Friday, October 30, 2015

#FoodieFriday: Goat Cheese and Roasted Pepper Crostini

I'm a big fan of tiny food--something you can eat in a bite or two. Tea sandwiches; tiny tarts, what have you; there just has to be enough of it to make a meal, or at least a substantial part of it.

Now, my husband isn't a fan of tomatoes--the closest thing besides red sauce for pasta or pizza or salsa I could get him to willingly eat was "tomato bread" when we were in Barcelona, which, admittedly, was in a class all its own.

I love bruschetta, but I'd be making a disappointingly tiny amount for just me to eat. I'm not opposed to it, but most of the time I make things we'll both eat.

So, I found this recipe for Goat Cheese and Roasted Pepper Crostini on Cook Like A Champion. It was the perfect compromise--tiny bits of bread decorated with snowy goat cheese and pepper confetti.

Picture from Cook Like A Champion

I made a few alterations to the recipe, though. I cheated a bit and bought a jar of roasted red peppers (I thoroughly drained what I wanted to use and they worked wonderfully sliced into very thin ribbons), and I discovered at the last minute that my poor basil had committed suicide (gone moldy) so I didn't use it. I didn't measure the olive oil when pouring it over the baguette slices, but I did use a paper towel to dab it around and somewhat evenly coat the bread. As for mixing the peppers with olive oil and ground pepper, I figured that the peppers were flavorful enough and skipped out on this. I did put some freshly ground black pepper over the tops before serving, though.

Oh, and a slice of baguette cut on a bias to get slightly more surface area worked great--and after cutting a few, I discovered that a thin slice of about a half inch was perfect. Just wide enough to be supportive of the goodies on top, but not thick enough to cut your mouth up on the crunchy slice while chewing.

The garlic is a must-do--my favorite part of making them was to smear the garlic clove all over the hot, olive-oily bread.

We served it with tuna in extra virgin olive oil scooped up with more baguette, and it was a wonderful light meal.

Hubs liked it so much he insisted we make it when we have our (eventual) house warming party, and he's already requested it a second time in the same week.

I think we have a winner!

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thank you for a successful auction! @MarylandRomance

Well, the Maryland Romance Writers' fundraising auction ended last night, so this is the last post I'll be spamming you with (until next year, of course!).

All in all, it was a success! We had slightly fewer auction items than last year, but we did well.

My Full of Energy gift basket went for $30, so I'll be getting the information soon to send it to the lucky winner.

Thank you for your support!

xoxo Sarah

Friday, October 23, 2015

MRW Fundraising Auction ends in 3 DAYS on Monday Oct.26! @MarylandRomance

You guys! The Maryland Romance Writers' fundraising auction ends in THREE DAYS!

Come Monday (October 26th at 11:45pm EDT), the time to bid on some awesome services and gift baskets will END.

Click ------------>>> HERE <<<------------to be taken to the auction site where you can bid to your heart's content and raise money to help support a kick-ass group of authors.

Yours truly has a Full of Energy Gift Basket up for grabs. It includes some delicious New Mexico Pinon Coffee, and four boxes of Twinings Tea, plus tasty biscuits! Bidding is up to $30.00 (still a steal based on fair market value!) so get your bids in ASAP.

And in case you need a reminder, here are some of the awesome things you can bid on:

~Query, critique, and agent submissions

~Career counseling and self-publishing sessions

~Wordpress web maintenance

~Goals, motivation, and conflict tutorial

~Gift certificates to awesome places like Teavana, Cheesecake Factory, Amazon, etc.

~Ad-ready art for promotional materials!

~Gift baskets containing anything from coffee, tea, chocolate, books,

~A personalized Scrivener tutorial


And MUCH more--there are 59 lots up for grabs!

Go forth and raise funds, my dears!

xoxo Sarah

#FoodieFriday: One-Pot Andouille Sausage Skillet Pasta

We normally go grocery shopping on the weekends, though we will pick up fresh produce and things during the week. But when I'm actually AT the grocery store, I prefer to get fresh food for that day's big meal (or for the next night) while I'm there. Nothing like getting home and thinking, "Well, crap. No idea what's for dinner tonight. Should have picked something up."

To combat this, we've started combing through my Pinterest boards for inspiration. I'm often working, so as much as I like food, I like easy meals just as much. Even better are one-pot meals that don't have a ton of clean-up. So a while ago I'd found a bunch of one-pot meals on Pinterest and went crazy pinning them.

One of the first we picked was this lovely recipe from Damn Delicious: One Pot Andouille Sausage Skillet Pasta.

The Andouille--a cajun-spiced sausage that has a little heat but nothing super overwhelming--really makes it. And even better, this recipe re-warms with the best of them. I think we ate it for three or four days straight without getting sick of it, which is a rarity for us leftover-haters. Don't get me wrong--we eat them. We may just not enjoy it as much as some people do.

How about you--do you like one-pot meals? Have a favorite? Share it in the comments!

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why Fandom was Important (Happy 10th Anniversary, Twilight!)

About a year ago, I made a series of 3 posts where I basically "came out" as a fan fiction author. If you want to check them out, I'll make it easy--you can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 here.

All caught up? Okay, then.

I caught some flack for it (as I expected--the fact that people look down on fanfic authors isn't foreign to anyone who writes it) but, in honor of Twilight's 10th anniversary, I thought I'd stick my neck out again and review why the fandom was so special to me and continues to have a place in my little writer heart.

The Twilight fandom gave me the courage to write. Sure, as I mentioned in the previous posts, a good deal of my writing fanfic in the first place was because I was annoyed with the source material--hey, you've gotta start somewhere. But the encouragement from others--positive feedback via reviews and emails, trusty beta-readers to look over your work before posting (kind of like in-between-editors---many authors still utilize them), and even the occasional troll only served to make me a better writer.

My passion for editing was also born during this time. I'd edited for a few people in college, but nothing serious. I enjoyed beta-reading for other fic authors and trading proofreading services. And when I ended up reading and approving well-written stories for a Twific website, I knew I'd found a calling. Writing and editing it was.

I very grateful to have met many friends through the fandom. Some were other fic authors; others were fellow readers. A good many I still consider to be friends to this day. I got to know my critique partner. I met people who would eventually become my coworkers. The author's group I now belong to includes several people I met while we were involved in the fandom. These lovely people (mostly women, but there were a few men) were, and still are, wonderfully supportive of others' writing. It was very much a reciprocal relationship; you'd support other writers, and they'd support you. Even better, many of these same folks are best-selling authors, having hit the NY Times list, USA Today, and Amazon categories. It's amazing to see people's progress and success.

So, for me, the Twilight fandom (which would obviously not have been possible if it weren't for Stephenie Meyer and Twilight) was an overwhelmingly positive experience I'm very grateful for.

Like it or not, when Twilight came out 10 years ago, it changed the face of bookshelves everywhere. Paranormal romance, though it had existed before this but was much more of a niche market, went mainstream for both YA and adult audiences. Vampires, shifters of all varieties, were-creatures--you name it, it was written. The same thing can be said for The Hunger Games a few years later and dystopian stories. And there'll be something else soon, I'm sure, and a fandom to go with it.

Without Twilight, I wouldn't be pursuing my dream of publishing my stories. So, thank you, fandom. You rock.

xoxo Sarah

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Maryland Romance Writers' Auction Ends in 2 WEEKS! @MarylandRomance


The Maryland Romance Writer's annual fund-raising auction ends in TWO WEEKS from today!

The clock is ticking, so get your bids in on awesome items like:

~Query, critique, and agent submissions

~Career counseling and self-publishing sessions

~Wordpress web maintenance

~Goals, motivation, and conflict tutorial

~Gift certificates to awesome places like Teavana, Cheesecake Factory, Amazon, etc.

~Ad-ready art for promotional materials!

~Gift baskets containing anything from coffee, tea, chocolate, books,

~A personalized Scrivener tutorial


And MUCH more--there are 55 lots up for grabs!

If you're like me and snatch people's dreams away from them at the last possible second (seriously--I'm a horrible person when it comes to Ebay...) then put it in your calendar that the auction ends on Monday, October 26th at 11:45PM EDT so you'll know when to swoop in like a majestic eagle and put your bid on whatever you want.

Oh, and here's the direct link to my awesome (if I do say so myself) Full of Energy Gift Basket.

The winner of this basket will receive:
- 4 boxes Twinings of London tea (20 tea bags each): English Breakfast, English Breakfast (decaf), Irish Breakfast, and Darjeeling
- 1 12oz bag of New Mexico Pinon Coffee (ground) (SIDE NOTE: This coffee is amazing!)
- 1 box McVitie's Milk Chocolate Digestives (milk chocolate coated wheat biscuits)
- 1 box McVitie's Milk Chocolate Hob Nobs (milk chocolate coated rolled oat and whole wheat biscuits)
- Decorative basket (measures 13x9x4 inches)

Current bid is up to $25 (well below fair market value), so get your bids in!

xoxo Sarah

Friday, October 9, 2015

#FoodieFriday: Soft Batch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

So, I love writing.

I love editing.

I post about these things a lot (or when I have time).

I also love food and eating and feeding people.

And Pinterest. I do love me some Pinterest, even though I was kind of late to the Pinterest party.

So, I thought I'd try my hand at posting some recipes I've tried and enjoyed, or, at the very least, tried and maybe made a few modifications to.

I'm not trying to step on any "real" food blogger's toes, so I'll just link you lovely people to the recipes.

The first recipe I'm posting is for some of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. They don't last long in our house, so we don't make them often. Seriously--it's like feeding time in a shark tank, especially when they're straight out of the oven.

The cookies--not the sharks.

Anyway, I've made these a few times, and both times they came out beautifully. No modifications needed.

Even better, because you have to chill the dough, you can leave some in the fridge and make what you want--if you want to make 10 cookies now and save the rest, you can do that. I think it keeps about a week. Not that we've tested this--we made the whole thing each time.

Click HERE for the recipe from Averie Cooks.

Let me know if you try them and how they came out!

Have a lovely weekend!

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Awesome Writing in Media: Mean Girls

Continuing on with the Tina Fey love-fest (Tina, if you're reading this, I swear I'm not stalking you), I couldn't resist posting a bit about one of my all-time favorite movies: Mean Girls.

This is one of those movies I'll happily sit through again and again, and it was actually everywhere this past weekend because October 3rd is, unofficially, "Mean Girls Day". It's from a line in the movie. The voice-over (done by Lindsay Lohan who plays Cady) is talking about a boy she has a crush on who is in her math class. I'll let the picture explain it:

That's it in a nutshell. So, of course, the movie was on, and we watched it. For the record, my husband loves it too. Mean Girls is for everyone.

Quick summary: Cady Heron is the new girl at school after years of home-schooling and living in Africa with her academic parents. Unsure how to navigate teenage social norms, she befriends the "Plastics"--the queen bee clique--and a few misfit students who hate the Plastics and get Cady to spy on them. All goes well until Cady falls for the ex-boyfriend of Regina George, the Plastic's leader. But can she keep from becoming the kind of person she hates before it's too late?

One of the most quotable movies of all-time (no statistics; just because I said so), the writing (Fey did the screenplay, which is based on a book by Rosalind Wiseman) is sharp and on-point. It's a rare movie that can make you sympathize with the characters so much without becoming overly sentimental and mushy. Quite the opposite; Mean Girls is scathingly funny and clever. It's more than a collection of quotable one-liners; it's the writing in general that makes the movie so memorable.

It captures what it's like to be a teenage girl without jumping the shark (too much). We tag along with Cady as she tries to fit in at her new school, cringe when she makes social faux pas, and smile when she figures out how she fits in in her new life, for better or worse. Part of why it's so engaging is that we've all known people who remind us of the character archetypes: the new kid, the misfits, the queen bees, the put-upon teacher who believes in the students, the mom who goes to great lengths to be her kid's friend and not a parent, etc. We can revisit our own teenage years without actually having to suffer through them again.

And, despite coming out in 2004, the movie even ages well.

As a side-note, if someone tells you they don't want to watch it because Lindsay Lohan stars, they're missing out. Whatever her personal troubles, she's a good actress and shines in her role.

Are you a Mean Girls fan? What's your favorite line? C'mon, you know you have one. Share it in the comments!

xoxo Sarah


Other posts in this series:

Joss Whedon

Quentin Tarantino

Horrible Bosses

Book of Mormon

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Mad Max: Fury Road

30 Rock