First-Time Author Heartbreak

I’ve just returned from the post office. I’m confused, angry, hurt, and feel used. At the same time, I’m thankful for my friends, colleagues, fans, and everyone else that, you know.. Doesn’t try to screw me over.

Let me start at the beginning of the whole sordid ordeal.

On October 31, just 2 short weeks ago, my husband and I returned from a trip to Chicago. We were still basking in the afterglow of the great time we had, when I checked my email. I always dread sorting through a pile of email when we return from a trip. This time, we had an email that sent my heart soaring.

It was sent by Megan, the book buyer for Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cleveland Ohio. She had come across a postcard for my book – The Spirited Baker and wanted to include it on their cookbook table for the holiday season!


Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake

Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake.

Hey everyone!

Still recovering from this weekend’s trip to Chicago, so I’m posting today’s entry without a ton of commentary 🙂

This Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake is one of the recipes from our boozy cookbook, The Spirited Baker. (Have your copy yet? If not, what are ya waiting for?!). The aroma of the cake – even while still in the oven – evokes warm images of Thanksgiving, Christmas eve, seasonal get togethers, etc. Yum!

Oh, and this cake is ridiculously easy to make – anyone cake do it! – and requires absolutely NO decorating!Bonus!

Note: This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. While I’ll only ever link to items that I, personally, wholeheartedly recommend, I do need to put that disclosure out there!

Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake

Brandied Apple Upside Down Cake

Interested in making wickedly delcious cakes? You’ll LOVE my second cookbook, Evil Cake Overlord! We’ve long been known for our “ridiculously delicious” moist cakes and tasty, unique flavors. Now, you can have recipes for all of the amazing flavors on our former custom cake menu, and many more! Bake your moist work of gastronomic art, then fill and frost your cake with any number of tasty possibilities. Milk chocolate cardamom pear, mango mojito.. even our famous Chai cake – the flavor that got us into “Every Day with Rachel Ray” magazine!

Feeling creative? Use our easy to follow recipe to make our yummy fondant. Forget everything you’ve heard about fondant – ours is made from marshmallows and powdered sugar, and is essentially candy – you can even flavor it! Order your copy here.

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Marie’s Low Country Boil

Marie’s Low Country Boil

Everyone’s heard variations on the saying “The cobbler’s kids go barefoot”, and it’s not all that different around here at times. Sure, we have great meals on a regular basis.. but when things get super busy, we tend to lose all creativity and drive, and slap together one of our go-to meals. Easy, little effort, and very satisfying. In winter, that usually ends up being chili.. but in summer, we love our low country boil.. not a common thing here in Minnesota, but it is SO freaking good! It’s also pretty much the ideal meal for getting together – and would be great for a rehearsal dinner or small, casual wedding dinner.

Hubby and I actually planned to do a Low Country Boil (AKA “Frogmore Stew” for our own rehearsal dinner, but his stepmother already had something planned. Figured I’d put that out there for those of you looking for new and unique ideas to employ in your own wedding plans!

This Southern dish can be done so many ways, and we never do two exactly the same. It can be a quick and easy meal for 2, or it can be the basis for a GREAT cookout party with friends. Additionally, it can be a frugal, thrifty thing.. or as extravagant as you want.

The basic ingredients are very basic: Corn, Smoked Sausage, Shrimp, Potatoes, Lemons, Seasoning

You get a big pot of seasoned water boiling, and one by one add the ingredients to the pot, starting with potatoes (take the longest to cook), and ending with shrimp (take very little time to cook).

Of course, I never do anything the way you’re supposed to.. and besides, I’m not even southern. That means I’m exempt from any rules that may be applied here, right? LOL.

The big change I like to make is with the seasoning. You’re “supposed to” use Old Bay Seasoning for this. Not only is that boring, but the salt content is insane, and besides.. customization is always more fun! I like using a mix of fresh (onions, garlic, green onions, jalapenos, etc) and dried (sage, pepper, dried mustard, parsley, bay leaves, etc) ingredients to flavor my broth.

You can also start your broth off in different ways – use some chicken broth, boil fresh shrimp shells (without the shrimp in them!) for added flavor – just remove the shells before adding your food and other seasonings in! Also, adding a can or two of beer to your water / broth adds a great flavor. Any of these is a much better option than just water and Old Bay Seasoning, in my not so humble opinion!

The ingredients are also customizable. Corn, Potatoes, Shrimp, and Sausage are a good solid foundation.. but feel free to add clams, mussels, and even crab legs. It’s your stew!

Now that I’ve made the whole thing sound way more complicated than it is, let me give you a basic recipe for it, and let you just have at it :). This makes a substantial amount of food, so don’t be surprised if you have leftovers. It also makes ridiculously good food, so don’t be surprised if you don’t have leftovers because everyone gorged till they had nothing left to eat!

Marie's Low Country Boil

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Celebrating Pi Day in style. Or something like it.

If you are looking for our epic, “internet famous” Pi Backsplash, check it out here

When hubby and I were setting a date for our wedding, he floated the suggestion of pi day. He was completely serious, by the way.

While his suggestion got vetoed, it did sort of pave the way for how we’d be spending March 14th *every year* thereafter. We host a Pi Day Party… honestly putting way more effort into that, than we do our own wedding anniversary! In hindsight, maybe I shoulda just caved on the date 🙂

While I appreciate nerdiness/geeking out in almost any form, I’ve always been confused by his obsession uh.. extremely enthusiastic appreciation.. for pi. But then, irrationality in any form tends to get on my nerves 🙂 (That was a lame pi joke, for the record.. not *totally* a dig at my husband!)

(A bit of explanation for the less nerdy of my readers. Pi Day is the day that celebrates Pi, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to it’s diameter. You know, 3.14159265358979323.. etc etc. 3.14… 3/14.. March 14.. get it? It’s also Einstein’s birthday. )

Pi day in the Porterhouse starts about a week and a half before the actual date, with the construction of our own custom “pi-nata”. Yes, a pinata shaped like the pi symbol! Last year, we posted a tutorial – Click here to check it out.

While you may not have the time or inclination to take on such a project for yourself at this time, there are many small, fun things you can do to celebrate Pi Day. I find Pi day is an excellent excuse to clean the house and have some friends over, at the very least. You know… and bake pie.

– Have a pie potluck party! I’ll be making a lingonberry-orange zest pie this year, looking forward to see what everyone else brings – even though I’m going low carb at the moment, and actually behaving myself with regards to being allergic to wheat (sob!). Ah well. I’m sure it’ll all smell good anyway 🙂

– At 1:59pm, (again.. 3.14159…), we’ll be toasting pi (and Einstein)… with PInapple punch. Even better yet… this year, we invested in the Pi symbol ice cube tray from ThinkGeek. We’ll have icy little pi symbols floating in the punch, and more used to garnish the glasses. Very Cute.

ThinkGeek actually has a bunch of cute pi themed goodies, check them out

– Pi Day Trivia! I’d post the link from where I got our questions, but… I know a few of our guests read this blog 🙂

– Read off Pi-ku (Haiku with a pi theme!), and then have a pi-ku writing contest.).

– Pi Day joke telling. This gets interesting. By “interesting”, I mean the kinds of terrible “punny” jokes that my father in law thrives on. (I’m talking on the order of “What do you get when you cut a jack o’lantern by its diameter? A: Pumpkin Pi!” Groan!).

– Pi Day Sudoku! Click here for the Pi sudoku that managed to fry everyone’s brain at last year’s party!

– Serve pizza. Not only is it ripe for another play on words (PI-zza), it’s round. Perfect. This year, I’ll be repeating my “St Patrick’s Day” pizza recipe that I made last year. This year, I’ll probably get around to actually posting the recipe. Trust me, it’s worth the wait – insanely yummy, and *completely* unlike any pizza you’ve ever tried. Guaranteed.

– Cookies! I bought this cookie cutter last year. Expensive, but GREAT quality. Love it. May end up using it to cut pie/pizza dough to decorate the other food items, in addition to making pi cookies.

– Get stuff. I had no idea that other people were as obsessed ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H enthused about pi as my husband is, but there must be quite the pi-cult out there – just found this site, and many others. This one in particular has a ton of cute stuff. Maybe next year!

– Of course, recite pi to whatever insane number of digits you happen to have memorized. I consider myself pretty sane at just 10-12ish digits off the top of my own head.. my husband is quite proud of the fact that he used to know 205 digits. Holy crap. If there was any doubt as to the fact that I married the biggest nerd out there, they’re pretty much quashed at this point. One of the things I love most about him though (the nerd factor, not pi recitation in specific!).*

– I got a bit silly with preparations, and used one of the ice cube trays to make a bunch of melt-and-pour glycerin soaps. Not only will there be a set of 4 pi shaped soaps in each of our bathrooms, each guest will be taking home a little 2 piece set, wrapped in a little pouf of cellophane, and tied of with a green (St Patty’s Day!) ribbon. Martha Stewart, eat your heart out!

So… that’s our pi day suggestion list in a nutshell. Do you have any fun ways to celebrate Pi Day yourself? Be sure to tweet, facebook comment, or email them to us.. or just comment here! We’d love to hear about it!

* Plus, I can’t say much. I used to have the entire periodic table of elements memorized. Not just name/symbol, but location, and most of the atomic weights. Ya. I’d pretty much be a hypocrite if I held his 205 digits of pi thing against him 🙂