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Hello! After one crazy week, I’m back!

Let’s start with Friday. What was supposed to be a pretty low-key weekend before our big 5K on Sunday, started with this:

Meet Kota!

I had been to the Humane Society earlier in the week and spotted a gorgeous husky. After begging Dillon to go out and visit him, we took Kya out for a meet & greet on Friday. The meet & greet went well, but the husky had some aggression issues.

Before heading back out, we checked out the rest of the dogs and that’s when we ran into Kota (named Flower at the shelter). She, along with 7 of her brothers and sisters, had arrived at the shelter just 1 1/2 hours before we got there. It was love at first sight and just a couple of hours later she was coming home with us.

She’s just 8 weeks old and full of spunk.

Although, after 10-15 minutes of play, her little legs need a little rest.

Saturday it was off to the dog park!

Big sister Kya isn’t sure what to think of Kota yet, but she was sure to protect her from the big dogs.

And when Kya wasn’t around, Kota found shelter elsewhere.

After our visit to the dog park, we all headed downtown to the Arts Festival where Kota was the center of attention.

She even got to visit with some of her sisters who were waiting for her at the Humane Society booth!

We can’t forget about our first baby, of course.

It was a long morning, so the rest of the day was spent lounging around.

Not without a little bit of play, though.

Amongst all of this excitement, Dillon and I had to try to focus on what was happening on Sunday!

We woke up bright & early (well, we were up anyway with the puppy ;)) and prepared for our first 5K! We’ve been training for a couple of months and felt pretty prepared, but I was still nervous at the start line.

I’m proud to say, though, that we finished (without stopping!) the full 3.1 miles! To make things even better, it was my birthday! I really couldn’t think of a better birthday present to myself…

The night before (while the pups were sleeping) we both made Operation Beautiful signs to wear on our backs.

Not only was it motivating for me as I repeated these mantras to myself as I ran, but we got thumbs up, smiles, thank you’s and shouts of “YES, BE STRONG!” from other runners as we ran. Operation Beautiful makes my adrenaline rush. 🙂

After the race, we came home to play with the pups, and much to my surprise Dillon had more birthday presents for me!

I’ve been wanting this cookbook for a long time, so I can’t wait to dig in! Plus, when I opened it up a gift certificate for a 1-hour massage was beaming back at me! He’s the best.

Later in the afternoon, we went out with a group of friends and their pups for the last doggie sundae of the summer.

Even Kota got in on the action!

Post-ice cream coma.

As if the weekend couldn’t get any better, we dropped the pups off at home and Dillon took me out for a birthday dinner to Carinos!

A birthday pomegranate martini for her!

Delicious, creamy tortelloni.

Followed by the BIGGEST pieces of chocolate cake I’ve ever seen. So good, we almost needed to be rolled out of the restaurant.

Whew! What a whirlwind of a weekend, but all so worth it! Thank you all who sent me messages, texts, called and sent cards for my birthday – I couldn’t ask for better friends and family!

Have a great week!

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Lax Labor Day

Happy Monday, er…Tuesday! I hope you all had a fabulous Labor Day Weekend!

Aside from BBQ’s and breakfasts with friends, we had a pretty lax weekend.

Before the weekend festivities, we tok Kya to a local swimming pool for “Gone With the Dogs.” When the public pools close for the summer, dogs and their owners are invited out for a dip. It was packed and Kya LOVED it.

She would have swam around all night if we would have let her…

This weekend (September 5, to be exact) also marked 1 year since we adopted Kya. So, we took her to the dog park to celebrate (& so she could tell all of her friends ;)).

Later that night we sat out by the fire, drank red wine & ate Reese’s smores. It was a perfect fall evening.

Our neighbor’s pup came out to visit for a bit. Irresistible, I know.

Have a wonderful 4-day week! I’ll be back tomorrow with a recipe we thought up all on our own!

Catching up? Poppers, Shrimp & Family

We started Saturday morning off with this beauty:

Cinnamon crunch bread from Great Harvest Bakery. It was beyond delicious – chewy & a melt-in-your-mouth type of bread & best if eaten plain!

After a slow-going morning, we finally got around to lunch, which consisted of build-your-own sandwiches, complete with Great Harvest Dakota bread. I’m not lying when I say this: It is the best bread I’ve ever had in my life. It literally put me in a good mood just eating it. It was such a hit, I couldn’t even snap a picture of it! You’ll have to take my word for it…and go buy it (or order online). Now.

Now, if you ever come to visit us in Sioux Falls, you will not leave without seeing Falls Park. We’re mighty proud of it. And that’s exactly where we swept our house guests off to next.

We took a break from climbing for ice cream, naturally.

Played around

And hopped a ride back to the car (well, some of us anyway).

Later that night, we came home for a taco bar and a vicious tournament of ladder ball.

But only while Chantae serenaded us with Justin Beiber tunes.

It was an awesome weekend with family filled with lots of laughter, fun and food. We’re already looking forward to next time.

Let’s Talk.

– Do you get to see your family a lot? Do you have a tradition of some sort that you always do when you’re together?

We ALWAYS play lots of games and laugh until our cheeks hurt. 🙂

Poppers, Shrimp & Family

Well, my in-laws made it out alive.

The first ones of the bunch arrived around 6 p.m. on Friday and I was prepared for hungry family members who began to gather in the kitchen. Here’s what we went with:

Baked Jalepeno Poppers

Ingredients.

– 12-15 whole jalepenos

– 3 oz. low-fat cream cheese

– 1/2 sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

-1/4 tsp. garlic powder

– 2 eggs (salmonella-free, preferably)

– Whole what breadcrumbs

Directions.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut your jalepenos in half & hallow them out (be sure to get all the seeds!).

3. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, shredded cheese and garlic powder.

4. Stuff your peppers.

5. In a small bowl crack your eggs and mix ’em up. In a separate bowl pour a handful of whole wheat breadcrumbs.

6. Dip each pepper into eggs, then in breadcrumbs.

7. Bake for 30 minutes and enjoy!

To keep hunger under control while dinner was on the grill, we also prepared some Grilled breaded shrimp.

Ingredients.

– Approx. 20-30 uncooked shrimp

– 3 Tbsp. olive oil

-3 garlic cloves, crushed

– Whole wheat breadcrumbs

– 1/2 tsp. dry seafood seasoning

– Cocktail sauce

Directions.

1. In a small bowl combine olive oil and garlic. Let stand for approx. 20 minutes.

2. In another bowl combine breadcrumbs and seafood seasoning.

3. Dip each shrimp in the olive oil mixture then in the breadcrumb mixture.

4. Thread shrimp onto skewers and grill for approx. 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are pink.

5. Serve with cocktail sauce and eat ’em up!

For the main course we made goat cheese stuffed chicken. Remember this recipe?

This time I skipped the red peppers and used spinach instead of arugala & they were even better! We served the chicken with grilled red potatoes and fresh corn on the cob.

After dinner I set out the whoopie pies and held my breath.

Whoopie pies for the birthday girl!

They were a hit! As in, I had one and was left with no leftovers. Phew!

The rest of the night was spent catching up and laughing.

Stay tuned for Saturday’s activities and FOOD!

Whoopie What?

You guys, I suck at baking. I mean, I really enjoy the preparation, but I hold my breath for the outcome.

We have family coming into town this weekend and in an attempt to have an array of healthy foods, I chose to (try to) make these whoopie pies. Why I tried to attempt these just one week after last Thursday‘s occurrence is beyond me.

Anyway, it started out smoothly and after my first batch of the chocolate cookies came out edible, I was ecstatic! While the rest were in the oven, I started in on the filling.

All went well and I popped the bowl into the fridge to chill. After a night of sand volleyball and a co-workers going -away party, I came back home and assembled three. Just three. I’ve learned to test run just a few before I ruin everything.

And it’s a good thing I did. The filling is nothing like what whoopie pie filling should taste/feel like. It was jiggly like jello (it has gelatin in it, so obviously) and gooey in my mouth. Fail. BUT, I don’t think it was my fault this time; I think it’s just the recipe.

The jello-like filling. Nasty, right?

So, I slept on it (because we all know kitchen + no sleep cannot equal good things) and this morning I consulted Kristen. I remembered she had made whoopie pies before and knew she would not let me down. Low and behold, I ended up mixing up some butter, cream cheese and marshmallow fluff (after running to Hy-Vee for the 3rd time in 3 days) and they were as good as new!

No worries, the filling will harden up. I’m just impatient.

I might even try to make some of the Whoopie pie cookies from the 2nd recipe and see if they’re any better. My lesson for the day: always trust a girl from Iowa.

I’ll let you know on Monday if my in-laws made it out alive. 😉

Update: I’ve now made the whoopie pies from this recipe (sans the red food coloring) and they are a million times better. Forget that 1st jello-like, too-thin whoopie pie recipe. This one’s for real.

What a fabulous weekend! I’m finally feeling like a true South Dakota-ian. We have our drivers licenses in hand and our license plates in tow. There’s no going back now!

Friday I was introduced to the fabulous (apparently that’s my word today) Brandi Carlile when a friend from Des Moines came up for a visit. Seriously, how did I not know of this talent before? I’m in love. Here’s (one of) my favorite song from Friday’s concert:

We laid around all day Saturday listening to Brandi Carlile on repeat before we were out the door for a friend’s birthday party. We met more new friends and acted like we were in college again, playing some vicious games of flip cup.

Sunday was more of the same until Dillon took me out to see Eat, Pray, Love. I just finished reading the book a couple weeks ago and was looking forward to seeing the movie despite all of the bad reviews. I loved it. And, it sparked some pretty intense conversation between Dillon and myself afterward. I love a man that can hold riveting & intelligent dialogue. 🙂

****************************

Now, for some lessons in the kitchen.

The other night I thought I could do it all. I planned to make a new recipe and bake cookies (another new recipe) for Dillon to take to work. Bad idea.

After a rousing sand volleyball match with friends, we came home to prepare dinner. It was close to 8 o’clock, mind you, which is much later than us 80 year-olds usually eat. But, using an enormous $1 zucchini I scored at the farmer’s market, I was determined to make this pizza.

Lesson #1: Prepare.

Knowing that I would be getting home later, I should have prepared the pizza beforehand to have it ready to slide into the oven. Or, at the very least, glanced at the recipe before 8 o’clock.

The recipe ended up being simple, but I was rushed (read: hungry!) and sped up a few steps. If you plan to make this pizza, let me let you in on a few little tips:

1) When she says to get as much of the “zucchini water” (who knew?!) out as possible, get as much out as possible. In the end, this made a difference, as my pizza toppings were a bit soggy.

2) and…Lesson #2: Adjust. Being in a hurry, I also decided that it would be best to follow her recipe verbatim. What I didn’t realize was that she was using a much larger crust than I, so the amount of ricotta cheese vs. crust was a bit off. Let’s just say ricotta was eating the crust.

But, it was still good.

Lesson #3: Be patient. I get so giddy when I’m in the kitchen making new things that I wish they could just magically appear. Next, I attempted to make these cookies despite the fact I’ve never been keen to baking (I once made brownies on a cookie sheet. Umm. Yeah.).

The first (of many) attempts left me with a pile of mush. Tasty mush, to be exact. I got impatient and didn’t let the mounds of butter caramelize. When I opened the oven to check on them, I had a buttery mess on my hands (err, oven).

So, after sending Dillon out for more flour and butter around 10 p.m. and multiple attempts later, I finally had some edible cookies! They weren’t the prettiest things you’ve ever seen (darn you, Jenna, for having such delicious photos!), but Dillon brought home an empty plate and assured me no one was poisoned the next day, which put me at ease.

I’m off to yoga class! What’s for dinner tonight?


Thankfully, this weekend was spent in the security of our home (or outdoors in the gorgeous weather), as opposed to last weekend where we feared for our lives in a Minnesota monsoon.

Highlights of the weekend include our 1st trip (well, 2nd) to the Sioux Falls farmers market, eating delicious Mexican food and finishing another book. We live on the edge, I know.

Back to the Mexican food. Dillon and I are all about supporting local business and will (almost) always choose a cozy mom & pop over an Applebees filled with screaming children. However, we have not been able to find a local Mexican restaurant that fulfills our margarita, creamy queso and spicy vegetable desires.

So, Saturday night we headed out with some friends to Chevy’s, a Mexican chain restaurant that we were told resembles Carlos O’Kelly’s. I’m almost embarrassed to say this, but this was the best Mexican food we’ve had in town! The chips were warm, the queso was creamy, the margaritas contained tequila. Mmm Mmm. For the record, I had the Farmers Market Quesadilla. Holy Yum!

Anywho, here’s what we made with our loot from the farmers market:

Quinoa + Veggie Stuffed Bell Peppers

Yields 6 peppers

What you’ll need:

– 3 Bell peppers 

1 cup quinoa

– Veggies of your choice (I used approx. 1/2 onion, 1 1/2 C. zucchini, 2 ears of sweet corn & 1/2 jalpeno)

– 1 garlic bulb

– 2 Tbsp. butter (for sauteing)

– Fresh parmesan cheese

What you’ll do:

1. First, you want to prepare the quinoa.

Side note: I’ve heard a lot about quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) and finally decided to give it a go. Quinoa is a grain that can be a substitute for rice, breadcrumbs, etc. But, it is soooo good for you! It is considered a complete protein and contains other nutrients such as amino acids, dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Plus, it’s gluten free. Basically, quinoa rocks. You can read more about it here.

So, back to preparing the good stuff. Soak 1 cup of quinoa in 1 1/2 cups of cold water for 15 minutes. Once they’ve soaked, turn up the heat! Once your water begins to boil, add a lid to your pot, turn your heat down to a simmer and leave them alone for 20 minutes. After they’ve simmered, remove them from the heat (but don’t take off the lid!) for 5 minutes.

2. In the meantime, chop your veggies.

3. Cut your peppers in half and hallow them out.

4. Saute your veggies in the butta.

5. Fluff your quinoa. Once it’s been off the heat for 5 minutes or so, fluff it with a fork (like you would with rice).

6. Stuff your peppers! To make things easier, I combined my veggies and quinoa into one pot and spooned the mixture into each pepper.

7. Grill ’em! Turn on just 1/2 of the burners and heat the grill to 350 degrees. Place the stuffed peppers over the burners that are not on. Shut the lid and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.

8. Remove from the grill and top them with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

We served them with some grilled red potatoes and a glass of chilled Summerset Vino Rosso. We plan on using the leftovers tonight by chopping them all up and using them in a salad.

Dinner was promptly followed by wedding cake and vanilla ice cream, of course.

And, just because I know you’ve missed her, here’s a shot of our child.

Seriously, how can you resist that face?

Let’s Talk.

1. Live in Sioux Falls? What’s your favorite Mexican restaurant in town?

Don’t live in Sioux Falls? Where should I visit when I’m in your town?

2. Have you used quinoa before? How have you used it?