Sometimes, you’ve just got to make chili, but you don’t have any beans, meat, or meat-adjacent foods in the house. So you improvise! My husband is a garbanzo fiend, so I knew he wouldn’t sweat the substitution.
It’s been bitterly cold in New England for the past few weeks (no lie—we got a storm that was called a “bomb cyclone” in case we weren’t miserable enough), so something hot and spicy was what the doctor ordered.
I whipped this up using ingredients I had on hand, but it turned out so delicious, I wanted to record the recipe for posterity! Enjoy!
P.S. I highly recommend using all organic ingredients, if possible, because of course I do.
Picante Chickpea & Lentil Chili
2 cans garbanzo beans*
1 c. green lentils
6 c. vegetable broth
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
2 potatoes, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotles in Adobo sauce, diced**
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 c. premade salsa (or diced tomatoes)
1 oz. bourbon (or 2 oz. beer), optional
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tbsp. Adobo seasoning***
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. chili powder
salt to taste
*You’re probably a better person than me and make your own chickpeas from dried. In that case, 2-3 cups should suffice.
**Add as much chipotle as you want—just be warned that going heavy on the peppers will make this very, very spicy.
***If you don’t have Adobo seasoning, get some sub garlic & onion powder, tumeric, paprika, black pepper, and oregano.
Over medium heat, melt the coconut oil in the bottom of a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add the red onion and celery, lightly salt. Saute until soft. Add the red pepper, potatoes, and zucchini and saute until soft. Add minced garlic and stir until fragrant, 30 sec-1 min. Turn up the heat and deglaze the pan with bourbon, if using. Return to medium heat and add garbanzos, lentils, tomato paste, salsa, chipotles, and spices. Stir until fragrant, 1 min. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 mins. At the 30 min mark, check the lentils and potatoes for doneness (I know this is a meat term, but I’m appropriating it!). If soft, turn off heat and add lime juice. Salt/spice to taste.
Serve with brown rice and top with avocado, cilantro, sour cream, or shredded cheese!
It has been a minute since I’ve done one of these. But one of my major resolutions for 2018 was to get back out there and shamelessly stan my favorite tv shows write! Here are a few of my faves from the past month.
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
So—fun fact—I started tutoring this fall! It’s definitely a challenge for me, since I’m not sure I’m the teacher type, but luckily my “student” is a wonderful human with a ton of integrity and maturity for a teenager. Her final project was a presentation on the book Station Eleven, so obviously I had to read it!
It fits squarely within the genre of dystopian YA, but the author attempts (sometimes, too hard) to elevate it with a ton of Shakespeare references (there are characters named Arthur Leander, Miranda, Olivia, Viola—and those are just the references I get). Without spoiling the ending, the climax is a bit, well, anti-climactic, but I still consider the book a worthwhile read. Plus, it’s pretty short, so it took me all of two days to finish.
I know what you’re thinking—this show ended like 5 years ago. And it did. But I’ll have you know that David Caspe’s Happy Endings is one of the *Kanye voice* best shows of all time. It’s a travesty that it only lasted three seasons. Genius actors comprise the entire cast, but special shout out to Eliza Coupe and Damon Wayans, Jr. Brad and Jane are two of my favorite tv characters ever. This show has some of the best writing I’ve ever heard—it’s inspiring and brilliant.
The whole thing’s on Hulu, so you know what to do-lu.
Great, Sara Benincasa
Full disclosure: I only bought this book because I love Sara Benincasa and it was super cheap on Amazon. Greatis a contemporary, YA, gender-flipped retelling of The Great Gatsby, which should be a recipe for disaster, but was actually a joy to read. The names are a bit cringe-worthy (I’ve compiled a list below), but, beyond that, it’s a smart spin on a classic that you could easily read in a day. I’m reading DC Trip now—keeping the Benincasa binge going!
Great – Gatsby
Jay Gatsby – Jacinta Trimalchio (get it?!)
Nick Carraway – Naomi Rye
Delilah Fairweather – Daisy (Fay) Buchanan
Teddy Barrington – Tom Buchanan
Jeff Byron – Jordan Baker
Misti – Myrtle Wilson
Giovanni – George Wilson
Leahlani Bless Balm
I am obsessed with this stuff. Bless Balm by Leahlani came in the December Oui Fresh Beauty Box and I’ve been using it almost daily since it arrived. At first I was a bit skeptical of its texture and scent (it’s a pretty strong jasmine scent and it’s got sort of a Vaseline texture), but after a month of use, I’m in love. It’s so super hydrating and has kept my skin fabulous through the dry winter months. It’s upped my skincare game.
It’s pricey as hell, but after a month of use, I’ve barely made a dent in it. I have no doubt that it will last me the rest of the year. Plus, it’s all-natural and almost 100% organic, so I feel great about supporting this beauty brand.
And, last but not least, Dry January! I’m participating in the DJ tradition this month, and I’m feeling great about it! It’s such a nice new year refresh, and a great way to shed some of those holiday lbs! Basically, the rules are: Don’t drink any alcohol for the entire month of January. That’s it! I’m tying in some other wellness practices as well, but no drinking is the main goal. I’ll post a wrap-up in early February all about my experience! Wish me luck!
It probably comes as no surprise that I’m into juicing. I mean juicing like kale smoothies, not like steroids, of course. Ah, juice: $7 cups of raw goodness that pick you up without a caffeine crash later. Heaven!
Well, heaven for Gwyneth Paltrow and the GOOP co., maybe. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the funds for a $7/day juice habit! In a perfect world, yes, I could endlessly patronize my local juiceries, but I had to find a more practical way of incorporating this healthy habit into my lifestyle.
Enter, the Jack LaLanne juicer. I’ve linked to the one I actually own, but other choices can be found here, here, here, and here. Funny story—I have been gifted 2 identical Jack LaLanne Power Juicers in my life! The first one came many moons ago from the grandfather of an ex-boyfriend (random), and the second came last year when a thoughtful coworker noticed that I was into healthy eating. I can certainly understand the impulse to ditch your juicer: they’re bulky, they take up valuable cabinet space, and they come with a million parts, all of which need to be cleaned with every use. It’s annoying! However, the five minutes you’ll spend washing your juicer is, in my opinion, worth saving the $5-$10 you’ll spend on a takeout juice, especially since you can make as much as you want at once. I just made a quart of the stuff!
For the longest time I kept meaning to juice, but felt overwhelmed at concocting a recipe. What, for instance, can be juiced? If I throw all of the produce in my fridge into the machine, will it taste disgusting?
As it turns out—everything and no! So, here’s my foolproof recipe, my “everything but the kitchen sink” juice that is as delicious as it is nutritious!
“Kitchen Sink” Juice, makes just under 1 quart
1 lemon, halved
2 clementines or 1 orange, halved
2 small or 1 large apple, seeds and stems removed
2 stalks celery, rough chopped
1 small head romaine lettuce, rough chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
2 cups baby carrots
3 large leaves cabbage, optional
Wash and prep all of your fruits and veggies. Shove them down the juicer chute to extract juice. Pour into a quart mason jar or pitcher and top off with filtered water. Give it a shake and serve right away! I like to save my leftovers for the next morning, because what kind of psychopath gets up early enough to juice before work? Not me.
Alternate preparation if you don’t have a juicer: combine all ingredients (including filtered water) in a high speed blender until liquefied. Strain the pulp out with a nut milk bag.
*very Stefon voice* This juice has everything: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, B vitamins, folate, potassium, manganese, anti-inflammatory agents, Vitamin E, and calcium! If it were any healthier, I might have to ditch my one true love, coffee, in the mornings! But don’t worry, coffee, that will never happen.
I’ve found the trick to delicious juice every time is the addition of citrus and ginger. Apart from the health benefits they each bring to the table, they make anything taste delicious. For instance, I despise raw celery with a passion, but I’m out here tryna get that Vitamin K!
These ingredients were selected, because at least in my limited scope of understanding, you can reasonably expect to have most of this stuff in your fridge at any given moment. The cabbage is optional, since I don’t think it’s common to have a head of cabbage rolling around in your produce drawer, but I highly encourage you all to get on-freaking-board with cabbage. It’s so good, and good for you! Cabbage is the ride-or-die of greens (or is it a cruciferous veg?)—it can be eaten raw, steamed, sauteed, roasted, or boiled in a soup, it’s packed with vitamins, there are a million different varieties, and best of all, studies have shown that eating yo’ cabbage can help to prevent Type II diabetes! #cabbageappreciationpost
P.S. The next National Cabbage Day is February 17, 2018. If our current administration hasn’t destroyed the planet in nuclear war by then, see you there!
I. Love. Noodles. I know that I have argued that tacos and burritos are the world’s best foods, but noodles put up a very good fight for that title. Noodles are versatile AF! There are a million different kinds, all of which are the most fun to eat. There is nothing glamorous to slurping down a big bowl of noodles—perhaps it is the great equalizer we have all sought. Maybe noodles will bring world peace at last.
A note on terminology: I don’t know if this is actually correct, but to me, a noodle is derived from rice, and pasta is derived from wheat. When people call pasta products “noodles”, I get a mild aneurysm, but then again, I never said I wasn’t compulsive.
I grew up a ramen fanatic, and I never grew out of it. I did, however, grow out of that MSG life. Health nuttiness and packaged food ne sont pas les choses qui vont très bien ensemble, très bien ensemble. I’ve been listening to Rubber Soul a lot lately, can you tell?
Unnecessary and ill-advised Beatles reference aside, my life’s mission is to eat noodles daily, and this is my go-to recipe when I come home from a long day at work and just want to gorge on something that won’t give me heart disease or diabetes #pieloverforlife. This recipe is also one of many in my personal give tofu a chance crusade, the sword I have chosen to fall on. Enjoy, my loves!
Easy Breezy Noodle Bowls, serves 2
prep time: 10 mins / cook time: 10 mins
1 pkg udon noodles
2-3 c. chopped broccoli florets (the broccoli shrinks when cooked!)
1 pkg firm tofu, drained and cubed
soy sauce or tamari
coconut oil for frying
ginger paste, optional
garlic, chopped, optional
chopped nori, optional
matchstick carrots, optional
matchstick cucumber, optional
To start, set a pot of lightly-salted water on to boil. When it reaches boiling, cook your noodles according to package directions. I buy frozen, so it usually takes about 4-minutes of cooking. Drain noodles and set aside.
Next, whisk together your soy sauce mixture. I use a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a squirt of sriracha, and a dash of sesame oil. Optionally, you can add ginger, garlic, and/or agave to this mixture to add more flavor to the final product. But this is the basic 10-minute version of this recipe, so fancy ingredients be damned!
Drain your block of tofu. Press out as much of the water as humanly possible, and then chop into cubes. This is a great guide to pressing tofu! Once cubed, toss the tofu in some cornstarch and pan fry in the oil of your choice—I like to use coconut for this. Fry the tofu until it’s golden on all sides—do your best with this, it’s hard to flip that many little pieces evenly! Then pour your soy sauce mixture over the tofu, toss in the pan until evenly coated, and then remove from heat. Save a little bit of the soy mixture—you’ll want to toss the broccoli in it later!
While the tofu is frying, get out your wok (if applicable) and start cooking your broccoli! I like to cook the broc in sesame oil, because it has such a great flavor. Heat the oil over medium heat, add the broccoli, and stir-fry! I like to let it cook in the oil for a few minutes, and then squirt in a little rice vinegar to help soften the broc (I’ve seen Hibachi chefs do this, so it must be the proper way, right?) After the broccoli has reached your desired texture, drizzle the soy sauce mixture over it, toss, remove from heat, and then proceed to assemble your bowls! Start with noodles, add broccoli, and top with tofu! Sprinkle the whole bowl with sesame seeds, and grab some chopsticks! You’re ready to eat a passably nutritious meal that kicks take-out’s ass any day of the week!
My favorite way to eat this is with an additional sprinkling of chopped nori and some cold matchstick veggies on top (carrots or cucumbers are the way to go). Also, everything tastes better if you eat it with chopsticks, so don’t skimp!
That’s it, honeys! I usually have all of these ingredients on hand, so this is a common throw-together lunch in my household. This is also a great starter dish for anyone who is looking to cut a little bit of meat from his or her diet. It’s packed with protein (and probiotics if you add the nori). The above method of preparing tofu ensures a nice crisp on the outside that will have even the most adamant tofu naysayer begging for seconds.
If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself wondering, “How can I incorporate more tacos into my every day life?” Soft or hard, veggie or bean, I love all tacos indiscriminately (get your mind out of the gutter).
Breakfast tacos aren’t exactly a stunning innovation. The breakfast burrito is a restaurant menu staple for good reason—Tex-Mex and breakfast foods are a beautiful marriage of flavors. But it is my life’s mission to eat (specifically cruciferous) vegetables at every meal, and damn it, I will accomplish it!
These tacos are endlessly customizable, and a great way to pack some serious nutrition into your morning. Plus, everything tastes better in a taco shell. It’s literally science.
Cauliflower is my favorite here, but other veggie options include broccoli, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, or zucchini!
Eggy Brekkie Tacos
soft corn tortillas, taco size
1-2 eggs (per person), scrambled
leftover roasted veggies (I recommend cauliflower)
Optional toppings might include: shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, bean dip, hot sauce, sauerkraut—if you can dream it, you can do it!
If you don’t have any leftover veggies (I seem to always have something in my fridge), toss your chopped veggie of choice in olive oil, salt, and black pepper, and roast until soft and slightly browned.
Scrambled your eggs and heat up as many tortillas as you plan to eat. I like to heat my tortillas over the open flame on the stove, but the microwave or the oven on a very low setting will work just as well. As soon as everything is piping hot, assemble your tacos by dividing the scrambled eggs and vegetables amongst the tortillas. For the less adventurous (read: messy) eaters among us, combine all desired ingredients into a bowl and top with the corn tortillas, chopped. Dig in!
There you have it: every food group before 10 am. Brb—gonna go whip up some more breakfast tacos!
I’m a little light this week on recommendations because, well, I’ve been busy AF. I’m finishing the last bits of my grad school application, working full time, and committing to my Trivia host side-hustle. The WordPress drafts are getting out of hand! But here’s what I’ve been up to in my spare time.
Life in Pieces on CBS
The first season of Life in Pieces recently went up on Netflix, so I’ve been bingeing it, hard. Fig and I finished Breaking Bad and moved onto a 30 Rock rewatch, so I needed my own personal binge show for when our schedules don’t overlap (this is often). I’m trying to wean myself off of watching Gilmore Girls in an infinite loop, so when I saw LIP advertised on Netflix’s home page, I knew it would be a perfect fit. The cast of this show is bananas. Personal faves Zoe Lister-Jones (from Whitney) and Colin Hanks (from everything + being Tom Hanks’ son) join Betsey Brandt (from Breaking Bad), James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, and the stupidly handsome Thomas Sadoski in this light-hearted comedy told in 4 vignettes per episode.
The guest cast is insane—Martin Starr plays an exterminator, Jordan Peele makes frequent appearances as Colleen’s crazy ex, and apparently next season Mullally and Offerman have roles!
Life in Pieces is the perfect binge show for the lover of light-hearted comedies and accomplished casts. Highly recommend! Come for the famous actors, stay for the amazing kids! The kid who plays Sophia is the next Shailene Woodley or whatever, for real.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
The book, I mean. Everyone’s been pestering me for weeks to start watching the HBO miniseries, Big Little Lies, starring literally every famous actress. Until last week, I didn’t even know it was based on a book, but as soon as I saw it, I recognized its candy-colored cover. I’m a moderately strict book-before-movie person, so when offered the ebook for free, how could I refuse?
At first, I was a bit dubious of the quality of the writing—it’s certainly not the sort of thing I’d typically pick up at the bookstore. But within a few pages I was hooked. I think I’ve thrown off my circadian rhythm staying up way too late reading it. I was almost less interested in finding out who the murderer/murder victim is than I was of learning about Jane’s mysterious past or the inner-workings of primary school politics.
The book is very, very different from the HBO miniseries of the same name, but I truly can’t choose which is better! They both bring so much to the table! I highly recommend both, book-before-miniseries, of course.
I’ll follow up in the next Kool Things.
The Far Field, Future Islands
It is no secret that I am f***ing obsessed with Future Islands. They are an amazing Baltimore-based synthpop band that brings me life. I first heard of them during college (Part I) when they put out their album In The Evening Air. All I had was a crap-quality (illegal) mp3 download of it, but I listened to it on repeat for months. I took to including “Long Flight” on every mix CD/playlist I made. Now that I am a grown-ass woman and pay for my music (thankyouverymuch), I’ve since remedied this earlier discretion and made sure to follow the band’s incredible career. 2014’s Singles was a revelation, and this year’s The Far Field is a fitting follow-up.
Lead singer Samuel Herring had one of the most unique and strange voices in all of music—he’s like the second coming of Mike Patton. He transitions from beautifully melodic and clean to heavy metal screaming with effortless ease. He’s also apparently a rapper (?!) which somehow I’m only just finding out about. You think I’d have such important info about my #mancrusheveryday.
This band is so ahead of the damn curve. They put out a sign language lyric video for “Cave”! “Shadows” even features actual icon/goddess Debbie Harry! The Far Field is the best use of your Hamilton ($10), trust. Future Islands is/are a big f***ing deal. Get into it.
I always love trying out new wines, but as someone who hasn’t yet read Marissa A. Ross‘s forthcoming book yet, I’m often at a loss for where to begin as I peruse the racks at my local wine shop. I’m a bit of a white wine junkie (basic white bitch, party of one!), so I absolutely love a Chardonnay, and am always looking for one that tastes better than the well swill they’ll serve you at restaurants if you don’t specify.
I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the older I get, the more I realize that that’s a bullshit adage. When it comes to products, the cover (or label) actually says quite a bit! Small businesses that really believe in their product tend to pay greater attention to aesthetic details, like graphic and web design. I was drawn to this particular bottle because of its clean, minimal label—the website is no different. Bread & Butter only produces two very highly-rated wines out of Napa, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (which, incidentally, are my go-to white and red).
Bread & Butter Chardonnay ran me about $11, which, imho, is just about right for an everyday wine. I can’t wait to try their Pinot Noir! I’ll definitely be buying this wine again!
Well, those are the highlights of my week! What’s up with you? Any new fave wines or murder-mysteries to share? Sound off in the comments!
I found myself in an incredibly rare predicament the other night: I had a ton of time on my hands, but zero chef-spiration! Usually it’s quite the opposite—I’m racing the clock to get a meal on the table and I have to edit my ideas down to what’s achievable in the span of an hour.
My malaise was so powerful that even after flipping through a few of my cookbooks (The First Mess Cookbook, One Part Plant, and Thug Kitchen) I was without direction. A lot of recipes sounded great, but I was always an essential ingredient or two off. I’m, like, the Dowager Countess of substitutions, but, like I said, I had zero creativity.
So, since time was on my side, I decided to make something that has evaded and frustrated me for years: polenta.
I know, I know. You’re like, “Chelsea, wtf? Polenta is two ingredients. Do you secretly suck at cooking, and you’ve been stringing us along with this psuedo-cooking blog for almost 2 years?” Ugh, shut up. I was the same way with rice (Martha Stewart recipe, bless up!). For me, it seems, the simpler the recipe, the more I struggle. Bake a pie from scratch? No problem, friend. Make quinoa? *frantically Googles instructions*
Polenta is a tricky beast. It’s technically easy to make, but making it properly is difficult and time-consuming. When I saw the cornmeal in my cabinet, I knew I had found my white whale. Combining this singular vision with a bunch of pantry staples, I embarked on making the least cohesive, yet most delicious dinner I’ve made in ages. And I thought I’d share.
Creamy Polenta with ‘Wino Forever’ White Beans & Roasted Veggies
5 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1 summer squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 onion of your choice, chopped finely
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tbsp butter (vegan butter or coconut oil will also work!)
extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cooked corn, fresh or frozen
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup vegetable broth
red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 400, on the roast setting if you have it.
Start the polenta—I use this recipe. I’ll give some basic instructions, but I strongly recommend reading the Serious Eats recipe, as well as the accompanying backstory. I did not follow this recipe properly, which led the polenta to take twice as long to cook. Do as I say, not as I do.
In a large pot, warm the water over a high heat. Whisk in the cornmeal. Bring the pot to a boil, and let boil/simmer, stirring consistently, until the mixture begins to thicken and “spit”. Then lower the heat and let cook for about an hour longer. Make sure you’re stirring frequently! When it’s thick enough that you can pull it away from the pan with your stirring implement, it’s ready to be seasoned with salt and butter. Stir and then serve.
While the polenta is simmering away, steam your corn for a few minutes, until soft. Set aside. Chop your onion, zucchini, squash, and cauliflower, and place them in a glass baking dish. Toss them in a tbsp of olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Stir at the 15 minute mark, and add more olive oil if they’ve dried out. Roast until they reach your desired doneness, browned on the outside, about 30 minutes.
While the polenta and veggies are cooking, start your beans. Drain and rinse 2 cans of white beans. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute or so, until fragrant. Add beans, and toss to coat in the oil. Once the beans are warmed, add your white wine, hot pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Simmer together for 5 minutes, or until the alcohol has cooked off. Add butter and veggie broth, stir, and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until the beans start to fall apart and the liquid has reduced to a gravy-like consistency. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Remove bay leaf before serving. When finished, the beans have a surprisingly meaty taste!
Stir the corn into the polenta before serving!
Plate the meal in layers, starting with a bed of polenta, piling on the veggies, and topping with the beans and “gravy”. Finish with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper. Dig in and enjoy!
**There’s a way to make this so that everything finishes at just about the same time. But I’m more of a renegade chef, plating on the fly.
It’s not the most beautiful meal (lots of yellow and beige) but it is to-die-for delicious! It made a huge batch, so I got to enjoy the leftovers for days to come. For non-veg folk, it might seem odd to eat beans & vegetables for dinner, but trust me—all of your essential food groups are represented, and if I’m not mistaken, this meal is gluten-free!