Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies

Sprinkles and colorful drizzle dress up any regular cookie and make it spectacular. These cute trees are fun to decorate and even more fun to eat. The buttery taste melts in your mouth like the best Southern cooking you've ever had. They're also triangle instead of a circle so it makes them a little unique. The recipe calls for candy melts as the drizzle, but white chocolate is a great substitute.

Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at cool room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup green candy melts (See Kelly's Notes)
1 Tablespoon
vegetable oil
Assorted sprinkles


Preheat the oven to 300ºF and grease two round 9-inch cake pans with butter. (If the pans are not non-stick, line them with greased parchment paper).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing just until combined.

Divide the dough evenly between the two greased pans and press it into an even layer. Using a fork, prick the dough all over. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the shortbread is pale golden in the center and slightly darker around the edges.

Remove the shortbread from the oven and immediately invert the pans onto a cutting board. (If the shortbread won't release from the pan, use a sharp knife to cut around the edges.) Using a sharp knife, immediately cut each shortbread round into 8 wedges. It is important to cut the shortbread while it's still warm, otherwise it will crumble if you try to cut it after it has cooled.

Transfer the shortbread wedges to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Melt the candy melts with the vegetable oil in a microwave or double-boiler, stirring until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag or plastic bag, snip off the tip of the bag and then drizzle it onto the cookies. Immediately top the cookies with sprinkles and serve.

(Get the step-by-step tutorial at Just A Taste.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Main Dish Veggie Casserole #Vegan

This was supposed to be a lasagna, but I decided to make it with eggplant instead of noodles. No reason, I JUST DID, OKAY?


SO ANYWAY, this recipe started out to be Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna with a Creamy Bechamel Sauce, from SPORK-FED, a cookbook by Emily and Zooey Deschanel.

And they are dirty, rotten liars, because the Bechamel Sauce was NOT creamy, it was watery and thin, even after I added more flour. But it tasted good, so I forgive them.

It was WAY more of a production than I EVER make. I don't know what I was thinkin'. Got the Christmas Crazies, I guess.

I peeled and sliced the eggplant, soaked it salted water for 30 minutes, drained it, laid it out on parchment paper on a baking sheet, and baked it at 350F for about 30 minutes. Some of it was still soft and some of it was scorchy. Baking it in the casserole softened it up, so, if I ever did this again (ha, ha, I fancy I see myself, meaning I WON'T), I would slice it into rounds rather than strips. The crunchy bits a broke off and nibbled before putting them into the casserole were quite nice, though.

Yeah, also cut the butternut squash and roasted that at 375F for an hour and THEN took out the seeds, which I am totally always going to do.
I also didn't think their filling was vegetably enough, since all they had was baby spinach. And I was doing baby spinach in something else, so I used kale instead, and a package of frozen roasted zucchini/carrot/onion mix.

The Squash Part
1 large butternut squash, roasted
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
6-to-8 leaves fresh sage, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar (which I thought I had, but I didn't, so I used real maple syrup)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mash it all up.

The Non-Squash Veg Part
1 package frozen roasted veg
olive oil
chopped green onions
chopped kale

Cook it in a saucepan until the frozen veg are hot and the kale is wilted.

The Bechamel That Wouldn't Thicken
1/3 cup vegan margarine
1/3 cup flour
4 cups unflavored unsweetened almond or soymilk (I used almond)
1teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
dash freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Melt margarine. Stir in flour. Add the rest of the ingredients. Whisk. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about three days, cursing steadily, then try adding five pounds more flour. Give up and use it anyway, even though it's runny.

Put It All Together
Spread a layer of runny bechamel on the bottom of a lasagna dish. This will be easy to do BECAUSE IT'S RUNNY. Add a layer of cooked lasagna noodles or, if you're me, a layer of baked eggplant. Add a layer of butternut squash, noodles, bechamel sauce. Add a layer of the veg mixture, noodles, bechamel, then -- oh, you get it: LAYER ALL THE THINGS, ending with "a thick layer of bechamel sauce," and good luck with that.
But it was DELICIOUS. Worth the trouble? Oh, HELL, no. But delicious, all the same.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, December 23, 2016

No Bake Holiday Cookie Ornaments

Start with a plain vanilla wafer and end with an edible, colorful ornament. These cookie ornaments are great for cookie swaps and crafting parties. Fruit Roll-Ups add a hint of fun. String licorice makes the loop for the ornament so you get all kinds of sweets packed in one festive cookie. Did we mention they are no bake because that could be the best thing about these cookies! They only take a few minutes to decorate and then can be right in your tummy.

No Bake Holiday Cookie Ornaments


20 vanilla wafer cookies
1 box Betty Crocker™ Fruit Roll-Ups® Blastin' Berry Hot Colors® chewy fruit flavored snacks 
20 (3-inch) pieces string licorice
Coarse sugar, if desired


1) Line cookie sheet with waxed paper or cooking parchment paper. Unroll and remove paper from Betty Crocker Fruit Roll-Ups. Cut each in fourths.
2) Making a loop for ornament using string licorice, and attach to back side of cookie, securing under fruit snack as you wrap fruit snack around cookie. Decorate with sugar, or cut pieces from remaining fruit snack to decorate. Place on cookie sheet.

For expert tips and nutritional information, please look at the recipe on Betty Crocker's site by clicking on the link above.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Springerle Redux

Every year, I make springerle. Springerle is a German cookie flavored with anise. Now, normally, I detest anise, but I love these cookies! I also prefer soft, gooey cookies, and these are the polar opposite of soft and gooey, but I still love them!

Here's a link to the post on my blog whereon I detail how to make springerle. Part of the recipe involves covering the raw cookies loosely and letting them sit out to get stale before baking. That should give you some idea of how tooth-cracking they are when they're done.

WikiPedia image

But delicious!

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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Peppermint Meringues

Peppermint meringues are great for celebrations because of their festive colors. A Southern cooking tradition, meringues are light and airy to follow a heavy meal. Crushed peppermint sprinkles the top of these cookies. These are also a great selection for a cookie swap for a healthier option.

Peppermint Meringues


2 egg whites 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar 
1/2 cup white sugar
2 peppermint candy canes, crushed


Preheat oven to 225 degrees F (110 degrees C). Line 2 cookie sheets with foil.
In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, continuing to beat until whites form stiff peaks. Drop by spoonfuls 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Sprinkle crushed peppermint candy over the cookies.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours in preheated oven. Meringues should be completely dry on the inside. Do not allow them to brown. Turn off oven. Keep oven door ajar, and let meringues sit in the oven until completely cool. Loosen from foil with metal spatula. Store loosely covered in cool dry place for up to 2 months.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fiesta Bowl. Or Something. #Vegetarian

Every so often, Charlie says, "Let's have rice and black beans." So we do.

OF COURSE I can't leave it at that. So this happened.
Rice, black beans (seasoned with cumin), fiesta corn (corn with red and green peppers in), shredded cheese, salsa. We et it with corn chips, o' course. And muy tasty it was, too.

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fruitcake Cookies

Christmas isn't complete without a fruitcake so these cookies are great! Pineapples and cherries give these cookies their unique flavor combined with a hint of brandy for that punch only a fruitcake can provide. A yummy drizzle covers these sweet treats so they taste nothing like your grandmother's hard fruitcake.

Fruitcake Cookies


1 3/4 c. cake flour, spooned and leveled, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 c. chopped toasted pecans
1/2 c. chopped pistachios
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, divided
1 c. finely chopped Maraschino cherries, well drained
1/4 c. finely chopped candied pineapple
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. brandy
1 to 2 tsp. milk


Preheat oven to 350°F with the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together 1 ¼ cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Toss pecans and pistachios with remaining ½ cup flour in a separate bowl.

Beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, beating until incorporated. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating just until incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in nuts (and any flour remaining in bowl), cherries, and pineapple until evenly incorporated. Scoop dough (about ½ tablespoon each), 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown around edges, 14 to 16 minutes. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to the racks to cool completely.

Whisk together confectioners' sugar, brandy, remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon milk (add an additional teaspoon of milk if glaze is too thick). Drizzle over cooled cookies. Let sit, at room temperature, until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Little TOO Healthy, But Still Yum!

Long ago, I got hooked on crispy pea snacks. So, when I found these Harvest Snaps Snapea Crisps at Seeds and Greens in New Albany, I grabbed a couple of bags.
Alas! "Lightly salted" is truth in advertising! These are just the way my husband likes them: baked, only minimally oily, and light on the salt. I like mine salty and oily. I like my snacks to be a minimum of fiber, basically a delivery system for salt and grease.

Nevertheless, these are pretty darned good. (I tried dipping them directly in vegan margarine, but that didn't do the trick.)

Recommended with the reservation that salt-and-grease fiends may be disappointed.

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

Friday, December 2, 2016

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread is a traditional, fun cookie perfect for parties and family celebrations. These cookies can be decorated with any colors and in any style. The best part is all ages can participate in decorating the sweet confections. Dark molasses is the secret ingredient to perfect this cookie. String the cookies on wire for decoration around your home if you can resist the urge not to take a bite of each one.

Gingerbread People Holiday Cookie Projects: White Snowflakes, Dreidel Trios and Ornaments



8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Royal Icing:

2 cups or more confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon egg white*
Raisins, as needed
White chocolate chips, as needed
Various food coloring
Various colors of sanding sugar

Equipment: Pastry bag fitted with small, round tip; cookie cutters in the shape of gingerbread men and women, dreidels, Christmas tree ornaments, and snowflakes; wire, string or yarn for stringing


Make the Gingerbread: In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and mix. Add the eggs and mix. Add the molasses and vanilla and mix.
Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together. Working in batches and mixing after each addition until just combined, add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture. Shape the dough into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease 1 or 2 cookie sheets. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out 1/4-inch thick and cut out with desired cookie cutters.

To make the Royal Icing: In a mixer, blend the confectioners' sugar, milk, and egg white together. Add more sugar to get a pipe-able consistency.

To make Gingerbread Men and Women: Use gingerbread man and woman cookie cutters and cut out the cookies, re-rolling the scraps as needed. Decorate them with raisins and white chocolate chips for eyes, nose, mouth, and buttons down the front. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan.

Meanwhile, add some festive colors to your icing with food coloring and lay out colored sugars in small glass bowls with spoons. Using a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain tip, pipe a few colorful borders or white borders and coat with sanding sugar. When set, add more lines of icing in white.

To make snowflakes: Use a snowflake-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies, re-rolling the scraps as needed. If you plan to hang the cookies, use a toothpick to make holes in the cookies about 1/8-inch wide, keeping in mind that the holes will shrink as the cookies bake and puff up a bit. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan. Using only white icing and a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain tip, pipe thin lines from the center of the cookie out to the points, like spokes of a wheel. Connect the spokes with thin lines between them, making a spiderweb effect to give it the look of a snowflake. Let the icing harden before threading the cookies onto wire, string, or yarn for hanging.

To make ornaments: Use any holiday-themed cookie cutter to cut out the cookies, re-rolling the scraps as needed. If you plan to hang the cookies, use a toothpick to make holes in the cookies about 1/8-inch wide, keeping in mind that the holes will shrink as the cookies bake and puff up a bit. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan. Meanwhile, color some of your icing in festive colors with food coloring, or use colored sugars. Using a pastry bag fitted with the smallest plain tip, pipe a few colorful borders and decorations on the cookies. When set, add more lines of icing in white. Let the icing harden before threading the cookies onto wire, string, or yarn for hanging.

To make dreidel trios: Use a dreidel cookie cutter and cut out 3 cookies. Lay 1 on a greased sheet pan. Fanning out at an angle, with the handles overlapping at the top, lay 2 more dreidels next to the first one (it will look like a paper-doll effect). The handle is now 3 layers thick; press on it gently to thin it slightly and make it larger. Repeat with the remaining dough, re-rolling the scraps as needed.
If you plan to hang the cookies, use a toothpick to make a hole in the cookies about 1/8-inch wide, keeping in mind that the hole will shrink as the cookies bake and puff up a bit. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and let cool on the pan. Color some of your icing blue with food coloring, or use blue colored sugar and white icing together. Using a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip, pipe Hebrew letters or stars of David on the cookies' faces. Let the icing harden before threading the cookies onto wire, string, or yarn for hanging.

Read more at:!?oc=linkback

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Slapping a Salmon on the Table

This is one of the best things I ever bought.
It's one of those grilling machines. This one is about as basic as it gets: You open it, there's a non-stick surface on the bottom and a non-stick surface on the top. You plug it in, wait for it to heat up, pop your food in, close it, and cook stuff until it's done.

Last night, I put a slab of frozen salmon on there. Well, first I rubbed it with olive oil and salt and sprinkled the top with dried dill weed, then I slapped it on there.

Eight minutes later, it was done to perfection.

I use this gizmo for panini, brats, grilled sammiches, grilled veg -- oh, for many things.

And the salmon was YUM.

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

White Chocolate Cappuccino Cookies

These cute coffee mug shaped cookies are perfect for the day after Thanksgiving as you begin the day with family sipping coffee preparing for the big game, a shopping spree, or a movie day. Use a flavored latte coffee mix to boost this cookie's richness. You can even dip the cookie in your coffee for a twist. White candy coating is literally the icing on the cookie in this holiday favorite.

White Chocolate Cappuccino Cookies


2 envelopes mocha cappuccino mix
1 tablespoon hot water
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 ounces white candy coating, melted
Baking cocoa, optional


In a small bowl, dissolve cappuccino mix in hot water. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in cappuccino mixture and egg yolk. In another bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, and salt; gradually beat into creamed mixture.
Divide dough in half. Shape each into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm enough to roll.
Preheat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion of dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 2-1/2-in. cup-shaped cookie cutter. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Pipe melted candy coating over cookies as desired, or dip each cookie halfway into melted candy coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. If desired, dust with cocoa.
Freeze option: Transfer wrapped disks to a resealable plastic freezer bag; freeze. To use, thaw dough in refrigerator until soft enough to roll. Prepare, bake and decorate as directed.Yield: about 4 dozen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Tomato Cauliflower Soup #Vegan

We had a few baby tomatoes left and the tag end of a head of cauliflower, so I made this soup.

Tomato Cauliflower Soup

  • cooked cauliflower, reserving some
  • peeled tomatoes, chopped, reserving some
  • dash of lemon juice
Put these into a blender or food processor and whirl.

  • olive oil
  • onion
Cook the onion in olive oil until the onion is tender and translucent.

Put the cauliflower/tomato stuff in with the onion and add:
  • water
  • veg bouillon
  • Italian seasoning
  • salt
  • blob of salsa
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the reserved cauliflower and tomato and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Most satisfying.

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

Polish Tea Cookies

We're just past the middle of November, so it's time to start thinking about cookie swaps and family gatherings. For the next few weeks, I'll be bringing you some fabulous cookie recipes.

These Polish Tea cookies are perfect for a cookie swap. They're a lot like thumbprint cookies, but are filled with jam. A soft butter taste combines with jam and almonds in this cookie. Almonds give these a great texture and pair perfectly with the jam filling. You can pop them like candy since they're the perfect size!

Martha Stewart's Polish Tea Cookies


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup blanched almonds, finely ground
Extra granulated sugar, for rolling
1 egg white
Jam, for filling


Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolk and vanilla; beat well. Add the flour; beat again.
Chill dough for several hours.
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine almonds with 2 tablespoons sugar. Form dough into small balls and dip in lightly beaten egg white, then in almond-and-sugar mixture. Press center of each ball with your thumb.
Bake for 5 minutes, then remove and push down centers again. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool slightly and fill centers with jam.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Massive Mushroom

This should be vegetarian. The version of it I had at the restaurant was vegetarian, but we had this package of locally sourced ham that was calling our names and keeping us awake at nights, so we thawed it out and I chopped up a piece and added it to this.
That's ham, fresh tomatoes, and a mix of tri-color bell peppers and onion.

While that was cooking, I took the stems out of a couple of portabella caps, filled them with red cooking wine, and broiled them for about 5 minutes. Then I poured the wine out into cooking dishes, flipped the caps, and broiled them a few minutes more. I put them, gills up, into the dishes, divided the veg/ham between them, and topped them with Italian cheese blend (Romano, Parmesan, and Asiago) and sprinkled them with Italian seasoning. I broiled them until the cheese was melted.

We liked the flavor, but the ones at the restaurant had more cheese and less juice.

Still, it's something we'll try again, probably without the ham next time.

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

Southern Honey Glazed Ham

Dark glazed edges and spiral cuts create a masterpiece of succulent flavors as the perfect centerpiece to any fall feast.

Southern Honey Glazed Ham


1 (8-pound) bone-in shank ham
4 cups water, or as needed
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons liquid smoke flavoring
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch ground cloves


Preheat the oven to 275ºF.
Place ham in a roasting pan. Pour in water to a 2-inch depth. Cover with a tight fitting lid.
Bake for 6 to 8 hours in the preheated oven (all day or all night).
Remove from the oven, pour off drippings and reserve.
Skim fat from the top of the drippings, and discard.
In a small bowl, mix one cup of the drippings with honey, brown sugar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce and cloves.
Pour this over the ham, cover and return to the oven.
Remaining drippings may be discarded or reserved for other uses.
Bake for another 30 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven.
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Best #Veggieburger: #Gardenburger

It isn't vegan, so we can't share it with our vegan daughter, but this is our absolute most favoritest veggieburger of them all! Well, it's the best for just eating. Other ones are better for chopping up and using as part of other recipes. But for just cooking and eating? THIS.
This is The Original Gardenburger. This one isn't vegan-friendly, because it has cheese in it. It isn't #4 Daughter's Husband-friendly, because it has mushrooms in it. But us? It's so friendly with us, we're thinking of taking a condo together in Hilton Head.

Srsly, this is one delicious piece of food.

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

Friday, November 4, 2016

Roast Turkey

When roasting a turkey, it is easy to have it come out dry. With this recipe from The Yummy Life, it will be moist and a beautiful shade of crisp auburn which will become the focal point of your celebration dinner.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Golden Cauliflower Scramble #Vegetarian

My husband and I are fairly light eaters, he being a lighter eater than I am. A head of cauliflower can last us three or four meals. So I have to fix it different ways, because cauliflower, after all.

This was was perty dern good, as my grandpa would say.

First, I cut the core out of the head of cauliflower and microwaved the florets, covered, for seven minutes. Then I cut some of the florets up into smaller pieces.

I heated vegan margarine in a skillet, then added some turmeric and the cauliflower. I lightly beat a couple of eggs, poured it over the cauliflower, and stirred until the eggs were set, then stirred in some shredded cheese.

Protein, veg, and lots of flavor!

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

Friday, October 28, 2016

Sweet Potato Casserole With Marshmallow And Pecan Streusel

This twist on a classic dish is guaranteed to satisfy any guest. Check out the recipe from Celebrating Sweets!
Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Pecan Streusel

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Golden Dollars

My husband tells me I use too much oil to fry green tomatoes and breaded squash slices. So he said, "You want me to make 'em tonight?" And I said, "Yes."

He showed me the error of my ways. He used almost no oil, but his fried green tomatoes were as nice as mine. Don't know how he did it.

The squash, on the other hand.... He ran out of flour in the dredging dish and, rather than get more flour, he did without. So we ended up with this.

I'm not saying they were bad. They weren't bad. But they weren't breaded, either. Actually, they tasted quite nice, with the little bit of vegan margarine he cooked them in and the leftover spices from the seasoned salt he used with the fried green tomatoes.

In an attempt to lend them status as A Thing, he presented them with, "Here we go. Golden Dollars!"

I believe I'll make them on purpose some other time. With not much oil/margarine.

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

Friday, October 21, 2016

Pumpkin Pie

Top off your meal with a beautiful pumpkin pie. This pie from American Heritage Cooking not only tastes delicious with a thick dollop of whipped cream, but it makes the home smell like fall.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Carb Enough For Ya?

Yeah, so this happened. I'm not proud of it. I'm not ashamed of it. We had a cold snap, awright?

We got a little butternut squash. I cut it in half and scooped out the seeds, buttered it, salted it, and put it in the toaster oven at 350F for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, I sauteed some mushrooms in vegan margarine, then I added water and cornbread stuffing mix.

It hit the cold spot; it really did.

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

Apple Pie

This American staple is perfectly paired with some crisp, cool vanilla bean ice cream. For a lighter version, try a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Get creative here with the crusts. Use cookie cutters for center cutouts and make this pie a true work of art.

Apple Pie Recipe from 12 Tomatoes

And here's a whipped cream recipe from Add A Pinch that comes out light and fluffy every time. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Looks Like a Kidney Bean. Isn't. Nor Is It A Kidney.

It's a potato. A twice-baked potato, actually.
It doesn't look very pretty, but I don't care. I was pretty pissed with it by this time, so I just took a picture and be damned to it.

I had baked the potatoes the day before, so I got a couple out of the refrigerator, cut them in half, and scooped out the innards. Then, mistakenly believing it would be quick, I put the innards into a Magic Bullet thingy and tried to whirl it up.

It didn't whirl. It whined. I tried three blades and two sizes of containers, and all it did was sit there and grumble. I did more than grumble, I can tell ya. Even when I added some milk and vegan margarine, it wouldn't whirl.

Eventually, I got it somewhat mashy. I added some salt and onion powder and a beaten egg and grated cheese, and spooned the mixture back into the shells. I baked them at 450 for about a half hour for the little 'uns and left the big 'uns in for a bit longer, until they were puffy and browned.

They tasted fine, but I ate with more vengeance than appetite.

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

Homemade Dinner Rolls

A meal isn't complete without some sort of rolls. Celebrations call for fluffy rolls straight from the oven where the butter melts flawlessly. A soft, homemade dinner roll is exactly what your party needs. Try this recipe from What Megan's Making

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kitchenless House

Those of us who love to cook deplore the increasing dependence on fast food and the specter of homes built with vestigial kitchens or even no kitchens at all. 

This is another item for The Department of Nothing New Under the Sun: As soon as civilization permitted, the smell, mess, heat and danger of cooking was distanced from the living quarters. Kitchens -- specialized rooms used only for food preparation -- were partitioned from the rest of the house, or relegated to a lower floor, or banished to lean-tos off the rear wall, or occupied separate buildings. 

Vetruvius, in Book VI of hisTEN BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE, suggested building the farmhouse kitchen on the warmest side of the courtyard and surrounding it with the baths, stables, and oil-pressing rooms. 

In the 1800s, forward thinkers envisioned communities in which all the food preparation was done in centralized locations and householders fetched prepared meals or even had them delivered right to their doors. Sound familiar? 

Marian Allen, Author Lady

Friday, September 30, 2016

Mashed Potatoes

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

This down-home, American staple is perfect for large parties. These rich and creamy mashed potatoes are cost effective and taste delicious. Pair them with any main dish for happy party guests.

Get the recipe for Perfect Mashed Potatoes at Favorite Family Recipes!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Soup

A couple of times a week, Charlie says, "I think I'm just gonna make some of my soup." He seems to think it's the same soup every time, but it isn't. He made it today, and it was meh. He made it last week, and it was WOW!

The Wow Kind

This was cabbage, celery, onions, vegetarian bouillon, salsa, and Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt.

I don't know why this was so much better than today's. He insists it's exactly the same.

But it isn't.

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

Italian Stuffed Shells

Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Who doesn't love cheese and pasta? These stuffed shells are the perfect addition to any meal. We recommend you make your own sauce and keep some for leftovers!

Ricotta Stuffed Shells Recipe from Cooking and Cooking

And here's an Easy Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce recipe from Flavor the Moments!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Happy Ending -- Almost

It's almost the end of the farmers' market season. BOO HOO!!!

It was also almost the end of our supplies, since I've been going to book sales (selling, not buying -- well, not buying much -- well, not too much) on Saturdays, and so haven't done the market.

We had one ear of corn in the shuck, a few potatoes, and a handful of green beans.

I microwaved the ear for 3 minutes, cut off the stalk-end, and shook the ear out of the husk. We split it. No, it wasn't enough, but it was all we had.

I boiled the potatoes along with some fresh chopped parsley from our garden and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and vegan margarine.

The green beans, I tossed in oil and seasoned salt and roasted in the toaster oven at 400 while the potatoes cooked, turning them as they browned.

We also had some salad and buttered toast, so there was a-plenty.

We sure will be sorry to see the growing season wind down.

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

Friday, September 16, 2016

Arkansas Green Beans With Bacon

A true down home, southern cooking dish. These green beans will be gone in seconds! Easy to make for a crowd, this recipe feeds 10. 

Get the recipe from Nancy Creative!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


I couldn't remember the name of this salad, so I had to do an internet search for bread-and-tomato salad. It's Panzanella, just so you know.
It's cucumber, tomato, and stale bread, drizzled with vinaigrette. I wish I had seen The Pioneer Woman's recipe before I made it but, alas, I did not. Because I totally have basil coming out of my ears, and it would have been SO GOOD in this. Oh, also, I didn't have any cucumbers, so, instead of the vinaigrette, I used dill pickles and just drizzled it with olive oil.

It was still pretty good.

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

Friday, September 9, 2016

Pecan Pie

If you want to incorporate some southern food in your holiday menu, you have to have pecan pie set out for dessert. This classic recipe is a delight, and if you use a pre-made crust, baking it is pretty easy.

(Video available at site.)


1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked OR frozen** deep-dish pie crust


Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.
Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes (see tips for doneness, below). Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.

**To use prepared frozen pie crust: Place cookie sheet in oven and preheat oven as directed. Pour filling into frozen crust and bake on preheated cookie sheet.

RECIPE TIPS: Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly - it should spring back when done. For easy clean up, spray pie pan with cooking spray before placing pie crust in pan. If pie crust is overbrowning, cover edges with foil.

NUTRITION TIP: To reduce calories, substitute new Karo® Lite Syrup for the Karo® Light or Dark Corn Syrup.

High Altitude Adjustments: Reduce sugar to 2/3 cup and increase butter to 3 tablespoons. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

VARIATION: coarsely chopped walnuts may be substituted for pecans to make a walnut pie.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

He Wanted Soup #Vegan

We had a cool spell last week, and my husband wanted soup. Sounded good to me, so I made this.

Heated some olive oil and cooked diced Vidalia onions until they were tender; added some chili powder and cumin and stirred that until the spices were toasted. Added canned Southwestern flavor black beans (undrained), peeled and diced fresh tomatoes, fresh corn cut off the cob, water, tomato sauce, and veg bouillon.

I don't know how I neglected to add Meatless Griller Strips fake chicken, which I usually toss in, but I left them out and didn't miss them.

SOOOO good, with the fresh veg!

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

Friday, September 2, 2016

Peach Cobbler

Summertime is a great time to make this classic Southern dessert. Baking a cobbler is fairly simple for beginning bakers. Be sure to serve this delicious peach cobbler with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

(Get more information at link)


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 cups fresh peach slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)


Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).

Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Black Beans & Cornbread #Vegetarian

I was all set to fix supper when Charlie said, "I like black beans and cornbread. Why don't we just have that?"

He so seldom actually asks for a particular food, I naturally agreed.

His was pretty plain, but I gussied mine up a little.

The cornbread is on the bottom. On top is just plain ol' Southwestern seasoned black beans, undrained. Diced fresh tomatoes and the tag end of a head of lettuce on the side, with shredded cheese on top. On mine, I added diced sweet onions gently fried in garlic olive oil and chipotle pepper powder.

Pretty darn good, after all!

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

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Tender, slow-cooked pork mixed with a sweet-and-spicy sauce on a toasted bun is a winning combination. Break out your slow cooker for this delicious Texas-style pulled pork recipe. This would be a great recipe to have on hand when you're coming in from a day at the lake or the first day back to school. Just be sure and have a slow cooker liner on hand for easy cleanup!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eats Shoots -- Yours Truly, Not A Panda

Do you eat shoots? I eat shoots. Some shoots.

Bamboo shoots, for which I do not care, are just what they sound like--shoots of bamboo plants. Fresh bamboo shoots are said to have a mild taste. The milder, the better, as far as I'm concerned. I've had them fresh and I've had them canned, and I like the crunch but not the flavor. 

Bean sprouts, on the other hand, are lovely. I've never met a bean sprout I didn't like. I even have sacks of alfalfa and mung bean seeds in my freezer so I can sprout my own. My only sorrow is that it takes days for sprouts to mature, and when I want them, I want them NOW. Thus do I learn patience. 

I like alfalfa sprouts on sandwiches, but my husband always asks me to "leave the grass off" for him. Water chestnuts, to which I am extremely partial, are nut-like and crunchy.

Linked from Lynn Truss web site.
In case you don't get the reference in the title, EATS, SHOOTS & LEAVES is a  "stickler-tickling punctuation polemic" by Lynn Truss, pictured here. The title demonstrates the importance of correct punctuation, yes? Because that's what a panda does, right? Eats shoots and leaves?

Oh -- and if you want a cheap, legal high sometime, watch Panda! Go Panda! It will Trip. You. Out.

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Chicken Fried Steak

Almost as popular as fried chicken, chicken fried steak is a breaded steak cutlet that's skillet-fried and served with a creamy gravy. Ree Drummond's (The Pioneer Woman) chicken fried steak recipe is easy but more importantly, delicious. I couldn't do it justice here, so do yourself a favor and click on through to the recipe right here. Bonus: A recipe for "King of All the Comfort Foods" mashed potatoes is included on this page.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Favorite Brine of Mine

Southern cooks love to brine pork chops and chicken pieces in buttermilk. Brining means to soak meat in a solution to tenderize and add flavor. Since I do not usually have buttermilk, here's my cheat brine: 4 parts milk or 1/2 and 1/2 1 part white vinegar Put meat in zip-top bag and pour brine over. Seal and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. When ready to prepare meat, pat it dry. Bake, fry, barbecue, etc.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Oxtail-less Soup #Vegan

This started out to be mushroom soup, but, as my grandpappy used to say, "There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip."

I had these old, worn-out mushrooms, see. I buy mushrooms, but I don't always cook them right away. If you don't cover your mushrooms tightly, they dry out, which is better than covering them and letting them get all slimy and manky. A little bit dry, they're still good for cooking.

These turned out to be more than a little bit dry. If they were any drier, they'd have been buried in a pyramid with gold and dead cats and stuff.

ANYWAY, I put them in a pot of water and Not Chick'n vegan bouillon. Well, first. Wait a minnit. Here's a picture:
Here's what-all I ended up putting in this puppy:
  • (VERY) dried mushrooms
  • chopped onions
  • coconut oil
  • smoked paprika
  • turmeric
  • water
  • Not Chick'n cubes
  • diced celery
  • chopped parsely
  • barley
  • red wine
  • tomato paste
  • lemon grass
Yeah, that's WAY more ingredients than I usually work with, but I wasn't working, I was fiddling.

Here's what I did:
Heat the oil and fry the onions and spices gently until the onions are translucent and softened and the spices are fragrant. Add the water, mushrooms, celery, and cubes. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Now, I simmered this stuff for, like, hours, but you don't have do, I guess. Add the rest of the ingredients.

All quantities are to taste. We didn't like the mushrooms; they never did soften up and they were just too damn chewy. You might like them. In fact, you can have ours, 'cause we sure didn't eat them.

But the broth tasted EXACTLY like Oxtail Soup! Which we love, but don't eat anymore! I'm pretty sure the dried mushrooms were vital to the overall flavor, so I may try it again with less desiccated specimens.

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

Friday, August 12, 2016

Fried Chicken

At nearly every church supper and family picnic in the south, you are guaranteed to find a platter of fried chicken. Crispy on the outside and tender on the outside, it's no wonder fried chicken is so popular. If you learn one thing about southern cooking, it's to have a good fried chicken recipe in your repertoire.

Please click this link for the recipe, nutritional information, and video. Just posting the recipe wouldn't do it justice!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

No Actual Bumblebees Were Harmed #Vegan

Well, it depends on how vegan you are, I suppose. Because why? Because this recipe is supposed to have honey in it, and some vegans classify honey as an animal product. But mine didn't have honey in it because I didn't know it was supposed to until later. ~sigh~ A day late and a dollar short, that's me.

ANYWAY, I'm talking about Bumblebee Stew, like we used to get at J. Gumbo's. I thought it was called Bumblebee Stew because it's black and yellow, and I still do, because: Hello? HONEYbees make honey, not BUMBLEbees!

Here's our version, anyway, which IS vegan!
This was: chopped onion browned in olive oil, a can of Southwestern seasoned black beans, corn cut off the cob, a peeled, diced tomato, Jasmine rice, and vegetarian vegetable bouillon. Oh -- and Meatless Griller Strips fake chicken.

If you want a closer copycat recipe, try this one from Nothing if Not Intentional.

You're welcome.

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

Friday, August 5, 2016

Collard Greens

If you're going to serve any vegetable with your southern meal, give collard greens a try. A vitamin-rich leafy green vegetable similar to kale and spinach, collard greens are a delicious side dish. 

(Click on the link above for nutrition information and reviews.)


1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into fourths
3 medium red onions, chopped coarse (about 3 cups)
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
4 pounds collard greens (preferably small leaves), coarse stems and ribs discarded and leaves and thin stems washed well, drained, and chopped coarsely


In a deep heavy kettle cook bacon in 2 batches over moderate heat until crisp and transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but about 3 tablespoons drippings and in drippings remaining in kettle cook onions, stirring occasionally, until browned slightly and softened. Transfer onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

To kettle add broth, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and about half of bacon, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add about half of collards, tossing until wilted slightly, and add remaining collards, tossing until combined. Simmer collards, covered, 30 minutes. Stir in onions and simmer, covered, 30 minutes more, or until collards are very tender.
Serve collards topped with remaining bacon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Kinda Feels Like Stealin'...Kinda Like the Feelin'!

If you have an Aldi store nearby, you know what I mean. Here are some of the items/prices from a recent trip: blueberries/.99 bananas/.58 cucumbers/.29 bag a mini sweet peppers/$1.29 Yes, those prices are correct. I'd have to be a thief to get it for less!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Beans and Shrooms #Vegan

We got some bee-you-tee-ful fresh green beans at the farmers' market. I made sure to grab some wee skeeny ones along with the plump ones.

I separate the skinny ones out and pan-roast them in vegan margarine along with portabella mushroom slices.
A sprinkle of vegan uncheese or, if you're vegetarian, real dairy cheese, would also be nice.

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

Friday, July 29, 2016

Macaroni and Cheese

Considered a classic comfort food, homemade macaroni and cheese won't last long on the dinner table. Rich, creamy, and delicious, baked macaroni and cheese is surprisingly easy to make. After trying this recipe from Trisha Yearwood, you will say goodbye to the boxed stuff.

Please click on the link for the recipe and a video tutorial!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Easy Peasy Mackaneasy Garlic Dill Pickles

I love pickles on sandwiches. For some reason, I like strips of pickles more than I like little round pickles; I think they commercial johnnies call them "sandwich pickles," which makes all kindsa sense to me.

Our #3 Daughter works with a woman who grows cucumbers, and she always sends sacks of cucumbers to us via #3. I make pickles, keep some, and send the rest to #3 and The Cucumber Lady.

This year, I couldn't find my regular recipe, but I found an even easier one in Irma S. Rombauer's The Joy of Cooking (1946 edition). You can find some of her recipes, with wine pairings, here.

You don't even have to brine the cucumbers first in this one; you just cut them however you want to (I cut them into wedges and chunks for #3 and TCL and sliced them longways for me) and pack them in sterile jars along with 1 clove garlic and 1 li'l bunch of dill weed. Irma says to also put in 6 peppercorns and 1 clove, but I'm like, seriously? Just no.

  • 2 quarts vinegar
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 cup coarse salt
Bring it to a boil. Fill the cucumber jars and screw on the lids. Let them cool. I always keep them in the refrigerator. Irma says to wait 5 days before using the pickles, to give them time to "ripen."
Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, July 22, 2016


CornbreadIf a southern table doesn't have biscuits, more than likely a pan of cornbread or a basket of corn muffins will accompany the meal. Cornbread is a bit easier than biscuits for beginning bakers, and this recipe from Betty Crocker has been in circulation for generations.


(Please click on the link for expert tips, nutrition information, and more delicious recipes!)


Cooking spray to grease pan
1/4 cup butter or margarine (1/2 stick)
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 1/4cups yellow, white or blue cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


1 Heat the oven to 400°F. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan or 9-inch round cake pan with the cooking spray.
2 In a 1-quart saucepan, heat the butter over low heat until melted.
3 In a large bowl, beat the melted butter, milk and egg with a fork or wire whisk until well mixed. Add the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt all at once; stir just until the flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Pour batter into the pan; use a rubber spatula to scrape batter from bowl. Spread batter evenly in pan and smooth top of batter.
4 Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer-Lovin' #Vegan

My husband and I aren't vegans, but we eat that way most of the time, especially in the summer. Fresh vegetables are just SO GOOD!

Here's one of our feasts.

We had fresh cucumbers sliced in rounds and dressed with Zesty Italian Dressing. The dark greens are kale boiled with onions. The yellow-y things are summer squash sliced lengthways and thin, breaded and fried in vegan margarine until brown and crispy.


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

Friday, July 15, 2016

Buttermilk Biscuits

It doesn't matter where you're from, thinking about southern cooking can automatically make the mouth start watering. Known for being rich, filling, and delicious, there's a reason traditional southern foods are synonymous with "comfort foods."

Since my latest series focuses on southern cooking, I'll be sharing some of those tried-and-true recipes with you in the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy them.

(Below is the basic recipe. Please click on the link above to go to the site where you can find variations such as pimiento cheese biscuits, feta-oregano biscuits, black pepper and bacon biscuits, and cinnamon raisin biscuits.)


1/2 cup cold butter
2 1/4 cups self-rising soft-wheat flour
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Self-rising soft-wheat flour
2 tablespoons melted butter


1. Cut butter with a sharp knife or pastry blender into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle butter slices over flour in a large bowl. Toss butter with flour. Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas. Cover and chill 10 minutes. Add buttermilk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 3 or 4 times, gradually adding additional flour as needed. With floured hands, press or pat dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches). Sprinkle top of dough with additional flour. Fold dough over onto itself in 3 sections, starting with 1 short end. (Fold dough rectangle as if folding a letter-size piece of paper.) Repeat entire process 2 more times, beginning with pressing into a 3/4-inch-thick dough rectangle (about 9 x 5 inches).
3. Press or pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with a 2-inch round cutter, and place, side by side, on a parchment paper-lined or lightly greased jelly-roll pan. (Dough rounds should touch.)
4. Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven; brush with 2 Tbsp. melted butter.
Note: For testing purposes only, we used White Lily Self-Rising Soft Wheat Flour.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Why Buy the Chicken When you can Dress Like a Cow and Get it for Free?

Yesterday, Chick-fil-A had their annual Cow Appreciation Day. Adults wearing any cow attire received free entrees. Children dressed in cow costumes received free meals. Such a fun promotion! May have to get in on it next year.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Chard Fry #Vegan

Some farmers' market slicker talked me into buying a mess of chard. And I do mean mess. Yeah, not a fan.

But I had a butt-load of it, so I had to use it a couple of times before I could rationalize shoving it to the back of the refrigerator and pretending I forgot about it until it was too far gone to even open the bag.

So I made this:
That's a stir-fry with chopped red-stemmed chard, snow peas, onions, leftover rice, and cashews. That stuff on the side is boiled and buttered (well, vegan margarined) cabbage. Not bad, actually. If somebody curses you with a bag of chard, you might try it.

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

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Very Simple Chocolate Cake


adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen’s The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’

This is a simple cake, a weeknight cake. Something that you could throw together in a fit of chocolate desire after dinner.


6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup (145 grams) firmly packed dark or light brown sugar

2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons strong coffee (or 2 tablespoons water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup (170g) sour cream

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt


2 ounces (55 grams) unsweetened (or bittersweet) chocolate, melted and cooled

1 1/2 cups (180 grams) powdered sugar

1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoons milk, plus more if necessary

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

fat pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper and exposed pan.

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and coffee then add in the sour cream.

Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined, then use a spatula to spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until puffy and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.

Set the cake on a rack to cool. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.

Add all of the frosting ingredients to a large bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy, add a bit more milk if necessary. Alternately, Deb makes the frosting in a food processor.

Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled cake and decorate with a ton of sprinkles. Enjoy immediately! This cake keeps for a couple of days, covered at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Delicious Dessert Just Happens To Be #Vegetarian

I'll tell you a secret. You know what's vegetarian? ALMOST EVERYTHING.

Okay, now that I've got that off my chest, looka this beautiful and -- If I'm lyin' I'm dyin' -- delicious dessert Charlie and I had the other night.

That's cottage cheese and farmers' market blueberries drizzled with local honey.

Okay, I hear you going all, "Ewww! Cottage cheese????" That's enough of that. Cottage cheese is GREAT with fruit! It's also really really good with salt and pepper, by the way.

Try this, or some variation of this, and let me know what you think.

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

Friday, July 1, 2016

Grilled Cheese Rollups

This seems easy enough! And they could easily be taken to those July 4 cookouts as a little extra something. :)

So much easier/tastier than traditional grilled cheese! 3 ingredients is all you need for this epic cheesiness!


  • 8 slices white bread*, crusts trimmed
  • 8 slices Wisconsin cheddar cheese*
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter


  1. Using a rolling pin, flatten bread squares to 1/4-inch thickness.
  2. Place cheese slice on top of each slice of bread, rolling up tightly.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, add roll ups to the skillet, cooking until all sides are golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 3-4 minutes, adding more butter as needed.
  4. Serve immediately.
*Whole wheat or whole grain bread can be substituted.
*Different types of cheeses of your choice can also be used here (ex. Monterey Jack, pepper jack, Swiss, provolone, mozzarella, etc.).