• Hi, welcome to Maria Erin Photography! I am a Michigan native located in Grand Rapids and I offer Lifestyle and Garden photography in West Michigan and beyond.

    What should you know about me? I am a wife and a mom of two. I am an athlete with a 13.1 badge and working on triathlete status. I enjoy sewing, but gave up on knitting and crochet. I love to watch TV shows on Netflix. I am a Hope College graduate (Go Dutch!). I am terrified of spiders. And most importantly - I love Jesus.

    Being a mom is my first and most important job, but telling stories through photography is my creative outlet. Check out the Contact link so I can tell your story!

Chicken {Bacon} Corn Chowder | Maria Cooks

Every once in a while I’ll really nail a recipe. It’s usually somewhat of a unicorn event because I don’t follow recipes. I mean, I use them as a guide, but following a recipe from start to finish is something of a painful activity for me.

So yesterday after Husband headed to the gym I thought, “Hey, let’s make chicken corn chowder, it will be fun!” And this is how it happened.

 

I diced up 12oz of nitrate free, thick sliced bacon (from Aldi) and threw it into a large stock pot. I popped one of my Perdue chicken tender packets (from Costco, just over a pound) into the microwave to thaw it. Then I peeled and diced 2 large carrots and 2 medium russet potatoes and threw them into a bowl. I also tossed a couple handfuls (pre-diced and frozen) green onions into the bowl.

By this time the chicken was done thawing. I drizzled some Olive Oil into a pan on a med burner. After putting the chicken in the pan I sprinkled with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper and put the lid on. You’ll want to flip the chicken once it’s cooked on one side.

About this time, the bacon was nice and crisp. I scooped the bacon out with a slotted spoon into a bowl lined with paper towel. I then ate several pieces of bacon. As did my children. And later my husband. Because bacon.

Now you must leave the bacon fat in the pan. Do not, for the love of bacon, toss it out. This is a crucial step to deliciousness. With the burner on medium, toss that bowl of onions, carrots, and potatoes into the pot. Here you will also add your seasonings (measurements are approximate, I don’t measure, I just toss/sprinkle/shake) – I add fresh cracked black pepper (1/4 tsp), kosher salt (1/2 tsp), garlic powder (1/2 tsp), and a pinch of thyme (add more to taste). Stir it, stir it good until everything is well coated in the bacon fat. Let it cook for about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour over the veggies and stir well. The brown coating on the bottom of the pan? That is GOOD. Don’t fear the brown bits. Let it cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Then you are going to pour in 4 cups of chicken broth. Make sure to stir well and scrape up all those delicious little bits off the bottom of the pan. Add frozen corn (I love the Costco Frozen Organic). Lots of corn. How much? I have no idea. 3 or 4 cups?? If your name is Phil and you’re my husband, there is no such thing as too much corn in your corn chowder.

By this time your chicken should be done. Shred it with a couple forks into roughly bite size pieces. Turn off the stove and keep it in the pan covered.

You’ll need to let your broth and veggies cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. You want the carrots and potatoes to be tender. Once they get to this point, you will take out a few ladle fulls of veggies and broth and put them into a blender. VERY CAREFULLY blend these. It’s hot and steamy and you don’t want to melt your face off with exploding soup. I usually cover the blender with a kitchen towel and start with a gentle pulse and eventually set it to low until it’s creamy and smooth. Toss this back into the soup.

You are now ready to add your chicken to the soup. Add and stir. The final step to preparation is 1 cup of a  heavy cream, half & half, or whole milk. Whatever your flavor is. I used half&half. Hey, I never said it was a HEALTHY soup.

Your soup is now done and ready to eat. Ladle into a bowl and top with shredded cheese and those tasty bacon bits you previously made. You know, if there are any left. :) And finally… ENJOY. (Not pictured: Bacon because this is the leftover soup. There wasn’t any leftover bacon.)

I think it took me about an hour or less to make the soup. It can be even faster to make if you use a rotisserie chicken.

Pictures to come… because I didn’t take any yesterday. So I’ll have to make the soup again (darn) and take pictures then :)

Ingredients
12oz Bacon
4 cups Chicken Broth
2 large Carrots peeled and diced
3-4 cups Frozen Corn
2 medium Russet Potatoes peeled and diced
1/4 diced Green Onions
1 lb Chicken Breasts (or 1 rotisserie chicken)
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
Pinch Dried Thyme
1 cup Half & Half

Ashley + Nathan | Grand Rapids Wedding Photography

I love wedding season. Every wedding we photograph has a different way of amazing me because each couple brings their own special touch to it. The last wedding that I photographed with Jamie Geysbeek Photography was, of course, no exception.

The ceremony can be challenging to photograph due to space and lighting constraints – some churches are just really poorly lit. It can be frustrating, but you dial up the ISO and deal with it. Well, our last wedding was at St. Nicholas Antiochan Orthodox Church and it was a.ma.zing. All churches should have that many windows!

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First the Bride had to get ready.

And the details had to be photographed. Look at this amazing door in the church!


And then the ceremony could start.

And Nathan could finally lay eyes on Ashley in all her bridal beauty.

As the kids looked on… someday they’ll understand. :)

You  may recognize one of the Bridesmaids… Dani (on the Bride’s right) was one of our Brides last year!


And of course they all gathered together to celebrate becoming Mr. and Mrs.

Thank you for the privilege of capturing your special day. Congratulations!

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Megan + Benjamin | Grand Rapids Wedding Photography

 

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure, as always, of working with Jamie Geysbeek to document a gorgeous Grand Rapids Wedding. Megan and Benjamin surrounded themselves with all their best friends and family on a beautiful day in June. With pink and coral, it was a bright and cheery day.


Ridin’ Bikes | Grand Rapids Photography

Today I had the privilege of photographing a beautiful wedding in Hudsonville with Jamie Geysbeek Photography. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos to share with you because I gave my memory cards to Jamie, so… keep an eye on his Facebook page :)

While I was away, Dad took the kiddos to see The LEGO Movie for the second time. June 17 apparently can’t come soon enough, we all love that movie! Following the movie the kids decided to take epic naps. And by epic I mean they woke up at 7pm. Can you say bedtime disaster? It’s 10:45 and they are actually still awake. But I digress.

I kicked the kids outside and they decided it was bike riding time. Since my camera was handy I figured it was about time I got photos of them on their bikes.

Ryan has this little balance bike that he loves, despite his HULK SMASH moment with it a few weeks ago. I’m not kidding, he picked up that little bike full off the ground and threw it down while yelling, “I don’t WANNA wide dat biquil!” Ryan calls bikes/bicycles “biquils.” It’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.

He’s getting really good on the balance bike. I told him if he picks up his feet he’ll go downhill really fast, but he wasn’t on board with that idea yet.

Katie has this totally awesome white, black, and PINK bike with training wheels. She got it for her birthday a few weeks ago. I can’t get over how big the bike is and, more so, how well it fits her. Katie also insisted on getting a basket for the bike so she could put her stuffed animals in it.

She’s super proud of it and finally getting the hang of it. Tonight she figured out the handbrake and going down(gradual)hill. Poor girl is still working on the leg strength for pedaling uphill, but she’s getting there. I just have to give her a little nudge every once in while.

Hopefully the kids can get the hang of their bikes soon, because they’ve been asking to bike to the park. Being that it’s a little over 1.5 miles, we are so not ready for that yet!

 

 

Indian Lake | Grand Rapids Photography

On Sunday the kids and I road tripped down to Indian Lake.

I grew up visiting this nice, little lake in Vicksburg, Michigan. My grandpa and his wife Kaye lived on one side of the lake and my grandma and her friend Betty lived on the other. I remember many a chilly Memorial Day wrapped in one of Kaye’s big, warm blankets laying in the hammock or floating in the pontoon boat around the lake.

I also remember the hot Independence Days catching minnows, swimming in the fresh water, and zooming around the lake in a tube. My cousins and I would play croquet on the lawn and Little Mermaid in the water. My brothers would play tennis on the neighbor’s court. I would try, but I never lasted long – sports with balls never were my thing.

There was always plenty of grilling and baked beans, lemonade and sun tea to go around.

None of my family live on the lake anymore, nor have they for years. It was a sad moment when I realized those days of playing in the lake were over.

Fortunately, there is one, little vestige of attachment to Indian Lake. You see, my uncle Larry grew up in a little house on Indian Lake, just a few doors down from where my grandpa lived. He bought that house.

He gets up there a couple times a year and we managed to catch him and Aunt Anne on just such a visit. The kids had a ball playing in the water and the weather was perfect. We even had a chance to visit my grandma and eat some of her delicious carrot cake.

We are so blessed to have such wonderful family and beautiful nature to enjoy. Thank you for having us down, Uncle Larry and Aunt Anne!

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