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)

 

 

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.

comfort food · dinner · easy · gravy · Holiday recipes · lunch · mushrooms · potatoes · quick · Sauces · sides · thanksgiving · vegetarian · Yummy

Mushroom Herb Gravy and Car Shopping

Holy fuck you guys. I bought a new car just in the nick of time. It’s a fucking winter wonderland out there, and I am fully prepared with a car that has working heat (and a fully functional engine that doesn’t threaten to stop at any given moment). Hallelujah!

I bought a purple Honda Fit, and promptly named her Vivian (“Viv” for short). She and I are in love and plan to live a long and happy life together.

Car shopping is the literal worst. I went to several used car dealerships (I mean, who the fuck is out there buying new cars, and do they also have a room full of money in which they swim?), some of which were 40+ minutes away (that’s a long drive in a car that may or may not die without warning). There was one I found online that had several cars in my price range and also had good Yelp reviews. Perfect. I’m ready and I know what I fucking want. Let’s do this.

I pull up to these two wooden shacks. There’s a small sign that says the name of the dealership, and I can see a bunch of cars parked in a huge dirt parking lot behind them. So I walk into one of the buildings and see several people working at desks. No one offers to help me. After standing around with a look of bewilderment on my face, I finally interrupt one of them, a young woman with fake nails and purple highlights, to ask if someone could help me find a car. She tells me to just walk out to the parking lot – there are salesmen out there. Fantastic. As I walk towards the cars, the wind picks up, blowing dirt and sand into my face. I power on. Once I reach what looks to be a wasteland of damaged vehicles, I scan the area. There is no one out there that looks anything like a salesman. There are two couples looking at cars, one of which is asking questions of a man in dirty jeans and a hooded sweatshirt that is driving around in a golf cart. Dirty jeans. Hooded sweatshirt. A GOLF CART.

Am I at a house party in the country? What is happening here?

Dirty jeans man is, in fact, an employee. And he’s not alone! He helps direct me to a second dirty jeans man with his very own golf cart as well. Perfect. Drive me around this piece of shit lot and find me a car that isn’t covered in hail damage. K. Thanks.

Dirty jeans man #2 proceeds to tell me (while he takes me for a golf cart ride) that all the cars on the lot are salvaged. Most of them were purchased at auction and are from floods. Wonderful. He also takes me back to the office with rude purple highlights lady and tells me that I have to look through this huge book that lists all the cars on the lot. Once I find one I like, I should then find a dirty jeans man to drive me (in the golf cart) to said car.

I did not buy a car from them.

Since I was in the area, I opted to check out another dealership. This one only had one employee that I could see. He was a gruff old man that was also poorly dressed. When I walked into the lobby, he was in an office off to the side helping someone else. As that costumer left, he yelled, “Come in,” as though I was a misbehaving child being called into the principal’s office. I tentatively sat down and stated that I was looking for a used car. He asked what I was looking for specifically. I confidently stated, “Honda Civic or Fit with under 130,000 miles for less than $5,000.” At this point I already had my eye on Viv, but wanted to shop around. He let out a chuckle and condescendingly stated, “Oh, honey. You’re not gonna find nothin’ like that. Not for that price.”

I stood up and said, “I already have! But great! Thanks!”

It was a 30 second interaction. I’m proud of myself for not murdering anyone.

The whole thing ended with me getting a very fair deal on Craigslist from an older couple that was just fucking lovely. They also wore clean jeans, which is nice.

I made this gravy for Thanksgiving and it was a hit (with me and one other person, but we have good taste). It’s cold as fuck outside, and that means it’s goddamn gravy season. Am I right?! So throw this together in 20 minutes to help warm up your insides.

 

Mushroom Herb Gravy

8 oz white button mushrooms, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons butter or oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups veggie broth

1 sprig rosemary

1 tablespoon sage (minced fresh or dried)

Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic plus salt and pepper and cook for another minute or two. Make sure the moisture from the mushrooms has completely evaporated. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine. While frequently stirring, allow mixture to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Let the flour toast slightly, turning a golden brown. Whisk in the broth, making sure to fully incorporate it with the flour (no lumps!). Throw in the rosemary (whole) and the sage. Stir well and allow to simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until desired consistency. Remove sprig of rosemary.

Pour that shit on everything. I scooped it onto some fried potatoes, wilted Swiss charge, and then topped it with an egg (see below).

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dinner · easy · healthy · lunch · quick · Sandwiches · Sauces · snacks · vegetarian

Roasted Chickpea Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

I’m having some body image issues, which I attribute to my strained relationship with yoga. Yoga is something that has played a huge roll in my life over the last 2 years. I started going to ease my anxiety. I continued going because I started following people like @nolatrees and @mynameisjessamyn on Instagram, and they taught me that my body wasn’t in the way of advancing my practice (their bodies looked like mine, but they were doing handstands and headstands without a problem). See, I went into yoga thinking I could only do some of the poses because I’m chubby… and chubby people can’t do yoga… right? Wrong. Fuck that shit. The more I advanced my practice, the more I realized that my body was never in my way. Of anything. Ever. It was all mental. So yoga taught me a beautiful lesson… my body is just as capable as a thin person’s body. It taught me to love my body just as it is, without worrying about how I look to other people. And that carried over into my everyday life. I was completely smitten with yoga for a long time. But lately, that love affair has faded. I started looking at it only as a workout, and not as an activity that brought me joy. I was just going through the motions… forcing myself to go to classes because I needed to get my workout in. That shouldn’t be the reason I step into a yoga studio. It can definitely be one of the many benefits of going, but can’t be my sole reason. So I have taken a break from my practice. I’ve been mostly going for walks instead. Being outside during these last few weeks of warmer weather feels true to me right now. Plus, I get to spend hours on the phone with Cortney, which is always a treat.

I also tried rock climbing for the first time last week. It was SO much harder than I thought it would be! Seriously. Have any of y’all tried it? I couldn’t get more than one full step up on any of the easiest walls for adults. I finally saw a corner full of small children, and made a beeline for one of those courses. It was still HARD AS FUCK. But I got almost halfway up a wall. The friend I was with was so sweet. She said, “It was totally halfway up the wall! I mean, if you’re measuring from your top hand when it’s reaching.” Point is, I tried something new and that is badass. I’m not embarrassed, and I’m definitely going to try again.

Since stopping my yoga practice (temporarily, as I’m sure my love for it will return), I haven’t been as active as I normally like to be. I’ve been lounging and watching a lot of movies/TV shows on Netflix (OMG have y’all seen The Good Place? I’m obsessed!) while cooking delicious food. Honestly, the break feels nourishing. However, it also makes me very aware of my body and the space it takes up. I suddenly feel less worthy because I’m not active. Like, it was okay for me to be a chubby yogi, but just being a chubby woman isn’t good enough. I’m suddenly more concerned with taking up too much space again. It makes me uneasy and insecure, which is something I fought so hard against. I’m working on it, but it’s a process.

By not rushing off to a yoga class every day, I am allowing myself more time to explore other things I love. I’ve been cooking a lot lately, and it feels good to be in the kitchen again. Plus, this means less time wearing pants and less laundry! Fuck yeah!

It’s fall in Minnesota, which means I can finally turn the oven on again. Roasted chickpeas are one of my favorite ways to add protein to a dish. You can season them with whatever you want, and they add such a delightful little crunch to everything. Plus, I feel good about eating them. It makes me happy when I find foods that are both healthy and delicious. One of the things I miss now that I’m a vegetarian is sandwiches. I especially used to love getting chicken gyros from street vendors in NYC. Is this the same? Fuck no. But it is definitely reminiscent, and it satisfies the craving. It is also just delicious in it’s own right. Plus, it’s easy as fuck to throw together, and there’s a bonus burst of heat in your apartment when you have to turn the oven on.

Roasted Chickpea Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

1 can (15oz) chickpeas

Olive oil

Paprika

Salt and pepper

Cayenne

4 pita flatbreads

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1 tomato, sliced

Greens of choice (arugula is good)

 

For the tzatziki sauce:

2/3 cup full-fat, plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup cucumber, shredded

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped dill

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Garlic powder (to taste)

For the sauce:

Lay the shredded cucumber out on a towel/paper towel with a sprinkle of salt. This will draw out some of the moisture. Let it sit for a few minutes, then mix all that shit in a bowl. Taste it before adding it to the gyros. Adjust seasonings as needed. I don’t like mine super garlic-y. The original recipe called for actual cloves of garlic, which seemed aggressive. If all I can taste is garlic then what is the fucking point? When adding the garlic powder, just do a sprinkle at a time, and taste it before adding any more. If you overdo it, just add some more yogurt and calm the fuck down. It’s going to be okay.

For the gyros:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pat the chickpeas dry with a towel before tossing with a heavy drizzle of olive oil (don’t be cheap) on a large baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring them around halfway through baking time. Once finished (they should be slightly browned and crispy), drain on paper towels. At this point, toss with some salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne to taste (taste as you go!).

Warm up the flatbread for a few minutes in the oven while the chickpeas are finishing (I wrapped mine in tin foil), or just microwave them for a few seconds each. Spread a layer of the sauce onto the flatbread, followed by a handful of chickpeas, some onions, tomatoes, and lettuce/greens.

Take the time for some self care, and try not to feel guilty about it (it’s harder than you think).

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.

breakfast · brunch · Dating · eggs · mushrooms · Sauces · tinder · travel · vacation · vegetarian

Veggie Eggs Benedict and Hawaiian Magic

I don’t even know where to begin with this post, so I’m opening with a photo of Cortney and me in Hawaii last week. Y’all. This trip was magic. I can’t.

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A couple posts ago I mentioned that Cortney was setting me up with someone in Hawaii during my visit. This ended up being an ongoing joke between the two of us, with her talking about how I was going to fall in love, and me trying to bring her back to reality (while desperately hoping this guy wouldn’t take up too much of my time and/or be a murderer). I rolled my eyes every time she brought him up, but was also oddly intrigued by the idea of going out with someone on a tropical island (Was I living in a movie?!). I’m naturally an open person, so I just went into it with no expectations, but stayed open to any good that could come from it. I knew that, at the very least, it would be a learning experience and a fun story.

I had no idea what I was in for.

First, I nearly scared him away with my blog post that mentioned how Cortney wanted me to fall in love and move there. Let’s get one thing straight… I never once thought Cortney’s plan would ever work, and that’s exactly what I told him. I’m not stupid – this was a vacation fling. Obviously. And don’t you dare judge me. I’m a grown ass woman, and I’m allowed. I also recognized that it might not even develop into a fling. It was likely going to be one disappointing date, and nothing more.

Holy shit, you guys – I was so stupid.

Remember how I’m always talking about being vulnerable, having feelings, and avoiding a gray world of “meh”? The spectrum of human emotions is a beautiful thing, and I got to feel a lot of it throughout this experience. Yeah, sometimes it’s painful, but fuuuuuck… it’s worth it. If you’re not feeling anything, then what is the fucking point of being alive?

There is nothing sadder than indifference.

Our first date was my second night in town. It was the first of five, each one better than the last. Real feelings got involved, which I recognized around the 3rd date (and he mentioned it first, because he’s a secure dude, which is hot as fuck). I remember getting back to Cortney’s apartment and recapping it to her. She cackled manically like an evil mastermind and pretended to pet an invisible cat, exclaiming that her plan was working. I rolled my eyes. But the fact was, I was now invested and a little bit scared of the repercussions. I knew this couldn’t end like a romantic comedy. We live 4,000 miles apart. I knew that, and I dived in anyway. Why? Because it’s fucking worth it. Because he is interesting and smart. Because he’s secure as fuck and non-judgmental. Because he wasn’t afraid to hold my hand and communicate. Because he reminded me that I don’t have to compromise on what I want in a partner. They can have all of those qualities. People like that exist. He exists. It’s fucking possible.

Oh, and because he bought me fucking donuts.

I desperately hope this isn’t the end for us… but the fact is that it might be. I know that. Yet, still… I wouldn’t take any of it back. I’d do it all again in a second. Fuck it. The feelings involved (even the bad ones) made this so fucking worth it. 

I’ve completely reevaluated how I’m dating here in Minneapolis. And with this newfound knowledge… I’ve deleted Tinder. Not forever, just for now. I need to just sit with this feeling, and have a little space to myself. I’m not closed off (and I hope I never will be), but I’m taking a little time away from seeking out a relationship. I’m too raw right now, and it’s important to be self-aware enough to know that.

As much as I like to share my version of the human experience… this post is feeling very vulnerable to me (plus, I know he’s going to read it, and I’m feeling unsure about that). For now, the rest of this story will remain private. More Hawaii stories with Cortney yet to come, though! Including (but not limited to) snorkeling with a sea turtle, singing to the Moana soundtrack, teaching Acro to a few friends, giving a miniature horse a bath, horseback riding in the rain, and half naked men dancing. Oh, and eating alllll the mochi. Seriously. I spent probably $50+ on mochi. I’m out of control.

Oh, and I ate pork (gasp). I’m not sorry.

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My last breakfast in Hawaii was with Cortney, her husband, and a couple friends. Cortney and I couldn’t decide what we wanted, so we ordered eggs florentine and cinnamon apple pancakes to split. I fucking love doing shit like that. When I got home, I was really missing her, so I opted to make eggs benedict/florentine. This seemed logical at the time.

Veggie Eggs Benedict

1 egg

3-4 button mushrooms

1 handful of spinach

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 slice of bread (or half an English muffin)

2 teaspoons white vinegar

For the hollandaise sauce:

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 stick butter, melted

salt and pepper

To make the sauce, whisk together the yolks and lemon juice in a metal mixing bowl until it fluffs up and doubles in size. Then place the bowl over a sauce pan of slightly simmering water (making sure the water doesn’t actually touch the bowl). Continue whisking, and do not let the eggs get too hot or sit for too long, otherwise they’ll scramble. Slowly whisk in the melted butter until the sauce has thickened and doubled in size again. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and set in a warm spot while you get everything else together. Makes enough sauce to cover 2-4 eggs (I like a lot of sauce, so it’d only be 2 for me).

Saute the veggies, minus the spinach, in a little olive oil or cooking spray, stirring frequently and adding salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms brown, add the spinach and allow to wilt. Place bread/English muffin into the toaster.

To poach an egg! First step: Believe in yourself! If the egg isn’t beautiful, who the fuck cares? It’ll still be delicious. This was my first successfully poached egg, and I did a little dance to celebrate. You should, too. First, grab a deep skillet and fill it up with water. Place over high heat, and add a little salt and 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. While waiting for the water to boil, crack the egg into a small glass/ramekin. Once boiling, stir water with a spoon to create a whirlpool effect. Once it’s really circling, slowly pour the egg into the center. The movement of the water will help keep the egg together, preventing it from looking like a baby octopus. Turn off the heat and cover pan. Allow to cook for 2-5 minutes, depending on how runny you like your yolks.

To assemble (does this really need to be explained?): Cover toast/English muffin with the sauteed veggies. Top with the egg and as much sauce as you’d like. The sauce will not keep, so eat it all in one sitting!

Then go out and collect every single human experience possible. Feel everything.

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Asian food · Dating · dinner · easy · lunch · mushrooms · pasta · quick · Sauces · Stir-fry · vegan · vegetarian

Asian Noodle Stir Fry

So this recipe was originally labeled as “ramen,” but I thought that was doing a disservice to ramen everywhere. I couldn’t call it that… that’s not what it is. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s fucking delicious. But it is not, by any means, ramen. Ramen is that beautifully and painstakingly crafted soup with the pork or beef broth and the soft boiled egg on top that you lovingly stir in until it melts and becomes one with the broth. Fuck. I miss ramen so much. And the pork buns that go with it. Sigh.

I repeat: This is not ramen.

I’m a lot of things, but I’m not a fucking liar.

This recipe was so much fun for me. Here in Minneapolis the weather is starting to warm up. I went shopping for this recipe on one of the first nice days of the season, which meant walking around my neighborhood enjoying the “warm” breeze on my face (Minnesotans in the spring have a pretty fucked up view of what is warm). I have 2 Asian markets within a couple blocks of my apartment, and I almost never visit them. Seems silly, since they both contain mochi… my one and only true love. I got to visit both while shopping for this blog post… only because I ran out of arms to carry all the delicious bottles of sauces at the first one, and I couldn’t find a fucking basket. Rather than be a normal human and ask, I just purchased what I could carry and left. This included an impromptu box of mochi, obviously. Not just regular mochi… but mochi fucking rolls. This was very exciting. I ate all of them in 2 days. I’m not sorry.

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So I bought all my shit… from 2 separate Asian markets… and commenced to cooking (in a borrowed wok because I’m a disaster). This was so fucking easy and fast! Go make it right now. You’re welcome.

Dating update: Sighhhhhh. I’m so embarrassed. So I went out with this guy a few weeks ago. We went out for drinks, and then later on the same day (but after leaving and having dinner with friends), he invited me over to his apartment to play Super Mario 2 on the Wii. If you’ve ever played Mario with me… you kind of see where this is going. It’s like I have fucking Tourette’s Syndrome or some shit. I literally cannot stop the swear words from leaving my mouth every time I play any Mario game. I warned him ahead of time… he was cool with it. I even kept it fairly under control! And by “under control,” I mean that I didn’t string all the curse words I could think of into one long curse word this time… I just yelled out the normal ones. You know, classically appropriate language/behavior for the 1st (and a half!) date. But it doesn’t stop there. I got so riled up when I couldn’t beat one of the levels that I threw his Wii controller into his lap…. which housed a glass of beer. You see where this is going. That controller didn’t stand a chance. It landed right in his beer, completely killing the sensor (and my dignity). Luckily, this dude was really chill about it, and even thought it was funny. It took everything in me to not cry out of shame.

Since I’m a “seize the opportunity” type of person, I used this scenario to my benefit. I texted him 2 days later with a photo of the 3 different colored Wii controllers that I have, and asked which color he wanted. See what I did there? Made it all cute and shit, and snagged an excuse to text (#nailed it). Thanks to my ingenuity, we hung out again this weekend. And we played Wii again (I wore the strap at all times). In fact, I brought over a couple of controllers because I knew the only other one he had was kind of janky (and one was obviously for him to keep). Everything went well!

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That is… until I got home. I accidentally stole his janky remote because it’s the same color (pink) as my extra controller! UGH. Now it looks like I am trying to trick him into seeing me again. Fuck that shit. I don’t play those games. If you don’t want to see me, I am not here to try to convince you. But now I’m sure that’s what he thinks, because what the fuck else would he think? I mean, seriously. I texted him to let him know that I had it and that it was an accident, but I can’t say anything more than that without sounding completely nuts. FUCK. Why does this shit keep happening to me?! Goddammit. Logically, I’m like… he probably understands and it’s fine. But the other part of me is all… omg, he thinks you’re nuts and playing annoying games. And yet another part of me keeps reminding myself that this was 2.5 dates and who the fuck cares?!

Anxiety is real, y’all.

Asian Noodle Stir Fry

2 packets of instant ramen (minus the flavor packet) OR 3 squares of the vegetarian noodles from the Asian market

1.5 cups red cabbage, shredded

1 cup snow peas, sliced in half at an angle

1 carrot, julienned (lol jk, just grab a handful of matchstick carrots)

1/4 cup red bell pepper, julienned (just slice ’em however you like)

5-7 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup bean sprouts

Green onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons canola oil (I actually used olive oil)

1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

Ground white pepper (I used black pepper)

Siracha

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for about 45-60 seconds. Use chopsticks or a fork to break up the noodles. Drain, rinse, and set aside. Whisk together the soy sauces, sesame oil, white/black pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In a wok over medium high heat, add the canola oil along with the garlic, cabbage, carrots, peppers, and mushrooms. Saute for a couple minutes. Next, add the Shaoxing wine and snow peas, and cook for a few more seconds. Top with the cooked noodles and sauce, tossing thoroughly. Add the bean sprouts and green onion. Serve with extra chopped green onion to make it pretty. Squirt a bunch of siracha on top, so it doesn’t matter if it’s pretty.

Don’t steal Wii remotes unless you want your date to think you’re a weirdo.

OR

Embrace the weird and hope someone likes it!

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