The Garden Mill Sneak Peek

On Thursday, April 21, my Mom and one of her best buddies headed west to Beulah to attend The Garden Mill’s 6th Annual “Sneak Peek” Party. There were over 300 attendees! For a small $5 fee (funds went to the Hazen Arts Council) we could visit the nursery the day before it opened, buy any merchandise, visit all the aisles, listen to music by Jeff Becker, received two drink tickets for sangria and were able to sample delicious desserts and appetizers. What a deal!

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I had never been to The Garden Mill before. I am admittedly most definitely not a gardener nor do I have a green thumb. But, I love a party with music and drinks so I was in! The event was very busy but it was well organized. I was totally floored by how much space was in the nursery. Rows upon rows of flowers, succulents, veggies, herbs and more. Not only that, they had some amazing decorations – metal artwork, woodwork, pots, planters and even clothes. I had no idea. I was actually a little overwhelmed!

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In particular, I loved these metal goats. How cute?! I couldn’t quite bite at the price but my Mom reminded me I could come over another day to shop. We checked out the prices and most of the items were in line as to what you’d pay in Bismarck and the quality seemed great. The store was spotless and everything seemed very well cared for.

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The food and drink were a hit, of course. They had a table full of tempting desserts, another table with flower cupcakes and a cake, a table of sangria or pop and another table with a variety of salsas. There was mango, strawberry and a bean salsa along with a unique cheese dip. It was all so wonderfully fresh and delicious. You could eat the salsa with regular tortilla chips or cinnamon pita chips.

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We cruised the aisles for quite a while, I think covering the whole space. We also enjoyed the music of a one man band – I think his name was Jeff Becker – and really enjoyed him. Our friend bought a few items and the line was so long. They had several people working though so it went fairly quick.

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The Garden Mill is located at 2001 1st Ave NE in Beulah, just north of the pool in a large green steel building. The size from the outside seems small, but it is huge inside. I can’t wait for the 7th Annual Sneak Peek.

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Greek Salad Flatbread Pizza

This recipe was born out of some leftovers when I made my Greek Salad. So that salad was to take to a potluck at work. I’m not sure if I am the only one that does this, but usually when I make a dish, I keep a little bit out for myself, especially if it is something I like. That way, if your dish goes at the potluck, you still have some to eat.

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So while the salad is great on its own, I decided to amp it up by making it into a flatbread pizza using avocado as the sauce and some goat cheese on top. This is a totally refreshing meal on a warm spring evening. I just love these flavors together and feel like I could eat this every day.

Here’s what I did:

  • Toast one Joseph’s lavash (or other flatbread like FlatOut) in the oven on 400 until it is crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove and let it cool, flip if needed so one side doesn’t get soggy from residual heat.
  • Slice a medium avocado in half, remove pit and mash one half while still in the shell. Scoop out and spread over the cooled flatbread.
  • Evenly add your leftover Greek toppings on the pizza. I used about ¾ cup of veggies.

Add whatever else you’d like – I threw on some pepperoncini’s, green onion, cilantro and a lot of red pepper flakes. Top with goat or feta cheese. There is some feta cheese in the Greek salad already so you don’t have to add too much more. Unless you want to that is!

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At this point, I ate mine. I prefer it cold. You could throw it under the broiler for a minute or two if you wanted to melt the cheese.

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This would also be good as a wrap which is how I ate the other half of my avocado the next day.

Posted in Appetizer, Dinner, Dinner idea, Main Dish, Veggie | 2 Comments

Bulk Shopping

THE BEST PROJECT YOU’LL EVER WORK ON IS YOU! This saying is true and sometimes hard to accept. You have to realize you are worth the time and energy to get fit, get healthy and be happy. If you can’t make that choice, none of these tips will work for you. You need to want to improve yourself. Continuing on with some tips that have helped me in my wellness journey – let’s talk bulk shopping!

Bulk

I’ll be the first to tell you that we are so lucky in Hazen to have Krause’s Market in our small town. They have a large variety and never hesitate to try new items. I’ve seen more organic, gluten free and healthy type products recently. I do my best to do a lot of my weekly shopping there. However, we do still sometimes go to Sam’s Club to do a big bulk shop. Sam’s is about 75 miles from us and we go maybe once a month.

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The Sam’s Club membership is about $50 a year but you don’t need a bulk membership. Many grocery stores are offering more bulk options and you can buy in bulk when items are on sale. So if you live in Minot or an area with no bulk stores, you can still use these tips. You will need a place to store this stuff and I recommend having at least an extra freezer, a pantry and maybe an extra fridge. I know these are pretty common things in rural ND, maybe not so much in a big city.

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Buying in bulk may be more common for people with large families. My family is only myself and my husband but we still find things to buy while leaving the bulk shampoo, laundry detergent and other food items alone. Only buy what you know you will use. You might get sick and tired of that 20 count pack of gum.

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We have two gallons of these banana pepper rings!

Many people think healthy eating is expensive. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. If you watch your grocery ads, you can always get sales. When our Krause’s ad comes out, I always turn it to the back page where they show the produce sales. I generally will buy what is on sale and incorporate that into the meals I eat during the week. If you have a Sam’s Club membership, they have a ton of bad food there, but they also really have an excellent selection of health food. Some staples we stock up on are chicken breasts (usually under $2 a pound and we portion them and freeze individually at home), hummus, fresh veggies (green beans, broccoli, romaine, etc.), fresh fruit (bananas, blueberries, whatever is in season), frozen fruits and veggies, yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese, almond milk and more. They have more and more organic options if that is of interest to you. Sam’s or the grocery market bulk bins are great for oats, lentils, dry beans and more.

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One of our other favorite thing to buy at Sam’s is spices. They have a huge selection of spices and as I’ve said before, seasoning your food is a huge step in starting to eat more healthily. They have salt-free options, pepper, cinnamon and more. Just check out our pantry. These spices can be used alone or mix them together for a custom blend. I even have some bulk spices my Mom brought me back from an Arizona market when she was there for super cheap.

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Buying in bulk benefits:

  • You get more product at a better cost per unit (know your prices, just in case)
  • You don’t run out for a long time
  • You don’t have to go to the store as often – maybe just fill in with fresh food items
  • Experiment – I’ve been buying dry beans and lentils to make in my Instant Pot and while they are shelf stable, I want to learn how to use them in new to me ways
Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Misc | Leave a comment

Boxers and Beer

On Wednesday, April 27, I made my way 75 miles south to Bismarck to attend the 1st Annual Boxers and Beer event at Sixteen03 Main Events. This event was the first of its kind I have ever heard of. Similar to Bras on Broadway, there would be men modeling decorated boxers and being auctioned off with the funds raised benefitting the fight against men’s cancer. I loved this idea!

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Tickets were $10 in advance and $15 at the door. The event was put on by McQuade Distributing and all proceeds went to the Bismarck Cancer Foundation.

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The event started at 5:30 p.m. The venue was tastefully decorated with some boxer decorations, fun finger foods and more. There was a table with popcorn and pretzels for snacking, a table featuring four different beers to sample, a food station with wings, chocolate covered pretzels and wood fired pizza, a large area of silent auction items to bid on and a cash bar. As we arrived we were given a number to use on both the silent auction and models. There were 31 models listed and let me tell you people go very creative with their costumes.

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Here are a few of my favorite descriptions:

  • Furry Friend by Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue. Taking the dog for a walk has never been so much fun! And afterwards, you’ll want nothing more than to cuddle with your little buddy.
  • Wooden Boy by Bismarck Cancer Center Nurses. Let your conscious guide you…toward bidding on these boxers and helping turn this wooden boy into a real man.
  • Hole-in-One by Country Financial. Bid on these boxers and spend a sunny day on the greens, putting the ball directly in the hole.

Oh boy – you can tell people were ready to have fun with this. Well, after an hour or longer, the model runway show was ready to begin. The longer it went, the more wild it got. Let me tell you, some of these ladies are NOT shy and let me tell you, the models were eating it up. Such a riot. A few of the models were auctioned off for over $1,000 each! I saw that evening raised over $30,000 for the cancer center! To kick off the event, a testicular cancer survivor go up to share his story and tell how he appreciated the help from the Bismarck Cancer Center. I thought that was a nice touch and one of the male models was also a cancer survivor.

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Also, totally not related, but how amazing is this bathroom below? Beautiful!

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I would guess from the success of this evening, this will be a yearly event. How fun!

Posted in Entertainment, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | 1 Comment

Greek Salad

This Greek Salad is perfect for spring – I can’t wait for garden tomatoes! I used cherry tomatoes here, but I think any would work, I really love Roma ones too. I whipped this together one night real quick to take to work for a potluck. I kept a little on the side at home to make another recipe I’ll share with you soon.

GreekSalad

INGREDIENTS

For the Greek Vinaigrette

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Salad

  • 4 cups roughly chopped ripe tomatoes, I used cherry tomatoes and seeded them
  • 3 cups roughly chopped cucumbers, seeded
  • 2 red or yellow peppers, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 4 ounces feta, drained and crumbed
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper and set it aside.

In a large bowl, combine all of the vegetables and gently toss together. Pour the Greek vinaigrette over the vegetables, and again, gently toss to coat them. Crumble the feta over the salad and then very gently toss the cheese into the vegetables.

Taste and adjust for more freshly ground black pepper if desired. Serve immediately at room temperature, or chill before serving.

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This recipe could easily be doubled or halved. I could just spoon this into my face. Yum!

Posted in Appetizer, Dinner, Dinner idea, Main Dish, Salad, Sides, Veggie | 1 Comment

Freezer Meals with CommonGroundND

On Friday, April 29, I was invited to attend a Freezer Meal get together at Sarello’s (formerly a restaurant, now catering) in Moorhead, MN. I would like to thank CommonGround ND and the ND Soybean Council for sponsoring this event. What a fun time we had.

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There was about 15-16 of us women who gathered for the event – a mixture of bloggers, farmers, ranchers and women from all areas of life really. The one thing we had in common is we all wanted to network and create some freezer meals to share with our family members. This would be an excellent thing to do for a group of girlfriends if you can organize the recipes and ingredients in advance.

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I was warmly greeted upon my arrival at Sarello’s with a fresh glass of Prosecco from Katie Pinke of The Pinke Post . Katie was the force behind the evening and organized the event with Sarello’s who hosted and provided the recipes, dishes and instruction for the evening. I met Katie via social media and we have stayed in touch via each other’s blogs. I visited Sarello’s the restaurant back in the day when I lived in Fargo but that was many years ago. Since I’ve moved, I followed Sarah and Tony on their blog, The Lost Italian. Yay for social media. It’s genuinely nice to meet and visit with my online friends in real life. Tony and Sarah have a particularly interesting story of meeting and working on cruise ships and traveling the world before settling down in Fargo to raise their son.

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Above Tony is demonstrating the mac and cheese. Sarah is making cranberry lemon scones.

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There was no time wasted putting us to work with our own burners for the mac and cheese and bowls and measuring cups for the scones

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This was the first event that CommonGroundND put on where freezer meals were made. We started out with Chef Tony in front of up demonstrating how to make an easy macaroni and cheese. A family staple comfort food dish. Here are a few pointers he gave us:

  • In regards to choosing noodles – he likes the DaVinci, Barilla or Dakota Growers brands
  • Salt your water to cook pasta
  • Cook to al dente, the pasta will keep cooking and you finish this dish in the oven, you want it to have a bite to it yet after boiling
  • Milk – use 2% or whole
  • Use unsalted butter
  • Use whatever cheeses or cheese blends you like
  • You can always add bacon to the recipe

After Tony was done with the easy mac and cheese, Sarah came up to demonstrate her Cranberry Lemon Scones. She is the baker of the duo, Tony doesn’t really care for the precise measurements required with baking. I have actually never made scones so was interested to follow along. Her tips:

  • Cut and freeze butter for future use when making these
  • Buy butter on sale and freeze it, it lasts a long time
  • Make your own vanilla with vodka and vanilla beans – it has superior flavor
  • Use your old butter wrapper to grease your pan (great trick!)

We then split into two groups and made each dish with assistance from the chefs. The mac and cheese went into a 9×13 pan and can be baked in the future. The scones were flash frozen to be baked at a future date.

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I told Tony his pans looked well worn. He said they were well worn and loved. He wouldn’t trade anything for them. Also, not much beats the smell of melting butter. Mmmm!

Next, we took a break to enjoy some dinner that was prepared for us. April was actually Soyfoods Month, so the first dishes I saw were a lovely Edamame Salad with an Asian Soy Dressing and a Tuscan Bean Salad. Both were presented beautifully on a large serving platter. We also got to try a bacon wrapped meatloaf, the mac and cheese we just assembled and the meatballs we were about to make. Everything was delicious. My favorite was the Edamame Salad.

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We were back to make two more dishes after our dinner break. Baked Ziti and Gio’s Meatballs. The baked ziti went into a 9×13 pan with generous amounts of fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese and Tony’s homemade red sauce with spicy pork sausage. Gio’s Meatballs (named after Nasello’s son) was a dish we just put together, formed meatballs and froze for future use. And luckily, at this time the scones were coming fresh out of the oven for us to taste.

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My cooking partner was Alicia, aka PrairieStyleFile and we had a great time. This event was totally something I HAVE done with my girlfriends before and it’s a great way to socialize and get some work done too. Thank you for a lovely evening to everyone involved. I’ll be posting recipes in the future as I make them. Tony and Sarah gifted us a signed cookbook so I look forward to cooking from that collection as well.

Posted in Baking, Dinner, Dinner idea, Main Dish, Misc | 3 Comments

Soda Substitutions

THE BEST PROJECT YOU’LL EVER WORK ON IS YOU! This saying is true and sometimes hard to accept. You have to realize you are worth the time and energy to get fit, get healthy and be happy. If you can’t make that choice, none of these tips will work for you. You need to want to improve yourself. Continuing on with some tips that have helped me in my wellness journey – let’s talk pop, aka, soda!

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Often times when people are trying to get healthy they want to give up pop (soda). I have to be up front and let you know I drink pop. I sometimes have it as a sweet treat instead of chocolate and if I am at the theater, I love a pop with a movie. I also have pop with alcohol when I am out. I generally stick to Diet Coke or Diet 7Up. I will let you know though I used to drink A LOT of Diet Coke on the daily. It is definitely more of a treat now. I came up with a few tips I used to cut out pop that might help you.

  • Try tea. If it is the caffeine you are going to miss, try switching your pop out with a hot or iced tea. I LOVE iced tea. If you need to, add a bit of honey or lemon. I prefer my iced tea unsweetened. If I drink hot tea, I really enjoy green tea. There are so many flavors out there to experiment with. You might be leaving one habit for another, but tea is much healthier. A nice option in the summer is an Arnold Palmer, half iced tea and half lemonade. Look for reduced sugar lemonade.

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  • Flavored water or seltzers. If it is the bubbles you are going to miss, there are plenty of natural seltzers or waters out on the shelves.

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  • Crystal Light. You can buy the powdered packets or the squeeze bottles to simply add into water. This will give you something flavored and sweet. I love to have a Crystal Light when I get bored (a hunger trigger for me) or after lunch as a treat.

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  • Juice. You will want to watch which juice you choose because some of them are nearly all sugar and worse than pop. Look into a veggie juice, mixing juice with seltzer or a drink I tried recently was Bai – only 5 calories per serving, 1 g sugar and has Vitamin C. Be careful as these will add up in costs, but are a good way to treat yourself.

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  • Flavor your water. Add berries or citrus to amp up your water. Frozen grapes or strawberries double as an ice cube and a built in snack. Try a spa water with cucumber and mint or agua fresca with watermelon and lime. So many options to infuse your water.

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If all else fails, drink beer or wine. I’m joking! But, everything in moderation I suppose!

Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Misc | 2 Comments