Showing posts with label cozy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cozy. Show all posts

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Welcome guest author Rebecca Adler! + book #giveaway

Rebecca Adler is the pen name of author Gina Lee Nelson. Gina grew up on the sugar beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. Drawn to the Big Apple by the sweet smell of wishful thinking, she studied acting on Broadway until a dark-eyed cowboy flung her over his saddle and high-tailed it to the Southwest.

Prior to writing women's fiction, Rebecca always found a way to add a touch of the dramatic to her life: dinner theatre in Mississippi, can-can club in Florida, flower shop in Germany, acting school on Broadway, sweatshirt boutique on Madison Avenue, all night dive on the Lower East Side, video series in Jersey, and a giant Furskin at the New York Toy Fair... the occasional play and musical.

She's currently content to pour her melodramatic tendencies into writing cozy mysteries with a hint of romance and a sweet, Southern-fried flavor.

see below

Take it away, Gina/Rebecca!

Growing up in small town Florida, my exposure to Tex-Mex was limited to the locally-owned Pancho’s on Okaloosa Island. This local favorite offered everything my young heart could desire: tacos, queso, and enchiladas. Occasionally, I would try something exotic from my mother’s plate. Guacamole, refried beans, or tamales.

Have you heard the old saying, I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got there as fast as I could? That’s me. After living in NYC and Maine with limited access to quality, lip-smacking Tex-Mex, I was thrilled to be in the midst of an overabundance of restaurants and taco stands offering, not one, but countless varieties of my very favorite foods.

With the release of Here Today, Gone Tamale--the first book in my Taste of Texas series-- I am excited to share the recipes for some of my very favorite Tex-Mex, and Texas, culinary delights. My favorite recipe in the book is definitely Uncle Eddie’s Favorite Chile Rellenos. I recently made this dish with a dear friend. We shopped at our local Mexican grocer, enjoying the process of choosing poblano peppers of just the right size and ripeness. The prep time spent roasting, peeling, stuffing, and sautéing the chiles flew by as we shared fond memories of other meals we’d prepared and enjoyed together. The end result? A delightful afternoon filled with scrumptious fare and heartwarming conversation.

I hope you’ll enjoy this savory dish with someone dear to your heart. May your coming year be filled with cozy mysteries, heartfelt conversation, and delicious food.

Uncle Eddie’s
Favorite Chile Rellenos

6 fresh ancho, pasilla or Anaheim chiles, or 1 (27 ounce)
        can poblano peppers or mild whole green chiles
½ pound Oaxaca cheese, thinly sliced
6 raw eggs (separated)
¼ cup flour
2 cups salsa verde
2 cups homestyle Mexican salsa
1 cup corn oil
Salt or Mexican seasoning to taste

Rinse the chilies. Preheat your oven to broil. Place the chiles
in a 9x14” baking dish and place on the top shelf of your oven.

Watch and listen closely. When the skins start to make popping
sounds and to char and turn black in places, take the
chiles out and flip them over. Be sure and use a potholder so
you don’t burn your hands!

When both sides are fairly evenly charred, remove them from
the oven. Wrap each chile in a moist paper towel or place in
a sealed plastic bag to steam. After a few minutes, check
them. Once the skin comes off easily, peel each chile.

Cut a slit almost the full length of each chile. Make a small
T across the top, by the stem. Pull out fibers and seeds (this
is where the heat is) and replace with a slice of cheese. You
can set these aside, for a few minutes or a few hours if you
put them in the refrigerator.

Heat the oil in a skillet until a drop of water sizzles when
dropped into the pan.

Whip the egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer,
until stiff peaks have formed. Beat the egg yolks with one
tablespoon flour and salt. Mix the yolks into egg whites and
stir until you have a thick paste.

Roll the chiles in the remaining flour and dip each one in the
egg batter. Coat evenly. Fry, seam side down on both sides
until golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain.

Meanwhile, heat the salsa in a medium saucepan (either one
or some of each). Place one or two rellenos on each plate and
pour salsa over them. Serve them immediately.


Fillings can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, then brought
to room temperature before stuffing chiles. Fillings should be at
room temperature or slightly chilled. If fillings are hot, the juices
will flow out and cause the coating to slide off. Use enough filling
to stuff each chile relleno as completely as possible, but not so much
that the seam won’t hold together.


I am giving away a copy of Here Today, Gone Tamale to one fan. 

Leave a comment with your email and tell me what was your favorite food growing up!

You can contact me at:
Twitter: @GinaLeeNelson 
or on Facebook

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Welcome guest author Gigi Pandian!

Two for One! Recipes from Guest Author Gigi Pandian (Green Smoothie) and Her Character Jaya Jones (Jazzing Up Steamed Greens)

Gigi Pandian writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series. The first book in the series, ARTIFACT, was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant and is now available from Henery Press []. Gigi is thrilled to announce that just this month she sold a new mystery series to Midnight Ink in a three-book deal -- and she’s especially excited that in the new series she gets to share her passion for cooking delectable vegan food!  THE ACCIDENTAL ALCHEMIST is the first in a new mystery series about a vegan alchemist and her French chef sidekick -- who happens to be a gargoyle accidentally brought to life by a stage magician.

One of the funny things about being a writer is that readers frequently confuse us with our characters. I’m six feet tall in heels, and my character Jaya Jones is five feet tall in socks, so readers who’ve seen me in person have been known to comment: “but you’re not short!” Jaya and I do share some things in common. We both have one parent from India and we both love savoring delicious food. However, we have different favorite tasty foods we like to eat. So today I’m sharing one of my favorite snacks and one of Jaya’s.

Jaya Jones is a history professor in San Francisco. She’s often on a treasure hunt in an exotic destination, so she eats whatever tasty treats she can grab on the go. As for me, I’ve been a health nut ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36. I was never a big cook before, but after learning I had food restrictions, I gave it a shot. Oh my goodness, cooking at home is so much fun! Why wasn’t I told??? And even better than the fun of cooking, I’ve learned that the food you cook for yourself is more delicious than anything you can get at a restaurant, because you can prepare it exactly as you like it.  In the past two years, I’ve gone from eating out 75 percent of the time to cooking from scratch 99 percent of the time. And I feel amazing.

Here’s my recipe for my favorite green smoothie that I have for a light breakfast or a snack. If you’re not into the idea of smoothies with vegetables in them, you might be rolling your eyes around now. But stick with me for a minute! I’ve got some tricks to create a healthy smoothie that’s just as mouthwatering as it is good for you.

Gigi’s Favorite Green Smoothie Recipe (makes 2 servings)

Blend the following ingredients together in a blender:
Half an Avocado
1 Pear
Kale – 4 leaves or to taste
1 Cucumber
Knob of fresh ginger, to taste
Unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao nibs – 2 Tbsp or to taste
Optional added protein, such as hemp seeds
Filtered water – 1 cup or more, depending on how thick you want your smoothie

Tricks to sweeten this up, if you’re new to green smoothies:
*Use coconut water instead of regular water.
*Add a little bit of a natural sweetener, such as honey.
*Use frozen broccoli instead of kale – frozen broccoli has a natural sweetness!

The natural sweetness of the pear, the spicy kick of the ginger, and the chocolaty goodness of the unsweetened cocoa make for a delicious treat that’s like a healthy chocolate milkshake! OK, it’ll probably take a while before it tastes like a milkshake to you... But it’s still a delicious treat!

NOTE: if you use cocoa powder rather than cacao nibs, your “green” smoothie will turn brown, looking a bit like a chocolate milkshake. It’s just as tasty, and even tastier if you prefer a creamy consistency.

Next up, here’s how Jaya Jones jazzes up boring foods. Since Jaya doesn’t cook, this is a “trick” rather than a full recipe. She never has very much in her kitchen, but always has good coffee in the cupboard and lots of this Indian condiment in the fridge.

The Jaya Jones Secret to Jazzing Up Your Greens

Have a boiled or steamed vegetable that you were planning on dousing with butter and salt? Try adding Indian pickle instead.

Indian pickle is a spicy condiment that comes in a range of flavors from mango to lime to garlic. The fruits or vegetables are packed in oil with chili peppers and other spices like turmeric. The combo of a little bit of oil and a lot of flavor make simple steamed greens taste more like a flavorful Indian curry than a throw-away side dish.

In the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series I describe the foods in the different parts of the world where the books take place, but in my new series I’m happy I get to feature food even more, including some of the vegan recipes I’ve come up with since throwing myself into learning how to cook from scratch.

Learn more about Gigi at

Sign up for Gigi’s newsletter [
] and you’ll also receive an exclusive Halloween-themed Jaya Jones short story this October!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Avery’s Favorite Scones

Congrats to last week’s winner, Sally Minyard. She won a $25 Williams-Sonoma gift certificate! We have a new winner, who will be announced this coming Saturday.

So, dear readers, we’ve been blogging now for nearly six weeks and we have covered everything from pork roast to frappacinos and antipasto platters to the best way to prepare asparagus. If you scour our archives, I’m sure you can put an amazing meal together.

What we haven’t covered is afternoon tea. For cozy readers, this is a must. There’s one character in my new Cheese Mystery series, Lois [she is NOT my protagonist...I thought I'd introduce you to a few characters along the way.] Lois owns the Lavender and Lace Bed & Breakfast. She’s a tea cup collector, and every afternoon she serves high tea. With her scones, she likes to serve a little jam and a wedge of cheese. There’s nothing as decadent in the afternoon as having a scone slathered with jam and a nip of cheese.

For this particular tea plate, I chose a fabulous boysenberry jam and a wedge of Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese.

It’s smooth and nutty, with flavors like a good Camembert. The Cowgirl Creamery is located in Pt Reyes Station, California. For over a decade, they have been furthering the fine art of artisanal cheesemaking. If I might quote from their website: “They started with an old barn,made it beautiful, put in a small plant for making hand-crafted cheese…” And the rest is history. Check out their website: Cowgirl Creamery

Now...being the nice person I am, I decided to lend my quirky fictional Lois my favorite scone recipe, and get this (all of you who are celiacs), it’s gluten-free. [*Note: I often use Pamela’s Gluten-free products as my base. For this recipe. I tweaked her scone recipe to give it an extra richness that is melt-in-your-mouth yummy.]



2 1/4 cup Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
4 Tbs. butter, cold
1/3 cup 1%milk
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup raisins
1 egg, extra-large, beaten


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the Pamela’s mix, baking powder, and sugar together. Cut in the butter, using a knife and fork, making sure the butter is still cold. It’ll form small pea-sized balls. Add milk, cream, and eggs, stirring briskly until all incorporated. Add the raisins.

Drop by large spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet. Makes 9 good-sized scones.

Bake for 14-17 minutes, checking at 14 because you DON’T want the bottoms of the scones to burn.

So this afternoon, grab a good mystery, make yourself a cup of your favorite tea, and enjoy a delicious scone! Major comfort food!

And if you like, visit my website: and sign up for my newsletter with recipes and tips and a recurring column about the history of cheese.

Lastly, don’t forget to check back for our next Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest, coming soon. This last week's winner of the $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma will be announced Saturday!

Smile and Say Cheese!

Monday, August 3, 2009


We have a WINNER for our first Mystery Lovers Kitchen contest! Carol Noreen, from Wisconsin, has won the $25 gift certificate to Williams- Sonoma. Congratulations, Carol! To all our fans, we hope you'll continue to be fans, read the blog, and send us your comments. Sign up for this week's contest. There's always another chance to WIN!

Now...for today's blog from Avery:

Charlotte Bessette, the cheese monger in The Cheese Shop Mysteries, the first of which will come out from Berkley Prime Crime next year, loves bread and cheese.

For a quick bite, she’ll throw together a piece of good crusty French bread, swathe the bread in her favorite jam (try Dalmatia Fig), and add a slice of her favorite cheese. Easy and delicious.

However, on days when she has a little more time and she’s willing to go for the guilty pleasure, she’ll make grilled cheese. Not just any grilled cheese, mind you--you know the kind I mean, with one little slice of American cheese. No, she makes a crunchy sandwich made with three different kinds of cheese and coated in grated Parmesan. Charlotte will tell you, and so will I, that it is melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious. Add a side of fresh fruit and you have a feast for your eyes as well as your stomach. This meal also makes a great dinner for kids!

Here’s how Charlotte does it.


Heat stove-top griddle.


2 slices of your favorite bread
Garlic powder
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 oz. American cheese
1 oz. favorite cheddar (Charlotte uses Collier’s Welsh Cheddar)
1 oz. of Taleggio


Butter the bread.
Press grated parmesan onto the butter.
Sprinkle with garlic and paprika, to taste.
Lay each side down on the hot griddle. [This is the trick, getting both pieces of bread heated at the same time. *Note* Turn the griddle to low when you put bread on.]
Place 1 oz. slice of American cheese and 1 oz. of favorite cheddar on one slice. Place 1 oz. of Taleggio on the other slice.
Let all melt on low for 2-3 minutes. Lift one bread and cheese and place face down on the other side.
Let melt as a put-together sandwich another minute, flip sandwich and melt for one more minute.

Crunchy and melt in your mouth yummy!

For more about Charlotte’s favorite cheeses, take a look at my website: Every month, I’ll be featuring a cheese of the month. This month, it’s all about Taleggio!

Final Reminder: Don't forget to enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to We announce the winners right here every week.
Best to all!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Our First Guest Blogger - Sheila Connolly

Today we would like to welcome our first guest blogger, Sheila Connolly. Sheila has taught art history, structured and marketed municipal bonds for major cities, worked as a staff member on two statewide political campaigns, and served as a fundraiser for several non-profit organizations. She also managed her own consulting company providing genealogical research services. Now a full-time writer, she thinks writing mysteries is a lot more fun than any of her previous occupations. Currently she writes two mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime. Her Through a Glass, Deadly (March 2008, under the name Sarah Atwell) was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel; Pane of Death followed in November 2008, and Snake in the Glass in September 2009. Under her own name, her Orchard Mystery Series debuted in 2008 with One Bad Apple. The sequel, Rotten to the Core, came out in July 2009.

For today’s blog, we posed a few fun questions to Sheila.

Name three things in your refrigerator right now.

Butter (three kinds), cream (a quart), and duck fat.

Do you cook or are you a take-out queen?

I love to cook and to try new recipes. Besides, there's no place in this town that I live in with decent take-out (even the Chinese is terrible).

What three living people would you invite to a dinner party?

Meryl Streep, Hilary Clinton, and Nevada Barr.

What three mystery characters would you invite to a dinner party?

Harriet Vane, Kinsey Milhone, and Miss Marple.

What's a typical weeknight dinner at your house?

There is no typical–my daughter, who is currently living with us, doesn't get home from work until eight some nights, so the schedule is kind of erratic. My husband and I have usually alternated nights cooking. He prefers a short list of dependable dishes, I experiment a lot. Also, he's a scientist and wants specific measurement, while I taste and fiddle with recipes as I go.

You’re adding a restaurant into your Apple Orchard series. Why?

The series is based on a real house in a real town in western Massachusetts, where I spend a lot of time (in fact, it inspired the book). However, there is nowhere to eat there! So I decided to make them a gift of a local-food restaurant, started by a pair of starry-eyed young cooks from Boston, who of course run into problems–like a body.

What is the appeal of food in a book about an orchard owner?

My heroine Meg Corey is so busy trying to learn how to manage an orchard (not to mention solving murders) that she has little time to cook. But she's producing a food crop, so she has to think about how it's going to be used, and how to market her apples. Besides, there are hundreds of wonderful apple recipes, both old and new, and it's fun to share them.

Is your heroine a good cook or is she going to look around town for someone to feed her curiosity?

She knows good food when she tastes it. She helps work out the business side of opening the new restaurant, because she's really looking forward to having someplace to eat in town.

You’ve come up with a wonderful cupcake recipe, I hear. Tell us about your journey to finding this recipe?

When I decided to create this fictional restaurant, and to give it a local-food orientation, of course I had to talk to chefs and taste a lot of dishes. The executive chef at Trattoria Tomasso near here was kind enough to spend time with me and explain how he obtains his supplies and plans his menus. He also gave me a tour of the kitchen, showing me how things really work behind the scenes in a restaurant. The last time I ate there I had a wonderful cheesecake tart made with local goat cheese, and I wanted to replicate it. Actually it's very simple to make (although his is a bit more elegant).


1/2 cup crumbled sugar cookies (homemade or store-bought)
1/4 cup finely-chopped hazelnuts
1 Tblsp plus 1 tsp sugar
3 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 8-oz package cream cheese at room temperature
8 oz. goat cheese of your choice (as bland or as tangy as you like)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

Combine cookie crumbs, hazelnuts and sugar, then stir in melted butter. Press one tablespoon of the crumb mixture firmly in the bottom of each lined cup (the bottom of a glass works well for this). Bake until set, about 7 minutes.

Lower temperature to 275 degrees. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and goat cheese until smooth. Gradually add sugar, followed by vanilla. Beat until well combined, about 3 minutes. Drizzle in eggs, slowly, stopping often to scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in sour cream and salt.

Pour batter into lined cups, filling almost to very top. Bake for 20-22 minutes (rotate in oven once). Cool completely on wire racks. Refrigerate in tins at least 4 hours, or overnight. Makes one dozen.

At the restaurant the chef drizzled a little honey over the top, which adds some sweetness. A dash of seedless raspberry jam or syrup would add color and have the same effect.
Best to all!

Thank you, Sheila, for sharing a wonderful recipe and great answers.

And to all our fans, don't forget to enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The first week contest ended last night at midnight. Week TWO starts today. The winner for week ONE will be announced...(cue suspenseful music)...tomorrow! Hope you'll all check it out. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to