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Coffee & Chat, Kitchen Snapshots

Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries Cookbook

Culinary-themed cozy mysteries are a long-time favorite among readers. This is something I’m very excited about since I write a culinary-themed series. One of the perks of reading these books is that they almost always include recipes along with a smartly plotted mystery. Every now and again, an author of this type of series will branch out beyond the novel and write a companion cookbook. That’s exactly what Jenny Kales has done with her Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series.

There are four books currently in the mystery series, which is set in a fictional town in Wisconsin and features a Greek-American owner of an eatery, Callie’s Kitchen. In the cookbook, Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries Cookbook, some of the most popular recipes from the series are included along with never-before published recipes. In total there are 47 of Greek with a mid-western twist recipes for you to whip up.

Because of the twist on what are traditional Greek recipes, I think they have a broader appeal to home cooks who normally wouldn’t venture out into international cuisine. As I read through the recipes, I found them to be uncomplicated, a nice balance of flavors and included ingredients easily accessible. As I cooked through the recipes I found myself having more than one helping.

The recipes range from appetizers to beverages to salads to main dishes and of course, desserts. Jenny has you covered for any time of the day you want to add some Greek flair to your cooking. The only thing I was disappointed in was the absence of photographs. So, I decided to provide you with some. These are the recipes I’ve made so far from the cookbook. Ready to be inspired?

On a Sunday afternoon I made a Greek Olive Oil Cake. It was supposed to be a lazy afternoon but instead I found myself running unplanned errands so rather than make the glaze that’s included with the recipe, I dusted powered sugar over the cake. The moist texture of this cake is divine. This cake will be made again.

On a weeknight I wanted to make a side dish for our steaks and I decided on the Greek Roasted Lemon Potatoes. Adding the lemon and oregano was a new twist to my tried-and-true roasted potatoes. The verdict? My husband gave them a thumbs up so it looks like these potatoes will be a regular side going forward.

Now for what led me to the treadmill ASAP. Blueberry Greek Yogurt Scones. Need I say more? Delish. These scones are packed with flavor and they are tender. But be warned, You’ll be tempted to reach for a second one. Trust me, I know from experience.

I’ve enjoyed this cookbook as much as I have enjoyed reading the mystery series and it’s certainly going to be cooked from often. Now as much as I love this cookbook, I do have one teeny-tiny complaint. Okay, not really a complaint but something I did miss in the book and that was photographs. I know we all love photos of food in our cookbooks but please don’t let that stop you from checking out this cookbook because you’ll love the recipes and you can snap a few of your own photos. If you do, be sure to share them and tag Jenny.

Happy Cooking,

Debra

Cook’s Notes:

I didn’t have Greek olive oil in my pantry but now it’s going to be a staple. Here’s a similar olive oil to what I purchased. For the Greek Olive Oil cake I used my trusty bundt pan. Here’s a similar one if you need to add one to your kitchen.
Coffee & Chat

Sunday Coffee & Chat

August has arrived and I’d like to say that July flew by in a blink of an eye but I can’t because I felt every single day of the month. And wasn’t I lucky there were 31 days. The days were hot and humid (yes, I’m complaining about the weather and no, I don’t need to be reminded of the brutal winter ahead – I’m familiar with it) and there was so much work. Luckily, I love my job and my office is air conditioned. So no complaints there. But, I did not feel the month flew by at all. Let’s see if I’ll be able to say the same about August.

What have I been up to this past week? So glad you asked because I’m so happy to say the first draft of my Halloween-themed novella for the Resale Boutique mystery series is finished. It came in at 27,367 words. Yay! I also spent the week prepping book 4 in the Food Blogger series to send off to my indie editor. I have a few more chapters to review and tweak before the due date. I had the pleasure of reading a couple of chapters of my critique partner’s WIP. There’s a new one in my inbox so I’ll be reading that today. The thing on my to-do list all week that I didn’t get to was to begin writing the guest posts for the upcoming release of THREE WIDOWS AND A CORPSE. So that task is going on the to-do list for this coming week.

I also finished reading My Ex-Best Friend’s Wedding. I really enjoyed the book and if you’d like to read more about it you’ll find my post here. In July I also read Manor of Dying, which I loved. If you’d like to read my post about that book you’ll find it here.

I also finalized the recipes in Food Blogger 4 so now I just have to select which ones I’ll share in the book. There’s one cookie recipe and muffin recipe that will definitely go in the book. I also selected the recipe from THREE WIDOWS AND A CORPSE that I will share on the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen blog.

My little guy Billy had no one but two visits to the vet’s office because of a bump on his head. It was drained at the first appointment but after 48 hours it became inflamed and red. Now he’s on some meds and the bump is looking better, just not getting any smaller. He has a follow-up in a few days.

Thanks so much for stopping by today! It’s been great catching up with you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re planning for this coming week.

Coffee & Chat

Saturday Coffee & Chat

Happy Saturday!

It’s another hot and humid weekend here in Connecticut. And my plan for the day is to stay inside in the air conditioner. There’s no need to venture outside other than to get the mail. Nope. I’m staying put. I do plan to do some baking. There’s some recipe development that needs to be done for Food Blogger #4 and another project I’m considering. Not sure about that project yet. But I’ll still bake. Because, why not?

As we get further into the summer I do miss some of the flowers that had bloomed at the start of spring. For some reason, I really love those plants and I miss them as the summer goes on. My favorite flowers are my Azalea’s but they only bloom for a short period of time. The pretty little mound of purple flowers greets me as I pull into our driveway and then walk from the parked car to the front door. Surrounded by greenery, the two plants pop with color and always make me smile. While I’m a little sad they’re gone, I do have something to look forward to next year.

This week I’ve been putting final touches on Food Blogger #4 as I’m preparing to send it off to an editor. It’s never an easy thing to let go of a manuscript you’ve spent months writing.⁠ When I wrote the first draft in January I was so happy to be back in food blogger Hope Early’s world. after spending December writing SILENCED IN SEQUINS. In Hope’s fourth book the reluctant sleuth is starting to realize she has a knack for tracking down murderers. Okay, it’s not a knack we all aspire to and she does still have some resistance to embracing her new found skill set.⁠⠀
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When I set out to create Hope Early I knew I needed a main character that was relatable, had a few flaws and could connect with readers. Trust me, it’s not an easy task. ⁠Hope came to me rather quickly because I kinda gave her a new identity from another character I created years ago. Yeah, a little cheat. 😉 But she slowly evolved into the character she is today – smart, curious, tenacious. Oh, and she wants to feed the whole world around her dinner table. But what didn’t come quickly were her flaws, her backstory, her history with Ethan. Those things came over time as I wrote the first book in the series.⁠ As I’m wrapping up the book, I’m still discovering things about Hope’s character and I’m also seeing how she’s changing throughout each book. In book this I’m really pleased with the fact Hope is owning her amateur sleuth status and all that goes with it. Maybe I’m finally at a point where I’m owning my status as full-time author and all that goes with it. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll do a quick read of the manuscript, incorporate my critique partner’s notes and send this baby to my editor. And thanks to my schedule, I won’t have much time to fret over sending book 4 out because there’s a lot of writing to be done this month.⁠⠀
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This week I also began a new writing project and the photo above is a little clue. While brainstorming the project I made a little reminder card for research. Hmm…old cemeteries…I’m ten thousand words into my new manuscript and I’m having a blast! I’ll be sending out a newsletter this week with all the details of this unexpected writing project. So if you haven’t subscribed to the newsletter now’s the time. 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping by today! It’s been great catching up with you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re doing this weekend!

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Coffee & Chat

Saturday coffee & chat

Happy Saturday!

Another week behind us and we’re into a new month and we celebrated a national holiday! Wow! I also finished the 4th draft of Food Blogger #4. Many chapters are still with my critique partner and then the beast is headed to a freelance editor for an edit. I’ll be dealing with that later so I’m focusing on finishing draft 4. I do have the beast printed out and I’m going to read through it. I think a few of my chapters are way too long, so some reorganization needs to happen this coming week. Let’s see if I can keep the red pen away from those pages. LOL.

This week I mailed out the Advance Reader Copies for THREE WIDOWS AND A CORPSE (available for preorder now). I was blown away by the requests I received for ARCs when I shared on social media I had the books. If you’re a reviewer and didn’t get a print copy, digital ARCs will be available on NetGalley in late August/early September. I have to admit, I’m a little nervous in sending these babies out into the world. I felt the same way with my other books so I guess that feeling never goes away.

Three Widows and A Corpse book one in the Food Blogger Mystery Series

This week we started a new month and I have goals for July. But first, let’s take a moment and let the quote for this month sink in – nothing worth having was ever achieved without effort.

Never truer words ever spoken.

Everything I’ve achieved to date with my writing has been because of hard work, effort and commitment. Showing up everyday isn’t easy but if you have a dream you need to commit to it, work at it and celebrate it when you’ve achieved it. Then going forward you’ll practice – Rinse. Repeat. Because you can’t rely on your laurels.

So what are goals for the July? I’m so glad you asked. 🙂

First let me say, I’ve been looking forward to July for the past few weeks because I’ll be diving into my secret project (soon to be announced as the contract has just been received) and I’ll be starting Resale Boutique Mystery #3! The outline for the book was accepted by my editor. In book 3 we find Kelly’s former boss, the dragonista of Seventh Avenue, standing over the dead body of her ex-Husband’s new wife (wearing a fabulous faux leopard fur coat of course). There are so many things about this story I love and I can’t wait to start writing the manuscript. Darn secret project. Just kidding. I love my secret project. There you have pretty much what I have planned for the month – a lot of writing. So I’ll be cocooned in my air condition office with Billy until further notice.

There are times when a gal needs a chocolate cupcake. I needed one Tuesday. Just so you know, not everyday is perfect here in Deb’s writing world all the time. There are sucky days and luckily when I had one this week I also had a fresh batch of chocolate cupcakes to help ease the pain. 🙂 And also luckily for me, I didn’t go into a cupcake coma, I managed to stop myself from eating every single cupcake.

For the rest of the week, I stepped away from social media and I am taking long weekend off from writing. It was a quiet, long-stretch of time that was needed. I worked outside a bit, ate a really good burger and took numerous walks with Billy, well he actually was in the stroller for most of the time outside.

I’d love to hear what your highlight of the week was or what you have planned for this weekend? Did you watch any fireworks?

 

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Coffee & Chat

May Coffee & Chat

Happy New Week!

I know, I’ve been MIA here for what seems like forever. Oh, what Drew would say, forEVAH, girl. But believe me when I tell you that not a day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t thought about writing an update here. Well, today I’m sitting down and actually doing it. What a concept, right?

Since it’s been awhile, I thought today I’d do a little catch-up on the past few weeks. Book signing, magazine ad, best-seller list, a couple of Shih-Tzus. Hmm…where to begin?

Let’s start with a book discussion and book signing. Not going to lie. I loved seeing my book in the shop’s window.

For the release of THE HIDDEN CORPSE, I had the opportunity to visit Byrd’s Books in Bethel, CT for a discussion and signing. It was the perfect night to talk murder! We had a thunderstorm complete with streaks of lightning. Talk about a perfect backdrop. It reminded me of a scene in a Murder, She Wrote episode where a visiting author to Cabot Cove was reading from her novel and it was stormy outside and someone burst into the room. Very dramatic! No one burst into the middle of my book discussion. Yeah, not so dramatic. 🙂

It was a lovely evening despite the bad weather. I love talking about Hope and her sleuthing adventures and I felt very honored to sign copies of my books for those who came out and also some stock copies for the bookstore. That was awesome. Byrd’s Books did a wonderful job in pulling the event together and I’m looking forward to doing some more work with them.

Next up is this gorgeous back cover ad my publisher did for their recently released cozies that featured recipes. THE HIDDEN CORPSE was included!

One recipe from each of the books was highlighted. For THE HIDDEN CORPSE Hope’s Cinnamon Apple Bread was selected. I love this recipe. There is nothing more heavenly than apple and cinnamon baking. The house smells so good. And I’m thrilled that fellow Cozy Mystery Crew authors Libby Klein and Tina Kashian were included in the ad. Go team CMC!

I’m so grateful my publisher included THE HIDDEN CORPSE in the ad because I think it had a lot to do with the book making the Barnes and Noble Mass Market Paperback Bestseller list for THREE weeks! WooHoo!!! I have to admit, I love being on a best seller list.

The magazine is still available and you should be able to find it at your local grocery store and if not click here and you’ll be directed to Amazon we can purchase a copy. There are a lot of great recipes in this book in this magazine I flagged a few that I’m looking forward to trying over the next couple months.

Last month I shared the cover of the next Food Blogger book, THREE WIDOWS AND A CORPSE.

I absolutely love the cover. I’m often asked if I have any input to the cover design and the answer is “yes”. I”m fortunate that my editor asks me for ideas and I provide him with a bunch of inspirational photos and a detailed summary of the crime scene. And then Kensington works its magic to create beautiful covers like the one above. Now I’m waiting to see the cover for SILENCED IN SEQUINS.

Since we’re on the topic of writing, I’m currently working on the second draft of Food Blogger book #4. It has a working title but I’m not sure it will carry over to publication. I’m also editing the outline for Resale Boutique book #3 to send to my editor in June. And even though there’s a lot going on, I have an idea for another book that won’t go away! We’ll see what happens with that project. You know what? We’ll see just how badly this idea wants to be turned into a book. How hard will it fight for some attention from me? I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

Billy has been keeping me busy. This is a quick picture I snapped while on a walk. I put him  in the stroller and Susie walks. Depending upon how sleepy he is he might be curled up in the stroller (like the photo above) and doesn’t have a clue that we’re outside in the fresh air or  he could be sitting up and and enjoying the ride. He’s recovering from an infection and has a follow-up appointment this week.

And here is the picture of the little diva. Or as I call her frequently lady of leisure. Actually I snapped this photo of her when I was on FaceTime with fellow cozy mystery author Jenny Kales. Susie had come out to spend part of chat with us and then she wandered away and took a nap. She’s doing well considering her diagnosis of kidney disease. Twice a week I administer subcutaneous fluids and they’ve definitely helped her with her problem so fingers crossed that it’ll keep working.

Well that’s all my updates for now. I hope you’ll say “hi” in the comments.  And if you haven’t, consider signing up for my monthly newsletter. The form is below.

Debra

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