Monthly Archives: September 2012

Winery tour at Jowler Creek… Second September recipe test with Anna!

Anna and I toured the Jowler Creek winery and while fulfilling an item on my manifesto we had a blast! It was a lovely day and the perfect precursor to our second September recipe test at my apartment.

The winery owner’s dog, Merlot:

Several of the winery chickens:

Their Olde English Babydoll sheep that are used to control the grass and weed growth in part of the vineyard:

We had a blast on the tour – very informative and interesting to see even though all of the grapes had been picked early because of the drought. Check out the video I took  on the tour:

Back in the barn we commenced with the tasting:

My favorite was the Chambourcin, followed closely by the Norton:

Back at my place I livened it up with a few wild sunflowers I clipped from the side of the gravel road on the way back:

Cast of Characters for the Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi:

Adding the heavy cream:

… and the butter and the goat cheese:

Cast of Characters for the Caprese Salad:

Making the balsamic reduction:

Add adding it to Anna’s beautifully chopped tomatoes and mozzarella:

Pretty table.. and time to eat!




Fun day at the winery and cooking and conversation- and Disney’s ‘Aladin’ after dinner. Check out the winery at

Recipe: Pasta ai Quattro Formaggi

Prep Time: 10 Minutes  |  Cook Time: 10 Minutes  |  Difficulty: Easy  |  Servings: 8


  • 1 pound Angel Hair Pasta
  • 1/2 cup Grated Fontina Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Grated Romano Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Goat Cheese (chevre)
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 whole Garlic Clove, Peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Minced Fresh Parsley

Preparation Instructions

Heat cream in a small saucepan on the stove over low heat.

Rub garlic clove all over the inside of a large serving bowl.

Cook pasta according to package directions in lightly salted water, leaning toward the al dente side. Do not overcook! Drain pasta, then return to the cooking pot. Pour in cream, add butter, and add cheeses and salt and pepper. Stir gently to combine, adding hot pasta water as needed for consistency. Don’t overmix; if there are little clumps of cheese here and there, it’s fine! Taste and add more salt if needed. Mixing stage should happen very quickly.

Turn pasta into large serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately with a nice medium rare steak.

*Can use whatever four cheeses you’d like!

Recipe: Caprese Salad

Prep Time: 5 Minutes  |  Cook Time: 20 Minutes  |  Difficulty: Easy  |  Servings: 8


  • 2 cups Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 whole Ripe Tomatoes, Sliced Thick
  • 12 ounces, weight Mozzarella Cheese, Sliced Thick
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Olive Oil, For Drizzling
  • Kosher Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preparation Instructions

In a small saucepan, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium-low heat. Cook for 10 to 20 minutes, or until balsamic has reduced to a thicker glaze. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl or cruet. Allow to cool.

When you’re ready to serve, arrange tomato and mozzarella slices on a platter. Arrange basil leaves between the slices. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the salad, getting a little bit on each slice. Do the same with the balsamic reduction, making designs if you want. Store extra balsamic reduction in fridge for a later use.

End with a sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper.



Emma, by Jane Austen was published at the end of 1815, and was the last of her novels to be published during her lifetime. This novel departs from Austen’s others as Emma is the first heroine with no financial concerns. She also spends her time playing matchmaker instead of attempting to find someone to marry- which is a central theme of the other novels.

Although Emma means well she bungles many of her matchmaking endeavors. However, she is always forgiven by each of the characters that she offends. Maybe that’s because even though she can be vain and snotty and a crummy friend she has the decency to feel badly about her mistakes, has realistic expectations of people, and is the most creative character in the novel. That is probably the basis of why the reader likes Emma so much and is on her side no mater what she does wrong – she’s likable but not infallible, the perfect Austen heroine.

Of course since this is an Austen novel she still ends up with her own guy- Mr. Knightley. He’s really the only one who can handle her, and probably the only gentleman ultimately that she would be able to put up with as well. Emma and Mr. Knightley have known each other for years and have been fighting, advising and laughing with each other the entire time. Mr. Knightley is Emma’s standard of good behavior, and is as intelligent as she is- which means he’s the one character she can flex her formidable brain-powers with. It is from Mr. Knightley that we get our quote, “If I loved you less I might be able to talk about it more.” 🙂

Next up on the Austen novel list- Persuasion.

Emmys Fashion 2012

64th Annual Emmys = Fashion.

And without further ado I present my top 10 favorites from this evening’s ceremonies:

10- Glenn Close

Very architectural dress- feminine and strong!:

9- Padma Lakshmi

Silhouette, Silhouette, Silhouette!

8- Julianne Hough

Julianne is 5′ 4″ and this dress makes her look 6′ 2″! I love the sequins at the bottom of the dress and the silhouette:

7- Sarah Hyland

Love the details and the sparkle:

6- Emily Vandercamp

This one mixes architecture and romance:

5- Giuliana Rancic

The styling (and the dress) are killer:

4- Nancy O’Dell

Love the silhouette and the color gradation:

3- Lucy Liu

Metal magic- the structure is awesome:

2- Hayden Panettiere

Love the structure underneath this Indian inspired wrap gown from Marchesa and the colors used:

1- Kerry Washington

Simple elegance, and the movement of this dress was stunning:

Love the dresses! Can’t wait until the upcoming awards ceremonies for the next round of gowns!

Click here to see my picks for last year’s Grammys and Academy Awards.

Football season starts!!… 1st September recipe test with Anna!

September 15th was the first conference football game at KU- and our TCU’s first conference game in the Big 12. I’d like to say we welcomed them with a nice pounding on the field… but I can’t. They beat us- although not as badly as originally anticipated. Anna and I had a great time at the game anyway. The day started cloudy and became a beautiful sunny day. The game was entertaining, an artist was painting the moment live, and I got a wicked sun burn on the left side of my face. All in all not a bad way to kick off the college football season!


After the game back at Anna’s apartment we enjoyed the MOST DELICIOUS CUPCAKES EVER ALMOST EVER– tied with those from ‘Georgetown Cupcake’– that Anna made for my birthday! Check out the recipe she so graciously shared at the end of the blog!

The cast of characters for the cupcakes:


The cast of characters for our side dish- parmesan roasted potatoes:

Oh yeah- they look tasty already:


The cast of characters for the main dish- mozzarella grilled cheese:

How in the heck do you melt all that mozzarella cheese? I think I’d try it with a different cheese next time:

Louie was sound asleep even through all of my hollering and cheering during the KState vs. North Texas game on tv:

The final product! Lessons learned:

1. Use a different type of cheese and/or cut it a lot thinner.

2. Boil the potatoes until they are completely done before you cook them. Unless you really like crunchy potatoes.

3. Have Anna make this cupcake recipe for dessert all the time!

Sunburned and tired- but it was a fun day!



Grilled Mozzarella Sandwiches

  • Yield Makes 4 servings


  • 1 pound fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 4 equal pieces about 3-inches by 4-inches
  • 8 1/2-inch thick firm white sandwich bread
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, leaves
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • A grating of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. Place the mozzarella on 4 slices of the bread. Cover with the remaining slices to form sandwiches. Trim the crusts off to make perfect 4-inch squares.
  2. In a wide shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the cream, thyme leaves, salt, and nutmeg. Whisk until well blended.
  3. In a 10 to 12-inch nonstick saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook until the sizzling subsides. Dip 2 of the sandwiches into the egg mixture, turning to coat, place in the pan, and cook until golden brown on the first side, about 2 minutes. Flip over and brown on the other side. Transfer the sandwiches to individual plates and repeat the process with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, and 2 sandwiches. Cut in half, and serve immediately.


  • 9-10 small baby Dutch yellow potatoes
  • 3-4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil a large pot of water and boil the potatoes for 4-5 minutes. Remove from water and let cool. Once cooled, slice into quarters and combine with olive oil, garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper as well as the Parmesan. Mix thoroughly and place in a baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.Place into the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and taste, re season with sea salt, cracked pepper, or garlic powder if needed. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy.


