I’m a pretty messy person.
Sadly, messiness appears to be a familial trait, like fancy hoarding and being chronically late. Yes, it’s shameful, and I hate to think of the hovels that my family members would happily live in if left to their own devices, but I try not to let genetics get me down.
My roommate, on the other hand, is kind of a neat freak, and it “irks” him that I am somewhat of a human tornado in our apartment, leaving a path of clothing, dishes and destruction in my path everyday. According to him, “It’s so easy just to clean up as you go!” That may be true, but old habits die hard, and I’ve been a hot mess for as long as I can remember.
My messy ways first got me into trouble way back in my boarding school days. Unfortunately for this kid, freshman and sophomores were subject to daily room checks, where a teacher would inspect each student’s humble abode to make sure that the bed was made and the room was relatively neat. Those whose living quarters were not up to snuff received 2 demerits, which was the same penalty as being late for class, forgetting your homework, and other such petty crimes.
While room checks were no sweat for most of my peers, they were the bane of my teenage existence. Despite my moderate best efforts to keep it together, my dorm room was a perpetual disaster. The desk was covered in books, papers, notes and mix CDs, and you could barely see the floor beneath the thick layer of discarded Juicy jumpsuits, polo shirts and Ugg boots. (I was clearly a very studious and fashionable 15 year-old.)
Needless to say, I failed room check on the reg, and I would often return “home” to a room inspection form taped to my door with a giant X next to “FAIL.” Sometimes there would even be a personal note from my dorm parent saying something like, “Congratulations, Serena! This is the messiest room I have ever seen in my 36 years at this school,” or simply, “HOW?!!!”
Repeatedly failing room check didn’t seem like a big deal until I received a summons from the dean a few weeks into school. Considering my stellar academic performance and passable athletic participation (JV volleyball, whooop), I was rather confused as to why I was being called to the disciplinary office.
I distinctly remember sitting down across from the dean, awkwardly adjusting my double popped collars and fiddling with my side ponytail until he looked up from my file and said, “Serena, do you realize that you have amassed more than 20 demerits in the past month? That’s more than many students get in a year.” Yikes. “Do you know what the penalty for 20 demerits is?” I did not. “I have to assign you to three hours of work crew.” WHAT?! I had no idea what “work crew” meant, but it sounded like physical labor, and I was not into that. “Please report to Mr. Campbell at 5pm tomorrow for your assignment. You may go.” Appropriately shamefaced, I apologized profusely and turned to leave. Just as I was about to walk out the door, the Dean said, “And Serena? Clean your damn room.” Yes, sir.
My “screw crew” involved raking the leaves outside of faculty houses for several hours, which wasn’t actually all that bad. My “supervisor” was a softie, and he let me go an hour early, even after catching me making a leaf angel (the snow angel’s less cold cousin) in his front yard. I believe his exact words were, “Just go, Serena. And for God’s sake, do something about your room.”
I wish I could tell you that I got my act together after that first screw crew, but I didn’t. Every time I thought I had my room under control, it managed to get away from me again. The time I tried to wallpaper (and quit half way through) didn’t exactly help the looks of things, and perhaps covering a quarter of my room in throw pillows to create a “lounge corner” wasn’t the best move, but c’est la vie. I probably graduated with more demerits than anyone in Taft’s history, and I never even missed a class or smoked pot in the woods. I was a special breed of delinquent.
Things didn’t get any better after boarding school, and my college living situation was a disgrace. DISGRACE. Even my mom was appalled. It hurts to think about.
Post-college, there were the Parisian years, which were equally disorganized, and then I moved in with my current roommate. I was relatively neat for the first few months (lest he kick me out), but then I got comfortable. Comfortable and messy. The dude was not pleased, but he’s pretty forgiving because I am very charming, and I feed him.
The truth is, I would love to be a neat freak, but it’s so hard. For example, I know that I should hang up the 6-10 outfits that I try on every morning, but I need to BLOG, dammit. There’s no time!
While the clothing thing is a serious problem, it’s all the cooking that makes the biggest mess in this place. I have pots and pans galore, my pantry is overflowing with ancient grains, and I dirty at least a dishwasher full of things on the daily. Oh, and the food mess tends to travel to other rooms, since I like to do fancy photo shoots pretty much everywhere in the apartment. Occupational hazard.
Anyhoo, one of my New Year’s “intentions” is to clean up my act, organize my closets and the kitchen, and start “cleaning up as I go.” It’s been okay so far. One of the ways that I plan to cut down on mess is by using fewer pots and pans in the evenings when I’m less likely to want to spend hours cleaning up after myself. Enter: “Shakshuka” Egg-White Frittata with Turkey Sausage.
This frittata is a one-skillet wonder. In case you’ve never heard of it, traditional Shakshuka is an Israeli dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, and it is DANK. (Try Deb’s recipe if you’re interested.) This frittata involves all the glorious flavors of shakshuka but in a slightly different form. Onions, mild chilies, plum tomatoes, and feta cheese are present and accounted for, but I added in some turkey sausage and replaced the eggs with egg whites to lighten things up. The result is a savory, cheesy, and slightly spicy little flavor bomb that’s ready from start to finish in a half hour and has practically zero cleanup! Joy of JOYS.
This comforting recipe is the perfect no-fuss weeknight meal, but it’s obviously bomb anytime of day. Served with some grilled bread, it’s guaranteed to be a showstopper at your next weekend brunch (look how golden and fluffy and pretty it is!), and it actually tastes great cold. Plus, it’s incredibly good for you (low-carb, high protein, and paleo-friendly if you ditch the cheese), so it’s a great way to start your happy and healthy New Year. Do it.
Shakshuka your moneymaker, friends.
“Shakshuka” Egg-White Frittata with Turkey Sausage: (Serves 4)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 turkey sausages (3 ounces each), casings removed and chopped (I used fully cooked turkey sausages, but you can also use raw)
3 Anaheim peppers OR 2 jalapenos, stems removed, seeded and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 28-ounce can whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained
2 cups egg whites (I recommend buying a pint of egg whites at the grocery store)
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Preparing your “Shakshuka” Egg-White Frittata with Turkey Sausage:
-Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or non-stick pan. When hot, add the sausage and cook until lightly brown, about 6 minutes.
-Pour the egg whites into the pan and cook for 30 seconds before lowering the heat to low. You want the pan to be very hot when you add the egg whites so that the bottom sets, and then you want to cook your frittata slowly.
-Cook your frittata for about 10 minutes, and then add the crumbled feta and cook for another 2-3 minutes. (Turn on your broiler while the frittata is cooking!) At this point, the sides of your frittata should be set, but the top should still be a little bit runny.
-Carefully transfer your frittata to the broiler and cook for 3-4 minutes until it puffs up and the top gets lightly browned. Make sure to keep an eye on it, people! If you leave it under the broiler too long, the frittata will get grossly dry and tough. Remove the frittata from the broiler (using a dish towel or oven mitts, please) and let it rest for five minutes.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 turkey sausages (3 ounces each), casings removed and chopped (I used fully cooked turkey sausages, but you can also use raw)
- 3 Anaheim peppers OR 2 jalapenos, stems removed, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained
- 2 cups egg whites (I recommend buying a pint of egg whites at the grocery store)
- 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or non-stick pan. When hot, add the sausage and cook until lightly brown, about 6 minutes.
- Add the peppers, onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes until the onions become translucent. Stir in the paprika, cumin and salt and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan in an even layer, nestling them in the sausage/onion/pepper mixture. I like to artfully arrange them in a flower shape (because I like pretty things), but you do you.
- Pour the egg whites into the pan and cook for 30 seconds before lowering the heat to low. You want the pan to be very hot when you add the egg whites so that the bottom sets, and then you want to cook your frittata slowly.
- Cook your frittata for about 10 minutes, and then add the crumbled feta and cook for another 2-3 minutes. (Turn on your broiler while the frittata is cooking!) At this point, the sides of your frittata should be set, but the top should still be a little bit runny.
- Carefully transfer your frittata to the broiler and cook for 3-4 minutes until it puffs up and the top gets lightly browned. Make sure to keep an eye on it, people! If you leave it under the broiler too long, the frittata will get grossly dry and tough. Remove the frittata from the broiler (using a dish towel or oven mitts, please) and let it rest for five minutes.
- Sprinkle the top of your frittata with chopped parsley, slice and serve!
I’m thrilled to be part of the first week of Food Network’s Comfort Food Feast. For more comforting breakfast recipes, check out the amazing blogs below.
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Broccoli and Goat Cheese Omelet
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Gluten-Free Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
Feed Me Phoebe: Amaranth Breakfast Porridge with Blueberry Compote
Weelicious: Crispy Orange Stuffed French Toast Sticks
Devour: Bobby’s Breakfast for Dinner Recipes
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Egg Bruschetta with Pesto
Red or Green: Huevos Rancheros
Dishing With Divya: Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Sweet Toast
Virtually Homemade: Crescent Dough Breakfast Skillet
Taste With The Eyes: Kimchi & Cheddar Omelette
Blue Apron Blog: 7 Breakfast for Dinner Ideas from Around the World
Dishin & Dishes: Shirred Eggs (Baked Eggs)
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Peasant Omelette
The Sensitive Epicure: “Egg In The Hole” with Sauteed Spinach
The Heritage Cook: Southwest Breakfast Hash
FN Dish: Wake Up to Breakfast