REVIEW: November Favorites

Happy December, my friends! I hope all of you who celebrated had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a cozy gathering at my parents with a 100% vegan feast. Happy bellies all around and no turkey was harmed. At the end of October, we “adopted” a turkey, again, via Farm Sanctuary. Willow chose Pamela…

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For those unfamiliar with this awesome project, please visit Farm Sanctuary’s website, or click HERE

We went through a crazy snow storm a couple of days before the holiday where over 14″ of snow hit our area in just 24 hours. Then came the incredibly cold temps – nights were in the single digits and the daytime highs were in the 20’s – lots of time indoors. We managed to play in the snow as the winter storm was happening and Willow had the best time ever. We’ve been staying warm with lots of layers, plenty of tea and an abundance of cuddles. Let the countdown to Christmas begin!

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Tea time with Willow is the best!

NOVEMBER FAVORITES: 

I only have one product to share with you this month…

Chocolate Chile Pecan Mini Miracle Tarts >> Hail Merry >> If you love chocolate and spicy, this is perfect for you! Rich, creamy and fudgy with a buttery crust and decent heat level. We found these at Whole Foods on sale and I’d love to eventually try my hand at recreating this.

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Willow has been on a huge bird kick…reading about them, watching them and learning ALL about them. My dad made and hung up a couple more feeders in our yard and one of them is placed right by our dining window – so we can watch them up close. Thanks to a couple books and this new app, Willow can identify at least 10_12 local birds by name. Here is a free app that we love and it not only helps to you identify them by size and color, but you can also learn their various calls/songs.

IMG_6994RECIPES WE TRIED AND LOVED:

As I’m sure many of you can relate, this whole Daylight Savings thing messes with photo opportunities! We’ll make these really fantastic meals at dinner time, but by the time we eat, it’s already dark outside. So, I apologize for either the lack of photos or poor quality.

20 Minute Vegan Alfredo >> The Vegan 8 >> I’m a sucker for any new creamy sauce recipe that surfaces and so when my friend, Brandi, created a simple pasta sauce, I had to make it! I had everything on hand, except for brown rice flour…all I had was sweet rice flour and because I couldn’t wait to make it, I subbed it in. The flavor was wonderful and Willow and I each gobbled it up so fast and went back for seconds. Next time I’ll be sure to have the brown rice flour to get the texture just as Brandi intended it. This sauce is incredibly easy to whip up, creamy, and I foresee some other ways to use it…other than for noodles. Just, YUM.

Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Chip Cookies >> The Vegan 8 >> Not gonna lie, I almost cried when I pulled these out of the oven…they looked and smelled SOOOOOO good and I couldn’t eat a single one. Darn oat sensitivity! Willow, on the other hand, went crazy for them. She helped me make these and licked the mixing bowl clean. Kid goes nuts for cookies, especially chocolate chip, so I had to give these a whirl. Since I couldn’t eat them, I split the batch and gave half to my parents and saved the rest for Josh and Willow. Everyone raved about them! My dad said they were the best cookies.

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***We tried a decent number of recipes from Teff Love, but rather than sharing them in this post, I’m putting together a separate review.***

Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder >> Crazy Vegan Kitchen >> With colder weather upon us, our little family started implementing Soup Saturday – where we’ll try a new soup or make an old favorite. One of the new soups we tried during the month of November was this delicious Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder. I loved this soup for so many reasons! First of all, the very minimal use of oil made this less heavy compared to other chowders I’ve had. Second, no cashews! Don’t get me wrong, I love cashews, but I was overdoing it there for a while and throwing cashews into just about every creamy base. They can get pricey and as one of my dear friends once said, “they’re like the junk food of nuts.” I’ve cut back over the last month or so and don’t use them as often as I once did. But back to this soup! Where it called for flour, I used Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose flour and used unsweetened almond milk. When Willow took her first bite she exclaimed, “It’s cheesy!!!” I agreed with her and I was so surprised considering it contained no nuts (minus the almond milk) and no nutritional yeast. Incredibly creamy, comforting and perfect for a chilly day. We’ll definitely be making this again! I wish I had a photo to share with you, but we gobbled this up so fast that I forgot to take a picture. You’ll just have to go check out Amrita’s post for the colorful photos!

Homemade Extra Sweet Applesauce >> Feasting on Fruit >> When I read Natalie’s blog post and saw the photos of this recipe, I knew just what I was going to do with some of the apples I had just purchased. I love this season for the apples alone! So many new varieties this year – it’s somewhat overwhelming. This applesauce recipe called to me for a few reasons: (1) the chunky factor, (2) lots of cinnamon, (3) the combo of fruit sweetened and coconut sugar. Our house smelled SO good and I immediately started brainstorming other ways to use this delicious applesauce. I enjoyed it on its own and also paired it with some plain yogurt. I’d like to try it as a pie filling next! While it was wonderful the day we made it, I found it was even better the second day as the flavors had time to sit.

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Freezer Peanut Butter Chips or Magic Shell >> Cake Maker to the Stars >> One word. DANGEROUS. Holy moly, these little bites of goodness are addicting. Two or three turns into a handful and before you know it, they’re gone. I made these for Willow, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I ate some, too…ok, half. I stayed strong and made them last an entire weekend and then made another batch. The good thing is that they’re stored in the freezer so I tend to forget about them…typing this reminded me that there’s still some left in our freezer, but not for long. Obviously, if you’re on a low-fat or oil-free “diet” these are not for you, but I will tell you that you are missing out. Since Willow’s naturopath suggested adding more coconut oil in her diet, I’d say these are a fun way to do just that! Oh, and Kittee also used this recipe to make Peanut Butter and Jam Freezer Cups! I haven’t made them yet, but I’m positive they’re amazing.

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Baked Fries with Garlic Sauce  >> Vegan Richa >> She had me at potatoes, but then sealed the deal with garlic AND TAHINI!!!! I have my sweet friends (Julie and Diana) to thank for their rave reviews on this dish…which lead me to quickly add it to our menu one week. Since they both loved this, I made sure to double the recipe for leftovers later. That sauce was fantastic and since I failed to have cooked chickpeas on hand, I added extra tahini and LOOOOOOOOVED it. The extra minced garlic on top was heavenly. I adore Richa’s recipes (both via blog and cookbook) because they’re pretty much a guaranteed win.

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Chickpea Curry >> Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen Cookbook >> Holy smokes!!! The night we made this, I was SO cold – Josh and Willow run really warm, so rather than cranking the heat for my benefit, I layer up…and eat lots of warm, cozy foods. The first bite of this dish made my eyes pop out. SO SPICY!!! We’ve made quite a few variations of chickpea curry in the past, but so far, this is my favorite! I might dial back on the spice next time, but other than that, this was absolutely delicious!

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Quinoa “Cinnamon Toast” Cereal with Toasted Pecans >> Yum Universe cookbook >> With my oat sensitivity, I’ve explored new breakfast options and have fallen in love with this recipe! So incredibly simple to make and very filling. We cooked up a big batch of quinoa the night before and used it for a few days to make this warming meal. I love the fresh ground cardamom in this recipe, along with the cinnamon. On a couple occasions, I added a splash of fresh, raw hazelnut milk to make it creamy. Absolutely delicious! If you don’t already own Yum Universe, you need to!

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup >> Yum Universe cookbook >> I’m loving our “Soup Saturdays” because it has introduced some comforting new recipes that we’ve had on our list for quite some time. This one was absolutely wonderful! So good that we had to add it to our Thanksgiving menu.

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Caramelized Onion Mushroom and Artichoke Quiche >> Yum Universe >> We had some difficulty deciding what to make for our Thanksgiving main dish – we wanted something different than our past meals and since this recipe had been on our “t0-make” list for a quite some time, we gave it a go. Oh. My. Love at first bite. The buttery crust was amazing and the combo of the mushrooms, onions and artichokes was absolutely perfect. I would add less salt next time around, but other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. Miss Willow wouldn’t eat it because of the veggie selection, but I might make her one with broccoli and bell peppers.

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Broccoli Wings >> Plant Strong Vegan >> We always have broccoli on hand because it’s Willow’s favorite vegetable, so when she requested broccoli with dinner, I whipped up a batch of Margaret’s Broccoli Wings! I didn’t add any sauce to them, but simply sprayed them with coconut oil cooking spray. I love how crispy these were and the flavor was perfect.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cream Pie >> Plant Strong Vegan >> As soon as Margaret posted this recipe, I knew I had to make it for Thanksgiving because it was exactly what we were looking for…a cream pie! This recipe also won because it didn’t call for oats or soy (like some of the other variations out there)…which has been a bit of a challenge these days. Verdict…delicious! While putting the pie together, Willow kept eating the filling, so I knew it was going to be good. Thumbs up from the entire family!

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BOOKS I’VE ENJOYED:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown >> I borrowed this book from my local library (was on a waiting list for months) and I’m kicking myself for not buying it in the first place. Brown discusses the term Wholehearted Living, which is “a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.” Stop comparing yourself (and your worth) to others. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in societal “norms” and create an image of who we think we need to be. Just because I don’t have thousands of blog or Instagram followers does not make me any less worthy – it does not mean my work is any less important than the next person. We’re also a society focused on to-do lists and getting each item/task checked off – even if it means depriving ourselves of sleep or time with the people we love. It’s hard for us to hit the pillow at night and be OK with our lists unfinished –  What really hit home was when Brown discussed how so many of us equate our worth with reaching certain goals. Whether it’s losing a certain number of pounds or earning a higher wage. Each and every one of us is worthy NOW. I absolutely loved this book and recommend it to everyone!

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The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey >> I had to take breaks from this book because it was kind of creepy…ok, a lot creepy and I definitely had to follow it up with something lighthearted before going to bed. But I actually really enjoyed it. Very intense zombie thriller that had me holding my breath while reading it.

A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson >> I took my time with this book as it was very powerful and thought provoking. I purchased this book via Amazon after Eden passed away because it was one that she read a few times a year – I needed to see for myself what it was all about. While reading this, I understood why she kept it at arms length – it brought so much to light. For me, this book has opened my eyes to relationships, inner struggles and just how powerful love is. It has changed the way I look at myself and others – to be more compassionate, to forgive. There were quite a few pages that had me in tears because Williamson’s words resonated very deeply and I was able to see how I could do better…be a better example to my daughter and help bring more peace to this world. This made me aware of the anger and pain I was holding onto from people who had hurt me in the past and also judging them for their behavior. Choosing to let go, to forgive, release judgment and open my heart to love has improved my state of mind and brought peace to my soul. I choose happiness and love over sadness and fear. A beautiful book that I will read over and over again.

Thanks for stopping by!

Love and Light

11 thoughts on “REVIEW: November Favorites

  1. I had to comment, even though I’m usually a lurker, to tell you how much I enjoy your monthly favorites. I found recipes I MUST try, books I really want to read and made up my mind to (finally) buy a copy of “Yum Universe”. Thanks for sharing such great stuff!

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    • You seriously made my day! Thank you so much!! I enjoy putting these monthly posts together, despite them being a bit more work. You will absolutely LOVE Yum Universe!! Any books you stumble upon that you’d recommend, please let me know!! ❤ Good to hear from you, Terri!! xo

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    • It’s an awesome recipe!!! I wish I could share it with you, but it’s not my own recipe. It’s from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen cookbook 🙂

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    • Thank you, Sophia!!!! It was definitely a good month for eating 🙂 Isn’t that turkey so adorable? This is our second year participating in that Farm Sanctuary event…it will be our family tradition for many years to come ❤

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  2. Wow where to begin! Um peanut butter chips (or shall I say delicious hunky chunks!) sound amazing! I’m imaging them baked into a cookie too, yum. Your baked fries look like something straight out of a restaurant kitchen, and the quiche looks even more delicious now that I see the whole thing! All the Yum Universe dishes looked fantastic, I love that you actually use your cookbooks. I’m terrible about looking at them and never trying things. And yay for Pamela!!! Willow sipping tea has to be the cutest thing ever, but I realize I say that at every picture of her haha 😀 Happy December Mandy!

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    • Hahaha!!!! I absolutely love that you called them hunky chunks! They are so delicious! Kittee said she was thinking of adding them to some raw cookies…I think I need to try that! They melt super easily, which is why they have to be stored in the freezer.
      We love cookbooks!!! I actually enjoy reading them like I do regular books…I love being able to hold the recipe right there in my hands and take notes in them about any adjustments or what I’d try differently. Yum Universe is definitely one of our favorite cookbooks! The entire book is gluten-free and soy-free!
      Willow is obsessed with tea! More specifically, turmeric tea…she has her own special tea cup that was my grandmother’s and you should see how dainty she is with it!
      Happy December, Natalie!! Always good to hear from you ❤

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  3. Um, okay friend, I’m dying here over all this amazing delicious food!! Wow, that thanksgiving Yum Universe dish looks soooo good!! Thank you so much for linking to the alfredo sauce and pumpkin pie chocolate chip cookies and I am so happy everybody loved them both so much! That alfredo has quickly become one of my most popular ever! And I just have to tell you thank you because everytime you make a recipe of mine and photograph it, they always look EXACTLY like mine from the blog, not some butchered version of my recipe, lol! That is a big deal to me because we eat with our eyes first and you always make my food look just as it should, from my blog. So thank you!! I love that picture of Willow sipping the tea. You are a wonderful photographer my friend….always capturing the most amazing moments. Much love to you and wow, holy moly on the 14 inch of snow!! BUrrrrrr!

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    • Wow, that’s really sweet of you to say because I always worry about posting a pic of your recipes…you make everything look so beautiful and delicious! I can definitely see why that Alfredo sauce is such a big hit! It’s wonderful!!!!
      Thank you! She loves her tea time 🙂 I love capturing special moments with her. Ha! Yes! It was sooooo cold, but we’re going through a bit of a warm up and the snow is melting away! Hope you have a great weekend, Brandi!! ❤

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