Sunday, July 5, 2015

Welcome guest author Juliet Blackwell + book #giveaway!

Juliet Blackwell pens the New York Times Bestselling Witchcraft Mysteries and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind she wrote the Agatha-Award nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series.  Her upcoming The Paris Key (September 1, 2015) is Juliet’s first standalone novel.  She is past president of Northern California Sisters in Crime and former board member of Mystery Writers of America.  Juliet lives in a hundred-year-old house with extensive botanical gardens in Northern California, but spends as much time as possible in Europe and Latin America.  She believes in the magic of language, travel, and cultural exchange to open hearts, minds, and souls.

By the way, Juliet is offering a book giveaway today. See details below!!

Take it away, Julie!!


I was taught to cook by a busy working mother and a father who had been a short-order chef.  Both were children of the depression who never threw anything away.  So using up leftovers was a big theme in our house.  Like so many aspects of childhood that I railed against at the time, I now find myself adhering to them. 

I’m a leftover queen!

And while busy writing the next installment of the Witchcraft Mystery series, I prefer any dish that’s satisfying while quick and easy to prepare.

Chilaquiles is an ingenious dish to use up stale tortillas. It’s a delicious, easy-to-make stove-top Mexican casserole most typically eaten for breakfast.

In its simplest form, Chilaquiles consist of fried tortillas and eggs in a cooked salsa (red or green). Sometimes chicken or other meats, beans, tofu, or extra veggies are added – this is where the leftovers come in. Be creative!

Serve as is, or top the dish with cheese, Mexican crema (a pourable sour cream), raw onions, avocados, cilantro, or hot sauce. Again, use your imagination and any leftovers you can find.


1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 small corn tortillas, cut into triangles or strips
1/2 cup salsa (fresh or canned is fine)
Shredded chicken, pork, or cubed tofu
1/4 cup leftover pinto or black beans and/or veggies
2 eggs
1/4 avocado
2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco (or substitute your favorite cheese)
Hot sauce, optional
Roughly chopped cilantro


Pour the oil into a cast iron or stainless steel skillet and warm over medium-high heat until shimmery. Add tortilla pieces and fry, stirring and flipping constantly, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

Pour the salsa over the tortillas, and cook, stirring, until the tortillas soak up most of the salsa and soften, about 1 minute. Add beans, cooked meat or veggies or tofu as you like, and stir to heat.

Push the chilaquiles to one side of the pan and lower the heat to medium. Crack the egg toward the middle of the pan. Partially cover the pan and cook until the egg whites are set and the yolk is as done as you like it. Alternatively, whisk the egg in a bowl before adding it to the pan and make scrambled eggs instead. Once cooked, mix up with the chilaquiles to coat the tortillas.

Garnish with the avocado slices, queso fresco, hot sauce, and cilantro. Eat immediately.

* * *
Visit Juliet at

Spellcasting in Silk, #7 of the Witchcraft Mystery series, features Lily Ivory, natural-born witch and vintage clothes dealer with a shop in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. With her potbellied-pig familiar, Oscar, at her side, Lily finds herself embroiled in magical mystery in the City by the Bay.

Lily would like nothing better than to relax, enjoy her friends, and take care of business at her store, which is booming thanks to San Francisco's upcoming Summer of Love Festival. But as the unofficial witchy consultant to the SFPD, she is pulled into yet another case.

A woman has jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, and her apparent suicide may be connected to a suspicious botanica in the Mission District. When the police investigate the shop, they ask Lily to look into its mysterious owner, whose granddaughter also appears to be missing. As Lily searches for the truth, she finds herself confronted with a confounding mystery and some very powerful magic…


I am offering a giveaway today, your choice of the first or last in the series, Secondhand Spirits or A Vision in Velvet. Leave a comment (hint: click the word "comments" below), include your email or a cryptic version of it that I can figure out, and tell me if you believe in magic!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

It's as American as Blueberry...Clafouti? #Recipe @Peg Cochran

Yesterday Sheila brought you something RED--her strawberry tart.  Today I'm bringing you something BLUE with blueberry clafouti and tomorrow...we have a guest and maybe she will be bringing something WHITE?  Tune in to find out!

It's the 4th of July, Independence Day, and you're probably wondering why I'm posting a French recipe. I'm sure you know the French were instrumental in helping us win the Revolutionary War or the War for Independence.  So it only seemed they gave us the Statue of Liberty.  What more could you ask for?

I once made blueberry clafouti to take to a party given by some French friends in NYC.  They all but burst out laughing at the concept of blueberries in a clafouti--traditionally you would make it with cherries.  But Julia (Julia Child of course--although I've never met her I've always been on a first name basis with her since her cookbooks taught me how to cook) includes a recipe for blueberry clafouti (as a variation of the traditional cherry clafouti) in her Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  That's good enough for me!  Plus it's delicious and so simple--sort of like making a pancake batter and pouring it over fresh fruit and baking it.

The recipe calls for mixing this in a blender but I'm assuming that back in 1961 (when the first edition came out ) few people had a Cuisinart in their homes--which is what I used for mixing this up.


3 cups washed blueberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 TB vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sifted flour (if you're using blueberries--cherries call for only 2/3 cup)
1 1/4 cups of milk or 1 cup milk and 1/4 cup brandy or cognac

Place the ingredients above in a blender or food processor and whir until blended.

Pour 1/4 inch layer of batter in your 7 to 8 cup baking dish or pie plate.  Place in pre-heated 350 degree oven for a few minutes until batter sets on the bottom.  Remove from oven.

Spread blueberries over the top of the batter and sprinkle with 1/3 cup (more) sugar.  Pour on remainder of batter and return to oven for approximately an hour--until a knife plunged into the center comes out clean.  (My oven runs hot and it took only 45 minutes so check often!)  Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.  The clafouti is best served warm.

Love the colors of fresh blueberries!

Simple ingredients

Place a 1/4 inch batter on bottom of baking dish and bake until a film forms

Place berries on top of pre-set batter and sprinkle with sugar

Pour remaining batter over fruit and place in oven. Drink in delicious smells!


Bon Appetit as Julia would say!

Have you subscribed to my newsletter?  Next week I am offering subscribers a peek at the first chapter of Berried Secrets, the first book in my Cranberry Cove series!  You can join by going to my web site.  AND be sure to join me on Facebook because I will also be giving away an advance reader copy of the book along with some other wonderful goodies!  Berried Secrets will be out on August 4 but you can pre-order now!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Strawberry Tart

by Sheila Connolly

The last of the local strawberries… I hadn’t been to a farmers market this spring, so I kind of over-indulged when I was in Northampton, buying two overflowing quarts of beautiful ripe berries.

There are only two of us at home these days, and that was a lot of strawberries. First round: the old stand-by, strawberry shortcake, with home-made shortcakes and plenty of whipped cream. Didn’t use up even half of the berries.

Also in Northampton, I visited one of my favorite used bookstores, The Raven, where I bought (1) a four-volume edition of the History of Middlesex County, published in 1927 (maybe only a Massachusetts genealogist can get excited about that); (2) Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which somehow I’d never read); and (3) two cookbooks. I can’t stop myself.

One of these cookbooks was Seasonal Fruit Desserts, by Deborah Madison, which had lots of nice recipes (I’m always on the lookout for new apple recipes). But what struck me was that there were not one but two new pie-crust recipes! I may have mentioned (often) that I am pie-crust challenged—these two may be numbers 14 and 15. But hope springs eternal!

So there I was with a pile of strawberries and a new pie crust recipe—but I couldn’t find a single recipe I liked. So I snooped around and combined several, and this is the result.

Strawberry Pie

The crust:

8 Tblsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, 
     at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of one orange (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour

Butter a 9" round or square tart pan.

