Last week I posted a survey on Facebook and Instagram asking about which light-hearted topics you’d rather hear about: what I’m wearing or what I’m cooking? The results were overwhelmingly… split exactly down the middle 50/50 (not counting those who suggested that I share what I’m wearing while I’m cooking—answer: leggings and baggy t-shirts). And since it’s a lot easier for me to photograph what I’m cooking than what I’m wearing, you get a recipe post today.
I’ve been eating these leftovers all week. And a lot of times when I’ve eaten leftovers a few days in a row I start to get sick of it. But every single time that I nuked these in the microwave and piled them high with tomatoes and lettuce, I did a happy dance. They’re gone, now, and I miss them.
I was a vegetarian once and I liked it a lot. It was at that point in my life when I was the kind of person who gave stuff up for Lent and I had decided to give up meat–it lasted way after the Lenten season had passed. I was working at a deli at the time and when you’re surrounded by that much lunch meat, not eating it came to me very easily. But time wore on and who the heck knows how meat got back into my diet but it did. And that’s fine—I sort of wish I was a person with really strong convictions about food and what we should all be eating but I’m not really. Which I hope all of my friends and family appreciate. Continue reading “Page 83: Elevator Recipe for Meatless Monday”→
I first wrote of my love of Valentine’s Day earlier in the month. I believe in love. I believe that it is a powerful and healing force. I also don’t believe that love is only for people who have squishy, lovey dovey feelings at each other. I think that love begets love—in action and in feelings.
So on Saturday, I had some of my best lady friends and their best lady friends over for a Galentine’s Day brunch. We ate a lot of carbs, listened to this playlist, gave one another gifts, read to each other, talked about the hard stuff and the cheap stuff and it was wonderful and lovely. I got barely any photographs because I was having too much fun.
And a lot of people asked me for the recipe for the frittata that I made. Which is sometimes hard for me to do as I barely follow a recipe. I mostly just follow my instincts. But I remember everything exactly this time. So if you’re interested in a recipe with no photographs to back up the lovelieness of this dish and you’re willing to just trust me, here you go!
Galentines Day Brunch Frittata
(Served the 11 people at my house with about 25% leftover)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a small dice
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 large red peppers, diced
2 or three large handfuls of fresh spinach
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
light sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded itallian cheese blend
10 medium-sized eggs
¼ cup half-and-half
1 ½ tablespoon seasoning of your choice. I used McCormic’s Belgian Style White Ale spice blend (which I love because of the combination of citrus flavors and bold pepper).
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
I used my 12” cast iron skillet—it’s important to use an oven-proof skillet, however. If your oven-proof skillet is smaller than this, I recommend scaling back on the eggs because that will create a more veggie-dense dish.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Over medium high heat, warm olive oil and add sweet potatoes. Cook for several minutes until they just begin to soften and brown. Add in onions and red peppers and stir to coat with oil.
Once onions begin to sweat and soften, stir in spinach. It will feel like way too much spinach but once it begins to cook down, it will shrink up considerably. Stir in nutmeg, salt, and red pepper flakes and turn off heat.
Stir the mixture around so that everything appears evenly distributed throughout the pan. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, and whatever seasoning you would like.
Slowly, pour the egg mixture over the veggie mixture in the pan. Do not stir! Sprinkle the feta over the top and quickly move the pan into the oven.
Bake at 350*–checking at 30 minutes for doneness. The frittata is done when it begins to brown around the edges and when you shake the pan and the center barely jiggles. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving to ensure that the eggs are all set up.
After that, my husband and I cleaned up only the most important food items, packed our bags, and drove to Wichita where he’d booked a room and I’d made dinner reservations.
I don’t foresee the rest of our Valentine’s Day celebrations going so extravagantly but between me recently moving to a work-from-home position and our house being in a not-that-relaxing, there-is-so-much-to-be-done state of affairs, Ryan thought it might be best for us to just get out of the house for a night. Which was the right move, if you ask me.
Funny story, though! As soon as we walked into the hotel lobby we found that not only were we staying here but also hundreds of young teenagers! Someone thought that Valentine’s Day Weekend would be the perfect time to book a bunch of teenagers into a fancy hotel for a youth conference!
I had to be very active in recognizing that my expectations are my own business. Maybe I expected to not have screaming kids outside of my door all weekend long—I didn’t run that by anyone else. It’s not their fault I had that idea. They had other ideas. Ryan and I put ourselves into their positions. Being a kid at a youth conference was one of my greatest joys in my childhood and we were going to let them enjoy it. I didn’t stick my head out of my door and scream “shut the hell up already!” even one time! With that perspective shift, I was able to laugh with them instead of scream at them. I’m proud of that.
Also, since we are usually stay-at-home on Valentines Day people, we didn’t realize that my favorite restaurant was going to transform into a seriously expensive, extra fancy place for the weekend! It is no exaggeration to say that we ended up spending more than either of us had ever spent on a meal, before.
I was really proud of the way that we rolled with the punches, though. Rather than getting upset and anxious, which is my natural way, we found a way to just go with it, enjoy ourselves, and not stress at all. And in the end, you know what? We had an excellent time! And our entire dinner was decadent and inspiring (I ate a grilled salad, you guys!!). There wasn’t a single part of it that I didn’t love. The place was packed, too. God bless those servers.
Then, because we weren’t quite ready to go back to the room just yet, we stopped at the hotel bar.
The next morning we slept in so late and watched tv and took long showers. We went to brunch and then to stall going home, we went out for more coffee, and stopped at a bookstore where I found this beautiful copy of Flannery O’Connor stories. I’d given away my original copy so I was really excited to find this magnificent replacement.
And now it’s back to every day real life. It was such an exciting weekend! It was a constant exercise in c’est la vie.
So after that lux, relaxing weekend, this announcement! We are moving to a new house this weekend!! With that being said, things might be really quiet around here for the next few weeks while I get my house and my office set up but I promise that when I come back, it will be so good. Thank you for sticking with me though this transitional phase.
What do you think about Valentine’s Day? Did you do anything to celebrate? Tell us about it!
I live in a small town–it’s not the smallest town that I’ve ever lived in. It’s actually the largest small town that I’ve ever lived in! I mean, we have a Walmart. It’s not utterly rural (one time I’ll tell you about when I lived in a town population 8). But I tell you what, for the life of me I can’t get my hands on a decent Cobb Salad anywhere! So you gotta grab life by the horns.
If you want a great Cobb Salad, you gotta make it your own darn self.
When I was in college, one summer, I worked in the kitchen at the Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, KS (I’m spelling it out because it’s actually, I guess, kind of a big deal kind of thing? I mean Bill Murray golfs there, so what I’m saying is that I’m a very fancy lady who worked at a very fancy job. JK LOL). When I was there, I worked in the salad area. By far, our most popular salad was the CS (we’re on good terms, we call one another by our initials) but almost no one ever wanted everything that came on it as it was. Some people wanted to substitute chicken for shrimp. Almost no one wanted the blue cheese. Some people wanted just lettuce and bacon. Some people didn’t want the toppings striped on top, they wanted it all mixed up together. And if you ask me, none of those can be considered a legit Cobb Salad. But maybe I’m wrong and I should accept the To Each His Own Salad mentality.
So here’s what I need in my Cobb Salad.
I need hard boiled eggs and chicken (though now that I think of it, that’s a scary-bizarre combination). I need tomatoes. I need avocado. I need bacon (though until it came time to make this salad, I didn’t realize that we didn’t have any so this is missing it and don’t get me wrong—this salad is worse for it) I gotta have the blue cheese! And I need it to be layered on top real nice and pretty like. And then I need a lot of black pepper speckled all over the top.
In life–you just gotta take care of yourself, sometimes.
I want to know, right now, what is your go-to I Am On A Budget And Out Of Time But I Still Want Something Kind of Special Recipe? I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours.
I’m going to bring you something special. Something that I’m going to refer to as a Unicorn Recipe. It’s a unicorn because it sits at this intersection where all these perfect aspects collide and it’s pretty uncommon to find something that is:
Not even remotely difficult*
Unintentionally vegan (where my vegans at?)
*it’s not even remotely difficult if you happen to have a hand-held stick blender. Which I know not everyone has. If you have an upright blender it’s still pretty easy but can’t really be considered “not even remotely difficult” because, like, hot soup in a blender doesn’t sound like something I want to dance with. But you do you! Maybe order a cheap stick blender on Amazon and have it delivered next-day? This is the one that I have. I don’t stand by it or anything–it just happens to be the one that I have.
Anyway this is a soup that I make probably once a month in the fall. And then I freeze the leftovers in Ziploc bags so that I’ve always got something on hand for those times when I’m exhausted and we need to eat dinner. Or it’s something nice to give to people who might want some soup?
Give of your unicorn soup, brothers and sisters.
Another thing about this recipe is that it’s one of those things that I’ve been making for so long that the recipe just lives in my brain. So this last time that I made it, I tried really hard to write down all of the ingredients and not just mindlessly toss it all in the pot on instinct like I ordinarily do. So I’m going to do my very best. There aren’t that many ingredients in here unless you count the spices. And, frankly, there isn’t a right or wrong way to season this. Once you’ve got the main ingredients in there, you just follow your instincts. If you trust your instincts. I trust your instincts. It’s only soup. It’s not neurosurgery.
For me, I like the Chinese Five Spice more than anything else so I tend to lend a heavy hand there. But other people may want to omit that all together and just season with curry? Or heck, just salt and pepper! That’s cool. You know what you like. Or, you will.
Okay so here goes. This is what you’re going to need for a really big pot of soup but it could easily be halved:
2 T. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
4-6 crushed garlic cloves
1 T. Chinese Five Spice
1 t. ground red pepper
1 t. Hot Madras Yellow Curry Powder
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. turmeric (I add this specifically for coloring purposes only)
2 lbs peeled, roughly chopped carrots (or baby carrots)
2 32 oz boxes of vegetable stock
In a soup pot over medium-high heat, sweat the onions and garlic in olive oil. Cook until they are translucent (5-6 minutes).
Dump in all of the spices and stir until the onions and garlic are coated and continue to cook for a few minutes before adding carrots. This helps the spices to bloom a little bit before getting washed away with all of the liquid.
Add vegetable stock. Depending on the size of your pot you may not use it all (or you could need more–you can supplement with water). Just add stock until it covers the carrots and bring to a boil. Cover and allow to boil until the carrots soften. For me it was about 20 minutes or so. But that could change depending on the size of your carrots.
Once your carrots are soft enough that you trust the strength of your blender to puree them, go to town! Use your immersion blender (or transfer, in batches, to an upright blender) to puree until smooth!
From here, you are basically done. Unless you’re not pleased with the texture of your soup. If it’s too thick for you, thin it out with water or stock. If it’s too thin for your tastes, as it was for me, bring to a gentle simmer and reduce until it reaches a consistency of your liking. Make sure to continue stirring so that it doesn’t burn.
And there you have it! I like to serve mine with a dollop of plain yogurt and a spritz of lime juice on top. The longer it sits, the deeper the spices get. I brought this soup to a family get together and I really wish that I’d remembered to bring yogurt since a lot of people mentioned that it was really, really spicy. The yogurt definitely cools it down and adds an extra punch of flavor.
Other things that I have added to this soup in the past depending on what I had on hand:
apples (sounds weird but it goes so well with the cinnamon and clove in the five spice).
I really hope that you try this and tell me what you did differently and how did that work out? We’re all learning.
And PLEASE SHARE YOUR UNICORN RECIPES IN THE COMMENTS! THE WORLD NEEDS WAY MORE UNICORNS!