Posts Tagged: food

Recipes for People Who Are Tired & Grumpy: White Bean Soup

I like to cook. Really. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I like to meal plan. But don’t get the wrong idea…I don’t step into the kitchen every night with a spring in my step, just happy to be making a meal. I would say about half the time I actually enjoy making something. But the other half? Well, I like to eat, and cooking is just a means to an end. As I’ve mentioned before, that guy I live with doesn’t care at all about the quality of the food he eats (seriously, the other morning for breakfast he was eating pieces of bread with nothing on them…I AM NOT KIDDING), so I do the cooking. And honestly, sometimes I do not want to. Sometimes I’m just pouring things into a pot thinking, “WHEN WILL THIS BE READY I AM SO HUNGRY GOOD LORD,” and I don’t cheer up until I’m watching the X-Files and I’ve already eaten half my dinner.

In that spirit, here’s a recipe for you fellow tired and grumpy cooks. This one’s easy to make, relies on things you probably have in your kitchen, and really cannot be messed up.


1. Think long and hard about getting take out. Remember that you’re trying to save money on food and stick to your meal plan. Remind yourself that you purchased all the ingredients to make this and it won’t even take that long!
2. Rebel against yourself by sitting on the couch until you’re so hungry that you want to murder someone.
3. Stomp into the kitchen. Find your soup pot. Halfheartedly chop up half an onion and a few garlic cloves.
4. Heat up some oil in your soup pot, then dump the onions and garlic in. Stir them around a little until the onion is browned. Burn it a little bit and think to yourself, “That’s just caramelized. Don’t worry about it.”
5. Add in some spices. Which ones? It’s up to you! The world spice cabinet is your oyster! Thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary are all good choices. Let the fragrant scent of the herbs carry you away to a place in which you’re already eating and in a much better mood.
6. Find some leftover, already chopped ham in your fridge. Dump that in the pot and let it get brown.
7. Pour in some water. Don’t bother finding a measuring cup. Ugh. Just use your drinking glass. You don’t even care! WHATEVER.
8. Add in 2-3 cans of white beans. Remember how much you inexplicably hate draining beans. Why do you hate this so much? It’s not even hard! Just dump in the first can without draining it, bean juice be damned!
9. Start to feel gross about that bean juice. Drain the other can.
10. Let soup simmer 20-30 minutes while you make Jiffy cornbread muffins because LIKE YOU ARE EVEN GOING TO BAKE SOMETHING FROM SCRATCH RIGHT NOW. There is just no way.
11. Mash up some of the beans a little with a potato masher.
12. Don’t salt the soup. Remember all that bean juice you dumped in there? Sodium city.
13. Eat. Apologize for all the things you said when you were hungry.
14. Definitely do not take a picture of anything because you don’t even want to deal with it right now.

I Threw a Galentine’s Day Party (and Ate a Ton of Food)

I forgot to take any pictures of my friends, but I DO have pictures of these flowers.

I forgot to take any pictures of my friends, but I DO have pictures of these flowers.

What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year!

Okay, so if you’re thinking, “But wait, isn’t Galentine’s Day on Feburary 13th?” you are correct. But February 13th is a Thursday, and I can’t exactly skip work to eat brunch foods with my friends, so I threw a Galentine’s Day party on Sunday.

If you don’t know what Galentine’s Day is, clearly you’ve never watched Parks and Rec (or spent much time on the internet, I guess). Here’s Leslie Knope’s explanation:
Galentines-Day (1)

I invited all my best ladyfriends (one of them even came all the way from Indiana!), put up some poms and streamers left over from my wedding/bridal shower, and made H. leave (sorry, dude, it’s Galentine’s Day, not Guyentine’s Day).

Naturally, the most important thing about any Galentine’s Day is the food. Leslie Knope loves breakfast foods so much, and I wanted to honor that. We did not have waffles or a spray can of whipped cream, but we DID have:

-Blueberry-almond french toast casserole
-2 kinds of quiche

I also made giftbags that contained chocolate, those chalky candy hearts, and Lip Smackers…because who doesn’t want Lip Smackers?

I love hanging out with ladies, talking about lady stuff, and being surrounded by feminine energy, so it was basically the best day ever. It was just a super special time to hang out with so many of my favorite people. When the guys came home, we were talking about body image, and then they had to play video games in the living room until we were done. Sorry bros.

What about you guys? Are you doing anything special for Galentine’s Day? At the very least, you should take yourself out to a diner and eat some waffles while you think about strong female role models.

