carrot and pineapple muffins

When it rains it pours.
Things get worse before they get better.
Misery loves company.
Bad things come in threes.

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Turns out I shouldn’t have been complaining about my bad week on Friday night. My week actually got bad 24 hours later when I woke up sick in the middle of the night. All our Sunday Halloween plans had to be cancelled. A dinner date with friends we’d planned for weeks was postponed. All things besides getting through each moment seemed unimportant.

It was a nasty GI bug. I really hope you don’t get it. It was a doozy. I felt the absolute worst for at least 24 hours. And not so great for another 36 hours after that. We’re finally all better (knock on wood) but appetites have been slow to return.

Whenever recovering from an illness, I always feel inclined to make breakfast for dinner. This time was no different. Monday night brought us Joy the Baker’s Lemon Ricotta Waffles. (Stop reading and go make them now! So good. No wait, read on about my muffins, then go make one of the two!) Yesterday, I took a break from baking but bought a bunch of baking supplies so today I could make carrot muffins. I needed to use up more carrots from our farm trip earlier this month. I also needed to use up some canned pineapple tidbits I bought on a whim thinking Willa would like them (she doesn’t). I would usually throw raisins and nuts into a carrot muffin, but I had those pineapples, and nuts are kind of a chocking hazard for lil W. Soooo, below is what I made. And I surprisingly really dig the pineapple. You should definitely give it a go.

Happy Halloween!

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Carrot and Pineapple Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
½ cup maple syrup (or any combination of honey, maple syrup, or sugar)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup shredded carrot
½ cup pineapple pieces (from a can)

1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the flours, baking soda, spices, and salt.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or a bowl with a hand mixer or using your brute arm strength) cream the butter, sweetener, egg, and vanilla. Once combined, stir in the applesauce.
3. Using a spatula, fold in the shredded carrots and pineapple.
4. Grease a regular-sized muffin tin (or use paper liners) and scoop approximately 1/4 cup of the batter into each muffin.
5. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown on the edges and a toothpick comes out clean.

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this week + moments out and about

This week was a lot. It included: getting pooped and puked on, setting the smoke alarms off and the dog running away, an inexpicable follow-up false alarm in the middle of the night, a failed trip to Home Depot (who knew stones for an outdoor fireplace are special order only?), a stollen (missing?) Amazon package, and a cancelled date night related to item #1. But the week also brought: a new rug for our dining area, discovering I can put Willa’s hair in ponytails, an awesome morning run with a good friend, caramelized onions, a successful trip to the Toy Library, new jeans from thredUP, several great workouts, and a lovely lunch date with my parents at Stueben’s.

Amidst all the crazy, I stay sane by getting out of the house. “They” say laughter is the best medicine, and while there’s some truth in that, I really think a walk in the fresh air is what does the trick. When things just aren’t going my way, I grab Willa’s Beco or stroller or her hand and we lock the door behind us to go explore some corner of our neighborhood. Sometimes we get in the car and venture further, but often we just make our way down the alley. Yesterday, we discovered a building being demolished. Earlier this month, we watched Canada “ducks” (geese) at the park for almost an hour. Here are some of my favorite pictures from our recent adventures. They make me smile. Life is good. But I really would like my Amazon package.

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IMAGE_1214{who’s in charge?}

IMAGE_1213{casual weekend afternoon enjoying a Hey PB&J sandwich}

IMAGE_1217{feeling her first fall leaves underfoot}

IMAGE_1218{fall outfit + pigtails}

IMAGE_1219{solo meal of three steaks @ the childrens’ musuem}

IMAGE_1220{pushing her friend to the park + ponytail!}

our 36 hours: steamboat springs

We got away last weekend. For a whole weekend. Two nights. Two days. No diapers to wash or highchair to clean. I definitely did miss my smiling, running, chatting, comprehending toddler. But I didn’t miss wiping up crumbs off the floor. As is always the case with vacation, it was delightful to get away from the day-to-day stuff and just take a deep breath while soaking in new experiences.

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The drive to Steamboat Springs from Denver was beautiful. Rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, and rusty old pick-up trucks leading us into the wilderness. The mountain passes were just a bit snowy, and when we arrived in town it was sunny and clear. We checked in at the Mariposa Lodge, which really didn’t entail much besides getting our key and putting our stuff down. I easily found champagne flutes in the kitchen and in moments we were drinking prosecco on the back porch.

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The Mariposa was slightly less picturesque than the website suggested, but as advertised, the key upside was that it was perfect walking distance to town. On Friday night we made our way to Laundry, a new-ish gastro pub inhabiting an old laundromat. The bar was bustling but the dining room was relatively empty. We assumed it’d fill up later in the evening, but it never did.

The highlight of Laundry was definitely their cocktails. The food was decent, but nothing remarkable. The drinks however, were keepers. I first tried their “daily infusion” which was a basil and blackberry infused bourbon mixed with…something. It was fruity and light without being overpowered by sweetness as too many cocktails are. After that I enjoyed a “Kentucky Fall” which was rye whiskey, cider, and ginger peppercorn syrup. Again, not too sweet and perfectly balanced. Plus it had an extra-large ice cube which gets me every time.

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Saturday morning I quickly decided I love the “breakfast” part of “bed and breakfast.” At 7:55am I rolled out of bed and moments later I was being handed a cup of coffee and a plate of homemade muffin, asparagus souffle, and fresh fruit. The food was good fuel for a hike at Fish Creek Falls, which we started at 9am. Surprisingly, we were the first car in the parking lot and so the whole way up we had the morning sunshine and snowy views all to ourselves. The hike took just over 3 hours roundtrip and passed two waterfalls. One at the very top. It afforded great views of Steamboat and the surrounding hills. Those aspen trees! So pretty.

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We clearly needed to replenish the calories burned on the hike, so upon returning to town we went straight to Winona’s to try one of their “world famous” cinnamon rolls. Lucky for us, by that point in the day they were 1/2 off! Score. The cinnamon roll took up an entire dinner plate, and was smothered in sweet, non-cream cheese frosting. Sweet heaven! (We ordered a sandwich too just to make it seem more like lunch, but that was really a waste of money. Just get the cinnamon roll.)

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A trip to Steamboat wouldn’t be complete without a plunge into the hot springs, so on Saturday afternoon we made our way out to Strawberry Park Hot Springs. There were a few more people there than I would have liked, but I was still able to find some peacefulness in the hot pools of natural water. The setting was beautiful: snowy mountain trees and fresh, crisp, autumn air. The admission of $10 seemed a bit steep to me, but by the time we left I was too relaxed to really care about it.

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We got our splurge on for dinner Saturday night and headed to bistro c.v. We ended up downtown a bit early for our reservation, so we decided to grab a beer at the Mahogany Ridge Brewery beforehand. Gosh I wish we hadn’t. I never, EVER, don’t finish a drink, but I could not bring myself to drink their Alpenglow in its entirety. For their sake I hope I got the dregs of a keg or something. It tasted like a homebrew gone wrong.

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Thankfully, bistro c.v. erased all bad memories of that beer. What a meal! Every dish we had was spectacular. We started with a steak tartare and a yellowtail crudo, followed by their grilled romaine salad. The trio of lamb and house made whole wheat pasta with fresh mushrooms did not disappoint as entrees, and we closed things out with decadent cappuccinos. Some of the best food I’ve had in Colorado.

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Sunday morning was another tasty breakfast at the Mariposa and a run through town and along Spring Creek trail before heading back to reality. What a weekend. Thanks, Steamboat Springs! We will definitely be back.

a day at miller farms

My garage is full of potatoes. And onions. And two kohlrabi. And a few other things that wouldn’t fit in the fridge. Let’s not even discuss the fridge. It’s quite full. The carrots are crowding the oversized turnips and the peppers have overtaken the fruit crisper.

You see, yesterday we went to Miller Farms in Platteville, Colorado. It seemed like we needed a fall family adventure, and I’d heard Miller Farms was a good place to have just that. Plus, it is halfway between Denver and Fort Collins, so Nana met us there for a day of farming fun!

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But I have to say, when we first pulled into the parking lot and saw a giant wooden Sponge Bob Square Pants next to a bouncy house, I wanted to leave. I was looking for the pumpkins and produce, not gimmicks. Why on earth does Sponge Bob need to be at a farm? Can’t kids just enjoy farm stuff at a farm? Anyway. We didn’t leave. We paid our $15 per adult admission and made our way in.

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Willa fed the goats and we tooled around in some miniature tractor bicycles before loading ourselves onto the tractor-pulled hayride for the real deal. Our ride took us to several stops around the farm where we were able to get off and pick our own produce. Our first stop was onions. Getting down from the wagon, I had no idea what we were picking. It just looked like semi-dry dirt fields. But as I got closer, I saw onions, nestled in the ground. Of course onions grow in the ground. I knew that. I’d just never seen it. And boy was I excited.

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That was just the beginning of the produce excitement. Subsequent stops included carrots, leeks, celery, kohlrabi  cabbage, potatoes, corn, peppers, eggplant, and pumpkins. Have you ever picked a kohlrabi? Or a leek? You have to PULL on those guys.

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It sounds a bit absurd to say it was a hard day’s work, but all the fun and learning really was kind of exhausting. After picking all our produce we had to haul it back to the cars (warning: there’s a mad dash for wagons when the hayride ends!), and then once home it required a lot of cleaning and sorting (and many curses at Denver Public Works for not yet having city-wide compost collection).

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In the end, here’s what we came home with for our $30 admission:

  • 6 small pumpkins
  • 10 ears of corn
  • 3 ears of popcorn
  • ~30 small peppers
  • 7 baby Asian eggplants
  • 3 cabbages
  • 2 kohlrabi
  • 5 turnips
  • a bag of kale leaves
  • 6 leeks
  • tons of carrots
  • a bin of yellow, red, and white onions
  • a bin of red and white potatoes

It’s going to take some serious strategy to use this all before it goes bad. I started by making a dish similar to this for dinner (peppers in place of tomatoes), freezing the corn kernels, and making carrot cake pancakes for Sunday morning breakfast. I’m excited for the challenge! Although I might be sick of potatoes in a couple of weeks…

khao soi

A few months ago, I discovered the Burmese-influenced Thai dish khao soi (khao soy / kaw soy). It would be a much cooler story if I could say I ate it on our trip to Southeast Asia in 2011, like Char Kuih Kak, but that’d be a lie. I discovered khao soi at the Denver Thai restaurant, Swing Thai. I was sick of our usual orders and wanted to try something new. Kaw soy sounded promising. It’s now pretty much the only thing we order.

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Once I enjoy a dish out in the world, I feel compelled to figure out how to recreate it at home. Sometimes, it’s a total flop. Some things just don’t taste as good when they’re made at home. Khao soi is not one of them. It’s even better made at home. Because here’s the thing: you simmer the protein in the sauce. Think about it. When you go to your favorite Thai or Indian or Chinese restaurant, every dish can be ordered with the choice of chicken, beef, or tofu. And maybe shrimp or pork too. How does that meat get incorporated into the dish? It gets thrown in at the last minute. So what does it taste like? Not much. Even the delicious Swing Thai is guilty of this. Their kaw soy sauce is superb, but the protein? Lackluster.

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So go on, try and make your favorite curry dish at home. Maybe it’s not khao soi. But you should still make it. It’s good. And easy. Someday I’ll eat it in Thailand. Gotta get to Chiang Mai. I bet I can find a place where the meat is simmered in the sauce. Right?

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Khao Soi
Adapted from The Kitchn

4T peanut oil
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3-4T Thai red curry paste
2T yellow curry powder (see recipe below)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
2t fish sauce
3t sugar
15 ounces fresh egg noodles (don’t read the ingredients, a little yellow 5 won’t hurt you now and then!)

Cilantro
Chopped peanuts
Lime wedges
Chopped green onion
Pickled cabbage

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and cook until fragrant; about 30 seconds. Add the curry paste and powder and cook for another 30 seconds. Add coconut milk, broth, chicken, fish sauce, and sugar.

2. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a bit more broth if desired.

3. Meanwhile, boil water and cook noodles according to package directions. If fresh, noodles shouldn’t take more than 1 minute to cook.

4. Put noodles in individual bowls and top with curry. Add garnishes.

Yellow Curry Powder
4t ground coriander
2t turmeric
2t yellow mustard powder
1.5t adobo chile powder (use any chili powder, but just make sure it’s just ground up chiles, no other spices)
1.5t cayenne pepper
1t ground cumin
1t cardamon

thredUP

I’m a girl of many thoughts: I love a good deal. I’m too materialist and consume too much. I like reusing and trying to reduce my consumption. I like new clothes! But I have too many already. Ahh!

Thankfully these sentiments can all happily coexist in the world of consignment shopping.

Unfortunately, I’ve been a bit disillusioned with Denver’s consignment scene. Now, granted, I don’t have quite as much time to peruse the shops as I did in Seattle, but still. A lot of the consignment stores seem a tad overpriced in my estimation. I’m not going to pay $50 for a pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans from 10 years ago when they still had the red tags. That’s just absurd. $20? Maybe. A friend of mine visiting from Seattle tried to barter for a skirt that had an unraveled hem, and the consignmentista would not have it. Seriously? Your price is firm on the skirt from 2001 that needs to be sewed?

I’m rambling. The point of this isn’t to complain about local shops but rather to rejoice in the most fantastically wonderful consignment solution ever thought up: thredUP. Have you heard of it? You must check it out. Consignment online! Why didn’t I think of that? Man, I wish I had. I’d be rich! And all my “what am I going to do with my life professionally?” dilemmas would be solved. If only.

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So. Yes. thredUP. It’s the greatest. To buy, it works just like any online retailer. Browse, add to cart, check out. They have a lot of promotions for first time customers etc., so it’s not hard to get a discount on their already reasonable prices. If you want to sell/donate clothing, you can request a bag and they’ll send you a giant green polka dot bag to fill with clothes and shoes etc. I filled up a bag a couple months ago, and while they didn’t accept everything, I made over $80, and the clothes they didn’t take they donated for me. I used my store credit to buy W the warmer clothes she’s been needing since summer is finally subsiding. They have so many great things for $3.49 each! And several items that are new with tags!

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thredUP. Check it out. It’s a great way to buy clothes, especially if you know the size you’re looking for in a particular brand. I have a pair of Adriano Goldschmied cords I love, and I found another pair the same style and size in a different color for a fraction of the retail price!

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Disclaimers: It goes without saying that this isn’t in any way a sponsored post. I am no where near that big time. I just like thredUP, and wanted to spread the word. And I know, I know, shopping online and having a package shipped across the country is not really that “green” and is still pretty materialistic. But it is marginally better than buying clothes that are newly manufactured…