Scenes from the Weekend

Part I

PicMonkey Collage

Part II

PicMonkey Collage 2

I love summer. The end.

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Sausage and Roasted Grape Pizza

Hey guys! Happy Friday! I have an awesome pizza recipe for you today. The idea stemmed from a hot pasta dish I made two years ago with the unlikely combination of sausage and roasted grapes. I made the dish twice, loved it, and promptly forgot about it. When I bought sausage at the market a few weeks ago and was trying to figure out what to do with it, I suddenly remembered, and I’m so glad I did!

With no pasta in the house yet (weird), I decided the combo could make a great pizza. And it did. The sweetness of the grapes meshes perfectly with the saltiness of the sausage, and the addition of cheese is always a winner.

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Sausage and Roasted Grape Pizza

  • your favorite pizza dough
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 6 oz Italian sausage, crumbled
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups red grapes
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook sausage for about 15 minutes, until browned. Move to a paper towel. Add oil to the skillet and return to medium heat. Cook onion and garlic until soft and golden, about 2-3 minutes. Add grapes, red pepper flakes, and a splash of water to keep grapes from sticking. Cook until grapes soften or burst, about 10-15 minutes. Add sausage back to the pan.

Roll out pizza dough.

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, 2 tbsp of Parmesan, and a few grinds of freshly ground pepper. Spread over pizza dough. (If cream cheese is not soft enough, warm in the microwave for 15-20 seconds until it is easily spreadable).

Top dough with the sausage and grape mixture, mozzarella, remaining Parmesan, and spinach.

Bake at 500 for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is brown and the cheese is bubbling.

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Next time I make this, I may drizzle a little good balsamic vinegar over the top.

If you like thinking outside the cheese-and-pepperoni pizza box, I highly recommend this pizza. It’s already one of my new favorites!

Grillin’ Weather

Things I want to bottle: the scent of old books, exercise endorphins, and summer. I am still getting used to the magic of this weather. It has been so cold and white for so long that grass and dandelions seem a feast for the eyes.

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I must admit that I’m enjoying this transition into summer even more now that Dave and I are renting a house. It’s so nice to have a yard to look out into instead of pavement.

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I didn’t have to beg Dave much to grill out last Sunday. He’s not as outdoorsy as I am, but even he has been spending as much time outside as I have lately.

I’ve been trying to do more food prep on Sundays now that I am working longer days, so while I was making salads-in-a-jar for work and pre-cooking rice for weeknight curry, I also whipped up a potato salad.

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Mayo-free potato salad is easy enough when you always have Greek yogurt on hand like I do.

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I used cubed, cooked red potatoes (skin-on), diced celery and red onion, plain Greek yogurt, herb mustard, some sauteed spinach, salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

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I topped the potato salad with sliced hard-boiled eggs and paprika.

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While Dave and I waited for the charcoal chimney to light up, we sat on our benches and enjoyed a cocktail.

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The kitties were definitely enjoying the sunshine, too.

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I’ve been keeping local meat in our chest freezer for occasions such as this.

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Bison burgers, beer, and baked beans.

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Oh, and buffalo sauce. And bleu cheese. I guess it was a very B-barbeque.

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We served our burgers on the homemade wheat rolls Dave helped me make. Pickles on the side, because a burger without pickles just isn’t quite the same.

I love summer. Have I mentioned that?

Ninety

My grandmother has been walking this earth for ninety years. Ninety sounds so much older than eighty, doesn’t it? But it’s a good kind of old. It’s a wise kind of old. People who are ninety years old know so much more than me, it’s almost embarrassing.

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My grandma has lived through so much. She lent me a book when I was a teenager, set during World War II. It was a little sentimental for my taste (especially at the time), but I told her I liked it okay.

She sighed and said, “I guess it’s hard for you to understand.” She didn’t say it to be condescending; she said it because it was true.

Grandma has lived through things that I haven’t and, hopefully, will never have to. She’s lived through a terrible war that kept her heart in her throat with close family members fighting. She’s dealt with the death of her husband and two of her children. She’s dealt with the loss of her memory that has been fading quietly away for the last few years.

But you know what? She’s ninety. She’s not bed-ridden, wheelchair-bound, or living in a nursing home. And she still smiles.

And for ninety, that’s pretty damn good.

Happy Birthday, Graham Cracker! I love you.

Eats Lately

People must have been shy around the chicken last weekend, because Dave and I have been eating leftover chicken all week long.

On Monday, I made myself a chicken quesadilla with two whole wheat tortillas, avocado, spinach, and cheddar cheese.

085I still can’t seem to ever get my quesadillas crispy, even with the Alton Brown method! I think I need my brother Tyler to teach me. Still, it was pretty delicious, especially topped with Greek yogurt. I pretty much want to top everything with Greek yogurt. At least it’s a healthy addiction, like my creamy dill mustard. I started eating it out of the jar with my finger this week, and that’s when I knew I should put it away.

Tuesday, I made chicken bacon avocado salads with tomatoes, chopped hardboiled eggs, and lots of spinach and romaine.

002Instead of chopping the avocado up, I remembered an avocado sauce I made for pasta before and recreated it. I put one avocado, a 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt, a splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper in the food processor and whipped it for about a minute until it was super creamy.

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The color of the avocado sauce/dip was so satisfying. Very spring-like. The salads topped with the avocado sauce were just awesome, and I’ll definitely make the sauce again for pasta or dipping.

Wednesday, Dave took the reins on dinner and made us pizza. We topped the pizzas with….you guessed it: CHICKEN!

006Also carmelized onions, raw red onions, olives, spinach, and peppers. Dave’s dough was extra fluffy, so the pizza was very filling. We ended up eating it two nights in a row.

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Thursday was lovely. It was my first time having a Thursday off where it was actually nice enough to play outside. I walked to Shopko for some garden tools and seeds, and then came home to play outside for awhile.

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I still want to wait to plant seeds, but I just couldn’t resist buying a packet of lettuce seeds and sunflower seeds. Mom’s not so sure the sunflowers will do well given the somewhat shady backyard, but I’m bound and determined to have sunflowers somewhere!

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I mowed the lawn with our push mower, planted the perennials Mom bought me at the plant sale last weekend, and filled dirt in the old fire ring Dave pulled out, so I can turn it into a planter. I keep getting excited just thinking about walking into a hot, steamy, fresh smelling greenhouse and buying an armful of annuals to plant in it.

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My main problem with gardening is that I have no idea what’s a plant and what’s a weed! A lot of the stuff I was going to pull out,  Mom says are actually plants, so I should just wait and see what starts to come up. Patience, grasshopper.

Oh, well, as far as I’m convinced after the long, white winter we had, anything green is okay in my book. And I happen to love dandelions, so we’re okay there, too.

With all the chicken finally gone, I made myself a tuna melt for dinner last night.

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I mixed the tuna with a dollop of Greek yogurt and creamy dill mustard and added smashed avocado and cheddar cheese to the Italian bread before grilling it the Alton Brown way. Works for bread, why not tortillas? Tyler, help.

Fun(ny) Friday

Last night, in bed, Dave and I watched a million gifs of animals doing funny things. But this one……..this one just slayed Dave. I think it made him even happier than the brand new glow-in-the dark Ghostbusters shirt I bought him.

He laughed, and I laughed with him. Then I just started laughing at him laughing at the dog. It was hilarious. We started making the noise we thought the dog was. Laughter is good medicine, folks.

 

Source: themetapicture.com

Okay, admit it. You just tried making the noise the dog is making, too, didn’t you?

Oh, What a Beautiful Day

It was such a beautiful weekend, in every sense of the phrase. Not only was I surrounded by family and friends (friends that are family), but the weather was gorgeous: sunny, in the low 70s, with just a hint of a breeze

Due to varied arrival times on Friday, Dave and I decided to do a European Dinner Night for ease: smoked salmon and whitefish, sausage, pickles, a cheese plate, veggies with ranch dip, homemade crackers and bread, and onion dip (which my friend Dan made–it was so good). I love snack dinners.

By the way, did I tell you that Dave’s been teaching me to bake bread? He wants an heir, but I’m content to leave him the throne for now. Although, damn, that bread was pretty delicious.

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On Saturday morning Mom and Dad were up early. By the time I was up, they had already gone to get coffee and doughnuts. (As a point of reference, I slept until 8:00am….weirdos).

003Looking at doughnuts makes me happy. Unfortunately, eating doughnuts doesn’t make my stomach too happy, so I savored half of one and called it good. Oh, cream filling, how I hate to love you. Love to hate you? Eh, whatever.

Afterwards, Mom, Dad, and I walked downtown and then swooped around back to a plant sale where Mom bought me three new perennials to plant. Now I just need some garden tools!

005(I wonder if there’s a plant sale?)

When we got home, we picked up the rest of the gang: my brother, Tyler, my sister, Moriah, Dave, and our friends Dan, Emily, and Amanda, and headed to the Market on Strongs for some goodies for dinner. We walked back to drop off the frozen food and then walked back into town to eat. We wanted to go to Emy J’s, but it was packed, so we settled on Erbert and Gerbert’s.

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I really wanted this picture to turn out.

012At least this one did. Wait a minute, I’ve seen this expression before…
PicMonkey CollageThat little nose! It kills me.

009We made it easy and ordered four Jacob Bluefingers on honey wheat. I was the difficult one who subbed mustard for mayo. Dad also ordered a pickle, but it got boggarted by the moonbeam. “Papa, pickle? Pickle?” How could he say no to this face?

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She could sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady in white gloves.

We walked back past our house and made it to the Stevens Point Brewery just in time for the tour I booked earlier in the week. My Dad has been drinking Point since I was little, so I knew it would be the perfect place to go to celebrate his birthday.

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They look kind of similar, don’t you think?

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The tour was really informative and when it ended, we were given three sample tickets to sample the beers, hard ciders, or sodas of our choice. I even won an extra sample ticket for remembering our tour guide’s name.

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It’s still a little weird to me that I’m living in the place where my dad’s favorite beer lives. I vaguely remember driving through Stevens Point on a family visit and thinking, “This is a pretty town. It would be cool to live here someday.” And now I am!

The Moonbeam was so good during the tour, and we took her to the park to play afterwards. It was pretty barren given how beautiful it was outside, so Dad, Em, Mom, and I got to join in on the fun.

PicMonkey Collage 2055PicMonkey CollageMy dad may be 55, but he’s a kid at heart.

After a quick dip of our toes in the water, we went back to the house for a bonfire and cookout.

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On the menu: marinated chicken, andouille sausages and bison brats from the Market, baked beans, and potatoes. With chips as our appetizer, it was really a classic American cookout. We had so much food for the grill that my brother Ty built a mini grill in the firepit to cook the brats.

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Look! She’s going to be a harmonica player!

We stayed up late around the fire, because….well, it’s so easy get sucked into the magic of the fire and lose track of time.

010And look at the beautiful benches my dad brought for me!

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Love, love, love.

The next day was Sunday: Mother’s Day, Dad’s birthday, and Amanda’s birthday. What a trifecta of fun! We enjoyed coffee and presents outside (after washing dishes from the night before).

072073082I had a mini photoshoot with Aurelia.

PicMonkey Collage 3With this many pictures of my niece, I can only imagine how many pictures I’ll take of my own children. Unless they’re ugly. Then I’ll keep photographing Aurelia. Those eyes! That silky hair! That button nose! Those boots! Gaaaaah!

After coffee, we headed over to the Co-op where we picked up noshes for lunch.

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Picnic at the park with cheese, crackers, dolmas, fruit, veggie chips, and cookies. We also shared various beverages: mine was Dandelion and Burdock and was really delicious, despite the strange ingredients.

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We went to Belt’s for birthday ice cream, and it started to pour just as we got our ice cream. We had to say a quick car goodbye before I finally headed home to my lair to rest. It was quite a weekend, and I was so glad I got to spend it with some of my favorite people.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

34723_546119535501_6780331_nDear Dad,

I’m glad you were born because….

There’s more oxygen on the planet due to the thousands of trees you have planted. You are the best mediator among family and friends. Your red-faced, can-hardly-breathe laugh always makes me smile. You always come to my rescue when I have car problems. You gave me an appreciation for John Wayne, Johnny Cash, and good beer. You tell people, “My kids drink good beer,” like you’re proud of it. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Dear Mom,

Thank you for….

Teaching me what kind of bouillon to buy (salt should never be the first ingredient!). Taking my side. Being the cool mom that taught all the girl scouts how to dance to The Brady Bunch song “Sunshine Day.” Not getting mad when I switched your wine with red-colored water. Being nice to everyone you meet. Giving me your scone recipe. Not giving up on me. Sharing my obsession with Gilmore Girls. Filling the house with music (yes, even John Denver). Taking care of so many people. Loving me.

I love you. Happy Mother’s Day!

The Best Thing I Ate

….this week.

Dave and I had no food in the house this week. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

It was the first time Dave had a craving for spaghetti and meatballs, and there was no spaghetti to be found. I think that’s the first time that’s happened….ever.

Fortunately, even when there’s “no food” in the house, we can rise to the occasion. Dave used corn meal to create some fabulous polenta that tasted good even without cheese. Yes, we haven’t had cheese in the house, also for the first time ever. I don’t know who I am anymore.

We also had some andouille bratwurst that I bought at the Market on Strongs last time we were there, as well as some grape tomatoes I had forgotten about in the back of the fridge and a half a bag of frozen corn.

I worked with it.

Fried polenta squares in a little bit of olive oil. Roasted the tomatoes and corn with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Sliced and cooked the andouille sausage.

imageTopped with Greek yogurt and sriracha. Life ain’t so bad when there’s no food in the house.