Thursday, January 29, 2015

"It's Great Day at Devils Head Lodge"

A trip home to snowy Wisconsin wouldn’t be complete without a ski day at Devils Head Resort! Last weekend my older brother’s girlfriend Elise came down from Minneapolis to ski with me and my dad to try out her new ski boots that Jared gifted her for Christmas.

To fuel us for our long day on the slopes Saturday, my mom made this quinoa and oat porridge recipe she found in February’s issue of the magazine Real Simple. I am always looking for ways to add protein to breakfast and quinoa is a great source so I thought I would share this recipe with you all.

The quinoa and oat porridge definitely kept us energized. The weather was perfect, snow conditions were good, and we had a blast! Elise and I ended the day with a cold Spotted Cow beer in the lodge. What else would a native Wisconsinite want?

Over the past few months, I have had a few friends asking me about recommended ski wear so I thought I would also share a few of my favorites in this blog post. If any of my readers do winter sports and have their own favorites please share them with me by commenting below!

Mountain Hard Wear Jacket- My dad and I are both big fans of the brand Mountain Hard Wear. A few years ago I purchased this ski jacket and a pair of their snow pants at a ski shop in Baraboo, WI called The Wild Side and I absolutely love them. All their products are great because they are very light weight yet super warm. If you are in the market for a new active winter jacket, there are some great deals on their website right now at

Burton Gore-Tex Mitt- A quality glove or mitten that keeps out moisture is essential for snowboarding since you have to sit down strap in your snow covered boots every run. Since I don’t hold anything while I snowboard, I prefer mittens to gloves. However, these particular mittens are really a hybrid of the two because they have spaces for your fingers inside the mitt. They also have a pocket on the top of the glove where you can place hand warmers and an adjustable cord on the end which keeps snow and cold air from getting in. And as gross as it sounds, the most convenient feature on these gore-text mitts is the “snot catcher” on the thumb. So much easier than getting a Kleenex out of your pocket in zero below weather!

Ugg Boots- If you have ever worn a pair of ugg boots, I can bet you would argue that finding a warmer shoe is just about impossible. The problem is their “classic” boot made of sheepskin and EVA materials aren’t exactly waterproof. What you might not know is that ugg also sells a variety of waterproof boots in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. Although they aren’t quite as warm as their classic boot, I do have to say they are much more functional for the slopes. I have worn the boots shown in the picture above multiple times in dirty slushy snow and they still look like new!

Smart Wool Socks- I am a huge fan of Smart Wool’s PhD Light Snowboard socks. Most people would probably look at the price tag on these socks and look the other way. However, if you give these a try I promise you will be warm and dry all day long. Other wool socks can overheat and make your feet sweaty and cold but I have worn these for up to 6 straight hours of snowboarding and they kept my feet warm without overheating. They are designed specifically for women and padded in just the right areas to make them super comfortable in your boots, too. They are fantastic!

Dakine Hat and Neck Warmer- There is something so fun about wearing a hat with an oversized pom pom on the top! Dakine has an entire line of ski and snowboard gear with great bright and creative patterns at a pretty affordable price. You can find this brand at practically any store that sells ski or snowboard apparel. They also have a line of ski and snowboard bags and luggage.  I think I may have trade in my boring standard Samsonite suitcase pretty soon because finding my current suitcase amongst other similar black bags at baggage claim is never a fun task.

Patagonia Base Layer- Although my boyfriend would disagree that expensive brands like Patagonia and North Face are worth the money, I have to disagree. All their products are very high quality and will last you for years! If you are looking for base layers, I recommend searching towards the end of the season. You can find really good deals at REI and on online outlets.

That’s all for now. Stay warm out there!



½ cup quinoa

½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

2 tablespoons brown sugar, plus more for serving

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 and 2/3 cup water

1 cup milk, plus more for serving

½ cup raisins, toasted nuts, and chopping banana for serving



Combine the quinoa, oats, sugar, cinnamon, milk and 1 2/3 cup water in a small pot. Cook, stirring often, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in raisins and cook until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with the nuts, banana, and more milk and brown sugar if desired.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

KC Restaurant Week

Kansas City restaurant week starts today though January 25th!

Multi-course lunch menus for $15 and dinner menus for $33. KC friends- Which one of these restaurants is a must try?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mussels, Hummus, & Pesto - Oh my!

Last weekend, I was missing my Italy vacation and craving Italian food. To compensate, I decided to try my own take on a mussel recipe I found on the Food Network website by Bobby Flay. I used all the same ingredients as Bobby but just changed the proportions by adding more garlic and wine. I was serving the mussels with a simple broiled Tuscan artisan loaf with olive oil and I wanted more broth and flavor for dipping purposes.

I also decided to make homemade hummus and pesto which I think is going to be a pretty regular occasion moving forward. It was so much easier than I imagined and with the amount of hummus I typically consume making my own should be a lot more cost effective!  To blend, I used my VeggieChop rather than a food processor so both turned out chunkier than your typical hummus and pesto but I actually think I prefer both items that way.

I served my hummus with pita chips as an appetizer while the mussels cooked and decided to save the pesto for Panini’s for lunch the next day. I think later this week I am going to use the rest of the pesto to make a dish similar to Noodles and Company’s Pesto Cavatappi with pasta, mushrooms, tomato, parmesan, chicken and Italian Parsley. Do the same with my recipes below! :)

Tarragon Steamed Mussels
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
3 cups white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

-Heat olive oil in stock pan and when warm sauté shallots and garlic
-Add butter, salt, pepper, mussels, then wine
-Steam with lid on for about 5 minutes
-Take off lid to mix mussels then add tarragon leaves and steam for another 3 minutes
-Serve mussels in a bowl and ladle broth on top

*I cooked my mussels in my new Le Creuset pan and didn’t have enough room for 2 pounds of mussels so I just split the recipe and cooked in two batches.

Sundried Tomato Hummus
1 can garbanzo beans
¼ cup tahini paste
¼ cup lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup olive oil
½ cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil
½ cup pecorino cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
2 gloves of garlic, minced
2/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

-To prepare hummus and pesto, blend items in a food processor to desired texture.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

More Trader Joe's Please

Trader Joes is my happy place. That is, until I get to the checkout counter and realize I have spent three times as much money as I intended. Seriously though, if this store had a reward program I would definitely be platinum.

I love Trader Joe’s because they have all your staple foods, great meats nuts and veggies, and hundreds of other unique products that are so easy to throw in your cart and so much fun to try! While a typical grocery store may carry 40,000 items from all different food vendors, Trader Joe's only stocks about 4,000 items, and 80% of its own brand name. By skipping the middle man Trader Joe’s is able to pass along pretty significant savings to their customers.

There is a pretty common misconception in the public that their products are expensive, which is definitely not true. You will find that many products are way cheaper than your typical grocery stores, especially their frozen fruit and veggies. I think the key to shopping at Trader Joe’s on a budget is:
a. Not shop when you are hungry
b. Have self control
c. Limit yourself to a specific number of "unique items"

I myself usually never follow any of these rules. Hence, breaking my food budget on a pretty typical basis. I will justify however, that if you are looking to cook a quick and healthy dinner, stopping by Trader Joe’s on your way home is perfect. Here were two of my dinners this week that took less than 10 minutes to make:

*Garden vegetable mushroom & asiago chicken sausage with colorful sautéed peppers

*Angus beef with onion, asparagus, and mushroom mix topped with General Tsao stir fry sauce

Trader Joes also has a great website which shares their history, recipes, locations, and announces new products. My favorite part of the website is “how to make bestovers” aka leftovers. They provide a grocery list of items you can buy that will make you one dinner and two different lunches using the items from the grocery list.

Another fun fact about Trader Joe’s is if a product doesn’t sell well, they take if off the shelf! So if you really like a product, tell your friends and family about it so it never leaves. My favorite is the Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream.  It is literally LIFE CHANGING and after browsing their website today I found out they have cookie butter CHEESECAKE too! Who has the next upcoming birthday in my life? I need an excuse to go and purchase this!  I can imagine it will be next on my much loved dessert list.


Leave a comment below with YOUR favorite Trader Joe’s product/s.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mushroom Barley Soup

Its supposed to be a cold one tomorrow so what better way than to warm up with some hot mushroom barley soup? If you haven’t noticed, I love making soup in the fall and winter and my body enjoyed refueling on this nutrient packed soup after two very hard workouts this week :)

-Soak ½ cup barley in water for an hour

-Chop and sauté 1 onion, 2 carrots, and 3 celery sticks in 2 tablespoons of butter in soup or crockpot until onions are translucent

-Add two tablespoons of minced garlic and 8 oz of assorted mushrooms and sauté veggies for another 3-5 minutes

-Add 1 ½ quarts of chicken broth 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and ½ teaspoon of dry thyme

-Drain and add barley and simmer soup for 1 hour

-Ladle and add dill and parley to serve

You can add any assortment of mushrooms but I recommend adding shitake to your mix. I made this soup on Sunday night and had it as leftovers tonight. It was much better tonight because the shitake mushroom flavor was soaked up in the broth. I think this recipe proved to my beer enthusiast boyfriend that barley isn’t only for beer ;) Hope you all stay warm out there!