Tag Archives: recipe

What I’m into: Caucus week edition

Totally nerding out in my corner of America because it’s CAUCUS EVE.

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Free caucus download via xo-lp.com

As an Iowan By Choice, I take the privilege of our first in the nation caucus seriously — especially now that we don’t work at the paper and can participate. I gleefully take all of the pollster calls (most recently in the midst of a carwash) and am so excited and a little nervous to head to the Roosevelt auditorium with my family and neighbors and engage in civil political discourse. I know many of my thoughtful neighbors and there seems to be strong support for Hillary, although I plan to caucus for Bernie Sanders.

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While I would absolutely love to see a woman in the white house, for me, Bernie represents the social justice candidate. I’m not disillusioned with Obama and don’t think a “political revolution” happens with a single candidate. This article does a pretty good job of capturing my feelings.

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We went to see him at a rally this summer, and every time Sanders’ voice comes on NPR, Emmett recognizes it! Speaking of NPR, I think I’m going to get up early (because, let’s be frank, I’m typically up feeding a baby at 4 a.m.) and head to Smokey Row for live Morning Edition before work:

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Descending the soapbox now! Entering the kitchen!

I’ve been back to work for about a month, and the biggest stress has been trying to figure out how to get dinner made and served without everyone in the house having a meltdown. This past week we nailed it, repurposing leftovers and utilizing our groceries wisely.

Our latest go-to is variations of tamale pie, which is one-skillet and allows for lots of improvisation. In a cast-iron skillet, sweat veggies like zucchini, pepper and onion in chili powder, add meat (we’ve used ground turkey and most recently leftover pulled pork from a crockpot meal) and top with wet cornbread mix, then bake. (Something like this recipe.) It comes together quickly from scratch and is great for lunch the next day.

We’ve also been eating fresh drop biscuits with soup because mixing them up with pantry staples is a great activity to keep a toddler busy while we get everything together.

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Filed under At home, Cooking, I love Des Moines

What I’m into: Holidaze

You know it’s the Christmas season when the kitchen table is covered in fabric and I’m trying not to step on straight pins!

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I have my sewing machine out to finish up Eileen’s stocking, which involves quilting Moda Winterberry charms in a coordinating design to hang alongside her brother’s. (Pattern is a riff on this one from Prudent Baby).

The majority of my Instagram feed is either babies, dogs or fabric designers, and when I came across a festive tablesetting project on the fatquartershop feed, I was inspired to make it for my forever friend, Regina:

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(I made my own template, but you can purchase them here.)

Regina and I got to meet up at my hometown Breakfast with Santa this past weekend and had to get a special photo with our baby girls.

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My mom’s side of the family also celebrated, and this snap captures the feels from our family party:

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Emmett’s wearing a Super Why cape my mom sewed for him. Super Why is a PBS superhero with The Power…To..Read! – obviously my favorite super power of all time.

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Joe and I brought this New York Times chocolate whiskey cake, which features a half a cup of Irish whiskey and a bunch of coffee and pinch of pepper/clove. It was intoxicating.

I still have some last-minute crafting, so I’m going to cross my fingers the kids keep napping and put MAIDS’ new holiday song, “All About Xmas” on repeat. Softly.

P.S. I’m obsessed with all things Aziz Ansari right now. Joe and I listened to “Modern Romance” on our drive to/from Chicago and we’ve bingewatched “Master of None” and I laughed out loud watching his Madison Square Garden special on Netflix. He’s got this refreshing sincerity and feminism going on in the midst of all that funny.

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Filed under Cooking, Getting crafty, What I'm into

State Fair Food at Home: Italian Sausage Grinders

I should probably divide my life into two eras: Life before I’d experienced the Iowa State Fair and Life After the Fair. I’m exaggerating, but as a transplant to this great state I’ve definitely come to love the Fair – especially its kitschier, more down-home elements, like the miniature animals, food competitions, butter sculptures and beard-growing contest.

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I got to run around the fair a lot in my time as a reporter for Juice, and after interviewing fair-crazed Des Moinesians (I called them “fairwolves” in an article), I got the inside scoop on the best things to experience. One of those readers tipped me off to the goodness that is the State Fair Grinder, and I coerced Joe into coming up with a way to re-create them at home. I especially love cooking these in the depths of winter, but we made them this weekend as the Fair approaches to count down.

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A grinder is essentially a loose-meat Italian sausage sandwich, with red sauce, onions and green peppers served topped with melted cheese on a hoagie bun. Here’s how to make our version at home. Note that if you live in Des Moines, there’s no substitution for Graziano Brothers Italian Sausage. It’s the best.

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First, brown your Italian sausage. (If you’re wondering, yes, that is the tail end of a ceramic manatee spoonrest on our range.) Preheat the oven at 375 degrees.

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Then, chop up your onion and green pepper into bite-size chunks. Add the onion, chop the pepper and then combine and cook.

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Then add in your red pasta sauce and stir it all together. You can also chop up and add some garlic to taste, if you like.

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While the filling is simmering, hollow out the hoagie bun a little bit. This will help prevent it from breaking on the bottom, spilling your sandwich’s guts. We had enough for four grinders, but reserved half the filling for seconds the next day.

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Line a pan with foil and fill the hoagies with the sausage mixture.

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Top with sliced provolone cheese, then pop in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes – enough to brown the cheese.

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I wouldn’t recommend putting this sandwich on a stick. Keep a nice stack of napkins and handy and pour yourself something refreshing to drink. It’s hot and spicy.

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Now there’s a little taste of the State Fair in your kitchen! What’s your favorite element of the Iowa State Fair, or the fair where you live?

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Filed under Cooking