Friday, October 9, 2015

Cozy Food Friday!

That means it's time to share a recipe from 
another great cozy mystery!

Today I'm featuring a recipe from
Book 1 in the Undercover Dish Mystery series
Julia Buckley

First in a delicious new mystery series filled with casseroles, confidences, and killers...

Lilah Drake’s Covered Dish business discreetly provides the residents of Pine Haven, Illinois, with delicious, fresh-cooked meals they can claim they cooked themselves. But when one of her clandestine concoctions is used to poison a local woman, Lilah finds herself in a pot-load of trouble…

After dreaming for years of owning her own catering company, Lilah has made a start into the food world through her Covered Dish business, covertly cooking for her neighbors who don’t have the time or skill to do so themselves, and allowing them to claim her culinary creations as their own. While her clientele is strong, their continued happiness depends on no one finding out who’s really behind the apron.

So when someone drops dead at a church Bingo night moments after eating chili that Lilah made for a client, the anonymous chef finds herself getting stirred into a cauldron of secrets, lies, and murder—and going toe to toe with a very determined and very attractive detective. To keep her clients coming back and her business under wraps, Lilah will have to chop down the list of suspects fast, because this spicy killer has acquired a taste for homicide…


I have just found one of my favorite new series of 2015!

Author Julia Buckley is a new voice in the cozy mystery world. Like most readers who series books, I get both excited and a little unsure when the first in a new series comes out. Especially when it’s by an author I’m not familiar with. Well, by the time I was on page three of THE BIG CHILI, I was really enjoying it and by the end of chapter one, I was hooked! This was another read in one sitting book for me.

This delectable debut novel has everything I love in a cozy mystery. Superb writing, a cast of great, quirky characters, and a sweet small town setting. This story also has a wonderful dog in it that was the icing on the cake for me. Or should I say the cheese on the chili? ;-)

Ms. Buckley’s theme of undercover dishes is original and enjoyable to read. A perfect cozy for autumn reading, snuggled in a favorite chair with a cup of tea. There are a lot of fun moments in this story. I loved sneaking around town with main character Lilah Drake and her chocolate Lab, Mick, delivering covered dishes to clandestine locations, to the cooking impaired. The fun took nothing away from the mystery, which was compelling and well done. Just the right amount of twists to keep the reader guessing the whole way through until all is revealed.  

Mystery fans, you have got to read THE BIG CHILI. You won’t be disappointed. Like me, you’ll be anxiously waiting for the author to cook up another story that we can dive into and gobble up.

Speaking offing gobbling up, check the back of the book for some delicious sounding recipes!

Available now!

The recipe I'm sharing from THE BIG CHILI is one that would be perfect any time of day. 


(Made for Toby Atwater) 

Casserole Ingredients

1 loaf of soft French bread (or 10 soft rolls)
8 large eggs 
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk 
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla 
¼ teaspoon cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon nutmeg 
Salt to taste 

Streusel Topping Ingredients
(This can vary, but here's one option)

2 sticks (1 pound) butter
1 teaspoon almond extract 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 cup corn syrup 
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts) 
½ teaspoon cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon nutmeg 
¼ teaspoon cloves 

For streusel: soften butter, then mix in the remaining ingredients until the topping has a crumbly texture. 

Meanwhile, slice bread into twenty slices (or separate ten rolls) and lay out in a buttered baking dish. 

Blend all of the ingredients and pour them over slices of bread, making sure that the wet mixture gets under and in between the slices, and that all of the bread is saturated.

Cover the mixture with tinfoil and refrigerate overnight. 

In the morning, spread the streusel mixture on top of the saturated, chilled bread, and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. 

(As an alternative to the streusel topping, you can choose a fruit like raspberries or strawberries, and sprinkle them on before baking. Blueberries and apples are delicious options, as well.)

Serve with pats of butter and maple syrup. 

All food photos are from Google images. 
Your dish may vary in appearance. 

Show of hands...
Who plans on making this yummy recipe?

Please keep reading and check out my 
installments of 
Book Beginnings on Fridays
The Friday 56


My Book Beginnings and Friday 56
 for this week are also from

Book Beginnings on Fridays is a meme hosted by Rose City Reader
Share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading

My Book Beginnings...

My Chocolate Labrador watched me as I parked my my prviously loved Volvo wagon and took my covered pan out of the back seat; the autumn wind buffeted my face and made a mess of my hair. "I'll be back, Mick," I said. "I know that pot in the back smells good, but I'm counting on you to behave and wait for your treat."

He nodded at me. Mick was a remarkable dog for many reasons, but one of his best talents was that he had trained himself to nod while I was talking. He was my dream companion: a handsome male who listened attentively and never interrupted or condescended. He also made me feel safe when I did my clandestine duties all over Pine Haven. 
The Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda's Voice
Rules: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's okay.) *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you. *Post it.

My Friday 56...
Page 56 of print copy

 "..... So it's up to the police to look beneath the veneers and find the truth. Find a motive, I guess." 

_____ sighed."This is what upsets me, Lilah."


"I---Well, I'm afraid people will think I had a motive."

Sorry about the ___ in the 56, but I didn't want you to know who was talking to Lilah. ;-)


Julia Buckley is a Chicago writer. She debuted with THE DARK BACKWARD in 2006; she followed that with the Madeline Mann trilogy and several stand-alone novels, now available on Kindle.

She has two upcoming series with Berkley Prime Crime; the first book, THE BIG CHILI, comes out on October 6. 

Her hobbies are reading, writing, binge-watching tv series on Netflix, and hanging out with her husband, sons, and three cats.

Visit Julia at her website,

As always, please leave a comment and 
let me know what you think!

Follow my blog by 
clicking on the link in the 
upper right hand corner of this page.


  1. THE BIG CHILI sounds like a book I need to read! Thank you for the review, Lisa, and for sharing the recipe.

  2. Thanks, Lisa! I could enjoy that recipe right now.

  3. Hoping to get this book soon. It sounds awesome!

  4. This one looks delightfully yummy....thanks for sharing! And thanks for visiting my blog.

  5. The Big Chili sounds like a good mystery. I enjoyed your review. Also the French Toast Casserole made me hungry! :)

  6. The Big Chili sounds like a delightful story. The recipe looks yummy too. I'll definitely try both.
    Thank you for visiting my blog.
    Sandy @ TEXAS TWANG

  7. A delicious new series...and that french toast casserole looks yummy.

  8. Thanks for sharing the recipe and about the book.

  9. The book sounds good and am intrigued by the poisoning of the trickery food, made to make people think you cooked it at home.

    But the recipe is worth a try. I was just looking at a recipe for blueberry french toast bake. Pretty similar but it doesn't have the strudel topping.

    My Friday Quotes

  10. Thanks for posting about Lilah and her Undercover Dish business! So much fun reading this great blog and all the wonderful comments!

  11. The book sounds good and food looks good too :)

  12. Both sound so appealing! ....and my dog loves the look of the cover! :-)

  13. I love chili so the book sounds good, but that French Toast Casserole looks delicious!
    Happy weekend!