An update on the new Casa...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Many of you have been is your house coming? Is everything on schedule? When are you moving? Etc. etc. etc. T and I would love to know the answer to those questions just as much as you. Until is what I can tell you.

A view of the new house...from the lake. Can't wait to take advantage of that awesome deck! No, we do not have a boat. The lakefront portion of our lot is part of a neighborhood association. Someday we may get a boat, but not today.

1. CLOSING: We had a tentative closing date of July 31st, but knew going in that it likely wasn't going to happen since we pretty much changed everything about our home besides the layout...and even adjusted that some too! That's all to report for now. Hoping to be able to move in sometime in the next 1 1/2 - 2 weeks. INSERT: New windows to change to flow of the master bedroom.

Master bedroom with new window arrangement. Originally, there was a sliding glass door instead of bedside windows.

2. FRUSTRATIONS: Our number one most frustrating thing to deal with has been getting tile installed. Our tile has officially been available for install since the end of July. We are STILL waiting for it to be completed by the subcontractor who shall remain nameless. *On a side note: if you live in my neck of the woods and are looking for a tile installer, the guy is good, but beyond slow. Message me for details.

A sneak peak of our basement before the tile went in...the wires are for floor heat

3. PROGRESS: So far, although the progress has been painfully slow, we are happy with the way the finishes are turning out. I have spent countless hours choosing little and BIG details to help give our new home the elegance and character that we love so much.

This is the granite in the kitchen. We love it. The color is 'Silver Fantasy', and it has a really neat marble-like look to it.

4. THE DETAILS: One of our favorite and most statement-making finishes is the lighting. I chose some FABULOUS kitchen and dining room lights (both from Capital Lighting) that I couldn't be more excited about. I stressed about kitchen and dining room lighting more than any other detail in the house. T was not satisfied with the standard frosted glass pendants or chandeliers that I had originally been planning (not so much because I loved them, but because I was trying not to go over budget too much). Because of this, I forced him to be he enjoyed being more involved and looking at countless options before the final lighting decisions were made. We couldn't be happier with the look, not to mention we don't have to stress about it anymore.

So far, T is convinced I should have been an interior designer, and my builder is taking some of my ideas for his own personal home he is currently building. This week, after asking me if I'd done this before, he told me 'You've got some class!'. I thought to, sir, should have seen that coming at you from a mile away.

I hope you have a spectacular weekend! And GO HAWKS!

Dry Rub Oven-Barbecued Chicken

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top of the morning to you! My it seems like a long time since my last update on the blog. I suppose it is to be expected in the heat of the summer when it is so hot that the only cooking adventures lately have been fresh sweet corn and firing up the grill for a quick meal. Oh...and this little gem of a recipe. Because when you live in an area without a solid BBQ option...well...improvising is a must. And you must try this recipe. Even if you do have a solid BBQ option where you live. You can thank me later.

First, I'll try to catch you up with a CSA box from a few weeks ago and we'll take things slow...capiche?

CSA WEEK SIX: the haul
Summer Squash
Green Pepper
Malabar Spinach
Red Russian Kale

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Brine the chicken for 1-4 hours. Meanwhile, make the dry rub. You'll likely have more than you need, so just keep the extra for another time.

Step Three: Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Lay out four sheets of foil (enough for two separate packs to completely encase chicken), and cover chicken pieces in dry rub. Be generous!

Step Four: Bake for 1 hour on two separate baking sheets at 300 degrees. After 1 hour, rotate the baking sheets and bake for another 30-60 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Step Five: Remove the chicken from the oven, and heat broiler. 

Step Six: Pour the juices from the chicken packets into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add a generous squeeze of honey, and reduce down 8-12 minutes, or until syrupy. Add a tsp of apple cider vinegar to finish.

