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Confession: up until recently I had never cooked quinoa. I just didn’t know what I was supposed to do with it. Was it more of a grain? A rice? A pasta? What exactly should I put it in?

I don’t know why I was so apprehensive about it, because as it turns out, quinoa is pretty awesome. If you can make rice, you can make quinoa.

I stumbled across this recipe for a vegan quinoa chili and it looked simple and intriguing. Turns out, it was also delicious.


Confession number 2: I didn’t make it vegan. I added in spicy sausage. And topped it with cheese. I do not regret these decisions.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili
Adapted from Milk Free Mom


1/2 pound spicy sausage
one 29 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
one 6 oz can tomato paste (or if you’re out like I was, about 1/3 cup of tomato sauce)
32 oz chicken stock
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
1 cup dry quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
avocado, cilantro, cheese for garnish  (optional)


In a medium pan, crumble sausage and cook until browned. Drain grease and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium low heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and they start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste/sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano and garlic powder  and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beans, stock, sausage and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper.

Raise heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and add the quinoa. Continue cooking for about  30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened. Top with garnishes.


This chili surpassed my expectations. It was SO good! I’m glad I added the sausage, though, as I think it might not have enough kick without it. If you’re looking to keep it meat-free, I might suggest adding a small can of diced chilies, or a small jalapeno. We put away about five servings and I froze at least two, so it makes plenty!

Happy eating!

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Oh, hey. It’s been a while since I complained about Owen’s sleep, huh? I bet you missed it. Well you’re in luck. Here’s another installment of My Child Is Trying to Kill Me With Sleep Deprivation. Part 475.

Actually, I don’t know. There isn’t THAT much to say about it, other than he occasionally wakes up just briefly enough at night that I need to go in there and tuck him back in. That’s fine, it really is, but it’s usually an hour or so before or after Ryan wakes to eat, so I’m not falling back asleep long enough on either end for my night to be restorative.

Wait, scratch that. It would be restorative if he wasn’t also waking up FOR THE DAY between 5 and 5:30. Some days — the good days — it’s six. Six I can sort-of handle, but five? No. No I can not. I blame it on him being potty trained. He wakes up, has to go, and that’s the end of sleeping. I can’t tell you how many mornings I’ve spent semi-conscious on the couch while he is plugged in to Sesame Street with his milk and cereal. Usually around 7 he will decide that’s enough rest for me and start poking me in the face or something. The only saving grace is that Ryan usually sleeps until at least then, sometimes almost 8, so I don’t have to worry about him. The days he gets up early, though, I pretty much want to die.

I know from past experience that this is just another stage and that if all else fails, in another few months or so he will be able to go to the bathroom completely on his own with no help needed from me. Maybe by then he can even grab himself some cereal, let the dog out and make Mama some coffee. Ok, I’m reaching here. A little.

But all the knowledge in the world is not making this chunk of time any easier. And so, I get myself a Dark Chocolate Mocha Latte from Dunkin Donuts (otherwise known as a big ol’ cup of super fuel that tastes nothing like coffee {which is probably why I like it}) and inadvertently over-caffeinate myself because in my fog, I usually forget to eat breakfast. I only realize it a few hours later when my buzz turns into WARNING, WARNING, ALL SYSTEMS CRASHING!!!!, which is usually right when both kids are ready for a nap and irritable.

I wish for Owen a lifetime of love, happiness, adventure and prosperity. I also wish for him a child who doesn’t sleep well because PAYBACK IS A BITCH, kiddo.

Did this make any sense? I wrote it with my eyes closed.

Y’all. This pie.

Some friends and I had a girls’ night a few weeks ago where we stuffed our faces with calorie-heavy food and wine. Stretchy pants were mandatory, obviously. My contribution was ham and cheese-stuffed pretzel bites (recipe to come!) and this peanut butter chocolate chip pie.

It was a big hit. Friends raved about its light texture and delicious flavor and I was impressed at how easily it came together. Best of all, it’s a refrigerator pie, so after it was all mixed up all I had to do was toss it in the fridge for a few hours.


The original recipe calls from a homemade graham cracker crust, which is probably pretty good. I happened to have a pre-made shortbread crust on hand, so I used that instead. Truth be told, I think I probably would like it better that way. Peanut butter and graham cracker makes me think of toddler food.


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie
Adapted from Growing Up Gabel


  • 1 ready made shortbread pie crust
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. heavy cream
  • ¾ cups mini chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract using a hand held beater. Set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  3. Add whipped cream to peanut butter mixture, folding in gently until combined.
  4. Gently stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread peanut butter mixture into crust. Allow to chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

The pie is rich in flavor, yet light in texture. It’s decadent enough to feed a bunch, too, since we all found one slice was more than enough. It’s equally delicious in the morning (not that I would know or anything…)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pie. Owen tested AND approved.



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After Hurricane Sandy and the four days we spent without power, we started talking about buying a generator. Michael started doing research on them, but the price tag and life getting in the way made us push it to the back burner. Which is why I started panicking on Friday when reports of 60-80 mile winds hitting the coast on top of two feet of snow started pouring in. If we lost power, we lost.

Not surprisingly, the power shut off that evening. In anticipation, we had cranked the heat up to nearly 80 degrees before it shut off, so it sustained us through the night. In the morning, I bundled the kids in multiple layers and Michael set about trying to get us some power.

There was no rhyme or reason to the outages this time. I saw reports of more than 180,000 customers without power, but by the luck of the draw, a lot of our friends did not lose it. Because of that, if we HAD to leave, we could — assuming we could drive anywhere — which was iffy. Thankfully, friends with a generator didn’t lose their power, and helped us out. By 10 p.m. the generator was running and though the house was cold (it had dropped below 55 by then), it gradually started to warm back up.

I am blown away by the kindness of our friends and neighbors the last few days. Those who could offered whatever they had. Heat, food, a place to stay. One neighbor spent the storm away, and when he returned he said his house was 39 degrees. I am so thankful I was in a position where I could keep my babies warm.

Scenes from Nemo: Happy dog in the snow, a little boy snow gazing, a bundled baby playing and a tired husband snow blowing his mom’s driveway.

Digging out has taken a while, and a slow drive to my mother-in-law’s yesterday painted an eery, cold and still picture of our town. Down lines, telephone poles and snowbanks scattered everywhere. Reports of a transformer blown off into the river. Forty-eight hours later, the power returned. It was bad, but it could have been worse.

Actually, the worse part was last night. After a day with a constantly running nose, Owen woke a few hours after going to bed gagging and burning up. He threw up for the first time and it was a scary experience for him. His fever broke a few hours later and he is a much happier kid today, but I’m ready to wash my hands of the entire weekend and start anew.

Needless to say, we are purchasing a generator.


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