Banana Nut Butter Smoothie & You Are Not Alone

Partnerships, Reviews and Recipes

I am so excited to be celebrating the paperback release of You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen with a blog party hosted by The Book Club Cookbook! A copy of this book was gifted to me in order to create an inspired dish or drink.

You Are Not Alone is a psychological thriller by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, following the lives of Shay Miller and the Moore sisters as they’re brought together by the violent death of Amanda. Amanda was merely a stranger to Shay, who served as a witness to her suicide and becomes fixated on the young woman; but to Cassandra Moore and Jane Moore, Amanda was an integral part of a shady scheme…one Shay is about to become a part of, whether she knows it or not.

This page-turner is a twisty tale of mind games, cat and mouse, and manipulation. Not only is the plot head spinning, but I found myself with whiplash as I faltered between emotions like pity and outrage. You Are Not Alone masters the art of dramatic irony, allowing the reader in on (most of) the secrets. Watching events unfold left me with an unsettling feeling of helplessness. I knew what was going to happen, and yet I couldn’t reach through the pages to tell anyone. But there was nothing I could do except keep reading.

Throughout the book, Shay makes her famous banana nut butter smoothie (which later becomes a key plot point, no spoilers!). The ingredients are simple, and the special touch, Shay reveals, is cinnamon. 

To make this delicious smoothie, simply throw into a blender two bananas, three helping spoonfuls of nut butter (I chose peanut butter, though Shay’s nut butter of choice is almond), about ½ cup to 1 cup of milk (this could be dairy, almond, oat, etc. and the amount varies based on how thick/thin you like your smoothies), and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Blend until smooth and enjoy! 

Be sure to check out what other dishes and drinks this book inspired fellow bloggers to create by going to the You Are Not Alone Blog Party homepage.

January 2021 Recap

Blog

Hi there! I thought it might be fun to incorporate more personal content on the blog in 2021, so here’s the first inaugural post!

At the end of every month, I’m going to be sharing a monthly recap about the books I’ve read, the food I’ve eaten, the products I’ve obsessed over, and more. Whether you’re here to get to know me better or discover a new kitchen tool, welcome to my first ever monthly recap!

Highlights

The highlight of this month was definitely having the chance to spend some time safely in Connecticut with my friends. The four of us all tested (negative) for COVID, rented an Airbnb in Preston, and spent a weekend just enjoying each other’s company. We cooked together, binge watched “America’s Next Top Model”, and even went on a hike. It was so wonderful to be close to one another again and together in person after a year apart.

What I Read

I had an abysmal reading month. I only read one book and I honestly hated it. For all my feelings on The Rules Do Not Apply, you can see my review here.

I just felt like I was in a reading slump this month, I started several books but wasn’t able to get past page 40 of most of them. Luckily, I’m almost done reading book #2 of the year, You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen. It sucked me right in and has pulled me out of my reading slump! Look out for my blog post about the book with a special drink inspired by it coming soon as a part of The Book Club Cookbook’s blog party!

What I Listened To

The band Lawrence recently popped up on my Instagram discovery page, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to their song “Freckles” since! It’s the perfect early morning song to help you feel good, even though you still have sleep in your eye and bed head amuck. 

Another favorite feel-good song I’ve had on repeat recently is “Jackie Onassis” by Sammy Rae, recommended to me by my friend. This song is ideal for solo dance parties while cooking dinner.

What I Watched

I really wish I could say I watched something cool, like finally catching “Bridgerton,” “Queen’s Gambit,” or even “Schitt’s Creek.” Alas, I cannot say that. This month I have watched an obscene amount of “Glee.” No comment.

Favorite Thing I Ate (Purchased)

I came back to NYC this month and visited my office for the first time since March 2020. While it was super eerie being in the empty office, I was beyond excited to order from my favorite Thai food restaurant ever: Chai Thai Kitchen! Of course, I ordered my favorite dish: pad see ew.

I also have to mention my favorite Queens pizza spot that I ordered from the first week back: Milkflower. I ordered the Willy Mo, a delicious pie with meatballs, tomato, garlic confit, mozzarella, basil, and grana padano. I ate it in one sitting.

Go To Meal of the Month

I have recently discovered the wonders of hummus toast! I’m obsessed with popping a piece of sourdough bread in the toaster and smearing red pepper or garlic hummus all over it. I always tell myself I’m only going to eat one, but I’d be lying if I told you there wasn’t a two piece minimum. This has been my go-to when I need a quick lunch between Zoom meetings, or a special snack before bed. 

Pantry Staple of the Month

Pesto! It’s winter, which means I don’t have any basil growing and can’t make my own fresh pesto. Instead, I’ve turned to jarred pesto and have been enjoying its versatility. From pasta, chicken, sandwiches, and even eggs, that little green jar can upscale any meal with its nutty, herbaceous flavor.

Products I’m Obsessed With Right Now

  • Bath & Bodyworks hand cream: It might seem silly but I’m in love with these hand creams from Bath & Bodyworks that are literally the perfect size for stashing around the house or on the go, and truly work miracles on my winter chapped hands.
  • Scrub Daddy Smiling Scrubber: LITERALLY WHY ARE YOU WASHING YOUR DISHES WITH ANY OTHER SPONGE?!

What Swap I Made This Month

Once a month, I’m investing in my home/life by replacing one item that needs an upgrade. This month, I invested in my bathroom. My old plastic shower curtain had a rip in it. Not to the point where it was unusable, but why have a ripped shower at all? It was an easy replacement that made the bathroom just a bit nicer. I didn’t stop there–since the shower curtain replacement was cheap, I splurged on a mini plant, candle, and new hand soap (I hated the smell of the old one) for my bathroom sink as well! I decluttered the junk that used to sit on the counter top (including an old air freshener that hadn’t been used in a year and my toothbrush that is now stored in the medicine cabinet) and those three simple additions turned our drab bathroom into a spa! I’ve already been loving lighting the candle every morning before my shower.

New Discovery of the Month

I recently bit the bullet on two monthly subscriptions: Molly Baz’s Recipe Club (I was enticed by meatloaf sando) and Study Hall (an incredible resource for freelance writers). Both are worthy investments!

Something to Celebrate…

May be an image of one or more people and dog

This month, we celebrated our puppy Oscar’s 6 month birthday! I made homemade sweet potato treats for Oscar & Boo, and we reminisced on how fast 6 months go by!

Another thing worth celebrating this month…I’m officially a published children’s book author! I wrote a Sesame Street book titled Washy Wash! And Other Healthy Habits, published by Random House Children’s Books, which was published earlier this month. It’s only 12 pages, but still feels pretty exciting to see my name on a board book!

February Goals

I want to keep my February goals simple:

  • Get back into a regular workout/movement routine
  • Make up for lost reading time
  • Cook new dishes inspired by ingredients I already have
  • Wake up earlier–7am at least
  • Journal semi-consistently 

Written down it may seem like a lot, but I’m hoping to interweave these goals into my daily life so they become unconscious practices. Let’s see how these look at the end of February…

Cherry Pie & American Royals

Reviews

According to family lore, my great, great, etc. grandfather was William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. “If America was a monarchy,” I often tease, “I’d be a princess.” 

Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t be a princess…but a duchess at least? Some sort of countess? Maybe a baroness, like in Sound of Music? At the very least, I hope I’d have a noble role in the world of American Royals.

Written by Katharine McGee, American Royals and its sequel Majesty imagine what the modern world would look like if George Washington had been America’s first king instead of president. Over two hundred years later, Princess Beatrice prepares to be America’s first queen regent (a queen who rules by her own right, instead of through marriage to a king known as a queen consort). Her duty looms on the horizon, and she’s not sure she’s ready for it. Love begins to complicate matters, as it always does.

Meanwhile, her younger twin siblings must manage their own lives as second and third in line to the throne. While Princess Samantha grapples with life as the “spare” and Prince Jefferson has two girls vying for his attention, rumors, betrayal, and rebellion fly. 

American Royals is a smart, drama-filled, binge-worthy series. The rotating perspective of the dynamic cast of girl characters throughout the books means things never go stale. Getting the entire picture from conflicting viewpoints as a reader creates a compelling reading experience, making one question, “What would I do? Who should I be rooting for?” While the book is paced fast, not much happens by way of plot, which was perfectly fine with me. McGee’s writing style and characters are captivating enough on their own.

Although, I will say that American Royals lands on such a fabulous cliffhanger (I’m talking CHILLS!), that you’ll want to have Majesty close by to leap into book two. Majesty wraps up a bit nicer than the first book, but I’m still holding out hope for a book three…I just can’t get enough.

This isn’t a deep, philosophical read. There are no deep dives into politics, the consequences of colonialism, or the tenets of a monarchy versus democracy. There are a few cheeky asides about the shortcomings of our current government structure, but the book fails to explore any meaningful criticism in depth, or acknowledge the pitfalls of monarchy or imperialism as well. 

Still, if you’re looking for something fun, frothy, and full of high school drama at high stakes, this is the series for you. Don’t come to this book looking to explore a true alternate reality, thorough world-building, and political commentary. American Royals is essentially if The Princess Diaries and Gossip Girl got together and had a melodramatic, teenage soap opera baby. And I loved it.

Because the royals are descended from George Washington, cherries are a noble symbol of the House of Washington royal family throughout the series. I attempted to combine the fictional royal symbol of cherries with the real world patriotic love of pie in this simple cherry pie.

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Lasagna Soup and They Have Jesus, We Have Lasagna

Reviews and Recipes

Thank you to Match Point Publishing for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of They Have Jesus, We Have Lasagna in exchange for an honest review.

As the title of Patrick Resetar’s memoir They Have Jesus, We Have Lasagna suggests, we all have a devotion to something, be it a deity or noodles. In his debut memoir, Resetar explores his family’s connections to religion as non-practicing Catholics, and their religious connections to traditions such as horse-racing, football, and family meals.

Taking place in a small town in the coal country of Pennsylvania, Resetar’s memoir deals with vices, poverty, and family trauma. While each essay is deeply personal and visceral in its depiction of abuse and addiction, the essays themselves become redundant. Many of these essays could hold their own in a literary magazine, offering insightful commentary on the modern working class family, though they fail to work together and build upon one another as a memoir.

What carries this memoir through is its dynamic scenes, vibrant characters, and the dry humour sprinkled throughout. While Resetar lacks some refinement and maturity as a longform writer, his natural talent is undeniable.  With some learning and a heavy-handed editor, a comeback sophomore work is not out of the question.


How could I not pair a lasagna recipe with this book? But this is lasagna with a twist! Instead of all the pesky layering traditional lasagna calls for, I’m bringing together all the best qualities of a good lasagna (chewy noodles, flavorful sauce, cheesy goodness, and bits of juicy meat) in a one-pot soup! The most you have to do for this lasagna is chop up some onions, mince garlic, and stir.

Don’t be deceived! Even though this dish is minimal effort, it’s maximum flavor!

Lasagna Soup

A dinner so delicious, you’ll think it’s from heaven! 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lbs Italian sausage
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 14 oz jars diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz jar tomato paste
  • ½ box of lasagna noodles, broken up into about 1 inch pieces
  • Ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan for topping

INSTRUCTIONS: 

  1. Brown sausage in a large pot with the onions. When I say large pot, I mean HUGE! We’re making a lot of soup in this bad boy.
  2. When sausage is about halfway cooked, add garlic.
  3. After sausage if fully browned, drain fat from the pot.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot over medium heat and stir. Cover the pot, uncovering every few minutes to stir. Make sure nothing sticks to the bottom! 
  5. Allow contents to cook until noodles are al dente.
  6. Scoop into bowls and top with ricotta, mozzarella, and/or parmesan! Serve warm.
  7. Enjoy!

Witches’ Brew Brownies and The Witches

Reviews and Recipes

Happy Halloweekend, ghouls and girls! October has come and gone, which means it’s time to put the tricks and treats behind us. 

Well, okay, how about one more treat?

You’ve gone trick or treating (or, perhaps more accurately, you bought the discounted Halloween candy bags at CVS) and now you have an absurd amount of candy! How are you going to eat it all? How about throwing it in a brownie?!

This week’s recipe is inspired in part by Roald Dahl’s The Witches, and in part by figuring out new ways to eat Halloween candy. 

While no brownies were consumed in The Witches (and no children harmed in the making of these brownies), there’s something delightfully haunting about these treats, with their gooey, bubbling center and their eyes peeking up at you.

I read The Witches as a buddy read with a friend to help get me in the Halloween spirit. A quick read about a boy’s encounter with the Grand High Witch, whose mission it is to wipe out all the children of Earth, this is an equally spooky and sweet book that touts the message: everyone is not who they seem.

This was my first time reading Dahl’s work and it’s safe to say it won’t be my last. His simple writing balances between ironic and charming, wrapping timeless moral lessons in fantastical stories.


WITCHES’ BREW BROWNIES

A perfect post-Halloween treat, the trick to these brownies is throwing in all your favorite candy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 stick of salted butter – melted
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup flour
  • 8-10 Halloween sized candy bars (Kit Kats and Reese’s work great!)
  • Candy eyeballs for topping
  • Any other toppings/fillings you’d like (I used dark chocolate chips and sprinkles)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine melted butter with unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar.
  3. Mix in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated, careful not to overmix.
  4. Stir in flour and vanilla, again mixing until just fully incorporated.
  5. Add in about 6 candy bars and other mix-ins, such as chocolate chips or M&Ms. You may decide to leave the candy bars whole or break them up, depending on your preference.
  6. Pour mixture into a greased or parchment lined 8×8 pan. Beware: the mixture will be EXTREMELY thick.
  7. Bake for ~15 minutes and remove from oven while the brownies are still underbaked.
  8. Arrange candy bars, candy eyeballs, and any other toppings on surface of brownies.
  9. Continue to bake brownies for another 5-8 minutes, until brownies are fully set.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  11. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Rigatoni

Partnerships, Recipes

This post is brought to you in partnership with The Kitchn and Shipt.

I love cooking. From washing the vegetables, to mincing the garlic, to stirring the sauce, to plating the end result, I enjoy every step of the process! (Okay, except maybe cutting onions.)

However, some days my plans to cook are halted by my need to grocery shop. You mean I have to leave my apartment, wander around fluorescently lit aisles, stand in line, and haul everything here? No thank you!

That is, until I found Shipt! Shipt gifted me a one year free subscription and a monetary grocery credit to try their services, and I cannot tell you how blown away I was.

Shipt is a grocery delivery service, founded on the mission to simplify lives. With a subscription, customers are able to order groceries online and receive free delivery on orders $35 and above. A shopper goes to the store on your behalf and (this is the best part) communicates with you during the whole journey! Forgot to order garlic (like I did)? No problem! Just text your shopper and they’ll add it to your order. They also will update you on when they’re in line and on the way to your home. The shopper simply drops the delivery on your doorstep, and that’s it! You can even tip through the app.

The whole experience is extremely personal by allowing direct communication with your shopper. The shopper who picked up my order took just as much care picking out produce as I would have. They were lovely, and really made the whole experience enjoyable.

So, when the cool weather hit and I was dying to whip up a fall pasta dish, all I had to do was log on to Shipt and place my order for my ingredients. Less than a few hours later, I was ready to get cooking!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH RIGATONI

Best enjoyed in a warm bowl on a cool day.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 7 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 oz grated parmesan
  • 1 lb rigatoni

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Peel and dice butternut squash. Toss with olive oil.
  • Line a cookie sheet with tin foil, and even distribute diced butternut squash. Bake for 30 minutes until soft.
  • When the squash has another 15 minutes or so left, begin to boil a generously salted large pot of water. When water comes to a boil, add pasta.
  • When butternut squash is ready, blend in a high power blender together with milk until creamy.
  • Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water. Remove and drain pasta before completely al dente. It will continue to cook in the sauce.
  • Return pasta to pot. Add butternut squash puree, butter, parmesan, and reserved pasta water. Mix well until butter and cheese is melted, and pasta is evenly coated. 
  • Enjoy!

#BlendsBash: Bay Seasoning Crudité Dip

Partnerships, Recipes

It’s week three of my #BlendsBash recipes, and this week I’m bringing you a simple crudité dip inspired by a modern literary favorite.

If you missed my post these last two weeks, welcome to #BlendBash 2020! Bloggers, authors, and bookstragrammers (including myself)  will be creating special recipes inspired by The Book Club Cookbook’s Book, TV, and Song Blends. These are unique spice blends that take their names after all your favorite books, shows, and songs!

I may be the last person on the planet who hasn’t read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. The book is on my TBR, and if it’s anything as amazing as this bay seasoning “Where the Crawdads Zing,” I’m sure I’ll eat it up just as fast!

Bay Seasoning Crudité Dip

Enjoy this zingy dip with crackers and veggies!

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Where the Crawdads Zing bay seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • Pinch of parsley 

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. (Optional: whip with an electric mixer for a fluffy texture.)
  • Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  • Enjoy!

#BlendsBash: Nashville Hot Fried Chicken

Partnerships, Recipes

I’m so excited to bring you a new recipe this week inspired by a Song Blend from The Book Club Cookbook. If you missed my post last week, welcome to #BlendBash 2020! Bloggers, authors, and bookstragrammers (including myself)  will be creating special recipes inspired by The Book Club Cookbook’s Book, TV, and Song Blends. These are unique spice blends that take their names after all your favorite books, shows, and songs!

This week’s recipe is inspired by Cayenne Take My Eyes Off of You (cue the music!), a Nashville hot chicken spice with plenty of kick.

NASHVILLE HOT FRIED CHICKEN

This recipe may seem just too good to be true, it’ll have you singing!

INGREDIENTS

  • BRINE
    • 1 lb chicken thighs
    • 2 cups buttermilk
    • 3 teaspoons minced garlic cloves
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Cayenne Take My Eyes Off of You Seasoning
  • BREADING
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 ½ tablespoons garlic powder
    • ½ tablespoon Cayenne Take My Eyes Off of You Seasoning
    • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • EGG MIXTURE
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • FRYING
    • Enough vegetable or canola oil for about 1 in depth in a frying pan – about 2 ½ cups
  • SPICE MIXTURE
    • 1 tablespoon Cayenne Take My Eyes Off of You Seasoning
    • ½ tablespoon brown sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
    • ¼ teaspoon paprika
    • ¼ cup hot frying oil
    • Pinch of salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine brine ingredients, including chicken, in a large plastic bag or tupperware. Allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Prepare egg mixture by whipping together eggs, milk, and hot sauce in a shallow bowl.
  4. Prepare breading by combining flour, garlic powder, and Cayenne Take My Eyes Off of You Seasoning in a shallow bowl. Add two tablespoons of egg mixture to the breading to help it clump together–that’s where you’re going to get all the crispy goodness from!
  5. Remove chicken from fridge. Take each piece of chicken and coat it in the breading, then the egg mixture, and then the flour once more. This double dipping technique will also help the chicken get extra crispy. Set aside until all pieces are done.
  6. Heat oil in a deep frying pan to 350 degrees.
  7. Fry each piece of chicken on both sides until golden brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Careful not to overcrowd the pan. (DO NOT DISCARD OIL AFTER YOU’RE DONE! We’re going to use it in the spice mixture!)
  8. Once all pieces of chicken are fried, place on a wire rack over a sheet pan and cook in the oven an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until chicken is crispy.
  9. While chicken cooks in the oven, combine ingredients for spice mixture in a medium bowl.
  10. Remove chicken from the oven and immediately brush with the spice mixture. Allow to cool.
  11. Enjoy! I loved these with mini waffles and some homemade honey butter!

#BlendsBash: Weeknight Udon Stir Fry

Partnerships, Recipes

I’m so excited to have partnered with The Book Club Cookbook to be a recipe contributor to their #BlendBash 2020! Bloggers, authors, and bookstragrammers (including myself)  will be creating special recipes inspired by The Book Club Cookbook’s Book, TV, and Song Blends. These are unique spice blends that take their names after all your favorite books, shows, and songs!

The Book Club Cookbook was kind enough to send me five spices, including Cayenne Take My Eyes Off of You, Sage of Innocence, Where the Crawdads Zing, and the two that inspired today’s recipe, A Song of Spice and Fire and Sesame Street.

These spices are seriously delicious. Not only do they make any dish stand out, but they also make incredible gifts for the foodie in your life!

I’m thrilled to kick off this recipe series with an easy Weeknight Udon Stir Fry. Not going to lie, this is hands down my favorite recipe I’ve ever developed.

There’s nothing like the magic of a chewy udon noodle, and it’s a great vehicle for all kinds of deliciousness. This easy stir fry means you can whip up this spicy, warm meal on even the busiest of days. As an added bonus, it’s easy to fry up any veggies or meat you have in your fridge that are about to go bad and throw into the stir fry for some extra yum. This is a recipe for one because, trust me, you won’t want to share.

WEEKNIGHT UDON STIR FRY

INGREDIENTS:*

  • 8 oz udon noodles
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon + extra for garnish “Sesame Street” sesame seeds TV Blend
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • Up to 1 teaspoon “A Song of Spice and Fire” shichimi togarashi Book Blend**

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook udon noodles in a small pot of boiling water until separated. When finished, drain noodles and toss with sesame oil to keep from sticking.
  2. While the noodles cook, toast sesame seeds in a hot pan over medium heat. Continue to toast until golden. Remove seeds from the pan and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce and brown sugar to form sauce mixture. Set aside.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a pan over high heat. Once hot, combine ginger and garlic.
  5. When ginger and garlic become aromatic, add sauce mixture, udon noodles, and ½ tablespoon sesame seeds to the pan. Combine well and reduce to medium heat. Stir occasionally and allow sauce to thicken, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and mix in green onions (reserve some for garnish) and shichimi togarashi.
  7. Plate the noodles and garnish with leftover green onion and toasted sesame seeds.
  8. Enjoy!

NOTES

*This stir fry moves fast, so prepare all your ingredients by measuring and cutting before beginning the recipe.

**Amount of shichimi togarashi used will depend on your personal spiciness preference. This spice packs a punch, so a little goes a long way. I like to use ½ teaspoon for a good kick. 

Honey Cinnamon Oranges and One to Watch

Reviews and Recipes

It’s been 195 days.

No, not since quarantine started—since the last Bachelor finale. 

I am an avid, guilty pleasure watcher of all things Bachelor Nation. I was so starved for Bachelor content, I even watched Listen to Your Heart. Season 16 of The Bachelorette was delayed due to COVID-19, while season 7 of Bachelor in Paradise was pushed to 2021. I’ve been in a major lurch without hot tub drama and rose ceremonies.

Enter: One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London.

Stayman-London’s debut novel follows the story of Bea Schumacher, a plus size fashion blogger who breaks the internet with her viral rant against the hit reality show, The Main Squeeze. Criticizing The Main Squeeze for its lack of diversity, including its lack of body diversity, Bea is asked to be the next lead on the show. She agrees and sets out to propel her career, not fall in love. But when cameras start rolling, things get more complicated than she planned.

Okay, so you’ve probably figured out by now that The Main Squeeze is a thinly veiled parallel to The Bachelor/The Bachelorette. This book was a masterful representation of all things Bachelor, from how it’s produced, to podcast recaps, to group chats. The “kiss off ceremonies” (The Main Squeeze’s version of the rose ceremonies) were just as dramatic if I were watching them unfold on live television—I found myself screaming at the pages of my book, torn who to route for, adamant in who I despised, desperately invested in the romance of Bea’s life. 

To top things off, this isn’t your typical romance book or season of The Bachelor. There’s real talk about body image and self confidence as Bea struggles to accept the fact that these men are competing for her.

Whether you love or hate The Bachelor, this book is for you. It works to criticize the things that make the franchise so deeply problematic and parody the absurdities of the show, while also giving you the drama you love and characters that are easy to invest in.


During one date in Marrakesh, Morocco, Bea goes on a fabulous date with [NAME REDACTED]. “After dinner,” Stayman-London writes, “they fed each other slices of orange drizzled with honey, and Bea thought she’d never tasted anything so perfectly sweet in her life.”

Enjoy this fruity, sticky, sweet snack inspired by One to Watch by simply mixing together 1 tablespoon of honey with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and drizzling the mixture over thin slices of navel oranges.