Balsamic Beet Pizza

This past week I got inspired by a beet recipe, Balsamic-Glazed Beets with Pecans, from Eating Well magazine.  We have been receiving lots of beets from our weekly produce box and I get tired of making things over and over again the exact same way.  I decided that this beet recipe would be the best pizza topping on earth.

So, I mixed up a double batch of my, however, this time I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of all-purpose flour.  It was a nice whole grain taste, without being too dry.   By the way, the Norpro silicone pastry mat (above) gets used all the time in my kitchen – it is perfect for kneading, rolling dough, and measuring the size.

I glazed the beets the day before, but also added a small yellow onion to the Eating Well recipe.  I added an extra tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to make sure it was saucy enough for a pizza topping, as I was not planning on using tomato sauce for the beet pizza.  I left off pecans, due to personal preferences in my household, however, I would add them were I making this just for myself!

beet pizza

I like to make amoeba-shaped pizzas – they are more interesting to look at.  I topped the beet pizzas with crumbled goat cheese, sliced jalapeño peppers, and sliced beet greens.

I made 6 pizzas total, out of whatever veggies we had laying around.  These were the perfect kitchen sink pizzas.

tomato pizza

Pizza on left: tomato sauce, pizza seasoning, sliced sweet peppers, sliced swiss chard, and crumbled feta cheese.  Pizza on the right: tomato sauce, pizza seasoning, sliced grape tomatoes, sliced shallot, beet greens, and crumbled feta cheese.


The last pizza was for the kids and topped with: tomato sauce, pizza seasoning, sliced sweet yellow peppers, and grated cheddar cheese.

I baked all pizzas at 425° for 14-17 minutes, or till cheese was melted.

All of these pizzas were delectable – but the beet pizza was by far my favorite.  The combination of vinegar, beets, onion, crispy greens, soft goat cheese, and chewy crust was perfection.  I will be making this again, with my next batch of beets!

Easy Stuffed Peppers

Our weekly produce box has been so good for rounding out our meals – veggies galore! I decided to make stuffed peppers last week, something I have not made in ages. As almost always, I winged it.

I made a big pot of rice, with the intent of the leftovers being turned into fried rice on another night. Win for me and easy weeknight dinner!

I’m an absolute sucker for any sort of Tex-Mex flavoring, so I went with a pre-mixed Mexican spice for flavoring this time.

I arranged my 2 halved peppers in a casserole dish and began filling, hoping I had just the right amount of rice mixture. Somehow, my eyeballing skills haven’t failed me yet!
Just before I took them out of the oven, each pepper received a delicate sprinkling of cheese. Delicious reheated as a weekday work lunch, too, I might add.

Stuffed Peppers

1. Combine: ½ cup cooked white rice, ½ cup cooked mixed rice, 1 cup chopped kale, ½ chopped tomato, 1-2 tablespoons lime juice, salt & pepper, Mexican seasoning.

2. Cut 2 bell peppers in half, horizontally. Remove seeds and ribs. Fill with rice mixture. Bake in 375° oven for 30-35 minutes or till peppers are slightly softened and rice lightly browned. Optional: add sprinkling of cheese on top during last 5 minutes of baking.

Easter Brunch 2016

Easter was a little while ago, I know.  However, I have been busy taking two classes, testing the waters for big and exciting changes coming soon.  I actually started this post just after Easter and it has been sitting as a draft since then.  I have quite a few artwork drafts sitting around right now too, waiting for my classes to end.  More on those later.

coffee.cakeI have been raised on good coffee cake, however, it wasn’t until recently that I was given the best recipe on earth – my maternal grandmother’s recipe.  She was famous for this recipe – she worked in a diner and regular patrons would come in asking if she was working that particular day, and if so, had she made her coffee cake yet.  I have an adapted version of her recipe in this post, see below.

I love the Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour for all my baking needs.  It is as close as you can get to typical gluten baking, and I have tried quite a few different kinds.

The struesel in this cake is perfect – due to mixing the sugar, cinnamon, and flour with melted butter, rather than cutting the butter in.  It creates the best and most even struesel I have had.

