We have to get something straight right off the bat: calling these “biscuits” is kind of maybe not really that accurate. I’m pretty sure biscuits aren’t biscuits unless they’re flaky, buttery pillows of edible lusciousness. < --These aren't that.

Wait! Don’t go!

pumpkin cranberry biscuits via @floptimism

These are more like chewy, bready rolls permeated with pumpkin spice and softened by pumpkin puree. The bites with the dried cranberry offer all the sweetness you need against the more neutral backdrop of the rest of the dough. They’re delicious, as evidenced by the three batches I’ve made in, oh, nine days? Yeah.

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If I had my way, the only traditional recipes to be served at Thanksgiving would be the pies.

I know, blasphemy! I’ve met other people like me, though; I know I’m not alone. For anyone who’s totally down with tradition, you need to check out my article published over at Healthy Way, giving tips for having a healthy Thanksgiving without changing a single recipe. (Yes, really!) But for anyone looking to take a little risk this year, and especially for any vegetarians and vegans out there, this one’s for you.

stuffed acorn squash via @floptimism

(Please tell me you have procrastinated planning your Thanksgiving menu as much as I have procrastinated telling you about this stuffed acorn squash, because it’s is kind of perfect for the holidays. Festive inspiration came to me a bit late this year!)

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This week is going to seem a bit familiar. I’m really happy with a few different recipes I’ve made recently, and want to try to get them blog-ready…which means I’ll be making them and hoping for at least 20 minutes of sunshine at a time when I’m not at work for pictures. Are you the kind of person who has dinner staples, or are you always cooking something new?

harvest hash breakfast tacos from withfoodandlove

vegetarian pot pies with feta-scallion biscuits, probably with some shredded chicken added to Liam’s.

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A late start to my menu post this week, since I waited to raid my parent’s fridge (like the millenial that I am) from a recent farmer’s market haul they had made. I wanted to see what goodies I could grab there before I committed to any recipes for the week.

I’m pretty excited about the menu I made! So much fall is about to go down in the Floptimism kitchen.

I’m also itching to get back to posting some recipes, but I’m in this weird transition where all of my ideas are stuck in my head, and the recipes aren’t quite ready to be photographed. Thanks for sticking with all of these odd-ball recipe round-up type posts while I get my blogging act together. Lots of transitional/growing pain type behind the scenes work happening right now. If nothing else, though, I’m still cooking! And here’s what my week is probably going to mostly-sort-of look like:

Celery Bean Stew  via @Floptimism

macaroni salad using my favorite chickpea pasta for some extra protein!

prep ahead: I’m actually making this full recipe on Sunday, since I’m working late enough that I know I won’t want to cook when I get home. The recipe warns, though, that after a few days it’ll absorb some of the dressing and you may need to add a little plain yogurt, lemon juice, or other such liquid.

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focus on living not doing via @floptimism

I’m afraid I have lost my imagination. It walked away and must have found a deep, comfy cave, and it’s hibernating there. The right side of my brain has been left barren without it, adorned with little more than dusty cobwebs and a looped soundtrack of crickets chirping to drive home the silence. Is there somewhere that creative juices go to die, or vacation, or protest unfair working conditions?

I wake up. I go to work. The view from my office is of scuffed white tiles blown out by fluorescence. I sometimes forget how loud it is there. Halfway into the day, I am exhausted. I weave through traffic home and cook dinner that is passable and proficient but entirely forgettable. My body sinks into the couch, where it stays until the credits of a movie roll two hours later. I brush my teeth. I crawl into bed. My alarm goes off in the middle of a dream. It’s been seven or more hours but it feels like a shallow breath. I do it all again.

This world we live in doesn’t really value living all that much, does it? It values doing. It values reputation and image. It’s easy to get caught up in it all. It’s easy to take imagination for granted.

Sometimes, the only way to create more is to stop trying to create at all.

I think I’m going to try focusing a little less on doing, and a lot more on living.

I have so many posts in my brain waiting to spill out onto these pages! Insert-cliche-about-life-being-crazy. I’ll get the words out eventually. For now, at least, these “on the menu” posts keep me on track with meal planning, though this really came down to the wire this week. I try to sit down on Wednesdays to plan for the following week. Today, it is Saturday (though you won’t see this until Sunday). The important thing is, I made it.

Do you stress about deadlines? Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, I remind myself that in my 26 years on this planet, I don’t think I’ve ever really missed one. A deadline, that is. It can be close; it can feel insurmountable; but in the end, it comes together. Trust in yourself.

Now, let’s recipe.

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butternut black bean burgers with a side of butternut squash oven “fries” and roasted Brussels sprouts.

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Another Sunday, another week ahead – we’ve got this! Here’s what I’m cooking this week, and also some things that I’m not cooking but theoretically would. How about you?

Psst, last week was my first “on the menu” post. < -- Click there for more recipes! black bean burger via @floptimism

a revamped version of my archived
sicilian eggplant pasta, which I also totally made last Monday. It needs some extra tweaking before I’m satisfied with it.
prep ahead: I’m planning to roast the eggplant and puree it with some mushrooms the night before, since I’ll have less time after work on Monday.


But if I were going to cook, I might choose something like this: black bean burgers because Liam challenged me by calling some restaurant’s black bean burger the best he’s ever had. And then we broke up. I kid, I kid.

more leftovers!
(back-to-back late-night-work-nights) (also, hello-dashes-taking-over-this-post)

But if I were going to cook, I might choose something like this: roasted butternut squash soup, kind of like this one but with some freshly grated ginger thrown into the mix. A good, hearty grilled cheese on the side or, for vegans, maybe a bowl of roasted chickpeas and kale chips?

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Before we get started: this is how we weekend. [ joy the baker ]

A photo posted by Jessica (@floptimism) on

bookmark love.
this single serving cake batter “dip.”
this pumpkin spice hemp milk.
this olive oil ice cream.
this oat & wheat sandwich bread.
this magical chocolate sweet potato ice cream.
this earl grey quinoa oatmeal with pumpkin spice puree.
this vegan ginger carrot bisque.
this tofu ganache.
this single-ingredient maple cream.

kitchen love.
I made this toasted garlic olive oil bread dip for L, who is a big olive oil + bread fan, and he definitely approved.
Drop everything and make this blueberry & almond butter French toast. It’s infinitely better if you let it cool, spread it with some white chocolate blueberry almond butter and whipped coconut cream, and eat it like a sandwich. Trust me.

just…love, love.
#luckygirl [the atlantic]
“What if we stopped treating vegetables like side dishes?” [the smitten kitchen]
the best reason to simplify [inspiredrd]
creating [ inspiredrd ]
exercises to combat bad posture because hi, I sit at a desk 40 hours per week. [ nasm ]

And before you go off and do your weekend thing, I leave you with this awesome quote:

“we do so much results-oriented cooking that we don’t always stop and pay attention to what a sensory pleasure it is to be in the kitchen…we tend to waste our lives waiting for big moments, and there is a lot of joy to be found in small moments.” [ruth reichl via cup of jo]

I’m in a mega creative rut. So while I wade my way through this swamp of anti-imagination, I thought we’d take it easy around these parts. No stressing about the crummy lighting in my apartment and the frustratingly underexposed pictures I’ve been taking. No trying to crank out new, exciting, and cool recipes every single week. No pressure to check off to-do list items like a machine. Just…simple.

This is what I’m cooking this week. Maybe you, too, are feeling a bit uninspired. Maybe you’re new to meal planning, or not, and feeling totally overwhelmed. Together, perhaps we can piece together a set of recipes that make us eager to step into the kitchen. That’s all I really want, in the end. I want to push my comfort zone and always be reminded of the peace I feel with all of this: the energy of fitting together recipes into one meal or plan, the calmness of prepping the ingredients, and the thread of memory and experience that connects the hard work in the kitchen to a vibrant meal set on the table at the end of a long day. And I want you to push to the edge of your comfort zone and find your place in the kitchen, too. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. Let’s go!

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cookie monster cooking logo

Welcome to my third installment of blog-specific ‘love, in this moment’ posts! You can find the other two here: green kitchen stories and half-baked harvest.

When it came to Cookie Monster Cooking, I didn’t actually bookmark an overwhelming number of her recipes. I considered at the end of it all if I even wanted to officially follow future posts on Bloglovin. From a completely objective perspective, the small handful of recipes bookmarked from this blog’s pages pale in comparison to the borderline embarrassing number of recipes I’ve saved from other blogs. But I was just…so drawn to it. It wasn’t about the numbers. It wasn’t even the recipes (though, as you’ll see below, those do sound awesome) or her writing, really. It was the vibe I got, the way going through it made me feel. I felt fresh and inspired afterwards, like I could be better and want to be, too. How super cheesy did that sound just now? I can’t explain it fully. But really. Her pages are bright and inviting. Her nonchalant oscillation between roasted vegetables and Oreo popsicles is infectious and real. And then there was this off-hand comment, this little blurb on her side bar that I almost missed:

I hope that you’ll find a collection of both healthy and indulgent recipes to inspire you to cook more at home.

It dawned on me then, that this is exactly what I hope to do. I want you to become comfortable in your kitchen, wherever it is and whatever shape it’s in. I started out baking — not entirely from scratch, either (hey high school Aunt Jemima pancake parties and New Year’s Eve Betty Crocker cupcake cones, I haven’t forgotten about you!) — and it wasn’t until years later that I really branched out into cooking. I’m still learning, still trying new things, still messing up. And when I’m able to shake off the stress of cooking healthy, hammering out loads of recipes to bring more new content to the blog, getting dinner on the table 20 minutes ago with dessert in the oven…when I just stop, breathe, and experience the act of cooking, I’m in my element. There’s nothing like it. I want you to know that feeling, cooking as a journey more than a destination. This blog gets it, and I love that about it.

this mocha chip ice cream.
this cookies & cream dip.
this pistachio dark chocolate polenta with mascarpone drizzle.
these cookie dough parfaits.
these coffee coconut milk cookies & cream popsicles.
this vegetable filled mac ‘n cheese.
these homemade champagne marshmallows.
this pb&j swirl bread.
these gingerbread cheesecakes.
this gingerbread crumb cake – L would lose it if he saw me bookmark this. Gingerbread and crumb cake in the same recipe? This cake was made for him.