New history mystery — on preorder

Killer Debt — Mystery on the battle line

Now that my blog is work­ing again, I can belat­ed­ly tell you about an his­toric mys­tery from one of my favorite authors. This month it’s on * pre-order * with an option of perks. (Since I’m so late, some of the perks are no longer avail­able.) But let’s for­get that and focus on the book. It will come out in May and is the newest in the Michael Stod­dard series. Stod­dard is an Eng­lish offi­cer under orders to pro­tect an Amer­i­can arriv­ing under white flag to con­sult with the British. His main adver­sary is anoth­er British offi­cer, as he also strives to keep an Amer­i­can lady safe. (Or, maybe I’m say­ing too much here? Can I men­tion that they real­ly do like each oth­er?)

Author Suzanne Adair brings our Amer­i­can his­to­ry to the pages, shin­ing a light on much that has been for­got­ten about our past. The sto­ry is fic­tion, but the his­to­ry under­ly­ing this mys­tery is real. What bet­ter way to dis­cov­er the for­got­ten past than in a thriller that por­trays colo­nial life as well as Eng­lish and Amer­i­can sen­ti­ments in our Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War? While you are on the site linked above, (set off by stars), check out the video telling more, the link to Suzanne read­ing chap­ter one, and a link to a PDF of the first chap­ter.

 

Shredded chicken

Prepare ahead for future meals — and one suggestion

I must admit, some of my best ideas come from Ann Ful­ton in her news­pa­per col­umn, Foun­tain Avenue Kitchen. Today I have two recipes inspired by her. The first is how to cook up sev­er­al chick­en breasts to cre­ate shred­ded chick­en. The oth­er is one way to use part of that shred­ded chick­en.

Shredded Chicken 

Ingre­di­ents:
6 large chick­en breasts
3/4 cup chick­en broth or stock
1/2 tbsp gar­lic pow­der
1/2 tbsp onion pow­der
1/2 tbsp salt or sea­soned salt
1 tsp black pep­per

Direc­tions:
Place chick­en in slow cook­er. Sprin­kle spices on top, then pour the broth over all. Cov­er and cook for 4 to 5 hours on low, or 2 to 3 hours on high. (The chick­en will shred eas­i­ly when done.) Shred with two forks either inside the cook­er, or on a cut­ting board.
Use amount desired in your favorite recipe. Freeze the remain­der in one and two-cup amounts. Add some of the liq­uid to each air-tight, plas­tic bagged por­tion. To use, thaw and drain liq­uid, reserv­ing it to add to any liq­uid required.
Note: As I have a small­er pres­sure cook­er, I used half of this recipe.

Spinach, Mushroom, and Chicken Quesadillas

Ingre­di­ents:
8 ounces sliced mush­rooms (any kind)
1/2 tsp minced gar­lic
1 cup rough­ly chopped spinach
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp but­ter
6-inch or 8-inch flour tor­tillas
1 cup cooked, shred­ded chick­en
up to 2 cups shred­ded cheese (ched­dar, Mon­terey Jack, Mex­i­can blend, or mixed)
sour cream and sal­sa to serve

Direc­tions:
Saute and brown mush­rooms in olive oil for about 8 min­utes. Con­tin­ue cook­ing until any liq­uid has evap­o­rat­ed. Add the gar­lic, cook and stir for half a minute. Add the spinach and saute until it is wilt­ed. (You may warm chick­en in microwave.) Keep warm ingre­di­ents warm. Pre­pare tor­tillas by toast­ing in but­ter on one side (medi­um heat fry pan), then flip­ping. While the sec­ond side is toast­ing, add to one side mush­room mix­ture, chick­en, and cheese. Fold oth­er side over top. As cheese melts and bot­tom browns, flip to oth­er side to com­plete brown­ing. Que­sadil­las may be kept in 300 degree oven until all are ready to serve.

Note: Using 2 cups of shred­ded cheese, this recipe will fill eight 8-inch tor­tillas. I used less cheese and divid­ed all the oth­er ingre­di­ents between five 6-inch tor­tillas. (Good either way!)

I may make it dif­fer­ent­ly the next time. (I always do.) So feel free to change every­thing. What would you add or sub­tract?

 

Mystery Aboard

Mysteries, Boats, and Boaters

Two of my favorite mys­tery authors are boaters. So, what else do they do but set their mys­ter­ies aboard? Actu­al­ly, not only do I love their sto­ries, they inspire me. (Okay, I have a mys­tery aboard.  Not a series yet, but I’m writ­ing as fast as I can.) So, here they are: Jinx Swartz and Chris­tine Kling.

Some recipes fail

Cheeseburger Muffins — NOT

Not a recipe day. Not a “save time, serve a deli­cious meal” day. No, not at all. How about a “For­get it. Let’s go to Burg­er King,” day? 

I had a half pound of ham­burg­er and high hopes. The recipe sound­ed inter­est­ing. The “come on” sound­ed even bet­ter. Oh, yes! Words like, “when we’re dying for a yum­my cheese­burg­er,” and “fam­i­ly favorite!”

I’d start­ed with a pound of ham­burg­er, plan­ning a meat­loaf, our per­son­al fam­i­ly favorite. Yum­my meal and sev­er­al cold sand­wich­es in the future. But I suc­cumbed to anoth­er idea. Must admit that was a stretch. Filled pep­per. But that’s anoth­er sto­ry about some­thing we did eat, but don’t plan to try again. Back to today’s dis­as­ter. First thing, it took an hour of my time. Sec­ond thing, it took a lot of oth­er gro­ceries that could have been bet­ter spent. Two eggs, a quar­ter of a pound of but­ter, two, count them, two cups of shred­ded cheese, ketchup, mus­tard, milk, flour, sug­ar. Sug­ar?

The recipe made way more than two of us could eat. (Espe­cial­ly since hub­by ate only one.) I sol­diered on, not sure why, and ate three. Or was it four? Nope, I’m sure I filled up with three. How­ev­er, a few of those good words were, “freezes well.” So now I have at least a dozen of those lit­tle nuggets of delight in the freez­er. Per­haps I’ll serve them to grand­chil­dren, nat­u­ral­ly using words like, “a go-to snack when you’re dying for a yum­my cheese­burg­er!” I won’t show them the pic­ture from the recipe book that shows them plump and rosy with­out those singed edges that result­ed from the min­i­mal cook time.

I Love a Mystery — Historic Mysteries

Three Favorite Historic Mysteries

My favorite books are mys­ter­ies, true, but I like to read in sev­er­al gen­res. When I find a delight­ful his­toric mys­tery, I’m dou­bly thrilled. In fact, I so love his­tor­i­cal mys­ter­ies, I have to show­case three series. 

A Main Dish From Leftovers

Stacks for Two — A leftover delight

Ingre­di­ents 
4 6-inch four tor­tillas
1/2 cup cooked meat, chopped fine
1/2 jar sal­sa
shred­ded cheese

Direc­tions
1. Reserve 1 table­spoon of sal­sa. Mix sal­sa and chopped meat in fry pan and heat togeth­er.
2. Place one tor­tilla in the bot­tom of a small casse­role dish.
3. Spread one half of the sal­sa mix­ture on the tor­tilla.
4. Sprin­kle shred­ded cheese on top.
5. Repeat 2–4 (plac­ing anoth­er tor­tilla on top of the one below, then cov­er­ing with cheese.
6. Place last tor­tilla on top, spread the reserved sal­sa, then sprin­kle more shred­ded cheese.
7. Heat in 350̊ oven 20 or more min­utes until cheese bub­bling and top slight­ly browned.
8. Cut in wedges and serve with sour cream, chopped let­tuce, and chopped toma­to.

Notes: Any meat may be used — beef, pork, chick­en, ham, even fish.
Cheeses may include ched­dar, moz­zarel­la, Col­by, Parme­san, Mex­i­can blends, or oth­ers. You may pre­fer to place a dif­fer­ent cheese in each lay­er.

Vari­a­tions: Use pineap­ple sal­sa and include pineap­ple tid­bits with the meat.
Use a chopped, cooked veg­etable instead of meat, or with meat.

