Everything in balance 


We’re heading into a Minnesota winter, which always makes me want to hunker down…and eat. Combined with the tendency to overindulge at the holidays, and exercise less (no outdoor pool 😔), it’s easy to put on a few pounds.

Instead of trying to “will” my way through it, I’m resolving to take a new approach to embracing and accepting winter. When it comes to health habits, I am working “adventures” into our lives—trying new foods and restaurants, varying my exercises (I did starfishes this week at the gym!). Gotta do something to keep it interesting!

So 2 cool food discoveries this week:

  • Bulletproof coffee. Read more about this fad, which celebs like Jimmy Fallon and Gwenyth Paltrow swear by. It’s creamy, rich and nutty—with grassfed butter and coconut oil blended into it. I was flying high afterwards and see why people use it for a meal replacement (at 250 calories per serving it’s definitely an indulgence). The healthy fats are good for your brain and I definitely felt full afterwards. (FYI, Here in MN the restaurant Agra Culture sells it if you don’t want to track down the somewhat unusual ingredients).
  • Pomegranates. I have bought just the juice previously, had pom-flavored chocolate, cranberries etc, but I had never bought a fresh one until Fresh Thyme opened up near us this week and I was curious. Cutting it open, I quickly became fascinated with these little jewels and felt like a little monkey digging them out. It was truly fun. Tossed them on salads for some beauty and crunch. The boys were glad this superfood didn’t involve kale.

A reminder that food is fun, especially when you slow down to really experience its sensory aspects and keep an open mind. That, and Everything in balance. I’m justifying the coffee with pomegranates and starfishes. 🌟 

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Shepherd’s pie


I’m sorry. I don’t take this blogger photo thing as seriously as I should. It’s not pretty, but it’s good. 

A bit of backstory: I started blogging about 4 years ago when several baseball moms started bugging me to actually write down my recipes. It’s a concept, and I have never been one to be so formal. 

But then I got the idea that if I organized both my recipes and shopping lists that would be real value to working moms. I did that for a summer to test the idea and learned a ton about how people cook and grocery shop. The idea was solid (as proven out by services such as Blue Apron), but it didn’t really scratch the creativity itch for me. Nor did I really intend to make money at it.

Cooking is an art form. I just love sharing my tested recipes and even more joy when someone tells me they learned something new in the process (or tried a new ingredient). The blog serves that purpose for me. 

But in the past year or so, I have observed that we have a food consciousnesses crisis in this country. We have more, we consume more than we need, we waste more. And by “we” I certainly am generalizing. Americans don’t want to think about our food and where it came from or what purpose it serves our body. We are mindless consumers. And trained to be that way. 

That’s changing, but like most change, not fast enough. I do what I can in my little world to support that change—raising mindful eaters and sharing recipes with my small circle. I think I need to bring more of those cultural observations into the blog going forward, in addition to recipes and food travel notes. Thoughts welcome!!

Ironically, this recipe makes a massive amount of food that lasts at least 2 days (that’s eons in our house). But as winter sets in, we do need our comforts. All things in balance. 😉

Shepherd’s pie

  • 5lb potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 3/4c 1/2 &1/2 (or milk)
  • 1 stick butter
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey 
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables 
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Dash of cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper 

Boil potatoes in salted water til soft (about 20 min). While potatoes cook, sauté meats until brown, add onion and celery, cook til soft (about 5 minutes). Add seasonings, frozen vegetables and tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes and then remove bay leaf.

There are 3 keys to creamy, light mashed potatoes: 

  1. Never add cold liquids to hot potatoes (=glue)
  2. Don’t rinse potatoes, just let them air cool to a temperature you can handle. In this recipe you can let them sit awhile.
  3. Get a potato ricer. 

Microwave butter and cream for 1 minute. Add potatoes using ricer. Mix together, season with salt.

Place meat mixture on the bottom of large (10×14) baking dish, top with potatoes and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover with tinfoil, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, remove foil and cook another 10 min or so til top begins to brown.

Can be made ahead and/or frozen.

Shepherd’s pie


I’m sorry. I don’t take this blogger photo thing as seriously as I should. It’s not pretty, but it’s good. 

A bit of backstory: I started blogging about 4 years ago when several baseball moms started bugging me to actually write down my recipes. It’s a concept, and I have never been one to be so formal. 

But then I got the idea that if I organized both my recipes and shopping lists that would be real value to working moms. I did that for a summer to test the idea and learned a ton about how people cook and grocery shop. The idea was solid (as proven out by services such as Blue Apron), but it didn’t really scratch the creativity itch for me. Nor did I really intend to make money at it.

Cooking is an art form. I just love sharing my tested recipes and even more joy when someone tells me they learned something new in the process (or tried a new ingredient). The blog serves that purpose for me. 

