Friday, November 30, 2018

Best Mac and Cheese

There's nothing like Southern Cooking when it comes to Mac and Cheese. Enjoy the rich flavor offered by this recipe of a childhood favorite.


4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
¾ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
¼ ounce Parmesan, finely grated (about ¼ cup)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more
8 ounces cavatappi or other short curly pasta
2 ½ cups whole milk
½ small onion, grated
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
4 ounces Gruyère, grated (about 1 cup)
4 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated (about 1 cup)
½ teaspoon English mustard powder (such as Colman’s)
Pinch of cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook, stirring, until crumbs are golden brown, 6–8 minutes (make sure to get them toasty brown; they won’t darken much during baking). Transfer to a small bowl and toss with Parmesan, thyme leaves, and ¼ tsp. salt.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (the noodles will continue to cook in the cheese sauce, so take them out a minute or two before you think they’re actually done). Drain pasta; let cool while you make the sauce.

Bring milk to a bare simmer in a small saucepan; keep warm. Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onions are fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to stick to bottom of saucepan, about 1 minute. Add warm milk in a few additions, whisking to combine after each addition.

Bring béchamel sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until sauce is thickened and doesn’t feel grainy when a little bit is rubbed between your fingers, 6–8 minutes (cooking the flour thoroughly at this stage ensures a creamy sauce). Add Fontina, Gruyère, cheddar, mustard powder, cayenne, and ¾ tsp. salt and stir until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and mix in pasta; transfer to a 2-qt. baking dish.

Bake 10 minutes. Top with Parmesan breadcrumbs and bake until sauce is bubbling around the edges, 8–10 minutes longer. Let cool in pan 15 minutes before serving.

* See mouth-watering photos and get all the details at Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Quick and Easy Supper, Naturally #Vegetarian Could Be #Vegan

Sometimes, you just want something quick and easy. Like, always, unless somebody else makes it.

So the other night we had this:

While the water comes to a boil and the spaghetti cooks, mix up some garlic cheese biscuits (don't know if there's a vegan version) from a packet, roll them into breadstick shape, and bake. ALSO, in a little olive oil, fry some mushrooms and onions. Add tomato sauce and Italian seasonings. When it's all drained and assembled, top with shredded or grated cheese or cheese substitute. Or, you know, don't.

I'm posting another Italian-y dish today on my blog.

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

Friday, November 23, 2018

Apple Cider Doughnuts

No Fall is complete without apple cider doughnuts. You can bring in the holiday right to your own home with this easy recipe.


2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
3 cups apple cider
½ cup apple butter
½ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil (for frying; about 4 cups)

Special Equipment

A 3¼-inch-diameter cutter, 1¼-inch-diameter cutter, deep-fry thermometer


Bring cinnamon sticks and apple cider to a boil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until liquid is thick, syrupy, and reduced to about ⅓ cup, 20–30 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl and whisk in apple butter, buttermilk, and vanilla until incorporated; set aside.

Whisk baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, 3½ cups flour, and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and ¼ cup granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 2 additions, alternating with cider mixture in 2 additions, starting with dry ingredients and ending with cider mixture (dough will be very soft and sticky).

Scrape dough onto a parchment lined-rimmed baking sheet thoroughly dusted with flour (about ⅓ cup). Dust hands and top of dough with more flour, then gently pat dough to ¾" thick. Dust with more flour and tightly cover with plastic wrap; chill dough at least 3 hours.

Whisk remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 Tbsp. cinnamon in a small bowl until no lumps remain.

Working on baking sheet, punch out as many rounds as you can with 3¼" cutter, then use 1¼" cutter to punch out center of each round. Gather doughnut scraps, reserving holes, and gently re-roll without overworking dough; repeat until all dough has been used (you should have 18 doughnuts).

Set a wire rack inside a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Fit a large pot with deep-fry thermometer and pour in oil to a depth of 3". Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 350°. Working in batches, fry doughnuts until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to prepared rack and let cool slightly. Fry doughnut holes until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to prepared rack and let cool slightly. Toss warm doughnuts and doughnut holes in cinnamon sugar.

Do Ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.

*See full details and mouth-watering photos at Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Don't Throw Away Those Seeds! #Snacks #Vegan

Oh, you already threw away the seeds you scooped out of your Halloween pumpkin. Probably a good idea, at this late date.

HOWEVER, maybe you're planning to make a punkin ... I mean pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. If so, DON'T THROW AWAY THOSE SEEDS.


This is a favorite treat around here.  We were delighted to find that it works equally well with seeds from acorn or butternut squash.  The procedure is the same. 
  • Gunk dug out of the middle of a pumpkin or an acorn squash
  • Butter or margarine (melted) or oil
  • Seasoning (salt and pepper, seasoned salt, herbs)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Work all the seeds free of strings and pulpy bits, but DO NOT WASH OFF THE JUICES.  Mix seeds with just enough butter, margarine or oil to coat.  Add seasonings and stir to coat.  We use vegan margarine and JANE'S CRAZY MIXED-UP SALT, but Mrs. Dash or garlic olive oil and Italian seasoning would also be good.  I guess you could use butter and cinnamon sugar, if you wanted them sweet, or corn oil and chili powder if you wanted them spicy.  Spread in a single layer on a baking pan and bake at 350 F for half an hour to an hour, stirring occasionally, until they're as toasty brown as you like.

I'm posting today at my blog about a different kind of pumpin "pie".

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

Friday, November 16, 2018

Shrimp and Noodle Soup

If you feel a little run down, bolster yourself with this warming shrimp and noodle soup recipe.



6 whole cloves
6 green cardamom pods
4 star anise pods
3 dried chiles de árbol
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 bunch cilantro
3 medium shallots, halved through root ends
5 garlic cloves, smashed
2 6-inch pieces lemongrass, tough outer layer removed, lightly smashed
1 4-inch piece ginger, peeled, sliced ½-inch thick
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper


½ cup cashews
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 Fresno chile, chopped
1 3-inch piece lemongrass, tough outer layer removed, finely chopped
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon shrimp paste with bean oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


4 12-ounce packages ramen noodles
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 ounces mung bean sprouts
4 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
Fresh tender herbs (such as Thai basil, cilantro, and/or mint)
Freshly ground black pepper
Chili oil and lime wedges (for serving)

*Get more details and reviews at Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Writers Retreat Chicken Stew #InstantPot

Our #4 Daughter, the amazing Sara Marian, came to the writers retreat the Southern Indiana Writers Group is having. She brought ingredients and I brought the Instant Pot, and she made this.
This is chicken thighs, bite-size potatoes, and carrot sticks. She seasoned it with salt, Penzeys Sunny Paris Seasoning, shallots, a touch of sherry, and pesto.

It was most delicious! She cooked it on the slow-cooker setting for four hours, but then we had to pressure-cook it for another half an hour because the carrots were still crunchy.

Mmm-mmm, we're eatin' GOOD at this retreat. Getting a lot of writing done, too.

I'm posting on my blog today about a beef stew I made for the gang, also in the Instant Pot.

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

Friday, November 9, 2018

One-Pot Baked Pasta

Whether it's Thanksgiving or Christmas, parties just won't be the same without this easy baked pasta recipe that includes delicious sausage and invigorating broccoli rabe.


Kosher salt
12 ounces Fontina and/or aged cheddar cheese

6 garlic cloves

2 large sprigs sage

1 bunch of broccoli rabe

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups half-and-half

1 pound ridged medium pasta shells, or large tube pasta, such as lumaconi or rigatoni


1. Place racks in center and upper third of oven; preheat to 325°. Heat a large pot of water over high. Add several tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil (this is for your pasta).

2. Grate 12 oz. Fontina cheese on the large holds of a box grater (you should have about 4½ cups). Smash 6 garlic cloves, peel, and coarsely chop. Pick all sage leaves from stems and set aside about 10. Finely chop remaining leaves (you should have about 1 Tbsp.). Trim tough dried ends from 1 bunch of broccoli rabe, then cut stems into 2" pieces. Leave leafy ends long.

3. Heat a deep, large, ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high. Add ¼ cup oil and swirl to coat. Remove 1 lb. sausage from casings and add to skillet. Break into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, undisturbed, until sausage is browned, about 4 minutes. Stir a couple of times and continue to cook, undisturbed again, until sausage is fully cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

4. Add garlic, chopped sage, and ½ tsp. red pepper and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. 
5. Stir in 2 cups half-and-half and simmer until sauce is thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. 
6. Gradually add about two-thirds of cheese, bit by bit, stirring constantly and letting cheese melt completely before adding more, until sauce is smooth and thick, about 3 minutes; season with salt and remove from heat. 
7. Meanwhile, cook 1 lb. pasta shells in boiling salted water 2 minutes shy of package instructions (8–10 minutes depending on type). During the last 2 minutes, add all of broccoli rabe to pot with pasta. Drain in a colander and shake several times to remove excess water. Return pasta and broccoli rabe to empty pasta pot. 
8. Add cheesy sausage mixture from skillet to pot with pasta. Stir until pasta and broccoli rabe are coated in sauce, then transfer everything back to skillet. 
9. Cover skillet tightly with foil and bake on center rack until pasta is tender and sauce is bubbling, 30–40 minutes. Let rest a few minutes while you heat broiler. 
10. Remove foil and top with remaining cheese. Toss sage leaves with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl and arrange over pasta. Broil until cheese is browned and bubbling in spots, about 5 minutes (depending on strength of broiler). 
11. Let pasta cool a minute or two before serving. 

Recipe by Claire Saffitz

*For step-by-step instructions with photographs, please visit Bon Appetit

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Leftover Stir-fry #food

I don't throw much away. If there's a tad bit of something we can't finish, I generally use it up the next day in soup or a casserole or a stir-fry. These guys ended up in a stir-fry.
Got some rice there, got some summer squash, got some fresh green beans and some mushrooms. Fried those babies in a splash of sesame oil and put some butter onna top. My, my.

I'm posting today on my own blog about a pescatarian feast we had.

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

Friday, November 2, 2018

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

For those who love sweet potatoes but want them with a little kick. This twice-roasted sweet potato is perfect for all celebrations.

3 medium sweet potatoes or garnet yams, scrubbed (about 3 pounds)
1 Fresno or other red chiles, thinly sliced
¼ cup honey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350°. Poke holes all over sweet potatoes and wrap each in foil. Place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast until potatoes are tender, 60–70 minutes (if you have one, use a cake tester to poke right through foil). Unwrap and let sit until cool enough to handle. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Meanwhile, combine chile, honey, and butter in a small saucepan; season with salt. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

Smash sweet potatoes with your palm, then tear into bite-sized pieces (including skin), the more irregular, the better. Place in a large bowl and add half of hot honey (do not include chile as it will burn); season with salt. Arrange pieces, skin side down, in a single layer on an unlined rimmed baking sheet and roast until browned and crisp around the edges, 20–25 minutes. Drizzle with remaining hot honey with chile.

* To see photographs and nutritional information, please visit Bon Appetit