Thursday, March 28, 2013

St. Patrick's Day!

It's no secret to most of you that St. Patrick's Day rivals every other day of the year for me. I honestly am not even sure if I love my birthday more than St. Patrick's Day, although it might be close. ;) To clarify, I am not Irish (maybe a teeny, tiny bit on my dad's side), and there was really no definitive moment when I decided that St. Patty's reigned above most every other day for me. That being said, however, I just adore the day. I get super excited in the days and weeks leading up to it, and that hasn't changed for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it's because I love the color green since it matches my eyes so well (ha). Perhaps it's because it gives people a legitimate excuse to drink green beer at 8:00am. Perhaps it's because it's one of those days where everyone just seems really happy. I don't know. Just something about it that gets me, and this year was no different! In keeping with last year's tradition, it was decided that my mom, my aunt, and my friend Megan would come down for the weekend so we could celebrate in style. Unfortunately, Megan couldn't make it at last minute, which was sad, but we still managed to have a good time! Since the actual holiday fell on a Sunday this year, I took Monday off and we had extra time to celebrate. Friday, we just went to dinner in my neighborhood, and mom and Becky went back to their hotel while I slept at home. On Saturday, we spent a good chunk of time at Mo's Irish Pub that was right next to their hotel, and then we made our way over to Brady Street to hang out with my old boss Duane. That was a hoot as always! My favorite part? We spent quite a bit of time at a bar called the Roman Coin, which does not serve food. As dinner time approached, we were all hungry, and get this. They let you order in food and have it brought there! So, we ordered from the sushi place down the road and had ourselves a little feast right in the bar. Too funny! We explored a couple places that evening, and then got ourselves ready for round two the next day. Interestingly enough, we got a little 'crazier' on Saturday than we did on the actual day, but compared to last year (aka: the worst hangover of my life, no joke), I'd say we handled ourselves pretty respectably! ;) It was much, MUCH colder this year. I'm talking over a 40 degree difference in temp from one year to the next. Just a tad harder to wear a tank top and jeans when it was only about 30 degrees out. Ha! Fortunately for me, I have a green jacket, so it all worked out okay. Anyway, moral of this long story is that we had yet another successful year, and Megan, if you're reading this, your butt better plan to be here next year! ;) Hope you all enjoy a few pics from the fun-filled weekend. Until next year!
All my green shirts to choose from!;)
First mirror shot of the day.

 Eh, what the heck. Why not throw on some green mustaches? ;) As L would say, "You like a me mustache?"
 Cool festive mannequins on top of Mo's!
Sisters! :)
Me and mama!

Somehow the young one is taking a picture of the parents on their phones. That darn Instagram. ;)
Yummy grilled cheese and tomato soup with a cool shamrock in it!
Aunt B caught this cute one of me and my mom walking to the Roman Coin.
My gyosas from the sushi place when we ordered in into the bar! Awesome. :)
Day two! Not gonna lie, I kinda loved my outfit that day. :)
All of us!
The awesomely huge bloody mary we got from INdustri Cafe! They even give you a plate for all the goodies!
 Aunt B rockin' that green wig in style!
 Even my coat is green! :)
 I love bagpipes!!!!!!
 We hung out in this tent for most of the afternoon. Much colder this year! ;) Good times though!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spicy Sausage Pasta

Hey there! Back with another recipe. I know I don't get to post as often as I'd like, and my blog was never meant to be a 'food' blog, but it seems that's what I end up posting about these days. Anyway, I stumbled across a recipe on Pinterest the other night called Spicy Sausage Pasta. I thought, "Man, that looks good!" The pictures looked great. I kept looking at the ingredients and wondering how I felt about it. I decided last night that I was going to make it tonight, and then all day today, I thought, "Well, maybe I'll just make my go-to chorizo and peppers dish instead because I know I love that." Fortunately, when I got to the grocery store after work tonight, I got the guts to get the few remaining ingredients I needed for this recipe, because now that I made it, I couldn't be happier. Seriously one of the best recipes I've ever made. I suppose for those of you who might try it, it will all depend on your taste preferences, but to me, it is friggin' fantastic. The original recipe can be found here, (well, the original recipe is from a cookbook, but I found it at this website), but I've included it below with a few notes/modifications of my own. A couple key things to know that made this recipe even better: You don't have to drain the tomatoes, and you don't have to cook the pasta ahead of time. Amazing! Please go out and buy the ingredients now. This recipe will change your life. ;)

 All the ingredients!
 Put the olive oil, chorizo, onions, and garlic in a pan.
 The chorizo gets a little greasy, but it mixed in well later. :)
Add the broth, tomatoes (not drained), cream, pasta (uncooked), salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
 After it simmers, add half of the cheese (1/2 cup) and stir it all up!
 This is what it looks like once the cheese is stirred in.
 Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and add the scallions. Broil for 3 minutes.
 Right out of the oven. Amazing!! Looks even better than I thought!
My plate of food! :)

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. Smoked Sausage (The original blogger used turkey sausage, but I used Smith Bros. chorizo, which I think was a fantastic addition because I like a little extra spice.)
  • 1.5 cups diced onions (Thanks to this blogger, I now know that you can buy frozen diced onions. I have always diced them myself, which I may continue to do, but for now, this was a fantastic way to save time, and tears!;)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used chicken stock because I had some open already.)
  • 1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles (The recipe called for mild, but I used original, which I believe is a bit spicier. Again, I like spice!)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz. uncooked penne pasta (I used bow-tie because I had it, and I think that's better than penne for this recipe!)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper, each
  • 1 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese, shredded (I used Mozzarella because I had it.)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
(Sorry to distract you with all my comments, but I always just like to share how I modify the recipe. I personally think my small modifications, especially the chorizo, made this even better than the original recipe!)

  • Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.
**The original blog says it makes 4 servings, but based on how much is still left in my skillet after my one (and a half;) servings tonight, I think it's more than that. I suppose I'm not the best judge because most people eat more than me, but there's quite a bit there.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ski Trip!

Sorry for another long break in posting, folks. Since the classes I teach started a little less than a month ago, my life has been completely taken over. I've been literally working accountant-like hours this week to get video interview assignments back to students in time for their real interviews this week. That's less than a week to grade (and give substantial feedback) on 90 interviews that are about 10-20 minutes each. If you do the math, it's A LOT. Anyway, that has been a big part of the reason I've been MIA. Not to mention, last week, I had a cold that I thought was going to be the death of me. I've been pretty healthy the past few months (perhaps in part to my continued use of my NutriBullet:), but I started feeling a little under the weather two weekends ago, and it just kept getting worse. I even missed work last Friday. So yeah, blogging has been kinda far from my mind over the past couple weeks. Well, I shouldn't say that, I just haven't had the time or energy to do it. Anywayyyyyy.... That leads me to something more exciting to post about - the ski trip I went on two weekends ago!

In spending the past couple years really getting to know L and becoming more of a staple in his life, I have been fortunate enough to get to know a lot of the people who are very important to him, and the ski weekend was no exception. Way back in early November, some chatter started about a weekend where a bunch of people would get together and go on a ski trip in Michigan. The crew involved some of L's high school friends, as well as some people from college. We settled on Ski Brule as the ski resort and Anderson Lake Lodge as our home for the weekend. For those of you who know me, I'm not really a winter gal, and I most definitely don't ski. Fortunately for me, one of the other girls is pregnant, so she couldn't do the winter stuff, and another one of the girls stayed back from the hills as well. We had ourselves a great time in the lodge while the rest hit the slopes. Anyway, the adventure started on Thursday night when half of our crew made the trek to Colby to spend the night at my parent's house. We spent a couple hours at the VFW when we got to town and then headed home to spend a couple more hours in the Mud Bar. The boys didn't go to bed until 3:30. That's when L came in, woke me up, and then passed out on the bed sideways, forcing me into a tiny little ball while he snored the night away. Gotta love it. ;) Got up to a nice breakfast from mama and then hit the road for Iron River, MI. I won't go into too many details and I'll let the photos below speak for themselves. However, I will say that it was one of the most fantastic weekends I've had in a long time!! You know how sometimes when you travel or you spend time with a large group of people, and the first thing you do is analyze how it might have been better if _____ was different? Well, not with this crew. I look back at the trip so fondly and seriously wouldn't change a single thing. I had a blast, and I can't wait to spend more time with these people in the future! :)
 Me and L at the VFW.
Some of the ladies from the trip!
Lots of food and shots to be had in the Mud Bar...
The entire crew at Up North Bar once we got to Michigan. What a cool place!
My drinks! :)
Bar #2 - last stop before the lodge!
The caravan of vehicles to our lodge. It's on a private path in the middle of nowhere!
 Gorgeous private lake view from inside the lodge!
Cool staircase!
Oh, ya know. Just takin' a break to smoke a cigar.
Some of the boys! I like the lighting here. :)
Sunset from the lodge!
The cake some of our friends had made for the trip!
 Time to get the party started! (Dana on the right is pregnant, no alcohol for her!)

 Mandatory dance break!:)
Rooster dance! :)
We each had a song where we had to take a shot when it came on. Mine was Little Willy, my favorite song!
Hammer took his shot from the hot tub! :)
I love everything about this photo. Some dancing, some glaring, just lots of different activity.

The next morning, everyone got up and had breakfast, and the main crew went skiing. I stole a few pictures from L's sister from when they were actually skiing (as mentioned above, I didn't go), just so you could see some action from the trip. The rest of the photos after that will be from night two, which was just as crazy. ;)
 T and L!
The whole group of skiers/snowboarders!
The skiers have returned!
 Relaxing before dinner.
 I put the sandwiches together, and L made REAL grilled cheese to go with his homemade soup!!
Then the drinking Jenga and Monopoly came into play...
"I dare you to dance with Bradley." Okay! :)
 Me and K!
 Happy couple!
Jumping jacks. The end of the night, ha!
On our way back home, we stopped at McDonald's. L got this TINY cone. How friggin' cute!!

Sorry for the random mix of pictures. Sums up the weekend pretty well. I feel very fortunate to be blessed with such wonderful people in my life. And I must say, having such a tough couple weeks makes me miss that trip so much more. Thankfully, I have St. Patrick's day to look forward to this weekend with my mom, my aunt, and my friend M. Can't wait to have another adventure. The weekend after that is home to Colby for the first time in THREE months (man, I miss my family and all the kiddos!), the following weekend is a weekend with L, and the weekend after that is Madison again for the meat convention since my dad will be in town. The weekend after the meat show, I have a weekend to myself, which will be the first time in like 3-ish months. I love having lots to do, but man, I need some 'me' time! Much of this will be solved if/when me and L live in the same damn city. Someday..... (this is me taking a break to daydream about the possibility:). Anyway, thanks for hanging in there with me, and I hope you enjoyed the photos from my fun-filled "ski" trip! I'll try to post more often, so keep checking back!