But in the past year or so, I have observed that we have a food consciousnesses crisis in this country. We have more, we consume more than we need, we waste more. And by “we” I certainly am generalizing. Americans don’t want to think about our food and where it came from or what purpose it serves our body. We are mindless consumers. And trained to be that way. 

That’s changing, but like most change, not fast enough. I do what I can in my little world to support that change—raising mindful eaters and sharing recipes with my small circle. I think I need to bring more of those cultural observations into the blog going forward, in addition to recipes and food travel notes. Thoughts welcome!!

Ironically, this recipe makes a massive amount of food that lasts at least 2 days (that’s eons in our house). But as winter sets in, we do need our comforts. All things in balance. 😉

Shepherd’s pie

  • 5lb potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 3/4c 1/2 &1/2 (or milk)
  • 1 stick butter
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey 
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables 
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Dash of cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper 

Boil potatoes in salted water til soft (about 20 min). While potatoes cook, sauté meats until brown, add onion and celery, cook til soft (about 5 minutes). Add seasonings, frozen vegetables and tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes and then remove bay leaf.

There are 3 keys to creamy, light mashed potatoes: 

  1. Never add cold liquids to hot potatoes (=glue)
  2. Don’t rinse potatoes, just let them air cool to a temperature you can handle. In this recipe you can let them sit awhile.
  3. Get a potato ricer. 

Microwave butter and cream for 1 minute. Add potatoes using ricer. Mix together, season with salt.

Place meat mixture on the bottom of large (10×14) baking dish, top with potatoes and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover with tinfoil, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, remove foil and cook another 10 min or so til top begins to brown.

Can be made ahead and/or frozen.

Shepherd’s pie


I’m sorry. I don’t take this blogger photo thing as seriously as I should. It’s not pretty, but it’s good. 

A bit of backstory: I started blogging about 4 years ago when several baseball moms started bugging me to actually write down my recipes. It’s a concept, and I have never been one to be so formal. 

But then I got the idea that if I organized both my recipes and shopping lists that would be real value to working moms. I did that for a summer to test the idea and learned a ton about how people cook and grocery shop. The idea was solid (as proven out by services such as Blue Apron), but it didn’t really scratch the creativity itch for me. Nor did I really intend to make money at it.

Cooking is an art form. I just love sharing my tested recipes and even more joy when someone tells me they learned something new in the process (or tried a new ingredient). The blog serves that purpose for me. 

But in the past year or so, I have observed that we have a food consciousnesses crisis in this country. We have more, we consume more than we need, we waste more. And by “we” I certainly am generalizing. Americans don’t want to think about our food and where it came from or what purpose it serves our body. We are mindless consumers. And trained to be that way. 

That’s changing, but like most change, not fast enough. I do what I can in my little world to support that change—raising mindful eaters and sharing recipes with my small circle. I think I need to bring more of those cultural observations into the blog going forward, in addition to recipes and food travel notes. Thoughts welcome!!

Ironically, this recipe makes a massive amount of food that lasts at least 2 days (that’s eons in our house). But as winter sets in, we do need our comforts. All things in balance. 😉

Shepherd’s pie

  • 5lb potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 3/4c 1/2 &1/2 (or milk)
  • 1 stick butter
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey 
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 bag frozen mixed vegetables 
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne 
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Dash of cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper 

Boil potatoes in salted water til soft (about 20 min). While potatoes cook, sauté meats until brown, add onion and celery, cook til soft (about 5 minutes). Add seasonings, frozen vegetables and tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes and then remove bay leaf.

There are 3 keys to creamy, light mashed potatoes: 

  1. Never add cold liquids to hot potatoes (=glue)
  2. Don’t rinse potatoes, just let them air cool to a temperature you can handle. In this recipe you can let them sit awhile.
  3. Get a potato ricer. 

Microwave butter and cream for 1 minute. Add potatoes using ricer. Mix together, season with salt.

Place meat mixture on the bottom of large (10×14) baking dish, top with potatoes and sprinkle with parmesan. Cover with tinfoil, bake at 350 for 30 minutes, remove foil and cook another 10 min or so til top begins to brown.

Can be made ahead and/or frozen.

Food Travelogue: Chicago 


As we waited for our donuts and cold press at Do-Rite Donuts in Chicago, a fellow customer asked where we were from. Our response prompted a compliment: “Minneapolis has the best Farmer’s Market I have ever been to.” 

I had never thought of my hometown as more “foodie” and more of a farm-to-table destination than my one-time adoptive home (during college), and arguably the only city worthy of a pitstop in what coastdwellers call the Midwest: “flyover land”. The Windy City, home of Da Bears and Michael Jordan. 

But a long weekend eating out showed us that Chicago’s food traditions—old and new—are gluttonous and actually quite different than Minnesota’s health-oriented cuisine. Thankfully, we got lots of steps in touring colleges and walking along the river and lake while eating our way through the city.

Highlights

  • Craft beers, cheese curds and potato chip nachos with Merkts cheesespread while watching the Cubs fall apart to the Dodgers. 😔
  • Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich’s Italian food emporium, Eataly. What could be more awesome than food shopping with a glass of wine?! We had salted caramel-chocolate and chocolate chip gelato, pistachio cannoli and sun-dried tomato-olive foccacia. I could spend weeks sampling from the pasta, salami, cheese, coffee—real Italian cappuccinos—pizza, fish, salads, sandwiches…ohhhh so many fantastic packaged items to tryout at home too.

  • The valhrona chocolate and pistachio-lemon donuts from Do-Rite were fantastic. Birthday cake with sprinkles and a good ol’ fashioned rounded out breakfast.

  • A classic, Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, was a nice surprise (expectations were low). The spaghetti and meatballs were well portioned for 2 teenage boys, as was a 12 oz steak, but the corn brûlée stole the show.

  • A quaint diner serving breakfast all day, chorizo skillet topped with 3 eggs and a side of 3 pancakes. (= “My stomach hurts”.) 

  • The boys horked down chili cheese dogs from Portillo’s as an afternoon “snack”. Fast food wieners…hmmm…yes, this is Chicago.

I’m glad to be home. A good warmup for Thanksgiving, I guess. 😉

Caramelized onion gruyere quiche 


Fall is flying by! Partly because the weather has been absolutely gorgeous and partly because the search for colleges is in high gear. It’s hard to believe a year from now Alec will be away …. where did the time go?! (Here he is at Homecoming-he was up for King, I received no votes for Queen Mother of Gingers 😉).


I find it harder to try new recipes when our schedule is like this-I mostly fall back into tried and true that I can make ahead since we all tend to eat at different times. This recipe is great for that-it works for dinner and then leftovers for breakfast. I love a simple salad and delicata squash on the side, which is super easy-just slice up and pan saute. No peeling needed!

Soon the cold will arrive and I will be trapped inside…thank goodness HS hockey starts soon!

Caramelized onion gruyere quiche

  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 ready made pie crust
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 & 1/2 to equal 2 cups liquid total (about 1/2c)
  • 6 oz grated gruyere cheese or other hard nutty alpine cheese (swiss, Emmantaler, Jarlsberg etc)

Saute sliced onion in butter over low heat until brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add brown sugar to taste. Prep pie crust in pie plate crimping edges (no need to pre-bake). Whisk together eggs and 1/2&1/2 to equal 2cups liquids total. Mix in cheese. Put onions on bottom of crust and pour liquid mixture over onions. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes until top is nicely browned and the middle no longer jiggles (insert joke here about middle age). 

Fair Food 


The Minnesota State Fair–aka the Great Minnesota Get Together–is the largest (and of course best, IMO) fair in the country. Nearly 2 million people attend its 12 days–that’s almost half the population of MN! We love our fair, which is equally about our ag heritage as it is about “fun”–in the form of unique and overindulgent foods, art and creative activities and entertainment like Stevie Nicks, Garrison Keillor and John Mellancamp. To give you an idea of the scale, some of the food vendors do nothing else because they make an entire year’s income in 12 days!

I’m not the average fairgoer (best summer job ever–working in PR at the fair! I met fantastic people, from pig farmers to Tim McGraw)…here are some highlights from this year’s trip:

Fair basics

These are the “have to” get every year:

  • Pronto pup (no, this is NOT a corn dog. It’s made with regular flour batter, making it lighter). Mustard only!
  • Chocolate malts from the Dairy Barn or Kiwanis booth
  • Roasted corn on the cob
  • Fresh french fries (watch them peel potatoes!)
  • Mini donuts (preferably before a ride on the world’s oldest tunnel of love, Ye Old Mill)
  • Cheese curds (must be shared)
  • Sweet Martha’s bucket of cookies, accompanied by the all-the-milk-you-can-drink stand
  • Fried pickles with ranch (trust me)


Must see activities:

  • Creative Activities winners. From home cook food entries to gorgeous quilts and woodworking, it’s inspiring. Maybe I will enter my snickerdoodles next year
  • Fine Arts show, which gets better every year! I always find 2-3 artists to check out
  • Animal barns, we happened to arrive as the 6-horse hitch was getting prepped. Wow, draft horses are amazing! Biggest boar weighing in over 1,000 lbs, I always find the llamas interesting too, along with handlers–interesting people to talk to in the barns passionate about their animals 
  • DNR, the fish pond is stocked with rare to find species like the paddlefish
  • Crop art. It’s somewhere between kitschy and incredible for its meticulous detail. A Prince tribute section caught my eye.
  • Scarecrow contest (make America grate!) and display of vintage seed bags so cool! Grab a craft beer, hard cider or view wine winners in the Ag building.

And because no trip to the Fair should ever not include something new:

Nitro cold press and blueberry corn creme eclair, yum!! Can’t wait til next year! The official end of summer…