Sunday, March 8, 2020

Please welcome guest author Maria DeRico with book #giveaway

Buon giorno! Ellen Byron here, writing under the pen name, Maria DiRico.

My new Catering Hall Mystery series revolves around, well, a catering hall. It was inspired by my life. My mother is Italian, born in a small central Italian village called Orsogna. Her family wound up in Astoria, Queens, where cousins-by-marriage ran a couple of banquet halls.

Given the Italian – and subsequent Greek – influence on the neighborhood, and the subject matter of my series, adding recipes to the books was a gimme. But in addition to some homespun recipes, I wanted a unique and trendy party item for the first book, Here Comes the Body. What I came up with wound up having zero to do with either ethnic culture. Instead, it came about when I asked myself a question I often ask when it comes to recipes for my books: WWMD? What Would Martha Do? You see, one of first post-college jobs was working as a cater-waiter for the legendary Martha Stewart. If you have an early edition of her first cookbook, Entertaining, turn to page 29, you’ll see me standing next to her.

If Martha was still catering events, I can guarantee you that we’d be passing out Cookie Cup Shot Glasses to guests. Saluti! And par-tay!


Cookie shot glass pan
3 Cups Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
⅔ Cup Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Brown Sugar
⅓ Cup White Sugar
½ Tsp Salt
1 ½ Sticks Butter (Melted and Cooled)
1 Cup Chocolate Melting Wafers for coating the inside (SEE NOTE)
Liquor or liqueur of your choice, or milk


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl and set aside.

In another large bowl, beat the butter, vanilla, and eggs together well

Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter, stirring each addition to incorporate into the batter.

Gently mix the chocolate chips into the dough. Chill for about 10-15 minutes. This helps make the dough more manageable.

Take about two or three tablespoons of the dough, roll it into a ball about the size of a golf ball and place the ball into one of the molds in the cookie shot glass pan. Push down the dough with the metal insert, making sure the dough is pretty even all the way around. Leave the metal insert in place and trim the excess dough from the sides of the insert. Repeat with the rest of the molds. (As an alternative to pushing down into the ball of dough, you can try building a cup by putting a flat disk of dough on the bottom of the cup, building up the sides with more dough, and placing the metal insert into the dough, pressing a bit to seal.)

Bake the cookie cups around 15 minutes. Remove the cookie cups from the oven. While they’re warm, you can gently trim any excess dough from around the edges of each cookie – or not. Let the cookies cool. Extract them from the mold and repeat until you’ve used up all the dough.

Melt the wafers in the microwave, following the melting directions on the package. When the cookie cups have cooled, use a small spatula or a new, clean brush to coat the inside of each cookie with the melted chocolate. Check for holes while you’re doing this! You may need to add extra chocolate to seal the hole… or just eat that cookie. Let the chocolate cool and harden.

When the cookies have cooled, add the liquor or liqueur of your choice.

Serving: makes approximately 18.

NOTE:            Melting wafers are available at craft stores like Michaels. They come in different colors, so you can play with coating the cookie cups with the colors that are the theme of your event. You can even coat the cookie cups with blue or pink for a baby gender reveal party and fill them with milk to hide the color.

SECOND NOTE: You can try making cookie cups with other recipes, like sugar cookies or snickerdoodles. Feel free to experiment.

THIRD NOTE: If you don’t want to invest in a cookie shot glass pan, there are ways around that to create a cookie cup. You can make a rolled cookie and form it like a cup over a muffin tin. Do an internet search for “cookie cups” or “cookie shot glasses” and you’ll find an array of possibilities.


Mia Carina moves back home to Queens, where her father Ravello, a capo with the Boldoni crime family, has been tasked with running a rundown banquet hall that was surrendered to him by a broke gambler. Mia has always wanted her father to go straight and she’s determined to help him run the place, with its view of Flushing Bay and the LaGuardia Airport runway, as a legitimate business. Then a body pops up – or technically, doesn’t pop up from a jump-out cake at a bachelor party. Who knew working for a catering hall could be as dangerous as working for the Mob?


Today, I am giving away a copy of Here Comes the Body to one lucky commenter.  Tell me, have you attended a catered party? Any fun stories to share?  Remember to leave your email so I can contact you if you win.


Maria DiRico is the pen name of mystery author Ellen Byron. She is first-generation Italian American on her mother’s side. While growing up in Queens, Maria/Ellen's cousins ran the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls. MARDI GRAS MURDER, the fourth book in Ellen's bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series, won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. The series has also won multiple Best Humorous Mystery Lefty awards. Ellen’s TV writing credits include Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents.

Follow Maria aka Ellen here:



  1. Cookie shot glasses are new to me, but Queens and Astoria aren't! Congratulations on the first book in your new series. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    1. Thanks so much! You know I love your series, Maya!

  2. Love the idea of cookie shot glasses. Yes, I have been to catered parties.

  3. Sadly I have not been to a catered event....but it would be fun! ♥ Main3(at)att(dot)net

  4. I have been to many catered parties, but the best ones were the baby or bridal showers that my friends and I would give where we would do the catering ourselves -- so much fun! Welcome Ellen/Maria to Mystery Lovers' Kitchen and thanks for the great cookie shot recipe - it looks very decadent.

    1. Awww... that's so sweet. I think you're right. They are the best.

      And they are decadent!

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  6. Yes, I have been to catered parties, but no exciting stories to tell. However, maybe I will have an exciting story once I make these cookie shot glasses! They are now a “must make”! Biszemom (at) gmail (dot) com

  7. Welcome, Ellen aka Maria and congrats on the new series!

  8. I saw this recipe & wondered? How is this going to work? I am so happy you have pictures. How fabulous this recipe is :-)

    I worked most catered parties. I have been trying to think when I was last actually a guest. Hahaha oh yes weddings, graduations,bar mitzvah, funerals.Gee such a jetsetter life.
    LOVE LOVE your book COVER, the naughty kitty is doing what? Pawing for good frosting? Silly kitty ( "" )
    Your book has a wonderful story sounds like a spectacular read.
    Sending blessings to you BOTH for success.
    Thanks so much for this today
    Kathy levernier

    1. Thanks, Kathy. Yup, I knew pictures would really help sell this recipe!

  9. What a fun idea for the shot glasses! Thanks for sharing. I've been to a few catered parties. The most fun was a baby shower that the mom-to-be threw for herself!

    1. Wow, good for her! I could never have done that when I was pregnant.

  10. I don't have the mold for these but am charmed by the idea of them. Suspect the hubby would be a great fan. I have attended a catered party but don't really have a fun story to share. Will say that I did get to chat with the caterer in passing at the party. For the duration afterwards, whenever a new platter of food was circulating the waitstaff would come up to me and whisper for me to take more than one off the tray of the ones they thought were particularly good. :)
    little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

    1. You don't need a mold. There are other ways to create a cup. Google "make a cookie cup" or anything like that!

  11. I've never been to a catered party before. At my age, I doubt I will in the future either. The cookie shot glasses are cute but, I will stick with cookies since I don't drink. lkish77123 at gmail dot com

    1. You don't have to use liquor. They're perfect for milk!

  12. I've never been to a catered party before. I love the shot glass cookies.

  13. I have been to a catered party before. One caterer saw how much I loved the cookies they were passing around and when I left he’d made me a little bag full of them to take home.

  14. I've never seen cookie shot glasses before, but they look like they would be fun at a party. I recently attended a catered wedding and the food was amazing. Everyone at our table commented on how great the steaks were cooked.

    1. It's so nice when someone else does the work!

  15. No, except for weddings we're pretty average for party food, although a couple of my friends put together such a good party they should be caterers.

    1. I wish I had friends like that! Love mine but none of us are cooks, sigh...