Showing posts with label bean dip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bean dip. Show all posts

Monday, September 23, 2013

It's Book Club Week at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!

Welcome to Book Club Week at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. All week long, we'll be bringing you ideas for your next book club meeting, including some discussion questions and, most important of course -- recipes!

I'm kicking things off, not with my latest book, but with one that's so appropriate for the season. The leaves are blowing and the air is turning crisp. That can only mean one thing -- Halloween is in the air! Naturally, you can host a Halloween book club for any book, but why not read a Halloween book like THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE?

Surprise! This isn't something one usually plans for a book club, but what fun to come in costume! Hats and boas, Happy Potter glasses, witch tights, kitty faces, and vampire capes. It's all in good fun.

There are plenty of Halloween decorating hints in THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE. If you're worried that they'll all be complicated Natasha-style ideas, don't worry. It's easy enough to set up a table with a few elements that will scream Halloween. An orange or black tablecloth. Black candles! What? Your silver candle holders are tarnished? All the better. Add a pumpkin or two and it's ready. When you talk about the book, be sure to turn down the lights and discuss it by candle light. (Note: I am not responsible for things that might go bump in the night.)

Discussion Questions:
I've made it easy for you. They're on my website right here. But feel free to make up your own questions, too!

If you're part of a group that goes all out, then by all means make Dead Man's Bones. They are simply delicious. Add Ghost Potatoes and a salad and you've got a whole meal.

Reader Lisa Jennings Perry made these mummies for an office party a couple of years ago. So cute and always popular. The recipe is in THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE.

 If you're more inclined to sweets, you can't go wrong with my Autumn Spice Cupcakes. They're everyone's favorite. Skip the cute lion faces. Make mini cupcakes and pop one piece of candy corn on top of the frosting to decorate.

Dips are always great for a group, too. If time is at a premium, buy hummus and add the carrot fingers as described below. Or make Caramelized Onion Pinto Bean dip, which is gluten-free and appropriate for vegetarians and vegans, too.

Caramelized Onion Pinto Bean Dip

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small to medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

five gnarly carrots
five almond slices

Saute the onion in the olive oil slowly over low-medium heat. Give it time to caramelize and flavor the oil. Set aside to cool. When cool, add the onions and olive oil to a food processor along with all the other ingredients except the garnish. Process until creamy, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Peel five carrots and cut to finger lengths plus an inch or so to stick in the dip. Add a dab of the dip to the tops as "glue" for the almond slice "fingernail." Insert in dip.

Serve with carrots and your favorite crackers.

And just for fun, here's an excerpt from THE DIVA HAUNTS THE HOUSE. It takes place during a seance. Madame Poisson is communicating with a spirit.

When I sat down and joined hands with Bernie and Jen again, Madame began to hum.

She stopped and muttered, “Good heavens! What are you doing? I don’t know what that means.
Charades? We have to play ghost charades? Okay, look, I watched Ghost about fifty times, but this isn’t anything like that. You’re going to have to give me some help.”

Maggie appeared to be the only one with her eyes closed. “Please, Patrick. Tell us the name of the vampire!”

“Aha. Good,” said Madame Poisson. “First name. No? First word? You look like you’re doing the YMCA dance. How about this? I’ll ask questions and you answer by knocking. Once for yes, twice for no.”

She cleared her throat. “Was it a man?”

Mars and Jen broke into smiles. We waited for a response, everyone, except Maggie, gazing around as though we expected to see spirits.

To my complete amazement, we heard a tiny ping in the sun room.

Mars leaped to his feet.

Madame Poisson motioned him to sit. “Do not disturb the spirits. Is he here with us tonight?”

I found myself holding my breath. When we heard another ping in the sun room, Bernie leaned over and whispered, “How is she doing that?”

I shrugged. I had no idea. Even worse, only nine of the people sitting in my living room were men, and I could eliminate everyone except Leon, Dash, Ray, Karl, and, I supposed, Blake. Of course, we all knew that the pings didn’t mean anything. Still, they were very odd . . .

Madame Poisson breathed heavily. She swayed ever so gently, her eyes closed. Beads of perspiration broke out on her brow, she lifted a hand, her head tilted back, and she slid from her chair onto the floor with a thump.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

A note from Krista ~

January first is traditionally a time for new starts. You made some resolutions, right? I know I did.

This January first, we're going through some changes at Mystery Lover's Kitchen. It's with great sadness that we're waving so long to Jenn McKinley. She's bowing out to spend more time writing her delightful books. We're sorry to see her go, and we'll certainly miss her. Don't worry, Jenn promises to come back and visit!

On a happier note, three new regulars will be joining us on Saturdays. We're thrilled to add Wendy Lyn Watson, Sheila Connolly, and MJ Maffini to Mystery Lover's Kitchen!

Wendy Lyn Watson writes the Mystery A La Mode series about Tallulah Jones, proprietor of Dalliance, Texas’s old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. In addition, Wendy is a vegetarian, so she'll be sharing some great meat-free dishes.

Sheila Connolly writes the Orchard Mystery series, about apple orchard owner, Meg Corey. In addition, Sheila writes the Museum Mysteries, which just debuted this fall. Sheila's interest in food and history has spurred her to recreate some fascinating recipes like Emily Dickinson's Black Cake.

MJ Maffini is the author of the Camilla MacPhee mystery series, the Fiona Silk mysteries, and the Charlotte Adams mysteries. Shh, I hear there's a new series on the horizon. While MJ isn't writing culinary mysteries, she's a creative cook and tells us that the new series will include a housekeeper, Senora Panetone, whose cooking skills are phenomenal.

Mystery Lover's Kitchen is delighted that these three talented authors and cooks have agreed to join us!

Today you're getting a twofer! Jenn McKinley is leaving with a bang with her Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes. Ringing in the new is Wendy Watson with Touchdown Taco Dip!

Well, what better way to start the new year than
with cupcakes? BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF will be released in just three days on January 4th, and I am so excited I decided to whip up a batch of Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes for Christmas and share the recipe here with you!

Sadly, this will also be my last regular post for Mystery Lover's Kitchen, so I wanted to share a special cupcake recipe and this one will be featured in DEATH BY THE DOZEN, which is due out in October 2011.

It was a hard decision to leave the kitchen. These ladies are the best, but I've signed on for another mystery series (yes, that makes four) and what with being a part time librarian and a full time mom, well, something had to give. Hey, maybe this
means the Hub will take me out to eat more often. See? There's always an upside!

Not only that, but the ladies will be inviting some truly spectacular talents to take over the Saturday slot! It's going to be terrific!

Oh, and I will be popping into the kitchen, so it really isn't goodbye but more of a I'll see you when I see you!

And now here is the recipe, which I must say, turned out AMAZING!

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 box devil's food cake mix

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp chile powder

A pinch of kosher salt

A dash of black pepper

3 large eggs

1 cup water

4 tbspn canola oil

1 disk (3.1 oz) Mexican chocolate,

ground in food processor

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cupcake tin with paper cups.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the cake mix, cinnamon and chile powder, plus salt and pepper. Add eggs, water and oil. Stir until the mix is just combined, then add the ground chocolate stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.

Ganache frosting:

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a double boiler bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Add the chocolate chips, stirring frequently until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and let sit for five minutes to cool and thicken. Holding the cupcakes upside down, dip them into the ganache until the top is coated. Allow the excess to drip off and then set aside to allow the frosting to set.

Tip: To jazz it up, I piped a little red chili pepper on top.

I used a basic buttercream frosting recipe and red food coloring!

Enjoy! It has been a pleasure blogging with all of you for the past year and a half. Good luck and good eating, everyone!


And now, Wendy Watson!

New years means lots of things to lots of people -- drunken revelry, resolutions, diets (ahem), clean slates. For me, though, January 1 means football.

It will come as a great surprise to my students--who have to put up with my half-baked and ill-conceived sports analogies on a regular basis--but I watched a lot of college ball as a child. I'm a third generation Michigan Wolverine - Go Blue! - so I didn't have a lot of choice in the matter.

For the first 28 years of my life (until the whole BCS nonsense), the Rose Bowl on January 1 was the crowning moment for the Big 10 Champ, and for 20 of those 28 years, the Rose Bowl was either the last chance to cheer on my beloved Wolverines or the last chance to boo and hiss at our arch-rival, Ohio State. So our family always spent January 1 planted in front of the television, doing terrible things to our blood pressure and our overall cardiovascular health.

As I mentioned before, I watched a lot of football, but I never exactly understood, well, the rules. The ball moved up and down the field, there was a lot of yelling of "hit him, hit him!", but the finer points were wasted on me. For me, there were two highlights to watching football. First, I could sing "Hail to the Victors" as loudly as a I wanted, and no one complained about how off-key I was. And, second, there were lots of snacks ... especially chips and dip.

So for those playing along at home, here's the math:

January 1 = Football = Vast Quantities of Chips and Dip

By the transitive property, January 1 = Dip. Isn't math grand?

Many dips graced my childhood--the ever-popular French-onion-soup-and-sour cream, the Knorr spring vegetable soup version of the same, Velveeta queso, pecan-crusted cheese balls. But no dip was so loved, and quickly devoured, as our family's take on the 7-layer taco dip.

The beauty of this dip is
  1. it takes about 10 minutes to make (before photo taken at 10:52, after photo at 11:00);
  2. it's pretty;
  3. it's delicious;
  4. you can get just about every ingredient at the corner 7-11;
  5. it has protein and veg in it, so you can rationalize eating the whole pan yourself; and
  6. while I have no firsthand experience (riiiight....), I've heard it's excellent hangover food.
So if you're spending today watching football or simply huddling at home trying to recover from last night's overindulgence, take 10 to whip up some of this dip.

Touchdown Taco Dip

1 15-oz container sour cream (light is fine)
1 can refried beans (fat free is fine)
1 packet of taco seasoning (1/4 c., if you buy in bulk)
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. jarred salsa or picante
small can chopped black olives (optional)

Spread the beans in the bottom of a 7 x 11 or 9 x 13 pan. Mix the sour cream with the taco seasoning. Spread that over the beans. Sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle with salsa/picante. Dot with black olives.

If you're really feeling festive, you could spread a layer of purchased guacamole between the beans and the sour cream. Or throw a handful of actual diced tomatoes on top. Go crazy!


Happy New Year from all of us to all our friends who make Mystery Lover's Kitchen such a special and fun place!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Holly's Bean Dip!

Here’s a confession, I really
suck at passing down recipes.
I’m a rather intuitive cook.
I just...well, guestimate.
And while that works well for
me, it’s hard to pass guestimated
recipes on to the kids when I
have to say things like,
“Take a handful of this,
then a smidge of that...”

I make my older kids crazy when they call
asking for the recipe for a family favorite. LOL
So, I went through my recipe box and discovered
that I had an actual recipe for one of our family
favorites! It’s an easy bean dip.
I’m all about easy and
nutritious...this recipe is both.

Holly’s Bean Dip

1 can kidney beans
½ tsp garlic salt
1 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
½-1 cheddar cheese

Use the mixer or a Cuisinart to mix
the first four ingredients. Mix by hand
with grated cheese, then microwave
until warm.
Serve with tortilla chips. Or, broil
some pita bread until browned
and try that. Or even crackers.

It’s fast and easy to make, so it’s
perfect for surprise guests.
I made it this afternoon in order
to take a few pictures, and
realized it’s not a pretty dip.
But I put it down on the coffee
table with some chips...and it’s gone.
So, while it’s not pretty,
it’s really, really good!
Oh, and for the people like me who
enjoy messing with recipes,
this one begs to be messed with. I’ve
done it with black beans instead of kidney
beans. You could switch up the cheese.
Try a few spices. Oh, and how about
doing black beans, cheese
and a bit of salsa? That might be what
I try next!
I know some cooks are nervous about
straying from a recipe. But to be honest,
I’ve never met a recipe I don’t want to
fiddle with!
Let me know if any of you tweak
this one and how it turned out!

About Holly:

I've been in love with books, with words, ever since I can remember.
I read JRR Tolkien's Hobbit in third grade. How much I understood,
I don't know, but I fell in love with Middle Earth and visited often.
Heinlein, Lewis and Bach all soon joined him on my list of must read
authors. Trixie Belden, The Black Stallion, Little House on the
Prairie . . . the list goes on and on. It was rare not to find me with a
book in hand!
From that love of reading I seemed to naturally progress to
writing. I've toyed with a little of everything, but I must confess,
though I "found" romance a little later in life, I fell head over heels
for the genre. When I began writing, it seemed like the right place
for me to be.
Why? Because it's a genre about people, about relationships. I can
add in the sci fi, the fantasy, the suspense, the mystery. I can add
in any plot, but it all boils down to the people and that is why I fell
for it. Watching two characters overcome the odds, overcome
themselves . . . what could be more satisfying?

Thanks for joining us, Holly!
I live in AZ, so I am absolutely giving
your bean dip a whirl! Jenn

For more about Holly, check out her

Contest Time!

sprinkleIt’s March and we’re celebrating cupcakes! Our own Jenn McKinlay’s Sprinkle with Murder is now out in bookstores near you! If you’d like to win cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop, send us an e-mail at or leave a comment with your idea of the wackiest cupcake ingredients you can think of.

Anchovies seem to be the zaniest so far! Eeep!