Showing posts with label Grace Interrupted. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grace Interrupted. Show all posts

Friday, June 17, 2011

Scalloped Cauliflower

Still keeping those carbs away!

Here's a new family favorite. Mind you, we all love cauliflower and this works as a fabulous side for vegetarians and carnivores alike. What I love about this is that it's so easy. Super easy, and it can be prepared ahead of time and placed into the oven about a half hour before serving. I always love stuff like that!


You'll need:

1 head of cauliflower
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tsp wheat germ
3/4 cup shredded cheddar

Break cauliflower into bite-size pieces, and steam in saucepan or microwave until slightly tender. Drain and place in a bowl.

Melt butter in a small saucepan or skillet, use half to pour over the cauliflower in the bowl and toss so that it's all coated.

Add bread crumbs and wheat germ to the remaining butter. Mix well and keep over low heat until well combined.

Pour contents of bowl into an ovenproof casserole. I used a 10 x 13 glass pan. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture, then cheese over the top. Bake at 350 F for about 25 minutes.

Serve with your favorite entree!

Now, isn't that easy?

Thank you so much for helping GRACE INTERRUPTED hit the B&N mass market paperback mystery bestseller list at #4. I am wildly excited!!


Happy eating and happy reading!
Best always,


Congratulations to Wendy Lyn Watson on the release of A Parfait Murderthe third in her Mystery A La Mode series.

Click here to read a review
from A Criminal Element.

Click here to purchase the book.

Click here to visit Wendy's Web site 

And congratulations to our friend Riley Adams (aka Elizabeth Spann Craig)
on the release of Finger Lickin' Dead,
the 2nd book in her Memphis BBQ Mystery series (and does it have great recipes!)
Click here to read a review of Finger Lickin' Dead from Mason Canyon's Thoughts in Progress. Click here to read Diane's review at the Book Resort.

Click here to purchase the book.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Black and Blue Burgers

First of all, thank you everyone for all the shout-outs and support for my new book, Grace Interrupted. I'm really excited to bring out Grace's newest adventure because I had such fun writing it. Thanks to my Blog sisters for all the boosts, and congrats again to Wendy and Elizabeth (Riley) on your new releases!!

Now... to food! Believe it or not, Avery and I didn't secretly coordinate posts. Last week, as you may recall, she posted a "Hooray for Barbecue Season," titled Barbecue and Blue. You can read it again here.

Sometimes I feel as though I'm not only "Blog sisters" with all these lovely ladies, but that I'm "Brain sisters" with them as well. (A frightening prospect for them; a reassurance for me!) because this week I'm here to talk about blue cheese stuffed burgers---and I'm betting that when Avery was grilling in the sunshine, I was making these little delights indoors, longing for a little warmth. Fortunately for us, our weather has taken a turn for the better. As I write this it's in the 90s. About time, I say!

Apologies to my vegetarian daughter, but my husband and I need to watch those carbs. We haven't been particularly diligent about that lately, but burgers like these certainly help.

I picked up this recipe from The Low Carb Bible Cookbook, but, as always, adapted it for our use.

Black and Blue Burgers

1 lb (plus or minus) ground beef. I chose a lower fat-percentage chuck they had on sale and I think I had one and a half pounds to work with
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

Divide the ground beef in half, then half again, then one more time. You should have 8 small sections. Shape each into a patty. Set aside. I placed mine on aluminum foil, spread out like cookies on a cookie sheet.

Combine the cheeses, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire, and garlic. Toss gently, but make sure it's mixed well. Separate into four equal portions. Place a portion atop each of four of the beef patties. Top each of these with a plain patty and smash and seal the edges so that the cheese mixture is trapped inside.

Heat olive oil in skillet, add pepper strips and cook until the edges of the peppers begin to brown slightly.  Add salt, if you like (I didn't). Remove to a small plate.

Add the beef patties to the same skillet, cook on medium-high about 5 minutes. Turn each of them carefully so all the good stuff doesn't spill out.
Top with peppers and keep over heat until cooked through, about 5 more minutes.

