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.

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Friday, November 12, 2021


Award-winning author Nancy J. Cohen writes cozy mysteries, paranormal and fantasy romance, and sci-fi romance. In addition, she’s authored a cookbook tied to her mystery series and a how-to book on writing cozy mysteries. Her Bad Hair Day Mysteries, featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail, currently includes seventeen titles. Learn more about Nancy and her books at her website and blog.

The Case of the Cheesy Hash Browns

Food has always been an essential element in a mystery. Friends meet over coffee or chat about suspects while at lunch. When preparing a meal at home, the sleuth might muse over which suspect is more likely to be the killer. Her occupation might also involve food if she’s a caterer, bakery owner, cafĂ© proprietor, or cupcake maven. Every food encounter is an opportunity to deepen the story and give the characters added depth.


Everyone has a creative talent, and in my hairstylist sleuth’s case, she likes to cook, same as me. I don’t have the patience or ability for handicrafts or doing puzzles or creating works of art, but I like to experiment in the kitchen. So does my sleuth Marla Vail. However, she has little time to spend over the stove these days. She has a baby, owns a hair salon, and is married to a police detective. Her life is full enough without adding meal preparation amid her crime solving exploits. 


In my latest release, Styled for Murder, Marla whips up breakfast for her in-laws before they leave on an excursion. Both of these hash brown recipes are easy to put together once you have the ingredients on hand. The cheesy casserole is a lovely accompaniment to a quiche or other egg dish for brunch. You could also pair it with a breakfast meat of choice and some sliced tomatoes. As for the potato zucchini mash, that’s a meal in itself. Both of these dishes reheat well as leftovers.


Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole



15 oz. can cream of celery soup

1 cup reduced fat sour cream

1 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

30 oz. package frozen hash brown potatoes

2 cups reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine soup, sour cream, flour, and garlic powder. Stir in potatoes and cheddar cheese. Pour into a greased 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and paprika on top. Bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serves 6 to 8.


Potato Zucchini Mash 



30 oz. package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes

10 oz. package matchstick carrots

3 large zucchini, peeled and shredded

5 eggs

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup fresh chopped onions

2 Tbsp. chopped garlic

3 Tbsp. egg substitute


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, and zucchini. In a separate small bowl, beat the eggs. Add mayonnaise and onions. Stir egg mixture into potatoes. Add chopped garlic and egg substitute. Blend until moist. Transfer into greased 9x13x2 inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until edges are browned. Serves 6 to 8.


Note: These recipes appear in A Bad Hair Day Cookbook © 2019 by Nancy J. Cohen


Styled for Murder

A Bad Hair Day Mystery, Book 17


When hairstylist and savvy sleuth, Marla Vail, gets a frantic call from her mother that there’s a dead body in her shower, Marla realizes this wasn’t part of the home renovation plans. The victim turns out to be the project manager, who had an untrustworthy reputation in town. Disgruntled customers, unpaid suppliers, and the design company’s staff are among the suspects, but Marla is more concerned about her stepfather’s connection to the victim. Can she flush out the clues and nail the killer before he strikes again? Recipes Included!


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Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thanks for having me here, Lois!

Lois Winston said...

Always a pleasure, Nancy!