Monday, November 4, 2019

They say you should never look back. But I think looking back is a good thing, if you're looking back on something happy, something fun. The following post is from three years ago today. 
Enjoy this look back!


Cozy Food Friday!

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

Today I'm featuring a recipe from
the author of
Barbara Early

Liz McCall grew up in a playful winter wonderland but it was never her dream to manage her father’s vintage toyshop. However, after he sank his entire police pension into the business, someone needed to help him turn his dreams into reality—and keep him from sneaking off to patrol the not-so-mean streets of East Aurora, NY.

The mood goes from nice to naughty when a nervous man, who was trying to have his antique toys appraised, is found in the shop with a lawn dart through his chest. Suddenly, Liz’s business plan is plunged into deep freeze, while she and her father find themselves toying with a cold-blooded killer who’s playing for keeps.

Now, it looks like Christmas might be cancelled for the neighborhood kids if Liz can't wrap up the case in Barbara Early's delightful debut Death of a Toy Soldier.


I’m not Sorry to hear that in the Life of cozy mysteries, author Barbara Early is beginning to build a Monopoly. Her Risk sure did payoff with this first book in the Vintage Toyshop Mysteries!

I have been looking forward to DEATH OF A TOY SOLDIER for such a long time. Not only is it written by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Early/Beverly Allen, the brilliance of a mystery series built around a vintage toyshop is such a fun idea, and can really lend itself to so many murders, motives, and mayhems. And the possibility of weapons . . . endless!

Once I started reading DEATH OF A TOY SOLIDER, I couldn’t stop. I was so captivated by this book that I read it in one sitting. I simply couldn’t put it down! The wonderful characters and settings, the superb writing, that special something that only Barbara Early can bring to a story. And the toys! So. Many. Toys! Some of the toys and games I remember so fondly. Others, I have heard my older siblings talk about. And so many others that I have never heard of!

But what’s a cozy mystery without mystery and murder? No worries! While delighting me with past childhood treasures, Ms. Early also thrilled me with a mysterious story of murder that had me searching for a motive and guessing throughout the entire book. With more ups and downs and twists and turns than Chutes and Ladders, by the time of the surprising reveal, my head was spinning like a top!

So much better than having Park Place and Boardwalk with hotels on both, I can’t say enough good things about this book! I could honestly go on and on. But one more thing must be said, DEATH OF A TOY SOLDIER has a solid place in my top three cozies mysteries of 2016!


About Barbara Early

Barbara Early earned an engineering degree, but after four years of doing nothing but math, developed a sudden allergy to the subject and decided to choose another occupation. Before she settled on murdering fictional people, she was a secretary, a school teacher, a pastor’s wife, and an amateur puppeteer. After several years living elsewhere, she and her husband moved back to her native Western New York State, where she enjoys cooking, crafts, classic movies and campy seventies television, board games, and posting pictures of her four cats on Facebook. She writes the Vintage Toyshop Mysteries and the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries (as Beverly Allen).


Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Photo by Author Barbara Early

I don’t write culinary mysteries—that is to say nobody has published my culinary mystery yet—but my characters do seem to enjoy eating between sleuthing. With the new Vintage Toyshop Mysteries taking place so close to the area that I live, I’ve been able to include local and regional favorites. This pizza might be made by Jack, one of my characters who owns a local tavern. It’s based on what many call the Buffalo Wing (but which is Western New York, we just call wings)

Bread Machine Wheat Pizza Dough: (this is the dough I use, and it gives the bottom a nice crunch, but you can use any pizza dough you wish!)


1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups bread flour
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/8 cup water (plus 2 Tbsp)
1 1/2 yeast

Add all ingredients to a bread machine, as specified by the manufacturer. Run on dough cycle.

Remove and let rest for 30 minutes. *Roll into circle, and stretch onto large, lightly oiled pizza pan. Let rise for 30-60 minutes in warm place.

Google Images

*For a thinner crust pizza, use two-thirds of the dough. Store the rest in the refrigerator to make mini pizzas later!


1 tbsp olive oil 
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into small pieces, about 15 oz
1 tbsp butter or your favorite substitute. (I use Smart Balance)
1/4 cup bottled hot sauce, such as Frank’s or Texas Pete (usually peppers and vinegar)
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing*
6 oz mozzarella cheese*

Google Images
* I was dieting at the time. You may want a little more. (Barbara) 


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Heat olive oil in a pan at medium heat. Cook chicken until no longer pink. Add butter and hot sauce to chicken. Toss to coat.

Spread blue cheese dressing onto unbaked crust. Add chicken and all the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Google Images

Doesn't that sound great?
Are you suddenly hungry too?

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 . . .

Cathy slammed the receiver down, and the phone's eyes wiggled.  Yes, our telephone has eyes.

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% . . .

That's when the police car, sirens blaring, pulled out from a spot in the darkness with the high-powered headlights focused on us. 

Available now!

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

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I hope you liked this look back as much as I did.
Do you have a favorite memory, or favorite book that you like looking back at? I'd love to hear about it!

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