January 26, 2017

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + SWEET POTATO GINGER SOUP WITH HERB PARMESAN CROUTONS

All good things in that title! This is a great soup that looks and tastes really luxurious. The richness is deceptively healthy because of pureed squash and sweet potatoes. I add a tiny drizzle of cream on top but other than that, the richness is already very sufficient on its own. The herbed croutons are the other best part of this soup. The flavors and textures together really create a glorious concoction that is the perfect way to warm up any day!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH, SWEET POTATO + GINGER SOUP WITH BACON AND HERB PARMESAN CROUTONS
3 strips of bacon, chopped in 1/2" pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1(2 - 3 pound) butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
2 large garnet yams / sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
7 cups chicken stock
Heavy cream, for drizzling garnish
Herb Parmesan Croutons, for garnish (recipe below)

Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until rendered and you have a good amount of bacon grease. Remove bacon from pot and place on paper towels. Keep grease in the pot and add the chopped onion. Saute the onion for 6-7 minutes until translucent. Add fresh ginger and saute another minute. Stir in fresh thyme and saute another minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in butternut squash, all the potatoes and the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and season with salt. Let cook over a medium simmer (roughly 30 minutes) until the squash and potatoes are soft.

Using an immersion blender (alternatively, very carefully, transfer to a blender) and blend until very smooth. Return to pot (if you transferred to a blender) and stir to remove any lumps and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Serve with a group of croutons (recipe below), a drizzle of heavy cream, and the reserved chopped bacon.

CROUTONS:
1 loaf of french bread, baguette or rolls (any stale rustic bread will work), cut into 1" cubes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan
Salt + Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until fully coated (you may need a little more olive oil if you feel the croutons aren't evenly coated). Pour onto a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before topping on soup.

January 17, 2017

SPAGHETTI SQUASH, BLACK BEAN, KALE + CARAMELIZED ONION TACOS WITH SRIRACHA LIME MAYO

Look. I love tacos... sooooooo much. It's not like I'm this really unique specimen of the taco obsession variety because, let's get real, every human likes tacos. I like carnita tacos, al pastor tacos, carne / pollo asada, salmon tacos, fried tacos, bean tacos, shrimp tacos, egg tacos... you could put anything in a taco and I would eat it. One of our family's favorite books is Dragons Love Tacos, so it's genetic.
I made these vegetarian tacos for dinner the other night and they were delightful! I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen's wonderful cookbook but adapted it by layering in caramelized onions on the bottom and sauteed kale to amp up the veggies. I also drizzled it with a sriracha lime mayo sauce that I keep in a squeeze bottle and use A LOT (like, embarrassingly a lot). It goes great on all kinds of tacos, baked taquitos, grilled chicken with grilled veggies, etc. It's also a great way to get your kids (and adults) to eat lots of healthy things, while also making it taste amazing. The kale is kind of an adaptation of adding lettuce to a taco, but with triple the nutrients. It's also lightly sauteed so it still has a subtle crunch while also adding great flavor.

Try these, I don't think you'll be disappointed! If you're vegan, you can substitute things in the sauce recipe for vegan mayo, cashew / coconut cream and I'm sure it would still be delightful! Or, you could omit the sauce and amp up the guacamole a bit more. Whatever floats your vegan boat!

SPAGHETTI SQUASH, BLACK BEAN, KALE + CARAMELIZED ONION TACOS
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 large spaghetti squash, halved and seeds scooped out
Olive oil
2 Tablespoons lime juice (from 1-2 limes)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 Tablespoon butter
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 bunch Lacitano or Tuscan kale, washed well, dried and chopped into 2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces crumbled Cotija cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Guacamole, for serving
Sriracha Lime Mayo, for serving

SRIRACHA LIME MAYO
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Mexican style crema (regular sour cream can be used)
1-2 teaspoons sriracha
1-2 limes, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and roast the halves (faceside down) on an oiled baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes in the preheated oven.

While the squash is cooking, preheat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tablespoon butter and a couple of swirls of olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon). Once the butter has melted, add the onions and saute over medium heat until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the onions from the pan and set aside. Do not clean pan. Immediately add another couple swirls of olive oil and add minced garlic. Stir for 30 seconds and then immediately add cleaned, chopped kale. Saute for 5-6 minutes until the kale has wilted and is tender. Remove from pan and set aside in a clean bowl.

To make sauce: mix all ingredients together in a bowl and pour into a squeeze bottle using a funnel. You can also serve from the bowl, but it's worth it to move to a squeeze bottle for easy serving and storing.

