Book Review: The River

Bethany House’s book review program is great. I love that it gives me the opportunity to read books that I normally wouldn’t choose on my own, like The River by Beverly Lewis. I hope you check it out!

The River by Beverly Lewis, reviewed by thepajamachef.com
Here’s a description of the book from the publisher:

She looked once more at the dreaded river. Since Anna’s death, it had been such a barrier…a place and a moment she could not seem to move past.

A line I can’t move beyond…

The River

Tilly and Ruth, two formerly Amish sisters, are plagued by unresolved relationships when they reluctantly return to Lancaster County for their parents’ landmark wedding anniversary. Since departing their Plain upbringing, Tilly has married an Englisher, but Ruth remains single and hasn’t entirely forgotten her failed courtship with her Amish beau.

Past meets present as Tilly and Ruth yearn for acceptance and redemption. Can they face the future in the light of a past they can’t undo?

My five point review as usual:

  • I know in the fiction world, the Christian fiction world especially, Amish novels get a bad rap. I know they aren’t REALLY representative of the Amish and I know they can pile on the cheese quite high at times, but I can’t help but like them. They’re great “escape” novels, for real. So why did I say that I probably wouldn’t have read this novel on my own? Well, because the author has written SO MANY novels… over 90, in fact. She’s an established author and has a lot of series, and sometimes with those sort of authors I get overwhelmed and lazy and don’t want to figure out where to start. Or I want to find THE BEST novel/series to start with and just get bogged down. But this standalone novel is totally worth the voyage to a new [to me] author and has encouraged me to seek out more of her work.
  • The best word I could come up with to describe this book is bittersweet. There’s so much love, yet so much tension in this family. So much good, yet so much bad. Isn’t that true of most/many families? The family is the main focus in this novel, and this family’s story is oh so bittersweet. So if you go into this novel looking for a happy-go-lucky novel with a bit of drama, change your expectations and then start reading. You’ll be sure to enjoy it.
  • I thought it was interesting that the story took place in 1977. It seems like most Amish novels are either timeless or present-day, so that was different. But since the author was so specific about when the story was set, I think it would have been helpful to have more dates in the story because it seemed a bit unrealistic all that took place over a period of a few weeks/months. Not a huge deal, but still worth mentioning.
  • The theme of forgiveness was quite prevalent throughout the story… and played a role in almost every character’s relationships with each other. The complex [and often conflict-filled] relationships were handled well, something that could have easily been confusing wasn’t.
  • Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It handled tough subjects tastefully, was well written, and was engaging. I could hardly put it down! I liked that the ending wasn’t [too] predictable. :)

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

#PumpkinWeek: Pumpkin Biscotti

Crunchy, pumpkin spiced biscotti make a crisp fall morning extra special!

Pumpkin Biscotti | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

I first started drinking coffee eight years ago in a little corner café in Nice with ornate velvet chairs, marble tables, and the most divine pastries you have ever seen in your life. Iiiiii know. It’s as idyllic as it sounds–this is France we’re talking about, after all. The cafés in Paris did not even BEGIN to compare. This little spot is a slice of heaven on earth. I remember luxurious mornings on that summer project with Cru, sitting and reading and talking in that café with a big green awning, wishing that summer would never ever end. But it did, and I came home, and US coffee is nothing like that strong French brew, especially when said brew is layered with cream and thick caramel. Mmmmmm! I gradually journeyed from occasional fancy, caramel-y coffee drinks to an everyday coffee habit with a constant rotation of Paramount Coffee in our cupboard [no sponsor or anything, we just really like their coffee]. One thing I never understood was biscotti.

Pumpkin Biscotti | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

The concept of biscotti–cookies at breakfast–totally makes sense. But a hard cookie? That you dip in coffee? Well, that just sounds weird. I’ve never been a dip-my-Oreos-in-my-milk kinda girl. Crumbs=gross. The only biscotti I’ve ever had just was… boring and tasteless. And let’s face it–I probably tried to bite into it without enough dunking. Ooops?

Pumpkin Biscotti | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

There’s nothing gross or boring or tasteless about these biscotti! They’re full of real pumpkin, lots of pumpkin spice, and a healthy coating of white chocolate on top. These biscotti taste so good you’ll forget it’s just a normal morning at home, and instead think you’re lounging in a fancy French coffee shop! If only. :)

Pumpkin Biscotti | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

Though I made these biscotti for #PumpkinWeek [it ends tomorrow! Tear!] they also fulfill one of my 30 before 30 goals. Yay! Thanks to Terri from Love and Confections for hosting. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections’ #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

one year ago: Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal Cookies
two years ago: 30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup
three years ago: Pumpkin Biscuits
four years ago: Maize and Blue Cupcakes

Pumpkin Biscotti

  • Servings: 24
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Print

from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter – optional
  • 1 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped – optional
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate
  • 1/2 tablespoon canola oil

Directions:

If using nuts, melt butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add nuts and stir to coat. Cook nuts, stirring constantly, until they brown. Remove from heat and cool completely before proceeding.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

With a mixer, beat together eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla until the mixture thickens. With mixer on low, slowly add flour, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice. Dough will be thick so just mix it in a little with the mixer and then finish up by hand. If using nuts, fold in at the end. Dough will be crumbly.

Divide the dough in half, then shape each half into a 3×10 inch log. Place on prepared baking sheet, then wet hands and smooth logs if necessary.

Bake until the logs are slightly firm to the touch, about 25-30 minutes. I found that without nuts, my logs didn’t firm up at all until about 35-40 minutes, but they do firm up more as they cool so go with your instincts. Cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes, then remove to a cutting board and slice with a serrated bread knife. I got about 12 slices by cutting my pieces about 1/2-3/4 inch thick.

Return cookies to baking sheets, cut sides up. Place in a single layer and bake until firm, about 20 minutes, flipping halfway. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Once biscotti have cooled, melt white chocolate and oil together in a microwave safe bowl, heating on 50% power in 30 second bursts, stirring in between to melt. Drizzle, brush, or dip with white chocolate.

Store biscotti in airtight container. It’s best within the first four days, but will keep for 3-4 weeks.

Linked up with: Weekend Potluck.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

Check out all the #PumpkinWeek Bloggers and their recipes:
Pumpkin Pie Chia Granola by Love and Confections
Meatloaf-Stuffed Mini Pumpkins by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
White Chocolate Reeses Pumpkin Blondies by The Spiffy Cookie
Pumpkin and Corn Chowder by Curious Cuisiniere
Buttermilk Pumpkin Pancakes by Life Tastes Good
Pumpkin Spice Cookie Blossoms by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Curried Roasted Pumpkin Hummus by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Praline Frosted Pumpkin Brownies by My Catholic Kitchen
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter by Making Miracles
Pumpkin Biscotti by The Pajama Chef
White Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake by Dizzy Busy and Hungry

#PumpkinWeek: Pumpkin Quinoa Oatmeal Bake

Pumpkin oatmeal meets quinoa in this hearty, healthy baked breakfast dish!

Pumpkin Quinoa Oatmeal Bake | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

Welcome back to#PumpkinWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections. We are celebrating our love of the season with a whole week of pumpkin goodies, leading up to National Pumpkin Day on October 26th. This week, 17 food bloggers are sharing tons of yummy recipes, both sweet and savory. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections’ #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board. Today I have a delicious breakfast to share with you. Baked oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts, and in the fall, this Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal is one of my go-to choices. But you know me… I always want to try something new! And this something new is definitely a good thing! :)

Pumpkin Quinoa Oatmeal Bake | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

For awhile now, I’ve seen recipes using quinoa, barley, or farro as a pseudo-oatmeal. I’ve gotta admit though–while those recipes SOUND good, they also seem a little scary. Old breakfast habits die hard, I suppose. To ease my way into this breakfast madness, I decided to combine quinoa with oatmeal in a baked breakfast dish. I added tons of pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree to make this dish seasonally appropriate. It was such a hardship, let me tell you. Ha. Not at all!

Pumpkin Quinoa Oatmeal Bake | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

I should have known to always trust quinoa. And pumpkin. :) This breakfast was so great! I enjoyed it a few ways–warm with cinnamon as pictured above, warm in a bowl with some Greek yogurt and maple syrup, and warm in a bowl with almond milk and some maple syrup and dried fruit. The bake is also hearty enough to just be cut and served at room temperature. I think it could be excellent with some peanut butter or even pumpkin butter spread on top. Mmmm! I’ll have to make it again soon. I always get good serving ideas after everything’s all gone. :) Enjoy!

