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

Tater Tot Hot Dish and Stolen Laundry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tater Tot Hot Dish

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

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

1 cup milk

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

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

2ish cups sharp cheddar cheese (enough to cover)

Salt and pepper to taste

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

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

Cheese · comfort food · Dating · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · potatoes · quick · soup · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Vegan Baked Potato Soup

Y’all. I have been a hermit lately. And by hermit I mean not going to 8 yoga classes a week while also going out with friends/going to friends’ houses several times per week while surviving on 6ish hours of sleep per night (that is like zero to me). Instead, I am spending a lot of time home alone watching The Mindy Project or frequently joining another for some quality Netflix time (while discovering Stranger Things! ZOMG). During my Summer of Anxiety last year, I made the habit of socializing NONSTOP. In fact, I even retook the Meyers Briggs personality test and had actually changed from introvert to extrovert. My personality literally changed due to my anxiety level. How is that even possible?

After that summer things got better, but my schedule did not slow down. In fact, I replaced a lot of my friend time with dating. Remember that one time I went on 6 dates in 5 days? Within that same week I had my “soul crushed” by one of those 6 dates (we’re actually still friends, and were clearly not a good romantic match, so it all worked out). It was all very exhausting. I kept trying to slow everything down, but that seemed impossible while I was still swiping on Tinder.

Being alone often triggered my anxiety, so I made myself as busy as I possibly could.

In the last few months, I have finally been able to actively slow down my life. My anxiety has calmed, and I have found time for myself in a way that hasn’t been possible in a really long time. You know what really helped with that?

Deleting Tinder. Fuuuuuck. Those dates made for good stories, but that was definitely more exhausting than 8 yoga classes a week.

It’s that time of year where many of us start hibernating. Hibernating means comfort food. I literally ate various forms of bread and cheese for 4 meals on Sunday. Yes, four meals. In my defense, I was hungover from the 12 hours of drinking the day before, on top of having a cold that won’t quit. So, no, I haven’t slowed down completely. I’m just finding new things that bring me joy, and not saying yes to everything.

I’m also budgeting like crazy. I made this cozy soup last week without making an extra trip to the grocery store. My new rule is only one trip a week, and only $60 MAX. Last week I only spent $42, and that included 3 different types of cheese. Even shopping at a co-op, this shit is possible. This potato soup is rich and creamy without the cream (cream is expensive). You could definitely add other veggies to it, or even some chickpeas or quinoa for protein. I kept it pretty simple, but did top it with some fancy-ass smoked cheddar cheese (I know that means it’s no longer vegan, but I’m not vegan, so I don’t care).

Side note: These photos aren’t great because of the lack of daylight since daylight savings time ended. It’s been impossible for me to cook and photograph mid-day. It’ll get better, I promise!

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Vegan Baked Potato Soup

3 stalks celery, chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small onion, diced

4 cups veggie broth (I suggested keeping the concentrate around, as it is cheaper and easier – or you can make your own to be really thrifty)

3 medium potatoes, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced

1 cup vegan milk of choice (I used cashew, but canned coconut would be creamier)

3 tablespoons flour (to thicken) – can easily be subbed for gluten free flour, or omitted

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional toppings: Cheddar cheese, green onion, bacon/fake bacon

In a large pot with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, saute the onion, carrots, and celery over medium-high heat until they soften (3-5 minutes). Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and the flour. Mix well – the veggies could clump together. Cook for another minute, stirring consistently. Add the potatoes and broth, making sure to incorporate everything well (no flour lumps! I believe in you!). Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Then you have 2 options…. 1. Use an immersion blender (or regular blender in batches) right in the pot to blend everything smooth, OR 2. Scoop half of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth, then return it back to the pot. Option #2 will leave you with chunks, which is my preference. You do you. Once blended, add the milk and some more salt and pepper. Scoop into bowls, top with cheese and green onion, brown up a motherfuckin’ grilled cheese because you’re sick and deserve to have melted cheese with every meal, and go back to watching Stranger Things in your PJ’s.

 

 

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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Asian food · comfort food · Curry · dinner · easy · healthy · quick · soup · Thai food · vegan · Vegetables · vegetarian

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Last weekend I helped a friend out by cat sitting his two little fluff monsters overnight. You know what this means, right? This means I got to stay in a different apartment for a weekend while eating someone else’s food and watching Netflix nonstop.  This also means it was a free-for-all when it came to junk food. I treated it like I was on vacation, which means I ate ice cream and pizza for most of my meals (my mom taught me that you’re supposed to eat cookie dough for dinner when on vacation). To top it all off, my last morning there was spent eating donuts in my underwear while watching A Cinderella Story (all while snuggling a floofball of a kitty). You know you’re jealous.

Fuck. I love staying at my friends’ apartments when they’re out of town. It’s completely ridiculous, though, considering I actually have my own apartment without any roommates. I mean, what am I trying to escape from? I think there’s something freeing about the fact that I can just lay around and not do anything. If I was doing the same thing at home, I’d end up getting up to do laundry/vacuum/wash dishes/etc. When at another person’s place, I don’t have to do any of that shit. Plus, free food! And I got so many kitty snuggles (though it took them a full 24 hours to come around).

The same friend introduced me to Khao Soi soup for the first time. Going completely based on his recommendation, I placed my order and requested that there be no cilantro added (which is often not in the description, but almost always included and guaranteed to ruin any and all food it touches). Upon arrival, I meticulously inspected the garnishes for any traces of cilantro. I didn’t see anything, but did end up getting a few bites of it in the broth. Motherfuckers. Why do people add that shit to everything?! Fucking food ruiners. Despite the herb from hell, the soup was fucking delicious. We kept referring to it as liquid crack, and chalked it up to the added MSG. I fucking love me some MSG. That shit makes everything better.

But!

It’s probably not healthy. My homemade version does not include MSG. It also doesn’t include any fancy ingredients or steps. It’s simple as fuck, and can be ready in 30 minutes flat. (It’s also not as to-die-for delicious, but it’s pretty damn good.)

Thai Coconut Curry Soup

2ish cups of broccoli florets

1/2 large onion, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into about 2″ peices

1 large carrot, sliced

8oz Chinese noodles of your choice (I chose some leftover “vegetarian” noodles from the Asian market)

2 tablespoons red curry paste

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup full fat, unsweetened coconut milk

1 tablespoon lime juice

Red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss veggies (you could honestly use any veggies you have on hand) with olive oil on a baking sheet and add a little salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

While the veggies are roasting, cook pasta according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.

In a large pot, cook curry paste over medium-high heat, whisking or stirring frequently. Cook the curry paste for about 2-3 minutes, until it becomes fragrant and lightly browned. Whisk in the broth and then the coconut milk, lime juice, and red pepper flakes. Add the veggies and let simmer for a few minutes.

Place desired amount of noodles in a bowl and spoon the soup over the top. I like more soup than noodles, but you could treat the soup more like a sauce with pasta if you want.

EAT THIS SHIT EVERY SINGLE DAY. Do NOT add cilantro, or we can’t be friends. If you don’t care about that, then fuck off. (jk bff xoxo) 😉

P.S. Fuck you, cilantro.

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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