November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A few quotes of inspiration (thank you Pinterest) as we celebrate a day of giving thanks to God for what he has given us...




...I am so thankful for my family and friends, both near and far, and wish everyone a wonderful day.

Cheers,
Karen

November 22, 2011

"Pinterest"ing

Recently, I have become quite intrigued by the website Pinterest. If you have not checked this website out, I strongly recommend you take some time and visit the website. An invite from a current Pinterest member is needed to join the website; however, if interested, I am happy to invite you to join. Fortunately, Pinterest also has an app for iPhone = VERY addicting.


What is Pinterest? Pinterest is a visual/picture sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme based 'boards' of interest. The Pinterest mission statement is: connect everyone in the world through shared tastes and the “things” they find interesting.


I could go much much more into detail but I will leave it up to you to take the next step and investigate what Pinterest really is all about.


What is the point of this post? To share with you my Pinterest favorites right now...and to invite you to view my boards @ 3000milesnorth. I am still relatively new to Pinterest so some of my boards are pretty bare - I'm working on it though...almost daily. :)


Pinterest top Five (at the moment):


5. Wood letters glued to a canvas, all painted the same color.



4. Definitely on the Christmas list. Love the color.


3. I've been dying to make kale chips. Why not sour cream and onion?


2. So perfect for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin = goodness.



1. Already made one of my own. Super easy...and super handy!



I hope you enjoyed my "pins" and now feel the urge to check out Pinterest yourself.


Cheers!
Karen

November 15, 2011

Ouch!

Matt showed me this video on YouTube and I felt compelled to share with you. Watch out for wild antelope if you find yourself riding a mountain bike in South Africa.


November 13, 2011

Lasagna!


On Friday night I asked Matt what he wanted for dinner Saturday. I knew I would have the whole afternoon to make a meal (after spending the morning watching the Hawkeyes win lose). When Matt responded with "something Italian," I decided to go out of the regular spaghetti box and make lasagna. I have never made lasagna before but was ready for the challenge.

A couple things I hate about lasagna is that it gets runny and is usually overloaded with cheese. My list for the "perfect" lasagna:

extra veggies
reduced cheese
texture
whole wheat noodles

I began by looking in my fridge to see what ingredients I already had and which ingredients I needed to purchase. Luckily, I only needed to purchase mozzarella cheese and lasagna noodles. A quick walk to the store (Fred Meyer is right by my house) and back and I was ready to begin the lasagna making process.

Lasagna (a reduced cheese version)


Whole wheat lasagna noodles (I used spelt noodles. Spelt = more texture.)
1/2 lb ground turkey breast
1/2 onion
5 cloves garlic
8-10 white mushrooms
1 zucchini squash
1/4 red pepper
Spaghetti sauce
0% greek yogurt (yes, greek yogurt in place of ricotta cheese. try it. it works!)
mozzarella cheese

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 4 (or more if using a larger baking dish) lasagna noodles and cook until al dente (4-5 minutes). Drain and set noodles on baking sheet to dry
2. While noodles are cooking, brown ground turkey breast. Set aside.
3. To prepare sauce mixture, chop onion and add to sautee pan with chopped garlic. Sautee on medium until onions are translucent. Dice mushrooms and pepper and add to onion and garlic. When mushrooms are slightly browned, add diced zucchini. Immediately, add spaghetti sauce and turn heat to low.
4. Pour a very small amount of sauce in bottom of oven safe baking dish. Lay down single layer of noodles. Smear layer of greek yogurt on top of noodles and then sprinkle browned ground turkey breast on top of yogurt. Pour sauce mixture over the turkey breast. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over ground turkey breast. (Repeat process once).
5. Bake lasagna for 25-30 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Remove and let sit for about 10 minutes or until ready to eat (allowing the lasagna to sit will allow juices to soak back into lasagna = less runny).

Simple ingredients = simple meal (and EXCELLENT leftovers).


When boiling the noodles, be careful not to over cook. Since the noodles will cook again when the dish is placed in the oven, undercooked noodles work very well with this dish.


One great thing about this dish is that you can use a number of different veggies in the sauce. If you decide to go meatless, more veggies would be a nice complement to the dish.


Are you a fan of eggplant? I would love to try eggplant in place of the ground turkey breast. I think the eggplant would bring out a different flavor but still compliment the veggie sauce. Perhaps my next lasagna adventure?


Add the sauce to the sauteed vegetables.


Layering the ingredients is really quite easy. I was careful to pour just enough sauce to cover the first layer of noodles/yogurt/meat, but decided to dump the rest of the sauce over the second layer of noodles/yogurt/meat.



The cheese on top of the lasagna will become golden and bubbly when finished. I was tempted to take the lasagna out before the 30 minutes passed; however, I am glad I didn't because I think keeping the lasagna in the oven longer helped reduce lasagna "runniness".


Golden...bubbly...delicious.


Matt and I also had a salad...


...and a bottle of wine from my favorite winery in Napa, CA


Yum! You can totally notice the meat, greek yogurt (which tastes EXACTLY like ricotta cheese) and vegetables, beautifully layered, ready for consumption. 


Happy lasagna making. Enjoy!
Karen

November 9, 2011

A weekend in Iowa City.

ETE moved to Iowa City in September and had been renting a condo until they were able to move into their new house last weekend. After the football game on Saturday, Mom, Dad and I were lucky enough to help unload and transport boxes to their new house and clean their condo. Sounds fun, right? No, seriously, they're new house is gorgeous and it was nice to help them get somewhat situated.



Plus, how could it not be fun when Miss E provided the entertainment?


She has grown up so much since I last saw her in July, but still so cute. We had fun reading her books and watching her play with her new table.







Using the Hawkeyes' win as motivation, we finished everything by Saturday night. It was fun to spend quality time with E and Mom and Dad...even if it was while we were cleaning.

Sunday morning we ate a delicious brunch at Iowa River Power. Coincidentally, this is the restaurant where E and T had their rehearsal dinner.

After saying goodbye to ETE...


Mom, Dad, and I headed for home...but we were sure to stop for ice cream at Jitters Coffee Bar in Clear Lake. I had the white chocolate raspberry frozen yogurt. YUM!

A great weekend in Iowa City...and a wonderful way to spend my time in Iowa.


Kinnick bound.

After spending a few days at home, visiting my grandparents and making a few purchases at The Chocolate Season (gifts for Matt and Leah from the best chocolate store in the world), Mom, Dad and I woke up early Saturday morning so we could catch the Iowa vs. Michigan football game in Iowa City.


I had been looking forward to this game ever since I planned my trip to DC (six months ago). Although we didn't realize how important the game would actually be for the Hawkeyes to win, I anticipated the game would be exciting. The Hawkeyes usually always play well at home.

We picked up Eric at his house in Iowa City and said hello to Tauni and Eliza before taking off for the game.

What is so great about game day in Iowa City (in no particular order)?

1. Melrose Avenue


2. Food/tailgating/friends

3. Kinnick Stadium


I sat with my mom in my parents' season ticket seats. Eric and my dad sat in other seats that my dad purchased from a friend. It was so fun watching the game with my mom.



She kept it entertaining and we kept each other completely engaged in the game.


The game was exciting from the beginning, mostly because the Hawkeyes were the first to score and never lost the lead. The last few minutes of the game were very nerve racking but luckily (literally) the Hawkeyes pulled out a win.








Unfortunately, we had to leave the festivities without re-entry. Until next time...so long Kinnick.

And...I am hoping the Hawkeyes will win again this weekend vs. Michigan State. Woot woot!!

Go Hawks!
Karen

My grandparents.

What is one of the best things about spending a long weekend at home?

Seeing my grandparents.

 
(My mom's parents. This picture is from last summer. I forgot to take a picture when I saw them last weekend. Ugh!)

(My dad's parents)

I am so lucky and thankful to still have all four of my grandparents in my life. They are such an important part of who I am and I just love spending time with them. Our conversations are always interesting and entertaining and it seems like I learn something new from each of them every time we get together.

Thankfully, I will see them all again at Christmas...just a few short weeks away.

November 4, 2011

Adios DC

The APHA conference went really well...and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Washington DC. I learned so much about tobacco prevention from a public health perspective and took full advantage of not only the sessions that took place throughout the three days, but the posters that were being shared by individuals from around the country. My coworker, Stacy, and I submitted and presented a poster at the conference titled Chronic Disease and Alaska Native Tobacco Use: An ANTHC Initiative to Improve Clinical Services 



In addition to participating in and attending the conference (which equaled three very long days) I found time to do some shopping (Lululemon, Urban Outfitters) and walk around downtown DC.

Quite a bit of downtown DC is located in Chinatown. In 1986 the Friendship Archway was dedicated by the city. This archway is a traditional Chinese gate that was designed by a local Chinese architect. The structure is approximately 60 feet high and includes 7000 tiles and 272 dragons from the Ming and Qing dynasties. Washington DC's "sister" city is Beijing China and it was hoped that this structure, erected to celebrate the friendship of the two cities, would reinforce the Chinese character of the neighborhood (after the 1968 riots, many of the Chinese residents left the area for the suburbs...and the neighborhood lost much of its Chinese influence).



A plaque next to the structure states that the Friendship Archway is the largest single-span archway in the world.

The Verizon Center, located in Chinatown.





In addition, I experienced excellent cuisine. If you ever find yourself in the DC area, I STRONGLY suggest eating at the following restaurants:

Rasika: The BEST Indian food I have ever tasted. The Palak Chaat (crispy spinach) was divine.
Oyamel Cocina Mexicana: Spanish tapas and an air salt margarita. Any questions?
Zaytinya: Greek/Lebanese mezze plates. Upscale but a great place to catch a small plate and glass of wine.

Next on the agenda? Flight to Minneapolis + drive to Iowa (courtesy of my dad) = seeing Parents, Grandparents, Eric, Tauni and Eliza. So excited!

November 3, 2011

Washington DC!


This past weekend I was in Washington DC attending the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual conference. It was so neat walking around downtown DC surrounded by the structures and buildings that define our nation's capitol.


(Smithsonian Museum)


(Washington Monument and US Department of Agriculture building)





















On Sunday, after my coworker Jen and I registered for the conference and checked out the Washington Convention Center, we visited the Jefferson Memorial.

The only monument/structure Jen had not seen before, the Jefferson Memorial commemorates one of the founding fathers of our nation, a hero who authored and signed the Declaration of Independence.


The journey to the monument was rather long, so after walking about halfway to the monument, we lured a pedicab to pedal us the rest of the route. Neither of us had taken a ride on a pedicab before so it was fun to try something new.

(our peddler - he wouldn't look at the camera because he said he was "in disguise")


Interestingly, as we were riding by the Washington Monument, our peddler told us that since the earthquake that shook the east coast last year, no one has been able to visit the Washington Monument because of fear that the monument may collapse. A number of cracks surfaced the structure after the quake and architects are still unsure how to reconstruct the monument.

The evening was beautiful and from the the Jefferson Memorial, the landscape of DC was glowing.



After about an hour of checking out the Memorial, we headed to dinner at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, a Spanish tapas restaurant in downtown DC. We enjoyed a few small plates as well as an air salt margarita, their signature drink. Everything was delicious.


After a long day of adjusting to the four hour time change, walking around and eating, Jen and I were exhausted. We headed to our hotels and called it a day.

More to come from DC (sorry...I'm a few days behind).

Cheers,
Karen