Sunday, June 13, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Cricket McRae!

Thanks for posting today, Cricket! Cricket is the author of the Home Crafting Mystery Series featuring protagonist Sophie Mae. The fourth book in the series, Something Borrowed, Something Bleu, releases July 1 from Midnight Ink.

Something_Bleu What fun to contribute a recipe to Mystery Lover's Kitchen! I'm a big fan. Thanks for inviting me to guest here.

Amidst the murder, mayhem, soap making and spinning, the characters in my Sophie Mae Reynolds Home Crafting Mysteries eat pretty well. That's especially the case when the home craft that provides the backdrop for the murder plot involves food. And in Something Borrowed, Something Bleu, to be released on July 1st, it does: cheese making.

Sophie Mae travels back to her home town of Spring Creek, Colorado to look into her brother's suicide eighteen years after the fact. A suicide notes has surfaced, and with her penchant for investigation she hopes to bring closure to her parents after nearly two decades of wondering.

It's August when she arrives, which means lots of fresh garden produce. She's learning how to make cheese at the local dairy, so there is plenty of fresh cheese available. And it's Colorado, so Mexican food is popular. Her father, Calvin Watson, takes over most of the cooking in this book. One of his specialties is baked chile rellenos.

chili relleno3

Baked Chile Rellenos

8-10 fresh poblano chiles (also known as ancho chiles)

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 Tablespoon nitrate-free bacon grease

1 small onion, diced (about a cup)

3 cloves garlic, crushed

29 ounces canned, diced tomatoes (2 cans)

1 cup chorizo (or other spicy sausage), cooked and drained

1 cup cooked chicken, shredded

1 cup crumbled queso fresco (found near the ricotta in most grocery stores)

2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced (or if you have epazote -- Mexican oregano -- use that)

12 eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups Monterey jack or mild Cheddar, shredded

chili relleno plate closeup If you can find the chiles already roasted at a grocery store or farmer's market, snap them up. Otherwise, wash the fresh chiles thoroughly and place on a hot grill, turning often with tongs, until the skin blisters and begins to blacken. You're not looking to cook them so much as loosen the skins without burning holes in the peppers you'll be stuffing. When blistered all over, put in a plastic bag to cool. The peppers will have softened and the skins should rinse right off. And if you leave a bit of skin here and there, no big deal. Carefully remove the stems and as many seeds as possible. Pat dry.

Heat canola oil and bacon grease (or 2 Tablespoons of canola oil if the idea of bacon grease is verboten) and cook onion until just translucent over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two until the aroma is released. Add the tomatoes, with juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Pour thickened sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan, spreading evenly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine cooked chorizo, chicken, queso fresco and oregano. Salt to taste. I usually add at least a teaspoon, since the cheese isn't salted. Carefully stuff the mixture into the peppers and lay them on top of the tomato sauce. There will be splits and occasional holes in the peppers -- don't worry. Like paneer, queso fresco doesn't melt and dribble out when heated! So the peppers will still retain integrity when baked.

Spread half the shredded cheese over the peppers.

Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl, or use the low setting on an electric mixer. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt, incorporating thoroughly. Pour egg mixture over the peppers. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over the top and bake the chile rellenos until the egg mixture is set but still tender, about 40 minutes. Start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

My favorite accompaniments are homemade refried beans (

), a simple salad, guacamole and sour cream. Oh, and maybe a pale ale.

I should mention that poblanos vary in heat, so it's hard to predict how hot these will be. If you like heat, go for it. Use all chorizo and leave out the chicken, use pepper jack instead of plain. But if you like less heat, use all chicken, or stuff with sauteed mushrooms, more shredded Monterey jack or Cheddar, or pork carnitas. You can even use chopped shrimp if that's the way you roll. After all, the best recipes are the ones you can make your own, right?

Look for other recipes from the Home Crafting Mystery Series, along with my ramblings on writing and all things domestic over at

. For more information about my books, check out




And now to celebrate the upcoming release of THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE,
Avery is hosting our next exciting contest!

Avery's "You Be The Sleuth" Contest!

Avery’s first book in A Cheese Shop Mystery series, The Long Quiche Goodbye, debuts July 6. To celebrate its release, Avery is running a contest from June 9 to July 6! You be the sleuth! Track down the recipe on Avery's website that includes eggs, Edam, and white pepper. Enter your answer by clicking on this link: CONTEST ENTRY FORM.

One of you will win a $25 gift certificate at your favorite bookstore. Two of you will win signed copies of The Long Quiche Goodbye. Three of you will win a Long Quiche Goodbye magnet. You can ask friends for help. Spread the word and share the fun. And while you're there, consider pre-ordering a book on Avery's booksellers page.

Here is the link to Avery’s website to help get you started.


  1. I love chile rellenos. This is another recipe for my keeper box. I may have to make a small batch just for me since my son won't eat peppers. Darn kid doesn't know what's good!

  2. Cricket, I just discovered your work and I'm looking forward to getting to know Sophie Mae.

  3. Thanks so much for coming today, Cricket! Love this recipe. It makes me want something spicy...and it's just 8 a.m.!

  4. The recipes sounds yummy. Congratulations on your upcoming release and best of luck. Can't wait to see what all Sophie Mae gets involved in.

    Thoughts in Progress

  5. Thanks for joining us, Cricket. Love your cover and your clever title!

    Your Chile Rellenos look great!

    ~ Krista

  6. Quiche with peppers? Brilliant. I can't believe I haven't thought of it. I love quiche.

  7. Melissa, since your son won't eat peppers that leaves more for you, right? ;) This recipe is easy to cut in half, and the leftovers freeze well.

    Dru, hope you have fun with Sophie Mae!

    Elizabeth, thank YOU for inviting me to guest. And I think I could eat Mexican food morning, noon and night.

    Thanks, Mason. Looking forward to guesting over at Thoughts in Progress on July 1.

    Krista, I'm so glad to be here! And thanks for the cover kudos -- I'm very grateful to the talented Midnight Ink artist, Lisa Novak, who has designed all the covers in my series.

    Juju, the eggy bit is like a quiche that married a souffle. The longer you beat them the fluffier they'll bake up.

  8. Welcome, Cricket. As you know, I love anything with or about cheese. This looks like a tasty recipe! How fun that your character is into learning how to do so many things!

  9. Wow what a delightful no calorie site. I will subscribe and enjoy with my morning coffee. Thank you
    Bernadine Riley

  10. Yum! This recipe sounds terrific.
    Thanks for stopping by the kitchen, Cricket!

  11. Now I'm hungry. What beer would you recommend?

  12. Sounds totally yummy. As soon as we get an oven, I'll give this one a try. Cooking is limited during kitchen renovations, I fear.

  13. Thanks, Avery -- I'm looking forward to your cheese shop mysteries.

    Bernadine, you're going to love this site! Lots of good food and tons of contests.

    Thanks, Jenn. I'm having a blast here.

    Mario, I'd have to go local with a New Belgium Fat Tire amber ale or 1554 dark ale.

    Good luck with your renovation, Terry. Makes you get kind of creative with the microwave, eh? ; )

  14. Oh, I love Chile Rellenos! I've never made it at home and I'm definitely giving your version a spin. I appreciate your detailed tips, too. (IMO - A little bacon grease does amazing things for flavor, doesn't it?)

    Thanks also for you nice words about our blog. And congrats on the release of Something Borrowed, Something Bleu! I can't help wondering if (like our own cheese maven, Avery Aames) you did a lot of cheese tasting while researching it? I'll bet it wasn't too trying. :-)

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  15. Welcome, Cricket. I love your name, by the way. Thanks for the wonderful recipe and best of luck on the upcoming release. I've been more interested in cheese lately thanks to Avery and this one sounds like my kind of story!


  16. Cleo, everything's better with bacon, right? I actually researched by doing a lot of cheese making, mostly fresh varieties (like the queso fresco in this recipe).

    Thanks for the kind words, Julie. What a terrific group of cooks -- and writers -- you all are. I had a great time visiting today.

  17. Hi Cricket, it's great to see you here at one of my favorite food blogs. I was interested in your use of bacon fat since I've just switched to the uncured bacon for BLTs. It has a shorter "refrigerator life" than the nitrate-loaded stuff, so I'm guessing the fridge life of the bacon grease is shorter as well. Any recommendations?

  18. Cricket the recipe sounds great and I am so excited to hear your new book is coming out soon. Are you having a book launch party or anything here in town?