Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Vegetarian Chili and Green Chile Cornbread

LESLIE: Chili is a classic American dish, and I suspect every home cook has a favorite recipe, vegetarian or not. Mine started life in Laurel’s Kitchen, one of the first cookbooks I ever bought, and a classic of vegetarian cooking, but the recipe is much changed. Some vegetarian cooking, especially in the 1970s, isn’t real high on flavor. And me? Well, flavor is kinda the point, right?

Since I started writing my Spice Shop series, I’ve heard plenty of readers say they don’t care for “spicy food.” What they really mean is they don’t care for heat, for peppers that scorch the roof of your mouth. This dish, as I’ve spiced it, gives a nice balance of flavor without a lot of heat, and the cornbread balances it nicely. If you’re looking for a three-alarm chili, this isn’t it.

This recipe also features the few foods I will use canned: beans, tomatoes, and diced chiles! Somehow, though, we recently acquired large bags of dried kidney and black beans, so we’ve been cooking them for chili, soup, and tacos. It’s easy, but requires some planning, and when it comes to dinner, I don’t always plan very far ahead!

Some cooks dot a piece of parchment or waxed paper with tablespoons of the extra tomato sauce, freeze it, then toss the dots in a bag and throw it back in the freezer. I usually just use the entire can, even though that’s not why my own recipe calls for! You decide, based on how thick you like your chili.

This freezes nicely, in small glass containers. If we want to make a chili with meat, we use this same recipe, sauteing the ground beef in the stock pot before adding the onions and garlic.

Early in our marriage, Mr. Right told me he didn’t like cornbread. Turns out, he didn’t like his mother’s cornbread! (She was an excellent cook, and even ran a restaurant for a while, but cornbread wasn't her dish.) This version is moist and flavorful, and never lasts long. This recipe comes from Vegetarian Soups For All Seasons by Nava Atlas, but again, I've spiced it up!

Besides being vegetarian, both recipes are also gluten-free.

Leslie’s Vegetarian Chili and Green Chile Cornbread

olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 bell pepper, any color, chopped (optional)
2-14 ounce cans chopped or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
4 cups kidney beans (1-1/2 to 2 cups dry, cooked, or 2-14 ounce cans
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
cheddar or Monterey jack, shredded, for topping (optional)

If you’re using dried beans, soak overnight in a large pot, then drain and return to pot. Cover with 3 cups of water for each cup of beans; bring to a low boil and simmer, about 1-1/4 hours, until tender but not mushy—they will continue to cook in the chili.

In a large stock pot, saute the onion in olive oil until softened and they begin to turn transparent; add the garlic and saute briefly. Add the celery, carrots, and bell pepper, and saute until soft, 3-5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, beans, and spices. Bring to a low boil, then simmer about 30 minutes.

Top with shredded cheese to serve.

Green Chili Cornbread

1-1/2 cups cornmeal, medium grind
½ cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt (low or full fat work equally well; Greek style is too thick)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-4 ounce can chopped green chiles
½ cup thawed frozen corn kernels (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or oil a 9" square pan.

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cayenne.

In a smaller bowl, lightly beat the eggs, and mix in the yogurt and oil. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture; stir until combined. Stir in the corn, if you’re using it.

Spread mixture in pan and bake 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and a knife or tester comes out clean. 

Let cool slightly and cut into squares.

Serve warm with butter. Because it is so moist, store leftovers in the fridge.

From the cover of KILLING THYME (October 2016, in paperback, e-book, and audio---large print coming March 15): 

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. after Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

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. The 2015-16 president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website  and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebookwhere I often share news of new books and giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Lemon Grand Marnier Loaf Cake

I blame it on the overcast weather. We weren't socked by snow like Sheila, but the weather has been dreary. Just about right for writing mysteries!

But for whatever reason, I had lemon pound cake on the brain. Except I didn't want anything heavy. No sour cream. Nothing too dense. A nice light slightly lemony cake in the shape of a loaf. With Grand Marnier for a little kick.

And then I received this lovely bottle of Grand Marnier Signature Collection No. 2 with oranges, raspberries, and peaches. Yum. I decided it was fate. I had to bake it.

