Showing posts with label Linda O. Johnston. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Linda O. Johnston. Show all posts

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dip In by Linda O. Johnson

Hi, Mystery Lovers Kitchen.  I'm back!  I've guest posted here before.  This time, I want to particularly thank Lucy Burdette for inviting me.
I'm Linda O. Johnston, and I write, among other things, the Pet Rescue Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime.  I'm excited to say that my fifth Pet Rescue Mystery, TEACUP TURBULENCE, is a January 2014 release.  It features a very special kind of pet rescue in which dogs are moved by private plane from an area where they're unwanted and unlikely to find new homes to another locale where people are eager for them.  And, yes, that kind of rescue is very real.  Plus, my protagonist, dedicated pet rescuer Lauren Vancouver, gets to do something else she's become quite good at: solving a murder.

When I was here last time, I provided a recipe for cookies that I obtained from a neighbor who's a really great chef.  But I'm not a particularly good cook.   Neither is Lauren.  She's too busy saving pets. 

Me?  Well, I really admire people who cook good and tasty food, like the bloggers at Mystery Lovers Kitchen.  Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.  Although I used to have a lot of fun cooking when I was younger and my sons were still at home, I now take advantage of my husband's patience when it comes to what I serve for dinner.  I keep things simple and use packaged food mixes whenever possible--although I do doctor them a lot for our tastes.
This time, I borrowed a recipe again--from my wonderful mother-in-law, who had obtained it from a friend.  I'd tasted it at my m-i-l's home and really enjoyed it.  I brought it home, tested it and played with it, and I've included it in this blog.  One nice thing about it is that it's easy to do, and you can even experiment with it a bit, trying different ingredients.  You can serve it at home for family or at parties.  My own dogs have tummy issues so they can't try it, but you might even be able to give tastes to your pets--or at least the crackers or chips you serve it on.  I thought about that, of course, since--as you've probably figured--I write a lot about pets.

So, here it is.  I hope you enjoy it!

Easy, Cheesy Dip: The Tastiest, Simplest Dip Around

16 oz. cream cheese
1 can of chili
shredded cheese

Spread the cream cheese at the bottom of a large glass baking dish.  Then spread the can of chili on top of it.  Finally, cover it all with a thick layer of shredded cheese.

Bake it at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, let it cool, then serve it, preferably warm, with chips or crackers.

You can experiment with the kind of chili you choose.  I prefer turkey chili that's fairly mild, but there are hotter chilies, some with meat and some without.  You can also use chili dog sauce.

You can also try different kinds of crackers and chips.  My favorite is the Tostito party-size scoops.

Hope you enjoy it!

Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year.   Since then, Linda has published more short stories, plus 35 mystery and romance novels, including for Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Nocturne. 

Linda’s Pet Rescue Mysteries, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, feature Lauren Vancouver, a determined pet rescuer who runs a no-kill shelter.  In this cozy series,“no-kill” refers to pets, not people!   And watch for Linda's Superstition Mysteries from Midnight Ink.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Please welcome our almost Halloween guest, 
Linda O. Johnston!!!

* * *

Hi, Mystery Lovers Kitchen, and most especially Avery Aames.  Thanks for inviting me to blog here today.

I’m Linda O. Johnston, and the mysteries I’m currently writing are part of the Pet Rescue Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime.  The second one, THE MORE THE TERRIER, is an October 2011 release.  The first one, BEAGLEMANIA, was published in March of this year.  This series is a spinoff from my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mystery series.
I have to admit that it’s a special delight to be here among such wonderful writers who also create delicious dishes to eat.  Neither my protagonist Lauren Vancouver nor I are great cooks.  Both of us are empty nesters, although I’m still happily married and Lauren isn’t.  Having no kids at home these days is one of my excuses for not cooking much that’s exciting, particularly since I have a kind and patient husband.

Lauren is much more inclined to do all she can to feed the animals in her special no-kill animal shelter, HotRescues, located in LA’s San Fernando Valley, than to cook something special for herself.  Her kids are both away at college.  Of course she does have a love interest, Captain Matt Kingston of Los Angeles Animal Services.  Maybe she’ll start trying new recipes out on him one of these days.

When I first launched BEAGLEMANIA, I wanted some special treats for people who came to my signings.  I prevailed on my friend and neighbor Ian Grimbaldeston, who’s an excellent chef, caterer, party thrower, artist and more, and he baked some delicious people-biscuit cookies using the recipe below.  For my events, he used some dog biscuit shaped cookie cutters that I had picked up at a pet boutique.  I needed to be very clear with people that, notwithstanding the shapes, the cookies were for people and not dogs--particularly because of the chocolate chips.
If you bake these you can use other kinds of cookie cutters where it says to cut the dough into rectangles.  If they’re Halloween cookies, you can use appropriate pumpkin-shaped cookie cutters, and I’d imagine a bit of orange food coloring would help with that theme.

Me?  Well, I prefer people biscuits.  They really turned out cute--and, yes, tasty.

I’m always interested in cooking things that are quick and easy, so feel free to chew me out about that--or to offer suggestions. 

You can find me at my website:  Or, you can friend me on Facebook.  I also blog weekly at  My fellow Killer Hobbyists also write mysteries, and theirs are themed around their hobbies such as scrapbooking, needlework, quilting, rubber stamping and crocheting.  I was invited long ago to join and I love being part of their group, even though my invitation was the result of my mysteries centering around pets--and pets aren’t hobbies, they’re family!

Chocolate Chip and Rosemary Shortbread

• 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened to room temperature
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cream the butter with sugar. Mix in the rosemary, salt, and flour, 1/4 cup at a time. Sprinkle in the chocolate chips, and stir by hand until well-distributed.

Gather the dough into a ball. Cook's Note: If the dough begins to soften or feel greasy, chill the dough for 15 minutes.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle of 1/2-inch thickness and cut into rectangles about 1/2-inch by 2-inch. Place the dough on a cold ungreased baking sheet. Prick the top with a fork. Bake the shortbread for 25 minutes, or until the dough starts to turn a golden color. Remove the shortbread from the baking sheet and let cool completely on a rack.

To win a copy of Linda's THE MORE THE TERRIER, post a comment today. One of you will be selected to win. The winner's name will be posted here right before midnight, EST.