Monday, January 22, 2018

When You're Too Tired to Cook Diiner



For the past year or so, my life has been more hectic than normal. I confess that some nights I would rather collapse on the sofa than cook dinner. My lazy night (often on Sundays) go-to dinner that is filling, popular at my house, and is even nutritious, is a frittata.

Years ago, I read a recipe for frittata and honestly, that was how I cooked it for years! The distinctive thing about that recipe was that it allowed the frittata to cook on the stove top first until the bottom was set. Then it was popped into the oven for 7 minutes. There's nothing wrong with that. It works perfectly well.

But to my surprise, you don't have to let the bottom set first. You can just put it in the oven whenever you're ready. Of course, it does require a few more minutes of oven time, but that's okay with me.

Consequently, I have been experimenting with, well to be honest, with whatever is in the fridge that needs to be used up. In particular, I have experimented with various cheeses. The one above that puffed so beautifully was made with a soft triple cream cheese. Of all the cheeses I have tried, I think that's my favorite. It's a delicate flavor, though. Some of you may prefer a more robust flavor like a sharp cheddar, which is also very good.

My favorite ingredients (which often need using up anyway), are mushrooms and sliced ham. I almost always add a generous pinch of thyme. It's amazing how much flavor thyme imparts. And, of course, onions. I prefer to use garlic powder in a frittata. It makes a big difference but won't scorch or overpower the dish.

The other thing to remember is not to overwhelm it with ingredients. You only need a little bit of each item. The amount of cheese is up to you. If it's a hard cheese, I slice it with a vegetable peeler so that it melts into the frittata faster. If it's a soft cheese, I cut about 6 or so (1/2 inch by 2 inch) pieces.

Note that olive oil doesn't like high heat and the frittata will go into a 400 degree oven. I generally use Sun Coco Oil from LaTourangelle, which is a blend of sunflower and coconut, but any heat-friendly oil will do.

I don't use a non-stick frying pan. As long as you warm the oil and swirl it around the pan so that it greases the sides, it's not difficult to clean, even if a little bit sticks to the pan.

Sunday Night Frittata

2 tablespoons oil (I use sunflower or coconut or a blend)
roughly 1/3 of an onion
3 mushrooms
sliced ham (roughly 1/4 of a cup)
cheese
generous pinch of thyme
6 eggs
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (according to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400. Slice the onion.

Pour the oil into the pan. When warm, swirl it around to cover the edges well. Add the onion and cook just below medium. Meanwhile, wash and dry mushrooms and slice them. Chop up the ham and slice the cheese. Set aside.

Add the mushrooms and the thyme to the pan, stir and let cook.

Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl (I like to use a 4-cup measuring cup because it's easy to pour the egg mixture). Add the salt, the garlic powder, and pepper. Whisk, whisk, whisk. They should be well combined.

Add the ham to the pan. Pour the eggs over the other items in the pan. Immediately lay the cheese where you want it and press it down a little bit with the tip of a spatula.

Place in the oven for approximately 11-14 minutes or until cooked through. The time will vary with the type of cheese. The top should be done, it should puff up a bit (expect it to deflate when removed from the oven), and nothing should wiggle or look wet.


Saute the eggs first.

Not too many mushrooms!
Don't forget the thyme! If you do, add it to the eggs.

Pour eggs over the ingredients in the pan.


Ready in minutes with almost no effort!
Coming very soon!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

MAKING WINTER WARM AND COZY with Ginger Bolton






A very warm welcome to our friend, Ginger Bolton. Survival of the Fritters is the first in Ginger's new Deputy Donut Mysteries. And I am proud to say that the darling kitten on the cover is loosely based on my Twinkie!

Don't miss Ginger's giveaway at the bottom of the post.







 When I was a kid, about the only time we had donuts was when my father brought them home from a local bakery. What a treat! To me they were an exotic food that I couldn’t imagine making at home.

Then, when I was a teenager, I was reading a cookbook and found a recipe.

Knowing my folks wouldn’t want me to use a lot of oil, I fried my cake donuts in about a half inch of oil The donuts ended up nicely nutmeggy, but almost harder than our teeth.

I had proven that donuts were definitely an exotic food that I again couldn’t imagine making at home.

Well, almost . . . Some of our failures stay in our brains as challenges.

So . . . here’s a way to warm a wintry day: Make donuts shaped like snowflakes, and then eat them.


SNOWFLAKE DONUTS

Ingredients List:

1 7/8 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2  - 1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
½ cup milk
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
Vegetable oil with a smoke point of 400º or higher, or follow your deep fryer manufacturer’s instructions
Confectioners’ sugar

Recipe steps:

In one mixing bowl, stir the dry ingredients with a fork or whisk until blended.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the egg, milk, sugar, and butter.

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir until blended, adding flour if necessary to make the dough firm enough to handle.

Chill the dough for ½ - 1 hour.

With a floured rolling pin, roll dough on a floured board to 1/3 inch think.

Using floured snowflake cookie cutters, cut out the doughnuts. If the cutter has a large solid central section, use a smaller cookie cutter to cut a hole in the center. This will allow the donut to cook evenly.

Place the donuts on silicone baking sheets or floured waxed paper.

Knead the scraps together and roll out and cut more donuts. Continue until all the dough is cut out. Cut the last few with a small round cookie cutter to make donut holes.

Allow the donuts to rest 5 or 10 minutes.

Heat the oil to 360º.

Fry the donuts a few at a time so they’re not crowded. When the first side is golden, turn them over. When the second side is golden, remove them and drain them on paper towels.

While the donuts are still warm, dip their tops in confectioners’ sugar or shake the donuts, 1 at a time, in a paper bag of confectioners’ sugar to coat completely.

Dry ingredients.
Dough firm enough to handle.
Cut with floured cookie cutter.
Fry.

Serve!


Ginger Bolton writes the Deputy Donut mystery series—coffee, donuts, cops, danger, and one curious cat. When Ginger isn't writing or reading, she's crocheting, knitting, sewing, walking her two rescue dogs and generally causing trouble. She’s also fond of donuts, coffee, and cafes were folks gather to enjoy those tasty treats and one another’s company. As Janet Bolin, she wrote the Threadville mystery series.

 Visit Janet at:
http://gingerbolton.com/
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorGingerBolton/
https://twitter.com/ginger_bolton

Survival of the Fritters, the first mystery in the Deputy Donut series, comes out January 30. Comment below for a chance to win a copy.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Garlic Butter Chicken Thighs #Recipe @PegCochran



This is a quick weeknight dinner that packs a lot of flavor so no apologies needed when serving this! Add a vegetable and a starch and dinner is on the table in 30 minutes or less! 

4 bone in skin on chicken thighs
5 cloves garlic crushed
¼ cup butter
1 TBL olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste.


Heat butter and oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat.

Add garlic cloves.  When pan is hot, add chicken skin side down.



Sear until skin is crispy and brown.  Watch the garlic and when it becomes too brown, remove cloves.


Turn chicken and brown other side.  Place pan in oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes .

Serve with garlic butter spooned over each piece.



What's your favorite quick, go-to dinner for busy weeknights?

I'm thrilled to announce that Sowed to Death has been nominated for an RT Reviewer's Choice Award for 
Amateur Sleuth for 2017!!


Barnes & Noble
Amazon

The USA Today bestselling author of Unholy Matrimony is back with a new Lucille Mystery! This time Lucille must track down the killer of a diet guru who had a lot more to lose than just a few extra pounds.

With her best friend Flo’s wedding approaching, Lucille is desperate to trim down and joins Weigh to Lose, a weight-loss program led by a clipboard-wielding harridan who’s as unattractively thin as she is shrill. When the bossy woman turns up dead with her throat slashed and a tasty-looking cannoli stuffed in her mouth, Lucille figures she got her just desserts.



But when the local police come up empty-handed, Lucille sinks her teeth into the mystery and narrows the list of suspects to a husband with a wandering eye, a sexy young Swedish au pair, and a gambler deep in debt to the wrong people. Until one of the suspects becomes the victim of another gruesome murder.



Afraid she’s bitten off more than she can chew and worried that she might be next on the killer’s list, Lucille puts her own neck on the line with a wild plan to trap the culprit and tip the scales of justice.


If you want a very funny murder mystery, then this book is for you. I’ve never laughed so hard while reading before.” —Goodreads, on Unholy Matrimony, Book 2 in the USA Today bestselling Lucille Mystery Series


COMING JULY 31!


NYC 1938.  Featuring Elizabeth "Biz" Adams, debutante turned crime photographer! 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Apple Raisin Cake

I am addicted to The Great British Baking Show, which seems to be on most local PBS stations all the time. I am craving vanilla paste (whatever that is—my market doesn’t have any). I now know what “strong” flour is (higher gluten content). I am particularly enamored of the Slide and Hide ovens from the show—so much so that I’ve installed one in my Irish cottage (but haven’t had a chance to use it yet, sigh).

Don’t we all envy two people who get to eat as many different kinds of baked goods as they choose, and get paid for it? Former hosts Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood (a new cast debuted in England last year) certainly look like they’re enjoying their job (and why don't they each weigh 200 pounds?). And while I will probably never make more than ten percent of the baked goods seen on the show, I’m very happy to know how some of those cakes and biscuits and traybakes are made, so I know what to order when I find the right bakery.

I have Mary’s cookbook 100 Cakes and Bakes, and I’ve made a number of the recipes. This one is a modified version of one of them, adapted for American ingredients.

Apple Raisin Cake

Ingredients:

7-inch high sided round cake tin with removable base
(Okay, in the real world, how many of you have a 7” pan? I used an 8” one. It worked just fine.)




1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
(the last of the Bramley apples I brought from Ireland. They last really well!)

4 oz (1 stick) butter, softened
4 oz (by weight) light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
6 oz (by weight) self-rising flour (note: if you don’t have any, which most of us don’t, you can make your own according to this recipe: sift together 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1-1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. This turned out to be the right amount for this recipe)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 oz (by weight) raisins (if they seem dry you can soak them in boiling water for a short time—be sure to drain them well before adding them to the cake)(oops, my husband ate all the raisins without telling me, so I substituted currants)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the baking tin and line the bottom with parchment paper.




Put the apple slices in a small pan, add a dash of water, and cook util just tender. Mash it up a little with a fork (do not make applesauce!). Set aside and let cool slightly.




In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until blended. 

In another bowl, mix together the warm apples and the baking soda. The mixture will fizz, but don’t worry about that. Add it to the butter/sugar mixture.




Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, nutmeg and cinnamon and add to the butter/sugar mixture. (If you’re wondering where the salt it, remember that it’s in the flour!) Add the raisins (or currants) and fold in with a rubber spatula.




Turn out the mixture into the cake tin and level it.




Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and has begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and finish cooling on a wire rack.







To serve, you may dust it with a bit of confectioner’s sugar.






Reviewers have been very kind! Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say:

In Connolly’s smart sixth County Cork mystery (after 2017’s Cruel Winter), John Byrne, one of the new American owners of a high-class hotel at Crann Mor, and his management team meet with American transplant Maura Donovan at Sullivan’s, the pub she owns in the Irish village of Leap, to discuss arranging for hotel guests to visit the pub. Hours later, John is found dead, having fractured his skull after apparently falling down a hill on the hotel grounds. During the subsequent police investigation, Helen Jenkins, the marketing manager of John’s company, asks to speak to Maura. When Helen confesses to Maura that she’s her long-lost mother, Maura can’t sort out her feelings about the woman who abandoned her more than 20 years earlier, but she also can’t ignore the bond. For her mother’s sake, Maura, who’s been involved in solving crimes before, decides to look into the suspicious circumstances of John’s death. Connolly vividly evokes rural Ireland, and her characters seem like real human beings trying their best to navigate their lives.

Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

www.sheilaconnolly.com


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Coconut Cream Birthday Cake #recipe @lucyburdette




Birthday girls by Bill Carito
Lucy Burdette: I don’t mind sharing a birthday celebration, in fact I like it. I trace this back to my experience growing up. My older sister Sue (older by 11 months, two weeks) and I shared our January celebrations. We often had a joint party, though maybe we had individual cakes on the actual day? I don't remember for sure.

This year and last year, I was pleased to share birthdays with my friend Barbara Ross, who reaches all the milestones eight days before I do. This year I promised to make this coconut cake. However, I got sick and couldn’t attend the dinner nor make the cake. My solution was to make a cake for our two birthdays together. The rub was, I had a good old friend visiting who loathes coconut. So I made a coconut cream cake, only sprinkling the coconut on the icing so I could leave a little section coconut free. (You will note the little toothpicks which are used to remind myself not to put coconut on this triangle of cake. It turns out at this age, I can agree to do something with myself and forget it instantly, so I decided a physical reminder would help.)


This cake is found in Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott. I changed a few things around, like making the coconut unsweetened – the cake was plenty sweet anyway. And I added some chopped strawberries between the layers and strawberries on top for color and decorations. When I put the batter into the pan, I was worried. It did not fill up the pans as many batters do. It also came out looking quite flat. But after the whipped cream and strawberries and coconut were added, it was beautiful, and everyone agreed, delicious!
Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder, low-sodium for me
1/4 teaspoon salt
Three eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whipping cream

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
Shredded or flaked organic coconut
Strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease the pans, followed by inserting rounds of parchment paper. Stir together the dry ingredients. Beat the eggs with 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat the cream to stiff peaks, using a KitchenAid or handheld mixer. 

three sets of ingredients
And the egg/vanilla mixture and beat that in briefly. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the flour disappears.
nice fluffy batter


Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned and the cake springs back when touched.

uh-oh, not covering bottom of pan


Cool the cakes completely. (I made these the day before and covered them with plastic wrap.)

a little skinny


Beat the cream with confectioner's sugar until stiff. 



Spread whipped cream on the bottom layer, sprinkle this with coconut flakes and chopped strawberries. 

Settle the second layer on top and again, sprinkle with coconut and decorate with strawberries.
note the toothpicks demarcating coconut-free zone

Make sure to refrigerate if you are not serving this right away, and refrigerate leftovers if you have any. I can’t emphasize how good this cake tasted and how fast it disappeared!



Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...DEATH ON THE MENU will be in bookstores on August 7! Here's a pre-order the book link from Amazon--and here's a link to preorder a hard copy from RJ Julia in CT, where you'll be able to get a signed copy. I'll post others as they appear. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Gluten-free Pumpkin Scones from author @DarylWoodGerber




From Daryl:

I know it’s not fall and pumpkin baking season is “over,” but I also wear white after Labor Day, and I had a craving for pumpkin, plus I had a leftover can of the stuff! What to do?

Well, last fall, I saw pumpkin scones at Starbuck’s and had to have them, except I couldn’t because they weren’t gluten-free. So then I went online searching for a similar recipe and found these from GlutenFreeBaking.  Now, as you know, I tweak or give my own versions of recipes. I like certain GF flours in my baked goods. I also have found that adding a bit MORE baking powder has added all sorts of life to my treats.

The trick to scones is to eat them fast.

Ha! Not kidding. They harden up—even those made with regular flour—pretty quickly. So make sure you have enough mouths to feed.

For those of you who can eat regular flour, just substitute regular flour for this combo of gluten-free flours (2 cups) and omit the xanthan gum. I think you could also cut the baking powder to 2 teaspoons and do just fine.

GLUTEN-FREE PUMPKIN SCONES

For the Scones
1 cup (4 ounces) sweet rice flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) potato flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) tapioca flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup (4 ounces) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons half and half
1 large egg

For the Vanilla Glaze
1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar (plus more if necessary)
1 tablespoon half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pumpkin Glaze
1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar (plus more if necessary)
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon half and half
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In large bowl or food processor, whisk together sweet rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and granulated sugar.

Using a food processor or a pastry cutter, cut butter into dry ingredients until no large pieces of butter remain. Mixture should resemble a coarse cornmeal.

In small bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, half and half, and egg.

Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients. Stir (or pulse in a food processor) until a wet dough forms.

Turn dough out onto the prepared baking sheet. Wet your hands then, pat the dough into a circle about 1/2-inch thick.

Use a sharp “wet” knife (I run mine under the hot water tap) and cut or “score” the dough into 8 or 12 wedges. Do NOT pull apart. Leave as a circle.

Bake the round of scones until golden brown, about 16-18 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Quickly cut wedges again. Sometimes they stick together during baking. Allow scones to cool on the pan.

Note: when I cut mine, they were still sort of gooey, so I returned them to the oven (with foil over the top so they wouldn’t get too brown) and cooked another 5 minutes to “dry” the insides. You be the judge.

Prepare the vanilla glaze.

Stir together powdered sugar, half and half, and vanilla in a small bowl. The glaze should drip easily from a spoon. The recipe on the website says if it doesn't, add an additional teaspoon of half and half to the glaze.   (Ahem…I had to add a LOT more powdered sugar to this because it was too runny. I’m not sure why. Maybe the weather?)

Place a wire cooling rack over a piece of parchment paper to catch any drippings from the glaze.  Set the scones on top of the rack.

Spoon the glaze evenly over the cooled scones. Allow the glaze to harden.

Now prepare the pumpkin glaze.

In small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree, half and half, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Glaze should be thick.  (Again, I had to add a LOT more powdered sugar to this because it was too runny. Not sure why!!)


Transfer glaze to a piping bag. Drizzle glaze over each scone. If you don't have a piping bag, place glaze into a plastic sandwich bag and snip one of the corners to make a bag or thin glaze with half and half and drizzle from a fork onto scones.  FYI, this can be really messy. Be prepared to lick fingers or wash them often. LOL










Here's a bit about my latest book:


Mimi Rousseau is throwing the bistro’s first wedding—the nuptials of a famous talk show host. She is sure things will go awry when the bride’s father shows up drunk to the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the end of the evening, things look sweet again…until the next morning, when her benefactor is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. All fingers point at Mimi, whose loan is forgiven if he dies. It’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat.


"Talk about a culinary delight, this book is the pinnacle of deliciousness as I devoured all that was written in this exciting new series featuring Mimi and her friends." ~ Dru's Book Musings

Savor the mystery!

*
Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
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Plus check out my website.

A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the 1st in the French Bistro Mysteries, is coming November 2017. Can Mimi clear her name before the killer turns up the heat? Click here to order.




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
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




DAY OF SECRET 
my new stand-alone suspense
A mother he thought was dead. A father he never knew. 
An enemy that wants them dead.
Click here to order.