Showing posts with label guest blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guest blogger. Show all posts

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Welcome Paige Shelton and Loaded Potato Chips

The Kitchen is delighted to welcome foodie mystery writer Paige Shelton to the blog today.  Paige is the author of the hugely popular Farmers' Market Mysteries and the Country Cooking School Mysteries.  

Thanks to everyone--the authors and the readers--at Mystery Lover’s Kitchen for letting me stop by today!

This recipe started out as a simple experiment: I wanted to figure out how to make baked potato chips. I love potato chips. Being more a “salt” person than a “sugar” person, I wondered if I could possibly create a “healthy” version of one of my favorite snacks – well, I should probably say a “less unhealthy” version, but I bet you get what I mean.

The experiments weren’t successful. I either burnt the “chips” or didn’t cook them thoroughly enough.
  I poured on too much salt or not enough. And, nothing I created really tasted all that good.  It was a bust. I still had a couple potatoes left over, though, so before I gave up completely, I opened the fridge and realized it was time to ditch the “less unhealthy” idea and just shoot for something that simply tasted good. It turned out to be a much better plan, and, basically, another take on the loaded baked or wedged potato.

This is a very flexible recipe, so following are guidelines more than specifics.

What you’ll need:
Baking sheet(s)
Potatoes, scrubbed clean
Vegetable Spray (I use Pam)
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
Shredded cheddar cheese
Bacon bits – I use Hormel Real Crumbled Bacon
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place foil on your baking sheet and spray with a liberal coat of vegetable spray.

Slice potatoes – it’s important to keep your slices all about the same diameter and thickness so they cook evenly. Don’t make the slices any thicker than about 1/8 inch, but you can also make them very thin if that’s your preference. My taste testers (husband and son) liked them best on the thicker side.

Place potato slices on the prepared foil and then spray with another coat of vegetable spray. 

Season with the Lawry’s – a little goes a long way. Even if you like salt, you might want to keep this pretty light.

Bake – to your desired consistency. Thin chips will get brown around the edges in about 7 – 10 minutes. Thicker ones will need around 20 minutes to get a little brown. I’ve never left them in a full 30 minutes. I thought crispy would be better, but my taste testers liked them best baked through but not crispy.

When they’re almost done (well, done enough to eat as is), take them out of the oven. Sprinkle a little cheese and a couple pieces of bacon bits on each potato. Place back in the oven for about 30 to 60 seconds until the cheese melts.

Serve immediately, with sour cream if desired. They go quickly. After I pulled the first successful batch out of the oven and left the kitchen for a second, the sheet was cleared by the time I returned.  Forks are needed. They seem like they should be finger food, but they really aren’t.

Of course, all potato toppings, other spices, other salts, will probably work as well, but we’re enjoying this combination so much that we haven’t tried others yet.


Thanks, again, for letting me stop by. Wishing you all happy reading and yummy eating.


* * *

Paige's second Country Cooking School Mystery, "If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance," will be released on October 2.  You can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indie Bound

Her next Farmers' Market Mystery, "A Killer Maize," will be out in December and is available for preorder now!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger Lorraine Bartlett

A great big MLK welcome to the lovely and talented Lorraine Bartlett, whose newest Victorian Square Mystery ("The Walled Flower") was released this month ... and became an instant bestseller!

All for the English Ivy Inn …

Katie Bonner, the protagonist in my Victoria Square Mysteries, is a frustrated hostess.  All her adult life, Katie’s longed to open a bed-and breakfast inn.  Not only did she collect bric-a-brac and furniture to make her potential guests feel at home, but she collected recipes for hearty breakfasts and sumptuous afternoon teas, too.

Katie grew up in a home where afternoon tea often replaced supper.  Her beloved and elderly Aunt Lizzie made scones two or three times a week, so it was a natural that Katie would include them on her proposed B&B menu.

Except for one tiny detail.  Katie never got to open her English Ivy Inn.  (Well, not yet.)  Her late husband invested their life savings in Artisans Alley, a fine arts and crafts arcade, a going concern quickly going downhill.  (Don’t worry, Katie will fix that!)

Katie hasn’t given up on her dream, and in fact has collected many of her own recipes and other from her Artisans Alley vendors and friends on Victoria Square.  (You can find them in Recipes to Die for: A Victoria Square Cookbook.)  Here’s her Aunt Lizzie’s favorite scone recipe.

2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
¾ cup cream or milk
1 egg
½ cup raisins, sultanas, or currants
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water

Preheat oven to 350º. Sift the dry ingredients together. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles crumbs. Beat the milk and whole egg together. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Add the raisins, stirring until well mixed. Sprinkle the flour over a flat surface. The dough will be rather wet and will absorb the flour. Briefly knead the dough (once or twice) and pat down until the dough is ¾-inch thick. Cut out the scones with a biscuit cutter and place on a greased cookie sheet. Beat the egg yolk with the cold water. Brush glaze over the scones. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot or cold with butter or clotted cream and jam.

Yield: 10-12 scones.

Until Katie’s luck (and financial situation) changes, she’s stuck at Artisans Alley, where murder and mayhem seem to break out at regular intervals.  Her latest adventure (Victroria Square #2) is hot off the press.  It’s called The Walled Flower.  I hope you’ll give it try.  (P.S.  There are recipes at the back of it, too!)


Lorraine Bartlett must be absolutely crazy. Why else would she write three different mystery series? In addition to the Victoria Square Mysteries, she writes the Jeff Resnick Mysteries as L.L. Bartlett, and the New York Times bestselling, Agatha-nominated Booktown Mysteries under the name Lorna Barrett.

You can find THE WALLED FLOWER at most bookstores and online. Please visit Lorraine’s website ( or her Dazed and Confused blog:  You can also find Lorraine (and her many alter egos) at and

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Guest Blogger: J.J. Murphy!

Hello, friends, and Happy New Year!  Please join me in welcoming the wildly cool and enviably brilliant J.J. Murphy to the Kitchen ... J.J.'s Algonquin Round Table Mystery series launched last January with Murder Your Darlings.  The most recent, You Might as Well Die, came out last month.  They're delightful must-reads for cozy fans as well as lovers of historical fiction, traditional mysteries, and generally clever prose.

Potent Potables from Prohibition

You know Dorothy Parker, don’t you? Even if you don’t, you probably do. She was a writer, poet and critic who came to fame in New York in the 1920s. Nowadays, she’s better known for her wisecracks than her writing, such as, “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses” and “That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say No in any of them.” She was one of the few women members of the Algonquin Round Table—a group of critics, writers and wits who traded quips and insults over lunch every day at the Algonquin Hotel. “It was the 20s,” Dorothy said, and “we had to be smarty.”

She was a thinker and a drinker. (And in my Algonquin Round Table Mystery series, she is also an amateur detective.) You may have heard this little rhyme, attributed to her:

I love a martini—
But two at the most.
Three, I’m under the table.
Four, I’m under the host.

Robert Benchley, Dorothy’s dear friend and another member of the Algonquin Round Table, also loved a martini. He’s known for this famous line: “Why don’t you get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?” Good idea, Mr. Benchley! To that end, here’s the recipe for a classic martini. Take note that it’s only 3 ounces of liquid, compared to the 7-ounce or mammoth 10-ounce cocktails that bartenders serve today. That’s how they did it back then. It was small enough that the drink stayed chilled until you finished it.

Classic Martini

2 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 green olive or lemon twist for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker half filled with ice cubes. Stir or shake for one minute. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the olive or lemon twist.

Dorothy Parker also wrote:

Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

You don’t need an event like New Year’s to enjoy Champagne or sparkling wine. Any night can be worthy of some bubbly. Try this flavorful twist on Champagne:

Champagne Cocktail

1 sugar cube
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Lemon twist

Drop the sugar cube into a champagne glass and soak it with the bitters. Fill the rest of the glass with champagne. Garnish with the lemon twist. Option: add an ounce of cognac.

Alexander Woollcott, an acerbic member of the Round Table and the role model for the title character in the play “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” tried to take credit for the Brandy Alexander cocktail. He liked to say, "All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening."  This cocktail satisfied just about all those requirements during the Prohibition era:

Brandy Alexander

1 1/2 oz brandy
1 oz creme de cacao (brown or dark)
1 oz half-and-half
1/4 tsp grated (or ground) nutmeg

Shake the liquid ingredients together in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice cubes. Strain it into a cocktail glass or small brandy snifter. Garnish with the nutmeg.

Cheers to 2012!

In YOU MIGHT AS WELL DIE, J.J. Murphy’s latest Algonquin Round Table Mystery, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley try to figure out why a second-rate illustrator jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge. Meanwhile, they’re busy scrounging up enough money to pay off their bar tab at their favorite speakeasy—and debunking Halloween séances with Harry Houdini.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stuff This! with Guest Blogger Diane Kelly

Hi all ... please join me in welcoming Diane Kelly, author of the brand new Death and Taxes humorous mystery series featuring Tara Holloway.  Diane and I go way back (before either one of us could claim "published" status), and I was actually fortunate enough to read some of Diane's work then.  Man, I knew right away it was just a matter of time before her quirky, flirty stories found their way into print.  And, a woman after my heart, Diane is dropping by today with an easy, tasty Thanksgivingish dish that I plan to add to my burgeoning holiday menu.


Not inclined to gobble turkey?  Can’t bear the thought of sticking your hand up a butterball’s hoo-ha?  Stuff a mushroom instead!  It’s easy, and it’ll save you from having to wake at the crack of dawn to baste a bird.  This recipe is also an easy and yummy option for any vegetarians who may be attending your holiday meal since it makes use of many ingredients you’ll already have on hand.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

One box of stuffing (or use your leftover stuffing)
olive oil
4 portobello mushrooms
1 can of French-fried onions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare the stuffing (or round up your leftover stuffing).  Coat the bottom of a baking dish with a thin (1/8”) layer of equal parts olive oil and water.  Wash the mushrooms and fill each cap with enough stuffing to create a level surface.  Place the mushrooms stuffing-side up in the baking dish.  Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for twenty-five minutes.  Remove the foil, add a generous layer of French-fried onions on top of the stuffing, and bake uncovered for another five minutes.  Makes four servings.
Variation:  Stuff button mushrooms instead and serve as an appetizer or side dish.

I hope all of you have much to be thankful for this year!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Diane Kelly is the author of the Death & Taxes humorous mystery series.  Her debut novel – Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure – is in bookstores now or can be ordered from online booksellers.  Visit Diane at!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Please Welcome Rochelle Staab with Katharine Hepburn's Brownies!

Rochelle Staab, author of
Who Do, Voodoo?
First in a new mystery series!

Please join me in welcoming author Rochelle Staab to the Kitchen! On November 1, Rochelle will be launching the first book in her "Mind for Murder" mystery series, Who Do, Voodoo?a wonderful novel that I had the pleasure of reading before publication. This is a stellar debut, and RT Book Reviews agreed, praising the title as "A fresh and entertaining premise for a new series that is cleverly plotted and executed." I could not agree more, and it is now my great pleasure to introduce you to our guest cook today. Take it away, Rochelle!  ~ Cleo Coyle

Amanda: And after you shot your did you feel?

Doris: Hungry!

~ Katharine Hepburn (Amanda) and Judy Holliday (Doris) in 1949’s Adam’s Rib

Hello everyone! I was thrilled when Cleo invited me to visit the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen. I came with my absolute favorite recipe: the never fail, always yummy, keep for days, crunchy on the outside, moist and chewy inside, classic Katharine Hepburn brownies. These brownies draw happy, grateful groans whenever I bake them. In fact, two weeks ago I baked a batch to bribe a construction crew into washing my windows for me. Worked. Swear.

Hepburn gave this recipe to New York columnist Liz Smith to print over twenty-five years ago. It has been republished many times and for good reason: This simple, one bowl recipe is a go-to, never fail, guaranteed to delight, sweet-tooth tickler. Enjoy!

Katharine Hepburn’s 

Makes 16 brownies (@180 calories each)


2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped. (I use Baker’s unsweetened chocolate squares)

½ cup (1 stick) butter (I use salted but unsalted works too.)

1 cup granulated white sugar

2 large eggs (room temperature)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract 

¼ cup all-purpose flour (I like to use whole-wheat flour for a slight nutty edge.)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Step 1—Prep: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan. I use Pam® Baking spray. Simmer water in a small saucepan, about ½ full or less.

Step 2—Melt: Coarsely chop the chocolate into chunks. Slice the butter into pieces for quick melting. Place chocolate and butter into a small stainless steel bowl and place on top of the saucepan of simmering water. Stir gently until melted. Remove bowl from heat and discard water. 

Step 3—Blend: With the bowl on the counter, stir in the sugar until blended. Blend in the vanilla extract and mix in the eggs. Finally, stir in the flour, salt, and (optional) chopped nuts.

Step 4—Bake: Pour into the prepared 8-inch baking pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (I always middle the time at 33 minutes, depending on the oven of course.)

Step 5—Cool and cut: Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. When cooled, slice into 16 pieces. Serve at room temperature or chilled. These 
freeze very well.


This recipe inspired the brownies I wrote into Chapter One of my debut novel WHO DO, VOODOO? When Liz Cooper and her best friend Robin return from the gravesite of Robin’s husband Josh, they find a disturbing tarot card tacked to Robin’s front door. Two years earlier, the same card appeared in Josh’s birthday reading presaging his imminent death. After tearing the card off the door, Liz takes Robin inside and attempts to calm her over a plate of brownies and milk. The resulting search for the tarot card prankster leads to murder, a false accusation, and a journey through Los Angeles voodoo subculture to find a killer.

The characters in WHO DO, VOODOO? reflect varied opinions about the supernatural and I leave judgment to the reader to decide which team is right. Liz the pragmatic psychologist is a non-believer who favors logical thinking. Robin, along with Liz’s elegant, offbeat mother both believe the supernatural offers a pathway for the open-minded. Nick Garfield, the religious philosophy professor Liz enlists to help locate the origin of the tarot card, takes an intellectual viewpoint. His study of alternative belief systems gave him respect for and understanding of the cross-cultural rituals and customs people have clung to, employed, or worshipped for centuries.

Oh, and did I mention a voodoo curse—conjured to kill—complicates everything?

WHO DO, VOODOO? will be released November 1 by Berkley Prime Crime.

~ Rochelle Staab

Thank you for visiting
with us today, Rochelle! ~ Cleo

Visit Rochelle online at:

Facebook: Rochelle Staab
Twitter: Rochelle Staab

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Flat-Out Delicious

Kitchen-dwellers, I am delighted to introduce today's guest blogger, Jessica Park.  If you are not friends with Jessica on Facebook, do yourself a favor and start stalking her.  Honestly, reading Jessica's status updates is often the highlight of my (admittedly dull) days.  She's also a fantastic writer (see below) and an enthusiastic foodie.  So join me in welcoming Jessica to the kitchen!


Hello, Mystery Lover’s Kitchen! I love coming here to visit and was so happy to get an invite from Wendy. Now that I’m not writing culinary mysteries, it’s hard to have an excuse to beg for a chance to guest blog, so Wendy saved me the humiliation! But, I’m still as food-obsessed as ever, and getting back into fall cooking after months of fresh summer salads and grilling. This is a dish that is now on the menu once a week, and I really can’t get enough of it. Obviously anything with bacon is always good, but the combination of bacon against the artichoke hearts, capers, and lemon is really awesome. Yes, I know. This dish sounds really strange, but I assure you that it’s delicious.

Fast, Easy, One-Pot, Scrumptious, Perfect-for-Weeknight-Suppers Shrimp Reminiscent of Scampi But Amped Up and Better

Serves two. Or so. I don’t really know. Depends how much you eat.

3 slices of bacon, chopped into ½” strips
1/3 cup good quality olive oil
2 T. butter
One big handful of cabbage, sliced into thin strips
1 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup canned tomato puree or a good handful of chopped fresh tomato
5 canned artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
2 T. capers
One big squeeze of lemon juice
2 springs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
12 fresh or frozen shrimp, deveined and tails off (Do not skimp on the shrimp. Frozen can be absolutely fabulous, but avoid cheap brands where the shrimp are covered in frost. You get what you pay for.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sautee the bacon over medium-high heat until just browned. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the shrimp, and cook at a medium simmer, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is wilted and tender without being soggy (about 15-20 minutes).  There should be a very nice amount of broth, so add more stock if you need it. Add in the shrimp and season, and then cook for a few minutes until the shrimp are no longer translucent, about 3-4 minutes. If you’ve used fresh thyme, pull the springs because no one needs to chew on little twigs.

Note: Good quality shrimp will release a wonderful flavor into this and limit how much you need to doctor the dish. If you need an extra kick, you can add a splash of white wine and/or a good sprinkle of Cajun seasoning.

Serve over polenta cakes:

If you feel like hanging out stirring a pot of polenta for ages, be my guest, but there is nothing wrong with these delicious rolls. Cylinders. Whatever they are. 

Slice into ½” thick patties (about 4 per person), dust with flour, and fry in a little olive oil over medium-low/medium heat until lightly brown and crispy on both sides. These take longer than you’d think, so plan on at least six minutes per side.

This dish would also be perfect over rice or pasta, of course, but I’m a polenta nut.

Seriously awesome book!
My latest book, Flat-Out Love has nothing to do with food. Although the family in this novel does enjoy regular takeout…. But I hope that you food lovers will consider checking it out nonetheless. It’s a young adult book in many ways because the main characters are college students, but there is a much broader story about the complex family structure that truly makes this book accessible to readers of all ages. By some miracle, Flat-Out Love has spent the past five weeks as the #1 Top-Rated Romance on Amazon’s Kindle, and I’ve been amazed at what lovely reviews the book has been getting. It’s available for most e-readers and also in paperback from Amazon.

Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

It's not what you know--or when you see--that matters. It's about a journey.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.

Jessica Park
Facebook: jumby24
Twitter: JessicaPark24

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes Can't Be BEET!

Hi, Everyone!

It’s so great to be back in the kitchen! Thanks for inviting me, ladies, and thanks for all of the wonderful recipes you share every day. You’re keeping my family safe from dying of culinary boredom and a diet consisting solely of cupcakes.

My next cupcake caper, DEATH BY THE DOZEN, comes out in October, so when Ellery invited me to blog, I knew it had to be one of the recipes from that book. The trouble was – which one? You see, this story finds our intrepid, over-sugared heroines Mel and Angie entered in the challenge to the chefs, pastry division, at the Scottsdale Food Festival. Their bakery rival Olivia Puckett joins the fray and the tensions run high as they have to bake delicious desserts from mystery ingredients such as beets, beer and chili peppers. Mel and Angie are up to the task until Mel’s mentor, Vic Mazzotta, who is judging the competition, is found murdered. Now Mel and Angie have to whip up amazing desserts and solve a murder before the killer makes sure they are out of the competition – for good.

So, you can see, I had several unorthodox recipes to choose from. My personal favorite is the red velvet cupcake made with beets, so that is the one I’m going to share with you today. For you non beet lovers, take heart. My Hub hates beets and he loved these cupcakes. And moms, it’s one more sneaky way to get those veggies in!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (using beets): A red velvet cupcake made with beet puree and topped cream cheese frosting and an edible flower (optional).

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup beet puree
1/3 cup canola oil

1 egg, room temperature

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put 12 cupcake liners in muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, add in the oil, lemon juice, vanilla and egg to the pureed beets. Pour the beet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full and bake for 18 – 22 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth. Put frosting in a pastry bag and pipe onto cupcakes in thick swirls, using an open tip. Decorate with an edible flower, such as a nasturtium.


Jenn McKinlay

New York Times Bestselling Author of the Cupcake Bakery mysteries and the

Library Lover’s mysteries!