About Miss McBooty

Food. It's sort of my thing.

Posts by Miss McBooty:

Why I Love Brown Rice Pasta (And You Should, Too!)

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Before I start confession my love for brown rice pasta, let me first admit something. I try my best to live a healthier lifestyle, so transitioning to brown rice pasta seemed natural to me. However, I do not like all healthy pastas. I will never get used to the taste of whole wheat pasta and quinoa pasta doesn’t have the same texture that I expect when I eat an al dente noodle. But brown rice pasta has changed my opinion about healthier pastas.

I first tried brown rice pasta over a year ago. Sodium-Free, Wheat-Free, Cholesterol-Free, Gluten-Free… sounds terrible doesn’t it? I was hesitant but my curiosity still got the best of me. I was completely surprised! I couldn’t believe how much this stuff tasted like normal pasta! Plus, it had the same CHEW as regular flour pasta. The best part? You can eat your fill, go back for seconds (or thirds), and feel way less guilty than if you had done that with normal pasta.

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BRP also wins my vote when it comes to ingredients. I’m a strong advocate for being able to pronounce everything on the package of whatever I’m about to eat. Most brands of brown rice pasta have two ingredients listed on the package: brown rice and water. Amazing!

The only caveat I have is that you have to be careful not to overcook this pasta. Check the pasta multiple times when the cooking time is almost up. When it is ready, strain into a colander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Reheat the pasta by adding it directly into your pasta sauce and tossing everything together.

If you are afraid to try one many pasta inventions that are being created these days, trust me when I say that brown rice pasta is worth a try.

Try brown rice pasta with my Mouth-Watering Marinara Sauce.

Questions about brown rice pasta or anything else? Ask me!

Crock Pot Applesauce

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It’s apple season! There are bushels of apples on every corner at farmer stands. You can also pick your own at local orchards. As a senior in high school, my friends and I would leave the campus at lunch and go apple picking at least once or twice every fall. Apple picking is definitely a tradition I missed while I lived in Colorado. Bring on the apple harvest!

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This is my favorite applesauce recipe. It’s so easy and simple. You can jar your homemade applesauce or this will keep in the fridge for five days or in the freezer for 3 months.

I usually leave my applesauce a bit chunky, but you can also blend this if you want a smoother applesauce.

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And of course, I eat mine with grilled cheese. It’s weird but delicious. Weirdly delicious! This started when I was a kid. I would order grilled cheese and applesauce whenever my family brought me out to any restaurant and dip my sandwich into the applesauce. It’s something I’ve done every since. Try it, you might like it!

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At the very least, make this crock pot applesauce. It’s so easy and so yummy!

Crock Pot Applesauce

Rating: 51

Yields: 5-6 cups

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs tart apples, cored and sliced thin (I used honey crisp but I have also used granny smith)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar + more to taste
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Mix apples with cinnamon and sugar and put into crock pot.
  2. Pour water and lemon juice over apples. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours, stirring once or twice throughout the cooking process.
  3. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.
  4. Enjoy as-is or blend in a food processor. This will keep in the fridge for five days or in the freezer for 3 months.
http://foodiemcbooty.com/crock-pot-applesauce/

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms {Vegetarian}

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Sadly, I think my photography skills are getting worse. I don’t have my food photo area set up anymore after I’ve moved. I’m still in a temporary living situation so that wont change anytime soon. Plus, I have a tendency to want to inhale anything I spend hours cooking, so by the time I get to the photo session I get impatient, snap a few shots, and satisfy my primal urges.

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Besides the high contrast photos, life has been good. I’ve been participating in a 31 Days of Horror (movie) Challenge. So far I’ve been able to watch 9 movies in 11 days. I have a little catching up to do, but I did discover a new favorite series, Dead Snow. Bask in its glory.

If you’re a fan of Evil Dead or Dead Alive, you need to watch Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2! So many fun references, great humor, and even better Nazi zombie gore scenes. Foodie McBooty gives these two thumbs up!

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Okay, back to the food. Every fall pumpkin and squash everything seems to appear everywhere (lattes, shakes, spaghetti, ravioli) come out of the woodwork (along with all of the creepy crawlies), and I love it!! I’m definitely one of those people who takes full advantage while she can. My apologies to anybody around me who has to deal with my (slight) addiction, but if I see a pumpkin or squash related item on a menu, I’m most likely ordering it.

This is a recipe I’ve made before but haven’t posted until today. I added mushrooms to my lasagna this time because I picked some up at the farmer’s market last weekend. I have to warn you now, as this lasagna bakes in the oven you might go a little crazy. The smell of warm butternut squash, garlicky spinach, and bubbling, browning cheese might drive you nuts. Or at least, it drives me nutty, which is why by the time I pull this out of the oven, I can’t take any decent pictures. Everything goes dark and before I know it, I’ve eaten half of the pan of lasagna and I have crummy pictures on my camera.

I regret nothing.

Butternut Squash Lasagna with Spinach and Mushrooms {Vegetarian}

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients

    Butternut Squash Filling:
  • 2 cups butternut squash puree (1 medium cooked squash or frozen works in a bind)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk (more, if needed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 ground nutmeg
  • Spinach Filling:
  • 1 pound spinach, washed and stems trimmed
  • 6-ounces of your favorite mushroom, washed and diced (I used oyster, but white or cremini would work great too)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • Other Ingredients:
  • 10 oz lasagna noodles, cooked or oven-ready
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Italian seasoning

Directions

    Prepare the Butternut Squash Filling
  1. Cut the end of the butternut squash off, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place squash in a microwave safe container and add 2 teaspoons of water. Cover and microwave 6 minutes on high (you can also roast your squash in the oven if you have the time). Scoop out the cooked squash and place in a food processor. Add the thyme, ricotta cheese, milk, salt and nutmeg and blend until smooth. Add more milk if the mixture is too thick.
  2. For the Spinach Filling
  3. Heat olive oil in a medium-size pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms, toss, and season with salt and pepper. You may need to add more olive oil as mushrooms tend to absorb a lot of liquid. Cook until the mushrooms are browned or cook down a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and toss until wilty, 1-2 minutes. Lastly, add the minced garlic and stir almost continuously until fragrant. Put the mixture into a medium bowl and add the ricotta and mozzarella cheese while the mixture is still hot. Set aside.
  4. Assemble the Lasagna
  5. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 11 inches x 8.5 inches x 3 inches dish with butter or non-stick spray.
  6. Spread about a 1/3 of the butternut squash filling on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle lightly with mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked or oven-ready lasagna noodles, being careful not to overlap them.
  7. Spread half of the spinach mixture over the noodles. Top lightly with mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked noodles.
  8. Spread another layer (1/3) of butternut squash mixture, then sprinkle lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with cooked noodles.
  9. Spread the remaining half of spinach filling over the noodles. Top lightly with Mozzarella cheese. Top with the final layer of cooked noodles.
  10. Spread the last layer (1/3) of butternut squash filling over this final layer of noodles, sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese (should be about 1/2 cup of mozzarella). Generously sprinkle the cheese with Italian seasoning.
  11. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the top is golden and bubbly.
http://foodiemcbooty.com/butternut-squash-lasagna-with-spinach-and-mushrooms-vegetarian/

Grilled Cheese with Cauliflower “Bread”

Good day to you fine people! I mean, how can a day NOT be fine with this beauty?

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I have to admit, I have a slight obsession with cauliflower as of late. As you know, I love, love, love my Cauliflower Crust Pizza, I have been roasting cauliflower for side dishes like nobody’s business, and now I’ve arguably taken cauliflower too far. I’m not sure, all I know is that I might be due for an intervention.

You’ll have to pry this grilled cheese out of my cold dead hands first!

For all of you people who want to cut down on your intake of bread (and in my case, sugar) and add an extra serving of vegetables to your diet, this “bread” is a great substitute!

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The key to this recipe? Make sure your cauliflower is DRY. Dry as a bone. Dry as an old woman’s… handbag. Dry, dry, dry! If your cauliflower is too moist (I really dislike that word btw), your “bread” slices will turn out mushy. So try to practice some patience with this step. This is very important!

The end result turns out surprisingly bready! You still get your crispy satisfaction of bread in your grilled cheese, but with cauliflower instead.

