Sunday, March 3, 2013

Welcome Guest Author Victoria Hamilton and Comment-to-Win Her New Mystery!

We are in for a real treat today with our guest blogger Victoria Hamilton.

Victoria writes the bestselling Vintage Kitchen Mystery series. The second book in her series, Bowled Over, is releasing this Tuesday, and you can comment on this post for a chance to win a copy.

Scroll down to find out more about Victoria's new title as well as her brand new mystery series set to debut later this year--or maybe I should say "bran" new! You'll see why below. :) 

And now, please join me in welcoming today's guest. Take it away, Victoria!

~ Cleo Coyle

"Juggling Food" 

Writing and publishing mysteries has been my lifelong ambition. I kid you not; at twelve I announced to my parents that I wanted to be a writer. My dad was thinking Kierkegaard, while I was thinking Agatha Christie. It is wonderful beyond belief to achieve that goal. So wonderful I promised myself I’d never turn down work, no matter how busy I was.

Three years ago I had no mystery series. Sad face. :( 

Two years ago I had one mystery series. Smiley face! :) 

One year ago I had two mystery series. Super smiley face!! :) :)

And now? Well, now I have three series. Scaredy face! :( And...
Super smiley face!!! :) :) :)

Best (and worst) of all, two out of the three require recipes to accompany the text. Uh… yippee? 

What kind of recipes do I need to figure out, check, recheck and write out for my mystery series? In Vintage Kitchen Mysteries my heroine, Jaymie Leighton, takes vintage recipes and modernizes them for today’s cook, utensils, measurements, etc. Book 2, Bowled Over, comes out on March 5th and has a recipe for Potato Salad that I’m now afraid will have too much mayonnaise in it for some. Too late to go back! I like mayonnaise, though, and a lot does soak into the potatoes. 

In my new series, Merry Muffin Mysteries, set to debut with Book 1 - Bran New Murder - September 3rd of this year, I will be including muffins and probably some other random comfort food recipes in each book. I am the Soup Queen, so you can bet I’ll have soup recipes in some books. I made a dinner soup the other night… Chicken Vegetable Cannellini… and it was… mmMM! To die for. 

Of course with those two and a third series set to debut in 2014, I’m pretty busy. In my day-to-day life, then, it’s no mystery that I tend to fall back on those foods that everyone likes and are also easy to prepare with a minimum of recipe reading. One-dish recipes hit that note every time. To that end I thought I would offer up one of my all-time favorites, my version of Arroz Con Pollo, or Spanish Chicken and Rice. I adapted it from one I found in the New Doubleday Cookbook, though mine has evolved to be substantially different over time. 

Arroz Con Pollo 

Serves 6 if you have dainty eaters, 3 – 4 if not.

Ingredients 1: 

6 Chicken thighs

Enough flour to coat, about 1/3 cup.

Oil (Olive is best)

Method 1:

1 – Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Then, on the stove top:

2 - Dredge the chicken thighs in the flour. I usually just put the flour in a plastic bag and shake the thighs one or two at a time, then set them on a plate until I have them all ready.

3 - Heat oil in a largish skillet on moderate high heat for a minute or so, then, in small batches, brown chicken well, setting aside on paper towels to drain. Don’t worry that red juices will still be running when you take the thighs out, as they will be cooking in the oven. 

Then, the rice mixture: 

Ingredients 2:

1 cup uncooked long grain rice. (Basmati really is best for this; the grains stay separate and soak up the flavor. Honestly, I can’t say enough about Basmati. It has a wonderful nutty flavor and fragrance.)

1 small yellow onion

¼ to ½ red pepper

2 garlic cloves

¼ cup diced smoky ham OR julienned ham of your favorite kind.

1 cup chicken stock

1 ½ cup diced tomato with juices (it is important that the liquid in this dish equals about 2 cups, without counting the tomato chunks so the rice will cook properly)

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning, or your favorite: basil or oregano work well.

1 small dried bay leaf, crumbled.

*Note: When I look back at the original recipe from which this is derived, I see that I have changed it substantially. And left out two ingredients, pimientos and saffron, probably because I don’t have them in the kitchen and wouldn’t go out of my way to buy them. But I think I will try the saffron sometime, because I’ve heard so much about it. 

Method 2: 

1 - Reduce fry pan heat to low/moderate and, in the oil left from doing the chicken, stir fry onion, diced peppers and garlic for 5 minutes; add ham and stir fry 3 to 4 minutes longer until onion is golden.

2 - Add rice, stir fry 1 minute, then add broth, tomatoes (breaking up clumps) the salt and pepper, seasoning and bay leaf. Mix well.

3 – Turn all of this mixture into a 9 X 13 pan, and nestle chicken pieces on top. Cover with foil and bake about 50 minutes, until the chicken is fork tender. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more.

This dish converts rice haters and is so good it will soon be a part of your regular cooking repertoire. It seems a little work-heavy at first, but once you get going, it gets easier and easier. Serve with a salad and enjoy!



Victoria is giving away one (1) copy of Bowled Over. Contest open to Canadian and US residents only and ends March 10th 2013. Leave a comment on this post to be included in the giveaway. Book will be shipped directly from the author.


Meet the author:

Victoria Hamilton writes the bestselling Vintage Kitchen Mystery series (Book 2 – Bowled Over, comes out March 5th) and the upcoming Merry Muffin Mysteries, also from Berkley (Book , Bran New Murder, debuts September 3rd, 2013) Victoria loves cooking and collecting vintage kitchen utensils, as well as reading and writing mysteries. 

Check out her webpage for all the latest: and find her on Facebook at:


  1. Its so exciting that you have more series coming out! I have A Deadly Grind on my to be read shelf, looking forward to reading it! =)

    Love your blog, its so cute! =)
    I would love to read "Bowled Over", thanks for the chance to win!

    Melissa @ My recent favorite books

  2. Every time I hear of arroz con pollo I think of the I Love Lucy episode where Ricky and Fred cook it. (A pound of rice per person sounds good, right? lol)

    I enjoyed A Deadly Grind and look forward to reading your next foodie series as well. I'm curious about your 2014 one too!

  3. Oooh, I'm glad this came up! I've meant to read this series because I love cozy mysteries AND I collect vintage cookbooks. But there are so many books out there that I'd forgotten these! So now I've put it on my "to read" list on Goodreads.

    Text Addict

  4. Excellent blog!!!! A perfect collection of mysteries..cookbooks and wonderful ideas!!!!

    thank you to everyone!!!!

  5. What a great blog. I have a wonderful recipe to try as well as a great book.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  6. Victoria, this sounds amazing! I will try it this week. You'd better make double and triple batches to get through all the writing you have to do this year. Congratulations!

  7. Welcome, Victoria! So nice to see you here. I love this recipe. My mother used to make it but I haven't had it in ages. I think it's time!

    Congratulations on three series! Wow! That's a lot of work.


  8. My mother used to make arroz con pollo, but I don't think it was as authentic as this (if I recall, it included one of those little lumps of seasoning that came in the Lipton's Chicken Noodle Soup mix packets). But she did include saffron, which makes a difference, both in flavor and in color. Hard to find and expensive, though!

    Congrats on the three series! Crazy, isn't it?

  9. My oldest loves chicken and rice recipes. I might have to make this for him. Love your Vintage Kitchen series. If the second series is about muffins, what is the third one about?

  10. Great blog. Your recipe is now in my file ...waiting to be made. Loving A Deadly Grind. Would love to win Bowled Over. Look forward to reading all your series. Keep writing... Love your work.

  11. Congratulations on your new upcoming book and book series. I can't wait to read them. I am starting to cook (saving money- not eating out as much.) and this recipe sounds really easy to try. Thanks again for the offer to win this book. :)

    1. This is easy and inexpensive and worth the time! Those three things don't always go together.

  12. This is one of my favorite all time recipes. I originally got it from the Doubleday cookbook, so I went back to check to see if I needed to give them full credit, but I was surprised to see how much I had changed it over time!

    By the way... my third series is going to be the Teapot Collector Mysteries, set in a tearoom in the Finger Lakes region of New York State!

