Showing posts with label Southern cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Southern cooking. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cheese Monkey—by Riley Adams

October 2011 016 Growing up, my mother and grandmother would serve me a dish called cheese monkey. None of the adults ever really explained to me why it was called cheese monkey, and I think I ate it with some degree of suspicion the first time I put it in my mouth. That suspicion was quickly dispelled when I realized it was basically a cheese soufflé.


Now, this isn’t the same as monkey bread, which y’all have probably eaten. Not the same, but it does share some similarities. Monkey bread is made with balls of dough that give the treat a bumpy appearance and is meant to be pulled apart (with, I guess, the same approach a monkey might take to eat it!) Cheese monkey is made with slices of bread that give it the same bumpy, easy to pull-apart appearance. But monkey bread is sweet and cinnamon-y and meant for dessert or a sweet breakfast. Cheese monkey is definitely more of a side or main dish.

Again, this recipe is easy, easy, easy. The longer part of the prep is the time it spends in the oven. Best part? It’s even better the next day. :)

My old recipe uses whole milk and heavy cream. I make it with 1% milk and half and half. I have a feeling you could also use egg substitute, if you wanted. Of course, the bread and cheese still make this a high-calorie treat, but you can cut down on some of it. I like a lot of cheese, but you could also reduce the amount and it would still be yummy.

Cheese Monkey

1 1/2- 2 cups cubed Swiss cheese
Slightly less than 1 loaf sliced French or Sourdough bread
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup half and half
5 well-beaten eggs
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dry mustard

Preheat oven to 375. Spray the bottom of a rectangular Pyrex dish. Layer bread, then cheese for 2 layers. Combine milk, half and half, eggs, wine, salt, and dry mustard and pour over the bread and cheese mixture. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until most of the liquid is cooked away.

October 2011 022

Hope you’ll enjoy a little Southern comfort in the form of cheese monkey!


Finger Lickin’ Dead (Riley Adams)
Hickory Smoked Homicide (preorder book 3!)

Progressive Dinner Deadly ($2.99 on Kindle—Elizabeth Craig)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quick Pasta Salad

RileyAdamsFoodBlogPostpic_thumb_thumb[3] While I was visiting family in Alabama, we enjoyed a tasty pasta salad that my husband’s family served cold alongside of sandwiches for an oven-free meal. And if I thought it was hot in North Carolina, Alabama was like an oven, itself!

The only hot part of this meal is the cooking of the pasta on the stove. After that, you’ve got a delicious side dish…or even a main dish. It filled me up pretty well (pasta always seems to.)

The pimentos make it Southern. :)


Quick Pasta Salad

1 16 oz package Vermicelli
1 T all-purpose seasoning
1 T seasoning salt
3 T lemon juice
4 T oil
4 oz. chopped pimento, drained
1 pepper, chopped fine (green or red)
3/4 cup green onion
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

Mix all the ingredients and chill overnight.

IMG_20110721_080504Stay cool! :)

Delicious and Suspicious (Riley Adams)
Finger Lickin’ Dead—June 7 (book 2 of the Memphis BBQ series!) It’s here!
Download it on Kindle:
Mass market paperback:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pineapple Casserole


Okay, y’all, it’s time for another delicious Southern-style casserole to blow your diet with. :)

Actually, I think that this recipe for pineapple casserole is perfectly wonderful—if you think of it as a dessert.

The amount of sugar in the recipe puts it into dessert territory. And it’s sweet enough to qualify, too.

Although usually it’s served as a side dish here. :)

You can make this recipe with less sugar. I’ve made it with as little as a few tablespoons of sugar. But…it just wasn’t quite as good (imagine that!)

You do have to turn the oven on for this one, but at least it’s easy and cooks in 30 minutes.

I usually make it with canned pineapple, but right now the pineapple in the store is looking really good. Making it with fresh pineapple makes it even better. :)


Pineapple Casserole

20 oz. can of pineapple chunks
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup grated cheese
1 stick melted margarine
1 tube crushed buttery crackers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drain most of the juice from the canned pineapple (leave about 6 tablespoons) and pour the chunks and into a casserole dish with the 6 tablespoons of juice.

Mix 1 cup of sugar and 4 tablespoons of flour and pour the mixture on top of the pineapple chunks.

Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on the top.

Mix 1 stick melted margarine and 1 tube crushed crackers together.
Cook 30 minutes at 350.



Delicious and Suspicious (Riley Adams)
Finger Lickin’ Dead—June 7 (book 2 of the Memphis BBQ series!) It’s here!
Download it on Kindle:
Mass market paperback:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Finger Lickin’ Dead Giveaway Results and Some Fried Okra


First up, I wanted to thank everyone for entering my Finger Lickin’ Dead giveaway. There was a great response to the contest. The randomly picked winner was Darlene Peterson. Congratulations!

Thanks everyone! I wish you all could have won. Hope you’ll consider picking up a copy of the book:

Download the book on Kindle:
Mass market paperback:

Fried Okra

I may lose some of y’all today! I think that okra is one of those things, like grits, that make people wonder about folks in the southern US.

But okra is what’s growing in everyone’s gardens down here. It will absolutely grow like wild. It loves the heat, it loves our crazy soil, it just enjoys the South.

And, if you fry it, it’s heavenly with some corn on the cob and some sliced tomatoes for a tasty supper on a hot day. :)

Fried Okra


Sliced okra (about 1/2 inch thick)
1/2 cup buttermilk
Salt and pepper
Canola oil


Heat oil in cast iron pan.
Combine cornmeal and dash of salt and pepper in a Ziplock bag.
Dip the okra in the buttermilk.
Toss the sliced okra with the cornmeal mixture in the bag.
Place okra in the frying pan and turn it as it cooks to prevent it from burning.
Cook until the okra turns a golden brown.
Drain and serve.

Hope you’ll enjoy a traditional Southern side! And—do you have a regional delicacy that may make others turn up their nose a little? :)

Delicious and Suspicious (Riley Adams)
Finger Lickin’ Dead—June 7 (book 2 of the Memphis BBQ series!)

Congratulations to Julie Hyzy on the release of Grace Interrupted, the second in her Manor House Mystery series.
Click here to read a review from
the Chicago Sun-Times
Click here to order the book.

Congratulations to Wendy Lyn Watson on the release of A Parfait Murder, the third in her Mystery A La Mode series.
Click here to read a review from A Criminal Element.

Click here to purchase the book.

Click here to visit Wendy's Web site and
read on to learn how to enter her contest!

Wendy Lyn Watson's
new mystery A Parfait Murder features a story line about the Lantana Round-Up Rodeo Queen Pageant. To celebrate, Wendy's giving away a little cowboy couture: a leather and rhinestone cuff, and a "rodeo queen" keychain.
Eligibility: This contest is open to everyone living in the U.S. and Canada. One entry per person, please.
How to Enter: Send proof of purchase of A Parfait Murder (either a receipt, or a picture of you holding the book), by e-mail to Put the words "Parfait Giveaway" in the subject line.

Entries must be received by 5:00 PM Central Standard Time on Friday, June 17. Wendy will randomly select one entry and announce the winner here on the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen blog on Saturday, June 18. She will contact the winner via e-mail. If she does not receive a response within 7 days, she will draw a new winning name.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Easy, Finger Lickin’ Southern Side—Pimento Cheese

RileyAdamsFoodBlogPostpic_thumb_thumb[3]Wow! We had Release-a-palooza yesterday! Congratulations to my fellow Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen cooks, Wendy Watson and Julie Hyzy for their brand new releases! My Kindle is loaded and I am ready to do some summer reading!

I was thrilled to see Finger Lickin’ Dead on the shelves yesterday. I do have a little giveaway after my recipe, so be sure to scroll down to the end of the post if you’d like to enter.

IMG_20110607_200358Now, on to pimento cheese! The easy version.
Pimento cheese is a favorite Southern side. It’s served as a veggie dip, spread on sandwiches, and used as a condiment. In fact, I went to a huge birthday party last Saturday at the beach, with some absolutely fabulous food…and pimento cheese was one of the things that the caterers put out.

Finger Lickin' Close UpSince yesterday marked my release of Finger Lickin’ Dead, I thought a little pimento cheese was in order. That’s one of my sleuth, Lulu’s, favorite foods. She even offers pimento cheese dogs and pimento cheese topped burgers on special occasions at Aunt Pat’s BBQ restaurant.

It’s light and tasty, but I think that some people aren’t wild about pimento cheese because of the texture. And that’s a shame, because you can make a smooth version (which is really the kind I prefer, myself.) Here’s how:

Simply Southern Pimento Cheese

1 block extra-sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
1 4 oz. jar pimentos, with liquid
1 cup mayonnaise
1 squirt regular mustard
1 dash garlic powder
Put all the ingredients in your blender. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes for the pimento cheese to thicken into a spread.

IMG_20110607_200751(That’s right, y’all….I said the blender!) No wrestling with your food processor needed!

fingerlickindead--smallTo make those little luncheon sandwiches, all the ladies cut the edges off white bread, spread the pimento cheese on them, and set them out on china plates. Sometimes they put a moistened paper towel over the sandwiches to keep the bread soft while they wait for their luncheon to start.
Yes, I could happily eat pimento cheese all day long. :)
And now, some more about my….
"Finger Lickin' Dead" Giveaway
It's time for a Finger Lickin' Dead giveaway! To celebrate the June 7 release of the 2nd book in the Memphis Barbecue series, I'm throwing an easy contest.
To enter the random drawing for a free, signed, paperback copy of "Finger Lickin' Dead," just send me an email--I'm at elizabethspanncraig (at) gmail (dot) com-- with "Giveaway" in the subject line. The contest is open to everyone—my international friends, included. The deadline for entering is Tuesday, June 14th at midnight, ET. The winner will be announced during my post, Wednesday, June 15th here on the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen blog. Good luck!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Babs Hightower with her Grandmother's Baked Beans and Sam's Cookies!

Sam's Cookies
(Hello Dollies)

Please welcome our guest blogger, Barbara (Babs) Downey Hightower. Babs is a passionate book reviewer and blogger who is also an amazing cook. She's sharing two very special recipes with us today: one for a favorite cookie and one for her grandmother's baked beans. Take it away, Babs! 
 ~ Cleo Coyle

I am thrilled to be here with all of you today. Mystery Lovers' Kitchen is one of my favorite sites. I visit each day, so imagine my surprise when Cleo invited me to be a guest.

I love to read, but that has not always been the case. It wasn’t until high school when I had to read Rebecca, that reading caught my attention. The thriller got me hooked on mysteries from then on.

I started my website in 2008 to post my reviews for my close friends as they were always asking if I liked or even if I did not like a book. It started catching on when I asked a few authors to be guests on the site.

One day in 2010, I got to talking to Cleo about being a guest as I have always been a big fan of hers. She took me under her wing and introduced me to the blogging world. She even helped me with the title of my blog, The World of Book Reviews. I did change it to Babs World of Book Reviews as I wanted to stand out a bit more. Since then, the blog has taken off. I have had more authors contact me to be on the blog and review their books than I could ever imagine.

It might sound hard to believe, but mysteries were all I wanted to read until I started my blog. My eyes have been opened to more genres that I did not know I would enjoy. I always frowned on romances while growing up. My mom always read them. I remember her dragging me to the book exchange to turn in her old ones for new ones or the book store for the newest releases. I did not see the big hoopla of it all. Now that I look back, I wish I would have paid more attention to the book shelves when I was younger. My main genre to review is still a good old mystery.

As my husband (TJ) and I have had a recent addition to the family and since Cleo wanted to see a picture of the little fellow, I better tell you about my family.

We have 4 boys that are all adopted and all half brothers. We have Ethan 14, Logan 8, Duncan 18 months and Marco who as of today is 6 months old. We started out with Ethan who was 8 at the time and Logan who was 2. They are my babies (don’t tell Ethan). We got a call last year that the birth mom had another baby boy and would we take him. Well, of course my answer was yes. TJ and I already decided we would keep their family together if we could. So, Duncan came into the picture when he was 5 months old. I was happy with 3 boys and thought that would be it until 2 months ago. We got another call about another little boy, Marco. I never thought I would have 4 children much less 4 boys. I keep hoping for a girl one of these days, but if not, I am just as happy.

Now for the fur babies. We have 13 pets that are all rescues. We have 4 indoor cats as one just passed away. Their names are Bandit, Casper, Timber and Katie Bell. We also have 9 Siberian huskies they are, Winter, Glacier, Nanook, Avalanche, Sleet, Sapphire, Summer, Nomad and Alpine. 

We have a house full of adopted and or rescues. They all keep me on my toes. This isn’t all of the dogs of course but there is TJ holding Duncan, Logan in front of them and Nomad and Summer can’t tell who the ones are behind TJ.  --->>>

Last, but not least there's my love for cooking. My mom’s side of the family is from Georgia. Every summer and any vacation time I had from school, was spent in Georgia with my great grandmother. She cooked everything home made with no short cuts.

My mom said I was 3 years old, on a chair helping grandmother stir whatever was in the pots. She taught me a great deal about cooking and cooking with joy. She always said never treat cooking like it is a chore, if that happens you need to stop cooking. I never copied any of her recipes. I thought she would always be here.

When she passed I was 18 years old and my great uncles surprised me with all of her recipes. One of my happiest days. The most important thing my great-grandmother taught me, southern cooking isn’t just fried chicken and the fixins. It is also about lots of love.

I had so many recipes running through my mind to share. I finally narrowed it down to these two.

I love this recipe as there can be so many variations to make how you like it. This recipe is from a friend of mine.

Sam’s Cookies (Hello Dollies)

Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Oven Temp: 350 degrees F. 
Pan Size: 13 x 9


1 stick butter melted
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1 cup ( 6 oz ) chocolate chips
1 cup medium sized pecan pieces
1 cup coconut ( optional )
1 cup condensed milk

Directions: Line your 13 x 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Do not mix above ingredients. Layer each ingredient separately into your pan. Press each layer down as you would in making a pie shell. Finish top layer by spreading condensed milk over it. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 minutes. When the cookies are done, cool, cut and peel off paper.

<< Line pan with parchment.

Layer ingredients >>

<< Finish with condensed milk.

Bake, cool, cut, and peel off paper >>

*  *  *  *  *  *

Western Baked Beans

This next recipe is from my grandmother. We like to use this recipe when we are cooking out on the grill.


2 tablespoons butter 
1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 package onion soup mix
1/2 cup water
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoon vinegar
2- 12 oz cans of any pork and beans
Bacon slices (cooked and drained)

Directions: In skillet, heat butter and brown the ground beef (or turnkey). Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 to 30 minutes. Garnish with bacon strips. I also like to add cheese and sour cream to top mine off. There are so many different ways you can.

I hope you like these 2 recipes just as much as my family does. Thank you for inviting me to be a guest today and hope to see you stop by my blog.

~ Babs


Thank You again to Babs for joining us here today.
I cannot wait to make these amazing recipes!

~ Cleo

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rice Pileau (Also Pilau. And Perlo. And Pilaf…)

RileyAdamsFoodBlogPostpic_thumb_thumb[3]As I write this, the children have a day off from school because of the snow and ice in our area. They’re having a blast playing with their friends. Their faces are red with the cold and they’re hungry all the time! What kind of food am I cooking for them? Something hot and filling, of course. Something like Southern-style pilaf, or rice pileau. (Also spelled pilau and perlo.)

A South Carolinian will most likely pronounce this recipe ‘perlo,’ as I do, since I grew up in SC. Non-Southerners would know a variation of the dish as pilaf (although your version likely doesn’t have pork in it.)

I do know that pileau was a popular one-pot dish for the Gullah people (they speak an English-based Creole with words of African origin, as well) in the Sea Island areas of South Carolina and Georgia.



2.5 to 3 pounds of country style bone in pork ribs
3 cups rice
6 cups of the RESERVED broth created from boiling the ribs


pileau2Fill one large pot with water, add pork ribs, and 1 Tablespoon salt (or to taste)

Boil until the meat falls off the bone, approximately an hour and a half
Strain the meat and cool on a plate.
RESERVE the broth the meat is cooked in
Once meat is cool separate the meat from the bones and fat.
Discard bones & fat.
Shred meat into bite sized pieces and add meat to the pot.
Add 6 cups of the broth from boiling the meat back to the pot.
Bring to a boil
Add 3 cups of rice
Add 1 Tablespoon salt (or to taste)
Add pepper to taste

pileau3Cover the pot and simmer until rice is fluffy and done. Approximately 40 minutes.

Hope you’ll enjoy it! And…stay warm!

Delicious and Suspicious (July 6 2010) Riley Adams
Pretty is as Pretty Dies –Elizabeth Spann Craig

Be sure to enter Julie’s contest to celebrate her new release!

Julie says:

This one is for all you fast readers out there who devour books

as fast as you get your hands on them!

I want to send one lucky winner a $10 bookstore gift certificate.

How to win it?

Simply email me JulieHyzy (at) gmail (dot) com -- put CHARACTER or CONTEST in the subject. In the body of your email, answer a question (or two):

1) Who is your favorite *new* character in Buffalo West Wing?

2) Why is he/she your favorite of the newbies?

(I really love to know how readers relate to new characters, so this is enormously helpful for me!)

Answer one question, you're entered once. Answer both, you're entered twice.

It's that easy.

There's no right or wrong answer. The winner will be chosen at random. No matter which of the newbies you love (or love to hate), just providing an answer gets you in the running. (BTW, there's one character we haven't seen since book #2. If he's your favorite, that's fine too.)


I will announce the winner sometime on Friday, January 14, 2011

I'll announce a winner a week from today. So many of you have emailed to let me know they've already read it, so I thought this would be a perfect way to pick your brains before I start book #6 (#5, as yet unnamed, is done).

Thanks in advance, and happy reading!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Shrimp and Rice Casserole

RileyAdamsFoodBlogPostpic_thumb_thumb[3]With all the hustle and bustle, sometimes (now I’m not saying it always happens, but sometimes), I don’t take really careful note of all the things the kids are eating.

Occasionally, it seems like they’re filling up on junky stuff around Christmas. That might have to do with the cookie exchanges my daughter has been to, and the candy my son has gotten from friends at school.

When I want to make sure they fill up on Real Food, I’ll make something like this shrimp and rice casserole. They’re so crazy about it, that they’ll even pull it out and heat it up in the microwave instead of heading for the cookie jar. Why are they crazy about it? They just love the mixture of flavors in the recipe…and it doesn’t hurt that it has bacon in it. :)

Shrimp and Rice Casserole


1 1/2 cups uncooked instant rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons butter
2 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
4 sliced cooked, crumbled bacon
1/4 cup white wine
dash of lemon juice
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream (I use light)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese

IMG_20101213_173223Preheat the oven broiler. Spray an 8x8 Pyrex.

Cook instant rice according to package directions (substituting chicken broth for water.) When cooked, put in the bottom of the greased Pyrex.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms, garlic cloves, and green onions for 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes or until opaque. Scoop the shrimp out of the pan. Mix in mushroom soup, lemon juice, white wine, sour cream, Parmesan, and bacon with the mushroom mixture and cook until heated through. Add the cooked shrimp back to the pan. Put the mixture over the rice in the Pyrex and top with the cheese.

Broil 5 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the casserole bubbles.


Hope everyone who celebrates has a very Merry Christmas!

Need a last-minute Christmas gift? Don’t forget about our two recent releases, y’all! Cleo’s Holiday Grind and Krista’s Diva Cooks a Goose!


Delicious and Suspicious (July 6, 2010) Riley Adams
Pretty is as Pretty Dies –Elizabeth Spann Craig

Sunday, October 24, 2010


As a reader of my Coffeehouse Mysteries, Paul found me on Facebook. I was intrigued to learn about his occupation. Because many of us on this blog write about (or enjoy reading about) professionals in the culinary field, I invited Paul to guest blog for us. I'm so happy he agreed! Please welcome, Paul Yates... ~ Cleo Coyle

Paul Yates
 As a professional baker, it is easy to let my job become just “a job”, and forget the enjoyment many derive from the products we bake. I work at Pineland Bakery, a family-owned bakery that has been serving the Waynesboro, GA community for over 30 years.

In the five years I have been here, I have been head cashier, sales manager, IT manager, marketing director, coffee brewer, and most recently, chief baker. Actually, most times I wear most of those caps at the same time!

Pineland Bakery, Waynesboro, GA

Paul's Bear Claws

I love good food, as my waistline can testify! My dear wife is a wonderful cook, who has had excellent cooking techniques handed down to her by her mother, and I myself was no stranger to the kitchen as I grew up. I was fortunate to be surrounded by family who could really, REALLY cook, and very little of it was actually GOOD for me!

Paul's Chocolate-Frosted Doughnuts

(Hungry yet?!)
Paul's Cheese Danish

As a child, I used to spend quite a bit of time with my great-grandmother, a dear lady we all called Granny Clyde. She was old, born in 1899, and she saw a lot of history before she died during her mid-nineties. I remember seeing pictures of her during the Roaring Twenties, and thinking how incredibly gorgeous she was.

She grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, and, despite her relation to certain feuding families, managed to attend college and become a teacher.

She was one of the first women in her area to teach poverty-stricken African-Americans how to read, so that they could vote. She was also a tremendously accomplished cook and baker, and I always enjoyed visiting her, especially since she fed us such great homemade food!

Paul's Apple Fritters

One of Granny Clyde's favorites was called “Lemon Chess Pie”. It was a baked custard pie, like an egg custard, but was much richer. It's actually insanely rich, but so wonderful, you don't care about the calories it contains! The recipe has seen a few changes over the years, but it has only gotten better with the tweaking.

One of the qualities that sets it apart from other pies is the "Melt-in-your-mouth" crust that forms on top of the pie as a result of the margarine and sugar in the filling. If only I could figure out how to recreate just this one element! I could cut the calories way down!

Ok, so enough with the's that recipe!

Lemon Chess Pie


1 ½ cup sugar
4 eggs
1 ½ Tbsp. Vinegar
½ cup margarine, melted
1 tsp. Lemon extract
¼ tsp. Salt
9 inch unbaked pie crust

Directions: Mix all ingredients. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake @ 325 F for 40-45 minutes.

On a final note, I would like to thank Cleo
for the opportunity to share
this recipe with the readers of this blog.

~ Paul Yates

Thank YOU, Paul, for sharing yourself,
your memories, and your fantastic recipe!
Blessings to you and your family.
~ Cleo

You can visit
Pineland Bakery online,
by clicking here.

You can also "Like"
Pineland Bakery on Facebook and
"follow" Pineland Bakery on Twitter.

To leave a comment or question for Paul,
click the "Comment" hot link below...