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Korean Beef Bowl

I’m not sure what came first, the kimchi or the beef, but we’ve spent a couple of winters with this one.

When I have kimchi in my fridge, I want this beef bowl. When I make this beef, I wish for kimchi. And sometimes these two things come together at the same time, and I actually snap a picture before we eat it!

This recipe here is my meal prepping evolution wrapped up in a bowl. It goes like this, make the parts, store them in the fridge, and for every time someone asks what they can eat whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner I can say, something with the delicious beef. Done.

Here’s my thing about meal prepping, I cannot make it all on Sunday, divide into dishes, and cruise through my week like I love it. And it’s not because I haven’t tried it, or that I don’t like the way it feels. I have, and I do! I’d suggest to anyone that eats, to give meal prepping this way a try at least once in their life. You’ll learn fast what you like and what works for you, and what doesn’t. When you set yourself up for the week, whatever it looks like, you’ll reap the benefits and learn something about YOUR best ways to feed yourself. 

Why does this prepping this beef bowl work for us? We can prep the parts and make it work in every situation and for every person who lives here. 

If Cole needs a second lunch or after school snack, he might just eat a couple of tacos.

Did Ella dance through dinner time? Then she can make a bowl and put an egg on top. When all the parts are available, anything is possible. Spice it up, cool it down, make a salad, put it in a corn tortilla or create a bowl.

Here’s our Korean Beef Meal prep list:

  • Korean Shredded Beef – recipe below 
  • Rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice 
  • Spinach or kale greens washed and ready 
  • Eggs – fried or hard boiled 
  • Jalapenos or Thai Chilies 
  • Kimchi 
  • Peanuts 
  • Avocado slices
  • Cilantro 
  • Hot sauce or spicy vinegar
  • Optional: shredded cold carrots, strips of daikon radish, edamame beans shelled, sliced scallions, etc.

Meals we can make with our prepped parts:

  • Tacos with beef and kimchi
  • Breakfast tacos with eggs, beef, and kimchi
  • Bowls with all or a few parts
  • Salad with all or a few parts
  • Hash- add beef to potatoes or a root vegetable hash, kimchi, and an egg on top
  • Sandwich – shredded beef and kimchi on toasted bread or bun with spicy mayo and hot sauce

Here’s the recipe using an instant pot!

Instant Pot Korean Shredded Beef
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Makes: 8-12
Ingredients
  • 1 lime zested and squeezed
  • 3 inches of ginger peeled
  • 1 Asian pear peeled and seeded
  • 1 large handful of cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon of gochugaru (or red pepper flakes to taste)
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
  • 3 pounds of sirloin tip beef (chuck beef roast works too, see note below)
  • 1 white onion cut into large chunks
Bowl Options:
  • Rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice
  • Spinach or kale greens washed and ready
  • Eggs - fried over-easy or hard boiled
  • Jalapenos or chilies
  • Kimchi
  • Peanuts
  • Avocado slices
  • Cilantro
  • Hot sauce or spicy vinegar
  • Other options: shredded cold carrots, strips of daikon radish, edamame beans shelled, sliced scallions, etc.
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients except meat and onion.
  2. Process until pureed and all the garlic and ginger is finely minced.
  3. Cut sirloin into 2-inch chunks and place into a glass dish or plastic bag with the marinade. Coat all the pieces. Refrigerate covered or sealed for at least an hour and up to 4. (You can skip this part if you are in a hurry.)
  4. In the bowl of an instant pot, place all the meat and marinade, plus the chopped onion. Stir and close the lid.
  5. Lock the lid into place and press [Manual] and then use the [+] button to choose 40 minutes pressure cooking time.
  6. When time is up, let steam release for about 10 minutes and finish with a quick release.
  7. Remove meat pieces with a strainer spoon to a plate or large dish to rest.
  8. Take leftover juices and sauce and bring to a boil in a large saucepan on the stove. Once boiling, turn down the heat slightly but keep it simmering and moving.
  9. While sauce is cooking down, shred the meat with 2 forks. When all meat is shredded, and the sauce has started to thicken, add the shredded meat to the pan of sauce and combine.
  10. Turn heat down, remove from heat if the meat starts to burn on the bottom of the pan. If the liquid is still too thin and watery, continue to cook it down.
  11. When the sauce is thick enough to coat all meat, remove from heat. Ready to serve.
  12. If saving for later, store cooled meat in a covered dish with all the sauce in the refrigerator. Heat as needed.
I've made this recipe multiple times with chuck beef roast. It shreds easily and is flavorful but sometimes too marbled with fat. Sirloin worked the best for me in the Instant Pot.

I’ve made this recipe with 3-4 lbs of chuck beef roast using the oven and the crockpot. All three ways work and especially if you cook down the sauce and stir back into meat at the end. For roasting in the oven, keep meat whole, salt and pepper both sides, sear meat on all sides in roasting pan heated with oil, pour pureed ingredients on top of meat, bring to a boil, cover and move to the oven and roast for about 2 1/2-3 hours at 350°, flipping meat halfway through. Meat should pull apart with 2 forks when it is done. If it does not, it will need more time. I usually don’t marinade the meat before cooking but you could.

Enjoy!

~Heather

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best chicken vegetable soup

I’m living in a new I-have-broth-on-hand stage of life and our soup season is better than ever. This is not because my soup is better than your soup, okay? I’m just saying we are actually eating soup these days and without a lot of effort. And on cold days and nights, our Minnesota souls are begging for it.

best chicken vegetable soup

With the richest broth ever just staring at you in the fridge or freezer, you will end up with no excuses, and it will taste as if you went out of your way. But, you didn’t, and isn’t that what makes it the best?

After writing about broth and remembering how comforting it can be, all I wanted was some chicken noodle soup without the noodles. Without the noodles though am I just eating broth and chicken in every bite? More carrots? And this question led me to the grocery store hoping a forgotten vegetable would reveal itself to me. And it did! A random rutabaga.

best chicken vegetable soup

I don’t remember the last time intentionally buying a rutabaga, and now I seem to have 2 in my fridge at all times. Does EVERYONE need to try more rutabaga? The answer is yes. Tim, however, thinks everyone now needs a puppy, I say just rutabaga. 🙄

The rutabaga originated as a mix of cabbage and turnip, sometimes called a swede which seems fitting. While sweeter than a turnip, and larger, they are covered with a little wax to keep the moisture in the root vegetable, so it doesn’t dry out. Vegetable peel off the skin, and when cooked it transforms into a slightly sweet and savory potato-like texture (but better?!). We LOVE them.

best chicken vegetable soup

Between the homemade stock and the rutabagas, this simple soup has risen to be our fall and winter favorite so far. And without the noodles, you won’t be hungry but completely satisfied with every bite.

best chicken vegetable soup

Here you go!

Best Chicken Vegetable Soup
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By:
Makes: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 2 chicken breasts with skin on and bone in
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped into thin coins
  • 1 rutabaga peeled and chopped
  • 8 cups of homemade or store-bought chicken stock or broth
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped thyme and parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Rub chicken breast with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 35 minutes until juices run clear, and skin is lightly starting to brown.
  4. Cool to the touch and remove skin, bones, and cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Save the bones, skin, and pan juices for chicken broth!
  5. In a large stockpot heat oil and sauté onion until translucent and starting to brown.
  6. Add broth, chicken, celery, carrots, and rutabagas.
  7. Cook for 15 minutes and taste to see vegetables are soft.
  8. Add salt & pepper to taste and add chopped parsley and/or thyme before serving.
Options: Add noodles and cook until just tender, add ribbons of kale for the last 5 minutes, and or as many other vegetables as you like.

Enjoy!

~Heather

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Thanksgiving Menu Ideas for 2017

Perhaps you saw me numbering things on my Instagram story this weekend. Well, that was just me basically brainstorming what I was planning for Thanksgiving. It ended up with me asking for you to vote on my dessert dilemma. I mean is dessert ever really a dilemma on Thanksgiving? Nope, just a given.

Results for dessert below!

And since I am hosting this year, it’s going to be a classic mix of old and new. Here’s the list, the links, and if you were sitting at my table (I wish you were!), this is what we’re passing.

  1. Jaime Oliver’s Oven Roasted Turkey and Stuffing -Best part? You’ll stuff a sausage, chestnut, apricot, bacon, rosemary stuffing between the skin and breast meat to keep the meat moist, and each piece that cut has a layer of delicious stuffing, crunchy skin, and juicy meat. It’s our favorite.
  2. Ina Garten’s Classic Mashed Potatoes – Easy, delicious, and can be kept warm by placing the mixer bowl over a pan of simmering water for up to 30 minutes.
  3. Make-Ahead Gravy from Bon Appetit – I’m in love with this pro-tip. I’ll use my chicken stock from Sunday and cornstarch to keep it gluten-free. (I changed my mind on the cornstarch, see note below!👇)
  4. Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Pecan Topping from Bon Appetit 1997! I first made these ten years ago, and no one will let us stop bringing them. Oh well, twist my arm, it’s on the menu, and my mom is making them. Best part? The topping! For the whipped sweet potatoes we cut the sugar in half, and we don’t pack down the brown sugar for the topping. 😉 It’s not needed!
  5. Simple Salad – greens, roasted pears, toasted pecans, blue cheese, and dried cherries or cranberries. I’ll use this easy lemon dressing. Toss a mix of your favorite greens with dressing and fill a large platter. Top with these roasted pears (different salad), slices of blue cheese, toasted pecans, dried cherries or cranberries if you wish. I’ll drizzle more dressing to top it all. Best part? I’ll make dressing and pears one day ahead.
  6. Smitten Kitchen’s Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions Ella’s request and find. She’s making it gluten-free by using my crispy shallots on top instead of the floured onion ring type pieces in the original recipe, and we’ll sub cornstarch for thickener. (I changed my mind on the cornstarch, see note below! 👇)
  7. Bread – the jury is for sure out on this! I’ll see how my Tuesday experiment goes with gluten-free artisan bread.
  8. Cranberry Chutney – From a last-minute text query to my family, I see that they DO like cranberries, so since I asked (don’t do this after today) I added this highly rated chutney to my list. It turns out all I needed to put on my list was cranberries. Done.
  9. Dessert: The winners from my Instagram story poll were the Pumpkin Custard Pie from Martha Stewart and Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart. The pumpkin will be new to us, and the apple tart is a family favorite we haven’t had in a few years. I’ll be making both twice, one gluten-free and one regular.
  10. Beverages – Tim, handing this one off to you, ok? A fall released Beaujolais Nouveau or cranberry punch with options for a little spirit? You decide.

What am I missing, friends? Nothing I hope, I feel stuffed and satisfied already. Tag your delicious food pics with #shemadeit or #hemadeit on Instagram, so I can see what you are making for 2017. I’ll be looking for you. 😉

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Heather

*Last Minute Notes: If ever I need to thicken something for gluten-free, I’ve usually whisked a little cornstarch and water and added at the end. I don’t worry too much about making a gluten-free roux as I’m not trying to replicate something, but more maintain a great flavor of drippings or sauce even if it’s runnier. However, I see that both my gravy and green beans recipes call for a technical roux. I did some last minute research (oh Heather), and it seems that sweet rice flour or King Arthur’s Multi-Purpose Flour rises to the top for gluten-free flours that thicken into a roux when cooked with fat to thicken. I love learning from another’s experiments. I’m going to grab both at my last minute grocery store run today and see what comes! May the force be with anyone going back into a grocery store today. 🙏

 

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how to make chicken broth a habit

The capacity and space to make chicken broth from scratch part of my life rhythm took YEARS. I just recently noticed that every time I need some broth or stock, I actually have some. How did this happen? 

I accidentally made my first bone broth before I had children, and as we know, that is a lot of years ago now that I’m counting. But something as simple as boiling meat and vegetables felt unattainable at specific points in my life. Sometimes it was the expense up front (while one can argue that it’s cheaper to make your own) and other times it just became the convenience of needing broth now, and the time it would take to make. 

I was once following a recipe for homemade chicken noodle soup, and before I realized what was happening with the first of the two chickens required, it asked me to throw away all the meat and bones I had just simmered for hours. What?! The waste! I read the recipe over again to be sure, but since I had scribbled down the recipe from a Barnes & Noble visit in my journal (before smartphones, people), my notes or the author had not adequately explained why. For example, this is going to draw out all the delicious and nutritious bits from your chicken, bones, and vegetables and create the richest broth you have ever tasted in your life, that would have helped my guilt just a bit. 

Instead, I scooped up some simmered chicken, thinking I could have some for lunch. Ha, no. It was tasteless, dry meat. So I reluctantly threw the first round of solids and simmered in the new chicken and fresh veggies? Ethereal. For the first time, I realized that simple soup could be both earthy and high-class. And healing. And worthy of gifting to your favorite people and guests.

I’m always curious about how or why certain habits stick. For me, it is all about timing. When you are in survival mode, making things like chicken broth ahead of time is nearly impossible and quite possibly NOT your next best thing.

Building a rhythm takes time and space to plan, but if you have a nudge to do it or a friend to make it with, here are my monthly and weekly steps to make chicken broth a habit:

Monthly

Once a month, I make a version of Ina Garten’s Chicken Stock. I’ve never bought or fit three chickens into a stockpot as the recipe suggests. Up until this past year, I was always making stock in my 8-quart All-Clad stockpot. I could fit one chicken and would add water as it cooked down. This spring I decided to buy a cheaper but larger stock pot to see how much I would use it before I invested and added to my All-Clad collection. I purchased this Rachael Ray Enamel on Steel 12-Quart Covered Stockpot, Red Gradient, and my friend Nicolle bought this Cuisinart one. For now, I’m getting all my money’s worth out of this $33 find, and I love the size. Nicolle had to return hers for leaking on the rim, ok? 

Weekly

1. Every week I roast at least 2 large bone-in skin-on chicken breasts. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly rub two skin-on bone-in chicken breasts with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 minutes. If the breasts are unusually large, I give it five more minutes for juices to run clear, or you can check the temperature.

Cool, debone, and save meat for snacks, salads, or meal prep. Toss the bones, skin, and meat juices in a freezer jar or bag. This chicken is so juicy!

2. Secondly, anytime I roast a whole chicken, I save the bones and toss it in with the freezer collection. I even leave meat on bones knowing it’s going to go to good use later. This excites me so much–no waste, no worry!

3. Once a week when I’m at home doing something in the kitchen, preferably morning, I’ll pull out my stock pot.

  • Add the frozen or fresh chicken pieces, an unpeeled onion and garlic head halved, veggies from the fridge (even the wilted ones), plus all the thyme, dill, and parsley I have on hand to the pot covered with water. I also like to add 2 teaspoons of salt (more as needed) and a few pinches of whole black peppercorn berries if you have them, or just pepper.
  • Cover with water and boil for hours, at least 4 but more is great. Skim off the foam as it simmers and add water if it cooks down too far and you are letting it go for longer. Do not stress; it’s not fussy.
  • Cool, remove and toss all solids, strain through a fine-mesh strainer into clean jars. When you freeze your stock in a glass container, leave about 1 inch of space. The liquid will expand when it becomes a solid and especially in a jar with shoulders, it can break the glass.
  • Notes on broth vs. stock vs. bone broth – so many things to say but not all in this post.
    • Dr. Brad says to toss empty eggs shells into your broth because the inner and outer shell and lining of the eggshell have collagen and nutrients to support joints and bone health.
    • Stock is usually more bone based and broth more meat based.
    • For me, I do all of the above and call them broth or stock, as well as use them interchangeably depending on what I have in the house. No fuss about what is what for me.

Holidays

Today is an Ina day. Since I’m entertaining for Thanksgiving this year, I’m going for the very best of stock, and I’m throwing in 2 whole chickens in addition to some meaty bones I have saved for the most flavor and will let it simmer for 4-8 hours. I’ll use it to make gravy ahead of time (pro-tip here!), moisten potatoes and stuffing, and baste the turkey or save the rest for soup next week. 

Speaking of Thanksgiving, when it comes to turkey I’m sticking with our favorite Jaime Oliver turkey and a few other family favorites, plus a few new. Check my Instagram this weekend for my final menu list and links for 2017. 

~Heather

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cooking class for November!

Let’s make it together!

kimchi & pickles class | shemadeitshemight.com

Kimchi & Pickles
make and take
November 12, 1-3 pm

Let’s Make It – Kimchi & Pickles is making a return. This class is for kimchi lovers and the kimchi curious. Kimchi & Pickles is a hands-on class where we’ll discuss gut health and the body + brain connections with what we eat, as well as taste the difference with fermented veggies and quick pickles. We’ll spend most of our the time making a jar of quick pickles to eat now and a jar of kimchi for later.

Cost is $50 which includes all supplies and ingredients.

kimchi & pickles class | shemadeitshemight.com

 

Limited space is available! Send me an email to register!

~Heather

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roasted pumpkin soup with dukkah

While my friend Kristin was traveling a few years ago, we had a couple of unspoken agreements that seemed to guide our cross-continental email and text exchanges. One, no editing needed, just type and connect. (Hello personal journal time for the both of us!) Two, tell me always what you are eating and with whom. There is so much to learn from living in a new land or knowing someone who does. (That’s me!) On numerous occasions, I remember Kristin telling me about the baked eggs with dukkah. At the time I didn’t have context for either. So when I started brainstorming all things “Kristin” for her baby shower, the research and testing began.

Dukkah is an Egyptian nut and spice blend but well known in Australia as well and often served sprinkled on baked eggs. I couldn’t track down a worthy pre-made dukkah blend anywhere, and finding a specific recipe wasn’t any easier. I did see Shelia Prakash’s questions to store owners in Egypt (where she couldn’t secure dukkah as well), and she learned that Egyptians tend to make their own house blends. After experimenting with it a few times, I like the idea of making it fresh, using what you have for nuts and tweaking the flavors and spice in the direction you want it to go. Plus the scents of roasting spices and nuts wafting through your house? You want this.

I whipped up another batch this past week and mailed some samples off with my belated spoons.🤦🏻‍♀️It’s a perfect fall addition to roasted squash or pumpkin soup.

You could also top olive oil with dukkah as a dish for dipping bread or add it to your next cheese board with olives, soft cheeses, meats, and toasts.

dukkah
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Makes: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup hazelnuts - blanched or with skins on
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios - I can only find salted and roasted
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of cayenne - or more as you wish
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • pepper - about 15 cracks
  • ½ teaspoon salt (more if needed)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, lay pine nuts, hazelnuts, cumin, and coriander. Toast for 8-10 minutes until pine nuts are lightly brown, stirring nuts halfway through. At the halfway point, add the paprika as well and continue toasting.
  3. Allow nuts and spices to cool, then dump parchment of goods into a food processor along with the pistachios and add a pinch of cayenne, along with the salt and pepper.
  4. Blend until all nuts are roughly chopped, a few seconds only. I like mine with various size chunks and not just down to powder if possible.

This soup topped with dukkah and gluten-free grilled cheese with gruyere and apples was last night’s dinner hit. I promise you want this too.
roasted pumpkin soup with dukkah
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Makes: Serves 8
Ingredients
  • 2 sugar pumpkins roasted, about 4 cups of puree (you can use canned or 4 cups of squash puree)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 apples peeled, cored, and chopped - I like sweet honey crisp for this recipe
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1 cup coconut milk
Instructions
To make pumpkin puree:
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. You’ll need a pan for roasting, cheesecloth, strainer, and a bowl.
  3. Pull stem off of your sugar pumpkin and slice in half from the top. With a metal spoon, scrape out the seeds and insides.
  4. Place pumpkin halves cut side down on a parchment lined sheet pan. Roast your pumpkin for 50-60 minutes until roasted all the way through. You can test with a fork poke if you are unsure.
  5. Let pumpkin cool to the touch.
  6. Pull off the skins and puree roasted pumpkin in a food processor until completely smooth. If you have time, strain the puree as follows, if not go ahead and make soup without the straining step, you might not need as much broth, but you decide how thick you want your soup.
  7. To Strain: Scrape the puree into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Place the colander in a larger bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours or overnight. Bring up the corner of the cheesecloth and twist mound of pumpkin to remove all the excess water that you can. Store what is left in a glass jar with a tight lid until ready to use.
To make soup:
  1. Heat a large stockpot with coconut oil and add chopped onions and apples, cook for about 5 minutes until onions and apples are soft and lightly browning.
  2. Next, add garam masala and cinnamon and stir for about 30 seconds to mix and release the fragrances.
  3. Add pumpkin puree and 3 cups of broth, stir over medium heat until combined and simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors. Add another cup of broth and the salt, stir to combine.
  4. Using an immersion blender puree all veggies and fruit together until smooth. If using a blender let the soup cool slightly before pureeing and then return to the pot until heated.
  5. Lastly, stir in 1 cup of coconut milk.
  6. Taste the soup and adjust seasonings as you wish. If you need a bit more sweetness, add a tablespoon of maple syrup, honey, or a bit more cinnamon. If you need more spice add a pinch of cayenne or a little more salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Top with dukkah nut blend in the recipe above!
  8. Makes 8 servings.

 

Both of these recipes are ready for you to make your own. Keep your spices and your salt & pepper handy, tasting as you go and adjusting the seasonings as you wish.

By the way, it’s not lost on me that most things I post these days on @heatherbursch and the blog have a thread of melancholy and mood. Ha! I assure you I’m in good fall spirits, and it’s starting right here with this soup and a sweater.

Enjoy!

~Heather

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my reflections on an adventure themed baby shower

While I’m watching my little guy turn 18, one of my best friends is celebrating her little guy’s 1st year this week. I know 18 years is a lot of years to someone counting months and yet the view from here is as I said last week, all cliche. It goes so fast!

One of the sweetest things this last year has been meeting a new little friend. Just a year ago we didn’t know who he’d be, or the color of his stunning hair, or the sound of his singing that can take over all conversation in a car. We knew something about him though; we knew his momma.

adventure themed baby shower and paint dipped stones and spoons

And celebrating her feels like yesterday.

adventure themed baby shower

Adventure was the theme because well, the little person was joining these two amazing humans and their anthology. 

adventure themed baby shower

A new adventure is coming up, and I’m sure it will be a good one. – Sig Olson

Friends near and far contributed, whether it was hand-lettered placards from a friend who couldn’t come,

adventure themed baby shower

bottles of champagne for brunch toasting,

adventure themed baby shower

stones and driftwood from the north, photos of Kristin’s childhood, poems and readings sent from Portland, and the gifts and gentle words from friends and sisters.

adventure themed baby shower and paint dipped stones

We dipped rocks used to make a cairn, a stack of stones to serve as a path marker, to say to Kristin, we see you here on this path and we are marking this moment before-you-become-a-parent, that all the things before matter too, and now this.

adventure themed baby shower and paint dipped stones

She said that day; I’m not sure I’m ready. And I’ve heard it said again as her little guy jumped ahead of his due date by a couple of weeks, I could have used those two weeks! She laughs while sharing her reality, but sometimes it makes her eyes glisten just a bit too.

You don’t have to be a mother to know this universal truth, right? If only we had a little more time to prepare. A few more hours to read up on what might come. More time to organize, to maybe wrap our heads around this next happening, so there are no significant surprises. A little more set up, so we don’t mess up.

But here is one thing ALL of us said as we looked her in the face last October.

adventure themed baby shower

You got this. You will know what’s next. Trust yourself.

We also said it’s like one big game of “Tag, You’re It!” with your partner that never ends. And we nodded at the fear of sleepless nights and loss of self that can and most likely will happen, temporarily. Yes to all those things.

But it’s also good and deepening, and these little humans will change the world. Why travel down this parenting road or any potentially hard road? A question only individuals can answer for themselves. But when I looked over at my 14-year-old daughter and thought about my little now big guy, and my youngest one out with her dad that day, it’s easy in that reflective moment to say: because they will change the world, my world, their world. And I see everything different and fight different fights, and I’ve laid down ones that aren’t mine. And with the help of smart friends and therapists with ears to it all, I’ve deciphered my questions and not the ones of the woman next to me, but my question for whatever season I am in.

And if I can be so bold to notice, that is what my friend Kristin has done, she’s finding her questions, and she’s choosing her path. I feel so honored to have walked with her for years now. I’m watching and learning, and the sweetest gift has been remembering my story too along the way.

Kristin Johnson, The Anthology of Us

Adventure Themed Baby Shower Brunch

Theme: Adventure – inspired from a page out of Kristin and Cole’s story

Decor: nature, herbs, leaves, driftwood, stones, wood, gold, light, and shades of teal and fall

Gifts: group gift for a travel/diaper bag and items to fill it for baby on the go – S’s been on more airplains than any baby I know! 

Activity: Dipping stones and spoons

Brunch Menu: coming soon with recipes from Kristin too!

adventure themed baby shower

And in keeping with the theme of needing more time, and apparently, in honor of Sylvan’s 1st birthday, I finished the dipped spoons we made after painting rocks that day and actually mailed them this week. Watch the mail, ladies! 😉

adventure themed baby shower and paint dipped stones and spoons

For more on how to dip spoons, take a peek at the quick DIY on Instagram. (It does not take one year to make!) We dipped baby spoons, stones, and wood things to go along with our theme.

adventure themed baby shower and paint dipped stones and spoons

But who’s stopping you from glass or wood bowls or even chairs and tables like these from the talented Kristy Taylor? Which means you can stick to spoons and follow her @kristy.taylor.design to find what she’s dipped for you.

@kristy.taylor.design

And last but not least, a poem from my Evelyn to her little friend Sylvan, that pretty much says all of our feels from knowing him this past year.

Evelyn and Sylvan

The cuteness is too cute.

I can’t get enough.

I love you, Sylvan.

You make me very happy when you sing to me.

Your ocean blue eyes.

You are to love for.

— Evelyn, age 6

Happy Birthday, Sylvan! Happy 1st year, Kristin and Cole. You are rocking this parenting gig.

I love parties! You too? For more menu ideas and activities (to avoid all shower games!) take a look at these past baby shower celebrations. Recipes from Kristin’s Baby Shower fall menu are coming soon!

~Heather

Picture Credit: Thanks Rebecca for #1, Natalie for #2, #3, #5, #6, and #10, and Kristy for #13.

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Cole’s Crazy Chocolate Cake

Well, there it went, the first month of the last school year that my son will officially live in the house before he launches somewhere. Most of the time I don’t see myself as mature enough to have an adult child, but I do. Huh, what has happened?! Said every parent on the planet at this point. Inside I’m screaming stop and simultaneously trying to let things be what they need to be. Most cliches ring true; it did go as fast as everyone said it would, and it’s a giant bag of mixed feelings most of the time.  

As soon as Cole could stand and hang onto a chair, he would climb up next to the counter, and we would bake and chat. My trick to cooking together was to stay one step ahead, and all would be well. Not mess-free, but all would be well. He taught me how incredibly fun (and successful) cooking with kids could be. I would hand him the teaspoons and ask him a question, or give him a direction while I measured the next ingredient in front of me. (I’d almost say this was my parenting strategy at least 50% of the time . . . trying to stay a step ahead.)

While getting in front of Cole is nearly impossible these days, every once in awhile a little mom energy has me wondering about things in his future that he hasn’t thought of yet. Like, how will this kid eat when it’s entirely up to him? Eek. Instead of freaking out about all the ways I have not prepared him for life’s realities and shoving more words into his already very full head, I started thinking about what we could do together before he leaves and the ways we all learn to eat well. The question just led to the obvious; we have to practice. 

Many say they didn’t learn how to cook growing up and eat what’s convenient because they don’t know where to start. And I get it. Eating well and intuitively takes both time and resources, and perhaps an interest to make it seem worth it. Even though Cole’s been in the kitchen from a young age and loves a wide range of foods, something did happen along the way with his involvement in sports, activities, work, and school, which more than ever don’t allow for as much time to plan what he’s eating and when.

So, I asked him if there was anything he wanted to learn in the kitchen and if he’d want to hang out with me and practice. He said yes. ☺️ And this is Cooking Lesson #1.

Cole’s request? Chocolate Crazy Cake.  

This summer, Cole was throwing a last-minute birthday gathering for a friend and wanted to make that one chocolate cake, he said. “The one in an actual cake pan and has that caramelly coconut frosting on it?” I knew which cake he meant as it was one of the first cakes I made as a child. (How did this all come full circle in lesson one? 😭) I had to dig out my mom’s old Covenant Church Kitchen Treasures cookbook published in 1986 for this recipe. (All the feels.)

Crazy Chocolate Cake
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Makes: 9x13 inch cake
Ingredients
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¾ cup oil, we used coconut oil (liquid not solid)
  • 2 cups water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt in a 9x13 inch baking pan and stir with a fork until mixed well.
  3. Make 3 wells in your flour mixture and pour in vinegar, vanilla, coconut oil, and then water to cover all.
  4. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a fork, crushing the lumps, and stirring until smooth. Make sure to get corners and sides.
  5. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Frost with Ina's German Chocolate Frosting or Cole's Chocolate Ganache.

 

While Cole loves Ina’s German Chocolate Frosting, I also know not every kid will eat a mouth full of pecans and coconut (yet!), so we opted for this easy ganache as a 2nd choice.

Cole's Coconut Ganache
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Makes: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 8 ounces good chocolate finely chopped, we like bittersweet.
  • (If you want a thinner glaze, double the milk. If you want a thicker filling, add more chocolate.)
Instructions
  1. Bring coconut cream to a boil and remove from heat, pour over chocolate in a bowl and let it sit for a couple of minutes to melt the chocolate.
  2. Whisk chocolate and cream until all melted and glossy.

 

This cake from the 80s happens to be vegan, and if you make the ganache with coconut milk like Cole, it becomes the most inclusive cake for any crowd in 2017. While you might not make this in a dorm room, it requires less than five pieces of equipment – a pan, measuring utensils, and a fork. 

And just so Cole can say he’s been there and done that, we made his favorite coconut frosting, so he has single-handedly whipped raw eggs into a caramel sauce at least once before he flies this coop. 🙌

Here’s what Cole claims he learned and my thoughts to follow:

  1. Always look at the expiration date for ingredients. (Ha, yes. Be resourceful! Use up the oldest first.)
  2. To turn coconut oil to liquid put jar in a small amount of hot water, so it melts. (Strategies for keeping your feet and coconut oil warm in MN 9 months a year!)
  3. Don’t pack flour. (Or you’ll likely eat dry, chewy, and crumbly cake.)
  4. Be careful and precise. (So everything you bake isn’t an experiment!)
  5. Enjoy the process. (Awww, brownie points. Cooking together does bring up all the family dynamics.)
  6. How-to Ganache! (Easiest sauce ever for future ice cream, strawberries, and brownies!)

This past month we celebrated 18 years with Cole. As our family sat around him that birthday night, making him look at us in the face, the reality of this last year together came into focus for us all. I told him he’d led me back to myself time and time again, speaking profound truths and inevitably pointing me to what was next for me (and him) as I lived out being his mom. When he was 4 and asked me why in the world I had signed him up for preschool to asking jaw-dropping questions about relationships and the world, his life has changed me forever. I’m beyond grateful and all the memories just flood. Ugh. But I also told him this shift we are in is ok, that it was time for me to let him go in new (big) ways, a (little) bit at a time. 

So that is what we’ll do, one month at a time, count it and cook it and see where it all leads before he goes. 

Next up? We have a few thoughts that start with breakfast and end with midnight snacks. 

~Heather (& Cole)

PS This month’s He Made It playlist addition from Cole:  Nessun Dorma! By Pavarotti

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roasted poblano chile sauce

roasted poblano chile chicken tacos

There are endless ways to make and use this recipe. It’s a roasted poblano chile sauce, and I’m using it in tacos because why not, and always.

Roasted Poblano Chile tacos

It’s similar to pesto with the oil and the method or like a chimichurri without the vinegar/citrus. You could call it an herby paste with less oil to flavor a curry or soup. Whatever you name it and however you use it, it’s a method you want to have in your back pocket, plus a really great reason to have a food processor.

I’ve made so many versions of this over the last year, inspired from all the sauces and salsas I’ve made and read about from Rick Bayless. I’m using poblanos for a smoky low spice bite and lots of bright cilantro. There’s a little jalapeno in there too, but our Ev ate it up as written below. She’s kind of my spice checker. If she’s hungry and says, “It’s a li-ttle spicy” but keeps eating? Then it’s just about right for most people.

Here are a couple ways to use it:

  • Grill chicken and onions, or veggies, chop it all up and toss with spoonfuls of sauce covering all the pieces.
  • Stir fry chicken and white onions in a heated oil of your choice. When cooked through stir in spoonfuls of sauce, until chicken is covered and starts to stick to the pan. Done!

Chicken and poblano chile sauce

  • For Tacos, add fresh cilantro and Cojita or Queso Fresco cheese to top it off.
  • Serve sauce on the side as a dipping sauce or condiment to raw or roasted veggies or cooked meats
roasted poblano chile and cilantro sauce
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Ingredients
  • 3 poblanos
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 head of garlic roasted, see options for roasting here!
  • 2 bunches of cilantro, washed and spun dry, leaves picked, thick stems removed
  • ½ cup avocado or olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Roast poblanos and jalapeno on the top rack about 3-4 inches away from broiler and turn every minute or two until black spots on all sides. Depending on your broiler this can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.
  3. Toss all peppers into a brown paper bag and roll down the top shut to create a steamy environment while they cool, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Once peppers are cool enough to touch, run them under cold water peeling the skin off the pepper and removing all seeds and stems. I like to use plastic gloves if I have them when working with a jalapeno.
  5. Chop or tear peeled peppers into large chunks and add to food processor along with all peeled and cooked garlic cloves.
  6. Add prepped and fairly dry cilantro and process until all chopped and combined well.
  7. When finely chopped pour oil through the tube while the machine is running slow to mix in all oil.
  8. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and process again for about 10-20 seconds until all combined.
  9. If you are not using right away, scrape into a jar or container with a small opening, scraping all leftover oil from the processor on top.
  10. If needed, add a drizzle of new oil to the top to lightly cover sauce which will keep cilantro a fresh shade of green.
  11. Refrigerate extra sauce for up to a week.

.

While I’m sure some of you can’t imagine an internet less life, 😂 I started cooking in grade school before technology was at my fingertips, and recipes were passed on handwritten cards or jotted down on random pieces of stationary stuffed into recipe card boxes. (Yes, I just used the word stationary. Bwahaha.)

fork recipe holder for skillet cornbread

My nightly scroll through foodland on Instagram is pure visual inspiration and I love it of course. If it grabs me, say peanut butter and chocolate anything, I’m probably going to have to make something with peanut butter and chocolate by the end of the week even if I give it all away. (Like these shockingly great gluten free PB & Choc cookies from Cookie+Kate, recipe here. I could actually eat them (gf) and they might just be Ina’s cookie twin, maybe better?! Gasp!)

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

even though I overcooked that back row, still yummy!

While I do remember life before cell phones and the internet, I feel lucky (not just old!) to have been a part of both worlds. I can appreciate that my creative beginnings were before there was full access to whatever I was curious about in the moment. Quite possibly the limitations allowed me to develop skills by following recipes we already had and then use my own imagination to change it up. Who knows. But I’m a both/and girl and I really, really love that there are ways to plan and create something new and possibly from a different part of the world in one afternoon thanks to the access we have to ideas and ingredients like poblanos.

While Instagram and online searches are fabulous for pulling up recipes fast (minus the food that gets on your device while cooking!), I still love using handwritten recipes and secretly wish I had time to rewrite all my favorites. (HEATHER, you do not have time for this so don’t put it on your list!)

~Heather

For a quick reminder and how-to on roasting garlic, check out my Instagram and look for this picture!

how to roast garlic

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Spring has moved along but beets and beet greens at our house have not.

It started in February:

continued through June,

and since I planted these root vegetables out back, our story of beets shall continue. Beets are said to be magical for your body in spring, but learning to like this vegetable and incorporating it into your eating can happen all year. Dr. Brad reminded me (and apparently all I know who see him!) to eat beets this spring. He’s taught me over the years that our bodies are made to cleanse and if we give them the right nutrients, they do their jobs well. Recently I heard Dr. Brad speak and he mentioned that the rawer the beet the more cleansing it is. Therefore he suggested eating cooked root vegetables like beets in the spring so that one builds the liver up and allows the liver to do the detoxing, raw being too cleansing and overwhelming to strengthen and do the building up that is necessary, at least in spring.

This arugula salad has been on my spring bring-it list to everyone in some version, so thanks friends for eating my experiments as always. (No seriously, thank you.🙌 🙏😳) Some versions had watermelon instead of beets since it’s what I had on hand, and I couldn’t get watermelon out of my head or refrigerator for all of June. But watermelon was too heavy for arugula and watered down the dressing and greens. I’ve since played with the dressing (made it better I think), and the favorite combo thus far has been: roasted beets and blueberries, feta or goat cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds, scallions, arugula, and grapefruit/orange dressing.

Oh gosh, and to give all the credit where credit is due, Tim and Ella sent me a picture while eating at the delicious Work & Class in Denver. While I have no idea what it tasted like there, this is my version of that picture and volume 2 of my beet arugula salad, including a few of my favorite things.

arugula with roasted red beets, blueberries, and citrus dressing
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Makes: 4
Ingredients
For the dressing:
  • ½ grapefruit squeezed
  • ½ orange squeezed
  • ½ cup olive oil or avocado oil (mild tasting oil here!)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
For the salad:
  • 1 clamshell of arugula
  • 1 cup blueberries washed and air dried before serving
  • 1 large roasted beet cooled and cut into small chunks or strips
  • 2 ounces of feta or goat cheese
  • ½ cup sliced scallions
  • ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl toss arugula with a couple spoon fulls of shaken dressing until all leaves are just coated but not heavy with dressing.
  2. Divide greens among individual serving plates.
  3. Sprinkle salad greens with a pinch of salt & pepper.
  4. Layer green onions, blueberries, roasted beets, goat cheese, and end with toasted pumpkin seeds on top.
  5. Drizzle teaspoon of shaken dressing on top of ingredients if you wish and save the rest for another salad.
Options: goat or feta cheese taste equally good, add roasted chicken for a more substantial salad rather than a side.
Makes 4 servings!

Often times I hear people talk about wanting to change the way they eat and while there are a bunch of books that will tell you exactly what to eat and what healthy eating looks like, I’ve only found my way one vegetable, suggestion, body care tip, or change at a time. Sometimes that has meant learning to like something I didn’t previously think I liked but because I understand it has some benefits, I keep trying it. Over time I find myself wanting certain foods that would never have been on a crave list of mine in times past. Beets are one of those things.

While my next posts probably won’t include you know what, give this salad a try and let me know what you think. If you want the easiest way to roast a beet, check out Evie’s tips or tell me how you prefer to cook or eat them.

Enjoy!

~Heather

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