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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.”

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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!!!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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

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).

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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.

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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!

Cheese · comfort food · Dating · dinner · easy · healthy · lunch · soup · squash · Super Bowl · vegetarian · Yummy

Vegetarian Broccoli Cheese Soup with Roasted Squash

Have you ever loved a pair of sweatpants so much that you continue wearing them far beyond their expiration date? You know what I’m talking about… they’re the pants that are so well loved it’s hard for you to see how bad they’ve gotten. I mean, logically you know how bad it is. You’re not blind – you can see the small snags turn into large rips. You’re aware of how ridiculous it looks with the drawstring dangling down to your knee from a hole on the right side – making it completely fucking useless. But it’s cool, because you never use the drawstring anyway. These pants know your body so well, they don’t need to be held up with a fucking drawstring… they’ve become one with your body.

This carrot is out of control.

I have a pair of these pants. They feel as if they’ve been custom made from clouds just for me… but they look like they were thrown together by a small blind child who thought he might take up sewing one day. My friend Jeni would call these my “private pants.” She encourages me to “wear them with pride… just do it in private.” Her husband has a pair of them that mortify her. He says that I’m allowed to wear them to the grocery store, but only if I shop at Walmart.

Sigh.

So last weekend was the Super Bowl here in Minneapolis. The city was psyched to host such an event, and you could feel the energy in the air. There were events going on downtown for 10 days leading up to it. The excitement is contagious, even if you are like me and think sports are giant waste of fucking time. So I got into the spirit the only way I know how… I rented my apartment to a Patriots fan on Airbnb and became homeless for 3 days. With my cat.

So you remember the Wii controller guy? Yeah, we’re still dating (I know). He’s tall and cute and redheaded… and has deep fear of commitment (just the way I like ’em). I stayed with him over Super Bowl weekend with my cat, Harriet. It also happened to be his birthday weekend, which means we hung out with one of his good friends (and the only friend I’ve ever met) who is a goddamn delight. She calls him on his commitment shit, which I think is hilarious. She also likes selfies with security guys at Super Bowl events, which just makes my heart happy. We spent our Saturday getting hammered and roaming around downtown Minneapolis in subzero weather, desperately searching for the Kitten Bowl. Obviously.

Anyway, Wii Controller Guy housed me for 5 nights, and we never once tried to kill each other (despite me breaking his sink and his cat’s food bowl). He did, however, have to be blunt with me about my “private pants.” That’s right – I wore them over there because we are totally at that level (you know – the “I’m pretty sure you’re not going to bail at the sight of my homeless looking pants” level). I think he said something along the lines of, “I can’t have you wearing these.” But fuck! Those pants feel like goddamn angel wings.

I mean, the jury is still out on whether or not I’m allowed to call him my boyfriend, and he’s trying to tell me to get rid of my favorite pants?! I don’t know, man.

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I ordered new ones online last night. But I refuse to toss my old ones until I know for sure the new ones are just as comfy (they won’t be).

This soup is made to be eaten while wearing your private pants (you know you have a pair). Get cozy, because it’s cold as fuck outside.

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Vegetarian Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 head broccoli, stems removed

1 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced

1/2 onion, chopped

4 tablespoons flour

3 cups veggie broth

1 cup almond milk

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

3 cups cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic powder (just a sprinkle)

Oven roast squash at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. It needs to be soft, since it will all be blended and (ideally) needs to be smooth. Check it about halfway through roasting time to move things around a little bit. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool a bit. Once cooled, puree in a blender with 2 cups of veggie broth until smooth.

Steam the broccoli and separate into 2 halves. Set aside. In a large pot, saute onions in a little olive oil – add salt and pepper. Cook until slightly browned, then sprinkle with the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix each tablespoon thoroughly before adding the next. It will form a thick paste. Once flour is fully incorporated, cook a few minutes longer to toast it a little bit, stirring frequently. Add in the squash puree, 1 cup of broth, and the milk. Stir well, making sure there aren’t any clumps from the flour.

Finely chop half of the broccoli and add to the pot along with the carrots. Simmer until soup is at desired thickness (add extra broth if too thick) and carrots are cooked through (about 10 minutes). Incorporate the cheese 1 cup at a time, making sure each cup is fully melted before adding more. Roughly chop remaining broccoli and add to the pot.

Throw on your favorite pair of pants (because it’s too cold to be pants-less right now), and don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t the best pants in the world.

comfort food · dinner · easy · healthy · lunch · pasta · quick · soup · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Spinach Tortellini Soup and New Year’s Resolutions

I fucking hate New Year’s Resolutions, but I always secretly make one anyway. I mean, not that that is exclusive to January 1st, though. I always think that starting tomorrow/next week/next month I’m going to start being healthier/more active/more organized/thinner/smarter/more well read/somehow better than I am. It doesn’t matter how much I advocate for loving yourself just as you are, society has still been telling me my entire life that I’m not good enough. I certainly don’t need the reminder every fucking January that I’m still not good enough. Fuck you, January. You don’t know me.

