Friday, June 29, 2012

Amish Oven Fried Chicken

Lest you think my recent trip to Pennsylvania made me dessert crazy (a thought you'd be justified in having), here is a main dish recipe.

Amish Oven Fried Chicken

1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. dried marjoram
9 pieces chicken

Place oil and butter in a shallow cooking pan and place in 375 degree oven to melt butter, set aside. In a large paper sack combine dry ingredients. Roll the chicken pieces 3 at a time in butter and oil then drop into a sack and shake to cover. Place on a plate until all pieces are coated. Leave any excess butter and oil in pan. Place chicken in the pan skin side down or its just as good if you remove all the skin first. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes with spatula, turn chicken pieces over and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until crust begins to bubble.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Take a Week Off!

This is the week for Vacation Bible School at my church. Besides working with a fun group of kids, one of the greatest perks for Bible School volunteers is that nightly meals are provided for us and our kids. So, for six nights, I am not cooking dinner! As much as I love to cook, it has been awfully nice to be out of the kitchen on these hot days. Besides the time I normally spend preparing meals, I am amazed how much time it has saved in clean-up and grocery shopping. Best of all, I think I will really look forward to cooking dinners again next week. My suggestion to all of the family cooks out there is to give yourself a week off. Stock up on sandwich and salad stuff, pull out those frozen meals and go to your favorite restaurants. It may be a week of bliss for you busy home cooks!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beets Fit To Eat

I've been a beet hater all my life. I can smell a beet cooking the minute I walk into a house, and I'm like, "PEE-YUUU!" Well, you know my motto: To hell with anything unrefined.

HOWEVER, THE POINT IS, I've changed my tune. We bought a share in a farm's produce this year, and it produced some beets. I was like, "Waste 'em ... Eat 'em ... Waste 'em ... Eat 'em ..." And I decided to eat 'em.

Although they take an unGODly amount of time to cook (45-60 minutes for a little bitty beet), fresh beets are totally worth it!

Even the "fresh" ones you buy in the supermarket smell and taste like dirt to me. The fresh ones are almost sweet.

This picture accompanying the post is of a supper we had the other night: two pale kinds of beets boiled and buttered, crisp-fried marinated tofu, and breaded and fried yellow squash.

What's your favorite recipe for beets?

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eating at the Renaissance Festival - Huzzah!


I'm talking about eating at a Renaissance Festival or Faire. Our new Renaissance Faire mystery will be out September 4, so that means visiting some faires. YAY!

It's easy to get swept away whilst visiting. There is so much to see and do. Singers, comedy acts, jugglers are all out and walking amongst us. They aren't confined to certain areas.

Sometimes sitting down and eating can be difficult. Either you're too excited or there aren't enough places to sit. It's difficult to take a blanket with you to spread for a picnic and expect to traverse the length and breadth of most festivals!

Might I suggest travel food? Most Renaissance festivals don't allow visitors to bring their own food, but you can purchase food that you can eat while you walk.

Suggestions would include roasted turkey legs, roasted corn (on a stick, of course) and bread bowls. Bread bowls, for those who do know knoweth, are filled with either sweet or savory foods and then you can eat the bread!

Some faires may have pie makers with small pies that can be eaten while you perambulate the grounds. Many have sweet makers, candy and fudge, but eat protein too. You'll need to keep your strength up for the joust!

And speaking of the joust, this is no place for food! With all the huzzahs and cheering, it's easy to spill drinks and food on others. Sometimes you might wish to empty drinks or throw food at the black knights or other evil doers, but refrain, gentle soul!

They have swords and lances!

Joyce Lavene

Renaissance Faire Mystery # 5
Treacherous Toys
Available for Preorder now!
In stores September 4
Twitter: @author54

Friday, June 22, 2012

Easy Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie

I'm still in a Hershey frame of mind. All those goodies in the display cases at Chocolate World and Hershey Park have got me thinking about desserts this month!

I've found another one for you at Hershey Kitchens. This one is an easy chocolate coconut cream pie. If you like Mounds, this just might be the pie for you. :-P

Easy Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie
(Scroll down, mouse over the photo, and click "View Recipe")


1 unbaked (9-inch) pie crust
1 package (4-serving size) vanilla cook & serve pudding and pie filling mix*
1/2 cup sugar
1-3/4 cups milk
1 cup MOUNDS Sweetened Coconut Flakes
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed


Bake pie crust; cool completely.
Stir together dry pudding mix, sugar and cocoa in large microwave-safe bowl. Gradually add milk, stirring with whisk until blended.
Microwave at HIGH (100%) 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, with whisk, until mixture boils and is thickened and smooth. If necessary, microwave an additional 1 minute; stir.
Cool 5 minutes in bowl; stir in coconut. Pour into baked pie crust. Carefully press plastic wrap directly onto pie filling. Cool; refrigerate 6 hours or until firm. Top with whipped topping. Garnish as desired. 8 servings.
* Do not use instant pudding mix.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Ricco Plan

I am shameless when it comes to posting photos of my pets and kids. So, I have to talk about Ricco, our new bearded dragon.

To make this Fatal Foodies relevant, I want to discuss Ricco's diet. The new food that has come into our home is live baby crickets. Ricco eats several crickets each day in order to get enough protein. Because a growing lizard needs calcium, we feed calcium powder to the crickets.
Vegetables and fruit make of the rest of Ricco's diet. I love that he likes thing I already buy in the produce department. So far, bell peppers, kale, spinach and diced apple are some of his favorites.
Ricco will likely grow to be about 2 feet long. At that point, he will eat about 80% vegetables and 20% protein.
In my efforts to feed the family more fruits and vegetables, I want to do the same 80/20 ratio. I call it the Rico Plan, but we will not be eating crickets!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Puppodums - Not a Character on Sesame Street

I love love love the discount grocery in our town. You never know what will be there from one visit to the next, which is sad when you've found something lovely and it isn't there when you go again. On the other hand, it's great when you find something lovely!

Since I think Indian food is the best food ever, I'm always scoping for something mild enough that Charlie will eat it. Puppodums or poppadoms or papadums or any way you spell them fit that bill.

They're ultra-crunchy flatbread made from lentil or chickpea flour. As I say, I bought these at the knock-off grocery. They're made by the delightfully named TigerTiger Food.

Ah, but now -- now -- I've found a recipe for making my own puppodums, and I just happen to have a honkin' big bag of chickpea flour I got from Rainbow Blossom.

Imma be making these babies quite a bit, I think, especially since the recipe is just the kind I like: no real measurements; basically take some of this and enough of that to be like so and then cook it long enough.

Happiness is a warm puppodum. :)

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, June 18, 2012

Easy Kidney Bean Salad by Joyce Lavene

Kidney Bean Salad - Yum!

This isn't a typical summer salad. It doesn't have your usual summer foods in it. But it's quick and easy to make. It travels well for picnics and parties and there is absolutely no cooking involved. Always a plus!

It's probably good for you too, but I don't want to get into that.

I'm posting this today because it is one of my husband's favorite dishes (Happy Father's Day, Jim). His mother made this for him when he was a kid. She was a great cook - in a way that I will never be - because she took long hours putting everything together just so.

That's not me!

But if you're looking for something cool and easy that doesn't have to be cooked - kidney bean salad could be for you!


1 can kidney beans - drained
2 cups of chopped cabbage - as you would for coleslaw
1/2 cup vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Making it:

Add the cabbage to the kidney beans and mix thoroughly. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper and mix again.


Joyce Lavene 
Twitter: @author54
Look for Treacherous Toys
Book 5 in the Renaissance Faire Mysteries
September 4
Preorder Now!

Friday, June 15, 2012

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

These cupcakes were in the display case at Chocolate World in Hershey. They were for sale, but we had a lot of ground to cover, so I did not indulge. But do you see those tan ones on the bottom row right there in the middle? They were white chocolate peanut butter cupcakes, each had a white chocolate Reese's cup on top, and they sang their siren song to me. I'm still hearing it! So, I came home and looked for a comparable recipe.

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes


1 18.25oz French Vanilla Cake Mix
1/3 Cup Oil
1 1/3 Cup Water
2/3 Cup Chunky/Crunchy Peanut Butter
3 Large Eggs
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/3 Cup Ghirardelli’s Ground White Chocolate (Powder)
24 Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Minis

16 oz liquid Pastry Pride or Rich’s Bettercreme
Ghirardelli’s Ground White Chocolate
1 tsp Chocolate flavoring
12 Reeses White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (Regular size)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees w/rack in middle of oven.
Mix together all ingredients on low for 30 seconds. Scrape bowl down. Mix at medium for 2 minutes. Line cupcake pan with 24 paper liners. Fill each cupcake 1/4 of the way full. Place a mini Reeses PB cup in each cupcake ensuring you do not push it all the way down to the bottom. Fill remaining cupcake so that it is 2/3-3/4 of the way full and the PB cup is covered completely. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top springs/bounces back when touched…should be a light golden color. Remove and place pan on cooling rack for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, take each cupcake out and let cool.

For the icing, I used 1lb of liquid Pastry Pride. Make sure it is completely thawed. Put it in your mixer and mix at medium speed until it starts to form medium size peaks. I cannot tell you how much white chocolate i used as I just poured it in and tasted as I went. You can add as little or as much as you want. I also added 1 tsp of chocolate flavoring…enough to add a tiny bit of flavor, but not so much to change the color.

I piped the frosting onto the cupcakes and cut each White Choc Reese’s PB Cup in half and place it on top the frosting, PB side down and ridged edge facing top. You can also use White Chocolate Ganache/Buttercream. Do not need to refrigerate.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Books for Dad

If you are still trying to find a Father's Day gift, might I suggest a good book. I actually purchased two copies of The Feuding Hatfields and McCoys.
My husband and I were obsessed with the Hatfields and McCoys mini-series that aired on the History Channel.Watching it made us want to learn more about these feuding families. 
My dad did not get to watch the mini-series, but has a keen interest in these famillies. When I was younger, we lived in the Tug Valley. That is the area in West Virginia and Kentucky where all of the feuding took place.     
      Other books that might be popular with dads: crime novels, military history, biographies of sports figures or music legends, grilling cookbooks, humorous reading
If you pick according to his interest, and put a nice little note in the front of the book; Dad is sure to love it!    

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Locavore YES!

The subtitle of this post is: supermegaultralisticlocavoridocious.

That means we grew this stuff ourselves, picked it, carried it in, washed it, cooked it, and ate it, bada-bing bada-boom.

It just doesn't get any fresher than that.

This particular dish is chard, green onions and sugar snap peas.

And very good it was, too.

I stir-fried it all in garlic-infused olive oil and sprinkled it with a little salt.

Oh, you want a little Fatal with your Foodie? Use rhubarb leaves instead of chard. Happy now?

Today, we had some exotic beets: they came all the way from the farmers' market. :)

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, June 11, 2012

Time To Try Something A Little Different! By Joyce Lavene

Something a little different

Have you ever eaten a day lily?

That's right - those orange and yellow lilies that grow in your yard.

The buds aren't only edible, they're quite good in stir fry or battered and deep fried. They are kind of like a pea pod in flavor, very light and crispy when fresh. You have to pick the pods when you first see them ready to get the full flavor. You can also eat the flowers.

I can't tell much difference between the yellow variety and the orange. The pods kind of pop when you bite into them and the flavor bursts into your mouth.

There are many kinds of flowers that are edible including violets, roses and nasturtium. Each has its own flavor. People have eaten these for centuries, or longer, when there was no vast array of fresh fruits and vegetables at the nearby store.

I suggest you try your own day lily pods or at least ask your neighbor before borrowing some. Also - never go out into the wild and start munching, unless you know what you're doing. There are many plants out there that might look like others you've eaten, but they can be a poisonous variety.

Our forensic botanist, Peggy Lee, from the Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries knows a lot about such things. She also knows a lot about other botanical poisons that she doesn't let bad guys get away with in her stories!

To eat day lily pods:

Just pick a few and add to a stir fry with other vegetables. Saute lightly and you're done.

For flowers or pods:

You can make a batter of 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup water, milk or beer (if you're feeling adventurous). Add salt and pepper or other spices to taste. Mix these together. Have a deep fry getting hot as you do. Put the flowers or pods into the batter until they are coated then drop into the hot oil. When the batter is a light brown, they are done. Excellent at a party where you can surprise guests by telling them what they've just eaten!

The Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries
By Joyce and Jim Lavene
Twitter @ author54

Friday, June 8, 2012

Amish Shoo Fly Pie

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Lancaster, PA's Amish country. While there, I had the privilege of tasting shoo fly pie for the first time. It was so good!

I was able to find this recipe, so you can try it yourself (the recipe makes two--one to keep and one to share):

Amish Shoo Fly Pie

2 c. flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. margarine
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon

1 c. molasses
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c. hot water
1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in the hot water
2 unbaked 8" pie crusts

Mix crumb ingredients together until crumbs are formed. In separate bowl, mix syrup ingredients together. Pour 1/2 of syrup into each pie shell, then top each with crumbs, using 1/2 on each. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 50 more minutes. Cool completely before cutting.
Additional Information
This recipe makes 2 pies. Simply cut everything in half for just one.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer Festival Survival Kit

For many authors, the summer months provide book-selling opportunities in the form of festivals. I do not do many festivals simply because my family's schedule does not spare me many weekends. This coming Saturday is one of those rare times when I will be doing a day-long festival called Boones Creek Day.

From my experiences with summer festivals, I have come up with a list of essentials that I pack for these days:
1) Table decor-I keep it simple (tan cloth, rack for books, 1 or 2 decorative items)
2) Freebie- If there is something free to grab from the table, people will come up to it. Freebies include things like: candy, bookmarks, notecards with book summaries, recipes inspired by books
3) Business cards-Some people will order books from online store or website after they go home.Also, I sometimes am contacted for public speaking engagements by people I meet at festivals.
4) Supply of pens-You never know when one will run out of ink!
5) Notebook or legal pad- I often receive information at these festivals that needs to be written down.I also keep a tally of books sold.
6) Change-A given, but a it's a big deal if you forget it!
7) Receipts-Most people won't want a receipt, but some might.
8) Things to keep me comfortable-jacket or sweater, bug spray, sunscreen, water, snacks
9) Caffeine- My 3:00 coffee is sometimes nowhere to be found at a hot, summer event. I pack a Diet Coke in case I have to ward off an afternoon energy lag.
10)  Plastic bags or large plastic table cloths-Rainstorms like to hit outdoor events. I have had to make mad dashes to my car with books in tow. Covering books with plastc was the only thing that saved them from becoming a soggy mess.          

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Corner Cafe - Yes and No

I'm pleased to be one of the contributors to an anthology called THE CORNER CAFE. Each story had to mention those words, at least, which is the way I played it.

See, as soon as the word "cafe" was used, I knew Bud Blossom had to be in my story. Bud is a persistent character of mine who owns a houseboat restaurant on Cherokee Creek, a tributary of my invention in a small Indiana town also of my invention.

The Golden Lotus isn't a corner cafe, and Bud isn't your average restaurateur, assuming there is such a thing. Bud is apparently of Chinese extraction, but speaks English as if he had never lived anywhere but southern Indiana. His restaurant serves fried won-ton and hush puppies, chow mein and bean soup. "The Catfish Enchantment" takes place before any of my other Bud Blossom stories, so you don't need to have read them to enjoy it. You know, assuming that you do enjoy it.

I love it that this group of authors, of very different styles and lengths of experience with short fiction, took this common concept of a local eatery and went off in so many directions with it, and yet ended up with a very cohesive anthology. As the blurb says: Sweet, dreamy, steamy, sometimes slightly seamy, a multi-genre short story collection for every taste. And it only costs 99 cents!

We're having a Blog Book Tour. Today's stop is at Bob Sanchez' place: Bob Sanchez. Pop in and see what's cookin'!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, June 4, 2012

Peachy Cobbler - an early summer favorite

You might as well say it's summer here in North Carolina. The calendar may say it's not for a couple more weeks, but the days are humid now and the temps are soaring. Tomatoes and peppers are just starting to come in. The peaches on my tree won't be ready for another month. But our good neighbor, South Carolina, has peaches in abundance this year thanks to a mild winter.

Sweet and juicy - there is nothing like eating a fresh peach with the juice dripping down your chin and on your fingers. Hey! That's what napkins are for.

Of course, this isn't behavior you'll want to share at summer parties and that's where peach cobbler comes in!

Cobbler is easy to make. It's good warm, with ice cream, and cold. It's easy for even the most novice cook to make. You can use canned peaches too, if you like, but once you try it with fresh ones, you won't want to go back!

Fresh Peach Cobbler Recipe

Two cups of fresh peaches - you can peel them or not - sliced
One cup of sugar (or this is very good with artificial sweeteners too)
One stick of butter (or margarine)


One stick of butter or margarine
One half cup sugar
One cup flour (self rising or add 2 tsp. baking powder)
One cup milk

Putting it together:

Mix sliced peaches with sugar or sweetener in a bowl.

In another bowl, combine the flour, milk, and sugar. When mixed well, slice butter into a baking dish then cover it with the batter mixture. Top that with the sugar and peach combination. Bake in oven at about 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Doesn't that sound good?

Look for more recipes in the back of my Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries and my Renaissance Faire Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime!

Joyce Lavene
Facebook: JoyceandJimLavene
Twitter: @author54

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hershey Park

An entire park dedicated to chocolate?! I'm so there! Actually, as you're reading this, I'm on my way HOME from there. So, visit Hershey Park online, and it'll be like you're right there with me. Also, check out the zoo, which is part of the park, and Chocolate World.

Let's just hope I don't act like Augustus Gloop! (Let's see how many of you recognize that reference.) ;)