Oatmeal Cranberry Pecan Comfort MuffinsPrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

Sometimes the best therapy is curling up with a cup of coffee, a warm homemade muffin and a little piece in quiet.

Or a bottle of wine… massage… vacation.

Annnnd I’ll take one of each please!!

Damn, it’s been a tough few weeks. So many things have come up recently that have made the grieving process that much harder. Plus, the hormones and lack of sleep from being a new mom don’t help.

Last week, my sister and I stood in front of a packed ballroom. Bright lights and microphone, eyes and ears all on us. We already had tears in our eyes before we made our way to the stage. There was an incredibly long pause as I tried to get out the first words. “Most of you in this room knew our mom…”

We were asked to speak at a fundraiser luncheon for the non-profit, Art with Heart. Mom served on the board before becoming President of this organization. During the course of seven years, she helped merely 800 children who had experienced some sort of trauma.

To honor her and to continue her legacy, we didn’t hesitate when asked.

Now, we prepare for the next one.

 

Tomorrow we stand in front of nearly 500 people to tell our story. This time, a fundraiser for Hospice.

This is very close to our hearts as they were such a special part in our journey.

Writing these speeches have been incredibly emotional, as you could imagine. Then practicing again, and again saying the words, “mom died of a brain tumor in 2014″ just never gets easier.

I know with both the writing and the public speaking, we’re getting just a little more complete in our loss journey. I’d also like to think that those listening will find comfort and peace in their journey as well.

This sounds funny, I know, but I feel that losing mom has made me a better person.

Whether someone is putting their grief and anger on me or I’m faced with a hard conversation or even just my reaction to my toddler’s full blown tantrum, I just think of my mom and what her advice would be. It’s always clear what she’d be telling me.

I hope that never goes away.

 

 

While mom was sick, a family friend brought over these muffins and before the night was over, we’d eaten them all. Clearly, we needed a little ‘comfort food’. After that, we had requested the same muffins every time she offered to bring something.

Ever since, I make these muffins every time we or someone else needs a little comfort.

 

 

Okay, enough with the tears and more about these muffins!

The muffins are light and won’t leave you feeling guilty. They aren’t overly sweet, but just the right amount of sweetness that if feels like a treat. If I don’t pack them in a care package, I’ll eat them for breakfast with my coffee or enjoy as an afternoon snack. My son also loves these muffins and I don’t feel bad sharing them with him.

Of course, they’re best eaten warm and my favorite, a little smear of coconut oil!

So, whatever your therapy is, here’s a little piece of comfort from me.

 

 

Gluten-free Oatmeal Cranberry Pecan Muffins

Recipe adapted from Dr. Oz

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk + 1/3 cup
  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • turbinado sugar for topping – optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Grease muffin pan with a little butter or non-stick spray.

Add the oats and 1 cup buttermilk in a large bowl (you’ll eventually add ingredients so make sure there’s room).  Stir well until the oats are nicely coated.  Cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the cranberries and pecans.

Uncover the oat mixture and add in the oil, egg and brown sugar. Add in the reserved 1/3 cup buttermilk & mix together.

Add the oatmeal combination into the dry ingredients.

Stir to combine, but careful not over-stir. It’s okay if its lumpy.

Pour or scoop with ice cream scooper the batter into the greased muffin pan. Optional – top with a little raw or turbinado sugar. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove the muffins and let sit for about 5 minutes before removing them from the pan.  Place on a cooling rack.

Also good with a little slab of coconut oil!

Best eaten within the first few days of making.

 

*I had the best results with Cup4Cup gluten-free flour. Next best were Arrowheads gluten-free flour and King Arthur gluten-free flour. 

*gluten-free

 

Kale Salad with Apple, Hazelnuts & BACONPrint Recipe Print Recipe

I love when my friends have babies.

And I love that I can still celebrate from afar because of this crazy thing called a VIRTUAL BABY SHOWER!!

I’m so excited to celebrate & surprise my good friend, Jess !!!!!

When we first met (in real life), I was pregnant with my first. We were roommates at a conference, along with Bev and Jenna so you can imagine the laughs we had. It’s crazy to think that the last time we were roommates,  we were both knocked up shortly after. Gotta love a warm cozy winter!

 

 

So yeah, the theme is trashy and this is my trashy salad.

It’s green.

It’s a big pile ol’ ingredients.

There’s bacon.

And you eat it with your hands.

I’m kidding. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend it in public, but I did finish this plate with my fingers – to keep with the theme, of course.

Trashy or not, we love you Jess and cannot wait for sweet little baby face to fill our instagram feeds!

 

 

I made one of my favorite salads for this special occasion.

When my sister and I went on our “sistermoon” in Santa Barbara we had one of the most amazing dining experiences. One of the dishes was a kale salad that I immediately came home and remade it. The version we had came with dates instead of bacon. I’ve made both versions and the two are equally delicious. So, if you don’t eat bacon, you can easily swap out for dates (chopped).

The salad is all nutty, yet refreshing, but crunchy and of course salty. It’s all sorts of awesomeness piled on top of each other.

I do wish I could make this for you in real life. And then we’ll have a sleepover and stay up way too late talking about everything we possibly can until we pass out. Oh yeah, good times.

 

 

Now that we’ve talked about food, let’s move on to babies.

Here are some of my favorite things / tips that have worked for me, also a new (again) mom:

  • If you have any trouble with breast feeding, take full advantage of lactation consultants – a brilliant service, usually connected to the hospital.
  • Load up on easy to grab snacks - oatmeal bites, fruit snacks, crackers, dried fruit, rice cakes & pb, etc. Breast feeding makes you HUNGRY. And thirsty. Even at 2am.
  • If the nursery is upstairs, have a changing “station” downstairs. You’re going to want that energy for something else.
  • I don’t know if this works for other people, but I cluster feed at night and then right before bed, I top him off with a bottle of pumped breast milk. And he SLEEPS for a really long time. It’s almost like I’m druging him, but I’m not. I promise, it’s just breast milk.
  • We love our Podster so much that I already sent one to Jess. We keep it on the couch, dining table, our bed or wherever and can set him down when we need to get up (or sleep).
  • Swaddle. Especially if there’s velcro involved. It’s magic – for most babies, at least.
  • Buy a shit ton of burp rags. It’s amazing how much and how often these little ones puke. The Aden and Anais are our favorites because they stay on your shoulder. But for abundance, we stock up on good ol’ cloth diapers.
  • What else am I missing??

 

Okay, it’s time to go try everyone else’s trashed up food!

And a HUGE thank you to Bev & Ashley for coordinating! Love you, ladies <insert wink/kiss face emoji>.

 

trashed up salads

  1. Gimme Some Oven – Asian Broccoli Salad with Peanut Sauce

  2. The Lemon Bowl – Brussels Slaw with Tahini Dressing and Za’atar Crostini

  3. With Style & Grace – Kale Salad with Apple, Hazelnuts & Bacon

trashed up cocktails

  1. Dine & Dish – Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail

  2. Food For My Family – Cranberry Orange Dark and Stormy Cocktail

  3. Minimalist Baker – Bourbon Pumpkin Milkshakes

  4. Stylish, Stealthy & (sometimes) Healthy – Apple Cider Shandy

  5. A Spicy Perspective – Preggy Punch Mocktail

  6. Girl vs. Dough – Boozy Maple Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake

  7. Honestly Yum – Maple Bacon Pisco Sour

  8. Cookin Canuck – Pink Grapefruit Margaritas

  9. A Thought For Food – Mezcal Citrico Cocktail

  10. A House in the Hills – Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer

  11. The Novice Chef – Ginger Bourbon Apple Cider

  12. Bran Appetit – Citrus Cider Punch Floats

trashed up burgers

  1. Edible Perspective – Meatloaf Veggie Burgers with Mashed Potatoes + Gravy

  2. The Little Kitchen – Salmon BLT Sliders with an Avocado Aioli & Brie

  3. Daisy At Home – Balsamic Beef Burger with Mac and Cheese

  4. Cookies & Cups – Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger

  5. Climbing Grier Mountain – Trashed-Up Steak Burger with Chicken Fried Bacon & Dijon Gravy

  6. Dessert For Two – Bleu Cheese Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries

  7. Country Clever – Fig Rosemary Roast Chicken Brie Brussels Sprout Panini

  8. Foodie Crush – The Best Cheeseburger Soup

  9. Lady and Pups – Spicy Sambal Chicken Meatball Sub with Eggs

  10. Two Peas & Their Pod – Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese

  11. Bake Your Day – Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

trashed up tacos

  1. Spoon Fork Bacon – Crunchy Ground Beef and Cheesy Tacos

  2. The Fauxmartha – Boozy Beef and Butternut Tacos

  3. With Food + Love – Harvest Hash Breakfast Tacos

  4. Mountain Mama Cooks – Crispy Kale and Brussels Sprout Tacos with Bacon

  5. Heather Christo – Bahn Mi Tacos with Spicy Sriracha Honey Sauce

  6. A Couple Cooks – Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos

  7. Fitnessista – San Diego Lobster Street Tacos

trashed up desserts

  1. Table for Two – Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate, and Brown Butter Shortbread Bars with Sprinkles

  2. My Name is Yeh – Mini Vanilla Loaf Cakes, All Trashed Up

  3. Picky Palate – Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Sprinkle Cupcakes

  4. Sprinkle Bakes – Cake Batter Confetti Cupcakes

  5. Averie Cooks – Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

  6. Sweet Phi – Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars

  7. Love & Olive Oil – Loaded Junk Food Brownies

  8. Lauren’s Latest – Bakery Sugar Cookies

  9. Cookie + Kate – Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey and Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

  10. Flourishing Foodie – Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

  11. The Sugar Hit – Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Cake

  12. Hummingbird High – Breakfast Cereal Cake Donuts

  13. Top With Cinnamon – Triple Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Crumb Cake

  14. Bake at 350 – Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sundaes

  15. Simple Bites – Lemon Layer Cake

  16. Bakerella – Baby Block Cake Pops

  17. She Wears Many Hats –  Chocolate Covered Grapefruit

trashed up pizza

  1. Bev Cooks – Beer Battered Fried Calamari Pizza

  2. Rachel Cooks – Apple and Chicken Sausage Pizza with Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Crust

  3. Foodie With Family – Trashed Up Barbecue Turkey Pizza

  4. Shutterbean – Pesto Potato Bacon Pizza

  5. i am a food blog – Grilled Cheese Pizza

  6. My Life as a Mrs – Chili Cheese Dog Pizza

  7. Simply Scratch – Steak + Blue Cheese Pizza with Crispy Fried Shallots and Honey Balsamic Drizzle

  8. The Beeroness – Beer Cheese Tater Tot Pizza

  9. Yes I Want Cake – Roasted Pumpkin Pizza

  10. Two Red Bowls – Bacon Mashed Potato Pizza

  11. Dula Notes – Pork Bahn Mi Pizza

  12. Weelicious – Trashed Up Mexican Pizza Pockets

  13. Take a Megabite – Roasted Beet Pizza

  14. Hungry Girl Por Vida – Hard Cider Braised Pork with Sour Cherries and Cheesy Polenta

  15. Bakers Royale – Trash’d Street Tacos

 

Kale Salad with Apple, Hazelnuts & Bacon

Serves about 4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of kale, stem removed & chopped
  • 1/2 green apple, julienned
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly chopped
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2-3  (or heaping 1/3 cup) stripes of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 2-4 ounces of Pecorino Romano (sheep cheese), grated or crumbled

Dressing

Adapted from New York Times Cooking

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

Directions

Prepare dressing – In a medium sized bowl, whisk together together shallot, vinegar, mustard, and salt + pepper. Continue to whisk while you add olive oil. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl, massage the kale with 2-3 tablespoons of dressing.

Add apple, carrots, hazelnuts, bacon and top with grated pecorino cheese. Toss with a little salad dressing at a time – you won’t need the entire amount. Taste & add more if needed.

Top with a little more cheese and freshly ground pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

*gluten-free

 

Healthy Buffalo Chicken MeltsPrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

This whole two kid thing is kind of kicking my ass.

Forget the grocery shopping and making sure there’s dinner on the table 7 days a week, I just finished my <errr 2013> taxes!

Can we say master procrastinator?

Yep, 100%. Right here.

Alright back to business. Sorry, had to get off my chest. Felt like it was a good 10 pounds I just lost.

Speaking of weight. More like baby weight. Ugh. Nevermind.

I’m just trying to make healthier decisions. But aren’t we all?

My goal is to make 2-3 main meals a week so I don’t snack all day. Having an infant attached to my breast or glued in my arms and a demanding toddler, it’s hard not to snack on salty (current addiction is tortilla chips and hummus) or sugary foods that are right at my finger tips. I mean, they’re just so good. And easy. It just doesn’t feel great afterwards.

Recipes like this, I double the chicken mixture so there would be leftovers to put on salads, more melts or simply eat with a fork. Soups have also been great because all I have to do is reheat.  Another “trick” is keeping the blender on the counter as a reminder to make smoothies.

Now I just need to increase my vegetable intake…

 

 

I’ve made probably five recipes from the SkinnyTaste Cookbook. Our absolute-make-again- favorites were these Buffalo Chicken melts and then the Slow-Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili Verde and the Baked Potato (with Cauliflower!) Soup. My husband and I, in food heaven. Amazing, ALL of it.

All the recipes are low calorie and made with all natural ingredients. The bonus for all of you, a lot of them are gluten-free!

It’s just the beginning. We’re eating our way through this baby.

 

Buffalo Chicken Melts, Gluten-free (option)

Slightly adapted from SkinnyTaste Cookbook

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded chicken or breast meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise (I used regular)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Frank’s RedHot sauce
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 slices of gluten-free bread (she uses multigrain), slightly toasted
  • 8 thin slices tomato (I used 4 larger slices)
  • 4 slices reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese

For the Slow Cooker:  

  • 3 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 onion, quartered (optional)
  • 1 celery stalk (optional)
  • 1 sprig of fresh parsley (optional)

Directions

Slow Cooker Chicken 

In a slow cooker, combine chicken breasts, enough broth or water to cover the chicken, onion, celery stalk, and parsley – if using. Cover and cook on high 4 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred it with two forks. Discard the remaining liquid and vegetables. Leftover chicken can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

 

Buffalo Chicken Melts 

Adjust the oven rack in the top third of the oven and preheat broiler

In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, carrots, celery, red onion, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and cayenne (if using).

Arrange the toast on a baking sheet and put 1-2 slices of tomato on each.  Divide the chicken salad evenly among the slices and top with 1 slice of pepper Jack. Broil until the cheese is golden and bubbling, about 2 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to avoid burning.

Serve hot and enjoy!

 

*gluten-free

 

Maternity Photos by Catherine AbeggPrint Recipe Print Recipe

All photographs by Catherine Abegg // 35 weeks

 

I didn’t do maternity photos with Mason, our first born.

I loved my belly, but was so uncomfortable in my skin. I was sick most of my pregnancy. I didn’t buy cute maternity clothes. My face looked pregnant. Why would I pay someone to photograph me?

But I wish I had.

 

Having lost my mom recently and going through photographs, all we wanted and all we dug for were the photographs of her or her with our family. The older the better.

Knowing that we would be done at two, I called up photographer, Catherine Abegg who had previously done our family photos and asked if she could get a few shots of the belly.

My cell phone selfies just weren’t going to cut it.

 

Holding our son in my arms, I look back at these and it almost brings a tear to my eye.

I may not have loved every day being pregnant, but I loved my belly. Even more, I love that my body grew two healthy, beautiful boys.

That’s what maternity photos should be about. Celebrating and embracing the beauty of what our bodies can do.

And these have done just that. As well as capture the pure happiness that’s written all over my face.

 

 

I would have loved to do a maternity session with Mason and Ben, but honestly, I was so tired. And HOT. I just wanted an easy half hour or so to play around in her studio. And that’s what we did and it was SO fun.

In the next few weeks, we’re having her come to our chaos home to capture the whole family. I’ve never liked family photos, but now I treasure them. I also feel they’ve taught me to be less critical and embrace the imperfections. Or maybe that just comes with age?

 

 

I pulled out this silky blue dress for a few shots. It isn’t maternity, but one of the most special pieces in my closet.

Several years ago, my mom took me shopping for my 28th birthday. My clothes hadn’t been fitting and wasn’t feeling great in my skin. I had flown in from California where my husband and I had been living. Her and I went shopping where she bought me this dress and a few other pieces. We got our hair done and lunched at our favorite spot. It was a perfect day.

A week after, I found out I was 4 weeks pregnant with out first son.

It doesn’t matter what size I am, that dress makes me smile. And it makes me think of the memories with mom.