by Holly on June 8, 2012

in daily eats,dinner,gluten-free,happiness,life,recipes,vegetarian

I refuse to settle.

On canned beans. On crap food. On bad mascara. And on life…especially on life.

Tip #1: soak your beans…just like you soak up life.

Eek out every last droplet of moisture and let those beans (and your life) get plump. Let them soften with water, dwell in a glistening pool of liquid and fatten up like Santa Claus with a tray full of chocolate chip cookies on Christmas Eve. You won’t be disappointed in the result. Cook them for an hour over medium heat on the stove, and when they’re done, enjoy the crunch and softness and creaminess of a freshly-cooked bean.

Tip #2: buy from your local farmer’s market.

What’s not to love about local, fresh produce? Awwww yeah…that’s what I thought, NOTHING. Buy seasonal. Buy local. Buy asparagus. Buy cheese. Buy herbs. And if you pronounce it “herbs” instead of “erbs,” then more power to you. Lemon basil and cilantro, may the force be with you.

Tip #3: use good-quality mascara.

I’m talking Shu Uemura (the expensive stuff) or CoverGirl LashBlast (the cheap stuff). Personally, I go for the latter. This oh-so-cultured Everythingtarian is all about drug store make-up and trash magazines. Nothing gives me a high quite like buying St. Ives Apricot Scrub while reading the latest edition of Star Magazine in line at Walgreens. No shame my friends, no shame.

Tip #4: quit a job that’s making you unhappy. I did!

Today is my official last day at the full-time job I’ve held for nearly three years. And before you even ask it, NO. No no no no no, I have not a clue what my next step is.

I do know that since December, I have somehow managed to finagle a host of freelance jobs – writing, editing, social media-ing and marketing my way to some helpful, on-the-side paychecks. They’ve involved TV and cheese and top-secret negotiations I have to keep quiet about for now. After six months of working a full eight hours a day and going home to do an additional 2 to 5 hours of work a night however, something had to give. My sanity or sleep. Either I had to refocus in my full-time job or give freelancing a shot. And so, about a month ago, I decided to take a leap.

A giant leap into the world of freelance and uncertainty and what-the-hell-am-I-doing and true happiness. And you know what? It.feels.awesome. It feels freeing to be pursuing something I love. It feels scary to know that I could fall flat on my face at any given moment. And it feels liberating to escape a job that wasn’t built for my personal skill set or interests.

This life, this new direction, this meal…it was built for me.

Creamy, spicy polenta. Crispy asparagus. Fried beans. Tangy, salty feta. A generous pour of pinot noir. And of course, an adorable flowered summer dress.

Please, eat it up along with me.

I’m going to need all the help I can get.

P.S. If you’re looking for a writer/editor/marketer/host/persona/renaissance woman, email me at Seriously.

Spicy Polenta with Grilled Asparagus, Pan-Fried Beans and Feta
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

3 T olive oil
1 bunch asparagus
1 T minced garlic
2 bulbs spring onion or scallion, sliced
4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 cup quick-cooking cornmeal
2 T butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 t crushed red pepper
salt + pepper, to taste
1 cup cooked cannellini or other bean of choice (i.e. kidney, lima or garbanzo)
1 t salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet, toss asparagus in 1 T olive oil and bake until golden brown. Turning after 20 minutes.

On medium-low heat in a saucepan, saute 1 T olive oil and garlic until fragrant. Add onion and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Pour in water, and let come to a boil. Add polenta, and whisk constantly for 5-6 minutes until cooked through. Add in butter and heavy cream, continuing to whisk until blended and smooth. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat, saute beans in 1 T olive oil. Let brown for 3-4 minutes per side. When finished, season with salt.

To serve, layer polenta with grilled asparagus, pan-fried beans and 2 T crumbled feta.

Makes 4 servings


Sarah (I Dream of Beets) June 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Congratulations! Your bravery will be rewarded, I’m sure! Good luck as you figure out the next steps. I’m going to go toast you with a glass of wine:)

Stacie June 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Congrats Holly, I was guessing something like this was on the Horizon! I am even happier for you than I was for the latest TV episode, you ROCK!

Amanda June 8, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Congratulations on your freelance work Holly! it was such a pleasure meeting you on the cheese tour last weekend. You have such an amazing personality, you are destined for great things :)

Adj (Tattoos & Champagne) June 9, 2012 at 7:09 am

Holly… you BAMF! :D That takes a serious girl pair, m’dear – certainly more than most could claim (I include myself in that statement). Congratulations! Good luck! And remember to use your nice penmanship as you take names whilst kicking a$$ :)

Julia H. @ Going Gulia June 9, 2012 at 7:22 am

Good for you, chica! I think the lesson to stop doing something if it doesn’t make you happy is one that more people need to learn, not even just in the job sense.

Hillary June 9, 2012 at 7:47 am

I am so, so proud of you—for a lot of things, but especially for recognizing that what you were doing was making you unhappy, and for taking charge and DOING something about it. Good things are waiting for you. Go get ’em!

sarahsouth June 9, 2012 at 8:36 am

Just watched your farmers’ market salad video. You are the cutest! Good luck – you will thrive :)

Tiffany @ creating muscles June 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

AHH!!! How exciting!! With your talent you will go very far. I have been reading for a while and know that good things will come to you. Best wishes!!

Nicole @ 'Just Live It' June 10, 2012 at 6:09 am

Hmmm, that recipe looks SO good! :)

Kristen - Anywhere There's An Airport June 10, 2012 at 7:07 am

The world awaits you… and it’s going to be AWESOME! So proud of you.

Kaleigh June 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Wow! Really exciting for you! You’ve certainly got what it takes to be successful. I wish you the best of luck and tons of fun in your new endeavor!!

TeriLyn [a foodie stays fit] June 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I am SO happy for you for quitting a job that made you unhappy. seriously the best feeling in the world! I’m excited for you and this new phase in your life. You’ll be great at it! You’re a fabulous writer. <3

Hannah-lyz June 10, 2012 at 7:51 pm

I’m so happy for you!!! Congratulation on your amazing leap! I leapt from a course which was slowly killing me and job that drained my spirit, to venture into the scary world of self-employment, but it’s the best thing I ever did :) Life is too short to do anything which you do not love! I hope the rollercoaster of these next few months is amazing you :) Best wishes x

Clare @ Fitting It All In June 10, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I feel like I’m you a few months ago. I work full time, but have whole bunches of fun new opportunities on the side that I would LOVE to be able to pay all my bills eventually. Congratulations to you for taking that leap – you’re an inspiration, as usual!

Lauren @ The Climbing Chef June 10, 2012 at 11:50 pm

I am so proud of you!!! That is amazing and I know it will all work out for you… even if it is scary, things will find a balance. Polenta is one of my staples in life, and this one looks fabulous!!

janetha [meals & moves] June 11, 2012 at 11:28 am

Color me proud.

Jessie June 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Congratulations on doing something so brave!! :)

Kim June 11, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Holly, this is awesome! I am so excited for you! You’ve worked so hard and it DEFINITELY shows. Don’t stop chasing your dreams and most importantly, don’t stop refusing to settle!

Maura @ Running to Saks June 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Congrats Holly! Can’t wait to see where this journey takes you! Best, Maura

Bonnie June 11, 2012 at 10:36 pm

This is so exciting, Holly! Thanks for sharing…What a neat (and courageous!) step and I am thrilled to see where it’s going to take you…You sure seem to have the drive, passion, and personality to make something like freelancing work. Enjoy the unknown of this next step!

Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete June 12, 2012 at 12:03 am

I just wrote a post about this, myself. I’m glad you are following your dreams. Everyone deserves to be happy!!!

Sarah June 12, 2012 at 12:30 am

Cheers to you for taking this step!!!

Bronwyn June 12, 2012 at 9:03 am

Wow, can’t believe I missed this post! Good for you, and good luck with the changes.

Shaunna@mamas13minutemile June 12, 2012 at 11:43 am

Yahoo! Way to go sister!!!!

Lauren June 12, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Kudos to you for going after a full life, one of happiness, uncertainty, excitement and awesomeness! The Universe is going to pick up on your good vibes and doors will open for you! Congratulations and enjoy!

brandi June 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm

i am SO Excited for you!!! seriously cannot wait to finally meet you this summer. ahhh!!!

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