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pita, homemade, pita bread, pockets, falafel, hummus, israel, israeli, mediterranean, jewish, easy, simple

After getting back from Israel this summer, I was thrilled to discover it wasn’t that hard to find decent falafel, hummus, and even shawarma if you knew the right places to look. However, locating perfectly poofy pitas that could hold a pound of food without cracking or ripping proved to be nearly impossible.

So my fiancé and I rolled up our sleeves one afternoon and made our own from scratch, surprising ourselves with how easy it is. And there’s nothing better than fresh, straight-out-of-the-oven pitas.

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pita, homemade, pita bread, pockets, falafel, hummus, israel, israeli, mediterranean, jewish, easy, simple ...continue reading

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hummus, home made, chick pea, tahini, garlic, lemon, Israel, Israeli, Mediterranean, Jewish, KosherYeah, yeah. We know you went to Israel, Sarah. Will you shut up about it already?

No I will not. Not until I finish posting these recipes for awesome Jewish/Mediterranean/Israeli food. I already shared the shukshuka, and now I'm going to share two in a row. Because, really, what is homemade hummus without homemade pita bread?

Both recipes are so incredibly simple, I swear you're going to laugh. There's no excuse for buying premade stuff (except for laziness, which is always a viable excuse for me), but after you taste the homemade stuff and experiment with spices and flavors, the tubs will lose their appeal.

Now, there are a billion hummus recipes on the internet, but this one is special to me because it was the recipe on the back of the business card for our Israel Experts group coordinator, Erez. He was a funny guy, and he told us his favorite brand of Israeli beer and gave us chocolate, so I figured he knew what he was doing as far as hummus went.

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hummus, home made, chick pea, tahini, garlic, lemon, Israel, Israeli, Mediterranean, Jewish, Kosher ...continue reading

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Thanks to my awesomesauce fiance for fixing my computer and figuring out why my photos weren't uploading! I can go back to regular posting, including getting through this big backlog of recipes. shukshuka, shakshuka, shakshouka, israeli, jewish, eggs, tomatoes, garlic, poached, breakfast, hot, spicy

Being in Israel this summer opened me up to so many new culinary flavors and opportunities, while also reminding me that no matter what, there are some things I will always find repulsive. Cucumbers, being one of those things. And tomatoes.

Or so I thought, until I tried Shukshuka for lunch. It turns out that when you break down the tomatoes and simmer them with spices and garlic, and then poach a few eggs in it, it doesn't taste like slimy fresh tomatoes.

Not only is shukshuka a fun word to say, but it’s an awesome dish that can be adapted to suit your preferences. The three main ingredients are tomatoes, spices, and eggs. It’s basically eggs poached in tomato sauce, but it makes for a hearty and delicious meal that I never get sick of.

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shukshuka, shakshuka, shakshouka, israeli, jewish, eggs, tomatoes, garlic, poached, breakfast, hot, spicy ...continue reading

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  • I'm paying for my wedding photographer today...using checks from 2005 that have puppy dogs and kitties on them.
  • My to do list has, in three separate and distinct entries, directions for doing laundry:
  1. do laundry
  2. fold laundry
  3. put fucking laundry away
  • I'm wearing batman underwear beneath my fancy work dress
  • I think I'll eat halloween candy for lunch
  • I can't figure out why wordpress isn't letting me upload my pictures so I can finally get rid of the huge backlog of posts I'm sitting on!

so for your amusement, until I can get my shit in order, hang out on buzzfeed.

 

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In Starting from Scratch (which is selling pretty well on Amazon, btw, and has gotten more than a couple emails from happy readers!), there is a scene where Emily finds Maw Maw's spaghetti sauce recipe on the back of an old photograph, and challenges herself to cook it. The recipe tied her story together with her grandmother's, bridging the generation gap a little bit.

I wanted to post a stellar homemade pasta sauce recipe that Maw Maw would be proud of, but I don't have any! And rather than throw together a recipe and claim it's an old family favorite or that I've made it dozens of times to great success, I figured I could gather a bunch of recipes from equally talented bloggers, and let you pick and choose which ones to try.

Top Row:

Pasta All'Amatriciana from Livliftoo
Easy marinara from twopeasandtheirpod 
Fresh tomato sauce from theviewfromgreatisland

Second Row:

Pasta Bolognese from theviewfromgreatisland
Bolognese sauce from tasteloveandnourish
20 minute tomato sauce from runningtothekitchen

Third Row:

Quick and fresh basil tomato sauce from chocolatemoosey
Lemon basil marinara from ingoodtastemag
Spicy 30 minute tomato sauce from nutmegnanny

Bottom Row:

Slow cooker vodka pasta sauce from the frugalfoodiemama
Italian tomato sauce from kitchentreaty
Spaghetti and sausage ragu from ErrensKitchen

Be sure to let the authors know you tried and loved their recipes, let them know you found their link from my site, and don't forget to get your copy of Starting from Scratch!!

smallerbook cover-01

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chocolate, mint, chip, cookie, dough, dip, ice, cream, dessert, eggs, oreos, thin, mints, girl, scout, cookiesIn the spring I discovered, purely by accident, that there is such a thing as cookie dough dip. And I was intrigued.

Then I found a recipe for Mint chocolate chip cookie dough dip, and I knew I had to make it. I mean, what could be better than a dip that reminds you of cookies that reminds you of ice cream? It's pretty great.

Recipe taken directly from Host the Toastchocolate, mint, chip, cookie, dough, dip, ice, cream, dessert, eggs, oreos, thin, mints, girl, scout, cookies ...continue reading

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white, wine, sangria, summer, fall, spring, fruit, fresh, orange, lemon, lime, triple sec, apples, reisling, Riesling, spritewhite, wine, sangria, summer, fall, spring, fruit, fresh, orange, lemon, lime, triple sec, apples, reisling, Riesling, spriteI made this in June, but I had such a hectic summer that I've had almost no time to edit pictures and blog. But, I figured that since this Sangria has apples, It would totally work for fall.

It's very simple to make, and would be perfect for one last summer hurrah. I love Autumn as much as the next person, but it is a little bittersweet knowing that after one month of beautiful weather and that crisp, clean air smell we'll be stuck with about six months of dismal, dreary winter. Blech. 

Unless you live somewhere warm, in which case I hate you, but go ahead and make this Sangria anyway, you lucky jerkface.

 

  • 1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 medium oranges, washed and sliced
  • 1 medium lemon, washed and sliced
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) Riesling or other sweet white wine
  • 1 medium tart apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup triple sec
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • Ice cubes

white, wine, sangria, summer, fall, spring, fruit, fresh, orange, lemon, lime, triple sec, apples, reisling, Riesling, sprite

Squeeze that lemon.white, wine, sangria, summer, fall, spring, fruit, fresh, orange, lemon, lime, triple sec, apples, reisling, Riesling, spriteCut those fruits. ...continue reading

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Starting from Scratch is finally done! I'm so proud of it, and while it wasn't nearly as easy for me to write as Baking Bree, I feel as though I did justice to Emily's story while still retaining the light-hearted humor and steamy romance that made Bree so popular with readers.

You can get it here on Amazon:

smallerbook cover-01

And just like last year, when I posted some Baking Bree inspired recipes, I'm going to cook, photograph, and write about some of the things Emily and Nick eat throughout the book. Starting with my absolute favorite recipe:

Guacamole!!!

guac, guacamole, chipotle, home made, fresh, avocado, hass, cilantro, onion, easy, appetizers, party, spicy, jalapeno, peppers, tomatoes, starting from scratch, baking bree, recipes, Emily, Anderson, Nick, Bree, Sarah West, dip, chip, salsaThere are very few people in the world who don't like guac, and I pity them. I've only been eating it for a few years now, but I'm certainly making up for lost time by eating a lot of it. Like, a lot.  ...continue reading

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On this, the eve of publication of my third (and long-awaited) novel, Starting from Scratch, I figured I needed to post about book reviews.

I don't intend to speak for every author in the world, but there's generally a reason they climb out of bed each morning, shuffle their way into the kitchen and turn on the coffee maker, and then sit in front of their computer screen until they have a headache and they can't feel their butts anymore:

They have an idea for a story, and they can't rest until it's written down. 

Yes, being an author is so charming and quaint and it's such a cool lifestyle, blah blah blah. You can wear hipster glasses and go to coffee shops and drink huge steaming cups of tea. And obviously you'll be rich, right? The reality of it sucks so much more.

You have an idea, great! It's turning that idea into a 300+ page novel with realistic characters, a believable plot, momentum to keep the story moving, mind-blowing sexual tension...that's the difficult part. And I haven't even talked about editing and formatting and re-writing, or any of the other crap that comes after you finish writing.

So why do authors do it? Why did I spend a year and a half writing and re-writing a story that I promised my readers would be out in the Fall of 2013? Why not just give up? It certainly wasn't the book sales from Baking Bree or Passion's Tide. So why do it at all?

"This is truly one of the best books I've read in awhile. I easily found myself engrossed in it and had a hard time putting it down. I found myself saying , "5 more minutes" and looking at the clock thirty minutes later knowing that I needed to put it down and go to sleep. Looking forward to the next book in the series."
"This was such a cute, heartwarming story, and a great read - in fact, I found myself laughing out loud several times at the many comedic moments in the book - totally my sense of humour. Bree's quirky personality was authentic and adorable, and as one who started out learning to cook by burning spaghetti, I loved reading about her misadventures in cooking. I'm definitely looking forward to more books by this author!"
"This is an amazing book! I couldn't put it down. There were a lot of emotions in this book. I was laughing my butt off in lots of it, then there were parts that I was actually really irritated at the characters( the mom and sister). Then times that I felt a tug on my heart. Not all books can do this, but when it happens, it is a wonderful combination. The love story is....wow....I was completely smitten. Can't wait to read the next book about the sister Emily. I will definitely be reading any books that Sarah West comes out with."

I am so touched by the positive reviews I get on Amazon. Hearing that I made people laugh and cry makes me want to write another book that will do the same! Learning that readers related to so many characters inspires me to bring the characters back in a new story that will keep my readers happy. Getting irritated emails from readers demanding to know where the book that I promised them six months ago is, really makes me write faster.

And you know what? I love my negative reviews, too. I know that not everyone who picks up a book is going to love it. Hell, I've written some pretty negative reviews myself. But as long as they are honest, clearly state what they didn't like (typos? I can fix those. Hated the sex scenes and swearing? Sorry, mom, that's not going to change) I appreciate all feedback. I am always looking to improve, and I'm not afraid of some constructive criticism.

So the next time you finish a book you read, take two minutes and write three sentences explaining what you liked or didn't like. You're helping other readers, who might be on the fence about buying a book, decide whether or not to get it, and you're helping me by giving me feedback about what works in a story and what doesn't work.

In fact, if you're bored at work or stuck inside on a rainy day, go to amazon and click on your recent purchases. You can go down the list and review everything you've purchased. It's sort of fun! And the authors, sellers, and other shoppers will thank you for your opinion.

And now I'm going to climb down off my soapbox and publish my damn book! Recipes to follow.

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I'm not doing any real blog posts until I get my website settled (moving to a new server, bear with me), so this is just an old photo set I never got around to posting.

You might remember that I made Doctor Who cupcake toppers for the 50th anniversary episode last November (holy crap that was a long time ago) to go with Tracy's amazing jammy dodger cupcakes. I also got curious about my sculpting abilities, and tried my hand at crafting a small bust of one of my favorite Doctor Who species, the Silurians.

I decided to sculpt one wearing the cool mask we see in The Hungry Earth episode, mostly because I wasn't certain I could sculpt the actual lizard-sapian face accurately enough to satisfy my OCDness. I think, looking back, that I could have done it justice. But for now, I'm proud to show you my Silurian. Silurian, Doctor Who, sci-fi, alien, fondant, sculpted, buttercream, rice krispies, crispy, edible, sculpture, BBC, Vastra, Matt Smith, Capaldi, I finally decided to post her after watching the new season of Doctor Who this weekend, with the brand new Doctor, Peter Capaldi. While I miss Matt Smith very much, I am eager to see what Capaldi, a brilliant actor, will bring to the character.

The episode also brought back some delighful characters that I'm always happy to see, Madam Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. Madam Vastra is, of course, a Silurian. And a beautiful one at that. Silurian, Doctor Who, sci-fi, alien, fondant, sculpted, buttercream, rice krispies, crispy, edible, sculpture, BBC, Vastra, Matt Smith, Capaldi,

...continue reading