October 27, 2010

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful...

This photo was taken last Friday...as in, 5 days ago. 

Steve and I took the afternoon off (well, he took the afternoon off...I don't work on Fridays), and we took the boat out. 

The weather was perfect: 65 degrees, not a cloud in the sky...the water was like glass. 

We floated around on Lake Superior for a while, and then pulled up at the end of Park Point and walked on the beach, barefoot in the warm sand. 

It was fantastic.

And it made me feel lucky, and blessed, and happy to live in such a beautiful place.

And then this is what I woke up to today: 

This is the shot from my patio door, looking at the southeast corner of my deck. 

5 days later. 

Yes, that is 3 inches of SNOW covering my grill and patio furniture. 

Yes, I did wear winter boats, a winter jacket, and mittens to work today.

Yes, it is only October 27th. 

Yes, on top of a winter storm, we also had a wind advisory and a flood advisory last night.

Yes, I do love living in this frozen tundra from hell beautiful, diverse climate. 

Yes, I did make chicken stock last night, in preparation for the large batch of chicken noodle soup that I am making tonight. 

Send wine.

October 25, 2010

Monkey Bread with Katy

A few months ago, my mom, a few of her sisters, my grandmother, and a few cousins were in Duluth. We took my Aunt Sherry, who was diagnosed with ALS early this year, on a scenic train ride up the north shore.

It was lovely.

Except that they served our wine in plastic glasses. Which was weird.

Despite how beautiful the town is that I live in (and I may be just a little biased), we don't get a lot of family coming to stay.

I wanted them to have a great time in Duluth.

So...I invited everyone over for brunch the following morning!

Have you seen my house?

Its about 800 square feet.

There were 10 of us.

It was tight.

But luckily it was a lovely day outside, and I have a large deck.

Just to make things even more difficult for myself, I also asked Steve and the kids to join us!

Anyway, to make a long story short...

One of the dishes I made was Monkey Bread, from Pastor Ryan on The Pioneer Woman website.

Steve's daughter Katy loved it.

I mean, who wouldn't? It's sticky and sweet and warm and delicious.

It also has 2 sticks of butter in it.

For real.

And she has been bugging me to make it ever since.

But my thighs have been begging me not to.

I finally gave in.

We had fun making it and I think that my thighs have forgiven me.

As long as I promise not to make it again soon.

Here is Katy, quartering the biscuits. Out of a can. Yes, you heard me.

Here she is, assembling the pieces into the pan once they were coated in cinnamon and sugar, so that I could pour over the hot melted butter and brown sugar. Yup.

And this is what the boys did while we slaved away in the kitchen!

Oh yeah baby. I actually ended up throwing it back into the oven for a few more minutes because it wasn't as brown as I wanted it.

But it was so very delicious.

Let the dark side seduce you.

Make this.


And love it.

Monkey Bread (feeds 6 - 8 monkeys) adapted from The Pioneer Woman
  • 3 cans of non-flaky buttermilk biscuits (2 if you use the big ones)...or you can make your own
  • 2 sticks of butter (gulp)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, slowly melt butter and brown sugar, stirring occassionally to combine. 

Quarter each biscuit, and toss into a large zip-top bag. When you have quartered all 3 cans and put them into the bag, add the cup of white sugar and cinnamon. Toss to combine (and this will also prevent the biscuits from sticking together).

Sprinkle pecans (if using) into an ungreased pan (you can use a glass pan like I did, or a bundt cake pan). Dump the biscuit chunks into the pan, and pour the butter/sugar mixture over top.

Bake it for 30 - 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let it sit for 10 - 15 minutes, and then invert it onto a plate or platter. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

October 21, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Here is a super simple and delicious sandwich that tastes like a buffalo chicken wing, except better because of the lack of fried parts and the addition of pepper-jack cheese! You can modify the recipe for however many servings you need!

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich (makes 3 sandwiches)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (my package had 3)
  • 1/2 cup Franks red hot, or your favorite wing sauce, divided
  • 3 buns/hogies/kaiser rolls
  • pepperjack cheese
  • lettuce (optional)
  • tomato (optional)
  • ranch or bleu cheese dressing
Toss 1/4 cup of the wing sauce with the chicken breasts and marinate for at least 1 hour. Preheat grill to about 375 degrees. Cook chicken breasts until done all the way through. Assemble sandwiches: bun, chicken, lettuce and tomato (if using). Top with remaining wing sauce and ranch or bleu cheese dressing. Enjoy!

Printable Recipes 

A Week of Change


It has been a long week.

Today is my Friday, and I am looking forward to the weekend even more than usual.

Forgive me if this post is a bit morose, but this week has been emotionally exhausting.

As you may have seen in my previous post, Steve's children's dog, Tick, died on Saturday night.

He was with the kids' mother (the kids and Steve were at my house), and ran off to chase a deer.

Somehow he must have got his leg stuck or caught while he was running...she took him to the vet and found that his leg was broken, and his hip joint shattered.

The surgery was going to be too expensive, so she had him put to sleep.

Of course, the kids were crushed.

Chris commented to Steve on Saturday night that it felt like his parents getting divorced all over again.

Monday came, and after over 7 hours in mediation with lawyers and social workers, Steve emerged with happy news:

He was awarded almost 50% custody, which means an additional 4 days a month during the school year, an extra 6 days a month over the summer from what he had! (let it be known, for the record, that he was actually awarded 50% custody by the Family Law attorney and social worker, but that she-who-must-not-be-named would not comply. In order to avoid a long and expensive court battle that would involve the kids having to testify, Steve settled for 44%)

The kids were ecstatic. This is what they have been begging for over the last year and a half.

I was ecstatic for them. It should have been 50%, but at least it was better than what they had together, which wasn't enough.

But everything that affects them, that affects Steve...it affects me too.

And suddenly that is 4 extra days a month (6 in the summer), that Steve is with the kids, and not with me.

And I can see them, sure.

I can hang out.

I can tag along.

I can pretend like it doesn't suck that I have to go home to an empty house and sleep alone.

I know that it will get better, eventually.

Sometimes I really appreciate the time to myself.

And I know that it's the best thing for the kids to be eased into our relationship, instead of having it forced on them.

I know they need time to get used to the situation. To get used to me.

So here I am...a largely selfish person, put into a situation which demands that I patient, giving, and above all things - selfless.

Talk about life lessons, all crammed into a very short amount of time.

I'm not perfect, and sometimes I pout. Sometimes I think, "What about me?" or "When is it going to be my turn?".

Sometimes I struggle so much that I want to walk away. Want to find a path of less resistance. Want to be taken care of. To be the 1st priority in Steve's life.

But then I wonder...is that really what I want?

Do I really want a partner who would sacrifice the needs of his children in order to take care of my every whim?

It's no secret that I am a princess.

But do I really want to be the kind of person that can't look beyond what she needs, in order to take care of others? And not just random strangers, but innocent kids that so obviously love and need their father.

It is a balance.

Just like with every relationship, it is a fragile, delicate balance.

I don't envy Steve, being in the middle. Trying to take care of 3 kids and a girlfriend that beg for his undivided time and attention whenever they can get it.

It's hard. For everyone.

Sometimes it flat out sucks.

But sometimes it seems totally worth it.

Like Tuesday night, when Katy asked if they could take Kempton home with them...I knew they were missing Tick, and I had yoga anyway, so I let them take him for the evening.

A win-win situation. The kids got to love a dog again, and Kempton got to be tortured by children (just kidding). 

Or last night, I went and helped them carve pumpkins.

Andy invited me to his birthday party.

Chris told me that when he went to see a therapist, he told her that he liked me.

Katy started telling me that she loved me, and last night she called me her friend.


Here are some pics from pumpkin carving last night:

Andy, with his almost finished pumpkin...


At this point Andy stole my camera and was taking random pictures. Chris had soccer practice so he got home late.

Andy's pic of the spaghetti that Steve made for us for dinner...

And finally, just as I was getting ready to leave, Katy decided she needed a nice long hug.

We still have a long way to go, but I feel like we are slowly moving forward. I wish that the kids didn't have to deal with any of it - the divorce, their dad having someone new in his life, their dog dying...I wish none of us did.

...but I feel like they are going to be ok.

And I think I am too.

October 18, 2010

RIP Tick

"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."
    -Robert Louis

"Many who have spent a lifetime in it can tell us less of love than the child that lost a dog yesterday."
   -Thornton Wilder 

You will be greatly missed! 

