Book Review: Until the Dawn

I’m back with another book review! This time, I have another great read from fellow librarian and author Elizabeth Camden. One of her newest releases, Until the Dawn, is just great! Read on to learn more.🙂

Until the Dawn - a book review on thepajamachef.com

A description of the book from the publisher:

Fascinated by Dierenpark, an abandoned mansion high atop a windswept cliff in the Hudson River Valley, Sophie van Riijn sees no harm in setting up a rooftop weather station for her work with the newly established Weather Bureau. While the villagers are suspicious of the mysterious estate and its tragic history, Sophie has come to see it as her own enchanted piece of paradise.

The first Vandermark to return to the area in sixty years, Quentin intends to put an end to the shadowy rumors about the property that has brought nothing but trouble upon his family. Ready to tear down the mansion, he is furious to discover Sophie trespassing on his land.

Instantly at odds, Quentin and Sophie yet find common ground when she is the only one who can reach his troubled son. There’s a light within Sophie that Quentin has never known, and a small spark of the hope that left him years ago begins to grow. But when the secrets of Dierenpark can no longer be kept in the past, will tragedy triumph or can their tenuous hope prevail?

As usual, my five point review:

  • The premise of this book stems from the history of the Dutch settlement of New York, a portion of history that I was not very familiar with prior to reading this book. As always, one aspect of Camden’s writing that I appreciate is her ability to introduce a new part of American history. It was also interesting to learn about the early days of the Weather Bureau. I kept finding myself consulting the internet to learn more about these topics.🙂 Always a sign of a good story!
  • I also really enjoyed the house at the center of the story. Dierenpark, as the description of the book mentions, has a sad history and at the beginning of the story, balances from being forgotten to being a tourist trap. The house and estate are truly a character in the story and play an active role in the plot. I love when authors make homes a key role in the story!
  • The mysteries surrounding the house, Quentin’s past, and Sophie’s optimism despite sadness in her life are all unraveled well throughout the plot. The major mystery, of course, is the history of the house and why it has been virtually forgotten by the family for so long. The ending is unique and full of several unexpected twists and turns. I won’t give any spoilers but the ending was great!
  • The characters, as usual from this author, were great. They were not predictable [even though the romance, as it was, did have some predictability]. They were also, even for the minor characters like household help, well crafted and came alive. Very three dimensional.
  • Overall, this is a book that will keep you engaged to the last page. I stayed up wayyy too late reading it–even with a newborn baby to take care of! It really is a great read and one you will be sure to enjoy.

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!

Baked Burritos with Pinto Beans + Kale

These fabulous savory bean and rice burritos are made even more delicious by the addition of hearty kale and gooey Monterey Jack cheese. You’ll be sure to love them–a great family meal!

These fabulous savory bean and rice burritos are made even more delicious by the addition of hearty kale and gooey Monterey Jack cheese. You'll be sure to love them--a great family meal!

Are you ready for a knock-your-socks off vegetarian burrito recipe? If so, you’ve come to the right place! And if not–or if vegetarian fare isn’t your thing–please stay, because I know you’ll enjoy it anyway!🙂 Or you can just add some shredded chicken to the burrito filling. Don’t worry, I’ll be none the wiser. Haha. Now onto the good stuff! These burritos! Mmmm… they are your classic vegetarian burrito–rich and hearty beans and rice… but with a twist! This veggie burrito adds some flavorful and fresh kale to the mix, along with an awesome blend of savory seasonings [garlic, onion, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin] for a fabulous burrito like none other. You will simply be amazed by how good this burrito filling is! Divine!🙂

These fabulous savory bean and rice burritos are made even more delicious by the addition of hearty kale and gooey Monterey Jack cheese. You'll be sure to love them--a great family meal!

Now, I won’t lie. There are quite a few ingredients and steps below for this recipe, and it takes about an hour from start to finish. Obviously I made this pre-baby. Gah. But, it’s still totally doable for a family meal because this is the sort of meal you can make in steps and keep in the fridge [or freezer] to eat all week long. Basically, you begin by making some rice–with garlic and broth instead of water for added yumminess. Then you saute up some onion, add your seasonings and kale, and let that cook down a bit. Then you mix everything together and add cheese and tortillas… bake, and voila! Dinner is served. Yum.

These fabulous savory bean and rice burritos are made even more delicious by the addition of hearty kale and gooey Monterey Jack cheese. You'll be sure to love them--a great family meal!

I mention this in the recipe notes below, but what I wanna emphasize is that this makes a TON of burrito filling, so YAY! Lots of work=lots of meals. Hooray. When I made this for us, we ate burritos a few times during the week, adding the filling to tortillas as desired. Then we froze the rest for another time. America’s Test Kitchen, the author of this recipe in their amazing vegetarian cookbook [go check it out! I borrowed it from my library but I want a copy for home now.] suggests that this serves six. Well, maybe our tortillas were wayyyy smaller, but we got at least 10 burritos, if not MORE out of the recipe as written below. Your mileage may vary, but that’s how it went for us. I definitely loved this dish and so did Ben. I think I’m going to make a batch before I go back to work after Labor Day [tear] for quick weeknight dinners in my new working mama life. Hope y’all enjoy!

one year ago: Zucchini Apple Walnut Muffins
two years ago: Baked Honey Chicken Nuggets with Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce
three years ago: Churro Cheesecake Bars
four years ago: Pesto Potato Salad
five years ago: Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce
six years ago: Summer Mexican Soup

Baked Burritos with Pinto Beans + Kale

  • Servings: 6+
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Print

from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, low sodium
  • 3/4 cup long grain white rice
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced + more for topping if desired
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bunch kale or swiss chard, stemmed and leaves chopped into thin ribbons
  • 1 – 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 6 burrito sized flour tortillas
  • 10 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • sour cream, salsa, etc. – for serving as desired

Directions:

In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine 1 1/4 cups broth, rice, half of the garlic, and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 20 minutes, until rice is tender and broth has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes. Add cilantro and fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add in tomato paste, chipotle chile pepper, cumin, oregano, remaining garlic, and salt and pepper. Stir everything together for a minute, then add kale and 1/2 cup broth. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, until kale has softened.

In a bowl, combine half of the beans and the remaining 1/2 cup broth. Mash with a potato masher until coarse, then fold into kale mixture along with remaining beans and lime juice. Cook, stirring continually, for a few minutes until liquid is mostly evaporated. Stir in rice.

Turn oven on to broil. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Next, assemble burritos. Warm tortillas in the microwave, then divide mixture between tortillas, adding a little cheese inside of each tortilla before rolling into burritos. Place seam-side down on prepared baking sheet, then sprinkle with a little more cheese. Broil until cheese melts and begins to brown, about 3-5 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, etc. as desired.

Notes:

The prepared burrito filling also freezes well, on its own or in pre-made burritos ready for the oven. To heat later, microwave defrosted burrito filling until hot then prepare burritos with cheese and broil as directed above. Pre-made and frozen burritos can be heated from frozen in the oven at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until hot.

The cookbook suggests this recipe serves 6. However, we got at least 10 burritos out of this amount of filling. Our tortillas may have been smaller and/or filled less, so your mileage may vary.

 

Menu Plan

Happy Sunday! Have you had a good weekend? I’ve enjoyed getting to watch the Olympics! I love Olympic season and I must say, having a baby to feed and cuddle gives me a great excuse for plopping in front of the tv to watch as many events as I can. Haha. I think in a couple days I’ll be regretting staying up so late though… but alas, onto the yummy food! One thing I love about doing these group meal plans is that I get to find new recipes too. The breakfast bowls below with quinoa and a fried egg look DIVINE! I know I’ll be making them this week for sure.🙂 Enjoy!

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Monday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Tuesday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Wednesday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Thursday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Friday

  • DAY OFF – Go out to eat or order in!

Saturday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Sunday

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Side Dish

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

Dessert

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

This week’s meal plan was brought you to by:

The Spiffy Cookie | The Pajama Chef | Big Bear’s Wife | The Cooking Actress |

Pies and Plots | Foodtastic Mom

Pin this to your meal planning board for easy access all week long!

Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers! Weekly Meal Plan - lots of great eats for the week ahead via thepajamachef.com and other great bloggers!

 

Book Review: Amish Sweethearts

Happy FriYAY! [Silly saying, but it’s so cute, huh??] Today, courtesy of little man’s naptime [on the floor of the living room next to me–I set him down for a minute when I had to answer the door to sign for a package and he kept sleeping… and who bothers a sleeping baby?!? I just sat down next to him with my first mug of Pumpkin Spice coffee of the year. I just can’t help myself. #ridiculous], I have Amish Sweethearts by Leslie Gould to review for you today as part of the book review program with Bethany House.

Amish Sweethearts - a book review on thepajamachef.com

Here is a description of the book from the publisher:

Best friends and high school sweethearts Zane Beck and Lila Lehman may be neighbors, but they come from different worlds. When Lila’s father arranges an Amish suitor to court her, Zane enlists in the army—unwilling to watch. Although separated by years and distance, their feelings, now hidden, never fade. But will these two ever find a way to be together?

And as usual, my five point review:

  • In general, this book was just okay. It wasn’t great and it wasn’t terrible. If we were breaking up, I’d have to say that it wasn’t you, book, it’s me. Once upon a time I would devour Amish fiction like none other. The premise of this book was interesting so I wanted to read it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my jam and the fact that I hadn’t read the previous book in the series probably contributed to that. On that note, it was well written, and [from what I can tell] well researched as far as details about Afghanistan and the military. There’s definitely an audience for these books and I used to love them. I just prefer to read other things now.🙂
  • At first, I wanted to end my review with the first comment, but after writing a bit I decided to begin with my general thoughts and flesh them out. So for my second point, the premise. Zane is Mennonite, so the fact that he joined the Army isn’t quite the same scandal as if an Amish boy had done so. However, it’s still not totally normal either. It was interesting to consider the experience of someone with that sort of faith background and cultural upbringing in the military so this was a pretty original premise.
  • I haven’t read much of anything by Leslie Gould, but I found her to be a good writer and detailed in her research. As a librarian as I have said before, well researched books are important to me.
  • What bothered me more than anything about this book was the friends-to-lovers storyline. I knew that is what this book was about going into it, but the way the couple’s relationship was portrayed just didn’t seem very authentic to me for some reason and as such, this book didn’t hold my interest well. The love triangle aspect also was a bit off-putting, but again, I knew about that going into the book.
  • Regardless of the fact that this wasn’t my favorite book of all time, I do still think it is worth reading for fans of Amish fiction, this author, and those interested in how faith, relationships, and the military work together. I’m glad I got to read 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!

Awesome Kale Salad

This kale salad is truly awesome. I mean, adding fried eggs and fried potatoes to kale makes it awesome, even if it sounds a little weird at first. You need to try this!

This kale salad is truly awesome. I mean, adding fried eggs and fried potatoes to kale makes it awesome, even if it sounds a little weird at first. You need to try this!

I’ve been making this kale salad pretty much non-stop since last July. Well, non-stop if you count the break from September to March. See, I found out in September that I was pregnant with Baby Volde and so I decided to nix fried eggs until the baby was born. I didn’t obsess over dietary stuff during pregnancy but uncooked eggs [not in cookie dough, mind you] kinda freak me out. But they’re delicious so I push through it for the joy, haha. And when springtime started coming and mama needed a good salad, I decided to live on the wild side and hope fried eggs didn’t make me sick. They didn’t, whew! But I’m not a doctor so if you’re pregnant or otherwise immunocompromised, proceed at your own risk. #disclosureover

Anyway, I love this salad for three reasons: 1) kale; 2) eggs; 3) potatoes. And also for two more: healthy and fried. Total opposites, I know… but kale is healthy… so are eggs and potatoes too. But they’re a little more unhealthy if you fry them… but the kale part takes away the guilt! That, and the potatoes are just pan-fried so that is mucho better than deep frying, right? Soooo, this salad is the BEST combination of healthy and fried, guilt free and delicious. Does that make sense to you? It makes sense in my head so I hope so!

This kale salad is truly awesome. I mean, adding fried eggs and fried potatoes to kale makes it awesome, even if it sounds a little weird at first. You need to try this!

You have to experience this salad to understand its greatness. At first Ben was skeptical. I mean, fried eggs on a salad? Bizarre. And, the runny egg part of the fried egg serves as the salad dressing. Another notch on the weird scale, but it works. Plus, the egg gives a little more staying power to the salad. Usually I have to have meat on a salad to make it filling, but not here. Though you could add bacon for some extra deliciousness.🙂 Anyway you make it, you’re sure to love it!

Oh and before I go, I have to mention my silverware. Isn’t it so cool? I received a fork and spoon handstamped from Tattooed Silver, a great small business located in Ohio. Tattooed Silver is the business of a fellow Wittenberg University alum, and I’m excited that we started a lil partnership. You can find them on Instagram, Facebook, and Etsy. Her products are all so unique and fun, and would make great gifts too.🙂

Enjoy!

one year ago: Cheesy Veggie Pasta
two years ago: Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes
three years ago: Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
four years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
five years ago: Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken
six years ago: Potato Soup

Awesome Kale Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

Inspired by the best parts of these salads from Jenna’s Everything Blog and We Are Not Martha, with my own additions too🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch kale
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey, if desired
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain dijon mustard, if desired
  • 4 medium potatoes – 1 per person
  • chili powder
  • dried oregano
  • garlic powder
  • 8 eggs – 2 per person
  • optional additions: diced avocado, crumbled feta, chopped bacon, etc.

Directions:

Wash and dry kale, then cut into thin strips taking care to remove the middle stems. Place in a large bowl and massage with several glugs of olive oil and the lemon juice until kale softens, then season with salt and pepper. If desired, drizzle honey and dijon mustard on top and toss/massage that in as well.

Meanwhile, dice potatoes into bite size pieces [1 per person]. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add some olive oil to the pan. When hot, reduce heat to medium and add potatoes. Season with a little salt, a lot of pepper, and some chili powder, garlic powder, and oregano. Saute, stirring frequently, for about 10-12 minutes until potatoes are crispy and cooked through.

When potatoes are finished, remove to another dish and cover with foil to retain heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and fry eggs as desired [2 per person].

Serve kale in a big bowl or plate. Top with potatoes and fried eggs, along with other desired additions. Enjoy!