The Kitchen

Does anyone else have a place they go or a thing they do throughout their day that just keeps moving them forward, that recharges them for whatever the day may bring? Aside from being on a luxurious vacation or actually going somewhere, being in the kitchen for me is like therapy. At the end of the day to stand in front of the stove while I cook dinner is one of my favorite parts of the evening. If we have been really busy and I haven’t had time to batch cook on the weekends or bake I can feel it.  Sometimes I just NEED to be in the kitchen, I just CRAVE creating something simply delicious. The kitchen is where I recharge.

Watching the olive oil in the pan heat, chopping vegetables, watching everything soften and come together as the fragrance of dinner fills the air.  The flavors and smells of a meal coming together, a little of this and a little of that, it soothes me. Sometimes I have a long day and just come home and throw a dinner together in desperation, but not if I can help it. I think meal planning is what allows me to do this during the week so well. If come home and have no idea what to make, then it is not always as an enjoyable experience. Even just having a slight idea helps.


Might I let you in on a little secret, the best way to spend time if you really don’t feel like watching the pot boil, turn on some tunes and just dance. Honestly. Before my husband comes home and I’m cooking dinner is often a dance party in the kitchen. The kittens just hate when I try to get them involved in these dance parties. If I’m not picking them up and dancing around with them (swaying really, I can’t dance). They are sitting in the kitchen staring at me. I am totally going to be THAT mom. You know, the one that dances around when her favorite oldies song comes on. Anyone else have one of those? Yea, my mom was mortifying as a teenager. Windows down, oldies blaring, and she is rocking out at the steering wheel. WHILE I had friends in the car. Looking back, its a funny memory but as a teenager it was the worst.


I’ve been reading a fabulous book called Cold Tangerines By Shauna Niequist. It really got me thinking about the need that we have to create, to make something beautiful, to express ourselves. While I’ve never thought of myself as a creative person I have always been told that I have the ability to create wonderful and unique things in the kitchen. I got to thinking, the kitchen is where I create, my creative outlet and recharge zone. Just like writing, or gardening, or any other hobby might do it for someone else. As we create we recharge and reconnect to our souls and to our true selves.


What recharges and connects you?

Homemade Tortillas

Based off this recipe

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup warm water

Directions: Mix dough in kitchen aid mixer with dough hook on medium speed. First mixing flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add oil and water. Let dough come together until it is no longer sticking to the bowl and forms a smooth ball. Divide into 12 balls and let set for 10 minutes. Heat a cast iron skillet (or regular skillet) to medium heat. Roll balls out flat adding flour as necessary.  Add small amount of oil to pan. Place first dough round into pan and cook 30 seconds or until bubble form. Flip once bubble form and the side is slightly brown. Cook until bubbles form again and remove from heat. Continue cooking additional tortillas. Adding oil as needed. If you do not add enough oil they may be hard to bend in half.


Family Recipes

This past weekend was Pi day (3-14-15). Being married to a science nerd and being somewhat of one myself we found it noteworthy this year that it was not only 3.14 but  3.1415. So of course I used it as an excuse to bake a pie. Yes, I know the two are completely unrelated but I enjoy the play on words and any excuse my husband can make for me to bake a pie he will in fact make. When I asked him what kind of pie he would like he responded with cherry. Now, cherry pie is not my favorite kind of pie but I agreed to bake one for Pi day. Instead of turning to the trusty internet or Pinterest as I often do I decided to turn to a cookbook, a very special cookbook. A cookbook that my mom worked on developing for our family for nearly a year. Since my brother and I have grown up and moved out on our own we have often emailed, text, or called her for various recipes that she made while we were still at home. As her retirement from work approached she decided it would be fun to take on a new project, to make a family cookbook. For almost a year my mom spent her time picking all of our brains for family recipes, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and even their families. In the end it turned into an incredible family cookbook full of 5 generations of recipes. IMG_5681 She used to create the actual book. I helped her edit along the way and found the website and company easy and great to work with. My parents gave everyone in the family the book for Christmas this past year. Let me tell you what a joy it was to be a part of those gatherings as everyone poured over the cookbooks and the memories brought back by all the recipes. This book not only covered the typical meal recipes, but sweets, crafts, snacks, drinks, and everything in between! It has been so much fun to read through the book and be able to read all the stories and look at all the pictures that went along with the recipes. Not all recipes are gourmet recipes, some family members are just not cooks but their children still remember the spaghetti or the chili (all from a can) that they would make and the memories that were formed while sharing those meals together. And that my friends is why meal time and sharing meal time with others is one of my favorite things. It isn’t always about the food, it’s about the company.  The connection with one another as we cook a meal for or loved ones or share a meal with new friends, the conversation and memories that are formed around that table, that is what matters. Last weekend when I pulled out that book it was to bake my great grandmothers cherry pie…. IMG_5637Now, that was a good pie! Cooking brings me such joy, but cooking that connects me to people brings me an even greater joy.

Mom’s Famous Cherry Pie

3/4 cup sugar

3 TB flour

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup cherry juice (reserved from draining cans)

3 to 4 cans red sour cherries, drained (I used 3)

1 TB Butter

1 9 inch pie plate

Favorite Pie crust recipe (see mine below)

Favorite Crumb topping recipe (or another crust)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Blend Sugar, flour, and salt in medium saucepan

Blend in cherry juice

Add the cherries, cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture has boiled for one minute

Remove from the heat and stir in butter

Set aside to cool while you prepare crust

Pour filling into a 9 inche pastry lined pie plate

Place a crust or crumb topping over the top

Bake 400 degrees for 30 minutes

No Roll Pie Crust

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tso sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup oil

3 tbs milk

Put all ingredients together into a 9 inch pie pan and mix with a fork, then hands to incorporate and spread throughout the pan to create crust. I have found mixing with your hand is the best method.

Crumb Topping

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup unsalted butter

Mix sugars and flour

Cut butter in small pieces

mix with hand until crumb like texture forms

Do you have any favorite memories or recipes from your childhood?

Quick and No frills Meals

Well, this past weekend we decided to dive into painting our kitchen and doing a few finishing touches including a new pantry layout and finishing the back splash we replaced almost a year ago. I told you, its always an adventure around here. While I am thrilled that the kitchen is finally looking finished, rather than painted several different colors from samples, and having a wall paper border around the top it is never fun when the kitchen is ripped apart. I mean what on earth are we supposed to eat and what am I supposed to do when I get the urge to cook or bake.

Lucky for us we do almost all of our work on the house so there is never working around other people and we never completely destroy an area without having some sort of back up or overflow room we can use in the mean time. I also prepare for times like these by having easy meal items on hand. I put together a list of some of our favorite quick and no fuss meal ideas. These come in handy whether its a week night and we have things to do, or we arrive home late from work, or we simply having been working all day on the house and are just plain worn out, or in times like this where there isn’t much to work with in the kitchen. Now we certainly do resort to the occasional take out pizza, or freezer meal from Trader Joes but we often prefer to make things work with what we have at home.

1) Eggs

Eggs are something we always have on hand, fresh from our chickens. They are also incredibly versatile in terms of what you can do with them. Some of my favorites are fried eggs w/ siracha, egg sandwiches, scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs with veggies or sausage mixed in, and omelets. Really the list goes on and on. I love that I can come home and make them incredibly fast and I almost always have some extra roasted veggies from previous nights dinner, or from the garden this summer. We always have some sort of cheese on hand as well if omelets are the route we choose. Add some fruit or vegetable and perhaps a piece of toast and you have yourself a quick and satisfying meal.


2) Freezer Cooking

This past summer I cooked and froze a lot of food items from the garden. We had a VERY prolific zucchini plant that I did not want to go to waste, so I made everything I could think of with zucchini that would freeze well. Roasted vegetable mac and cheese, zucchini cheddar biscuits, and then I froze a ton of shredded zucchini that I have used in soups and other thing (pictured below).I also make soup quite often which I always make a large batch of and freeze a container or two. Which in time adds up to a stock of soup in the freezer to pull out for quick dinners or lunches. I froze a lot of other vegetables this past summer as well such as roasted tomatoes, roasted eggplant, and roasted Anaheim peppers. As well as diced jalapenos, halved plum tomatoes, green beans, and blanched collard greens. All so I can pull them out and quickly add them to dishes as needed.


One ambitious evening of freezer food prep

3) Leftovers

I often cook a little bit extra each night, so that we will have leftovers. If we have something else on hand for lunches I will freeze the extra or once a week I’ll do a leftover night depending on what is in the fridge. I almost always cook a big batch of roasted vegetables at least once per week so that I can throw them into lunches, salads, or omelets as a quick dinner.

4) Crock Pot

I’m really not a huge Crock Pot fan. The timing doesn’t work well for me with how long we are gone for our work days, and I much prefer fresh fruits and vegetables. I definitely understand how wonderful it is for a lot of working families. I do like the Crock Pot for meats and I often throw some in there on the weekends so it can cook all day while we work around the house. For this past weekend I simply threw some chicken in the crock pot with some chopped onion, and peach BBQ sauce and let it cook on the floor in the dining room all day. When it came time for dinner I took a few rolls out of the freezer and reheated some left over roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes. Come Sunday, I cooked pork chops in the crock pot all day and then roasted some broccoli and thawed some homemade applesauce to have on the side.


