Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sushi for the Nonadventurous

For many people, going out for sushi entails an adventurous meal. For me, it is a delicious delight of familiar foods prepared in a different way than I do at home. No eel for me! I love veggie tempura, crab tempura and shrimp tempura., but so yummy!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cheddary UnCheez #Vegan #delicious

This was SO GOOD, the non-vegans were fighting the vegans for it.

It's actually a little yellow-er, but my camera was all redinated that day for some reason.

ANYWAY, here's the recipe, from THE ULTIMATE UNCHEESE COOKBOOK by Jo Stepaniak ($16.76 and well worth the price).

Chick Cheez
  • 2 cups drained cooked or canned chickpeas (one 15- or 16-ounce can)
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame tahini or raw cashew butter
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar, 'coz that's what I had)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons light or chickpea miso (I used whatever miso it is I have)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
Combine all ingredients in a food pr0ocessor fitted with a metal blade. Process into a smooth paste, stopping to scrape down sides of work bowl as necessary. Chill several hours or overnight before service to allow flavors to blend. Keeps 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator.

NOTE: I added a little water to make it smoother. It was great as a spread or with veggies dipped in it. And the book says you can use white beans in place of the chickpeas.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Maple Roasted Squash #vegan

A friend gave us a Butternut Squash and so I cooked it. There are SO many ways to cook squash, most of them delicious! This one, I only half cooked: I cut the neck off and cooked that. I'll cut the other part up and cook it another time.

This one, I glazed.

Glazed Butternut Squash
Butternut squash, peeled and cubed
olive oil
maple syrup
ground cardamom
ground cumin
Drizzle the squash with the oil and syrup -- just a very slight drizzle. Sprinkle with spices and salt. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender and browned.


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

Friday, December 18, 2015


Down South people love to make Christmas candy. One treat that is always a big hit is buckeyes – a delicious combination of peanut butter and chocolate. It's easy to make and packages perfectly for gift giving. Here's a link to an excellent recipe.

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Teacher Treats

I love making Christmas cookies and candies to give as gifts. Anything homemade is special! My girls enjoy taking their treats to school in cellophane bags, tied with Christmas ribbon and personalized with a piece of card stock. If you want a little something for teachers, coaches, pastors, neighbors, etc.; get in your kitchen and make some sweet gifts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Thin Mushroom Soup For Charlie #Vegan #GF

Charlie (my husband) loves thin broths and I love stews, so we generally compromise and make soup and he skims off the juice and I eat the food.

But this time, I decided to make a treat for him. It's a thin mushroom soup, rich with flavor.

Thin Mushroom Soup
  • vegan margarine
  • mushrooms, chopped
  • onions, chopped
  • garlic clove, peeled but whole
  • celery, sliced
  • water
  • vegan vegetarian bouillon
  • parsley and sage, minced
  • mushrooms, thinly sliced 
Melt margarine in a stockpot. Add the garlic, onions, and chopped mushrooms and cook on low until the onions are translucent and tender. This takes maybe 15 minutes on very low heat. You want to render down the mushroom flavor and to tenderize and sweeten the onion without browning anything, and you don't want the garlic to brown and get strong. Add the celery, water, bouillon, and herbs; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. I meant to put some shredded Gruyere on top, but I forgot, and it didn't need it!

Charlie and I both loved it a lot!

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

White Chocolate Peppermint Oreos

Peppermint – it just screams Christmas, and when you pair it with white chocolate the flavors explode in your mouth. Add Oreos to the mix and it becomes downright decadent. White Chocolate Peppermint Oreos are a quick and easy treat that everyone is sure to love.

4 cups of white baking chips
1 bag of Oreos
¼ cup crushed candy canes or peppermints

Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave.

Submerge the Oreos in the white chocolate, making sure they are completely covered – allow the excess to drip off.

Place on cookie sheets lined with wax paper.

Sprinkle with crushed peppermint and allow the chocolate to harden.

