Thursday, December 12, 2019

Swedish Christmas Cardamon Bread from Essie Lang, author

Have you started your Christmas baking yet? Have you finished it? It's time for me to pull out my Mom's recipe for Swedish Christmas Cardamon coffee bread. I make it every  year and that's the only baking I do. I admit it, I'm not into desserts (although I can be persuaded to eat the odd chocolatey mousse or Yule Log).

But it wouldn't be Christmas without the aroma and taste of this delicious Swedish Coffee bread. It brings back so many precious childhood memories. And, I'm ever on the quest to make a bread that tastes just like hers. Haven't hit the mark yet but who knows, this could be the year!

The memory and the taste are all rolled into one. I wear her Christmas apron when I'm baking. And I know she's there with me as I'm kneading and rolling the dough, sometimes pinching her lips, often smiling. That's Christmas to me.

My Mom made it every year that I can remember and my Dad would wake me Christmas morning when it was still dark out, bringing me a cup of freshly-brewed coffee and a slice of coffee bread. I loved it and didn't even mind the early hour. In fact, it was exciting, eating my treat in bed then getting washed and dressed, to drive the empty streets to our church for the early morning service. It would start with candles and by the time the service was over, it would be light outside. Magical.

Just a note about the topping - I coat the bread with a whisked egg and then sprinkle sugar on top. But you could just as easily use nuts or dried fruit, whatever your family enjoys.

What you'll need:

6 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
2 packages active dry yeast
1 tsp. crushed cardamom seed
1 large eggs, room temperature
2. c. warm water
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter (or margarine) softened
1 tbsp milk (I used almond milk)
sugar for sprinkling on top

What to do:

1.  Pre-measure all ingredients and have at the ready. Sprinkle yeast into 2 c. warm water in a large mixing bowl and let stand for about 5 minutes until the yeast starts to bloom. Stir.

2.  Stir in 1 egg, 1/3 c. sugar, salt, cardamom, butter and about 1/2 the flour.  Use an electric mixer or stir by hand until mixed then add the remaining flour. Continue to stir until the dough is soft and can form a large ball.

3.  Place the dough in a greased large bowl, then turn over to grease the other side. Cover and place in a warm spot for 1 hour. It should then be doubled in size.

4.  Punch down then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for at least 5 minutes. It should be smooth and free from all bubbles.

5.  Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape into ropes that are approx. 1 inch wide. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Use 3 at a time to form two braids. Cover with a cloth and place in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

6.  Mix the remaining egg, lightly beaten, with the milk and brush onto the braids. Sprinkle with sugar. Now's the time to add any other festive toppings you'd like. Place in a pre-heated 375 F oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned and thoroughly baked. Remove and cool on a rack before slicing.

Do you have a special memory of Christmas that's triggered each time you taste, or even think of some Christmas baking?

I'm happy to announce that book #2, DEATH ON THE PAGE, will be released in March, 2020

coming March, 2020

  The first in the Castle Bookshop Mysteries is available in hardcover, e-book, and audio!

  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

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  
Check me out at

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

#SausageRavioli Soup from Ellie Alexander

Winter has arrived early here in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve had a round of storms that have dumped rain and snow and ushered in biting winds. Nothing keeps a storm at bay like a hearty bowl of soup. That’s why I created this sausage ravioli winter soup. It’s a meal in one bowl, and you can easily make it vegetarian by swapping beef stock with vegetable stock and sausage ravioli with cheese. It’s also a quick option for dinner during the busy holiday season, since it takes less than an hour from start to finish. 

An added bonus of making a pot of this hearty soup? Leftovers! There’s nothing like a warm bowl of soup for a cold December lunch pick-me-up.

Sausage Ravioli Soup

Olive oil 
1 white onion
12-15 baby carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 stalk fresh rosemary 
2 14.5 ounce cans of diced tomatoes 
1 14.5 ounce can of white beans
32 ounces of beef or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning 
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt 
1 package sausage or cheese ravioli 

Add a healthy glug of olive oil to a soup pot, and heat on medium low. Chop onion and carrots.

Sauté in olive oil until onions become translucent, about five minutes. Dice garlic. Add to onions and carrots. 

Then add tomatoes, beans, beef stock, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring to a gentle boil. 

Turn down heat, cover, and simmer for thirty minutes. Finely chop rosemary, add along with ravioli and allow to simmer for another five to ten minutes. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese and crusty bread.

I’m so excited to have not one but two new books out in the world! A CUP OF HOLIDAY FEAR, the 10th book in the Bakeshop Mysteries and BEYOND A REASONABLE STOUT, the 3rd book in the Sloan Krause Mysteries.

Connect with me on Instagram
Connect with me on Facebook
Connect with me on Twitter

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Lime Meltaway Christmas Cookies + #Giveaway News from Cleo Coyle #ChristmasCookies

This is an exciting week for my husband and I. We are (at last!) celebrating the release of our brand new Coffeehouse Mystery, Brewed Awakening...and already at work on our next one for our longtime publisher. More to come soon on that. In the meantime, we hope you will pick up our new release and read with joy!

By now, many of you are shopping for holiday gifts, decorating your homes, and even baking up goodies. Or maybe you’re ahead of the curve and already completed your list of holiday tasks, good for you. 

Us? We're not even close!

We have our little tree up in our living room, and even a tiny, desktop tree blinking away at night in our bedroom. But because of our new Coffeehouse Mystery release, our holiday baking is coming later this month.

Today we're sharing a holiday cookie we'll be making, and (below) we'll tell you why it's one of our favorites for this time of year...

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

We love this cookie! And here's why:

(1) The pretty, snow-dusted orbs look impressive on holiday dessert and party trays, yet require no special decorating skills to make. 

(2) These babies pack wonderful flavor into every meltaway bite. They also freeze beautifully. Yes! You can make them ahead of time, freeze them, and thaw before serving. 

(3) It's a cookie outside the usual box of holiday spices. Don't get us wrong. We love gingerbread and the traditional mix of Christmas ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. We've published enough recipes using them, too. But not everyone is a fan of traditional holiday flavors. These lime meltaway cookies bring lovely flavor to the party with flecks of "green" appropriate for "red and green" Christmas colors while also adding variety to your cookie tray.

May you bake them with love and eat with holiday joy! 

~ Cleo 

To download this recipe
in a free PDF document 
that you can print, save, 

☕ Cleo Coyle’s 
Lime Meltaway Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies


1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh lime zest* (see my lime note below)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice* (see my lime note)

For sugar-dusting:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest* (see my note)

*Lime Note: If you can’t find Key limes (best choice), simply substitute the more common (Persian) limes for this recipe. The tart flavor will be less intense, but the cookies will still taste delicious. For best results, do not use bottled or pre-packaged lime juice. Use fresh! 

Warning: Lime juice may curdle your butter so follow this recipe's directions. Do not add the lime juice to the dough until the end of the mixing process.

Directions: First preheat your oven to 325° F. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Blend in the vanilla extract, salt, and lime zest.

Add the flour and baking powder, and mix very briefly until a shaggy dough forms.

Now add your lime juice and mix until a smooth dough comes together, but do not over-mix or you will develop the gluten in the flour, and your cookies will be tough instead of tender.

Roll the dough into balls
about one inch in diameter.

Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The cookies are done when bottoms are slightly browned.

Note that cookies are fragile while warm, so handle with care.

To finish, mix ½ cup confectioners’ sugar with 2 teaspoons lime zest in a shallow bowl. While cookies are still warm, gently roll them, one at a time, in the bowl of sugar and lime zest.

After all the cookies are coated, finish by sprinkling any remaining sugar-lime mixture over the cookie tops.

Store cooled cookies in an airtight plastic container. These cookies also freeze very well. I store my extras in freezer-safe resealable plastic bags.

Eat with holiday joy! 

~ Cleo Coyle

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

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

Friend us on Facebook here.
Follow us on Twitter here.
Visit our online coffeehouse here

Just Released!

Our NEW Coffeehouse Mystery!

Learn more or buy at: