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A sweet apple butter BBQ sauce comes together in minutes, and is generously applied to a pork tenderloin for an easy and flavorful weeknight dinner.

Grilled Apple Butter Pork Tenderloin

Disclaimer: Thank you to #AppleWeek Sponsors: Rodelle, Dreamfarm, Casabella, Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal, Pryex, Chicago Cutlery, Rainier Fruit, and Veggie Wash for providing prizes for #AppleWeek free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #AppleWeek. All opinions are my own.

If you haven’t already seen the giveaway from our fabulous sponsors, head over here to read about the prize packs. Then scroll to the bottom of this post – leave a comment on this post (and any other #appleweek post published today) to get an extra entry. Share the giveaway via Twitter for another extra entry.

Grilled Apple Butter Pork Tenderloin

Weeknights seem to constantly be crazy in my house. No matter how much I manage to prep on the weekend, the hustle around getting home, getting dinner on the table, the kids bathed and ready for bed always feels like a bit of a frenzy to me. Someone always wants or needs help with something, someone is upset about something (I won’t pick them up, they can’t have fruit snacks for dinner, etc), I can’t remember what I was doing…. it’s always something.

While our slow cooker helps make dinner times easier, our other go-to is the grill. When in a pinch, it takes only a minute to season a piece of meat with salt and pepper or use a store-bought rub or marinade. This recipe increases my prep time by only a few minutes – the apple butter BBQ sauce comes together in under 5 minutes and makes for a sweet, flavorful dinner in under 30 minutes. This recipe also rocks because it uses minimal dishes – two small bowls for the apple butter sauce and one large Pyrex (isn’t the one above, from their Watercolor collection gorgeous?) that I use for prep and after a quick wash, for serving. #Winning

Grilled Apple Butter Pork Tenderloin

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. homemade or store-bought apple butter
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. molasses
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder or minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. sriracha
  • 2 lb. pork tenderloin
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. minced chives (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine apple butter, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, molasses, garlic, and sriracha. Whisk gently with a fork. Set about 1/3 of the mixture aside.
  2. Heat grill on a medium setting. While grill is preheating, trim extra fat from pork tenderloin. Place in a large glass baking dish (i.e. a large rectangular Pyrex) and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Keeping 1/3 of the sauce on the side, brush pork tenderloin with some of the remaining.
  3. Place pork on hot grill. Grill for 10 minutes, apply more sauce and flip. Apply additional sauce as needed, cooking until the pork reaches 150F in the thickest part.
  4. Remove pork tenderloin from grill and transfer to a clean Pyrex or cutting board. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, covered with foil.
  5. With a clean brush, brush pork with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with chives. Slice and serve hot.
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This recipe was adapted from Eazy Peazy Mealz.

Enter to win one of our awesome #AppleWeek prizes, immediately below and then scroll down to find more sweet and savory #AppleWeek recipes. (And again, thanks to Carlee of Cooking with Carlee for hosting!)

Grilled Apple Butter Pork Tenderloin. A sweet apple butter BBQ sauce comes together in minutes, and is generously applied to a pork tenderloin for an easy and flavorful weeknight dinner. books-n-cooks.com

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Appelflappen from Palatable Pastime
Apple Butter Cream Cheese Spread from Tip Garden
Apple Cinnamon Roll Pie from Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids
Apple Cranberry Galettes with Caramel Drizzle from Family Around the Table
Apple Oat Quick Bread with Caramel Sauce from The Chef Next Door
Apple Yeast Coffee Cake from Jolene’s Recipe Journal
Easiest Ever Applesauce from A Day in the Life on the Farm
Grilled Apple Butter Pork Tenderloin from Books n’ Cooks
Grilled Veggie Tacos with Apple Pico de Gallo from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Honeycrisp and Gouda Grilled Cheese from The Redhead Baker
Italian Apple and Fig Polenta Torta from All That’s Jas
Molasses-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops with Apple Butter from Sew You Think You Can Cook
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Apples from House of Nash Eats
Roasted Pork with Apple Puree from Simple and Savory
Savory Apple Bacon Pizza from Cooking With Carlee
Slow Cooker Honey Apple Pork Roast From Amy’s Cooking Adventures

Disclaimer: Thank you to #AppleWeek Sponsors: Rodelle, Dreamfarm, Casabella, Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal, Pryex, Chicago Cutlery, Rainier Fruit, and Veggie Wash for providing prizes for #AppleWeek free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #AppleWeek. All opinions are my own.

