Chipotle Ham and Bean Soup

Soup season’s prime time is definitely winter. But as us hearty North Dakotans know, summer and consistently warm days don’t REALLY arrive until July. Ugh. So…if you have to have a leftover ham bone in your freezer from Easter maybe you want to make this? If you don’t have a ham bone don’t worry – you could easily use cut up ham instead. If the wind ever quits blowing I know we’d be grilling more often. Until then, inside cooking prevails.

ChipotleHamSoup

This soups is full of veggies and has a little bit of kick from the chipotle peppers that are added.

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Beautiful. There is not much better than the smell of this mirepoix sautéing on the stove.

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Chipotle Ham & Bean Soup, slightly adapted from Tasty Kitchen 

Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil/bacon fat/or butter
  • 1 whole large Onion, Diced
  • 3 whole Carrots, Chopped
  • 3 stalks Celery, Chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 large ham bone with meat (if you don’t have a bone, sub about 2 cups cut up ham)
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock
  • 3-5 cups water (enough to cover ham bone)
  • 2 cans (15 Oz. Can) White Beans, Rinsed and Drained
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 10.8 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables (green beans, carrots and corn)
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin
  • 2-3 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Montreal steak seasoning
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven/pot over medium high heat. Sauté the onions, carrots and celery until they are softened and light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic for about 30 seconds, and then add in the ham bone.

Pour in the chicken stock, water, beans, tomatoes, frozen veggies and spices, stirring well and scraping up the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Before you add any salt, taste the broth—the beans/ham/stock can be quite salty as it is!

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours or longer. Much of the ham will fall off the bone, but remove any that doesn’t. Remove bone (save for your dog!) Remove the bay leaf and serve.

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The cast of characters as far as seasonings go. I love adding spices to my food – I have a drawer full of spices.

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Big chunks of ham, a variety of veggies, filling beans and a tasty spiced broth makes for a hearty soup. Enjoy!

Posted in Main Dish, Soup | Leave a comment

Double Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies

I whipped up these brownies one night when I was in a rush. We have new neighbors who just moved in and I wanted to take them a welcome treat. Since I didn’t have a lot of time, I just used the recipe on the back of the peanut butter chips bag since I had all the ingredients on hand.

DoublePB

I knew the new neighbors had kids so I figured chocolate and peanut butter would be a no brainer winner!

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Double Peanut Butter Paisley Brownies, from the back of the Reese’s bag

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine , softened
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips
  • 1/2 cup HERSHEY’S Syrup

    Directions

    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

    2. Beat butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla.

    3. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt; mix into peanut butter mixture, blending well. Stir in peanut butter chips. Spread half of batter in prepared pan; spoon syrup over top. Carefully top with remaining batter; swirl with metal spatula or knife for marbled effect.

    4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into squares. Makes about 24 brownies.

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    The batter before adding flour.

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    Layer the dough, some chocolate syrup and then cover with more dough. It’s fine if some syrup pokes through.

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    Top with more syrup and I added the last of the peanut butter chips. Swirl the syrup with a knife or spatula to get a pretty design going.

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    They turned out beautiful. Thick bars, soft in the middle.

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    The bars made enough I got to share with two sets of neighbors. Enjoy!

    Posted in Baking, Dessert | 1 Comment

    WIAW

    Time for another installment of “What I Ate Wednesday”. I’m currently working on eating whole, healthy food for the most part.  I’m pretty focused on eating healthy Monday-Saturday for the most part. On Sunday, I usually “slip” up a little and just eat whatever I want – healthy or not.

    5:30am – I snack on these little healthy cookies. I’ve mentioned them plenty of times before but they are mashed up banana, oatmeal, chia seeds, ground flax and cinnamon. Lately I’ve been getting a headache after my longer workouts and after some research (aka Google) I think it might be because I’m going in with my tank on E. These little bites seem to help, they are good refrigerated and with a smear of peanut butter too. It takes about 15 minutes for me to get to work so I snack on the way and drink a little water.

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    7:45am – After I shower and get ready for work, I grab a cup or so of cold, cut up cantaloupe. Again, trying to keep my headache away. I LOVE cantaloupe and could easily eat a whole one but I refrain. I drink a lot of water through the morning. I usually just refill this liter bottles. I think it’s time I step up and get a nicer water bottle.

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    9:45am – breakfast. Lately, I’ve just been sticking to this breakfast because it is easy and I don’t have to cook. I mash it all up and eat it together so it isn’t so pretty. Greek yogurt, banana, cinnamon and protein powder. I know protein powder isn’t a whole, real food, but I love the ease it provides. And I think it is really yummy. 1 banana, a bunch of cinnamon, 3/4 cup yogurt and a scoop of powder.

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    12:30pm – lunch time! All meals are the best part of my days. Today (as many days) I am having a large salad with leafy greens and chicken. The secret to my salads is I use a ton of toppings. The more variety, the better for me. I usually cut up a bunch of veggies 2x a week so when I put together salads or wraps, I don’t have to cut them each time. I find salads and wraps are best eaten within 2 days so I make 2 at a time plus some for my husband. If I recall, this salad had: a few dollops of cottage cheese, hummus, shredded carrots, green onion, a few sprinkles of feta, tomatoes, banana peppers, half a boiled egg, cucumber and a ton of cilantro. I love cilantro and eat it on a lot of meals. I’ve heard some people think it tastes like dirt? I guess I like dirt! I warm my chicken up and eat this along with a big bowl of steamed broccoli/cauliflower.

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    2:30pm – I am trying to cut back on snacking but I still want something. I have a Diet Sierra Mist. Yes, I drink pop. Right now, this is a better alternative than candy or popcorn so I enjoy this. I have maybe one or two a week.

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    7pm – dinner is easy, leftovers. Last night we had taco salads. When I make tacos or sloppy joes or whatever, I usually try to make double what we would need. The leftovers freeze nicely or go in lunches. Another secret is I try to make just as many veggies to go in the meat as meat itself volume wise. I have 2 lbs. of ground beef and I also used 5 cups of onions, peppers and garlic in the mix. It’s a great way to add bulk to the meals in a healthy way. We love onions and peppers so this is easy. If you like mushrooms that would be another great addition.

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    I took a sweet potato and mashed it up (another thing I make in bulk on the weekend is a bunch of sweet potatoes and veggies so they are easy to grab when hunger sets in), added taco meat to the top and put in the fridge overnight. Tonight, I warmed that up and added cilantro, cottage cheese, salsa and green onions to the top. If you aren’t a fan of sweet potatoes, serve it over brown rice. We love the microwave steam packets – so easy to make rice that way I don’t know why I’d go the conventional route. I serve mine with broccoli with red pepper flakes. I probably eat a few pounds of broccoli a week. No joke, I love it, it’s affordable, easy to make and good for you.

    We are generally pretty busy during the week and that is another reason I try to meal prep in advance. Starting this week, my longer workouts will be in the evenings and I won’t be home much so I’ll have to to be on my GAME to keep healthy food on hand. Some tried and true tips for me include:

    • Bake several sweet potatoes in advance and store in the fridge
    • Steam or blanch your favorite veggies you know you will eat (we don’t care for most raw veggies) and store in the fridge
    • Grill or bake a few pounds of chicken/turkey/lean protein of choice to keep on hand for sandwiches, salads or meals when you are in a rush
    • Meal plan
    • If you have a simple breakfast like mine, make a few at once. It won’t spoil and you only have to get everything ready 2x a week that way
    • Chop all raw, fresh vegetables into bike size pieces and store for ease
    • Cut your greens if you use them often. I use a plastic knife and keep in a zip top bag with a paper towel. We go through so much it doesn’t get a chance to brown before I need more.

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    That’s all I got today. Brinklie cat gives you a wink!

    Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | 1 Comment

    Crock Pot Candy Cookies

    I made these cookies for a bake sale at work. I was pressed for time and remember these make a lot with minimal effort. Instead of cookies, you could also make these as candy in cupcake liners.

    CrockCandy

    Warning: these are highly addictive. Just saying!

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    Crock Pot Candy Cookies, adapted from Trisha Yearwood, makes 7+ dozen cookies

    Ingredients

    • 2 pounds salted dry-roasted peanuts
    • 4 ounces German’s sweet chocolate (about 4 squares)
    • One 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
    • 1 lb. 4 oz. package white almond bark
    • 12 oz. white chocolate chips
    Directions

    Put the peanuts in the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker. Layer the chocolate over the peanuts, beginning with the sweet chocolate, followed by the chocolate chips and then the almond bark and white chips. Set the temperature on low and cook for 3 hours. Do not stir the mixture.

    After 3 hours, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth. Drop the candy into cupcake pan liners using about 2 tablespoons per liner or onto wax paper in the shape of cookies. Allow the candy to cool completely before removing the cupcake liners or wax paper.

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    You will see the recipe calls for a 4-quart cooker. Mine is a 3-quart. Doh! It ended up working out but barely!

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    For the 3 hours the goodies are in the crock pot the nuts are on the bottom and they get kind of slightly toasted tasting. Mix it all up and your cookies are ready!

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    I spooned mine out on wax paper and just waited for them to harden.

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    These easy and tasty cookies are great. I put them in the crock, cleaned the whole house, scooped them out and then finished laundry and they were ready to be packaged. The most difficult part was cleaning the crock pot! Enjoy.

    Posted in Baking, Cookies, Dessert | Leave a comment

    2015 quarterly goals first check in

    At the beginning of 2015 I set some goals (resolutions) to work on for the first few months of the year. I thought it would be a good time to update myself and you on how those goals are going.

    1. Clean up my eating. Well. I would say the year started out good but it fell by the wayside when I went on vacation in February. I drank and ate to my heart’s content and I had a wonderful time. No regrets. However, I came back to North Dakota feeling puffy and stuffed into my pants. Thankfully, after talking it over with my husband we both agreed we need to get things under control and get back to healthy eating. We started a healthy eating challenge on March 9. I would say so far we only had two or three really bad days and it could have been worse. We have been eating well – fruit and yogurt for breakfast, salads for lunch and protein, veggies and a starch for dinner for the most part. Of course it varies day to day but we cut out sweets, chips and a lot of processed foods. On grocery shopping days, our cart gets filled with produce, lean protein and some dairy like yogurt, cottage cheese and eggs. We are both feeling better. The first part of the eating challenge official ended between us on Tuesday, March 31. But….we already started on phase two through the end of April . I’ve said it before but I gain weight very easily – but I can also lose it fairly easily. I am down about 12 lbs. on the scale and would like to get down another 10 to reach my ultimate goal weight I set nearly 2 years ago. Last summer I was very close but not quite. I’ve heard it said before, losing weight is easy, maintenance is hard and so far in my nearly 2-year healthiness journey I have to agree.

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    2. Budget. I do think that I’ve gotten a bit of a handle on my food budget. We don’t eat out often and that certainly helps. By staying out of the middle section of the grocery store I don’t buy any of those surprise sale items I don’t need. We usually do a big haul once or so a month at Sam’s to stock up on stuff and they are really great for healthy eating actually!

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    3. Stop baking so much. I started out weak with this. Baking is my escape, my hobby and I love it. Now the weather is turning and my goals are focused, I am baking much less. The only baking I have done is for potlucks or fundraisers or where the food goes out the door.

    4. Complete Insanity Max30. Check! I LOVED this program. It is only 30 minutes per day, 5x a week. It was super challenging and I still had to use modifications even at the end. I felt I gained strength during the program. However, I didn’t follow a healthy eating plan. So, just as I started my healthy eating in March, I am repeating Max30 to see what my results are with a good diet and exercise program. I love my Shaun T!

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    5. Cardio. I am getting to spin about 2x a week. That is really all my schedule allows at this point in time. I am just itching for warmer weather so I can take my bike out. I have continued running and can consistently and fairly easily run 6-9 miles at a time. I want to focus on getting up more towards double digits come later this spring. I am doing some speed work on the treadmill and pushing myself.

    6. Travel. So far I would say this has been a success. I went to Arizona in February and just went to Montana last weekend. I haven’t hardly been home many weekends as I am constantly going to Bismarck or Minot for something. I like to keep busy. I still didn’t get on a train yet but I have time. My husband and I are tentatively planning a getaway for next winter already too. This summer we will try to get away one weekend to Medora and hopefully South Dakota again. We both love South Dakota!

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    7. Confidence. I think I haven’t gotten worse, but I haven’t gotten better. I have gone out a lot more in the past few weeks than I did over the winter. I feel like I am maybe doing a little bit better but this is an ongoing work in progress.

    8. Sleep. I am doing great with this one. Shocker, I am really good at sleeping. That’s pretty easy but I make it a priority to get my 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I feel so much better about life that way.

    9. Monthly photo. I totally skipped out January but got one of us on Feb. 1 so close enough. I always take workout photos or food photos but I forget to take out the camera when we are out doing fun stuff. I am trying hard not to be on the phone in social settings.

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    10. Less computer/phone time. I think I have made improvements in this. In the morning I go through my social media stuff and post things, usually before 8am. I check on my breaks and after work/in the evenings. But I read less food blogs and feel I have cut back. I should probably ask my husband what he thinks of that statement.

    I’m feeling fairly good about this year now that I turned things around the beginning of March. I want this summer to be fun, happy and full of fitness activities. I need to remember that if I treat my body right, I am so much happier. It sometimes stinks saying “no” to certain treats, but I really do not need those items. I am finding a great balance of fun, fitness, family and friends I think. Here are my bullets for the next quarter of the year:

    1. Finish Max30 and repeat T25. I need to switch things up after doing Max30 two times. I did T25 last year and really liked it. I like doing these 30 minute workouts as cross training.

    2. Bike. Get on my bike outside and do some workouts. I hope to find some online that will push me to get faster instead of me just riding aimlessly.

    3. Run. Keep running and take it outdoors. I’d love to try some new trails or areas to run other than just in Hazen.

    4. Swim. This will be later in the summer but I’d like to join the Hazen Pool and work on my swimming. It is horrible!!

    5. Family. Keep doing fun things with my husband and enjoy ourselves and our summer. I have a few fun sister things planned too I am looking forward to.

    6. Enjoy the outdoors. I just want to be outside as much as possible to soak up our wonderful summer before it is gone.

    7. Eating. Continue to eat healthy, little processed foods, sugar and junk.

    8. Continue with less computer time to work on goals #1-7. That might mean I post fewer times per week. Since I am baking less, I will probably have less content. I hope what I do post is interesting enough for you to come and read. Maybe my content will focus a bit more on my healthiness and good for your recipes? We will see!

    Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | 2 Comments

    Asparagus stuffed chicken breast

    OMG! I think I’ve mentioned this before, but my husband is a REALLY good cook. I am always asking myself why he doesn’t cook more? I love when he cooks and this day he came up with a really good recipe I hope he makes me at least a few times more this summer. And it is also pretty healthy! Thanks to him for providing this meal and letting me take some photos for the blog.

    Asparagus

    What a beautiful presentation!

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    What you see above is the process of him stuffing two chicken breast with lean ham, stinky (in a good way) cheese and asparagus. This is all secured together, seasoned expertly an finally basted with maple syrup. He made this on the smoker so we had juicy chicken. sweet syrup, smoky ham and asparagus and melty cheese. So many senses, tastes and textures.

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    Asparagus stuffed chicken breast

    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4-6 oz each)
    • 2 slices Parmigianino Reggiano cheese (1-2 oz each)
    • 2 thin slices smoked ham per breast (1 oz each)
    • 5-6 asparagus spears per breast
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Granulated Garlic
    • Seasoning Salt
    • Toothpicks

    Recipe Steps

    Cut asparagus spears so they will be an inch or so longer than the chicken breasts. Soak in water seasoned with salt. Add toothpicks to the salt water and asparagus. Set aside.

    Start grill warming to 350.

    Cut chicken breasts 3/4 of the way through the long way. Use a kitchen mallet and gently pound the center of the breasts to an even thickness. Lay out the breasts and season lightly with pepper, garlic and seasoning salt.

    Place the slices of ham then cover with cheese. Remove asparagus from water and pat dry. Place 5-6 spears in the chicken and then wrap breast around spears and secure with tooth picks. Season outsides of the breast with pepper, garlic and seasoning salt.

    Place stuffed breasts on the grill for 12 min, flip and cook for another 12 min. Flip back over and brush one side with half maple syrup and cook 5 minutes, flip and use remaining syrup and cook about 5 more minutes until cooked through. Serve.

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    This is the smoker my husband has. It is a Traeger brand and on the left is where you can put in different flavors of wood pellets for smoking.

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    You control the temperature so it’s great if you want to low and slow smoke some ribs or in this case, just use it almost like a grill at a higher temp but it also imparts some smoke flavor.

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    Be sure to pound your breasts out to even thickness. You could obviously go more thin if you’d like. You need space for your ham, cheese and 5-6 asparagus spears.

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    He wrapped the chicken in a nice bundle and secured it with a few toothpicks that were soaking in water so they don’t start on fire.

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    When the chicken is done, simply remove the toothpicks and serve. We had ours with more asparagus and a sweet potato.

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    You can see the tips of the asparagus got slightly charred and those were actually really good bites and provided some nice texture. The chicken is juicy, the ham has a slight smoke flavor, the maple syrup is sweet and the cheese and asparagus are yummy together. The original recipe called for Havarti cheese which would be good, but parmesan, Swiss, or even Colby Jack would really all work fine here.

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    How awesome is this meal? Please make it again for me, husband!! Enjoy!

    Posted in Guest Post, Main Dish | 3 Comments

    Liebster Award from Prairie Style File

    In this post I’ll tell you some things that you probably didn’t know about me. And this is all thanks to Prairie Style File – a blogger I got the pleasure of meeting this past winter. She writes on a variety of topics including restaurants, food, art, style, travel and more. I love her site – please check it out. She is just as charming in person as she seems on her blog – very friendly. I’m glad I got to meet you in real life, Alicia! She nominated me for what is called the Liebster Award. This is designed to introduce any of my readers to other bloggers. I have done this a couple of other times, but the questions are always different. I enjoy reading more about other bloggers and hope you enjoy reading a bit about me.

    I am going to answer the same 11 questions she did – here is a little about me!

    1. How did you get into blogging?

    I wanted to share my cooking and life experiences with my family a few hours away while I was living in Fargo. I thought it would be a good hobby and a way for me to experiment with new recipes. From there it has evolved into more snippets into my life, travels I take, fitness and more. I have enjoyed meeting virtual friends and other bonus opportunities that came out of this lil’ ol’ blog. I really love food!

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    2. If you could have anyone’s closet, whose would you choose?
    I am not fashionable. I would probably pick someone who has a lot of fashionable western wear, sundresses and fitness outfits. How’s that for a mix? Is there even anyone out there like that? I just try to look presentable for the most part. My day job doesn’t allow much fashion as it is in a dirty environment for the most part. I really like how Taylor Swift dresses for the most part. She is always usually tastefully covered and in timeless sort of looks.

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    I’d wear something like this everyday if I could. Not really ideal for our winters though.

    3. Who’s your celebrity crush?
    Man, these questions are going to make me seem pretty boring. I don’t watch a lot of television or movies. I don’t really have a crush I can think of. Naturally, I like tall, athletic mean. I really go for guys who are funny – Blake Shelton would be a hoot to hang out with I bet! Pretty much any comedian would be fun – I think more of my celebrity crushes would be female comedians – Chelsea Handler, Amy Poehler, Amy Schumuer, Kristen, Wiig, etc..

    4. What is your favorite TV show?
    See above – I don’t have a DVR, I don’t have Netflix, HBO, etc. I generally always have the TV on for background noise and it’s generally on the Food Network. The two shows I try to catch each week are Two Broke Girls and Nashville. Two Broke Girls is hilarious. Extremely crass and I can’t believe they get away saying what they do. Nashville started right around the time I visited Nashville and I’ve been hooked on the drama since the beginning. I love country music.

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    5. Silver or gold?
    I wear silver for the most part but lately have been mixing silver and gold together.

    6. What is your favorite meal?
    I love so many types of food. Pizza and nachos are up there for “bad” food. I love a good cheeseburger. I eat salads almost every day as I really love them too. For a cuisine, I’d pick Mexican food. Spicy and full of vegetables. I can tell you what I don’t like – mushrooms and seafood.

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    7. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
    I’d love to visit Australia and Norway if time and money weren’t an issue. I love vacationing in Mexico and could go every winter.

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    8. What is the one beauty product you can’t live without?
    I wear minimal makeup. I’ve never been into it and I have never really learned the proper way to apply makeup. I don’t like how it feels on my skin. I do appreciate a SPF, moisturizing foundation or primer and some bronzer.

    9. What are your favorite fashion trends right now?
    I don’t even know what is trendy! For workout clothes, I am loving tanks that really show off your upper arms and back. I am in love with some new capris I have that are knee length and tight. I love a good sundress or maxi dress in the summer. If this is any of my fashion sense – I get the majority of my clothes at Old Navy. I prefer things in solid colors. The dress below is one I’d buy from Old Navy.

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    10. What is your favorite way to relax and unwind?

    If I have a bad day, I really like to de-stress with exercise. I love the feeling after a workout, dripping with sweat and feeling accomplished. I also love to unwind by cooking or baking. Sometimes I will go to the movies or sit around watching television to REALLY be lazy, but most of the time we are doing something it seems like.

    11. Where are your favorite place to shop?

    I love going to the grocery store. I really like going to grocery markets I have never been in before. I know a lot of women prefer to browse over colorful shirts and sweaters, but give me a colorful produce aisle and I’m more happy!

    That’s the end of the questions from Prairie Style File’s nomination. Thanks for the nomination and please check out Alicia’s site! Play along if you’d like…

    Have a wonderful Good Friday and a Happy Easter. I’m off on an adventure later today!

    Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | Leave a comment