Monthly Archives: October 2014

Recipe: Pot Roast and Risotto



It’s officially sweater weather! You can bet I broke out the slow cooker right when the air started getting crisp.

I have a love/hate relationship with the slow cooker. It is a magical tool, allowing one to leave a big raw piece of meat with vegetables in it in the morning, only to come back to a fully cooked meal at the end of the day with minimal fuss. And you can’t beat the smell. Throughout the day, the aroma in the kitchen keeps getting better, warmer, more meaty and delicious. On the other hand, sometimes whatever is cooked in it comes out a misshapen, mushy mess with all the flavor notes blended together in a bland, bleh way. (I could also very well be making the wrong things too.)

I’ve been on a mission to find great slow cooker recipes that are both easy to make yet still pretty to look at and eat! This week, I think I found one.

The idea started with this post. Pot roast and risotto, what a killer comfort food combination! I was in. After perusing the selection at Whole Foods, I ended up going with a chuck roast and a Porcini and Red Wine pot roast starter from Red Forks. I was looking for something super easy and quick to make for the week because it was going to be a busy one. If you have more time, here is a pretty comparable recipe from Epicurious that sounds amazing as well.

At home, I cut up an onion and a couple garlic cloves and placed them at the bottom of the cooker. I then browned the roast and rested it on top of the onions and garlic. After pouring the sauce and a cup of broth over the roast, I left it alone in the slow cooker for 6 hours.  The meat was fork tender and easy to pull apart by evening. To serve, I spooned slices of the roast with the au jus on top of the parmesan risotto, garnishing the dish with some minced parsley. It turned out so well and was both simple enough for a weeknight yet elegant enough for entertaining.  With a glass of red, this meal makes a perfectly cozy end to a fall day.

Parmesan Risotto

3 tsp Olive Oil
46 oz Chicken Broth, warmed
1 lb Arborio Rice
3 oz grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp onion powder
ground pepper to taste
In large skillet, evenly coat rice with olive oil. Add 1 cup of heated chicken broth, stirring continually. Maintain a slow boil and add rest of broth, 1 cup at a time, while stirring continually. When all the broth is absorbed, add cheese, onion powder and pepper.

Eugsters Farm

A fall family tradition is going to a pumpkin patch each year.  So a couple weekends ago we headed to Eugsters Farm.  I’m not going to lie we were a little bummed prior to going because for the last two years we have always taken Nola to Lemo’s Farm back in CA and it seemed sad we couldn’t take her there again.  But thankfully the farm and day exceeded our expectations and we had a wonderful time.  We miss you Lemo’s, but we are moving forward and that feels good too!

Eugster’s had a lot of farm animals and if you read this blog regularly or know our child she loves all animals.  So basically she was in her little toddler Heaven.  The highlight of the day for Nola was feeding the baby goats with a bottle.  I thought that was an awesome thing that Eugster’s allowed the kiddos to do and Nola still talks about it!  The weather was that perfect WI fall weather, Nola was having a blast seeing all the animals and I just felt overwhelmed with thankfulness spending the day with my people.

Here are some photos of the day if you care to see:

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I  know it’s Halloween week already, but if you live in the Madison area and still want to visit a pumpkin patch I highly recommend this farm!!  If you want to see our trip to Lemo’s pumpkin patch last year, check it out HERE.

DIY Dyed Pasta Necklaces

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Hey Guys!  Here’s a simple craft that I did with Nola this week and think it’s the perfect activity to do during these cold months with any toddler.  We have all seen this craft so this isn’t something innovative or a new craft I’m sharing with you, but rather, ‘remember when we did this when we were little, it still is a good one to do!


– 2 boxes of Rigatoni
– food coloring
– rubbing alcohol
– gallon ziploc bags
– stiff string (works best for little toddlers so they can string the pasta easily)


1.  Add approx. 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol to each color of food coloring you are using.  The amount of food coloring is more trial and error, I used the gel food coloring and ended up using quite a bit because I wanted my pasta to be as vibrant as possible.

2.  Make sure the rubbing alcohol and food coloring is thoroughly mixed together and set aside.

3.  Divide half a box of pasta into a gallon ziploc bag, which allows the pasta to not be overcrowded in each bag.

4.  Pour each food coloring and rubbing alcohol mixture into one of the ziploc bags, seal it up and shake and spread mixture throughout pasta in bag.  This could be a great task for maybe a 3 year old?  Not something I had my 2 year old do however.  If you have your little one help, double bag!!  Continue doing step #2 with however many colors you are doing, I did four.

5.  Set the bags of pasta onto baking sheets, spreading pasta out in one layer.  Let it set in the bag for an hour so the pasta can really absorb the color.

6.  Line baking pans with parchment paper or tin foil and pour pasta out of the bags and spread out.  The pasta should be dry in 1 to 2 hours.  I set mine out overnight.

7.  Cut long pieces of stiff string and let your toddler create the cutest pasta necklaces you will see!  (*tip, tie a pasta at one end so when they string the pasta it doesn’t fall off the other end)

*** the alcohol seals the color in the pasta and avoids any concern of the color getting on their little hands, furniture, clothes, etc.***

Nola was really intrigued by the colorful pasta and excited to make the necklaces, however 10 minutes into the project she had enough of it.  Which lets be honest, sometimes after getting everything ready you question was it worth it?  But what was great was that later that day she did it again with CJ and seemed to really enjoy it!  We just keep the pasta out and whenever she feels like it we set it all out.  This is a great project that requires them to use their motor skills.  We also told her to make some Necklaces with name for her cousins which she was excited about.  Yay for teaching them young how fun it is to make something for others, am I right?

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Milwaukee Weekend Trip

Since we moved back to the Midwest we have been busy trying to meet up and do as much stuff with our family and friends.  Probably so much in fact, we haven’t done as much as we would like in the Madison area.  But we aren’t complaining and it really is great to be in this close of proximity to some of our favorite people.

Awhile back we went to Milwaukee for the weekend.  CJ grew up near there and I went to college at UW-Milwaukee, so of course it has a special place in our hearts.  The first evening we went to Lakefront Brewery for their Friday fish fry.  So here’s the thing non-WI peeps, Friday fish fry’s are a big deal in WI, it’s kind of in the same category with beer, cheese and the Packers.  So yeah, sometimes we go to fish fry’s.  If you question if you should take your toddler to Lakefront Brewery’s fish fry I’d tell you in a heartbeat TAKE THEM!  They have a polka band, and literally the dance floor was packed with little kids.  We got there early and I think most parents had the same idea and Nola had a blast.  They have a bubble machine, I mean come on, this was a good deal.

We stayed at the Pfister Hotel, which was sooo nice!  If you need to stay at a hotel downtown Milwaukee stay here!  We always try to stay at hotel’s that have pools because Nola loves swimming.  Their pool was on the top floor and had amazing views which was a bonus.  The next day we went on a Milwaukee River Cruise.  If you don’t have a crabby toddler I recommend it!!  But hey that’s life, some things work and are great, others we just try to survive!

Overall this was a great little weekend trip and look forward to doing more of them!!  Here’s some photos of the weekend if you care to see:

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Happy Friday!

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Hey Peeps, so glad it’s Friday!  I will always be happy when Friday strolls around because that means 2 full days with my favorite guy.  Isn’t life just more fun when your hubby’s there to hang with you the entire time!?  Here are a couple of things we have been up this week:

I have started trying to do daily crafts or activities with Nola that involve the seasons.  So of course we are focusing on everything Fall.  After doing some research on 2 year old home schooling curriculum there really isn’t a ton out there because lets face it, she’s still pretty young!  Plus I believe and read over and over again just good ‘ole play can teach her so much.  But I am trying to get into regular ‘activities’ during the day and get in a bit more structure.   We are thinking that once she turns 3 we will start her with a part-time preschool.

I am still up in the air on what Nola’s going to be, but I am a devout DIY’er on her halloween costumes in the past and they often take awhile to make so I need to get on this!  Nola still isn’t quite sure about what Halloween is all about so we show her picture of kids in costumes.  I think she will be some sort of animal.  I will keep you posted on what she ends up being.  If you are needing some ideas on how you can get your home ready for the Halloween season, here is a pacman garland I shared last year.  It’s super easy and there’s a template you can download and print to make your life that much easier!

One day we made oatmeal craisin cookies and homemade pizza.  If you have a 2 year old they are the perfect age to help make those things and I highly recommend it!

Yesterday was the most beautiful fall day in Madison and in the evening I was able to go to hear Molly Wizenberg speak.  I actually have mentioned her previously on the blog, but she is an author to two books, contributor to Bon Appetit and has her own food blog called Orangette.  Since reading Molly’s blog I have always wanted to be her friend and I’m happy to say she’s as delightful in person as what you imagine she would be.  Something that I thought was great that she said last night was the reason why writer’s write.  Molly said she’s met a lot of writers who say they do what they do because it’s air to them, we hear that a lot in the creative community, however the reason she writes is because it helps her process and fully understand what she’s thinking or feeling about a certain area in her life.  I really love that!

I got my first order of essential oils!!  I know that essential oils are the biggest fad right now, but I’m so excited to try them out for myself and see how they work for us.  I will keep you posted!

Lastly I was able to meet up with my cousin this morning and I kind of love that moving to the Midwest I’m able to do that.  Of course I don’t want to mention our kid’s were a bit nuts in the department store and I decided I need to do more errands after my child’s in bed because she tends to decide to be the naughtiest she can be during these outings.  These ‘terrible two’s’ are no joke and we are experiencing them head-on.  Bless that girl’s heart though, for the most part she’s so-so good, and I know it’s a phase we all experience.

Hope you all had a good week and fun-planned weekend!