Beat the butter with the sugar and salt with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again until smooth.

Add the flavorings, then the flour, and mix just to combine. 

Scrape the batter into the tart pan (be sure to gather up all the bits of flour from the bottom of the bowl).  With an offset spatula, spread out the batter, pushing it up against the sides to make a rim.

If the batter is too soft to handle, refrigerate it for 10 minutes.

When making your tart, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the tart pan with the dough and set it on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, until it just begins to brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool (it will shrink down a bit).

Lemon Curd:

Wait, what’s that doing here? Call it mortar, so you have something to set your strawberries in, to bind them to the crust. (You could also use a simple pastry custard without the lemon.)

2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1-1/2 tsp grated lemon peel

Grate the peel from the lemon. Squeeze the lemon to extract the juice. (One large lemon will provide both enough juice and peel for this recipe.)

Whisk the eggs, sugar and lemon juice in a small heavy saucepan. Add the butter and the lemon peel. Place over medium heat and stir until the butter melts. Keep stirring until the curd thickens to the consistency of pudding, which should take about 5 minutes.

Place in a small bowl, then press plastic wrap on the surface (to prevent a skin from forming). Chill at least 2 hours.

Putting it all together:

Remove the rim from the tart crust and place the crust on a serving plate.

Spread a thin layer of the lemon curd to cover the bottom.

Arrange the strawberries on top of the curd.You can use whole strawberries, or slice them as I did (tastes good either way!). 

Melt some jelly (seedless—take your pick from any red jelly you like) and brush over the top of the berries.

Chill to set—then eat quickly! This tart gets soggy overnight.

P.S. The other pie-crust recipe from the Seasonal Fruit Desserts cookbook? A more typical rolled crust, but made with maple or brown sugar and a bit of whole-wheat pastry flour. Now, what kind of filling should I try?

Privy to the Dead, still in its first month. I promise there's nothing disgusting in the privy!

Have a wonderful (and safe) Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Key Lime Pie to Celebrate FATAL RESERVATIONS #recipe #giveaway

LUCY BURDETTE: Yippee! Yippee! This week finally marks the publication of Hayley Snow's sixth adventure, FATAL RESERVATIONS. If you started reading this series from the beginning, you might remember Hayley's first visit to the Key West police department. She insisted that she couldn't have delivered a poisoned Key lime pie to the victim because she was afraid of meringue. 

In other words, I was afraid of meringue...

this is one sheet
Since then, Hayley and I have both matured. And we decided to make our first Key lime pie topped with meringue to celebrate FINAL RESERVATIONS. We are also offering one book to a lucky commenter today, so read the post all the way to the bottom to be entered in the drawing.

This recipe is not difficult, but there are a number of steps so read carefully before beginning. (It's not so different from writing a novel--just takes a little planning and a touch of patience, and everything comes together...)

Ingredients for the crust

10 sheets of graham crackers, should measure 1 1/4 cups
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Whir the graham crackers in a food processor until they make fine crumbs. Mix in the sugar and the butter. Press the mixture using the back of a spoon into your nine or 10 inch pie plate. Nine is probably better as my pie was a little low. Bake the crust at 350 for 10 minutes until it starts to brown. Remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 325.

Ingredients for the filling

1/2 cup key lime or lime juice, freshly squeezed
Four egg yolks
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons grated lime zest

Squeeze the limes until you have 1/2 cup of juice. (4-5 regular limes, more key limes.) Make sure to strain out the seeds. 


Whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and lime zest.  


Add the filling to the pie crust and bake for six minutes. Remove from the oven and set this aside while you make your meringue.


Ingredients for the meringue

Four egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
One half teaspoon vanilla

Using a clean bowl and mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks. Gradually beat in the sugar until the egg whites hold stiff peaks and appear shiny but not dry. Beat in the vanilla. 

