Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas Salad

Christmas salad? Really? Isn't this the wrong season? Well, it is red and green and white, and I have an excuse—a new toy. Meet my spiralizer.

It all started in Skibbereen a couple of weeks ago, when we had lunch at the café attached to the West Cork Arts Center. Those nice people were responsible for the amazing red (beet and carrot) soup I wrote about here a while back. They make good food there, including desserts, which of course we had to investigate thoroughly.

They had a beet salad on the menu. Have I mentioned before that I don’t like beets? Well, I’ll have to edit that opinion: I don’t like the gummy sweet kind my mother used to serve. But the simple raw version is growing on me, so I tried the salad.

What was intriguing was that the beets formed a kind of spaghetti-like cluster on top of the greens. You’d think by now I’d have every kitchen gadget known to humankind, but somehow I’d missed the spiralizer. So now I have one (a rather rudimentary version, I will admit—I will have to investigate further options).

Before I tackled the beet recipe I had to experiment with the little critter. Carrots bombed—too tough. Turnips worked once I peeled them. So did potatoes. The zucchini was a pleasant surprise--it worked very well. Apples were a disaster—they fell apart. But the raw beets, once peeled, came out fine. (Note: I now have a stash of vegetable strings in the fridge. Not all would I want to eat raw, so I parboiled the tougher ones for a couple of minutes before refrigerating them. Haven’t gotten to all of them yet, but I fried up the potato strings and they cooked up nice and crisp.)




I tracked down whichever salad green has the red stems (the packages weren’t much help—mostly they say something like “Leafy Medley. The Irish call them “mixed leaves” on menus) which was what the café used, and which fit the holiday color theme. Putting the salad together is simple:

--wash your leaves if necessary and spin dry. Array on individual medium-size plates.

--shred the beets.

--make a nest of your shredded beets (or whatever other vegetables you’re using) on top of the leaves.

--sprinkle with sunflower seeds (the white note)—toasting them briefly gives them a slightly mellower flavor, if you have the time and space in your oven.

--drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette (or any non-creamy dressing)


In hindsight I think marinating the shredded beets in the dressing would have been a good idea, but not for too long or they’d get soggy and limp.

The result? A pretty, easy-to-make dish to add to your holiday table.

And a giveaway! While the next County Cork Mystery, Many a Twist, will be out next month, I thought it would be more appropriate for the season to give away a hardcover copy of Cruel Winter, which takes place during a blizzard and involves cooking for a group of stranded strangers who are snowed in at the pub--and one of them might be a murderer.

Leave a comment by the end of Sunday and I'll pick a winner!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Swedish Coffee Bread, a Christmas Tradition #recipe from Linda Wiken, author

It's Christmas Week on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen and, Christmas Baking Week at my house and that means just one thing, Swedish Coffee Bread. And, I mean one thing. That's all I bake. I admit it, I'm not into desserts (although I can be persuaded to eat the odd chocolatey mousse or Yule Log). But it wouldn't be Christmas without the aroma and taste of this delicious Swedish Coffee bread.

My Mom made it every year that I can remember and my Dad would wake me Christmas morning when it was still dark out, bringing me a cup of freshly-brewed coffee and a slice of coffee bread. I loved it and didn't even mind the early hour. In fact, it was exciting, eating my treat in bed then getting washed and dressed, to drive the empty streets to our church for the early morning service. It would start with candles and by the time the service was over, it would be light outside. Magical.

I slid into the role of official Sundman Swedish Coffee Bread baker and have upheld the tradition for many years, some more memorable and tasty than others. The memory and the taste are all rolled into one. I wear her Christmas apron when I'm baking. And I know she's there with me as I'm kneading and rolling the dough, sometimes pinching her lips, often smiling. That's Christmas to me.

This year, I did try a somewhat different recipe than the standard one, mainly because it doesn't call for milk, which is something I need to avoid. I don't know if it's because of that but although the bread takes delicious, it's not quite the same. And, something else that's different, I added some almond slices to part of one loaf, because my brother-in-law likes it that way. You could also added dried fruit as an extra treat.

Next year, I'm back to the basics but this year, we'll all enjoy this tradition with a new twist!

What you'll need:

6 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
2 packages active dry yeast
1 tsp. crushed cardamom seed
1 large eggs, room temperature
2. c. warm water
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter (or margarine) softened
1 tbsp milk (I used almond milk)
sugar for sprinkling on top

What to do:
 Pre-measure all ingredients and have at the ready. Sprinkle yeast into 2 c. warm water in a large mixing bowl and let stand for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to bloom. Stir.

Stir in 1 egg, 1/3 c. sugar, salt, cardamom, butter and about 1/2 the flour.  Use an electric mixer or stir by hand until mixed then add the remaining flour. Continue to stir until the dough is soft and can form a large ball.

Place the dough in a greased large bowl, then turn over to grease the other side. Cover and place in a warm spot for 1 hour. It should then be doubled in size.

Punch down then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for at least 5 minutes. It should be smooth and free from all bubbles.

Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape into ropes that are approx. 1 inch wide. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use 3 at a time to form two braids. Cover with a cloth and place in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Mix the remaining egg, lightly beaten, with the milk and brush onto the braids. Sprinkle with sugar. Now's the time to add any other festive toppings you'd like. Place in a pre-heated 375 F oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned and thoroughly baked. Remove and cool on a rack before slicing.


 Coming March, 2018
Marinating in Murder, book #3

ROUX THE DAY, A Dinner Club Mystery is now available in paper and as an e-book. 
Recipes included!

TOASTING UP TROUBLE, the first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.  
Recipes included!

Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

Visit Linda at
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at

Visit Erika at 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Peppermint Bark Candy recipe + A DEADLY ÉCLAIR #giveaway from @DarylWoodGerber

Holiday Giveaway!  
It's Christmas week on Mystery Lovers Kitchen.
To celebrate, I'm giving away another copy of A DEADLY ÉCLAIR. 
Tis the season to be jolly!

I've done all my giving to the groups I donate to, 
like the American Cancer Society, Michael J. Fox Parkinson's,
Keep Tahoe Blue, Pets in Need, Feeding America, and Toys for Tots, 
but I felt I needed to do more. 

So here you go... (See below)

After all my moaning a few weeks ago, I bought a double boiler! Well, actually not a double boiler -- a double boiler attachment pan to set over any of a large saucepan. Like this Cuisinart one. What a find! It worked like a dream for this recipe. I never worried that I might overcook the chocolate.

Don’t you love finding a new kitchen item that you absolutely must have in your kitchen? For years, I’d always worked around “not having a double-boiler" before. Set one pot in the other. Hope the water stays in the pan. Spit, spit, ouch!

I'm so glad I finally treated myself! Merry Christmas to me. An early present. 

This candy should make the perfect present for you to give to lots of people.


Peppermint Bark Candy

12 ounces good quality semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
12 ounces white chocolate * make sure it has cocoa butter (I used Ghirardelli)
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
10-12 miniature peppermint candy canes, about ½ cup crushed (I used mini candy canes because they’re easy to remove from wrappers)

15 x 9 pan
baking spray like Pam
aluminum foil
plastic bag
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line the 15 x 9 pan with foil. Spray with baking spray.

Place the squares of chocolate in an even layer on the foil. Place in the oven for five minutes. When melted, remove and smooth with spatula.  Let cool about 5 minutes, then place in refrigerator (on a towel or something) until cold and firm, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat water in a saucepan to simmer. Top with the double-boiler attachment, and melt the white chocolate. This takes about 10 minutes. Stir to get all the cubes of chocolate to the bottom. Don’t let the water touch the bottom of the double boiler or the chocolate will cook too fast.

Remove white chocolate from heat once melted and stir in the peppermint extract.  *Important.  Let the chocolate cool a bit before spreading on top of the refrigerated chocolate. At least 15 – 20 minutes.

