featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Mystery author Alice Loweecey is a former nun who went from the convent to playing prostitutes on stage to accepting her husband’s marriage proposal on the second date. Her teenage sons clamor for dramatic roles in her next book, but she keeps threatening them with Redshirt cameos. Force of Habit is her first book in her Falcone and Driscoll Investigation series. The second, Back in the Habit, is already available for preorder at Amazon, and arrives in stores on Feb. 8, 2012. Learn more about Alice and her books at her website.

Alice has generously offered copies of Force of Habit to two lucky readers who post comments this week.
-- AP

Italian women + food = Enough to feed an army. It’s not a clichĂ© if it’s true, right? I come from a long line of Italian women who bring new meaning to the words, “Eat! There’s plenty more!”

I also write a mystery series starring Giulia Falcone, ex-nun, private investigator at Driscoll Investigations, and Italian woman who cooks. In the convent, Giulia had no problem cooking for a dozen nuns. Now that she’s on her own, she’s had to learn how to cook small.

The thing is, cooking is one way we show our families how much we love them. My maternal grandmother used to make homemade manicotti for Christmas. My mother has a way with chicken cutlets. My paternal grandmother taught me how to make sausage bread. And of course we all make sauce.

Like Giulia, I grow my own tomatoes, garlic, and herbs for my cooking. Giulia’s on-again, off-again romance with her boss (Frank Driscoll of Driscoll Investigations) doesn’t lend itself to cozy suppers over spaghetti and garlic bread. Because (she says) making a scratch meal for a man is a sign that the relationship is intimate. I agree. One of the first gifts I presented to my future husband was homemade chocolate chip cookies.

In my first book, Force of Habit, Giulia and Frank had just begun a tentative romance. In my second, Back in the Habit, Giulia goes undercover in her old convent, and Frank has trouble seeing the Giulia he knows under the habit and veil. But she pushes this potential issue to the back burner as she goes back behind the wall and finds power-mongering, suicide, drugs, and lousy institutional food. (In the interest of fairness, I will say that I encountered no drugs or suicides during my years in the convent.)

But lousy institutional food? Plenty of it. Fake eggs in particular are a crime against humanity. Thus Giulia, now that she’s out in the world again, makes it a point to cook real food that people want to eat, despite her tight budget. People angle for weeks to be the recipient of one of her home-baked or home-canned Christmas gifts.

Back in the Habit won’t feature any of Giulia’s cooking, just longing for food that doesn’t taste like cardboard. And intrigue, backstabbing, catfights, and gratuitous pawing of lacy underwear. (This isn’t your great-grandmother’s convent!)

But in the spirit of all Italian women everywhere, here’s one of Giulia’s family recipes. She—and I—hope you enjoy it:

Sausage Bread

Oven 375o
45 minutes

1 lb pizza dough
1 lb cooked, crumbled sausage
2 C shredded mozzarella

Divide dough in half. Roll the first half in a rectangle with a rolling pin. Sprinkle half the sausage over the dough, then sprinkle half the cheese over the sausage. Roll up like a jelly roll; seal. Repeat for second half of dough.  Bake till nicely browned, 35-45 minutes. (The "tap on the bottom for the hollow sound" test does not work for this.)

Thanks, Alice. Sounds yummy! What do you think, readers? Post a comment to enter the drawing for one of two copies of Force of Habit. Include your email address or check back on Sunday to see if you’re the winner. -- AP


Dru said...

I love simple recipes and this one sounds delicious.

Looking forward to reading Back in the Habit.

Janel said...

Sounds like a great series! I love the idea of a food obsessed, former nun. I'm sure my family would love this recipe too. Thanks for sharing!

Cassy Pickard said...

What fun! The combination of changes in habit plus the Italian bent is great. My works all take place in Italy, so that has a huge ring with me. I am definitely ordering a copy now--unless of course I win one here. Again, great post. Thanks for being here.
Best, Cassy Pollack (yes, it's true) Pickard

Fran Stewart said...

This sounds like the sort of recipe a non-cook (that means me) could enjoy. Bet I'll enjoy your book, too.

traveler said...

What a wonderful series with food from Italy. My favorite combination and setting. best wishes.

petite said...

This unique post sounds appealing and the recipes are an extra dimension. Anything with Italian content is always lovely.

Elizabeth said...

I've already read and enjoyed the first book FORCE OF HABIT. I love the covers. I am going to put in library request for the 2nd book...is it also Midnight Ink?

Barbara D. said...

It sounds like you've had a very interesting life, Alice. I'll bet you gave your parents a lot of gray hairs, lol. I've enjoyed several mystery series with a food angle. I also enjoyed Lee Harris' series featuring a former nun. Thanks for introducing me to your series. I look forward to reading it :)

Jane R said...

What an easy recipe! Just what I like. And maybe use pizza sauce for dipping? The series sounds great and I've already added it to my book list.

Kathleen Ernst said...

I look forward to the new book!

Patricia said...

I must admit (cliche' alert) that I'd love to read your books simply because you were a nun and I grew up in the Catholic world of grammar and high schools. And the majority of the nuns were so mean, I was glad to be out of there at 18! Don't take that personally, none of them were you, but all of us girls were so intrigued by the culture behind the habit. When I was young we didn't even know whether nuns went to the bathroom. They were put on such a pedestal that they weren't real human beings like the rest of us. I laugh now, but it's sort of whacked when you think about it.

Alice Loweecey said...

Dashing in on my lunch hour--thanks for the comments, everyone! I'm glad Giulia's adventures appeal to so many people! Now I'm thinking I should somehow work a recipe into the next book.

Patricia--nuns definitely go to the bathroom--but managing yards of full-lentgh skirts is no fun. You could never "wait till the last minute."

I never wore the older habit with the blinders, but when I was a novice we had to starch the 3-foot linen veils that went under the black veil. We made old-fashioned cooked starch on an antiquated stove at 5 am. To this day I'm amazed that we never had a cooking accident.

I'll be back after work to answer more questions!

The Cat From Hell said...

A murder mystry with food! Nothing could be more exciting and readable. Me thinks that Sausage bread would be nice for supper!

Theresa said...

Can hardly wait to read your books. Having lived in a convent during my teenage years, I'm sure your books will brings a smile to my face. God luck and thanks for the receipe.

Liz V. said...

Great recipe and interesting books.Good combination.

Vonnie Hughes said...

Alice - what an interesting life you've led. Using the premise of "write what you know" you are certainly fulfilling that idea. I will be honest and say I hadn't heard about your writing prior to this. Now I shall hunt you down! Your nun-sleuth reminds me a little of the ex-priest in the English TV show "Lewis." He is a complex, enigmatic, tortured, highly intelligent young man.

Your recipe? Oh yeah. I live in Australia where we have many, many Italian immigrants and cooking looms large on their horizons. Had two trips to Italy in the past three years and I swear that after the Roman architecture, we only went for the food!

Alice Loweecey said...

Thanks again, everyone, for the comments! I learned Italian cooking from two generations of Italian women who were all excellent cooks.

I'm glad Giulia's stories sound interesting--I promise they're not what you might expect.

Camille Minichino said...

We'll have to do lunch, Alice!

I was in the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for 18 years (and have been an Italian for many more!). When you mentioned "blinders," I thought that might have been your order also.

When the day came that we were allowed to drive, we had to have new bonnets, with a hinge/snap arrangement to give us peripheral vision!

Thanks for sharing . . . I look forward to your books.

Diana Orgain said...

I think I HAVE to read this series! Sounds great!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the starts of a delightful series! Good luck!

RJ said...

I was raised in Catholic schools and lifestyle. I can't think of a better amateur sleuth than a nun. Your protagonist sounds intriguing with lots of potential for a great read and delicious recipes!