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Salted Caramel Bar Cookies from Banana Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F., rack in the middle position.

The Crust and Topping:
2 cups (4 sticks, 16 ounces, 1 pound) salted butter softened to room temperature
1 cup white (granulated) sugar
1 and 1⁄2 cups powdered (confectioners) sugar 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)

 The Caramel Filling:

14-ounce bag (approximately 50 pieces) square Kraft caramels, individually wrapped (If the kids help you unwrap the caramels, better buy 2 bags!)
1⁄3 cup whipping cream
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon sea or Kosher salt (the coarse-ground kind)

 Before you begin to make the crust and filling, spray a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan with Pam or another nonstick baking spray.

Hannah’s 1st Note: This crust and filling is a lot easier to make with an electric mixer. You can do it by hand, but it will take some muscle.

Combine the butter, white sugar, and powdered sugar in a large bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at MEDIUM speed until the mixture is light and creamy.

Add the vanilla extract. Mix it in until it is thoroughly combined.

Add the flour in half-cup increments, beating at LOW speed after each addition. Beat until everything is combined. Continue reading “Salted Caramel Bar Cookies from Banana Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke”

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Enter to WIN!

 

Hey everyone…this is Jo:

I’m so excited to share Hannah’s next mystery.  It’s Raspberry Danish Murder, and I’ve been in a baking frenzy to finish it for you.  In honor of the upcoming release, my publisher sent me a gorgeous raspberry pink Kitchen-Aid mixer to match the book.  I’ve been having so much fun making the recipes from the book, including:  Raspberry Danishes, Cherry Chocolate Bar Cookies, Upside Down Pear Coffee Cake, and Chocolate Butterscotch Crunch Cookies, that I wanted one special Hannah fan to get a mixer to match mine.  I twisted my publisher’s arm, and they finally agreed to get one lucky winner one that matched mine.

Now how will we find that one Hannah super fan who will win the raspberry mixer?

I know!  We’ll have a pre-order sweepstakes campaign.  All you have to do is pre-order Raspberry Danish Murder and register your pre-order in the form to be entered.

All the details to enter are below.   Good luck!  I hope you win!  Do be sure to send me pictures of the delicious recipes you’ve made in your new raspberry mixer.

Love you guys.

Jo

 

Readers who pre-order Raspberry Danish Murder before 2/27 are entered into this contest.

* 5 runner up winners receive free copy of Banana Cream Pie Murder (2/18mm) or a copy of Christmas Cake Murder (hardcover 10/18)

* Grand Prize Winner receives this raspberry Kitchen Aid

ENTER TO WIN!

 

 

 

Breakfast Ideas by Lena Gregory

When I was younger, I worked the breakfast shift at my grandfather’s deli. I loved everything about it, but I especially remember enjoying the aromas; coffee brewing, bacon, freshly baked Kaiser rolls…To this day, the smell of breakfast cooking reminds me of my childhood.

When I decided to write a cooking cozy, it seemed natural to base it around breakfast, but I started wondering if there would be enough items to fill the menu. So I sat down and thought about everything you could make for breakfast, and to my surprise, the list just kept getting longer and longer. Of course, you can always go with the traditional bacon, eggs, home fries, and toast, but here are a few more suggestions from the All-Day Breakfast Café menu you may enjoy.

Omelets: Omelets can be a quick easy breakfast, especially if you prepare ahead of time like Gia does. Once or twice a week you can spend a few minutes dicing your vegetables, or frying and cutting your meat, then keep it in a covered container in the refrigerator. When it’s time to make breakfast, you just throw in whatever you want, and you have a nice, hot meal in no time at all.

There are two ways to make omelets. You can cook the eggs first, then fill the omelet and fold it over, or you can scramble the omelet ingredients into the eggs, then cook them together. Personally, I prefer everything cooked together.

And what can you put in your omelet? Pretty much anything you’d like! Some of the omelets on Gia’s menu include: Continue reading “Breakfast Ideas by Lena Gregory”

Huckleberry Pie by Jennifer Beckstrand


If you live on Huckleberry Hill, you eat a lot of huckleberries. Here is a sweet, mild recipe for huckleberry pie from my friend Lori Peterson.

INGREDIENTS:
2 T cornstarch
2 T flour
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 quart bottled huckleberries

Separate huckleberries from juice. Mix cornstarch and flour with a little portion of the huckleberry juice. On medium heat, heat remaining juice from the huckleberries in a medium saucepan. Add sugar and salt then the cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and add huckleberries. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Add top crust and cut slits to vent.

Bake 375 for 40-50 minutes.

Continue reading “Huckleberry Pie by Jennifer Beckstrand”

Val’s Apple Cranberry Pie by Kirsten Weiss

Leaves are turning scarlet and gold. An autumn chill snaps the air. And people are getting cozy with soft blankets and wooly mittens. I don’t know about you, but now that the temperature is dropping, baking has gotten a lot more attractive.

My new cozy mystery, The Quiche and the Dead, takes place in a pie shop, Pie Town. The owner, Val Harris, is obsessed with pie (and figuring out who killed a man in her shop).  So, in honor of the season, here’s a Fall recipe direct from Pie Town:

Val’s Apple Cranberry Pie

Filling:
7 medium granny smith, golden delicious, or gravenstein apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 C frozen cranberries (you can use fresh too, but frozen berries tend to hold their shape better)
1/2 cup + 3 T granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Topping:
3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
3/4 flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 c. chilled butter, cut into pieces
1 premade pie crust.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line bottom of a 9” pie tin with a pre-made pie crust. Toss filling ingredients in a large bowl. Put in the in the lined pie tin.

Mix topping, cutting butter in until mixture like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake until topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbly, about 35 minutes.

Let cool. Enjoy! Continue reading “Val’s Apple Cranberry Pie by Kirsten Weiss”

Recipe for a Cozy Winter by Sharon Pape

I gripe a lot about winter – the snow, the sleet, the ice, the hail, not to mention the blizzards! I used to dream about living in a place where it was warm all year round, but the older I get, the more I’ve come to appreciate the change of seasons, especially the turning of winter into spring. Would I appreciate spring as much as if I hadn’t endured an endless winter? I don’t know, but in the interest of science I’d be willing to give it a try. Three seasons might be the best of all worlds.

Yet there are good things about winter. Just ask the people passionate about winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating to name a few. My winter passion is all about staying inside, warm and cozy in a big sweater with a cup of tea beside me while I work at the computer or curl up in my favorite chair to read. Of course snuggly pets of all sizes are great at amping up the coziness factor.

Winter is a great time to entertain too. I love to invite close friends over for a cozy evening featuring a yummy homemade soup.  One of my favorites I learned from my mother-in-law. She called it Pasta Ceci Soup. You may know Ceci beans better as Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans – one bean, many names. Served with a fresh crusty bread and sprinkled with shredded Romano cheese, this tomato based soup is great at chasing away the winter chill and giving you a big old hug of coziness from the inside out! And it’s super easy.

Continue reading “Recipe for a Cozy Winter by Sharon Pape”

Spinach and Goat Cheese Totally Non-Murderous Quiche by Kirsten Weiss

Owning her own business seemed like pie in the sky to Valentine Harris when she moved to the coastal California town of San Nicholas, expecting to start a new life with her fiancé. Five months—and a broken engagement—later, at least her dream of opening a pie shop has become a reality. But when one of her regulars keels over at the counter while eating a quiche, Val feels like she’s living a nightmare.

After the police determine the customer was poisoned, business at Pie Town drops faster than a fallen crust. Convinced they’re both suspects, Val’s flaky, seventy-something pie crust maker Charlene drags her boss into some amateur sleuthing. At first Val dismisses Charlene’s half-baked hypotheses, but before long the ladies uncover some shady dealings hidden in fog-bound San Nicholas. Now Val must expose the truth—before a crummy killer tries to shut her pie hole.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Totally Non-Murderous Quiche

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
½ thinly sliced small red onion
1 diced zucchini
10 eggs
2 C reduced fat milk or almond milk
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 ¼ tsp coarse salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
¼ C crumbled goat cheese
1 C chopped baby spinach
1 T grated parmesan
Baked, 9-inch pie crust Continue reading “Spinach and Goat Cheese Totally Non-Murderous Quiche by Kirsten Weiss”

Q&A with Mandy Mikulencak,  Author of The Last Suppers

1. You’ve been a non-fiction writer and editor your entire career. What made you decide to write fiction?

About seven years ago, I attended a women’s writing retreat sponsored by A Room of Her Own Foundation because I yearned to use words in a different way. I took a week-long workshop on short fiction and was hooked. After writing short stories and flash fiction, longer stories demanded to be told and I complied.

