Welcome Author Mia P. Manansala, a bonus recipe, and a #giveaway

Author Mia Manansala is here with us today to celebrate the release of Blackmail and Bibingka, the third book in her Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series, which releases tomorrow in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.. Mia’s also brought us a recipe from the book and will be giving away an autographed copy of the book to one lucky commenter (see below). In keeping with the theme of last week, Blackmail and Bibingka is a holiday story!

Take it away, Mia!

Feasting, Festivities, and Family Drama

What is it about Christmas that makes it such a perfect setting for books and movies of all genres? Is it the fact that this time period somehow simultaneously invokes the warm fuzzies and intense anxiety, a feeling of heartwarming connection as well as heartbreaking loneliness? Or is it because that, for those of us in snowy climes, the image of being snowed in is both romantic and also claustrophobic? Whatever the reason, the Christmas season is a popular setting in various forms of media and my latest book, Blackmail and Bibingka, is no exception.

When her long-lost cousin comes back to town just in time for the holidays, my protagonist, Lila Macapagal, knows that big trouble can’t be far behind. She’s right, because her cousin Ronnie is bringing with him old hurts, new scandals, and, of course, another murder for Lila to solve. As always, this book is full of family drama, a tiny bit of murder, and a whole lot of food!

Bibingka, the titular food, is a rice cake baked/roasted in banana leaves and covered with a multitude of toppings such as butter or margarine, sugar, grated coconut, grated cheese, salted duck eggs, etc. Though eaten year-round, bibingka is most commonly served around Christmas time. I’ve included a recipe for bibingka in the book, but today I wanted to share with you all the Filipino Christmas dessert I love even more than bibingka: Food for the Gods.

Food for the Gods is a sweet, buttery date and walnut bar that is dangerously easy to make (dangerous because they’re absolutely addictive). Hope you give my recipe a try (and pick up Blackmail and Bibingka as well!)

Food for the Gods Recipe


1 ½  cups flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 TBSP vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pitted dates

1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9X13 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper (optional). Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter and both sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Add the flour mixture and beat until well blended with no white streaks remaining. Mix in the chopped dates and nuts.
  5. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick or thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and then slice into bars.
  6. Enjoy!


Mia is giving away a signed paperback copy of her latest book, Blackmail and Bibingka, to one lucky commenter below! (U.S. only.)

Readers: Tell us about your favorite holiday-themed mystery (bonus entry if it’s a non-Christian and/or non-American holiday!), or just say “hi” to be entered to win.

About the book

It’s Christmastime in Shady Palms, but things are far from jolly for Lila Macapagal. Sure, her new business, the Brew-ha Cafe, is looking to turn a profit in its first year. And yes, she’s taken the first step in a new romance with her good friend Jae Park. But her cousin Ronnie is back in town after ghosting the family fifteen years ago, claiming that his recent purchase of a local winery shows that he’s back on his feet and ready to contribute to the Shady Palms community. Tita Rosie is thrilled with the return of her prodigal son, but Lila knows that wherever Ronnie goes, trouble follows.

She’s soon proven right when Ronnie is suspected of murder, and secrets surrounding her shady cousin and those involved with the winery start piling up. Now Lila has to put away years of resentment and distrust to prove her cousin’s innocence. He may be a jerk, but he’s still family. And there’s no way her flesh and blood could actually be a murderer . . . right?


Order from The Book Table or Centuries & Sleuths for signed, personalized copies!

About Mia

Author Mia P. Manansala

Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and certified book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women. She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture, and is the author of the multi-award-winning Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @MPMtheWriter

Or check out her website: www.miapmanansala.com

41 Thoughts

  1. It all depends on the book that is published at the time I’m reading a holiday-themed mystery. Mia, congratulations on your upcoming book release.

  2. Congratulations on your new book! I’m all about Halloween right now and there’s tons of Halloween cozies out there! Besides all the cozies, I love a good ghost story this time of year – The Haunting of Hill House is a favorite. Thank you for the recipe!

  3. Big time congratulations on the new release, Mia! While I don’t have a favorite, I do enjoy a spooky, Halloween -tgemed mystery. Cheers!

  4. I don’t know as I have a favorite holiday themed mystery, I tend to call whatever I’m currently reading my favorite! The Food For The Gods recipe sounds yummy. I’ll have to pick up some dates and give it a try.

  5. Hi! Last year I read Boston Scream Murder, which took place during Halloween. Congratulations on your new release and thank you for the giveaway!

  6. Congratulation on the release of “Blackmail and Bibingka”! Sounds like a fabulous book and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

    Thank you for the Food for the Gods recipe. We love dates and the flavor they add to a dish. I will be trying this – and soon.

    LOVE holiday mysteries all year long. After all, who can’t handle some snow and good cheer in the heat of July! As to a favorite, there’s too many to choose from and always think the one in my hand at the time is the best.

    Thank you for the fabulous opportunity to win a copy.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  7. My favorite Christmas theme mystery is Jacqueline Frost A Christmas Tree Farm Series.

  8. Like others here, I love holiday theme mysteries. Any holiday! And I especially like ones that are of a different culture because I learn so much from them. Looking forward to reading Blackmail and Bibingka.

  9. Right now my favorite the Christmas Cocoa Murder paperback with stories by Charlene O’Connor, Maddie Day and Alex Erickson. It’s the book I just finished and am getting ready to review. Tomorrow it will be Murder in a Cape Cottage by Maddie Day, the book I’m getting ready to start reading. Congratulations on your new book.

      1. Yes. And since I didn’t win a copy of it, I will be buying it 😉😘

  10. Congratulations Mia on your new book which will be released tomorrow! What a wonderful and generous opportunity to win BRACKMAIL & BIBINGKA. It will be delightful to learn about Filipino customs! I printed your recipe, and I must try it, as it sounds delicious. I am from Chile, so when growing up it was hot, and no trace of snow 🙂 The last Christmas themed mystery I read was absolutely wonderful: AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR by Amy Pershing. I look forward to reading BRACKMAIL & BIBINGKA!!! Luis at ole dot travel

  11. I enjoyed Murder in the First Edition by Lauren Elliott. It is set during the Christmas season. To me there is no better holiday than Christmas! It’s so much more than just a holiday. It is a season of hope!

  12. I enjoy reading holiday Mysteries all year. One of my favorite Christmas holiday book is “All I Want For Christmas is Fudge”. Christmas on Mackinac Island makes for a great read.

  13. Holiday mysteries are extra special and Halloween and Christmas are my two favorites. I don’t think I could pick one favorite book, there’s so many. Most recently I read Murder Outside the Lines by Krista Davis, and going to start Halloween Party Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross.

  14. Right now I am reading Be My Ghost by Carol J. Perry and I am enjoying it immensely. I love a great Halloween read. Thanks for the recipe! They sound amazing! Also, congratulations on the new release. It sounds great!

  15. Hi. I love Joanne Fluke’s holiday books. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

  16. Congratulations on your book! I have really been into Joanne Fluke and Leslie Meier Christmas and Halloween theme books.

    Thanks for the chance!

  17. Congratulations, Mia! I’ve loved the first two in your series and can’t wait for this one. My recent holiday favorites are A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes, Christmas on the Riviera (non-US!) by Jennifer Bohnert, The 12 Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss, and Santa’s Little Yelpers by David Rosenfelt.

  18. I enjoy reading holiday cozies and I have read a lot of them. I don’t think I have one particular favorite.

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