An "All About Food" Post

Loveys, here's the thing about our family, I don't like to make a lot of desserts during the week. Ashtyn is a sugar addict and would live on dessert if I let her, Linc doesn't care about sweets (unless it's Candy Corn, like mother like son) and only gets truly excited about oatmeal. Lily is like Ashtyn and leans toward sweets. Jeff and I are all about food everything--but we're old enough to understand moderation. We have sweets during the week, but it's usually in the form of something simple and not too high calorie. One ice cream bar or maybe a low-fat cookie. (Or, you know, a sad wafer cookie. Or a bowl of Froot Loops if you're desperate.)

All bets are off on the weekends, loveys. So this weekend, I made a pumpkin bread pudding in the crockpot. Talk about fallish! Warm bread pudding with ice cream and caramel sauce. Loveys, I highly recommend it. I think it could just as easily be made in the oven but I haven't tried it yet. Bread pudding is one Jeff's all-time favorite desserts. He loves his mother's bread pudding best, I think (I do, too, for that matter), but he'll settle for mine. :) And to me, it's such a comforting, fallish kind of treat. If you've made bread pudding, you know the drill, bread cubes and eggs and vanilla and cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger. The main change I saw with pumpkin bread pudding was to mix the eggs with a cup of half and half and a cup of canned pumpkin (and sprinkle in pecans). Lincoln was home with me while I made it and I let him help. He kept wanting to check on the "cake" later. It was so cute to see him so invested in dessert since he'd helped make it. When I asked him what he thought when we finally tasted it, I got a thumbs up, which is high praise from that boy.

I'm going to share another food recommendation for fall, loveys. Carne asada. YUM.

So my grandma had a Mexican restaurant for years and years, and when I was a little girl, we'd drive to the valley and go eat at Vela's and it was always perfect. I normally ate cheese enchiladas three times a day (that is not an exaggeration) but sometimes my cousin Jason would have carne asada, and just like the enchiladas, it was delicious. Jason and I are the same age and were very often playmates when we all went to Grandma's house. We don't get to see each other often these days since I'm in Colorado and he's in Texas, but he's one of my favorites forever and I love him.

So, back in the day, we'd be eating cheese enchiladas and carne asada (and chorizo con huevos and pappas and tamales) and loving basically every minute of it. Staples of a wonderful childhood: eating good food at Grandma's house (or Grandma's restaurant).

So, it occurred to me this year that I'm thirty-seven years old and had not yet ever made carne asada. For real, this seemed unacceptable. I scoured the Internet for recipes and found one that turned out to be amazing. To be clear, I've never been to a Mexican restaurant (especially down south) that served carne asada with sweet potatoes. But, loveys, there's nothing wrong with a little adventure in our lives. So this recipe originated at the (she's got some amazing recipes), and I tweaked it a bit to make a little more Tex-Mex. And it's warm and a little spicy and comforting and goes perfect with fall. Try it!

I started with beef tips. Put some flour and salt and pepper on a plate and coat the beef tips, then heat up some oil in a pan and brown them. Some onion and green pepper only add more flavor. Go crazy. Once the beef tips are nice and browned, put them (and the onion and green pepper) in a crock pot. Add in some seasonings like cumin, just a little chili powder, some garlic, pepper--that sort of thing. Now pour in a can of beef broth. I recommend squeezing in about half a lemon's worth of juice (but if you've only got bottled juice, use that, maybe a tablespoon). Now, add in a tablespoon of tomato paste. Let it cook for eight hours on low or five or six hours on high. (If the sauce is thin after awhile, add in maybe a tablespoon of flour.) Here's where it gets even more yummy: I like to make tacos using corn tortillas (the Jeffster tends to be super stubborn and insists on flour tortillas with everything. Marriage is about compromise, lovey). Tacos with carne asada and chopped salad and rice are delicious. Really. We love it at our house. But, if you want to get even crazier, bake sweet potatoes in the oven beforehand. (Tip* oven at 425 and sweet potatoes right on the rack for 45 minutes.) Once you've got baked sweet potatoes, mix in a little butter and cinnamon (because why not, lovey?). Top the sweet potatoes with the carne asada and dig in.

Good times.

It's fall, you know. Time for all kinds of delicious foods. What do you like to cook during fall, loveys? I met a friend for coffee this week, and I ordered a gingerbread latte. Really, those are teeny little drops of happiness in our chaotic lives. And I'm a firm believer in seizing happiness wherever we can find it. And really, coffee always makes me happy. I've been knee-deep in editing this Western novel, listening to Eric Church sing, sipping on coffee, and wanting to buy a pair of cowboy boots.

We count our blessings, lovey. Some days are harder than others. We need encouragement and hope. We need a warm, delicious meal that comforts us. Like being a little girl, sitting in a vinyl booth, eating enchiladas for the third time that day and being absolutely happy. Moments to love. Like my son sitting at the kitchen island, a bowl of bread pudding in front of him as he gives me a thumbs up. One of my favorite things is cooking for my family, loveys. It's not every day. We have plenty of frozen-pizza nights at our house and we roll with it. But sometimes, for them and for me, I just want to make a mess and cook something we'll savor. Good food creates good memories.

Today after church I snapped a few pictures of my kiddos. It's crazy to me how fast they're growing. The weather was perfect and I'm not sure how long it will last. We've had so many Halloweens over here where all the kids are bundled in jackets. We'll see. It's my favorite kind of Sunday night. Easy. Grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for dinner. A Halloween special on TV for the kids. Maybe a glass of wine and a little Poldark later on. :)

Happy fall, loveys.

*Ingredients for carne asada!
-beef tips
-1 can of beef broth
-1 lemon (not a deal-breaker)
-onion and green pepper
-spices and flour
-1 tbs tomato paste (use a little tomato sauce if that's all you've got)

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