Roasted Tomato Soup

February 5, 2019

I’m super thankful that although I’ve felt horrible this pregnancy (worse than the girls!) I haven’t really had any food aversions like I did with both Ainsley and Collins. Food doesn’t really sound good or satisfy, but it’s pretty universal across all food groups. So, with that said, I’ve still been eating plenty of vegetables and relatively healthy options.

About a month ago Joe said tomato soup and grilled cheese sounded good, and I have to agree that it’s sounded appealing this entire pregnancy so far. So I made a batch of homemade tomato soup, and then I tweaked it a bit and made it again and again. And now, I’ve got the method down and think I might make tomato soup every week until warmer temps are here.

Joe LOVES this recipe, as do I, and I love that it’s made with really clean ingredients and no cream, yet it still tastes remarkably hearty and satisfying on a chilly day. It also works great as leftovers throughout the week and is fantastic served with toasted sourdough.

Full disclosure: The girls do not care for tomato soup, but I torture then with it anyway and can usually at least get them to agree to the grilled cheese it’s often served with.

Roasted Tomato Soup
Ingredients
3-4 lbs. Roma tomatoes, halved (I estimate this – enough to fill a 13×9-inch sheet pan)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup salted chicken stock
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Caramelized Onions
1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper

Additional grated Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

Directions
Heat oven to 425°F. Line a 13×9-inch baking sheet with foil. Place halved tomatoes on baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Place the minced garlic on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes generously with salt and ground black pepper.

Roast 35 to 45 minutes or until tomatoes are very tender and slightly shriveled around the edges.

Meanwhile, make the onions. In a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat, combine the onions and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are tender and caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Place onions and 1 cup chicken stock in a high speed blender along with the grated Parmesan and blend on high 30 seconds to 1 minute or until mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer mixture to stock pot.

When tomatoes are done, working in two batches, place tomatoes in the blender and blend on HIGH for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until mixture is nearly smooth and no large chunks remain. Place pureed tomatoes in blender with the onion mixture.

Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, adding additional salt and pepper if needed, until flavors are combined and mixture is hot. Serve with additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Easy Roasted Brat & Potato Sheet Pan Meal

January 28, 2019

I’m enjoying a few days of sunshine and work meetings in California and so excited to be here, but I always have THE hardest time leaving my sweet crew. Even if it’s just for a couple days – and they usually go by quickly – I still just miss the heck out of them and love being with them.

When I leave, I do try to do at least a little meal prep to make the days go by smoothly and dinnertime easier while I’m away. I prepped a batch of our family’s favorite homemade tomato soup (recipe to come!), a baked pasta dish for Joe’s lunches, and this roasted sheet pan meal with brats, broccoli and potatoes.

It’s nothing special – and oftentimes I hesitate to share these “not special” meals on the blog – but really, this is the type of food and the way I like to cook on weeknights and when time is crunched. Which, let’s be honest, is more often than not.

Easy Brat & Potato Sheet Pan Meal
Ingredients
4 uncooked brats, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions
Heat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; brush foil with olive oil.

Place brats, potatoes, and broccoli on baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and ground black pepper. Spread in an even layer on the baking sheet.

Roast 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender, brats are cooked through and the broccoli is caramelized, turning just once during baking.

Family

Baby #3 // All the Details

January 22, 2019

Those of you who follow along over on Instagram and Facebook have probably seen our news that we are expecting another baby in August! We are feeling SO thankful for this sweet baby and blessing and as someone who knows what miscarriage is like, we never take the gift of new life for granted. For me, the first trimester always brings its fair share of worry and fear, probably more so than others, and while I can’t say that ever totally goes away, we’re trying to take it day by day and feeling so thankful to be nearly through the first trimester.

I got a lot of questions on Instagram and in personal conversations about this baby and pregnancy, so I thought I would give all the details in one post!

1. Were you trying?
Yes! We had been trying for a few months. Unfortunately, because of my history, we either need to be “in” or “out” in terms of trying. It’s one of the things I’ve grieved in the past, because it feels like it’s such a decision to make and sometimes I wish we could just “see what happens” like some couples talk about, but for us we need to make sure our medical ducks are in a row before trying.

2. What medical intervention did you have to take with this pregnancy?
As I’ve shared before, with both Ainsley and Collins I took progesterone in the second half of every cycle we were trying to conceive. It didn’t seem to be enough to wait until I got a positive pregnancy test to begin supplementing, but rather I needed the supplementation in-cycle for both girls.

