Friday, March 30, 2012

Launch of The Long Stitch Goodnight

On Tuesday, April 3, The Long Stitch Goodnight is being released. The Long Stitch Goodnight is the fourth book in the embroidery mystery series that I write under the pseudonym Amanda Lee.

Although she’s taken an interest in Irish embroidery, Marcy Singer can’t help but abandon her needlecraft when handsome local brewer Todd finds himself accused of murder. Both Todd and his friend Blake’s fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and neither is talking about what happened. Marcy is determined to stitch together some luck from more than a few four-leaf clovers and prove that the culprit was someone else…

To celebrate the release of The Long Stitch Goodnight, I'm giving Fatal Foodies readers a chance to win a copy of the book. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment on this post. On Tuesday, April 3, I'll take the number of comments and input the numbers into Random.org's random number generator to choose a winner. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

International Tea

This past Saturday, Calli and I participated in a lovely event. It was the Girl Scout International Tea.



Several local Girl Scout troops from our area signed up to participate. Each troops was assigned a country and given a table. The troops decorated their tables in the theme of their assigned country and offered samplings of food from that country.

To kick off the day, each troop marched with the flag of their assigned country. After opening ceremonies, the tasting began!

Girls and parents got to walk around to all of the tables trying whatever they wanted. Each girl was given a "passport" with stamps from all of the countries represented at the tea.

Our troop was assigned Italy. Our table featured assorted flavors of biscotti. Some other foods offered "around the world" were:

dulce de leche

cappuccino

coconut cake

cucumber dip

pita chips

hummus

marinated olives

chips and salsa

Australian berry bread

tropical fruit kabobs


This was so educational and fun! I think it would be neat to taylor the idea into a party. Guests could each be assigned a country and bring a dish. Or, would it not be neat to do a progressive dinner with an international theme?


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Hum Not of Pooh

Hummus, that is. Although Pooh might have eaten hummus, if it was put before him.

I've never been madly keen about hummus, to tell you the truth, so I thought I'd make some myself. Sometimes, if I make something personally, I come to like it. Maybe it's the locavore in me, but I seem to take kindlier to food if I've gone backstage and met all the ingredients before the show.

ANYWAY, hummus is made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, tahini (sesame seed paste) and a little salt. Here is a link to a recipe for hummus at the wonderful Middle Eastern Food at About.com.

And here is mine:

HUMMUS OF MA
  • can of chickpeas, drained 
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch of cilantro
  • pinch of salt
You'll notice I neglected to reserve liquid from the chickpeas. That's because these weren't organic chickpeas, and the liquid was full of like corn syrup and junk. I also didn't use as much lemon juice as About.com recommends, because enough is enough.

Put all ingredients into blender and blend until as smooth as you like. I left mine with some bite in it.

Because I didn't put the liquid into it, my hummus was stiff instead of creamy. Next time, I might put some liquid in, or I might not. I kinda liked it the way it came out. In fact, I probably could have rolled it into balls or shaped it into patties, breaded it and fried it. That would have been good!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, March 23, 2012

What's Your Chocolate IQ?


I was shocked to discover that I'm a "sad sweetie"--I answered only 3-4 questions out of 10 correctly. So what's your chocolate IQ? Take the quiz and let us know!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Sweet Tear-Jerker




My current read is Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. I am sure many of you already know the premise of this bestseller.


For those who do not, it is the story of a young boy's journey to Heaven and then back to Earth. Little Colton Burpo nearly loses his life at the age of 3. Once he is back to being a normal, healthy child, he begins telling his parents stories of leaving the hospital and going to Heaven.


Over time, Colton reveals more-and-more details about his trip to the beyond. Before long, there is no doubt that what he Colton experienced was more than a dream.


If you have ever feared death or know anyone who has recently lost someone, this book may bea tremendous source of comfort. Having heard and read many stories of people going to Heaven, then coming back to tell their stories, I find this one the sweetest and most spectacular of all!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Springs

Spring is early this year. In fact, we're having summer weather, and it's only just past the middle of March.

Charlie has already put in the spring garden: lettuce, spinach, snow peas, sugar snap peas, green onions and potatoes.

He usually starts seeds in the potting shed, but this year he just planted.

Well, actually, he started AND planted ON the potting shed. I'm not sure where this idea originated, but I found it on Pinterest, linking back to this greenUPGRADER article on DIY Vertical Garden. I showed it to Charlie, and he affixed three old gutters to the sunny side of the potting shed, filled them with dirt and planted lettuce and spinach, which have already sprouted. :)

There's some good eatin' coming up, folks!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quick and easy and delicious


Craving spaghetti? Not wanting the same old, same old. Here’s a quick and easy recipe I love.

Vicki’s Linguine with Sausages and Spinach in tomato sauce

3 tbsp olive oil
4 hot Italian sausages
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 can pureed tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 lb linguine
2 tbsp sliced green olives
2 green peppers thinly sliced
4 ox fresh baby spinach

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Add sausages and cook. Remove sausages, cool and slice

Add remaining oil and stir in garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt pepper and basil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook until al dente

Meanwhile stir olives, green peppers and sausages into sauce. Cook 10 minutes.
Add spinach leaves

Toss sauce with pasta

Serve with parmesan cheese, if desired.
---------------
And now, a word from our sponsor: I have not one but TWO books coming out in April. First, I'll tell you about A Winter Kill.

A Winter Kill, from Rapid Reads is a very special book. It is written for adults who might be reluctant readers. Perhaps they have low literacy skills, are learning English, or just don't have time to read. It's short and to the point. It's an adult book, for adults, but easy and fast to read. It's a mystery novel, stripped to its bare essentials.


Nicole Patterson is a young, green and very eager probationary constable with the Ontario Provincial Police. Although she spends much of her time breaking up bar fights, giving out traffic tickets and finding lost kids, she dreams of one day becoming a detective.


Late one bitterly cold winter night, she comes across the body of a young woman lying on the edge of a snow-covered field on the outskirts of town. The girl appears to have been strangled. Nicole recognizes the victim as a local high school student with a somewhat sullied reputation, the daughter of the town drunk. Though both under-qualified and unauthorized, Nicole feels compelled to throw herself into the murder investigation.

Was the murdered girl really as promiscuous as her classmates described or the victim of bullying? What was her relationship with the star of the football team? And what is the significance of the ring with the large blue stone found near her body?

Is Nicole Patterson herself heading for trouble by pretending to be a detective?


Now available for pre-order from Amazon.com and your favourite independent bookstore.

I'm going to be having a draw for the ARC of A Winter Kill. If you'd like to be entered, pelase leave a comment here, or e-mail me at vicki at vickidelany dot com.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Soda Bread


I'm a bread lover, so I'm surprised I'd never heard of Irish soda bread before I began looking up recipes for Saint Patrick's Day...especially since this recipe also contains raisins. The recipe below is from Taste of Home:

Irish Soda Raisin Bread Recipe


Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter or margarine
  • 1-1/2 cups raisins
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds. Set aside 1 tablespoon beaten egg. In a bowl, combine buttermilk and remaining eggs; stir into crumb mixture just until flour is moistened (dough will be sticky). Turn onto a well-floured surface; knead about 10 times. Shape into a ball.
  • Place in a greased 9-in. round baking pan. Cut a 4-in. X, 1/4-in. deep, in the center of the ball. Brush the top with reserved egg. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cover loosely with foil during the last 20 minutes if top browns too quickly. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf.

Nutritional Facts 1 serving (1 each) equals 221 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 39 mg cholesterol, 359 mg sodium, 38 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein.

By the way, if you're a big fan of all things Irish, you'll want to check out The Long Stitch Goodnight (releases April 3) to learn about Mountmellick embroidery. :-)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mini Cupcake Cones, the Follow-Up














Those who read my post last week might be wondering how my mini cupcake cones turned out. Wonder no more Fatal Foodies, they were a hit! The photos show how adorable they were. In addition to the mini cones, I made a few standard sized cones. One was to accommodate Skylar's candles.


Here is how I did them:


1) I made mini and regular sized cupcakes by following the directions on my cake mix.


2) I frosted the bottoms of the cupcakes to make them stick in the cones.


3) After sticking them in the cones, I frosted the tops, decorated with sprinkles and used red icing in a tube to make the cherry on top.


You may also notice that I made cake pedestals by turning coffee cups upside down and placing plates and saucers on top. I have also done this with china teacups and plates. It is a good way to improvise when you need height on a food display.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Three Mushrooms

I went hunting morel mushrooms yesterday. It's early in the season here, but we've had such a mild winter, I thought I might get lucky.

I found three. Three mushrooms, and not giant ones, either.

What's a cook to do?

I'll tell you what I did: I plucked the greens off a volunteer green onion and I made egg fu yung.

Egg Fu Yung with Three Mushrooms -- Literally
  • mushrooms
  • eggs
  • soy sauce
  • green onion
  • water chestnuts
  • sesame oil
If using fresh-picked morel mushrooms, cut them in half and soak them in salted water. Remove and dry.

Beat egg. Add soy sauce and beat until well blended. Add water chestnuts and onion.

Heat sesame oil in skillet. Arrange mushrooms into two portions in skillet. Pour half the egg mixture over each portion. Cook until the egg is set, then flip and cook until done. (Takes about five minutes, more or less.)

I also made roast rutabaga (recipe on my blog tomorrow) and a salad of Romaine lettuce, toasted pumpkin seeds and raisins.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, March 9, 2012

French Press Coffee

I have to admit I love a good bargain. So when Target put their Valentine's Day goodies on sale at 75% off, and I realized I could get a French press and a bag of Valentine's Day blend coffee for under $4, I jumped at the deal. At the time of this posting, I haven't tried it out yet; but I've been reading on how to properly use the French press, and it seems to be a good deal.

If you read Marian's post on Eggies, then you might suspect that I sometimes buy things but hesitate to try them because I'm afraid I'll be disappointed in them. Marian confirmed that the Eggies don't work as promised. Still, I'm gathering up my courage to try the French press.

If you've used one, please give me your impression. If you haven't but would be interested in giving it a shot, you can check out this site for instructions.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mini Cone Cupcake...So Stinking Cute!









I am planning a little party this weekend to celebrate Skylar's third birthday. Since the party has an ice cream theme, I want to make cupcakes in ice cream cones.



While shopping for the party, I found some mini cones. That gave me the idea to make mini cupcakes in cones.


I found a site where someone has done the same thing, using the exact same brand of cones. If mine turn out half as cute, they will be the hit of the party!


After reading a few versions of recipes and recipe reviews for cupcakes in cones, I am going to deviate a bit from the standard recipe. Some reviews mentioned that the process of filling the cones is quite messy. Other reviewers said the cones become soggy during the baking process. One person posted that they baked the cupcakes first, then put them in the cones. That is the method I am going to try. Wish me luck, and I will tell you guys and gals all about how they turn out next week. In the meantime, enjoy the photos of what I hope to accomplish.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tofu Is Not A Radioactive Japanese Monster

My (mostly) vegetarian husband and our (mostly) vegan daughter don't like tofu, but I, carnivore with a capital CARN, love it.

Tofu, in case you don't know, is made from soybeans. My new cookbook, SPORK-FED, tells you how to make your own, but -- Dude. Really?

Anyway, this is my favorite way to fix it. It's even better than my old favorite way to fix it.

Take a block of EXTRA-FIRM tofu. Put it on a cutting board or something flat and drainable. Put another flat thing on top of it and a heavy thing on top of that. I put mine between an acrylic cutting board and the back of a plate, then put an iron skillet on top. Now tilt that contraption over the sink at just enough of an angle than liquid can drain off. The longer you leave it, the more moisture squishes out of the tofu.

See, tofu is kind of like a sponge. NO, it does not TASTE like a sponge -- Shut up! Anyway, tofu soaks up flavors. The less moisture that's already in it, the more juicy goodness it can slurp up and deliver directly to your happy mouth.

Okay, now slice the tofu. I wish I had sliced ours thinner, but this tofu wasn't the best, and it wouldn't slice thin. Arrange the slices in a single layer in something with a rim, and pour tamari soy sauce on it. I'm talking about fermented, gluten-free soy sauce, um-yum! Regular would do.

Heat some oil in a skillet. Not a lot of oil, just enough to slick the bottom of the pan. Now fry that tofu until it's crispy on the edges.

MAN, that's good! Makes a good sammich, too.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pinterest

Vicki here on Sunday.

In the depths of the bleak midwinter. The grass is limp and brown, the plants dead or sleeping, the trees bare. The vegetable patch just a patch of mud and left-over snow.

Beautiful gardens, fresh vegetables, fruit growing wild, all are but dreams.

Fortunately we have pictures to keep us going and remind us of delicious meals to come.

Have you joined Pinterest yet? It’s like Facebook with pictures. Lots and lots of lovely pictures.

You can post pictures of anything on Pinterest, to show your friends what you’re interested in and find out what they enjoy. But for a foodie, perhaps the best thing about Pinterest is the food pictures.

Yummy. Food porn.

Fortunately, it doesn’t stop there, as the picture comes with a link to the source.

Which is usually a recipe.

Gardens are another popular area. Not dead brown early-March-in-Ontario gardens, but lush, overflowing, abundant gardens.

So even in early March you can look at lovely gardens and dream of cooking with fresh-picked foods.

Anyone can join. www.pinterest.com. Go ahead. Look me up, and we’ll look at pictures together.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Fatal Foodies Funny!


This was too cute not to share and perfect for our blog! :)