Get in my belly!

IMG_20130823_112949_213While I haven’t been to any state fair other than the great Minnesota get together, I would be willing to make a wager that we have the best one in the country.  You can get everything from Apple Pie to Walleye Cakes and  all things in between.  While they do have a few healthy options like fresh fruit on a stick, most things are deep-fried and I’d have it no other way.   The Minnesota State Fair is he one time all year I can eat as much deep-fried food as I want and not feel too guilty.  This year, I even had a mini donut beer brewed by Lift Bridge Brewing Company in Stillwater, Minnesota!  Yes, I said a mini donut beer and it was deliciously rich with a touch of sweetness from its lovely sugared rim.

In order to make the most of our State Fair experience, my husband and I buy one of everything we want and split it.  That way, we can sample more items.  We also take lots of breaks in the shade to let the food settle 🙂  My favorite pit stop was Giggles Campfire Grill.  They had a gorgeous new craft brew room with a cozy cabin feel showcasing large vaulted ceilings, cement floor and picnic tables.  It even had a fireplace (not that you want that in the blazing heat but I’m sure its fabulous in the fall).  The beer room had 20 beers on tap and a good selection of Minnesota wine’s.  Grab a craft beer and a chicken fried bacon and you will be in heaven!  

While I didn’t think we ate that much, by the time I left the fair I felt like total crap with all that salt and sugar rolling around in my belly.  And when I look at the list below it’s a bit embarrassing.  It sure tastes good at the time, but that salt and fat catches up with you quick in the hot sun.  Next year, I might need to span shoving food in my mouth over 2 days verse eating everything at once.  Or, I guess there is always eating less but that isn’t any fun.

Here is the embarrassing list of what we ate:

  • Breakfast sausage/pancake corn dog with maple syrup dipping sauce  (new food this year and it was my favorite)
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  • Green olives stuffed with cream cheese, breaded and deep-fried (new food this year and it was really good!)
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  • Roasted corn on the cob
  • Sunny in a boat with lingonberry dipping sauce
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  • Mini donut beer (this is a new item I was skeptical of but it was surprisingly yummy, even for a girl like me who doesn’t like beer that much).
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  • Cheese Curds
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  • Cheese on a stick
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  • Sausage Sampler (they had a new bourbon-worst that was good)
  • Deep fried pickle sampler (the cream cheese stuffed ones are the best)
  • Fudge Puppy (I’m not a huge fan of sweets, but this is incredible!)
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  • Tub of Taffy (This we just buy and take home)

What’s your favorite food at the fair?

Eeeek…it’s my 1st garden!

It’s no secret I love to cook. And being able to have fresh picked ingredients for my meals is a dream. But this girl isn’t known for having a green thumb. In fact, my hubby typically takes care of watering the indoor plants. However, now that we live in “the cabin” full time and I actually have a yard, this year it was time. Time to have my own farm fresh ingredients grown by me!

I am starting with more of a simple garden with plants I am hoping are easier to grow since they need full sun. And full sun I have! I planted tomatoes, jalapeño and cilantro so I can make fresh pico de gallo. I planted basil for my favorite caprese salad and chives just because I can use them on anything.

I vow to water my garden and only cook the best of dishes with my ingredients. If anyone has any tips for me as I embark on this new adventure, please share!

Happy Sunday everyone!

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My favorite things of 2012

Another year has passed and I am ever so thankful for a healthy family, an amazing husband, good friends, great job and comfortable home.  2012 was a fun year, much of which was spent learning about my new Frenchie, Burton, and cooking up a storm!  I have a few standout “favorite things” from 2012 as well.  Here they are!

French Bulldogs: I finally wore down my husband and he let me get my dream dog.  LOVE my little frenchie Burton…isn’t he cute?

Me and Burton

Me and Burton

Burton at 9 weeks

Burton at 9 weeks

Canned tomatoes: I made these for the first time this year.  SO DANG GOOD!
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J.Lohr Chardonnay: Found a great new chardonnay this year thanks to a wine tasting party!

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Kitchen Window: I discovered this store late in 2012 when I went to a Thai cooking class.  The retail store has everything you could need and want for your kitchen at reasonable prices.  Awesome!

New Girl: This show totally cracks me up.  I literally bust out laughing multiple times during the short 30 minutes it’s on.  It actually gives Modern Family a run for it’s money too (Gasp!!  It’s true!)

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Old Navy fleece PJ pants: I know what you are thinking…sexy!  But these are cheep ($5-7/pair) and they are so warm!  Much needed when you live in Minnesota.
Women's Performance Fleece PJ Pants - Blue Zebras

What were your favorite things of 2012?

I <3 #yumPower!

Wait, you don’t know what yumPower is?  Let me tell you, I’m obsessed with this campaign!  I have heard yumPower explained as the next big social movement intended to help promote a healthy lifestyle through what you eat!  You know, like anti-smoking, click it or ticket, etc.  The thing about healthy eating is that it doesn’t have to be bland and boring.  Believe it or not, healthy eating is tasty and can be quick and easy once you get into the groove!

Cooking healthy is a passion of mine and I am always looking for new ways to make what I love in healthier ways.  Now I know what you are thinking, ‘Melissa, your blog has all sorts of NON-healthy food items.  How can you claim to be all obsessed with health eating?’  Let me explain.

What you likely don’t know is that Monday – Friday, I am a healthy eating phene.  My husband and I pack breakfast, lunch and snack each day and I cook a healthy dinner.  There is an extreme rare occasion we eat these meals out during the week (I’m talking maybe 1 time/month IF THAT!).  Packing your own food during the week allows you to control your portions and save a ton of money.  For breakfast, we do a yogurt parfait (Vanilla Yogurt, Fresh/Frozen Fruit and Granola), breakfast smoothies or my new obsession, hot quinoa with fruit and nuts.  For lunch, keep it simple with a sandwich, salad or dinner leftovers and a piece of fruit and string cheese.  We avoid the sugar sweets, soda and treats during the week.  By doing that, we afford ourselves the opportunity to eat what we want on the weekends.

So, why did I choose this week to start talking about yumPower?  Because I got to do a couple really awesome things this past week;

  1. yumPower Cooking Class: I went to a yumPower cooking class, Family meals in minutes!  While I don’t have children, I was excited to go to this class.  I’ll admit, since I cook all the time, I wasn’t sure how much I’d learn.  But, the class was incredible and I can’t say enough about it.  We watch live cooking demo’s, sampled three amazing dishes and heard incredible tips from a Registered Dietitian from Regions Hospital.  I had a total blast and I would highly recommend atteding one of these FREE classes.  Yes, FREE.  (Cooking classes are usually $60+/session so this is a deal!!!)
  2. Twin Cities Live taping featuring Andrew Zimmern: A co-worker of mine won tickets to a live taping of Twin Cities live and offered up a ticket to go with.  PICK ME!  PICK ME!  Helloooooo……PICK ME!  And he did!  Well, he didn’t pick me, apparently I was the first to ask for the tickets.  Works for me.  The reason I was so excited about this, is because Andrew Zimmern was on the show and he is the face of yumPower.  I typically could care less about celebrities, but I love Andrew!  We spent the afternoon watching the live show and learning about producing a TV show from one of the directors.  It was just a really fun experience and something I was excited about.

So there you have it, a couple of the reasons I’m onboard the yumPower campaign.  Kudos to HealthPartners and the other sponsors of this fabulous campaign.  It’s incredible!

Want to learn more about yumpower?  Here are some resources:

My healthy food blogs: Caprese SaladPeach Salsa, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pecans and Avocado

Burton’s introduction to Dog Shows!

What’s up people!  I’m Burton and I’m a 7 month old French Bulldog.  Last week, my humans took me to my first dog show in Hutchinson, Minnesota (It was my moms first dog show too).  And let me tell you what, THAT was interesting!  Looking back I should have known something was up.  For the last couple weeks, my mom has been taking me to a “conformation class” at the Pet Junction.  It’s alright, you know, if your into that sort of thing.  We basically went so she could learn how to “show” me.  But for me, it was a good opportunity to sniff some butt’s.  The other humans don’t seem to like when I do that to their dogs.  One of them even told my mom to “Watch your dog honey!”.  Geez, relax!

Anyhow, the humans put me into the car Saturday and made me ride in it for like 90 minutes.  When we got to the dog show, I was in Heaven!  There were Bitches everywhere!  And NO, this is not an insult.  That is what I kept hearing them call all the lady dog’s…Bitches.  Since I’m a boy, I was just called a Dog.  Works for me!

My mom seemed nervous when we got there which made me a little worried.  I decided to calm her nerves by puking on the floor and making her pick it up with her hands.  Apparently no one keeps paper towels around at a dog show.  And right when my mom was picking it up, some old dude ran up to me and felt my butt.  RUDE!  He said he “liked my rear movement and thought I’d be a good stud dog”.  OK, now I’m flattered!  Sounds like an opportunity to meet some ladies.  Turns out though, the old dude owned my Dad.  Random.  I’ve never met him, my Dad.  I have some words for him, but I’ll take the high road and keep my mouth shut.

I was in ring 4 at 9am.  First, the English Bulldogs and Boston Terriers showed themselves in the ring.  Then, it was my turn.  Apparently there are different age groups so I was in the Dogs 6-9 month category.  I was the only one in that category.  Naturally, I walked into that ring with some confidence but then thought I’d rally the crowds and puked again right by my mom’s feet.  Bonus points?  Apparently not.  I was put up on the show table, some other dude felt me up and then told me to walk around the ring.  Guess what…I got a blue ribbon!  But please, don’t tell anyone I was the only guy in my category.  I still got a blue ribbon!  I got to go back in the ring with all the other dogs and compete for another ribbon but I didn’t win best dog.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed learning about the world of dog shows.  What did I learn?  These people are intense, I loved all the ladies, and I’m excited to do it again.  Next time, I hope to spare my mom red cheeks and keep the puke in my belly.

Love, Burton

***Deal Alert – Wusthof Knives***

I’m obsessed with my Wusthof knives at home.  I have a set of Wusthof classics from my wedding in 2007 and they were the best thing I registered for.  Yes, they are spendy.  But if you cook, it saves you time in the kitchen due to the sharpness of the blade.  Plus, it saves your wrists if you do lots of chopping.  Totally worth the investment!

At the cabin, I had some random knives that I scraped up because I couldn’t afford to buy another set of amazing knives. But then I stumbled on the most amazing deal.  A set of Wusthof knives on sale at Macy’s!  They are not Wusthof’s top of the line knife, but they are still really decent.  They were originally $299 for the box set and I recently got them on sale for $119!  Yup, pretty awesome.

I’m sure the deal won’t last so better buy them while you can!

**The were originally $299 on sale for $199 and then an extra 40% off in the store = $119**

Here are the knives at Macy’s: Silverpoint II 18 piece set