Friday, August 30, 2013

Last two days of sale!

Murder Takes the Cake, the first book in the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating Mystery Series, is on sale in Kindle form for only $1.99 for the month of August. So you still have two days! If you've been meaning to check out the series, or if you've read other books in the series, and would like to go back and read the first, now is the time to do it.
If you aren't familiar with the book, it begins with the death of Daphne's first official client. When the meanest gossip in Brea Ridge, Yodel Watson, dies mysteriously, suspicions turn to recently returned Virginia native and cake decorator Daphne Martin. But all she did was deliver a spice cake with cream cheese frosting–and discover Yodel’s dead body. Now, Daphne must get her hands dirty to help solve the murder and clear her good name before things get any worse. But the small town is brimming with people who had good reason to kill Yodel–and Daphne’s entire family is among them.
I don't know why Amazon decided to feature Murder Takes the Cake for their August promotion, but I'm really glad they did. The promotion is just in time to help bring readers' attention to Daphne's upcoming adventure, Battered to Death, coming September 24. :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

There's More to a Book than its Cover

Almost every town has at least one. We pass by them, assuming they are on drugs, lazy or just plain crazy.
Truth is, we have no idea. What is the story behind that ragged man or woman walking the streets of your town? My friend, JS Moore, tells the story of one such man. 
HAGGARD HARRY AND THE FISHER KING is the story of Kingsport, Tennessee's Harry Bowyer. To most, Harry appears to be nothing but a vagrant. JS Moore discovered that Harry has quite an impressive story.
Through his conversations with Boyer, Moore discovers that Harry had a career. That career included serving in the military, becoming an attorney and serving as a judge. That was before Harry left the practice of law, and broke from mainstream society. 
Harry left it all behind to live a simpler life. He sees the change as his way of serving God and boldly witnessing to others. 
He is not actually homeless. Harry's roaming of downtown and disheveled appearance have simply caused people to assume he does not have a place to live. 
We assume and we judge; but we really have no idea. We do not know anything about another person until their story had been told!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#Vegan Couscous Salad

So we had a family party, and of course our vegetarians, almost-vegetarians, vegans, and almost-vegans were there, so I made this salad. I started by cooking a box of Near East pearled couscous with roasted garlic and olive oil. The pearled couscous is kind of big, which everybody loved.

I had been to the farmers' market the day before, so I cut up and added some green peppers, cucumbers, and several kinds of heirloom tiny tomatoes. I meant to also add some diced red onions, but I forgotted.

From our garden, I got some mint, basil, and parsley, and chopped it very fine and mixed it in.

Then I made a vinaigrette for it with one part acid (lime juice), one part water, one part olive oil, a little salt, and more chopped mint. Know how to make a vinaigrette that doesn't separate? You mix everything but the oil, then very slowly add the oil while you whisk with a fork or a balloon whisk.

(Even though that last link goes to a joint called Gourmet, you don't have to be a gourmet to have a balloon whisk. I have a buncha these guys, including a wooden one for using in non-stick pots and weee eeeentsy beeentsy teeeensy one, which I used for this vinaigrette.)

All that stuff on the top is basil, parsley, and oregano from the garden. It looked very pretty in person.

The salad was a success, even with the omnivores among us.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, August 26, 2013

Making Basil Butter by Joyce Lavene

Making Basil Butter
By Joyce Lavene
Author of Perilous Pranks 

I have a bumper crop of basil this summer. It’s probably been the mild summer and plenty of rain.

I have lots of basil to freeze for the winter and I’m thinking about making some basil butter with the rest.

Basil butter is very simple to make and lasts for a long time. You can basically use this recipe for any kind of herb butter – garlic, thyme etc. 

The taste is much better when you start fresh, no matter how long you keep it.

Basil Butter
You’ll need one half cup of softened butter. I like the unsalted variety but you can use either one.  

Add to that one half cup finely chopped basil, one half teaspoon of lemon zest, Kosher salt, and ground pepper. Again, you can leave the salt out completely if you are on a low sodium diet.

Combine all the ingredients well and put in plastic wrap to shape into a tube. Refrigerate until firm and then slice into one quarter inch coins that you can melt on bread, chicken, pork and vegetables.

 It’s very nice for using on the grill!

Perilous Pranks: Book 5.5 in the Renaissance Faire Mysteries by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Wanda Le Fey is dead, and Renaissance Faire lover, Jessie Morton, looks suspiciously like the person who killed her. Jessie was simply returning the prank Wanda played on her by dyeing the other woman blue. It wasn’t her fault that Wanda was also stabbed in the chest by a sword as she tried to get out of her shower. Now Wanda’s blue ghost is prodding Jessie to find her killer. And a dead Wanda is far worse than a live Wanda.

Buy Perilous Pranks for Amazon Kindle! Huzzah!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dolcini, anyone?

Like Jen, I went to Olive Garden and tasted this wonderful mini dessert called a dark chocolate caramel dolcini. Unlike Jen, I did not try to recreate the recipe. I merely searched for the recipe and learned that Jen had already done all the work. Yay! :D

I think these would be great to take to a church picnic or family reunion. Check out the recipe and follow Jen's step-by-step instructions at her blog.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sweet, Creamy, Gooey Kryptonite!

I am in love with Cadbury Creme Eggs! Lucky for me, they are only available on a seasonal basis, for Easter.
Now, there is another season that offers a version of this treat I cannot resist!  For Halloween, Cadbury offers the Screme Egg.
It is the same chocolate, creamy deliciousness. The only differences are a purple, green and black wrapper and a a green cream center.
I guess the weeks between Halloween and Easter will now be devoted to losing the weight gained from my Cadbury indulgence. Unless, they come up with a Christmas egg.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oh My Goodness

My friend Jane and I went to a coffee shop in Louisville, Kentucky, where we have rewards cards. I've bought so many cups of coffee there, I got the award of a free dessert.


So we rubbed our noses on the glass like all little children do, and picked this one to split.
Look at that baby!

It looks a bit more pallid than it was in real life, because it had a hygienic bit of plastic wrapped around its middle.

The bottom layer was chocolate cake, then a layer of chocolate fluff, then a layer of white fluff, then a layer of light chocolate fluff, then a thin layer of chocolate ganache. The little white spheres were edible. The brown stick thing was chocolate. The orange disk thing was white chocolate with an edible ink design on it. The white stick was a bit puzzling: it wasn't edible. Outrageous, really. Why wasn't it edible? I mean, I suppose we COULD have eaten it, but it wouldn't have been at all nice.

And did I mention it was free?

Life can be sweet, sometimes.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fresh Lime Salsa by Joyce Lavene

Fresh Lime Salsa
From Perilous Pranks
Renaissance Faire Mystery 5.5
By Joyce Lavene

Fresh Lime Salsa
By Joyce Lavene

I saw this recipe on the side of a pack of tortilla strips and thought I’d give it a try. It’s really very good and different. I plan to make it for our next family party in September!

You will need one large, ripe tomato, diced. Eight medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed and chopped. One quarter cup of green bell pepper, minced. One half teaspoon minced onion. One tablespoon grated lime peel. One tablespoon lime juice.

Mix all the ingredients together in a glass or plastic bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with sour cream and chips.

Try it at your next family gathering!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Despicable Me2 Minions

Despicable Me2 minions are everywhere these days! I've seen them on cupcakes where the baker has cleverly used a Twinkie or other yellow sponge cake cut in half to make the minion and then decorated the sponge cake with eyes, a mouth, and hair. They're really cute!

But maybe you'd prefer to make minion cake pops. If so, check out this tutorial:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

All That and a Bag of Chips!

What a stellar day last Tuesday was! Following Calli's exciting first day of fourth grade, we set up camp for three hours in the school supply aisle of Greeneville, Tennessee's Walmart. Was Calli's school supply list so big and confusing that it took three hours to get her supplies?  No, we were sitting in Walmart's school supply aisle for three hours to meet Calli's favorite vocal group and Greeneville's own, The Band Perry!
Was watching Calli meet her idols worth the wait?  It totally, without question was worth every second. The members of this sibling band were super-nice. Kimberly even complimented Calli's outfit. 
What other Walmart event made Tuesday so stellar? After meeting The Band Perry, I aimed to spend another hour in Walmart, by knocking out my shopping list. While on the snack aisle, I found a bag of Lay's Chicken & Waffle Chips. This flavor came out in limited quantities a few months ago. When I heard people talking about these chips, I was dying to try them. Sadly, I jumped on the chicken bandwagon with waffle wheels a little too late. Not a bag was to be found. Trust me, I looked!
Now, they are back in stores, and I snatched up a bag.
After all those hours in Walmart, I was ravenous! I tore open the bag of chips as soon as I got into my car. Did the chips merit all of my excitement and anticipation? They totally, without question, did.
I tell ya, Tuesday was all that and a bag of chips!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

One Toque Over The Line

This past weekend, I was privileged to work again under Lana Cullison, a world-class chef, cooking for World on the Square in Corydon, Indiana. After two long, long days, my feet were killing me, but I could have worked longer and been happy.

I'm posting today at my blog about some of the dishes she made and let me help with. She was so generous with her advice, so patient with my ignorance and lack of skill and speed, and so gracious in talking me through doing things she could have done better and faster herself!

Best of all, when it was all done, she presented me with this:
It's a toque! A chef's hat! Yes, I know I look like I'm about to take a cleaver to somebody, but that's just the result of trying to take a selfie with a tall hat on my head.

According to Wikipedia, the toque as part of the chef's uniform dates back to the 16th century. The word comes from the Arabic, meaning a round thing with one opening. The hundred folds in the hat signify all the ways a chef knows to cook an egg. !! I know three: Too hard, too soft, and just right.

At any rate, I am very, very proud of my toque. And, just in case you were born after 1971, here's to what the title of this post reefers refers.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tomatoes and okra and Perilous Pranks - by Joyce Lavene

Perilous Pranks
Coming soon!
A novella from the Renaissance Faire Mysteries
By Joyce and Jim Lavene

I love mixing summer vegetables from the garden! My mother used to mix tomatoes and okra, stewing them together with some bacon grease.

My mother loved bacon grease. She thought it was better than ketchup, soy sauce, or any other condiment. She mixed it with everything. And everything she made was good!

But I'm a vegetarian. I could cook up some veggie bacon for that taste, but I've learned that onion and garlic taste good with almost everything too.

So I make stewed tomatoes and okra around this time of year. It's not my husband's favorite - not a big okra fan - but I enjoy it!

Fresh is best for this recipe, but you can use frozen too.

Stewed tomatoes and okra

Chop one small onion and one clove of garlic. Brown in sauce pan. Add one-half cup vegetable broth and two cups chopped okra. Add a lid to the pan and cook over moderate heat for about ten minutes or until okra is tender. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper or Mrs. Dash seasoning. Cover and simmer for another ten minutes on moderate heat.

The vegetables should be tender and the mixture should be thick when it is done.

This is great alone as a side dish or with rice. Some people like it spicy and you can spice it up too.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Holly Clegg's Crunchy Coconut Chicken Fingers

Delicious and crunchy, this combination turns chicken fingers into a true specialty.
Makes 4 servings

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3 1/2 inch strips
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup lite coconut milk
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce, optional
1/3 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup cornflake crumbs
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven 400°F. Line baking pan with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Season chicken to taste. In shallow bowl, whisk together coconut milk, egg white, and chili garlic sauce, if desired. Add chicken.
3. In food processor, pulse together coconut, cornflake crumbs and almonds until finely chopped. Transfer to large plate.
4. Remove chicken strips from coconut milk mixture, letting excess drip back into bowl and coat evenly with cornflake mixture. Place coated chicken on prepared pan. Bake 20- 25 minutes; turning chicken halfway though, cooking until chicken is golden and tender.

Food Facts
Calories 230, Calories from Fat 28%, Fat 7g, Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 73mg, Sodium 246mg, Carbohydrates 15g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Total Sugars 3g, Protein 26g, Dietary Exchanges: 1 starch, 3 lean meat

Nutrition Nugget: This protein-rich carb-combo gives a well balanced meal to fuel your energy.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Berry Sweet

Raspberries are great on their own. They are even bettet, in fact decadent, when filled with something creamy and sweet.
Fresh, firm raspberries have a perfect little well in the center. That well begs to be filled with frosting! That cookie frosting that comes in a little pouch with a squeeze tip is perfect. Although strawberries do no come with the "well", you can make one by digging out the hull with a tiny spoon. 
 My next turn at entertaining may include a plate of berries with tubes of vanilla and chocolate icing. My guest will love it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Earthmother Me

When I was growing up, my Aunt Rose insisted on trying to teach me how to cook, which was kind of like trying to teach a pig to sing.

I taught myself how to cook when I was in Middle School, and astounded her when she came to my house after I was married and I gave her home-made bean soup, home-grown tomatoes, and home-pickled cucumbers from our garden.

But that isn't what this post is about.

Here are my latest yummies:
Reading from right to left, that's blueberry preserves, blackberry jelly, mayonnaise with dill and smoked paprika, and no-knead bread.

And that mayonnaise is righteous on a tomato-and-pickle sandwich.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cool and sweet - no-bake lime pie by Ellie Grant

No-bake lime pie
By Ellie Grant
from Plum Deadly
Pie in the Sky Mystery #1 

Love pie but don’t want to bake in the summer heat?

There are many different kinds of pies that don’t require baking. Usually these have a graham cracker crust. Fruity pies are light and sweet, easy to make with whatever fruit you have on hand.

My recipe today is no-bake lime pie. This is made with cream cheese and either sweetened condensed milk or yogurt. If you have a diabetic in your family, the yogurt is a better choice.


You’ll need a graham cracker crust for the bottom. You can either make or pie this.

Next mix eight ounces of cream cheese with fourteen ounces of sweetened condensed milk, or one cup of plain yogurt with sweetener to taste. Beat until smooth.

Add one cup of milk to the mixture and one half cup lime juice with one tablespoon grated lime zest. Mix again until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the crust and chill for at least two hours.

This is really good served with whipped cream and lime slices!

Pumpkin Pizzazz. Bountiful Blueberry. Dangerously Damson.

What do these pies have in common?

They are all made at Pie in the Sky, a little pie shop located in Durham, NC near the campus of duke University. Aunt Clara and her niece, Maggie Grady are there solving mysteries and making the best pies in town. You can join them at:

Friday, August 2, 2013

Comment to Enter

Cross Stitch Before Dying will be released on Tuesday, August 6, 2013. I'm really excited. I had so much fun writing this book. I hope you'll have just as much fun reading it. I'm giving Fatal Foodie readers a chance to win a signed copy of Cross Stitch Before Dying simply by leaving a comment (please include an email address!) on this post. On Tuesday, I'll go to and have a number generated. Good luck!

In Cross Stitch Before Dying, Marcy's mom, Beverly, is the costume designer for a lavish Bollywood-style production, and someone suggests Tallulah Falls as a great place to shoot part of the film. Everyone at the embroidery shop and around town is in a flutter that a glamorous movie production is taking place in their midst. But when the star of the film is found murdered, the police suspect Marcy's mom, who made it no secret she did not care for the diva's attitude.

Marcy might as well issue an open call for suspects, because the star had a long list of enemies. To save her mom's career and keep her from accessorizing with handcuffs, Marcy and her friends will need to stitch together the clues to catch one crafty killer, who may have designs on Marcy next....

Don't forget to leave a comment to enter the giveaway!