Chicken Chili with Quinoa

20130226-210918.jpgWe went to the zoo this past weekend. We packed up our baby girl, loaded her in her baby carrier and went to the zoo. We went to the zoo and I cried. We saw the red pandas first. They are so cute and loveable. And they just pace. In circles. Endlessly. In this tiny pen, no bigger then my bedroom. Then it was the river otter, who my husband asked if he was a robot because he kept flipping over. And over. And over. It was the lion that really did it. This majestic African beast, in a foot of snow in Wisconsin. In a pen smaller then my back yard. He started growling and climbed high upon the rock in the middle of his pen. The crowd ooohed and aahhhed and I started crying. Seeing that beautiful creature, unable to hunt, unable to run, with no pride of his own, broke my heart. Even worse was the ignorance of the people around me. It was too much to handle so we just left. On the way home we talked about how we would talk to our daughter about the animals at the zoo when we take her there when she’s older. It hurt my heart to see what we humans have done for our own entertainment. We’ve spent century’s destroying the environment in which these creatures live and then collecting them for our pleasure. It makes me ill.

20130226-211254.jpgSo I came home and drowned my sorrows in a pot and a stove and a glass of bourbon. I made a huge pot of chili. I chopped and sautéed and stewed until it didn’t feel so awful. Something about being at my stove brings me peace. And this chili was the perfect serving of comfort in a bowl. I wasn’t planning on chili but got inspired by some left over quinoa and just went with it. It’s the perfect stew for a cold night when it all just feels like too much. Pair it with a beer or a cocktail and the world melts away.

20130226-211457.jpgChicken Chili with Quinoa

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion
3 bell peppers of varying colors
3 chicken breasts
8 ounces of tomato paste
1 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cayenne(or to taste)
16 ounces diced tomatoes
16 ounces crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
3 cups kidney beans
1 cup cooked quinoa
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 diced green onions
Salt and pepper

1. In a large pot heat olive oil. Dice onions and peppers. Cook until onions are translucent. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces. Add to onions and peppers, cooking until slightly browned. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add chili powder, cumin, sugar, honey, flour and cayenne, stirring to combine. Cook for 1 more minute. Add diced and crushed tomatoes and beans. I used dried kidney beans which i had soaked overnight. Cover with a lid and simmer for 1 hour.

2. Add quinoa, cilantro, green onion and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve with cheddar cheese, sour cream and more cilantro.

5 months

20130219-214334.jpgI can’t believe it’s been 5 months since this beautiful babe came into the world. It seems so long ago, and just yesterday all at the same time. 5 months ago at this time I was drugged into a sleepy stupor after a long hard labor and an even more difficult few hours that followed. My baby, slept 2 floors above me, also drugged into sleep. And tonight she sleeps cuddled against my chest. It’s amazing how life works out sometimes. These 5 months have flown by. I can’t imagine what the next 5 will bring.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pink Cream Cheese Frosting

20130212-094619.jpgValentines day. Does this day make you cringe? I’ve never been too into it. It always seemed like an excuse for women to make the men in their lives spend too much money on some ridiculous frivolity. Or a way to make single people feel bad(don’t even get me started on sweetest day, that one is totally made up). We’ve never done too much for it. Maybe a small gift here or there, occasionally a dinner out. I’ve never really gotten excited about it.

20130212-094749.jpgThis years different. I think everything is different when you have a baby. She makes everything more fun. And makes me want to celebrate valentines day, and love, and put her in ridiculous pink outfits even though I hate the color pink. She looks so cute in it though.

20130212-094903.jpgSo I made some cupcakes. Cute little things with pink frosting. I haven’t made cupcakes in a while, I think I got burned out of them, what with a cupcake shop popping up on every corner (in case you’re wondering this is my favorite cupcake shop). But this morning I decided we needed tiny little cupcakes. Perfect for little hands if only she was old enough to eat them. I went into the kitchen, with my baby strapped to my chest and came up with the softest chocolate cupcakes. Then I topped them with pink cream cheese frosting and sprinkles. She seemed quite entertained by the whole thing. I’m hoping when she’s big enough, she’ll love being in the kitchen with me.

20130212-095041.jpgThese cupcakes bake up in 10 minutes and the frosting is super easy too. Nothing fussy about it, super soft cream cheese frosting that is perfect for swirling on with a knife, no piping required(although I have to admit I find piping so much easier). Bake theses for your sweetie and I’m sure you’ll have a happy heart day indeed!

20130212-095235.jpgChocolate Cupcakes with Pink Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 60 mini cupcakes


2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, melted
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

1 cup(2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red food coloring
Chocolate sprinkles


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. In a large bowl mix flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar together in a stand mixer on high for about 3 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Pour in chocolate, mixing to combine. Add vanilla to milk. Alternating flour and milk, add to butter and eggs, beginning and ending with flour in 3 batches until fully incorporated. Use a small cookie scoop and fill muffin tins. Bake for 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely.

3. Make the frosting. In a stand mixer beat butter and cream cheese until well mixed and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar, 1 cup at time, scraping down bowl between additions. Add vanilla extract. Add food coloring until desired shade of pink is achieved. Frost cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and top with sprinkles.

Brown Butter Apple Coffee Cake

20130206-150711.jpgI am starting to panic. Absolutely PANIC. You see one way or another I have to go back to making some sort of money in March. Which means leaving my babe every day. I can count the hours I have spent apart from her since leaving the hospital on one hand. I don’t like being away from her. I’m just not one of those moms who needs me time. Me time consists of a bubble bath while daddy watches her. Seriously that’s enough.

But sadly unless some rich benefactor decides to finance my life in the next few weeks here, I’m going to be going back to work. Just when my baby has developed separation anxiety. And seemingly achieved object permanence. Like 4 months ahead of schedule. She barely lets her father hold her for extended periods of time, much less anyone else. I’m extremely fortunate that my parents will be the ones caring for her, but I’m still loosing it. I picture myself walking out the door, and her melting down. Tears, screaming until she’s blue(which in her case is not a good thing). I can’t help it I’m thinking about this day and night. Definitely not doing a good job on my whole living with less fear goal on this one.

20130206-150903.jpgSo we’re preparing. Seeing grandma and grandpa every other day at least. Me spending at least 20 minutes or more away from home(without her) every day. And I’m baking. Cooking and baking to keep my mind off things. This baby smells fear. She’s kind of like her k9 siblings that way. If you approach her with nerves, she absolutely looses it.

So I made a coffee cake. My love of all things baked for breakfast led me to it. I threw in some apples. And browned butter. Because really every baked good is only improved by the addition of brown butter. This cake is everything a coffee cake should be. It’s moist and fluffy with burst of apple in every bite. The brown butter and crumb topping are the real reason for this cake. Everything else is just filler. It has rich golden color from the brown sugar and brown butter. I could happily eat this every morning. But it won’t last that long.

This cake is best warm with a frothy hot latte.

20130206-151351.jpgBrown Butter Apple Coffee Cake


2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup diced apples(about 3 small apples)
2 apples sliced

Crumb topping:

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 13×9 inch pan. In a small saucepan brown the butter. Melt butter over medium hear until it begins to sizzle and pop. Small brown flecks will begin to appear and the butter will start to smell nutty. Cook until butter is brown in color, but not burned. Remove from heat immediately. Cool slightly.

2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine browned butter and sugars. Cream until well mixed. Add oil, eggs and yolk, milk and vanilla. Slowly add flour mixture and beat until incorporated.

4. Dice apples and add to batter. Pour batter into pan. Slice remaining apples and arrange on top of batter.

5. Make the crumb topping. With your fingers mix sugars, flour, cinnamon and butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over cake. Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Super Spinach Smoothie

20130201-154931.jpgLately I’ve been obsessed with eating well. No just eating healthy, but fulfilling, nourishing food. Things that make my mouth and body happy. Things that leave me feeling better then I began.

I’ve alway had a love for smoothies, as long as I’ve owned a blender, frozen beverages have been in my life. There was a time I’m afraid to admit that they came from a bottle full of who knows what mixed with ice. Lately I’ve made them even better.

All summer long I stash away produce to be pulled out in the midst of winter when nothing in Wisconsin is fresh and summery. I have bags and bags of frozen berries, peaches, plums and tomatoes. Every day I pull a few pieces of perfectly ripe summer fruit from the freezer and put it in the blender. There it usually meets other fruit like banana, orange and yogurt.

But lately, oh lately, there’s been a new addition. Something you may scoff at and think I’m some crazy health hippie who should live in California(I’m so not). Spinach. Woah. Wait, don’t rule it out so fast. See here’s the thing, I envision the look on my fathers face when I tell him I made a smoothie with spinach in it and I’m pretty sure that’s the look you have right now. A spinach smoothie? From the queen of butter and sugar? But it’s good! So good! And so good for you.

I imagine a few years down the road, this being a phenomenal way to get greens into my little babe. You don’t taste the spinach. I promise! Yes the smoothie takes on an uncharacteristically greenish/brown hue. It may look like sludge, or mud, or something else we wont even begin to mention on a post about food. Don’t let it fool you! It’s still banana strawberry deliciousness. And with the addition of yogurt and spinach it actually makes for a satisfying lunch. I’ve had one of these every day for the past two weeks. And being that I’m currently breastfeeding a babe, I’m pretty much always hungry and this fills me up. Even my husband, the king of cheese pizza and cheeseburgers likes these!! So, go buy yourself some spinach and just do it. Make this smoothie. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

20130201-155106.jpgStrawberry Banana Spinach Smoothie

Makes 1 large smoothie

This recipe is super versatile. You can pretty much swap in and out whatever you want. Raspberries, peaches, orange juice, pineapple. It’s all fair game so do what ever you want!


1 cup frozen strawberries
1 ripe banana
1 clementine, peeled
1 cup packed spinach leaves
1/2 cup yogurt of your choice
1/2 cup whole milk


1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink with a straw and enjoy!