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If you don’t like cauliflower, you wont like this recipe. The amount of cheese or even the act of grilling in delicious butter doesn’t hide the flavor of cauliflower. But if you like cauliflower, you have to try this!

Disclaimer: If you get addicted, don’t blame me. Just please bring me with you to your addict meetings.

Grilled Cheese with Cauliflower “Bread”

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yields: 2 grilled cheese sandwiches

Grilled Cheese with Cauliflower “Bread”

Ingredients

    Cauliflower crust “bread” slices
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Grilled cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions

    Cauliflower Bread
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F and place a rack in the middle.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and liberally grease it with olive oil. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor rice the uncooked cauliflower florets (it should be evenly chopped but not completely pulverized).
  4. Transfer cauliflower rice (about 3 cups) to a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 8 minutes, no water, until cooked.
  5. Place the cauliflower rice in a tea towel and twist it to squeeze as much moisture as you can (I squeezed out over a cup of liquid). Lay out on a flat surface for five additional minutes. Then squeeze out excess liquid again.
  6. Transfer the cauliflower rice to a mixing bowl, add egg, mozzarella, salt, pepper and mix well.
  7. Grab some of the cauliflower mixture and spread onto the lined baking sheet. Shape into 4 equal squares.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes until golden.
  9. Remove and let cool 10 minutes before peeling them off the parchment paper.
  10. Grilled Cheese with Cauliflower Bread
  11. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Butter one side of each slice of cauliflower crust bread.
  12. Place one slice of bread in the pan, buttered side down, sprinkle with the cheese and top with the remaining slice of cauliflower crust bread, buttered side up. Cook until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes. Gently flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2 to 4 minutes.
http://foodiemcbooty.com/grilled-cheese-with-cauliflower-bread/

Baked Chicken with Tomatoes, Broccoli, and Lemon

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In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Okay, I didn’t quite fly over the sea, but I did fly a plane today. I had a lot of help from my instructor, but he let me take off and land the plane on my own. He even commented that most people don’t turn as quickly or as sharply as I did on their first flight. I think I’m a natural. He probably thought I was crazy.

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Either way, I’m hooked. I will get my pilot’s certificate. And then maybe my glider pilot license. I can see myself soaring through the air without the noise of an engine – just peaceful, serene, and practically weightless flight.

Heroes Reborn is premiering on television right now. I am so excited for this show! I watched the original and was practically heartbroken when it went off the air (mid-season too)! Seems good so far. I guess we’ll see.

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Save the cheerleader. Save the world.

Anywho, my grandparents are settled in their new home and my mom and I have been sorting through their things. We’ve found some pretty interesting stuff already. It’s amazing what Polacks in their 90’s have held onto over the years. For example, I found an opened Pillsbury crust mix box that read, “New! 6¢.”

Made me smile.

Lots of updates in one post. I’ll write again soon. For now, I leave you with this easy, one-pan meal. Chicken, tomatoes, broccoli and lemon. Shove it all into a cake pan, bake for 20-25 minutes, and inhale. Chewing is optional.

Baked Chicken with Tomatoes, Broccoli, and Lemon

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 1/2 tsp. olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, each about 5 oz.
  • 4 oz. cherry or whole tomatoes, halved or cut into small pieces
  • 8 oz. broccoli tops, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking dish with 2 tsp. of the olive oil.
  2. Pound the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap until each piece of chicken is the same thickness, about 1/2-inch thick. Place the chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish. Arrange the tomatoes, and broccoli around the chicken. Drizzle everything with the vinegar and 2 1/2 tsp. of the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  3. Top each chicken breast with 2 lemon slices. Drizzle the remaining 2 tsp. olive oil over everything.
  4. Bake until the chicken is opaque throughout, 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 4.
http://foodiemcbooty.com/baked-chicken-with-tomatoes-broccoli-and-lemon/

She Was Transfixed

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It’s storming tonight. I absolutely love night storms. I love the energy, the sound, and how surreal (and ominous at times) the night sky looks. Here’s hoping I will find some time to cook something soon, but until then, here is a poetry ditty.

She was transfixed
by the thunder and lighting in the night sky.
She was fascinated
at how the earth soaked up the relentless rain.
Yet the chaos of everything was somehow comforting.
Although alone, she felt whole.
She felt complete.
She loved how the rain made the morning lush and green.
And how the storm made everything
grow so beautifully.
Perhaps when it stops raining,
she will learn to do the same.

The Umbrella – A Creative Piece (Part II)

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(This is a continuation of The Umbrella – Part I)

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I trudged over dune after dune for what felt like an eternity when I finally saw something along the horizon. As I dragged my blistered and sunburned body toward the tiny spec in the distance, I came to realize that the tiny spec I was looking at was a house. A house, in the middle of the desert? Whatever. That’s where the lion’s tracks lead to and that’s where I was going. I had to get out of the heat.

The sun had begun setting by the time I reached the house’s entrance. The house looked like it had been abandoned for decades. What little paint that remained was peeling and fluttered in the breeze. The house’s windows were all broken or cracked, with the exception of one window above the garage. I walked up the porch steps, each one creaking under my steps, and reached for the front door’s handle. I turned the doorknob and the door violently swung open. Suddenly sand and dust whipped passed me into the home. The house was sucking me in, like a blackhole.

I used the door frame to push away from the vortex as hard as I could but I knew immediately that I was outmatched. I took a deep breathe and let go, entering the whirlpool, knowing this could be the last breath I ever take.

It wasn’t. Once inside of the door I heard nothing – complete silence. I waited a moment before building up enough nerve to open my eyes. I gasped. I was underwater. I gulped some air into my lungs and held my breath again. I held that air in my lungs for as long as possible, but my lungs began to burn and I had to take a breath. I choked and gasped for air. I could breath! Underwater. I took a deep breath. Yep, I was breathing!

I looked around. I was bobbing up and down in the middle of turquoise-colored water. I could see the surface above me, dusk’s light twinkling into the water. I moved in that direction. As I swam toward the surface, a school of fish circled around me and swam away, following the water’s current. A jellyfish came by and scooted within arm’s length of me and I swear a sea turtle nodded at me as if to say, “Sup bro.”

What the hell kind of drug did I take?

I reached the water’s surface and realized that I was near an island. I swam toward one of the sandy beaches. When I reached the island’s edge, I was exhausted. I laid on the warm sand and caught my breath. As I laid on my back watching the palm trees sway back and forth, I heard it. I heard the lion roar. That little bugger was HERE! I quickly remembered what brought me on this journey in the first place and jumped to my feet, heading in the direction the roar came from.

I dug my feet into the sandy floor and ran as fast as I could. I knew I wasn’t far behind. I was gaining on him. Little did I realize, I was only gaining on him because he had stopped.

I ran into a clearing and there he was, sitting in the distance. I slowed to a stop and observed for a moment. The lion’s golden fur swayed as he reached down and picked up the umbrella, which was now open. He stuck the umbrella into the ground so it stood straight up and slowly backed away. I realized then that there was another creature now in the shade of the umbrella, a lion cub.

I cautiously approached the lion family. When I was a few feet away, the large lion turned and looked at me then returned his gaze to the little lion cub who stretched and settled back into her nap. I stood next to the lion and watched. The scene was so peaceful. After the chaos of everything else, I felt serenity. As if by reflex, I leaned into the lion and he supported my weight. I could feel him breathe. In and out his body rose and fell, and with each breath I felt sleepier and sleepier. Exhaustion set in and before I knew it everything turned black.

I came to at my house, not in my bed, but at my front door, keys dangling in my hand. I looked down, I had my work bag around me. How did I get here? Was I here the entire time? I opened my door and stepped inside. I was home and honestly, that’s all I cared about.

So that’s my story. I had an umbrella, a lion stole it from me, and I experienced something that nobody will ever believe, but I know the truth.

Simply Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Sometimes a simple chocolate chip cookie is all I need to make everything right in the world again. There is something so warm and inviting about fresh, homemade chocolate chip cookies. I love the taste, the chew, and how intoxicating my home smells when I make cookies. Every step of the baking process (including the eating part!) is completely comforting to me, like being wrapped in a warm blanket fresh from the dryer. I will make these cookies, specifically this recipe, until the day I die.

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The thing I’ve learned through baking batch after batch of cookies, is that every cookie spawns from the same basis recipe. If you mix sugar, butter, flour, leaveners (etc.) you end up with some type of cookie. Some recipes I’ve tried result in puffy cookies, others are crispy, and some are just plain… well, plain.

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Personally I love a chewier, golden cookie and I’ve found the perfect ingredient to make that happen every.single.time – melted, brown butter. I’ve had the best luck achieving this by using melted butter and if you let the butter brown, your cookies will taste as if you added caramel to them. Sooooooo yummy! I think this cookie recipe is pretty darn perfect but I’m always open to other learning differen baking tips. Share some of your own cookie tips in the comments below!

Simply Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

Simply Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12-ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • Flaky sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 360°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a light-colored saucepan over the lowest heat possible. Swirl the pan occasionally to ensure the butter is cooking evenly. The butter should begin to foam. The butter will progress from a light yellow-brown color to golden-tan then a dark, deep nutty brown. When you smell a nutty aroma, your butter is browned. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk. Set aside. Pour the melted butter into a large bowl and whisk in the sugars until all lumps are gone. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until just combined. Stir in the vanilla. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until barely blended (do not over mix or you will have tough cookies!) Gently stir in the chocolate chunks.
  4. Refrigerate the dough for 5 minutes and then roll into 1 heaping tablespoon rounded discs and gently press each cookie into a bit of flaky sea salt (or you can lightly sprinkle sea salt on top and press the salt into the dough). You wont need much salt to make an impact. Arrange on the prepared pans leaving 3 inches between each cookie. Bake until the tops are cracked and lightly golden, 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, the move to a wire rack to cool completely.
http://foodiemcbooty.com/simply-delicious-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Recipe adapted from Seven Spoons and Cook’s Illustrated.

The Umbrella – A Creative Piece

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I can’t believe I made it back. I feel like it’s been so long since I was home, let alone sat in front of a computer. I feel like I was only away for a few minutes but I think I was away for much longer. Days? Weeks? Months? I’m not even sure. Time is confusing on the other side. Let me start at the beginning.

It was a beautiful August morning. The air was clean and crisp and smelled of dewy earth and sweet sunshine. The birds were happily chirping their morning greetings and there was just enough breeze to gently dry my freshly washed hair. I readied myself for work, grabbing an umbrella because the weatherman’s forecast predicted a chance of rain. I started along my commute when I noticed a large animal sauntering near the highway’s onramp. I slowed my vehicle to take a look at the creature. Holy donuts! The gentle giant was an AFRICAN LION! Seriously, like straight from the Lion King-type of lion.

(queue the Circle of Life song)

I immediately got out of my car (I forgot to put it into park so it ended up going into a ditch and spontaneously combusting, but that’s a story for another day) and bravely approached the lion. I was so curious! I was so lost in my thoughts that before I knew it, I was face-to-face with the beast. The lion stopped walking and sat in front of me. It’s head loomed above mine and I could feel it’s warm breath move my hair. I was taken aback from its beauty. The lion’s golden fur looked surprising soft and it’s main was fluffy and groomed. I wanted to touch him. I slowly reached out my hand and watched how he responded to me. He touched his big snout to my out-stretched palm and sniffed my hand. Stunned and afraid to move, I didn’t give any resistance when he grabbed the umbrella from under my arm, leaped up, and started running toward the woods nearby.

“Come back here, you!” I managed to yell and without a second thought, I ran into the woods after him.

I don’t remember what happened after that exactly. I do remember running for a long time, long enough that my lungs and muscles burned. I remember seeing flashes of his golden fur and followed as best as I could, but he was always ahead of me. Before I knew it, everything around me became hazy. The beams of light that fell through the treetops started flickering, almost as if the sun was dancing across the forest floor. I looked down at my hands and they appeared almost transparent, fading in and out right in front of my eyes. I felt the ground beneath my feet shift somehow and when I looked up, I was surround by vast dunes of sand. The lush forest I had just been in was gone and I found myself in a desert.

Describing this sandy abyss as, “hot,” is an understatement. I was immediately drenched in sweat (although all of the running didn’t help with that either). I had to find shade – quickly! I looked around. Where the hell did that damn lion go with my umbrella? I spotted large tracks in the sand and headed in that direction, unsure of what I would find next.

