Penny has relaxing down to an art.
Dear Heating Pad: You are the best when my back is feeling sucky. Penny seems to be a big fan of you as well.
Dear Penny: I’m glad that my discomfort is your gain via very toasty puppy buns.
Dear Vegetarian Tortilla Soup: I can’t get over how delicious you are, so I’m making you again. (And will finally be out of butternut squash! Hooray!)
Dear People who take selfies in public: Do you know what you look like? I assume no because holding your phone out while you make a duck face whilst alone at a table at Starbucks doesn’t look normal on anyone.
Dear Spell check: Really, “selfie” isn’t a recognized word yet?
Dear April: Get here soon! Birthday moooonth!
Dear 30: 5 weeks! (Are people generally not this pumped to turn 30? Because I’m seriously EXCITED.)
Dear Weekend: I’m excited for your arrival, but I’d really rather just do nothing while you’re here (instead of all the stuff that’s already planned).
Dear Sushi: Get in my belly.
Dear KC: Want to go out for sushi?
Anyhoo, given that it’s still the beginning(-ish) of the year, and because my 30th birthday is rapidly approaching, I’m still on the “hey, let’s eat healthy!” bandwagon (even on weekends, which is sometimes mildly depressing). This does not mean that I’m some kind of alien being who looooves cooking every night and never craves a pizza/cheeseburger/allthecandyintheland.
However, given that I’m doing my best to be a mindful eater, I’ve decided to take my cravings and make them work for me. This means that when I’m craving pizza, I have it. I’m not ringing up Round Table though, nay nay — I’m making pizza myself. (Hello — homemade dough + you-pick-the-toppings = less calories and less guilt than the local pizzeria. Right? Right.)
With that in mind, I recently had a craving for a burger, which is weird, because I don’t usually crave burgers; but I was reading a blog I like, and the author had posted a recipe similar to this one and I decided that I had to make it. I opted to make my version with a veggie patty (mostly because I have butternut squash coming out my ears these days, thanks to the CSA box), and decided to pair it with some oven fries to make the whole deal very “diner authentic.”
What, you don’t order the butternut and black bean veggie burger at your local burger joint? Weird.
Either way — this recipe comes together in a pinch, and it’s perfect as a meal for 4 people.
And hey, if you want to make it vegan, cut out the bleu cheese and replace it with something vegan-y. Yep, totally a word.
If you’re g-free, use a gluten free bun or wrap this up in lettuce, protein-style. Get crazy.
makes 4 patties
- 3 scallions, white and green parts cut in thirds
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup cooked butternut squash (I cubed mine and boiled it for about 20 minutes, then wrapped it in a paper towel and set it in the fridge til I was ready to make these)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup rice, cooked and cooled (I used brown jasmine rice)
- 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (you could sub other beans in as well)
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1/3 cups ground oats or flour of your choice (use gluten-free oats or flour if you’re making these g-free)
- additional olive oil for sauteing
- In a food processor, combine scallions, garlic, squash and olive oil, then pulse to puree and mix.
- Add spices, salt, rice, and half the black beans. Pulse until just combined.
- Add flaxseed and flour and pulse until just combined.
- Add remaining black beans and pulse once or twice until just incorporated (you want these to be not fully pureed).
- Store in fridge until ready to cook.
- Divide mixture and form into 4 patties, and cook in a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat until crispy and warmed through (about 3 minutes per side).*
*You could probably cook these in the oven as well, like falafel.
- 1/2 large head green cabbage, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp Sriracha
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 lime
- In a large skillet over low heat, add olive oil, cabbage, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté 1 minute.
- Add chili powder, Sriracha, and sugar, and toss to combine over the heat, another minute.
- Remove from heat, transfer into a bowl and squeeze lime juice over slaw and toss to combine.
- Keep in fridge until ready to use.
Creamy Bleu Cheese
- Bleu cheese, crumbled
- Greek yogurt (I use Fage 2%)
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Combine bleu cheese with some yogurt, salt and pepper, mixing and mashing with a fork. Add a little olive oil as needed to thin out the mix.*
*Obviously, this isn’t an exact recipe by any means, so just use your judgment here — the mixture should be pretty thick, so estimate using about equal amounts of bleu cheese and yogurt + a minimal amount of olive oil.
- 2 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into sticks (you choose the size — the thinner they are, the quicker they’ll cook and crispier they’ll be)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into sticks
- olive oil
- sea salt*
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Place cut potatoes into a big bowl of water until you’re ready to cook. (Soaking them ahead of time is necessary, but it doesn’t need to be a very long soak — even just 5-10 minutes should be sufficient.)
- Remove potatoes from water and pat them dry them with a clean towel.
- Place fries in a single layer on a baking sheet and coat with olive oil, salt and paprika, toss to combine.
- Bake until crispy, tossing every 10 minutes. (Cooking time will depend on the size of your fries — start with 20 minutes and go from there.)
- When crispy and cooked through, remove from baking sheet and season with more salt as needed.
*I used Maldon flake salt for mine because I like a coarser salt on fries, but any type of sea salt would be good with these.
4 years ago, I started Go for 30 to document the trials and tribulations of going “no ‘poo” (using baking soda and apple cider vinegar in lieu of shampoo and conditioner). Since then, this little space has become mostly a spot to capture random thoughts and recipes, and, of course, the occasional Penny pic. (Let’s use that “occasional” term lightly, shall we?)
A lot has changed in the last 4 years since this all started:
- I stopped being unemployed (hooray!) and have worked at 3 different jobs
- KC and I made things official by getting engaged, then married
- We moved twice (and now live outside of the “transitioning” areas of Oakland)
- We bought a car together
- I become a certified Bar Method instructor (and now teach at 2 locations)
- We adopted Penny
But, some things have stayed the same, too:
- I still use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to wash my hair (4 years! going strong!)
- I still struggle to keep houseplants alive (it’s a work in progress)
- I still have this habit where I stop blogging for months at a time (life gets busy, y’know?)
- I still have a lot of moments where I’m like, “Am I a grownup?” (usually after doing something like having popcorn for dinner. Y’know, which happened last week…)
- I still lose my mind over the Christmas holiday season (every year!)
- And even after more than 9 years together now, I can’t imagine life without KC (so mushy!)
So anyway, life changes and it stays the same (how about that for a cliche?). And apologies for the sporadic posting lately — this is the time of year when I like to hibernate a little and wish for April to arrive quickly,
Happy 4th birthday, Go for 30. You’re still not “cool,” but that’s just fine with me.
Homemade veggie burgers + oven fries up on the blog tomorrow! Promise :)
Dear KC: Remember when we went to the Miley Cyrus concert with all the teens? We are old (but free tickets are fun).
Dear Miley Cyrus: I’m not sure if you’re some sort of crazy media genius, or just straight up crazy.
Dear Young concert fans: Um, does your mom know you’re wearing that?
Dear Rain: Yessssssssssssssss!
Dear Hair: Extra-big with the rain, hmm? Fine with me.
Dear Weekend: Hurry up!
Dear Penny: Are you ready for a rainy weekend walk? Good thing we bought you that tiny blue raincoat (and how nice that it has a pocket so you can carry your own snacks).
Dear People who walk and smoke at the same time: A. The smoking — really? B. The walking while smoking so I can’t get away from you — REALLY?
Dear BART: UUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHOMGYOURETHEWOOOOORST.
Dear BART rush-hour commuters: Let’s all learn to move our asses down the aisles so that people can actually get onto the train? Just a thought.
Given that it’s a cold, drizzly, gray day, I think it’s the perfect day to post this warm salad. It’s hearty, filling, and just generally comforting — perfect for winter. And since it’s got some good-for-you green things in there, you don’t have to fall into a pit of self-hatred after eating it (even if it does taste a little indulgent).
Warm Brussel Sprout Salad
serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side
- 1 lb brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved or quartered (depending on size)
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered and sliced
- 4 thick slices bread (I used sourdough), cubed
- 3 thin slices prosciutto, diced (feel free to use bacon or pancetta instead)
- 1 bag (5oz) lettuce (I used arugula, but baby spinach or baby or mixed greens would also work well)
- 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
- red wine vinegar (you could also use apple cider vinegar here)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Toss brussel sprouts and onion in olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 20 minutes.
- After the brussel sprouts have been cooking for 8 minutes, toss bread cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add bread and prosciutto to baking sheet (in a single layer), and bake remaining 12 minutes with brussel sprouts and onions.
- Place lettuce and chopped eggs into a large salad bowl. Add cooked brussel sprouts, onion, prosciutto, and croutons, right out of the oven. Add 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper, then toss to combine.
*Don’t over-dress this salad — it can taste a bit heavy if you’re too heavy-handed with the dressing.
This soup doesn’t need much of an intro from me — it’s crazy easy to make (and quick), and sooo delicious. It’s smoky, a little spicy, and it will use up an entire butternut squash (which, if you get a CSA box like I do, you probably have like 1,000 of those laying around right now).
Seriously, just take my word on this one and make this soup.
But maybe plan a little bit better than I did and have some ripe avocados on hand…
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup with Black Beans and Butternut Squash
- 1 small to medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about 3 cups)
- 1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1/8 tsp (a pinch, really) cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- corn tortillas (about 10)
Toppings (all are optional, but they all make this soup especially delicious):
- crispy tortilla strips
- minced cilantro
- crumbled goat cheese (cotija cheese would also work well)
- greek yogurt or sour cream
- diced avocado
- hot sauce (if you’re a spice fiend)
- Place a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add some olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until just softened and very fragrant. Add squash, cabbage and vegetable stock (salt and pepper as you go). Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through and tender.
- Add black beans and spices, then pass a hand blender through the mix to thicken the broth (the soup should still be very chunky, you’re just looking to break it up a bit to thicken things — a couple passes should do it). Return to heat and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the bottom does not burn.
- Check for seasoning (add lots of black pepper to this!), then serve with any or all toppings.
Crispy Tortilla Strips
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Stack tortillas (I used half a pack — about 10 tortillas) and slice into quarters, then into strips. Toss strips with olive oil, plenty of salt, and a bit of pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake about 15 minutes (check these every couple minutes after 10 minutes — cooking time will vary based on your oven), until just browned and very crispy.
Dear Avocado Toast: If there’s any snack more delicious than you, I haven’t found it yet.
Dear February: You’re still all kinds of depressing. Way to go.
Dear Rain: Come baaaaaack!
Dear KC: I hope your schedule is a little better after February, like you’re hoping. This whole not seeing you ever thing is kind of the worst.
Dear Decaf Coffee: Oddly enough, you’re just as wonderful as regular, and now I don’t get those awful, awful headaches anymore. Although, I’m always a little worried that everyone is going to think I’m pregnant when I hang out with you. (Note: I’M NOT, but everyone else is.)
Dear CSA Box: Apparently the winter months make you pretty depressing as well. I’m not sure what to do with 1,000 pounds of butternut squash, cabbage, tatsoi and collared greens.
Dear Vitamins: I have been taking you religiously, but I don’t actually believe you really do anything. Should we continue our relationship?
Dear Sleep: I can’t get enough of you lately. I’m going to chalk it up to this stupid time of year where I just want to fall asleep and not wake up until April.
Dear Target Fraud: My credit card is getting replaced now, which means I have to re-link everything that’s connected to it (which is like, EVERYTHING). How annoying.
Dear Fastrack, Clipper, Insurance Policies, etc: Um, what’s my password?