Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Harvest Tart

Made this last night.

Take a pizza crust, or make one yourself.

Slice some mushrooms and cook them in butter (margarine) until they've given off their moisture and are dry again. Dice some cooked sweet potato. Spread a little garlic-flavored olive oil on the pizza crust. Add the mushrooms and sweet potatoes, and top with Feta cheese. Bake at 400-450 until the crust is browned.

Was it good? Oh, my, yes!

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

Will You Make This For Me...Anyone?

Okay, so I found this cake on Pinterest, and it looks fabulous! But it also looks hard to make. Besides that, I'm the only one in my family who likes pistachios. So, if you know Irvin (this recipe came from his blog, Eat the Love), please ask him to invite me over (wherever "over" is) the next time he makes this...or if he'd prefer, he can simply make this and ship me a slice...or two.) Then again, LISA HALL is quite the little baker.... Just sayin'. :)

Chocolate Rolled Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Chopped Pistachios

Cake Batter
2 cups (280 g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 oz (85 g) bittersweet chocolate (preferably something over 65% cacao), chopped into 1/4 inch chunks
3/4 cup (170 g or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup (200 g) white granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup (165 g) dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 cup buttermilk, well shaken
Brown Sugar Buttercream
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup (165 g) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons (255 g or 2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not cold
To assemble
3/4 cup (105 g) chopped unsalted pistachio nuts (if you can only find salted nuts, omit the salt in the buttercream)

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray a 12 x 17 rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray too.
2. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a balloon whisk, vigorously stir the dry ingredients until they are well blended together. Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds on high. Stir and microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate is melted, heating the chocolate in additional 15 second intervals in the microwave if necessary.
3. Place the butter and 3/4 of the white sugar (reserving the other 1/4 for later) and all of the brown sugar in the bowl of standing mixer and cream until the butter is light and creamy (about 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the temperature of the butter). You may want to scrape down the side of the bowl in the middle. Scoop up two or three tablespoons of the whipped butter and fold it into the melted chocolate until incorporated. Scrape the chocolate into the butter and beat the mixture on low speed until the chocolate is incorporated. Add two egg yolks and beat to incorporate. Scrape down the sides and add the second two egg yolks and beat to incorporate. Add the vanilla and almond extract and beat to incorporate.
4. Add 1/2 cup of the buttermilk to the batter and beat to incorporate. Add 1/2 of the dry ingredients and beat to incorporate. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk and remaining dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between additions. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites on medium high speed until they form soft peaks. Slowly pour the reserved 1/4 cup white sugar into the whipped egg whites until the whites become glossy and hold stiff peaks. Add half of the egg whites to the cake batter and fold gently to incorporate. Add the rest of the egg whites, folding to incorporate.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly over the pan. Bake the cake for 22 to 27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake feels firm to the touch. Let cool completely in the pan before assembly the cake.
6. Once the cake has cooled, make the buttercream frosting by placing the egg whites, brown sugar and salt in the metal bowl of a standing mixer. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk by hand the egg whites until the sugar and salt have dissolved and the temperature reaches 160˚F (warm to the touch). Pull the bowl off the water and place in the stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Reduce the speed to medium and beat for an additional 5 to 6 minutes until the egg whites have cooled and are fluffy. Switch out the whisk attachment for the paddle attachment and turn the speed to medium low. Add 2  tablespoon of the butter at a time, waiting for the butter to incorporate before adding more butter. Continue to beat all the butter into the frosting. Once the butter has all been added, reduce the speed to low and beat for an additional 2 to 3 minutes to smooth the buttercream and get rid of any air bubbles. If the buttercream looks like it is broken, turn the speed to medium high and beat for a minute or two to bring it back together.
7. Assemble the cake by first placing the cake with the long side facing you. First trim 1/2 inch off the edges on the left and right to make a proper rectangle. Cut the cake in half with a serrated knife, making two 12 x 8 inch rectangles. Further split each rectangle in half again, to make four 12 x 4 inch rectangles. Lift the cake up and cut the parchment paper underneath the cake, right where you cut the cake, so the parchment paper is also split with the cakes. Spread about half the buttercream over the cake and then sprinkle 1/2 cup of the chopped pistachios over the frosting evenly.
8. Roll the first strip of cake by tucking the cake into the roll and continuing to roll tightly, peeling the parchment paper as you tuck and roll. Place the rolled cake upright in the middle of the serving platter so you can see the roll on top. Then take the second strip of cake and wrap it around the first rolled piece of cake. Continue with the third and fourth piece, wrapping the cake around each other in a spiral pattern. You might have to trim some of the cake off to make it fit properly in the end, but don’t worry too much about it. Once you’ve rolled all the cake, frost the outside of the cake with the remaining frosting, making sure to leave the top of the cake exposed for everyone to see. If you want to get fancy you can use a cake comb around the outside of the cake but don’t feel like that’s necessary. Sprinkle some of the remaining chopped pistachios on top of the cake, where the frosting is, to help cover up some of the big holes and gaps in the cake roll, and then gently press the remaining chopped pistachios at the bottom of the cake about an inch up. Serve immediately or keep it in the fridge for up to three or four days, bringing to room temperature before serving.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What We Et

So we went to a convention, and the women I roomed with are as cheap as I am, so we took our own food.

I bought a small beef roast from a local farmer. Wait. That didn't sound right. The farmer is local, and he sold me a roast, but the roast CAME FROM a bovine. Okay, now that's clear.

I browned it and put it in a Dutch oven. I half-covered the roast in Burgundy wine, salted it, and tucked some braised onions, rosemary, and parsley around it.

I put a sheet of cooking parchment on top of the beef, then covered the Dutch oven. Baked it at 350 for 3 hours, then put some mushrooms in with it and cooked it for another 30 minutes. Yummmmmmmm.

No pictures, because you know why? WE ET IT ALL.

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

White Chicken Lasagna Rollups

White Chicken Lasagna Rollups

  • 8 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 cups Alfredo sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (rotisserie chicken works well)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese + ½ cup, divided
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: fresh parsley, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Lay cooked lasagna noodles out in a single layer on a clean work surface ( for easy clean up use a baking sheet).
  3. In a bowl combine chicken, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1 cup parmesan cheese, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
  4. Spread about ¼ cup of chicken mixture onto each of the lasagna noodles. Roll noodles up tightly.
  5. Pour 1 cup of Alfredo sauce into bottom of baking dish. Place each lasagna roll up side by side in the baking dish. Pour remaining Alfredo sauce over roll ups. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melty. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired and serve warm.
*recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Movie/Book or Book/Movie?

The movie trailer to GONE GIRL looks sooooo good! As usual, I am two steps behind in pop culture. In other words, I have not read the book. With the movie coming out October 3, do I read the book before the movie; or see the movie before reading the book?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#Vegetarian Reuben Sammich

Don't tell me it can't be a Reuben sandwich without the corned beef. Just don't, okay?


Most of the goodness of a sammich is in the trappings, I think, which I discovered the time I made a BLT and thought, "WOW! This is the best BLT ever!" and then discovered I had forgotten to put the bacon on it.

So, when I got a taste for a Reuben, I made this:
It's rye bread, homemade mayonnaise, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and spicy honey French dressing. Grilled, o' course.


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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Something Hot and Spicy

Bet THIS PIC woke you up! Now on to the recipe...which is slightly less hot and spicy than the yummy William Levy.

Spicy Chicken Spaghetti


1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts                            
1 lb  Velveeta cheese, regular or Mexican                            
1 can Rotel tomatoes, regular or hot                            
1 lb spaghetti pasta                            
1 stick butter                            
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted                            
medium onion, chopped                            
bell pepper, red or green, chopped                            
salt and pepper to taste


Boil chicken breasts in a large pot adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper to water.            
Remove chicken when completely done, about 10 to 12 minutes.            
Boil spaghetti pasta in remaining broth according to package directions. Drain pasta after done and discard water. Set aside the pasta...Do not rinse.
Melt the butter in that same (empty) pot and sauté the onion and bell pepper.
Add tomatoes, soup, cooked chicken (cut into bite-size pieces) and spaghetti to the sautéed onion mixture, one at a time, and gently mix together.            
Add cheese and stir together, mixing well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat until cheese is melted thoroughly, stirring occasionally to keep from scorching.
SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a salad and hot garlic bread.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Magic is Back!

After years of blending up smoothies, guacamole and frappes, my Magic Bullet stopped working. When I realized my handy husband could not repair my Magic Bullet, I knew it was time to get another one. (another Magic Bullet; not another husband) As if the stars aligned at my command, Target ran a Magic Bullet promotion this week. Now I have a new Magic Bullet and a $10 Target gift card!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Soft and Easy One-Pot Meal

I just had a molar extracted, and had to eat soft food for a few days. I also didn't feel like fixing anything elaborate, but I wanted to cook something because I enjoy making food.

This is what I came up with.
I cooked egg noodles, drained them, and added some butter. Dumped in a can of cream of chicken soup and a can of peas. Salt and pepper to taste. I intended to use cream of mushroom soup, but I bought cream of chicken by mistake, so, you know, waste not want not.

It was actually quite tasty, and soft enough to suit the purpose.

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Current Read

My tastes can be so passé and mainstream! I am reading (and loving) yet another John Grisham novel. Actually, it is a condensed REDERS DIGEST EDITION of THE STREET LAWYER. Michael is on a fast track. He is working non-stop to move his way up in a hugely successful law firm. Things change when he unexpectedly becomes entrenched in the plight of the homeless. This book is just plain John Grisham awesome!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stuffed Soup

I've been suffering with a toothache lately, and Charlie has been taking good care of both of us, putting food on the table.

This is one of his favorites, and it's one of mine, too.

He just heats up a can of cream of celery soup and sprinkles packaged stuffing mix into it.

It's sort of like croutons, only not.
I think we got onto this kick by putting some leftover stuffing into the soup, and gradually simplified to just putting the stuffing mix in and letting it make itself in the hot liquid.

Whatever; it's a quick and easy tasty little treat.

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