dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · Lasagna · lunch · mushrooms · quick · travel · vacation · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian

Vegan “Lasagna” and Nola

I spent Labor Day weekend exploring New Orleans with my Brazilian friend, Humberto, and a handful of his friends. Humberto and I met in NYC 8-9 years ago, where we became fast friends while working together at Georgia’s Cafe (which was both the best and worst job ever). We were roommates for about a year in a gigantic apartment facing the Hudson River in Harlem. Seriously, the place was unbelievable. It was so big that it came with a piano that lived in the hallway… and it wasn’t even in the way. We used it as a bar, because we’re classy motherfuckers. The apartment also came with a floral futon mattress (naturally) and a TV with a pink and green screen, among other miscellaneous shit.

Seriously, this is how we lived for months.

Humberto called it a “Bohemian lifestyle.” We were both too poor at the time to do anything about it. The other girl we were living with (the place belonged to her parents) and I spend 4 straight weekends at Ikea getting new shit for the apartment. That’s where I finally got my bedroom stuff (I was sleeping on an air mattress like a true Bohemian princess), but I don’t remember us getting much else in the way of furniture. After a few months of this nonsense, I started scouring Craigslist for cheap furniture. I only spent about $150, but was able to turn the place into this…

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It was one of my proudest accomplishments.

Humberto moved back home to Brazil in May of 2010. I cried like a baby at my sad office job, but hid it well from my demon bosses (that’s you, Mau and Peter… fuckers). As the years passed, I honestly wasn’t sure we’d see each other again. Then, about 6 weeks ago he messaged me on Facebook asking if I wanted to meet up in New Orleans.

Well, I’d never been to New Orleans before, so I checked my work schedule, found a cheap flight, and said HELL YES.

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Aren’t we the cutest?

We had a great fucking time. I took a vacation from my vegetarianism and became a pescatarian (that means that I could eat fish, for those of you that aren’t too bright) for a few days. Louisiana is all about seafood, right? So I was there to eat me some fucking classic New Orleans dishes. I had crawfish étouffée, seafood gumbo, a fried oyster po boy, and some motherfuckin’ catfish. Everything I ate was fucking drool-worthy, but the food at Deanie’s was especially delectable (the seafood gumbo was fucking to-die-for).

Oh, and we also drank our faces off (or, at least I did). The novelty of drinking on the street prompted me to purchase a “fish bowl” at one point. That shit is heavy! It was literally a gallon of fucking liquid (okay, maybe it was figuratively a gallon but whatthefuckeever). I drank maybe a third of it before I was too full, and also too tired from holding it up to my mouth (there’s an inappropriate joke in there somewhere). Humberto and his friend, Carolina, ended up drinking the rest for me. He was all, “Why would you buy that?!” And I was like, “Because NEW ORLEANS.”

I mean, obviously.

They somehow also got me to dance. I don’t dance. But it was Southern Decadence (their LGBTQ+ festival) and everyone was dancing. It couldn’t be helped. So I set aside my pride and shook my booty. I highly recommend a little booty shake to everyone.

Everyone had to go back to reality on Monday afternoon… except me. I don’t work on Tuesdays, so I stayed behind for an extra day and wandered around the city on my own. It’s where I got my best eating and shopping done. I stayed in an Airbnb for the first time ever, and felt like a real fucking grown-up. Plus, after all that noise and shared space… it felt downright luxurious to lay down in a quiet room by myself.

Some of the phenomenal food I encountered.

On our last day together, walking down the street near Cafe du Monde, Humbero said to me (in his adorable Brazilian accent), “I’ll be waiting for you in Brazil, Kel-Kel. Don’t take too long.” hahaha I love the way he worded that. I literally pictured him checking the airport every day for years.

By the time I got home, I was ready to get back to my vegetarian ways, in addition to lightening up my meals a bit. What’s nice about this vegan “lasagna” is that it reads like a hearty, heavy meal… but leaves you feeling light. I originally found this recipe on Dr. Mark Hyman’s website, but I’ve tweaked it a little bit. The original recipe calls for an egg in the cashew “cheese,” but that really didn’t add anything to it. I had no idea why it was included at all, so I omitted it. I also opted to add mushrooms, onions, spinach, and some garlic powder to add more flavor. I honestly thought this was going to taste like shit (I feel like I always say that about vegan recipes… maybe I need to stop being such a judgmental bitch), but it really is delicious. Try it out for yourself. Let me know if you miss the cheese (you won’t). The first time I made this I ended up dousing it in parmesan, because I hadn’t added any garlic or onions. It was kind of bland, but this version is bursting with flavor. I promise.

Vegan Roasted Veggie “Lasagna”

For the cashew “cheese”:

2 cups raw cashews, soaked in hot water for at least 1 hour, or at room temp for 24 hours then drained

1/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons lemon juice

 

For the lasagna:

1 eggplant, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 red bell pepper (I used green, but red would have been prettier), sliced into large squares (as in, the entire side of the pepper)

1 cup of mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, diced

1 large handful of spinach

Garlic powder (or one clove of fresh garlic, minced)

1 can (15oz) crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper

 

For the cashew “cheese”:’

Blend everything together in a blender or food processor. It should be the consistency of ricotta cheese. If you’re making it ahead, seal it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

For the lasagna:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet, saute mushrooms and onions in olive oil over medium-high heat until mushrooms have browned slightly and onions are translucent. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and the spinach. Continue to cook while stirring consistently. Once spinach has wilted, remove from heat.

Drizzle the eggplant, zucchini, and bell pepper with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and arrange on 2 large baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Allow to cool.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees.

To assemble, spread about 1/4 of the “cheese” on the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 baking dish. Top with a big scoop of the crushed tomatoes, and layer the roasted eggplant, zucchini, and pepper however you’d like to just cover the bottom of the pan. Add more “cheese,” crushed tomatoes, and a scoop of the mushrooms/onions/spinach mixture. Layer more of the roasted veggies. Continue layering until you run out of ingredients, ending with the crushed tomatoes on top.

Say yes to adventures with old friends you haven’t seen in years! Say no to fish bowls.

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Don’t be like me. This was a mistake.

baking · breakfast · brunch · comfort food · Dating · dessert · easy · Fruit · jam · pie · snacks · Tarts · travel · vacation · vegetarian

Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts

I texted Cortney today, “I miss you. I want to come visit and drink iced coffee in the rocking chairs. Then we can go for a swim at our beach.” She responded with, “I’m ready. Let’s do it.”

Don’t have a lid for your sauce pan? Just cover with another pan! Lids are for rich people.

The rocking chairs are special for us. They’re all along the front porch of the Moana Hotel in Waikiki. Cortney took me there on my first trip to Oahu 2 years ago because it’s a great spot for people watching. I had ordered iced coffee from the coffee shop attached to the hotel and impulsed a few macaroons as well. We settled into our chairs with our fancy cookies and proceeded to check out all the hot people that walked by, having one of our many epic conversations. That experience stuck out to me. It’s silly, because we also went snorkeling and hiking and touring and did a million other amazing Hawaiian things. This was just one random morning. But for some reason, every time I think about visiting her again, I imagine those rocking chairs.

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During my most recent visit we recreated it. It was the morning after my second date with the guy. I refused to tell her anything about it until we were comfortably seated in our chairs with iced coffee and macaroons. She was dying. Keep in mind, Cortney has never met the guy. He is merely a friend of a friend. She didn’t actually have a clue how our dates were going to go, or if he was going to be a crazy person that sends unsolicited dick pics. For all she knew, he could have been a fucking murderer. Honestly, it’s mostly just dumb luck that I’m not dead right now. Okay, I’m being dramatic, but after my Tinder experiences I have become a little (understandably) guarded. So we sat down in our beautiful wooden rocking chairs, taking bites of our tropical flavored macaroons, and I finally launched into the story about the night before, when I discovered that I had found someone incredible. And we did what Cortney and I do best… we talked it all out. She let me gush, and then offered up her thoughts/feelings/encouragement. She allowed me to be unapologetically myself, just like she always does (and what I try to always do for her), and encouraged me to feel all my feelings. While I skipped zero details with Cortney (often starting statements with, “This is a little TMI, but….”), I will skip almost all of the details with you, dear readers. Just know that this person made me feel like I was enough, just as I am… in all of my very human glory.

(Side note: He’s coming to visit me next week. “Excited” is an understatement.)

When Cortney visited last fall, we made hand pies. This is a variation of that, but better (in my opinion). The only annoying part is the fucking dough. All the freezing of shit and the waiting. I’m not great at waiting (duh). It turns out that it’s worth the wait, and it’s easy as fuck to make. Get on it, y’all. You won’t be sorry.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts (inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/2 pounds rhubarbs stalks (or approx. 6-10 stalks depending on size), cleaned and trimmed of leaves/dirty ends

1 cup dark brown sugar

a splash of vanilla

2ish tablespoons strawberry jam (Thanks, Stacy!)

Slice rhubarb in half, length-wise, and then chop in approximately 3/4″ pieces. You should have about 4 1/2 cups, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Set aside 1 1/2 cups. Combine 3 cups of the chopped rhubarb with the brown sugar and vanilla in a sauce pan on the stove over medium-low heat. Cover and let sit for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should become pretty saucy. Uncover and increase heat to medium, cooking for another 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and causes the spoon to leave a trail at the bottom of the pan. Once finished, stir in the strawberry jam, letting it melt in. Finally, add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of rhubarb. Pour into a bowl and set in refrigerator until cool.

For the crust: follow instructions from Fruit Hand Pies. Except you’ll just put a scoop of the filling in the center of a piece of dough and mush the sides up around it. It’s like a little bowl for jam… that you can eat!

Place them on a greased cookie sheet (or cake pan!) and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. This should make about 8-10 tarts. I only had enough rhubarb for 4 tarts. Then I ate one before the final photo, which is why there are only 3 finished tarts. Fuck it. I’m human, and I was hungry/had a craving. My only regret is that I didn’t make more.

baking · brunch · cake · comfort food · dessert · easy · Mochi · quick · snacks · travel · vacation · vegetarian

Taro Mochi Cake

This is the first of what will become many attempts to recreate the amazing taro mochi cake I had on Kaua’i.

I’m definitely going to have to cut the recipe in half next time, though, considering I can’t really get anyone to eat this. I love the texture, but Minnesotans are not about it. I get a lot of crinkled noses and comments like, “It’s interesting…”

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I was fucking obsessed with the feral chickens.

For those that don’t know… mochi is made with rice flour and is very chewy. This cake is kind of gelatinous, which I am obsessed with. But, you know, it’s not for everyone. And as much as I love it, I can’t eat an entire 9 x 13 sheet of it. Sigh.

I’ve been home from Hawaii for nearly 2 weeks now, and I still desperately miss it. Cortney and I have had marathon phone conversations almost daily. We’re out of control. Seriously. Why don’t we live in the same city already?!

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Cortney and I visiting a lighthouse, looking fucking adorable.

There were so many amazing moments in Hawaii, but I think one of my favorites was when Cortney and I volunteered at a horse ranch for an afternoon. If you know me, you know I don’t like to get dirty. I don’t like bugs, or mud, or going camping, or a lack of indoor plumbing. I like to do what I call “day camping,” to which a friend once responded with, “Kelsey… that’s just called going outside.” Exactly! I like being outside… in a park with a clearly marked path, or a nice little pond/lake with a bench to sit at where I can read my book. I don’t want to sit on the ground, especially if I don’t have a blanket to sit on. You get it. I would say that Cortney is the same way, but she can correct me later if I’m wrong. (I would like it noted that all these rules go out the window when it comes to the beach! I’m all about sitting in the sand and swimming and giving no fucks. It is where I feel the most free.)

I made a makeshift steamer. Don’t do this… unless you want to melt your strainer.

So we volunteered with the horses because Cortney is a secret horse girl (you know what I’m talking about… those girls in high school that can’t stop talking about horses and riding and all that shit). She’s quiet about it, but she fucking loves horses. I love this about her. I was also excited to go because I’d never really spent much time with horses, and I think they’re really beautiful. So we get there, and help clean out some stables (I didn’t even mind the smell!), and then got to bathe a miniature horse named Teddy. We were both fucking psyched about this shit. Bathing a fucking mini horse?! Fuck yes. I don’t know what we did to deserve such an honor, but we didn’t ask questions. We just got to fucking business.

Y’all.

Teddy is a fucking asshole.

I mean, at first it was fine. He was being kind of a dick, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle. We hooked him up outside as it started to drizzle, and slowly started spraying him down with the hose. He fucking hated having the hair on the top of his head touched. Like, he was cool with the rest of it, but God forbid we get near his ears. Cortney was better at this because she has a dog that acts like a horse (I love you, Ellie!), so she did most of the spraying down. Unfortunately, being on the other side from her, that meant I got hosed down as well. Luckily, we were headed to the beach afterwards, so I gave zero fucks.

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I can’t even believe this is a real place.

We got Teddy cleanish, and then brought him back inside to do his hair. Yes… you read that right. We brushed and then braided his fucking mane. I was pretending he was a fucking unicorn the whole time. Cortney was beside herself with excitement.

But then that motherfucker started bucking. Hell no. It was terrifying for a minute, but then Cortney shut that shit down. We were both like, “Fuck this, we’re done!” Then she forced him into stillness and marched him to his stable. She’s such a badass.

He was absolutely pissed about the four braids I put in his hair. Masculinity is so fragile.

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Taro Mochi Cake

1 lb box mochiko (sweet rice flour)

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups coconut milk

5 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cup steamed and grated taro (you can substitute chopped macadamia nuts or shredded coconut if you can’t find taro, though it should also be at your local Asian market)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9 x 13 pan. Melt butter and put aside to cool, and don’t forget about it in the microwave like I did (I found in hours later, way after the cake was done). Combine mochiko (which can be found at most Asian markets), sugars and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add melted butter, coconut milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Stir in taro and mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour or until top is slightly golden brown. Remove pan from oven and cool before cutting. Or cut it right away and burn your fucking mouth like an idiot (that’s what I did). 

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breakfast · brunch · Dating · eggs · mushrooms · Sauces · tinder · travel · vacation · vegetarian

Veggie Eggs Benedict and Hawaiian Magic

I don’t even know where to begin with this post, so I’m opening with a photo of Cortney and me in Hawaii last week. Y’all. This trip was magic. I can’t.

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A couple posts ago I mentioned that Cortney was setting me up with someone in Hawaii during my visit. This ended up being an ongoing joke between the two of us, with her talking about how I was going to fall in love, and me trying to bring her back to reality (while desperately hoping this guy wouldn’t take up too much of my time and/or be a murderer). I rolled my eyes every time she brought him up, but was also oddly intrigued by the idea of going out with someone on a tropical island (Was I living in a movie?!). I’m naturally an open person, so I just went into it with no expectations, but stayed open to any good that could come from it. I knew that, at the very least, it would be a learning experience and a fun story.

I had no idea what I was in for.

First, I nearly scared him away with my blog post that mentioned how Cortney wanted me to fall in love and move there. Let’s get one thing straight… I never once thought Cortney’s plan would ever work, and that’s exactly what I told him. I’m not stupid – this was a vacation fling. Obviously. And don’t you dare judge me. I’m a grown ass woman, and I’m allowed. I also recognized that it might not even develop into a fling. It was likely going to be one disappointing date, and nothing more.

Holy shit, you guys – I was so stupid.

Remember how I’m always talking about being vulnerable, having feelings, and avoiding a gray world of “meh”? The spectrum of human emotions is a beautiful thing, and I got to feel a lot of it throughout this experience. Yeah, sometimes it’s painful, but fuuuuuck… it’s worth it. If you’re not feeling anything, then what is the fucking point of being alive?

There is nothing sadder than indifference.

Our first date was my second night in town. It was the first of five, each one better than the last. Real feelings got involved, which I recognized around the 3rd date (and he mentioned it first, because he’s a secure dude, which is hot as fuck). I remember getting back to Cortney’s apartment and recapping it to her. She cackled manically like an evil mastermind and pretended to pet an invisible cat, exclaiming that her plan was working. I rolled my eyes. But the fact was, I was now invested and a little bit scared of the repercussions. I knew this couldn’t end like a romantic comedy. We live 4,000 miles apart. I knew that, and I dived in anyway. Why? Because it’s fucking worth it. Because he is interesting and smart. Because he’s secure as fuck and non-judgmental. Because he wasn’t afraid to hold my hand and communicate. Because he reminded me that I don’t have to compromise on what I want in a partner. They can have all of those qualities. People like that exist. He exists. It’s fucking possible.

Oh, and because he bought me fucking donuts.

I desperately hope this isn’t the end for us… but the fact is that it might be. I know that. Yet, still… I wouldn’t take any of it back. I’d do it all again in a second. Fuck it. The feelings involved (even the bad ones) made this so fucking worth it. 

I’ve completely reevaluated how I’m dating here in Minneapolis. And with this newfound knowledge… I’ve deleted Tinder. Not forever, just for now. I need to just sit with this feeling, and have a little space to myself. I’m not closed off (and I hope I never will be), but I’m taking a little time away from seeking out a relationship. I’m too raw right now, and it’s important to be self-aware enough to know that.

As much as I like to share my version of the human experience… this post is feeling very vulnerable to me (plus, I know he’s going to read it, and I’m feeling unsure about that). For now, the rest of this story will remain private. More Hawaii stories with Cortney yet to come, though! Including (but not limited to) snorkeling with a sea turtle, singing to the Moana soundtrack, teaching Acro to a few friends, giving a miniature horse a bath, horseback riding in the rain, and half naked men dancing. Oh, and eating alllll the mochi. Seriously. I spent probably $50+ on mochi. I’m out of control.

Oh, and I ate pork (gasp). I’m not sorry.

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My last breakfast in Hawaii was with Cortney, her husband, and a couple friends. Cortney and I couldn’t decide what we wanted, so we ordered eggs florentine and cinnamon apple pancakes to split. I fucking love doing shit like that. When I got home, I was really missing her, so I opted to make eggs benedict/florentine. This seemed logical at the time.

Veggie Eggs Benedict

1 egg

3-4 button mushrooms

1 handful of spinach

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 slice of bread (or half an English muffin)

2 teaspoons white vinegar

For the hollandaise sauce:

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 stick butter, melted

salt and pepper

To make the sauce, whisk together the yolks and lemon juice in a metal mixing bowl until it fluffs up and doubles in size. Then place the bowl over a sauce pan of slightly simmering water (making sure the water doesn’t actually touch the bowl). Continue whisking, and do not let the eggs get too hot or sit for too long, otherwise they’ll scramble. Slowly whisk in the melted butter until the sauce has thickened and doubled in size again. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and set in a warm spot while you get everything else together. Makes enough sauce to cover 2-4 eggs (I like a lot of sauce, so it’d only be 2 for me).

Saute the veggies, minus the spinach, in a little olive oil or cooking spray, stirring frequently and adding salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms brown, add the spinach and allow to wilt. Place bread/English muffin into the toaster.

To poach an egg! First step: Believe in yourself! If the egg isn’t beautiful, who the fuck cares? It’ll still be delicious. This was my first successfully poached egg, and I did a little dance to celebrate. You should, too. First, grab a deep skillet and fill it up with water. Place over high heat, and add a little salt and 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. While waiting for the water to boil, crack the egg into a small glass/ramekin. Once boiling, stir water with a spoon to create a whirlpool effect. Once it’s really circling, slowly pour the egg into the center. The movement of the water will help keep the egg together, preventing it from looking like a baby octopus. Turn off the heat and cover pan. Allow to cook for 2-5 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks.

To assemble (does this really need to be explained?): Cover toast/English muffin with the sauteed veggies. Top with the egg and as much sauce as you’d like. The sauce will not keep, so eat it all in one sitting!

Then go out and collect every single human experience possible. Feel everything.

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comfort food · gluten free · lunch · potatoes · quick · shopping · sides · vacation · vegetarian

Homemade Mashed Potatoes and Vacation Brain

I’m going on vacation today, but my brain has been turned off for at least 2 days. It makes everything more difficult. My patience is wearing thin (and, let’s be real, it’s not great to begin with). I was up late last night frantically packing, because it’s impossible for me to plan ahead. I also insisted upon going to an acro jam, because apparently I wanted to have even less time to pack. And I showed up late to the jam (which, if you don’t know, is just a term for acro people getting together and doing acro for a few hours without a teacher), because I was starving to death. I made mashed potatoes at the last minute, which is silly because it’s not really an on-the-go type of food.

