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Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Let’s be honest. If you live anywhere within the Polar Vortex it’s hibernation time. I’m pretty much in hibernation mode between now and March. At first I try to fight it–making plans and lists of fun things to do–but I’m throwing in the towel and just letting it happen this year. For me, hibernation means tons of time at home (many weekends included), fires in the fireplace, movies on TV, reading books, plenty of sleep, and a healthy dose of laziness.

It also means warm, comforting meals. That’s where the slow cooker really shines. If you ask me what’s the one must-have kitchen appliance it would, without a doubt, be a slow cooker. Seriously. If you’ve been on the fence about getting one, just do it. It’s worth every single penny and doesn’t even require that many pennies. You can score a great slow cooker on Amazon.

I adore chili and this is a super healthy version you can make that requires minimal prep time. The only thing you have to do is brown the ground turkey in a skillet. Conveniently, you can chop your veggies in the time it takes the meat to cook. Dump it all in the slow cooker and you’re good to go. I even snuck some spinach in there for an extra dose of greens in your day.

Stay warm out there!

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (keep the seeds if you like it spicy, discard if you don’t)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (I used an orange & yellow)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no salt added kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15 oz) cans no salt added tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1.5 cups frozen yellow corn
  • 2-3 heaping handfuls baby spinach
  • Avocado for garnish (optional)

Preparation

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey to skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste, cook until it starts to brown. While turkey cooks, chop your veggies. To the slow cooker add jalapeno, onion, pepper, beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and red chili pepper flakes. Add turkey. Cook on low for 6 hours. Add corn and spinach. Cook on low until spinach wilts, about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve in bowls and top with chunks of avocado or any other desired toppings.

*Note: I’ve made this recipe using beans and tomatoes in BPA-free packaging (boxes and glass jars). Although the measurements of those packages differ slightly, I’ve tested the recipe both ways and it works so use whatever you have available.

Source: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod 

 

Wedding Wednesday: My Bachelorette Party!

Happy Wedding Wednesday! We’re getting so close–just 24 days to go! Today I’m so thrilled to share some photos from my bachelorette party a few weeks ago. It was the best. My sister/MOH planned an incredible night and thought of absolutely everything. Thanks, L!

Before I dive into some pics, a big shout out to my dear friend Michelle who’s an amazing photographer and captured all of these photos. Thanks Mich!

It all started at the Public Hotel with a round the clock bridal shower. Have you ever heard of one before? I hadn’t, but my sister filled me in during planning. Basically, each girl gets a time of day and chooses a gift you can use at that time. One of my favorite parts (and I don’t think it was planned) is that most girls explained in their notes what that time means to them and why they got the particular gift.

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Oh there were games. And videos from Robert. And answers that made me do this…

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Remember how I said my sister thought of everything? I wasn’t kidding. Before we headed out to the next portion of the evening’s activities each girl received one of these Eiffel Tower bags with loads of surprises inside including the monogrammed apron you see above…

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AND SWEET KIERA COOKIES! Are you dying over them as much as I am? image-9

Remember when I gave each girl a Sweet Kiera cookie when I asked them to be my bridesmaids? Well Leah and Kiera schemed to create these Laduree macaron-inspired cookies with the tag “Girls Gone Mild.” Doubly dying over here. The thing about these cookies is while they look too good to eat they taste too good not to eat. Trust me. Robert and I gobbled this one up the next day. Thanks Kiera!

So why all the French-inspired goodies? Besides the fact that I absolutely adore Paris (duh) we were headed to a French cooking class at Cook Au Vin!

_DSC3349That chef is a very kind, patient man.

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Who thinks I should add a flame torch to our registry? Anyone…anyone? Yeah probably not….
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I swear I’ve never made this face before in my life.

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_DSC3365One of the final products: French onion soup! Dear Leah, Stef, and Mal….I’m sorry for making you cut all the onions. I owe you!

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Huge thanks to all the girls who helped me celebrate and for making it such a special night.

Roasted Tomato & Corn Soup

Roasted tomato & Corn soup

Roasted tomato & corn soup

I know what you’re thinking. Soup? In the summer? Just stay with me here. You won’t be disappointed.

Farmers market fresh tomatoes roasted in the oven until they spill their juices and slightly caramelize. Sweet kernels sliced off the cob cooked until they’re just golden around the edges. Bell pepper singed on an open flame and peeled down to its soft flesh. Now add all that to slightly sauteed yellow and red onions plus a fiery jalapeno. Some chili powder and seasonings. A little bit of vegetable broth. Then whip everything into a frenzy with an immersion or regular blender.

You feel me now?

If you’re like a certain someone I know and you love when food is a vehicle for toppers, well, then you’re in luck. The options are endless: Freshly chopped cilantro, chunks of buttery avocado, shreds of salty tortilla chips, I could go on…

Despite its creamy texture there’s not a drop of dairy in here–not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just foods from the earth hanging out in your soup bowl getting along famously.

Summer is served

Summer is served

Roasted Tomato & Corn Soup

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

4 ripe tomatoes, sliced in half horizontally

Olive oil

4-6 ears of corn, kernels sliced off the cob, cobs discarded (or saved for future endeavors)

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)

3 garlic cloves, minced

About 2 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth

1 tsp chili powder

Salt & pepper

For garnish: Cilantro, avocado, paprika

Preparation

Heat oven to 375. Place tomatoes flesh side down in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil. Roast until tomatoes get soft and juicy, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Spread the corn in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the edges begin to turn light brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Place bell pepper directly on the flame of a gas burner turned on high. Sear the pepper and use tongs to turn until each side is charred all over, about 10 minutes total. Place pepper in a brown paper bag and close tightly. Let stand for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the skins and seeds. Chop pepper.

When the tomatoes have cooled slightly, peel off the skins and discard.

In a soup pot, heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute yellow onion, red onion, jalapeno, and garlic until onions soften, about five minutes. To the pot add the tomatoes including any accumulated juices, half of the corn, and red pepper. Season with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add enough vegetable broth to cover the vegetables. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-high. Using an immersion blender (or adding to a blender in batches), blend until just smooth. It’s okay if some smaller chunks of vegetables remain. Add the remaining corn to the pot and serve with desired garnishes.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Wedding Wednesday: 52 Days & Honeymoon Reveal!

Good morning! I was pretty torn over whether to make today’s post more wedding or home related since we’ve got lots going on on both fronts. However, since the days of blabbing all things wedding are getting down to the wire I’ll take that route today. There will be plenty of time to chat about the home (we met with our first contractor yesterday evening for a few projects we’ve got up our sleeves!) after September 28.

When it comes to our wedding I keep waiting to feel crazy or stressed, but I just don’t. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve had about 10 months to plan (since finding the venue and setting the date) and as of this coming Sunday we’ll have been engaged for a full year. How crazy is that?!?!? Unbelievable. I still feel like our engagement was such a shock to me that sometimes I still can’t believe this is actually happening. But it is!!

So today, I thought I’d share with you a list of the big remaining items we have left to accomplish over the next 52 days. Keep reading because at the end I’ll spill the beans about our awesome honeymoon and would love your recommendations.

Our big remaining wedding To Do’s

  • Invitations – they’ll be mailed to guests by the end of this week. I got to see them (by the incredibly talented Megan of Ruby the Fox) and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve actually never received a suite quite like the one we’re sending. I may wait to share them until we have the professional photos because I’m pretty sure my iPhone could never do them justice.
  • Engagement pictures–we’re taking them this Friday with our wonderful photographer, Tim Tab. We plan to take some photos around our new home & some favorite spots in our new Logan Square neighborhood!
  • Final meeting with our florist next week.
  • Final meeting with our officiant, Rev. Bob. Next week we get to go through our whole ceremony with him, get his feedback, and continue to tweak it. I love our ceremony so much. Robert and I both need to write/edit our vows. We won’t know what the other has written until we say/read them at our ceremony.
  • My bachelorette party! Holy cow, it’s in two weekends. I am so excited about it and it’s all very…me. I can’t wait to spend the evening with some of my favorite ladies. I’ll be sure to share details and photos afterward.
  • Choose wedding music. In many ways, this has been coming together very organically. Any time I’ve tried to Google stuff like “processional music” I’m left feeling blah. Like whatever I find is inauthentic or has been done 10 million times before. However, over the past few weeks Robert and I’ve be listening to favorite stations on Spotify or Pandora (on our new awesome bluetooth speakers) and realize a song we’ve both loved forever and means something to us could be the perfect fit for any number of moments in our big day.
  • Finalize our day-of schedule.

Our honeymoon:

I’m so thrilled to share with you that shortly after our wedding weekend we’ll be heading off to spend a week in a cottage in Bay Harbor, Michigan. After lots of planning, dreaming, and guidebook buying to places all over the world we decided that this is the perfect place for us. A place where we can unplug, lay low, unwind, and spend our first days together as husband and wife. During the day, we plan to explore adorable nearby towns such as Charlevoix, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and others. (Any lunch/picnic spot suggestions??) In the evenings, we’re thinking there will be lots of delicious food and downtime by the fireplace. If you have any recommendations for what to see/do in northern Michigan, we’d absolutely love to hear it!

Life Lately

Hi friends! I’m going to start by being honest with you. I don’t have a recipe to share today so if you’re hungry grab a snack or a cup of tea and just keep reading : )

It has been a while since I last posted. Life has kept me so busy I haven’t had time to make many new or original recipes. But I miss you! I’ve been relying mostly on standards (like pan-seared or roasted salmon) or quick recipes I’ve found on Pinterest. I haven’t even used Pinterest for a full year yet and I almost can’t imagine how people cooked before its existence. Amazing how quickly new technologies infiltrate our lives and minds, eh? Still, I wanted to reconnect with you and let you know that I plan to return on a regular basis very soon. After all, winters in Chicago are very long and there are few things I love more than spending a cold day in my warm kitchen.

If you’re curious about what I’ve been up to lately, let’s start with the really fun stuff: Wedding planning! We’ve made some huge progress in the past few weeks including a venue (here in Chicago), date (Sept 28, 2013…only 323 more days to go!), photographer, band, and even a few surprises for our guests that Robert and I are super excited about. That’s been among our favorite parts: What can we do to show our guests a ridiculously fun time? Now if only I had something to wear I’d really be on top of things. (That’s still a work in progress…)

I have to admit that I’ve been completely shocked at how difficult and, at times, emotional the wedding-planning process can be. In the past, any time I’d hear a bride complain about anything I’d just think to myself, geez get over it bridezilla. Do you know how lucky you are? But now I’m willing to admit that I get it. I completely get it. You have to make a million decisions and you’re constantly trying to figure out what’s “you” for an occasions you’ve (probably) never done before. It ain’t easy. And you want to do it in a way that feels authentic. Of course, I’m not losing sight of what the day is about—promising to share the rest of my life with the person I love most on the planet. Still, we’re inviting all of the other important people in our lives to share this occasion with us so I can’t help but care and want to make the day special, meaningful, and fun for everyone. Ever since making some of the bigger decisions (like where to get married—we moved the wedding around to a few different places before coming back to Chicago) the other pieces have fallen into place and it’s been really exciting to watch. I’m even planning to do a bunch of DIY items for the wedding to give it a really personal touch. That’s sure to be interesting since I don’t have a crafty bone in my body. I’ll let you know how it goes!

In other news, I’ve been teaching yoga and lots of it! I have two permanent classes during the week, but sub a lot of classes, too. When I first started writing for magazines I was so terrible about invoicing because I couldn’t believe people were actually paying me to write. That’s exactly how I feel about teaching yoga! It’s a dream come true. I’ve known that I wanted to teach yoga ever since I first started practicing it when I moved to Park City, UT in 2006. Over the years I even started various trainings, but for whatever reason never went through with them until I found CorePower Yoga and completed Teacher Training there earlier this year. Without a doubt, I know it was a right time, right place, right style of yoga kind of thing. It’s still a little surreal to me to step into the role of a teacher, but with every class it feels more and more comfortable. When I first started teaching I felt completely nervous (would I mess up? would I forget the sequence?) Today, I feel nothing but joy and excitement before walking into the room.

Things will continue to stay pretty jam-packed over the next few months with trips to Ann Arbor (we leave tonight for the University of Michigan vs. Northwestern game—Robert went to Michigan and I went to Northwestern so that’s always a fun game to watch!), Vermont to see my family for Thanksgiving, and a Caribbean cruise with Robert’s family in December. Of course there’s sure to be lots of wedding planning, yoga, and plenty of good food along the way. Can’t wait to share it all with you soon!

xo

Paige

 

 

Simple Dreams

This blog has nothing to do with food. However, it involves living a balanced life so I figured it’s fair game.

I follow a few blogs where I feel like I’ve started to see the writers’ dreams coming to life right before my eyes. I don’t know any of these bloggers personally, but sometimes I feel like I do. (A sentiment that I think is pretty standard in the blogosphere.) These people’s backgrounds vary widely from a 20-something Chicagoan launching a new website, to a food blogger who recently landed a cookbook deal, to a married team of wedding photographers whose careers are totally taking off (all the way to Australia, in fact). And I have to admit that as exciting as it is to see these strangers’ dreams becoming realities and to also see their dreams growing bigger and bigger, I’ve started to wonder: Are my dreams big enough?

Many people talk about setting goals, reaching for the stars, and aiming farther than you ever thought possible. Watching people—friends and strangers alike—manifest their own dreams is one of the most fulfilling things for me to witness in life. Any time I hear about someone working on a passion project while maintaining a full-time job I always want to encourage them to follow their heart and turn their passion into a career. Hanging on my wall directly above my computer is a hand-stitched sampler that my grandma made for me when I graduated from college. There’s a peach-colored angel with rosy cheeks and a halo surrounded by yellow stars with the letters D-R-E-A-M embroidered in green below it. The only tchotchkes I own (I don’t like clutter) are those that say “dream” because I felt they were worthy of the space that they occupied. For most of my life, dreams powered every decision that I made. Fact is, there’s no way I would have ever been a full-time freelance writer by the time I graduated college if I hadn’t been able to dream it first.

But lately, the idea of dreams makes me want to lie down and take a big, fat nap. It’s exhausting. What else is exhausting? Every time over the past few months when I asked myself to identify what my dreams were I felt like I didn’t have any. And that felt depressing. Or I’d come up with a few things that I thought should be my dreams and they just didn’t feel right. Where did they go? What happened to my mantra? When did I stop wanting more and start selling myself short?

Yet slowly, over time, I realized something: My dreams haven’t gone anywhere. They’ve just changed. And today my dreams seem so much simpler than they used to be. So much simpler, in fact, that I shrugged them off as not being worthy of the label ‘dreams’ at all. Other dreams felt so common—the stuff most people want—that they didn’t feel unique or exciting enough to actually be my dreams.

In some ways I feel so close to achieving some of my dreams that once they were within reach I no longer identified them as dreams. And just because you achieve one doesn’t mean you need to come up with another, similar dream that’s so much bigger, right? Because, for me, that sounds even more nap-inducing. At a certain point I think you need to stop, soak it all in, and admire what you’ve already accomplished. Otherwise, how are you ever going to be content if your dreams just keep expanding?

Not only have my dreams become so much simpler lately, simplicity is exactly what I’ve been dreaming about. Specifically, the time to enjoy the things that make me happiest in life—cooking, practicing and (one day) teaching yoga, and taking my dogs for long walks daily instead of 30-minute jaunts around the block. I also dream about being able to care for others (and perhaps little ones in the future)—a skill I’ve recently identified as something that I love, that makes me happy, and that I’m good at.

Of course I want to continue enjoying all of the wonderful things in my life including my career. But what I truly dream about isn’t all of the books I can one day write, but how can I find a balance between writing, yoga, cooking, and caring? How can I make space in most days for all of these things that keep me feeling happy, healthy, and balanced? What I’m noticing about these people with their big dreams coming true—and I’m sure they’d agree if I asked them—is that dreams often come with sacrifice: Sleep. Health. Relationships. Exercise. And I’m sure if I asked them they’d say it was worth it.

But for me, at this moment in my life, instead of adding more to my plate in pursuit of some wild dream, I just want to soak it all in. I want to ride the waves of what my dreams have already created so I can enjoy them and watch them unfold each and every day. As small and as simple as that may seem, that’s exactly what I’ve been dreaming about.