casserole · cats · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · quick · Rice · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Weeknight Veggie Rice Casserole and CATS

T and I have been getting settled into the new place. We’re finding our routines and learning how to live with another person. It’s a lot of compromising and communication, which neither of us are used to after living alone for the last few years (more for him). The cats are getting used to it, too. And by “getting used to it,” of course I actually mean that they are causing the loudest fucking ruckus every goddamn morning at 4am. T didn’t believe me that we should wait until 7am to feed them in the morning. He insists that we feed them right when we wake up at 6am. Well, I don’t know about other cats, but MY fucking asshole cats start screaming for food at least an hour and a half before it’s actually time to feed them. And they are happy to teach other cats all their asshole tricks, too. Bourdain usually starts it. He will zip around the apartment, often taking the time to dart across our sleeping bodies several times before knocking the books off the bookshelf in the living room. Then, when we finally get up to wrangle him, he shoots under a chair or behind a box, and starts biting if you reach for him. It’s fun. The only way to catch him is to bring out food, which only reinforces the behavior. So I end up throwing a small handful of dry food into the spare bedroom, and closing the door as he runs in after it. I’ll go back to bed, but now the rest of them are all riled up. Nevertheless, I crawl into bed and cover my head with a pillow, hoping for the best.

 

THEN. Motherfucking Harriet will start nibbling on the large Ikea plant in the living room. I don’t know why we even purchased the fucking thing. It didn’t work last time, and it’s not going to work this time. We are cat people, not plant people. Despite all of our efforts, Harriet fucking eats the leaves every godforsaken morning. And then she proceeds to barf them up on the one nice rug we have, not the wood floors. EVERY. FUCKING. MORNING. And if that isn’t enough, Cecil will attack her right after the barfing incident (which I have taken to ignoring), which causes screams so loud I have to believe the neighbors think we’re running some sort of weird cat fighting ring at 4:30am everyday. I end up having to put her in the bedroom with Bourdain to both protect the plants and for her own safety (we can’t trust Cecil when he’s hungry). Once she is contained, it gets better. But we still have to deal with Cecil jumping on us. In fact, he’ll often sit next to my head and just stare down at my face until I wake up. It’s creepy as fuck. The only quiet, well behaved one is Chuck. He’s such a good, fluffy boy.

Oh wait, that’s not accurate at all. Once the others stop with their shenanigans, Chuck will start yowling uncontrollably in the living room. We have a loft, so the master bedroom opens into the living room, which means he’s yowling LOUDLY right fucking next to us. It’s fucking horrific.

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Oh, and BTW, this all repeats itself at dinnertime, too. It literally just happened while I was writing this. It’s just less annoying at 6pm versus 4am. Ya know?

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Last weekend T and I decided to explore the neighborhood by bar hopping. I had my very first grape ape, and still made us a wholesome dinner. These were things I had on hand, so there was no shopping needed. It was quick and easy, and tasted great with an egg on it for breakfast, too.

Weeknight Veggie Rice Casserole

1.5 cups dry brown rice

3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 can (14oz) diced fire roasted tomatoes

1 can (14oz) chickpeas, drained

Zest and juice of one lemon

1 small onion, diced

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped parsley

4 cups chopped spinach or Swiss Chard

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large sauce pan, boil water. Once boiling, add in dry brown rice and simmer for 17 minutes. Drain and rinse. Set aside. Saute the greens with a little olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once wilted, set aside. In a large skillet over medium high heat saute onion in olive oil until translucent (5ish minutes). Add in the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes before adding in the rice. Mix well and let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Pour in broth, lemon zest and juice, and chickpeas. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir everything together well. Add in half of the feta and the cooked greens. Pour entire mixture into a large baking dish (9 x 13). Sprinkle with remaining feta and parsley. Bake for 20-25 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes.

Clockwise from the top: Chuck (obviously), Bourdain, Harriet, Cecil

cake · dessert · easy · Fruit · gluten free · jam · peanut butter · quick · vegetarian · Yummy

PB & J Mug Cake

I am having a lot of life changes lately. Lots of good things, but it’s A LOT. One of those exciting things is a booth at my local farmer’s market! I decided to inquire about selling baked goods at a tiny farmer’s market 2 blocks from my apartment. I didn’t want to start with one of the big ones, as that felt really fucking overwhelming. Plus, I wasn’t sure they’d accept me being so new to the scene. So I chose the perfect, supportive little church-run market. Of course, I didn’t know I’d choose one that was run by a church when I decided on the name of my booth. I purchased the name Eat Me Bakery, LLC in January thinking it was cheeky and fun (I mean, it is).

 

When I got a call back from the person in charge of the farmer’s market last week, he was extremely encouraging in almost every aspect. Once we were winding down the conversation, and it was looking promising that I was going to be accepted, he said he had to discuss something kind of uncomfortable. He prefaced by saying that he was not the only one with concerns, and proceeded to ask if my name was “set in stone.” I was hoping my name would slide by unnoticed, since it could also be considered an Alice in Wonderland reference, but I wasn’t fooling anyone. I’m also a terrible liar, so there was no way I was going to try to convince him that it was anything other than the crude phrase that it clearly was. So I’m looking for a new name! Something rated G, but nothing too sweet. And I’ll hold onto Eat Me Bakery, since it’s still a fucking great idea. It just needs a different venue, and that’s okay. The organizer of the farmer’s market was a great sport about the whole thing, assuring me that he understood the name was just meant to be playful, but that it also wasn’t appropriate for this setting. That’s completely fair.

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Something I’d like to sell at my booth is peanut butter and jelly sandwich cookies. I haven’t had time to play with the recipe yet, so I did something quick today with those same flavors. Peanut butter and jelly is my favorite flavor combination. I am baffled by the lack of options outside of an elementary school cafeteria. I mean, why aren’t there cookies and donuts and muffins full of these flavors??? And they could be done in SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. The mind reels. So many missed opportunities. I was fucking psyched when I discovered this mug cake recipe on Food52’s website. I needed something simple and sweet today to counter all the salty as fuck meat my body has been craving for the last 24 hours. Yes, I gave into the meat for 2 meals. I’m mostly a vegetarian, but I do have my moments. Not that I need to justify myself to anyone, because I fucking don’t (I’m talking to you, Hannah). This little mug cake was the perfect fix. It’s gooey and rich, with light sweetness from the jelly. I used triple berry jam made locally, but any cheap grape jelly would work perfectly well. Pick your favorite flavor, and go nuts (ha!).

This cake is unintentionally gluten-free, too!

 

PB & J Mug Cake

4 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

2 tablespoons jelly/jam (any flavor)

I used a small bowl to mix everything, so I had enough room to make sure all the ingredients were incorporated well. You could opt to mix everything in the mug/jar as well. Start by mixing everything except the jelly. Stir/whisk until smooth. Add a tablespoon of jelly and swirl into the batter (without fully incorporating). My jelly was actually jam, and quite thick. I ended up kind of cutting it into the batter, so little chunks of jam remained. That way you get little pockets of jam, which is fucking delightful. Pour everything into a mug or 1/2 pint mason jar. Add another tablespoon of jam on top, pressed lightly right into the top of the batter. Microwave for 50-60 seconds. Sift a little powdered sugar on top if you’re feelin’ fancy. Let cool for a couple of minutes. Then SHOVEL INTO YOUR FACE.

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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!

Asian food · avocado · Dating · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · quick · Rice · Sauces · snacks · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Vietnamese Summer Rolls and New Pants!

I did it… I retired my private pants. It would have been a sad day, except I now have 2 pairs of the GREATEST PANTS ON EARTH. My boyfriend (that’s right, I said it) refers to them as my “Aladdin pants,” due to their majestic flowy-ness (He was actually mocking me, but I’m sure it was done with love). I had plans with him the other day, and he texted ahead of time asking if we could just stay in. I was like, “Fuck yeah.  I was planning on wearing my fancy sweatpants anyway.” Since my new fancy sweatpants have huge slits up the outside of each leg, I couldn’t actually wear them to his place (it’s too cold for that nonsensical bullshit). That means I showed up in leggings and literally took my pants off in his entryway to put on my new, sexy sweatpants. Yes, sweatpants can totally be sexy (he would disagree, but we’re not asking him). He did agree on their functionality, stating that they are essentially the pants version of “sticking a leg out from under the blanket when sleeping.”

I bought a second pair to keep at his place, so I can stop stripping in his entryway. I’m sure he’s disappointed.

I also wore these to the AcroYoga retreat last weekend. I brought an entire bag of clothes – probably 3 full outfits. But I only wore these fucking amazing pants, and the outfit I drove in (both there and back). I mean, honestly, why put on something that will make me less happy?

Speaking of acro, my lovely acro friend, Jamie, taught me how to make these rolls. The recipe called for cilantro, but she is a kind soul that would never even think of having such a monstrous thing near me. They are oddly filling, so make sure you’re hungry. Also, we ate them with mushroom and tofu miso soup, which was a nice appetizer with it. They’re crazy simple, and really refreshing in the middle of winter. They’d also be nice in the summer when you don’t want to turn the stove or oven on.

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Vietnamese Summer Rolls

Rice paper

Rice noodles (cooked according to package instructions)

Big leaves of lettuce (I used Romaine, but they were a little too huge)

Avocado, sliced (critical to add because otherwise everything just tastes like crunchy water – you need fat!!)

Carrots/Cucumber/Bell pepper, sliced thinly

Bean sprouts (I forgot, which made me sad)

Siracha

Peanut butter and Hoisin (equal parts, mixed together, for the sauce)

YOU WILL NEED WAX PAPER FOR THIS RECIPE

For the rice paper: Use a large saute pan filled with warm water (NOT HOT) to soak the rice paper. You’ll do this one at a time, and they only need to be soaked for maybe one full minute at most (I kept feeling mine, and pulled it out once it was soft-ish).* Once the rice paper is soft and foldable, pull it out of the water and spread it out on wax paper. You can lay out a few before starting to fill them, but don’t let them sit too long (they get sticky).

For the filling: Start by placing one large lettuce leaf in the center of each rice paper. From there, layer avocado and veggies of choice. Top with a small handful of rice noodles and a heavy squirt of Siracha.

To roll: Fold the top and bottom of the rice paper over the filling. Then choose a side to start at – pull that side of the rice paper all the way across the filling and tuck it under the lettuce leaf. Continue to roll in that direction. The rice paper will stick to itself. It takes a few tries to get it right, but the janky ones are delicious, too, so don’t stress about it.

For the sauce: Mix equal parts peanut butter and hoisin sauce together. I ended up adding a tiny bit of warm water as well, because the sauce was super thick. The sauce adds a much needed fat as well, so definitely don’t skip it.

Serve with the sauce on the side. Race your friend to see how many each of you can eat (it’ll be shockingly few). Make more sauce and eat it on everything.

*There is definitely an inappropriate joke to be made here.

Cheese · comfort food · Dating · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · potatoes · quick · soup · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Vegan Baked Potato Soup

Y’all. I have been a hermit lately. And by hermit I mean not going to 8 yoga classes a week while also going out with friends/going to friends’ houses several times per week while surviving on 6ish hours of sleep per night (that is like zero to me). Instead, I am spending a lot of time home alone watching The Mindy Project or frequently joining another for some quality Netflix time (while discovering Stranger Things! ZOMG). During my Summer of Anxiety last year, I made the habit of socializing NONSTOP. In fact, I even retook the Meyers Briggs personality test and had actually changed from introvert to extrovert. My personality literally changed due to my anxiety level. How is that even possible?

After that summer things got better, but my schedule did not slow down. In fact, I replaced a lot of my friend time with dating. Remember that one time I went on 6 dates in 5 days? Within that same week I had my “soul crushed” by one of those 6 dates (we’re actually still friends, and were clearly not a good romantic match, so it all worked out). It was all very exhausting. I kept trying to slow everything down, but that seemed impossible while I was still swiping on Tinder.

Being alone often triggered my anxiety, so I made myself as busy as I possibly could.

In the last few months, I have finally been able to actively slow down my life. My anxiety has calmed, and I have found time for myself in a way that hasn’t been possible in a really long time. You know what really helped with that?

Deleting Tinder. Fuuuuuck. Those dates made for good stories, but that was definitely more exhausting than 8 yoga classes a week.

It’s that time of year where many of us start hibernating. Hibernating means comfort food. I literally ate various forms of bread and cheese for 4 meals on Sunday. Yes, four meals. In my defense, I was hungover from the 12 hours of drinking the day before, on top of having a cold that won’t quit. So, no, I haven’t slowed down completely. I’m just finding new things that bring me joy, and not saying yes to everything.

I’m also budgeting like crazy. I made this cozy soup last week without making an extra trip to the grocery store. My new rule is only one trip a week, and only $60 MAX. Last week I only spent $42, and that included 3 different types of cheese. Even shopping at a co-op, this shit is possible. This potato soup is rich and creamy without the cream (cream is expensive). You could definitely add other veggies to it, or even some chickpeas or quinoa for protein. I kept it pretty simple, but did top it with some fancy-ass smoked cheddar cheese (I know that means it’s no longer vegan, but I’m not vegan, so I don’t care).

Side note: These photos aren’t great because of the lack of daylight since daylight savings time ended. It’s been impossible for me to cook and photograph mid-day. It’ll get better, I promise!

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Vegan Baked Potato Soup

3 stalks celery, chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small onion, diced

4 cups veggie broth (I suggested keeping the concentrate around, as it is cheaper and easier – or you can make your own to be really thrifty)

3 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced

1 cup vegan milk of choice (I used cashew, but canned coconut would be creamier)

3 tablespoons flour (to thicken) – can easily be subbed for gluten free flour, or omitted

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional toppings: Cheddar cheese, green onion, bacon/fake bacon

In a large pot with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, saute the onion, carrots, and celery over medium-high heat until they soften (3-5 minutes). Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and the flour. Mix well – the veggies could clump together. Cook for another minute, stirring consistently. Add the potatoes and broth, making sure to incorporate everything well (no flour lumps! I believe in you!). Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Then you have 2 options…. 1. Use an immersion blender (or regular blender in batches) right in the pot to blend everything smooth, OR 2. Scoop half of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth, then return it back to the pot. Option #2 will leave you with chunks, which is my preference. You do you. Once blended, add the milk and some more salt and pepper. Scoop into bowls, top with cheese and green onion, brown up a motherfuckin’ grilled cheese because you’re sick and deserve to have melted cheese with every meal, and go back to watching Stranger Things in your PJ’s.