Showing posts with label Popcorn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Popcorn. Show all posts

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Welcome to Our Guest Kristi Abbott! & #Giveaway!!

I have been cooking with booze for a long time. I learned it at my mother’s knee. There was a time when her special dish was something called Bourbon Beef, which she served with Whiskey Rice. Even her brisket recipe calls for quite a bit of red wine. When I was in college she would send me care packages. She would make brownies, cut them up, put them in a coffee can, douse them with bourbon (she’s a good Kentucky girl), and ship them off. She said it was to keep the brownies moist in the mail. All I knew was eating the brownies at the bottom of the can was like doing a shot. Plus they were delicious.

When I started developing recipes for Kernel of Truth, it seemed natural to me to add alcohol. After reading a lot of popcorn ball recipes, I realized that it would be pretty easy to substitute the vanilla for something more interesting. I experimented with different liqueurs, finally settling on Kahlua. It just goes so well with chocolate and I think it’s enhanced by the salty bite of the popcorn.

The chocolate glaze is also my mother’s. My dad’s favorite cake was her yellow Bundt cake with the chocolate glaze. We would mock argue over who got to eat the chocolate that pooled in the center of the cake.

Here are the ingredients you need to assemble.

To make the popcorn balls, you’ve got to start with popcorn. Here’s my tried and true method.

Pour 1/4 cup oil into your pot. I personally like my Dutch oven. It’s got a nice thick bottom so it can take some heat and the lid fits well. You can experiment with the oil, too. If I’m just snacking on the popcorn, I like the flavor olive oil gives to the popcorn. For something like this, I often use coconut oil because it seems a little more neutral. Put in two or three popcorn kernels. Cover the pot and turn the heat on high.

When those kernels pop, you know your oil is hot enough. Put in 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels and throw in some salt. I use Kosher salt, but I think sea salt works well, too.

Once the corn is popped, turn it out into a bowl and set aside. This makes approximately 8 cups of popcorn. Now it’s time to soften the marshmallow crème. I put it in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for thirty seconds or so on 50% power. Be careful. Use a bigger bowl than you think you’ll need. That stuff puffs up like crazy! Once it’s pourable, stir in the Kahlua then pour over the popcorn. Mix thoroughly, then grease up your hands and form the popcorn into balls. I don’t have any pictures of this part because my hands were greasy and covered with marshmallow goo! Sorry! But here’s what the balls look like. I like to make little bite-sized ones rather than huge ones. It’s daintier and Lord knows we want to be dainty when we’re eating our booze-filled snack food!

Now it’s time to make the chocolate glaze. Combine the cocoa, butter, and powdered sugar in a pot over a medium heat. Stir the milk in slowly. Word of warning here. This glaze is particularly sensitive to all kinds of things and I’ve found it needs different amounts of milk on different days. Humiidity seems to be a big factor. You want it to be thin enough to pour, but thick enough to really coat a spoon. It’s delicious even if it’s drippy, but if you want it to harden into a nice glaze, you have to watch the milk.

All that’s left is to dip the popcorn balls into the glaze and then set them aside to harden.

Chocolate Kahlua Popcorn Balls

3.5 ounces of marshmallow crème
Kahlua (or vanilla if you prefer or really any kind of liquer)
4 c. popcorn

Heat the marshmallow crème in the microwave. I recommend using 50% power for 30 seconds. Keep going with 30 second increments until it’s easy to stir. Stir in the Kahlua. Fold in popcorn. Grease your hands and form into balls. Allow the balls to sit on wax or parchment paper while you make the chocolate glaze.

Chocolate glaze:

3 T. cocoa
2 T. butter
1 c. powdered sugar
3 T. milk

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Whisk together over a low heat until combined. Don’t let this glaze sit. It hardens relatively quickly. You can reconstitute it by adding a little milk and heating again, but it won’t be quite the same.

Dip the popcorn balls in the glaze. Let sit until the glaze hardens. 

Opening a gourmet popcorn shop was never on Rebecca Anderson’s bucket list. But after a failed marriage to a celebrity chef, she’s ready for her life to open up and expand. She has returned to her hometown of Grand Lake, Ohio, with her popcorn-loving poodle Sprocket to start a new business—naturally called POPS. As a delicious bonus, Cordelia “Coco” Bittles, a close family friend who has always been like a grandmother to Rebecca, owns the chocolate shop next door, and the two are thinking of combining their businesses.

But when Coco’s niece, Alice, discovers her on the floor of her chocolate shop, those dreams go up in smoke. The local sheriff thinks Coco was the victim of a robbery gone wrong, but Rebecca isn’t so sure. As suspects start popping up all over, Rebecca is determined to turn up the heat and bring the killer to justice in a jiffy!

Kernel of Truth is Kristi's first book with Berkley Prime Crime. She has been obsessed with popcorn since first tasting the caramel cashew popcorn at Garrett's in Chicago. If you've never had it, you might want to hop on a plane and go now. Seriously, it's that good.


Kristi is giving away a copy of A Kernel of Truth to one lucky person who leaves a comment!

Kristi lives in northern California, although she was born in Ohio like the heroine of Kernel of Truth. She loves snack food, crocheting, her kids, and her man, not necessarily in that order.

Kristi also writes as both Eileen Rendahl and Eileen Carr.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jewel Bay Critter Crunch #recipe

By Leslie Budewitz

My friend B.J. Daniels, an award-winning author of romantic suspense set in Montana—LONE RIDER, her 75th published novel, will be out August 1—tells the story of writing a scene where her character ate a piece of an oatmeal cake that’s a favorite in B.J.’s house, then reaching for the plate and fork to take another bite, only to realize that the cake only existed on the page. (I imagine she went home and baked one.) Another day, she wrote a scene set in a blizzard and reached for her coat, only to remember that it in real-life, it was mid-summer.

Of course, we write our books in one season, edit in another, and may review the publisher’s copy-edits and galley pages in yet another. That’s definitely part of my challenge in BUTTER OFF DEAD, the third book in my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries (out July 7). Like all the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, it involves a festival—this go-round, it’s the Food Lovers’ Film Festival. February is the perfect time for a film festival in a mountain village. There’s not a lot going on—no ski area, so most of the tourists are at home, and even many locals have decamped for warmer climes. I started the book in January, making the weather research easy, but did the edits in the fall—and we’re about to celebrate its release in the heart of summer!

And certain foods go with certain seasons, right? I was out to lunch with my brother recently and he ordered clam chowder and pumpkin pie. (Don’t worry about the calories or cholesterol—he’s tall, slender, and bikes and hikes regularly.) But it seemed odd to eat pumpkin pie in June. Same with popcorn: For me, it’s a winter snack. That may my own peculiar food quirk—heaven knows, I’ve got ’em. And of course, all the popcorn seasoning blends Erin and Tracy invent had to be tested. Not sure I’d want to do that in July!

But add a little chocolate, a little caramel, and nuts, and by golly, you’ve got popcorn that’s tasty all year.


Jewel Bay Critter Crunch

8 cups plain, popped popcorn (If you’re using an air popper, this is about 1 cup of raw kernels.)
½ cup raw, unsalted peanuts
½ cup raw, unsalted almonds
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light (clear) corn syrup
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray or grease a baking sheet.

Pop the popcorn. Pluck out all the old maids (the unpopped kernels) and skins and pour popcorn into a bowl.

Add nuts and stir to mix.

To make caramel, combine butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir until mixture boils. Continue cooking at a low boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda.

Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and stir to coat. Spread onto greased cookie sheet, and bake for 10–15 minutes (10 for chewy, 15 for crunchy). Remove from oven and add the chocolate chips. Stir slightly, until the chocolate begins to melt.

Cool and eat.

Makes about 8 cups.

From the cover of BUTTER OFF DEAD (out July 7):
"As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local mover and shaker …

In an attempt to woo tourists to Jewel Bay and cheer up the townies, Erin Murphy, manager of the specialty local foods market known as the Merc, is organizing the First Annual Food Lovers’ Film Festival, popping with classic foodie flicks and local twists on favorite movie treats. But when her partner in planning, painter Christine Vandeberg, is found dead only days before the curtain rises, Erin suspects someone is attempting to stop the films from rolling.

To make matters worse, Nick—Erin’s brother and Christine’s beau—has top billing on the suspect list. Convinced her brother is innocent and determined that the show must go on, Erin must find who’s really to blame before Nick gets arrested or the festival gets shut down. And as the anniversary of Erin’s father’s death in a still-unsolved hit-and-run approaches, her own beau isn’t so keen on her leading role.

But the closer Erin gets to shining a spotlight on the killer, the more likely it becomes that she’ll be the next person cut from the program…"

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Peppermint White Chocolate Popcorn AKA the Easiest Holiday Treat Ever!

We at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen are delighted to welcome guest Paige Shelton, who gives us a wonderful (and easy!) holiday treat!

Necessity being the mother of invention and all, this quick and easy treat was first whipped up one late afternoon after my husband mentioned that he’d offered to take something to a holiday party we were to attend about one hour later. Dropping by the grocery store on the way was an option, but I thought I’d give the pantry a quick look. The popcorn box fell as I opened the door, so I took it as a sign. Well, two signs – however, I ignored the “pantry needs cleaning out” sign.

I picked up the box, started rummaging around some more and gathered the peppermint extract. Then I got lucky and found two bars of white chocolate (I think holiday elves must have put them there to help me out – it is rare and unusual that I would have such a thing hanging around), and got to work.

The best popcorn for this recipe is the Homestyle variety, which means it has only a smattering of butter. No Movie Theater here. You can also pop it yourself in a popper or saucepan on the stove and leave out the butter, but I was in way too much of a hurry the first time I made it - microwaved had to do and it worked well. 

Pop two bags and dump the popcorn into a bowl. I add another ¼ or so teaspoon of salt because that salty/sweet combination is one of my favorites, and I really like to notice the salty part.

Melt the white chocolate in a bowl in the microwave per the melting instructions and then mix ½ teaspoon of peppermint extract into the melted goodness. Pour over the popcorn. It’s pretty important to try to pour evenly – don’t just dump it in and then toss. Try to stir the popcorn while pouring and then do some extra tossing. And, when you’re stirring and tossing, keep the utensils close to the bowl sides and bottom when you first go in – fewer broken pieces that way.

When I made it for the party, I just poured it into a bowl after coating it and took along. Even though the white chocolate hadn’t had time to solidify all the way it wasn’t gooey, and the popcorn was gobbled up quickly. Other times I’ve made it, I’ve spread it out on a baking sheet and let the coating harden up before serving it.  Additionally, I’ve tried adding little pieces of peppermint candy, but I like it better without the candy. It keeps the texture consistent.
See, easiest ever, huh?

Thanks to Mystery Lovers Kitchen for letting me drop by today. Hope everyone has a delicious and happy and safe holiday season.

Paige Shelton is the author of two mystery series. Her latest book and the fifth in her Farmers’ Market series MERRY MARKET MURDER is now available at bookstores and online everywhere. For more information on Paige or her books, visit

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March Madness Popcorn Treat

It's Final Four time and plenty of readers are going through March Madness. Woo-hoo! You (or someone you love) have watched dozens of basketball games. You are hungry for more. And if you are planning to watch basketball this weekend, you need appetizers.

[Cue: Roar from crowd!!!]

Easy-peasy is my attitude when it comes to appetizers for a sports-hungry group. Do the least amount possible. Chips and dip, cut-up veggies (for those who are health conscious), a cheese platter, and...


Parmesan dusted popcorn.

[Cue: More cheers!]

I adore popcorn, at the movies, as a snack at home, and nowadays, it's so easy to make with Orville Redenbacher's (and other popular brands) and a microwave.  [Tip: Listen for when the popcorn slows down. That's the time to take out the bag so the popcorn doesn't overcook.]



Your favorite popcorn, four cups (popped)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Mix the cheese and spices. Sprinkle over popcorn when it's warm. Toss with tongs. Serve.

How easy is that!!!!

Other appetizers to consider:

Cleo's Chicken Wings
Riley Adams' Bacon and Tomato Dip
Avery's Caprese Salad on a Stick


Every few weeks, I'd like to give you a snippet of why I'm a paid author and not an employed chef, so I'm going to post a couple of lines from my current book. I hope you enjoy.


“I thought I’d seen a ghost,” Matthew said.
“It wasn’t Chip.” I popped off the lid of another Tupperware box of decorations we’d lugged from The Cheese Shop. “Chip lives in France, not Providence.”
“He was blonde, broad-shouldered, and fast.”
“So are you.”
“I’m telling you, the guy could run. What if it was him?”
I blew a stray hair off my face. “My ex-fiancée is not loping through the Winter Wonderland faire in the middle of February. Last I heard, he hated winter.” And hated me, but that was water over the falls.
“I worry that he’ll hurt—”
“It wasn’t him. We have tourists. Lots and lots of tourists. One looked like him, that’s all.” A fog of breath wisped out of my mouth. I buttoned my pearl-colored sweater and tightened the gold filigree scarf around my neck to ward off the morning chill. Wearing corduroys, a turtleneck, and extra socks beneath my boots weren’t doing the trick.
Every year, in celebration of Providence’s Founder’s Day, the Village Green transformed itself into a Winter Wonderland faire. Farmers, vintners, and crafters from all over Holmes County and beyond joined in the weekend fun that would officially start on Friday evening. It was a tourist draw in a season when tourists should have been scarce. Overnight, small white tents with picture windows, peaked roofs, swinging doors, and fake green grass floors appeared. Twinkling white lights outlined each tent.
I stood in the middle of ours and removed glittery wedge-shaped ornaments from the decoration box. “Let’s change the subject.”
“Okay, Miss Touchy.” A grin inched up the right side of my cousin’s handsome face. He could be such a joker. He plucked another taste of what I called ambrosia—he’d already eaten three—from a small platter of cheeses that I’d brought to sample while we worked. “Hungry?” He waved it under my nose. “Mm-mmm. This is a delicious cheese. What is it?”
“Zamorano. A sheep’s cheese from Zamora, Spain. Sort of like Manchego. The milk comes from Churra sheep.” I’d eaten my fair share as an early morning snack.
“It’s nutty and sort of buttery.”
“Your new favorite,” I teased.
                “How’d you guess?” He slipped the cheese into his mouth and hummed his appreciation. 

* * * * *

You can learn more about me, Avery, by clicking this link.
Chat with me on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you haven't done so, sign up for my mailing list
 so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests!


"Like" Daryl's page on Facebook and "follow" Daryl on Twitter.
She doesn't say all the same things I do.
And pretty soon she'll have some fun news to share!

You'll hear that first in Avery's newsletter!

Say cheese!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


 Happy Halloween!

As much as I love costumes, trick-or-treating, jack-o-lanterns, and the like, my favorite part of Halloween is ... scary movies!  Cable networks have been running marathons of horror and suspense movies, and I'm in heaven.

As far as I'm concerned, there's no better way to celebrate the holiday than by hosting your very own spookfest.  It doesn't have to be fancy: pick out a few good flicks, pop some corn, and snuggle in with a blanket (so you can hide your eyes if things get a little too, uh, tense).

But if you want to add some fun touches, the zombie food (popcorn coated in cinnamon candy) is a ghoulishly addictive treat.  You can also make blood-bath sodas (buy rubber fingers, eyeballs, or sharks, fill with 1 1/2 oz. of red flavored syrup--raspberry, cherry, pomegranate, etc.--and serve along with a tall glass of club soda ... letting your guests pour their own "blood" into the glass).  Or turn a simple bowl of punch into a devilish delight by making a floating hand:  fill a latex or vinyl glove (not coated with powder!!) with green, red, or orange juice, tie a knot at the wrist, freeze solid, and then cut the glove off your zombie hand.  Float it gently in the bowl of punch, and watch your guests shiver with delicious dread.

What to watch?

You could do a 70s-era classic scarefest with The Exorcist, The Shining, The Omen, Rosemary's Baby, and Carrie.

Or go for more modern thrills with The Descent, Insidious, Orphan, 28 Days Later, and Splice.

How about foreign frights?  Let the Right One In (Sweden), The Ring (Japan), and Tale of Two Sisters (Korea).

Like your scary with a side of laughs?  Shaun of the Dead, Slither, and Drag Me to Hell are all worth a watch

What would you recommend?  Offer up your favorite scary movie in the comments section, and you're entered to win today's prize!


Zombie Food
(Cinnamon Candy Popcorn)

1 9-oz bag cinnamon candies
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 c. butter (two sticks), cut in cubes
8 quarts popped popcorn

Make sure you pull all the old maids from the popcorn, as they will break your teeth.  Preheat oven to 250.  Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a saucepan, combine the candy, corn syrup, and butter.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour candy syrup over popcorn and toss to coat.

Spread the candy-coated popcorn on cookie sheets.  Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and dump popcorn onto clean parchment or wax paper.  Allow the corn to cool, break apart, and serve (in a monster head, if at all possible).


Contest Time!

Leave a comment with your favorite scary movie, and you're entered to win this Thanksgiving hostess gift:  two autumnal dishtowels; a festive falling leaves apron; a candle scented with orange, clove, and cinnamon; a leaf plate; a maple leaf cookie cutter; and a lovely chocolate fabric box.  Just add a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine, and you are set to go!


Wendy (aka Annie Knox) is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Step Away from the Microwave!

Just a quick, fun post today!

I sure hope my family is eating healthy while I'm out of town. I know that whenever I'm gone, they feast on all those snacky foods that aren't good for them. My kids are all adults now, and know better (and my husband has been an adult for even longer) but that doesn't mean they always make the best food choices.

Truth be told, neither do I.

But, let's talk about one of America's favorite snacks: Popcorn. It sells by the bucketful at movie theaters and people make it at home every day.

We love popcorn here. Tasty, full of fiber, perfect watching TV food, right?

Here's a question for you. Do you use microwave popcorn or do you make your own?

If you're like most people, you rely on microwave popcorn to satisfy that salty, buttery craving. For years people didn't think twice about popping a bag in, zapping it, and enjoying a bowl within minutes. Well... now we're hearing claims that microwave popcorn chemicals may be hazardous to our health. (What *isn't* nowadays?)

I can't say whether those claims are true or bogus. But I can tell you that homemade popcorn isn't just superior... it's *FAR* superior to any microwave popcorn I've ever tried.

Best of all, it's inexpensive, and easy.

Here's what you need:

Popcorn oil
Popcorn salt

It helps to have an old aluminum pot. The more beat up, the better. And if you can get one like this that has a lid that clamps down, all the better. I took this one from my mom when I first got married. She didn't mind. I'd always been the one who popped popcorn at home and my mom had always nagged me to remember to wash it when I was done. I never remembered to do so. And now my kids don't remember to wash it, either. What goes around...

Anyway, although you can buy a fancy one at Williams-Sonoma I've seen pots like these at estate sales and antique stores for less than a couple of dollars. I like to keep mine for popcorn only. I think it keeps the taste pure.

Let me add one small tidbit: My sincere thanks to TV Time popcorn for inspiring me. I used to buy their brand all the time. Best popcorn ever. But when microwave versions took over, TV Time disappeared. Now I use their "recipe" to make my own.

Here goes:

Add enough popcorn oil to cover the bottom of your pot. Add about a teaspoon of popcorn salt at this time. Yes, before you pop. You'll know after your first batch whether you need to use more or less in future batches. These days I just eyeball it.

Add about a handful of popcorn. It should almost, but not quite, cover the bottom of the pan.

Turn heat to high, cover pot, and wait. When the first kernal pops, turn the heat off but leave the pot there. Wait one minute.

Turn heat back on to high. When you next hear a kernal pop, lift pot off the burner and begin to move it around, shaking it thoroughly to keep kernels at the bottom. Keep the pan somewhat near the burner. If you lift too high you won't get enough heat.

When the popping slows, but before it stops, remove from heat (place it on another, cool, burner) and when popping stops, remove lid. Pour into bowl and you're good to go.

You don't want to overpop (burn) the popcorn, so that's why you remove it from the heat before it finishes.

That's it. Easy, good for you, and much, much better tasting than the microwave stuff.

Happy Popping!


Friday, October 30, 2009

Cleo Coyle Talks with a Real Ghost Whisperer (and shares a Halloween recipe for Kettle Corn)

HAMLET - Act 1. Scene V.
Ghost: Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing/
To what I shall unfold.
Hamlet: Speak; I am bound to hear.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know me as the author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries. As it happens, I also write a 2nd mystery series called the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries in which a prim, New England widow named Penelope McClure solves murders with the help of a dead private detective who was gunned down in her bookshop sixty years before. (To learn more about my Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, just click here or on the book cover.)

Because of the popularity of my ghost series, Random House recently approached me to blurb a debut novel co-written by the real ghost whisperer, Mary Ann Winkowski. Needless to say, I was honored to be asked.

Mary Ann is an amazing woman. She served as the inspiration for the creation of The Ghost Whisperer television show starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Mary Ann still serves as a consultant for the show. (It's an excellent show, by the way. If you've never caught it, you're in luck: It's on tonight -- and every Friday night at 8 PM on CBS.)

So who is Mary Ann Winkowski?
To virtually meet her now, hit the play arrow
in the video below and remember...

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy…”

If you would like to meet Mary Ann in person,
drop by her Web site and check out her book signing schedule
for November by...

Mary Ann's new novel (just released by Random House) is titled The Book of Illumination: A Novel fom the Ghost Files, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it; to wit...

"An authentic ghost whisperer reveals the workings of her mind and heart in this absorbing novel that sheds light on earthbound spirits in need of guidance home. An illuminating tale."

~ Cleo Coyle

Click here or on the
book cover to learn more...

I was also very happy when Mary Ann agreed to answer a few of my questions about her work and her new book...

CLEO: In your novel, The Book of Illumination, your main character Anza O’Malley, can see and speak with the dead. Her grandmother also had this psychic gift and helped Anza develop it when she was still a young child. Anza, of course, is based on you and your own experiences. When did you first discover your gift? Like your fictional character, Anza, did your own grandmother also help you develop it?
MARY ANN: I think the best answer to this question is that when I was seven I discovered that not everybody could do what I could. Believe me it was an eye opener. My grandmother had been taking me to funerals of friends and relatives from the time that I was four, so I just naturally assumed that what I did was not something special. My grandmother was my teacher and my mentor from the very beginning. She realized what I could do, and she helped my gift to grow.

Photo (left) of Mary Ann at age 2
with her Grandma Maria.

Photo courtesy of
Click on the picture to visit Mary Ann's Web site.

CLEO: In your experience, what are some of the principle reasons spirits stay behind here on earth? Is it always their choice?

MARY ANN: It is always unfinished business in one form or another. A young mother dies suddenly. Obviously she does not want to leave the future of her children to someone else, she chooses to stay. A suicide victim wants someone to know why they took their life. A homicide victim wants some sort of justice. Someone who values an earthbound procession and refuses to leave it behind. The reasons go on and on. In death as in life we have a marvelous gift called free will. At death we do have the choice to cross over or remain.

CLEO: I love the title of your novel, The Book of Illumination, because the story is not only about searching for a priceless, stolen illuminated book, but about helping earthbound spirits cross over into the light. Like Anza, can you really re-create a light for the spirit to cross over? What do you think that light is exactly? Where does it come from? Where do you believe a spirit goes when it walks toward the light?

MARY ANN: My grandmother taught me how to create the white light. The hardest part about learning how to do it was making the opening big enough for a spirit to go into, and keeping it open long enough for them to cross. I believe that the white light is a gift for all of us from God. It is there for all of us to use for protection. I know I could not have gotten through my two daughters learning how to drive without the white light. There was not a time that they left the house that I did not cover their car in the white light. I never get on an airplane without first visualizing the white light covering the plane. I believe that there is an afterlife. The light is present for all people who die. I would visualize it as being the way for our spirits to travel from our earthly plane to the next level. I sincerely believe that there is someone at the end of the light with a clipboard directing where you will go. I do not believe that we enter at the same level.

CLEO: What made you decide to team up with Ms. Foley and write The Book of Illumination?

MARY ANN: My book agent Jennifer Gates introduced us. I love Maureen’s style or writing. She has a marvelous work ethic and I truly enjoy working with her

CLEO: You’ve said that all children can see spirits. What would you advise someone to develop this gift? Can it be developed after childhood?

MARY ANN: I was very fortunate to have my grandmother in my younger years. She gave me the guidance and kept me on the right track. If your child has a gift, I think that it extremely important to be supportive, but not overbearing. Let the child develop the gift at their own pace. Never be critical or over analytical. If the gift remains after childhood I truly believe that if a person works hard enough they can redevelop it.

CLEO: Thank you so much to Mary Ann Winkowski for joining us today at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!

And finally...below is my Halloween recipe for you: Cleo's Kettle Corn. I'll be popping up this sweet, crunchy treat tonight, just in time to watch The Ghost Whisperer. I hope you'll enjoy some, too, while you read Mary Ann's new Book of Illumination!

To Get Cleo's Recipe for
Sweet Kettle Corn

The recipe will appear in PDF format.
You can print it out or save it to your computer.

For more of my recipes or to find out more about the books
in my Haunted Bookshop or Coffeehouse Mystery series,
click this link to my virtual home at


~ Cleo Coyle
author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

& The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries as Alice Kimberly

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click the comment link below...