Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Try as I Might, I can't get Organized When I Write

CREATIVE MINDS ARE RARELY TIDY. I once saw a sign with that quote on a teacher's desk. It is a quote that wholeheartedly applies to me. My newest attempt to get organized with my writing projects is an according file with labeled sections. Since my "office" is also my dining room table, I am constantly looking for things to keep my papers contained. I also need organizational options that are easy and quick to put away when the dining room table has to be cleared for company. If this folder works for me, I might be going back to Target for more! How do you stay organized?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Ogden Nash was one of my favorite humorous poets, but I disagree with him on some things. Parsley, among them.

Here is a poem he wrote about the wonderful herb:

Further Reflections on Parsley

by Ogden Nash

Is gharsley.

The opposite of gharsley.

See, I disagree with him, there. I like parsley very very much. I chop it and use it fresh, and I dry it for later. I mix it with butter and pour it over boiled new potatoes. I add it to pesto and green smoothies. I use it to make tabouli and couscous salad.

Do you use parsley as anything besides a garnish?

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, July 18, 2014

Chocolate Kahlua Cake with Salted Hazelnut Chocolate Buttercream

Chocolate Kahlua Cake with Salted Hazelnut Chocolate Buttercream

I found this yummy recipe on The Naptime Chef. Click the link above for the story behind the cake and the chef's notes!


1 ½cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½cups superfine sugar
3teaspoons instant espresso dissolved in ½ cup boiling water
2tablespoons kahlua
2tablespoons whole milk
3cups all-purpose flour
2tablespoons baking powder
1/3cup cocoa powder
1teaspoon kosher salt
For the Frosting:
12ounces semisweet chocolate
12ounces bittersweet chocolate
5large egg whites
1 ½cups superfine sugar
1pinch cream of tartar
2teaspoons kosher salt
1pound unsalted butter, room temperature
2teaspoons hazelnut extract
1cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour 3 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together for 10 minutes, until light and airy. Meanwhile, dissolve the espresso in the boiling water and set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt and set aside.
3. Once the butter is fluffy add the eggs and mix well. Then add the rum, milk and espresso and beat until incorporated.
4. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined. The batter will be very fluffy. Evenly distribute it amongst the three baking pans and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes in their pans, then remove them and place them on wire racks to cool completely.
5. To make the buttercream: Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl and warm them over simmering water for about 6 minutes, or until warm to the touch. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate together in the microwave and stir together. Set aside.
6. Place the cooled egg whites in a mixing bowl and whip until they hold stiff peaks. Then beat it the butter in small pieces, followed by the salt, melted chocolate and hazelnut extract. The frosting should be fluffy and light!
7. Frost the cake between each layer and all along the outer edges and top. Then, scatter the hazelnuts all along the top of the cake and press them along the sides as well. Serve!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Subway to the Rescue!

My daughter was in a softball tournament last weekend. It was in the middle of nowhere and we had to be there for over 6 hours. Since going to a restaurant was just not an option, a team mom thought of an easy way to bring restaurant food with the team. We could choose between turkey or ham $5.00 foot longs from Subway. There was an option of white bread or wheat bread. Subway included trays of cheeses, tomatoes and shredded lettuce. All of the sandwiches were packed in a cooler. At lunchtime, the sandwiches were handed out. The sandwich toppings, chips, cookies, watermelon and a cooler of drinks rounded out the perfect ballpark picnic!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pasta Pesto Make-o Presto

The longest part of this recipe is waiting for the basil to germinate and grow big enough to harvest.

ONCE THAT HAPPENS, It takes next to no time to make pesto.
4 cups washed basil leaves
1/4 cup garlic-infused olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts or cashews*)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
salt to taste
lemon juice to taste

Process in a food processor or blender or, if you're a stickler and have more time than you know what to do with, grind it bit by bit with a mortar and pestle. Yeah, right.

*To make it vegan, use cashews, increase amount of cashews to closer to 1/2 cup, and leave out the cheese. Add a tablespoon or so of nutritional yeast, if desired.

Measure 1/2 cup or so into a sandwich bag, squish the bag as flat as possible, seal, and freeze flat. When you need some pesto, it'll be quick and easy to break of a bit to toss into a pot of soup, or it'll take no time for the whole bag to thaw.

Alongside the pasta with pesto are its besties, Mr. Hominy and Mr. Mushrooms-Peppers.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, July 14, 2014

The only way to eat zucchini! by Joyce Lavene

Zucchini Bread – The only way to eat zucchini!
By Joyce Lavene 

I’m not a big fan of zucchini. But I have a lot of friends, family, and neighbors who grow it and want to give it away. I’m not sure if this is because THEY don’t want to eat it either, or they just grow too much.

Whatever the reason, I end up with a lot of zucchini every year. The only way I’ve found to eat it (without deep frying) is making it into bread. It’s not too bad this way, and you can freeze the bread and give it as gifts to the people who gave you the zucchini!

Here’s my recipe:

Grease the bottoms of 2 loaf pans with shortening or cooking spray.

Mix 3 cups of shredded zucchini with a cup and a half of sugar (or equivalent sweetener), 2/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 tsp. vanilla, 4 eggs, 3 cups of flour, 2 tsp. baking soda (unless you use self-rising flour), 1 tsp cinnamon, and ½ tsp. ground cloves. Or use 2 tsps. pumpkin pie spice. Mix well.

I like nuts and raisins in my bread. If you do too, add ½ cup chopped nuts, and ½ cup raisins to batter. 

 Then divide the batter between the 2 pans.

Bake for an hour or do the toothpick inserting thing to check if it’s done. Cool.

Slide bread out of pans and wrap with plastic. Eat within a few days or store in freezer for up to a few weeks.

Bewitching Boots by Joyce and Jim Lavene will be out on August 5th! This is the 7th book in the Renaissance Faire Mysteries. To read an excerpt:

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Homemade Ice Cream...In A Bag?

I saw this on Pinterest today and am wondering if it's good. I saw several versions of the "homemade ice cream in a bag." Some people gave it a thumbs up; others a thumbs down. Have you ever tried it? If so, what do you think?