Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Celebrate our 5th Anniversary with photo contest & book giveaway & recipes!

From Daryl aka Avery:


But do you know we've been celebrating our 5th anniversary on this blog for about a week!?? That's right, 5 years!!  Yipes. Lots of recipes.

In honor of our anniversary, we're throwing two contests!

We're giving away a book every day from today until July 25th. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here and tell us with whom you shared the news of our contests or our anniversary. Help us celebrate by spreading the word! Did you tell your neighbor? Did you email your sister? Did you post on Facebook or tweet? TODAY??? Be sure to leave a comment each day because there will be twelve total drawings. Leave a comment before midnight because after midnight, the next drawing starts!

REMEMBER TO INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS so we can contact you if you won!


Today: I'm giving away a book by former member , WENDY LYN WATSON, aka ANNIE KNOXAnnie writes THE PET BOUTIQUE mystery series for NAL about a woman who runs a pet boutique in northern Minnesota.  The first, PAWS FOR MURDER, came out in January, and the second, GROOMED FOR MURDER, will be out in September.  She has also signed a contract for another series, written as Wendy Lyn Watson, called the BOOK MAGIC MYSTERIES.

Annie will give you your choice of the first in her  PET BOUTIQUE series or an ARC (advanced review copy) of the book coming out in September. Do you love to offer reviews? Mention that in your comment.

Our second contest is a photo contest!  You can find our photo contest here and at our Facebook page! Five lucky winners will receive a Mystery Lovers' Kitchen tote bag and seven paperback mysteries! Since we can't all get away on vacation, we hope our books are having fun this summer. Take a picture of one of our books having fun! You can enter up to five times, once in each of these categories:

1) One of our books with a cat
2) One of our books with a dog
3) One of our books having summer fun
4) One of our books in a library
5) One of our books in a bookstore.


And now, today's recipe is:

Plum Cobbler

Plums are in season. Why not use them to their best advantage? And have you heard about a Plumcot? Or Pluot, depending where you get it? It's a plum apricot hybrid. Possibly the most delicious plum I've ever had. 
Pluot is the speckled one on the right.

My husband won't appreciate this, but when he travels, that seems to be when I like to make sweet things. Is it because I miss my sweet honey or is it because I'm trying to spare him the calories because I love him so much and he loves my sweets so much???  Or is it possibly because, this time, I was in edit "hell" doing my best to finish up the next Cookbook Nook mystery and I needed sugar!!!! Don't you love the organization on top of my kitchen table?


"Am I too adorable for words?"
Anyway, I made this cobbler and finished it all by myself. Oops! Extra time on the treadmill and walking Sparky is in order now. Sparky doesn't seem to mind the walks, so that's a good thing. Though I have to admit, he doesn't like me putting that harness thing over his head.

Enjoy this delicious of-the-season dessert!

Plum Cobbler

7 large plums, pitted and quartered
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons plus 1 cup flour (gluten-free option below)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½  teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg lightly beaten
½ cup butter, melted
whipped cream, if desired

(If you need to eat gluten-free, substitute the flour with GF flour and add ½ teaspoon xanthan gum as noted below.)


Grease a 2 quart to 2 ½ quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the plums, brown sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, and cinnamon. Spoon into the baking dish.
Pluot is the red-pulp fruit.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and remaining flour. (If you need to eat gluten-free, substitute the 1 cup flour with GF flour and add ½ teaspoon xanthan gum HERE.) Add egg and stir with a fork. This will become crumbly. Sprinkle the mixture over the plum mixture.

Melt the butter and drizzle the butter over the flour mixture.

Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool for 20 minutes before serving. This is hot coming out of the oven! Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Note: insides are loose. It will scoop out of the baking dish and won’t come out in perfect sections.

Final note: If I were to make this again, I might use a 13 x 9 pan for the insides and double the crumb topping to spread over the entire thing. The topping is that good!!  In fact, hmmm, think I'll have to try that this weekend!! Is my hubby out of town? :)

* * *

For STIRRING THE PLOT, which comes out September 30th, I'm going to be doing a number of giveaways, starting in August. Books, mugs, stuffed kittens!  Make sure you're signed up for my newsletter and "like" me on Facebook, where information about the giveaways will appear.  Look for pictures of Tigger, the ginger cat in the series, celebrating ala Halloween!


Friend Daryl on Facebook
Friend Avery on Facebook
Follow Daryl on Twitter
Follow Avery on Twitter
Follow both of us on Pinterest
Check out our website.

Days of Wine and Roquefort 
is out!
order here

Inherit the Word
  is out!
                                    order here

STIRRING THE PLOT is available for preorder: 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, July 22, 2014

Billionaire BBQ: Take My Poll on Summer Cookouts and Enter to win Billionaire Blend

Five years ago this week, I joined a wonderful group of crime-writing cooks in the launch of a brand new blog called Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. I'm thrilled to see the blog is still going strong, and I continue to wish my fellow bloggers (past and present) a very Happy Anniversary! 

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.
Last Tuesday, I updated you on one of our past members, Julie Hyzy. If you missed that post, click here. She's got a new release that you'll learn about, along with a few memories (and recipes) from our early years.

My own anniversary post today is a little like Julie's. I thought it would be fun to look back in time to my very first recipe for Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Of course it involved coffee.

To read my very first post for Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, click here. Or download a free PDF of the recipe by clicking the link below...

Click here for the PDF of the very first recipe
I shared five years ago here at MLK.
This look back in time to my steak BBQ started me thinking about summer cookouts in general and YOUR summer cookouts in particular. 

What are your favorite cookout foods? To find out, I created a poll. If you take it, and leave a comment on this blog post, you are entered in a random drawing to win a personally inscribed copy of my latest Coffeehouse Mystery, Billionaire Blend, in its brand new paperback edition (going on sale August 5th).

* * * * * 

To enter TODAY'S book 
giveaway drawing:

 Take my Summer Cookout poll,
which asks this question...

What 4 things are a MUST
for your Summer Cookouts? 


And leave a comment on
this MLK blog post to be
entered in the drawing...

Today's prize is a brand new (signed)
mass market paperback edition
of my hardcover bestseller

Billionaire Blend

Is the billionaire a victim?
Or a master of murder?

On Sale August 5th!

Take my poll before midnight because 
after midnight, the next drawing starts!

Cheers and
good luck, everyone!

~ Cleo

Our Photo Contest!

P.S. To celebrate our Fifth Anniversary, we are also having a fun photo contest with wonderful grand prizes.
To learn more, click here!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chocolate Walnut Zucchini Cake

The celebration continues! Thank you to everyone who has submitted photographs to our contest! They are amazing. We are in awe of your creativity, and we love all the wonderful dogs and cats who posed for you. Thank you so much! It's not over, of course, until midnight Thursday. Five people will win our fun tote bag and seven books!

All you have to do is submit a photo in one of five categories:

1. One of our books with a cat
2. One of our books with a dog
3. One of our books having summer fun
4. One of our books in a library
5. One of our books in a bookstore.

Enter the contest or just enjoy the delightful photos at

This is also a first. Contrary to appearances, we don't just blog about cakes here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! I think the unbroken succession of cakes proves that we gravitate toward cakes when we're celebrating. No doubt something that is ingrained in us as children, beginning with festive birthday cakes.

I was determined not to bake a cake for today. But the zucchini plants in the garden just keep producing! I have cooked zucchini every which way you can imagine. But not as a cake. And I kept running into recipes for chocolate zucchini cake. So I broke down and made my own version.

We loved the zucchini walnut muffins that I baked a few weeks ago, so I knew that walnuts worked well with zucchini. I deepened the chocolate flavor with a hint of coffee, and added dark brown sugar. I dusted the top with powdered sugar instead of icing it. Honestly, it's so rich and moist that it doesn't need frosting.

Krista's Chocolate Zucchini Walnut Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts

2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1-2 zucchini)

1/2 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter + extra for greasing pan
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
2 teaspoons warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter.

In a food processor, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and walnuts. Pulse until the walnuts have disappeared. Pour out into a bowl and set aside.

Use the shredding disk in the food processor to shred the zucchini. Set aside.

Dissolve the coffee in the water. Cream the butter with the sugars, and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the coffee and the vanilla and beat. Slowly add the flour mixture. The batter will be thick. Mix in the zucchini and stir in the chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes.

Cool on a baking rack. When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Walnuts disappear into the flour and cocoa.

Before baking.

Let it cool before adding powdered sugar.

