Wednesday, November 26, 2014

i made this :: roasted beets + squash lentil soup

The other night Hunter asked me "How much time would you say you spend thinking about food on a daily basis?"  I'm embarrassed to admit that wasn't the first time someone has asked me that question, and I'm sure won't be the last time.

Between planning our Bountiful Basket pickup, Door to Door Organics delivery and the meals to fill our week, plus juggling Hunter's and I always changing schedules, I have to admit...I think about buying, preparing and eating food a lot.  The main reason for this thinking and over thinking can be attributed to reallllly trying to minimize eating out, picking up lunch a few times a week, grabbing a morning juice etc. and is all in an effort to prepare most of our meals at home.  I'm currently reading Julie and Julia while simultaneously listening to the audiobook  Cooked by Michael Pollan.  Safe to say I have home cooked and home prepared food on the brain.  I just finished a really interesting { to me! } section in Cooked talking about the decline of home cooked foods + meals, and he discussed how we give up time at night to cook a meal and instead use that time for watching tv, spending the night on our computers + phones while eating take out food.  He made such a great point on how even when we do carve out time to "cook" at home, so much of the time we are simply heating up already cooked and packaged pasta to pair it with already prepared jarred sauce.  Michael gave the challenge to cook once a week/month something you'd typically buy.  Examples being granola bars, bread, pasta, pickles, beer etc.  So!  It's given me the extra kick in the pants to make the effort of cooking more meals at home instead of picking something up out of laziness and convenience.

Needless to say, I've been thinking about food quite a bit on a daily basis.  Ha!

Last Wednesday night, I was on my 3rd day of a nasty cold, Hunter was out of town and I had given in to the thought of veggie broth + toast for dinner again.  That was until I saw Katie post her Spiced Lentil Soup with Roasted Beets & Delicata Squash, and did a quick mental round up of ingredients at home to realize all I was missing for this soup was the beets.  I knew my evening dinner was set!  I ran by the store lickity split for 2 beets and within seconds of walking in the door I had ingredients on and in the stove.  

Ya'll.  I can't even express how delightful this soup was.  I never say ya'll!  That's how good it is.  The roasted squash + beets were the perfect addition to the intense harmony of spices in the soup.  I loved the flavors and the addition of coconut milk gave it a really creamy and satisfying comfort while the lentils were enough to make sure you were full after one bowl.  Sadly, the entire pot of soup was gone in 24 hours { Hunter did return from out of town and had some, so I didn't eat the entire pot!  Though I could, would and wished I had. }

This one without question will be put into heavy rotation at the Madfield Casa { along with her thai coconut curry soup that I can't get enough of.  This girl knows her soups! }.  Man oh man.  I wish like crazy I still had some of this in the fridge/freezer at home.  I'll need to whip up a batch when we get back from Thanksgiving for sure!

I love soup.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Annual Friendsgiving!

Living in a more secluded small mountain town makes you realize how much was taken for granted while living in a bigger city.  The list of importance changes weekly, but these are the ones that stick out to me lately:  Accessibility to craft stores, accessibility to a BWW,  accessibility to a plethora of pho restaurants and accessibility to DIA.  My parents and I had much back and forth regarding holiday travel for this year.  It is about a 4+ hour drive from Steamboat to DIA in Denver which feels like a lifetime compared to the 20 minute drive I was used to for 6 years.  There is also the unknown factor of traveling during the winter months with questionable and rather unpredictable roads.  When it came down to it, we decided it was best I only go home for one holiday this year and that holiday would be Christmas.  Yes, I am 29 years old, yes this is my first Thanksgiving away from home and yes I am sad about it.  My parents are the ultimate hosts and I wasn't only disappointed in missing Thanksgiving { and the over the top ridiculously good food, and if I'm being honest the wineries }, but I've just been missing them fiercely so knowing I had to tack on an additional month until I got to see them was hard for me to come to terms with.

::some favorite memories from Thanksgiving spent in CA::

But!  There are some good things that are coming from me staying put for Thanksgiving.  I'll get to spend it up at Snowy with Hunter and his family { I'm tearing up right meow at the thought of seeing his niece and nephew again.  I miss those little wiggle worms like crazy. } and this will be my first ski season in the 4 ski seasons that I've known Hunter that I'll get to be at Snowy for opening weekend, which I'm so excited about!  There are also the pluses of forgoing crazy holiday traveling, fighting crowds, days spent at the airport + travel etcetcetc.  Once the decision was made that I wouldn't be going to CA, it made it our personal mission to start new traditions here in Steamboat.  We were out hiking one Sunday and I asked Hunter to start brainstorming ideas of ways we could make this Thanksgiving season special.  Without much thought, we both pretty much decided on hosting a Friendsgiving right off the bat.  It's easy to throw around "Yeah!  Yeah.  We'll host a Friendsgiving!" but when the weeks started magically ticking down and we had to make some decisions on the date + guest list + menu, it hits you square in the face just what we signed on for.  

