Author Archive

Butter Chicken

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Butter Chicken from MomAdvice.com

I am the queen of adapting takeout food at home. From lo mein noodles to restaurant-worthy steaks to fish tacos, there is little that I haven’t been willing to try to save money. When I visited my friends in Colorado we enjoyed  a delicious night of Indian takeout and I fell in love with Butter Chicken. Have you had it? It’s so rich and delicious, just as you would expect from its name. I knew when I got home that I wanted to attempt making the dish and I set out to find a recipe that would adapt to my small town supermarket.

One of the ingredients in this recipe is a spice combo called garam masala, that you will find is used in many Indian dishes. After standing in our spice aisle for a good half hour, I discovered our store did not have it (or apparently was out of it on the day I decided to be adventurous!). Since I had already visited three stores that day, I found this recipe for making your own garam masala spice combo out of spices you likely have lurking in your pantry. It was easy to know what I already had thanks to my newly organized spice cabinet and this saved me some money especially since I wasn’t sure if my family would love this dish as much as me.  If your store doesn’t have this spice too, this diy recipe will do in a pinch or you can order the real stuff online.

With basmati rice in my rice cooker and my Ninja Cooker  for my frying and then warming (The greatest gift of an appliance to busy moms. Amen. AND on sale. Ahem.), this was an easy dish to prepare and to double.

I also noticed that our ALDI has boneless skinless chicken thighs now and at around $4-5 for two pounds of meat, it is a very economical dish to make at home. You can basically make enough for your whole family instead of just indulging in one small takeout dish. For this frugal girl, that is a true bonus!

Butter Chicken from MomAdvice.com

Although I intended to be flashy and show off my gluten-free naan to accompany this dish, I still need to work on tweaking the recipe.

Don’t worry, I haven’t given up yet (but maybe my poor mixer and dirty kitchen have).

Butter Chicken from MomAdvice.com

If you haven’t had Butter Chicken before it is DIVINE and a great way to dip your toes into Indian cooking and eating. It’s a mildly spiced curry dish and you can do the majority of the preparations the night before which makes it an easy weeknight meal. The chicken is marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and a variety of spices (including that garam masala we talked about!) overnight. The next day, you simply cook the meat and add a creamy tomato sauce to finish it off.

I hope you can give this dish a spin in your house and I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

Next on my cooking agenda?

Tikka Masala!

Oh, and I will nail that gluten-free naan.

It’s a promise.

Butter Chicken from MomAdvice.com

Butter Chicken
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 35 mins
 
Butter Chicken is an affordable dish you can make at home instead of relying on takeout. Be sure to read my notes about substitutions for small town markets! Oh, and double it! You'll thank me!
Ingredients
  • ½ cup full-fat plain yogurt (do not substitute with Greek yogurt!)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala (see my notes above to make your own spice combo)
  • ½ tsp chili powder or cayenne pepper powder (you can go lighter if your family prefers a less spicy dish)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into pieces
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup tomato passata or puree (I used crushed tomatoes because that is what our store offered. If you prefer a smoother consistency substitute with tomato sauce and use a little tomato paste to thicken)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup- ¾ cup heavy cream (we went a little lighter with half-and-half)
  • Rice
  • Coriander/cilantro (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the marinade ingredient in a bowl. Dice your chicken thigh meat and place in a food storage bag. Pour the sauce over the chicken, seal, and shake bag to coat your chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 24 hours.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a large fry pan. Add the chicken coated in the Marinade and cook for around 3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked on the outside. It has a yellow hue thanks to the tumeric!
  3. Add the tomato passata (or crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce with the addition of a little tomato paste to thicken), sugar and salt. Turn down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Do a taste test to see if it needs more salt. Stir through the cream, then remove from heat.
  5. Garnish with coriander/cilantro leaves if using. Serve with basmati rice.

 Slightly Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things: Werewolves, Trips to Spain, & Forensics

Friday, April 8th, 2016

vail

I hope you are having a wonderful week. It is Spring Break in Indiana and my daughter and I went on a trip to see our BFF’s out in Colorado. We managed to squeeze in plenty of deer sightings, a trip to Garden of the Gods, antiquing, a day in Vail, and an afternoon in Breckenridge. Did I mention we did this in the matter of two days? We had some incredible tour guides! While we were doing all that, our son was having the time of his life with his grandma & grandpa catching the sites in Indy. What a memorable year this will be.

Here are a few other things I am enjoying this week!

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

One Night Ultimate Werewolf

Our friends invited us to join them and and another couple, who are really into board games like us, for a delicious dinner and game night. How lucky are we? They brought One Night Ultimate Werewolf to play and after we got done playing, Ryan got to ordering it the next day. Yup, it was that fun. I had never heard of it. Have you?

This is a great group game (ideally six or more people)  and the game is composed of two people, werewolves and townsfolk. The objective of the werewolves is to kill off all the villagers without themselves being killed. The objective of the townsfolk is to figure out who the werewolves are and kill them. One of the townsfolk is a seer, who has the ability to tell whether other players are werewolves or not.

The game works with an app that will tell each player what to do, for example, “Werewolves open your eyes,” so that you know who the other werewolves are.  Other things that can happen are that different roles may be required to switch cards or peek at cards, as directed by the app while everyone’s eyes are closed. Once everyone opens their eyes, you share why you aren’t the werewolf, defending your case that you are a townsfolk. The better the liar, the stronger the game. At the end, you decide who you think the werewolf is.

Each round takes about ten minutes and it is a BLAST. It can be played with kids although every time my daughter said, “I’M NOT THE WEREWOLF. I’M THE DRUNK,” it made me laugh (which she did not appreciate).

I also rediscovered that all those years of lying as a kid REALLY pay off in this game.

If you are looking for a fun, easy, and quick group game, I can’t recommend it enough. We are so happy our friends shared this one with us!

 

Vina Fuerte Tempranillo La Mancha Wine

A New ALDI Wine to Love

I love trying out the new wine offerings from ALDI. As you know, one of my favorite bottles is their Chianti. Well, Chianti, there is a new sheriff in town, and it is this Spanish red wine, Viña Fuerte Tempranillo Crianza. It is $4.99 a bottle, making it an affordable weeknight splurge. The wine is dry and has notes of black cherry and plum with a hint of clove and spice.  If you are looking for a new red to try, this is a great one for the price point!

The Poisoner's Handbook

The Poisoner’s Handbook

We are still trying to make the most of that Prime membership and, thankfully, there are plenty of fun documentaries to watch. We started watching, The Poisoner’s Handbook, which is a documentary about the first dive into forensics. It’s an exploration of how forensics was used to explain murders that happened in the 20th century. I can’t rave enough about this because they do such a great reenactment of what happened along with forensic experts that share the process. Of course, prohibition and no regulations on what you can add to household products and cosmetics, made it so much harder to figure out if death were caused by murders or by the items that everyone was using in their home.


Here is the trailer for it! It’s really well done and I learned so much about the pioneers of forensics. Hope you can use your Prime membership for this one too and learn a lot like I did this week!

This week I’m…

Reading: This book for my local book club. Have you read it yet? It looks really good!

Eating: We are testing Indian recipes this week for the blog. Fingers crossed for our gluten-free naan tonight!

Toms Leila Booties

Wearing: My only souvenir from Colorado in a little shop that had ONE pair of these for a mere $49. Be still my beating heart. They feel like slippers inside. I can’t rave enough. Did I mention they mold to your feet and I wore them all day as a tourist and never had a sore foot or blister. YES!!

Laughing: Enjoy the hilarious Pocahontas number. I’m still laughing!

Happy Friday, friends!

 *this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

 

How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Using a rice cooker to make quinoa is a game-changer- it’s such an easy way to make this healthy food and have it ready for delicious meals like Greek Quinoa Salad, Pizza Quinoa Mushrooms, or Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls! Originally published in 2012, this remains one of our most-pinned and searched recipes.

I have discovered a new favorite food and it happens to be healthy for me too! Quinoa is a delicious protein-filled side or main dish that is as just as easy as rice to prepare. Today I want to show you how to make quinoa in your rice cooker. You won’t believe how easy it is to make rice cooker quinoa and the best part is that you can make a weekly batch and enjoy it all week long to add or create other dishes with.

What is Quinoa?

Thanks to a little site called Pinterest, quinoa is quickly becoming one of the hottest foods this year to try to create new recipes with.

Quinoa, pronounced (KEEN-wah) is a very nutritious gluten-free seed that originates from the Andean region of South America. Quinoa is a fantastic source of protein, contains all eight amino acids, is a good source of dietary fiber, contains B Vitamins, and iron.

Though it is smaller than rice, barley, farro and bulgur, quinoa looks like a grain, thanks to its neutral coloring and hard exterior. In reality, it is actually a seed that originates from the cousin of the spinach plant. When cooked, these seeds expand rapidly and significantly, become tender but chewy and expel spirals that boast the slightest crunch.

What Does Quinoa Taste Like?

After cooking quinoa in a  liquid of your choice (water, chicken broth, or vegetable broth),  it becomes light, fluffy,  and nutty. I find the flavor of quinoa to taste a little like couscous and a little like brown rice. It is one of those grains that is difficult to describe, but worth trying simply for the nutritional benefits it offers.

I Don’t Have a Rice Cooker. How Do I Cook Quinoa on the Stovetop?

To cook quinoa on the stove, measure two cups of liquid per cup of quinoa and combine them in a sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a vigorous boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered until the quinoa is tender, but still chewy and white spiral-like threads appear around each grain. This should take approximately fifteen minutes.

What Rice Cooker Do You Recommend?

A year ago I bought this inexpensive rice cooker for about $20 and I have been using it two to three times a week ever since.  It provides consistently great brown rice, white rice, steamed vegetables, and quinoa for our family with very little work on my part. It does take up valuable space in my kitchen, but it has earned its rights to the space by saving me a lot of time hovering over pots!

Is Quinoa Good Plain?

I don’t really love quinoa plain, but I think it is a great building block for creating healthy dishes. For example, my favorite dish right now is to simply add the zest from one lemon to the cooking liquid (in the recipe I have shown you below). Then I chop a few handfuls of baby spinach and a pint of cherry tomatoes (halved) and place them in a large serving bowl. Cook the quinoa as directed and then put the hot quinoa on top of the spinach and tomatoes and allow it to wilt the spinach and cook the tomatoes with its heat for about five minutes. Then toss it all with the juice from one lemon and a little drizzle of olive oil. You can serve the salad warm or cold and I have found it to be a hit at every party I have ever taken it.

Other ingredients you can add are sauteed mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, or white beans for a double whammy of protein power. Be creative with what you have leftover in your fridge, and put together your own flavorful combination.

5.0 from 1 reviews
How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Quinoa in the rice cooker is easy as 1,2,3. This is a simple and fool-proof way to make delicious quinoa that you can enjoy all week long in your recipes or as a protein-packed side dish.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups liquid (low-sodium chicken broth, low-sodium vegetable broth, or water)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Using a fine mesh sieve rinse 1 cup of organic quinoa in cold water (Note: the brand pictured here does not require a rinse, but I wanted to show you how to do it if it does. Read the back of the box/bag to find out if rinsing is necessary).
  2. Pour rinsed quinoa into your rice cooker.
  3. Add your liquid and salt.
  4. Turn on your rice cooker. When the rice cooker beeps, you will have perfectly cooked quinoa (approximately fifteen minutes)
  5. Unplug the cooker. Allow quinoa to set for three to five minutes and then fluff with a fork.


Have you cooked with quinoa before? What is your favorite way to serve this food? Any tips or tricks for cooking it? I’m all ears!

Disclosure: The link to the rice cooker is an affiliate link and is provided so you can locate what you need quickly and easily.

 

 

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Amy’s Notebook 04.06.13

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Palette Play House via A Subtle Revelry

Source: A Subtle Revelry

 

A playhouse made from pallets- WOW!

A real struggle with living in excess- oh, how I can relate.

No More Sandwiches! 20 non-sandwich lunch recipes.

Joanna Goddard’s mother shares her beauty uniform & it is perfect.

The best pinners to follow- lots of eye candy in these pin boards!

50 books every modern teenager should read.

What a brave piece to share. This is more than a home tour, more of a heart tour.

Egg-Ham and Greens Cups via Design Mom

Source: Design Mom

 

These baked ham and egg cups with dressed greens look like a fantastic breakfast!

Eek! I am so excited- we are IN LOVE with this illustrated series!

11 WiFi network names that put yours to shame.

Happy mail inspiration- what a sweet exchange!

DIY yarn wall hanging- you know I love this!!

The internet is not real life- a glimpse at how creatives approach Instagram.

REALLY loved this short film on the creator of The Oatmeal.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

How To Start A Successful & Fun Book Club

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

I couldn’t be more exited about this fun and inspiring guest post from my fellow book-lover and friend, Nicole Bennet! I LOVE book clubs, Nicole’s tips are great, and her club? Adorable!

How to start a successful and fun book club with Nicole Bennet for MomAdvice

For someone who had been devouring books since learning to read, and had enjoyed talking about books almost as much as reading them, last year was the first time I had the realization that I’d never been a part of a real, in-person book club.

I decided it was time to change that. I’d recently seen some inspiration both in real life and online, and had some ideas about what would constitute a fun, engaging group, so I made a simple plan and jumped in.

The result? It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all of us. And the takeaway? I wish I’d done this sooner!

In case some of you bookworms might be feeling the pull to gather some people who you can discuss books with, I thought I’d share the details of how I got mine started– it can be as simple or elaborate of a venture as you want it to be, and bonus: you don’t have to do all the leg work if that intimidates you.

lake house book club

How to Start a Book Club

The Members

The first step: choosing whom to join up with. I chose two friends at church who I often found myself discussing books with, Sarah and Susan. We happen to have pretty similar tastes in books so we had been frequently reading the same books already.

I approached both of them, and when they expressed interest, I asked them each to invite a friend if they wanted. Susan invited Hannah, and then I invited another reader friend, too, Rena. We decided to keep it fairly small, and got started.

After a couple of months, I ran into Amie, a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. She commented that she’d seen me briefly mention my new book club on my blog. Did we have room for one more? I ran it by the group, and we decided we’d love her to join us. Amie jumped in for the next book, making us six, and our group has felt like a great size.

There’s no perfect number for a book club, but we’ve found that keeping our group pretty small makes gatherings simpler and discussions have plenty of space for everyone to share their opinions.

Choosing Books

At the end of each meeting, we draw a name of someone who hasn’t yet chosen a book. That member then gets to pick the book and host the next meeting if she wants. Easy Peasy! Sometimes we pick a book we’ve all had on our to-read list, and other times some of us end up reading something we wouldn’t have otherwise picked.

So far we’ve read Where’d Ya Go Bernadette? (my choice), In the Unlikely Event (Rena’s choice), The Lake House (Sarah’s choice), and next up is The Nightingale (Hannah’s choice).

Frequency

For now, we’ve decided to meet seasonally, as I originally wanted to make our club fairly laid back. We all have other commitments in the evenings and weekends (like Bible study or church small group, or kids’ sports games) so I didn’t want it to add stress to our lives. It’s worked out to meet about every three months, which gives us plenty of time to acquire (often via library holds waiting lists) and read the book, and also have time to keep reading plenty of other books.

Maybe you’ll choose monthly or bi-monthly, or keep meetings spread farther out like us– do what works for your group.

After a couple of months have passed from our last meeting, the next host will send out a Doodle (a brilliant little free tool), which lists a handful of possible dates/times to meet. We all fill it out to see which time slot works for everyone and get the next date on the calendar.

Discussion

Whoever chooses the book runs our discussion. Sometimes we find questions online (often the publisher or author has questions on their website), other times we just let the discussion flow. Either way, we all usually end up leaving book club liking the book even more after having talked about it together.

unlikely event book club

Theme

My favorite aspect of our club has been designing our gatherings– we follow the theme, setting, and time period of our book to spark inspiration– it’s so fun!

Sarah is our most careful reader (and also happens to be a total foodie), so she has volunteered to keep a running list of food mentioned in each of our books as she reads. She then emails it out and we use that to draw ideas from and decide what we’ll each bring. It’s fun seeing how food plays a part in the plot of our books, and when we eat together while we chat about the book, it makes us feel somehow more connected to the story (and each other).

bernadette book club

Sometimes we dress up a little, too, or have fun setting the table or coffee table to jive with the feel of the book. For Bernadette, we all donned big sunglasses and and scarves (and Rena even wore a sweet cargo vest!), and for The Lake House we enjoyed Sarah’s beautiful tea set as we snacked (see first photo). This is the area where you can really get carried away and have fun with it if you want.

Our book club has been such a fun way to enjoy each other’s company and feel like we are getting a little extra something out of the books we read together. If you love to read, I highly recommend gathering a few friends to read with.

It doesn’t have to add any stress to your life– life which I’m sure is already full, and possibly busy. On the contrary, it will be sure to add an extra dose of joy and fun.

Nicole takes a book everywhere she goes. She loves encouraging others to read and talking about books, both in real life and on her blog. Sign up for her newsletter and you’ll receive a free ebook titled Read More: Why & How to Make Time for Reading Amidst the Busyness of Life.

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Sundays With Writers: Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

Sundays With Writers

I am so excited to share about another incredible book that I enjoyed this month. Be Frank With Me was included in my March Must-Read recommendations and once you read it, you will know exactly why. It is a charming, funny, and heartwarming story that I enjoyed from start to finish.

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

Frank is one one of the sweetest characters that is so perfectly formed that you just want to give this sweet little boy a hug when you get done with this book. I found myself giggling through some of Frank’s antics and well up when he just couldn’t fit in with his peers. I can’t imagine the research that went into forming all of Frank’s numerous thoughts about actors, movies, and all the fun facts that he had gathered over the years that seemed to consume him. The supporting characters were just as fascinating especially Frank’s eccentric mother.

The only criticism with this one is the ending felt unresolved and wasn’t wrapped up very tidy- it just left me dangling. I am wondering if that is because the author plans a sequel. If so, I can’t wait to read it because I already miss Frank.

Now grab that cup of coffee and settle in for my interview with Julia Claiborne Johnson

Julia Claiborne Johnson

I understand that your debut novel took you five years to write and then one year to edit. What was the writing process like for you over those five years and what helped you persevere for that long to fulfill your dream of writing a book?

Once I got the idea for this book, I felt compelled to write it because its central question seemed so fascinating to me. What’s it like to be the mother of somebody who’s so different from most children that it makes life difficult for everybody? How did Albert Einstein’s mother manage, for example? I wanted to read the Walter Isaacson doorstopper bio of her. Since I couldn’t find a version of that book, I decided to write one. In the beginning, in fact, my novel was called Einstein’s Mom. Until Frank took over. As Frank is prone to do.

Please note: My book is only half-doorstopper in length. Although I wrote thousands of pages before winnowing it down to the 300 or so I ended up with, I wanted my novel to be quicker and lighter than a 750-pager would be. And by “light” I hope I’m not suggesting it’s shallow. I think it’s funny, but during that last year of copy-editing I had to read the final version over and over, sometimes twice in a week, and it still broke my heart every time.

As for the sticking with it until the book was finished, well, if I’d given up anywhere along the way, all the weeks and months and years of work I’d done already would have been for nothing. So I stuck with it.

Hancock Park

(source: wikipedia)

Frank is absolutely obsessed with old Hollywood and facts just spilled and spilled and spilled onto the pages of your book. How much research did you do to prepare for a character like Frank and what is one of the most surprising facts (or favorite Frank fact) that you discovered while researching for this character?

Well, I’ve lived in “Old Hollywood” for the past twenty years. You can walk to Paramount Studios where Fred and Ginger used to dance from my house in Hancock Park, a neighborhood built up in the 1920s and so about the same age as Old Hollywood itself. I’m a ten-minute drive away from what used to be Mann’s Chinese theater, where stars’ handprints are immortalized in cement. The first neighborhood I lived in when we moved out here, Whitley Heights, was walking distance from the handprints. Gloria Swanson, Rudolph Valentino and Jean Harlow all lived in Whitley Heights. I loved all that Old Hollywood stuff before we came out here, and once we got here I was swimming in it day and night.  So everything I soaked up over the years ended up on the page.

You know what my favorite Frank fact was? That George Gershwin died in what was the old Cedars Sinai Hospital, a building now owned by the Scientologists. It’s a huge, and painted bright blue these days. I already knew that fact before I wrote the book, and was so delighted to have the chance to use it. My own children were born in the new Cedars Sinai.  When I was being rolled into the delivery room to give birth my son, the nurse who was in charge of me leaned over me and whispered “Kim Basinger had her baby in this room.” So you see what I mean. “Hollywood” is everywhere out here, whether you like it or not. Luckily for me, I liked it.

Casablanca

What is your favorite old Hollywood film?

I really love Casablanca, which shouldn’t shock you if you read my book since it pops up in it more than once. It was so smart and witty, and I always watched it when it came on television when I was in high school. Years later, I had a teacher who was my all-time favorite named Leslie Epstein. He was arid and hilarious to me in exactly that same way the characters in Casablanca were. Turns out his father and uncle were the identical twin screenwriters who wrote Casablanca. Which thrilled me to pieces, as you can imagine.  I love the idea that a wonderful thing like a particular sense of humor can be passed down from generation to generation, the same way a nose or hair color is.

Despite our abilities as a reader to come to our own conclusion that Frank likely has Asperger’s syndrome, you deliberately chose not to give a label on why Frank was the way he was. Why was it important to you to not include that and do you think it would have changed the plot in some way if Mimi & Frank had uncovered this through their time with the psychologist?

Well, Alice isn’t in on those sessions. That very topic was probably discussed there. But listen, Frank’s diagnosis wasn’t what mattered to me. Frank mattered. I was writing a novel about a unique character, not a psychology textbook. I was very firm in my decision not to label him with anything. I felt saying “Frank is on the autism spectrum” diminished the reader’s experience of his gradual unfolding as a complex individual. I didn’t want anybody going in with preconceived assumptions about him.

Beyond  the “is he or isn’t he on the spectrum,” I was also aiming to write a book about how hard it is to be unusual for any kid, and how helpless it makes parents feel to see their children suffer. Tall, short, fat, skinny, slow on the uptake, too smart for your own good—being different hurts when you’re young. School works best for the kids in the middle. For the outliers, it can be so painful.

Your husband is a comedy writer and there are so many great one-liners in this book that I found myself laughing out loud. Did your husband contribute in any way to some of the humor you added to this story?

Would my novel be less funny if I weren’t married to a comedy writer? I hope that’s not the case. I guess it would be fair to say that living in a house where wit is valued ups my game in a general way. But I was born funny. My husband was born funny. We fell in love with each other because like prefers like—the way the prom queen falls for the prom king because they’re both young and hot and beautiful. So no, aside from being delightful company, my husband didn’t help me in any concrete way. He doesn’t read much fiction anyway. He’s non-fiction all the way. In fact, he only read my manuscript twice—the very first draft, and then, years later, the last draft. His biggest contribution was saying to me, “I don’t know. It seems good.”

Harper Lee

I read that you created Mimi, the reclusive author known as M.M. Banning, as a mash-up of Harper Lee & Salinger. Did you find it quite ironic when Harper Lee’s book, Go Set a Watchman, ended up being published much like Mimi’s work would be?

How crazy is that? I never would have guessed that would happen, though of course I’d tried to imagine what it would be like if something like it did. And then it happened! My agent sent me a clip about all that after my novel had sold already and was being edited.  And here’s the kicker—Harper Lee and I have the same publisher—HarperCollins. Go figure. That’s some kind of crazy kismet.

I have to imagine that Frank was your favorite character to write, but did you have any other favorites that you really loved crafting for this book?

You know who I loved most of all? Mr. Vargas. In my mind he was two of my favorite wise, kind and patient men shaken up together into one: My husband and my old teacher, Mr. Epstein.

Some of the hardest scenes for me, as a reader, were reading about Frank’s struggles with his peers and his inability to fit in at his school. One of my favorite lines, in fact, comes from Isaac when he said, “Frank will be okay, Alice,’ Mr. Vargas said. ‘He’s an odd duck, but brilliant children often are. It may take him a while, but someday he’ll figure out how to live in the world of ordinary mortals.” Was there any scene that you really had a hard time writing for Frank?

I don’t want to reveal plot points, but the scene where Alice goes to the school to hear Frank’s student of the week presentation made me cry as I was writing it. Which is embarrassing to admit. But it kills me. I didn’t realize what was about to happen when I started putting that scene together. Of course, neither did my narrator Alice. I guess she’s a lot tougher than I am because it didn’t bring her to tears. Not on the outside, anyway.

E.F. Hutton Suit

Frank’s fashion stands out so much that it is almost a character in itself. I understand that you have worked in the fashion world so did you have a blast creating Frank’s wardrobe? Did you have a favorite outfit for Frank that you wrote?

I did work as a writer at fashion magazines when I was young. I was boggled by the people in the fashion department—I’d never really encountered visual genius before, but I sure knew it when I saw it. So what if they couldn’t put a coherent sentence together any better than I could put together an outfit? I could write about their clothes forever even if I couldn’t translate what they told me unto anything I put together on for myself. I wanted Frank to be as fabulous as those fashion people were. I wanted everyone to know as soon as they saw him that this Frank kid was something else. Which, of course, can as much a good thing as a bad thing when you’re a kid.

As for my favorite of them all, I was kind of a sucker for the E.F. Hutton suit.  There’s just something so hilarious to me about a little boy in a pinstripe number a middle-aged, all-business guy would wear. And that pinstripe suit had real fashion possibilities. Like the Audrey Hepburn little black dress, it was a canvas a fashion savant could build on. Frank could switch it up with pockets squares and cravats, just like an investment banker would. Although I guess an investment banker would probably steer clear of cravats.

It is unusual for an audiobook to come out before the book, but that is what happened with your book. Why did the publishing house decide to do this with your debut novel and did it help with sales? I also understand you declined being the voice of your audiobook. Why didn’t you want to do that as the author?

I think it was an experiment, to see what would happen if the book came out on audio first. I was up for it experimenting. It sold really well that first weekend, too, I think. Plus I was thrilled to pieces that there was an audio version available, since someone in the very first book group I did has eye issues and couldn’t have experienced the book otherwise. Also, I myself have “read” many books while ironing, weeding, driving or exercising. It’s nice to be able to experience books with your ears and brain when you need to use your hands for something else.

I didn’t want to read for my audiobook myself because I am no actress. Also, I have kind of a hilarious Southern accent, which I don’t notice until I hear a recording of myself. Then I think, Sheesh, you have got an accent on you, girl. I don’t think for the life of me I could have made it go away while I was reading Alice, who is from Nebraska, and the main voice you hear throughout the book. So for those reasons it seemed like a terrible idea for me to read it. Tavia did a great job, didn’t she? I picked her because she was so amazing at doing Frank.

Lastly, what is one of your all-time favorite books? (This will be added to one of our most visited posts of must-reads from the authors featured in Sundays With Writers)

That’s the easiest question you’ve asked me! My favorite book in the world is Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett. It’s beautifully-written, wonderfully imagined, and completely heart-breaking. In it, terrorists seize the mansion of the vice-president of an unnamed South American country during a party that’s being thrown for a Japanese industrialist lured there with the promise of a performance by his favorite opera singer. The industrialist comes, the opera singer performs, guests from all over the world are in attendance; but the terrorist’s real target, the country’s president, skips the party to stay home and watch his favorite telenovela. As the standoff stretches from days into weeks, the hostages and captors for a community that you know can’t last. I’ve read this book so many times that I still have to keep a box of tissues at my elbow for the end game.

And here’s the thrilling footnote to all this: I don’t know what would have happened to Frank without Ann Patchett. When I finished the first draft of my novel late one night, I looked up the name of her agent and sent that agent an email about it. A week later, Ann Patchett’s agent was my agent, too. 

 You can connect with Julia Claiborne Johnson on Twitter or through Facebook!  I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads, through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

It’s the 3 Little Things: 3 Things That Made Me Think

Friday, April 1st, 2016

MomAdvice Family

I hope you guys had a wonderful week! We were dressed to the nines for Easter Sunday. If you can believe it, Emily & I both snagged our dresses on thredUP for nothing!  I had so much credit socked away after cleaning out my closet that I didn’t have to pay a dime for our dresses this year. Did I mention this a Kate Spade dress? What a score!

A tidier closet AND fancy frocks?

Winning!

PS- Did you spy our favorite family member behind us? I think she was mad we didn’t include her in the picture!

Today’s list is three things that I have been thinking about this week that I want to share with you…

The New Yorker Presents

The New Yorker Presents

I shared with you that I’m trying to really make the most of that Prime membership so I was excited to see that Amazon was offering a new exclusive series called, The New Yorker Presents. This is NOT one to watch with your kids, just because many of the topics are controversial, but it is an incredible way of experiencing The New Yorker in a new way.

Each episode is much like flipping through a magazine. You can watch the cartoonist at work, there are short comedic skits, poetry, and at least one REALLY thought-provoking documentary that usually leaves my jaw on the floor.

A few of the highlights for us were the first episode where they explore how the FBI could have prevented the 9/11 attacks… if it had not been for the CIA, the second episode had an incredible piece on bull-riding, and the fourth episode profiled a man who ran a bookstore out of his apartment and a flamboyant gay Mexican wrestling star.

We are just five episodes in, but it has lead to some really great discussions about our views on things. Watch it and tell me what you think!

A Compelling Piece On Race

It has been awhile since I have settled in with a This American Life podcast, but each time I do, I learn something new. A recent episode explored the topic of how people always tell us that we will understand when we get older. The episode starts in adolescence and then works it’s way into the older age. In the middle though, was a piece on adulthood that was really compelling.

Warning: before you listen to it the N word is said repeatedly in it, in reference to a name the two of them are called by racist people!! 

I have put the player for you to listen to this particular piece above.

This American Life Since I am traveling this week and am worried that player won’t load, you can also listen to Act 2 (Adulthood) right here! See, I am covering all my bases this time!

In this piece, comedian Sasheer Zamata does this joke about her mom in her standup act that is about how her mom hates white people. She and her mother finally sit down to talk about why her mom feels this, and Sasheer finds out how mad her mom is at her own mom, for trying to make her get along with white people when she was young. Sasheer is a cast member on Saturday Night Live and there is a lot of humor in this piece, but there is also a lot of raw honesty.

I want you to listen to it too- it really made me think!

 

Summer 2016 Book Releases

Summer Book Reading Recommendations

One perk of this job is getting advanced readers from the publishing houses for upcoming books and promotions. With beach reading in mind, these are a few of the selections I am hoping to read and share with you in the upcoming months!

The A-Z of You & Me by James Hannah

Luck, Love, & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid (you can read my interview with the author here!)

The Year We Turned 40 by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (you can read my interview with the authors here!)

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

The Lie by C.L. Taylor

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Do you see any on this list you are excited about? Have any other books that are on your radar this summer? Let me know!

This week I’m…

Reading: Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon (this looks like a promising debut thriller!)

Eating: Roasted Chicken In Bulk- it saved me during another busy week!

Basking: In the glow of being nominated for an Iris Award for Best Personal Blog in 2016. I can’t stop beaming!

Watching: This beautiful video with Andrew Bird featuring Fiona Apple. I will never tire of her voice!

Happy Friday, friends!

 *this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

March 2016 Must-Reads

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

March 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

I am so excited to share eight books that I read this month with you.  It was a really incredible month of reading and we have even got to feature a couple of these authors in our Sundays With Writers series before revealing this month’s list. Sometimes I just can’t wait for a monthly round-up to connect you with a good book!

Regardless of your taste, I have something for everyone this month. Selections range from true crime to fantasy to historical fiction to contemporary to a memoir-type advice column.  I am hoping one of these books finds its way into your stack since I try to add a lot of variety to each month’s round-up!

As my daughter & I embark on a Spring Break trip together (just us two!!), I am sure I will have many more books to share with you while we are on our break.  Let me know if there is anything that you think I should read while we are on vacation. I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Let’s not waste any more time! Here are 8 new books that I indulged in this month! 

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

If you are a regular reader on the blog, you know I have talked, and talked, and talked about this book. What I want to say is that you should only read my brief description below and go into this one without knowing anything. It will make the book so much more enjoyable- I promise.

This book reads a bit like a mystery as you try to solve the puzzle of a child’s unusual first years of life. The story intertwines with a doctor nearing the end of his career due to a deadly diagnosis and he could be the only one who could make Noah and his mother’s life better. What Noah is suffering from is beyond what any parent could comprehend.

Gripping, thought provoking, and and an excellent pick for any book club!

After you are done reading it, you can read my interview with Sharon Guskin as we discuss her debut novel. It’s a REALLY interesting interview and it gave me a lot to think about! 

5 Out of 5 Stars

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Good grief, Be Frank With Me, was just adorable from start to finish- I can’t recommend it enough!

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

Frank is one one of the sweetest characters that is so perfectly formed that you just want to give this sweet little boy a hug when you get done with this book. I found myself giggling through some of Frank’s antics and well up when he just couldn’t fit in with his peers. I can’t imagine the research that went into forming all of Frank’s numerous thoughts about actors, movies, and all the fun facts that he had gathered over the years that seemed to consume him. The supporting characters were just as fascinating especially Frank’s eccentric mother.

The only criticism with this one is the ending felt unresolved and wasn’t wrapped up very tidy- it just left me dangling. I am wondering if that is because the author plans a sequel. If so, I can’t wait to read it because I already miss Frank.

I am so excited that Julia will be joining us this week for our Sundays With Writers series. You won’t want to miss it- she’s absolutely charming! Be sure to check back on Sunday! 

5 Out of 5 Stars

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

This book was selected by my local book club and was, admittedly, a book that I probably would not have picked up on my own. I am so incredibly glad I read it though and I think you will be too.

I just love when a book educates you on a time in history that you have been completely unaware of. Ryan pulls off a magnificent literary feat by tackling six decades set in Taiwan over the course of the twentieth century. It is horrific what so many endured during this time and begins with the story of the unnamed narrator’s father being captured because he is suspected of Communist activities. He is kept for over a decade in brutal and inhumane conditions. It then follows his return home, the unkindness of others, the stress of feeling watched, and the other generations that continue to struggle through the decades with their own issues. It’s far too much to go into in a quick review, but you will learn a lot along the way!

Things I would note with this one. First, I wish I would have educated myself a bit before diving into it. I knew nothing about the Chinese nationalists or the history of Taiwan and the author offers no real introduction into the history of that, assuming the reader can follow along. After a browse through Wikipedia, I was able to understand better, but it was a confusing time in politics and reading that first would have helped me through the book.

Secondly, the book did lag for me in parts, but the good parts in this far outweigh the slow parts. Power through and I hope this time in history is as eye-opening for you as it was me. She is a masterful storyteller and I’m glad I read this!

I am also so very honored that Shawna will be joining us this next month for Sundays With Writers. While researching for this interview, I am astonished at the level of commitment she had to this book. I can’t wait to share that with you! 

Editor’s Note- This book does contain graphic violence that was inflicted on these prisoners. 

 4 Out of 5 Stars

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Columbine by Dave Cullen

I have been wanting to read this one since Laura, from Hollywood Housewife, shared her list of best true crime novels.

It is impossible to read this book and not learn something new about the devastating Columbine tragedy. Cullen dedicated a decade of his life compiling the real facts around this case and the lives impacted by this senseless tragedy. Working from what is happening currently and flashing back to the preparations for this crime, we are able to get a clearer understanding of motive in a very eye-opening way.

Cullen also opens our eyes to the fictionalized stories that were shared by the media and the true psychological problems that these shooters had, their motives behind the shooting, and those dealing with the aftermath of these tragedies as students, teachers, parents, and community members. After you read how the media botched the reporting up on so much of this, I guarantee it will make you feel differently about what is reported in the world.

The psychological research on these two killers and how so many of these victims reclaimed their lives again makes for a truly compelling read.

Editor’s Note- This book does contain graphic violence and language. 

5 Out of 5 Stars

The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White

The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White

I have loved reading the GoodReads Choice Award nominations this year. If you haven’t taken a peek at the list, I have gathered the nominees for you!

The Perfect Son is a beautiful story of a struggling father and son relationship and the mother that holds them together. When Ella has an unexpected heart attack, the result of a heart condition, and must be hospitalized the men in the family must come together to help her and themselves. As a strained relationship between a father and son becomes further strained Felix finds himself suddenly in charge of his son who has Tourette’s and needs more assistance than most teenage boys. Forced to reconcile their differences, they find comfort in unlikely friends and in each other.

It was such an honor to chat with Barbara about her book and about parenting a child with an invisible disability.  Even if you don’t grab her book (which you should), I gained so much wisdom from asking her about the letting go process as you see your kids off to college. It’s a really good read! 

I hope you love her book as much as I did!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I am one of those people that has a hard time committing to series books. Are you that way too? When I was asked to help promote the new movie though, I thought I better get familiar with the series.

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences.

I loved this book even more than I thought I would, although I know I am a bit behind on the times embracing this one. I had been avoiding it because so many had compared it to the Hunger Games series and I doubted much could live up to that. Although there were similarities, I loved the world that Roth created, the factions that divide society and limitations they create in relationships, and the love story. I’m really happy I read this one!

Should I keep continuing through this book series? Let me know!

4 Out of 5 Stars

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams

Have you joined our book club yet? I hope you can join in on the fun this year!

This past month our book club selection was Tiny Little Thing. I was so excited to dive in since I enjoyed A Hundred Summers so much!

In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.

But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.

This was a fantastic historical fiction escape as the curtain is pulled back on a high society couple striving for power as a politician. You need not read William’s’ first books to follow along with this plot. I really appreciated the final plot twists in this one and the author ended it in a completely unexpected way. A wonderful escape with juicy secrets!

4 Out of 5 Stars

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson delivers another solid read with her latest novel, The Opposite of Everyone.  I was such a big fan of Someone Else’s Love Story that I was anxious to dive into this new one.  With this one though, I admit , it took awhile for me to connect with the characters in the beginning of this story.
I blame it a little on the set-up of her book.
Rather than alternating past and present in chapter format, Jackson weaves the two stories of past and present into one chapter smoothly without transition. At first, this can be confusing, but it is worth the confusion as she weaves her reader through plot twist after plot twist of a girl growing up in a group home due to her mother’s incarceration to her powerful role as a lawyer finding out that her mother has kept a big life-changing secret from her.Follow the story of a broken little girl who feels she made the one mistake that cost her a relationship with her mother into a grown woman seeking desperately to connect with family members she never knew, with many surprises along the way.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Once again, our book club pushes me to try another new book.  This month’s read was, Tiny Beautiful Things

I, honestly, would have never picked this book up if it had not been selected as a book club pick. Dear Sugar was an anonymous online advice column that Stray answered letters she received online under the name of Sugar. This book is a collection of some of her greatest answers to life’s questions.

The thing that made it so different is typically advice columnist do not interject their own stories and opinions into their advice, while Strayed wrote honestly about her own struggles in a way that was raw, gritty, and real. Shocking at times were her own struggles that spilled on the pages, but beauty & truth was weaved into these answers too. It would be impossible to not a get a nugget out of each answer, even if the situation didn’t relate to you. Her advice to her younger self, a letter written to graduates, and the struggles of when someone should start a family were three of the pieces that really stood out to me. Not for the faint of heart if vulgarity isn’t your thing. If you can handle it though, it’s worth the read!

I still have not picked up her book, Wildyet. What did you think of it? Please let me know if it is worth the read!

Editor’s Note: REALLY graphic and graphic descriptions of sexual abuse.

4 Out of 5 Stars

Read With Me

Read With Me This Year:

My 2016 Book Stack

March 2016 Must-Reads from MomAdvice.com

 

 

What should I be adding to my library bag?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below! Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

 

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Amy’s Notebook 03.30.16

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Risotto Lorraine via A Beautiful Mess

Source: A Beautiful Mess

 

A new spin on risotto.

25 things you should do before you turn 50 – what a great list!

Started following these accounts on IG- such eye candy!!

Spring capsule inspiration!

I need to try this on my oven- so easy!

7 mobile apps to help you become a time management guru.

14 psychological thrillers that bend your mind. YES!

A colorful guest bedroom.

How incredibly brave!

Bookstagrammers via Modern Mrs. Darcy

Source: Modern Mrs. Darcy

 

10 favorite bookstagrammers to follow.

In love with this DIY blanket ladder!

#1 tip for your new pressure cooker- I’ve been thinking about getting one of these. Bookmarking!

15-minute Mexican pizza- this looks like a great weeknight meal!

Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for a little honesty. She never gave up hope- a good message for creatives!

Justin would be proud.

Anna Quindlen’s 10 favorite classics about growing older and wiser.

3 words that can turn anxiety into success. I need to try this!

Pretend you’re being told a ghost story around a campfire with these 10 excellent horror audiobooks!

Are you a procrastinator or are your kids? Watch this TED Talk!

“When the rest of the world was building bigger and bigger, we decided to buy smaller. And that decision has freed us to do many wonderful things.” I could not have said that better!

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

 

Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata

My family has been on a sheet pan supper kick these days. It started with my Sheet Pan Ranch Chops and Veggies meal and then we evolved into a weekly double batch of Sheet Pan Lemon Paprika Chicken and Veggies that were shared over dinners with friends and warmed on busy weeknights. This week it was a Roasted Salmon & Asparagus with Pistachio Gremolata that captured our heart.

How in the world did I come up with this combo?

Well, I didn’t!

Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata

Word must have spread how nuts our family is about these meals and the publishing house for the, Sheet Pan Suppers cookbook reached out to see if they could send me  copy of the book to review. I had mentioned it had been on my radar, but my biggest struggles with cookbooks is that I don’t know how many gluten-free offerings are going to be in them and I have to stick to gluten-free meals in our house.

I was pleasantly surprised that the cookbook was well-balanced between gluten-filled offerings and gluten-free offerings. From appetizers to meats to vegetarian to brunch to dessert…this cookbook offers a little something for everyone. My biggest struggle was picking which recipe to start with. I figured the cover dish had to be a winner if it was showcased on the front of the book so we went with that.  A delicious fish dish with fresh veggies tossed with a pistachio gremolata sounded like a winner for our house.

Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata

Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata

What is a Gremolata?

This was my first gremolata and I was intrigued by the pairing of pistachios with fish. If you haven’t heard of a gremolata before, you need not worry that this is out of your level of cooking expertise. This is a simple Italian condiment that is traditionally made with herbs, garlic, and lemon zest, and sometimes an accompaniment like pine nuts (or in this case, pistachios- YUM).  You can use your food processor and pulse a few times (this is the one I have), but I prefer to avoid washing the food processor and opt for a quick hand chopper, which has been worth its weight in gold in my kitchen.

To save even more time, I purchased the pistachios already out of their shell at our supermarket. Although a bit pricier per pound, it saves a great deal of time on a busy weeknight or on a tired night with my vino in the evenings after a long day of running kids.

Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata

If you live somewhere where you have access to great fresh fish, the author utilizes Arctic Char in this recipe. In Indiana, salmon fillets are affordable and easy to come by in our frozen section of the store. Resting these on top of fresh asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and topped with lemons, this is a sheet pan guaranteed to satisfy all your taste buds. The gremolata adds the final touch on the cooked fish, adding that salty crunch that takes this from a basic meal to a restaurant-worthy one!

I really loved this cookbook and my family is already looking forward to us eating this again in our house! Thank you to the publishing house for sending us a copy of, Sheet Pan Suppers by Molly Gilbert to give a spin in our kitchen! We are big fans!

Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata

Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata

Roasted Salmon and Asparagus With Pistachio Gremolata
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
An easy sheet pan meal with salmon and veggies topped with a quick pistachio gremolata for a fancy crunch to this beautiful dish. Company-worthy and easy? Winning!
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch asparagus (roughly 1 pound total)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless fillets Arctic char, salmon or trout (5 to 6 ounces each)
  • ½ medium red onion, sliced into ¼-inch-thick half-moons
  • ½ lemon, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • ½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup roasted, salted, and shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 350 with a rack in the center position. Mist a sheet pan with cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Gently bend one asparagus spear between your fingers and snap off the bottom where it breaks easily. Line up the rest of the bunch and slice off the bottoms at the same distance from the tips. Place the trimmed asparagus on the prepared pan, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and spread the asparagus in an even layer.
  3. Place the fish fillets on top of the asparagus, evenly spaced apart, and sprinkle with an extra pinch of salt and pepper. Scatter the onion, lemon slices and cherry tomatoes around and on top of the fish.
  4. Bake until the asparagus is crisp-tender and the fish is almost opaque (20 to 30 minutes if using char, other types may vary). For my salmon, I cooked thawed fillet for just 12-15 minutes!!
  5. While the fish cooks, mix together the lemon zest, garlic, parsley and pistachios in a small bowl- this is your gremolata.
  6. Sprinkle the gremolata over the fish and asparagus before serving warm.

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though!! xo