Monthly Archives

October 2017

book review, recipe

The Rules of Magic + Tipsy Chocolate Cake

Happy Halloween, readers! Before I kick off today’s typical post, I want to share a little story. A couple of months ago, I had an epiphany – I thought of the perfect Halloween costume, and almost immediately, I set about finding all of the necessary pieces. Normally, Halloween isn’t exactly my thing, but once I realized who I had to dress up as, that all changed. This year would be different. Readers, I decided to be Julia Child and my excitement could not be contained. I was lucky enough to find the perfect top, skirt and heels secondhand (thank you, thredUP!) as well as a wonderful replica of her L’Ecole des Trois Gourmandes badge from Etsy. Armed with her cookbook and some cooking utensils, all I needed to complete the look was a curly-haired wig and an apron. Here’s what I came up with – what do you think?

Now, onto the usual post, which I’m also excited to share with you. As you may recall, I recently picked up Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic in anticipation of its prequel The Rules of Magic, which came out earlier this month – just in time for Halloween reading! For fans of Practical Magic, Hoffman’s latest novel follows the lives of the beloved aunts you well-remember, Frances and Jet, as well as their brother Vincent as they negotiate being teenagers.

Thankfully, The Rules of Magic was exactly as good as I had hoped it would be. If I’m being honest, I liked it better than Practical Magic (the book), which I read and reviewed here just a few weeks ago. I loved finding out more about Sally and Gillian’s aunts, who make a big impression even though they only appear briefly in the movie. Growing up in New York City during the sixties, the sisters wrestle with the normal struggles of being teenagers alongside the unique consequences of the Owens family curse.

Though not a traditional pageturner, Hoffman’s writing and magical storytelling made this a really quick, enjoyable read. Previously, the story of the Owens family revolved around women – often sisters, so I was surprised to learn about Vincent. I have to say I loved the addition of an Owens brother; his story was unexpectedly beautiful.

As with Sally and Gillian’s story, Franny and Jet’s includes a beloved aunt as well. In the summer of Franny’s seventeenth year, family tradition takes all three siblings to the Massachusetts home of their Aunt Isabelle, where they eat cake for breakfast and stay up as late as they like. It is also there that they learn how to unlock their powers and about their family’s past. Isabelle’s tipsy chocolate cake, which she bakes with copious amounts of rum, makes an impression as well – for the sisters continue to make it even when they move back home to New York City. (Sometimes leaving out the rum, when children are invited.)

I found a recipe from The Crumby Kitchen for a chocolate bundt cake filled with rum, both baked in and covered in a rum-soaked glaze. It looked easy enough, and most of all, it sounded delicious. To start, I sprayed my bundt pan with cooking spray and dusted it with cocoa powder.

Then, I preheated my oven to 325 degrees F and combined the dry ingredients in a bowl – sifted flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large saucepan over medium heat, I mixed the butter, buttermilk, hot chocolate, rum, cocoa powder, and cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. I stirred it together, and once the butter melted, I whisked in the brown and granulated sugars until they dissolved. I removed the pan from the heat and allowed it to cool for at least 5 minutes before transferring the mixture to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, I whisked together the eggs and vanilla. I added it to the cooled chocolate rum mixture in the larger bowl, stirring until combined. I added the dry ingredients to the large bowl of wet ingredients and stirred it until it was just combined. The batter was slightly lumpy as described. I poured it into the bundt pan.

The cake baked for about an hour. (Check after 50 minutes.) I let it cool while I started to make the glaze, for at least 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan, I dissolved brown sugar into heavy cream over medium-low heat before adding the rum. I let it come up to a simmer until the liquid reduced and the glaze thickened. The last step in the glaze was to add two tablespoons of butter, stirring until it melted.

Using a skewer, I poked a bunch of holes into the bottom and spooned the glaze over the cake. I let it sit for about 10 minutes so it would soak in, and I repeated this process twice more.

Finally, once the cake was cooled, I turned it out onto a plate. I covered the top of the bundt cake with the rest of the glaze.