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Apple cider slowly simmers away with spices that remind you of fall, for a wonderful beverage to savor while you enjoy the beautiful cool weather this fall.

Disclaimer: Thank you to #AppleWeek Sponsors: Rodelle, Dreamfarm, Casabella, Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal, Pryex, Chicago Cutlery, Rainier Fruit, and Veggie Wash for providing prizes for #AppleWeek free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #AppleWeek. All opinions are my own.

Mulled Apple Cider

Welcome to #AppleWeek, hosted by Carlee of Cooking with Carlee! If you haven’t already seen the giveaway from our fabulous sponsors, head over here to read about the prize packs. Then scroll to the bottom of this post – leave a comment on this post (and any other #appleweek post published today) to get an extra entry. Share the giveaway via Twitter for another extra entry.

One of my favorite things about the fall is enjoying the cooling weather. I truly love being about to enjoy being outside and doing fall-ish things with my family – apple picking and pumpkin picking, watching the hounds at one of the local farms, or playing on the playground while bundled in sweatshirts. All of the kids in our neighborhood are suddenly outside again, after being holed up away from the heat (or at the pool) for the summer, and they all run a muck between the various houses with the parents chatting nearby. I love summer, but fall may be my favorite season because of all of this.

While spending time outside if wonderful, my guilty pleasure is finding a quiet moment to to cuddle up under the humongous wool afghan my mom made for me with a warm drink and a book. With this in mind, I knew that one of the first recipes I’d be making for #AppleWeek is a mulled cider.

Mulled Apple Cider

This particular recipe has a wonderfully subtle orange note from the orange extract. I think that makes it one of my favorite mulled cider recipes to date. This cider recipe takes minutes to put together and then simmers away on the stove for as long as you’d like to leave it. It’s a great recipe to bookmark for fall and winter entertaining, or to take with you on those fall outings.

Mulled Apple Cider

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6-8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon of apple cider
  • 1 tsp. orange extract
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 small cinnamon sticks
  • 12 cloves
  • 3 cardamom seeds
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • apple slices, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients (except apple slices) in a medium pot set over medium heat. Heat until simmering. Stir and lower heat. Continue cooking over low heat for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.
  2. Serve hot, garnished with apple slices.
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Recipe Notes: 

  • Feel free to spike with your preferred liquor. I enjoy it with a shot of spiced rum or Fireball (cinnamon) whiskey, but use whatever you’d like (one friend used to enjoy caramel vodka in her warm cider).
  • Cider may be made or kept warm in a slow cooker, if desired.
  • I  garnished mine with apple slices, but you can certainly play up the orange notes with an orange slice as the garnish as well.

Enter to win one of our awesome #AppleWeek prizes:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And before you go, check out the more #AppleWeek recipes that went live this morning, from a group of very talented bloggers:

Apple Bacon Turkey Burgers from Jonesin’ for Taste
Apple Brickle Mini Tarts with Oatmeal Crust from The Freshman Cook
Apple-Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal from Amy’s Cooking Adventures
Apple Cobbler French Toast Casserole from Tip Garden
Apple Fritter Yeast Bread from House of Nash Eats
Apple Oatmeal Coffee Mug Cake from Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids
Apple Oatmeal Muffins from A Day in the Life on the Farm
Apple Pie Steel Cut Oatmeal from Cooking With Carlee
Caramel Apple Nut Bars from Family Around the Table
Cinnamon Apple Cider Sangria from The Redhead Baker
Creamy Maple Gouda Apple Soup with Pecan-Oat Granola from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Healthy Apple Muffins from Caroline’s Cooking
Mulled Apple Cider from Books n’ Cooks
Oatmeal Crusted Apple Stuffed French Toast from Jolene’s Recipe Journal
Salted Caramel Apple Cake from Grumpy’s Honeybunch
Savory Apple Sausage Tart from The Crumby Kitchen
Vanilla Brined Pork Chops with Applesauce  from Bear & Bug Eats
Swedish Apple Oatmeal Pie with Vanilla Sauce from All That’s Jas
Torta di Mele Sicilian Apple Cake from Girl Abroad

Disclaimer: Thank you to #AppleWeek Sponsors: Rodelle, Dreamfarm, Casabella, Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal, Pryex, Chicago Cutlery, Rainier Fruit, and Veggie Wash for providing prizes for #AppleWeek free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #AppleWeek. All opinions are my own.

Mulled Apple Cider - Apple cider slowly simmers away with spices that remind you of fall, for a wonderful beverage to savor while you enjoy the beautiful cool weather this fall.

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Welcome to #AppleWeek 2017!

Disclaimer: Thank you to #AppleWeek Sponsors: Rodelle, Dreamfarm, Casabella, Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal, Pryex, Chicago Cutlery, Rainier Fruit, and Veggie Wash for providing prizes for #AppleWeek free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #AppleWeek. All opinions are my own.

I’m excited to be participating in this year’s #AppleWeek – a week featuring recipes made with all things apple (fresh apples, apple sauce, apple cider, etc.) hosted by Carlee at Cooking with Carlee. Be come back all week to see what I’ve made for you, as well as what recipes our #AppleWeek bloggers have created to share with you. You can also search social media for #AppleWeek, or follow the event’s official Facebook page or on Twitter for more great recipes featuring my favorite fall fruit.

We had some truly amazing sponsors this week that not only shared products with the #AppleWeek bloggers but have generously donated some awesome prizes for YOU to win. Below you’ll find a list of prize packs available as well as the Rafflecopter for you to enter – and you can do so a number of times both today and throughout the week. Good luck!

Prize Pack #1 from Rodelle:

A baker’s dream come true! This delicious prize pack includes premium vanilla products, gourmet dutch-processed cocoa and specialty extracts.

Items include:

Pure Vanilla Extract
Gourmet Dutch-Processed Baking Cocoa
Gourmet Vanilla Extract
Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans
Organic Vanilla Extract
Organic Chocolate Extract
Almond Extract
Vanilla Paste
And some fun baking supplies to whip up your next batch of goodies with!

Prize Pack #2 from Dreamfarm and Casabella:

Items include:a 2 ‘n 1 veggie brush
a clip n strip shears
a set up levups
a set of levoons

Prize Pack #3 from Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal:

Prize Pack #4 from Pyrex and Chicago Cutlery:

Prize Pack #5 from Rainier Fruit:

A prize pack from Rainier Fruit including a box of freshly farvested Rainier Fruit apples, a stainless steel apple slicer, apple corer, “Baked with Love” ceramic pie pan, copper apple loaf pan and a $25 Williams Sonoma gift card!

Prize Pack #6 from Veggie Wash:

A prize pack from Veggie Wash

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Disclaimer: Thank you to #AppleWeek Sponsors: Rodelle, Dreamfarm, Casabella, Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal, Pryex, Chicago Cutlery, Rainier Fruit, and Veggie Wash for providing prizes for #AppleWeek free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #AppleWeek. All opinions are my own.

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Lean shrimp is tossed with zucchini, Asian egg noodles, and a spicy Sriracha sauce to create a quick weeknight dinner.

Spicy Shrimp and Zucchini Lo Mein

When I left for vacation late last month, I knew my garden wouldn’t last much longer. The tomato plants were still bearing fruit but the fruit seemed to be getting eaten more quickly than it did earlier in the summer, and the plants looked wilty and sad. Even the zucchini plant looked like it was slowly dying, even as it continued to get larger and continued to flower.

My predictions weren’t far off. When I returned from vacation, I started to pull my tomato plants. The herbs were still thriving, so those got pruned back (hello, pesto and sage leaves for my freezer!) with hopes that I’ll continue to get fresh herbs for another month or two. The zucchini plant isn’t looking great, but I’m still harvesting at least one zucchini each week so it’s going to stay a little bit longer. But while I love grilled zucchini and baking with it, I badly needed a change.

Spicy Shrimp and Zucchini Lo Mein

Enter this lo mein dish. While spicy enough that I had to tweak the recipe a bit, it was a hit in the house. I will warn you that even after tweaking the recipe, it’s still has a bit of kick from the sriracha, so if you can’t handle the heat, don’t bother trying it. That being said that even the spicier of the two versions, my husband and I enjoyed enough to know that we’d be making the recipe again and again. Bursting with flavor, it’s a quick weeknight meal.

 

Spicy Shrimp & Zucchini Lo Mein

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 8-10 oz. package of lo mein or other Asian egg noodle
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 small to medium or 1 large zucchini, cut into pieces about 1 inch wide and 1/2 an inch thick (will half moon shaped or triangular wedges depending on the size of your zucchini)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 4 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh chives (or scallions), divided

Instructions

  1. Cook egg noodles according to package, while preparing the stir fry.
  2. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When melted, add red pepper flakes and eggs. Whisk eggs until cooked throughout and thoroughly scrambled. With a slotted spoon, remove eggs from skillet and put in a bowl on the side.
  3. Add 1 Tbs. of the olive oil to the skillet. When hot, add shrimp, cooking for 2 minutes on each side until browned on the outside and cooked throughout. Use a slotted spoon to move shrimp to the bowl with egg.
  4. Add remaining olive oil to skillet. When hot, add zucchini and garlic, sauteing for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until zucchini is beginning to brown on the outside but isn't soft.
  5. While zucchini is cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, Sriracha, and ginger.
  6. When zucchini is browned, increase heat to medium. Add shrimp, egg, and cooked (drained) noodles to the skillet with the zucchini. Toss with prepared sauce. Saute mixture for 3-5 minutes, tossing every minute or two to ensure that everything is coated in sauce. In the last minute, stir in half of cilantro and half of chives or scallions. Saute for one more minute.
  7. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and chives.
  8. Serve immediately.
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Recipe Notes:

  • This recipe has been tweaked to add more shrimp and a bit more zucchini as well as to reduce the heat. I also swapped out the scallions for chives, which I had in my garden. I prefer the subtle flavor of chives to the scallion’s stronger flavors anyway, but use whichever you prefer.
  • I’ve made this recipe with both lo mein noodles as well as a thinner egg noodle (seen in these photographs) and both came out well, although I preferred the thinner noodle to the lo mein noodle. The key here, however, is that both varieties are egg noodles – not rice noodles. Look for that on the package.

This recipe was adapted from Baker by Nature

 

Spicy Shrimp and Zucchini Lo Mein on Books n' Cooks

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A soft chocolate cookie stuffed with peanut butter, these cookies are hard to stop at just one (especially if you try them while they’re still warm!).

Peanut Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Oh goodness… football season is coming. Are you excited about it?

If you’ve been following along with me, you know that I am not a football fan. Not even Superbowl. I enjoy hanging out with friends and munching on snacks and appetizers. Buffalo chicken dip? Hellz yeah! Soft pretzels? You bet! Old-school Mexican seven layer dip? Don’t mind if I do.

Football weekends are perfect for serving your favorite finger food, to make mixing and mingling, watching (or not watching) the game easy. There’s not a particular sweet that stands out as a classic for a football party, but you can’t go wrong with cookies. I had bookmarked these cookies years ago, but for some reason, never got around to making them. That was a mistake. They’re awesome. These cookies stay soft and are rich flavor. They’re addictive at room temperature but they’re definitely trouble if you eat them just slightly warm. Soooo good!

I may have made these cookies twice in one week, which is pretty much unheard of for me..

Peanut Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

Looking for more inspiration for fall and winter football games? Check out the collection of recipes from the #SundaySupper tastemakers below my cookie recipe.

Peanut Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 10 hours

Cook Time: 9 hours

Yield: Approximately 2 Dozen Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. creamy peanut butter (not natural peanut butter), divided
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar, with extra for rolling
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. confectioners sugar

Instructions

  1. Prep: Preheat oven to 375F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place 1/4-1/2 c. Granulated sugar in a small bowl and set that aside as well.
  2. Make the Cookie Dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugars, and 1/4 c. peanut butter on medium speed. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Beat in vanilla and egg. Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda into bowl. Beat on medium-low until dough begins to come together, 1-2 minutes.
  3. Make the Peanut Butter Filling: In a separate bowl, cream together (use either the stand mixer or a hand held mixer) remaining 1/2 c. peanut butter and confectioners sugar.
  4. Assemble the Cookie: Using a 1 1/2 Tbs. ice cream scoop, portion out dough into equal sizes. With clean hands, roll each into a ball. Flatted between your palms. Pinch off pieces of the peanut butter filling - about the size of a dime (adjust more or less depending on whether you can seal the peanut butter inside the dough). Place in center of the chocolate dough. Fold dough over and pinch together at seams to seal. Roll into a ball. Roll ball in a small bowl of granulated sugar. Set onto prepared baking sheet. Continue with remaining dough, placing cookies about 2 inches apart. When baking sheets are filled, flatten each cookie slightly, with the palm of your hand or the flat bottom of a juice glass.
  5. Bake for 7-9 minutes (mine were 8 minutes exactly), until cooked throughout but not yet browned. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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Adapted from Seeded at the Table

Peanut Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Cookies on Books n' Cooks

Football Party Finger Food #SundaySupper

Finger-licking Football Party Finger Food

Flavorful Football Party Finger Food

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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The Forgotten Garden chronicles the efforts of two women to uncover pieces of their own family history.

Book Review: The Forgotten GardenDisclaimer: 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
The Forgotten Garden
By Kate Morton

A little girl is found alone with a small suitcase of clothes and a beautiful book of fairy tales on a dock in Australia in 1913. The little girl has no memory. The dockmaster is unable to find her family, or even figure out where to begin looking for them. He takes the little girl home and she is quickly adopted as the first child of the dockmaster and his wife. Named Nell, the little girl grows up knowing nothing of her past, the eldest child of a large family. But when Nell turns 21, her father tells her the truth of her origins – that she was not his biological daughter and that he had no idea of where she came from or who her family might be.

The Forgotten Garden is a story of Nell’s life through multiple sets of eyes during multiple time periods. First, there is Nell’s granddaughter Cassandra, who journeys from Australia to England after Nell’s death, to uncover the truth about Nell’s past (2005, the present of the book). The second set of stories is that of Nell’s own journey to England in 1975, when she attempts to identify her parents and learn about the first few years of her life. Third is set in the early 1900s, following the lives of the Mountrachet family, believed to be Nell’s family. And finally, interwoven in the above, there are short stories from Nell’s book of fairy tales written by The Authoress.

Review/Recommendation: This book was enjoyable throughout, but I really got hooked about halfway through, when I got caught up in the story and started reading at an almost feverish pace. I was thoroughly invested in all of the characters and plot lines, so the switching back and forth between characters and time periods was seamless to me. Additionally, Morton did an excellent job threading the pieces of Nell’s story through each part – showing the reader exactly what happened in the chapter from the early 1900s and then how those particular pieces of the story were brought to light for Nell and/or Cassandra. Amazingly, it felt like the story was packaged into a nice, neat bundle by the end of the book, both satisfying and slightly surprising at exactly how neatly things came together (I actually found myself rewinding the book a bit to make sure everything was covered).

The writing in the book was beautiful; the characters showed depth and evolution. In fact, after finishing the book, I couldn’t stop feeling sad for a couple of the characters. They weren’t the most likeable characters, but their life circumstances evoked such empathy for them. If their life were a bit different or a certain person did not have such a strong influence on those characters, things could have turned out so very differently for them. And no, that sadness didn’t grip me as I read the book but it was something I thought about after I finished it, as I started thinking about writing this review. It’s not often that sentiments about a book stay with me for a little while after finishing, so for that, kudos to Morton!

I gave this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads for two reasons. First, I found the “mystery” a bit predictable – I was pretty easily able to guess the ending, both because it was a bit predictable and because Morton so clearly laid out the clues surrounding Nell’s childhood. Secondly, one piece of the novel left me slightly unsettled as I read it – I was bothered by the strong parallels in several of the fairy tales to other fairy tales and stories that I grew up knowing. I suppose that my feelings about it may be a bit irrational, because so many fairy tales and stories are based on something else, but the parallels were a bit too obvious for me to feel completely comfortable with. That being said, if the fairy tales were absent from the book, I probably would have been curious and wished that they had been included. So it may be an imperfect solution either way.

The Forgotten Garden was an enjoyable read, a great book with which to finish my summer reading.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? If not, you can find this book on Amazon.

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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

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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 #FarmersMarketWeek

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 8 minutes

Yield: 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)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Press shredded zucchini in a clean dishtowel to remove as much liquid as possible. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool before moving to a serving plate.
  6. Bread will keep, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for about 5 days.
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#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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Disclosure

Books n’ Cooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. Some links on Books n’ Cooks may be affiliate links – links books and kitchen supplies that I love and would recommend. 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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