“Anyone Can Cook!” Cozy Cookbooks To Love

Nov 23, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Food Fun, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

Be sure to review the details at the end of this post on how to enter to win ebook copies of these four Cozy Cookbooks: A Bad Hair Day Cookbook by Nancy J. Cohen, Ashton Falls Cozy Cookbook by Kathi Daley, A Gray Whale Kitchen Cookbook by Karen MacInerney, and The Bennett Sisters French Cookbook by Lise McClendon. Also check out the two cookbooks from Chelsea Thomas and C.A. Phipps, a FREE GIFT for signing up for their newsletter. Also Preorder Alert! for Jenny Kales’s new cookbook. There are also Amazon links to purchase the books and if you have ad blocker on you may not see them.

I love cookbooks! I have a collection of 50 books and 360 eBooks, and although I’m not a chef, not even a real fanatic in the kitchen, I am experienced in better-than-basic techniques, competent in following directions, and greatly enjoy putting together everyday meals, sweet desserts, and holiday feasts. I also love cozy mysteries! So, I’m thrilled many favorite cozy mystery authors have published cookbooks compiling recipes from their series, and often family favorites, too. Check out these eight cookbooks, explore links to author websites, view Amazon & Goodreads, and enjoy fun insights on their influences, culinary experiences, and best thoughts on Thanksgiving!

Nancy J. Cohen, Kathi Daley, Karen MacInerney, Lise McClendon,
C.A. Phipps, Chelsea Thomas, and Jenny Kales

Nancy J. Cohen pens Bad Hair Day Mysteries starring Marla Shore-Vail, owner of a South Florida hair salon, who, along with being an expert stylist and amateur sleuth, loves cooking…like Nancy. “I love to talk about food, attend cooking classes, and read food magazines. I like to cook and experiment with new dishes…Food is a happy topic.” Nancy brings creativity into the kitchen, and encouraging others, “I like to modify recipes to suit my tastes. I’ll omit added salt, for example. You can flavor foods enough with different herbs. I enjoy visiting farmer’s markets, food and wine festivals, and believe it or not, food shopping is one of my favorite pastimes.” She is her own farm-to-fork with lemons, lychee, and avocados in her backyard, “It’s great when you can use fresh, seasonal ingredients.” And her mantra is shared by many, “Cooking is an expression of creativity and love when you share meals with friends and family.”

mystery foodA Bad Hair Day Cookbook earns 5+/5 Silver Whisks! “Whether you’re a skilled cook or an eager novice, this cookbook will have you in and out of the kitchen in no time.” A collection of 160+ recipes of family favorites, some “inherited from my mother.” From appetizers to entrees and sides, from breads, sauces, and soups in time for cold weather to desserts and refreshing beverages, she also includes suggestions for Themed Menus and Holiday Dinners, a delightful story A Sabbath Dinner written by her mother Martha Heller, and after each section, an excerpt from one of her Bad Hair Day Mysteries! The must-read Introduction by Marla Vail has a humorous disclaimer. Marla grew up in a kosher household, so “If you’re looking for pork or ham recipes, you won’t find them in these pages. I can’t say the same for shrimp, however. I know what you’re thinking, but that’s the way it is.” Each recipe starts with a fun intro: tips or background and sometimes a connection to her book’s characters. My choice made for a delight Sunday brunch. The Tomato Broccoli Quiche recipe, a favorite of Dalton’s, was easy to make, delicious, and included a calorie-reducing suggestion. Do you have a slow cooker? Try her Chicken Cacciatore. Suggestion? Not a one. Well, illustrations?

Thank you, Nancy, what about Thanksgiving? “I like the traditional Thanksgiving meal with roast turkey and gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and green bean casserole. For dessert, pumpkin pie is my favorite.” Here’s a starter.

Spinach Pumpernickel Dip
10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 package dry onion soup mix
1-1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 round pumpernickel bread

Mix together soup mix, sour cream, and mayonnaise until blended. Add spinach, water chestnuts, and green onions. Cover and chill. Just before serving, cut circle into top of bread and hollow out a bowl shape, saving pieces of bread to place around platter for dip. Spoon spinach mixture into hollow and serve.

If you have extra dip left over, use it to stuff mushrooms for another appetizer.

Kathi Daley authors Zoe Donovan Cozy Mystery entangles Zoe, family, and friends in murder investigations, but they’re always ready for an intimate or family-style gathering at the dining table. Kathi, however, is not quite like her character. “…while I come from a family of cooks, I don’t cook. I guess I should qualify that and say that I can cook, I just don’t.” It is funny to learn, “…while my mother and sisters like to cook big family meals on a daily basis, I don’t really like to cook. I’ve always been one of those really busy people, so more often than not, we tend to eat out. It is actually a huge joke in my family that in a family of cooks the one daughter/sister who doesn’t cook is the one to publish a cookbook.” Many can identify with busy lives, but like they say, Those that do…cook, those that don’t, write a cookbook!

cookbookAshton Falls Cozy Cookbook earns 5/5 Santa Spatulas! This collection of 50+ recipes from Kathi Daley’s Zoe Donovan series is perfect not just for the holidays. Encouraged by her fans, “I’d been gathering recipes in these books for two years, so I figured it wouldn’t be all that hard to make up a cover and create a stand alone recipe book.” She learned it was a bit more complicated. The Donovan family and friends celebrate holidays to the fullest, and Kathi shares their traditions in Christmas Eve in Ashton Falls peppered throughout the cookbook. “I decided to add a short story as well as a whole lot of fun graphics I took hours and hours to track down. In the end, the book was very time consuming, but it was also fun; my readers seemed to enjoy it.” You can create a simple menu for two or a huge feast for all the family: Appetizers, Muffins and Sweet Breads, Soups, Stews, Chili, and Chowders, Mains and Sides, Desserts and Other Sweets. I decided to try a nice lunch for my former colleagues starting with a big bowl of Rose’s Clam Chowder, with lots of crusty bread for dipping, and ending with Rosie’s Apple Crisp topped with a scoop of ice cream. Although Christmas is the cookbook’s theme, the recipes are good all-year round. Suggestion? I would have liked the Table of Contents to have links that allow better navigation to the location of a recipe.

Thank you, Kathi, what about Thanksgiving? “I’m not sure this will qualify as a recipe, but my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the mashed potatoes. While I do eat a bit of meat now, I was a vegetarian for fifteen years. So, while everyone else was eating turkey with all the trimmings, I would eat the veggies and mashed potatoes. I do love my potatoes!”

Karen MacInerney authors A Gray Whale Inn Mysteries set in Maine with the delightful Natalie Barnes managing her bed & breakfast, hosting visitors, serving delicious treats, and solving murders. “I have always loved food and cooking—both are very comforting. I often read cookbooks and foodie books before I go to sleep.” During one sleepless night, French cookbook in hand, “I decided to try to make mayonnaise; it never did emulsify. But, I remember family looking very confused to find me in front of the food processor at 2:30 a.m. Food is fairly central to my life, and although my mother was never a huge fan of cooking, my grandmother was. I remember growing up with all kinds of sweets, from steamed puddings to fruit cake to her specialty, sour cream coffee cake.”

The Gray Whale Inn Kitchen earns 5/5 Golden Spoons! This cookbook has 40+ delightful sweet and savory recipes originally found in the first seven books. From Savory to Sweet Breakfast Dishes, Muffins and Scones to Coffee Cakes and Quick Breads, you’ll create the best continental breakfast. I served the Gray Whale Inn Breakfast Strata with fresh-squeezed orange juice and a fresh fruit compote. And, after that, I was the favorite aunt! This cookbook also includes recipes for Main Courses, Cookies and Bars, Other Desserts, and a fragrant Christmas Simmering Potpourri (This filled my home with wonderful aromas for the holiday celebration). “Many recipes, including the Steamed Blueberry Pudding, were inspired by things my grandmother, Marian Quinton, baked for me when I visited her in Newfoundland. She was always making wonderful things in her kitchen, and I’ve never felt as warm and loved and cared for as I did those summer afternoons at her kitchen table.” Suggestion? I do love family stories, cultural insights, or extra tips, so little snippets would have been a nice addition.

Thank you, Karen, what about Thanksgiving? “I love the stuffing my mother makes; it’s not southern-style, because my family is from the Northeast originally, but to me, nothing says Thanksgiving like the smell of onions and celery sautéing in melted butter the morning of the big day. (She uses the Pepperidge Farm breadcrumb stuffing.) I also love traditional cranberry sauce. It’s super simple.

Cranberry Sauce
12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest (optional)
2 tablespoons water, more if cranberries are dry

Rinse and pick out any soft berries, then pour cranberries into a saucepan. Add 1 cup sugar, lemon or orange zest if using, and 2 tablespoons water to the pan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft (about ten minutes), adding water if necessary. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, then add additional sugar if needed. Serve cold or at room temperature.

On Sale Alert! Karen MacInerney’s new cookbook, Lucy’s Farmhouse Kitchen: Recipes from the Dewberry Farm Mysteries, has 50 recipes inspired by her Dewberry Farm Mysteries. Along with everything for a full menu, she includes “bonus kitchen and garden tips” and three Crafts. “When I put together the Dewberry Farm cookbook, I wanted to include many dishes and regional variations I feel are emblematic of Central Texas. Enchiladas, of course, and guacamole, King Ranch Chicken Casserole, a perennial favorite in these parts and a great way to use up extra turkey, Southern-style chicken and dumplings, Hoppin’ John (it’s traditional to eat black-eyed peas for New Year’s), and Texas-style peach cobbler. There are so many regional specialties I just had to include!”

Amazon — Lucy’s Farmhouse Kitchen-Dewberry Farm Mysteries

Lise McClendon pens the Bennett Sisters Series with Annie, Francie, Merle, Stacia, and Elise Bennett, a delightful sisterhood collaborating on a variety of mysteries often perilous to one or all, and credited them as her inspiration. “My stories are often set in France, and…the French are obsessed with cuisine. Their secret, I think, is fresh ingredients, bought locally at a farmers’ market, but it can be said they enjoy food like crazy. In the mysteries, food is “baked in” to the plots. I wanted to pull together a cookbook full of recipes for dishes mentioned in the books.” Although Lise’s budding cooking experiences were not pretty, it is the journey. “When I was in high school French, a classmate and I attempted to make Bûche de Noël, a chocolate Yule log (cake topped with almond ganache then rolled into a log). There are a number of steps, but somewhere along the line we got into an epic food fight in her parents’ kitchen. There was frosting on the ceiling, as I recall. I was mortified as my own mother would have killed me if I’d done such a thing. But we slapped together that Bûche and everyone enjoyed it. Not the prettiest Yule log I’ve ever made though!”

Bennett Sisters French Cookbook Mysteries earns 5+/5 Silver Ladles! This is a must for any closet or out-in-the-open Francophile, but don’t shy away about going French, it doesn’t equate to difficult! The cookbook is complete with recipes for every course from hors d’oeuvres to first course salads and soups, main course beef, chicken, and seafood, and French desserts Marie Antoinette would be proud to eat! Each recipe begins with a personal thought, a bit of cultural information, and in some cases, a connection to her Bennett Sisters Mystery books. Start with the Classic French Onion Soup or a Warm Goat Salad, add a traditional Cassoulet for Two or Coq au Vin, and end with Quatre Quarts cake or a few Madeleines à la Hélène. You will be a huge hit! I actually tried the Tartiflette, a potatoes and fromage (cheese) casserole, that I paired with a nice green salad as suggested. Voilà! It was great! Suggestion? I would like the recipe links organized under categories like Appetizers, First Course, Meat Course, Dessert, etc. so that I can more easily navigate certain courses. I would also have liked a pronunciation available for each French word. I would like to sound authentic, too.

Merci beaucoup, Lise, what about Thanksgiving? “Ooh, that’s tough. I love so many traditional Thanksgiving dishes. When I was a child my favorite thing was the olives. I ate so many one Thanksgiving, my grandmother gave a huge jar of olives for Christmas. Today it’s a toss-up between mashed sweet potatoes (with only butter) and pumpkin cheesecake. I had a favorite bakery for many years where I ordered my pumpkin cheesecake, but my daughter-in-law is making it this year. Yum!”

Freebie For All!
Chelsea Thomas is the writing team of Chelsea and Matthew Thomas, authors of the Apple Orchard Cozy Mysteries with Chelsea Thomas reinventing her life on her Aunt May’s apple orchard and bake shop, but discovering she can bake up a pretty good murder investigation. “I’ll say a few [recipes] are definitely influenced by my mom (the real life Teeny!). My mom has always made incredible cinnamon buns, and we’ve got a GREAT cinnamon bun recipe in the book. Other than that, we let the world around us inspire our recipes. We like the food in our books to be fun and new when possible, so we try to come up with foods that we haven’t necessarily seen before.” But, like anyone who ventures into the kitchen, “little cooking stories” become family treasures. “A couple years ago, I got very interested in baking bread. I got a bread machine, but it was a cheap one and didn’t work right. The bread didn’t rise and never tasted right—could have been my fault, in retrospect. I decided to start baking the bread without a machine. One Thanksgiving our landlady invited us over for dinner. I baked bread to bring. But it got burned so bad I had to cut the bottom crust off! Sadly, I ended up bringing a half loaf of crustless bread. She appreciated it nonetheless. I’ve since gotten much better at baking!”

Cozy Mystery Cookbook earns 5/5 Silver Apple Peelers! “Cozy mysteries are all about the murder…or are the recipes the best part?” This cookbook compiles the nine recipes found in the series, some with apples as a main ingredient like Apple Oaters, KP’s Candy Apples, and Apple Pie Truffles. “There’s something magical about combining just the right ingredients to concoct a crowd-pleasing treat.” Hashbrown Lasagna, which I personally tried and can attest it’s definitely a crowd pleaser, “we made that dish up for the book, then worked backwards to come up with a recipe that worked!” It seems, “Experimentation is the best part of cooking…Tweak them, change them, improve them.” I tried Chelsea’s Cinnamon Buns and added two types of raisins to the dough mixture…delicious! Next time bits of apple! Each recipe begins with a delightful introduction that should not be ignored sharing the author’s personal thoughts and experiences, connections to the characters in their book, and even some tips for success. Suggestion? As Oliver said, “Please sir, I want some more.”

Thank you, Chelsea and Matthew, what about Thanksgiving? “My favorite Thanksgiving recipe is actually a dessert that is featured in book one, Apple Die. It features Apple Oaters, apple cinnamon oatmeal cookies, that are a huge hit at Thanksgiving. That’s another treat we invented for the books and then figured out a recipe later. They are fluffy and delicious and I love to make them!”
Sign Up Link for Cookbook Giveaway Enter email to sign up for their newsletter and receive as a FREE GIFT the Cozy Mystery Cookbook plus an exclusive novella Six Sweets Under!

Freebie For All!
C. A. Phipps writes the delightful Maple Lane Cozy Mystery series starring Madeline Swift, cat-loving, bakery owner, and talented amateur sleuth. “I love to bake and cook, and since I was putting them in my cozy mystery books, it seemed right to make a cookbook from them. I had so many recipes from my mum and my grandmother as well as my husband’s grandmother that are awesome, as well as some friends who were happy to share theirs.” Being a grandmother herself, her grandchildren have joined her in the kitchen, but “it turns out that they enjoy the batter more than the finished product. Especially when chocolate is involved!” I definitely identify!

Madeline Flynn Shares Sugary Secrets earns 5/5 Golden Muffin Tins! This cookbook is a collection of “tried and true recipes from my childhood and beyond, and some are a mish-mash of recipes to fit better to my life.” With a dozen sweet and savory treats directly from Madeline’s kitchen, each one is perfect for any celebration, intimate gathering, or after-dinner treat. These easy-to-follow recipes will give you cookies, pies, bagels, scones, croissants (Fun! Cheat Croissants ideas!), truffles, tarts, and Smoked Salmon Blinis. I decided to start with the Easy Maple Syrup Cookies (I’m one who floats pancakes in maple syrup, so yeah!) to accompany a big pot of tea during a rousing book club discussion. There was some kneading and a 30-minute chill, but these were very “easy” and tasty! I also tried making Bagels…easy and delicious. I added cranberries as my option. Although Maple Lane is set in New York, Cheryl lives in New Zealand, so to better support amateur chefs around the world, she includes metric (grams, Celsius) as well as U.S. Standard measurements (cups, Fahrenheit). So no matter where your kitchen is, from Auckland to Sydney, from London to Paris, from New York to California, you’ll WOW family and friends! Suggestion? I would have loved an intro to each recipe: a personal experience, cultural insights, or fictional connection to the characters in the series.

Thank you, Cheryl, how about Thanksgiving? “We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in New Zealand, and Christmas is in summer so we often have BBQ and salads. But we do have turkey and other cold meats. Dessert is pavlova, invented in New Zealand; it looks like a large meringue covered in cream with strawberries or kiwifruit. As a second generation New Zealander, my mum would also make steamed puddings, and we would share a roast dinner with all the trimmings a few days earlier.”

Bookfunnel Link—Madeline Flynn Shares Sugary Secrets Sign up for C.A. Phipps newsletter and receive this marvelous cookbook as a FREE GIFT.

Preorder Alert!
Jenny Kales created Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries following the totally delightful Greek-American foodie/restauranteur Calliope “Callie” Costas who finds she has a talent for amateur detecting. “I have always wanted to write a cookbook. After the first couple of Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries came out, many readers and reviewers asked if I’d be publishing one. So here it is! This book is also fun because it contains book excerpts as well as new scenes that lead to the next book in the series. Also, just like the Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries, both Greek and classic Midwestern foods have influenced the recipes in the book.” For Jenny, cooking is more than putting a meal on the table. “Cooking for me has always been a way to relax, to be creative and to show love to my family and friends. It’s also a way to delve more deeply into the characters and even further the plot points in the story. Sometimes, before I start writing, I imagine which recipes I will feature, and it inspires scenes and sometimes other twists in the book.”

Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Cookbook earns 5/5 Silver Baking Pans! This cookbook, soon to arrive on December 3, is filled with recipes combining flavors from the Mediterranean with down-home Midwest comfort food! Every mouthwatering recipe found in the series is included along with several new bonus specialties, book excerpts, brand-new scenes, family lore, and kitchen tips from Callie Costas herself. You can channel your own Greek kitchen goddess with such culinary treats like George’s Spanakopita (Spinach-Feta Pie with Phyllo), Kourabiethes (Greek snowball cookies), New Year’s Meat-Leek Pie with Phyllo, Zucchini Fritters with Greek Yogurt Sauce, and My Big (Low) Fat Greek Salad. Also be comforted with these Midwestern favorites: Wisconsin Supper Club Cheese Spread, Callie’s Sour Cherry Pie, and Pumpkin Spice Scones. “I love what the food writer M. F. K. Fisher said about cooking for your loved ones: ‘…one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, with my brain and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.’ I channel this sentiment in my own cooking, and in my character, Callie Costas.” Suggestion? Pick up a copy?

Thank you, Jenny, what about Thanksgiving? “I can’t pick just one [favorite food]. The whole thing! It’s my favorite meal of the year. However, at my mother-in-law’s table, there is usually a spanakopita along with all the other traditional Thanksgiving dishes. And that’s kind of what Callie’s Kitchen is all about.”

As a special preview, enjoy this favorite of the Kales’s daughters; the “real” pastitsio recipe is also included in the cookbook, too.

Speedy Pastitsio
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup macaroni pasta, UNCOOKED
2 cups tomato juice ( I use low-sodium)
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 pound crumbled feta cheese, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Have ready a large, deep skillet with a cover. Warm olive oil in pan and add onion. Cook over medium heat until softened. Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain fat.

Season beef and onion mixture with salt, pepper and dried oregano. Mix well. Add uncooked macaroni and tomato juice to the pan. Stir to mix. Add cinnamon stick, then bring to a boil. Cover pan and reduce heat; simmer on medium-low heat for 18-20 minutes. Check the dish; macaroni should be soft and most of the tomato juice should be absorbed, but the dish should not be too dry.

Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick. Add red wine vinegar and stir to mix. Sprinkle with feta cheese and more oregano if desired. Serves 4

I want to send my sincerest gratitude to my favorite authors for taking the time to indulge me and celebrate food with us…Nancy J. Cohen, Kathi Daley, Karen MacInerney, Lise McClendon, Chelsea Thomas, C. A. Phipps, and Jenny Kales!

To enter to win ebook copies of the FOUR Cozy Author Cookbooks simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Cookbooks,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 7, 2019. You must be 13 or older to enter. If entering via comment please include your email address. You can read our privacy statement here if you like..

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode went up this week!

Opens to author website

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying year 2 of retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband of 26+ years.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. All these cookbooks would be a great addition to my cookbook collection!
    Thank you for the chance to win them!

  2. I love this post! Cozy mystery cookbooks are so awesome. I need to check out all of these. I love Kathi Daley’s cookbook. I have been obsessed with Jenny Kales Callie’s Kitchen. I think I might die waiting for it to appear on my Kindle. Haha. Thank you for the review on the cookbooks. Now I’m hungry.

  3. What a great collection of books! Count me in!

  4. Wow! Those all look amazing. Just think of all the recipes you could make! Thank you for the chance I really like getting recipes in cozies.

  5. What a simply wonderful Giveaway at Thanksgiving. I love to cook and would be thrilled to win these books. Thank you for the chance.

  6. The recipes sound delicious. I love cookbooks. It is nice to have the combination of cooking and mysteries. Thank you

  7. I love cozy mysteries and recipes. The recipes shared sound delicious. Thank you.

  8. Wonderful article! Thanks so much for including my book.

  9. What a lovely giveaway. Actually a dream giveaway for me. I love cookbooks. lindalou64@live.com Linda Semler 480 Freemason Drive Elizabethtown PA 17022

  10. Great timely giveaway, just before the holidays. Thanks for the chance.

  11. Love cookbooks! Thanks for the chance.

  12. I would love to win these cookbooks, please.

  13. Thank you for the chance.

  14. I’d love to win a copy of these cookbooks! My email is somesmartcookle at aol dot com. cookle had an L, not an i.

  15. Thank you for the chance to win this book!

  16. Thanks for the chance!

  17. Beside my love for cozy mysteries, I really enjoy perusing cookbooks. Thanks for the chance to enter your giveaway. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

  18. We have a winner!


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