The Sisters of Sugarcreek – Finding the Right Ingredients!!!

Posted at Dec 10, 2016 10:45 am

I don’t want to rush through the holidays, but I have to say I’m so excited for the release of The Sisters of Sugarcreek coming up in February 2017. It’s been exciting, too, to see how this book about friendship and hope has lent itself to so many promotion ideas. As a former advertising copywriter and gift product developer, that means HUGE FUN for me!

Since the book is set in the Knit One, Quilt Too Cottage in Sugarcreek, one might think that the first promotion might have to do with knitting or quilting. But it doesn’t. Instead (not allowed to give details just yet!) it revolves around food. Yes, food. It seems throughout this book my characters share main dishes and snacks and desserts quite often.

Now I eat plenty of snacks when I’m sitting at my computer, so it wasn’t like I was starving or anything while writing. But so often food is backdrop for us, don’t you think? When we meet up with girlfriends, even just for coffee or tea, as we empty our cups, we’re always filling each other up—with words of friendship and encouragement which can bring laughter. Hope. Or at least a momentary respite from whatever’s going awry in our lives.

Anyway, in one of the initial chapters of the book, it’s Sunday and Liz Cannon, whose life mission is to cook for others so that she feels she has a life mission, is making her to-do list for the coming week. One item on her list is to check on an elderly neighbor to see if he’s finished the chicken and broccoli casserole she made for him.

Which got me to thinking how my initial attempts with my Chicken and Broccoli casserole and The Sisters of Sugarcreek book have in common.

My husband and I had been married just a month when I attempted my first chicken and broccoli casserole. I’d gotten the recipe from a friend after enjoying it at her house, and I was so excited to be making a “real” dinner for the love of my life, complete with wild rice and applesauce. (Yum.) I was thrilled to be making the special dinner for my special guy on our special anniversary. Plus, knowing what a long commute he had, trekking from Manhattan out to our teensy, wheensy two room (not two bedroom, mind you, but two room) apartment in Queens, I knew he was going to appreciate all the trouble I’d gone to.

So there we were at our also teensy, wheensy table for two, ready to enjoy the feast I’d spent so much time preparing. I waited expectantly for words of delight as my husband took his first bite of the cheese-covered entree. But–those words never came! The recipe hadn’t mentioned that I needed to pre-cook the broccoli and the chicken most of the way before layering it altogether and putting it in the oven. Ultimately I ended up taking the casserole apart, cooking the individual items some more, and putting it back together again.

That’s sort of what happened with The Sisters of Sugarcreek. I started out wanting to write the book after meeting some ladies in Sugarcreek when I was there for a Beaded Hope booksigning. The women were so warm and delightful and the town that way too, that I figured a book set there would give me good reason to go back and visit.

But that first round of Sisters wasn’t all it needed to be. Writers, cooks, parents, doctors, anyone — we don’t always get everything right the first time, do we? So as hard as it was to swallow after so many months and hundreds of pages of writing, I took the book apart and started over again. Luckily, the second time around was the recipe for success! (I’m sorry I couldn’t resist throwing in those food-related puns :))

On both accounts, I’m glad I kept trying. The chicken and broccoli casserole (printed below with the correct directions) has become an all-time family favorite. As well, I got to know my characters – Lydia, Liz and Jessica – so much better during re-writes and they became sort of friends to me. I enjoyed spending time with them each day till there stories were complete. I hope you do too!

Bon Appetite! And Happy Reading Always!


Chicken and Broccoli Casserole


2 pkgs of 10 oz. frozen chopped broccoli 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or more if you wish to get additional dinners out of it) 3 cans of Campbell’s cream of chicken soup 1 cup of mayonnaise 2 tablespoon squeezed fresh lemon or lemon juice 1-2 teaspoons of curry plain bread crumbs 2 cups of shredded mild cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350. Look at chicken breasts and see if any fat needs to be cut off. Cut chicken breasts in half and then place in 9 x 13 glass baking dish and cook in microwave. I usually cook for 3 minutes, turn over, cook for 3 minutes turn over and keep doing that until chicken is cooked through (not pink) and then set aside. ALSO I cover dish with wax paper or paper towel so it doesn’t splatter all over microwave. Rinse out glass dish and then put a teensy bit of water in it. Then fill with the frozen chopped broccoli and lightly salt. Keep microwaving this also at 3 minute intervals until you can see it’s thawed and cooked. (again cover with wax paper or paper towel so not messy) Drain cooked broccoli in colander. While cooking the other two things in microwave, grab a mixing bowl and put in the soup and mayonnaise. Stir together. Add curry and lemon.

Put broccoli back into baking dish and spoon in about 2/3 of the soup/mayo mixture. Stir it around. Then place chicken on top. Cover with remaining soup/mayo mixture. Smooth with spatula. Sprinkle with bread crumbs until all is covered. Then sprinkle cheese over entire dish. Cover with foil and cook for 35 minutes or longer — until you start to see that the soupy part is sort of bubbling and the cheese is all melted.


1 Comment

One response to “The Sisters of Sugarcreek – Finding the Right Ingredients!!!”

  1. Jeneva says:

    That’s a smart way of thnkiing about it.

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