On the Move and Stuffed Poblano Peppers

These past few weeks I have made a commitment to getting outside and getting some steps in over my lunch hour. Although this late summer heat is not my favorite, I do look forward to this break in my day every day. I get all emotional while listening to podcasts or I turn up my music so loud that I can’t hear anyone or anything.

It’s my time; time to decompress from a sometimes stressful job or reflect on situations that happened over the week. Some days I plan out adventures for the weekend or spend my entire walk wiping away sweat and have no time to think about anything else.

Whatever it is that I’m thinking about while walking, I’m always feeling thankful. Thankful that my body allows me to do a five mile loop and sometimes even lets me run, thankful for the nature paths that are so close to our office and just thankful to have this mental and physical break.

There are obviously ulterior motives to these extra steps as well. I have hopes that the extra steps will help move the scale a bit lower so I can hit my goal weight. My personal trainer reminded me this past week that a lot of extra calories need to be burned through exercise in excess of the calories that I eat.

So for the time being, I am keeping a calorie journal through My Fitness Pal. I’m moving more and I am trying to eat better so we will see what happens? I am honestly not sure how many calories are in these stuffed poblano peppers but they were delicious!

 stuffed poblano peppers

serves 4 large servings

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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 lbs ground beef
  • 1/2 c canned black beans
  • 1/2 c fresh corn
  • 1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1 c monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • optional toppings: salsa or hot sauce, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges, rice, or anything your heart desires

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a skillet, over medium heat, heat olive oil and sauté onions until they become translucent. Add the garlic and ground beef and cook for another 5 minutes until beef is completely cooked.

Remove the skillet from heat and stir in black beans, corn, cilantro and half of the shredded cheese.

Cut the poblanos in half and remove the veins and seeds. Stuff the beef mixture into the shell and place on baking sheet. Top with the rest of the grated cheese.

Bake peppers for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and browned. Remove from oven and add your desired toppings.

This recipe was found on Will Cook for Friends.

 

Labor Day and a Skirt Steak Salad

 

For someone who never expected to be sitting at a desk five days a week, long weekends are welcomed changes in an otherwise monotonous routine. Normally I like to find a new spot to explore on longer weekends but plans changed and I found myself at our farm over Labor Day weekend with my family, pup and boyfriend for some much needed away time.

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The farm is such a wonderful escape – it was my Grandma’s cousin’s actual farm decades ago and our family took it over as our continuous project for nearly 20 years now. We have so many memories from the farm – playing hide and seek with the four wheelers and tractor in the fields, learning to drive in the Ford pickup truck, and too many New Year’s Eve dance parties to count.

As I get older, I definitely appreciate this space even more. Coffee is accompanied with the views of horse drawn buggies, morning work is rewarded with an early afternoon drink and dinner is always something special. This means when you get back home, you have to have a skinny night as my Mom calls them.

I have a love/hate relationship with salads. Sometimes I envision dry salad bars with the sneeze guard and over salted Ranch. And other times I think of Friday nights in Espoo, Finland where my host mom would clean out the fridge and make these meaty, busy salads with vinaigrette she whisked up right before we ate. This skirt steak salad is the latter.

skirt steak salad with blue cheese

serves 4

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1 lbs skirt steak, trimmed

1 tbsp olive oil

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

1/2 lbs spring mix lettuce

vinaigrette – recipe to follow

tabasco shallots – recipe to follow

Season steak with salt and pepper on both sides and allow meat to come to room temperature. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high and add olive oil. Once oil is glistening, place steak on skillet for five minutes. Flip the steak and finish cooking for another three minutes for medium rare. Remove steak from skillet and allow it to rest before cutting against the grain.

Meanwhile, toss the lettuce and tomatoes with the vinaigrette. Top with blue cheese, sliced steak, tabasco shallots and serve.

vinaigrette

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp whole grain mustard

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp honey

1/3 c olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

tabasco shallots

2 shallots, thinly sliced and rings separated

1 tsp tabasco sauce

1/2 C frying oil

1/3 C flour

pinch of seasoning salt

Place sliced shallots in a bowl and toss with tabasco sauce. Meanwhile mix the flour and the seasoning salt into a small bowl. Coat each shallot ring with the flour mixture. Heat the oil in a frying pan and once hot, fry each ring until crisp. Set aside on paper towel until ready to use.

 

So how did I get here?

 

 

Taking a break from catering may have come as a surprise to some of you who follow Seven but for me, it really wasn’t a decision rather than a necessity.

In the past few months, I have come to the realization that every one is going to go through something in their life that will test them, physically and/or mentally. And my lifelong issue will always be my back.

The summer before Junior year of high school I found out that I had a herniated disc in my lower back. The doctor I saw told me that I couldn’t have a herniated disc at such a young age but with the help of a persistent chiropractor, we did an MRI which proved that I did in fact have a herniated disc. It took the whole summer for me to get back to my normal physical activity and unfortunately, my varsity volleyball season. I made it through high school, college and Finland without having major back issues. I was active; walking almost everywhere, going to the gym and playing volleyball as much as I could.

It wasn’t until recently that “blowing out my back” became a common occurrence. A few years ago I started culinary school. As a requirement, I had to log so many hours in the kitchen at a local restaurant.  One night, while bringing out the garbage, I blew out my back. And then, within two years, it happened more frequently until this March, when it blew out twice within one week and forced me to be immobile for almost three weeks.

It’s not shocking that this happened. I’d become less active with my desk job, my free time was taken up with catering and another part time job and I had stopped giving my back the attention that it needed. During my recovery time, cortisone shots were discussed and surgery even came up. And that’s when I became terrified. I was 27. Back surgery was not on my list of things to accomplish in my 20’s. What if I wanted to get pregnant eventually? Would I be able to carry a child with a weak back? What will I look like in 20 years? Or 40 years? Will I be able to walk?

After spending time at the chiropractor, physical therapist and family practitioner, I felt defeated. The swelling in my back was not going down and I still couldn’t sit/stand/lay comfortably for any period of time. Then one random morning, Kyle was up earlier than me and made me breakfast and coffee. While I sat enjoying this rarity, I listened to a story on NPR about the back industry and ordered the book the interviewee wrote called Crooked by Cathryn Jakobson Ramin. When it came to my door, I immediately turned to the second half of the book which laid out what you should be doing if you have chronic back pain. The big ideas I took away were to continue moving and find a back champion – someone who understands the condition and can push you to strengthen your muscles that support your back.

Since getting the book, I’ve road tripped to Colorado and Kentucky, played tennis, walked miles and have had more confidence in my back than I have had in years. I also think I’ve found my back champion at Advanced Movement Studio in Appleton.  Since I’ve started seeing Andrew, I feel more comfortable in my movements and know that we are strengthening muscles that I may have never used in my life before.

Like I said, this will be my lifelong thing. I’m going to have to continue working at it every day. And I’m ok with that. It will force me to continue living a healthy lifestyle with physical movement being a high priority which is why I’m taking a break from catering. I need this time for me and once I have some more free time, I may pick it right back up.

So for a while I hope you enjoy my random posts about recipes and what I’m up to here in Appleton, Wisconsin. Any suggestions on what you want to read, let me know!

Cheers friends!

A Quick & Tasty Midweek Meal

Having a few weeks off from events means I get to play in the kitchen with my every day meals!  Last week, I packed up some fresh veggies and ventured over to one of my very favorite friend’s home.  We were inspired to try the trending Buddha Bowl and ended up tackling a really amazing Dragon Bowl – I don’t know the difference but the names are fun!  The recipe we started with was from The Blenderist – I was totally drawn to this recipe just because there was a peanut sauce.  Peanut sauce always wins in my book!

Here’s how we made our dragon bowls and just as a side note, we prepped the whole meal with Melissa’s three year old daughter who loved getting the veggies ready, peeling the shrimp and adding the items to the blender for the peanut sauce!  So I’d say this meal is definitely one the whole family can get involved in!

Dragon Bowls for 4-6 people:

  • 4-6 C of mixed veggies (Cauliflower, Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes)
  • 15 ou can of chickpeas – drained
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • 4 C of cooked Jasmine Rice
  • Boiled Eggs
  • Cooked Shrimp seasoned with Salt & Pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Chili Oil if you like things hot!

Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 C coconut milk
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1 in piece of peeled ginger
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1.5 tsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 tsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tsp Sriracha

Preheat the oven to 400.  Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into 1/2 inch slices.  Place all of the veggies and the drained chickpeas on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast the veggies for 30-40 minutes – until the sweet potatoes are soft.

While the veggies are roasting, make your peanut sauce.  Put all of the ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth.

Make your bowls!  Portion out the rice between your serving bowls.  Top with the roasted veggies, shrimp, boiled egg, cilantro and chili oil.  Drizzle the entire bowl with peanut sauce and enjoy!

Here is the recipe from The Blenderist: http://theblenderist.com/dragon-bowls-vegan-gluten-free/

Other items you could add to your bowl would be raw carrots and/or cucumbers to add a new crunch!  Or some wilted spinach!  The possibilities are endless!  And before I go, I’m going to leave you with my way of boiling eggs as people have been asking and my boyfriend has been obsessed with the slightly runny center lately – I think we just boiled 2 dozen the other night!

9 Minute Hard Boiled Eggs

Keep your eggs in the fridge as you boil your water – make sure you have enough boiling water to completely submerge the eggs.  Once it’s boiling, remove the eggs from the fridge and carefully place them into the boiling water.  Set your timer to 9 minutes.  Once the time is up, move the pan to the sink and carefully pour out the boiling water and run cold water over the eggs for a minute or two.  Add more time if you like your eggs harder or less if you like them softer!  And older eggs will peel better!

 

Take Me to the River Closing Event

I grew up and lived in Kaukauna, WI from birth until high school graduation.  My story doesn’t differ much from my fellow graduates who also had the itch to get out of our small town.  I was looking to meet new people, experience different cultures and have new experiences all together that I thought you could only get in bigger cities.  After four years in the Twin Cities, a semester abroad in Kenya and a year as an au pair in Finland, I found my 23 year old self back at my parents house in Kaukauna.

I think the feeling of failure is assumed when you wind up back in your childhood home as a young adult.  And for the first few months, that failure feeling definitely stuck with me until I started meeting new people, moved into my own apartment in Appleton and experienced new things that I didn’t know existed here in this quaint community that I now call home.

While I spend a lot of my time in Appleton, I still work in Kaukauna and know what’s happening in town.  And slowly but surely, cool things are starting to take place – things like an all day music festival in the summer, family movie nights in the park and most recently, a six week art exhibit in the old Thilmany’s mill now called Grand Kakalin.

To close out the Take Me to the River art exhibit, a party was a must.  And I was honored to be a part it thanks to abel insurance who was the food sponsor for the night.  It was so much fun to see a ton of new faces in Kaukauna enjoying a creative and unique experience.  I hope this is the first of many for my hometown.

 

 

Monsoon Mashup Event

Kyle Megna from Kyle Megna & the Monsoons is one hard working musician.  I get to see this first hand as I live with the man who happens to be my boyfriend as well.  The days and nights he spends booking, writing and practicing has turned him into a very successful musician as well as a creative and persistent business person.  Kyle is always looking for a listening crowd outside of the bars – the group of people that shut up when the music magic is happening and he is getting good in his search for the right place, environment and timing of his events.

When he first told me of his idea to host a night at The Algoma Club and incorporate art and food into the event, I knew it would be a hit.  The space was big, old and perfect for the night.  Dylan Stolley’s vibrant, bad-ass art was mashed up with some late night finger foods in the very back room – the room everyone eventually stopped in once they ordered their drinks at the bar.  When the first notes of Ross Catterton’s original tunes hit the space, everyone moved towards the stage where they all enjoyed a fantastic night of music by the Monsoon’s.

The sore feet, back ache and loads of dishes were totally worth it.  I hope this was the first Monsoon Mashup of many more to come!

A Pop Up Boutique Ladies Night

Hosting a ladies night for some bad ass women in the area has always been a dream of mine.  But let’s face it, not that many fabulous women want to party in a rented 750 square foot home with minimal places to sit and socialize.  So when AJ asked me to be a part of her Ladies Night at The Draw, I knew I had to make it work!

AJ’s idea for the night was to host a pop up boutique at the Draw.  The space was decked out with local artists’ one of a kind artwork – anything from jewelry, flower crowns, vintage clothing – all unique to the night.  These lady bosses are rocking it in the area and showcasing some really creative and unique work  – you should check a few of them out!

Not only were the artists amazing but the ladies that showed up to shop and socialize were also pretty rad and energetic. It was great to see so many new and some familiar faces in the crowd and really cannot wait until July’s event!

A few of these pictures were taken by Jean Detjen & Julia Huey – thanks for capturing the night ladies!

 

 

 

A Celebration of Success – BConnected, LLC

A five year anniversary for a social media start up deserves a party and that’s just how BConnected celebrated their accomplishment. Brad Cebulski began his company in the basement of his parents home. Today, he employs a team of creative, talented employees changing the way businesses manage their social media content. And I see many more successful years ahead for them!

Last Thursday, BConnected invited their clients to The Draw for a casual celebration. Acoustic tunes filled the space by my personal favorite musician, Kyle Megna. The food spread was picnic inspired complete with Stone Cellar Scottish Ale and social media fondant cupcakes. The attendees mingled and stuck around, enjoying the warm Appleton night.

MENU

  • French onion dip with potato chips
  • Caprese stuffed tomatoes
  • Homemade hamburger sliders with tarragon Russian dressing
  • Grilled sausage, pepper pasta salad
  • Smoked salmon mousse on cucumbers
  • Strawberry rhubarb handpies

A WAMI Celebration

How is it almost a month since the 2016 WAMI Awards and I haven’t posted yet about this night?!  It could have been the trauma of slicing my thumb open that same night or the week long Florida vacation that followed – either way, I’m sharing it with you now!

I have the most talented group of friends!  Not only were Kyle Megna & The Monsoons performing during the WAMIs but they were also nominated for a few of the major awards that night!  And to top it off, some of my very favorite ladies were there to help make the day even cooler!  Melissa Alderton Photography took some kick ass professional pictures for the band and a few for me to showcase my other amazing friend, Jillian, who is the queen of make up artistry in the area!  So many artistic people in one night called for a little party!  Here are just a few pictures from the night!

 

 

 

 

 

A Magical 25th Birthday Soiree

A few weeks back, Aubrey from the OuterEdge reached out to me looking for a Beauty and the Beast themed spread for a 25th birthday party.  Excited for an out of the ordinary theme request, I got to work and wondered what this Disney party would be like for a 25th birthday.  Let me tell you – it was magical.  The space was perfect – huge stained glass windows, dancing purple, red and yellow lights – you truly got the feeling that you just walked into the Beast’s castle.  Books, roses and candles were sprinkled around the space leaving plenty of room for the guests to mingle, drink, eat and sing karaoke!  And they sang!  This group was full of phenomenal singers!  The birthday girl rapped some Vanilla Ice for her adoring guests.  So many friends and family showed up to shower her with love and her best friend, Emily, did an amazing job pulling this night together for her.  I’m so glad I got to be a part of it!