I just wanted to let you know that Midnight in Christmas River (A Christmas Cozy Mystery, Book 11) is now available for pre-order! This is a lighthearted, Halloween-themed mystery that's as cozy as a mug of cider on a crisp fall day. It officially comes out on Oct. 26 (just in time for Halloween weekend!) and you can pre-order it on Amazon today.
I view this latest mystery as a fun, seasonal intermission before we get into the much more intense mystery featured in Mistake in Christmas River (Book 12), which is coming out this holiday season. For those of you waiting on the cliffhanger at the end of Book 10 to be addressed, you will find that and much more in Mistake in Christmas River this holiday season! Here's the description of Midnight in Christmas River: It's October in Christmas River, and things in the central Oregon town are becoming downright bone-chilling.
When famed horror author Ashcroft Black takes up residence at an old hunting cabin rumored to be haunted, pie baker extraordinaire Cinnamon Peters and the rest of the small town are thrilled to have a bona-fide celebrity in their midst.
But when the characters of Ashcroft's horror novels literally start leaping to life in Christmas River, Cinnamon finds herself pulled into a perplexing mystery involving betrayal, crime, and a scandalous secret someone's willing to kill over.
Can Cin figure out the mystery and free the town of Ashcroft's horror for good? Or will she instead discover that fact is truly more horrifying than fiction?
Midnight in Christmas River is a Halloween-themed standalone Christmas River mystery. It's full of mischievous fun and heartwarming moments, and even features recipes from Cinnamon's own Halloween party menu!
Look for MISTAKE IN CHRISTMAS RIVER (Book 12) on digital shelves this fall!!
Just wanted to let you guys know that I've got a new novella coming out this week! Crushed in Christmas River (A Christmas Cozy Mystery Novella) is available as a pre-order on Amazon and will officially come out Friday September 21st. In the meantime, I just wanted to share this delicious early-fall recipe. It's one of my very favorite weekend dinners and I can't think of a more cozy meal!
Roasted Port Chicken with Plums & Rosemary Sweet Potatoes
(based on a recipe in "Kathy Casey's Northwest Table.")
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons of olive oil
10 to 12 plums, cored and quartered.
2 shallots, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lemon, sliced
1 cup port
Parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the spices and salt in a small bowl. Lay the chicken on a baking sheet and sprinkle each piece on both sides with the spice mixture.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Saute the chicken for about three minutes on each side until the skin is golden brown (you will probably need to do this in two batches.) Place the browned pieces skin-side up in a 9 by 13 roasting pan.
Saute the shallots for about a minute in the leftover oil of the pan. Add the plums, garlic, and lemon and saute for an additional minute. Add the port, and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring just to a boil, then take off heat and add the mixture (with everything) to the roasting pan of chicken.
Roast the chicken for about 40 to 45 minutes until nicely browned on outside and thoroughly cooked on the inside. Remove from oven, transfer chicken to a platter along with the plums, shallots, garlic and lemon slices (use a slotted spoon to retrieve these.) Pour the remaining liquid in the roasting pan into a sauce pan and cook over high heat until the sauce is reduced to about ¾ of a cup. Adjust for seasoning if need be and drizzle the sauce over the chicken. Scatter parsley leaves over the chicken and serve.
Serve with roasted sweet potato side dish (recipe follows).
Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes
2 lbs of sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons of rosemary, chopped
4 tablespoons of olive oil
½ tsp of salt plus more to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into ½ inch pieces. Toss with olive oil, chopped rosemary, and salt in a baking dish until the potato pieces are well-coated. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are just beginning to blacken. Remove from heat, season with additional salt to taste, and serve with chicken (this can bake simultaneously with the chicken.)
I'm excited to announce that a new collection of Christmas River Cozy Mystery novellas will be available this upcoming Monday on July 9! Caught in Christmas River comes in at nearly 40,000 words (close to a full-length book) and features two novellas that were originally published on my Cozy Lodge Patreon Page (so if you are a Cozy Lodge member, you already have these stories and all bonus material, so no need to purchase this collection twice!) Here's the description of this wonderfully fun summer-inspired collection which also features two bonus recipes, a bonus short story and... a very special sneak peek at a chapter from the upcoming full-length book, Mistake in Christmas River (Book 11)!
Caught in Christmas River: A Christmas Cozy Mystery Novella
Two summertime whodunits perfect for the easy breezy carefree days of summer. Featuring:
Mystery at Agate Inn A romantic vacation to a cozy inn on the Oregon Coast turns deadly for Cinnamon and Daniel when one of the other guests takes a tumble off the side of a cliff. But was it really an accident? Or was there something more sinister to the incident? Cin and Daniel play detective in this delightful seaside whodunit! Featuring Cin and Daniel on vacation for the very first time! Warren & The Sparks Lake Mystery It's 1951 in Christmas River and Warren Peters has had a tough week. He's failing English class, the girl he's secretly in love with doesn't even know he exists, and his after school job at the Sparks Lake General Store has been slow and boring. But when a serious crime takes place in Christmas River and it hits a little too close to home, Warren finds himself pulled into a perplexing mystery that will take all his wit and intelligence to get out of alive.
A heartwarming coming of age tale based on one of the most beloved characters from the Christmas River Cozy Mystery Series... So grab your sunscreen, beach bag, and Kindle, and cozy up with this summery Christmas River mystery collection!
Thanks so much, readers! Look for this novella collection on Amazon Monday!
I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter! I wanted to let you know that I just launched a page on Patreon, where I’ll be publishing stories every month from Christmas River and my other series!
If you haven’t heard of Patreon, it’s a website/platform where people are able to support their favorite creators for a small monthly fee, and in return, they get extra content and behind-the-scenes access they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. Recently, many authors have joined this site to better keep in touch with their readers and to offer bonus stories and excerpts from upcoming books. I decided to start up my own page where every month, I’ll be publishing a new short cozy mystery (most will come from the world of Christmas River) along with an original recipe to go along with it. I really view it as a short story subscription and have built my page with that in mind.
You can join my PAGE (called Meg's Cozy Lodge) today for as little as $1 a month and get access to these new cozy mystery stories. There are also higher tiers, where you get more extras, like cozy artwork made by me, additional stories, and book excerpts from upcoming books.
Also, if you join and then decide at anytime that you’d like to unsubscribe, you can without any further obligations.
And just so you know, this will not affect my regular cozy mystery novel publishing schedule. Mistake in Christmas River: Book 11 is still coming out in late spring. This Patreon page is really just a fun cozy side for readers who are looking for more uplifting, feel-good stories.
There’s plenty of information about it on my page and I hope that you’ll take a look! This is a great way to get more Christmas River in between books. And personally, I really can’t wait to share these new short stories with you guys!
If you came here by way of my newsletter, then you know the story behind this pie. But if you didn't, let’s just say that since I’ve been baking pies, I’ve had trouble when it comes to making a basic cherry pie. I can’t explain why, but every time I make it, something goes wrong. But I’m happy to report that a few weeks ago I finally, finally broke the curse and made an amazing cherry pie. So in honor of Pi Day, I thought that I would share it here.
I hope you enjoy!
Magic Cherry Pie
(This recipe makes enough for a double crust pie, but you can halve it if you plan to use the crumble topping recipe (see below) instead -- which I highly recommend!)
2 ½ cups flour (plus more for rolling)
3/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
8 tbsp Crisco vegetable shortening
½ cup of ice water
Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter and vegetable shortening with a pastry cutter until mixture is pebbly (avoid touching the dough with hands as much as possible so that the butter doesn’t melt.) Add ice water, and combine into two dough rounds. If it's too crumbly, add a little more water. Wrap rounds in plastic and place in freezer for at least an hour.
Remove rounds (or a single round if you plan to make the crumble topping) and roll out into a flat disk on a floured surface. Transfer to a pie dish, and press the dough along the edges with the back of a fork. Puncture dough with fork several times (so it can breathe during cooking) then let pie dish chill in the freezer again for about 15 minutes. (I have found that the often times, the freezer is the secret ingredient to getting the perfect pie crust!)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove pie dish from freezer and place on a baking sheet. Let sit for five minutes at room temperature, then bake the crust for 10 minutes in the oven. (This is to ensure that the bottom crust doesn’t get soggy when the filling is added.)
1 ½ pounds of dark cherries, frozen, pitted
¾ cup to 1 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet the fruit is)
½ tsp of cinnamon (of course!)
⅓ tsp of salt
Juice from half a lemon
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
Chop cherries into quarters (I find that frozen cherries you find in the grocery store freezer section can be giant, and this makes it so there aren’t big gobs in your pie. Cutting them up also makes it so you can inspect the frozen cherries for pits. Even though the bags of frozen cherries say they’re pitted, I have occasionally come across pits in these bags, so this is a good way to make sure nothing bad ends up in your pie!) Add sugar, cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, flour, and cornstarch to cherries. Mix well, and taste. Add more sugar or more lemon depending on the sweet/sour ratio. Place bowl of mixture in the freezer while you prepare the crumble topping so that it doesn’t melt and get soupy.
(Optional -- you could use the second dough round to roll out a top-crust if you like and it will still be delicious, but this crumble topping is super decadent and tasty!)
½ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup flour
1 ½ cups of oats
8 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Add all ingredients together in a medium bowl, cutting the butter in with a fork or your hands until the mixture becomes pebbly.
Remove cherry filling from freezer and place in the blind baked pie dish crust. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the filling.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 40 minutes or so, checking occasionally.
Remove from oven when crumble topping is golden and bubbly. Let cool for several hours. Serve with whipped cream and enjoy!
This pie is messy. The buttery crust slumps down when cooking. The edges are prone to burning. And basically, when it gets on the plate, it isn't exactly the thing that will impress your friends and neighbors.
Until they taste it, that is.
This pie packs a wallop of hazelnut flavor, is absolutely delicious, and is easy to make. And while the crust tends to be a little tricky to work with, you won't mind once you start eating it.
It's not the prettiest pie in the world, but there's more to life than looks :)
Chocolate Hazelnut Pie
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup of flour
Toast hazelnuts in frying pan over medium heat until they start browning and becoming fragrant -- about 5 minutes (this part is important because the hazelnuts that come in the pre-packaged baking aisle usually aren't very flavorful unless toasted.) Be sure to keep a close eye on them because they can burn easily.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Soften butter in microwave (be sure not to melt completely). In a medium bowl, mix butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add flour until just mixed, then add the hazelnuts. Combine until you can bring mixture together into a ball. Press dough into a tart pan or shallow pie dish and form a crust. Place crust in freezer for about 20 minutes. Let it sit for 5 minutes at room temperature, then bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, covering the edges with foil if need be. The crust will be ready when it has a nice toasty shade to it. When done, let cool for half an hour.
1 13-oz jar of Nutella (or any hazelnut chocolate spread)
1 8-oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
5 oz of Cool Whip (about 3/4 of tub), thawed
Spread about 1/3 cup of Nutella on pre-baked crust bottom. With a mixer, blend the remaining Nutella with the cream cheese. When well-combined, add in Cool Whip. Mix until blended, then pour filling into crust. Cover and chill in the fridge for about 2-3 hours. Serve with scoops of remaining Cool Whip. Enjoy!