner’s sugar and almond extract.)

This cake slices neatly and keeps well (good thing, too, because it’s big!)

Still counting the days until the release of Cruel Winter (County Cork Mystery #5). 

Here's what the NY Journal of Books had to say about it:

"A crafty and marvelous twist to the classic whodunit... A totally captivating page-turner of a book, perfect for winter nights with a storm beating against the windows."

Available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and still on sale at both).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Roasted French Beans, Mushrooms, and Onions with Panko #recipe by Linda Wiken, author, @LWiken

There aren't many vegetables I don't like, although there are some that I feel need to be dressed up before presenting at a meal.

Cauliflower is one, green beans is another. No offence meant to green bean or cauliflower lovers!

But the great news is that it's so easy these days to do just that. Even just roasting these veggies in olive oil, salt and pepper is so easy and transforms the taste.

But I found a recipe that sounded just right, although it added a few more steps to the roasting process. This is a recipe for guests, I decided. And, of course, I played around with it, because that's what we do. I'm not sure where it originated but my guess might be online at  Bon Appetit, one of my favorite sources.

I've switched out the green beans for French beans-- love the shape and size. The choice of onion was new, too, as were the mushrooms and cheese. I'm thinking this would work great for cauliflower, too!

What you need: (to serve four)

1 1/2 lbs. French beans
6 shallots, sliced into rings
8 oz. mushrooms
8 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 c. Panko
1/2 tsp. each freshly chopped rosemary, bay, sage, and tarragon
1/2 c. grated Asiago cheese
1 lemon, zest and juice

What to do:

Preheat over to 425 F.  Place French beans, mushrooms and onions in a large bowl and toss them with 3 tbsp. olive oil.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and arrange the French beans mixture on them. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and browned, approx. 30 to 35 min.

Heat the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  Add Panko and herbs, stirring constantly until golden brown, about  3 min. Remove from heat and stir in Asiago and lemon zest.

Squeeze some lemon juice over the roasted vegetables and top with the Panko mixture.


Book 2 in the Dinner Club Mysteries,  ROUX THE DAY, is coming on March 7th!
To pre-order, please check your favorite bookstore website.

The first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.  
Recipes included!

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. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sheila's apple shortbread gluten-free #recipe from author @DarylWoodGerber

Recently, I've been making recipes for my new FRENCH BISTRO MYSTERY series, which comes out in November. I have to admit that I've probably put on a few pounds because here's what I've been making:

Eclairs, Eggs Benedict, Orange Madeleines,  and Steak au Poivre 

Rich, rich, rich. And delicious!  And I made all of them gluten-free so I could taste test them. I KNOW they work with the real deal (flour). 

Here are a few pictures just to whet your appetite...but I can't share the recipes with you until the book comes out in the fall. I'll keep you posted. I've put other photos on my Pinterest page.

Yes, this is gluten-free!

Found gluten-free English muffins. Quite good!

Had these with a delicious read.

Wow, wow, wow! That's all I can say.

In the meantime, I'm writing away, and, when I write, I like my sweets in the morning. I had a craving for something with apples, and I recalled that a few months back, Sheila made an apple shortbread that looked divine. However, as you know (from comments above), I have to eat gluten-free. Of course, not all recipes turn out well if made gluten-free -- not if they need to rise -- but this shortbread doesn't have to "rise", which is why I HAD TO TRY IT. 

Delicious! A winner!

Thank you, Sheila.

Sheila’s Apple Shortbread recipe
Gluten-free version

(Serves 6 to 9)

Takes refrigeration time; so 1 ½ hours to make.

The Crust

1/2 lb butter (1 cup or 2 sticks) at room temperature
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
1 1/2 cups sweet rice flour (or your choice gluten-free flour)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a stand mixer, mix the butter, sugar, GF flour, xanthan gum, and salt.

Roll the dough into a ball, wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes (this makes it easier to handle).

Line a 9” square pan with parchment paper. Press the dough into the bottom of a baking pan.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes (this will be cooked, but don’t let it brown). Let cool partially.

The Apple Layer:

Peel, core, and thinly slice three to four cooking apples (depending on size). I used Galas because that was what I had on hand. Granny Smiths would be great!

Arrange the apples on the crust in a single layer (some overlap is okay, but it shouldn’t be a thick layer). Taste the apples, and if you think they need it, sprinkle with a little sugar and some cinnamon.

The Gluten-free Topping:

1/2 cup sweet rice flour (or oatmeal flour)
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder

(Note: you can use a gluten-free flour mix - if so, 1 cup GF flour substitutes for the sweet rice flour and tapioca flour above)

Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl to make coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the apple layer.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the apples are soft and the topping begins to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and cut away the parchment overlaps. Set on a pretty serving plate. Cut in 6 or 9 pieces. Enjoy!

Savor the mystery!

Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous!

Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
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Follow both of us on Pinterest
Plus check out my website.

GRILLING THE SUBJECT, the 5th Cookbook Nook Mystery, is out!
The Wild West Extravaganza has come to Crystal Cove.
Click here to order.

FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE, the 7th Cheese Shop Mystery is out!
Finally there's going to be a cheese festival in Providence!
Click to order.

GIRL ON THE RUN, a stand-alone suspense is out!
When a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, 
Chessa Paxton must run for her life...but will the truth set her free? 
Click to order