Friday, February 15, 2019


Another nice simple recipe: bread, butter, eggs, milk, sugar and raisins. It still falls under the heading of “comfort food” even though it comes from a pub cookbook. I will confess that dessert is not why I go to Irish pubs, but this sounded tasty, and it does turn a pretty gold when it’s cooked.

Bread and Butter Pudding


6 Tblsp salted butter, softened

6 thick slices hearty white bread
1/4 cup each of raisins, golden raisins and currants (or other dried fruit)
3 large eggs
1-1/4 cups whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
Grated nutmeg (optional)
1 Tblsp demerara (coarse) sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Use a little butter to grease a 9”x9” or 8"x10" baking pan. Then use the rest of the butter to generously coat the bread slices (both sides). Cut the slices into quarters or halves (depending on your bread) and overlap half of them in the bottom of the baking dish.

Scatter half the dried fruit over the bread. Cover with the rest of the bread slices and add the rest of the dried fruit.

Whisk the eggs in a large pitcher (or a bowl with a pour spout), then mix in the cream, milk and granulated sugar. Pour the mixture over the bread layers and let stand for 15 minutes more or less so the bread soaks up some of the liquid.

Grate some nutmeg over the top (if you want) then sprinkle on the demerara sugar.

Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake in the upper part of the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until the liquid is set and the bread is golden-brown on top.

Remove from the oven and serve warm. (This will cut fairly easily without falling apart.)

You can vary the type of bread you use, and also the dried fruit. Or add some candied fruit as well.

I'm still trying to remember if I've ever had dessert in an Irish pub. Of course, "pub" is a variable term--it can be anything from a dark hole in the wall with a bunch of guys drinking pints and not saying much to a large space filled with people who might happen to be playing Trivial Pursuit (I've seen it), that just happens to have a bar somewhere in the room. But most of them are friendly places, so why not have dessert?

(P.S. I'd give you more pretty pictures but I'm between computers and everything seems to be somewhere else. But Maura and her staff are building a new kitchen at Sullivan's, so I'll be looking for easy pub recipes. Funny--the same thing is happening at the "real" pub, Connolly's, that's the model for Sullivan's. Last time I looked, what used to be the kitchen was rubble, but the new one will be bigger and better!)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Touch of Spring Salad in a Bowl #recipe from Linda Wiken, author

Today may be the day of chocolates and wine, of steak dinners for two, and of delectable heart-shaped desserts. But I'm offering something different here. Looking out the window at our still-accumulating snow piles, I need a taste of spring. So, here's a simple but delicious salad -- just close your drapes and enjoy.

I used the asparagus raw and pre-cooked the rice and chicken so that they were cold, although you could definitely use them hot. It just depends on how spring-like you want to be.

And although I'm making this for one, it can easily be turned into a romantic salad for two. Just add the wine and you're all set.

What you'll need:

1 chicken breast, skinless and de-boned
5 asparagus spears
1/2 avocado
1/2 Bosc pair
4 grape tomatoes
herbs de provence mixture
fresh lettuce
wild and brown rice

What to do:

If  using the chicken hot, then slather the breast in olive oil (I love using olive oil!), and sprinkle with herbs. Bake in preheated 350F oven, on a parchment lined baking sheet, for 20 minutes or until no longer pink on inside. This will depend on the thickness of  the piece, of course

If using hot rice, then prepare on the stove according to package instructions.

Wash the asparagus, breaking off the bottoms of the spears. Wash and slice the pear and the avocado.

Also wash the grape tomatoes and lettuce leaves.

Line bowl with a variety of lettuce leaves then arrange the cold ingredients. After letting the chicken rest, slice it and add to the bowl, along with a scoop of rice. Serve your favorite dressing or vinaigrette on the side. Add a fresh dinner role or biscuit.

Happy Valentine's Day...and Happy Spring, when it finally arrives.

Coming in March, the first of the Castle Bookshop Mysteries 
written by Essie Lang (that's me!)

  Dine out with the DINNER CLUB MYSTERIES

Here's a taste of the reviews for Marinating in Murder, #3:     

Wiken’s third entry to the Dinner Club series is a clever twist on the classic whodunit… The book will have you guessing until the very end…. All in all, an intriguing read by Wiken.” – RT Reviews

"Foodies will love this book and this series. Great recipes are included as well....A fun romp of intrigue filled with foodie fun." -- Open Book Society

ROUX THE DAY,  the second  Dinner Club Mystery is available in paper and as an e-book. 
Recipes included!

TOASTING UP TROUBLE, the first in the Dinner Club Mysteries is available at your favorite bookstore and on-line, as a paperback and as an e-book.  
Recipes included!

Writing as Erika Chase -- the Ashton Corners Book Club Mystery series are available on-line or at your favorite bookstore.

Visit Linda at
Love to hear from you at my Facebook author page and
on Twitter  @LWiken  
Also appearing at

Visit Erika at 
 at my Facebook author page
and on Twitter  @erika_chase.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Dried Blueberry and Chocolate Muffins #recipe from author @DarylWoodGerber

A simply sweet treat for Valentine's Day - so easy! 

So there I was, pulling a Rachel Ray, going through my cupboards wondering what I had to use up, and I found dried blueberries. I'm not sure why I had them. Maybe one of my DILs brought them for the kids. So I searched online for something to make with dried blueberries. I was hoping for a muffin. The beauty of muffins is they're easy to make and cook up in under a half hour. Instant gratification.

As for the blueberries, I've used dates and raisins in lots of baked goods and knew there had to be some recipe for dried blueberries. Well, it turns out there are lots of recipes. And they work like regular blueberries. All you have to do to plump up the dried blueberries is cover with water (for about 15-20 minutes) and then drain off the water before using. 

Note: They do NOT taste like fresh blueberries—by that I mean, they don't explode in your mouth; not even after being plumped—but they do taste yummy.  

Now, the recipe I found didn't seem quite right. It used "shortening." I can't remember the last time I used shortening in anything.  The closest thing to that would have been coconut "oil" because it congeals like shortening. [Coconut oil is so  much better for you. But I didn't want to use coconut oil and change the flavor.] So, rather than use shortening, I switched to canola oil. I would bet you could use butter, if you desired. Plus I added chocolate chips to the muffins. Because why not? I had a partially used bag of those lying around, too. I can't buy a whole new bag until the old one is used up, right? And I need a full bag in the house. Ha!

This recipe turned out lovely. I made the muffins gluten-free, but I know using regular flour would be just as nice. (See my notes about that at the end.)  I wrapped each individually after they cooled and stored half in the freezer.  As for the ones I didn't freeze, they heat nicely in the microwave. About 15 seconds on medium-high for that "warm-from-the-oven" flavor. 


Dried Blueberry Muffins
(*See below for regular flour)
 (yield: 12 muffins)

1/4 cup dried blueberries
2 cups gluten-free flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon whey powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar + 2 teaspoons for sprinkling
1 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, if you dare (minis would be best)

Put the blueberries in a small bowl and add just enough hot water to cover.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, mix the gluten-free flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.  (*See below for regular flour)

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, milk, oil, and egg.  Whisk to combine.  Add the dry ingredients and stir.

Drain the blueberries and add them to the mixture. If desired, add chocolate chips. Stir until the goodies are evenly distributed.

Fill 12 muffin cups approximately 2/3 full. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar.

Bake at 375 until lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick, inserted, comes out clean.

*to make these using regular flour, substitute the GF flour with regular and omit the xanthan gum. You don't need the whey powder, either. I use that in gluten-free cooking to keep the texture moist. GF flours can dry out.

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A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION, the 2nd French Bistro Mystery.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Cleo Coyle’s Pretty in Pink Coffeehouse Cookies for #Valentine’s Day

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

Our readers may remember these pretty, pink cookies from our recent bestselling culinary mystery Dead Cold Brew. Our beloved amateur sleuth Clare invented them for her Village Blend coffeehouse, where they continually sell out, especially around (yes) Valentine’s Day

Consider this recipe our culinary Valentine for you. The cookies are easy to make. No special decorating skills needed, yet they make an impressive-looking addition for any party tray. As for the taste, they’re tender and delicious. The sophisticated cream cheese dough carries a sweet, light note of raspberry (or, if you like, cherry or strawberry). And, because the eyes eat first, Clare suggests you present your cookies in style with loose, whole raspberries, sliced strawberries, fresh cherries, or even cranberries as a decorative accent on plates or trays. 

💕 Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. 
May you eat with pretty, pink joy! 

~ Cleo 


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

Click here for the Free Recipe PDF.

 💕 Cleo Coyle's
Pretty in Pink Coffeehouse Cookies
for Valentine's Day

Makes about 30 cookies (d