Sunday, September 20, 2015

Welcome guest author Molly MacRae!


The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries, published by Penguin/NAL. Molly’s short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990. After twenty years in northeast Tennessee, Molly lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois.

Take it away, Molly!
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A Lentil Salad to Make You Stand Up and Cheer

If you’re old enough to remember lentil salads of the health-conscious 70s, 80s, and 90s, then you’re probably backing away from this blog right now. The lentil salads I remember from that era were so . . . well-intentioned. People were on the right track, but it was a narrow track that didn’t go anywhere exciting. That’s always bothered me, because I like lentils. I love the peppery smell when they’re simmering on the stove. For years I’ve felt sure that someone, somewhere, could lift lentil salad out  
of the doldrums.

Enter Melody Gresham, owner of Mel’s on Main, the best (the only) café in Blue Plum Tennessee in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Mel tackled the problem of the namby-pamby lentil salad the way she tackles any difficult problem – with her spiked hair rampant and chef’s knife in hand. The lentil salad Mel wrestled to the ground is full of bright flavors and a toothsome mix of textures. Her salad makes a great main course for vegetarians and can be vegan if you omit the feta cheese. Mel took on the lentil salad and she won. And although you can’t go to Mel’s on Main to give it a try, you can make her salad easily enough at home. Here’s the recipe.

LENTIL SALAD

Ingredients

1 ½ cups brown or green lentils
2 small waxy potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
3 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Half a medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
6 radishes, sliced in thin rounds
Half a small red onion, finely diced (½ to ¾ cup)
Large handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
Large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lime (1 ½ tablespoons)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt
Black pepper
2 avocados, cubed or sliced

Rinse the lentils and put them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool.


Put the potatoes on a rimmed backing sheet, drizzle with ½ tablespoon of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven until tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Cool.

Combine the cooled lentils, potatoes, cucumber, radishes, onion, mint, parsley, and feta in a salad bowl. Add the lime juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1teaspoon salt and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Toss well. Top with avocado and serve.






 GIVEAWAY!

Do you have memories of lackluster health foods from years gone by? Can you think of a recipe you’d like Mel to tackle and give more punch? Leave your answer – and your email – in a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Each book has two recipes and a knitting pattern. 


You can find out more about Molly at www.mollymacrae.com. You can find her blogging on the first www.amyalessio.com and on the 23rd of each month at www.killercharacters.com.
Monday of each month at


Follow Molly on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter @mollymacrae1

65 comments:

  1. I don't know about ever being healthy but Chicken Salad is something I have worked with for years to bring some zest to AND make healthier...I am adding greek yogurt and fruit in place of mayonnaise...Please enter me in the contest...
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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    1. Greek yogurt and fruit are great additions to chicken salad, Mari! I've had it with apples, grapes, and raisins. I bet mango would be fantastic! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Do you have any great recipes involving avocados? I'm not a big fan of bananas (used as a natural sweetener), and we have a lot of raw organic honey. So far we have made 3 different recipes (pudding, drink, and as a sauce with noodles).
    Thank you for the recipe and giveaway.
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi! Jen. Maybe I can help. Haas Avocados has a web site with a lot of ideas for avocados. You can bake the, roast them. Make sauces with them. As a sauce for noodles, Chicken Avocado Enchiladas is good. Or Chicken and Avocado burritos. Better Homes and Garden also put several ideas and recipes for them in their August 3rd newsletter. I mash, add a little salt and pepper and plain greek yogurt and use as a spread for sandwiches as a healthier alternative to mayo or butter. My address is deepotter@peoplepc.com if you need more info. Be glad to help.

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    2. I LOVE avocados. Thanks, so much, for a great answer to Jen's question!

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  3. I love lentils. It's amazing that we don't do more with them. They're so good for us! I'm going to try your salad, Molly. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Let me know how you like it, Krista. The mint and lime are sparkling additions to the other flavors. Thanks for having me as a guest today. I'm in constant awe of the recipes you all post!

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  4. (Waving at Molly. Hey, you stole my cat!) Julia Child introduced me to lentils, a long time ago, but I've almost always made the hot version. I'll have to try them in a salad! As for healthy foods, I'm still trying to figure out why so many people like kale. It tastes like wrapping paper to me.

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    1. The cat was a stray who jumped into my arms out in California, Sheila. He purred and kneaded, and then he left. What a sweetie! As for kale . . . it's another nice salad addition raw. I've never tried kale chips, though, and am a little suspicious. But if someone wants to convince that they're fantastic, I'll be happy to try them.

