Monday, April 23, 2018

Banana Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Sometimes, you look around the kitchen and think "Those bananas have got to be used. And don't I still have an abundance of chocolate chips left over from Christmas baking?" And that's how this cake came about. Of course, Bundt cakes always serve a lot of people, which can be a big plus.

I often don't like cakes when they're warm. But this one was best right out of the oven. The kitchen smelled heavenly of bananas, and I barely had time to pour the glaze over it before we cut it and started snacking. The following day, after a night in the fridge, it was still good, but more like the consistency of banana bread.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened + extra for pan
2 cups sugar + extra for pan
3 eggs, room temperature
3 very ripe bananas
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Butter the Bundt pan and sprinkle with sugar. Treat sugar as you would flour, shaking it all over the pan. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt with a fork. Set aside. Cream the butter with the sugar. Mix on high speed for at least one minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the bananas. (If they are soft, you can add them whole and beat.) Add part of the flour mixture on slow, then add part of the sour cream. Alternate adding flour and sour cream until they are incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat well for at least one to two minutes. Pour into Bundt pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let it rest on a rack for about 10 minutes. Loosen any parts that might be stuck to the pan around the outer and inner edges. Flip onto a cooling rack.

Chocolate Glaze

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Place all ingredients into a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave 30 seconds. Remove and try to stir with a fork. It's okay to stir the chocolate until it melts. If it's too hard, microwave for 10 seconds. When satiny smooth, pour over cooled Bundt cake.

Butter and sugar the pan!
The batter is thick.

 Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address to enter the giveaway of 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Welcome Guest Terry Ambrose: Author of Clues in the Sand + #BookGiveaway

Please join me in welcoming author Terry Ambrose back to the kitchen! 

Terry has news for us about the launch of his terrific new mystery series. Leave a comment on his post, and you will be entered to win one of his books. Here's Terry to tell you more about it... 


Thanks for having me as a guest here in the kitchen! In fact, kitchens seem to be a more commonplace for me since I started writing the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series. 

The series features sort-of-single dad Rick Atwood and his precocious daughter Alex. They’re your basic unstoppable crime-solving duo, with Alex being the unstoppable half and her dad doing most of the crime solving. Unless you listen to Alex, who will tell you she’s the one who gives her dad his best ideas. Ah, the confidence and wisdom of a ten-year-old!

Terry Ambrose
In Clues in the Sand, Rick has a B&B to run, a killer to find, and is trying desperately to keep Alex from sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong—in the murder investigation. 

The recipe I’ve brought along today is for spaghetti and meatballs. The basic recipe had been in my family for years—until I lost it. Fortunately, the loss came right after I’d made the recipe and could reconstruct it. Now, it’s stored safely in digital format (in two different places) so I won’t lose it again!

I hope you’ll stop by to learn more about me and the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series at

By Dr.Conati [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Spaghetti and Meatballs by Terry Ambrose

This spaghetti and meatballs recipe is sure to be a hit with any spaghetti lovers. The meatballs are more work than a meat sauce, but they are well worth the effort! Plus, this recipe has no added salt, so for those on a low -sodium diet, it works well. You can easily make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free bread crumbs.

Prep Time: 20 minutes 

Cook Time: 1-2 hours



1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 – 6 oz.cans tomato paste
1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 – #2can crushed tomatoesThis is a 1 lb 4 oz can.
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. black pepper


1 lb. ground turkey
2 tsp. Worscestershire sauce
1 egg (beaten)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (seasoned)You can make your own with the heels of loaves of bread!
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil



1. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and sauté onion until soft. 

2. When onions are soft, combine the rest of the sauce ingredients over medium heat. Stir occasionally and then simmer on low for at least one hour. 


1. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients. 

2. Heat oil in large skillet. 

3. Roll meatballs by taking a small amount of meat and rolling between your palms. A good size is about the size of a golf ball. Add this batch of meatballs to oil. Turn regularly to avoid having them flatten. Brown on all sides. 

4. When all meatballs have been browned, add them to the sauce to continue cooking.

Terry Ambrose

TERRY AMBROSE has written more than a dozen books, several of which have been award finalists. In 2014, his thriller, Con Game, won the San Diego Book Awards for Best Action-Thriller. He’s currently working on the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery series.



To learn more
or buy, click here.

Leave a comment on this post with a way to contact you (email address or Facebook name), and you will be entered to win a print or e-book (your choice) of Terry's Clues in the Sand.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sheet Pan Nachos #Recipe @PegCochran

I think I've mentioned this before--I like to think of Friday nights as "fun food nights."  Meaning I don't worry about a green vegetable (we probably won't get scurvy if we skip our veggie once a week) and I don't make anything too "serious" for dinner.  Sometimes it's take-out--pizza or Chinese or Thai food--and sometimes it's tacos or BLTs.  I was feeling in the mood for something with a Mexican flair but I didn't want tacos.  Bingo! How about nachos?

