T.L.C. (Tender Loving Chili)

I don’t know about other states, but in Minnesota there gets to be a sort of mania when the temps start to dip below 50 degrees. And not like an-in-a-panic mania, but like wide-eyed-exhilarated-rants-about-all-things-fall-and-how-it’s-the-best month mania.

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And I get it – my birthday is in the fall, so obviously there are some good things happening as the leaves are changing and we’re all showing off our cute scarf and sweater collections. But maybe it’s also that we have to throw ourselves into this state of gleeful autumnness because we know winter is coming, which is less about showing off cute clothing choices and making sure not an inch of skin is exposed to the air as you scrape off your car.

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Good news: there are some foods that just *taste* better in certain seasons, and once the degrees start to cool, these dishes start getting top billing and we are all the better for it. It’s already chilly in my apartment, and because I am cheap and refuse to turn up the heat until it’s below freezing, I am opting to bundle in blankets, fluffy socks, and hold a warm bowl in my hands. What’s in the bowl? One of my fave fall/winter go-tos: Chili.

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CHILI

Ingredients:
  • Can of chili
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Remember eating amazing homemade chili with your in-laws last winter and deciding that would hit the spot

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2) Also remember that you don’t have time or energy to figure all that out, and decide that good ol’ Amy usually has your best interests at heart in times like these

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3) Open can

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4) Pour chili into pot and heat until it seems like it’s ready

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5) Pour out of pot into bowl

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6) Realize you don’t have sour cream but you have cream cheese

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7) Decide not to possibly ruin everything at the last minute and just enjoy as is

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Veggies & Yum-mus

Although I’ve never had an aversion to eating veggies solo, I do enjoy adding a co-star when staring down a plate of garden goodness. Peanut butter waltzing with celery, salad dressing gracing the presence of spinach leaves, or hummus rocking out with a crunchy vegetable – I love it all.

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I’m not sure what my life was like pre-hummus. I’m actually not sure I want to think about it. Other hummus aficionados have regaled me with marvelous-sounding (and surprisingly simple) recipes to get those chickpeas nice and hummus-ed, which is awesome.

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Also awesome? You can just buy hummus and it’s all ready to go! Have fun enjoying this Veggies & Hummus recipe – your veggies will thank you for the company.

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VEGGIES & HUMMUS

Ingredients:
  • Assorted veggies
  • Tub of hummus
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Pick out a vegetable or two while humming a healthy tune

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2) Procure a container of hummus to your liking

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3) Dip those veggies right up in there

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4) Enjoy!

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School Lunch Rock

No one in our household is going back to school this fall. I finished up my masters this spring, and we have yet to have young’uns running around and tearing up the joint. I probably get back-to-school anticipation every fall because I was one of those kids that *loved* school. Loved being around people learning, loved taking notes, most of the time enjoyed homework, loved picking out the supplies (3rd grade CleoCatra Lisa Frank trapper keeper FTW).

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I also had two versions of a shirt that said “So Many Books, So Little Time.” So…that.

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I hope my future offspring is able to enjoy school too. In my naive, pre-parenting dreams, I am one of those parents that provides a school lunch with thoughtful post-it notes, or adorably cut sandwiches, or hires a singing telegram to help open my child’s fruit cup.

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If I’m setting these high standards now, I figure I better start practicing school lunch prep. On a mission for a variety of healthy food packed with love and good intentions, I offer up this recipe to current parents or parents-to-be: Brown Bag Lunch.

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BROWN BAG LUNCH

Ingredients:
  • 1 brown bag
  • 1 GoPicnic
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Look through your food options to find a variety of healthy food that will sustain your child through their day’o’learning

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2) Discover that GoPicnic has already figured it out and put everything in a box for you

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3) Put a Post-It with a heart on it or something fun

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4) Put the box in the bag

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5) Get ready for your Parent-of-the-Year award, probably

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California Dreamin’

Big news over here – we are west coast bound! My partner landed an amazing job in San Diego, and after talking it through (insert pat on the back here for neither of us saying “YOLO” once during the decision-making process), we decided to meet this new adventure head-on.

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At this point, I am still a bundle of excitement and nerves. It’s a big change. I’m hoping I find a job that’s great, some people that are equal parts lovely and sarcastic, and that there will be beaucoup opportunities to try out new dining & recipe experiences for the blog. I guess I don’t even know if people eat out there. Don’t they just subsist on avocado, sunshine and ocean breezes?

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The other thing is that moving ain’t cheap. Everything starts adding up so quickly. So, in order to save some dollars this week, I’m turning to a recipe that has never let me down in times of pennies being pinched: Leftovers.

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LEFTOVERS

Ingredients:
  • Remnants of a meal gone by (at least one serving)
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Give Mint.com the side-eye for being kind of snarky about your current financial status

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2) Open your fridge and say something to the effect of “What have you got for me, sweetheart?” or “I believe in you, magical fridge of food possibilities – let’s do this!”

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3) Find some of your delicious dinner from last night, and decide it’s good enough

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4) Take a second to debate whether to try and recreate it or just eat it cold

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5) Probably just eat it cold – still good!

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Pancake Perfection

“Hello, I love you,” is something I’ve literally said to more than one plate of pancakes in my lifetime. Totally justified each time, but I guess this means I’m not a great pancake monogamist. I think because we only have them once in a while (usually on a lovely, lazy weekend morning), they feel extra luxurious and delicious. Deluxurious, if you will.

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Pancakes are also one of those recipes that once you know the basic ingredients, it’s easy to branch out and try different variations to spice it up. Blueberries! Chocolate chips! Kale! (Well, probably not kale, but it seems to be sneaking its way into everything else, so I thought I’d offer it up).

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I think everyone has their own favorite variation on pancakes, and if not, there are 479 recipes on allrecipes.com alone to pick from. Bringing your options up to at least 480 is one of my favorite versions: Weekend Pancakes.

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WEEKEND PANCAKES

Ingredients:
  • @ least one person who likes to cook
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Find an old bottle of maple syrup in your pantry and mention (out loud) that pancakes sound amazing

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2) Hear your partner/friend/roommate/live-in chef offer to make some

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3) Watch them appreciatively from afar, offering up words of encouragement (“Those smell great!”) or half-assed participation (“Can I set out some plates or something?”)

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4) Set out some plates or something

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5) Enjoy!

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Gadgets and Gizmos Aplenty

I don’t think I truly realized how many different kitchen utensils existed in the world until we registered for our wedding. I felt a little odd requesting gifts from family and friends simply because we added a couple of rings and a signed paper from the state to our relationship, but people seemed cool with it. And we were definitely appreciative for the opportunity to get a set of silverware so we weren’t constantly defaulting to chopsticks.

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When we got that registry gun in hand at the store, it got a little paralyzing. Oh mylanta, the amount of kitchen gear out there. I distinctly remember standing in front of a device that made waffle sticks and reveling in its cleverness. Then I snapped back to my real world, where you can toast a waffle and slice it into sticks yourself, saving approximately $30.

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Not to give you the impression we were completely kitchen gadget-less pre-wedded bliss. I’ve had a few of my main food prep staples with me for years, and they were used for today’s awesome recipe, Takeout Food.

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TAKEOUT FOOD

Ingredients:
  • 1 menu
  • 1 phone
  • 1 method of roundtrip transportation
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Look at takeout menu and select tastiest dish listed

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2) Pick up the phone, dial number listed on said menu & tell all of your food dreams to the person who answers (just your food dreams, though; despite what anyone says, no one wants to hear your real dreams – that’s only interesting to you)

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3) Find transportation (car, bike, bus, feet, etc) to get on over to the restaurant

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4) Pick up your food

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5) Use transport to get back to your place (keep the bag your food is in closed tightly)

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6) Enjoy!

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