Sunday, June 18, 2017

$50 Cash Giveaway! (And oh, yeah...I wrote a book!)

Welcome to the most exciting blog post you've seen on Sarah Cooks the Books for at least 4 months!

This time, I have an excuse for being gone for so long...I published my first novel!  (Since this is a food blog, I'll show you the cookie representation of the cover my friend, Amy, got me!)

"That Book I wrote About Me: A Novel," is available on Amazon!  It's a story about small towns, families, and family secrets.  Check out the summary to learn more, and I hope you'll read (and enjoy!) it.  I'm super proud of this book.  Find it here.

And now, to the main event!

To celebrate Anyonita Nibbles's 7th blog birthday, I, along with 5 other fantastic food bloggers, will give you the chance to win $50 USD in cash paid via Paypal!! What would you do with $50 cash?

I'm so thankful to have teamed up with my blogging tribe to offer you this giveaway! Here's a little bit more about us and our blogs:

 Ronda is a family-friendly food blogger at Kitchen Dreaming, who can show you how to take the foods your family loves and make them quicker & easier to prepare like these Easy Beef Empanadas.
Dee is the publisher of Cooks&Books&Recipes, where she shares recipes from cookbooks, chefs, and restaurants. For example, how about this recipe for Slow Cooker Lamb Barbacoa (Barbacoa de Borrego) from famed Chicago Chef Rick Bayless? 

Megin is the creator of VMG206, where she shares ways to create and live a beautiful life like with these last minute scrumptious cream cheese danishes.

Natasha is a single mom and lifestyle blogger at Epic Mommy Adventures sharing advice to help other single parents like these 9 tips to have a better relationship with your baby daddy!

And lastly, the blog birthday girl: Anyonita! She blogs at Anyonita Nibbles where she writes a gluten free food blog full of quick recipes you won't believe don't contain gluten like this 15 minute gluten free one pot taco pasta!

To even stand a chance at winning, you need to enter! Here's how you do that; simply follow the prompts in the widget below to enter. There are some actions you can only do once, like following me on Instagram or Pinterest, but there are other options that you can do every day the giveaway is live such as tweeting about it! Choose as many options as you'd like--the more you do, the greater your chances are of winning!

On your marks, get set, ENTER TO WIN $50USD:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Whole30 Cookbook: Strip Steak with Crispy Salt-and-Vinegar Smashed Potatoes

Every year, at the beginning of a new year, I do the same thing a lot of people do, and I swear that in the new year, I'll eat better, exercise, etc. etc. etc.

That never works out.

This year, I actually had it in my head that I was going to try the Whole30 Diet.  I went to Barnes and Noble and paged through the Whoe30 book, and thought about how I could cut out carbs, sugar,  alcohol, all the stuff that's not great for you.

And then, instead of the book about the plan, I bought a cookbook with recipes that can go along with the plan.  Because I don't see myself giving anything up, but at the same time, I can always use a cookbook of healthy recipes.

This recipe was amazing.I don't eat steak often, and I cook it even less frequently.  This was the first time I managed to cook a legit medium rare/medium, and it was perfection.  
Also, the potatoes that go along with this recipe are something I guarantee I'll be making again, with or without the steak.

Since this was a Whole 30 recipe (and I think a paleo diet recipe), it calls for, and I used, clarified butter, or ghee.  If you don't care about any of that, just use regular butter.

Strip Steak with Crispy Salt-and-Vinegar Smashed Potatoes
Serves 2


For the Parsley Butter:

4 Tbsp. clarified butter (or ghee)
1 Tbsp minced green onion
1 tsp. minced parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. whole-grain mustard
Salt and pepper to taste


For the Smashed Potatoes:

6 Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. clarified butter (or ghee)
1 Tbsp. olive oil

For the Steaks:

2 Strip Steaks (about 8 oz each)
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. clarified butter (or ghee)
1 Tbsp. white vinegar 

First, make the parsley butter.  In a small bowl, combine the butter, green onion, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Stir until well-combined, then cover and refrigerate until needed.

Next, make the potatoes.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, combine potatoes, vinegar, and salt.  Add enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and return to the saucepan.

Add the butter and toss to coat.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Using a heavy glass, smash each potato to about 1/2-inch thickness.

Bake for 20 minutes, then turn each potato over with a spatula.  Brush with olive oil, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more until golden brown and crisp.

To make the steaks, pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper.  

 In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Sear the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Transfer the steaks to s plate, and put a dollop of butter on top of each steak.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the potatoes with vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the steaks and potatoes together.

Also, I want to say thank you to you guys for sticking around for 200 posts on Sarah Cooks the Books!  I'm not even halfway through my cookbook collection, so I have a ton more recipes to get through, but thank you guys so much for checking out my blog!

Monday, February 13, 2017

#FoodBloggerLove 2017: Potato Soup from

Happy February!

This is my first year taking part in the Food Blogger Love roundup, organized by Allison of The PinterTest Kitchen!

The point of this yearly event is for food bloggers to shine a spotlight on another food blogger and to point their followers to the blog.

I was paired up with Audrey from  I really love the way her blog is organized -- it's super easy to find recipes by type, ingredient, and even dietary restriction.  I found a great soup recipe, perfect for the rainy winter weather we've been having in Southern California.

Make sure to check out Audrey's blog as well as her Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter sites!

Potato Soup


4 cups diced potatoes
1 cup diced onions
1 quart vegetable stock
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheddar cheese (if desired)

Add potatoes, onions, celery, and parsley to a medium pot.  Add stock to the pot until veggies are covered and there's about an extra inch of liquid (use water if you run out of stock).

Cover pot and bring soup to a boil, then reduce to simmering.  Cook until potatoes are soft, 12-15 minutes, then turn off the heat.

If you want a chunky soup, mash with a potato masher.  If you want a smooth soup (like I did), use a blender or an immersion blender to blend until smooth.

Stir in milk and red pepper flakes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add cheese if you want, and additional parsley if desired.

I hope you've all enjoyed #FoodBloggerLove 2017!  Join the official facebook page here to get info about next year's roundup!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Baking From My Home to Yours: Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops #FBLCookieExchange


Can we just agree 2016 never happened?

Can we just say that 2015 went straight into 2017 and that none of this year ever, ever happened?

As it stands, I have one photo of these cookies because I have turned my entire house upside down and cannot find the cord to my camera to upload any others.  I took one photo with my phone and decided "Hey, these cookies would look much better with a real camera taking the pictures."

And that was a true statement.  Except you'll never see them.

So do you guys remember my past Great Food Blogger Cookie Swaps?  (See 2014 and 2015.)  The lovely coordinators of that cookie exchange decided not to do it this year.


Luckily, Allison of The PinterTest Kitchen and Sarah of The Fantastical Sharing of Recipes decided to put together the Food Blogger Love Cookie Exchange 2016 this year so the cookie love could keep rolling. Each blogger that took part in the exchange either donated to CLIMATES- Rescue and The Bunny Hutch Boutique, an animal rescue in Virginia that takes in and feeds animals that traditional shelters don't take in (snakes, turtles, rabbits, ferrets, lizards, etc.) or to No Kid Hungry, an organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger.

It was a very similar setup to the GFBCS in that each blogger received the names of 2 other loggers and sent a dozen cookies to each one.  I super lucked out this year, and since I don't have awesome pictures of the cookies I made, I'll show you the awesome cookies other food bloggers sent me.

Sara of Cook with 5 Kids sent me Graham Chocolate Cookies.  I shared these at work, and they were a huge hit!

Renee of If Spoons Could Talk sent me Double Chocolate Chip Caramel Stuffed Cookies.  Maybe the best cookies I've ever eaten?  I banned Dennis from eating these.  These were all for me.

And the third blogger I was matched with was Tricia of Friends, Food, Family.  Tricia was a Super Blogger this year and sent me four different types of cookies:  Butterfinger Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Cookies, a chocolate and cherry biscotti, and a cookie with cardamon that I can't remember what else was in it, but I had to negotiate with Dennis and trade some of the biscotti for some of the last one. (Dennis and I also battled it out over the Butterfinger cookies...and since I'm just such a nice person, I even let him have the last one.)

So on to my cookies.

My cookies came from Baking: From My Home to Yours by the inimitable Dorie Greenspan, who I love so very much.  You might recognize her name from some blog posts from 2012 (holy crap...4 years ago??) when I cooked from her lovely French cookbook Around My French Table and made Roast Chicken and Hummus.

These cookies are delicious, even though you can't tell it from the picture.  How could any cookie that includes Whoppers be bad?  (Spoiler alert:  they're not.)

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops
Makes about 30 Cookies


1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup chocolate-flavored Ovaltine (or malted milk powder)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups Whoppers candy
6 z. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350°F.

Sift together flour, Ovaltine, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar for about 3 minutes until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition.  Add vanilla and mix in.

Add half of the Ovaltine mixture into the butter mixture and mix until just combined.  Add milk.

Add remaining dry ingredients until they're just combined.

Add Whoppers and chocolate until just combined

Drop dough by the tablespoon onto the cookie sheets leaving 2 inches of space between each cookie.

Bake for 11-13 minutes.  Cookies should be puffed up, but set and soft to the touch.  Let the cookie rest for 2 minutes, the transfer to wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Bob's Burgers Burger Book: Don't Get Crème Fraîche With Me Burger

When I picked this burger, I thought it was just weird enough to work.  It turns out I was right, but I needed to call in the reinforcements to make it work.

Hence, the tag "Dennis Saves the Day" was born.  Since I met him, I've called Dennis "MacGyver," because he has this innate ability to...fix stuff.  In weird ways.

The first thing I ever saw him MacGyver was a metal cabinet.  We worked together a hundred years ago, and he had this metal cabinet that wouldn't stay closed.  He also had this big calendar magnet.  So he folded the magnet in half and used it to keep the door closed.

Simple right?

Holy crap!  That never would have occurred to me.  So I eventually married him and now he MacGyvers things all over the house.

All that being said, these burgers almost didn't happen.  My last burger was delicate, but flippable.  These?  They just crumbled.

"Did you put bread crumbs in them?" Dennis asked.


(They needed more.)

To be fair, the recipe tells you (told me) that they would be delicate, but I underestimated it.

So they stuck to the pan and I pouted and Dennis fixed it.  There was only one that was pretty unsalvageable.  The one on the right in the picture below.

I don't know why this picture won't center correctly.  These burgers are just out to get me.

For the recipe, I upped the amount of breadcrumbs, because these burgers are kind of impossible without it.  Delicious, but impossible.

 Don't Get Crème Fraîche With Me Burger
Makes 4 burgers


1 cup blueberries, washed and mashed with a fork
3/4 cup breadcrumbs (at least.  Use your judgment.)
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 cup chopped basil
1 cup Crème Fraîche (I got mine at Trader Joe's)
4 rolls
1 bag spring salad mix

Mix the blueberries, breadcrumbs, and beef together.  NOTE!  The blueberries are going to make these burgers super moist.  For real.  Be careful when you're forming these patties, because there's a good chance they will ruin your day.

Form 4 patties.

Salt and pepper both sides of the patty.  (You may want to salt and pepper one side of them and then do the other side when they're already in the pan and you flip them over.)

Cook the burgers to your preferred doneness.  (At least 160°F.  Be careful.  They will fall apart.  They will.)

Mix the basil with the crème fraîche.

Build your burger in this order:  bottom roll, salad mix, burger, basil crème, top roll.

Enjoy your perilous burger.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Bob's Burger's Burger Book: Never Been Feta Burger

There are occasions when I see advertisements for TV shows, and I think "That's the dumbest thing I've ever seen in my life."

I had that thought when I first saw the ads for Bob's Burgers, and I continued that thought until I started watching it on Netflix like a month ago.  And now I'm hooked.

If you don't watch the show, I should explain the chalkboard.  In each episode, there's a chalkboard with the burger of the day written on it.  They're all puns, and in the first couple of episodes, Louise,  the youngest daughter of the titular Bob changes them to be more obscene than you'd expect in a family burger restaurant.

(Case in point, she changes this one to be the Foot Feta-ish Burger.  Also, I'm planning on being Louise for Halloween.)

So this guy, Cole Bowden, started a blog where he invented burger recipes to go along with the burgers on the board in the background.  The creators of the show loved it, and brought in real chefs to work with the guy and create a cookbook.

And that's where this burger comes from.  It's freaking delicious, and I apologize for the lack of ingredient photograph, but I didn't know I'd be blogging it when I made it.

Also, the Sriracha is optional, but definitely use it!  It gives the burger a nice kick.

Never Been Feta Burger
Makes 4 Burgers
From The Bob's Burgers Burger Book


4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 small rolls
A couple handfuls of arugula
Salt and pepper
Olive oil (for cooking)
Sriracha (Optional, but not really)

Heat a few glugs of olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium high heat

Combine 3/4 cup feta with the beef and make 4 patties.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Cook the burgers until they reach at least 16­0°F.  Be careful when flipping these, because there's no binder (egg, bread crumbs, etc.), so they're fragile.  It's completely doable to cook them, though -- mine didn't fall apart.  (That didn't happen until the next recipe.)

Mix the mustard and mayo together in a small bowl and spread the mixture on the tops of your burger buns.

How to build the burger:  Bottom roll, arugula, burger, feta, a little Sriracha, top roll with the mustard/mayo mixture on it.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Another "I'm Not Dead!" Post

So, I'm still kicking.

It's been exactly 6 months since my last post, and that wasn't even about food.  It was about me thinking I was going to become some kind of world traveler and stay in Air BnBs along the way.

(That didn't happen?)

So what have I been doing while I've been neglecting this poor blog?

1.  I got a new job!  I moved from account management at a software company to being a Technical Writer Manager with a government contractor.  My commute went from 42 miles to 1.5 miles.  With the extra time, I was able to...

2.  ...finish writing my book!  I don't know that I've mentioned it here before, but I've been working on a novel for like 4 years.  I finally finished it a couple of months ago, and I have a little bit on interest in it from real, honest-to-God Industry People.  It's super exciting, and maybe one of these days, you'll see it in a bookstore, and you can say, "Hey, I remember when she was just writing that blog she never updated!"

3.  I've been trials and tribulations.  Everyone has them, so I know you know what I'm talking about.  Everything's fine, but it was just...trying for a while.

4.  I'm putting the pieces in place to open an Etsy shop!  More details later, but I'm pretty excited about a new venture.

5.  I find myself a member of 3 book clubs.  I have no idea how that happened.

6.  I've been obsessed, obsessed, with Hamilton.  So obsessed.  I listen to it every day.  If you haven't heard it, you need to.  It's available for streaming on Amazon Prime, and I've learned more about history (and pseudo-history) in the last couple of months than I ever did while I was in school.

7.  I've been doing a lot of freelance work.  So I haven't been writing here, but I've been writing.

7.  I've been rewatching Desperate Housewives, as well a binging Bob's Burgers.  Have you guys watched Bob's Burgers?  What an odd, hilarious little show.

Speaking of Bob's Burgers, the cookbook inspired by/from the creators of that show is up next week!  I swear.  Check out my Instagram for a sneak peek of one of next week's burgers!

Here's to getting back into the swing of blogging. 

So what have you guys been doing in the last 6 months?