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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Homemade Baked Chili Lime Tortilla Chips

Things around here have been pretty great these days.  Eleanor has been smiley and active.

 And she got to meet up again with her birthday buddy Bernie.  These two were born around 15 hours apart, and now they're lucky enough to live in the same city! (And I promise they both wear pants often.)
Simple and fast dinners have been the rule lately.  Anything that doesn't require much hands on time is perfect, and bonus points if it's not totally terrible for you.  (One family can only eat so much mac and cheese.)  
We had a package of corn tortillas left in the fridge from tacos carnitas last weekend and I thought it'd be easy to bake the tortillas into chips.  These chips turned out so well that we've made them again a few times.  They bake up in 10 minutes and are a great healthier alternative to fried chips.  You can make as many or as few as you want.  The chili and lime make them extra special and complement the flavors of a simple guacamole or as the basis for nachos.
If you were serving chili, making thin strips instead would serve as a great crunchy topping.

Baked Chili Lime Tortilla Chips
each tortilla makes 8 chips

corn tortillas, cut into halves, then quarters, then eighths
oil in a sprayer (you can use a brush if you don't spray oil)
chili powder
fresh lime
salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 350.  First spray the cut tortillas lightly with oil on one side and add salt and pepper. I used fine grain sea salt.

 Add your chili powder. More if you like it hot.
 I found the easiest way to get the lime flavor was to squeeze a drop of juice right out of the slice onto each chip.
Flip the slices and repeat.
Bake on each side for 5-6 minutes so they brown just slightly.  Do NOT over bake.  Serve warm.
Excellent with an avocado, lime juice, shallots, salt, pepper, and a little salsa.

Or as the bed of the world's best nachos with slow-cooked pork from the Stamps Family Farm.
 Yum.  Try them, won't you?  I'd love to hear any flavor combinations you come up with.
I baked up some granola this week, too. There's always this moment when I'm drizzling the honey into the bowl when I just take a deep whiff of the cinnamon and cocoa and think "Man I love my job".
Ellie's birth story coming soon.  Hope you're well out there.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Simple Lives Thursday

Greetings all! In case you missed it, I posted a quick curry down below and threw in a couple Ellie pictures, since I knew I'd get in trouble if I didn't.
It's Thursday and that means I, along with these other ladies:
Wardeh at Gnowfglins
and Diana at A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
host a blog hop emphasizing consuming less and producing more.  Check out last week's picks and this week's submissions, and add your own ideas.

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge 
We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured. Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!
 
1. Homestead Decor: DIY Chicken Wire Frame by Prairie Homestead. A totally cute rustic re-do for an old frame!
 
2. Trusting a Plan... or how to make needle felted coasters by A Seed Inspired. Not only a tutorial on how to make needle felted coasters, but lovely insights into how God leads us according to His plan.
 
3. Planning to Preserve in the Coming Year - Part 1 of 3 by Foy Update. Foy shares her preserving plans for this coming year and encouragement for others to do the same.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weeknight Curry


Gosh I've missed you guys.
Things around here have been intense.  I'm back at work (I know, are you tired of hearing that yet?) Ellie is still very irregular in her schedule (well, for me. She's a peach for the babysitter.) and I somehow lost the cable to my DSLR.
I've been struggling to get into my new weekday routine, which includes getting behind the wheel daily for the first time in my adult life, and to get dinner on the table each night.  I've managed to do a lot of cooking, some photographing, but no blogging.
I'm planning to write down Eleanor's birth story the next time I sit down here, but until then, I thought I'd share the quick curry we made this week.  It came together so easily and helps me get in my goal of daily greens.

Weeknight Curry
2 tbsp. butter (or oil if you want the recipe to be vegan)
3 leaves of chard
10-15 b sized potatoes (I used the ones I canned last year)
1 sweet potato
1 onion
1 each yellow and green squash
1 can coconut milk
4-6 tsp. red curry paste
4-6 tsp. curry powder
3-5 c. water or stock
salt and pepper
quinoa or rice to serve

Get your quinoa or rice going while you throw the curry together.  To cook quinoa, rinse thoroughly first.  Combine two parts water or stock and one part quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
In the bottom of a dutch oven or thick bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add your curry paste and powder.  The paste can be a little spicy, so add less at first if you don't like hot food.  You can add more to the broth later.
Stir. Your kitchen should smell pretty great right now.
Add your sliced onion and stir to coat with the seasoned butter.
Add the sweet potatoes, cut into small pieces.  The smaller you cut them the quicker they will cook.  If you're using raw potatoes, add them here, too.  My canned potatoes were cooked through so I didn't add them until the end.
Cook the sweet potato until it's starting to soften, around 5 minutes.  Add the zucchini, chopped into large pieces.
Stir to coat everything in your spices.  Immediately add your coconut milk and enough liquid to cover.  Stock will add flavor but water is fine.
 Simmer until your potatoes are cooked through.  Then use a masher to mash some of the potatoes while you continue to cook over medium.  Leave most of the potatoes unmashed so the curry still has texture.  Continue to cook while the mixture thickens.
Taste here. Once it's to your liking for seasoning and texture, add the chard, shredded.
Remove from heat and stir in the chard.
Serve hot.
Easy. Soul and house warming.
Along with simple dinners, I've been making some other things, too, like this ring sling that I sewed with my mother.  I used this tutorial as a rough guide. It's great and Ellie loves it.
Ellie's been hangin' out with some buddies. (I swear she is thisclose to giggling. So far we just have big grins.)
Droppin' her paci.
 Shoving both hands in her mouth whenever possible.
Practicing tummy time.
She's been stylin', too.
We've had scrambled eggs about three times a week, sometimes with bacon and sourdough toast.
Until next time, I'll be back soon, so try to stay warm, ok?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolutions, Traditions, SLT, and Kale with Quick Pickled Shallots

I have barely had a chance to sit down at the computer this week because this little lady has been having trouble sleeping for more than 30 minutes at a time.
We have learned that if she doesn't get proper sleep she turns into a crazy person.  So we've been working very hard on naps, especially since she's going to have to adjust to taking them at a new place when she goes to the babysitter starting Monday.  (Sad.)  When she doesn't get good sleep, she will be totally normal for a few minutes and then scream until she can manage to calm down.  She did this over the holidays, and again when my parents visited last week.  Thankfully Nana and Papa have a good sense of humor.
That Nana and Papa made a trip to Ikea for Christmas and Ellie got this sweet netting to hang over her bird mobile.  Don't let this photo fool you though, she pretty much never sleeps in her crib.
 We spent New Year's Eve in with the little one, though we did manage to stay up until midnight and toast the new year.  The next day we had a brunch at our house, which has become our new tradition.  We squeeze as many sweet friends into our house as we can and we all eat the best brunch foods and drink mimosas and bloody marys.  Guests brought fruit and flowers!  It was just lovely.  I made the same cinnamon rolls as last year.
 We don't mess around with the marys.
 Will cooked everything. I had a list of stuff for him to do when he walked in and he executed it all perfectly and did some of his own stuff that far outshone mine.  (Candied bacon, for example. Oh man.)
 This is about half the group, and as you can see, we were bustin' out of the house.
 The brunch had me thinking about what I want to be different about 2012.  There are some pretty obvious things, like being a mother, that will completely change the next year of my life.  I've decided to make some specific resolutions for this year which illustrate general goals that I have.
1)  Eat something green and leafy every day.  Even if it's just a salad, I plan to eat a green leafy vegetable daily in 2012.  Expect to see even more greens on this blog because I need new ideas to make them delicious.
2)  Run or do yoga 3-5 times a week.  I ran well into my third trimester but haven't done either of my favorite forms of exercise since the baby was born.  Both of these are, for me, as much mental as they are physical, and making the time to take care of myself is something I need to work really hard on. Motherhood is teaching me that I need to make an effort to spend time on myself, and this specific goal will help me do that.
3)  Set up the music studio in the basement and record some tunes.  My husband has amassed a lot of equipment and recording together is something we've been talking about for years. This is the time to make it happen.
4)  Wear red lipstick. Ok, I know this sounds silly, but it gets at my desire to become a little bit braver this year.  Growing up, lipstick always symbolized glamour and adultness to me, and until now, every time I've put it on I have felt like a little girl playing with her mother's makeup.  Now I'm the mother, and have realized that wearing something so bold is much more a matter of attitude than anything objective.  I might bust out the cowboy boots, too.

To practice number four in the safety of my living room, I tried it out wearing this lipstick.  Ellie liked it!
To work on number four, I made an easy kale dish last night with my favorite kind of kale, lacinato, bacon, and quick pickled shallots, which we've been eating on everything lately.
Soaking onions in vinegar  makes them must more palatable and gets rid of that raw heat they have.  Shallots are subtler and more flavorful than onions and pickling them makes them the perfect raw crunch to put on top of lots of dishes.  (We especially love them on tacos.)

This style of cooking works for any greens you've got and this recipe makes enough for 1-2 people.

Begin by making the quick pickled shallots.  Thinly slice a shallot.
Put it into a bowl and cover with 1 part water and 1 part apple cider vinegar.  Add a squirt of honey, hefty grind of fresh pepper, and a good pinch of salt.  If you want, add some fresh herbs.  Let this sit at room temp or in the fridge until everything else is ready.

Start the kale with 2-3 pieces of bacon, chopped, in a hot pan.  Brown, remove and drain the bacon on a paper towel, and pour off all but 1 tbsp. of the rendered fat.



Meanwhile, prep your kale by removing the thick stalks.  I used to spend a bunch of time cutting the leaves off or ripping them piece by piece, but I discovered that you can easily pull the leaves off the stem like this.
 Just pull.
 Heat up three cloves of thinly sliced garlic just until you can smell them.
 Then add your greens (I used half a bunch of lacinato for one serving) along with

  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. water or stock
  • a splash of tamari (or soy sauce. I use tamari because it doesn't have any extra preservatives.)
  • black pepper

 Stir and let the kale steam and liquid reduce.
 Pull the kale off heat once it's bright green.  I let this batch go a little too long, thanks to a special screaming baby.
Once you pull it off heat add a splash of sesame oil.  Check for seasoning before serving.

Serve warm with the cold pickled shallots on top.  Some toasted sesame seeds would be excellent on top.

Another plan I have for the new year is to start writing more personal posts here.  Some of  you have noticed the tab at the top labeled "family".  I plan to start filling it with posts about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting.  Since these things aren't so much about food, I'll be making them posts with a jump so you'll have to click through if you want to read them.  (And if you don't want to read them, you can just scroll on by.)  The first post I have planned is about childbirth education and I hope to tell Eleanor's birth story.  If that's your thing, keep an eye out!
Until then, I'd love to hear what you're planning for the new year.  Do you have big resolutions? 
Finally, it's Simple Lives Thursday!  If you resolved to consume less and produce more, this blog hop is full of great ideas for you to get started.  There are some seriously smart posts down there, so check them out and link up your own!

Announcement... please re-read the simple guidelines for submission (below) so you can be sure your post matches the spirit and theme of this blog hop. Please do not submit giveaway posts. Also, please remember to link your post to one of the host blogs!

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge 
 We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured. Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!
 
1. 12 Easy Steps to be Frugal and Green by Our Heavenly Homestead. Maria shares a great list to starting your journey on a simple and frugal life.
 
2. Sourdough Starters and Homemade Tortillas by The Elliott Homestead. A great tutorial on starting a sourdough starter and making your own tortillas at home.
 
3. A Christmas Homebirth by Simplify, Live, Love. Michelle shares about her 4th birth at home, a water birth. A lovely story of a gentle birth with the snow falling outside!
 
4. Vintage Blankie Baby Quilt by Simply Homemaking. Make a small blanket for a new baby out of vintage sheets and vintage hankies. It takes just a few hours! 
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