Wrap in decorative boxes or bags for gifting.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I'd Still Eat It

It is Recee's attempt at a Christmas themed candy. Unfortunately, the soft, squishy consistency that makes their peanut butter cups so delectable does not yield itself well to a molded shape. The resulting look has led to many calling it a "Christmas Turd". I saw a new story about it; and the reporter said "turd"! The image is gross, but I'd still eat one. What can I say? I love peanut butter cups!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Rye Bread WIN/FAIL #food

I'm usually game to try recipes off packages, on the principle that it's in their best interest to print recipes that show their products to best advantage.

So I bought some rye flour. Why? There are 750 kinds of rye bread in our local supermarket, all of which have caraway seeds in. To me, this is A Good Thing, but Charlie says that caraway seeds don't "go" with jellies and jams. Fair enough. So I bought some rye flour.

It had a recipe on it for German Dark Rye Bread.


by Hodgson Mill

  • 2 cups warm water, 100-115F
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 packages Hodgson Mill Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 1/2cups Hodgson Mill Rye Flour
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1Tbsp. caraway seed (optional)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 50 3 1/2 cups Hodgson Best For Bread Flour
Put water in a large bowl. Add brown sugar and active dry yeast. Let yeast develop for about 5 minutes. Add molasses, rye flour, vital wheat gluten, cocoa and caraway seeds. Beat well, then let sit for ten minutes. Mix in melted butter and salt. Mix in 1 cup of Best For Bread flour. Stir in enough of the remaining Best For Bread flour to make soft dough and knead for 8-10 minutes. Put dough in an oiled bowl, cover with damp cloth, and allow to rise in warm place for one hour or until doubled. Divide the dough into two pieces. Gently knead to work out air bubbles and form into loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise another hour or until the dough is nearly doubled. Bake in a 400F preheated oven for 25 to 28 minutes. Immediately remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

So this happened:
We cut some fresh-baked, still-warm slices, slapped on some vegan margarine, and ate them. They were moist and tender and noticeably sweet. Perfect for jams and jellies, not so much for Swiss cheese and saurkraut.

Later, we sliced some and toasted it, slapped on some vegan margarine, and bit into them. We looked at each other like a couple of big-eyed urchins painted on black velvet, as if to say, "Am I being punished?" Toasted, this bread is rough enough to sand the rough edges off of diamonds.

Warmed in the microwave, it's still moist and tender and delicious.

Tomorrow on my own blog, I'll show you another delicious way to use it.

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

Friday, December 4, 2015

DIY Peppermint Spoons

peppermint candy spoons - an easy DIY gift and treat

This has to be one of the coolest things in the foodie world for Christmas. If you love peppermint mochas, you're going to love this idea! You could have so much fun with this and it would make a great addition to gift baskets. Try dipping these in white chocolate for a different flavor.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cauliflower Deliciousness #Vegan

Charlie found another Martha Stewart recipe he likes. I like it, too. It's pretty easy, so I'll probably be making this one again.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Green Herb Sauce
by Martha Stewart

Blah, blah, blah. Let me sum up:

Preheat the oven to 450F. Cut the stem out of the cauliflower, leaving the florets attached to each other. Put the head on a piece of parchment paper. Brush it with 1/4 cup of oil, then salt and pepper to taste. Pull two sides of the paper up and roll them together, then do the same with the other sides, to make a packet. Roast for 40 minutes. open the parchment (CAREFUL! DON'T BURN YOURSELF ON THE STEAM!) and roast another 20 minutes or so. It'll look burny, but it'll taste good.

Green Herb Sauce
by Martha Stewart

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp minsced garlic
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs sherry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix and let each diner drizzle the sauce over their cauliflower at the table.

We had sauce left over. Tomorrow on my blog, I'll show you what I did with it.

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

After Thanksgiving Salad

After a huge day of Black Friday shopping, chances are you don't feel like making a big meal. And, after that huge Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, you probably want something light. Thankfully, you can whip up an easy salad from the ingredients you already have on hand. 

After Thanksgiving Salad 
Serves 4 

8 cups romaine lettuce 
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped 
1 cup chopped turkey breast 
¼ cup dried cranberries 
¼ cup toasted pecans 
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles 
Orange vinaigrette 
Layer ingredients, except for the salad dressing, and serve with dressing on the side.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cute & Fun

The first day of Thanksgiving Break does not mean the Halls get to sleep in. Calli had a sleepover and an 8:00 a.m. basketball practice. Sky and I are just morning people; so we were up by 7:30. What do you do with a bored 6-year-old at 7:30 on Thanksgiving Eve? I put her to work on an easy project. Pilgrim Hat cookies are so simple, she did it mostly by herself. Here's how you do it: You will need: Fudge Stripe Cookies vanilla frosting (tinted yellow) mini peanut butter cups yellow M&Ms or Reece's Pieces Instructions: Turn cookie upside down. Glue one peanut butter cup with small amount of icing in center of cookies. Using toothpick or wooden skewer, run small amount of icing around peanut butter cup for hat border. Stick yellow candy piece buckle on with small dot of icing. So cute!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Corn Cakes #Vegetarian

These have eggs in them, so they aren't vegan, unless you use an egg substitute. I have some, but I've never tried it, so I can't say how that would turn out. These turned out guuuuuuud.
Charlie taught me how to make these. Then he forgot, because I did the cooking after we were married, and I got to teach it back to him. :)

Adjust the amounts of everything to suit your own taste, of course.

Corn Cakes
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 scant Tbs baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup BUTTERMILK (or milk with 1/4 tsp white vinegar stirred in)
  • about 1/4 tsp salt
  • vegan margarine

Mix everything except the margarine and let it sit a few minutes for the cornmeal to absorb some of the milk. You'll have to stir it up before you cook it. Melt margarine in a large skillet. When the skillet is hot, drop batter by the 1/4 cup into the skillet, probably no more than 4 to a batch. Fry until the bubbles on top pop and the edges are brown. Turn over and finish frying, adding more margarine, if necessary.

Great with what I'm posting about on my own blog tomorrow. :)

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

Homemade Butterfingers?! Heck, Yeah!

Did you hit the after Halloween candy sales and buy more candy corn than you'll ever use? While candy corn is great for decorating desserts all the way through Thanksgiving, you can also use it to make Butterfinger-style candy bars! What? Yep, Butterfingers from candy corn. How awesome is that? Watch the video below to become the next candy rock star.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pi r Squared & Pies r Good!

My first grader will be studying fractions next week. Her teacher is using an awesome method of instruction. She is having parents make pumpkin and pecan pies especially for the lesson. With Thanksgiving being next week, the timing is perfect and delicious! I might have enjoyed math a little more if I had learned fractions this way!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

2 Wickedly Quick and Easy Spreads #vegetarian

I had the refreshments at a meeting this month. I baked some bread, and I needed something to go with, so I made these.

The pinky-orange one is sweet. You can substitute any preserves or any nuts you like.

Sweet Spread

  • softened cream cheese
  • apricot preserves
  • chopped pecans
Mix and chill.

Savory Spread
  • softened cream cheese
  • chopped green olives
Mix and chill.

It's insane how nice these are, and how well they go over, to be so quick and easy and relatively cheap.

Good to keep in mind, as we approach the party season.

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

Friday, November 13, 2015


Okay, so we all know how important gravy is at Thanksgiving. I mean, come on, it's gravy we're talking about! Unfortunately, making the perfect gravy leaves many of us scratching our heads and reaching for that trusty jar of gravy in the pantry.

Michael Symon of The Chew makes it foolproof to not only make an awesome roasted turkey but gravy, too! All with only three ingredients. Thanksgiving just got easier.

Check out the recipe here:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Colcannon -- Or Is It KALEcannon? #Vegan

We love this stuff. It's good, and it's SO EASY and quick!
You just pull the leaves off some kale, peel (or not) and cube some potatoes, put it all in a pot and cover it with water, bring it to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer it for 20 minutes. Then mash it. You can mash it a little, leaving chunks, or you can mash it a lot. A little salt, a little pepper, and then you stuff it in your belleh!

You can use cabbage, if you'd rather, and that's good, too, but we had some fresh kale from the farmers' market, so we used kale. Mmmmm.

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

Friday, November 6, 2015

Acorn Squash

Fall is in full swing and while you may have enjoyed zucchini and yellow squash during the summer, there are a number of Fall squashes that are just as delicious. Acorn squash is a great option and makes a wonderful side dish. The video below teaches you everything you need to know about roasting an acorn squash, but what do you serve it with?

Acorn squash is a delightful side dish for ham steaks, a sage rubbed pork loin, or even a classic roasted chicken. Think of the flavors you love of the Fall season and combine them with acorn squash to create a Fall inspired meal.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tips on a Perfect #Vegan Pie Crust

The first time I tried to make a pie crust, I got mad at it and threw it up against the wall. It didn't do the crust -- or the wall -- a bit of good, but it relieved my feelings more than somewhat.

A few nights ago, I made a crust that was, Charlie agrees, pretty darn good. Here are some small and simple things I do differently than I did when I made my first one, and I believe they make a big difference.

First, the recipe:

Single Pie Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening*
  • ice water
*"shortening" is butter, margarine, lard, or vegetable shortening. I use Smart Balance vegan margarine.

So, first, the sugar makes the crust tender instead of tough. Second, the colder the water is, the better. Third, mix all the dry ingredients and then add the shortening, and stir it with a fork until all the flour is incorporated with the shortening, but don't mix it into a paste; you want little lumps of shortening in it. Now, add a couple of tablespoons of the ice water and stir a few times. If the pastry doesn't seem to be holding together, add another tablespoon or so of water and stir another few times. This is kind of tricky, because you want the pastry to hold together but not be wet. You want to mix it, but not to break up those little lumps of shortening.

Now, dust a board with flour and roll out the pastry. Start in the middle and roll it toward the edge, turning it so you can roll it from the middle out to all edges. Carefully pick it up and put it in the pie pan. Work with it as little as possible, and run cold water on your hands if you need to to keep those little shortening lumps from melting while you work it. Cut off the bits that hang off the pie pan's rim, and crimp or do whatever fancy thing to the edge you want to. Or leave it plain; it eats just the same.

NOW, put the crust into the refrigerator to chill before you bake it, or before you fill it and bake it.

I baked it at 450 for between 5 and 10 minutes. When it started to bubble up, I took it out, poured in the filling, and baked it until the filling was done.

It was crisp, light, and done on the bottom, just the way Charlie and I like it. Not big fans of soggy pie crust.

On my blog tomorrow, I'll talk about what I filled it with.

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Looting and Ravaging from Halloween Decor

Obviously, just one pumpkin will not suffice for the Hall clan. I love this year's display. We have run into one small issue. The Cookie Monster pumpkin did have cookies coming out of his mouth; and the owl did have lots of sunflower seeds glued on. What happens to cookies and sunflower seeds when you live in the woods? Well, I suspect some squirrels and birds have been feasting on cookies and sunflower seeds. Never thought our display would feed the wildlife!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kale Soup FTW #Vegan Or Not

Kale soup is SO GOOD, and very versatile. It doesn't even have to be vegan, if you don't want it to be.

Here's the version we had the other night.
That's chickpeas, black-eyed peas, carrots, and (surprise!) kale in a Not-Chick'n broth. I put in some onion powder, too, though onions would be nicer. Ham or kielbasa would make a good meat addition. If I were serving this in mixed company, I would cook the ham/sausage in a separate pan and serve it on the side to be added at the table.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Little Debbie to the Rescue!

I am organizing this years' TrunkrTreat at my church. So, I must cheaply decorate a whole lotta tables. Dollar plastic tablecloths in orange and black will be on every table. Spread down the center of each table will be Little Debbie Halloween cakes. They are cute, cheap and will allow everyone to take home a little parting gift!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Tale Of Two Tomatoes Part 1 #vegan

There were more than two tomatoes, actually.

We plan a garden, see. The garden grows. Charlie complains that it isn't producing enough to matter, he's tired of looking at the plants, and it's time to clean up. Next thing I know, the plants are on the compost heap.

This time, we scrounged the last green tomatoes from the poor little vines.

I'll post what I did with the smallest ones on my blog tomorrow.

I sliced the larger ones and made The Queen of Foods, Fried Green Tomatoes.

Every cook has her own notions of how to make this. I slice mine thin, soak them in salt water, dredge them in seasoned flour, and fry them in as little grease as possible until crisp and brown on both sides. The tomatoes, I mean, not me.
This is absolutely my favorite thing to eat in the whole wide world. The lack of them makes the winter bearable, because I can look forward to having them when summer rolls 'round again.

I know that doesn't make any sense, but that's the way I sees it.

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

One-Skillet Chicken Pot Pie

One-Skillet Chicken Pot Pie in Only 30 Minutes


3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups frozen vegetables, (corn, peas and carrots)
3 oz fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp dried parsley
Cheesy Drop Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 oz fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup whole milk


Preheat oven to 450°F.

Melt butter in a (10-inch) oven safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until chicken is browned, about 2 minutes each side.

Add flour and whisk to combine. Slowly add chicken stock while whisking skillet. Whisk until well combined. Add in vegetables and cheese. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium. Allow mixture to come to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile: In a large mixing bowl combine flour, cheese, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine well. Add butter and milk. Stir to combine.

Drop biscuits by the rounded tablespoon full on top of pot pie. Place skillet on cookie sheet and then slide into the oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown.

Sprinkle with fresh parsley, serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Leftover Garlic Bread Becomes Something New

I often find myself with leftover garlic bread. This is not a bad thing; because leftover garlic bread makes outstanding croutons. Just cut the bread into cubes and toast on a 350 degree over for about 10 minutes. Since this last loaf of garlic bread I made also had Parmesan cheese on it, I'm thinking the croutons will have a bit of a Caesar salad flair.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Eatin' Like The Po' Folks #vegan

Charlie and I both grew up on this kind of food, and we love it.

Okay, I tell a lie. Charlie grew up on this kind of food. I grew up refusing to eat anything but meat and taters unless forced to do otherwise. But we both love this now.

That's fried potatoes, sliced fresh tomatoes, vegetarian baked beans (Bush's), and roasted okra.

Miss meat? I'll tell you the truth: sometimes I do. But this was not that day.

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

Friday, October 9, 2015

Cheesy Baked Potato Soup

Fully loaded baked potato soup that only takes 20 minutes to prepare? Tell me more!
PARADE fully-loaded-cheesy-baked-potato-soup

The soup is made from leftover baked potatoes (or you can bake your potatoes in the microwave). Below is the recipe, but visit the blog for more information and for additional yummy recipes.

Fully Loaded Cheesy Baked Potato Soup


4 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
4 oz cream cheese
3 lb baked potatoes, precooked
8 oz shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
6 slices thick cut bacon, precooked and crumbled
3 oz shredded mild cheddar cheese
chopped chives


Warm a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add butter to pot. Once butter starts to melt, whisk in flour.

Whisk together and slowly pour in chicken stock. Continue whisking and add sour cream and cream cheese. Whisk until mixture comes together.

Slice potatoes in half and scoop out the insides of the potato, add to pot.

Smash potatoes into chunks using a potato masher or wooden spoon, until desired consistency is reached. I like my soup kind of chunky. Add sharp cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted.

Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Keep That OJ Fresh #ManInTheKitchen

So I went into the kitchen and found that Charlie had come up with this off-the-cuff solution.

Hey, whatever works, eh?

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

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sugar Free Chocolate Fudge

healthy fudgeThis recipe blogger had me at "no fake sugar." The recipe comes from Chocolate Covered Katie, and you can get this recipe and others by clicking the link.  

Sugar Free Chocolate Fudge

1/2 cup coconut butter or Homemade Coconut Butter. (120g)
1 large, overripe banana (160g) (For a banana-free version, just use 2/3 cup more coconut butter)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
scant 1/8 tsp salt
pinch uncut stevia (or 2 tbsp powdered sugar or pure maple syrup or honey)
1/4 cup cocoa powder or cacao powder (20g)
optional: 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Make sure your coconut butter is melted before use. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Then smooth the fudge into a container or candy molds. (Plastic containers work well, because you can pop the fudge right out.) Place in the fridge for a few hours, or freeze for a few minutes. You can freeze it for longer periods of time; just be sure to thaw at least 15-20 minutes prior to eating.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Like Mother/Like Daughter

Shopping at Fresh Market is a special event for me. It is like a relaxing spa experience for my eyes, nose and imagination. Yesterday, the doctor suggested good honey to soothe the symptoms of my daughter's respiratory virus. We headed straight to Fresh Market. It was Calli's first fascinating, joyous trip to this foodie Nirvana. She loved it; and I loved watching her take it all in. Is there any food shopping place that makes you feel Zen?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Squash Martha Stewart #vegan

No, I am not advocating violence against my favorite homemaker. I love Martha Stewart!

This is a recipe for squash that MY HUSBAND tore out of Martha Stewart Living and suggested I make. I did, and we loved it!

There was no recipe, so I can't give you one, which is okay, because I don't usually do recipes anyway. I take some this and do that to it, and then this other thing, and eat it. That's the way this recipe was.

 So I cut a bit off the squash to depressurize it and I microwaved it for a few minutes to soften it up. Then I cut it into sections, leaving the skin on. I dipped it in softened vegan margarine and then into a mixture of whole cumin seeds, sesame seeds, salt, and ground coriander. Then I roasted them at about 400 until they started to brown.

Martha says, "Swap the add-ins for orange zest and sage, and you've spun it into a bright Mediterranean-style side. Switch it up with bacon and maple syrup, and you've got an all-American match for nearly anything roasted or grilled."

We loved the cumin version, but both thought I went too heavy on the cumin seed.

See what you think!

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

Friday, September 25, 2015

25-Minute Baked Ziti

Chad A Elick
25 Minute Baked Ziti Skillet *


1 lb hot Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 (14.5-oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
½ (6-oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
16 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
4 oz fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 lb dried pasta (ziti or penne are best)
3 cups water
1 (8-oz) package shredded Italian cheese blend
basil, for garnish


In a large (12-inch) skillet over high heat, brown sausage, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, sauce, paste, Italian seasoning, dried pasta, and water. Stir to combine, cover and bring to a boil. Boil until pasta is al dente (has a little bite to it).

Meanwhile; combine ricotta, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir until well incorporated.

Stir ricotta mixture into pasta. Preheat oven to broil. Top skillet with shredded cheese and place in oven. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Keep a close eye on it or you will have crispy cheese pretty quick.

Garnish with basil. Serve and enjoy!

* Visit Community Table for more information!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tried and True

I love to bake cakes! For my husband's birthday, I was willing to make whatever spectacular creation he chose. So, what was his pick? Todd wanted a simple yellow cake with chocolate frosting (from a box and a can). He did not even want a layer cake; opting for a rectangular cake baked in a glass pan. Nothing like a simple classic! What would you pick for your birthday cake if options were limitless?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Glazed Carrots #vegan

We had this the other night:
The stuff that isn't orange is baked penne and cheese, like macs and cheese only we were out of macs and used penne instead. The green bits in the penne is broccoli, which I boiled along with the penne, then baked with the penne and cheese and flour and milk. It's vegetarian, not vegan.

The orange stuff is glazed carrots. It IS vegan.

Our Glazed Carrots

  • baby carrots
  • water
  • salt
  • vegan margarine
  • Turbinado sugar
  • local honey
Put baby carrots into a deep skillet with enough water to cover them. Add salt to taste. Cover the skillet and cook the carrots until they're tender (about 20 minutes). Uncover the skillet. Add margarine, sugar, and honey, and turn up the heat, cooking until the water is evaporated and only the glaze is left. I like to add pepper, myself.

