Sunday, June 26, 2022

What We're Writing: Jenn is Cooking Up her Next Endeavor

 Jenn McKinlay: I'm working on a cookbook. Yes, me the one who doesn't cook (although I do bake). Crazy, I know!


My favorite bakery cookbook - inspired!

Now I know it sounds ambitious, but hear me out. The cupcake bakery mysteries have 3-5 recipes in each book and I'm writing the fifteenth book right now with a contract to go to sixteen. Yes, writing that mystery is my other project of the moment but it's in no shape to be shared as yet, so back to the cookbook.

After being asked for a cookbook - many many many times - by readers over the years, I decided okay fine. Because it is a rather big undertaking for a fiction writer, I divided the recipes from the (almost) sixteen books into two volumes so the first cookbook will have thirty-two recipes from the first eight books and the second volume coming out after the sixteenth book in 2024 will have the other thirty-two. This all came about rather organically when Christie Conlee, the personal assistant I hired to run the Facebook page, Tik Tok videos, host random giveaways, dream up promotions, and so on, turned out to be a home baker! How's that for kismet? 

We talked about it on and off for a year, and I had to clear the decks of my schedule so I could wrap my head around this endeavor, but it's finally happening!!!

Last fall, Christie went into a baking/photographing frenzy while I cleaned up the recipes. Now we have ISBNs, and we're on deck with Ingram Spark, while my cover artist, Lyndsey of Llewellen Designs, is working her magic on a cover for us. Yay!!! 

I'm pretty excited and we're hoping to launch the first volume on Sept 6th, 2022!!! 

To celebrate, here's one of the recipes from the cookbook. My very favorite cupcake - the Blonde Bombshell

Cupcake and photo by Christie

An almond-flavored cake topped with vanilla buttercream and sprinkled with toasted almonds. 

 3⁄4 cup unsalted butter, softened 
 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
 
2 eggs, at room temperature 
 1 1⁄2 teaspoons almond extract 
 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
 2 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder 
 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
 
2 1⁄2 cups flour
 
1 1⁄4 cups milk 

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar at medium speed, add eggs and milk, and beat until smooth. Beat in extracts. Add dry ingredients, beat until smooth. Fill cupcake liners 2⁄3 full. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Makes 24. 

 Frost with vanilla buttercream and sprinkle with toasted almond slivers. Toasted almonds: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts in one layer on an ungreased, shallow baking pan. Bake for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. 

 Buttercream Frosting 
 1⁄2 cup solid vegetable shortening
 
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened 
 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
 
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
 
2 tablespoons milk 

 In large bowl, cream shortening and butter. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides of bowl often. Add milk, and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Makes 3 cups of icing.

So, Reds and Readers, have you ever considered publishing your own cookbook? 

**The winner of Lucy's A SCONE OF CONTENTION is Terrie Black! Please email Lucy raisleib @ gmail dot com to make mailing arrangements.

54 comments:

  1. A cookbook sounds like a marvelous idea! It does sound as if you have everything well in hand . . . and a delicious cupcake recipe I can’t wait to try!
    And, no, I never, ever thought about publishing my own cookbook even though I do enjoy sharing recipes . . . .

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    1. I love sharing recipes, too. I still have the best mac and cheese recipe EVER from a friend which I cherish - both the recipe and the friend!

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  2. How very fun, Jenn! I haven't thought about doing a cookbook, although I've contributed to several. I do try to corral links to recipes from my books that have been published online and add them to my web site on that book's page.

    Is your personal assistant local? I have a marvelous one who does my social media graphics and other visual-art stuff for me, but she's in Florida, and we've never met in person! Hmm, Tik-Tok might be a project for her.

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    1. Mine is in Nashville and no we've never met in person - life in the digital age, I suppose. So helpful to have someone take on the promo stuff!

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  3. JENN: Yay, I am excited about your upcoming cookbook(s)! And yes, Christie being a home baker was kismet for sure. And Christie is also an awesome P.A. running your FB pages & giveaways.

    I love perusing cookbooks & have thousands of recipes saved on my PC but I never thought of making my own.

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    1. Having Christie bake them all and photograph the results was definitely the game changer. I don't think I ever would have gotten it going without her.

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  4. Hallie here - when I think about writing a cookbook, right after “way cool” and “let’s do it!” Comes “So much work” - it’s like writing a mystery and having to actually kill the victim as part of the research… still I love to cook so who knows!

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    1. LOL - "having to actually kill the victim". You're not wrong!

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  5. Jenn, I am thrilled to hear about your cookbook. Having the cupcake recipes all in one place will make it so much easier than searching through my Kindle (right, I have most of your books on my Kindle) for a recipe that I think I remember seeing in your books! Will it be a paper book? I much prefer when a screen doesn't close while I am using a recipe;>)

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    1. Not to mention the sticky/gooey fingers on screen problem!

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    2. Right, Edith! That's when a book has to be a book. (Oh, my son Jonathan was here yesterday celebrating his 40th with his 2 besties from childhood. He grabbed your apron to assist with prep! He looked so cute in that little thing, but I was too messy, to grab a photo. Sorry. )

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    3. Pro tip: You can insert a tablet into a plastic bag and still use the tactile screen to navigate.

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    4. I like the paper version for making quick notes, too!

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  6. Congratulations! Looking forward to your cookbook.

    Cookbooks are a lot of work. I periodically type out my current fav recipes and distribute them to my kids.

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  7. Jenn, I'm so excited for you! Can't wait to see how this turns out...

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  8. Jenn, congrats on writing the cookbook. As for me, no, not going to happen.

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    1. LOL - without Christie, I'd say the same. Never gonna happen.

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  9. The cookbook sounds delish!

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  10. Sounds like half the work is done on a cookbook, Jenn, with all those recipes in the "bank", so to speak. The almond cupcake sounds delectable, too.

    I have written a cookbook, just for my three daughters and myself. 130 recipes of family favorites and other recipes I threw in. It was about 10-12 years ago, after a couple years of the girls asking me to write down certain recipes they wanted. I've talked before of putting each dish in a separate Word doc and onto a CD for each daughter, and handing it over with a three-ring binder and protective sleeves so they could print whichever ones they want.

    The real work was writing them all down, and including some basic stuff that my middle daughter, who never wanted to learn to cook when she was at home, asked for, like how to cook certain veggies, boil eggs, etc. I had to actually think about measurements I'd always eyeballed, like for the family potato salad recipe. I still don't measure, but when Christy and now Zak make it they say it tastes like mine, so I guess I got it right.

    Of course a baking-only cookbook is a whole 'nother animal. You sure lucked out with Christie!

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    1. Now I want potato salad. LOL. I can't make it like my mom does and I only like hers :)

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  11. Yum, Jenn! I can't wait to get your cookbook. So far I've read the first book in that series and have the second on hand ready to read next. I made the Pina Colada cupcakes and they were really fabulous. I've started keeping my favorite recipes in a binder, with tabs, so that is kind of a cookbook. Most of the recipes are not original but they have all been slightly tweaked. The best part of keeping them like that is because I can use a largish font, making it much easier to read while I am measuring and mixing. I'm hoping my family will benefit from my binder. When they ask for a recipe it is very easy to print one out for them.

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    1. Oh, that is so smart! I need a binder. I've left my cooking days behind but when the Hooligans come around, they request the recipes of their childhood which I should prepare to pass down.

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  12. Jenn, I have never considered writing a cookbook. After all, it would just be photocopies of the various sub shops and restaurants menus where I get the majority of my food.

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    1. ROTFL - that's my kind of cooking. If the Hub didn't do it, I'd be eating tacos every day.

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  13. JENN: I love this. After I lost my hearing before I was 2 years old, my parents enrolled me in a ? nursery school program for Deaf and HOH babies and young children (If I was born Deaf, I would have started school at 9 months). The nursery school collected recipes from parents, teachers and staff. I still have the cookbook. Because I am allergic to dairy and wheat now (headaches), I have been experimenting with recipes. I love to bake too. Cooking is another kettle of fish.

    On another topic, I was thinking about you yesterday because I was reminded of your rom-com (I'm so bad with titles!) about a woman who decides to get in touch with three former boyfriends who live in different places - Ireland, France, and Italy. I found an old photo from a summer romance that I had. It was the summer before we started High School. It's funny how life turns out sometimes.

    Diana

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    1. Oh, wow, how cool is that? Summer romances to me are the poignant, especially when you're school aged. Paris is Always a Good Idea is the romcom :)

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    2. Diana, my son's family has terrible allergies to wheat and dairy and night shades plus other common foods. They visited yesterday and I spent 2 days cooking and baking before they arrived. It is much more work to prepare food when you have to avoid so many food groups.

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  14. Hank Phillippi RyanJune 26, 2022 at 9:46 AM

    Wow wow wow! Standing ovation! You are phenomenal and this is the best idea I’ve ever heard. Oh my goodness, you are such a rockstar! Tell us a little bit about writing it though— what did you learn? absolutely cannot wait for this!

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    1. Mostly, I'm just cleaning up the recipes and attributing them to the book in which they were originally published. I'm very aware that there can be copyright issues, so I'm keeping it simple.

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  15. Celia - Wow Jenn, congratulations, that is an undertaking even with your PA/baker. In fact congratulations to you both. Loved the cover at the top and that is such a cute cupcake I had to stop myself from trying to lick it. Your energy and focus is so impressive.

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    1. That Magnolia Bakery cover is my fave cover of all time. It's embossed so the cake frosting is tactile, too.

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  16. What a delightful -- and delicious -- addition to your cupcake series. Cannot wait to see it! Congrats on this newest publishing endeavour!

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    1. Thank you! There's a learning curve but isn't there always?

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  17. Jenn, you are just amazing! This is a terrific idea and now I'm wondering what you will think of next... And who I can get to make me some cupcakes, lol

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    1. Aw, thanks, Debs. Wait 'til you see all the pics Christie took. I gain three pounds just looking at them! LOL.

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  19. A cupcake too pretty to eat? Not around me! :-) Congratulations another winning idea, Jenn!

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  20. Is there nothing you can’t do? What next? A self help book on cat reading or meditation or desert gardening or….. you are amazing! Rhys

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    1. Rearing. Rearing not reading you obnoxious auto correct!

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    2. So funny, Rhys. I was wondering what "cat reading" was - like palm reading, LOL?

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    3. LOL - delightful typo - if I could pull off cat reading, I'd be set for life!!!

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  21. Congrats on getting this off the ground!

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    1. Thanks! Let's hope I don't end up with cake on my face. LOL.

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  22. Jenn, I think this the cookbooks are a brilliant project. What a delight for the recipes to be available in two books, convenient, too. I love it when there are resources like this to go with my fiction books.

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  23. Jennifer PoslusnyJune 26, 2022 at 2:16 PM

    I am so excited about this project! I’ve made a few of the Cupcake recipes from the books and they were amazing.
    My dear friend Bonnie owns a restaurant and is my primary client. She published a cookbook just before Christmas and I made all the cakes to be photographed for it. It was a LOT of work so a round of applause for Christie!

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  24. This is great! I haven't written a cookbook, myself, but I did just host a blog series where authors shared a recipe inspired by their novels. It was loads of fun! On a personal note, my mom put together a cookbook of Italian Christmas cookies, which are family favorites from my Italian relatives. It's put together, scrapbook-style, and is very special to me.

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