Laugh Out Loud Mysteries

Two humorous mystery series

A good mys­tery may keep me up late at night as I fol­low an excit­ing sto­ry and try to uncov­er clues that lead me to who-dun-it before the sleuth. If I’m sur­prised, that’s an added ben­e­fit. Nail-bit­ing? You bet. Fear for the safe­ty of a total­ly imag­i­nary hero or hero­ine? Oh, way sure! But laugh all the way through until tears flow? Some­times that’s exact­ly what I’m look­ing for. And two of my favorite series fit the bill.

Tamar Myers is one author. Her Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch Mys­ter­ies (with recipes, even) fol­low Mag­dale­na Yoder as she solves mys­ter­ies while run­ning her own Pen­nDutch Inn. Some books in the series were pub­lished twen­ty years ago, and oth­ers more recent­ly. One review­er of Too Many Crooks Spoil The Broth said, “Part Agatha Christie, part Key­stone Kops, with a few tan­ta­liz­ing food stops along the way.” Some titles are: Play It Again, Spam, The Crepes of Wrath, and Custard’s Last Stand. True sto­ry: She sold each book on the title alone! Okay, maybe not the first one.

Kaye George is anoth­er author who fits the bill. Choke, Broke, and Smoke, are the titles in her Imo­gene Duck­wor­thy Mys­ter­ies. One review­er said: “Ques­tion: If you com­bined Lucille Ball with Inspec­tor Clouse­au, what would you get? Answer: Imo­gene Duck­wor­thy, ama­teur PI…” Immy, the ama­teur sleuth who real­ly wants to be a pro­fes­sion­al, is one of a kind. She tries her darn­d­est, while the read­er won­ders how she can pos­si­bly suc­ceed, but cheers her every effort any­way. I could add, the read­er also enjoys her unex­pect­ed detours from those detect­ing chores.

Both authors have oth­er series as well, series I great­ly enjoy, maybe not just when I’m in a sil­ly mood. Do you have a favorite fun­ny mys­tery or series? I’d love to add to add to my, ahem, over­whelm­ing pile of BTR (books to read).

 

 

Sloppy Joes — With a secret ingredient

Sloppy Joes with Red Cabbage

Ingre­di­ents
1 pound ham­burg­er (more or less okay)  
1 tbsp oil
1/4 to 1/2 head red cab­bage, grat­ed
1 onion, chopped
3/4 cup toma­to ketchup
2 tbsp vine­gar
2 tbsp Worces­ter­shire sauce
1/4 tsp cin­na­mon
1 tsp papri­ka
1 tsp chili pow­der
1/4 tsp cloves (or more)
salt and pep­per to taste

Direc­tions
Brown the ham­burg­er in oil, chop­ping and stir­ring it with a plas­tic spat­u­la, until no red remains.
Add all the oth­er ingre­di­ents. Stir and bring to a sim­mer. A lit­tle water may be added if it is too thick. Keep at a sim­mer for 20 to 30 min­utes — with or with­out a lid.
Serve on buns.

Note: All ingre­di­ent amounts can be adjust­ed to your per­son­al taste. (I tend to mea­sure by eye.) The best part of this recipe? No one has ever guessed my secret ingre­di­ent!

 

Favorite Mass-Market Mysteries

Favorite Mystery Reads of The Past

Do you remem­ber going to the book­store when there were two main ones in the big shop­ping cen­ter and mass-mar­ket paper­back copies of all the books in a mys­tery series on the shelves? You’d buy the next one in the series and know all the oth­ers would be wait­ing for your when you came back. Even after one store closed or moved to a remote loca­tion, there were still those rows of books by your favorite author.

I got whole series, one at a time. The first would be avail­able as well as the fif­teenth and all the oth­ers in between. The Cat Who and Mrs. Pol­li­fax mys­ter­ies were my favorites. I trad­ed away most of the Cat Who books when we were sail­ing, pass­ing them on to the next read­er in exchange for a fresh mys­tery. I kept all the Mrs. Pol­li­fax books and still have them. I’ve read the entire series twice. Must be due for a third read­ing!

Those books and oth­ers kept me enter­tained while my chil­dren grew up, and went off into the world. I fol­lowed Mr. Qwiller­an and his life as his amaz­ing cats helped him solve mys­ter­ies. I reliv­ed the life of Mrs. Pol­li­fax as she trav­eled around the world—as a mid­dle-aged, unex­pect­ed secret agent. Both series pure fan­ta­sy, of course. Did I care? Nope, I ate them up.

How about you? Did you have favorite series that grew along with your fam­i­ly? Gave you moments of plea­sure amid chaos? And, like me, per­haps they inspired you to write sto­ries of your own. My first mys­tery owes a lot to Mrs. Pol­li­fax. And cats? Well, my ama­teur sleuth does have an imag­i­nary cat. You see, Clyde, the yel­low-striped tom, came with the ter­ri­to­ry. But that’s anoth­er sto­ry.

Recipe — Garlic Chicken with Peanut Sauce

First, a quote from Yesterday’s Body

What’s for din­ner?” I asked.
“There’s half a bar­be­qued chick­en left,” Mel said. “I planned to heat it up.”
“Right,” I said and start­ed open­ing cup­board doors. “You real­ly want dried out left­overs?”
“I’m test­ing your skills,” he said. “You haven’t dis­ap­point­ed me yet.”
“You’re tak­ing advan­tage of my good nature.” Of course he wasn’t, and he knew it. In my
cus­tom­ary life I was an inno­v­a­tive but often hap­haz­ard cook, how­ev­er, Mel was such an
appre­cia­tive audi­ence. And face it, I did need a break from out­door research now and then.

# # # #

I found a pack­age of ramen noo­dles, a few nuts, a can of mush­rooms, and a half jar of peanut
but­ter. I lined up his spices, decid­ed which bits of veg­gies from the crisper in the bot­tom of the
refrig­er­a­tor were usable, and did my mag­ic.

* * * * *

But before I wrote those words, I exper­i­ment­ed with the food in my refrig­er­a­tor. And, ta da, I came up with this recipe!

Garlic Chicken with Peanut Sauce, Noodles, and Vegetables

Ingre­di­ents
Left­over rotis­serie (bar­be­cue) chick­en
Noo­dles (rice noo­dles, egg noo­dles, ramen noo­dles or any pas­ta of your choice)
Veg­gies (broc­coli flo­rets, onion chunks, car­rots sliced thin, mush­rooms, cel­ery, or any oth­ers of
your choice) Note: You won’t find any pep­pers in Jo’s recipes because she doesn’t like them — but
feel free to use them as well.
Gar­lic — 1 clove minced, or 1/2 tsp of canned chopped or minced (or more if you pre­fer).
Peanut Sauce — see recipe below
Peanuts — unsalt­ed dry-roast­ed — may be chopped

Direc­tions
1. Whisk peanut sauce ingre­di­ents togeth­er.
2. Cut bite-size chunks from left-over bar­be­cue chick­en.
3. Pre­pare veg­gies. (Peel &/or chop. If nec­es­sary, zap in microwave until done to ten­der­ness you
pre­fer.) Note: many veg­gies, espe­cial­ly frozen peas and mush­rooms, may not need extra cook­ing.
4. Break noo­dles into 2 to 4 inch lengths then cook accord­ing to box instruc­tions (rice noo­dles,
egg noo­dles, ramen noo­dles, etc.)
5. Sauté gar­lic in the peanut sauce for 2 or 3 min­utes. Add chick­en and heat for anoth­er 2 or 3
min­utes. Add cooked noo­dles and veg­gies. (Or add veg­gies ear­li­er.) Stir and heat through.
6. Stir peanuts in before serv­ing, or sprin­kle a hand­ful of peanuts on the top after serv­ing.

Peanut Sauce
For 2 peo­ple (use mul­ti­ples for more peo­ple — all mea­sure­ments are approx­i­mate)
Whisk togeth­er
1 TB creamy peanut but­ter
1 tsp hazel­nut oil (or any oil)
1 tsp Worces­ter­shire sauce
3 shakes ground red pep­per
6 twists of pep­per mill
3 shakes onion pow­der
3 shakes ground gin­ger

* * * * *

Yesterday’s Body was first pub­lished by a small e-press and is an EPIC mys­tery final­ist and part of the Jo Durbin Mys­tery Series.