Showing posts with label Grace Under Pressure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grace Under Pressure. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mac and Cheese, plus...

Our eldest daughter is home for a while and decided to treat us to one of her favorite comfort foods yesterday. She got this recipe from some very good friends and has tweaked it a bit to make it her own. While I took care of the main entree and one other side, she made this, and told me she was happy to have me share her recipe with all of you.

The original recipe called for standard macaroni noodles and no vegetables, but that's where your creativity comes in. My daughter made this the way she likes it best. She said that last time she made it she tried adding cooked broccoli, but she thought it changed the flavor and the texture was off. After tasting this yesterday (yum!) I'm thinking of other items to add too. This is definitely one of those you can make your own.

Now, I realize it's summer and we don't usually want to turn our ovens on, but around here we've been battling storm after storm, and we needed some comfort food. So we just cranked the air a little bit higher for a short while yesterday. And everything worked out just fine.

By the way, this makes enough for a party!

Mac and Cheese, plus...

6 cups of rotini pasta (there are two boxes pictured here. We only used one.
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
7.5 cups milk
9 cups of shredded cheese (we used cheddar, mozzarella, and cheddar-jack)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the rotini pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Warm the milk in a deep saucepan. Stir in veggies and cook about 5 minutes. Slowly stir in all the cheese, and keep stirring until you have an even consistency.

Transfer half the cheese mixture to baking pans (we used two glass baking dishes), then add all the cooked noodles. Add the remaining cheese mixture. Stir so all noodles are evenly covered.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. At the end of the baking time, turn the oven heat up all the way to 500-550 and bake for an additional 5 minutes to give it a golden crust.

Cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

I'm sure this recipe can be halved, but for right now, we're all delighted to have the leftovers. My daughter says it's even better the second day.


By the way, Pub Alley listed Grace Under Pressure as one of its mystery bestsellers last week!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Garlic Potato Salad and Book News

Good Morning! (Or good afternoon, evening... whenever you're reading this.)

Today is a very exciting day for me ... and I hope I can make it an exciting one for you, too!

Two things - I'm sharing a recipe for Garlic Potato Salad that I absolutely love and I'm celebrating the release of Grace Under Pressure! Now, what would you like first? The potato salad or the book news?

I'll start with the recipe, how's that?

A few years ago, my husband and I went out to dinner with one of my high school BFFs and her husband. They suggested a tapas restaurant we'd never been to, nor heard of, but it was spectacular! By the way, can you tell how much I enjoy eating out? I think that's my official hobby...

Anyway, the best part of the meal, IMHO, was the garlic potato salad. It was utterly fabulous and the garlicky-est thing I'd ever eaten. I knew I had to make it at home. That put me on a quest to find the perfect garlic potato salad recipe. I thought I'd have a difficult time locating one, but it turned out there were hundreds to choose from. I experimented with several and finally decided which basic recipe I liked best. I've since adjusted it to our family's tastes and I love serving this in the summer with other cookout favorites. Have you noticed how much we've all been talking about cookouts lately? It's been a long, cold winter and I think we're all just itching to get outside and grill!

Garlic Potato Salad

5 lbs red potatoes
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (+/- as you prefer. I usually add more)
1 entire head garlic, cloves minced
1 bunch fresh parsley, very finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
optional: finely chopped celery, finely chopped green pepper

Boil potatoes (skins on) until fork tender, but not soft. Drain them and let them cool before peeling. Cut them into bite-size pieces... roughly square shaped. Mix mayo with garlic and parsley (you can use the entire bunch, or less if you prefer) with any optional items you've chosen to add. Once it's all well mixed, stir in the cooled potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste.

I like to let this sit in the fridge for at least a couple of hours before serving. That way it gets nice and cold and the garlic flavor permeates everything.

We serve this as often with burgers as we do with steaks. It's a nice summery alternative to hot potatoes and my family gobbles this stuff up within a day of my making it. Just a little warning... with all the garlic, you may need an antacid after eating this!

Now... BOOK NEWS!!

Grace Under Pressure is released today!

Here's the cover I posted ages ago, and it's the jpg I have on my hard drive. As it turns out the "subtitle" of the series has changed. Yep, and I just found out last Friday. That's okay though, it's a wonderful subtitle and I'm looking forward to sharing the news everywhere.

Take a look at the cover below. See where it says "A Manor of Murder Mystery"? Well, if you take a look at the cover of the actual finished book ... which I got my first look at on Friday ... you'll see that it says "A Manor House Mystery." Not vastly different, but a change nonetheless.

I have another change to report as well... a contest update: For those of you who entered the pre-order contest, it will be just a little bit longer before I announce the winner. I found out, after I started this contest, that readers trying to pre-order digital copies were stymied. Digital versions aren't set up for pre-order. So... in the interest of fairness... I've extended the contest entry date (for all versions, paperback and digital) through June 5th with the announcement coming here on June 8th - a week from today. But... to make up for this last minute change, I'm going to award two (2) $25 gift certificates. Hope that's okay with everybody!

Thanks so much to everyone who picked up a copy of Grace Under Pressure. I'm just so thrilled by all the lovely emails I've received letting me know it's out there. Readers have been spotting it here and there, and I'm always excited to find a new place and to hear where it's displayed. Thank you, all!

Meet Grace. Visit Marshfield Manor.
Come for the tour,
Stay for the murder!

Hugs to all!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sometimes You Just Need a Scone

Last week it was cold, rainy and just plain blechy outside and I wanted a scone. A good scone.

Now, Starbucks has great scones, but it was pretty late in the day and I didn't want to drive out with my mouth watering only to discover they'd run out. Or that they wouldn't have cinnamon (the one out here hasn't had cinnamon available the last few times I've been there).

Couple that "scone desire" with a friend's Facebook status announcing that she'd just made spice cake with cream cheese frosting to beat back the blues from the yucky, cold, rainy weather, and I was pushed to my limits. I needed a scone and I needed it now.

My first White House Chef book, State of the Onion, has a really fabulous recipe for Honey Almond Scones. I love that recipe so much and I've made it a bunch of times, always to great review (even from some in my family who don't even care for scones). But I didn't have everything I needed for that recipe, so I turned to my second favorite: an adaptation from The Joy of Cooking.

That recipe needed a little "oomph" I thought. And it needed less salt, so I omitted it. Below is the recipe I came up with after a little experimentation. I ate these straight, but I would bet that a little icing (powdered sugar and milk) would have been a wonderful addition and given them a teeny bit more sweet.

Oatmeal Raisin Scones

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
3/4 cup raisins
1 egg
1 1/2 sticks warm melted butter
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients, then add the oatmeal and raisins. You may need to use your fingers to separate the raisins so they don't clump. In another bowl, mix the egg, melted butter and milk, then add the liquid mixture to the dry until it's all nice and moist.

Transfer the dough to a floured cutting board, and form it into a circle that's about 3/4 of an inch thick (give or take). Once it's set, slice into 8 or 12 wedges. The Joy of Cooking book suggests that if the dough is too sticky you wait a minute or two. This was great advice! Worked for me. I sliced my dough into 8ths. Should have done 12ths. My scones were huge! It didn't really matter because I wasn't making these for company, just for myself. But for future reference, smaller is better.

Carefully place wedges on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 - 14 minutes. When they start to turn a little bit brown, they're done.

By the way, I took Cleo's suggestion from a couple of weeks back and invested in an oven thermometer. Turns out my oven is pretty accurate, although when I get the "beep, beep, beep" to tell me it's pre-heated, it's not. I need to wait a bit longer for my oven to get to the desired temperature, but once it's there, it's stable. Good to know.

In any case - if you ever just need to beat the bad-weather blues this is a nice, simple recipe and if you're like me, you have all these ingredients in your house all the time.

Scone, anyone?

And... future pics may feature other dishes. Because I had so much fun estate sale shopping this weekend, I want to share my "find" with you. Check out my personal blog - here - for my adventure with Rooster Dishes.


Don't forget GRACE UNDER PRESSURE comes out June 1st. I'm so excited!

Julie’s first book in the Manor of Murder Mystery series, Grace Under Pressure (starred review in Publishers Weekly!), debuts June 1st! To help launch the book and to celebrate its release, she's running a very special contest: Pre-order Grace Under Pressure any time before May 31, 2010, and you're eligible to win a $25 gift certificate from Mystery Lovers Bookshop! (and if you've already pre-ordered, you just need to let Julie know!) No receipts required. Just email Julie at with thedate that you pre-ordered and thename of the bookstore you ordered it from, and your name goes in! (Please put "CONTEST" in the subject header. Thanks!)

Here are a few helpful links to get you started:
Independent Bookstore List: here
- Mystery Lovers Bookshop (free shipping on book orders over $10!) - Centuries & Sleuths (Julie's local mystery bookstore)

And while we're here...

Avery is offering FREE BOOKMARKS on her website. Click this FREE BOOKMARK link to send me your information.

Her "fan club" contest just ended on May 15 (winner to be announced on the website and in the newsletter soon). Learn about upcoming contests on the Avery Aames website and check out the "fun stuff."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No-Bake Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

Today I'm sharing a recipe I received years ago from a good friend of the family -- so close she's practically a relative. She's elderly now, but at the time she was probably upper middle-age, and always came up with the best desserts for holidays, birthdays, or just let's-get-together days.

I was pretty young when I fell in love with one of her cheesecakes (that recipe will come another time) and when I asked her for it, she misunderstood, and gave me this one instead. My good luck because this one is fabulous too! My family loves cheesecake of all kinds -- what's not to love, though? Cheesecake is creamy and sweet, but not overly so. It has substance and a great "mouth feel." Add in chocolate, and seriously? How much better can you get?

This one is very easy. No bake. Really. I made it for Mother's Day and took it over to my m-i-l's house. It had been years since I made this one (my youngest daughter didn't remember ever having it) and so it qualified as a "Julie's Surprise." I'm lucky that they're used to me... and keep sampling my "surprises" even though some of them don't exactly work out as planned. This one, however, worked out just fine!

I have to also add that it was this cheesecake that got me to love the combination of orange and chocolate. Up to that point, I really preferred to keep those flavors separate. But this worked for me. The orange flavor is subtle, but there's a decided citrusy tang. If you prefer, you can probably leave the orange juice out of the recipe, but if you do, you may want to increase the amount of chocolate you add.

Interesting tidbit: You can tell this recipe has been around for a while. It calls for a 6 oz can of frozen orange juice. I could not find orange juice in 6 oz containers anywhere. I could only find 12 oz. Now, maybe that's just a local thing... but I remember those smaller cans. Now that I think of it, I haven't seen them in a long time. For this recipe, I melted all 12 oz, then made juice with the leftover concentrate.

Here goes:

No-bake Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
4 oz melted chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
1 cup evaporated milk
6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate - allowed to melt to a liquid consistency
9-inch ready prepared graham cracker crust

Beat the cream cheese with the condensed milk until combined. Add the melted chocolate, then the evaporated milk, and mix well. Add the melted orange juice concentrate, and mix until blended. Pour into the prepared pie crust, cover, and freeze for at least 2 hours.

That's it. Honest.

Because it had been a long time since I'd made this, I pulled it out of the freezer when we were halfway through dinner thinking it would need the time to thaw. Mistake. It was still good, but it really did not need to be pulled out early. I should have kept it in the freezer until we were ready to serve. The consistency was just a little bit too gooey. So, word to the wise - keep it frozen until just before you're ready to serve.


Author of Grace Under Pressure - first in the new Manor of Murder Mystery series.


And now a bit of Contest News...

Congratulations to Stacy from Louisville!
You've won Riley's Williams-Sonoma’s Ultimate
Grilling Rub Collection!!! Way to go!!!!!!


Here's your chance to enter
Julie Hyzy's May Contest!

Julie’s first book in the Manor of Murder Mystery series, Grace Under Pressure, debuts June 1st! To help launch the book and to celebrate its release, she's running a very special contest: Pre-order Grace Under Pressure any time before May 31, 2010, and you're eligible to win a $25 gift certificate from Mystery Lovers Bookshop! (and if you've already pre-ordered, you just need to let Julie know!) No receipts required. Just email Julie at with the date that you pre-ordered and the name of the bookstore you ordered it from, and your name goes in! (Please put "CONTEST" in the subject header. Thanks!)

Here are a few helpful links to get you started:
Independent Bookstore List: here
- Mystery Lovers Bookshop (free shipping on book orders over $10!) - Centuries & Sleuths (Julie's local mystery bookstore) - Barnes & Noble -

And while we're here...

Avery is offering FREE BOOKMARKS on her website. Click this FREE BOOKMARK link to send her your information.

She also has a "fan club" contest (separate from Julie's) that is running until this FRIDAY. Click this CONTEST link to see how to enter. Hint: the instructions are in the last paragraph of the newsletter.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Recipe for Fancy Fun

I promised you something special this week, remember?

This past weekend was my daughter's Prom Weekend and it was spectacular. I've posted boatloads of pictures on Facebook, so please be sure to stop by and take a peek.

In the meantime, however, I want to share a little of the fun with you. Don't worry, I've included a recipe too. But, as always, there's a story behind it. And there's a blast from my own prom past at the very end...

First we start with Friday night. Pictures at our house. I didn't count the number of kids, but I heard we had 27 all together. Add in parents, sibs, grandparents, neighbors and friends, and there were a whole lotta people here!

At right: The group in rainbow order.

Fortunately, the rain held off and we were able to take a few shots outside. We probably should have tried to do rainbow order again, but it didn't matter. Aren't they all gorgeous?

The kids decided to forego the traditional limo (there were just too many of them and they didn't like the idea of splitting up) and decided to rent a trolley instead.

(That's my daughter, and her friend) The prom was held at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. What a wonderful place for a party. I wonder what the fish were thinking?

This is one of my favorite pictures:

The trolley dropped them all back off here at about 2:00 AM. Boys went home and the girls stayed here for a sleepover. The boys were supposed to rejoin them here for breakfast Saturday morning before the group took off for new activities, but we only got 2 takers. You think maybe the boys decided to sleep in?

Altogether we had about 14 kids for breakfast (see, you knew I would bring food into play in this post, right?). We served bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns, fruit, bagels, pancakes, muffins, and toast. I had planned to serve the spinach quiche too (this prom is for my veggie daughter, after all) but we really had *so* much food, and we were getting a bit busy preparing it all that I decided to forego the quiche for one day. We had it for breakfast Sunday instead. Yum!!

This recipe is from Eggsecutive Orders and if you enjoy quiche, you'll be sure to like this one. Although not difficult to prepare, it is a bit time-consuming (another reason why we decided not to serve it Saturday), and I found that pouring the 4 egg mixture over the top was just too much. I think 2 eggs would have been enough. But maybe I just didn't buy a deep enough deep dish pie crust. As alway, YMMV (your mileage may vary).

In the spirit of fancy ... whether it be for prom or for any celebration that inspires you to create a fun and delicious breakfast, you'll want to keep this quiche recipe handy!

Spinach Quiche

½ cup butter

3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and finely minced

1 small onion, trimmed, peeled, and finely chopped

1 pint fresh mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced

1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

4 ounces herbed feta cheese, crumbled

8 ounces good-quality Cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

½ teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, or to taste

¼ tsp ground black pepper

1 deep dish pie crust, unbaked

4 eggs

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic and onion. Stir gently and cook until onion is soft and slightly browned on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir until warmed through and reduced, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, feta cheese, and half of the Cheddar cheese. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Place mixture into unbaked pie shell.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until blended, add milk, whisk to combine well. Pour into pie shell over vegetable mixture.

Place filled pie shell on cookie sheet to keep it from overflowing.

Place into preheated oven. Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees F. Bake for 20 minutes. Top quiche with remaining Cheddar cheese. Return to oven and bake for and additional 30 to 40 minutes. Quiche is done when the eggs are set and firm in the center.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Now... just for giggles, I'm including a pic from my prom oh-so-many years ago. My date's name was Iver and we went to his prom at St. Ignatius College Prep and to my prom at Maria High School. That was about the extent of our "dating" but I have fond memories of both events. He was a very nice young man.

How proms have changed. Back then I curled my own hair, used a little bit more mascara, and wore a dress I purchased on sale at Wieboldts. (Are they even in business anymore?) These days, it's so much more of an event. To be honest, as much work as it was to get the house set up for all the people, and to make breakfast for a dozen-plus kids, I really enjoyed every minute of the weekend. But I have to admit, I really loved the quiet of Sunday. And having that quiche all to ourselves was a nice treat!

But now it's time for me to turn the tables on you. Did you go to prom? Jump into the comments and share your fun (or horror) stories!


PS - I'm running the May contest (below) - I hope you take a look and consider entering!


Julie's May Contest!

Julie’s first book in the Manor of Murder Mystery series, Grace Under Pressure, debuts June 1st! To help launch the book and to celebrate its release, she's running a very special contest: Pre-order Grace Under Pressure any time before May 31, 2010, and you're eligible to win a $25 gift certificate from Mystery Lovers Bookshop! (and if you've already pre-ordered, you just need to let Julie know!) No receipts required. Just email Julie at with the date that you pre-ordered and the name of the bookstore you ordered it from, and your name goes in! (Please put "CONTEST" in the subject header. Thanks!)

Here are a few helpful links to get you started:Mystery Lovers Bookshop (free shipping on book orders over $10!) - Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore (my local bookstore - autographing available) - Barnes & Noble -

Speaking of contests... we have a winner for Riley's April contest! Congratulations to Stacy from Louisville! You've won the Williams-Sonoma’s Ultimate Grilling Rub Collection. We hope you enjoy it and thanks so much for entering the contest. We'll be emailing you soon with more information. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oven-Fried Chicken

I've mentioned here several times, that I'm a lucky girl because I have a ghost chef who comes up with all my White House Chef Mystery recipes.

I've tried making most of them at home and I have to say, they're all pretty wonderful. One of those I've only *just* attempted is Oven-Fried Chicken. I tasted it last December when my local library hosted a book discussion and hired a caterer to make all "Ollie" food. What a blast! At that point, I knew I had to try this one. Well, I just did, and let me tell you, I'm asking myself why I waited so long. This is ridiculously easy, and incredibly juicy and delicious. Remember the old Shake and Bake commercials? "And we helped!" Well, those little girls could put this recipe together just as easily.

Quick, delicious, simple... what else is there?

Here it is, straight from Ollie:

Oven-Fried Chicken

1 roasting chicken, rinsed and cut into pieces, giblets (if any) removed (I make stock out of them, but it’s perfectly acceptable to just toss them)

½ C. butter

1 C. flour

2 T. garlic powder

1 T. onion powder

1 T. salt (or to taste)

1 t. freshly ground pepper (or to taste)

1 T. fresh lemon zest, finely diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place butter in ovenproof baking dish large enough to hold chicken pieces in a single layer, or a 9 X 13 cake pan. Put in heating oven to melt.

Place flour, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and lemon zest in a large and sturdy zip-lock bag. Shake until mixed.

Remove pan with melted butter from oven.

One piece at a time, place chicken pieces into bag with flour mixture, seal, and shake until chicken is coated. Remove from bag, and roll in melted butter in pan. Place in pan, skin side up.

Continue until all pieces are coated in flour and butter, arranged in pan.

Place pan in oven. Cook until chicken is brown and crispy on top and cooked through—about 40 minutes.

Remove chicken from pan. Plate and serve.

Doesn't that look delicious? Trust me, it is. And the smell of the garlic baking is ... ahh....

Mmm... I'm getting hungry again.

By the way, you may remember that last year my husband and I gave each other a year of dining out -- once a month -- at a place that was new to at least one of us. Well, we're doing that again this year. I haven't "reviewed" all our choices, but Blue 13 in Chicago is definitely worth a mention. My April 15th blog here has all the details and my personal review. There's also information on that page about my book launch party June 6th for Grace Under Pressure. If you're in the area, I would love for you to come! Questions, just holler.

Best always,


Woo-hoo!! I have some late-breaking news to share! I just found out that Grace Under Pressure received a *starred* review from Publishers Weekly! I'm so excited!


Don't Forget...


The first book in the Memphis Barbeque series, Delicious and Suspicious, will be released July 6. To celebrate its upcoming release, Riley is throwing a giveaway! :) It's almost grilling time and you'll soon want Williams-Sonoma’s Ultimate Grilling Rub Collection. It’s easy enter! Just send an email with “Contest” in the subject line.

Grilling Rub   CollectionReally, really want to up your chances? You’ll get one extra entry if you follow us on Twitter, one extra if you subscribe to our posts (in the right hand sidebar under “Subscribe”), and one extra for becoming a follower (by clicking the “follow” button in the right hand column under our book covers and blog roll.) Just send us an extra email at and let us know what you’ve signed up for. If you’re already a follower or subscriber, let us know that, too!