Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sweet PoTater Tot Hotdish...oh yes I did!

I am not reinventing the wheel with this dish, but I did basically give it some big, fatty rims with this simple addition.  Holy cow!

A friend's husband just had major surgery, so of course I am sending meals and treats over to lighten their load.  I planned on making chili, enchiladas and thee ol' Minnesota gem of all gems in the hotdish department, Tater Tot Hotdish (I wish there was a way I could bedazzle those sweet sweet words) anyhoo, I am at the market, getting ready to grab a bag of standard tater tots when like a slap to the face I noticed SWEET POTATO TOTS!!!!  Wowza!

 Say what!!!

I prepared the standard hotdish (of course I forgot to document this, but if you need a play by play, check yourself...then google it) 

I browned 1 lb of ground beef (93/7) with 1/2 cup diced onions and 1 cup diced mushrooms.  Once that was all ready to go, I added 1 box of cream of mushroom soup concentrate, 8 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream and salt and pepper.  I then added 1 bag of frozen green beans and 1 cup frozen corn.

I put in a baking dish and topped with the sweet potato tots.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

DelishFest2013.  Promise. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Big Sur, California

While Benny was growing in my belly, Zac and I sneaked
 away for a few days to a place I could honestly call heaven on earth... 
Big Sur, California.  

First things first, finding a great place to stay.
Zac found this place, and when we were looking at 
it online, I realized that I had snipped an article 
about it in Sunset magazine a year back.  I never
realized how organized I was, until I ran to the drawer
I had placed the article.  Our stay at Glen Oaks was
definitely meant to be!  Recently updated, the roadside
motel felt completely throwback, with a DWR twist.

It was so cozy, and central to all the hiking and exploring
we did in Big Sur.  I highly recommend grabbing a snooze here.

 I was obsessed with the headboard, and hope
to one day construct one out of scrap wood blocks.

Have I ever mentioned that Zac is a Geologist?
He was very excited to explore Pfeiffer Beach,
where the sand runs hues of red to bright purple, 
much thanks to the garnet in the hills surrounding 
the beach.  Don't I sound like a Geologist?

 Here you can see the garnet washing down the hill onto the beach.  
Pfeiffer Beach was really hard to find, as it is a residential road 
you drive down to access the beach, and the locals do not like
the visiting traffic.  We were told that the minute a sign goes up on the 
highway to direct traffic down to the beach, a local removes it. patient, you might pass the turn twice (as we did), 
but the walk along the beach is worth the scavenger hunt to find it!

We watched waves crash through the portal rocks at Pfeiffer Beach
for a long while.  It was so peaceful and very Goonie-esque...just saying.

Dare I say that we ate nearly all of our meals
at the general store?  There was a burrito bar inside
the general store that whipped up the best foil 
wrapped burritos this side of Bravo Burritos in
St. Cloud, MN (where we are from). We would go to the
general store first thing in the morning for made-to-order breakfast
 burritos and would return after hiking for a late lunch/early dinner burrito.  

 The best part  is that the general store sits right on the river and there
were loads of Adirondack chairs along the waters edge, or actually in the
shallow rocks of the water. We would grab our burritos and cozy up in
the chairs, dangling our feet in the water, while we ate.

One of the things I looooved about Big Sur is that
one minute we were deep in the Redwood trees and 
an hour later we would hike out to this.  So diverse
and lovely!  I would challenge a grump to stay grumpy
here...well, if the scenery didn't clear up said grumpiness,
the foil wrapped burritos would certainly do the trick
(can you tell I was pregnant while we were there, I was
obsessed with those damn burritos!).

Tower of Jewels flowers, that we spotted on a hike. 

We found a great hike, along the river.  We accessed the trail, under 
this bridge and just went a wandering.  

 Redwood trees along the river.  So heavenly!

Looking up the Redwoods.

This was a wonderful day of exploring in the
park.  The trail along the ocean bluffs was ridiculous.

One more from the bluffs of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

From the hike along the bluffs of the ocean, upstream
through the trees of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.

Minutes apart yet worlds apart.  Amazing.  

 I took this picture because of the J+K in a heart, in the foreground.
I knew I would think of someone to send it to, and I did...our friends
Karen and Jim.  If you need this picture, because you know some love
birds with those initials...send me a message and I will send it to you 
in a larger format.  This was as high upstream this pregnant lady
could explore, in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park.  Truly breathtaking!

A trail down to the water at Partington Cove.

Water flowing down to the ocean, into Partington Cove.  Lovely.

There was some good exploring in the rocks along the cove.
My coordination is the first thing out the window,
when I am pregnant, so I sat a spell while Zac went exploring.
I was so tempted to cliff jump in, but pregnancy and no
David Hasselhoff in sight made me rethink that.  

Well, better late than never on this post...I blame pregnancy
and the fact that we moved  less then a month after
returning from this amazing little getaway!
It took my friend calling and asking about Big Sur
to remind me to write this.

I do hope everyone will be inspired to add a long weekend in
Big Sur, California to their must-do list!!!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Harvesty Wild Rice

I call it 'Harvesty' because this is thee o' Minnesota staple (wild rice),
 jazzed up with delicious tastes of things enjoyed by yours truly when the weather dips.

What you need:
  • 5 cups prepared wild rice (prepare the night before, to lighten your load).  A friend recently gave me a cooking tip, as I often burn wild rice (the water dries up), add additional water from the get go of cooking, and when the grains are adequately cooked, drain off the additional water.
  • 2 T oil
  • 1/2 large onion (white or yellow, chopped)
  • 1/2 cup portobello mushrooms (patted clean with cloth and sliced)
  • 3 T. dried cranberries (or cherries)
  • 1/3 cup raw pecans
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3 T butter
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper

    Set aside the prepared wild rice.  In a large saute pan heat 2 T. oil over medium heat, 
    add the chopped onions and sliced mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, dried berries, pecans and s&p.  
Reduce heat to medium low and allow the sauce to simmer for about 4 minutes
After it simmers, it will look like this bit of 'harvesty' heaven.  

Add the prepared rice and butter to the saute.  Stir and continue to 
season  with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

 NomNomNomFest2013.  Pairs well with anything, even a fork!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A very un-Sundance weekend...sigh

 Why yes, that is baby Logan...oh and Orlando Bloom.  I joked
that this should have been our Christmas card...the husband kind of laughed.

This is usually one of my favorite weekends of the entire year!  For 6 of the past 7 years we have packed out bags, on the third Thursday in January to hit up Park City, Utah for 5 fun filled days at the Sundance Film Festival (oh, and skiing...let's be real, Zac could not care less about the festival...unless it brings in legit live music, like The Roots...other than that, he just prefers to park himself at his favzy place to ski, Alta).

Well, being the responsible parents that we are, we decided to skip this year (and our friends we meet up with followed suit...maybe because I am the planner?).  I regretted this about 2 weeks ago and started trying to bum rush a trip, but alas my maturity/common sense husband told me I was crazy and that we will just hit it up next year.  Sigh.  Double sigh. 

So, in lieu of the fantastic stories and photos I usually share, I am going to post a few classics from years past. 

Oh, and if you are just dying for Sundance debauchery, reread part 1 and part 2 of the 2012 festival shenanigans...which are just asking to be rivaled, next year!

I may or may not have had Christian Slater's buddy hold my skis, 
to grab a quick picture...proof that I have always been a mess!

Braving the nighttime chill, for a G Love & Special Sauce concert.

 Charlize Theron.  Look at me being all up-in-her-face

Felicity Huffman & William H. Macy (whom I have loved, since the 
days of Fargo).  Total preshFest2007!

Nothing like a BFF pose with one of my favzy 80s actors, Elisabeth Shue.
Do we want to guess if I cut my own bangs?  

Remember when Paris Hilton was kind of a big deal?  Why, again?

And that same year nearly no one had a clue who Kim Kardashian was...
now, she probably would be mauled.  Why, again?

Dennis Quaid, right after he fixed my camera...can you tell this one
is borderline old school, as 'myspace' was a festival sponsor.

 Michael Keaton, I was slightly starstruck!

 No sneaking by me, David Arquette

As if you wouldn't be excited to see Steve Sanders.

Luke Wilson, creepy 'stache & me

Michael Moore was sitting a few rows behind us at a screening.
I nearly had a moment. 

Randomly, the US Grand Prix half pipe competition
was going on in Park City, at the same time as the festival.
How exciting to see Shaun White do his thing, live!

Adrian Grenier, post screening Q&A for the
documentary, Teenage Paparazzo, which he directed.

Jesse Eisenberg

When Jonah Hill still wore the fat suit. 

Duhzy, Marisa Tomei and I are like totes besties...haaa!

 It appears I was all about the BFF shot that year, victim #293: Dax Shepard.

John C. Reilly, whom I am mildly obsessed with ,as an actor.

Clearly, I have no shame.  Colin Hanks, we totes look like a postcard, right? 

I still don't know his name, but I knew I recognized we were
both walking into the bathroom.  So inappropriate, but the theme
of the week is usually, 'all things inappropriate!'.

Oh little Logan was like a hottie celeb magnet ;)  I am almost
embarrassed to show this picture, as you can see how excited I
was that Ryan Gosling had a hand on my shoulder...he said Logi
was on the of the cutest babies he had ever seen...I have to agree.

I had no clue who Olivia Munn was, at the time...but
she is on one of my favzy shows as of late, The Newsroom,
so she totally makes the cut.

This sums up one Sundance Film Festival, for me...
tore my ACL/MCL day one, while skiing.  I still
hit up all the premieres I hoped to catch, just kept
my leg elevated.  This is the Q&A post screening of
the Tribe Called Quest documentary with the director and
Phife Dawg.  

Ross Mathews.  Who doesn't love him?

50 Cent, he was uber cheesy!

 Adrian Grenier, looking all sly on Main Street.

Only appropriate to include a picture of the festival founder,
Robert Redford.

I couldn't have said it year I will for
sure BE tHERE!

Well, I hope you giggled at my lack of shame, and ooh'd and ahh'd over
some of the fun pictures I have snapped over the years.  I didn't include
any of the pictures from Sundance 2012, as they are so well documented in
the blog postings from last year, so do check those out, if you haven't quite
gotten your fill.  Well, until next year...

Oh and, 2014 Sundance Film's on!