Meatless Fridays, Week 1

Welcome to Week 1 of my “Blogging for Babies, Meatless Friday Recipes”! As promised, I have three recipes for you: one fast, easy, and kid friendly; one allergen friendly; and one “a little bit fancy.” To be honest, though, all this week’s options are super easy. They had to be, as I needed to cook and photograph them all yesterday during naptime!

Before I give you the recipes, I have one exciting piece of news. Last night, a generous friend donated all the money we needed to reach our adoption fundraising goal. Which means from here on out, every dollar left in my Venmo tip jar will go to the Sisters of Life, an amazing community of religious sisters dedicated to upholding the sanctity of life and helping women facing unplanned pregnancies! Thanks to more donations that came in last night, we already have almost $800 there for them! To add to the tip jar, you can scan the Venmo code at the bottom of this page with the Venmo app on your smart phone or just use my Venmo name: @Emily-Chapman-33.

I am so excited to do this for the Sisters and the mothers they serve. Thanks for being a part of this effort with me!

Fast & Easy: Tortellini with Brown Butter, Walnuts, & Sage

Serves: 4; Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cook Time: 10 minutes

This is as fast and easy as it gets—store bought tortellini made ever so slightly fancy with a nutty brown butter sauce. If that is too fancy for your kiddos, just set aside their portion of the tortellini and top theirs with olive oil and shredded parmesan. Toby managed his “grown up” version just fine last night, although he did note, “Dis has stuff on it.”

I served this with roasted broccoli, but any roasted vegetable or even just a salad, would work just as well for a side dish.

Ingredients

  • Fresh or Frozen Tortellini, 20 ounces
  • Walnuts, chopped fine, .25 cup (once chopped)
  • 8 Tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • Fresh Sage, .5 ounce package (about 36 small to medium sized leaves)
  • Garlic, 2 cloves, crushed
  • Parmesan, .25 cup shredded
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper

Instructions

  1. Fill a medium or large pot halfway, with water and a couple pinches of salt; bring to a boil; once boiling, add tortellini and cook according to package directions; drain; return to pot and cover to keep warm;
  2. Meanwhile, roughly chop sage;
  3. In a medium skillet, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat; once butter is melted, add chopped walnuts and continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until the solids have turned a golden brown and the foam has mostly settled (about 3-5 minutes); pour into a bowl and set aside;
  4. In the same medium skillet, melt remaining 6 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat; once the butter has melted, add crushed garlic cloves and chopped sage leaves; continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until the solids have turned a golden brown and the foam has mostly settled (about 3-5 minutes); remove garlic cloves from pan and discard;
  5. To the pot of tortellini, gently stir in both brown butter sauces (one with walnuts and one with sage);
  6. Serve with freshly shredded parmesan and a touch of salt and freshly grated pepper if desired.

Allergen Friendly: Curried Carrot Soup

Serves: 6; Prep Time: 5 minutes; Cook Time: 25 minutes

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free*

This is one of my absolute favorite easy, healthy, delicious soups. It comes together crazy fast, has so much flavor, and tastes almost as good without the cream and croutons, as it does with them, making it a great allergen friendly recipe. If you’re off the gluten, though, I recommend getting your hands on some good, gluten free bread, because the combination of the toasted bread and curried soup is pretty amazing.

When serving this for dinner, I pair it with a hearty salad and extra bread.

Ingredients

  • Baby Carrots, 2 pounds
  • Onion, 1 medium
  • Chicken Broth, 5 cups
  • Butter, 3 Tablespoons
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 Tablespoons + more for bread
  • Curry Powder, 2 Tablespoons
  • Kosher Salt, 1 teaspoon
  • Water, 2 cups
  • Heavy Cream, .5 cup (Optional)
  • French bread (or something similar), 6 slices (Optional)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel and medium chop the onion;
  2. In a large pot, melt butter and oil over medium-high heat; add onion and carrots; sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes;
  3. To the pot of vegetables, add chicken broth, curry powder, and salt; bring to a low boil and cook for 15-18 minutes or until carrots are soft; remove from heat;
  4. While the vegetables cook, brush olive oil onto bread; broil or toast in the oven or a toaster oven, until top is golden brown (2-4 minutes);
  5. Using a hand-held immersion blender, blend soup until smooth (alternately, working in batches, puree soup using a blender or food processor);
  6. With the stovetop on simmer, stir in 2 additional cups of water, and bring soup back to desired temperature; taste for salt and pepper, adjusting if needed;
  7. Ladle soup into individual bowls; drizzle 1-2 Tablespoons of heavy cream into each bowl; place bread in the center of the bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper, and serve.

Just A Little Bit Fancy: Sriracha Salmon Cakes with Sriracha Aioli

Serves: 4-6; Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 16 minutes

This was a last minute, “I have nothing planned for dinner so what can I throw together from scraps in the cupboard” invention that is now a Friday family favorite (we eat meatless on Fridays all year). The Sriracha in the salmon cakes adds flavor, not heat, and Toby eats them happily (sans the Sriracha aioli). I usually make only half this recipe for our family, which means the whole thing comes together, start to finish, in 15 minutes, but for feeding more than 2 people and a toddler, you should allow extra time for cooking.

I usually serve this with a green salad or, if tomatoes are in season, with a Caprese salad (fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, dressed with olive oil and salt).

Ingredients

Salmon Cakes

  • Boneless Canned Salmon, 24 ounces, drained
  • Eggs, 2, beaten
  • Mayonnaise, 4 Tablespoons
  • Worcestershire Sauce, 2 Tablespoons
  • Dijon Mustard, 2 Tablespoons
  • Sriracha Sauce, 1 teaspoon
  • Panko Breadcrumbs, 1 cup
  • Yellow Onion, 1 small
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking

Sriracha Aioli

  • Mayonnaise, 8 teaspoons
  • Sriracha Sauce, 2 teaspoons (adjusting to taste)
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Peel and finely chop onion;
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salmon cake (EXCEPT the olive oil), gently stirring until mixed and all salmon chunks have broken up;
  3. Divide up the salmon mixture and form into 12 patties;
  4. In a separate bowl, mix remaining mayo and Sriracha, drizzle with olive oil and stir until smooth; set aside;
  5. in a large drying pan, heat 2-3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil; when the oil is so hot a drop of water will sizzle in it, add half the salmon cakes; cook 4 minutes per side; transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm (or place in a warm oven); if the pan seems dry, add more oil to it and heat, then add remaining salmon cakes, again cooking 4 minutes per side; remove from pan and combine with other salmon cakes;
  6. Serve salmon cakes with Siracha aioli on the side.

Notes:

  1. If you prefer not to fry these, you can broil them in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown; watch carefully, though, in case they start cooking to fast. If that happens, just lower the rack in the oven a bit.
  2. Make sure you get boneless canned salmon, or you will spend half an hour picking bones out. Aldi used to carry boneless salmon, but lately, the only stuff I’ve found there has teeny bones in it. When I made this recipe to photograph this week, I got the Wild Planet canned salmon from Fresh Market (also available at Whole Foods, Giant Eagle, and other major grocery stores), and it was perfect.

Like What I’m Sharing? Then leave a “tip” in the tip jar. All tips will be donated at the end of Lent to the Sisters of Life.

Blogging for Babies

This blog has sat (mostly) dormant for the past couple of years. As a mom with two little ones, it’s just been easier to share my random thoughts on Instagram. Some things, however, don’t share well on Instagram…like recipes. Which is what I’m going to do here over the next five weeks.

But not just any recipes. And not just for the fun of it.

Over the past three years, Chris and I have been blessed by so many friends and strangers, who have come alongside us and supported us so that we could adopt our beautiful boys (and hopefully, soon, our beautiful girl). Yes, we have worked and saved for these adoptions. We took out a second mortgage on our house, sold our second car, and I spent months writing a cookbook to boot. But even with all that, we couldn’t have brought three children home in three years without the help of strangers. This is a blessing. I will be forever grateful for it. But a part of me also grieves over it.

Right now, there are so many women out there who face difficult pregnancies. They want to keep their babies. But they don’t know how. Unlike me, they don’t have 17,000 followers on social media who they can call upon for help. So, many of those women don’t choose life for their babies. Or, they choose life, but entrust the child to another woman to raise.

Our sons’ birthparents placed their boys with us for reasons that were not financial. No amount of money could enable one set of parents to parent. No amount of money could have persuaded the others to parent. I feel less guilty fundraising for our adoptions knowing that. But still, I grieve. I grieve for every woman facing an unplanned pregnancy alone and scared. I grieve for every mother who thinks she doesn’t have a choice. I grieve for every woman who doesn’t have the amazing community I have.

So, I want to do something about it.

