Saturday, January 13, 2018


From Denise:

Hi everyone! I am so excited to join Mystery Lovers Kitchen and the amazing group of authors who make this such a wonderful blog. For those of you who are asking yourselves, who the heck is Denise Swanson, let me introduce myself. I was a school psychologist for 22 years and continued to work in public education while I wrote the first seven books in my Scumble River mystery series. When I quit to write full time, I began the Deveraux’s Dime Store mysteries. And now that my husband has retired and volunteered to be my sous-chef, I’m starting the Chef-to-Go culinary mystery series. The first book, Tart of Darkness, debuts in April.

My cooking philosophy is HIT—Healthy, Inexpensive, but above all, Tasty. Therefore, I'm offering you a healthy version of Eggplant Parmesan.


Serves 8

Preheat oven to 375°

1/2 cup Egg Beaters
1 tablespoon water
2 cups whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (divided)
2 (1-pound) eggplants, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

Combine 1/2 cup Egg Beaters and 1 tablespoon water in a shallow dish. Combine panko and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano in a second shallow dish. Dip eggplant in egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere and shaking off excess. Place eggplant 1 inch apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until golden, turning once and rotating baking sheets after 15 minutes.

1/2 cup torn fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (16-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Egg Beaters
1 (24-ounce) jar marinara sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup finely grated fontina cheese

Spoon 1/2 cup marinara sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of eggplant slices over pasta sauce. Sprinkle eggplant with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Top with about 3/4 cup marinara sauce; spread half of ricotta mixture over sauce, and top with a third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Repeat layers once, ending with about 1 cup marinara sauce. Cover tightly with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Remove foil; top with remaining third of mozzarella and 1/4 cup fontina. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melts; cool 10 minutes.

Here's a bit about my upcoming book: Tart of Darkness.

Right when Dani thinks she's hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passion—cooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support her new business, she opens her home to a few students, renting them rooms and becoming almost like a big sister figure in their lives.

But just as Dani is relishing her sweet new life, the friend of one of her boarders is murdered, and Dani becomes one of the primary suspects! She'll have to scramble to clear her name and save her business before the killer reappears—perhaps to silence the new chef forever.

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  1. Welcome to this blog, Denise! This looks very tasty, though I might have to eat it alone. My husband is not a big eggplant fan. I remember your Scumble River books. This new series sounds fun!

    1. Thanks, Kay! You could sub in chicken breast for him. Not quite as healthy, but close.

  2. Welcome, Denise! You'll fit right in at MLK.

    I've always found eggplant to be tricky, because if you don't get the temperature right, it can soak up oil like a sponge. Baking it sounds like a great idea.

    1. I've always loved eggplant parm, but the calories were killer so I was thrilled to find this recipe.

  3. Hi Denise, the recipe sounds good. I love eggplant. I usually salt it first and put heavy plates on it to take out the water. Looking forward to your new book. Lois Rotella

    1. Thanks, Lois! The parm adds a lot of salt to the taste so be careful about adding an additional salt.

  4. I am so glad you joined this blog! I love eggplant and this sounds like an easy recipe. I am looking forward to reading your new series!

  5. Welcome. Not a fan of eggplant. Looking forward to more of yuor books.

    1. Thanks, Kathleen! Maybe sub chicken for the eggplant?

  6. Your fans, of which I am one, would follow you anywhere!

    I love the idea of using chicken instead of eggplant. Thanks for this healthier version!

  7. Now I am hungry. Hey Denise! I was glad to hear about the new series. Can we expect more tasty recipes in the books?