FriendsgivingI’ve said it before, but somethings are worth repeating: I have amazing friends. You know the saying “friends are the family you get to choose”? That’s how I feel about these people. No matter what we’re doing, two things are certain: We will laugh until our sides hurt or until we cry (sometimes both), and we will eat good food.

Last year we had our first “Friendsgiving,” and it was such a success that we decided to repeat it this year. I had the privilege of hosting this year’s event, and I used it as an excuse to break out all of my serving dishes and the never-used, real silverware!

I also had the honor of making the turkey and gravy. This was only the second or third time I’d ever made a turkey in my life, and I am glad to report that it was a success! I used a new recipe, and while the flavor was good, wrestling a 16 pound bird in and out of roasting bags full of two gallons of brine was kind of a hassle. It sloshed brine/raw turkey juice on Andy twice, leaving him to declare war. “I WILL CUT YOU,” he threatened at one point.

I tried a new gravy recipe too, which ended up being pretty salty thanks to our brined drippings. I added some water and extra apple cider to balance it out though, and now I’m hoarding the leftovers.

One of the best things about this dinner is the fact that everyone brought part of the meal, so no one was overloaded. (Overloaded with work, that is. We were all overloaded post-dinner.) 

The rest of our menu included:

Stuffing (made by Bethany of guest-blogging fame)
Green bean casserole (homemade, courtesy of Jackie)
Mashed potato puffs (thanks to Lacey)
Spinach salad (from Emily, the brains behind our cooking club nights)
Cranberry sauce (also from Jackie. This ended up being Andy’s favorite item. He literally ate it by the spoonful.) 
Sweet potatoes (I tried a crockpot recipe from Southern Living, and oh my goodness, it was AMAZING. I will make it again for sure.) 
Rolls (brought by Lacey, and the perfect vehicle for the herbed butter I made) 
French onion soup (Jackie’s husband, also an Andy, MADE HIS OWN BEEF STOCK/BROTH for this soup. AWESOME.) 
Chocolate cream pie 
Vanilla bean ice cream
Cranberry margaritas (Another brilliant Emily idea. I kind of wanted to drink the entire pitcher.) 
Apple cider (Thanks to Bethany for introducing us to another local beverage!) 

Of course, I was so busy having a good time that I didn’t take pictures of the food or the event, and of course, we forgot to get a picture of all of us (AGAIN!), but that’s OK.

I am so thankful for these friends and the investment that they’ve made in our lives. I really do love them like family. :) I’m already looking forward to Friendsgiving 2016!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Posted by on November 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


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CSA 2015: Late Season Share – The Last Hurrah

Our CSA’s standard “season” is 18 weeks long, which gives us produce from sometime in June through sometime in October. Then we have a break for a few weeks (which gives me a chance to clear some space in the fridge) before the one-time, late-season share arrives. It’s larger than our weekly share, and it has some of my favorite veggies. :)

CSA 2015 Late Share

We received:

  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 giant stalk of Brussels sprouts
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Shallots (SO excited about these. Just ask Andy.)
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 bag of mixed greens
  • Butternut squash
  • Celeriac
  • 1 jar of “Cowboy Candy” – sweet pickled jalapeno peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • 2 pounds of fresh cranberries (SO, SO, SO good. I love almost anything with cranberries. Including this pie.) 

I made coleslaw and our go-to cabbage and noodle dish with the cabbage, and we shared the Cowboy Candy with Arron and Karen, since he’s a fan of all things pickled. We had some beautiful salads with the greens. The cauliflower and half of the Brussels sprouts made their way into my own variation of this dish. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what all we’ve done with the onions, since I put them in ALL THE THINGS. :D We still have to eat the kale, and I plan on using the celeriac in soups/stews.

I finally found a use for the smaller, buttercup squash we received a few weeks ago: squash toasts with caramelized onions and ricotta. They were amazing, and, for once, I’m not exaggerating. Seriously. Andy rated them higher than vanilla bean ice cream, which is saying something since that’s pretty much the pinnacle of greatness in his mind. I think the only thing that would make them better is homemade ricotta. Next time.

In other produce news, Andy’s coworker shared some of the world’s biggest beets and carrots with us, so we are set with root vegetables for a while. (Seriously. These beets are the size of a baby’s head.) I’m thinking this might be a good time to try some of those carrot soup recipes I’ve been saving. I may try making beet chips again, since we have plenty of them.

And that brings us to the end of the fresh produce here in Wisconsin. We’ll enjoy our frozen and canned produce for the next few months, and I am already counting down the days until our garlic pokes up in the garden. :)

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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


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My Kind of Comfort Food

We’ve been enjoying some unseasonably warm weather here in Wisconsin. Sunny days in the 60s aren’t typical in November, but I didn’t hear anyone complaining. However, all good things must come to an end, and it looks like things are headed back to “normal.” Not that normal is bad by any means. Living somewhere with four seasons is one of my favorite things about living in the Midwest.

Comfort food is another one of my favorite things about fall, and I made this dish on a very typical late fall day – cool, cloudy and rainy. Andy had spent the entire afternoon working outside (raking the leaves, washing and waxing the car, mowing the lawn), and even though I was feeling lazy, I didn’t think I should tell him to make a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. :) So I went ahead and tried a recipe that one of my coworkers shared with me a couple weeks beforehand.

He raved about the recipe. “It will make squash edible!” With that ringing endorsement, I took a copy of the recipe but told him I’d probably make some tweaks, especially since the original recipe called for eight ounces of mushrooms. “You can’t omit the mushrooms,” he said. “They make the dish!” Umm… not in our household. Caramelized onions, on the other hand, are something I can get behind. I added an extra slice of bacon (because more bacon is always better), and I roasted the squash on the bacon pan, rather than microwaving it. Not only was the oven already on, but I figured that roasting the squash (especially in bacon grease) would give things even more flavor. I used my cast iron skillet to caramelize the onions and make the sauce, and since it was already dirty, decided that it would be the perfect pan to finish baking the dish.

Wow. The squash was more than edible; it was amazing. The flavors came together in the perfect way. We ate half of the pan for dinner, and I seriously contemplated warming up the leftovers for breakfast the next morning. And it’s safe to say that the rest of our butternut squash may not be destined for soup after all.


If I was a better food blogger, I’d have a much more appetizing picture to share. But it was dark and we were hungry, so I snapped this one with my phone and dug in.


Baked Butternut Squash Pasta

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed (Approximately 3-5 cups of squash. The recipe called for three cups; my squash yielded closer to 5, and I used every bit of it.) 
1 large onion, thinly sliced
8 ounces short pasta
2 tablespoons of butter, divided
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons AP flour
4 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
5 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded
3 slices of bacon
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
coarse salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place the uncooked bacon on the sheet. Bake bacon until it is crispy, then remove the pan from the oven and allow the bacon to cool on paper towels.

If your bacon left an overabundance of grease on the baking pan, drain off a little. Spread the squash cubes on the bacon pan. Place the thyme sprigs on the squash and season the pan generously with freshly ground black pepper. Roast until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.Remove the squash from the oven. Place the squash in a large mixing bowl and lightly mash with a fork.

While the squash is cooking, melt one tablespoon of butter in an oven-safe skillet. Place the onion slices in the butter and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium to medium low heat until the onions are caramelized. Remove the onions from the pan and transfer the onions to the bowl with the squash.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, then drain and set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in the skillet and saute the white parts of the green onions. When the onions are tender, add the flour and cook, stirring often, for a minute. Slowly pour the milk into the skillet, whisking constantly. Keep whisking the mixture until it has cooked and thickened. Remove the pan from the heat.

Pour the sauce over the squash and onion mixture and stir to combine. Gently fold in the cooked pasta.

Spoon/pour about half of the squash/pasta/onion mixture into the bottom of an oven safe skillet or casserole dish. Sprinkle with half of the shredded fontina cheese. Add the rest of the squash/pasta mixture to the pan and top with the remaining cheese, bacon pieces and green onions.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the dish is heated through and the cheese is bubbly. Serve warm.

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, courtesy of my coworker, Rich

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Main Dishes, Pasta


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CSA 2015: Week 18

Sing it with me: “It’s the end of the world as we know it…”

OK, maybe “end of the world” is a little over dramatic. It is, however, the end of our regular season shares from Olden Produce. Sadness. The season always seems to go way too fast. (We do have a late season share coming next month, and I’m hoping for things like Brussels sprouts and broccoli.) 

CSA 2015 week 18

Here’s what week 18 brought us:

  • 2 green peppers
  • 3 onions
  • 3 eggplant
  • 1 bag of mixed greens
  • 1 bag of Asian greens
  • 1 bunch of pea shoots
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 3 radishes
  • 2 sunspot squash
  • 1 head of Chinese cabbage

The broccoli was gone almost instantly. (Roasted with salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic, and then doused with lemon juice. My favorite. I could seriously eat pans of the stuff.) It’s hard to say where exactly the onions went, since we use them in almost everything. (Seriously. Is there a better smell than onions sauteing in butter?) We had grilled chicken salads with the first bag of greens, and I cooked most of the Chinese cabbage in some bacon grease for a vegetable side dish last Friday night.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with the sunspot squash, or the eggplant (especially since I forgot about them in our crisper drawer until yesterday… whoops). I will probably saute the pea shoots with some garlic and serve them with dinner tomorrow night.

Speaking of dinner, let’s talk about what I’m making this week. We have a lot of fun things going on, and I am swamped at work, so I’m trying to make things as easy as possible:

Monday 10/26 – Pot roast with potatoes and carrots in the crockpot
Tuesday 10/27 – Salmon with stir-fried pea shoots and Asian greens and corn (Making this one up as I go along…) 
Wednesday 10/28 – Black bean ragout in the crockpot (I made this in my Dutch oven last winter, and we loved it. This time, I’m using the crockpot so Andy can make it to Bible study at church by 6:30.) 
Thursday 10/29 – Dinner out! We’re double-dating it with some of our favorite people and going to Oktoberfest at a local brewpub. Super pumped for this one. :D
Friday 10/30 – Chili and caramel apple night with some more friends! I’ve been nominated to bring dessert…. currently leaning toward brownies and ice cream. You can’t go wrong with something like that, can you?

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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Here we go again!

That’s right, I’ve signed up for this year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. It’s so much fun to get cookies in the mail, and I love seeing what other food bloggers have come up with. In addition to spreading cookie goodness around the world, the swap helps raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Win-win, if you ask me. :)

This will be my fourth year participating, and, I actually have NO idea what kind of cookies I’ll make this time around.

In previous years, I’ve sent a family favorite, a chocolate-mint version of the “Hershey Kiss” cookies and what’s basically fall in a cookie – maple and brown sugar. So, what should be next? Something with fruit? Or brown butter? There’s always the chocolate-peanut butter combination… good thing I have a few weeks to figure it out!

Interested in participating? There’s still a week to sign up… and who knows, you could get cookies from me! :D

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Posted by on October 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


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CSA 2015: Weeks 16 & 17

The days are getting shorter; the leaves are changing; and, best of all, we have SQUASH in our CSA! It must be fall! Woohoo! As much as I love the first few weeks of spring produce, fall veggies are where it’s at. They last longer, so I have fewer produce-induced panics. ;) Plus, there’s something special about late-season produce. Knowing that there’s only a few weeks left makes everything taste sweeter.

CSA 2015 week 16

Pepper-pa-looza! (And please disregard the mess in my kitchen…)

Week 16:

  • Sweet yellow peppers
  • Red onions
  • Asian greens
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 1/4 pounds tomatillos
  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • Banana peppers
  • 4 poblano peppers


CSA 2015 week 17

Week 17

  • Carrots
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 bag of Asian greens
  • 5 jalapeno peppers
  • Beets
  • 1 bunch of pac choi
  • Sweet potato leaves
  • 2 acorn squash
  • Red potatoes
  • Onions

So, what did I do with all of this awesomeness? Well, I started with salsa verde, which made for some amazing pork tacos. Then I made a roasted pepper-sausage-pasta dish. I used the leftover pork from our tacos to make nachos for Friday’s dinner. (Perk of being an adult: It’s perfectly OK to eat appetizers for dinner on Friday night.) Since I seem to be on a Tex-Mex kick, I used the last of the sweet peppers in tonight’s fajitas.

We’ve had some great salads with the greens, but I am not sure what to do with the sweet potato leaves. Our CSA email said that they’re good in stir fry, so I may try that. I also read that they are wilt down like spinach, so that’s an option too. I plan on pickling the banana peppers, and I am going to make our favorite stuffed squash dish with the acorn squash. Thank goodness beets keep well in cold storage, since they’ve taken over an entire drawer in our refrigerator. We’ll roast and enjoy them once the more perishable vegetables are gone.

We have one more week left in our CSA, and then one final late-season share, so the goodness continues for a couple more weeks.

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Posted by on October 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Purple is the New Green

Trying new foods is one of my favorite things about participating in our CSA. Let’s be honest – how often do you buy the exact same things at the grocery store? Broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots. Lather, rinse, repeat. So, when tomatillos first showed up in our CSA, I was stumped. Especially since Andy doesn’t really “do” sauces. What was I going to do with them?

If my memory is correct, I ran them through the blender with some garlic and lime juice and called it salsa verde. And while I’m sure we ate it (probably at a taco night), we must not have loved it, or I wouldn’t have gone looking for another solution.

Thank goodness for the internet. And food bloggers who know their way around Tex-Mex. The next time tomatillos rolled around, I was prepared. I roasted the tomatillos along with some garlic and peppers (jalapenos or poblanos, depending on what came in our CSA, since hatch chiles aren’t plentiful in my neck of the woods). I gave it all a quick spin in the blender, and bam! I had the answer to all of my tomatillo problems, along with a fantastic batch of enchiladas for dinner.

The original recipe calls for Greek yogurt (which I sub for sour cream, nine times out of 10). I add the yogurt/sour cream when I’m making the enchiladas, but I skip it if I’m using the sauce in the crockpot or freezing it. (I’m not sure how well the sour cream would hold up to 10 hours in the crockpot.)

There’s just one problem – my salsa “verde” has never actually been green. It’s usually a rather unattractive tan, but when the latest batch turned a bright pinky-purple, I figured I’d try to get a picture to share with the world. (Of course, the lack of daylight at dinner time makes for not-so-hot pictures… details, right?) So there you have it. Purple is the new green, at least at our house.


Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Approximately 1 lb. tomatillos, rinsed, husked and sliced in half (Our CSA usually gives us between a pound and a pound and a quarter – I just use them all.) 
2-3 jalapeno or poblano peppers (I use two if they’re jalapenos; three if they’re the more mild poblano peppers.) 
3 garlic cloves, peeled
juice of 1 lime
2/3 cup sour cream, optional (it makes the salsa creamier and helps tone down the heat, if your peppers ended up giving you more than you bargained for.)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, then lightly brush the foil with olive oil. Place the tomatillos, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Arrange the peppers and garlic around the tomatillo halves. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Remove the pan from the oven.

Place the tomatillos and garlic cloves in a blender (or a large bowl, if you’re using an immersion blender). Let the peppers cool until you can handle them, then remove the seeds and skins. Place the peppers in the blender with the tomatillos and garlic, and then add the lime juice. Puree until smooth. Stir in the sour cream (if using) and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Use in your favorite tacos or enchiladas .Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Adapted from The Brewer and The Baker / Confections of a Foodie Bride

Click here for a printable version.


Posted by on October 10, 2015 in Marinades, Dressings & Sauces


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