Monday, November 30, 2015

Eggnog French Toast

This is Horizon's fault. It's their recipe. I know what you're thinking - they didn't force me to make this recipe. Actually they did. It's on the side of their Eggnog container and every time I opened the refrigerator, there it was in front of me: Eggnog French Toast. Do you know how many times I opened the fridge over Thanksgiving?


They say that if someone sees something over and over 6, 7, or 8 times (depending on the study you read), it will be scorched on their tiny little grey cells. By the time Thanksgiving was over, I knew I would be making Eggnog French Toast.

To be fair, their recipe is actually for Eggnog French Toast Waffles. I'm sure that's every bit as good.

Just for you, I tried a couple of different things. First I made it with ordinary loaf bread. It was okay. Then, because I didn't have orange peel, I added 1/2 teaspoon of Grand Marnier and used thick slices of Challah. The Grand Marnier and Challah combination won. In spite of still being full from our Thanksgiving feast, we gobbled it up like little piggies.

It wasn't even close. The texture and thickness of the Challah made for far superior French toast. And the Grand Marnier, while barely there, added just the little extra touch of flavor that it needed. It passed everyone's inspection with high marks.

Shh. Don't tell. It's soooo easy! I love that all the flavor is already in the "milk." That saves time when it's a busy morning but you need something special for guests. This recipe is super easy to divide in thirds. I made 2/3 of the recipe, enough for four slices and it's a really good thing I didn't make more because we would have eaten them! You could even make 1/3 of the recipe for a two slice midnight snack. Maybe after Santa has assembled all the toys and put them under the tree?

Eggnog French Toast
based on Horizon's recipe

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup eggnog
3 eggs
pinch salt
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (or 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest )
6 thick slices Challah
canola or sunflower oil
powdered sugar
maple syrup

Melt the butter and set aside.  Whisk together the eggnog, eggs, salt, Grand Marnier, and cooled butter. Place the bread slices in the eggnog mixture and allow each side to soak it up. Heat the pan to medium and add the oil. Cook each slice until golden on both sides, adding oil as necessary. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with maple syrup and/or fresh fruit.

Whisk everything. So easy!

Did you hear that MURDER MOST HOWL is out? Didn't get a copy yet? I'll be choosing two winners from the people who leave comments. Your choice, MURDER MOST HOWL or THE DIVA STEALS A CHOCOLATE KISS. Don't forget to leave your email address so I can notify you!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Welcome Laura DiSilverio!

It's our pleasure to welcome Laura DiSilverio back to Mystery Lovers Kitchen. Laura writes the Book Club Mysteries. THE READAHOLICS AND THE POIROT PUZZLE is the second book in the series.

Don't miss Laura's fun giveaways! Not only is she giving away a book but also an adorable Readaholic T-shirt. Leave a comment to enter and don't forget to leave your email address so she can contact you!

As a child, I despised eggplant, but as I've aged (ahem, matured), I've grown to love it. Not only is it tasty and hearty enough to be a main dish, it's good for you, being low in sodium, cholesterol and calories, high in fiber, and containing Vitamin K, B6, thiamine and manganese. My two favorite dishes are a creole eggplant that I adapted from a Joy of Cooking recipe many eons ago, and eggplant parmesan which I added to my repertoire last month. (I have no idea why it took me so long to try making a dish I've always enjoyed at Italian restaurants.)

Eggplant Creole

So, here's my version of the eggplant creole. You'll need the following ingredients:

Small to medium eggplant, peeled or not (your preference--I leave the peel on for more fiber), chopped (The Martha Stewarts in the crowd may want to save the eggplant shell to use as the "baking and serving dish" for the eggplant creole--I usually just bake it in the saucepan I use to mix it together.)
2 Tbs olive oil
4-6 strips of bacon, cooked, and chopped
1/2 c minced onion
1/4 c chopped green pepper
1 (14.5 oz or thereabouts) can diced tomatoes
1/4 diced celery
1/2 c canned or fresh mushrooms, sautéed with butter, garlic and wine (optional)
1/3 c bread crumbs (I use Italian seasoned, but you can use plain or with other seasonings)
1/2-2/3 c shredded cheese

Sauté the onion and bacon in the olive oil in an oven-proof pan until the onion is translucent. Add the eggplant and everything except the tomatoes and sauté for approx 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer until the eggplant is tender (I usually let it cook for 30 minutes or so). Toss in the bread crumbs and stir until thickened. Add mushrooms. Top with cheese of your choice (I use cheddar but mozzarella is good, too), mixed with more bread crumbs.  Pop into a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has browned. I serve it over rice. Yum!

The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle, the second in the Book Club series, comes out Dec 8th. (Pre-order now!) Amy-Faye has organized the grand opening event for her brother Derek's brewpub, but the party fizzles when a body turns up. Turns out someone tossed Derek's business partner Gordon off the roof and the police think Derek did it. The Readaholics scramble to find the real murderer, investigating Gordon's ex-wives and unhappy family members, scorned women and former employees nursing a grudge. Since they're reading Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, the idea of a conspiracy can't help but pop into their heads (especially Maud's, their resident conspiracy theorist). Amy-Faye wants to solve this case quickly since it's going to put a real strain on her budding relationship with Detective Lindell Hart if he arrests her brother . . .

Laura DiSilverio is the national bestselling author of 15 mystery and suspense novels, and a retired Air Force intelligence officer. Her first standalone suspense novel, The Reckoning Stones, debuted in September and was a Library Journal Pick of the Month (starred review). Her  Book Club Mystery series kicked off in April 2015 and the second in that series, The Readaholics and the Poirot Puzzle, is out Dec 8. A Past President of Sisters in Crime, she pens articles for Writer’s Digest, and teaches writing in various fora. She plots murders and parents teens in Colorado, trying to keep the two tasks separate.

 Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address to enter the giveaway for a copy of Laura's book and the Readaholic T-shirt!

Saturday, November 28, 2015



Don’t know about you, but our turkey’s already been made into sandwiches and now is soup in the freezer. We do not have the urge for more poultry today.  But Pasta sounds perfect on a blustery fall day.

We love an easy pasta dinner, but we don’t always feel like meat or tomato sauce.  This variation has become a new favorite around here.  Best of all, most of it is made with staples.  We usually have prosciutto and when the mushrooms look good, we snap them up.  Of course, you can vary this dish with different veggies and could use ham or bacon too instead of prosciutto.   It’s easy and fast.  We did a bit of chopping, but team work made short work of that.  Nudge. Wink.

As with many of our made-up recipes that evolve over time, this one gives you lots of leeway with amounts and ingredients.  Go ahead and add garlic if you like, but every now and then we like a break from it.


All you need is:

½ pound fettuccine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
4 slices thin-cut prosciutto (or bacon or ham if that works instead)
1 lb mixed mushrooms, sliced (we used white and brown mushrooms – next time we’ll try some others) we saved time with pre-sliced, but you must suit yourself.
2 whole jarred peppers, sliced (or 1 fresh red pepper, seeded and sliced in strips)
1/2 cup frozen peas
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp chopped parsley (or 1 tbsp from a tube, our favorite way to cut corners)
S & P to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan PLUS more for serving

Here we go!

Put on the water for the pasta.
Heat oil in a large skillet.  Slice prosciutto into strips.

When oil is hot, reduce heat to medium and sauté strips and green onion until onion is softened and prosciutto is crisp.  Remove to a plate.
Add salt (to suit yourself) to boiling water and cook pasta until just al dente according to package direction.  This is about 10 minutes for our pasta and pasta cooker.  

Heat butter until foaming.  Sauté mushrooms and parsley on medium for 8 – 10 minutes.  If you are using fresh peppers, cook with mushrooms.

Add peas and lemon juice to veggies and return the prosciutto strips to the skillet.

Season with S and P to suit your taste and diet.  
When pasta is al dente, drain and add to the skillet stirring to distribute veggies.

Add ¼ Parmesan and  mix in well.  
Serve and add extra grated Parmesan to each plate.  You can go upscale and grate fresh Parmesan for each plate. That kicks it up a notch.


That mysterious figure known as "Victoria" "Abbott" is really us: artist and photographer Victoria Maffini and her mother, Mary Jane, author three other mystery series and  two dozen short stories.



Get to know us in our mysterious and sometimes mapcap world of the Book Collector Mysteries, where book collecting can be deadly.  Like the others, the latest,our latest, The  Marsh Madness is available in print, ebook and audio. 

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Ginger Cake

by Sheila Connolly

All right, I’ll confess: I am officially addicted to The Great British Baking Show on PBS. I did my best to resist it—I kept seeing the TV listing go by and telling myself I didn’t need to watch one more contrived cooking show where judges make snotty remarks and some poor non-winner ends up near tears. I tried, really. And then I watched one episode (not even the first of the season!) and I was hooked.

I’m a sucker for anything baked. The problem is, many of the recipes the contestants make on that show are complex, and while I admire them tremendously for even trying, I don’t feel compelled to try to make them myself (but I did once make Spotted Dick!). At least I recognized most of them, and I will happily order them at any restaurant or bakery.

But I felt bad that I didn’t recognize either of the judges. In case you’ve never watched the show (your loss!), there are two official judges: Mary Berry, the doyenne of British cookbooks, and Paul Hollywood (really?), who is defined as a “top artisan baker,” whatever that means. There are also two contestant wranglers, Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, who apparently have done a whole lot of successful things together that we on this side of the pond have never heard of.

I was ashamed that I had never heard of Mary Berry, who apparently has been writing cookbooks almost as long as I’ve been around. So of course I ordered one (on baking) immediately. But then I went trolling online for some of her recipes, and found one that she declared that one of her favorites was one that her mother used to make for tea: Ginger and Treacle Spiced Traybake. It sounded tasty (and it has ginger frosting!).

Then I tried to translate the English terms and amounts. Ha. I did add a scale to my kitchen equipment not too long ago, so part of that problem is covered. But the ingredients can be a bit mind-boggling. Muscovado sugar? I think it’s like dark brown sugar. Maybe. Ground mixed spice? Huh? (Don’t panic—I found a recipe! It’s pretty much what you’d expect, but it includes coriander too).

And then there was “stem ginger from a jar.” Right. Had to look that one up! As near as I can tell, it’s crystallized ginger steeped in ginger syrup. Don’t think I’ll find that in my local grocery store! But, miracle of miracles, I had on hand both crystallized ginger and ginger syrup. (Now you know why I buy weird ingredients when I see them.) So I combined them.

Then on to the making of the recipe. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan 160/Gas 4. Uh, Fahrenheit, anyone? (Would you believe that I have the conversion formula tacked to the corkboard over my desk? And the answer is…350!) Then grease a 12x9 traybake. Okay, I can handle that. It’s a baking tin. Got it.

So here is Mary’s recipe, with a few tweaks for those of us who don’t have all these lovely ingredients lurking in our pantry.

Ginger Spice Cake (inspired by Mary Berry)


1/2 lb (8 oz) butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup treacle (this comes in dark and light—the dark stuff is pretty intense, if you can’t find it in your stores, substitute dark molasses) (Note: this is sticky stuff, whichever you use. To measure accurately, Mary suggested measuring your sugar, the placing the container on a scale and adding the treacle until you reach the right weight.)

2-1/2 cups white flour
3 tsp baking powder
Dash of salt
1 tsp mixed spice (I had to make my own—if you can’t find or make any, just add cinnamon, cloves, etc.)
4 large eggs (at room temperature)
4 Tblsp milk
3 finely-chopped bulbs of stem ginger from a jar (see above)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9” X 12” baking tin, and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Cream and butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the bowl, and beat until well blended. Pour the batter into the baking pan and level the top with a spatula. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake begins to shrink from the sides and is springy when you touch it. (Do not overcook or it will dry out.) Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn it out on a rack to finish cooling.


1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tblsp ginger syrup that the ginger has been steeping in
3 Tblsp chopped stem ginger

To make the icing, sift the sugar into a bowl and add the ginger syrup. Mix until it reaches spreading consistency. Pour it over the cooled cake.

Chopped ginger
Sprinkle with the chopped ginger. Let the icing set for a bit before trying to cut it.

The results? This is more of tea cake than a dessert cake. It probably could have used more chopped ginger, but I was improvising. I may order the real stuff and see what it's like.

Meg and Seth are getting married (in case you haven't heard) in "their" restaurant in Granford. The alpacas were not invited, but just about everyone else in town was. Well, maybe not the ex-con...

A Gala Event is available now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and other bookstores.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Mystery Lovers Kitchen! #HappyThanksgiving #Thanksgiving

From Daryl aka Avery:  This year, I am grateful for the love of my family and the support of my friends. As much as writing means to me, my family and friends will always mean more. Thanksgiving - and, let's face it, all year long - is a time to reflect on the good in our lives, on the important. The little things vanish. The big picture matters.  Wishing all of you a happy, blessed Thanksgiving season and rest of the year!  And here's a sweet recipe, one of my favorites, to thank all of you for being our fans.  HOLIDAY CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

* * *

From Lucy: I'm so grateful for family and friends and pets and a wonderfully interesting job! As you've probably heard, we had some losses in our family this year, plus a health crisis--all of this made bearable by the support of people I love and who love me. And I include readers and online friends of course! So thank you--and hope you have a wonderful celebration this year. Here is my favorite appetizer, HOT PEPPER JELLY CHEESE PUFFS. They are not hard to make and once you put them out, they'll get snatched off the plate!

                                      * * *

From Sheila: I'm grateful for a job, if writing can be called a job rather than an avocation, that lets me meet so many wonderful people and find friends (such as those at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen), and travel to interesting places, and eat a lot of good food (research, you know). I live only a few miles from Plymouth, where it all began, and after a few New England winters you have to appreciate the hardships those Pilgrims faced and overcame. How strong they must have been! We honor them each year through our Thanksgiving feast, surrounded by family and friends. Since it's a hectic time of year, here's my new favorite quick and easy appetizer, Parmesan Shortbread.

* * *

From Leslie: I'm a firm believer in practicing gratitude every day. The simple habit of thinking, even writing down, three to five things that I'm grateful for in the day---from a yummy breakfast to a sweet conversation with my elderly mother---calms me, and helps me keep life's challenges in perspective. (The habit isn't just for mornings. On the occasional sleepless night, I try to think of everything I'm grateful for during the day just passed, starting at the very beginning. Nothing is too minor. I rarely get past breakfast. If I get to the end of the day, still awake, I get up!)

But as the newest member of the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, I would be remiss not to say "thank you" to my lovely blog sisters for including me in the fun, and for all of you readers, who give us the gift of your time and attention when you read our books and when you visit with us here. My thank you is a snack that will be a hit at any party you throw or attend, and makes a great gift, tied up in a holiday-themed bag and tied with a ribbon: Spiced Glazed Nuts and Pretzel Mix.

* * *

From Cleo: Life is like a cup of coffee. Take time to refill! The holiday season is a beautiful time of year, but it can also be stressful and even painful for those of us who have suffered losses. Some of us may be vexed by financial or work-related worries, by family strife or health problems. That's why Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, because it reminds us all to stop and take time, no matter our burdens, no matter our worries, stop and take time to give thanks for the blessings we do have, but also to enjoy a feast from our labors, to sip that cup of coffee that we so diligently brewed. 

Marc and I sincerely wish you all a beautiful holiday season. We hope you will take the time you deserve to slow down and truly feel peace and joy in your hearts, starting with today, a day of Thanksgiving, a day to count our blessings...and eat with joy.

May you drink with joy, too. And I'm happy to help with this Pumpkin Spice Latte. This drink is absolutely delicious and better than many coffeehouses will make for you because this recipe includes real pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices instead of the artificial flavoring in pumpkin syrup that's often used in coffee shop lattes. So, after all your feasting and Black Friday shopping, when you're quiet and cozy inside your warm house, whip this up, put you feet up, and savor a sip of the season!

* * *

From Krista: I heard recently that every day brings something good. Of course, that's true. It's the terrible things that sometimes overshadow them. I am so very blessed to still have my elderly mother. I'm grateful that my dogs, cats, and I made it through four (count them, four!) surgeries and one near death experience in the last 12 months. I've had enough of surgeries to do me for years, thank you! I'm also so very grateful for my readers. They bring me such joy and always inspire me.

And every single day I'm grateful that I was born in a country that values freedom and allows us to follow our dreams.

My thank you recipe is a recent one that we liked so much we're eating it again as you read this, my Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie with Caramel Sauce.

From all of us at 

Mystery Lovers' Kitchen,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gluten-free Pumpkin Pie for #Thanksgiving from author @DarylWoodGerber

Thanksgiving. A time for family.  A time for giving thanks. A time for good memories.

I love where I live and the memories are poignant in my home right now. Thanksgiving was one of my husband's favorite holidays. The football games, the food, the family. I'm doing everything I can to make this a day to remember, down to making desserts that I know everyone loves.

Most particularly, I love pumpkin pie, but because of the crust, I cannot eat a store-bought pie. So I make my own. Using a REGULAR flour pie shell is the only reason a pumpkin pie isn’t gluten-free. I thought giving those of you who need to eat gluten-free a GF tip might be a nice touch seeing as, at this time of year, practically everything has gluten in it, from casseroles to gravy to stuffing.

I either make my own crust using gluten-free flour - it's real easy and I've shared it many a time when I've shared a pie or quiche recipe - or I pick up a couple in the freezer, which is what I did this year! There are a lot of good brands nowadays.

And then I make my favorite recipe for pumpkin pie. A no-fail recipe by Libby's, a brand of Nestle's, the maker of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin. I've used this recipe for years. I hope "she" doesn't mind I share it. How could she? It's on the back of her cans and all over the Internet. 


Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
Ala Libby’s
 (Makes 2 8-inch pies plus 4 custard tarts)


2 unbaked gluten-free pie shells
Note:  The only size I find is a set of 8-inch pie shells, which is why this also makes tarts! Also, you will need parchment paper and 1 cup of regular rice.  

1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 can (29 ounce) Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 cans (12 fl. Oz. each) Carnation* Evaporated Milk

*Whipped cream, if desired


In the pie shells, set a round of parchment paper and ½ cup rice.

In a preheated oven set to 400 degrees F, bake the pie shells for 5-8 minutes, until lightly cooked. Remove from oven and set aside.

Turn the oven up to 425 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar, salt, and spices. Add the eggs and whip with a blender for 30 seconds until fluffy.

Add the pumpkin and whip for another 30 seconds.  Slowly add the evaporated milk and blend again for about 30 seconds.

Remove the parchment paper and rice from the pie shells.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie shells and 4 custard tart dishes.  Set the dishes on a baking tray.

Carefully set the pies and tarts in the oven (the mixture is very wobbly). If desired, cover the edges of the pie crust with foil so they won’t overcook. You can even set a piece of foil on top of that if your oven cooks “hot.”

Bake the pies and custards for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature and cook the pies for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick or knife comes out clean.  (My oven was 40 minutes tops!)

Remove from oven and let cool completely for 2 hours. May be served room temperature or cold. With whipped cream, if desired. *Note, if not served within 3 days, remember to refrigerate. The pumpkin filling will, um, grow, after a few days.

The custard does pull away from the side, but whipped cream will fix that "visual".

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

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