Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sweet Potato Burritos + Baking Tips

The revolutionizing of my kitchen will most likely be a lifelong journey.  Perhaps someday I can achieve Martha Stewart status.  Until then, I’m always plucking away at new recipes, new strategies, new challenges to conquer in an apron.  Last night, I created my very first recipe.  It’s basic.  It’s adaptable.  But the result was delicious.  Since I’m notorious for missing (at least) one tiny but key ingredient every time I get inspired to try something unplanned and new, I’ve had a fair share of experience of adapting recipes.  Here’s the recipe I was dying to try last night, but did not have the ingredients (or the patience for the grocery store) to make it happen:

Quickly glancing at the ingredient list, I realized I didn’t happen to have jalepenos, toasted pepitas, and queso fresco on hand at all times.  So without reading further, I created my very own version. Here are some tips for making them extra-yummy.

The BEST whole wheat tortillas: Don Michael

Shred your own cheese. It’s SO much better. And, as I learned, it’s a good stress reliever too.

Fresh cilantro: use as generously as you like! Your food will thank you.


Here’s is the SCRUMPTIOUS recipe:



1 cup Brown Rice, cooked (I used Minute brown rice)

Whole Wheat tortillas

2 Tbsp Olive oil

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

½ cup chopped cilantro

2 tsp minced garlic

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 ripe avocado, diced

1 cup shredded mozzarella (freshly shredded is best)

¼ cup sour cream

1-2 Tbsp lime juice

½ tsp salt

pepper—to taste

1 Tbsp brown sugar


1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat.

2. Add garlic, onion, sweet potato, salt and pepper. Cover, stirring occasionally.

3. Once potatoes are a bit browned and softened, add ¼ cup cilantro and lime juice.

4. Add black beans.  Continue to cook until beans are heated through.

5.  Sprinkle cooked rice with brown sugar. Mix well. Season with salt.

6. Assemble burritos with rice, sweet potato mixture, fresh cilantro, avocado, sour cream, and mozzarella.


If you try them, I’d love feedback.


And while we’re on the subject of food…I also made this delicious cake yesterday and used my traditional healthy baking shortcuts, learned over time from Jessica Seinfeld and by experimentation.

When baking, here are some tips:

1.  Get to know Bob. His flour is organically amazing.  I use this flour to replace (at least) half of the all-purpose flour called for in any baking recipe.

2. USE PUREES.  Yes, it’s extra work, but SO worth it!  I puree yellow squash, green squash, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower about once every 2-3 months.  I use about 2 stock-pots to steam large chunks of these veggies.  After they are really soft, they go in the blender with a bit of water.  Then, I portion them out in plastic baggies by 1/2 cups.  They freeze beautifully.

When ready to use, I just run a bag under hot water. DONE.

What’s great about using these purees?

1. They can replace at least half of the canola or vegetable oil in a recipe, which cuts out fat.

2. They COMPLETELY disappear. There is no flavor added or subtracted to any recipe.

3. Your family will be eating veggies without knowing it. This is especially helpful with strong-willed toddlers. :)

My cake was a success and made healthier by adding cauliflower and squash.



Two Surprises

The weather is the talk of the town. Anything unseasonal gets people buzzing, especially in Michigan.  I’m learning I’m even less of a winter person than I even thought.  Once the holidays are over, I’m completely through with the snow.  The perpetual gray sky, the ice scraping, and the general bulkiness of life that winter demands…it really gets to me.  Days like to today prove I’m not alone.  Everyone in Holland has spent the past few days digging in the garage for bike pumps, rummaging through attics and basements for sandals that *might* fit our kids, shaking out those capris that have been folded and stored for months.  The sun has blessed us along with temperatures usually identified with June or July.  I don’t want to forget that even though I married a Michigan man and, therefore, will endure the climate most likely for the rest of my life…West Michigan, by and large, is pretty spectacular.

And the flowers around my lamppost aren’t the only thing in bloom around here.  Baby Bishop is making his/her presence known by turning circles and giving mom a few jabs.  Last night, I felt a kick externally (the lay-perfectly-still-with-hand-on-belly technique) for the first time.  This baby’s older brother has blossomed into practically a new child.  Perhaps three and a half is the magic age where daily battles–over food, clothes, toys, transportation, and all of the little observances and preferences tucked into a ‘difficult’ toddler’s daily life–settle down.  There hasn’t been a single timeout in weeks.  Talk about a breath of FRESH air!  I know, in part, this is due to the blood, sweat, and tears of the last 2 years of discipline. And perhaps more recently because of the new book I’ve been reading with lots of wonderful tactics for a kid like Jack. But perhaps time itself is exposing a softer side of Jack.  There are many shaping factors here, and I’m so incredibly grateful I’ve been able to enjoy my son in totally new ways.

The recent weather has given us different possibilities for play, and I’ve come up with a short list of ways to keep a young boy entertained:

* Have a stick pile contest. The bigger, the better.

* Create a rock collection.

* Give rocks names.

* Bury stuff.

* Dig up stuff.

* Pretend to hunt ferocious animals.

Or, if you’re feeling like we were today…head to the beach sans toys and just go discover Pure Michigan…

Today made me realize two scary thoughts:

1. If I could guarantee that more Bishop boys would turn out like Jack has been lately, I would want a dozen of them.

2. I never want to move.

It looks like the weather isn’t the only thing surprising me these days.


Letter to Baby


This note is probably more for me than for you.  But perhaps when you’re searching for answers someday, or you’re old and gray, you’ll want to dig deeply and find traces of your earliest beginnings.  As your mom, I’m afraid time is already going by so quickly.  If I don’t pause and focus just on you, I will forget all of the moments we are already having.  And I never want to forget how much I already adore you.

I am fifteen weeks pregnant with you.  You are apparently the size of an apple, spending your days circling, spinning, and listening.  I felt you for the first time recently, and I lit up inside.  Your brother can’t wait to feel you kick him, and he will most likely want to kick you in return (for fun, of course).  I will try to stop him. Those first flutters are magical, almost like you are tickling me on purpose.  Someday, I will tickle you back. And I will teach you to cry out “Mercy!” just like your brother.

We are all very excited for you, and yet none of us knows what to expect.  Your dad and I are both the second child in our families, and we know how special it is to have an older sibling.  Jackson will be a wonderful big brother to you.  You will make his world expand and his heart grow even bigger.  He will teach you things; you may just teach him more.  Be prepared to be handled roughly.  Get ready for noise.  Your home is a beautifully crazy place, and we know you will fit just perfectly here.

I hope you recognize your dad’s voice. It is always worth listening to.  I hope he becomes your very favorite person.  He is overwhelmingly brilliant and will teach you about the world and your purposeful place in it.  He is someone you can depend on every day of your life. Even now, before you arrive. Please trust him, honor him, and respect him. Your life will be better for it.

Your brother will have to adjust to your presence, but he is unspeakably excited for you to be here.  I believe Jack will make you laugh for the rest of your life.  Get used to his silliness and his energy; it’s contagious.  And I’m already praying you two will be wonderful, supportive friends.

Having your brother first prepared me to be a stronger, more confident mother to you.  I’m grateful for his patience with me as I figured out just the kind of mom I’m meant to be.  I’ll still be figuring it out with you, I’m sure.  But I’m in a better place now, determined to enjoy every gurgle, kick, or laugh you offer me.

But, to be honest, I’m still scared.  Being a mom is scary for me. So forgive me when I think of myself too much. Or when you see me cry. Or when you wonder if you are my first priority.  Being your mom is the greatest calling put on my life; forgive me when I forget that.  And I promise to offer you forgiveness too.

And lastly, thanks for being you.  I’m still amazed it’s YOU turning circles in there, baffled that God would bless me this much.  I love you, precious baby. Watching you grow is one of my life’s greatest joys.

Much love,