Attach the meringue to the hot pie, beginning by adding globs all around the edge of the crust and smoothing them into a circle. (That's the  technical culinary term--add globs.) 

Then add remaining meringue to the center and smooth or shape into peaks as desired. Bake the pie for another 20 minutes. Cool on a rack. Refrigerate until serving.

And now serve yourself a nice piece of pie and start reading...

Fatal Reservations is available wherever books are sold, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Independent bookstores, and Books-a-Million. 

To be entered in today's drawing, leave a comment about a cooking fear you'd like to overcome...and don't forget your email!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cheesecake Shots #recipe, ala #PioneerWoman from @DarylWoodGerber

Happy almost Fourth of July!!!

To celebrate, I have a first-week-of-the-month giveaway below. Read on.  

The other day, I was eating lunch with my husband (yes, we do that!), and we turned on the television to the Food Network. The Pioneer Woman was on. I’d never seen her show. I’ve read her blog a number of times. I said, “Stop, let’s watch.” I had just been reviewing recipes from her latest cookbook for my next Cookbook Nook Mystery, which features barbecue and down-home kinds of recipes. I wanted to see what she was like in person.

Darling!! Easy to watch. Fun.

Anyway, she was making something ultra easy, and I thought, I must make these. Tonight. I had all the ingredients in my refrigerator. 5 ingredients. Perfect for my protagonist Jenna, who is still learning how to cook – she’s getting better, by the way.

A cheesecake shot is perfect for the Fourth of July! And wham-bang, are they ever good!

So Happy Fourth of July. May you relish your independence. May you continue to enjoy the freedoms that are ours because we live in this country. May you do your part to make sure everyone enjoys those freedoms!

CHEESECAKE SHOTS ala The Pioneer Woman

(serves 4 - 6)


1 12-ounce carton cream cheese
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
6-8 graham cracker squares
1 can cherry pie filling
blueberries, if desired
slivered almonds, if desired


In a small bowl, using a hand-mixer or whisk, mix cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. [The Pioneer Woman says this is one of her favorite go-to items in her pantry!]

Crush graham crackers. (If you need to eat gluten-free, you can find GF graham crackers at lots of stores. Or you can use GF sugar cookies.)

In small dessert bowls (or wine glasses) (4-6 portions), put 2-3 tablespoons of graham crackers.

Fill a pastry bag with the cheese/milk concoction. Squeeze about 1/3 to ½ cup of the filling on top of the graham crackers.

Top with 2-3 tablespoons of cherry pie filling. (For those who need to eat gluten-free, make sure the pie filling has modified corn starch or tapioca starch as it’s thickener.)

If desired top with blueberries and/or almonds.

Chill for about 1-2 hours. Serve cold.

Click here to PREORDER
Starting this week, I will be offering giveaways on Mystery Lovers Kitchen through the release of FUDGING THE BOOKS. So check in often!

Also I'll be having a release party on Facebook on August 4th, so mark your calendars! Look for the event invitation.

And I'll be doing a giveaway August 3rd via my newsletter to someone (or a few someones) who are signed up to receive it! Don't delay. Sign up.

Today's giveaway is your choice of the first three Cookbook Nook Mysteries OR any of the Cheese Shop Mysteries on the shelves + some fun swag. Leave a comment, with your email (cryptic, if you must) so I can contact you!  

And tell me what you're doing on the Fourth of July!

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

Friend Daryl on Facebook
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Check out our website.

order here

FUDGING THE BOOKS, the next Cookbook Nook Mystery, is available for order: order here.

If you haven't done so, sign up for the mailing list 
so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Erin’s Sunday Morning Scones #baking #bookgiveaway

By Leslie Budewitz

We’re celebrating the upcoming release of BUTTER OFF DEAD, third in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, on July 7. 

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy!

Readers often ask where the recipes in my books come from. The answer depends on the recipe. Some, like Fettucine with Minted Tomato Sauce aka Fettucine a la Fresca and the Stuffed Mushrooms in DEATH AL DENTE, the first Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, and the Filet with Huckleberry Morel Sauce in CRIME RIB, are faves in my household. (We call the pasta dish Demented Fettucine.) Others, like the Huckleberry Margaritas and Martinis and the Jewel Bay Critter Crunch in BUTTER OFF DEAD, were created specifically for the book. Sometimes the plot demands a certain food! And in my Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries, I’ve created both spice blends and dishes to use them based on the foods available in the Pike Place Market at the time of year when the story is set.

At other times, my characters eat a dish—old or new—because I’ve eaten and enjoyed it, and wanted to share it with you. Like these scones. We first made them from a recipe published in my college alumni magazine. They came from the long-time cook for the Jesuit community at Seattle University, serving both active and retired priests, so naturally, we call them “Jesuit scones.” (She says they originated as a variation of a Julia Child recipe.) But over time the recipe has evolved, as favorite recipes often do. Scones are particularly forgiving that way—you can vary the nuts and fruit based on what’s in your pantry, and top them with sugar or not. And because Erin likes to bake—a trait we share—it was inevitable that one Sunday morning, she’d make her own variation.

The morning after a night out, relax at home with Erin and the cats.

Erin’s Sunday Morning Scones

1/3 cup or more chopped pecans, toasted (see below)
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole wheat flour*
¾ cup flaxseed meal
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup (one stick) butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup buttermilk
zest of one orange
1/3 cup dried cranberries, soaked in hot water to plump and well-drained
cinnamon sugar** or raw sugar to sprinkle as a topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Toast the pecans for 10 minutes at 300 degrees, shaking the pan once or twice during baking. Don’t overbake; the nuts will continue to brown and crisp as they cool.

Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, or a mixer or food processor, mix the flours, flaxseed meal, baking powder, brown sugar, and baking soda. Add the butter and mix or pulse until the mixture looks like large crumbs. Add half the buttermilk and work in, adding the rest as the dough starts to pull together. (I  like to use a food processor to mix in the butter and buttermilk more easily.)

If you’re using a food processor, transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl. Add pecans, zest, and cranberries.

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour a large cutting board. Form the dough into a log. Cut the dough into five equal pieces. Use your hands to shape the first piece into a circle, about half an inch thick.

Cut into four equal triangles and transfer to the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or raw sugar before baking, if you’d like. (Not shown.)

Bake 18–20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes 20 scones. These freeze beautifully.

* King Arthur’s unbleached white whole-wheat flour will give these scones a lighter color and texture that is particularly yummy, but if you can’t find it, regular whole-wheat flour works fine.

** 1 teaspoon cinnamon to 1/4 cup white sugar is a tasty combo. Erin stores the mix in a small airtight container, as it keeps well and is extra-tasty on scones, buttered toast, and oatmeal.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of BUTTER OFF DEAD! (Open till noon, Thursday, July 2; please include your email address.)

From the cover: As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local mover and shaker …

In an attempt to woo tourists to Jewel Bay and cheer up the townies, Erin Murphy, manager of the specialty local foods market known as the Merc, is organizing the First Annual Food Lovers’ Film Festival, popping with classic foodie flicks and local twists on favorite movie treats. But when her partner in planning, painter Christine Vandeberg, is found dead only days before the curtain rises, Erin suspects someone is attempting to stop the films from rolling.

To make matters worse, Nick—Erin’s brother and Christine’s beau—has top billing on the suspect list. Convinced her brother is innocent and determined that the show must go on, Erin must find who’s really to blame before Nick gets arrested or the festival gets shut down. And as the anniversary of Erin’s father’s death in a still-unsolved hit-and-run approaches, her own beau isn’t so keen on her leading role.
But the closer Erin gets to shining a spotlight on the killer, the more likely it becomes that she’ll be the next person cut from the program…

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher. 

Connect with her on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.