Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Black Bean Quesadillas

One of my family's favorite quick meals is a good quesadilla. Even Mr. Picky will eat them. As long as they're cheese. And not any of those "weird" cheeses. Monterey Jack, Colby, or other similar mild melty cheeses. Luckily, it's pretty east to customize quesadillas.

Anyways, this summer, living in a new town, we started with a new CSA. And through that CSA, I discovered shishito peppers. They are delicious, mild, and the name is fun to say. And they are fantastic in this quick and healthy quesadilla recipe!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Irish Apple Pie

I'm a big fan of autumn, especially all the food-centered holidays. And the warm, spice flavors, and the hearty produce. I love sweater weather. And yes, pumpkins. But one of my favorite fall flavors is apple.

Since I was a kid, we've gone apple picking in the fall, gorging ourselves on apples right off of the tree and cider donuts and hot apple cider from the farmstand. It's something I enjoy doing with our kids too, and they look forward to it every year as much as I do. One of the small drawbacks about having food-conscious kiddos is that they are fully aware of what can be done with delicious fresh produce, so they have a tendency to go overboard and pick ALL THE THINGS. Long story short, every fall, we have plenty of apples. For a small army of hungry fruit addicts.

This recipe for Irish Apple Pie has been one of my favorites since I started cooking. It's really simple to put together, using a food processor to do the hard work. The ingredients are straightforward, and I'm guessing you probably already have everything you need in your kitchen. And the taste is delightful. One of those magical moments where the simplest of things are elevated when put together in the right way to make something so satisfying that you can't help but sigh as you taste it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Eggplant Parmesan Pasta

There are a lot of vegetables that I think get overlooked. Eggplant, for me, used to be one of them. Sure, they're pretty, what with their shiny purpleness and all, but they also can be intimidating. But this dish, this one, is a game changer for eggplant. I'm telling you, when I make this, it gets actual cheers from my family. Cheers, I tell you! Also, as with many of my favorite recipes, it's really easy, quick to put together, and gets some good healthy stuff into your hungry mouths.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Good Ol' Peanut Butter Balls

Kids' sports are kind of insane these days. Don't get me wrong, I do think that kids should be active, and also that they should do well in school, and that they should get enough down time, and twelve hours of sleep a night, and 3 solid healthy meals a day, and plenty of one-on-one time with a loving parent...   Look, if you can tell me how to make all of this happen in just 24 hours and then keep it going day after day after day, PLEASE fill me in!

Afternoons and evenings have been crazy for us with football season. The kids get home from school and there's about 2 hours before we have to start getting ready and off to practice, which is two hours long, and then we're eating dinner at about 8:15 at night. Those two hours after school are packed with completing homework, chores, whatever social/electronics time the kids get for the day, prepping to make dinner smoother, and getting a good snack in them before they go to get 2 hours on the field in.

I've mentioned before that my little man is super picky. He still doesn't eat meat, except in bacon or chicken tender form. But he's a tackle, a big guy on the team, and he's got to have that protein to build up those muscles. So I'm scrambling to get every ounce of good stuff into him. Yogurt, cheese, milk, and the constant favorite: peanut butter.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Magical Granola Dust

I think that every parent walks the line between feeding their kids healthy food and feeding their kids food that they don't have to fight with them over. With my kids being more active lately, they need more energy, and they always seem to be "staaaaaaarving". So, when I can find recipes that they enjoy that are easy and nutritious, I feel like I've hit the jackpot.

Granola dust is one of those recipes. I came across the idea from a Jamie Oliver recipe, and adapted it to better suit my kids' tastes. It's packed full of nutritional powerhouses like oats, nuts, seeds, and antioxidants, and I tried to keep the sugar down while still making it sweet enough that my kids don't feel tempted to add their own. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Korean-Style Quick Beef and Veg

So, I promised to get back to blogging recipes. And as much as I love cooking and eating and all things food related, this is ending up being a much more difficult task for me than it has any right to be. So, be gentle on me as I slog through this.

You see, it's been a crazy few years for me. Growing kids with increasingly hectic schedules, family members dealing with life-threatening issues, job changes, and to top it all off, a move. Don't get me wrong, things aren't dire or anything. In fact, they're quite good, knock on wood. But it just makes for the type of situation where here it's coming around to the end of 2017 already and I still haven't sent out last year's Christmas cards with our change of address. THAT kind of crazy.

The other thing that I find complicating is my own sense of perfectionism. I have a difficult time doing things if I don't feel like I can do them the way I think they should be done. I like to show you pictures of all the steps of the recipes I make. I like to have a lighthearted banter in the way I write. I like the food to be easy to make and also delicious. Most of the times, those are not a problem, but right now, the first of those is giving me stress. In the house we moved to, the kitchen is really great, in terms of functionality and usability, and while it needs some renovation, that's probably about 5 years or so down the road at this point. But it's in the center of the house. And while our kitchen has always been the figurative center of our home, it wasn't the literal center before. Which may not seem like it's a big deal, or something that would affect my blogging, but...

...There's no natural light in my kitchen. Which suuuuuuuuuucks for taking pictures. Typical house lighting makes for weird shadows and altered coloring, and I'm not yet really great at photo editing. So I either have to skip all the pictures (Nooooooo! But maybe work with fewer...), take food I want to shoot to other rooms that have natural light (awkward, but yes), deal with shoddy pictures (ugh, hopefully not too often), learn how to preform miracles in photoshop (working on it), get a lightbox or other tools to enable better pictures (on my Christmas list), or just deal with that the pictures kind of are what they are and still forge ahead with the blogging while looking for ways to improve the photographic situation.

So, that's what I'm doing. Like I said, be gentle with me.

And now, back to the food!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Illinois Harvest Dinner 2017


Hey, blog's been a while.

A lot has happened, and maybe some day I'll get into all that, but today is not that day. Because last week, I attended an amazing event, and I have to share all about it!

Somehow, in the vast sea of karma that I ride in life, I have been blessed with the opportunity to get to know people in many areas of the food industry, and in particular, farmers. One of those people that I am so thankful to have gotten to know better, Mary Faber, a dairy and grain farmer in central Illinois, invited me to attend the Illinois Harvest Dinner last week. The Illinois Harvest Dinner is a fantastic event that brings together crop and animal farmers, food industry workers, people in the health industry, educators, government officials, and consumers and invites them to have an open and free-flowing discussion about, well, whatever the night brings up.