on-the-chopping-blockHi, I’m Calliope Costas, owner of “Callie’s Kitchen” in Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. People call me “Callie,” except for my Dad, George. He was born in Greece and he prefers to use my full name, but most people find “Callie” a lot easier to pronounce.

George is. . .well, he’s complicated. First of all, he’s a great father, especially since we lost my mom at a young age. Let’s just say, he has opinions. Lots of them. This is especially tricky, now that my husband, Hugh, and I split up and I’m the single mom of George’s only grandchild, Olivia. She’s 10 and a smart cookie – sometimes too smart for her own good. For example, she’s not really sure about her new stepmom, Raine. Truth be told, neither am I. Luckily, my maternal grandmother, Viv, and my best friend Samantha, know how to make me look on the bright side. And if they can’t, then my loyal Yorkie, Koukla, (which means ‘little doll’ in Greek) can manage it.

Let me tell you about Crystal Bay, Wisconsin, where I live and work. It’s in the Southeast part of the state and a popular tourist destination – and for good reason. For one thing, my charming hometown is situated on the water, giving us great views, plus lots of opportunities for boating and swimming – though with winter here, we’re enjoying ice fishing and skating.

I figured that Garden Street – the main strip that’s filled with shops and eateries – would be the perfect place to open Callie’s Kitchen. My dad finally gave me his blessing, even though he did want me to eventually take over his small business, a diner called “The Olympia.”

If you ever visit Callie’s Kitchen, I hope you’ll understand why this is my dream business. Because I am a busy mom myself, I know that people sometimes just want a healthy, ready-made meal that is NOT fast food. So that’s what I sell — ready-to-eat homemade meals, baked goods and yummy desserts. Callie’s Kitchen is known for traditional Greek comfort foods I grew up eating – things like spanakopita, Greek chicken stew, loukoumades (delicious Greek doughnuts with honey and cinnamon) and more, plus a sprinkling of traditional Midwestern comfort foods. There’s something for everyone at Callie’s Kitchen.

Sweets are one of my favorite things to make. I serve everything from Greek yogurt coffee cake with crumb topping to breakfast breads and decadent cookies loaded with rich Wisconsin butter. Loukoumades are pretty much always on the menu since they’re George’s favorite. Now that Christmas is coming, I’m really having fun baking up my holiday specialties, including Greek biscotti aka “paxemathia” that are spiced with anise-flavored ouzo, and my spicy gingerbread loaves topped with a luscious white icing.

Customers tell me that when they walk by Callie’s Kitchen, the cinnamon, butter and sugar smells alone are enough to draw them in. Or, if it’s dinner time and they’re hungry, the smell of buttery, cheesy spanakopita is usually enough to get them to peek inside my shop.

Life has had its fair share of ups and downs. My new boyfriend, Drew was murdered and I was a prime suspect just a few months ago. Now, things are looking up, though my business still has a long way to go. I’ve got a really nice guy in my life (he just happens to be a detective with a British accent that I love). Callie’s Kitchen seems to have picked up a bit in business, thanks to my new part-time marketing expert – Piper, friend of my cooking assistant, Max.

Right now, I’m on my way to bring some of my famous kourabiethes, aka Greek snowball cookies, to a bridal shower for Lexy Dayton, a regular at Callie’s Kitchen.

Uh-oh. Just got a text from the party planner at the English Country Inn, the waterfront hotel and restaurant where the bridal shower is being held. Natalie Underwood, the party planner, is great to work with but she is a little stressed out about today’s event. I wonder why.

It’s snowing out today and the roads are sure to be treacherous – though Crystal Bay does look especially beautiful in December. The English Country Inn is known for its stunning Christmas décor – I’m looking forward to taking a look. I’d better get a move on!

Wish me luck today – and don’t forget to stop by Callie’s Kitchen when you have time. I’ll keep the loukamades warm for you!


On the Chopping Block is the first book in the NEW Callie’s Kitchen mystery series, May 2016.

Greek-American food business owner and single mom Calliope “Callie” Costas faces Greek tragedy when a murder shakes the picturesque waterfront community of Crystal Bay, Wisconsin. Recipes included!

Building a small business has been murder, but Callie Costas didn’t expect to be confronted with an actual body. The 36-year-old Greek-American proprietor of “Callie’s Kitchen,” a meals-from-scratch business in an idyllic small town, has been busy creating a post-divorce life for herself, her young daughter and her pet Yorkie, Koukla. After a lot of hard work (including staving off her father’s continual advice), she’s got the locals and tourists clamoring for her delicious Mediterranean dishes and Midwest comfort food classics. Recently, she’s started a budding romance with a fellow foodie, the wealthy owner and chef of Crystal Bay’s most popular bistro.

However, success is as fleeting as one of Wisconsin’s glorious autumn days. As local businesses begin to shut down due to a slow economy, Callie is struggling not to become another statistic. A contest with a hefty cash prize seems like the perfect chance to fix her financial woes, until a shocking murder threatens not only her livelihood – but her life.

When she’s targeted as a prime suspect by an attractive expat British detective, Callie’s situation becomes more delicate than her Greek egg-lemon soup. She’s got to find the killer and fast if she wants to protect her daughter, save her business and stay alive.

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Meet the author
Jenny Kales is the author of On The Chopping Block, the first in The Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series. Her marriage into a Greek-American Midwestern family inspired The Callie’s Kitchen mysteries, featuring Calliope Costas, food business owner and amateur sleuth. The setting of the story, “Crystal Bay,” is inspired by a favorite family vacation spot – Wisconsin’s beautiful Geneva Lakes. Look for Book 2, Spiced And Iced, coming in November!

Jenny is an avid reader, cook and baker and she’s addicted to mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or BBC America. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier. Keep up with author news for Jenny Kales by following her on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. Visit her website at jennykales.wordpress.com.

All comments are welcomed.

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