Hunter has a handful of his high school best friends who have also moved back to the Steamboat area { yay! }.  They all have delightful wives/fiancés that I feel so lucky to have really hit it off with.  So!  We invited a few of the men + their spouses and a few other Steamboat friends I've gotten to know over the past few months. 90% of the guest list all went to High School together and Hunter actually works with { oh, this is going to be confusing: } his good friend Tony's wife Camilla's sister Hestia { did ya keep up with that?! }.  I've gotten to know Hestia, Camilla and our friend Emily { who also went to high school with everyone } well over the past few months because we all did a 10 week kickboxing class together!  Ok, this is getting confusing - let's keep movin' along with the story telling.  A normal person would have just said "We had some really great Steamboat friend's over for dinner!" but of course I have to take it a step further and talk to you about Hunter's coworkers.  NE WAY...

I'm so sad that I took no { literally, zero } photos of the finished food/table presentation.  I did get all the recipes online, so I'll share the menu that way!

For light appetizers, I served my go-to veggie dip again with carrots + celery + peppers + cubed homemade bread!  We also had some pickles + black olives + stuffed green olives of both jalapeño and garlic that went like hotcakes.  I really wanted to make this jalapeño dip, but didn't want people to fill up too much on the appetizers.  Next time!  For the meat, I doubled this recipe of stuffed turkey tenderloin w/cranberries + butternut squash + kale + pecans and we { aka Hunter } grilled up a marinated pork loin.  I also made these accordion potatoes which is a delicious and easy peasy potato recipe I've made, and will continue to make, time and time now.  { I omit the lemon because I think I'm one of the few people who really don't care for cooked lemon/lime in majority of my dishes. }  For stuffing, I used this bacon and bourbon stuffing recipe and while it was good, I'm not sure I would make it again.  If it did, I would cut the amount of liquid used and ask a professional { aka a carnivore } to fry up the bacon because I don't think I did a very good job.  Ha!  We also had brussels sprouts with melted shaved parmesan cheese and a creamy rice + broccoli dish that some of our guests brought!  It was all served with freshly homemade buns { yes, freshly made that morning } { toot toot! } { <----- horn = tooted } and plenty of wine + beer and holiday punch to keep us all warm and happy.  Emily brought a few pies and deeelicious carmel bars which ended the night on a sweet note.  I felt really good about the menu + amount of food as we weren't hit with a fridge full of leftovers.  All we have left is maybe 1 or 2 servings of stuffing and that's it!

The entire evening was a huge success.  We played a few quick rounds of Catch Phrase and spent too much time looking things up on Urban Dictionary.  While we had good intentions of playing Cards Against Humanity + a few other games but the conversation kept flowing and I got to hear dozens of stories and memories from Hunter's childhood.  I'll take that over an insulting card game any day!  { but I do love me some CAH }

The Thursday before we hosted Hunter text saying "A coworker needs help with a shift on Saturday.  I'm working 7am-3pm."  My first response was AHHHHH FREAKOUT! with the realization that I would then prepare an entire Thanksgiving meal for 8 people by myself.  I quickly snapped myself out of the freakout by reminding myself that, like it or not, I'm really bossy and territorial in the kitchen especially while preparing food for an event/gathering.  I started early and gave myself enough time to feel good about what food I was working on + time spent cleaning the house.  At the end of the night after everyone had left and we were laying in bed, I was looking out the window at the lightly lit backyard with the massive snowflakes falling and had this wave of appreciation fall over me.  I felt so thankful for the food on the table, the full house of friends old + new, the memories made and the ability to put it all together and take it all down.  I am also thrilled I can cross off both Host a Friendsgiving and Cook with Cranberries from my Fall To-Do List!

We leave on Wednesday for Snowy for actual Thanksgiving and is it bad to say I'm a little relieved the meal isn't falling on us this time?  I'm looking forward to being able to kick back with a warm beverage, zoning out to a football game and helping out in the kitchen when my help is necessary.

So very much to be #thankful for this year!

Monday, November 24, 2014

the weekend.

