comfort food · dinner · easy · healthy · pasta · Sauces · squash · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta

Ya’ll know how I feel about fall, right? It’s not my jam. I just don’t give a fuck about the leaves. They end up all over the streets and sidewalks, which means I step on them, and little bits inevitably get stuck in my legwarmers. I know what you’re thinking… But, Kelsey, the colorful leaves are just so pretty. Ugh. (Insert eye-roll emoji) I really couldn’t care less.

I do, however, love love love butternut squash. I discovered it only a few years ago while making simple vegan soup, as well as some bomb ass mac and cheese. This was not a food I grew up with, as the number of veggies my mom likes could probably be counted on one hand. The one time I had any type of squash was at my high school best friend’s house, and it was covered in cinnamon, and around Thanksgiving. While I liked it in the moment, I don’t love when squash is made to be very sweet (which is also why I generally don’t like sweet potatoes, because I always think they’re going to taste like regular potatoes, and then I feel like I’ve been fucking lied to). It feels like they should all be savory, so I’m completely thrown off when they’re sweet.

Last week was Thanksgiving, which, as a foodie, is my fucking jam. I love the start of the holiday season so much. Especially because it also signifies the end of autumn, so everyone can just shut up already. T thought it’d be fun to have all 4 of our cats under one roof for the holiday weekend. He suggested it several weeks ago, but claimed ignorance when I reminded him last Sunday, full on acting like I was a goddamn nutcase for suggesting such a thing. To which I responded with, “Not my problem, man. We’re doing this. It’s already decided.” He may or may not have had a few drinks when initially thinking it was a good idea, but that’s not my fault. So we did it. I lugged over my 2 cats, along with all their shit, and all the ingredients for the full spread of food I insisted on making for Thanksgiving despite the fact that it was only the 6 of us (and 4 of us were felines). I absolutely could not be talked out of making every single side dish. I even made pumpkin shaped (sort of) dinner rolls from scratch, which was enough of a project on it’s own. Since I’m terrible at reading the recipe all the way through before starting, I accidentally ended up with 30 motherfucking dinner rolls. THIRTY. Let me remind you that there were a mere two humans to feed, and we had a full menu of vegan turkey (the only thing I didn’t make myself, and by far the least delicious thing on the table), mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, and some fucking homemade apple pie in addition to those dinner rolls (for pictures of the end product, check out my instagram – @kelseyskitchen23). We also had 3 cats and one monster of a kitten to work around in all of this (Let’s be real, Bourdain had to be put away for most of the cooking, otherwise he’d have sneaked off with all the butter).

I had no real plan or order to things when I started cooking, and I was doing it all in T’s tiny ass box of a kitchen with no windows. This also meant that I had to bring over every single ingredient, since, of course, he doesn’t have and fucking standard pantry staples outside of salt and pepper. He also had 1/3 of a bag of flour, which we had to use for the dinner rolls, gravy, and pie. We used all but maybe 3 tablespoons of that bag of flour, and I am simple NOT okay with cutting it that fucking close. When it got to be time to mix the pie filling together, I realized I had forgotten the cinnamon and nutmeg at my place. This led to a full-on melt down fueled by the fact that I was starving and hadn’t had any wine yet. I mean, what kind of fucking holiday was this? I fell into T’s arms on the couch, crying and yelling about his lack of kitchen supplies, as he reassured me that it was going to be okay. He said that we didn’t have to make pie. This sent me into a full on feeling of pure rage. Of course we’re going to make the pie – I already have a dozen apples in the fridge! And the pie crust was made last night! What the fuck am I supposed to do with it if we’re not making pie today?! WHO DOESN’T HAVE CINNAMON IN THEIR HOUSE?

43124705_2141111462771719_1443574740529709056_n

We drove back to my place to get the spices. When we got back to his place, I downed a glass (or two) of wine, and immediately felt better. We got that fucking pie into the oven, and I went to work on the side dishes.

Of course, then the pie filling dripped onto the bottom of the oven, which subsequently started billowing out smoke. I turned off the oven, and T held a giant fan above his head to blow the smoke away from the smoke detector. He had to hold it there for a long time (it wasn’t light) to clear out all the smoke.

I poured myself another glass of wine.

43090037_585105418611662_3248767263318212608_n

I think even Bourdain was okay with the lack of butter.

This recipe is creamy and decadent without an ounce of cream or butter. I know – it blew my mind, too. When it’s the star of the recipe, I don’t often know how to handle a squash’s sweetness. This recipe goes full-on savory with onions and garlic. It really would have been at home on the Thanskgiving table last week, but I was too proud to cook something “simple.” Don’t be like me. Make this your next holiday tradition.

Anyone else have a frustrating (or fun) Thanksgiving cooking story? Leave a note in the comments.

43085673_341808723238467_8684740149608710144_n

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta (originally found here)

1 medium butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 3 cups)*

Olive oil

A handful of chopped fresh sage

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cups veggie broth

12oz linguine (or long pasta of your choice)

Salt and pepper (always)

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat in preparation for the pasta. In a separate large pot, drizzle some olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the sage and let it fry to a crisp, stirring a couple of times. Once it’s crispy, transfer to a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Set aside. Using the same pot, drizzle a touch more olive oil, and throw in the squash and onion. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Toss in the garlic and let it cook for another few minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until it has reduced by about half. The squash should be soft at this point.

While the squash mixture is cooking, boil the pasta until al dente (following instructions on package, or be fancy as fuck with some fresh pasta). Reserve 1 cup of the pasta liquid (don’t forget like I did!).

Take the squash mixture, and blend it in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste (be generous!). You may have to do this in batches. In a large skillet, place pasta + sauce over medium heat. Drizzle in some of the pasta water and toss until the pasta is evenly coated with sauce. Keep adding pasta water to thin it out. Mine still ended up being super thick, but that’s okay. Try not to judge yourself.

*Pro tip: Roast those squash seeds with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Then throw those little fuckers on top of the pasta for some added crunch! (Follow my recipe for pumpkin seeds)

 

 

brunch · Cheese · comfort food · dinner · easy · potatoes · sides · vegetarian

Wisconsin Style Cheesy Potatoes

Without getting too into the details of it, my grandma passed away recently. I am 33 years old, and, naturally, have never known life without her. She definitely played a bigger roll in my life when I was much younger, but, though we didn’t spend much time together as I got older, I always found comfort in knowing she was at home quilting. In her younger years, she was also cooking. As a mom of 14, and a grandmother to countless more, she used to host a giant Thanksgiving dinner (which I think was actually lunch, if I’m remembering correctly). I have very few memories of this, as she lived 4 hours away so we didn’t attend often, but I do remember the food. To this day I still don’t know if she actually cooked everything. Was it a pot luck? Did the community help? I was a mere child that did not concern herself with the logistical affairs of adults. I was just excited to EAT. (Which is the possible title of my future memoir.)

Dinner always consisted of the classic Midwestern staples, such as ambrosia salad (literally just canned fruit, cool whip, jello, marshmallows, and nuts), various “bars” (I seriously don’t know what people from other areas call these as a general term, but they’re basically variations of brownies and blondies), lots of stuffing and potatoes (we LOVE carbs more than any other area of the country), roast turkey, and probably ham. While I’m sure there were other things like sweet potatoes and green beans, I was mostly focused on cramming my plate as full of potatoes, stuffing, and desserts as possible. I was a sucker for those bars. They were so foreign to me, despite my Midwestern upbringing.

IMG_20181111_162421.jpg

You see, my mom hates chocolate (I know). We also weren’t a dessert family in general. Our desserts were isolated to holidays and vacations, and were absolutely never chocolate based (most of my favorite bars have a thick layer of chocolate). Vacations were a free-for-all, and I recall eating ice cream for lunch and/or refrigerated cookie dough for dinner on several vacations with my mom as a child. Holidays always consisted of pie – both apple and pumpkin. My mom would always ask if we wanted whipped or ice cream, and it wasn’t until I became an adult that I developed the boldness to ask for both. I didn’t realize that this was all semi-abnormal until I was in my early 20’s, when I realized most other families offered dessert after dinner every night. Maybe this is why I have such an affinity for baking and sweets.

My mom loves to bake cookies, as we discovered here, but never baked much of anything else. Grandma, on the other hand, apparently baked quite a bit when she was younger. I discovered several years ago that my grandma used to make cinnamon rolls regularly when my mom was a child. Mom said that the kids would often fight over who would eat the last bite of dough that wasn’t big enough to be baked with the rest of the rolls. I made cinnamon rolls once in my life, and it was about 5 years ago. The whole thing was so time consuming and full of steps that it was the last time I ever attempted it. When I mentioned how difficult they were to my grandma, she laughed and said that she made them all the time for her children because they were so easy. Now I’m wondering if maybe I could learn a little patience and perhaps try it again. If she can do it with 14 children running around, I could certainly do it with one cat and one monster of a kitten at my feet.

IMG_20181027_131305.jpg

But that’s a blog post for another time. This week I made cheesy potatoes. They were something my grandma made for most occasions, and a staple of the Midwestern diet. They were even served with the lunch buffet after her funeral, which then ended with a huge variety of ice cream treats (her very favorite). This isn’t her recipe, as I don’t actually have her recipe, but it was found in the Waunakee, Wisconsin cookbook that I was given for my wedding many years ago, so I figured it was close enough. These are simple, hearty, and creamy – a true comfort food that will stick to your ribs and keep you warm during a cold winter. This week was the perfect week to make them, as it has been unseasonably cold here in Minneapolis, sometimes only making it up to 25 degrees during the day. I’m enjoying the leftovers more than anything, since they are excellent at all times of the day. I’ve been eating them with my eggs for breakfast a lot. Because of my association with cheesy potatoes, they make every meal feel like a special occasion.

We all remember and honor loved ones in different ways. For me, it’s food. Do any of you have recipes that help you feel close to your grandma? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

 

Cheesy PotatoesIMG_20181111_162425.jpg

6 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 small onion, diced

1 can cream of mushroom soup (the recipe called for cream of chicken)

2 cups milk

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 stick butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add diced onion and saute until translucent. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 2-4 minutes. Pour into a 9×13 glass baking dish, or whatever you have. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the top browns slightly. Serve with anything you like – eggs, meat, veggies. Or maybe just eat a bowl of this and call it a meal. You do you.

IMG_20181111_143416.jpg

Bourdain discovered his love of butter this week.

 

*Cheers to you, Grandma. There’s not a single swear in this whole post.*

comfort food · dinner · Eggplant · Italian · Lasagna · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Eggplant Parmesan and Being Basic

It’s prime farmer’s market season, so T and I have been going wild with the fresh produce. In addition to a huge haul at the farmer’s market the other week, my friend also gave me a ton of shit from her garden. I was PSYCHED. She gave me these beautiful little chubby eggplants, and I was bound and determined to make eggplant parmesan. Except it was hot as fuck outside, so I wasn’t so into frying everything in a pan. It takes fucking 45 minutes just to get the eggplant ready to layer, and I was not fucking having it. Plus, as you recall from my corn fritters fiasco, I’m fucking terrified of hot oil. That shit jumps everywhere, and my anxiety just cannot.IMG_20180818_155711

Aren’t they adorable?

T was over when I was making this, tolerating not only my need to constantly have a project, but also my love of the Bachelor in Paradise. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I can be real basic. Case in point: I had my first pumpkin spice latte of the season this morning, but I digress. We’ve been watching Bachelor in Paradise more than I care to admit, but, in our defense, we only just discovered it. We had a similar obsession with Naked and Afraid a couple of months ago. Watching people willingly put themselves in harms way? Sign me the fuck up. I love that shit. I love when they cry on the show about how it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done, and boo-hoo poor them. Like, bitch, please. You literally signed up for this your damn self. No one held a gun to your head. And you’re never in any real danger, because the crew is right fucking next to you. I have similar reactions to Bachelor in Paradise when they cry about their boo kissing someone else. I mean, they’ve been on one fucking date. Also… isn’t that the whole point?! If you don’t fuck your way through that show, it seems like you’re doing it wrong. What do I know, though? I found love on Tinder. Maybe it’s possible to find it on TV, too (insert eye-roll emoji).

The friend that gave me the eggplants also gave me a tons of cucumbers, a mutant zucchini, and a bunch of tomatoes. I pickled and baked my way through that weekend, and then had a panic attack Sunday night when I realized I wouldn’t have time to finish everything and that some of the produce will inevitably go bad. We all have to accept that this is going to happen, and calm the fuck down. When all was said and done, I only ended up wasting 5 cucumbers. This sounds like a lot, but I was given BAGS OF THEM. So, basically, I fucking killed it that weekend. But there was no telling me that Sunday night when I was in full-blown panic mode, sobbing on the phone with T. He was like, “Breathe. You need to just sit down and watch some Bachelor.”

IMG_20180818_170227

Eggplant Parmesan

1-2 eggplants, sliced into ~1/2″ rounds

Lots of Mozzarella (LOTSSSSSS), shredded or thinly sliced

1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce*

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 egg, beaten

Salt and pepper

Take your sliced eggplant, and layer it over some paper towels. Sprinkle some salt on both sides, and let ’em sit for something like 20 minutes. This draws out the water. We don’t want soggy eggplant parm, right?

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish and a large baking sheet. Place the beaten egg in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Dip the eggplant, one by one, into the egg, then the bread crumbs. Make sure to thoroughly coat everything. Place them in onto the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once they’re done, you’ll start layering. In the 8 x 8 baking dish, first spread out about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce. Place a few of the eggplant slices over that, then more sauce, then cheese, then eggplant, then sauce, cheese, eggplant, etc. End with the cheese. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted and gooey. You can either slice it like lasagna, or scoop up individual slices. I was trying the individual slice method, but I don’t recommend it.  Baking this took way longer than it should have, and that is when I discovered that my oven runs cold. It turned out way better when I made it at T’s place, but his lighting is for shit.

Serving suggestions: over pasta (super carb-y), with a side salad (keeping it light), with some buttery garlic bread (extra super carb-y), or just on it’s own. Now that the weather has cooled down in Minneapolis, this is the perfect time to start carb-loading. It’s also less of a pain in the ass to have the oven on.

*It can be nice if you saute some other veggies and add it to the sauce (mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, etc). Also, it should be noted that I did not use nearly enough sauce (or cheese) in the pictures. Don’t be like me. Sauce it up.

broccoli · brunch · comfort food · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · mushrooms · potatoes · sides · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Wrestling · Yummy

Lemon and Dill Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

So I went to a wrestling match the other day. It was at Bauhaus Brewery in Minneapolis. I don’t really do beer, but was in a drinkin’ mood, so I downed 2 within the first 30 minutes. I mean, if I’m watching “wrassling,” as T calls it, I better be hammered. HAMMERED.

I’m 5’5 and T is 6’3, but I matched that fucker beer for beer.

Have y’all ever been to a wrestling match? Now, I don’t mean proper wrestling as a sport. I mean “wrassling” as a performance (think WWE). It is a weird hodgepodge of humans that enjoy this shit. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is fucking entertaining.  But some of these people are obsessed. And their excitement is contagious. I mean, fuck, towards the end of the show I was full on meowing with the performer… complete with making my hand into a claw and “scratching” the air in front of me (he had a cat theme going, so I was on board). I mean, honestly, get a few drinks into me and I can get excited about anything.

