Pesto 101

I think pesto is a very cool,  versatile thing to have in your cooking repertoire. You can mix it into pasta, spread it on toast with a little avocado and sprinkle of feta and ricotta, make some rockin’ pizza. You get the picture. Today we are going to talk about basil pesto. My pestos are nut and seed free because we have food allergies in our family. Traditionally you would use pine nuts or could use pumpkin seeds.


A cup of fresh basil leaves

Fresh garlic to taste

Olive Oil

Pinch of sea salt

Add ins: Steamed or blanched veggies – broccoli or asparagus…



Wash basil leaves and tear off stems. I’m not sure that you need to tear off the stems, but I always do. Chop some fresh garlic. Pile leaves and garlic into food processor or whatever mixer you are using. I use my Nutribullet a lot. It’s always out for my smoothies and it is so easy to clean, etc. Pour in some olive oil and mix. Easy, right? You can add a nice hard Parmesan in at this point – but I just grate some on top later if I’m using the pesto for pasta.

I was doing too many things while I was cooking tonight. I was on the phone with my dad, reminding my son that we already had frozen yogurt so no ice cream…and this happened:


That is like pesto water. When you use the Nutribullet to make pesto or hummus – you often have to add a little water.  (NOT with a food processor.) Clearly I was distracted and used too much. I stood looking at this green water equal parts amused and annoyed at myself. Okay – I was mostly amused.


Luckily I had a bunch of steamed broccoli that I was going to toss into the pasta. Now I tossed it into the Nutribullet with about a quarter of the green pesto water.


Blessed veggie. The heart cleaner.

And we got this:


And then I tossed it into the quinoa brown rice pasta from Trader Joes – ’cause we do gluten up in this place – but not that often.


I had to use a little more pesto than usual – as you know it was a bit diluted.

But it worked.

Enjoy! Let me know what you made for dinner tonight and how you make your pesto. Next week – hummus!







Best Spring Salad


I love to cook. But I’m kind of shy about it. I’ve been teaching myself for years, and it is one of my lifelong dreams to be an awesome cook! I would love to have a food blog, but I often think – who am I to have food blog? Lol. I think my first cookbook would be about salads. I love to make salads!

So I share this one with you, and we can pretend I have a food blog. Because today, I do.

Best Spring Salad



Fresh Feta (get some good stuff – it makes such a difference)

Thinly sliced radishes


Juice of one lime

Sliced grilled chicken

How to make this gorgeous salad:


Today I truly made friends with my grill in terms of chicken! We had a courtship of sticking, etc. Not tonight, baby!  I marinated these two breasts in a Ziplock bag with lime juice, soy sauce, olive oil and some sea salt. They were in there most of the day.

Heat your grill pan on medium and when it is getting hot – spray some cooking oil on there. Add your chicken! Usually about six minutes per side – but that big one was more like eight per side. Cut into it – if still pink – just throw them back on. I can hear the Pioneer Woman saying, “It’s all good,” in my head.

When the chicken is done – slice it into cubes. I did big cubes and it was so tender!

Wash your kale and tear it into strips. Put it in a pretty bowl. (I’ve been loving these white ones my husband picked up at…wait for it…Ralph’s! Cover them with lime juice. Softens the leaves and makes everything so tasty!

Throw in those thinly sliced radishes, crumble some of that exquisite feta and top with avocado.

If you’re being “good” – you could have just mixed that lime juice and feta and some sea salt and pepper – and some olive oil in a little dish to make your dressing.

But I was being bad to the bone. Lol. I’m kidding. I added just a touch of Annie’s Cowgirl Ranch Dressing – ’cause I felt like it. Oh. My. Gawd. It was so good.

Enjoy! If you make it – please leave a comment!




Welcome to YASH Spring 2016

 YA Scavenger Hunt
Hi! My name is Marissa Kennerson, and I will be your host for this leg of the hunt! Welcome! In addition to the YASH contest goodies, I’m giving away a $10 Amazon card and an ebook of my novel, The Family  to a lucky winner! Leave your favorite childhood book and one reason why you loved it in the comments and follow me on Twitter (@MarissaAlexK) to win!
 Take a deep breath, read the rules below and then play! Good luck!
So! Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Huntpage to find out all about the hunt. There are eight contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM–but there is also a red team, an orange team, a gold team, a green team, a teal team, a blue team, a purple team, and a pink team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 3, 2016, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Today, I am hosting Alyxandra Harvey on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt! A little about Alyxandra:
Alyxandra Harvey lives in a stone Victorian house in Ontario, Canada with a few resident ghosts who are allowed to stay as long as they keep company manners. She loves medieval dresses, used to be able to recite all of The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson, and has been accused, more than once, of being born in the wrong century. She believes this to be mostly true except for the fact that she really likes running water, women’s rights, and ice cream.
Find out more information by checking out her website or find more about her novel, LOVE ME, LOVE ME NOT  – here!

Dating isn’t easy when you’re in the middle of a blood feud.

Anastasia Vila’s family can turn into swans, but just once she’d like them to turn into responsible adults.

After hundreds of years, they still cling to the blood feud with the Renard family. No one remembers how it started in the first place—but foxes and swans just don’t get along.

Vilas can only transform into their swan shape after they have fallen in love for the first time, but between balancing schoolwork, family obligations, and the escalating blood feud, Ana’s got no time for love. The only thing keeping her sane is her best friend, Pierce Kent.

But when Pierce kisses Ana, everything changes.

Is what Pierce feels for her real, or a byproduct of her magic? Can she risk everything for her best friend? And when the family feud spirals out of control, Ana must stop the fight before it takes away everything she loves.

Including, maybe…Pierce.

Entangled Publishing, February 22, 2016


Exclusive Content: Check out this deleted scene! So cool! 

Deleted Scene from “Love Me, Love Me Not” by Alyxandra Harvey


The aunts were already divebombing the Kent property when I got there. The few who
stayed human ran through the trees with bows and arrows. Shadow darted back and forth. It was confusing and loud and the smell of burst shotgun shells stung my nose as I climbed up a maple tree to get a better lookout. The barn lights were too dim to illuminate more than the basic rush of violence. Were those feathers? Was that blood? It was too hard to tell. Violence was nothing to a swan. Something got too close to your nest, you took them down. We weren’t exactly known as the pretty songbirds of the world. But it wasn’t the swan inside of me that wanted to be out there fighting, it was the girl. I wondered what that said about me. Probably nothing good. I couldn’t see Pierce anywhere. Not that I had to warn him anymore. Clearly he knew something was going on. Especially when I landed at his feet. A bullet went by my head, scaring the crap out of me and I tumbled out of the tree. Pierce jumped, shouting obscenities before realizing the flailing limbs belonged to me. The look on his face would have been funny if we weren’t both about to watch our families kill each other.

I leaned into him for a moment, and his lips brushed my temple when he spoke. “One
day we’re going to go on a regular date.”

“Right after we stop a war.”

“No pressure .”

Now for some more YASH FUN!
And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Marissa Kennerson, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number issearch.

Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the blue team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author!
 And a little more fun:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why I chose an interracial couple for my young adult love story.


This hot couple is inter-planetary and interracial.

When I started to write my young adult novel, The Family, I felt that certain teens were not represented in the y/a that I was reading. It was really important to me to have a strong African American male and a strong gay character.  I think things have evolved, but when I started my book – I just was not seeing these teens. Granted, it might have been what I was reading…but hey. By the way – want a strong gay teen? Read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Damn, girl can write. And it is SO funny and heartwarming!

Leo is half white and half black. He talks to Twig about living in two worlds, and of course, she can relate to this as she starts to take steps away from The Family, the dangerous and oppressive cult she’s been raised in. Their struggle between worlds is VERY different. His is cultural and kind of wonderful -despite its challenges. Twig’s world is harrowing, and she steps onto the precipice of a new, a free world. An imperfect but beautiful world. Our world.

Only in retrospect do I see that I might have been working out some of my own history in my writing. At one point in my life my mom was married to a Jamaican man (after my dad), and my father was not happy. (Understatement.) I just actually called my father. We’re very close – and obviously we share VERY different opinions here, but this is tough stuff, and I wasn’t sure he wanted it all over my blog. But you dear 20 people who read my blog, will keep an open mind I hope. Hate the racism. Don’t hate the man. Or something like that.

Later in my life (my twenties) – before I met my wonderful husband, I was dating an awesome, talented, very dear African American man. My dad went pretty ballistic. And no – this was not in the 1950’s. It sucked. My brothers stopped talking to my dad, my dad stopped talking to me – it was a mess. But we’re family and we got through it. That’s one long story short.

So if I want to shrink myself (which I can, I have a masters in psychology, baby) – I might have been working out a few issues with Twig and Leo. I love that. Maybe I wasn’t. Who knows. Either way, they are a gorgeous couple, and I fell in love with them and their love affair while I wrote the book.

The Family is on sale for two more days for $1.99. Grab it! Enjoy!





Sapphire Inspiration – making art with an old friend


For any of you who have read my debut novel, The Family, you know Sapphire. In order to create Sapphire, I went to an equestrian center in Burbank, California, where the trainers were kind enough to let me hang out with them and photograph the beautiful, majestic horses. This is one of the beauties I photographed, and she feels just like Sapphire, Twig’s beloved horse, doesn’t she?

Itching to make art lately, I signed up for some super cool and more technical art classes sponsored by the city of Santa Monica (cheap!!). Last week’s was transfer printing. We were told to bring images from ink jet or toner printers – I grabbed a handful of Kate Moss, Twiggy, etc. But once I got there – it felt much better, more authentic, to use print outs of my own photographs – like this one above. A little Modge Podge later and here she is transferred onto a piece of canvas. I am excited to paint this image – play with it. Get back into art. Stay tuned for my next classes- wood cut transfer and more!

The Family is on sale for this last week of January! Grab it on Amazon for $1.99.

Want to Win Some Books?

The YA Story Sisters _ it’s an awesome group I am so proud to be a part of_are giving away a big ‘ole stack of books! Here’s how you enter. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving! Leave a comment about a book you are thankful in the comments! I’m off to enjoy family and eat some seriously awesome food! Enter here to win!

RaYA Story Sisters-Tumblr

YASH – It’s here. Welcome Julie Chibbaro to the site!

Hello there YASH Participants! Welcome! Let’s do this! Take a deep breath and here we go!

Orange Team Rules

Orange Team Rules

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. It’s a little hidden, but I have faith you will find it! Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the orange team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 4, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Here we go!

Check out this exciting bonus content from Julie Chibbaro, author of (tk)! Then, enter to win a $10 gift card from Amazon by doing two simple things: 1) My publisher, FFF DIGITAL and I are trying to pick a new cover for my cult suspense novel, THE FAMILY. Choose A, B or C! I need your help! Which do you like? Leave your pick in the comments. 2) Subscribe to my blog! I know it seems like 7 things to do, but I would be so appreciative! Follow me on Twitter – bonus points!

With no further ado! Let’s meet Julie Chibbaro, author of Into A Dangerous World


Here’s Julie’s bonus summary about Into A Dangerous World AND a cool graphic illustration from the book! I hear there are way more than 7 fantastic illustrations!

“17-year old Ror comes from the boonies and is tough as nails and all she really cares about is drawing and painting and making art. She ends up in the ghetto that was Manhattan in 1984, where she discovers that the walls, the subways, the bridges are covered with art. Before long, she runs into trouble with Trey, the ultimate bad boy and president of Noise Ink, a graffiti crew she desperately wants to join at all costs.

When Ror falls in love with Trey, she realizes she’ll do just about anything to get up in the scene. She has some decisions to make: she wants to be a street artist but she doesn’t want get shot by the cops; she wants her stuff in the museum but she doesn’t want to die waiting to become famous; she wants to makes money selling her work in a gallery but she doesn’t want to be a puppet at the mercy of a dealer. The book follows her descent into a dangerous world, where her drawings are her only salvation.

Ror’s journey is a seamless blend of words and pictures, cinematic in its scope – a sharp-edged, indelible creation that will live inside your head.

“[T]his striking combination of story and illustration creates a powerful portrait of a budding artist.” Publishers Weekly starred review”


Author Julie

Author Julie

Okay! To enter to win a $10 gift card to Amazon – I need your help! We’re launching a new cover for my young adult cult suspense novel, The FAMILY! Do you like A, B, or C? Put your vote in the RaffleCopter and subscribe to my blog to win! Good luck! Feel free to give me cover thoughts in the comments as well.

Choice A

Choice A

Choice B

Choice B

Choice C

Choice C

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Be sure to visit our sister y/a author Maria E. Andreu next!  
Have fun!

It’s that YASH time of year again!

What’s YASH?

It’s the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt, and it is SO fun! A bunch of us authors get together and host each other on our respective blogs! You get the chance to win STACKS of y/a books, and get heaps of bonus material  – deleted scenes, (NEW COVER POSSIBILITIES in my case!), playlists, etc! Don’t you just love getting free AWESOME books in the mail?

I’m on Team Orange again – which is just so fall – I love it! (Pumpkins, squash, oh yeah!) Things kick off October 1!

Stay tuned!! scavenger_hunt_2Orange Team

Help cute doggies like this one and get to know a remarkable LA-based artist. Read on.

How cute is this guy?
I am honored to introduce you to A. Morkus Dog – writer and canine extraordinaire. He wrote this book with his mom, LA-based artist Deborah Reilly.
This book made me and my son laugh out loud. He’s a great writer and 20% of the proceeds from his book, The Collected Writings of A. Morkus Dog go to Animal Rescue Groups. So that’s pretty cool! Entertainment and animal rights in one. I like it!
Let’s hear a little more about Deborah. She’s written a lovely piece based on questions I sent her a few weeks back. She’s so cool and so talented, and we are going to have coffee soon. How lucky am I? Can you say inspiration?
Deborah and her sweet little dog man.

Deborah and her sweet little dog man.

Hi Marissa,
I am so happy you and your son love the book! I am so thankful for the feedback and this interview.
I am an artist, writer and teacher. I teach Art at an elementary school in Brentwood and Saturday mornings at the farmer’s market at Virginia Avenue Park in Santa Monica. I was born and raised in Montana and have a BFA in drawing from MSU Bozeman. As a kid I was often at the kitchen counter drawing from comic books that we had around the house.
Deborah has done work for Will Smith and Queen Latifah.

Deborah has done works commissioned by Will Smith and Queen Latifah.

I loved to draw. I wasn’t a ‘natural’ artist though, so I gave up Art and did not pick it up again until I was 25, living in San Francisco. I started where I let off with Crayola watercolors as a way of dealing with insomnia. It was wonderful to understand that the images I saw in my head could be brought on paper I just had to go abstract before I could go real.
Art has been an evolution for me over the past 20 years. The Collected Writings of A Morkus Dog is my fourth children’s book but the first inspired by Mork. Mork came into our life via a local rescue group called Love Leo Rescue. It was love at first sight for me and the love continues to grow. I grew up with dogs but Mork is the first of my own and I am smitten. I hope that comes across on the page. He is such a charismatic guy.
Other books are:
Starchy & Husk in the Green Boot in Soup Caper
Starchy & Husk in Swoosh, Whoosh, Swish What was That? Starchy & Husk are a potato and corncob who fight crime in rhyme.)
Cock A Doodle Que Pasa? (which has not gone into production)
I paint, draw, collage but usually with no idea in mind as to what it will be. The Abstract Expressionists have been a big influence in my creative journey. I am a process artist and figure it out as I go along. When I began illustrating my books it was a challenge as the words were written so the pictures had to match. My previous books were collage which I love. I cut up my old sketchbooks and make art out of ‘mistakes’.
With Mork’s book I had to take a different approach, the world I created on paper is much like that I envisioned in my head. It was about those blue lines and Mork’s image on paper, it didn’t need much else. Most of the pictures in the book are drawn from actual photographs. As a teacher it is important to me that young artists and readers see work that is not perfect or computer generated. I like my work to be relatable. All images and text are done by hand.
I was planning to write the third story for Starchy & Husk but then came Mork and that just turned everything upside down. The inspiration for this book comes from him! He is just such a funny dude. From the eyebrows, those pleading, inquisitive brown eyes and cocking his head from side to side as thought he is really listening to you. One day he put a pen in his mouth and sat by the door and just looked at me…not much more needed to be said. I was encouraged by a few colleagues to write a children’s book about Mork and so I did.
After adopting Mork I became captivated by the rescue community and wanted to do something more. I’d like my wallet to match my heart in what I can give. Watching videos of animals being rescued always left me in tears. 20% of the net profits will go to animal rescue groups like Hope for Paws, The Sat Project, Love Leo Rescue, The Vieques Humane Socity etc… It is important to me that I become a part of the solution. We travelled to the Domincan Republic last fall and I picked up a travel tip from a good friend of mine. She always has food for the stray animals so as we vacationed on the lovely beaches we fed the animals in need. it felt so good and sad at the same time.
I  grew up with dogs and had always wanted one of my own. My boyfriend and I decided to take the plunge and adopt. I contacted a local animal rescue group called Love Leo Rescue and told Sasha what we were looking for in a dog. A few weeks later she was at Downey Shelter and found Mork. Sasha tagged me in a photo and that was it, love at first sight. We fostered him for one night and called Sasha the next day and said Mork had found his forever home.
There are so many things I love about this little dog and I hope that is conveyed on the page. How he amuses me, makes me smile and laugh and how he burst my heart wide open! He makes life better. I remember writing to Sasha a few days after we adopted him, saying that I couldn’t remember life before Mork, and I still can’t. We are kindred spirits and have many of the same personality traits.
Many of my students have asked “Did your dog really write this book?” to which I reply, “Well, no, not really but if he could write I think this is exactly what he would say.” And I believe that to be true.
Writing children’s books is kind of like coming full circle for me working in a format that was such a part of my childhood. I aim to write books that both parents and children will enjoy. This book is great for toddlers, early readers and for anyone who loves dogs.
What inspires Deborah and A. Morkus…
As a kid I loved Dr Seuss, Maurice Sendak and Eric Carle and of course the Madeline series. David Shannon and Ian Falconer are contemporary favorites. I love humor and am a fan of David Sedaris and Amy Schumer. Some of my favorite books are: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont and The Little Prince are my Art Bibles. Anne Lamont is so honest about the creative process and The Little Prince encouraged me that you are never too old to create. Favorite painters are Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler and Francis Bacon and Louise . I love how every art movement is a reaction to another.
There are so many great influences it is hard to cap it to a few. 
Thank you Deborah and A. Morkus! The two will be travelling this summer and writing and arting about their adventures! Please follow them! A. Morkus Dog.
Also July 8-10 Hale Arts on Main Street in Santa Monica is having a $100. art sale. Deborah will have 3 paintings available and yes, all work will be $100.