Showing posts with label A Cupcake Baker Mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A Cupcake Baker Mystery. Show all posts

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Welcome guest author Jenn McKinlay

     On New Year’s Day, the Hub and I were invited to a delightful open house at a musician friend’s abode.  Now this was in Tempe, AZ where the temperature should have been a blissful 68 degrees, you know, jeans and long sleeve shirt weather with no jacket required, but it was not.  No, instead it was a bone chilling 41 degrees and left all of us desert rats scrambling for real estate around the fire pit and strategically placed space heaters.
     Yes, I know that my family in New England would consider anything in the forties a glorious respite from the negative digits, but for us southwestern folk, it was bitterly, frigidly cold.  One of the party goers even wrapped herself up from head to toe in a thick wool blanket.  In conversations, we could see our breath puff out in white clouds when we spoke -- at mid-day, in central Arizona, it boggled!
     Still, the music and laughter and good times commenced, musicians are a hearty lot, and the large table sagged under the weight of all the food, which was plentiful and diverse, always a good thing.  Looking for something that would toast up my insides, I spotted a huge crock pot of pozole rojo made by one of the guys, a guitar player named Dave.  Don’t you love when men are good cooks? 
     Elbows were thrown, mostly between me and the Hub, as we zeroed in on the delicious, warm up your nether regions soup.  We both had a heaping bowl, and Hub circled back for seconds. I have to say as a cold weather curative, it worked like a charm. 
     Naturally, I then had to learn how to make it.  So to help you keep warm during this last gasp of winter, here’s the recipe I cobbled together from a couple of different sources.  Enjoy!  And remember, spring has to come eventually, right? 

Pozole Rojo

2 ounces dried chiles de arbol
6 cloves garlic (2 smashed, 4 finely chopped)
Kosher salt
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon dried oregano                                      1 bay leaf
3 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish options: Diced avocado, shredded cabbage, diced onion, sliced radishes and/or fresh cilantro

Break the stems off the chiles de arbol and shake out as many seeds as possible (do not rub your nose while touching the peppers – I did – and YOWZA!).  Tip: Wear food prep gloves if you have them. Put the chiles in a bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water, for about 30 minutes, until soft. Transfer the chiles and 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid to a blender. Add the smashed garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pushing the sauce through with a rubber spatula; discard the solids.

Rub the pork all over with the cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high. Push the onion and garlic to one side of the pot; add the pork to the other side and sear, turning, until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

In a large crock pot, stir in the chicken broth, oregano, bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the chile sauce (depending on your taste). Setting the crock pot on low, carefully add the pork, onions and garlic from the large pot, let the pork cook for about 4 hours.

Lastly, stir in the garbanzo beans and continue to cook for one more hour, until the pork is tender and starts falling apart. Remove the bay leaf. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and use two forks to shred the meat then return it to the pot. Add some water or broth if the pozole is too thick. Season with salt to taste and serve with assorted garnishments.

Jenn is the NYT bestselling author of a several mysteries series and lives in sunny AZ in a house overrun with kids, pets, and her husband's guitars.

Find Jenn on her website or on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome our guest, Jenn McKinlay!

We have a special treat today, Wednesday. A guest!  Whee! Don't you love surprises?

Welcome our guest, Jenn McKinlay. Jenn is the fabulous NYT bestselling author of A Cupcake Baker Mystery and so much more! Her latest: Going, Going, Ganache!

Take it away, Jenn!

For the love of bacon and Larry!

Here's how to get what you want in my house. It starts with me asking the Hub to do whatever, which is always greeted with an affirmative. Yay! The speed of completion of the requested task varies, however, and I've discovered that if I up the ante (otherwise known as a bribe) things tend to happen much more swiftly. The number one bribe in my arsenal is bacon. If I can leverage my request with scent of frying bacon, well, that garbage finds its way out of the house so fast you'd think Hefty made their bags with a drawstring activated jet propulsion feature, which would be pretty cool. 
Seeing the power of bacon, I naturally decided I needed to incorporate it into the cupcake world to help motivate my sons, aka the hooligans, and get that lawn mowed with same turbo power as the above mentioned garbage disposal. The idea was inspired by the Hub's cousin, who is actually having two types of cake (bacon and tiramisu) at his wedding. No, not kidding. But here's where a dilemma hit. Hooligan number two has gotten it into his head that he would like a pet pig that he plans to name Larry. Out of respect for his future snuggle buddy Larry, hooligan two has sworn off all pig products. All righty then.Luckily, while visiting the Queen Creek Olive Mill in Queen Creek, AZ with my mother, our curiosity was piqued by their bacon infused olive oil that is made without bacon and therefore vegetarian friendly. My mother, being more adventurous in the culinary arts than me, bought a bottle and so I figured I had a way to tempt hooligan number two without infringing on his loyalty to Larry.
Much experimenting ensued but attached are two recipes, one with real bacon and one without, to motivate your day laborers into speedy chore completion. May the bacon flavor be with you!  

Bacon Cupcakes:

Same recipe for both cupcakes but for the cake with real bacon add one cup cooked and minced bacon into the batter. 


2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
3/4 cup bacon infused olive oil 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
4 large eggs 
1 cup milk 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
* 1 cup cooked and minced bacon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, mix together olive oil, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla extract.

Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and blend until smooth. (*If using the real bacon, add cup of minced bacon now). 

Scoop the batter evenly into the cupcake liners.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool before frosting. Makes 24. 

Maple Frosting: 


6 tablespoons butter, softened
3-4 tablespoons milk 
1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract 
4 cups confectioners' sugar sifted 
Turbinado sugar and sea salt 


Whip butter, milk and extract together until creamy. Mix in powdered sugar until frosting is the desired consistency. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Garnish by sprinkling turbinado sugar and sea salt on cupcake and for cupcakes with real bacon a piece of bacon looks pretty tasty, too.

Thanks for inviting me to visit the kitchen, Daryl!
As always, it’s been a pleasure! 

You can find out what’s happening with me by checking out my website: