Yum Hey What's for Dinner Mom?


America the Beautiful, a Prairie Home Companion Dream Come True!

We went to the Alaska State Fair today to watch what may well be the last show, of the last tour of Garrison Keillor the beloved host of A Prairie Home Companion. What a thrill to be in an audience full of fans, there so much love for this show in the air, you could feel it in the applause and laughter.

Our boys were asking when does it start? When does it start? and then suddenly 3 minutes BEFORE the scheduled time to start out strolled Garrison Keillor right into the crowd. Up in to the lawn seating where he meandered shaking hands, patting backs and telling a story about training in Kotzebue for the Navy WALRUS program. And on it went for almost 3 hours.

The show had it all, the sound effects story where Garrison tries to outwit Fred Newman, Guy Noir Private Eye chasing down the jerk who shot the lion, lots of live music and singing,  The Lives of the Cowboys, and of course the News from Lake Wobegon.

There was a brief intermission where everyone was invited to stand and stretch. Instead of taking a break himself Garrison wandered back into the lawn seating area about 15 feet from our chairs and started singing, inviting everyone to sing with him. He went through America the Beautiful, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Home on the Range and My Country Tis of Thee. I've always loved the parts of his shows where everyone is invited to sing and I've longed to be part of that. Wish fulfilled and dream come true!


lives of the cowboys...

the news...


25 Minute Dinner Sweet and Spicy Beef

You know sometimes it take a few mentions for me to understand when I really need to try a recipe, anyone else? Well, go ahead and count this a as a COUPLE of mentions because you're not going to want to wait on this quick and easy beef recipe, it's fantastic. I kept seeing this go by on my Facebook feed, a simple recipe from Brandy at Bran Appetit and I never took it seriously. Seriously, as in "I need to make this now" seriously. And then I had thawed ground beef staring me down and suddenly I knew exactly what to make for dinner (and a few lunches!) with that ground beef.

My version of Sweet and Spicy Beef has a couple cups of chopped veggies tossed in and I skip the lime wedges. I firmly believe that if  I actually have limes (and/or lemons) I'd much rather make margaritas, maybe that leads to being slow on the uptake, I don't know. The recipe is amazing either way and it's ready so quick you better start the rice, clean up the kitchen AND THEN start this recipe, because-BOOM-dinner is ready!

*serve with hot rice-basmati is our favorite but ANY rice will be great

Sweet and Spicy Beef

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
4-5 cloves garlic, minced--use more or less to YOUR taste
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated or minced
3 cups mixed chopped vegetables, cut vegetables that take longer to cook in smaller pieces
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP sriracha-more or less to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
lime wedges, optional

heat a dutch oven over medium high heat
brown the beef quickly, drain any excess fat once browned
add the garlic and ginger, cook and stir for 2 minutes
reduce the heat to medium and add the vegetables and cook and stir 2-3 minutes
meanwhile mix the rest of the ingredients through sesame oil together and pour over the beef and vegetables
cook and stir for a minute or two to blend the flavors, taste for salt and pepper add as needed, don't over cook the vegetables though
if using the lime wedges, squeeze them over the beef before serving or serve with the beef
serve over hot rice


Map Room Painting for a Little Geography Boy

Our youngest is incredibly tolerant of his tired been-doing-this-parent-thing for 22 + years parents, two years ago we brainstormed a paint job for his room. And did nothing.

One year ago I bought blue paint to begin painting his room. And did nothing.

This spring I painted on a big wide swath of blue paint, went ugh. And did nothing.

We decided to apply for parents of the year. And you guessed, did nothing.

FINALLY two years after we made the plan to paint his room it's done. And we have fully redeemed ourselves in the eyes of our youngest.

Meanwhile the middle boy might possibly be ready for a new paint job on his room, we'll get right on that. No, really, I mean it.


Here's a few 'in process' pictures
ugggggly-here we've removed the heaters to get everything painted right to the floor, yes we do paint right over the wallpaper, wouldn't you? Don't you love that gorgeous neon blue swath of light? Me either!

Sketched in, my husband did all the drawing free hand, I only traced and painted.

Total elapsed time start to finish, 25.5 hours 8 of which were spent sleeping and several were spent drying paint.

We painted the entire room in Valspar satin, the color is Parchment.


Light Baked Stuffed Squash Blossoms

When I discovered my garden was overflowing with male squash blossoms AND that I could eat them I set about looking for a recipe to use. I searched online, of course, and many not all but many recipes called for deep frying or pan frying the stuffed and breaded squash blossoms. I'm just not that into frying foods, especially if it's already a healthy food then I have a hard time frying it up, and squash blossoms are relatively low calorie, roughly 5 calories a cup. Plus I thought filling it with cheese and then frying it was a double whammy. Now I'm never one to shy away from a good piece of fried chicken or enjoy french fries but such lovely food straight out of the garden just begs for a lighter touch.