I also ended up going to MOA (for those that aren’t cool and live in MN, that stands for Mall of America) after work last night to return a swimsuit that I purchased online last week. I think I’ve complained about this before, but what is the fucking deal with plus size swimsuits(or is it all of them?)? I ordered one from Torrid with these cute little pink details and a much needed underwire… only to find that it won’t even remotely accommodate my chest. I even tried it on in a bigger size in the store, and technically it fit… but fuuuuck. I was going to have a nip slip for sure, and I don’t need that kind of stress in my life. Fuck that shit. I’m all for a sexy, low-cut look… but I also intend to be swimming and snorkeling. I need to feel secure in my swimsuit. I’m sick of all the stores carrying the some shitty styles in plus size. Like, no, I do NOT want a fucking halter top. Why is this the most common option? Can you even comprehend how heavy my breasts are? That skinny ass fucking strap is cutting into my neck. It’s horrible. And even this one that I purchased last week, which was supposedly made for my body type, is completely impractical. I was literally going to fall out the top of it, and then to make matters worse, there were padded inserts to help push me further out of the top. What. The. Fuck.

Anyway, I did end up finding something I like, but the whole experience was a pain in the ass. I’m just glad it’s not a halter and that it doesn’t have a fucking skirt attached. Stop trying to hide my body. Fuck.

While I’m so excited about all the amazing things I’ll be doing while on this vacation, one of the most exciting parts of it for me is that I will get to turn my brain off for a bit. I’m fucking exhausted. For 2 whole weeks I won’t have to worry about bills, chores, work, or (most importantly) dating. I don’t have to fucking overthink anything, or analyze intentions. I just get to fucking relax and have fun. This trip is so needed right now. And I will get to spend time with a handful of my favorite people, which just makes it even better. Plus, I’ll get to eat mochi every single day in Hawaii.

So these mashed potatoes (is it still plural when it’s just one potato?), like I said, were made on a whim when I was starving last night. I was really craving french fries, but you know, you can’t always have what you want. I’m a big fan of leaving the skin on for mashed potatoes (my mom always says that’s where all the nutrients are), but you’re welcome to peel yours first. I live alone, so I usually only boil and mash one lone potato. It works out really well, because that one potato fluffs up to double it’s size! Try it out. Making mashed potatoes for one doesn’t have to be considered “too much effort.” It’s really easy, actually. Besides, you’re worth the extra effort.

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Homemade Mashed Potatoes

1 large russet potato, unpeeled (but remove all the growths on it, because we all know it’s been sitting in your cabinet for weeks)

1.5 tablespoons butter

A large splash of half and half or milk (~1/4 cup)

Salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil. You only need enough water to fully cover the potatoes. While waiting for the water to boil, wash your potato and chop up into 1-2″ cubes. Once water starts boiling, throw in the potatoes (Carefully! Splashing boiling water is no joke!). I suppose you could just put the potatoes in before boiling the water, but I like to live on the edge. Let boil for about 10-15 minutes (until soft – you’ll know by stabbing a cube with a fork, lifting it out of the water, and it falls right off). Drain and place back into the same pot. Add butter and start to mash with a potato masher. I like to wait until the butter is mostly melted before adding the half and half. Start with a small splash of half and half and mash a bit more. If it’s still too thick, add some more. Continue adding half and half until it’s the consistency you like, and then add some salt and pepper. Taste as you go. You’ll need more salt than pepper, but pepper can be a nice touch.

You could also top this with some green onion, or add in some cooked mushrooms and garlic. Roasted garlic is always good with mashed potatoes, too. But I kept mine simple last night, mostly for a lack of time. Serve with whatever the fuck you want. I did a fake chicken patty and some arugula, because that’s all I had lying around. I wouldn’t judge you at all for serving it with nothing. Just eat that shit right out of the pan while watching some Netflix if it makes you happy. Fuck going out and socializing.

comfort food · Crock pot · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · mushrooms · Rice · soup · vegan · vegetarian

Vegan Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

While I was in Florida, I was also participating in a yoga challenge on Instagram. If you’re not familiar with this, look it up. Seriously. I’m not Google. It was mostly a disaster.

