Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan and Vegan Enchiladas with “Made from Scratch” Red and Green Chili Sauce

LoveLessons72lgA crazy little thing called love happened to Walter Lucas…Actually, his name was Kelly Davidson, he had like a million food allergies and an intense (and kind of weird) passion  for Disneymovies happily ever afters. Yes, Kelly was a little different from what Walter usually went for (skanks!), but he was just what Walter needed to finally give his heart a chance at love.

This is maybe the sweetest book I’ve read by Heidi Cullinan, and that’s saying a lot since she’s given me much awesomeness to read in the last couple of years.

As for the food pairing, it was a challenge, even for a vegan like me! Kelly has A LOT of dietary restrictions, thankfully I don’t give up easily. So for this pair of hungry college boys I decided to go with Vegan Echiladas with homemade Salsa Verde and Salsa Roja. They are delicious, and I’m almost certain the wouldn’t kill Kelly if he ate them.  For the wine (yes there’s wine even though Kelly’s not legal!) I chose  the Grilos Vihno Branco from Portugal. We’re having full on Insdian Summer here in Upstate New York, so I’m hitting up the white as long as I can. The Grilos is a very light and aromatic table wine, with a strong hint of peach and mint, without any sweetnes. Very crisp and ideal for a spicy dish. It goes for around $9 a bottle which makes it a winner on all counts. But enough with the food, let’s get back to Kelly and Walter!

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I am the wild one break me in, saddle me up and let’s begin,…Walter Lucas is kind of notorious in the Hope University campus. He’s  a  bit of a slut,  beautiful and charismatic. He likes to bend the rules a bit. Here’s the thing…Walter’s family is messed up. His parents had a nasty divorce, and when his mom fell off the deep end, he had to take one for the team and leave college to make sure his little sister had at least SOMEONE  to come home to. The whole thing made him a little bitter, and now that he is back in school the only thing that keeps him from blowing that whole thing off is his advisor. Professor Williams is like his lifeline to sanity, and the one thing that has kept him even slightly interested in any sort of a future. Walter is JADED. He’s over the whole collegiate utopia bullshit Hope University has been shoving down his throat, and he pretty much wants to live off-campus, stay under the radar, finish school and get the fuck away…Little problem with that plan though. Students are  not allowed to live off-campus, and so there he is, a junior, stuck in a single dorm, with A FRESHMAN. Things couldn’t be worse. Seriously! The actually couldn’t because this  kid  Kelly, has like1,200 allergies and practically needs to sleep on Saran Wrap …Ok it’s not THAT bad, Kelly IS pretty nice, definitely pretty cute and gay as a rainbow…So yeah there is an upside.

Walter takes young Kelly under his wing, tries to get him situated and away from the notoriously homophobic jocks living in their hall. He does likes the kid a lot and if it happens that he can get a little sex on the side without having to leave his room…Well that’s just an extra bonus.

Hey, I heard you were a wild one…If I took you home and be your homerun? Show me how you do…. Kelly Davidson was way in over his head.  One on side he’s starting college, which is challenging enough as it is, on the other he’s got the allergies which are not easy to nevigate when you’re on a college meal plan AND he’s in very close quarters with the hottest (and notoriously slutty) guy in the WHOLE school. Walter is HOT, and flirty and their room is SO SMALL. It’s hard to breathe sometimes with so much sexual tension. The thing is, Walter is really nice too. He can be a dick, but he looks out for Kelly, makes sure he can get something to eat that won’t kill him, he’s smart and interested in him…He doesn’t even make fun (not that much anyways) of his obseesion with Disney movies.

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It’s an unlikely thing this pairing. Nevertheless, things get romantic in their little dorm room pretty fast. Walter is not a believer in love, but in the face of Kelly’s goodness and his almost terminal optimism he feels hopeful. He feels protective and taken care of at the same time. He knows there are good people out there, after all he’s been relying on Professor Williams’ kindness for awhile. He starts wanting things with Kelly, but he can’t forget where he comes from, the crushing disappointment of losing something or someone that you had learned to rely on. He’s afraid of going through that again. People leave.  People let you down. He can’t give in to what he’s feeling, except Kelly is working everyone one of his walls and they are crumbling. There’s no helping it, Kelly is too much of a gift to turn away from,

This book was a bit of departure for Heidi. With her books I expect powerful and intense sexual/physical connections in the couples, and here the erotica was definitely not a big part of the love story. I like young love romances there is a always an untarnished quality to them that makes me feel so hopeful. Walter and Kelly came from such different families, one self-centered and cold, the other a warm home full of love and support. They saw the world a bit differently, but they both understood loyalty and friendship. They were good friends to one another, were quick to lend a hand and in the end being able to count on each other was what gave them the openess to fall in love. All was not easy, Kelly’s family had it’s setbacks and Walter’s home was a dysfinctional mess, but their little team of two was enough to face the things that  would have been too hard on their own.

I loved the colligiate setting in this book, it’s particularly relevant at this time of my life since I live in a dorm that is probably pretty similar to the one Kelly and Walter live in. Heidi did a great job of describing academia politics and college life. On the whole, this book felt really personal, and that really affected my connection to the book.  All in all, once again Heidi Cullinan has written a book that I will probably re-read half a dozen times. She is more than an auto-buy author for me, she’s a go to comfort read author, and that list is VERY SHORT.

Totally recommend, lots of laughs, love and cuteness with a strong dose of angsty young love.

Love Lessons is for sale at Amazon.com

Straight ahead DEELICIOUS non allergy inducing enchiladas!!

Vegan Enchiladas

16 corn tortillas

1 package of mozarella flavored Go Veggie! Rice Shreds

1 tablespoon of nutrional yeast

2 cups of enchilda filling (for recipe click here)

3 cups of red sauce (for recipe click here)

3 cups of green sauce (recipe below)

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Directions: In a 9×13 pan ladle the bottom half with a bit of red sauce and other half with a bit of the green sauce. Place about a cup of each sauce on two separate bowls. Drench 8 of the tortillas in the green sauce and the other eight in the red sauce once the tortillas are wet fill with about a tablespoon and a half of the filing roll up and place on the pan. Once the pan is full pour the remaining sauce on the enchiladas. I did half red and half green. Take the rice shreds and mix with the nutritional yeast and top the enchiladas. Cover with tin foil and put in the over for 30 minutes at 375. The last five minutes take the foil off the pan so that the cheese can get a bit golden. Once the cheese has melted take out the pan and let it cool before serving.

Salsa Verde

8 tomatillos

1 onion chopped

1 poblano pepper chopped

1/3 cup of fresh cilantro chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of cumin

1/2 tablespoon of chili powder

2 cups of water

Directions: Sautee the all the ingredients except the tomatillos in a large saucepan for about five minutes. Once they are translucent add the tomatillos and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 1 hour. Simmer until the sauce has thickened and tomatillos have fallen apart. Set aside to cool. Once the sauce has cooled blend until smooth.

Cheers and Happy Reading!!

Laura

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