Monday, October 20, 2014

Kittinis and Mousies

Name: Little Miss Sunshine aka Sunshine aka Sunny aka Chloe
Turn-ons: Stepping on the iTunes key on the keyboard
                 Sleeping in boxes
                 Climbing ladders
                 Playing with water
                 Opening cabinets
                 Hiding in the Christmas tree Mochie, how do you erase on this thing?
Hobbies: Snooping Investigating, Birdwatching
Favorite toy: Rubber bands
Favorite foods: Mousies, bread, and tuna
Archenemy: What's that?

Hi. I'm Sunny. At the veterinary hospital where I met my mom, Krista Davis, they called me Chloe. I rather liked that name but then, I like being called Sunshine, too. My mom sings (very badly) a song to me about being her sunshine. It's kind of sweet, if a little pathetic.

Since it's cat week, I'm filling in for Mom today. If you're a cat, you probably know that the Manual of Feline Decorum requires that we run the household without letting anyone know that's what we're doing. It's a tough job but someone has to do it. Our poor people and (snort) dogs are so clueless that they would be lost without us. You'll see what I mean later.

Right about now The Maffini Princesses are probably getting their hackles up. Oh, relax! It would do you good to have a cat around.

The Maffini Princesses in disguise. They can't fool me!

My brother Mochie, who is about to turn 18 in human years! I think that's like 800 in cat years.

Lucky for me, my brother Mochie trained our mom for years before I arrived. When he wants food, he lifts his food dish and drops it so that it clatters. It's the most amazing thing - Mom comes running every time! Hehehe. Sometimes I think he does it just to test her. There are rumors of her being trained by another calico named Fang before Mochie came on the scene. They say Fang broke her of the notion that cats should use the human toilet. I'm grateful for that!

In honor of cat week, my mom made Kittinis and mousies. She calls my brother and me kittinis, so that's what she named this cocktail that she designed just for us.


1 cat-size martini glass
1 can unsalted tuna fish
1 sprig fresh catnip

Pour 1-2 teaspoons of juice from the tuna can into the martini glass. Garnish with fresh catnip.

Kittini ingredients.

Catnip garnish!!! Purrrr.

Who doesn't love a Kittini?

I'm embarrassed for my mom, but this is an example of how helpless humans are. I thought everyone knew that mousies should be served raw, like steak tartare. I was pretty excited when Mom said she was making mousies for cat week. Sigh. Frankly, these would never fool a cat. They might look like mousies but they don't smell like them or taste like them. They're really not even good for batting practice.

not for cats or dogs

1 pan moist brownies (I used The Best Brownies)
1 1/2 to 2 cups chocolate chips
pearl sugar (for eyes)
black licorice (for tails)
sliced almonds (for ears)

Melt  chocolate chips in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Roll cooled brownies into mouse shapes. Dip in chocolate, remove with a fork to a sheet of parchment paper. Pierce the rear with a toothpick and insert licorice tail. Add almonds for ears and pearl sugar for eyes. Allow to dry. Keep refrigerated.

Mom was upset when she realized that the licorice wouldn't untwist. In the end, we kind of liked the kinky tails, but if you ask me or Mochie, they still weren't proper mousies.

I have never climbed a window screen. I don't know who that is in the picture.

I'm an expert at hiding.

Oh dear! Have the Maffini Princesses come to visit?

Pose for you? If I must, but only on the mantel, with the breakable decorations.
Did you know that I'm in a book? My name has been changed to Twinkletoes to protect my reputation. But everyone knows I'm the inspiration for Twinkletoes! In THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER, I even helped find the body. I told you people need our help. That's me with Trixie on the cover.

The book won't be out until December 2nd, but mom said I can give away an advance reading copy to one person who leaves a comment here by midnight October 21st. It has an ugly orange cover, but the story inside is the same. So leave a comment with your email address so I can contact you if you win!

Blogging is exhausting. Must . . . nap . . . now . . .

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Langues de Chat

Or Cat's Tongues 
by Peg Cochran

I got my first cat when I was around seven years old.  Predictably, since she was orange and white striped, she was named Tiger. Many cats followed.  Somehow a cat always ended up on our doorstep during a howling snow storm and my mother would let them in "just so she could give them something to eat."  Of course they stayed.  Somehow they were also always female and pregnant.

I remember one in particular that was a beautiful Persian and had the most adorable kittens--half were balls of fluff, the other two were short-haired.  All these stray cats always had the name of "Puss."  Our dog was Boots so we had Puss and Boots. 
Fast forward: Our latest cat, Frazzle, went over the rainbow bridge a couple of
Frazzle with younger brother Reg
months ago.  My stepson found her in a dumpster and she looked as if she'd stuck her paw in an electrical socket so she looked quite "frazzled" hence the name.  According to the vet she was a dilute calico.  She was a strange cat--scaring herself with her own tail and once even chasing herself off the kitchen counter with it!

These cookies are called "langues de chat" or cat's tongues because that is what they resemble.  Cat's tongues are fascinating--they have tiny, backward-facing barbs (papillae) on them which create the rough sensation you feel.  For some more fascinating facts about cats' tongues, visit Interesting Facts About Your Cat's Tongue.
My granddaughter & grand cat Roy

On to the cookies!  The batter is simple to make and only takes minutes.  To pipe out the cookies, either use a pastry bag with a medium star tip, a heavy duty baggie with the corner snipped off or a cookie press.  I used the baggie method.  I am sure they would be more "perfect" if I'd used a pastry bag but they were still delicious!

1 stick butter (1/4 pound)
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg whites
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add in flour and vanilla and mix well.  Fill a pastry bag with the batter and pipe three inch lines on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Leave plenty of room for the cookies to expand.

Bake in a 400 degree oven *approximately* ten minutes or until golden brown around the edges.  Baking time varies tremendously depending on your oven, the thickness of your cookies, etc. so these are the kind of cookies you need to keep a close eye on while baking!

 Cream butter and sugar until light.

Add egg whites, flour and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Cookies can be dipped in chocolate--or you can "glue" two together with jam or melted chocolate--or you can eat them plain! 

Cookies are perfect with tea or coffee and a good cozy!  

You can pick up a copy of ICED to DEATH from my Gourmet De-Lite series here.
Or a copy of UNHOLY MATRIMONY from my Lucille Series here.  
Visit my website or my Facebook page.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Crab Cakes #Recipe for #Cat Week--and a #Haiku @LucyBurdette


 CAT HAIKU by Lucy Burdette, in honor of Yoda on Cat Week!

White whiskers on gray
Purr box sputtering to life
What else but Cat Week

LUCY BURDETTE: You might reasonably ask, what the heck is Cat Week? And why is it happening at Mystery Lovers Kitchen? 

Cats are smart and secretive and mysterious and quiet stalkers--and yet so adorable that we forgive them anything. And so they go together with cozies like butter with hot biscuits, or chocolate cake with cold milk, or fresh tomatoes with basil and olive oil… You get the picture!

I've had a cat in my life ever since the year I turned 13. I was desperate for a date with Mickey Dolenz for my birthday, but my mother was smart enough to give me a kitten instead. (Yoda, seen above doing his best trick, is our current feline denizen.) All my fictional characters have had cats too--Cassie had Cashbox, and Dr. Rebecca Butterman had Spencer, and Hayley has Evinrude, of course!

We're each putting our own special spin on Cat Week, but to my mind this theme cried out for a fishy recipe. Yoda the cat loves tuna fish, so I thought he would love crab meat too. And that would give me the chance to snap a photo of him eating daintily from a treasured crystal goblet that belonged to my mother. Right?



He's a cat after all, so this is the closest he came to posing.


 Now on to the recipe...

Yoda's Crab Cakes


One pound crab meat, picked over to remove bits of shell

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

Two scallions, finely minced

One half small hot pepper, minced

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

 1/4 teaspoon red and black cracked pepper

About 4 tablespoons mayonnaise 

 One egg, well beaten

Mix the first seven ingredients, from crab meat to pepper. Then begin adding a tablespoon of mayonnaise at a time until the mixture seems wet enough for you. Add the beaten egg. 

Shape the crab mixture into cakes. This should make about eight. 

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add four crab cakes at a time. Sauté them until brown, then flip and continue to sauté the other side. 

Keep the first crab cakes warm while you are preparing the next four. Serve with cocktail sauce (one part horseradish to two parts ketchup) and coleslaw.


 Purrfectly delicious!

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mysteries. Murder with Ganache is in stores now.

Death with All the Trimmings will be on bookshelves December 2. Pre-order it here.

 Yoda the cat says: "Buy the darn books so she can get off my case and keep me in catnip." 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Spicy Fish

by Sheila Connolly

Redfish was back this week in my market (okay, flash-frozen then thawed). I loved working with it for my recent Blackened Redfish recipe, because it stands up well to cooking and has a pleasant flavor. The filets are small, but that means they cook fast, so it’s a quick and easy dinner dish.

A pound of filets

 Spicy Fish

4 Tblsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced

1 cup flour
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tblsp dry mustard
1 Tblsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp curry powder

2 Tblsp cooking oil

1 lb fish filets (skinned)
Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tblsp lemon juice

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat until the garlic just begins to brown (about 3 minutes—do not burn!). Place in a small bowl and set aside to cool for an hour.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and spices.

In a cast-iron skillet, heat the cooking oil over medium-high.

Dredge the fish filets in the flour-spice mixture and shake off the excess. Season with salt and black pepper. Place the filets in the pan and cook until they begin to brown lightly (1-2 minutes). Turn the filets in the pan, then immediately remove the pan from the heat and let the filets rest in the pan for about a minute.

Remember that garlic-flavored oil? Whisk it with the lemon juice to make a kind of vinaigrette, the spoon it over the fish when you serve—it really brightens up the flavor.

I decided to serve orzo on the side, but that would have made a rather blah plate of food. So I took some cauliflower and broccoli and a red pepper that I had on hand and cut them fine, then steamed them in the microwave while I cooked the orzo (which takes longer than you’d think), then blended them at the last minute. Love the colors!

Told you it was easy!

It's been a busy month, with not one but two new books!

Picked to Die is the latest in the Orchard Mystery series. You can find it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Seeing the Dead is the sequel to last year's Relatively Dead, and it looks like it's now part of a series (ebook only). Look for it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Birthday Pound Cake with Peaches @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE:  I had the delightful assignment of making a birthday cake for an 80th birthday party a couple of weeks ago. When I asked what flavor the birthday boy would like, here's what he said: fruity, juicy, chocolate-y, any or all!


That leaves the door wide open, right?  I wanted something that would leave leftovers and provide a foil for the last of our stunning fall peaches. But special enough for a wonderful man. Company pound cake came to mind...

You can find a recipe for a pound cake in just about any general or dessert cookbook. They all have lots of butter, eggs, and sugar in common. But a few things make this one different.

I borrowed the sour cream idea from Southern Living, and then added my favorite flavoring combination--vanilla and almond. The eggs I used were extra-large and that made for a very fluffy cake. Be sure to butter the bunt pan liberally. And consider using the sprinkled sugar technique that Krista (?) introduced a couple of months ago. I didn't remember until too late and so the cake came out a little patchy. In the good news department, that allowed me some little pieces to sample:).


    •    1 1/2 cups butter, softened
    •    3 cups sugar
    •    6 large eggs
    •    3 cups all-purpose flour
    •    1/2 teaspoon salt
    •    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    •    1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
    •    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    •    1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    •    6-8 ripe peaches, peeled, sliced and mixed with a teaspoon or so of sugar


Prepare the peaches and let them sit at room temperature while you make the cake. Beat the butter until soft, either with a hand or stand mixer. Slowly add the sugar, continuing to beat until light and fluffy. 

Beat the extracts and the eggs in, one by one, mixing after each until yolks disappear.


Sift the dry ingredients together, and then add this mixture to the batter, alternating with sour cream. Begin and end with the dry.


Pour into a greased and floured 12-cup tube pan.


I know, it's kind of ugly:)

Bake at 325 for about an hour and ten minutes. Check the doneness with a wooden skewer. Cool on a wire rack for ten minutes, then turn the cake out onto a plate. 

but who cares once the peaches are loaded on!

Serve with sliced peaches.

The birthday boy still has what it takes--we love you Joe!

MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth Key West mystery, is in stores now. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be out in December.

 Follow Lucy on Facebook

And Twitter

And Pinterest.

And don't forget, DEADLY ADVICE, the first advice column mystery (written as Roberta Isleib) is finally available as an ebook.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sunflower Seed Brittle #recipe from Stirring the Plot by @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl aka Avery:

Hooray. Great news. Thanks to all of my fans, Stirring the Plot is a national bestseller! While it did not hit the NYTimes list (not sure quite how to pull that off!), it hit the Barnes and Noble mass market mystery at #6 and Bookscan at #14. Wahoo! So thanks, to one and all!

In Stirring the Plot, I've included a number of Halloween-ish recipes. What could be better during the month of October, right? The story centers around the Halloween season. I had so much fun researching recipes. I tested dozens of candies and orange-y recipes. I read lots of cookbooks with Halloween treats. The Betty Crocker Halloween cookbook was particularly fun to peruse. Great for kids!

However, right now, I'm going to let Jenna, the protagonist in the series, tell you more about this deletable and EASY recipe. {She and her pals often leave comments with the recipes included in the books.}

From Jenna:

I found a brittle recipe in a cookbook with the incredibly long title: Ghoulish Goodies: Creature Feature Cupcakes, Monster Eyeballs, Bat Wings,Funny Bones, Witches’ Knuckles, and Much More!, but I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I experimented and came up with this recipe. The author of the recipe mentioned that tons of recipes for candy brittle include a big baking soda addition, which can make the hot sugar puff up too much and get sort of cloudy looking. The puffiness looks cool, but the candy doesn’t have the crispness that brittle-lovers crave. So, note that this recipe doesn’t have a ton of baking soda. Also note, you need a candy thermometer. Luckily, I had one because my aunt was wise enough to furnish my little kitchen with one. She knew I had a sweet tooth. The recipe is easy. The candy flavor is divine.

Sunflower Seed Brittle

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup sunflower seeds (shell-less)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with butter. Put on oven mitts.

In a large saucepan (heavy, if you have it), combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly while the sugar dissolves. Cook until the mixture comes to a full boil. This will take about 3-5 minutes.

Slip the candy thermometer along the side of the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue to boil without stirring until the temperature reaches 260 degrees on the candy thermometer. This will take about 10-12 minutes. [Note: the temp gets to 200 fast…but then be patient.]
Sorry this is blurry. Hard to photograph while stirring!

Remove the pan from heat to stir in the butter and sunflower seeds with a wooden or heatproof spoon.  [Don’t use a plastic spoon; it could melt.] Return the pan to the heat and continue to cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches 295 degrees on the candy thermometer. This takes about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and quickly stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Be careful; the vanilla will spatter. Yipes!

Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it as thinly as possible, using the back of the wooden spoon or spatula, and let the brittle stand until completely cool. 

Break the candy into serving pieces [I gently whack with a mallet…] and store the candy in a plastic zip-style bag. Remember to squeeze out the air before sealing. The candy holds for up to 2 weeks, if you can keep from eating it that long.


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Check out our website.

STIRRING THE PLOT is available for order: order here.

Next up:
6th Cheese Shop mystery, February 2015

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