Friday, November 30, 2012

November 30: Five on Friday

Happy Friday! Today is really like a Thursday to me because I have to work tomorrow.

Here are five things that made my week!

1. I indulged in a white chocolate peppermint mocha while I wrote out some to do lists at work on Thursday. The whipped cream was especially good. 


2. I had some kettle corn yesterday and Karma definitely thought he was getting some. I don't eat popcorn that often, but my mom gave me some of this kettle corn and it hit the spot for both Craig and I.


3. I felt the need to get away from eating lunch at my desk, so I went to the library nearby and ordered a hummus wrap. It was nice to sit in the sunshine and be surrounded by books. I picked up two DVDs to borrow, one of which is featured next in this post.


4. I can't wait to continue watching Homeland this weekend. I'm onto Season 1, disc 3 and I continue to be hooked. I don't watch a lot of TV normally, but I seem to get easily addicted to TV series like Sex and the City, Six Feet Under and Downton Abbey.


5. Wool socks rule. How did it take me this long to discover this fact? I received these SmartWool socks from Larabar and Food Should Taste Good a couple of weeks ago and they are awesome! My hands and feet tend to always be cold in the winter, even indoors. My feet stayed nice and toasty in these socks. Sometimes it's the little things in life that make me so happy. 

SmartWool socks 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

MKEfoodies Holiday Bake Sale

Attention Milwaukee readers! Here is a way for you to have fun in the kitchen and help others by giving your time and/or baked goods for a great cause! On Saturday, December 8th, come out to Best Place at the Historic Pabst Bakery to purchase cookies, treats and candies made by local bakers. MKEfoodies is sponsoring the event and all proceeds are donated to Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

“Everyone loves homemade treats around the holidays,” says Lori Fredrich, co-founder of MKEfoodies, “We also have a wealth of talented chefs, home bakers, and food bloggers here in the Milwaukee area. So why not bring them together for a good cause?  Last year, through the generosity of those who attended the bake sale, we raised over $2,000 for pediatric cancer research. This year we hope to raise even more.”

This year, I have learned how devastating pediatric cancer is for a family. My co-worker's nephew was diagnosed with a brain tumor and he has been going through chemo and traveling from Door County to Children's Hospital to get treatment. It has been sad and difficult to see my co-worker dealing with this in her family. 

I'll be baking two types of cookies or candy and volunteering at the event. Over the weekend, I tested out a shortbread recipe for a Linzer cookie, but I wasn't that pleased and need to go back to the drawing board and test out a traditional Linzer cookie recipe.

MKEFoodies cookies 003-shortbread cookies

I found some cute holiday themed bake sale bags at Michael's. Big Lots also had a nice selection and I may go back there for some smaller bags.

MKEFoodies cookies 001-bake sale bags at Michael's

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, December 8, 2012, 12-4 p.m.
MKEfoodies Holiday Bake Sale
Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery
901 W. Juneau Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Questions? E-mail:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Smyth at The Iron Horse Hotel, Milwaukee

I took a half day of work on Wednesday so I could have lunch with my two brothers and sister-in-law. We went to Smyth at The Iron Horse Hotel.

Exterior of The Iron Horse Hotel 
I was interested in taking my out of town relatives there because I figured they would like the interior of the hotel and the food at the restaurant. I went to The Iron Horse for the first time for a MKEfoodies event last month and the Food & Beverage Director, Scott Pampuch, spoke to our group.  

Smyth at The Iron Horse Hotel

Before eating, we walked around the ground floor of the hotel and I was happy to see "The Library" open. I wish more hotels had rooms like this one with comfy chairs and books to browse through.

The Library at The Iron Horse HotelIMG_2740

The bar area is chic and looks comfortable too.

bar area Iron Horsebar at Iron Horse

The lobby is also fun to walk around.

American flaginterior of The Iron Horse Hotel

We started with flash fried local cheese curds. They were tasty!

Cheese curds

Since I found it hard to find a meat-free dish on the menu, I just had French Onion soup. It has Carr Valley Swiss cheese on top. It definitely hit the spot!

My sister-in-law is vegetarian as well and she ordered a grilled cheese with an egg on top. The menu item had ham on it, but she asked for it to be removed.

French Onion Soup
Overall, I liked Smyth, but to form a great opinion of the food, I feel like I should try dishes outside of cheese curds and French Onion soup. I would like to have dinner there sometime.

I have two negative things to point out.

I like to check out menus online before eating out. It wasn't easy to find a lunch menu online for Smyth. There isn't one on their website (just dinner and brunch) and I eventually found one on their Facebook page.

As I said above, it was difficult for a vegetarian to find something to eat from their lunch menu. I know their dinner menu seems to offer more meat-free dishes.

Smyth at The Iron Horse Hotel 
500 West Florida Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204

Friday, November 23, 2012

Scenes from Thanksgiving

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving! 

I spent Thursday morning cooking my two dishes and then going to the grocery store because we ran out of olive oil. I couldn't believe how many people were there doing last minute shopping, but we got in and out pretty quickly.

I ended up not using any onions in the acorn squash recipe and I liked it much better this way. I also piled on some cranberry orange relish on top. In the end, this plate ended up being way too much food for my stomach and I didn't feel great all night.

My Thanksgiving meal

Here is our table as everyone was getting settled in.This shot is missing my dad, Craig and my brother and sister-in-law.

Thanksgiving chaos at the table

It was the second warmest Thanksgiving in Milwaukee history, so I played photographer and snapped some shots of my brother and his family.


Owen had fun being thrown in the air for a few pictures.

flying Owen

I had a slice of pumpkin pie for dessert and a bit of Craig's chocolate cheesecake. I definitely lean towards the more traditional Thanksgiving desserts because I only get to have pumpkin pie once a year.

pumpkin pie, yum

After dessert, we attempted to play some card games, but these two little boys make that difficult to do!

Nathan and Owen playing cards

For the rest of the night, we just sat around and talked. The men watched football. My brother and sister-in-law came in from California for the holiday, so it was nice to see them and catch up (they're on the left in the photo below).

Squeezed together on the couch

I am not much of a black Friday shopper, so I didn't venture out to any stores today. Craig actually went out to two last night and one of them was so nuts, that he left before he attempted to find the item he wanted. 

Did you go out shopping this morning? I am definitely more of a cyber Monday person, but I am not sure there are any great deals out there for that this year. I'd love a Clarasonic Mia if I could find one for  $80 or less, but I doubt that is going to happen.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving recipe test: Quinoa & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

I tested another Thanksgiving day recipe last night. This one comes from Emily from The Daily Garnish: Quinoa & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash.

While reading through the recipe, I was impressed by Emily's explanation and pictures. I am a visual learner so I appreciated her various images and detailed explanations. You can tell she went to culinary school. :)

quinoa & acorn-stuffed squash

Sorry for the not so great photo, which is a result of indoor lighting.

The end result was delicious and tasted fresh and nutritious. My only complaint was that the onion flavor ended up being quite strong.

I will definitely make this on Thanksgiving, but need to use less onions and put more balsamic vinegar on top. I didn't have any glaze, so I just used the regular BV. The recipe was pretty easy to make overall.

I hope my sister-in-law, the fellow vegetarian joining our holiday meal, will enjoy this recipe too.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Best Kind of Weekend

I had one of those weekends where we had nothing major on the calendar and that felt wonderful. I was able to accomplish a lot and now I am ready to start my shortened holiday week.

I opened up a bag of Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato chips yesterday and found them to be delicious.

Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato chips

Using Penzey's Natural High Fat Cocoa powder, I made some stovetop hot chocolate and it was so good!

hot cocoa on stove

Hot chocolate

I have been on the hunt for new jeans for over a month now and I finally found some, thanks to a tip from a co-worker. I got them at Talbots, which is a store I normally never go into. The best part was that they were only $33!

Talbots jeans

On Saturday night, we went to two 24 hour Wal-marts to seek out a WiiU, which was being released at midnight on Sunday morning. One Wal-mart already had a line and people had claimed the unit Craig wanted, so it was off to another store, where Craig ended up being first in line. He waited for two hours and I shopped for groceries. It is strange shopping that late at night, when workers are more concentrated on stocking the store and there are palettes in your way everywhere you turn.

Oh and that guy in the bright green shirt next to Craig is Danny Gokey's brother-in-law. We got to see an exclusive video of Danny.

Waiting in line for the WiiU
WiiU display
CBS Sunday Morning featured their food issue today. I was thrilled to see a story on Chobani's SoHo concept. Doesn't this combination sound delicious? They said it is one of their most popular combinations. So many stories in the issue were wonderful and I encourage you to check out their archived videos online.

Chobani in CBS Sunday Morning

I started reading Bob Harper's The Skinny Rules. I really like it so far. I wish the title didn't have skinny in it, but I understand that it's a marketing trick to attract people to it.

The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper

I finished my weekend by getting lowlights in my hair. The rest of the evening, I will be testing out an acorn squash recipe for Thanksgiving! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday night!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Six on Saturday

I wanted to do a Five on Friday or Five Things Friday post yesterday, but never got around to it. So, I'll post a Six on Saturday instead!

1. I received a package from Larabar and Food Should Taste Good earlier this week. It totally made my day because it was unexpected and contained products I love.



2. I found a Men's Fitness article about eating for your blood type on Pinterest and had to share it.

image source

I am type A+ and the information it gave on my type couldn't be more accurate. See, I knew there was a reason I ate a mostly vegetarian diet and avoided red meat.

"Your Diet: When hunter-gatherer Os started thinning out, our ancestors started relying on agriculture and expanding their diet to include a semi-vegetarian approach. Type As have the digestive enzymes and bacteria it takes to digest grains and plants that other blood types might have a rough time breaking down."

"What to Eat: Fill your plate with fruits like berries, figs, plums, apples, avocados, pears and peaches. Choose veggies like broccoli, artichokes, carrots, greens and garlic. Fish and poultry should be limited since type As produce fewer meat-digesting enzymes, which is why they have such a hard time digesting red meat. To get protein, rely on plant protein from nuts (like nut butters), seeds, beans and soy. Since your body can easily break down and get optimal nutrition from grains, carbs and proteins, cereal, breads and pastas should be staples of your diet."

3. I tried this Saffron Road meal for lunch yesterday and it was delicious. I won some free product coupons and bought a bunch of frozen meals at Whole Foods with them. Craig actually ate two this week and he loved his as well. He had a chicken tikka masala meal and said it was much better than his Mayura restaurant version.



4. I seemed to be a magnet for helping others this week and I enjoyed being able to do that.

I took the picture below for my co-worker, whose son is allergic to peanuts, but he loves sunflower seeds. I recommended the Trader Joe's sunflower seed butter to her. She was worried about the ingredients, but they passed the test.


I had another co-worker consult privately with me about the fact that she might be diabetic (and doesn't have health insurance to confirm or deny the suspicion). I felt honored that she came to me for help since she knows I read a lot about health conditions and nutrition. I played nutritionist for a half hour and recommended some switches in her diet. I also sent her a blog to check out because the author is a Registered Dietitian with a specialty in diabetes (it's Prevention RD).

5. Henri

Thanks to Karis, I found the Henri videos and seem to watch at least one a week, even if I am just re-watching one I have seen already. My favorite is this Halloween video.

Perfect Christmas present for a crazy cat lady like me? Henri's calendar. He also has a book coming out next Spring!

6. I subscribed to Nutriton Action magazine. A co-worker subscribes and used to borrow me copies occasionally, but I finally decided to get my own subscription.

Nutrition Action magazines

They also feature some of their articles online if you want to check them out.

This isn't really a seventh thing, but I successfully moved a year and a half of my blog posts over to the new site and it's almost ready! I have enjoyed creating a new blog and love Blogger so far!

Have a wonderful Saturday! I am off to the mall to get some much needed shopping in.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mayura Indian Restaurant

We love Indian food and have tried most Indian restaurants in the Milwaukee area. On Friday night, Craig and I tried one we hadn't been to before, Mayura Indian Restaurant.

The interior was nice, but pretty basic.



I had my usual order of Paneer Tikka Masala. It wasn't on the menu, but I asked what vegetarian menu item was closest to it and he said they could just make it. I requested it be mildly spicy, but it definitely was more in the medium range, which didn't please me.


Craig had Chicken Tikka Masala and thought it was just ok. The chunks of chicken were somewhat dry and too big.

We cooled our mouths off with a Mango Lassi. I think this was one of the best Mango Lassis we have had at a local Indian restaurant.


I'm not sure we'll be going back to Mayura. I prefer another Indian restaurant closer to our house and we'll likely stick to going there from now on.

Mayura Indian Restaurant
1958 N Farwell Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414) 271-8200

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Holiday Kale Salad

Over the weekend, I started the process of testing out one of the recipes I will be making for Thanksgiving.

On Sunday, I tackled trying out the Holiday Kale salad I found in the November 2012 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I cut the recipe in half and it still made a large salad.


Roasting the cranberries and garlic was fairly easy. I think I cooked the cranberries a bit too long though or did not coat them in enough olive oil, because they did stick to the aluminum foil.


The salad took me about 30-45 minutes to make, which is more intensive than any other salad recipe I have ever made.


In the end, I found the Holiday Kale Salad to be delicious and healthy tasting. I have to admit that I did grow a little tired of the flavors and "chewy" aspect of the recipe. I can still see this being a pretty good side salad to include with our Thanksgiving meal, so I will likely go forward with making it.


Holiday Kale Salad (Better Homes & Gardens, November, 2012)

2 cups fresh cranberries
4 - 5 cloves garlic unpeeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups cooked wild rice cooled
1 small bulb fennel cored and shaved or cut into very thin wedges
1 cup chopped walnuts toasted
1/2 cup thinly sliced red sweet pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion