Guest Post- Tina Kashian!


Breaking News! The winner of Tina’s giveaway is Kay Garrett! Kay please contact Tina at to receive your book!

Jessie: In New Hampshire, hunkered down under a foot of fresh snow!

I had the very great pleasure of meeting the sparkling and lovely Tina Kashian last year at the Sisters in Crime Breakfast at the Malice Domestic conference. We began chatting, as one always does when surrounded by other mystery enthusiasts, and during the course of conversation we realized we shared a publisher. So, of course, I asked her to visit here at the Wickeds as soon as her book was out. The time has come so I hope you will join me in welcoming her here today! 

I love to cook, but I wasn’t born a good cook. It’s a skill that I’ve practiced and grown to Hummus and Homicide - Final Coverenjoy. I also love all different types of cuisine—Mediterranean, Italian, Chinese, and a good American cheeseburger. My mother, on the other hand, was a talented cook. She could taste a dish, then replicate it without a recipe. My parents owned a restaurant for thirty years and food was an important part of our family. I’d often come home from school to the delicious aromas of simmering grape leaves, stuffed peppers and tomatoes, and shish kebab.

But I am more like my heroine in my debut cozy mystery, “Hummus and Homicide.” Lucy is the only person in her family who can’t cook. Her mother, Angela, is a chef, and her father, Raffi, grew up knowing how to grill the perfect shish kebab. Since returning home to Ocean Crest at the Jersey shore and her parent’s Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen, Lucy is determined to learn how to prepare a meal. She’s receiving cooking lessons from her mother. We’ll see how it goes…

As for me, I have fond memories of watching my mother in the kitchen. I’d stand by her side with a pen and paper in hand and scribble detailed notes. She never used a recipe. I’d ask, “How much of that?” She’d say a handful or a pinch. It drove me nuts! Our handfuls were not the same. Years later, my mother passed away. When I try to prepare her dishes, they never seem to come out just like hers. Maybe it’s the memory I’m holding onto more than the taste of the food.

Tina Gabrielle Author PhotoBut I am writing down my recipes for my two young girls. No more handfuls or pinches of anything. If my girls decide to make a dish, then I’d like them to have a recipe to follow.

I’m excited about the release of “Hummus and Homicide.” I also had great fun coming up with the other titles—Stabbed in the Baklava (September 2018) and One Feta in the Grave (February 2019). All the titles are puns on food and reflect the light and funny feel of the cozy mysteries.

So, readers, what is your talent or favorite hobby? Did you have to work at it or was it natural? Please comment for a chance to win a copy of “Hummus and Homicide.” Ebook or print (U.S. only). Your choice!

Regional Traditions and a Giveaway

By Jane/Susannah/Sadie, who’s still not sick of turkey on the last day of November…

Thankful for Our Readers Giveaway: I’m giving away a copy of Yarned and Dangerous, book 1 of the Tangled Web Mysteries. Leave a comment below for a chance to win.

Sunset view from my cabin

I spent this past Thanksgiving, as I have most every Thanksgiving for the last twenty years, in Northern New York State , where I have rustic (don’t get jealous–I mean it when I say rustic) but comfortable cabin on a lake. On Thanksgiving day, my husband, son, and I trek out through the woods to, well, Grandmother’s house. Or at least my son’s grandmother, my mom.

Like most families, we have our traditional foods to go with the turkey (not all of which everyone actually enjoys): winter squash (usually Hubbard), sage dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry relish (click here for a recipe), crumb-topped apple pie, and of course pumpkin pie. I will leave it to you to figure out which thing on this list is almost universally disliked in the family, but which we have every year anyway because that’s the way it’s done.

But there are certain regional delicacies we have at every gathering, not just Thanksgiving: cheese curds and Croghan bologna (pronounce that “cro-gun bull-o-nee,” please). I would venture to say that most every family, and certainly any with roots deeper than three generations, in the North Country also has these items as appetizers before the main meal on special days.

So what’s a cheese curd? The North Country has a lot of cows and a lot of dairy farms, which means we make cheese. The curds are a byproduct of cheesemaking, and have a flavor somewhere between mozzarella and a mild cheddar, depending on what cheese they’re a byproduct of. When fresh, which is really the best way to eat them, these little misshapen lumps squeak when you chew them. They are usually eaten cold, but they can also occasionally be breaded and deep fried, or made into the French-Canadian, becoming-sorta-trendy treat poutine–french fries and cheese curds covered in hot gravy. Although most people don’t make poutine at home. It’s easier to order out.

