Showing posts with label Easter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Easter. Show all posts

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lemon Cookies for Easter

Recently my market had yet another unexpected item: pink lemons. Well, they’re not very pink. The outside looks yellow, and the interior is kind of pinkish (maybe they get pinker as they ripen?). They’re said to have a more intense flavor that the all-yellow lemons. I’m a sucker for new foods, so I thought I’d give them a try.

Since Easter is looming, I decided to go with flowery cookies, with pink sugar sprinkles in honor of spring. (I do have cookie cutters of sheep and bunnies and cows, but it’s hard work using them without mangling the poor little animals, so I though flowers were safer.)

Lemon Cookies


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt

2 small lemons (the pink lemons are 
   very small, so I used more than two)

5 Tblsp butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg, separated

1/2 tsp lemon extract


Note: This dough will need to chill for 3 hours. When you're ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the dry ingrdients.

Grate the zest from one lemon into a bowl (if you’re using a stand mixer, this can go into the big bowl. BTW, those lemons may look small, but one lemon produced a lot of zest!).

Squeeze three Tblsp lemon juice (more than two small lemon(s worth!) into another bowl.

Add the soft butter to the bowl with the lemon zest and beat until combined. Beat in the sugar gradually, then beat for one additional minute. 

Add the egg yolk (set the white aside) and half the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

Add the lemon juice and, the lemon extract, and the rest of the flour mixture and beat until combined.

Form the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap or put in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least three hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven and line the cookie sheets (see above!) Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to about 1/4-inch thick. (Note: when you start rolling, the dough will crumble and refuse to cooperate. Keep at it and it will all come together nicely.) Cut out your cookies and lay them on the parchment paper.

Whisk the egg white you saved with a dash of water, then spread in on top of the cookies. Sprinkle with decorative sugar or whatever you like.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. (Rotate the pans once while cooking.)

Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

Find a helpful sheep and serve!

These have a great lemon flavor, and they’re not too sweet. 

My latest book, Cruel Winter, has a wintry scene on the cover. I'm pretty sure you don't want to see that!

So I'll just throw everything at you and you can find a book that's set in spring. (Check my updated website for details.)

Have a lovely Easter!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

#Easter #recipes -- Carrot-Walnut Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

LESLIE: Why did the bunny cross the road? To get one of these!

Seriously, why do we associate bunnies with Easter? Let alone the egg thing. Turns out, it’s a German legend that probably grew out of the medieval association of rabbits with fertility, because they breed like—well, like rabbits. Some ancients apparently believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites and reproduced without sex, making them ripe for association with the Virgin Mary. (This is getting a little weird, isn’t it?)

So where do the eggs come in? Birds were also an early symbol of fertility. In the Orthodox church, believers did not eat eggs during the Lenten fast. To preserve them for later, they boiled or pickled the eggs, then ate them on Easter, when the fast was broken. Decorating them became part of the celebration.

Eventually, the legends merged, and the Osterhase, or Easter Hare, was born. Or hatched. Like all good mythic holiday figures, he brings gifts for the good children—decorated eggs. The legend came to the U.S. with 19th century German immigrants, no doubt including mine. They also brought us St. Nick and the decorated tree, but happily, those legends have stayed separate.

Beatrix Potter made the clothed rabbit a familiar figure, trotting through the carrot patch.

And that path leads to carrot cake. Which I love, but I wanted to try something different. On my way to digging out my mother’s old recipe for carrot cookies with orange frosting, I found these. They’re a cross between a bar cookie and cake, denser than cake but not heavy. And according to Mr. Right, they make an excellent breakfast.

Half a cup of golden raisins would be a lovely addition. The frosting recipe below is half a typical cake recipe, so if you’d like to use it on a two-layer cake, double it.

(Back before my first book came out, I took a watercolor class. Behold, Bunny Two Ears and Bunny with a Gleam in His Eye!)

Carrot-Walnut Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot-Walnut Bars

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking power
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup oil (I used canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups grated carrots (2-3 medium carrots)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 13X9 inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla, and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in the carrots, walnuts, and coconut.

Spread batter into pan and bake 25-28 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack. Frost. Cut in bars and store in refrigerator. Makes 24 bars.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3-4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
milk to thin, if necessary

 With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Add up to a teaspoon of milk to thin, if necessary.

Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating well, until frosting reaches an easy-to-spread consistency.

  Okay, we ate a couple before I took the picture. No eggs for me, I guess!

From the cover of TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #4 (Midnight Ink, June 2017):  

Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher. 

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Almond Raspberry Cupcakes for #Easter #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Doesn't it seem as though Easter used to be a much bigger deal? When I was growing up, we dressed up in new dresses and hats, went to church, and then had a hunt for baskets and a big family dinner. These days, we are pared down to a sunrise service on the beach (lovely) and something tasty for dinner. But what?

I know you probably realize that I love everything almond, baked goods that is. So when I saw an article in the New York Times by Melissa Clark about almond cupcakes, my antennae quivered. This looked like a perfect spring or Easter dessert. Of course I changed a few things, as I love raspberry jam more than cherry or chocolate. (I know, heresy.)

They came out light and adorable and I share them with you. Don't skimp on the quality of the raspberry jam – this is the future of the cupcakes!


6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Three-quarter cup almond flour
Three-quarter cup confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Two large eggs
Few drops almond extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder (low-sodium if you need it)
Two egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
Raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a muffin/cupcake tin with paper liners or butter. (Melissa Clark greased her muffin tin--that has always resulted in a big mess for me!)

Mix the almond flour, confectioners sugar, and salt. Beat in the eggs and almond extract. Pulse in the butter, cornstarch, and baking powder.

Whip the egg whites until foamy, then gradually add in the granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff. Fold one third of the egg whites into the almond flour bowl. Mix this gently, and then fold in the remainder of the egg whites until no white streaks remain.

Distribute the batter into the cupcake liners. Bake for 10 minutes and remove the pan from the oven. Drop a generous dollop of the jam in the center of each cupcake, and return the pan to the oven. Bake another 8 to 10 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Here's how it looks...

Beating eggs into flour mixture

whipping egg whites with sugar

folding in the whites

adding jam to partially baked cupcakes

almost there!

Happy Easter, Key West style!

Lucy writes the Key West food critic mysteries. Follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Coconut French Toast - fun for brunch

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini



We were thinking about something fun to have for a Saturday brunch on this Easter weekend, when eggs are so appropriate.

Our friend Joan Boswell mentioned that she’d recently served Coconut French Toast.  We couldn’t get that idea out of our minds and dived into this project on day when we were four adults and a child for brunch.  Luckily, seven-year old Connor was with us and  also in the mood to cook.

We were very happy with the results: tested three times until we think it’s just right. You, of course, can rejig your version to suit yourselves.  Victoria, who doesn’t eat anything with a face, thought for those who do, it would be very good with crisp bacon on the side. 



6 extra large eggs at room temperature  (we're showing four, but that was for a smaller amount)
1 ½ cups of coconut milk, can shaken first.
1 ½ cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt
8 - 9 slices rustic French bread (not baguette!) about ½ inch thick
Maple syrup and sliced strawberries or other berries to serve


Preheat oven to 475 F. 

Grease two baking sheets.

Whisk eggs, coconut milk, vanilla, almond and salt until well-combined in a bowl. 

Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Place the coconut on a large plate.  Dip the bread slices one by one into the egg mixture, turning to absorb egg into both sides. 

Dip both sides of the slices in the coconut.  

 Transfer to baking sheets. 

Bake, turning after five minutes, until golden brown and cooked through, about five minutes a side.  If the coconut starts to burn, you may need to lower the heat and add a few minutes. 

Serve with maple syrup and berries. 

We loved the results and hope you will too. Baking the French toast is easier than using a frying pan or griddle and the clean-up’s a breeze. Having said that we will try it on our griddle as soon as we find where it’s hiding. 

Coconut French toast been added to our easy weekend entertaining menu as of this minute.  

The shadowy figure known as Victoria ABBOTT is actually the mother daughter collaboration of artist Victoria Maffini and her mystery writer mother, Mary Jane Maffini.  Together they have created four books in the popular book collector mystery series.  

The fifth book, THE HAMMETT HEX will be out in October 2016 but you can preoder it  HERE
or at your favorite source for new books.
If you missed THE MARSH MADNESS, make sure you catch up!  JUST CLICK HERE 

Happy Easter!  However you celebrate (or if) we hope this weekend is full of flowers, chocolate, family and love. 

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And why not sign up for our free e-newsletter? HERE

Friday, April 3, 2015


by Sheila Connolly

Easter to me brings back memories of the heady smell of chocolate (eggs, bunnies, and a lot of other forms) combined with Easter lilies. My parents used to hide paper eggs, large and small, filled with candy and other goodies, around the living room (never outside—which is why some of those paper eggs have survived!) and my sister and I would scramble to find them behind the furniture. If we survived the sugar rush and sat down to dinner, I have no clue what the menu was there. Isn’t chocolate enough?

This particular recipe includes carrots, which makes it even more appropriate for Easter. And since my husband and I do not need to consume a dozen or more cupcakes each, we thought we’d share with our bunnies (they're mostly our daughter’s, but one of them is mine—he followed me home from Malice Domestic last year!).

It's a bunny party!

Chocolate Carrot Cupcakes


I had a helper (that's Dexter)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
1 6-oz. package semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease your baking pans (even if they’re non-stick—the chocolate chips tend to stick to the pan even when the batter doesn’t).

In a large bowl, cream the butter, oil and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix until well blended.

This was really yummy--I licked the bowl (after)

Stir in the shredded carrots and chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the pans, filling about 3/4 full. (Since the batter is sticky, it’s easiest to use a scoop or even a measuring cup to keep them consistent.) Bake 20-25 minutes or until the sides of the cakes begin to pull away. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.


1-1/3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 3-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 Tblsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all the ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.

Spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes and garnish. (This is a really tasty recipe--you could use it for a lot of things.)


I was aiming for an Easter egg look, so my cupcakes are round, kind of. I also sprinkled them with little ducks and chicks. The rabbits seemed happy with them.

My antique candy mold

Since I'm right between book releases, I thought I'd tell you about this cookbook from Mystery Writers of America, released just last month by Quirk Books. I have a recipe in it, as do MLK pals Lucy Burdette and Daryl Wood Gerber, plus a lot of friends who have been guests here in the past--and a lot of authors whose names you will recognize! I'm particularly fond of Lee Child's contribution, the last in the book, titled "Coffee, Pot of One."

You can find it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or in a local bookstore (check Indiebound for your nearest one).