Most of the recipes I found followed the same ricotta, egg, herbs, filling so I planned to use roughly that same idea. Another way to think of the cheese filling is to envision the cheese layer in a good lasagna, if you have a recipe you love for that scale it down and use it. If not follow the super easy, tasty ricotta filling I used, it's just about perfect.

A few notes about this recipe--the amounts of filling and panko depend on the size of your squash blossoms and how much you squeeze in each blossom--so if you have HUGE blossoms you'll probably make fewer and fill them a little more and likewise smaller blossoms will take less filling so you might need a few extra to use the filling up. I used average sized blossoms in the recipe but of course all plants will have all sizes of blossoms.

Light Baked Stuffed Squash Blossoms
oven 400˚

16 or so squash blossoms with 1-3 inch stems if possible--the male flower of a zucchini or pumpkin plant, go for just normal sizes if you have a choice
1 cup ricotta
1 egg
1 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced--use as much as you like, cloves vary in size so choose one that suits your taste preference
1 egg
good pinch of salt
3/4-1 cup panko bread crumbs

heat the oven to 400˚
grease a baking sheet big enough to hold the blossoms with out crowding them
look over your squash blossoms and make sure they are free of dirt and bugs, use a clean paint brush to flick any dirt way-if they have bugs in them a quick soak in lightly salted water will drive the bugs out BUT this will also make the blossoms a little more tender and prone to tearing, you can also remove the insides of the flower, the stamen, if you want to but it's not necessary because it cooks through and it's soft when cooked
put the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, basil and garlic in a small bowl and mix well
fill the cleaned squash blossoms with the ricotta mixture by using a spoon or a piping bag, dividing the filling evenly between the blossoms
once they're all filled give each one a twist by holding the stem and the top of the blossom and turning it, this will seal the blossom so it can be dipped and rolled without having the filling flop out
to "bread" them beat the egg with the salt in a small bowl, place about half the panko in another bowl, both should be big enough to hold a blossom

dip each blossom carefully in the egg, let the excess drip back in for a moment and the roll lightly in the panko and then back to the baking sheet it goes
repeat with the rest of the blossoms adding more panko to the bowl as needed
bake in the preheated oven on a middle rack for roughly 15 minutes, watch them towards the end because you don't want them to brown too much or singe a little and bread crumbs are notorious (in my house) for burning


Blendtec Designer 625 GIVEAWAY


 A great group of bloggers have joined together to bring you this Blend Away the Summer with Blendtec Giveaway! This is a Blogger Sponsored Event which means the bloggers who have joined in this giveaway have donated money to help pay for this Blendtec Designer 625 Blender! You will see the entries of the bloggers on the Rafflecopter who are participating. One lucky reader will win a Blendtec Designer 625 Blender! And the winner will have the choice of 7 colors to choose from!

History of the Blendtec Blender:

Inventor, Tom Dickson, envisioned the perfect mixer using freshly milled flour from his mill to make wholesome bread in minutes. "When back in the lab, Tom developed an autoknead feature, enabling the mixer to knead the dough, develop the gluten and turn off automatically when finished. Tom continued to improve the mixer and decided to add a blender with a square jar, rather than the conventional round jar. As Tom expanded his mill and mixer business, new ideas developed. He enhanced the blender and began developing commercial blending machines just as the smoothie era began." You have probably seen the Blendtec videos and heard Blendtec say "We've blended everything from rake handles to golf balls and glow sticks in our test lab - so you can experience years of trouble-free blending." And it is TRUE!

About the Blendtec Designer 625


Features include: 3.0 peak horsepower motor Illuminated, capacitive touch interface Preprogrammed cycles: Smoothie, Ice Cream, Whole Juice, Hot Soup 6-speed capacitive touch slider + Pulse Illuminated display indicates remaining blend time Illuminated Touch Controls An intuitive touch screen with easy to see icons makes the Designer 625 more versatile and simple to use. It lights up with a single touch, shuts off automatically, and is completely flat so cleaning is as simple as a quick wipe. Six-Speed Touch Slider + Pulse Simply slide your finger left or right to control the motor speed for customized blending. Use Pulse for an added burst of power at any speed. Preprogrammed Blend Cycles No more guesswork! Four preprogrammed custom cycles enable one-touch blending perfection: Smoothie, Ice Cream, Whole Juice, and Hot Soup.

