Friday, December 31, 2021

Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022

I'm not sure how today is the last day of 2021. What a year it's been! There have been lots of lows, COVID, anyone, but lots of highs too. I asked some favorite cozy authors what the best thing about 2021 was, any New Year's Eve plans (I'll be in lounge wear relaxing with my cats, in bed well before midnight), and resolutions and goals for 2022. Here's what they said.

From Meg Macy

Kathy: The best thing that happened in 2021...

My granddaughter's birth

Kathy: What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

More reading! Hoping we can go to Hawaii for our anniversary

Kathy: Do you have any New Year's Resolutions? 

Buying lighter dinnerware! Our Pfaltzgraff is getting too heavy

Kathy: Any New Year's Plans?

Playing games, usually, a wine cooler, snacks. I'd prefer being in bed before midnight, but the hub is a night owl. 

Meg Macy
National Bestselling Author of the ShamelesslyAdorable Teddy Bear Cozy Mysteries
Follow on Facebook Twitter Instagram
Subscribe to my newsletter!
Also writing historical mysteries as
D.E. Ireland Meg Mims
~ Witty Mystery, Vivid History ~


From Kathleen Kalb/Nikki Knight

New Year’s Resolution:

Do better at accepting that there are things I can’t control – pandemic, family health issues, rejections – and focus on doing my best with the things I can control.

New Year’s Plans:

My favorite family – and Work Family – holiday is New Year’s Day. I work weekends and holidays so I can be a stay-at-home mom during the week. On New Year’s, I pull one last holiday fill-in shift with the same people I’ve been with for almost 20 years, then come home and have a wonderful dinner with my family. Everyone is relaxed and happy and it’s easily the best day of the season both at work and home!

Kathleen Marple Kalb
Author of the Ella Shane Mysteries: A FATAL FIRST NIGHT out now, A FATAL OVERTURE, 3/29/2022, Kensington Books
As Nikki Knight: Author of LIVE, LOCAL AND DEAD, A Vermont Radio Mystery, 2/8/2022, Crooked Lane Books
"Bad Apples" Honorable Mention, Black Orchid Novella Award 2021 


From Ellen Byron/Maria DiRico

Best thing that happened in 2021?

Pogo, our beloved chihuahua mix rescue, survived a serious injury. He’s 15, so that’s saying something. Also, I was invited to be the 2023 Toastmaster at Left Coast Crime! I’m so excited about this.

Kathy: What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

Professionally, the launch of BAYOU BOOK THIEF, the first book in my Vintage Cookbook Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. Personally, our daughter’s graduation from Loyola University in New Orleans. Although that’s bittersweet. I’ll miss her college days.

Kathy: Do you have any New Year's Resolutions? 


Kathy: Any New Year's Plans?

Good luck getting me out of my jammies on New Year’s Eve! We celebrate twice, once at 9 p.m. PST, when it’s midnight in my hometown of New York. Then at midnight – if we’re still up!

From Nancy Cole Silverman

Kathy: Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?

More walking, less worry and the start of a new series. Book One, THE NAVIGATOR’S DAUGHTER, drop June 7, 2021.

Kathy: Any New Year's Plans?

We’re not big New Year’s Celebrators. We’ll go to dinner early, come home and toast the New Year in quietly.


From Tina Kashian

Kathy: What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
As a mother, my oldest daughter graduates high school. It will be a sad and happy time. I will most likely be the mom sobbing in the bleachers. As a writer, I'm looking forward to the release of "Murder in the Mountains," an anthology with nine mystery authors. My story, "A Killer Pocono Hike," features my Kebab Kitchen amateur sleuths. Lucy Berberian and Katie Watson take a girlfriend trip to the mountains, but murder follows them. 

 Here is a link to the book for a special pre-order price of $0.99.

Kathy: Do you have any New Year's Resolutions? 

Exercise more!

Kathy: Any New Year's Plans? 

We used to go to big parties. Now we get together with close friends for food and wine.


From Victoria Hamilton

Best thing that happened in 2021? 

I had two well received books out in 2021, (DOUBLE OR MUFFIN, Merry Muffin Mysteries #7 & A CALCULATED WHISK, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #10) and I feel so fortunate to be able to do that. That’s pretty special.

But… on a personal note, I started and stuck to an exercise routine, something I’ve never been able to do for longer than a few weeks. I was shaken to the core by the death of a close friend and neighbour in late 2020. He was someone I went to high school with, and one year younger than I am. It shook something loose inside of me; I want to have a long an active life. So I started and stuck to a ‘diet’ and exercise plan (ongoing), lost a little weight, but better, started to feel that exercise is now a part of my life. I’ve become a planking zealot.

Kathy: What are you most looking forward to in 2022

Professionally, I am going to tackle the BIG ONE, the passion project that haunts me day and night, a proposal for a mystery series unlike anything I’ve ever written. I don’t know yet if it will be any good, but I’m going to work on it, then put it out there. 

Kathy: Do you have any New Year's Resolutions?

Kinda/sorta. Christmas of 2020 a friend gave me a 2021 weekly planner. The cover said ‘Make yourself a priority’. Revolutionary thought!

So… on January 4th, 2021 I started exercising and kept it up all damn year, recording what I did almost every day. It has brought some weight loss and better health, but it is also something I am doing just for me, and there aren’t many things I do just for me. I resolve to continue to make me a priority, my health and well being. I resolve to keep working on me, how I can be and do better. I resolve to find a serene place in my mind where I can find peace. Bring on 2022.

Kathy: Any New Year's Plans?

2020/2021 was a couple of crappy years, although I will say 2021, while not great, has been consequential for me. I’ve made some changes. Midnight, New Year’s Eve I’ll be in front of the tube eating Chinese food with the two cats, and watching the two Andys on CNN. I’ll make it to midnight, shout hurrah, and yell “get out of here you stinking lousy 2021”, and hello to a hopeful new year.

2022 has to be better, right? That’s all I’m asking for, is better.


From Jenny Kales

Celebrating the New Year with a Recipe from Callie’s Kitchen

When I started envisioning The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries, one of the things I was most looking forward to was the food. True, this is a cozy mystery series, requiring my amateur sleuth, Calliope “Callie” Costas to find a killer amidst cooking assignments, but she is also a Greek American and a Midwesterner. The food traditions are plentiful, and they say a lot about who Callie is as a person. Yes, she is warm, nurturing and kind, but also ready to think on the fly and use kitchen equipment that just might help her in the face of a killer!

Of course, holiday foods play a role in my series. The following recipe for kreatopita, a special Greek New Year’s “pita” or pie, appears in my Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries Cookbook. Kreatopita is hearty and homey, true comfort food, and especially welcome at this time of year. What makes it special is that a coin is placed in the pie and whoever finds it has good luck for the New Year. This pie is traditionally served on New Year’s Day, and it has many derivations – you can use ground pork, beef, or lamb. I’ve included my family recipe for you below. It’s a delicious tradition that you don’t have to be Greek to enjoy! 

 New Year’s Kreatopita


4 cups finely cut leeks

½ lb. unsalted butter, melted (2 sticks)

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 lbs.’ ground beef or lamb

6 eggs

1 -2 tsp. dried oregano, ¼ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp garlic powder, and ½ tsp dried basil OR 2 tsp. Greek seasoning blend, if you have it

½ cup grated kasseri (hard Greek cheese – available at many well-stocked supermarkets or gourmet grocery shops) or Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

½ lb. phyllo sheets (pastry sheets), thawed if frozen


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready a large baking pan and a sterilized coin. Or, you can wrap your coin in a small amount of aluminum foil. This is also a good way to make the coin stand out so that the diners can see it so that they don’t accidentally eat it.

Sauté the leeks in a small amount of the melted butter until wilted and golden. Set aside to cool. In a large, wide frying pan, sauté meat in olive oil until browned. Set this aside to cool. When both meat and leeks have cooled, stir in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly mixed. Add cheese and mix gently. Add seasonings, plus salt and pepper to taste, and mix thoroughly.