Dinner cooking on the dining room floor

Hopefully you see the trend, planning a head is key to having things on hand to get dinner on the table quick! There is nothing worse than getting home from a long day and then having to think about what dinner is going to be, so I highly recommend having a few of these ideas on hand for such nights. Everyone gets fed a good healthy meal, and you can still get everything done!

Life Happens

Well, I didn’t mean to leave this blog just sit for the past 2 years, but life just kind of happened. New jobs happened, a new home happened, new pets happened, and a whole lot of other new things happened. I originally began this blog to keep me busy while searching for jobs post college, but a lot changed when I finally found said job. Along with our new house we have taken on tons of projects inside and out, that have filled most of our time. Projects continue and life continues to be an adventure each and everyday (especially this time of year), but  I can finally say we are settled or at least as settled as I think we’ll be for awhile. I miss this little corner of the internet to share recipes, projects, and other fun tidbits so I’m back for another go around.


I think more than ever we are focused on eating homemade and local foods. This past summer we planted a huge garden and several fruit trees from which we were able to can, freeze, and do a ton of freezer cooking to last us almost all year. I want to share not only recipes but also the experience of planting a garden, preserving the goods, and using the goods to feed our family all year round. In addition to gardening, we make a lot of our food from scratch at home using as much natural and local foods as possible. We also started raising chickens for the first time this year, mostly for eggs but also a few for meat. It has truly been a fun experience and I can’t wait to share more with you all. I want everyone to know that it isn’t hard and it doesn’t have to necessarily be time consuming either to eat good wholesome foods. My hope is that you will enjoy our recipes, step by step instructions, gardening, and home improvement projects as they come and that you will join me on this new adventure on our little farm.


Kale Kale Everywhere

Sorry to leave you all hanging for awhile. It was a rather busy week, and I didn’t have much time to cook anything interesting, or worth sharing with you all. That is until this weekend! Remember how I was saying I had no idea what to do with Kale, but I had loads of it that I needed to do something with! Well, I think I found two pretty awesome recipes! A warm kale salad, and creamed kale!  In fact, one will be making an appearance on our Thanksgiving dinner table! Can you believe it is Thanksgiving already? I can’t, but I am sure glad it is! Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday The food at Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday food, but I also love the family time and the focus on the meal and time together. I can’t wait to spend it with my Husband this year as well as both of our families, what a blessing!

The first kale dish I made since I made the Kale Pesto was a Warm kale salad. I lightly based it off of this recipe from Women’s Health with a few of my own touches based on what I had and thought would taste good. It was incredible and had all the tastes of fall. This is the recipe that will be taking on the Thanksgiving Day table as a new and fresh touch to the average vegetable dish!

Warm Kale Salad

2 bunches Kale, washed and chopped

1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 TBS Fresh Rosemary

1/2 minced shallot (or onion which I used because I didn’t have a shallot)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 cup Delcata Squash, cubed and roasted (or any other fall squash such as butternut or acorn)

3 TBS Pomegranate seeds

Parmesan cheese (optional)


Chop Kale and shallot (or onion) and place in a medium bowl. Top with vinegar, oil, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Massage the dressing into the kale and mix well. Let sit in fridge for several hours to slightly break down the kale. Once the kale is ready heat a pan on medium heat and add the kale and squash to it. Cook for 5-10 minutes until everything is heated through. Remove from heat and add Pomegranate seeds and Parmesan cheese.


The second kale dish I made in the last week was creamed kale. It tasted just like creamed spinach from a really fancy steak house. I paired it with salmon and roasted potatoes and it was an excellent meal! I’ve seen recipes for creamed spinach popping up all over in the last week from blogs to cooking shows so when I looked in my fridge and saw that I had the end of a bag of kale to use up as well as  a carton of half and half sitting in my fridge leftover from when I made the Corn chowder I knew that I had to try out creamed kale. I am so glad that I did! Creamed spinach is one of Andrew’s favorites so I was really pleased that this came out so well, and while he doesn’t always love kale, he loved this dish! This could also be a great Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish.

Creamed Kale

1 bunch of kale, chopped

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 onion, diced

1/2 stick butter

2 TBS flour

3/4 cup fat free half and half (or regular, I just had fat free on hand)

2 tbs Mozzarella (or Parm) Cheese

Directions: Place Kale in a large skillet over medium heat, pour chicken broth over it and cover with lid. Melt butter over low-medium heat, add flour whisking constantly. If it turns clumpy add a bit more butter until it smooths out a little. Add onion and continue to whisk, turn heat up to medium and allow the substance to continue to heat through and cook the onion a bit. Once onion is slightly cooked add half and half, Continue to stir. The sauce will begin to thicken in a few minutes, once it does turn back the heat to low.  Continue to stir and add cheese. Remove lid from Kale and allow liquid to cook off while you keep your eye on the cream sauce. Once most of the liquid is cooked off add Kale and cream sauce together and mix.

Do you have your Thanksgiving menu ready?!




How to get your husband to eat his vegetables

I think I’ve expressed this before,  Andrew is a total meat, potatoes, and bread kind of man. While I am a bit of health nut and love my  fruits and vegetables. So naturally I keep our meals fairly healthy and filled with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats with a few treats thrown in between. It’s all about the balance, right?

He usually eats our meals without much complaint, unless he really doesn’t like something, but he never really loves the vegetable part. That is until I made this pan roasted Lemon Garlic Broccoli this week.

I bought two crowns of broccoli this week and decided to try something new with the first one earlier this week. I wanted something quick, and full of flavor. I got a little guidance from a few cookbooks I have in order to come up with this. The outcome was great, and Andrew asked if there was more. Another helping of vegetables? What happened to my husband? I told him that there was no more, but that we had another crown of broccoli and that I would make it again later in the week. He said I could make this dish anytime I wanted, and in fact I could make all our vegetables with garlic and lemon from now on and he would be very happy to eat them! WIN!

I served this dish with some venison steaks, oven roasted squash, and some red wine! Delish!

So if you have a picky eating husband when it comes to vegetables, just add some  garlic, lemon, and parmesan cheese and they are happy to eat them!

Pan Roasted Garlic and Lemon Broccoli

1 crown of broccoli, cut and washed

Olive oil

1 clove garlic

3 TBS water

1 TBS lemon juice

Directions: Heat a pan over medium heat with olive oil. Add broccoli and roast on one side until lightly browned, then flip the broccoli to the other side. After that side is slightly roasted add a clove of garlic and stir around, then add the water and cover the pan and let the broccoli cook until it is bright green (about 5 min). Remove cover and add lemon juice and let the remaining water cook off. Serve as is or top with some Parmesan cheese.

Kale Pesto

I absolutely love pesto. The fresh herbs, the olive oil and Parmesan cheese goodness! It is just so fresh tasting and so simple in flavor. Plus, is there any herb better than basil?  I can just never bring myself to use practically my entire basil plant in just one recipe I just don’t have the patience for my basil plant to grow back. So, I have never made pesto.

So,  you can imagine I was super excited when I came across this recipe for Kale Pesto. I figured it was too good to be true, so I gave it a whirl.

I am constantly buying Kale, because I know how good it is for me and I want to eat it, but then I can never think of awesome things to use it for. It is just one thing I haven’t gotten too experimental with. I tried a green smoothie with it once, oh no, NEVER again! One secret I have found is that it needs to be cooked and/or combined with an acid to bring out its best flavor. Then, of course it always comes in large quantities, so I need to think of ways to start using it. I think I found a pretty good one!

Was there anything that Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and lemon ever made taste bad?

I chose to use walnuts as my ‘nut of choice’ but pesto is traditionally be made with pine nuts.

I also poached a chicken breast and shredded it into the pasta, but this can easily be enjoyed without.

Kale Pesto

Adapted from acozykitchen

3-4 cups loosely chopped kale

2 handfuls of basil (about 1 cup)

1 garlic clove, roasted if desired

2 TBS lemon juice or one small lemon

1/3 cup walnuts (or other nut you have on hand)

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt, Pepper, or red pepper flakes (for some heat)


Chopping Kale,  discarding the thick stems.  Heat a pan over low-med heat to toast walnuts.  Bring a salted stock pot of water to boil. When the water is boiling put in the kale for about 4 minutes. Then drain it in a colander until it you are able to handle it.

Squeeze the liquid out using paper towels or a salad spinner.  If you are sensitive to garlic like I am, I highly suggest sauteing the garlic at this time on the stove rather than placing a whole raw clove in to the processor. Place walnuts, olive oil, garlic, and lemon in a food processor and process until combined.  Once these ingredients are blended add the kale, and process until it resembles an herb paste. Add more olive oil if it is clumpy.

Spoon over pasta and mix if you are using it immediately (can also be thinned with reserved pasta water) or store in the fridge for several days to use later in the week, or you may freeze it in small batches for a quick meal.

Corn Chowder in Bread Bowls



I have been on a huge soup kick lately as the weather has been cooling down. Last night was to be the coldest night we’ve had thus far, and as we spent our Sunday laying around I thought about how good some true comfort food would taste. Nothing says comfort food like hot goodness in a bread bowl! It was a joint effort, there is nothing I love more than spending a lazy Sunday cooking with my Husband. I took charge of the soup and he took charge of the bread bowls.

One soup that I have always wanted to make was corn chowder. It’s not one of those soups I ever think to make when I’m whipping up a large vat of soup, but it is one I always look at and think wow that looks good. Though, I had to find just the right recipe because a creamy soup with just corn and spices sounded pretty boring to me! I like a soup loaded with veggies and flavor, and this soup is just that!

I started off the soup with chopping a whole onion and two bell peppers and sauteing them in 4 tbs of butter. Next I added some mushrooms, the corn, a little bit of flour (for thickener), some chicken stock (you could use vegetable stock if preferred), 1 cup of fat free half and half, 1 cup of milk, and some spices. Then let it all simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes.

While the soup was simmering I  chopped green onions, and measured out the cheese which were to be added once the other flavors had some time to mesh.


Long before I was prepping the soup, Andrew got to work on the bread bowls by adding all the ingredients to the breadmaker. After the kneading and rising cycles were complete he removed the dough from the bread maker and shaped them into balls on an oiled tray, covering them with plastic wrap for about 1 hour to rest.

While the rolls were baking and the soup was simmering, we  took it upon ourselves to have a little fun and snap some Christmas card pictures on our porch 🙂


Then we came in out of the cold for a delicious, warm meal 🙂


Corn Chowder in Bread Bowls

Adapted from: Pioneer Woman Corn and Cheese Chowder

4 TBS butter

1 whole onion, diced

2 bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup mushrooms

1/4 cup flour

2.5 cups chicken broth

1 cup fat free half and half (you can use regular)

1 cup 1% milk (any milk will do)

2 cups cheese (I used 1 cup chedder, 1 cup mozzarella)

1/3 cup green onions

2 tsp thyme

2 tsp tarragon

Salt, Pepper, Red pepper flakes to taste


Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms cook for several minutes. Add bell pepper and corn, cook for a few more minutes. Add flour, stir to distribute evenly and prevent clumping. Add broth, let simmer for a few minutes. Add half and half and milk and any spices. Let simmer 20 minutes. Add cheese and green onions and stir to incorporate. Let simmer for 10 minutes and serve.

Bread Bowls

Adapted from: Italian Bread Bowls

We also halved the recipe, which made plenty more than we needed.

1 package yeast (.125 ounces)

1 1/4 cups warm water

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 TB vegetable oil

3.5 cups flour

1.5 TB cornmeal

1 egg white

1 TB water


Dissolve yeast, sugar, and water and let stand until foamy (about 10 minutes). Mix in ingredients through flour, reserving cornmeal, egg, and water for later. (this is where you just turn on your bread machine, if you have one)

Knead on a floured surface for several minutes, place in an oiled bowl and set to rise in a warm place for about 40 minutes.

Once rising in complete punch down, and shape into desired number of  round bowls, and place on a cookie sheet that is oiled and lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover to rest and rise for about 30 more minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix egg white and water together and brush lightly over rolls. place in oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cut out the top and scoop out lightly with a spoon to make your bowl.



Not your usual Egg Sandwich

Post run yesterday I was famished, so I gazed around the kitchen for a good recovery lunch. Protein, Carbs, Fat, fruits, veggies, and something filling. I think this hit the nail on the head. English muffins were BOGO (buy one get one free) last week at the store, so we’ve been loving them lately, and eggs are my go-to sandwich filler when I don’t have meat on hand ( we lived on egg sandwiches on our honeymoon). The sauteed spinach adds a nice touch instead of typical cold lettuce, and I’m pretty much in love with dijon these days, on everything. It was a perfect sandwich. So perfect it’s going to be lunch again today 🙂

Not your usual Egg Sandwich

1 whole wheat english muffin

1 slice provolone cheese

1 handful spinach

1 egg

1 slice tomato

1 tbs dijon mustard


Cook egg in a fry pan as desired (I like my eggs just cooked, no runny egg here! While cooking split the english muffin, toast if desired and top with dijon. Once the egg is done place it on the top half of an English muffin and cover with cheese, so the cheese can melt a bit. Place a tomato slice on the bottom half. Throw a handful of spinach in the pan and wilt, place on top of the tomato and put the whole sandwich together. You’ve got a perfect breakfast, brunch, or lunch! ** Avocado is also an excellent addition here but we didn’t have any**