Scalloped Potatoes for St. Paddy’s Day!

Who needs boring old boiled potatoes when you can drench your spuds in butter, coat them with cheese, and bake them to crispy, melty deliciousness? This dish–featured in THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (in stores May 2nd; pre-order now!)–is such a crowd-pleaser that the last time I served it at a dinner party, my guests were sneaking back into the kitchen for second and third helpings.

DOWNLOAD THE PRINTABLE RECIPE CARD HERE.

 

The richness of this recipe calls for really good cheese. I like the nuttiness of Gruyere, plus the saltiness of freshly grated Parmesan. None of that pre-grated stuff from the green can, please!

Enjoy! And Happy St. Patrick’s Day one and all!

Hugs,
MKA

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Chocolate Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis

My recipe for Chocolate Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis is such a simple sweet treat to add to your Valentine’s Day supper. In fact, it’s featured on the “Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Dinner” menu in THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (coming May 2nd!).

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While it may sound like a very fancy-Nancy recipe, it’s really quite simple—sort of an Italian chocolate pudding make without the egg yolks, topped with a fast and delicious fresh strawberry sauce. Feel free to use any other berry that floats your gondola, though. I find those cute little glass custard cups at nearly every estate sale I go to, so I usually make my panna cotta in those,but it would also be pretty served in a wine glass or champagne coupes. Okay, let’s be honest, it would taste just as good if you just left it in the bowl you prepared it in and passed around long-handled spoons. But that doesn’t sound very romantic, now does it? Here’s the recipe card. Enjoy!

MKA Recipe Whim 2

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Jeanne’s Chicken Enchilada Dip–A Super Bowl Treat!

The crowd-pleasing recipe for “Jeanne’s Chicken Enchilada Dip” that’s in my new book, THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (coming May 2, 2017 from St. Martin’s Press), is the absolute perfect dish for your Super Bowl party next weekend. (Go, Falcons!)

This dip is named for my sister-in-law Jeanne, who is the appetizer queen.

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Jeanne never arrives at any family function without a cooler full of appetizers. One constant is this addictive cream cheese and chicken-based dip. And it is always the superstar at any get-together. In fact, it’s so beloved that she now brings a tub for each of her nephews to call his own. Covered and refrigerated, it stores well for up to a week. Be sure to choose sturdy tortilla chips to scoop up all the goodness!

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Chicken Enchilada Dip…and Me on TV!

In celebration of the Atlanta Falcons playing the Seahawks tomorrow (Sat 1/14) in the NFL playoffs, I’m making a television appearance today on the local Atlanta CBS46 show Atlanta Plugged In to showcase the perfect dip for your football parties. I spent some time running around yesterday to prep for this cooking segment and was up early today getting fluffed.

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In the segment, I’ll be sharing a recipe for Jeanne’s Chicken Enchilada Dip from my new book, THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (coming May 2, 2017 from St. Martin’s Press). This recipe is such a crowd-pleaser and perfect for your tailgate (for those lucky enough to be going to the Georgia Dome!), your home football watching parties…or really any gathering of hungry party people.

My sister-in-law Jeanne never arrives at any family function without a cooler full of appetizers, and this addictive cream cheese and chicken-based dip is always the superstar at any get-together. Covered and refrigerated, it stores well for up to a week. Be sure to choose sturdy tortilla chips to scoop up all the goodness!

Here’s a peek at the recipe. If you’re local to Atlanta tune in to CBS43 at 12:30PM to catch me on your TV! Oh, and go, Falcons!

MKA Recipe Whim 1 1

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Andy’s Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Streusel

Tonight (Tues 11/22/16) at 8:00pm Eastern, join me on my Facebook page for a Facebook Live video demo on how to make this delish pumpkin pie which will be featured in THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK (coming May 2, 2017). Want to mix it up a little bit this Thanksgiving and have your pumpkin pie with a lil’ somethin’ extra?! Well, this preparation–my son Andy’s favorite–with gingersnap streusel topping is easy as, well, as pie! Here’s the recipe, which makes 2 pies. Enjoy…and Happy Thanksgiving! xoxo MKA

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INGREDIENTS:

2 pie crusts, home-made, or store-bought
1 15oz can (about 2 cups; 450g) pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1 15 oz. can pumpkin pie filling
1 and 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

 

 

FOR THE GINGERSNAP CRUMBLE TOPPING:
1 cup all purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar (packed)
16 gingersnap cookies (or 4 oz), crushed
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
½ cup butter (melted)

For the pumpkin pie filling: Beat the pumpkin, 3 eggs, and brown sugar together until combined. Add the evaporated milk, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and mix until everything is combined.

