Sunday, January 6, 2019

Bringing a Series Back to Life

I am so pleased to welcome Victoria Hamilton back to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. A lot of you remember her from her Merry Muffin Mystery series. And now, she's here with great news!!! (Don't miss her giveaway!)

A couple of years ago many cozy mystery series were orphaned when Berkley decided against renewing contracts for them. My Merry Muffin Mystery series was one of those, and for a while I wasn’t sure if I should continue it, or just move on. But I love writing it so much I just couldn’t let go, so… Merry Wynter and the gang are back in 2019!
I have found a new publisher for them, Beyond the Page (who also publish my Vintage Kitchen Mystery series) so they will be available in ebook AND paperback formats! If you haven’t read the series yet, check out my website to start with the first book, Bran New Death.
Muffin But Trouble, #6 in the series, will be coming out in the late spring. Much has happened in the year since we last checked in on Merry Wynter of Wynter Castle and her eclectic crew of friends.
To celebrate, I whipped up a batch of savory muffins, great to pair with soup or stew!
Savory Herb and Smoked Cheddar Muffins
Makes: 14 – 16 (I made 12 regular and 6 mini two-bite muffins!)
  • 2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup smoked cheddar cheese (coarsely grated) OR use any melty cheese, like Monterey Jack. *I considered a jalapeno Monterey Jack, and may do so next time to serve these muffins with chili. In that case I may also add a ¼ teaspoon of chili powder to the muffins for a zesty go-along flavour!
  • Up to a ¼ cup of fresh herbs: you could use parsley, rosemary, thyme, or dill (chopped), or whatever blend of herbs you prefer. If you are using dry herbs, use less. *What I used: I rummaged in my winter garden and got some rosemary and thyme. The parsley was frozen, though, so I used a tablespoon of dried parsley to substitute. That made three tablespoons, altogether, two fresh, one dried.
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil OR melted butter
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk or substitute. (I NEVER have buttermilk on hand, so, to make a substitute, put 1 ½ tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup, then top with fresh milk to make 1 ½ cups.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Whisk thoroughly.
  3. Add the grated cheese and chopped herbs to the flour mixture and mix.
  4. Mix the egg, vegetable oil, and buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute) in a separate bowl, then combine with the dry ingredients using a large spoon or spatula. Mix just until no flour is visible. Do not overmix.
  5. These muffins will stick to paper liners (unless they are special parchment baking liners) so just use a muffin tin and spray liberally with oil! And I do mean liberally. *What I use… I have a pump oil sprayer that allows me to use regular vegetable oil. I just love it! As long as I have oil in the house, I have spray oil.
  6. Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups. *What I did extra: I cut more cheese into half centimetre cubes (who ever gets enough cheese?) and studded the muffins with five or six of the cubes, pushing them into the batter lightly, but so they were still showing.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Run a butter knife around the muffins while they are still hot to loosen them from the pan. This is vital! Because of the cheese they will stick, otherwise. I was gentle, and they loosened and lifted out quite nicely.
These muffins came out wonderful, with a bready texture, heavenly smell, and crispy crust. They go great with homemade soup, like a Cream of Cauliflower or Tomato! Because it’s just after the holiday season I paired them with my homemade turkey vegetable soup and they were delish!

To celebrate the upcoming revival of the Merry Muffin Mysteries, I’m happy to give away a $25 Amazon gift card to a commenter here! Do you like muffins? Tell me what kind, and enter to win!
About the Merry Muffin Mystery series:
Merry Wynter didn’t know a lot about her family until she finally made her way to take possession of her inherited castle near the town of Autumn Vale, in upstate New York. Though she intended to do a quick fix and put it back on the market, she realizes if she is ever going to find out her family history on the Wynter side, this is the place to do it.
  Baking muffins, investigating murders, making friends... and enemies... among the quirky residents of Autumn Vale, keeps Merry busy, and local Sheriff Virgil Grace keeps her heart rate high. Though the widowed Merry still carries a torch in her heart for her late husband, photographer Miguel Paradiso, maybe there is enough room there for a new flame?
  With her wonderful friends Pish Lincoln and Shilo Dinnegan, who have joined her at the castle, Merry is starting to find it hard to imagine leaving the ancestral home of her Wynter ancesters. If folks wouldn’t keep getting murdered, it would be pretty much perfect!
Visit me (Victoria Hamilton) at my website, and sign up for my newsletter, or find me on Facebook!


  1. Your recipe looks good. I like savory muffins. I use sharp cheddar and chives.
    bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi Victoria,
    I hadn't heard of your book series before,so glad I found out about it!!! I adore your book titles!
    Savory Herb and Smoked Cheddar Muffins look delicious!I love muffins,savory and sweet. My kids and I planning on making eggnog muffins with rest of the eggnog.
    Happy New Year!Wishing you success!

  4. This sounds like an excellent series- I can’t wait to jump into it! The last muffin I made was carrot cake - it was really tasty and moist with some applesauce in it.

  5. Muffins are my favourite thing to bake! There are so many variations and you can find a recipe to accompany just about every type of meal. Making your recipe with the Monterey Jack and chili powder sound so good!
    I am so happy this series is coming back! Thank you for giving away a gift card.

  6. My favorite muffins are cranberry orange ones.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

  7. I am so excited that Merry and the gang will be back — I’ve missed them! My favorite muffins are cranberry orange. cking78503(at)aol(dot)com

  8. I'm SO glad you're continuing the Merry Wynter series! I enjoy the muffin mysteries and I love the muffin recipes. My first adventure in the kitchen was leaning to make the bran muffin recipe on the Kellogg's bran cereal box when I was 13. I'm 72 now and a fan of all sorts of muffins, sweet and savory. I'll be making the Savory Herb & Smoked Cheddar Muffins to have with vegetable soup. It'll be the perfect combination during this cold weather we're having.

  9. I love Blueberry or Smoked Cheddar...yum~ congratulations on the series continuing...

  10. The only muffins I will eat is Chocolate chip.

  11. Love making muffins of all kinds - savory and sweet. Great for freezing and taking out only one or two when needed! My favorites would be zucchini muffins, an apple butter muffin, and a cheeseburger muffin (good portable meal!). Will definitely try this recipe!

  12. Blueberry muffins for me! So happy that the series will continue and thanks for the chance to win..


  13. I love blueberry m,muffins but these just might get a try they do sound great. thanks for the chance to win

  14. I love this series and am so glad it is coming back. I live chocolate chip muffins and coffee cake muffins.

  15. I am so glad the castle group is back. I have missed them. I like muffins. My favorite is one that my suster makes infrequently. It doesn’t sound good. Its base is bran but it doesn’t taste like that. My second favorite is squash with mace. suefoster109 at gmail dot com

  16. We need sniff-0-vision because as I read the recipe for Savory Herb and Smoked Cheddar Muffins I just know that a good sniff would get up and and going this morning. Sounds delicious!

    We do love muffins - of every sort. One that my family loves is the All In One Breakfast Muffin. Here is the recipe"
    All In One Breakfast Muffin
    1 ¾ cup flour
    1 cup 3 minute oats
    ¼ cup sugar
    1 tsp. baking powder
    ¼ tsp salt
    1 egg, slightly beaten
    1 cup milk
    1/3 cup oil
    ½ pound bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
    ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
    1/3 cup onion - finely chopped
    1/3 cup bell pepper – finely chopped
    In bowl combine the dry ingredients (first 5) and set aside. Mix milk, egg and oil.
    Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients all at once. Stir only until moistened.
    Stir in bacon, cheese, onion and bell pepper.
    Fill greased muffin pan 2/3 full.
    Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes
    Makes 1 dozen muffins

    Thanks for the wonderful chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  17. Don’t bake as much as used to. Love your series! So glad this one is continuing.
    Tennisace50 (at) yahoo (dot) com thank you!

  18. I like blueberry muffins. And this series looks great! Thanks for the recipe. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  19. Chocolate chip muffins are my favorite.

  20. Hi Victoria! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your new book, recipe and giveaway with Mystery Lovers' Kitchen! My favorite muffins are blueberry with streusel topping -- I love biting into those blueberries!

  21. Happy New Year Victoria! Cannot wait to see what Merry and the gang are up to next!!!! My favorite muffin, a good ole chocolate chip muffin. All the best, Jenn Owen

  22. Oh I really like that! It looks so good!! While I like all flavors, well, most, my absolute 2 favorites are Morning Glory, and Cranberry/Orange.

  23. I am on a quest for the best (read good tasting and easy to make) bran muffin recipe. I'd like to read your series. Thanks for the chance to win.


  24. I’m so glad this series is coming back! I’ve missed it!!! My favorite muffin is a chocolate muffin!!

  25. Your series is wonderful. I look forward to this new cozy. My favorite muffin is a lemon muffin. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  26. I love muffins. Baking is not my strong point, but I try... Cheers (at) MarjimManor (dot) com

  27. I am pleased that your series is continuing. Your muffins looks enticing. I enjoy marble muffins. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  28. I love raspberry white chocolate chip muffins. So happy to hear the series has been revived with another publisher. Can't wait to purchase the paperback boo.

  29. I really like blueberry and bran muffins. I'm so glad the series is continuing. Thank you for the chance to win. Dmskrug3 at hotmail dot com

  30. Savory muffins are such a good idea, especially with soups and stews.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  31. I love muffins, blueberry is my favorite.

  32. I love muffins. My favorite is banana nut . Yum. xzjh04(at)gmail(dot)com

  33. Taylor R. WilliamsJanuary 6, 2019 at 12:24 PM

    My favorite muffins were a cranberry orange with powdered sugar crumb topping made by Costco - they haven't made them in years, but they should - another author added to my TBR list - thanks for the contest - trwilliams 69 at msn dot com

  34. I love strawberry and peach muffin

  35. Love this series. The muffins I enjoy are blueberry and corn muffins. I eat blueberry muffins with a nice cup of tea and the corn muffins with butter and some ice tea.

  36. Hi! I love blueberry muffins the best, but love all muffins! Thanks for the chance to win and I look forward to checking out your series! Congratulations!

  37. Oh, I can't wait to see this series again!! Congratulations! I like almost every muffin I've met except blueberry. Just don't like blueberries...Banana, pumpkin, chocolate chocolate chip, bran. jeaniedannheim (at) ymail (dot) com

  38. Congrats on the series coming out again! Muffins are my friend - I don't think I've met one I don't like.

  39. even though i hate bananas i love banana nut muffins... mekachew69(at)gmail(dot)com

  40. I like Blueberry muffins, so yummy. ctymice(at)gmail(dot)com

  41. I love cranberry orange muffins. My husband and I will usually split one. I haven't tried many savory muffins, but yours sounds good.

  42. Although I love muffins, sweet or savory, any time of the day, my all-time favorite is still blueberry. I love this series and am happy to see it continue.