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

Friday, September 18, 2015

Lazy Girl's Ravioli Lasagna


    Lazy Girls Ravioli Lasagna via Iowa Girl Eats
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • garlic salt
  • pepper
  • 24oz marinara sauce
  • 1-1/2lbs frozen mini cheese ravioli (Do not thaw. Could use normal sized ravioli)
  • 6oz shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, seasoning with garlic salt and pepper, until no longer pink. Drain then return to the skillet and set aside.
  2. Spread 1/4 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Add 1/3 the frozen ravioli, ground beef, sauce, and cheese. Repeat layers two more times.
  3. Cover with a sheet of non-stick sprayed foil then bake for 1 hour. Remove foil then bake for 10 more minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
I love quick and easy recipes! Check this one out if you're a pasta lover! :) Visit Iowa Girl Eats for this recipe's tutorial as well as a lot of other fun stuff! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Sticky, Crunchy, Chewy Celebration

My oldest child got some great news yesterday. In a little more than a month, her braces are coming off! This is round 2 of having braces; so Calli has endured years of abstaining from peanuts, bubblegum, caramels and other treats that can wreak havoc on orthodontic appliances. Wonder what she will want to eat first? As luck would have it, this will happen in time for Halloween. Hope Calli doesn't go crazy and replaces braces with cavities!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Meatless Wings Not For #Vegans Who Don't Like Meat

I got a coupon for any Morningstar Farms product, so I decided to try out their Buffalo Wings. There aren't many in a package, but more than enough for us. We each had 240 calories worth:
The other item is a stir-fry of portabella mushrooms, broccoli, and leftover Jasmine rice.

It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad. It would definitely satisfy my meat-tooth in a pinch, but it would be too meaty for our vegan daughter who doesn't want anything that feels or tastes like meat.

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

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Broccoli Soup #vegetarian #GF

I didn't mean for this to be vegetarian OR gluten-free, but it is.
I had some broccoli, and I had a leftover baked potato. So this happened.

I cut the florets off the broccoli and chopped up some of the florets and some of the stem. I boiled that in salted water until it was tender and the water was reduced to just cover the veg. Then I scooped the innards out of the baked potato, added that and some onion powder, and mashed, leaving some chunks. I poured in some milk and vegan margarine and the rest of the florets and brought it up to heat. It didn't even need cheese, although cheese is never a bad thing.

Charlie likes his soup thin, so this was thin. If I had been making it to suit myself, I would have added the innards of another potato or maybe some potato flakes to thicken it up. It was still good.

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

Friday, September 4, 2015

Dorm-Room Gourmet? Yes!

Waffle Iron Grilled Cheese Recipe @fifteenspatulasI found an article on Brit + Co that I thought would be wonderful for the college students going back to school this month.  It's 25 Recipes You Can Make In Your Dorm Room using a waffle iron, a microwave, and a mug. I, for one, didn't realize you could make grilled cheese sandwiches using a waffle iron. I'll be trying out that one. How about you? Do you have any suggestions for college kids who don't want to eat cafeteria or fast foods all the time?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

No String Attached

Fatal Foodies, this is not your Gramdma's apron! Check out the No Strings Attached Apron. There are literally no strings. The apron slips on with the structured waist band. Laminated fabric means spills simply wipe off. The best part is all the cute patterns. Check out all the options on their website:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Enchilada Deliciousness #vegetarian

I got some vegetarian "meat" crumbles, so I had to make something with them, right?

I began by making an enchilada sauce -- well, sort of an enchilada sauce. Since Charlie can't tolerate too much spice, I toned it way down for him.

Vegetarian Enchiladas
  • olive oil
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • flour
  • tomato sauce
  • onion powder
  • sticky rice
  • black beans
  • flour tortillas
  • salsa
  • shredded cheese
Heat some olive oil in a pan. Sprinkle in some chili powder and cumin and toast it. If you can eat onions, include chopped onions; otherwise, wait and add onion powder to the liquid when you add it.

Add a little flour, then tomato sauce and onion powder (if you're using onion powder). Stir it around until it thickens. Add the meatless crumbles and heat until ... you know ... hot.

Cook some sticky rice and heat up a can of black beans (preferably Southwestern spiced).

Warm some flour tortillas. Top each tortilla with a little rice, beans, salsa, and cheese. Roll it up, tucking in the ends.

Lightly oil a baking dish and spread some enchilada sauce on the bottom. Put the rolled-up tortillas in snugly. We're light eaters, so I only made two and put each one in a mini-dish. Pour enchilada sauce over the rolled-up tortillas. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 and top with cheese.
I'll tell you what, fellers: It was perty damn good.