2. You don’t shy away from tough subjects and themes in your writing. Why is that?

I like to write (and read) stories that illuminate the dichotomy in the human condition: that joy and redemption (and sometimes humor) can exist alongside pain and tragedy. Writers like John Irving, George Saunders and Donald Ray Pollock have inspired me to take chances. There’s a wonderful freedom in writing novels that capture real life in all its beauty and ugliness.

3. What inspired you to write The Last Suppers? A very good friend of mine told me about a website that listed the final words of death row inmates. Some of the entries also listed what the inmate had for his last meal. She told me about a young man who only wanted Frosted Flakes and milk. This one detail got me thinking about all of the emotion and memory behind those requests. It’s rarely about the food itself. I then wondered what it would be like for a prison cook to become obsessed with finding the perfect meal for each death row inmate, even going as far as interviewing the inmate’s relatives. I also wanted to explore how a complicated relationship between a warden and the prison’s female cook could ensure their emotional survival in such a horrific setting.

4. Why did you choose Louisiana in the 1950s? What type of research did you conduct?

I thought it’d make a richer story to place it during a time period when prisoners were often denied their most basic human rights; a time when poverty and racial inequality were so visible. While the prison in the book is fictitious, I researched the Louisiana correctional system from the 1800s through the 1960s to find details that would make the lives of the characters more authentic. But I also took some liberties (since it’s fiction) and placed two female cooks in the prison kitchen even though a penitentiary in 1950s Louisiana wouldn’t have hired women.

5. Do you have a set writing schedule? Tell us more about your process.

All the advice out there says to write daily, but I’ve never been able to do that because of other work and life commitments, and sometimes because of those self-doubts that tell me I’ll never be able to finish another novel. (I’ve hit that point at about the 35,000 word mark in each of the five novels I’ve written.) But there are days when I can write for seven hours. Because I started my career as a journalist, I’ve learned to write quickly and on deadline, so when it counts, I get the work done.

6. What are you currently working on?

My next novel is about a teenage girl in 1960s Mississippi who kills her father to stop him from abusing her little sisters. She’s sent away to a psychiatric facility where she has to come to grips with her own abuse and how three generations of women have lived with their own secrets. See? I like messy and complicated stories. And I like Southern voices and settings. There’s a richness to the culture that makes the setting one of the most interesting characters.

Download Recipes here.

Continue reading “Q&A with Mandy Mikulencak,  Author of The Last Suppers”

Red Velvet Whippersnapper Cookies by Joanne Fluke

DO NOT preheat your oven quite  yet— this cookie dough needs  to chill before baking.

1 box (approximately 18 ounces) red velvet cake mix, the kind that makes a 9-inch by 13-inch cake (I used Duncan  Hines)

1 large egg, beaten (just whip it up in a glass with  a fork)

2 cups of Original  Cool Whip, thawed (measure this—a  tub of Cool Whip  contains a little over 3 cups and that’s too much!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet MINI chocolate chips

(I used Nestle)

———

1⁄2  cup powdered (confectioners) sugar (you don’t have to sift it unless it’s got big lumps)

small jar of red maraschino cherries, cut in half vertically and without stems

Pour  HALF of the  dry cake mix into  a large bowl.

Use a smaller  bowl to mix the  two cups of Cool Whip with the beaten egg and  the vanilla extract. Stir gently with a rubber spatula  until  everything is combined.

Add the Cool Whip mixture to the cake mix in the  large  bowl. STIR VERY CAREFULLY with a wooden  spoon  or a rubber spatula.  Stir only until  everything  is combined.  You don’t want to stir all the air from the Cool Whip. Continue reading “Red Velvet Whippersnapper Cookies by Joanne Fluke”

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