Sep 102014

You know when you are reading a book that is so good you can’t stop reading and end up staying way too late? I both love and hate those type of books. I love them because the writing is so good it transport me into that world and I don’t want to put it down. I hate those books, too, because I end up telling myself, One more chapter, and then I stay up WAY too late and regret it in the morning!


1. The Troop by Nick Cutter

I heard this author on the Joe Rogan podcast and he was very smart and articulate and that made me want to check out his book. I wasn’t disappointed. The story was dark and foreboding from the start–the perfect horror location, an isolated island. The concept was a fascinating twist on the zombie genre. It was kind of like a cross between the movie Cabin Fever, the book Lord of the Flies, and The Walking Dead. I give it 4 out of 5 stars because the book was VERY gross. I had to skim a few sections that were just too much for me. Other than that, the writing was really good and it read like a movie.

troop 2
2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

It definitely reads like a YA book but it’s still an enjoyable read from an adult standpoint, just keep that in mind and suspend disbelief. :)

3. Dust by Patricia Cornwell

This is part of the Kay Scarpetta series and I’ve picked up books here and there and unfortunately never really read them in order. As a result I feel like I’m out of the loop on different story lines that weave through each book. Despite that, this book was really compelling and couldn’t put it down. It was longer than I’m used to reading and I felt like I was in their world for a very long time, not in a bad way. I loved the main characters and this book was good!

4. Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr

If you haven’t checked out Nevada Barr, I strongly encourage you to give her a try. I love her Anna Pigeon book series and have read all of them. This is the most recent. Start at the beginning of the series–you won’t be disappointed! Anna Pigeon is a park ranger and each book takes place in a different National Park. Action/adventure/mystery happens in each book. This one didn’t disappoint. It reminded me a little of that movie with Kevin Bacon–The River Wild. I stayed up WAY too late finishing this book!

5. The Pines (Wayward Pines Trilogy 1) by Blake Crouch

This book was on my “to read” list for awhile and when I appeared on the new Amazon “unlimited” list I snatched it up. I started reading it and then got hooked. I read 65% of the book in one sitting. I just couldn’t put it down and my eyelids were drooping and it was way past my bedtime and I finally stopped for the night. The book is gripping, frustrating, kept me guessing and I liked it a lot. The ending was…interesting…I don’t want to give it away and since it’s a trilogy I’m curious how it’s going to continue. But I definitely recommend this!

6. Wayward (Wayward Pines Trilogy 2) by Blake Crouch

This is the sequel to The Pines. I loved the first book and the second one was even better. It was more “meaty”, really fleshing out the characters and story. It was exciting and it didn’t take very long to read at all. My only complaint would be that books nowadays seem to always be trilogies…you know, building your brand, try and make more money with more books, make the books into TV shows or movies…but I really feel like this series could be 2 books. He should have reworked it to combine book 2 with book 1. It would just flow better in my opinion.

7. The Last Town (Wayward Pines Trilogy 3) by Blake Crouch

This was the conclusion of the trilogy and it held up against the first two books. It was exciting, kept me engaged and trying to guess the ending. The ending wasn’t predictable and I wouldn’t say it was entirely satisfying but it was good. Great series! I am super excited that this series is being made into a TV show and that it’s got some good actors in it, too.


I’ve read some great books this summer! Hope you guys enjoy some of these. I have  a few more great ones to review, so stay tuned. And as always, you can friend me on :)

Sep 092014

More zucchini…zucchini…zucchini! Everywhere! Recently Michael and I received a wedding gift from a very lovely friend who sadly can’t make it to the wedding. One of the items was a mini muffin baking pan. I was really excited to use it (and I was also doing some research on making some “dog” muffins that Bella can eat). But I had so much zucchini I decided to make some human muffins first and use up some zucchini. Here is the recipe:

Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins (vegan)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Adapted From:


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (vegetable or canola oil may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk (coconut, soy, rice, cow's milk may be substituted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas (about 2 small/medium bananas)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded zucchini, measured loosely laid in cup (not packed in or squeezed; about 1 medium zucchini, I didn't peel it)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • about 11 teaspoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips divided, about 1 teaspoon for each muffin (regular-sized chips may be substituted)


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a Non-Stick 12-Cup Regular Muffin Pan very well with floured cooking spray or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the bananas and whisk to combine.
  4. Before adding the zucchini, put it in a paper towel and squeeze tightly for about 10 seconds to remove some moisture. After squeezing, you should have about 3/4 cup of compacted shreds. Add zucchini to bowl and stir.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, optional salt and stir until just combined; don't overmix.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop turn batter out into prepared pan. Each cavity should be filled to about 3/4 full, but not exceeding or batter could overflow.
  7. Sprinkle the top of each muffin generously with mini chocolate chips, about 1 teaspoon each.
  8. Bake at 350F for 12 minutes (for mini muffins) or until muffins are set, domed, golden, and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
  9. Allow muffins to cool in pan for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until they've firmed up and are cool enough to handle. It's normal for muffin tops to be flatten as they cool.
  10. Muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
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I used the recipe as a base and adapted it. So the changes I made…

I used real milk (1%) instead of almond. I also used the Trader Joe’s gluten free flour. To make this a little healthier and reduce the amount of sugar,  I made another substitute. When you bake with Splenda it’s a 50-50 mix. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you use 1/2 cup of Splenda instead. For this recipe I halved the sugar and used splenda and I also included 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. I probably could have skipped the Splenda/Sugar altogether honestly.


I wanted to use the mini muffin tray, which was 24 mini muffins but I had a ton of extra batter after filling those so I did a few regular sized muffins as well. Because of that it kind of made the calorie count impossible to calculate but I’d say that the mini muffins are probably around 75 calories each and the regular muffins are around 100 calories, maybe a little less.


These muffins were awesome! And addicting! And because they are so tiny, bitesize really, it’s easy to just keep popping them in your mouth. The muffins were definitely DIFFERENT than any I’ve ever done. They were very moist and gooey which I attribute to the addition of the applesauce. I think maybe using the melted coconut oil also did that. I’ve never baked with coconut oil before. It gave it a richer flavor I think. Each muffin had maybe 2-3 chocolate chips in it and so the chocolate flavor wasn’t overpowering at all. Just the perfect amount of sweetness.


I would say that these tasted more like banana muffins than zucchini. Every once in awhile I’d get a bite of zucchini and really taste it but the most dominant flavor was the banana. These were great and I will make them again for parties. I ended up taking a bunch to my book club group and then I took some to a friend’s house the next day when Michael and I went over for dinner.


The muffins were a hit at the book club. I really, really liked them, too. They had such a different texture than I’m used to with muffins but it was pleasant. I think this is a great “base” muffin recipe. You could make some really interesting alterations…like maybe shredded carrots instead of zucchini or maybe dried cranberries instead of chocolate chips. I think the mini muffins were too small for nuts, but maybe with bigger muffins it would work well. Depending on how you end up changing the ingredients in the recipe, these muffins could be dessert or could easily be a breakfast treat.

I’ve never baked with coconut oil before and I have to say, I kind of love it! Will definitely be using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil in more future baking experiments.