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It has been a helluva long time since I have checked out FGF. Sorry for those of you that have been kind enough to check in and see how I was doing only to get rebuffed by my not updating at all. Apologies. *hugs* If it makes you feel any better, but a month after I finished my first draft I was editing like a mad woman. Book editing may cause symptoms including but not limited to excessive hunger, constipation, lack of sleep, drowsiness, carpal tunnel and the need for AM Espresso Cherry Biscotti.

Before I get to these (see below) I want to talk about the book editing process.

Am-Espresso-Cherry-Biscotti-4

Sorry about that…

Now when I say I was book editing, what I mean is that I did very little else. Eating, exercising and showering because more of an idea than a necessity on some days, and I hate to admit that I scarcely interaction with my family, friends or husband and instead focused on tending to my computer and Napoleon, only because unlike every one else he didn’t want to talk to me he just wanted to serve as lap dog, personal heater and cuddle bug throughout the process. Most days were perfect. I would wake up, feed and let the pup out, munch on nuts or anything else that was immediately at hand and got to work.

My method was simple. Once I finished my draft I printed out each chapter and took a few days per chapter marking it up. I would change names, add scenes, move scenes around, you get the picture. When I was done with a chapter I would grab my computer and input my changes. Sometimes my input days were longer than my mark up days – I wrote a bit much. Once a chapter was finished I would praise myself with something special – gelato from Pitango, ice cream from Ice Cream Jubilee or a quick bite from Tortilla Cafe. Come on, you had to know all of my rewards had to be food related. If there is one thing I love more than pouring my thoughts onto paper it is eating them, hence the food blog (primarily ok, ok sheesh).

Here, another photo to drool over while I continue…

Am-Espresso-Cherry-Biscotti-2

See, I haven’t forgotten why you are really reading this, I just need to get a bit more off my chest first.

So anyway, this pattern (I forgot a lot of words from a multitude of languages for a second – meep!) went on for a month. I did not finish inputing the changes for my final chapter until 3:43AM on July 12th – which is when I went on vacation to South Carolina. Hooray right? It was a huge hooray, but even on vacation I did one last read through. I did it to make sure I didn’t miss anything, so I could catch any really dumb errors (which I found out I didn’t catch them all – ugh) and to finally read through a body of work I had put so much of my blood, sweat, tears and nails into (my nail biting returned with a fierceness I cannot explain).

We vacationed from Saturday to Saturday. I didn’t print out my beta copies until that Thursday. So my real vacation, with no novel to tinker with, was three days – well really a week since my kitchen faucet decided to die and a few other things have held up my days.

Anyway – rewind – how did I get through those early mornings and late nights working on my draft? AM Espresso Cherry Biscotti. You knew I was going to get back to it didn’t you?

Have faith people!

Am-Espresso-Cherry-Biscotti-1

This biscotti, out of any other biscotti recipe I have done has been the best received. Why? Because most of my taste testers are coffee addicts, because these biscotti were perfectly crunchy on the outside with just enough  richness in the center to be a cookie and a crisp. Because cherries are deliciously tart, pistachios are deliciously creamy and espresso is a wake up call. Because they go great with anything, everything and shine on their own. Because… because!

Make a batch and enjoy it while I do the same and work on the next part of the book process – querying an agent! More on that to come.

Abrazos!

AM Espresso Cherry Biscotti
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Start your morning with a piping hot cafecito and a few AM Espresso Cherry Biscotti made with crunchy pistachios, dried cherries and instant espresso.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup instant espresso
  • ¾ cup raw pistachios, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix sugar, butter and vanilla until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
  4. Add espresso, pistachios and cherries, mixing until fully incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  6. Add flour a ½ cup at a time until sticky dough forms.
  7. Shape dough into two equally sized loaves.
  8. Place loaves on baking sheet ensuring that they each have at minimum a three inch buffer on all sides.
  9. Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake biscotti for 35 minutes.
  10. Remove loaves from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  11. Using a serrated knife, cut loaves on an angle into ¾ inch slices.
  12. Stand slices on baking sheet, spacing them at least a ½ inch apart from one another.
  13. Return biscotti to oven and bake for an extra 20-25 minutes, until golden on top and crisp.

Ladies and gents, for this post I have a big announcement to make.

I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT! *applause*

I thought there was no way that I could make this moment better. That is until I realized that I hadn’t shared my Coconut Crumble Lime Bars with you yet. *applause and flowers*

You’re Welcome.

Oh yeah, I did it! Sure, now that I look back on it I can say that I have some really great things going on in my novel and a few things I need to work on, but the truth of the matter is that I wrote over 55K words, and have a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end with some amazing stuff in between. Part of me feels like I should be shouting off of the rooftops, and another doesn’t feel like I have accomplished much. Not because I haven’t, but because I know I have so much more to go.

Coconut-Crumble-Lime-Bars-1-PS

Once I’ve taken enough time away I will go through the book again, chapter by chapter, flagging any issues I see big or small. Day by day I’ll take a few hours to fix some of those flags and continue reading for new ones. When i have all of that settled, and I feel like my novel is the best I can possibly make it, I’ll send it off to my beta readers. That’ll be a nice vacation for me, where I am constantly nauseated and eating my weight in chips and salsa waiting for the feedback. Once I integrate what I agree with and shelf what I don’t, I will be left with the best version of my novel I could come up with. From there it’s all about the agents, and hopefully I’ll have this all done by August so by the end of summer I’ll just be waiting for a good word and laying out the groundwork for book 2.

Coconut-Crumble-Lime-Bars-2-PS

In the meantime, I am taking a few days off of my novel, BT, and am focusing on my recipe development, food photography and FGF. That includes these oh-so-glorious Coconut Crumble Lime Bars. How this came to be stems from my bubbles. Lee loves key lime pie. When I say love, I mean if it was between me and the pie I don’t know who he would choose. I’m just kidding, he would choose me (right?). So I am constantly thinking of ways that I can infuse the flavors he loves into new desserts. Why? Because I get tired of eating the same thing, and I love creating new things, and I LOVE a challenge.

Coconut-Crumble-Lime-Bars-3-PS

I’ve made lemon and lime bars before. Alcoholic or not, they are always the perfect mixture of tangy and sweet. You can always taste every ingredient, I’m big on that, and sugar in my desserts is always used sparingly. Desserts shouldn’t just taste sweet, they should taste sweetened. Anyway, these bars have a one up on any other because of their coconut almond crumble topping. Intrigued? I knew I had you at crumble

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Coconut Crumble Lime Bars
Author: 
Recipe type: Desserts
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 9
 
Coconut Crumble Lime Bars are slightly sweet and tangy with a coconut almond crumble that makes every bite taste like a luscious slice of pie!
Ingredients
  • ½ pie crust, thawed
  • ½ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • ¼ cup flour, all-purpose
  • ½ cup coarse almond flour
  • ½ cup oats, old fashioned
  • ¼ cup sugar, granulated
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 14 oz can condensed milk
  • ¾ cup lime juice
  • 3 tsp lime zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8x8 square pan with parchment paper and grease well. Set aside.
  2. Roll out pie crust on a well-floured surface until ¼ inch thick. Cut out 8x8 inch square of crust and press into bottom of pan.
  3. In a medium sized bowl combine shredded coconut, all-purpose flour, almond flour, oats, sugar and coconut oil. Mix until coarse crumbles form.
  4. Use ⅓ of crumbles to top pie crust evenly. Lightly press crumbles into pie crust.
  5. In another medium sized bowl whisk condensed milk, lime juice and lime zest until mixture is thick and creamy.
  6. Pour condensed milk mixture over pie crust.
  7. Top filling evenly with remaining crumbles.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until crumbles are golden.
  9. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely, then freeze for 30 minutes to set.
  10. Pull up parchment paper to remove bar from pan.
  11. Slice off edges, then slice into 9 equally square pieces.
  12. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sometimes when I am supposed to be writing my book I am too involved thinking about other things. I think about my parents constantly interrupting me with a call while I try to concentrate, the audio technica headphones that could help drown out the sound of Lee killing zombies in his latest video game so I could concentrate, the food I could be eating to stop the rumbling in my stomach so I could concentrate or the riverside estate I dream of in Portugal that would be the ultimate sanctum for me to be a writer and, you know, concentrate.

So in the vein of trying to concentrate, I’m gonna share with you one of my favorite sandwiches of all time – The Marinated Veggie Sandwich!

This sandwich has everything you could want on it. Ok, maybe not. There are a few things you could add to it. I should have said this sandwich has everything it needs to be great. Sure, you could add MORE to it and make it even GREATER, but it is so simple to make and so delicious it is a go to GREAT sandwich.

Did I mention it’s awesome?

Oh right, I meant GREAT!

Marinated Veggie Sandwich-1

This sandi-wich is all full of delicious. Marinated zucchini, red pepper, yellow pepper and orange pepper make up the bulk of what you see. Avocado adds creaminess and cotija adds a bit of salt. You could make this vegan by omitting the cheese, adding nutritional yeast or vegan cheese.

Side Note: I’m not a fan of vegan cheese, or vegan mock meat products. I have a stance that you should eat things as they are in their most wholesome form. I like tofu, but not tofu chicken. I stay away from meat because I don’t like the flavor, so making vegetable based foods taste like meat doesn’t help me at all.

But I digress.

A lot.

Marinated Veggie Sandwich-3

Add a little red onion, some lettuce or peppery arugula and you’ve got yourself a dynamite lunch. This is also a great sandwich for a picnic, packing everything separately so you can build your own sandwiches on the spot. Try it with ciabatta or on a hollowed out Portuguese roll!

Now that I have chosen to write this blog post I will attempt to concentrate once again on my book. Wish me luck, or a sandwich. Either would be quite helpful in this situation….

FGF Nonsense with a Marinated Veggie Sandwich
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Perfect for a picnic at the park or a pick-me-up at home, this Marinated Veggie Sandwich packs grilled lemon marinated zucchini with a rainbow of sweet peppers topped with red onion, lettuce and avocado cream.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper, fresh cracked
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 sweet red pepper, sliced
  • 1 sweet yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 sweet orange pepper, sliced
  • 1 avocado, ripe
  • ½ cup cotija, crumbled
  • 8 slices of whole wheat bread
  • ¼ red onion, thin sliced
  • 4 lettuce leaves
Instructions
  1. In a large ziplock bag combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and zucchini along with the sliced red, yellow and orange sweet peppers.
  2. Press out as much air as possible and zip. Shake bag to combine ingredients and ensure all vegetables are covered. Store bag in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight to marinate vegetables thoroughly.
  3. Preheat grill pan lined with aluminum foil over medium heat.
  4. Spread vegetables over grill pan and cook until vegetables are charred with grill marks. Do this in batches if necessary.
  5. In a small bowl combine 2½ tbsps of left over marinade with avocado. Smash avocado with a fork and combine with marinade until a creamy dressing forms. Fold in cotija cheese and set aside.
  6. Creating one sandwich at a time, take one slice of bread and spread with a heaping tablespoon of avocado cream.
  7. Top with a few slices of red onion, marinaded zucchini and peppers, a lettuce leaf and another slice of bread.
  8. Repeat with remaining ingredients to create a total of 4 sandwiches.

I know you clicked on this because of the photo, and of course because of the promise that you would get the recipe for this delicious Habanero Porcini Mac and Cheese. I am here to tell you that you aren’t wrong. Of course I am going to give you the recipe. I’m even going to give you more mouthwatering pictures to look at. But, in latin style, I am also going to take about a whole lot that had nothing to do with the Mac and Cheese. Dale? Good.

So I am going to start with the More part of this post. It’s all about the fantasy book I have been working on. It will have been a year in August since I first thought of the idea. I have been working on, as in writing it out, for about 9 months. It’s been an adventure to say the least. I am currently coming up to my last chapter and though that will be a feat, the real work comes when I have to go back and edit. I thought I would take a moment here and write a bit of what my method is. Just in case a few of you are also writers at heart.

Habanero-Porcini-Macaroni-and-Cheese-4PS

Just a reminder that this is coming, further down, I swear.

Have an Outline

Now, that doesn’t mean that I have my whole store figured out but it does mean that I have bits and pieces that I know, 100 % are going to happen. It’s like you are looking out of your window and you see mountain tops but you can’t see the valleys. When I write I can see the mountain tops, and as I write the valleys develop. I know where my characters are going but I don’t know how they will get there, who they will encounter or what they will do.

Honestly, sometimes I am surprised by what my characters do. That may sound strange, but my characters are their own people and they develop before my eyes as children do in front of their parents. Sure I gave them all of their genetics but after that it’s been all them.

Make Some Deadlines

As a freelancer I have deadlines all the time, because other people are counting on me to turn in my work. When I am writing my book there is no one counting on me to turn it in, on the contrary, I am writing so that one day I can have a person that is counting on me to turn it in. Hello literary agents and publishers, I am working so that one day you will give me deadlines. But until then I make my own. I don’t have deadlines per day, as in I must write 2K words a day or anything. What I do have are larger goals. I wanted to write this book and send it off to agents in a year, and I am coming up pretty close to that.

This past year I have moved on from my 9-5 as a paralegal, become a freelancer, gotten married and started a book. That’s a lot to take in, so I gave myself a year to do it. I have had deadlines for my outline, for my 20K, 35K, and 50K word counts (thanks NaNoWriMo) and for querying.

Hold true to your deadlines.

Don’t drive yourself crazy like I do, having panic attacks because I am a month away from my FINISH THE BOOK deadline and having to leave a bakery after having eaten 6 cupcakes because I couldn’t handle it. Stay on top of it. No one will ever work harder for what you want than you can.

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A short interlude for further salivation as we continue…

Take Time Off

I don’t mean go on a vacation for 3 months backpacking the world, though if you do then awesome. I mean you should never bog yourself down with work. Sure, you can have a mini breakdown now and then, but make it a habit of taking time away from the story, the computer, your notes and created universe and focus on something else.

Take your mini woolly mammoth for a walk, go take a spinning class, paint, take a walk and observe strangers, have an ice cream, go on a date, etc. From getting my nails done to walking my little mountain goat (he’s really a mini woolly mammoth – ok he’s a toy schnauzer) to the capitol, it keeps you sane and does wonders for your work.

Enjoy This Time

Writing your book and finishing it is impressive. Deal with it. Give yourself a pat on the back. No matter where you go from here, you have accomplished something that many have not. It is really easy to start a book, the real work is finishing it.

Once I finish this thing, before I start to edit I am going to Tortilla Cafe by Eastern Market and treating myself to a pupusa platter, a plantain platter and a passion fruit juice. Oh yeah. It’s gonna be good. And when that’s all over and my belly has returned to its pre-Tortilla Cafe Size in a day or two I will ruthlessly edit. Then I’ll give a complete copy to my beta readers, make any changes I see fit, write that query and send my baby off into the wild literary world.

Dream Big

It kills me when all of these authors say that they never expected to make any money off of their books. Everyone expects money, the shock is in those few that get a boat load. We all dream of our books making it big. Every weekend my husband and I walk to Eastern Market and daydream together about what we would do if I was a successful author. Not like J.K. or even Stephanie Meyer or Veronica Roth. I just don’t want to have to worry about money. Easy enough, right?

So if I could write and not worry about money, what would I do?

What would we do?

Besides pay off the credit cards, the school loans and the condo… I’d go to Tortilla Cafe and order every vegetarian option on the menu and feast like a queen! (I’ve gone there for every big moment in my life – graduation, engagement, rehearsal dinner, after getting married, after honeymoon etc.). I’d help my parents pay off their house and hopefully buy a little house in Portugal by the river where I could write, cook and grow vegetables to my little hearts content.

Dreaming big gives us something to strive for, whether it’s jumping in a pool of mini marshmallows or having a river plot to call home – in the end it’s all up to you.

And that’s it for now on the writing. :)

On to the Habanero Porcini Mac and Cheese



Habanero-Porcini-Macaroni-and-Cheese-3psI’ve been working on keeping my word. So far so good.

On to the Habanero Porcini Mac and Cheese! This stuff is the bomb. It is cheesy, spicy, smokey, salty and hearty. Who knew a mac and cheese could be so many things? My favorite part of it is all that smokey chorizo. I have been known to go through the pot and eat as many bits of chorizo I can before serving my guests, including the hubs. I can’t help it. I am addicted. A vegetarian that eats smoked chorizo and crispy bacon whenever it’s available may seen taboo, but that’s ok. I mean, it’s not like I convinced you I was this die hard vegetarian or anything… right?

Habanero Porcini Mac and Cheese + More
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Habanero Porcini Macaroni and Cheese is full of flavor with earthy roasted mushrooms, spicy habanero pepper jack cheese and flavorful smoked chorizo sprinkled on top.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb macaroni, whole wheat
  • 16 oz porcini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour, all-purpose
  • 2 cups almond milk, unsweetened
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • 8 oz habanero pepper jack cheese
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup smoked chorizo, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a sheet pan combine porcini mushrooms and olive oil. Toss to coat each mushroom evenly. Transfer to oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until mushrooms are caramelized and reduced in size. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan on medium heat add butter and flour. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, whisking continuously until thick.
  4. Pour in almond milk, whisking continuously until the sauce thickens and bubbles. Let stand, whisking occasionally to prevent sticking, for 5 minutes.
  5. Add whipping cream to roux and whisk until fully incorporated.
  6. In a large pot boil water and cook macaroni according to manufacturer’s directions. Drain and set aside.
  7. Meanwhile, add habanero jack and mozzarella cheese into roux, whisking vigorously until incorporated.
  8. Pour macaroni into roux and mix until each macaroni is covered.
  9. In an oiled oven safe baking pan or dish, add half of the macaroni. Top macaroni with mushrooms.
  10. Mix ¼ cup chorizo into remaining macaroni and spoon over mushroom layer.
  11. Sprinkle remaining chorizo on top of final macaroni layer.
  12. Transfer dish to oven and bake for 20 minutes, until chorizo is crisp and top is golden.

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Get a sneak peek at what's been going on...

AM Espresso Cherry Biscotti because it’s been a while…

25th July 2014 by Carolyng

It has been a helluva long time since I have checked out FGF. Sorry for those of you that have been kind enough to check in and see how I was doing only to get rebuffed by my not updating at all. Apologies. *hugs* If it makes you feel any better, but a month after I finished my first draft I was editing like a mad woman. Book editing may cause symptoms including but not limited to excessive hunger, constipation, lack of sleep, drowsiness, carpal tunnel and the need for AM Espresso Cherry Biscotti. Read more…

Coconut Crumble Lime Bars and an Announcement!

11th June 2014 by Carolyng

Ladies and gents, for this post I have a big announcement to make.

I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT! *applause*

I thought there was no way that I could make this moment better. That is until I realized that I hadn’t shared my Coconut Crumble Lime Bars with you yet. *applause and flowers*

You’re Welcome. Read more…

FGF Nonsense with a Marinated Veggie Sandwich

3rd June 2014 by Carolyng

Sometimes when I am supposed to be writing my book I am too involved thinking about other things. I think about my parents constantly interrupting me with a call while I try to concentrate, the audio technica headphones that could help drown out the sound of Lee killing zombies in his latest video game so I could concentrate, the food I could be eating to stop the rumbling in my stomach so I could concentrate or the riverside estate I dream of in Portugal that would be the ultimate sanctum for me to be a writer and, you know, concentrate.

So in the vein of trying to concentrate, I’m gonna share with you one of my favorite sandwiches of all time – The Marinated Veggie Sandwich! Read more…

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