murder by chanceMy name is Betty Chance and I am one of the owners of Take A Chance Tours. If I’m not on the lookout for her, that silly author Pat Dennis will try to sneak a ride today on our tour bus. It’s true what you’ve heard about her, she’s eccentric. She wears only animal prints and carries a vinyl rhinestone decorated tote bag. She sits in the back of the bus and takes notes on everything I do or say.

And when you’re a broke, fifty something-year old woman whose husband left you for an older, fatter woman, you do and say a lot. Acting as a tour host on our casino junkets, I am always chatting with my riders. Then there’s the fact no matter where I go, I keep finding a dead body, or two.

Actually, I guess I should have written “when you’re a FORMERLY broke ….” Right now, my finances are looking good, thanks to Take A Chance Tours. How did I, Betty Chance, manage to become a successful business owner when my ex-husband left me floundering in debt? Simple. I followed Oprah’s advice to ‘do what you love and the money will follow.’ For me, that meant two things — playing penny slots and visiting all-you-can-eat buffets.

Of course, I realize you can’t actually earn money at a slot machine or by playing bingo. I needed a reliable income, not one that only happened if the odds were in my favor. The money in a casino is made by the folks who run it, or by those who delivered people to the casino’s front doors. So, along with my niece Lori, I opened Take A Chance Tours, specializing in gambling junkets across the country.

Today’s Take A Chance tour is heading to a casino in Wisconsin. The forty-four seat bus is filled with bubbly senior citizens. Our driver is Tillie McFinn. She’s a petite, buxom gal who fancies extra-terrestrials, Dolly Parton strength hair spray, and mystery novels. She’s also an ex-con.

Tillie likes to comment that I come from the kind of family that arrests her kind of family. It’s true. My dad, uncles and ex-husband were all policemen. Even my son chose to be a Chicago cop. Is it any wonder that I turned out be an amateur sleuth? Good thing I am, because of all those dead bodies I mentioned earlier. It just seems to be easier to find the murderer on my own. Why wait for a man to do it?

Our destination this morning is only a four-hour drive from Chicago. The bus is filled to the max with bubbly, senior citizens. Along the way we’ll play bingo and Trivial Pursuit. If I have time, I might even work on my blog.

That’s the other thing I do for money. I write buffetbetty.com. On the site, I review casino buffets, and share tales of gambling and what happens on our tours. I also recreate the goodies I eat on our trips and share my knock-off recipes. The blog is so popular, my clients started posting recipes, or they’re sharing their own gambling stories. My frequent rider, Theresa Weir aka Anne Frasier, posted a wonderful tale about her grandmother’s poker playing. Writer Marilyn Victor’s post included a delicious recipe for Wake Up Healthy Muffins. I have to admit, I find it kind of funny that authors like to take a chance as much as I do. But from what they tell me, writing anything these days is a gamble.

And here’s a treat! Marilyn Victor said if I gave her one of my two for one buffet coupons, I could share her scrumptious recipe with you. Enjoy!

Wake Up Healthy Muffins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1 cup sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup ground flax
½ cup wheat germ or wheat bran
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup Craisins
1 large apple, peeled and grated
1 cup (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, well drained
2 cups grated carrots
½ cup dates
3 large eggs
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the Craisins, apple, pineapple, carrots and dates and stir to combine.
In a separate bowl cream the butter with the eggs and vanilla (when short on time I sometimes just melt the butter, but let it cool before adding eggs). Add to the dry ingredients and blend well.

Spoon batter into muffin tins lined with muffin liners, filling each to the brim (these muffins do not rise much). Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

These muffins are delicious warm out of the oven, but are even better the next day. As they are very moist be careful not to under bake.


Pat is giving a copy of her book HOTDISH TO DIE FOR, a collection of culinary mystery short stories and hotdish recipes to the commenter who writes the funniest but true post about gambling.


Meet the author
Pat Dennis is the author Murder by Chance and Hotdish To Die For, a collection of culinary mystery short stories and hotdish recipes. Her work is included in Anne Frasier’s Deadly Treats, Who Died in Here? Resort to Murder, Silence of the Loons, Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem and Malice, Once Upon A Crime Anthology, Hotdish Haiku and more. Visit her at patdennis.com or buffetbetty.com.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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