Showing posts with label Peg Cochran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peg Cochran. Show all posts

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Honey Garlic Chicken and Veggies in One Pan #Recipe @PegCochran

The latest “craze” seems to be one pan dinners—the pan in this case being sheet pans (aka cookie sheets.)  And what’s not to love?  One pan to clean and a whole dinner pulled from the oven and ready to serve.

I tried this recipe from Damn Delicious although I changed it up a bit since I didn’t have broccoli but I did have a zucchini that needed to be used.  And that’s the beauty of this type of meal—use what you have!  My only recommendation would be to think about timing.  In this case, zucchini is going to cook faster in the oven than the potatoes or chicken so I gave those a head start and added the zucchini later in the baking process.  Still—only one pan and a whole dinner!

I made enough for several meals so I have another dinner in the freezer that only needs to be thawed and heated up!

3 T olive oil, divided
2 T butter, melted
2 T honey
2 T brown sugar
1 T Dijon mustard
3 minced cloves garlic
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb baby red potatoes, halved (or larger ones quartered) or potato of your choice like fingerlings
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
24 oz. broccoli florets (or veggie of your choice)
Chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Prepare sheet pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together 2 T olive oil, butter, honey, brown sugar, mustard, herbs and salt and pepper.

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on pan, drizzle with 1 T olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Add chicken in a single layer and brush with honey /butter mixture.

Bake until chicken reaches 165 degrees—approximately 25 to 30 minutes.  Add vegetable during last 10 minutes (or adjust according to your vegetable.)  If desired, run under the broiler for a few minutes until caramelized. 


Have you read Berried Secrets, book #1 in my Cranberry Cove series?  I am giving away one copy to celebrate the release of the third book in the series, Dead and Berried.  Leave a comment below to be entered! Number four will be coming winter 2018.

Out Now!

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Many people probably don't know that Mother's Day was founded in Philadelphia, by Anna Marie Jarvis. Although Miss Jarvis was born in West Virginia in 1864, she left to work briefly in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then she joined her brother in Philadelphia, where she worked for a reputable life insurance company (and became their first female literary and advertising editor). Her mother joined her there in 1904, but lived only another year.

In 1908, Anna Jarvis held a memorial ceremony in West Virginia to honor her mother, as well as all mothers, and that is counted as the date of the first official observance of Mother's Day.

I wouldn't have known any of this, but I spent several years walking past the sign in Center City Philadelphia.

Ladies, did your mother teach you to cook? Did you cook a meal as a treat for her? Or did you cook side by side in the kitchen?

SHEILA CONNOLLY: I give great credit to my mother for introducing me to fresh vegetables in my childhood (at a time when frozen vegetables were becoming popular). I thought artichokes and asparagus were wonderful things, and you could even eat them with your fingers. I wasn't as enthusiastic about avocados. I was cooking simple meals before my teens, but the first full meal I remember cooking for my mother was Thanksgiving 1967--I'd watched her cook a turkey for plenty of years by then.

LESLIE: Sheila, what a great picture of you and your mother! Mine was not much of a cook. I realize now that my father's schedule played a role -- he was a traveling salesman, gone from Monday morning to Friday afternoon, meaning dinner Friday was always some version of a casserole, what she with her Minnesota upbringing called "hot dish." Ground beef, onions, macaroni, a can of tomato soup -- you get the idea. 

But boy, could she bake. My father once told me "If you want to learn to make cake, watch your Aunt Peggy. But for pie, watch your mother." And he was right. (That's her cookbook and rolling pin, now at home in my kitchen.)

At Christmas, following her German heritage, she baked literally a dozen varieties of cookies, taking gift plates all over town. I just finished writing the 5th Food Lovers' Village Mystery, set at Christmas, and it was great fun to channel her when Erin and her friends hold a cookie exchange. (Mr. Right enjoyed testing a few Christmas cookie recipes in April, too!)

DARYL:  Sheila, my mother learned to cook after college. I remember finding letters from her to her grandmother (still have them) boasting that she'd learned to make meat loaf and green jello with fruit inside. [Her meat loaf was great; the jello...I'll pass!]  After that, however, she became a whiz. She was very bright. She could follow a recipe. She had just never learned to cook as a girl because her mother did it all. I fashioned my character Jenna, in the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, after my mother (as far as that trait was concerned). I'm sharing a photo of my mother and my sister, at Christmas. My mom loved to entertain guests, and Christmas was her favorite time. She set out ham and cheese and crackers and then threw together some terrific appetizers. No one went home disappointed. Did she teach me to cook? A bit. I make a mean spaghetti that is her recipe and a great margarita!  LOL. But honestly I learned to cook when my parents divorced, and Mom went to work, and someone had to get food on the table. I became quite good at steak and mac-n-cheese. I could throw together a salad. And I made chocolate chip cream pies to sell to the neighborhood. Happy mother's day to all. May you love them fully if they are still alive; may you remember them fondly if they have passed on, as mine has. 

MARY JANE aka Victoria Abbott  I love these stories of your mothers and your early cooking. Until I was married, I could only make tuna sandwiches and coffee.  My mother was a gifted cook and I wish I had a picture of her in the kitchen, but then she wouldn't have been wearing one of her glam hats. Here we are on Mothers' Day, a million years ago.

 My mother-in-law and Victoria's other grandmother, a girl from the mountains in the north of Italy, went on to become  brilliant in the kitchen and once cooked a meal for the Queen. 

When they would visit us at the same time, they could get into the kitchen and cook AT each other, competitively.  I would just hide out on the sofa reading (and worrying about shrapnel) and enjoy the results.  Victoria and I channeled her Maffini grandmother (who is still alive at 95) and her auntie into our Signora Panetone character. "Eat! What's the matter? You don't like it.  Many of the recipes from both sides are still family favorites.  Mothers' Day always makes me happy/sad.  I hope you all enjoy the day with the mums who are still with you and the happy memories of the ones who aren't.

LUCY: They cooked a meal for the queen?? Wow, MJ, my mother's cooking wouldn't have made it past the back gate LOL. To be fair, it was the 50's, and Mom worked full time and raised four kids. She loved to eat, and made sure we all got fed, but she didn't love to cook. We were all about cans of vegetables, roasts, and potatoes. And Leslie, the same casserole recipe that your mother used! She had some high points in her repertoire, usually involving a great buffet of little sandwiches, fruit, and cookies. And she went all out for Christmas cookies too.

 My hat's off to all these mothers who raised amazing daughters!

Linda:  I'm sensing a bit of a trend here. I don't think my Mom enjoyed cooking although I never asked her. She just made sure we were fed when we needed to be. Sunday after church it was always a roast with mashed potatoes and canned green peas. Most weeknight meals included the necessary potatoes, veggie, often canned cream corn or for a treat -- niblets, and some meat. Unless there was fish. My Dad loved to fish and growing up on the B.C. coast, there were plenty of salmon in those days to oblige him.

Where Mom really shined was Christmas. She'd bake amazing-smelling Swedish cookies and breads in preparation and then on Christmas Eve, our meal would be potatoes, peas, and a Scandinavian delicacy (depending on who you ask -- don't ask my sister!) called Lutefisk. I remember it all with fondness.

I've grown into cooking over the last few years, much as my character, J.J. Tanner has. Although I think she's better at it!

Here's to all our Mom's be they with us in person or in memory. We cherish them. 

Krista: Like Roberta, I'm very interested in hearing the story about cooking for the Queen!

Food and cooking were a very big deal in my family. I remember my father telling my mother that I would never learn to cook if she didn't start teaching me. My mom was a devoted follower of Julia Child and bought all her cookbooks. I didn't start cooking much, though, until I lived on my own.

Someone once said to me that my house was like the United Nations because celebrations
were full of friends from all over the world. My mom and her friends cooked and baked and took great pride in their dishes. They were truly the original domestic divas.

I am very blessed to still have my mom with me. These days I do the cooking and baking, and she seems pretty happy about that. 

To all the moms who are with us, and those whom we remember with such love, Happy Mother's Day!

Peg:  Such fun hearing these stories about your mothers!  My father was very much a meat and salad sort of person (no potatoes even--I think he invented the low carb diet)  but he did love the dishes my mother made that came from her mother--goulash, chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage (my grandmother was Hungarian.) Dessert was something we only had on special occasions so she didn't do much baking.  



If you have a favorite memory of your mother
we'd love to hear it!

Leave us a comment and we'll choose a winner
(by random number generator)
of two Mystery Lovers' Kitchen recipe packets--
one for you and one for your mother
(or to give as a gift in her memory).

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Slow Cooker Parmesan Potatoes #Recipe @PegCochran & #Giveaway

I made this recipe for our Easter dinner and it was a big hit.  It comes from Damn Delicious, and I followed it pretty much as is.  I couldn't find baby Dutch potatoes but I did find some adorable Blushing Belle red potatoes that fit the bill.  You can use dried herbs in this although next time I think I would try fresh.  

The best part about this was that it freed up the oven for the ham which was the centerpiece of the dinner.  You could throw these in the slow cooker on a weekday, too, and have a side dish all ready for dinner.  I cut the recipe in half to suit the size of our gathering and it worked out fine.  The recipe below is for the full amount.

3 pounds baby Dutch yellow potatoes, halved or any small potato cut into halves or quarters if bigger
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional for garnish)



Coat the inside of your slow cooker with some non-stick spray or coat lightly with some olive oil.
Add the potatoes, olive oil, butter, garlic and herbs along with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and cook on low for four to five hours or on high for two to three hours until potatoes are tender.
Toss with Parmesan and fresh parsley before serving.

Dead and Berried - Out Now! 
And I'm giving away a copy to one person
who comments below!

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Mrs. Smith's Orange Cake #Recipe @PegCochran

This cake is known in the family as "Mrs. Smith's Orange Cake--Fletcher's Favorite."  Fletcher is my husband and this recipe comes from his high school girlfriend's grandmother!  So it's been around a loooong time!

I made this for Easter, and it's light and lovely with a hint of orange.  Next time I think I would add some orange zest to the batter for a stronger orange flavor.  But we enjoyed it as is!


5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp. baking powder

Separate eggs and beat yolks until lemon colored.  Add the sugar a little at a time.

Mix and sift baking powder, flour and salt.

Add flour mixture and orange juice to batter, alternating between them.

Beat egg whites until they hold soft peaks and fold into the batter.

Pour batter into an *ungreased* angel food pan (a tube pan.)

Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. 

Invert and cool completely.


Mix together:
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar
Add enough orange juice until spreading consistency (about 1/2 cup)


I am giving away TWO copies of Dead and Berried, 
#3 in my Cranberry Cove Series.  
It will be out on May 2nd!
Leave a comment below to be entered to win!

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

POULET A L'ORANGE #Recipe @PegCochran #Easterweek

Doesn't that sound fancy?  The original recipe came from AllRecipes and it's actually called Chicken with Orange Sauce  but I thought the French version had a nice ring to it.

This is an easy dish that you can make for a weeknight meal or if you want to do something different for Easter, this would be lovely with the fresh orange flavor.  And if you call it Poulet a l'orange, your guests will be doubly impressed!


4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or 4 - 6 chicken thighs depending on size (bone in or out, it doesn't matter)
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided (I used the Splenda version)
2 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Place chicken in baking dish (I used a square Pyrex dish)  Spread mustard over the chicken and sprinkle with the chopped onion.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup brown sugar over the chicken to coat lightly.  Add enough orange juice to cover chicken.  Dot with butter on top.

Bake 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and pour sauce into a saucepan.

Sprinkle chicken with remaining brown sugar and return to oven.

Whisk flour into the sauce in the pan, adding any leftover orange juice.  Cook over high heat until the sauce thickens.

Remove chicken from oven when sauce is done and serve with sauce.


    It's June in Cranberry Cove and Monica Albertson's plan to sell cranberry relish to chain stores is taking off. The cranberry bogs are in bloom, and local beekeeper Rick Taylor and his assistant Lori Wenk are bringing in bees to pollinate the blossoms.  When a fatal prick fells Lori, the buzz is that Rick is to blame.

    In trying to clear her friend’s name, Monica discovers that more than a few people in Cranberry Cove have felt the power of Lori’s venom, and it looks as if this time she may have agitated the hive a bit too much.  With the fate of the farm on the line, Monica must get to the bottom of the crime before another victim gets stung.


    Barnes & Noble

    Monday, April 3, 2017

    Around the kitchen table with the authors at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen

    LINDA: We're back at the kitchen table and you know, we're having a lot of fun doing this monthly joint blog. From your responses, it seems that most of you are enjoying it also. We certainly hope that's the case.Today, our topic is one that is especially dear to my heart, what do you cook when you don't feel like cooking?

    If I'm in that no-cooking frame of mind and ravenous, I opt for cheese (I usually have several varieties on hand at any given time), bread or crackers, and some wine. Ideal, tasty, easy and fast. But if I can hold off several minutes, I'll do a grilled cheese sandwich using my panini maker. As I mentioned, I always have some cheese on hand and these days, following a tip from fellow MLK Mary Jane Maffini, I slice a green apple to add to the grilled cheese. It adds a satisfying crispness and acidity to this old standby.

    I will admit that it's easier to opt not to cook for those who don't have to worry about any other mouths to feed. I sometimes take it one step further, and like Lynn Johnston, the creator of that wonderful cartoon strip For Better or Worse, admits to doing now that she's on her own -- I eat, standing up at the kitchen counter. How freeing is that. And healthy, too, the standing up part.
    The key phrase is: no cooking, no clean-up. Now, that's easy.

    LESLIE: You mean, besides order pizza? Back when when one of the local restaurants had a take-out fridge, I picked up ribs for Mr. Right and crab cakes for me one evening, and mentioned to the chef-owner that I just didn't feel like cooking. He replied that he never felt that way -- which clearly means he had the right job!

    On those nights, our go-to is usually spaghetti and meatballs. A couple of times a year, Mr. Right makes a good-sized batch of meatballs, using ground sirloin, Parmesan, Panko breadcrumbs, and red pepper flakes. He wraps them in plastic, 4-6 in a package, and tosses them all in a Zip-loc in the freezer. Heat the meatballs in the microwave, boil up some pasta, open a jar of marinara sauce and a bottle of red wine, and voila -- dinner!

    But I do miss Chef Neil's crab cakes!

    LUCY: Oh how I love grilled cheese--I've started adding sliced avocados, and the last time I made this, used both Swiss cheese and some fresh mozzarella. I make these in a frying pan with a little butter and olive oil--delicious! And we love crab cakes too, Leslie! And are fortunate to have a wonderful fish market in Key West that makes them to die for.

    But if it's summertime, and the tomatoes are in season, my go-to no-cook recipe is chunks of tomatoes marinated with fresh mozzarella chunks, strips of fresh basil, red pepper flakes, and good olive oil. When it's time for dinner, cook the best pasta (I order from Eataly), sprinkle with parmesan, and dump on the tomatoes. Heaven, and so easy! (If you aren't worried about sodium, a few kalamata olives are a good addition too.)

    SHEILA: My husband takes the easy way out: he makes Breakfast for Dinner, which is bacon, scrambled eggs, and toast or English muffins. My grandmother, who never learned to cook, settled for cereal and ice cream for supper (a real treat when my sister and I were kids!). Me, I have the most ridiculously well-stocked pantry I've ever seen, but there are days when I can't figure out what I want (well, maybe a French chef to drop in and throw together something, and of course clean up afterwards).

    I'm fond of marinades and rubs, and things like fish which cook quickly, or spatchcocked chicken that I can just stick on a pan and bake for a while. But the most recent go-to meal is pasta. These days our market is carrying nice fresh ravioli and tortellini, which are easy (boil water, add pasta, drain--then fancy it up with whatever you have on hand) and taste really good.

    LESLIE: Is there anyone who doesn't occasionally love breakfast for dinner? I was probably forty before I realized that when my mother made it for us as kids, it was usually because she felt a little in need of comforting herself!


    The old jokes goes like this:  'Question What's the best things she makes for dinner?  Answer: Reservations. Sometimes, that's fun, but more often I don't feel going out any more than I feel like cooking. That 'don't feel like cooking thing' comes on quickly.  My favorite rescue is a quick saute with garlic, parsley, lemon and raw peeled shrimp.  From freezer to ta table takes just a few minutes. This is so easy and it feels special.

    But if it's confession time and it's just us friends here, then I'll admit that sometimes I heat up a can of mushroom soup and hide the evidence.  I may also be wearing pyjamas.  Shhh.


    Lucy, I can never thank you enough for introducing me to Eataly. Whenever I go to NY, I have to stop in!  It's such a phenomenal store!  Linda, I, too, always have cheese around and gluten-free bread in the freezer. I love my panini grill!!! So that's definitely a good easy choice. I love cheese and wine and some sliced veggies or fruit as a meal. Simple. Slice it. Set the goodies on a napkin. Wash the knife. Done.  I'm all for taking whatever is in the fridge and making a smorgasbord, too.  Hardboiled egg, some lettuce with a drizzle of dressing, slices of cheese, and hopefully I have an avocado. When in doubt and out of everything in the refrigerator, scrambled eggs!  This [see picture] is a pretty pathetic looking empty refrigerator, isn't it? Guess what I ate last night?  LOL  FYI, I don't like to eat standing up. I still like a meal where I sit and listen to the news or go outside and listen to the birds or read a book. It depends on my mood.

    I confess that I'm a sandwich girl when I'm being lazy. Ham, or tuna, or peanut butter and jam are what I reach for when I want a quick and easy dinner. I have been known to make omelets or German pancakes, so I guess I do breakfast for dinner sometimes, too. Not very chic, but true.

    CLEO: Marc and I are sandwich fans, too, Krista. We like to do Italian cold cuts with fresh lettuce, tomato, and banana peppers piled on crusty rolls. Or we'll put slices of salami on a plate with fresh mozzarella and drizzle it all with olive oil. Hot dogs are another quickie meal for us, and we have fun tarting them up with chopped onions and relish, or a bit of leftover chili or taco meat. Marc's Danger Dogs, on the stove or on the grill, are always guilty pleasures. Fast Tex-Mex is a quesadilla with whatever cheese is on hand with salsa and sour cream. And there's always good old peanut butter with honey, jam, or bananas for a no-fuss, no cook meal. Fun post and great ideas all!

    I'm getting some great ideas from you guys! Sheila, spatchcocking a chicken and baking it is not "not cooking."  Just an FYI.  If I'm going to "sort of" cook I'll do pasta with clam sauce.  Saute garlic in olive oil, throw in two cans of chopped clams, heat and eat. If you want to get real fancy, add some chopped parsley.  But "not cooking" does not include washing and chopping parsley in my opinion.  I can't do pasta sauce in a jar--just can't. Unless it's Rao's but if I'm buying that I might as well buy a steak!  The price!  If I'm really not cooking and there aren't any leftovers in the freezer, I'll make us BLTs. 

    How about you? 

    What do you cook when you don't feel like cooking?

    Let us know in the comments below...