Showing posts with label Barry Award. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barry Award. Show all posts

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberries!

First, a little exciting news!

They say when chocolate and flowers aren't enough...

I attended the Love is Murder mystery conference this past weekend. Always in the Chicago area, always an incredibly great time. People talk about how this is one of the warmest, most welcoming conferences out there, and they're right. So much fun. The blizzard of 2011 might have scared folks a bit in the days leading up to it, but by the time the wonderful organizers opened the doors, Chicago had its act together and we were ready to have fun.

At the Saturday banquet, Love is Murder bestows their version of a readers' choice award -- the Lovey -- to authors in various categories. I was delighted and thrilled when GRACE UNDER PRESSURE won a Lovey for "Best Traditional/Amateur Sleuth." A full list of winners can be found on Carol Thomas's Mystery Examiner Series article here.

Below is a photo of my award, isn't it gorgeous?

More news! The Love Is Murder organizers asked me to be their local guest of honor next year! How cool is that!! The other guests of honor will be Donald Bain, Julie James, David Morrell, and the delightful Hank Phillippi Ryan who has guested here a few times.

If you have a chance to come to Chicago next February 3 -5, please do so. Yes, I know it's cold here, but the people are warm and the conference is lovely.

Okay, are you still with me?

I received more awesome good news Wednesday. EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS, third in my White House Chef Mystery series, has been nominated for a BARRY AWARD in the Best Paperback Original category!

I am crazy excited and honored beyond belief. Others in my category include Val McDermid, Bryan Gruley, Sophie Hannah, Judith Rock, and A.D. Scott. Congrats to all, and good luck all around! The complete list of nominees can be found on Janet Rudolph's blog here.

You know, I'm feeling kind of out of breath just typing all that. I can't even begin to tell you what a whirlwind week this has been. Only problem... I haven't gotten any writing done! Yikes. Next week for sure!

In the meantime, I need something sweet and delicious to help celebrate Valentine's Day. And what better choice than....

Chocolate Covered Strawberries!!

Chocolate covered strawberries just ooze with Valentine's Day goodness, don't they? One of our favorite local restaurants - which is also a winery - always has delicious, fresh, chocolate covered strawberries on display. I find it *very* difficult to pass by without picking out a couple to take home.

But on these snowy, wintry days, nobody wants to go out. Not even for dinner. (Did I actually just say that??)

This Valentine's Day, why not surprise your sweeties (spouses, kids, significant others) with chocolate covered strawberries? They're easy, delicious, and I have a few hints and ideas I picked up over the years of making them.

A long time ago, a relative who always made chocolate covered strawberries for family events gave me her secret. Melt a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave, she said, but be sure to add a couple tablespoons of butter to make it smooth. And you know what, that worked. Except... I dunno... the strawberries came out with a matte finish. And they were just a little grainy, melting quickly in my fingers when I picked them up.

But then I started adding a couple tablespoons of Crisco (vegetable shortening) instead. Yeah, I know this isn't the healthiest recipe in the world, but do I plan to eat an entire pound of these at one sitting?

Umm, well, hmm. Maybe I'd better not answer that!

Anyway, just like Cleo, this is less a recipe than a how-to.

Here goes:

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate morsels (I prefer semi-sweet, but you can adjust with other flavors as you prefer)
2 Tbsp Crisco shortening, to give your strawberries that shine
1 or 2 long skewers
Toppings of choice... coconut shavings, crushed nuts, etc. I used Heath Bar crumbles - little toffee bits - that I found in the same area as my chocolate morsels.

Wash and dry strawberries. Keep the green tops on. Now... I know you've heard this before, but be sure these strawberries are completely dry. Even the tiniest bit of water can cause chocolate to seize up. With the Crisco in there, the worry is slightly diminished, but you really don't want grainy chocolate. Strawberries = dry.

Melt chocolate and Crisco in a microwave safe bowl by heating for about 15 seconds, stirring, and repeating until the mixture is smooth. You may find you need to add a little more Crisco, but don't add too much. You don't want a watery consistency.

Spear the top of a strawberry with one of your skewers and twirl in the bowl of melted chocolate until it's about 3/4 covered. I used to do this with my fingers, but the spear makes it so much easier!

At this point, you could be done. Using a fork, or your fingers, slide the chocolate covered strawberry onto wax paper to dry.

But... if you want to add extra flavor, you can take the freshly dipped strawberry and roll it in a small bowl of your topping of choice. I wasn't quite sure how the toffee would work - wasn't sure if the sweet, juicy strawberry and the coarse, crunchy toffee would work well together (sometimes it's a texture thing, you know?) but I am very happy to say that the combination was a huge hit. In fact, the toffee covered ones were the first to go.
Yep. Ate them all that afternoon.
Did I really just say that, too?

Thanks for stopping by today and thanks for letting me share my good news. Hope you enjoy making these. They're crazy-easy and make such a beautiful display. The only problem? There are never enough!

Happy Valentine's Day!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bouchercon Excitement

OUR NEW CONTEST: Win a $25 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card! For details on how to enter, simply scroll down and see our contest announcement...

I'm taking the day off from recipes and instead choosing to talk about celebrations. As in - let's have Cosmos!

As my blog-sisters have already so kindly announced, at Bouchercon this weekend I was awarded both the Barry Award and the Anthony Award for State of the Onion in the Best Paperback Original Category. Wow! Wow! Wow! I am wildly excited, and there were times during the ceremonies Thursday and Saturday nights that I could barely breathe, let alone talk.

This is right after the Barry Award ceremony concluded. I seriously never imagined winning. I was ecstatic just to be nominated. Really, really. Having never been shortlisted before, I didn't know if people were lying when they said "It's enough of an honor just to be nominated," but they're not. That is totally true. I was so happy to have been nominated and I worried for the coming of Bouchercon, because that meant my nominee status was about to end.

But then the unexpected happened and they called my name. Wow. What an incredible feeling.

Before I go any further, I want to say thank you to everyone who has ever read any of my books and commented favorably on them -- whether it be to a friend, or in an Amazon review, or on Dorothy L., or online anywhere. Thank you. There were enough people who liked the book to vote for it and I am completely blown away by this. I never expected to win. Never.

I'm telling you - this was so totally unexpected.

But, in the spirit of good food and ... spirits... let's talk about celebrating. Do you have a go-to celebratory treat? My husband and I go to Cooper's Hawk restaurant when we're in the mood to celebrate and we might go there tomorrow night. (Kid-related stuff prevents going out Monday.) Cooper's Hawk is a local, very cool restaurant, and it's definitely a go-to ... both for special events and for when we just need a great evening out. So, tonight!

My celebratory drink is the Raspberry Lemon Drop which I posted here a while back. When I can't get that, I opt for a Cosmo.

Can I take a commercial break here and tell you how great the women on this blog are? Daryl was at Bouchercon all weekend and Saturday, on our way to Lee Child's party, she told me to take today off from posting a recipe (thank goodness... I'm still totally nuts in the head!) and she took a boatload of pictures when I was too stunned to even realize pictures should be taken. The shots on this blog are ones she took (or had taken with her camera). Is she a doll or what? Everybody around Bouchercon wasn't calling her Daryl, or even Avery. They were all calling her The Cheese Shop Lady. Isn't that cool?

I had no Internet access whatsoever for the whole trip, so Daryl texted Cleo with all the news, and then Cleo updated this blog. Thank you Cleo! That was the nicest congratulatory post! I love these women. I know you all do too. What a great group!

Here's a picture Daryl took at the party. Lee Child looks fabulous, of course. I did that "smile too hard" thing ... oops. But hey, what's a couple extra chins when you're having so much fun, right? LOL

Anyway, I wanted to share my excitement with everyone on this blog, and I wanted to also share some fun pictures. You'll recognize a few familiar faces and names, I'm sure. I posted pictures of the actual awards (they're *gorgeous*) on my other blog: Here.

The weekend was as fabulous as it gets. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if Curt and the girls could have come down. Indianapolis is close enough ... only about three hours away... but my youngest had a marching band parent event that night and we couldn't both be in both places...

But, no complaints. This was my best Bouchercon ever. Just a wonderful, fabulous event and so incredibly well run. Jim Huang, Mike Bursaw, Austin Lugar, and so many others did an amazing job. (I hate to name names because I know I'll inadvertently leave people out.) This was a great Bouchercon because there were so many new, innovative ideas. So many great opportunities. Loved every minute!

So, without further ado, here are some photos:

With Sheila Connolly who has guest-blogged here. Sheila writes the Apple Orchard mysteries, and as Sarah Atwell, the Glassblowing mysteries. And she's got a new series coming out too!

From L to R, Neil Plakcy who writes the award-winning Mahu series (Mahu Surfer, Mahu Fire, Mahu Vice), Rosemary Harris whose Pushing Up Daisies was nominated for an Anthony for Best First Novel, me and Hank Philippi Ryan whose Prime Time won the Agatha for best first and whose Air Time was recently released and is on the IMBA bestseller list. (Along with Face Time in pb!)

Here I am with Chris Grabenstein whose The Crossroads won an Anthony for Best Children's/Young Adult.
I love Chris. He's great and so much fun!
This is Gigi Pandain (oh, I know I'm spelling that incorrectly), me and Daryl smiling for the camera.

Thanks for listening. Thanks for supporting me and for all the great and exciting good wishes and thanks for being part of this blog!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Congratulations to Julie Hyzy - Winner of the 2009 Anthony and Barry Awards!

Hi there. Cleo Coyle here. A quick congratulations to Tina, who won last week's Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest! Thank you for entering, Tina!

OUR NEW CONTEST: Win a $25 Williams-Sonoma Gift Card!For details on how to enter, see the announcement (above)...

And now...

I did have a recipe to share with you today,
but I'm kicking it into next week! With the news we just received, I know we all just really want to take time out to wish Julie Hyzy "Congratulations!"

So leave your comments
below for...

Our own Mystery Writing Cook



Best Paperback Original
of the Year!


Click book cover to visit
Julie's blog


Mystery Lovers, you can see the complete list of winners from yesterday's Bouchercon presentations by visiting Lesa's Book Critiques Blog post just click here

Leave your comments for Julie
by clicking the comments link below...