It's pretty obvious that I've been a terrible blogger this past year. And in the past month I've been non-existent. It's not like my life has changed much in the past few years to excuse my absence, and yet absent I was. I think a lot of it can be attributed to a shift in my attention: away from things that take a lot of time to set up, plan, execute, organize and complete. You know, like blogging, photography, cooking, and writing extensive novels.

And it's not that I don't enjoy the process, because at times I still do. I still get pride when I really nail a food styling session, or make headway on a book. It's just that the external rewards for completing these tasks are so few and far between that they don't motivate me to keep going.

When I worked at a job where I spent all day on my computer, I had nothing better to do than blog and comment on other people's blogs, read up on photography and food styling, and work on my social media presence. I had a lot more blog traffic, and I would get comments on things I spent time on, making me feel good about myself. I'm a sucker for positive reinforcement. 

Things have slowed down almost to a complete stop. I can go 6 months before someone comments on my blog, traffic is down, and the only excuse I have is that I'm not putting in the effort. I feel stupid for being so bitter about it, but it's like, why put in the effort when no one reads it or cares?

So I guess I've been in a funk. My motivation has been lacking, and I can't convince myself to strive for something when the reinforcement isn't a given outcome. Like in...

Video games. 

My brain feeds off of accomplishing goals and being rewarded for them. And it turns out that leveling up or beating a boss is a fucking fantastic way of making me feel good. At the end of the day, I might feel better about my life if I created a gorgeous recipe with stunning pictures and wrote a witty blog post. But I'll be happier and have more fun if I play four hours of video games, level up twice, and unlock a new part of the map.

Games are FULL of goals that I can achieve. I might not be able to breeze through a boss battle in one go, but I can walk around an area and do repetitive tasks that bring me closer to getting money, weapons, achievements, trophies, and other fun things.

And now I'm babbling about video games. Therein lies the problem. But the point of this post is to remind myself that I can write, and that I should keep cooking and posting recipes. At least so that I don't succumb fully to the dark void that is video games.

Stay tuned for new recipes coming up!

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.

You will need:

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.

You will need:

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

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.

You will need:

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

  • 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.


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!!

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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

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

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:

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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:


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

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.