Category Archives: Family & Friends

Chicken Rice Bake

Today, I’m spending some time with my MIL’s family.   Grandma and Grandpa on that side are celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary!  Big congratulations to them!

So while we are off enjoying the nice weather and delicious food, I’m sharing an easy meal for you, too!  Craig was thrilled when he saw I was making rice instead of quinoa, but I have no doubt that you could easily sub that in.  It’s just that when you live with a man with a very simplistic palate, you can’t get too crazy.  Of course, I’m using the term “crazy” very loosely here.

The Le Creuset baking dish I used has some sentimental value.  As we celebrate a big milestone for Craig’s grandparents, I’m remembering my own Grandma Jeanne.  My Aunt Julie gave me this dish as a wedding gift with the sweetest note.  My grandma passed away when I was in middle school.  I definitely have some memories, but I also rely on my parents and Aunt Julie to fill some of the rest in.  Grandma J loved cooking/baking with Le Creuset dishes – a fact I learned of with my wedding gift.  Grandma was an outstanding chef.  You could always count on her for a kick ass cheese cake and daily waffle breakfasts when we were staying with her.

chicken bake 2

– 2 chicken breasts, cooked
– 4 c cooked brown rice
– 1 c frozen corn
– 15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
– 1 c sour cream
– 4 oz can green chilis
– 1/2 c salsa
– 1 c cheddar cheese
– 2 Tbs fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients, except cilantro.  Season with salt & pepper.  Transfer to an oven safe dish and bake for 20-25 min.  Garnish fresh, chopped cilantro.

chicken bake 1

This is also great reheated, Craig and I, both, enjoyed this for lunch a couple days later the week I made this.

To give credit, where credit is due, this recipe is original to HowSweetEats.  I opted to add more corn and to use sour cream instead of the Greek yogurt she suggests.  Remember, I live with a man that doesn’t like “weird” things, Greek yogurt wasn’t going to fly.

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Tator Salad

On Friday, I thought this weekend was going to be jam-packed; but it ended up being incredibly lazy.  And I loved it.

Friday, I finally got to spend some much needed time with Kim.  Man, I missed her.  Heck, I still do.  Four hours isn’t enough time to make up for three months of absence!  We were joined by some other friends and her parents were awesome enough to grill up some dinner.  We enjoyed hot dogs, chicken, burgers, potato salad (WITH celery, and yes, I still enjoyed it…I’m excellent at picking around celery!), grilled corn, and amazing chocolate cake.  Pair that with a hilarious go at Cards Against Humanity (with Kim’s mom!) and you have one amazing evening.

Kim Collage

Saturday, I was supposed to head to IL for a bachelorette party, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get in the car for two hours.  That’s probably really awful of me.  I’m admitting it.  But, I haven’t kept in great touch with any of the girls and the thought of socializing with a group of women I’m now on the “outside” of, just didn’t sound appealing.  Instead, Craig and I had a sushi date, we rented a movie, and sat our happy asses on the couch.  It was glorious.

sushi

—   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —   —

Among the things I love about summer, is the bountiful amounts of potato salad.  You can’t go to a BBQ or party of any kind and not find some version of it.  There’s one problem though.  I hate celery.  Hate it.  And more often than not, you’re going to find celery in potato salad.  Eck.

Here is my very own potato salad recipe – sans celery.

JessisPotatoSalad

– 5 large potatoes
– 4 hard boiled eggs
– 1 medium vidalia onion, chopped
– 1/2 c sweet pickle relish
– 1/2 tsp garlic salt
– 1/2 tsp celery salt
– 1 Tbs yellow mustard
– 3/4 c mayo
– salt and pepper to taste

Boil peeled potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool, chop.
Peel eggs, chop, and put into a large bowl with potatoes.
Add onion, relish, garlic salt, celery salt, mustard, pepper and mayonnaise. Mix together well and refrigerate until chilled.

Funfetti Dip

In addition to Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe, there are a few other things that I’m thankful to have left Tennessee with.  Despite it being a rough year for me, I did manage to leave with some pretty special people in my corner.  Most notably, Bobbie Jo and Allison.  You met Bobbie Jo in July, when she came to visit.  I miss that little southern peach!

jo lunch

I also left with another yummy treat – Funfetti Dip!  How on earth have I managed to go 26 years without trying this stuff!?  It is delicious and healthy (it has Greek yogurt…OBVIOUSLY healthy. ha).  Okay, it isn’t healthy, but it’s still yummy.  I promise you aren’t going to want to share.

funfettidip

– 1 box funfetti cake mix
– 2 c cool whip
– 2 c yogurt

sprinkles
vanilla wafers, graham crackers, animal crackers

Mix everything up reeeal good.  Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.  Add some colored sprinkles on top ‘cos it’s purdy.  Refrain from eating it out of the bowl with a spoon when in the company of others; it’s poor manners.

Right Now

Last night I went for an original work out!  You might remember back in May I danced in a recital with some other women.  It was a blast, but I definitely had my moments of frustration and thoughts of, “I don’t think I can do this.”  But, I did.  Various nights this summer, the choreographer, Teri, has put together workshops so that we can keep dancing without the pressure of performing.

My schedule finally let me get there last night and I’m so glad I went.  She held both a Contemp and Hip Hop workshop, but I only did the hip hop.  Not that I consider myself very “hip hop,” but the dances are much more similar to poms and I just do better with that!  It doesn’t require as much contortion.  Well, it isn’t really contortion, but when you’re “old” like me, it starts to feel that way!

I was way proud of myself.  One of the biggest struggles I had this winter/spring with dancing was MEMORY.  Oh my gosh.  The frustration was incredible.  But, last night, I’m proud to say I easily caught on!  That’s more like it!  It got pretty schwetty, but it was a blast.  I love work outs that don’t really feel like work outs!

Teri always videos the final product so we have something to show for our hard work.  Here it is!  Enjoy!

Wisconsin State Fair

Can’t wait to share all of the delicious, totally healthy food finds from Wisconsin State Fair on Monday!

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Frosty July Weekend

Part of northern Wisconsin were under a frost advisory this weekend.  In July.  What on earth?

Thankfully, we didn’t have to deal with that mess, but it was still quite chilly.  Especially for my mama who is visiting from Texas.  …and didn’t bother to check the weather before packing.  Poor woman didn’t have a jacket and only had a single pair of jeans.  That’ll teach ya.

Saturday morning, Craig and I headed to the bank to get our Cashier’s Check for Tuesday.  Yes, we are closing in about 24 hours! I’m getting so excited.  It’s been nothing short of a nightmare getting to this point.  But, we did a drive-by with my mom to show her our new digs and it was pretty thrilling to see the “sold” sign finally posted in the front of the house!

Saturday night, mom, Craig, and I headed to Pewaukee Lake.  They were having a “Taste of Lake Country,” where a bunch of local restaurants had tents.  There was live music too.  But, remember when I said it was freezing?  We lasted just long enough to scarf down some prime rib sandwiches before we headed back to the house.

SN: I grew up in Wisco where a lot of people say “pop” for “soda.”  I call it soda, but can’t recall ever seeing “pop” on a menu.  Usually it’s soda or fountain drinks or soda, right?

photo 1

Sunday was fun!  Mom and I headed to the Sprecher Brewery tour in Milwaukee.  Craig and I are obsessed with Sprecher Cream Soda, but I wasn’t familiar with any of their beers.  YUM.  I’m starting to really get a taste for beer.  Though, I can’t yet say that I actually enjoy any of the Bud Lights, Coors Light, Miller Light, etc.  Too watery.  But, some of these microbrews I’m starting to try are delicious!

sprecher Collage

Mom also got to see the campus I work on and other parts of downtown Milwaukee.  I said goodbye to mom this morning after my doctor’s appointment.

Speaking of which, I’m happy to report that my appointment went famously.  My body was a champ and took care of itself (for once!).  This is busy, busy week and this appointment had the potential to make my week pretty disastrous.  BUT, not even thinking about that anymore, because it went well and I’m as healthy as a horse.  Now, I can just focus on all of the other positive things happening this week.  I got a couple of sweet comments and emails from you all.  THANK YOU.

Craig is hoping that this happy outcome may mean that my baby craziness may subside a little bit.  Maybe it will, a little bit. 🙂

That Time I Used 15 SPF

….and paid for it.

Ugh.  I’m about as fair as they come.  Blonde hair, blue eyed, Danish girl.  And for SOME REASON I thought it was a great idea to head to the beach for the afternoon with 15 spf.  Not only was it just 15, I’m pretty sure I had sweat it all off by the time we got there anyway.  And I spent the whole time on my stomach, because that is just far more comfortable.  amiright oramiright?

Outside of scorching my back, it was a great, jam-packed weekend.

My little sister made an impromtu visit Friday night!  We grilled out and got ice cream on the beach.  We watched a storm across the lake – which was really neat.  I had a cool picture, but have since lost it.  Sigh.

Saturday, I went to the eye doctor and picked out new glasses.  I haven’t had new glasses since my sophomore year of college.  Woot.  Then, I finally got a new phone.  My old iPhone was getting SO slow.  But, upgrading without backing up my phone meant I lost a crap ton of pictures.  Whoops.  I have no pictures from this weekend.  Sad panda.

Those errands were followed up by baking on the beach and dinner/drinks with our good friends, Tom and Lindsey.  We’ve decided we are going to try to head to Vegas over New Year’s.  None of us have been there (can you believe that!?).  I think they’ll be great travel pals.  Craig and Tom and so much alike it’s creepy and I adore Lindsey.

vegas

Sunday, Craig golfed with his pops and I spent time with Allie.  She is in town from Denver for a bit.  It’s always nice to spend time with her.  Highlight of Sunday was the Twinkle Cone from a hometown ice cream stand, Cone Zone.  If you have never had a Twinkle Cone, you have not lived a full life.  Do it.  I’ve seen them at a number of stands.  It just must be done.  Here, you can see it with strawberry ice cream – Al had pomegranate, which was surprisingly tasty.

iccream Collage

So, here is Monday.  No fun Monday.

Colorado Vacation, Part 3

Writing about the final portion of my trip just reinforces that my vacation is over. I mean, just in case the perpetual exhaustion or catch up at work wasn’t enough.

So, Sunday, Craig and I left the Springs and he dropped me off at Allie’s house. I’ve known Allie since first grade – that’s a really long time! We lost and regained touch over the years, but she and her family have been there whenever I’ve needed a family. When my parent’s moved to Texas when I was in college, her parents stepped in and provided a support system for me. They’re pretty great.

One of the best things about spending time with Allie is that it’s effortless. We are both perfectly comfortable with silence. I love that we can sit and drink wine and watch a movie and feel no obligation to talk. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone sitting next to you, enjoying time together in silence. We made no special plans. In fact, I spent most of my two days with her walking dogs with her. Allie owns Yappy Walks, the dog-walking company I highlighted a few months ago.

My favorite Yappy Dog

My favorite Yappy Dog

Between Monday and Tuesday, we banked 14 miles walking! I feel a little bit better about falling behind on my running. Walking that distance in the altitude is no easy feat. I forget how much that silly altitude can impact my endurance! The weather was perfect – I really enjoyed consistent sunshine and warm temperatures.

While there, I had the chance to walk Sloan’s Lake. When I lived in Denver for a hot minute, I ran around this lake on almost a daily basis since I lived just a block away. While those Colorado folk may call it a lake, to me, it’s a small pond. I couldn’t believe it when I saw people skiing on it – it’s so little! But, it sure is beautiful.

c sloans
c sloans 2

During our first day walking, Allie and I grabbed lunch at the Cherry Cricket in Cherry Creek. If you’re ever in Denver and you’re looking for a great burger, check it out. You essentially build your own burger (white cheddar, fried egg, and jalapenos for this girl!) and you can get frings as a side (yep, that would be onion rings and fries!). It was one of my two requests while in Denver. You aren’t surprised it was food, right?

c cherry cricket

For dinner that night we had yogurt. No shame. Denver was the first place I experienced those mix-and-match yogurt places. Allie may be the only person I know that I feel shameless eating ice cream for dinner with.

c yogurt

My last request for Denver was a sushi date at Japon. Is anyone really surprised that BOTH of my requests ended up being food-related? Sigh. Anyway, Japon has the best sushi roll I have ever had. EVER. It’s called the California Dynamite Roll. I’ve had them elsewhere, but none of them touch this bad boy.

Don't worry, this wasn't all for me!

Don’t worry, this wasn’t all for me!

So, the last few days of my vacation were incredibly relaxing, which was nice considering the first half of my trip was go-go-go. I got a lot of walking in, a few glasses of wine, great food, and quality time with one of my best friends.

Back home, sweet home

Back home, sweet home

ABCs of What The Efff

Whoa.  Post-vacation is kicking my butt.  I needed a filler-post.  Sorry.  I still think it’s pretty fun, though.  Thanks, Kim for the idea!

Here is a little bit more about this blog and the gal behind it!

A. Attached or Single?
Happily attached for about 10 months now. Hi, hubby!

COUPLE

B. Best Friend?
I’m very much a quality over quantity person. I’ve never had a ton of friends, mostly acquaintances. But, the people I do call my friends are the best there are. They each fulfill something very specific for me. I’m eternally grateful for each of them.

sillyfriends

C. Cake or pie?
Cake! The only pie exception I make is pumpkin pie. And then I don’t eat the pie crust. Gross. Unless its graham cracker.

D. Day of choice?
Saturday. Friday I’m tired from the week. Sunday, I’m dreading going back to work. The rest of the weekdays I’m über busy working and it tires me out!

E. Essential item?
Cell phone. It might as well be an extension of my body.

F. Favorite color?
I don’t have one. It honestly varies year-to-year and based on my mood.

G. Gummy bears or worms?
Worms! Specifically the sour gummy worms! Even more specifically, the Troll brand. YUM. Sometimes they make my teeth hurt, but it’s worth it (and probably not normal?).

H. Hometown?
Milton, Wisco, baby! Small town, Wisconsin girl!

I. Favorite indulgence?
Anything sweet. Anything. My sweet tooth will be the death of me.

J.  January or July?
January. NO question. I HATE being hot. Living in Tennessee was a special kind of hell for me in the summer months. I am a crabby B when I’m too hot.

snow

K. Kids?
None yet. Someday? Maybe?

L. Life isn’t complete without…?
My furbabies. They can always turn my day around. They make me mad. They chew things. They throw up. But, man. When I need a serious pick-me-up – I can count on them!

Cuddle Buddies

M. Movie favorite?
If you read my latest Sunday Social, you know that McClintock! is my favorite all-time movie. Mostly because of the memories I associate with it. But, comedies and romantic comedies are my favorite now. And I typically don’t enjoy any “based on true events” sports films. They all end the same.

N. Number of siblings?
One wittle seester. She’s pretty neat. Love you, Kels!

ShamrockShuffle

O. Oranges or apples?
Apples. The weird skin stuff on oranges freaks me out. Not the orange part, but the white stuff on the inside. It’s bitter. And nasty.

P. Phobias?
I don’t think I have a legit phobia. But I get really uncomfortable in elevators and at heights. Flying in airplanes doesn’t bother me for the height reason, strangely. But, stick me in a fire tower and I WILL have a mild panic attack.

R. Reasons to smile?
My husband. Family. Friends. Furbabies. Food.

S. Season of choice?
Fall. It’s cool. Not humid. But, not frigid. Perfection.

fall

T. TV show?
King of Queens. No doubt. Love me some Kevin James.

U. Unknown fact?
Maybe it isn’t unknown, but it’s unique – my hair is naturally curly. I’d prefer it if you didn’t touch it. Or play with it. Please.

V. Vegetable?
I don’t love vegetables. I like asparagus. I hate carrots. Unless they’re cooked. Oh, oh, oh, but I HATE celery. No matter how it’s prepared.

W. Worst habit?
Biting my fingernails. It’s awful. I do it from boredom, anxiety, nervousness. Pretty much any reason you could think of. Definitely wish I didn’t.

X. Xray or Ultrasound?
Neither? Any time I’ve had either of them were not for happy reasons. My life is better without either of them.

Y. Your favorite food?
Mashed potatoes. And anything sweet.

Z. Zodiac Sign
Pieces. I’m not really into that kind of stuff, though.

Colorado Vacation, Part 2

After our healthy, delicious meal at Chick fil a (healthy? hahahahhaa), Craig and I headed out of the Springs for the main event!

We checked into an Econo Lodge (not-so-nice, in the middle of no where, literally the only choice for over a half hour).  After a little bit of primping, our friend, Bob, arrived with his date, Sabrina.  I absolutely adore Bob.  He is another Wisco guy.  He lived with Craig in the Springs and stood in our wedding.  Bob is just the kind of guy you want the best of things for.

Bob and Allie in our wedding

Bob and Allie in our wedding

The wedding was just a mile drive from the hotel.  The ceremony and reception, both, took place in the backyard of the bride’s parents.  It was beautiful.

ceremoney Collage

Unfortunately, it rained through the whole ceremony.  I was pretty bummed for them, but they didn’t let it ruin their day.  Lindsey was gorgeous and Taylor just had the most adorable grin plastered on his face the entire afternoon and evening.

Instead of a candle or sand ceremony, they did a wine box ceremony.  They both wrote love letters to each other, sealed them up into an envelope and placed it into a wooden chest, along with a bottle of wine and two wine glasses.  Taylor and Lindsey will open it on their first anniversary and be reminded of their feelings on the day they said “I do.”  I’ve never seen that done as part of a ceremony and I have to admit, I loved it.

w the kiss

THE KISS

w hubbywife

Of course, as soon as the ceremony was finished and everyone moved into a tent, the rain stopped.  Timing is funny like that, isn’t it?  It was good it stopped though because then we didn’t get wet standing in line for our beer, dinner, or playing corn hole (it will always be “bags” to me…but apparently everywhere else, but Wisconsin, it’s called corn hole).

w bags

Dinner was Chipotle.  Enough said.

w chipotle

After dinner, as the speeches were being done, Taylor and Lindsey read the vows they had written to one another.  They were nice enough to skip over it during their ceremony (I had no idea anything was skipped!), but I liked that they still took the time to read them in front of everyone.  I just love this couple.

w vows

Vows

w speech

Their first dance was to an Elvis Presley song.  Too cute.  Craig and I had a discussion before the wedding – Craig thought that no country would be played (the groom hates it), but I knew that the bride would win that battle and she is a huge country fan.  And sure enough – country was the majority of the play list!  When I asked Lindsey about it, she said that Taylor wanted nothing to do with the music portion, so she went nuts and made sure it was music that she would like.  As the compromise, Taylor picked the first dance.  It was adorable.

w first dance

As it got dark, the dance floor was lit by Christmas lights.  It just looked so simple and classic.  The weather ended up being perfect and it seemed like everyone has a blast.  Congrats to the newlyweds, Taylor and Lindsey, our favorite Colorado natives!

w dance floor lights

w playhouse

couple Collage

couple silly Collage

w groom

The groom, Taylor

w pic with newly

The next morning, I drug 3 hung over cats out of bed and we headed back into the Springs for breakfast.  There is a Packer bar downtown called Tony’s.  Their Bloody Mary breakfast is to die for.  Greasy bar breakfast and Bloody Marys?  I don’t think it gets any better than that!  I scarfed that food down so fast – I think I might’ve forgotten to breathe.  I didn’t even remember to take a picture.

w tony

After breakfast, we sadly said “goodbye” to Bob and headed to Denver.  Craig dropped me off with Allie and he headed to the airport.  Now, on top of missing my furbabies, I also miss my husband!  I’m flying home tonight and I can’t wait to snuggle with my three favorite boys.  I’ll be back Friday with the final leg of my Colorado trip!