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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


USA Today and New York Times, best-selling author Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi River where her imagination tends to wander. Learn more about Lynn and her books at her website. 

From ala peanut butter sandwich to easy risotto, in one lifetime
Working a full time job and trying to be an author can limit the time you have for other activities in your life. Like cooking dinner. What’s a girl to do? My husband, the cowboy, is good with an occasional meal of Hamburger Helper. (Don’t laugh, it can be dinner in a pinch.) But I get bored with just the meat and potatoes route.

I always shied away from the fancier recipes. Or what I considered fancy. I come from a lower-socio-economic family. Heck, we were poor. Living on a farm, we always had food. Even if it was the mystery meat my mom liked to mix into the spaghetti or meatloaf. Seriously, elk, deer, and bear meat do not taste like beef. Even with a package of dry spaghetti mix to mask the flavors. I could always tell we were having mystery meat by the way she watched me take that first bite.

I ate a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches growing up.

So fast forward, to grown up Lynn. I’ve become a bit of a food snob. Not to the Julia Child level. I couldn’t even stomach making an aspic. But I do love trying recipes and finding new ways to make old favorites. My only challenge is finding the time to cook. I’m sure many readers can relate. With kids to run to practice, or community obligations, it’s hard to find time to play in the kitchen.

Watching several seasons of Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen, I became obsessed with risotto. I poured over online recipe blogs reading different versions and wondering. Would it turn out? Would I like the taste when it did? I made soufflés once.  Neither I nor the hubby were impressed. On the other hand, I spent a year obsessed with a cheesy grits and sausage recipe I’d found and made my own.

One weekend night, I decided to experiment. When the risotto was done, one taste and I was in love. Since that time, I probably make my version of risotto once a week, especially when I have too many veggies in the fridge.
Quick and Easy Risotto

3-4 cups chicken stock (If you have a day job, like I do, as soon as you get home, put a pot of chicken stock on the stove to warm. If you don’t have homemade chicken stock, boil water and add 3-4 bouillon cubes to make a stock.)

Chop assorted veggies – mushrooms, onions or green onions, asparagus (I usually do the onions pretty fine, but the others can be course chopped or sliced.)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 cups Arborio rice

fresh spinach (optional)

Heat a large skillet and when warm, add a touch of olive oil. Sauté the onion and mushrooms until the onion wilts, but doesn’t brown. Then add rice to the skillet. Keep stirring as the rice browns (think Ricearoni) for a minute or two. Then add a ladle or two of the chicken stock. Stir to mix.  Add Asparagus.

Let risotto cook as you prepare your choice of meat for dinner. (Or add a can of chopped clams later on, and this can be a complete meal.) Continue to stir, adding stock when rice appears dry. When the stock is all added, and the rice is creamy, you’re done.  Takes about 30 minutes total.

If you want a veggie boost, add a handful or two of spinach leaves with your last bit of chicken stock. The leaves will wilt into the risotto and give you a nice color and extra nutrients.

Mission to Murder
In the California coastal town of South Cove, history is one of its many tourist attractions—until it becomes deadly…

Jill Gardner, proprietor of Coffee, Books, and More, has discovered that the old stone wall on her property might be a centuries-old mission worthy of being declared a landmark. But Craig Morgan, the obnoxious owner of South Cove’s most popular tourist spot, The Castle, makes it his business to contest her claim. When Morgan is found murdered at The Castle shortly after a heated argument with Jill, even her detective boyfriend has to ask her for an alibi. Jill decides she must find the real murderer to clear her name. But when the killer comes for her, she’ll need to jump from historic preservation to self-preservation …

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Lynn Cahoon said...

Thanks for letting me take over your column Cloris....

Angela Adams said...

Thanks, Lynn, for the recipe. Best wishes with your new book!

Kathleen Kaska said...

Hi Lynn,

This recipe does look easy. I'll give it a try, but I won't give up my peanut butter sandwiches. Congratulations on the released of your new mystery. I love the cover!

M. S. Spencer said...

I'm not a big fan of rice, but I LOVE the sound of your story and the cover. M. S.

Lynn Cahoon said...

Hi Angela! According to a rerun of Top Chef, my risotto wouldn't make the grade - too many toppings. But it's yummy! Thanks for commenting.

Lynn Cahoon said...

Hi Kathleen - I still love my pb sandwiches... especially when I'm too busy writing to cook. :)