Cooking the Books: Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

I’ve stated elsewhere that I love a good manor house mystery, and Sugar Cookie Murder is Joanne Fluke’s very successful stab (heh) at one. Pretty much all of Lake Eden has been invited to a big holiday potluck to celebrate the upcoming release of a cookbook featuring the residents’ favorite recipes.

Hannah, as the person in charge of the cookbook, has her hands full supervising the evening and worrying not only about her heavily pregnant younger sister but also about her widowed mother’s growing relationship with a landed Englishman in town for an extended vacation. Add to that the prospect of a blizzard as well as high drama when Martin Dubinski brings his brand-new showgirl wife, Brandy, to the event—much to the dismay of his ex-wife, Shirley, and his mother, both of whom have been hoping for a reconciliation between him and Shirley.

So when Hannah’s mom’s antique cake knife goes missing only to reappear in Brandy’s chest in the snow-filled parking lot, Hannah has to work double-time not only to keep everyone blissfully unaware of the calamity but also to help solve the murder. The murderer has to be one of the partygoers, due to the blizzard keeping everyone trapped at the venue, and Hannah has to toe a fine line between assisting the police (and one of her boyfriends, Deputy Sheriff Mike Kingston) and not getting into any trouble herself.

Plot-wise, one of the highlights for me was Hannah’s examination of her feelings regarding her mother’s new man. Her wry self-awareness is a large part of why I look forward to reading of her and her family’s continuing adventures.

That said, I was actually surprised by how suddenly the ending seemed to spring out at me. I’d expected a longer novel—or at least one of comparable length to the first five books of the series—but then realized that the recipe section was pretty much the entirety of the Lake Eden Cookbook described in the novel.

There were fifty recipes included here, divided into twelve parts, which takes up a lot of space! It took a bit of time to go through them to decide what to cook this week. I freely admit that I was almost ghoulishly fascinated by the very many Jello recipes (in the salad section, no less!) but could not quite muster the courage to try any. I was definitely ready for something different after five weeks of (admittedly very delicious) desserts, so I decided to try out this savory dish that received a lot of praise within the book itself:

Chicken Paprikash

(You can do this in a 5-quart slow cooker, or a 325 degree F. oven)


12 skinless, boneless chicken breasts *** (or the equivalent)

2 cans Cream of Mushroom soup undiluted (one can is 10 ¾ ounce net weight)

1 can Cream of Chicken soup undiluted (10 ¾ ounces net weight)

1 cup sour cream

2 Tablespoons paprika

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

½ teaspoon onion powder

Salt to taste

One-pound package wide egg noodles, cooked

***You can also use boneless skinless thighs, chicken tenders, or a combination of the three.


Spray the inside of a 5-quart slow cooker or a large roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray. Put the soups, the sour cream and the seasonings in the pan and stir them around to combine them. Add the chicken and make sure it’s covered with the soup mixture.

For the slow cooker: Cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours. If you’re in a hurry, cook on HIGH for 4 hours.

In the oven: Bake in a tightly covered roaster for 4 hours at 325 degrees F. Then take off the cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes or so.

Serve over cooked egg noodles.

Yield: Feeds at least 8, unless you’re talking about a threshing crew that’s been working the fields all day.

This was such a delicious dish! That sauce is exceptional. I can totally understand why it’s described in the book as a husband-catcher; I’d certainly love for someone to make it for me on a regular basis!

It’s also incredibly easy to prepare. I used my Instant Pot and barely had to think about it once I’d put everything together. I used chicken thighs, which I generally prefer to breasts, but I could see how white meat would actually be better in this dish as a brighter contrast to the sauce, in both flavor and texture. I’ll definitely be making this dish again, and I’m very glad Ms. Fluke has started adding savory recipes to her books.

Next week, I take advantage of this expanded repertoire to make both a savory and a dessert. Do join me!

See also: Cooking the Books: Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke


To learn more or order a copy, visit:

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Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.


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