BBQ Sausage with Zucchini Noodles and Broccoli

I whipped this up one night for the husband and I. He really liked it but asked me – where do you come up with these ideas? Haha. Good question. I love looking at recipes online or food photos on Instagram and usually use the inspiration to create something using ingredients I have on hand.


For this particular meal, I had some veggies I was wanting to use up including a large yellow zucchini I got in the CSA basket we were lucky enough to snag from our neighbor’s while they were out of town. I basically took the zucchini and broccoli as a base for sausage covered in BBQ sauce to be topped on. For me, I think most veggies are super good if they are cooked quickly over high heat with some seasonings and garlic. I used venison sausage but you could use chicken or turkey sausage as well.


BBQ Sausage with Zucchini Noodles and Broccoli


For the Sausage:

  • 1/2 pound sausage, cooked and sliced (or use chicken sausage, plain chicken, etc. I used antelope)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup favorite BBQ sauce (I used something made locally here in Hazen using But Light, so good!)

For the veggies:

  • 3 cups broccoli, blanched (12 oz.)
  • 1 medium zucchini, spiralized or cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 hefty pinch of red pepper flakes
  • S&P to taste
  • Garnish: Roma tomatoes and green onion


1. Cook your sausage your favorite way, stovetop or grill. Remove from heat, slice and cover with BBQ sauce. Set aside.

2. A few minutes before the sausage is done, place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add in the olive oil. Once oil heats, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Then, add in the zucchini noodles and broccoli cook for 3-5 minutes or until al dente, you don’t want mushy veggies. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Plate the veggies and top with sausage. Garnish with more BBQ sauce, fresh tomatoes and green onions if you wish.


I am in love with spiralizing veggies. It really gives them bulk and they quick so quickly. If you don’t have a tool to spiralize your veggies, just slice them thinly.


This meal comes together quickly. I grilled the sausage and worked on the veggies inside while that cooked. To make it even more fresh, we topped ours with chopped Roma’s and green onion slices.


Be sure to use a BBQ sauce you love as it’ll be the main flavor component. Enjoy!

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Bismarck Marathon Relay, 2015

On Saturday, September 17, I participated in my second Bismarck Marathon Relay. The weather was amazing – sunny and warm but not too hot with a nice breeze. Our team all works for the same company and we had a blast running. In fact, Mary ran our first leg and then continued on to complete the half marathon. What a stud! This probably was no big deal for this woman as she has run a marathon in all 50 states! #inspiration


My team was Mary, Dave (dressed as a Blues Brother), Bruce, Josh and myself. We each ran a leg of various distances to complete 26.2 miles though Bismarck and Mandan.


Dave was our second runner and he warmed up his body by playing the harmonica while waiting for Mary. He is crazy!


I loved this race because I got to see so many friends and running buddies out on the course. This is Keshia – I’ve known her a long time and she provides a lot of running inspiration and motivation. Way to crush it, girl!


Here comes Dave at the end of his leg, ready to hand off to Josh. Dave actually ran and played the harmonica! Dave is also a seasoned runner who has completed many half and full marathons as well as a couple of ultra’s. Talent!


This is the important part of our convoy. The cooler full of water and beer and the speaker for some running tunes to fire us up!


I ran the 4th leg after Josh for 6.6 miles. I loved my leg. I got to run over the bridge from Mandan to Bismarck and through Sertoma Park where I would hand off to Bryce. This was my before and after. A little sweaty and of course a red face. I was ok with my time and again, saw a lot of running friends on my leg. Everyone is so positive and quick to say hi. I just love it.


I was so busy visiting other teams I forgot to get my medal. Luckily, I snagged one at the finish while we waited to run in with Bryce and finish as a group.


And here he comes! Looking strong, we all filled in and ran across the finish line together. The race director works at our same company so it was nice to see him. He is super fired up to get more people involved from our company to run as a team.


We had the ambulance driver take our photo by his ride. It was appropriate we thought. Ha.


We all convened at JL Beers to talk about the race and enjoy a hearty meal. Dang, JL has the best burgers! Rehydration is important and this is a great place to do so. What a fun time.


I ended my day out at the Hazen Golf Course and I snapped this photo of the sunset I thought was so pretty and a perfect ending to a pretty perfect day. Here’s to next year!

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

Flour free banana bread bars

These are a healthy muffin type of bar that I like to crumble into my morning yogurt for a bit of texture and more flavor. They are easy to whip together in the blender in just a minute or two. I’m not going to kid you, these don’t taste like banana bread, but they have a similar texture and slightly sweet taste. I’m not a gluten free or special diet person, but I think the title of these help imply they are healthier.


I don’t have any cute graphic for this recipe post. It is a brown bread and I crumble it into my yogurt. I’m not a blogger who cuts the food into pieces and arranges it on a plate with oats sprinkled about it. This is how I eat and I’m usually lucky to remember to get a finished photo before I eat the food! I like to make this because it is quick, healthy and gives me some needed texture in my yogurt – I like to chew my food.



  • ¼ cup almond or peanut butter
  • 2 ripe medium bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. honey or brown rice syrup
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Add all ingredients to a blender or food processer and mix on high until batter is smooth and creamy, wiping down the sides as needed.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 13-15 minutes until the top is set and a toothpick inserted to the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting into 9 pieces and serving. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Slightly adapted from Running with Spoons.


It doesn’t even take a minute or two for this to come together. The hardest part will be washing your blender.


The finished product. Again, I like this in yogurt but it’d be great with jelly, more peanut butter or baked with some chocolate chips. Enjoy!

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Eating in the Black Hills, SD

Over Labor Day weekend, we used the holiday as a chance to hit the Black Hills and have some fun. Living in west central North Dakota, the Black Hills of South Dakota provide an easy and convenient escape. We started visiting South Dakota more once we moved to Hazen and each time I go down there, I fall in love with it more and more. I wouldn’t mind living there. Gorgeous weather, beautiful terrain and friendly people. Of course, the Black Hills are much busier in the summer for tourists to see Mount Rushmore, Spearfish Canyon, Sturgis, Deadwood and more. It’s great to visit in the off-season when there are fewer people and hotel rates are drastically cheaper. Anyway, enough of my love letter to SD. Here are a few popular, tried and true places to visit if you make the trip “down south”.


I loved this random street art we saw in downtown Rapid.


Main Street Square, Rapid City above. It was a hot day and the kids were enjoying the fountains. The brick building is filled with shops and restaurants. I’d love to see a concert here! In that building is The Silver Lining Creamery – a can’t miss on a hot day. Unique flavors (I tried the tequila and it was amazing), super creamy and rich. The ice cream sandwiches also looked great!

Rapid City – Rapid reminds me a bit of Fargo size-wise. It is very spread out but easy to navigate. We usually make a stop out to Cabela’s and then go downtown to walk around the beautiful Main Street Square area filled with shops, boutiques, restaurants, hotels and bars. There are tons of places to pick from. For us, we prefer to go to restaurants that are NOT chains, are NOT family focused and bonus if they have a variety of tap beers. This particular day we found just the place, recommended by a couple different friends. Independent Ale House on Joseph Street, in the heart of the downtown area. They have 40 rotating beer taps and handcrafted pizza. Thank you for a bar that serves something other than fried appetizers. We tucked in and quickly got our drinks. We each ordered our own pizza. I didn’t have trouble eating my own, my parents did share one. They also had some super fresh looking salads on the menu.


The interior and my pizza below. I had the Spicy Chicken for $9. They have a great happy hour and 1/2 price wine night Wednesday.

Spicy BBQ Sauce, Chicken, Red Onion, Smoked Gouda & Cheese Blend with Fresh Cilantro


Hot Springs – we stayed our first night in Hot Springs which is quite small and is dubbed the southern gateway to the Black Hills. There aren’t a lot of restaurants to choose from to visit. One thing my husband and I always like to do is visit the American Legion, AmVets, Elks, VFW, etc. places in small towns. You will always get an affordable drink and a chance to visit with locals. We were on our way to the American Legion when we were stopped by a local. After chatting with her, she suggested eating at Wooly’s Western Grill for the best option in Hot Springs. This is a family owned and operated restaurant with a large menu featuring steaks, burgers, soups and salads. They tend to be quite busy during supper hours, so come early or late or sit at the bar while you wait.


