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Sunday Supper Movement

Ash and Quill Book ReviewDisclaimer 1: This is a review of the third book in The Great Library Series. If you have not read the first two books in the series, you can read my review for those here.

Disclaimer 2: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and purchase, I make a very small percentage (at no additional cost to you!) which goes towards maintenance of this blog. Thanks for your support!

{Book Review}

Ash and Quill

By Rachel Caine

The third book in The Great Library series picks up where the last left off. Jess and his friends escape the clutches of the Library but end up arriving in Philadelphia where a new threat awaits, the Burners – those that would rather burn book than succumb to the Library; those that believed that a human life was more valuable than books and knowledge.

The group is immediately taken prisoner and bides their time until they can escape by performing various tasks for the Burners. But escape is no easy feat, for just outside the city walls sits one of the Library’s High Garda armies, who would surely take them captive as soon as they are seen.

Review/Recommendation: I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books, so the wait for this one to be released in July was a long one. After a few weeks of waiting for my library to receive and process the book, I gave up and ordered it myself. Thank goodness for credit with Amazon!

Ash and Quill did not disappoint. The story was as engaging as the first two, much to my husband’s dismay (because I would rather read it than watch Game of Thrones with him). The characters didn’t seem to evolve as much as previous books, but there was nice plot progression. The story line of this book focused on Burner life, culture and beliefs rather than that of the Library. That was something we got a glimpse of in previous books, but neither book were centered around it like this one is.

Like the second in the series, Paper and Quill, this book ends on a pretty big cliffhanger meant to bring the reader back for more. Super annoying when the next book is nowhere in sight. But that, along with the way the story is told indicates that this series is meant to be read in order, so if you haven’t read the first two, please don’t jump to this one. You’ll lose a lot pieces from the story as well as the characters.

Now to anxiously await the release additional book in the series. (Goodreads indicates that there will be a total of five books in this series. As of this writing, there were no details on Rachel Caine’s website, so it probably won’t be released until 2018, at the earliest.)

Buy this book on Amazon

 

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Packed with veggies, lean ground beef and topped with rice, Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup will quickly become a favorite meal for busy weeknights.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup

Can you believe that school starts up in a few weeks? Or maybe, school has already started where you live… it’s nuts! I feel like this summer flew by in the blink of an eye.

This month features lots of recipes on the blog as well as on the Books n’ Cooks Facebook page for heading back to school. In particular, this weekend, the #SundaySupper crew have come together to bring you some great Back-to-School dinners, to help deal with those crazy hectic weeknights. From slow cooker and Instant Pot meals to skillet and sheet pan dinners, the #SundaySupper tastemakers have a great set of recipes to make school nights easier. You can find the list of those recipes at the bottom of this post.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup

It feels a bit weird to be posting a soup recipe when it’s 90-100F out, but I’ve really been enjoying this soup for both lunch and dinner this summer. I love that it’s packed with vegetables and even thought my hubby doesn’t like any of those vegetables, he does like this soup. I also love that it makes enough for leftovers for our family, making weekday lunches a bit easier. In fact, most frequently, I make a batch of this soup on Sunday morning, let it cook throughout the day, and then package it up for lunch for the week. Can’t go wrong with that. But for dinner, with a little prep ahead, it’s a life saver. I prep everything the night (or sometimes weekend) before and let the soup simmer away in the slow cooker all day. I love coming home to a meal that’s pretty much ready to plate!

