Autumn {skillet} Dinner

Well, I’m older.

{<-Flowers, dinner, presents, drinks}

But, I guess 26 isn’t so bad…

Each year, my special day seems to kick off the fall season in my mind. Instead of dreaming of lazy summer evenings, ice cream, and days at the pool, I think of going for a run in the crisp sunshine, hearty comfort food…and presents. (And, who am I kidding, I think about ice cream every season.) :)

My awesome Husband and my fun family made my day great. The Husband and I had a date night complete with sushi, my favorite local pecan tart with vanilla gelato, tickets to see the Zac Brown Band and a weekend getaway. And then, we caught up with my parents and siblings for lunch at Local Roots and…. drum-roll.Jeni’s SPLENDID Ice cream!

{Sunday lunch with the Family!}

This restaurant was perfect – patio, zucchini fries, black bean burgers, calzones… everything was delicious, and we had a blast laughing, telling stories and just being together. Of course, the anticipation of the best ice cream on the planet also made things a little more exciting…

Jeni’s trio with salted caramel, brown butter almond brittle and black coffee… euphoria.

{All the best things: Jeni’s, little sisters, husbands, sunshine…}

Well, after this delightful waltz into the season, I was ready for some authentic fall flavors at home… and after that ice cream (and multiple other birthday-related treats that will remain unnamed), I was also ready for some vegetables. Lots of them. Plus, who doesn’t love dinner that can be made in one pan?

Win-win-win.

Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, and great for leftovers, this salty-sweet dish will make you want to jump in crunchy leaves, wear a scarf, drink a pumpkin spice latte and sit by a campfire all at the same time.

Autumn {skillet} Dinner

Serves 4, Based on this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 4 tsp olive oil (I used 1/2 garlic-infused olive oil, if you don’t have that on hand, just add a clove while cooking the chicken)
  • 1-2 Chicken or Turkey sausages, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 med sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, oregano, sage (and/or whatever else you have in your garden!)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 c reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c real maple syrup

Directions:

1. SEASON chicken lightly with salt. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in large nonstick frying pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate.

2. RETURN pan to heat and add remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Toss in sausage, and cook until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Add Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in apples, garlic, fresh herbs, and cinnamon. Cook 3 minutes. Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth, bring to a boil, and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add reserved chicken and remaining 1/2 cup broth. Drizzle with maple syrup, add dried cranberries, and season with the salt and black pepper as needed. Cook until hot, about 2 minutes.

Enjoy!

{The fresh herbs, colorful ingredients and super-simple steps make this dinner a winner}

I can’t forget a Happy Birthday shout-out to my Father-in-law! We reallly enjoyed that classic DQ ice cream cake… mmmm. Happy 60th!

And, lest I neglect to mention it, FreshlyMinted has turned 1!

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Viora Beth: {my mama}

Not many people know that my mama’s full name is Viora Beth.

A family name, she has gone by “Beth” since babyhood.  But having that second, secret name, has always made her a little more special in my eyes…

{1965}

Mama will celebrate her birthday today, and I have to say that there is almost no one that I look up to more… As I grow up, it becomes increasingly obvious that I have a lot of growing up to do, and, I’d like to be a lot more like her.

Lessons from Mom:

  • Serene hospitality.

I love to have people over to my house. I love to plan, cook, and make my home a cozy space to enjoy conversation, solidify new friendships and catch up with the old. The hours leading up to these peaceful celebrations, however, tend to be anything but. I snap at the Husband, sweat profusely, the grill is inevitably out of propane and I ALWAYS worry that somehow everyone will magically turn into ultra- awkward, picky, critical versions of themselves and just want to leave….

Note: This has never, ever happened.

My mom, on the other hand, throws elegant get-togethers with an air of effortlessness I aspire to. Dad invites last-minute guests? No problem. Ate something yummy at a gourmet restaurant on vacation? It inspires a homemade menu fit for royalty. People show up early, food burns, little brother is doing his best armpit-rendition of silent night? She takes it in stride. Her guests feel loved and special because she takes the time to add the perfect touches (roast duck a l’orange and a bouquet of fresh-cut garden roses, anyone?), but delightfully at ease in the laid back atmosphere.

I want to be like that.

  • Doing it ’till its done.

When mom starts a project, it gets finished. She makes curtains, covers chairs, makes you finish your goat 4-H book, re-builds the garden, makes slideshows for weddings and graduations, refinishes furniture, paints, straightens, writes, crafts, educates and makes thing beautiful, all with a passion that awes me.

Is it 2:00a.m.? Maybe. Is it done with excellence? Always.

I want to be like that.

  •  Growing. Always growing.

I’ve said before that I have trouble envisioning the next 18 months, let alone where I will be in five years. Somewhere in my head, I’m convinced I have all the friends and skills I ever will posses right at the moment. It’s not true – I’ve got years to grow! Mom understands that.

{Joshua Tree National Park}

Inspiring books; skinny jeans; innovative homeschool methods; farro, langostinos, almond butter and salted caramel ice cream; revelations about the nature of God, her children and her husband; vacations; relationships…

She is always changing, always learning, always seeking wisdom.

I want to be like that.

{Beautiful, Peaceful, Home}

I am so proud of where I come from, and the people that surround me (like Bekah, Grandma Bailey and Joe!). But, some of the moments I feel the proudest, are when I realize I’m standing by the stove with my hand on my hip stirring a pot, or bending over a blossoming garden not even noticing the hot sun, or drilling holes and stapling fabric and investing ways to make my life and the lives of those around me more beautiful… just like her.

In short, Viora Beth cares for her home and her family in a way only Proverbs 31 can describe:

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value…

She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family…

She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks…

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy…

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come…

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue…

Your child rises up, and calls you blessed.

{Happy Birthday, lovely Mama}

Labor & Birth {Days}

I. Love. Surprises.

As evidenced by the photo to the left, even when wearing serious cowgirl garb, I can barely contain my excitement (that’s a swing set in the trunk by the way. I loved that thing…Until I realized that wasps built nests in the glider, and then I steered clear of the thing for months). I think the bolo tie made the outfit, don’t you?

Birthday excitement then…

When my Birthday dawned yesterday, it wasn’t much different. Even though I’m 25, not 4, and had to go to work, I was beyond happy to be greeted with THREE b-day surprises, including flowers from the Husband, and chocolate from the Parents. But, what excited me most of all was the prospect of dinner at my favorite restaurant in the universe: Revolver.

…Birthday excitement now

I adore Revolver’s seasonal, local, fresh, amazing food… and their retro-funk decor is a total treat. Chatting with the staff is fun, and the wine list is to die for. In short, this place is a gem, and I LOVE that it is nestled in our little city in Northwest Ohio.

We dined on poutine with duck fat french fries, braised goat and aged cheddar (not so healthy, but oh, so amazing), sweet corn bisque with vanilla mascarpone (the vanilla was intense!), pekin duck breast with roasted sweet corn, spicy pickled cucumbers and avocado, and local pork loin with fennel gratin and watercress. And, I can’t forget, polenta… I rarely DREAM of food, but Chef Mike’s polenta is simple, rich and heavenly.

For dessert, we got both the rich chocolate brownie with homemade raspberry reduction and ice cream, and the summer fruit trifle (served in a glass jar!) with fresh whipped cream and buttery pound cake and a cup of French press coffee (hey, it’s my Birthday…I can’t eat two desserts if I want.)… *sigh*. Perfection.

This day of bliss actually followed a pretty amazing Labor Day weekend. Even though it was packed, we had a ton of fun with friends and family at our annual Labor Day Family Camp (where the Husband and I first hung out eight years ago!), enjoyed great friends at a wedding, and even got to hang out along the Ohio River and take a spin on a Jet Ski!

The wedding was so lovely, and we are ecstatic for our friends Pat & Emily (they’re going on their honeymoon to New Zealand and Australia – how cool is that?). We stayed with our friends Sarah, Andy, Karen, Josh, Liz and Kyle at Sarah’s family river house after the wedding, and were treated to delicious food, a boat ride, sangria, a church service on the lawn and more hospitality than anyone could ask for (Thanks!). It’s a fun group (the guys and Karen all work together) – it felt like a little vacation.

We started and ended our weekend at Labor Day Camp. Also known as “The Best Four Days of the Year”, this camp has been a part of our lives for a long time. Our entire church family attends – a million little animals kids, parents and pastors alike, and we take time to learn, eat and play together. My lovely mama danced, my little sister sprained her ankle but was too busy running around to notice, and my brother got to sit by the fire for hours with his friends. Our stay there (even though we always leave tired, sick of the camp food, totally over the hard wooden benches and in need of a real shower) is always refreshing and delightful.


So, we caught up with friends, listened to great teachings, had amazing times of prayer and ate lots of s’mores… In short, I don’t think we’d miss it for the world (even if that means getting ready for a wedding in a camp bathroom with no air conditioning in 100 degree heat…Thank the Lord for hairspray).

I hope your holiday was just as full of simple joys, and that you get to see friends and eat at your favorite restaurant soon too.

Do it. It’s worth it.