Friday, June 28, 2013

Blueberry-Coconut-Macadamia Muffins


Blueberry-Coconut-Macadamia Muffins

Source: © EatingWell Magazine
Active Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour12 muffins
The one-two punch of coconut and macadamia nuts in this luxurious muffin will make you think you're having your morning coffee in Hawaii. Drizzle with honey for an added touch of sweetness.

Make Ahead Tip: Store, individually wrapped, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. To reheat, remove plastic wrap, wrap in a paper towel and microwave on High for 30-45 seconds.

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
5 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour (see Source) or whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk (see Tip)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
Combine coconut, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons macadamia nuts in a small bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil; stir to combine. Set aside.
Whisk the remaining 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, egg, egg white, buttermilk, butter and coconut (or vanilla) extract in a medium bowl until well combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients; stir until just combined. Add blueberries and the remaining 3 tablespoons nuts; stir just to combine. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with the reserved coconut topping and gently press into the batter.
Bake the muffins until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack at least 5 minutes more before serving.
Recipe reprinted by permission of © EatingWell Magazine. All rights reserved.
Nutrition Information
12 muffins - Facts Per Serving:
Calories:202Fat. Total:9gCarbohydrates, Total:28g
Fiber:2g% Cal. from Fat:40%Fat, Saturated:3g

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Was Not Expecting to Like These!

I had a coupon. It looked like something fun and cute my kids and their friends would like. Those were the two reason I bought Betty Crocker cotton candy cookies and frosting during my last Target shopping trip.

I made the cookies one morning that we were having kids over to swim. Honestly, I did not think I would like them. I was so wrong!

These are some of the BEST cookies I have ever made; and I have made LOTS of cookies. They taste like sugar cookies with just a hint of cotton candy flavor. The pink frosting on top makes them absolutely party-worthy.

The mix and frosting are exclusive to Target. All you need to add is an egg, a stick of softened butter and some hungry kids or grown-ups!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Different Southwestern Casserole

What's different about it? It has wheat in it, that's what.

This is actually a leftover casserole. One night, I cooked some red bulgar wheat (is that spelled right? Unless I spell it like the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, spell-check has hissy fits) -- anyway, that kinda wheat with onions and cumin. Also corn, also black beans flavored with chili powder and cumin.

We had some left over, so tonight I layered them, topped them with cheese, and heated it up.

Fellers, it was good! We ate it with tortilla chips. We could have had salsa with it, but we didn't want to, and we're grownups, and nobody could make us.


It's good to be a grownup.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, June 24, 2013

Blackberry Cobblerettes! By Ellie Grant

By Ellie Grant 

There is more than one way to make a cobbler. I like making mine in a muffin tin so it is an individual treat. This time of year, with blackberries heavy on their branches, I'm craving blackberry cobbler! You can also make peach, which is delicious too. Blackberries are free for me right now, so I think I'll go and pick a handful!

Filler: Pick (or buy) and wash about three cups of fresh blackberries. Add one cup of sugar or sweetener of your choice. Mix well but gently. Add two tablespoons of cornstarch to the mixture, about a cup of water, or juice, if you have it. In a saucepan, mix again on low heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.

Topping: Mix one and a half cups of all-purpose, or self-rising, flour. If you don’t have self-rising, add one and a half teaspoons of baking powder to the mixture. I don’t add salt or sugar, but if you like you can add one half teaspoon of salt and one of sugar. Combine dry ingredients and then cut in one half cup cold butter or shortening. Add one half cup cold milk to moisten.

To make individual treats, put muffin holders into muffin cup. Add three tablespoons full of blackberry mixture and a tablespoon of the topping for each cup. Bake for thirty minutes or until top is brown.

This is really good with ice cream while still warm!



Who could resist such pies? Who would even want to resist the pie shop that makes them? Certainly not the residents of Durham, North Carolina, and the little bakery and café called Pie in the Sky is one of the most popular meet-up places in town.

Unjustly accused of cooking the books, Maggie Grady is forced to retreat from her high-flying New York financial career to the town where she grew up. Her aunt Clara greets her with open arms and a job at the family-owned business that has baked the best pies in the South for over forty years. Unfortunately, while Maggie is determined to return to banking, her reputation there seems permanently in the pits. That is, until her old boss, Lou, visits with news that he’s found the real crook. Before he can reveal the details, though, Maggie finds his body right behind the pie shop.

With only her own word that Lou planned to exonerate her, Maggie is in the spotlight. The police seem to suspect that Aunt Clara’s damson pie may not be just dangerously delectable, but downright deadly. Maggie doesn’t just have her own name to clear; she has to make sure that her aunt’s beloved business isn’t harmed, either. Yummy local reporter Ryan Summerour appears eager to help, and Maggie can’t help hoping that it’s not just the police who find her a person of interest—but Ryan, as well. She’d thought it challenging to make the perfect pie crust that Aunt Clara demands, but that turns out to be nothing compared with finding a murderer. . . .

To pre-order Plum Deadly:

Friday, June 21, 2013

High Country Festival of the Book

If you're in or near Boone, NC tomorrow, please stop at the Watauga High School--home of this year's High Country Festival of the Book--and say hello. I'll be signing books most of the day and will be on a panel called "To Die in Dixie: Why Southerners Make Great Corpses" from 2 - 3 p.m. The panel will be moderated by Maggie Bishop and will also include Larissa Reinhart and Philip Depoy.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Snacks for Day (and Night) at the Ballpark

This is our first year of having a kid playing in softball tournaments. Before, Calli has had a game (ONE game) on game day. Tournament days include at least two (probably more) games with breaks in-between.
Last Saturday was Calli's first-ever tournament. When I saw folks with big, rolling coolers; I knew there was an art to preparing for tournament days. Suddenly, the small cooler of drinks and bag of snacks I brought seemed a bit inadequate.
After game #2, we were #1 seed. That meant at least 2 more games and a long break.
During the break, we got lunch and made a stop at the grocery store to get enough snacks, drinks and ice for the rest of the day. Some Italian Ice and popcorn from the concession stand rounded out our snacks over the next few hours and 4 games.
This Saturday, I will be completely prepared. My plan is to bring:
almonds, fruit, pb&j sandwiches, Italian Ice cups, wheat crackers, string cheese, fruit snacks, a thermos of pasta salad, cheese popcorn, water, sparkling water, sports drinks and soda.
My combo of healthy food and complete junk will get us through the day. What do you pack for a long day of family fun?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Secrets Revealed About Tomato Pie!

I knew there was a secret! As it turns out, there are many. What kind of secrets am I talking about? The secrets to making a tomato pie that isn't soggy-schmoggy! We don't have any fresh tomatoes yet, so I haven't tried this, but you bet I'm going to!

I did a web search and found this beautifully illustrated how-to at Cottage at the Crossroads.

The various secrets I found are
  1. put the tomatoes on a paper towel (or a cloth towel, I suppose), sprinkle them with salt, and let that sog drain away
  2. brush the bottom of the crust with spicy brown mustard to hold any residual sog away from the crust and bake 10 minutes before filling
  3. brush the bottom of the crust with egg white and bake it 10 minutes before filling
  4. use roma tomatoes
  5. seed the tomatoes
So I WILL be trying this again this year, especially since I've found a local dairy farm that makes cheese and I make my own mayonnaise from the eggs of my grandchickens.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, June 17, 2013

Lemon Meringue Pie, my summer favorite! By Ellie Grant

By Ellie Grant
Plum Deadly
from the Pie in the Sky Mysteries 

As you can see from my new book cover, Plum Deadly is about pie making and mystery. It takes place in Durham, North Carolina, home of Duke University. Maggie Grady is working at Pie in the Sky, her Aunt Clara's pie shop. There is a lot of pie eating going on in this new book too. One of my favorites is Lemon Meringue. It' so cool and sweet for hot summer days.

Here's my recipe:

You'll need one nine-inch pie shell, either made from scratch or pre-made from the store, baked.

To this, you'll add the lemon filling:

1 cup sugar or sweetener (this can easily be made sugar-free) 
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup water
6 slightly beaten yolks (save the whites for the meringue to follow)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest from the rind
1/2 cup lemon juice (you've got the lemon there, right?)
2 tablespoons butter

Beat together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water and simmer  about one minute in saucepan. Remove from heat and gradually beat in egg yolks. Return egg mixture to low heat, stirring constantly, for one minute.
Remove from heat and gently stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and butter until well combined.
Pour into baked and cooled pie shell. 

Making meringue topping

Mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1/3 cup water, six egg whites, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/2 cup sugar or sweetener.

Combine cornstarch and water in a saucepan. Simmer until it thickens on low heat and set aside.

Beat egg whites and vanilla extract until foamy. Add cream of tartar and sugar, mixing until soft peaks form. Slowly add cornstarch mixture and beat until stiff. Spread meringue mixture over the lemon component in pie shell. Bake on low until meringue turns brown.

Yum! serve as quickly as possible. This pie will get watery if you let it sit too long. It doesn't last long at my house!

Plum Deadly is now at:

Pre-order here or at your favorite book store!

Pie recipes included!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Skinny Key Lime Pie

I just ran across this recipe and had to share it. Only 20 minutes of prep time, this would be a great pie to take to a reunion or some other summer gathering.

Skinny Key Lime Pie

Active Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 4 Hours 40 MinutesServes 12
This classic make-ahead summer pie is a cool and refreshing way to end a meal. The ingredients are similar to a classic Key Lime Pie with a few reduced fat substitutions. Real Key Lime juice makes all the difference.

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups reduced fat graham crackers, crumbled
1 tablespoon light butter, melted
For the Filling:
6 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
8 ounces fat free cream cheese
1 package plain gelatin
3/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
14 oz. fat free sweetened condensed milk

1 cup fat free sour cream
1 cup fat free Cool-Whip
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Combine crumbs and butter, then press into a sprayed 9" spring form pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes.

Puree cream cheeses until smooth. Sprinkle gelatin over lime juice and let sit 10 minutes. Warm just enough to dissolve gelatin, then combine with cream cheeses along with zest and milk.

Pour into the spring form. Combine remaining ingredients. Spread over pie. Chill 4 hours. Combine remaining ingredients. Spread over pie. Chill 4 hours.

Recipe created exclusively for by Lake Austin Spa Resort.
Recipe reprinted by permission of . All rights reserved.
Nutrition Information
Serves 12 - Facts Per Serving:
Calories:261Fat. Total:6gCarbohydrates, Total:42g
Fiber:0g% Cal. from Fat:21%Fat, Saturated:0g

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Beach Read for 2013

I was at the beach last week with my husband and kids. Linda Hudson Hoagland's SNOOPING CAN BE DANGEROUS was the perfect little read! 
Lindsay Harris, the main character, is a legal assistant who is forced to become a nosy neighbor. What she and her friends discover puts them in a very dangerous situation! 
Looking for a fun, short, summer read? Find out why SNOOPING CAN BE DANGEROUS.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top 5 List of Fun With Broccoli

How can you have fun with broccoli? I hear you ask.

  1. Take pictures of it.
  2. Mix florets with mayonnaise and raisins (and maybe walnuts) to make a salad.
  3. Blanch florets until they're bright green and crisp-tender and mix them with sliced hard-boiled eggs for a hot dish.
  4. Save the stems, peel off the hard outer layer, chop them and use them in stirfry. 
  5. Stick them upright in pot pies and pretend you're serving a desert island with one lone tree.
Okay, maybe not so much fun. But I'll bet it was more fun than you expected from a top 5 list of fun with broccoli. Admit it. Okay then: lie to me.

I got this beautiful broccoli at the local farmers' market, and that was fun enough for me. It calls for delicate timing, getting there just as the merchants set out the fresh produce but before the ravening horde of other locavores descends on them. I was a winner this week. Next week: who knows?

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, June 10, 2013

Things to do with those tomatoes - by Ellie Grant

Things to do with those tomatoes
By Ellie Grant
From Plum Deadly
A Pie in the Sky pie shop mystery 

I write about pie a lot for my upcoming book, PLUM DEADLY. I like pie, but right now, I'm beginning to worry about what to do with all these tomatoes! We've had so much rain here in North Carolina - it looks like it's going to be a bumper crop of tomatoes.

So I'm thinking about what to do with those extra tomatoes. I love them best fresh - on sandwiches slathered with mayonnaise and in salsa. I like to pick them and eat them right out of the garden.

I also enjoy them with other vegetables, like garlic. Here is my recipe for Tomatoes and Garlic.

Tomatoes and Garlic

12 ripe tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon
 olive oil
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese

Slice tomatoes and garlic and lay them together on a baking sheet. Drizzle oil on top of these. add Parmesan cheese to taste. Bake on low heat for one hour. Let this cool and place in a covered container.

This is great served with bruschetta and tossed in pasta.

Ellie Grant

Pie in the Sky Mystery Plum Deadly
Coming September 2013
From Gallery Books - Simon and Schuster

Maggie Grady comes home to Durham, North Carolina to help her aunt run the local pie shop off campus of Duke University. She solves mysteries with the help of her Aunt Clara and her boyfriend, Ryan Summerour, who run the local weekly newspaper.

Preorder now!

Friday, June 7, 2013

TJ Maxx Has Gourmet Foods!

Who knew? Well, some of you reading this probaby did. I didn't realize TJ Maxx sold food items other than holiday gift items or front-of-the-store things like jelly beans. I went browsing through TJ Maxx the other day. In the home section, I found (and bought) organic green tea, basil sea salt, pumpkin seeds, bottled water from Kiwaii, and semolina pasta from Italy!

The basil sea salt was particularly tasty on my spinach omlette Sunday morning. :) And I'm looking forward to trying the semolina pasta soon.

During my TJ Maxx shopping excursion, I also saw a Kate Spade bag for $160 (I think I'm remembering that correctly. It wasn't over that amount.). It was a considerable markdown, but I still thought it was too much to pay for a purse...even if it was big and roomy...and really cute. My willpower is impressive, no? :) I really hope some lucky shopper has snapped it up by the time I'm in that store again.

What are some unusual or unlikely places where you've found food bargains?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Necessity is the Mother

"Necessity is the mother of invention". This saying is so true in my kitchen. 
Like last night, we had lasagna and salad. What is missing here? Garlic bread is missing. We have to have garlic bread with lasagna!
In pinch, I have made garlic bread from hamburger buns, hotdog buns and pizza crust mix. None of those were on hand. All I had was sandwich bread. 
So, here is what I did. The sticks were delish. In fact, my husband liked them better than garlic bread I make when I have the big loaf of Texas toast or French bread:
Butter however many pieces of sandwich bread you are using.
Sprinkle each piece of buttered bread with garlic powder and Kosher salt.
Stack pieces of bread on top of each other and trim crusts.
With bread still stacked, cut into 3 or 4 strips.
Unstack bread strips and place on pan.
Bake or broil until browned.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Okay, here is a prime example of how my mind works:

I went to get ice from the secondary ice tray, and found only a thin bit of ice in each well. Now, we all know that solids have to pass through the liquid state to reach the gaseous state (evaporation), right? WRONG! I happen to know that ice, for instance, can sublime in cold but dry conditions. To pass from solid directly into gas is to sublime.

Isn't that interesting?

So I thought, "The ice has sublimed." So that made me think of the word "lime".

And everyone who knows me knows what that made me think of. I can hear my #3 stepdaughter screaming, "No, Mar! Don't sing it! DON'T SING THAT SONG!" And she doesn't even have the internet.

So I won't sing it. I'll share it.

You're welcome.

While we're at it, I may as well also share this link to Lime-in-the-Coconut Macaroons on Epicurious. Make some for me. They sound good.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, June 3, 2013

Peaches a'plenty! By Joyce Lavene

Peaches a'plenty
By Joyce Lavene
from A Thyme to Die
Book 6 of the Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries
Available now at Amazon Kindle

It's becoming that peachy time of year! South Carolina peaches are arriving at the produce stands. I live in North Carolina and we'll have peaches a little later. Right now, I want to take advantage of every flavorful morsel.

Fresh peaches smell like summer to me. There are so many things you can do with them, but the best way is to eat them warm from the tree where you just picked them. A fruit or veggie is at its most flavorful when it hasn't been refrigerated.

Produce stands and farmer's markets are the next best way to get them. Usually the owner, or farmers, drop off their produce here and you can get them much fresher and faster than you can at the local supermarket.

But back to the peaches.

Not everyone likes fresh fruit. Sometimes I have to disguise fresh peaches in salads (I think some people can't tell the difference between tomatoes and peaches). I cut them up into slices and put them out on the table with a meal and they go pretty quickly too.

I also like to make fresh peach ice cream. No, I don't have an ice cream churn. I actually cut up the peaches and add them to ice cream. You know I'm all about the convenience, right? Can you imagine me churning ice cream for hours? I don't think so.

So I let a half gallon of vanilla ice cream get a little soft while I blend wash, cut and blend four or five peaches. I don't puree, but barely blend so there are peach parts.

I add the ice cream to the blended peaches and refreeze. Wow! This is so good and so easy!