Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans [and learning to rest in the chaos]

Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser

Happy Monday! I don’t always enjoy Mondays, but I’m excited for a fresh start this week. Last week was a doozy: stomach bugs, loads of laundry, a family diet consisting of bananas, applesauce, and rice, and lots of time shampooing carpets. Thankfully, though, everyone’s healthy again, and my carpets are cleaner than they’ve been since we moved in six years ago.

Even more than starting fresh physically, I’m ready to restart emotionally and mentally. I didn’t exactly handle the chaos of last week very well. Come to think of it, I don’t handle chaos in general very well. And in our house, chaos is like the toys on the floor—always there, even when I clean. And then when I clean, when I deal with the chaos, another layer lies beneath the surface—like the toys under the couch that go unnoticed until I pick up the rest of the room.

I too often find myself looking for calm and ease around the corner. It’ll just get easier when we’re healthy or if I can get organized or if I hustle a littler harder. My house will be clean if I pick up the toys, life will feel less chaotic if I get through this week.

That may be true to a degree. Some seasons roll by more smoothly than others. Nights are certainly calmer when not interrupted by sick kids. But I too often put my trust in the idea that “someday it’ll get easier” or “if I just get this done” or “hustle a little harder.” At various points, those phrases may ring true, but they’re not strong enough to put all my weight behind. They’re like trying to grab a leaf when you’re climbing a tree. The leaves are there for a reason, they have their place and their purpose. But they’ll never hold you up.

Psalm 127:1-2 says:

“Unless the LORD builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

I don’t have to hustle and strive and anxiously toil. Instead, I can rest, physically and in every other way. My soul can be at rest. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “The Lord is mainly to be rested in...Faith brings calm with it, and banishes the disturbers who both by day and by night murder peace.”

Friends, take a breath. Soak that in. Even in extraordinary messes or mundane chaos, we can know calm, peace, and rest. We can go to bed with unfinished to-do lists. We can live with purpose rather than spinning around on a hamster wheel. We can do the work God has given us to do and no more. He doesn’t ask us to be sovereign. He’s got that one covered.

This week, I’m trying to take a step back from the anxious toil, from the laying in bed awake thinking about all that went undone, from endlessly longing for the elusive “someday when it gets easier.” Because there’s rest to be had now. I don’t want to miss it.

Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans - Sarah J. Hauser

Back to normal this week also means I’m back in the kitchen, and lately sheet pan dinners have been my jam.

For this recipe, everything except the balsamic glaze gets cooked on one pan, making for easy cleanup. The glaze takes hardly any effort to prepare and can even be made in advance. It’s a great meal when you want something simple, fresh, healthy, and flavorful.

Any favorite sheet pan dinners in your repertoire? I’m always looking to add more to our rotation, so let me know in the comments below!


Sheet Pan Balsamic Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes + Green Beans
Yields 4 servings

4 (5-ounce) salmon fillets
1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes, halved if large
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-1 ½-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Remove the salmon from the refrigerator, and allow it to come to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Add the cherry tomatoes, green beans, and garlic to the pan.* Add 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss everything together so the vegetables are evenly coated. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

While the vegetables roast, in a small saucepan whisk together 1 tablespoon of oil, the vinegar, honey, and mustard. Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mixture reduces and thickens. Set at least half the glaze aside for serving.

Drizzle the final tablespoon of oil onto the salmon fillets, and sprinkle each fillet with a pinch of salt and pepper. Lightly brush some of the balsamic glaze onto each piece of salmon.

When the green beans and tomatoes have roasted for 15 minutes, remove them from the oven. Push the vegetables aside to make room for the salmon. Add the salmon to the sheet pan and return the pan to the oven. Bake for about 8-10 more minutes. The salmon should be cooked to medium, the tomatoes should burst, and the green beans should be tender yet slightly crisp.

Transfer the salmon and vegetables to servings dishes or plates. Drizzle on the reserved balsamic glaze, and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Top with fresh parsley. Serve alongside rice or quinoa if desired. Enjoy!

*The sheet pan needs to be large enough for everything to fit in a single layer. If the vegetables get too crowded, divide this recipe onto two pans.


Weeknight Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes + Spinach [and friends gathering as family]

Weeknight Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes + Spinach - Sarah J. Hauser

We sat around the table together, filling our plates with piles of angel hair pasta topped with homemade sauce. A basket of garlic bread made its way around the table, and we dished out salads with romaine, tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots.

It was the beginning of my senior year of high school, and several friends and I decided it’d be fun to hang out on Monday nights to eat dinner and watch football. A few of us actually planned to watch the game, but mostly, we wanted to hang out. (Despite the early onset of senioritis, we did promise our parents we’d finish homework during commercial breaks.) I thought it was the perfect idea: dinner with my friends, study help afterwards, and a little football.

With my five older siblings out of the house by that point, my friends filled the empty chairs as if they’d sat there for the last 17 years. And we ate. Just my mom, dad, me, and a ragtag group of high school kids.

The family routine didn’t change much. Most people at that table weren’t actually family members, but especially on those evenings, they felt like family. We gathered around the table, prayed over the meal, ate, talked, laughed, and then finished the night off by spreading our homework out in front of the television. We interrupted the commentators’ play calling with questions about calculus (I had many and should never have taken that class), and halftime meant we scrambled to read a few pages for English class. Eventually everyone packed up and headed home, stomachs filled with good food and minds energized by friendship and conversation.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Weeknight Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes + Spinach - Sarah J. Hauser
Weeknight Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes + Spinach - Sarah J. Hauser-12.jpg
Weeknight Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes + Spinach - Sarah J. Hauser
Weeknight Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes + Spinach - Sarah J. Hauser
Weeknight Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes + Spinach - Sarah J. Hauser

Read the full essay and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!


Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser

Lately the questions, "What can the baby eat?" and "What will my toddlers eat with minimal complaining?" seem to drive my meal planning. I feel like I've lost a bit of my joy in the kitchen. I still love cooking, of course, and I'm grateful I even have the luxury of choice in what I make for dinner. But I've found myself stuck in what's practical. I miss asking, "What can I make that nourishes body and soul? What can I make that delights?"

This dish is an answer to those questions. It's nourishing for body and soul, and it's one of my new favorite salads. It's got a slight kick from the arugula and Dijon but then richness from the goat cheese and sweetness from the cherries. Hearty, healthy, sweet, and savory.

And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food’…And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.
— (Genesis 1:29-31)

I generally serve my kids at least a version of what we eat for dinner, but my twins often do better eating the components of a dish separated. For this one, I'll give them a scoop of plain quinoa, a handful of walnuts and dried cherries, and then add chicken or whatever else to their plates. That way, they try new foods and eat what we eat, but they also have something a little more palatable. (I don't know if that's the right way to feed toddlers. I could be doing it all wrong, but hey, we're all just figuring this out as we go, right?)

It's easy to get bogged down in the utilitarian that we forget the beauty of variety and the joy of cooking. After all, our God could have only provided the basics needed to keep us alive, but instead, he gave us thousands of foods with endless combinations. So every once in a while, regardless of how your kids eat, treat yourself to something you love, something that delights. After all, I think when we delight in God's good gifts, we can taste that the Giver himself is good. 

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser
Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries - Sarah J. Hauser

Rosemary Quinoa Salad with Walnuts + Cherries
Yields 4 entree-sized portions

1 cup quinoa
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Arugula or other salad greens (optional)

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly under cold water. (Quinoa has a natural coating that can taste bitter or soapy, but you can get rid of this coating by rinsing it well.) Add the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water to a medium saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high, and bring the water to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10-15 minutes. 

Remove the pot from the heat, and let it stand for about 5 minutes (keeping it covered!). Uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool while you prep the dressing and other ingredients. 

For the dressing, in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, add the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and a pinch of black pepper. Cover and shake vigorously until all the ingredients are mixed well. 

In a medium bowl, add the cherries, walnuts, and rosemary. Add the cooled quinoa to the bowl, and stir everything together. Pour in about 1/4 cup of the dressing. Mix well. Add more dressing if desired, reserving some for serving. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (I added about another ¼ teaspoon each of kosher salt and black pepper). 

Transfer the quinoa salad to a serving dish. Top with crumbled goat cheese, if using. Serve on its own or over arugula or other salad greens.* 

Drizzle each portion with some of the remaining dressing and garnish with fresh rosemary. Enjoy!

*Rather than serving the quinoa on top of greens, you can also add a few handfuls of arugula right into the quinoa mixture. Pour the rest of the salad dressing on it, and toss well. The arugula will wilt slightly with the dressing, so serve immediately. 


Sheet Pan Balsamic Pork Chops with Roasted Veggies [and the messy practice of eating together]

Sheet Pan Balsamic Pork Chops with Roasted Veggies - Sarah J. Hauser

I handed my two-year-old twins their plastic plates—the purple ones with the three sections so no food touches another kind of food. To my son, mixing items would be on par with the zombie apocalypse. It’s also convenient they’re the same color. No fighting over who gets blue and who gets green. Everyone gets purple.

At least we sidestepped that crisis today.

Still, they complained about the tiny pieces of cucumber I tried to sneak in. During the witching hour frenzy, I overcooked the burgers, and sad patties of meat were poked, prodded, and eventually ignored.They only ate a few pieces of potatoes. Potatoes are a plant, though, right? I count that as a dinnertime win.

My husband and I eventually sat down with our own plates, and before we could take a bite, the kids announced they were done. They squirmed in their chairs at the table for a few more minutes, although not by choice. I was determined to get everyone in their seats together at least long enough for us to say a quick mealtime prayer—a goal I used to think was realistic.

My daughter kept taking my husband’s fork and threw a tantrum when she couldn’t have it. Missing her nap earlier this afternoon only made her strong will stronger. She and my husband left the table. My six-month-old grabbed his bowl of puréed sweet potatoes while I wasn’t looking and slathered himself in them. I divvied out more food for my toddler son, the baby started screaming because he was still hungry, and I tried to hold back my own tears.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Sheet Pan Balsamic Pork Chops with Roasted Veggies - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Pork Chops with Roasted Veggies - Sarah J. Hauser
Sheet Pan Balsamic Pork Chops with Roasted Veggies - Sarah J. Hauser

Full post and recipe instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!