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 · 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

dogs · Journal

Kane Chronicles – 10 months

I haven’t been doing weekly updates because he hasn’t been changing that much lately. I do still take a weekly picture, but I honestly don’t see much different from week to week now.

He is being a typical teenager now and is definitely testing some boundaries, but I’m happy to report that his recall is back to almost 100%. Unless he is in our backyard and doesn’t want to come in. Then he has very selective hearing. However, it is back where it is important, so we can deal with selective hearing in the backyard.

I have started a bit more treadmill training with him and have done a few couch to 5k runs with him (a mixture of running and walking), he needs some extra energy outlets and I think he will be a great running partner if we put in the work now. Because he is still growing (even if it’s slower) I am very cautious about activity that he doesn’t get to chose pace or duration. He has been fantastic, but I don’t want to overdo it and cause any issues.

He LOVES all things water…And mud. The swimming this winter at the pool definitely paid off. I’m so happy he enjoys the water so much. The lake has been really busy, so he hasn’t gotten a chance to practice his swimming, but I’m sure when we are on holidays we will find a spot to get him swimming.

We still walk using a gentle leader. He walks like a dream with it. The one thing we are working on is “barrier frustration”. If we are on leash and he thinks he needs to meet someone (person or dog) he will scream and freak out trying to get to them. So we are working on sitting and focus. It’s coming along, but I’m sure it will be something we have to work on for a while. Because he is doing much better with people, but still struggles with dogs. He LOVES all dogs a little too much. We don’t go to the dog park that often, but when we does he couldn’t be happier.

dogs · Journal

Brogan – 1 year without you

The last couple of weeks you have really been on my mind…you always are, but lately I think of you and reminisce about all your unique personality traits that I miss so much.

You were always a happy guy, although you often looked like Eyore 🙄. You greeted the people you loved with your winey bark and then demanded that they pet you, or massage you, or give you the attention you deserved. You always communicated better than any other dog. You let people know exactly what you were thinking. I’ll always remember you banging your empty food dish around to let me know it needed to be filled immediately… even if the dish beside it was still full. You also knew how to ask for your bones back (The ones that were taken away for whatever reason and put on top of the fridge), you made it VERY clear what you wanted.

I was also always amazed at how you knew based on what I was wearing if you were coming or had to wait for an invite. Dress clothes meant we were going to work and you got to spend the day in the truck, casual clothes you waited for an invite. Me getting “organized” for our walks at the lake led to the most excitement. You LOVED everything about walking at the lake. You were never great at swimming, but loved to play in every puddle, slough, mud hole and of course the lake.

You were never much for mornings and I often had to go get you a few times if we needed to leave early, you would eventually slide off the bed, back feet still in and head and upper body on the floor and then you would finally get up and get going.

I also laugh at how you loved frisbee, you were never any good at it, but you played, and were so proud of yourself. Rosco would catch the frisbee, you just fetched it, but you had fun and thought you were doing everything exactly the way it was meant to be.

You were always a picky eater. Refusing treats if they weren’t your favorite… but if we gave you something you liked you would pick up the dish and carry it to your bed. Such a character. You also made training a challenge, because really nothing I had was worth doing something you didn’t feel like doing… even simple things like “sit” were often ignored by you. You were probably one of our smartest dogs, but definitely not the most obedient.

You were always a gentle giant, didn’t matter the size of dog you met you always tolerated and played with them. Sometimes you would get frustrated because Rosco and Crash were too fast for you and you would grab Crash and pin him down. But never hurt him, just held him until I made you let him go. You were also the most gentle guy with kids. Occasionally got excited and knocked them over, but other than that you watched your size and just sat beside them for all the pets.

You picked your favorite toys and never wrecked them. Played with them endlessly, but never destroyed one.

You were one of a kind (as all dogs are) and I still miss you so much. Writing this is making me cry…

I hope you are happy enjoying everything you love in doggy heaven. I miss you more than words can explain.

Rest Easy Brogan ❤️

main dishes · recipes

Fish Taco’s

My hubby and I both enjoy fish and shrimp taco’s but have never found a recipe that we love…until now.

https://natashaskitchen.com/fish-tacos-recipe/

This is by far the best recipe we have tried. We did both fish and shrimp so that we could try both.

I am feeling a little lazy…So I’m not typing it out…but definitely check them out.

Only thing we didn’t bake the fish or shrimp, we pan fried them.

dogs · Journal

Kane chronicles – 31 weeks

Kane is continuing to grow although it’s not as noticeable week to week now. He is also getting more confident, but how he shows that isn’t the best, he barks at people and dogs that he wants attention from. Which isn’t going to get him many friends. So now we have to work on correcting that without causing him to become fearful. Might be a little bit tricky.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts Rosco isn’t great on leash, he thinks pulling is the only answer. Because he is 10 I’ve kinda conceded defeat with winning the battle of leash walking with him. That being said Kane was starting to be a bit of a pain when walking on leash. He wants to be close to his brother, which meant I was correcting and redirecting more than I wanted to, and it was making walking them on leash together less enjoyable. In comes the head halter (we use the gentle leader ones because they were what we used on Kira, Gunner and Sloan). I figured if I tried it early enough with Kane it may be the answer. We did a few days of training in the house and then 1 day in the backyard. I would put it on click and treat, then take it off and repeat. Then we moved up to putting it on and leaving it alone for a few seconds, then minutes, and then finally moved to walking with it on with a leash attached in the backyard. We have since taken it out on our walks, and he walks like a saint with it. Doesn’t even seem to notice it is there. Just walks with a loose leash and doesn’t worry about keeping up with Rosco.

Walking with his head halter

Kane isn’t a fan of the cold water at the lake, but he absolutely loves playing in it. We haven’t gotten him to swim in it yet, partly because he can still “bounce” when Rosco is swimming and partly because I’m not going in to encourage him to try swimming. He is fearless though, puts his head under water to grab things and runs after Rosco without any hesitation. He also continues to love his pool. I’m sure that will only get more use as we start getting warmer weather.

Fetch still isn’t his favorite thing to do, but he does do it now…cause it’s Rosco’s favorite, and he does like to do things his older brother does.

Our trick training is going fairly well, although I have to admit I haven’t been working on that as much as I should be in the last couple of weeks.