It’s been three months since our Baby Dahl, Spencer William, was born. (I started this post when he was 4 weeks old…and have had to backspace his age five times)! It has been the most blissful three months of our lives.
Spencer William’s birth announcement – created by me. Photography by Hudson’s Photography
On the night of May 11th, my mom & I decided it would be fun to test out these adorable mini coffee cake pans we’d just bought. Griffen and I were at her house; the kitchen was a cake batter, powdered-sugar disaster! Halfway through icing a coffee cake, my mom’s in the shower and the stomach pain hit me instantly. Grabbing the chopping block until it passed, I shrugged it off as coincidence. Five minutes later, I yelled at Griffen to come to the kitchen, “I’m not positive but I’m pretty sure I’m in labor. I’m going to have this baby tonight!” My mom came rushing into the kitchen after my dad pulled her out of the shower. “This is it!”
After what seemed like just minutes, Spencer William entered the world on May 12, 2016 at 6:50am. Much to our surprise, Spencer William measured 22 inches long and weighed 8lbs 8oz (after two bowel movements! The nurse said he would’ve weighed 9lbs if they had weighed him right away).
He is named after his daddy, Griffen Spencer, and of course shares a name with my little brother, “Uncle Spencer”. (Although I’m sure Uncle Spencer tells no one in Nashville it’s Griff’s middle name!) His middle name is to honor my dad’s late father Lloyd William, whom I never had the chance to meet.
I’m loving every sweet second of motherhood; from the middle-of-the-night feedings to the morning snuggles; the spit-up covered burp rags to the adorable tiny outfits. Every precious, tiring & emotional moment that have come with my newborn are times I cherish, because they mean that I’m a mom. Wow. It feels weird to even type those words. I’m a mom.
I’ve dreamt of this season of life since I was a little girl, begging my little brother to play ‘house’ with me and my water babies. Let me tell you, it’s far more fun (and fulfilling) playing house with my real baby dahl! :)
The months & moments leading up to Baby Dahl’s arrival were some of my favorite. My mom (the most talented interior designer I know) and I spent every waking minute together – brainstorming, painting, sewing, and dreaming of the days and nights spent with Baby Dahl in the nursery. We drove our men crazy!
Everyone warned me (or my husband I should say) about nesting. I’m here to vouch… it’s the real deal! I knew I’d hit nesting rock-bottom at 36 weeks, when I asked Griffen to bring home eight 6-foot trees for a privacy fence. That night at 10pm, I had him and my parents standing in our backyard in winter coats, looking at these trees, when I realized what I really wanted was a wood fence. Oh, and for Griffen & my dad to build it! My men were so patient with me, as my nursery honey-do list quickly escalated into a full-blown house/yard list! I mean what newborn doesn’t need dining room chairs recovered to velvet? … or a fence in the backyard so they can’t crawl away!?
With lots of help, and many batches of homemade cookies as bribes, everything got done! You know, they say “Happy mom, happy baby!”
We are now over the halfway mark until Baby Dahl arrives into the world, and are in full swing on the nursery! Everything for Baby Dahl’s nursery is picked out, and now it’s execution time. (When this is posted, I’m actually in my 3rd trimester)!
Finished walls… decor still to come
Since we are waiting to be surprised on gender, we’ve thought hard on giving the nursery a fitting look for both a baby boy or baby girl. I have always adored blue since I was a little girl. My dad & I always specially picked out all the blue M&Ms from the bag and said they were our favorite because our eyes were blue. We are going with neutral ivory and linen colors, with accents of light blue. (if Baby Dahl is a girl, we’ll throw in a some splashed of pink to spruce up the girliness)!
First on the Nursery list is paint!
I fretted over paint colors, looking at light blues or maybe chalkboard paint… but as always, I listened to my mom’s mantra “less is more” and stuck with a cream. I chose Benjamin Moore Muskoka Trail. This color is everywhere in our house, but looks much warmer upstairs. I was happy with cream, but wanted the nursery to have a different look than the rest of our house. My mom had the brilliant idea of doing pearled stripes.
After hours of researching stripes and different products to use, we decided the best way to tackle this was to test out some options. I wanted the stripes to be subtle and look like wallpaper.
Option #1: Minwax Polyurethane Semi-Gloss
In my closet, I painted the BM Muskoka Trail base color.
I taped off a stripe (using original blue painter’s tape) and painted a Polyurethane Semi-Gloss top coat.
24 hours later I took the tape off.
The Poly gave a very shiny look, and noticeable stripes, but wasn’t the look I was going for. After seeing the poly, I realized I wanted more of a shimmer.
*Key lesson learned – leaving the blue tape on was a mistake! It left blue residue under the paint that would not come off. When using painter’s tape, be sure to take the tape off immediately after each stripe to prevent residue!
In my closet again, I taped off a stripe with blue painter’s tape.
I painted a stripe using the Modern Masters Pearl.
I immediately removed the tape (no blue residue!)
I didn’t like the contrast between the base color and the pearl (see pics below)… I wanted it more subtle. Also, the Modern Masters paint is very thick– much thicker than normal wall paint! It’s also water-based, so I mixed in water for thinning… but the color was still too dark of a pearl. To get the perfect subtle color of pearl, I added some of the Muskoka Trail paint to the Modern Master + water mix. Perfection!
Let the striping begin! The hardest part about painting stripes is the prep work. Measuring, measuring again, using a level to make perfectly straight lines to tape off… hard work! We used a laser level to set on a stool to shoot a line up the wall to tape – much easier than moving a four foot level over and over again!
Skinny paint brush for cutting in the ceiling and trim boards
PATIENCE! (but after measuring, it’s truly pretty easy!!)
1. Choose vertical or horizontal stripes. I chose vertical to make the ceilings look taller.
2. Paint your base color on the wall (this will be one of your stripe colors) & let dry for 24 hours.
3. Figure out how wide you want your stripes to be? i.e. I used 11 inches. 10 inches seemed too small for my room and 12 inches seemed too wide. Will vary based on the look you want & the room size!
4. Time to Measure! Measure the total room in inches.(i.e. a 11’x12′ room = 552 inches). Dived that number (552) by the width (11) of your stripe to give you the number of stripes that will fit in the space. The formula:
Total Room Wall Length ÷ Stripe Width = Total # of Stripes in Room
5. Unless this results in a whole number, which is very unlikely, there will be a bit of extra space at the end of the last wall.
552″ room width / 11″ stripes = 50.18 stripes
(50 whole stripes & .18 of another stripe)
6. To get rid of that extra .18 of a strip at the end of your wall, take your remaining (.18 of an 11″ stripe) and distribute it evenly to your stripes. First figure out how many inches .18 of a stripe equals. Multiply the leftover amount (.18) by the length of the stripe (11):
.18 x 11″ = 1.98″ leftover to stripe
7. Take the leftover amount (1.98″) and distribute it evenly among your stripes. If you have a lot of stripes and the amount isn’t too big, you can distribute it among fewer stripes. I took this ~2″ and added .25 inches to 8 stripes that were on the wall over the door (so they would be the least noticeable).
8. Stripe! Use a level & blue painter’s tape to tape off the stripes. Be careful to tape the outside of the stripe, so every stripe it outlined by tape. It will be clear after taping which stripe you’re painting (it will look wider) and which one you’re leaving alone (it will look skinnier because of the tape taking up its space) *I used a laser level to shoot a line up the entire wall to tape against. It was so much faster than using the normal level!
9. Mix your paint. (Described above, I mixed my base color (Benjamin Moore Muskoka Trail) with the Modern Masters Pearl, and added some water for thinning. The ratio was 4 parts Modern Masters to 1 part base paint. Continue stirring in water until you get a thin paint-like consistency).
10. Using a roller, start painting your stripes! Take the tape off immediately after you paint each stripe to prevent blue residue.
When I was five it was ballerina tutus (although I usually wore them on my head, running around roaring like a lion in dance class). When I was in my teen years, it was makeup and curling irons. I still remember my mom taking me to get my first makeover & buying me “big girl” makeup… and her begging me to learn how to curl my hair so I wouldn’t pull her out of bed so early on school days.
In college I took one graphic design course and I was hooked! (My mom always told me to get a minor in Graphic Design… I’m kicking myself now for not taking her advice). Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to work with amazing designers in my job and get to keep learning!
Here are a few examples of things I’ve done for myself and friends! I would love to custom make Pretty Paper for you or your next event. Reach me on Facebook, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I designed and printed everything for my July wedding that you see here.
The Invitations & Envelopes (Wedding, Showers, etc.), Program, Menu, Table Numbers, Name Cards, Favor Boxes, Monogram, etc.
I have an affinity for detail – (an obsession really). For those of you who “want things how you want them” … I get you. There is a huge difference between size 10 font and size 10.5. And YES, that extra space just changed the entire look! I still remember the day my mom and I spent about 14 hours at her kitchen island with two laptops, a printer and lots of french press coffee!
Ladies Shower, hosted by the best host of all – my mom!
My first wedding project for someone else, was this Save-the-Date card. The client wanted sophisticated chic mixed with whimsical romantic. Her gorgeous picture mad my job quite easy!
If you’d like Pretty Paper for your next event, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at email@example.com.
A delicious & healthy summer side-dish that will steal all the attention at the next backyard barbecue!
Convincing the men in my life to eat vegetables is almost as difficult as convincing myself to stay away from chocolate. My mom makes a wonderful tomato pie that the boys love (recipe to come)! We wanted to give the pie a healthier twist (& trick the men into eating their veggies). Mom thought up the brilliant idea to take the famous Granny Hudson’s Pie Crust and stuff it with healthy summer vegetables!
See below for recipe and pictures of the cooking process!
2/3 Cup Crisco + 1 teaspoon Crisco (chopped up into tiny squares)
1/4 Cup Ice Cold Water (may need to add 1-2 Tablespoons extra if dough is too dry)
Vegetables (you can add more or less of each veggie)
1 large Zucchini
1 large Summer Squash
1 medium Red Onion
1 Orange Bell Pepper
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Oregano
1 tsp. Dry mustard
1tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1tsp. Garlic powder
2 handfuls of sliced Almonds
1/2 C. freshly grated Mozzarella Cheese
4 oz. Herb Goat Cheese
1 Large Egg White
1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds
Balsamic Glaze (for drizzling)
Start with the veggies. Chop the vegetables into medium size chunks (not too big or the tart will be hard to eat, but not diced or they turn to mush. *They will cook down in size!) Add the raw veggies to a large bowl, with the Tablespoon of Olive Oil.
In a small bowl, mix together the Salt, Oregano, Dry Mustard, Black Pepper, and Garlic powder. Toss over the vegetables until well coated.
Place on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven: 400F for 35-40 minutes, turning them with rubber spatula every 15 minutes.
*While the vegetables are cooking, start on the crust.
Mix together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter, chop in the crisco until the mixture resembles pea-sized balls crumbs.
Slowly add 1/4 Cup of ice water and mix with a large fork until the water is incorporated and the dough begins to come together. Then add the other 1/4 Cup of ice water. (Add 1 more Tablespoon if needed) *A Midwest Skinny Tip: Do not over mix the dough!! It should be a tad crumbly as you form it into a ball to roll out. It is not supposed to stick together perfectly!
Form the dough into a ball- then divide into halves.
Roll out the first half of the crust dough on a floured surface, forming a long oval. Using a metal spatula, place the rolled out dough on a baking sheet. (may want to cover with touch of olive oil to prevent sticking). Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Assembling the Tart
Sprinkle Herb Goat Cheese down the center of the tart
Scoop half of the vegetables on top of each tart
Sprinkle the grated Mozzarella cheese on top
Fold in the edges of the tart towards the center (see pictures)
Brush the top and sides of the tart with egg white
Add sliced Almonds on top
Bake on 400 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and drizzle lightly with Balsamic Glaze
A great pesto sauce pairs deliciously with so many different foods! Pour it over pasta (or zoodles), use as a base sauce for homemade pizza, add flavor to roasted vegetables, pour over grilled chicken, pork chops or pork tenderloin, use in The Midwest Skinny Pesto Chicken Tacos. The list is endless!
The night I made Pesto, we decided to have a hodgepodge of menu items to go with it! I made Spinach & Wheat Fettuccini Noodles to go with either The Midwest Skinny Marinara Sauce or the Pesto Sauce (or a mixture of both, yum!).
I also made a large salad with shaved Cauliflower, Red Cabbage, Onions, spiced Pecans and Pears. My papa (grill master) grilled the Organic Chicken Tenders, and I sautéed a pan of Portobello Mushrooms.
I added the grilled chicken to my salad, and drizzled the pesto sauce over it. The boys loved mixing together the pesto and marinara sauces over the noodles and adding mushrooms & chicken.
We picked the Basil fresh from our Garden (over the summer! These winter days, you’ll have to make a trip to Kroger…. twist my arm! That’s my favorite place to be).
Griff’s strong muscles helped me “bruise” the basil before adding it to the food processor. Bruising it first helps release more of the flavor!
In trying to find a great pesto sauce recipe, all I could find were ones loaded with cheese and oil, or lacking in flavor. So after much trial and error, I came up with this recipe. I hope you like it! Feel free to add the cheese if your heart desires!
Calling all Chocolate Chip Cookie lovers!! Put a unique twist on your traditional chocolate chip cookies, with this Almond Joy Cookie Recipe. Laced with Coconut Flakes and Sliced Almonds, stuffed with Bittersweet and Semi-Sweet Chocolate- this cookie will melt in your mouth!
This cookie is gooey on the inside, yet the toasted coconut flakes bring perfectly crispiness to the outside (a rare find!). Even baby Andrew wanted some!
Some tips for making these cookies turn out perfect…. don’t over-mix the dough! The final dough should be a little more crumbly than your standard chocolate chip cookies. When adding in the flour, don’t stir it so much that the dough is consistent. If you do, then by the time you add the nuts, coconut and chocolate chips the dough will be overly mixed. What’s the big deal? Overmixing the dough pops all of the air bubbles in it that are needed to give you a gooey-centered & crispy edged cookie. Instead you’ll be left with dense, dry and brick-like cookies. No one wants that!
Also important, form the dough into loose, jagged balls. You’re probably asking yourself, “what does that even mean?” It means if you’re using a cookie scoop, don’t pack the dough tightly. And don’t scrape the edges of the scoop – you don’t want perfect circles here! Also, you can roll the dough in coconut flakes just before baking. The oven toasts the coconut to give your cookie a crispier outside.
Lastly, leave these in the oven! So many people love gooey cookies. (My mom and I are the only people I know who appreciate a crispy burnt cookie!) But if you just trust me here… bake these a little longer than normal. Just enough so that the jagged pieces of dough are brown and crispy. The inside will still be gooey and melt in your mouth, but the outside crunch gives you a whole new cookie experience!
The tricky thing about this bread is that the amount of flour needed can differ on any given day. I suggest to start small, adding in one cup at a time. If the dough is still sticky and wet, add a little more flour. Continue this until you get smooth elastic looking dough. Another key to this bread is letting it rise twice! Great bread takes patience. But I have faith you can do it!
The cheese will keep well in the refrigerator, but be sure to remove and let it reach room temperature for serving. (Heating it in the microwave to soften it will make the consistency and taste be off!) Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself dipping random edible items (like potato chips, or veggies) in the cheese once all the bread it gone. We do it all the time- no judgments here!
In a Kitchen Aid mixer (or large bowl), combine the sugar, water, 2 Tbsp of oil and yeast. Stir and let sit for about five minutes until the mixture is foamy.
Mix together 4 cups of Bread Flour and the Salt. Add this to the mixer (using the dough hook) and mix until dough forms a ball. Add the 5th cup of Flour if the dough is still sticky. (You may need to add even more. I don't usually use more than 4.5 - 5 cups).
Knead the dough for 8 minutes on the mixer or very vigorously by hand until dough is smooth and elastic.
Coat a large bowl with some olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, rolling it around so it is covered in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise about one hour or until at least doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Finishing the Bread
Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil. Pour the dough into the pan and press to fit evenly in pan. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside for another hour (until doubled).
Use your fingertips to poke dimples in the dough, about 3 inches apart.
Drizzle remaining Olive Oil over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the Salt and chopped Rosemary all over the dough.
Bake 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove bread from the oven. Slice and serve! (I like to slice it into 2x3 inch long pieces).
Add all ingredients and mix until smooth and well blended. Store in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
Last weekend was my first time ever hosting (& cooking) a dinner party in my own home, all on my own. My mom and I always cook together – and hosting is one of our favorite things!- but she’s always there to put out any fires I cause and save the day! Taking what I’ve learned from her (the expert!) and doing it all on my own was equal parts nerve-wracking and exhilarating.
To start the night off, I filled my kitchen table with appetizers. A three-cheese board with crackers, olives and mixed nuts, a bowl of grapes and strawberries, and a plate of spanikopita. A great cheese board must have a variety of cheeses, each bringing a different flavor to the party! I always choose a Smoked Gouda (I like the ones dipped in red wax to add color to the board). I also like a spiced Havarti- like Dill or Caraway. Havarti is sweeter and more mild, but has a really smooth flavor. For this event, I also chose Boar’s Head Canadian Cheddar (Griffen’s current favorite!). It’s a good idea to have a “safe” cheese (like cheddar) that you know everyone will enjoy and be familiar with.
Griffen’s parents, grandfather, two siblings and their wives and two children all came for dinner. When you include us, that’s cooking for eleven people! I took my mom’s advice to “stick to what you know” and decided to make homemade spaghetti for the main dish, using The Midwest Skinny Meat Marinara Sauce (with organic spaghetti noodles, and gluten free rice noodles for some with allergies). I knew I would easily be able to double the recipe to feed everyone, and it could cook all day without me having to worry about it.
I also baked Chicken Fingers and made some homemade Mac-n-Cheese (Pasta shells with milk, butter, salt, pepper and Velveeta) for the little ones!
Along with the Spaghetti, I served homemade Rosemary Focaccia Bread with Boursin Cheese. Homemade bread can be intimidating! It’s one of the least fail-proof things to make. The amount of flour needed can change from any given day based on how humid the house is, how warm your water was, etc. After years of studying my mom make bread, she has taught me how to tell when the dough needs more/less flour, when it’s risen enough to bake, and how to have patience in letting it rise!
Praise the Lord, last weekend this turned out just perfectly. What makes the bread out of this world is the cheese. It’s honestly to die for. Once we run out of bread you’ll find me sitting the kitchen dipping anything from broccoli to tortilla chips in it. Not even ashamed!
I also made a large VegetableSalad with romaine, arugula, tomatoes, carrots, snap peas, avocado, toasted almonds and ramen noodles, red onion and purple cabbage tossed in my homemade vinaigrette (that I am still perfecting. Once it’s ready, I’ll be sure to post it). It’s nice to have some type of vegetable with pasta, but rather than something hot (like steamed asparagus or broccolini) I wanted to something chilled to compliment the warm Spaghetti and bread.
For dessert I made Almond Joy Cookies with vanilla ice cream. Now, not everyone is a coconut fan (especially my husband!), but even he devours these cookies! The coconut gives them moisture and crisp all at the same time.
I made the cookie dough the night before, formed into loose balls and kept in the refrigerator until after everyone was nearly finished eating dinner. I wanted them to be fresh out of the oven for dessert!
Dessert time with Uncle Griff!
The calm before the chaos. But I have to admit, I love the chaos! A house full of family, reminiscing on old stories, laughing and chasing around the kids.. Couldn’t ask for anything more!
Griffen was such a big help! The perfect (& honest) taste-tester, a Swiffer Jet master, quick to jump in the car and race to Kroger for my forgotten items, and the reason so much of the cookie dough was gone. I love you!
As the snowy cold air makes its way to Indiana, a spicy dinner dish sounded like the perfect warm-me-up! This one-pan paprika roasted chicken with roasted carrots, mushrooms and red potatoes is super healthy yet full of flavor! It’s even good enough (& fail-proof enough) for company! So go ahead, throw a dinner party. All your friends will be raving about your cooking!
My husband, Griffen, is not a big fan of spicy foods (he likes his burrito spicy but not like ewww spicy). To make this dish more mild for him, I served his chicken & vegetables over brown & wild rice (purchased in bulk from our new & amazing Kroger organic section). I ate the chicken & veggies plain (well, nothing about this recipe is plain. it’s packed full of flavor!)- and it was the perfect amount of kick!
For you Whole30ers out there, I know how hard it can be to cook dinner for a group where some are Whole30-ing it up and some aren’t. Tonight you won’t have to wear yourself out trying to get two meals on the table by dinnertime. This recipe will make everyone happy! (Whole30ers, just skip the rice and you’ll still have yourself a delicious filling meal).
This recipe was the perfect amount for the two of us. I even had some left over that I saved and ate the next day for lunch! Easily double or triple the recipe to feed more hungry mouths!
One-Pan Paprika Roasted Chicken, with roasted carrots, mushrooms and red potatoes. A flavorful dish with a kick of spice, perfect served over rice or quinoa.
1lb skinless, boneless Chicken Tenders or Breasts (if breasts, cut in half)
¼ tsp. Kosher Salt
¼ tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp. Smokey Paprika
2 tsp. Olive Oil (Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil)
2 Garlic cloves, minced (large cloves)
½ medium Yellow Onion, diced
1 Cup Bella Mushrooms, sliced thickly (they will shrink)
1 Cup Red Potatoes, cut in 1-inch chunks (Substitute any type of Potato)
1 Cup Baby Carrots
½ Cup Chicken Broth
½ Cup White Wine
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme (1-2 tsp. if dried)
In a large bowl, combine the Paprika,Salt and Pepper. Add the chicken pieces and mix together until fully coated with the spice blend. Pull the chicken pieces out and put on a large plate. Repeat the process, adding more spices if needed, until all the chicken has been coated.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add Chicken and cook until brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer Chicken to a plate. Repeat the process until all Chicken has been lightly cooked.
Add the garlic and onion to the same skillet that you just used to cook the chicken, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir another 2 minutes. (If the pan is dry, add in a few dashes of chicken stock to help sauté). Add the Potatoes and Carrots. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. While sauteing, use a spatula or spoon to scrap the pan, lifting up all of the flavors cooked into it.
