Slow Cooker Pot Roast

The boys have started swimming lessons again.  Mondays and Wednesdays are a sprint from 3:15 until 8:00 when Chase goes to bed.  Here’s the schedule:

3:15 pm – Pick up the boys

3:30 pm – We need to be in the car on our way to Swimming lessons.

3:31 pm – Give the boys snacks to eat on the way to swimming lessons.

3:46 pm – Chase lets me know that he needs to pee.

3:54 pm – Arrive at swimming lessons and make mad dash to put on Andrew’s swim diaper and suit all while getting Chase put on his suit after he pees everywhere but IN THE TOILET.  Pull out LEGO book for Chase to read while Drew has his lesson.

4:00 pm – Step in pool with Andrew and sing “Wheels on the Bus.” Have a delightful time and inhale enough chlorine fumes to kill any and all bacteria this side of the Mississippi.

4:30 pm – Get out of pool, wrap Drew in a towel, and tell Chase to follow all instructions and not try to negotiate every request from his instructor.

4:33 pm – Wrestle with Andrew as I try to keep my modesty in my swimsuit and get him dressed.

5:00 pm – Get the wrap up from the swim instructor and keep Andrew from jumping in the pool with his clothes on.

5:05 pm – Tell Chase for the third time to get dressed so that we can go home to and eat dinner.

5:26 pm – Arrive home, Chase screams: “I want out first!” Andrew screams: “I want out first!”  I unload the car, let Sara out and try to keep the boys from running into the middle of the street.

5:29 pm – Get dinner started for the boys.

5:45 pm – Force the boys to sit down and eat.  Threaten them that they will never see a popsicle again if they don’t cooperate.

6:00 pm -Let the boys know that they have 5 minutes to finish their dinner and then go take a bath.  They both scream NO!!!!!

6:05 pm – Pick up Drew and take him to the bathroom to start the bath as he kicks, screams and tries to bite me.  Fill the tub and wrestle with each boy until their clothes are removed and they are crying.  Place boys in tub and wash off the layer of chlorine from their bodies.

6:15 pm – Remove each boy from bath, dry them off, slather them with lotion and ask Chase (the 1st of 3 times) to put on his pajamas. Chase bends over and shows me his anus.  Take Drew to his room and do the bedtime routine.

6:40 pm – Finish Doe a Deer for the 3rd round and walk out the door.

6:41 pm – Continue with making dinner for Ryan and me (oh, and Chase’s 2nd dinner), and take a breath.

7:10 pm – Finish dinner and sit down to eat with Ryan.  “How was your day honey?”

7:30 pm – One of us gets the bedtime process started for Chase.

8:03 pm – Parent on Chase duty walks out of room after making sure Chase is tucked into his bed so he doesn’t fall out in the middle of the night.

As you can see, these days are a logistical challenge.  I end up making two meals and I’m sick of it.  So, I’m on a mission to search for, make and serve great meals, preferably in the slow cooker so that my meals are ready when we walk in the door from swimming lessons.

As a Midwesterner, I cannot deny my love for meat a potatoes.  The boys are great about eating most of which I put in front of them and my only rule is that you have to take a bite before you say you don’t like it.  They happened to love this recipes

This one is another Pinterest test: Slow Cooker Pot Roast

My Notes on the recipe:

  1. I made some changes for simplification.  If you’d like to refer to the original recipe, the link is above.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast


  • 1 chuck roast (mine was 3 pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into large chunks (optional)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoons corn starch or arrow root
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary


Combine together last seven ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

Coat both sides of meat with olive oil. Sprinkle on a third of the seasoning mix onto each side.

Sear both sides of the meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer roast to slow cooker.

Place the vegetables in a large bowl. Drizzle on a little olive oil to coat vegetables. Sprinkle on the remaining seasoning mix.

Transfer the vegetables to the top of the roast in the slow cooker. Pour in the beef broth. Cover with lid.

Cook on low for 9 hours or on high for 6 hours.

Using a turkey baster, retrieve most of the cooking juices from the slow cooker. Transfer juices to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat on the stovetop. Whisk together the cornstarch with a little water. Blend into the pan juices while whisking. Bring back to a simmer until thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Transfer the roast and vegetables to a large platter. Ladle the gravy over. Serve immediately.


Meatless Monday: Pumpkin Spice Muffins


This really is a great cookbook.

Here’s your weekly installment of all things pumpkin!  I’ve been baking a lot from the Gluten Free cookbook, “Babycakes” by Erin McKenna.  Since Chase’s school is vegetarian and doesn’t allow eggs or refined sugar, it is a challenge to make acceptable and nutritious snacks each day.

Here’s a good one.  I added a couple of things to pump up the flavor and nutrition but the basic recipe is quite tasty and not too sweet.  Once they cool, freeze them.  You can pop them into lunches and they’ll thaw by the time snack time or lunch time comes around.

Pumpkin-Spice Muffins


2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp ground ginger


They don’t rise a lot, they just smooth out. Like my new pans?

1/2 cup coconut oil, plus more for the pans

2/3 cup agave nectar

2/3 cup rice milk

2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, don’t stress about it)

1/2 cup hot water

(my additions: 3 Tbsp ground flax meal, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp all spice)


1. Preheat oven to 325.  Use coconut oil on the muffin pans.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, cinnamon, ginger, (and my additions if you use them).  Add the coconut oil agave nectar, rice milk and vanilla.  Stir until the batter is smooth and thick.  Using a plastic spatula fold in the pumpkin and hot water until both are evenly distributed throughout the batter.

3. Fill muffin pans 2/3 of the way full.  For full size muffins bake for 22 minutes.  For mini muffins bake for 17

Check out these yummy little gems

Check out these yummy little gems

minutes.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing to cool completely on a rack.  This recipe makes 48 mini muffins.



Worry Wort

I know that as a parent I will always worry about my kids.  But I wonder, will I always have the crazy and irrational catastrophic scenarios play in my

My imagined scenarios are just as outlandish as J.D.'s.

My imagined scenarios are just as outlandish as J.D.’s.

head like Zach Braff’s character did in “Scrubs?”  I know that I teeter on the edge of insanity each day.  I’m a mom.  But will I continue to be this way once my boys are no longer in danger of falling out of bed at night?

All four of us have been sick over the last couple of weeks.  Thank goodness I was the only one who woke up one Saturday with a headache, sore throat, chills, sore hips and knees and large amounts of phlegm being created by my sinuses.  But both boys have had head colds that then turned into chest colds.  Over the weekend, I thought I was out of the woods.  The boys had been fever free for several days and when I picked up Andrew yesterday he was really warm.  YAY!  Another fever.  I’m terrified that he has the enterovirus D-68.  Last night I was convinced that he was going to die in his sleep.

Each time we left Chase and or Andrew with a new caregiver, I would have these flashes of horrible thoughts enter my mind: (Insert Name Here) is going to pack up Chase/Andrew and drive to the border and never come back. Or, worse, we come home from whatever took us out in the first place and the house is engulfed in flames and everyone is trapped inside.  Sick? I know.  This is what I think about!  Other people have these irrational fears right?  We’ve never had any issues with any of our caregivers and yet these thoughts creep into my mind.

After becoming a parent I now know what my mom felt like the night that I went out with a friend I met in a Summer class at Indiana University.  I took a course between my Sophomore and Junior years of high school.  Being the very mature 16 year old student I was, I made friends with the college kids and got myself invited to a party.  We went to several and I completely ignored my curfew and when I got home, my mother was sitting in the kitchen, furious.  She was probably terrified.  I now get it.  I’m sorry Mom.  Luckily, I wasn’t drunk, I probably had a couple of Coor’s Lights, which to a seasoned boarding school drinker like me, was nothing.

I know that for a short period of time before they become teenagers, I will not have to worry about drunk driving or Chase and Andrew sneaking out, so that helps.  But, until then, I will continue to conjure outlandish and improbable situations in my head.


Meatless Monday: Pumpkin Pancakes

It is Pumpkin Mania in my house right now.  I always roast my own pumpkins for Thanksgiving but this year I got things going a little early.  Why not add a little more pumpkin to my life?  Pancakes, ravioli, empanadas, muffins are all on my agenda, as well as my pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  I might even do a Pumpkin Tiramisu…CRAZY!  I may have to roast two more pumpkins, which is really easy.  The recipe is below.

Roasted Pumpkins


2 “sugar” pumpkins


1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Cut each pumpkin in half and place cut side down on a jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet).

3. Roast for an hour.  Remove from oven and cool before handling.

4. Scoop out seeds and discard.  Scoop out flesh and puree.

Note: If you know ahead of time which recipes you will use, portion out the puree into those measurements and freeze until you are ready to use it.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes are oh so delicious!

Pumpkin Pancakes are oh so delicious!

Makes 21 1/3 cup pancakes

Note: bring your milk and egg to room temperature. This prevents the coconut oil from hardening when you mix the wet team together.

Add in options: crumbled bacon, chopped pecans, chocolate chips, or coconut


1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg (or 1 Tbsp flax meal with 3 Tbsp H2O)
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg


  1. In a large bowl, mix the “wet team” together.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the “dry team” together.
  3. Add the dry team to the wet team and mix until smooth.
  4. Heat a griddle or large pan and add 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake. Flip once after edges start to brown. Move to rack to cool and complete the cooking process in batches.


Another New Beginning

The guilt has already set in and “it” hasn’t even happened.  Today, Andrew

This block of time will help me feel a little more in control:organized.

This block of time will help me feel a little more in control:organized.

will start full days (8:15 am – 3:00 pm) at his school.  So, instead of driving to and from school 3 times, I’ll cut it down to two times.  It will offer me essentially seven uninterrupted hours each day.  From an organizational standpoint, it will be golden.  I will be able to workout and go to the store in addition to have some computer time without having to hop in the car to go get Drew and then do the nap routine and then get started with the ever-long, ever-expanding list of things I need and/or want to do.  Inevitably, the things I want to do get pushed farther and farther down the list to make room for the daily must-do list.

BUT, I already feel guilty about it.  Chase didn’t start full days until he was almost three!  I feel like I am pushing Andrew out the door and that he is going to feel like he is abandoned.  Nevermind the fact that when I do pick him up, he doesn’t want to leave.  He usually looks up from what he’s doing , says: “Hi Mommy!” and goes back to his activity.  And, I have him full time Friday through Monday.  Plus, we have music class on Monday mornings and swim class on Mondays and Wednesdays.  We get quite a bit of one on one time.  It’s not like I’m sending him to boarding school.  Although, sometimes that doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

I know that with this new schedule, I will feel more accomplished and put together because I will be taking advantage of the most productive time of the day for me: 10am-1pm.  It has always been the most creative, focused and productive block of time during my day.  I have a list of things that I’m going to do:

– find a clock fixer

– use Photoshop to watermark pictures for my brother’s website

– write thank you notes from Andrew’s birthday

– start on a list of things to do prior to entering law school:

1. Master bluebooking

2. Familiarize myself with legal writing

3.  Familiarize myself with legal research

4.  Read cases

5.  Brief cases

6.  Outline Cases

7.  Oh, and Study for the LSAT

-organize and file all of our photos

The list goes on and on and on.  There is this weight of unfinished business on my shoulders.  I feel like this is my chance to really get my shite together.  Over the last couple of months I feel like the cliche of taking one step forward and two steps back.  As soon as I feel like I can sit down and get some stuff done, I get sick or the boys get sick and I lose sleep and when Drew is down for a nap, I need to take a nap just to get through the rest of the day.

The list of things I have to do is overwhelming.

The list of things I have to do is overwhelming.

I know he’ll do well, I just can’t help but feel guilty.  Many of my other friends still have their older kiddos doing half days of school.  Their little ones haven’t been out of their care.  I know I can’t compare my reality with theirs but its hard not to judge myself and what I feel is my inability to handle all of the things that come along with parenthood.

We are blessed with the ability to have help, and send the boys to a wonderful school.  In that regard I am very comfortable with the fact that by doing this, I will be a better mom.  I will be more present when I am with Chase and Andrew.  Isn’t that what we all want?


Meatless Monday: Broccolini, Mushroom and Sesame Salad

Quick and healthy?  Check.  This recipe will blow you away at how simple it and TASTY it is.  From the October 2014 issue of Food and Wine, this

Yes, it is that easy.  Judy Joo for Food and Wine.  Photo by Christina Holmes.

Yes, it is that easy. Judy Joo for Food and Wine. Photo by Christina Holmes.

recipe is so good!!!  In the magazine it is paired with grilled Hanger Steak with Kimchi-Apple Slaw, which is amazing and super fast.  Don’t be intimidated by Kimchi.  Kimchi is pickled cabbage with chilis.  It is relatively easy to find.  Most international markets carry it.

Broccolini, Mushroom and Sesame Salad


12 oz broccolini

16 oz button mushrooms, sliced

2Tbsp crushed red pepper

2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 garlic clove, minced

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil

1 1/2 Tbsp Soy Sauce

Salt and Pepper to taste (Push It)


1.  Blanch broccolini until bright green, about 2 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a large bowl with sliced mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients.  Toss all together and serve.


Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash with Kale


Picture from Pioneer Woman

I love the Pioneer Woman.  My friend Molly introduced me to her, her blog and well of course you know she has a show!  I wish I had the time to do all of the amazing things she does.  She makes some amazing food and this recipe is no exception.  You can find this and all of her recipes on her website.  I love spaghetti squash but I don’t have a lot of experience with it and I always ask myself: “what can I do with spaghetti squash?”  This recipe is the answer to my question and right up my alley.



  • 1 whole Spaghetti Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 2 bunches Kale, Stalks Removed And Torn Into Pieces
  • 1/2 whole Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a sharp knife, VERY CAREFULLY cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. (Stick the knife into the center of the squash, then cut down. Again—be careful!) Scoop out the seeds and pulp in the center and discard. Place the squash, cut side up, on a large baking sheet. Rub a little olive oil over the cut surface, then place the pan in the oven for 1 hour or until a fork is easily inserted into the squash.
  3. While the squash is cooking, saute the kale: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until starting to turn color. Throw in the kale, sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and stir to saute until the onions are golden about the kale is partly cooked, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. When the squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape the stringy squash out of the shell. Add the squash to a bowl. Mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil with the balsamic vinegar. Drizzle it over the squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add the chili powder. Toss to combine.
  5. Add the squash to individual bowls, then top with a good amount of sauteed kale. You will have squash left over!

(Or, you can toss all the kale and half the squash together.)



Kids’ Kitchen: Chicken and Cannellini Chili

I know…no Meatless Monday this week.  I get thrown off by travel and didn’t have time on the plane home to write a post.  But, in an effort to increase the amount of vegetables the boys eat, I found this recipe that I plan on freezing into 2 serving portions so that I can defrost it for the boys.  It is quite tasty.  It has flavor but is not “spicy.”  I did omit the jalepenos and just left them as a topping.  You can also shred some carrots and toss those in.  I found this on the California Olive Ranch website.  Let me know how your kids like it.

Chicken and Cannellini Bean Chili

Chicken and Cannellini Chili from Muir Glen Organic

Chicken and Cannellini Chili from Muir Glen Organic


  • 2 lb chicken thighs, skin and bones removed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons (or to taste) gray salt
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 2 teaspoons smoked or regular paprika
  • 1/2 cup masa harina or all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed to cook chicken and for garnish
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 green jalapeño chiles (with seeds), diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 can (28 oz) Muir Glen® organic diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (19 oz) cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
  • 3 zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
  • 6 medium scallions, sliced (about 1/3 cup), if desired


1. Place chicken in large bowl. Season liberally with pepper and salt. Toss with fennel seed and paprika. Sprinkle masa harina over chicken; toss to coat.
2. Heat cast-iron pot or 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup olive oil; when it begins to smoke, add chicken, leaving excess masa harina in bowl. Spread chicken evenly so it covers bottom of pot in single layer. (Chicken may need to be cooked in batches to do this, adding more olive oil as necessary.)
3. Cook chicken about 5 minutes on each side, turning with tongs, until browned. Remove from pot with slotted spoon to a plate, leaving drippings in pot.
4. Reduce heat to medium; add a little more olive oil, the red onions and garlic to pot. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened. Stir in jalapeño chiles; cook about 2 minutes or until softened. Stir in chili powder. Stir in tomatoes. Heat to a simmer over medium heat, then stir in broth and cooked chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered about 45 minutes or until chicken is wonderfully tender.
5. Stir in beans, zucchini and bell pepper. Heat to a simmer over medium-low heat; cook 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serve immediately, or cool and store in refrigerator up to 3 days. To serve, sprinkle with grated cheese, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with scallions.
Yield: 12


Wedding Bells: An Open Letter to My Niece and Her Fiance

Chase and I are in Fort Wayne, IN for a wedding this weekend. My niece is getting married. I was 12 when she was born and it is hard to believe that

Photo by Chris Lake Photography

Photo by Chris Lake Photography

she and her fiancé will be starting their lives together. When Ryan and I got married, she had just graduated high school!

I have attended two other weddings this year. Each time I attend a wedding, I think back to day of our wedding and how we as a couple have faced each new experience and challenge since exchanging our vows. Three of the best pieces of advice I was given prior to our wedding are the following:


  1. You’re a team
  2. You’re still an individual
  3. The wedding is just the beginning


The first two ideas are broad and, on the surface, contradictory. I tell the couple at whose wedding I’m attending to remember: You’re Team “Insert Last Name Here” now. I think our society often pits husbands and wives against each other. So I think it is of paramount importance that we remember we are on the same team as our spouse or partner. Though you may have different personal goals, you as a couple want the same thing: to share a home, life, have pets and/or kids, travel, etc. or at least you should and if you haven’t discussed these things, you need to before inviting 300 of your nearest and dearest friends to witness your nuptials. In the course of your marriage, you should remember that it is not about winning. It is about making your partner feel respected and heard, while also getting what you need. And remember, you need to have team meetings every once in awhile to be sure that your needs are met and that you are presenting a united front.

Ryan and I don’t have a lot of disagreements or fights about things because we address our concerns right away when we have them and we choose our battles. Oh, and we know when to just walk away from the other person if they are in a not so lovely mood and address the issue later. Ryan is very good at that.

That being said, though you are uniting with the love of your life, you are still and always will be an individual. Your partner married you for a reason…that reason is because he or she loves you for you. “You” encompass a lot of things. Be sure to remember who you are as individual. Your personal goals are still important. Any partner will honor and encourage that.

Thank goodness for Ryan. He knows me well and understands that though I am enjoying being a married mom of two boys, most of the time, I still have both educational and professional goals. These things lie outside of the realm of marriage and motherhood. Though I will be tackling these challenges from the perspective of wife and mom, they are still my goals.

The wedding is just the first day of the rest of your life. Though the wedding day is a blast, it is one day. All of the planning and stress and worry of how that day is going to play out is for nothing if you are not prepared to put that much energy into your marriage. If you don’t have a plan for how you and your spouse are going to confront the issues you’ll face, get one started. I had a bridal binder that was by my side for a good 18 months.  Now, I work each day to approach my marriage with the same organization and clarity. I don’t carry around a binder but I am mindful of each decision I make as it relates to our family. TEAM FRIEDER!

So now that we have those important things established, it’s on to the fun of the weekend. Chase gets to see his cousins and I get to have dinner and drinks with an old boss, to whom I will now be related to through marriage! Pretty cool if you ask me!



Meatless Monday: Roasted Parsnips and Butternut Squash

It is that time of year again!  Though I have never had a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, I love the smell

Photo by Romulo Yanes from

Photo by Romulo Yanes from

of the spices go in them.  I also love butternut squash and parsnips.  There are so many things you can do with both.  If you aren’t well versed in Parsnip-ese, They are shaped like carrots and have a spicy-sweet-earthy flavor.  They are truly one of my favorite root vegetables.  You can use them in sweet recipes but in this one, the caramelization of both the squash and the parsnips are balanced by the salty kalamata olives.  I have been making this recipes for several years.  It is one of Ryan’s favorites.

You can play around with this recipe.  You can add Brussels Sprouts, beets, fingerling potatoes, even carrots.

Roasted Parsnips and Butternut Squash


  • 1 1/4 pound parsnips (4 medium), peeled
  • 1 1/4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded
  • Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 12 Kalamata olives, pitted and cut lengthwise into slivers
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


1. Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 475°F.

2. Cut parsnips lengthwise into quarters, then cut out and discard any tough core. Cut parsnips diagonally into 2-inch pieces. Cut squash crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut slices into wedges. Toss vegetables with salt, pepper, and 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, then spread in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan. Roast, turning occasionally, until vegetables are tender and browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. While vegetables are roasting, heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil with garlic in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic just begins to sizzle. Remove from heat.

4.When vegetables are done roasting, remove garlic from oil (discard garlic) and toss vegetables with garlic oil, olives, and parsley.


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