Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#FantasticalFoodFight: Ice Cream Edition (Red Vines Ice Cream from Sweet ReciPEAs)

Welcome to my very first entry in the Fantastical Food Fight!  The Fantastical Food Fight is where a group of food bloggers get together and are given a theme or ingredient, a new one every month, and we make a recipe that fits into that theme.  It can be either a traditional or non-traditional variation, and the recipes can come out of cookbooks, from blogs, or they can be the blogger's original recipe.

This blog hop is hosted by Sarah of The Fantastical Sharing of Recipes, and you can find out more about the hop here.

July's theme is Ice Cream, and I'm super excited about this one, because it gave me the opportunity to make a recipe I've been dying to try from a blogger whose blog I'm basically obsessed with: Peabody of Sweet ReciPEAS.

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw one of Peabody's recipes that I made a few weeks ago:  Banana Brownie Loaf Cake.  Holy crap, was that good.

Last year, I saved her recipe for Red Licorice Ice Cream, and it seemed like the perfect addition to this month's Fantastical Food Fight.  I used Red Vines, which seem to be a bigger deal on the West Coast than they were on the East Coast, and which are a favorite of both Dennis and my step-kid, Kelly.

You guys?  This ice cream is perfection.  Not only is it really tasty, but it's the first time I've successfully made ice cream in my ice cream maker.  I was starting to think the thing was defective, but it's not.  It makes delicious ice cream!  If you're a fan of Red Vines (or Twizzlers or whatever), give this a shot.  I promise you won't be disappointed!

Red Vines Ice Cream
Makes...I don't know.  Several servings of ice cream


2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
15 Red Vines (or whichever red licorice you prefer)

Combine 1 cup of the cream, the sugar, and the Red Vines in a saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the licorice begins to dissolve. 

Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to come to room temperature.

Stir in the remaining cream and milk.  Pour the mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate 12 hours/overnight.  During this time, give the container an occasional shake to break up the licorice.

Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and strain through a strainer to get rid of the licorice that didn't disintegrate.

Pour mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's Cookbook: California Fish Tacos

I may have mentioned before that I'm mildly obsessed with Trader Joe's.  (This post is not sponsored by Trader Joe's, by the way, I just really love shopping there.  If Trader Joe's would like to send me free stuff to try, though I'd be all about it.)

I got this Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's Cookbook at the 2016 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  The vendors had a pretty good variety of books, but I went with the original.  It's a super basic cookbook, and a lot of the recipes involve pre-made stuff and very few ingredients, and I'm basically in love with it.

I'd never had a fish taco until I moved to California, but they are officially my favorite type of taco.  (Except the time I had a fish taco and the fish still had bones in it.  Blech.  That put me off of them for a while.)

All that to say, if you're a fan of fish tacos, you owe it to yourself to make them at home, and you further owe it to yourself to try these specific ones, because they're super easy and super delicious.

(Not to brag or anything, but Dennis said these were the best fish tacos he'd ever had, and we live in Southern California, so that's saying something.)

As a note, I made a couple of swaps, because I couldn't find the specific thing the recipe called for.  I'll note both the original and what I used in the recipe below.

California Fish Tacos
Makes 6 tacos


6 medium Corn & Wheat Tortillas (recipe calls for flour tortillas)
1 box frozen Oven Ready Breaded Cod Fillets (or other breaded fillets)
3 cups Cruciferous Crunch Collection Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Green Cabbage, & Red Cabbage (recipe calls for Napa cabbage Stir Fry Vegetables or shredded white cabbage)
2 1/2 Tbsp. Cilantro Dressing
Juice from 1 lime
Cilantro for garnish
Mayonnaise (optional, see below)
Soy sauce (optional, see below)

(I'm trying a new thing with bolding the names of the ingredients.  What do y'all think?)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place fish fillets on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes until golden brown.

While the fish is baking, toss the vegetables with the dressing.  Here's where I got a little creative.  The dressing on its own is delicious, but I wanted to add a little something to it.  I added the tiniest bit of mayo, a splash of lime juice, and an itty bitty bit of soy sauce to the dressing, and mixed it together, and it was amazing.

When I say the tiniest bit, I really mean it.  I didn't measure it, but I bet I used maybe 1/8 tsp. of soy sauce and maybe 1 1/2 tsp. of mayo.  Very, very little.  If you decide to add these items to your sauce, do so with caution so you don't end up with a salty mess.

(And yes, the soy sauce I had in the cabinet was from Trader Joe's!)

 (The mayo was not.)

Anyway, mix your dressing with whatever you want to add to it and toss the veggies in it.  Put 1/2 cup of the veggies or so on each tortilla, and place a fish fillet on top of each tortilla as well.

Add a squeeze of lime to each taco, garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately.

(If you wondered, that's a side of cilantro lime cauliflower "rice" on the side, and yes, the cauliflower came from Trader Joe's!)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Not-So-Sponsored Post: SkinnyPop Jalapeno Popcorn (and a Coconut Margarita!)

Holy crap, you guys!  It's two posts in a month!  (Don't're not dreaming. It's actually happening.)

In my last post, I told you I'd published my first novel, "That Book I Wrote About Me." Sales have been more than I could have possibly hoped for for a first-time, self-published novelist, and I want to say thank you to everyone who has bought it, read it, and reached out to tell me they liked it. This has been out of this world, and it's all thanks to the readers.  So thank you!  (Psst...if you haven't gotten your copy yet, find it here and here; it's available in both e-book and paperback formats.)   

On to my not-so-sponsored post!

I say "not-so-sponsored" because I wasn't actually given anything for writing it except for the super-cool graphic you see below.  SkinnyPop Popcorn recently shared their Popped and Paired graphic with me to share with my readers, and since I'm a fan of both fun summer adult beverages (like sangria and margaritas and a Brazen Hussy and SoCal Coconut Coladas!) and popcorn (remember the Disappearing Popcorn Popcorn Soup?), I said sure, why not?

I picked the Jalapeno flavor of SkinnyPop popcorn, 'cause I like spicy stuff (although, truth be told, this popcorn isn't really spicy.  It's got more of the flavor of jalapeno than the heat of jalapeno, so if you're leery of hot stuff, I think you'll still like this), and I also thought the Coconut Margarita it was paired with looked pretty tasty.

Oh, and for the record, I had tried and liked SkinnyPop popcorn before, but I'd never had the jalapeno flavor...don't think I'd write a not-so-sponsored post for just any old thing! (Find all of the SkinnyPop flavors here and try out some of the other recipes!)

I was a little put off by the look of the drink (it was like drinking milk out of a margarita glass), but it was really good.  Don't be like me and be sitting in a house with no ice when you make this, though.  That's a poor life choice.

Coconut Margarita
Makes 2 drinks


3 oz. coconut milk
3 oz. tequila blanco
1 1/5 oz. Triple Sec*
8 oz. coconut water
Lime wedges (for serving)
SkinnyPop Jalapeno Popcorn (for snacking)
Ice (because no one wants to drink warm coconut milk)

*You may notice from the photo that I didn't use Triple Sec.  That's because I was certain I had Triple Sec in my cabinet, but it turned out all I had was Sweet & Sour Mix, so I used that instead.  It was delicious!

Combine coconut milk, tequila, Triple Sec, and coconut water in a shaker with ice.  Pour into two glasses and garnish with a slice of lime.

It's a coconut jalapeno party!

Me enjoying a delicious coconut-flavored beverage despite the gross room-temperatureness of it.

Zelda got in a little on the action as well, because it had been far too long since I'd put accessories on her and made her pose for a picture.

"Is this milk?  This looks like milk."

"This is most decidedly not milk, and I am disappointed."

Thank you to SkinnyPop for the cool graphic and drink pairing ideas.  (Click here to find SkinnyPop at a store near you.)  Everyone should have themselves a drink and a snack and a good read.

Any book at all, really.

Your choice!

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.