Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts

Monday, December 18, 2017

Lucy Burdette's Holiday Pumpkin Pie #recipe

LUCY BURDETTE: Christmas is different in Key West than it is in New England. Of course, I miss the snow (a little) and ice (not really) and a trip to see the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center (a lot!) But on the other hand, we have palm trees and lights! 

When thinking over holiday recipes, I wondered why pumpkin pie had to be confined to Thanksgiving. And I decided it didn't!

You would think pumpkin pie should be a slam-dunk recipe. But there are many questions out there. Pre-bake the crust? Don’t bake the crust? Evaporated milk? Sweetened condensed milk? Whipped cream? I studied four or five of them and chose what looked like the best options. I wanted a little maple flavor and also to jazz the pie up with my beloved chai spice.

For the Crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
Scant tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chilled cream cheese
3 tablespoons water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a food processor. Add the butter and cream cheese and pulse until you have small crumbles. Don’t overdo this. Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the crust barely holds together. (You will think you haven’t added enough, but you will!)

Dump the dough onto a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, and gather it together, then press into a disk. Refrigerate for an hour or more. (This is a good time to make the filling.) 

Roll the crust out between two sheets of waxed paper, trying not to overwork it. Peel off the top piece of paper and lower the crust into your 9 inch pan. Bake for about 40 minutes until the crust seems done, just browning around the edges and golden all over.

in the food processor

gather into a ball

roll and pinch the edges

bake with pie weights

ready for filling!

For the Pie filling:

One can organic pumpkin
1/2 cup good maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon chai spice or plain cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
Three eggs
1 1/4 cup evaporated milk

Whip the pumpkin with the two sweeteners, the milk, and the spice, and taste to see if it’s sweet enough for your crowd. Add a little more if needed. Then beat in the flour and the three eggs until the filling is smooth.

Carefully pour this mixture into the hot pie crust. (This is the hardest part of the recipe.) You should have the pie pan on a sheet pan in case of spills or drips. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then check to see if the crust is too brown. If it is, fold some thin strips of aluminum foil to cover the crust. Bake until set, that is, barely jiggly, probably 50-60 minutes.

Cool to room temperature and either serve as is or refrigerate overnight. Serve with freshly made whipped cream, I like a teaspoon of vanilla and a dash of whipped cream maple syrup in mine!

so pretty out of the oven

but of course it sinks a bit later

Merry Christmas and happy all holidays to our readers and friends!

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries--find them wherever books are sold! Find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest--Instagram too...

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


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

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

#Christmas Week butter cookie recipe + book #giveaway from author @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl aka Avery:


Sometimes it's fun to try new recipes.  Last week, I found a great looking, multifaceted recipe in my Ralph's Supermarket flyer that I thought would be perfect and easy for kids to make. It's a basic butter cookie that you can dress up in lots of ways. The recipe showed how to make cinnamon pecan pinwheels, chocolate peppermint cookies, apricot button cookies, all using the same butter cookie recipe.

Well, I had my grandsons over the other day, and one of them is really into cooking. He has a burn on his arm to prove it - he showed me. It's minor. Got too close to the stove at home. We were VERY careful to keep him away from hot stuff this time around.

He chose to make the cinnamon pinwheels!

Now, talk about a mess! Oh my. Kids just can't seem to keep the flour from going everywhere, but that's another story. I'm a good floor cleaner-upper (once they are out of the kitchen and settled at the art table).

The recipe uses regular flour, but you know me. I need to make things gluten-free. This made it difficult. Gluten-free flour dough just doesn't "roll" the same as regular flour dough. Sigh. It breaks. The "stretch and give" of gluten is vital. I've proven this multiple times when making my quiche or pie shells. But the wonder of baking is that things "melt" together and ultimately taste great, so if you can  get over cookies not being "beautiful," then you are ready to start celebrating.

Sugar cookie found in Ralph’s Supermarket Flyer

Basic Butter Cookie Dough

1 ¾ sticks unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups all purpose flour (*gluten-free flour substitution is equal)

In large bowl, beat butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth (but not fluffy).  Beat in egg. Add flour (*or GF flour) and mix until incorporated. 