To be continued…

My Second Home

 

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For me, trees and water have always been a part of my soul.  The mountains, although glorious with their regal peaks and lush valleys, made me feel something completely different – almost as if being in the mountains sparked one side of my brain while old oak trees with outstretched branches and warm, running water tapped into another part of my brain.  Both places I consider home, but in different ways.

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I spent my first week back in the midwest rediscovering some of my favorite places.  The first, High Cliff State Park.  This park is the first place I camped, the first area where I scaled abandoned quarry walls, and the first place I can remember getting lost staring at sunsets over this lake. Two of my closest friends got married here and my (girl) soul mate and I swam under the stars here.  High Cliff and I go way back.

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Next, a few pals and I walked around downtown.  This is an area of town that is always changing, always buzzing.  There are many small gift shops, bakeries, restaurants, bars, and even a record store.  It’s an area that is the perfect size – it offers enough change so you don’t get bored but still host regular items so you know what to expect.

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And I of course had to walk around a park along the Fox River.  There is a magnificent dock at Lutz Park where families come to try their luck at catching Sunfish or Perch.  There were also many baby birds waddling about and trying to keep up with their parents as they swam from island to island.

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It’s a wonderful place to kick back and take in the sights and sounds of local wildlife.

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Even though I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything, sometimes I feel like I don’t belong here anymore – I simply just grew up here.  I’ll ask myself, “What am I doing?” and fear of the unknown sets in.  But then I remind myself that life always has a funny way of making everything make sense eventually.  No matter how dim things seem, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  At the end of the day, home is what I make it out to be.  Maybe I haven’t discovered where my physical home is yet, but Wisconsin will always be my “Second Home,” no matter where I end up.

I Wrote a Poem

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Goodbye Colorado
I love your mountains, your lifestyle.
I did not love the ghetto apartment.

Goodbye Doe
You ran in front of my car, now you are dead.
That was your own fault.

Goodbye Car
Front end smashed, insurance calls you totaled.
You deserved better.

Hello Wisconsin
I am excited to hug family, to be home.
I am not excited for the creepy crawlies.

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham {Slow-Cooker}

Colorado never ceases to amaze me.  It’s May and we’re still getting snow.  Well, we got inches of snow last weekend, but still… SNOW!  In MAY!  What happened to Spring?

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Oh well, before you know it the sun comes out and melts everything away.  Plus, snow is an excuse for me to dust off the ol’ crock pot and make something that is warm and makes the entire house smell like awesome.

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Like these scalloped potatoes for example.  Oh my yum.  These are hot, cheesy, and the perfect amount of salty from the ham.  Just… drool-worthy.  I burnt the roof of my mouth because I couldn’t wait to get this into my mouth.

Totally worth it.

Snow and scalloped potatoes… who needs Spring?  Okay I do.  But for now, I have these flowers.
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Scalloped Potatoes and Ham {Slow-Cooker}

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Yields: 6-8 servings

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham {Slow-Cooker}

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut in half and sliced thin
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1-1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (NOT extra-sharp cheddar)
  • 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups diced thick-cut ham, cooked

Directions

  1. Prepare your slow-cooker: Fold a sheet of parchment paper into a 3-inch strip and place inside perimeter of slow-cooker insert (along the sides). Lightly spray parchment paper with cooking spray. This will prevent the potatoes around the edge of the cooker from burning.
  2. Par-cook potatoes: Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons cream in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the edges of potatoes are translucent, 6-8 minutes, shaking bowl (without moving plastic) to redistribute potatoes halfway through cooking.
  3. Whisk broth and cornstarch in large liquid measuring cup until smooth. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth mixture, remaining cream, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 1 minute. Off heat, add cheeses, whisking until smooth. Add ham and combine.
  4. Pour half of sauce into slow-cooker insert. Arrange potatoes in even layer over sauce and pour remaining sauce over potatoes. Cover and cook on low until potatoes are tender, 5-6 hours. Let cool 20 minutes. Remove parchment and serve.
http://foodiemcbooty.com/scalloped-potatoes-and-ham-slow-cooker/

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