All “Dinner” Posts

Sweet Potato Soup with Buttered Cashews

I posted a picture of this soup in one of my more recent posts and knew I would be getting back to it before fall was over and before the holidays arrived. It was too good not to share. Soup is one of the traditions of autumn I look forward to most. This was the first time I made this particular soup and was very pleased with it and will most definitely be making it again before the season’s over. It was so simple to make and you would never have guessed it. These recipes are my favorite. Simple, yet delicious.

I found the recipe in my cookbook, Homemade (which I also highly recommend). This cookbook has over 200 from-scratch recipes. Teas, broths, cheese, mustards, chutney’s… to name a few.

Now that I’ve sold you, here’s how you make this soupy goodness…

Ingredients

1 onion, diced

2 leeks, washed and cut into rounds

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cloves garlic, chopped

dab of butter

1 glass white wine

4 cups veal or chicken broth

1 bay leaf

pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste)

1 can chickpeas (14 oz)

a few sprigs fresh oregano

Before serving

4 tbsp cashews

5 tsp butter

sea salt

for each bowl, 1 tbsp creme fraiche

Braise the onion, leeks, sweet potatoes, and garlic in the butter and add the white wine. Blend in the broth as well as the bay leaf and cayenne pepper. Simmer on low heat for 25 mins. Remove half of the vegetables from the pan and puree the other half with a blender. Replace the removed vegetables and add the chickpeas and a few leaves of fresh oregano. Serve the soup in individual large bowls each with 1 tbsp cashew nuts (briefly fried in the butter and sprinkled with a little sea salt) and a generous dollop of creme fraiche.

Would make a perfect accompaniment for thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy!

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Eleanor’s First Halloween!

So it might appear that we went all out this year with our costumes, but it’s all an illusion.Our priority this year was to figure out costumes that got a lot of bang for our buck; all while expending as little energy as possible (we don’t have much extra these days, if you know what I mean. Mammas and papas out there you know). I think we successfully pulled it off…I mean seriously, Daniel and I already had everything for our costumes (minus my beret) and when it comes down to it, Eleanor’s costume is an old pillow case with a money sign drawn on it. It’s the concept that counts, right?

Bonnie, Clyde, and the precious money bag, folks…

We spent our Halloween with a few of our sweet neighbors and their babies eating candy and pumpkin bread, drinking spiked cider, and drooling over our sweet babies. It was a great evening.

After I put Eleanor to bed at her cute bedtime of 6:30pm (yes, all of the above happened before 6:30 in the evening), I passed out candy to all the  trick-or-treaters and couldn’t help but think how fun it will be when Eleanor can go trick-or-treating like that.

Hope you all had a spooky and fun, halloween! What did you and/or your families dress up as? 

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Some scattered thoughts on being grateful

Sauvie Island,  October 2012

I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few weeks. Eleanor has three teeth coming in right now, so she hates her life. Maybe that’s why. When she hates her life, I hate mine. That’s kinda how motherhood goes I suppose. But, no, I don’t think that’s the real reason for the funk. It’s just been something that I’ve notice happening when the only thing I’ve heard all day is my own voice conversing with a baby. That and the quiet. That cruel quiet that can so easily invite my self-doubts and feelings of loneliness to the surface. I feel ashamed of those feelings when I have so much to be grateful for in my life. But there they are, nonetheless.

What do I know about loneliness anyway? Nothing.When I think of single mothers and fathers, orphaned children, those in nursing homes, and all the forms that human loneliness takes on that I know nothing about, my feelings are made obsolete. Instantly.

But you know, one of the wonderful things about being a mama is that most of the time, there is no time for indulgence in self-doubt and loneliness. There’s a little someone always reaching her chubby arms up for you because she’d always prefer to be held by you than sit and play by herself…and though there are times when my arms would like a break and I would like some space and I’m feeling drained I give myself a mental slap in the face and tell myself, “Give her a few more short months and she’ll be walking (or crawling…this little one doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to go anywhere) and her cuddles will be rare. She’ll be walking and then she’ll be driving and then she’ll be moving out…and that sweet, constant need to be with you always will be gone. Forever.” It’s far too short …this time I have with Eleanor. And that makes the lump in my throat grow so big I can hardly breathe.

The fall has reminded me of this heartbreaking reality. Because that’s the thing about fall isn’t it? It’s far too short. And as sad as that makes me, I think that’s why fall is so wonderful. Because of it’s scarceness. Our indian summers always bleed  pretty far into it and then the winter rains flood in too soon, leaving us with this gorgeous scarcity. Nothing about fall can last, not the colors nor the crispness, because in reality, fall is dying. And the irony is, it’s so beautiful.

Eleanor will be 9 whole months come November 6th. Oh how it pains my heart seeing her grow older and older by the second. But fall reminds me…it is so precious and wonderful because I know I can’t keep it. For hardly a moment is here, chubby cheeks and delicious rolly-polly thighs and then they’re gone…its finally cool enough for cute sweaters but before long you’ll have no idea how cute it is because it’ll be hidden under your raincoat and won’t that be a shame.

But we do the best we can…and today I choose to be grateful. Grateful I get to be with her every second of every day, especially the teething ones. Grateful that death can be beautiful.

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The Change

‘You know you’re alive. You take huge steps, trying to feel the planet’s roundness arc between your feet.’

-Annie Dillard, A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

The change of a season always reminds me. Autumn, especially. When I watch the sun rise and eat warm soup. When I see my breath in the air and kiss my baby’s cold cheeks – how could anyone forget, this time of year?

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Apple Cider Doughnuts

So I thought after a way-too-long hiatus from the blog, I’d start it up again right.

Apple. Cider. Doughnuts. I know. Reason #867 why fall is my favorite season: an overabundance of mouth-watering treats. It was our first time making homemade doughnuts and we didn’t have a small enough doughnut cutter so they didn’t turn out the prettiest (put that on my ever-growing kitchen supplies list). I assure you though, they were mighty tasty despite how they look. I found the recipe here, courtesy of one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. They take some time but oh how they’re worth it. Plus, the recipe makes A TON so at least you have that and not 4 measly doughnuts to show for all your work…

Really, we have apple cider doughnuts coming out our ears over here. I love these kinds of problems.

P.S. As you probably noticed the blog is under some construction and re-working. I’m not in love yet and we still have quite a few changes to make so bear with me. I’d love to hear your feedback if you care to share!

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And Let the Holidays Begin…

My husband’s birthday kicked off the holiday week. I surprised him with a dinner party featuring homemade sushi, individual, seasonal pies from Pie Spot, friends, and lots of sake. I think he felt mighty celebrated.

Below was my very own concoction. I called it “Spicy Birthday Surprise.” Tempura shrimp, spicy mayo sauce, cream cheese, and strips of jalapeno. Apparently I’m better at creating sushi rolls than naming them.

Next up on the crazy schedule was decorating for the Advent season at my church, Imago Dei Community. I partnered with the amazing Karyn Thurston, who was responsible for the dream of this killer pallet wood wall.

The whole shebang…Minus the Christmas tree.

Communion Tables…

Needless to say, it was an honor to be apart of the challenge and joy of making our sanctuary a beautiful place and experience where people would be drawn into the story of Christ this season.

Then it was on to massive amounts of baking and cooking…

Bourbon Pecan Pie. ‘Nuff said.

Yep. We were responsible for this 22 lb. beast this year.

The Spread

Baked Alaska for Daniel and his Dad’s birthday. My mother-in-law is PHENOMENAL with the sweets.

Double-decker Pumpkin cheesecake. Brother-in-law wins big time for this. We’ve been eating it all weekend.

Off to a hike in the Gorge with the husband and my Dad to work off everything you just saw.

And what better way to end the thanksgiving week than with a trip to the Christmas tree farm…

Daniel feeling awkward. Poor boy didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas. I’m working on him. Next years picture is gonna blow this one out of the water.

And this, my friends, is a picture of a pro-Christmas tree picture taker. And a 30 week pregnant belly (I can hardly believe it…10-ish weeks and we get to meet this sweet little person!).

Chunky sweater- vintage, chambray button down- h&m, Skinny jeans- Gap maternity (they're AMAZING), scarf- Pendelton via Anthropologie, Frye boots

It’s clearly been eventful around here and SO blessed. Much to be thankful for indeed. I’m beside myself.

I hope your holidays are off to a very blessed start too.

p.s. Thanks for being patient with me and my lack of posts this last week. Be prepared for an onslaught of posts in the upcoming weeks that have been brewing in my mind to make up for it.

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Life Lately According to My iPhone…

Between re-doing/organizing our apartment to make room for our little babes and decorating for Advent I think Ikea has officially become my second home.

I did it. I bought my big preggo self a nice, roomy winter coat.

Even though there has been a seriously lack of recipe posts on here (I will make up for it, promise), I have been a cooking machine. I can’t help myself this time of year. The best foods are to be had in fall. Like this meal I made a few weeks ago…

Maple apple pork chops, with collard greens and cheesy bacon grits. Oh, mamma, was it goooood.

On top of all the awesome food to be had this season, there’s the flowers. Gah, aren’t fall flowers the loveliest?

Some sparkly pumpkins I made (like a month ago—oops) to make our home a little more festive. Super easy too. Those are just gold push pins. Stick ‘em in your choice of pumpkin or squash and call it good.

Saturday morning crepes, made by the husband. What I look forward to all week.

I’ve officially entered the THIRD TRIMESTER, friends. I can hardly believe it.

But I think my pants sure can. Don’t worry I finally bit the bullet and ordered some honest-to-goodness maternity pants.

There’s been lots of DIY-ing going on around here too. Again, thanks to our little muffin and Advent/DIY fair time (p.s. my brilliant husband designed the DIY fair logo).

Vintage Tin Candles. Easy + cute = a beautiful thing.

One of the best holiday treats, in my humble opinion. The infamous Muddy Buddies.

More yummy foods to be enjoyed when it’s cold outside. Chicken Cacciatore amazingness.

Overall I’d say life as-of-late has been insane and full, but so, so blessed.

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A Few Fall/Holiday Cocktails

First up…

Whiskey Cider

Photo and recipe via Design Sponge

Ingredients

Makes 3 servings

  • 3 cups of apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 shots (a bit more than half a cup) of Irish Whiskey
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

Methodology

Heat apple juice and spices in a pot on the stove. Once hot (close to boiling), remove from heat, give the juice a stir and let the spices infuse. The spices may appear to be clumping at the start, but after cooling for 5 minutes, they will settle to the bottom of the mix. Add whiskey and reheat to serve. Sliced apples make a beautiful garnish to polish off this cocktail. (Tip: To keep sliced apples from browning, coat them with a little bit of lemon or lime juice.)

Next up,  a new recipe I found that you MUST try for me. I’m living vicariously through all of you right now anyway. It’s based on one of my favorite drinks and fruits…

The Fig Old-Fashioned

Photos and recipe via The Kitchn

Ingredients

Makes 1 cocktail

  • 1 California black mission fig
  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 oz maple syrup (Grade B, if you can find it)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Methodology

Remove the stem from the fig and cut it into quarters. Place the fig pieces in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add the maple syrup and muddle into a paste. Add the bourbon, orange juice, and balsamic vinegar (that’s right, balsamic vinegar), and fill the glass with ice. Shake and double strain into an old-fashioned glass with ice. (To double strain, just pour from the shaker through a tea strainer. Double straining will keep you from finding little bits of fig pulp and seeds in your drink. If you have a choice, pick a tea strainer with a somewhat coarser mesh; this will make the straining process go a bit faster.) And voila! Amazing fall drink ready to be enjoyed.

The infamous…

Hot Buttered Rum

Recipe via Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • Bottle dark rum
  • Boiling water

Methodology

In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Refrigerate until almost firm. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into 12 small mugs. Pour about 3 ounces of rum into each mug (filling about halfway). Top with boiling water (to fill the remaining half), stir well, and serve immediately.

And last, but not least, my personal favorite…

Mulled Wine

Photo and recipe via Andrea

Ingredients

Makes 6 servings

25 ounces red wine (zinfandel or merlot)
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole nutmeg, cracked open (or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
1 orange, peeled in wide strips
1 lemon, peeled in wide strips
1 orange, thinly sliced (for garnish)

Methodology

Combine the wine, water, sugar, cloves, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and lemon and orange strips in the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 20 minutes, then serve hot in mugs with slices of orange.

 

P.S. Another favorite fall cocktail of mine: The Maple Sour. It was in a spring cocktail post, even though it’s not at all a spring cocktail. That’s how much I love it.

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26

So I turned 26 last Saturday. Along with all the other Valentine babies. It’s true. Pay attention to how many birthday alerts you get this month on Facebook. It’s nuts.

The husband treated me real good (like he always does really). But extra special on Saturday.

Breakfast in bed…

Sunshiny flowers + a design he framed with our vows on it (swoon, ladies, swoon) + an oh-so-sweet, and adorable card. I mean, come on, the card had two little love birds on it decked out in sparkly birthday hats. Who wouldn’t love that?

Drum roll please….

Another pair of gorgeous Frye boots. I think this is becoming a tradition. We might as well call my birthday “Frye day.” I’ll take it.

The back is my favorite part.

And my other favorite kind of fries.

Oh the gluttony….

Birthday nails.

Yes please.

The evening was filled with friends and gourmet Louisiana food. No pictures sadly. Too busy eating and enjoying a lovely ending to a birthday.

I’d say 26 is off to a good start.

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Re-thinking Horizontal Stripes

Pregnancy is a strange phenomenon. I am fully aware I have a belly, but it still kind of surprises me when I look in the mirror or  try and squeeze between spaces that I used to fit though and…nope, I just don’t quite make it anymore. Or in this case, when my husband snaps a shot of me and I look at it and am still kinda shocked at how big my belly (and other parts) is getting…and I’m not even in the third trimester yet!  Apparently, this little babe takes his or her chubs very seriously.

26 weeks now and an eggplant never made more sense…It explains the constant, more defined movements I feel everyday. There’s no question: definitely a baby in there.

striped dress- {link url="http://www.hm.com/us/"}h&m{/link}, scarf- ? (had it forever), lips-{link url="http://www.jcrew.com/index.jsp"}poppy king{/link}

glasses- {link url= "http://www.warbyparker.com/?gclid=CMe4u5TqmqwCFeoZQgod3w3cOw"}warby parker{/link}

P.s. Don’t you just love fall?

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