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    2. I like kale in soups and stews and as a side dish.
      I thought kale chips sounded like a great idea.
      Not for me, they weren't!

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    3. I need to try kale in soup this winter!

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  5. Don't know that I have ever eaten lentils, may have to give them a try. Guess it's sad to say I can't think of any healthy recipes. I try to drink more water, but that's a challenge. Your book sounds great!!
    jawdance@yahoo.com

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    1. Give lentils a try, Judy. A nice thing about them is they're cheap. If you buy a little bag and hate them, it's no big deal to toss the rest. But you might like them! Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. My mother thought cottage cheese with canned peaches was the best for your diet. Didn't matter if you were trying to loose weight or just eat healthy - guess she didn't read the can.

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    1. I remember those days! Cottage cheese and canned fruit was the staple on restaurant menus in the "diet" column.

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  7. rhondajgothier@yahoo.com

    I would be interested in avocados as well. Love them but need additional recipes.

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    1. Scroll up to see the great answer about avocados from "Not Really" who says the Haas Avocados website has a lot of ideas. You'll find that at www.avocadocentral.com Thanks for stopping by today!

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    2. Hi! Rhonda. You might try Haas Avocados has a web site with a lot of ideas for avocados. You can bake them, fry them, roast them. Make sauces with them like for noodles, Chicken Avocado Enchiladas is good. Or Chicken and Avocado burritos. Better Homes and Garden also put several ideas and recipes for them in their August 3rd newsletter. I mash, add a little salt and pepper and plain greek yogurt and use as a spread for sandwiches as a healthier alternative to mayo or butter. My address is deepotter@peoplepc.com if you need more info. Be glad to help.

      Delete
  8. Thanks for the recipe! cheers@marjimmanor.com

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    1. You're welcome - give it a try and let me know how you like it!

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  9. What a great alternative to potato salad! I'll have to try it. suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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  10. This looks really good. I love the addition of the avocados, but I do tend to think that they make just about anything better. My mom was a pretty good cook and really didn't focus on anything in the "health food" category. pattie.tierney@gmail.com

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    1. Oh yeah, a good avocado . . . I love them. We make a great grilled cheese sandwich with sliced avocado, bacon, diced jalapenos, and pepper jack cheese on sourdough bread. MMmmmm.

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  11. I like lentils and will have to add this to my "recipes to try" cache. As far as healthy, it is not a specific recipe, but I am glad to see us moving away from taking all of the fat out of something only to add gobs of sugar and salt in an effort to make it palatable. Thanks for the giveaway! dmskrug3@hotmail.com

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    1. I know what you mean, Daniele, especially because fat helps deliver the flavors. A little fat, zestier seasonings, moderation in most places, and we're all good.

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  12. I have never cooked with lentils. pwtish171@gmail.com

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    1. Then you're in for a treat, Trish! Thanks for stopping by.

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  13. I've not cooked with lentils, although I've had wonderful lentil soup at various restaurants. The recipe will be a keeper! Thanks for sharing a new-to-me book! kat8762@aol.com

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen! I hope you enjoy both the recipe and the book!

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  14. Hello!
    Being Vegan has opened my eyes up to the Lentil community! My hubby makes a killer Taco filling & Sloppy Joes with Red lentils (my favorite!)... I've even gotten the family to enjoy the Indian dish Dal to boot!
    This dish sounds fab~ we're gonna try it soon, Thanks!

    ~Kelly Gaelicark@yahoo.com

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    1. We made vegan biscuits and gravy with a lentil gravy that was out of this world. No need for that white sauce swimming with sausage. I'd love to try your tacos and sloppy joes!

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    2. Can you share the lentil gravy recipe?

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    3. I found it in the Thug Kitchen cookbook. If you aren't familiar with Thug Kitchen, be prepared. Good recipes, very coarse language. You can find the recipe by typing "thug kitchen biscuits and gravy" into Google. But, as I say, be prepared for their unusual approach!

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  15. My husband will be excited to try this recipe!!! $ ps...I love your books!

    ejbs3s@yahoo.com

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    1. I love hearing both those things and hope you and your husband love the salad as much as you love the books. Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. Thought I pushed publish. Guess not. Della at deepotter@peoplepc.com. Use lentils in my Calico Bean Soup. But haven't tried in a salad. This recipe has all the items we like so we will have to give it a try. Thanks

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    1. I bet you'll love it as much as we do at my house!

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  17. I've never tried lentils other than in bean soup, so will need to give this recipe a try. But more of a priority is giving your series a try!! Thank you for the giveaway! bskts4unme@hotmail.com

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    1. Cool! Hope you like the salad AND the books. Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. Cheryl, by random generator pick, you are the winner of Molly's giveaway. She will be in touch via email! Congratulations!!

      ~Daryl

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  18. I have never tried lentils. I may have to now. The recipe sounds good. What I would like is a recipe to make Great Northern Beans palatable for me. My fiance' loves them but the only way I've ever had them is can-to-pot-to-plate. Not good in my opinion. Any recipes for those?
    Megan
    lydnatmom84@outlook.com

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    1. Good question, Megan! What flavors do you like? Do you like spicy? I'll see what I can come up with.

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  19. Love your cat's splayed front paw.

    Good for you recipes? How about nut/bean loaf. The kind that can double as a door stopper? You were sure it was good for you because it was so...chewy!
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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    1. Oh yeah, some of those nut/bean combinations were deadly! Say - an idea for a mystery? LOL!

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  20. Radishes I grew up knowing they were good for me but there has to be something that can be done to make them exciting other than raw.
    Please enter me in giveaway.

    Diane Rivera
    quickchangeus@yahoo.com

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    1. Roasted radishes are amazing, Diane. Here's a recipe we've used. http://bit.ly/1iHyTb6 They're a completely different vegetable when roasted!

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  21. I don't understand the coconut water thing. I have tried a half dozen different brands and none of them taste good to me.
    Your recipes sounds good, though.
    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

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    1. I haven't tried coconut water. Is there supposed to be a health benefit from drinking it? If you try the lentil salad, I hope you like it. Thanks for stopping by, today!

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  22. How about a good goulash? Perfect time of year for it.
    Zeta@iwon.com

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    1. MMmmm, goulash! I haven't had that in years. Thanks for the reminder!

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  23. In Southern Ohio we made "Johnny Marzetti", a goulash of noodles, ground beef, tomatoes, peppers and cheese; lots of cheese. Wish there was a vegetarian, healthy version.

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    1. I wonder if you could use portabello mushrooms in place of the ground beef? They always seem so meaty to me. Or a combination of portabellos and eggplant? I'd like to find a really good vegetarian version of chilli, too, but haven't so far.

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  25. My family are not big on veggies (or fruits). My father is a meat and potatoes type of man so that is what my mother fixed (there would be an overcooked veggie as a side dish). I do like corn on the cob! Lots of butter. I am looking forward to reading Knot the Usual Suspects (so many books in my TBR pile). Keep writing wonderful books for us to read! Doodlesink@Hotmail.com

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  26. My mom always made things "healthy" when I was growing up - lots of fruit, veggies and whole grains for every meal. She even bought whole wheat berries and made her own flour for whole wheat bread. I remember the bread being tasty but super dense and dry :) Would love to read your book! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!!! kimdavishb@gmail.com

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    1. Her own flour - cool! Your mom sounds like my kind of woman. Sorry about the super dense and dry bread, though. :) Thanks for stopping by today.

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  27. I'm not thinking so much of the health food as the foods I had to make because our daughter had reactions to some things. She couldn't handle dairy or corn products so I made all of our bread and I even made summer sausage so she could have sandwiches. Our meals were much more basic. Fortunately she out grew those issues.

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

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    1. I'm glad to hear she grew out of those issues, Elaine. How cool that you made your own summer sausage! Nice to see you here, today. Thanks for stopping by.

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  28. Ha, my daughter and I were just talking about this today: How do you make asparagus good and not have the texture of a corn stalk?
    Your mystery sounds great too.
    eeyore722@gmail.com

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    1. Cindy, Try grilling your asparagus or roasting it. A little olive oil and salt and pepper. It's definitely a change from just boiling. Remember to prepare by snapping off the bottoms which is definitely the corn stalk texture.

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  29. I remember visiting small head shop/restaurants hidden away in out of the way neighborhoods. We'd feel great about ordering brown rice to "snack" on because it was healthy and "cool".

    Nowadays I prefer my lentils the Sephardic way. Lentils and rice with low and slow cooked onions served with either sour cream or Greek Yogurt on it. It's called Mi Jedra.

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  30. Now I must see about getting some lentils to try. Thanks so much for the yummy recipe. I too am an avocado lover whether it is guacamole or sliced with a squirt of lime. The picture of you and cat. robeader53@yahoo.com

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