Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving No Matter How You Slice It

Don and I had our usual two-person, vegetarian Thanksgiving again this year.  We have lived out here in the wilds of Arizona for close to twenty-five years, just the two of us, with all our family far far away in Oklahoma, Missouri, Colorado, and Northern California, and a few other points on the compass. 

When we first moved out here, we made a point of driving back to OK every year for Thanksgiving.  We were younger, then, and wealthier and less encumbered.  Then, fifteen or so years ago, I started a business and was literally unable to travel for pleasure for a decade.  I don’t have the business any more, but now our parents are all gone, and our siblings are flung to the far corners of the earth.

But it’s okay.  We’ve developed our own traditions.  We always cook a vegetarian feast just for us, and eat it while watching an old movie.  One of my TG perennials is The Farmer’s Daughter with Loretta Young and Joseph Cotten.  This year we ate field roast (a type of fake meat) stuffed with hazelnut dressing, gravy and mashed potatoes, the world famous green-bean casserole, whole berry cranberry sauce, rolls, and lots of raw celery, red bell pepper, and olives.  Pumpkin pie, of course.

My youngest sister, who is also a vegetarian, suffered empty nest syndrome this year.  She lives in Denver, her son, daughter-in-law, and the grandkid live in Tulsa, and her daughter, who joined the Army last summer, is posted to Korea along with her husband.  So in order to stave off the Thanksgiving blues, she and her husband went out to eat at a Greek restaurant and took a drive up to Estes Park to enjoy the holiday with the elk.

So whether you had a Thanksgiving houseful of friends and relatives or it was just you and the cat, I hope you made it a special and happy day for yourself.  Now, have an Alka-Seltzer and may you find some really good sales going on.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ever Made a Frittata? If Not, You Oughta!

Chances are that many Fatal Foodies will have fridges full of leftovers come this next Friday. Last year I tried a couple of recipes that put an interesting twist on some of those leftovers.
If you get tired of turkey sandwiches, maybe a stuffing frittata and salad with cranberry vinagrette will hit the spot. Both of these recipes come from Robin Miller of The Food Network. I was a bit skeptical, but they are delicious!

Stuffing Frittata

2-3 cups leftover stuffing
1 cup of shredded cheddar
6 large eggs
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons grated parmesean cheese
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

Directions: Preheat broiler. Coat ovenproof nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Put stuffing in bottom of pan to warm and stir to break up a little. Sprinkle cheese on top. In medium bowl, whisk eggs and whites, milk, mustard, and nutmeg. Pour over stuffing. Sprinkle parmesean over top. Cook on low 5-7 minutes. Transfer to broiler for about 2 minutes.

Cranberry Vinagrette

1/2 cup cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red win vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Directions: Whisk it all together or shake it all up!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another Pumpkin Treat

Leslie is our #3 daughter, and also a friend. Although she's a good cook, she doesn't enjoy it. She likes eating, though, so I'm always happy to have her to dinner. She gave me this recipe.

Leslie's Favorite Pumpkin Dump Cake

  • 15-oz can of pumpkin--not pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 5 or 6-oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 9-oz box yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup melted margarine

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix first six ingredients until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle cake mix on top. Cover with pecans. Pour melted margarine over top. Bake about 45 minutes to an hour.

Whip together well, pour into graham cracker crust and chill 3 or so hours. Top with fresh fruit.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich Combo sister is visiting and we are both Wine connoisseurs.

Okay. Winos. Fine. Are you happy now?

So I made breakfast sandwiches for Sunday brunch today. Healthful breakfast sandwiches. Let me describe.

Turkey bacon (three fat slices per sandwich)W
Whole grain English muffins
Low fat provolone cheese slices
Fried egg with lemon pepper
Black olive tapenade

Put it all together and...well...yum.

That, however, was not enough for the ideal Sunday brunch.

I've been saving a bottle of not too expensive, but VERY good Bordeaux I bought a year ago, saving it for just the right meal. A Chateau la fleur Mongiron, 2003. When I took that first test bite of the breakfast sandwich, something told me this was the moment, the meal, that this bottle was waiting for. So I opened it, put in the wine snorkel (it aerates the wine the same way decanting it does, but without the wait), poured a glass, took another bite of sandwich and then a sip of wine.


Lisa agreed after I gave her a sip of my wine when she'd had the first bite of her sandwich. Sunday brunch decadence. It doesn't get much better than this.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Winter Soup

My last event for 2008, the 4th Annual Authors & Auction, went very well last Sunday.  That's me, standing behind author J.M. Hayes, who is talking to

author  Nancy E. Turner. Over 100 people showed up, we sold a lot of books, auctioned off a lot of nifty stuff for a good cause, and ate ourselves silly on chocolate fondue and cakes of every variety.  Now that the appearances are in abeyance until January, I hope very much to get back to the business of writing, cooking, and generally living a more structured life for a while.

I loved the cookie recipes and the snowy day thoughts from the previous blogs.  Makes me nostalgic for cozy, snowy weather, a fireplace, hot chocolate and a fuzzy sweater.  No snow here.  Today’s high was eighty-five degrees.  Of course, as we say in Arizona, you don’t have to shovel sunshine, so I’ll content myself with my romantic childhood memories of winter. 

All this doesn’t mean that I don’t make plenty of winter comfort foods.  I am particularly fond of soup at  this time of year.  Day before yesterday, I made one of my old standbys, potato-carrot soup, which couldn’t be easier or tastier or more nutritious.  I chopped up two small potatoes, two large carrots, half a large onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic and boiled them until soft in about two cups of vegetable broth.  Then I blended it all, stirred in milk until it was the consistency I like, then returned it to the fire until it was hot.  Serve it with a nice roll, and yum!

We had quite a bit left over, which I used last night as the base for more soup.  I use whatever I have to create something different, so last night I just chopped up another small potato and some more onion and garlic, put it in the leftover pureed soup, added a little water, and cooked until the new ingredients were done.  Didn’t blend it.  It was sort of an oniony potato soup with a nice gold color and a wonderfully creamy consistency.

One of the best winter soups is posole.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  As the Christmas season nears, the traditional thing to do here in the great American Southwest is to eat lots of posole and make tamales for Christmas.  Since I’ve carried on long enough, I’ll give you Dear Readers my posole recipe next week, and we can all look forward to tamales in December.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snow Days and Sweet Surprises

Actually, that title is a little redundant. Snow days are usually sweet surprises, at least for children. I don't think my husband was very thrilled this morning as he trudged out to sweep off the truck, especially since he's had a bear of a cold this week.

I took my jug of rock salt out early this morning and salted the sidewalk all the way to the mailbox and back. Ordered packages are due to arrive, and I don't want the mailman to fall and 1) hurt himself, 2) break whatever goodies are in the packages, and/or 3) sue us. That last one is the result of working too many years for lawyers and judges.

Alas, there were no packages in the mail, but there was a sweet surprise. I had a letter from Guideposts' Senior Editor Elizabeth Kramer Gold. She reminded me that several years ago, Guideposts published a book called Their Mysterious Ways: Amazing Stories About God's Animals and Us and included my essay "The Gatekeeper." The letter was requesting the right to reprint the essay in a new gift version of that book titled Angels in Disguise: When God Sends Animals to Comfort Us to be released next Fall.

I'm excited. I'll get paid for the article again, I'll get a copy of the book, and I was reminded today of the essay I wrote about the best dog I ever had--a St. Bernard named Duke. He was great.

I have macaroni and three types of cheeses in the crock pot. I'm thinking about making pumpkin bread and brownies (and freezing the pumpkin bread for next week). And I'm playing Justice League Heroes with my children.

Don't tell my husband, but snow days rock. ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Warming Hearts, One Cookie at at Time

I once saw a news story about a lady who has made it her mission to get homebaked cookies to our troops. Here is a site about her organization:

My church uses homamade cookies to spread love and good wishes in its prison ministry. Volunteers donate bags of cookies that are taken to inmates in a local prison.

Whether you want to bake some cookies for your family, to send in a special care package, or to give as gifts to your neighbors, they're certain to bring smiles. Here's a great site for Christmas cookie recipes:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

And the Winner...kinda sorta... IS:

I was part of the Trick or Treat contest here where people who posted to my blog during the last week of October through the first week of November got entered to win a free download of their choice of an anthology by the Southern Indiana Writers. Well, the winner--kinda sorta--was Charlene Burke. I say kinda sorta because her choice was GROUNDS FOR SUSPICION and what she got was a paper copy of ITS ALWAYS SOMETHING.


Here's what happened. I emailed her to tell her she had won. She emailed back to tell me which one she wanted. I saw that she only lives and works about 15 minutes from Corydon. I offered to meet her and give her a paper copy instead. She agreed. I found I didn't have a paper copy. Not a problem--I could pick one up at the SIW meeting on Thursday and give it to her on Monday. My back went out. I didn't go to the SIW meeting on Thursday. Okay, so I would give her a paper copy I did have and apologize. Better yet, I would give her a paper copy of what I did have AND give her a download of the book she chose. I logged onto Lulu, where the anthologies are available for download. The file is a bazillion kilobites big... and we have dial-up at my house. Okay. So I would go into town to meet her and download the PDF file on the Cafe on the Square high-speed connection. Oh, but laptop doesn't have a CD burner.

Fortunately, Charlene is a VERY nice person and graciously accepted the book she didn't choose.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Inspired by exhaustion and minimal options

I spent all day yesterday writing and was ready for a nice hot meal. Unfortunately the pickings in the fridge were slim and I wanted something easy, yet didn't want to order out (budget and all). So I pulled out the following items:

Roll of polenta (you can buy it this way at Trader Joes)
leftover chicken/apple sausages that had been in the freezer for over a month
can of black olives
jar of pasta sauce (also from Trader Joes)
the dregs of a bag of parmesan, feta, and mozarella cheese

I heated the oven to 400 and poured a little olive oil in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Then I sliced the polenta into relatively even slices and put a layer down on top of the olive oil. Added some pasta sauce, sausage slices, olives and cheese. Repeated the layering, saving most of the cheese for the top. Cooked it for about 30-35 minutes, then let it sit for a bit.

May I just say 'yum?'

We had it with some light red wine, a pinot noir from Talus. A little went a long way and other than the cheese, it was relatively low in fat. And for those of us (me!) trying to avoid wheat, the polenta was a great option instead of lasagna. I had it for lunch again this afternoon after it had
solidified a bit more in the fridge and it was even better. I recommend it when you want something comforting, tomato-sauce based and Italian, but with a reasonable calorie count and fat content. Or if you just want something yummy that goes with red wine!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Cowboy Hat Has Spoken

And the winner of the Unspeakably Stupendous Trick or Treat Drawing for a signed copy of The Sky Took Him is (drum roll) Kate Kelly Gallegos!  As soon as the book is released next January, I’ll be sending her copy along to her.

I want to thank all of you - Ruth, Irene, Carolyn, Corey, Margo, Cathy, Taunna, Janice, Dana, Gayle, Marian, Krysten, Pam, Annette, Lu Ann, and the two Carols - for your lovely comments.  I wish I could afford to send free copies to all of you.

What a strange and tiring time it’s been lately.  My signing at the brand new Queen Creek Library went very well.  They set up the authors at tables in the foyer, where every person going in had to pass right by us.  There must have been a thousand people at the event, so it was sort of like being in the middle of a cattle chute.  This Sunday, November 16, I’ll be participating in the 4th annual Authors and Auction Event at Four Points by Sheraton in Tempe.  If any of you are in the vicinity and would like to come by, check out the details at

This is my last event for 2008, thank goodness.  I plan to put my head down and work, now, and the next time I appear in my official authorly capacity will be at the launch of Sky on January 17, 2009.  Until then, the holidays are coming and my thoughts and blog entries return to good eating.

P.S. Gayle, great tv interview.

Friday, November 14, 2008

If I was a cooking show host, I'd be. . . .

