I’ve said it a million times, I’ll say it again. ROMANCE BOOKS ARE NOT MY GENRE. However, I have found myself completely captivated the last few weeks by fan favorites such as Get a Life, Chloe Brown, In a Holidaze, and A Princess for Christmas. Because I seem to be on a romance roll, I had to check out Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur because the internet has exploded with positive feedback. Also, BiblioLifestyle (my fave newsletter, bibliophiles you must read it!) chose it for their December Book Club and I love to read along with them.
My GOSH do I have high praises for this book. The story follows Darcy Lowell, an uptight actuary who is set up on a blind date with her younger brother Brendon’s coworker, Elle Jones. Elle is a Twitter famous astrologer who believes in finding her soul mate. After a terrible first date on both ends, Darcy lies to her brother and says her and Elle have fallen for each other so that he gets off her case and stops playing matchmaker. Elle catches on to the lie but agrees to play along. The goal is to convince both their family members that things are going well for them over the holidays and then will call it quits by the end of the year. The lines begin to blur though, and soon Darcy and Elle develop real feelings for each other.
This Rom-Com is fun, quirky, and one of the only romance books I have ever read or even seen that features the love affair of two female-identifying protagonists. I absolutely loved reading about their journey. Representation MATTERS. I hope to see more love stories like this one. I could really paint a picture in my head of who Darcy, Elle and their friends and family were. The characters sprang to life for me. I was especially grateful for how well described the setting was too. The book takes place in Seattle and as someone who loves to travel and is feeling restless due to the pandemic, I was able to travel to Seattle in my mind. Romance lovers, this book is for you.
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
I chose this recipe because it’s one I have been meaning to try and is great for snowy days, just like in the book. This recipe has a bit of a southwest kick to it.
- Serves: 6-8
- Prep time: 15 mins
- Cook time: 35 mins
For the Mashed Potato Topping:
- 6 medium-sized Russet Potatoes, washed and peeled
- 1/3 cup Vegan Butter
- 1 cup Almond Milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Filling:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 package Beyond Beef
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 3.5 cups veggie broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 can of peas
- 1 can of corn
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the potatoes:
- Chop potatoes into cubes- the smaller the better. Place in a large pot and add enough water so that it covers the potatoes.
- Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it boils, reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. This should be about 15-20 minutes.
- Once tender, drain in a colander.
- Once the potatoes have drained and cooled for a minute, place them in a mixing bowl. Add the vegan butter and mash them. Slowly add the almond milk. Mash until desired consistency.
- Add salt and pepper then set aside.
For the filling:
- Set the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Then add the onions and carrots. Cook until tender, 10-15 mins. Then add the garlic for one minute, until fragrant.
- Crumble the Beyond Beef into the skillet, adding to the mix. Stir for 5 minutes until the beef begins to brown.
- Add the chili powder, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper until the whole pan is coated.
- Add the tomato paste, wine, vegetable broth, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 mins. The mix will begin to reduce.
- While this happens, mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl until the cornstarch has dissolved.
- Add the cornstarch and water to the skillet and mix for 5 minutes. The liquid will thicken.
- Once thick, add the peas and corn. Mix well for two minutes.
- In a large casserole dish, add the filling. Then, spread the mash potatoes on top and cover the entire dish. Sprinkle with salt, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.
- Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to brown and the edges are bubbling.
- Let stand for 15 minutes. If you eat it right away, the consistency will be more like a pot pie. It is still very delicious, but let it cool if you like a firmer consistency.
- Enjoy with your favorite greens (we did brussels!)