Thursday, February 27, 2014


It's no secret that I have close to zero shame when we head to the Sundance Film Festival each year.  I go to see shows, yes...but I really go to play the part of pretend-paparazzi.  Yes, this is one of our annual vacations that I live for, and I just loooove standing around snapping photos of celebs (while being quite vocal in my refusal to ski during the week, as THIS IS MY TIME TO SHINE, as pretend-paparazzi).  So anyhoo, many a photographers asked me who I work for, while I 'stalk' the streets of Park City.  Who meWhat!  Really?  Well, I would reply, I am just a mom on vacation and I do this for fun, oh and for my little blog that I hope takes off at some point.

One photographer started calling me Mamarazzi.  How funny is that!  She was impressed with the celebs response to me, so she asked if she could see some of my snaps.  She said they were good and offered to send them off.  Well for Pete's sake, would you believe that I got word today that one of the photos I snapped was picked up by People magazine.  Yes, thee People magazine!  Crazy, right!  I am so excited.  I feel quite legit in my mamarazzi status now!

Here's the photo from my blog post a few weeks back.

And here she the March 2014 issue of People magazine.

Still pinching myself in excitement!
Stay tuned...I might just make a mini career out of this!  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Quinoa & Roasted Butternut Squash Hot Dish!

The Minnesota in me can't whip up a side dish, containing condensed 
cream of soup, without calling it a hot dish.  Sorry.  Not sorry. 

I made this dish in December for a luncheon potluck at my daughter's school, with items I had in the kitchen. I didn't know how it would turn out, but after several moms asked me for the recipe at the luncheon, and another mom just stopped me last week to ask, I decided it was time to get this recipe on the blog. 

What you need:
  • 3 cups dry quinoa (which cooked in 6 cups of liquid, water or stock, will yield ~8 cups of cooked quinoa)
  • 8 ounce block of cream cheese, room temperature soft
  • 2 boxes of condensed cream of mushroom soup 
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt & black pepper
Also, I highly recommend you make the Maple Spiced Pecans, also on this blog, as they are the perfect addition of sweet and spicy crunch to this hot dish.  

 Get all that tough skin off the squash quickly, with a vegetable peeler.
I seriously just thought of this in the last 6 months after many a squash 
struggles.  Major 'duh moment'!!

 I cut the 'neck' of the squash off, then bisect the bottom of the squash
for easy removal of the the seeds and pulp.

 Slice the 'neck' of the squash into roughly 1/2 inch slices. Then
cut into roughly 1/2 inch cubes.

 Cube the bottom half of the cleaned out squash.

Place the cubed squash on a foil lined baking sheet, topped with 
parchment paper (the foil is only for easy clean up, not needed
if you are a bit more motivated than I am).  Toss the cubes with a 
generous amount of olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper.

I forgot about the onion, but remembered to toss it in, right before the
pan made it's way to the oven.

Place in a 400 degree oven.  Roast for 1 hour, tossing with a spoon
after half hour.

While the squash is roasting, and the quiona is cooking (just follow directions 
on the dry quinoa package), combine the 8 oz block of cream cheese, 2 boxes 
condensed soup and 2 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable) in a large bowl with a whisk.

This is my favorite brand of condensed soups.  It is also gluten free,
which is wonderful for those with dietary restrictions.

 Add the cooked quinoa to the sauce and stir.  Add sea salt to taste.

Fold in the roasted squash and onions.  

Place in an oiled baking dish.  At this point you can cover the dish and
 place in the refrigerator to bake off later.

For the perfect crust, use the vegetable peel to shave off a bit of butter
and place on top.  This too is one of my favorite little ideas/ 'duh moments'

Sprinkle a little sea salt on top of the shaved butter, and place in a
375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

The top will be golden brown.

Yum!  This hot dish is meal enough, when topped with the
 Maple Spiced Pecans and served with a side of greens. 

Here are a couple other ideas for this delicious hot dish: toss in additional roasted vegetables 
(zucchini, asparagus, root vegetables, portobello mushrooms), stuff large portobello mushrooms
and bake off or serve along side grilled poultry or beef.

Seriously, yum! 

Maple Spiced Pecans

 The maple spiced pecans are the perfect addition to a roasted
butternut squash and quinoa hot dish.

Oh my goodness, these are the absolute best thing to ever happen to salads, snack mix and the palm of your hand (as you shovel in a hand full)...and making them is super easy too!

 Place 1 cup roughly chopped raw pecans in a saute pan, over 
medium heat.  Watch closely.  You want to heat them until the pan
starts to smell a bit nutty.  Watch closely though, as it can go from 
tasty to burnt very quickly.

 With the pan still on the heat, add 3 T. pure maple syrup, a pinch
of cayenne pepper and a generous crack of sea salt to the warm 
nuts.  Stir until all of the nuts are coated.  Remove from heat.

Pour the warm pecans onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
and pop in a 300 degree oven for 7 minutes.  

Remove from oven, allow to cool, and then store them in an air tight
container.  They are seriously delicious.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Brown Butter Marshmallow Crispy Treats

I signed up to bring a 'treat' for Logi's preK Valentine's 
party tomorrow. I was thinking it would be fun to put a treat 
on a stick, and quickly decided I would make marshmallow 
crispy bars, and poke them with the barbershop pole paper 
straws I bought after Christmas sales. Then, as I was about to grab 
several bags of marshmallows off the  market shelf, I decided that 
I would try making these treats with my tried and true  
homemade marshmallow recipe. With a few tweaks to said recipe 
these treats turned out better than I imagined, and I am certain to 
never buy a bag of  marshmallows ever again!

What you need to yield a 9x13 pan:
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 stick of unsalted butter
 1/2 tsp sea salt
10 cups crispy rice cereal
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract*
 Confectioner's sugar, for dusting the 9x13 pan
Paper straws (optional)

*the almond was a last minute idea, and it really works
well with the nuttiness of the brown butter.  
The almond extract is optional.

Combine the unflavored gelatin packets with 1/2 cup
ice cold water in the bowl of an electric stand mixer,
fitted with the whisk attachment.  Pulse the whisk quickly,
to combine the gelatin and water, then let sit and 'bloom' 
while you continue the next step.

 In a saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup of 
water.  Cook over medium/high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves,
then just allow the syrup to continue boiling without stirring.

At this time, place the 10 cups of crispy rice cereal in a large mixing bowl, 
set aside.

 Continue the boil until you reach a temp of 240 on a candy thermometer.
The temp will sit at 220-225 for what feels like forever, so just be patient.

 So thankful I am able to grab this image from my previous
marshmallow post, as I totally forgot to snap this today!  Phew.  
I carefully pour the 240 degree syrup over the bloomed gelatin and 
begin whipping.  I whip on low for a minute, to the everything mixed up, 
then I switch the speed to high and set a timer for 10 minutes.

While the gelatin and syrup whip, slowly melt a stick of butter over
medium heat.  

At this time butter and shake the 9x13 pan with confectioner's
sugar.  Coating the bottom and all 4 sides with butter and the sugar.
Set the pan aside.

After the melted butter bubbles for a bit, the edges will start to darken.
Watch it closely, and pull the pan from the heat when the butter turns dark golden.
When removed from the heat I stirred the in the 
vanilla and almond extract into the brown butter. 

After the syrup and gelatin has whipped for 10 minutes and looks
beautifully white and fluffy, stop the mixer, and pour in the brown butter 
(with the vanilla and almond).  Then whip on low, increasing speed to medium, 
until the butter is incorporated and the marshmallow is smooth and fluffy.

I just pour the brown butter, I do not scrape the bits off the pan.
 Pour the marshmallow over the crispy rice cereal (I use a bowl scraper
to get all the marshmallow out of the mixer) and start combining, really 
pulling the cereal up from the bottom of the bowl with each stir.  

Place the marshmallow crispy mix into the prepared pan (I doubled
the recipe) then rub a little butter on your hands and press firmly into the 
pan.  Set the pressed pan aside for an hour.

After an hour I flipped the pan onto a cutting surface.  I used a sharp serrated 
knife to cut desired size squares (cutting off the irregular edges). 


I decided the kids would love these treats 'on a stick'.

Of course you can do this same thing with store bought marshmallows, but the fluffy 
fresh marshmallow combined with the brown butter is simply outrageous!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sundance Film Festival 2014, part 3

I was obsessed with the lights cast on the historic Egyptian Theatre on 
Main street each night of the festival.  It was so fun and I kind of think
they could see it from space.  
 Ahhh, Maggie Gyllenhaal had the cutest haircut ever. 
Short like mine, but the absolute cutest!
(note she went in without a hat)

  And came out sporting this cutie free hat.  Ohh
to have so much money that you need for nothing,
 yet free stuff is shoved your way. 
(note the coat she walked out in)

I would be smiling too, if someone gave
me a free coat!  For reals. Smiles for days.
This be for all my Downton Abbey ladies...holla.
I don't watch the show, but the girls around me 
were going straight CRAZY for Dan Stevens.

I love people that get a little nutso, in the face of celebrity.
I feel like we are cut from the same, beautiful tapestry of crazy!!!

 Dan Stevens, head shot (homeboy should be paying me for this one)
Apparently sweet Dan (wait, is he sweet?) died on the if.

Chloe Grace Moretz.  I barely got out of pajama 
pants when I was 17, so I was shocked to find out
that is how old she turns this week!  Crazy business!

She was in town to promote the film, Laggies,
which received great reviews at the festival.

Tyler James Williams (of Everybody Hates Chris)
was in town to promote one of the most buzzed about
films at the festival, Dear White People.  He was awarded
the prize for Best Supporting Actor, during the festival awards
ceremony, and the film itself was awarded the Special Jury 
prize for Breakthrough Talent.  Cannot wait to see this film!

Kate Flannery (The Office) promoting in her free boots
the film Cooties.  I was wildly excited about this film 
(well, mainly the ridiculous cast, check it out!) and we
 headed the the Egyptian Theatre for the film's midnight
premiere.  Our chances of getting in were excellent, until
they made the announcement that the cast/crew/entourages 
filled up over 70% of the theatre.  Is that not one of the 
most annoying things you have ever heard?  I think if you
are premiering your film at a quaint theatre, don't invite your 
dog walker, nail polish tech and your cab driver...just saying!

I didn't get to see her premiere, but it was fun
to see Kate Hudson (and to realize that she and my left
 thumb  wear the same jean size...maybe the big hat made her
look smaller?  I might try this trick!)

2 headed Turk!  If you love Scrubs, you are
jumping for joy at this moment!!! What a funny
snap, huh!

Zach Braff (I nearly had a moment) and Donald Faison 
(I would say Donald is best none for Scrubs, Clueless
and being Zach Braff's BFF).

In all my years of hitting up the festival, I always
say I hope to see Zach Braff.  He is like my one
true Hollywood love!  I was so bummed that 
we didn't get to see his premiere (that he wrote,
directed and starred in) despite begging for tickets,
but I was so elated to finally see him, after 7 
festival years of hoping! 

Mildly majorly, amongst friends obsessed!

I got super nervous that I didn't actually get a photo, so I did what
any highly functioning adult would do, turned my hand, in a counter clockwise
circle, as if I was rolling down an old school car window, 
in hopes they would follow my lead.  

They did and this is PHOTO GOLD in my book! 
Can I keep having a moment?

I was on a Zach Braff Cloud 9 as I headed
back to meet up with friends when I happened 
upon Michael C. Hall in a parking lot.  I was
so excited that I initially forgot to take my lens
cap off, so this be as good as it gets!!!  

Many apologies to all you Dexter fans! 

Rachel McAdams was annoyingly flawless!  OMG. 
Can I have her hair?  No for reals, do they sell
a Rachel McAdams wig at Halloween?  I am so in.

seemed uber friendly!  I wonder why he was canned
from the show? I pray you tasted my sarcasm!  

Okay friends, I must sign off for now...but there are at
least 2 more parts to this Sundance wrap up.  I know,
I know...I should just knock it out...but that is so hard
to do with 2 little kids crawling all over you. Gotta
figure out how to get paid for this, that would certainly 
light a fire!