Gradually pour the wine into the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the chicken stock; stir. Return the chicken to the pan and bring to a boil.
Cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium-low, simmering until the chicken and vegetables are cooked. Cook for about 30 minutes (or until carrots are soft). Right before serving, add in the thyme.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper. Serve on farro, rice, or quinoa.
Tomato and Basil are soul-mates. Winter, Summer… no matter the season, they’re the perfect couple- and my favorite flavor combination.
Okay fine, twist my arm. I’ll also add to that combination some toasted bread and a plate of olive oil & balsamic topped with salt and pepper. And if you insist… a generous pour of Cabernet Sauvignon. (Or to experience this dinner like a real Italian, I’ll splurge for a bottle of Montepulciano. But shh.. don’t tell my husband. As far as he knows, it’s just another bottle of bitter red wine).
And to keep Griff happy and patiently waiting for me to yell “dinner’s ready!” his chilled glass of Kim Crawford’s Sauv Blanc just met him on the couch. My husband is such a hard worker (and sweetheart)- always helping me in the kitchen, running to Kroger at the last minute for that one ingredient I forgot to get… even brings me coffee in bed every morning, AND does all of our laundry! (trained him well). So some nights when I cook, I force him to go relax in the living room with Kim (Crawford that is) and not lift a finger. And that way he doesn’t realize it’s after 7 and he still hasn’t eaten dinner. ;)
The great thing about this red sauce is that it’s fail proof. Which is exactly what I need when I’m in a hurry to whip up dinner after a day commuting to the office in Indy. Another great thing- the leftovers freeze and heat back up perfectly! (a great bonus when cooking for two).
I usually make a double recipe of this- eat it with spaghetti one night- then freeze the rest to use as sauce for homemade pizzas another night.
A delicious marinara sauce that is perfect for spaghetti or homemade pizza! If you like to prep meals ahead of time, this sauce is perfect to make and freeze!
1 Can (28 oz.) Crushed Tomatoes (For a chunkier sauce, use Diced Tomatoes- or fresh if in season!)
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (can substitute with Coconut or Avocado Oil)
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 tsp. Salt, coarse
½ tsp. Ground Pepper
1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped (or ½ tsp. dried Parsley)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped (or ½ tsp. dried Oregano)
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried Basil)
1 Bay Leaf (optional if you want a milder taste)
1 Tbsp sugar (*exclude for Whole30 compliance)
*optional: Parmesan Cheese to grate on each person's plate
Meat Marinara Sauce
* To make this sauce into a meat marinara sauce, you'll also need the following:
1- 8oz. can Crushed Tomatoes (set aside for the end)
½ medium Onion, chopped
½ lb. lean Grass-fed Beef
½ lb. lean Turkey Sausage (I like Tennesee Pride uncooked patties)
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
2 tsp. dried Basil
½ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Pepper
*optional: ⅛ cup dry red wine
In a large skillet, heat the oil (olive, coconut or avocado) over medium heat. Add the onion and saute appx. 5 minutes, stirring very frequently, until onion is soft and translucent.
Add the salt, pepper, and mined garlic and saute for another 3-5 minutes. The onions should be carmelized and sweetened at this point.
Then add the can of tomatoes, parsley, oregano, basil and bay leaf. Simmer, covered, on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Once sauce has cooked, remove the bay leaf. Then stir in the sugar (skip this step for Whole30 compliance).
Taste the sauce and add more spices as needed. I usually throw in more fresh basil after the sauce has cooked. *(For a spicier sauce you can increase the black pepper, or for a real kick add red pepper flakes... but beware it only takes a few red pepper flakes to make it hot!!)
Cooking the Meat
In another large skillet, saute onion until translucent. Add the beef and turkey sausage.
Once meat is browned, add minced garlic cloves and cook a few more minutes.
Add the seasonings/spices and cook until meat is fully cooked.
Scrape meat mixture into the Marinara Sauce.
Deglaze meat pan by adding a little bit (~1/4 Cup) water to the pan, lifting up the juices and flavors cooked into the pan. Pour this mixture into the marinara sauce.
Add the 8oz. can of tomato sauce.
Taste it! Add more salt, pepper, seasoning if needed.
*optional: Add ⅛ cup. dark red wine for a richer taste. Sometimes I taste my sauce and feel it needs this, other times i think it's just right with out it! Your preference!
I weirdly LOVE my veggies. While I still have the “normal” cravings of chocolate and the anything-dipped-in-peanut-butter snack…. I also experience “weird” cravings of raw purple cabbage and cauliflower dipped in mustard.
One thing I do not crave, is drinking veggies that taste like… veggies. Smoothies are the hottest new recipe on pinterest. There are over 3 million posts with the hash tag #Smoothie. But nearly all of them are packed with fruit, adding up to more sugar than one should even consume in a day.
So I set out to perfect a smoothie that is almost only vegetables, but tastes completely sweet and delicious! (The key? Raw Almonds and Cinnamon!)
Last weekend I had the pleasure of hosting a baby shower for my dear friend Allie. She is having a little girl, expected January 2015, named Caroline Faye. (Lots of shower pics to come in my next post!)
This recipe-Chicken Bow Tie Pasta Salad- was the main dish we served at the shower. I got so many compliments and requests for the recipe that I decided to post it here on The Midwest Skinny. I hope you enjoy!
This recipe is the perfect dish to take to a pitch-in. It’s very light, yet full of flavor. (What I like to call “nutritiously delicious”). For a less carb option, you can leave out some of the noodles, or replace with your favorite Gluten Free brand!
Fall is my favorite time of the year! (Well, I say that about every season… but right now Fall is definitely top of the list!) My heart gets so happy when the leaves begin to change colors. I keep finding myself wondering “How lucky are we that God created our world to be so extravagantly detailed and beautiful?” This time of year makes me feel so thankful that I have the gift of seeing His spectacular creation every day.
This fall has been exceptionally busy, with lots of travel for work and our family’s first (and must i add PRECIOUS) grandbaby entering the world! (Pics of baby Andrew Keaton to come this weekend!)
I commute to Indianapolis every day for my job. And while the drive can get boring, this time of year is so beautiful that I love it! I blare the music, horribly singing along to TSwift’s EPIC new album 1989 and make up weird names for the different colors of leaves I see on the way… most of which are named after food … since it’s 5:00 and I’m usually starving.
Last week’s leaves were a bright orange, inspiring me to bake these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins. (It’s fall. How much inspiration does anyone really need to bake something pumpkin?) I hope you enjoy them!
Assembling the muffins!
Final result! Large muffins on the right. Mini-muffins on the left. (The mini-muffins took about 7 minutes less to bake).
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel Topping
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
2 Cups Flour (I used Organic, Unbleached White Flour)
1 Cup Pastry Flour (I used Whole Wheat) (If you don't have Pastry Flour, just use total of 3 C. Flour)
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 Cups Sugar
1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Spice
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon* (see note)
2 Cups Pumpkin Puree
4 Large Eggs
1 1/4 Cups Olive Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
Cinnamon Streusel Topping
1/2 Cup Sugar
5 Tbsp. Flour (I used the Whole Wheat Pastry, but plain flour will work great, too!)
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
5 Tbsp. Butter, cold and cut into pieces
* I LOVE Cinnamon and added in a few more dashes. If the batter tastes a tad plain to you, (i mean who doesn't sneak tastes of the batter?!) add in more!
Preheat the oven to 350.
Line muffin pans with paper liners. (I also sprayed mine lightly).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and pastry flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl (electric mixer) combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, eggs and oil. Mix only until blended.
On low speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. (over mixing will cause your muffins to fall flat after baking!)
Cream Cheese Filling
Combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator while you prepare the muffins.
Cinnamon Streusel Topping
In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, sugar and flour.
Using a pastry blender (or two forks), cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.
Transfer topping mixture to the refrigerator until ready to use.
Using a cookie scooper (or two spoons), fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (~2 tablespoons).
Scoop a dollop of the Cream Cheese mixture on top of the muffin batter- about half the size you did for the batter. Use a spoon to flatten out the cream cheese so it spreads across most of the muffin.
Scoop the remaining batter on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. The muffin wells should be filled almost to the top.
Sprinkle a generous amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells. (Don't worry about clumps of butter in the topping, those get crispy and delicious!)
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Let sit for at least ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
*I made one 12-count pan of large muffins, one pan of 12-count mini muffins, and two small loafs of bread. Baking time will be quicker for mini muffins and a little bit longer for the bread loafs. Don't worry if they seem too gooey when you first take them out. That what will keep them moist once they cool.
Cold and snowy winter days in my house are meant for wearing my Christmas jammies, sipping endless cups of french-press coffee and dancing to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack while I try out new recipes.
After being snowed in for days, living on coffee and homemade cookies, something warm and healthy started sounding delicious.
This soup was the perfect fix! It is entirely nutritious, Paleo* and Whole 30 compliant*, and the perfect medicine for the winter blues. It’s also great to take to a friend who may be feeling under the weather
Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments below! Make any alterations to the veggies added? Would love to know!!
A few weeks ago, I had the honor and delight of asking nine of my closest friends if they would stand with me on the most important day of my life -as my Bridesmaids. Marrying my best friend is the greatest gift God has given me- and knowing I’ll be sharing it with my dearest friends brings me indescribable thankfulness.
Meet Shelby. She is the sister I always wanted. I thank God every day for making her fall in love with my big brother, Keaton. The past five years she has been the perfect example of a Godly friend, sister and now wife. I am forever grateful for her constant love and encouragement. It means the world to me that she will be by my side every step of the way- and standing next to me on my wedding day.
I am so honored to have Mischon with me on the day I marry her little brother. She has always been my biggest supporter. I feel so blessed to have her in our lives; I don’t know what I would do with out her. I can’t wait to become her sister-in-law.
I’m so thankful to God for giving me these nine wonderful friendships — and now to have them stand with me on the most important day of my life. What a year 2014 will be!
Thanks toThe Dotted Line in Nashville, TN for the lovely Bridesmaid boxes and to Sugar & Spice for the delicious wedding dress sugar cookies.
I will never forget the night Griffen Dahlstrom asked me on our first date. (I practically had to beg him!) It was the beginning of my first summer home from college. I had my eye on Griffen all semester. My whole family knew his name and football number, saw the video of him killing a shark on spring break, and had listened to me exclaim that he could be “the one”, weeks before Griffen ever knew my name. The night finally came when he asked me on a date to Dairy Queen. I was so nervous, I honestly didn’t think I would physcially be able to go. I raced home after waitressing at the Country Club when Griffen pulled into the drive, walked to the front door and rang the bell. As I anxiously opened the door, I turned around to find my mom standing behind me smiling and my dad and brothers standing tall waiting to give a firm handshake (which indeed they did!). Griffen led me to the car, opened the car door for me and we were on our way. Down a road that would lead to the best four years of my life. That hot June night at Dairy Queen, we sat outside eating our blizzards and telling stories until the place closed down and lights went out.
to three years later, September 28th, 2013. Griffen took me to Lake Monroe, a rocky beach where we have spent many dates- picnicking on summer afternoons, and gazing at the Indiana stars on summer nights. I started to get the feeling just maybe this was it. The day I have been waiting my whole life (and certainly our whole 3 years together) for. But just when I thought any second now he will start pouring his heart out and get down on one knee, his phone rang. It was older brother, Keaton, asking us to stop at Dairy Queen on our way back home and pick him up a Butterfinger Blizzard (which is a frequent request by him, so nothing out of the usual).
My heart raced as we drove in nervous silence to Dairy Queen. “Act normal” I kept telling myself, but there was no hope for that. I sat in silence as we pulled in and parked right where we did on our first date. We approached the window- hand in hand- when he stopped me and…
(while our moms hid behind cars firing away their cameras!)
My wonderful soon-to-be mother-in-law, father-in-law, and grandfather the Lord has blessed me with.
I couldn’t be more thankful for them.
My soon-to-be nephew Grayden & niece Sterling. They already call me “Uncle Madison”, but promise that once we get married I’ll become “Aunt”.
My sweet mother- my best friend- knows me all too well. I have a deep admiration for antique china, and she found an entire set of Antique Haviland Limoge China- Silver Anniversary Pattern (circa 1902). The woman who owned this set was a great friend of the Kennedy Family. I couldn’t be more thankful and touched. Oh, and Griffen was thrilled as well. ;) He loves the gravy boat… I promised I would make his Bs & Gs with it when we’re married.
I am overwhelmed with thankfulness and joy for the bountiful blessings the Lord has given me. My selfless and loving parents- my encouraging and caring siblings (Keaton, Shelby & Spencer) who are my absolute best friends- and now the sweetest and most selfless, God-fearing fiancé- and a sweet and wonderful family of in-laws. Thanks be to God, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 136)
As summer has packed its bags and fall has officially moved in, I thought I would take a look back at the most delicious dishes my mom & I whipped up this summer, take a family vote for favorites- and share the winner with you.
This summer, I learned that the right sauce makes all the difference. Two of my favorites are barbecue and pesto. But until experimenting with some leftovers, I never imagined they could pair so perfectly in one unforgettably delicious dish. Reflecting back on the summer, this was by far our favorite meal. The funny thing is, it was a “leftovers” night. We had homemade barbecued chicken and chipotle cream sauce (which we ate with sweet potatoes) leftover from the night before- and tortillas leftover from a fish taco failure earlier that week. Our garden was bursting with fresh basil, and we still hadn’t cooked that ‘one weird thing’ we get each week from the Farmer’s Market- (this week, Christmas Pole Lima Beans).
So we took our leftovers, whipped up some homemade pesto and wallah!… leftovers night just got a whole lot more delicious! BBQ Chicken Tacos with Pine Nut Basil Pesto, Christmas Pole Lima Beans and a Chipotle Cream Sauce.
Heat a large cast iron skillet to medium heat, add oil and butter. Add lima beans, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes more. (Keep in simmer heat until Tacos are ready to assemble).
Building the Tacos…
Warm soft corn or flour tortillas (your preference!) on a skillet over medium heat. Remove and add the following:
1. Pesto, spread on the tortilla
2. Grilled Balsamic BBQ Chicken, pulled apart off the bone
3. Christmas Pole Lima Beans
4. Shaved Cabbage & Tomatoes (*optional, but they had beautiful color, taste, and crunch!)
Chipotle Cream Sauce, drizzle over top
(and if you’re anything like me and love pesto, drizzle s’more on top!)
The end of summer brings many people the blues- kids go back to school, Moms suddenly realize how quickly their babies are growing up, work vacation days have all been spent, college students dread the long nights spent cramming at Starbucks, and the tan you worked so hard for begins to fade, as the only time the sun shines is when you’re sitting at your desk in the office.
But before you know it, you’ll find yourself saying, “I love Fall”.
That’s the beauty of God’s creation- when one season ends, another begins. Kids make a new best friend in class, Moms are busy sewing the perfect Halloween costume, Saturday college football tailgates begin, and let’s be honest… being tan will only give you wrinkles.
Here in the Midwest, Fall is full of good food and great thanks. And it happens to be my favorite season to spend in the Kitchen! Get the skinny on what I’ll be cooking, only here at TheMidwestSkinny.com.
One of my favorite things about Bloomington summertime is waking up early on Saturday mornings to go to the Farmer’s Market with my best friend (my Mom!). The local Farmer’s Market is a Bloomington MUST! It is filled with everything from organic fruit and veggies to farm-raised meats and eggs- live music and bouquets of beautifully arranged flowers – hot kettle corn and tents of delicious grub from local restaurants. Mom and I buy as much as we can fit in our basket (or as much as we can afford with the change we dig out of our purses… seems we always forget to bring cash!)
Our first stop was for Brown County Coffee and delicious Mini Frittatas from Feast (our favorite spot in town!) We always pick up fresh tomatoes for homemade salsa & guacamole (recipes blooming soon!) and something sweet to take home to the boys! Today’s Simply Delicious treat was a flourless dark chocolate cake- it sounds rich but it was light and fluffy, the perfect match for a cup of hot joe!
We usually get one weird thing we have never tried before.. this week was a box of Christmas Pole Lima Beans. [Wait until you see what we did with them.. let me just say our family took a vote and they were an ingredient of the best meal we’ve ever made! I’ll give you a hint: barbecue grilled chicken, tortillas and homemade basil pesto were all on the list! (coming next week!)]
Sunday night is family dinner night in the Turner home. Which means I have an excuse to bake! (but honestly, who need any excuse to bake?!)
Nothing is more enjoyable than sitting by the fire on an August night, surrounded by the laughter and love of your whole family, and a great big bowl of warm homemade Peach Cobbler over Vanilla Ice Cream!
My great grandmother, Grannie Hudson, taught my Papaw how to make this crust when he was a boy, who then taught my mom. Every Thursday night while my Grandma was getting her hair done at the beauty shop, my mom and her dad would bake a pie using Grannie Hudson’s crust.
Through every holiday – Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July, birthdays…- my mom has been perfecting my skills at making cobblers and pies.. and it all starts with perfecting the crust!
Start with the Crust. Mix together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter, chop in the crisco until the mixture resembles pea-sized balls crumbs.
Slowly add 1/4 Cup of ice water and mix with a large fork until the water is incorporated and the dough begins to come together. Then add the other 1/4 Cup of ice water. (Add 1 more Tablespoon if needed)
_*A Midwest Skinny Tip: Do not over mix the dough!! It should be a tad crumbly as you form it into a ball to roll out. It is not supposed to stick together perfectly!
Form the dough into a ball- then divide into halves. Melt 3/4 stick of butter and pour into the bottom of the 9 x 13 in. glass pan.
Roll out the first half of the crust dough on a floured surface, forming a 9 x 13 piece. Using a large metal spatula, fold the dough in half to pick it up and set in bottom of buttered glass 9 x 13 in. pan.
Set aside and begin making the cobbler filling. (see below for peach!)
Peach Cobbler/Pie Filling
Mix the first five ingredients of the Peach Filling together with rubber spatula in a large mixing bowl, until well blended. (It will be runny). Slowly stir in the flour and mix well.
Pour peach mixture into pastry shell.
Roll out second half of crust dough the same way you did the first half.
Using a spatula to pick up the rolled out dough, carefully cover the peach mixture.
Use a sharp knife to make 6 - 1 in. slices in the top dough layer to prevent bubbling.
Bake for 15 minutes on 450º, then continue for 1 hour on 375º
Let cool for 20 minutes (if you can stand to wait that long!). Cut with knife and remove pieces with a metal spatula/large spoon.
Carrot Cinnamon Oat Cookieswith Golden Raisons + Toasted Walnuts
1 Cup Rolled Oats
2 Ripe Bananas, mashed
1/2 C. Unsweetened Natural Applesauce
2 C. Carrots (shredded in food processor)
2.5 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 C. Golden Raisons (add more if you’d like!)
1/2 C. Toasted Walnuts (add any toasted nuts you’d like!)
Preheat the oven to 400°. Toast the nuts on a skillet on medium-high heat, until golden brown and producing a nutty aroma- set these aside. Using a food processor, process the carrots until they are shredded (about 30 seconds). Add the ripe bananas, pulse until mixed together. Empty contents into large mixing bowl. Add the applesauce, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and stir well with rubber spatula until all ingredients are mixed together. Add in the raisons, oats and toasted walnuts. Using a cookie scooper or spoon, scoop out tablespoon size portions of the dough onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon (and sugar if you need the sweetness). Bake on 400° for 10 minutes. Then turn the oven up to 450° and continue baking for another 10.
These Midwest Skinny Carrot Cinnamon Oat Cookies are SO delicious, yet entirely nutritious!! Every ingredient is a nutrition-packed, whole food – free from the chemicals, fat and additive sugars our bodies were not made to consume. They are the perfect morning treat with a hot cup of chai tea! And perfect for your kiddos- they’ll never know they’re eating carrots!
Thanks for stopping by The Midwest Skinny! I’m Madison and this is my blog where you’ll find the skinny on healthy living & loving in the Heartland.
I was born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana by the most selfless and hard-working parents. My mother is my best friend, and has taught me everything I know in the kitchen.
This year has been the busiest but most blissful year of my life. In July, I married my college sweetheart and recipe taste tester, Griffen. Sharing our love for fashion and all things pretty, my mother and I planned and designed every detail of our wedding, all the way down to the printed material. Check it out!
I’m so delighted you stopped by The Midwest Skinny! Make yourself at home.
Heat the oven to 375º F. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
Cream together the softened butter and sugar in electric mixer with paddle attachment. Once a creamy consistency, mix in the cornstarch, salt and flour (do not over mix). Lastly, add the Lavender and mix just until ingredients begin forming clumps of dough.
On a floured surface, knead the dough 10 times and roll out to an 8x8 inch square. The dough will be about 1/2 inch thick. Using a metal spatula and your hands, carefully lift the dough and place it in an 8x8 inch glass baking pan lined with parchment paper. (if you want thinner shortbread you can cut the dough in half and make two 8x8 inch pans that are 1/4 inch thick). To prevent the dough from bubbling, make holes with a knife or fork all over the surface of the bread dough. Dust with 1Tbsp. of sugar then place it in the oven.
Bake for 17 minutes (if using one 8x8 pan; if using two pans to make thinner shortbread, bake for 15 minutes). After baking for 17 minters, open oven door and knock the pan against the side of the oven to relieve any spots that may be inflated. Continue baking 15 more minutes, until edges are beginning to brown. (In my opinion the more done the tastier!) Immediately dust with the remaining 2Tbsp. of sugar and let cool.
Using a sharp knife (not serrated!) cut the shortbread into whatever shape you want! I made long skinny rows, as you can see in the picture at the top. **(Another option is to dip the entire 8x8 square in chocolate ganache and letting it dry before cutting the shortbread into pieces. This will require a double recipe of the ganache, as you will need to fill the bottom of a 9x13 pan with chocolate (or something the shortbread slab will fit into easily).
Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan until edges boil (small boil, not large bubbles), stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let stand for 3 minutes, then stir until smooth liquid consistency.
Submerge cooled shortbread pieces in the Chocolate Ganache until the sides are halfway covered in chocolate. Place on parchment paper, chocolate side up, to cool.