07 January 2014

Happy Book Birthday! DIRT DIARY by Anna Staniszewski

If you're familiar with me and my blog, you probably already know that I'm a HUGE fan of Anna Staniszewski. I've raved about her books here and here, and I even wrote about how MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE turned my "worst day ever" into a total "best day ever." So yeah, when I got a chance to read an advance copy of her latest book THE DIRT DIARY, I'm sure you can guess that I was beyond thrilled!

Rachel's parents are separated, but she's certain she can get them back together if she could just get to Florida to talk to her dad in person.
But her mom checks the balance in her college fund every month, so she only has a month to replace the $287.22 she "borrowed" from her account for a plane ticket. Between the money she makes each Saturday as an employee of her mother's new cleaning business, scrubbing the toilets of the most popular kids in the eighth grade, and the money she hopes to win in the school bake sale competition, Rachel's sure she can pay it back before mom notices.

But her fabulous desserts keep flopping, and the money she earns cleaning houses isn't adding up fast enough. So when her crush offers to pay her to spy on his girlfriend, Rachel's seriously tempted to get her hands dirty.

This is my new favorite Anna Staniszewski book! Once again, Staniszewski has created realistic characters that practically leap off the page. I loved Rachel and wanted to step inside the pages to be her friend. Her dessert creations had my mouth watering (I really want some of those recipes!), and my heart ached for Rachel, as she struggled to decide how far she was willing to go to fix her family.

As you know, I, like Rachel, enjoy creating fabulous new recipes that often mirror my mood. So of course, I had to create a dessert recipe of my own to celebrate THE DIRT DIARY's release:

Dark Chocolate Maple Brownies
Brownie Layer
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1tsp. maple flavoring
  • 1/3 c. water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 13x9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add eggs, oil, vanilla, maple and water, and stir until all dry ingredients are moistened.  Spread batter evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Maple Topping Layer
  • 1c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. maple flavoring
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. water
(You can use a different bowl if you like, or wash the bowl you used to mix the brownie batter, but I don't like washing dishes, so I just used the same bowl without washing in between steps - the flavors meld together well, so you don't need to worry about mixing flavors when mixing the second variety of batter.) Sift together dry flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add oil, maple flavoring, egg, vanilla, and water. Stir until all ingredients are moistened. Pour on top of brownie mixture in pan, and spread evenly. Bake for 27-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting.


  1. This is just about the coolest thing ever. Thank you! And YUM!

  2. That sounds delicious. :-)
    Congrats, Anna!

  3. Um...yum? Those look amazing! I'm hoping to get TDD here in the next few days.

  4. This book is absolutely wonderful! I got it over the weekend and devoured it like I want to that brownie! There is just so much to love about Rachel and TDD. Cannot wait for the next book! Arm yourself with a lot of goodies before you read, or you might just lick the pages--there's a lot of comfort food here!