Self love is a constant struggle.

So, in an effort to exercise more (because I want to, not because some shitty-ass Instagram post told me to), I have been taking more aerial fitness classes (and by “more,” I mean two so far). Aerial seems like something I’d be good at… it seems like something that would come naturally to me. I have a strong yoga practice and have been doing AcroYoga for the last year and a half. I’m familiar with being upside down, and I’m pretty bendy. But I’m also heavy. And I haven’t really worked on my upper body strength a whole lot, so…

Fuck. I’m so bad at it. I took a class the other day that was taught by a teacher trainee. Walking into the ice cold studio, I was greeted by a woman in Lululemon workout gear, curled hair, and a full face of make-up. She smiled and bounced over to me, which caused nothing on her body to move at all because she was clearly 0% body fat. There’s nothing wrong with looking like a marble statue! Nothing at all! That’s just not what I look like, and I can only handle so many discouragements when entering a new fitness class. We started with some “warm-ups.” I feel like she kept emphasizing the fact that we were just “warming up”, which made my panting, sweaty ass feel like shit. She referenced our abs several times, and I was like, “What? Where?” as I glanced down at the soft rolls of my belly as I did standing planks while desperately clinging to the aerial silk. I sloppily attempted to pull my entire body weight forward, while maintaining the reverse plank in mid-air, and I kept thinking, “Dear, God, please don’t let me fall backwards before we’ve even gotten into the silks. I can’t handle that kind of humiliation today. I’m far too delicate.”

Once we got “warmed-up,” we got into some of the aerials (poses/moves with our entire bodies in the silks – often involving being upside down). Fuck yes. This is the shit I’m here for. Bring on the inversions! The first one involves hanging upside down with the silk supporting me at my waist. Okay. Great. Got it! Then she had us “crochet” our legs in the silks for added support, so that we could then reach for the silk above our feet, and pull ourselves all the way up into a seated position. You’re following this, right? Because I’m not. Literally everyone else in class just pulled themselves up like it was fucking nothing. But me? I’m over here using all my ab strength just to reach for the fabric. I literally can’t do a pull-up. Not even one. Never could. It’s just not in the cards for me. So pulling myself up from an inversion feels insurmountable. I’m just dangling there, trying first with my right hand, then my left, which is starting to make the silk sway back and forth. I grab on with both hands (finally), and pull with everything in me. Nothing happens.

Let me try that again.

No luck. At this point, I am swaying back and forth while grunting. Everyone else is resting comfortably in their makeshift chairs as the instructor has them practice doing pretty poses in the air. Fuck you guys.

I gave up and just hung upside down like that’s where I wanted to be.

Later in class there was the “vampire pose,” which consisted of pulling up so much that your entire upper body goes all the way through (with the silk wrapped around your waist) and you land in the silk, but parallel to the floor (like if you were pretending to be Superman). The instructor did it very quickly, and it honestly just looked like a great way to break my face. Fuuuuuuuck that shit. I’m out.

During Christmas week I made this soup to make sure I had something other than cookies to eat. It’s so simple and lovely, and makes the apartment smell like cozy winter evenings. Try it – you’ll love it.

 

Spinach Tortellini Soup

1 medium onion, diced

2 carrots, peels and sliced

2 stalks celery, diced

“5 ounces” baby spinach (just grab some big handfuls)

8 ounces (about) frozen tortellini (No, I did not make that shit from scratch. I’m not Martha Stewart, and I’m okay with that.)

8 cups veggie broth  (Make your own! It’s easy! Just boil shit!)*

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

A few sprinkles of dried parsley

Optional: Shredded parmesan to serve

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large soup pot (it’s easiest if this is all done in the same pot – duh). Throw in the onion, carrots, and celery. Saute until cooked through (a few minutes), stirring occasionally. Add a little salt and pepper. It’ll be more flavorful if you let the veggies brown a little bit. Stir in the veggie broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add in the frozen tortellini and simmer until they’re warmed through (I mean, just pay attention). Once everything is ready, then finally add in the spinach. It only takes a minute or two for it to fully wilt into hot soup. Sprinkle with parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some shredded parm (I’m usually a big cheese advocate, but this isn’t super necessary if your tortellini already has cheese in it… which it should, or you’re doing it wrong).

Eat up! You’ll need your energy for humiliating yourself at your next fitness class.

*Not literally.