January 11, 2017

CHRISTMAS 2016

It feels silly to blog about Christmas now that we're well into January 2017 but I'mma do it anyway! We had David's family here for Christmas and it was almost a white one! There were a couple of days that we had a little bit of snow, which was very fun for the kids. We did our traditions of Mexican food on Christmas Eve, cinnamon rolls for the neighbors, √¶bleskiver + buttermilk syrup on Christmas morning and a new tradition of Prime Rib on Christmas Day. Basically, LOTS of good food! I also got to decorate the table with some fresh holly for our bushes in our yard. It felt very festive!
I also found this one later of William that was taken as I was trying to get the tripod set up. This boy at 7-years-old is pretty fun.
After dinner, we gave the kids their Christmas Eve presents of pajamas. As you can see, the level of excitement (or lack thereof) goes by age. At least Louisa liked her new nightgown - which is adorable and flannel and I want one.
I did not get any great pictures of Christmas morning because a) it was really dark and I am no skilled photographer b) the kids all woke up at different times c) I was tired and emotionally kind of done, so sorry kids - this is what you get! They had a great Christmas though. The ages of our kids this year are really fun for Christmas magic. I feel like they're right at the height of excitement!

William was just really happy to get some Minecraft Legos, Fritz loved a spy gear camera that Santa brought and Louisa has been playing with her new kitchen all day, every day. I'd say it was a successful Christmas!

January 10, 2017

skate, skate, skate

I am so behind on blogging so here I go with a hefty catch-up! David's company had a family ice skating event in downtown Bellevue the week of Christmas. It was in the middle of the work day so it wasn't super well attended, which was very nice for these novice skaters! Fritz spent most of the time being besties with this PVC walker and started to get pretty good at it! I love this sweet smile of his.
Look at him go!

Meanwhile, David and I took turns taking a picture with Louisa and then she hung out with one of us the rest of the time. She did not like being left out but she's too little to skate and it's apparently really dangerous to ice skate while holding a child, so she watched from the sidelines and seemed to be OK with it as long as she had someone to snuggle with.
I have to include this picture because Fritz's fall is just too funny. He caught himself pretty quickly and got right back up - tough cookie! William was quite a bit more cautious and spent most of the time holding onto the sides and moving a few inches here and there. I'm just proud of him for trying something new and slightly scary. This adventure definitely got us all in the Christmas mood!

November 30, 2016

thanksgiving 2016

Welp, it's the last day of November so I better post about Thanksgiving. Good grief, you guys. I am so behind on everything... except decorating for Christmas (which we did the day after Thanksgiving cause I couldn't wait any longer) and I am almost completely done with my Christmas shopping so I think I deserve a huge mug of really good hot chocolate. Right? Right.
OK, on to this wonderful holiday. It was really quiet this year since we decided to stay here for the holidays this year. Traveling to California or Arizona with five people is a PRETTY PENNY around the holidays. Hopefully we can see family in February and I can indulge in all the family time, navel oranges and Mexican food my little heart desires! Anyway, we watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, football while Fritz and I cooked away in the kitchen (he always wants to help in the kitchen). Then, David helped the boys write down some things they were thankful for before we ate so they had plenty of time to think about it.
I made the whole thing this year by myself which was a LOT of work but also fun because I got to pick what we ate. I made a turkey, of course, and it was perfect. Fritz helped me brine that little guy and named him Mr. Yumm. He was. We talked about being grateful for the turkey a lot that day. I also made mashed potatoes (with a mixture of russet and Yukon gold - a great combo) + Gravy, Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows (the way I like them), Lion House Rolls, Sausage, Cranberry and Caramelized Onion Stuffing, Haricot Verts with Lemon + Pine Nut Gremolata. The only thing I didn't make from scratch was the cranberry sauce because, who really cares? I like a tiny bit on my turkey but not enough to make it a big deal. Canned Trader Joe's cranberry sauce did the trick. I did add a little bit of orange zest when I heated it up in a saucepan, but that took like 10 seconds so I don't count it.
Thanksgiving dessert is one of my favorite things but since there was just the five of us, I settled for two kinds. David wanted my pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and I wanted my Chocolate Cream Pie with Cinnamon Pecan Graham Cracker Crust so I compromised (ha) and made both. It was all delicious and we just finished off all the leftovers.
We actually began eating while Louisa was taking her nap but she woke up right after we took this picture using the tripod. Then we all sat down and the boys read off their lists of ten things they are thankful for. It was really sweet to read their gratitude. I love these babies.

I'm so thankful for all the wonderful things in my life. Health, our home, my children, my husband, cooking, jazz music, good books, a job that I like and all the things I've learned about myself, parenting, the world and how to be a better person.