October 14, 2010

Chef Salad

I feel like I have been posting a lot of comfort food lately.

I know that my ass looks like I've been eating a lot of comfort food lately.

And maybe like I've been sitting on it a little too much.

So today, I am going to post a relatively healthy recipe!

Er...even if it isn't low in fat/calories after you add the meat and cheese...and dressing...

At least you will be getting your vegetables!

It's totally customizable too.

Add whatever veggies you have/want...peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, sprouts, etc.

Add whatever meat you want...turkey, ham, bacon, chicken, etc.

Use whatever lettuce you like.

For the below pictures, I used romaine hearts and spinach; tomatoes; cooked wild rice; ham, turkey and bacon; and cheese!

It was definitely missing hard-boiled eggs though.

I'm not going to post a formal recipe, because really? I think you might know how to make a salad.

I just wanted to give you a dinner idea.

Plus, I made chicken fajitas on the grill last night, and I am making jambalya tonight (per Steve's request)...so I don't have much for new material. This one is from the vault.

Enjoy it anyway!

Start with your base...I used romaine hearts and spinach.

Then add your meat...turkey, ham and bacon...

Then once you realize that you should probably put something other than meat on your salad, move your meat over and add fresh tomatoes and cooked wild rice (if you want).

Top with cheese and enjoy with the dressing of your choice! YUM!

October 11, 2010

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction


This recipe puts together 4 of my favorite foods of all time.

Vine ripened tomatoes.

Delicious fresh mozzarella cheese.

Pungent basil leaves.

Balsamic reduction.

Oh my.

I made this version with cherry tomatoes, so I decided to cut the mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and toss everything together in a bowl. Delicious and everything is distributed evenly.


You can also use larger tomatoes, and layer tomato slices with slices of mozzarella and leaves of basil, and then drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top. This makes for a prettier presentation, since the cheese likes to soak up the balsamic and turn a little brown.


Either way, this is wonderful and super easy.

I could just eat the balsamic reduction by the spoonful.

Here is the recipe:

Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction (serves 8 as an appetizer)
  • 2 lbs ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup of basil, chiffonaded
  • 1 cup of balsamic vinegar
For balsamic reduction:
Put vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer until reduced by about half. The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools...if it gets too thick, stir in a tablespoon of warm water.

Combine tomatoes, cheese and basil in a bowl. Pour cooled balsamic reduction over and toss to combine. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

Tara's Going Away Party, Part I

Good afternoon!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday.

Steve and I got home from a visit to Kansas City late last night, so I am tired today.

However, the Vikings play Monday night football tonight, so it'll be no rest for the weary.

I can feel your pity for me.

I'll get those pictures uploaded and posted just as soon as possible.

In the meantime....

As I think I've mentioned in previous posts, my friend Tara recently moved to Los Angeles, and I have been waiting to do a post about her going away party until I get pictures from our canoe trip.

However, the pictures must be unflattering, illegal, highly inappropriate, or top-secret classified because I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to acquire them.

So - I have decided to just post the ones that I have...hence the "Part I" in the title of this post. If I do have the fortune of obtaining said photos at a later date, I will construct a "Part II"...until then...

The first event of the going away party/weekend was a ladies night dinner at Marisa's house. We had sushi and copious amounts of wine. It was delightful.

Here is the group...minus Marisa, who was taking the picture...Tanya, Gina, Lindsey (me), Tara, Katie and Erin.

Mmmmmm, sushi!

A familiar site...Tara with her camera

Erin and Katie, enjoying the edamame

Tara enjoyed the edamame too!


Time to open presents! This is a life jacket for your wine bottle...you know, just in case.


We had a great time with lots of drinking and bonding. Thanks Marisa for letting us use your house and thanks Tara for buying the sushi!

For the second leg of our party weekend extravaganza, we got up in the morning and met at the Delta Diner, in Iron River, WI. The diner is a restored Silk City Diner and the food is amazing.

The ladies outside the diner...from left to right: Tanya, Tara, me, Marisa, Erin.

After breakfast...Eli, Tayna, Tara (showing off her full stomach), Marisa and Steve.

Tara getting a wet willy from Eli while I'm chewing on a toothpick. As a side note, my head looks huge in this picture.

Miss you Tara!!!

After we left the diner, we headed to the outfitter to pick up our canoes...

.................to be continued (hopefully).......................................

October 6, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday Lyndi and Tara!

I realized in the shower this morning that didn't do blog posts for two of my favorite ladies on their birthday!

I'm sorry ladies!

It's not like I wasn't thinking of you!

I am a bad friend.

Forgive me?

Tara Lana and Lyndi,

I miss you both like crazy. I wish I would have been there to celebrate your birthdays with you! I hope that this year is the best yet for both of you - you both deserve it!

That's Lyndi on the left, with her friend Alex. I don't have very many of my picture with me at work, so I didn't have one of the two of us together. Lyndi is getting married to my brother next summer, and I am very lucky that she is going to be my sister! Love you Lyndi!

Tara and I at her going away party (which I haven't posted pics from because I don't have all of them...maybe I'll just post what I have...), she recently moved to LA and I miss her very much. In case you are wondering, she has a piece of edamame in her mouth. Love you Tara Lana! Wish you were here!

October 5, 2010

Deviled Eggs (with a kick!), and How to Hard Boil Eggs.

I have a couple of confessions...

Some of these things, you might already know.

Some are going to knock your socks off!

Not really, I just like to be dramatic.

1) I love Miracle Whip. I know - the foodie police are on their way to get me. But whatever, it's true. Mayo is kinda yucky to me, while Miracle Whip is zingy and delicious. Deal with it.

2) I have serious problems making hard boiled eggs. Don't laugh! I know that for most people, this probably comes as easy as tying your shoe. But it almost never works for me...with the exception of this time - and that still wasn't perfect - but it was my best result ever. The egg white part almost always comes off with the shell when I peel them. Which is fine if you are making egg salad, but not when you are making deviled eggs and people are going to see the egg white! I have researched countless recipes to figure out what I am doing wrong...and I think I am finally on the right path. The recipe I used is below.

3) I have a problem leaving any recipe alone. Whether it be one that I created, one that is tried/tested/true, or one that I've never tried before. I can't help it - it's an illness. I rarely make something the exact same way twice (current exceptions of this rule for the moment would be my Pulled Pork and Coleslaw recipe and my Spicy Shredded Chicken recipe...but this could change at any time), and I almost never try a recipe exactly the way it's written.

Which brings us to today's recipe...Deviled Eggs.

I just couldn't leave well enough alone.

So, I combined my love for Miracle Whip with my love for a little spice...and viola! Deviled Eggs (with a kick!)!

First things first:

Hard-boiled but not yet peeled...oh the suspense! Did it work? Will they turn out? Did I screw it up again?

 Whoo-hoo! Look at that beauty! Perfect. Here's how:

How to Hard Boil Eggs:

1) If possible, use old eggs. Old eggs peel better than fresh eggs (or so they tell me). I didn't say rotten eggs...just eggs that are almost to their expiration date.

2) Place the eggs in a single layer in the bottom of a saucepan, cover with cold water to 2 inches above the eggs.

3) Bring to a boil. Cover pan and turn off heat (but keep them on the hot burner), let sit for 10 minutes.

4) When the 10 minutes is up, remove eggs from hot water and place them into an ice water bath. Leave them here until you are sure that they are cool (adding ice if necessary).

5) Peel and use for Deviled Eggs (with a kick!)...or however you wish. Recipe below.

Never mind my deformed hand. This is the egg yolks getting all mixed up.

Yum. I could eat this with a spoon. I know that might make some of you gag, but I freakin' LOVE deviled eggs.

Overexposed picture, but you get the drift...

Underexposed picture, but who cares? These eggs were delicious. Steve and I ate the entire batch ourselves. In one night. I don't want to talk about it. Here's the recipe:

Deviled Eggs (with a kick!) serves about 8 as an appetizer (unless you are like us and just eat the whole plate yourself)

  • one dozen eggs, hardboiled and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 2 tablespoons Miracle Whip (don't hate)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • cayenne and paprika for garnish
Slice each egg in half. Scoop out yolk and place in a medium sized bowl. Set egg whites aside. Mix mayo, Miracle Whip, mustard, Worcestershire and curry powder in with the egg yolks until relatively smooth. Spoon mixture back into egg whites. Lick bowl (optional). Sprinkle cayenne and paprika on liberally for garnish and move to a serving platter. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe