Journal

You can’t succeed if you don’t try…

Well I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, but I’m not going to lie, my personal fears have held me back. Will I be good enough, will people want to read what I write, what will I talk about, and the list goes on and on. But today I decided to say “screw it”. How will I know if I never try. If I fail, I fail, but at least it won’t be because I didn’t even try.

First a little about myself. I’m in my early forties and happily married to my highschool sweatheart.  I work full time, struggle with the normal day to day stresses in life, but overall we have a pretty good life. We don’t have any children, but we do have 2 furbabies. A mixed breed dog named Rosco and a Dogue de Bordeaux named Brogan.

I love to cook, struggle with cleaning (it’s not my favourite thing to do), love photography, paddle boarding (or really anything involving water), animals (especially my dogs), reading, and most recently learning about essential oils and incorporating them into our day to day life.

My goal is to share some of my interests and ideas with all of you. Maybe some of my ideas, recipes or hints and tips will help someone else out. Or if nothing else give you a little escape from your reality.

main dishes

Bacon cheeseburger casserole

INGREDIENTS

1 pound Ground Beef

½ teaspoon Salt

1/4 teaspoon Pepper ground

5 ounces Bacon diced

1 small Onion diced

2 Dill Pickles sliced (we added after because I don’t like warm pickles)

1/4 cup Yellow Mustard

1/4 cup Mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 teaspoon Garlic Powder (I used a 1/4 tsp)

1 cup Cheddar Cheese shredded

3 large Eggs

1/4 cup Ketchup

1/4 cup Heavy Cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Take a saucepan and over high heat, add the pepper, ground beef, and salt. Break the beef up and heat until it gets brown, then take it off of the heat.

Into a nonstick frying pan, place the bacon over high heat and saute until it gets crisp, drain off the fat and add to the beef mixture.

Into the beef, add the half the cheddar, garlic powder, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire, pickles, and onion. Mix well.

To a casserole dish, add the beef mixture. Take a bowl and whisk together the cream and eggs, pour over the beef mixture. Top with the remaining cheddar and bake for thirty mins.

Serve immediately.

dogs · Journal

2 years since we welcomed Kane into our family

Today marks 2 years since we welcomed Kane into our family. He has brought us a lot of joy and we have also learned a lot about dog behavior and anxiety. Kane came to live with us right in the middle of covid restrictions and lockdowns, so a lot about what I know about fear windows and socializing and exposing him to different things and people we weren’t able to do. It definitely showed me how important they are, and how much work it takes to try to work your way through it after the fact and help him to be a confident happy dog.

The people he met and got to know in his fear windows are his best friends. They get to see his true personality…the goofy, loving playful Kane that we live with everyday. They also get to see the little bugger who often has selective hearing when he is doing something he wants that we don’t…

Where he struggles is with new people…and being left alone. 2 separate issues that I will delve a little further into.

He is unsure of new people. He doesn’t know if he should be scared of them, protect us from them or run for cover. Thankfully he is slowly improving…with a lot of work. One of the main thing we focus on is telling everyone who meets him to ignore him. Don’t look at him, don’t talk to him, just completely ignore him until he is calm and brave enough to come and see them himself. They still need to ignore him until he bugs them for attention. Usually that works fairly well. If it’s a really busy setting, and we have a lot of people around that is usually overwhelming and I either put him and Rosco in our bedroom (which is the easiest way), or I make him stay by me and lie down. I’m not sure which is better, but if I can’t focus on what he is doing I would rather him be set up for success by not having something happen that sets him back. And really a bit of time in the bedroom isn’t a bad thing either. It helps us with his other major problem. Being away from us.

He doesn’t LOVE his kennel, but we did a lot of work on that and now he tolerates it. Our end goal is to have him be loose in the house or cabin when we leave…like all our other dogs have been. Our Rottweilers were kenneled the longest…we couldnt trust them free in the house until they were 2…so I hope that means Kane will outgrow this and one day soon we will be able to leave him alone.

