Cinder-inspired Mini Cupcakes

Cinder cupcakes

Inspired by Cinder’s mechanic profession and partial cyborg body, these red velvet cupcakes, made rich with chocolate pudding and creamy, slightly zing-y frosting, are decked out with special gear and nut (like “nuts & bolts” nuts) sprinkles by The Geeky Hostess (available here). The cupcakes and frosting are based on recipes from The Dainty Apron and Wicked Good Kitchen respectively.

 Cinder-inspired Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

  • Cupcakes
  • 1/2 of a 16.5 oz package of Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1/2 of a 3.9 oz package of Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream (I didn’t have any so used 1/2 Cup Vanilla Yogurt + 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda. Cool reaction!)
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Frosting
  • 1 Cup Butter, just room temperature
  • 1 8 oz pkg Cream Cheese
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 4 – 4 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Lemon or Orange Zest
  • 1/4 tsp. Fresh Minced Ginger (optional)
  • Silver Decorating Sugar
  • Steampunk Geeky Sprinkles

Cupcakes: Heat your oven to 350ºF. Grease a mini muffin pan with crisco. In a karge mixing bowl mix all of the ingredients on medium speed until combined. Scoop about 2 tsp. of the batter into each muffin cup & then bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven & let cool for a minute before placing the cupcakes onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy, & then add the cream cheese & vanilla & beat on high speed until fully incorporated & fluffy. Lower the speed & gradually add the powdered sugar in increments until it’s to your taste. Increase the speed for a minute or 2 to fluff. Spoon the frosting into a decorating/piping bag with a medium opening & pipe a thick spiral onto each cooled cupcake. Lightly sprinkle with silver decorating sugar & gear/nut sprinkles & voila! Fun to eat with chopsticks–keeps your fingers clean!

Cinder cupcake bite

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 17: Cinder

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Cinder-inspired Tea & Ginger Mocktail

Cinder drink

To go along with the red theme of the Lunar Chronicles covers (each cover has a red object in it) and the various reds and crimsons described in the story, I concocted this easy-to-make drink, great for a Cinder/Lunar Chronicles get together.

 Super Simple Cinder-inspired Mocktail

  • 3 Cups Water
  • 3 Hibiscus Flower Tea Bags (I used Tazo brand that included other ingredients as well)
  • 2 Cups Ginger Ale (I used Segrams brand)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 Cup Vanilla Syrup (I used Torani brand)

Put the water and tea bags in a pot together & bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat & let steep for a few minutes. Squeeze & remove the tea bags with tongs & pour the tea into a large pitcher. Let the tea cool on the counter & then put it in the fridge to chill.

Add the ginger ale & vanilla syrup & stir. Taste test & add more ale or syrup as desired.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 17: Cinder

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Cinder cover w quote

Diana and Carrie discuss the classic Cinderella fairytale –with a futuristic, robotic, cyberpunk twist!– in the Marissa Meyer novel Cinder, first book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

*Correction @ ~5:18: Marissa married her fiancé a few months before the release of Cinder, not after. Oops! But it still stands true that he was an awesome support throughout her touring 🙂



The intro and outro music clips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “In the Morning of the Magicians”, are both by The Flaming Lips.

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Pumpkin Pot Pie

pot pie arial h
This recipe is inspired by the scene in the film in which Cinderella is given a plate of a few left over peas, carrots, and diced potatoes, as well as the pot pie I ate from Denny’s directly after seeing the movie. I included pumpkin puree because, well, pumpkins and the commonly known Cinderella tale go hand in hand!

As discussed in the podcast, Cinderella may be vegetarian (I mean, she can kinda talk to animals so…) so feel free to omit the chicken from the recipe below and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Pumpkin Pot Pie

Pie Crust*:

  • 2 Sticks Butter, diced & chilled
  • 2 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Ice Water


  • 4 Tbsp. Butter, cubed
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Evaporated Milk
  • 2 Cups Broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
  • Pinch of Ground Sage
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Cup Onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Carrot Discs/Coins, ~1/8″ thick
  • 1/2 Can of Peas
  • 3/4 Cup Cubed Potatoes
  • 3/4 Cup Cubed Chicken (optional)

Egg Wash:

  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp. Water

Crust: Freeze 3/4 of the butter pieces on a parchment-line tray & put the rest in the fridge. Combine the flour, salt, & sugar in the food processor & then add in the butter from the fridge & pulse a few times. Next, add the freezer butter & pulse until crumbly. Add the ice water & pulse again until dough forms & sticks together. Ball the dough together & place it on a large sheet of plastic. Loosely cover it with another sheet of plastic & then flatten it uniformly with a rolling pin. Wrap it up & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Filling: In a large pot, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter & whisk in the flour. Add the evaporated milk & whisk to combine. Next, whisk in the broth & pumpkin puree & bring to a boil. Turn off the heat & stir in the rosemary, sage, salt, & pepper. In a separate pot bring the water & carrots to a boil & boil for about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, onions, & optional chicken & boil for another 5 minutes until tender. Drain well & fold into the creamy mixture along with the peas.

Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Roll the dough between the sheets of plastic (unwrapped) to about 1/8″ thick & overturn a medium-large ramekin onto it. Cut the dough around the rim so you end up with a dough circle that fits over your ramekin. This recipe can make about 4 ramekins worth of pot pie so cut more dough circles for your ramekins as needed (alternately, you could make a large, deep-dish pie if you wanted). Scoop the pot pie filling into the individual ramekins & top with the dough circles, curling the dough edges under the ramekin rims. With the left over dough, re roll to 1/8″ or slightly less thickness & cut into various shapes that go along with the film/fairytale like pumpkins, butterflies, high healed shoes, etc. & place those shapes on top of the dough covered ramekins (use a tiny bit of water to help them stick if needed. Whisk the egg & water together to make an egg wash & lightly brush the dough with it. Use a toothpick or small, sharp knife to poke/slice a few patterned openings into the dough (you can see in the photos I made little spirals) & then place the pot pies in the oven & bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. (If you have any more filling left over, simply eat it as a stew or over rice!)

Pie crust recipe from Martha Stewart Test Kitchen

Pot Pie bite
Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 11: Cinderella

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Cinderella Cassoulet


This cassoulet is “authentic” the same way Cinderella is “French” – not really, but I think it definitely catches the spirit.

That means it’s more hearty and simple than fancy fare, and it’s made with common ingredients and suits our modern peasant lifestyle. So no duck, although I eventually want to make this exact dish using duck fat as the cooking oil once I get my hands on some, and it’s fairly quick, so perfect for very busy girls who have to sleep by the fire and wait on their hideous step-families.

I have a great cooking vessel that transfers to the oven, but you could certainly make this stovetop then transfer to a baking dish before you top with breadcrumbs.

Cinderella’s Cassoulet

  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 pound chicken sausage, cut on the bias into large chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (or 3-4 fresh, chopped)
  • 2 15 ounce cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • about 3 slices bread, thoroughly toasted, or about 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • herbs – I used a few sprigs fresh thyme and a pinch of dried oregano, but you can use what you have on hand

Heat a small amount of olive oil on medium high in a heavy-bottomed pot. Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and pepper (just a little salt or the dish will be way too salty by the end), and brown well on both sides. Remove to a plate, and pour off all but a tablespoon or two of the oil. Brown the sausages and remove them to the plate.

Lower the heat to medium and saute the onion with just a sprinkle of salt, until golden brown. Add the garlic, and stir for a minute or two, then add the paprika and stir for a minute. Add the tomatoes with another small sprinkle of salt, and cook, stirring, until they are well broken down. Add the beans, the chicken, and the sausage, and mix well. Add enough water to almost cover the chicken, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or so until the chicken is well cooked through (stir occasionally and lower heat if necessary to keep from burning). Remove the lid, taste and adjust seasoning. Cook for a few minutes uncovered to thicken the sauce up if necessary.

While the chicken is cooking, in a food processor blitz the bread into breadcrumbs, and add herbs, a small pinch of salt, and a couple tablespoons olive oil.

Heat broiler. Smooth the chicken and beans mixture evenly and sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. Heat under the broiler just a few minutes, until breadcrumbs are nice and brown.

Serve hot!

I referenced a couple of great recipes on Serious Eats:

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 11: CINDERELLA

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Cinderella shares her dinner with her little friends.

Diana and Carrie discuss Disney’s new 2015 movie, Cinderella, the original animated film, as well as Cinderella stories from all over the world! We talk pumpkins, kindness = vegetarianism, practical meanies vs. gentlehearted non-planners, talking fish, gifting trees, and comfortable footwear.



PS The star of the movie as far as Carrie is concerned.

Cinderella_2015_41 (1)

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