Lamb with Tzatziki

On a lovely summer night what could be better than grilling and dining on the deck? Last night the hubby and I made lamb with tzatziki sauce. It was simple and delicious.

We started by marinating a small rack of lamb (16 very small chops) for about an hour in the marinade listed below. This was the perfect amount of food for us with a small bed of couscous, but could easily serve four people with a couple more side dishes. Tabbouleh or roasted potatoes would be great!


Marinade: Combine a teaspoon of chopped garlic, two tablespoons lemon juice, salt and pepper, a tablespoon fresh thyme, and three tablespoons olive oil in a food processor just until blended. Then pour into a plastic bag and add the individual chops. Marinate about an hour.

Grilling the lamb: Grill the lamb chops over direct heat at 450 degrees for about three minutes on each side.

Tzatziki: Whisk together one cup of Greek yogurt, three tablespoons vinegar, one teaspoon sugar, salad pepper, and a teaspoon of chopped fresh mint. Drizzle over meat or use as dip.




Pizza Night

Homemade pizza night is a favorite in our house. My two-year-old, husband, and I all love it, and the only side dish required is a simple lettuce salad.


When I have fresh basil on-hand like this gorgeous stuff from my herb garden, it becomes the star of the show. There are tons of great pizza dough recipes out there, but I often just grab a couple of pre-made crusts at the grocery store. Pillsbury canned pizza crust is also good.


I usually involve my daughter in topping the pizzas, but last night she had better things to do like playing in her new sandbox.

When it comes to topping pizzas, the possibilities are endless, but here are three of my favorites:


Margherita Artichoke (shown here): I spread about a cup of tomato sauce on my crust and cover with shredded mozzarella and artichoke hearts (I buy the kind packed in oil in a jar.) This time I threw some pepperoni on, too, per my hubby’s request. I bake for 12 minutes before topping with lots of fresh basil and baking for an additional minute to slightly wilt the basil. Fresh basil is a must!

Pear, Caramelized Onion, and Gouda: Instead of pizza sauce, I drizzle the crust with plenty of olive oil. I slice two pears very thinly along with one small red onion and sauté all in a skillet with yet more olive oil just for a few minutes. I layer the crust with thin slices of Gouda and then top with the pears and onions before baking about 12 minutes.

Prosciutto, Arugula, and Goat Cheese: Again, I drizzle the crust with olive oil and sprinkle on a little shredded mozzarella to hold things together. I layer on thin slices of prosciutto and crumble on  goat cheese. I bake it for about 12 minutes and then pile on a lot of fresh arugula.

Helpful Hint: We prefer a crispier crust in our house so I always bake the crust for a couple minutes before topping it regardless of if I’m using homemade dough, canned, or a pre-made crust.






The Cookies I Can’t Stop Making

I love these cookies. They’re healthy because of the oatmeal, right? I didn’t photograph a play-by-play on this one, but I have made these a couple of times in the last few weeks. They’re easy and will disappear quickly!


I found the recipe in a Land-O-Lakes ad. Fancy, right? Make these and you won’t be sad you did.


  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned or quick oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup M&Ms
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine the brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla and beat at medium speed until creamy.
  • Add the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat at low speed until well mixed.
  • Stir in the M&Ms and chocolate chips.
  • Drop dough by heaping teaspoons, a couple of inches apart, on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake approximately 11 minutes and allow to cool on the baking sheet for a minute before removing to a cooling rack.




Cooking Class and Tangy Tomato Vinaigrette

Last Sunday my friend Lacey and I were in the mood to do something a little different and we landed on this…


Chef Chris, who has worked in the exciting food scenes of Seattle and Portland before returning to the Black Hills, gave us a fun tutorial on shaking up brunch.


We made a BLT salad, peanut butter granola pancakes with homemade date syrup, and more.


Lacey, a registered dietitian, was a much better student than I was. Look: Those are actual notes on her menu. Dedicated! By the way, go check out her blog Edible Remarks for healthy and tasty meal recommendations.


Roberta, the chef’s assistant was hilarious. She had plenty of one-liners to amuse us while she cleaned up the kitchen and plated our delicious treats.


These open-faced smoked salmon sandwiches with avocado were refreshing and tasty.


Eggs Benedict with fool-proof hollandaise sauce was a favorite.


