Book Review: Tide and Tempest

Today I have Elizabeth Ludwig’s Tide and Tempest to review for you. I’ve had this book for a few months because at first, when I requested it from Bethany House’s book review program, I didn’t realize it was part of the Edge of Freedom series! It’s the third book in a series about Irish history and life in the late 1800s New York City, so I had to read the first two books before tackling this one.

Tide and Tempest - a book review on thepajamachef.com

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

It’s been two years since Tillie McGrath last saw Captain Keondric Morgan. He’d let her visit her ill fiance before he died. Now the dashing captain has found her at the boarding house where she lives and has swept back into her life. But all is not well. He seems to be trying to protect her–from whom or what stays a secret.

Even years later, Keondric never forgot the heartbroken lass from his boat. When a crewmember’s death-bed confession hints that her fiance’s death may have been murder, the captain knows he must try to save her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well, dangerous men who believe Tillie may have the last bit of evidence needed to put them away. And trying to stay safe may put them both in more danger than they could have ever imagined.

As usual, my five point review:

  • This novel, like the other two in the series [No Safe Harbor and Safe Road Home], is rich in historical detail. It’s obvious the author has spent a lot of time researching the history of  revolution and freedom in Ireland. The group that’s heavily discussed in this series is the Fenians, and it was very interesting to learn about their work during this time.
  • I really enjoyed how detailed the author was in regard to Irish customs, language, and names. However, there was SO many new names/cultural items/groups in this book and the series that I got a bit confused. The story was just so broad and there were so many characters that I really had to pay attention to keep up with the action.
  • The suspense, not the romance element, was my favorite part of the book. It was so intriguing! I couldn’t wait to learn more about Tillie’s story–her past and her future.
  • Captain Morgan and his brother, Cass, play a huge role in this book. It was fun reading their interactions and their dual feelings towards Tillie. :)
  • Overall, this is just the kind of book I love. History, romance, suspense… and well researched and written to boot! Though it’s the conclusion to a great series, it definitely works as a stand alone novel. You’ll love it!

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!

 

About these ads

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins

These heavenly Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins are reminiscent of treats found at your local coffee shop. They’re so good, so make a batch to impress your loved ones this weekend.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins | thepajamachef.com

I don’t know about you, but I am SO ready for fall. I’m ready for all things pumpkin, falling leaves, crisp 50 degree morning runs, and curling up under cozy blankets. I recently heard that Pumpkin Spice Lattes will be at Starbucks really early this year–August 25 in some places. That, to me, is crazy. Summer’s still happening outdoor! While I won’t be loading up on PSLs [I'll probably have 1-2 over the course of the season and then make some pumpkin spice syrup to enjoy with my coffee at home.] I can’t wait to bake up lots of yummy muffins to enjoy this fall.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins | thepajamachef.com

I do make muffins year round, but there’s something special about warm muffins with your coffee in the fall. These bakery-perfect muffins combine two of my favorite things: peanut butter and chocolate. And the best part is that the peanut butter and chocolate are DOUBLED in this recipe… you’ll find them in both the muffin itself AND in the streusel. It’s double the love, y’all.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins | thepajamachef.com

I hope you’ll love these easy muffins just as much as we did!

one year ago: Chocolate Chip Orange Cookies
two years ago: Brown Sugar Squash Muffins
three years ago: Roasted Tomato Sauce
four years ago: Creamy Lemon Squares

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour – divided
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed – divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons peanut butter – divided
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips – divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or grease with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, prepare streusel by combining 1/4 cup flour with 1/4 cup brown sugar. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons peanut butter. Stir in peanuts and chocolate chips then set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together remaining butter and peanut butter for about 30 seconds or until combined. Add 1/2 cup of remaining flour, the rest of the brown sugar, half the milk, the egg, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat on low until combined, then add remaining flour and milk, mixing until combined. Stir in remaining chocolate.

Divide batter between muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with streusel topping then bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

So, I used to post once a month on a blog called Today’s Housewife. In fall 2012, the group decided together to stop posting due the busyness of life and families and such. Though sad, I enjoyed being part of the group. As of early January, the blog was officially taken down. But I don’t want to lose my recipes, so periodically I will be reposting them on here. Enjoy!

~

from April 14, 2011… this salad is delicious and I need to make it again!

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad | thepajamachef.com

My husband and I each take our lunches with us almost everyday, him to work and me to grad school. Not only is it less expensive to pack lunches, but it’s a lot healthier (and tastier) than eating out as long as you pack the right things. I discovered early on in our marriage that the best way to ensure that we each had delicious, filling lunches that would rival anything at a restaurant was to spend some time in advance doing some lunch preparation. So I started spending an hour or so every Sunday after church prepping our lunchtime vegetables and making a grab-and-go main course option. Then, every week night while we’re cooking dinner or cleaning up, we assemble our lunches for the next day. Having components in the fridge ready to go makes it a snap!

Pasta salads are one of my top choices for packed lunches as they are good served hot or cold, are customizable, and can be quite filling depending on the ingredients. I love that I can make a big batch to eat from throughout the week. This Greek-inspired dish was born out of the need to finish some random ingredients taking up space in my fridge such as a jar of sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives that I used in a recent dinner, Pantry Pasta for Two. Each bite is a little different, and the sweet tang of lemon and tomatoes coupled with the bite of olives and the rich flavor of feta cheese is incredible. You’ll have to try it to believe it, but one bite and you’ll be hooked. It’s like a trip to the Greek Isles without every leaving your lunchbox! Not that I’ve ever been… (hint, hint husband!) I’m not sure this is a super kid-friendly dish depending on picky eaters’ palates, but I think it’d be great for girls’ lunches or family gatherings. Enjoy!
three years ago: The Best Panini Ever
four years ago: Maple Pecan Pear Scones

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print
adapted from Allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup orzo pasta, uncooked (or any small pasta)
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used the oil that my tomatoes were packed in for extra flava!)
  • zest of 1 large lemon (maybe a couple tablespoons?)
  • juice of 1 large lemon (perhaps 1/4-1/3 cup?)
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/3 cup spinach leaves, torn and packed
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pasta water, reserved
Directions:
Prepare orzo according to package directions. Before draining, be sure to reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. If you’re like me and don’t have a fine strainer, place a (unused) coffee filter inside your regular strainer. Then drain your pasta carefully so as not to tear the coffee filter and spoon the pasta into a medium bowl. Immediately stir in sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, olives, lemon zest, spinach, and parsley. Mix gently to combine, then add lemon juice. Add feta cheese after a minute or so to let the pasta cool off (unless you don’t mind melted feta cheese). If needed, incorporate a little pasta water to make sure everything is fully coated, especially if you’ll be storing the salad for more than a day, as the sauce tends to be absorbed by the noodles over time. I used about 2-3 teaspoons of water. Season with black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Guys, I gotta get going on my 30 before 30 list! My 20s are creeping away and this list isn’t getting any shorter. Yikes! But I must admit that it makes me feel pretty good when people who don’t know me at my university think I’m a student even though I’m a faculty librarian, and that one of my coworkers thought I was about 25 until I told her I was 29. Woohoo! But anyways. 30 before 30. Cookies. Let’s get to the point here. :)

Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies | thepajamachef.com

I put sandwich cookies as one of my 30 before 30 goals because I can sometimes be a lazy baker. I love baking, don’t get me wrong. But it’s the extra steps in recipes that I often avoid. [The steps sometimes and the entire recipe itself at other times. Just depends!] Chilling the dough, making a glaze, making brown butter, etc. Sometimes those steps just seem a bit nonsensical especially when they’re coming from food bloggers who come across as a little too authoritative and bossy. [Yup, I said it. I hope I don't sound that way to any of you!] There’s nothing that irks me more than extra steps that aren’t always necessary. I know that sometimes they are, but do you know what I mean? Let’s discuss, and I’ll try not to rant. I often skip glazes for muffins/quick breads because they really aren’t necessary and because we can’t eat the recipe fast enough so the glaze gets a bit yucky. And it seems like every single cookie recipe nowadays in the blog world asks you to chill the dough for 2 hours or overnight. Who has time for that? Not me! A quick 30 minute trip to the fridge works, but if you aren’t at home baking all day most people don’t have time for that on a weeknight when you just want some cookies!! And brown butter. Don’t get me started. Like salted desserts, it’s just a trend. A trend that I hate. Ehhh, maybe it takes the taste of butter up a notch but I’m not a big fan. For me, in the blog world, these steps amplify my annoyance when bloggers rail against the lazy [hello!] who want to skip the steps and thus [to the blogger] will ruin the recipe. Not true, my friends! The cookies may not be as soft, the bread may not be as sweet, the butter flavor may not be as nutty. But what you make will still be good. </endrant>

Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies | thepajamachef.com

But whatev. People are entitled to their passions. Some things about the “professional” food bloggers just tick me off! [And I can go on, but I'll stop now. I'm sure they're nice people in real life!] Sandwich cookies. I’m getting a bit ADD today, obviously. Sandwich cookies sound good in theory but I’m often too lazy to make them. When I put them on my list, I envisioned making homemade Oreos or some kind of chocolate peanut butter goodness. When I saw these Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, I knew I had to try them. And I’m so glad I did, even if they were a ton of work.

Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies | thepajamachef.com

Go back and reread that paragraph about my complaints against baking and bloggers who say you have to do xyz or your recipe will be ruined!!! Oh so dramatic. This recipe, ironically, is finicky. The peanut butter cookies aren’t your traditional easy recipe. They’re crumbly and have almost a shortbread texture. But they are super peanut buttery which totally makes up for the crumbly mess of dough you’ll have, and the fact that you have to bake them one sheet at a time because putting them on the bottom rack of the oven will burn them faster than you can say peanut butter. Ha. It’s true! If you want, you can skip this peanut butter cookie recipe and use your favorite. Just make them smaller than usual because mini sandwich cookies are so cute and pop-able.

Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies | thepajamachef.com

Those shortbread-y peanut butter cookies are filled with a divine homemade dulce de leche!! Alas, it is a bit finicky too, but just time-wise. All you have to do is cook sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler [mine is homemade], stirring occasionally for an hour to two hours. It’s easy enough to do when you’re home reading or watching tv or doing whatever else, so long as you can head to the kitchen every 15 minutes or so to stir it up. I know there are lots of ways to make dulce de leche [here's a summary] but this is the only one I’ve tried. Making it in the can scares me. No matter how you make it, the resulting sweet, syrupy, caramely filling is the perfect center for crunchy peanut butter cookies. They look impressive and taste amazing. I’m sure they’ll be a bit at your next party!

three years ago: Chorizo and Potato Tacos
four years ago: Mango Chicken Curry

Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

  • Servings: 30 cookie sandwiches
  • Time: 3 hrs
  • Print

from Jun-blog

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk [14 ounce can]

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together with a wooden spoon. A mixer can also be used. Then add egg, peanut butter, and vanilla and vigorously mix together until well combined. Add the flour mixture in 1/4 cup increments until combined. Dough will be crumbly and should just hold together.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on a ungreased and cool cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with a fork: first in one direction, then the perpendicular direction to form a crisscross pattern.

Bake one cookie sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes or until just golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool. Allow the cookie sheet to cool to the touch before adding more cookie dough to it. Keep dough refrigerated between batches. Dough should yield approximately 60 small one inch cookies.

While cookies are baking, prepare dulce de leche. Pour sweetened condensed milk into the bowl of a double boiler. I used a homemade one. Basically, you’ll need a large metal or glass bowl that can sit on top of a pot of simmering water without touching the water. This bowl should seal the pot so no steam escapes, because the steam is what causes the cooking effect. For more details, see this tutorial. After sweetened condensed milk is in the bowl, heat double boiler to a simmer and cook for 1-2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so. The longer the milk cooks, the thicker it gets as it caramelizes. The milk turns to dulce de leche as it gets to be a darker, golden brown color. The original recipe says to only cook for an hour but mine was nowhere near done by then. It took a good two hours. Cover and refrigerate dulce de leche until completely cooled–I just refrigerated this overnight. A good test for telling when dulce de leche is done is to stick a small plate in the freezer after about an hour of cooking. Remove plate from freezer. Carefully spoon a teaspoon of dulce de leche onto the cold plate and then return to freezer. In five minutes, check the consistency of the dulce de leche. If it’s what you like, great! If not, keep cookin’.

When cookies and dulce de leche are completely cooled, match cookies up by size. Spoon just under a tablespoon of dulce de leche on the flat part of one cookie, then cover with another cookie. Place on a single layer on a serving plate or cookie sheet and refrigerate until set. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Menu Plan

Menu Plan | thepajamachef.com

Week of August 18

Monday: work event
Tuesday: Mexican cornbread pot pie [that I didn't make last week]
Wednesday: turkey burgers
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: out to eat
Saturday: wedding :)
Sunday: something easy…typical Sunday fare [roasted chicken, frittata, breakfast for dinner, etc.]