I found a recipe I liked at House and Home. It was simple and basic and didn't sound heavy. Well, there was sour cream. So I swapped that for buttermilk, or more precisely, milk and vinegar. The lemon glaze was the same one that my mother has used for as long as I can remember. Super quick and easy.

This is a very nice fundamental recipe that I suspect can be easily altered. With blueberries, perhaps. Hmm, I may have to try it without the citrus and see how it does with chocolate!

Lemon Loaf Cake with Grand Marnier
based on a recipe from House and Home

1/3 cup milk (I used 2%)
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier Signature Collection No. 2

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x5 loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

Pour the vinegar into the milk and set aside.

Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside. Cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in the eggs and continue beating for about 2-3 minutes until it's thick and lighter in color.

On a low speed, gradually add half the flour mixture, then the milk, then the remaining flour, beating to incorporate. Add the lemon juice and the Grand Marnier. Beat another 30 seconds to 1 minute. It should be thick and creamy.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake about 55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

More Grand Marnier and Glaze

2-3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

After the cake has cooled completely (this can be done the next day), poke holes in the split in the top. Drizzle the Grand Marnier over the holes allowing it to soak into the cake.

Mix together the confectioner's sugar and lemon juice with a mini-whisk or a fork. (This is very forgiving, if it's too thick or thin, just add more juice or sugar.) Set the loaf cake on something that will catch any drips. Drizzle across the top.

Nice thick batter.
After baking. You could actually just sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve!
Holes for the liquor.
Mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar.

Can you see the liquor coming down through the middle?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Kneaded to Death

A very warm welcome to our old friend, Winnie Archer. What? You've never heard of her? Yes you have. Our buddy Melissa Bourbon is back with a new series about bread! The first book KNEADED TO DEATH comes out on February 28th!

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

Mysteries are close to my heart. Okay, truthfully, books of any kind are close to my heart, but mysteries, in particular. The mystery can be large or small. It can be the central focus of the story, or play a supporting role. It really doesn’t matter to me the scope of the mystery elements, as long as it’s there in one way, shape, or form.

My love of mysteries started, like most young girls of a certain age--with Nancy Drew. From there I graduated straight to Agatha Christie. I have a distinct memory of going with my mom to our town’s library so she could check out the last Hercule Poirot novel, Curtain. She was crushed that it was to be Poirot’s last, and her love of these book intrigued me enough to start reading them.

I spent almost all of my high school lunches in one classroom or another reading.

Now, I should say that I’m a light-weight when it comes to the intensity of a mystery and I see a clear distinction between mystery and horror. Horror movies and books are not for me. I threw Silence of the Lambs across the room once or twice while reading it, and I covered my eyes during certain parts of Dexter.

But suspense and deduction, those things I love.

So, of course, as my passion for writing grew until it couldn’t be denied, it was no surprise that it manifested itself in the form of mysteries. I began with the Lola Cruz Mystery series. Then I wrote 2 romantic suspense novels, which, of course, have strong mystery elements in them. They’re based on Mexican legends and are still two of my favorites. My cozies came next and have been national bestsellers. A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series has six books in the series. Harlow Cassidy holds a special place in my heart.

But move over Harlow, Ivy Culpepper is in town. She’s the heroine of my new Bread Shop series. Kneaded to Death is the first book in the series and Ivy’s introduction to the world. Ivy’s 36, divorced, and now back in her hometown of Santa Sofia, California. Her mother died six months ago, she, her father, and brother are still grieving, and she’s reunited with Miguel Baptista, her high school love that broke her heart once upon a time. She meets Olaya Solis, owner of Yeast of Eden, and then Penelope Branford, her new octogenarian sidekick. All is good… until, of course, murder strikes.

Mystery, mystery, mystery. The characters. The communities. The crime. The puzzle. The deductions. The justice. All of makes for such a satisfying read. I can’t wait for Kneaded to Death and Ivy Culpepper to fall into the hands of cozy readers.

One of the best things about writing my new Bread Shop series is the bread! I get to experiment and the whole family gets to enjoy. It’s a win-win. One of my favorite new recipes is Gruyere and Black Pepper Popovers. They’re easy, quick, and SO tasty!


Gruyère and Black Pepper Popovers (16)

Recipe inspired
By Jodi Elliott, owner and chef of Foreign & Domestic Food & Drink in Austin, Texas


2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose
¾ cups Gruyère cheese, cut into small cubes.
Grated Gruyère cheese on top just after baking.


1. Preheat the oven to 450 ̊ and place the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Place a dot of butter in the bottom of each muffin or popover cup and allow to heat in the oven while you make the popover batter.

2. Use a small saucepan to warm milk at medium heat. It should be hot, but do not bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt and black pepper until smooth. Stir in the warm milk.

4. Add flour to the egg mixture. Combine. The batter should be the consistency of cream. A few lumps are okay!

5. Remove the muffin pans from the oven. Spray the pans generously with nonstick cooking spray. Pour about ⅓ cup of the batter into each of 16 muffin cups or into the popover pan. Place several cubes of cheese on top of the batter in each cup.

6. Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Bake the popovers until the tops puff up and are golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remember, do not open the oven door while baking. You don’t want the popovers to collapse!

7. Turn onto a wire cooling rack right away to preserve the crispy edge of the popovers. Using a sharp knife, pierce the base of each popover to release the steam. Sprinkle grated Gruyère over finished popovers, if desired, and serve immediately.

Winnie Archer is the pen name for national bestselling author Melissa Bourbon. She is a middle school teacher by day, and a writer by night. She lives lives in an inspiring century old house in North Texas and loves being surrounded by real-life history. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

Visit her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelissaBourbon.WinnieArcher/

Winnie is very kindly giving away a copy of KNEADED TO DEATH! Please leave a comment with your email address to enter. Good luck!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Thai Stir Fry #Recipe @PegCochran

Here is another great stir fry from Skinny Kitchen—this one with a Thai flair.  I’ve made a few changes (surprise!) by adding broccoli—because I had some, and I’m always trying to get more green veggies into us.  I was going to make the cauliflower rice since it’s quite easy with a food processor, but our grocery store was completely out of cauliflower!  Fortunately I found frozen cauliflower rice (albeit with the addition of peas and carrots) and that made this a very quick weeknight meal. 

We really enjoyed this (hubby had seconds!) and didn’t miss having it served over regular rice although you could do that if you wanted.  

Ingredients for Peanut Sauce:
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter (natural peanut butter is best)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons garlic, minced (I use the minced garlic in a jar)
2 teaspoons ginger, (again, I use the jarred ginger)
1 teaspoon sriracha (more or less depending on your taste)

Ingredients for Stir-Fry:
Olive oil--approximately 1 tablespoon to coat pan
1 (16 oz) package cauliflower rice
1 cup onions, diced or sliced
1 cup red bell peppers, cut in strips or diced
1 cup cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets (I used frozen but if using fresh microwave until soft)

My frozen cauliflower rice

Prepare ingredients--slice, dice, etc.

  Mix together the sauce ingredients and microwave for one minute.

Add olive oil to pan and heat.  Add red pepper and onions and stir fry until wilted.

Add cauliflower rice and stir fry until cauliflower is soft--approximately five minutes.


Add broccoli and stir fry for one minute or until broccoli is cooked.

Add chicken and sauce and stir fry until heated through.


Berkley Prime Crime is having a sale! The e-book versions of two of my books are now only $2.99! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Celery Root Remoulade

Do you watched the show Chopped on the Food Network? That’s the one where four contestants are handed mystery baskets of food items and told to make something yummy in twenty minutes. The results are judged by a panel of food critics and restauranteurs. In case you’re wondering where the hook is, the ingredients can by as weird and wonderful as marshmallows, pickles, frogs legs and peanut butter—and all of them must be used in the same dish. It’s cruel fun to watch the contestant cooks panic, but I must say I get a lot of ideas there.

I hold my own Chopped challenge at home. It’s been snowing around here a lot lately (oh, look, there it goes again), and I really don’t want to go to the local store because I don’t happen to have a lemon or six eggs. So I challenge myself: what can I make using only ingredients in my fridge, freezer or pantry?

What do I have now? Frozen mussels and leftover Thanksgiving turkey. A pair of quinces. A celery root. Some parsnips. A number of spices I can’t even identify, and at least a dozen kinds of salt. All the staples, of course—sugar, flour, butter, eggs, milk. Six kinds of rice, and as many kinds of pasta. Surely there’s a dish waiting to be made somewhere in there?

This is a celery root. Ugly, isn't it?
But somebody tried really hard to make
it sound appealing

Celery root seems to be the prime candidate—you know, that gnarly thing that stays underground while that cluster of nice green stalks rises above it. However, I wanted to skip the obvious choices like puree of celery root, or celery root soup, or celery root gratin, some of which involve combining the celery root with potatoes or even apples. Trolling through Epicurious, I came upon an old recipe from Gourmet magazine that involved celery root and sea scallops. Sorry no scallops, I don’t have any scallops on hand. But I do have a nice filet of fresh (never-frozen) American-caught haddock, which is a sturdy white fish. Bingo. Swap in the haddock for the scallops, and the celeriac goes into a pungent remoulade sauce—for which I actually have all the ingredients!

Haddock with Celery Root Remoulade

Remoulade Sauce:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow pepper
1 Tblsp capers, drained and chopped
1 Tblsp Dijon mustard
1 Tblsp chopped shallot
1 Tblsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1-1/2 Tblsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1-lb celery root (aka celeriac)

Fish filets
Olive oil for sautéeing


Chop whatever needs chopping;

Mix together the sauce ingredients and season with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be made ahead and kept chilled.)

Sorry, it's still ugly

Peel the celery root (they’re lumpy critters!) and cut into matchsticks (okay, get real—I am not going to slice this thing into 1/8-inch sticks—I’ll settle for maybe 1/4-inch thickness). Add to the sauce and toss (taste for seasoning again and add salt and pepper if needed).

Season the fish lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the fish filet(s) until they’re cooked through. (I’ll admit, haddock seems to flake apart when you’re cooking it, so it doesn’t look very tidy.)

Serve on a plate with a mound of the remoulade alongside, and some kind of starch—I used pearl or Israeli couscous. Oops, everything on the plate seems to be white. Blame it on the snow.

As you can guess from the cover and the title, Cruel Winter takes place during a snowstorm. Don't worry--snow doesn't hang around in Ireland for very long. In this case, it's just long enough to solve an old murder. Maybe.

Coming March 14. You can pre-order it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. And after March 14 I hope you can find it everywhere!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chai Snickerdoodle Cookies #recipe @lucyburdette

LUCY BURDETTE: There are a couple of food catalogs that I can't resist, and usually I end up making something with one of their specialty products. This time it was King Arthur Flour's chai spice mixture containing ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and cloves. Of course, I could have ground all of that together myself, but this looked appealing and so easy. They also sell "chaidoodle" cookie mix, but I wanted to try my own, adjusted for lower sodium pleasure of course!

First I went in search of the perfect snickerdoodle cookie recipe, and ended up using a combination of the Joy of Cooking and Bessie Bakes. And then I rolled the cookies in a cinnamon plus chai mixture.

They were delicious and I will definitely make them again!

Two sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 and 1/2 tsp low-sodium baking powder
2 and 3/4 cups flour
2 eggs, room temperature

For the topping:

2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Chai spice

3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 375. Sift the dry ingredients (salt, sugar, and low-sodium baking powder) together and set aside. Using either a beater or a Kitchenaid mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, about 1 to 2 minutes after each addition. 

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients--don't beat too long or the cookies will be tough. Divide the dough into two parts and roll them into logs, wrapped with parchment paper. Refrigerate for two hours or freeze for one. (As you can see from my photo, this isn't a beauty contest, as you'll be rolling the cookies too.)

Mix the cinnamon, chai spice and sugar on a plate. Cut the logs into one-inch pieces and form them into balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon mixture and place them on 2 parchment-covered baking sheets. You should end up with about 2 dozen. Big ones!

Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, removing them as soon as the first cracks appear.

If you're lucky, you'll have one left over to munch with your morning coffee! I am having one right now to celebrate the news that there will be two more Key West food critic mysteries, courtesy of Crooked Lane Books. Hooray!

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram!