Monday, August 10, 2020

S'mores Tartlets by Maya Corrigan + GIVEAWAY

Happy National S’mores Day! Though s’mores originated at children’s campfires, people of all ages enjoy this treat of gooey toasted marshmallows and melted chocolate sandwiched between graham crackers. I’m sharing two recipes for oven s’mores—same great flavor as the campfire treat and a little less messy.

The first recipe I'm sharing appeared in S’more Murders, my 5th Five-Ingredient Mystery. I’m offering the book as a GIVEAWAY to someone who leaves a comment at the end of this post. On the “Cinnamon and Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder” blog, my friend Kim McMahon Davis shows how to make these tartlets. Check out her photos and video.


These tartlets have a delicious buttery homemade crust. 

Ingredients (for 24 tartlets)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons melted butter

2 milk or dark chocolate candy bars, approximately 1.45 ounces each, divided into rectangles (or use a layer of chocolate chips as Kim shows in her video).

12 standard size marshmallows, each cut in half to make two circular pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter and mix until blended. Lightly grease 24 cups (1 ¾–inch diameter) in a mini muffin pan. Divide the crumbs among the cups. Press the crumbs down and around the sides with a tart tamper, a spoon, or your fingers. Bake 4–5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Put one chocolate rectangle or chocolate chips to cover the crust in each cup. Put a marshmallow, cut side down, on top of it. Return to the pan to the oven for 3 minutes or until the marshmallows are softened. To brown the marshmallows, put the pan under the broiler for a minute. 

Cool the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Carefully lift each tartlet from its cup. If the marshmallows cool too much, making it difficult to remove tartlets from pan, put the pan back into a warm oven for a minute or two to soften the edges. Serve warm immediately or serve at room temperature after the tartlets have cooled down. 


This easier and lower-fat version of oven s'mores is made with graham cracker flavor phyllo shells. (I bought them by mistake when I meant to buy the regular phyllo shells!) I adapted the s'mores recipe from the one on the box.

Ingredients (for each box of 15 shells)

8 standard-size marshmallows, about 1” high, cut in half into circles 

3 ounces milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 package Athens® Graham Cracker Flavor Phyllo Shells

Put 5 chocolate chips in each phyllo shell. Top each with one marshmallow circle and then 3-5 chocolate chips. Put the shells on a baking sheet and broil them until the marshmallows start to turn brown (approximately 30 to 60 seconds depending on the distance from the heat).

The three steps in filling the shells are shown here.

With careful placement of three chocolate chips on each marshmallow, you can make a skeleton face. I didn't do it for this batch, but I might for Halloween s'mores bites.


Though s’mores bites with phyllo are quick and relatively low cal, I missed the buttery flavor of the s’mores tartlets. 

Maya (Mary Ann) Corrigan combines her passion for food and detection in her Five-Ingredient Mysteries featuring café manager Val and her live-wire grandfather, who solve murders in a historic town near the Chesapeake Bay. Each book has five suspects, five clues, and Granddad’s five-ingredient recipes. Visit her website for book news, five-ingredient recipes, mystery trivia, and a free culinary mystery story. Sign up for her newsletter to enter a drawing for a free book. One subscriber receives a free book each time a newsletter comes out. 

Visit Maya at her website


Val is hired to cater a re-creation of the Titantic’s final dinner on a yacht in the Chesapeake Bay. The yacht owner, who collects memorabilia related to the disaster, wants her to serve the meal while his guests play a murder-mystery game. But Val soon realizes his game has a serious purpose. He’s fishing for the culprit in a real crime. When one person goes overboard, Val must reel in a killer before s’more murders go down.

S’mores weren’t invented until years after the Titanic sank. To find out how they figure in the plot of S’more Murders, read the first chapter on the Kensington Books website.


Do you enjoy s’mores or murder mystery games?
Comment with your e-mail address by August 13 for a chance to win a copy of S’more Murders. This applies to US addresses only. A winner outside the US will receive cozy goodies via e-mail.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Lemon Cake by Shari Randall + #Giveaway

MAYA: Please welcome my friend, Shari Randall, an award-winning mystery writer. One of my favorite memories is of having afternoon tea with her at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. Today's she's sharing a recipe for lemon tea cake and offering a book GIVEAWAY. Leave a comment at the end of this post to enter a drawing for one of her mysteries. You're up, Shari!

SHARI: Nothing says summer like the bright tang of lemons. Lemonade and lemon Italian ice are some of my favorite treats of summer, along with my favorite dessert, Lemon Tea Cake. There are many variations of this cake, and it goes by many names, such as Lemon Tea Cake or Lemon Pound Cake, but I think this version is perfection.

This cake bursts with lemon flavor thanks to a glaze of lemon juice and confectioner’s sugar added when the just-baked cake is pulled from the oven. The cake mixes up quickly and you can dress it up or down. Frost it if you wish (omit the glaze), serve with a simple side of fresh summer berries, or enjoy it as is. At my daughter’s suggestion, I decorated the cake with slices of candied lemon for a novel sweet-tart touch.

The recipe came to me from a friend’s mom who made my wedding cake. Thanks, Mrs. F! I hope you enjoy this taste of summer curled up in a shady spot with a good read. The cake tastes great accompanied by tea or coffee, hot or iced. Enjoy!


6 Tbsp butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup milk

1-1/2 cups flour

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

Freshly grated rind of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Cream butter and granulated sugar, then add lemon rind and eggs. 

Sift the dry ingredients and add to the butter mixture with the milk. Beat the batter until smooth. 

Pour batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake 1 hour at 350. (Check at 55 minutes.)

To make the glaze, mix ½ cup powdered sugar with the juice of one lemon. Pour the mixture over the hot cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Once the cake is cooled, top it with candied lemons if desired.

Candied Lemon Slices
1 cup sugar
1 large lemon
Slice a lemon into 8-12 very thin slices – use a mandoline if you have one. Discard seeds and ends.
Prepare an ice bath (bowl of cold water with ice cubes) and set it aside.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the lemon slices. Stir until soft, about one minute. Drain and plunge them in the ice bath. Immediately drain. This step helps remove some of the bitterness of the lemon.

Bring the sugar and one cup of water to a boil in a medium sized skillet, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture is clear and bubbles, reduce heat to medium-low. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer. Simmer until the rinds are translucent. Do not let boil.
Line a baking rack or tray with parchment paper. Transfer slices to parchment and let stand until ready to serve. You can keep the slices in an airtight container at room temperature for one day.

About the Author and the Giveaway

Shari Randall is the author of the Lobster Shack Mystery series. Nothing says summer in New England like a visit to a lobster shack. Set in the historic Connecticut village of Mystic, the books feature injured ballerina Allie Larkin, who works in her quirky Aunt Gully’s Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack while her broken ankle heals. When her aunt falls under suspicion of murder, Allie starts investigating and discovers she has a talent for sleuthing. The first book in the series, CURSES, BOILED AGAIN, won an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. 

You can keep up with Shari on social media, where she shares ice cream recipes, her mermaid and Nancy Drew obsessions, and pics of all things New England.
Facebook Group: Cozy Mystery Crew 
Instagram @sharirandallauthor

Shari will give a copy (your choice of paperback or ebook) of any one of the Lobster Shack Mysteries to one lucky commenter. (US Only for paperback). What’s your favorite summertime treat? Comment below to be entered to win.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

#Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad with Chicken by @DeniseSwanson

Heading into the dog days of August, I like to keep our meals light, and bonus points if they don't heat up the house too much.

With our garden producing, I use the zucchini as often as possible in making a tasty, healthy supper. This salad along with a loaf to crusty bread is perfect for a summer dinner.

½ cup creamy natural peanut butter
½ cup hot water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 ½ teaspoons fish sauce
½ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Sriracha
½ teaspoon grated garlic

4 cups spiralized zucchini (1 large)
3 cups chopped red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tablespoon cilantro
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (8 ounces)
¼ cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts

Combine peanut butter, water, lime juice, brown sugar, tamari (or soy sauce), fish sauce, hot sauce and garlic in a blender. Pulse until smooth.

Combine zucchini, cabbage, carrot and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. 

Top the salad with chicken and peanuts.

 Serve immediately.


Chocolate, men, and magic. Who can turn down that inheritance?
     If life had gone as she planned, Lexie Green would have been teaching English at a prestigious university, not persuading spoiled, rich women to buy overpriced clothes they didn’t need and often looked ridiculous wearing. Can you say electric yellow see-through skirts and Torn jeans with unfinished hems?    
     Still, although this isn’t the life Lexie would have chosen, all is going well. At least until Lexie is fired and her deranged ex-boyfriend tries to kidnap her.
     Deciding that it’s better to accept a mysterious inheritance from a great aunt she’s never heard of rather than end up kept in a cage as her ex’s pet poodle, Lexie packs up and heads to Kansas. So, what if she has to go by a new name and live in a town that she can’t find on a map?
     Unfortunately, once she arrives in her new hometown, everyone there seems just a tad off-kilter and Lexie’s cousin insists that the citizens are magical. At least there are a couple of hot guys hanging around for eye candy.
     Even though Lexie doesn’t believe the nonsense about her being the Ravenscraft Shield, she does believe her father was murdered—a father she never knew existed, and she investigates his death.
     Too bad, whoever killed her father, now wants Lexie dead as well.    


There's something fishy just below the surface of Scumble River...

School psychologist Skye Denison-Boyd is getting ready to return to work from her maternity leave and hoping for a peaceful year in her job as a school psychologist. But when an elderly woman disappears on her first day back and a disgruntled parent threatens to sue the school, Skye realizes that her return will be anything but quiet.

When the parent suing Skye's school is found dead and with the missing woman's case is still unsolved, Skye suspects the crimes are somehow linked. With her chief of police husband, Wally, at her side, Skye dives into the investigations. But as tensions rise and Skye and Wally's suspect list lengthens, they start to wonder whether a member of their own tight-knit community could be behind it all...

Enjoy the occasional romance?

Take one dedicated wildlife veterinarian who treats her animals as if they were her babies, add an impossibly handsome nightclub manager who’s determined to open the hottest spot in Las Vegas, and what do you have? A sweet, sexy romance that proves that no matter how much a man and woman may snarl at the idea of a relationship, love always wins.

* * *

Marco Thorne was hired by Club Wilde’s owner to open up the newest, most outrageous venue yet. He is absolutely certain that he can handle all the competition Las Vegas has to offer until his overbearing boss contracts with Lions and Tigers and More sanctuary to have live exotic animals present in the jungle-themed club. Still, he has no choice but to go along with his boss’s idiotic scheme, even if he thinks it’s the worst idea he’s ever heard.

Dr. Sage DeSantis’s entire life is devoted to keeping the animals under her care in the sanctuary healthy and happy. After the sanctuary’s owner announces that he’s renting out some of Sage’s babies to Club Wilde, she’s sickened that they will once again be exploited.

When Marco and Sage meet, the chemistry between them nearly knocks them off their feet. Although they both have experiences in their past that make them leery of love, and Sage is determined to guard her heart, Marco is all in. But will Marco be able to convince Sage to give them a chance?

* * *

Publisher’s warning: This book contains sensual consummated love scenes.

Series description:

Second in Denise Swanson’s new Delicious contemporary romance series. All books are complete with no cliffhangers and a guaranteed HEA!

Sinfully Delicious is available now!

Undeniably Delicious is coming in 2020!

For more information, please visit
Catch up with me on 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Buckingham Palace Shortbread from Vicki Delany

For the second round of my Shortbread Bake-off to find the best recipe to include in Murder in a Tea Cup (Tea by the Sea #2, coming summer 2021) this is the one I tried. This is supposedly the recipe they use for shortbread at Buckingham Palace. I’ve seen several different recipes that apparently are the ones favoured by the queen, so I’d take that claim with a pinch of salt. However, they are made in my kitchen, so that’s just as good. Right?

2 cups cake flour
3⁄4 cup cornstarch  + 1 tablespoon
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt until well blended.

In a stand mixer set on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy. Beat in the granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. On low speed, add the flour mixture in two or three additions until it forms a soft dough. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F

On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll the dough out to a ¾-inch-thick slab,
Transfer, parchment and all, to the baking sheet and bake until lightly golden and firm to the touch, about 40 minutes. Slip the parchment paper with the shortbread onto a hard surface. Immediately sprinkle the shortbread heavily with the confectioners' sugar. 

While still warm, cut the shortbread into 1- or 1 ½-inch pieces. Let cool completely.

Now available: Tea and Treachery, the first Tea by the Tea mystery from Kensington Publishing.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Key Lime Pie for The Key Lime Crime @LucyBurdette #giveaway

LUCY BURDETTE: Obviously, we cannot launch a book called THE KEY LIME CRIME without a recipe for Key lime pie. I got a little giggle from an early reviewer who said she hadn't thought she could enjoy a book based on key lime pie. However, not only did she love the book, she was now craving case this should happen to you next week, here's the recipe...

And do leave a comment about the best pie you've ever eaten to have your name added to the drawing for a CD audio copy of THE KEY LIME CRIME. (US only please.)

Ingredients for the crust

10 sheets of graham crackers, should measure 1 1/4 cups
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
Whir the graham crackers in a food processor until they make fine crumbs. Mix in the sugar and the butter. Press the mixture using the back of a spoon into your nine or 10 inch pie plate. Nine is probably better as my pie was a little low. Bake the crust at 350 for 10 minutes until it starts to brown. Remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 325.

Ingredients for the filling

1/2 cup key lime or lime juice, freshly squeezed
Four egg yolks
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons grated lime zest

Squeeze the limes until you have 1/2 cup of juice. (4-5 regular limes, more key limes.) Make sure to strain out the seeds. 


Whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and lime zest.  


Add the filling to the pie crust and bake for six minutes. Remove from the oven and set this aside while you make your meringue.


Ingredients for the meringue

Four egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
One half teaspoon vanilla

Using a clean bowl and mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks. Gradually beat in the suga