About the Blendtec Designer 625 Giveaway:

  • This giveaway closes August 31, 2015 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time
  • Open to US only
  • Must be 18+ to enter
  • My Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Life is responsible for prize shipment
  • Enter on the Rafflecopter Below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: NO compensation was received for the published material in this post. No purchase required to enter this giveaway and there is a limit of one entrant per household. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning are determined by the number of valid entries received. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and will be emailed via the email address used to enter the contest. New winner(s) will be chosen if original winner(s) has not responded within 48 hours of email notification. Participating bloggers are not responsible for shipment of prize(s). This giveaway is not administered, sponsored, endorsed by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or other social media outlet. Disclaimer is posted in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Maple Bacon Glazed Mini Sweet Potatoes

Do you need a new easy recipe for your sweet potato repertoire? Then you're looking for this super simple recipe for Maple Bacon Glazed Mini Sweet Potatoes. These little sweet potatoes cook up in about 20 minutes, then you glaze them and pop them back in the oven for 5 minutes and, voila, Maple Bacon Glazed Mini Sweet Potatoes, sweet potatoes, elevated.

I was recently sent a new product to sample and you're so lucky because they're coming soon to a produce department near you! Tasteful Selections Sweet Surprise Sweet Potatoes or, as I like to call them, Mini Sweet Potatoes, come pre washed and ready to use. Their small size means they cook up fast and they're ready to serve in under 25 minutes, which is great when you're working hard to get dinner on the table before someone has a hangry meltdown. I'm not the only one who has kids barely hanging on until dinnertime am I? Give a mom some hope folks!

You could use these small little sweets in so many ways baked and glazed, or baked, split and stuffed. Oh dropped in around a pot roast would be amazing! Or slipped into the crock pot during the last hour of a meatloaf or roasted chicken dinner. How about split and pan fried with ham and peppers. So many great uses out there for these little babies.

Are these not adorable?

Maple Bacon Glazed Mini Sweet Potatoes
oven 400˚
25-30 minutes

24 ounce bag of Tasteful Selections Sweet Surprise Sweet Potatoes
1 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP maple syrup
1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon, 100% real bacon bits work just fine here

preheat the oven to 400˚
toss the sweet potatoes with the oil, then liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper
pour into a 12x7 roasting pan
bake for 20 minutes
when there's 5 minutes left in their baking time whisk the vinegar and maple syrup together in a small sauce pan
bring to boil whisking occasionally, reduce heat and keep warm, you're not trying to reduce the mixture too much but you do want it to thicken up a bit
once the potatoes have baked for 20 minutes give them a poke to make sure they're almost done cooking, they should be just soft, remember once you glaze them they'll cook another 5 minutes
if they do need a little more time turn off the vinegar and maple syrup, it will be fine until the potatoes are done, cook potatoes another 5 minutes, if needed
when potatoes are just about cooked through, 20-25 minutes toss them gently in their roasting pan with the vinegar maple syrup glaze
then sprinkle with the crumbled bacon
return to the oven and bake another 5 minutes
toss to coat one more time before serving
serve being sure to scoop up and serve any glaze and bacon in the bottom of the pan

I was sent a bag of Tasteful Selections Sweet Surprise Sweet Potatoes to try out, the opinions and recipe are my own.


2015 Alaska State Fair Exhibit Entry Dates

I love to enter things I've made or grown in the fair exhibits, especially jams, jellies, cookies, candies and flowers. I've been a pretty constant exhibitor since I was just a kid, entering things I'd spent the summer taking care of, like flowers and snap peas to name the ones I specifically remember. It was only later as an adult that I discovered I could enter baked goods and the like, then I was off like a shot. For a while there when I only had one boy AND they still printed the exhibitor booklet I was pretty up consistent about entries and even marked my calendar to make sure I hit the entry deadlines.

At some point the fair quit printing those handy exhibitor guide books in favor of electronic exhibitor guides, then I had 2 more kids and suddenly exhibit entries just fell of for me, I couldn't get it together enough to match dates and times, to childcare and finished projects and computer time. Ok, fine I was a mess there when I had a 13 year old type 1 diabetic, a 2 year old and a newborn baby but I recovered, eventually.

And when I surfaced I had a really hard time getting into exhibits at the fair, I used to read the little flyer they put out and tick off what I had that looked good or a baked good I'd perfected and wanted to enter. But the website leaves me empty, I just can't get inspired by it. And I keep missing entry deadlines, the last few years I haven't even bothered to enter, which is just sad.

So this year I decided to DO something about it. First I started by book marking the exhibits pages I wanted to enter so I could go back and look them over a couple times. Second I wrote a little list of the entry deadlines, which has helped with getting ready because believe it or not a WHOLE SLEW of things are due NEXT WEEKEND.

After I wrote out that little list I was wondering if anyone else was like me and kept missing entry dates, so I made this little graphic up to share those dates with anyone who wants it. So share away!

I hope it helps INSPIRE old exhibitors and new exhibitors alike! Make sure you visit the state fair site for ALL the special contest deadlines like the giant cabbage and pumpkin weigh off dates. And if you're an Anchorage exhibitor be sure to look for the dates to enter in Anchorage, they're different!