Friday, December 31, 2021

Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Pie with Cheddar Pastry from Vicki Delany, Part II: The Filling

 Last time I gave you the recipe for the savory pastry, now here’s the filling to go in it.  This makes a delicious and hearty vegetarian pie for people who either don’t eat meat, or are trying to cut back.  You won’t miss the meat at all!

It’s difficult enough cooking in someone’s kitchen, but add in the complications of finding ingredients in a country with a totally different food culture, and it can be challenging.  This recipe is originally from Food + Drink, the magazine of the LCBO (Ontario), adapted by me for what I could find in the stores when I was in Mozambique. The recipe called for free-forming the pastry for the pie, and I did it that way, but I won’t again.  I think it would be more attractive baked in a regular glass pie plate.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Mushroom Pie with Cheddar Pastry


8 cups (1 L) ½-inch (1-cm) cubes of butternut squash (about 1 medium squash)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 whole cloves garlic, unpeeled
¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil
½ tsp (2 mL) each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 oz (500 g) sliced mushrooms
½ cup (125 mL) homemade or low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp (15 mL) dried sage
⅔ cup (150 mL) crumbled soft goat cheese


1 egg
1 tbsp (15 mL) cold water


Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

In a large shallow roasting pan, toss squash, onion and garlic cloves with 2 tbsp (30 mL) oil and ¼ tsp (1 mL) each salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze cloves out of skins and mash smoothly. Add garlic to squash and toss well.

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and remaining salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until tender. Add stock and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of skillet. Boil stock until it has almost completely evaporated.

Scrape mushroom mixture into a large bowl. Stir in squash mixture and sage and let cool completely. Stir in goat cheese. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 piece of pastry to a 12-inch (30-cm) round. Carefully roll pastry around rolling pin and transfer to a large lightly greased baking sheet. Spoon butternut squash mixture onto pastry, leaving a 1½-inch (4-cm) border around edge.

In a small bowl, beat together egg and water to make egg wash. Brush edges of pastry on baking sheet with egg wash. Roll out second piece of pastry to a 12-inch (30-cm) round. Carefully roll pastry around rolling pin and transfer to top of pie. Seal edges well and trim them, reserving trimmings. Crimp edges decoratively. Cut 2 or 3 holes in top of pie for steam to escape. Brush top of pie with egg wash.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Serves 6 to 8

Coming January 11: A THREE BOOK PROBLEM, the 7th Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery by Vicki Delany



Thursday, December 30, 2021

Molasses Ginger Snap Cookies @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: Since it's not the New Year yet, and we have one last holiday to pack in before kicking 2021 to the sideline, I thought we needed one last cookie recipe. I included molasses cookies in my first Key West mystery, AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. (I believe I borrowed that recipe from my sister-in-law.) These cookies are a little crunchier and also a bit spicier, especially if you get a bite with the fresh ginger in it. Feel free to increase the flavors you like by punching them up a little. I could imagine these served with a small bowl of vanilla or coffee ice cream...or maybe as a pick-me-up with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

I did not use the chai but did include vanilla!


3/4 cup butter, room temp

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

¼ cup molasses

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups flour

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Several grinds of fresh pepper

1/4 tsp salt

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

Sugar for rolling

Beat the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy Add the molasses, vanilla, fresh ginger, and egg. 

Beat gently. Sift together flour, soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt, add to first mixture. 

Mix well and chill for at least an hour, to overnight. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit for half an hour.

 Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in sugar. 

Place on a parchment-covered cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake at 350 for about ten minutes until the tops begin to brown and crack. Cool on a wire rack.

In addition to Lucy's Key West food critic mysteries, she's written a thriller called Unsafe Haven! 

About Unsafe Haven
A chance meeting on the New York subway leads to the destinies of two very different women becoming intertwined with terrifying consequences in this nerve-jangling thriller.

Sixteen-year-old Addison is on the run. She's leaving her life on New York's streets behind for a new one with Rafe, armed with just his phone number on a scrap of paper. She's taking the subway to meet him in New Jersey. He'll take care of her. Or so she thinks . . .

Elizabeth Brown's world has fallen apart and she's thinking about her newly ex-fiancé. Until she locks eyes with a teenage girl while waiting for the train doors to open, and a bundle is thrust into her arms as she leaves the subway. A baby, wrapped in a dirty coat.

Elizabeth phones the number she finds in the coat pocket. Then wishes she hadn't. Someone wants Addison and the baby. And they'll do whatever it takes to get them . . .

In a major departure from her lighthearted Key West mysteries, Burdette invites readers into the world of a chilling thriller. (Unsafe Haven is) a page-turner highlighting the problem of exploited runaways.

—Kirkus Reviews

If you'd like a nibble before you buy, read the first chapter here. And if you'd like to read more about the genesis of the book, read this post from Jungle Red Writers.

Ways to buy your copy of UNSAFE HAVEN:

Book depository 


Barnes and Noble 


Severn House 

And if this is not in your budget (which I totally get,) you can invite your local library to order a copy!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Rosemary Metal Press Gin Fizz #recipe by Mia P. Manansala @MPMtheWriter

ARSENIC AND ADOBO was shortlisted for the 2021 CHIRBy Awards in Fiction, and even though I didn’t win (congrats to Julia Fine for THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE) I thought I'd share the cocktail recipe from the award show so you could all celebrate my nomination and the coming new year with me!

Gin and tonics were my go-to bar order in the before times, and even though I love Hendricks, it’s rather pricey so I’ve never kept it at home. This celebration was a great excuse to splurge on a bottle, but you can use any gin that you like.

Rosemary Metal Press Gin Fizz

Rosemary Metal Press Gin Fizz


  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP rosemary syrup (recipe below)
  • 3 oz club soda

Rosemary syrup ingredients:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary


Make Rosemary Simple Syrup: 

  1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. 
  2. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. 
  3. Remove pan from the heat, add rosemary, and let steep for one hour. 
  4. Discard the rosemary sprig.
Make the cocktail:

  1. Pour gin, lemon juice, and rosemary simple syrup in a cocktail shaker/blender cup/jar with lid and add a handful of ice. 
  2. Cover and shake vigorously until cold and well-combined. 
  3. Pour into a glass then add the club soda. 
  4. Add additional ice and garnish with lemon slice and rosemary sprig, if you’d like.
  5. Enjoy!

Cast of characters: gin, club soda, fresh rosemary, wedge of lemon

Boil sugar and water until sugar dissolves, then turn off the heat and add rosemary sprig(s). Let steep for an hour. Discard rosemary sprigs.

Pour gin, lemon juice, and rosemary syrup into a shaker cup and add a handful of ice.
Shake vigorously till drink is cold and well-mixed.
Pour drink into a cocktail glass.

Add club soda, and more ice, if desired. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and lemon slice, if you'd like.

For those of you that imbibe, do you have a go-to drink order? Let me know in the comments!

If you liked this recipe, make sure you sign up for my newsletter! I include a Filipino-themed recipe every month, as well as giveaways and book recommendations!

Homicide and Halo-Halo (February 8, 2022)

Death at a beauty pageant turns Tita Rosie’s Kitchen upside down in the latest entry of this witty and humorous cozy mystery series by Mia P. Manansala.
Things are heating up for Lila Macapagal. Not in her love life, which she insists on keeping nonexistent despite the attention of two very eligible bachelors. Or her professional life, since she can’t bring herself to open her new café after the unpleasantness that occurred a few months ago at her aunt’s Filipino restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. No, things are heating up quite literally, since summer, her least favorite season, has just started.
To add to her feelings of sticky unease, Lila’s little town of Shady Palms has resurrected the Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant, which she won many years ago—a fact that serves as a wedge between Lila and her cousin slash rival, Bernadette. But when the head judge of the pageant is murdered and Bernadette becomes the main suspect, the two must put aside their differences and solve the case—because it looks like one of them might be next.



Pre-order from Murder by the Book and get a signed bookplate, sticker, and bookmark!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Recipe Ideas for A Happy New Year from @CleoCoyle #HappyNewYear


From Cleo Coyle: Marc and I shared some tasty recipes this holiday season that might come in handy as you round out your celebrating this New Year's weekend: 

>> Cleo's Iced Gingerbread Cookie Sticks
(Edible Coffee Stirrerer)

In case you missed any of these recipe posts, you are welcome to click on the links above or on the pictures below to get the recipes now. (And be sure to download the free PDFs in these posts to print, save, or share the recipes.)

Cleo's Secret to
Crispy-Skinned Roast
Turkey (click photo)

Cleo's Easy Baby Berry 
Pastries (click photo)

Cleo's Iced Gingerbread 
Cookie Sticks (click photo)
~ Edible Coffee Stirrers ~ 

Now for today's recipes...

Cleo Coyle writes two
bestselling mystery
 series with her husband.
To learn more, click here.

 A Note from Cleo

In all honesty, Marc and I are more foodies than drinkers, which is why we're sharing drink ideas today with and without spirits. 

When it comes to this time of year, however, our beautifully layered Eggnog Kahlúa Cocktail is always on the menu. Kahlúa, of course, is a sweet rum-based coffee liqueur that's rich and smooth. It pairs perfectly with the chilly, creamy flavor of eggnog. Whipped cream and cinnamon add to the delightful experience.

This delicious layered dessert drink is impressive to serve yet easy to make. Our recipe below gives you the step-by-step method for foolproof success, and we've included a free PDF to print, save, or share the recipe.

So, if you’re serving spirits this New Year's Eve, Jack Shepard will be right over. (For those of you familiar with our Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, that shouldn't be a problem!) For everyone else, we hope this tasty drink idea (and the virgin one below it) will lift your own spirits and bring you good cheer. 

~ Cleo

A Beautiful Layered Holiday Drink 

Cleo Coyle's (Layered!) 
Eggnog Kahlúa Cocktail


Chilled Eggnog (how much? see directions)
Chilled Kahlúa (or your favorite coffee liqueur)
Cold Whipped Cream
Ground Nutmeg and Cinnamon Stick


(1) Start with a nice presentation glass. A stemless snifter, stemless wine glass, or clear tumbler will work nicely. Pour in a few fingers of Kahlúa (or your favorite coffee liqueur), enough to give you a thick visual layer.

(2) Tilt the glass and position the spout of the eggnog carton against the rim, as shown below. If using homemade eggnog, place it in a container with a spout, such as a glass measuring cup. Pour in the eggnog slowly. Use the side of the glass to slow the pour even more and prevent it from mixing with the Kahlúa. 

CLEO TIP: Because eggnog is made with cream, it's lighter in density than the Kahlúa, which is why it will float. Continue pouring until you have a nice, visible layer. How thick a layer of eggnog is up to your own taste. Marc and I go for an eggnog layer that resembles the head on a dark beer or the crema on a freshly pulled espresso.

(3) Finish with a festive shot of sweetened whipped cream, a sprinkling of ground nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick. 


TWO WAYS: When you tilt and sip this chilly, creamy Eggnog Kahlúa Cocktail, magic happens. The heavier density Kahlúa flows through the layers of eggnog, whipped cream and nutmeg, pulling all of those flavors into your mouth for an amazing drink. 

Or… You can use the cinnamon stick to stir the drink (after admiring the pretty layers) and enjoy the cocktail that way. Either way, it's heavenly! The flavor of coffee in this cocktail comes from Kahlúa, of course, a rum-based coffee liqueur that's rich, sweet, and smooth.

To download a free PDF of 
this recipe that you can print, 
save, or share, click here.

Prefer a Virgin Drink? 

We Got You!

🍎 Cleo Coyle's 
Virgin Candy Appletini


2 parts apple juice (no sugar added) or chilled sparkling cider

1 part pomegranate juice 

(optional to spike) vodka or gin or white rum, to taste

(optional to spike) cinnamon schnapps (such as Goldschlager), to taste

Maraschino cherries

Cinnamon sugar (*see method below)

Ice cubes 

*How to Make Cinnamon Sugar: Mix 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon. This is a basic ratio, but you can vary it, adding more or less cinnamon to your own taste.


For a Virgin Candy Appletini: Spread a generous amount of your cinnamon sugar onto a flat plate. Moisten the rim of your martini glass and place it rim-side down into the plate of cinnamon sugar. Gently turn the glass until the rim is coated with the mixture.

Fill about half the glass with the chilled sparkling apple cider. Add the chilled pomegranate juice. Stir gently to mix the liquids. Garnish with an apple slice or maraschino cherry on a wooden skewer and enjoy!

For a Spiked Cocktail: Prepare any glass as described above by crusting the rim with cinnamon sugar. Into a cocktail shaker, Mason jar, or pitcher, pour the apple juice, pomegranate juice, and the optional alcohol. Add ice cubes, stir well, and pour into your glass (or glasses), straining back the ice.  

Making punch for a party: Follow the ingredient ratios above and spike it as much or as little as you like. Do not add ice to the punch bowl or pitcher, which will only water down the flavor of the drink. Instead, fill ice trays with the 2:1 ratio mix of apple juice and pomegranate juice and add those frozen apple-pom cubes to your punch bowl or pitcher to keep the drink tasting great for a longer period of time.

🍏 You can slice an apple (through its equator) and slip the slice onto to the glass rim, as you would a lemon or lime slice. Or...

🍎 Try our idea of decorating the serving table using maraschino cherries on long skewers to mimic the look of candy apples. 

To download this recipe in a free
PDF document you can print, 
save, or share,
 click here.


Let's warm up Santa after
 worldwide sleigh ride

Baileys Irish Coffee


2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream*

6 ounces freshly-brewed hot joe

1 ounce Irish whiskey 

Whipped Cream 

Directions: Combine Baileys, coffee, whiskey, top with whipped cream and enjoy.

*We also love the Baileys
flavor: "Vanilla Cinnamon"

+ 3 More Beautiful Layered Drinks

Dessert Shooters  

Click here or on the image above or below
to learn great tricks for layering drinks
+ 3 delicious dessert shooter recipes.