They only had one women’s match, which is a bunch of bullshit. At least the women they chose were badasses. I was rooting for the shorter, plainer looking girl, because, I mean… obviously. But then the traditionally “hot” girl started putting all this crazy lipstick around the outside of her lips and acting full-on INSANE, and I was like, “Murder that little plain bitch!!!”

IMG_20180812_175634

I mean… LOOK AT HER.

Also, wrestlers are fucking HOT. Most of the dudes that performed were beefy as fuck. We made our rounds at the end of the show to meet all the wrestlers. I don’t know why (beer), but T insisted I be photographed with everyone (because beer). He kept telling them how excited I was to be at my first show, so they were all super sweet to our drunk asses.

61032

T was about to take the picture when he stopped everything and said, “Hold on… hold on… Something’s not right…” I honestly thought something was wrong with his phone or something. But then he said, “Hey man, do you think you could take your shirt off for her?” And that’s when I knew I was in love.

There was one guy that acquired some sort of head wound during his match, and it caused blood to pour down his face. You better believe that fucker left the dried blood all over his face for the rest of the night. I’m sure it was for dramatic effect… and photo ops. I fell for it. Obvi.

61029

This was literally 2+ hours after that head injury. No one could get him a towel?

My only complaint was that this event was held on a Sunday. I mean, why? WHY? I was hungover at work the next day, which is the fucking worst.

We have tickets for another wrestling performance next month, and I’m fucking psyched. Who knew?

We like to contradict stereotypes, so we watch wrestling and shop at the farmer’s market. That’s where we got these delicious little fingerling potatoes. They make everything feel a little fancy, and they’re easy to make.

IMG_20180828_074056

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

2ish pounds Fingerling potatoes, washed and sliced in half

1 head broccoli, cut into florets

As many mushrooms as you want (I used around 8oz, but wanted more)

Juice from 1/2 lemon (or about 2 tablespoons)

Garlic powder

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Fresh dill (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Bring a pot of water to boil and add in the potatoes. Boil for about 10 minutes (just to start the cooking process). We don’t need them to be cooked all the way, but want to cut down on roasting time. After 10 minutes, drain and rinse potatoes and dump into a large mixing bowl. Add in the broccoli and mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon. Toss with a sprinkle of garlic powder, lots of salt, and a bit of pepper. Make sure it’s all mixed well before spreading onto a baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring things around halfway through. Once done, top with a bunch of fresh chopped dill. Serve with whatever you like! I serve everything with an egg. Sometimes I add some green beans, too.

IMG_20180812_180552

LOL

breakfast · brunch · comfort food · dinner · easy · eggs · gluten free · healthy · lunch · quick · vegetarian · Yummy

Classic Scrambled Eggs and a New Friend

Two months ago someone handed me a kitten. They walked into my work (at an animal hospital) and said they found the little fuzz ball running around in the street. It was June 8th, the day Anthony Bourdain died, and I was in a dark place. I woke up that morning to the news on my phone and cried with Cortney while making breakfast. Anthony Bourdain has been one of my idols for years. I’m not one to mourn celebrity deaths much, but this one hit too close to home.

Around 8:30 that morning a woman walked in with a little nugget of a cat to check for a microchip. She’d hung onto him for 4 days at this point, and could no longer keep him due to allergies. I held him in my palms and he leaned back against my fingers as if he was in a tiny recliner, all the while sniffing my chin. Before I even knew what was happening, I blurted out that I might be interested in keeping him. THERE WAS NO THOUGHT PROCESS AT ALL. He pressed his little wet nose against my neck and I was done. The person they had lined up to take him fell through, and 30 minutes later he was mine.

I texted the boyfriend (who we’ll start calling T) telling him what happened and looking for name suggestions. His immediate response was, “Bourdain.” And so it was.

IMG_20180608_094040

He was mine and I was his. Neither of us was quite sure what to do.

Within 24 hours I realized that I had made the very grave mistake of adopting a demon. He was 3 pounds and what nightmares were made of. T was watching him while I was in Duluth with Cortney, and he texted me a few hours after dropping him off saying, “THIS IS MORE WORK THAN A BABY.” It was like a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum ALL OF THE TIME. Except this little fucker bites. HARD. If kittens weren’t so fucking cute, cats wouldn’t exist at all. We’d just murder them all and not even feel bad about it. They’d be considered pests, and we’d hire old, gruff dudes to “take care of it.”

20180618_201703-COLLAGE

Look at those sharp little teeth!

Within 48 hours I was having some serious buyer’s remorse. He peed in my laundry a week after peeing on my bed, and I thought, “This is it. I’m going to be a kitten murderer, and no one will be my friend again.” No one wants to be friends with a kitten murderer. I had to control myself.

It took him a solid 3 weeks to be allowed free range of the apartment without supervision. It took another 3 weeks for us to successfully sleep in the same bed without him biting me. Honestly, we’re still working on the biting. But he’s good with Harriet. And I think he’s good for me. He shook up my life, and I need that sometimes. We all do.

IMG_20180731_155223_1

Harriet’s checking to see if the eggs are fresh. She’s a good helper.

So, between the two of us, T and I now have 4 cats. It will certainly make living together interesting, should that ever happen. I’m sure Bourdain wouldn’t even flinch at the idea of terrorizing all 3 of the other cats. He’s completely brazen and undeterred, and while that irritates me, I respect it.

Scrambled eggs with buttered sourdough toast has been my obsession for the last few months. I took Anthony Bourdain’s approach with this, and kept it simple. No cream. No milk. No herbs or hot sauce. Just butter, salt, pepper, and fresh eggs.

Classic Scrambled Eggs

2 eggs

1/2 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper

Absolutely NOTHING else

Place a skillet on the stove over medium heat. Drop in a pat of butter. Crack eggs into a small bowl, making sure to pick out any shells. Whisk until the yolk and white are fully incorporated, but not whisked into oblivion (control yourself). Swish around the butter that should be melted in the pan to fully coat the bottom. Then add another pat of butter and immediately afterwards, add in the eggs plus salt and pepper. Coat the bottom of the pan with the eggs and wait until it starts to set (maybe 30 seconds) before moving it all around. Add more salt and pepper after pushing the eggs around a bit with a wooden spoon. Anthony Bourdain says to make a figure 8 with the spoon, but I find that moving around any which way works just fine. Once the eggs are mostly cooked (but still look a little wet), scoop them out onto the plate. The residual heat will finish cooking them without making them rubbery.  Serve with a thick slice (or two!) of fresh baked sourdough toast slathered with lots of fresh butter. I like to piled it on the bread and eat it like an open faced sandwich. Bourdain always tries to get a bite, too. He’s kind of a dick.

IMG_20180704_112457

Not a scrambled egg, but you get the gist. He’s a MONSTER.

Cheese · dinner · easy · healthy · lunch · quick · salad · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Farro Arugula Salad

There was a time in my life when salads were a type of punishment. As a teen, I would routinely eat minuscule salads every night, iceberg lettuce drizzled in flavorless fat-free Italian dressing (15 calories per serving!). I discovered ranch dressing around the age of 16 at my first waitressing job, and didn’t learn about arugula until I was twenty-three when I worked at a higher end French cafe in New York. It opened up a whole new world (cue the song, please).

At the age of 18, I lived in New York with several lovely ladies. A few of them knew how to cook, or were at least good at having real food around. I was at a loss for how to put together proper meals. My undeveloped 18-year-old brain just couldn’t fucking handle it. I mostly ate canned clam chowder, breakfast cereal, bagels from a street cart, sandwiches, and the occasional salad. Now, let’s be clear about these salads. They consisted of iceberg lettuce (ew), pre-shredded cheddar cheese (ew), croutons (fuck yes!), and ranch dressing. If I was feelin’ fancy, I’d throw a boiled egg on top, or maybe even a microwaveable vegan chicken patty.

I took home-ec in high school, and vaguely remember learning how to make scrambled eggs in a microwave (WHY) and rice crispy treats. But no one ever taught me how to make a meal with raw ingredients. Outside of eggs, the first “proper” meal I learned how to make consisted of cream of chicken soup, white rice, chicken breasts, and a packet of dried onion soup mix. I was just fucking stoked to be using the oven at all. Seriously, what was the point of home-ec?!

In fact, I was so clueless about food that I literally purchased a head of cabbage instead of lettuce on one of my first shopping trips in New York. My mom had always purchased it for me, so I didn’t know the difference. It gets worse. I proudly took that head of cabbage home with me and immediately made a salad with it, gloating to my roommates that I knew how to prepare healthy food. I then ate the entire salad before noticing that I had purchased the wrong thing. I mean, let’s be clear, I knew it didn’t taste right. I’m not a fucking moron. I suspected something was off, but was too embarrassed to say anything. Then my roommate brought it to my attention that I was eating a bowl of fucking cabbage. Let me tell you – it doesn’t matter how much ranch you douse it with… it’s still fucking cabbage.

My salads have come a long way since then. I’ve learned to genuinely love them. While I still have a weakness for ranch dressing, I usually opt for something lighter and homemade. This salad is dressed very simply with a little olive oil, lemon, and salt and pepper. It can be served warm or cold, though I prefer warm. It never occurred to me that a salad could be warm until I started exploring food outside of my comfort zone, which is something I highly recommend. Not sure where to start? Find a recipe that peaks your interest (maybe this one), write out a list of ingredients, and go for it.

And for the love of all that is holy… if you aren’t sure what you’re buying, just ask someone at the store. If they’re a dick about it, tell them to fuck off. We’ve all got to start somewhere.

IMG_20180313_164401

Farro Arugula Salad (inspired by HelloFresh)

3/4 cup farro

1 yam (or sweet potato), peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, sliced into larger chunks

1/2 lemon

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Olive oil

3 cups veggie stock

Arugula (as much as you want)

A small handful of sunflower seeds

Goat cheese

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the cubed yam and sliced onion with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread it out on a baking sheet and bake for about 30-40 minutes, stirring it around halfway through.

While the veggies are roasting, bring the stock to a boil in a medium pot and add the farro. Simmer for about 30 minutes, but keep checking it. You want to make sure it doesn’t overcook, or run out of liquid and burn the shit out of the bottom of the pot (this has definitely happened to me more than once). Once the farro is fully cooked, drain out any excess liquid in a colander and return to pot. Add in the yam and onion mixture, along with a handful of sunflower seeds, the cranberries (this doesn’t really need to be measured), the juice from half of a lemon, a heavy drizzle of olive oil, and a little salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together and scoop over a large handful of arugula. Sprinkle with some crumbled goat cheese.

Serve this to your friends while pretending to be fancy as fuck, and maybe they’ll forget about the fact that you used to not know the difference between cabbage and lettuce. Or that you still don’t know the different between a yam and a sweet potato.

baking · comfort food · cupcakes · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · mushrooms · pasta · potluck food · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Mushroom and Oat “Meat”balls

The snow situation has been out of control lately. Last weekend Harriet (my cat) and I decided to hibernate at the boyfriend’s place while a blizzard raged outside. Is there anything better than eating comfort food, snuggling inside, and watching Netflix for hours while it snows like mad outside? Yeah, actually… it gets better when you add booze. I drank nearly an entire bottle of vodka over the course of the weekend, mixing it with grapefruit juice and laziness. We spent our time in various reclined positions on the couch, watching anything we could find on Netflix or HBO Go, only getting up to refill our drinks or play a rousing game of Super Mario Brothers. We also got up once to give all three cats “meowtinis” for the fluffy one’s birthday, which was really just tuna and tuna juice in a martini glass.

This is the only photo of these two getting along. Not pictured: The birthday boy (he doesn’t give a fuck about tuna, and just wanted his crunchy treats)

The plan was to stay Friday and Saturday night, then get the hell out of his way on Sunday morning. He and I walked out to my car Sunday morning, and found it under a mound of snow. It took 30+ minutes, lots of pushing, the help from a bobcat (that didn’t help AND scratched my car, me almost crying, then my BF finally maneuvering it that last few inches out of the snow. I was trying to get to Acro, but wanted to stop home first to shower. I wasn’t going to have time for a shower, but would still have time to clean up at home and change cloths. WRONG. There were two snow storms back to back, and this was the second one. That means that there were tons of open parking spots on my street, but they were filled with so much snow that my car wouldn’t be able to get into them (much less out again).

IMG_20180225_101236

ARE YOU SEEING THIS?

I would not be stopping at my apartment due to lack of parking, so I had an extra 20 minutes to kill. Filled with rage, I drove over to the fancy grocery store for a latte and a cupcake. I walked into the store, past the bouquets of flowers, $40 teddy bears, gourmet cheese, fresh baked bread, and made a beeline for the bakery counter. There were perfect little cupcakes lined up behind the glass, and I wanted one. There was no one at the counter, so I took my time making my decision. After circling the display several times, I made a choice. Chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream. But where the fuck is the bakery clerk to help me? What the fuck is happening right now? While the individual cupcakes are behind glass, there are 4 packs of cupcakes sitting out for anyone to grab. Since my rage level was already at capacity, I ripped a 4 pack from it’s stack, and stomped to the register. When I got to the car, I decided to share the other 3 cupcakes with my acro friends.

When I got to acro, I decided I wanted to eat another cupcake after class. Seems silly to share 2 cupcakes with a group of people. So I decided to leave them in my car for whenever I had a cupcake craving next (they would obviously be gone within a day). I referred to them as my car cupcakes, and stand by that as one of my best ideas to date.

I wish upon you all the joy of car cupcakes.

IMG_20180227_181450

Mushroom Oat “Meat”balls

24oz mushrooms, finely chopped (if you have a food processor – use it!)

1/2 to 1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup quick oats (or regular oats pulsed in the blender a couple of times)

1/4 cup parsley

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons parmesan

2 eggs

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop the fuck out of those mushrooms (and onions). This shit took me nearly an hour. Twenty-four ounces is a LOT when you’re chopping. So maybe invest in that food processor before embarking on this journey. Or just cut the recipe in half like a normal human. When you’re done chopping, throw the onions into a large skillet along with a drizzle of olive oil and crank the heat to medium-high. You ever play that Wii game Cooking Mama? It’s like that right now… you gotta time it right otherwise everything gets fucked up. The original recipe says to cook the mushrooms first. Well, that’s bullshit. The onions take longer to cook, so get those rolling first. Stir ’em around a bit and let ’em cook for a few minutes. They’ll start to soften and become slightly translucent. That’s when you want to add the mushrooms. Let everything cook down. Once it’s all starting to brown slightly, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now it’s time for the garlic. Once you’ve added the garlic, you’ve only got maybe 3-4 minutes before it burns. I suggested cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, and then removing from heat. Scoop everything into a large bowl and add all the other dry ingredients (wait to add the eggs!). Stir it all together. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then mix into everything else. Grab a spoonful of the mixture and roll around in your palms until it forms a ball. Line up as many balls (lol) as you can onto a greased baking sheet.

Original recipe says to refrigerate for 2-12 hours. I did not do that. It turned out fine. This recipe also makes an obscene number of balls. I believe it was about 32 total, which is great if you have a large family or a potluck to attend. I do not, so I shared with my boyfriend and only baked a few at a time (keeping the mixture in the fridge for a few days). You could also just cut the recipe in half.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Throw ’em on top of some pasta,  maybe stuff ’em into some French bread for a meatless meatball sub, or crumble some up onto a pizza. Get creative! Then shove as many balls into your mouth as you can!