Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles

Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles

We are entering the stage of sticky. There was always some of that from the earliest days of parenthood, but toddler sticky is a whole new level. No matter how many times I clean my kitchen floor, I still end up repeating the phrase, "What did I just step on?!" more times than I care to admit. I carry baby wipes with me wherever I go – and it's rarely ever for actual diaper changes. They’re for wiping granola bar crumbs, spilled applesauce, snot, drool or other mysterious liquids off my own body or that of my two munchkins. Clean up after meals all too often requires a full-blown bath rather than a quick wipe down. And summer? No one told me before having kids that summer is really three straight months of reaching epic levels of sticky.

Continue reading and get the recipe over at Coffee + Crumbs!

Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles
Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles
Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles
Strawberry, Banana + Coconut Milk Popsicles

Full recipe and instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!

A Birthday Celebration, Summer Update + Giveaway!

Favorite Things Giveaway-2.jpg

I can’t believe it’s been a year already! The Homemade Haus officially turns 1 this summer! It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m incredibly thankful for the encouragement and support I’ve received from friends, family and readers. You have helped make this an amazing adventure, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store in for the next year.

Speaking of what's next...

I’m a planner. I like lists and calendars. I get a goal in my head, and half the fun for me is plotting out how to reach it. The only problem? Sometimes I get a little overzealous and overcommitted, resulting in either crappy work or complete burnout. I don’t want that to happen to this site. I’m trying to be more careful, intentional and realistic in my work – and motherhood adds an entirely new set of challenges that I didn’t have to work through in my previous blogging experience. 

Favorite Things Giveaway

So, I’ve decided to take the month of July off from posting new content here for two reasons: to rest and to learn. I will be spending time intentionally resting and unplugging for part of the month as my husband, kids and I go on vacation. In other words, I will be actually reading books – you know, those paper things that don’t require Internet or an outlet to enjoy? No wifi, no Netflix…just family, the woods and a good book. I seriously cannot wait!

The second reason for this month off is to have time to focus on learning. I’ll be participating in a writing workshop, tinkering with the backend of the blog and finishing up some video tutorial classes I started months (some even years) ago. It’ll still be a very full month, but you won’t see the fruits of that labor in the form of new content, at least for now. 

With all that being said, I thought that the first birthday of The Homemade Haus and the kick-off to my month away deserved a giveaway! (After all, we launched this site with a giveaway…why not keep that tradition going?) Thanks to several amazing sponsors that I’ve had the privilege of working with this past year, one winner will enjoy a prize pack (worth about $120!) filled with a few of my favorite things! 

Favorite Things Giveaway

Here’s what’s included:

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below! 



Product for this giveaway was provided in partnership with FreshGround Roasting, K'Tizo Tea, Sonoma Syrup Co. and The Spice House. All opinions are 100% my own. This giveaway is only open to US residents and will start Wednesday, June 29 and close at 12:00am on Wednesday, July 6 (CDT). The winner will be contacted via email or social media and will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected. 

Summer Long Sangria

Sangria

There are certain recipes that have become signs of the season in my house – Autumn Chowder in fall, beef stew in winter, my favorite bacon, lettuce and peach sandwich in spring and sangria in the summer. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as sipping a cold glass of sangria on the back deck, around the fire-pit with friends or after a long day in the sun. 

Sangria

My brother shared this recipe with me a couple years ago, and I haven’t made another version since. The idea is simply that you make a base mix with ingredients like fresh fruit, brandy and various liqueurs, and then you add that mix to a bottle of wine when you're ready to serve. It’s become a family staple during the warm weather months. The best part? The recipe below makes enough of the base mix to last you all. summer. long.

Summer Long Sangria-2.jpg
Sangria
Sangria

If you scroll down and look at the ingredient list, you’ll notice it requires a lot of alcohol. Don’t let that deter you. This recipe should literally last you all season (or make enough for a huge crowd), and you don't have to buy top-tier liqueurs (use a decent wine when serving, though).

Sangria

If you make the full batch as written, you’ll have enough sangria base mix for about 18-24 bottles of wine, depending on how many ounces of mix you use per bottle of wine. Keep that in mind, and adjust accordingly. This summer, we split a batch with my brother and sister-in-law, which gave us each enough base mix for about 10 bottles of wine per couple. 

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Sangria

You can pare down the recipe to make enough sangria for just one evening or one party. Personally, though, I rarely use ingredients like peach schnapps or amaretto for anything else, so I’d rather use up those entire bottles. 

If you're willing to share the fruits of your labor, a jar of the base mix wrapped up with your favorite wine makes a great housewarming or hostess gift. It’s also the perfect addition to any cookout or picnic, and the base mix works well with reds, whites or roses to please nearly any palate. 

Sangria

Are you a fan of sangria? What’s your favorite beverage to enjoy during the summer months?


Summer Long Sangria

1 (8-12 ounce) jar of sangria base mix (recipe below)
1 bottle wine of choice*
Sparkling water (optional)
Ice
Fresh lemon or orange wedges

In a large pitcher, mix together 8-12 ounces of sangria base mix with 1 bottle of wine, adjusting the amount of base mix to your taste. I prefer about 12 ounces of mix (including the fruit) per 750mL bottle of wine. 

You can also top the sangria off with sparkling water if you want to tone down the intensity. Serve with ice and a few fresh orange or lemon wedges. Enjoy!

Note: *The base mix adds quite a bit of sweetness, so I'd stay away from using very sweet wines. 


Sangria Base Mix
Yields enough for 18-24 bottles of wine

6 oranges
6 apples
6 lemons
2 bottles* triple sec
1 bottle brandy
1 bottle apricot brandy
1 bottle peach schnapps
1 bottle amaretto
½ bottle raspberry liqueur

Chop the oranges, apples and lemons into small wedges. In a very large bowl or pot (I use my big soup pot), mix together the fruit with all of the other ingredients. 

Ladle the sangria base mix into smaller containers (I use 8-12 ounce freezer-safe jars), making sure the fruit pieces are evenly distributed between the jars. Seal tightly and store the jars of sangria base mix in the freezer until ready to use.

You can also store the jars in the fridge or even at room temperature. The alcohol in the mix helps preserve the fruit. However, if you want to be extra cautious about food safety, the freezer is a better option. I also prefer to keep the jars in the freezer so that when I add the mix to the wine, it helps cool the wine without needing to dilute it with too much ice. 

Note: *A “bottle” in this recipe is a 750mL-sized bottle. 

Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans

Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans

I read an article a few months after giving birth that said something to the effect of, “It can take up to a year to get your pre-pregnancy body back.” 

“OK,” I thought. “I can do that. I can be gracious and patient and let myself have a year.”

It’s been 16 months, and I’m not even close. 

I thought I had moved past the body image insecurities I had when I was younger. I don’t struggle as much now with the shame monster that used to rear its ugly head while I leafed through glossy, Photoshopped magazine pages in high school. I haven’t worried like I used to about measuring up to those around me who are running faster or racing farther. I thought I’d learned to be content with my body, and this negative self-talk battle was behind me. 

Read more and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.

Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans
Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans
Balsamic Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans

Full recipe and instructions can be found over at Coffee + Crumbs!

I Have Much To Be Thankful For

I Have Much To Be Thankful For

This guy. If you know him, I hardly need to say anything else.

But I'll share a few things anyway.

I remember him singing and rocking me to sleep. "My Jesus, I love Thee; I know Thou art mine." I knew almost every word to that song before I even saw it in a hymnal and sing it to my kids now. (Of course, he had to do whatever necessary to calm us down after a rousing reading of Old Hasdrubal and the Pirates.)

I remember as a kid walking into his study at home, only to realize he was on his knees, elbows propped on the armchair, head bowed...praying. Even at age 5 or 6, I felt like I had walked in on an intimate conversation. I knew he wasn't saying a few trite words but rather in those moments, he was kneeling before the throne of God, praising, confessing, thanking, pleading.

I remember sitting around the dinner table, night after night, year after year, beginning each meal with prayer and ending with devotions and another prayer. At times to me, it felt long and ritualistic, but now as a parent I look back and have a deep appreciation for how those habits of family prayer and communal Scripture reading formed me, and I hope to carry on those same practices with my own children.

I remember him taking me out for breakfast at the town diner on my birthday. Mom would call the school and tell them I'd be late. I'd order Belgian waffles with vanilla ice cream, slathered in strawberries or chocolate syrup. It was the best. Once I got to school, I'd brag to my friends about why I was late - and it wasn't because I got to eat ice cream or because I had permission to miss that first hour. I bragged because I got to spend the morning with my dad.

I remember walking through the grocery store with him (this still happens) and having to stop because someone who knew him would see us and want to thank him for something he said or did. As soon as we'd walk into the next aisle, he'd confess, "I have no idea who that person is." We'd chuckle. But regardless of his own memory, they remembered him and the wisdom that he offered in a time of need.

One of his most often used phrases is, "We have much to be thankful for." (Another is "Suck it up and go," but that's for another day.)

Yes, he voices thankfulness when talking about good times. But I remember him echoing those words in the midst of his own cancer. The refrain was repeated again as he cared for my mom through pancreatic cancer and then again after her death. He's continued to exemplify an attitude of thanksgiving through recent health issues, various life frustrations and a myriad of ministry challenges.

My dad is not perfect, he makes hilariously awkward comments that somehow only he can get away with and my sisters and I regularly nag him to eat better. Yet what I hold onto most is his unwavering faith in Christ, his commitment to his family and his godly example to others both in good times and in bad.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. For many reasons, I can confidently say, "I have much to be thankful for"...not least of which is you.


Photo by Anna Guziak

Salmon Salad Salad

Salmon Salad Salad

I did it. I’ve had this idea swarming around in the back of my mind for a couple months, but I kept putting off the decision. (No, I’m not talking about baby number three or anything life altering like that.) I finally decided to register for a local half marathon happening this September.

This will be by far the longest distance I’ve completed since having babies – and to say that I’m nervous and intimidated would be a huge understatement. Thanks to past race experiences back in college and a few years after, I have a pretty good sense of what I need to do as far as training. I know how far I need to run in the weeks beforehand so I can feel confident on race day. I know what to eat on race morning, what training plan I’m going to follow and what foods to avoid so I can feel my best.

But even though technically I’ve done this running thing before, there’s still an almost paralyzing fear of the unknown. Getting back into running post-babies is uncharted territory for me. I have a fear of how this mom-bod will fare, or if it will even hold up at all. I fear that I won't be able to juggle training and parenting at the same time (although thanks to a double jogging stroller, that part is a little easier!). I have a fear that maybe I’ll log the miles, cross-train and eat everything I’m supposed to, and this will still be my slowest race time ever. Or worse - what if I come in dead last? What if out of thousands of people, I’m the one they need to drive by and pick up because I’m just too stinkin’ slow. What if that’s me?

It might be. I may miss training runs because I can’t fit it in between other responsibilities. There’s always a risk of injury, and I may have to take a break from training or even drop out of the race. I may come in at the back of the pack, posting my slowest time ever. I may find that running in this post-baby body is more of a challenge than I anticipated.

Then I think, “So what?”

Salmon Salad Salad
Salmon Salad Salad

I want to run because it’s time out of the house. It’s time that I get to listen to music, sermons, lectures or podcasts uninterrupted. I get to be out in nature and clear my head. I love the running community, the support on race day, the “runner’s high” that eventually comes after slogging through the first few weeks of training. I also know that I’m a better wife and mom when I exercise, I have more energy and it’s generally good for my body. And you know what? All of those benefits, all of those reasons that I enjoy running are just as true if I run my slowest race time ever or even come in last place.

I don’t know exactly how this is going to play out, especially come race day. I do believe in doing my best and striving for excellence, but at the same time, I’m learning to let go of my unrealistic expectations for perfectionism. I don’t have to compete with my 20-year-old self, and my worth isn’t determined by a race time.

Salmon Salad Salad

So here goes! We’ll see what happens come September! (Local friends, want to run with me? Click here to check out the race info for the Fox Valley Half Marathon!)

In the meantime, enjoy a super easy clean eating recipe for Salmon Salad Salad! I’ll be working on healthy recipe ideas to keep me going during training, so you’ll be seeing more of that on the blog – mixed in with the occasional cocktail or doughnut, of course.


Salmon Salad Salad
Adapted from Ina Garten 
Yields 3-4 servings

2 (6 ounce) cans boneless, skinless salmon, drained
1 cup diced celery
½ cup finely chopped red onion
¼ cup mayo (I suggest homemade or a brand such as Tessemae’s)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges
Mixed greens, avocado, red onion or other salad fixings

Add the salmon to a medium bowl. Stir in the celery, red onion, mayo, parsley, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. 

Spoon the salmon salad over your favorite mixed greens. Add additional toppings such as avocado and red onion. Squeeze a wedge or two of lemon over the whole dish. Serve and enjoy!

Why Do I Have a Food Blog?

I’ve often asked myself over the last couple years why food blogging and exercising creativity is so important to me. Why do I bother? I knew there was maybe an answer deep down, but I never really attempted to articulate it, and so I was left with my shallow responses that didn’t really get to the root of why I’m passionate about this endeavor. 

A little over a month ago, I had the opportunity to apply to attend a dinner that will take place during The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference. The application required that I write an essay answering three questions: 1: What do I do on a daily basis? 2: How do I feel about what I do? And 3: When has my work felt most meaningful?

I was forced to sit down and think through my work as a food blogger. I’m incredibly grateful for that challenge, and through this exercise, I’ve definitely found a renewed sense of purpose and am wrestling – in a good way – with the theological implications of creative work. 

Below is a sneak peek at what I wrote, and you can read the rest of my essay over at The Gospel Coalition


I am a stay-at-home mom of 13-month-old twins. I spend much of my day feeding hungry mouths, washing dirty clothes, wiping tears, giving kisses, snuggling babies, and doing whatever else is needed around the house.

When the kids get up in the morning, it’s diaper changes and then downstairs for breakfast. I grab a big mug of coffee and sit with the kids while they eat in their high chairs—because, maybe while they’re strapped in, I can enjoy my coffee while it’s still hot. Then I do a not-so-thorough cleanup job (it’s just going to be a mess again in a few hours, right?), and we head into the other room to play. I’m usually still trying to finish that coffee, which by now is lukewarm.

In between my mugs of caffeine and mama duties, I am also a food blogger. Eventually naptime arrives, and I squeeze in my blog work. I check emails, post to social media, develop recipes, photograph dishes, edit images, and write.

Food blogging started as a creative outlet for me, and once I had kids, it was an excuse to do something other than change diapers. I’d often sheepishly—almost with a sense of guilt—describe it that way to others. But in my head, I couldn’t help but wonder, What is the purpose behind my cooking? What is the reason for my blog? I craved the creative work, but I also felt guilty about spending time pursuing this craft.

Read more at The Gospel Coalition.


"Creamy" Celery + Potato Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

Creamy Celery + Potato Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

You know those recipes that require you buy an entire bunch, can, jar or bag of something, and then you only need a tiny amount of that particular ingredient? That drives me crazy. Take tomato paste, for example. Almost every recipe I use with tomato paste calls for just a tablespoon or two, but then I’m left with almost a whole can. Fortunately, a lot of canned leftovers can be frozen so I don’t end up wasting it…but fresh ingredients pose more of a challenge.

Like celery. I always seem to be scrambling to figure out ways to use leftover celery. It’s not like you can freeze it (or can you? I’ve never tried, but that sounds weird to me), and there are only so many celery sticks I can stand to eat at a time. After making a batch of chicken salad a few weeks ago that required a few stalks of celery, I was determined to find a way to save the rest of bunch before it met its moldy demise. 

Creamy Celery + Potato Soup with Crispy Prosciutto
Creamy Celery + Potato Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

Enter Celery + Potato Soup with Crispy Prosciutto. Ironically, I think I’ll be buying celery from now on for this recipe, and then using leftovers for all the other salads and such. This soup is even husband-approved. He’s not always the biggest fan of blended soups, especially when they’re comprised primarily of vegetables, but this one is creamy (without containing cream!), savory and incredibly flavorful. 

Creamy Celery + Potato Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

Of course, even after the hubs and I taste-tested and approved, we decided we couldn’t resist adding a little pork to the mix. A crispy prosciutto topping gives the perfect salty crunch to complement the smooth blended soup. Add a drizzle of olive oil and you’ve got yourself a healthy, comforting (and Whole30 compliant!) dish.

What ingredients do you find yourself scrambling to use up? Have any tips for storing or using those lingering leftovers?


Creamy Celery + Potato Soup with Crispy Prosciutto
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Yields 10-12 cups

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
5 cups diced celery (about 10 stalks)
1½ pounds red potatoes, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (plus more to taste)
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
¼ cup coconut milk

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the celery, onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are softened. Add the potatoes, salt and pepper and cook about 10 minutes more, stirring frequently. 

Add the chicken stock and the bay leaves. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. 

Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaves. Transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender and blend until smooth. (Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender.) 

Return the soup to the pot. Stir in the coconut milk and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Top with crispy prosciutto and a drizzle of olive oil. 


Crispy Prosciutto

Prosciutto slices (1-2 slices per serving)
Parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the prosciutto slices out on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the color is slightly darkened.

Transfer the prosciutto to a paper towel lined plate to cool (it will get more crisp as it cools). Once cool, crumble it into small pieces. Serve on top of Creamy Celery + Potato Soup.