Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Lemon Lavender Gluten-free Cupcakes #recipe from author @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl: The 7th Cookbook Nook Wreath between the Lines comes out November 8th, but I'm already writing the next. 

When I started writing Sifting through Clues, which will come out in 2019,  I came up with a plot idea (it's a secret) that involved a lot of food. Culinary mysteries need food, right? I started obsessing about tea sandwiches and tea cakes and muffins, scones, and cupcakes. (No, it's not a tea party.)

And then I got a bee in my bonnet about lemon. I absolutely had to serve something lemon-y. Something new. Something exotic. Experimenting is fun, don't you think?

So I browsed the Internet looking for something lemon-y, and I landed on a blog that raved about lemon and lavender. (*Her cupccakes were made using regular flour; I made mine gluten-free. Her link below.) 

Mind you, lavender is not easy to find nor is it cheap. Of course, you can find fresh lavender in your garden, and if you're a talented whiz, you can figure out how to dry it. 


So I purchased it. Lavender comes in pouches. Whatever you don't use for baking, you can use in sachets for gifts.

Lavender extract is a little more difficult to make from scratch, I imagine. Unless you're a whiz. And we've established that I am not. I purchased that, too.

Next, for the frosting, I had to experiment with my piping tool. Again...say it with me, "not a whiz!"  Practice makes semi-perfect.  But I did much better this time around.  These pretty cupcakes are perfect for a book club or any party, for that matter. So light. So unique.


If you're interested in seeing the original, regular flour recipe, you can find it here: The Cake Blog. She used dye to make her frosting purple. I chose to go au naturel.

(Cakes 12-18 regular or 24-36 miniature)

For the cupcake:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1 1/4 cup gluten-free flour
2 teaspoons whey flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar, more if needed
2-3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoon lavender extract, more if desired (*can be purchased online)

For decoration:
Lavender flowers (*you can find them online)
Lemon slices

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Set 12 regular or 24 miniature cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the color is light, about 2 minutes.  Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon zest, and mix 1 minute.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites to a froth, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg whites to the sugar mixture and mix well until incorporated. 

Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

In another small bowl combine the milk, water, and lemon juice.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter-egg mixture.  Mix well. Then add half of the wet ingredients.  Mix well and repeat, stirring until all the ingredients are incorporated. This is a very light, almost foamy cupcake mixture.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full.  

Bake mini cupcakes for 13-15 and regular cupcakes for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

In a small bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add in half of the confectioner’s sugar and mix until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons milk and the vanilla and lavender extracts and beat until smooth. Add the remainder of the confectioner’s sugar. If necessary, add more sugar. *This should not be a runny frosting.

Using a piping tool fitted with a closed star tip, pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.  If desired, decorate with fresh lavender and a half slice of lemon.


Next book: Wreath between the Lines  BUY LINK
*E-book available for preorder.
* Paperback isn't available until the day of release, November 8th.


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A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION, the 2nd French Bistro Mystery.
Can Mimi prove her chef innocent before the chef gets dusted?
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A DEADLY ÉCLAIR, the 1st French Bistro Mysteries, in all formats.
Can Mimi clear her name before the killer turns up the heat?
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WREATH BETWEEN THE LINES, the 7th Cookbook Nook Mystery.
Jenna Hart is busy decking the halls and ducking a killer
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PRESSING THE ISSUE, the 6th Cookbook Nook Mystery.

The annual Renaissance Fair serves up a helping of crafty courtiers,
damsels in distress, and medieval murder . . .
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FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE, the 7th Cheese Shop Mystery.
Finally there's going to be a cheese festival in Providence!
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GIRL ON THE RUN, a stand-alone suspense.
When a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, Chessa Paxton must run for her life...but will the truth set her free?
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DAY OF SECRETS, a stand-alone suspense
A mother he thought was dead. A father he never knew. An enemy that wants them dead.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Shrimp Fritters with Lemon Aioli #recipe @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE: This recipe is based on one of those videos that flit across Facebook feeds. I tracked it to a blog called Natasha’s Kitchen, though of course, we changed it quite a bit. Whether you call them shrimp fritters or shrimp cakes, they really are very easy and yummy.

Fish isn’t normally mixed with cheese, but the mozzarella here works both as a binder and to form the crust, and didn’t overpower the shrimp at all. Use a dry brick-type; fresh mozzarella is hard to shred and would be too watery. And yes, it’s fine to buy it shredded and use the rest for pizza!

We discovered by accident that it’s a good idea to let the batter rest 15-20 minutes before frying the fritters. You’ll see by our photos below that the first batch took on a free-form shape; the two we fried later because they didn’t fit in the pan held a cake-like shape better.

The original recipe suggests regular or gluten-free flour. I’m not experienced with using gluten-free flour and don’t know whether it would absorb the liquid well enough to have the same thickening effect. If you try it, let me know.

If, like us, you buy bags of shrimp at Costco, you may have pre-cooked shrimp and wonder whether it will get rubbery. Don’t worry; it will be fine.

This is the full recipe; we cut it in half. Half an egg? Ours were large and I hesitated about using the full thing, so I cracked it into a small glass bowl with a lid and beat it lightly, saving the rest of the egg for breakfast.

We made these for dinner with a green salad, and the half recipe served the two of us beautifully, with no leftovers. They would also be great for brunch or as fancy appetizers.

Shrimp Fritters with Lemon Aioli

For the fritters:

1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 ounces mozzarella, shredded
1 large egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour or gluten free flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying

For the aioli:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced

If your shrimp are frozen, thaw them in a bowl of water and drain well. Pat them dry with a paper towel, then chop into bite-sized pieces.

In a large bowl, mix together the mozzarella, egg, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp and stir to combine. Add flour and mix well. Let the batter rest 15-20 minutes.

Make the aioli. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, zest, lemon juice, and garlic until smooth.

Heat a large frying pan to medium heat and add one tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is hot—you can test it with the tip of a wooden spoon or chopstick; if tiny bubbles form, the oil is ready—carefully place the batter in the pan, using about two tablespoons of batter for each fritter. Flatten the tops of your fritters as you go; the fritters should be about 1/2" thick. Fry until golden brown and flip, about 3 minutes on each side.

Repeat with remaining oil and batter.

Makes 12-16 fritters.

"Budewitz's finely drawn characters, sharp ear for dialogue, and well-paced puzzle make Jewel Bay a destination for every cozy fan." --- Kirkus Reviews

From the cover of AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, Food Lovers' Village Mystery #5 (Midnight Ink, June 2018, available in trade paper, e-book, and audio):  

In Jewel Bay---Montana's Christmas Village---all is merry and bright. At Murphy’s Mercantile, AKA the Merc, manager Erin Murphy is ringing in the holiday season with food, drink, and a new friend: Merrily Thornton. A local girl gone wrong, Merrily’s turned her life around. But her parents have publicly shunned her, and they nurse a bitterness that chills Erin.

When Merrily goes missing and her boss discovers he’s been robbed, fingers point to Merrily—until she’s found dead, a string of lights around her neck. The clues and danger snowball from there. Can Erin nab the killer—and keep herself in one piece—in time for a special Christmas Eve?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. A past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

We're on the outer edges of Hurricane Florence. On Monday a week ago, the bread shelves at the grocery store were empty. On Tuesday I heard Walmart had put a five gallon limit on water. Wednesday was nice, but everyone was talking about the coming storm. So now she's here. At least the feathery edges of the storm are here. We're very lucky and our hearts go out to everyone without power and whose homes have water in them.

But it's bleak and dreary. As I walked Baron in the cold rain, I was overcome with a need for one of two things—chocolate pudding or chocolate chip cookies.

A friend gave me a gift of assorted salts some time ago. The smoked ones were interesting but my absolute favorite was the Maldon Salt flakes. And the more I thought about chocolate chip cookies, the more I thought they would be delightful if they were salted. This is the result.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes about 27 cookies depending on the size of the cookies)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Malden Salt flakes

Take the butter and egg out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Measure flour, baking soda, and Kosher salt into a bowl. Blend well with a fork. Set aside.

Cream the butter with the sugars. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, scraping the bowl to combine thoroughly. When well combined, mix in the chocolate chips. Scoop out the dough according to the size of cookie you want. They will spread a little bit, so leave room between them. Gently flatten the tops just a bit and sprinkle a tiny amount of salt flakes on each cookie. Bake 10 -12 minutes and cool on a baking rack.

If you don't need all the dough, roll the remaining dough into a log, wrap in wax paper, slide into a freezer bag, and freeze until needed.

Coming in November!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Decadent Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon Chip, Flourless Brownies from Nancy Parra

Mystery Lovers Kitchen is delighted to welcome Nancy Parra back again (although our waistlines might wish she'd stop turning out these delicious chocolate recipes!).

Hi, it’s a pleasure to come to the Mystery Lover’s Kitchen again. This time I want to introduce a new book, Forever Fudge. It’s the sixth full novel in the Candy Coated Mystery Series and if you include the Christmas shorts it’s the eighth. The book is out September 25th and will offer more recipes just like this one.

When I first started the series I was asked for only fudge recipes but as readers started asking for more I expanded. Since I have Celiac and can’t eat wheat, I developed this decadent dark chocolate, cinnamon chip, flourless brownie. I think my amateur sleuth, Allie McMurphy would approve. She is after all a fudge maker and these are pretty close to fudge.

This is the perfect Fall dessert for football games, potlucks or anytime you are craving fudgy goodness. The cinnamon chips are usually only out in the fall, so I scoop them up and store them for use year round.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. From Allie and me to you- enjoy!

Decadent Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon Chip, Flourless Brownies

12 tablespoon butter
1 1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 ¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
3/4 cup of cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare 8-inch pan by lining it with parchment paper. I like to use a round pan for thicker brownies.

Melt butter gently. Add cocoa to melted butter and whisk. Then add sugar and salt and whisk until well combined. Add vanilla and stir until smooth.

Add eggs and stir in gently until well combined--do not over mix eggs. I switch from whisk to spatula for this part. Add cinnamon chips and gently fold.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs and no wet batter. Unlike cake a clean toothpick means they are overdone.

Your house will smell awesome!

Cool 15 minutes and remove with liner from the pan. Set them on a rack to cool completely (if you can wait). Cut and enjoy!

I'm happy to offer a copy of Forever Fudge to one person who leaves a comment, answering the question, "What is your favorite season?" Be sure to include your email.

About the book:

When a film crew comes to Mackinac Island, the last thing fudge shop owner Allie McMurphy expects to find is a murder victim . . . 
It's Labor Day weekend, the official end of tourist season, and the beginning of a whole batch of trouble. First, the island is invaded by a TV crew filming a murder mystery pilot, and handsome Hollywood heartthrob Dirk Benjamin needs Allie’s help to prep for his role as local cop Rex Manning. Then, Allie’s bichonpoo Mal sniffs out a real murder in the alley behind the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop, a man shot in the head—with a note challenging amateur sleuth Allie to catch the culprit. Like it or not, the fudge maker has to square off against a crazy killer—but this time she may have bitten off more than she can chew . . .

 About Nancy:

Nancy J Parra AKA Nancy Coco AKA Nell Hampton is the author of over 25 published novels which include five mystery series: The Candy Coated Mysteries (Kensington), The Kensington Palace Mystery Series (Crooked Lane), The Wine Country Tours Mystery Series (Crooked Lane) The Oregon Coast Mystery series (Kensington),The Gluten-free Baker’s Treat Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime), and The Perfect Proposal Mysteries (Berkley Prime Crime).  Her writing has been called witty and her protagonists plucky by reviewers around the world.  Nancy is a member of Sisters in Crime and writes for the Killer Character Blog on the 8th of every month.  Nancy loves to hear from readers. 

Find out more at:

Follow her:
T: @nancyjparra
FB: nancyjparraauthor and nancyjcoco
Insta: @nancyjparra