Spicy Black Beans with Sweet Potatoes

January 18, 2016


Since we ran in 2016, I’ve been making a real, honest effort to get back into the kitchen for non-work related purposes. For me that means more meal planning, taking the time to prepare a grocery list based around sales fliers and coupons, and then actually sticking to that meal plan. What I’ve realized is that we not only eat healthier (duh!) but our meals are more interesting and fun and we spend so much less on groceries each week.

I’m making it a goal of mine to share more real, everyday meals with you. Because sure, I can make a really beautiful, involved recipe to share on this blog, but chances are you don’t have the ingredients on hand nor the time or interest in actually making said recipe. So instead of sharing a Pinterest-perfect meal, I’m going to be sharing more real meals from the Hofmeyer kitchen. You know, the stuff we’re eating week in and week out!

I’ve been working with the team at Riceland Foods on some recipe development, so we have a surplus of brown rice on hand. Joe has been joking that we are going to be eating rice for the next month, which is probably very, very true. I’m a big believer that rice and beans is one of the best meals around. Basic, healthy, cheap. But if we’re going to consume rice and beans in this house, Joe needs it to be a little more interesting than the basic version.

Our whole family enjoyed this dinner. It was healthy, relatively quick and easy to make and completely filling. I added sweet potatoes to the mix for a little color and added nutrition and topped the bowls with chopped avocado and salsa. And I totally would have added sour cream if we had it on hand!


Spiced Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes with Rice
Recipe type: Entree, Main Dish, Vegetarian
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 (14- to 15-oz) can black beans (do not rinse or drain)
  • 1 (14- to 15-oz) can diced tomatoes (I used the kind with oregano and garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • Hot cooked brown rice, avocado and salsa, if desired
  1. In a medium skillet over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Add in the onion and cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is cooked and softened slightly. Add in the garlic and sweet potatoes and cook 2 minutes more or until garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add the black beans, tomatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and cayenne to the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and sweet potatoes are softened.
  3. Spoon brown rice into bowls. Top with some of the black bean mixture, followed by some avocado and salsa, if desired.



What’s In My Makeup Bag: January Edition

January 14, 2016


1. Love Springs Eternal || Youth Preservation Serum by One Love Organics
This product is a splurge, but the proof is in the results. Using a few drops of this serum every night makes a difference in the look and appearance of my skin, which is starting to show a few signs of getting older now that I’m edging up on 30 and getting less sleep that I once was.

2. Gentle Exfoliator Polish || Beautycounter
We’ve all fallen victim at some point to one of those super abrasive drugstore exfoliators. But would you believe me if I told you there is a safer and more effective way to exfoliate your skin? I’m in love with this gentle exfoliator from Beautycounter, which is easy on the skin but really helps give dull winter skin a fresh glow.

3. Invati Shampoo and Conditioner || Aveda
I would love to tell you that my postpartum hair loss is a thing of the past, but while it has slowed down a bit, it’s still an issue. In addition to getting more dedicated to taking my prenatal vitamin, I returned to using this shampoo and conditioner, which are made to help with hair loss. It’s amazing! PS: If you just want to try before you buy, they make a little sample kit for much less with all three of the products.

4. Moroccan Oil Treatment || Moroccan Oil
These days I’m a bit of a hair product minimalist. I’ve replaced countless products with a good shampoo + conditioner and a little Moroccan oil on my hair after I get out of the shower. On days when I have the time (especially if it’s warm out) I just choose to let my locks air-dry and then lightly style with a curling wand to smooth my strands a bit. I think protecting my hair and cutting back on the styling tools has really helped with the health of my hair.

5. Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer || Beautycounter
This is my new g0-to tinted moisturizer. I love the way it smells and the creamy, flawless look it gives my skin without actually feeling like I’m wearing make-up. I’ve always tried to avoid anything with a lot of coverage, so this is right up my alley!


*Affiliate links used when appropriate. 

Food & Recipes

Slow Cooker Ranch Pot Roast

January 12, 2016


I’ll be the first to admit that roast wasn’t really in my cooking repertoire when I was first married. My husband grew up eating roast and potatoes every week, usually on Sundays, like most of the midwestern families I knew. Seeing as that my mom was never a huge fan of roast, we rarely ate it at our house.

