With summer comes an oversized-beach bag of books to read and never enough time to read them all. Someone may end up depending on recommendations from family and friends or the Bestseller Lists. I hope that my blog will become another available resource for you. Also, look for recipe tie-ends with books or season-appropriate recipes.

Romance reads are my favorite, but I like a little substance, a complex plot with complex characters. A new term for this genre is relationship reads. Nora Robert’s Legacy, her popularity and bestseller status always guarantee a runaway hit, tells the story of Adrian Rizzo. Almost murdered by her abusive father, she begins receiving death threats after launching her own line of yoga and workout videos. This eventually leads her back home to Maryland, where she reconnects with her childhood crush. There they search for the truth when the threats escalate to murder.

EXTRA Dressing: Food plays prominently when Adrian returns to Maryland as her grandparents own an Italian restaurant. Their red sauce is a family secret and grandpa tosses pizza dough to everyone’s delight. Grandma gardens too. As Adrian is her own brand, she eats what she talks – healthy. When she snacks, it is not a bag of Doritos. Drinking a Coke is a real treat, even though taboo. All this healthiness got a little bit old. As usual, when food is a feature, I will want what she’s having.

A book I am looking forward to reading is Blush by Jamie Brenner. A novel about three generations of women who discover that the scandalous books of their past may just be the key to saving their family’s future. A family-owned winery and secrets. What’s not to like? I may have to have a glass or two of wine when I read this novel.

Speaking of Blush, I have recently discovered a vinaigrette by the name Brianna’s Blush Vinaigrette that is out of this world on my new favorite summer salad. I thought I would share it with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Summer Blush Salad

Serves 4-6 servings

1 ½ pounds of cooked chicken breasts, sliced on the diagonal (against the grain)

Seasoning for chicken: 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups of spinach

24 oz strawberries, cored and quartered

½ red onion, thinly sliced

12 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Optional: pecan or walnut halves – about ½ cup

1 bottle of Brianna’s Blush Vinaigrette (Schnucks) use according to preference

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, pour olive oil in 9×13 glass dish, place chicken in glass dish and dredge in olive oil. Mix seasonings in small bowl and rub all over each chicken breasts. Bake 15-20 minutes or until chicken reaches 160-170 degrees internal, with clear juices. Let cool, then slice on the diagonal.

In large salad bowl, add spinach, strawberries, red onion, sliced chicken, and feta cheese. Dress and toss salad evenly with vinaigrette.

Julia McDonald is a Reference Library at Kirkwood Public Library since 2007. When not working at the library, she enjoys reading, cooking, and creating recipes. She especially enjoys spoiling her four grandchildren.