Guest Chick: Libby Klein

We’re so happy to welcome back Libby Klein, author of the warm and hilarious Poppy McAllister Mysteries. AND she’s got a delicious recipe for us!

Stealing Recipes

Do you refuse to give out recipes? You pride yourself in your Great Grandma Teresa’s all-day sauce passed down on a bride’s wedding day after she kisses the wooden spoon and promises she will take it to her grave? If you ever break Great Grandma’s confidence she’ll turn her good eye on you and say, “You’re dead to me!” No one wants to hear those words from the family matriarch, but those of you holding on to the “secret recipe” you got off the back of the pudding box need to relax.

I know a lady who made a special holiday cake every year. It was her cherished tradition. One of my besties wanted that recipe bad! The woman refused. This made my friend crazy determined, and she employed my culinary prowess.  She snuck a piece of this cake away from a party and brought it to me to decode the secret ingredient. It was instant pistachio pudding. She was so disappointed, but I was positive. I’ve worked with pistachio butter, pistachio crème imported from Sicily, pistachio pastry compound. This was pudding, boxed cake mix and Cool Whip. That was the big secret. I reproduced the cake exactly to drive my point home.

Why couldn’t this lady just give my friend the recipe? What was the big deal? You aren’t going to “Beat Bobby Flay” with your Jello cake. And then I discovered why. People steal. They steal your precious recipes and call them their own!

When I was twelve, a little old lady invited us to lunch and served ham with pineapple stuffing. I had never had anything like it before. It was amazing. She only made it for special occasions and before I left she gave me the recipe. I made that pineapple stuffing for thirty years and never saw it anywhere else. I made it for holidays and church pot-lucks. It was always a show stopper. My best friend who we will call Connie, asked for the recipe. Of course, I gave it to her! I’m not like instant pudding lady. Friends share. Friends respect the sanctity of the treasured family recipe. I was so wrong.

Several years later I was invited to a Thanksgiving pot-luck. When I showed up with my special little casserole of golden buttery goodness, the hostess lit up. “Oh, you made Connie’s pineapple stuffing. We love this stuff! She makes it every year.” <insert jaw drop here.>

It seems Connie had been bringing my pineapple stuffing to events around the community. It was her go-to recipe and she was well known for it. I thought to myself, “You’re dead to me!” Soon after I went to an Easter pot-luck and the hostess excitedly announced that I’d brought “Grandma Bea’s Pineapple Stuffing.” Grandma Bea blushed and said that Connie had given her the recipe. I’m just saying, it serves Connie right. And to the pudding cake lady, I apologize.

You can bet I’ve never let Connie live this down. In fact, now I officially call it “Connie’s Pineapple Stuffing.” And since we’re all friends here, I’m going to give you HER recipe. The one she still has to call me for every single year because she can’t remember how much of everything to use.

Connie’s Pineapple Stuffing

1 stick of butter softened
Beaten with ¾ cup sugar until fluffy
Beat in 3 eggs until combined
Add 1 can crushed pineapple
Toss in 1 loaf of white bread that has had the crusts removed and been cubed.

*Note – I used gluten free bread now, but either way it’s better if you remove the crusts and let it sit out in the open over night to get a little dry. Of course, you can ask Connie what she recommends. She is the expert.

Place in a 2-quart casserole dish and bake at 350° for one hour or until the top is golden brown and the stuffing is bubbly on the edges. Fantastic with glazed ham.

Readers, do you have a signature recipe? And did anyone ever steal a recipe from you?


Cape May, New Jersey, is the site of a big culinary competition—and the knives are out . . Poppy McAllister is happy about opening a Jersey Shore B&B—but working in a professional kitchen has always been her real dream. Now it’s coming true, at least briefly, as she teams up with her former fiancée, Tim—and his condescending partner, Gigi—during the high-profile Restaurant Week challenge. Poppy’s specialty is pastries, despite her devotion to a Paleo diet. But if anyone can make glorious gluten-free goodies, it’s Poppy. Things get heated quickly—especially when some ingredients get switched and Tim’s accused of sabotage. Relatively harmless pranks soon escalate into real hazards, including an exploding deep fryer. And now one of the judges has died after taking a bite of Poppy’s cannoli—making her the chef suspect . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Poppy’s Kitchen!

About Libby Klein: Libby Klein graduated Lower Cape May Regional High School sometime in the ’80s. Her classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. She loves to drink coffee, bake gluten free goodies, and befriend random fluffy cats. She writes from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard. Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling.

69 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Libby Klein

  1. I do not have any signature recipes. In fact, I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t want to eat anything I’ve cooked. Most of the recipes I use that turn out any good are the ones I’ve bookmarked online and am happy to share with anyone but Connie.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Kathleen, this is a recipe that you can make with ease. It was one that my Oma (Dutch grandma) used all the time. Oma used margarine all the time except at Christmas time, then she would spurge and use butter.

        Omas Sugar Cookies
        2 cups butter or margarine
        2 cups white sugar
        3 cups white flour
        1 tsp. Baking sofa

        Bake at 325* for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges.

        The reason she made it so often was the fact that it requires no eggs so she could make them whenever she wanted.

        you can share with anyone but #connie 💜💜

        Liked by 5 people

  2. Ahh, the power of the recipe card! Who knew? I recently learned after I shared my grandmother’s steamed Christmas pudding online how valuable things like recipes were. They can be like trading cards. Congratulations on the new book, Libby.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Libby,
    This is such a great article. It made me laugh. Been there, done that!
    And yes, I have secret family recipes. I share. I tell them it’s a secret, so they can’t tell anyone, or I’d have to kill them. You know the old saying “Two people can keep a secret, if one of them is dead”. Of course I say it with a sparkly eyed grin.
    IMHO, most ‘secret ingredients’ are something no one would think of because it’s so embarrassing they don’t want anyone to have the recipe. Like instant pistachio pudding mix in a cake?

    Here’s one of my “secret ingredient recipes” from my off again, on again blog (which apparently is under attack right now, because I cannot access it). Everyone requests it when they come over. So, as you can see, there is no keeping secrets about recipes for me.

    Beef Over Noodles (or rice)
    1 pound stew meat, cut into bitesized cubes and patted dry
    A bowl of flour
    1 Tablespoon oil of your choice
    1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
    1 envelope of Lipton Onion Soup Mix
    Sliced mushrooms (if your family likes them, mine doesn’t)
    Hot Noodles or rice

    Dredge stew meat in flour.
    Heat oil in a skillet until slightly smoking.
    Throw in meat and brown. Drain.
    In a bowl add the can of soup, one can of water, and the onion soup mix. Mix. Add to the pan. Add mushrooms if desired.
    Simmer for 1 hour.
    Put on top of noodles or rice.

    Easy peasy!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Your recipe sounds great! I’ve learned to employ the tactic of only giving away recipes that are so long and involved that by the twenty-seventh ingredient the person changes their mind and offers me money to just make it for them.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Hestia, thank you, thank you for another recipe! And Libby, love this one. A stick of butter and a loaf of white bread – it’s my stomach’s dream come true and my cholesterol count’s worst nightmare!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. That recipe does sound delicious.

    I don’t have a go to recipe. But I don’t cook much. When I do make something, I make sure to give credit where it is do. I’ve gotten so many great recipes from Connie. 😉

    Liked by 7 people

  6. First: Libby, you KNOW I’m a huge fan of yours and am so excited about your latest book.
    Second: I think that pistachio pudding cake looks divine.

    Love this post! I have the opposite problem. I’m such a terrible cook that people are always (and so kindly) looking to credit me with signature dishes. I bring praline yams to Thanksgiving and Christmas, and everyone oohs and ahhs over Kathy’s Famous Yams(TM)(R)(SM). The recipe is from the back of the can the yams came in. I try to tell them, but they wave me off and start loading their plates with pilfered yam goodness, as if trying to prove me wrong. This year, I’ll bring the pistachio cake and see what happens.

    Congrats on the new book, Libby!!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I was famous for that oatmeal chocolate cookie recipe that came from the Quaker Oatmeal box (maybe I made them extra-crispy so no one recognized
      them?). Oh, and Stove Top stuffing. Apparently no one makes it quite like I do.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Kathy … I stumbled on Grandma’s Dump Cake: 20 oz can pineapple chunks, 8oz shredded coconut, yellow cake mix, 2 sticks of butter. Dump the pineapple. Dump the coconut on top. Dump the cake mix and smooth it. Cut the butter into 16 pats and place evenly over the top. Bake it at 350 x 45 minutes or so.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, dear. Am I the only one who gets a nagging plagiarism tic from hearing the “Connie” story? Clearly I’m too serious. An editor worries 😕

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Neither “Connie” or I have published a cookbook so I think we’re safe. The anxiety I always have over my recipes in the back of my books is that I’m afraid someone will say I stole it from them and changed a bunch of stuff. I make up most of my recipes. I’ll create something ridiculous that sounds amazing off the top of my head. Then I’ll Google it and find three blogs with similar recipes. There are no new foods. Mine are always gluten free and I test them to make sure they work since I’m designing them. But at the end of the day a brownie will still be a brownie no matter what crazy thing I’ve done to it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. When I worked as an in-house editor, our rule was that authors had to change a recipe by 4 ingredients (like, add coconut and raisins and dump the nuts). Also, throw in lemon, bc everyone likes it. And olive oil (kidding).

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I have many recipes from family & friends that I love to make. I always give credit where credit is due. I share most of my recipes. I believe cooks always have at least one recipe that is just theirs

    Liked by 5 people

    1. There are very few things i do repeatedly. Chocolate Chip Cookies is one of my standards. Plus I make this delicious Vanilla Rum ice cream. I’ve won an award for banana custard pie that is basically French pastry cream and bananas on shortbread crust. Most of the time I like to make up something different. It frequently turns to disaster.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m always happy to give away my recipes. But since I don’t bake much and I often cook by the seat of my pants, they tend to be, “Oh, just add a bit of [X] and enough [Y] till you can taste it, and then finish it with a drizzle of [Z].” Which frustrates most people so they don’t try to recreate it. But then again, neither can I.

    As for “secret” ingredients, I think folks are often loathe to divulge them because they consist of something like instant pudding or a pre-packaged mix, and so they’re slightly embarrassed to admit it.

    (My next Sally Solari book, MURDER FROM SCRATCH–releases April 9th!–actually concerns recipe stealing, which can get professional chefs pretty darn upset.)

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Exactly my point Leslie! You think I am proud the above recipe has Lipton soup mix in it? Nope! But it does. And that’s that.
      And yes to your “ex-lawyer “ comment. I researched multiple ways, and the copyright is in how it is written, that’s it.
      FYI, is there such a thing as an ex-lawyer? You will always be a lawyer. You are just a non practicing lawyer. That kind of like saying my dad was a marine. Nope! Marines are always marines, they’ve just moved on.

      Liked by 5 people

  10. We cook the same way Leslie. Most of the time my finished recipe went off the rails at some point and I have to make a course correction to get it to the finish line. I couldn’t reproduce it if I had to.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Which makes it especially hard to write down the recipes for our books, right? I have to make the recipe, measuring every little thing as I go, and then keeping track of how much more I add of ingredients to make it work as I go along. So tedious!

      Liked by 4 people

  11. Libby, this was so much fun, just like your series! Does Figaro help in the kitchen as much as he assists in your writing process?

    Liked by 6 people

  12. I’m at the stage of life where I don’t really cook anymore, and I was never wild about baking. So, of course, I wrote a cookbook. It’s full of recipes I’ve been making over the years, healthed up for the modern age. It started as a small gift for my daughter when she was in her first apt and it snowballed, as such things do. It’s a low-calorie cookbook for people who want to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen.

