Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How to Make an Iced Vanilla Latte or Iced Mocha for #NationalCoffeeMilkshakeDay by Cleo Coyle

As this blog's resident java maven, I thought a frozen coffee drink would be the perfect menu offering for National Coffee Milkshake Day, not to mention the sweltering summer heat we're feeling this week.

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

You may know this drink 
by any of these names: 

Frappuccino is the most common. (Starbucks trademarked this portmanteau of the words Frapp
é  and Cappuccino after buying the Coffee Connection chain in New England, which had previously trademarked it.) Or maybe you know the drink as a...

Coolatta (the Dunkin' Donuts version) or...

Mochalatta (Cinnabon's version) or...

McCafe frozen coffee drink, which is listed on McDonald's menu simply as an...

Iced Vanilla Latte or 

Iced Mocha (the chocolate version).

Well, now it's time for me to whip up my version of this drink, one I first introduced on this blog years ago--the Chilly Cleoccino! It's an easy (and much more economical) way to make this popular summer drink in your own home. 

Why so easy?

The typical first step in a drink like this is to make "double-strength" coffee. The reason is to keep the coffee flavor from being diluted by the addition of ice. My solution? Don't use ice. Make ice out of your regular brewed coffee (or espresso if you prefer). 

What I simply do is make a larger pot of my usual morning Joe and pour the leftover coffee into an empty ice cube tray. First step done. Easy! As for the next step, keep reading...and may you drink with frozen latte joy!

~ Cleo

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

Cleo Coyle's Frozen Coffee Frappé 

(Iced Vanilla Latte or Iced Mocha)

Makes one 8-ounce serving


1/3 cup brewed coffee or espresso (4 coffee ice cubes)

1/3 cup milk (low fat is fine)

2 teaspoons sugar (or more if you like your drinks sweeter)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (makes a mochaccino)

Whipped cream (optional)

DIRECTIONS: Fill an ice cube tray with brewed coffee or espresso and freeze. (Allow the coffee to come to room temperature before filling the tray.) 

Place four of your coffee ice cubes in a blender. Add milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and (optional) cocoa for a frozen mocha. Pulse the blender to chop the coffee cubes into fine particles.

You can create an icy drink with small chips (like a frozen margarita) or run the blender full speed until the mixture is completely liquefied yet still cold and frothy. To finish, pour this frosty refresher into a glass mug and top with whipped cream.

One last piece of advice:

Watch your CAT if he starts 
to eyeball your Copycat Frap!

Or this may happen to you...

My cat Nemo and (what was) my Frappuccino!

Stay cool, everyone, and...

Drink with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

* * *

Our newest mystery is now

a bestselling hardcover!

Coffee. It can get a girl killed.

Amazon * B&N

A Mystery Guild Selection
A Baker & Taylor "Trends" Pick
Three "Best of Year" Reviewer Lists

Dead to the Last Drop 
is a culinary mystery with 
more than 25 delicious recipes!

See the free illustrated 
Recipe Guide by clicking here.

*  *  *

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


(with mini plot summaries)

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

Get a free title checklist, 
with mini plot summaries, 

Or learn more about the 
books and meet Jack Shepard, 
our PI ghost by clicking here.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Zucchini Brownies

Zucchini plants are so lovely. They require next to no care and they just give and give. I happen to be a fan, so I'm cooking a lot of zucchini right now, and I thought I would give Zucchini Brownies a try.

I have to wonder who the first person was to put zucchini with chocolate. It seems such an unlikely combination. It works, though! I have a recipe that I love for chocolate zucchini walnut cake but this time I wanted brownies. Smaller bites. Less formal.

In addition, I wanted to cut back on the number of gadgets used and bowls to wash. I was only semi-successful with that quest.

Obviously, the zucchini had to be shredded. That meant involving the food processor. Hmm. How to use only the food processor and not the mixer? Feeling inspired, I mixed all the ingredients except the zucchini and chocolate chips in the food processor and let it run for about five minutes. It worked beautifully!

Next step, shred the zucchini. Uh oh. This was not the perfect order in which to use the food processor because I had to take out the covered-in-chocolate blade and add the shredding blade. In addition, if you're going to shred extra zucchini for later use, this isn't ideal because it will have chocolate remnants on it. So my recommendation is to shred the zucchini first, pour it into a large bowl, wipe clean with a paper towel, swap blades, and then deal with the batter.

It required an extra bowl for mixing everything anyway, so I'm not sure my plan really succeeded in reducing dirty dishes, however,  the batter was gorgeous.

Originally, I thought I might add a fudgy frosting. But when it came out of the oven and we greedily tasted the warm brownies, we didn't think they needed anything else. After refrigerating them, I personally thought they were better at room temperature. If you want to dress them up, you can serve them cut large for dessert with a drizzle of chocolate (definitely for chocoholics!), or  a drizzle of raspberry sauce, or a dab of whipped cream or ice cream. Or be very simple and very chic by simply dusting with powdered sugar.

Zucchini Brownies

1/2 cup (1 8-ounce stick) unsalted butter
2 cups shredded zucchini (about one 8-inch long zucchini)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup plain sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13x9 baking pan.

Melt the butter and set aside.

Place the shredding disk in a food processor and shred the zucchini. Place in a large bowl.

Wipe the processor bowl and switch to the sharp processing blade. Add the sugars and butter to the bowl and process about 2 minutes until combined. Add the eggs, coffee/espresso, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Process about 4 minutes. Add the cocoa and the flour. Process, scraping the sides as necessary, until thick and smooth, about 2-3 more minutes,.

Pour over the zucchini and add chocolate chips. Stir together until combined. Pour into baking pan and bake 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Who would think zucchini would go with chocolate?

This is almost a dump recipe!
Smooth and thick.

Mix with zucchini and chocolate chips.

Dress up with a drizzle of chocolate. If it's 90+ degrees, serve with ice cream!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Diana Abu-Jaber: Life Without A Recipe #giveaway

LUCY BURDETTE: I'm so pleased to introduce you to one of my favorite writers! I first heard Diana Abu-Jaber speak at the Key West Literary Seminar's conference on food writing. Then I began to inhale her books. She writes both memoir and fiction and today she's sharing an easy but delicious dessert recipe, and giving away a copy of her new memoir. But win or not, I hope you all take the chance to enjoy this lovely book!

DIANA ABU-JABER: Food memories are at the center of much my second memoir, Life Without a Recipe. And the reality is that I wasn’t raised with recipes but apprenticeship—watching my immigrant father at work in the kitchen, translating his personal history into dishes. I still prefer this approach to cooking—eclectic, improvisational, led by ingredients, climate, seasons, rather than a plan.

In my father’s Jordanian culture, baked desserts, like baklava, tend to be reserved for special occasions. Coffee, sweet tea, oranges, dates and almonds are more typical daily treats. Such simple fare would never satisfy my dessert-crazy grandmother or mother, though.  This recipe is a great compromise—based on berries and little else. I got the idea from a recipe for Strawberry Ice at www.Food52.com. It’s wonderfully refreshing in the middle of the summer and so easy, I can make it on a daily basis with whatever berries I’ve got in the freezer. It’s also so simple, I rather call it a non-recipe—a preparation so direct and intuitive it pretty much isn’t a recipe at all. 

Iced Cherries
Serves two

½ C Heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar (optional)
1¼ C frozen cherries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons chopped chocolate chips (optional)

Start by whipping about a half cup of heavy cream with a half-teaspoon vanilla. My daughter and I like whipped cream, so we make extra. You could add a teaspoon or two of confectioner’s sugar, but to me that’s just gilding the lily.


Throw a good-sized cup of frozen cherries into the blender (this also works with frozen blueberries, raspberries, strawberries—whatever you have stashed away in the freezer.) Add a tablespoon of sugar. Pulse until it’s ground up into a coarse mix.

In theory, you’re now supposed to freeze the berry mixture for a few hours before serving, but we always have this straight out of the blender.

 Place berries in two bowls with a couple of good-sized dollops of whipped cream and you’re done. If you’re feeling decadent, you can sprinkle some chopped chocolate chips on top of the whipped cream or stir it into the cherries. It’s light, liberating, and best of all, it’s delicious. It’s also a nice switch up from ice cream. I could eat this stuff all summer long—and pretty much I do.

Life Without a Recipe is Diana’s celebration of journeying without a map, of learning to ignore the script and improvise, of escaping family and making family on one’s own terms. As Diana discovers, however, building confidence in one’s own path sometimes takes a mistaken marriage or two―or in her case, three. It also takes a good deal of angst (was it possible to have a serious writing career and be a mother?) and, even when she knew what she wanted (the craziest thing, in one’s forties: a baby!), the nerve to pursue it.
Finally, fearlessly independent like the Grace she’s named after, Diana and Scott’s daughter Gracie will heal all the old battles with Bud and, like her writer-mom, learn to cook up a life without a recipe.

Diana Abu-Jaber is the author of two memoirs: Life Without A Recipe-- an Indie Next pick--and The Language of Baklava, as well as four novels, including Birds of ParadiseOrigin; Crescent; and Arabian Jazz. Her YA fantasy novel SilverWorld is forthcoming from Random House. Diana teaches writing and literature at Portland State University and lives with her husband and daughter in Fort Lauderdale.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sambuca Shrimp: because you're worth it! #recipe #mystery #appetizer @AbbottMysteries

For many years, our favorite appetizer at good Italian restaurants has been Sambuca shrimp. After the last time, I decided we would have to try to make it.  On that day, the restaurant (Babbo’s in Manotick) was so busy, there was no way to ask for the recipe, so I did my best to reconstruct it using a collection of recipe books and wading through offerings on the web.  When I thought we had a good version, I tried it as the appetizer at our writing group’s annual retreat when Erika Chase/Linda Wiken and I (MJ/Victoria Abbott) were in charge of one dinner.  Over the next two weeks, you will get to see the recipes we used and you might figure out that we have fun. 

So let’s start off with:

 Sambuca Shrimp 

All you need is:

1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined. Shrimp may be fresh or thawed (and dried off)
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup whipping cream (35 %)
4 ounces Sambuca liqueur

Sea salt and ground pepper to taste.

Serves four as an appetizer.  May be added to cooked rice or pasta as a main dish. 


All you do is:

Melt 2 tbsp of butter and mix well with minced garlic and whipping cream. Chill until ready to use. At this point, you can marinate the shrimp in two ounces of the Sambuca. Discard this marinade before cooking.

In a cast-iron frying pan (if you’re lucky enough to have one!) melt one tablespoon of butter.  Sauté the shrimp until just pink. Add additional two ounces of Sambuca and flambé. This is great fun and it is nice if you have an audience,  We had a bit of a hassle getting the shrimp to flame, but poured some extra (!) Sambuca in the center and tried another match.  Perfect! Too bad the flame was gone before we could take a photo.

Remove from heat and add the cream mixture.

Return to stove top and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add a bit of sea salt and ground pepper if you want.  

Serve shrimp on individual small plates and pour cream sauce over.  Our hostess, the mystery writer, Joan Boswell, gets the first plate.  She deserves it!

These were a huge hit and that's a good thing.  It appears we will be making them forever, as we now have a large bottle of Sambuca.  Here’s a cosmic question:  Why do the bottles of specialty liquor or liqueurs always come in large bottles when all you need is four ounces or even one tablespoon?  Never mind. You're worth it!

Speaking of cosmic questions.  How do you like our fedoras?  They're our way of celebrating the count-down to The Hammett Hex.   Probably Hammett is rolling in his grave, but we like them anyway.

And now, (DRUM ROLL)  here's the trailer for The Hammett HexWatch the trailer!

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Happy summer reading, everyone!