MISTLETOE, MOUSSAKA & MURDER is the fifth book in the Kebab Kitchen Mystery series by Tina Kashian. As a Christmas cozy mystery, this book hits all the right marks for a delightful read, starting with the adorable cover depicting a sandy snowman on the iconic Jersey shoreline. One of the draws in this series is the special familial bond the protagonist, Lucy Berberian, has with her parents, sister, and friends. Despite the bickering her parents exhibit from time to time, there’s still love between them that flows over to how Lucy interacts with those around her. I also have enjoyed watching Lucy grow over the course of the series, especially with her relationship with Azad, the chef at their restaurant and am excited to see what happens in future books as they plan their nuptials. Other core characters are Kate, Lucy’s long-time best friend and her landlady, elderly Eloisa. Kate, married to a detective, brings humor to situations as Lucy’s sidekick and sleuthing partner, while larger-than-life Eloisa brings outright hilarity.
The murder mystery of who killed a local reception hall owner in sight of scores of people during the annual Polar Bear Plunge was cleverly done. Ms. Kashian writes a tightly plotted tale with clues sprinkled throughout to keep a sharp reader on their toes. With the interjection of holiday cheer, descriptions of the quintessential boardwalk and the businesses that thrive on tourism, and adorable Gaddoo (which is cat in Armenian), this book is a cozy, lighthearted read. The reveal caught me unawares as I was caught up in the holiday celebration, which added to my enjoyment in this well-crafted story.
With the family’s Mediterranean restaurant, the Kebab Kitchen, being a central setting, there are plenty of mentions of delicious ethnic foods throughout the book. I really liked that Ms. Kashian expanded the plot to also include a delectable bakery in the mix and includes recipes from both venues at the back of the book. Since my granddaughter is a huge lemon dessert fan, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the recipe for lemon meringue pie! It was every bit as sweet-tart as I had hoped and the meringue whipped up nice and fluffy with no problems at all. Since I used a pre-made refrigerated pie crust (Pillsbury is highly rated) this scrumptious dessert didn’t take that long to make much to the delight of my family!
Not even her impending nuptials can keep Lucy Berberian, manager of her family-owned Kebab Kitchen, from the Jersey Shore’s annual Polar Bear Plunge. But her dive into the icy ocean is especially chilling when she finds a fellow swimmer doing the dead man’s float—for real . . .
Who would kill a man in cold blood during Ocean Crest, New Jersey’s most popular winter event? When Lucy learns the victim is Deacon Spooner, the reception hall owner who turned up his nose—and his price—at her wedding plans, she can’t help wondering who wouldn’t kill the pompous caterer . . .
Perhaps the culprit is the wedding cake baker whose career Deacon nearly destroyed? Or the angry bride whose reception he ruined? With her maid of honor, Katie, busily planning Lucy’s wedding without her, Lucy will have to get to the bottom of this cold-hearted business in time for Kebab Kitchen’s mouthwatering Christmas celebration—and before her hometown’s holiday spirit washes out to sea . . .
A special thanks to Tina Kashian for providing one lucky winner with a print copy of MISTLETOE, MOUSSAKA & MURDER! Giveaway is limited to U.S. residents. Contest ends Sunday, October 11, 2020 at 11:59 pm PST. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 3 eggs, separate yolks from whites and keep both
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- Grated rind of 1 lemon
- Baked and cooled pastry pie shell
- 3 egg whites (reserved from the filling)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons sugar
Combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt and mix together.
Gradually add the water, stir and cook the ingredients over low heat until the mixture gently boils. It should thicken and become smooth.
Beat the egg yolks together in a bowl, then slowly and constantly whisking, add in 1 cup of the hot sugar mixture. Once incorporated, slowly add the warmed egg mixture back to the saucepan containing the remaining sugar mixture, whisking the entire time. Cook over low heat for three minutes, constantly stirring.
Stir in the butter, lemon juice, and lemon rind.
Allow to cool on stovetop, then pour custard into the baked pie shell and cool in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F).
It's easiest to use an electric mixer to make the meringue. Beat the egg whites with the salt in a small bowl until light and frothy.
Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat at high speed until the mixture will stand in peaks, about 4 - 5 minutes.
Add the vanilla extract and beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Cover the chilled pie filling with the meringue until it touches the edges of the pastry to prevent the meringue from shrinking.
Bake at 425 degrees (F) for five minutes. Cool and then refrigerate until cold before serving.
Pin to Pinterest:
I was provided with an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
My daughter did! It was crazy cold–we live in MN–close to calling it off. I was impressed with the speed at which the groups seem to move and the warming tents etc that were so close by.
It definitely is an adventure to run into the freezing Atlantic Ocean. I’m impressed by your daughter! Thanks for commending and stopping by!
I have only ever seen a Polar Brat Plunge on TV.
Hi Christine. I’ve never seen one on TV yet!
I’m from MN, too. No way would I ever do that – I’ll just watch on TV and shake my head!
Hi Karen. I hate the cold in general. I only made it up to my calves and it was a trip to the beach with my family in the early winter.
NEVER have and never would participate in a Polar Bear Plunge!! BRRRRRR
Hi Wendy! It certainly is cold. I don’t even like it in the spring when the Atlantic Ocean is still very chilly!
I have only seen them on TV or in movies – definitely not for me!
I would if I was 25 years old again lol ?
Hi Kim! Too funny! the things we do when we are in our twenties.
Nope never to either.
I live in MN but would never do one, I have seen them on television. Thank you for the chance
I have watched a small version of it. Locally they have s polar bear plunge as a fundraiser for the high school each year.
Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “MISTLETOE, MOUSSAKA & MURDER” by Tina Kashian. Most definitely on my TBR list. Love the cover!
Lemon Meringue Pie always makes me think of my Granny who not only made the best, but it was her favorite kind of pie. This recipe sounds very much like hers and one I will be tryiing.
Hi Kay! I love lemon meringue pie. It was my dad’s favorite too. I like the sweet and the tart together.
I have never done a polar bear plunge and I will never be brave enough to try it! Thanks for the recipe lemon meringue pie is one of my favorites! I love this book cover! Thanks for the chance!
I have only watched on TV, it makes me cringe… Oh, the shock the body must feel, in every nerve at the same time! I will never be brave enough to do it just for fun. Thank you for sharing!
No but when I lived in NH I wanted to go watch some of my favorite radio personalities do the plunge. I would see bits of it on the news.
love to win a copy
I’ve never seen one. I know there’s a town not too far away in Minnesota that holds it, though it’s called off now and then for being too cold.
Only on the news!
I am too much of a chicken to participate in that lol. I would rather be reading by a cozy fire 🙂 . This recipe brings back memories of my dad. Lemon Meringue Pie was his favorite. He passed when I was in high school. The book sounds like a great read! Love the cover! Esp. the kitty! Love to read holiday themed cozies too.
Hi Dawn! We have this in common. Lemon Meringue was my dad’s favorite dessert too and he also passed away. I like it the most in my family now.
Yes I have watched a polar bear plunge and it is so fun for the people going into the water. I wish I could do but battling a disease and can’t but maybe if i did it then it would scare the disease right out of me. When I lived in the Bay Area 20 min south of SF for 49 years I had never heard of it then married and Iowan and oh yes there are things I didn’t know happened in the midwest and other areas!
No, I have never participated in a polar plunge.
I love cold weather, but just seeing those plunges makes my nerve endings hurt. Good for those who can do it.
I have never done a polar plunge.
No I never participated in or watched a “Polar Bear Plunge. Thank you for a chance to win a print copy of Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder.
I’ve managed to miss seeing them or being a participant.
I never have. It would be fun to watch.
No I have not. Sounds interesting. This book looks fascinating
yes, I have. It is always cold.
Hi Kathleen! Yay! Someone who has participated.You are very brave.
