Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tennessee Sounds Good to Me!

Friday morning, I will be off to Tennessee with my mother. My grandfather's house still has not sold. Ugh! So, I'm giving my mother some company and well deserved help to check on the house and give it a good cleaning. As suggested by many friends and because I am a bit supersticious, we also plan on burrying a Saint Joseph in the front lawn with Joseph facing the house near the for sale sign.

My mother is a faithful disciple of the "low-carb" diet. I have cut gluten out of my diet for health reasons. Since there isn't a whole lot of variety as far as restaurants go, I have planned a little menu to make life a little easier. The way I see it is it's like we're staying at a cottage. We have most of the ammenities we need to run a kitchen. We have a grill. Everything else I am packing away to execute my menu.
The contents of the box includes a cutting board, a small but mighty knife set, a spatula, scilcone spoon, plastic bags, dishwasher soap tabs, mixing bowls, plastic containers, my handy-dandy juicer box complete with innerchangeable graters, paper towels, toilette paper, napkins, silverware, and paper plates and bowls.

On the menu for dinners: Night one we will dine on chili rubbed chicken tacos with lime-cilantro slaw, night two will be steak with a grilled vegetable salad, and night three we will have a lovely rainbow salad. As far as breakfasts I figure I know my mom eats a protein power meal including eggs. I usually am happy with about anything and fruit. For lunches, I know we will be happy with leftovers.
I've made the salad dressings and chili rub ahead of time. I also plan on packing a cooler for the produce and other groceries we will need. I know you might be thinking, "Who in the h-e-double hockey sticks has time to do all that?" Normally, I wouldn't; however, it is summer vacation for me a.k.a. the glory of being a teacher with a summer off:)

In case you like to make your own salad dressings, I've included the ingredients below. Both are vinegrettes that pair well with about any salad. I am not including brand names, but as a newly gluten-free girl, I did check the ingredients and none listed MSG, wheat, or any other crazy name for gluten. The lighter colored salad dressing is for the grilled veggie salad. It's contents includes 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of one lemon, 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon chili paste, 1 clove pressed garlic, salt, and pepper.

The darker colored dressing is a sweeter dressing for the rainbow salad. It includes 1/4 cup olive oil, 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot, salt, and pepper.

The spice rub for the chicken tacos is made from 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, salt, and pepper.

We will have internet until Monday. Since I will have plenty of time on my hands, you can look forward to more recipes and the shinanagens that will unfold!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Over the Weekend

This weekend has been packed with fun! Friday night we kicked off our weekend together with a trip to the Plaza where we dined at Blanc Burgers. Good news is, they have gluten free buns and most of the burgers are gluten free with the gluten free buns. Bad news, the fries are off limits because they bread their fries. Good bye truffle fries! How I will miss you! The burgers are large enough though, so I sufficed. While the GF bun wasn't bad, Blanc could do a little work on attempts to make a bun one can actually pick up like a regular burger. I had to eat mine with a fork, but it was still delicious.

Saturday morning, we headed to the Overland Park Farmer's Market. To our surprise, it expanded from two weekends ago and now includes various arts and crafts for sale.

Including this sweet Tiki tent. We picked up some nice green beans. Saddly, nobody had any spinach left. There were plenty of other produce items to choose from, but nothing we really needed. It is always an enjoyable people watching experience.

Later that afternoon, Justin worked on sawing the tree limb that fell in our yard the night before. Seems like the weather is getting more severe. We still have some work to do picking up sticks and leaves in the yard, but at least Justin cleaned up the limb. While he was busy sawing away, I went and did this:

Freshened up highlights and a new hair cut! The length was getting a little too hot. After watching Fashion Police Friday night, I decided I loved Chelsea Kane's hair and had to go for the chop.

Later in the evening we enjoyed a new recipe courtesy of Angela Liddon at I made her Chilled Double Chocolate Torte. You can get the recipe here: Here is a not so great photo of mine.

The only modifications I made to her recipe were using gluten free flour and adding 1 tsp. espresso powder to both the cake layer and topping. I was a little worried about using the gluten free flour. I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour. I've used it once before with a bread recipe and you could totaly taste the garbanzo bean flour; however, there is no nasty bean flavor with the torte! Trust me, you have to try it! It is totally delish!

In other news, Happy Father's Day to my loving dad, super father-in-law Doug, and my stepfather Mike. Hope you all have a great day! We wish we were back in Iowa to spend some time with you. Maybe we'll venture north soon. Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Bit of a Facelift

This is my jogging trail. It is a lovely trail and I am so thankful we have close access to nearby parks and paths. No matter what the season, Justin and I love to take liesurly stroles on the weekends. I also enjoy the trails in the summer time as a workout bonus to get outside and back in shape. Within the last year, however, parts of the trail have started to look like this...

...and this...
Needless to say, it's been a little rough on my joints. Not to mention the cautionary measures one must take to be sure as to what side of the trail they are running on so as to not fall down a muddy bluff.

Last week, I noticed parts of the trail were closed. Much to my pleasure, the trails have re-opened, expanded, and have a lovely new overlay. So now, the trail looks like this.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Iowegian is defined by my husband's co-worker, Eric, as those from Iowa decent who will travel far distances to experience Iowa festivals, fairs, and expositions. While the World Pork Expo includes pork producers and agricultural sales representatives from all of the world, it is truly an Iowa thing simply because Iowa is the pork headquarters and leading pork producing state in the country. And, they do the expo up right.
Being that my family is not in the farming business, I had never truly experienced the Pork Expo. I can also actually count on my fingers the number of times I have been to the Iowa State Fairgrounds, home to any fried food you can find on a stick during the month of August. It didn't ever bother me, we were just busy doing RAGBRAI, or other Iowa summer events. My farm industry friends, on the other hand, were always a little surprised my family didn't make the annual homage to the fairgrounds to see the nation's largest bull, pig, tomato, nor the annual butter cow sculpture. Last week, however, when my sister said her husband's friend could get us passes to the expo, I was all in!

If you can read the fine print on the stand below it says, "We're makin' your bacon." And making the best bacon is what they do at the World Pork Expo. We began our day with several samples of sausage on a stick. The wonderful thing about it is, due to the crummy weather, we didn't have to wait in line. The other beautiful thing about Iowa is that we didn't even ask. The producers want you to sample their product and shouted to us to come over and sample.

Inside the industrial building, we toured and heard more than an earful on different farming products and ways to enhance your pork producing numbers. Hint, hint, getting what you need from the male and introducing the goodies to the female to make many healthy pig babies. We got numerous pens, pads of paper, hats, t-shirts, bags, etc. all advertising various farming products.
And no Iowa expo or festival involving agriculture would be complete without crowning someone royalty! Here is some young girl who is this year's pork queen. What an honor! I'm sure she is ringing in some sweet scholarships along with that sparkly crown.
After touring the industrial building, we took a well needed break to watch the pig races. This is the best action shot I got. I wasn't sure if the pigs would actually "race" as I've never seen a pig move very quickly. To the contrary, these pigs were fast! It was all very cheesy; however, yet another thing I was told you had to visit while at the pork expo.

Next, the best part, food! Sausages, ribs, pork loin, anything humans enjoy from pigs was freely sampled. And again, the producers WANT you to sample their food. They also encouraged you to eat, drink, and be merry. "Hang around a little bit," they would say. "We've got more coming off the grill."

Tent after tent, party after party these guys know how to do it right. I saved the best tent for last...a Hawaiian Luao! Complete with mai tais! The day was a blast!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

T Minus 24 Hours

I am so super excited because in less than 24 hours I will be sampling some of the finest bacons and sausages at a breakfast meats tasting. Next on the noontime agenda, more pork, ham, and anything else pig plus margaritas. "Is this heaven?" you may be asking yourself if you are not vegetarian. I must simply reply with the cliche, "No, it's Iowa."

My sister has finally invited me to join she and her hubby's family to attend the Iowa Pork Expo. A time when Iowa, the swine capitol of the country, enjoys visitors from all over the world to celebrate none other than the pig. Oink! More to come...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Experimental Fun

Now that summer vacation is in full swing, this teacher is enjoying one of her favorite hobbies...recipe experimenting. Since my summer resolution is to be kind to myself, this includes being kind to my body and giving it what it needs. I always try to eat a plentiful bounty of fruits and veggies, but every now and then, this gets a little boring. This is especially true when trying to consume more raw veggies. I do not suggest ever eating a salad or veggie sticks without a good dressing or dip. One of my favorite standbys for dipping in the raw is hummus. This weekend, I had planned on making my typical garlic and lemon version; however, neglected to buy any lemons. With the chickpeas already in my opened and in the food processor, I almost had a kitchen freak out moment; however, remained calm. I had limes. I had garlic. I had an opened can of chipotle peppers, thus my chipotle hummus was born!

Chipotle Hummus
2 cans chickpeas/ garbanzo beans
4 Tbsp. tahini paste
2 chipotle peppers, plus 1 Tbsp. sauce
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
Zest of one lime
Juice of one lime
1/4 C. water, more if you like a thinner consistency

1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Yes, it is that easy my friends! Justin does not usually like my regular hummus, but loves this version. This spicy chipotle peppers also have helped clear my stuffy nose from this dang summer cold. I highly suggest serving this with veggies and tortilla chips. It's a nice change up from my regular hum, hah hummus!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer BBQ Tour Part I

If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you probably have noticed a summer theme- BBQ. BBQ has got to be one of the best reasons to live in Kansas City. After drooling over some local joints Justin and I viewed on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives last weekend, we decided this summer to take a personal culinary tour of our city. The first stop, Johnny's BBQ.
Conveniently located off Johnson Drive in Mission, Kansas, Johnny's has some unique flavors which make it stand out from some of the other places in which we've dined. With perfect smoke rings on each rib, hints of cinnamon throughout the sweet succulent sauce, and it's own unique BBQ bottle decor, it is no wonder Guy Fieri had to stop on his visit to Kansas City.

We ordered the Friday night special- 1/2 smoked chicken, 1/2 slab of ribs, fries, pickles, and a choice of a side of slaw, beans, or potato salad. Since moving to Kansas City, Justin and I have fallen in love with the cabbagey cole slaw concoction and the combination of BBQ. So we got some slaw. Unfortunately, once the plates hit the table, we became so consumed with our meal we forgot to take pictures! In good humour, you can enjoy the leftovers or settle for just licking the plates:)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

First Day of Summer

Summer vacation has officially arrived! As I start every summer vacation, I always set some goals. I don't expect to totally make-over my life. But, with the extra time, it is nice to make plans for myself instead of planning my days according to school life. This summer's goals include more blogging, exercise, and being more kind to myself. Do you every find you are your own worst enemy? From many books and discussions with friends and colleagues, I find that many of us constantly beat ourselves up. For me, it is somewhat of a cycle. I'm sure just being female and having hormones has something to do with it. Then add in daily stress, trying to maintain balance, and can all just make one go bananas.

So, today I welcome myself back into the blogosphere and toast my lovely Green Monster smoothie to a healthy summer! Cheers!