Today, I welcome as my guest blogger Conda V. Douglas. She is not only sharing a bit of her story but also a wonderful recipe. What fun!
Thank you, Joan, for this opportunity.
Hi everyone. I’m Conda V. Douglas, the author of the Starke Dead cozy mystery series. The first in my series is out now, Starke Raving Dead, where Dora Starke must find a missing heirloom necklace, her recluse father, and a murderer—all the while trying to launch her new business. Busy girl! Next up: Starke Raving Dead, in which Mad Maddie proves the aptness of her name.
Here’s a sample story and recipe from the pages. And don’t forget to head over and pick up your copy of the cookbook, FREE today on Amazon.
Mad Maddie Starke stared down at her menu and frowned in her signature facial expression of pure fury. She stared up at Mama Chin, whose calm gaze didn’t waver a micro inch. Mama Chin knew all about Maddie’s blow and bluster.
Maddie pointed at a word on the daily special on Mama Chin’s Save On Café’s menu. “What the heck is that?”
“It’s quinoa,” Mama Chin said, resisting the overwhelming urge to sigh. She couldn’t resist a shift from aching foot to aching foot. She needed new wait staff. It didn’t work anymore for only her and Paul to try to run the café all on their own. Not with the ski resort successful.
“Keenwah? How do you get that from quinoa? Why isn’t it qwe-noah? Like it’s spelled?”
“I agree totally.”
Maddie’s eyebrows raised high at Mama Chin’s agreeing with her, which almost never happened.
“But, we’ve got to update our menu to sell to our new customer base, you know, the health-nutty skiers?”
Maddie’s eyebrows remained halfway up her forehead. “Do you think I’m a health nut?”
Mama Chin regarded her friend; remembering how Maddie’s favorite meals were meatloaf with gravy, chicken pot pie and bacon and eggs. “Not really.”
“Don’t you have a real food daily special? You know, meatloaf with gravy? Chicken pot pie? Bacon and eggs?”
Now Mama Chin sighed. “No. You can, however, order any of those at the regular price.”
Maddie reared back in her chair. “How many generations have our families known each other? Have the Starkes ever ordered off the regular menu? It’s a matter of pride—”
Mama Chin leaned forward to stop Maddie’s word flood. “And have any of you ever had a bad meal at the Save On Café?”
Maddie wrinkled her brow. “Well, once Great-Grandpa—”
“I can toss any customer out of here, you know.”
Maddie glared. “Okay, okay, I’ll have the quinoa casserole.”
Recipe for Quinoa Casserole
Since the quinoa in this recipe gets baked in the oven, it doesn’t need to be precooked. Instead, it settles into the bottom of the pan and creates the casserole’s crust.
1 teaspoon butter, margarine, olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/4 cup milk or soy, almond or coconut milk (the coconut milk is good with curry spice, instead of the other spices, for an “Indian” Egg Bake)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped thyme (optional)
1 teaspoon sage (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or more if you love pepper)
2 cups packed baby spinach, roughly chopped (or you can use frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, as well)
Or: 2 cups of the vegetables of your choice, green beans, corn, peas, cooked carrots, or a combo all work well. Note: this is a forgiving recipe, but the texture will be a little too chewy if you leave out the vegetables.
1 cup finely shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese or any hard cheese of your choice (may be omitted, but casserole will be a little bland, more like an omelet). Fake cheese, such as soy cheese, doesn’t work well as it tends to not melt and burn.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch x 8-inch glass or metal baking dish with butter; set aside.
Put quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse until cold running water until water runs clear; drain well. (Note: If you don’t rinse the quinoa well, it may be a touch bitter.)
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, the spices you’ve chosen, and quinoa. Stir in spinach or other vegetables then pour mixture into prepared dish. Cover tightly with foil then jiggle dish gently from side to side so that quinoa settles on the bottom in an even layer. Bake until just set, about 45 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle top evenly with cheese. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes more. Set aside to let cool briefly, then slice and serve.
Maddie patted her mouth and then her tummy.
“Well, how was it?” Mama Chin asked.
“I’m so glad I’m always open to new experiences, especially in the realm of good food.” Maddie gave her mouth another prim and somehow smug pat. “And that I’ve decided to eat more healthy.”
Mama Chin crossed her arms over her chest. “First time for everything. So does that mean you’ll tip for the first time?’
Maddie’s shocked expression was her answer.
What fun! I hope you enjoyed our visit from Conda’s Creative Corner. Let’s hear your ideas for quinoa and what you think of Maddie.