I didn’t wait long enough. I think I waited about 12-13 minutes. Oops! So I got a swirl of dark chocolate mixed with white chocolate, but don’t despair if you’re as impatient as I am. The crushed peppermint covered my “mistake.”  I love that!

While waiting for the white chocolate to cool, crush your peppermints. I used mini candy canes. I snipped them out of their loose bags and put them into a baggie.  I then put that baggie into a larger, sturdier bag. Good move. I whacked them with a mallet and though the mallet created holes in the baggie, the peppermint didn’t get loose.

Remove chocolate from the refrigerator. Pour white chocolate over the chocolate layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle with crushed peppermints. Using the back of a clean spoon, press the candy into the chocolate.

Chill for an hour, until boy layers are firm. Lift the foil out of the pan. I set the flat block of candy on a layer of parchment paper.  And then I hand-broke the pieces. The best way to break is with a downward motion. Chill the pieces in a covered container.

If desired, put into decorative cellophane bags and tie with ribbon to give as gifts.

See how the peppermint covers up the mistakes? Yay!

Set on parchment.

Crack in a downward motion.


I'm giving away another copy of A DEADLY ÉCLAIR. I'll pick the winner Friday. PS If you already have a copy of the book, you can always win this one to give as a GIFT.
If that's the case and you win, I'll throw in some swag for you.

Caveat... I'm on the road visiting a new "grandchild"  - not my grandchild.
More like my grand-nephew, but my darling nephew is like my son,
so I call all his kids my grandchildren and they call me Didi.

Anyway, I'm on the road, so I won't be responding today.
Even so, to enter this giveaway, please tell me one book title that is in your TBR pile?
I think many of us need to create a 2018 TBR pile and we could use suggestions!

Here's a bit about A Deadly Éclair, just in case you don't know...

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

"I have been looking forward to the book since I first saw the cover pop up on Facebook and it certainly exceeded my expectations. As a fan of the author’s Cheese Shop Mysteries and Cookbook Nook Mysteries, I knew the characters would be strong and the food descriptions would have my mouth watering and I was right." ~ Escape with Dollycas Blog

Savor the mystery!

Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
Follow Daryl on Twitter
Follow Avery on Twitter
Follow both of us on Pinterest
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.

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

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.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Little Eggnog Crumb Cakes from Cleo Coyle

Marc and I always look forward to the flavors of the holiday season, including (and especially) eggnog. Tender and rich, these little cakes magically capture the rich and beautiful flavor of eggnog. They are superb paired with coffee, which makes them a lovely breakfast treat, a satisfying afternoon snack, and even a delight on dessert and party trays, especially during these December holidays. 

Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah (which begins at sundown this evening) or Christmas, which is fast on its way, we wish you peace, love, joy...and happy feasting! ~ Cleo 

Now let's start baking...

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

A Note from Cleo

Our readers may remember a version of this recipe from our Coffeehouse Mystery Holiday Buzz, a fun and festive read for the holiday season. Our amateur sleuth (coffeehouse manger Clare) finds a body after catering a glittering Christmas party and is quickly pulled into a case that once again puts her on the path to solving more than one New York mystery. 

To see more of the recipes we featured in Holiday Buzz, click here for the Free Recipe Guide.

To learn more
or download the Free
Recipe Guide, click here.
As for these little cakes, they are delicious and addictive. Frankly, Marc and I find it hard to stop eating them. In this version of the recipe, you may notice I use the crumb mixture in two layers. The top layer, of course, creates a crunchy, sweet streusel. The layer in the center is there for another reason--and not striation. Instead, it magically melts into the batter, keeping the cupcake crumb extra-moist during the high-heat baking (which is necessary for the proper rise). The nutmeg in the crumb mixture also boosts the flavor, both inside and on top of the little cakes. 

Now let's get to it: festive cupcakes for the feasting season. May you bake with love and eat with joy to the world! 

☕ ~ Cleo Coyle, author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries


To download this recipe in a PDF
document that you can print,
save, or share, click here.

Click here for the
Free Recipe PDF

Cleo Coyle's Little 
Eggnog Crumb Cakes

Makes 6 cupcakes 

For the crumb topping

1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of baking powder
2-1/2 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

For the cupcakes

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup white, granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten with fork
1/3 cup eggnog
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour, spoon into cup and level off

Step 1—Make crumb topping: First preheat your oven to 375° F. Make the crumb topping. (See directions at the end of this recipe.) Set the crumb topping into the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the batter.

Step 2—Mix batter: Using an electric mixer, cream the softened butter and two sugars in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg, eggnog, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla extract, and blend well. Finally, add the flour and mix only until a smooth, thick batter forms. (The flour should be completely incorporated into the batter, but do not over-mix at this stage or you'll develop the gluten in the flour and your muffins will be tough instead of tender.) 

Step 3—Prep for baking: Line 6 cups of a non-stick cupcake pan with paper liners. Place a dollop of the thick batter into each cup...

Sprinkle a light layer of crumb topping over each of the dollops. (This interior layer of crumb mixture will melt into the cakes, keeping them moist during the high-heat baking.)

Add the rest of the batter, dividing evenly among the 6 cups. Top the batter with the all of the remaining crumb mixture. 

Step 4—Bake and cool: Bake for 20 minutes in your well-pre-heated 375° F. oven. Do not over-bake. The crumb cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into a test cake comes out clean of wet batter. Like all cookies and cakes, these Little Eggnog Cakes are delicate when hot and will fall apart if roughly handled. So please do allow them to cool a bit before handling and serving, and they’ll set up just fine. Then start that pot of coffee and get ready to eat with pure joy!

How to Make Crumb Topping

Crumb topping is easy to make with or without a food processor. I'm sharing both methods below...

To prepare with a food processor: 

Place all “crumb topping” ingredients inside the food processor and pulse until you see coarse crumbs. Take care not to over-work the mixture. You do not want chunks of wet dough, just coarse crumbs. NOTE: If you over-process the topping into dough, all is not lost. You can correct the mistake by adding flour 1 tablespoon at time and pulsing until you see crumbs. Now set the crumb topping into the refrigerator to chill while you make the batter. FYI: You can store the finished crumb topping in a plastic container, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

To mix by hand: 

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, nutmeg and pinch of baking powder. Add the cubes of cold butter and using clean fingers squeeze and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture turns into coarse crumbs. Any large lumps should be worked on until the mixture resembles the coarse crumbs in my photos. NOTE: If you over-work the topping into dough, all is not lost. You can correct the mistake by working in more flour, 1 tablespoon at time, until you see crumbs. Set aside in the refrigerator to chill while you make the batter. FYI: You can store the finished crumb topping in a plastic container, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

Click here for the
Free Recipe PDF

Happy Holidays, 

☕ ☕ ☕

Eat with joy to the world!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Alice and Marc in Central Park. 
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

Learn more about us here.
Friend us on facebook here.
Follow us on twitter here.
Visit our online coffeehouse here.

🎄   🎄 

Holiday BuzzA Coffeehouse 
Holiday Mystery!

To buy now, click links for... 

With Recipes for
Holiday Cookies and
Festive food and drinks...

To learn more about
the book, click here

☕  ☕  ☕



Find out by watching our fun, 
new Book Video (below) 
or view it on Facebook 

Our newest Coffeehouse Mystery is
now a bestseller in hardcover!

Top 10 Best Mysteries
for Book Clubs 2017

A "Most Wanted"
Mystery Guild Selection

To buy now, click links for... 


This culinary mystery includes
more than 25 delicious recipes!
To get the Free Recipe Guide, 


☕ ☕ ☕

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
16 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


See mini plot summaries 
for every title and news on
 Cleo's next release!

🔎 🔎 🔎

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

To get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 

To learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost...



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