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

DRY RUB OVEN-BARBECUED CHICKEN | Yield: 6-8 servings | Total Time: 3-7 hours (depending how long you brine the chicken)


4 C water
1/3 C Kosher salt
1/3 C white or brown sugar
1/3 C white vinegar

6 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
4 Tbsp paprika
3 Tbsp chili powder
Up to 1 Tbsp ground red pepper (if you like it hot) or to taste (I used about 1 1/2 tsp)
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp Kosher salt
Up to 1 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper

5 1/2 to 6 lbs mixed bone-in skin-on chicken parts (about 2 small chickens, each in 8 parts)

A generous squeeze of honey
1 tsp cider vinegar


In a large container, mix water, salt, sugar and vinegar. Add chicken parts and cover with a lid or plastic wrap in the fridge, for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.

Mix all of the seasonings together and set aside.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Remove chicken parts from brine and pat dry. Place pieces of chicken on two very large pieces of foil, large enough to fold over chicken and form packets. Pat chicken pieces generously on all sides with rub; do not be shy, you want this chicken completely doused. Turn the chicken pieces so the metier sides are down, and tightly fold the foil around them to make two large packets.

Place two cooling racks (which will act as baking racks) on two baking sheets (one on each). NOTE: if you don't have oven-safe cooling racks, fo-getta about this step! Your chicken will still turn out fabulously! Place a chicken packet on each, and put one sheet on an upper oven rack and the other on a lower. Bake chicken for one hour, then rotate baking sheets. Bake for another 30-60 minutes, until the internal temperature of the thickest part of each chicken reads 160 degrees. (Chicken is done at 160.)

*NOTE: You could cook the chicken at 250 degrees for 2-3 hours, or even try it in the slow-cooker on LOW for 5-7 hours if you're feeling adventurous!

Remove chicken from oven. Heat broiler. Carefully open each packet of chicken and pour accumulated juices into a saucepan (to make the BBQ sauce - in the next step). PLEASE be careful when pouring these juices. Those foil packets are going to be super hot, and the juices could potentially go everywhere. Consider yourself warned! Arrange the chicken pieces on the open foil packets and run each try under the broiler until lightly crisped at edges and cooked through. Place on serving platter.

While chicken is broiling, boil accumulated juices in the saucepan over high heat for 8-12 minutes, or until it makes a syrupy thick sauce that coats a spoon. Add a squeeze of honey while it reduces, and once syrupy, add 1 tsp apple cider vinegar. Serve with chicken.

The Regatta

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Regatta came to town. Can't tell you how much fun it was to watch the races.

The 'A' boats had never sailed Okoboji, so when they rolled in on trailers at a full 38 feet long, we knew we were in for a treat. These babies needed 5-7 man crews just to keep them going! 

By the way...I think these photos turned out pretty spectacular. I haven't edited them at all yet. I think they have a kind of cool vintage feel to the colors. I'm contemplating ordering a few on canvas for our new house. T, meanwhile, is adamant that he take sailing lessons. Maybe next summer...

The family also came to town...minus T, who disappeared for a weekend of shenanigans in Denver at a bachelor party for a close friend whose wedding is right around the corner. The rest of us had fun boating and relaxing at the lake while celebrating my Dad's birthday weekend.

We even got him to take us out in the new boat to watch fireworks!! If you know my padre, going in the boat to watch fireworks NEVER happens, so this is a very big deal. We missed the Josh Turner concert (partly thanks to an unexpected DNR stop on the way to the park - Always double check to make sure the docking lights are off!), but ended up being in a PRIME spot for the light show. FUN!

Me and my family! So fun to all be together at the lake!

Last, but not least, the whole fam. Reunited for the first time all together since April. This one's for you mom! 

What have you been up to lately?

Zucchini and Squash Galette with Pesto

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

With summer in full swing, zucchini and summer squash have become abundant in our weekly CSA boxes. When looking for a quick easy way to use up some of these delicious veggies - without putting in much time or effort - I stumbled across this little gem of a recipe. Boy oh boy does it deliver!

After making it several times I suppose it's finally time to share instead of hoarding it all to ourselves. But first...CSA updates:

CSA WEEK FIVE: the haul
Red Onions
White Onions
Summer Squash
Green Beans
Malabar Spinach (grows on a vine!)
Black Magic Kale

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Mix together the softened cream cheese and pesto. Spread it evenly on top of a pie crust, leaving about 1/2 inch around the edges.

Step Three: Slice the zucchini and summer squash into 1/4 inch rounds and layer it on top of the pie crust. Fold the edges to form a rough outer crust.

Bake for 20-24 minutes until the crust turns golden and devour!

Recipe from Crazy for Crust

ZUCCHINI AND SQUASH GALETTE WITH PESTO | Yield: 6 servings | Total Time: 30 min.


1 medium zucchini
1 medium summer squash
1 refrigerated pie crust (from a box of 2)
2 oz. lowfat cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp prepared pesto
Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the softened cream cheese and pesto to a small bowl, stir until well combined. Slice the zucchini and summer squash to about a 1/4 inch thick rounds.

Roll out the pie crust onto a round pizza pan.* Spread the cream cheese-pesto mix over the pie crust leaving about 1/2 inch on the outside edges.

*NOTE: I used a store bought Pillsbury crust, but all the power to you if you prefer homemade.

Layer the zucchini and summer squash over the cream cheese-pesto spread, and gently fold the pie crust edges to form a crust. Don't be afraid to layer the zucchini and summer sqaush. They will shrink up in the oven as they cook. Sprinkle with some fresh cracked black pepper, then bake for 20-24 minutes at 400 degrees, or until the crust starts to get golden brown. Serve warm as an appetizer or as a side to your meal.

On a side note...I'm open to thoughts on what to do with cabbage. I have amassed two heads of it in our CSA, and beyond the delicious Cabbage and Rice Soup I made this winter, I'm drawing a blank on what to make. Any suggestions?


Monday, August 5, 2013

T and I road-tripped to La Crosse last weekend to help celebrate K & J's wedding. It was a beautiful day for a wedding with lots of sunshine and love at an old country church. Then it was on to the reception near the mighty Mississippi where a live band from Milwaukee had wonderful music to entertain us for the evening. We had a great time seeing friends from T's residency and visiting the old stomping grounds one last time. Highlight for T? He may or may not have bootlegged an entire trunk full of Spotted Cow back home with us....

Carrot Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Thursday, August 1, 2013

T: "I've had a lot of cake in my life, but this cake takes the cake."

While it's not too often that I delve into cake baking, when I stumbled across this recipe, I knew I had to give it a try. With carrots from our latest CSA and ripe bananas begging to be turned into the next masterpiece, this banana carrot cake with cream cheese frosting was calling my name. T was not kidding. This is a seriously tasty piece of cake!

Before I go any further...drum roll please...

CSA WEEK FOUR: the haul
Summer Squash
Red Onion
Yellow Onion
Green Beans

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Shred the carrots, whisk the dry ingredients together, mash the bananas with the wet ingredients.

Step Three: Butter and flour a loaf pan. Combine all ingredients and pour into loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 55 minutes. Meanwhile, make frosting.

Step Four: Cool completely on a wire rack, then frost and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Doesn't that frosting look absolutely decadent?

Recipe slightly adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

CARROT BANANA CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING | Yield: 1 loaf pan | Total Time 1 hr. 15 min.


1 1/4 C all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 C oil
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 C sugar
1 C mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
1 1/2 C firmly packed grated carrots
1/3 C golden raisins

4 oz light cream cheese, at room temperature
4 oz (1 stick) butter, at room temperature 
2 C confectioners sugar
1/4 C chopped walnuts, for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Use a whisk to sift together.

In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar and mashed bananas. Add the wet ingredients to the larger dry ingredient bowl, and mix to combine.

Use a food processor or cheese grater to grate the carrots. Fold in grated carrots and raisins to the batter mixture until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake 55 min. Check at 55 minutes for doneness. Cook up to an additional 15 minutes or until a cake tester in the center comes out clean (makeshift a cake tester using a kabob skewer or toothpick). Cool on a wire rack. NOTE: If you plan to serve on a cake platter, turn cake out onto wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

Combine cream cheese and butter. Use a beater on medium speed for 2 minutes before adding the confectioners sugar. Beat on medium speed for an additional 4-5 minutes until thick and fluffy. Load the frosting onto the top of the carrot cake and sprinkle with walnuts.

The best news...if you have any leftovers (lucky you) this cake will stay in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Do you have a favorite cake recipe?
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