Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kale and Mushroom Lasagna

Kale, there are days that I love you and days that I just can't get you out of my fridge :)

We belong to a great little CSA where we enjoy getting our locally grown organic fruits and veggies. It has been a great supplement of produce while I pretend learn to grow a garden. One day I hope to have enough growth to supply our family, but that day isn't coming any time soon. With this in mind, we gladly use our dollars to support our local farmers at the market and via our "Happy Box" CSA.

Some weeks we get loads of leafy greens. This has inspired the following recipe:

Kale and Mushroom Lasagna

1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup kale or other leafy green (spinach is great as well)
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
1 pepper
3 small to medium tomatoes
1 quart jar of tomato sauce
Lasagna noodles
1 tsp oregano
2 or 3 chopped fresh leaves of basil (or 1 to 2 crumbled dry leaves)
about 8 oz of cottage cheese
parmesan or mozzarella cheese
olive oil

Grease 9 by 13 oven safe pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Clean and chop the mushrooms, garlic, onions, and peppers. Cook them in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Clean and chop kale and add the stemmed sections into the pan of now soft veggies. Cook for two minutes, add remaining kale. Stir and let wilt slightly. Remove from heat. Clean and chop tomatoes. Add tomatoes and a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce to cooked vegetables. Stir.  Add oregano, basil and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Assemble lasagna as desired. I typically start by pouring a bit of tomato sauce to cover the bottom of pan. Then add a layer of noodles, spread cottage cheese on noodles, add tomato sauce, a new layer of noodles and then the layer of mushrooms/kale mixture. Continue layers until pan is full. Pour tomato sauce on top and shred cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and noodles are soft.

*I like to make this dish ahead and let it sit in the fridge over night prior to the final baking. I think it allows the flavors to combine well and makes for an easy but tasty dinner the next night.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feeling Thankful and Missing Fall

Thanksgiving is upon us. In my mind, the fall season ends for me on this holiday. I believe this to be true because when I was a child snow would often fall on Thanksgiving. It makes for a magical family dinner to see a few white flakes float down to barely cover the remaining brown leaves in the backyard.

The past few days have been wonderful and sunny outside. We've enjoyed a lot of time out hiking and taking in those last bits of fall. What a great way to send off this wonderful season!

Thankful for a beautiful season and for having so many loved ones to celebrate life's bounty with. 

Hope your Thanksgiving is happy too!

I'm linking up with Rebecca and Kristi for the final fall photo challenge post. Thank you ladies for your creative and inspiring ideas that kept so many talented people snapping! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Shoreline Brewery in Michigan City, Indiana

Our final brewery to visit on our end of the summer brewcation was Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant in Michigan City, Indiana.

First impression: Well... we came pretty early in the day, so there were not many people there. The general area around the brewery and restaurant was pretty deserted. It felt a bit like a ghost town to tell you the truth. But when we walked inside it looked like a typical sports pub and there were fellas around drinking beers and watching a football game. Very relaxing sort of feel.

Service: Great! We sat at a table and had a nice waitress. She even opened the brew gear room for us to look around.

Food: They did have a full menu (I saw ribs for listed for lunch and pasta for dinner). We did not eat at this location. It was poor timing and a bit of a random stop. This is what happens when you pass a sign for a brewery after a late brunch with an early dinner planned and ingredients are already in the cooler (camping + dinner = cooking when the sun is still out)

Prices & Other Notes: We were pretty excited to learn how affordable the growlers were... then we found out that they do Monday $8 growler refills. (And $8 pitchers on Sunday) They also have music often on Saturday nights and Open Mic on Tuesdays. It seems any day of the week is a good time to go!

As for the beer: Our group had pints of Stella Blue, Benny's APA and Beltain's Scotch. Benny's and Beltains are World Beer Cup Medal winners and we thought they were deserving of such awards. The boys liked the brews so well that they ended up stopping back later in the day to pick up a growler for the campsite. They chose the Sesh Wheat Ale and it was tasty too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Family Ties: Growing Up is Difficult To Do

Little Man A is working on some teeth.

Those teeth will come through someday.

I'm linking up today's post with Live and Love Out Loud and Angry Julie Monday. Check out other Wordless Wednesday Posts here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sew Lovely: Baby Bibs

Somehow it has happened. Everyone I know is having a baby or just brought home a new little person. It is exciting, it is joyous, and it is a bit scary. I can't believe we are in the baby shower phase of life. The past three years we would go to six or seven weddings each year. Now those families are growing. Good thing my friends are fun and always throw great parties.

In order to make something special for some of my favorite expecting mamas, I've been sewing with my good friend Kaytie. She is making and nesting for her little one (eek! love that growing baby bump!) while I prepare gifts for all those little faces. I love our sewing sessions, we talk and talk... like good friends do. 

We decided this project would be fun and useful for the new babies who are a'coming. There are so many tutorials to use, in fact Kaytie wrote about a few patterns that she had searched out in this blog entry. Baby bibs are so rewarding! Quick, simple, so sweet. We chose tons of great fabrics and away we went! 

I recently made one set of bibs for my dear friend from college. Adult life has gotten in the way of seeing her often, but I am so happy for her growing family. I think it is just wonderful that a little beautiful baby will wear something made just for her. And I know those mamas love keeping babies clean while still looking sweet. And I've already made a few more... they are slightly addictive!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, MI

During our Michigan Brewcation we stayed in Grand Rapids for a long afternoon. The city was great fun and while we were there we stopped at two breweries. First HopCat (click here for HopCat's website) and then we walked over to Founder's Brewing Company for drinks and dinner. 

First impression: Love. Dreamy hardwood floors, open balcony, loads of good natured folk. 

Service: Great! We had two lovely waitresses checking on us for drinks very often (and filling water glasses for our designated driver). When ordering food there are specific windows to place and pick up your order and the fellas back there were very pleasant as well! 

Food: We ordered their "Tree Hugger" sandwich and it was tasty! The food was good quality but we did order an extra side item (pasta salad - tasted great) that we didn't think was really worth the cost. I believe while eating it my husband and I agreed that we should have just split a new brew for the calories and cash we "spent". So if you are there for the food, eat up an extra side item because they have several to try. But if you are not the designated driver the sandwich and fries were plenty (we split it). Then grab a second (or third) brew. 

Other Notes: Founders Brewing Company has been ranked in the top five breweries in the world for years on Since 2011 they have held the second place position on Best Brewery in the World.

As for the beer: Never found a beer that we didn't like from Founders. It was great to have pints straight from their taps. On this evening I liked their Honey Wheat but the boys at our table enjoyed drinking All Day IPA, Centennial IPA, Red's Rye and the Fest Wheat. All good, all recommended. 

I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Founders Brewing Company. The place was beautiful and there were all types of people there (locals and not-so locals, crowds of mixed ages and groups of friends). Please check out their website to see if you'd like to stop by the next time you are in Grand Rapids, MI.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Homestead: Adding Details

We've embraced some recent momentum by taking charge of several little details in our home.

You know the ones - picture frames and mirrors to be hung, new light fixture cover plates for bedroom light switches.

My husband and I are big dreamers. We have lots of grand scheme ideas but sometimes it just takes us F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to complete the final task of an almost completed project.

Today I celebrate the time we've spent to "just HANG something", or lovingly add that little touch. It is amazing to note how updated a room can feel with the "Golden Girls" copper ceiling light removed and something a little more modern in its place.

updating the lights: before


hanging our chalkboard: happy thoughts from October

details in the kitchen

We are gradually making our home a bit more homey for us and we couldn't be happier about it.

Organized bookcase with mementos of ours, including
our wedding guest book guitar

Monday, November 5, 2012

HopCat in Grand Rapids, MI

We knew when going to SW Michigan we would need to stop by HopCat's pub in Grand Rapids. 

First impression: I've got a special place in my heart for bricks, gorgeous windows and let's be honest, cats. The music was good, and there were interesting displays, signs, and posters on the walls. We had walked into a place that we could stay awhile. 

Service: Great. Our waiter helped us choose some great beer. He also mentioned a few other breweries in the area that we should try and some of his personal favorite bars. We hope to go back to Grand Rapids and spend more time... maybe check out a few more of his recommendations. 

Food: In effort to try some of the favorite and recommended foods we ate lots of fried bar appetizers on this brewcation. And at Hopcat we dove into some serious fries. That's right, I'm talking "Crack Fries" my friends. So tasty, just order it and split it like we did. That way you don't have to feel guilty when later in the day you wish you had more. 

Prices & Other Notes: HopCat is rated "#3 Beer Bar on Planet Earth" by Beer Advocate Magazine... I don't think any other notes can compare to that...

As for the beer: We tried the Hoppopotamus IPA (just over 6%). It was light enough for us with the full bellies. :) HopCat had a very long beer list including lots of brews from other local brewers... which is great if you want to try a few others but not travel to their specific locations.

After our stop at HopCat we walked a few blocks to hit up Founders Brewing Company... we truly enjoyed Grand Rapids!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Goals: 41 miles in October

During the month of October I participated in the haus of girls 41 miles challenge. I chose to walk, hike, or run 41 miles during the month of October. 

During a few seriously beautiful weeks of fall I wanted to walk and run every morning or afternoon!

I finished the month with 46 miles in all!

Word on the {instagram} street is that the new goal is 50 miles for the month of November.

So, I guess I'm in... because I'm no turkey :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mighty Tasty Muffins

Fall seems to have jump started my creative cooking ideas! We've been enjoying a few new items on the menu this week. One is this tasty little bit. 

Mighty Tasty Muffins
Makes about 15 muffins

olive oil or paper muffin cup liners(or preferred cooking spray)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 mashed ripe bananas
2 tablespoons half and half
2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg
1 cup chopped dried apricots
3/4 cup roasted pepitas
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tin with paper muffin cup liners or oil spray/rub. Combine flours, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in one large bowl. Whisk together. Make a well in the center of your dry mixture. Combine half and half, milk and egg in a second bowl. Add wet mixture to dry mixture. Stir until all is moist. (Add a splash more milk if it is too dry) Add chopped apricots, pepitas, and cranberries. Stir it up! Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 19 minutes or until the centers are done and the muffin tops spring back up when gently pressed down in the center. Cool on a wire rack.

This recipe is now linked up to Sew Chatty's Made with Love Monday!Click here to check out all the awesome crafty-ness from this week!