Voila! Low-carb and delish! We served these atop a little lettuce. No bun required.

My husband and I liked them very much. One of our other daughters thought they were just okay, but she doesn't care for blue cheese at all. I think next time I might up the cheddar and lessen the blue, but that's just our personal taste. These were great and super easy!

Thanks again, everyone for giving Grace Interrupted such a wonderful launch! And, remember, if you're in the Chicago area Sunday, June 12th, please come by and say hello. I'm having a party and you're invited.

Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore
1:00 - 3:00
7419 W. Madison Street
Forest Park, IL 60131

I'd love to see you there!

* * * * *

Wendy Lyn Watson's new mystery A Parfait Murderfeatures a story line about the Lantana Round-Up Rodeo Queen Pageant. To celebrate, Wendy's giving away a little cowboy couture: a leather and rhinestone cuff, and a "rodeo queen" keychain. 

Eligibility: This contest is open to everyone living in the U.S. and Canada. One entry per person, please. 

How to Enter: Send proof of purchase of A Parfait Murder (either a receipt, or a picture of you holding the book), by e-mail to Put the words "Parfait Giveaway" in the subject line.

Entries must be received by 5:00 PM Central Standard Time on Friday, June 17. Wendy will randomly select one entry and announce the winner here on the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen blog on Saturday, June 18. She will contact the winner via e-mail. If she does not receive a response within 7 days, she will draw a new winning name. 

* * * * * * * * * * * 

Riley Adams (Elizabeth Spann Craig) is also running a contest to celebrate the release of Finger Lickin' Dead, her new Memphis BBQ Mystery. 

To learn how to enter Riley/Elizabeth's contest, click here and visit her blog Mystery Writing is Murder

Friday, June 3, 2011

Veggie Casserole

In my neverending quest to feed low-carb carnivores and high-carb vegetarians at the same dinner table, I have happened across some excellent recipes. I've also happened across some real duds. Today's offering falls right in the middle. It's not bad, but will require a bit of tweaking before I make it again.  The veggies weren't bad, but the breading was too much. Far too much. If I were to make this again, I'd halve the bread-y ingredients. Or perhaps cut it down to a third. I'll give you the recipe as I followed it, and leave you to make your own choice for how to adjust. We all have different tastes and variety (as we've seen from the myriad of recipes available on this blog) is the spice of life! 

(adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook)

3 - 4 cups of vegetables, cut up. I used zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and onions
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup grated cheese.

Saute veggies in olive oil until tender. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375. Lightly butter a 9 x 13 baking pan.
Combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add vegetable oil, milk, egg. Mix well.

Pour veggies into buttered pan. Sprinkle with cheese. Drop small spoonfuls of batter over the cheese/veggie mixture, trying to smooth it over the top, making it even.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until top is golden and firm. Let stand for a few minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

As you can tell by the photo, there's quite a bit of bread. This was a heavy dish and we low-carb folks weren't too crazy about it. The taste was good, but the breading overwhelmed the wonderful vegetables.

But, I have to admit, I like the idea enough to give it another go. Next time, I'll eliminate the zucchini. We've discovered that we like zucchini, but we don't love it. I'll go heavier on the broccoli and cauliflower. Those are big, strong veggies that can hold their own against the powerful breading.

But it sure was pretty on the plate:

Note: Veggie daughter didn't partake of the ribeye... but you probably guessed that, didn't you?

* * *

Get ready because Tuesday is a crazy cozy day! Lots of books releasing on June 7th, including these three from Mystery Lovers' Kitchen authors:

don't forget about her giveaway

In honor of the June 7 release of A Parfait Murder (the third Mystery a la Mode), which features a story line about the Lantana Round-Up Rodeo Queen Pageant, Wendy is giving away a little cowboy couture:  a leather and rhinestone cuff, and a “rodeo queen” keychain. Eligibility:  This contest is open to everyone living in the U.S. and Canada.  One entry per person, please.
How to Enter:  Send proof of purchase of A Parfait Murder (either a receipt, or a picture of you holding the book, by e-mail to  Put the words “Parfait Giveaway” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by 5:00 PM Central Standard Time on Friday, June 17.  Wendy will randomly select one entry, announce the winner on MLK on Saturday, June 18, and contact that person via e-mail.  If she doesn't get a response within 7 days, she will draw another name. 

Elizabeth's FINGER LICKIN' DEAD (written as Riley Adams)...



And... if you're in the Chicago area this weekend, don't miss PRINTERS ROW! Also knows as the Chicago Tribune Lit Fest, it's a wonderful, fun, energetic, and exciting outdoor event. Over 100,000 people attend annually. It always rains at some point, but that never dampens anyone's spirits.

I'll be at the Mystery Writers of America tent all day tomorrow and Sunday, with two exceptions - when I'm on a panel (Murder Most Cozy) Saturday morning at the Harold Washington Library, along with J.B. Stanley (Ellery Adams), Betty Hechtman, and Joelle Charbonneau, and when I'm signing at Big Sleep Books (Saturday at 2:00).

PS - Even though it's before the actual release day, we'll have early copies of GRACE INTERRUPTED at the MWA tent!

Happy reading!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Eggplant Bruschetta?

9780451233806.jpgDon't Miss Out on Wendy Lyn Watson's Fun Contest:

A Parfait Giveaway

In honor of the June 7 release of A Parfait Murder (the third Mystery a la Mode), which features a story line about the Lantana Round-Up Rodeo Queen Pageant, Wendy is giving away a little cowboy couture:  a leather and rhinestone cuff, and a “rodeo queen” keychain. Eligibility:  This contest is open to everyone living in the U.S. and Canada.  One entry per person, please.
How to Enter:  Send proof of purchase of A Parfait Murder (either a receipt, or a picture of you holding the book, by e-mail to  Put the words “Parfait Giveaway” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by 5:00 PM Central Standard Time on Friday, June 17.  Wendy will randomly select one entry, announce the winner on MLK on Saturday, June 18, and contact that person via e-mail.  If she doesn't get a response within 7 days, she will draw another name. 



As you may remember from last week, I'm working at cross purposes this summer, trying to maintain a low-carb lifestyle for me and my husband while providing vegetarian meals for one of our daughters.  This week I'm attempting to recreate an appetizer we enjoyed at our middle daughter's graduation dinner two weeks ago.

We ordered an eggplant dish, the name of which I cannot remember. All I recall was that it was in Italian and the description sounded good. When it arrived at the table, I thought it looked like bruschetta -- little eggplant ovals topped with sauteed vegetables. 

When we realized that everyone at the table loved it, I decided to try to make it at home. As usual, I'll tell  you the verdict before I give you the recipe. Half of us loved it, half of us liked it. When it came to a vote, the "likers" voted that we *should* make this again, so to my mind, it's a winner. What I'd do next time is probably ease up on the zucchini or switch it out for broccoli (everybody's favorite).

One big caveat: You know how most people eat bruschetta with their fingers? This is not that kind of appetizer. This is a fork and knife moment, for sure. 

Here goes:


One small eggplant, sliced
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 small zucchini, cut up
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 Tbsp oregano
6 oz fresh mozzarella 
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat, add garlic and allow to sizzle for a little bit. Add onion, zucchini, and tomato. Stir to cover all veggies with oil. Sprinkle with oregano and stir a bit more. Reduce heat to low and cover. Allow to saute until all veggies are cooked.

In the meantime (and this takes a while), cook eggplant. I've always heard that you're supposed to slice it early and let it drain, but mine didn't drain a bit. I didn't salt it. Maybe I should have.

Anyway, I grilled my eggplant on a George Foreman grill. My eldest daughter (yep, we all got in on this one) decided she didn't want it anymore so it's here until she decides she wants it back. Ha ha.

You can choose to saute your eggplant instead, but I thought that since I had this fun new toy, I'd try it. And it worked out very nicely. Eggplant takes longer than a couple minutes to cook though. I thought maybe 4 - 6 minutes on the grill. Nope. More like 12 minutes.

Okay. Once the eggplant is cooked, place it on foil on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and top with little pieces of fresh mozzarella. On top of this, add spoonfuls of the sauteed veggies.

Place in preheated (350 F) oven for about five minutes. Watch closely. As soon as the mozzarella melts, they're done. 

Use flat spatula to remove from cookie sheet and place on serving platter. 

This makes a better side dish than appetizer, IMHO. You wouldn't want to try to pick one of these up with your fingers!

But they are very good and worth trying. As I said, I'd swap out the zucchini next time. Most of us love mushrooms, so that could make a nice alternative. Or just tomato, onion, and basil, like regular bruschetta. 

Have fun experimenting!

June is an exciting month and it's just around the corner! So many books coming out the same day. Wendy is running a fun contest (see below) to celebrate the launch of A PARFAIT MURDER, and I'm inviting you to my party June 12th! I would love to see you at Centuries & Sleuths that day! Sign up for my newsletter (next issue coming June 7th!) for updates! You can sign up here at my personal blog.

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE received a *Starred Review* from Publishers Weekly, and GRACE INTERRUPTED picks up where that story left off. I hope you'll join Grace, Frances, Bennett, and Jack in their newest adventure!

I tried really hard to get these two book covers to be side by side like my blog sisters do. Alas, no luck. 

They came out looking "almost right," but still a little bit off. So I decided for this 7 -10 split instead LOL

No matter what, I hope you enjoy the covers, and please visit my website: for more.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cookies from Leftovers!

I made MJ's Dinner Party chicken yesterday and I want to publicly say thank you to MJ for sharing that one. Big hit with the family (btw, my vegetarian daughter is away at school, if you haven't guessed).

Anyway, take a look, aren't they pretty?
This was before they went into the oven. Another thing MJ was right about - the house smelled wonderful as they baked.

We loved the chicken, and I loved how easy it was to put this delicious dish together. I would be delighted to serve this to guests. It's elegant and tasty. A win-win.


When I was shopping for this recipe's ingredients I realized I'd forgotten to write down how much ricotta cheese I needed.


To be on the safe side, I asked for a pound and the lovely young woman behind the counter gave me a very healthy pound. Almost 1.25. MJ's recipe calls for 3/4 cup, which means I had a lot left over.

What to make with the extra?

I searched and for recipes containing ricotta and I found this one:

You can get the recipe by clicking the title above. I would normally type it in its entirety here, but I can't, in good conscience, do that this time. This recipe belongs to the person who posted it at Allrecipes and I didn't change a thing.

If I adapt a recipe I have no problem posting it here, but this one I followed step by step and it would be unfair to take credit for it.

I will tell you that these cookies are wonderful. I used to make something my neighbor always called Italian cookies and we loved them, but they're a lot of work. A lot of work.

These ricotta cookies taste a great deal like my Italian cookies. The only difference is that these are soft. So far, one of my daughters prefers these. I'll check with the rest of the family, assuming this batch lasts that long! I have to tell you - my daughter likes them enough that she's encouraging me to make a fresh batch for Easter.
Simple, and easy to pull together assuming you have ricotta cheese in the house. BTW - I halved the recipe because I didn't have enough for a full one.

So, from MJ's Party Chicken leftovers we get Cookies!
How fun is that?


Grace Interrupted, coming June 7th to a bookstore near you!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Artichoke Dip inspired by Rick Bayless

I didn't title this one EAT HEALTHY, but I believe this recipe qualifies. According to the recipe I found in HEALTH magazine, it only has 156 calories per 1/4 cup serving and only 4 g carbs (which is what I watch).

Now, the recipe they featured in HEALTH was provided by the fabulous Rick Bayless.

But, as always, I adjusted, changed, and otherwise adapted it to my own needs.

I assume the calorie and carb counts of my version don't vary too much from that of Rick's because my changes were pretty minor.

If you want the precise recipe, you'll want to check out the April, 2011 issue of HEALTH, page 129.

If you want to see what I've concocted, here goes:

1 six-ounce jar of marinated artichokes, undrained

8 ounces goat cheese (Rick's recipe specifies "fresh goat cheese" and Avery will be able to tell you the difference between fresh and whatever isn't fresh... stale? but I just picked up a goat cheese on sale at the grocery store.)

5 or 6 sun-dried tomato halves

3 green olives (I left the pimentos in)

A very small amount of jalapeno pepper. Rick's recipe calls for 1 Tbsp diced pickled jalapeno, but I couldn't find anything like that. I used about 1/4 inch of a fresh pepper.

1 half-handful fresh Italian parsley

pinch of sea salt

I combined the first two ingredients, the artichokes in liquid and the goat cheese in my food processor and I blended until smooth, then spooned the mix into a bowl.

At that point I deviated from the recipe (shocker) and combined the remaining ingredients in my already-gloppy food processor. What the heck? Why chop each thing separately as directed when I could get it all done with a couple of pulses. Well, maybe more than a couple.

Once everything was chopped, I added it to the goat cheese, artichoke bowl and mixed well. Then all that was left to do was set out crackers and serve.

Super simple, if I do say so myself.

But how did it taste?

Great. I like the tang that comes from the combination of cheese and artichokes. The jalapeno was not overwhelming, and the sun-dried tomatoes were wonderful.

If you're not a fan of goat cheese, you may not care for this. But I bet it would be good with other soft cheeses. I may have to experiment!

Hope you have fun with it!

Check out Jennifer's post yesterday at Jenn's Bookshelves - where she reviewed Grace Under Pressure. And my guest post about Grace Interrupted, too!

Just two more months before Grace Interrupted comes out. I'm very excited!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Julie's EAT HEALTHY Mushroom Barley soup

Another week and we're still eating healthy here. Woo-hoo, very proud of ourselves! This week I decided to try my hand at mushroom barley soup, but instead of heading out to the store to buy vegetable stock, I made my own.

Stock is crazy simple. Throw a bunch of veggies into a pot with a lot of water, bring it to a boil and then simmer for hours until the veggies have no flavor. I threw carrots, celery, onions, and garlic into my pot of water and did some writing and book promotion while I waited.

I have to tell you, homemade stock is so much better than store-bought. Do you remember when I made risotto? I was convinced it would be terrible because the vegetable stock smelled so bad. It turned out just fine, but I have to admit, I feel so much better using the wonderfully aromatic homemade version.

But all that is lead-up for the actual recipe I'm bringing you today... which is not so much a recipe as a set of guidelines.

Mushroom Barley Soup

1/2 cup barley soaked for at least 8 hours
+/- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced. I used regular white mushrooms and baby bellas
Olive oil
+/- 1 small onion, chopped
+/- 2 cloves garlic, minced
+/- 1/2 cup white wine
A couple of pinches each of: oregano, garlic powder, rosemary
6 cups +/- vegetable stock. I wound up adding a cup or two more late in the simmering process

If there are particular herbs you like in your soup, feel free to add. These work for me. Next time I may consider adding a bay leaf or two.

Cook the barley by boiling it in water until tender. Drain.

Saute the onions and garlic. Add the wine and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the stock, the mushrooms, the oregano, garlic powder, and rosemary.

Allow this to simmer for about an hour or so. Add the barley and simmer for about 15 minutes. Determine whether you need to add more stock. If you do, simmer a little longer until the flavor is strong enough. Serve.

This is not a soup that's full of cream or butter so it tastes much lighter and fresher than most barley soups I've tried before. At first sip, I thought it wasn't flavorful enough, but it grew on me quickly and I find myself craving more now. It really is good -- best of all, it *feels* good -- and the little bit we had left over disappeared quickly.

Plus - it's vegetarian.

Hope you enjoy!

My next Manor House Mystery - GRACE INTERRUPTED - comes out in June! Woo-hoo! Getting very excited! If you would like a supply of bookmarks to enjoy and share, please visit my blog here (after 10AM Central time) for more information.

While you're there, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter. And if you do, don't forget to complete the final step when you receive the confirmation email. Otherwise, they can't be sent to you!