Showing posts with label Laurie Cass. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Laurie Cass. Show all posts

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Welcome guest, author Laurie Cass!

Laurie Cass grew up in Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the 80’s with a (mostly unused) Bachelor of Science degree in geology. She and her husband live on a lake in northwest lower Michigan. When Laurie isn’t writing, she’s working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of her garden, or doing some variety of skiing.

Laurie is offering a giveaway - see below and leave a comment!

Take it away, Laurie!


In the fall of 2013, my husband and I, for the first time ever, traveled to the great state of Louisiana. Our destination was not New Orleans, but Baton Rouge, because the reason for the traveling was to attend the American Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) conference.

The trip was research for the bookmobile cat books, but it was also a vacation. We stayed at a Hilton in a room with a Mississippi River view, and had a great time touring the capitol building, area museums, and trying a different restaurant for every meal.

One particular dinner, however, we didn’t go to a restaurant at all, because down the street from the hotel was the city’s annual Jambalaya Jam, an event sponsored by the local United Way. We bought our $10 tickets and received wrist bands that allowed us to roam and sample jambalaya from forty-odd competing teams. (I think we made it through seven.)

We had a great time talking to folks and listening to live music and headed home determined to try our hand at making jambalaya. The following is the result, non-spicy because that’s the way the female half of this partnership prefers it.

Jambalaya – Non-Spicy
3 slices         Bacon
1 lb.              Raw pork loin, cut into cubes
1 lb.              Mild smoked sausage, diced or sliced into 1/4” rounds
1/4 lb.           Shrimp - peeled and diced
1/4 cup         Water
2 cups          Onion, chopped
1 cup            Green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup         Celery, chopped
1 TB.            Garlic, minced
1 qt.              Beef stock or broth
3 cups          Water, heated
1/4 cup         Green onion, sliced
1/2 teas.        Thyme, dried
1/2 teas.        Basil, dried
1/2 teas.        Parsley dried, plus extra for garnish if desired
4 cups          Rice, long grain
For table       Bottled hot sauce

Slice bacon into a 6 quart Dutch oven and cook until fat is rendered. Add cubed pork and cook over medium high heat in the drippings, stirring regularly, until meat is heavily browned and browned bits have formed in the bottom of the pot. In a separate pan, cook the shrimp in a tablespoon or so of oil.

To the Dutch oven, add the sausage and shrimp, cook and stir for 3 minutes, then add the 1/4 cup of water a little at a time, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. This will add both flavor and color to your jambalaya.

Add onion, bell pepper and celery, cook and stir for 4 minutes; add the garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the beef stock, bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add the 3 cups of hot water, green onion, Cajun seasoning, thyme, basil, parsley and rice; stir well.

Cover, transfer pot to the oven, baking at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove, let stand covered until ready to serve, or for at least 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. Spoon loosely into a serving platter if desired, but do not pack down. Garnish with parsley, serve with a side salad or green vegetable, and pass a bottle of hot sauce at the table.

Note:  We freeze the leftovers in individual plastic zip bags with about 12 ounces of jambalaya in each. When reheating, we’ll add a quarter cup or so of chicken broth to keep it moist. Yum!

I’ll be giving away a copy of the latest release in the Bookmobile Cat Series, Cat With A Clue. And, as an added bonus, I’ll include a copy of Murder at the PTA, the first book in my other mystery series, written under the pen name Laura Alden.


Facebook link

Cat with a Clue
Released August 2, 2016

Early one morning while shelving books in the library, Minnie stumbles upon a dead body. Authorities identify the woman as an out-of-towner visiting Chilson for her great-aunt’s funeral. What she was doing in the library after hours is anyone’s guess . . . but Minnie and her rescue cat Eddie are determined to save the library’s reputation and catch a killer.

As rumors about the victim circulate through Chilson, the police are in a bind over a streak of baffling break-ins. Luckily, Minnie and Eddie are traveling the county in their bookmobile, and they'll stop at nothing to find the spineless killer before the final page is turned on someone else.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Welcome our guest, Laurie Cass!!!

Please welcome author Laurie Cass!

Laurie Cass grew up in Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the 80’s with a (mostly unused) Bachelor of Science degree in geology. Currently, Laurie and her husband share their house with two cats, the inestimable Eddie, and the adorably cute Sinii. When Laurie isn’t writing, she’s working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of her garden, or doing some variety of skiing. Laurie also writes the PTA Mystery Series under the name Laura Alden.

Take it away, Laurie/Laura:

* * *
From Laurie:

You know how it goes. There’s a church dinner or a family get-together or an office event or a neighborhood party and you’re called upon to bring a dish to pass. There’s no getting out of it; something must be concocted. This broccoli salad is one of the two recipes I’ve sweet-talked out of a friend and it’s now a standard potluck contribution (the other is bite-sized sausage-cheese balls, in our house also known as the Moist Balls of Fun). 

Warning: if you want to have any salad for your own family the next night, 
you’d better put some aside. There is rarely any left!


Broccoli Salad

2-3 large bunches of broccoli, cut into small, bite-sized pieces (about 4 cups, chopped)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 lb. crumbled bacon
1/2 cup onion (optional - personally, I never put it in)
Add salted sunflower seeds to taste

Dressing - add just before serving
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sugar
2 T. vinegar  

Mix broccoli, golden raisins, bacon, optional onion, and sunflower seeds. Just before serving, add the dressing about 1/4 cup at a time until you reach the desired amount of goo-iness. Be careful not to overgoo.
This version has onion!

Make-ahead tip:  cook the bacon in advance, then freeze. And don’t thaw the bacon before cutting the strips into crumbly bits; it cuts up easy-peasy when still frozen.

Bacon cooking tip:  bake the bacon. Take a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. Place a wire rack on top of the parchment paper, lay bacon strips individually across the rack, then cook in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until desired doneness is achieved, 20 to 30 minutes. Longer if you’re using thick-sliced bacon.

What's not to love about bacon??! 

Note from Daryl (who invited Laurie) - um, where's the recipe for the Moist Balls of Fun???!!!  :)  Thank you for joining us!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Welcome, Laura Alden!

I have had the pleasure of knowing Laura Alden for a few years. I knew her wonderful humor would appear in her books, but I was blown away by the touching relationships she paints with her words. Laura lives on a lake in Michigan with her husband and two cats, which, she says, means she spends "winters and summers falling down on skis."

I confess that I had to try this! We loved it. So quick and easy, but delicious and a wonderful way to get fish into our diet without being boring. The photos are from my attempt at making it. My apologies to Laura!

Welcome, Laura!

When Krista asked me to guest here on MLK, my first thought was, “Oh, how kind of her to ask!” My second thought was, “Oh, dear. My cooking/baking skills are pathetic!” But when she assured me that a fast/easy/minimal-ingredient-recipe was perfectly acceptable, I had a third thought; “Buck up, buttercup. You can do this.”

So here’s the dinner my husband and I cooked the other night. It’s going to be an odd recipe, because this is one of the few things I make up as I go, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea.

Fish and Guacamole Tacos

Ingredients: Fish, guacamole, and tortillas.

And that’s it. Thanks for asking me to guest post! :)

…Okay, there’s a little more to it than that, but not much. Here’s a slightly more detailed list of ingredients for a dinner for two:

About 10 oz. tuna steaks
Little bit of oil
Salt & pepper to taste

1 avocado
2-4 teas. onion, finely chopped
1-2 teas. garlic, finely chopped
1-2 Tb. cilantro, finely chopped
1 teas. lemon juice
Shake of salt

4-6 tortillas of either corn or flour (use whatever size diameter you have handy)
Little bit of olive oil (depending on warming method)

First, make the guacamole. Slice the avocado, remove out the pit, and scrape the yummy goodness onto a plate. Smush it up with a fork, then start adding the goodies. Depending on the size of the avocado, its freshness, its ripeness, and way the planets are aligned, the desired amounts of onion, garlic, and cilantro will vary. I start on the low end of the scale and keep adding until things taste Baby Bear right. It’s an individual thing, so don’t think my amounts as set in stone. By the way, it is possible to add too much cilantro. Did that once, won’t do it again.

[Note: cooks who don’t have a spouse who abhors tomatoes can add small bits of tomatoes to the guacamole.] Part of the fun of making guacamole is getting to taste test. I recommend warming up a few tortilla chips in the toaster oven for the job.

Once the guac is done, it’s time to cook the fish. Salt and pepper both sides of the tuna to taste, brush a small amount of oil on a grill pan (or frying pan) and cook 2-3 minutes on a side to desired doneness. Slice the tuna into strips.

[Note: though tuna is outstanding for this dish, we’ve used salmon happily enough, although we bake the salmon instead of using the grill pan. And I’m sure most any kind of fish would work just fine, although a thinner cut of a less-firm fish will flake apart when slicing. Which isn’t a problem; you just end up with fish flakes instead of fish slices.]

When the fish is cooking, it’s time to warm the tortillas. We use two different warming methods. My husband prefers the oven version; place tortillas under the broiler on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet, with one side of the tortilla brushed with a little olive oil and heat until just before they start burning. I find this a little chewy, so I warm my tortillas in the microwave.

Put a happy heap of guacamole onto a tortilla, top with fish, roll it up, and eat! If we’re really hungry, we’ll make a double batch of guacamole so we can have some as a sort of a second course with a bowl of warmed tortilla chips.

If you want to go to extremes, try making your own tortillas. Amazingly good stuff. And if you want to go to ridiculous extremes, cut some of those home-made tortillas up and fry them to make your own tortilla chips.

Laura Alden grew up in Michigan and graduated from Eastern Michigan University in the 80’s with a (mostly unused) Bachelor of Science degree in geology. Currently, Laura and her husband share their house with two very strange cats. When Laura isn’t writing, she’s working at her day job, reading, yanking weeds out of her garden, or doing some variety of skiing. Laura’s debut novel, “Murder at the PTA” was an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel. Her fourth book, “Curse of the PTA,” was released in April 2013.