book review, recipe

How to Walk Away + S’mores Brownies

Sometimes I hear so many good things about a book that I request it from the library without even really seeing what it’s about, and that’s exactly what happened in the case of Katherine Center’s How to Walk Away. I’m glad I took the leap of faith because it turned out to be absolutely wonderful.

This novel is about a young woman who’s at the top of her game – Margaret has just finished her MBA, she has a lucrative and exciting job lined up, and she thinks her long-time boyfriend Chip is going to propose. However, on what is supposed to be a happy, celebratory day in her life, everything comes crashing down.

Margaret wakes up in the hospital and realizes that her life may never be the same again. Katherine’s writing was so real here: I thought she really shined at painting the picture from Margaret’s perspective, so we too are left a little bit in the dark while she figures it out. The story is multi-layered, with real, flawed characters. I’m glad it wasn’t as predictable as I expected (based on assumptions about the genre). In the end, I found it motivating and inspiring.

I surprised at how riveted I was. I literally couldn’t put it down — I started reading it on a Thursday night and only stopped when I fell asleep. I woke up early to read some more and then sat in my car in the parking lot at work for reading until I was about to be late. And then, when I was finally released from the office, I raced home, opened it and didn’t do anything until it was over. If you liked Me Before You, you should read this one because it’s definitely in the same vein. But, if you didn’t — and I know there are some people who aren’t fans of that novel, you should read this anyway, because it’s better. I promise.

During Margaret’s recovery, a lot of things go right and a lot of things go wrong, but all of it’s progress. For her birthday, she’s allowed to take bit of a break and just “be.” This trip is a little bit of things going right and wrong, but it marks a pretty big turning point for her. As part of the celebration, some s’mores brownies (over a campfire) make an appearance, filling in for birthday cake. I loved that idea, and I knew that’s what I wanted to make.

I found a recipe from My Baking Addiction, procured a kitchen torch since my broiler is broken, and set to work. This recipe took no prep time at all because it calls for boxed brownie mix, but absolutely feel free to use your own from-scratch recipe, if desired.

I started by making the graham cracker crust. I used a whole sleeve of graham crackers, which ended up being a little more than a cup. (I used the extra as a topping later to sprinkle on the finished dessert.)

Graham Cracker Crust

I baked the crust for about 8 minutes, as directed, while I mixed together the brownies. Once the crust was done, I poured the brownie batter over it and smoothed it into the corners, before popping the pan back in the oven to bake.

When the brownies were finished, it was time to top them with the marshmallows. I cut them in half, lengthwise, and layered them over the top of the brownies, doing my best to completely cover the surface.

Marshmallow-Covered Brownies

 

Then, I set to work with my kitchen torch. Take care not to hover too long in any one spot of the marshmallows may catch on fire (like they do in a real campfire). If they do, just blow the flame out and keep going. The char marks will add some character to the overall dessert I think.

S'mores Brownies

I really loved this dessert. I made it just after we got home from our 4th of July at our extended family’s cabin by the lake, and it brought me right back there. It was easy — and best of all doesn’t require you to build an actual fire, so you can have it anytime of year!

S'mores Brownie

S'mores Skillet Brownies

Course Dessert
Keyword brownies
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 18- ounce brownie mix plus ingredients listed on box
  • 20-30 regular marshmallows cut in half lengthwise
  • chocolate sauce optional
  • caramel sauce optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 6 3.5-inch mini cast iron skillets with nonstick cooking spray, or line an 8×8-inch baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until combined.
  3. Evenly divide the crumbs between the mini cast iron skillets, or spoon all the crumbs into the prepared 8×8-inch pan. Evenly press the crumbs into the bottom on the skillets or pan to create a crust layer
  4. Bake crust(s) in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove skillets or pan from oven and allow them to cool while you make the brownie batter.
  5. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.
  6. Evenly divide the brownie batter between the skillets, or spoon it into the 8×8-inch pan.
  7. Bake mini skillets for 25 minutes, or the 8×8-inch pan for 40 minutes.
  8. Remove brownies from oven and top with marshmallow halves, cut side down.
  9. Toast marshmallows using your broiler, or use a kitchen torch. Be sure to keep your eyes on the marshmallows because they can go from perfectly toasted to burnt within seconds.
  10. Serve warm. If desired, top with chocolate or caramel sauces.

Recipe Notes

From: My Baking Addiction

If serving leftovers, you can reheat each brownie slice in the microwave for 15-30 seconds, or until marshmallows become melty.

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of interest

Show Us Your Books – July 2018

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, and you know what that means; it’s time for another edition of Show Us Your Books! Before I get into the list, I’m going to warn you it’s a long one! I went on a reading binge of sorts and have basically read a book every day over the last 12 days. I never thought I’d say this but I need a little break… there is such a thing as reading overload. My mind has been to SO many places and back. And, I think, it’s the perfect time to catch up on the last couple of episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale in time for the finale.  

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book review, recipe

Artful Eating + Sauteed Scallops with Peas

For anyone who knows about my recent journey to transform my eating and lifestyle to one that’s healthier yet still fulfilling from a food perspective (which I chronicled briefly here), you’ll understand why I was excited to get my hands on this next book: Karina Melvin’s Artful Eating.

In it, she talks about why “lasting weight loss is not about what you eat; it’s about how and why you eat.”

Artful Eating by Karina Melvin

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or trying to be overall healthier – like myself – it’s important to focus on making a more permanent lifestyle change rather than seeking a “quick fix.” Karina’s book is full of resources to help you do just that. Each of the twelve chapters is part of a bigger picture to help you accomplish a new mindset to accomplish your goals. They also includes recipes that are smart and sensible but also satisfying.

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book review, recipe

The Oracle Year + Stir-Fried Lotus Root

In Charles Soule’s first novel The Oracle Year, the comic book writer explores a clever concept about the power of prediction. The main character, Will Dando, is a twenty-something musician who wakes up one morning with 108 predictions about the future. The predictions range from seemingly innocuous to world-changing and extremely specific to frustratingly vague.

The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

While man behind The Oracle is a mystery, his predictions are practically front page news around the globe. As more and more of them come true, he is forced to go to great lengths to remain anonymous for his own safety. It’s a delicate balance between sitting on what he knows and sharing it with the world as he learns whether he has control over their source, or it has control over him.

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of interest

Summer Reading Challenges: Book Challenge by Erin 9.0 + Comment Challenge

New Reading Challenge

As you may recall, I kicked off the year by participating in the Book Challenge by Erin, version 8.0, which lasted from January 1 until April 30. And now, I’m excited to be participating in version 9.0 of the same challenge because I really love reading challenges. Here are the details:

Duration: July through October 2018

Challenge: Choose 10 books across specific categories and read as many of them as you can over the four month challenge period

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

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book review, recipe

The Keeper of Lost Things + Iced Buns

Many have commented on the beauty of this book cover. Indeed, Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Things does feature some gorgeous floral artwork on the cover, and actually that’s part of what brought me to it in the first place. The title, too, is intriguing. What exactly is a keeper of lost things? What sort of lost things are being kept?

The Keeper of Lost Things Book Cover

In the novel, Anthony is an elderly man who has become a self-appointed keeper of lost things. Since losing something very important decades earlier, he has made it his mission in life to rescue discarded, dropped or forgotten things. He brings them home, where they live safely and quietly in his study, until they can be reunited with their owners someday, somehow.

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book review, recipe

Delancey + Salted Caramel Ice Cream

I read Molly Wizenberg’s first memoir, A Homemade Life, during my Thanksgiving readathon last year and fell in love with it. Her storytelling was warm and relatable, and her recipes sounded (and were, when I tried a couple of them) delicious. So, I was excited when I stumbled upon her next memoir, Delancey, one day while browsing near the cookbooks in the library.

Delancey Book Cover

While A Homemade Life was more a jumble of life stories (sometimes connected, sometimes not) and charming nonetheless, Delancey tells a linear story of her experiences while opening a restaurant with her husband Brandon. While it was more his dream than hers – like me, Molly detested working in restaurants and preferred the comforts of home cooking – she supported him as he pursued it.

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of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Books to Read by the Beach

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday, a literary list with a new bookish topic every week. This week’s topic is of the summery variety, which is lovely since summer is (officially) just around the corner. Here in Michigan it’s been hot and humid here for a little while now, especially over the past weekend, so I am more than ready to hit the beach! If you’re planning your summer vacation, you might want to consider bringing some of these books with you: Top Ten Books to Read by the Beach

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book review, recipe

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane + Scallion Pancakes

Lisa See’s historical fiction novel The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is a family saga that begins in a remote mountain village in China in the late 1980s. Life there revolves around tradition and tea farming, until a stranger arrives, bringing a glimpse into the modern world — and a proposal that will transform all of their lives.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane Book Cover

Interspersed with Li-Yan’s story, as she struggles against the traditions of her village and family but fully embraces the rituals and importance of tea in their culture, is the story of a young girl growing up in Los Angeles, searching for a key to her past. The story is full of heart, and the plot full of coincidence. Some of the village’s traditions were a bit hard to stomach, but I think Li-Yan’s personal rebellion against them made her more relatable, at least to me.

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book review, recipe

The Hating Game + Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

I went into Sally Thorne’s novel The Hating Game without much research. I’d seen some chatter about it in my online book club – most people loved it. If anything, it seemed like a fun, quick read, and summer is always the perfect time for something on the lighter side. It’s the story of two executive assistants at a publishing company who loathe each other (hence the title), but then, in true romantic comedy fashion, feelings begin to change and they find themselves in an entirely different kind of relationship.

The Hating Game Book Cover

As with our characters, Lucy and Josh, it wasn’t love at first sight for me. Somewhere along the line though, my feelings changed. I began to find their interactions endearing, the other characters got a little more detailed and things fell into place. Yes, the plot was a bit predictable, but that shouldn’t be unexpected for this type of book.

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