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

Friday, August 28, 2015

Garlic Parmesan Cheese Bombs

I found the recipe for these yummy little cheese bombs at The Recipe Critic. I'll post the recipe below, but you really should check out the site for the mouthwatering tutorial.

Garlic Parmesan Cheese Bombs
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits (like the ones by Pillsbury - I used their Texas-style biscuits)
  • 3 mozzarella cheese sticks, cut into 4 pieces each (so you have 12 total)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and grease a baking sheet. Separate each biscuit. Place one piece of cheese in the center of each biscuit, pinch the sides around the cheese so it is completely encased by the biscuit dough. Place seam-side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until golden.
  2. Melt butter. Stir in garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and Parmesan cheese. When biscuits are done baking, brush butter mixture over each biscuit. Serve warm.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Another Blast from the Past

Last week, I reminisced about Scholastic book orders. This week, I pay tribute to another relic from my childhood that my kids still enjoy. When I was a youngster, the arrival of my HIGHLIGHTS magazine subscription made any day a little brighter. I loved the stories, the projects and, who can forget the hidden pictures! Now, my youngest loves her HiGHLIGHTS subscription as much as I did. Of course, I have to sneak a peak at her issues! Who said you shouldn't live through you kids?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Is Your Sugar #Vegan ? Do You Care?

I don't use much sugar except occasionally to sweeten tea, so I have no problem substituting Turbinado sugar for white sugar. Why do I want to?

I learned, to my sorrow, that cane sugar is (not invariably, but frequently) whitened by filtering it through bone char. That's charred bones. The bone char is so processed by the time it gets to work filtering sugar, it barely qualifies as an animal product -- kind of like Spam or Velveeta. But still.

Beet sugar doesn't have to be filtered with bone char, but, while some sugars proudly label themselves "cane sugar," I have yet to find one that labels itself "beet sugar". Wonder why?

Let me reiterate, since people don't seem to believe me: I AM NOT A VEGAN. I just cook like one on the internet. Actually, as I've said before, we have a vegan daughter, so I like to make my kitchen as free of culinary booby-traps for her as possible.

Besides: bone char. Even I ain't that Goth.

While researching this post, I learned that Whole Foods has a cane sugar that is not only filtered through non-animal charcoal, it's part of the Whole Trade Guarantee:
  • Meet our high quality standards
  • Provide more money to producers
  • Ensure better wages and working conditions for workers
  • Care for the environment
To sweeten the deal, we also donate 1% of all Whole Trade product sales to the Whole Planet Foundation, which funds micro-credit loans around the world with the mission to help end world poverty.

Way cool!

What kind of sugar do you use?

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

Friday, August 21, 2015

Making Pie Crust from Cake Mix?

Mini Pumpkin Mousse Pie with Meringue :: Recipe on HoosierHomemade.comI found this tutorial/recipe on Hoosier Homemade. The page teaches bakers how to make vanilla and chocolate pie crusts from boxed cake mix. It's really cool, so check it out! :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

It's Still Around!

I am so happy that they still do it! School kids still get the Scholastic flier (aka "book order"). My heart used to skip a beat when the fliers were handed out at my school. I am thankful my little girls have experienced the same joy over choosing a new book. Do you remember the Scholastic fliers?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Eggy Spinach Thing #vegetarian

I made this, and it was very good:

I forget what it's called, but the base of it is Choux pastry -- the same thing you make cream puffs from.

  • 1/8 cup butter (or vegan margarine)
  • 1/4 cup water
Bring to a boil. Add:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Remove from heat, stirring till ball forms. Let rest 5 minutes, then add:
  • 1 egg
  • bit of ground mustard
  • cheese of your choice
I did something not quite right, so it doesn't look like it's supposed to. Don't know if I used too much shortening or didn't let it cool long enough. As my grandpa used to say, "It didn't hurt the eatin' of it."

Okay. Now.

Spoon the choux around the edges of a buttered baking dish. Fill the center with veg. Cauliflower is nice. I used spinach and mushrooms. Top it with cheese.

Bake at 400 F for 45 minutes or so, maybe longer. It looks like it isn't going to do anything, then it starts to puff up and rises around the veg.

Um yum!

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