We spent my first night in there watching the sunset on the beach. My mom is a badass, so we sneaked in some mini bottles of wine, too. Then we (I) did some drunk yoga on the beach for the sake of my very first yoga challenge. Being the overachiever that I am (I’m not), I opted to accept an arm balance yoga challenge, despite the fact that I am not physically capable of most (all) arm balances yet. Side crow was so pathetic that I didn’t even post it. It was just me leaning against my elbows in the sand. It didn’t even look like I was trying to do anything. Ughhhh. My side crow is an embarrassment to yogis everywhere.

In addition to not being able to do most of the poses, I was also having a hard time with body image that week. Normally I do okay with that, but lately it has been a struggle. I mean, I’m only human after all. Normally I would spend the time getting the right angle of the photo, so I look my “best.” However, this time my mom was taking the photos, and I felt bad making her retake them. I also had to have a certain pose each day, which meant that I had to post it even if I didn’t love the way I looked in it. So, basically, I posted a handful of photos where I genuinely feel like I don’t look attractive. Logical me knows this doesn’t matter at all. AT ALL. But emotional me feels all vulnerable and shit. Again, I recognize that it doesn’t fucking matter. I’m just a human, and I’m allowed to look human. But, fuck, body positivity is hard. Sometimes I think I’m there, and then some other insecurity pops up. What an asshole.

Moral of the story… be gentle with yourself. I actually got a lot of positive feedback from people about my photos. They were inspired by the “realness” of it. That’s awesome, and really makes me happy. When I was first starting yoga, seeing real humans do hard poses on Instagram actually helped me a lot. It reminded me that there is no perfect body for yoga, and that if they could do it, so could I. If anyone is interested in following my yoga Instagram account, you can find me @kaeyogi.

This recipe came about from an amazing friend. That same friend also gifted me with a crock pot! That’s right… this is my first crock pot recipe! I’m sure it could be made on the stove as well, but it would take a fucking long time.

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Vegan Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups water

1 cup chopped onion

2 – 14 oz cans coconut milk

2/3 cup uncooked wild rice

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

1 cup diced carrots

3-4 stalks celery, chopped

4-6 cups mushrooms (I used button and crimini)

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water

Salt and pepper (a shit ton)

With the exception of the cornstarch and cold water, throw everything in the crock pot (making sure to shake the coconut milk before opening). Make sure it doesn’t overflow (mine got close!) as you stir all the ingredients together. Add some salt and pepper. Cook on low for 4 hours (I left mine for 6 though, and it was fine). I was afraid my apartment would start on fire while I was at work, but that didn’t happen. After the 4 (or 6) hours, combine the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl, whisking together. Add the cornstarch mixture to the soup and cook with the lid off for 10 minutes (increasing the heat to high). Stir occasionally. Add more salt and pepper at the end, and serve with some crusty bread (duh). You can’t fuck this up. If you do, you should question your intelligence.

It was at this point that I panicked about storing all the soup, and I ended up just putting the whole crock pot in the fridge. Seems like a good idea, but makes it hard for scooping out leftovers later. I had to squat in front of the open fridge and scoop from the crock pot thats now living on its bottom shelf. Super annoying.

I serve mine with buttered bread because I’m not vegan. I also like to eat it in bed while watching My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix. You do you, though.

Also, it’s Valentine’s Day. Go grab yourself one of these mini cakes, and eat that in bed, too. Or do what I did and share it with an awesome friend. Fuck the patriarchy.

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breakfast · brunch · easy · eggs · healthy · mushrooms · quick · Rice · Stir-fry · vegetarian

Breakfast Stir-Fry

I spent last weekend in Florida visiting my snowbird mother in Naples. She’s been trying to fly me down there every 6-12 months for the last three years. I don’t know what prevented me from saying yes for so long. I guess Florida just isn’t really my thing. Which doesn’t make any sense considering how much I love the ocean. I mean, I’m constantly talking about being a mermaid with Hannah. That’s normal, right? And I always have fun when I visit my one and only friend down there. I don’t honestly know what is wrong with me. I should take my mom up on free trips to Florida more often.

