Misfits, shadowy libraries, and enchilada sauce

Reading and eating: two of my favorite things, as you know well by now. Here’s a roundup of what I’ve been sticking my nose and my fork into, respectively.



I’ve been wanting to read more YA fiction ever since I read “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, which I was hooked on from the first page. I kept seeing the title “Eleanor and Park” popping up everywhere, so I thought I’d give it a try. It’s a story about two teenagers, both misfits in their own ways, who fall in love despite the facts that it tarnishes the boy’s reputation and the girl is not allowed to have a boyfriend. Not too original. I kept reading to see if the conflict would deepen, but now I’m about 50 pages from the end, and I’m still reading about how much they miss each other at night, how nervous they are to touch each other, and how much the popular girls hate her. On a positive note, this book will eventually have a vibrant movie soundtrack since 80’s punk music is one force that brings Eleanor and Park together.


A friend of mine gave me this book about a year ago, and I’m finally getting around to reading it. The story is set in Barcelona in the years following the Spanish Civil War. A young boy chooses a book, “The Shadow of the Wind,” from a secret library that his father introduces him to, unaware that the book and its author have special significance to a number of people. It has elements of both a mystery and a thriller. I’m about a quarter of the way through it, and it’s holding my interest. Brevity is not the book’s strength, and the chapters can be long winded at times, but the writing is wonderful. It’s also surprisingly funny. I’m reading this one out loud with Marcus, my husband, and we’re having fun with it.


This chipotle chicken and white bean chili was delicious with its spicy and smoky flavors, even though I cheated and used a jalapeño in place of chipotle chiles. Perfect for cold weather. I served it over rice for more “bulk.”

Technically, I didn’t really make these butternut squash black bean enchiladas because I used a combo of sweet potatoes and acorn squash in place of butternut squash and skipped the homemade enchilada sauce and used store bought BUT they inspired a really yummy dish!

I cheated again and vegan-ized these brownie cookies by replacing the butter with Earth Balance and the eggs with two bananas. I also left out the granulated sugar and additional chocolate chips, and they were still very sweet and quite a pleasure to eat. Bake at the same temp for 22-25 minutes.


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