Thank You Pioneer Woman

Last weekend Carl’s parents and sister from the west coast came to our house for lunch. His sister hasn’t seen the house at all and his parents haven’t seen it since when we moved in. We have made a lot of changes and done a lot of things.

I wanted to make a yummy lunch, so I went to the one place that I knew I would find a good recipes. I knew Carl’s sister would appreciate and crave a good midwest homemade meal; which consists of meat, potatoes and veggies.

I settled on the following:

PW’s Smothered Pork Chops This was an easy recipe and full of flavor. It was the epitome of midwest food.

PW’s Crash Hot Potatoes I have been made these a few times before and are easy and taste so good. I added rosemary and thyme.

The Recipe Critic Roasted Lemon Parmesan Garlic Asparagus  I just made this asparagus recipe a few weeks ago and love it. It is fresh and has lots of flavor.

IMG_0158 Photo of Carl’s sister’s plate.

It was a great lunch. Carl’s mom was in charge of dessert and she rocked it! I have had it before but it has been a long time so it was nice to have it again.

It was strawberry pretzel dessert! Delicious!

We had a great Sunday lunch filling our bellies and enjoying each others company! 🙂

I highly recommend all the recipes! Pioneer Woman never disappoints, I have hooked my mother-in-law and sister-in-laws on PW!

It also got Arie’s stamp of approval, he was licking his chops!





Cooking with Pioneer Woman… I Wish…

I was so excited to open my birthday gifts from Carl! I got a new tea pot and the Pioneer Woman’s cookbook! I made her Chicken Milanese and Buttery Lemon Parsley Noodles! Holy Moly, the chicken turned out amazing! I used gluten free four and a gluten free seasoning- Hodgson Mill which turned out well with the whole milk and eggs. Carl couldn’t believe the flavor that the chicken had.

When I went to the store to get whole milk, I had seen this brand online and I thought I should try it. It is called fairlife– unfiltered milk! It is so good. For someone who is lactose intolerant it was nice to have milk that doesn’t give me an upset stomach. I get the fat free milk now.

I also added a picture of a wine that Carl and I really like. It is called The Dreaming Tree by Dave Matthews from DMB. We have had the crush wine- a red blend which is really good, I just saw he has a pinot noir that I would love to try. My sister gave me a new wine opener for my birthday so we had to find a bottle of wine in the wine rack to open so we could test the opener.

Happy Sunday! I am testing a Mulled Wine recipe today for Thanksgiving! I hope it turns out.



Many Thanks & Blessings

I had a fun birthday this year; more like birthday week! 🙂 My birthday is November 1st, so the Monday prior Carl planned a surprise birthday dinner with my friends, which was so much fun and completely unexpected- Surprise Birthday Dinner click the link to view that blog post. On Wednesday that week we had wine and paint with two of our friends, Friday night we went to the haunted house and Saturday-Halloween, we went to the MN Gophers game. It was a busy week. I know I say it a lot but I am really thankful and blessed for the people that are in my life. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have are fantastic! We have similar morals, values and aspirations which I feel makes us a great group of friends.

One of my friends sent this text to me and I felt it described me to a T.


I know I am not for everyone! I have a strong personalty, I hold the people in my life accountable, I call people out on their stuff and I ask they do the same for me. That isn’t always the case with the majority. Many people hide what they feel and can be passive aggressive and don’t want to deal with confrontation. Talking things out with people in a calm collected manner is not confrontation. I am the site-coordinator for our ICMS (Integrated Conflict Management System) team. This is a model or better yet,the culture that my agency is moving towards in order for staff to communicate with each other if there is conflict in the workplace. We want to make sure that we are providing a safe, productive work environment. So in this model we encourage that the people talk things out and deal with it at the lowest level. We provide conflict coaching and self mediation so they are just not going into it blind. I really like it. I have attempted to talk with others in my personal life about issues on a one on one level and that hasn’t always gone well. Again, I need to go back to I am not for everyone and neither is my personalty or my style. I do struggle with that a little but as I get older, ah who cares-my family and friends accept and love me, that is good enough! I don’t need more friends! 🙂

Anyways, my parents happened to be in town on the day of my birthday, at my brothers house. My papa got a new truck and they were bringing the other truck to my brother to see if he can sell it. So it was cool to see them. I haven’t seen my parents on my birthday in almost 11 years so it was nice to see them. My brother mixed me up a gin and tonic at maybe 11am, it’s all good!

IMG_1212Sitting in my papa’s new truck, my drinking cup and gotta get a picture with papa!

That night, Carl took me out for a really nice dinner to one of our favorite restaurants! Yum!

IMG_1207 Who doesn’t love shrimp cocktail! Yum!

IMG_1208 This was the best creme brule I have ever had and it was gluten free! Amazing! It was a party in my mouth!

12196093_10100795968007382_5213680982419625806_n Carl snapped a photo of me. Thanks for the great dinner! Also, I got the new Pioneer Woman cookbook and a new teapot! 🙂

Thank You family, friends and Carl for another good birthday! I appreciate you all and thank you for loving me and pushing me to be my best.



It’s the Little Things…

If we don’t take time to slow down, we let the little things pass us by. Lately I have felt we are go go go… Between work, house hunting and weekends being full, I try to remind myself to slow down to remember and appreciate the little things.

Here are a few photos to show the “It’s the Little Things!”

#1 Is a book I started when Carl and I first started dating to keep track of the restaurants we went to for our birthdays or anniversaries as we always wanted to try a new one. Now it is our Date/Outing book and it goes back to 2009. I am glad I started this and kept it up.

#2 I took this photo when we were sitting on the rocks by Lake Superior over our anniversary weekend. Feeling anchored and relying on God to keep me balanced.

#3 A clearer picture of my anniversary ring, per my mom.

#4 The post office was good to me this week. I got a pleasant surprise of Mindy Kaling’s book. I almost ordered it not realizing that I pre-ordered it a while back! Good thing I didn’t. Then I got my Pioneer Woman bowls that I ordered online from Walmart! I love them!

#5/#6 Photos I saw on Instagram that I liked. I love the photo of Duluth, it captures it all of it’s greatness. The other photo reminds me of all my close friends.

#7 I can’t have a post without Mr. Arie! What a sweet boy, he was taking my side of the bed from the other night.


Happy Sunday!


Thanksgiving 2014

What another great Thanksgiving at my parent’s house. We drove up Wednesday so we had more time with family. I was in a different location for work and while I was there, mother nature dropped 7 inches of snow, I was a little nervous as we wanted to leave that night. It turned out ok as it was south not east. Going home was good and spending time with family was just want we needed. We should be “Very” thankful everyday not just one day out of the year.

Here are a few pictures of our Thanksgiving!

Thankgiving_Snow The pretty snowy trees at work.

Thanksgiving_Turkey The amazing turkey my Pa cooked.

Thanksgiving_Roast The awesome rolled pork roast my mom made as well.

Thanksgiving_Pie I love this photo, fresh pies from my mom on a frosty table.

Bless_This_Food Our Thanksgiving spread! Delicious

Thankful_Wine Can’t have Thanksgiving without our homemade wine!

Happy Thanksgiving 2014!


Blondie + Julia Child = Delicious Christmas Dinner

For Carl’s family Christmas, this year we had to compromise with everyone’s work and flight schedules. We were able to all be together the Sunday before Christmas, it worked out great. Carl and I offered to make the main meal of Christmas dinner. I called upon my older sisters for ideas and suggestions. I wanted something I could make the day before and after a day of sitting would taste better. My sister said I had to make a hearty meal. She mentioned that she made Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon (boor-gee-ynon) and it was delicious. It was a healthier version of Julia Child’s original dish.

She sent me the recipe she used from the Relish Magazine- Beef Bourguignon. I was a little nervous to take on the task but knew I could. My sisters said we had to watch the movie “Julie & Julia“. We watched the movie prior to making the dish and I must say I was more excited to make the meal.

I wanted to add a potato with the meal but did not want it in the dish as the potatoes would get mushy. My other sister said to do boiled baby red potatoes on the side. My sister who gave me the recipe said I had to do Pioneer Woman’s Buttered Rosemary/Sea Salt Rolls. So now that we had the potatoes and rolls figured out, we needed a salad. We decided on a strawberry, gorgonzola cheese and spinach salad with poppyseed dressing.

It all came together so well and everything was gluten free except the rolls. I couldn’t eat them but they were a hit.

Here are some photos from our Christmas Beef Bourguignon Dinner.


I forgot the carrots in this picture.


All the goodies cut up and ready to go. In the glass measuring cup is the onion, carrots, red and green pepper and mushrooms.


I love my 8.5 qt dutch oven, so glad I bought the big one. I just need to find a spot for it.


Have to taste test. It was unfortunate, I had an upset stomach so my taste buds were off. Carl was a great taste tester and he did not mind. 🙂 There is almost a bottle of yummy red wine in there. 🙂


All finished, it turned out perfect.

Finished_Dinner Carl’s sister took a picture of her Christmas dinner.

What I would do different with the recipe- 

The recipe was really easy to make and directions were easy to follow. I would make sure my beef chunks of meat are BIG. We got ours from the butcher shop and some of them were smaller pieces and they cooked faster and I thought they were tough; however, the bigger pieces were perfect.

I also prefer a gray based stew versus tomato base. I would find a way to sub the two cans of diced tomatoes to some type of gravy. Otherwise, I would keep everything else the same. It was really delicious and I will make again.

I want to say THANK YOU to my sisters for their group effort to help with the meal, it turned out wonderfully.

PS. I also made a Chex Mix candy mix. It is super addicting.


Here is the recipe- It is called Better Than Sex Chex Mix.

What I would do differently- I would leave the white chocolate out, Carl and I don’t care for white chocolate much.


Sweet and Spicy Dr. Pepper Pork and a Little Sweet

I was cooking a storm in the kitchen last Sunday. Well, more like putting some goodies in the crockpot and walking away to do something else. 🙂

Last week, I was really in the mood for a crockpot dinner. I love crockpot dinners and they are easy when I am gone all day. I stumbled on this blog The Recipe Critic and really liked it; I made two recipes from it and will check out others.

I made the Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork. As I was reading the recipe at the bottom it had a note section and the note was that it was a recipe from from The Pioneer Woman. WHAT?! Amazing,  I love her food, it isn’t always the healthiest or made without gluten but I improvise.

It was a great recipe and we both liked it. We made my Cilantro Lime Rice recipe which is on the My Favorites page. Then we did all the fixings of lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream all over tortilla chips as we have our big bag from Costco to finish. It had a little spice to it but the sweet was a good compliment.

Carl’s Rating for the pulled pork 8 out of 10.

After having a great supper, I thought we maybe needed a dessert. I don’t eat much dessert as it’s all full of gluten; however I do crave a sweet now and then! I found a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars on The Recipe Critic blog and thought they sounded good. I used coconut flour instead of regular flour. I didn’t care for the bars but Carl said he liked them and like the coconut flavor.

Carl’s Rating for the bars 8 out of 10.

On Thursday after work I stopped at the Cooperative to see what goodies they had. I was looking for a gluten free graham cracker crust or at least gluten free graham crackers so I could make the crust myself. I found a yummy recipe for a blueberry cheesecake. When the holidays come around I test different dessert recipes.  It’s so I can bring them to the family gatherings, otherwise I can’t eat any of the desserts there, not a big deal but sometimes a piece of something sweet would be nice. While I was wandering around the Coop, I decided that buying fresh scallops was a good idea. 🙂 YUM! I have never made them and thought I could take the challenge.

So tonight, I am making a pasta with a garlic olive oil red pepper flake sauce with seared scallops. I will report back with supper and the pie! Yummy, I think I am drooling just thinking about it.

Now that I have spent $619.00 on tires for Mona, we are going to find a pumpkin patch/apple orchard. We are behind scheduled on getting our pumpkins.

Happy Saturday!


PW’s Shrimp Scampi Recipe

On Wednesday night this past week I was so hungry for a light pasta. I was on Tasty Kitchen looking for a shrimp scampi recipe.

Pioneer Woman had a fantastic Shrimp Scampi and it was fairly easy to make. I didn’t have all the ingredients but I made it work. It must have been good Carl had seconds and he ate all the leftovers! 🙂

Shrimp Scampi

PW’s picture.


  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ½ whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic Cloves, Minced Or Pressed
  • 1 pound Large Shrimp, Peeled And Deveined
  • ½ cups White Wine
  • 2 whole Lemons
  • 4 dashes Hot Sauce (I Used Tabasco; More To Taste)
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 8 ounces, weight Angel Hair Pasta
  • Chopped Fresh Basil To Taste
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste
  • ½ cups Grated Parmesan Cheese
I added some extra seasoning. I really like Old Bay seasoning for seafood the lemon herb flavor.


Boil water for pasta; have it ready.

Heat olive oil and melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for two or three minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add shrimp, then stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Squeeze in lemon juice. Add wine, butter, salt and pepper, and hot sauce. Stir and reduce heat to low.

Throw angel hair pasta into the boiling water. Cook until just done/al dente. Drain, reserving a cup or two of the pasta water.

Remove skillet from heat. Add pasta and toss, adding a splash of pasta water if it needs to be thinned. Taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed.

Top with grated Parmesan and minced parsley and serve immediately

I didn’t have the fresh herbs for the garnish but I had the fresh parmesan cheese.

Shrimp Scampi with Pan Roasted Asparagus and Linguine

I have been a little behind in getting the goodies to you all! 🙂

Last week I made Shrimp Scampi with Pan Roasted Asparagus and Linguine from the Tasty Kitchen site.

photo I took.


  • ½ pounds Linguine Pasta- I used Gluten Free Linguine- Quinoa Pasta
  • ½ Tablespoons Butter
  • ½ Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 pound Asparagus, About 1 Bunch
  • ¼ cups Finely Chopped Onion
  • 5 cloves Garlic (large), Minced
  • ½ Tablespoons Butter
  • ½ Tablespoons Oil
  • 1 pound Shrimp, Cleaned And Deveined
  • ¼ cups White Wine
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Chopped Parsley And Grated Parmesan Cheese For Serving, Optional
  • 1 whole Lemon, Cut In Wedges For Serving


Heat a pot of salted boiling water for linguine while you begin cooking asparagus and shrimp.

For the asparagus: Heat a large skillet over medium, warm butter and oil. Toss in asparagus and cook covered for a couple minutes, depending upon the thickness of the asparagus, until slightly undercooked. (Asparagus will get tossed back in the pan after the shrimp to finish cooking.) Remove from pan and set aside.

Begin cooking pasta in boiling water. It will take around 8 minutes.

For the shrimp: In the same skillet used to cook the asparagus, cook onion and garlic in butter and olive oil over medium low heat until onions are translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add shrimp, cooking on first side until pinking slightly, then flip. Pour in wine. Stir and cook another minute.

What I would do different at this part:

I had to add some extra seasoning to the shrimp, Carl is not a fan if the fishy taste of shrimp. I added some more shakes of garlic and then I added Lemon and Herb Old Bay Seasoning. After I was done eating supper. I realized, I will make this again but I am going to use the shrimp from a recipe I made from Pioneer Woman‘s website.  It is the Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe.

Add asparagus back to the dish. Stir and cover. Reduce skillet heat to low until pasta is cooked. Add cooked pasta to shrimp and asparagus along with a little pasta water if more moisture is needed. Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve with lemon wedges.

Ooo… Something Shiny!

Well, what a great evening!

I was driving home and thinking of what clothes I am going to change into. Well big surprise to me when I got home. I got home and Carl was making supper. 🙂 He had made steaks, Pioneer Woman’s Crash hot potatoes and roast brussel sprouts. Yummy! To top it off we opened the fancy Italian wine that a friend gave us. It had a glass crock. Fancy.

While we were waiting for super to cook we decided to open presents. I actually gave Carl his present on Saturday. I had gotten him a nice tool box with a few odds and ends tools he didn’t have.

Low and behold, Carl was amazing again. I thought the flowers were beautiful and he topped himself.

Carl had gotten me beautiful diamond hoop earrings from Martens Jewelry and he had gotten me a money tree from Bachman’s.

I feel so special because of Carl. What a nice evening staying home and enjoying each other and our company! 🙂 I love ya Carl!

Happy Valentine’s Day!