I found a recipe for "sheet pan nachos" where everything is loaded onto a cookie sheet and put into the oven.  I decided to try it.

Note:  All toppings are optional--use what you like and skip the rest or add ideas of your own!!

You'll need:
12 ounces ground chuck
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
9 ounces corn tortilla chips
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed or 1 can black beans
12 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend or freshly grated sharp cheddar
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup pickled jalapeno slices (optional)
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup salsa, jarred or fresh (I prefer fresh)

First preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Place ground chuck and onion in pan, sprinkle with spices and cook, stirring, until meat is no longer pink.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer mixture to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up extra grease.

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil.  Spread chips on the bottom in a single layer.  Top with meat mixture, beans and cheese.

Bake until cheese melts and chips are beginning to brown slightly on the edges--about 8 minutes or so.

Top with red onion, jalapeno if desired, avocado, sour cream and cilantro.  Serve salsa on the side.


Amazon Print
Barnes & Noble

It’s a marriage made in murder in the new Cranberry Cove Mystery from USA Today bestselling author Peg Cochran!

The long-awaited wedding of Monica and Greg is the highlight of the harvest season in Cranberry Cove, drawing friends from far and wide to help them celebrate. Among the guests are an old college friend of Monica’s and the woman’s boisterous new husband, a man with many enemies and more than a few bitter women in his past. When he turns up dead on a boat, the victim of a fatal stabbing, Monica steps in once again to unravel the mystery.

As she dredges up clues and wades through a long list of suspects, Monica’s sleuthing becomes all the more pressing when the local police are convinced that her friend did the deed. Monica will have to clear her name fast and track down the real culprit as the killer threatens to bring her sweet wedded bliss to a bitter end.

Includes tasty recipes!


Pre-Order Now! Coming June 2018

Barnes and Noble


“The clever ‘Dear Reader’ asides serve up just the right amount of dry wit, and the occasional blog post snippet provides readers with some helpful tips alongside their mystery. The case is always well plotted, and the fictitious Michigan small-town setting provides an intriguing supporting cast with a bevy of interesting personalities. Readers will root for Shelby to solve the case and stay on the edge of their seats until she does.”
– RT Reviews


Barnes & Noble

A Park Avenue princess discovers the dark side of 1930s New York when a debutante ball turns deadly in this gripping historical mystery for readers of Victoria Thompson, Anne Perry, and Rhys Bowen.

Manhattan, 1938. Tired of being trapped in the gilded cage of her family’s expectations, Elizabeth Adams has done what no self-respecting socialite would think to do: She’s gotten herself a job. Although Elizabeth’s dream is to one day see her photographs on the front page of the Daily Trumpet, for now she’s working her way up as the newsroom’s gal Friday.

But fetching coffee isn’t exactly her idea of fun, so when veteran reporter Ralph Kaminsky needs a photographer to fill in for a last-minute assignment, Elizabeth jumps at the chance. At the Waldorf Hotel, Elizabeth is tasked with tracking down the season’s “It girl,” Gloria DeWitt, who will be making her society debut. Working her own connections to New York’s upper crust, Elizabeth manages to land an exclusive interview with Gloria.

Then Gloria’s stepmother is shot dead in a Waldorf bathroom, placing Elizabeth at the scene of a headline-worthy scandal: “Murder of a Society Dame.” Now Elizabeth will have to get the scoop on the killer before her good name gets dragged through the gossip columns—or worse. . . .

Praise for Peg Cocrhan

“Cochran has a truly entertaining writing style that is filled with humor, mystery, fun, and intrigue.”—Open Book Society

Catch up with me on Facebook!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Shocking Asparagus

Spring, where are you? So far I’ve seen only a pitiful handful of crocuses in the yard. But hope springs (yes, a bad pun) eternal!

Apparently the cooks of Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen turn to asparagus recipes in the spring. So do online chefs and those who write for the dwindling number of print newspapers. This past weekend I found Adam Ried's contribution in the Boston Globe welcoming spring with asparagus.

What caught my eye was his discussion of “blanching and shocking” the asparagus before incorporating it into a dish. (Sounds like something from a romance novel, doesn’t it?) This keeps it bright green and helps prevent overcooking it. And he also did something smart: he saved the blanching water to cook the pasta for the dish, which added a bit more flavor.

His recipe caught my eye because it includes bacon. I love bacon as much as anyone, but I did wonder if it would overpower the delicate flavor of the asparagus, so I decided to test it.

Pasta with Asparagus, Onions, and Bacon

First blanch your asparagus: bring a pot full of salted water to a boil, toss in the asparagus and let cook for about 2 minutes, then remove and shift the stalks into a large bowl filled with ice water (save the cooking water!), then drain and lay on paper towels to dry.

Asparagus -- raw
Asparagus -- blanched and shocked
(still bright green!)

6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1-1/2 Tblsp pressed or grated garlic (5-7 cloves, depending on size)
8 ounces stubby or tubular pasta, boiled in the asparagus water until barely al dente (save 1-1/4 cups of the cooking liquid to use below)
1 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound blanched asparagus, 
6 medium scallions, thinly sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Olive oil for drizzling

Ingredients, almost all chopped


Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus spears and blanch (see above). Cut the stalks into 2- to 3-inch pieces.

In a Dutch oven or similar heavy pot, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Remove most of the bacon fat from the pot, then set the pot over medium heat. Add the onion slices, sprinkle with salt, and cook until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook for less than a minute.

Add 3/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and stir. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta, lemon juice, Parmesan, salt and pepper, and toss to combine. 

Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let rest (toss often) for about a minute. Then add the asparagus, toss again, and let rest for another 2 minutes.

Add the scallions, bacon and parsley and toss to mix. Add more of the reserved water if needed, and taste for seasoning (add more salt and pepper if you like)

Transfer to a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and serve immediately!


You may notice that the chopping and such take more time than the actual cooking. The asparagus did remain a pretty green, and it held its own against the bacon. The main goal here is to avoid overcooking any of the ingredients, especially the asparagus.

Books! Where are the books?

Well, we're putting the finishing touches on the next Relatively Dead book, which will be out next month. You know about Murder at the Mansion, coming in June. But! Did you know that there will be another Orchard Mystery in the fall? And that the Museum Mysteries will be coming back too?

Stay tuned for fast-breaking developments (like titles and covers!)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Muligatawny Soup

LUCY BURDETTE: You may or may not have seen on Facebook or Jungle Red Writers that John and I were lucky enough to visit India for two weeks earlier this spring. It was a magnificent trip – India is so different from our country in many ways, including the food. One of the dishes that John raved about (and in fact ordered three nights in a row) was mulligatawny soup. And it turns out that this dish isn't a traditional Indian recipe--it was developed for British officers stationed in India during colonial times. I don’t order soup when I go out as the salt level is frequently high. But I was sure I could make a version at home that would be tasty and less salty. Here’s what I came up with:


1 1/2 cups chopped onions (1 large)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 jalapeno, chopped
3-4 tsp curry powder (I tried 3 and we thought it could use a little more)
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock or 1/2 stock, 1/2 water
2 medium carrots chopped
1/3 cup red lentils
1 medium pepper, seeded and chopped
1 firm tomato, chopped (or 2 Romas)
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup rice
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro, or more to taste

In a medium soup pot, saute the onions , carrots, peppers, and celery in the oil. When the onions are becoming translucent, add the curry and bay leaves. Saute for a minute, stirring to prevent the spices from burning. Add the stock, lentils, and rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer the vegetables for 10 minutes.

Add the cilantro, chicken, apple, and tomato. Simmer gently until the vegetables are tender and the rice is cooked.  Adjust the seasonings, mix in the cream, and serve. Top with more cilantro if desired. This was even better the next day!

Cook's note: I made a whole chicken in a crockpot the night before. We deboned and shredded half of it to use in this soup. I also refrigerated the liquid in the bottom of the crockpot, skimmed the fat the next day, and used this for part of my broth. Delicious! If you don't have the time or inclination, you can use roast chicken from your deli.

Here are a few Indian foodie photos I thought you would enjoy:

on a Varanasi street

a kitchen store in Jaipur

Making dinner in Narlai

Death on the Menu, the 8th Key West food critic mystery, will hit bookstores on August 7 from Crooked Lane Books. 

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. 

Or you can order it from Books and Books in Key West, or call Suzanne Orchard at Key West Island Bookstore ((305) 294-2904)--she'll be delighted to order you a copy! 
Or really, wherever books are sold...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Nobu Teriyaki Sauce #recipe, modified by author @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl:

A week ago I shared a recipe for an appetizer that I’d found in Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2013. Of course, I continued to browse for other recipes I might try in the future, and I stumbled onto one from Nobu Matsuhisa.

Nobu (who is known mainly by his first name) is a Japanese celebrity chef and restaurateur known for his fusion cuisine, blending traditional Japanese dishes with Peruvian ingredients. Why Peruvian? Because when he was working at a restaurant in Tokyo, he was invited by a regular customer (a Peruvian of Japanese descent) to open a restaurant in Peru. He now has over thirty restaurants anywhere from California to Budapest.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit his restaurant in New York. I was astonished at the complexity and beauty of his dishes.

I love teriyaki sauce, but I can’t have it in restaurants. They don’t make it gluten-free, so here is my take on Nobu’s delicious sauce, with the way I tweaked it to make it gluten-free (for me). You can use his ingredients.


Classic Chicken Teriyaki from Nobu Matsuhisa

(* - asterisks denote modifications by me for my needs)

1 cup chicken stock
½ cup soy sauce (*I used gluten-free soy sauce)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon mirin (*I didn’t have mirin on hand; I used 1 tablespoon sherry, 1 tablespoon sugar)
2 tablespoons sake
Four 6ounce skinless, boneless chicken breasts, lightly pounded (I have the frozen kind from Costco, so convenient) (*pounding is quite therapeutic)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large Italian frying peppers, cut into ½-inch strips (* I don’t do peppers so I substituted with golden onions. Yum!)
Steamed short-grain rice, for serving

In a medium saucepan, combine the stock with the soy sauce, sugar, mirin (*see above) and sake, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until the teriyaki sauce is reduced to ½ cup and syrupy, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil. Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned all over and cooked through, 8 to 9 minutes.  You’ll want to cover this with some kind of lid, as the oil will SPIT. I have a mesh lid that does the trick. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let stand for 5 minutes.

Wipe out the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil and heat until shimmering. Add the pepper strips (*onion for me) and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Transfer the peppers (*onions) to plates. Slice the chicken breasts crosswise and transfer to the plates. Drizzle the teriyaki sauce over the chicken and serve with rice.

I dined on this for 4 nights. I served it with shrimp, a second chicken dish, and an all veggie dinner.

Note: You can make the sauce and refrigerate for up to 1 month. Mine lasted 1 week because I couldn’t stop eating it.

Savor the mystery!

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Plus check out my website.

A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION, the 2nd French Bistro Mystery, coming July 10
Can Mimi prove her chef innocent before the chef gets dusted?
Click here to order.

PRESSING THE ISSUE, the 6th Cookbook Nook Mystery.

The annual Renaissance Fair serves up a helping of crafty courtiers, 
damsels in distress, and medieval murder . . .
Click here to order.

A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the 1st in the French Bistro Mysteries, coming in trade paperback June 12.
Can Mimi clear her name before the killer turns up the heat?
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 SECRETS, a stand-alone suspense
A mother he thought was dead. A father he never knew.
An enemy that wants them dead.
Click here to order

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Three-Ingredient Asparagus Tart #recipe @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE: Is there a vegetable that screams “SPRING” quite like asparagus? Both Mr. Right and I love it. My childhood neighborhood was a truck farm before its development in the late 1950, and our yard was the asparagus field. For years after we moved in, remnant stalks would sometimes push up through the grass and become dinner.


I saw a recipe for an asparagus tart using packaged puff pastry, another fave, and the ricotta-egg mixture sounded yummy, but I decided to search out for a simpler recipe. This one came from the Pioneer Woman blog, and it almost seemed too simple to work. It works.

When it comes to asparagus, you can trust me. (Just don’t leave your plate untended.) And don’t think twice about not cooking it in advance—not needed. Do use young, tender spears.

With only three ingredients, I didn’t change much! Actually, we only made half, using one puff pastry sheet, but we made it twice, once with fontina and once with gruyere. Thumbs up for both, although fontina is a bit soft for grating; next time, I might try tossing it in the freezer for an hour first.

But of course, I played with the instructions because I always do. The original recipe didn’t mention rolling or scoring the pastry like a picture frame; I ignored my instinct to score it anyway the first time we made the tart, but corrected my mistake the next time. (You'll see what I mean in the pics below.) We skipped the optional balsamic glaze—it seemed like gilding the lily, and way too messy. 

Here’s to spring!

Three-Ingredient Asparagus Tart

2 sheets (one package) puff pastry, thawed on a work surface
8 ounces freshly grated fontina or gruyere
1 pound asparagus, with the woody ends snapped off

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Use your rolling pin to flatten and smooth the puff pastry. With a table knife or paring knife, lightly score a line about 3/4 inch inside the outside edge, as if drawing a frame. Transfer each pastry to a baking sheet.

Lay the cheese on the pastry, inside your score line. Line up the asparagus spears like pickets in a fence, but alternate heads and tails. Bake 25 minutes, until golden brown and puffy. (Don’t freak out if it gets a little TOO puffy; it will calm down as it cools.

Cut each sheet into quarters or sixths. Serve with a green salad and a glass of a sprightly white wine.

What happens when you don't score the edges!

What it looks like when you DO score the edges!


À la printemps – to spring!

From the cover of AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink, June 2018, available for pre-order now):  

In Jewel Bay---Montana's Christmas Village---all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

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. A past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.