May 21 2015 9:00am

Cooking the Books with the Crime HQ Test Kitchen

This was the perfect chance to re-launch Cooking the Books with our new CrimeHQ test kitchen staff—or so we thought. We had a bunch of recent, appealing crime-related recipes, but unfortunately, after assigning them, the feedback from our test crooks cooks was a little less constructive than we'd hoped. You'll see what we mean...

After trying The Cozy Cookbook's “Charmed Bacon Lattice Breakfast Pie” by Ellery Adams, here are the testing notes from a Thriller's Disposable Henchman: 

The instructions say Bake until crisp, approximately 25 minutes. Couldn't the timing be more precise? Why, I have this handy ticking clock right next to me, and... [rest illegible and aflame]

From “Cake Pops” by Jenn McKinlay, testing notes from a Town Busybody: 

It should be called “cake popular,” because this recipe makes 30. Who has that many people to give sweets to? Don't get me wrong, I try to stay involved in goings-on in my community, but really, if I dropped dead, I think people would probably just stand around making snide comments and jokes. Here's my version of the recipe for a single cake pop. Tell the author to put it in her next book. You're welcome.


The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, edited by Kate White

From The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook's “Worth-the-Effort-Turkey-Tetrazzini" by Hank Phillippi Ryan, testing notes from Distractingly Handsome Local Law Enforcement:

My apron says Kiss the Sheriff, but next week, I might be a detective, maybe Chief of Police. But there's one thing that's certain: even with corpses piling up, cruel injustices, and imminent danger everywhere, you will find yourself precoccupied with how damned attractive I am. Who could blame you? My twinkling eyes, the warmth of my smile... wait, what was I supposed to be cooking again?

From “Grandma's Killer Chocolate Cake” by James Patterson, testing notes from a French Prisoner:

As I did not possess the bitter chocolate required, I substituted grains of the darkest grave dirt watered with tears of contempt. During baking, the dessert proved incapable of rising above futility. I didn't care.


From Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander's “Raspberry Danish,” testing notes from a Violent Gang Member:

This Danish, made in round cake pans, reminds me of the way we always circle around our targets, each of us patiently taking turns attacking the lone hero in the center. Has anyone tried using blueberry jam in this recipe? Let us knowwe'll wait to bake it until you do! 

Yeah, after all that, we decided it might be best just to let you have the chance to try them out for yourselves. 


This Sweepstakes has ended. Thanks for entering!

Comment below for a chance to win The Cozy Cookbook, The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, and the first two books in Ellie Alexander's Bakeshop series, Meet Your Baker and A Batter of Life and Death!

To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in RED above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in BLACK above your comment, You’re ENTERED!

Test Kitchen Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) May 21, 2015. Sweepstakes ends 9:59 a.m. ET May 28, 2015. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by lawPlease see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

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2. DebP
Sounds like a lot of fun! I would really enjoy these books.
3. Techgranny
What a great group of books. If I win, I promise to try some recipes and give at least as good reviews.
4. Tess Tipton
Thank you all for sharing your recipes with us.
this is an awesome prize that you are giving for this drawing.
Debbie Price
5. debprice
What a wonderful package to have as a giveaway! I really love when mysteries combine with the world of food. Thank you to all the authors who write these books.
Cindy Hipolito
10. mysuccess
Am logged in on the Criminal Element site. These books sound like our household could benefit from the stories and concoctions. Thanks for this giveaway. It is Memorial Day in the early am (CST)!
11. Faye Boss
OH! just found this site with these great sounding reads!
Carl Ginger
12. cgin56
This looks to be a nice collection of treats for the mind as well as the tummy if one uses the recipes.
lynette thompson
The books look great. Good luck everyone
Janice Santillo
17. themommazie
I have always wanted to read the Cozy Mysteries. Would really like to win.
Russell Moore
18. russrpm
Half of my education has come from mystery novels; cooking can join the list.
Michelle St. James
19. michstjame
I've loved cozies since I started reading Agatha Christie when I was eleven years old, and I also love to cook, so as far as I'm concerned, this is the perfect prize. :) Thanks so much for the chance.
Nancy Luebke
20. ndluebke
What fun, would love this. Thanks for the opportunity.
21. beedyr
I just love the titles of these clever.
peter gladue
24. peterg201
I think my Mom would like these books
Kathy Heninger
28. kheninger
I would love to win this amazing collection.!!
Ria Andrews
29. reallyreal1
Would love to win, thanks for this chance, I am learning to cook and have no cook books yet so I have to google everything.
Barbara Miller
30. barbara0101
Would love to win. They all sound great.
alyce poalillo
34. alycep
Perfect for me-I love mysteries and I love cooking.
36. Shelton
A Batter of Life and Death, what a title!!! Love it!!!!
Marty Crosson
37. mcrosson
I'm a dreadful cook; fortunately, I have no problems eating slop.
Reeta Harrison
38. rdharrison
I love a good read and a cookbook is as good as a novel for me so I would love to win this great prize!
40. Shannon Baas
I would like these as I collect cookbooks.
Sherry Conrad
42. dddiva
Wonderful collection of books, thanks for the chance to win.
44. Penny A Snyder
Love trying new recipes - these would be awesome books!!
Joyce Mitchell
45. JoyceLm
I love mysteries, I love cookbooks - thanks for the chance to win.
Susan Pertierra
46. orchidlady01
I'd love to try some of my favorite author's recipes. Thanks!
Margot Core
47. AnnaZed
How marvelous, these book were made for me! I have just the spot in the kitchen to keep them and semi-display them after consumption too.
49. Tammy Evans
What a great giveaway! I would love to win.
Sharon Haas
57. kazul
Books and food are a winning combination!
Anna Mills
58. Anna Mills
I am, as suggested, simply leaving a comment below. And you know what to do with it, People!
Rebekah May
59. beam00
Reading and cooking - two of my favorite hobbies.
teresa sopher
64. tas58
cookbooks and mysteries.....what could go wrong?
Robin Pasholk
65. arel1
Those would go quite nicely with my other culinary staples: "The Dark Shadows Cookbook" (compiled by Jody Cameron Malis, Ace Books 1970), and "Cooking to Kill!: the Poison Cook-book" (concocted by Prof. Ebenezer Murgatroyd, Peter Pauper Press 1951). (insert sinister chuckle or fiendish grin here)
Erin Hartshorn
67. ErinMH
Awesome collection -- and I love the comments on the recipes in this post.
Teresa Young
70. tmy56
Exactly how I feel in the kitchen much of the time! Throw in the towel & read a cozy mystery instead!!
Felina Pence
72. AnnaLeaf
Love the baking concept, I would like them more if, I could eat them, but as I am Celiac, I look for gluten free recipes.
M Thompson
73. MST
Since I enjoy baking and reading mysteries, I would love to win this fabuolous prize! Thanks
Tracy Lech
74. tracy.lech
Food and mysteries - a great combination! I actually still use my Nancy Drew Cookbook!
Connie Sahn
75. mamaconnie
Nothing better than cookbooks and mysteries - great prize. Thanks for a chance to win!
Jane Schwarz
76. Janeschwarz
I think I bake just like your reviewers, but I'm willing and maybe able to take a stab at the recipes. Or I can just invite my daughter-in-laws over and let them work at it. Thanks for the opportunity to win.
Andra Dalton
78. andra77
Sounds scrumptious!!! What a delightful collection of books to bundle together for a giveaway!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win & good luck to all who enter!!!:)
Merle Carrus
79. merle
There is nothing better than a good mystery with recipes!! I love this genre. I look forward to reading all these books.
Susan Robinette
80. susanrob
Cookbooks and mysteries = a winning combination!
Karen Terry
82. bblol65
I would love to win. I love to read about food and murder.
83. normajean
What a fun group of books! Thanks for the chance to win.
Laurence Coven
84. Holmes
The Cozy category really needs a sub-category. "Cozies with Recipies"
Michaela Strauch
85. Michaela
Thanks for the giveaway. Great books!
susan beamon
88. susanbeamon
I have a seperate section of my library for, mostly mystery, books that have receipes in them. I started it with Nero Wolfe and continued it with the Diane Mott Davidson series. It now takes up several shelves.
92. MARY M
This sounds interesting and I would like to have a copy of this book.
MARY Mclain
I would like to have a copy of this book because it sounds interesting .
Karen Willett
95. azstitcher
Two of my favorite things...good food and good mysteries. Sounds perfect for my summer anyway!
John OBrien
96. meiobrien
There's items for both of us - we'd have fun with these books.
Beverly Henry
97. bevhen
Wow I would love to own these, thank you for the chance to win
Lori Provenzano
99. Mountainesque
I love the 'punny' titles of these cozy mysteries. Great fun to read, and probably even better with the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. It's not every day that we incorporate the senses of taste and smell into an engaging read.
Liz Stamp
101. LizinSR
I love mysteries with recipes! And I'd love to win these books!
Connie Saunders
102. cataloger
I would love reading these great titles and also trying the recipes. Thanks for the chance by offering this wonderful giveaway!
jean olaughlin
103. kerrigans
what a great contest!! I love recipes, cookbooks, and mysteries. This would be awesome to win!
Michelle Klingen
104. mlklingen
This is a great giveaway, never heard of these cookbooks!
Chris Teel
105. Teelioli
As the newly appointed chief cook and bottle-washer in my home, these would be great, thanks for the chance.
Lynn Jarrett
106. OkieReader
I look forward to winning and reading these books. I need something to take my mind off all of the rain we are receiving here in Oklahoma!!
107. Hiking1957
I love cook books and there have been a few cozy mysteries with recipes in them that I would love to make some time. Maybe some are in these.
Theresa Sivelle
108. hiking1957
Well, guess I have to do this again. I do love cook books. So I'm sure there are some good ones in these. Look forward to trying out some.
Larry Doyle
Food & a good book to read; what could be better?
110. vvwoman
Reading and cooking- two of my favorite things!
111. Janice F
Oh how I love mysteries, especially ones with great recipes.
Karen de Gennaro
113. kkdege
I love mysteries with recipes included!
Janice Ford
114. JazzyTJan I love mysteries and great recipes.
Michael Carter
116. rubydog
Great sweeps!
Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
Thanks --
Linda Peters
117. linnett
now this would be a fun collection, thanks
Linda Kish
119. ljkish
I didn't realize there would be comedy too. That makes it even better. I would love to add these books to my collection and try some of these recipes...not the one with dirt and tears.
Sharon Shumway
120. Shellen
I love it when authors cook up a good mystery and I cook up their recipes.
Sally Winkleblech
121. sallyw
What a fun contest. I will probably burn any recipe I try, because I will be reading one of the books while baking.
I collect cookbooks and love food-related cozy mysteries, so this is a GREAT giveaway!
Brenda Tucker
123. rango3
Sounds mighty delicious - would love to win!
Dorothy Baumel
125. Duffy2
I love mysteries with recipes, would love to have these books.
Sara Lontcoski
126. smml2
would love more cookbooks to add to my collection
Debra Kidle
128. lubelle
What a super prizepack! I love cookbooks, I collect them, and try to pick out a new recipe to try at least twice a month. I'd also love to be able to read the other books in the giveaway. Thanks for the chance! :)
Heather Cowley
129. choochoo
These look right up my galley. har har!
132. LLear
These sound like a great set of books.
Diane Furst
134. dbooks22
Great reviews!!!! I would love to read these books and try the recipes.
Kelley Tackett
135. tackettfamilyky
These look amazing! I can't wait to get my hands on all of them but especially the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook!
136. Rosanne Morrison
Keep trying to get back into cooking likethe old days
137. mnleona
Love to read the cozy mysteries. I also watch them on Hallmark.
138. Aubrey Fletcher
What a great collection of books! I would really enjoy these.
Jim Belcher
139. librarypops
Good thing they are good authors. Not sure they make it as cooks or chefs. :)
Amy Curtiss
141. Amy
Um, are any of the recipes for how to hide the taste of human flesh? I am thinking that the only way to truly dispose of a body would be to feed it to some unsuspecting foodies, a la the abusive husband in Fried Green Tomatoes.
"No, really, it's roast pork with a raspberry reduction, Larry couldn't make it, he's...out of town!"
Beth Talmage
142. wordygirl
I've had "Meet Your Baker" on my list since your initial review. Winning a copy would be a great way to move it from my list to my carry-with-me-everywhere, which is how I tend to read a book. I learned that from my Aunt Betty, who reads between read lights, bless her heart.
Karen Golding
143. kpg813
Great collection of books, thanks for the giveaway!
Pam Flynn
144. desdemona
How fun and can I really have a great time trying recipes and reading some great authors. These books really get me smiling and excited!
146. Eugenia Hall
What a great collection of books to win! I'd love to have them.
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