Although roast isn’t something this vegetarian eats anymore, it’s still one of my husbands favorite meals to eat, and one of my favorite meals to make because it’s so incredibly easy. And on top of that, it makes great leftovers for at least two lunches for Joe during the week, giving this time-pressed mom even more to love.

To keep things from getting boring, I’ve been mixing up my roast game with various seasonings and sauces. This most recent version is hardly classy or fancy, but it’s most certainly delicious and quick, which for a weekend is most certainly a win in my book.


Slow Cooker Ranch Pot Roast
Recipe type: entree, main dish, meat
  • 1 (3- to 4-lb) beef roast, thawed
  • 1 container (32-oz) unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 packet (1 oz) ranch seasoning mix
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
  • 6 ro 8 small red potatoes, cut in half
  1. Place roast in 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Pour chicken stock on top of roast. Sprinkle the seasoning mix on top of roast. Place the ½ stick butt on top of roast and seasoning.
  2. Cover and cook on high heat 4 hours.
  3. Open slow cooker and add potatoes to the pot. Cover and cook 1 to 2 hours more or until roast is very tender and potatoes are cooked through. Serve warm with some of the cooking liquid drizzled on top of the roast.

Note: I almost always cook my roasts from frozen. The food safety police would probably put me in jail for doing so, but some habits die hard. If you cook your roast from frozen, do so at your own risk, and adjust timing accordingly. 


Reflections On Our Small-Town Life

January 11, 2016


Five months ago Joe, Ainsley and I packed up our stuff, sold our cute little 1950’s house in Minneapolis and moved back to the place we called home growing up, a small town in the northwest corner of Iowa. Friends, let me tell you I never saw it coming. Pre-baby Madison would have laughed in your face at the idea of moving back to where we grew up, a small, sleepy (and adorable!) town that was miles and miles away from great food, entertainment and all that city life had to offer.

You see, if I’m being totally honest, I believed one thing to be true: Life in a small town was just a good way of wasting away your life. That if we moved back and embraced where we were from it was waving the white flag of surrender and settling into a life of meaningless obscurity. Somewhere along the line, probably while I was still in high school and itching for new experiences, I got it in my head that in order for life to have meaning and joy you needed to live in a large city full of excitement, culture and great restaurants. But I got a little lost along the way, forgetting that it isn’t the material things in life that really matter, it’s the relationships with those you love.

That photo above? It completely captures everything about why we moved back to Iowa. The daily visits from Ainsley’s Mimi (my mom) and trips to the farm to visit her Nana and Papa (Joe’s parents) and play dates with her cousin Lottie. It’s so wonderful and rich in meaning that my heart just swells thinking about it. So when the opportunity arose to move closer to those we love? I’m so glad we took the chance on this small-town life and turned our world upside down.

Sure, we have to work a little harder to find unique cultural experiences for our family. And I still miss the food and dining in Minneapolis something fierce, which was only heightened by a quick trip up to our favorite little brunch spot last weekend. But small town life? Well it’s a whole lot more affordable than city living, so Joe and I promised one another that we would be committed to using some of that extra disposable income on traveling as often as possible.

I’m learning to live with a little less good food, things to see and do, places to shop and events to attend in order to embrace a little bit more connection, peace, family time and disposable income. Joe and I constantly talk about how slow life has become since moving to Iowa, and we mean that in the best possible way. It’s been a huge adjustment, that’s for sure, but what a joy-filled five months we’ve enjoyed.


Pregnancy, Family

Motherhood Year 1

January 6, 2016


Ainsley isn’t quite a year old (just a month and a half to go!) but I’m already starting to think about the first year of motherhood as I plan for her first birthday party. Yes, we’re throwing a big birthday bash for our 1-year-old, yet another thing I said I would never do. (God’s teaching me a LOT about using the phrase “never”)

I’ve been making a list of the top pieces of advice I would pass along to a mom during her first year of motherhood. Here are the tidbits from others that I found helpful, and a few things I wish I could go back and tell myself.

1. It will be hard. 
I didn’t want to hear this when I was pregnant, but it’s true. Motherhood is all sorts of hard, from the physical and emotional exhaustion to learning how to juggle and balance and find a new normal for you, your marriage and your new life as a family. It’s hard, but it’s the most rewarding kind of hard and I wouldn’t trade my new normal for my old life for anything.

