Posts Tagged ‘family’

I woke up yesterday morning to news that my Grandpa passed away. He’s been very sick and unable to care for himself, so his death comes as a blessing.

I’m not really sad about his passing as I believe in the hope of Heaven, but I do feel very far from my family right now.

I wish I could be there to talk to my mom and hear happy stories about her childhood; to celebrate his life with whole family.

It may sound ridiculous, but one thing that brought comfort yesterday morning was my breakfast. The flavors in these pancakes remind me of my mom’s pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

Although I might not have been sitting in my mom’s kitchen yesterday morning, I brought her here to join me through pumpkins and warm, comforting memories.


Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes


  • 1½ cups flour
  • 3 Tablespoons white sugar
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 whole eggs beaten
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 ½ Tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 150 grams roasted pumpkin (or puree)


  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. The color will be a fantastic bright orange.
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until combined.
  4. Heat a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the prepared skillet. Flip when bubbles begin to rise and the bottom of the pancakes are golden brown.
  5. Serve with maple butter icing.


We’ll miss you, Grandpa.


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Green beans have always been one of my favorite vegetables.

I attribute my green bean love to my grandparents.


Every spring, my grandpa plants an incredible vegetable garden. He plants lettuce, sweet corn, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, peppers, even peanuts, garlic and strawberries.

Although he was always on a careful planting schedule when I was young, he’d save green bean planting to do with me.

Green beans were always our special crop.


Together, we’d prepare the soil, plant the seeds, give them their first drink of water and mark the rows. Every time my family and I would visit between spring and summer, my grandpa would take me out to the garden and proudly announce, “Look how much our beans have grown.”

In my mind, they were our beans, Grandpa’s and mine.

When the green beans were ready to harvest, Grandpa would call me up and exclaim that it was time to pick our beans.

He always waited and let me pick the first bean of the season.

Once we had a bucket full of freshly picked green beans, we’d bring them into the kitchen and my Grandma would take over.

She taught me how to snap off the ends and cook the beans to perfection with a butter and bacon.


Years later, when I announced my vegetarianism, my grandparents made the ultimate sacrifice- they stopped cooking bacon with the green beans.

My brothers will be the first to admit that Grandma and Grandpa’s green beans just aren’t the same without the bacon, but they all lovingly made that change for me.

Even now, when I travel back to the US, my grandparents cook up green beans from the garden; specially saved and frozen for my next return.


As I opened my CSA delivery this week and found a brown paper bag full of green beans, I was instantly taken back.


Taken back to my grandparents’ garden, full of love, learning, gentleness and guidance.


Although I wish I could have shared this green bean meal with my grandparents, I’m happy I can share it with you.


Israeli Couscous with Garlic, Green Beans, Zucchini and Pine Nuts

Makes 3 servings ~ Ready in 15 minutes


1/2 zucchini, chopped into bite sized pieces

3 large handfuls fresh green beans

2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 Tablespoons butter

1 1/3 cup Israeli couscous

1 3/4 cups boiling vegetable broth (or water with stock granules)

2 Heaping tablespoons pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parmesan cheese to garnish


  1. Clean the green beans, remove the ends and cut into 1 inch pieces. Steam until slightly tender. Remove from heat.
  2. Place 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium sized pan along with the couscous. Cook over medium-high heat until the couscous begins to turn golden brown. Slowly stir in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat until melted. Add the garlic, shallots and zucchini. Sauté until the zucchini becomes slightly tender. Add the steamed green beans and continue to cook for a couple more minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Add the pine nuts to the vegetable mixture and cook until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To serve, place the vegetables over the couscous and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese.

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful fathers and grandfathers out there… especially mine.

I love you all so much.

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Lime Horseradish Salad

Before you look away in disgust, give this salad a chance.

Yes, this jello salad combines horseradish and lime.

I accept that this combination sounds like a science fair slime project gone wrong.

But do you want to know something, I don’t care.

This salad rocks!

This is my grandma’s recipe so you should know it’s good.

DSC01796 Hi Grandma! I love you and your delicious recipes!

PC242529 I agree, Mom, this salad is awesome!

Gotta love the serving suggestions… “Good with ham.”

Because my grandma’s recipe is quick and to the point, let me walk you through this beauty one step at a time.

PC242528 You’re going to need cool whip, lemon juice, jello, horseradish, salt and boiling water.

PC242531 Whisk together the boiling water, lime jello, salt and lemon juice.

PC242539 Let the jello partially set then beat in the horseradish.

PC242541 Fold in the cool whip.

PC242543 There you have it.

The texture is probably the best part of this salad yet the taste can’t be beat.

Have no fear with this one, guys!


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It may seam strange, but my family has always eaten lasagna on Christmas Eve…only on Christmas Eve.

When I was probably 8 years old I had a play date at my friend Amber’s house where I stayed for dinner.

Amazingly, Amber’s mom served lasagna.

Before I could eat, I begged to call my mom.

The conversation went something like this:

“Hi mom, you won’t believe what we’re eating for dinner tonight!”

“What my darling, most precious, favorite child? What are you eating for dinner tonight?”

“WE’RE EATING LASAGNA, and it’s not even Christmas Eve!!!!”

The special Christmas Eve lasagna recipe comes from the kitchen of my Nana.


This year, lasagna duties were my responsibility.

PC242537 I made one small batch with fake meat for me and one “true to the recipe” batch with Italian sausage and ground beef for the rest of the family.





My mini-vegetarian lasagna. 


Family—sized lasagna.

Lasagna to all and to all a good night!

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Hoar Frost

Although I haven’t missed the unbelievably frigid Midwest winter weather over the past 2 years, I have missed how beautiful winter is in Illinois.



Last night the conditions were just right for hoar frost.


When we woke up this morning, everything was coated in the crystal looking frost.




Mom and I went out to photograph the gorgeous day.



We had a good time trekking through snowdrifts and playing with the most adorable dog in the world.



Then we went into the warmth and ate lunch.

PC232511 Whole wheat pasta, eggplant with tomato sauce and fresh spinach.

What a great day to be home!

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I made it!

Last Friday after a cancelled flight, rescheduled flights and 14 hours of travelling, I made it back home.


Since being back, I’ve spent lots of time with my family.

PC182289 My youngest brother, Christopher (on the far right,) ringing the salvation army bell with the church youth group.

I’ve been busy visiting relatives and baking in my mom’s kitchen.

PC192303 The view from my mom’s kitchen window.

My brother Patrick is working midnights so his sleep schedule is about as messed up as mine. This has given us early mornings to talk and laugh together.


Yesterday I woke up at 5am to the sounds of his video game. Once up, I decided to make cinnamon rolls.



I used the recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook. I doubled the recipe so had a ton of dough to work with.

PC212325 PC212330

PC212340 PC212341


Rather than rolling the dough extra long, I found that cutting it in half lengthwise  gave me the desired proportions while making it easier to roll. Oh, and I added almonds to half of the rolls.

PC212363 PC212367 Mmmm! Ooey, gooey, delicious cinnamon rolls!

PC212357Family approved.


Go and make some today.

I promise these cinnamon rolls will make your friends and family happy.


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Happy Father’s Day!

To all the fathers out there… Happy Father’s Day!

And a very special Happy Father’s Day goes out to this guy…

I love you, dad and wish I could give you a great big Father’s Day hug today!

(Daddy-o and baby-bro look sad because this photo was taken on the day I left to return to Germany last summer.)

Have a great day with mom and the boys!

I love you and miss you!

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