eat your feelings (wrapped in pastry)

beef hand pies

This morning was our sons first day of daycare. I have prepared for this moment for weeks, running it over and over again in my head. I have made lists and plans and will have more things to do in the next two weeks before starting work than I can realistically accomplish. As an extra precaution, I asked my husband to go to breakfast with me after the drop off this morning so that I'd have something to look forward to while I did my best not to sob uncontrollably. We went to a new bagel shop and talked about how the morning went and if we should just bite the bullet and let him go full time this week instead of doing half days like we had planned. After the bagels, we popped next door to our favorite donut shop to share a donut, just because we could (and because I was eating my feelings). 

beef hand pies

Transitions can be rough for me. I love to think about change and dream about what could be, but often when we get right down to it, I usually wish things could stay the same forever because I'm never really sure. This morning I certainly felt that. I was ready to throw in the towel on all of this change and call it a day. Thankfully, my husband is rock solid. He makes decisions based on logic (what is that?!) and therefore rarely regrets a decision. He also realizes that right now I'm going through all of the emotions of a major life change and eventually I'll get through it and join him on solid ground. Like the fact that I thought I was going to paint the entire kitchen, including the walls and cabinets, all by myself in the next two weeks. Oh, and go on vacation in the middle of it, too. Haha! I'm really trying to put a band aid on how I feel right now. (Does anyone have a donut?!)

At the end of the day, I showed up to get Oliver from daycare and I stood there for 15 minutes while he played, not even aware of the fact that I had arrived to get him. When he finally did notice me, he gave me a little nod and kept right on playing. Of course, I expected him to come running to me with tears in his eyes, wanting to cling to his mama, but I'm so grateful that he didn't, showing me that he was perfectly happy where we have placed him. That is the best scenario I could have hoped for. Tomorrow, we are going to pull off the band aid and let him stay all day. I'm planning on dropping him off and heading to San Francisco instead of painting the kitchen. I'll sit in my favorite cafe and enjoy a cup of coffee without disruption and I'll be so thankful to know that he's not missing me. 

beef hand pies
beef pies
beef hand pies

With the combination all of these life changes and the cooler weather, I've been in a comfort food routine for a few weeks. Last Sunday, I was a good wife and made pot roast. I took my mothers advice and doubled the recipe so I was left with a whole lot of roast and no plan. Well, where there is no plan, there is a buttery pastry waiting to be filled. I roasted some potatoes and squash with some cozy herbs and wrapped it up in a wheat pastry. This might be the best way to eat leftovers. I now want to put everything in pie dough. 

beef hand pies
beef hand pies
beef hand pies
beef hand pies
beef hand pies
beef hand pies

When you find yourself with some leftovers, you've got to give this a try. If you don't have leftover meat, or you're a vegetarian, sautéed mushrooms would make an excellent stand in, but use 5 cups of sliced mushrooms and then sauté. You'll lose a lot of volume by cooking them. If you don't want to make the pastry, a store bought one would certainly make this a quick meal, and don't we all need extra time in the day. 

beef hand pies (or the best way to eat leftovers)

makes 8 hand held pies


For the pastry dough

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup very cold water
  • 2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup, plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1 inch cubes (keep cold until needed)

For the filling

  • 3 cups left over cooked meat (like pot roast or roasted chicken), cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 5 small red potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (from about 12 stems)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced (about 8 small leaves)
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely shredded parmesan

Egg wash

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. Mix the salt into the water until dissolved and keep cold until needed. 
  2. Add both flours to the bowl of a food processor and add butter. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Add the water and pulse until the dough is just starting to hold together and is starting to look a little damp. Pour the contents out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and gently bring one half together into a 5" disk. Repeat with remaining half. Cover with plastic wrap, add to a ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. 
  3. When the dough is chilling, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the potatoes, butternut squash, onion, thyme and sage in olive oil. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast until very tender and starting to brown, about 45 minutes. Set aside to cool. 
  4. Line two rimmed baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the disks to about a 1/4" thick. Keep the other disk in the fridge to keep cold. Cut out 6" (or close to it) diameter circles using a bowl or cake pan, or free hand it! You can see above that my circles were pretty wonky, so don't be too worried about how perfect they are. You should get about four per pastry disk. Re-roll the pie dough only once to use up the scraps. 
  6. On one half of each piece of dough, add a scant 1/4 cup vegetables and 4-6 pieces of meat. Add a decent sprinkle of parmesan cheese and fold the top half over. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal and transfer to the baking sheet. Place the sheet into the freezer while you make the other pies, adding each one to the freezer as you finish them. 
  7. Brush the tops of the pies with egg wash and cut 1/2" slits into the top of the pies to vent.
  8. Bake on the top third and lower third rack of the oven at 400 degrees until golden and cooked through, about 22 minutes. Rotate pans halfway through to ensure even cooking. 

my dad's beans

slow cooker beans with smoked pork

One of the most exciting parts of having a family is creating traditions together. My late step-mom was tradition crazy. She never missed a beat. Every holiday was a huge to do and our birthdays were no exception. For every birthday we shared with her, she stayed up late the night before and quietly decorated the house so we would wake up to streamers and huge "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" signs while we stumbled through the house to the shower. Most likely by her suggestion, on the morning of our birthday, my dad would take each of us out to breakfast, just him and the birthday girl, for the $1.99 Denny's Grand Slam. It was really special. 

slow cooker beans with smoked pork

My dad's birthday was last week and to celebrate him, I made a pot of his famous beans. It felt appropriate, on his birthday, to offer a little homage to a time that seemed a lot less complicated for him than life is now. When we were kids, coming home to the smell of his beans in the crockpot was the absolute best. Nothing could beat a big bowl of smoky, savory beans with gobs of cheese and cornbread. Plus, that meant dad was making dinner instead of our step-mom. She was beautiful but a terrible cook.

I'd like to make it a tradition to make a batch of beans on my dad's birthday every year, to honor him and to re-live those meals we had together so long ago, with our TV trays, watching Andy Griffith, slurping up every last bean. I will enjoy telling Oliver about his grandpa over a warm bowl, laughing at all the crazy things my dad has told me over the years. Like the time he convinced a friend of mine who had come over for dinner, that our goat was going to be the main course. She about died, and so did I. He's a funny guy, that dad of mine. Those stories make it feel as though we aren't so far apart after all, especially when paired with a piping hot bowl of his beans. 

slow cooker beans with smoked pork

My beans are slightly different than my dad's version, but the essence is still there. I add herbs and lots of pepper, his are a bit more subtle. They're simple, really, but taste complex thanks to the long cooking time. I will often add rosemary and occasionally double the meat.

Feel free to garnish these the way you'd like. I took pictures of three different ways to eat them. I prefer cheese and sliced onion on top while dunking my cornbread into the salty broth. My dad always does cheese, diced onion and crumbles the cornbread over the top. Feel free to go whichever way you'd like. There isn't a bad way to do it really, it's all a matter of taste. 

For left over beans, I love to puree them and use them as "refried" beans. They're amazing in burritos. 

slow cooker beans with smoked pork

serves 10


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • chicken stock (about 6-9 cups)
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered
  • 4 large garlic cloves, quartered
  • 1 rounded tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup butter (half of a stick)
  • 1-2 pounds smoked ham hock (bone in)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced or sliced, however you like it
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
  • cornbread, cut into individual servings, or cubed, or crumbled


  1. In a large bowl, add the dried beans and cover with cool water to at least three inches over the beans. Let them soak over night. If you forgot, or you don't have time to do an overnight soak, add the dried beans to a large pot and cover with cool water to at least three inches over the top of the beans. Bring to a boil and then take the pot off the heat and cover with a lid. Let the beans sit in the hot water, off heat for an hour. Continue with the recipe. 
  2. Drain the beans and rinse thoroughly. Add them to a 6 quart slow cooker and add enough chicken broth to cover the beans by at least an inch. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, butter and pork. Season with a generously with salt and pepper (at least a few large pinches). 
  3. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours, until the beans are tender and creamy, but not falling apart. 
  4. With a fork, break up the pork and remove the bone. Divide among 10 bowls and garnish with onion, cheese and cornbread, if making. 

Note: these beans freeze wonderfully. This recipe makes a lot, so feel free to pack them up into an airtight container and freezer for up to one month. You can do that with the cornbread, too. Instant meal!

on marriage (and some squash tacos)

butternut squash tacos

I married my exact opposite. I know they say that's a thing, that opposites attract. It really doesn't make much sense to me since it seems more likely that two people who are similar would be more suited for one another. I'm a spender and he's frugal. I love getting gifts and he thinks that me not spending money on a gift for him is a great gift. He can think about what shoes to buy for a week and I've ordered two pair by the time you finish this sentence. He is patient and I'm impulsive. He can't remember a darn thing and I can't seem to forget anything. He's a staunch republican and I'm somewhere in the middle, leaning left. There are days I wonder what on earth drew us to one another. Honestly, it's hard to tell sometimes. 

We have been married for almost 6 years and now share our lives with an amazing toddler. Being parents has changed our relationship a lot. Like most parents, our focus is no longer primarily on ourselves, but on the little human we made. That has changed the dynamic of our marriage more than I expected, making it necessary to put forth a whole lot of extra effort to keep it afloat. It seemed easy to stay close when we could do what we wanted whenever we chose to. Now, we have to plan and arrange and think way ahead. 

It might sound like I'm unhappy in my marriage, and you might be right, though not in the way you think. Certainly, there have been times (or weeks or months) where I've been unhappy with my husband and my marriage, but if marriage has taught me anything at all, it's that this thing is not all about me. I find it so easy to blame any unhappiness I feel on my husband. He doesn't take me out enough or he isn't listening well enough or he doesn't do the dishes enough. What I have come to learn is that any of those things may be true, but the real problem is not what he is or isn't doing, it's that I'm trying to balance all of my happiness and fulfillment on his shoulders. That's a burden my husband was never meant to carry. This marriage thing wasn't intended to make me happy and to fulfill those young girl dreams of being in a state of bliss at all times. That sounds harsh, I know. We want marriage to make us happy and fulfill all our needs, it's just not meant to. If all goes well, those things can certainly be a byproduct, but it's not the cure for those things nor should our marriages be the only place we search for them.

As far as I can tell, marriage is supposed to make us better. It's supposed to cause us to grow, to draw nearer and go deeper. Those places are messy and those places are really hard, but that is where you will find growth and redemption. Marriage points us to the One who made it, who showed it to us in it's truest form, on the cross. Marriage really is death. It's death to selfishness. That is such a hard lesson to learn. Every day I'm reminded of how selfish I am and the rest of my life won't be enough time to rid me of it. If anything, I feel more selfish now than I did when we were first married. It's a wonderful blessing that I have such a patient and gracious person for a spouse because I'm hoping that in another 6 years from now, I've moved at least an inch in the right direction. No doubt we will have weathered some storms together by that time and with great success I hope, with the breath to tell the story. 

(note: if you're going through a rough patch, please reach out to someone. Whether it's a friend or family member, talk it through. If you don't have anyone you feel you can talk to, send me an email. I'd love to talk it through with you. This marriage thing is really hard, let's do it well together.) 

Since I've started writing this blog, my marriage seems like it's healthier. I can only attribute the success to our commitment to eating dinner together, free from distractions. I look forward to the time we get to connect with one another. It's a really special time for us and has allowed us to feel closer to one another. So, make your spouse some tacos, put the phones away and talk. It will make a difference, even if a slow one. 

butternut squash tacos

serves 4


  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • a couple pinches freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 large red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Tapatio (or more if you want more heat) 
  • 1 cup of cilantro leaves, torn
  • 8 small corn tortillas 


  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil. Set aside. 
  2. Toss the butternut squash with the paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and oil. Spread it out evenly on the foil lined baking sheet and bake until well browned, about 45 minutes to an hour. Shake the pan to toss the squash a couple times during the cooking time. 
  3. Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise with the Tapatio and set aside. (I realize mayonnaise on tacos sounds pretty weird, but it just adds a little bit of a cool and creamy. It's delicious, but feel free to use sour cream or leave it out completely!)
  4. When the squash is done, heat a skillet over medium high heat and quickly heat up the tortillas. 
  5. To assemble, place two tortillas on each of four plates. Spread a dollop of spicy mayo on each tortilla, topping with a handful of squash, a sprinkle of avocado and onion. Top with some cilantro and feta. Add a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper and a dash of Tapatio if you'd like a little more spice.

Note: if you have extra squash left over (you likely will) you can toss it into a salad for lunch the next day, or put it in a scramble for breakfast with a little goat cheese. You can also make these portable frittatas and swap out the sweet potato for the butternut squash. 

roasted tomato puttanesca

roasted tomato puttanesca

This first week of fall has been gloriously fall like. The mornings are cool, warranting a sweatshirt and slippers and the days have been a bit gloomy, even giving way to some refreshing rain. The mantle has been aglow with candles and the slow cooker has endured a few good workouts, turning out some of the most comfy food I can think of. It was just what the doctor ordered for this slightly stressed mama. Nothing beats sweats and comfort food when you're not at your best, amiright? 

As I believe I've mentioned, we are wading through some heavy decisions in our house. Dinner time has been such a haven for us as we take the time to sit down together, eat something good and talk it all out. Tonight, our conversation was particularly heavy and as my husband and I were going back and forth, Oliver, covered from head to toe in tomato sauce, was making sure we clapped every time he used his fork to spear his pasta and successfully made it into his mouth. He is such a reminder to me that while this time made be difficult, there is so much joy in it. The hard times can sometimes feel so hard and I often feel like I can be so short sighted without the ability to see the big picture. This little boy is so helpful for putting things into perspective. 

roasted tomato puttanesca

Early in the week I found myself up to my ears in cherry tomatoes and since I was already on a comfort food kick, I decided that roasting them is the coziest way I know to treat a tomato. I used a few in a warm lentil salad I made from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty and the rest were packed away in the fridge awaiting inspiration. This afternoon, once the babe was sound asleep, I spent some time cooking up a deeply rich puttanesca that ended up being an incredibly satisfying way to end the week. The sauce is quite thick and coats the pasta perfectly, hanging on tightly even when a toddler is attempting to shovel it in his mouth. 

roasted tomato puttanesca 

makes 6 cups, enough for 2 pounds of pasta


  • 4 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
  • 4 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped 


  1. Heat the oven to 265 degrees. Cover two sheet pans in foil, set aside. 
  2. Toss cut tomatoes in 2 tablespoons olive oil, fresh thyme and 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt. Roast in the oven until starting to dry out, about an hour and a half. Transfer to a bowl. 
  3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat until glistening. Add garlic, onion, oregano and capers and cook until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered for 30 minutes until reduced and thickened slightly. Puree the tomato sauce with a stick blender or in a counter top blender until smooth. Stir in the dill.