Jen and Company

Entries from November 2012

Thoughts on moving

November 18, 2012 · 3 Comments

We have been in our new home for 16 days and we LOVE it. Although we are far from settled and we haven’t figured out our new routines, it is home. I thought I’d share some of my random thoughts (since I don’t know how to be anything but random) about moving, renting our former place and the transition to condo living.

  • Moving is a lot of work. Hiring movers was the best decision we made and I will never go back. Worth every penny.
  • When we put our house on the market more than a year ago, we purged. We pitched, donated and gave away so much stuff. When we were finally ready to move, we got rid of a lot more. Now that we are in the new place, we got rid of even more things! Less is more people. You don’t NEED that candle holder you loved 8 years ago that’s been in your closet for the last 5. Not sure? Invite your 17-year old niece over for the weekend. She’ll tell you what’s what.
  • We found renters for our old place using a rental company. Easy peasy. At least for me – Brette thankfully handled all of that. He also was smart enough to have them manage the property going forward. It’s a huge relief already.
  • Living in a condo has its quirks. we can hear people walking in the hall above us. I’m used to it now but the first night freaked me out.
  • Everyone is concerned about the dog. Lily was confused at first, but really is loving life. She gets to go to a dog park three times a day. Fetch. Sniffing other dogs. Wrestling with Colby the Golden Retriever. This is her life and she is thrilled.
  • 5:15 at the dog park is doggy happy hour. The place is packed! I think someone should bring a portable bar out for the owners. And a coffee cart at 7:15. And a night cap at 9. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
  • My new kitchen is big and spacious, but lacks storage space. Brette will be building an island (yay!) and we bought this to help with storage. It fits the industrial look of our space.

  • Although we moved into a condo, it is more space than we had in our house (it was just a little guy!). It’s big and open compared to our small little rooms. It still seems a big foreign and we’re just not sure what to even do with it.
  • Interior design and arranging furniture are not strong suits of mine. If anyone is interested in coming over to give me advice, I’ll happily hand you a beer or fill your wine glass.

That is it for now. Even though our new place has a long way to go before it seems “ready”, we’re open for visitors at any time.  Cheers!


Categories: food for thought · Jen said

With This Tortilla Soup, It’s All About the Fixins

November 12, 2012 · Leave a Comment

So I’m sort of new to this group, but luckily they still added me to the invite when Jen put together a gathering for the ladies, and me. The theme, as Jen is wont to do, was soup. Being the lone male, and knowing these ladies are in favor of gourmet food, I knew I couldn’t go the easy route by bringing Campbell’s tomato.

I’ve been a big fan of fajita soup since my spring break trip to Mazatlan my sophomore year of college. Don’t ask me how, but my buddies and I met this widower who was basically retired in Mazatlan. We’d spend happy hour sharing buckets of Corona’s before we did what sophomore’s in college do in Mazatlan. At the end of the week she wanted to show us a different side of Mazatlan so she took us to her favorite restaurant, and they made some awesome tortilla soup. But I had never tried making it on my own.

I chose this recipe from I was going vegetarian since Meghan was going to be there and I thought this soup suited it well. I actually just doubled it and planned to make one batch veggie, and one with chicken. Instead, Meghan stood us up and decided to look at leaves, and we all ate chicken tortilla soup.

Here are the ingredients:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 cups canned vegetable broth
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Spray large nonstick saucepan with vegetable oil spray. Add onion and garlic; cover and cook over medium-low heat until almost tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cumin and chili powder. Add broth and 2 tablespoons cilantro; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 15 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

I did this part first because I needed to do it a couple days ahead. That worked really well and here’s what it looked like:

Tortilla Soup Base

After cutting onions, garlic and cilantro, my hands had a very unique smell

  • 4 6-inch-diameter corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips (don’t use these unless you fry them as all the reviews said all they do is get soggy and gross)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 2/3 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chili
Add tortillas (I didn’t use these), tomatoes, beans, zucchini and jalapeño to soup. Cover; simmer until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
This last part I did at Jen’s house after reheating the broth. I also added chicken as I mentioned above. For that, I took two chicken breasts, threw them in the crockpot (slow cooker) with about a cup of salsa and some water and let them sit over night. In the morning they were perfect for shredding and I kept the salsa in to add some additional flavor.
The skinny:
The soup was OK, but it needed help. Even though I left the seeds in the peppers for additional spice, and added salsa chicken, it was still a bit bland. Luckily, I had brought cheese, sour cream and fresh avocado, in addition to fresh jalapeño slices. That made it better. Without all that, I wouldn’t make it again. With it, I was a pretty big fan. For the leftovers I also added tortilla strips (which I left in the bag at Jen’s house, oops). Here’s what it looked like as leftovers with all the goodness sitting on top:
Tortilla soup ready for eating

Categories: cooking · recipes · Scott said · Uncategorized

Giving food

November 7, 2012 · 3 Comments

Our gorgeous son was born on Sunday, October 7. Since then, we have been busy adoring our little pickle and learning the ways of our new normal. I feel incredibly lucky because my hubby has been at home, bonding and helping with everything. We have been having a great time with tons of laughs over pee fountains at diaper changes and spit-ups at feedings.
Parents always told me that if someone offered help, to take it without hesitation. This is, perhaps, the best advice ever and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to food because – holy cow – where does the time go when a newborn is in the house? That says a lot coming from a type A person like myself.
I love to cook and I love to eat. Historically, I wake-up hungry. Now, I eat when I can which has meant, on some days, that food does not pass my lips until some time in the afternoon. And, that is with two if us at work here!
We have literally survived because great friends have brought us food, prepared and ready to eat. The gift of food has been AMAZING!
Maybe I have a romantic idea of how things “used to be” but I feel like friends and neighbors used to give the gift of food more often. Feeling under the weather? How about some soup? Extra busy? Wouldn’t a prepared meal be nice?
If you know someone who is going to need an extra hand for a while, I encourage you to give the gift of food. Websites like Food Tidings can be especially helpful in recruiting others in the cause.
And folks, don’t stress about it being homemade or some crazy masterpiece. Seriously, takeout and one-dish meals are a godsend. I am not stretching the truth when I say that we’d be happy if you ordered a pizza and had it delivered to our house because even that saves us time and steps.
I guarantee that the recipients will be happy with every gift. If it sounds good, bring it.
Buen provecho!

Categories: Willa said

On the move!

November 6, 2012 · 1 Comment

A few days ago:




Present day:



Have you guessed what we are up to?

After quite a long process, Brette and I have moved to downtown Minneapolis into a loft/condo that we are completely in love with.

When our wifi is hooked up and I can make my way out of boxes, I’ll be sharing more about what I’ve learned in this process.

So far, the family is adjusting well, dog included.


Categories: Jen said

csa friday #13

November 2, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Will I ever get bored with the CSA? Doubtful. Boxes of beautiful produce area always welcome in my home.

This weeks devliery did not dissapoint. Surprised?

Here’s what the fridge looked like after:

And the countertop:

The yellowy tomato looking things are persimmons. My first one!

The Details:


  • Portugese Kale – This is large and leafy. I don’t think I’ve had it before. Apparently the stalks are edible too if you peel them.
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes – I haven’t used my sweet potatoes from the last pick-up. I think I feel a pot of soup coming on.
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Red Onion
  • Red Russian Garlic
  • Carrots 
  • Broccoli
  • Beauty Heart Radish
  • Sugar Dumpling Squash
  • Romanesco – more dinosaur looking cauliflower!
  • Salad Mix


  • Thomcord Grapes – a cross between a Thompson Green Grape and the Concord Grape
  • Valencia Oranges – I hope these stop the cold I feel coming on!
  • Fuji Apples
  • Emerald Beaut Plums
  • Persimmons – I have never had one of these. So curious. It looks like an orange tomato.
  • Kiwi – How do you eat a kiwi? Brette eats the whole thing – skin and all – claiming it’s too much work to peel such a small fruit. I tend to peel and slice.
  • Haas Avocados – I will never get sick of a big avocado supply.
  • Warren Pears 
What produce is showing up in your home this week?

Categories: csa · Jen said