Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wellness Wednesdays

I'm determined! This is not going to become another food blog! DETERMINED! So I thought and thought and I decided that I would make a concerted effort to avoid that, and thus "Wellness Wednesday" is born! 

So... I'm not as original as I thought, turns out a LOT of people celebrate Wellness Wednesday!

Up until a few weeks ago I was working every Wednesday at the dual language (Chinese and English) preschool in the area. While I'm still at that center a few times a week, I don't have a set and steady schedule anymore! I now find myself with some unexpected free time on Wednesdays! Both jobs knew all about my schedule, so I'm rarely asked to cover shifts that day - woohoo! 

I've been at my two jobs for around seven months, and have been overworking myself for about.... seven months. I do a pretty good job taking care of other people, but I do a pretty crap job of taking care of myself. I'm getting better at setting limits (no more than 50 hours a week between the two jobs, only one 13+ hour work day per week, at least one day off per week, etc), but for a LONG TIME I was saying yes when I should have been saying no, and I could feel my body and spirit breaking down. Along with setting limits I've started to seek out ways to refuel my body, mind, and soul. It might not always be on a Wednesday, but I definitely take some time each week for myself. 

So... what did I do today?

I went to the opthamologist to for the first time in YEARS. Do not wait for years to the opthamologist, mkay? Okay good! I have been abusing my eyes for a long time now, and I'm so glad that I decided that needs to STOP. Once upon a time I had glasses, but I lost them, and I spend way too many hours a day with my contacts in. I'm getting some hot green contacts, and some hot green and brown glasses! Woot! Check 'em out! 
Sassy new glasses for Linnea!
I found several frames that I liked a lot, and if I ever feel like I have a surplus of money, I'd like to get a secondary (or even third...ary...) pair of glasses. I'll tell ya right now that I plan on living in my glasses for at least a week after I get them. My eyeballs deserve a break!

I also treated myself to an eyebrow waxing so that my peepers will look slamming in the glasses, and because I looked like a wildebeest. Mainly because I looked like a wildebeest. 

I had big plans to tackle a rhubarb chutney today, but I wasn't feeling super hot, so instead I decided to take a nap. Naps should be a requirement for Wellness Wednesday, don't you think? Who doesn't love a good nap, am I right?? I must have been tired because I was barely bothered by the contraction outside my window that literally was shaking my house! When I woke up, Martin had just texted to say he was on his way, so we decided to scrap the original dinner plan and work on some of our leftovers instead.

After dinner we watched "Midnight in Paris." WHY did I wait so long to see this?! Oh man, it was so magical! But... a little dangerous too. Now I have a serious desire to get to Paris! Shoot, we're hoping to make it to Germany to visit with Martin's brother before the end of the year (and meet my first nephew! SQUEEE!!!!) so maybe we can sneak in a Paris trip too?! I can wish, right? Anyhow, I totes magoats recommend the movie. 

Ah, Paris! J'adore! 

So that was my Wednesday. Very low key and very restful, which was very needed! Back to the grind tomorrow, as usual! 

What do you do to unwind and renew yourself? 

Got any ideas for me? I take direction pretty well ya'll! 

Shoot...that ya'll just reminded me... did you KNOW that PAULA DEEN has become a eyewear designer? Don't believe me? Please, I beg you, check this out: Coming to a Walmart NEAR YOU! The most disturbing thing is that I actually liked some of her frames. I know. It's frightening! 

Oh, and if you're going to judge me on going to Walmart for my eyeglasses needs, I totally understand! But a chick with no insurance needs to go to the most cost effective place, right? Right. (And I totally laid down some fat cash regardless... just less than if I went to the private practice place!) 

And with that, I'm really signing off! Yooper love, ladies and gents! 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu Planning Monday & Recipe Reviews

Hi all! When we were looking at the schedule for this week, at first it seemed that we wouldn't need to plan as many meals as usual! I'm working several evenings this week, plus my birthday is next Sunday, and we plan on eating out to celebrate! But, we did find five holes that will need to be filled with meals, so here we go!

Monday: Grilled Brats & Creamy Grilled Corn Polenta (Pinterest & Co-op) Fact: Martin worked at the Johnsonville factory near Kiel, WI. Fact: Martin will fight anyone who says that any other brat other than Johnsonville is the best brat. Fact: Memorial Day is a great time for cook outs. Fact: We will be cooking Johnsonville brats today.  ...I'm just trying to fancy us up by also making some polenta! :)

Polenta that has grilled corn in it, yum!
The "King of Brats" Duh. 

Tuesday: Penne Rosa with Shrimp (Pinterest) I am so excited that I pinned this recipe! I love the chick that writes this blog - she reminds me of ME! Best stumble of the day! Did you know that the founders of Noodles & Co. concocted their plan during an orientation exercise at my alma mater, Augustana College? I did! (Augustana rocks, check out our CEOs!) Did you know that this recipe was created due to the love of a Noodles & Co. dish? I didn't! But I happen to love that dish too, and I'm pumped to try this version out!

Shrimp & Pasta? Sign me up!

Wednesday: Bifana & Rhubarb Chutney (Garden) We still need to make use of our rhubarb, and this sounded strange and exciting to us! The picture I took was from a blogger that made this exact recipe, she commented that the tartness of the rhubarb is almost comparable to a granny smith apple, so it's not surprising that rhubarb goes well with pork! Sounds reasonable to me, and I'm excited to try my hand at my very first chutney!

Rhubarb Chutney, I'm coming for you!
Friday: Fancy Pants Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (Cookbook & Pinterest) My sister Michelle submitted a recipe her boyfriend wooed her with for a pear and arugula grilled cheese to our treasury cookbook, and we are planning on trying that too! Fruity grilled cheeses and tomato soup? Sound like the perfect meal to welcome June! 

Not your mama's grilled cheese! 

Saturday: Southwestern Chicken (Slow Cooker) I have to work all day on Saturday, so it is officially slow cooker Saturday! :) My mother started making this meal a while ago and it is one of my parents faves now. I looked for the same recipe online, and I think I found it a couple of times, the only difference being that most called for the chicken to be shredded and for cheese to be added at the end. Martin and I have become pretty skilled meat shredders; plus we are convinced that more flavor gets into the meat when it is added back to the slow cooker post shredding for some extra cooking, thus we will probably be doing that! Cheap, easy, and tasty. That's what I'm talking about! 

Shredded chicken meals never look super pretty, but man they taste good!

So that's our menu for the next week! I said I was going to review the new recipes we tried last week, so get ready for that right... NOW! 

Baked Coconut Shrimp: We whipped this up for our six month anniversary! We both liked the flavor of this dish, and we will try to make it again. You REALLY NEED to use parchment paper when you are baking it, or you WILL LOSE half your coconut coating! Before we make this again, we will certainly invest! We didn't have pineapple preserves, and couldn't see using a whole jar of pineapple preserves in the future, so we used some Keweenaw Kitchen  Raspberry jam instead. The jalapenos and lime juice combined with the rasberries were just lovely, but it was very sweet! Next time we will really chop the jalapanos super fine and add more! 

Hungry Girl Alfredo Bowl: This was that out there recipe that uses tofu noodle substitute, remember? What a comedy of errors this dinner prep was! I'd just gotten back for the hottest Zumba of my life, both of us were hungry and cranky, we had the oven cranked up for the asparagus recipe we were trying, and we realized after we started that we didn't have the ingredients we needed for this recipe! Nothing like getting into a screaming match over putting the "wrong" substitute cheese in, right?! Oh boy! I can't say that we've had this recipe as directed, but when all was said and done, both of us liked what we were eating! The tofu noodles really don't taste bad at all, and the flavors of bacon, roasted red peppers, and mushrooms were yummy. Our "Alfredo" Sauce was just a flop, and yet it didn't ruin the good tastes. I wouldn't be surprised if we tried this again! If you see Tofu noodles, do try them! They aren't bad AT ALL! (Plus, wayyyy healthier than the traditional wheat version!)

Chicken Chili: OH MY GOD! MAKE THIS RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW! Martin and I hit the jackpot when we tried this sooo simple crock pot recipe! It is delicious! I covered part of a night shift for my coworker the other night, and so didn't mean to sleep past noon, but when you get home at five am, I guess it happens! We wanted to make this for dinner and were short on time, so we used our slow cooker tricks! Instead of cooking this for six to eight hours on low, we cooked it for one hour on high, and three hours on low. After we shredded the chicken, we cooked it on low for another half hour. Like I mentioned, we are a big fan of letting the flavors really get into the shredded meat, so we do that with our slow cooker recipes regardless of instructions! It made our whole house smell amazing, and it was so tasty to boot! I wouldn't be surprised if this finds it way into our rotation sooner rather than later! YUM! 

Would you believe me if I told you that I really didn't plan for this to become a food blog? Nah, I wouldn't believe me either. But I really didn't! Maybe one day I'll actually post something that DOESN'T have a "Food" label attached to it! But until then...

Yooper Love! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Our Daily Bread

How is everyone's Memorial Day weekend going? Hopefully everyone is having nice weather, honoring our service men and women, and cooking magical food! At the McGowan Hobmeier household, half of us have been working too much (any guesses who that might be??), and the other half has been pick up the house! What a team, right?

I've been planning on introducing our bread recipe on here anyhow, and since I got a few requests from my facebook friends on one of our variations, I figured today was a great day to do that! Credit needs to go where credit is deserved here. I can distinctly remember having brunch with my friend Helen and her family when she served us some amazing sweet rolls and fresh bread. Color me impressed to find out that Helen has made both using a recipe she claimed was extremely easy and cheap! I made some half hearted claim that I would give it a try, not really thinking I would every tackle it. But when money got tight last year, and my German (read bread enthusiast) husband still wanted to eat bread, I thought it was a good time to give it a go! Thank God we did, we will NEVER buy bread again!

Artisan Bread Boule 
Make 4 One Pound Loaves or 2 Larger Loaves

3 Cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt (we use coarse sea salt)
1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast
6 1/2 Cups flour

* Cornmeal for baking

Combine the salt and yeast in the lukewarm water, and allow it to quick dissolve (a minute or two). Add all flour, and mix together. (We use a kitchen aid mixer and a dough hook and it takes just a few minutes to make a perfect dough. The first time I tried this recipe I tried to mix it by hand, and it was frustrating to say the least. If you have a mixer - USE IT!) Put dough in a container and loosely cover. Allow it to rise for two hours at room temperature, then fully cover and put in the refrigerator overnight. The dough will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge, though it doesn't last that long around here!

This is our storage container - works perfectly!

To bake: Take dough out and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Create a free form loaf (or, Helen bakes it in a loaf pan for uniform sandwich slices) and let rise for 20 minutes.  


Place a pizza stone in oven (if you have one). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once the oven preheats, carefully remove the pizza stone and scatter cornmeal over the surface, and transfer loaf to the stone. Make several cuts to the top of the loaf, then place in the oven. Put a cup of water into a baking dish, and place that in a rack below the bread. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the loaf in a golden brown. 

We make two larger loaves rather than four small ones

Martin and I were at the co-op one day and Martin had an idea to take our standard bread recipe and add sunflower seeds for some crunch. I wasn't sure how I thought it would go, but encouraged him to try it out! All he did was add about a cup of sunflower seeds to the dough when it was mixed up. We really enjoyed it, and I suggested that we should reserve sunflower seeds to sprinkle on top before putting it in the oven! 
The sunflower seeds were an easy addition!
The sunflower seeds added a great crunch!
Delicious straight from the oven!

So that's it! This recipe is SO easy, SO tasty, and SO cost effective! I can not stress how much money we are saving by making this bread. We buy everything in bulk, so consider that 25 pounds of flour is just over $10, a big fancy bottle of sea salt is $4, a massive jug of yeast is $8, and water is free. Pennies on the dollars people! Try it and I bet you won't want to go back either! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Martin (and me!) on: Rhubarb

I'm SO excited to welcome my first (and let's face it, probably my only) guest blogger today! My dear husband Martin did something pretty neat-o with some of our rhubarb, so I kindly demanded that he share it with you all! Who's ready for some... rhubarb pickles??

My guest blogger, Martin, displaying his fine work!

Martin: Linnea and I were driving back from Mackinac while she was flipping through a Rachael Ray magazine she hadn't read yet. She pointed out this recipe and I knew I wanted to try it. I made it on a day when she was working for 14 hours (thus no process pictures!), and we've really enjoyed the finished product! 

I think it's a good way to utilize the rhubarb that grows in our backyard. I love anything that is pickled in vinegar, and it sounded easy enough, so I gave it a try. I liked that it didn't have to be the youngest rhubarb, as other vegetables that you pickle often call for bright or young produce. I would describe the taste of the finished product as tart, with a sweet brine, and the ginger gives it a little zip! (Note: Linnea's favorite part is the pickled ginger! We are thinking about using this recipe to pickle our own ginger at home - stay turned for THAT!)

I did an experiment by substituting lemon juice from the zested lemon for the acid rather than the vinegar. We haven't opened that jar yet, but I figure it will just taste a LOT more like lemons. (We'll let you know if this was a GOOD experiment or a BAD experiment when we open it up!)

Quick Rhubarb Pickles
(Makes three jars - 10 oz each)
2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tbsp coarse salt (he used sea salt)
1/2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
10 whole cloves
10 who black peppercorns
1 piece (1 1/2 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lemon
1 lb fresh rhubarb, cut crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces

In a nonreactive medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, cloves and peppercorns. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is just dissolved, about five minutes. Add the ginger, then use a vegetable peeler to slice strips of zest from the lemon; add to the saucepan. 

Let the liquid cool to room temperature, or about thirty minutes. Divide the rhubarb among three clean, small glass jars. Ladle in the cooled brine mixture. Top with lids and refrigerate the pickles for two days before eating. The pickles will keep refrigerated for up to one month! 

The finished product! Ta-da!

Might I take this moment to thank Martin for (begrudgingly) sharing his kitchen experiment! Thank you sweetie! I would also like to say just how much I LOVE the background of the shot above in the kitchen! I have always been enamored with our built-in cupboard in our kitchen. It used to be where the old wood burning stove lived in the kitchen (once upon a time), and the cupboard ends where the exposed brick fireplace shaft begins! Beautiful AND functional as we use it as storage for our cookbooks - perfection! We just got all the glass jars on the shelves to store our bulk goods from the co-op. Two of the three shelves display grains, lentils, and nuts now! SO pretty! Swoon! And now, back to rhubarb!

I may or may not have bribed my darling hubby to join us here by agreeing to make him a strawberry rhubarb pie. He actually ended up making the pie filling himself while I finished up the blog on yogurt yesterday! I swooped in to make the BEST DARN CRUST in the history of crusts, and to finish up the rest of the pie too. I actually remembered to take pictures, woo hoo! 

A dear friend of the family spearheaded a project to collect favorite recipes from our friends and family as a wedding gift for us. She typed each one up, added graphics, helpful kitchen tips, and quotes, and created a masterpiece of a cookbook for us! My mother submitted my grandmother's crust (the only crust I EVER make) and rhubarb filling recipe to this treasury. Martin and I had some strawberries in the fridge (next time I hope they are from our backyard!) so we decided to make this into a strawberry rhubarb pie... excellent choice my friends. Excellent choice! 

I have NO IDEA how someone could mess up this pie crust, but the quote from my grandmother that accompanies this recipe says, "I do not guarantee my crust recipe as others have tried and failed!" It has NEVER done me wrong, so I hope that you will try it out!

Grandma Strom's Pie Crust  (Measurements for top and bottom crusts)
(Sift/combine ingredients directly into pie plate)
2 cups flour 
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

(In a separate bowl)
2/3 cup Wesson oil
3 tbsp. cold milk

Mix oil and milk with a fork, then pour onto flour mixture and mix with hands. Take off about 1/3 for top crust and set aside. Press remaining crust into pie plate. 

Easy peasy! That's it! If you are making a fruit pie, you don't even need to pre-bake it - it will turn golden brown when you cook the pie up! :) I would have taken step-by-step pictures, but my fingers were quite... gross. Here it is before the filling goes in though! 

Mmm! Pie crust & strawberry rhubarb filling just begging to be baked!

Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
2 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (4 cups if JUST doing rhubarb!)
1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries
1 cup sugar (recipe called for 1 3/4 cups, but we balked at that! One cup was a perfect amount for us!)
2 eggs
4 tbsp flour

Cut pieces to roughly 1/2 inch pieces. Mix flour, sugar, and eggs together and add to strawberry rhubarb mixture. Pour into pie shell.

The flour/egg/sugar mixture makes it look like there is less fruit in here than there actually is!

Crumble remaining crust on top or roll out and cover with lattice strips. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour.

Crumble, crumble, dot, dot!

We kept busy while it was cooking! I did an experiment with the remaining strawberries for a few new summer porridge recipes! The one I tried this morning had 1/4 cup of strawberries, 1 tsp. of vanilla, and 1-2 tsp of honey in it. It was SOOO tasty! I also made one that had 1 tbsp of jam in it. We don't have strawberry jam on hand right now, so I used the last of the Poor Rock Monastery Pincherry jam. I'll let you know how it tastes! The monks run THE BEST bakery/jam shop in the UP called The Jam Pot. We are absolutely addicted to their jam, and gave it as gifts for Christmas just to create a new throng of addicts! :) A MUST VISIT if you are joining us in the copper country! And now, for the fresh from the oven glamour shot:

Oooohhh, Ahhhhh! So perfect!

I had to run to the store to pick up some eggs since we used the last two in the pie, and of course it was a ridiculous trip, as usual. I can NEVER find what I want at the store that is closest to us, which is why we do all our shopping at the co-op and Walmart (I'm ashamed to admit, but it is true!). There are a couple of great grocery stores in the area, but the one near us? TERRIBLE! And expensive! But I will only link using the power of GOOD, not evil, thus I shan't name the store! I did, however, snag us some vanilla ice cream to go with the pie! Best choice ever, duh! 

We are officially pie geniuses! 

I felt a lot of pressure since I made it sound like this was going to be a cornucopia of rhubarb recipes today... and it's so not! SO I did some internet research, and my stars! Someone else has already been there and DONE THAT on their blog, so you should check HER stuff out - because it's awesome! I'm pretty pleased that I did this search because Tasty Kitchen looks like a site that I'm going to truly adore! Enjoy your rhubarb ladies and gents - time for more pie! 

Yooper love!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Using Whatcha Got. And make.

Every once in a while I am suddenly struck by how DIFFERENT my life is now compared to a year ago. Just moments ago I was chatting with a friend about how much of a struggle it is for me to get up and to work by 8AM now. Less than a year ago I was out of bed and at Curves by 6AM most mornings, and on the bus by 7:25AM or I was late! My current jobs offer me very little consistency, but one thing that has happened is that I'm now used to work second shifts. I am a counselor at a 24 hour residential community for teenagers, and the majority of my shifts are 3:30PM-12:30AM. When we switch shifts, I often end up donating 15-30 minutes (or more) to get the next worker caught up on what is going on with the students, and since I live about 15 minutes outside of Houghton, I consider it a job well done if I'm in bed and sleeping before 2. On the other hand, I work in infant/toddler and preschool classrooms that are open from 8-6. Whenever I am scheduled to be in at 8 (or the super painful 7:45!) I inwardly cringe JUST a bit. But I've become a machine, and I can work almost any shift without much trouble now, so huzzah. This week I happen to be tapped to work Tuesday through Friday at 8, and even though I am able to get to bed earlier on the days I'm not working with the teenagers, I find it's very difficult for me to fall asleep, which is a bummer.

I've found that having something to look forward to can help me get out of bed, and my new favorite breakfast is overnight oatmeal, sometimes called summer porridge. I've mentioned that Martin and I have started to make greek yogurt at home, and this recipe is the main reason we looked into making it ourselves in the first place! This is the recipe for greek yogurt that we have been using, but there are a lot of great recipes out there! I liked this one the most because I'm obsessed with my slow cooker, and also because I don't have a candy thermometer and I'm not confident that I will know what 200 degrees looks like by sight! :) 

Our first batch was a total bust in terms of thickness. We managed to make yogurt, but it was quite thin and never got thicker. We are not sure if it is because we used skim milk or if the yogurt that was used as starter cultures wasn't fresh enough, so we tried a slightly different approach the second time. I know that there are a LOT of yogurt makers out there that swear that whole milk is the way to go, but I'm not one of them! I declared that I would never use anything more than 1% milkfat, so 1% it was!

Investing in our local dairy products! 

I had a typically ridiculous yooper experience when I went to the closest grocery store to our house to get the milk and a single starter yogurt, of course! A store clerk was stocking yogurts when I came by to grab a plain greek yogurt. I scanned the rows of Fage, Okios, Greek Gods, and Chobani, and much to my dismay I did not see a SINGLE plain yogurt! How could this be?? I scanned again and also checked for vanilla, since someone specifically asked if vanilla would work in the comment section of the recipe I use. Surely there would be vanilla. No vanilla. No lemon. Not a single variety that didn't say "fruit on the bottom" or had artificial flavors or dyes in it. By now the store clerk had noticed (and probably heard) my distress, and asked if I was looking for something in particular. When I told him what I was looking for, he glanced at his cart of Yoplait Lights, and told me that they didn't have what I was looking for. Not one to accept defeat, I decided that I would make do with what I DID have, and took a peach fruit on the bottom yogurt with the plan that I would scrape the half cup of plain greek yogurt I needed off the top. That's "Yopper Genius" in action people! I grabbed a half gallon of the local dairy, Jilbert's, 1% milk and headed home to create yogurt. Upon suggestion of fellow yogurt makers, I did NOT crank the heat as I had planned, but rather increased the cooking time of the milk by an hour, so I was whisking my scraped yogurt and milk combo by 10PM. I had to work at 8 the next morning, so I started the draining process (we use paper towels rather than cheesecloth) and Martin filled our tubs with four perfect cups of greek yogurt the next day! And we all lived happily ever after. 

The first recipe I linked to, the summer porridge, really WAS the genesis of this yogurt making adventure. Not to make me sound like a crunchy, granola, yogurt making, co-op owning backwoods person, but this oatmeal is SO healthy, and SO easy, and SO satisfying, but SOOOO expensive! Every jar has a quarter cup of greek yogurt, a third of a cup of milk, and one and a half teaspoons of chia seeds in it! Not to mention the produce costs... we love this stuff, but were looking for a way to cut back on costs. A two cup tub of greek yogurt costs around $5 here, and we can now make four cups of yogurt for the cost of milk, which is less than $2. We got the chia seeds on sale at the co-op, so we stocked up and are set for a while! 

The oatmeal is positively wonderful, and stored in the cutest like half pint mason jars this side of ever. We even whipped up some oatmeal for my mom and dad when they visited a few weeks ago, and they liked it so much my mom left with half pint jars of their own to try this at home! We are particularly partial to the rasperry vanilla variety, but we really do love them all. We were blessed with a haphazard garden when we bought our house, and last year we had more raspberries than you could shake your fist at! We're just PRAYING that will happen this year! We also had the sweetest strawberries I've ever tasted, and plan on making our own recipe for summer porridge! I'll let you know what we come up with! 

YUM! Raspberry Vanilla Overnight Oatmeal!
Believe it or not, OURS are even CUTER! 
We have these squat square half pints! SQUEE!

Speaking of our garden, I've strong armed... no, forced... no, ASKED Martin to be a guest blogger on here to talk about one of the ways we are using our overabundance of rhubarb tomorrow! It will be an all things rhubarb extravaganza! I know you can hardly wait, right?

Yooper love! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Menu Planning Monday.. err Tuesday... well... what we are eating this week!

I absolutely LOVE reading what my friend Julie is cooking up for the week in Scottland with her Monday edition of Menu Planning Monday and I thought it would be fun to share what we are cooking up here as well! We recently decided that we MUST plan out at least a few of our meal, regardless of how hectic our schedules are! We were wasting food, buying ingredients that we had a vague plan for, but would never follow through on, and would wait until way too late to figure out what to eat and fall back on quick fixes that didn't pack too much of a nutritional punch.

Our goals/cooking philosophy? Martin and I are on a healthy living journey together, and we have lost nearly 100 pounds together in the last two years JUST to start packing it back on when our schedules started to get crazy! We're striving for clean cooking and local eats when possible, but are really focused on overall health more than losing a certain amount of weight. We are leaning more and more towards homemade goods, and already make bread and greek yogurt at home. We plan on adding other store bought things to our to-do list over time!

When we sit down to create our menu, we try to pick one from a cookbook we own, one for the slow cooker, one from my Pinterest account, and one using items that we buy in bulk from our AMAZING Co-Op. Sometimes the universe combines to create a perfect recipe that combines more than one of these categories at once. When that happens we sit back and ooooo and ahhhh at the wonder and glory that is. that. recipe. :) Now! On to the menu!

Dinner #1: Dr. Oz's Pomegranate Salmon and Bulgar (Cookbook Recipe & Co-Op bulk bulgar) I searched online but I have NO link to a recipe or picture of this gem of a recipe, so I chose the one that looks the most like our actual dinner! The salmon is glazed with reduced pomegranate and orange juice, and the bulgar has apricots and radish in it - SUPER yum! We can't get fresh salmon up here, which is a BUMMER, because it is perfection when made with super fresh salmon!

Dinner #2: Slow Cooker Chicken Chili (Pinterest & Slow Cooker... OooOooo, AahhHhhh) My mouth started to water when I saw this, and Martin needed little to no encouragement for us to try this out this week! :) 

Dinner #3: Planet Hungrywood Sweet & Cap'n Crunchy Chicken (Cookbook & Favorite Meal) I lurve me some Hungry Girl recipes, and I'm a huge Hungry Girl cookbook freak. I only have like... five of her cookbooks. Yup! We both love these chicken fingers! 

Dinner #4: Baked Coconut Shrimp (Pinterest) Martin & I are totally addicted to coconut shrimp, so when I stumbled on a baked version, we knew we would have to try it! I am SO reviewing this for you after we make it! 

Dinner #5: Hungry Girl's Bacon Alfredo Bowl (Cookbook) This is our out-there experimental dish of the week. Hungry Girl goes ON AND ON about tofu shaped noodles and how they are the best thing since ever. I've been searching for them for years now and have never laid eyes on them... until Saturday! The Co-Op had JUST gotten in a shipment so we snagged a few bags and are going to give this a go! Eek! 

Phew! That was more work than I expected it to be! But, I'm excited to share these ideas as we experiment in the kitchen! Happy cooking from the UP! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

And then he said "About what?"

I've been playing with the idea of starting a blog about living in the UP of Michigan almost since the day we closed on our house a year ago. We had so many Mayberry moments before I even packed my things to move up here that I knew I'd want to record them for the future. So what did I do? Absolutely NOTHING! I still remember some of those experiences in vivid detail, but others are fading fast, and some are completely gone! I've been living up here for just shy of a year now and I can't believe how much I've changed, and how much that has to do with my surroundings and the Yooper way of life. I plan on reflecting on our life together, cooking adventures, crafting creations, and my overwhelming Pinterest obsession on here! I hope you'll enjoy a peek into our lives.

Speaking of "our," the title of this post is courtesy of my loving husband, Martin. I mentioned to him that I was thinking about starting a blog and his response was to stare blankly at me and ask, "About what?" I was so shocked that he didn't jump on my blogging bandwagon that I got the "I'll show HIM!" mentality and started one right then and there! We're interesting! We do things! We experiment with foods! We make things! We can TOTALLY be the next Young House Love couple to watch, right? RIGHT? Okay, maybe not, but we DO have a 100 year old house that we are updating as we can afford it, are passionate about saving money where we can, and are willing to try making things at home that most people would just buy from the store. Thus, I am justified in creating this blog. So... there! 

So I'll close tonight with a little yooper tidbit for you - you MIGHT be living in the UP if it is 95 and dry as dust on Saturday, and 50 and HAILING on Sunday. I may have grown up in Chicago, but I don't think I recall that much of a weather switch up in less than one day! I mean... rain, sure! We could use some rain! But HAIL? Chunks of ice flying at our house after sweating all over the place just hours prior? Nope... that's pure Michigan for ya! :) 

Yooper Love!