Wednesday, July 31, 2013


The beautiful pot of mint I have growing on my deck was begging to be muddled into a mojito. Since drinking rum before noon, while alone and caring for two kids is something I do not want to do;  I ignored the urge to muddle mint. Still my mint plant kept whispering "MO....JI...TO!"
To quiet my whispering herb, I came up with a non-alcoholic alternative. It is refreshing, pretty in a glass and okay to share with the kids.


mint leaves
diet ginger-ale
fresh lime juice

Muddle mint leaves by placing them in a glass and pressing their oil out with the back of a spoon. Filll glass with ginger-ale. Add juice from half of a lime.
Plop in a straw; swirl it to mix; and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Do Ladoo Yet Again

I'm a sucker for Indian food, nuts, sugar, and cardamom so, when a friend of a friend introduced me to ladoo, I had to learn how to make them myself.

I've posted about my experiments here and again here, and here is my latest, which is the best yet.

Mixed Nut No-Cook Ladoo
  • 3 cups nuts (I used walnuts, cashews, almonds)
  • 1 cup fine sugar (regular whirled in a food processor until fine)
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom powder or ground cardamom pods
  • touch of vanilla almond milk or plain milk
I gave the nuts a quick whirl so they're coarsely chopped, then took out about a cup, maybe a little less. Grind the rest of the nuts until they're pretty smooth. Take out into a bowl and stir in sugar and spice and the coarsely chopped nuts. Form into balls. My mixture was too dry to stick together, which is why I added the bit of vanilla almond milk.

This is also delicious with shredded toasted coconut in it.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cantaloupe Soup - by Ellie Grant

By Ellie Grant
author of Plum Deadly
Book #1
in the Pie in the Sky Mysteries 

I enjoy soup most of the year - even in the summer. On really hot days, I like to eat cold or chilled soup. There are many different varieties - cucumber, tomato, mint soup. 

I found this yummy, chilled, cantaloupe soup - which I think could also be made with any melon. It hits the spot for a cool lunch with friends or a light dinner.

You will need one medium cantaloupe, as ripe as possible, cut into chunks. Put the melon into a blender or food processor. Add to this one cup plain yogurt, one tbsp. grated fresh ginger, ½ cup lemon juice.

Blend well and refrigerate until well chilled, preferably overnight. Be sure to keep a lid on this as it will pick up every other food taste from your refrigerator. The soup has a very delicate flavor and would be easily ruined.

Use mint leaves for garnish and serve.

Enjoy pie and mystery? Know the Duke University area in Durham, North Carolina?

Then you'll love PLUM DEADLY, the first book in my new Pie in the Sky Mysteries.

Friday, July 26, 2013

ICES 38th Annual Convention and Show

Do you live in or near Lexington, Kentucky? If so, you might want to make plans to attend the 38th annual International Cake Exploration Societe convention and show August 8-11, 2013. According to the ICES site, this will be "the largest and most exciting sugar arts exposition in North America this year and it is all under one roof!" The theme of this year's convention is "Horse Around in the Bluegrass."

The show will feature demonstrations, hands-on classes, and a vendors' showcase. Pillsbury will host a hospitality room, and there will be a "Sugar Art Stable" where competitors will present their masterpieces. There will be a cake challenge from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, a social hour, and an awards ball.

It appears there are a lot of events that center around ICES members. But I imagine you could still pick up some tips and enjoy the show whether you're a sugar artist or not. If you go, please let the rest of us Fatal Foodies know how you liked it!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A New Show for Foodies

Have you ever wondered how your favorite supermarket products made their way to the shelf? Beyond that, do you understand why those products appeal to you as a consumer?
Lifetime Network has a new show that answers many questions about supermarket products. SUPERMARKET SUPERSTAR is a program where contestants try to get their products on the grocery store shelf.  The contestants bring their ideas for new food products to a panel of experts who make suggestions to give them mass-market appeal.
Contestants then take the experts' suggestions to the kitchen; improving things like taste or price point. Next, a consumer panel evaluates each product.
After the evaluation, one contestant is eliminated. The remaining two contestants meet with experts in marketing, design and packaging.
Finally, they present their products to a buyer for a large supermarket chain. The buyer chooses the episode's winner. Later in the season, episode winners compete to have their product picked up by the supermarket chain. 
Check out schedules and previews at:

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Crusty Charlie - My New Favorite Snack

My husband, Charlie, came up with this one, and we both dote on it.

Our #2 daughter keeps chickens and brings us fresh eggs, so we eat (perhaps more than we should) egg sandwiches. Charlie has become the unofficial Egg Sandwich Sheriff, and the dish includes this on the side.

  • Cut the crusts off four pieces of bread and set them aside.
  • Make fried egg sandwiches (fry eggs and put them between slices of bread).
  • Put more butter (or vegan margarine) in the pan and add the crusts.
  • Fry the crusts until they soak up all the butter. 
  • To make them extra good, sprinkle them with cheese and let that melt and fry, too.

Fellers, I'm telling you, this stuff is tasty!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, July 22, 2013

Pineapple Coconut Pie - Yum! - by Ellie Grant

From Plum Deadly
By Ellie Grant 

Here at Pie in the Sky Pie Shop in Durham, North Carolina, we're always looking for new recipes. We even sponsor a contest every month to help choose new pies and their names. 

My Aunt Clara started the practice of naming pies when she first opened the shop forty years ago. It's very popular with our student customers from Duke University. We have Clara's Coconut Custard, Delia's Deep Dish Cherry, Dangerously Damson and Murderous Mince, to name a few.

Our new pie for the hot summer month is Pineapple Coconut. It's sweet and cool - the perfect pie for sticky hot weather, and it's easy too!

Here is our recipe:

Start with 1/1/2 cups of crushed pineapple. This can be fresh or canned. We prefer the fresh. Be sure to keep at least 1/2 cup juice with it. Add 3 beaten eggs, 3 tablespoons of plain flour, 1 cup of flaked coconut (fresh or prepared), 1 stick of butter. Mix this together in a bowl.

Make our buy a 9 inch, deep dish pie shell. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.
Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour or until the filling is set and light brown.

We don't have a name for this pie yet and are hoping some of our customers can help us out. 

Win a copy of PLUM DEADLY, the first book in the Pie in the Sky Mysteries from Ellie Grant, if we choose your name for this pie! Post your suggestions here as comments!

Friday, July 19, 2013

FEED USA at Target

Have you checked out the FEED USA brand at Target? The line debuted this month and benefits Feeding America. Lauren Bush Lauren is the founder of FEED and is the co-designer of all the products in the FEED USA + Target collection. The numbers on the products--such as the 12 on the planner to the left--indicates the number of meals donated to those in need through the purchase of the product.

I haven't checked them out myself yet, but I do have my eye on this planner...and the notecards--I love notecards. And the tote bag is really cute. So are the shirts. You can check out the entire collection at SheFinds.

If you have checked out the collection already, what did you think?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seeing Red

Last week, I did something that is both exhilarating and terrifying. I sent an email to my publisher. My completed manuscript was attached.
For an author, releasing a manuscript yields mixed emotions. There is relief in the completion and apprehension over quality.
'Are readers going to like it?'
That is what I keep asking myself.
As my publisher and editor carefully comb over my manuscript, I will be doing the same with my red Sharpie in-hand. There may be a shortage of red ink in the Tri-Cities!
Oooooh, this process makes me cringe!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Thirst Is A Terrible Thing

So I never let myself get too thirsty. When I meet my friend Jane for lunch, for instance, I have to drive over. Then we meet at the coffee house where we drink coffee, and you know coffee is dehydrating. Then we walk to the restaurant, so, my gosh, it just makes good health sense to drink something, right?
So I had this Left Hand Brewing fermented malt beverage fortified with milk sugar. It's practically oatmeal! I got this in Louisville, not at my beloved local, so the beer is all the way from exotic Colorado, unlike the local microbrews I usually favor.

It went very well with fish & chips. It would have gone very well with durn near anything.

Please allow me to direct your attention to my publisher's two-day Summer Bash July 16-17, 2013, whereupon they are giving away 30 or so free ebooks, including my own The Fall of Onagros, Book 1 of the Sage trilogy.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Friday, July 12, 2013

Watermelon Wine

I love, love, love watermelon--especially this time of year! So I wanted to do a post about watermelon. Is there a recipe with watermelon as the main ingredient?

As I pondered this question, I remembered listening to Tom T. Hall with my grandfather (any relation, Lisa?!). Mr. Hall had this song about "old dogs and children...and watermelon wine." He had another song about a "sneaky snake," but I don't plan on posting a recipe for any snake dishes.

According to Fruit Wine Making, watermelon wine is very easy to make and "provides a nice contrast to the standard grape option." So, if you're into wine making, visit the Fruit Wine Making site and learn all about how to make watermelon wine. :)

If you make it, let me know how it turns out! It has to age several months, and I just don't have that kind of patience.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Time for Change

If you sell books, you need change. Usually, obtaining change is as simple as a trip to the bank. That is what I thought yesterday as I left for a library event.
I pulled up to the window at the one bank in my community, where I usually get change, to find that I can no longer use the bank for change. Now, you must have an account with the bank in order to get change.
A bit of panic ensued.  I did not have time to deviate from my planned route. Going to my bank would have required an extra 15-20 minutes.
My mind went into a spin. With both of my kids riding along, there was no such thing as being able to quickly run in and out of a business that could make change. What I decided to do was: 1) Go to a fast food drive-thru. 2) Order a drink. 3) Pay with a $20.00  4) Ask for my change in $1 bills.
Fortunately, there was a small branch of a bank where I hold an account almost next to the library. I had no idea it existed!
Anybody else have ideas on obtaining change quickly?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cooking With Cucumbers

What? You didn't know cucumbers are good cooked? Well, they are! They're juicy and crunchy or squnchy (depending on how long you cook 'em) and delicious.

Here's a stirfry Charlie and I made the other day.

That's snow peas (pods and too-big-so-shucked-em-out), mushrooms, onions, orange bell peppers, water chestnuts, and big chunks of cucumbers. Made a sauce of water, vegetable bouillon, and corn starch, and served it over jasmine rice.

As George Takei might say, Oh, my!

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, July 8, 2013

The wonder of watermelon by Ellie Grant

From Plum Deadly
By Ellie Grant 

It's summer and whose mind doesn't turn to thoughts of watermelon?

There is a whole page dedicated just to watermelon:

 including fun facts like these:

  • The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
  • Watermelon is 92% water.
  • Watermelon's official name is Citrullus Lanatus of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae. It is cousins to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
  • By weight, watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
  • Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
  • The first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.
  • According to Guinness World Records, the world's heaviest watermelon was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas in 2005, weighing in at 268.8 lbs (121.93 kg). Lloyd grew and weighed in for the Annual Hope, Arkansas Big Watermelon Contest on September 3, 2005.
And carvings like these:

Watermelon is good, and good for you. I'm taking a big hunk with me to sit out on the porch and eat right now! Enjoy!

Ellie Grant writes the pie shop mysteries for Gallery Books. Her first book is out on September 3rd, PLUM DEADLY.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thufferin' Thucotash!

Yes, I'm channeling Sylvester the Cat today. This is because I went down the walk to get into the car this morning and--low and behold!--there lay a mouse face and some intestines. That was it. I know this because I bent over to peer down at said face and "stuff" because I was thinking, "What IS that?" So now we both know. Of course, you didn't have to race to your car yelling, "Ewww! Ewww! Ewww!"

So we're all familiar with Mario Puzo's The Godfather and the horse's head in the bed. But what have I done to someone to make him or her put a mouse face on my walk? Is this some kind of warning? A threat? A promise?!

Or was it just a hungry cat?

And now that I've whetted all our appetites, I've decided to post below Martha Stewart's recipe for succotash (which I didn't know what was until I looked it up just now). This is not to be confused with "suffering succotash."



  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded, deveined, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 medium zucchini, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 ten-ounce packages frozen lima beans, rinsed under warm running water and drained
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (4 ears)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves


  1. Step 1

    In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion; cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add bell peppers, zucchini, lima beans, and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in herbs, and serve.
And that's all there is to it. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that any faces you might encounter are friendly and on a living thing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Answering the Call with the Easiest Cookie EVER!

As I was about to run out of the house yesterday, I remembered I needed to make cookies for my church. You see, my church is giving out cookies for a community block party. My pastor has asked the congregation for 100 dozen cookies.
Wanting to do my part, I decide to contribute a few dozen. A jam-packed day had me looking for a cookie recipe that was quick and easy; but still homemade and special. 
My solution; cake mix cookies. Here it is. If you want 4th of July cookies, use red, white and blue sprinkles:
1 box of cake mix (any flavor)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup of sprinkles

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix ingredients.  
Roll into small balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 4-8 minutes.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Satan Couldn't Be Everywhere

Satan couldn't be everywhere at once, so he created radishes.

Look at 'em, just sitting there in that pretty bowl, acting so innocent.

"I'm crunchy! I'm bursting with flavor! People who like many of the same foods you like LOVE me!"

So you pick one up. You hold it over your plate. You salt it. You pop it into your mouth.


Oh, dear God, somewhere, I am assured, there is a radish that does NOT make you want to rinse your mouth out with Antarctica, but I haven't found it yet.

Marian "Blistermouth" Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tomato and Cucumber Salad for Summer! By Ellie Grant

Tomato/Cucumber Salad
From Plum Deadly
A Pie Shop Mystery
By Ellie Grant 

Tomatoes are my favorite food during the summer. They are never as good as when you pick them fresh from the plant but even produce stands can hardly go wrong with home grown tomatoes.

We are fortunate that cucumbers are growing at the same time and that we can put these two great tastes together in a summer salad. This is excellent as a side dish or as a meal itself!
I like to add onion and a little fresh garlic to this. The combination is delicious!
Add two cucumbers, thinly sliced and peeled, with three sliced tomatoes in a bowl. Slice thinly one clove of fresh garlic and add to the mixture. 
Add two tablespoons of red wine vinegar to the bowl and one quarter cup light olive oil.
Toss lightly and add salt and pepper to taste. Delightful summertime fare!


By Ellie Grant
Out September 3rd from Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster)
Unjustly accused of cooking the books, Maggie Grady is forced to retreat from her high-flying New York financial career to the town where she grew up. Her aunt Clara greets her with open arms and a job at the family-owned business that has baked the best pies in the South for over forty years. Unfortunately, while Maggie is determined to return to banking, her reputation there seems permanently in the pits. That is, until her old boss, Lou, visits with news that he’s found the real crook. Before he can reveal the details, though, Maggie finds his body right behind the pie shop.

With only her own word that Lou planned to exonerate her, Maggie is in the spotlight. The police seem to suspect that Aunt Clara’s damson pie may not be just dangerously delectable, but downright deadly. Maggie doesn’t just have her own name to clear; she has to make sure that her aunt’s beloved business isn’t harmed, either. Yummy local reporter Ryan Summerour appears eager to help, and Maggie can’t help hoping that it’s not just the police who find her a person of interest—but Ryan, as well. She’d thought it challenging to make the perfect pie crust that Aunt Clara demands, but that turns out to be nothing compared with finding a murderer. . . .