Curds and Croghan on a Grinch-colored plate

Now, for the Croghan bologna. This is a type of ring bologna–more of a sausage, really–which has been manufactured in the tiny town of Croghan, NY at the Croghan Meat Market (click here for more information and for photos) for more than a hundred years. The recipe, which came with the market’s founder, Fred Hunziker, from Switzerland, is a closely guarded secret. This is always eaten cold, sliced into rounds about a quarter of an inch thick, sometimes on a cracker (it fits perfectly on a Ritz), or sometimes topped with a cheese curd or a bit of mustard. I suppose some people might heat it up for breakfast, or make it into a sandwich, but in general that’s a no-no.

If it’s Grade B, it’s for me!

The breakfast of choice for the day after Thanksgiving, or Christmas or Easter morning, is pancakes with local maple syrup. In the North Country, most of us like the dark syrup rather than the lighter, more-desirable-other-places amber. I don’t know that I have a particularly discriminating palate, but I can tell the difference between North Country syrup and Vermont. Sorry, Vermont, but I likes what I knows, and my syrup of choice will always be from New York.

For a chance to win a copy of YARNED AND DANGEROUS, leave a comment below, telling us about your favorite regional foods. If you don’t have any, tell us what you think that hated food item is that I reference in paragraph 4, above. You don’t have to be right to win, LOL!


The Food Conundrum

Finished Product (1)

The recipe I came up with for Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen–shrubs!

When you write cozies, there is always the food issue. That is, do you include recipes or not?

Now, for some folks, that answer is an easy one. They’re centered around food, so of course! There’s even a great blog called Mystery Lovers Kitchen that is about mysteries and food. It features a huge array of cozy authors. They let me do a guest post in August. I made shrubs, which are discussed in Chime and Punishment. Part of the challenge is taking pictures of the process that look somewhat appetizing.

I like mysteries with food. In fact, Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson series is a go to for cookie recipes for me. There’s even a cookbook, which I own and have given as gifts.  Her Highlander Cookie Bar recipe is one of my go-tos when I need to impress. (Shortbread on the bottom, brownies on top. Oh. My.)

Several of the Wickeds have series that include recipes. In my Clock Shop series, there was a natural fit if I featured recipes from the Sleeping Latte. But, then I learned some of the “rules”. The recipe needs to be original. And, since I know I try them on occasion, they need to taste good. I bake, and cook, but I couldn’t take the pressure.

For my Theater Cop series, a food tie in doesn’t really work as well. Though, I did mention cinnamon and sugar french fries with a cream cheese frosting dip that I thought sounded pretty interesting in book 2, which will be out next September. I totally made them up, so the recipe isn’t in the book.

I am writing a new series (stay tuned), and I’m not sure if I’m going to have recipes. But I do find myself mentioning food a lot, just in case. I plan to have the nieces help me develop a couple to see if I can pull it off. We’ll see how it goes.

Today, my question for you dear readers, do you like cozies with recipes? Do you try them? Trust them? Should I try and pull this off? Let me know in the comments!

Some Book News

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, just back from a lovely weekend in Maine, where I taught a class and hung out with the Maine Romance Writers…

Yarned and Dangerous Cover(And no, I don’t feel like I got enough Maine, so I’ll have to schedule a trip back there soon. For sure I didn’t eat my quota of lobster, which warrants a return in itself!)

For the first time in my relatively short career as a published author (Feta Attraction came out in January, 2015, followed by Olive and Let Die and Yarned and Dangerous last fall), one of my books has been deeply discounted! I love a bargain as much as anyone (I don’t believe I’ve ever paid full sticker price for any pair of shoes or article of clothing in my entire shopping life), so I got all tingly when I found out the ebook of Yarned and Dangerous was going on sale. It’s now $2.99 (regular price $9.99), so that’s 70% off. But it’s only for another ten days, so if you’ve been wanting to try out this new series, or if you need an ebook to take with you when you sneak away for a tiny respite from the family picnic this Memorial Day weekend, now’s a great time to pick this one up.

A Killer Kebab CoverAnd while we’re talking about books, the third installment of my Greek to Me series, A Killer Kebab, is now available for preorder. Here’s the blurb:

The Bonaparte House is closed for the season, and Georgie Nikolopatos looks forward to fixing up the Greek restaurant and historic landmark—until her renovation plans hit a fatal snag.
With her divorce underway, her mother-in-law returning to Greece, and the tourists gone, Georgie finally has life under control—and the Bonaparte House to herself. She quickly hires a contractor for some much-needed renovations to reopen in time for a special Greek-style Thanksgiving meal. Georgie is suspicious though when former dishwasher Russ Riley arrives with the construction crew. He still has an ax to grind with the Nikolopatos family—but is it sharp enough to kill?
When Georgie finds the body of her divorce lawyer amid the construction debris and Russ is quickly arrested for murder, something about the case doesn’t add up. While Georgie is no fan of Russ, even a bad egg deserves a crack at justice.

I had such fun writing this book and introducing some new characters as well as bringing back some from the first two. Georgie’s divorce lawyer is found skewered by the restaurant’s gyro spit on the floor of the gutted (ew, sorry!) ladies’ room of the Bonaparte House restaurant. But lots of people had access to the spit and to the restaurant, and lots of people had reasons to want James MacNamara, Esq., dead. And, if you’ve ever wondered about the true origins of Thousand Island dressing–if you’re anything like me, this sort of thing keeps you up at night–look no further than A Killer Kebab, which contains what I believe to be the original recipe.

Now, I’m off to prepare for my family Memorial Day celebration–I have quite a bit of food prep to do, and no commercial kitchen to do it in, like my heroine Georgie does! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with great weather, friends, family, barbeque, and just the right number of potato salads.

Black Friday Stew

Susannah/Sadie/Jane here, writing from her cabin high above a lake somewhere in the boondocks…

Hello, Wicked People! As my status may tell you, I’m not home in Connecticut for Thanksgiving. As long as there’s not too much snow, we travel to our cabin, where we watch the Macy’s parade (the only time we ever watch broadcast television there—not that that’s a big hardship or anything. We only get two stations.). We stay until mid-afternoon on Turkey Day, then head out to my mom’s house for a big dinner with my sisters and their families. After dinner, we break into two groups: the turkey coma victims and/or television special watchers, and the card players.

Doing the can-can-can on the deck, with the lake in the background

Doing the can-can-can on the deck, with the lake in the background

Since none of us are Black Friday shoppers, the next day everyone comes here, to Camp (yes, we think of it with a capital C). About ten years ago, I threw together a big, easy meal with the turkey leftovers, and Black Friday stew was born. We’ve been having it ever since. Today, I’m sharing the recipe with you.


Black Friday Stew

1 cooked turkey carcass (any size), meat picked off and refrigerated for later

1 onion

2 carrots

2 parsnips

2 stalks celery

1 bay leaf

Place turkey carcass in your largest stock pot. If you can, break up the carcass a bit so it will fit better. Add the vegetables and bay leaf. Cover most of the carcass with water, bring to a quick boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for at least three hours on medium-low heat. Allow to cool to a temperature that won’t burn you, then strain out the solids and discard. Measurements don’t have to be exact, but I usually end up with about 2 to 3 quarts of stock.

Place strained stock back into the cleaned pot and add:

2 cans of condensed cream of chicken soup, or 1 family-size can (straight from the can)

2 cans of creamed corn

1 can of drained niblets (or leftover corn from yesterday’s dinner)

Leftover gravy and mashed potatoes (if you have them)

Bring up to a slow simmer, and when the stew is hot, add about half a box of angel hair or spaghetti, broken up. Simmer until the pasta is cooked.

Serves a crowd (recipe is easily halved). Serve with buttered fresh-baked French bread—I use the Pillsbury kind that startles you when the tube of dough pops open. But any delicious roll or bread will do. Because what’s a few more carbs, right?

This is a very forgiving recipe. I’ve even added a bit of leftover stuffing and green bean casserole at the last minute, and it was quite tasty.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I hope you all had a lovely Thursday and will have a peaceful weekend. Hugs from the boondocks!

Beat the Heat with Summer Salads

All the Wickeds love summer and we all love quick and easy salads to get us out of the kitchen and back onto the beach, the lake or even back to work on our latest works-in-progress. Today we’re talking about our favorite salad recipes.

Have you got a super salad recipe to share? We’d love to hear it!

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Vaughn C. Hardacker is the randomly selected commenter who won the signed copy of Ray Daniel’s debut mystery, TERMINATED. Vaughn, please email EdithMaxwellAuthor at gmail dot com your email address, and congratulations!

Jessie: My husband makes a great Brazilian-style salad. It is fairly quick, very healthy and is delicious with grilled foods. I think it tastes even better the second day.

A small head of Napa cabbage
2 tomatoes
a bunch of scallions
a lime
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste 

Thinly slice the head of cabbage, the tomatoes and the scallions. Mix gently in a large bowl. Squeeze on the juice of the lime and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Barb: My husband has made this delicious Tuna and White Bean Salad for years. The recipe is in Boiled Over, the second Maine Clambake Mystery–which also contains the recipe for the Tomato Salad shown in the photo.

Richelle’s Tuna and White Bean Salad

tuna bean saladThis is a light, fresh-tasting salad. When Richelle comes off a long road trip, she can put this dish together from items readily available in her pantry.

2 6-ounce cans light tuna packed in olive oil

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Drain oil from tuna and put in bowl. Flake tuna with a fork. Add onion and garlic and stir with fork. Add beans and gently fold together. Dress with oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Allow flavors to marinate at room temperature for thirty minutes to an hour. If refrigerated, best to allow to come to room temperature before serving.