This Bagel, Lox, and Egg Strata  from Better Homes & Gardens, was a keeper – I will be sure to make it again soon.  We swapped out the regular bagels for gluten-free, found in the freezer section at The Fresh Market (one of my favorite stores from Greensboro that recently opened here in Des Moines!)

Notice the difference in egg color, above?  The brighter ones are from our friends’ farm, Lipes Family Farm, outside of Iowa City.  We have been buying eggs and meat from their monthly buyer’s club here in Des Moines for more than a year now.  If you are in the Des Moines Metro area, sign up for their e-mail list to join!

img_9591Brunch was delicious – smoked salmon, bagel, & egg casserole, fruit salad, mixed greens salad with lemon vinaigrette, and bacon from our friends at Lipes Family Farm.  Some of the best, I have been told, as I am no bacon expert!

img_9586I kept the kids busy and entertained during brunch prep with assorted washi tapes.  These are the best thing for my creative  & busy kids – they can tear off whatever size they like, and stick them everywhere.  The tape peels off of all surfaces easily and it comes in glitter, patterns, and bright colors galore.  The rolls are small enough to easily fit in my purse and take along for on-the-go fun anywhere.


Gluten Free Struesel Coffee Cake

For struesel topping, combine: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour, 2 tablespoons cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

For cake, combine: 3 cups Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour, 6 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and  1-1/2 cups sugar. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles cornmeal. Blend in 1 cup milk and 2 teaspoons vanilla.  Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan.  Sprinkle struesel topping over top.  Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes, or till knife inserted near center comes out clean.


Pizza Quiche 


This is another recipe that I concocted based on items I had in my kitchen, I did not go out and buy any of these things with this recipe in my mind.  This is my favorite kind of cooking – I feel it’s a direct extension from my collage and painting mindset.

If you have been following this blog, or have spent any time with me, you know I am a breakfast-aholic – waffles, pancakes, muffins, egg casseroles, and especially quiches.  This was one of those ideas that I just thought was so brilliant that even my adventuresome eaters would gobble up.  Ha, that’s funny…

My ah-ha moment of making quiches came about when I finally figured out to fill my favorite pie pan with water and then pour it into my stainless steel bowl that is marked with measurements.  Now, aside from a few basics I keep the same – 4-5 eggs and 1 cup of liquid  – I can mix and match my quiche recipes as I like.  The 1 quart line is the magic line to keep my quiche from overflowing.

Pizza quiche should be whatever pizza toppings are your favorite – we went with pepperoni, tomato, red bell pepper, kale, onion, and cheese.

For more on crust techniques and tricks of the trade check out previous links on pastry crusts.  I first learned about the vodka crust technique from my dad, who learned about through reading about J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s findings, author of The Food Lab, for America’s Test Kitchen.  You can read more about it here.

I can’t wait until that kale is coming out of my yard again.

It was so nice earlier this week – at 71° – that we ate dinner on our porch.  Today it was supposed to snow, guess that is just spring in Iowa for you.  My daughter is in the background of this photo making her *lovely* gagging-because-you-made-me-try-a-new-food face.  Even though it is just eggs and pizza toppings, both of which she loves.

Sigh.  Toddler adventures with food.


Pizza Quiche

  1. Prepare a single-crust pastry.
  2. Meanwhile, sauté 1/2 yellow onion, diced with 1 small red bell pepper, diced with seeds and ribs removed in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until softened.
  3. Combine in a bowl: 5 beaten eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 medium tomato, diced, 3-4 oz of chopped pepperoni, 1-2 tablespoons of pizza seasoning, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.  Mix in the onion mixture and 1 cup of shredded kale.
  4. Pour into prepared crust and bake at 325° for 50-55 minutes or till the center jiggles slightly and is almost set, or when a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  If necessary, cover the edges in foil or with a pie crust shield, to prevent browning in last 20 minutes, or so, of baking.

Pastry for Single-Crust

1.  Using a pastry blender, cut in 1/3 cup butter into 1-1/4 cups flour. Pieces should be pea-sized. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water over part of the flour mixture; toss with a fork.  Push moistened flour to one side of the bowl.  Repeat, using 1 tablespoon of the liquid at a time until all the flour is moistened, using 4-5 tablespoons of ice-cold liquid – water, vodka, or a mixture of the two – in all.  Form dough into a ball.

