Jenn McKinlay

New York Times Bestselling Author

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Jenn McKinlay's News #1

August 1, 2012

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes
What was that noise?

Okay, so I'm dead asleep the other night when a noise wakes me up with a jolt. It's a spooky, rattling sort of noise like something you'd hear during a zombie movie. I nudge the Hub and he fumbles to a half awake state with a "Huh?" I ask him if he heard anything and he assures me that he did not. He pats my hip and promptly goes back to sleep. Hmm. I continue to study the ceiling while listening to the house settle. I do not hear the noise again and convince myself that it must have been our schnauzer, Otto, who sleeps with us and occasionally has flatulence issues.

Several days later as I'm pulling on my mom outfit du jour of khaki capris and a cupcake t-shirt, I notice that the zipper and buttons are snug. I convince myself the capris shrunk in the wash and move on with my day. As I'm fixing breakfast for my sons, aka the hooligans, instead of eating what is left on their plates as is my usual modus operandi, I make a plate of pancakes for myself as well. Once the hoolies are off to dive lessons, I sit down to write. My waist band is tight and when I glance down I notice there is a decided pooch hanging over the top of my pants. Wow, these pants must have been in the dryer way too long. I go to change only to discover that all my pants have mysteriously shrunk. Yeah, De Nile ain't just a river in Egypt, I know.

Concerned, I march myself into the master bath and step on the scale. I immediately hop off convinced that the hooligans have been monkeying with it. Um...nope. The truth hurts as the saying goes and for the first time in my life, other than pregnancies which don't count, my scale number is significantly on the rise.

Yes, this is the portion of the newsletter where you can lob frozen cheesecakes at me. Really, go ahead, I love cheesecake. Do consider this, however, that while I have been lucky enough to eat whatever I want whenever I want and as much of it as I could, I am also freakishly tall. As in 6 feet in my bare feet, high heels would be redundant on me and the selection of dateable men has been very narrow my whole life. My prom date was 5'4"! No, not kidding. The poor guy had to work with a ladder. So, I think it's only fair that I got to mindlessly binge for the past fifteen years to make up for always being at the back of the group photo, having no bust or bottom to speak of and for always being the person asked to retrieve things from the top shelf.

So, as I stood there pondering this new number, several things went through my head. First, was ten o'clock in the morning too early for lunch? Second, was I going to have to exercise now? This is a problem, given that I only run when someone is chasing me and even then they have to look pretty scary and be carrying a knife. And finally, my feeble brain circled back to the noise I'd heard the other night, and now I knew what it was. It was a death rattle that I'd heard. Obviously, my metabolism had up and died.

The librarian in me quickly set to work. How does a person's body just start to change once they are fully grown? I mean, once you get through the acne years that should be it for nasty surprises, right? Apparently, not. I did some research on the forty-something woman. Here's what I found: "Women in their forties will find their estrogen levels decrease, causing the metabolism to slow down while the appetite increases." You have got to be kidding me! What kind of cosmic butt kicking is that?

I called my girlfriend who is in the midst of “the change” and whined. She cooed sympathetically and said, "Sweetie, Spanx is your friend."

I started checking on diets for forty something women and let me just say, "Water, water everywhere". Six to eight glasses of H2O per day. Are they kidding me? Obviously, these people are unfamiliar with the restorative properties of sweet tea.

Don't even get me started on the fact that I have a cupcake bakery mystery series to write. A series where I spend hours upon hours thinking about cupcakes, researching cupcakes, baking cupcakes and yes, taste testing cupcakes. I mean, come on, I've been known to mainline frosting while trying to sort out a particularly thorny plot point. Sigh. The party, as the saying goes, is over. Insert sad face here.

And so, with the publication of Red Velvet Revenge, I decided that I would endeavor to include a few healthier cupcakes in each book. To celebrate the inaugural launch of my newsletter, I'll share with you one that has quickly become a fave, the vegan vanilla cupcake. With a smooth frosting and a luscious cake, it is pretty tasty for being so all fired healthy.

Vegan vanilla cupcake: A vanilla cupcake with a soy milk base and an organic vanilla frosting.


1 cup vanilla soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup organic flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside until it curdles. Add the agave nectar, oil, vanilla extract to the soy milk mixture and beat with an electric mixer until foamy. In another bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and beat until no lumps remain. Pour into cupcake liners until they are 2/3 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.

Vegan Vanilla Frosting:


6 tablespoons Vanilla Soy Milk
2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Vanilla Bean Paste
1 - 16 ounce package organic powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup organic margarine


In a small bowl mix together, margarine, soy milk and vanilla bean paste. Slowly beat in the sugar until frosting is smooth. Spread on top of cupcake with a rubber spatula.



I will be signing with my buddy Kate Carlisle at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale on August 15th at 7:00 pm

RED VELVET REVENGE, the fourth cupcake bakery mystery, came out on July 3rd and clocked in at #23 on the NYT bestseller’s list. Yay!

BOOK, LINE, AND SINKER, the 3rd library lover’s mystery, comes out on Dec 4th.

A DEAL TO DIE FOR, the second Good Buy Girls mystery, written under my Josie Belle name comes out on Jan 1st.

And I recently just agreed to write an e-short (my first) for the cupcake bakery books from Joe’s perspective. Very excited to get into that boy’s head!

To find out more about what is happening with me, you can find me at my website or on facebook or twitter. Next newsletter is scheduled for Oct 2012.

Happy Summer!