Tuesday Smoothie

I’ve been looking at my personality profile lately (ESFJ for those of you who are interested). Do I have to remind myself who I am? Apparently I do. I have forgotten that new ideas are actually hard for me and that I’m really not that flexible or spontaneous. I like to have a plan and I like to stick to it. You know what else I’ve realized? I always make smoothies for breakfast on Tuesday. I don’t do this intentionally but since I like to solve problems the same way as I have before (ESFJ remember?), it seems that Tuesday is the day that the stars align and I make smoothies. Why not Monday or Thursday? Because getting the blender out on Monday seems like too much work (same goes for Thursday and Friday). I still have bananas in the fruit bowl and it seems like a nice way to switch up the toast they are inevitably going to be served. So from now on, I’m going to embrace the Tuesday Smoothie and just put it on the menu.

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Now, even though I like to serve them on the same day for the same meal, that does not mean that I make the same one each time. We’ve had lots of hits and misses but this is the recipe that I have loved the most.

xoxo,

Rachel

Smoothie

2 – 8 oz servings. I love a creamy smoothie and I’ve found that the combinations of banana, yogurt, and frozen fruit makes for a great combination. I love that it is cold and thick. Feel free to swap out the blueberries for whatever frozen fruit you have on hand. Tip: double this and use the leftovers for frozen popsicles!

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced into chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (non-fat or whole milk is fine but whole milk is the creamiest)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • A few leaves of spinach or kale (optional)
  • Splash of milk or orange juice

Instructions:

Layer ingredients in the blender, adding enough milk or orange juice to get the blender moving. I like to use the “food processor” button on my blender first and then once combined to use the “puree” function until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust as needed. Pour into cups and enjoy immediately.

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Cake

This week has been a bit crazy. Yesterday, I was taking a walk and a crow attacked my hair- twice. I screamed – twice – then put my hood up and got the heck out of there. Then last night, I left the teapot on the burner without any water in it and felt lucky to not start a house fire (though my husband just bought a fire extinguisher for the kitchen, does this say something about my cooking??). And let’s not even talk about our dinner debacles or the washer breaking down. I also applied for the first job in 5 years and quickly received a rejection.

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Do you ever feel like you have to learn the same lessons over and over again? That is how this week has felt. Can’t rush the chicken, I feel best when I exercise daily, and success is how I define it – not how others define it for me. It may take me awhile to get back into the workforce, but I haven’t been wasting my time.

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I set out to have a family and to stay home with my sweet boys. In some ways (most?) what I do as wife and mother holds the most lasting value, but it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. It’s hard to keep that perspective when it feels like laundry and school drop offs. I actually feel selfish wanting a job, something that I say I do. Something that uses the other half of my brain and involves adults. I think this is why I struggle because I feel like I have what I said I wanted and now I want more. So I say thank you to my husband for giving me the opportunity to stay home during these small years and now for encouraging me to go ahead and continue to dream. I also want to stay patient and don’t want to miss the joy of the journey.

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No one understands this better than other stay at home moms. I am so thankful for these ladies. I met most of them at the beginning of our move to Seattle and becoming a stay at home mom. They have been there through teething and speech therapy, through first days and sleepless nights; and they have been such a support through this process of finding a house and making it a home. It seemed fitting to end this crazy week with a celebration. A reminder about all that is good.

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I stumbled upon this recipe and it sounded so lovely and it got me daydreaming about Paris. I decided to use this recipe and add frozen blueberries to the middle to make it more of a breakfast cake. I sprung for the full fat plain yogurt to keep the cake texture from being too dry and crumbly. Lemon and blueberry are one of my favorite combinations and I love the simple syrup that is spooned on top. It was a hit!

xoxo,

Rachel

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Cake

Yields one 9 inch cake. The original recipe comes from Molly Wizenburg’s blog http://www.orangette.com and uses the term “jars” as a measuring unit (so French!) but I am just going to simplify and translate into cups, though I think “jars” is an adorable term. Also, check out this link if you want to learn to zest like a pro.

Cake

  • 1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1  1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Lemon Glaze

  • Juice from 2 medium to large lemons (around a 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan. Place parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and then butter the parchment paper. Baking is so much more enjoyable when I take the time to prepare all the ingredients first, so go ahead and zest the lemons and measure each ingredient out before starting the next step. It will all come together in a snap!

In a large bowl, mix yogurt, sugar, and eggs until well blended. Then whisk in flour, baking powder, and zest and mix until combined into a buttery yellow, smooth, batter. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with frozen blueberries in an even layer (add more if you want!) and top with the rest of the batter, using a spatula to scrape the bowl. Some blueberries floated up but that is ok, I just tucked them back in.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes and then invert the cake pan onto a baking rack to cool completely. Once cooled, wrap in plastic wrap if serving the following day as I did. Once cooled continue on to make the lemon glaze.

Combine lemon juice and powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. I placed mine in the microwave for 10 seconds to make sure it was thoroughly combined. Using a large spoon, slowly spoon glaze over top of the cake. The glaze makes for a nice and shiny finish and soaks into the cake.

Enjoy!

Ham & Swiss Sandwich with Mom

Being a mom is serious business and I am so lucky to have mine. Mom is always there, a constant in the stream of life. So much so that it takes becoming a mom to fully appreciate what it is like to mother.

Mom always has the answer, mom would know what to do, mom would make dinner and fold the laundry. She was there every morning and every afternoon. It seemed as if mom had always been “mom”. As a child, I was always surprised to remember that at one time, she was a little girl just like me.

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My mom holding my twin sister and I. I’m the one looking at the camera.

Now 8 years into motherhood, I know that it was no easier for her than it is for me. I don’t always know the answers, but I do love my children fiercely, in the same way my mom loves me.

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My first day of motherhood.

Every day in high school, my twin sister and I would come home for lunch and I would eat a ham sandwich and we would talk about our day and discuss friends, boys, and teachers.

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It was such a nice reprieve from the business of school work and after school jobs. So today, on Mother’s Day, I will do like I did then and talk to my mom (on the phone this time) over lunch with a ham sandwich. Love you mom!

xoxo,

Rachel

Sliced Ham and Swiss Sandwich

  • 1 hoagie
  • 1 slice of swiss cheese
  • 3 slices deli ham
  • brown mustard
  • 1 leaf of romaine

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a hoagie face up on a baking sheet. Split swiss cheese in half and lay on one side of the hoagie. Place ham slices on the other half. Toast in the oven until the ham is warm and a bit toasty around the edges and the cheese is melted, 5-10 minutes. Take sandwich out of the oven and move the ham to the cheese side. Spread mustard on blank side and add romaine. Close, slice, and enjoy!

Braised Pork Carnitas

FullSizeRender I love making a recipe for the first time. I relish in the focus and intensity that it takes to make a new dish. There is such promise! Will it become a new favorite? The memory of that first time sticks with you and it becomes part of your story.

IMG_0327I also love the way learning new techniques can change the way you look at other recipes. The layering of knowledge allows for more flexibility and creativity in the kitchen. I think of it as a culinary adventure right from my own home.

IMG_0329As much as I love dessert – we have had our fair share this last month and I am ready to make (and eat) something that does not require copious amounts of butter.

IMG_0330And being the first of May, I thought that pork carnitas would be the perfect fit. I have been eying this recipe from Epicurious.com. The pork is  braised and then fried in its own fat (!!!) on the stove top. The meat was juicy and full of flavor, yet crispy and not soggy. I loved the addition of the citrus.

IMG_0331I don’t have a dutch oven, so I braised the meat in my largest pot on the stove and then transferred it to a casserole dish for the oven. This recipe did not disappoint! It will definitely be made again and soon.

xoxo,

Rachel

Pork Carnitas

Recipe from Epicurious.com. This recipe makes A LOT of pork but for me this is not a problem. We will be eating these throughout the week. You will end up with most of a can of sweetened condensed milk, but I see that as a bonus. Give yourself time to cut up the pork, this was the most time consuming part of preparing this recipe.

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 orange, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  •  4 teaspoons kosher salt

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients in a large pot or dutch over over medium high heat and bring the water to a boil. You will notice the mixture start to foam and to create a white “scum”.  Skim this off with a spoon. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until all the liquid is evaporated. Once the liquid is close to evaporated, preheat your oven to 450°F and stir more often. Transfer the meat to an oven safe dish, if needed, and place in a single layer in the pan. Brown the meat for 20-30 minutes. Serve on corn tortillas topped with salsa, sour cream, and cilantro. Enjoy!