French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream [plus an essay about being seen and an invite to the C+C Mother's Day Brunch!]

French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast

We slide into the diner booth, scooting along the faux leather benches as our server hands us an impossibly large menu. My husband sits next to me and my dad in the seat across from us. Going to a place like this reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in New Jersey where diners are about as common as Starbucks in the Chicago suburbs. There's one on every corner, each with giant, plastic-covered menus showcasing all kinds of omelettes, skillets, French toast, crepes, sandwiches, and anything else you could possibly think to eat for breakfast or lunch.

I scan the menu as we catch up about my husband’s job and my dad’s new house. I try to keep the conversation light, but my heart feels heavy—maybe even a little guilty. Having my dad and stepmom in town is a gift, but over the last week I’ve been so weary that I feel like I’ve missed out on being with them. I take another sip of my coffee and internally lament the fact that my stepmom had to stay home with my kids just so I could have a few minutes of uninterrupted conversation with my dad.

Our plates arrive, and we drizzle on syrup and request refills of coffee. My dad looks at me and asks the question I hoped to avoid. “How are you doing? Really?”

It’s the “really” that gets me. The addition of that little word tells me I can’t get away with a scripted answer. My emotions sit too close to the surface, and any effort to hide them proves futile.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs.

French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast
French Toast with Cherry Compote + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream #breakfast #brunch #frenchtoast

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


Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda [featuring FreshGround Roasting]

Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser

My three kids actually napped simultaneously yesterday. It was glorious. I don’t think that’s happened in at least six months, because my twins have dropped their nap for the most part—and it came back to bite us last night when they weren’t asleep until 10pm. But for one afternoon, I savored the quietness while my kiddos slept. And by savored, I mean that I didn’t do anything “productive” and read a book the entire time. I sat with my book (If You Only Knew by Jamie Ivey!) for over two hours, and I didn’t feel the least bit bad about it.

While I loved reading the whole time, what I enjoyed the most was resting without feeling guilty. I’m not good at that. I’ve talked in the past about my need to feel accomplished, but sometimes letting go of my to-do list proves to be an accomplishment in itself. I constantly battle this inner guilt that’s neither helpful nor even true. Rest isn’t all that restful when we sit there feeling bad about it the whole time. When we do let go of that guilt, there’s freedom and joy to be found. It’s like our soul can finally exhale.

Today I’m back to the to-do list. We needed groceries. The house needs to be cleaned. I have to get work done. That’s okay, because there’s been a break, a renewal, a physical and emotional refueling. I can work from the overflow rather than pouring from an empty cup. That is a gift.

Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser
Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda | Sarah J. Hauser

Need a little pick-me-up, or want to sip a fun drink while you dive into a favorite book? This Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda is perfect for that! You could also make it with decaf cold brew or add a splash of vodka for the grown-up version. Enjoy!


Cold Brew + Pomegranate Soda
Yields 1 drink

¼ cup pomegranate juice (make sure it’s 100% pomegranate juice)
¼ cup cold brew coffee (such as FreshGround’s Black Ice Brew)
2-4 teaspoons simple syrup
1-2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup sparkling water
Ice
Lemon slices for serving

Add the pomegranate juice, coffee, 2 teaspoons of simple syrup, and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to a glass filled with ice. Stir well until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Top with sparkling water to taste. (I use about a ½ cup of sparkling water.) Stir gently, and add more simple syrup or lemon juice if desired. Serve with a lemon slice and enjoy!


This post was created in partnership with FreshGround Roasting. All opinions are 100% my own.


Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail [and learning to play]

Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser

I sat at the kitchen table with a blue plastic bowl full of applesauce, spoon-feeding my son, Josiah. My three-year-old twins ran laps around the house, and for a few moments I savored the fact that they were playing well together. No fighting, no tantrums, no tears. I overheard whispers about superheroes, and I knew what was coming. They stomped upstairs to retrieve their blankets and within a minute stood next to me asking for help tying on capes.

I set down the baby spoon and knotted the corners of the blankets around their shoulders. Off they went shouting, “We’re superheroes!” I smiled—until I saw them carrying a third, larger blanket.

“Mommy! Be a superhero with us!”

Let me confess something: I am not good at playfulness. Silliness for the sake of it seems so unproductive. I need to plan dinner. Change diapers. Write that essay. Answer an email. Basically, I’m a maternal Scrooge.

Fortunately, my kids’ pleas got the best of me. I tied that blue and green quilt around my neck and chased them from the kitchen to the living room, then through the dining room. They laughed hysterically, as did their baby brother who didn’t seem to mind taking a break from eating to witness this hilarious spectacle.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser
Elderflower, Lemon + Rosemary Cocktail - Sarah J. Hauser

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


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.