Looking towards Hill City from Miner Brewing.

Hill City – a MUST for me if travelling through the Black Hills is Hill City to visit Miner Brewing Company. I really love their beer and the atmosphere of that brewery.


Enjoying a flight on their outdoor patio with my love.

I have been there a few times but we are usually in a hurry and I haven’t had the chance to check out other places in town. I made it a mission of mine to step next door to visit Prairie Berry Winery and try some wines. I definitely prefer tasting beer over wine, but this place is pretty popular in the Dakotas so I had to see it first hand. I also found it more interesting once I learned the same family runs the brewery and the winery, in particular, it sounds like mostly by a woman. Female power. There are tasting rooms in various SD cities but this is the flagship store. Walking up to it, it doesn’t seem like much. But I was stunned to open the large doors into a huge, bustling tasting and sales area with plenty of seating inside and outside. They sell more than wine, including a gourmet cheese stand, jams, candles, t-shirts, honey and more. I had looked online prior to our visit and their kitchen sounded right up my alley. From their site:

At Prairie Berry we’re committed to creating the highest-quality products we can, in both the winery and the Kitchen. That means we’re picky. And we like to make it ourselves. We use fresh, locally-grown, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. Many of our vegetables, herbs and greens come from Gregson’s Gardens, just 12 miles down the road. We roast our meats in our own ovens. When our desserts enter our kitchen they’re just sugar, flour, cream and butter and fresh fruit.


For only $12 I ordered half a turkey sandwich (oven roasted turkey, smoked Provolone cheese, basil aioli and roasted red peppers) with Greek Orzo Salad studded with fresh tomatoes and feta cheese. For dessert, I ordered the Chocolate Pots de Crème to share. The salads, soups and desserts change daily. Everything was super fresh and amazing. The dessert is like the thickest and richest pudding of your life.

Lead – I haven’t yet found a place in Deadwood that really turns my crank for casual eating. Our friends tipped us off to Lewie’s Saloon, located just minutes away from Deadwood in Lead. We rarely make it over to Lead and I don’t know why. It is fun to look around there and I’ll be making it a point to visit more next time. We ordered the Southwestern Dakota Burger (1/2 lb. maybe? It was huge!) with onion rings for around $8. The burger comes with the fixings including jalapenos. We were tickled to order a large mason jar of Busch Light (ice cold) for about $7. The good news I heard is if you eat it on the deck (overlooking the main highway) it is fat free. Awesome!


Spearfish – Once we find a place we like, we aren’t afraid to return time and time again. This is the case with Dough Trader’s in Spearfish. The unassuming pizza joint is tucked into a hillside and has a lovely outdoor patio. The ambiance is quiet and they offer a wide selection of beer and wine. They are closed Tuesday and do not take plastic so be sure to have some cash – there is an ATM available. Everything we have ever ordered has been good and leftovers reheat well. Here are a few of my faves:

Sister Marguerite $13 – Marinara sauce, Roma tomato, garlic and basil- a traditional Margarita pizza, fresh and fragrant.

Scarborough Fair $18 – Marinara sauce, grande pepperoni, fennel-infused sausage, red bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme- pizza as poetry


They serve the pizza on a tray with a candle underneath to keep it warm. Ask for parmesan and they will sprinkle your slice with freshly grated cheese.

OK, my last place and new to us this year was Leone’s Creamery. Ice cream just tastes better when you are on vacation. This cute shop is right off of main street tucked in behind a little park with some outside seating available. They have a Scoop it Forward board where you can buy for your friends. The flavors are unique and the service was superb! I had a peach ice cream with homemade caramel sauce and granola and it was wonderful. High quality!


This concludes the good food we had in the Black Hills – if you make a visit I’d suggest any of these places!

Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | 3 Comments

Brown Rice Taco Casserole

Even though some afternoons still have warm sun peeking through, the weather has undoubtedly changed. We can keep the windows open at night for a cool breeze, no A/C is needed and the sun is rising later and setting earlier. Fall is coming. With fall, I find myself grilling less and making more casseroles for leftovers instead of salads. My husband recently canned some salsa and had a bit leftover. I decided to make this healthier version of a taco casserole for us. Warm and comforting, but not totally loaded with cheese and sour cream. Don’t worry, there is a bit of cheese in there!


