Mood Music: Day 2 Alice In Chains

When I first started HIDE FROM EVIL, I knew Sean would have ISSUES . Big ones. Like anger. And guys with anger issues listen to angry music! So when I wrote the scene where he put in his earbuds to drown out the sound of Krista knocking on his door, the band Alice in Chains roared into my head.  So today, please enjoy one of many Alice in Chains songs that helped inspire me to write Sean and Krista’s story.

  • September 14, 2011

Countdown to HIDE FROM EVIL: A Little Mood Music

Hi Everyone,

Hide from Evil will hit the shelves in 43 DAYS!  As we countdown to release day, I thought it would be fun to share the music I listened to while writing this book.  Some of it is very reflective of Krista and Sean’s personalities, some of it is more for setting the mood, and some of it is just stuff I like :).

Since there are 42 songs on my playlist, I’ll be sharing one a day until release day.  Today’s installment:  MOON SONG by the brilliant Patty Griffin.  I’ve heard this song thousands of times, and I still tear up when I hear it. Enjoy!

  • September 13, 2011

Cooking from My Box: Salmon for Hannah

This installment of cooking from my box is dedicated to my niece, Hannah, who asked for an easy delicious salmon recipe and a veggie side to accompany it. I got this recipe years ago from an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef. I can’t find the exact link anymore, but this is a very close if not exact approximation of  the recipe.   I love it because not only delicious and easy, it all cooks on the same sheet pan!

Roasted Salmon with Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes (serves 4)

4 6 oz (give or take) salmon filets
1 lb green beans, ends trimmed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c pitted, chopped kalamata olives (omit if you don’t care for olives, or use any other olive you like)
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper and lay filets down one side of a large sheet pan. Green beans, tomatoes, garlic, and olives with olive oil, and spread evenly down the other side of the pan. Sprinkle veggies with salt and pepper.
Roast salmon and veggies in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until salmon is cooked but still moist and vegetables are lightly charred.

  • September 9, 2011

This Week In Cooking From My Box: Chile Rellenos

Okay, once again I’m forced to admit that this week’s recipe was not, in fact, inspired by either my box o produce or my box o meat.  It was, however, inspired by my new obsession, chile rellenos.


Until fairly recently, I only knew chile rellenos as things stuffed with cheese, dipped in batter and deep fried. Don’t get me wrong – that’s awesome.  But the fatty deep fried cheesiness is enough to classify it as a “sometime” food in the best of cases. Plus it’s not something I’m going to regularly recreate on my own. Deep frying at home is a pain in the ass – I always end up finding crusted bits of batter for months after, not to mention that I find having a cauldron of boiling oil on my stove unnerving, to say the least.

Then, on a trip to New Mexico, I tried the chile relleno at one of our favorite food stops. I was looking forward cheesy fried goodness. Instead, I received something similar to this picture.  A roasted chile stuffed with an amazing mixture of sauteed onion, corn, and mushrooms, topped with melted Monterey Jack and the world’s best red and green chile sauces. Without the batter, the flavor of the chile really came through, and there was just enough cheese to make me feel like I was indulging, but not so much that I left feeling like I needed to do about four hundred laps around the house.

In that moment I had a revelation: I can stuff a roasted chile with ANYTHING (except maybe marshmallows. that would be gross, but if that’s your thing, go with it!), and top it with cheese and my favorite salsa, chile sauce, enchilada sauce, mole sauce… the possibilities are endless.

It’s a great option for entertaining – you can all of the prep work ahead of time, and you can make meat and veg options very easily. Which is what I did last night, when we had some friends over. Wife is vegetarian, husband is omnivorous, as are my husband and myself.

Now I’m not going to lie: it does require a little overhead because you have to prepare the chiles and make the fillings. But if you love Mexican and Southwestern fare but crave a slightly lighter meal, you’ll really enjoy this.  So without further ado, here are recipes for my chile rellenos with vegetarian and chicken sausage filling.

First step, prepare the chiles. You will need 8 pasilla pepper. If you can’t find pasilla peppers, you can use anaheim chiles, but they’re smaller and narrower and a bit harder to handle.

To prepare the chiles, roast them until all sides are dark and blistered. You can do this on the grill, under the broiler, or, if you have a gas cooktop, like this.  Once the chiles are roasted, put them in a plastic bag or other airtight container and let them steam.  This is the perfect time to prepare the filling.

Once the peppers have steamed for at least 10 minutes, peel off the outer charred skin. It’s okay if you don’t get everything off, but the goal is to pull most of the dark blistered parts from the chiles.  Then, using a knife, or, I like to use my thumb, split the pepper down one side and remove the seeds. IMPORTANT: you don’t want to cut the chile in half – the goal is to open the chile on one side to create a pocket for the filling. Kind of like making a pepper pita.

Once you’ve discarded the seeds, place the pepper on an oiled baking sheet where they can wait to be stuffed with veggie or meaty goodness!

Vegetarian Filling:

2 T olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1/2 cup diced mushrooms

1 cup corn fresh corn kernels

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

4 oz goat cheese

shredded monterey jack or cheddar to top

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, cook until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, zucchini and salt.  Cook until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add corn, cumin, oregano, and pepper. Stir in goat cheese until melted. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, and spices as desired.

Chicken Sausage filling

2 T olive oil

1/2 lb green chile chicken sausage *

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup your favorite tomato based salsa

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

shredded monterey jack or cheddar to top

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, cook until soft. Remove sausage from casings and cook until browned, stirring to break up meat.  Once meat is almost cooked through, 5-7 minutes, add garlic, cumin, oregano and salsa.  Cook 2-3 more minutes until most of the liquid from the salsa has cooked off.

Now, fill your chiles!

Heat oven to 35o degrees. Spoon filling into the chiles (it’s okay if they don’t look as pretty as the picture!), top with shredded  cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Top with your favorite chile sauce, salsa, or mole, and enjoy.

* I got these sausages from Whole Foods in Santa Fe. I realize most of the world is not as obsessed with green chiles as New Mexico. So if you can’t find these sausages, I recommend mixing 1/2 lb ground turkey (please don’t get all white meat or your filling will be dry and tasteless!) mix with tsp salt, 1 tsp each garlic and onion powder, and 1 can fire roasted green chiles.

  • August 22, 2011


Krista Slater hasn’t seen Sean Flynn since the day she got him released from death row. Since she was the one to put him there in the first place, she knows Sean will be anything but happy to see her. Too bad recent events have driven her to his door, in search of the key that will unravel a conspiracy that goes deeper than either of them could ever have imagined.

There at the end of the drive was Sean’s cabin, a small but sturdy looking log structure with a porch that wrapped around it, with seats on the east-facing side to take advantage of the breathtaking view. A stream of silvery smoke piped up from the metal chimney on top.
On the other side of the cabin was a huge metal shed with an ancient blue pickup truck parked out front. Krista followed the thunk-crack sound to the back of the shed, and as she rounded the corner she stopped dead as Sean Flynn came into view.
The thunk-crack was from the ax he wielded as he split firewood on top of a thick stump. Impervious to the chill of the mountain air, he’d stripped off his shirt, and Krista’s mouth went dry as his muscles rippled and bunched with the steady swing of the ax. The tattoo on the inside of his right forearm undulated as his big hand gripped the handle. The skin of his back and shoulders was a deep burnished tan, and as Krista took a step closer she tracked a bead of sweat as it rolled down the deep groove of his spine to the waistband of the jeans hanging off his narrow hips.
Oblivious to her presence, he tossed the wood onto the growing pile and bent to grab another thick log. Krista couldn’t stop herself from staring at the hard line of his glutes flexing against the soft denim.
Heat curled in her belly and rose in her cheeks. She forced an image of Jimmy Caparulo’s bloody headboard into her brain. She was here to talk to Sean, not ogle him, and hopefully get some much-needed answers in the process.
She cleared her throat to get his attention, and it was hard not to gape all over again when she was hit with the full force of Sean’s piercing green stare. He really was an amazing specimen of masculine beauty. Krista had been struck by it from the beginning, but it was easy to ignore when she believed he was guilty of brutally raping and murdering a woman.
Then, his chiseled features and black Irish beauty had made him all the more repulsive, as she’d convinced herself he’d used his good looks to charm Evangeline Gordon into trusting him, paving the way to her doom. Now that she knew beyond a reasonable doubt he was innocent…she was anything but repulsed.
After several seconds she realized his full lips were moving and she forced herself to focus.
“What the hell are you doing here?” he said, dark eyebrows drawn tight over the bridge of his nose.
Krista kept her gaze locked on his face, not on the arrow of dark hair that bisected what had to be an eight-pack ridging his abdomen. She held out the stack of catalogs. “Mail call.”
The green eyes narrowed, and Krista could feel the hostility radiating off him. “You didn’t come all the way here to deliver my mail.” His grip tightened around the ax handle, and Krista’s skin prickled. She knew in her gut Sean wouldn’t hurt her. Still, she was out in the middle of nowhere with a man who hated her. And he was holding an ax.
Krista took a step back and rolled onto the balls of her heels in case she needed to run. Maybe cornering Sean on his own turf wasn’t such a bright idea after all.
Her tension uncoiled a notch when Sean leaned the ax against the stump and reached for the shirt draped across the back of a plastic lawn chair.
Krista bit back a sigh when the muscles disappeared under a layer of blue-and-black flannel. “You’re right. I wanted to talk to you.”
“You didn’t need to come all the way out here.”
“I called. Several times.”
“Maybe you should have taken the hint when I didn’t call back.”
He turned his back and started stacking the logs against the side of the cabin, underneath the overhang of the metal roof.
Krista moved closer and picked up the scent of clean sweat and wood smoke emanating from him. “I assume you’ve heard about Jimmy Caparulo?”
Sean froze for a second and then resumed stacking. “Megan called me right after it happened.” He shook his head. “Goddamn crazy Jimmy,” he muttered, but Krista could hear the catch in his voice.
“What if I told you I’m not sure it was a suicide?”
He straightened and pinned her with a hard stare. “What are you talking about?”
“I spoke to Jimmy the afternoon before he died,” Krista said. She was close enough to see the bump on the bridge of Sean’s nose from where it had been broken. She didn’t remember him having it during the trial. It must have been another souvenir from prison. She watched him closely, gauging his reaction to her news. “He told me he had information about Nate Brewster, but he couldn’t tell anyone before because Nate threatened to hurt Jimmy’s aunt if he told. I was supposed to meet with him Wednesday night, but he never showed. When I went to his house, I found out he was dead.”
“And you think someone killed him to keep him quiet?” Sean raised a skeptical brow.
Krista shrugged. “It seems like kind of a crazy coincidence, don’t you think?” She could read nothing in Sean’s stare. “Any idea what he wanted to tell me?”
Sean shrugged. “I have no idea.”
“When he talked to me, he said he should have said something sooner, that it would have helped you.”
His mouth pulled tight, and Krista fought the urge to smooth the deep lines that grooved his cheeks. “He sure as hell could have helped me by not testifying at my trial, but he’s a good three years too late for that.” He blew out a frustrated breath. “Jimmy was messed up. He saw some things…We all saw some things…” Sean’s voice trailed off and his gaze blurred, became that thousand-mile stare. The look of a man who was there but not there, too caught up in the horror replaying in his head to see what was in front of him.
He shook his head to clear it and ran a hand through his dark hair. It had grown beyond the short buzz he’d worn in prison, long enough to wave a little as the sweat dried. “I’m sure Jimmy thought he knew a lot of things, but I guarantee it was just paranoid ramblings. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some work I need to finish up.”
Krista reached out and grabbed his arm as he went to turn away. Corded muscles rippled under her fingers, the heat from his skin singeing her palm. She snatched her hand back as an electric buzz pulsed through her body. “I don’t think Brewster was acting alone when he framed you and killed those women,” she said.
Sean folded his arms across his chest. “One phone call from Jimmy told you that?”
“No. But Brewster’s computer was tampered with after he was killed and before the police seized it. We could tell files had been deleted, but so far no one has been able to restore them.” She pulled out another copy of the bank statement Benson had blown off. “And two days ago the investigator I’ve been working with found this.”
Sean’s eyes narrowed as she pointed out the correlation between some of the large deposits and the other murders.
“Nate was a sick bastard, and who knows, maybe he was working for hire. But even if that’s true, what does that have to do with me?”
Krista drew back. Even when she’d been convinced Sean was evil incarnate, she’d never thought him thick. “Other people might have been involved in covering up for Nate after he framed you for Evangeline’s murder. Doesn’t that matter to you?”
“I’m out of prison and the man who tried to kill my sister is dead. That’s all I care about.” But the cold, closed look on his face was that of a man who didn’t care about much of anything at all. “If what you think is true, I’m sure the cops are more than capable of getting to the truth of it.” Was that a note of sarcasm in Sean’s voice?
“They’re not investigating, and that’s the problem,” Krista said, irritated that she had to tilt her head back so far to look him in the eye. “You’re the only link I know of between Nate and Jimmy, and if there’s any chance—”
Sean cut her off. “I don’t know anything. And even if I did, the last thing I want to do is dig all that shit up again. Now, I’d really appreciate it if you’d leave.”
Krista shook her head like she wasn’t sure she’d heard him right. “If I’m right, the people working with Brewster are still out there, getting away with it, getting away with hurting Jimmy—”
“People get away with shit all the time,” Sean said coldly. “And innocent people take the heat for things they don’t do. You know that as well as I do.”
That arrow hit her straight in the chest and exploded on impact. “Then you should want to make this right as much as I do.”
Sean shook his head. “If you need to clear your conscience, that’s your problem. I just want to get on with my life and forget the last three years ever happened.”
Ignoring her protests, Sean turned his back and walked to the shed. Krista followed after him, cursing as her foot hit a stray log that hadn’t made it into the woodpile. “Sean, wait.” She tried to catch him as he went through the door. The door slammed in her face with a metal clank, followed by the snick of a bolt sliding home.
She tried the door. Sure enough, the bastard had locked her out. She pounded the metal wall with her fist, cursing as pain radiated up her arm. A second later she heard the high-pitched whine of some kind of power tool surging to life.
She knocked and kicked for several more minutes but got no response.
She gave the door one last kick and slumped down onto the stump, weighing her options. Sean Flynn thought she’d give up so easily? He must have forgotten who he was dealing with.

  • August 10, 2011

This week In Cooking from My Box…

Okay, I have to come clean. I didn’t really cook from my box this week, since we’ve been traveling and that means all of our awesome food deliveries are on hold. But after a week of conference food followed by a week of being spoiled by my mom, I found myself seriously craving some healthy eats. So tonight it was teriyaki chicken skewers accompanied by this awesome Tomato and Tomatillo Gazpacho, the recipe for which I found on

  • 1/2 pound fresh tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion, divided
  • 1 fresh serrano chile, coarsely chopped, including seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Puree tomatillos, half of tomatoes, and half of onion with chile, garlic, vinegar, and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt in a blender until smooth.

    Force through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.

    Stir in remaining tomatoes and onion, water, oil, and cilantro. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours

    Note – you can add chopped avocado and/or shrimp or crab meat to make it a little more filling.

    • July 11, 2011

    RWA Wrap up coming soon!

    After an action packed week trolling the bar with my buddies and scoring free wine at industry sponsored parties, RWA 11 in NY is now over and I’m packing up and getting ready to go visit my parents.  While I was not the shutterbug that I was last year, check back here in the next couple days for some pics and a quick recap of my personal highlights.

    Now, off to score one of those mega giant soft pretzels from a street vendor. If you see someone wandering around Grand Central station later, so puffy and bloated she looks like the stay puft marshmallow man, that’ll be me.

    • July 2, 2011

    Cooking From My Box: New (and let’s face it probably only) Regular Blog Feature

    As I mentioned in my turnip post, I love food. I lovelovelove it. I’m one of those people who finishes breakfast and thinks about what she’s going to have for lunch.  And about 5 minutes after lunch, I’m fantasizing about dinner. I also love to cook, and I’m so lucky to live in Northern California where we have an abundance of amazing ingredients to choose from.

    A couple of years ago I signed up for an organic produce delivery service that delivers a box of fruits and vegetables to my door every week. Then this year, I also decided to sign up for a meat CSA, which means I get a box of grass fed, free range, pasture raised protein – beef, lamb, goat, and poultry.  It’s an assortment every month, and you never know exactly what you’re going to get.

    In any case, I get a lot of meat in my box. (hehehe)

    So now the bulk of my groceries arrives in 2 different boxes. Hence the inspiration for Cooking From My Box.

    Every month I get 5 pounds of ground meat in my box, so this week I’m sharing my new favorite use for ground pork.  If you’ve eaten at PF Chang, you’ll recognize it as a riff on their chicken lettuce cups.  But instead of iceberg lettuce, I like a sturdier romaine leaf, and I also like to serve siracha sauce on the side.  If you don’t have/don’t want ground pork, use ground turkey or finely chopped chicken instead.  But if you use poultry, skip the step where you drain the meat after cooking. And if you want to give the recipe some extra spice, mince 1 jalapeno pepper and add with the scallions, garlic, and ginger.

    Asian Pork in Lettuce Cups


    1 lb ground pork

    1 T sesame oil

    2 scallions, chopped fine

    1/2 can water chestnuts, chopped fine

    1 T minced ginger

    1 T minced Garlic

    3 T soy sauce

    1 T rice wine vinegar (if you don’t have rice wine vinegar, substitute any vinegar but balsamic)

    2 T brown suger

    1 head romaine lettuce, separated into leaves (tip – Trader Joe’s sells whole romaine leaves prewashed and bagged)

    heat a wok or saute pan to medium high heat. Cook pork until browned. Transfer pork into colander and let the fat drain (ground pork has major fat content and will turn your lettuce wraps into grease slicks if you don’t drain it.) Combine soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and brown sugar in a small bowl and set aside.  Add sesame oil to pan and let it heat, add chestnuts, scallions, ginger, and garlic. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly so garlic and ginger don’t burn.  Add pork back to pan, stir to combine.  Add soy sauce mixture and stir to combine.  Let sauce cook 2-3 minutes, until sauce is cooked down and slightly thickened.  Serve with lettuce leaves and spicy sriracha sauce on the side.




    • June 21, 2011

    And the Winner is….


    I’m sorry Lanae and Liz, but with the mercury hitting 90+ over here I had to go for the recipe that didn’t require any additional heat. Plus, I am a sucker for slaw.

    Poppy, email me your snail mail addy and I’ll get the book to you presently 🙂

    • June 21, 2011