Preheat oven to 425°F (190°C)

Pour pumpkin pie filling into the crust. Only fill the crust about 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 15 minutes, then top with the gingersnap crumble mixture and decrease oven temperature to 350. Bake the pie until the center is almost set, about 55-60 minutes give or take. A small part of the center will be wobbly – that’s ok. After 25 minutes of baking, be sure to cover the edges of the crust with aluminum foil or use a pie crust shield to prevent the edges from getting too brown. Check for doneness at minute 50, and then 55, and then 60, etc.

Once done, transfer the pie to a wire rack and allow to cool completely for at least 3 hours.

Cooking Up A New Book

The Beach House by Mary Kay Andrews

I like to cook. I like to eat. I like to entertain. And I’ve been known to scribble a line or two. Or two million. That’s why it seemed like a no-brainer that I should write a cookbook. So I did!

Drumroll:

On May 2, 2017, St. Martins’ Press will publish THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK By MARY KAY ANDREWS!

Here’s the concept:
You do not have to own a beach house to cook like you’re at the beach. You don’t actually even have to be at the beach. The recipe for beach house cooking, to me, is nothing more than easy, accessible, fresh, tasty dishes. Long on taste and enjoyment, short on stress or mess.

Seaside suppers have been a tradition for as long as I can remember. As a child growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida in the 1960s, my family of seven “summered” at a mom and pop cottage court called Ocee Villas right on the Gulf of Mexico. Our “villa” was a two bedroom, one-bath concrete block box with a kitchen equipped with little more than a stove, a sink and an apartment-sized fridge. There was no money to dine out, so my mother managed to work miracles in that tiny kitchen. Every night, the seven of us, sun burnt and ravenous from a day spent on the beach, would crowd around a rickety formica-topped table and feast on her home-cooked dinners; pot roasts and spaghetti, fried chicken, steaks grilled by my dad, and always, desserts. On weekends our numbers would swell as friends and relatives dropped in at dinner time. Those were some of the best summers of our lives.

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After I married and we had children, Mr. MKA and I would rent modest coastal cottages in Florida and Georgia. Eventually, we came to buy and restore two beach cottages of our own, on Tybee Island, just outside Savannah. The first thing we did at The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide was demolish and install new kitchens.

griffnmollybakingAnd then we started to cook. Because we actually like to cook. Especially at the beach. Mr. MKA and our son Andy (aka Boomerang Boy) are dedicated fishermen who love to clean and cook their catch. We specialize in impromptu dinners, calling our Tybee neighbors at the drop of a hat (or a bushel of fresh-caught blue crabs) to join us around our big farmhouse table.

On a night when Tom and Andy return home with redfish or flounder, we’ll batter and fry those fillets and turn them into fish tacos with the addition of sweet and sour cole slaw. Or on a morning with a crowd of Andy’s friends gathered, I’ll task the guys with peeling and deveining shrimp for a shrimp and grits breakfast. Served with a side of fresh fruit salad, or maybe cinnamon roll bread pudding.

For those special winter weekends when the whole family is on hand, I prepare a hearty black bean soup or homemade mac n’ cheese, alongside a romaine, grapefruit and strawberry salad, topped off with apple crisp. And always, when grandchildren Molly and Griffin are in residence, there is baking; oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for ice cream sandwiches, carrot cake at Easter, and a family favorite, congo bars.

quickpicklesThe Beach House Cookbook is filled with recipes for those kinds of dishes, and for those special occasions that have become our family traditions at the beach, and even staples after we return to our full-time home in Atlanta. Although many recipes were longtime family favorites, writing the book gave me the incentive to stretch my culinary wings and come up with lots of delicious new concepts. (Talking ’bout you, Frozen Key Lime Bars. And you, Mr. Beachy Ceviche. And my grandma’s Quick Pickles, aka Quickles) Not to mention the fact that after several decades of trying, I finally mastered the art of making biscuits from scratch. Let’s not talk about how many batches of biscuits I forced family and friends (and dogs) to taste test.

keylimepie_cropmarksI would say that the majority of these recipes are as easy as pie. But pie, at least making a decent pie crust, is hard. Which is why, for the time being, I still cheat and use store-bought crust.

In fact, lots of the recipes in THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK take advantage of kitchen hacks; like using pre-trimmed steamer bags of vegetables and jazzed-up pantry staples. Because to me, the whole point of being at the beach is to spend as much time as possible with loved ones, while still preparing meals everybody will rave over.

Working on the cookbook with a talented team consisting of photo stylist Elizabeth Demos, photographer Mary Britton Senseney and food stylist/recipe writer Ashley Strickland was a joy.

failed-piesThey took my recipes, tweaked them, propped them, shot them and made them look so gorgeous you’ll want to lick the page when you see the finished product. (Not that I’ve ever done anything like that).

They even photographed me–primped and polished, wearing THREE layers of Spanx in August, in Savannah, for the cover of the cookbook. See how I give and give, people?

In the end, I hope you’ll agree that all the hard work, Spanx (and the 15 extra pounds I gained) were worth the effort. And if not, well, at least I learned to bake biscuits.

I can’t wait to finally share THE BEACH HOUSE COOKBOOK with you in the spring. In the meantime, you can pre-order your copies now via all major online retailers. The buy links are next to the book shot on the home page of my website. Order your copies now and you’ll have them in plenty of time for Mother’s Day 2017.

 

 

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Q&A WITH MKA: Book Tours Explained

As I start the third week of book signings for my new book, THE WEEKENDERS, I’m struck by how interested readers are in the mechanics of a book tour. For me, hitting the road to do signings and meet booksellers and fans is one of my favorite parts of being an author—it’s the dessert after a particularly challenging entrée; i.e. writing the damn book. So I thought I’d sit down and explain my answers to the most frequently asked questions.

  1. Who arranges a book tour? Your agent? Editor? Minions?
    This can vary within publishing houses, but generally speaking, the publicity department, along with input from the marketing department, and the author, and sometimes her editor and agent, come up with bookstores and towns for the tour. Many times, bookstores, through publisher’s sales representatives, will request an author event. Sometimes local libraries, schools, universities, or community organizations will reach out to publishers to request a visit from an author. In my own case, several months before my new book’s publication, I meet with the publicity and marketing team at St. Martin’s Press, and we start planning where my tour will take me. Because I’ve been around the block a few times (THE WEEKENDERS is my 24th novel!), my publicist usually has a list of requests from bookstores. We also take into account the setting of my novel when planning a tour. Since THE WEEKENDERS is set off the coast of North Carolina, in addition to my usual haunts, this year’s tour is taking me to Raleigh, the Outer Banks, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Asheville, and Highlands, NC. Last year’s book, BEACH TOWN was set in a small Florida fishing village, so I did signings in Tampa, St. Pete (my hometown), Jacksonville, and Vero Beach.

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    I got a warm welcome at Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach, DE.
  2. Who pays?
    Not me! My publisher pays all my expenses and makes all the travel arrangements.

    Here I am in Duck, NC visiting with longtime Nags Head resident Nancy Rascoe, who was so helpful when I was researching my book, SUMMER RENTAL.
    Here I am in Duck, NC visiting with longtime Nags Head resident Nancy Rascoe at Duck’s Cottage, who was so helpful when I was researching my book, SUMMER RENTAL.
  3. How long does a book tour last?
    It varies with each book, but this year, I’ll be on and off the road for roughly six weeks over the course of the summer, with an itinerary that takes up 26 typewritten pages. Generally speaking, I’ll travel for five or six days at a time, return home for a few days (to do my laundry and kiss my husband and remind him what I look like) before going back out on the road.

    FairHope
    Here’s the great crowd at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL, one of my favorite bookstores and a frequent stop for me while touring.
  4. Does your husband go with you on tour?
    God, no! And I never accompany him on business trips. Although I personally find book tours enjoyable, this truly is a professional obligation. I’m rarely in a town for more than 24 hours, so there’s little time for socializing or sightseeing. (Although I sometimes sneak in a little retail therapy.) Besides, Mr. MKA prefers doing his own thing and pining after me while I’m away. (Or so he claims.)

    ReBankRetailTherapy
    I did have time for a little retail therapy in Red Bank, NJ where there is an awesome downtown. I was able to get a quick blowout and get my FitBit cranking making up some steps after a long drive before my event with River Road Books that evening.
  5. How do you travel? Do you have a chauffeured limo? Do you get to fly first class?
    Bwahahahahahaha. That’s me spewing cheap chardonnay out my nostrils. Tragically, there is no liveried driver. No bodyguard, no official valet or lady’s maid, or armed escort. And there is definitely no first class. Sob. It’s just lil’ ole me, flying coach if my destination is more than half a day’s drive, and then driving a rental car to my final destination.

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    Spotting my book in airport bookstores is one of may favorite book tour pastimes. Here’s THE WEEKENDERS at the Pittsburgh airport.
  6. Why don’t you ever do book signings in (a)Vermont (b)North Dakota (c)Utah?
    My publisher sends me places where there’s a proven readership for my novels, or where stores have clamored for me. I personally adore North Dakota and Utah, as well as many parts of Vermont, (although not necessarily in the winter) so if you are a reader who lives in those places, or any place where I haven’t been on a recent book tour, here’s how you can remedy that. (1) Buy my book from your local independent bookseller, and if they don’t carry it, annoy the hell out of them until they do. (2) Get your book club, friends, co-workers, and family members to do the same thing. But, remember, the above two plans only work if you make it a habit to buy print books, and locally, from that bookstore. Although my books are carried at big box chains and wholesale clubs nationwide, those stores rarely host book signings, and frankly, they really just want to sell you discount tires and five-pound jars of peanut butter. (3) If you’re a member of a large, non-profit organization, say the Junior League, or a hospital auxiliary, I frequently do ticketed luncheon and dinner speaking events, where my books are sold during the event. You can email my marketing genius, Meg Walker, at [email protected] to get the details about that. (4) If you don’t have a local bookstore, (or even if you do) ask your local library to order my books. Lobby for them to invite me to appear in your community to give a talk and book-signing. To do this, you’ll have to be able to prove to them that such an event would be wildly successful, i.e., attract more than just you and your bff.

    MysteryLovers
    Here’s the awesome crowd at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA.
  7. Here’s where I explain a little bit about how the retail book business works.
    Hosting a book signing event can be an expensive and time- and labor-intensive affair for bookstores. They have to convince a publisher’s sales rep that they can sell enough of my book to make the expense of sending me there worthwhile. They probably have to have a proven track record of hosting successful book events. They’ll have to order enough copies of my NEW book, plus copies of my most recent titles (this is called backlist) to make the trip worthwhile. In addition to ordering all those books, they have to pay the cost of shipping. And they have to be responsible for promoting the event through advertising and social media. They also have to staff the event with extra help, and if they hold the signing off-site, say at a local restaurant, they pay for that too. So it’s a risky business, to say the least.

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    The launch party in Atlanta hosted by FoxTale Book Shoppe is always my biggest event. Here’s the piles of books and swag bags ready and waiting for my beloved readers to arrive.
  8. Now here’s the part where I risk offending loyal readers.
    As an extreme extrovert, I love meeting and greeting my fans. It’s a huge ego boost when I walk into a bookstore and see a line of friendly faces. But here’s the thing, folks. Bookstores need to sell books and other stuff, like calendars, greeting cards, etc., in order to stay in business. If you want them to remain in your community (and you should, because bookstores are a vital part of our culture), you have to actually put your money where your mouth is. I realize you can buy my books cheaper at those online retailers, big box stores, and discount clubs. And if price is the most important thing to you, I understand. But it’s really NOT NICE to show up at a book signing at ANY store, toting a book you bought someplace else, expecting me to sign it. It’s kind of the equivalent of taking a McDonald’s bag into a fine restaurant and plopping down at a table and proceeding to eat your Quarter-Pounder with their silverware, china and linen. You wouldn’t do that, right? Of course not! If you are a fan of my books, you are, by my definition anyway, a NICE person.

    Rehoboth
    What’s better than enjoying an icy cocktail with readers in a beach town bookstore? No much. Thanks, Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, DE!

Okay, class dismissed. Next time, we’ll talk about where I get my book ideas.

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On The Road Again

Save The Date goes on sale at midnight tonight, and that means just one thing–I’m on the road again! People always ask me what is my favorite thing about writing, and the answer, unfailingly, is meeting my readers. They welcome me, inspire me, hug my neck and comment on new hairdo. What’s better than that?

We had an amazing party in Atlanta last night to celebrate the launch of my 23rd novel, and now, the party rolls on. If we did book tour T-shirts like rock n’ roll tours, mine would have to be an XXL to list all my tour stops. Briefly, it reads like this, Savannah, Charleston, Raleigh, Pawley’s Island, Greenville, S.C., Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, New Jersey, Conn., Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Fairhope AL., Nashville, St. Simons Island, and Savannah again.

If you live anywhere near my tour stops, I hope you’ll come out to meet me, party, hug my neck–and comment on my new hairdo. Y’all come!

In the meantime, here are some pics from last night’s shindig…

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Have You Saved the Date Yet?

