Showing posts with label Linda Wiken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Linda Wiken. Show all posts

Monday, October 2, 2017

Around the Kitchen Table -- Comfort Food


LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  The seasons are changing, and with it, what we eat. No more fresh peaches or berries. Up here in the north, the pots of herbs are coming inside, there's a colander filled with the last tomatoes on the counter, and the deer and bears have left a few apples on our ancient Red Delicious tree. It's the season for comfort food.

A few years ago, a friend went into rapture, fantasizing about a fresh ragu -- an herby tomato sauce -- simmering on her stove, and called it the ultimate comfort food. I laughed -- to me, the ultimate comfort food is mac 'n cheese, smooth, creamy, maybe with a few herbs and toasted breadcrumbs for crunch, but none of the spicy bursts of flavor of a rich tomato sauce. I gave that conversation to my girl Erin in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, but she plays the part of the surprised Italian girl who goes to college and discovers that to others, comfort food was grilled cheese, custard, or bread pudding. Pumpkin muffins. Breakfast for dinner. (I swear, I was probably 40 when it occurred to me that my mother made pancakes and sausage for dinner occasionally not as a treat for the kids, but because she needed a little mothering herself!)

What says comfort food to you, dear readers? Include your email address in your comment for a chance to win a terrific Mystery Lovers' Kitchen tote bag! (US and Canada addresses only, please.)



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Daryl: I've made it very clear, Leslie, in post after post that grilled cheese and mac and cheese say comfort to me.  I love adding all sorts of goodies to both. To grilled cheese? Avocado, bacon, shrimp. To mac and cheese, bacon. When is bacon not a comfort food?  I adore meatloaf packed with herbs and onions. This simply reminds me of my mother. She made a dynamite meatloaf, and her recipe (tweaked) is still what I use. My husband loved my meatloaf. And last but not least, ice cream! Any time of the day and night. I don't care how cold it is outside. I love ice cream. Which is probably why I like to make it. I love the sound of the churn. I love the aroma of vanilla and whatever else I add to the ice cream. And I like the way ice cream "chills" my stomach. It's like a
natural "anti-inflammatory."  LOL  Ah, comfort food. Do we need autumn and winter to enjoy it? Nope. Year-round comfort food is definitely a necessity.


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Sheila: When I started thinking about my go-to comfort foods, I realized I had a few semi-scientific pieces of evidence. I've been collecting recipes and cookbooks for a long time, and the first clue is to look at my well-used cookbooks and find the pages with the most grease stains. My first copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking has quite a few pages like that, mainly for beef and chicken dishes. (I could use the same test on the cookbooks I inherited from my mother: the recipe for chocolate sauce in her 1948 edition of Fanny Farmer's Boston Cooking School Cook Book may lead the pack.)

But a more important clue is how often I've made a particular dish over the years, no matter what the source. For that one, I think Apple Goody stands out. It's a recipe that comes from the mother of one of my long-ago roommates, back in the 1970s. I knew her mother for years, and I still get together regularly with my friend. The recipe is simple: apples, cinnamon, flour, sugar (brown and white) and butter. Bake and enjoy. I can't begin to count the number of times I've made that, both for guests or to take to a pot-luck, or just to eat myself. I even included it in one of my Orchard Mysteries.

So while the collected works of Julia Child are dear to my heart, Apple Goody is the all-time winner.


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Linda:  When I think of something comforting, I think of my Mom. I may have mentioned that she wasn't a great cook but what she made was all we needed, or thought we needed, at the time. So I'd say my comfort food is applesauce. She'd make it from scratch and I can still remember the wonderful aroma that filled the kitchen. She'd team it up with pork chops or baked beans. Often, when I wasn't feeling well, it would be an entire meal in itself. On toast, was also a good choice.
 It makes me think of being tucked up in a soft bed under a warm comforter or sitting on the couch while a storm rages outside. Of course, I'm always eating in these thoughts -- applesauce, it would seem.

I have to admit, I've never made applesauce but obviously, with such good memories attached, I should make the effort real soon. Maybe you can supply me with a tasty recipe, Sheila! 



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Krista: Linda, I remember my mom grating apples as a home remedy when I was a kid. She made applesauce, too, but it's the raw grated apples that I recall because I never could figure out why they were supposed cure anything.

Mac and cheese is a favorite comfort food for me. We never had it growing up. Never!  I don't often make it now, but I do love that creaminess.

Like Daryl, I'm a complete fool for ice cream, but mostly in the summer. As the weather cools, my consumption drops off until the special flavors come around for the holidays. Peppermint anyone?

But I'll go out on a limb here and suggest something that I have been known to whip up very late on cold nights-warm chocolate pudding. Pudding is fine when it's cold, but there's nothing quite as soothing as warm pudding, eaten straight from the pot.  


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Peg: Like Krista, we never had mac and cheese growing up! I don't really remember any comfort foods from my childhood--the association is really with things I make now like shepherd's pie and sauce bolognese and pretty much any kind of soup except tomato (which I don't care for!).  I could eat a whole bowl of mashed potatoes for dinner--that's comfort to me.  And pair them with roast chicken, and I'm in heaven!  

Lucy: I love love macaroni and cheese, but eating salty stuff is a no-no for me right now. On Sundays as a kid, we had cheese toast, baked beans, and potato salad on TV trays in front of whatever program was on--that's comfort food to me. All those carbs! These days, how about a nice peach or cherry cobbler, right out of the oven, with whipped cream?? Or a chicken pot pie?

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Victoria:  I find this whole discussion very comforting.  Food in general offers comfort to me, but there's something special about the smell of fresh bread or biscuits, warm from the oven and served up with butter. I love it when they area bit savory, like these with chives. There should be a pot of tea nearby and someone to chat with, over the warm biscuits.





Cleo: All of your comfort foods sound good to me! I'll add homemade cookies to that list...
Angel Wings (aka) Italian Bow Tie Cookies
For the recipe, click here.




As a little girl, I loved helping my Italian-born Aunt Mary make what she called "Italian Bow Tie" cookies. Some of you may remember them as "Angel Wings" or Chrusciki (the Polish version). In Hungary, they are called Csöröge. In France, Bugnes Lyonnaises. In the Ukraine, Verhuny. In any language, they are delicious and sweet comfort for those of us who remember eating them as children.

May you, too, eat with comfort and joy!






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What says comfort food to you, dear readers? 





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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lime-Cilantro Grilled Chicken #recipe #bookgiveaway from Linda Wiken, author

I've got a real thing about limes! I'll readily admit it. I love the color and tartness so you may have already noticed I readily substitute a lime
for a lemon whenever possible.

This time, I didn't need to pull a switch. This recipe, which I found somewhere on line, some time ago, but I neglected to note just where it was lurking. I've done some tweaking, as usual, and it was a hit both times I've served the dish.

Besides the marinade, there's a lime-cilantro butter that's easy to pull together, and it adds the perfect, final touch. I've made the chicken to go with pasta and veggies, as shown, and also with potato and green salads. These measurements will serve 4, although I did only 3.



What you'll need:

4 chicken breasts, de-boned and skinless
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium lime
1 1/2 tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped

For the lime-cilantro butter:

6 tbsp. softened butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 small lime
3 tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped
Pepper, salt and cayenne to taste



What to do:

Start with the butter. Grate 1/2 tsp. lime zest and use a reamer to get 1 1/2 tsp. juice. Stir the zest and juice into the butter. Peel the shallot, then mince and add to the butter. Stir in the cilantro then season using salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Set aside in refrigerator until ready to use. (This can easily be made the day before.)




On to the chicken! Place 2 tbsp. lime juice in a baking dish then stir in the olive oil and cilantro. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with sea salt and black pepper, the place them in the dish and turn to coat both sides. Cover and let breasts rest at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour.



Heat the BBQ and then grill the chicken breasts approximately 8-10 minutes per side. Remove and let sit, covered for 3 minutes.


Plate and add a large dollop of lime-cilantro butter on top of each breast.  Enjoy!








In just six months, book #3 of the Dinner Club Mysteries, Marinating in Murder, will be released! To celebrate, I'm giving away your choice of a copy of Toasting Up Trouble OR Roux the Day. Just leave a comment along with your email address. A random draw will take place tomorrow at 5 PDT.
U.S. and Canadian entries only, please.



 Coming March, 2018
Marinating in Murder, book #3

ROUX THE DAY, A Dinner Club Mystery is now available in paper and as an e-book. 
Recipes included!



The first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.  
Recipes included!







Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

             
Visit Linda at www.lindakwiken.com
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at www.killercharacters.com
                                                                               


Visit Erika at www.erikachase.com 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase. 




Thursday, August 10, 2017

Peach and Cucumber Salad, something different for summer! #recipe #LindaWiken


I'm in a cottage kind of mood today, thinking back to the fab and fun writers retreat we had last month. We've been doing this for well over a decade and it's a highlight of the summer for us all.

My last recipe on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen was a veggie dish I made the second night there. Fellow MLK and good friend Victoria Abbott and I had that meal covered. My second dish for the evening was this Peach and Cucumber Salad that's quite different from what I'm used to. I cobbled the recipe together from one I found in Bon Appetit.

Take some fresh fruit and add some herbs, spices and lime juice...that's all it takes.  Now, since we were at a cottage, I took the easy way and substituted dried spices instead of using a whole clove and a cardamon pod. I also skipped the toasting of the spices and the pumpkin seed, and it tasted just fine. Maybe next time.  The chopping of the ingredients is what's most time consuming but it really is worth it. We all agreed.

I didn't get as many photos as I wanted  as things became quite hectic. But I think the recipe is fairly self-explanatory.


What you'll need: 


1/4 c. olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
   tsp. clove
   tsp. cardamon seeds
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin
3 tbsp. parsley, chopped
3 tbsp. cilantro, chopped plus extra for garnish
pinch of Himalayan salt (or your choice)
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
3 small cucumbers
3 yellow peaches, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 avocados, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
1/3 c. pumpkin seeds
1 small chili, grated or 1 tsp. crushed chili flakes





What to do: 

1. In a large bowl, mix the chile, parsley, garlic, lime juice and chopped cilantro with the coriander, clove, coriander, and cumin. Add 1/4. c. olive oil and stir. Season with the Himalayan salt.

 

2. Add the diced cucumber and toss then let it all sit for 5 minutes.

3. Finally, add the avocado, peaches and half the pumpkin seeds, tossing carefully to coat.

4. Serve topped with a drizzle of lime juice, sesame and remaining pumpkin seeds, and cilantro leaves for garnish.

And there you have a cool, colorful and cheery salad for any summer meal.




ROUX THE DAY, A Dinner Club Mystery is now available in paper and as an e-book. 
Recipes included!



The first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.  
Recipes included!




 Coming March, 2018
Marinating in Murder, book #3


Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

             
Visit Linda at www.lindakwiken.com
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at www.killercharacters.com
                                                                               


Visit Erika at www.erikachase.com 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase. 



Monday, August 7, 2017

AROUND THE KITCHEN TABLE: CHAOS IN THE KITCHEN #GIVEAWAY


Welcome to Around the Kitchen Table, our monthly chinwag!  We look forward to the conversation with you today (and always).  Be sure to leave a comment today and you may win this terrific Mystery Lovers Kitchen tote bag.  Be lucky and have fun!

VICTORIA ABBOTT aka Mary Jane Maffini: My husband mentioned recently (in the kindest possible way) that when I cook, it's as though there's been an explosion in the kitchen. I would have taken great offense if a) it wasn't true some of the time and b) he didn't always volunteer to do the clean up.  He added, "It's mostly when you bake."




The evidence was clear.

I do my best to be neat, line up the ingredients in the order of use and put each one away when it's been added.  But all it takes it a few extra visiting dogs or hot and cold running relatives or (shudder) CNN blaring in the background and all is lost.  Until the clean-up crew, that is.  Except for the time there was tea on the ceiling.

For some reason, my hubby and my brother are both creative but neat cooks.  Me, not so much.

Of course, we're almost always happy with the results and the kitchen does recover whether I do it or he does.  Still, I dream of a neater future.

So what about you? Or you precise and disciplined? Or more like these exploding stars? Do you pick some dishes because they don't make a mess?  Pull up a chair and share your tips and your foibles. That's what we do around the kitchen table.

Leave  a comment and you may be the winner of TOO HOT TO HANDLE: a Fiona Silk mystery in which there's lots of chaos in the kitchen.  Be very afraid! 



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From DarylMy kitchen is often a mess when I cook.  I do my best to keep it tidy but I simply can't. I stack things
The BEFORE picture!  HA!
up. I set them in the right order. And still I feel crowded. I've got the cutting board here, the mixing bowl there. I recall a lovely disaster at Thanksgiving--our first year in our new house in Los Angeles--and I wasn't comfortable with the oven and stove and the layout. It takes time to do the dance, you know?  Anyway, my stepdaughter wanted to learn to make mashed potatoes. With all 14 of the family hovering in the kitchen!!!  I got distracted. The pot of boiling milk and potatoes boiled over. What a mess! Plus I dropped a tray of stuffing on the floor. My nephew laughed his head off!  Rarely do they see me flustered, but that night - oy!



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Linda here:
 I like to think of myself as being neat, tidy and well-organized. Okay, I like to think a lot of things about myself but a lot of it isn't true--sexy, svelte, super smart...you get the picture. So, this question that Victoria poses is very disturbing. I have to 'fess up and come clean, because it's a sure thing my kitchen counters won't be after a cooking session. And don't get me started on baking because that's when the flour settles like that fine coating of dust when drywall is being erected. I actually start out on the right track. I try to pre-measure or slice and dice everything possible so those dishes can be stacked out of sight in the sink or maybe even washed and dried. It's when the nitty-gritty starts and the clock is ticking that my cleaning karma disappears. I like to believe that my problem is not enough counter space but that's not going to change, so I better change me. Start with all un-essentials cleared away; stick to the allotted space; do only one thing at a time (a biggy for me to change); and, then proceed in an orderly progression through the directions. Easy, right? So what goes wrong?




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From SheilaI'm just back from Ireland, where my kitchen is about the same size as the one I had in my first apartment a very long time ago. A stove (or cooker) and a shiny new stainless steel sink eat up about half the counter space, and a microwave claimed the corner. So I have to think very strategically about what needs to be chopped and ready to go into a dish, and I definitely have to clean up as I work, and put things away (in the teeny-tiny refrigerator). The stovetop has flat electric burners, so I have to be careful about putting anything down on them because you can't tell if they're still hot. And I still haven't figured out how recycling works over there. Yes, there is recycling--that's the good news--but in which categories? And I swear my handyman said something about tossing the biological (food) by-products out into the back yard for the local animals. I'm not sure whether he was kidding. I did make an effort to hang up as many cooking items as possible, but it's still a challenge.



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the compost pile last night after soup-making

LUCY BURDETTE: Hmmm, I bet my hub would disagree on this, as he's usually the clean-up batter--but I try to be neat! But cooking can be a lot of work, right? Especially if you're using a food processor and a chopping board and more than one pan at a time, which is usually the case. And tasting and photographing...good heavens, that's what sous-chefs are for, isn't it MJ?



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PEG COCHRAN:  I find that my mess tends to expand depending on the space available to me. In my first house, the kitchen was small and the counter space limited. But then we moved and I had a much bigger kitchen and more counter space and my mess expanded like my stomach after Thanksgiving dinner. Speaking of Thanksgiving dinner...that one meal creates more mess than anything else I cook all year. Pots, pots, pots absolutely everywhere. Every single serving dish soaking in the sink, every kitchen utensil spread around the counter. It makes me shudder just to think about it!



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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I'm definitely a clean-as-you-go cook. Fortunately, so is Mr. Right, since we often cook together in a small kitchen with one sink. No doubt my tendency toward kitchen tidiness came from my mother, a woman with a strong innate desire for order! Since I've been part of MLK, photographing recipes as I cook, I've returned to her habit of getting out all the ingredients before any chopping or mixing. And with the exception of the lovely farmhouse I lived in for 8 years, remodeling as I went along, I've always had a small kitchen. 

But I will admit one foible that leads to extra dishes: When a salad, a vegetable dish, or a casserole involves a lot of ingredients to be mixed together, I consistently fail to properly estimate the size of bowl needed. I might switch bowls, or pots, twice to get the right one. Happily, we share the dishwashing, too!




CLEO COYLE: We have a New York City kitchen (yep, tiny!) but we love to cook, so Marc and I learned the hard way to clean as we go. Not that a mountain of mess isn't possible on a busy day, it just leaves us with zero counter space and pots and pans piled high as the Empire State building. 


Coffeehouse Mystery #1
Click here to learn more.
Truth is, our situation inspired us to write a similar one for our characters in our first Coffeehouse Mystery, On What Grounds. Our amateur sleuth, Clare, also has a compact New York kitchen. When she attempts to fix a special dinner for her young adult daughter and the girl's new boyfriend, her ex-husband insists on "helping." The result is a little crazy and a little comical. But you have to have a sense of humor when you measure counter space by inches instead of feet. Happy cooking, everyone. May your servings be big and your mess be small! Love, Cleo




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KRISTA DAVIS: I'm so glad that I'm not the only one. But Mary Jane, I truly can't recall anything landing on the ceiling! I have a bad habit of forgetting about rice, which means it boils over. It's not so much that I forget, but I walk away to write and my mind is elsewhere. I now keep a timer on my desk to remind me that I need to check on it.

You never know who might be in the kitchen sink!
I try to be organized but somehow everything spreads. And countless other items land on my kitchen island adding to the clutter. All the vitamins and jars of dog cookies, for instance. Right now there are seven giant yellow squashes taking up a lot of real estate on the counter.

Unless it's something that needs to be rolled out (let's not even mention huge quantities of Christmas cookies—oy!), I'm least messy when baking. I learned a long time ago to put out an old dinner plate, a large spoon and a knife. That gives me a place for the paper that wraps the butter, eggshells, and all kinds of utensils that need to be washed, and keeps me from running around the kitchen for every little thing.

One of my very favorite cakes is Dobostorte. It's seven layers and a labor of love, so I don't bake it often. But those seven layers require a lot of room!


Don't forget to leave  a comment! You may be the winner of TOO HOT TO HANDLE: a Fiona Silk mystery in which there's lots of chaos in the kitchen.  Be very afraid!  
(PS remember to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win.)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lemon Almond Sauteed Greens and other colors! #recipe by Linda Wiken, author



There's nothing I enjoy better than an easy-to-make veggie dish and this is one I'll use many times over. I first tried it out at that same writer's retreat that Victoria Abbott mentioned on Saturday. So, remember her delicious spicy black bean salad and think of it paired with this dish. Of course, there was more on the menu but you'll find out about those another time.

I find lemon seems to go with everything, even more so than my real favorite flavor, lime. So, use it liberally or cut it back a bit if lemon's not your thing. The recipe I found in the newspaper calls for Swiss chard or spinach. I chose the latter because I really enjoy it. But you could use any leafy green vegetable. I also chose to use the shredder for the cabbage but I think next time, I would just slice it into thin strips.

It's easy to prepare ahead of time -- just slice the two veggies and set them aside until needed. The prep time takes longer than it does on the stove.


What you'll need:

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or use the kind in the jar, about 1 tsp. in that case
approx. 8 c.spinach, just cut off the stems
1 c. shredded cabbage
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. sliced or slivered almonds, toasted



What to do:

Heat oil over medium heat, preferably a wok or similar pan. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.

Add the spinach, cabbage, salt and pepper, and lemon zest then saute for approx. 2 minutes or until the greens are wilted.


Stir in 1 tbsp. of water, cover and boil for approx. 2 minutes. Stir a couple of times and remove when veggies are tender then add the lemon juice and saute for another 2 minutes, until most of the water has evaporated.


Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

And here we are, minus the photographer, ready for yet another fun meal together.


I'd like some suggestions of what other greens to substitute. What would you use?



ROUX THE DAY, A Dinner Club Mystery is now available in paper and as an e-book. 
Recipes included!



The first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.  
Recipes included!




 Coming March, 2018
Marinating in Murder, book #3


Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

             
Visit Linda at www.lindakwiken.com
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at www.killercharacters.com
                                                                               


Visit Erika at www.erikachase.com 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase. 










Thursday, July 13, 2017

Grilled Carrots with Cumin-Serrano Yogurt by Author Linda Wiken, @LWiken, Cozy mystery


What I love best about summer -- and the calendar tells me that's the season even if the weather doesn't agree -- is the bounty of local fresh vegetables and, my new barbecue. If you can combine the two, even better.

However, in this case, the title is misleading, I'll admit that right away. The recipe, which I found in  Bon Appetit magazine, calls for grilling but you know, it was pouring rain, so I opted to roast the veggies in the oven -- inside! I also made some other tweeks. The recipe called for spring onions or scallions but I knew one of my guests wasn't too keen on either, so I opted for King Oyster mushrooms, sliced. And then, I threw in some sliced red peppers for fun. The serrano chile was replaced by chilli flakes, because that's what I had in my cupboard. And, no cumin seeds either, so I used cumin powder. It turned out tasty and that's what counts. It also was relatively easy to do -- another big plus in my books.

The directions below are for how I did it. If you want to try it the original way, check out the magazine.

What you'll need:

3 lbs. carrots with tops trimmed to 1/2 inch
1 large red pepper, sliced lengthwise
2 King Oyster mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
4 tbsp. olive oil
salt to taste (I used Himalayan salt for added flavor)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. chopped mint; extra leaves for garnish


What to do:

1.  Preheat oven to 375F. Scrub the carrots and trim the tops.
2.  Place the carrots, red pepper slices, and mushroom slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle 2 tbsp. olive oil over all. Sprinkle with salt. It takes approx. 25-30 minutes to roast once the oven is preheated.
4.  Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine yogurt, chili flakes, cumin, lime juice, chopped mint and 2 tbsp. olive oil.
5.  Spoon the yogurt mixture onto a serving dish and add the veggies. Garnish with mint leaves.

(The nice thing about the yogurt is it can be prepared in advance and kept up to two days in the fridge.)

Easy, right?


ROUX THE DAY, A Dinner Club Mystery is now available in paper and as an e-book. 
Recipes included!



The first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.  
Recipes included!



Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

             
Visit Linda at www.lindakwiken.com
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at www.killercharacters.com
                                                                               


Visit Erika at www.erikachase.com 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase.