when October disappeared in a flash


Just in case the four of you who still check in here from time to time are wondering, we’re doing fine, slowly settling in and adjusting to our new home in NoVa. This has not been the smoothest of transitions for a variety of reasons, but after two months here, I think I’m finally getting to the point where I wake up in the morning and I don’t feel like I’m living someone else’s life.

My new role has kept me extremely busy – and even though I was warned, I had no idea just how busy I was going to be. More days than not, I see the kids for 10-15 minutes in the morning before I head out the door, and then if I see them at all when I get home in the evening, it’s for just a few minutes before their bedtime. As you can imagine, that’s been hard on us all. But our kids are nothing if not resilient, and we’ve been trying to fill our weekends with as much fun and together-time as we can muster.


As you can also imagine, our dinners have been, of necessity, as simple as possible. Mike has taken on the lion’s share of the cooking, and we’ve been the lucky recipients of a few edible care packages from my mom. But I’ve had a few chances to knock around in our new kitchen, and one recent dinner that elicited a lot of comments on social media was my tried-and-true sheet pan nachos. So for those of you who asked, here’s how I make them.


These are super easy and endlessly adaptable, and you can even prep most of the components ahead of time. I start by lining my pan with parchment (foil also works but isn’t quite as sturdy), and drizzling on just a tiny bit of olive oil. Then for each pan I’m preparing, I spread 1 can of refried black or pinto beans in the center, leaving maybe a 1.5 inch border around the edge (I’ve found one sheet pan serves 4 adults generously). I put a layer of chips around the edge, then scatter a cup or two of grated cheese all over (cheddar, Jack, pepper jack, mozzarella, or any combo works well). That goes into a preheated 350 degree oven just until the cheese starts to bubble.

While the tray is in the oven, I get the remaining layers together (amounts are per pan): a can (or 1.5 cups cooked from dry) black or pinto beans, drained; another 1-2 cups grated cheese; seasoned ground or shredded beef or shredded or chopped chicken (I cook mine with a mix of cumin and garlic and chili powders or paste, plus a little tomato – like so). Or skip the meat entirely and pile on some zucchini or corn or mushrooms. For the nachos pictured here, I had a container of peperonata to use up, so I put that on too – but plain roasted peppers and onions also work well.


All of that gets layered on to the beans/cheese, with some additional chips squished in (I sort of stand them on edge to they don’t get too soggy). Then it all goes back into the oven for about 10 minutes to warm through. I finish it under the broiler (did I mention our new oven has a broiler on top? We are SO EXCITED about this), pulling the tray out when the cheese is golden brown.

Then just before serving, add your cold toppings. I like to shred red cabbage and toss it with salt and a little fresh lime juice to scatter over the top, but shredded lettuce works just as well. Sliced or chopped avocado is great, as are diced fresh tomatoes, black olives, pickled or fresh red onions, scallions, pickled or fresh jalapeños, sour cream or Mexican crema or Greek yogurt, and of course your favorite salsa/hot sauce. And I always serve the nachos with extra bowls of chips on the side.


Oh, and if you happen to have leftovers, the “put an egg on it” rule totally applies. It’s nice to know that some things never change.


A little shameless spouse-promotion
: while we were in the midst of this major life upheaval, my dearest wrapped up work on his second book! Whiskey: A Spirited Story with 75 Classic and Original Cocktails is set for release in May of next year, and is currently available for pre-order. As if that weren’t enough excitement, that same day the revised and updated paperback edition of Shrubs hits stores, with a foreword by Imbibe executive editor, Paul Clarke. Both books feature lovely cover art by Vancouver photographer, blogger, and woman-about-town Kristy Gardner. Never a dull moment Chez Dietschblossom!


a good place to start


This week has been a doozy. We were able to take our very cooped-up kids out for a bit over the weekend, but the cold and snow came back with a vengeance Sunday night, and we’ve been fighting the bad weather blues ever since. My commutes have been long and frustrating, with truncated workdays and late returns home throwing us all off schedule, but the one thing we’ve been really grateful for is the promise of a good, hearty meal at the end of the day.

We were the lucky recipients of another delicious “meal train” dinner Monday night, and yesterday I put a new spin on an old favorite: Lemon Artichoke Chicken by our friend Liz. Liz’ original recipe is one of those wonderful dishes that is simple enough for a weeknight, but elegant enough for company. We usually love it served simply with salad and bread, but last night, craving something a little more rib-sticking, I decided to make a few modifications.

The first of them was unintentional, but a happy accident: instead of the skinless, boneless chicken breasts the recipe calls for, Mike had pulled some boned-out thighs from the freezer. They were thin enough that they didn’t need pounding, and in the end they lent a more robust flavor to the finished dish.


After browning the chicken well on both sides, I removed it from the pan and added some sliced crimini mushrooms I needed to use up, as well as a good amount of thyme. I deglazed the pan with the juice of a lemon, and a hefty splash of vermouth in place of the sherry since it was what we had on hand, then I added a can of drained white beans along with the artichoke hearts. I put the browned chicken right back into the pan with the beans, artichokes, mushrooms and sauce, added the panko-parmesan topping, drizzled on some olive oil and then put the whole thing into a hot oven. I ended up baking this for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees, until it was bubbly and browned on top.


While my variation of this dish isn’t going to win any beauty contests, it hit all the right notes, with its creamy beans, tender chicken and artichokes, the crunch of the panko and the brightness of lemon. The fact that it all came together in one pan was a bonus. Thank you, Liz, for your recipe and for the inspiration – it was a very good place to start.

kielbasa and pierogi sheet pan dinner

the swing


I returned to work this week, just one day after Mira turned 10 weeks old. Mike is home with both kids now, trying to balance his writing projects with wrangling a newborn and an energetic toddler. Monday was rough all around, but each day has gotten a little bit better, and I’m pretty sure that we’ll soon be right back in the swing of things.

We have been helped immensely by parent-friends in our neighborhood, who have dropped off a series of delicious dinners, and also by a bit of planning ahead. I made sure that our fridge and freezer would be stocked with heat-and-eat options to help ease us through this first week post-maternity leave – a chicken and black bean chili I put together a couple of weeks ago, a couple of par-baked frozen pizzas, and the ingredients for this ingenious and really tasty sheet pan supper, which I spotted on Pinterest some recent sleepless night. Right now, easy is essential.

Our kielbasa came from Flying Pigs Farm, and instead of using bell peppers (as in Foodie With Family’s original dish), I added some well-drained sauerkraut to the mix. I also ended up baking it for closer to an hour, cranking the heat up to 500 for the last half of the cooking time to get everything nice and browned and crisp (our crappy apartment oven is likely to blame for that). Since I had started early, timing wasn’t a problem, and I’m never going to complain about the smell of garlicky sausage and onions wafting through the air as they cook. We all loved this dish, and it could not have been easier to assemble, or more fun to eat. This one is definitely going into the rotation.

a little big news

shrubs teaser

If you were around last Friday, you may have heard my husband‘s big announcement; and if you haven’t, well, I feel it is my duty to share some wonderful news with you.

While I’ve been spending the last few months not-so-much-cooking, and not-so-much-eating, and mostly putting all my energy into incubating Sprog 2.0, Mike has been pouring his heart and soul and considerable talents into a pretty major project of his own: a book. SHRUBS: AN OLD-FASHIONED DRINK FOR MODERN TIMES, is set for release in July of 2014. If you don’t yet know what a shrub is, well, my Dietsch is the guy to explain it to you.

shrubs cover 500sq

My own involvement with this project goes a little beyond taste tester and head cheerleader, as well: I shot the cover (!), and will be providing additional photos for the book (!!), which is exciting and surreal and more than a little nerve-wracking, since our deadline falls right around the time the new baby is due, but hey, an opportunity like this is a once in a lifetime thing. It’s a thrill to have some tiny part in helping Mike’s lifelong dream become a reality.

Big, big congrats, sweetie – I am so proud of you, and hopefully this is just the beginning.

I’m an Olive Adventurer!


I don’t usually post about brand partnerships here, but I have a longstanding love for olives, and when I was asked earlier this year by the folks at Lindsay Olives to contribute a couple of my original recipes to their Olive Adventurer series, I was happy to oblige. (I’m in excellent company, as you can see!)

You can get my recipes for Braised Escarole with White Beans and Olives, and Spaghettini alla Caponata (pictured above) over at LindsayOlives.com. Enjoy!




So somehow in the middle of my recent spate of 50-hour work weeks, I managed to get pregnant again. No burying the lede this time, I’m just putting it right out here, and letting you all know that baby number two is set to join us in October, a month after Julian’s second birthday. We’re thrilled of course, though my tiredness has reached a whole new level, and my appetite, to my chagrin, is all but gone these days.

I had no such trouble eating throughout my first pregnancy. My first trimester nausea was just mildly bothersome, and I had no real morning sickness to speak of. I ate well and often: lots of fruit and fish, big salads and eggs and nuts by the handful. Indian food, Mexican food, any kind of spicy food – bring it on. Just about everything tasted great, and physically, I felt better than I had in years.

But things are different this time around – not drastically so, just enough to throw me for a loop. I feel a little bit queasier, a little more fatigued than I remember being last time, and I just don’t have much of an appetite. For anything. Frustrating for many, but downright maddening for a typically food-fixated sort like myself.


It doesn’t help that I feel guilty about not eating. I’m building a baby, after all.


I’m in a lull between trials right now, and my schedule has cleared up a bit. Mike has taken on the lion’s share of dinner prep in recent weeks, between my work commitments and lack of interest in eating, but I was eager to get back in the kitchen over the weekend, even though I had no clue what to make for us. Inspiration came, as it often does these days, via Pinterest, and a beautiful panade from Emily of Five and Spice. Since I’ve been able to reliably keep down bread and cheese, and we had a fresh batch of rich chicken stock in the fridge, it seemed like a good bet.


So I headed into the kitchen yesterday afternoon while Julian napped and Mike took care of some things around the apartment, and I sliced onions and trimmed chard, grated cheese and massaged stale bread. I sauteed the greens and alliums in batches, built some layers and moistened them with stock, then I set my covered pan in a low oven to bake for a good long while.

And then I put my feet up.

The three of us sat down to eat together as the sun set, something I have missed more than anything else over the last few months, and as I watched the boys tucking into their respective portions, I was happy that at least they were enjoying their meal. I still wasn’t sure if I would. But I took a spoonful from my own bowl, satiny greens and wobbly bread, the aroma of stock and cheese and onions set aloft on a pocket of steam, and I closed my eyes as I took it into my mouth. I took another bite, and another, and another, and soon, my belly was as full as my heart felt.