Sunday, February 20, 2011

Please Welcome Guest Blogger Misa Ramirez!

I'm so happy to have Misa Ramirez (aka Melissa Bourbon) in the Kitchen today. Misa lives just down the road in Argyle, Texas, with her amazing husband and five wildly talented children. Honestly, they're the most gorgeous family you've ever seen. Misa manages to keep her bustling household intact while writing fabulous books: the Lola Cruz Mysteries, a series of romantic suspense novels based on Mexican legends, and a new Magical Dressmaking cozy mystery series (as Melissa Bourbon). Oh, and she's also a fantastic friend. In short, she's my hero!


Since I have a thing for all things Mexican--starting with my husband--it was a logical leap for me to include food in my books. My Lola Cruz Mystery series, as well as the brand new A Deadly Curse (A Mexican Legend Romantic Suspense), feature food fairly prominently. In the Lola books, the family owns a Mexican restaurant. In A Deadly Curse, and the soon-to-be-released A Deadly Sacrifice, the Vargas brothers own a bar/restaurant, cook, and so much happens in the kitchen.

The kitchen is the heart of the home... and often the heart of my books. In my personal life (in relation to cooking), I always know I’ve hit a homerun with a recipe when mi esposo so eloquently says, “Man, this is better than my mom’s.”

That’s my gauge. If I can make my MIL’s recipes better than she can, then, oh yeah, I’m golden. I silently gloat.

Okay, maybe not so silently. I soak up the praise and revel in it.

And the thing is, my recipes are way...I mean, WAY... easier than hers! How can that be when they’re her recipes? Maybe my husband’s senses have dulled after 20 years. It’s possible. But really, I think it’s because I make the food with love.

Everybody say, “Awwwww....”

All kidding aside, here’s an example. She makes classic Spanish rice, like, everyday. It requires her own canned tomatoes pureed with fresh onions and garlic. In a blender. Forget about the days of canning during the summer (not to mention the gardening involved in actually growing enough tomatoes to can 100 + jars). I have five kids. And the afore-mentioned husband. Plus, you know, a job (as a writer, which means I’m at home a lot, but still, I’m in front of my computer, not in front of a blender). And I teach on the side. So simplification has become my middle name.

MY Spanish rice recipe does not require gardening, canning, slicing, chopping, or appliances. And it’s good! “Better than my mom’s,” says my husband, and he’s not under duress.

So here is the Lola Cruz Spanish rice recipe for your everyday enjoyment. Easy, schmeasy. No blender required.

Spanish Rice (Sopa de Arroz)

2-4 Tbs. oil
1 cup long grain white rice
1 6 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic powder*
1/2 tsp onion powder*
1 tsp. salt, to taste
2 c. water or chicken broth

* You can substitute Adobo seasoning for the onion and garlic powder.

Directions: Heat oil in a heavy saucepan. Add rice and brown. Stir in 3/4 of the can of tomato sauce [add more if you prefer moister rice, less if you prefer it less tomatoey and drier]. Add water or broth, garlic and onion powder, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer approximately 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

[A note from Wendy: I've made Misa's recipe for Spanish rice, and it earned a hearty "two thumbs up" from the Wat-Hawk family.]


Misa Ramirez is the author of the Lola Cruz Mysteries (Living the Vida Lola and Hasta la Vista, Lola!). Her new romantic suspense, A Deadly Curse, is available on Kindle, Nook, or from Smashwords. She also writes the Magical Dressmaking Mysteries as Melissa Bourbon. The first book in the Series, Pleating for Mercy, will be released in August, 2011.

Misa is also all over the web. You can visit her at her website, or on any of her three blogs: The Naked Hero, The Writer's Guide to e-Publishing, and Killer Characters.


  1. Hi Misa! I just picked up A Deadly Curse at B&N and I am diving in right after I finish your homework assignment.;-)

    You have five kiddos! That is so wonderful. Given that the Mexican families of this generation are reducing the number of children they have, I get a lot of looks for having four. I always get asked if they are all mine. Weird but true. :-)

    I love spanish rice. Your recipe is so very similar to mine. Since I have lived in Mexico for the last fifteen years and I am married to a Cubano, latin food is very popular with la familia.

    With my spanish rice I like to add a dollop of olive oil and some canned vegetables. My husband claims I only add them to alleviate mommy guilt for serving a fried food. Probably!

    Have you tried cooking tomales? I tried cooking them by hand on one occasion. I had to dash over, grab my neighbor, whom might I add cooks EVERYTHING by scratch, to help me rescue my food from disaster. I'll spare you the tongue lashing I got for ruining the corn meal. An hour later she managed to whip those puppies up and I've left the traditional Mexican tomale cooking to the Mexican ladies ever since. Now it's time for some mole lessons. :-)

    I saw the recipe you have for tacos on your site a couple of days ago. How did you get the corn tortilla to fry in a shell shape?


  2. Sounds like a fun read. I love the idea of the food figuring prominently. How fun!

  3. This looks like my kind of recipe! I love low-fuss and delicious. Always inspiring, too, to hear of another mom who is juggling all the different parts of her life and making it work. Thanks for coming by the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today!

  4. ¡Hola, Misa! – I love your no-fuss recipe AND I did indeed say “Awww…” when you attributed your hub’s praise of your cooking to “cooking with love” – I wholeheartedly agree. Cheers to you and congrats on the pub of A DEADLY CURSE as well as the launching of your brand new series this summer. Have a wonderful day. With five angels, it seems to me every Sunday should be Mother’s Day at your house. :)

    Cook with love, eat with joy!
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. Hey Misa! So happy to have you here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today! We *love* Mexican food in this house, but I so rarely make it. My few attempts to do so came out fine, but a bit Americanized. But I have to admit -- the family still talks about the homemade tortilla chips. Those came out great. Anyway, thanks for this recipe. You're inspiring me to try again!

  6. Spanish rice is my favorite rice dish and Misa has the recipe down - and it's better than my mom's (primary source speaks out). As in any recipe, the fresher the produce, the tastier the dish and this is true for the Spanish rice. What amazes me about this recipe is how fast it is to make the dish. This is one may into your man's heart, and I am living proof! Something to reflect upon...

  7. Thanks for having me here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! Food is definitely a subject close to my heart ;)

    BTW, that comment above is from my hubby!

  8. Talina, great to *see* you here!

    We make tamales every Christmas. My MIL makes only pork, but I've developed other fillings that I much prefer. Our favorites are chicken mole, veggie (thinkly sliced red onion, red bell pepper, potato, and jack cheese), and our all time favorite (tried this year for the first time)...bean and cheese. Yummy! The trick is a supple masa and not overcooking.

    With the tacos (LOVE those, and I actually prefer them without the meat at all..potatoes and carrots only), I heat oil in a frying pan, put the corn tortilla in, let it cook for a few seconds, then use tongs to fold it in half. When one side is cooked, I flip it and let the other side cook. For an extra zip, sprinkle parmesan cheese on the freshly fried shell.

    I also love mole (mo-lay) sauce... have you had that? It's an acquired taste, for sure. I did not like it at all when I first had it, but my MIL kept making it and it grew on me! I love it best with polenta, potatoes, and carrots instead of chicken. I'm not a full vegetarian, but I generally prefer less meat. 10 yr old daughter is a vegetarian ;)

  9. MIsa glad to have you here. I love the no fuss recipe the family will love it here. Between Italian and Mexican they are close seconds to southern cooking. I will defiantly be checking out your books.

    The World of Book Reviews

  10. Oh, Misa, this sounds fabulous, and easy-enough that even I can make it too!!! LOL!!! (Trust me, no one is laughing when I'm in the kitchen, they're already on the phone ordering take-out!)

    That is one of the things I luuuvvved most about your Lola Cruz books...I couldn't wait to see what was gonna happen next in or around the Cruz Kitchen!!!

    Hugs and Luv --- D. D. Scott

  11. Guess what I'm making tonight..Spanish rice because this is a recipe that I can make without thinking, and besides I have all the ingredients in my cabinet.

  12. Great to have you here, Misa! I too will be trying this and also passing it on to other cooks in my family who will be very happy to get it.


  13. It's been a blast being here!

  14. I like when there are guest spots here. Now I have a new author to read. Thanks!