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!

casserole · Cheese · comfort food · dinner · easy · Hot dish · lunch · potatoes · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Tater Tot Hot Dish and Stolen Laundry

Last week I was trying to do 12 things at once, which included laundry. I have lived in my apartment building for 7 years (!) and have always left my laundry in the dryer (and sometimes washer when I’m forgetful) longer than is appropriate. But! I am also of the belief that if someone’s clothes are in the way, it’s totally okay to take their clothes out and put them on top of the dryer. Anyone that is opposed to that is a fucking baby. Like, why? It’s fine. If you don’t want people touching your clothes then live in a nicer building with in-unit laundry, you goddamn princess.

So I started laundry one night last week. Once it was in the dryer, I went to T’s place for the night. Again, I do this all the time. And I’m not alone! Lots of people leave their laundry down there. When I got home the next morning and went to grab my laundry, it was gone. The reusable dryer ball that I use was placed on top of the machine, but there wasn’t a single item of clothing to be found. I called T immediately, fuming. I was pacing the halls and loudly bitching to him on the phone at 6:30 in the morning. I almost started pounding on doors, but T assured me that I did not want to be “that person.” In lieu of knocking on every door, I decided to make signs for the laundry room and front doors warning the rest of the building that we had a laundry thief among us, and to call me if they knew anything. After putting those up, I was still seething with so much anger that I decided every fucking apartment door in the building needed a sign. I ripped out notebook pages and wrote notes to tape on every single fucking door.

After putting up all the signs, I went to work in old ass scrub pants (since all my good ones had been stolen). I had also texted my landlord and maintenance person to see if they could do anything about it. Turns out there is a camera in the laundry room! Nowhere else, of course, because no one is at all concerned about the homeless person that had been living in a storage unit, but I digress. There was at least a camera where I needed it in this moment.

It ended up not coming to that, though. A few hours later, I got a phone call from one of the guys that lives in the basement units. He doesn’t speak much English, but stated that he was “very sorry” and that he would “put back.” From the little bit I understood, it sounds like it was an accident. Or at least that’s what he’s claiming. I’m sorry, do my hot pink pants and lace underwear look like the clothing of a middle aged man? And why would he make sure to remove the dryer ball? I don’t trust anyone. It sure seems like that fucker was legit trying to steal my clothes. I like to think my aggressive notes all over the building made him realize he shouldn’t fuck with me.

This recipe feels ill timed, as it is the time of resolutions. That means most people have resolved to lose weight, which makes me sad. Instead of focusing on weight, let’s focus on feeding our bodies good food. Sometimes that means food with lots of cheese and tots, and sometimes it means tons of fresh veggies. Today, for me it meant something easy and comforting. It’s been a long and hectic holiday season, and it’s cold as fuck outside here in Minneapolis. That means it’s hot dish season. I didn’t grow up with tater tot hot dish, like a “normal” Minnesotan. My mom (and extended family) is from Wisconsin, so we always called this kind of thing a casserole. And we never used tater tots. The first time I ever even ate tater tot hot dish was when I made it for my roommates in New York at the age of 23. Before that the only casserole I’d had was noodle based and had tomato sauce and ground beef.

Since becoming a vegetarian I have discovered Morningstar Farm meatless crumbles work great in any recipe that calls for ground beef. The texture is pretty spot on. Plus, it made this recipe even easier, as I literally just had to dump a bunch of bags and soup into a bowl. I did not bother cooking the crumbles beforehand, as they would have plenty of time to warm up in the oven. The whole thing took maybe 5 minutes to throw together. The preheating of the oven took longer.

I have to thank Sarah for this recipe. She comes over to hang out with T and me sometimes, and almost always makes us some fucking delicious hot dish. I like to put an egg on it for our hungover asses the next morning.

Tater Tot Hot Dish

2 bags (12oz each) Morningstar Farm meatless crumbles (or 1.5 pounds of cooked ground beef)

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1 cup milk

1 bags frozen mixed veggies (I used 10oz bags and they were a mixture of peas, green beans, and corn)

1 pound frozen tater tots (you’ll have leftover)

2ish cups sharp cheddar cheese (enough to cover)

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl mix together the meatless crumbles, veggies, soup, and milk (plus a little salt and pepper). Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish and cover with shredded cheese. Finally, line up all those cute little tots on top. Throw it in the oven for 45-60 minutes. The tots should be crispy and delicious.

Put an egg on it for breakfast, especially when hungover. Then get your second sleep to avoid a full day of your hangover’s bullshit.

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.

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 · 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.