Summer Pasta, Family Time & Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

July 30th, 2014 Kimberly Feature, Spotlight 89 Comments

30th Jul


It’s Recipe & A Book Recommendation and today we have a delicious summer pasta salad and Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf. Little Mercies released on June 24, 2014. It is a powerful, riveting read and I will share my thoughts with you in October. It reminds us to value the ones we hold dear and the importance of “family time.” When my children were small we began a tradition on Friday evenings that we all have fond memories of. Today I will share ours with you, and maybe you can create nights like this with your family.



Friday Nights when the kids were small was always hectic. We were tired from the work week and our kids were excited about two days without school. My husband and I value meal time and made it a daily habit to break bread as a family. Friday nights we prepared simple meals; children’s favorites and ordered pizza once or twice a month. One of my favorite summer dishes then and now is Pasta Salad. It’s easy and allows me to spend more time unwinding with my family.


summer pasta salad
Summer Pasta Salad
This salad can be modified a hundred ways based on the season and the items readily on hand. When I prepare this as a main dish I add diced grilled chicken, summer sausage or shrimp. For vegetarians, you can add a variety of beans.I will give you the basic recipe and you can modify it to your family’s tastes. When selecting the pasta I tried to use shapes such as rotelle or bow ties.



1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed( to taste preference)
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup tomato juice
3 cups of tomato chopped
2 green peppers chopped
1-2 sliced cucumber (depends on size)
1 lb grilled chicken or cleaned/cooked mini shrimp
1 pkg. (16 oz) pasta.

Instructions: While pasta is cooking according to directions dice, clean and prepare veggies. To save time I would use  leftover chicken or buy pre-grilled chicken or shrimp. When pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Slowly mix in all other ingredients, cover and  place in the fridge to cool for two hours allowing flavors to be absorbed. This dish can be made the night before as well.

Caffeinated version of “Family Fun Night”

Friday evenings after dinner we would all gather in the family room and play board games. The kids took turns selecting the game and then afterwards we would gather around to watch a movie and nibble on popcorn. Each week there was some variation and a different child choose the movie. We even pitched a tent occasionally and read books by flashlight. It was the prefect way to end the week, and reconnect with each other.  The kids loved it since we allowed them to stay up past bedtime. We enjoyed the added benefit of them sleeping in past 7 am on Saturday morning. Without even realizing it we created some wonderful memories and taught our children the importance of family, sharing and quality time.

Book Recommendation


Little MerciesLittle Mercies
by Heather Gudenkauf
Published June 24, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: fiction, thriller
Purchase: Amazon

In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences…
Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for. Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another. A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.


Read an excerptLittle Mercies Chapter 1

Book Trailer



Little Lies
Little Lies
Published: March 14,2014
Genre: Suspense
Purchase: Amazon  .99 cents

In this riveting prequel novella to her novel Little Mercies, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf explores how even the smallest lies can have far-reaching consequences. When the body of a woman is discovered in a local park―with her bewildered four-year-old son sitting beside her―veteran social worker Ellen Moore is called in to assist in the police investigation. Positioned beneath a statue of Leto, the goddess of motherhood, the crime is weighted with meaning and, Ellen discovers, remarkably similar to one from a decade past. Ellen’s professional duty is to protect the child, but she’s not equipped to contend with a killer. As she races to connect the dots, she knows her time is running out. And the stakes are high: if she fails, another mother is sure to make the ultimate sacrifice.

This was well done and I will be sharing my thoughts in September with you.

About the Author

Heather Gudenkauf_PhotoCreditMorganHawthorne

Heather Gudenkauf is an Edgar Award nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Heather lives in Iowa with her husband and children. In her free time Heather enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and running. *Photo credit Morgan Hawthorne*



Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

89 Responses to “Summer Pasta, Family Time & Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf”

  1. sherry fundin

    I recently had family in from out of state. We toured the beach, ate out, went fishing, hung out at the pool and enjoyed each other. It was a wonderful time! I love pasta and the salad looks delicious!

  2. Laura Plus Books

    I love love love pasta so I’m definitely going to try out this recipe! And that just sounds so extremely cute. It’s definitely something I’d want to do when I have a family. 😀

  3. Ginny

    Your recipe sounds delicious. I’m a big fan of pasta salad so I’m definitely going to give this one a try with summer sausage….sounds yummy. Thanks for the recipe and the chance to win.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I enjoy it too, it is light and refreshing especially when it is hot 🙂

  4. Kay

    I love a good pasta salad! 🙂 Little Mercies sounds like a good book. Great post!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I have only read these two but based on those I totally agree. I am looking forward to reading more.

  5. Anita Yancey

    I love Heather’s books, and all of these sound so good. I would enjoy all of them. The pasta salad sounds yummy. Thanks for having the giveaway.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Good luck Anita, I loved the new books and hope you get to read them!

  6. Jennifer Ingman

    I can never have too many pasta salad recipes! Thank you for the recipe and for featuring Heather’s books. I will read these before the summer is over!! xo

  7. Sharon - Obsession with Books

    The book sounds wonderful & thanks for sharing your family memories.

    The pasta salad looks delicious! we eat a lot of salads here in the summer so I’ll definitely give this one a go, thanks Kimba for sharing 🙂

  8. Michelle

    Mmm this sounds really good! I’ll definitely have to try it out. My mom makes some awesome pasta salad, so I’ll see if she’ll try this one too.

  9. Lark

    Love your pasta salad recipe (well, minus the tomatoes, to which I’m allergic.) And your family Friday nights sound wonderful! I wish we’d done that more. . . though we did often do family movie nights, and games when our daughter was younger. The game nights kind of faded out once she was spending five nights a week at the dance studio, though.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Enjoy Finley, the possibilities are endless with pasta salad.

  10. Tressa

    I don’t know that I could handle the read – might break my heart too much. I’d have to read it when I’m really, really happy and away from the kids or with a happy book waiting in the wings. We do pasta salad quite a bit too, especially with some rolls. 🙂 Our together time is on Sundays when we relax and play games and read together. I think it’s definitely worth setting aside time to be with family.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I will be sharing a review this fall, and hopefully you can determine from my opinions whether this will leave your heart shredded.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      You can add any type of bean or even hard boiled eggs for protein Anna.

  11. Giselle

    Dude! So funny I was just updating my recipe list (I have an app fro the iPad) I love tring new recipes and this one sounds delicious!! Plus I love anything with garlic 😀

    • kimbacaffeinate

      So do I Giselle..I even love spreading it on bread with a garlic butter!

  12. Diana Leigh

    Thanks for sharing the recipe, Kimba! I love pasta salad, especially the healthier version with lots of veggies. The book sounds very good too! It’s gotten a lot of great buzz – definitely on my wish list!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I tend to go heavy with the fresh veggies too Diana.

  13. Stephanie Faris

    I love that idea for family night. Families don’t spend enough time together anymore. Everyone’s on their mobile devices, ignoring each other. Board games are a great way to bond!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      We love board games and have an incredible collection (although as the kids leave the nest I am noticing some are missing..LOL)

  14. Katherine

    I have tons of tomatoes and cucumbers right now so this recipe looks perfect! We don’t have many of weekly traditions but we do seem to spend quite a bit of time all together and it normally involves food. It’s been kind of entertaining to see what the older kids really remember fondly from their childhood. It’s very rarely the big ticket items!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I so agree, when my kids recount their childhoods their favorite memories never really involve those big ticket items. Makes me smile 🙂

  15. Wendy Darling

    I love pasta salads for picnics! They’re so great and packable and your recipe sounds delicious. I think I might try that with sausage sometime. The book sounds like a lovely summer read, too.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love it too Wendy and by adding a meat you can make it the main course.

  16. Angela Adams

    The book trailer is awesome, thanks for the post. And, thanks for sharing your pasta salad recipe…simple and easy, that’s my kind of cooking (smile!).

  17. kimbacaffeinate

    I am sorry Kara, I hope when you start a family you are able to build some traditions. Good luck with the giveaway and I agree pasta salad is yummy.

  18. Kara S

    I hate to be the party pooper, but my parents are dead and my only sibling lives very far from where I do…so we don’t do a whole helluva lot. I do love a good pasta salad though! And I’d love this book bundle more! 😉

    Thanks for this — K

  19. Heidi

    A good pasta salad is hard to beat in summer. I have never tried mine with shrimp or chicken. I was scared to read this one as I didn’t want to get my heart torn out. I think Candace reviewed it though and liked it.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      They are really good Heidi, I like her writing style and the way she draws you in.

  20. Melissa (Books and Things)

    My mom used to make those salads and on a hot day, it was perfect. I also love that you made memories and found a way to sleep in. Total WIN. 🙂 We didn’t have set traditions but we did always eat dinner together. I guess the 4th with the neighbor’s kids was a big thing. Miss those days. 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yep, I miss them too Melissa. I think that because we moved away from our extended families we worked really hard to make family memories. We always ate together as a family and even now that my kids have left the nest- they still come over to break bread at least once a week.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Reviews have been amazing for both the prequel and novel. She draws you in from the first page Tyler. Hmm, maybe you can surprise your wife and cook dinner 🙂

  21. Jess

    I love pasta salad and in the summer there are so many delicious veggies that can be thrown in. I haven’t made it in ages- so thanks for the reminder.

    Your family nights sound like fun. I love that the kids got to pick board games and you spent so much time having fun and relaxing together. I don’t have kids, but my fiance and I enjoy reading together. Sometimes we read aloud a book that we are learning something from (to live in the moment, a meaningful passage to one of us etc.) and then we discuss it. It is a nice way to relax together. We also have Friday nights as our night. We sometimes play chess, swim, read, or play a game. It is important to make time to connect with those we love. 🙂

    I have seen Heather’s books around and they both sound great. Wishing her the best of luck! 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      My hubby and I do that as well Jess. Well, I read aloud to him..a lot! When we were newly weds we read the Hobbit and Lord of the Ring series to each other.

  22. fishgirl182

    I never make pasta salad but I actually really liked it. This looks like a fun and easy recipe that I could whip up on a busy night.

  23. Melliane

    The recipe looks yummy, it’s always perfect to eat something like that during this period. I didn’t know the book but thanks for the discovery!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Glad I could share the novel with you. They are very good! Hope you try the salad and book Melliane 🙂

  24. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I love pasta salads…and Heather Gudenhauf’s books. I think I have all of her work, and I didn’t think it was possible to find a “new favorite” among them all (which I loved!); but Little Mercies is going on my list for Favorites of the Year.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      So glad you liked it Laurel, I even enjoyed the novella Little Lies. I will be picking up more of her books

  25. Candace

    I forgot about that pasta recipe. I have made something similar in the past. I’m the only one in my family who will eat it but it’s perfect for pot lucks and stuff.
    I’m looking forward to your review!

  26. Kristine Hall

    As the kids grow up and fly the nest, sometimes to other countries, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to do anything together. We stay connected as best we can with Skype and Facetime, and whenever any parts of the whole are together, we gather at the grandparents’ house. Time together, just talking and being physically in the same place, is still the best activity.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed, all but one has left my nest, but we do dinner once or twice a week and went away as a family for vacation .

  27. Rita

    I am reading Little Mercies now and love it! I bought the e-book though, and the other two I read but do not own, so I hope it is okay that I entered to have 3 print copies of these to re-read. I also loved the other Gudenkauf title that I read last year about the school shooting. She writes great stories about families and how they are able to pull together & survive hard times.

    About your family traditions: As a child myself, we always had pizza on Friday night so my mother could have a break after working all week. My daughter has movie night and popcorn with her kids one night a week since she works nights and wants to have a bedtime tradition with them on her nights off. The other night they all sit and read separate books, but together, on the couch.

    I make a pasta dish similar to this, but yours sounds so good too! I usually throw in some protein like you did, some cooked chicken, hard-boiled egg, chopped spinach etc. Thanks for this wonderful feature!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I have added all of those to my pasta salad at one time or another Rita, specifically when I make it the main course. Yes, you can enter for physical copies! Movie night and reading is wonderful. I read Little Lies and will share a review of both books in the next few months. I was impressed by her story-telling and will be reading more by her!

  28. Carrie

    Yummy pasta recipe. I’m making that this summer for sure! Those books sound really good too. I’ll be honest. I’ve never heard of this author, but I’m going to put her on my list to keep an eye out for. The look in the little boy’s eyes on the cover of Little Lies is incredibly haunting.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I will be sharing reviews of both and they are really good Carrie!

  29. erinf1

    grilling! My parents love steak and grilling so it’s win/win 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Nom.. I love steak too with nice twice-baked potato and some grilled asparagus!

  30. Debbie Haupt

    Kimba, thanks for sharing this recipe and for showcasing Heather’s upcoming October release it’s sitting in my inbox right now. I don’t know if you’ve read Heather’s other novels but they were both eyeopening knuckle-biters too. Can’t wait to see your thoughts on on of my favorite authors from my favorite publisher.
    Plus did you know that Heather is deaf? She’s overcome much adversity and is a fascinating, amazing woman.
    Thanks for this GREAT post I can’t wait to make this recipe too!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Fascinating Debbie, I just finished Little Lies and for a novella it was well done and suspenseful.

  31. Grace

    I love a good pasta salad. I’ll be making this one soon. Thanks for sharing your Family Fun Night memories. They’re always so special!

  32. Carl

    One thing that we do together almost every day is take ourselves and the dog out for a walk to a park or down by the ocean. It’s a great way to chat in a relaxing place and get a little exercise together.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      That is nice Carl. I l walking and when the kids were small we would bike ride or push them in the wagon.

  33. Nick

    Pasta salads are a favorite of mine! This one sounds like it’s easy to make. It might be a useful recipe for when I’m busy with school work and need a quick eat.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed and you can toss items you have readily on hand into it.

  34. Jenea

    Love pasta salad! Our family night is either games and card games, so I can kick their butts in Uno. None of them like to play me with. lol… Or we rent movies and stay up till we can’t any more. 🙂 Thanks for the book recommendations.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Good times Jenea..and yeah we played Uno and the Uno that shoots cards out too!

  35. Mary

    That’s my idea of a fabulous family fun night. Because reading is fun! Especially by flashlight.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      We read all of the Potter books like that as a family. As the kids got older they took turns reading too..although they liked the voices my hubby and I used for the characters.

  36. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I love pasta salads! I make something called Greek salad, which is similar in some ways, but it has hard boiled eggs and cheese cubes and a few other things. And plenty of lemon juice. I’ll try this one for sure, maybe even tonight.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I have added hard boil eggs to mine and cheese. Honestly everything can get tossed in there!

  37. Red Iza

    The pasta looks good ! I sometimes replace zucchini with cucumbers, they’re good cooked too 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I do too, and add whatever seasonal veggies I have on hand. I don’t think you can mess it up by adding different things.

  38. Silvia

    That kind of pasta is something I’m sure my family would greatly appreciate eating! I’ll make sure to send them the recipe, thanks Kimberly! 🙂 Also, I’m glad you had such a lovely quality time with your family!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Silvia it is light and refreshing perfect for summer:)

  39. Trish

    I love that family time was such a priority and it sounds fun too. Great memories 🙂

    And I like the idea of using tomatoe juice in the pasta salad, I’ve never tried that but I will. It’s one of my fav quick dinners (and what I always bring to parties) and yay the leftovers take care of lunch the next day!

    Finally, this book is already on my radar, I think it’s one I’d love.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The salad is refreshing, and I love making it the main course with added meat or seafood. The book is well done and I hope you try it!

  40. Christy

    Mmmm yes! I love pasta salads so much. Aw, and what fun you all must’ve had. Maybe you can start the tradition with the next generation.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was fun, I hope my kids make traditions like that with theirs..not sure I could stay awake..LOL