Congratulations to Dorothy of Shockingly Delicious!
She is the lucky recipient of Monica Holland's Lick the Bowl Good.
Monica Holland is living the dream! A publisher fell in love with the recipes on Monica's Lick the Bowl Good blog. Months later, Monica's cookbook Lick the Bowl Good was born. Flip through the pages of her book and you'll see mouthwatering photographs and recipes for Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes, Lemon Shortbread Tarts, Chocolate Cranberry Oat Bars and dozens of other treats. In addition to baking, Monica is a dedicated mom...Even if you never bake a single thing from Lick the Bowl Good (unfathomable!), Monica's introduction to her cookbook is heart-searing honest and inspirational. You can purchase Lick the Bowl Good here. Or you could win Monica's delicious cookbook by entering a comment below!
But first, meet Monica Holland!
Ninja Baker (NB): Thank you for taking time out of your busy baking and mommy schedule for this interview.
Monica: You're very welcome.
NB: You started your blog in 2007 to share recipes with friends and family. Was there one specific recipe that was requested? Or did you find that every time you baked, people wanted the recipe?
Monica: Not particularly, I started Lick The Bowl Good as a creative outlet because I liked to bake and wanted to share. I would send out emails of pictures and recipes to my friends and family and while no one ever said they didn't appreciate the emails, I thought blogging was a better way of sharing the goodies that came out of my kitchen.
Chocolate Gingerbread from Lick the Bowl Good:
Classic chocolate cake with a spicy zing!
NB: What is your most popular post / oft-requested recipe? Is it in Lick the Bowl Good? To which recipe(s) do you have the sweetest memories?
Monica: Not many people requested my recipes in the beginning because I am the family baker. If asked (for a specific dessert) I'd bake it for them again. My mom especially loves the Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake that I make. (Page 31) I have made it countless times, for birthdays and special occasions and just because. It is a favorite for sure. The most popular recipe on my blog is for Pepperoni Pizza Puffs, believe it or not. And the favorite sweet recipe is for Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies. Neither are in my cookbook but they're both quite tasty!
NB: How did the cookbook come about? Did you contact a publisher? Please share your process with aspiring cookbook authors.
Monica: I know many people strive to get books published and never succeed. I was very blessed in this department because a publisher at Skyhorse Publishing was a fan of my blog. She went to her head publisher and pitched the book to the others. They all believed in me and offered me a cookbook deal. Of course, I had to write and photograph everything by myself and I had less than 6 months to do it, but I knew what a unique experience this was and I dove in. The team at Skyhorse Publishing was a dream to work with. I provided the content and they designed the layout. Together we created a beautiful (and functional) book.
NB: What is the single most important thing for an aspiring cookbook author to know? And what’s a key element to successful blogging?
Monica: Don't compromise your point of view or who you are. Stand by what you believe in and don't let your content be dictated by someone else's ideas. Be passionate.
NB: For blogging and cookbook writing: Looking back, what shortcuts do you regret taking?
Monica: Not so much a shortcut, but I signed my contract towards the end of the year, 2012. I was so busy with family and holidays that I didn't actually get to working on the book until January. I regret that because I lost about 6 weeks of valuable working time and felt rushed. I also underestimated the time it would take to test recipes. That was the most frustrating part of it all.
NB: What shortcuts do you recommend?
Monica: I didn't take many shortcuts, but one thing I found especially helpful was to make several batches of pie crust (page 109) at once. When I needed them, all I had to do was reach into the freezer. It was a time saver.
NB: How old is Hayden?
Monica: Hayden is 2 years and 3 months old. And very curious!
NB: How do you balance baby and baking time?
Monica: That is difficult because I can't devote 100% of myself to either one. It is a balancing act and I try to get as much baking done as I can when Hayden is napping. Hayden is taking fewer naps these days and likes to help, so I try to incorporate him into my baking, when it's safe to do so. I also consider myself "The Midnight Baker" and get a lot done at night when everyone is in bed and the house is quiet.
Classic holiday spices and sweets in one chocolate gingerbread!
NB: Does someone help you?
Monica: No one helps me bake but hubby helps with grocery shopping and clean up. My mom helps watch Hayden when I need uninterrupted time in the kitchen.
NB: Did you always live in Texas?
Monica: I was born and raised in Texas, but we moved around a bit when I was a kid. We lived in the Washington D.C. area as well as in Virginia, but Texas is my home.
NB: Do you come from a family of bakers?
Monica: No, I don't. My great Aunt Mary is a from-scratch baker. She bakes cookies, pies and cakes for all holidays, especially Christmas. Other members know how to bake and do it occasionally but it's not their passion.
NB: What does your husband do?
Monica: My husband does a lot of things! He's quite the handy man, automobile enthusiast, race car driver and DIY-er.
NB: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Monica: I love to go thrifting and am a bargain hunter. I will search high and low to find the best deal on anything. I like nice things but I'm very frugal. I love to give gifts but I have a hard time spending money on myself because I always feel guilty about it.
NB: What are you most proud of?
Monica: My son. It was a long journey to get him here and he amazes me every single day.
NB: Also, may I reprint your scrumptious chocolate gingerbread recipe with this post?
Monica: Yes, you may.
NB: Thank you for taking time for this interview, Monica.
Monica: Thank you Kim for taking the time to do this. I appreciate your support and enthusiasm!