2. On a lightly floured board, use hands to slightly flatten dough.  Roll dough from center to edges into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.

3. To transfer pastry, wrap dough around a rolling pin.  Unroll into a 9-inch pie plate.  Do not stretch the dough, as this will cause shrinking.  Trim excess dough and fold over.  Do not prick dough.

4. Line with double thickness of aluminum foil.  Bake in a 450° oven for 8 minutes.  Remove foil, bake for 4 to 5 more minutes or until pastry is set and dry.  Reduce oven temperature to 325°.


Coconut Curry & Butternut Squash

This past week I put together a few of my produce box vegetables to make a curry dish.  This coconut and curry dish is slightly sweet with a thick sauce made of puréed squash. It made plenty of food – enough for freezing, leftovers, or to feed a large crowd.  I served it with cooked Basmati Rice.

I made it milder for my kids, but amped up my own bowl with a few more spoonfuls of curry paste.  Curry is one of my favorite flavors of all time and I am fairly certain I could put it on just about anything. Curried ice cream, curried cookies, curried bananas…you name it and I will try it with curry.


Start by cutting 1 medium butternut squash into 4 sections and removing the seeds.  Place the squash sections on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake it at 400° for 35-40 minutes.  This is the easiest method for preparing butternut squash, because after the squash has cooled off, the skin just peels right off.


Purée the cooked and peeled squash with 1- 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk and 1 cup of water.  I split my pureé into 2 sections, so as to not overflow my Ninja Professional Blender (this is the best blender I have ever owned!)  You may have more or less, depending on the size of the squash, and therefore adjust water as needed.  Place the squash mixture into a slow cooker and turn it on low.


Peel and cube 2 medium potatoes.  Add to slow cooker. Sauté 1/2 of yellow onion in oil until softened, add to slow cooker. Mix in 2-5 tablespoons Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (less for milder dish, more for spicier dish).


Cube 1 block of extra firm tofu.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with oil, and spread out tofu.  Flip to coat in oil.  Bake in oven at 400° for 15- 20 minutes, flipping once.  This helps to dry out and the tofu before adding it to the squash mixture.  For crispier tofu, follow broiling steps, with or without flavoring.  Remove tofu from baking sheet and add to slow cooker.


Remove seeds and ribbing, and slice 1 medium green bell pepper, add to slow cooker. Stir mixture well, and cook on low, covered, for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours.  I served this with cooked Basmati rice.  As you can see, the recipe creates a very full slow cooker.  You can reduce veggies or tofu amounts, if desired.


Other things going on in my world – caucusing is coming up. I live in Iowa, so of course the political scene is a big deal right now.  February 1 is the big date and the candidates are still working Iowa hard.  I haven’t caucused since college and am looking forward to being a part of the process again.  We found this hilarious shirt at the downtown Des Moines Raygun shop.


It’s been cold, so the kids and I have been catching up on our reading.  This is a new family favorite – Star Wars ABC.  My daughter just giggles when I tell her that wookies are my favorite part of Star Wars.  I haven’t seen the newest one yet and have a rule in my classroom that students aren’t allowed to spoil it for me.  I need to get Eric up to speed first, as he is not as much of a Star Wars fan as I am.


Coconut Curry & Butternut Squash 

  1. Cut 1 medium butternut squash into 4 sections and remove the seeds.  Place the squash sections on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, and bake it at 400° for 35-40 minutes.  Allow squash to cool and remove skin.
  2. Purée the cooked and peeled squash with 1- 13.5 oz. can of coconut milk and 1 cup of water.  Place the squash mixture into a slow cooker and turn it on to low.
  3. Peel and cube 2 medium potatoes.  Add to slow cooker.
  4. Sauté 1/2 of yellow onion in oil until softened, add to slow cooker.
  5. Mix in 2-5 tablespoons Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste (less for milder dish, more for spicier dish).
  6. Cube 1 block of extra firm tofu.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with oil, and spread out tofu.  Flip to coat in oil.  Bake in oven at 400° for 15- 20 minutes, flipping once.  Remove tofu from baking sheet and add to slow cooker.
  7. Remove seeds and ribbing, and slice 1 medium green bell pepper, add to slow cooker. Stir mixture well, and cook on low, covered, for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours.  Serve with cooked rice of your choice.