On Sunday night my mom took me to her singles dance night (for seniors) at the Elk Club. My original plan was to drink my face off, but I didn’t realize I would be so hungover from drinking wine with my mom and her girlfriends the night before (we were out of hand and it was fantastic). So I had a total of two Shirley Temples, which included eight cherries, and parked myself at a table with a good view of the dance floor. I watched my mom dance with a variety of older gentlemen that had some serious moves. There was one guy in a pair of khakis and a white button down shirt, which had one too many buttons undone. He was twirling his dance partners all over the place, which made him a very popular choice among the ladies.

After the first hour or so I was getting a bit bored. While texting with a friend of mine back home, she convinced me to redownload Tinder just to see what Florida had to offer. I was reluctant, but I did it…. and I set my age range to 25-55+ (thinking the older crowd would be more entertaining, because apparently I’m a huge asshole). The most entertaining profiles were actually of younger people. Some of it was really redneck, but most of it wasn’t all that different from the people I would find in Minneapolis. However, I ended up not really needing the extra entertainment, because I was about to be twirled around the dance floor by a lovely elderly gentleman. My mom forced me to join the “mixer,” which is when the women form a circle in the middle of the dance floor and the men form a circle around them. Then the DJ plays fast music as the men and women walk in opposite directions (it’s very heteronormative). When the music slows, you grab the first man you see and slow dance for 30ish seconds. I started each and every dance with loudly announcing, “I don’t know how to dance!” Everyone was lovely, except for one creepy old man in a peach colored polo (which just seems so Florida, doesn’t it?), who insisted upon pressing his entire body against mine and even pulling my hand to his chest. Gag. Barf. He had an accent of some sort, which you could tell made him think he was a lot more irresistible than was accurate. Anyway, fuck that guy – let’s talk about Lenny. He was the fucking sweetest old man I’ve ever met in my life, and I desperately wanted him to be my dad (grandpa?). He spent a good 4-5 songs trying to teach me how to dance (I fucking hate dancing, and become painfully aware of how awkward I look doing it). He taught me a swing step and then the waltz. And he talked about this funny cat commercial he saw recently, which fucking killed me. Through the entire dance lesson, he kept counting out loud for me so that I wouldn’t lose my step. Then, when I (inevitably) tripped over my own feet and forgot where we were, he would stop, wait a beat, and start again. My heart full on exploded. Fuck.

Lenny. I’ll never forget you.

Breakfast in Florida consisted of eggs and toast every day. This is my standard Mom breakfast. It’s what she always does, and she doesn’t add veggies/avocado/rice/beans/etc. No big deal. We all like what we like, right? But I was pretty excited to cook something a little different for breakfast once I got home. So I made this breakfast stir-fry! Also, sometimes I get distracted and forget to eat all the rice in the fridge. When this happens, I make breakfast stir-fry a day or two before the rice is really going to go bad. It’s super easy, super healthy, and fucking delicious.

Breakfast Stir-Fry

2-3 button mushrooms

A few tablespoons of chopped onion

A few tablespoons of chopped bell pepper

A small handful of spinach (or any green)

1 egg

1 scoop of brown rice, cooked

Hot sauce

Salt and pepper

Olive oil or non-stick spray

In a medium skillet with olive oil or non-stick spray, saute the mushrooms, peppers, and onions over medium-high heat. Stir them once or twice and cook until they’re lightly browned. Add a little salt and pepper, along with the greens and a scoop of rice to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir well. In another skillet, heat olive oil (or spray) over medium heat and cook your egg however you’d like (I prefer over-easy, because, let’s be real, eggs are the only food that come with their own sauce. Why would you not use that to your advantage?). Try not to break the yolk like I did. Once the rice is warm and the veggies are cooked, throw it all into a bowl. Top with your fried egg and a bunch of hot sauce. Like, a shit ton of hot sauce. Then stab the egg so the yolk gets everywhere. You’re welcome.

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And maybe let’s all stop giving Florida such a hard time.

Except I burned my scalp there, so Florida can fuck off.