    God bless those of you who like to cook, though! My sister is one of you and she put together a Clark family cookbook with a bunch of my grandma’s recipes. One we still mock to this day is her Vegetable jello: lime jello, can of Veg-All, shredded carrots and mayo.

    I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s also a recipe for Velveeta Fudge. I did, however, find Grandma’s recipe for Mashed Potato Candy: 1C mashed potatoes, 8C (!!!) powdered sugar, and 2T butter.

    Feel free to steal either of those recipes. Or give them to Connie.

    No family cookbook would be complete without my dad’s martini recipe: 4oz good gin or vodka, 2 Manzanilla olives, 1# cracked ice, divided …. “Fill one stemmed cocktail glass with cracked ice. Set aside. Put remaining ice in cocktail shaker or tall glass. Add gin or vodka. Stir, do not shake. Shaking will cause toothache or toe fungus. Stir for 17 seconds. Pour out ice from cocktail glass. Lift bowl of glass to lips and whisper the word “vermouth” into bowl. For a softer drink you may whisper “vermouth” a second time. No more than twice, as this will dilute the beverage. Strain ice from shaker and pur beverage into glass. Skewer olives and add to glass. Sip slowly. Serves one.”

    My younger sister was making his martinis at about age 4.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Found it! My sister swears by it, but I’ve never had it,
      3/4 lb. (12 oz.) VELVEETA, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
      1 cup butter or margarine
      1-1/2 pkg. (4 oz. each) BAKER’S Unsweetened Chocolate (6 oz.), broken into pieces
      2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
      2 pkg. (16 oz. each) powdered sugar (about 8 cups)
      1-1/2 cups chopped PLANTERS Pecans
      1 tsp. vanilla

      1 Add the cubed cheese, butter, chocolate and corn syrup in a microwaveable bowl. Nuke it on high for 2 minutes. Stir and nuke 1 more minute. Mind you, this is probably the directions for a 1000 watt microwave, so adjust accordingly.

      2 Place the powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add the chocolate mix 1/4 at a time to the sugar, beating with a mixer on medium speed. Mix until everything is blended very well before you add another 1/4 of the chocolate.

      3 Stir in nuts and vanilla.

      4 Spread into a 13×9 inch pan that has been buttered. Chill for several hours. Cut into 1 inch pieces.

      Recipe courtesy of the Kraft website.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. “It’s a low-calorie cookbook for people who want to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen.”

      i.e. 1. chop lettuce. 2. put lettuce in bowl. 3. eat lettuce. 4. wallow in self pity and reconsider life choices.

      Velveeta fudge sounds horrifying – but I’ve heard it’s delicious. I have not been desperate enough to try it yet.

      My father’s top-secret fudge recipe. (found on the side of the can of sweetened condensed milk) was 1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips melted into 1 can sweetened condensed milk. Mixed with a giant glob of smooth Jif peanut butter. Spread into a bread pan and hide from the family.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Chop lettuce??? Don’t you know they already do that for you and put it in a handy little bag?? And for the record, I’m not wallowing. I had this discussion recently with someone. I said I don’t cook much anymore, but I only consider it “cooking” if I use a recipe. So last night when I baked a ham, roasted yams, and steamed some asparagus, that wasn’t “cooking.”

        Oh, and the secret ingredient in my Secret Ingredient Brownies is black beans. So delish!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. He’s a hoot-and-a-half, Leslie. Sill kicking around at age 88, but has given up most of his martinis. Not all, mind you, but most. Planning another trip to Ireland in a couple of months. I think he’s been there 20 times or so!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. LOVE this post so much (and your books too–so excited to read this one–and congrats on the launch)!

    When I was growing up, we used to have pistachio pudding all the time…I was kind of obsessed with it. That cake looks like heaven to me.

    Is it just me or does it feel like a revolution was started here today? > #dontgivetoconnie

    Thanks so much for visiting today, Libby!

    Liked by 3 people

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