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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
Makes: 9x13 inch cake
  • 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
  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
Makes: 1 cup
  • 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.)
  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


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
  • 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
  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!)


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

how to roast garlic


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
Makes: 4
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
  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.




garden green bean and radish salad

Our summer officially started today.

NO ONE got up this morning at 5:30 AM, at least no one that didn’t want to get up. NO ONE had to shower or eat before 8. NO ONE, meaning one child in particular whom we love a lot, even though he might not be sure after reading this. We have all been cringing from 5:45-7 AM every school morning for 9 months. It’s time to be done with that for just a little while! Summer means NO ONE is sleepily running into doors on accident, or loudly shutting the medicine cabinet, or the refrigerator, or the front door and coming back for forgotten items and repeating that last one too many times. 😭 And possibly more important than anything, NO ONE will have to hear his parents yell “SHUSH!” like their lives depended on it and crimes were committed. 

This morning was heaven in the household, coffee and quiet without shushing, no early risers from noise, and everyone who wanted to sleep still sleeping.

Speaking of heaven, everything in Minnesota seems lovely right now, am I right? Green things, breezy things, sunny things, patio things, no mosquitos  . . . I know, I’ve had 1 morning and everything is love. 

When I made this salad a few weeks ago, I decided to plan my garden around it. Or did I plan my garden favorites and then make this salad? Who cares. I love green beans and radishes and thought they needed to go together. It’s pretty much a Nicoise salad without the potatoes, although you could certainly make it a potato salad if you like.

One of my essentials on a weekly basis is to make some kind of salad dressing or sauce that can hopefully go with multiple options. The recipe below includes the salad dressing with extra enough to keep in a jar for the week or two. We like it here for lunch with chicken and/or eggs, or added to greens for a quick side to dinner!

This salad celebrates my long awaited summer, with NO ONE waking up for the next 3 months unless they want to.

garden green bean and radish salad
Makes: 3-4
  • 12 ounces of green beans, ends trimmed and cut 1-inch lengths, about 2 cups
  • 1 can of chunk white albacore tuna in water drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • ½ cup radishes thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sliced scallions
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 2-4 hard boiled eggs
  • 3-4 cups fresh spinach or greens, optional
Lemon dressing ingredients
  • 1 lemon squeezed and strained
  • ½ cup light olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 garlic clove crushed, optional
Creamy lemon dressing ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise - only added at the end of recipe!
Lemon dressing base:
  1. Make 2 salad dressings. For the lemon dressing, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, crushed garlic if you are using, and salt & pepper.
  2. Save this dressing in a jar for at least a week, longer if you don't add the garlic!
Creamy lemon dressing:
  1. Whisk together 2 Tablespoons of lemon dressing and 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.
  2. Set aside for the end.
  1. In a large bowl, combine cold and blanched green beans, tomatoes, scallions, radishes, capers, olives and drained tuna broken up into pieces.
  2. Pour creamy lemon dressing over the top and gently stir together.
  3. Add hard boiled egg slices on top (don't mix in), sprinkle eggs and salad lightly with salt and pepper and a drizzle of lemon dressing if you wish, and serve.
  4. If you want to make a larger salad, toss spinach greens with extra lemon dressing as the base and top with green bean salad on top.
Makes 3-4 servings!

I might have just screamed SUMMER with my typing fingers but NO ONE heard it. 🙏




“Give me all the green things!” That is literally what my mind is screaming come January and February.

arugula and beet salad

Along with “Dear God, how can it be so cold?”, and the inevitable “Why do we live here?” You can’t fully understand how obvious and annoying it is to still be asking these Q’s unless you’ve lived here your whole life, so shush on my bad attitude. (Which is getting slapped in the face by the past week’s 60°?!)

On a more sensible note, beets. There really is no bad time to roast one. It’s one of those neglected vegetables that I easily pass by if not reminded that roasting beets is not hard.

And a beet salad? So, so good. Especially now.

It’s so easy and special that Evie wanted to show you herself. Watch and learn my adult friends. And if you want to skip ahead to the recipe, all the details are there too. 😉

And once they are cool, here are Ev’s learned tricks to removing the beet skin and making a delicious salad. (She’s honest too so listen for the whispers!)

Reasons you can too?

Folks, she’s 5. Beets are sometimes the color of sunshine or valentines. Arugula is the color of grass. The almonds? Dear, don’t you forget the toasted almonds or the soft goat cheese! AND if you are extra hungry, which is a good thing to notice, put an egg on it! Yum.

Roasted Beet Arugula salad with toasted almonds

Who knows what 2017 will bring but if you are curious, follow me here or here, and I’ll let you know whenever something worth repeating gets made and shared!

Here are the details!

roasted beet salad with arugula, goat cheese, and toasted almonds
Makes: 4
  • 1 clamshell of arugula
  • 1 bunch of beets washed and stems cut off, leave whole and unpeeled
  • ½ - 1 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 - 4-ounce log of fresh goat cheese (look for goat cheese that is soft!)
Lemon Dressing Ingredients
  • 1 lemon squeezed and strained for seeds and pulp
  • ½ cup light olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper or more to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Wrap washed beets in foil tightly, set on a pan and let them roast for about 50 minutes to an hour.
  3. Let them cool in the foil for at least 30 minutes or so.
  4. When cool enough to handle, unwrap the tinfoil partially and use the tinfoil to rub off the beet skin. Red beets will leave a temporary stain so wear plastic gloves or use tinfoil carefully.
  5. When all the skin is off, cut the beets in slices or chunks as you wish.
  6. For dressing, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper. Dip a piece of arugula into your dressing to taste and add more seasoning as desired.
  7. For almonds: Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a pan and add almonds, stirring gently until almonds are evenly browned.
  8. I like to add dressing a few spoons at a time to a whole bowl of greens to make sure all the greens are coated, save extra dressing to pass if you'd like.
  9. Assemble salads with dressed greens, almonds, goat cheese, and sliced beets.
Optional: Put a fried egg or two on top! (How to make an over-easy egg!)
Makes about 4-5 lunch size salads!


~ Heather

P.S. Thanks, Evelyn, for being my current sidekick in the kitchen. Cooking with my young (and older) kids has been one of my favorite memories with my kids. Cole told me when he was 4 that we would one day have a restaurant called the People Place where all people could come. (Love this inclusive way that is IN him.) Ella at 5 would draw me pictures of different restaurants and name them like her “Strawberry Cafe”. (Love her desire to create food and spaces.) Ev keeps all of these memories alive in our family with her youngest spirit, and we are so grateful for the time to play and learn about food and life, together.




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the story of my everyday food

Just in case you’ve wondered if “she” even makes things anymore, I do! I do!

Though since the beginning of this year it’s mostly been over here. I’m working with (and working out at) Bodies by Burgoon these days. While I haven’t been able to post as much here, I’m still making and sharing, a lot. (Scroll to the bottom for the evidence!?)

Here’s an update on my almost daily breakfast hash, still going strong since 2014.

sweet potato hash with brussels and kale

For those of you who know me personally, you know my cooking has been on a trip over the last years. Yes it’s cliché, but every twist and turn really has belonged. My cooking and overall life has changed but perhaps not in the way you would think. 

Learning to cook with wine and butter and herbs as an adult was life changing. While it was never something I did every day, it taught me what really good food tastes like and taught me to play with quality ingredients. Every time I had something less quality, I was disappointed, and this was not me becoming a food snob but a learner of food and life. In short, cooking wasn’t just about eating amazing things, it was the love of creation, learning, and sharing that had me hooked early on. 

As an adult, I did however struggle with what to feed my kids and how to afford the healthier stuff for a group, day to day. I would splurge on new recipes for the weekends but during the week, I floundered and ended up with a strange mix of healthy one day and eating out the next, quick foods we really didn’t want to eat but could afford, and a lot more grains and dairy than any of us needed.

Which led me and my family to begin connecting dots with our health overall. When my daughter ate sugar she got really sick, every single time. When my son didn’t drink enough water or ate too many processed foods, he got headaches. When I ate gluten my joints hurt and my injuries increased. When we ate good food and whole ingredients we felt good, when we didn’t we felt bad and got sick in one way or another. It now seems so obvious but it took more than a few hits to recognize the patterns.

In the last years I have been learning to cook everyday food (saving the weekend wine and butter for occasional still) with quality ingredients, and again it has been life changing. AND it has taken resources. Eating good food costs money period. I don’t care what anyone says! It also takes cognitive space. If you are in any kind of survival mode or have too full a load or a financially stressed plate, changing the way you eat can feel impossible. 

To know what delicious food is and to equally know how good clean food makes me feel, has helped me stay determined not to settle with imitations and quick fixes on a daily basis and the weekends. The paths have started to converge and therefore what we are eating has evolved. 

In case you’ve missed any of these recipes posted on bodiesbyburgoon.com, here you go. They might be more simple than my weekend food, but the test crew at home has given them all thumbs up and continually asks for more, and that to me makes them worth sharing. It’s our weekday fare and feel good food of 2015 and 2016. While not every recipe below is my own, I’ve made every single one multiple times. Thank you #fitfam!

Broccoli, Grapes, and Chicken Salad with Yogurt Dressing:

broccoli, grapes, and chicken salad with yogurt dressing

Tiffany’s No-Bake Energy Bites:

TIffany's no-bake energy bites!

Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes:

Chicken Salad Stuffed Tomatoes!

Asian Chicken Quinoa Salad:

Asian Chicken Quinoa Salad by Christine

Avocado, Mango, and Papaya Salad:

Avocado, Mango, and Papaya Salad by Heather

Our new favorite anytime meal and so easy to have prepped and read to make would be Jen’s recipe for Family Breakfast: 

Jen Patnode's breakfast bowl

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Double Take’s Aces & Eights Salsa by Tiffany:


Ground Turkey Burgers:

Heather's Ground Turkey Burgers

Bowls with chicken sausage and Jen Eck’s Grilled Veggie Slaw:

Grilled Veggie Bowl

Changing the way you eat (or changing anything!) is hard, and there will be great resistance from the inside and outside. What do you want, what do you need, and who is on your team? How do you find some space so you can choose and not just wait to be chosen by circumstances that will eat you up? Do that, go towards finding some space, and whatever you do, don’t quit. XO



pan seared pork tenderloin with cherry sauce

Someone recently asked me when I started cleaning up my food. It’s funny because I kind of feel like it’s been a forever and ongoing process. I wonder if that’s how it feels for a lot of us. I’ve long been looking for a path that is sustainable, and the search has kept me learning and trying new things. Whether I’m judging a food by taste or how it makes me feel, I’m also not content repeating things that don’t work. Remember fat free cheese? I only had to try that once.

When it comes to how a food makes me feel? Well that one has required more work to change and to really believe that foods were making me feel like junk, even if I was only eating them once a week. I probably started experimenting with eliminating foods about 8 years ago. Over time and many stops and starts, I’m now realizing that what I really want and crave is good food that doesn’t drag me down or set me back.

pork tenderloin rubbed in salt and cumin

The trouble is, I once learned how to make a delicious sauce. The first time I scraped browned bits from a pan with wine, I was hooked (and quite possibly cried. ?) I still feel so proud every time I do that. Consequently, I’m sometimes afraid that eating healthy or making good changes might mean those days are over. Which is crazy! It’s not like I was deglazing pans with wine every night of the week or something. But fear never lets you try anything and talks in absolutes, right?

cherry sauce on pork tenderloin

Which brings me to this cherry sauce. Fear says sauces can’t be made unless they are loaded with sugar, butter, wine, or cream? Says stinking who? Time to experiment.

As it turns out, if you cook cherries, they break down into a thick sauce without needing to fuss with sugar. Shockingly, naturally sweet fruit makes a naturally sweet sauce, no sweetener needed. Ha. Jokes on us all.

bag of frozen dark sweet cherries from Whole Foods

Add a few spices and a seasoned pork tenderloin? This sweet and savory plate of delicious dinner is yours.

pork tenderloin with cherry saucepork tenderloin with cherry saucepork and cherries

Here you go!

pan seared pork tenderloin with cherry sauce
Makes: 6-8
  • 2-1 pound pork tenderloins
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoons ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of clarified butter or olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onions
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 bag of frozen sweet cherries (naturally sweet with no sugar added.)
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or a couple of pinches)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. In a small bowl combine cumin, salt, and pepper.
  3. Lay your pork tenderloins on a board and generously rub spice mixture until all sides are generously covered. Let set for 15 minutes while you get the cherry sauce started.
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter or heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium high heat.
  5. Add your onions and stir occasionally until they are softened and start to brown, 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add your cumin and allspice and stir to combine and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  7. Add your cherries, balsamic vinegar, cayenne, and ½ cup water to pan, stir to combine. Leave on medium high until the cherries thaw and liquid is boiling. Turn to simmer and continue to cook the cherries and sauce for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. If the cherries are sticking to the bottom, add a bit more water and turn it down. If the sauce is too runny, turn the heat up and cook for a bit longer until it's more thickened and cherries start to fall apart.
  8. In an oven proof skillet melt remaining oil or clarified butter in an oven proof pan on medium high, when fat is hot add your pork tenderloins.
  9. Sear on one side for about 2 minutes and turn for 2 minutes on the opposite side. Keep turning and cooking until all sides are lightly browned. Do this for 7-8 minutes total, turn down heat as necessary so they don't burn but brown instead.
  10. When all sides of both tenderloins are seared, put skillet in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and check for doneness. When you put a meat thermometer in the thickest part it should read 140°. If you don't have a meat thermometer, pierce the center and if the liquids run clear or faint pink, it's done. In addition, if you push your finger into your tenderloin and it springs back to shape, it is done. If it needs more time, put it back in for a couple minutes.
  11. When pork is ready, let it rest for 5 minutes.
  12. Slice the tenderloins and serve with thickened warm cherry sauce.
Serves 6-8

Nutritional Information for Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce

Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce

Plate your pork with cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, and/or broccoli for sides.




slow cooked beef tinga

slow cooked beef tinga

While I love to cook, bake, and experiment in the kitchen, I’m with any of you who might dread the 5 pm dinner decision. What do we have? What do we make? Who’s cooking? While 5 pm is not the ideal time to begin asking these questions, it happens more than I like.

Do you ever do the math? 105 times a week someone here in my house is potentially hungry, 52 weeks a year. Are you kidding me? That’s a lot.

We all have a barrage of decisions coming at us on a daily basis, beyond just the 21 personal meals a week (not including snacks, your potential family, and/or your pets)! In an interview a few years back, Michael Lewis did a leadership story and quoted President Obama on how he wears and eats the same thing every day so he can “routinize” his life and “pare down his decisions”. I loved the idea of this but wasn’t always sure how to apply it without disturbing my need for creativity at the same time.

Over the last couple of years I have routinized my breakfast and love all the benefits of having this decision off my to do list. I just haven’t been able to do the lunch and dinner, at least not yet. I have however, been prepping things ahead of time when I can (#sundaysetup), and it’s getting at some of the same freedom for the weekdays.

Sunday Set-Up

Every time I’ve made this Tinga recipe in the past, it’s gone in the oven. This past month I went all crockpot with it. While I haven’t always had luck with slow cookers and meat (tastes dry and washed out), the desire to make weeknights less problematic lead me to try again. The smells alone drew cheers from the Bursch crowd, even when I repeated it 2 weeks in a row.

slow cooked shredded beef tinga

If you don’t want tacos, a side of this meat with vegetables, rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa makes a perfect bowl of dinner as well. Don’t forget to top it all with avocados (squeezed with lime and a sprinkle of salt).?

avocados with lime and salt

Here’s the recipe!

Slow Cooked Beef Tinga
: Adapted from Rick Bayless
Makes: 10-12
  • 1 large sweet potato or yam, about 1 lb, chopped into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 2-3 lb chuck beef roast (pork shoulder or combination of chicken thighs and chicken breasts work too!)
  • 1 28 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of beef broth (plus 2 tablespoons for the end)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of oregano
  • 2 chipotle chiles en adobo seeded, rinsed, and chopped (Whole Foodshas gluten free option)
  • 2-5 teaspoons of sauce from chiles en adobo
  • 1 small to medium onion sliced or chopped
  • Optional: 4-6 oz fresh chorizo and extra beef broth
Serve with avocado slices, lettuce wraps or corn tortillas, cojita or queso fresco Mexican cheese
  1. In the bottom of your slow cooker layer your chopped sweet potatoes, then lay your beef on top.
  2. In a medium bowl mix the remaining ingredients together and pour on top of beef.
  3. Cover and turn your slow cooker to high for 6 hours.
  4. When the meat is done, pour off the liquids into a saucepan and turn on high. Let the liquid boil and cook down into more of a thick sauce. I'd let it go for 15 minutes or so if you can. Add more beef broth if the mixture gets to dry.
  5. If adding chorizo, fry in a pan until cooked through and browned. Splash a tablespoon or two of beef broth in the pan to scrape up the browned bits and add the chorizo + bits on top of beef.
  6. When you have cooked down the liquids pour them back on top of your meat and potatoes.
  7. Separate the beef with two forks into bite size chunks and stir the meats, potatoes and sauce together gently. Don’t over mix or mash.
  8. Serve with toppings listed above.
For the oven, place meat, then potatoes, then sauce mixture in a roasting pan with a lid. Cover and cook on a low 300° for 2½ -3 hours. Cook down liquids if needed (not as much liquid this way) and add chorizo step to finish if desired.

slow cooked beef tinga nutritional information

Slow Cooked Tinga with Beef, Pork, or Chicken

This idea that we can (need to) reduce our cognitive load makes a ton of sense to me. As a food lover and creator, this has been complicated because it’s my thing. But like I said, it’s not my thing 105 times a week when all I really want is to get creative and try something new once or twice a week.

Now that I thought about that aloud with you, I’m seeing things a bit more clearly. How about you? What’s your number, what’s your load?





Greek meatballs with lemon yogurt dressing

I love meatballs. They are the quintessential burger if you ask me. (Pssst, ask me.)


No one has to bother removing a bun or thinking they are less than without the bossy bread. Relief.


They can be baked, fried, or broiled. Options.

broiling meatballs

They can be forked, tooth picked, lettuce wrapped, or handled. Classy or casual.

Greek meatballs with yogurt dipping sauce

The ONLY downfall with meatballs is how good they taste and perform when stuffed with fatty meat, cheese, and bread. Ugh, deliciousness. When I’ve experimented by removing these items, the flavor changes (obviously), and the meatballs can lean towards hard and dry.

I do not give up easily. I wanted a meatball for everyday, ones that can pack a punch in protein and flavor but are not high in fat and fillers. It’s tricky.

Last week, I shared my recipe for chop chop Greek salad over at Bodies By Burgoon.

chop chop Greek salad

Having had bits and pieces in my fridge for a few weeks, it was the natural outcome in meatball form. The grated cucumber, olive oil, and egg keep them moist and hold the it altogether without the bread and fatty meat.

Needless to say we’ve been eating some meatballs around here. Testing, testing, 1-2-3.

Evie eating meatballs

And here is where we landed: Greek meatballs in a lettuce wrap with lemony yogurt dressing. I tossed a few Kalamata olives, scallions, and cucumbers on top because they were already prepped for my #sundaysetup salad above.

Greek meatball lettuce wraps

Here are the details!

Greek meatballs with lemon yogurt dressing
Makes: 8
  • 1 lb ground chicken or turkey (dark meat is best for flavor and juiciness)
  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • ½ cup cucumber grated (peeled and seeded first)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red pepper
  • ¼ cup green onions finely chopped (white and green parts)
  • ¼ cup feta cheese crumbled
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (2 teaspoons dry oregano if you prefer)
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
Dressing Ingredients
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped mint (optional)
Optional Toppings
  • Lettuce wraps with chopped red peppers, green onions, Kalamata olives, Feta, and/or mint leaves.
  1. Preheat oven to broil setting and lightly brush broiling pan or cookie sheet some extra olive oil.
  2. Whisk together all dressing ingredients and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine both meats using 2 forks so you don't over mix. Mix just until the two meats are combined.
  4. Add all ingredients for the meatballs, gently fork together until just combined.
  5. Using a small scoop or heaping tablespoon roll meatballs form mixture the size of a golf ball. Set on prepared pan. You should have 24-30 meatballs in all.
  6. Broil on a rack about 6 inches from the top for 4 minutes. Remove from oven, turn each meatball, and broil for 3-4 minutes longer until browned and cooked thru.
  7. Serve meatballs with lettuce wraps and lemon yogurt dressing. Top with Kalamata olives, red peppers, cucumbers, and or mint if you wish.
Makes 8 servings!

Nutritional Information for Greek meatballs with lemon yogurt dressing

Greek Meatballs with Lemon Yogurt Dressing

Perhaps this week I will eat this salad and these meatballs in the same sitting, or at least the same week. When all of the pieces are prepped, the options are endless. 😉



Lately I’ve been busy writing over here at bodiesbyburgoon.com and talking about food, of course! I’m working with my gym community on something we are calling Sunday Set-Up, also known as #sundaysetup. I’ve long known that a secret to success in many areas of my life is all in the set up. Whether it comes to parenting, teaching, husband traveling, work, and personal health, being set up is my key to staying sane. Check us out on Facebook and Instagram, or search #sundaysetup for inspiration. 



chicken fried wild rice

chicken fried wild rice

I totally forgot about wild rice until I made those stuffed apples in December. Then the half empty bag of rice was sitting there staring at me from my cupboard. Which is what Kale did for months every time I opened the refrigerator. I made kale chips a few years back and the leftover fresh kale just glared at me until I had to toss it. This throwing away of food bothers me sooooo much so I just kept buying it (and growing it) until I found a way to like it. It’s my own personal brain hack – applying the perfect amount of pressure helps me to create and try, try again.

The wild rice takes about an hour to make so it’s perfect for a prepping day, or when you have other things to do. It cooks itself and stores easily in the fridge until you want to create something delicious.

wild rice

Prep your chicken, squash, rice, and kale ahead of time and this dish can be ready for dinner in 5 mintues. FIVE MINUTES, people. This is why I neeeeed to set myself up for the week, a little pain on one day is my gain in the days to come. We all loved it and Tim suggested it could be great as a cold salad too. Smart guy.


Here you go!

Chicken Fried Wild Rice
Makes: 3
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice according to your packaged directions (about ⅔ cup dry)
  • 1 cups of cooked chicken diced (about 1 chicken breast)
  • 1 cup of chopped squash or sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil for roasting squash
  • 2 cups of kale leaves finely chopped (stems removed)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoon of coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries (optional)
  • coconut aminos or soy sauce to pass
  1. Prep the wild rice, chicken, and kale. Set aside or refrigerate.
  2. To prep squash, chop into small cubes and put on a cookie sheet. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over pieces. Using clean hands make sure every piece has a little oil on it as well as the pan. Roast in a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes until tender.
  3. When ready to combine, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of sesame oil in a large sautè pan on medium high heat until it is thin and moves easily to coat your pan bottom.
  4. Toss in your crushed garlic and stir it around for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  5. Add rice and chicken and let it fry for about 30 seconds, stirring.
  6. Next add squash letting it fry for 15 seconds, then stir, fry for 15 seconds, then stir.
  7. Stir in the kale and cranberries if you are using. Let it fry and start to wilt as you continue to stir, about 1 minute.
  8. Last, drizzle your coconut aminos in the pan, give it a stir to combine and immediately cover for 1 minute to create a little hot steam for your kale to cook a bit more.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve with extra aminos, soy sauce, and/or hot pepper sauce on the side.

My family of 5 ate this for lunch. For dinner I’d probably double it for the 5 of us and add a salad or more roasted vegetables on the side. One onion averse friend of mine might just notice there are no onions in this recipe, eh hem. This is very unusual for me, but you could add scallions to the stir fry section of your recipe. Or steamed brocolli. Or cauliflower. Last but not least and listed as optional above, dried cranberries. While I didn’t include them in the nutritional facts below, look what I found at Whole Foods:

Eden Organic dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice

Cranberries NOT sweetened with sugar and corn syrup! This made me very happy and I might just be adding a little tablespoon here and there.

Chicken Fried Wild Rice Nutritional Information | shemadeitshemight.com

You get the picture. Just prep it and make yourself something simple and satisfying in 5 minutes. Done.

Chicken Fried Wild Rice



Speaking of prepping, learn more about #sundaysetup over here!