Recipe Notes: 

  • Instead of using canned tomatoes, I have also made this with fresh tomatoes. If you have tomatoes on hand, dice 4-6 small to medium tomatoes (by weight, mine were about 18 ounces, diced). The result is a slightly sweeter soup.
  • I added an extra cup of chicken broth to this recipe, in part because I do make and portion this out for a week’s worth of lunches. I find that the rice soaks up some of the liquid when it sits in my fridge and is reheated, so 3 cups is necessary, instead of the 2 cups that the recipe originally calls for.
  • This recipe was written to make in the slow cooker, however, I’d imagine that it would do just fine simmering away on the stove for an hour or two if you prefer.
  • Prep Ahead: I have prepped everything the night before – everything before actually turning on the slow cooker – and stuck the slow cooker pot in the fridge for the night. Then returned to the slow cooker to cook the following morning. Everything worked out great and dinner was ready when I came home from work that evening.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup

Adapted from SkinnyTaste Fast and Slow (p. 50)

Serves 6

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2-14.5 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 c. canned tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbs. dried Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 c. cooked white or brown rice (whatever you prefer)

In a large skillet set over medium heat. Stirring and breaking into small pieces every few minutes. When completely cooked, drain fat and transfer beef to a slow cooker. Return skillet to the stove and saute onions, bell peppers, and garlic until vegetables are translucent. Transfer to slow cooker. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper to slow cooker and stir to combine.

Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Serve hot with 1/2 cup of rice.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup by Books n Cooks

More Back to School Dinners

Beef and Pork

Pastas, Soups, Rice and Stews

Poultry

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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My Mom’s Zucchini Bread is moist and flavorful, making it a wonderful breakfast or mid-day snack.

Zucchini Bread

The year I graduated college, right before I moved out on my own, my mom gave me one of the best, most thoughtful, most frequently-used Christmas gifts ever. A set of cookbooks. Four cookbook binders, filled with all of our family recipes and interspersed with family photos. She painstakingly typed up what was probably over a hundred recipes, printed them on beautiful paper, and slide each recipe into a protective plastic sheet so that no matter how far away from home I went, I would be able to make our family classics. These cookbooks get a little fatter each year as we find new recipes we love, but they are definitely one of the best Christmas presents I have received. Ever.

When my garden started producing zucchini last month, I knew immediately that I was going to dig into those cookbooks and make one of my childhood favorites for you. Farmers Market Week with my blogger friends was the perfect excuse. If you don’t have any zucchini growing in your back yard, be sure to check your local farmers market. I’ll betcha a loaf of bread that you’ll find some beautiful zucchini there, maybe even big enough to eek out two loaves of this bread (one for now, one for the freezer? one for home, one for work? It won’t go to waste, I promise).

Zucchini Bread

One recipe note: My favorite version of this bread is with a generous cup of walnuts – I just love the slight crunch to an otherwise soft and very moist bread. Include nuts or skip them (as I did this summer, since our daycare is nut-free) or even add mini chocolate chips if you’d like – whatever your family enjoys.

Zucchini Bread

Thanks to Cynthia at Feeding Big and Christie at A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures for hosting Farmer’s Market Week this year. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to check out more recipes inspired by our local farmer’s markets from our blogging community.

Mom’s Zucchini Bread

Makes 1 Loaf

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 2 c. shredded (not peeled) zucchini
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 – 1 c. chopped walnuts or mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Press shredded zucchini in a clean dishtowel to remove as much liquid as possible. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add eggs, vegetable oil, and vanilla into the well and stir to mix well. Fold in shredded zucchini as well as nuts or chocolate chips, if using.

Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool before moving to a serving plate.

Bread will keep, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for about 5 days.

#FarmersMarketWeek - A week of #FarmFresh recipes

#FarmersMarket Wednesday Recipes

Chicken and Summer Veggie Tostadas by The Redhead Baker
Peach-Almond Mousse by Red Cottage Chronicles
Easy Creamed Corn by Feeding Big
Easy Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles by Simple and Savory
Fresh Applesauce by Palatable Pastime
Fresh Raspberry Streusel Muffins by Family Around The Table
Grilled Garden Pizza by Jolene’s Recipe Journal
Italian Sausage and Summer Vegetable Sheet Pan Dinner by Cooking with Carlee
Lemon Curd by The Freshman Cook
Mom’s Zucchini Bread by Books n’ Cooks
Peaches & Cream Protein Smoothie by Tip Garden
Quick Pickles by Bear & Bug Eats
Roasted Brussels Sprouts Carbonara by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Roasted Eggplant with Tahini by Caroline’s Cooking
Spicy Summer Squash Refrigerator Pickles by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

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Slow Cooker Beef Tacos with Salsa Verde are an easy, flavorful dinner for busy weeknights.

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos with Salsa Verde

Welcome to Farmer’s Mark Week, hosted by Cynthia at Feeding Big and Christie at A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! This week, a group of bloggers will be sharing recipes inspired by what we find at our local farmer’s markets, or for those with a green thumb, in our gardens. You can find recipes here on Books n’ Cooks today and Wednesday, but be sure to search social media for #FarmersMarketWeek for more great recipes!

The past couple of weeks have been absolutely horrible at work. For the past two weeks, I came home with stress headaches every day and was just absolutely exhausted. I’d come home almost every day craving quiet and wine and the ability to zone out from the world. I wanted to forget about the people who thought it was ok to send insulting and counterproductive emails to me, when in fact, they were struggling to do their own job. And we won’t talk about how I’m to blame for them not having not any common sense or basic communication skills.

I’d come home with so little energy that several nights, I couldn’t even bother to season meat and veggies for my hubby to grill. Pathetic, right?

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos with Salsa Verde

After one week of that, I finally got my act together to make life a little easier for myself, at least at home. This slow cooker beef tacos was a life saver last week. I’ve made it several times before. It truly requires minimal effort. Slice those onions and peppers from your farmers market or garden (or grocery store – for the really crazy weeks, buy two packages of presliced fajita veggies and skip the slicing all together), dump into the slow cooker and walk out the door for work. Shredding the beef only takes a minute when you get home before you can serve, and likely have some for leftovers. The salsa verde gives the beef and vegetables a bright, slightly sweet flavor and has just a hint of a bite. (If you like things spicier, I bet you could throw a few sliced jalapenos in here as well).

The other reason I really like this meal is that it’s so easy to customize to what’s in season and to individual tastes. I’ve made this with all colors of bell peppers as well as both red and white onions. You can even do all onions or peppers, if someone in your house has an aversion to one or the other. Same goes for toppings. I favor a little more fresh produce, the tomato and avocado (or guacamole) that you see above but my hubby adds more salsa, cheese, and even a bit of sour cream to his tacos. The options are endless.

Enjoy this dish now while farmers markets and gardens are producing tons of produce, or bookmark it for a busy weeknight for later. And don’t forget to check out the other recipes featuring farmers market produce at the bottom of this post! Bon appetit!

Prep Ahead: Slice onions and peppers the night before (or even a couple nights before), and store in an airtight container for easy prep the morning you want to make this.

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos with Peppers, Onions & Salsa Verde

By Books n’ Cooks

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium to large onions, white, red, or a combination of the two, cut into thin strips.
  • 2 large bell peppers, any color, cut into thin strips
  • 1.5-2 lb. lean flank steak, trimmed of fat if necessary
  • 16-20 oz. salsa verde
  • tortillas
  • Toppings of choice: additional salsa, diced tomato, cheese, avocado/guacamole, sour cream, etc.

Place sliced peppers and onions in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place flank steak on top of vegetables. Top with salsa.

Cook on low for for 10 hours.

Shred beef and return to slow cooker.

Serve hot with the onions and peppers in salsa verde, in a tortilla with toppings of your choice.

Looking for a side dish to accompany these tacos? Try my Cilantro Lime Rice.

Slow Cooker Beef Tacos with Salsa Verde on Books n Cooks

#FarmersMarketWeek - A week of #FarmFresh recipes

#FarmersMarketWeek Monday Recipes

Aunt Mary’s Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles by Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
BBQ Corn on the Cob with dilled butter by Red Cottage Chronicles
Beef Tacos with Peppers, Onions & Salsa Verde by Books n’ Cooks
Blistered Tomato Dutch Baby by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Blueberry Crisp for Two by Family Around The Table
Blueberry Scones by The Freshman Cook
Cherry Stout Jam by The Redhead Baker
Farmer’s Market Breakfast Casserole by New South Charm
Freshly Dug Potato Salad by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Intro post by Bear & Bug Eats
Israeli Salad by Caroline’s Cooking
Marinated Mozzarella and Tomato Appetizers by Jolene’s Recipe Journal
Peach and Blueberry Overnight Oats by Simple and Savory
Peach Bourbon Jam by Feeding Big
Peaches and Cream Overnight Oats by Cooking with Carlee
Strawberry Mango Jam by Palatable Pastime
Summer Veggies & Kielbasa Sheet Pan Dinner by Tip Garden

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Despite 10 years of blogging, there are some dishes that I make that I’ve never considered blogging about. They’re family classics that I make on auto-pilot, that feel a bit like cheater recipes. No or very minimal recipe, sometimes using store-bought ingredients. This recipe is one of them.

My grandmother has made this Italian Green Bean Salad for as long as I can remember. I remember – back when I was in elementary school – picking the green beans from her huge backyard garden, sitting on the steps trimming the ends, and then watching her make it for family dinner that night. It’s a quick and easy recipe, perfect for weeknight dinners but also summer BBQs and potlucks, as it can be served at room temperature. It’s also easy to adjust the recipe for a dinner for two or to feed a crowd.

Italian Green Bean Salad

Recipe Notes:

  • This salad can be served warm (room temperature) or cold, straight from the fridge. If making ahead and storing in the fridge, be sure to check before serving, to make sure that it doesn’t need a little extra salad dressing.
  • Asiago cheese can be exchanged for Parmesan, if you have that on hand.

Italian Green Bean Salad

By Books n’ Cooks

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
  • Italian Salad Dressing (I use Good Seasonings Italian, made with balsamic vinegar)
  • Asiago cheese, finely grated (about 1 oz. Asiago, grated)

Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add green beans and blanch, cooking for 3-5 minutes until still crunchy. With a slotted spoon or tongs, move green beans to bowl of ice, to prevent beans from cooking any longer. When beans have cooled to room temperature (or cooler), drain and transfer to a serving dish.

Toss green beans with Italian dressing. Top with finely grated Asiago cheese just before serving.

Serve green beans at room temperature or cold.

Store covered tightly in plastic wrap in the fridge, if not serving immediately.

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Ok, so I’m a few weeks late on this post… but it was a monster to write up and I’m badly in need of a new computer, so I’ve been avoiding anything that needs to be done on my computer, like photo editing.

FWCon

In the Kitchen & Beyond! 

This spring saw heavy comfort foods get kicked to the curb in favor of lighter options. We grill out at least twice a week. I usually keep it simple with a salt and pepper rub or a store-brought marinate, but this Apple Butter Pork Tenderloin from Eazy Peazy Mealz has been a favorite for the past couple of years. I also revamped an old standby – Chicken Scaloppini Saltimbocca – with new photos and some post revisions, as the post was super old and badly needed a face lift.

I’ve also enjoyed making several summery beverages at home. I could drink this super light Strawberry Basil Darjeeling Iced Tea all summer. And this Pomegranate Grapefruit Vodka Martini – a twist on the classic cosmo – is so good that I can’t keep the ingredients on hand, otherwise I might enjoy a cocktail every night.

Food-related but beyond the kitchen, if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I attended the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando, FL last month (a few photos from the weekend above). It was my first time attending but it was the conference’s 5th year (congrats to Isabel and the #SundaySupper Movement on this milestone!). I had a blast and could seriously write several posts on the amazing bloggers I met, the wonderful food, the inspiring stories, and the important lessons learned. Instead of that, I’ll give you some highlights and references.

  • Food and Wine Conference official website – so that you can watch for next year’s event.
  • Representatives from Certified Angus Beef, Florida Strawberries, and Florida Dairy Association participated in panels where I gained insight into the families that support U.S. agriculture and produce. The passion that these representatives showed was amazing. It makes me realize how much I still have to learn about how this portion of the economy works, to include sustainability. It also made me appreciate those that support these businesses even more, as family businesses, with every member of the family participating.
  • On a more business front, today really is the digital age, where microinfluencers (bloggers like yours truly) and social media rockstars bring as much to the table for brands and big name companies – if not more – than formal advertising. Stay true to yourself but recognize the power you have.
  • I have pages of notes on how to shoot videos, which is starting to overtake traditional still photography as critical aspects of food blogging. I’ve always found the prospect super intimidating but a couple of helpful talks and lots of Q&A have helped get me over the hurdle. After the conference, I even made and published my first video!
  • Look for opportunities to not just improve, but to pivot. Where can expertise gained from blogging, recipe development, photography, etc. be used to change your direction in the future?

On My Bookshelf

I read quite a bit in early spring, with my pace slowing down as the weather grew nicer. However, most of what I read this spring were knock-outs that I loved. As usual, you can follow what I’m reading in real time on Goodreads, but if you’re not on Goodreads, here are some of my favorites from this spring:

  • The Freedom Broker (by K.J. Howe) – Howe’s debute novel, this mystery/suspense novel starred a kidnap-and-ransom expert searching for her kidnapped father
  • The Great Library Series (by Rachel Caine) – a young adult series with lots of action, it is based on an alternate version of history.
  • The Women in the Castle (by Jessica Shattuck) – a historical fiction novel set in Nazi Germany, about three widows surviving the way and rebuilding their lives

I’m now anxiously awaiting the third book in The Great Library series, which was released a few days ago. I should get it as soon as the book arrives at and gets processed into my local library.

The Little Ones showing off their garden harvest

Gardening

Ever since we moved into this house (almost 5 years ago), I’ve wanted my own garden. I did small boxes of herbs a year or two, but this year, I finally got the garden I’ve wanted. I owe my hubby big time for building the raised bed.

We planted a couple varieties of tomatoes, zucchini, jalapeno, serrano peppers, baby bell peppers, and an assortment of herbs. I’m honestly amazing at how well the garden is doing. I’ve had to restake the tomato plant that were toppling under the weight of the green tomatoes. I’ve had to relocate some herbs that were overtaken by the zucchini. I’ve already harvested a couple of baby bell peppers, a half dozen tomatoes, and two zucchini. Not to mention the sage leaves I froze and the two batches of both cilantro and basil pesto I made and stashed in my freezer.

But the best part of the garden is how much my little ones love it. I have daily helpers watering, weeding, and looking for ripe vegetables to pick. My daughter – the World’s Pickiest Eater – took pleasure in picking the first baby bell pepper and taking a huge bite out of it. And then a second and a third bite! Definitely a win in my book.

Crafting

Crafting has slowed this spring, as travel, time outside, and other stuff have picked up. I did finish and gift a baby blanket to my dear sister-in-law, who had her second son this spring. (Two boys, under 15 months apart – she’s like Superwoman!)

I’m in the middle of what feels like a zillion projects – a crochet blanket, a knit pillow case, a knit poncho, a knit shawl, a couple of counted cross stitch Christmas stockings, a couple of digital and paper scrapbooks… I either haven’t been able to focus on anything for very long due to attention span or to travel (I try to bring small projects with me, if any) or have just been too busy to pick any up. A couple projects are near completion or are just super easy, so I’m hoping to finish a few this summer, but we’ll see if that happens. It’s shaping up to be a busy summer with either travel or house guests almost every other week.

 

I hope you all had a wonderful spring and have a great summer lined up!

All the Best!

Liz

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Book Review: The Women in the Castle

{Book Review}

The Women in the Castle

By Jessica Shattuck

On the eve of WWII, a small group from Germany’s high society were planning  Hitler’s assassination. Marianne von Lingenfels was the sole woman present. She not only supported the plot, recognizing the monster that Germany’s leader was, but was charged by the men with protecting and caring for their wives and families, should the plot go awry.

Unsurprisingly, the plot fails and the men, the resisters, are sentenced to death. Marianne survives the war and returns to the castle owned by her husband’s ancestors. It is from that home base that Marianne searches Germany for the women and children she promised to protect. She successfully recovers two fellow resister wives and their children. Together, the three women and their children spend their days at the castle recovering from the war and searching for a way forward in life.

Review/Recommendation: I read a lot of WWII-era historical fiction books but not very many from a German perspective. This  book was super interesting and hard to put down. It was a fantastic story with engaging characters.

I thought it Shattuck did well showing the different perspectives of a German woman during Hitler’s reign. The three widows each brought their own perspective of WWII-era Germany – one [former] Nazi supporter, one adamant resister, and one just slightly the indifferent and a bit oblivious to the politics of the time. Each woman had a history that helped them make it through the years immediately following the war, when they were recovering and attempting to restart their lives. Each had a history that crafted their paths forward after the recovery period.

The Women in the Castle flipped back and forth between different dates (mostly prewar and postwar, the “present” of the novel) and between each of the different characters, giving the reader insight into the women’s history and life. The format worked well for the book and for the story Shattuck crafted.

I really enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to any fans of historical fiction.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link and purchase, I make a very small percentage (at no additional cost to you!) which goes towards maintenance of this blog. Thanks for your support!

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Chambord was the first high quality liquor that I ever drank. A black raspberry liquor, my mom (yes, I was legal drinking age and yes, I was a good girl) introduced it to me in the form of a Chambord Sour. The sweet-sour drink worked for my young palate, but as I got older and was introduced to a much larger variety of good quality liquors (not the junk we drank in college), I grew to appreciate a nice glass of Chambord on the rocks.

I’ve always loved the liquor and am immediately drawn to drinks that feature it when we’re out to dinner. So when this week’s #SundaySupper theme was announced as Simple Mixed Drinks for a Refreshing Summer, I immediately knew that I wanted to make a cocktail with Chambord as the star.

Sparkling Chambord Sangria

After tossing around a few ideas, I decided upon some sort of Chambord sangria, with a light white wine as a base. At first, I attempted a straight sangria recipe – Chambord, white wine, and a few muddled raspberries. However, I found this far too sweet for me. I envisioned something lighter, which I planned to solve with the addition of tonic or soda water. I went with the former, which mellowed out the flavor nicely. I was apparently on the right track with the recipe I’ve presented below, as just a day or two after making it, my Pinterest feed was filled with Chambord recipes, one very similar to the below, the Chambord Spritz.

Sparkling Chambord Sangria
By Books n’ Cooks
Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. Chambord black raspberry liquor
  • 4 oz. white wine (I used pinot grigio but a chardonnay would work well as well)
  • tonic water
  • fresh raspberries

In a cocktail glass filled halfway with ice, add 1 oz. Chambord followed by 4 oz. white wine. Top with tonic water and garnish with fresh raspberries.

Serve immediately.

Thanks to Christie at A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures for hosting this event. Be sure to check out the recipes below for more refreshing summer cocktails and mocktails! 

Classics with a Twist

Make Mine a Mocktail

Simply Different

Tasty and Tropical

Very Vino

For even more inspiration check out these Simple Mixed Drinks for a Refreshing Summer by Sunday Supper Movement
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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Happy Sunday! I hope you are enjoying a long weekend celebrating our great country.

My family and I are thankfully having a mostly lazy weekend – play dates, baking, and chores, with a dinner with friends planned for the 4th. We’ve had a whirlwind could of weeks with me away for a week and some family in town. I’ve been enjoying playing catch up. Enjoying the relative quiet in the house. And enjoying taking a little bit of time to menu plan, blog plan, and vacation plan.

Tortellini with Fresh Basil Pesto

Store-bought ravioli or tortellini with homemade pesto from the freezer has become an easy weeknight staple in our house. It takes so little effort and time to make that we really have no excused for ordering out when I’ve got the pasta and pesto in the freezer. I stock up on homemade pesto when my herbs (or my mom’s herbs) are growing like crazy over the summer time. They’ve been planted for less than two months and they’ve already started to grow a bit wild. I’ve already have to trim them back several times, freezing sage leaves and making both cilantro and basil pesto.

Tortellini with Fresh Basil Pesto

By Books n’ Cooks

Serves 2 as a main dish, 3-4 as a side dish

Ingredients for the Tortellini:

  • 1-9 oz. package store-bought cheese tortellini
  • 1 c. fresh basil pesto (ingredients and instructions below)

Ingredients for the Basil Pesto: (makes 1 cup) 

  • 2 c. packed fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • ¼ c. pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, skins removed
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, more if needed

Prepare tortellini according to package. While tortellini are cooking, make the pesto. (If tortellini are finished before pesto, drain, toss with a little bit of olive oil to avoid sticking, and cover to keep warm.)

Make the Pesto: Place all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until large chunks. With the food processor still running, slowly pour in olive oil. Turn off when thoroughly combined.

Toss tortellini and pesto, until tortellini are completely coated. You may not need the entire cup.

Freezing Pesto: Basil pesto freezes wonderfully and is one of my favorite things to stock up on over summer, for quick weeknight dinners throughout the year.

To freeze, transfer pesto to an airtight container (I use mason jars) and freeze until ready to use. Pesto may be defrosted in the fridge or for 30-60 seconds in the microwave (don’t forget to take off the metal lid and rim!)

Fresh Basil Pesto
Tortellini with Homemade Basil Pesto on Books n Cooks
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Sweet and tangy pomegranate combines with bright grapefruit to make a refreshing summer cocktail that is just slightly sweet.

Pomegranate Grapefruit Vodka Martini

By now, you must be realizing that there’s a foodie holiday for everything. Last week’s National Iced Tea Day, National Doughnut Day earlier this month… These holidays are a lot of fun for bloggers who use them as inspiration for their blog and social media posts. After all, who wouldn’t love to drool over the over the top recipes that come out for National Ice Cream Day?

Welcome to #NationalMartiniDay!

Whether you enjoy your martini with vodka or gin, shaken or stirred, we’ve got some libations for your happy hour.

This is one foodie holiday I couldn’t wait to celebrate. While I’m usually a wine drinker, I increasingly enjoy experimenting with new cocktails when we go out for dinner or at home in my own kitchen. This foodie holiday was perfectly timed this year, as I had recently had a wonderful cocktail at a local restaurant, The Wine Kitchen on the Creek, that I was anxious to recreate. You see, they had a spin on the classic cosmo – one of my go-to cocktails of cranberry juice, vodka, orange liquor, and a splash of lime – that featured pomegranate juice and grapefruit juice instead of the cranberry and lime. So good!

My recreation took me a few times to get right. It needed to be a little bit sweet but not overpowering. Take 1 was definitely too sweet. Take 2 was better but still not the perfect balance of flavors. Take 3 was it. I made sure by having two cocktails. The things I do for you… 😉

Cheers to the start of a good week!

Pomegranate Grapefruit Vodka Martini

Pomegranate Grapefruit Vodka Martini

By Books n’ Cooks

Makes 1 Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. good-quality vodka
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 3/4 oz. pomegranate juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • grapefruit wedge and/or pomegranate arils for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add vodka, Cointreau, pomegranate juice, and grapefruit juice. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Pour into a martini glass and serve immediately.

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Check out the collection of martinis that our bloggers have created for you!

And big thanks to Ellen at Family Around the Table for hosting this one!

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