    1. Whoo hoo. Finger Lakes! That's right in my backyard. (Well, almost.) I hope you come this way for a book signing!

  13. I love this title, thank you for the chance to win the book.


  14. I would love to win. I'm currently reading A deadly grind that you kindly sent to me for review and I'm really loving it so far. Would love to continue the series. I love Becca and Jaymie

  15. love the cover!! cannot wait to read Bowled Over!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!!!

  16. 3 series - congratulations!! A Deadly Grind was a terrific start to your Vintage Kitchen Mystery series. I'm so looking forward to many more books in this series.


  17. This sounds so yummy! I can't wait to read your new series, too!

  18. Vintage mysteries are right up my alley, being a vintage myself. I will be looking for your books and the chicken sounds great.

  19. That recipe looks interesting, although I'd have to leave out the ham to cook it in my house. I'll copy it out and save it to my recipe folder.

    I'd love to win a copy of Bowled Over and add it to my burgeoning home library.

  20. Sherry in Carrollton, TX.March 3, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    I collect Depression glass, vintage books and just about anything else, so your books will be great! I have Deadly Grind, enjoyed it and passed it on to my 89 yr. old Mother. I also collect teapots so the next series will be another of my buys.

    Also plan to try your recipe, but it may be too much for just my husband and I. Will it freeze ok?

  21. Your books sound very interesting. I love mysteries and am always looking for new ones to try.

  22. All this AND a tearoom to look forward to! Life is good! Keep up the great work!
    Lucy/Roberta--I think a double batch would be great. One meal now and another in a day or two.

  23. Sounds like an excellent rice chicken recipe. Looking forward to making it.

    littleone AT shaw Dot ca

  24. Thanks for the chance to win "Bowled Over". I plan to give the recipe a try.

  25. I'm not a great cook but I'd love to read this book.

  26. This sounds like a fun new series for my cozy mystery club. We are always looking for new ones and food goes over very well!!!
    Thank you for the chance to win the book. Keep writing so we can keep reading : )

  27. This sounds so yummy and worth the time! I look forward to reading Bowled Over and thank you for the chance to win it!!

  28. Sounds like a series I should read!

  29. I loved the first book in the series- cant wait to read this one


  30. I'm looking forward to getting into your series of books. We recently moved to a small town, but the library is awesome! I'm also a rare breed--a senior citizen who still loves to cook for my husband and myself. The recipe sounds great!

  31. Wow - Talk about making your dream come true with three mystery series!! Congratulations! Can't wait to read your new book.

    pennyt at hotmail dot com

  32. So happy to have found this blog through your site! My Mom and I both loved A Deadly Grind and can't wait to read Bowled Over. I buy the book version for Mom and the E-book version for me (we live in different states). Sounds like a great recipe too!

  33. Wow, three series, congrats! Your chicken recipe looks yummy! Thanks for the recipe and gieaway.

    emmasmom AT wi DOT rr DOT com

  34. Hi Victoria! Thanks for sharing this yummy recipe! I usually am an advdenturous eater--to some degree. (I will not eat chocolate-covered bugs or seafood, thank you very much.) But I do like to try new things--which is how I learned I like jambalaya with chicken.

    Anyhoo, thank you for writing such a delightful heroine--Jaymie.

  35. The recipe looks and sounds really good ---- book sounds better, thanks for giving us a chance to win a copy! Lynn/MI

  36. I can't wait to try this recipe and of course, read the book. :)

  37. Like the idea for the series as well as the recipe....
    afarage(at)earthlink (dot) net

  38. I'm so looking forward to folks reading Bowled Over, and cannot wait until Bran New Death, the first in my Merry Muffin series, is out in September!

  39. Nothing quite so good as a cozy with the bonus of recipes!!! And I love this recipe - will be making one night this week. Note to Sheila (and anyone else). Yes, the saffron is expensive if you buy it in the regular spice aisle. Get it in the Goya aisle at the store, costs next to nothing :)

  40. Big fan here. So happy that we have a chance to win Bowled Over! I love your covers so much that I wish they could be turned into jigsaw puzzles!


  41. Thanks for the recipe. Sounds tasty.


  42. I would love to win this book. Thank you for the chance. Your recipe looks good I may have to try that. Also I am looking forward to your new series as well.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com