This makes 6 servings with about 400 calories per generous serving. Each serving provides a great dose of protein, healthy carbs and fiber. Keep in mind, additional toppings will add to the calories count so instead of sour cream, try adding more salsa or taco sauce and cilantro.



  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked according to directions (I love these microwave packages, so easy / fuss-free)
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon each: paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes (or you can use taco seasoning in place per instructions)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (15 oz.) can fat free refried beans
  • 1 (15 oz.) can fresh salsa (could sub RoTel or something similar)
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
  • Sliced tomatoes and pickled jalapenos as garnish
  • Feel free to top with other taco faves – sour cream, more salsa, cilantro, guacamole or taco sauce                      


Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare rice per directions and set aside. Cook ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it into crumbles. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add diced onion. Cook through and drain any fat if needed. Add all the garlic and seasoning and stir until well combined. Add the cooked rice, beans and salsa. Mix thoroughly, taste and season more if needed.

Spray a 9×13 baking dish with spray and pour mixture into the dish, spreading evenly. Top with tomato and pickled jalapenos if you wish. Cover with shredded cheese.

Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5-7 minutes until the cheese is golden. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Garnish as you wish!


This was the rice I used – cooks in 90 seconds, perfect! I sometimes put food out the night before I am going to cook it just to get things ready. I had some items out, including an onion and someone left me a note: HELLO, please leave me a little for my brats. Please. How can I say no to TWO pleases. Ha!


So this isn’t the most photogenic meal and it was getting dark in the house but here is the meat browning with spices, with the beans and rice, topped with jalapenos and tomatoes and finally with the cheese.


All cooked up. It sets up nicely together if you allow it to cool.


This is a great meal for leftovers. I portion them out with some veggies and this freezes very well. Enjoy!

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

2015 Southern Hills Sprint Tri recap

Saturday, Sept. 5 was the 18th Annual Southern Hills Triathlon at Angostura Recreation Area just outside of Hot Springs, SD, about a 5 hour drive from Hazen. This was the 2nd annual event for me as I did the sprint triathlon last year.


Once again this year, I was lucky enough to have supporters come with me and make it a long holiday vacation over Labor Day weekend. My Mom and Dad, sister and brother-in-law and husband all made the trek. I really didn’t expect anyone to come (well, except my husband) so it was great to have them there.


With my Mom and then with my husband. So glad to have them there!

This summer I was focused on training for the Go Far Woman half marathon in August. However, for cross training I was biking often and swimming when I could. In fact, over the winter I took a few swimming lessons in Bismarck at the Aquatic Center (highly recommend for new swimmers) to improve my swimming. I basically taught myself how to swim last year and even with lessons I am not that great but I enjoy being in the water. Due to half marathon training, I had very few brick workouts. I only did one bike/run transition actually. This was a little troublesome to me but I really wanted to beat that 1 hour 45 minute mark I just missed last year. So I signed up!


Making sure my helmet fits the hair and racking my bike.

When sharing with my Mom about the race she commented that she doubted we would have as good as weather as we had last year. I agreed as last year was near perfect and then told her not to jinx it. Well, I think this year was even better weather. The temps were maybe in the 60’s to start and warmed up into the 70’s through the race. It was a bit humid but not bad. You can see the water was like glass and was 73F. The only difference was this year it was overcast while last year it was sunny. Overcast is great, especially since the run is last and the shade really helps. So lucky!


Here is the breakdown so I don’t get too wordy. 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile (5k) run. This is a small, local triathlon benefitting the town library. We wear timing chips and there are some fast people but I wouldn’t call it super fancy or official. You can choose to participate in the kids tri, sprint tri, olympic tri, dualthon or relay teams for those events.

Opening remarks

  • Ages ranged from 6 – 71
  • I was the only N. Dakotan, others were there from Colorado, Washington and S. Dakota
  • There was a contingency of Black Hills State University women triathletes – this is the first year the NCAA is recognizing tri’s as a college sport – how exciting!


  • I swear (my dad agrees) the course was longer this year, based on looks alone
  • I swam the whole half mile – so proud of myself for this
  • I need new goggles
  • I need to work on speed drills and sighting
  • I wasn’t the only one without a tri or wet suit this year
  • Overall, I was slightly slower than last year which really makes me think they had it measured incorrectly last year since I had to stop many times last year and backfloat a lot too

T1 – nothing to note. Went well, I was a bit wobbly getting my socks on



  • My favorite part of the tri, also my strongest
  • No wind, a few hills
  • I felt prepared for the hardest hill this year after doing the same route last year
  • I passed several people
  • Everyone was so encouraging to one another, love the camaraderie

T2 – nothing to note. Took off my helmet and snapped on my big



  • Ugh, my legs felt like tree trunks
  • I forgot about all the hills on this route
  • I walked a few times
  • I saw a guy I passed and tried to keep even with, he ended up passing me on the last hill
  • This was tough, wish I would have practice more bricks
  • My foot still hurts



  • I love running through the finish line
  • I had started my watch at the swim and it looked like I was finishing about 30 seconds to a minute over 1h45m; kind of bummed
  • Had a great crowd cheering me on – thanks family
  • Happy
  • Hot – I swear all the sweat starting pouring out as soon as I got my medal, I had to sit down for a bit and ate some fruit and half a PB&J; so delicious
  • Drank a lot of water


We proceeded to get showered up and head to Hill City for some celebratory beers. I was happy with my performance, especially the swim and bike. We had a blast in Deadwood and were out until after 3 a.m.!

I thought the timing went really slick so I just happened to look on their website and was BEYOND thrilled to finish in 1h44m33.7s! I barely beat my goal!!


Now, will I do this again? I don’t know? I really love this race and all components but it depends on what else I have going on. I’d love to really work on my open water swim and getting a lighter bike but time will tell. For now, I am just happy!


Here’s my race breakdown (transition times really helped me!):

  • 4th out of 13 in my age group (Females, 30-39)
  • 26th overall out of 62 I think?
  • 7th in age group for swim at 27:54
  • T1 1:57
  • 5th in age group for bike at 45:06
  • T2 0:39
  • 6th in my age group for run at 28:56; a 9:30 pace
  • For a total of 1hr 44m33.7seconds
Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | 2 Comments

Dinner idea: Citrus brown rice, quinoa and ground beef

In an effort to get back to proper portion control, healthy eats and warm meals I have made it a little mission of mine to try some new foods. Variety is the spice of life, right?


One of my friends was telling me how much she enjoys quinoa (hi Nicole!) and I’ve heard about it everywhere online. I have found I enjoy many of the frozen vegetable options at Sam’s Club. They are hearty, whole and fresh tasting. While shopping that aisle, I found this concoction that caught my eye.


Hawaiian Style Rice & Vegetable Blend: Brown rice, red quinoa, carrots, peas, snap peas, corn, red peppers, edamame & pineapple tidbits in a tasty hoisin citrus sauce. This package had 4 individual microwavable packets inside. Each packet had 3 servings at 1 cup for 110 calories each. I made this into a meal by adding some seasoned lean ground beef. Chicken, tofu or turkey would also be excellent.


Citrus brown rice, quinoa and ground beef

  • 3/4 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Rice vinegar
  • Soy sauce (the pic shows Worcestershire on accident)
  • Ground or fresh ginger
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 package veggies mix from above
  • Garnish with green onion, cilantro, more soy sauce and Sriracha if desired.

Brown your hamburger and drain if needed. Break into crumbles as it browns. Add onion and garlic and sauté until desired doneness. I seasoned my ground beef by eyeballing rice vinegar, soy sauce, ground ginger and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust as needed. Microwave your rice/veggie mix as meat is nearly done. Divide into 3 equal portions. Top with any garnishes you like.

*Tip: if you have any leftover veggies in your fridge, add them to the meat mix after it is cooked and warm veggies through. I had some leftover green beans and warmed up with the meat it was a great addition and way to use leftovers.


Plated for my meal and two leftovers to be warmed up another day.


I topped mine with green onion, cilantro and hot sauce, of course. This meal really hit the spot and comes together in minutes. Next time I might do a double batch for more leftovers. This freezes well. Enjoy!

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