green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies roasted carrots


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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



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sandwiched, dipped, and sprinkled

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Recipe: bakery-style butter cookies

I hope you all had a restful holiday and were able to recharge as needed. After all of the cookies were baked and distributed, we holed up in Crested Butte as 100 inches of desperately needed snow fell on us during Twixmas week. That kind of snow is the stuff of dreams. It was both magical and an enormous amount of work to clear by hand as our snow thrower was at the snow thrower doctor until the last day of the storm cycle. We did manage to crank out another year-in-photos digital card here: Jen and Jeremy’s Year in Photos.


welcome to 2022!

skating through a winter wonderland on the nordic trails

high avalanche danger meant low-angle backcountry fun



The plan was to resume documenting my latest favorite recipes in the new year, but I came down with Bell’s Palsy a couple of weeks ago. It was alarming at first as we tried to determine if it was a stroke (it was not). Despite having a thankfully mild case of facial palsy, my daily functionality was limited for a couple of weeks, mostly by my leaky left eye. Now I’m finally feeling nearly normal after finishing the mega dose of steroids and antiviral medications. Normal is a good thing. Even almost normal feels supremely wonderful right now.

uphill skiing = human-powered fun

we are getting lots of miles with the pups



A few years ago Deb had posted a photo and link for some cheerful golden nubs that were sandwiched, dipped in chocolate, and rolled in sprinkles. My memory leans photographic and her cookies tickled my brain: a pink cardboard box filled with a variety of cookies, some of which conveyed a similarly happy vibe as Deb’s.

Shortly after my sister turned 18, we road tripped from Virginia through Syracuse, New York, her birthplace, to Michigan where she would start her freshman year of college. Snowflake Bakery was on the “must visit” itinerary in Syracuse. Mom said they used to stand in long lines out the door at the bakery when Kris was an adorable toddler, and that the staff would sneak outside and hand Kris a cookie. It was my first time trying them in my 12 year old life. Delicate, delicious, not too sweet. Sharing cookies with Kris in the backseat of the Chevy as we sped west to Niagara Falls then onward to Ann Arbor, I tried to relish the time I had with my big sister and my best friend, dreading the trip home without her. Fast forward 38 years and I’m making these butter cookies from scratch and with all the feels.


flour, sugar, salt, butter, eggs, chocolate, vanilla extract, almond extract, sprinkles, raspberry and apricot jams



I can’t tell you if these bakery-style butter cookies are the same as Snowflake’s cookies because I don’t remember. Snowflake Bakery is now permanently closed, but I plan to send some cookies to Mom because she has excellent taste memory and gives unflinching feedback. I can tell you that I love this version for so many reasons. It’s got fruity jam, and I love fruity things. It’s a sandwich, one of my favorite food forms. The hints of almond, lemon, vanilla, and butter create pure magic. There is just enough chocolate to be enjoyable without regret. And finally – sprinkles. That said, the dough can be fiddly.

adding eggs and extracts to the creamed butter and sugar

mix in the flour

load the piping bag with dough



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midlife huckleberry

Saturday, October 2nd, 2021

Recipe: huckleberry pie

Housekeeping Update: Subscribers may have received an email burp of use real butter post summaries recently. We’re not sure what Feedburner is doing, so I apologize. We are in the process of migrating your use real butter subscription to a new service while minimizing any further weirdness you may encounter. Until the new service is in place, we haven’t cut off Feedburner, but you can self-subscribe in the little subscription box on the upper right of the blog. Thank you so much for your patience and thanks to Lesley for recommending follow.it. -jen xo


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September sways between summer and autumn and occasionally dips a toe in faux-winter here in the mountains. The month began thick with greenery and hot sun, and ended draped in the golden leaves of autumn as the high country backdrops were accented in white from recent snowfall. I find it a refreshing reprieve from relentless awesome summer doings. Like much of the wildlife around us, we are tending to those responsibilities we shirked all summer in favor of foraging mushrooms and huckleberries.

Labor Day is an unofficial bookend of summer, which means we spent our birthdays in relative peace and quiet. Relative because… pups. Per Jeremy’s request, I prepared a multi-course seafood dinner for his birthday dinner and baked a hazelnut almond dacquoise with fresh berries and chocolate mousse for dessert. For my own birthday, my 50th, I made chicken porcini pot pie, had a scoop of non-dairy store bought ice cream, and defeated several armies of hostile alien forces. No midlife crisis, just midlife casual no-drama low-stress appreciation for the ordinary. We were in Crested Butte last weekend to winterize our place and do a little leaf peeping.


birthday boy and yuki side-eye

neva enjoying outside time (yuki did not want to climb onto the boulder)

everybody happy

aspen and spruce

this will never get old

walking through golden aspen stands

lovely views in every direction



It’s late in the season to be posting a huckleberry recipe, but I know people are still foraging them to the north and west of Colorado. We had a pretty good huck season locally. If you were diligent about picking and freezing these tiny flavor bombs this summer, you might have enough to make a pie. If (like me) you use your precious huckleberries sparingly, then a full-sized 9-inch pie might be too great a demand of your stash. A 4-inch pie requires a mere 1 1/2 cups. Thankfully, frozen huckleberries work just as well as fresh in this pie, so one could conceivably create a blast of late summer any time of year. And as always, if you don’t have huckleberries, you can substitute with wild blueberries or regular blueberries.

a tremendous season full of big little huckleberries



Truth be told, I’ve never made a life-size huckleberry pie. 6-8 cups is a full day of picking in the BEST of seasons in Colorado. So the recipe below is for a 9-inch pie, because apparently there are locales where the huckleberries are large and plentiful and you don’t have to crouch on the ground for hours on end to get them. The process I photographed here is the making of a 4-inch pie. I also ditched the pie dough in the Saveur recipe because Kenji’s pie dough is now my trusted go-to recipe.

flour, salt, sugar, butter, ice water

pulse sugar, salt, 2/3 of the flour, and cold butter together

cut in the remaining flour

drizzle with cold water

press and fold the dough together

holding shape and ready to chill



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