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

Basics · healthy · Rice · travel · vacation · vegetarian · Yummy

How to Make Brown Rice + Costa Rican Adventures

Okay, so here’s the thing. I flew in from Costa Rica this morning at 1am. It was 2 flights, a 4 hour layover, a confused and lost Lyft driver, and a 90 degree temperature difference. By the time I corrected my Lyft driver, picked up my car, made a tampon run, dropped off my bag, showered, and collapsed into bed at T’s, it was 3am. So forgive me for not having pictures of this week’s recipe. It’s really because I wasn’t planning on posting about rice this week. I was originally going to do spinach dip, but that will have to wait. Who the fuck cares about spinach dip when I’ve spent the last week eating the most delicious Costa Rican food? So I thought I’d help everyone out with the constant fucking struggle that is rice. The photos can inspire ways to serve your rice, but I will have no photos of the process, or even of rice I’ve cooked myself. I think you’ll all live.

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My friend, Liz, and I went to Costa Rica together for a week. I always forget that she doesn’t like swimming, especially in the ocean, which is literally my favorite thing. So imagine my surprise when she leaps at the chance to jump off the roof of our catamaran tour boat. The guides gave us 15 minutes of swim time before bringing us all to the shore of a secluded white sand beach (I know, right?!). I didn’t honestly think she’d want to swim at all, much less dive in from the roof. She doesn’t even like heights! As much as I love swimming and the ocean, I wasn’t even 100% sure I wanted to jump from the roof. I thought I’d climb down the ladder like a fucking wuss, dipping one chubby leg in at a time. But I can’t be the one to discourage her wave of bravery. Who am I to rain on her fucking parade? We were doing this. As we climbed to the roof of the rocking boat, I immediately tripped on the rope that had literally just been pointed out to me. Off to a good start. Just great. We made our way to the edge of the roof, got some reassurance from those that jumped before us, held hands, and leaped into the dark green water below. I landed ass first, obviously. I must have panicked mid-air, and decided to put my largest bit first. Makes sense, I guess.

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Snacks from our catamaran tour

We also spent our time eating gallo pinto and casados con pollo. Gallo pinto is a traditional breakfast dish made up of rice and beans mixed together with some spices and hot sauce (and cilantro, which is NOT food). We had ours with eggs and a side of fruit every morning. Luckily, I was never able to taste the cilantro in the gallo pinto.

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Gallo pinto with eggs

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The “weird” casados with an egg, ranch dressing, tortillas, AND mashed potatoes?

 

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A more traditional casados

Casados is a traditional plate of food, usually consisting of rice, beans, salad with “ugly lemon” squeezed over the top, fried plantains, and your choice of meat or fish. I took off my vegetarian label to experience the local cuisine, and opted to try pork once and fish many times. Each restaurant had a different form of casados, some of them even adding an egg on top (Liz was baffled). Within 3 days, I realized that I had made the grave mistake of not properly preparing my body for a sudden influx of beans. That, combined with a serious lack of water intake, caused bloating like I’d never experienced. All night long my stomach was making the saddest sounding whale noises, while my lower abdomen stuck out far enough to be a mid-term pregnancy. You’re welcome for that visual (and audio).

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Casados con chicharrones (fatty pork bits)

Brown Rice

1 cup dry, long grain brown rice

6(+/-) cups water, divided

1 teaspoon salt

Olive oil

In a medium sauce pan, bring 3-4 cups water to a boil. Add in the rice and let boil for 17 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Drizzle ~2 tablespoons of oil into a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is relatively hot and has thoroughly coated the pan. Add in the rice and keep stirring as it sizzles. Allow it to fry slightly for 2-3 minutes as you continue to stir. Add in 3 cups of water and the salt. Stir everything well, making sure none of the rice is sticking to the bottom. Lower to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for 25 minutes. Make sure to stay close, though. You will likely need to add in some more water (probably about 1/2 cup). DO NOT STIR ONCE THE SIMMERING HAS STARTED. If you do, you’ll fuck it up. Don’t be a fuck up. Also, if you abandon your rice and start to smell it burning from another room – it’s too fucking late. That shit will be all fucked up. Trust me, I know. I’ve fucked up many a batches of rice.

Serve it with SO many things – tacos, burritos, meat/fish, eggs, roasted veggies.

Here are some of the critters we saw:

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Asian food · broccoli · comfort food · corn · dinner · easy · healthy · lunch · mushrooms · pasta · Ramen · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

“Homemade” Vegetarian Ramen

It can be difficult to find good ramen as a vegetarian. I’m lucky to live in an urban area with access to various ramen restaurants, but 90% of what is offered is meat based. Then again, 90% of all restaurant foods are meat based. The struggle is fucking real.

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Fry those little fuckers on every single side. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.

When Cortney came to visit last summer, I decided to take her to United Noodles, which is an Asian market in Minneapolis. It’s the one that T first took me to back when we were still figuring out if we were dating or not (check it out here). At the time I was completely fascinated by all the products, and ended up focusing hard on the sweets. Mochi is one of my favorite foods, but it can be hard to come by in the Midwest. This place housed a plethora of mochi options. None of which were as good as the fresh shit in Hawaii, but I digress. Despite not serving fresh mochi, it’s the best Asian market in the cities as far as I know. Since Cortney is Hawaiian, I knew it would be of interest to her. We ended up deciding to make ramen at home, which I didn’t think was possible. She had a plan, and showed me exactly what we’d need. Without her, this recipe wouldn’t exist. She knew the good miso paste to purchase, and which noodles were best (I didn’t take a pic of those – sorry!), as well as how to add the “right” toppings. Of course, we also loaded up on all the bomb-ass Asian snacks (Ube mochi to be specific, as well as Pocky sticks, and various cookies). It was a goddamn feast when we got home!

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Last week T got a hankering for ramen, so we made the trip back to United Noodles. I picked up all the ingredients to make some veggie ramen at home (even opting to omit the tofu to speed up the process – that shit can be time consuming), all while he was loading up on the prepackaged dried shit. When he said he wanted ramen, he meant instant. It still blows my mind how frequently he’s counting those as a meal without adding a single vegetable. Is anything really a meal when a vegetable isn’t included? Oh wait, this is America. Sigh. Nevermind.

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This is the good stuff. If you can find this, use it. If not, don’t panic. It’s just soup. Calm the fuck down. Any miso paste should be fine. 

If you want to simplify things, you can always leave out the tofu. If you eat meat, you can always add in meat. It’s not that fucking difficult. This is a sort of “figure it out as you go and don’t be a dumbass” type of recipe. It’s not specific amounts meticulously measured out, but rather a lot of throwing in things that you think will taste good. If it’s something you enjoy in other things, add it here. Some people think it’s weird that I like to add corn. To those people I simple say, “Fuck off, and make your own ramen.”

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“Homemade” Vegetarian Ramen

4 oz extra firm tofu

4-6 tablespoons miso paste (to taste)

4 cups water

Salt and pepper

16oz Noodles (dried or fresh are fine – can easily be found in any Asian market, or the Asian foods section of larger grocery stores), follow cooking directions on packaging

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Any or all of the following optional toppings: boiled egg, green onions, enoki mushrooms (see photo to right), bok choy, seaweed, frozen corn, bamboo shoots, any dark leafy greens, broccoli, chili oil, sriracha, etc (the sky is the limit – go nuts)

Bring water to a boil and add in miso paste. Stir and simmer until fully dissolved into water. Taste to see if you need a little more (I like mine a bit stronger). Simmer for a few minutes.

For the tofu: Place between 2 layers of paper towels and place a heavy plate/pan/book on top. Wait about 20 minutes to allow the weight of the plate to squeeze out the excess water. Cut into 1-2″ cubes. In a hot skillet (over medium to medium-high heat), drizzle enough oil to cover the surface (I like to use olive oil with a splash of sesame oil for flavor) , and evenly distribute the cubed tofu. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Fry for a few minutes on each size, trying not to move things around too much. It can get smokey depending on the type of oil you use, so be aware of that and lower the heat if needed. After a few minutes, those little fuckers should be browned on one side. That’s when you flip ’em all over. I like to brown all sides of the cube, but that’s up to you. I just love ’em extra crispy.

Place a handful of cooked noodles into a large bowl. Ladle over some of the miso broth and top with tofu and veggies of choice. Drizzle with any hot sauce or chili oil you like, and dig in!

Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Anyone else have a go-to recipe that is a lot easier than it looks? Comment below!

Did you make this recipe? Post a photo and tag @kelseyskitchen23 on Instagram!

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

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta

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

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

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

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

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

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

I poured myself another glass of wine.

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

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

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

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Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Pasta (originally found here)

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

Olive oil

A handful of chopped fresh sage

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cups veggie broth

12oz linguine (or long pasta of your choice)

Salt and pepper (always)

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

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

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

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

 

 

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.

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

Farro Arugula Salad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Farro Arugula Salad (inspired by HelloFresh)

3/4 cup farro

1 yam (or sweet potato), peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, sliced into larger chunks

1/2 lemon

1/4 cup dried cranberries

Olive oil

3 cups veggie stock

Arugula (as much as you want)

A small handful of sunflower seeds

Goat cheese

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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

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

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