The Gift

A Christmas gift.
There’s a story.
Early this summer, my client and I met to discuss how to approach the remainder of the year. He owns three restaurants. Once we finished business, he asked me about my latest book. Wanted to know who gets killed off in this one (to be fair, there’s not always a death in my books…)
I explain the plot is about a cookbook author who is implicated in the murder of a local restaurant owner.
My client: 👀
My client: Is there something you want to tell me?
Me: Honestly, it’s a celebrity chef/restaurant owner. Totally obnoxious. No one likes him.
My client: uh-huh
So imagine my delight when I opened my gift from him today. I laughed all the way home.

Holiday Desserts: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake


The recipe can be found here. 

I wasn’t in the mood to chop cranberries or drag the food processor out, so I left them whole. I think I prefer it that way.

Also, I bought a bag of White Lily Unbleached Self Rising Flour, 5-lb bag a while ago to use in biscuits (reasons why and recipe here) and decided since this is basically a biscuit cake, I’d try it this time around for this recipe. It was a game changer. Especially at altitude, it’s so difficult not to end up having a heavy (yet yummy) cake like this.

It’s probably not a necessity at sea level, but up here, it was worth the expense (and yes, it is expensive to order a bag of flour, LOL).  The flour makes authentic southern biscuits that I can’t replicate with regular unbleached flours (even King Arthur).  I should probably do a post on how using the White Lily flour came to my attention. That’s for another day when my kitchen doesn’t look like it qualifies for FEMA assistance and the dogs need walks.

This recipe is for sure going to end up in either the Halloween or Christmas Duxbridge Mysteries Novellas.

until then…

Feeling Nostalgic

My mom always had a bowl of nuts in their shells on the table during the holidays. This year, I was feeling a bit nostalgic and decided to continue the tradition. Got home and wondered if I even had a nutcracker. Lo and behold, I did! A Christmas miracle.

Tis The Season

Crazy one-year-old kitten ☑️
Crazy one-year-old Great Dane ☑️
Bull-in-a-China-shop rescue Dane ☑️

Oh, well. I’ll give it a shot anyway

It’s Snowing So Time For Soup

This year for my Dad’s Christmas present, I’m including a dozen+ frozen dinners. Chili, beef stew, pot roast, and tonight’s installment:

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

  • 1 lb ground beef*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 oz carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 15 oz can red kidney beans
  • 15 oz can white northern beans
  • 16 oz chicken broth*
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ¼ to ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 small bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • 8 oz ditali or small shell pasta

large saucepan or dutch oven

In saucepan, brown beef, add spices and mix in well with meat, add onion, carrots, celery and garlic, and sauté 3-5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) and let simmer 30 minutes on a medium, stirring frequently.  Add pasta to soup, simmer on low for additional 10 minutes, until pasta is al dente.

*if you want to keep it vegetarian, substitute a meaty mushroom for the ground beef (saute with broth or butter) and vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

If you think this is similar to one of the Olive Garden’s soups, it is. It’s also fairly easy to put together and hearty on a cold November night.