spinach and orzo soup with pork


One pot wonder.

Even better the second day.
Soup.

I really love soup. Enough to write a haiku about it, apparently. And this one is especially nice. Kind of a fresh take on Italian Wedding Soup—because I’m not a fan of the meatball element. This is easier. The sesame oil and Sriracha sauce add this beautiful flare that nods to Asian influence.

Enjoy!

SPINACH AND ORZO SOUP WITH PORK

2 quarts stock—chicken, beef, vegetable, or pork
2 cups diced pork (any cut)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 c orzo pasta
1 c spinach
2 tablespoons sesame oil
a dash of Sriracha sauce (optional)

In a large sauce pan, heat broth to boiling and add pork (cooked or raw, either is fine). Boil until meat becomes so tender it begins to fall apart. Broth will reduce about one-third. Add salt and taste. Adjust to your liking and then bring pot back to a boil. Add orzo pasta until tender and remove pot from heat. Add spinach and stir into the soup until wilted. Then add the sesame oil and Sriracha (if you like a little heat). Serve hot.

Makes 4-6 servings—or dinner for tomorrow!

making butter

So this isn’t really a recipe post as much as a reflection post . . . because one doesn’t really need a recipe for making butter.
To make butter: Pour whole cream into a bowl, add a dash of salt, whip the daylights out of it, and presto: Butter.

But the actual act of making butter connects you to something else. Something beautiful and nourishing and transformational. Is that an exaggeration? I don’t know. But making butter, for me, feels like all of those things.

As I sit on the counter, watching my stand mixer do the work housewives before me grew blisters for, I marvel at their tenacity. Their determination to do something good for their people. And gratitude is the only word I can think of. I’m thankful for them. For these women, all of them, who came before me to make the world what it continues to become. I’m thankful they cared enough about their people to do the work, day after day. To nourish and feed and love and build life out of nothing. Do to transformational work—in the kitchen and out. I think it fair to call butter making an allegorical act. A work that tells a story. In making butter, one useful nourishing thing is changed into another useful nourishing thing. And isn’t that what it is, to parent and cook? To wife and partner? To work and build and grow? We change ourselves, and those around us, with small daily acts, from one thing into another.

So as you go about this week, take a minute. Pause. Remember. You’re making butter. In and out of the kitchen. As men and women ages before you have done. The unseen, blister-growing, heart work that transforms lives. Well done. Churn on.

chocolate-chip almond cookies

Happy Monday friends!

I wanted to write a post that would bring you off the Easter sugar high nice and easy. And I think this recipe will help. Because cookies are magic like that. Like literal magic.
Say, (in theory of course) you have a screaming toddler who refuses to nap. Then, my friend, then you 1) Brew yourself another pot of coffee, and 2) Pose this question:
“Do you want to make cookies with me?”
Watch. Magic. Happen.
Theoretical child will transform in into something else—at least until she can consume several cookies, fresh from the oven.
You know . . . in theory.

The cookies themselves are magic-tasting. No theories involved.
I love almond because it reminds me of Christmas, which in turn reminds me of childhood, which in turn reminds me that magic truly does exist in the world because mine was full of it.

If you need a dose of magic today, either for yourself or a theoretical child, these cookies may just be the answer you’re looking for.

Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE-CHIP ALMOND COOKIES

3/4 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 c butter-flavored crisco
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons almond flavoring
1/2 c cake flour
2 c flour

I have a giant stand mixer that makes mixing up anything a snap, but you can use a bowl and a hand mixer, or a bowl and some elbow grease just as easily.

In a large mixing bowl, begin by whipping the butter and crisco with the brown and white sugar until well combined. (I think crisco is nasty and I never use it SAVE in this recipe. It helps the baked cookie consistency stay soft and chewy). Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the batter and mix until completely combined. Then add the eggs and almond flavoring and whip again. The batter should be almost frothy. Sprinkle in the cake flour (softest flour on earth and makes for a very smooth, soft cookie crumb) and gently mix, adding the rest of the flour one cup at a time, and the chocolate morsels with the final cup of flour.

The batter will be quite thick and heavy, which is exactly what you want for thick chewy cookies. Spoon and clump the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place evenly on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes in a 350-degree preheated oven. I like my cookies lightly gold around the edges and almost (but not quite) soft in the middle. You can bake them a little longer if you prefer your cookies crunchy.

Serve warm with a tall glass of milk!

 

 

the Diver

“One may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to colour and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover.”
—C.S. Lewis (Miracles)

 

I’m going to start off with a note acknowledging that this is a bold, personal post and I know not everyone reading it will agree or appreciate that I felt the need to post it. And that’s okay.

I have loved C.S. Lewis’s quote—or word picture rather—since the first time I read it.
It gives such clarity to the theological truths I live by. This idea of foolish, extravert Grace that strips down to nothing, and descends even farther—so far as to be cloaked by death, but not consumed. And all for something He considered precious, though by all appearances and realities, the “prize” wasn’t worth the cost it required to obtain it.
The very act of God’s plunge gave it value.
Lost things are given value—worth—by the one who searches.

This Sunday we celebrate Easter—the death of death. The plunge and rise of Christ for the sake of me, and you, and every broken heart that ever was or will ever be. It’s a celebration of all the “Re.” —Restoration and Rebirth, Rejuvenation, and Relationship if only we accept the outstretched hand and the offer of air.

This is a blog about food. About the things that nourish need. And I’ll be first in line to admit that my need goes far beyond physical. I crave wholeness in every aspect. Physical and mental, emotional, and spiritual. And praise God, who sent His one and only Son to earth, to plunge and rise again, that He refused to leave those needs unmet—yours and mine.

Happy Easter, Dear Ones.

orange crescent rolls

  Food anchors memory. Ever noticed that? I have so many amazing food memories associated with family, friends, childhood, and holidays.
Pecan pie on Father’s Day (because that’s his favorite).
Clam chowder on Christmas Eve.
I remember one summer when my mom made like twenty-five chocolate cheesecake tortes to sell at a bake sale, only they didn’t all sell so we had chocolate cheesecake torte for weeks.
My Dad made a lobster-shaped birthday cake for my mom one year because lobster was her favorite food, but money was too tight for the real thing.
I had breakfast with my grandpa at the lake growing up—eggs over-easy on toast.
My grandma would make fried bread dough with sugar dusted over top when we came for lunch.
And my great-grandmother was the QUEEN of Sunday dinner.
I have a heritage of being loved and nourished through food. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This recipe is an Easter tradition—one that goes back as far as I can remember.
We would go to bed Saturday night anticipating the rejoicing that would greet us Sunday morning, and all the wonderful shouts of “He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!” ringing throughout the house. This was followed by Easter basket hunting, getting ready for church, and these beautiful, light-as-air, orange crescent rolls for breakfast.

So from my family to yours, Happy Easter!

PS. I’m giving this recipe to you a day early so these rolls can rise in the refrigerator overnight and bake first thing Sunday morning!

ORANGE CRESCENT ROLLS
ROLLS
3 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

GLAZE
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
Enough orange juice to make desired consistency

Advance Prep:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups iof flour ad the year. In a saucepan, heat together milk, water, sugar, butter, and salt until just warm. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and then add this to the dry mixture. Add the egg and orange peel. Beat on low with an electric mixer or a stand mixer for a couple minutes and then scrape the side of the bowl continually. Beat for three minutes on high. Then, by hand or with a dough hook, add in the remaining flour and mix well. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn to grease all sides. Over with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-24 hours.

Before serving:
About two hours before serving, remove dough from fridge and divide in half. roll each ball into a 9-inch circle and with a pizza cutter, cut into 12 wedges. Starting at the wide end, roll up each wedge. Let rise in a warm oven until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. While still warm, spread with glaze.

To make glaze, combine sugar, peel and juice in a small mixing bowl and whisk with a fork.

Serve warm

Makes 24 rolls

Originally adapted from CRISCO PRESENTS FAVORITE FAMILY FOODS, copy write 1973, Proctor and Gamble Company.

pork-n-beans over spaghetti squash

The title of this recipe feels misleading.
When I think of pork and beans I think of opening a can of something brown and gooey over a campfire with my dad. Great memories, but this isn’t that.
But it is pork and black beans. So, yah.

This is one of those recipes that came about because of leftovers. And as is common knowledge in my house, no one will eat leftovers if they look anything like what they originally were. So if I want leftovers to be consumed, I have to make a new meal out of them. Which defeats the point. *sigh*

Also common knowledge in my house: I can’t cook pork. I just can’t. I try and try. Tenderloin? Nope. Either overdone or under. Chops? Nope. Always too dry. Bacon I can do, I guess. But who screws up bacon? And pulled bbq pork. But everything else: no dice.
So this recipe was also born of a failed attempt at pork ribs. (Again).

However. It provided the perfect opportunity to resurrect a failed meal.
And low and behold, I made something tasty. Beautiful even.
Leftovers and failed pork  rejoice!

Enjoy

 PORK AND BEANS OVER SPAGHETTI SQUASH

1 small spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil,
salt and pepper to taste
1 can black beans, rinsed.

2 cups pork meat (any variety, cooked or uncooked)
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon minced onion
a dash of pepper
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
Paprika to taste

Dice pork into small bite-size pieces. Toss the meat in a medium saucepan with stock, (I used vegetable but you can use chicken, pork, beef, whatever your preference) minced onion, pepper, and maple syrup. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer until the liquid reduces by about half. Allow to cool slightly and then stir in greek yogurt.

Bake spaghetti squash until tender. This is my favorite method. Halve, remove seeds, splash some olive oil, salt and pepper over the squash, and then spoon on about 1/2 cup of black beans. Top generously with the creamy pork mixture, and dollop of greek yogurt, and dash with paprika.

Makes 2 generous servings

easy egg-drop soup

Sometimes you need a bowl of soup. A quick one.
But soup is notorious (or is nefarious a better word?) for being best when cooked for all the hours over low heat.
Whatever.
I don’t have time for that when I’m hangry. (My auto-correct keeps trying to change that to “hungry” but I really do mean hangry).

So here you go. A soup that takes literally five minutes, one sauce pan, and an egg to whip up. “Easy” seems too descriptive a word. But “tasty?” Now that word doesn’t even come close.

Enjoy.

EASY EGG-DROP SOUP

 In a saucepan heat 2 cups of chicken stock to boiling. Add a dash of salt. Turn burner off.
In a small bowl, whisk 1 egg until frothy and then gently and slowly pour the egg into the hot (but no longer boiling) stock. stir gently with a soft spatula and then let sit for three minutes. Serve topped with diced scallions or other favorite herb blend.

dilly fingerling potatoes 

You know what guys? Fingerling potatoes look a lot like . . . fingers. Just saying. And not in the like, “That’s awesome!” kind of way. More in the, “Well that’s odd,” kind of way.

Excellent.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to this most delicious recipe, staring: fingerling potatoes. Is that gross? I don’t know. Sorry, not sorry. Because this really is delicious. Reminiscent of summer picnics and everything cool and refreshing. Or, if you’re like me, a prefect late-night snack! Or if you prefer, a potato side dish that delights rather than bores.

Enjoy!

DILLY FINGERLING POTATOES

1/2 lb fingerling potatoes
1/2 cup homemade mayo
1/2 teaspoon salt
a dash of pepper
dill weed
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic
3/4 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

slice the potatoes in rounds—about 1/2 inch in width. I love these little potatoes because just a few slices and you have the most perfectly-sized bites imaginable.
Cover with cold water and a dash of salt in a medium cooking pot, and bring to boil on med-high heat. Boil for 10 minutes or so—until fork tender but not falling apart. These little potato bites will need to hold their own in the dilly mayo sauce they’re about to be slathered in.

In a bowl, blend 1 cup homemade mayo, (this is truly the easiest thing in the world to make and SO good, but if you’re intimidated, go ahead and use whatever remade mayo strikes your fancy), salt, pepper, dill weed, ground mustard, sugar, and diced garlic together until well combined. Add vinegar, lemon juice and greek yogurt, and whisk until smooth and all ingredients are fully incorporated. Spoon over cooled potatoes in generous amounts. No holding back here. You’re going to want to pour it all on.
Yes. Go ahead. All of it. The sauce makes these guys sing.

Serve as a chilled side to grilled chicken, brats, or my favorite: salmon.

do your job.

Sometimes I wonder how much more. . .
How much more suffering and loss and questions and heavy hearts?
How much more hunger and pain and grief and empty tomorrows?
And then I look around and think, “There’s work to do.”
I’m only one small person. One small voice. I can’t cure any of it, or make it stop, or fix the brokenness. None of us can.
But I can love hard and lean into sadness with those who need me to.
I can hold a hand, lend a shoulder, cry with a friend, make a meal, use my hands, feet, heart, and words in the best way I know to say Love is bigger. Over and over again.

Don’t despair. The story isn’t finished. The walk Home is long, but none of us have to do it alone. Do your job today: Go off script and love someone—anyone—with the sort of kindness that pushes them toward Hope. That’s the only reason we’re here.

#prayforbrussels #andforusall #loveisbigger

yogurt pancakes

I’m not a breakfast person. The ratio of breakfast recipes to dinner recipes on this site speaks clearly to that. And yes I’ve read the research. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Yada-yada-yada. Even so. No.
Coffee. I’m all about coffee.
Coffee is my breakfast.
Coffee is my love language.
Coffee.
Ahem.
Unfortunately my kids won’t drink the stuff.
So there are things like poached eggs on toast. Sweet potato hash with sausage. Spiral-skillet apples. And these pancakes. —Buttery, light but heavy with yogurt, slightly sweet. Ultimately, the perfect breakfast for a lazy weekend.
Enjoy!

 

YOGURT PANCAKES

2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup greek yogurt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter

Start by melting the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, sugar, salt and whisk well. Add the baking powder and whisk again until frothy. Finally, whisk in the yogurt. (Greek Gods Honey-Vanilla flavor is my favorite for this recipe!) When everything is well combined add the milk and flour, stirring until the whole mixture is well blended without lumps.

Heat a large griddle or flat-bottom pan over med-high heat and melt a little butter in the bottom of the pan to prevent the pancakes from sticking. Using a 1/3 or 1/4 measuring cup to measure out the batter for each cake, cook one side until it bubbles, flip, and cook the other side until golden brown. Top with your favorite flavor of deliciousness. Jam, syrup, fresh fruit, yogurt, or as one dear friend of mine showed me: peanut butter, maple syrup, and whipped cream. (Decadent!)