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.).