[forgot to take this picture; it's basic]

Chill dough for 1 hour. (I only refrigerated ½ hour. I think that was fine. And I had eager little boys.)

On floured parchment (*or GF floured parchment, if making GF cookies), set half the dough. Press down and flour the top. Cover with another piece of parchment and roll out into rectangle about 10 x 8. Then trim edges straight.  Repeat with second half of dough. Slide rectangles (on parchment paper) onto a baking sheet.

OOPS.  I misread this last direction when doing it, and it was difficult to move the dough – I did it, but it was messy. So pay attention. Keep it on the parchment paper.

Refrigerate another 20 minutes.  (*GF version refrigerate about 10 minutes; otherwise it can get “firm”).

For cinnamon pinwheels:

Meanwhile mix 3 tablespoons softened butter, ¾ cup brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in small bowl until well combined. Crumble half of the mixture of each of the rectangles and pat to distribute. (Ralph’s recipe also included ¼ cup chopped pecans; we elected not to use nuts.)

With long side facing you, using the parchment paper, roll rectangles into logs.  Chill until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut logs crosswise into ¼” slices. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until barely browned, about 12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets or wire racks.  Makes 3-4 dozen.

**My pinwheels spread a lot and then turned out sort of rectangular. I think this was because the gluten-free version was a little firm and didn’t roll into a nice round “log.” C’est la vie!

No matter what, consider setting cookies on two baking sheets.

Note: I used the trimmed edges for regular sugar cookies. I rolled the dough together, set out walnut-sized rounds. Pressed them down, and one of my darling helpers covered them with sprinkles. COVERED THEM.  LOL!!  Delicious!



Savor the mystery!
Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames
Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Gluten-free Noodle Kugel, not just for the holidays!! Recipe from @DarylWoodGerber

Noodle kugel is not just for the holidays!   

If you've never had kugel, yes, it's a traditional Jewish dish, often served on the sabbath and holidays, but it can be made throughout the year. It consists of egg noodles and eggs and lots of other delicious treats.  I learned to make this after my husband and I got married. He's Jewish; I'm Christian. We had lots of things to learn about each other's religions and have found common ground in food. [He likes my yule log, which I'll share in December.]

Anyway, kugel. I'd never had it before, but I quickly became an expert at making it. To me, it's like apple pie in a casserole!

When I had to start eating gluten-free, I had to give up all sorts of delicious treats, and when the Jewish holidays came around, I thought, "Oh, no! What am I going to do? No one makes gluten-free egg noodles!"  

Now, there are some good gluten-free matzo crackers, but you can't use matzo to make noodle pudding.  And, yes, there are some delicious pastas (spaghetti, fettuccine, lasagna and macaroni elbows), but no noodles. 

Until now! I found a "long" egg noodle that is fabulous! It's made by Jovial.
I got so excited, I went right home and made noodle pudding, and my family couldn't tell the difference from my "regular" version.
So, please, for the holidays, if you need to eat gluten-free and you used to enjoy noodle kugel, try this recipe!  If you can eat wheat, then you can make this recipe just the same, using regular egg noodles.

Noodle Kugel

(serves 8)

1/2 cup golden raisins  
12 ounces egg noodles (use gluten-free if necessary; Jovial brand is great!)
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 pound cottage cheese (2 cups)
2 cups sour cream
1 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 green apple, peeled and chopped fine
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar for topping * (see below)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Presoak raisins in hot water while preparing the rest.

Fill a large pot 2/3 full with water. Bring to a boil. Boil the noodles for about 4-6 minutes, stirring often so they don't stick together. Strain the noodles. Rinse. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine melted butter, cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, and chopped apples. Drain raisins and add to mixture. Stir well. Add noodles. Stir again.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and extra sugar. (I used 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.)

Bake until custard is set and top is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Then reduce heat to 300 degrees F and bake another 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Savor the mystery!

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

Friend Daryl on Facebook
Friend Avery on Facebook
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Follow Avery on Twitter
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Check out our website.

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