Sunday, April 17, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Amanda Flower

A note from Wendy ....

I honestly don't remember how, exactly, Amanda Flower and I came to be friends, but it happened ... and, yay for me! Amanda's a lovely person, and her India Hayes mysteries are a real treat for cozy fans.

Amanda's "Maid of Murder" is an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. It's a wonderful book, well-deserving of this honor. I'm so happy to host Amanda and can't wait to see her at Malice Domestic in just a few weeks. So join me in welcoming Amanda to the Kitchen!


Thank you to Wendy and the other ladies on Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen for allowing me to share a recipe with you today!

Just like my protagonist in Maid of Murder, India Hayes, I’m not much of a cook. India survives on cereal, ice cream, and dinner at her parents’ house. To give you an example of my complete lack of culinary skill, I once blew up an egg while trying to hard boil it. How I did this remains unclear. Another time, I made redskin dirt potatoes. Ummm… I didn’t know you were supposed to wash the potatoes before cooking them. Both of these are examples of times I regretted taking Electricity in middle school instead of Home Ec. The only thing I accomplished in electricity class was electrocuting my teacher. He was fine but a wee bit upset. I sat in the hall the rest of the period.

On the bright side, I am a fair baker. I can bake because baking has strict rules and step-by-step instructions. I can read directions pretty well. I’m not good with anything I have to watch while it’s on the stovetop or have to season. That takes way more culinary judgment than I have.

With permission, I’m sharing a recipe from my church’s cookbook. The cookbook is packed with tasty Midwestern treats and meals. This is the only one I’ve ever attempted. However since nothing exploded and dirt wasn’t involved, I might try another. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Covered Banana Cupcakes

(Adapted from Doris Smith’s Recipe for Banana Cake in the Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church Cookbook)

  • 1 ½ c. sugar
  • ½ c. shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1 c. sour milk or buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 ½ c. flour
  • Chocolate glaze*

Cream sugar and shortening; add eggs.

Add bananas and beat well.

Add sour milk and vanilla alternately with flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Insert cupcake cups into cupcake pan, and add batter. Makes 18 cupcakes.

Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes.

Place cupcakes on cooling rack. After they have cooled, dip tops of cupcakes into chocolate glaze.

* Note from Wendy: Amanda uses Duncan Hines chocolate glaze, which you can usually find with the canned frostings. They look so beautiful and glossy in the picture, I'd be inclined to do the same. However, if you must make your own, any chocolate ganache recipe would work. I'd suggest adding a tablespoon or so of shortening to your ganache to give the finished product that lovely shine.


Amanda Flower writes the India Hayes Mystery Series. The first novel in the series, Maid of Murder is an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. To learn more about Amanda and Maid of Murder visit her online at You can also follow Amanda on Facebook and The Little Blog of Murder.


  1. Thanks so much for being a guest today at the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, Amanda!

    These cupcakes look absolutely wonderful. I love the idea of having bananas in the mix. And the shining glaze of the icing looks delicious!

  2. The cupcakes look yummy and sound like they would be quick and easy to prepare. With bananas in them they would have to be considered healthy and not fattening. :)

    Thoughts in Progress

  3. Recipe and book both look wonderful!

  4. LOL at your kitchen adventures. And minus the chocolate-covered part, your cupcakes look great. Maybe I'll convince someone to make them for me (I'm not one for the kitchen either).

    I really enjoyed your Maid of Murder and look forward to reading more about India.

  5. Thank you Elizabeth.It's so nice to be here!
    Making the cupcakes was fun, and it was nice to have motivation to use my kitchen. I know it feels neglected most of the time!

    Mason, thanks! They were very easy, which is a good thing for me!

    Sarita, thank you!

    Jo, thank you for reading my book!!

  6. Amanda, the cupcakes looks so shiny pretty! Yum. Love your story about the exploding egg. Yes, it can happen. Been there, done that.

    See you at Malice in two weeks! Yay!


  7. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Like you, I like food that I can place in an oven and come back later when it is done.

  8. Welcome to the Kitchen, Amanda. You cook up delicious crime fiction, so recipes are optional (although I do love the one you shared with us today :)). Big congratulations on your Agatha nomination for Best First Novel. I hope you have a great time at Malice!

    Bake (and read) with joy,
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. Avery, I'm so glad I'm not only one with the exploding egg problem! :) I'm looking forward to seeing you at Malice! Congrats again on your nomination!!!!!!!!

    Dru, Thanks so much! See you at Malice too! :)

    Cleo,Thank you so much!

  10. Thanks for coming by the kitchen. I am sure we will all be considering exploding eggs as a murder weapon, Amanda. Bananas and cupcakes? Lots to love!

  11. I just made banana bread last night. Dang! I wish I'd made these instead. Maybe next time, though, since I'm on a banana kick right now. They look very good!

  12. Hi Mary Jane, Thanks for having me here!

    Christi, you should give them a try. They were delicious. I took them to church the next day because I was afraid I would eat them all!