2. Trust your momma gut. 
Don’t trust Dr. Google or any advice on a mommy message board. In fact, don’t read those at all! But if you feel like something is off, trust your gut and demand answers. If your doctor doesn’t make you feel comfortable or makes you feel stupid for asking too many questions find a different doctor. Don’t be an alarmist, but realize that you know your baby better than anyone else.

3. Don’t cut your hair. 
Okay, this one is a little bit on the lighter side, but it’s great advice I got from my blog-buddy Natalie. I posted a question on Instagram a few months after having Ainsley about chopping my hair, and she strongly discouraged it, enough that I decided to hold off. I’m so glad I did! If you like your long hair, give it time. You’ll eventually have time to wash, dry and style your hair. Trust me! Unless, of course, you like your hair short. Then do whatever you darn well please. 😉

4. Join a new mom group. 
If at all possible, find a group of other new moms to meet with during those first few months. Since we were still living in Minneapolis, the options were plentiful. I joined a group through Amma that met for 8 weeks and was made up of all first-time moms. The nurse-led class was casual, super friendly for babies and the relationships I’ve developed with those women have continued even after the class ended. They are still the first people I go to to ask questions about our babies and their development. There’s something so comforting about having a tribe of women who are all in the hazy, messy and exhausting first few months together.

5. Don’t compare your baby to other babies. 
It’s easy to start comparing your baby to other babies from the moment they enter this world. How fast they are gaining weight and how quickly they are hitting milestones and how cute they are, etc. Just don’t do it. Babies develop differently, and unless your pediatrician flags something to watch, chances are your child is doing just fine.

6.  Get out often during those early weeks and months. 
I had a few friends tell me that it would never be easier to get out and about than when your baby was really little. And I thought they were full of it at the time! But now that I have a squirmy little almost-toddler on my hands I know what they were talking about. When you have a very little baby that sleeps in a carseat and doesn’t require toys, food or other forms of entertainment going out to eat or to coffee with friends is SO easy, so take advantage of it as often as possible! These days taking Ainsley out to eat is a lot messier and much more work. 😉

7. Soak up each stage.
It’s not always possible to soak up the baby stage. In fact, sometimes it’s almost impossible, but as much as possible savor those moments. They are fleeting, just like the sleepless nights and extra pounds of baby weight. Before you know it, you’ll be planning a first birthday party and crying in the corner as you look back at photos of your tiny, bitty baby wondering where the last year went. (Guilty!)

8. Don’t nap when the baby naps. 
Everyone told me to sleep when the baby sleeps, but you guys? The last thing I wanted to do when Ainsley was sleeping was to take a nap. I wanted to take a hot shower and blow dry my hair and get in an at-home workout or just sit mindlessly on the couch and drink a HOT cup of coffee. Although I was tired and craving sleep, I was craving time to myself even more. Maybe you’ll be the same way, too?

9. Say yes to flexible schedules. 
I love a good schedule, and so does my baby. Some people may tell you that schedules are crazy and they don’t work, but I loved my Babywise book and a schedule made Ainsley predictable and easy to understand and it made our lives a whole lot less stressful this year. That said, I’m a member of a Babywise group on Facebook and I almost had to quit at one point because it was nauseating how rigid some people can be about schedules. I think that creating a schedule during those first few months really helped create the grounds for us being able to be more flexible down the road. Travel happens. Life happens. Be flexible within reason.

10. Find a form of exercise that works for you. 
It’s so easy to put exercise on the back burner with a little one, and undoubtedly it takes so much more effort to get a workout in once your baby arrives. But trust me when I say that you should absolutely make time for workouts. It was critical for my mental health and getting back in shape made me a better, more active and involved mom. Chances are the workouts that worked for you pre-baby will look a little different post-baby – the key is finding something that works with your new life. When the weather is nice, Joe and I will go on runs with Ainsley in the jogging stroller, but these days I’ve traded in my gym membership for at-home workouts. Quick, easy and done in 30 minutes? Anyone can find time for that!

Anything you other mommas would add or take away from this list?

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