navy bean soup

this gem of a recipe comes from my mother. probably from her father, to be honest. it’s been in my family for a long time. when i was a child we would always have this the week after christmas, because my mother would use the ham bone from christmas dinner (you know, the one with delicious bits of pink ham still clinging to it?) as the base for the stock. i’ve adapted it so that it can be made any time you’d like. this soup is comfort and happiness in a bowl. it’s thick and hearty, but the bulk of the heartiness is made up of beans—a lean protein upon which our bodies thrive. the ham is really just there for flavor…amazing, porky flavor.
navy bean soup


  • 1 pound dried navy beans, soaked at least 12 hours in water
  • 1 ham hock
  • 1 chunk ham (you can use center cut ham slices, or even a boneless spiral cut ham portion like i did – amount of ham to taste)
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 pound celery
  • salt and pepper
  • water, about 8 cups
  • olive oil, about 2-3 tablespoons


soak the beans overnight in water. the timing on this usually varies for me from about 12 hours to 18 hours, but rarely is it ever 24 hours. oh, and it should happen at room temperature.  drain your soaked beans and pick through them to remove any stones or twigs.

peel and cut your carrots into 1 inch chunks. dice your onion, and cut your celery into 1/2 moon chunks. the shape isn’t too important with the veggies, you just want to be sure that they are roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium to medium high heat and add the aromatics. saute until they begin to soften and brighten in color, add the ham hock, the beans, salt and pepper, and water to cover. cut the ham into chunks and add in when ready, add more water if needed to be sure everything is covered.

bring the mixture to a boil and continue that for about 10 minutes.  then, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about 2 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the ingredients covered. you will know the soup is ready when the beans are very soft and the water has thickened into a creamy rich broth.

like most soups, this is better the next day. enjoy!


this little family recipe is relatively inexpensive to make and will feed an army. it is the perfect p90x friendly meal because it’s low in calories and high in lean protein. i hope you enjoy!


yesterday, my sweet baby boy turned two. i have no idea how the time has gone so fast, it seems like just yesterday that he was born, and yet, here we are, fully encamped in toddlerhood.

he exhibits all of the standard traits of a toddler; impatience, an unwillingness to share, a short temper, and boundless energy. his favorite sentences are “i do, i do, i do!”, “my [insert object here]!”, and “no!”. however, he also has some amazing qualities that completely eclipse the norms. he uses “please” and “thank you” more often than most adults, he loves to stand at the counter with me and sample tidbits of food as i cook/prepare meals, he will try anything once (anything, really), and when he’s feeling quiet he will sit in my lap and “chat” with me while he runs his fingers through my hair. he really likes my hair.

he’s grown so much in the last two years, and i don’t mean physically—though he is over three feet tall and just shy of 32 pounds these days. he’s become an individual, a completely unique person that is part me (he rubs his feet together when he’s sleepy and i often catch him staring off into space like i know i do) and part daddy (he’s mastered the people’s eyebrow and loves briny olives) but is still somehow totally new.

i love who he is. i cherish this time with him, and i long to know who he will eventually become. he is a joy and my treasure, my sweet baby boy, and there will never be another exactly like him.

happy second birthday fritz.

photo round up

not from instagram, but from my phone:

we went to deep creek for a week, you loved it.

at the beach!

you love to wear my shoes…

mommy's shoes

and daddy’s shoes.

daddy's shoes

i can’t get enough of your early morning snuggles.

snuggles with mommy

you seem to be pondering deep things here, but i think you were really watching the men play soccer.

at the park

sleepy little man on the way to the fresh beat concert.

sleepy man

go ravens!

tiny ravens fan


more soon…like recipes and actual words. stay tuned!

an open letter to fritz | vol. 7

dear fritz,

you are an energetic, intelligent, and happy child. and tall, you are also so tall. i don’t know when it happened, but you are such a little boy these days. you run with conviction and bound onto (and off of) furniture with joy. you are obsessed with all things truck. as we drive down the road you point every. single. truck. out to me and tell me that they are all yellow trash trucks, visual evidence notwithstanding. you make engine noises for each and every one, and occasionally throw in a siren sound (wee-ooh) for effect. needless to say, car rides with you are a blast.

out for a walk with mommy.

you have turned into a “morning person” which i find inexcusable. you are chipper and excited when i greet you in your crib, and promptly ask for daddy, kitty, tucker (in that order). after i give you their various whereabouts, you dodge around the crib, darting away from my arms while you laugh hysterically. this goes on for a few minutes, then you decide that you must get out (immediately) and begin to whine. once i grab you, you bury your head in my neck for a hug, then lean back and give me a forehead bonk (your most consistent display of affection). you play fiercely all morning until your nap, and then sleep as hard as you played. you being to wilt in the afternoon and become almost intolerable by dinner time (your cuteness saves you). you always seem happy that bedtime has arrived, and you sleep through the night, every night.

don't ask.

speaking of bedtime, you’ve gotten into something of a routine. you start to wail for your books about halfway through getting dressed, and when i haul you up to see them (so that you can select one) you always pick the same book. the goodnight train. like, all the time. i try to encourage you to branch out, but you hug it closer to snarl “mine!” until i get the point and settle in to read (choo chooo).

firefighter fritz

you are still my adventurous eater. you had your first raw sushi this month and loved it. you also had more octopus (a perennial favorite at this point) and are now a pizza aficionado. you dig my gluten-free bread and my sugar-free jam, and will still devour an entire plate of steamed green beans with butter and salt. you enjoy my chicken and rice soup and pasta. always pasta, but we have to strip you down to a diaper to serve it to you, for obvious reasons.

you have begun to string words together, which is really exciting. some favorites include “no mommy” and “me no baby, tuck tuck”. ok, so they don’t always make sense, but you like the sound of your voice making sentences, and i do too. you learn new words by mimicking us a lot, last night you said “chicken” for the first time. your development has really taken off, and i’m excited for the time (around your second birthday, or so i’ve been told) when we can begin properly communicating with each other.

most pitiful look ever.

in three months you will be two years old and i will write another one of these letters to a very big boy indeed. please slow down baby, you are growing so fast and i don’t want to miss a thing!

until next time, my love,


turkey tacos

tap, tap, tap…is this thing on?

sorry that it’s been a while. the long and short of it is that i’m reaching a key deadline at work and have had no time for personal pursuits of late. things are good. we are still doing p90x (though that is drawing to a close) and still eating super healthy. we are loving the abundant produce of summer, and fritz is growing like a weed. all is well at chez fritz, i just have no free time.

i could not pass up the opportunity to share this recipe with you, however. we’ve had it one night a week for the last month, so i think that makes it “blog worthy”. make this over the ground-beef-with-seasoning-packet version of tacos and you will not be disappointed.

turkey tacos

Turkey tacos

  • 1# ground turkey
  • one small onion, minced
  • one red, and one green pepper, minced
  • one pint cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
  • three cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 scant tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • cayenne to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt

heat olive oil a large skillet over medium high heat. add minced onions and peppers and the tomatoes—salting to taste—and stir until they soften a bit. add garlic and cook about a minute. make a well in the center and add in the turkey. break it up with the back of a wooden spoon and stir through with the vegetables, being sure to brown it well. sprinkle on the paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne, and stir through to combine. taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

notes: these really don’t need much in the way of toppings. the filling is super flavorful and is packed with vegetables. serve in a crunchy taco shell (or soft if you are so inclined) with fresh shredded lettuce and some sliced avocado or cheese. we occasionally put some greek yogurt on in place of sour cream.

instagram roundup

things have been…busy lately. though the days are actually longer in the summer, they seem to pass more quickly. fritz is growing in leaps and bounds (physically as well as developmentally) and it’s hard to keep up. here’s  what we’ve been up to:



someone is very interested in the potty right now…



though it’s usually quickly abandoned.



i have no words for this one…it’s just…well, you can see.



in a major apple phase these days.



this is my view of him when we play on the couch. he likes to grab my hair and rub his face with it…



playing sippy cup roulette with his friend logan.



he made a match!


so, this “recipe” is beyond easy, and it is a showstopper around our house. fritz gobbles these crunchies up and then points and the bowl and grunts for more (we’re still working on his vocabulary…)

crunchies is what i call my non-mayonnaise-based cole slaw, cause i (personally) think that stuff is gross. we usually eat it on tacos (these in particular, try them, they rock) and also on pulled bbq chicken or pork. really though, i would eat this with a fork, it’s that good.



  • 1 bag broccoli slaw (this is just matchsticks of broccoli stalks, carrots, and red cabbage if you want to do it at home)
  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • sea salt, to taste

mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. you can heat it slightly if you need to, but patience is really key here. once it’s ready, toss in the slaw mixture and combine (with your hands people, it’s the only way to really get it done) and set aside to “come together”. let this sit for about 15 minutes, occasionally diving in with your hands to mix it all about. that’s it, enjoy!

notes: the general guideline here is two parts vinegar, one part sugar and a pinch of salt to even out the flavors (you really need the salt). so use that guideline when going up or down in batch size.

this week…

…has been hard. papa fritz is in finland negotiating a contract, and i’m at home with captain chaos and his sidekick all week. they get into tons of trouble and are always underfoot. the cat does nothing to help, she’s useless, but cute. i have no time for words, but here are some photos of how we’ve spent our time…


he likes to eat the tops of his yogurts…this is my current favorite face, by the way.



pre-walk, in his jaunty hat with an apple to snack on. delicious.


mr. snuggles

mommy’s very snugly boy.


hugs for tucker

we say “hugs for tucker” and this is what he does. heart. melting.


harry potter

someone was very proud of the harry potter-esque wound on his forehead.


gushers "fruit" snacks. uh hunh.

nana gave him gushers “fruit” snacks. uh hunh, fruit, right.


kisses for nana

kisses for nana.


tucker kisses

kisses for tucker (we are very into kissing right now).


devilish grin

devilish grin.

a new eggplant parm

i’ve always made eggplant parm in the same way. and it was always very good. i would grill the slices of eggplant and would make a delicious tomato sauce from scratch, then carefully layer the concoction and bake until bubbling.

recently, however, i attempted a new method and the results were amazing. the first alteration i made was to salt the eggplant to draw out the bitter liquids. i usually skipped this step because grilling was so time consuming. i have to say though, it was totally worth it! the eggplant was sweeter for the extra 10 minutes of patience. the second change was to par boil the eggplant instead of grilling it. not only does this result in a much healthier version of the dish, but the eggplant was softer in its final form and easier to manage during assembly. i really thought i’d miss the char-grilled flavor from before, but i honestly didn’t even notice it was gone. finally, i added a mixture of pork, veal, and beef to the tomato sauce. this really makes the dish sing, and was necessary for me due to the protein i need to intake every day for the p90x nutrition plan.

this is a more labor intensive dish than i usually make, but it’s well worth it and something that would be perfectly suited to a sunday dinner with the family.

a new eggplant parm


  • 3 medium/large eggplants
  • 1 pound blend of beef/veal/pork (or any ground meat)
  • two 16 oz. jars store bought/homemade tomato sauce
  • 6 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt
  • olive oil

heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. in the meantime, peel and slice the eggplants (about 1/4″ thick). lay all of the slices out and then heavily salt them. let them sit for about 10 minutes. you will notice little droplets of liquid form on the eggplant during this time. rinse them off and then add them to the boiling water. you will likely have to work in batches. you want to cook the eggplant for about 6 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned. drain and set aside.

heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. add the meat and brown, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. you don’t want any large chunks of meat here, so be sure to break it up really well. drain off some of the fat (i just tilt the pan and use a large spoon here) or not, it’s up to you. add the tomato sauce and let it come to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and allow the flavors to come together for about 30 minutes.

preheat the oven to 375.

when all of the ingredients are ready smear a small amount of tomato sauce into a 9×13″ baking pan (there is no need to add oil here, the tomato sauce will do the trick). layer eggplant, then sauce, then cheese, and repeat until all of the ingredients are gone or the pan is completely full. be sure to top with a nice layer of cheese (it goes all brown and bubbly).

pop into the oven for 1 hour, and then remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes. enjoy!

notes: this is so delicious. fritz loves it, he gobbled up an entire piece for dinner last night! oh, and speaking of p90x, it’s been going great! papa fritz is down almost 30 pounds and i’m down 10. we both look and feel great. we are on our second cycle right now, in our 4th week of it…just in case you were interested.

fish tacos

this dish is beyond easy. it’s actually kind of comical that i’m going to tag it as a recipe, but i am. mainly because i’m lazy and insist upon taking credit for the silliest things.

anyway, fish tacos are awesome, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 years and/or are scared of seafood. this recipe (hahahaha) makes use of tilapia, a readily available north american fish. however, if you are my one british reader (hi frugal!) you can replace the tilapia with just about any white flaky fish. i’d avoid anything too delicate because it would be harder to work with, but really flavor should be your guide here. fritz likes the fish part of these, as well as the tortillas, but the sauce is a bit too spicy for him right now.

fish tacos

fish tacos

  • olive oil
  • 1 pound tilapia
  • 8 tortillas
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons goya adobo seasoning (you may want to sprinkle a little more on the fish once it’s cooked)
  • 1 cup sour cream (or half and half mixture of sour cream and greek yogurt)
  • 1 chipotle in adobo
  • napa cabbage

heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

chop your tilapia into 2-3″ chunks. it’s not important that they be uniform in shape,you are only cutting them up so that they cook faster. place the flour and 3 tablespoons of the adobo seasoning into a plastic zipper bag and then add the fish and shake well to coat. remove the fish from the bag being sure to knock off any extra flour. add the fish to the skillet and work in batches until the fish is all cooked. ( it will only need about 5 minutes total to cook.) set the cooked fish aside. (you may want to sprinkle a little more of the adobo seasoning on the fish at this point, it’s to taste, but i usually do.)

meanwhile finely shred your napa cabbage and set aside. finely mince your chipotle pepper and place in a small bowl. add the sour cream and mix well to combine.

to assemble the tacos spread some of the chipotle sour cream on the inside of a tortilla and then top with fish and shredded cabbage. roll up, serve, and enjoy the chorus of “mmmm!”

notes: tonight i’m making these but i’m modifying them to be even simpler. i am just going to broil the fish (which i will sprinkle with the adobo and place on a piece of parchment) and then flake it into the tortilla.