Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Zucchini Fritters #recipe from author @DarylWoodGerber

From Daryl:

One of my favorite vegetables is zucchini.  I sauté it, stir fry it, use it in baking, and use it in casseroles. It's so versatile and it's good for you. According to nutrition sites,  it's good for weight loss (if you only eat zucchini and nothing else, I think...LOL). 

Zucchini is low in starch. Low in calories. It is low in cholesterol and fat and sodium, which is good for your heart. Of all things, it's high in copper, which is good for your lungs. 

And zucchini, like cucumber, can actually help with puffy eyes!

But let's get real. This blog is about the food itself. Does it taste good? Heck, yeah!  I love how zucchini works with so many other flavors. In particular, as far as this recipe is concerned, with Parmesan cheese and sour cream. Yum!

I make these fritters gluten-free, but for those of you who can eat regular flour, feel free to substitute the rice cereal with bread crumbs.

Nice side dish or if you're a vegetarian, an entire meal! Enjoy.

Zucchini Fritters

Serves 1 – 2
Receive may be doubled…or tripled...or...

1 egg, whisked
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 egg, whisked
1/4 cup rice cereal, smashed
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon oil
sour cream or sauce of choice
extra Parmesan, if desired (and for me, it's always desired!)

In a small bowl, whisk the egg. Add the chopped zucchini. Stir well.  Mix into the rice cereal and parmesan cheese.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan on medium-high. When hot, set 2-3 tablespoons of mixture into the oil and flatten.  It should make 4 portions. Cook for 2 minutes. Flip, using a spatula. Cook 2-3 minutes longer until golden brown.

Serve immediately with sour cream, or tomato sauce, or sauce of choice and extra parmesan, if desired.


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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Sauteed Arugula with Bell Pepper

LESLIE: A few years ago, when arugula had just become trendy, I was out to eat with my mother. She spotted something on the menu with it and asked “What’s so great about arugula?” (Imagine a sniffy, skeptical tone.) I ordered the dish --- I have no idea now what it was -- and when it came, I gave her a bite. “Oh,” she said. (Imagine astonishment.) “That tastes like rocket.”

Because rocket is what it was called for years in this country. It’s part of the Brassicaceae family, along with broccoli, kale, and all kinds of cabbages and cresses. The taste is fresh and peppery, but not hot. Suffice to say, my mother loved it. (Because she was kind of spicy and hot.)

This saute is super-easy and goes well with steak, chicken, or fish. The astute among you may notice that my bell pepper changed color. This is not a natural by-product of cooking. < smile > One of my photos from the original try-out was blurry, so when we made it again later in the week, with a different pepper, I got a better shot.

In cooking the greens, aim for “wilted” rather than “cooked.” That will take the off the bitter edge but still give you a lovely, brightly colored dish. If you enjoy a bit of heat, add some red pepper flakes when you add the garlic.

Sauteed Arugula with Bell Peppers

1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces baby arugula
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

In a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the peppers and saute until they begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes.

Add the garlic and saute briefly, about a minute.

Gradually add the arugula and stir gently until it begins to wilt, 2-3 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir gently. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

(And no, the peppers didn't change color! We made this twice and I intermingled the photos.) 

From the cover of CHAI ANOTHER DAY, Spice Shop Mystery #4 (Seventh St. Books): 

 Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother's house hunt, and a fisherman who's set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee's vintage home decor shop that ends in murder. 

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend - and Pepper herself.

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, and is now nominated for a Macavity award; read it on her website. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, 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 16, 2019

Sugar-Top Pumpkin Muffins

It's officially pumpkin season! I've been working on a new Pumpkin Bundt Cake recipe that inspired me to try some pumpkin muffins today. I used the trick of dipping the tops into butter and rolling them in sugar. I love that sweet crunch on the top.

Between melted butter, vegetable oil, and pumpkin, these are muffins are outrageously moist! And the lovely fall flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg are there, too. They don't take long to whip up, either. As long as you have some canned pumpkin in the pantry, you're set because you probably have everything else there, as well.

Sugar-Top Pumpkin Muffins

Makes 10 average-size muffins.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pureed pumpkin

Sugar Topping
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with muffin papers.

Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Crack the egg into another bowl and whisk with the vegetable oil. Add the cooled melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, and vanilla and whisk. Mix in the pumpkin. Pour the flour mixture over the egg mixture and turn with a large spoon or spatula until the flour is no longer visible. After that give it a few more firm strokes. Pour into the muffin papers, filling each about 3/4 full.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping by melting the butter. Pour it into a small bowl, just large enough to dip the muffin into. Pour the sugar in a similar bowl.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Allow to rest for about five minutes. Take each muffin out of the pan, dip in the melted butter, and then roll the top in the sugar.

This is in a glass bowl!

Whisk the egg with the sugars.

Coming November 26th!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Welcome Ellen Byron!

A very warm welcome to Ellen Byron today! This recipe will leave you craving Cajun food. I'm wondering if I have any shrimp in the freezer!

Don't miss Ellen's Giveaway at the end of this post!


Today is the birthday of the author to whom I credit my passion for mysteries – Dame Agatha Christie. I like to describe Pelican, the fiction town in my Cajun Country Mystery series, as a Cajun Brigadoon. But it’s also a Louisiana version of Miss Marple’s village, St. Mary Mead. A lovely, bucolic setting with a disproportionate number of murders. It’s a place you’d love to visit… as long as you stay out of trouble.

Dame Agatha didn’t include recipes in her books, which might have something to do with England’s then-reputation for lackluster cuisine. I faced a different problem. I’m not a cook by nature – maybe Agatha wasn’t either – but how could I not include recipes when I’m writing about a region famous for its cuisine?

When I was musing about what recipes I might add to FATAL CAJUN FESTIVAL, my latest Cajun Country Mystery, Shrimp Etouffee quickly came to mind. “Etouffee” literally means “smothered” in French. In Cajun cooking, that translates to a delicious dish of shrimp or crawfish smothered in a veggie-laden sauce.

The recipe I created is definitely more Cajun than Creole because it doesn’t include tomatoes, a staple of many Creole dishes. This really lets the flavors of the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun cooking – onions, green pepper, and celery – stand out. Plus, it’s easy to make but looks impressive. Guests will think you spent hours slaving over a hot stove!

Oh, how I wish I could have served this dish to Agatha Christie to thank her for setting me on a path that changed my life.

½ lb. butter or light butter
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
¼ cup chopped celery
2 T. minced garlic
2 T. dried parsley flakes
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. Cajun Seasoning, like Tony Chachere’s
1 T. flour (or 2 T. if you want to thicken the sauce more)
1 cup either shrimp stock, crawfish stock, chicken stock, or water
1 lb. peeled shrimp or peeled crawfish tails
6 cups cooked white rice

Using medium to high heat, melt the butter in a heavy, large skillet. Add the onion, pepper, celery, garlic, parsley, salt, and Cajun seasoning. Stir well to combine all the ingredients, then reduce the heat a bit and cook until the onion softens. Add the flour, stirring well. As soon as the flour is absorbed, add the stock slowly until you’ve added it all to the mixture, stirring well to combine. Simmer the mixture until it bubbles, add the shrimp or crawfish, and stir well. Bring the mixture to a bubble again,  then reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet and simmer the etouffe for ten to fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over 1 cup of white rice per serving. Or…

Except for the butter, this recipe is pretty low-calorie. If you want to make it even more so, served it over riced cauliflower instead of rice.

Also, have hot sauce handy for anyone who prefers their Cajun food with a kick!

Serves 6.


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Saturday, September 14, 2019

#Chicken Stir Fry with Bok Choy by @Denise Swanson

My husband and I love Chinese food, but we're trying to cut back on sodium and eliminate the MSG from our diets so we've been trying a lot of Asian inspired recipes at home. If your grocery store doesn’t carry baby bok choy you can substitute 1 lb. of chopped regular bok choy or even Napa cabbage. Serve this dish over rice noodles or steamed brown rice to soak up all the delicious sauce.


 1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch  pieces
 3 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. cornstarch, divided
 1/4 cup canola oil, divided
 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
 1 teaspoon honey
 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
 4 baby bok choy, trimmed and halved 
 1/4 cup water
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1 1/2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
 3 large garlic cloves, minced
                                                                                    1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Sprinkle chicken with 3 tablespoons cornstarch. Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet over high. Add chicken and cook until browned (about 8 minutes). Set aside and wipe wok clean.

Combine orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, red pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch, then set aside.