Leslie Knope image via Retreat by Random House

Lady Tip: Everybody Should Meal Plan

The alternate title for this post was “Meal Planning: It’s Not Just for Mormon Mommy Bloggers.” Nothing against Mormon mommy bloggers…clearly they know what they’re talking about when it comes to slow cooker recipes. But I feel like some people just think of meal planning as something you should do if you’re a harried mother of three. Well, I might not have children but sometimes I FEEL like a harried mother of three on the inside, you know?

Meal planning is awesome no matter who you are. It’s not only a way to save a ton of money (you waste way less food and go to the grocery store way less often), but it also decreases my anxiety by a TON. Just knowing that I’ve already planned out my dinners for the week is, for some reason, a huge stress reliever. I mean, why do I stress out about what I’m going to have for dinner, anyway? Clearly I know I’ll be getting food SOMEHOW. But whatever. The point I’m trying to make is that meal planning is awesome and everyone should do it, whether you’re cooking for five people, two people, or just yourself.

I get that some people don’t eat sit-down, full “dinners” every night. I don’t think you have to. But I grew up in a house where we ate a very traditional, home-cooked protein-starch-vegetable dinner every night, so it’s what I’m used to and it’s how I like to live my life. I feel much more centered and healthy when I’m eating balanced, full meals. And I’m not suggesting that you have to eat at a table with proper china and silverware. H. and I usually eat in front of the X-Files or New Girl (classy!). But just the ritual of having a full meal to look forward to every night is really important to me.

I do about 98% of the cooking for me and H., and before you tell me that this is a sexist distribution of labor, let me tell you a few things:

1. If I left cooking up to H., we would have chicken nuggets for dinner every night. He does NOT care about the quality of food he puts into his body and he just eats processed carbs/proteins constantly if left to his own devices.
2. H. is not super comfortable in the kitchen, which is something I’m trying to work on slowly, but right now he definitely doesn’t have the confidence to go “off recipe.”
3. Most importantly, H. does the cleaning. Which is awesome, because I hate doing dishes more than just about any chore. I would rather cook than do dishes any day.

So meal planning is something that’s basically left up to me. Lately a couple of people have asked me how I meal plan, so I thought I’d share. It’s definitely not anything ground-breaking or exciting, but just like packing your lunch, it’s one of those things that I think everyone should do to make their lives WAY easier. Here are my tips for meal planning:

1. Be thinking about food…well, constantly.
There aren’t a lot of times I’d recommend you be more like me, but this is one of them. I’m thinking about food ALL THE TIME, so when it comes time to decide what dinners I want to eat all week, I generally have a few things in mind. I read a lot of food blogs and I love looking through cookbooks (right now I’m into Dinner: A Love Story), so I bookmark/pin/copy the recipes that look good.

2. Get a routine.
Every Sunday morning, I plan out what I want to make all week based on what recipes I bookmarked, what we have in our cupboards, and what I just feel like eating. I don’t like to buy more than one cut/package of meat per week, so generally I plan a couple of vegetarian dinners and a couple of recipes that make use of one roast or something. For example, I might make slow-cooked pork on Monday night, then use the leftover pork to make a soup or something on Tuesday night. Okay, so these tips are pretty basic, right? “Use leftovers!” Gee, thanks Kerry. But you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this! And if I’m making something sort of expensive (like anything that involves beef or necessitates buying a lot of new ingredients), I make sure my vegetarian meals are extra cheap. Soups are the best for this.

Anyway, after I make my list of everything I want to make, I make a list of all the ingredients I need to buy. I organize my shopping list by section, because otherwise I get really stressed out. And that leads into Sunday morning shopping. H. and I like to go when all the moral people are in church. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you go shopping on Sunday afternoon after all the moms get out of church. Those women are gonna clear out the produce section. You need to beat them to it.

3. Sunday prep.
I only do this when I’m being REALLY organized, but it helps SO MUCH if I can chop/pre-cook things on Sunday for the rest of the week. Again, duh. This is pretty obvious.

That’s pretty much the easiest, right? Here’s my meal plan from last week. I planned this out on Sunday and more or less stuck to it. I don’t use recipes all the time, but I tried a few new things last week so I linked to them.

Monday: Slow-cooked pork with balsamic glaze, crispy potatoes, broccoli slaw
Tuesday: Pork and sweet potato hash with avocado and fried eggs
Wednesday: Black bean and quinoa soup
Thursday: Chicken cutlets with roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts
Friday: Take-out. No cooking!

These dinners all gave me plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunches, they used many of the same ingredients, and a lot of them used things I tend to have in my cupboard anyway (beans, quinoa, potatoes). We really don’t spend too much at the grocery store, which gives us a little more leeway when we want to go out, which is often. Nothing’s gonna get in the way of me and trying a new restaurant.

What about you guys? Do you meal plan? What’s your dinner strategy? Let me know!

Party Food, Welcome to Ladyville Style

This is not my party, but I sort of wish it was.

This is not my party, but I sort of wish it was.

I don’t know what it is about my family, but all of us end up being The Party Planners. Our family get-togethers (for BOTH sides of the family) always happen at my parents’ house. H. and I host a lot of parties, dinners, and hang-outs. And Alex said that even in college his house was the one friends gravitated to. What’s the deal? Are we just really, really awesome? Does everyone just love us way, way more than they love anyone else?

Or are we just the ones who end up making the most food?

As much as I’d like to pretend otherwise, I know it’s mostly that last one (for me, anyway). I follow Mama W’s party food philosophy: overwhelm them with sheer quantity. Why have one dip when you can have three? Why make two pies when you can make six? Why make one kind of cookies when you can make 12, and then display them on an entire dining room table? That last one may or may not be an example from Christmas at my parents’ house.

So when we have a party, I like to have a lot of food on hand. You never know what people are going to want to eat! And some people are allergic to dairy while others don’t eat meat, so I want to have at least a couple of things everyone can eat. Not to mention you need a good balance of sweet and savory, hot and cold, healthy and not-so-healthy…basically, yeah, I make a lot of food. H. always forgets this and before every party there’s a moment at the grocery store where he tries to talk me out of buying so much stuff. SORRY DUDE! THIS IS HOW WINFREYS PARTY.

But the thing is, as much as I enjoy feeding people, I don’t really enjoy spending a ton of time cooking. I hate things that involve too many steps, I don’t want to spend a week’s paycheck on food, and I immediately reject anything too time-consuming. Planning parties used to stress me out, but by embracing a lot of easy, not-so-sophisticated snacks and channeling my inner Nora Ephron I’ve grown to truly LOVE having people over and forcing them to eat too much. So if you’re looking for quick and easy party snacks, let me be your guide! Here’s what I made for our recent New Year’s Eve party.

Olive Cheese Bread

First off, if you’re not reading The Pioneer Woman on the regular, get on it. I love her. She lives on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, which is simultaneously my biggest dream and my worst nightmare. This cheese bread is one of my favorite things ever, and it’s also supremely unhealthy because it involves the unholy trinity: butter, mayonnaise, and cheese. You can prep the spread the day before and get everything ready to go right before your guests show up! So easy!

Oreo Truffles

This is a Mama W. classic, and for good reason. They’re extremely easy and everyone loves them. You only need three ingredients…Oreos, cream cheese, and chocolate. Oh, and you definitely need a blender or a food processor, unless you have a lot of generalized rage that you need to take out by individually crushing Oreos, in which case you should probably treat that situation in a non-cookie manner.

Bacon-Brown Sugar Crackers
What sort of black magic is going on with these crackers? Why do three ingredients taste so good together? Why do I have to bake them for two hours at low heat? Why do they curl up like the bacon is strangling the cracker? I don’t know. I don’t pretend to understand these appetizers; I’m simply presenting them to you. These felt VERY much like something you would eat a cocktail party in the Midwest in the 80s, and that’s the vibe I like to channel.

Pita Chips

These are definitely better than the pita chips that you buy in a bag (although I love those and would never turn them down), and they’re a lot cheaper, too. They take hardly any time to make!

Black Eyed Pea Salsa
Super easy, super good with the pita chips.

Apple Tart
As far as I’m concerned, puff pastry is a gift from God. It makes everything look and taste WAY fancier than it is. And, yes, you got me, this is ANOTHER Pioneer Woman recipe, but listen: I love her. She knows how to make party food, okay?

Tortellini Skewers
This isn’t really a recipe so much as it is various things on a stick. I just threaded cooked Buitoni cheese tortellini and cherry tomatoes on a skewer, then drizzled them with a simple balsamic dressing (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil). Weirdly enough, this was what people at the most of. Everyone loves eating stuff off of a stick, I guess. More food on sticks in 2014!

Li’l Smoky Cheese Ball
Our friend Chad happens to be a great cook, baker, and ice cream maker (I think I just wrote a great slogan for his business cards!), and he brought a cheese ball to the party, which was a delight. I love cheese balls. This isn’t the one he made, but when I make cheese balls (as we all should, often), I use the classic Amy Sedaris recipe. It has never steered me wrong, and once in college a man called me at 2 a.m. and asked me to bring it to a party. Yes, he was drunk and yes, he was gay, but it counts, okay?

Upside-Down Cake Cocktail
I’m a firm believer in having one signature drink per party (in addition to our absolutely ridiculous spread of booze and mixers we still have leftover from our open bar wedding), and I usually stick with a bowl of punch or a crock of mulled wine or something else that people can easily serve themselves. But this time, H. played bartender and mixed about a million of these incredibly sweet cocktails. Confession: we used whipped cream vodka instead of iced cake vodka, but guess what? No one cared! They were still great.

The moral of the story? You should probably read The Pioneer Woman next time you have a party. She’s a wealth of recipes.

I Love Columbus: Breakfast Spots

Columbus is the best city ever. Maybe you live in New York, or LA, or Chicago, or San Francisco, and you’re like, “I’m sorry? You think your city in Ohio is the best city ever?” Well, yes. I do. There are some people who are meant to live in truly large cities like NYC, but I’m not one of them. You know what I love about the Midwest? No one makes you earn anything. No one’s ever going to make you prove you’re a “true Ohioan” like they would suss out if you’re a “real New Yorker.” You don’t have to be tough here. Midwest is best, guys.

Who knows if I’ll always live in Columbus, but I’d be happy if I did. Things are (relatively) cheap. There’s lots of greenery everywhere. It’s small enough for me to navigate but big enough that you’ll never really run out of things to do. Or, more accurately, things to eat.

Since I love Columbus so much, I thought I’d share some of my favorite places with you guys. I am by no means an expert on anything, since I rarely leave my apartment, but I know some good restaurants. Today I’m talking about my fave breakfast spots. Although my husband is definitely not a morning person, my friends Carrie and Mindy and I started going out to breakfast once in awhile and it’s been wonderful. What’s better than dishing over a breakfast sandwich? NOTHING. Anyway, my favorite places are disproportionately located in my neighborhood because, like I said, I hate leaving my place. I’m SURE there are plenty of great places that I left off of the list, so let me know in the comments!

Northstar Cafe
Northstar Cafe
Image via Breakfast with Nick

I love Northstar even more for lunch or dinner–their salads are amazing! their bean burgers are divine!–but their breakfast is also fab. The ricotta pancakes and their muffins/baked goods are great, but I love their breakfast burrito. It’s filled with beans, sweet potatoes, and eggs, AKA my favorite things. Also it’s usually full of hipsters, but they’re Ohio hipsters, so they’re not very obnoxious.

DK Diner
dk diner
Image via Breakfast with Nick
Some people might tell you that the best donuts in Columbus are from Buckeye Donuts. I’m not saying those people are wrong necessarily…but also I am. DK Diner’s donuts are the best. Also, their apple fritters are the size of your head, if you have an abnormally small head (they’re still very large for apple fritters, though). They have other great food, too, but the donuts are the best.

Cambridge Tea House
cambridge tea house grandview
I’ve written about how much I love the Cambridge Tea House before. It’s super cute and super classy. And they make a mean french toast casserole.

Image via Yelp
If you like your diners super-retro, you’ll love Chef-O-Nette. I’m pretty sure the decor is from the 60s/70s and I love it. You can get an omelette for basically nothing.

skillet restaurant columbus
Image via Columbus Underground
Skillet features a lot of local food and their menu changes daily. Everything I’ve ever had here, for breakfast or not, has been amazing. But it’s really tiny, so get there early or be prepared to wait! Also, one of the waiters sort of looks like Marc Maron.

Sweet Clove
sweet clove columbus ohio
Image via The Breakfast Grub Guy
I didn’t even know this restaurant existed until Carrie told me about it. It’s inside/attached to a Honeybaked Ham. HONEYBAKED HAM, you guys. You know what that means…there’s so much ham on the menu. The menu is huge, they give you some sort of breakfast bread for free, and they bring out a whole BOWL of whipped cream to glop onto your food. Perfect. Ohio is amazing. Sorry if your town is “too cool” to have restaurants inside Honeybaked Hams.