Even Julia Child got in on the action – I brought it to work so the whole office could enjoy the tipsy chocolate cake for our Halloween festivities. Both the cake and the costume were a hit.

I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween!

Tipsy Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup hot chocolate
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • 1½ cups plus 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1¾ cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the Rum Glaze:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup rum
  • 2 Tablespoons butter

Directions

    To make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 15-cup bundt pan with baking spray, then dust with 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder; set aside.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine butter, buttermilk, hot chocolate, rum, cocoa powder, and spices. Heat until butter melts and all ingredients come together, then whisk in sugars, stirring until dissolved. Cool mixture for 5 minutes, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla extract, and add to cooled chocolate rum mixture, stirring until combined.
  5. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined – batter will be rather thin but slightly lumpy/bubbly.
  6. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted to the bottom comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the glaze.
  7. To make the glaze:

  8. In a small saucepan, dissolve brown sugar into cream over medium-low heat. When combined, add rum and set heat to low. Allow to simmer until liquid is reduced and thickens. Add butter and stir to melt, then remove from heat.
  9. Using a skewer, poke multiple holes across the bottom of the cake. Spoon or brush buttered rum glaze on the cake, and allow to soak 5-10 minutes, then repeat with more glaze two more times. Let cake soak & cool 20-30 minutes.
  10. When cake is cooled, turn it out onto a cake plate. Brush top and sides of cake with remaining glaze, making multiple passes over it until it’s all used up.
  11. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired before serving. Enjoy!

Adapted from: The Crumby Kitchen

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

book review, recipe

Behind Her Eyes + Spaghetti Carbonara

Every November, my Good Reads & Good Eats book club reads a spooky book. Since we meet on the first Tuesday of each month, this allows us to read it during October and our meeting usually ends up being right around Halloween. This year’s selection was Sarah Pinborough’s novel Behind Her Eyes. The thriller was released in January but it made for an excellent read this month, just creepy enough throughout with a twist at the end I didn’t see coming.

Thanks to the success of Gone Girl, the oft-called domestic thriller has become more and more popular, and generally, I try to avoid them. Gone Girl was so well-written and its twist both genuinely surprising and believable (which is harder to achieve than it may seem) that I’m usually disappointed in those that follow.

That being said, Behind Her Eyes was an intriguing read. I did get caught up in the story and it kept me wondering what exactly was going on and who to be skeptical of, but the devices it used (particularly toward the end) seemed over-the-top and unbelievable. Overall, Sarah Dickinson does a great job summing up how I feel on her blog, but beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the book and still want to.

Pinborough’s novel begins in the middle of David and Adele’s troubled marriage. After a recent move to London, David almost immediately begins an affair with Louise, who turns out to be his new receptionist. It’s not clear how Adele discovers his transgression, but she makes it a point to befriend Louise and tension begins to build. As more about Adele’s backstory is revealed, more questions arise. In the present day narrative, we’re left wondering who we can trust. I’ll stop here to avoid spoilers, but I think it achieved what it needed to for our book club in that it was mostly riveting and twisty and will certainly make for interesting discussion. I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say about it.

In an attempt to create some domestic bliss (or at least throw David off her scent), Adele continues to make impressive home-cooked meals almost every evening. On one such evening, she whips up the deceptively easy Spaghetti Carbonara and serves it with a simple arugula salad. I grabbed a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Damn Delicious, for the pasta and found one for the salad from Everyday Maven. The whole meal took about twenty minutes and only requires a minimum number of ingredients for one so impressive; it makes a perfect weeknight meal.

First, I set a large pot of water to bowl and then prepped the salad. I chopped a half cup of cherry tomatoes in half and tossed them in a large bowl with arugula and the lemon zest. I love Trader Joe’s arugula because it’s the perfect amount for a dinner salad and it’s already pre-washed. In a separate small bowl, I combined the ingredients for the dressing – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. With the salad mostly set, I turned to the pasta.

Once the water was boiling, I salted it and added the spaghetti to the pot. In a small bowl, I whisked together the eggs and Parmesan and set it aside. I added my diced pancetta (or bacon, if that’s what you’re using) to a heated skillet and allowed it to crisp up for several minutes, before adding my minced garlic.

You’re going to want to make sure your pasta is cooked and drained before you add the garlic. Here is where you need to begin working quickly. Even though this recipe is easy, the eggs leave some room for error. You don’t want them to scramble; they should become a part of the creamy sauce, indistinguishable from the pasta itself. 

To my pancetta and garlic, I added my pasta and the egg-Parmesan mixture, using a pair of tongs to toss and combine everything. I seasoned with salt and pepper, before adding a bit of pasta water, tossing and checking the consistency.

With that all set, I re-whisked my dressing, poured it on the arugula and tossed my salad. Best dishes are both served immediately.

Spaghetti Carbonara

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 slices bacon, diced [or diced pancetta, about 4 ounces]
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; reserve 1/2 cup water and drain well.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and Parmesan; set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes; reserve excess fat.
  4. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Working quickly, stir in pasta and egg mixture, and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add reserved pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.


From: Damn Delicious

Arugula Salad with Lemon Balsamic Dressing

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Ingredients

  • ½ pound arugula
  • ½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • zest of a whole medium lemon
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 to 6 turns freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large salad or mixing bowl, combine arugula, halved grape tomatoes and the zest of an entire medium lemon.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper together until well mixed.
  3. When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad, toss until well coated. Serve and Enjoy!


of interest

Guest Post: Seven Book + Drink Pairings to Cozy Up With

Happy Fall! I’m Grace from A Literary Feast, here at The Hungry Bookworm as a happy guest writer. Megan and I discovered each other’s blogs a few weeks ago and felt an instant kinship. Food in literature isn’t the most prevalent topic on the Internet, but we both love writing about it! I’m so honored that she wanted to introduce my work to you, her readers. I hope you enjoy this post with these fall-perfect book and drink recommendations.

Any time of the year is a good time for reading. There’s just something about fall, though. Cooler evenings, rainy days, falling leaves… doesn’t it make you want to curl up by the fireside with a warm drink and a cozy read? Me too. That’s why I’m giving you a list of the coziest books and drink pairings to carry you well into the winter.

1 The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

As much as I adore the Anne of Green Gables series, I prefer to read it in the spring. (Don’t ask me why – maybe it goes back to my Spring Break binge-reads. We bookworms know how to party.) As a whole, though, I think that L.M. Montgomery’s books are so perfect for cozy fireside reading. If you haven’t read beyond Anne, you have so much to look forward to! I love The Story Girl for, yes, the stories, but also for the coming-of-age and turn-of-the-season themes. I haven’t met one her books that I don’t like, so here are a few more suggestions while we’re at it: Pat of Silver Bush, Emily of New Moon, Kilmeny of the Orchard, and Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side.

It’s been a few years since I read The Story Girl, but I remember two things that influenced my drink pairing: Felicity loved to cook and there was an orchard on their property. I’m sure she would enjoy a fancy fireside drink. To pair with The Story Girl, try this Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Cider from Tastes Better From Scratch. Can you just imagine how amazing your house will smell?

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” Although I can’t give you specific details because so much water has passed under the bridge since I read this book, I consider it one of the coziest books I have ever read. Everyone I know who has read it has felt that the book’s homing instinct is spot on. Written in letter form and celebrating the love of all things literary, this book will warm your heart on a chilly fall night.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is set in England on a small island. Islands are known for their fog, and England is known for its tea. I can’t think of a better drink to pair with this book than a warm London Fog. Although the directions aren’t proprietary, I chose this London Fog recipe by Yours Truly, G because of her custom infographic drawing. Super cute!

 

3 My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier.

This is a book that I just reviewed on A Literary Feast, and it fits into this list perfectly. It’s not a thriller nor is it scary, but it is a delicious Gothic mystery that should be read by flickering light. Set primarily in an old manor in Cornwall, England, this story is narrated by 24-year-old Philip who is green, arrogant and stodgy beyond his years but also utterly confounded and besotted by the first female to reside there in decades. A female who, incidentally, may (or may not?) be the cause of his beloved guardian’s death. You’ll change your mind more than once!

The food in My Cousin Rachel is traditional Cornish fare. Apples are prevalent, and their cider is prized. Pair this charming book with a mug of perfect wassail. Here’s a Mulled Wine Wassail recipe with a light buzz from A Spicy Perspective (non-alcoholic version also available).

 

4 The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

To be honest, this is the first book that came to mind when I was thinking of “cozy books.” It’s also the first book I read by this author, although I have since devoured them all. Sugary sweet without being saccharine, Allen’s stories transport you into a world with a sprinkling of magic, where food goes beyond symbolic. Need I say more? You’ll leave this book wearing glasses a shade or two pinker in hue.

You can’t curl up by the fireside with a book called The Sugar Queen without adding some calories to your drink. With the picture of peppermints on the book cover, this book begs to be paired with a Peppermint White Hot Chocolate (this recipe from Creme de la Crumb).

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Call me names, but yes, I do insist on calling it by the original title.)

If I read Anne of Green Gables in the spring, fall is when the world of Harry Potter beckons. Fall heralds back-to-school, and what school is more exciting than Hogwarts? Harry Potter needs no introduction, but I am excited to say that this link leads to a new version of the first book. Or should I say “versions,” because there is one for each Hogwarts House, with different covers and illustrations and extra content specific to each! (I may have a problem. I already own one boxed set as well as a set on my Kindle and already have plans to buy the new fully illustrated ones. Have you seen them? Look here! They’re gorgeous.)

You must know where I’m going with this one: let’s drink some butterbeer! I’ve tried making it cold before, and it turned out to be really good! We’ll try a hot version this time. Creamy and butterscotchy – my mouth is watering already. Here’s a Hot Butterbeer recipe courtesy of Feast of Starlight.

 

6 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

A magical circus spun into existence by two dueling magicians. This book transports you into worlds of fancy among the highest stakes imaginable. You’ll have to think existentially at times, but never fear – the author weaves the plot seamlessly, and you’ll be as captivated as the members of the circus audience. If you love books that paint pictures in your mind, you will love the images that The Night Circus creates. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

What to drink with such a magical book? I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not going to do it. Whatever that crazy Unicorn Frappuccino thing was, that you can now find copycats for all over Pinterest, has to go AWAY. I get a sugar coma just looking at pictures. Such overkill. Blech. I have something else in mind. Here’s a hot drink that (hopefully) isn’t quite as sickeningly sweet, and looks like something that would be served at a fairytale night circus. I think Savor and Savvy has nailed it with this recipe for Pink Velvet Hot Chocolate.

 

7 Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley

I saved my favorite for last. If you were to ask me what my favorite Disney movie, fairytale, or Broadway show was, I will mostly likely tell you that it’s Beauty and the Beast. Belle is the perfect heroine: bookish, brainy, and adventurous. And this book by Robin McKinley is my favorite version of the story. Before I had kids and my reading time shrank down to the size of a “poor, provincial town,” I reread this book every year without fail. Until I can resume that lovely tradition, I am passing it on to you! Be my guest.

For such a special book, let’s take the time to make a special drink. Give a nod to the book’s most familiar symbol with this Spiced Rose Latte from Brit and Co. You may have to plan ahead to have these ingredients on hand, but I think that the results will be well worth it! (Invite me over, too, because I would travel far for an evening of reading Beauty by the fireplace with a Spiced Rose Latte!)

 

Hopefully this list has offered a few ideas for a blissful evening in. If you liked this post, I’d love to invite you back to my blog, A Literary Feast, for more food-and-book combinations you may enjoy! And, please add your own favorite fireside reads (or beverages) to the comments below.

 

book review, recipe

Kitchens of the Great Midwest + Peanut Butter Bars

Based on the title alone, Kitchens of the Great Midwest seemed like a book I, lover of food, resident of the Midwest, would thoroughly enjoy. The Goodreads description also seemed promising: “When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine–and a dashing sommelier–he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter–starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota…Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life–its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises.” I tracked it down, dug right in and…

If you don’t already know where I’m going with this, I’m sorry to say, I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it, or really like it all. I think it’s one thing if a story doesn’t live up to the hype – in this case, I’d heard good things and it had almost a 4.0 on Goodreads – but it’s another thing entirely if the blurb is completely mismatched with the story that’s actually told.

In the end, one of the chapters I enjoyed the most was the one featuring Pat Prager, a very Midwestern mom who enjoys cooking for a crowd and does so from the heart. I also thought this chapter provided a stark contrast between the world Eva now cooked in and the world of everyday Midwestern food. In Kitchens, Pat is locally famous for her wonderful, award-winning peanut butter bars that sounded amazing even on the page. I knew I had to make them too.

Though they were very central to the story, no recipe was included, so I found a 5-ingredient recipe from Chef Savvy that was no fuss and no bake – perfect for the warm weather we’re somehow still having in October. True to Pat’s tendencies, I also made them for a crowd; I brought them to work for a coworkers birthday. (And, yes, they were a hit!)

I started by melting the 2 sticks of butter the recipe requires in a large bowl.

While that melted in the microwave, I got some aggression out by crumbling up 2 cups worth of graham crackers (this was about 12 crackers, or half a box). You can do this however you prefer – a food processor will provide the most consistently-sized and likely finest chunks – but I opted to toss them in a plastic Ziploc bag and crush them with my hands. (You could also use a rolling pin.) My chunks weren’t consistent, but I liked the way it added texture to the finished product.

To the same bowl where I’d melted the butter, I added the crushed graham crackers, a cup of peanut butter and 1½ cups of powdered sugar.

I combined them all well with a large spatula and spread the mixture into my prepared 9×13 pin. Then, in a smaller bowl, I added the other half cup of peanut butter and 1½ cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. These too went in the microwave to melt.

Once the chocolate was melted and combined with the peanut butter, I poured that mixture over the peanut butter mixture already spread in the pan. I smoothed it with a spatula and set it in the fridge to set.

After a few hours, I took the peanut butter bars out of the fridge to taste-test before bringing them to work the next day. (You can’t bring a birthday dessert to work without first knowing that it’s worth bringing.) This was a bit hard to slice right out of the fridge – you’ll want to use a sharp knife, and make sure you have a good grip on the pan.

As I said before, these were an absolute hit at work, and luckily they were easy enough that I could bring them again! Keep this recipe in your back pocket – it’s great for family get-togethers, potlucks or book clubs.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup), melted
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups graham crackers, crushed
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Add butter, powdered sugar, 1 cup of peanut butter and crushed graham crackers in a large bowl. Mix to combine and layer into the prepared pan.
  3. Put the ½ cup of peanut butter and chocolate chips into a small bowl. Microwave in 15 second intervals until fully melted, stirring to combine as you go.
  4. Pour the chocolate peanut butter mixture on top of the layer in the pan and smooth with a rubber spatula.
  5. Place in the refrigerator to firm up for an hour.
  6. When ready to serve, cut into squares and enjoy!


of interest

Top Ten Tuesday – Yummy Food Mentioned in Books

Hi everyone! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time again for my monthly Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme that was created at The Broke and the Bookish. I participate about once a month, but each week there is a new, fun bookish topic for bloggers to create literary lists about. If you’d like to know more about it, check it out here.

Usually the topics each week are very book-focused, but today’s is right up my alley! Combining food and books, we have Top Ten Yummy Foods Mentioned in Books – yay! It actually took me a little while to compose the list because I wanted to try to pick foods that are more integral to the story or iconic because of their inclusion within the book, rather than just something mentioned in passing (as is often the case with my typical posts). I think I did a pretty good job coming up with this list, but what do you think? Anything you would’ve added?

1. Raspberry Cordial from Anne of Green Gables: This is my second Top Ten Tuesday mention of Anne in a row (I told you she made an impression), but I think it’s apt. The scene in the book where Anne mistakenly gets her BFF Diana drunk off not-raspberry-cordial is one of the more memorable in the book, and I remember the scene very vividly from watching the mini-series when I was a kid too. Though the actual drink never gets drunk within the story, Marilla’s raspberry cordial is famous in Avonlea and apparently quite delicious. I’ve always wanted to try it.

2. Fizzy Lifting Drinks from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: This is the only food (or drink) I’m including where I can’t remember if I’ve actually read the book rather than seen the movie, but either way this scene is so iconic. As a kid, thinking that there might be a drink out there that lets you fly was the most amazing thing I could think of. It’s such a fun concept, definitely the most imaginative food on the list.

3. Pumpkin Pasties from the Harry Potter series: You show me something made with pumpkin, and I can guarantee it’ll be gone before you know it. Ever since I started reading this series (which somehow makes it onto almost all of my lists…), I have been itching to try a pumpkin pasty. If I could only take a ride on the Hogwarts Express, my dreams could come true. Writing this little blurb prompted me to see how doable it was to make them myself, so I found this wonderful post with recipes for them (two ways!) – excuse me, while I run to the kitchen.

4. Cinnamon Bread from Once Upon a River: This recipe for cinnamon bread was one of the first ones I made for the blog, after reading Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Michigan-based story for one of my book clubs. I remember the description of this bread being so vivid it made me hungry. It was a much-loved recipe, perfect for this time of year, so I should probably revisit it.

5. Boeuf Bourguignon from My Life in France: Picking just one food from Julia Child’s memoir wasn’t exactly easy, but this dish is so indicative of French cooking and whenever I hear or read about it, I instantly think of Julia. I knew it had to be the one. It’s also a dish I have yet to tackle, though every winter I think to myself I should give it a try. It’s not hard, just time-consuming. Maybe this will be the year that I break out my Mastering the Art of French Cooking and finally make it… maybe.

6. The Fat Burger from 11/22/63: This historical fiction/time travel story is one of my favorites, and it all starts with a questionably cheap burger in a diner. The secret to it’s price lies in a closet that leads back in time – to September 9, 1958, to be exact. It’s there that Jake starts his journey to rescue JFK from his impending November assassination. Though this book is really long, I was riveted when I read it forever ago and it went by much more quickly than I expected. The burgers sound really delicious, and wasn’t food better in the good ol’ days anyway?

7. Dumplings from The Joy Luck Club: When I got the opportunity to make dumplings because of this novel early on in my blogging career, I was super excited. They may not have turned out as well as I hoped, but that doesn’t mean the ones Amy Tan is referring to in The Joy Luck Club aren’t absolutely delicious. After all, they’re made by experts for their weekly Mahjong game.

8. Minny’s Fried Chicken from The Help: While Minny’s “special” chocolate cake is probably more entertaining and memorable, I opted for an actually edible option instead – the scene where Minny teaches Miss Celia to make fried chicken for her husband is touching and makes me hungry every time.

9. Potatoes from The Martian: Truly, the potatoes in The Martian are a matter of life-or-death, and while they may not be served in the most appetizing manner, due to the culinary limitations on Mars, they are so clearly an important part of this novel. Cook yourself some yummier potatoes – mashed with butter, baked with all the fixings, or cut into delightfully crisp and salty french fries – and thank your lucky stars you’re here on Earth instead.

10. Swedish Dream Cookies from My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry: These cookies are mentioned often in this wonderful Fredrik Backman novel, usually referred to as just “dreams.” Until I did the research, I wasn’t sure they were an actual thing, but it turns out they’re quite common in Sweden. I made them for a blog last year, and as it turns out, they’re as easy to make as they are delicious!

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.