Thursday, January 28, 2021

Raspberry and white chocolate skillet cookie

From Mary Jane Maffini

Around our house, we are trying to find recipes that will be fun to take outside when the weather warms up just a tad and fun to make inside if it doesn't.  What better than a skillet cookie? Easy and tasty.  I love how everything cooks in our old cast-iron pan.  Some time ago, I did bring a chocolate skillet brownie to the Mystery Lovers Kitchen table, but I’ve been dreaming of raspberries and white chocolate lately. Now, there are two kinds of people: those who love white chocolate and those who hate it. I’m on the love side. Chocolate seems to get us very excited these days. I can’t even discuss dark chocolate versus milk chocolate with my brother, but that’s a whole other topic. This is all to say, that the skillet cookie is really a method, rather than a unique recipe. So it would be easy for you to substitute different chocolate and other fruit or nuts to this one to suit yourselves. We were very happy with the results (and so was Steve our next-door neighbor and occasional taste tester). In fact, we had a second piece as dessert before we had dinner. I hope there are no children reading this! Do drop in with comments on your chocolate loves and hates and also let me know if you’ve tried a skillet cookie or cake. Maybe you’d like to say what you’d put in or on it. After all, we want to have a good time in the kitchen.

White chocolate chip and raspberry skillet cookie



½ cup butter, room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed (we used Splenda brown)

1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

¼ tsp almond extract

1 extra large egg, room temperature

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking soda

½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries

¾ cup white chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease a 10 inch cast-iron pan

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. 

Add egg and vanilla and almond extracts mixing well after each addition. 

Mix flour and baking powder together and then add slowly, mixing until just blended

Add 1/3 cup white choco chips and blend again 

Press cookie dough in cast-iron pan.

Sprinkle the raspberries around and then sprinkle remaining ½ cup of white chocolate chips.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until nicely browned. Yum.

We thought these cookie slices would be nice with ice cream or vanilla yogurt but we had 'em while they were warm from the pan.  And we'll have them again as soon as we get more ingredients in.

 I hope this recipe brings you a little amusement in your own kitchen. 

Mary Jane Maffini is the award-winning author of three and a half mystery series: the Camilla Maffini mysteries, the Fiona Silk capers and the Charlotte Adams mysteries – number six coming soon!  The Charlotte Adams books have recently been optioned for television films. Details to come when they can be made public. With her daughter Victoria Maffini, MJ collaborated on The Book Collector Mysteries as Victoria Abbott. Victoria Abbott spent several happy years on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. MJ  is very glad to be back and Victoria is waving at you all!

Don't forget to check out MJ's Canadian books:  Camilla MacPhee features a fortyish widowed lawyer who runs an advocacy agency for victims of violent crime, in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. Life would be easier if she didn't have the world's worst office assistant, the world's bossiest sisters and, arguably, the world's greatest stubborn streak. If you like your mysteries a bit edgy with a side order of humor, these could be for you.  

Keep up on the news!  You can sign up for updates about MJ and Victoria plus fun and prizes through our newsletter HERE 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Yogurt Cheese #Recipe by Leslie Karst

As a companion recipe to my last post for Microwave Lemon Curd, I thought today I'd share with you a recipe (if you can call it that—it’s so simple it’s really more just a “method”) for what I call "Yogurt Cheese," which is a bit like a rich cream cheese.

Spoon half a large container of full-fat, plain yogurt into a sieve which has been lined with a coffee filter.  (Any more and it won't fit inside a normal-size coffee filter.)

Set the sieve over a bowl and place it in the refrigerator, uncovered:

Let it sit in the fridge for two or three days. You’ll notice that the whey separates from the yogurt and runs into the bowl, and the yogurt shrinks and starts getting firm. Here it is after one day:

And here it is after three days:

You can leave it for up to four or five days, but after a while it stops getting any thicker, because all the whey that’s going to, has run out. Here is the cheese dumped into a bowl, with my hand to show the size of the yield (about a cup):

And voilà the whey—a tangy sort of buttermilk—that resulted after three days of draining:

You could use the whey in a smoothie, or in lieu of milk or buttermilk in baking, or simply drink it (I’ve heard it makes good lemonade). But don’t drink it if you’re lactose intolerant, as it’s jam-packed with the stuff.

The resulting “yocheese” is similar to cream cheese, but a little tangier, and apparently has about half the calories and carbs. I’ve been using it in a variety of ways (wheys?):

I made bruschettas by slicing a loaf of French bread and toasting it under the broiler, then spreading the slices with a little tomato paste and yocheese,

and then pesto, and topping it with grated Romano cheese. I broiled them right before service, to melt the cheese:

But my favorite use so far is simply combining the yocheese with the lemon curd I recently made. When mixed together it’s like a luscious lemony-creamy pudding:

This combo is also delicious on toast:

Who knew it could be so easy to make cheese? 


🍋  🌿  🐄

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. 
An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.

Leslie’s website
Leslie also blogs with Chicks on the Case
Leslie on Facebook
Leslie on Twitter
Leslie on Instagram

WHAT A DEAL! For the entire month of January, Leslie's two Lefty Award-nominated books, MURDER FROM SCRATCH and DEATH AL FRESCO are Kindle Deals of the Month, on sale for only $1.99! Wow! 

Praise for Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, the Lefty Award-nominated MURDER FROM SCRATCH:
“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine (featured pick)

All four Sally Solari Mysteries are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.



Tuesday, January 26, 2021

FRITO SHEPHERD'S PIE from author Cleo Coyle for National #CornChipDay #glutenfree

With National Corn Chip Day coming up this Friday (we kid you not), Marc and I decided to re-share our own unique twist on the famous Frito Pie, which the late, great chef Tony Bordain once called "shockingly tasty." 

We agree! And our version takes it to the next level...

Our Frito Shepherd's Pie is a unique cross between
a tasty taco and pan of loaded potato skins.

And the best part? 
It’s full of good nutrition. 
Read on to learn more...

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

☕ A Recipe Note from Cleo 

Our readers may remember this amazing pie from our 13th culinary mystery, Billionaire Blend. In the book, Detective Mike Quinn tells the story of solving a homicide with members of the NYPD Bomb Squad (historically known as the Italian Squad). 

When the case is done, members of the squad take Quinn to an Irish pub for a night of "Frito Shepherd’s Pies" and some serious drinking. :)

While we're not advocating the drinking, this is the very pie that Detective Quinn enjoyed, and it's not only delicious, it's nutritious because we make it with lean ground meat, mix in black beans, and whip up our mashed potatoes with the skins on. The next day, a single leftover slice on a bowl of lettuce gives us an instant taco salad. 

Billionaire Blend:
A Coffeehouse Mystery
Click to learn more.

The recipe is deceptively simple. Yes, you start with a basic Frito Pie and top it with a Shepherd’s Pie crust of mashed potatoes. But there’s a trick to keeping the flavors balanced and avoiding a big mouth full of potatoes: We make our mashed potato crust very thin and mix it with a secret ingredient—sour cream.

Sour cream is a classic topping for Mexican dishes, but it’s also fantastic with potatoes, so it adds the perfect flavor note to the recipe, and (as mentioned above) turns our Frito Pie into a delicious cross between a tasty taco and a pan of loaded potato skins.

So if you’re tired of pizza (or looking for a gluten-free indulgence), consider this wonderful one-dish dinner. It’s incredibly satisfying, fun to eat, and easy to make.

~ Cleo


To download this recipe 
in a free PDF document you can
print, save, or share, click here.

Cleo Coyle's 
Frito's Shepherd's Pie


1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes (leftover or fresh, recipe provided at end*)

1/2 cup sour cream 

1-3/4 cups whole Fritos corn chips + 1/4 cup crushed Fritos for garnish

1 to 1-1/2 pounds ground meat made into chili or taco meat filling (we like to add black beans to our for additional nutrition and fiber)

8 ounces Monterey Jack, Cheddar, or taco cheese mix, shredded

1 jalapeno pepper, cut into rings (optional)


Prep Step—Make your mash: Re-warm your leftover mashed potatoes in a microwave or on your stovetop. Or create fresh mashed potatoes from scratch (recipe provided  at end of directions*). Whisk in sour cream. Set the finished mashed potato topping aside.

Build Pie with...

Layer 1—Fritos: Line the bottom of a 10-inch oven-proof skillet or cast iron pan (or casserole dish or deep dish pie pan) with a single layer of whole Fritos corn chips (about 1-3/4 cups).

Layer 2—Meat: Heat your chili or taco meat (and beans) until nice and hot, and then evenly spoon the mixture over the layer of corn chips in the pan, covering the chips completely. 

Layer 3—Cheese: Sprinkle a little over half of the shredded cheese on top of the meat. 

Layer 4—Taters: Now dollop the warm mashed potatoes and sour cream from Prep Step over the meat and cheese. Use the back of the spoon to carefully smooth it into a thin, even layer. This is a thin layer so take your time and do it gently.

Layer 5—Garnish: Sprinkle the top of the pie with 
the rest of the shredded cheese and the final 1/4 cup of crushed Fritos corn chips.

Broil: Finish the pie for a few minutes under a preheated broiler. Watch for the cheese to melt and the potatoes to become lightly browned on their edges. This will take anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes, depending on your broiler. (Check often because broilers can burn things very easily!) Cut into slices and serve immediately. You can further garnish with jalapeno rings, salsa, guacamole, hot sauce, olives, or other favorite toppings you might use for tacos or nachos. 


 Start with 3 large (or 6 small) white potatoes, about 1-½ pounds. Wash and cut into thick slices, leaving skins on for better nutrition, and boil for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft when fork tested. Drain well and mash with a potato masher or simply use a fork to smash the potatoes into small lumps and whisk vigorously until smooth. Follow recipe as directed, mixing potatoes first with sour cream, and then continuing with the recipe steps. 



This pie reheats like a dream. A slice of it also makes a great instant taco salad. Warm up a slice in the microwave and break it up over a fresh bowl of lettuce. Throw on some slices of avocado and olives or a fresh dollop of guacamole, and you’re set for a quick, healthy lunch.

Eat with cozy winter joy!

New York Times bestselling author
of The Coffeehouse Mysteries &
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

This is us -- Alice and Marc.
Together we write as Cleo Coyle. 

Visit our online coffeehouse here.
And follow us at these links...

Coming April 2021...

Our new mystery!

Learn more or pre-order at:

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"He is hardboiled in the tradition
of Philip Marlowe, and she is a genteel
Miss Marple; yet the two opposites
make an explosive combination..."

—Midwest Book Review

To learn more, visit our
Haunted Bookshop
clicking here.

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