IMG_0182Sherry: I love Greek salad. This is about as easy as it gets. Combine cucumber, tomato, red onion, and feta cheese with romaine lettuce  — add anything else you like to it too. For the dressing whisk together lemon juice (one fresh lemon is perfect but you can add more to taste), 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon oregano. We love garlic so I usually mash a bit in too. Pour over the lettuce and serve. This amount of dressing serves one but it’s easy to double.


Edith: Well, dang it all. I was going to include MY go-to Greek salad – which differs from Sherry’s by having gold cherry tomatoes, NO ONION, no lettuce, no dressing but good

tomatobasilmozzarellolive oil, and has fresh oregano leaves. But since she dibbed it, how about this?

Who wouldn't want to share Prosecco with cheesemaker Luca?

Who wouldn’t want to share Prosecco with cheesemaker Luca?

Caprese Salad

Wolf Meadow Farm fresh mozarella
Large whole basil leaves
Slices of large ripe heirloom tomatoes.
(Are you dying yet?)
Layer each trio into stacks, drizzle with good olive oil and spritz of excellent balsamic, sprinkle on some sea salt, and serve with crusty bread and a glass of Prosecco. Yum.

Julie: My favorite salad this summer? Watermelon, feta cheese, olives, a tiny bit of mint (optional). So. Good.

Sherry: Edith you need to tell us about your Greek salad too — there’s always room for more Greek Salad!

Readers: What is your favorite salad?

Maple Mayhem Week: Your Favorite Maple Recipes

maplemayhemAs we all know, Maple Mayhem is released this week. We love the maple recipes Jessie includes in her books, and being New Englanders, we have a few of our own to share:

Julie: Brussel Sprouts, Bacon, and Maple Syrup. I’ll just let that sit for a bit. I first saw this recipe on, and have tweaked it a bit over the years.

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
5 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Set oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet.
2. In a bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with olive oil, maple syrup, bacon, salt, and pepper. Spread the mixture in a single layer on the baking sheet.
3. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning several times, or until the Brussels sprouts are tender and caramelized and the bacon is crisp and golden. This can take up to 40 minutes.
You can also add carrots or parsnips to the mix.

Edith: Geez. I don’t use maple syrup anywhere except on top of pancakes and French toast. So here’s my favorite pancake recipe, that I got from a certain Country Store Mysteries series.

PancakesWhole Wheat Banana Walnut Pancakes

2 c whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 T brown sugar
3 eggs
2 c milk or buttermilk (of any fat content)
¼ c oil
½ c finely chopped walnuts
2 bananas, thinly sliced
Butter for cooking
Greener Pastures maple syrup
Plain or vanilla yogurt, or sour cream.

1. Preheat a wide skillet or griddle to medium.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together.
3. Beat the eggs, then add the milk and oil.
4. Stir in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
5. Fold in the walnuts and bananas.
6. Melt one T of butter in the pan and spread it evenly.
7. Form pancakes of the size you like and cook until bubbles form and pop.
8. Flip the cakes and cook until done.
9. Serve with warm syrup and top with butter, yogurt, or sour cream.

pumpkin whoopie piesBarb: Did you ever have one of those situations where you are asked for something and you’re like–“Oh my gosh, I have exactly the thing right here!” Well that just happened to me. I needed a recipe with maple syrup and there’s one in Musseled Out, the third Maine Clambake Mystery, which I have just turned in to my editor. It’s a fall book, and the recipe is for Grandma Snowden’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. Whoopie pies are the State Snack of Maine, where they were invented. (Unless you believe some crazy people from Pennsylvania.) So it’s Sugar Grove meets Busman’s Harbor. I smell cross-over. The recipe is long, so I put it on a separate page, with a link here.

Jessie: One of my favorite maple recipes is one that is perfect for those last minute calls you get to contribute something to a bake sale. It is quick, easy and gets rave reviews.

Maple Blondies

1 stick or 1/2 cup of butter

¾ cup light brown sugar

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 large egg

½ teaspoon maple extract

1 cup all purpose flour

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 8 x 8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a saucepan heat the butter and brown sugar over low heat until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the maple syrup, egg, and maple extract. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, nutmeg and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the contents of the saucepan. Whisk together until smooth. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 22-28 minutes.

These are meant to be soft, even a bit undercooked by most baking standards. If this is not to your liking, increase the baking time by three-minute intervals until a desired degree of firmness is achieved.

Sherry: I confess I don’t have a lot of recipes that use maple syrup. I, like Edith, usually use it on pancakes or French toast. However, I did hit on something really simple. Even  been trying to eat less carbs and The South Beach Diet has dessert recipes that call for ricotta cheese and things like mini chocolate chips, vanilla or lemon zest. I’m sure you can see where this is going. One night we didn’t have any of those things but we did have maple syrup so we tried a half cup of ricotta with a drizzle of maple syrup. It’s delicious.

Readers: Any favorite maple syrup recipes?