This time around, we had been trying for a couple months and I told my doctor I didn’t feel like myself on the progesterone. I usually have ZERO PMS symptoms and while on progesterone I was feeling crampy/gassy/generally off. He suggested testing my progesterone levels in an un-medicated cycle. So we pulled the supplementation and tested the cycle we conceived. Of course, we didn’t know that would be the case, but my un-medicated numbers were in the optimal range – something that’s never happened for me before – which was incredibly encouraging for me to see this change in my hormones.

Once I got a positive pregnancy test, I started supplementation with progesterone injections as a precaution given my history. We are monitoring my levels every other week and I’ve continued to ride the “optimal” or slightly below optimal level at each draw. We recently reduced the amount of progesterone I’m getting and will test again in two weeks. If it’s another optimal level, I may be able to stop the injections. Otherwise we will continue to take the progesterone until I get two consecutive draws at optimal or above optimal. With Collins I was on injections until 32 weeks!

I also continued my regimen of a daily baby aspirin, a bio-available B-complex vitamin, my prenatal (I’m taking this one this time around because it’s tasty and easy to remember to take), fish oil, iron, Plexus Bio-Cleanse, and probiotic.

The cycle before we conceived, I also started to take a series of herbs prescribed by my acupuncturist, and once I got a positive pregnancy test, I started the same custom blended herbal drink 2x per day that I took with both the girls.

3. Are you high risk for this pregnancy?
Some people have asked if we are “high risk” for this pregnancy. The answer is no, and we weren’t considered high risk for Collins’s pregnancy, either. Ainsley’s pregnancy was miraculous, tumultuous and just generally a wild ride, but not something that was deemed likely to be repeated, hence no need for a high risk diagnosis.

4. How/when did you find out?
I took a pregnancy test one morning a couple days before my period was due – it was negative – I took another that afternoon and saw the faintest line. When I went in to have my blood drawn that afternoon my HCG level was a 6 (anything 5 and under is technically not considered pregnant) so we were VERY cautious while we waited two more days to test again. We were so excited when my levels more than tripled and continued to do so for another test. We’ve had one early ultrasound and heard baby on the doppler at the doctor one (and about a hundred times at home on my own doppler, too).

5. When are you due?
August 11th! (If you don’t like to do math, that makes me just shy of 12 weeks right now)

6. How have you been feeling?
Horrible! I mean, definitely could be worse and could also be better is the better answer. I guess it’s just worse compared to the pregnancies I had with Ainsley and Collins. I remember so many days with both girls that I felt SO normal that I would be brought to tears fearing something was wrong. But this pregnancy, while I’ve still had days when I’m worried, I haven’t had many moments when I wasn’t fully aware that I’m pregnancy-sick.

7. Is this pregnancy different than past pregnancies?
Yes and no!

One of the biggest differences this time around has been my relationship with food. I remember specifically craving lots of bread, salty carbs, and generally bland food with both Ainsley and Collins. I craved orange juice and eggs like a mad woman early on, too, and could hardly look at coffee for 14 weeks.

This time around, I’ve been drinking coffee the entire time. While it doesn’t sound AS good as it used to, it still appeals to me. From weeks 5-8 I could hardly stand to eat ANY food. I wasn’t grossed out by the idea of food, I just didn’t want to eat. I would often go until 11 am without eating and probably survived on 1,000 calories a day for a while, which is probably why I was down a few pounds at my first appointment.

But after week 8, food sounded neither good nor bad. I haven’t had ANY foods that specifically sound bad, and have been thankful to enjoy vegetables the entire time thus far, though baked potatoes have sounded particularly good and I’ve found myself snacking on lots of protein!

8. Do you have a preference for gender?
I do not. I am thrilled about the idea of three girls (yay sister club!) but I would love to experience what it’s like to have a boy, too! It’s so not a cliche for me – I really am just so thankful to be pregnant and to even have a third baby and gender hardly seems important to me.

That said, I know my hubby would love to have a boy! And I totally get it – because having a child of your same gender is fun – so for his sake maybe a boy? But really, I rest in the fact that God has already decided and will give us the perfect addition to our family.


Creamy, Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese

January 18, 2019

Happy Friday! We are waiting for a snow storm that’s supposed to hit our neck of the woods sometime today, long-overdue since we’ve hardly had any snow and very mild weather all winter thus far, and I’m over here baking pasta dishes and prepping for a weekend spent indoors watching football.

I’ve been planning/dreaming of making this dish for over a month now – ever since I made a similar dish with butternut squash from Food & Wine for a Christmas party in early December. While I enjoyed the process of peeling and cubing and cooking the butternut squash before actually making the sauce, for a weekday meal it was hardly an approachable method. It seemed obvious that I could swap out the squash for canned pumpkin and get a similar result with less fuss – and while the flavor profile was slightly different I was shoveling hot bites of this in my mouth the second it came out of the oven. So I think it’s safe to say it was GOOD.

One thing to note: This dish (similar to the original I made in December) is best served hot. It’s fine re-heated, but for maximum creaminess and best texture, making it straight through is best. Additionally, I wouldn’t suggest prepping this in advance and baking it later. I did that for the Christmas party I hosted, and I felt that the pasta had absorbed too much liquid while it sat in the fridge, so once again, making it straight through being optimal. It doesn’t take long to assemble and with the help of a high-powered blender (Yay Vitamix!) the sauce becomes incredibly creamy. Enjoy!

Healthy Baked Mac and Cheese
Makes one 13×9-inch pan (6 to 8 servings)

Ingredients
1 box (16 oz.) penne pasta (I used Barilla Plus high protein penne)
20 oz. pumpkin puree
3 cups chicken stock (not unsalted)
1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 1 hour up to 4 hours, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Crushed red pepper flakes, if desired

Directions
Heat oven to 350°F.

Cook pasta according to package directions, removing from water when the pasta is very al-dente and has some bite to it. The pasta will continue to cook in the sauce and you don’t want it to be mushy. Drain; set aside.

While pasta is cooking, in a large high-powered blender combine the pumpkin puree, chicken stock, cashews, garlic, salt and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Blend until very smooth and no lumps or texture remains. Note: You may have to work in batches depending on how big your blender is.

Combine the pasta and sauce, stirring until pasta is evenly coated. Transfer pasta mixture into a 13×9-inch greased baking dish. Spread evenly in dish. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Cover dish with aluminum foil.

Bake pasta, covered, 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 20 to 25 minutes more or until bubbly around the edges and the top is golden. Remove from oven and top with crushed red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve immediately.

Variations:
I think the flavor profile of this dish lends itself to adding in some type of protein, specifically some ground sausage or chopped chicken, which could be added to the dish before baking.

Alternately, you could add a drizzle of basil pesto to the top of the dish before serving or top with some toasted walnuts after baking for a little crunch.

Fashion

Palm Beach Outfit Recap

January 16, 2019

Hi friends! I’m back from a trip to Palm Beach last weekend with Beautycounter. While my everyday life is rarely glamorous and the only reason I have to regularly get dressed up is going to Church on Sundays, Beautycounter trips give me an opportunity to pull out some dresses and clothes I wouldn’t otherwise wear! I got asked to recap where I got everything I wore, so here you go. A full run-down of the outfits I wore and where to get them.

Shoshana Micaela Shirtdress via Rent the Runway

I’ve used Rent the Runway a number of times for Beautycounter events but this was the first time I rented a dress on the more casual side of the spectrum. I loved this dress! In fact, I’m still debating buying it because it was so comfortable, cute and easy to wear. I highly recommend Rent the Runway’s “Unlimited” service if you are planning to need a few different outfits or having multiple occasions in a month that require special attire. It’s much more economical and less wasteful, in my opinion, since many of the dresses I’ve rented have been things I wouldn’t have a reason to wear often.

Cynthia Rowley Inverness Mixed Metalic Fish Dress

This dress is just so gosh darn fun I can’t handle it. It has a fun mix of patterns an and exposed back that shows just the right amount of skin. I love the fit, the length, everything about it!

This jumpsuit is from Anthropologie and the brand is HD Paris. I bought it on clearance in a store in Boise last spring and wasn’t able to find it online anywhere but if you can track it down, I love it and have worn it many times!

The jacket is from Old Navy and a total steal!

The dress I’m wearing in the top photo in this post is sort of hard to see, but I didn’t get a good full-body shot that night. It’s from Baltic Born and the ruffles on the bottom make it SO fun to wear!

So that’s it! A quick recap and hopefully a little guide on where to track down the pieces. It’s always SO fun to get dressed up, but also super fun to return home and put on some more casual attire. 🙂

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