Award-Winning Author ~ Editor ~ Writing Instructor

My latest yummy...Elfin French Toast Muffins
as served in
MAGICAL ALIENATION

1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
1⁄2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla, plus 1⁄4 teaspoon for maple syrup drizzle icing
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1⁄2 cup cinnamon chips
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
1/4 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream 1 cup sugar into butter. Add eggs, vanilla, sour cream and blend. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda, and gently work into wet ingredients. Fold in cinnamon chips. Pour 1/3 cup into a paper muffin liners in a muffin pan. Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Blend together maple extract, powdered sugar, milk and 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla. Drizzle icing over top of cooled muffins or spread with knife. Makes 12 large or 18 medium muffins.

 

Here's a great mystery-related recipe Fit-for-a-Goddess French Toast, from
HIGH CRIMES ON THE MAGICAL PLANE

Fit-for-a-Goddess French Toast

6 oz mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts
6 slices cinnamon swirl bread from the supermarket (day old)
3 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons butter
Maple syrup
Mix together mascarpone cheese, sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, walnuts and 1-2 tablespoons of half-and-half (enough to make it spread easily). Spread 2 oz. of mixture on one slice of cinnamon bread. Press a second slice of bread to the cheese mixture to form a sandwich. Make up remaining sandwiches. In a flat-bottom bowl, whip together eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and remaining half-and-half. Soak both sides of the sandwiches in the egg mixture. Melt the butter in a nonstick skillet. Cook the sandwiches for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden. Cut sandwiches on a diagonal. Serve with warm maple syrup. Makes 3 servings.

 

Here's the first of my recipes, my Bailey's Irish Cream Tiramisu, a dish that's served in my novel, REVENGE OF THE GYPSY QUEEN.

Bailey's Irish Cream Tiramisu, as served in REVENGE OF THE GYPSY QUEEN

1 lb. mascarpone cheese
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
2 medium egg yolks (or equivalent egg substitute)
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Bailey's Irish Cream
1 lb. Italian (imported) ladyfingers
3 cups cold, strong coffee
3/4 cup shaved semisweet chocolate
Stir together mascarpone cheese, vanilla, egg yolks, cream and Bailey's Irish Cream in a large bowl until well blend. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Coat the bottom of a deep 9 x 9 inch pan with a thick layer of the cheese mixture. QUICKLY dip the ladyfingers in the coffee and place in the pan to form one layer. Spared a layer of the cheese blend, sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Repeat process until all the ladyfingers are used, reserving some of the cheese mixture. Top with remaining cheese mixture and sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Chill 5 hours of overnight. Makes 8 servings.
Note: Imported Italian ladyfingers are firmer and drier than the variety in the US. US ladyfingers or small pieces of sponge cake or pound cake may be substituted. If such a substitution is made, don't dip the fingers in coffee, but paint the coffee on with a pastry brush, to prevent them from falling apart.




One of my personal favorites, which I used as a take-out dish in
REVENGE FOR OLD TIMES' SAKE

Tracy’s Favorite Chicken & Mushroom Crepes

2 tbsp vegetable oil + 2 tbsp oil for baking pan
8 tbsp butter
1⁄2 cup of flour
11⁄4 cups of milk
11⁄4 cups of chicken broth
1⁄4 cup chopped shallots
3⁄4 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1⁄4 cup dry sherry
salt and pepper
1⁄4 cup Parmesan cheese
8 packaged crepes (can often be found in the produce section of your supermarket - homemade crepes or Filo dough cut to resemble a crepe can be substituted)


Sauté shallots in oil until translucent. Stir in chicken and mushrooms, cook 3-4 minutes. In a separate pan, stir flour into melted butter, season with salt and pepper. Stir until the flour becomes golden. Whisk in milk, sherry and broth. Bring to a boil. Set aside 1⁄2 cup of sauce. Mix remaining sauce into chicken mixture. Put 1/8 of chicken mixture into the center of each crepe. Fold over and put folded side down in an oiled baking dish. Spread reserved sauce over the top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Serves 4.



My recipe for Tomato-Basil Pesto and Four Cheese Lasagna has appeared with a few of my short stories.

TOMATO-BASIL PESTO AND FOUR-CHEESE LASAGNA

To make the sauce, combine together in a food processor:
2 cups tightly packed basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
3 cloves garlic
Process well, scraping mixture off the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add:
1/4 cup pine nuts
Process until nuts are chopped into small pieces. Do not over-process; the nuts should be visible.
By hand, chop 2 cups of drained canned tomatoes into small pieces. Stir tomato pieces into the pesto.
To make the filling, mix together in a large mixing bowl:
16 ounces soft Ricotta cheese
1/2 grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
2 extra large eggs, beaten well
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste
To assemble:
Spread a little of the pesto on the bottom of a square or rectangular baking dish. Using no-bake lasagna noodles, cover the bottom of the pan with the first noodle. Spread 1/4 of the cheese mixture evenly over the noodle. Dribble a small amount of pesto evenly over the cheese. Repeat until all the cheese mixture has been spread between lasagna noodle layers, and about 2/3-3/4 of the pesto has been used. Cover final cheese layer with a lasagna noodle. Pour the remaining pesto over the top lasagna noodle, covering completely.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees. Remove foil and sprinkle 1/4 cup grated Mozzarella over the top. Bake for an additional 1/2 hour, or until the center is hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and wait at least 5 minutes to let cheese set before cutting.



This next recipe is one my husband learned from his late mother, which was published in Desserticide: aka Desserts Worth Dying For, a publication of the Los Angeles chapter of Sisters in Crime. My mother-in-law just called this recipe "Ice Box Cake," but Joe renamed it after her and gave it a crime-related twist, calling it…



Merfisa's Cosa Nostra Confection

2 large packages of vanilla pudding (cooked variety; not instant)
Milk as needed, according to package instructions
Graham crackers
Whipped cream
Prepare pudding according to the directions on the package. Line the bottom of a loaf pan or rectangular casserole dish with graham crackers. Spread a layer of cooked pudding over the crackers. Alternate layers of pudding and graham crackers, ending with an open pudding layer. Crumble graham crackers over the final pudding layer. Refrigerate until very cold. Cut into thin slices, like a torte. Serve with whipped topping.
Variations: Use different flavor puddings, cinnamon graham crackers, or finely-chopped nuts or chocolate shavings on the pudding layers.



Here are another couple from Desserticide: Desserts Worth Dying For:

Baneful Bread and Butter Pudding with Last Gasp Sauce

8 slices French bread
3 tablespoons butter or margerine
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash salt
2 1/4 cups milk, scalded
1/4 cup Irish Cream liqueur
Last Gasp Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Toast slices lightly and butter one side. Mix together cinnamon, brown sugar, chopped nuts and chocolate chips, and sprinkle on buttered side of toast. Press slices of bread together, forming four sandwiches. Cut off crusts, then cut into rectangular strips. Arrange strips in casserole. Blend eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, salt and liqueur. Gradually stir in scalded milk. Pour mixture over bread. Place casserole in a pan of very hot water (1-inch deep) and bake for 65-70 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve pudding warm or cold with Last Gasp Sauce.

Last Gasp Sauce

6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
Irish Cream liqueur to taste
Cream butter and sugar. Cook in double boiler until sugar is well dissolved. Partially cool and add egg. Whip quickly so egg doesn’t curdle. Cool and add liqueur to taste. Whip before serving and pour over pudding.



Amaretto Swoon Cheesecake

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and ground
1/4 cup (half stick) butter, melted
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup + 4 tablespoons Amaretto
4 ounces almond paste
2 tablespoons flour
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan.
Allow cream cheese to soften at room temperature. Combine graham cracker crumbs, ground almonds, butter, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon Amaretto. Press crust mixture on bottom and up the sides of the pan. Refrigerate crust until cold. Combine almond paste, 1/3 cup sugar, and flour. Beat until smooth. Add 1/3 cup Amaretto and beat. Add softened cream cheese, one package at a time, and beat in. Add one egg at a time and beat. Beat well until smooth. Pour batter into chilled crust. Bake 45-50 minutes. Cheesecake will not be fully set in center.
While cheesecake bakes, blend together sour cream, 3 tablespoons Amaretto, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Spread mixture over baked cheesecake. Return to oven for 20 minutes or until center is firm. Cool at room temperature on rack for one hour, then refrigerate in pan for four hours. To serve, remove sides of spring-form pan and garnish with sliced almonds.