PIN IT to WIN IT Starts TODAY!

It’s another Pin It to Win It Book Hunt – this time for LAST DINER STANDING! Here’s how it works: Pop over to our Pinterest board , repin the LAST DINER STANDING Pin It to Win It image, then using the list and instructions on the pin, create a board with all your found goodies! After that, just cross your chicken fingers that you’ll win the prizes (good prizes, too).

This contest runs until March 10, and we’ll announce the winner on March 12. Pretty cool, right? If you love Pinterest, or have been itching to try it (beware: it is ADDICTING), now’s your chance to showcase your scavenger hunting talent. And then WIN!

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Blogroll: Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

A Very Cozy Christmas: Susan M. Boyer

 

Let’s welcome Susan M. Boyer, author of Lowcountry Boil.

* * * * *

Our Traditional Christmas Dinner

My husband, Jim, and I are blessed with a large family. The holidays are full, and scheduling a challenge because of all the sub-groups of family. We celebrate Christmas with my side of the family twice—once with immediate and once with extended family. Jim is one of eight siblings, most of whom have taken the “go forth and multiply” thing to heart. You can imagine the crowd. By the time we celebrate Christmas at home with our children, no one wants to look at a turkey or a ham. Over the years, we’ve put together our own traditional Christmas menu.

Using a super-secret process, Jim roasts a beef tenderloin outside in his grill. To keep it company, we make béarnaise sauce, mashed potato casserole, corn pie, green beans, yeast rolls, and a family favorite, tomato pie. The desserts may vary, but there’s always a cheesecake and something chocolate. Jim likes heavier wines than I, so we usually serve both a cabernet and a pinot noir with the meal.

I love this “recipe” for tomato pie because it’s both delicious and versatile. When we first started making it we used ten-inch pie plates. But we’ve discovered it works great in muffin pans for individual servings, and also in bite-sized pastry shells for an appetizer to take to parties. For Christmas the past few years we’ve used the muffin pans, so I guess we’ll call these tomato tarts.

Did you notice how I put the word recipe in quotes above? This is because I never use recipes. I’m one of those cooks who uses a dash of this and a little of that, and probably has never made a dish exactly the same way twice. This stresses my sister-in-law to no end, as she is forever asking me for recipes. I try to give them to her off the top of my head. She measures everything precisely, and gets really nervous when I say things like, “Just put a little in and taste it,” and “It helps if you sip a glass of pinot noir while you cook.”

From the best of my memory, this is how we make tomato tarts. If it isn’t exact, I don’t think you’d ever be able to tell it. This recipe makes 12 individual, muffin-size tarts.

Tomato Tarts
Ingredients
1 large sweet onion
1 stick butter, softened
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar (you can substitute honey)
3 Refrigerated pie crusts (We use Pillsbury, but my grandmother would not approve. If you really want to, you can make them from scratch.)
3 cans fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
2 cups mayonnaise (We use Duke’s, naturally, because it’s a rule in the South. But Hellman’s would work just as well. I can only tell you this because my mamma doesn’t read blogs.)
4 cups shredded 6-cheese Italian blend (We use Sargento Chef’s Blend or Publix house brand.)
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning blend (We use Emeril’s.)
Sea salt
Black pepper

Step One: Caramelize the onion
1. Thinly slice, then chop the onion
2. Place 3 tablespoons of the butter and the canola oil in a cast iron frying pan and turn on medium-low heat
3. Rotate the pan to mix the butter and oil as the butter melts
4. When the butter is completely melted and blended with the oil, add the onion to the pan.
5. Sprinkle onion with sea salt—don’t ask me how much, just sprinkle some on there.
6. You want the onion soft and an even brown. This will take 20-30 minutes. Stir every few minutes and watch carefully. If it gets too brown, it will be bitter. About half-way in, add the agave nectar or honey.
7. When the onion is caramelized, set aside.

Step Two: Prepare crusts
1. Chill your muffin pans.
2. Flatten and bring crusts to room temperature.
3. Cut circles of crust. My muffin pans have 12 muffin cups, 3” across and 1” deep. Yours may or may not be the same size, but here’s the trick: You need to make circles of crust that are the bottom width plus 2 times the height—in my case, 5” circles. I have a small metal bowl just the right size. I’ve never found a biscuit cutter big enough.
4. Butter the tins and place a strip of parchment paper across each cup that reaches all the up the sides and over the top a bit.
5. Press circles of crust into chilled tins. Form the crusts to the pan, crimping the edges.
6. Refrigerate pan.
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Step Three: Prepare Filling
1. Mix drained tomatoes, onion, Italian seasoning, and additional sea salt and pepper as desired.
2. Set aside.
3. Mix mayonnaise with cheeses.

Step Four: Assemble and bake
1. Spoon tomato and onion mixture into prepared crusts. Fill about ¾ full.
2. Generously top with mayonnaise mixture. You can use a pastry bag for this if you like. I just spoon mine on. (You may have some topping left over—I never get it to come out exact.)
3. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 and continue baking another 10-15 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
5. Use pastry strips to lift tarts from pans and serve.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your holidays are filled with family, love, laughter, and good food.

About Susan M. Boyer

Susan M. Boyer has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit. Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine Review, Spinetingler Magazine, Relief Journal, The Petigru Review, and Catfish Stew. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, was the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense recipient and an RWA Golden Heart® finalist.
Visit Susan at: www.susanmboyerbooks.com

Giveaway

Now for a giveaway. We’re giving away a copy of Lowcountry Boil. To enter:
- complete the form below.
- giveaway ends on December 11, 2012 at midnight.
- giveaway is open international
- winners will be contacted via email

Blogroll: Terry’s Place

Give Me A Beach by Terry Odell

Today I wel­come Susan M. Boyer to Terry’s Place. Susan is a life-long book lover and author of the Liz Tal­bot mys­tery series. She tags along with her hus­band on busi­ness trips when­ever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh cof­fee all day and cook­ies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occa­sion­ally visit.

Susan will be giv­ing away a copy of her book, LOWCOUNTRY BOIL to one lucky com­menter. Win­ner will get to choose for­mat: dig­i­tal or print. You have until Fri­day to enter.

And while Susan is here, I’m also giv­ing away a book at Just Roman­tic Sus­pense.

Like many folks, I love the beach. Give me a beach umbrella, a chair, and a book, and I am one happy camper. I used to swim in the ocean, or per­haps more accu­rately, bob around in it, and ride the waves on any­thing that would float. That was before my close encounter with a stingray.

The waters off the coast of South Car­olina have a fair amount of sand and such stir­ring around in them cour­tesy of the rivers flow­ing into the Atlantic in the vicin­ity. Dis­claimer: I’m not a sci­en­tist who stud­ies such things. This is the rea­son I’ve been given since child­hood when I ask why the water in South Car­olina isn’t as clear as south Florida and the Caribbean. This could just as eas­ily be some­thing Mamma pulled out of thin air to keep me quite. I digress. The point is, you can’t see the bottom. [Read more...]

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