Dark Chocolate Bark

Tags

, , , ,

Happy Friday everyone!

Today I thought I’d satisfy my chocolate craving with a super easy dark chocolate bark recipe.

As with most recipes, I encourage you to play with it and make it your own. Add dried fruit, peppermint candy pieces, sprinkle with cinnamon – whatever!

I prefer the basic bark with nuts. In this batch I used almonds, but I’ve also made it with pecans.

Recipe and pic follow.

Enjoy! Until next time . . . just love, Collette

img_3446

Recipe:

  • 1 pound dark chocolate (60-70% cacao)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups roasted whole almonds
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a knife, finely chop the chocolate. In a bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water, heat the chopped chocolate, stirring occasionally, until it is almost melted. Do not let the bowl touch the water. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and stir the chocolate until it is completely melted and the temperature registers 90 degrees on a candy thermometer. If the chocolate has not melted completely and is still too cool, set it over the saucepan for 1-2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Do not overheat.
  2. Stir the almonds into the chocolate and spread onto the prepared baking sheet in a 1/2 inch thick layer, making sure the nuts are completely covered in chocolate. Refrigerate the bark for about 10 minutes, until hardened. It can refrigerate longer if necessary. Invert the bark onto a work surface. Remove the parchment paper, break into pieces and store or serve. *The broken bark can be stored in an airtight bag or container at cool room temperature for up to 10 days.*

 

Advertisements

Write Like You Mean It

Tags

, , ,

Hi guys and Happy Friday! Today I thought I’d share some helpful articles for wherever you may be along your writing journey. They offer advice, encouragement and tips on how to better yourself as a writer.

Writing is a personal endeavor, but it’s almost meant to be shared. You have a story to tell so take the time and energy to make it your best. After all, when you pick up a book to read you’re not looking for some ho-hum story to put you to sleep. You’re searching for that world where you can get lost, forget what’s going on around you and feel like the characters you meet are your new best friends.

One of the most important things writers do is read. Read books in the genre you’re writing, read outside your normal choices, read things that will surprise you, scare you, comfort you, teach you, just read. Last year one of my favorite books I read was Stephen King’s On Writing. I know I’m a little late on checking this one out, but better late than never, right? It’s part memoir, part lessons on craft and full of excellent advice and stories. If you haven’t read it yet, be sure you do.

I also attended an online writing webinar recently that was about getting your novel idea onto paper and working through that long middle. A big chunk was about outlining and various structures for that. Of course, outlining isn’t for everyone. You’ve heard the debate – plotter vs. pantser. There are writers who can go on for hours arguing the virtues of each. Honestly, I think most of us fall somewhere in the middle. I myself lean more toward being a pantser, which is why I took this class. Outlining can be helpful and it’s something that can give you a clearer vision of where your story is going. A structure, a guideline, the skeleton of your book, if you will. It can help when you get lost in that huge middle section of your story and feel like you’re drowning in a sea of words that don’t mean anything.

The first article below is about carving out time for your writing. We are all juggling different things and multi-tasking has become a way of life, but committing to taking time out of every day to write is important. And writing doesn’t always mean drafting. This is a thought process I’m trying to get rid of. I’ve always believed my writing time = drafting in my WIP. Not true! Any writing is good and a part of the creative process – outline, make notes, do character summaries, write a blog, take a walk and daydream, etc. All of these things help stimulate your mind and your writing. If you’re at a part in your novel where you’re just not sure how you want the next chapter to unfold, step away. Let it rest. Work on something else. I promise when you come back to it you’ll have a fresh pair of eyes and things will start rolling again. Trust me, give it a try!

Now for those articles:

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/make-more-time-for-your-writing

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/7-steps-to-creating-a-flexible-outline-for-any-story

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-5-essential-story-ingredients

Please let me know below how you liked these. Until next time . . . just love, Collette

 

Foodie Friday

TGIF – am I right?

For my first Foodie Friday installment I thought I’d make one of my favorite pizza dishes, which is my homemade version of the pear & gorgonzola pizza served at California Pizza Kitchen. It’s easy and delicious!

For this pie I used a Bartlett pear to give it an extra sweetness, but Bosc pears are usually best for baking due to their firmness. Feel free to experiment with it. Add and subtract things as you like to make it your own.

I also used a sweet Vidalia onion and my favorite part – spring mix with Ranch dressing and crumbled gorgonzola. Yum! This topping is the best part, in my opinion.

Recipe and pic below. Until next time . . . just love, Collette.

img_3439

Recipe:

  • Frozen pizza dough (or if you’re feeling more adventurous, make your own)
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion sliced
  • 1 Bartlett pear sliced thin
  • Spring mix lettuce
  • Ranch dressing (enough to toss with greens)
  • Crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (approximately 6 ounces)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dried oregano

Lightly brush oil across dough and sprinkle oregano around the edges. Top with pear and onion slices and sprinkle with Gorgonzola. Bake according to package instructions.

Toss Spring mix in a bowl with Ranch dressing and remaining cheese. Place the Spring mix on top of the cooked pizza and enjoy!

 

Writing Wednesday

Hi guys! Welcome to the first installment of Writing Wednesday. Hope everyone is enjoying their week.

I’d like to use this space to share thoughts, experiences, notes, etc. of my writing journey.  Reading about other people’s journeys and how they got from Point A to Point B, with all the cool little places in between, is interesting to me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some helpful tidbits along the way and we can all move a little farther down the road to publication.

As with most writers I started writing quite some time ago, here and there, as time and creativity permitted. I’ve dabbled in screenwriting, novel writing and picture book writing (sans the illustrations), but novel writing is where my heart lies. After completing four books – all rough drafts – I circled back to my first and polished it. Then I polished it some more. Once I hit that moment of “I’m done!” I enrolled in a couple of workshops and made more revisions until I felt I’d fleshed out the story and made it the best it could be. Whew! Cue the applause ha ha! Truth is, there was still more work to be done – research. After all the next step was to start querying agents, but preparation is needed for such an endeavor and I was ready to dig in.

Step One: I had to compile a list of agents who represent what I’d written. Writers Market is an excellent resource for such a task. I recommend it to every writer whether you’re actively seeking publication, writing resources or a community in which to connect, this is a great place to begin. Once I made my wish list, I narrowed it down to newer agents actively taking on new clients. This is a great place to start since these agents are looking to build their lists. Another recommendation is to send out 5-10 queries and see how the response goes before sending any more. This way you can determine how well your query is working. Are you getting any requests for partials or full manuscripts or are you getting rejection after rejection or worse, crickets. I understand agents are very busy and receive hundreds of queries every week, but no response is the hardest one to take. At least for me.

Step Two: I wrote my query and rewrote it, revised it, trashed it, started over, took a breath, read articles on successful queries and finally, finished it. But wait, there’s more . . . a SYNOPSIS! OMG how could I forget this fun little writing exercise? How writing an ENTIRE NOVEL seems less daunting than a 1-2 page synopsis is beyond me, but it’s so true. Compressing a whole book into 2 pages, double-spaced, is like squeezing a size 10 foot into a size 5 shoe – painful! However, many agents ask for this little gem so it’s best to have it at the ready when you begin sending out queries. And by all means, hit the high points, share the beginning, middle AND ending, don’t go overboard with detail but let your writing style shine through and as with everything else when writing, hook them with the opening. Easy, right?

Today I thought I’d share a snippet of the opening chapter of my current MG novel that’s making the querying rounds with agents. I’ve submitted to only a few to gauge how my query is working and whether I need to tweak it. Out of five agents queried, I’ve had one request for the first three chapters.

Stay tuned for postings on how it goes. Good luck to everyone wherever you are in your writing journey. Until next time . . . just love, Collette

The water rippled and shivered as the hole expanded. Tiny waves churned and spread across the surface in perfect form. The air stilled, heavy with determination and promise.

The scent of wilderberries filtered through the air. A deep, spicy aroma with a hint of flowers snaking through it. It was both warm and invigorating. And dangerous. One taste could render a person motionless.

The red-haired beauty smiled as she waved her hand over the growing puddle of water, “Drag and pull. Will her near. The one you seek is already here.”

The water tossed and turned like a mad sea, its fury growing with each passing minute. Soon she would arrive. The Eye and all.

***

 Maggie leaned on the glass window pane and watched the last droplets of water roll away and drip to the ground below. She hated the sun for showing its superiority and chasing the rain away. The storm mimicked her mood and it gave her comfort knowing something else felt as angry as she did, even if it didn’t last. She took a deep breath and released letting the fire inside her escape. None of this was Gram’s fault and she wouldn’t hold it against her.

She stared at the large expanse of land sprawled out in front of her grandmother’s house. Tiny rooftops of farmhouses reared their heads in the distance. The outlines of weather vanes stretched above them and waved at Maggie as she tapped her head against the glass. Bored.

She held up her phone and stared at its darkness. It, too, was as empty as her. Summoning the tiniest bit of hope she tapped the surface, scrolled to her messages and watched for any sign of a signal. Even one bar might work. Her eyes bore into the phone as if they could will life into it. Nothing. Heat filled her fingertips curling them under into a small fist. She banged the lifeless rectangle she clinched in her hand and walked away from the window and the empty countryside that mocked her.

Maggie had a cell phone habit that would rival anyone’s. If she wasn’t texting, she wasn’t breathing. Simple as that. Her phone was her lifeline. The tiny metal instrument wrapped in a black case with a purple star splayed across the back was her whole world and she had been cut off. Stranded out here in Nowhereville, as she liked to call it. A tiny speck of a town officially named Stillwater. Appropriate enough considering the air was thick and heavy and nothing ever seemed to move. The heat was brutal. The humidity, suffocating. It was like wading through a warm jar of Vaseline – sticky and thick and not at all pleasant.

Exasperated, she plopped on the bed and slammed the phone down beside her. She was hundreds of miles from home, cut off from her friends and any semblance of a life. Two weeks stretched in front of her with absolutely nothing to do. By the time she returned it would take forever for her to catch up on all she missed.

Her heart ached and a flicker of a fire burned inside her. The unfairness of it all weighed down on her crushing her chest into the mattress beneath her. She could disappear and no one would notice.

Feel free to share comments or questions below.