A nervous wreck! Yesterday I appeared on a local daytime television show to provide some quick and easy cake decorating instructions while talking about Murder Takes the Cake. It was fun and I didn't do as badly as I feared I might. See for yourself:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Holiday Season... Fatal Foodies Style

I've been thinking about how the Fatal Foodies' passion for food and passion for books food are so intermingled. Is it that those who are patient enough to devour every word of a book, allowing plots to unravel and characters to develop are the same type of people who savor every bite of our food, taking time to enjoy various flavors and aromas? Do those of us who read with such detail that a story comes alive in our mind's eye also ponder the complexities of how ingredients come together to form tastes and textures? I think part of it must be that we are sensory driven people. We love how a good writer can take us places, introduce us to people and allow us to sample foods we have never even heard of.
Perhaps I'm a Fatal Foodies snob when I declare that Fatal Foodies may just have a superior ability to enjoy all the sights, sounds, and tastes of the upcoming holiday season. For it is our love of sensory details that will allow us to take in each tiny twinkling light and notice every delighted child's smile. Old familiar tunes will make us weep with sappy sentimentality, and the smells of cinamon, cloves, and sage may very well make us picture our grandmother's hands preparing holiday feasts. I count us lucky for our ablilities to make glorious experiences out of things that many people may take for granted. Fatal Foodies, we are a blessed bunch!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shish Kebabbing for Apples

My friend Jane and I met at Shiraz Mediterranean Grill for lunch yesterday. They have food TO DIE FOR! I'm serious, it is so good! She had the shish kebab--beef so tender, it melts in your mouth. Due to a mix-up, she also had a kebab of ground and spiced beef, which she shared with me. I had falafel which, for those who don't know, is chickpeas and spice formed into a ball and deep-fried, then covered in tzaziki sauce, which is like yogurt and cucumbers. Oh, MAN! We had a side of rice and lentils and, of course, baklava, that heavenly flaky honey-drenched pastry.

There were no apples involved, actually, but the title occurred to me and I couldn't resist it.

No, what I was thinking was that a kebab, that skewer, would make a dandy weapon. Is that a new idea, or has it been... er... done to death?

I know I could EAT myself to death at Shiraz.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dinner at Farallon

Friday night Dave and I had dinner at Farallon Restaurant, courtesy of work. It's not a place
we could generally afford to go on our own dime and we've wanted to go there for a long time. I mean, you walk by the front windows and the decor is spectacular.The ceiling lamps are in the shapes of giant fairytale-esque jelly fish. The walls are all curved, like the inside of a seashell, no harsh angles or sharp edges. And the food is spectacular. Here's what we had:

broiled Greenlip mussels, caramelized sweet onions, saffron vinaigrette

Madeira chantilly, Extra virgin olive oil, chives

wild mushroom gnocchi, toasted hazelnuts, porcini fondue

Black truffle polenta, baby spinach, pearl onion jus

Bellwether Farm's sweet ricotta cream,
pine nut- pistachio praline, fig-Gew├╝rztraminer jam

Chocolate truffle
Dark chocolate almond cluster
Milk chocolate peanut butter pave'

I had a champagne cocktail and a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir. Dave had a Fog Cutter cocktail (citrus and rum and other yummy things) and some chilled sake. The portions were generous (considering the prices, this was a good thing and also a surprise - I've found a lot of expensive restaurants are usually not so forthcoming with enough food to satisfy one's appetite) and the food rich and filling. I couldn't finish mine (I had the pike) and happily gave the rest to Dave. As a result, I enjoyed myself without indigestion.

The service was also excellent - consistant without being intrusive, pleasant personalities (no uber hyper 'Hi! My name is Jamie and I'll be your SERVER tonight!') and we never had to ask for anything. But my favorite part was still the cool jellyfish ceiling lamps. :-)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Queen Creek

I want to thank Gayle for the lovely prizes I won by Trick or Treating on her site.  I’ve already polished off the chocolate and I am eagerly looking forward to reading Murder Takes the Cake.  How lucky am I?

Today is the last day for Trick or Treating on my site, Dear Readers, so don’t miss the opportunity to go over to and leave me a comment before tomorrow.  You’ll get a really fun recipe, and be automatically entered in a drawing to win a copy of my upcoming release, The Sky Took Him.

I will be signing copies of all my books today from 10 am until 2 pm at the grand opening of the Queen Creek Library in Queen Creek Arizona, which if you are not familiar with Arizona and have never been there, wouldn’t you love to go there just to see what a place called Queen Creek looks like?  I’ve seen the new library, and it is pretty cool.  So if any of you happen to be in the vicinity, drop by.  They are doing a whole carnival, and including several Arizona authors in the festivities, which is quite an appropriate thing for a library to do.  I’ll not only be signing books, but taking the opportunity to get rid of all my extra Halloween candy by handing it out to anyone who walks by.

Friday, November 7, 2008

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Donis Casey who won my Halloween contest! Also, here are some links to posts I've done in the past week that you may be interested in.

Why Pregnant Women Should Eat Fish

Easy, Elegant Cake Decorating

Cake Decorating With Your Children

Thursday, November 6, 2008

National Food Holidays

Someone must've taken the motto, "Eat, Drink and Be Merry" to hear when they compiled this chart of National Food Holidays.

The list doesn't give an indication for the year so you can safely celebrate today as National Nachos Day. Each day's link goes to a related recipe, also. So pick your favorite day and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tea for You, Tea for Two, Tea for All Your Friends

Anyone who reads of my posts has become familiar with my daughter Calli. So, I include a photo of Calli in her Halloween costume. Besides a shameless opportunity to show off my little cutie, Calli's Alice in Wonderland costume leads into my topic/recipe for this week. The crazy tea party that Alice attended in this classic story reminds me of one of my favorite cold weather treats.
As soon as the air gets a little chilly, I love to drink a steaming mug of Russian Tea. My very first memory of having Russian Tea was as a child, when a friend's mom served Russian Tea and popcorn to us after a long day of playing in the snow.
The follwing recipe is so easy, and makes a wonderful gift for co-workers, neighbors, etc. Include a little note with directions on how to make the tea. There are many clever ways to package the recipe as a gift. I've received it in a small plastic container with the directions written on the lid in permanent marker. You can put it in plastic bags, tied up with pretty ribbon, pour into a jar decorated with Christmas fabric and raffia, or present the tea mix in a pretty mug.
Russian Tea
1/2 c. instant tea
3 c. sugar
2 c. Tang
2 pkgs lemonade mix
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
Mix ingredients. Three teaspoons for a cup of tea. Can be served hot or cold.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Well, I gashed open my thumb last night, trying to clean a candle out of a glass candle holder. What a dummy! My husband bandaged me up so now I have a wad of gauze and tape that looks like a mattress wrapped around my thumb. You know men--bigger is always better.

So I was going to make bread, but there's no way I can knead it now. :( We'll just have to wait--and just when I posted about my bread book and got us all drooling and stuff.

Time out for food and fatalities to say--VOTE! Vote for the candidate of your choice, but VOTE!

waving a flag and cheering

Monday, November 3, 2008

Simple Pleasures

I am a total foodie and I love my food and wine and enjoy all the subtleties of the various combinations betwixt the two. However...there are times when I crave something very basic.

Hot bread with butter or olive oil. Nothing more, nothing less.

Bread. The evil of evils, according to the likes of Atkins and all other proponents of low/no carb diets (which I have followed in the past).

Hot bread.

Fresh bread.

In the case of this evening, half baked seeded sourdough bread from Trader Joe's, requiring 10- 15 minutes in the oven to bring it to crunchy crusted, soft and chewy interiored perfection.

I served it with a choice of Earth Balance organic buttery spread (it tastes much better than the name would indicate) or San Pietro olive oil, a rich, nutty, buttery flavored oil from Italy. Expensive, yes. But when it comes to olive oil, the occasional splurge is SO worth it. And it's good for you too.

That was it for dinner. We'd had leftover pasta (in bat and jack-o-lantern shapes) for lunch and weren't really all that hungry. So a few slices of hot bread and a glass of really nice pinot noir was just the thing.

Okay. TWO glasses of pinot noir.

At any rate, I am satiated and content. It just doesn't get much better.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Back to Reality

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween, that your dearly departed found their way to your house for their annual visit with no trouble, and that you are not suffering from candy overdose, like I am.

Today is a day for salads and dull, serviceable clothing as we return to the workaday world of the living, but if you are still longing for a treat, don't forget that you have a week left to follow the Trick or Treat trail that Gayle laid out in yesterday's entry.  Don't miss out.  And don't forget to check your glucose levels.