Adorable Applesauce Cupcakes

(Anna didn’t decorate them the way they state in the recipe, that’s up to you!)

Applesauce is a low-fat alternative to oil in baked goods. Plus, it keeps cupcakes moist and adds a subtle fresh flavor.


  • 1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon red paste food color
  • 1 container Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy vanilla frosting
  • 12 thin pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
  • 16 spearmint leaf gumdrops
  • 12 gummy worm candies, cut in half, if desired


    1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
    2. In large bowl, beat cupcake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
    3. Bake 18 to 23 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pans 10 minutes; carefully remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
    4. Stir paste food color into frosting in container. Spread frosting over cupcakes.
    5. To decorate cupcakes, poke 1 pretzel piece into each cupcake for stem. Cut each gumdrop leaf into 3 slices. Poke 2 gumdrop leaves into top of each cupcake on either side of pretzel stem. Poke half of gummy worm into each cupcake. Store loosely covered.

Apple orchard birthday party!

September 9, 2012- my birthday!

We celebrated by going to the family owned Fieldstone Orchard in Overbrook, KS to have a picnic lunch, open gifts, and pick apples from their family owned orchard. We had a magical afternoon. 🙂

If you have never been to an apple orchard before this one will spoil you. With the picnic area they have set up, their country store- and the customer service from the greeting to waving you goodbye with your goodies, it’s tops. I was worried it would be brown and dusty after the drought we Midwesterners have been experiencing, but that wasn’t the case at all. It’s seriously a really pretty place!! Even with the drought it manages to look like this:

We had our picnic lunch and gift opening at the provided picnic tables. It was such a beautiful sunny day and a beautiful location. They had grape vines growing from the pergola- with dried up grapes- that nevertheless were very charming. A lunch of Subway sandwiches, dried apple slices, chips and lemon bars for my ‘birthday cake’ along with the best company and a sunny day was just what the doctor ordered:

After eating and gifts- thanks fam! -we loaded up in a couple of golf carts with three buckets- two for apples and one for the asian pears and several picker things and took off into the orchard. They are so nice and accommodating- one of the golf cart drivers took our picture, and they even let us borrow a fold-up chair for my grandma to sit on while we picked apples:

The apple picking commences!:

It was fun picking the apples- and messing around…


Jousting with the pickers:

Re-creating William Tell’s apple shot:

And generally messing around:

Then we got back to apple picking:

We had way too much fun:

And we got a LOT:

Picking apples at the Fieldstone was a fantastic way to spend my birthday and complete another item on my manifesto!

Can’t wait to go back for berry season! 🙂

Check them out here:

September 11, 2001- Never forget

On September 11, 2001 I was a sophomore in high school. It was senior week and as a sophomore (the youngest grade in our high school) all of us little sophomore girls were dressed in our senior’s brother’s oversized shirts and hats for ‘Dress like a Man’ day. We heard the news when my first hour chemistry teacher’s wife called him twice and he actually answered her second call because it was so unusual for her to contact him when she knew he had a class. The rest of the day was a blur of catching glimpses of the TV in the media room, and suspended classes to talk about what was going on. It was a wake up call in my perfect world.

Today, eleven years after the attack I’m going to remember what happened that day and in the years since in my own way- through a poem called a sestina:

They wanted us to break

So they decided to attack

There was dust and smoke

Lives lost and families broken

But they cannot chain our hope

We will always remember


In the silence we remember

The day they tried to make us break

On wings of eagles flies our hope

That cannot be stopped by an attack

We are not the ones that are broken

Their dream went up in the smoke


Like the smoke

That hung in the air we will endure and remember

Our strength was not broken

There was nothing they could do to make us break

So we decided to attack

Upon retaliation we based our hope


For years in vain did we hope

He escaped in the wind like smoke

We set up a plan of attack

Knowing he would remember

That he tried to make us break

Before he was broken


After he was broken

We cheered for the realization of what had been our hope

For the demise of the man who had tried to make us break

But the joy felt was like smoke

Because the next day we remember

There is no righteous human retaliation for one weak man’s attack


Still we do not regret our attack

Because it proves we are not broken

It serves as a closed chapter and helps us remember

What is really our hope

It cannot go up in smoke

And because of it we will never break


What they really intended to break is a bond they could never attack

We have seen the smoke, and we have felt the pain and are not broken

The strength of our people is our hope, from this act we will always remember


Feeding time at the zoo!