On the bottom of a large baking pan, layer 8 phyllo sheets, one at a time, spreading melted butter generously over each sheet, all the way to the corners. A pastry brush works best. Place your sterilized coin on top of the last baking sheet. Work quickly so that the phyllo doesn’t dry out and cover it up with plastic wrap while you do the next step.

Spread filling evenly over phyllo, then cover the top with 8 more phyllo sheets, spreading melted butter on each sheet, one at a time. With a sharp knife, score into even squares before putting into oven (this makes it easier to cut after baking). If any of the phyllo overhangs your baking pan, carefully trim with kitchen scissors or a sharp knife.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the phyllo looks golden brown.

Note: Warn your guests that there is a coin in this pie, and of course, supervise any young diners so that there are no unhappy surprises. We only want good luck! Chronia Polla! That’s Greek for Happy New Year!

To learn more about my books, visit my Amazon author page: and follow me on Facebook at Jenny Kales Author.


So, mystery fans, what are you looking forward to in 2022?

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Enter a Wizard, Stage Left by Connie Di Marco. This novella is a prequel for her Zodiac Mystery series.

Julia Bonatti is holed up at her Grandmother Gloria's house grieving the sudden and tragic death of her fiancé. In order to bring Julia back to the land of the living, Gloria asks her for help delivering costumes to the theatre. Gloria, a retired seamstress, is in charge of costumes for the new production of Agatha Christie's Appointment with Death. Staying for the dress rehearsal Julia is impressed by the performance, but worried about actions off the set. With nasty diva demeaning everyone and an affair between castmates, this play is courting trouble.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Claret and Present Danger - A Review


The Fourth Literary Pub Mystery

It's summer in Shady Creek, Vermont and business is booming for pub owner Sadie Coleman. Not only have residents taken a shine to her literary themed business, but tourists are coming in droves, especially since a Renaissance Faire and Circus has come to town. Attractive, but arrogant, magician Ozzie Stone is bringing in the crowds, but he's not making his fellow faire folk happy. In the midst of his performance Ozzie collapses. Someone has killed the flirtatious illusionist. When Sadie's bartender is arrested for the murder she knows no matter how busy things are at the Inkwell she'll make time to investigate and lead police to the real killer.  

A Renaissance Faire is the perfect setting for a mystery. Much of the magic and enchantment is just a facade and the truth behind the scenes can me mundane, or even worse. Ugly truths can be hidden and Sadie is bound and determined to uncover them on behalf of her friend and employee. I like how Sadie slowly investigated while keeping things running at her pub.

Sadie is growing and I enjoy seeing her relationship with Grayson develop and blossom. I like the rest of the characters as well and wouldn't mind spending time with them in their quaint Vermont village.

CLARET AND PRESENT DANGER is a smart well crafted mystery that invigorates the mind as it touches the heart.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Boxing Day Recipes

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, or, if you don't celebrate, a wonderful Saturday! Christmas is actually just beginning, remember the 12 days of Christmas are the 12 days AFTER Christmas. It will end on Epiphany, Three Kings Day on January 12...although many Poles celebrate until Candlemas, February 2! In keeping with the holiday I asked some favorite cozy authors to share some favorite holiday recipes.

 From Maureen Klovers

Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Biscotti


Biscotti was the Roman Empire’s version of hard tack—its legions marched to battle with bellies full of biscotti—which is proof positive that Italians do everything better! In modern-day Italy, they are generally referred to as “cantucci”— “biscotti” is a broader, more generic term for a hard cookie or bread.


As the name suggests, biscotti are twice-cooked (“Bis” meant “twice” in latin, and “cotto”—the singular of “cotti”—means “cooked” in modern Italian), and this recipe requires you to do just that. The upside is that you end up with a wonderfully crunchy cookie to dip in your cappuccino or dessert wine, and they will last far longer than your typical chewy American cookie.


Peanut butter and chocolate are not particularly authentic flavorings, but this is one of my favorite recipes and—judging by all of the information I’ve extracted from neighbors I’ve plied with these biscotti—one of Acorn Hollow’s favorite recipes too!


3 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup peanut butter

¼ cup water

2 ¾ cup flour

1 ¾ cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp salt

4 cups dark chocolate chips, divided


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Combine eggs, peanut butter, and water in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Then add dry ingredient mixture to wet ingredients, stirring to fully incorporate. Then stir in one cup of chocolate chips.


Line cookie sheet with buttered parchment paper. Divide dough, which should be sticky and relatively dry for cookie dough, into two halves. Form each half into a log, approximately three inches in width and one-half inch in height, on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with back of spoon.


Bake logs at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Then remove from oven and turn down oven temperature to 300 degrees. Slice logs on the bias (diagonally) into ¾ inch thick slices. Then arrange slices, cut side up, on the cookie sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, flip slices biscotti so that the other side gets toasted and bake another 10 minutes at 300 degrees.


Let biscotti cool on a wire rack. Once biscotti have cooled somewhat, melt 3 cups of chocolate chips in a double boiler, stirring constantly. Then dredge one side of each biscotti in the melted chocolate and return to the wire rack to dry. Let harden overnight.


From Daryl Wood Gerber

My grandmother made these and I’ve made them every year since. My sister does, too, and she lives in Virginia.  I make them gluten-free now. My grandmother used regular flour (not the sweet rice flour, white rice flour, and tapioca starch, and and no xanthan gum.  :)  Enjoy. 

From Ellen Byron

From Nancy Cole Silverman
Carrot pudding. It’s a steamed pudding and an old world favorite.

1 Cup Flour
½ t cinnamon
1/s tsp salt
1 Cup finely grated carrots
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup nuts
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp allspice
1 Cup grated apples
½ C melted butter
1 Cup raisins

Sift flour with spices, salt, and baking soda. Combine w/ other ingredients and mix thoroughly after each. Spoon into a large mold. Steam 3 ½ hours and allow to cool to room temp. Serve with hard sauce.

1 Cup powdered sugar
½ Cup butter melted
1 T Rum or imitation Rum flavoring.
Mix well. Chill til ready to serve. 
From Victoria Hamilton
I know most people think of sweets at Christmas, and I love desserts like sugar cookies, or a pie or cake. But… there is a photo of me as a kid reaching for a handful of Nuts ‘n Bolts. It was the sixties, and Mom made it every year and now I do, too! I love it!

I use a modified recipe from the original. The original recipes uses Cheerios (for the ‘nuts’ part; I always figured in the name ‘Nuts ‘n Bolts’ the pretzel sticks were the ‘bolts’ and Cheerios were the ‘nuts… tho’ maybe the peanuts are the ‘nuts’?), but I like Crispix cereal in my mix instead.

Nut’s ‘n Bolts


4 Cups Cheerios OR mix it up… you can use any mixture of cereals, as long as makes up 4 cups. I’m using Crispix for mine, but you can use Rice Chex or Shreddies.

1 cup peanuts (I like redskins, but can’t usually get them!)

2 Cups pretzel sticks

¼ cup melted butter (or more… I’ll admit, I used a scant half cup.)

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (this is a little weak in flavour for me… I think I’ll double it for my next batch!)

1 tsp paprika (smoked is best)

½ tsp garlic salt (or seasoning salt… I used Herbamare organic seasoned salt, about a teaspoon)


1 – Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit

2 – In ungreased 13 X 9 inch pan mix cereals, pretzels and peanuts. Stir together remaining ingredients, pour over cereal tossing until evenly coated.

3 – Bake 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool; store in airtight container.

When I smell the Nuts ‘n Bolts, I know it’s Christmas. 


Meg Macy loves shortbread and shares this recipe, which is simple:
Tina Kashian provides a link to her Armenian White Holiday cookie recipe which was on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. 


I hope you've enjoyed these recipes. Please share some of yours in the comments below! Happy Boxing Day!