"Don't give me any turkey leftovers. All I want is some of your mother's vegetable salad." I hear similar requests after every holiday dinner. Alas, the vegetable salad recipe has more than five ingredients, so it doesn't belong on this page. You'll find the recipe in The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White.
By Cook or by Crook, the first of my Five-Ingredient Mysteries, includes eight recipes, two of them perfect for a Thanksgiving dinner: Just Small Potatoes and Easier-than-Pie Apple Crisp. Here are those two recipes and an easy herb stuffing recipe.
Do you have a favorite holiday recipe? Please mention it in a comment.
Just Small Potatoes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
6 medium to large potatoes
¼ cup flour
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons melted butter
Pour the melted butter into a glass baking pan (13 x 9 x 2 inches). Combine the flour, cheese, and salt in a plastic bag. Peel the spuds and cut each into eight pieces. Dip ‘em in cold water, throw ‘em into the plastic bag a few at a time, and shake. When the pieces are coated, plunk those babies in the pan, flat side down, nestled in a single layer. Bake for an hour, turning them after half an hour to brown another side.
You can serve them in the baking pan and add parsley sprigs for garnish.
Easier-Than-Pie Apple Crisp
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
5 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (about 5 medium or 3 large apples)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup softened (not melted) butter
[Optional: cinnamon sprinkles]
Put the sliced apples in a shallow, square baking pan (8 or 9 inches) and, if desired, sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Cover the pan with foil and bake the apples for 20 minutes.
Mix together the flour, sugar, and nuts. Mash the softened butter into the mixture with a fork if you’re finicky, and with your fingers if you’re not. When the apples have baked for 20 minutes, cover them with the crumb mixture.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
Cool the apple crisp for at least 30 minutes. Serve it warm or cold, by itself or with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
As the designated holiday dinner makers in our family for the last 25 years, we've experimented with different types of stuffing, starting from scratch or using various stuffing mixes. We've settled on a 5-ingredient one as the favorite, a modified version of the recipe on the Pepperidge Farm® Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing package.
1 stick of butter
2 cups of chopped onions (approximately 2 large onions)
2 cups chopped celery (4-6 celery stalks)
2 cups boiling water (or low-salt chicken broth)
1 14-ounce package of Pepperidge Farm® Herb Seasoned Classic Stuffing
Melt half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions for five minutes or until tender. Add the celery and cook for another 3 minutes. Melt the remaining butter in the skillet with the vegetables. Stir in the stuffing mix. Add hot water or broth slowly, mixing it with the stuffing until moist, using less liquid if you prefer stuffing on the dry side.
Stove-top stuffing: Cover the skillet, remove it from the heat, and let it stand five minutes. Fluff the stuffing with a fork and serve.
Casserole stuffing: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spoon the stuffing into a 2-quart casserole. Bake 30 minutes or until hot.
For in-bird stuffing: Loosely spoon the mixture into the turkey or chicken cavity before putting the bird in the oven. Don't overfill the cavity. A stuffed bird takes longer to cook than an unstuffed one. Put any remaining stuffing in a casserole dish and bake it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Scam Chowder (Five-Ingredient Mystery #2) is out. Here is a preview of the opening chapter from Val, the sleuth in the series.
Cook and run—those were Granddad’s instructions to me this evening. I was supposed to make the chowder for his dinner guests from the retirement village and get out of the kitchen. Then he would add the final ingredients and claim credit for the whole meal. This ruse was part of his campaign to win the heart of Lillian, the Village’s most attractive widow, whose husband had made her gourmet meals. To convince Lillian of his cooking skills, Granddad has no qualms about passing off my recipes and my dinners as his own creations. By eavesdropping, I discovered that more than a romance was at stake tonight. Granddad, egged on by Lillian, planned to confront a dinner guest who’d scammed retirees out of their savings. But someone beat him to it, making tonight’s chowder the last thing the scammer would eat.
Val makes two types of chowder for her grandfather's guests. When writing the book, I found a helpful video on cooking chowder: How to make three kinds of clam chowder, with Providence chef Michael Cimarusti. The 5-ingredient clear chowder meets Granddad's standards for a recipe.
Which type do you prefer: clear chowder, red chowder, or creamy chowder?
Thrilled to have a recipe in the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, I am hosting a giveaway, courtesy of Quirk Books. Between the handsome covers of this book, you'll find recipes and anecdotes by today's crime writers. You'll also find essays on food in the writings of Poe, Conan Doyle, Christie and other giants of the mystery genre.
The vegetable salad recipe I contributed is a family favorite for holiday dinners. “Take Your Pick” in the recipe title means you can substitute different vegetables depending on the time of year and your own tastes. The best feature of this recipe is that the veggies marinate for a day, giving you one less dish to prepare at the last minute. What dish is a favorite when you get together with family and friends?
To enter the drawing for a free book, leave a reply to this post. For another chance at winning, sign up for my infrequent newsletter. If you've already subscribed, say so in a comment, and I'll add another entry for you. The contest runs from March 19 to midnight on April 18 eastern time. It is open to U.S. and Canada residents. Check back the last week of April for the winner's name. Good luck!
Finally, if you're a mystery fan, try the trivia quiz on this site, which involves matching a recipe from the book to the writer who submitted it. You'll find clues in the recipe titles.
Now that I’m writing the Five-Ingredient Mysteries, friends give me cookbooks to plump out my collection of low-ingredient recipes. Here are three favorite books you might consider as gifts this season for yourself or someone else.
If you have a favorite cookbook with recipes requiring few ingredients, please leave a comment and share your find. Here's why I like these three books.
This blog, like the books and stories I write, combines mysteries, food, trivia, and a bit of humor to leaven the grim subject of crime. Sometimes random subjects intrude here .