Friday, November 30, 2012

Best Websites for Online Food Shopping

Sometimes I hate going grocery shopping. I try to make a marathon trip every two weeks; but I'll invariably need something, stop at the store to get it, and wind up spending way more than I'd intended.

I love shopping online, so I sometimes find some terrific deals on food. One caveat applies: make sure you consider shipping options and delivery times. There's nothing worse than buying hard-to-find low-carb bread only to have it arrive moldy. Of course, if the mix-up wasn't your fault, be sure and document the way the package arrived and the receipt stating that you ordered expedited or special shipping.

Here is a Top Ten Online Grocery Website List from

1) Alice

2) Amazon Grocery

3) My Supermarket

4) Fresh Direct - I couldn't get a link to this site to work. I'm not sure if it was a temporary thing or if the site has gone down permanently. The website stated that there was a limited delivery area in NYC.

5) Net Grocer

6) All SuperStore

7) ShopFoodEx

8) ExpatExpress

9) GoBio!

10) Safeway

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lisa's Book-Mobile is Rolling!

Tis the season to sell books! During the holidays, I offer free delivery within a 25-mile radius of my house. It is so much fun to meet my readers in person. As a bonus, I often wind up selling more books when I deliver to workplaces. Co-workers see me there with books and take advantage of the opportunity to snatch a Christmas gift without fighting the crowds. Since gas prices are high, I piggy-back errands with deliveries. 
So, do you think I could write off a cool, vintage car if I use it for book deliveries? The one pictured would be perfect!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Swimming In Comfort

We've had beautiful weather, but it turned chilly, and I wanted comfort food. Food containing the four major food groups: fat, starch, salt, and chemicals. Nothing better than Tuna Noodle Casserole!

Some snooty-patooties make this with, like, fresh tuna, artisanal pasta, pan-fried fresh mushrooms in bechamel sauce, and so forth, but it really goes like this:

  • cooked spaghetti cut in bits
  • can of cream of mushroom soup
  • onion powder
  • 1/2 can of peas (or whole can, if preferred)
  • crushed saltine crackers
  • cubed Velveeta or other processed cheese-like substance

Mix and heat through until the Velveeta melts.

To my shame, I didn't have any Velveeta, and had to use rat cheese ... er, I believe the proper name for it is Colby, but I was raised to call it rat cheese.

YES, you need the crackers, even though it has spaghetti in it. AND you need the peas. Three starches are always better than one. Besides, the peas let you imagine you're eating something healthy.

Or make it all fancy-schmancy. Just enjoy it, that's all I ask.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sugar free cinnamon rolls - Yum!

Sugar-free Cinnamon rolls! YUM!

Pillsbury used to make an excellent sugar-free cinnamon roll so I never bothered making them myself until this year. For some reason, Pillsbury took theirs off the market. I've made cinnamon rolls plenty of times in the past, but those were with sugar.

It was my turn to host our Christmas Tree Day breakfast. Everyone else was able to have cinnamon rolls WITH sugar. But we have three diabetics in our family, and extended family group. I wanted to make sure there was something for them too.

So my son, Christopher, came over on Friday evening to help me with the project. He's very good with any kind of dough (pizza chef). We started with a regular recipe for cinnamon rolls and proceeded from there.

We dissolved one pack of yeast in one cup hot (not too hot) water then added one cup of flour and let it rise.

During that time, we combined 1 cup of softened butter with four eggs, mixing well with 1/2 cup Sucralose sweetener.  After the yeast and 1 cup of flour had risen for about 30 minutes, we added the two mixtures together. and mixed well. On a floured board, we kneaded the mixture until smooth. We let that rise until doubled in size.

We went and watched a TV show that we'd DVRed until that mixture had risen, but you can do anything you like.

When we came back, we turned the dough out on the floured board again and rolled it into a rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Christopher brushed about 1/2 cup melted butter across the dough. We divided it in half. One half was sprinkled with cinnamon (about 1/2 cup) and about 1/2 cup of Sucralose.

The other half we sprinkled with 1/2 cup Sucralose and about 1/4 cup grated orange zest.

Both these sides were rolled into log shapes and cut into 3/4 to one inch pieces and pushed in place a little on a well-greased pan. The tops were brushed with butter and left to rise overnight in the fridge.

On Saturday morning, before the party, I took the rolls out and baked them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Breads with sweetener instead of sugar take less time to bake.

I bought a can of Pillsbury vanilla frosting that I separated. One half was plain, for the cinnamon rolls, and the other half I added a few teaspoons of orange zest and a 1/2 teaspoon of orange flavoring for the orange danish rolls.

The rolls all came out golden brown and delicious! They were the hit of the party!

You can get a look at Christopher's poetry at:

A Haunting Dream, Book four in the Missing Pieces Mysteries will be out December 4th!

Visit my Facebook page to win a copy of this book and the first three books in the series!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fuel Up for Black Friday Shopping

If you're going to brave the Black Friday crowds today, be sure and eat a good breakfast before you go. If you camp out at your favorite store or mall the night before, bring along plenty of high-protein snacks. Experts warn shoppers to avoid mall food and stick to fruit, nuts, coffee, bottled water and protein bars.

Other Black Friday survival tips include:

  • Get some sleep before hitting the shops.
  • Make a list of your most-wanted items and the stores that have the best deals on those items.
  • Resolve to stick to a pre-determined budget. It's easy to get caught up in the madness and overspend, buying things you don't even want or need.
  • Shop online. Many stores offer their Black Friday deals, and you can score them from the comfort of your own home.
Good luck and happy hunting!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Edible Centerpiece to Gobble Up

Is this not the cutest thing? A melon, pineapple, or pumpkin spiked with grape and cheese kabobs, slices of bell pepper and a pear face serves double-duty for Thanksgiving . It is both the star of the table and a healthy snack of cheese, fruit and vegetables.
I leave my pumpkins out until Thanksgiving, so I am grabbing a pumpkin from my yard to use as a base. Apples or pomegranates would be cute for "baby" turkeys.
One thing I found helpful while making the kabobs; microwave the cheese cubes for 20 seconds to soften. Cold cheese wants to break and crumble.
Here are directions for making your own turkey:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

From The Indians To Your Table

I got this recipe from an old cookbook that claimed to be American Indian recipes. I would tell you the name, but I can't seem to find it at the moment.

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup water

Mix. Put in greased pie plate. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes.

Every time I tell people this, they're like, "No, really, what's the recipe?"

But that's it.

When you first eat it, it's very bland, but awesomely good with soup. Then you realize it's also awesomely good warm with butter. Then it's just plain good.

Have a happy Thanksgiving Day or, if you live in a country that doesn't have such a designated holiday, have a happy thanksgiving day.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, November 19, 2012

Apple Raisin Stuffing for Thanksgiving By Joyce Lavene

Apple Raisin Stuffing

I grew up in a German household and this is the type of dressing we always ate for Thanksgiving. My great-grandmother made it when I was very small. It passed to my grandmother after that. When my mother passed away, I became the stuffing maker.

The recipe has changed during the years. My kids are adults but they still don't like the large pieces of celery and onion my mother always used. I substitute onion powder and celery seed.

When I became a vegetarian, I stopped using turkey broth and substituted a veggie gravy mix. I still add poultry seasoning.

This stuffing smells wonderful when it is baking and holds up very well for leftovers. I even like it cold! I enjoy thinking about helping the women in my family making this down through the years. My daughter helps me now, with her daughter at her side.

I think I need to get some boys in here too!

Into a large bowl, add 1/4 cup chopped onion (or two tablespoons onion powder), one stick of chopped celery ( or one tsp. celery seed), one cup of diced, chopped and peeled apple, 1/2 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup turkey gravy (or 1 package veggie gravy mixed with water as directed). Add 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper (unless you use gravy mix) and 1/4 tsp. sage and poultry seasoning. Last, add three cups of bread, either cubed or pulled into small pieces.

I have seen recipes similar to this that require sauteing. I don't do this. After the mixture is well blended, I put it all into a baking pan and bake for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree over. The apples still have a little snap. I like it that way.

I make a lot more stuffing than this each Thanksgiving because as our family has grown with children and in-laws who gather around our table, so other people have grown to love this stuffing.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Joyce Lavene
A Haunting Dream
December 4th

Friday, November 16, 2012

Make Ahead Thanksgiving Dishes

We're all so busy this time of year, and it seems every bit of spare time is snatched up by some emergency, event or even exhaustion. (How'd you like that last bit of alliteration?!) So, I've dug up some links to Thanksgiving dishes you can make ahead of time. Trust me, I won't tell a soul you didn't stay up until the wee hours slaving over a hot stove.

Good Housekeeping Make Ahead Dishes

Real Simple 24 Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Martha Stewart's Everything Thanksgiving Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Eating Well Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Fine Cooking's A Mostly Make-Ahead Thanksgiving

I hope some of these recipes will make your meal planning a little easier.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Me on Daytime TV

Yesterday morning, I had the pleasure of appearing on Daytime Tri-Cities. This show is fun, informative, and very friendly to local authors. Here's the link to my interview:

Here is another link from the show that features a great idea for holiday entertaining. It shows how to do indoor s'mores, covered in a variety of toppings. I have to tell you, the studio smelled heavenly with all the melting chocolate!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Charlie's Squash

Charlie has been cooking more lately, and he's quite good at it. He discounts what he does, but I don't!

The other evening, I came in from some place or another, and he had dinner on the table. The main dish was this wonderful squash.

Our #2 grandson was over, so Charlie cut an acorn squash into thirds. He filled the cavities with vegan margarine and split a tomato into thirds and added them. Then he put it into the microwave. He says he put it on "beverage" about four times. That would make it about six minutes, pausing every minute-and-a-half (you can make it every minute). He said it cooks better that way than if you just do the whole time all the way through.

Let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS! Go, Charlie, go!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, November 9, 2012

Leftover Halloween Candy

Do you have any leftover Halloween candy? Here are some suggestions on what to do with it:

The Daily Meal - What to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

Wisebread's 10 Things to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

Boston Daily's What To Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

20 Uses for Leftover Halloween Candy

I generally put any leftover (and clearance) Halloween candy in my children's lunches until Christmas break rather than use it to flavor vodka or make brownies. What do you do with yours?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Congratulations to.....

The winner of my drawing for a free, signed copy of BURTON THE SNEEZING COW is....drum roll please......Lisa R! Congratulations Lisa R.

Lisa was randomly chosen from the folks who comented on Gayle's Halloween post. I appreciate all of the other comments. I hope it is fortelling of the enthusiasm people will have for my new children's book.

If you did not win, but would like to order your own signed copy, I am offering a special deal for Fatal Foodies. You can order copies for $9.00 each. Shipping is $1.50 per book. I will sign books in the favorite color of the intended recipient.

Let me know if you would like a copy with a comment on this post or an email to:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Painless Piercing

My friend Jane and I meet every four weeks or so for lunch in Louisville, Kentucky. One of our favorite places to go is The Irish Rover, where we can get fish and chips or a cheese plate or Guinness beef stew in a bread bowl or bangers and mash.

The fact that we can also get a vast choice of excellent beers, stouts, and ales is quite beside the point. QUITE beside the point.

Nevertheless, we were amused to see this sticker on a trash receptacle:
Yes indeedaroony!

The last time we hit The Rover, I chose Bell's Two Hearted Ale. We had tried it before and judged it too sharp for what we were eating that day, but I thought it would be just the thing with fish and chips. And I was right. Um mum mum mum mum mum.

Now I'm looking forward to our next visit, to see what the server suggests. I might choose anything from a pale winter wheat to a nearly black stout. Jane will choose according to her food order; we might get the same thing, or we might get different things. Then we'll crawl walk down the street to Vint coffee shop and caffeinate ourselves.

Life is good.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Blues by Joyce Lavene

It's about that time of year again - time for the Thanksgiving Day blues.

Don't misunderstand me. I LOVE Thanksgiving! I love all the food that we only eat at this time of year. I love being with all of my family. I love all the traditions that go with making all the food. It's great!

The problem is that our family has outgrown a normal dining room size. Every year, the event gets bigger, which is great. Children marry and have their own children. Boyfriends and girlfriends come shyly to meet everyone. Then about this time of year, my brother calls me and says, "I think I need another five seats at the table."

"Five seats?" I ask, wondering where we're going to find that kind of room. "Did you find another family to adopt?"

"No, it's Suzie's friend from college and her mother is going to be alone if she comes with Suzie. You know how it is."

I DO know. But short of renting a VFW hall, I don't know where to put everyone. We're already taking up the living room (moved furniture out) and kitchen, dining room. I guess we could open up a bedroom!

We've tried a park/picnic shelter. Bad weather ruined everything.

My brother's house is even smaller than mine. He offers every year to have the holiday there. I just can't imagine having plates full of dressing, gravy and sweet potatoes in my lap, sitting on the floor or on his sofa.

I'm thinking about renting one of those big tents they use for weddings. That might work. Or maybe we could build on, just for Thanksgiving Day dinner.

Of course, we'd have to expand the kitchen too. Every family cooks and brings a meal with them. I'm not sure where to put the line of turkeys or gravy boats this year - or Aunt Alice and her daughter, for that matter!

A Haunting Vision
By Joyce and Jim Lavene
and Berkley Prime Crime
December 4th!

Friday, November 2, 2012

How to Eat During a Hurricane

It seems that in the past week, one of the most frequent posts on Facebook has been what friends are eating during the storm. And most of us were eating comfort foods: chili, homemade soup, cornbread, biscuits and gravy, ham, potatoes, homemade cinnamon raisin bread, coffee, and--of course--Halloween candy.

Here is a link to a post on what to eat during a hurricane or other disaster. This post reveals relevant information on how long the food in your freezer will last and what you should have on hand if/when the power goes out.

The next two links explore the emotional side of eating during disasters:

What Not to Eat During A Hurricane

What Did You Eat During Hurricane Sandy

Hope all of you are safe, well, and happy!