spinach and artichoke chicken and biscuits

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My quest to fill every inch of all of our freezers continues this week with a mashup of two great things: chicken and biscuits and spinach and artichoke dip. The chicken and biscuits part is inspired by one of the first dinner recipes (after mac and cheese) that I remember making with my mom, the chicken and biscuits from Rick and Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures. We used that book all the time growing up! And I remember that in the process of learning to make their chicken and biscuits, I learned that a roux can be used to thicken milk for purposes other than making mac and cheese. This was mind blowing to me! So rather than adding a bunch of cheese and noodles to the sauce, we added chicken, herbs, and veggies, and then topped it with biscuits and baked it all so that the tops of the biscuits got golden and the bottoms soaked up all of the delicious creamy sauce. It was the best. Especially during long dark homework-saturated Chicago suburban winters. A marked up version of this recipe is in the homemade cookbook that my mom made me awhile ago for Valentine’s day, and it is one of my favorite nostalgic things to make.

When it comes to meal prep for Poppy Seed’s arrival, I was advised early on to bring on the comfort foods, so chicken and biscuits jumped to the top of my list. But I also wanted to sneak in vegetables, which is where the spinach and artichokes come in. Spinach and artichoke dip is the best form of balance, no? You get vegetables but they’re blanketed with creaminess and cheese, so yes, I’m all about this. I typically don’t love chicken and cheese together but cream cheese is different, it’s milder and adds its signature subtle tang, so I’m letting it be a part of this. The result is really reeeeeeally good. It’s heavy on the comfort, carbs, and veggies, three things I plan to load up on during Poppy Seed’s first days, and dairy milk adds to the nutrition factor. 

The hardest part about this recipe is opening the can of store-bought biscuits, which remains the scariest kitchen task of all time. It’s so loud! And unpredictable! But I’ve opted to go this route in the interest of convenience since I still have a bazillion things to do before my due date. You can, of course, use homemade biscuits.

I’m so pleased to have partnered with Milk Life on this recipe! Dairy milk has always played a starring role in my kitchen and also in my most cherished memories with family and friends. I can’t wait to make new memories with Poppy Seed and these chicken and biscuits!!


Spinach and Artichoke Chicken and Biscuits

Makes 8 individual servings

Ingredients

3 tb unsalted butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c (33g) all-purpose flour

2 c (472g) 2% or whole milk

2 tsp chicken soup bouillon (just the bouillon itself, not diluted in water)

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thigh or breast, chopped into 1/2”-3/4” pieces

1/2 tsp dried thyme

Black pepper

1 (8 oz) block light cream cheese

1 (10 oz) block frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 (14 oz) can artichokes, drained and chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

Hot sauce

8 store-bought flaky buttermilk biscuits (or homemade biscuits)

Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with a splash of water

Flaky salt, for sprinkling

Clues

If baking immediately, preheat the oven to 400ºf. If planning to freeze, see freezer directions below.

In a large skillet or pot set over medium high heat, melt the butter and add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the flour so that it gets evenly distributed and cook for an additional minute (it’s ok if the pan looks dry at this point). Add half the milk, stirring continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon until thickened, and then repeat with the other half of the milk. You’ll know it’s thick enough if it coats the back of a spoon. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the chicken soup bouillon and then add the chicken, thyme, and a few turns of pepper and simmer, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink. Add the cream cheese, spinach, artichokes, parsley, a few good shakes of hot sauce, and a few turns of black pepper. Stir until the cream cheese is melted. Taste and adjust as desired.

If baking immediately: divide into eight 8-oz oven-safe ramekins or foil containers and top each with a biscuit (squish the biscuits a little bit so that they’re wide enough to cover the whole top). Brush the tops of the biscuits with egg wash and sprinkle with black pepper and flaky salt. Place on a baking sheet (in case any of the mixture overflows) and bake until the biscuits are golden brown on top; begin checking for doneness at 15 minutes. Let cool slightly and enjoy!

To freeze: let the mixture cool slightly. Divide into eight 8-oz oven-safe freezer-safe ramekins or foil containers and top each with a biscuit (squish the biscuits a little bit so that they’re wide enough to cover the whole top). Brush the tops of the biscuits with egg wash and sprinkle with black pepper and flaky salt. Cover with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, place it on a baking sheet, and bake at 400ºf covered for 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue to bake for about another 15 minutes, until the biscuits are browned and the whole thing is heated through. Let cool slightly and enjoy!

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-Yeh!

Thank you, Milk Life, for sponsoring this post!

Photos by Chantell and Brett Quernemoen.

Birthday Girl by The Pioneer Woman

I have been at the Merc quite a bit over the past week, and I had the honor of meeting Glendene, who is turning 100 this week!     Glendene came (with the important women in her family) to the Merc to celebrate, and I was so excited that I happened to be there so […]

I have been at the Merc quite a bit over the past week, and I had the honor of meeting Glendene, who is turning 100 this week!

 
 
Glendene came (with the important women in her family) to the Merc to celebrate, and I was so excited that I happened to be there so we could share a few words (and a hug or two.)

 
 
This is what life is all about, isn’t it? Glendene has lived a full, rich, and layered life. She has witnessed changes in our world that most of us have only read about. And on her hundredth birthday, she’s surrounded by those she has nurtured and raised. She’s surrounded by love.

Happy birthday, Glendene! You deserve to celebrate!

Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Tart

This post was created in partnership with California Olive Ranch. I’m thrilled to be working with them in 2019 to bring you some special recipes that highlight this beautiful olive oil. I’ve been using their olive oil for years now because they produce a high quality oil for an everyday price. Now they are working… Read more »

This post was created in partnership with California Olive Ranch. I’m thrilled to be working with them in 2019 to bring you some special recipes that highlight this beautiful olive oil. I’ve been using their olive oil for years now because they produce a high quality oil for an everyday price. Now they are working with farmers in California and around the world to source their olive oil to create the perfect blends.

As always the words, images and opinions are my own. A very hearty thanks to all of you who support the brands that support the work I do.

There is no shortage of chocolate chip anything on this blog and for that I make no apologies. In fact I’m adding another but I assure you, as with the others, they each have their place.

The purpose for the latest chocolate chip endeavor was to celebrate a birthday. Mine. And as I’m not much of a cake person I took one of my favorite treats in a different direction.

With the addition of olive oil this chocolate chip cookie/tart hybrid has a bit more of a grown up taste. It’s fruity, fragrant and hints towards the savory while still remaining distinctively classic in flavor. It is, in fact a bit cakier than how I take my cookies but that’s because I wanted to eat it with ice cream and a fork. I have my reasons.

If ice cream and forks aren’t called for these can easily be cut into bars.

 

I hope you enjoy this recipe no matter how you cut it.

Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Tart

Makes 1 9 or 10 inch tart

Ingredients

1/4 cup California Olive Ranch Everyday Olive Oil

2 tablespoons whole milk

1/2  cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Vanilla Ice Cream, for serving

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9 or 10 – inch tart pan.

In a large bowl combine the olive oil, milk, sugar and vanilla. Stir well to combine. Add the egg and mix until completely combined.

Add the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until just combined. Finally, stir in the chocolate.

Press the wet batter evenly into the tart pan.

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until golden around the edge but perhaps still a bit gooey internally.

Cool on the tray for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

 

Swoop, Snow, and Other News by The Pioneer Woman

Hi, friends! HUGE news. I mean, monumentally globally relevant news. Okay, not really globally relevant news. Okay, not really monumental news. Okay, not really news. Not anything, actually. Here goes: I started swooping my bangs over to one side. Here’s a pic I took to send to my sister, Betsy, and my mom. It covers […]

Hi, friends! HUGE news. I mean, monumentally globally relevant news. Okay, not really globally relevant news. Okay, not really monumental news. Okay, not really news. Not anything, actually. Here goes: I started swooping my bangs over to one side. Here’s a pic I took to send to my sister, Betsy, and my mom. It covers my cowlick! Pardon my flushed chest. It happens sometimes. Most notably, when I have walked around in high altitude (see Colorado photos later in the post).

 
 
In case you missed it, I was interviewed for a story on CBS Sunday Morning that aired Sunday.

 
 
Here is the link if you’d like to watch! (Ladd is on it, which I really liked.)

CBS Sunday Morning with Ladd and Ree

 
 
In dinnerware news, I wanted to show you my new spring pattern at Walmart.

 
 
It’s called Heritage Floral, and it just takes my breath away. You can find it in Walmart stores right now! Thank you for listening.

 
 
We are in Colorado for a few days, and here is a photo Ladd took yesterday. He skied with his brother, Tim, because no one else will go where they go. They’re lunatic skiers!

 
 
I would never—as in never, ever, ever—ski on this hill. I would sit down and wait for help to arrive. And if you don’t think this looks very steep…

 
 
Here’s another angle. NO. No, no, no. My palms are now wet with sweat, as they were when we were driving here a few days ago. Colorado has gotten so much snow in the past week or two, and there were avalanche threats (and maybe still are.) But the folks around here are so grateful for the snow. It’s kind of like being in Oklahoma. We want rain so badly when it’s dry, but sometimes a tornado comes with that. Sigh.

 
 
As I was writing this post, Ladd sent this photo of Bryce to me. This stopping point is actually called Two Elk Lodge, and there happened to be an elk in front as they arrived to eat lunch. What are the chances?

 
 
As you can see, Bryce has no fear of wildlife.

Or maybe his goggles are coated with ice?

Or (updated, after talking to Paige)…maybe it’s a statue! Haha. I am cracking up.

More snowy updates to come!

Bali Butter

I miss Bali. Or maybe I just miss the warmth, the sun, the vibrancy, the life bursting forth from every nook and cranny. I miss living outside, I miss my eyes being assaulted by colours, and layers upon layers of wild sounds, but hey, it’s […]

The post Bali Butter appeared first on My New Roots.


I miss Bali. Or maybe I just miss the warmth, the sun, the vibrancy, the life bursting forth from every nook and cranny. I miss living outside, I miss my eyes being assaulted by colours, and layers upon layers of wild sounds, but hey, it’s March in Ontario and this is a familiar feeling. Are you feeling it too?

A couple weeks ago when I was in the depths of yet another snowstorm, feeling like spring may never come, I came up with this recipe to remedy my winter woes. It’s called Bali Butter – and it’s the most delicious thing to cross my lips since I could see grass outside my window. A rich combination of cashews, coconut, and cacao, blended together with coconut sugar and salt, it’s like the nut butter of DREAMS in all of its salty-sweet-crunchy-chocolatey glory. And I am really excited to share this one with you, wherever you and no matter what season you’re experiencing.


What does one do with Bali Butter, you ask? Let me tell you, it goes on all. the. things. Pancakes, waffles, smoothie bowls, toast, rice cakes, ice cream, fruit salad, porridge, yogurt, and fingers! You can stuff dates with Bali Butter, stick them in the fridge and have something delicious on hand to satisfy those salty-sweet-fat cravings too. Slice a banana lengthwise, slather Bali Butter in the middle and sandwich it together again. I even like it with carrot sticks. No joke.

I chose to use coconut sugar in my Bali Butter because it’s one of the main sweeteners used on the island and you can easily find it everywhere. Some of you may be curious about using liquid sweetener as an alternative, but the problem with using something like maple syrup or honey, is that it causes the nut butter to seize up. Fat is hydrophobic (translation: it’s “afraid” of water) and will stiffen when it comes into contact with anything that contains it. Using a solid sweetener, like coconut sugar, avoids this problem and keeps the finished product relaxed and runny. If you don’t want to use coconut sugar and you don’t mind a less-spreadable version of Bali Butter, sweeten it with whatever you have on hand.



I think I’ve talked about all of these ingredients respectively, but for the heck of it, let’s recap why they’re awesome!

Coconut – I chose to use coconut flesh instead of just coconut oil in this recipe, and that is because there is a big difference between the nutrition in coconut oil and coconut flesh. Desiccated (dried) coconut is a whole food, so with it you’re getting the dietary fiber and protein that you won’t find in the oil alone. Although coconut products have risen in popularity, especially in the world of “health food”, it’s important to remember that coconut fat is mostly saturated, and should be consumed in moderation.

Cashews – Contrary to popular belief, cashews have a lower fat content than most nuts. And 66% of their fats are heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil. Cashews are an excellent source of copper, and a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. They also contain good amounts of fiber, so that they keep you feeling full for longer. 

Cacao – One of the best sources of magnesium found in nature, in addition to containing high amounts calcium, zinc, iron, copper, sulfur, and potassium, cacao is a nutritional powerhouse. It also contains many chemical compounds that enhance physical and mental well-being, including alkaloids, proteins, magnesium, beta-carotene, leucine, linoleic acid, lipase, lysine, and some neurotransmitters such as dopamine and anandamide – which explains why eating chocolate makes you feel so darn good! 

Coconut sugar – Sometimes called coconut palm sugar, this incredibly delicious sweetener is high in minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. It is happily low glycemic, ranking 35 on the GI scale, compared to agave at 42, honey at 55, cane sugar at 68. This is due to coconut sugar’s composition of long-chain saccharides, which are absorbed by the body at a slower rate than something like refined white sugar. Coconut sugar also contains amino acids, which are thought to slow down the rate at which the sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, acting as a “buffer” of sorts. 

 

 


Some notes on the recipe. It’s very important that you make coconut butter to start, as it creates the liquid base to help the get the cashews going in the food processor. Once you’ve made the coconut-cashew butter, feel free to stop there (it tastes incredible on its own), or go all the way as I have and add the cacao, coconut sugar and salt.

I like to leave my Bali Butter out of the fridge, since it remains liquid and spreadable at room temperature. If you refrigerate it, Bali Butter with harden completely. You can roll it into balls and make yourself some pretty delicious little energy bites when it’s in this state, but it’s impossible to drizzle when chilled.  

If you’re into smooth nut butters, simply leave the cacao nibs out of the equation. They aren’t necessary for any other purpose than crunch, which I personally feel is essential, but I won’t judge anyone for skipping them. Even though you’re obviously crazy 😉


The post Bali Butter appeared first on My New Roots.

Meal Prep Week-Long Power Bowls

You’ve probably seen the meal prep trend online where dozens and dozens of meals are prepped in containers for the entire week? Holy moly. I can say that will probably never be me. I once tried an over-ambitious meal prep and not only did I end up with way too much food, but it took […]

You’ve probably seen the meal prep trend online where dozens and dozens of meals are prepped in containers for the entire week? Holy moly. I can say that will probably never be me. I once tried an over-ambitious meal prep and not only did I end up with way too much food, but it took up most of my day.

On the flip side, I’ve realized that my veggie intake falls pretty flat when I don’t do any prep at all.

Soooo….there has to be a happy medium!?

This little dilemma is exactly why I came up with a simple plan that totally fits into my life these days. The recipe below (which is totally customizable!) takes less than 30 mins of active prep time, but makes enough food for several portions, increasing the odds that you’ll be a veggie powerhouse for the workweek. *arm flex* I love how I can quickly reheat a couple things and build a hearty, nutritious bowl in a matter of minutes!

My meal prep method has been going like this:

  1. Roast two huge sheets of veggies
  2. Cook a grain
  3. Chop a couple fresh veggies (sometimes I skip this if I’m tight on time)
  4. Have toppings on hand, ready-to-roll—things like avocado, nuts/seeds, beans, dressing, etc.

This method has dramatically changed my meals in recent weeks (specifically, lunches) and increased my veggie consumption a ton. All of the ingredients can be changed up so it never has to be repetitive and you can be flexible with using what you have in your fridge/pantry. It helps cut down waste because you can easily use up those “on the verge of dying” veggies in your crisper. Just throw ‘em in the oven and roast the heck out of ‘em! And if you get tired of bowls, throw the prepped food into delicious wraps or even soups/stews.

If you’re feeling extra-ambitious and want to prep even more food, I’d recommend adding one or more of the following tasty items:

I’ve provided a detailed recipe below because it helps to have something to work from the first time, but like I said, feel free to run with it. If you simply commit to roasting 2 big sheets of veggies, cook a grain, and chop some fresh veggies….you’ll be well on your way to making easy throw-together power bowls all week long. My future hangry self has been thanking me a lot.  

Before I go, I want to mention that The Oh She Glows Recipe App is still on sale for 99 cents in the Apple iTunes Store until mid-March! You’ll find these delicious power bowls in there, as well as more than 160 of my favourite plant-based recipes (this number includes 30 app exclusive recipes too). Happy cooking :) 

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Meal Prep Week-Long Power Bowls

Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free

I love having prepped food in the fridge, but don’t love doing hours of meal prep each week. So I came up with this simple method that takes just 25 minutes of active prep time. The healthy food components can be enjoyed for several days in power bowls, wraps, and even stirred into soups! Power bowls are so fun for family meals because you can switch up the veggies and toppings to suit each palate, giving kids control to build their own bowls. This recipe is also a handy make-ahead option if you’re having friends over for a meal. Simply chop all the veggies the night before and refrigerate them in containers. Just before your guests arrive, pop the veggies into the oven, cook the quinoa, and prep the toppings. After cooking, you can all have fun assembling your own power bowls and everyone will be super impressed by the stunning rainbow-coloured meal!

Yield
8 servings
Prep time
25 Minutes
Cook time
35 Minutes

Ingredients:

For the roasted veggies:
  • 3 small (680 g) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (4 cups)
  • 4 cups (500 g) brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved*
  • 1 medium (800 g) cauliflower, chopped into small florets (4 heaping cups)
  • 1 medium (230 g) red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large (500 g) red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
For the quinoa:
  • 2 cups (400 g) uncooked quinoa**
For the fresh veggies:
  • 1 medium (370 g) English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 medium (135 g) bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups (255 g) grape tomatoes (1 dry pint)
For the power bowl toppings:
  • Chopped lettuce/greens (Romaine, Iceberg, kale, etc)
  • Salad dressing***
  • Ripe avocados
  • Cooked beans or lentils
  • Nuts and seeds (I use hemp hearts and roasted pepitas)
  • Hummus or pesto

Directions:

  1. Position two oven racks near the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and line two extra-large (15- x 21-inches) rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. It’s important to use extra-large baking sheets so there’s enough room for all those healthy veggies.
  2. Divide the chopped, “to-be-roasted” veggies onto the baking sheets. Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over top each sheet and toss the veggies until they’re fully coated in the oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast the veggies for 30 to 40 minutes (I find 35 minutes is perfect in my oven for lightly charred veggies) until fork tender and golden. There’s no need to rotate/move the pans or flip the veggies halfway through baking unless you’re particular about even cooking.
  4. While the veggies are roasting, add the quinoa to a large pot along with 3 1/2 cups (875 mL) water. Stir. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then immediately reduce the heat to low-medium, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. Remove the lid and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork.
  5. While the quinoa cooks, chop the cucumber and green onions. Rinse the tomatoes (I hold off slicing them until just before serving).
  6. Remove the roasted veggies from the oven. Once mostly cool, transfer all of the veggies and quinoa into containers, seal with airtight lids, and place into the fridge for up to 4 days.
  7. To make the power bowls: Add a couple generous handfuls of chopped lettuce/greens to the bottom of a large shallow bowl. Drizzle with a bit of dressing and toss the lettuce/greens until coated. Top with spoonfuls of your prepped food (quinoa, roasted and fresh veggies)—I always warm up the quinoa and roasted veggies first! Now, add diced avocado, more salad dressing, cooked beans or lentils, nuts and seeds, and hummus or pesto. Keep the power bowl flavours interesting by changing up the toppings each day!

Tips:

* If your brussels sprouts are quite large, quarter them instead of halving.

 

** If you don't think you'll eat this much quinoa in 4 to 5 days, feel free to halve this amount (use 1 cup uncooked quinoa + 1.75 cups water).

 

*** Looking for a delicious homemade dressing? Try my Lemon-Tahini Dressing, Shake-and-Go Balsamic Vinaigrette (Oh She Glows Every Day, p. 273), or Roasted Garlic and Red Wine Vinaigrette. I always keep Maison Orphee Italian on hand when I don't have homemade dressing prepped.

 

Feel free to roast a head of garlic along with the veggies. The roasted cloves are especially delicious thrown into my Roasted Garlic and Red Wine Vinaigrette found in my Warm + Roasted Winter Salad Bowl recipe.

 

Make it nut-free: Top your bowl with seeds (such as roasted pepita seeds and hemp hearts) instead of nuts and make sure your dressing is nut-free.

I’m Goin’ Back to Cali…Cali…Cali… by The Pioneer Woman

I have been in Los Angeles for the past week shooting a show for Food Network, and because I can’t be away from home for very long before my eyebrows start to twitch and I start to suck my thumb and cry, home came to me over the weekend. I would like to say I’m […]

I have been in Los Angeles for the past week shooting a show for Food Network, and because I can’t be away from home for very long before my eyebrows start to twitch and I start to suck my thumb and cry, home came to me over the weekend.

I would like to say I’m exaggerating, but I’m a hopeless homebody homegirl whose battery starts to rapidly deplete the longer I’m away from my nest.

 
So my birdies came! Well, two of them: Alex and Bryce. First and third. Older girl and older boy.

 
And a bonus: Mauricio, Alex’s FRIEND. He hangs well with us.

We walked to Santa Monica Pier at night, and it was carnivalicious fun. I peer pressured, or parent pressured, Bryce to ride one of those wildly swinging amusement park rides, and he yelled while we were on the ride so loudly that I got tickled and couldn’t breathe. I was worried I’d be one of those people that passes out on amusement park rides, but it wouldn’t be because I had some kind of vascular issue or because I was scared, it would be because I am the kind of mother who pressures her son to ride a scary ride and then laughs when he yells about it.

Gosh, Ree!

 
It was fun to be with the Drummond kids on the beach. It isn’t our usual jam! Bryce wasn’t sure how to navigate the rings. I would have shown him, but I didn’t really want to show off.

 
 
He had no problem with the pull-ups, though! Again, I would have…but…

 
 
We had a delicious brunch on Saturday! I had Lobster Florentine Benedict, which is everything I love in the world. Look at how red that lobster is! I’m such a hick, I thought they were chunks of red bell pepper at first.

Also, guess what celebrity I saw at the restaurant? You’ll never guess. I’ll give you a hint.

Her daughter is an actor.

She’s been with her longtime partner, another actor, for many years.

Her first name contains the name of a color.

She was once in a movie with Bette Midler and Diane Keaton.

She’s blond.

She’s amazing.

Her name rhymes with Boldie Prawn.

Have you figured it out yet?

 
 
I had so much fun with the kids. On Saturday we rode scooters around in the rain and I didn’t fall once. I started out in a floral kimono and cowboy boots and I ended with a rain jacket and tennis shoes. Yes, I still call them tennis shoes. They’re mauve-ish pink and I love them.

I’m heading home Wednesday and can’t wait to fall into the arms of Ladd, Todd, and my seven hundred dogs.

Happy Monday, friends!

Blueberry Crumble Doughnuts

After two months, I finally feel like I am settling into motherhood. In the foggy haze of these early days, it simultaneously feels like I have been a parent forever and for no tim…

After two months, I finally feel like I am settling into motherhood. In the foggy haze of these early days, it simultaneously feels like I have been a parent forever and for no time at all. The transition into motherhood was unexpectedly difficult for me. Since I have wanted to be a mother since I was a young child, I anticipated that the transition would be natural and instinctual. It never occurred to me that I may feel otherwise.

While not all women feel the same, I loved pregnancy. I enjoyed watching my body change, feeling the baby’s kicks and movements, and experiencing the joy of carrying a child. It helped, of course, that my pregnancy was virtually symptom-free—as far as I was concerned, there weren’t any aspects not to love.

When we found out our daughter was growth restricted and would therefore be arriving a few weeks earlier than anticipated, my heart grew heavy. I wasn’t ready for my pregnancy to be over, for this part of the journey my baby and I embarked on to come to a close. I wanted to stay pregnant forever. My body didn’t feel ready to give birth; I wasn’t yet ready to meet my daughter.

I told my husband that I needed more time. If I could somehow be pregnant longer, maybe I would find the emotional and physical connection I needed to say goodbye to my deeply loved pregnancy and welcome a new beginning with the birth of our daughter.

blueberrycrumbledoughnuts1.jpg

When the big day arrived, I went into the hospital conflicted. Even with more time, I hadn’t been able to shift my unwanted emotions. Yet, I still felt hopeful. After reading so many stories of mothers feeling an instant deep love for their children during birth, I anticipated that these feelings would overtake me when the moment arrived.

During the C-section—when the doctors lifted my daughter over the curtain and I laid eyes on her for the first time—I felt taken aback. While I had no idea what she would look like, her actual appearance took me completely by surprise. The birth experience was shocking to me in a way I did not expect.

When they handed her to me for the first time minutes later, she felt like someone else’s baby. I felt detached and confused. Where was the instant love and connection I was supposed to feel? What kind of mother was I going to be if this is how I felt in these early moments?

I didn’t learn this until later, but over 40% of women do not bond with their babies right away. Even though my husband and I took childbirth education and early parenthood classes, our instructors did not touch on this subject. I wish I had been told my feelings were normal, that parenthood is an enormous adjustment and that sometimes it takes time for emotions to sort themselves out. Instead, I felt like I was somehow failing at this job I just began.

The next couple weeks were rough for me. I had a difficult recovery due to the C-section and resulting complications. I struggled to do the most basic of tasks, unable to sit upright or walk without enormous amounts of pain. Breastfeeding was not going well. Since Baby N was born early and weighed so little, it was vital for her to get the calories she needed to grow, but she also didn’t have the energy necessary to feed. I had to deal with the reality that I would not be able to provide milk for my daughter in the way I had planned.

The postpartum hormones hit me harder than I anticipated. I couldn’t even think about my pregnancy without bursting into tears. I was grieving the loss of being pregnant, of my life before having a child. Even though I’ve wanted to be a mother as long as I can remember (I was ecstatic when I found out I was pregnant), I was dealing with unexpected feelings of remorse—and then guilt that I could ever have these emotions at all. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation only intensified everything I was experiencing.

Life with a newborn is hard.

It was several weeks before I found myself in a better place, before I was able to fully bond with and enjoy time with my daughter. Now, of course, I can’t imagine life without her—her big smiles, goofy mannerisms, and love for sleepy snuggles.

My transition into motherhood was not beautiful or graceful. It has taken time for me to accept that reality doesn’t always match expectations and that’s okay. I expect I will learn this lesson over and over again in my new role as a parent.

Right now, the fog of early parenthood has not completely dissipated, but it is starting to lift. I am still working on finding my new identity both in and out of parenthood. One lesson I have taken away from the transition to motherhood is to have grace with myself.

One day at a time. Everything will eventually fall into place—it always does.

Blueberry Crumble Doughnuts feature a baked, cake-based doughnut. To prepare, blueberries are folded into a vanilla-scented batter. A cinnamon crumble is sprinkled over the top before baking. For best texture, these doughnuts should be enjoyed the same day they are baked, but I still savored the leftovers a day or two later.

Blueberry Crumble Doughnuts

Yields 6-8 doughnuts

Blueberry Doughnuts
1/3 cup (70 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 mL) milk
4 ounces (113 grams) fresh or frozen blueberries

Crumble Topping
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a standard-size doughnut pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk until uniform. Fold in the blueberries.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag (or large resealable plastic kitchen bag with the corner snipped off). Fill the depressions in the prepared pan with the batter until 2/3 full (alternatively, you could spread the batter into the pan using an offset spatula, but this results in more unevenly shaped doughnuts).

For the crumble topping, beat together butter and sugar until well combined. Stir in flour and cinnamonuntil crumbly. Crumble the topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until crumble topping browns and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15-20 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.