baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2022 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

archive for spices

trials, goals, and bucket lists

Friday, May 20th, 2022

Recipe: green chile chicken enchiladas


peony tulips for kris on may 1


While it might seem quiet around here, it has been anything but. Three months ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and began medication that sent my GI system on a 6-week roller coaster ride. I changed my diet, increased my exercise, and researched how to get my health and blood sugar under control. There were lots of bonks while navigating energy needs with more intense workouts and GI distress from the meds. But after weaning myself off of certain foods (the carbs, I do love them), consulting a nutritionist who specializes in diabetes, and converting some of my favorite recipes to healthier versions, I am meeting my health goals and feeling so much better.


last year: mother’s day, may 2021

last week: may 2022


In January 2022, I began planning a trip for my parents that should have happened in 2020 when my dad turned 80. Yosemite National Park was on my parents’ bucket list. Jeremy and I have camped, hiked, backpacked, ski toured, and photographed in Yosemite over the past 30 years. We knew enough to find a comfortable window for my parents to see the main sights without too much risk of snow or wildfires outside of the insanely crowded peak season. And because I had no way of knowing what the pandemic would be doing in May, I booked stand-alone luxury lodging with en suite dining space (for take out meals).


mother’s day on the lovely deck of our cabin

kicking off happy hour with mother’s day champagne

upper yosemite falls and the merced river

mom and dad at tunnel view


Mom and Dad enjoyed exploring Yosemite Valley, taking in waterfalls full of spring runoff (Bridalveil, Horsetail, Ribbon, Upper and Lower Yosemite), the giant sequoias, the great granite monoliths of El Capitan and Half Dome, the dogwood blossoms, and learning about the geologic history of the region. But the second half of the trip was what Dad was looking forward to the most: wine country. Jeremy tasted wines with my dad and I was the designated driver. All of the tastings were outdoors or open to the outdoors and all of our meals were either outside or carry out. Ultimately the whole adventure was a success because my parents were happy.


wine tasting at joseph phelps winery

the stunning entrance at joseph phelps

in the opus one courtyard

the garden outside our cottage in st. helena


I made sure to have healthy snacks on hand, ordered wisely at restaurants, and got out for hikes or trail runs most days, but it did involve a great deal of effort and planning to pull it all off and cater to my parents’ wishes while making sure the itinerary never went sideways. It was exhausting and I could not have done it without Jeremy’s support (logistical, moral, and otherwise). It’s good to be home with the pups, getting back to my exercise routine, living a simpler life, and eating my own food again.


these two have no idea how much we missed them


Knowing how to cook is probably the most important skill I bring to my dietary pivot. It gives me the ability to turn a generally unhealthy dish into something more nutritious, but still tasty and satisfying. Sometimes I make the indulgent recipe for Jeremy and create a diabetic-friendly mini version with substitutions for myself (because portion control). Other times we both eat the same healthier adaptation. And there are days when we eat completely different meals. It’s all fine.

We have been loving these green chile chicken enchiladas since last year. I’m happy to report that it is still a meal I eat – simply with less cheese, chicken, and oil – in a smaller portion. The original recipe uses flour tortillas which Jeremy can vouch for because I ran out of corn tortillas once. But we both prefer the taste of corn tortillas which are better for me than the refined carbohydrates in a traditional flour tortilla.

There are many shortcuts you can take to make this an easy weeknight meal like shredding the meat from a rotisserie chicken. [I buy an organic rotisserie chicken and use the meat for various soups, salads, sandwiches, nachos, and then use the carcass to make broth.] Fresh or jarred salsa verde works great here. And while I draw from my stash of roasted green chiles from my freezer, feel free to use canned green chiles.


cheese, cilantro, chicken, salsa verde, onions, corn tortillas, green chiles, oregano, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper (not pictured: canola oil)

add oregano, cumin, and garlic to the sautéed onions

stir in the green chiles

mix the cilantro, chicken, half the cheese, and some of the salsa into the filling



**Jump for more butter**

less stick, more carrot

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Recipe: roasted carrots

It’s been a rather productive fall for us, which may have a lot to do with the lack of snow. November provided few flakes for the ski resorts and the backcountry. But the high, dry winds delivered some outstanding sunsets and sunrises. Rather than gripe (too much) about the delay in the ski season, I redirected my energies to those long-neglected tasks in dire need of attention. As a small reward for getting so much done this autumn, I signed up for an online bookbinding class and learned how to transform fabric into bookcloth.


stacked lenticulars are so otherworldly

a feather dance at sunset

my two notebooks from class



Many Colorado ski hills open Thanksgiving week, even if it is a single run of man-made snow. We opted not to ski opening day at either of our local resorts and instead headed to the backcountry for a quiet ski tour. It happened to be the right decision because we were greeted with fresh snow and free refills all day. Yuki had a tummy bug the whole week, so we kept her on a mild diet and low activity. Jeremy snuck Neva out for bike rides to get her some exercise and wear down her rake-claws. It was a pleasant and low-key holiday week for our house. Well, not as pleasant as Yuki would have liked, but after a week of sad puppy eyes she’s back to normal and had a wonderful romp around the soccer field with some doggie friends this weekend.

real snow in the snow globe

neva wouldn’t budge, so yuki accepted sharing the bed



Now that Thanksgiving has passed, Holiday Madness Mode begins. There is nothing like holiday food to make me crave vegetables. The carrot is the one vegetable I often forget I love. We regularly buy carrots (adult, not baby) for raw snacking. And then a few times each winter I make roasted carrot soup. I will find myself noshing on several cubes of the sweet roasted carrots before the rest go into the stock pot and make some vague mental note that these are super addictive. I’m ashamed it has taken me this long to make roasted carrots as a dish unto itself, but I’m also glad I finally did it.

olive oil, pepper, mint, carrots, thyme, cumin seeds, chile powder, salt, turmeric, coriander seeds



The recipe comes from The New York Times Cooking archives and the only change I made was to omit the butter. I’ve cooked this successfully with both ground spices (cumin and coriander) and seeds (cumin and coriander), although I do prefer the seeds version. And while it is great without the mint, I think the mint lends a bright herbal finish. The preparation is simple and requires little effort for the payoff.

toss cut carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme

spread on a hot baking sheet



**Jump for more butter**

run me hot and cold

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020

Recipe: mushroom carnitas with magical green sauce

We’re getting that spring swing already – days of sunshine and warmth interspersed with frigid cold. I have found the best method for enjoying the weather is to roll with it. By now our bodies have grown accustomed to winter conditions such that warm days feel like a beach vacation without the sand getting into your personal spaces. I’m kidding, it’s nothing like the beach! And that’s great because I’m not a huge fan of tropical climates and their sandy associations.


sun and snow is so colorado

pups’ day off means jeremy gets to play

playing in the yard after a storm

getting ready at the trailhead – i feel the same as yuki

the pups love their cold day ski tours

and they really love the sunny day ski tours



I’m getting into the groove of the longer days. Extended hours of winter darkness don’t get me down the way they do other folks (including Jeremy), but I do find my self-motivation increasing with more daylight. I spent much of the long holiday weekend cooking and baking old favorites as well as a few new recipes.

his (chocolate espresso raspberry) and hers (lemon huckleberry) small cheesecakes



One of the new recipes had caught my eye on Instagram the week prior: mushroom carnitas. This stirred triple excitement in me because 1) I was already obsessing about our spring mushroom foraging season, which includes oyster mushrooms that are used in the recipe 2) I love carnitas and 3) I’m always looking for tasty ways to reduce our meat consumption.

a lovely cluster of oysters that erin had found a couple of seasons ago

a haul of spring oyster mushrooms from another season



I could have waited for oyster season to start before testing the recipe, but fresh oyster mushrooms are usually available year round at my local Whole Foods or the bigger Asian markets. I made a half recipe and only grabbed a pound of oysters. Now do you have to use oyster mushrooms? No, you don’t. But I wouldn’t use regular mushrooms because the texture of oysters tends to be stringier which lends well to the mushroom carnitas. Based on my limited knowledge of mushrooms, I’d suggest beech or king trumpets (aka king oysters) for substitutes as they offer a similar texture/structure.

onion, lime, orange, oyster mushrooms, black pepper, cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic powder, salt, worcestershire sauce, olive oil

lime juice, orange juice, sliced onions

shred the mushrooms by pulling them into strips

if the caps are too firm to shred, you can slice them with a knife



**Jump for more butter**