Let them eat pie! 2


Tomorrow, Scott and I are preparing Thanksgiving dinner for twelve–yes, twelve–people. I adore hosting and couldn’t be more exciting to celebrate our first “real” holiday in our new home.

Translation: I’m going to make this a production of Martha Stewart proportions if it kills me.

I took the day off from work to cook, clean, decorate, and cook some more. Here’s what we’ll be serving up tomorrow…


Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip – My first time making this…but you really can’t go wrong with cranberries, jalapeños and cream cheese, right?


Smoky Peppercorn Turkey  – Brined and seasoned using this kit.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes – Scott’s recipe. It only exists in his head…otherwise I’d post a link.

Magic Gravy — Again….the instructions are locked in Scott’s brain. He’ll probably whip it up while singing the infamous “I want some gravy” song we composed seven years ago. He belts it like an 80’s hair rocker, and I help him harmonize. It’s kind of amazing.

Elegant Turkey Stuffing — Stuffing is easily my favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast. I’ve been using this recipe since our first Thanksgiving in 2007, and have sworn by it ever since. Not to brag or anything…but this recipe has become somewhat legendary in my family.  It’s kind of a big deal.

Ultimate Green Bean Casserole — Use canned soup in my green beans? Never! (Especially since they were organically grown in my neighbor’s garden.)

Yummy Sweet Potato Casserole – I’ll be subbing sweetened condensed milk for the 2% stuff when I make this. Because if you can’t throw caution calories to the win on Thanksgiving, when can you?

Cranberry Sauce Extraordinaire – This stuff (pictured above, in progress) has everything but the kitchen sink in it. I’m talking pears, apples, oranges, nuts, dried pineapple and cherries…the works! It’s a ton of effort but is truly the best cranberry sauce you’ll ever have the pleasure of binge eating at 2 in the morning on top of a giant bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Lemon Rosemary Potato Rolls — This is a new recipe for us, which is why Scott’s taking ownership. Super excited to try something a little different than boring old dinner rolls. We’re also making herbed lemon butter to go with!


Apple Pie by Grandma Ople – She’s not my grandma…but I’ll certainly steal her pie recipe!

Sweet Potato Pie with Gingersnap Crust — I made this last year, and it was divine. Better than pumpkin pie, in my opinion. (Although my Uncle’s bringing pumpkin pie, so we’ll have one of those, too!)

Classic Pecan Pie — I love this recipe as it doesn’t use Karo syrup.

Caramel Pecan Pie — Easily my favorite dessert ever. So rich, so fatty, so good.

Rumchata Pumpkin Pie Martinis – We already ate 6,000 calories…why not add insult to injury with a cocktail that might as well be a double cheeseburger?


What are you cooking up tomorrow? I’m always on the lookout for new dishes and wove to see some of your favorite recipes in the comments!

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The Fab Five: October 2014 1

1. Nourish

Nourish -- Lorna Jane Cookbook

I’ve sung Lorna Jane’s praises on this blog before, and her recently released cookbook is no exception. Not only is the physical book super high quality and gorgeously designed…it’s full of incredible recipes. I love Lorna’s balanced approach to healthy eating that emphasizes truly nourishing your body as opposed to counting calories and dieting. I’ve already whipped up two of her recipes, and they did not disappoint!

My (successful) attempts at Nut + Seed energy bread and Butternut Chickpea Salad from the Nourish cookbook.

My (successful) attempts at Nut + Seed energy bread and Butternut Chickpea Salad from the Nourish cookbook.

Not quite ready to pull the trigger on Lorna’s cookbook? You can access several of her other nutritious recipes on the LJ Move Nourish Believe blog for free!


2. Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire

I know, I know. Boardwalk Empire is currently in its fifth season, and I’m just getting started. Luckily, the HBO Go app (for tablet, iPhone and Apple TV) makes catching up ridiculously easy. Scott and I started Season 1 two nights ago, and are already hooked. We may or may not have spent the past 48 hours walking around the house saying things like, “Gee…I really wish you would fold that laundry, doll,” in 1920’s gangster accents.


3. Lululemon  Wunder Under Leggings


Yes, these are basically $100 stretch pants.

But they’re kind of the best thing since individual mini wine bottles.

My local Lulu hemmed them to the correct length and shipped them to my house for free. They are warm, they are comfy, they look like a million bucks. (For that price, they’d better!) The logos are hidden, so you can wear them outside the gym without a reflective Lululemon logo distracting from your boots and infinity scarf.



4. FitBit Zip

FitBit Zip

I’ve been a FitBit fan for years, and was devastated when Scott mistakenly washed and dried my FitBit One last month. (It was still attached to a pair of underwear. Whoops.)

Before I could order a new device, the organization I work for scored a ton of free FitBit’s for employees through our health insurance company! A few days later, I was rocking my new Zip with pride. While the Zip is less robust than the One (It doesn’t track sleep or stairs climbed), I actually prefer it. It uses a regular watch battery, which means I don’t have to recharge it every couple of days, and syncs to my computer/iPhone app with ease. The One had some major syncing issues. The Zip’s larger size is still small enough to wear discretely, but way easier to find. (And hopefully unlikely to be overlooked while washing dirty underwear.)



5. Organic Food Bar – Active Greens


A friend recently tried to ordered a box of these online, and ended up mistakenly ordering 12 boxes. They ended up being so delicious, she opted to keep them all! She was kind enough to gift me a box, and they’re already almost gone. Not only are they delicious and filling…the ingredients are SO clean, green and healthy! Check it out:

  • Organic Almond Butter
  • Organic Dates
  • Organic Premium Blue Agave Nectar
  • Organic Brown Rice Protein
  • Organic Raisins
  • Organic Bio Sprouts
  • Flax Organic Bio Sprouts
  • Quinoa, Organic Wheat Juice Powder
  • Organic Barley Juice Powder
  • Organic Sesame Seeds
  • Organic Spirulina
  • Organic Blueberry
  • Organic Raspberry
  • Organic Broccoli Sprouts
  • Organic Beet Juice
  • Organic Carrot Juice

I’m a huge fan of bars, and it’s great to have a tasty option I can munch on without feeling guilty for eating a ton of processed junk. At 300 calories and with 7g of fiber and 11g of protein, these have become my new favorite go-to breakfast!


What are you loving this month? Anyone else have a total TV crush on Boardwalk’s Nucky Thompson??

Psst! Want more Fab Five goodness? It’s all right here.

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Let’s get Plated!

Let’s get Plated! 5

Every time I visit New York, I’m exposed to some new fun product or service that I desperately want to try. Unfortunately, the majority of these “new fangled” indulgences are’t available in Smalltown.

Until now, that is.

On a recent trip to Brooklyn, I was introduced to the concept of a recipe delivery service. Essentially, the vendor delivers a perfectly portioned amount of fresh ingredients, and accompanying instructions for a gourmet meal. It seemed to be the best of both worlds — the convenience of avoiding the grocery store and the comforts of a home cooked dinner. But surely, such a service wouldn’t be available in my rural little corner of Minnesota, right?

A few weeks ago, a Facebook advertisement for Plated caught my eye. They claimed to deliver fresh ingredients to 80% of the Continental U.S. — could Smalltown possibly be part of that 80%?

I hastily entered my zip code, delighted to see that my address was eligible for delivery. I quickly signed up, ordered two different meals, and texted Scott with the exciting news.

His response?

“No. That’s sacrilegious.”

Apparently, this food snob skeptic was going to need some serious convincing in regards to my latest culinary endeavor. I crossed my fingers, hoping the recipes I’d selected would change his mind.

The meals were delivered a few days later, right on schedule.


The packaging was great, and the ingredients (which included fresh seafood) were in tact and perfectly chilled. I placed the goods in the refrigerator, anxious to prepare my first Plated meal with Scott later that evening.

The only problem? Scott was having no part of the prep work. I believe his exact words were, “This was you’re idea–you deal with it.”

My husband–who is practically a self-trained chef–cooks the vast majority of the meals in our household. My lack of experience (and fear of cooking fresh prawns) had me incredibly nervous. But my supper certainly wasn’t going to cook itself. I took a deep breath, turned on the stove, and pulled out my very best skillet. It was go time.

Forty minutes later, I was plating my finished Southwestern Gulf Shrimp with Leeks and Asparagus. The craziest part? It actually looked good.



The really crazy part? It tasted good, too! Even Scott complimented my efforts. I couldn’t believe it! Surely this was a fluke, and my next recipe would end in disaster.

But it didn’t! I’d say the Soy Glazed Pollock with Pea Shoots and Miso Mashed Potatoes was even tastier than the shrimp.


The moment Scott asked me, “So how much would it cost to do this on a regular basis?”, I knew I’d achieved success. I’ve since ordered two more meals, and can’t wait to give them a taste.

Thinking about trying PlatedHere why I’m loving it:

  • A variety of meals to pick from on the menu each week. There are always meat, seafood and vegetarian options.
  • Nutritional info is clearly posted.
  • The food is tasty.
  • Instructions are clear and easy to follow. I also feel like I’m learning new skills!
  • Portions are great. Scott eats a little more than I do, and the both of us are always satisfied after we’re done. Sometime’s we even have leftovers.
  • Saves SO MUCH TIME since you don’t have to plan and go to the grocery store. All you need from your own pantry is salt, pepper and olive oil. Plated handles the rest.
  • Just the right amount of ingredients. I can’t tell you how many times we buy waaaay too much food and end up wasting it by not using or eating all of it. With Plated, nothing goes wasted or unused.
  • You can pick your delivery date so you know exactly when stuff is coming.
  • The packaging is recyclable and biodegradable.
  • Food is seasonable, locally sourced and sustainable whenever possible. Plated purchases meats from family owned purveyors and partners with Sea to Table to ensure seafood is wild-caught whenever possible.
  • Plated donates all extra ingredients to local food banks.
  • There’s no monthly minimum.
  • It’s a great way to try new foods and recipes.
  • Preparing the food is actually…well…fun.

The only con? Plated is a tad bit pricey…but I honestly believe it’s worth the investment. You can purchase meals a la carte at $15 per plate, or sign up for an affordable monthly or yearly membership and score meals at just $12 a plate. They also have an awesome referral program where you can earn free plates by sharing Plated with others. (Full disclosure– all the links in this post are referral links, so if you order something, I get a little boost of credit.) I believe Scott and I are spending less with Plated due to fewer wasted ingredients, less trips to the supermarket and reduced urges to eat out as “we don’t have any food at home”.

Want to give Plated a whirl? You can learn more about it here.

Anyone else using Plated, or a similar service? Have you had your culinary ego inflated as much as I have?

(Here’s hoping it doesn’t deflate too much when I –gulp–make my first attempt at risotto this week.)


Note: This is not a sponsored post — Plated doesn’t even know I’m writing it. I’ve simply enjoyed their services and wanted to spread the word!

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I’m back…and I look like a drunken lion.

I’m back…and I look like a drunken lion. 1

Did you miss me? Wonder if I had stayed in SoCal to become a chubby, mediocre surfer girl? Assume I was dead?

Apologies for taking a longer blogging hiatus than originally planned. San Diego was fabulously exhausting and I just didn’t feel like writing anything when I made it home. Sometimes, you just have to carve out time to sleep, do the laundry, and sleep some more.

The good news is that San Diego was incredible. Scott and I had a blast spending time with my brother and sister, and my CrossFit Level One training was kind of the best thing ever.


The very best part? Eating my way through Ron Burgundy’s hometown, of course. There were fish tacos, margaritas, ice cream, and of course…more fish tacos. Remember the scene in Charlotte’s Web where Templeton the rat eats everything in sight at the fair? It was kind of like that…just with a long blonde ponytail and (thankfully) no trash cans.

Luckily, my SoCal food frenzy didn’t just leave me with some extra plump thighs…I managed to pick up a few nuggets of foodie knowledge along the way. Here’s what four days and approximately twenty-thousand calories taught me.


Lesson 1: Put butter in your coffee

Per a suggestion via Instagram, I swung by San Diego chain Better Buzz Coffee for the Best Drink Ever.

Yep, that’s actually the name of the drink.


I ordered a medium without actually knowing what I was about to slurp down…with a name like that, who needs to ask questions?

(Apparently, I do.)

“What’s actually in this?” I asked the barista after I swiped my credit card.

It was difficult to hear her over the roar of the espresso machine, but I could swear she mumbled something like “vanilla butter”.  Butter in coffee? Well, why the heck not!?

After visiting the Better Buzz website, I learned that I’m losing my hearing as the Best Drink Ever is 100% butter-free. It’s simply an Americano with a touch of sweetness, cream and vanilla. (Still…it was totally the best drink ever.)

I also learned that putting grass-fed butter in one’s coffee is actually a real thing! It allegedly tastes delicious, burns fat and boosts your energy and performance all day long. Normally I’d be skeptical, but I love butter on anything, so I’ll probably end up giving this a try sooner rather than later.

The moral of this first point? If you’re ever in SD, make sure to swing by Better Buzz for the Best Drink Ever, which surprisingly lives up to its name. Secondly…putting butter in your coffee no longer earns you fat kid status, so by all means, toss a dollop (or two) in there!


Lesson 2: Don’t dip your French Toast. Soak it.

On our last morning in Cali, Scott and I headed to La Jolla for brunch at the famous Brockton Villa Restaurant. We’d heard several rave reviews of their infamous “Coast Toast”, and I wasn’t about to leave San Diego without trying a bite for myself.



It was definitely one of the top 10 brunches of my life. In addition to a breathtaking ocean view (which smelled strongly of sea-lion dung…but who am I to complain?), and the most divine fresh squeezed OJ, the Coast Toast was out of this world. I pride myself in being a French Toast connoisseur, and I’ve got to stay, Brockton Villa’s version was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. I know several of y’all can’t stand the word moist, but you’re just going to have to deal with it because the moistness of this toast was the very thing that made is such a stand out. It was reminiscent of a lightly sweetened bread pudding. I may or may not have yelled “Come to Momma!” three times during the meal.

How did they make it taste so good? What was their secret? Could I bribe the waiter to casually sneak “momma” a copy of the super secret, extra moist recipe?

Imagine my surprise when I noticed a basket of free Coast Toast recipe cards on my way out of the restaurant. They’ve even posted it online!

Apparently, the secret is soaking the bread for at least an hour instead of just dipping it in batter. I suspect the combination of grilling it and then baking it in the oven also has something to do with it.

Long story short, I can’t wait to try to recreate this at home, and pretend I’m in sunny La Jolla as I sit on my balcony overlooking our humble little lake. (It’s not the Pacific…but at least there’s no sea-lion poop to be smelled.)


3. Do not have your husband take photos of you eating food. No matter how delicious it is.

You will think you’re being totally cute, but…well…let’s just say the proof is in the pudding.

My friend told me I looked like a drunken lion. I can't say that I disagree.

My friend told me I looked like a drunken lion. I can’t say that I disagree.


Visiting San Diego? Here are some of my other fave places:

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