Showing posts with label Book collector mysteries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book collector mysteries. Show all posts

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sweet and salty summer chicken salad and sandwich #mystery #recipe #contest @Abbottmysteries

Do you want to win one of our five Mystery Lovers Kitchen FABULOUS GIFT BAGS?  Read to the end for the fun contest details!   And now for lunch.

I was looking for a very pleasant summer lunch that didn’t involve turning on the stove and something that would be good on a sandwich or on a bed of lettuce for anyone avoiding bread lately, no names mentioned. 

Luckily we had some leftover chicken.  I think that a cold rotisserie chicken would also do the trick as could a couple of poached chicken breasts.  We also wanted some nice crunchiness which the pepper and celery provided as well as some different flavors and thought that the sweetness of the cranberries, the saltiness of the sunflower seeds would go nicely with the tang of the lemon and feta (which also is quite salty).

Although you might spot salt in our ingredients, we didn’t add it because this had quite enough.  If you want to avoid salt you could try toasted walnuts or almonds and a milder cheese or none.  If sugar’s an issue, I think seedless grapes would also be good.  I’ll try that next.

That’s what we love about salads, you can switch ingredients with impunity!  As long as they’re good quality, it’s hard to lose.

This makes quite a nice sized bowl of chicken salad.  There's plenty for salad and sandwiches!  It passed the test with our friend, Nancy, who said it was better than anything she could buy.  Happy summer eating.

Sweet and salty summer chicken salad


2 cups chopped cooked chicken
3/4 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped yellow pepper
3/4 cup salted toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
½ cup Feta, crumbled
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp lemon
teaspoon pepper
Lettuce leaves – we used green leaf lettuce
Or sliced fresh bread or rolls


In a bowl mix chopped chicken, cranberries, celery, peppers and sunflower seeds. 

 Combine lemon juice, zest, pepper and mayo in a smaller bowl and then stir into other ingredients. 

Crumble feta and add, mixing to distribute well.  Oops. We left out the mixing well photo. 

Serve on lettuce for a refreshing salad.  This one cooled off MJ at lunch.

Or make a sandwich with fresh bread or rolls. We used our favorite whole wheat bread and it was awesome, if we do say so ourselves.

You can be cool and have a very healthy meal!

 Here's a reminder to YOU about our special contest for our anniversary.  The details are below.  If you want to see the entries, find the cheerleader photo on the sidebar (NOT THIS ONE!) and look for entries! 

Mystery Lovers Kitchen is celebrating it’s
7th anniversary!

7 years of recipes, books, and loads of fun.
As we begin our 8th year of the blog,
help us celebrate by entering our photo contest.
5 people will win a Mystery Lovers' Kitchen tote bag
and the 9 mysteries shown below - one from each of us!
Don't delay, enter today!

Photo of prize

Here's how it goes:

1. Take a picture of any one OR MORE of our books (does not have to be one shown above) in the following categories:
a) with a cat
b) with a dog
c) having summer fun
d) in a library
e) in a bookstore

Whose books?

Why the 9 Mystery Lovers Kitchen authors, of course.

Krista Davis * Cleo Coyle *  Leslie Budewitz  
Daryl Wood Gerber * Lucy Burdette * Linda Wiken  
Sheila Connolly * Peg Cochran* Victoria Abbott what you gotta do! There's a sweet prize at stake.

2. Submit your picture below.
Submission period ends midnight July 25th.

3. Share your entry (on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or else-wise,
we'll be flexible). 

We'll choose one winner in each category!

5 chances to win! Good luck!

In case you don't know, Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between  me, Mary Jane Maffini, and my daughter Victoria. Together we write the book collector mysteries.   We think that reading them is like taking a lovely trip to a mysterious place where books are everything and, yes, murder happens and great meals are served and some relatives are not to be trusted. Of course, justice prevails in the end and books are loved.


We like to think our book collector mysteries are fun, easy to read and surprising too. All five titles are available in print, e-book and audio format. Don't miss out.  You can get to meet Peachy (posing below) aka Walter the Pug.  Watch out for the Siamese cats - one is good and one will get you!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Grilled ham, cheddar and green apple sandwiches #recipe #mystery @abbottmysteries

From Victoria Abbott aka Victoria and Mary Jane Maffini

Last spring I had a memorably delicious sandwich on a trip to Nova Scotia.  I’ve been thinking of ways to experience it again.  This was inspired by a lunch at Oh My Cod in beautiful Mahone Bay, a terrific casual restaurant in a lovely spot. 

We were out shopping and the weather turned  wild, windy and wet. Our lunch really lifted our damp spirits and got us back in vacation mood. 

The original was a club with three slices of bread and smoked bacon.  It probably didn’t have maple syrup and Dijon, but I like them in everything.  I also wasn’t in the mood to cook bacon for the sandwich and I had the ham on hand. 

We tried this with our cheese sliced and grated. Grated melts sooo much better, but suit yourselves.  Just pick one that you like. 

At any rate, this version was a big hit around here, perfect for a rainy summer afternoon or a fall lunch.  We think we'll like it in winter too!. It’s fun to make and easy and delicious. One of these days we’ll try the club version with three slices of whole wheat bread and bacon. 

In the meantime, they tell me this one’s a keeper.  Hope you like it too! 


2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 slices 7-grain or your favorite whole grain bread (you could use sourdough too)
4 ounces thinly sliced Black Forest or other deli ham
8 thin slices Granny Smith apples
4 ounces medium cheddar cheese, grated or pre-shredded
1 tablespoon butter  


Combine mustard and maple syrup. Spread maple syrup mustard mixture over the bread slices. 

Layer half the bread slices with ham and apple.


Add grated cheese.

 Top with remaining bread slices.  Melt butter in skillet or on grill. 

Toast/sauté sandwiches for five minutes on each side or until browned and cheese is melted and nicely gooey.  Oops!  This photo is from the time we made three sandwiches (adjusting the recipe).  We know you'll spot that.


This may take as little as three minutes or as many as six, but the cheese must be melty and the bread shouldn’t burn.   We put a cast-iron pan on it the second time we tested this recipe. It seemed to aid the melting process.


And speaking of enjoying:  we hope you are prepared to curl up and savor our fifth book collector mystery.  THE HAMMETT HEX is coming on OCTOBER 4th. No extra charge for the trip to San Francisco, the romantic encounters or the dangers in Hammett's old haunts. How’s that for a tasty thought?

We're sure you know that the shadowy figure that is Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between us, Victoria and Mary Jane Maffini, seen here getting in the mood for The Hammett Hex.

We hope you'll join us in this tasty trip complete with the recipes from Officer Tyler Dekker's favorite childhood dishes.

Don't want to wait a minute longer than you have to?  Why not PRE-ORDER IT HERE! or at your favorite source of books?

And remember, you can sign up for our newsletter by clicking RIGHT HERE

Finally, have a little fun by watching the trailer HERE 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mango salsa tastes like summer! #recipe #mystery @abbottmysteries

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

We’re having a hot and humid early summer in these parts.  Salads and no-cook meals are the way to go.  And mangoes are showing up in the grocery store. How perfect is that?  We’re dusting off our recipe for Mango Salsa and preparing for a refreshing dinner on the screened porch. 

This recipe is great with chicken, hot or cold, and with fish, surprisingly enough. It’s sweet as well as savory, easy too and full of such good things that you can feel virtuous while enjoying it.


 Mango Salsa

All you need is:
2 medium mangoes, ripe
1 red pepper, chopped
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
1 lime
¼ cup chopped cilantro and some leaves for decoration
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Dash of hot sauce
½ tsp sea salt

All you do is:
Chop pepper and red onion.  Chop cilantro.  Combine peppers and cilantro and red onion in a bowl.

Prepare mangoes by cutting in three parts (the pit in the middle). Reserve that. Score the inside of each of the parts.  Press outside in and cut off mango. It will be perfectly diced. 


Add to bowl.  And gently mix to combine.

Squeeze the juice from the lime.

Place olive oil, cider vinegar, lime, salt and hot sauce into a small bowl and whip with a wire whip until smooth. 

 Add dressing to salsa and blend to cover all the yummy ingredients.  Enjoy in your most summery locations.  If there's any left, it will be even better the next day,

We’re happy to announce that The Marsh Madness won the 2016 Bony Blithe Award for ‘mysteries that make us smile’.    You can bet that made us smile,

If you missed our post two weeks ago, here’s a picture of the award design.


If you've already read The Marsh Madness, we hope you're ready for THE HAMMETT HEX.

 Here's the book trailer to WATCH NOW.  WATCH NOW

We're getting in the mood with our fedoras.  Why not get in the mood by PREORDERING  HERE?
 or wherever you order/buy your books!


Don't miss out on book and dog news, recipes and contests with our newsletter.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Asparagus Tart with Puff Pastry, Cheese and Mushrooms #recipe #CleanSweepWeek @AbbottMysteries

What a fun theme week this is with all the hidden treasures and occasional terrors found in the back of the cupboard, pantry, freezer and wherever.  Need some detective work to use those odd ingredients?  That's what we're here for. I have been taking note of everyone's great ideas and plan to try them all.  Isn't necessity the mother of invention?


We are nothing if not resourceful.  It’s the perfect month for this challenge because for the second Mystery Lovers Kitchen recipe this month, we’ve been stuck at home because of dangerous road conditions.

That meant I (MJ here) had an extra reason to check out what was in the back of the freezer.  I was on a serious quest for a ‘just before grocery day’ meal made of ingredients that we actually had. 

Turns out I found a package of frozen puff pastry, hiding in the bottom of the freezer. The pastry was rapidly approaching its Best Before date. I don’t even remember why, when or even IF I bought it, but it wasn’t long for this world.  

In the fridge I had a pound of uncooked asparagus that had been forgotten two days earlier when we made a salmon dinner. Asparagus is not a forgiving vegetable and something needed to be done ASAP. 

Luckily, some detecting turned up a recipe for Asparagus Tart with Puff Pastry from a Foodland Ontario's website.  Of course, it’s not asparagus season in Ontario now (ahem), but we do have an excellent local supplier of mushrooms which is one of the reasons we always have them.  I had to improvise a bit on other ingredients because we didn’t have shallots (local or otherwise) which the recipe called for.  I used a small onion, caramelized it, and upped the garlic.   

We didn’t have Ontario Havarti either, although I love Havarti and I will try this the next time.  I fiddled a bit with the cooking times and added a bit of extra oil and butter.  Not only did we have a storm but in the storm immediately preceding it, our basement flooded. The emergency clean-up crew was there as I was preparing that. They were worried about the drive home!

By the way, you could reduce the amount of oil or butter if you want because the pastry is quite rich. You could probably use a bit of stock to pre-cook the veggies.  Go ahead and use a salt substitute too.

was glad to discover the Foodland Ontario site, because it does have great recipes for the kind of fresh ingredients we can easily find in the province, as long as we can get out the door. They also have a great recipe calendar. 

Asparagus Tart with Puff Pastry, Cheese and Mushrooms



  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 ½ cups sliced brown mushrooms
  • 1 lb sliced asparagus, snapped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 sheet (225 g) butter puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/4 cup (250 mL) shredded cheese.  We used Black Diamond medium cheddar.
  • seven or eight chopped chives


In large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook for about twenty minutes over low heat. 

Add additional tablespoon of oil and mushrooms; cook for 5 minutes. 

Add asparagus and garlic; cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat. Season. 

Unroll puff pastry and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. 

Brush Dijon over surface. 

Poke entire surface with fork. Arrange asparagus over pastry and top with mushroom mixture, leaving 1/2-inch border.

 Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake in 400°F oven 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Let stand on sheet on wire rack for 5 minutes before cutting to serve.

The results:  The surprised husband (who doesn’t care for pizza and up until this point had been saying “So is this some kind of pizza?” changed his tune to: “Wow, this is really delicious!” 

We loved it and will make it again.  It will serve four as a light lunch with a salad or maybe six as an appetiser.  We may try it for brunch too.  You could easily pre-cook the veggies and just add in time for baking.  

You probably know that we Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini are actually VICTORIA ABBOTT, author of The BOOK COLLECTOR MYSTERIES, But in case you don't, we thought it worth mentioning again.   

So thanks to this fun theme week and some rotten weather, Victoria Abbott has new favorite lunch.  We also have a new favorite cover:  The Hammett Hex has now been revealed. 
TA DAH!  Just click this link because it's NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER