Showing posts with label giveaway. Show all posts
Showing posts with label giveaway. Show all posts

Friday, March 17, 2017

Guest Fran Stewart

Please welcome Fran Stewart to MLK. She writes about a Scottish-themed shop in Vermont, and though it's Saint Patrick's Day today, we won't hold it against her. She's giving us a recipe that is both easy and fun. Plus a giveaway!




Why would anyone wonder why I write not one, but TWO mystery series with a protagonist who either can’t or doesn’t like to cook? Isn’t it obvious?

Peggy Winn in the ScotShop series likes to eat the leftovers from her friend Karaline’s restaurant. Biscuit, the librarian in the Biscuit McKee series, cooks three things – soups, bread, and cookies. Anything else is the responsibility of Bob, her ever-patient husband.

Those two characters just about sum me up. I can’t imagine how much trouble I’d have writing a series if I had to come up with recipes for each book.

That said, I do have a recipe for you, but you’ll have to improvise a lot, since it’s based to a large extent on what was in my cupboard one particular day.

I loved the moment I discovered crockpots. I can throw a whole bunch of ingredients in there in the morning, let it simmer all day long, and have a number of meals to chomp on (like about five of them – supper this evening, lunch and supper for the next two days).

I can hear you asking – “What!!!! Eat the same thing three days in a row?!!!!”

Well, yes. Food is not a high priority for me (as I’m sure you already figured out). If you don’t want to duplicate menus, feel free to freeze meal-sized batches for later.

Now, I do admit that sometimes the crazy combinations I put together end up being, shall we say, less than satisfying. Since I hardly ever cook for company, though, I don’t have to worry about it. I’m someone who can make a complete meal out of fresh homemade bread and creamy butter, along with hunks of cheese and good strong tea. Throw in some soup (even if it tastes a little weird), and the meal is even better.


So, here’s the way my throw-together soup happens:
1. Crockpot, dribbled with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to keep things from sticking.

2. Layer the bottom with a cup of rice (preferably brown) uncooked.

3. Dump an entire undrained can of Italian-cut green beans on top of the rice.

4. Add an undrained can of light red kidney beans (You can use the dark red, but they turn the rice sort of muddy looking. Not too appetizing unless you’re eating by candlelight.) If you’d rather, you can soak dried kidney beans overnight and add them during this step.

5. Chop up a smallish dill pickle and add it on top of the kidney beans. Why, you ask? Why not?

6. Sprinkle with a generous amount of pepper. At this point, I usually throw in some sort of herb or spice. The last soup I put together had a couple of teaspoons of mustard seed. I’ve also been known to add a little cumin and a fair amount of ginger.

7. Chop up some chicken (cooked or uncooked) or fresh salmon and layer the pieces over the rice and such. If you don’t want to chop, four to six drumsticks work just fine.

8. Add another layer of rice – if you make it wild rice, it’ll add a nutty consistency that’s delicious – and one more can of green beans. You could use the French-cut beans, but they’re a little harder to eat without dribbling. Once I used a can of each, and it just looked messy, so now I stick to the stubby Italian-cut version.

8. Top with four or five pieces of pickled okra, sliced thinly.

9. Add enough water to make it sort of soupy.

Cook on high from 4 to 6 hours (or on low overnight). You may need to add more water halfway through.

I almost never add salt – but you might want to in step #6 if you’re a “salty” kind of person.

That’s it. Simple. Quick. Tasty (we hope).


Fran will be giving away one copy of her book to one lucky reader who leaves a comment!


About the book:

The annual Highland Festival in Hamelin, Vermont, means caber tossing, sword dancing, and just a spot of murder...

Hamelin is overflowing with tourists enjoying the Scottish-themed games—and most of them are donning tartans from Peggy Winn’s ScotShop. And her fourteenth-century ghostly companion, Dirk, has been indispensable, keeping an eye out for shoplifters and matching customer’s family names to their clan plaid.

Adding to the chaos is Big Willie, a longtime champion of the games, but not everyone is happy to have him in town. So when he misses the first event of the weekend, Peggy senses something is awry. After Willie is discovered dead in his hotel room, the victim of a bagpipe-related crime, Peggy decides it’s up to her and Dirk to suss out a murderer—because another death would really blow... 






Find A Wee Homicide in the Hotel at:

Amazon
AmazonSmile
iBooks
Books a Million
Books a Million


About Fran:

Hoping to be judged on her writing ability and not on her cooking ability, Fran is the national best-selling author of fourteen books, including the Biscuit McKee mystery series (seven books so far) and the ScotShop mystery trilogy; as well as a standalone mystery A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT; and FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN: a workbook for writers, written to help emerging writers use the English language more effectively. She lives and writes quietly beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, after having moved repeatedly from her birth through her fourth decade. The small fictional towns she writes about embody the hometown she always wanted—except for the murders.





Friday, March 10, 2017

Pear and Ginger Crumble

What, no cake? Well, it's still a dessert. One must be careful of withdrawal symptoms.



I found this recipe in a recent newspaper, and immediately I started tweaking. Hmm, pears and ginger—that sounds promising. Kinda early in the year for juicy fresh pears, but whatever—there are plenty of pears in the market. I like ginger. I have plenty.

The original recipe called for chopped nuts. I'm not wild about nuts, and I didn't like the combination of nuts suggested with the pear and other flavors. Axe the nuts. I swapped in candied ginger, which I do like. Adds an interesting texture to the crumble on top.

The suggested oven setting of 375 degrees seemed a little high—the top gets brown long before the pears get soft. I cut it down to 350 degrees and baked it longer.


Pear-Ginger Crumble

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-square baking pan (or any pan which would hold the same amount—a ten-inch round pan would do).

Crumb Topping



1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
5 Tblsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped into 1/4-inch bits

In a bowl, whisk the flour, granulated and brown sugars, salt, and nutmeg to blend them. Add the butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the diced ginger and toss to combine.



Pear Filling

6 pears (enough to make about 
five cups of filling), peeled, quartered,
cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tblsp lemon juice
2 Tblsp honey
1 Tblsp grated fresh ginger

In a bowl, combine the pears, orange and lemon juices, honey, and ginger and toss. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the crumbs.




Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the pears are tender. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.



Sure and it's not Saint Paddy's day yet, but here at MLK we'll be havin' a guest on the day next week, and my book's comin' out on Tuesday next, so I'd better be offerin' the giveaway to yiz now. Tell me what's your favorite Irish dish in a comment (with your email, más é do thoil é--that'd be "please") and I'll be drawing the name of the lucky winner out of a hat!


"Move over, Agatha Christie: a pub owner in County Cork fancies herself a young Miss Marple... A fine read in the classic style."
Kirkus Reviews

Snow is a rarity in Maura Donovan's small village in County Cork, Ireland, so she wasn't sure what to expect when a major snowstorm rolled in around Sullivan's Pub. But now she's stranded in a bar full of patrons—and a suspected killer in a long-ago murder.

Maura's been in Ireland less than a year and hasn't heard about the decades-old unsolved crime that took place nearby, let alone the infamous suspect, Diane Caldwell. But the locals have, and they're not happy to be trapped with her. Diane, meanwhile, seeks to set the record straight, asserting her innocence after all this time. And since no one is going anywhere in the storm, Maura encourages Diane to share her side of the story, which she'd never had a chance to do in court.

Over the next few hours, the informal court in Sullivan's reviews the facts and theories about the case—and comes to some surprising conclusions. But is it enough to convince the police to take a new look at an old case?

Find it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

www.sheilaconnolly.com


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Super Bowl Burger #recipe + book #giveaway from author @DarylWoodGerber



SUPER BOWL SUNDAY IS COMING!

From Daryl aka Avery:  It's just a few days until Super Bowl Sunday! Who will be watching? Do you watch for the commercials or the game or the half time show? 

I love the commercials with the Clydesdales and the Dalmatian. I hope they do better this year. Last year's were sort of a bust, don't you think? But the commercials that have a message, the ones where you say, "Aww," afterward, are great!

Or how about the ones where you laugh out loud? Will anyone forget the young boy dressed as Darth Vader trying to use the force to start his parents' car? If you don't recall, the parents, from the kitchen, click on the car. The kid leaps in the air he is so shocked! It's hysterical! 

However, no matter what,  on Super Bowl Sunday, I go for the food. Normally, I don't eat a lot of salty food.  But for Super Bowl, absolutely!  Nachos, chips, guacamole, wings. I'll even splurge and have a gluten-free beer.

And burgers. I love to barbecue, and though I know the country might be under snow, you can still do a great burger inside!

Today, I'm going to share an easy recipe for a cheddar cheese burger. Why with cheese?

Well, many of you know that I write the Cheese Shop Mysteries (as Avery James). Although there won't be any new books in the series (BIG SIGH), there are seven and I'm proud of them. So to celebrate the month that the Cheese Shop Mysteries used to come out - February - I'm offering a giveaway today. See below!

Cheddar Cheese Burger

(one serving)
6-8 ounces lean hamburger meat
1 ounce shredded Cheddar cheese (about ¼ cup)
1-2 teaspoons mixed herbs (I used basil, rosemary, thyme)
1-2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion (if desired)

Preheat the broiler.

In a medium bowl, mix the hamburger, cheese, herbs, and onions (if desired). On a chopping board, form the burger into a patty.

Set the burger on an oven-safe broil pan. Broil the burger to your liking. I like 3-4 minutes a side for medium rare; 5-6 minutes a side for medium.

Serve with a hearty red wine. A zinfandel will really match with the spicy flavors of the cheese without dominating.



Giveaway



I'm offering one commenter a choice of my Cheese Shop Mysteries. Just tell me what you enjoy about the Super Bowl. And if you don't watch it, that's okay. Tell me what you like about cheese!  Leave your email so I can contact you if you win. It can be a cryptic email. I'm a mystery author. I'll figure it out. I'll pick a winner before next week!

Savor the mystery!

Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous!

*
Friend Daryl and Avery on Facebook
Follow Daryl on Twitter
Follow Avery on Twitter
Follow both of us on Pinterest
Plus check out my website.


GRILLING THE SUBJECT, the 5th Cookbook Nook Mystery, is out!
The Wild West Extravaganza has come to Crystal Cove.
Click here to order.




FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE, the 7th Cheese Shop Mystery is out!
Finally there's going to be a cheese festival in Providence!
Click to order.




GIRL ON THE RUN, a stand-alone suspense is out!
When a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, 
Chessa Paxton must run for her life...but will the truth set her free? 
Click to order



















Sunday, December 18, 2016

Behind the Scenes with Shawn Reilly Simmons

We here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen are excited to welcome guest Shawn Reilly Simmons, who's giving us a sneak peek into cooking for the stars!




Thanks to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen and Sheila Connolly in particular for inviting me over to share today!



Like many of the authors who regularly contribute to this blog, I write culinary mysteries that are inspired by my time working in a kitchen. Where my experience deviates a bit is the last cooking job I had was working as part of the crew on a movie set. That "kitchen" was really a couple of trucks and tents, constantly on the move, setting up wherever principal filming was taking place on any particular day over a four month period.

My Red Carpet Catering mysteries take place behind the scenes on movie sets, and are told from the point of view of Penelope Sutherland, chef-owner of a theatrical catering crew. There are three books so far: Murder on a Silver Platter, Murder on the Half Shell, and Murder on a Designer Diet. I'm happy to report I've been signed on for three more, all published by Henery Press.


The days cooking on a movie set are long, and most of the work takes place outside. That can be nice on a pretty day, but can be challenging when it's raining or when you're chopping vegetables in sub-freezing temps in a cold tent. Those kinds of days it's good to be assigned to the grill in the mobile kitchen. But that's exactly where you don't want to be during the hottest days of summer. That's when the tent feels much nicer.

Our team cooked for roughly three hundred cast and crew, all of whom came to eat twice a day for either breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner. We cooked, prepped, cleaned, broke down, set up, and drove to different spots in Washington DC during the times in between. A typical shift was at least twelve hours, but more often ended up around sixteen, most of them on our feet.

Movie stars, and the people who work on the movies they star in, don't expect burgers and fries when they call dinner break. We prepared restaurant-quality food including roast salmon, prime rib, fresh vegetables and pasta, not to mention a massive salad bar that rivals any I've seen in a restaurant. But the most important thing was we had to have it ready on time, every time. Films are shot on a schedule with lots of people on the clock. You never want to be the one holding up production.

The catering crew accommodated special meal requests for those who adhered to special diets or had allergies. We threw a few parties for the cast and crew on Friday nights when the week was a wrap, and a long week of work was done. Overall my time as an on set caterer was fun, exhausting, educational, and rewarding. And it was definitely a unique experience I'll never forget.

And now I know how to throw a giant dinner party--even though I've never had the occasion since to cook for hundreds of people. Maybe someday...

In my most recent book, Murder on a Designer Diet, Penelope and her team serve s'mores after a particularly rough night on the set. Because it's awfully cold outside in real life, even too cold for an outdoor fire for me, here's an easy way to bring s'mores inside and give them a holiday twist.


Red Carpet Catering Holiday S'mores Bars

Ingredients:

A dozen graham crackers (smashed)
A stick (1/2C) melted & cooled butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups marshmallows (20 or so of the big ones)
3/4 cups dark chocolate chips
3/4 cups white chocolate chips
6 candy canes, smashed! (keep pieces relatively uniform, no large, jagged pieces-use a Ziploc to control the scattering of candy dust)



Preheat oven to 400F. Line an 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang for easy removal after baking.

Smash (I love smashing things) graham crackers in a Ziploc bag, pour into a medium-sized bowl. Stir in butter and brown sugar until well mixed, then press mixture into the bottom of your lined pan to form the crust.



Bake in the preheated oven until crust is lightly browned, about 6 minutes--don't let it get too dark!




Remove pan from oven and let cool a few minutes. Cover crust evenly with the dark chocolate chips. 




Layer marshmallows on top. Cover again with white chocolate chips, and your smashed candy canes. (Like you're making the world's sweetest lasagna!)

Pop it back in the oven until the chocolate is melted and the marshmallows are browned, 3-4 minutes depending on your oven. (Don't let it get too dark, again!)



Let s'mores rest in pan on a baking rack until cool, about 30 minutes (seriously, it will be like sweet lava in there, so be careful).

When it's totally cooled, pop your pan into the refrigerator until set, about 45 minutes. Remove and cut into squares. 




You can make this the day before and cover tightly with film if you're heading to a pot luck party.

I like to pair my s'mores with Knobby Chocolate (almond) Milk: 2C Almond Milk, 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips melted over low heat, then add a shot of Knob Creek (or your favorite bourbon) after you pull it off the stove. Happy Holidays!

And there's a holiday giveaway! 
I'll give a copy of Murder on a Designer Diet along with some holiday treats--peppermint bark & holiday tea. Just leave a comment below.



Shawn Reilly Simmons is the author of the Red Carpet Catering mysteries featuring Penelope Sutherland, an on-set movie caterer. Shawn is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and the Crime Writers' Association in the UK. She serves on the Board of Malice Domestic, and is an editor at Level Best Books, publisher of crime fiction anthologies including the Best New England Crime Stories. 

For more details, see http://www.shawnreillysimmons.com/




Friday, December 16, 2016

Irish Porter Cake

Porter cake is traditionally served around St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, or so say a lot of recipes. But when I was visiting Eileen Connolly—the Connolly who gave her name to Connolly’s of Leap, the model for Sullivan’s Pub in my books—I walked into her kitchen while she was baking a batch of loaves to give as Christmas gifts to friends. The room smelled wonderful, and she shared a warm loaf with me. What could be better? Sitting in the “real” pub with a hot-from-the-oven cake and a cuppa tea and talking with a friend about the business so I could write about it later? Perfect.



She wouldn’t part with the recipe, but her secret is to marinate the various raisins in Guinness overnight.

A lot of recipes call for candied fruit, which you’d find in a fruitcake. I can’t stand the stuff—and Eileen didn’t include any (maybe we’re related after all?)

The result is a soft, rich, dark cake, which if you warm it up a bit goes well with some butter. It’s not quite a fruit cake (everybody’s not-favorite loaf).


Irish Porter Cake (thank you, Eileen!)

Ingredients:


1-1/3 cups currants
2 cups raisins
2 cups golden raisins
1 bottle Guinness (assuming you don’t have a keg handy)

Soaking
Everything else

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup soft dark brown sugar

4 cups flour
spices (cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg) – at least a couple of teaspoons of each
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda
grated rind of one lemon
3 eggs, beaten together


Instructions:

Mix the currants, raisins and sultanas with the Guinness in a large bowl and let soak overnight.

On the day of baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drain the raisin mix well. Grease whatever pan(s) you're using (see below) and line with parchment paper.


Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.



Sift together the flour, spices, salt, baking soda and lemon rind. Gradually add the mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating with the eggs.




Mix the raisin mix into the batter by hand. Note: this will be stiff!



Spoon the mixture into a greased and lined 9" round cake pan, or 2 4 x 8-inch loaf pans (easier to give as gifts).



Bake in the preheated oven until a skewer comes out clean (start checking after an hour, but it may be a bit longer). Cool for 20 minutes in the pan before turning it out on a wire rack.



The cake’s flavor improves with age if you let it sit for a couple of days. Wrap with foil while still warm to keep moist.

And share with friends!



And now for the giveaway! I’d send you a loaf of the cake, but I don’t think it would survive the trip (besides, I’d have to admit to our nice post office employee that it’s perishable, right?). So instead I’m offering this very useful small jar to keep whatever you like it (pennies for your next holiday fund? spices? lost buttons?). Oh, all right, it's for cat treats--I'm just a bit biased, with three of the critters.




PLUS a copy of the latest of any of my series: A Turn for the Bad (County Cork Mysteries), Seeds of Deception (Orchard Mysteries) or Dead End Street (Museum Mysteries), in print or e-format. 









It was the lovely spicy smell of the porter cake that drew me into Eileen’s kitchen (and kept me there for an hour or more). What smell of baking means “holiday” to you? (Or if nobody in your house bakes, is there another scent that reaches you?) Leave a comment and I’ll draw a winner.

And happy holidays to you all! 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Gigi Pandian #Italian #recipe and #giveaway


Today our Mystery Lovers Kitchen welcomes Gigi Pandian with a new book featuring a cooking class and ghost stories in Italy—plus a recipe and a giveaway for a set of Gigi’s book-themed recipe cards with recipes from around the world!

GIGI PANDIAN: One of the best things about writing a cozy treasure hunt mystery series is that it gives me a perfect excuse to travel around the world and visit locations that aren’t the usual tourist spots. (Aberdeenshire, Scotland for Artifact. The southern tip of India for Pirate Vishnu. Nantes, France for Quicksand.) Venturing off the beaten path is great way to find the best local foods, with regional dishes that are often cooked by chefs who’ve lived in the area for generations.

The latest Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, Michelangelo’s Ghost, takes place in Italy’s fabled Renaissance garden, the Park of Monsters—a spooky sculpture garden located in the middle of the Italian countryside. It’s in between Rome and Florence and not easily reached by train, so most visitors are Italian, even though everyone with an interest in the mysterious would enjoy it. I traveled there to get the setting right for a present-day mystery involving a centuries-old ghost story. The sprawling sculpture garden, surrounded by a wild forest, was as otherworldly as I imagined.

The nearby villa where I stayed offered cooking classes. I was in Italy for research and writing, but how could I refuse an Italian cooking class taught by a local chef? Especially since the chef selected the seasonal dishes based on what looked good in his hilltop vegetable garden next to the thoroughly modern kitchen inside a medieval walled village.

The cooking class made it into an important scene in the book—although I must admit my own class wasn’t interrupted by devious bad-guys disguised as a ghost, so I had to improvise when I wrote the scene! This is fiction, after all. However, many of the dishes I describe in Michelangelo’s Ghost were recipes I ate in Italy.

In spite of several food restrictions, I ate wonderfully in Italy. After being diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, I completely changed the way I eat. I now eat close to a vegan diet, meaning one of the things I gave up was cheese—but there’s no need for sympathy! Over the last few years I’ve learned how to adapt recipes to turn them into healthier versions that are even tastier than what I ate before cancer, and also how to eat well while traveling. I brought the flavor of Italy home with me. Here’s one of my favorite easy Italian-style recipes I use regularly, because it’s both healthy and delicious.


RECIPE: DAIRY-FREE PARMESAN
 

A flavorful topping that takes 5 minutes to prepare and can be kept for weeks in a jar on the counter—though in my house it never lasts that long!

Ingredients
¾ cup roasted cashews
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp sea salt (more or less to taste)
½ tsp garlic powder (again, more or less to taste)


Directions
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is the consistency of grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle on top of Italian dishes for added flavor. My favorite use is to sprinkle on top of pasta dishes, and it works great on both tomato sauces and olive oil pasta tossed with garlic and roasted vegetables.

Leave a comment below to enter to win a set of six book-themed recipe cards, with Gigi’s recipes inspired by Scotland, India, France, the U.S., and Italy.

MICHELANGELO’S GHOST: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery

“This book has everything a mystery lover could ask for: ghostly presences, Italian aristocrats, jewel thieves, failed actors, sitar players, and magic tricks, not to mention dabs of authentic history and academic skullduggery.” 
 Publishers Weekly
A lost work of art linking India to the Italian Renaissance. A killer hiding behind a centuries-old ghost story. And a hidden treasure in Italy’s macabre sculpture garden known as the Park of Monsters… Can treasure-hunting historian Jaya Jones unmask a killer ghost?


USA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian spent her childhood being dragged around the world by her cultural anthropologist parents, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and a gargoyle who watches over their vegetable garden. Gigi writes the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mysteries, the Accidental Alchemist mysteries, and locked-room mystery short stories. Gigi’s fiction has been awarded the Malice Domestic Grant and Lefty Awards, and short-listed for Macavity and Agatha Awards.

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