Monday, July 24, 2017


As you know, I write culinary mysteries. I am shopping around book two in my “Dinner is Served” series, Prime Rib and Punishment. I call them “murders with taste.”

My protagonist, Alli Wesson, is a screw-up. Or she was until she and her childhood friend, Gina Smithson, started their personal chef business. With a regular income and being her own boss, it appears early-30s Alli is finally getting it together. Well, unless there’s a murder that impinges on her life. Following trails of clues means that she sometimes makes impulsive and erratic choices. Police officer boyfriend, Evan, worries about that. A lot. And so does everyone around her.

Prime Rib and Punishment finds Alli and Gina teaching at the new Culinary Arts School-Glendale (Arizona) even though the Executive Chef hates “amateur cooks.” Add in a diet scam operation and a guy with a mafia connection, and things become . . . complicated. Murder is part of the complication.

Nevertheless, Alli and Gina are gifted cooks and they’d like to share a few recipes from this book with you. When the book is published, get your two-fer—mystery plus cookbook. Enjoy these for now!

Roast Beef Roll-ups (makes one roll-up)
Makes a great lunch when traveling. Alli uses a whole block of cream cheese to make 4 roll-ups in an assembly line.

2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 whole wheat flour tortilla
3 extra-thin slices of roast beef
1 string cheese stick
10 pieces of baby spinach

Mix together cream cheese and horseradish. Spread evenly over tortilla. Press meat slices onto tortilla, covering as much of the tortilla as possible, overlapping the meat where necessary. Add spinach the same way. Lay a cheese stick along one edge then roll into a cylinder. Seal the cylinder with a small bit of cream cheese mixture to hold it together. Roll up in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

Orange Marmalade Pork Tenderloin (serves 8-10)
This is a special dinner for company. The leftover pork makes great sliders for lunch with a dollop of the marinade and Dijon mustard.

pork tenderloin package (two slender ones, not the whole tenderloin)
jar orange marmalade
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 clove garlic, sliced thin
4 green onions, diced
4 tablespoons white wine, divided

Put orange marmalade, all of the garlic, green onions, and 2 T wine in a zipper bag and mush around to mix.

Add the two pork tenderloin pieces. Let marinate for at least three hours, turning a few times to distribute the marinade.

Take pork out of bag and put on grill.

Drain marinade into saucepan, reserving 2 tablespoons to brush on meat as it cooks.

Grill for 1-20 minutes, turning once. Let meat rest before slicing into medallions.

Heat remaining marinade to a boil. Add reserved 2 tablespoons wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Put in gravy boat to serve alongside meat.

Cinnamon-Nutella Brownie Bites (makes 12 mini brownies)
Here is another of Gina’s calorie-controlled desserts without sacrificing taste. Small portions mean you can enjoy big flavor. The cinnamon adds an interesting flavor layer.

½ cup Nutella                                   ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
1 large egg                                       ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon oil                                   ½ cup chopped nuts
5 tablespoons flour

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup mini-muffin pan with paper or foil liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Put the Nutella, egg, and oil in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and well blended. Add the flour and whisk until blended. Add chocolate chips and cinnamon.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin (about 3/4 full) and sprinkle with the chopped nuts.

Bake until a toothpick comes out with wet, gooey crumbs, 11 to 12 minutes (longer for a chewier brownie).

Set on a rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or cover and store at room temperature for up to 3 days. Sometimes Alli sprinkles on powdered sugar to make them prettier.

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