Creamy Wild Rice & Parsnip Soup

soupI jump started my New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and signed up for Door to Door Organics back in November. I now have a delivery of fresh, organic produce show up every single week right on my doorstep. It has been the single best healthy decision I have made for our family in the past few years.

Not only is it an incentive to eat healthier, but to cook more creatively.  I now have an entire box of ticking time bombs of expiring produce to jumpstart my creative recipe juices on a daily basis.  I thank my sister-in-law every day for telling me about this great service.  There are multiple options for box contents, sizes, substitutions, delivery dates, and add-ons like meat, dairy, and bread.  If you want to get a discount off of your first box, e-mail or message me for a code!

IMG_8547Anyhow, this soup idea came about from my plethora of produce and this view. Goliath.  Yes, they have started to name winter snow storms in the Midwest.  It had been snowing off and on all day last Monday, we had utilized every room in the house, plus the backyard, front yard, and driveway to try and blow off steam.  So, soup just sounded easy and delicious for dinner that night.  Big bonus – both kids loved this soup!

IMG_8542 I started with my produce and my fancy new vegetable peeler that I got as a Christmas gift (this Zyliss Peeler is my new favorite – it is sharp and cuts with a nice ribbed texture!). As far as my produce selection goes, I absolutely love parsnips – they are far superior to carrots, if you ask me.  Please, please try them if you have not already!

IMG_8543I dug around in my pantry for some grain or pasta choices and settled on some  Minnesota Wild Rice that I picked up during my last trip to Minneapolis.  I just love the texture and taste of wild rice, which is not actually rice as we know it, but a semi-aquatic grass.

simmeringThis simmering concoction of vegetables, broth, and bay leaf was the perfect way to end a snowy day. Scratch that.  Almost perfect way to end a snowy day.  I ended it with a bowl of blueberry pie and homemade whipped cream – my contribution to my husband’s family Christmas dinner this year. I decided to go with something out of the ordinary for this time of year and splurge on blueberries.

Creamy Wild Rice & Parsnip Soup

  1. In a large pot, sauté 1/2 a diced yellow onion, 3 cloves of minced garlic in 3-4 tablespoons heated olive oil until softened.
  2. Add 6 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken) and 1 bay leaf.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, start a medium saucepan boiling with water.  Add 6 oz of wild rice and bring to a boil.  Reduce and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Peel and slice into 1/2-inch pieces, 4-5 medium parsnips.  Add to broth.
  5. Slice 3 stalks of celery, add to broth.
  6. Drain and rinse wild rice.  Add to broth and vegetable mixture.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well.
  7. Optional: add 2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces.  Stir and return to boil.
  8. Simmer on low, covered for 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf before serving.
  9. To serve, ladle into bowls and add 3-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream per bowl, more or less depending on preferences or bowl sizes.  Stir and serve with toasted marbled rye bread.


Gramma’s Yam Souffle


I made a batch of this last week and on first taste I was transported back to the multi-course meals of my childhood.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just a weekend visit to her house always meant a large meal where every square inch of the dining room table was covered in serving bowls, platters, and dishes.  She always used a formal place setting with family heirloom china and silverware, linen napkins, and always a dessert.  The sides were always my favorite parts of her meals – rolls, stuffing (not only for Thanksgiving!), scalloped potatoes, fruit salad, and my all-time favorite – yam soufflé.

I never knew what made her soufflé so delectable, but now I have the secrets.  I tell you, eating it was like, to quote another enthusiastic eater I know, “rainbows and unicorns in my mouth!”  Read on for her added ingredients that make this casserole the perfect side for any meal, including the upcoming Ode to Eating day – Thanksgiving.

sweet potatoes

I started by roasting 5 medium – large sweet potatoes at 425° for 30 – 40 minutes or until soft.  Or you could skip to canned and puréed sweet potato.


One of the key ingredients in this dish is the orange zest – it gives it a brighter and fresher flavor.


Separating the eggs and adding the whites later gives a fluffier texture.


Beat the egg whites separately until stiff, but not glossy, peaks form.


Egg whites are like clouds, I tell ya.

The entire mixture reminds me of something like orange sherbet.  It just looks happy.  I was happy at this point, can you tell?


I was starting to get a little giddy for this dish, by this point.


The finished masterpiece.  The way this casserole puffs up, crackles, and browns is almost too perfect.  Serve it immediately, because refrigerator time makes it less dramatic and less crackled.  If you are pinched for time, mix up all ingredients except for egg whites ahead of time.  Then, just before baking, beat egg whites, combine with other ingredients, and bake.

Gramma’s Yam Soufflé (from her friend, Cindy)

3 cups mashed yams (sweet potatoes)

1/3 cup sherry or orange juice

1-1/4 cup cream

6 tablespoons melted butter

1-1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

6 eggs, separated

Combine together: sweet potatoes, sherry or juice, cream, butter, orange zest, pepper, nutmeg, salt, brown sugar, and egg yolks.  Mix until smooth.

Just before baking, whip egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold into sweet potato mixture.

Pour mixture into greased casserole dish and bake at 350° for 45 – 50 minutes, or until golden on top.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve immediately.

Caramelized Nectarine Pancakes


These breakfast bad boys came about due to an abundance of ripe nectarines, reminiscing about North Carolina beach breakfasts, and my absolute undying devotion to making delicious breakfast foods.  Fact: I am much more likely to go all out on breakfast than any other meal of the day.


Nectarines are right up there with peaches and black raspberries as my favorite fruit.  I mean just look at them!  They are perfect golden slices of sugary goodness.  As with the other two fruit favorites, they are best eaten in season.  I bought a bunch of these nectarines with the intention of grilling them and serving them with ice cream, but that did not happen because we went for strawberry ice cream cones instead.  So, the following morning, I peeled them and thinly sliced them to be put into my favorite basic pancake recipe.


Then, I placed tabs of butter on the hot cast iron griddle, and cooked the thin slices of nectarine for a few minutes on medium heat, until they were softened and the butter was bubbly brown and caramelized.  This griddle is a must-have in my kitchen – we bought our two-burner cast iron griddle a few years back and use it pretty much every day for breakfast.


Next, I poured about a 1/2 cup of batter on top of the caramelized slices and sprinkled some cinnamon on top.  I let it cook for 2-3 minutes, or till the edges were starting to dry and bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, but don’t yet break.  Check for doneness by gently lifting the edge of the pancake with a spatula.

cakeNectarine perfection when flipped!  I cooked the pancakes for 1-2 more minutes on the other side, check though, as the other side never takes as long to cook as the first. That little plain guy is for my youngest – he was happier to eat his foods separated.  Check below for the base recipe of this easy, yet decadent pancake recipe.  Note: I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour.  I never have that specialty flour around.

I recently read that the best pancakes are the ones that are mixed, covered, and refrigerated for 3-6 hours, or longer before cooking.  I will be testing this out for tomorrow – check back for the results.

Buttermilk Pancakes (from Joy of Cooking) Makes about ten 4-inch cakes.

1. Combine: 1 cup cake flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

2. Beat until light: 1 egg.  Add: 1 cup buttermilk, 1-2 tablespoons melted butter.

3. Combine the dry and liquid ingredients with a few swift strokes.

Nectarine Caramelized Pancakes

1. Mix pancake base from buttermilk pancake recipe above.

2. Slice and remove pits from 2-3 ripe nectarines.  Peel and thinly slice.  Place small tabs of butter onto a hot griddle and place 2-3 slices of nectarine in the melting butter.  Use a fork to move the slices around so they are coated in butter.  Allow them to caramelize by cooking the slices over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the slices are softened and the butter is bubbly and slightly browned.

3. Pour about a 1/2 cup of batter over the top of the caramelized slices and a sprinkle a dusting of cinnamon on top of the batter.  Cook pancakes for 2-3 minutes, or till the edges start to dry and bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, but don’t yet break.  Check for doneness by gently lifting the edge of the pancake with a spatula.  Flip pancake and cooke 1-2 more minutes on the other side.  Watch pancakes carefully, as the second side always cooks faster than the first.  Serve immediately and warm with warm maple syrup.

Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad


Let me preface this post by saying I am honestly not much of a salad person. Don’t get me wrong, I will eat them, order them at restaurants, but I rarely make them myself. This is for a few reasons: 1. I always seem to forget about the greens in my fridge and they turn to black sludge. 2. There are millions of others types of foods I would rather try making. 3. Salads never fill me up. 4. I’d rather make salad from during fresh from the garden season, not the grocery store.

I recently went to the Des Moines Art Center’s cafe – Baru at the Art Center – for lunch with family and a salad on the menu piqued my interest.  I liked it so much that I actually thought about it a few times since then, and decided to make my own version of it, tweaking it slightly.  I made it last week for a dinner with friends and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.  It is one I will make again once the farm-fresh home-grown produce comes in.

This recipe can be done in stages.  I roasted the beets the previous day, so they could chill in the fridge before combining them with the rest of the salad makings. I did not specify exact amounts with the goat cheese, lettuce, and pecans, as I figured these are a matter of taste.  I did use a standard-sized box of mixed greens from the grocery store, for my recipe.

Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Peel and dice 2-3 medium beets into 1-inch chunks. Spread into a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once.

2. Once beets are cooked, remove from pan and chill.

3. To prepare salad, combine in a large bowl: mixed greens, 1/4 – 1/2 of small red onion, thinly sliced, and roasted beets.

4. Top with crumbled goat cheesepecan halves, and honey balsamic vinegar dressing (see below).

Honey Balsamic Vinegar Dressing 

1. Combine in a jar: 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1-2 teaspoons honey, ground black pepper.  Place lid on jar, shake thoroughly.

Southwestern Pinto Soup


I made this heavenly toasty soup earlier in the week in my way too dusty slow cooker.  I need to brush it off and use it more often, it’s just too luxurious to come home to a house that smells deceivingly like a laborious meal.  The slow cooker meal feels almost magical, and I get giddy just thinking about it – when I walk into my home after work and after three trips from the car, with two hungry and exhausted kids, 3 ravenous animals, and my hangry self.  The very last thing I want to do on a weeknight is cook dinner – we’ve been surviving on multiple days of leftovers and frozen vegetables for the past 6 months.  My toddler has been known to say, “Mommy, we been having this last night.”  True.  Eat it or go hungry kiddo, sorry.  Hence the sudden drop in healthy meals on this blog.


I cooked up the rest of my dried pinto beans earlier in the week for a random Monday night of nachos.  Leave it to the Bon Apetit Instagram feed to fuel that hankering.  So I had this heaping container of beans and no idea how to use them all, and so this soup was made.  I really do love this image of the beans, by the way, it makes me want to paint it on a 13 foot canvas.  My problem with the blog is this – I love to cook, I love baking, and I cannot turn off my artist eye.  So, often, I halt everything and capture the image, even if it is a container of glossy, slimy, and borderline gross container of pinto beans.  I cannot tell you how many times I have heard my toddler say to me, “Mommy, what are you taking a picture of?”


The base of this soup consists of three ways of tomatoes – canned by yours truly, paste, and fresh – and vegetable broth.  This soup is a vegetarian recipe and could easily be made vegan. Check out the recipe below.

knivesMy only other news is that we are slowly but surely organizing our lives in Iowa.  Funny how a move and a baby can throw your whole world into chaos.  😉   I love my new Ikea Magnetic Knife Strips but am still dreaming up ways to beautify gut my kitchen.

This kitchen speaks to my orange-loving soul!

Southwestern Pinto Soup with Cornbread Dumplings

Saute´ until soft:

1/2 yellow onion, diced and 3 cloves of garlic, minced.

Combine with onion mixture in slow cooker:

2 cups cooked pinto beans, 1 can diced tomatoes, 2 cups vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 6 oz. can tomato paste, 2 chopped fresh tomatoes.

Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 7 hours.

30 minutes before serving, mix up dumplings.  In a small bowl combine:

2 tablespoons of water, 1 egg (to make vegan, swap egg for 1 tablespoon ground flax-seed with 3 tablespoons water), and 8 tablespoons corn flour.

Drop spoonfuls of batter into hot soup, cover and let cook 30 more minutes.

Serve with sprinkling of cheese and splash of lime juice.