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 · 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.

Curry · Dating · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · Indian food · quick · Rice · Sauces · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian

Vegan Chickpea Curry

I’m doing this new thing where I actually have some kind of schedule with posting blogs. You know, like a responsible adult that actually wants regular readers. But, fuck… having a deadline is exhausting. I thought I’d start posting every Sunday… then last Sunday passed without a post. I got one done by Tuesday, so then I was like, “Great! I’ll just post every Tuesday.” But now, here I am… Tuesday night. No post yet. I’m working on it, but I really just want to watch The L Word and go to bed early. I was going to do it earlier today, but then I got tired after therapy and decided to take myself to a movie (it had to be done).

I made this recipe a few days ago, and can still smell curry when I walk into my apartment. The smell reminds me of this guy I dated last winter who claimed to have a housekeeper. He even made up this elaborate lie about having her over for Thanksgiving so she wouldn’t be alone (I know this was a lie because I actually hung out with him on Thanksgiving and he said he hadn’t done anything earlier in the day). He told the lie a few weeks prior. I suppose I could give him the benefit of the doubt, right? Maybe plans had changed for some reason. Or maybe he’s a goddamn liar that was trying to seem like a really sweet, thoughtful guy. Anyway, the first (and only) time I walked into his apartment, I was hit with the smell of curry. Seems to me like an apartment that is professionally cleaned regularly might smell of cleaning products (and not look like a dirty bachelor pad). Honestly, I didn’t mind the smell. Curry smells delicious. The issue I had was the filthy kitchen that was just packed with shit. I mean, why does one dude need all those gadgets? And why is absolutely NOTHING clean? Where has this housekeeper been? Oh yeah, she doesn’t fucking exist and you’re a goddamn liar. I mean, honestly, if you’re going to lie about something like that you should at least see it all the way through and clean your apartment. BE CONVINCING AND CONSISTENT.

We didn’t see each other again after that because I just wasn’t that interested. He insisted upon texting me once every month or two afterwards, though, just to see if I’d changed my mind(I didn’t). I had deleted his number, but always knew it was him anyway by the fucking ridiculous string of emojis that accompanied every. single. fucking. text. I would still play the game of, “I’m sorry… who is this,” which always pissed him off (and made me laugh). If I tell you to delete my number, just fucking do it. I don’t say something like that lightly. It means you fucked up beyond repair and we both need to move on. Plus, we only went out a few times and I just wasn’t that invested. If I’m on the fence about it anyway AND you’re being a dick… it’s not gonna happen.

I would like it noted that I didn’t stop seeing him because of his dirty kitchen. I’m not that shallow. I stopped seeing him because he was ambivalent about seeing me and would often forget to respond to my texts. I felt like a back-up plan, and that’s just not good enough for me. At 32, I now know I deserve more than that.

I’m finally putting the final touches on this post today (Thursday), though it was mostly written on Tuesday with the intention of posting that day! Fuck. Next week, maybe. I’ll get my shit together one of these day and post on a regular basis. Gotta keep my 20 or so readers happy! Also, I have to keep creating content for Humberto’s English class to read in Brazil. My blog is literally teaching people English. What is your’s doing?

Though, to be honest, this blog is really not appropriate for young teenagers. Am I right? I mean, I guess it’s no worse than me watching Pretty Woman at 5 years old, or obsessing over Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love To You” at the tender age of nine. This is definitely more appropriate than that. Why was no one concerned about that?

Vegan Chickpea Curry

2 medium onions, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 tablespoons curry paste

1 can coconut milk (full fat, unsweetened)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 large handful of Swiss chard, chopped

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 handful cherry tomatoes, chopped

1 handful basil, chopped

1 teaspoon maple syrup

Cooked rice of choice

Cook the onions with the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add in the curry paste, coconut milk, and a pinch of salt. Stir well, letting the curry paste dissolve. Then add in the chickpeas, Swiss chard, and soy sauce. Let it simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. It’ll thicken a little bit. Throw in the tomatoes, basil, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Taste that shit. Add more shit if needed. Serve with rice and some fucking delicious naan bread.

If someone tells you to delete their number, just fucking do it. Don’t be a dick.

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

Vegan Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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Vegan Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups water

1 cup chopped onion

2 – 14 oz cans coconut milk

2/3 cup uncooked wild rice

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

1 cup diced carrots

3-4 stalks celery, chopped

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

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup cold water

Salt and pepper (a shit ton)

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

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

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

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

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

Breakfast Stir-Fry

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

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

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

Lenny. I’ll never forget you.

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

Breakfast Stir-Fry

2-3 button mushrooms

A few tablespoons of chopped onion

A few tablespoons of chopped bell pepper

A small handful of spinach (or any green)

1 egg

1 scoop of brown rice, cooked

Hot sauce

Salt and pepper

Olive oil or non-stick spray

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

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

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

 

comfort food · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · quick · Rice · Tacos · vegan · vegetarian

Veggie Tacos and Drunken Tinder-ing

It happened. I caught the feelings. And my soul was crushed.

Again, I can be very dramatic. But that doesn’t make my feelings any less valid.

Went to Hannah’s house last night to drown my sorrows in wine and snuggle on the couch. Her husband made us pizza and we watched Netflix  (and Sherlock! OMG!) while I drunkenly looked for validation by feverishly swiping on Tinder (Spoiler: I didn’t find it).

Life advice from me to you: Do NOT use dating apps while drunk. It never ends well. Just don’t fucking do it.

Also: Tinder will never validate you.

I woke up this morning with a list of the most disappointing matches I’ve ever seen. And it just continued throughout the day as people continued to swipe right on me, reminding me of my drunken mistake(s). I’ve never done so much unmatching in my life. Not only that, but I gave out my phone number to a handful of people, and woke up to texts from them. I couldn’t remember who was who, and ended up just telling them all to delete my number. I vaguely remember interacting with them the night before as I looked over some of the texts. One of them was convinced I was some kind of spam bot, and told me to send him a selfie. I told him to stop being weird. At least I was in my right mind enough to not start sending drunken photos. Could’ve been worse (I mean, I could’ve gotten a bunch of dick pics or something- barf). I was also really fucking snarky with these guys. I’m so sick of messaging someone on Tinder, and getting no questions about me. They go on and on about themselves (which is good – I want to know about them!), but then they don’t ask me any follow up questions. Or the questions they ask are really lame… like, “What are you looking for on Tinder?” Okay, that’s an acceptable question, but also ask me something about myself! Fuck. Do you not want to know anything about me? Does that not fucking matter? OMG, also, not one fucking guy I’ve gone out with has asked to read my blog. NOT ONE. And almost none of them ask me about Acro, even though it’s mentioned in my profile, and I have photos. So last night I flat out said to one of them, “Interact with me! Ask me questions!” You know what he asked me?

“What are you looking for on Tinder?”

Fuuuuuuck.

What the fuck do you think I’m looking for?! Human connection, mostly. Preferably of the romantic variety, though that’s not required. Duh. Isn’t that what everyone is looking for to some extent?!

I can’t fucking stand this shit. I need a break. It is mentally exhausting to continually put myself out there. I can’t do it anymore. No dates this week. Just me, my amazing friends, and all the fucking yoga.

I have the best friends in the entire world. Seriously. How did I get so lucky to be constantly surrounded by such empathetic and insightful women? Fuck. I love you guys so much.

Thank you, Hannah, for taking care of me last night, for letting me be unapologetically myself (aka: a mess), and for doing drunken Acro with me. I’m sorry about your knee. I owe you some fucking veggie tacos for sure. Or a taco cake! Next week. I promise. ❤

Veggie tacos are a go-to meal in my house. Mostly because they’re so fucking easy, and I almost always have rice and/or beans in the fridge to go with ’em.

Veggie Tacos

1 onion, sliced

1 bell pepper, sliced

Corn tortillas

Olive oil

Taco seasonings (chili powder, cayenne, garlic, onion powder, cumin, red pepper flakes)

Salsa

Sour cream

Optional: thinly sliced radishes tossed with lemon juice and salt, lettuce, cheese, avocado, whatever the fuck else you want to top your taco with

Serve with rice and/or beans

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Throw in the onion and pepper slices and generously sprinkle with the various taco seasonings (don’t over think it – just throw a few shakes of each seasoning in there!). Stir the veggies, making sure to coat everything in olive oil and seasoning. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and peppers have softened. Take however many tortillas you want, and char them over an open flame (or microwave them if you’re lame) on the stove top. This can also be done with an electric stove, but it takes longer and isn’t as fun. For directions on how to char the tortillas, check out the Taco Cake post. Fill your tortillas with a scoop of veggies, maybe some rice and beans, and any topping you want (I like salsa, sour cream, and radishes). Shovel that shit right into your mouth, along with 7 glasses of wine. Or beer. Whatthefuckever. But, whatever you do, do NOT drink and Tinder.

comfort food · Dating · dinner · gluten free · healthy · Rice · vegetarian

Squash Risotto with a Side of Authenticity

Tonight was the first night of the last section of my yoga teacher training. This section is titled Intuition and Authenticity. It’s actually the first section of the training, but I missed it during the last round, because I decided to sign up for the training super late on a fucking whim. Sometimes I think all the best decisions are made on a whim. I remember the day I signed up for training. I was walking to work at 7:30 in the morning when I impulsively pulled out my phone and started emailing the studio owner (who is also one of my favorite humans). It just felt like something I absolutely had to do. I had to. Have you ever felt like that?

Anyway, here I am… almost done with training. Already teaching. And constantly preaching about authenticity and vulnerability. But I’m not always authentic or vulnerable. Why? Because it’s fucking scary. I thought I could handle being authentic while I navigate dating, but I fucking can’t. I keep telling my dates that I hate games, and that I wish people would be more upfront about their feelings/intentions/etc. But when it comes down to it, I don’t always do that.

I went on 6 dates over the course of 5 days recently (with 4 different people – yes, I am exhausted). I found myself being authentic about 75% of the time, depending on the date and how much I liked them. The other 25% of the time I spent trying to figure out what they wanted me to say. One of the guys was given the impression that I liked him a whole lot more than I did. That was totally my fault. I wanted to like him… but I just fucking didn’t. He was weird and talked over me a lot. But still, I should have been clearer about that in the moment, so I didn’t have to blindside him the next morning with a text message. Another guy I didn’t like because he was super rude to our server. I hate ghosting… I think it’s really fucking mean, and I say so on my Tinder profile. I gave this guy a few days of staying matched on Tinder before I simply unmatched him. That is basically ghosting. I’m not proud of myself, but I have to believe he would have contacted me at least once in those few days if he had been interested anyway. I won’t do it again… I promise. I just felt overwhelmed by all the matches. Ugh. I know… that’s not a real excuse. I’m honestly sorry I did it. One of the other ones is really interesting, but just too out there for me. I think we’ll probably be friends, though. I should probably tell him that… lest he get the wrong idea. And the last one…. well, he made it to 3 dates (with hopefully a 4th soon). This is where I’m struggling the most. I like him a lot. And suddenly I feel raw and vulnerable. Keep in mind… we met last week. There is almost nothing invested here. And maybe nothing will ever be invested here… that’s not the point. The point is that this is the first time I’m feeling like this in years. And this is the whole fucking point of dating, isn’t it? The feelings. They strike out of fucking nowhere, with the person you least expect… and then you’re left panicking about whether or not you’re enough. Fuck. And I’ve never tried to navigate feelings like this in an authentic way. It’s so fucking hard. It’s hard to stand in front of someone and say, “Hey, I like you… do you like me, too?” Because they might fucking say no. Or, as I told my friend Danielle after she said that you’re supposed to find someone you like, “But then they can CRUSH YOUR SOUL.”

I can be a little bit dramatic.

Anyway, the point of this story is not this guy in particular… it’s just interesting for me to rediscover what it’s like to really like someone, and figure out how to interact with them without losing myself in the process. And it’s fun to know I can feel like this again. I didn’t expect it, and yeah, it’s a little scary… but it’s also a fun period of growth.

I will leave you with 2 little nuggets of wisdom from one of my closest friends. She said the following inspiring statements:

“It will be uncomfortable to have feelings, let them happen anyway.”

“Be thankful you’ve found something that scares you, pushes you out of your comfort zone. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, be glad you have the ability to feel like this. The alternative is a gray world of ‘meh.'”

I love that shit. A gray world of “meh.”

Fuck.

This is another one of those mail-order recipes. It’s from Blue Apron, and again, I only did it because they had a free week coupon. I was like, free food?! Fuck yeah! I’m going to type out the recipe that they gave me, and then tell you which ingredients/steps were a waste of fucking time at the end. Okay. Here goes…

Butternut Squash Risotto

3/4 cup carnaroli rice

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 ounces brussels sprouts, thinly sliced (unnecessary)

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (and cleaned of the innards)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons Mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons chopped chestnuts, peeled and roasted (completely unnecessary)

1 shallot, diced

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Spread squash onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, moving things around to get everything coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast squash for 14-16 minutes, stirring halfway through, until browned and tender.

While the squash is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add shallots and celery, seasoning with salt and pepper, and cooking 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic, cooking for another minute or so, stirring frequently. Add the rice and cook  2-3 mintues, stirring frequently until toasted and fragrant. Add 3 1/2 cups of water, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-22 minutes, stirring often. The rice will absorb most of the water, and will be al dente (slightly firm to the bite).

Once the risotto has cooked for about 15 minutes, in medium skillet, start sauteing the brussels sprouts in a little olive oil over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the chestnuts and half of the butter and cook for another 2ish minutes.

Once the rice is finished cooking, add the mascarpone cheese, squash, and remaining butter to the pot. Once combined, add a little more salt and pepper (to taste), and scoop into bowls. Top with the brussels sprouts and chestnuts, plus a sprinkling of parmesan. Or skip the brussels sprouts and chestnuts, and go for some mushrooms instead. I don’t think the toppings were necessary at all here… it was fucking awesome without them. Plus, who the fuck buys peeled chestnuts? If they hadn’t come in a neat little package with the rest of my ingredients,  I wouldn’t have even known where to purchase them.

When you’re done with all of that, eat your fancy risotto and promise yourself to never ghost someone ever again. Seriously. Don’t be a dick.

Serve with a glass of wine to help you unwind from your dating marathon. Then take a nap.