Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Golden Milk (Turmeric Latte) #recipe by Mia P. Manansala @MPMtheWriter

It's finally time for warm, cozy drinks, but in my world that also means fighting off allergies (I'm rather sensitive to the changing seasons and cold) and flu season! I had plans to share a different drink with you today, but after an allergy attack derailed a productive writing session (*sob*) on Monday, I whipped up a comforting, nutritious drink to get me back on track. It was exactly what I needed, and while I wouldn't say it cured me, it definitely gave me the boost I needed to get back to drafting Book 3.

Cast of Characters: Almond milk, black pepper, ground ginger, turmeric, cinnamon sticks, coconut oil, and honey

So what is golden milk? It's a creamy, earthy drink spiced with a good amount of turmeric, plus ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper to round out the flavors. All these ingredients are known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and I also sweetened my drink with local honey to take advantage of the allergy-fighting benefits of the pollen.

And if you don't believe in natural remedies like this? It's still a tasty, vegan (if you use a different sweetener than honey!) drink that's delicious at any time of day, but particularly comforting right before bed. Hope you give it a try!

Golden Milk Recipe

Yield: one 12 oz mug


  • 1 1/2 cups of milk (almond and/or coconut is best)
  • 3/4 - 1 tsp of ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp of ground ginger (or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon)
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1 - 2 tsp sweetener of choice (honey and maple syrup are excellent here, more to taste)
  • 1 - 2 tsp coconut oil, optional*

*like with my chai recipe, a milk with some fat in it is preferred because the fat helps disperse the flavor of the spices throughout the drink. If your milk is low-fat, I suggest adding the coconut oil.


  1. Put everything in a medium-sized sauce pan.
  2. Heat over medium heat, whisking often, until just before it boils, about five minutes. Taste and adjust spices or sweetness to your taste.
  3. Strain (if using fresh ginger and/or the cinnamon stick) or pour the golden milk into your mug.
  4. Enjoy while hot!
Put all the ingredients in a small-to-medium sized saucepan

Over medium heat, whisk the mixture until the spices and coconut oil are well-blended. Heat until just before it boils, about 4-5 minutes, whisking often.

Strain into a 12 oz mug.

Enjoy while hot!

Has anyone ever tried golden milk? What are your go-tos when you're feeling under the weather? Let me know in the comments!

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One of BuzzFeed’s Highly Anticipated Mystery Novels of 2021!

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…


Order from my local indies for signed, personalized copies:  

The Book Table (Oak Park, IL) 

Centuries & Sleuths (Forest Park, IL)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Mac O’Lanterns #Halloween recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: "Trick or treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat!"

As our conversation on Sunday made clear, Halloween is a time for fun, for kids and adults, so I always like to share something fun here. Like these Mummy Pizza Puffs, my Veggie Skeleton with Brain Dip, or Puff Pastry Rattlers

When I saw this recipe for bell peppers stuffed with an easy Mac ’n Cheese, it went straight to the top of the list of this year’s options. Turns out to have been a great choice—they’re cute as can be, easy, and totally in keeping with the season.

The recipe calls for 6 bell peppers. We stuffed two, then loaded the rest of the mac ’n cheese in a pair of LeCreuset dishes I found at TJ Maxx a few years ago that are the perfect size for dinner for two and go from freezer oven with only a brief pause for thawing. We’ll broil them for a few minutes, maybe with a dusting of seasoned bread crumbs on top, to heat them up and get two more main dishes out of the recipe.

Trick or Treat!

Mac O’Lanterns

adapted from the Food Network website

6 medium orange bell peppers

8 ounces elbow macaroni

1 1/4 cups half-and-half

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1-1/2 cups mild Cheddar, shredded 

salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.

Slice the tops off the peppers and reserve tops, with stems. Use a paring knife or sharp spoon to remove the seeds and membranes. When the water boils, slide in the peppers and tops and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a pair of tongs and plunge into the ice bath. When the peppers are cool, remove from water and drain, then use a sharp knife to carve a jack-o-lantern face into one side of each pepper.

Meanwhile, bring the water back to a boil. Cook macaroni until al dente, about 6-7 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. 

Add the half-and-half to the pot and cook, stirring regularly, over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Continue simmering until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the Cheddar until melted. 

Turn off the heat, add the pasta to the pot, and stir to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon the mixture into the peppers, cap each with a jaunty pepper top, and serve.

Serves 6. 

Happy Halloween!

From the cover of BITTERROOT LAKE, written as Alicia Beckman (Crooked Lane Books; available in hardcover, ebook, and audio): 

When four women separated by tragedy reunite at a lakeside Montana lodge, murder forces them to confront everything they thought they knew about the terrifying accident that tore them apart, in Agatha Award-winning author Alicia Beckman's suspense debut.

Twenty-five years ago, during a celebratory weekend at historic Whitetail Lodge, Sarah McCaskill had a vision. A dream. A nightmare. When a young man was killed, Sarah's guilt over having ignored the warning in her dreams devastated her. Her friendships with her closest friends, and her sister, fell apart as she worked to build a new life in a new city. But she never stopped loving Whitetail Lodge on the shores of Bitterroot Lake.

Now that she's a young widow, her mother urges her to return to the lodge for healing. But when she arrives, she's greeted by an old friend--and by news of a murder that's clearly tied to that tragic day she'll never forget.

And the dreams are back, too. What dangers are they warning of this time? As Sarah and her friends dig into the history of the lodge and the McCaskill family, they uncover a legacy of secrets and make a discovery that gives a chilling new meaning to the dreams. Now, they can no longer ignore the ominous portents from the past that point to a danger more present than any of them could know.

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. Watch for her first standalone suspense novel, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman) in April 2021 from Crooked Lane Books.

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 her website and subscribe to her seasonal newsletter, for a chat about the writing life, what she's working on, and  what she's reading -- and a free short story. And join her on Facebook where she shares book news and giveaways from her writer friends, and talks about food, mysteries, and the things that inspire her.

Monday, October 18, 2021

#Halloween Fruit Salad by Maya Corrigan

The autumn colors of candy corn appeal to me more than the taste of the Halloween treat. Visiting with my grandsons this week, I made them a healthy snack—a candy-corn inspired fruit cup.

To make the fruit cup, you'll need three colors of fresh or canned fruit: white, orange, and yellow, the colors of candy corn. 


1.Chop the white fruit for the small lower layer in small pieces. Squeeze lemon juice over chopped pieces of apple or pears to keep them from turning brown. Cover the bottom of the cup with the white layer. 

2, Add the orange layer next. Either fresh or canned Mandarin oranges work well. Layer the orange sections on top of the white fruit. 

3. For the top layer, use pineapple rings if your glass cup is wide enough for them. For a narrower glass, cut the pineapple in chunks.  

4. If desired, top the fruit cup with a Peeps marshmallow ghost on a small wood skewer.   

In my first attempt at the fruit cup, I started with a layer of candy corn on the bottom, figuring that would give the grandkids an incentive to finish their fruit. I also tucked some candy corn in the hole where the pineapple core was. Not a good idea. The candy's food coloring bled into the fruit. I ended up with sticky pinkish stuff at the bottom of the cup.

For my second attempt, I went with straight fruit and chopped a pear instead of an apple for a whiter color. 

The ghost declares my second attempt the winner!

For a more traditional holiday recipe, visit my Halloween post from last year when I made skeletal gingerdead man cookies

Gingerdead Man cookies with bones outlined in icing

The book giveaway associated with that post is long over, but here's another chance to win books. This  contest closes on Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021.
To enter a drawing for my Halloween-themed Five-Ingredient Mystery, Crypt Suzette, and three other cozy mysteries by Victoria Abbott, Lucy Burdette, Maddie Day, leave a comment on yesterday's post about Halloween.  

Have you ever made a special Halloween snack or do you prefer tried-and-true Halloween candy? 

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When a murder masquerades as an accident, Granddad's ghost-busting and Val's foray into a haunted house turn up clues to the killer.

As Val caters a Halloween party at Bayport’s bookshop, a group of would-be writers, the Fictionistas, compete in the costume contest. One of them, the secretive Suzette, rents a spare room from Granddad. When she’s found dead after a hit-and-run, the Fictionistas accuse one other of murder. Did one of them kill her or was her death rooted in the past she’d worked hard to escape? Val and Granddad must pull off a Halloween ruse to rip the mask off a murderer.

"Granddad is a hoot to live with, and his jobs as a food reviewer and part-time detective provide endless possibilities for fun and murder." -- Kirkus Review of Crypt Suzette


Maya Corrigan writes the Five-Ingredient Mysteries featuring café manger Val and her live-wire grandfather solving murders in a Chesapeake Bay town. Maya lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Before writing crime fiction, she taught American literature, writing, and detective fiction at Northern Virginia Community College and Georgetown University. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, travel, trivia, cooking, and crosswords.

Visit her website to sign up for her newsletter. One subscriber wins a book each time a newsletter goes out. Check out the easy recipes, mystery history and trivia, and a free culinary mystery story on the website.

Book covers of the 7 Five-Ingredient Mysteries by Maya Corrigan

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sunday Brunch #Halloween Memories + #Giveaway hosted by Maya Corrigan

: Halloween will be the focus of Mystery Lovers' Kitchen's posts for the next two weeks. To kick off the celebration, let's talk about a favorite Halloween memory. What costume, trick or treat, food, or party from the past still haunts you?

When I was growing up, Halloween wasn't the huge holiday it is now it. Costumes and trick-or-treating were for little kids. Older teens and adults didn't "dress up" for the festivities. But by the time I was working for a tech start-up, that had changed. One Halloween the thirty of us in the company came to work to compete in a costume contest. None of us wore masks because we had to work all day in our costumes. I dressed as an avatar from one of our software programs--a little girl with long black hair, an orange bow, and a yellow dress with black polka dots.

Until I sat down at my desk, no one recognized me. My husband was away that week and, when I later showed him a photo of the group in costume, he identified some of my colleagues, but he couldn't find me in the photo. He insisted I wasn't in it. I realized then that if you have short blond hair, you can disguise yourself by wearing a long black wig and clothing different from your usual outfits. In a book that came out fifteen years later, one of my characters did exactly that to hide her identity. By the way, the costume contest winner dressed as a cocktail. She's on my left, wearing a martini glass on her head with a monster-sized olive in it.

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MADDIE DAY: That's a great story, Maya! I did something similar. I've always loved costumes and fooling people. From when I left high school until I became a published author, I haven't worn makeup or lipstick or heels (still don't wear heels). So I went to a work Halloween party (in the evening) decades ago in a black puffy wig, a tight white jacket, tight short skirt, fishnet tights, and red heels. Red lipstick, black pointy glasses (from eighth grade!) and a cigarette rounded out the outfit. NOBODY knew who I was. I have pulled out that wig and those glasses for many a party over the years. Here's a pic of my best friend and me in matching crazy outfits, the same black wigs, and clownface at a party. We fooled people there, too.


LUCY BURDETTE: I love Halloween too and we often had costume parties in graduate school! Luckily, Key West is a town big on costumes too, so I've been able to weave quite a bit of that fun into my books. Knowing how to sew makes the costumes easier to produce. I'll show you a few of my favorites from over the years. Here's me as Wonder Woman, circa 1982:

And here's me as Kermit the frog with a pumpkin cornmeal poundcake to celebrate the season. Believe me, absolutely no one knew who I was as this party!

And finally, this is my hub and me getting dressed up for the zombie bike ride in Key West. This was research for a scene in Killer Takeout!


LESLIE KARST: I loved Halloween as a kid (though not so much now—the ringing doorbell and strangely-clad kids terrify my poor dog). And what I loved the most about it (besides the candy—duh!) was being able to dress as I wanted. These were the days when girls had to wear skirts or dresses to school, something that even as a seven-year-old I detested. So here’s how I dressed for Halloween that year:

As far as my adult years go, my favorite memory of the holiday is the Pumpkin Fest my friend Craig used to host on a yearly basis, where friends would come to his house and mass-carve pumpkins for the entire community to come and admire. (And on the big night, he’d also host a terrific meal at his house.) One year we carved about 700 jack o’lanterns!

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ:  This topic sent me back a few decades remembering the fun my parents had helping us dress up for Halloween. One year, they blew up giant balloons and we covered them in papier-mache with strips of cut newspapers and white glue, then when they hardened, burst the balloon and cut it out, cut a jack o'lantern face, and spray-painted the whole think orange. Voila, the pumpkin kids! Not that easy to walk in, but fun. And my dad thought bobbing for apples too messy -- not good to get kids wet and send them home that way on what could be a very cold day -- so he tied apples to long strings he attached to the ceiling and we had to bite the apple that way! (Obviously, I dressed myself the year of this photo!)

In my community, so many kids live out in the country or in areas where trick-or-treating house to house isn't safe, and a Halloween snowstorm is not an uncommon thing. So the village merchants---you know them from my Food Lovers' Village mysteries, based on my real town---turn our main street into Halloween Central. Business and traffic all but shut down, and merchants dress up and stand in their doorways handing out candy. Mr. Right and I have been known to wander into the village, find a rock wall or bench to perch on, and take in the sights. For a few hours on a late October afternoon, the streets are filled with joy as aspiring superheroes, ghosts, wizards, and other costumed creatures roam freely and safely, and just about everyone in town sports a grin as wide as Mr. Jack O'Lantern's. 
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TINA KASHIAN: I loved Halloween when I was young, and I still do! My teen girls still dress up and help hand out candy at home and then go to parties with friends. When I was young, my mother sewed our costumes. I learned how to sew from her, but I am not as good and rarely practice. Here’s a picture of me as a kid wearing a costume my mother sewed.


Here’s a pic of me from last year. Happy Halloween!

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PEG COCHRAN: So fun to recall all those Halloween memories! One childhood memory that wasn't so fun was the Halloween it rained and I was carrying my candy in a paper shopping bag...which was a bit too big for me so I alternately carried it and dragged it along the ground.  You guessed it--the bag broke!  Better memories include making costumes for my daughters. I remember my younger daughter watching in amazement as I turned a bolt of fabric into a harem costume for her.  I made a Dalmation costume for my older daughter--complete with glued on spots--and no one recognized her when she got to school!  To complete the 101 Dalmations theme my younger daughter went as Cruella de Ville.  Many years later, I went to a Halloween costume party as Cruella de Ville bringing things full circle! 

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MARY JANE MAFFINI:  I love Halloween. Always have, always will.  The photos and stories here today are so much fun.  Thanks to everyone for hanging on to those photos and sharing and to Maya for the entertaining topic. 

As for me, I look back fondly to the days when hordes of shrieking kids would burst forth onto our street as soon as it was dark, scrunching through dry leaves.  Most were wrapped in crepe-paper costumes and brandishing lit sparklers or firecrackers or both.  We waltzed into strangers’ houses and collected pillowcases full of treats and, if we were lucky, lots of candy cigarettes with bright red tips.  There wasn’t a parent in sight.  What could possibly go wrong?  

 When my kids were growing up, we were more safety conscious and I went out with them on Halloween. I could never resist wearing a costume, although I drew the line at trying for treats. These days we take a more homey approach and wait to answer the door. But as the day approaches, my husband carves the Jack-o-lanterns and I get the dogs’ costumes ready.  

Penny is dressed as Miss Pumpkin and Ivy always feels she's Wonder Woman anyway. As you can see, they are eager to trick or treat even if it's at home.  They've been promised something special if they stay still for the camera.

Some of you may recognize our daughter Victoria's Peachy the Pug aka Walter from the Victoria Abbott Book Collector mysteries. There's always a pug on the cover!

We always haul out the black cast-iron cauldron and fill it with Reese’s Pieces.   If Victoria is around we pop spiders in our hair or we may go with witchesR