Showing posts with label Jennifer McKinlay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jennifer McKinlay. Show all posts

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes Can't Be BEET!

Hi, Everyone!

It’s so great to be back in the kitchen! Thanks for inviting me, ladies, and thanks for all of the wonderful recipes you share every day. You’re keeping my family safe from dying of culinary boredom and a diet consisting solely of cupcakes.

My next cupcake caper, DEATH BY THE DOZEN, comes out in October, so when Ellery invited me to blog, I knew it had to be one of the recipes from that book. The trouble was – which one? You see, this story finds our intrepid, over-sugared heroines Mel and Angie entered in the challenge to the chefs, pastry division, at the Scottsdale Food Festival. Their bakery rival Olivia Puckett joins the fray and the tensions run high as they have to bake delicious desserts from mystery ingredients such as beets, beer and chili peppers. Mel and Angie are up to the task until Mel’s mentor, Vic Mazzotta, who is judging the competition, is found murdered. Now Mel and Angie have to whip up amazing desserts and solve a murder before the killer makes sure they are out of the competition – for good.

So, you can see, I had several unorthodox recipes to choose from. My personal favorite is the red velvet cupcake made with beets, so that is the one I’m going to share with you today. For you non beet lovers, take heart. My Hub hates beets and he loved these cupcakes. And moms, it’s one more sneaky way to get those veggies in!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (using beets): A red velvet cupcake made with beet puree and topped cream cheese frosting and an edible flower (optional).

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup beet puree
1/3 cup canola oil

1 egg, room temperature

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put 12 cupcake liners in muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, add in the oil, lemon juice, vanilla and egg to the pureed beets. Pour the beet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full and bake for 18 – 22 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth. Put frosting in a pastry bag and pipe onto cupcakes in thick swirls, using an open tip. Decorate with an edible flower, such as a nasturtium.


Jenn McKinlay

New York Times Bestselling Author of the Cupcake Bakery mysteries and the

Library Lover’s mysteries!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Baked French Toast with Apples!

ACK, the holidays are coming!
I don't know about you but I
love recipes that I can prep ahead
that give me breathing room for the
main event.

I've gotten variations of this
recipe from several people and it
is virtually impossible to mess
up. It is delicious and when you're
in a time crunch to prep the bird, ham
or tofu roast beast and all of the sides,
it's nice to have something that you made
the night before that you can pop into the
oven and get breakfast off of your hands.
I give you: Baked French Toast with Apples!


5 thick slices cinnamon bread
1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
4 egg whites
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons allspice
2 medium apples (sliced thin)
powdered sugar

Cut cinnamon bread into small chunks, place in a large bowl and set aside. In a another bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, vanilla and milk. Sprinkle sugar over bread and then add egg mixture. Stir in cinnamon and apples. Pour into a greased 13×9 baking dish and let sit in the fridge overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes or until set. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with maple syrup.

Happy Insane Holiday Season, Everyone!


BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF coming January 2011

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hot Seafood Dip

I have just returned from the New England Crime Bake
in Dedham, MA. It was a great conference on
many levels. First, I got to have a long
chat with Charlaine Harris. I have to say, she is a
genuine soul. I learned so much just chatting with her.
Really, I can't say enough nice things about her.

Jenn and Charlaine Harris!

Second, I didn't faint when I met Dennis Lehane.
I call that a triumph!

And finally, I got to make a bunch of new friends
(Hi, Leigh Ann), talk shop with writers from
all over New England *AND* I got to visit my family;
Lunch with dad, crashing at my brother's for a few
nights and the banquet with Mom. Good times!

Now I am doubly fortunate because my sister-in-law,
Natalie, is one of those cooks who can have a potato
and two canned goods in her pantry and knock your
socks off with what she can create out of it.
Seriously, I live in awe of her culinary skills.
She's such a love, she prepared a seafood stew that
was to die for while I was there.

So, since I'm a little homesick, I thought I'd
share one of her other yummy seafood recipes.
Now, I've been to her parties. People throw elbows
and tripping has been known to happen when she
brings this baby out of the oven. So be warned!


12 oz cream cheese, softenend
1/3 cup minced green pepper
1/3 cup chopped green scallion
2 tblspns lemon juice
1/2 tsp WORCESTERSHIRE sauce
1/2 tsp salt
dash garlic powder
6 oz can crab, drained
4.5 oz can shrimp, drained
6.5 oz can minced clams, drained
1/4 cup slivered almonds

In medium bowl, blend cream cheese, green peppers, onion,
lemon juice, W. sauce, salt and garlic powder. Stir in
crab, shrimp and clams.
Turn mixture into a 1 qt ungreased casserole or oven
proof serving dish. Sprinkle with almonds.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min until bubbly around edges.
Serve with crackers and veggies. Makes 4 cups.


BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF -- Available January 2011
"A sublime mystery" -- Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wok this way!

Hub and I love to wok out together!
Okay, I'll stop now. I wouldn't want
my post to be too much wok. Okay,
really I'm
Seriously, one of our favorite kitchen
toys is our wok. You just can't go wrong
with it when you need a quick and nutritious
for the family. This is a stir fry recipe the
Hub impressed us with the other day.


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

3 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 cups diced veggies (he used carrots, onions and red peppers)

1 cup water

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules

Chopped fresh cilantro


Cut chicken into 1-inch chunks; place in a plastic bag. Add cornstarch and toss to

coat. Combine soy sauce, ginger and garlic powder; add to bag and shake well.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. In a large wok, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over med-hi

heat; stir-fry chicken about 3-5 minutes. Remove and keep warm. Add remaining

oil; stir- fry veggies for 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add water and bouillon.

Return chicken to pan. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Serve over rice,

sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Take a wok on the wild side...;-)

Jenn McKinlay

Available now!

aka Lucy Lawrence


Available now!

And now our contest news! Julie's contest is a wrap! Congrats to
Margaret (Mamadrama) and Ken M!

And now to celebrate the upcoming release of THE LONG QUICHE GOOD-BYE,
Avery is hosting our next exciting contest!

Avery's "You Be The Sleuth" Contest!

Avery’s first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6! You be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers page.

Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

I was very lucky to be the author at
Authors @ the Teague this past Saturday.
Lesa Holstine, the director of the Velma
Teague Branch and coordinator of the
event, was so wonderful to have me out

to visit. I can't thank her enough. She
even had the most scrumptious little
cupcake bites from Shelley's Specialty
-- truly, wonderful! Thanks, Lesa!
(She's the one in the cool hat, I'm the one in
the cupcake T-shirt -- shocker, I know).

One of the things that I am frequently asked is:
How do you have a life and write three series
the same time?
Good question. I'm a spaz, so that helps, but I'm
also always looking for ways to make my life with two
ACTIVE boys -- note the understatement -- and a new puppy
quicker and easier without compromise, as in I've never eaten a
frozen dinner in my life (unless it was my own leftovers)
and I'm not planning to start any time soon. I know there are good ones
out there, but I'm trying not to eat any packaged foods. I sound like a food
snob, don't I? Well, this recipe should fix that. It's a total back to basics!

A lovely librarian that I work with (also the mom of two sons -- so she
knows the drill) gave me this recipe the other day and as soon as I read it,
I knew I had to make it. She got it from the New York Times's
Mark Bittman and his Recipe of the Day
and graciously
shared it with me. Thanks, Wendy!

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs


1/2 pound thin spaghetti
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, slightly smashed

4 eggs

Ground black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan


Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Start the sauce in the next step, and start cooking the pasta when the water boils. Combine garlic and 4 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic, pressing it into the oil occasionally to release its flavor; it should barely color on both sides. Remove the garlic, and add the remaining oil. Fry the eggs gently in the oil, until the whites are just about set and the yolks still quite runny. Drain the pasta, and toss with the eggs and oil, breaking up the whites as you do. (The eggs will finish cooking in the heat of the pasta.) Season to taste, and serve immediately, with cheese if you like.

TESTIFY! This was delicious. We put a little diced pepperoni on
ours, but it was not needed. And it only took 20 minutes to prep
and serve.

Jenn McKinlay

Available NOW

aka Lucy Lawrence
Available NOW

And now what's shaking in contest land???

Julie’s first book in the Manor of Murder Mystery series,

Grace Under Pressure, debuts June 1st! To help launch t

he 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!) - The Poisoned Pen (my local

mystery bookstore) - Barnes & Noble -

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tomato Soup Cake

Soup Can by Andy Warhol
(a favorite of mine)
It was a dreary rainy day
in Phoenix yesterday, so
naturally the dudes and I
went for a two hour hike in
Papago Park.
We missed most of the rain but
there was a chill in the air and
the sky stayed gray. We loved it!
Yes, it is possible to get tired of
sunshine so we really try to enjoy
the gloom on the rare days that we
get it.
After our hike, we required cake
and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate
was easy (thank you, Swiss Miss).

But for the cake I wanted something a little more dense than the usual,
so we brought out Gram's recipe box and searched for the recipe my
mother had recently told me about: Tomato Soup Cake. It just begs to be
given a test drive, doesn't it?


1/3 cup oleo
(had to call Mom on that one -- I'd forgotten what oleo was)
(I used 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened, instead)
1 cup sugar

1 egg
1 tspn ground cinnamon

1/2 tspn ground cloves
1/2 tspn nutmeg
1 can condensed tomato
soup (10.75 oz)

1 tspn baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup raisins
Confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 9 baking dish.
Mix tomato soup and baking soda (it will foam a bit) and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until
fluffy then add egg, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Alternately
add the soup and flour to the large mixing bowl. Lastly, mix in

raisins. Pour into baking dish and bake for 50 - 55 minutes.
Let cool and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Well, after dubious looks from the dudes and the Hub, I am
happy to report that this cake is delicious. It's a little heavier
than regular cake, but it's moist and has just the right amount of
spice. If you didn't know tomato soup was in there, you'd never
guess. Two oven mitts up, Gram! Next time I want to try it in
the form of cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!!! YUM!

The winner of our Cookie Cutter contest is Danica Rice!
Congrats, Danica! Good luck with the shamrock!

Yippee! I just got word that Sprinkle with Murder is ranked 9th on Barnes and Noble's mass market mystery bestseller list. Let's celebrate and give away some cupcakes! If you’d like to win cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop, send us an e-mail at or a comment with your idea of the wackiest cupcake ingredients you can think of.

Thanks to everyone who came to Saturday's signing at the Poisoned Pen and enjoyed some Lulu's Cupcakes! Murder and cupcakes -- what's not to love? Here are some pics my father-in-law (Robert Orf) took. He's a wonderful photographer! Thanks, Dad!

Jenn McKinlay



Lucy Lawrence


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Creative Writers Having Fun

We're delighted to have been awarded Lesa's "Creative Writer" Blogger Award! Created by Lesa Holstein, this has to be one of the best and most fun blogging awards around! The rules are simple.

1.Thank the person who gave this to you.
2.Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3.Link to the person who nominated you.
4.Tell us up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth.
5.Allow your readers to guess which one or more are true.
5.Nominate seven "Creative Writers" who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.
6.Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.
7.Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

Thanks for nominating us, Lesa!

Below you'll find two lies and one truth for each of us. Can you guess which statements are true?

We've taken it a step further by adding pictures of ourselves. Can you match the pictures to the authors?

We hope you'll have as much fun with this as we did. Our seven nominees are scattered through this blog post. Watch out -- you might be the next recipient of Lesa's "Creative Writer" Blogger Award!

Avery Aames

1. I played the murderess on a mystery cruise.

2. I attended the American Culinary Institute.

3. I did a skit on stage with Robin Williams.

I nominate The Lipstick Chronicles for Lesa's "Creative Writer" Blogger Award!

Jenn McKinlay

1. My genealogy has been traced back to the 1400's
and I had relatives that came over on the Mayflower.

2. At six feet tall, I played basketball all through school and was recruited by several Universities but blew my knee out in my senior year.

3. My favorite mode of transportation is my Sector 9 mini-longboard (a skateboard).

I nominate Killer Hobbies for Lesa's "Creative Writer" Blogger Award!

Cleo Coyle
1. While working as a cub reporter for The New York Times I interviewed an interfaith group of peace activists heading to Nicaragua. When they were taken hostage by Nicaraguan rebels, my interviews were grabbed out of the Metro file by the Times Foreign Desk and run in a special box in connection with their major page one story.

2. When my sister was the Community Health Director for Bethel, Alaska, I spent a year living and working in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and I trained with a seasoned female musher to compete in their famous Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race. I didn’t even place, but I did finish!

3. While still a student at Carnegie Mellon, a university known for advanced computer science, I participated in a media internship that involved developing creative concepts for science fiction movies. As a result, one of the minor characters in the cutting-edge movie Tron actually has my nickname!

I nominate Mason Canyon's Thoughts in Progress for Lesa's "Creative Writer" Blogger Award!

Krista Davis

1. I began ballet lessons at the age of three and danced in a production of Peer Gynt at the Kennedy Center.

2. I was assistant manager of the largest convention hotel in Washington, DC.

3. I have a Masters Degree in Library Science and owned a bookstore for six years.

I nominate The Cozy Chicks for Lesa's "Creative Writer" Blogger Award!

Julie Hyzy

1. I swallowed a goldfish in order to pass initiation into my fraternity in college. I had named him B-D when I bought him (we had to provide our own goldfish), because it was my birthday.

2. I am afflicted by a condition known as synesthesia, meaning that I "see" letters of the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, etc. in certain colors. Monday, for instance, is red.

3. I didn't get to be an extra, but I met and took a picture with Christian Bale when he was in Chicago filming Batman. What a sweet guy!

I nominate Poe's Deadly Daughters for Lesa's "Creative Writer" Blogger Award!

Elizabeth Spann Craig

1. Elizabeth’s grandmother was an extra in Gone with the Wind during the Atlanta fire sequence.

2. Elizabeth won $100 playing Bingo at the Cloister in Sea Island, GA, when she was 4 years old. All she wanted with the money was a Donald Duck coloring book.

3. Elizabeth’s years of experience as an assistant funeral director at the Amazing Grace Funeral Home was the inspiration for her murder mystery writing.

I nominate Meanderings and Musings for Lesa's "Creative Writer" Blogger Award!

And last, but far from least, our seventh pick for Lesa's "Creative Writer" Blogger Award
(drum roll, please)
The Grill Guy from My Year on the Grill!

Lesa, thanks again for coming up with this clever award. We've had a lot of fun! We hope our readers have as much fun figuring out the truth!
Each day next week, one of us will reveal which of our three statements was true and which two were lies. On Saturday, Krista Davis will reveal who is who in the photos. In the meantime...
Can you guess which statements are true and which are lies?
And who is who in the photos above? Hint: the placement is scrambled!
Try your luck and leave a comment...