Friday, May 15, 2020


So, this is my very loose interpretation of bibimbap!  It has just enough veggies to be interesting and just few enough vegetable to be appealing to my children. 😂 If you're serving more adventurous eaters you can add mushrooms, shredded red cabbage, kimchi, bean sprouts or top it with a fried egg. It's very easy to add as much or as little spice as you want also.  So feel free to play around with it and make it your own.

Bibimbap (serves 8)
4 cups cooked jasmine rice
2 T. olive oil
2 lbs. ground meat (I used a beef/pork blend)
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. fresh ginger (minced)
salt and pepper to taste
2 zucchini, halved and sliced into 1/2 in. thick moons
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 green onions, sliced and seperated into greens and whites
1/3 cups soy sauce
3 T. sesame oil
2 T. sugar
2 T. apple cider vinegar
2 T. sriracha (plus extra for topping)

Cook rice according to package directions and keep warm. (I cooked mine in an instant pot and used beef broth in place of water)

Meanwhile, heat 1 T. olive oil in a large frying pan and cook meat, garlic and ginger until browned and cooked through. Salt and pepper to taste.

In another frying pan, heat remaining olive oil and cook zucchini and carrots until softened and zucchini is a little brown from frying.  Add onion whites and continue cooking another minute until softened. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

In a small bowl comine soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar and sriracha.  Add sauce to ground beef and cook for 2-3 minute until heated through and sauce is somewhat reduced.  Toss with veggies.

Serve over rice (making sure to spoon some of the sauce over the stir fry).  Top with additional sriracha and remaining green onion.

Snickerdoodle bars

We made this one a while back but I forgot to ever put it on the blog.  Looking at the pictures have my kids wanting to make them again. It's a great recipe for kids to make by themselves! So yummy!

Snickerdoodle bars
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 9x13 pan.

In a large bowl cream butter and sugars together.  Add eggs and vanilla.

In another bowl combine dry ingredients (salt, baking powder, cinnamon and flour).  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well to combine. 

Spread dough into prepared pan (I had to use my hands to press it in the pan evenly) and top with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I got this recipe a few years ago from my friend Angela!  She always has delicious and fresh recipes! This one is a favorite for summer months.  You get to use the grill, it comes together quickly and is perfect for lunch, dinner or just snacking.  It packs a lot of veggies in and the kids will still eat it because of the yummy teriyaki chicken. 

Teriyaki Chicken Lettuce Wraps

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2/3 cup teriyaki sauce (divided)
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 green onion, sliced
2 T. chopped cilantro
1 T. mayo
1 head iceberg lettuce, washed and leaves seperated
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Set aside 2 T. of the teriyaki sauce for later.  Combine chicken and remaining sauce in a gallon sized ziploc bag and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Cook rice according to package directions.

Grill chicken until cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Coursely chop chicken and place in a large bowl.  Combine with reserved teriyaki sauce, cooked rice, and all remaining ingredients (except for lettuce and peanuts).

To serve: Spoon 1/3 cup of chicken mixture onto a lettuce leaf and top with chopped peanuts if desired.

Ham Chowder

During the quarantine we've had a little more time to cook and the girls have been participating too!  I thought I'd take some time and jot down the recipes here so we'd be able to find them easier next time.  We made this with some leftover ham from easter. We'd love to hear about your cooking adventures during this time too!  Anyone baking some good sourdough to put with this soup??

Ham Chowder
2 cups cooked ham (diced)
8 slices bacon
2 T. butter
1 small yellow onion (diced)
4 large carrots (chopped)
2 stalks celery
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
5 red potatoes (diced into 1 in. pieces)
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
1 can corn, drained
1/3 cup flour
3 cups half and half (or milk)
1/2 cup sour cream (plus extra for topping)
green onions (to top)

Cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon but set pan with drippings aside for later.

Melt butter in a large stock pot. Saute yellow onion, carrots, and celery until tender.

Add potatoes, chicken broth and seasonings (oregano, thyme and bay leaf) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes (until potatoes are tender). Add ham and corn and continue to cook until heated through.

Reheat bacon drippings and add flour.  Whisk to combine flour and dripping into a rue. Add half and half (or milk) and pepper to taste.  Continue to whisk until mixture is thickened.  Add to the pot with the rest of the soup.  Stir well to combine.

Just before serving, add sour cream to the pot and stir to combine.  Top with additional sour cream, chopped bacon pieces, and green onion as desired!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Fear and Hope

Hey guys! Remember how 10 years ago we all used to have blogs? And we'd post ideas, or recipes, or get up on our soapboxes and stuff. And we weren't all self quarantining because of a massive pandemic? We didn't know it then, but those were the days, huh?

After coming up with a list of things my kids should do and work on while we are social distancing, I started thinking maybe I should work on some stuff too. Maybe with the extra time I could work out more, or write again, or cook again, or be a person again.  And then I decided to do the least hard thing on my list and write a blog! So here I am blogging like it's 2010!

In the storm of covid-19 I've had a lot on my mind (as I'm sure everyone has).  The many changes to daily life have had me reeling and the fact that things change drastically from hour to hour leaves me feeling like I'll never catch up.  In addition to a massive influx of statistics, news stories, and directives from various levels of government across my social media, I've also been reading a large number of posts from people responding to said statistics, news and directives.

Many of these responses are reminders for us that we need not fear or that we must have hope. While messages of hope are important, we need to remember that there are many steps to finding hope. Hope and faith are not just things we can turn on and off like a lightswitch. Before we can come up with constructive ways of promoting the positive, we need to take the step of acknowleding that fear is present in most of us and that it is an emotion that must be felt and accepted before we can move past it.  Just willing ourselves to be less afraid isn't enough. Fear has to be processed before it can be removed, and it must be acknowledged before it is processed.

When we skip this step of acknoweledgement we miss out on understanding ourselves better and on empathic connection. When we are disconnected from each other and the world it's hard to spread feelings of hope. If we don't let people know it's okay to feel afraid it attaches shame to that feeling.  Shame isn't the way to make us feel less fearful.  If anything it makes us less inclined to discuss our fears with others which, in turn, magnifies them. Our reaction to the feeling is just as important as the feeling itself.  Telling someone fear is wrong and bad leads to greater fear.  Telling someone fear is okay and something we can face together leads to hope.

This can especially be true in our religious communities.  We have to be careful that we remember to acknowledge that this is an extremely difficult time and empathize with others before reminding people to "fear not". Otherwise we leave them thinking now I'm afraid, ashamed, and letting God down. Empathy is a central theme to not only counseling theory, but to many philosphies and religions throughout history.  From a Christian standpoint we can see it in Romans 12 where Paul is explaining how to use our spiritual gifts to be unified with our neighbors.  In 12:15 he says "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep".  I attended an amazing conference where a  speaker highlighted this verse and reminded us that it doesn't say cheer up the weepers. It doesn't say tell them to stop weeping. It says weep with them.  Empathy is meeting them in that moment of mourning and connecting with them.  Only then can we move- together- into a place of hope.

Another step is acknoweleging our blindspots.  We all have areas of struggle and privelege.  When we are priveleged in one area it can be hard for us to see that it is a struggle for others.  When we're healthy and not likely to die from a virus it may be harder to see it from the perspective of a person who is in a more vulnerable demographic than ourselves. Priveleges of being healthy, or young, or wealthy may make it tempting for us to say this virus is no big deal. When we don't acknowledge that others may be experiencing hardships that are different from our own, our words fall flat.  Messages of "why are you all so worried" or "people are just overreacting" aren't going to promote hope or connectedness and clearly reflect that the author has not taken time to acknowledge their priveleged blindspots. Same with messages of "this thing worked for me so it will definitely work the exact same way for you".  Kind of like those advertisements where an already fit woman tells me that she can eat a donut every day and still lose weight and if I just download their app I can too.  Sure I can lady, sure I can.

It's also important to remember that although we are all going through the same pandemic together it effects us all in different ways. In addition to the trauma that comes from a virus that spreads quickly and has the ability to hospitalize and kill people, there are also many other traumas people are facing as a result of this virus. Some are vulnerable to the virus. Some have family members who are vulnerable to the virus. Some work in the medical field and because of their exposure at work now have to isolate from other family members and support systems. Some have had very needed and anticipated surgeries put on hold. Some have had to close small businesses or drastically adjust their business plans and don't know how they will stay afloat. Some have had important life events altered or cancelled such as weddings, funerals, graduations and more. Some have worried about giving birth alone because birth partners weren't being allowed in hospitals under new essential procedures. Some are children who have just found out they won't be going back to school this year. Just to name a few trials people may be going through right now.  And just so no one thinks these are overly-exaggerated hypothetical situations this entire list is comprised of things that are actually happening within my family around the country right now.  Imagine how long the list would be if each of you wrote out what was going on with your families too. That is a lot of different trauma going on around the world.

I recently had a conversation with someone who said that she had been doing fine with everything until she went into the store for milk last week. She was able to get a small carton for her kids but she said she would rather have gone without than see the store in that condition. Seeing all the shelves bare and people frantic made her realize how much we depend on things like grocery stores, and utilities departments, and hospitals for the essentials that make up normal life. We are starting to see how fragile our "normal" life is and that can be traumatizing.  And that's for those of us who were lucky enough to have a pretty cushy "normal" way of life. Now consider those who were already struggling to have enough to eat or who don't have safe home environments and the pain this situation is adding to their already painful "normal". And no matter how big or small our traumas are they need to be addressed with more than statements of "everything will be fine".

Here's where I so badly want to talk forever about empathy but instead I'm just going to really recommend that you read some Brene Brown!  If I could I'd just insert an entire book of hers and call it a day but instead I will just stick with this quote: "Empathy doesn't require that we have the exact same experiences as the person sharing their story with us...Empathy is connecting with the emotion that someone is experiencing, not the event or the circumstance". -Brene Brown  Even though I've read this quote countless times this pandemic makes me gain even new perspective from it.  Because here we find ourselves going through the same event at the same time but even in this we are all having different experiences and find ourselves in different circumstances. So we have to start connecting on an emotional level if we are ever going to have enough empathy to collectively get through this trauma.

Granted this connectedness is hard to do online where so much of this discussion is happening.  But I think that if we consider these ideas it can make a difference in the articles we choose to share, the voices we choose to listen to and the way we respond to others.  I do have hope that we will see better days.  I also have a lot of immediate concerns for my family members, friends and community.  I'm also grieving losses of normalcy like being with friends, my kids enjoying school (they really miss teachers that aren't mom!), spending time at a park, and casually buying milk.  And I'm telling you it's okay to feel those things too. It is okay if you are afraid and overwhelmed right now. You're not hopeless or wrong for feeling that way and it's not because you're not working or praying hard enough.  Fears are part of life. Write them down. Share them with a friend. Meditate. Pray. Finally make that therapy appointment you've been wanting to make (sorry that it's going to be virtual sessions for awhile! I miss seeing my therapist face to face) But do something to acknowledge and validate your feelings. Don't keep them hidden and don't let them fester.

Empathy and unity are the ground true hope is built on. Connection creates the soil where respectful dialogue can take place and new ideas can grow.  And honestly our world could use some help in those areas right now. If it takes awhile to figure out your part that's okay.  If you have to take a little longer to decide which articles pass the test of empathy that's fine too.  Lets use this as a time to gain greater empathy for the constant struggles and joys that others experience every day. Let people know you are there.  Let people know you care about their opinions and feelings (regardless of whether you agree with them). Let people know it's okay to feel hurt right now.

Maybe the good tastes that much sweeter after we've experienced the bitter together. Maybe the good that will come from this is that we can all be a little more comfortable with the fact that there is bitter and sweet in every lifetime.  I'm learning so much from those around me even though we are seperated right now. Maybe our time of isolation will lead us to deeper connection. That's something that keeps me smiling even in these overwhelming times. That and memes about home-haircuts. Those things are comedy gold!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Chili Con Carne

This chili is super fast and great to use in a variety of way! You can make it on the stove top, in the crock pot or freeze it for later!  We love to use it in frito pies and on chili dogs! My kids all love it too and it's a great recipe to sneak vegetables into if you have any picky eaters.  Give it a try!

Chili Con Carne

1 lb. ground turkey (or ground beef)

1 green bell pepper (chopped)
1 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
1 tsp. garlic powder (or to taste)
1 tsp. onion powder (or to taste)
1 tsp. dried minced onion
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup flour
chili powder (to taste...honestly I use about 1/3 of a cup)
3-4 cups water
2 cans pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can diced tomatoes
a dash of  Tabasco sauce

Brown turkey slightly.  Add bell pepper and spices and continue cooking until turkey is cooked through and bell pepper is softened.  Add flour and chili powder.  Add water slowly and stir well to get rid of all lumps of flour.  Add beans and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and cook until thickened.  Add Tabasco if desired and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes.


Freezer Meal Instructions-
Brown turkey or beef.  In a gallon sized freezer bag add cooked meat, chopped bell pepper and onion.  In a small bowl combine spices, flour and water until incorporated and no lumps.  Pour over meat and veggies.  Add beans and tomatoes.  Add a dash or two of tabasco if desired.

When ready to use your freezer meal- Add contents of bag and 2 cups of water to a large slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until heated through and vegetables are tender.  Add extra chili powder or water to reach desired consistency and spiciness!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

New York Cheesecake

 You know how doctors have been telling us for years that we need to have more sugar and cream cheese in our diets? Well this recipe has it all :) This is seriously, hands down, the best recipe for cheesecake I've ever made! I've been using it for a couple of years now and it always turns out beautifully.  It's easy to adapt up or down to make different size cakes but this recipe makes a standard 9 in. round cheesecake.

When it comes to cheesecake the actual baking is the tricky part.  The ingredients are pretty standard but the instructions are especially important.  You'll want to get ingredients to room temp, not over beat the eggs, and take a lot of care setting up your water bath to bake it in. The other tip is that I think it's best if you make it a day or two before you want to eat it.  The recipe says to let it sit 4-6 hours but really 24 hours is the best.  I usually make the cheesecake two days before I want to eat it and then put the topping on a day before. But that's just my own recommendation. It might sound daunting but after a few times it becomes a pretty simple process.

Although this recipe always turns out beautifully it usually does still have a little crack or two in the top that I cover up with the sour cream topping but this was the first time that the top came out PERFECT! Not even one little crack.  My husband was pretty amused with how excited I was about it! But look at that smooth perfection...bam...

Gorgeous right!!?? It's the little things in life I guess. Give this recipe a try and make your own special treat for you next birthday/holiday/date night/long weekend/just because day!!

New York Cheesecake:

9 in. spring form pan
18 in. aluminum foil
large roasting pan or 12 in. round cake pan
boiling water

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (I used about 1/2 a box)
3 T. sugar
1/3 cup butter
pinch salt

4 (8 oz.) bricks of cream cheese (splurge and use Philadelphia brand!) (room temp)
1 T. vanilla
pinch salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs (room temp)
2/3 cup sour cream (room temp)
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream (room temp)

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Set out your cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and whipping cream about 30 min. prior to starting to make your cheesecake to bring them to room temperature.

Using the large aluminum foil completely cover the bottom and sides of your spring form pan.  I usually do 2 or 3 layers.  This is to keep the water out during the baking process.

In a food processor combine graham crackers, sugar, butter and salt until course crumbs are formed. Press crust into the bottom of your spring form pan and about half way up the sides.  A cup with a flat bottom can help press your crust into a more uniform thickness (about 1/4 in.) and get it in the corners of the pan.

Bake crust for 12 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown.  Set aside.

While crust is baking put 6-8 cups of water on to boil.

In a large stand mixture, beat cream cheese, vanilla and salt on high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Turn speed to low and slowly add sugar.  Scrape sides of bowl and beat on high for 1 more minute.

Return speed to low and add eggs one at a time, beat just until incorporated.  Don't over beat once the eggs are in or you'll end up with cracks! Scrape sides of bowl and add sour cream and whipping cream and return to high for one more minute.

Place the spring form pan inside the larger roasting or baking pan. I use a 12 round cake pan that works perfectly.  Pour the filling inside of the crust and smooth with a spatula.  Move the rack in your oven to the bottom third of the oven and turn the temperature down to 325.

Place the pan on the rack and carefully fill the outer/larger pan with boiling water (taking care not to get any water on the actual cheesecake itself.

Bake at 325 for 2 hours.  When cheesecake is done baking, turn off the oven, slightly open the oven door and leave cheesecake in the oven for another hour.

Remove cheesecake from oven and leave on counter for 30 minutes to continue cooling.  Cover with foil and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (I recommend overnight or longer!)

Use a knife to make sure your crust is completely seperated from the sides of the pan and remove the pan. Top cheesecake with sour cream topping and allow to set another 4 hours before serving.  Top with fresh fruit, chocolate or caramel drizzle, etc if desired!