Butternut Squash & Burrata Flatbread with Crispy Sage

and why I finally caved and did what I said I wasn't going to do

Hi! Welcome to “good mood food” from Kale Me Maybe’s Carina Wolff. If you’re somehow reading this and aren’t yet subscribed, be sure to do so below. You can expect recipes in your inbox every Tuesday, and paid subscribers receive extra recipes, behind-the-scenes content, articles, and more!

CATCH UP!

Well, I did it. After months of saying I would never want to start on another social media site, I joined TikTok.

I know you’re probably thinking, no big deal, another influencer on TikTok. And honestly, you’re right. But for me, it feels like a big deal. For the longest time, I’ve been saying HARD NO to anyone who suggested I make one. I would tell them I couldn’t emotionally handle being on another social media platform. I said I didn’t want to spend any more time on my phone than I already do. I insisted making videos wasn’t for me — I was a writer and photographer. I said my long-term career goals don’t involve being an internet star. I didn't need TikTok.

While a lot of those points still hold true, there has been a shift inside of me the past couple of months. Primarily, I have felt much more burnt out than I normally do. In the context of my current career, that sensation felt foreign and alarming. As long as I’ve been a full-time blogger/content creator, work has not felt particularly stressful. I wasn’t used to getting the Sunday Scaries. Sure, motivation has always come and gone, but this time around, it didn’t feel like it was coming back. Not a feeling you want to have when your career relies on your work ethic and creativity.

So, as I always do tend to do, I decided to psychoanalyze myself and dig deep to understand why I was feeling this way. The first question I asked myself was “Do I not want to do this anymore?” and the answer was a quick and resounding no. I still love it. I love cooking, I love photography, I love photo editing. I love having new projects, and I love connecting with other people. Weirdly enough, I even love doing sponsored content. I’ve said this before, but it feels very collaborative, in a field where I don’t get to work with others very often. I also really enjoy the challenge of working with a product and making it my own. There was no question I wanted to keep going.

Of course, sometimes I get bummed out when the Instagram algorithm doesn’t show my work or when someone is mean to me on the internet. But that’s such a small piece of the puzzle, and it’s never enough to deter me from the flexibility, creativity, and fulfilling feeling of this job. So it wasn’t that I wanted to stop — it had to be something different.

Another realization I had (which wasn’t much of a realization, because I’ve been aware of it for the past year and a half, now) was that my work-life balance was very off-kilter. I have always considered myself a very social person. I like to make a lot of plans on the weekdays (especially because I work from home, even during non-pandemic times), and I like to take trips, see friends, go to parties. Obviously, all of that changed during 2020, and to replace all that free time I had, I threw myself into work. I lived online, a lot. And I cooked, a lot. I haven’t really stopped, and that’s a problem. Yes, I take my weekends off, but I have been SO focused on work, TOO focused on work. We all know that’s never good for someone’s mental health.

The ironic thing is, even though I knew this deep inside, I kept trying and trying to work even harder. It doesn’t make sense, I know, but I thought maybe work would excite me more if my posts performed better or if I got a lot of story views. I started to get caught up in the analytics, which only made things worse (obviously). When I started to feel myself do that, started to see how my newsletters were turning into me complaining about my job on social media, I knew things were really off.

And then I made a TikTok and felt instantly better!

Just kidding. But I started to press myself on why I was so resistant to TikTok, and I began to poke holes in my excuses. So I wasn’t good at video? Okay, learn! I wasn’t good at food photography either when I started. I always love to tell people how I never want to stop learning new skills even as I get older, but my resistance to learning how to make videos was antithetical to this philosophy. Silly. I also realized I didn’t have to make a TikTok to gain a ton of followers and build an empire. I could just use it to have fun! What a concept, right? I started to get excited by the idea of a blank slate, a place I could do whatever I wanted without the pressure of sponsorships or existing followers. I can get CREATIVE. Which is what I love doing! No use in depriving myself anymore.

In the same way that I feel like this newsletter flexes a different muscle for me, so will TikTok. It doesn’t need to be about growing my business or following a formula. And with this revelation, I feel free.

Anyway, I know TikTok is not everyone’s thing, but if you do feel like following me, my username is carina.wolff, and my first video is actually this recipe that I’m sharing below if you want to see some visuals for it!

As far as me feeling burnt out, a vacation is on the horizon! Grant and I will be flying to Italy for 10 days, and I could not be more excited. I have actually felt very calm and optimistic this week about where everything is heading, and that’s a really good feeling. I’ll be documenting my journey (and preparing some newsletters to go out while I’m gone!), but if you have any suggestions for Rome or the Amalfi Coast, please let us know!!

RECIPE!

The time has arrived: I have transitioned to fall content! This flatbread is super easy and utilizes some classic fall ingredients like squash and sage. I used naan as the base of the flatbread (used the frozen one from Trader Joe’s), but you can use pizza dough, lavash, or any other type of bread product as your base!

Butternut Squash & Burrata Flatbread with Crispy Sage

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced

  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided (+ more for drizzling)

  • 1/2 medium red onion, cut into thin slices

  • 12 sage leaves, stems removed

  • 2 naan

  • 2 (4oz) balls burrata

  • Salt & pepper

  • Crushed red pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Add butternut squash to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper, and bake for 30 minutes or until squash is soft.

2. While squash is cooking, heat up 2 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Add red onion, and saute for 7-10 minutes or until onions are soft but starting to get crisp on the edges. Set aside. In the same pan, heat up another 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Add the sage leaves, and fry for one minute until crisp. Immediately remove from the pan, and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

3. If using frozen naan, heat up according to package. Add naan to a baking sheet, and then drizzle on a little extra olive oil. Top with the sauteed onions and cooked squash. Tear the burrata with your hands, and scatter over the squash and onions. Top with the sage, and bake for 5 minutes. Then broil on high for 2 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with crushed red pepper. Cut into slices, and serve warm!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!

Last week, I shared my first behind-the-scenes video for paid subscribers! I went with my most commonly requested recipe, my morning matcha! I walk through everything, including step-by-step instructions, background on matcha, what products, I use, etc. Watch me laugh at myself the whole time I tried to film a stellar video!!

good mood food
Behind The Scenes: A Matcha Morning
Hi!!! I’ve been getting pretty serious on this newsletter, but today we’re lightening things up with a fun little video! I’m trying a new little series where I show some behind the scenes of how I make my most popular recipes. Today, we’re starting with my matcha lattes…
Read more

Don’t miss out on any posts!!! Become a subscriber and get even more in your inbox every Thursday (plus access to everything in the archives!!)

I'm in! Sign me up