miscellany

Here are some random bits from all over the interwebs that have been interesting to me lately:

Check out this very fun blog that two of my friends co-write: trailer trash glam. They both live in (or are about to) small mobile home park model trailers on different sides of the USA. They both are fashionistas. They both are bargain hunters/queens of thrift. They both love coffee. Basically, their awesome. 🙂 You’ll enjoy reading about their lives.

great post about how YOU can help with and/or prevent situations like Davion Only’s. There’s something for you.

recipes i’ve tried recently –

  • pumpkin cupcakes from smittenkitchen – absolutely fabulous. The texture is delicate and the frosting divine.
  • cauliflower soup from The Pioneer Woman (i didn’t use nearly as much dairy as the recipe calls for, though. sheesh.)

reminder – MAKE THESE PUMPKIN BARS. I made them again yesterday for company we had last night and for something this weekend and ohhhhh mama.

recipes in queue –

currently 10.0

current reading material: I just finished the Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson – thoroughly enjoyed all three. Such a fun “intro” to Peter Pan. Now I want to read the original book by J.M. Barrie. I’ve enjoyed different incarnations of the story for years, but never have read the original story (based on a play that Barrie wrote).

I’m also reading The Hole in our Holiness and Thinking. Loving. Doing. The former has been really helpful as I consider sanctification and moving toward being more like Jesus, and the latter is kind of hard slogging for my less than academic mind. 🙂 But it’s good too.

I also recently read The Forgotten God by Francis Chan, about the Holy Spirit – kindled a desire for operating more fully in His power.

current songs o’ delight: For my birthday, Kyle gifted me with some new, wonderful music and some old, favorite CD’s from about ten years ago. I’ve been loving Jon Foreman’s Seasons collection…really beautiful, pretty raw lyrically. Good stuff. I also love The Civil Wars new single “The One that Got Away”, though I’m bummed they are probably finished as a duo.

current projects: preparing for Jack’s fourth birthday party! he has requested a “Lion” party, which I am doing my best to create. Not on the grand scale of last year’s train party, but a lion theme nonetheless. 🙂 We’re having a small park party for friends on his birthday and then dinner with family on the day after.

current recipes I’ve tried: 

My friend Janee told me about this recipe for Loaded Baked Potato Salad. Oh yes. It’s amazing. Bacon, cheese, sour cream and potatoes? mmhm. I almost doubled the the dressings and the bacon, and the potatoes taste best if you boil them in salted water. But yeah, it’s great with a freshly grilled burger and some corn on the cob.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the perch and walleye that Kyle and Jack caught on their fishing trip in May. I found this recipe for battering fish and deep frying and I’m totally sold. It comes out so perfectly and tastes incredible with this homemade tartar sauce. I’m just sad that we ate all the fish! Time to go catch more. Maybe Kyle will take me soon.

current hair color: dark brown, but slowly lightening with all the time I’ve been in the sun lately.

current events: last week, we enjoyed a lovely time in northeast WI, spending time in the north woods with our pastor’s family at Northland Camp. It was a kid wonderland and we had such a fun time packing in the activities each day. Much coffee and chatting was shared among the adults too.

upcoming events:

1. Jack’s FOURTH birthday. How is this possible? A week from tomorrow, my firstborn will be four. :sob: He has grown up so much in the past few months. He’s definitely a boy, and I’m so glad he’s ours.

2. Kyle goes to Cass Lake for a very long nine days. 🙂 The kids and I have many fun things planned while he is gone though.

current photos:

I love that her hair is long enough for little pigtails now. 🙂 And that she leaves them in!

recipes of the week

I’m attempting to be more regular about this ol’ blogging thing. 🙂 We’ll see how long THAT lasts, huh? But I used to do a favorite recipe post and I currently have quite the stack of delicious morsels to share with you.

Roasted Apple Spice Cake – deb from smittenkitchen has yet to steer me wrong. I am anxiously awaiting her cookbook, which my sweet friend Lindsey pre-ordered for me for my birthday in June – it should arrive on my doorstep on Nov. 1. One more week! This cake is off the chain fabulous. Simple, not too sweet (which I really appreciate these days) and delicious. I love a fall apple cake warm from the oven – this is one to keep for sure. To make one 9×13 cake like i did (the recipe as written makes a DOUBLE layer sheet cake – which is gigantic), just halve the cake recipe and do 1/3 of the frosting recipe.

Butternut Squash Chicken Stew with Quinoa – I came across this on Pinterest and its been a winner. Everybody likes it in our house. (thank goodness for that!) My only tweaks are to leave out the olives because who likes THOSE in stew? Gross. I don’t like them anytime, but especially not randomly tossed into a stew. Sometimes I also add kale or chard for some extra nutritional punch.

Coconut Chai Coffeecake – yep. so good. Crunchy, dense, buttery topping on a perfect crumbed cake. You’ll want a steaming mug of coffee to cut through the sweetness, but that’s the whole point of coffeecake, yes?

Pumpkin Scones – a basic recipe for recreating something similar to a Starbucks pumpkin scone. But better. I usually skip one of the glazes because otherwise I find them wayyyy too sweet, but that’s just me, I’m sure. I also found that the liquid amount is too little – I always add a bit more than the recipe calls for. Favorite way to do these is to make them the night before, shape them and pop them in the fridge. Then pre-heat the oven in the morning, bake and glaze the hot little bites of fall just before serving. We had these at Taylor’s birthday party earlier this month.

Kale Slaw with Red Cabbage and Carrots – I’m totally obsessed with this salad. I’ve made it approximately 6 times in the past 4 weeks. Thankfully, I have an abundance of kale in my little hydroponic deck garden. The apples, cashews and pop of brightness from the lime juice really make it work. How can something sooo healthy for you taste soooo good? Try it! It would also work with spinach if you’re not a big kale fan. But if you haven’t TRIED kale, I implore you to get some and join the kale party. Stat. It’s such a beautiful salad too.

And now, all the recipes I haven’t yet made, but are on my to-make-ASAP list:

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – I know, right? Two of the best things about fall – pumpkin and baking warm, cinnamon-ey things, put together! I will make a full report on how they are as soon as I make them.

Double Dipped Apple Doughnuts – I think I’d call these deep friend apple rings, but ya know, she didn’t ask me. 🙂 I bookmarked these ages ago. I bet they’ll be tasty!

Earl Grey Chocolate Cake – This week I broke out the tea pot and have been making an enormous cup of strong earl grey with cream and a touch of sugar most mornings. This cake intrigues me to no end…once upon a time I had an Earl Grey truffle at the amazingness that is Theo.

I promise, I do cook really healthily 90% of the time and don’t continually bake my way to 300 lbs. Not that the past three recipes would give you that impression or anything. ahem.

Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli – I will probably not make my own pasta sheets for this (I’m not Martha Stewart, poppets), but i absolutely adore these flavor profiles, so I thought it sounded like something i should make. Totally girly food.

Brussels Sprouts Salad – as addicted as I am to pan-fried or roasted brussels sprouts, I have a sneaking suspicion that I will eat the entire bowl of this salad. Possibly in one sitting. Good thing they come in 2 lb. bags at Costco. 😀

So now that you’ve gained 23 pounds just by reading this post, let me know what delicious recipes you’ve tried lately!

linky love: june 9 edition

what I’ve been reading on the interwebs lately…

On Parenting

  • I recently read this post, namely the “prayer” at the end of it, tonight and totally laughed out loud and teared up too. Finding out we’re having a girl freaks me out in many ways, and excites me in others. But God forbid we even end up outside a Hollister. No ma’am! Of course, she’ll grow up shopping at thrift stores and sale racks, so hopefully she won’t even know Hollister exists. 🙂
  • While I’m on the parenting streak, my husband shared this wonderful post from Kevin DeYoung with me the other day. I really want this for my kids: “I want them to look back and think, ‘I’m not sure what my parents were doing or if they even knew what they’re were doing. But I always knew my parents loved me and I knew they loved Jesus.'”
  • I really like the flavor of parenting suggested in these posts: one rule and lowering the standard. I do not want to be the parent that makes my kids hate the rules or life under our roof, but at the same time, I want them to know how important it is to love God, love others and be a responsible person. I tend to be a very structured, “rules based” person and I want to avoid burdening my kids with a list of do’s and don’ts. basically, I want them to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with their God…not impossible, right? Right. And who wouldn’t LOVE family devotion time more if donuts and cocoa were part of the gig? :raising my hand:
Food
  • These brownies are amazing. With or without the cinnamon and a dash of cayenne tossed in. Oh. mother. Thank you to my friend Bethany for ruining my chance of the cottage cheese being eradicated from my thighs for a while. 🙂
  • I started a batch of Kombucha the other day, thanks to another friend giving me a starter for it. Kyle swears he will not drink anything that has a jellyfish looking thing that some people call a mushroom (but isn’t of the mushroom family at all except for it being healthy bacteria, which could be called fungus I guess). I’m trying to convince him that the result will be a slightly sweet, fizzy drink that will refresh him and help his innards, but I’m not sure he buys it. We’ll see if it turns out! I feel so crunchy making something like this. lol.
  • And I guess I’m on a chocolate kick ’cause i tried these amazingly simple and utterly delicious fudgesicles the other day. Yeah. They will be a regular staple in our summer freezer for shiz. I am going to knock the sugar content down a little next time – they were a bit sweeter than I prefer. I have cute mini popsicle molds that are the perfect size for a tasty little treat after a meal or on a sunny summer afternoon.
Blogs I recently started following:
  • 101 Cookbooks – pretty crunchy, organic-ish, homemade food. I <3.
  • A totally cool concept: Dear Photograph. Taking a picture of a picture from the past in the present. I want to do this but I don’t know where I could…I don’t live near or in any of the houses where I grew up. hmmm…shall ponder. thanks to laura dye for linking it on HER blog!
  • another fabulous photog friend, Katy, is keeping up on her blog and has posted a ton of ADORABLE baby shoots this week. Oh. my. gosh. I wish I could fly her here to take pictures of my little miss taylor when she arrives! picture.me.foto I mean seriously, who doesn’t love a baby in a SUITCASE?! See?
by the fabulous katyhersey of picturemefoto
and with that, I leave you, dear readers. Tonight Kyle and I are taking engagement portraits for his sister Sarah and her awesome fiance’, Ryan in St. Paul. My head is BURSTING with ideas…hopefully we’ll have time and the right conditions to capture what’s in my head through Kyle’s fantastic lens/shutter ability. 🙂 I’m creative director, he is the technical skill. we make a great team. like peanut butter and jelly…its just right.

favorite recipe of the week: fish tacos

I can’t remember where we first enjoyed fish tacos, but since we were introduced, we’ve been “hooked”. Not like your typical American beef and cheese taco at all, these are fresh tasting – bursting with bright and tangy flavors. I like to fry my corn tortillas in a little coconut oil to make taco shells too…but that’s just me. 🙂

My fish taco recipe is a hybrid of a couple I found on allrecipes.com and merged into my favorite way of preparing them. I usually serve it with mexican rice or corn, depending on how much time I have in the kitchen before dinner. The other thing I love about them is they are super fast to whip up since the fish cooks so quickly. The deep-fried taco shells take more time of course, but you can always sub flour tortillas instead.

Fish Tacos ala’ Johanna

Serves 2

1 lb. of cod or other white fish

Marinade:

¼ cup tequila

¼ cup water

½ cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar (turbinado works well)

1 tablespoon chili powder

Marinate fish while preparing the rest of the meal.

White Sauce:

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon dill

½ teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons lime juice or apple cider vinegar

Accompaniments:

½ head cabbage, shredded

1 carrot shredded

Bunch of cilantro, chopped

Green onions, chopped

Lime wedges

Corn or flour tortillas

Fry or grill fish. You can batter it if you wish, but I never do. Fry corn tortillas into taco shells if desired. Top fish in taco shells with cabbage and carrots, cilantro, green onions and white sauce, squeeze limes on top. Additional accompaniments: queso fresco and tomatoes.

Yum!

favorite recipes of the week

this week I just have one recipe to share…a delicious and simple coleslaw recipe from my friend Stephanie. This week I also made these cookies, but they turned out a little dry (I probably added too much flour) and they were a bit too sweet for my taste, but they were devoured nevertheless. 🙂 Stephanie’s Coleslaw (with a kick!) 1 green onion, chopped 1 large carrot, shredded 1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves 1/2 cabbage head Dressing: 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper 2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar Instructions Cut the cabbage into chunks and using a food processor, gently process the onion, parsley and cabbage. Process lightly, making sure the cabbage doesn’t become mushy. I like to process half of the cabbage and then the other half, just to make sure it’s all even. Mix the cabbage mixture together with the shredded carrots. In a separate bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together and allow to stand for a few minutes. Combine the dressing with the vegetables and toss. Chill for 1 hour. Yum!

favorite recipes of the week

almost every week I try a new recipe. I just LOVE new discoveries in the kitchen and thought perhaps some of you might share my delight!

Yesterday I tried two new ones and they were both winners…hope you like them!

Recipe One

I wanted to make chicken cacciatore for dinner. So I went to my trusty Epicurious app on my iPod Touch to find a recipe. The one below was fantastic! My only tweaks to the recipe were these: I used boneless, skinless breasts because thats what I had on hand. Skipped the fennel seed (ew – can’t stand it!), and the dried crushed red pepper because I didn’t have any. It was SOOOO yummy.

Spicy Chicken Cacciatore – Bon Appetit – June 1999

  • 4 chicken breast halves with skin and bones
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound egg noodles, freshly cooked

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and sauté until brown, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; sauté 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate. Add bell pepper and next 4 ingredients to skillet; stir 2 minutes. Mix in tomatoes with juices, tomato paste, wine and vinegar. Return chicken to skillet; spoon some sauce over. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Arrange spaghetti on large platter; top with chicken and sauce.

Recipe Two

Before bed, I threw together this amazing coffee cake to put in the oven in the morning. So far, I have been totally impressed with every recipe I have made from Smitten Kitchen and this one did not disappoint either. In fact, its freakin’ fabulous. It may edge my grandma’s sour cream coffeecake recipe out of its top favorite slot. My tweaks: left out the rhubarb and sprinkled a few mixed berries on part of it because Kyle’s not a big fan of fruit in his coffeecake (but I am!). I also assembled it last night and baked it this morning. It worked just great to do it that way. It’s particularly delicious with a cup of Starbucks Tribute blend to accompany your large piece.

Big Crumb’ Coffeecake with Rhubarb
Adapted from The New York Times 6/6/07

Not rhubarb season? Don’t fret. I think this cake would be amazing with a blueberry, raspberry, sour cherry or any other tangy fruit filling you can think of. Simply adjust the sugar level accordingly–most of these will need far less than rhubarb does to make them palatable.

Butter for greasing pan

For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour (I was out and used all-purpose and it worked great)

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–worked just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

2. To make crumbs [this step now updated, see comment #150] in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.