The Lake Eden Cookbook is a host of recipes developed and baked by cozy mystery super sleuth Hannah Swenson at her “The Cookie Jar” in the fictional town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. If you love cookies and cozy mysteries, check out the series by author Joanne Fluke from the very first in the series: The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.
As a busy-body sleuth and full-time cookie store owner, Hannah Swenson is always contemplating cookies. It’s also not unusual to find her whipping up a something savory in the kitchen. In my first attempt at making some recipes a few years ago, I tried Desperation Cookies, Salmon Cakes with Dill Sauce, Mexican Hotdish, and Sally’s Sunny Vegetable Salad – all from the Lake Eden Cookbook.
There are more than twenty books in this lighthearted and tasty cozy mystery series. You can pick them up from Amazon, or haunt your local bookstore for used copies.
Full disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a link and buy something (even if it’s not the particular book,) I receive a little compensation.
Lake Eden Cookbook
The Desperation Cookies caused nothing but desperation for me. In fact, I baked two batches of these “everything but the kitchen sink” cookies and both failed miserably. To this day, I really don’t know why. As a teenager, I was the family’s chief cookie baker. I baked double batches of cookies nearly every week and can’t remember running into a recipe this troublesome. I haven’t tried any cookie recipes from a Hannah Swenson book since then…until now.
I made the salmon cakes with dill sauce for dinner one night. They were easy enough to pull together, but tended to crumble in the pan; I probably could have used another egg to help them stay formed as patties. Overall the taste was satisfying, but nothing spectacular, even with the heavy cream and fresh dill.
Another night I split the better part of the Mexican Hotdish and Sally’s Sunny Vegetable Salad with a friend. This was a rousing success, though admittedly not spectacular knock-yer-socks-off awesome. For Sally’s Sunny Vegetable Salad, I’d boiled my veggies to tender crisp; that made all the difference in the success of the salad. Even Sally at the Lake Eden Inn doesn’t do that.
I suppose my lack of enthusiasm is based in provincialism. Hannah lives in the fictional tiny town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. The savory recipes presented sparingly throughout the series are often hearty, stick-to-your-bones, casual food served at potluck suppers in the middle of a long, cold winter. Nothing wrong with that, though casseroles (known as hotdishes in Minnesota) don’t lend themselves to “spectacular” in my mind. Or taste buds.
Raspberry Danish Murder
Recently, a friend lent me book 22 in the series – Raspberry Danish Murder, and I decided to try he recipes once again. This time I baked the Chili-Cheese Omelet Squares and the Chocolate Cherry Bar Cookies.
One criticism I have is that the recipes are oversimplified and lengthy. The recipe for the omelet squares is two pages long – not bad. But the recipe for the bar cookies? If you count the optional chocolate frosting it’s five pages long. Five pages for bar cookies!
For example, instead of just saying 1 12-15 ounce jar cherry preserves, the recipe says 1 jar (12 to 15 ounces) cherry preserves (that’s jam with cherries in it.) Well, duh!
Another example is this super helpful tip: “You can mix the flour and the baking powder with a fork.”
The recipes also include notes from written by baker and sleuth Hannah like this: “You can mix up these bar cookies by hand with a wooden spoon in a large bowl, or with an electric mixer. Either way will work just fine.”
You’re kidding, right? I’m going to mix these up however the heck I want to…and probably experiment or improvise with the recipe, too.
Chili-Cheese Omelet Squares
I definitely experimented with this for Chili-Cheese Omelet Squares. It’s a winner for breakfast because you can whip it up in the morning, throw it into the oven, jump in the shower, and by the time you’re dressed, breakfast is just about out of the oven.
I tweaked the recipe in the cookbook by adding the corn and black pepper – and substituting Ortega Taco Sauce for the tomato sauce and chili powder. How would you change the recipe up to suit your family?
Chili-Cheese Omelet Squares
- 2 cups cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies
- 1 can whole kernel corn drained
- 2 cups havarti or Monterey Jack cheese shredded
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk or half and half
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- 3 large eggs
- 1 can Ortega taco sauce
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 x 8 pan.
Combine milk, flour, salt, black pepper, cumin, and eggs until well blended. Set aside.
Into the prepared pan, layer about half the cheddar cheese, then half the green chilis, half the corn, and half the havarti or Monterey Jack cheese. Repeat for a second layer.
Slowly pour the milk mixture over the cheese.
Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cook at least 10 minutes, then serve with the Ortega taco sauce or your choice of salsa.
Instead of Ortega Taco Sauce, the original recipe suggests combining 8 ounces tomato sauce with 1/4 chili powder.
This could easily be doubled for a 9x13 pan to feed a crowd.
Chocolate Cherry Bar Cookies
I adore the combination of chocolate and cherry, plus their bar cookies, so I had to try these. And – despite my previous bad experience with Hannah Swenson cookies – these were a success!
I suspect you could eliminate the coconut and up the cherry content even more, if you’d like. I might like them better with cherry pie filling instead of cherry preserves; that would really make the cherry sing in these. And can’t you just imagine these with a chocolate cookie base?
Here’s the base layer with cherry preserves.
You add a layer of coconut, then chocolate chips and walnuts, and finally more cookie dough batter.
30 minutes later, they come out of the oven. Let them sit as long as you can stand it. Mine were pretty crumbly, but ooo yess – look at this!
If I ever make these again, I would make the base layer a little thicker and smush down the top layer, too.
The recipe says you could even frost these with a chocolate frosting, but that *might* be going a little too far, even for me.
Cherry Chocolate Bar Cookies
- 1 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup salted butter softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 12-ounce jar Smucker's cherry preserves or similar
- 2 cups coconut minced
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup walnuts chopped, optional
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.
Combine sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, flour, baking powder. Press all but 1 cup into the prepared pan.
Take the cherry preserves and heat the jar in the microwave about 20 seconds or until they flop out of the jar with ease. Spread them on the cookie dough.
Cover the cherry with coconut, optional walnuts, and chocolate chips. Press down slightly.
Drop the remaining dough on top of the chocolate chips as you please. Press down again, if you wish.
Bake 30-35 minutes. Cool thoroughly.
In the original recipe, there is mention of adding walnuts to the cookie base, but no quantity is given. I threw a half cup of walnuts into the cherries and the recipe turned out just fine.
Optional Neverfail Frosting
1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
Bring butter, sugar, and cream to boil on medium high heat. Stir constantly. Turn heat down to medium and stir for 2 minutes.
Add chocolate chips, stir them in, remove from heat. Let the mixture cool without stirring for one minute, then add in the vanilla.
Pour the frosting on the cake (or cookies) and spread it out quickly. Cool completely before cutting and serving.
Curious about Hannah Swenson series? Check out author Joane Fluke’s website.
I’m delighted that these recipes worked for me. Have you read any of these books or cooked any of the recipes?