“Cozy Food Friday,” Wisconsin Supper Clubs and an Upcoming Online Event!

cozy food friday graphicHappy Friday, everybody! I’ m really excited to be featured on Lisa K’s Book Reviews today — her Cozy Food Friday feature is one of my favorites! On her blog, I talk about the wonderful world of Wisconsin supper clubs and include two yummy recipes for Wisconsin Club Cheese Spread and a Brandy Old-Fashioned Cocktail. I include a Wisconsin Supper Club scene in my book, SPICED AND ICED. Here’s the link to check out my post! Be sure to comment and let Lisa know you stopped by!

 

Facebook party with author Linda Reilly and me: My friend and fellow culinary cozy mysteryI party on Facebook author Linda Reilly and I are hosting an online Facebook party on April 13th! Please mark your calendars! Linda is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors. She’s the creator of the “Deep Fried Mysteries” about a charming New England fish and chips shop: Out of the Frying Pan, Fillet of Murder and the soon-to-be-released A Frying Shame. She’s also the author of the upcoming Blue Cat Mysteries. In other words, Linda is a busy author and I’m thrilled she is taking the time to host this party with me! It’s going to be a fun time with giveaways, games, ask the author and much more.

We’re planning on 7-9 EST but it that changes, I’ll let you know. Linda and I will be sharing a lot more information soon, so check our Facebook pages and this blog to keep updated! Also, I hope you’re on my email list — I’ll have full details going out in an upcoming newsletter. You can sign up for it by clicking here, or visit the landing page of this website for a link.

PAPERBACK NEWS: I am thrilled to say that paperback versions of my Callie’s Kitchen series will soon be available. They are in final proofs, so stay tuned for the official release.

It’s Spring Break for my kids next week and this year we’re staying put, but I still have some good stuff planned with the family and some outings with my husband. I’m looking forward to a little bit more of an open schedule so I can tackle some more chapters in Book 3 of The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries. It’s coming along — so far, so good!

See you next time,

Jenny

Welcome to Fictional “Crystal Bay,” Wisconsin! Here’s a Look at the Inspiration Behind the Setting of The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries!

Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, the setting of my Callie’s Kitchen series is a fictional place, and an amalgamation of several Wisconsin towns. However, there is one REAL place that gives me a lot of inspiration as I sit down to write Callie’s latest adventures: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. lake geneva wisconsin summer view from library park

I’m so thrilled when readers share with me their mutual love for Lake Geneva — whenever I mention this is an inspiration for my books, those familiar with the area get really excited about it. I have visited the Geneva Lakes my entire life and one summer, I thought — why not set a cozy mystery here? The rest is history, lol.

For those of you not from the Midwest, let me share some pictures and thoughts with you about the inspiration behind the fictional waterfront town that Callie Costas and crew call home.

Located in Southeastern Wisconsin, near the Illinois border, Lake Geneva is home to a large natural lake (hence the name), which made it an attractive prospect for wealthy Chicagoans (Wrigley, for one) in which to build their summer homes. Many of these homes were built in what is known as “The Gilded Age.”baker house summer view lake geneva

The influx  of rich Chicagoans to the Lake Geneva area began in the mid-19th century but it increased greatly in the 1880s following the Chicago fire of 1871. Many people who could afford it hurried north to seek refuge while the city was being rebuilt. In the meantime, they built and occupied some stunning homes, which are still around to this day — and they’re worth millions.lake geneva mansion condostwo lake geneva mansions summer view from the lake

Mrs. DeWitt, a character in ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK, my first book, lived in one of these homes. Drew, Callie’s ill-fated boyfriend in my debut mystery, lived in one of the lake homes, but not one of the “historical” mansions — I picture his home as being built more recently, but in a style keeping with the neighborhood.

lake geneva boat tour summer mansionsYou can take a boat tour and learn the fascinating history of these mansions and the people who built them and I highly recommend you do so if you visit the area. There is even a mail boat tour, as many of these residences still get their mail via boat. How cool is that?

In Book 3 of the Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries (title to come soon — I think I have it but want to be sure! :)), I will be using some of the history of the region to motivate my characters and story. I am beyond excited about this and am hoping to give you some really fun surprises.

Beyond the mansions, the town is filled with natural beauty, a charming downtown, restaurants and shops galore. Drive a little further out of town and you will find resorts, working farms, more waterways and beaches. It’s a colorful and beautiful place and that’s why I chose it to inspire the Crystal Bay of my imagination.Lake Geneva Wisconsin downtown summer scene

To be clear: Crystal Bay is not an exact replica of Lake Geneva. I leave Crystal Bay to your own imaginations, as well, which is part of the fun of reading (and writing). But I thought you’d enjoy this inside scoop at the setting for my books, especially since so many of you have told me you really enjoy the setting. That makes me very happy, since I think of Crystal Bay as a character in its own right.

FYI: I will be blogging more frequently. It’s been crazy around here with working on Book 3, developing the print versions of my first two books and the general chaos of having two teenagers. Be sure to visit back, soon, though, because I have some really fun stuff planned for the blog. You can follow my blog and always check my Facebook page for info, too. Also, my newsletter will keep you up to date on everything book related!lake geneva beach sign summer

Mark your calendars for next Friday,  March 24th! I wrote a guest post for Lisa K’s Book Thoughts popular feature: “Cozy Food Friday.” I  will be talking about the magic of Wisconsin supper clubs and I share two delicious recipes — one is for a cocktail — well, it is Friday, after all. 🙂 For those of you who’ve read SPICED AND ICED, you will remember a scene with Callie and her BFF Sam in a Wisconsin supper club — these wonderful eateries are a Wisconsin tradition that more people need to know about! Be sure to visit Lisa’s blog if you haven’t already! She’s got all the latest cozy mystery book reviews, author interviews, giveaways and recipes. You’ll love it.

See you next time!

Jenny

A Peek Inside Book 3 and a Delicious Baked Oatmeal Recipe That Callie Would be Proud to Serve in Her Kitchen

 

vintage typewriter magnifying glass and paper for web site

I just released BOOK 2 in The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries, (SPICED AND ICED) but I’ve been working on plotting and writing BOOK 3 — no title as of yet, but I’ve got a few ideas!

One thing I do know is that, unlike the frigid cold and troublesome snow in SPICED AND ICED, BOOK 3 will take place in warmer temps. It’s fun to think ahead to balmier days — and Callie’s latest adventure.

Many of you may know that the setting of fictional Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, is inspired by the Geneva Lakes area of Wisconsin, specifically Lake Geneva, a popular tourist spot for Wisconsin and Illinois residents.

Lake Geneva is home to spectacular and massive mansions that were built along the lakefront. You can take a boat tour to view them — many of the mansions were built decades ago by famous titans of Chicago industry (the Wrigleys, for example) as vacation homes.

jenny-baker-house-lake-geneva

A few “lesser” homes also survived (still pretty spectacular), near the water but close to the downtown area. Here you can see me pictured with one of these homes — The Baker House. This Victorian-style home now houses hotel rooms, a restaurant and a bar with a 1920s theme. Doesn’t it look like the perfect spot for a mystery? Its “sister home,” known as The Maxwell Mansion, is  also used as a hotel and events space and also with a 20s theme.

I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say both of these places have given me a LOT of inspiration for my new cozy mystery.

In my travels through the Geneva Lakes, I also came across a spot called The Coffee Mill, run by a mother and her adult son. They reminded me quite a bit of Callie and Max! The barista (the son), of course serves your latte with a little heart on top. I could see Max doing that — maybe I’ll include that in my next book.

latte-with-a-heart

Besides great coffee, this small coffeehouse serves delicious pastries and a blockbuster breakfast specialty: oatmeal in a mug. You would not believe the number of people who line up to buy this — to the point that they’ve sold out! Yeah, it’s that good.

Since January is Oatmeal Month (no really, it is!)– I decided to feature an oatmeal in a mug recipe. The recipe below is very similar to what I was served at the cafe in Fontana, Wisconsin. I didn’t ask them for the recipe, but I think I came pretty close. It’s good any time of year but especially on a cold day. P.S. It’s really hot when it comes out of the microwave, so be careful. 🙂 Also, be sure to use a large mug — that way the ingredients won’t overflow.baked-oatmeal-in-a-mug-cropped

Baked Oatmeal in a Mug

½ cup oats, quick-cooking or old-fashioned

1 egg

½ cup milk – can be dairy milk or soy, etc.

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

½ of an apple or ¼ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen, raisins, Craisins or whatever you want. I wouldn’t say no to chocolate chips.

2 tsp honey or brown sugar

Add oats, egg and milk in a mug. Stir well with a fork. Add cinnamon, your fruit of choice and honey or brown sugar. Stir again until fully combined. Cook in microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Stir in a little extra milk, if the oatmeal looks too dry and/or top with cold vanilla Greek yogurt. If you really want to have it “Greek style,” use plain Greek yogurt and drizzle with honey to taste. Let the oatmeal “set” a little bit before eating.

Serves 1.

 A quick note! Thank you all for your support of my Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries! If you’ve enjoyed my books, please tell your friends and consider writing a short Amazon review. You can also “follow” me on Amazon — simply visit my Amazon page. The more people who follow me, the more Amazon will “show” my books to potential readers. Both of my books have been Amazon Hot New Releases and bestsellers in the culinary cozy mystery category — all thanks to readers like you. Your support means the world and it keeps me writing! THANK YOU!

Want the latest news on giveaways, sales, exclusive recipes and events? Sign up for my newsletter here.

Happy Holidays, Readers! What a Year!

 

Vintage silverwareI wanted to take this opportunity to say Happy Holidays to all of you! This year — well, 6 months, really — has been an amazing time of sharing my debut cozy mystery with all of you, followed by Book 2 just a couple of weeks ago!

Thank you all for the warm reception to my books! I’m thrilled that so many of you have enjoyed your trips to fictional Crystal Bay, Wisconsin and the antics of Callie Costas and her warm, wacky, wonderful family and friends.

I am already working on Book 3  as well as other writing projects, so 2017 is gearing up to be another busy year of writing, publishing and interacting with you, my fabulous readers!spiced-iced-ebook-1

My last blog tour appearance of 2016 will be at Dru’s Book Musings (Dru is the recent winner of Mystery Writer’s of America prestigious “Raven” award). I’m so happy to have been asked back to Dru’s blog — I’ll be sharing an updated “Day in the Life” with Callie Costas — SPICED AND ICED edition.

I wish you and yours a happy holiday season and I hope you will keep reading and spreading the word about The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries!

SPICED AND ICED Launch Day! Book 2 in the Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series Is Here!

Today is launch day for the second book in my Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series! I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas cozy mystery, so this is a dream come true. Also, what better time of year than now to enjoy a cozy mystery with cold, snowy weather, delicious food and a puzzling mystery to uncover!

spiced-iced-ebook-1
Buy Spiced and Iced on Amazon today!

Part of the fun of writing Spiced and Iced was the setting. It’s mid-December in fictional Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, and Callie once again finds herself embroiled in a murder. This time, a party at a beautiful waterfront inn turns out to be more than she bargained for. Callie’s got a lot on her plate — in more ways than one! As usual, her quirky family, co-workers and townsfolk create interesting situations for her to deal with.

Wisconsin in the winter is cold, yes — but it’s also beautiful. So I had a lot of fun describing the wintry weather and holiday touches throughout the town.

jenny-at-the-duck-innA favorite Wisconsin tradition I talk about in Spiced and Iced is the Wisconsin supper club. There are so many of these to enjoy throughout the state (and I highly recommend the book, “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old-Fashioned Experience” by Ron Faiola as a great resource.) I had the pleasure of visiting The Duck Inn in Delavan, WI last summer. (Pictured left).

What’s a supper club? Well, basically, it’s restaurant — often old and family run — that serves up hearty, traditional fare like steaks, chops and fish, great cocktails and sinful desserts, all in a warm and homey atmosphere. Often a supper club will have a cozy fireplace, rustic decor and even live music. What better place to go on a cold  winter day? My character, Callie Costas, visits a supper club in Crystal Bay and well…I’ll let you read about what happens there!

The holidays are a time of get-togethers and that means food. One of the other fun things about SPICED AND ICED is that I have some great recipes for you to try! You’ll find delicious Greek cookies and savouries, reflecting my amateur sleuth’s heritage, plus some other good stuff. I hope you’ll check out this video of Kim Davis from the wonderful cozy mystery blog Cinnamon & Sugar & A Little Bit of Murder making Greek biscotti from my book. Great job, Kim! I’ve also included a delicious scone recipe courtesy Karen Owen of A Cup of Tea and a Cozy Mystery. And of course, I had to include a Wisconsin supper club classic. There is truly something for everyone.

To learn more about both of the books in my Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series, and to find out how to buy, follow this link.

12-days-of-spiced-and-icedOne more thing! I have a 12 Days of Spiced and Iced Christmas going on right now on my Jenny Kales Mystery Author Facebook page. Click here to go to the page and join in the fun.

A big thank you to everyone who has embraced The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series! Your support is very much appreciated. I hope you enjoy this latest adventure.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

SPICED AND ICED: A Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Book 2

spiced-iced-ebook-1I am delighted to announce that you can now get my latest Callie’s Kitchen Mystery, SPICED AND ICED, for pre-order on Amazon. The official release date is December 5th! I’m really excited about this book and I hope you will be, too. I’ve included some festive holiday recipes that I hope you will enjoy treating your friends and family with this holiday season. OPA!

Here’s some more info about SPICED AND ICED:

“The holidays can be murder! Greek-American restaurateur Callie Costas finds herself on thin ice when a colleague is killed. Recipes included!

The season is bright when Calliope “Callie” Costas agrees to contribute her Greek snowball cookies to a December bridal shower at The English Country Inn in the scenic waterfront town of Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. But when Callie finds a colleague dead, she’s sucked into another murder investigation — all while juggling her growing business and staggering holiday workload.

As she reluctantly agrees to help the Inn’s owner track the killer, Callie is soon up to her spiced Greek biscotti in difficulties. For one thing, the hotel staff is freezing her out as she tries to uncover information, helped by her feisty Grandma Viv and her sweet but nosy aunt who’s visiting from Greece. And then there’s her deepening relationship with the suave and mysterious Detective Sands, a British expat now living in Wisconsin, who seems to have a few secrets of his own.

The icing on the cake is a host of simultaneous family mayhem including her father’s surprising fixation on a real estate agent and her ex’s plans to move back to Crystal Bay. As the Inn’s annual Christmas Tea approaches, things are heating up in Callie’s Kitchen, but she’s on thin ice! Will Christmas be a festive celebration this year – or will it be murder?

Turn to the end of the book for six delicious recipes, including Greek cookies and savories, plus traditional Midwestern favorites!”

Here’s a pic of my “Spiced and Iced Gingerbread,” one of the recipes included in my book.

gingerbread-pic-for-spiced-and-iced
“Spiced and Iced Gingerbread.”

I’m so happy with the way it turned out. It makes a great addition to any holiday menu and a is a festive hostess/host gift.

I had a lot of fun writing this book. We get to visit a traditional Wisconsin supper club, deal with lots and lots of festive holiday snow, spend time at a cozy waterfront inn, meet another of Callie’s colorful Greek relatives and cook up some fabulous food. Oh yes — and solve a puzzling murder!

I’ll have another blog post soon about some of the inspiration behind my latest Callie’s Kitchen Mystery. And please check my News & Events page to stay up to date on my blog tours and appearances. I am privileged to be part of some wonderful blogs and “Cozy Christmas” events these next couple of months.

SPICED AND ICED: A Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Book 2 Available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. $2.99 E-book

NOTE: If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read my books. Visit this link for instructions on adding the Kindle App to your electronic device.

Want all the latest Callie’s Kitchen Mystery news? Click this link to sign up for my free newsletter.

Thanks, everybody! I hope you enjoy the book.

Spiced and Iced – Book 2 Updates! Plus, a Chocolate Pumpkin Cake Recipe

chocolate-pumpkin-cake

Hello, friends! I’ve been super-busy getting SPICED AND ICED, book 2 in The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries ready for publication. There have been a few minor and unavoidable delays, but the upshot is I will have this new culinary cozy mystery up for pre-order very soon — hopefully before the beginning of next week. If this changes, I will let you all know. My cover reveal is coming SOON and my newsletter subscribers will be the first to see it and get pre-order info. Click here to sign up if you haven’t already.

My wonderful cover artist is finalizing a spectacular cover that I think you will love. I have a few more post-production things to finish. I’m looking at a release date at the end of November — just in time for Christmas! Again, I will give you the exact date as soon as I have it. Bottom line, is that SPICED AND ICED will be here for the holidays, as planned. Hooray!

In SPICED AND ICED, Callie is providing some special Greek holiday sweets to a December bridal shower luncheon at a beautiful waterfront inn with stunning views and seasonal decor. Unfortunately, the season doesn’t stay bright for long — a murder shakes up the community once again and Callie finds herself right in the middle of it.

I’ve got some fun new characters and festive recipes to share. You might want to try some of the recipes out on your holiday guests.

Also — I will be participating in some wonderful online holiday parties and blog events in November and December! Please check my News and Events page often for updates (you can find it on the menu in the right corner).

Now for the cake recipe: True, it’s a good Halloween cake (especially if you tint the icing orange) but is equally good for your fall and Thanksgiving gatherings – just skip the orange tint if you like.

The picture above shows the cake in a 9-inch square pan, but I also tried it in a Bundt pan and I liked it even more. However, if you go with the Bundt, I suggest using a simple glaze, not the brown butter icing.

I had never made brown butter icing before and it is really good! It takes away some of the overly sweet aspect of a regular buttercream and adds a unique flavor note.

This is adapted from a recipe in Good Housekeeping magazine. Here you go! I hope you enjoy it.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

Serves  12

Ingredients

2 c. all-purpose flour, ¾ c. unsweetened cocoa, 1½ tsp. baking soda, ¼ tsp. salt

1 c. lowfat buttermilk, ¾ c. canned pure pumpkin

½ cup unsalted butter, softened, 2 c. granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 batch Brown Butter Frosting (see below) or Simple Glaze

Directions:

For cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray either a 9-inch  square pan or a Bundt pan with Pam spray with flour. Set aside.

In large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla.

In large bowl, with mixer on low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until pale and fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

Reduce speed to medium-low. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake 38 – 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Don’t over bake. A few crumbs clinging to the toothpick is OK. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. With small knife, loosen cake from sides of pan; invert onto wire rack. Cool completely before using icing or glaze.

Brown Butter Frosting

½ c. unsalted butter

2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1 pinch salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

To make the frosting: In a small saucepan, cook butter on medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until dark golden and very fragrant, swirling frequently. Transfer to small bowl and refrigerate until just starting to set, about 30 minutes.

In medium bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat brown butter, confectioners’ sugar, and pinch salt until smooth.

Spread on top and sides of cake.

Simple Glaze

2 cups confectioners sugar

A few tbsp milk

Pinch salt

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Stir all ingredients together, adding milk gradually, just until you have a pourable icing. Drizzle evenly over cake once completely cool (I put waxed paper under the wire rack to catch the overflow).

Back at you soon with more SPICED AND ICED details. Please visit me on Facebook at @JennyKalesMysteryAuthor and be the first to find out about news and giveaways by joining my email list. I’m also on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!