Cooking With a Writer – Avocados Getting All Smoky in the Fajitas

So, still trying to be a vegetarian family out in the camping world… and still sort of failing.

But this week, I made something I TOTALLY loved even if avocados basically cost 8 million dollars in New England and they use up a lot of resources shipping them here.


Now, I can’t eat avocados. BUT YOU CAN!

Here’s the recipe.

Cooking With a Writer Avocados Get Smoky and Fajita Like

Sometimes you just have to avocado it. 

  • .25 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • .75 package (1 oz) fajita seasoning (I use more but I need a lot of seasoning. More can make it sort of salty)
  • 1.5 whole avocado (sliced use the rest to taunt your husband with)
  • 1.5 green pepper (sliced)
  • .5 whole onion (cut into rings; separate the rings)
  • 4 whole tortilla (the six-inchers)
  1. YOU MUST PLAN AHEAD HERE! I am so sorry.

    First, whisk water, oil and seasoning together in a bowl. Then pour it into a big enough bag.

    Add vegetables and make all that marinade stick to them. 

    Marvel at your work.

    Push all the air out of the bag and seal it. This is to keep the avocados from getting that gross color that avocados get. 

    Write a picture book draft about avocados not wanting to get oxidized. Realize this is a bad idea. Browning avocados is just like white people trying to get tan. Maybe those avocados do want to be oxidized, darn it. 

    Confuse yourself thinking about the societal implications of this picture book. 

    Decide to drink wine instead. 

  2. Turn the grill on medium. Oil the grate. 

    Drain all the liquid off the veggies. This seems like a waste of water. Think about writing a picture book about wasting water. 

    Think about the societal implications of wasting water! 

    Dude. This is not good. 

    Go ahead and separate the onions and peppers from the avocados. Sure they were all friends in the tight airless bag, but now… now… they don’t associate with each other anymore, do they? 

    Realize this totally could be a picture book, somehow, but there are so many plot threads. 

    Feel badly for separating the vegetables but then shout, “YOU ARE ALL GOING TO BURN SOON ANYWAY!” 

    There. All is good. 

  3. Burn the onions and peppers first. DON’T REALLY BURN THEM. I’m being silly.

    Using tongs, put then in one layer. Cook until tender. This might be five minutes. It might be 11 minutes. Turn them a couple of times while grilling. 

    Once you’re done, put them in a pan, cover them up and keep them cozy and warm. 

  4. Now, it’s time for the poor lonely avocados. Do the same thing. Turn them. This will take about 5 minutes. 

  5. Take some tortillas. Put all the veggies in there. They are together again! Celebrate by eating them. 

Dog Verdict: No.

Man Verdict: Are these avocados? ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME OR TURN ME HIPSTER?

Carrie Verdict: I am enjoying this fajita immensely.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…


People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseballis a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy my book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.


I’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. It is in Augusta, Maine.

Cooking With a Writer – Mujaddara

When I was a kid, my uncle Charlie was one of my favorite people. This was mostly because he was super mellow. His family was Lebanese and settled in Manchester, N.H. and married my aunt Rosie. Aunt Rosie was the best cook in our family, which annoyed my mom so much. SO MUCH!

My mom was the best baker though, which I have to say or her ghost will strike me down or something. Hopefully, Aunt Rosie’s ghost is holding her back.

Anyway, Charlie’s real name was Kalil, but I never knew that when I was a kid. I can’t imagine that was the easiest name to have in Manchester, N.H. back when he was alive.  He died when I was ten, but I have the best memories of him making me try food that nobody else made. It was pretty awesome. So was he.

In Charlie’s honor, I tried to make mujaddara, which is something I remember vaguely having when I was little. It’s cheap. It’s filling. I hope you like it.  And if you are Lebanese and you know a better recipe for this or tweaks? Please let me know.



This calorie count is not exact. 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 onions (yellow, thinly sliced)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp allspice
  • .5 tsp cloves (ground)
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup rice (long grain, jasmine if you can)
  • 1 cup lentils (brown)
  • 1 stick cinnamon (if you have it)
  • .5 tsp black pepper (peppercorn if possible)
  1. Find a pot. Put lentils in pot. Cover with water that rises over it about one inch. 

    Bring to boil.

    Lower to simmer.

    Cook about 20 minutes.

  2. On another burner with another pot, put the temperature to medium-high heat .

    Add oil. Let oil warm for a minute.

    Add in cumin, pepper, allspice, cloves, and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. 

    Add all those onions. Think about how much you cried slicing those onions. Wow. That is how much you want people to cry when they read your book.

  3. Cook those onions for about 15 minutes until they are no longer white. 

    You want those onions to be a dark caramel brown. You will have to stir often.

    Good results, transforming characters, books and food that makes you cry? It requires effort. You’ve got this, writer. You’re used to effort.

  4. Take out half the onions and set them aside. 

    It’s okay. They are not gone forever. I promise. 

  5. Add in any more ground cumin, and add the cinnamon stick.

    Saute about 1 minute.

    Add the rice. Stir a lot.

  6. Add the cooked lentils, broth, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt; bring to a boil. 

    Turn the heat to low, simmer 30 minutes. 

    Turn it off and let it rest for 10 minutes.

    Do not take off the lid! NO LOOKING! SERIOUSLY.

    Okay. Take off the lid. Is there any water left? If so, simmer about 5 minutes.

  7. Fluff it up and make it pretty like editors at traditional publishing houses do to stories. 

    Put those saved onions on top.


This is all part of my lifelong experiment to convince The Man (Shaun of the “Dogs are Smarter Than People” podcast to give up meat.


Man Verdict: I am okay with this.


Carrie Verdict: It reminds me of Uncle Charlie so it’s a win.

Writing News

Carrie’s  super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal 

“A wild and fresh take on fantasy with an intriguing cast of characters. Dangerous and scary and fun all rolled into one. In the words of Eva the dwarf, I freaking loved it!” –  Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds series

“Effervescent, funny, and genuine.” –  Kirkus Reviews

It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go by the first two books now. 🙂





For a complete round-up of Carrie’s 16-or-so books, check out her website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.


Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

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Cooking With a Writer Squash Me Up Soup Recipe

In order to make a good book, a break-out novel, you have to have inherent conflict, opposing forces that both want something.

This is my house.

I want to not eat meat.

Everyone else wants to eat meat. I think it’s wasteful to make separate meals all the time (no-meat, meat).

So, like any good protagonist, I’m attempting to convince Shaun and the dogs to eat vegetarian meals. But, I am easily bored so I give the recipes a humorous writer-twist. And that brings us to this squishy squash soup recipe that I made this week. It was creamy and delightful and you can add things to it like cilantro!

Gabby hated it so much she resorted to eating licking the comforter.
Gabby hated it so much she resorted to eating licking the comforter.

Squash Me Up Soup Recipe

It’s squash. It’s soup. It’s creamy. It’s orange. That’s got to be good, right? 

  • 2 TBSP Unsalted butter
  • 1 Leek (all chopped up)
  • 1 Butternut Squash (3 – 4 pounds, cube it up)
  • .25 tsp nutmeg
  • .5 tsp black petter
  • 4 tbsp sherry (More if you just got rejected)
  • 3 cup vegetarian stock
  • 1 cup milk (the full-on fat kind because you are a starving writer)
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • sherry vinegar (to taste)
  • salt (to taste)
  1. Find a medium stock pot and melt the butter in a medium stockpot. Turn it on medium-lowish heat. Feel like this is how your book feels – sort of mid-list, sort of squishy. Ponder with angst. 

  2. Once the butter is melted, stop staring at it and put the leeks in there.

    They have to sweat.

    So do you, right? Writing is sweat for the heart, grit for the soul, an endurance sport.

  3. Stir it once in a while. That’s how your agent responds to you, right? Once in awhile. Stir until the leeks are soft but not brown.

    This takes about 5 minutes.

    This is much quicker than anything in the publishing world. 

    Except mean tweets.  Mean tweets are fast. 

  4. This looks kind of cool. Admire the leeks. How your book is like them. Good smelling, soft yet not burnt. 

  5. Add the squash, nutmeg, pepper, and some salt.

    Stir it around once in awhile for another 5 minutes. 

  6. Add the sherry.

    For the next 2-3 minutes let the sherry hang out in there. 

    If it is not against your religion, drink sherry straight from the bottle. That’s just what happens when there is nobody helping you cook.

    Do not judge yourself. That’s what reviewers are for.

  7. Add enough stock to barely cover the vegetables. 

    This is sort of like the publicity budget for your book – just enough to cover the basics.

    Drink more sherry. Wipe it off your chin. 

  8. Okay. It’s breakout novel … I mean … soup… time. 

    Turn the heat to high. Make it boil.

    Feel satisfied. That’s success right there. 

    Now reduce the heat to a simmer. Control that simmer like you control your readers’ emotions and keep it there for 20 minutes.

    The squash should be fork tender like your readers’ hearts. 

  9. Add milk.

    Add the 2 tablespoons cream. 

  10. Blend until smooth. 

    This is scary because it is hot so be careful. If you are using a regular blender and not an immersion blender DO NOT TRY TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE! This is like a manuscript. You can’t just throw it all in there for two seconds and call it good. There are steps to blending just like there are steps to revision. 

  11. Add however much salt, pepper, sherry, and sherry vinegar you need to make it taste good.

    If it seems bland go raid the spice rack and add cumin or curry or open the fridge and squeeze some hot sauce in there – a TB or more to taste.

  12. Once it is in the bowl, put cream on top so it seems fancy. 


Man Verdict: This would be better with bacon, honestly

Carrie Verdict: Cilantro is the new bacon!

Cooking With a Writer


I’m on WERU today, Thursday, at 10 a.m. EST. You can call in and ask me stuff. I’ll be talking about writing and books. The link is here. 


Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
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