Vision Muffins

vision muffins

Vision is totally my favorite character from the film, and for some reason muffins is what immediately came to mind when I was brainstorming food ideas. I have no idea why. And to get that beautiful magenta/deep pink color of Vision’s face, there is no other ingredient better than a beet.

Vision Inspired Beet Muffins

Adapted from a recipe on Journal Sentinel

  • 1/2 Cup Beet Puree (about 1 medium beet)*
  • 1/4 Cup Butter, melted
  • 1 Egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/3 Cup Buttermilk (or 1 tsp. lemon juice + enough milk to make 1/3 cup, let sit for abt. 5 mins)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Essence
  • 1 Tbsp. Orange Juice Concentrate (optional)
  • 1 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • Turbinado Sugar (raw sugar)
  • Dried Pineapple Tidbits

*To make the beet puree, preheat your oven to 375ºF & wash & pat dry the beet. Wrap in foil & place on the middle oven rack. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until a knife can easily pierce it. Unwrap it (careful! It’s hot!) & then let it cool completely. Rub/peel off the skin & cut it into small chunks, & then puree well in a food processor.

In a large bowl, whisk together the puree, butter, egg, sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, & optional orange juice concentrate. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Next, stir the dry into the wet just until combined. Line a muffin pan with baking cups (preferably yellow) & fill the cups about 2/3 full with batter. Sprinkle the tops lightly with turbinado/raw sugar.

Using your fingers, squish & reshape 12 pineapple tidbits into a sort of rounded diamond/pointed oval & place 1 each at the top edge of the unbaked muffins. Slide the pan into the oven, middle rack, & bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the pan & let cool on a cooling rack. To continue The Vision’s color scheme, drop the muffins into green baking cups (to me, green on the outside & yellow on the inside looks more appealing than vise-versa).

vision muffin bite
Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 14: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

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Scarlet Witch’s Brew


For our Avengers: Age of Ultron episode I wanted to come up with something for my favorite, character, Scarlet Witch. Borchst seemed perfect – vibrantly red (ok, magenta), with eastern European roots, and lots of witchy herbs.

I’m a big fan of beets, and often roast a bunch on the weekend and use them throughout the week in salads, soups, pilafs, etc. I talked about it on the podcast, but the easiest way to do beets is to wash, trim, drizzle with olive oil then wrap them in foil to roast whole, then peel off the skin once they are soft – it’s way easier than trying to peel/chop/grate them raw, which is a miserable pain that will thoroughly dye your hands and cutting board.

A few of the correspondences of ingredients that might be interesting to Scarlet Witch – I mentioned some on the podcast, but here they are plus a few more:

  • Beets – beauty, love, rebirth
  • Celery, Bay Leaf, Oregano, Carrots – psychic powers
  • Onions – protection
  • Cabbage – luck
  • Garlic, Thyme, Dill – strength, courage
  • Rosemary – memory
  • Butter – reconciliation (hmm, maybe that could help her becoming an Avenger!)

Referenced: Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs as well as this list on Kitchen Witch Corner.

Scarlet Witch’s Brew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, chopped
  • 1 bunch (3-4 medium) beets, cleaned, trimmed, roasted, peeled, and chopped
  • 4-5 tomatoes, chopped, or one can
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 8 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water
  • your choice of herbs, fresh or dried – definitely recommend bay leaf and a handful of finely chopped dill! I also used a good sprinkle of Herbs de Provence which I usually have on hand, it has a mix of herbs like thyme, basil, marjoram and oregano – this is less “borschty” but more witchy 🙂
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • sour cream, more chopped dill to serve

Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Cook onion until thoroughly golden (but be careful not to burn). Add garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook for a minute or two (until garlic looses its raw smell), then add cabbage and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until cabbage is very soft. Add beets and tomatoes, the paprika, and another sprinkle of salt, and cook until tomatoes have completely broken down, are reduced and somewhat jammy.

Puree the whole vegetable mixture in a blender with a cup of water or chicken broth (you will likely have to do this in batches). Return to the pot and add the rest of the water or broth, plus the herbs. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh dill.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 14: Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Avengers: Age of Ultron

avengers age of ultron

We are ready for our green smoothies now, please.

Diana and Carrie discuss the action-packed Marvel movie including Thor’s magic juice, Black Widow’s burden, showing vs. telling…and apparently when we think Avengers, we think beets??

*Correction from Diana: Oh my gosh, guys! Listening to this again (starting at 64:18) I realize that it sounds like I’m saying I’m glad when my husband is away. No way! I’m just really good at making messes is all :).

*Edit from Carrie: don’t worry, we knew what you meant! 🙂



The music in this episode is from the “Avengers: Age of Ultron” soundtrack by Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman.

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Queen of Hearts Tarts


The Queen of Heart’s stolen tarts cause a lot of drama in Alice in Wonderland, including a wacky trial and much threat of beheading. You can enjoy these with a very calm and reasonable afternoon tea – as long as you remember to paint them red!!

I made a strawberry curd similar to the lemon curd that I used for Sansa’s Lemoncakes, and topped that with a slice of strawberry and some bright red strawberry glaze. On the podcast I mentioned that if I had it to do again, I would probably either just put the glaze in a thin layer, or else forgo the glaze and pile them up a little more with strawberries brushed with a simple syrup – either I think would be good. However, after a day or two of leftovers, my heart softened to this style (I put less cornstarch than most recipes, so it’s not so gelatinous), so a couple of slices with glaze is also an option.

The strawberry curd and strawberry glaze recipes below make WAY more than you will need for these mini tarts, so you also have some options there – either make a large tart instead of mini tarts, halve the recipes, or else just enjoy the leftovers. Recommendation for extra strawberry curd: spread on top of muffins, toast or bagels. Recommendation for extra strawberry glaze: stirred into plain yogurt or poured on top of pancakes (along with some fresh strawberries of course). I’m sure you can think of more!

Queen of Hearts Tarts

For the dough
Adapted from Sandra Gutierrez’s Butter Pie Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Butter a mini muffin tin (or mini tart pan if you possess such a thing).

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, sugar, orange zest, and butter, until the mixture looks grainy. Add in just enough water that when combined it makes a dough. Turn out onto a floured board or counter, and roll about 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut circles (I used the top of a mason jar) and press them into the prepared muffin tin, making as nice an edge as you can manage. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge at least 30 minutes.

For the strawberry curd
Adapted from Ina Garten

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 eggs
  • juice of 1 lemon and half an orange
  • 1/4 cup pureed strawberries
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Cream the butter, then beat in the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs one by one. In a blender, combine lemon and orange juices, strawberries, and salt and blend thoroughly. Press through a fine mesh strainer then combine with butter/sugar mixture.

Pour into a saucepan and cook VERY SLOWLY over low heat, stirring, until thickened (10 minutes or so, mine took longer – it will thicken just below boiling point). Remove from heat and cool completely.

For the strawberry glaze

  • 1 heaping cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

(Full disclosure, I sliced the strawberries and let them sit in sugar for 10 minutes beforehand to release the juices – it’s all going the same place though so this might have been unnecessary). Blend strawberries, sugar, and 3/4 cup water and push through a fine mesh strainer into a sauce pan. Cook on medium low heat, stirring, until thicken, then remove from heat.

To finish
Prick the pie crusts and bake in a 350° oven until golden brown. (You’ll just bake the crusts, not the filling). Remove from the oven and spoon half to 3/4 full of lemon curd, then top with your choice of just glaze, or strawberries (slices or halves) brushed with glaze. Cool completely. You can store them in the fridge.

Serve with barely sweetened yogurt or whipped cream.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 13: Alice in Wonderland

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Pepper Cookies

Pepper Cookies v
Inspired by the chapter “Pig and Pepper” in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in which the Duchess’ angry cook makes a soup of pepper, pepper, pepper! and throws pots and pans around. In lieu of making pepper soup, I thought these intriguing cookies, introduced to me by my cousin Joe (thanks, Joe!) who found the recipe from James Thresher in The Washington Post, would be perfect for any Wonderland gathering. And let’s remember, when asked what tarts are made of, Cook responded “pepper mostly” and so, it’s a matter of course that if asked what cookies are made of, she’d say the same.

Cook’s Pepper CookiesCook illustration

  • 8 Tbsp. Butter, room temperature
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground White Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. Ground Cayenne
  • 1 Egg, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. Milk
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • Medium Grind Black Pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Dark Chocolate (I used 70% cacao)

In a large bowl, mix the butter & sugar until fully incorporated & fluffy. Add the baking powder & spices on low speed & then add in the egg & milk. Next, add in the flour, a little at a time, continuing to mix on low, until everything is incorporated & a nice dough forms. Divide the dough in half &, wraping both halves in plastic wrap, shape them into chunky logs about 6″ long (optional: If you have an empty paper towel roll/tube, slice it open up one side & place the logs inside; this will help them keep their shape. If you’re not able to do this, it’s no big deal). Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 4 hours or over night (I put mine in the freezer for maybe an hour & a half).

Heat your oven to 375ºF. Stack 2 large trays together & line the top with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge &, using a large sharp knife, slice the logs into 1/4″ thick discs (reshaping as needed). Place the discs about 1″ apart on the tray & sprinkle them with a little course ground black pepper (optional). Bake for about 8-9 minutes or until their bottoms are just beginning to brown. Let them cool for a minute & then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

In a small heat proof bowl, melt the chocolate in your microwave at 30 second intervals until smooth (add a teeny tiny amount of EZ-Dipping Aide/paramount crystals or canola oil or crisco to make the chocolate more smooth if needed). Dip a portion of each cookie into the chocolate, however you’d like to design it; 1/3, 1/2, all sides, etc, & then lay them on a sheet of parchment for the chocolate to harden. Store in an airtight container with waxed or parchment paper between the cookie layers.

Pepper cookies face

Angry faces! If you want to make angry cook cookies, use a toothpick dipped in chocolate.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 13: Alice in Wonderland

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Alice in Wonderland

Alice Tea Party color

`Have some wine,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea.
`I don’t see any wine,’ she remarked.
`There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.
`Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,’ said Alice angrily.
`It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,’ said the March Hare.


Diana and Carrie discuss Lewis Carroll’s delightfully nonsensical novel, the 1951 Disney adaptation, and several others.

Join us! For what use is a book without pictures or conversation?



The music in this episode is (intro) “All in the Golden Afternoon” by Sammy Fain and (outro) “The Un-Birthday Song” by Mack David, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston, both songs from the 1951 “Alice in Wonderland” film.

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