NC309_CRcard_NOTESI know, it’s been months since I posted here. I bet you thought I was still down in Florida, sunnin’ and funnin’. Or maybe you thought I’d taken the winter off to go junking. I wish! Instead, I’ve been hard at work putting the finishing touches on SAVE THE DATE, which publishes June 3. We have all kinds of fun promotional opportunities for my fans, including this bribe, I mean, offer, from our fab friends at Anna Griffin. Pre-order SAVE THE DATE from your favorite bookseller by the deadline of May 23, and fill out this form HERE, and we’ll enter you to win one of 250 sets of this lovely Anna Griffin stationery. The pattern is called Olivia and the box includes 20 flat cards with coordinating lined envelopes–a retail value of $18.

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In the meantime, my life never seems to slow down. But in a good way. I’ll be doing a brown bag lunch and lecture in Savannah next Weds. April 16 at a fun new venue called Cohen’s Retreat. We’ll spend Easter with the family on Tybee at Ebbtide, then I’ll bunny hop my way down to Tampa to sign books on Thurs. April 24 at the Southern Living Custom Builder Showcase Home. On Monday, June 28, I’ll be the luncheon speaker at the Morton Plant Mease Foundation’s Planters Spring Luncheon at the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach. Given the fact that my late sister Susie was a 30-year career hospital nurse, I was so pleased to know that funds raised at the charity luncheon will go towards scholarships for nursing students.

On Apr. 29, LADIES’ NIGHT will release in paperback–just in time for your spring trips to the beach. And on May 2, I’ll be the luncheon speaker at the Polo Women’s Club in Cumming, GA.

Stay tuned to my Facebook page for news coming soon about our annual Mother’s Day recipe card giveaway.

And did I mention, you should totally pre-order SAVE THE DATE here? Maybe get one for mom while you’re at it.

Happy Spring, y’all!

Snow Place Like the Beach in January

I am pregnant with book. Over-due with book. This summer’s book was due months ago, but sometimes, that’s how I roll. So I ran away to write. Not to Tybee, my normal runaway destination, but farther south. All the way to Anna Maria Island, Florida. Anna Maria, you may remember, was the setting for LADIES’ NIGHT. I was so charmed by this low-key island paradise, I decided to come back to work on SAVE THE DATE. Mr. MKA and I arrived in early January. I graciously allowed him to stay here for a few days, and then escorted him to the airport. Three whole weeks of writing! Three weeks of solitude. And it’s been amazing. Even if the weather hasn’t been.

Here’s what I saw on one of my first beach walks.

Anna Maria Island beach birds
Anna Maria Island beach birds

If I could paint, this is what I would paint. But I can’t, so I guess I’m stuck with writing. Good thing I love it. Back to the weather. I was hoping for warm, sunny weather, because I love to take long walks to clear my head after hours of writing. What I mostly got was chilly, over-cast, and chilly mixed with rainy. But since I was able to dodge the bullet with Atlanta’s snowpocalypse, I really can’t whine too much.

Being a real estate voyeur, I love to look at cute, vintage cottages when I’m out for my daily strolls. I adored this old-timey screen door insert, and the picket fence.

Anna Maria Island screen door and picket fence
Anna Maria Island screen door and picket fence

SAVE THE DATE is set in Savannah, with a protagonist named Cara Mia Kryzik, a wedding florist whose own outlook on love and marriage is decidedly cynical. The book takes place in May, so I had to retreat into the world of the book and sunny, springtime Savannah, instead of chilly Anna Maria, while I was writing. One day while I was out strolling, I spotted this barnacle crusted tandem bike, complete with matching fishing pole, in front of a local business. There must be a story here, right?

barnacle-encrusted tandem bike and fishing pole on AMI
barnacle-encrusted tandem bike and fishing pole on AMI

Another morning, when I went out to walk, this little guy strolled up the driveway of my rented cottage to greet me. White egrets are all over the island.

Anna Maria egret
Anna Maria egret

Most days, weather permitted, I set out for a stretch of beach a couple blocks away, to sip wine and watch the sunset. Maybe because I grew up right across Tampa Bay, in St. Pete, but I have to say Gulf sunsets are my favorite. And I love seeing them through the feathery Austalian pines that dot the coast here. Reminds me of my childhood on Pass-A-Grille beach. I’m headed home Saturday morning, with a huge chunk of the book completed. I hope all the Atlanta roads have thawed by then. And I hope whereever you are, you’ll be as warmed as I am by one last Anna Maria sunset. Ahhhh.

sunset on Anna Maria Island
sunset on Anna Maria Island