Haaaappy Monday, friends!  This weekend was good for the heart and soul { and stomach! }  It was one of those cozy winter weekends where I left the house a total of 3 times: Once on Saturday to pick up fresh rosemary and placemats from Hunter's dad's house.  Second time on Sunday to buy a new massive snow shovel { hello 12+ inches of snowfall over the weekend! } + a new French Press and the third time Sunday night for a night date at the gym.  Saturday we hosted our first Friendsgiving and it was a beautiful and delicious success.  It consisted of constant prep from 7:45am until 4:45pm when the first guest arrived, but it was well worth it.  Sunday was our lazy day where we watched football { and I crocheted! } for hours and hours on end.  I am thrilled for the 3 day work week and secretly love the crazy snowfall outside.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ladies night!

Last Wednesday I hosted our first soiree in our new house - a quaint girls get together with some women I work with!  Anyone who was within 50 feet of me the past 2.5 years know the main thing I missed from storage was my wine glasses + white dishes.  I talked about those sum bitches time and time again.  I could not wait to plan a little party and get to use them all.

Growing up, my mom hosted every event for Thanksgiving + Christmas usually Easter and most family birthdays.  I have been immersed in food/party prep for as long as I can remember.  While I hated it most Christmas mornings as it always meant we had to open our gifts crazy early and clean up our gifts crazy early to start cleaning and preparing for family to come over I am crazy thankful for those habits and memories now.  

I made everything from scratch that I could, including juicing apples for hot apple cider and cooking up dried black beans for a few of the dishes { <--- a recent thrifty obsession I'm sure to bore you with....I mean blog about soon }.  Everything turned out so great!  It was a chilly willy nilly night out so cuddling up in front of the fire with warm { spiced! } apple cider while filling our new home with laughter and memories was beyond perfect.

Here are the recipes that I served which were pulled from my party planning Eat, drink and be merry Pinterest board.

//Taco bites  These were crazy easy and came together in a snap.  I cooked up the turkey and prepped the toppings the night before.  All I had to do was get my wontons + muffin tin ready { I used 2 small wonton wrappers per bite } and pop them in the oven for 8'ish minutes.  I will, without question, make these again for another party.  

//Black bean egg rolls Another easy peasy go to!  I've made these once before and will continue to make them again.  They are a little more time consuming as you have to roll each one, but given enough time the rolling is so therapeutic and satisfying!  { omg who am I - that sounds like a crazy person talking }.  These were the biggest hit of the party.  The recipe is so easily adaptable for what you'd have in your fridge/is in season.  Deeeelicious!

//Bruschetta While delicious and one of my girlfriends said "I'd eat this entire platter if you would let me!" I'm not sure I'd serve it at a party again.  The bread got soggy from the topping and who the heck likes soggy bread?  Maybe I would serve toasted bread with the topping on the side.  

//Sandwich on a stick These were fun to make and I loved the way they looked on the table.  I simply used spinach, deli turkey and deli cheese with a side of honey mustard.  If I could have found cherry tomatoes at a good price, I would have added those, too.  Next time I would use arugula like the link calls for, but I wasn't sure of everyone's preferences and we had a big thing of spinach at home to use up.

//Funfetti dip or as my guests warmly named it Crack Dip.  It's one of those you love to hate to eat
{ andeatandeatandeat. }. I brought the rest to work the next day and I was thanked and cursed for bringing it and introducing it to people.

I also made our favorite Knorr's veggie dip which is so easy because you can mix it all together the day before and the flavors are so much more pronounced by the time it comes to serving.  

It was such a beautiful evening and I am so thankful for each and every one of these ladies who joined. I always feel like a house is never a home until it's been broken in with a night filled with laughter and warm memories.  These ladies did just that and I la-la-la-love them for it.  A few of them even asked if I'd taken the entire day off from work to prepare the evening's nibbles + dranks and considering all I did was leave at 4p to make sure everything was on the table when the girlz got over - I'd consider that a huge success.  I think my party planning extraordinaire mother would be so proud. ;)

We are hosing Friendsgiving on Saturday { ahhhhhhhhhhfreakout! } and I just hope and pray it comes together as well as this party did!

Monday, November 17, 2014

the weekend.

This weekend was pretty good for being pretty bad.  Jaime and Ryan had been planning a Steamboat { #dreamboat } weekend for about a month now but leave it to { that bitch } Mother Nature to go and ruin it all.  It's happened once before with My Mary, so it only makes sense that she had to strike twice. The weather report was calling for, and I quote, "Hazardous and nearly impossible travel." so while I do know it was wise to cancel the trip, I couldn't help but bum all weekend long about it.

We managed to sneak in quite a bit with the cold + snowy + freezing weather and canceled plans.  Saturday we woke up to snow, snow and more snow.  Hunter and I tag teamed breakfast.  He cooked one of his mom's famous meals, and I cooked the potatoes I can't stop making { and eating }.  We snuggled in on the couch for a few Food Network episodes before venturing out to run some errands.  Hunter knew I had a crappy day on Friday, so he helped make it better by surprising me with buying some Christmas lights! We hung a few outside, I broke down and finally bought good winter boots and while I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I own a pair of boots with fur on them, I can't deny they are warm and waterproof as shiiiz.  We put them to use and went for a snowy hike up Spring Creek which got us all sorts of twitter-pated and excited for winter activities.  We've begun planning our ski trips and enjoyed visions of weekend cross country/snow shoe adventures.  Heart eyes for days!  The rest of the weekend consisted of a Stranahan's event at a local taproom, The BARley, late night walks in the snow, cursing at the TV screen { Broncos, I shake my fist at you! } and a loooooong evening soak at the Hot Springs followed by cooking up some homemade pizza.

I swear at any point this weekend I had a warm beverage in my hand, cycling through warm cider, hot chocolate, hot tea and of course coffee.  This weekend was a really wonderful introduction to the winter season. Now! to plan Jaime and Ryan's next visit...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

fall favorites // GABF + Denver!

Through Hunter's brewery we were able to snag Great American Beer Festival tickets before they were opened up to the public which is a big whoo hoo! as they typically sell out in 15 minutes or less.  So crazy!  We bought the max tickets we could, 4, the day they were opened up to us and decided the Who What Where When Why would just figure itself out later.

Hunter, his dad, their friend Dean and myself { the Who of the weekend } met up downtown Denver Saturday morning and the GABF { the What } festivities began!  Hunter's dad has the hookup with a 21st floor condo in downtown Denver { the Where } so we stayed in the heart of Denver all weekend.  We extended our trip through Monday to make a long weekend out of it. { the When }.  And the Why?....well because, craft beer that's why.

I'd been to two GABF's in the past { back before it got to be such a huge event GABF would donate tickets to my old work in exchange for production time to promote the event } and I'm not ashamed to admit my main goal in attending those Festivals was simple: Drink as much beer as possible.  This time around, it was a far different { better! } experience going with 3 beer aficionados.  GABF had rolled out a new mobile app since I'd been, so the 3 men had spent a lot of time mapping out which booths we needed to hit up. It was far more organized going with them than my other 2 visits and this time I felt like I got so much more out of the evening!  We saw tons of breweries that we'd been to on our travels, spent some time with the Steamboat breweries that were represented at the Festival, ran into some friends and all around really enjoyed the evening and experience.  When we left GABF for the night, we went to Wazee Supper Club for some grub { a fool proof Denver favorite! } and when it came time to order drinks, the 3 of us in unplanned unison said WHAT DO YOU HAVE THAT ISN'T BEER?!  Ha!  Needless to say, we'd beer'ed ourselves out for the day.

It was a stunning fall weekend in Denver and it felt good to be city dwellers again for a few days!  Before/after our GABF Saturday night session, we enjoyed a few tried and true favorites { Wynkoop Brewery + City o' City + Wazee Supper Club + Brooklyn's + Scratch } and indulged in some new-to-me dinning { Jelly }.  All weekend long we walked blocks and blocks and I soaked up all the sights that hold countless Denver memories for me.  Sunday morning, Ashley + Sara + Jaime and I met up at Jelly for brunch.  Those truly were some of the best 5 hours of the weekend.  The 4 of us hold an  astounding amount of memories, inside jokes, respect for one another, love and laughter.  We were coined The 20 Something's when we all worked together and were { and still are! } thick as thieves.  A morning with these ladies was exactly what I needed.  I'm still riding out the pure bliss that comes from calling them my best friends.

Jaime also got Hunter, Bob and I on the list for the bitchin' tailgate that my old employer/her current employer hosts for each home Broncos game.  The tailgates are always thrown with such flair and there is a general buzz of excitement/anticipation in the air with all the Broncos fans in attendance.  The tailgate was a double whammy because not only do we love Broncos, we love tailgates { read: free beer + food }, but we love Jaime and Ryan and we love the opportunity to spend as much time with them while in Denver as we can.  At the tailgate, I was also able to catch up with several old coworkers whom I've known for 7+ years which is always a kick in the pants.  Somehow we found ourselves hidden in a storage shed with an old friend taking Jagger shots and it felt just like the old days.  After the tailgate we hopped a pedicab to a nearby bar for game time.

Hunter and I were able to pick up a few boxes of storage/items that were still at Sara's house from when we on/off lived with her over the past few years and made a trip to went crazy at Target for items we would need for our new house.  { it's amazing what seeing the inside of a Target does to a girl who had to quit the Target habit it cold turkey. }

The weekend was perfectly perfect.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

check it, fall!

I'm really feeling the fall season this year.  I want all the things cuddly, warm, knit/crochet,'thing.  Give to me all the fall things.  So!  Here is my 2014 Fall To-Do List to follow up my 2013 Fall To-Do List!

make some spicy, pumpkiny, deliciously fall dessert.
I had this on my list last year, but totally failed at following through.  I don't like baking and don't necessarily like eating anything super sweet { so whyyyy set this as a goal, Beth?! } but I want to try something new by baking something new.  Here is a spicy, pumpkiny deliciously fall desert that I'm eyeing right now.

host a christmas girls craft night!
I had a faaaabulous group of women in Denver who would get together once every few weeks for a craft night  - we had so much { drunken } creative fun!  I've started planting the seed with a few girlfriends in Steamboat and we have a craft in all we have to do is put the plan in motion!

cook with cranberries!
I've never cooked with cranberries { secret: I've never liked cranberries but in all fairness haven't actually had them in a while.  So!  Why not see if I do or don't like them as an adult? } that weren't dried or canned, and I think it's high time I've tried.  I'm thinking of starting out easy by making this brussel sprout + cranberry dish because I love brussel sprouts that much.

make this persimmons salad!
We've received persimmons in our Bountiful Basket the past 2 baskets and guess what.  We don't like persimmons!  { this is a horrible theme }  Butttttt - my vegan soul sister Lindsay sent me this recipe that she made for her Thanksgiving last year and it was a huge hit at the party!  We actually have everything needed for the recipe at home so really what is there to loose?  Weird fact: I had a dream about this dish last night so it has to be a { weird } sign of some sort.

throw a friendsgiving!
Holidays to me are all about traditions - and I really want to start a new Friendsgiving tradition in Steamboat.  It's been rather difficult making any weekend plans with a part time weekend job - but this is important to me and we'll find a way to make it work!

make pho { again }!
I have been dreaming of homemade pho since Hunter and I made it a few weeks back.  I want/neeeeeeed to make a huge batch of the broth to freeze for those chilly fall/winter evenings { or really, morning + afternoons, too }.  Nomz.

stovetop simmered fall spices on the stovetop!
I was candle shopping this afternoon and about dropped dead in the store at how expensive they've gotten { #frugal #inflatedsteamboatprices } when I realized I could simmer some of my spices + fruits on the stovetop and achieve the exact same end result!  After a quick Pinterest search, I've learned that it's called Stovetop Potpourri, which isn't my fave.  I'm sticking with Stovetop Simmered Fall Spices.

Monday, November 10, 2014

the weekend.

This past weekend was one that will keep me warm for quite a while.  Everything lined up perfectly making for an active/busy/productive/silly/relaxing weekend.

Mary and I spontaneously planned another 12 hour mini-mountin meet up in Dillon.  Even though we talk obsessively every day minute by minute but it wasn't until we met up and I heard her sweet giggle that I was able to realize how much I miss my Mary.  My Mary who has been a sister to me for more than 8+ years.  My Mary who approaches every situation with care and creativity.  My Mary who is so damn lovable and perfectly silly.  We had a really wonderful 12 hours eating, drinking, laughing, laughing and laughing.  I love that girl too much.

The rest of the weekend was filled with working + beer drinking + football watching + final mountain bikes of the season (him) + spending time soaking up the sun with coffee and bailey's in hand while reading Julie and Julia (her) + bed and breakfast cooking (us).  It's Monday now and the snow is aggressively falling and will continue to for the rest of the week,
but (!)  I feel so warmed from the memories over the weekend (cliche) that I don't mind the snow one bit (truth).

Monday, November 3, 2014

the weekend.

It was a really beautiful weekend up here in The Boat.  The weather on Friday was absolutely phenomenal considering it was the last day in October.  I spent Halloween evening downtown with a really dear friend and her entire { darling } family.  Steamboat closes down their main street and the town + families pour in for trick or treating from business to business.  Spirits were high with the wonderful weather and it was so fun to see the creativity put into each costume.  I was home by 7:30pm with a glass of wine and scary movie on, which I consider a huge win.  The rest of the weekend consisted of working { both H + I }, chili making, and most importantly relaxing.  I've been working weekends at a part time job for a few months now and I can't even express how much I appreciate a day off now.  The weather yesterday was perfect for an early breakfast out with Hunt, gym time, with some serious r&r.