Hey, everybody! We’re due for another cookbook update, and what a grand one it is: I FINISHED MY MANUSCRIPT!
I’ve spent the last month or so making final tweaks to recipes, fine-tuning instructions, and finalizing photo choices. My perfectionist streak truly made itself known. I can’t tell you how much time I spent staring at two virtually identical photographs, trying to decide which one I liked better!
Then at 2:20 am (!!!) on Monday morning, I hit send on the final document. It was such an incredible moment…but also strange, realizing I’d completed something I started over a year ago. All of a sudden, I felt like a real author. Despite the early hour, the Little Mister was awake for the occasion…which I’m sure was because he wanted to share the big moment with me. 😉
I haven’t gotten word yet from my editor about what she thinks, but I’ll probably hear from her by the end of the week. There’s still a lot of work ahead, but it’s such a relief to have cleared this first big hurdle!
Here’s a rundown of some new things I added to the manuscript:
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt—“Ten Yummy Foods in Books”—seemed tailor made for my blog. After all, food in books is what I DO. As excited as I was to tackle the prompt, it only seemed fair to up the ante and make it a bit more challenging. So instead of ten yummy foods, I chose ten books (some of them are series) that all have iconic dishes associated with them. In the end, I got closer to 20 foods than 10, but everything’s better when there’s more food, right? Hope y’all enjoy! 😉
Roses are one of the many iconic items from The Phantom of the Opera. They’re most commonly found in the movie–as mysterious gifts from the Phantom that appear for Christine seemingly by magic–but they make appearances in the book and stage play as well. They’re seen as the Phantom’s calling card, so I knew they had to have a place in our menu.
In the past, various “apple rosette” pies and tarts have caught my eye on Pinterest. I noticed that they were all dessert bakes, so I decided to make a savory version. I whipped up the herbed pie crust that will appear in my cookbook next year and filled it Gouda cheese and carmelized onions, topping it with rosettes made from thinly sliced Gala apples.
I love the way the cheese stretches just a bit as you bite into it and how the sweet apples and flaky, savory crust play off each other. Just a little bit of bite from the caramelized onions finishes it off. Bon appetit!
I’ve had this tea blend waiting in the wings for almost a year now. I’ve known for AGES that I wanted to do a Phantom menu, but it took me quite a while to figure out exactly what I wanted to make for it. In the mean time, I designed this tea through Adagio Teas and saved it until I was able to make a Phantom menu. And now that time is here, so we can finally enjoy some Music of the Night tea!
I wanted something rich, indulgent, and romantic, so I went with a blend of chocolate and strawberry tea. For a little extra flair, I accented it with strawberry pieces, cocoa nibs, and rose petals. Brew yourself a cup and lose yourself to the Music of the Night!
Happy October, Wonderlanders! Our new book of the month, in honor of Halloween, is The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux! I remember reading it in college and loving all the drama, intrigue, and interesting themes. Plus, the spooky nature of the Phantom makes this book a perfect choice for October.
One of my favorite themes in the book (and maybe the most common) is the concept of angels and demons. I’ve always thought of the Phantom and Raoul’s battle for Christine as symbolic of the battle between Heaven and Hell over the human soul. I’m not sure if this is the intended interpretation or not, but either way I wanted to include an homage to this theme in my menu. Which brings me to Devils on Horseback!
I heard the recipe name tossed around several years ago and looked it up out of curiosity. As it turns out, Devils on Horseback is a fancy name for a dish many of us know and love: BACON. WRAPPED. DATES.
* resists the urge to squeal *
I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m CRAZY about bacon wrapped dates The Mister and I once spent a whole party hanging out by the oven as we waited for tray after tray of bacon wrapped dates to come out, snagging as many as we could before the hostess (my sister) took them away to serve to other, less obsessed guests. So when I saw that I had an opportunity to make them for this menu, I was like UM YES THIS IS HAPPENING.
Halloween is peeking it’s head around the corner, so in the spirit of the season, our new Book of the Month has a spooky vibe: The Phantom of the Opera!
There are so many iconic items from Phantom: masks, roses, pipe organs, chandeliers, sheet music, magical lassos—the list goes on! So naturally, it was pure fun to put this reading kit together. It features cozy Phantom throw pillows, perfectly themed snacks, and even fancy abstract sunglasses made to look like the famous Phantom mask.
Read on, Wonderlanders…and be sure to keep your hand at the level of your eyes! 😉 Read More
In Amelia Writes Again, Amelia tells the story of how her sister Cleo invented a marshmallow game when they were little. The rules: squish a jumbo marshmallow until it’s sticky, then throw it on the ceiling. See how long it sticks and catch it in your mouth when it falls!
I would be lying if I said I didn’t try to play this once as a kid (Mom, if you’re wondering what that weird gray streak on my bedroom ceiling was, now you know). Reading about this game is one of my fondest memories from the Amelia books, so I decided to try my hand at homemade marshmallows for our dessert this month!
This recipe comes from the America’s Test Kitchen youtube channel. The steps are simple, reliable, and easy to follow. I wound up with great marshmallows on my first try, and I’m planning on tweaking the recipe to make chocolate marshmallows for Christmas!
NOTE: This recipe needs to set overnight.
I know what you’re thinking: there’s no tea in the Amelia’s Notebook series! True fact, but there IS hot chocolate. In Amelia’s Are-We-There-Yet Longest Ever Car Trip Notebook, she mentions that Mel’s Diner has thick mugs of hot chocolate with whipped cream on top. Throughout the series, it’s clear that Amelia has a soft spot for diner food, and I could totally see her relishing a steaming cup of Mel’s hot chocolate.
Before now, I never tried to make a tea blend inspired by hot chocolate, so I really enjoyed the challenge. My goal was to create a sweet dessert tea with the creamy, rich flavor you’d expect from a mug of hot chocolate.
I started with a Honeybush Chocolate base (it’s a little lighter and more complex than regular chocolate black tea, allowing other flavors to shine through). Then I added a little Chocolate Chai to deepen the flavor with cinnamon and ginger. The final addition was cream tea to replicate the flavor of whipped cream. Throw in some cocoa nibs for some extra intensity and sprinkles for fun, and you’ve got a cup of tea just like the hot chocolate at Mel’s!
In Amelia’s Notebook, Amelia complains about the terrible cafeteria food at her school, citing the fact that the brownies seem “fossilized” and the mystery mush looks like it’s made of dog food. I think we all have memories of gross cafeteria food (I can recall some particularly slimy sliced turkey), so I thought it would be fun to redeem a tired cafeteria standby: tater tots.
Amelia’s school tater tots are called “tater gems,” but she thinks they taste more like cardboard. To make some delicious, Amelia-worthy tots, I started with a simple recipe for tender, healthy baked tater tots from Wishful Chef and amped it up a bit with garlic powder, minced onion, and snipped parsley. I even made some honey sriracha ketchup to serve on the side! These tater tots are super easy and ultra flavorful. If Amelia’s school served them, they’d be a hit! 🙂
The complete manuscript for my cookbook is due mid October, so it’s currently crunch time at my house. Husband and baby have been very understanding of how much time I currently spend tapping away at my laptop as I make final edits to my manuscript, but I’ll admit I’m SO READY to be done with this stage of the process. I’m a rather detail-oriented person who I often likes editing, but I’ve been applying the correct abbreviation of “tablespoon” and rewriting ingredients in order of use for almost two months now. Needless to say, I’m ready to get back in the kitchen.
Even though editing process can be tough and tedious, I’ve been motivating myself with the promise that I can do some fun reading once it’s complete. Here’s my post-cookbook TBR, which I plan to dive into as soon as I submit my manuscript: