Friday, January 30, 2015

Taco Cupcakes

Taco CupcakesHow cute are these taco cupcakes? I thought they might be just the thing to serve at a football party or a Gilmore Girls marathon while the guys watch hours and hours of pre-game show. What's that all about? I can handle the actual game, but not the pre-game junk, so my daughter and I have decided a Gilmore Girls binge is in order. It's our new favorite show. So what if it's fifteen years old. And Jared Padalecki is still precious! :)

Okay, back to the Taco Cupcakes.

1 pound of ground beef
1 (1.25 ounces) package of Old El Paso taco seasoning mix
36 wonton wrappers
1 (16 ounce) can of Old El Paso refried beans
36 tortilla chips
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Optional: sour cream, cilantro, onion, diced tomatoes
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 18 muffin cups with cooking spray.
Brown ground beef in skillet and drain. Add taco seasoning mix and the amount of water called for on the package. Allow mixture to simmer for 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
Place one wonton wrapper in each muffin cup. Layer about one tablespoon of  refried beans on top of each wonton. Crush one tortilla chip on top of the beans. Top with one tablespoon of taco meat and one tablespoon of shredded cheese. Repeat the layers once more.
Bake for 15 - 18 minutes or until golden brown. 
Remove cupcakes from muffin cups and add your favorite taco toppings.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Run out and get this Book (or movie)!

I watched another book-turned-movie with my oldest daughter this weekend. Calli's movie selection was THE MAZE RUNNER. I loved this one! The main character finds himself delivered (via elevator) into a strange, isolated world. He is in the company of other young men who have suffered the same fate. None of the boys have a memory of their life before being sent up in the elevator. There is an ever-changing maze that might provide an escape back into the outside world. Problem is, the maze is full of danger. Do the captives brave the maze; or succumb to the circumstances they have been given? Read or watch to find out! P.S.-Looking deeper, I see a great metaphor in this movie. Moving outside of your world, although scary, is sometimes the only escape to a better life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sweet Potato, Legumes, and Rice #vegan

We had a baked sweet potato left over, so we had this for supper:

That's Jasmine rice under the black-eyed peas and onions.

I slipped the skin off the sweet potato, sliced it thickly, and coated the slices with flour. Then I melted some vegan margarine and browned the slices on both sides.

MOST delicious!

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

Friday, January 23, 2015

Something New Is Cooking!

I'm going to be doing a Southern Cafe Mystery Series. The first book in the series is titled SOUTHERN FRIED FATALITY and will feature back-of-the-book recipes. One such recipe is for Oatmeal Pie. I thought of Oatmeal Pie because I remember going into a neighbor's house when I was a little girl, and she had oatmeal pies baking in the oven. They smelled heavenly. I never got to taste the pie, but I wanted to really bad! Until then, I thought only Little Debbie made oatmeal pies.

Do you have another Southern recipe you think Southern Cafe Mystery readers would enjoy? If you (or someone you know) have a recipe you would like to have printed in an upcoming book (with a shout-out to you in the acknowledgements), please submit the recipe in an email ( with the subject line "Recipe." 

You might be wondering why you'd go to all that trouble for a mere acknowledgement. Well, as they say on TV informercials, "But Wait!" If your original recipe is chosen for inclusion in the book, you'll receive a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book upon publication. "And That's Not All! (I'm still in infomercial mode.) If you send in a recipe that isn't chosen for the first book in the series but makes it into the next book, the same deal applies. You'll receive the acknowledgement, the $25 Amazon gift card, and a copy of the book upon publication. 

Sound good? You may submit more than one recipe. If more than one recipe is accepted, you'll receive a $25 Amazon gift card and book for each recipe that makes it into a book. Thanks in advance for participating! :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Major Announcement!

As a news junkie, I pride myself on being abreast of major world announcements. I am excited to share a big shake-up in the world of cookies! Oreo is releasing a new flavor! In February, Red Velvet Oreos will become available. It will be a special, Valentine flavor; only available for a limited time. Not sure if I will be trying this favor. How about you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The First Cooking Mystery I Ever Read #amreading

Virginia Rich of The Cooking School Murders generally gets credit for the first crafty cozy. I certainly don't remember reading anything like it: female involved in something crafty (cooking) and completely uninvolved with detection, gets involved sort of accidentally, solves the murder, recipes in the back. Nowadays, you can read all kinds of crafty/artsy/jobsy cozies, including ... just for instance ... Gayle Trent's new "Amanda Lee" embroidery mystery.
But the first -- the very first -- mystery I read with food in was Rex Stout's Too Many Cooks. It doesn't qualify as a cozy, technically, because the sleuth, Nero Wolfe, is a professional detective. I maintain it counts, though, because he isn't on a case, he's part of it. He's at a gathering of top chefs when one of them turns up stabbed. Most of the Wolfe books have recipes in them, or at the very least mouth-watering descriptions of meals.

Go. Read. Drool.

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

Friday, January 16, 2015

Peppermint Mocha Donuts

Peppermint Mocha Donuts

According to the Blahnik Baker, these peppermint mocha donuts are a great way to start your winter morning. For the step-by-step tutorial with plenty of photographs, click on the link above.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Gor Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 to 4 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • Crushed candy canes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a donut pan with baking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and espresso powder. In a measuring cup, whisk together wet ingredients; milk, egg, olive oil and extracts.
  2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix as you will have rubbery donuts. Using a small spoon, scoop batter into prepared donut pan, filling each about ⅔ full.
  3. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the donuts are baked through and spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan for 1 minute and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. While cooling, make the glaze.
  4. To make glaze, whisk together all the ingredients. Add some more powdered sugar (one tablespoon at a time) if glaze is not thick to coat donuts.
  5. When donuts are completely cooled, dip each in glaze. Decorate with chopped candy canes. Let glaze set for 20 minutes before stacking or serving. Donuts are best enjoyed within two days.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Press On

My newest kitchen gadget is a panini press that I got for Christmas. This handy machine has made me a master of the leftover makeover. For lunch I have been chopping up leftover meats and veggies and tucking them into a tortilla with a smattering of Dijon mustard and a slice of cheese. A few minutes in the panini press gives me a yummy, oooey, gooey, hot sandwich. Any of you have a favorite recipe that utilizes a panini press?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Potato Soup As You Like It #Vegetarian

Charlie made some potato soup the other day, and it was very good. HOWEVER, he likes his soup thin (as he calls it, "brothy," as I call it, "watery") and I like mine thick. When I make potato soup, I make it thick and he thins his with milk. He made his thin, which we both consider turn-about is fair play.

So I stirred some instant potato flakes into mine and added some grated cheese. If we were carnivores, I could have nuked some bacon and crumbled it up in there, too.

This is the secret to a successful marriage.

Charlie's Potato Soup

  • potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • salted water
  • milk
  • parsley
Cook the potatoes in the water with parsley. Drain off some of the water if you want the broth richer. Mash them a little, so the broth is lumpy. Add milk. Heat but don't let it boil or scorch.

Add options, if desired, like cream, sour cream, bacon, cheese, potato flakes, pepper.

Hug and be happy.

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

Apple Almond Energy Bites

Apple Almond Energy Bites

Don't these look good? Actually, I think they look good enough that they must be bad for you, but they're actually not. I've included the recipe below, or you can click on the link above to go to My Whole Food and click on the printable version there.

  • Combine all ingredients in the food processor. If the mixture looks a little wet, you can add in some more oats. Take a taste. If it's not sweet enough for you, feel free to add a little maple syrup or raw honey.
  • Roll into balls or use a cookie scoop to drop balls onto a lined baking sheet.
  • Set in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. 
Store these in the fridge. You can also freeze them! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A New(ish) Take on an Old Classic

It certainly is not a brand new movie; but I am a bit behind on the book/movie/television bandwagon. My oldest daughter got MALIFICENT for Christmas. The two of us spent a cozy couple of hours in her room with a bowl of popcorn and this fun flick. MALIFICENT is a cool take on the tale of SLEEPING BEAUTY. It is a little dark for really young kids; but an awesome movie with a great message for tweens. What fairy tale would you like to see given a modern treatment?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Easiest Bread Ever

I can't remember now who recommended ARTISAN BREAD IN FIVE MINUTES A DAY, but I bless whoever it was! I bought the book, but I only use the basic recipe, so it was maybe kind of a waste BUT MAYBE NOT!

"Really?" (You're asking that, in case you don't know.) "Five minutes a day? Really?"

And I answer: "No, they lie. Not really." But it's pretty quick and easy.

Anyway, here's the recipe:


To mix:
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 6 1/2 - 7 cups bread flour
Mix first 3 ingredients. Add 3 cups flour and stir until mostly smooth. Add the rest of the flour. Mix, using hands if necessary, until all the flour is mixed in and no lumps remain. Cover loosely and let double. Refrigerate in loosely covered container.

The hard part is over!

To bake:

Preheat oven to 400F for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, rip off a chunk of that dough, sprinkle it with flour, shape it, and let it rise for 20 minutes. You can shape it into long skinny loaves, short pointy loaves, round loaves, small panini-sized loaves. You can roll it out, put something in the middle, and fold the dough over the filling. After it rises, sprinkle the top with flour and score the top with a sharp knife.

Bake for 20 minutes.

You can also roll it out in a circle and use it for foccacia or pizza crust. You can roll it REALLY THIN and bake it at about 500F to make pita. You can work cinnamon, sugar, and raisins in it and make sweet bread out of it.


Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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