Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Welcome guest author Molly MacRae!

The Boston Globe says Molly MacRae writes “murder with a dose of drollery.” She’s the author of the award-winning Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries, published by Penguin/NAL. Molly’s short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine since 1990. After twenty years in northeast Tennessee, Molly lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois.

Take it away, Molly!

A Lentil Salad to Make You Stand Up and Cheer

If you’re old enough to remember lentil salads of the health-conscious 70s, 80s, and 90s, then you’re probably backing away from this blog right now. The lentil salads I remember from that era were so . . . well-intentioned. People were on the right track, but it was a narrow track that didn’t go anywhere exciting. That’s always bothered me, because I like lentils. I love the peppery smell when they’re simmering on the stove. For years I’ve felt sure that someone, somewhere, could lift lentil salad out  
of the doldrums.

Enter Melody Gresham, owner of Mel’s on Main, the best (the only) café in Blue Plum Tennessee in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Mel tackled the problem of the namby-pamby lentil salad the way she tackles any difficult problem – with her spiked hair rampant and chef’s knife in hand. The lentil salad Mel wrestled to the ground is full of bright flavors and a toothsome mix of textures. Her salad makes a great main course for vegetarians and can be vegan if you omit the feta cheese. Mel took on the lentil salad and she won. And although you can’t go to Mel’s on Main to give it a try, you can make her salad easily enough at home. Here’s the recipe.



1 ½ cups brown or green lentils
2 small waxy potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
3 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Half a medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
6 radishes, sliced in thin rounds
Half a small red onion, finely diced (½ to ¾ cup)
Large handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
Large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lime (1 ½ tablespoons)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Black pepper
2 avocados, cubed or sliced

Rinse the lentils and put them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Drain and spread on a baking sheet to cool.

Put the potatoes on a rimmed backing sheet, drizzle with ½ tablespoon of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven until tender and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Cool.

Combine the cooled lentils, potatoes, cucumber, radishes, onion, mint, parsley, and feta in a salad bowl. Add the lime juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1teaspoon salt and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Toss well. Top with avocado and serve.


Do you have memories of lackluster health foods from years gone by? Can you think of a recipe you’d like Mel to tackle and give more punch? Leave your answer – and your email – in a comment for a chance to win a copy of one of the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. Each book has two recipes and a knitting pattern. 

You can find out more about Molly at You can find her blogging on the first and on the 23rd of each month at
Monday of each month at

Follow Molly on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter @mollymacrae1

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Grilled Avocado and Cheese Sandwich, from author @DarylWoodGerber

Savory, tasty, zesty. Sometimes that is what is called for when I'm hungry. Not sweet. And there is nothing more savory than a grilled cheese with bacon. Now if you add all the other good things you like into it - like avocado!!! I adore avocado!! -- it's a meal. Lunch, brunch, or dinner. I'll take this any time I can get it.

Need I say more? 


Oh, okay, I'm busy. Aren't we all? I've got a book due. (Don't I always?) And as if I'm not busy enough, I talked my husband into writing his memoirs, so we've been taping his stories, an hour at a time, and I've been transcribing them, which takes about 2-3 hours each. It's wonderful hearing all his old stories, but I'm exhausted from the typing, so I needed something easy, satisfying, savory to eat.

Hence...grilled cheese.

By the way, for this one I used a wonderful white cheddar from England. It has a bite to it and lots of grit in the cheese. Truly remarkable! But use whatever cheese you like. It's the bacon and avocado that make it spectacular.


Grilled Cheese with Avocado and Bacon
(Makes 2 sandwiches)

4 slices bread
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cream cheese
6 ounces white cheddar cheese
12 thin slices avocado
4 slices bacon, cooked crisply, cut in half

Butter each slice of bread on one side. Spread the cream cheese on the other side of the bread. [Note: This is the inside of the sandwich; the butter side is the outside.]

To assemble: Top two slices of bread, cream cheese side up, with half the avocado. Place cheddar cheese on top. Place 4 halves of crisp bacon on the cheese. Top with more avocado. Set the other slices of bread on top of the two sandwiches and press slightly.

If cooking on a stovetop: Heat a large skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Set the sandwiches on the skillet and cook for 4 minutes, until golden brown. Flip the sandwiches, using a spatula and being careful not to lose the avocado and other goodies. Cook another 2-4 minutes. You can compress the sandwich with the spatula. Turn the sandwich one more time. Press down with the spatula, and remove from the pan. Let cool about 2-3 minutes, and serve.

If cooking on a panini or sandwich maker: Set the sandwich on the griddle and slowly lower the top. Cook for a total of 4 minutes. Remove from the griddle and let cool 2-3 minutes, then serve. Beware, the insides might ooze out the sides. If the lid is too heavy, you might want to consider resorting to the stovetop method.


Friend Daryl on Facebook
Friend Avery on Facebook
Follow Daryl on Twitter
Follow Avery on Twitter
Follow both of us on Pinterest
Check out our website.

order here

FUDGING THE BOOKS, the next Cookbook Nook Mystery, is available for order: order here.

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

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Welcome our guest, Connie Archer

Please welcome our guest author 
Connie Archer! 

Connie is the national bestselling author of A Spoonful of Murder, the first in the soup lover’s mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime.  A Broth of Betrayal was just released on April 2, 2013.  Connie was born and raised in New England.  She now lives with her family on the other coast. Visit her website and blog at 
Twitter:  @snowflakeVT

 * * *
Thanks so much to the authors of Mystery Lover’s Kitchen for inviting me to their blog.  I’m thrilled to be a contributor, but I have a confession to make.  When I was a young newlywed, I was completely hopeless in the kitchen.  For one thing, my mother, for all her virtues, had no interest in the domestic arts.  In her defense, it was an era of prepackaged frozen vegetables that one dipped into boiling water to heat.  To make matters worse, my Dad believed in eating only unadulterated beef – roasts, steaks, hamburgers, sans breadcrumbs or any additives that might lighten up all that mammal flesh.  On my own as a college student, I ate anything and everything that was quick, cheap, instant and preferably free. 

When I say I was hopeless, I’m not exaggerating.  I hadn’t a clue what uncooked spinach looked like and if the supermarket hadn’t placed its signs just so, I was lost.  I knew spinach was dark green and mushy, but I could just as easily have purchased parsley by mistake.  Besides, raw spinach looks nothing like the stuff in those plastic pouches.  I was flummoxed by parsnips and leeks.  What the heck are those things?  I’ve never seen them before!

So when I found myself at home all day with an infant, I figured it was high time to give cooking a try.  After all, somebody in the family had to do it.  I bought a cookbook and summoning my courage, embarked on my first attempt -- beef stew.  Sounds simple, right?  Not for me.  When the list of ingredients called for a bay leaf (What in heaven’s name is a bay leaf?) and Worcestershire sauce, believe me, I needed help. 

As the years went by, I can humbly say, I eventually became a fairly decent cook, but even so, the concept of soup still eluded me.  I was sure making soup had to be the most difficult and esoteric accomplishment.  Then somewhere along the way, maybe by reading that cookbook (hello!), it finally dawned on me that nothing could be simpler – as simple in fact as chopping up whatever might be in the vegetable drawer and adding broth or meat and spices.  I was off and running.  From that point on, I couldn’t stop.  Each concoction produced a new and unique bowl that I tested (ad nauseum) on my family.  Now, of course, I love making soups and inventing new recipes. 

Then, through a series of twists and turns, I found myself writing a mystery series about a soup shop with an expert and creative chef to whom I could attribute some of my more successful experiments.  When I told one of my daughters about the series, she said, “Mom, that is so perfect!  You are the soup lady.” 

In deference to the season, not to mention the flu season, here’s one of my favorites -- a simple soup, but loaded with vitamin C and guaranteed to alleviate, if not cure, cold and flu symptoms. 

Tomato Basil Soup

1 tbl. vegetable oil
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 ½ to 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth or chicken bouillon
1 tbl. brown sugar
fresh basil (10-12 leaves)
1 tbl. grated orange peel
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in vegetable oil for a few minutes until softened. 

Chop the tomatoes into small pieces and add to the pot with the chicken broth. 

Add the orange zest and brown sugar.  Stir and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes until the ingredients are cooked.  Puree the mixture with a wand or in a blender.  Add 10 to 12 freshly torn basil leaves to the pot.  Simmer a few more minutes, add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and garnish each bowl with a fresh basil leaf.

Serves 4. 


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pineapple Crush

I saw this fun drink in a Sunset Magazine and had to try. With a little creativity in the kitchen, this is a great way to "wake up your water," as the article in Sunset said.

Pineapple Mint Crush

Put 1/3 cup pineapple chunks (chopped up fine) and 4 large mint leaves in a large cocktail shaker. Add 1 tbs. water. Mash well with a muddler. Stir in 2 cups cold sparkling or still water, then strain into an ice-filled glass.  Serves 1


Number one, I couldn't get my cocktail shaker to open. It's never been used. I gave it to my husband as a gag gift back when I gave him everything "James Bond" for a Christmas gift. Silly but fun. So I had to improvise. I used a measuring cup. 
I didn't have a muddler.  Don't even know what it is. But I figured it muddled something. So I tried a meat tenderizer. Didn't work. Too big and too flat. Then tried an ice cream scoop. Worked!

I used a sieve (since I couldn't use the strainer on the cocktail shaker). Worked fine.

I tasted the drink and it was nice, but I like my drinks sweet. So I added a Sweet 'n Lo. I'm sure you could add sugar or simple syrup.  

Here's a recipe for that.

3 parts water to 1 part sugar

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the cold water and sugar to a boil. Turn the heat to low and stir, approximately three minutes.  Note: the longer you boil the mixture, the thicker the syrup will become.

Delish and refreshing. Any time of the year. And so pretty!

Now, what was really cool, is I still had some muddled pineapple and mint leftover. So I added it to some grilled salmon for dinner and it was fabulous!  How easy is that?!!!



REMINDER: To save this recipe (and any that are posted on MLK,  click the Print Friendly button below 

(it looks like this but don't hit this one).  Choose PDF to print. 

* * * * *
The 4th in A Cheese Shop Mystery series: 

You can pre-order the book HERE. 

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 the mailing list
 so you can learn about upcoming events, releases, and contests!

Also, you probably know about my alter ego.
Daryl's new series: A COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERY series
debuts July 2013

"Like" Daryl's page on Facebook and "follow" Daryl on Twitter.
"She" doesn't say all the same things "Avery" does. Promise.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST...okay, maybe least...:)

I'm pleased to announce that my short story, PALACE ON THE LAKE, 
in Fish Tales: A Guppy Anthology has been nominated for both
the Anthony Award and Macavity Award. 
Go Sisters in Crime Guppies! 
Without the Guppies, my career would not be on the right track.
The group support is invaluable!
You can read PALACE ON THE LAKE by clicking on the title above. :)

Say cheese!