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Fish Fruit by Janie DeVos

In 1916, my grandmother, Nell Hurst, was 14 years old when she traveled by train from her family’s farm in Thomasville, Georgia, to Miami, Florida.  Making the long trip with her was her 18 year old sister Norma, (who I called Auntie), and their mother, my great-grandmother, Ludie.  My great-grandfather Charlie had passed away and Ludie decided that her small family needed a fresh start in life.  So, packing up her daughters and enough food for a couple of days train travel, the three left Georgia behind.

Grandma’s older brother Russell, his wife and their four children, had settled in Miami some time earlier, and this was the place that my great-grandmother had decided would become home to them all.  She had purchased a large house which would not only provide shelter for herself and two daughters, but income as well, for she turned it into a boarding house, offering two hot meals a day and a clean room to a dozen or so of the settlers.

Many of these new arrivals came into this developing region for the same reasons as my great-grandmother had; things had not soured for them in whatever place they had journeyed from, and/or they had little money, education or means of making much of a future for themselves anywhere else.  South Florida offered land and opportunity in abundance. “Homesteading” allowed a person to freely take a large parcel of land and work it for 5 years, at the end of which the government would give them ownership.  To someone who had a lack of money, but not ambition, this was a most viable option.  Another draw was the 75 degree weather in the middle of January.  This afforded the poor year ‘round farming, while allowing the wealthy the luxury of sunbathing on white-sand beaches while blizzards paralyzed the great northern cities.  Thus, the 1920’s “land boom” was born.

In order to fill the demands of the wealthy, men and their families flowed into Miami and the surrounding areas to construct the beautiful mini-palaces that were needed.  But, the vast majority of South Florida’s residents were living in houses that were a far cry from these luxurious estates.  The homes which belonged to the “worker bees” were built of whatever wood could be found or bought cheaply, and hurriedly slapped together to provide some modicum of shelter for the fast-growing population.   Continue reading “Fish Fruit by Janie DeVos”


Collecting for the Kitchen: Deviled-Egg Platters (and Deviled Eggs) by Peggy Ehrhart

Like my sleuth Pamela Paterson, I can’t resist thrift shops, tag sales, flea markets—any venue where someone’s castoff can become my treasure. Browsing is more fun if one is on the hunt for something in particular, and I have several collections in progress. One of my favorites is deviled-egg platters, especially platters with decoration that’s themed to the very food they’re designed to serve.

Ready for her closeup… Continue reading “Collecting for the Kitchen: Deviled-Egg Platters (and Deviled Eggs) by Peggy Ehrhart”

And the WINNER is… Mrs. S. from Michigan

Our Grand Prize Winner received this Raspberry Kitchen Aid!




Thanksgiving has a way of thawing the frostiest hearts in Lake Eden. But that won’t be happening for newlywed Hannah Swensen Barton—not after her husband suddenly disappears . . .

Hannah has felt as bitter as November in Minnesota since Ross vanished without a trace and left their marriage in limbo. Still, she throws herself into a baking frenzy for the sake of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving-themed treats while endless holiday orders pour into The Cookie Jar. Hannah even introduces a raspberry Danish pastry to the menu, and P.K., her husband’s assistant at KCOW-TV, will be one of the first to sample it. But instead of taking a bite, P.K., who is driving Ross’s car and using his desk at work, is murdered. Was someone plotting against P.K. all along or did Ross dodge a deadly dose of sweet revenge? Hannah will have to quickly sift through a cornucopia of clues and suspects to stop a killer from bringing another murder to the table . . .

Indulge In Joanne Fluke’s Criminally Delicious Hannah Swensen Mysteries!

Homemade Cheesecake by Lindsay McKenna

3–8 oz. of Philadelphia Cream Cheese–Lite
4  eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar– (fructose is the secret, key ingredient)


Cream together sugar and cream cheese.  Add eggs one at a time.  Blend well after each addition. Add vanilla.  Blend well.

Put springform pan in oven to warm.  Coat with 2-3 tbsp butter (or Pam spray).  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs (sides and bottom).

Pour batter in and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.  (Remember, it is longer if you live at 3,000’ or higher!)

Cool 10 minutes.  Then put on sour cream topping ** (see below for recipe)

Bake 10 more minutes. Continue reading “Homemade Cheesecake by Lindsay McKenna”

How to Make Cupcakes for Pupcakes by Stacey Keith

When bakery shop owner Maggie Roby can’t have what—or who—she’s yearning for (COUGH*** oh-so-delicious Jake Sutton***COUGH), she goes crazy baking stuff. You want big buttery chocolate chip cookies? She has them. A crunchy caramel pecan pie? She made one. How about a sweetly tart Texas key lime jubilee? DONE.

The best substitute for sex, Maggie decided, was pie.

And since she couldn’t eat enough pie to make those bad feelings go away—whipping up pastries all morning, every morning, kind of ruined a person’s enjoyment of baked goods—she kept her ovens working overtime.

Now her display case was packed with pies. There was caramel delight pie filled with soft piped caramel and drizzled with chocolate. There was butter pie bursting with butter, sugar, eggs, raisins and walnuts covered in a crisp pastry shell. And there were crumbly apple tarts bubbling over with oats, cinnamon and brown sugar.

She assembled the ingredients for lemon meringue. Between customers, she returned to the kitchen to add her grandmother’s special lemon curd filling to the bottom of a short crust and then she layered in the fluffy meringue. After she slid the pie in the oven, Maggie washed the pastry board and set it to dry.

Now it was ten a.m. two weeks after her sister’s wedding, Cuervo had returned to being the drowsy little hamlet it was and she was bored out of her skull. And restless. And so not thinking about Jake Sutton.

Fortunately for Maggie, she has her pug, Gus, to distract her. And when she’s not knitting adorable little sweaters for him, she uses her downtime to make the occasional doggy treat. I mean, seriously. Who can resist those big syrupy pleading eyes? You might have a pair of those at home, too, which is why I wanted to share Peanut Butter Pupcakes (cupcakes for dogs) that I’ve adapted from a terrific recipe on I think you’re gonna love it. Well, someone you know probably will.

Continue reading “How to Make Cupcakes for Pupcakes by Stacey Keith”

Coconut Bird Nests by Charlotte Hubbard

This is an old family favorite I updated with some cream cheese. These nests add color to a spring cookie plate—I make them green, but you can use any color you prefer—and the little jelly beans make them irresistible.

5 T. butter
3 oz. full-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. almond extract
1 T. brandy, Triple Sec or other liqueur*
Few drops of food coloring
1¼ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
14 oz. bag of moist coconut, divided
About a cup of frosting
Small bag of miniature jelly beans

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, extract, and liqueur. Mix in the flour, baking powder, and 3 scant cups of the coconut. Chill the dough for at least an hour (overnight/a couple days is fine). When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325º and cover baking sheets with parchment paper. Shake remaining coconut onto a sheet of wax paper. Roll the dough into 1” balls and then roll in the loose coconut. Place about 2” apart and bake 12-15 minutes, until cookies hold their shape (they won’t feel solid). Remove from the oven, leave on the pans for a minute—and then stick your thumb in the middle of the ball and shape the nest around it, pressing any cracks together so the nest is firm with a flat bottom. Cool completely on wire racks. Pipe a dab of frosting into the cooled nests and fill with the jelly beans. Makes about 3 dozen. Will freeze. Continue reading “Coconut Bird Nests by Charlotte Hubbard”

It Takes A Coven: A Witch City Mystery #6 by Carol J. Perry

* Credit Mystery Playground

Author Carol J. Perry joins us today to brew a wicked good drink for her new novel.

The newest book in Carol J. Perry’s Witch City Mystery series from Kensington Publishing is It Takes a Coven. Seems that there’s a new Witch-hunt going on in Salem, Massachusetts. With witches dropping dead before they even come out of the proverbial broom closet, and with thousands of crows  descending on Salem, Lee Barrett’s best friend River thinks she may have unleashed a terrible curse on the Wiccan population of the city. With the aid of a talkative crow named Poe, and her clairvoyant cat, O’Ryan, Lee sets out to investigate. She learns that casting light on the wicked truth can be one killer commitment.

The Black Crow is a well-known, simple to make old standby in rum-loving New England. Nothing fancy, but it does seem appropriate for a story involving thousands of the big black birds. Appropriately enough, the collective noun for such a gathering is “a murder of crows.”

Here’s the recipe:

Black Crow
1 part 151 Rum
4 parts Root Beer. (Lee uses Barq’s.)

Mix together with crushed ice in a glass. Garnish with mint leaves if you like.

Here’s the book trailer for It Takes A Coven… Continue reading “It Takes A Coven: A Witch City Mystery #6 by Carol J. Perry”

Dark Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies by Charlotte Hubbard

I love these cookies because they hold their shape when you bake them—and when decorated with some frosting, they really dress up a cookie plate. The butter makes the dough very stiff after it’s been chilled, but these rich, chewy cookies are well worth the extra effort!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup + 1T.  dark cocoa powder
½  tsp. salt
2/3 cup (10 T.) butter, softened (no substitutes)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, and then beat in the eggs and vanilla extract. On low speed, mix in the flour blend until thoroughly combined. Make a ball of half the dough and press it into a disk about 2 inches thick on wax paper, then wrap the disk in the wax paper. Repeat with remaining half of the dough, and chill the disks at least a couple of hours (overnight/a couple days is fine). Continue reading “Dark Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies by Charlotte Hubbard”

Tina’s Hummus by Tina Kashian

I love food. I enjoy all types of cuisine—especially ethnic. You can say it’s in my blood. My Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years and my mother was a talented cook. I grew up rolling silverware as a child, then working as a waitress and hostess as a teenager. My tips helped pay for my prom gown. Our kitchen at home was filled with the delicious aromas of simmering grape leaves, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, and shish kebab. As I grew older, I discovered and enjoyed other cuisine—Indian, Chinese, Mexican, and, of course, a great burger!

When I thought of where to set Hummus and Homicide, the first book in my Kebab Kitchen Mystery series, I knew it had to be at a family restaurant. The dynamics of the workers—temperamental chefs, busy busboys, and gossipy waitstaff can be quite entertaining. One of our head cooks married the head waitress. Food and romance—what could be better?

My Kebab Kitchen Mystery series also takes place at the Jersey shore. Ever since I was a little girl, my parents vacationed at there. We now have two young girls, and we still take them to the Jersey shore every summer. As I wrote the books, I pictured my fictitious small town of Ocean Crest at the Jersey shore. The name is a combination of Ocean City and Wildwood Crest—two of my favorite New Jersey shore towns. As I wrote the scenes, I heard the seagulls squawking and pictured them circling above the beach. I felt the lapping of the ocean waves and the sand between my toes, and imagined the brilliant Ferris wheel on the boardwalk pier. I pictured myself in Ocean Crest—minus the murders, of course!

I also had great fun coming up with titles for the series with my editor: Hummus and Homicide (February 2018), Stabbed in the Baklava (August 2018), and One Feta in the Grave (February 2019). All the titles reflect the light and funny feel of the cozy mysteries.

Here’s the cover of Hummus and Homicide. I just love it and it shows the grapevine, the hummus and shish kebab on the table, the skull and crossbones on the check, and even the family calico cat.

I also enjoy cooking, and I want to share my own award-winning recipe for hummus. I make it weekly at home for the kids and the husband. It can be served as a dip with wedges of pita bread or vegetables, and goes well with broiled or grilled meat. It can also be used as a healthy alternative to mayonnaise on sandwiches. Continue reading “Tina’s Hummus by Tina Kashian”

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