Book Review: A Love Like Ours

Finally! Another book review featuring a book from one of my favorite authors, Becky Wade. I’ve reviewed her others books on the blog before–My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, and Meant to Be Mine. Her first novel is a standalone book, but the last three, A Love Like Ours included, are part of the Porter Family Series. I would want to be part of the Porter family if I wasn’t part of my family, so I was thrilled to read and review the latest tale of this great family.

A Love LIke Ours - a book review on thepajamachef.com

First, the description of the book from the publisher:

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

My five point review:

  • Finally! If you’ve read any of the other Porter Family novels, you’ve heard about Jake. Now we finally get to meet him. And meet him we do. Jake is a man with a past, deeply affected by his military service and subsequent struggles with PTSD. I was super impressed with how Becky Wade handled this seriously, sensitively, and thoughtfully. She was very respectful but also thorough in sharing Jake’s struggles, especially through flashbacks. Some talented writing there.
  • Moving onto the female lead… Lyndie! She’s as sweet as can be, but don’t worry. She isn’t sugary sweet to the point of ridiculousness, but rather, relatable and strong, with enough tough life situations of her own to keep her normal. Lyndie is the caretaker of her family, thrust into that role as she grew up with a sister with cystic fibrosis.
  • Though I don’t know anything about horse racing, reading about life on a horse farm, life at the racetrack, and Silver Leaf was awesome. I took horseback riding lessons for a couple years, so I’m no stranger to horses, though I haven’t ridden for a few years. This was just such a unique setting for a romance novel. I love it! The sense of place was incredible.
  • There was one element of this novel that I didn’t like. Though I can’t get into it too much without spoiling the story, I was disappointed in the ending. Though relationships do require sacrifice I wasn’t impressed with this level of sacrifice. I didn’t think it was truly necessary. Despite that, the romance was believable, fun, and cute. Jake + Lyndie 4eva!! Ha ha ha! :)
  • Overall though, I loved this book. I constantly was laughing and wishing I was part of this sweet little world. Becky Wade has a magical way with words. If you like to read, you’ll love this book!

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!

SRC: Iced Coconut Mocha

Creamy coconut meets an iced mocha for a delightful summer treat… plus this drink is made with a SECRET INGREDIENT. Ooooh! What more can you ask for?!
Iced Coconut Mocha from thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclub

Iced coffee is my drink of choice in the summer. I LOVE making a batch of cold brew coffee to have a special treat in the afternoons [my simple method: make a pot of french press coffee as usual, same ratio of coffee to water, but use cold water. Place in the fridge or on countertop overnight to brew for at least 12 hours, up to 24. Press as usual, then store in the fridge.]. Lately I’ve been enjoying my coffee with half and half and some mint simple syrup. But I love ANYTHING coconut so when I saw this iced coconut mocha on Happy Go Lucky, my blog assignment for this month’s edition of Secret Recipe Club, I was awestruck. Mmm! Kara has a great blog full of awesome DIY projects and yummy recipes–like this BLT chicken salad, s’mores brownies, or Hawaiian grilled cheese. Kara lives with her family in Virginia Beach, a city that holds special memories since Ben and I got engaged there when I spent the summer on the beach with Cru for a summer project in 2008. I loved checking out Kara’s blog–so much goodness there!

Iced Coconut Mocha from thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclubSince you’re dying to know, the secret ingredient in this iced coconut mocha is a coconut POPSICLE! How genius is that?!? I meant to buy some at the grocery store to make this coffee drink, but I forgot… so I made my own. :) Ha! And guess what? They worked perfectly! You can make this drink in several ways–hot coffee with cold popsicle, cold brew coffee with leftover coconut popsicle “batter,” or blending it all together, frappe style. No matter how you mix it, this drink is a fabulous pick-me-up… It’s sweet and creamy, with lots of chocolate and coconut flavor. No need to go to the coffee shop when you have this in your repertoire.

Iced Coconut Mocha from thepajamachef.com #secretrecipeclub

I will be making this mocha ALL summer long. Thanks, Kara!

one year ago: Mango Coconut Muffins
two years ago: Double Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes
three years ago: Banana Crumb Muffins
four years ago: Creamy Taco Mac

Iced Coconut Mocha

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 5 minutes
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from Happy Go Lucky

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee – hot or cold
  • 1 coconut popsicle – storebought or homemade
  • chocolate syrup
  • sugar, to taste
  • whipped cream
  • toasted coconut
  • ice cubes- made with coffee, if you can!

Directions:

There are three ways to make this delicious drink!

Method 1, from Kara: brew coffee. Place about 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup in the bottom of a glass, then top with 8 ounces hot coffee. Sweeten to taste, then add 1 popsicle. It will melt and cool down the drink. Stir then add ice. Top with whipped cream, more chocolate syrup, and toasted coconut.

Method 2, I made homemade coconut popsicles from the link above [1 can coconut milk + 1/3 cup coconut flakes + 1/2 tablespoon agave, pulsed in a blender, then frozen in popsicle molds.] I had about 1/2 cup coconut milk mixture left so I added 1/2 cup coconut milk mixture to a jar with 1 cup cold brew coffee and 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup, then shook it all up and poured into a glass. Add ice, then top with whipped cream, more chocolate syrup, and toasted coconut.

Method 3, that I haven’t tried but seems like it would work. Place 1 cup coffee [cooled a bit if not using cold brew] in a blender with ice, the coconut popsicle, and 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup. Pulse until combined, then top with whipped cream, more chocolate syrup, and toasted coconut.

Enjoy!

Check out more recipes from other members of the Secret Recipe Club below!

Peach Cobbler Scones

These Peach Cobbler Scones are flaky and tender… the epitome of summer, with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top. :)

Peach Cobbler Scones | thepajamachef.comYes, I know that says Peach Shortbread Scones. They are really Peach Cobbler Scones. Details, details… the DETAIL that is important is how excellent these scones are, no matter what they are called. :) To say that I loved these scones is an absolute understatement. I LOVED these scones. Sorry for shouting, it’s true though.

Peach Cobbler Scones | thepajamachef.comI made these scones at the tail end of summer last year, with the last of the impossibly delicious and super fresh Georgia peaches that come into Nashville by the truckload. I don’t think I’ve had a bad peach since moving south. But a bad apple? By the dozen, unfortunately. But this isn’t apple season… it’s peach season! So let’s celebrate with these scones. :) I waited patiently to share them with you, but now I’ll have to make another batch with the first peaches of the year.

Peach Cobbler Scones | thepajamachef.comThese scones are such a treat, and a wonderful way to enjoy fresh peaches. Normally fruit scones can be difficult to work with because the juices soak into the pastry dough, but this time the fruit is layered between the dough, cobbler style. Hence the name, ha. The dough bakes up around the peaches, creating a delicious pillowy effect. A dusting of cinnamon sugar completes these tasty treats. When you make them, be sure to use good peaches. There’s not much added sugar so the sweetness is totally fruit-driven. Enjoy!

one year ago: Tabbouleh
two years ago: Italian Chicken & Veggie Couscous Bowls
three years ago: Orange-Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry
four years ago: Strawberry Chocolate Coconut Pancakes

Peach Cobbler Scones

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 45 minutes
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from Tracy’s Culinary Adventures

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk + extra for brushing
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 ripe peaches, thinly sliced – can leave skin on or peel it off
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs [butter pieces shouldn’t be larger than a pea]. In a measuring cup or small bowl, use a fork to beat together thee egg, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and use a fork to gently mix until dough comes together.

Turn dough out onto a floured countertop. Gently knead a few times to bring dough together, then press into a 12×10 inch rectangle. Brush the long half of the dough with buttermilk, then place peach slices in a single layer over the buttermilk-brushed dough. Fold the opposite side of the dough and place on top of peaches to cover completely, then press edges gently to close.

Refrigerate scones for at least 20 minutes if they are soft, then combine sugar and cinnamon. Brush top of scones with buttermilk and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until golden brown and the edges don’t appear wet/gooey. Cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Unbaked scones can be frozen until ready to bake, just add a few minutes to baking time. Scones are best within two days of baking, but refrigerate any leftovers and they’ll last a little longer. :)

#HotSummerEats: Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad, Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas, and Some Reviews!

Today is the last day of #HotSummerEats! And because Ben and I spent the day painting our kitchen instead of blogging, I didn’t get part of this post up for Sunday like I planned. So to celebrate Monday, I have not just one but TWO recipes for you, plus reviews of other products from our wonderful #HotSummerEats sponsors. Ready? Let’s go!

Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad for #HotSummerEats | thepajamachef.com

Inside door number one we have this fabulous lentil and couscous salad! I love having recipes like this on hand to make that I can grab out of the fridge for lunches at work all week long. It’s truthfully been awhile since I’ve cooked couscous and when I first tasted this salad yesterday I wondered why the hiatus? Israeli couscous is so good!! It’s almost pasta, but not quite, so it pairs so well with lentils and any other veggies you want to throw in. This time, I used red and yellow bell peppers and some sun-dried tomatoes. Normally when I make salads like this, I make a vinaigrette as the sauce, but this time I took the easy way out and used this Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Out of the Weeds. You can WIN this in our #HotSummerEats giveaway, but you gotta act fast since it ends today! I don’t usually buy salad dressings because vinaigrettes are super easy to make, but sometimes it’s nice to let someone else do the work for you… especially when they use normal ingredients that you’d find in your pantry too! This vinaigrette is so fresh and adds a fun, light tomato flair to my lentil and couscous salad. If you can’t get this vinaigrette locally [or can’t wait until your online order arrives], you can use your favorite vinaigrette instead. :) I’m so glad I got to try this Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette! It’s flavorful, fresh, and perfect for anything from salads to meat marinades. Amazing!

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas for #HotSummerEats | thepajamachef.com

The next recipe I have to share with you involves black beans, barbecue sauce, and cheese. Now, that combo might seem a little weird. I mean… black beans and cheese I get, but barbecue sauce and black beans? Barbecue sauce and cheese? Just try it! It’s so good! But first the back story. Whenever I get home late from work or Bible study or anywhere really and need some dinner, quesadillas are my go-to… one of two kinds. Banana, peanut butter, and chocolate [arguably NOT the healthiest choice, I know… but delicious!] or black beans and cheese. I always have those ingredients on hand so it’s easy, filling, and delicious. Usually to season my bean and cheese quesadilla, I turn to salsa or taco seasoning. But since I live in Nashville and see people put barbecue sauce on anything and everything, I wondered how it would taste on beans. Like baked beans, kinda. Even though I don’t like baked beans…

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas for #HotSummerEats | thepajamachef.com

I received Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce from Voodoo Chef for #HotSummerEats and decided to try it out on a recent weeknight. Man! The barbecue sauce/black bean combo is great! It’s just like chicken, except not. Haha, I’m so eloquent right now. But really, this barbecue sauce is wonderful. It’s mustard based–sweet and tangy, with just a pinch of heat. I could eat that stuff by the spoonful, it’s that good. Just like I said with the vinaigrette, you SHOULD get it [or win it I hope!] but if you can’t feel free to sub regular barbecue sauce + mustard to make this quesadilla. This combo is where it’s at! :)

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.comMan, I’ve already shared two great recipes. But now I have a few product reviews for you so keep on reading. :) I got to try Caribeque‘s Island Thyme spice rub. Ben was cooking the night we tried it, and he rubbed it on a pork tenderloin, then added some olive oil and panko bread crumbs and baked it until it was cooked through. WOW was this good! Seriously the best pork I’ve ever had. If it wasn’t raining I would have gotten some better pictures.

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.com

The Island Thyme was tangy and full of lots of herbs. It had a little kick but not too much… made me feel like I was at a Caribbean restaurant instead of my own kitchen. :) I think it would also be wonderful on some roasted veggies. :) We enjoyed some dill and butter green beans and some sweet potato fries with the pork. I dipped my sweet potato fries in my new favorite ketchup… Chai Curry Chup by Intensity Academy. I know chai seasoning + ketchup + curry sounds weird, but it’s a totally addictive blend of sweet and hot and normal ketchup. It’s very hard to describe but it’s the best thing ever. Seriously the best product I tried as part of #HotSummerEats. Everything was good but this was phenomenal! On burger night a few weeks ago, I mixed the Chai Curry Chup with mayo as a burger topping and that was great too.

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.com

Last but not least I want to tell you about the unique line of salad dressings from T.Lish. So far I have only sampled one of the three I was sent, and I want to eat salad for every meal just to enjoy the sweet garlic dressing!

#HotSummerEats reviews on thepajamachef.com

This dressing tastes like something I’d make in my own kitchen–no preservatives, nothing fake. It’s just a really good salad dressing made with quality ingredients. Some of the other #HotSummerEats bloggers have used these dressings for pasta salad or marinades–find all the recipes here! I have plans to use the Asian Sesame in stir fry but it just hasn’t happened yet. Will report back when it does! :) My only complaint with this salad dressing is that it makes a mess when pouring it. Maybe we just got a bad bottle, but it did spill down the side quite a bit. That happens with my own dressings too, so no worries!

If you made it this far, you deserve a reward… so here are the recipes! :) :) Ha! Enjoy! Thanks for reading along with #HotSummerEats and thanks to Camilla for organizing and hosting this great event. Most of all, thank you to all our sponsors! You have helped make the event spicy, flavorful, and fun! I always LOVE getting to try new foods and finding new companies to support [and enjoy]. Hope you enjoyed it as well and be sure to enter the giveaway now!

Sun-Dried Lentil and Couscous Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 1/2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers, diced small
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced small [drained if water/oil packed]
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, chopped [I used dill, rosemary, and lemon thyme]
  • 1/3 cup Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Out of the Weeds [or another salad dressing of choice, or a mixture of pureed tomatoes, oil, vinegar, and herbs]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, then add lentils and cook for 10 minutes. Add couscous and cook another 10 minutes or so, until lentils are cooked through–soft but not mushy, and couscous is cooked to al dente. Drain lentils and couscous and place in a medium bowl. Toss with peppers, tomatoes, and herbs. Drizzle vinaigrette over top, tossing until combined. Season with pepper and serve with Parmesan.

Barbecue Black Bean Quesadillas

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1/4 cup bell peppers, diced small
  • 1/4 cup Southern Gold Barbecue Sauce from Voodoo Chef [or 2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue sauce + 1 tablespoon of your favorite mustard]

Directions:

Heat a large skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray or grease with butter, then place one tortilla on the pan. Add half the cheese and allow to melt.

In a small bowl, stir together black beans, bell peppers, and barbecue sauce. Heat until warm in the microwave, about 45 seconds. Add half of mixture on top of cheese–just one side of the tortilla for easy folding.

When cheese has melted and tortilla is crispy to your liking, fold and transfer to plate. Repeat with additional ingredients, then serve, sliced, with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.

Check out other #HotSummerEats recipes at the link below:

Disclaimer: Thank you to Caribeque, Intensity Academy, Out of the Weeds, T.Lish, and Voodoo Chef for providing samples and product to use for#HotSummerEats recipes without additional compensation. I was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. Please check out Caribeque on Facebook here or here, Twitter, and Instagram here and here to learn more. Please check out Intensity Academy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out Out of the Weeds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out T.Lish on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn more. Please check out Voodoo Chef on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.