We're still giving away a book each day, too! Today we're giving away Mystery Lovers' Kitchen's alum Elizabeth Spann Craig's SHEAR TROUBLE! It won't be out until August 5th, but Elizabeth will ship it to you as soon as she has her hands on it! To enter, leave a comment here today before midnight.

Good luck!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We're celebrating FIVE delicious years by sharing coconut cream cupcakes

It's hard to believe that Mystery Lovers Kitchen has been combining mystery, great tasting recipes and friendship for five years. That's really worth a party.  As Victoria Abbott, we haven't been part of it since the beginning, (although MJ joined a bit earlier) but we've enjoyed every minute since we've been in the gang. It's brought Mystery Lovers Kitchen into our family celebrations (gotta have those guinea pigs!) and our parties with friends. And it's connected us with you readers - that's really worth a party! 

To celebrate Mystery Lovers Kitchen is throwing TWO contests. 

We're giving away a book every day until July 25th.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here and tell us how you shared the news of our contests or anniversary. Tell your friends!  Post on Facebook! Tweet, my darlings! 

Be sure to leave a comment every day, because there will be a new drawing every day by midnight.  Don't forget to include your email addy so we can let you know if you won. 

Today we're giving away your choice of The Christie Curse or The Sayers Swindle. If you already own them both, we have more options in our apron pocket!

Our second contest is a photo contest!  You can find our photo contest here and at our Facebook page! Five lucky winners will receive a Mystery Lovers' Kitchen tote bag and seven paperback mysteries! Since we can't all get away on vacation, we hope our books are having fun this summer. Take a picture of one of our books having fun! You can enter up to five times, once in each of these categories:

1) One of our books with a cat
2) One of our books with a dog
3) One of our books having summer fun
4) One of our books in a library
5) One of our books in a bookstore.

Celebration Coconut Cream Cupcakes

A recipe from the celebration files of Mary Jane Maffini and Victoria Abbott.

Another thing worth celebrating is that these little cupcakes are not too carb or calorie heavy.  But they are really yummy.  They’ve been tested on the world’s toughest food critic, the son-in-law, who hates cream cheese in anything and won’t eat yogurt.  So for our recent Canada Day family BBQ we made these for dessert.  Guess who couldn’t resist them?  Just sayin’.   

The secret is cottage cheese (who knew?) and the original recipe came from a booklet of Canadian cheese recipes.  We’re betting it will work with your cottage cheese too.  You could use mascarpone, ricotta or cream cheese, but we like it this way. Lower in calories and less expensive too!
We doubled the recipe and we’re glad we did.  

For a SINGLE batch, you will need these ingredients:

To make crumb crust
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar

For filling:
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened coconut (add a tablespoon for garnish)
1 ½ cups cottage cheese
1 egg at room temperature
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For topping:
½ cup vanilla Greek-style yogurt
Few strands of reserved toasted coconut

Here are the steps! 
Preheat your oven to 375.
Line muffin tins with paper baking cups
Mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter and 1 tbsp sugar. Press into baking cups.  We made this recipe twice. The first time with the dozen baking cups and the second time using only ten.  We got a higher cupcake that way and it worked out better. You can suit yourself here.

Bake for 5 minutes.

At the SAME TIME, spread out coconut on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown. Watch as it can get too dark very quickly. 
Cool liners and coconut. 

 Then: using a blender or food processor, purée the cottage cheese, egg, 1/3 cup sugar, flour, vanilla, lemon juice, and coconut (keep about two tablespoons for garnish).   This will keep in the fridge for a few days if you like to get ahead of things. 

Pour into the  cooled liners.  Bake for 16 – 18 minutes.   Again, you have to keep an eye on them!
Cool and remove the cupcakes. Chill for about an hour (longer is great). 

Top with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt and sprinkle with toasted coconut.  You could substitute yogurt with sweetener if you wanted to control the calorie count. We found that the Greek yogurt was firmer and held that ‘icing’ shape better. The recipe as is  comes in at about 150 calories per cupcake and should be less than 20 g. carbs.  If you can eat just one.

The cupcakes keep in the fridge for a day or so, but tend to call your name in the night, so be warned. 

 Thanks for joining in our Mystery Lovers Kitchen 5th anniversary celebration.  

We’re also celebrating that The Wolfe Widow will be out in less than two months.  You can get a jump on your reading, by pre-ordering.  ORDER IT HERE


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