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, August 7, 2018

#COOKING WITH CLORIS--AUTHOR ELAINE L. ORR BAKES M&M COOKIES

Elaine L. Orr writes three mystery series and what she calls reflective fiction. She loves to eat more than cook. Learn more about her at website. 

Mystery Meals
Food weaves through the fabric of our lives, not simply because we need it to live. We talk to each other as we eat. Sometimes we do business, sometimes have fun. In the U.S. Thanksgiving is the holiday all of us celebrate.

Each year when I publicize our upcoming family reunion, the first picture I highlight is the table of goodies we shared the year before. Worth driving a thousand miles to sample.

Writers use food to draw us in. Dame Agatha Christie, the master of traditional mysteries, describes her characters' food a lot -- sometimes using it to poison victims. Robert Parker's Spencer novels often make my mouth water.

Especially over the last decade, a number of mystery authors have sleuths working in or around businesses that serve coffee, baked goods, or -- to combine the two -- breakfast in a B&B. In my Jolie Gentil novels, Aunt Madge is known for the baked goods she serves at her B&B, though sleuth Jolie is more like her author -- known more for what she burns than bakes.

Thankfully, my friend and fellow author Leigh Michaels is a superb cook and agreed to provide muffin recipes for Trouble on the Doorstep. I wouldn't want to embarrass Aunt Madge with one of my attempts. I've made Leigh's yummy muffins several times.

 For The Unexpected Resolution, a recent Jolie Gentil book, I decided to create an M&M cookie recipe, similar to chocolate chips. How can anyone go wrong baking with M&Ms? Turns out I did for the first batch, but a couple alterations yielded decent cookies.

One of my writing friends, Karen Musser Nortman, includes recipes in her Frannie Shoemaker campground mysteries. She had such positive reactions that she wrote Happy Camper Tips and Recipes. Karen is a good example of putting hobbies to work in her books.

Recipe sharing is popular well beyond books -- just look at Pinterest. Mysteries may not be the first place a cook looks to find a new meal plan, but why not give them that option?  They may come back to look for more.

Terry’s M&M Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 – 1 cup M&Ms
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugar together with large spoon or mixer.

Add egg and vanilla until blended.

Blend in dry ingredients.

Using a spoon, fold in M&Ms.

Using a large cookie scoop, drop dough 2-inches apart onto cookie sheet.

Bake 12 minutes if using light-colored cookie sheet, 10-11 minutes if using dark-colored cookie sheet. Cookies should spring to the touch. If a finger leaves a mark or indentation, bake another minute or two. Allow cookies to set for a minute or two, then remove to cooling rack.

The Unexpected Resolution
A Jolie Gentil Mystery, Book 10

A midnight wedding, Army veterans who face repercussions of two different wars, and a very startling wedding guest. Wedding days are special, but they don't usually pack as big a surprise as Jolie and Scoobie's New Year's Eve nuptials. Scoobie never knew much about his family -- and after the way he grew up, who could blame him for liking it that way? A 9-1-1 call during the wedding changes everything. Suddenly Jolie has to help Scoobie figure out what he wants to know, and determine who seems to want someone in his family dead. Knowing more about Scoobie's past could change their future together. But a special wedding arrival may cause even more complications. Book 10 in the Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series brings together the close-knit group of friends and zany Ocean Alley townspeople for a very special event. You don't want to miss it!

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