Right now every chance we have given him has led to him destroying something. However he is fairly well behaved when I leave him alone in the truck. Not always good, he has eaten a lot of the cookies I take to my clinics that I meet with and he has shredded my notebook as well as a box of masks. But recently he seems to be improving…or I’m leaving less temptation for him. Which makes me hopeful that he will soon settle when we leave him in the house or the cabin. In the meantime we will continue to kennel him and try him for short times alone. When he does those without incident we will extend the times he is free.

dogs · Journal

Brogan – 2 years since you’ve been gone

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you, but once the lilacs start to bloom you are in my thoughts even more.

You definitely still have a piece of my heart. All my dogs do, but for some reason losing you hurt a lot more…or maybe I just think that because it’s more recent.

Today I walked Rosco and Kane in the rain at the lake. And smiled thinking how much you would have enjoyed it, cool and puddles. Your perfect weather.

I can’t look at a Bordeaux and not think of you and Sloan. Your breed is so loving and so full of personality…or maybe just the 2 of you were special.

I hope that you are enjoying your pool, and puddles and all the puddles…RIP

recipes

Pork or steak pizza roll Philadelphia cheese steak

Omg. This was so good.
Sliced a pork tenderloin (could use steak), cooked it on a cast iron griddle on the smoker with steak spice.
Sliced up peppers, mushrooms, onions, jalapeños and fried that up with some steak spice. Made my pizza crust, put cream cheese around, then added meat and veggies, topped with mozzarella, pinched together, egg washed sprinkled with Italian spice and baked at 450 until it was browned. So good.

main dishes · recipes

The BEST Broccoli Cheese Soup

The BEST Broccoli Cheese Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 45 minutes | Servings: Yield: 6 cups

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small or medium sweet yellow onion, diced small

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups half-and-half

2 to 3 cups broccoli florets diced into bite-size pieces + 1 cups stems, optional (I used 3 cups florets and 1 cup stems

2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and sliced into very thin rounds, about 1/16th-inch

3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika, optional and to taste

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, optional and to taste

pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste (doesn’t make soup spicy and serves to enhance flavor)

8 ounces grated high quality extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing

Directions: In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter, the diced onion, and sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and barely browned, about 4 minutes. Stir intermittently. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Add flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. You are making a roux and it’s very important the mixture is thick or soup will never thicken properly later. Slowly add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly. Slowly add the half-and-half, whisking constantly. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal. While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots. salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne. If you don’t have these seasonings on hand, it’s okay, but they do add subtle depth of flavor. Stir to combine. Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal. While soup simmers, grate the cheese. It’s important to use a high-quality cheese (not the cheapest thing you can find) because the flavor of the soup depends on it. Do not use pre-grated cheese in ziptop bags because that cheese is resistant to melting and won’t incorporate well. After simmering about 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute. Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave. I find the soup is less likely to ‘break’ or separate when reheated in the micro rather than on the stovetop, but do what you think is best. I don’t recommend freezing the soup because I feel like the cheese and half-and-half will not do well upon thawing and soup could break, but I haven’t actually tried freezing it.

We also chopped up some bacon, fried until crisp and added as a garnish.

Nutrition: Calories: 292 Source: https://www.averiecooks.com/best-broccoli-cheese-soup-better-panera-copycat/

recipes

Big Mac Salad

Big Mac Salad was a winner!

1 romaine hearts chopped – or what ever lettuce you like.
Shredded cheese – measure with your heart
Sliced pickles – measure with your heart
1/4 of an onion chopped

1 lb ground beef cooked
Seasoning salt & pepper. Cook until done , drain off & let cool.

3 thick cut bacon strips cooked until crisp & crumbled

For the sauce:
1/2c mayo
1 tsp mustard
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp relsih
1/2 tsp cattle boys garlic salt
1/4 tsp onion salt
1 ish tsp pickle juice
Whisk up and let sit for 10-15 before serving

I have never had a big Mac, but my hubby agreed that this tasted like one.

main dishes · recipes

Mushroom Sauce

We have tried to find the perfect sauce for our chicken cordon bleu and after much trial and error and modifications I think we have the perfect sauce recipe.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter
1 portabella and 8 oz brown mushrooms, sliced
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves , minced
1/4 cup (65 ml) white wine or rose (or cooking wine)
1/2 cup (125 ml) chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup (250 ml) heavy / thickened cream
1/2 cup parmesan ,finely grated
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 – 1/2 tsp dried)
splash of soya sauce
1 tsp corn starch and some water to thicken

Directions:

melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and leisurely cook until golden brown – takes about 4 to 5 minutes. No need to stir constantly.

Just before they’re done, add the garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until garlic is golden (~ 1 minute).

Add white wine – it will sizzle! Stir, scraping the bottom of the skillet, for 1 minute or until mostly evaporated.

Add broth, cream and parmesan. Stir, then lower heat to medium so the sauce is simmering – do not boil rapidly, cream may split.

Stir occasionally and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes until it thickens. It shouldn’t be super thick, this is a rich sauce.

Stir through thyme, adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add cornstarch and water, simmer until thickened. Remove from stove.

Serve over steak or other cooked protein. Toss through pasta, stuff into baked potatoes, serve with roast beef, chicken or pork, smothered omelettes.

recipes

Ham cheddar soup

We always end up with WAY too much ham left over whenever we smoke a ham…this year I found a great soup recipe. Now the remainder is frozen for the next time we are craving soup.

Ingredients:

2 cups diced peeled potatoes
2 cups water
1/2 cup sliced carrot
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
1 cup frozen peas

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, water, carrot and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes. , Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk; add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir into undrained potato mixture. Add ham and peas; heat through.

dogs

Kane chronicles – he is 1 🎉

I’ve missed a lot of weeks of writing. Feels like this fall is filled with too much of everything, covid on the rise, vaccination passports to do a lot of normal activities and a lot of divide amongst people. More anger and division than I ever thought I’d see. So writing has taken a far back burner. Everything just feels heavy…like everything is sucking the energy and joy out of the simple things in life.

Kane turned 1 this past Saturday. Feels crazy that he is already one. He often acts like a little puppy, but is definitely testing boundaries fairly frequently. He has a touch of separation anxiety. It’s not terrible, but we are really working on it. I talked to a trainer about building his confidence, which helps with that, as well as helps him meet new people confidently. They suggested scent detection. So we started that. I can honestly say it is the most interesting class I have taken with any of my dogs. Kane absolutely loves it, and in my opinion is pretty damn good at it. He caught on really quickly and now cries when he has to wait for his turn in class, and is even more excited when we start getting ready to do it at home. I love seeing how dogs noses (and brains) work when they are trying to find something. It’s really amazing.

For this class (and training style) he has wintergreen on a cotton ball in a spice style jar (that has vents on the top, but a lid to seal when not in use). In class it’s hidden in certain containers and we have to figure out (by how our dog tells/shows us) what container it’s in. At home we do that, but I also just hide the jar so he has to show me where it is. I have also gotten my husband to hide it outside and then I just follow Kane to find it. That’s always really neat for me. Because I don’t know where it is and have to trust that he knows what he is doing.

I don’t think he has grown in the last couple of months, hopefully he continues to fill out in the next year, but if not, that’s okay. We love him for who he is. And I know that smaller dogs do live longer generally. So maybe his size will work in our favor and he will live to be 15 or 16.

Rosco is 10 1/2 and although he is slowing down and is a little stiff and slow he is still healthy and happy. Hopefully he keeps going strong for many many more years.

Enjoying the fall weather

I need to get back to my once a week posts. I miss it, and enjoy it when I’m doing it.

So stay tuned for more frequent posts.

recipes

Tomato, cucumber, onion, basil salad

This is definitely one of my favorite ways to eat summer garden veggies

Cut up:

Cucumber

Onion

Tomatoes

Tear some fresh basil

Season with salt and drizzle with balsamic glaze…also delicious with Bocconcini balls (fresh mozzarella) or feta