Ginny’s Spice Bars by Linda Reilly

One of the things I love most about the holidays are all the delectable recipes people share with me. While I’m not the best cook, or baker, I occasionally land on a favorite that entices me to pull out the old apron every season (metaphorically, since I don’t own an apron) and whip up some goodies.

Years ago, I worked with a wonderful woman named Ginny. She had so many talents I lacked that I was always in awe of her. When I was trying to shave off a few pounds (okay, more than a few), she kept me on the straight and narrow by rationing my daily cheese treats. One cheese stick per day at mid-morning–that was it! One day when she’d been out of the office for the morning, my willpower wobbled. I ate a second cheese stick. The minute Ginny walked in, she knew from my expression what I’d done. “You ate a second one, didn’t you?” she said. Like a defendant in a Perry Mason episode, I broke down and confessed. If this sounds like a lot of drama, it was all in great fun and gave us plenty of giggles. Ginny has since moved away to warmer climes and I still miss her, but I’d like to share her recipe with you.

Every holiday season, Ginny presented each of her co-workers with a batch of her delicious spice bars. Tucked into a cozy holiday tin, they were tender pillows of spicy ginger and molasses, so loaded with butter that the first time I ever tasted one, I nearly melted to the floor. They were like potato chips–I couldn’t eat just one. In fact, I couldn’t eat just five!

Ginny’s Spice Bars

  • ¾ cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided (I used festive red and green sugar for the 2 tablespoons)
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl combine butter, 1 cup sugar and molasses. Beat in egg until smooth. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt; stir into the molasses mixture. Spread into a greased 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake 375° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Do NOT overbake. Cool pan on a wire rack before cutting.

Tip: On my first try I overbaked the bars for approximately a minute. The result was a slightly less tender spice bar. So, resist the urge to shove the pan back in the oven “for another minute or two,” like I did! When they seem a tad underdone, they’re done!

Holiday cookies are to die for in my third Cat Lady Mystery, CLAWS FOR CELEBRATION.
As watercolor artist Lara Caphart scrambles to get ready for the upcoming season, she decides to create a recipe for cats treats to sell at the annual Cookie Competition. While “Lara’s Cat Nips” turn out to be a big hit, not everyone is a happy elf. Someone saw to it that one of the judges was eliminated…permanently. Now Lara will have to create a new recipe–one that will help her ferret out a diabolical killer. With all the cats she and Aunt Fran have to care for at the High Cliff Shelter, how will she ever find time? You can find out more at:

Feline deadly this Christmas . . .

Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, celebrates all things Christmas, and few things are more beloved than the town’s annual holiday cookie competition. Lara Caphart, who runs the High Cliff Shelter for Cats with her Aunt Fran, is waiting for the green light for a brand-new category: pet-friendly cookies. But when the woman filling in as a last-minute judge dies after sampling someone’s Santa-themed treat, Lara’s recipe for healthy cat snacks will have to be put on the back burner.

The victim, Gladys Plouffe, was the town’s roundly despised former home economics teacher. The chief suspect is the mother of Lara’s best friend, who was hellbent on walking away with the bake-off’s cash prize. Cryptic clues from beyond the grave only deepen the mystery, pointing to a cat with striking blue eyes—a cat who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lara’s mysterious Ragdoll. As Lara begins a dangerous game of cat and mouse, not even her significant other may be able to stop a perfectly clawful killer from getting away with the purr-fect crime . . .

Praise for Linda Reilly’s Mysteries

“I was kept guessing until the final chapter. . . . A perfect cozy mystery.” —Susan Furlong, author of the Georgia Peach Mysteries, on Escape Claws

“I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzler of a mystery. Reilly cooks up a perfect recipe of murder and mayhem in this charming cozy.” —Jenn McKinlay, New York Times bestselling author of the Hat Shop Mysteries, on Fillet of Murder

“Smart, sassy, and a little bit scary. Everything a good cozy should be!” —Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, on Fillet of Murder