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?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Air BnB Adventures 1: Trip to Salinas, CA

You guys, I get super bummed out when I go for weeks (months) without posting food recipes.  It kind of makes me feel like I'm failing at blogging, even though blogging isn't my job and no one's expecting me to do it.

So I've decided to kind of integrate other stuff in my life into this space.  (This is, of course, after years of saying "Why is [Food Blogger X] telling me so much about her LIFE?  I'm here for the FOOD!)

I still feel that way, but I'm going to be super hypocritical and start sharing with you guys.  OK?  OK!

I had my first Air BnB experience last weekend.  (For those who don't know, Air BnB is to hotels what Uber is to taxis.  People rent out space in their house or other property for people to stay in, either short or long-term.  For those of you who also don't know, I'm obsessed with Air BnB now.)

I decided last weekend I wanted to go to Gilroy, CA (the garlic capital of the world, if you wondered), and wanted to give Air BnB a shot, since hotel prices were either exorbitant or super cheap, but attached to motels that had 1-star ratings for cleanliness.

The place I found is referred to as the Peace Temple Abode.  The listing on Air BnB said "Looking for high adventure?  Vertical climb up to semi-private loft & crash on comfy futon with memory foam topper.  Privacy cafe curtains strung on rail open to reveal communal hall below."

Awesome, right?!

Other notes on the listing include that it's a "new age, yoga, and wellness experience" and that it's an animal-product-free house.  So you can use the kitchen, but don't think you're going to be cooking any meat.  (Or smoking, or drinking alcohol.)

On our way up, we stopped in San Luis Obisbo (which was so gorgeous, I didn't do anything to this picture, and it looks like this):

By the time we got there, it was dark, so we drove down this dark, twisty road to the address (which, at this point, I was referring to as Murder House) until we came to the correct place.  There were probably 10 cars in the driveway/parking area as well as two RVs.  Still not entirely sure what I'd gotten us into, we went in, and were immediately greeted by the host, who showed us around, and pointed us to the loft.

(Side note:  I did not realize how weak my arms and legs are until I climbed up and down that thing a few times.)

Not a great picture, but you can see it was a small space with low ceilings -- I loved it!

Higher than it looks.

The futon thing was super comfortable, and I fell asleep reading while Dennis went out to get some (non-animal product!) food.

The next morning, our host made us some coffee and offered up the bread drawer for toast.  The kitchen was big and cluttered, and amazing.

The previous night, our hosts had gone to a prayer meeting thing (I, admittedly, don't know exactly what it was.  I think they are some variety of Buddhist, so I don't mean to sound ignorant -- I just don't remember what the meeting was called, but Mrs. Host was very excited about it.

Had they not gotten in so late from that, they would have offered yoga in the morning, which would have been announced by the gong in the common area.

Oh yes.

It had just rained, so the plants all looked super green...

...and the barnyard animals outside were splashing around in puddles.

Yes.  There were barnyard animals.  How freaking cool is this place?

They had clean towels and soap and shampoo and everything for u s, and the bathroom had a huge tub with a garden-style shower.

This was, 100%, a must-visit spot.  If you ever find yourself in Salinas, give these guys a shot.  (They also have real bedrooms, not just the loft.  Our host offered us an empty one when we got there, since there was no one in it, but I was pretty set on the loft.

I could get used to country living, I think.  (Country living within 5 miles of the freeway, that is!)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Recipes for Fitness for Very Busy People: Chiffon "Pumpkin" Pie

I'm disappointed in you, Recipes for Fitness for Very Busy People.

The name of the recipe should have been my first clue something was about to go wildly awry:

"Pumpkin"??  But then I looked at the recipe, and there was actually pumpkin in it, so I'm not sure why the scare quotes.  I decided I could forgive some punctuation issues, even though I was an English major.

Then I looked at the ingredients, all 55 calories of them.

Something wasn't quite right here.  There was no...binding agent.  How was this "chiffon" "pumpkin" "pie" going to hold together?

(SPOILER ALERT:  It wasn't.)

I still followed the recipe, and was pleased to know that if you "play your guitar or violin for 10 minutes after dinner, you'll cancel the calories in your dessert.  (Unburned calories are apt to be stored as fat.)"

NOTE TO SELF:  Learn to play guitar and/or violin.

It just didn't look...right when I put it in the oven.

But I did it anyway.

Rather than telling you how to make this monstrosity, I'll just give you a picture essay.

Mmm...burned edges!

To call this a fail doesn't even really sum it up correctly.  I'm going to call this an extreme non-win.

Maybe better luck next time, all you Very Busy People.


One Year Ago:  No Post
Two Years Ago:  No Post
Three Years Ago:  Spaghetti Carbonera

Monday, January 11, 2016

Recipes for Fitness for Very Busy People: Turkey Divan

So it's a new year,

(OK, fine.  It's week 2 of the new year.  Clearly, one of my New Year's Resolutions was not "not procrastinating.")

It's the time of year when my RSS blog feed is full of recipes for Green Smoothies (seriously...I saw 6 of those recipes today alone), and healthy quinoa-oatmeal-kale-superfood bowls.  So I figured we here at Sarah Cooks the Books should jump on the healthy eats bandwagon.

Enter this gem (found at Bart's Books in Ojai, CA):

Recipes for Fitness for Very Busy People.  (Yes, I am floored as you are that this has an entry on Amazon.)

I can't 100% determine if the recipes are supposed to make you fit, or if this is a cookbook strictly for already fit people who also happen to be very busy.  Who knows?

My favorite thing about this book is that every recipe gives you the calorie count per serving, and also a helpful activity you can do to burn off said calories immediately.  Had a way-too-filling meal of turkey divan?  HAVE NO FEAR!

This book was written by a Food Consultant for The Oaks at Ojai and also the Palms at Palm Springs.  (These establishments are known for their relaxing atmospheres, and not necessarily for their creative naming conventions.)  So actually, the answer to my question is that these recipes were, in fact, written for very rich people.

I digress. 

Not only did this cookbook fulfill my love of weird cookbooks, the Turkey Divan was actually pretty tasty!  I didn't feel especially fit afterward, but at least the book tells me exactly how to burn off those pesky calories.  It's also a pretty easy recipe, so it also has that going for it.

Turkey Divan
Serves 6 (supposedly)


2 heads of broccoli, cut and lightly steamed
12 oz. cooked turkey breast, cut into cubes
2 cups celery, sliced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 cup grated mozzarella
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat over to 350°F.

Put olive oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, celery, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent.  Remove from heat.

Combine onion mixture with cubed turkey, mayo, and soy sauce.  Mix well.

Place broccoli in the bottom of a baking dish.  Pile turkey mixture on top of broccoli.

Combine your cheeses and sprinkle on top of turkey mixture.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

(As a side note from the recipe, it's "a good use of leftovers.  If you leave out the broccoli, you'll have a HOT TURKEY SALAD"!)


One Year Ago:  Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
Two Years Ago:  No Post
Three Years Ago:  No Post