Monday, August 25, 2014

My Life in Food Is Moving

Hi Friends,

Long time no talk, I know. Guess what? The kids head back to school tomorrow and for the first time in forever, I'll only have one baby at home all day! This means more time for blogging. This post is just a heads up that I'm planning on writing at a new blog this year. I'll still write about food and recipes, but I'm expanding in that it'll be more my personal blog/lifestyle site. I want to talk to you all about so many things, not just food. I don't have a lot of time here since all four kids are still home with me today, but be looking for an update soon.

I'll just warn you, it could be a couple weeks. I really truly suck at technology and setting up a new website is like, really techy, so grace please!

I'll leave you with some more scenes from summer.

Talk soon,

figuring out the 7th grade school lockers

Rockies/Dodgers game

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ginger-Miso Baby Bok Choy

Oh, hello there. I'm writing here again so soon! With all the time off I've taken lately this is shocking and wonderful to me. I sat down at the computer today and I actually wanted to blog. Not write, which I do all the time and save on desktop files because they have zero to do with food or recipes and I have no other place to publish this sort of thing, so I just keep it to myself, which is probably for the best because honestly? I don't know anything.

I'm a thinker and slow processor, so when life happens which is all the freaking time, writing helps me process what exactly life just did. Sometimes, I'm completely unaware of what I actually felt and went through until I start writing. I mean, I'll intuitively know, but writing forces framework which gives shape and clarity which is so neat because before that it was just all jumbled up in my head.  

It's safe to say I've been in an accelerated learning time. It's thrilling and confusing all at the same time. I'm in a place where things make complete sense in my head but the second I go and try to put it on paper it gets all jacked up and comes out wrong. I've heard it said that you don't really understand something unless you can simply and successfully explain it to a 6 year old. So, I assume I'm in a gathering phase and just don't understand it all yet. Learning and soaking up but not yet ready to share. It doesn't make for the best writing.

Random picture time, because my husband doesn't read long text without the visual break up of pictures. Maybe you don't either? Please note this has nothing to do with my topic today but it just a tool of manipulation to keep you reading...Look at my cute babies!

The only thing I seem to not be confused about is the certainty that every single person I know is confused too. You know that story about the car accident? If a car accident happened in front of you, you'll see it totally different from where you are standing than the person across the street. It's possible that you can watch the very same accident and walk away with differing opinions on what happened or whose fault it was. I can't even tell you how many times this sort of thing has been demonstrated to me the past few months. Its like the universe has gone completely out of its way to show me this. The car accident thing is a metaphor--of course, for real life. I've been wrestling with this mostly because our minds are conditioned to see situations and people as either "right" or "wrong", but the problem is this is not the most beneficial way to see the world. In fact, we go around all our lives blending both facts and assumptions with downright falsities to get to place where we can be justified-or right, just so that we can live with ourselves. Sometimes we down right lie to ourselves so we can be free to believe what we want. The easiest person to fool is always ourselves. Just knowing this makes things easier and harder. I don't want to see non black and white issues as "right" or "wrong". I just want to have grace and leave space for understanding-or not understanding- it doesn't matter as long as there is space instead of walls. There's always another story, another perspective that also has value and merit. This may come a a shock to you but I am rarely, if ever, 100% right. :) It seems we're always a little bit right and a little bit wrong. And sometimes we don't even know what we are. We're just confused and trying to do the best we can. And that's okay too. But It's holy complicated Batman! 

So you see, I don't know anything. I'm leaving space (because it's my new thing-space) for the lessons to come into focus before I open my mouth in half formed ideas and theories. I do like the process though. I'm finding that for me, embracing questions instead of trying to find absolute answers is the way to go. I'm a tad leery of people with answers. Even well formed, thought out ones. Only because I've come to believe theres no one right answer for everybody. Some may identify with your answers. They may hear what you have to say and think "Yes! me too!" and it means you've found some common ground and connected and you all are likeminded. They are "your people" if you will. I think this is good and fine, just so long as its coupled with humbleness and recognized that your answer is most likely not the golden ticket -THE ANSWER- for someone else. And this, in turn, does not make them wrong. It makes them different. We can leave space for different, can't we? We can agree to disagree without thinking the other is ill-informed, undereducated, crazy or wrong.  

There is absolute truth, however, which is different. Truth can't be subject. Truth is absolute whether you agree or not. However, I think that people who have come to intimately know truth, not just believe in it, but a deep KNOWING of it by experience can see how it becomes simple and recognizable where it wasn't before. You have eyes to see. You know that you know and it doesn't need defending. Truth never does. Once you live in truth you are free to express it without worry for how it is received/perceived by anyone else. I just heard that today. This is real freedom, and since there is no need to convince other people of its existence you can relax. Everyone looking will find truth eventually. This is how I think you can live in the tension of relaxing into holding space, living in peace with our fellow man and all that hippie-ish jazz, but also holding on to yourself and beliefs solidly and being able to voice them- not shying away. I think people receive ideas when we're not pushing them or asserting that they are "better" or "superior" anyway. If they are better or superior, or what I like even better is, if they make more sense or bring peace and clarity, well then, they just will. You don't need to do anything else. The irony is we need to try so hard to find truth but once we have, it seems we need to only stop trying so hard. 

But excluding absolute truth, there is only perspective. And I can hold space for differing ones. 

Sorry, is this vague? My whole life is pretty vague so at least it's appropriate. I'm not talking about anything specific, just a season in life. Just my thoughts. Remember, I don't know anything really.

Oh and food! Yes, the food. I've never really known what to do with bok choy. It's one of those vegetables you read about and think "I should really eat that" but then you don't because, lets be honest, you don't make stir-fry that often and thats the only way you think of using it. Oh, but this way is so much better. Our Natural Grocers has been stocking the most beautiful baby bok choy and one day I just couldn't resist it anymore. I resolved to buy some and at least get it home. Only then would I worry about how I was going to prepare it. I scoured the far corners of the internets when I landed on this, the miso-butter-ginger-lime one. Because, I mean, really. Okay, so this is more of a method than a recipe. Exact quantities will vary depending on how many or how big your bok choy is. So it goes like this:

Ginger-Miso Baby Bok Choy
serves 2-4

4 baby bok choy, rinsed and cut once horizontally down the center
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (about a tablespoon)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons yellow miso
fresh limes for serving

I never measure when I make this. If you are a non measurer type of gal, just think this: Equal parts miso to butter, and add some garlic and ginger. 

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium  heat. Add ginger and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bok choy, cut side down. Add miso (it'll remain in a clump and not mix in right away- this is okay, just let it melt with the heat of the pan) and a few tablespoons of water. Let it heat up a few minutes, then cover with a lid and let everything steam together until bok choy is tender, about 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle bok choy with a tiny pinch of salt (miso is salty already) and spread miso around the pan to combine and coat bok choy. Serve hot with lime wedges.

Don't mind this duplicate picture. Let me tell you how lame I am. I have to upload this picture from Photobucket instead of Flickr, which I've used above becuase i can't share my photos or blog to my Facebook page or Pinterest if I don't. my Flickr account won't let me share my photos and I have no idea why. I've tried all the techy things. I don't know. So for now I have to add a picture from Photobucket, which I won;t use exclusively because it washes out my pictures and makes food look anemic. Blogging has gotten hard and time consuming. Yuck.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burgers

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Happy day after day after Mother's Day! I hope you all feel celebrated and honored. I'm sad to report it was a downright snowstorm here in Steamboat on Sunday. Ah, such is life in the mountains. It's okay. My hopes of sitting out in the sun all afternoon with a crisp sauvignon blanc was replaced by a cozy early breakfast with my family, followed by a planter pot full of herbs since we are renting and I don't currently have a garden of my own, and a bouquet that was made more special since my kids picked out different random flowers and had the florist make an arrangement out of it. Jeremiah picked the bluebell looking ones and pink rose. Isabella picked sunflowers and tulips.

I was also presented with a giant handmade poster from Isabella that said "Happy Mother's Day, We I love you" with stickers all over that said "Happy Birthday!" and two balloons that said "Happy Birthday Princess!" because, you know, it's the sentiment that really matters, not what you are actually saying. Everyone know that.

We took my mom out to lunch on Friday to celebrate with her. Kaylee and I had just gotten back from a run up Spring Creek in preparation for our 5k coming up. My lungs bled, I'm pretty sure, so to document the moment we snapped a selfie. Don't let the smile deceive you. My lungs are BLEEDING.

Then we came back to the house and rehydrated with a green juice.

In other mother related news, mine has started experimenting with actually styling her hair. My mom has never changed her hair style. Ever. Also, she never blow dry's or puts any product in (except for special occasions) Here, I'll prove it.




even 1971, for goodness sake (on the right)

Same length, same bangs. I can tell you this-she curled her hair in the 1981 picture and used a blow dryer for the 2008 one ONLY because she knew she would be taking pictures. You get the idea though.

But she started to rethink her hair situation after she decided to buy a wig. She hoped it would look like real hair. My mom is crazy. I did the cry/laugh for 40 minutes as she told me the story of watching the home shopping channel where the hosts all wore the wigs raving about how real they looked. It should be noted that my mom might have a small home shopping addiction. At first she was skeptical. She could tell the host was wearing a wig. But she couldn't decide if it was because she knew she was wearing one since that's what they were selling. Perhaps if they weren't selling wigs she wouldn't have even noticed? Curiosity peaked she decided to watch some more. Then she ordered one.

When she came over she announced "I ordered a wig. Just to see what it would be like. Because I mean, if it looks real, what an easy way to do it. I could look good everyday."

My laugh/cry begins when I realize she isn't joking.

"Plus" she continues "If I ever got cancer and went through chemo...I'd have it" Please note, she says this seriously like it's actually a plus.

The tears start rolling and my cheeks already hurt.

She tells me her plan is to just wear it one day when Dave (my stepdad) gets home from work and just see his reaction. She wonders if she can get away with it looking real. She wonders if he'll just think it's her actual hair. Like, will he even notice? I assure her he will definitely notice. For the first time in forever her hair will be sleek, blown out, perfectly cut, poofy and shiny. My mom naturally has very wavy horse-like hair. Oh, he's going to notice. Who did she think she was going to fool? I beg her to take a picture of her in it when it arrives. This is just the best thing to happen all year. I've got to see it. I promise her I won't post it to Facebook or anything. But I don't promise I won't blog about it.

She says what finally got her to make the purchase was that she had been watching the home shopping channel for a while when she heard they were selling out of some of the styles. She knew she had better get on the phone and order the cut she wanted first. She knew she wouldn't get what she really wanted if she didn't hurry. My mom is the prime target audience for home shopping channels. "Wait" I say through tears "You mean to tell me you ordered a wig you didn't even really want just because they were selling out?" She looks at me like ummm, yes, are you even listening? That's exactly why. Also, she says the seller lady announced she planned to wear the wig to an upcoming wedding. Oh, my mom thought, dang, if she can wear it to a wedding it must look good! She is not very ashamed about this. It's awesome. She's slightly embarrassed though and expects it to not look very real. Although holding out hope, she believes she'll have to return it. But she just has to make sure first. Try it on. Take it for a spin. She imagines all sorts of scenarios. Like will she have to work out at the gym with it on? What if people know its a wig and they wonder why in the world she would wear a wig to the gym? Who wears a wig to the gym? But then if she doesn't wear the wig all the time, then someone who sees her real hair at the gym might see her later that day in the grocery store with her hair all done, slightly a different shade of brown and then they'd know for sure she's wearing a wig. If she was going to do it, she'd have t commit to wearing it pretty full time. If not, if people started to catch on, then they'd wonder...Laurie has a full head of hair, why is she wearing a wig? My mother lives in a very small town. She sees the same people over and over. I told her she could just decide to not care what people think. She assured me she doesn't normally, but having people wonder if she was wearing a wig or not was a little too weird. She couldn't have people thinking she was crazy, or worse, be the laughing stock. One doesn't usually wear a daily wig just for the hell of it.

"Only thing is, I wonder if I wear a wig, if my hair will start to fall out?"

You guys. At this point, I start to get maniacal. Why in the world would she think her hair might fall out?

"Well, you know, from covering it up from the sun and air all the time?"

My side is aching. I'm bent over. I'm gasping for breath between fits of laughter. This sounds like logic my dad would use (he has legitimate brain damage though). It reminds me of the period of time my dad would only use Garnier Frutctis shampoo because he believed the plant extracts from the fruit (Fructis, ya'll) would stimulate his hair to grow in thicker. Then, every day he would sit in the sun and pour Fiji water over his head like he was watering a garden or something. It had to be Fiji brand because it came from tropical waterfalls, you know, and had mysterious powers that other normal water didn't. Still I think it can't be coincidence that two adults in my life would think this way. Do people with hair issues fall into this line of thinking? Is there any legitimacy to this? I have no idea. I just know it sounds like lunacy. And I haven't laughed this hard in years. My mom is dying too. We can't even talk to each other for five minutes.

It was probably the best day ever.

A few days later the wig came. She tried in on in her bathroom and snapped a few selfies. She sent me one. Are you ready?

Let's compare, shall we?

fake (wig):


WILL DAVE NOTICE? Bwahahahahaha.

She never worked up the courage to wear it out. She said it took her 20 minutes just to get her real hair pinned up and secured and for the wig to get on her head right. It was then she had a lightbulb moment. If it takes 20 minutes to get this fake hair on my head and I'm doing it just so my hair can look styled, why wouldn't I just spend 20 minutes styling my own hair? Yeah I know, you probably asked this question to yourself way back when this whole story started, but we're slow processors in my family. SO this is how it came to be that my mother showed up at my doorstep the other day with her hair done. I decided to take pictures of the occasion. She was a willing model.

*We don't need to call attention to her highlight situation. Don't worry, she knows*

Should we get a pensive one? She asked. No mom, you look too cute for serious shots. You can't tell as well in the pics, but you guys...she styled her bangs TO THE SIDE. This is new. This is Laurie, unprecedented. And it all came about from some wig antics. I'm so glad my mother isn't boring.

Ah, crap. I did the thing where I wrote about something else instead of food on the food blog again. This happens a lot. I think this fall when Olivia starts school and I gain a bit more free time I'll start another blog for this sort of thing. Hey, at least I'm writing.

I am genuinely excited to talk to you about these turkey burgers. Rumor has it Oprah asked for this recipe after interviewing Donald Trump at  Mar-a-Lago in Florida. She says they were the best turkey burgers she had even eaten. I have to agree.  It's the combination of the burger with the special sauce that makes it great. Topped with a melty slice of sharp cheddar cheese, these are heaven. Just make sure to prepare in advance. After you shape the meat into patties, they'll need to sit in the fridge to firm up enough to be grilled which takes a few hours. I just make these around lunchtime and place the patties on a baking sheet lined with foil and stick it into the fridge until dinner time. It works great. The secret ingredient in these burgers is mango chutney. Although I left it out when my sister was visiting because she was on a no added sugar diet and she didn't seem to mind. I mixed it into our patties though because I really do think it makes them special.

Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burgers
adapted from Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist
makes 12 burgers

1/4 cup scallions
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
Olive oil
4 pounds ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Tabasco
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1/4 cup mango chutney

Special Sauce:
1/2 cup mango chutney
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup ketchup
2 dashes Tabasco, or to taste

(optional: melt a thick piece of sharp cheddar over the burgers. Serve in buns with the special sauce, avocado, tomato, and lettuce)

Saute scallions, celery, and apples in olive oil until tender. Let cool.

While the mixture is cooling, make special sauce. Mix chutney, mayonnaise, ketchup, and tabasco. Adjust for heat and then refrigerate until serving time.

Place ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sautéed items and the remaining ingredients. Shape into 12 burgers. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or longer if needed.

Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill set to medium-high heat. Grill each side for 7 minutes until meat is throughly cooked. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Springtime Miso Soup

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It's been a month since I last published a post. At Starbucks, a friend asked about this little space. She wondered if she'd missed something since I haven't blogged in a while. I'm grateful she brought it up otherwise I'd be reading again instead of writing here which I've wanted to do for a while now. Things lately have been busy. I don't mean running around like a chicken with my head cut off "busy", but  just very full. It's been great, but free time is next to nada. When I have it, I want to read because it takes no effort. Writing on the other hand is work. You expend energy when writing even while really enjoying it. This is why writing is a real job that people get paid for. I don't get paid so I let it slide this month. I feel pressured by all sorts of things in life but keeping up my blog isn't one of them. I do forget sometimes that there are all you wonderful people out there who actually read and may wonder where I am. So, Hi. I'm here. I'm alive. My days are broken up in naps and feedings and baby schedules and homework, dinner, family time, and lately my 5K"training". It's not hard, it's just very preoccupying. Lets just say I don't get bored much.

On that note, I have received a few emails from people asking me questions regarding the blog and I had the best of intentions about getting back to you, but then a day went by and I didn't, and then 112 more emails came in the next day and eventually I had to accept that It just isn't a good time. I'm so sorry! This was hard because I always try to get back to people in a timely manner. It's only polite. I've needed to learn this past year to let some (less important) things go and manage my time better so I can focus on other more pressing matters. Letting go of answering emails was kind of a biggie last week because I always need help to let go of what people may think of me. If I don't get back to this person they will think I'm ignoring them or worse, that I'm a rude slacker who doesn't get back to people. But the thing is I usually do get back to people. We were just really sick last week. I decided to give myself some grace considering the circumstances. One of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Doyle Melton once told a story about how she wasn't a good cook and hated food and thinking about it. Pot lucks made her literally panic. When she admitted this to a friend, the friend said something like "You're right G, you don't bring good food. But I always want you at my potlucks because you are the best listener of anybody I know. People love talking to you." So Glennon, upon realizing and accepting this of herself (and deciding that there were other more important areas to grow that were more pressing and valuable than this) responded to all future invitations for potlucks with "I won't bring food, but I CAN bring my spectacular listening ears!" People who loved her were fine and got a kick out of it, and people who didn't stopped inviting her to things. She says it was a WIN-WIN! I loved it because she actually didn't concern herself with what anyone thought of her, even if it was bad. She knew you can't please everybody even if you tried. It's a fools errand. This is what I've been practicing lately.  And, it's a practice, lemme tell ya. My people pleasing and "Polly Politeness" vein runs deep. I've decided that because of this I never want to be famous. Famous people get asked and pitched about ALL THE THINGS, every single day. Can you imagine? Everyone wants piece of you. If you got back to everyone on every little thing you literally couldn't do it. Tim Ferriss says that well known bloggers and speakers get 10-20x the emails you think they do. Thousands everyday. Think about real famous people then. Sheesh!

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Okay, onto the food.  I recently ordered the Miso soup at True Foods Kitchen and when it came out there was a garnish of very thinly sliced snow peas on top. It was the perfect little hint of spring green and brought a fresh element. I loved it. So much in fact that I decided I needed to make it at home. Miso soup can be more involved, using seaweed and bonito flakes to flavor the broth, but I have found that this quick method (using just miso and water) tastes just as good for a quick lunch with a salad. My favorite for this is yellow miso, or Hawaiian miso. White miso is mild and sweeter and red miso is bolder, so pick which ever one you want.

Add cubed tofu if desired.

Springtime Miso Soup
makes 1 small serving

2 teaspoons light yellow miso
1 cup water
3-4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin
4 snow peas, sliced thinly on an angle
1 green onion, sliced, green part only

Bring water to a low simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add miso the mushrooms and turn heat down to low. Let simmer very gently for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Add miso and stir just to combine (you don't want to boil miso). Pour broth and mushrooms into a bowl. Add the thin slices of peas and green onion on top. The heat from the liquid will just barely soften them. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Moms Restaurant Style Salsa

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My mother is the queen of salsa. Every time she makes a batch its a little bit different because she forever tweaks the recipe here or there. She's an intuitive cook and not a recipe follower. Sometimes this is infuriating. For example, I swear she used to use lime for tomato salsa (lime for salsa, lemon for guacamole) but she tells me no, it's always been lemon. I'm not so sure. I think either would work well here.

The baby helped on our big salsa making day
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She's roasted tomatoes and added a touch of cinnamon and spicy reconstituted smokey peppers and a squeeze of orange and dash of clove for a salsa made specifically for pairing with easter ham. That was delicious. She sometimes adds more or less of a certain ingredient, but one precaution she always takes is to sample the jalapeno alone (she straight up cuts a piece off and pops it into her mouth) to see how hot they are. Jalapenos are really unpredictable. Some are not spicy at all, like a bell pepper and some will really burn. If a pepper is particularly hot, she might not include the white parts or seeds in the salsa. My mom likes things hot though, so this doesn't usually happen. Also, sometimes she'll use serrano pepper instead of jalapeno. Play around and have fun.

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I started my "training" for my 5k this spring. Woo-hoo! The weather is warming up and the clouds are giving way to sun. Salsa, it seems will start to be mandatory in these parts really soon.

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Moms Restaurant Style Salsa
makes about 4 cups

10 roma tomatoes
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced (or 1/4 of a larger onion)
1/2- 1 jalapeno, chopped in big chunks (test a piece plain to see how hot your are before adding)
1 fat garlic clove
1/2 head of cilantro
1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Boil whole tomatoes, onion, and chopped jalapenos and simmer until tomatoes skin starts to burst, about 5 minutes. Transfer it all into a food processor and add 1/2 head of cilantro, garlic, juice from 1/4 a lemon, and spices. Pulse until blended and taste. Salsas final flavor will very depending on your ingredients so add more salt of jalapeno or lemon if desired.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chocolate Avocado Smoothie

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My sister is going to kill me for this post. I made her this smoothie last time she was over and lets just say she wasn't a fan. Not because its not awesome, but because she's completely sick of avocados. Normally I would tell you that you can't taste the avocado in this smoothie but it's not true. See, the way this smoothie ends up tasting has everything to do with the kind of avocado you start with. A perfectly ripe, green flesh, soft but still firm avocado will be the best option. However, avocados have such a short life and cycle through their stages so quickly you don't always have this option. Bottom line is if you use an over ripe, florally avocado then you will indeed pick up those tastes in the smoothie. Similarly, if you use a very green underripe avocado, you'll taste it. Now that being said, it's not a bad thing unless you happen to hate avocados. But I'm guessing if you hate them this recipe won't be on your "must make list" anytime soon.

The case for avocado smoothies- When this smoothie is good, it's REALLY good. The avocado makes the smoothie thick and silky, not unlike a pudding consistency, and it actually tastes a lot like chocolate pudding. I love that. Other times, when the avocado is less than stellar, it still has that thick consistency but will have a slight aftertaste. This doesn't bother me in the least but it's something to consider.

The texture wins me over every time. I love it. Feel free to play around and add more sweetener if desired to get your desired outcome.

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I drink this for breakfast. that way I can use raw cacao powder without a problem. Raw cacao tends to keep me up at night so if I make it then, I'll use regular cocoa powder. Nowhere near as good for the body, but when you want a chocolate smoothie, you want a chocolate smoothie.

This drink is loaded with minerals and antioxidants from the cacao, sugar free since stevia is used, contains healthy fats from the avocado and supplies a healthy dose of calcium in the form of coconut milk. It's sure to keep you full. Cheers!

Chocolate Avocado Smoothie
serves 1

1/2 a medium avocado (sometimes I use a whole avocado)
2 1/2 tablespoons raw cacao powder 
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon stevia
handful of ice
splash of vanilla

Blend all until silky and smooth. Drink right away

Friday, February 21, 2014

4-Ingredient Crockpot Chicken Chili Verde

The first time a friend got into my car on our first "becoming friends" date, I had "La Donna E Mobile" by The Three Tenors playing on my CD player. She was 18, I was 21. We were in a 1992, tan Aerostar van. Completely normal, right? I thought so, but her, not so much. Maybe I should have been slightly embarrassed but I wasn't. I was one classy and sophisticated single mom who lived with her grandparents and listened to Opera and Frank Sinatra in her car. Dang, I'm surprised Jeremy waited as long as he did to ask me out and marry me.

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I know some of my readers will be asking a lot of questions right about now. I've never disclosed that I was a single mom for a hot minute. Yes, It's true. Long story short, I fell for a boy named Jaz (why, yes, that is his real name, and no, he was not a stripper). He didn't fall for me as hard (I know, weird, right?) I had my little daughter Isabella Victoria, and promptly up and moved from Southern California, my home for more than 20 years, to Colorado where my grandparents lived. I went to college and church and that's it. I met my friend in my college Art History class and I met Jeremy at church. So, that explains a lot.

I haven't been keeping secrets or anything. The other day I mentioned something about having been a single mom, and a new friend who has been following my blog for a while was shocked. She had no idea! Apparently, I don't talk about this. Not for any other reason than I probably don't think about it much. Just like I don't think about my song choice before inviting new friends into my car.

So anyway, for reasons that have nothing to do with anything I just said above, I'd like to talk to you about this incredible and easy chicken chili verde I made the other day. Everything is placed in a crockpot and then hours later the chicken is fall apart tender and shreds perfectly. Oh recipe, how I love thee. Let me count the ways:

1) Since this recipe calls for only four ingredients it requires no prep
2) One of those ingredients is a jar of salsa verde. This means all the onions, cilantro and lime flavor is already built into the chili and doesn't need adding.
3) This served hot with melty jack cheese and avocado is heaven in a bowl. Especially if you add chips to the mix!

4-Ingredient Crockpot Chicken Chili Verde
adapted from Bread and Wine, by Shauna Niequist
serves 4-6

3-4 chicken breasts
1-16oz container of green tomatillo salsa (or red salsa for a non-verde version) preferably fresh
4 cans white beans (black beans can be used too)
4 cups chicken broth

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook for 3-4 hours or up to 8 hours. Before serving, shred the chicken with two forks. Serve with jack or cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, avocado and sour cream.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hawaiian Chicken Chili

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Brrrrr. It's cold out! And if the weather report is to be believed we have snow and temperatures in the teens and twenties for the next 7 days. I shouldn't be mad since it's still winter and all, but I'd be lying if I told you my mind doesn't drift to sandy beaches, warm sun and surf 10 times a day. For my sister and brother-in-law this is an awesome reality. In three days she will take off on a jet plane, Bahamas bound, and do all sorts of tropical like things. Eat fried fresh fish, drink a pina colada, smell that clear salt water, and lay in the sun. Pat, my brother-in-law is there for work (he's the chef at a hunting ranch here in Colorado, but the owners also have a fishing resort on their private island called Deep Water Cay. Pat is helping to revamp the menu, inspire some cocktails, and get things in order) so he gets less downtime, although it may be just what's coming to him after the shenanigan he pulled this weekend.

Over the weekend Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow indicating a longer winter, and our team, the Bronocs, got pummeled in the Superbowl. We had a party made up of six Broncos fans, two Seahawk fans, and two undecided and kids. My sister Kaylee and I are originally from southern California. She is a Raiders fan for life. I guess the Raiders and Bronocs don't get along, or so I'm told, so even though she's lived in Colorado for a while she doesn't route for us. Adding to this, she and Pat had called Seattle home for a few years and apparently she now loves the Seahawks too. This was news to me. Pat on the other hand didn't grow up in California, but rather split his time between Colorado and Louisiana, so he declared that he was going to route for the Broncos. Kaylee started posting things to social media like "house divided!" and when my mom acted surprised that Kaylee would not route for Denver, didn't she want to win?! Kaylee responded with "We'll see you at the Superbowl, Mom!"  

It was on.

Mom and Kaylee square off
The jalape?o poppers are in the oven, and the rivalries are starting. Can't wait to see Shawn Fieldings face when he realizes he's attending a Super Bowl party with Seahawks fans! photo 1780046_10202406231809454_1778374244_o.jpg

Looks like Kaylee is already talking smack...
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Come game day, Kaylee painted her face blue for the Seahawks and wore her Mariners jersey. Pathetic right? She kept shouting "It's still Seattle!"

Pat painted his face orange and blue for Broncos and wore an orange and blue flannel shirt to represent.

Then, the game happened.

After it was all over and the Seahawks were clearly the champs, Pat did this...

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People gasped. I took pictures. "Traitor!" was being yelled. People said Pat was the VERY REASON the Broncos had failed. And Pat, after seeing the pictures, laughed and said "Oh man, I could get killed for something like that." But it was all in jest and made the evening. For me anyway. Nicely played Pat. You're lucky you can make delicious fried hot wings to order and made friends early.

Kaylee gloating over her win saying things like "You mad, bro?!" (Sherman rant reference) and Pat like "What the, woman? I got my bases covered. Chill the hell out"--For the record he didn't actually say that but then again, he didn't have to. 
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Anyway, Pat will be paying his dues, working away in the Bahamas while Kaylee lives it up. Hopefully he'll get some down time too.

As for me, I'll be looking at their pictures feeling super happy for them but probably needing some island flair somewhere in my life. I mean, I'm only human. But since we're waist deep in snow and grilling shrimp on the barbie is not going to happen, this Hawaiian chicken chili will be just the thing to tide me over.

I've never even heard of a chili like this before. It's savory with hints of tropical pineapple- sweet but tangy. And I've had great success cooking raw chicken breasts in the crockpot like this. When done, the chicken is moist and shreds perfectly. Barbecue sauce is added to tie in the flavors of onion, bell pepper and beans because, this is a chili after all. I always use organic ingredients, but in this case, I wouldn't use organic barbecue sauce. I used Annies brand the second time I made this and while I absolutely love their brand, something was off in the chili. I think it's much less sweet  and a tad spicier than other brands. Use regular old barbecue, whatever is your favorite and you'll be good to go.

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Hawaiian Chicken Chili
adapted from Heather Likes Food
serves 4-6

  • 2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 C onion, diced
  • 1 C green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained w/ juice reserved
  • 1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel Tomatoes, or diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14. oz) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained
  • 1 C prepared BBQ sauce
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and brown in olive oil just until they have some color but are not cooked through.
  2. Place chicken in crock pot and top with onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, beans, BBQ sauce, and 3/4 C of the reserved pineapple juice.
  3. Stir chili powder, cumin, and ginger into the chili and set crock pot to cook on LOW for 6- 8 hours, or HIGH for 3-4.
  4. Remove chicken from chili and shred into bite-sized pieces. Return to chili and stir in pineapple chunks. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Berry-Spinach Smoothie Freezer Packs

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This is not a "recipe", but since learning that my friend Stephanie makes her smoothie packs ahead of time -complete with fresh spinach- and freezes them, I have not been able to stop doing the same. I'd never thought about freezing fresh spinach before, but doing it this way means you never worry whether the spinach is going bad or won't last the whole week. Plus, freezing fresh vegetables when packaged right doesn't lose much, if any of the nutritional value. Now, when I need a quick breakfast I just add the contents of my freezer bag to the blender with a cup of coconut milk and a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt. Really, you can add anything you want but I like to keep it simple.

I've been watching my sugar intake in an effort to lose a few remaining baby pounds so I only do mixed berries for the fruit part of the smoothie. Berries are lower in sugar than other typical smoothie fruits such as banana or oranges and also have a higher nutritional profile, so this is a fantastic option for me. I go heavy on raspberries and blackberries and lighter on the sweeter blueberries and strawberries, but I still always include all four. I also add 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of stevia to my bag of frozen berries and spinach to help sweeten everything up so I won't need to add other sugary fruits.

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I can't tell you how convenient this is. I underestimated how much time this actually saves. Plus, having them ready to go like this means I choose smoothies more often, which is always a good thing.

I reuse the ziplock freezer bags too. Since theres no real residue, its easy to dry them out and fill again for my next smoothie round.

These are the kind of ideas I love. So simple it's genius. And like I've said before, I like to incorporate more simple in my life.

Oh, and this baby? She started clapping yesterday! 6 months 2 weeks old.

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Clapping, but not sleeping on her own yet. My friend Beth and I have been talking about our babies who don't sleep -she is in newborn stage and has it worse- it's amazing how talking with someone who actually gets it and is in the trenches with you can help. Am I off topic again? Gah, well while I'm here I might as well tell you that the second I sign off here I will begin to sing "Just Give Me A Reason" by P!nk...passionately in my kitchen...Anyone else catch her Grammy performance last night? Loved it!

And, back to the topic at hand...

Berry-Spinach Smoothie Freezer Packs
makes one pack (but you'll want to make several packs at one time)

1 cup lightly packed fresh baby spinach
1 cup mixed berries (I do half raspberries, then fill in with a mix of blueberries and blackberries plus 2 strawberries per pack)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon stevia

Place ingredients into a freezer ziplock bag, squeeze as much air out as possible and freeze. When you are ready to make your smoothie add the frozen contents of the bag into a blender and add 1 cup coconut milk (sometimes you may need more to get it blended up well) and a tablespoon of plain greek yogurt. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Quinoa, Sausage and Egg Breakfast Bowl

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Do you know what's kept me from blogging for so long? Pinterest and Flickr and Facebook. Seriously. We switched from Safari to Chrome and I no longer have a "pin it" button on my computer. Never mind that it would take me all of five minutes to install another. I didn't. And then theres Flickr. I don't know how I feel about it. Thats where I upload all of my photos, but it takes forever and lately, they don't post on Pinterest as well. I'd switch to Photobucket but alas, my photos are not that great and Photobucket makes them larger than life. You'd see every blur and flaw. Then, when I use my app at the bottom of bloggers page to post to Facebook, no picture pops up like it used to. Most people follow my blog through FB so this is a problem indeed. None of these things have anything to do with the actual blogging, but it shouldn't take me so long to put a post together. Its getting a tad ridiculous, so I've been rebelling. So, there you have it. Rebellious Krysta refuses to post new content because there must be a better way. I guess I've calmed a bit because here I am posting and haven't figured it out as of yet.

I have been reading a lot in the absence of blogging though. It's Jan. 19th and I've finished two books this year. I ripped through both "Traveling Mercies" and "Bread & Wine", by Anne Lamott and Shauna Niequist, respectfully, and today I find myself a quarter through "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain. It's much more insightful and fascinating than it sounds. It's also not really about introverts, but rather how our culture came to shape and value different modes of being but are all unique and good. Its a smart read and I'm gobbling it up. Bread & Wine was awesome if you love rich, descriptive writing. It's pages are littered with sentences like:

"Our table had a whole fish roasted with wheels of lemon and swaths of herbs, carved tableside, and handmade lobster ravioli, the fresh lobster meat so sweet that it almost tasted like there was sugar in it. What moved me though--and what the restaurant is famous for beyond the lemon tree canopy--were the antipasti and sweet buffets: two huge wood tables piled heavily with platters wedged in like puzzle pieces. One table held cheeses and pastas and grilled, marinated vegetables; the other, plates of every imaginable fruit, cake, and tart. At the center of that lovely table, a bowl of fat blackberries, almost as big as plums, and a bowl of whipped cream, decadent and simple at once. I can still taste my glass of limoncello they served at the end of the meal, and I can still recall the hint of coolness in the air as we drove back down the winding roads to the marina, feeling like the world was so beautiful I almost couldn't stand it, so thankful for those trees and those lanterns and those huge round tables and that bowl of blackberries."

Positively dreamy if you ask me. Its a book about food with recipes, but its heavily laced with Christianity and faithful insights. I found it wise and delightful, an indulgent treat for my senses and imagination.

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I found the recipe for this unassuming quinoa breakfast bowl in Bread & Wine's pages. I was drawn to it because I'd never though of quinoa as a breakfast food or paired it with sweet sausages, like a chicken apple gouda. Then the thought of the sautéed onions and that perfectly fat fried egg sitting on top slayed me. Just knowing that golden yolk would drip down and mingle with the quinoa and spread its love all over that bowl made my mouth water. I ran to the kitchen. It was heaven. I'd eat this for breakfast each and every day. And then again for lunch and dinner. I did add some wilted spinach, something the recipe didn't originally include but I wanted something fresh. Some sautéed red bell peppers would have been good too.

Shauna says this isn't really a recipe, but more a glimpse into her kitchen. The recipe is written to serve 4, although when she makes it for only herself, she divides the quinoa, sausages and onion into separate bowls and covers. Then, you have breakfast waiting for you for the next 3 days--all you have to do is warm the bowl and fry an egg.

Quinoa, Sausage and Egg Breakfast Bowl
adapted from Bread & Wine, by Shauna Niequist
serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large or 2 small onions
4 links chicken apple sausage (or chicken apple gouda)
2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
4 eggs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Slice and soften and onion in olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. While that's cooking, slice the sausage and add it to the same pan. Pour the quinoa and water into a small pot. Bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat down to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and let cool for 5 minutes.

Scoop quinoa into 4 bowls and then stir a scoop of onions and sausage slices into each one.

In the onion pan, fry the eggs to over easy, about two minutes over medium heat, and then slide one egg on top of the quinoa mixture in each bowl. Add salt and freshly ground pepper.

If you'd rather scramble the eggs, beat them and then pour them into the onion pan and begin to cook them over low heat, running a wooden spoon through them as they thicken. Scoop loosely scrambled eggs into each bowl and top with a small handful of goat cheese. Add a sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper.