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

Weeknight Veggie Rice Casserole and CATS

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

 

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

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

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

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

Weeknight Veggie Rice Casserole

1.5 cups dry brown rice

3 cups vegetable broth

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

1 can (14oz) chickpeas, drained

Zest and juice of one lemon

1 small onion, diced

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped parsley

4 cups chopped spinach or Swiss Chard

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

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

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

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.

comfort food · Dating · dinner · easy · soup · vegan · vegetarian

Vegan Chickpea and Dumpling Stew

I did it. I made motherfucking dumplings. This is something I never even aspired to! And it was fucking easy!

My friend and coworker surprised me with a cookbook the other day. She was perusing vegan cookbooks when she came across Thug Kitchen, and said it was just screaming my name. Goddamn right it was. Have you guys read this shit? It’s so fucking funny. My favorite line in this recipe was, “…add the dumplings a couple at a time so they don’t get all stuck together in a clusterfuck of dough and dying dreams.” That kills me. Also, I love the word clusterfuck. I’m going to start adding that to my everyday vocab. WordPress insists it’s not a word, but they’re wrong.

So yesterday I had all this shit planned… but I ended up watching Aladdin while making this stew instead. Shit just didn’t work out. No one came to my yoga class in the morning, which is fine because I was then able to have a full on photoshoot for future Instagram posts all by myself. I also kind of love having the studio to myself. Feels a little like magic. But I really did want to teach! I even smudged the place, lit all the candles, swept the floor, and set an intention for class. Sometimes shit just doesn’t work out. That’s okay. A couple other things fell through as well, but whatthefuckever. I thoroughly enjoyed spending my time cooking. I always enjoy that. I should do it more often, actually. Besides, it just means I get to spend more time not wearing any fucking pants. That’s a day well spent in my opinion. Fuck pants.

I’m still Tinder-ing, but I’m trying to be more mindful about how I swipe. And, obviously, no more drunken swiping. Do not drink and Tinder. I finally cleaned up that mess, and just started over. You should also not go on Tinder after being disappointed by a romantic interest. All it does is lead to frantic swiping and frantic emotions. It’s much better to process that disappointment first, then start swiping. I have a date on Friday with someone that may or may not be kind of fucking weird (not in the fun way). It’s hard to tell for sure without meeting, though. Sigh. I just want someone to be excited about. First dates are almost never exciting. They incite feelings of dread and exhaustion. Blah. I’ll get there.

In the meantime, there are motherfucking dumplings! I’m so proud of these little fuckers. They’re delicious and soothing and perfect for a cold afternoon spent inside watching Aladdin, singing your heart out to “A Whole New World,” without any pants on. Fuck. That’s the dream right there. I’m living the fucking dream.

Also, if you haven’t read Thug Kitchen yet, Google that shit right now. You’ll be so happy you did.

Chickpea and Dumpling Stew

For the dumplings:

1/4 cup chives, chopped

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 to 1 cup milk (the recipe calls for almond milk, but I only had regular milk)

For the stew:

3ish cups spinach (the recipe calls for kale, but I only had spinach… also didn’t measure it, just a few handfuls)

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup mushrooms, sliced (the recipe called for broccoli… but I didn’t fucking have any)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil

Salt

2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika (recipe called for cayenne… again, didn’t have any)

7 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup white wine (or broth)

2 – 15oz cans chickpeas

10 cups veggie broth

1 1/2 cups peas (I hate peas, so I omitted this)

1/4 cup chives, chopped, plus more for serving

For the dumplings:

Add all the dry ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk together. Then add 1/2 cup milk slowly, mixing well. Drizzle in more milk as needed, until the dough forms into a rough ball. On a floured surface, knead in the chives. Then roll dough out until it’s about 1/8″ thick. Cut into smallish squares/rectangles (about 1″ by 1.5″). Stack them on a floured plate and stick them in the fridge, uncovered.

For the stew:

Heat 2 teaspoons (or tablespoons, which is what I really did) of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions plus some salt. Saute for 5-7 minutes, or until onions start to brown. Add the carrots, celery, and mushrooms and cook for another 3ish minutes before adding the garlic. Stir well, and continue cooking for 3 more minutes. Dump the cooked veggies into a bowl, and set aside. Wipe out the soup pot, or grab another one if you have 2 (I don’t). In a small bowl, mix together the oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne (or paprika), and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add 1/4 cup olive oil to the pot and warm over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. It’ll be thick as fuck, and really hard to whisk if you have an unnecessarily gigantic pot (like I do). Do the best you can – it’ll all work out. Stir that thick goo around and continue to cook over medium heat, until it smells nutty and looks a little toasted, or about 2 minutes. Toss in the spices and keep stirring for another 30ish seconds. Add 1/2 cup white wine (or veggie broth!) and stir well. Then add 2 cups of broth, continuing to whisk. Once fully incorporated (no flour chunks), whisk in the rest of the broth. Simmer for about 15 minutes, whisking every minute or so (I didn’t really do it that often). It should start to thicken.

Add the dumplings a few at a time, continuing to stir. Let them simmer for about 3 minutes before adding the sauteed veggies and chickpeas. Simmer everything together for about 10 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the dumplings no longer taste raw. Once the dumplings are done, add the spinach and green onions. Cook for another 2 minutes. Taste test and add more seasonings if needed. At this point, I added a shit-ton of salt. Of course, that was also because I ran out of broth and had to use 2 cups of water. Fucking disaster.

Serve this with some freshly chopped chives on top, and buttered toast on the side.

Yes, I realize the butter makes it not vegan anymore. Thing is, I don’t give a fuck. I also used real milk in the dumplings.

easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · quick · Rice · Sauces · vegan · vegetarian

Vegan Chickpea and Spinach Stew

It’s that time of year again… time for setting a new year’s resolution. I have very mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I like the idea of making positive life changes and just trying to be an all around better human. On the other hand, I hate the idea that we think we have to change who we are (usually physically) every single year. Part of me wants to just blow off the whole fucking thing, but the other part of me has some goals set anyway. I mean, these goals aren’t dependent upon the new year, but have been sort of ongoing. Here is my list:

  • Eat mindfully (stop scarfing candy and cookies all the damn time)
  • Get my ass to more yoga classes
  • Advance my Acro practice
  • Limit social media to only checking twice daily
  • Travel EVERYWHERE

I recently got my passport renewed, so that last one is definitely going to happen this year. The others… we’ll see. The problem with wanting to change parts of yourself, either physically or mentally, is that it’s hard to also accept yourself as you are when you’re trying to change. So let’s all practice being a little bit gentler with ourselves. Fuck what society tells us. We are enough just as we are. And if we want to change something, we can, but that doesn’t mean we need to criticize ourselves in the process. Change takes time. It’s not instant.  And if we don’t want to change, that’s okay, too.

My new passport brought with it a sense of freedom I had not anticipated. My ex couldn’t travel for reasons I won’t get into, and so that kept me from traveling internationally. We would get into these huge fights anytime I went on a trip. It was a whole thing I’m not going to delve into right now, but it left me feeling trapped. It was a fight I didn’t want to have, so I let my passport expire for the first time in my life. Now that it has been renewed, and I’m divorced, I cannot wait to go exploring. Iceland and Brazil are both on the list. If you have cheap travel suggestions/tips, please let me know! I want to go EVERYWHERE.

Also, I signed up for Tinder last night, and promptly lost almost 2 hours of my life setting up my profile and swiping like mad. I currently have 11 matches, and almost no one is messaging me. Why swipe right if you don’t want to talk?! I give it 2 weeks before I lose my patience.

I think I’ll focus my energy on planning all the travel! Excitement!

Oh, and this recipe happened when I was searching for meals that would include a lot of protein. I’ve been really into chickpeas lately. And I’m always eating spinach, so this seemed like a good recipe to try. It’s delicious! And I didn’t even realize it was vegan until after I made it. Though, sometimes I add an egg on top, which obviously makes it not vegan anymore. It is also gluten-free! Yay! Side note: I am neither vegan nor gluten-free. This is still good, though! Try it!

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Vegan Chickpea and Spinach Stew

3 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

3 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons ground paprika

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2-3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 (28 oz)can whole, peeled tomatoes, slightly drained and mashed

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 (15 oz)can chickpeas

2 cups spinach (I didn’t actually measure this, but threw in a few big handfuls)

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown rice, cooked, for serving

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and cook for several minutes, until the onions are translucent, stirring often. Add garlic and continue stirring, cooking for another minute or so. Add the spices and stir continuously for another minute or two. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the mashed tomatoes with a little of the juice from the can, salt and pepper, and half of the sugar. Let simmer, stirring occasionally. Add more salt and pepper as needed, as well as the rest of the sugar (only if needed). Let simmer for just a couple of minutes, until sauce has thickened a little bit. Stir in the chickpeas and spinach. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently until chickpeas are heated through, and spinach is wilted. Add any final seasoning, and serve over a scoop of brown rice.

Feel smug about your healthy meal. But maybe have some ice cream for dessert. No one is perfect, and no one should try to be.