My parents and I spent the morning of September 3rd at the Topeka zoo and we had a blast!We got there early planning to also leave early before it got too hot.

*Fall? Where are you my friend?*

We started out at the giraffes. I’ve always liked them because I’m tall too. The similarities end there. But still. No pictures, sorry. My camera failed me.

We then checked out the new penguin exhibit. I think it will get better with more money and more time. I can see how it would be fun for a group of kids with a tour guide though. They should check out the exhibit in Omaha, NE for some pointers. They have a fantastic exhibit there.

We meandered through the ‘quiet’ garden, which was really very pretty- where I adjusted their sun dial, hello daylight savings time! Then we went to the domed jungle. It was one of my favorite areas- for starters it was actually air-conditioned, crazy! They had all sorts of birds like this guy having his lunch:

Dad found a big bunch of bananas, with something funny growing out of the bottom:

They had a waterfall with a couple of pink flamingos enjoying their lunch:

My parents- having a blast:

I was LOVING the light in the jungle!:

Next we wandered over to the hippo area. That brought back memories. It’s one of the few things I remembered from coming here in elementary school (probably the last time I was here). That and the sculptural play park. That was so much fun. Anyway… back to the hippos. They were so cute lounging outside snuggling. I titled this one ‘Hippo love’:

I slid away from the hippos and tigers- where they had misters going. Flat wet concrete and my $2.50 Old Navy flip flops DO NOT mix. A younger girl was a little more unlucky than me and totally ate it.

The elephants were funny. When they figured out it was lunch time they all lumbered over like it was the best part of their day. They had to do a trick to get their bale of hay:

The lions were out and about even though it was getting hotter! As usual it was a ‘whip-out-a-movie-line-obscure-or-otherwise’ kind of day, and I had to sing “If I were King of the Forrrreesssttt!!! And I RUFF! and I RUFF!”  from ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Totally embarrassed my parents. Tehe! Check out the Lion’s classic song:

Anyway, this guy’s the boss. You can just tell:

Then we met Tiffany, the 44 year old Western Lowland Gorilla. When she’s excited, she claps and pats her belly, (according to the sign). I think she was mostly embarrassed of me. Oh well, at least I wasn’t singing any Jungle Book songs!:

I had to go pose by this crazy tall (extinct) penguin. The zoo should fill in the dirt on the bottom though, these things never accurately portray your height. I should be taller than this penguin at 6′:

We had to see the black bears before we left for lunch, they were so cute! It was feeding time here as well. I think they just fed whichever animals we were viewing at the time or something! This big guy (who still has at least 100 more pounds to gain!) was standing up for his head of lettuce from a zoo employee:

Last but not least were the bald eagles. It always makes me a little sad to see these guys caged, but it looked like they were at least being well cared for. Plus there are two of them so they have company!:

As we were leaving we passed the native Kansas animals, including some otters. They were stinking cute. So fuzzy and quick swimming around in the water! I couldn’t get a good picture of them just like the penguins, they are too darn fast for my camera.

The heat was soaring well into the 90’s when we left for lunch with my grandparents- which was delicious, and also a very fun time- at Coyote Canyon. I totally recommend it- it’s like Golden Coral, except a little bit cheaper, but with not quite as good mac and cheese and sweet rolls. Although theirs are still exceptional. 🙂

Moral of the story- go to your local zoo, whether it be the Topeka zoo or wherever. They’re fun, and informational! Also sing songs from movies in public as frequently as possible. 😉