Pot Roast with Baby Carrots and Potatoes

One of my very favorite cold weather meals is pot roast with root vegetables. I love the way it cooks in the Crock Pot all day, filling my home with a delectable savory aroma and the way the flavors of the meat, veggies and herbs all come together to make an absolutely mouth watering eating experience. This is a perfect warm and hearty meal to cozy up with on a chilly fall or winter evening, and goes great with a robust glass of red wine and maybe some rustic bread.

*Note: Since it’s just the three of us for Thanksgiving this year, I decided to forego our traditional feast and instead prepare this delicious pot roast and a simple pumpkin pie.

My recipe for this meal is a bit unstructured and off the cuff, especially when it comes to herbs and rubs. I mix it up often and never use measuring utensils. Luckily, this is an especially simple meal to prepare, and it can be customized to your personal preference and taste!

Pot Roast with Baby Carrots and Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4lbs roast of your choice (I’m using chuck roast in this recipe)
  • 1 bag of organic, washed and peeled baby carrots
  • 1 1/2 lbs (ish) organic fingerling potatoes, chopped or thick sliced
  • organic extra virgin olive oil
  • minced garlic
  • bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • herbs of your choice (in this recipe I’m using onion powder, dried rosemary, dried parsley)
  • 2/3 c.(ish) organic chicken stock

Instructions:
Get your Crock Pot out and ready to be filled. Place half of the baby carrots and half of your chopped potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Make your rub, mixing your preferred amount of olive oil, minced garlic, s&p and herbs.

Place the roast on top of the vegetable layer in the slow cooker. Top the roast with the rub and spread evenly all over.
Add the rest of the vegetables on the sides and around the top of the roast and place two bay leaves on top.

Pour the chicken stock in the slow cooker, being careful not to wash th rub off of the roast.
Set your slow cooker on low and cook for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

Bon Appetit!

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How to Deal: Coping with my Anxiety

If you’ve followed along with me through this blog or via social media, it’s no secret that I struggle with anxiety. Actually, struggle might be too light a word for what I truly experience in the middle of a hellacious anxiety attack. I suffer from Severe Anxiety Disorder, and it is one mean son of a bitch.

A while back, I asked you, my dear followers, to let me know if there was anything specific you’d appreciate hearing from me about on the blog. One thing I was directly asked about was my anxiety and how I deal. I’m so honored and happy to share my own coping mechanisms with you, but more than anything, to be able to let you know that I get it and I am with you and you always have a safe space with me.

Anxiety is nothing to be taken lightly. It’s not simply feeling uncomfortable in a particular situation or circumstance. It is gut wrenching, it is terrifying, it is maddening. Anxiety is heavy and dark, like a cloak you can’t unwrap yourself from. Anxiety is the inability to feel anything but fear in the moment – it freezes you alone, afraid, shaking, sick. Sometimes it brings on waves of tears and sobbing. Other times it manifests itself in anger. I’ve even had multiple instances when my anxiety and stress manifested itself through flu like symptoms. Needless to say, it fucking sucks.

I do see a doctor about my anxiety and depression, and I do take medication for it. The meds do help. They truly do. But I have also found some other ways to deal with my anxiety that help to bring rest to my weary soul and healing to my body. 

Last week, I was just coming off of a terribly heavy, anxiety ridden time and I was finished. I was so exhausted, emotionally and physically. I was completely empty. So Shawn and myself came up with a plan for me to take some time to rest and recover. I took a full week off of my regular kettle bell routine. This is important because I can become obsessive about exercise and I was pushing my body way too far. I turned off my alarm clock and slept in until Shawn left for work and Nora woke up. I took advantage of her nap times and slept, every day. I sent the scale with Shawn to take to work so that I couldn’t step on it, as I was beginning to obsess over my weight as well.

I revisited my belief and practice of listening to my body, trusting what it needed and giving it that. I took long, hot showers and breathed in the fresh eucalyptus. I gave myself facials. I painted my nails. I played with my cat. I enjoyed my favorite essential oils. I watched movies and snuggled on the couch with my daughter. 

I cried. A lot. I allowed myself to fully feel the awfulness of my anxiety demons so that I could detox from them. I took time to prepare new meals, giving myself permission once again to be creative in the kitchen. I talked with my friends. I cried with my friends. I allowed my husband to help me with everything. (This is not an easy thing for me to do.)

Parmesan Pumpkin and Bacon Soup

Parmesan Pumpkin and Bacon Soup

I drank lots of hot tea, I soaked in my delicious yoga practice. I didn’t make any plans. I didn’t formulate any structures for my life. I just breathed. I just napped. I just laughed and cooked and watched tv. I painted my nails. I stayed in bed for my morning coffee.

That week of rest and recovery is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was able to reset. I was able to clear my mind of clutter and bullshit and fear. Not permanently, of course, but for the first time in a very, very long time. And while this past week (election week) hasn’t exactly been a week of joy and sunshine, I found that strength in myself that had gotten lost in that storm of anxiety before. Strength for myself, strength for my family and friends, and most importantly, strength for everyone else. 

ALL THE YOGA, ALL THE TIME

ALL THE YOGA, ALL THE TIME

Mental illness is no damn joke. Anxiety and depression are demons that don’t always go away. But, we can always find a way to cope. And we always have each other. So while I don’t always take a full week to recover, I do make certain to implement those practices as often as possible. It’s so incredibly important that we find the quiet space inside, inhale and exhale deeply, and learn what it is that our bodies need, what it is that our souls need, and do those things. If you need to introvert, do it. If you need to cry and scream, do it. If you need to sleep and sleep and sleep, DO IT. 

Unfortunately, there is no exact recipe for coping. But there are always ways to heal; always ways to recover. When you figure out what those things are, you’ll find you can take each day as it comes. Or each hour, or each minute, however you need to take it. I fully understand the hopelessness. I understand the darkness. I understand the unrelenting torture of it all. I have also slowly, but surely, begun to understand the ways of rising above it, of not being defeated. 

Hope does exist. Healing can come. This, I promise you.

I love you very much.

The Votes Are In

I fell asleep last night before the final numbers came in for the 2016 Presidential Election. I woke up sometime around 4:00 this morning to find that our new president is now Donald Trump. Somehow, I managed to fall back asleep for a few hours, but not without a persistent stomach ache.

I awoke this morning with a heavy heart, a churning stomach, and a sense of terror from head to toe. My initial reaction to this news was similar to what many others felt as well, I am sure. I was shocked. I was horrified. I felt disgusted. I wanted to hurl blame at midwesterners, at third party voters, at non voters, at “racists” and “bigots” and “sexists” and “predators” and “liars” and “ignorant assholes”. I felt angry. I felt betrayed.

But I only allowed these heated, angry, fiery thoughts to linger for a moment. I gave them just enough time to be really felt, and then I let them go. 

Because now is NOT the time for our rage or our blame or our fear to overtake or consume us. This broken country has NO more room for any kind of hate, especially with a man like Donald Trump now sitting in the White House. 

Now is the time for LOVE. Love wins, but only when we make certain that it does. Now it’s up to us to do everything within our power, everything within our beings, as individuals, to love our neighbors. It is not the time for us to wrap ourselves in an arbitrary identity of Democrat, Republican, or Independent. It is the time for us to open our arms to one another and wrap them around each other. For our friends, neighbors, acquaintances and even perfect strangers who now feel more scared, more marginalized, more unaccepted than ever – we must use our time, resources and selves to help them see and know that they ARE loved, they ARE accepted, and that we will do everything we can to protect them. This is our duty now. As believers, as non believers, as Christians, as Mormons, as Catholics, as Atheists, as Agnostics, as Buddhists, as majorities, as minorities, as privileged, as underprivileged, as gay, as straight, as transexual, as bisexual, as men and as women, as parents, as sons and daughters, as brothers and sisters; as human beings, it’s our time to shine.

It is okay to feel those negative feelings – we must allow ourselves to feel them. But we must let go of them, otherwise they will hold us captive. Let yourself be hurt, let yourself be angry, let yourself be disappointed, confused, afraid. But then channel those strong emotions and feelings into positive action. 

A darkness has settled in over this nation, for now, but let’s be the light that blows it away.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”      – Albus Dumbledore

“You are the light of the world.” – Matthew 5:14

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Another fall favorite of mine is a scrumptious loaf of fresh baked pumpkin bread. This recipe is super quick and easy to prepare, and the bread is perfectly spiced and delicious. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 (generous) c. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 heaping t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 heaping t. ground nutmeg
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1/3 c. plain Greek yogurt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard size loaf pan, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat to incorporate. Add Greek yogurt, vanilla extract and pumpkin; mix to combine.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, spices, salt and baking soda.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Pour prepared batter in loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool and enjoy.
Bon Appetit!

Our Pumpkin Patch Adventure

A few weekends ago, our little family ventured out to explore this great pumpkin patch that Shawn stumbled across on his way to an appointment one day. Our visit to Jaker’s in Springville was SO much fun! Nora got to run around in the sunshine, surrounded by other little ones, climbing on haystacks and getting lost in the corn maze.

Jaker’s is by far the coolest pumpkin patch I’ve ever experienced! At only $2 per person to get in (over 4 years old), it’s an incredible bargain. Besides a huge corn maze and giant haystacks, they also offer hayrides, an enormous corn pit and a darling petting zoo – all included with the price of admission! There were local vendors with sweet little booths and food trucks set up as well. We were so lucky to get to visit on a gorgeous, sunny fall afternoon and we had such a great time. If we’re still in Utah next year, I cannot wait to go back!

Nora did not care for the geese honks, not one bit.

Nora did not care for the geese honks, not one bit.

THE PIGS WERE MY FAVORITE OF ANYTHING EVER.

THE PIGS WERE MY FAVORITE OF ANYTHING EVER.

All the heart eyes!

All the heart eyes!

Yes, that is indeed a kangaroo.

Yes, that is indeed a kangaroo.

Furry little llama!

Furry little llama!

And she's off!

And she’s off!

October Favorites

So, technically, it’s November now (WHAT?), but I wanted to share some of my favorite things, activities, memories, etc from the month of October! I did lots of yummy cooking and baking this month, lots of self care, had lots of sweet family time and really just enjoyed myself this month. It was so beautiful outside as well! Icing on the cake. I really love October – it’s truly my favorite month all year!

SO gorgeous!

SO gorgeous!

I’m really enjoying Frank’s new look on this season of How to Get Away with Murder. Oh, and I’m really enjoying THIS SEASON! It’s definitely picked up from last season and I get so giddy to watch a new episode each week! Any other HTGAWM fans out there? No spoilers!

We’ve spent a lot of sweet family time together this month, especially during the weekends. As most of you know, we celebrate Harry Poctober every year by watching two Harry Potter movies each weekend during the month of October, and I make yummy meals to go with the movies. A few of the meals I made this year were chili, homemade pizza, pot roast with veggies, chorizo stuffed jalapenos, lots of baked goods (get my banana bread recipe here) and so much more!

Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake

Fresh Strawberry Coffee Cake

Besides celebrating Harry Poctober together, we’ve also gotten to explore Utah Valley more this past month; walking around downtown Provo, visiting Jaker’s Pumpkin Patch in Springville, and more. It’s been so fun taking little adventures together as a family!

Gorgeous, historic downtown Provo!

Gorgeous, historic downtown Provo!

I'll be doing a full, fun post on our experience at Jaker's soon! It's such a neat little place!

I’ll be doing a full, fun post on our experience at Jaker’s soon! It’s such a neat little place!

I’ve made sure to continue to make some time for self care this month, especially since I’ve been under the weather for a good part of the month. I’ve done mud masks, detox masks, gel eyes masks (YUM) and have LOVED them all. Andalou Naturals makes some of my very favorite mud masks, Miss Spa makes my favorite detox mask, and these Gel Eye masks from Que Bella Beauty are incredible!

As I said before, October is my very favorite month and I am so sad to see it go! I feel like the rest of the year just flies by once October has come and gone. But I have enjoyed every minute of it and have so cherished making memories with my sweet little family. I hope you all had a wonderful October and here’s to an amazing November!

Rustic Margherita Pizza

Today I’m sharing one of my very favorite homemade pizza recipes with you! Who doesn’t love pizza, right? I know it’s easy to grab a frozen one while you’re in a rush at the grocery store, or pick up a few $5 Hot ‘N’ Readys from Little Caesars on the way home; been there, done that my friend! But let me just tell you, homemade pizza kicks take out pizza’s ass! It can be a much more nutritious meal since YOU are in control of the ingredients that go into the pie, and fresh ingredients have so much more color and flavor than fake or frozen or chemically altered. So really, it’s just the best. 

I’ve experimented with a few different homemade pizzas in the past; bbq chicken, spinach and artichoke, veggie pesto chicken and so on, but this margherita pizza is my all time favorite. It’s so simple – five ingredients total! It’s so colorful and so delicious, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. This is also a super fun meal to make and perfect on chilly fall weekends. So please enjoy the recipe below, and I hope you find yourself inspired to give homemade pizza a whirl soon!

Rustic Margherita Pizza: (feeds 2-4, depending on appetites)

Ingredients:

  • one pkg. Whole Foods housemade pizza dough (feel free to make your own dough! this is just what i prefer)
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese (i like to buy it pre-sliced)
  • 1 large tomato or 2 medium tomatoes, sliced thin (i prefer heriloom or beefsteak)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh basil leaves (very important, don’t get dried basil!)
    optional:
  • cornmeal
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • flour for rolling out the dough

I find it’s always very helpful to have my toppings prepped and ready to go before I start rolling out my dough. As for slicing the tomatoes, you don’t want to slice them so thin that they aren’t hearty when you bite into them, but also not so thick that they weigh down the dough.

When I make pizza, or anything that requires my rolling pin, I pull out my trusty enormous wooden cutting board. It’s HUGE, and gives me all the space I need for making a big flour mess and rolling out my dough. Because fresh dough is typically very sticky, I always sprinkle flour onto the cutting board and rub some on the rolling pin before rolling out the dough. I personally love the crunch of cornmeal in my pizza crust, so I always sprinkle that and mix in with the flour on the cutting board before rolling out the dough.

Once I’ve got the dough on the cutting board, I make sure it’s thoroughly coated in flour and cornmeal, and then I get down to business. I like to start by softly kneading the dough just a few times to limber it up, and then I stretch it a bit, being carefully not to pull it apart or create any holes. Now it’s time to roll out my dough! I never make round pizzas. I like ’em crooked and rectangular, plus, it’s just easier to roll out square crust on a square cutting board.

When you roll out your dough, you want to make sure not to stretch it too thin. Because margherita pizza calls for such juicy toppings (mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil), you want a solid crust that can hold up the weight without folding in on itself. I typically roll the dough out to approximately one inch thickness. Once I’m done prepping the dough, I carefully transfer it to the baking sheet. Now it’s time to add the toppings!

         I was multi-tasking! By the way, notice the flour all over my shirt? Aprons are helpful.

         I was multi-tasking! By the way, notice the flour all over my shirt? Aprons are helpful.

So we start by drizzling some EVOO onto the crust. As Rachael Ray says, “I just eyeball it there.” But, it’s very important to get it right – too much oil and your crust will be soggy, not enough and it will be too dry. I’d say no more than a tablespoon. Occasionally I like to mix it up and add a tiny bit of fresh garlic here as well. Your call! Next, I layer the cheese and then the tomatoes and finish by sprinkling the fresh basil and black pepper over the whole pie. There is no rhyme or reason to how you place your cheese or tomatoes, just try to keep the cheese beneath the tomatoes. I would love to say I just haphazardly drop the mozzarella and tomatoes wherever and that it turns out perfectly, but I need structure, so I place them strategically on the dough.

LOOK AT THOSE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES. Gah, so gorgeous.

LOOK AT THOSE HEIRLOOM TOMATOES. Gah, so gorgeous.

Also, can we talk about the scent of fresh basil leaves? Calgon take me away! So sweet and spicy and fresh. I could just sit and smell basil for hours.

Also, can we talk about the scent of fresh basil leaves? Calgon take me away! So sweet and spicy and fresh. I could just sit and smell basil for hours.

Look at that beautiful mesh of colors! Isn’t food stunning? Ugh, I love it so much. Now you’re ready to stick that baby in the oven and bake it to perfection. Your baking time can vary based on your crust preference. I like a crispier crust, so I bake mine a bit longer, and then leave it under the broiler on high for about one minute to get that nice crunchy edge on the mozzarella. 

And here you have your finished pizza pie! This pizza is so flavorful and SO YUM. I just know you’ll love it as much as I do! This beats take out any day, am I right?

Instructions:
Make sure your dough has been sitting out at room temperature for at least one hour before you roll it out.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Prep your toppings and set aside. Next, pull out your cutting board and sprinkle it with a few handfuls of flour and some cornmeal. Place the dough on the floured cutting board and lightly coat the dough in flour and cornmeal.

Gently knead the dough a few times to get it warmed up, and then stretch it out carefully, being sure not to tear it. Coat the rolling pin in flour and roll out your dough to desired shape and size.

Drizzle the EVOO onto the rolled out dough and then placed the sliced mozzarella evenly on the dough. Next, top the cheese and dough with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle the pie with fresh cracked black pepper.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the crust is your desired texture, and the cheese has started to bubble. You also have the option of leaving the pizza under the broiler for a minute or two, on high, to get that nice cheese crisp.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Photos by Shawn McEntyre