I haven’t done either one.
I have a cousin that does it every year in Michigan!
Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for making the fabulous recipe of my lemon meringue pie. Thank you also for the fabulous review of “Mistletoe, Moussaka and Murder.” I appreciate the amount of time it takes to read and review!
It’s such a pleasure hosting you on the blog, Tina! Thanks for the chance to help you celebrate your new release and sample your yummy pie!
No I have never watched or participated in a Polar Bear Plunge. I have a niece that does! I LOVE Lemon Meringue Pie!! Thanks for the chance!
Yes I watched my friends years ago and in the excitement of waiting by the water with the towels I almost rushed in!
I have only seen people jump into cold water during a Polar Bear Plunge on TV. I have never experienced the icy plunge in person.
no i have never been to a polar bear plunge – brrrrr
I have not even heard of it I don’t think. thanks for the chance.
They do it in Chicago every year, so I’ve seen it on TV. I have no plans to participate.
Oh yum, yum on Susan Cutie’s Lemon Meringue Pie recipe! I’m writing it down, Thanks so much!!
Thank you for the giveaway! I’ve never seen a Polar Bear Plunge except for on TV and I’ve never participated in one. I don’t think I have the chutzpah to give it a try!
I’ve seen polar plunge on tv.
Love anything lemon
I’ve seen it on tv. One of my coworker’s boyfriend participated in a Polar Bear Plunge last year. Thank you for this chance.
no i have not
Nope! I would never do it but then again if I’m having Hot flashes I just might!
I wouldn’t do it but know someone who has & watched them.
I have never participated in a polar bear plunge. It takes me half an hour to get my entire body under water in a regular pool! I would be happy to read about it in this book, though! ?
Yes, I have seen one.
I HAVE WATCHED….BUT NEVER PARTICIPATED….TOO COLD.
I watched only on TV. I couldn’t stand the thought of jumping in freezing water.
I’ve only seen a Polar Bear Plunge on TV. I prefer indoor activities in the winter!!
I have never participated in nor witnessed a Polar Bear Plunge. I may live in Pennsylvania where it is cold seven months of the year, but I don’t like the cold!
I haven’t as of yet.
I have never participated in a Polar Plunge. They definitely have them here in northern Michigan, but it’s so cold here already without adding frozen swimming to the mix! I’m the type who is always cold and takes forever to warm up, so jumping into an ice covered lake is not my idea of fun.
No, I haven’t and will never do participate in a Polar Plunge. They are held annually where I live in the frozen North and I think participants are crazy.
I have watched-and that’s enough for me!
I have never participated or watched in person. Our local newspaper has wonderful coverage of events like this. I am not sure it is something I would enjoy!
I have never watched or participated in person. I hate being cold and wet.
I’ve never done it and I don’t think I ever will. Thanks for your great generosity.
I have only seen them a TV, and no I would never go in the water
I have never seen one in person, I have watched it on tv and it looks to be absolutely crazy!! I can’t even imagine how cold it is. I don’t even like getting out of the lake when it’s 90 degrees outside with a breeze.. I think I would absolutely turn into a popsicle. LOL
No it’s too cold?
I have never been in or seen a polar bear plunge. I don’t think I would do one, though…it’s too cold. The lemon meringue pie reminds me of my mom. It was her favorite. I loved the lemon part but not a fan of meringue.
We have a Polar Bear Plunge into Lake Erie. I watched on the news but never tried it. Burrrrrrr.
We have seen one or more of the Polar Plunges live in Boston a number of times years ago but never participated personally!
Brr – NO! I don’t like really cold winters. I thought the Pacific Ocean up in Washington state was cold, and that was in the summer! I now live in Florida, where the water is actually a little too warm … I guess I’m just not satisfied …
I have only seen highlights of it on the news!
I haven’t participated in or watched a polar plunge event.
I have not participated in a polar plunge event. have watched a polar plunge event online, but never in person.
Not yet. But , never say never! Lol!
I have seen it on TV but that is all.