Grandma’s Apple Turnovers

Marti Mickkleson isn’t much of a cook, and Grandma Bertie is a ghost, but both would approve of my grandma’s Apple Turnover recipe. Not only do they have cheddar in the crust, we have reason to believe they contain magic.
Bake up a batch and see for yourself!

Grandma's Apple Turnovers


  • ½ C butter
  • 1½ C flour
  • ¾ t salt
  • 1½ C shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¾ C oats
  • ½ C water


  • 2 C finely chopped apple
  • ⅓ C brown sugar
  • ¼ C raisins
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • ¾ t cinnamon
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 T flour


  • ¾ C powdered sugar
  • lemon or apple juice


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.

Pastry Dough

  1. Mix Butter and flour until crumbly.
  2. Add other dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Stir in water.
  4. Roll dough into a log and slice into 12 equally sized peices. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece into a circle about 5 inches in diameter.


  1. Mix all ingredients into the finely chopped apples. (If the apples are extra juicy, add a little more flour.)

Making the Pies

  1. Place a scant ¼ cup filling on each circle.
  2. Fold over the circles and seal edges with a fork. Cut a small slit in top of each and place on ungreased baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until lightly browned) at 375°.


  1. Add lemon or apple juice (lemon is the best!) to powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it’s a drizzle consistency. Spoon over turnovers.


Recipe by Kay Charles/Patricia Lillie: ‎

The Kindle edition of Ghosts in Glass Houses, the first Marti Mickkleson Mystery, is available at Amazon. The print edition can be found at  Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Read a sample.


Oy, Cranberries!

“The Indians and English use them much, boyling them with Sugar for Sauce to eat with their Meat, and it is a delicious sauce.”
John Josselyn, 1663, while visiting New England

I adore cranberries in any way, shape, or form.  My mother found this recipe in a magazine in 1965 and has been making it for holiday dinners ever since. In our family it’s known both by its formal name, Cranberry Waldorf,  and Yummy Pink Stuff. Pre-holiday planning conversations usually go something like this:

Mom: Should I make the Cranberry Waldorf?
Me: If you want me to show up, you’d better.

If she ever stops making it, I’ll get worried.

I don’t have a picture of it all sparkly and yummy in its pretty glass dish, so here’s a picture of the page in Mom’s recipe notebook with the original clipping tucked inside.

And, of course, here’s the recipe!

Cranberry Waldorf


  • 2 cups raw cranberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 cups unpeeled tart apples, diced
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup green grapes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped


  1. Grind cranberries and combine with sugar and marshmallows. Cover and chill overnight
  2. Add apples, walnuts, and salt to the cranberry mixture. Stir gently until well combined.
  3. Fold in whipping cream and chill.
  4. Serve in a pretty glass bowl. Garnish with more grapes if desired.


  1. Mom’s note on the original clipping says DO NOT use Cool Whip. She has used Dream Whip (a powdered whip cream mix for those of you who don’t remember it.)
  2. Mom also noted a version she found in 2016 that uses crushed pineapple in place of the grapes. As for me, I’m a purist. I like grapes.


Recipe by Kay Charles/Patricia Lillie:

The Kindle edition of Ghosts in Glass Houses, the first Marti Mickkleson Mystery, is currently on sale for 99 cents until the end of December! 
Read a sample.

This Calls for Comfort Food

It’s cold outside. There’s white stuff swirling in the air and falling on the ground. Inside, everyone has colds.

This means comfort food. Soup. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Mashed potatoes.

Creamy, creamy pudding.

Tapioca pudding, to be exact.

Aside from flipping sort-of-meat patties on a Burger Buster grill, Marti Mickkleson isn’t much of a cook—but even she could make this old-fashioned tapioca pudding just like Mrs. Partridge used to make.

Warning: No matter how tempting it is, do not spit, flick, or otherwise attack your sister with the tapioca pearls. It will only get you in trouble with both Grandma Bertie and Mrs. Partridge. It doesn’t exactly please RachelAnne either. Marti says, “Trust me on this one.”

Mrs. Partridge’s Tapioca Pudding


  • 1/2 cup seed or small pearl tapioca (not instant or minute tapioca)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup half & half 1
  • scant ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


  1. Place the tapioca in a medium saucepan, add 1 cup of the milk and stir to combine. Let the pearls soak at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
  2. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk or fork. Add remaining 1 cup of milk, half & half, sugar, and salt. Beat until combined. Add to the mixture in the saucepan and stir well.
  3. Cook over medium heat 2, stirring frequently 3, until the mixture just comes to a simmer, about 10 minutes. (Don’t let it boil!)
  4. Reduce the heat to low 4 and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to thicken and the tapioca pearls are softened and translucent, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Pour into a bowl, let cool for 5 minutes, then give it a good stir. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to keep a skin from forming and cool until ready to serve. The pudding will thicken as it cools. May be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled (let cool until room temperature before chilling.) Refrigerate any left overs.


  1. You can use 3 cups whole milk, but don’t try to use skim. It just doesn’t work.
  2. Barely medium. The low side of medium. Like, medium is in sight but you’re not quite there yet.
  3. Frequently. You don’t have to stir it constantly, like some recipes say, but don’t neglect it. At this stage, be sure to get the bottom and corners of the pan. The tapioca collects there. Tapioca should never be allowed to congregate.
  4. Keep a close eye on it. Even at low heat, it will want to boil. Don’t let it! You know what’s good for it, even if it doesn’t.


Recipe by Kay Charles/Patricia Lillie:

The Kindle edition of Ghosts in Glass Houses, the first Marti Mickkleson Mystery, is currently on sale for 99 cents! 
Read a sample.

Halloween Giveaway!

It’s the most magical time of the year!

Halloween–the night you don’t need to be Marti Mickkleson to see ghosts! To celebrate, I’m  giving away a Kindle copy of Ghosts in Glass Houses!

To enter,  go to my Facebook page and post your Halloween Name in the comments on the first post a chance to win.  (Note: Please follow the link and comment on Kay’s page. I’ll try to make sure everyone who comments is entered and don’t want to miss anyone who commented elsewhere.)

Good Luck and Happy Haunting.

US residents only (sorry). Comment by 11:59 pm ET, Sunday October 29th. Winner will be chosen randomly and announced on my Facebook page on Monday, October 30th.

Click here to read a free sample of Ghosts in Glass Houses.

New Cozies from V.M. Burns!

My friend and fellow Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction alumna V.M.Burns has two brand new cozy mysteries up for pre-order!

Having been lucky enough to read an early draft of The Plot is Murder and the first half of the first draft of Read Herring Hunt (can’t wait to find out who dunnit), I can tell you they have everything a cozy fan could want. A spunky heroine. A team of hilarious sleuthing seniors. A wonderful small town. A delightful bookstore. Scones. Poodles with yummy names. And best of all, not one but two mysteries—one set in present day North Harbor, Michigan and one set in a 1930’s British country manor.

Don’t trust me? Here’s what others are saying about V.M. Burns and The Plot Is Murder:
“You’ll love this delightful debut mystery with its charming and wacky cast of characters and a mystery within a mystery just to keep things interesting.”
—Victoria Thompson, bestselling author of Murder in Morningside Heights

“A charming read—with murder, romance and lots of mouthwatering desserts.”
—Laura Levine, author of Death of a Bachelorette

About The Plot is Murder

Samantha Washington has dreamed of owning her own mystery bookstore for as long as she can remember. And as she prepares for the store’s grand opening, she’s also realizing another dream—penning a cozy mystery set in England between the wars. While Samantha hires employees and fills the shelves with the latest mysteries, quick-witted Lady Penelope Marsh, long-overshadowed by her beautiful sister Daphne, refuses to lose the besotted Victor Carlston to her sibling’s charms. When one of Daphne’s suitors is murdered in a maze, Penelope steps in to solve the labyrinthine puzzle and win Victor.

But as Samantha indulges her imagination, the unimaginable happens in real life. A shady realtor turns up dead in her backyard, and the police suspect her—after all, the owner of a mystery bookstore might know a thing or two about murder. Aided by her feisty grandmother and an enthusiastic ensemble of colorful retirees, Samantha is determined to close the case before she opens her store. But will she live to conclude her own story when the killer has a revised ending in mind for her?

Pre-order The Plot is Murder


About Read Herring Hunt

To the town of North Harbor, Michigan, MISU quarterback Dawson Alexander is a local hero. To Samantha Washington, owner of the Market Street Mysteries Bookstore, Dawson is more than a tenant—he’s like an adopted son. But to the police, he is their prime suspect after his ex-girlfriend is found murdered. It’s more than enough real-life drama for Sam to tackle, but her role as a mystery writer also calls. Returning to the English countryside between the wars, she finds Lady Penelope Marsh in quite the quandary. Someone has tried to murder the scandalous American divorcée Wallis Simpson, for whom Edward VIII so recently abdicated his throne. It seems finding a suspect is no small challenge when most of England has a motive . . .

While Sam’s lawyer sister Jenna rushes in to build Dawson’s defense, Sam and her lively grandmother, Nana Jo, huddle up to solve the mystery and blow the whistle on the real killer. With the tenacious members of the Sleuthing Senior Book Club eager to come off the sidelines, Sam and her team just might stop a killer from completing another deadly play . . .

Pre-Order Read Herring Hunt

Get ready to become addicted to a new cozy series—or three. The Plot is Murder and Read Herring Hunt are due to be followed by The Novel Art of Murder and two more Mystery Bookshop mysteries from Kensington. Valerie is also hard at work on a new series for Kensington’s Lyrical Underground imprint. In the Dog House, the first of the Dog House Mysteries is scheduled to arrive in August, 2018. If that’s not enough, Travellin’ Shoes, the first book in her R.J. Franklin and Mama Bee series is due out from Camel next year.

What are you waiting for? Check out The Plot is Murder and Read Herring Hunt now!