Pumpkin Quinoa Oatmeal Bake | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

two years ago: Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chile Sour Cream Sauce
three years ago: Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
four years ago: Oatmeal Scones

Pumpkin Quinoa Oatmeal Bake

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Print

adapted from my baked oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups almond milk + more for serving
  • Greek yogurt, for serving

Directions:

In a small saucepan, cook 1/2 cup quinoa in 1 cup water according to package directions. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10 inch round casserole dish [a pie plate or square baking dish will work too, but cooking time may vary].

Meanwhile, whisk together oil, pumpkin, maple syrup, and egg. Fold in oats, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice. When quinoa has cooled down, add quinoa, vanilla, and milk, stirring to combine.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth out if necessary. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until firm and golden brown.

Serve warm with almond milk or Greek yogurt, plus additional sweetener/dried fruits/nuts if desired.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

Check out all the #PumpkinWeek Bloggers and their recipes:

Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese Truffles by Love and Confections

Pumpkin-Vanilla Bean Madeleines by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

White Chocolate Drizzled Pumpkin Scones by That Skinny Chick Can Bake

S’mores Pumpkin Pie by The Spiffy Cookie

Homemade Pumpkin Puree by Happy Food Healthy Life

Pumpkin Mole by Curious Cuisiniere

Drunken Pumpkin Seeds by Life Tastes Good

Pumpkin Roll by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Pumpkin Lasagna by My Catholic Kitchen

Cinnamon Pumpkin Bread by Making Miracles

Pumpkin Quinoa Oatmeal Bake by The Pajama Chef

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Pancakes by Dizzy Busy and Hungry

#PumpkinWeek: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are the perfect fall cookie! They’re chewy and full of pumpkin and chocolate goodness! 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

This week I’m participating in a fun event–#PumpkinWeek, hosted by Terri of Love & Confections so we can celebrate all things pumpkin in anticipation of National Pumpkin Day on October 26th! During this week, 17 food bloggers have come together to share over 65 recipes with you. In addition to homemade pumpkin puree, pie, and cookies, we are also sharing savory pumpkin dishes like hummus, chili and pumpkin corn chowder. Come back every day for #PumpkinWeek recipes. You can also find these great recipes and more on Love and Confections’ #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board! I’ll be back a couple more times this week with more pumpkin deliciousness, but first let’s enjoy these cookies, okay?!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeek

I love cookies. I love pumpkin. But for the most part, I don’t like pumpkin cookies. See, cakey cookies aren’t my thing. I’m just not a fan. When you add lots of pumpkin puree to regular cookie dough, they get cakey. Superrrr cakey. When I saw that this recipe didn’t include other cake-inducing ingredients like eggs and butter, but used coconut oil instead, I was intrigued. And guess what? I loved ‘em! Absolutely LOVED them. These cookies have the best chewy texture and pack a huge pumpkin [and pumpkin spice] punch. But that’s not all! To temper that spice, there aren’t just one, but TWO kinds of chocolate chips in there–dark and semi sweet in mini form. Yum!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies | thepajamachef.com #PumpkinWeekThese cookies are so little and poppable that they are absolutely addictive! I can’t wait to make a second batch myself. :) Enjoy!

two years ago: Apple Peanut Butter Muffins
three years ago: Pumpkin Spice Mini Muffins
four years ago: Pumpkin Chicken Tacos

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 36 cookies
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Print

from Joyful Healthy Eats

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 5 ounces mini chocolate chips

Directions:

In a stand mixer, beat together coconut oil, brown sugar, and vanilla. Mix until smooth, then add pumpkin and mix again. Add flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until combined, then fold in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate dough for 60 minutes.

Just before that time ends, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1 tablespoon size balls, pressing down gently on the tops to form a mound.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until light brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Check out all the #PumpkinWeek Bloggers and their recipes:

Pumpkin Loaf by Love and Confections

Lemongrass-Kissed Sankaya (Thai Pumpkin Custard) by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting by That Skinny Chick Can Bake

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Biscoff Frosting by The Spiffy Cookie

Pumpkin Peach Smoothie by Happy Food Healthy Life

Egg and Pumpkin Breakfast Cups by Curious Cuisiniere

Witches Eye Glass Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes by Lady Behind The Curtain

Easy Homemade Pumpkin Puree by Life Tastes Good

Pumpkin Orange Soup by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen

Macaroni with Kale and Creamy Pumpkin Sauce by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Roasted Pumpkin and Chickpea Samosas by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter by My Catholic Kitchen

Pumpkin Scones by Making Miracles

Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by The Pajama Chef

Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oatmeal by Dizzy Busy and Hungry