Chris and I are currently $5,500 away from having the money we need to fully fund this adoption. Almost all of that money has come from donations to our cookbook fundraiser. I know, if I kept pushing the cookbook, we would reach that goal in short order. I also know, if I pushed a little more, I could surpass the goal, and have enough money to take some kind of maternity leave.  But, I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’m going to offer you something here: Three Meatless Meal Recipes a week, every week, until the end of Lent. That’s 15 recipes in total. One will be super fast and easy (20-30 minutes start to finish, tops), with kid friendly adaptations. One will be allergy friendly (no gluten, dairy, or nuts). And the third will be just a little bit fancy. One of those three options each week will feature some kind of seafood or fish. The others will be veggie-based. So, lots of options for all families and no repeats.

I’ll post the recipes on Wednesdays, with ingredients, instructions, and photos, BUT I won’t post a 750 word essay before the recipe. No annoying stories. No fluff. I promise. Any tips I have, I’ll put at the end. I have no advertisers on this blog, so I can do that.

Originally, I had thought about putting  together this recipe collection as a download and charging a few dollars for it. But I’d rather just give it to you for free, with an option for you to leave a “tip” in my Venmo jar (@Emily-Chapman-33). If you’ve already contributed generously to our adoption fund, you can just enjoy the recipes as an extra thank you. If the recipes are helpful to you, and you want to help us meet our goal, you can leave any sized tip you like, even just $1.

If my tip jar accumulates more than $5,500, though, I won’t put it towards a maternity leave. I’m working hard now on projects my clients need in April and May, so that I can take time off when we’re in California and then have a lighter schedule for 5-6 weeks after that. I don’t need anything more. Most women in the United States, especially moms facing crisis pregnancies, get no paid maternity leave. I can manage in solidarity with them.

Instead, any money raised over $5500 will go to the Sisters of Life, an amazing community of religious sisters who help women in crisis pregnancies choose life for the babies and then raise those babies themselves. They also provide loving support to post-abortive women.  These women are doing the work in cities across America so that no woman has to choose abortion or adoption simply for financial reasons. They are some of the most lovely, joyful, generous women you will ever meet, and helping them in their mission, is a way to directly help vulnerable women who want to be mothers to their babies but can’t without help.

So, that’s my plan. I hope you want to be a part of it. At the very least, I hope these Lenten Friday recipes bless you and your family. Because you certainly have blessed me and mine.

See you tomorrow!  

Around the Catholic Table

One year ago, I launched my e-cookbook, Around the Catholic Table: 77 Recipes for Easy Hospitality. Our hope was that it would help us raise enough money to adopt a second child debt-free. By God’s grace, it did. And seven months after our fundraiser went live, we adopted a beautiful baby boy: Becket Christopher Martin Chapman.

After Becket’s birth, we spent three weeks with him in a NICU in Dallas. We arrived home, exhausted, but over the moon in love with our little man. We thought that maybe someday we would adopt again, but with a two-year-old and newborn preemie, we also knew that any future adoptions would have to wait. Our hands were full and our bank account was empty.

Not six days later, though, my husband walked into the kitchen with some news. Our first son Toby’s birthparents were expecting again. They could not and would not parent. Would we?

Continue Reading…

Around the Catholic Table Cookbook

It’s been a long time friends. But, I’ve been busy! There have been books and Endow studies and a whole lot of Instagram posts, which are faster and easier to write than blog posts when you only have one free hand and a ginormous toddler sleeping on you. One day, when I have both hands back, I hope to return to writing more in this little corner of the Internet. But, I’m kind of hoping that will be a while!  We’re in the process of trying for a second adoption—hopefully a more peaceful process than last time around, but that’s up to God. I did want to pop on here, though, and let my non-Instagram/Facebook followers know about my newest project, an e-cookbook and essay collection, called Around the Catholic Table: 77 Recipes for Easy Hospitality and Everyday Dinners, which I wrote for a very special cause.

Learn More…

Learn More

Seven Things I Love About Our Kitchen

In my lifetime, I have cooked in countless kitchens—both my own and others’—and through it all, I kept a running inventory of design features I liked and didn’t like. So, when we moved into this house in 2016, I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted. I had do to a bit of tweaking to deal with our space and budget, but overall the kitchen you see now is the kitchen I saw in my head the first time we looked at the house.

Over the past year, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about various choices I made from people wanting to know if they should make them in their own kitchens. Not being able to see the kitchens or know how the questioners use their kitchens, the only thing I can really do is say why I chose something and if we’re happy with it.

Here are my answers to the features I get asked about most often.

Continue reading

8 Ways to Make Your Kitchen Work Better Today—No Renovations Required

If yesterday’s post about kitchen renovations left you feeling like you’ll be stuck with the same dysfunctional kitchen forever and ever and ever, amen…today’s post is for you.

The truth is, you don’t have to knock down walls and buy new cabinets to make your kitchen more functional. You might need to do that to make it prettier, but pretty is a nice secondary. The most important thing about a kitchen is that it works. And almost any kitchen can be made to work better. Not necessarily well…but better.

That’s a lesson I’ve learned in every home I’ve lived in as an adult, none of which has boasted anything close to a dream kitchen from the start. This Hawthorne House Renovation is the first time a real, genuine kitchen renovation has been in the cards for me, so for 20 years before that, my cooking, hosting, large-crowd loving self had to figure out how to make the best of what had been handed to me. And what had been handed was never good.

Here’s what I learned.

Continue reading

7 Questions to Ask Before You Renovate Your Kitchen

Are you thinking about a kitchen renovation? Do you have visions of subway tile and quartz countertops dancing in your head? Or are you still steeling your nerves at the thought of kitchen upgrades before you try to sell your house? Before you start calling contractors, stop, make yourself some coffee, and ask yourself the following questions.

(Really. Make some coffee. This is going to take a while. I’ve written book chapters shorter than this blog post.)

Okay. Ready? Here we go.

1.) How long will I be in this house?

Why? Because how you answer this question helps you determine three things: Your budget. Your style choices. The quality of materials used.

If you’re only looking at staying in your house for a few more months or few more years, your kitchen renovation is really about re-sale. Which means you can keep your budget small, limiting it to essential visual upgrades. It also means you can paint your cabinets that trendy dark blue or choose that floor tile that’s all over Pinterest; you won’t be around in five years, when all those choices look oh so 2019. They’ll look good now, which is all that matters. You also don’t have to invest in furniture-grade cabinetry…or even mid-grade cabinetry; if doors are falling off their hinges in 10 years and laminate finishes are peeling off, you’re not the one who will have to deal with it.

If, however, you plan to be in your house for another decade (or two or three), you have a vested interest in a renovation that lasts (because, trust me, you don’t want to do this again for a long, long time). You also have a vested interest in a renovation that doesn’t look dated five years down the line (unless, of course, you can afford to shell out big bucks every time backsplash trends change). The longer you’re going to be in your house, the more important it is to invest in quality materials that last and classic design choices that work with the rest of your house. If you can’t afford to do that now (or if a house full of destructive littles makes you leery of having nice things), it’s better to either live with what you have until you can afford it/the time is right OR make a few cheap upgrades now and save the major work for later.

Continue reading

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About My Kitchen…

…Is coming up on the blog (and Instagram) this week. I know: It’s not the most Lenten-themed series imaginable. Regardless, I’m talking about kitchens this week because, well, I want to talk about kitchens. I like kitchens. I like spending time in kitchens. I like looking at kitchens. And I like what kitchens make possible: delicious food and happy evenings enjoying that delicious food with people I love.

Also, after creating this kitchen…

           …where this duplex dining room…

…and duplex bathroom used to be…

 …I have some thoughts to share on the whole topic of kitchen renovations. Fancy that.

Creating our kitchen was a stressful, grueling, dirty, exhausting, expensive, and yet, still, somehow, totally fun experience. I learned so much during the year—yes, year—that we worked on it, and if all I learned through that process can save you some stress when you get around to renovating (or even just reorganizing) your own kitchen, that will make all the headaches it gave me a little more worth it.

Continue reading

Fried Gnocchi Aglio e Olio

The calendar tells me that Lent starts tomorrow. Which is odd because I’m pretty sure it started almost three weeks ago here, when the Black Death first descended on our household. We’ve been battling one health issue after another ever since then, including issues I won’t mention on the same page with food. Regardless, I’m all tuckered out and having a hard time settling on my various Lenten penances. Isn’t sleeping only a few hours a night penance enough?

All this is to say that while tomorrow I might come up with something eloquent to say about fasting, today I’ve got nothing. Except for a recipe that you can cook on days of fasting and abstinence.

Continue reading

The Gift of the Body

This is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. On Instagram, I’ve been talking about how, after a six-year struggle with anorexia, the Eucharist transformed my understanding of food (I’m also giving away five copies of The Catholic Table over there this week). But it wasn’t just the Eucharist that helped me. Just as the Eucharist transformed my understanding of food, the theology of the body transformed my understanding of my body.

For most of the first 25 years of my life I equated my body’s value with a number on the scale. I thought it’s worth could be measured and weighed. It was a perpetual problem for me, something I needed to control.

Then, when I was 25, I read Pope St. John Paul II’s theology of the body. It taught me that my body wasn’t a problem to be controlled; it was a gift to be cared for. It was me—as much a part of who I was as my soul and as much a gift as my soul.

Continue reading