Monday, March 31, 2014

Life in a Food Truck
By Zoe Chase
From Death on Eat Street
By J.J. Cook

Life in a food truck – well – MY food truck, The Biscuit Bowl, is fast-paced when there are customers. It’s slow as July in Mobile, Alabama where I live, when there aren't any customers. So I try hard to make sure I have customers lined up at the window.

My specialty is the biscuit bowl – as seen by the flying biscuit on my roof. It’s like  a bread bowl but made from a biscuit that has been hollowed out and deep fried for a minute. You’ll feel like you died and went to heaven when you try one.

I fill them with sweet things like cherry pie filling or cinnamon apple filling. I also make savory fillings such as beef stew and gumbo.

I think they’ll be a big hit – if I can get people to try them!

So if you’re looking for lunch, or a snack, in downtown Mobile – think Zoe’s Biscuit Bowl! I’ll be waiting for you!

Try Death on Eat Street, the first book in the scrumptious new Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries. It will leave you hungry for more! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad

Doesn't this look delicious? I'm looking forward to trying this!

Poppy Seed Chicken Salad


2 cups prepared chicken salad
1/4 cup poppy seed salad dressing
1/2 cup toasted or roasted pecans
1/2 cup halved seedless green or red grapes                
Crackers or pita chips

Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Serve with crackers or pita chips.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I am SNOW Over It!

According to the calendar it is spring. Yet, we have had a little snow this week. To protest the cold and yucky weather, I made mad, ugly snowmen faces. If you want to stage your own protest, all you need is: powdered donuts orange fruit snack (nose) red fruit snack (cut in half for eyes) green icing (mouth)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Song For Salmon, Sockeye or Otherwise
Salmon onna sammich,
Salmon onna plate.
Any way you fix it,
I think salmon's great!

Catch it in the ocean,
Dump it from a can,
Other than as sushi
I'm its biggest fan.

Shape it into patties.
Fry it nice and brown.
Any way you fix it,
Salmon takes the crown.

Guess what I had for supper last night? Wow! You must be psychic! Yeah, I had salmon!

When I was in England umpty-ump years ago, they gave me "tinned" salmon sandwiches on heavily buttered bread, and that's still the world's greatest treat to me.

Three cheers for the fish I used to call, when I was wee, "good old sam!"

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

Monday, March 24, 2014

Grits and the Biscuit Bowl
By Joyce Lavene
From Death on Eat Street
By J.J. Cook 

Can you write a book about southern cooking and NOT mention grits? My mother, and grandmother would turn over in their graves at the thought. They, and the rest of my large, southern family from Charleston, South Carolina would be horrified. Grits is as much a treat as a mainstay for southern cooks.

My mother made grits every way possible when I was growing up. She had to make a special trip to  grocer in downtown Chicago to get grits, but we made that pilgrimage faithfully. My mother served the ground corn with milk and sugar, ketchup and bacon grease, and cheese. It could have eggs in it, or chicken. It was possible to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It was good for you when you were sick, and would make things better when you had a bad grade on your report card. The miracle food.

People have been boiling and baking grits in the south for four hundred years. It seemed like a natural thing to talk about grits in my new book, Death on Eat Street about a young woman named Zoe Chase who goes into business for herself with a food truck in Mobile, Alabama. She makes biscuit bowls (like bread bowls but more amazing) and fills them with sweet and savory foods. Of course she fills some of them with grits.

A simple recipe she uses is cheesy grits. Here is how she does it.

Make one serving of quick cook grits. Use slightly less water (only a few tablespoons) and let it cook on the stove or in the microwave. It should be thicker than normal grits after it sets. Add 2 ounces of cheese (Zoe likes cheddar but you can use any kind you like). Stir and heat for another minute or two. Serve with butter, and salt and pepper. YUM!

Zoe puts hers into a deep fried biscuit bowl, but you can eat yours out of a bowl, or as my mother did from on top of toasted bread.

And look for my new release: Death on Eat Street from J.J. Cook, and Berkley Prime Crime -  in stores and online now.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Celebrate Springtime with Lemon Pie

Yesterday was the official First Day of Spring! Yay!!!! So I was looking up a recipe to help us mark the occasion when I ran across no-bake mini lemon pies. My grandmother loved lemon meringue pie. I wish I could make her some of these.

Since the recipe has a picture by picture tutorial, I'm going to simply link you over to Shaken Together's blog. So click the link for Keri's recipe for Mini Luscious Lemon Pies

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

No Taco Seasoning..No Problems! Desperation has led me to some of my favorite recipes. This morning, I realized that I have no taco seasoning. Of course, I realized this after I've already been to the store; and right before I was going to brown some ground beef for nachos and tacos. So, did I drag myself and a four-year-old to the store? Nooo...heck no! I made my own seasoning using this simple recipe. I also added a little chipotle powder 1 tablespoon chili powder 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon black pepper

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Vegetarian Dinner Of Delicacy and Beauty

I'm not a vegetarian, but I mostly am, and my husband is mostlier than I am. So we eat vegetarian almost exclusively. I don't mind, because I find that vegetarian is a lot more fun and interesting for me to cook.

Here's what we had the other day:
This is Golden Mountain Cauliflower and Green Beans Almondine or something.

The cauliflower:
Cut the stem and leaves from a head of cauliflower. Put the head on a platter (shades of John the Baptist!), cover it, and microwave on high for 7 minutes. When it's cool enough to work with, cut some of the florets off and put them in a dish. Spread it with mayonnaise mixed with mustard (Charlie doesn't like that bit, so I leave it off his). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grated cheese. Broil until browned or microwave until cheese is melted.

The beans:
They were canned. :/ So chop up some sweet red, orange, yellow peppers. Toast them, along with some slivered almonds, in butter. Add the beans and heat through.

Quite a tasty combination.

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

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thin Mint Truffles for St. Patrick's Day!

I had the absolute delight of having a mint chocolate truffle at a candy shop a few weeks ago. They left a lasting impression!

I was delighted to run across this simple recipe just in time for St. Patrick's Day!

Thin Mint Truffles

1 9oz box Girl Scout Thin Mints {Or Keebler's Grasshopper Cookies!}
4 oz fat free cream cheese, slightly softened
8 oz green mint chips
8 oz white chocolate chips or white chocolate bark

In a food processor, pulse the Thin Mints a few times, and them blend them down until they are just crumbs. It might be easier to do this in two batches. Next, mix in the cream cheese and crumbs together in a bowl until well incorporated. Roll the mixture into 1 inch size balls, and place them on a wax paper covered baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes, so the balls are easier to dip in the chocolate and do not fall apart.
Once the truffles have been in the fridge for a while, melt the green mint chips in a double broiler or a microwave safe bowl.
Roll half of the truffles in the green mint chocolate, and place them back on the wax paper. Melt the white chocolate and roll the remaining truffles. Once they have dried a little, place the remaining white chocolate in a small zip lock bag and cut a tiny bit of one corner off the bag. Start small at first, and then if you need, make the hole a little larger. Drizzle the white chocolate over the green truffles. Do the same with the mint chocolate over the white truffles. Place the baking sheet back in the fridge so that the chocolate can set.
You could just use one type of chocolate for the outside, but I like the contrast in color. Also, the reason I used the mint chips and the white chocolate instead of regular chocolate, is because the Thin Mints are already covered in chocolate.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

No Food Sacrifices for Lent this Year!

The season of Lent is upon us. As a good Methodist, I must observe Lent by giving up something. In the past, I have given up Diet Coke (perhaps my unhealthiest habit). The sacrifice has had some lasting positive results. I have drastically cut back on my Diet Coke consumption. This year, I have Methodist friends giving up food addictions like sugar and chocolate. Instead of eliminating a food item from my diet, I am trying to purge negative thoughts from my mind and negative words from my conversations. Trust me, it is a greater challenge than giving up food, but is something I so need to do. Heaven help me!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Potatoes Smothered in Fungus

Okay, mushrooms.

I made these the other night, and they were SO GOOD!

Bake a potato. Meanwhile, slice some mushrooms. Cook them in a dry pan for a few minutes to concentrate the flavor. Then add some oil or butter or vegan margarine and cook them another couple of minutes. Add some white wine, deglaze the pan, and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed.

Cut open the baked potato. Smother it with the mushrooms.

I topped it with a medallion of fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of smoked paprika and some freshly cracked black pepper (not a food snob: I have a cool pepper-cracker that I get a kick out of using).

That's braised cabbage on the side. It was very good, too.

Marian Allen
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Monday, March 10, 2014

What did pirates eat?

What did pirates eat?
By Joyce Lavene
Pirate Lover and Mystery Writer 

My grandkids and I went to a traveling exhibit that featured items from Blackbeard the pirate. His ship, the Queen’s Revenge, is being excavated at the North Carolina coast. It was a amazing - all the tiny bits and pieces of pirate life they’ve found – parts of cups and bottles, plates, and stick pins.

We had lunch afterward, and the talk turned to what did pirates ate. We were at Taco Bell at the time, and I could assure them it wasn’t tacos!

I did a little research to answer their questions, and this is what I found.

The first few weeks at sea were the best for pirates, as far as food was concerned. Meat and rum was plentiful, but that quickly changed the longer they stayed away from land. Meat became rancid, and filled with maggots, (they had no way to refrigerate it) and rum disappeared. Most of the time, they were too busy fleeing for their lives to steal food from a ship that they sank.

So mostly, pirates ate dry beans, pickled or salted food. Chickens were kept onboard for eggs (or they ate them). Cows were sometimes kept for milk which gave out very quickly with little for them to eat – so they ate the cow.

They ate hardtack biscuits, and the occasional fish or turtle. Every part, including the bones of these animals were consumed, or made into soup.

A ship’s galley mainly consisted of a fireplace and a few pots. Utensils were scarce, even for the cook. Pirates mostly ate with their hands. If you were a good cook, and wanted to stay alive, you found a way to make things taste good, and to keep your crew healthy while you were marauding.

Raisins and currents were cooked with flour and grease to make a suet-type pudding which helped keep away scurvy. Crews enjoyed sauerkraut, pickles, salted meat, cheese, and oatmeal.

Now that you know – do you still want to be a pirate?

My new book is Broken Hearted Ghoul. Read an excerpt here:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Holly Clegg's Southwestern Lasagna

Since Mardi Gras was this past week, I had to share a recipe from the Queen of Baton Rouge herself, Holly Clegg! :)

Southwestern Lasagna

Layers of tortillas, spicy meat, and melted cheese create a delicious twist to a classic favorite. Try different-flavored salsas or tortillas for extra punch.

10 servings/serving size: 1 piece


1 pound 95% lean ground sirloin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (16-ounce) jar salsa
1 1/4 cups enchilada sauce
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1 large egg white, beaten
6 (6-inch) flour tortillas, cut into thirds
1 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese


1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2. In large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, brown beef and garlic over medium heat about 8 minutes or until meat is done. Drain any excess fat. Add salsa, enchilada sauce, and salt and pepper (if using). Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
3. In small bowl, combine the cottage cheese and egg white. Coat 13x9x2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
4. Spread thin layer of meat sauce in the dish. Layer with half the tortillas, all of the cottage cheese mixture, half the remaining meat mixture, and half the cheese. Repeat layers, omitting the cottage cheese layer and ending with the meat sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake for 25–30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Food Facts

Calories 193
Calories from fat (%) 51
Fat (g) 6
Saturated Fat (g) 2
Cholesterol (mg) 32
Sodium (mg) 597
Carbohydrate (g) 17
Dietary Fiber (g) 1
Sugars (g) 4
Protein (g) 18

Diabetic Exchanges:  1 Starch, 2 Lean Meat

Terrific Tidbit
You can substitute mozzarella cheese instead of Monterey Jack if you prefer. There are different-flavored tortillas and salsas you can use to vary this lasagna’s flavor.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

No Longer a Chicken about Poached Eggs! I often express my love for Ree Drummond (THE PIONEER WOMAN). Now, I love her more than ever! She has opened a new door for me. Because of Ree, I have tried a poached egg. Up until recently, I have not been a huge fan of eating eggs. That was until I had one poached. Poaching makes for a custardy,creamy delight I never knew could come from a plain, old egg. A version of Ree's Carb-buster breakfast is what brought me and the poached egg together. After seeing how good her vegetable and egg medley looked, I had to do my first egg poaching. In my version, I use: frozen peas, spinach, kale, tomato, bell peppers, turkey bacon and shredded cheddar.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tell Me About Pancakes, Grandmother

Cakes cooked in a pan go back to ancient times. Made of varying proportions of milk, egg, flour and spices, they did and do range from paper-thin to thick custard. They can be made with shredded potato or with cornmeal, but I'm talking about ones made of wheat flour. 

Pancakes have been a treasured part of the cook's resources in all places and all classes. They can be mixed up with the barest or the richest spices, and need only a fire and a flat surface for cooking.
They can be eaten plain or topped, or filled with savory or sweet ingredients. 

Pancakes are a traditional dish in Catholic areas on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, when the pious are encouraged to use up their fat and eggs before the forty days' fast preceding Easter. 

Paradoxically, they're also a good fall-back on days of abstinence from meat. Me, I love pancakes for supper, all fluffy and warm.

My favorite pancake additive is blueberry and pecans. I say "is" because what I like is both together. Another favorite is chocolate chips, topped with powdered sugar instead of syrup. Or sometimes we have plain pancakes and top them with jelly, preserves, or even canned fruit. 

Oh, the deprivations of Lent!

Marian Allen

Monday, March 3, 2014

Orange Carrots, and a Broken Hearted Ghoul giveaway!

Orange Carrots
By Joyce Lavene

When I told my husband I was making orange carrots, he said, "Carrots are already orange."

To which I replied, "But they haven't always been!"

Of course I was talking about using orange WITH carrots, but it brought up an interesting discussion.

Carrots have only been orange since the 16th century. Dutch carrot growers cultivated orange carrots in honor of William of Orange. Before that time, carrots were yellow, white, and purple. People decided they liked the orange colored carrots, and they've stayed that color until just recently.

The long orange carrot, as it became known, was first described in the early 1700s, coming from a town called Hoom, in The Netherlands.

But back to carrots with orange sauce.

I like to jazz carrots up once in a while, though I could eat them plain all the time. It's easy to add a sweet glaze to them.

Take one 12 oz. bag of baby carrots, and put them in a pan. I actually make them in a skillet so they cook evenly. Add one cup of orange juice, and orange slices from a fresh orange. You can even use the clean peel for a stronger orange flavor. Let this simmer on low, covered, for about 10 minutes, and then add  1/2 cup brown sugar (or sugar-free brown sugar replacement). Let it simmer another 10 minutes, covered.

Orange carrots! Delicious, and good for you.

My new book is Broken Hearted Ghoul, out on Tuesday, March 4th!
Read an excerpt here:

"Having read Undead By Morning, I was anxious to see where Skye Mertz would go in her first full-length novel. Well, this book does not disappoint. The quirky characters work with this paranormal mystery. This fun read is a fast-paced page-turner. I love that we get to see Skye’s home life and her love for her daughter. Skye’s mother–in-law Addie (who just happens to be a ghost) helps raise Kate. I must confess this is the first novel I have read that has zombies. Joyce and Jim Lavene have me saying – write faster – I need the next in this enchanting new series. So if you like your mystery with a paranormal edge, then you should be reading Broken Hearted Ghoul." ~ Cheryl Green