If you live in the Black Hills area and want to take a class, visit this link for more information. Sadly, they are taking a break from classes over the holidays, but will be back with a fresh line-up in March.

Here is one of the recipes from the class. We had this vinaigrette over grilled romaine lettuce.

Tangy Tomato Vinaigrette


  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or Sriracha sauce (optional)
  • Pinch of lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or chives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon (for sauté pan) olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add red onion and tomatoes. Cook until just softened, about two minutes.
  • Stir in cherry tomatoes and cook briefly, about two minutes.
  • Place contents of pan into a blender or food processor and add vinegar, Worcestershire, hot sauce, lemon zest, and parsley or chives. Blend together.
  • With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until completely incorporated.
  • Serve.
  • Can be saved in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies


This weekend featured rainy fall mornings made for baking cookies. My two-year-old is really into making Daddy cookies lately, so we got right to it yesterday. This peanut butter blossom recipe is an oldie-but-goodie from one of those family cookbooks most of us have in our collection.


I like to use the miniature Hershey’s Kisses. The rest of the ingredients are pretty basic.


A creamy mixture of peanut butter and shortening gets the ball rolling right. Then granulated and brown sugar are added as well as egg, a little milk, and vanilla. The flour, baking soda, and salt are then mixed in gradually.


Roll the cookies in granulated sugar before baking. My daughter loved helping with this part.

Just when the cookies come out of the oven, three mini kisses are placed on top so they melt slightly into the top of the cookie and look like a pretty little blossom. Happy fall baking, everyone!



  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup additional granulated sugar for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • Miniature Hershey’s Kisses
  • Heat the over to 375 degrees.
  • Beat the shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended.
  • Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/3 cup packed brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg, milk and vanilla. Beat well.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to peanut butter mixture, beating until well blended.
  • Shape the dough into one-inch balls.
  • Roll in granulated sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately place three kisses on top of each cookie, pressing down slightly.
  • Makes about 18 cookies (but I make my cookies fairly large!)

Shrimp, Strawberry, and Feta Salad

Hot summer days call for refreshing, yet satisfying dinners. We have been in a salad mood at our house and trying to come up with new combinations. My husband made an amazing steak salad for lunch Sunday so I tried to top that with this creation.


The savory roasted shrimp and crumbled feta balance out the sweetness of the fresh strawberries.


I like the Olde Thompson Fish and Seafood Seasoning to give the shrimp plenty of flavor. You can find it at most grocery stores. I bought this at Target.



Chopped shallots add flavor to the easy vinaigrette.


Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper round out the vinaigrette.



I use feta a lot. It is rich and creamy.



This is a perfect dinner for a hot summer night. Cheers to August!


  • About 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Olive oil to coat shrimp
  • Salt and pepper
  • Seafood seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • Greens (I used romaine)
  • 1 cup crumbled feta


  • Toss as much raw, peeled, and deveined shrimp as you like in olive oil and season. I used Olde Thompson Fish and Seafood Seasoning, available at Target.
  • Roast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Whisk together a tablespoon of chopped shallot, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and a little salt and pepper.
  • Arrange greens on plates. Cover with sliced strawberries and crumbled feta.
  • When shrimp is cooked and cools for a minute, arrange it on the salad.
  • Drizzle with vinaigrette.
  • Serve and enjoy!

A Date, A Picnic, and Going with The Flow

Last Saturday my parents kept my daughter for a sleepover so my husband and I could have a date night. We packed a picnic and headed to the Black Hills Playhouse.


The site of the playhouse also makes a perfect place for a romantic picnic. I had packed brie, Genoa salami, olives, fresh peaches, and a little wine.



After dining, we made our way into the playhouse for a sold-out production of Nunsense. As it turns out, our two seats were separated by a large post (load-bearing, I presume) so we would have been completely divided during a large portion of our much-needed date night. I decided I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my night with my hubby, even if it meant going home to play cribbage and drink the rest of the pinot grigio I packed.


I felt like a dweeb, but politely inquired at the box office about exchanging the tickets for another show later in the season. Because the show was sold-out, they would easily be able to sell them.

Do you feel bad complaining about things like this? I do. I used my most diplomatic voice and harnessed my years in public relations. The box office employee was quite friendly and we made someone else’s day because as soon as we released our tickets, some people were in line to grab them.



One thing parenting has definitely taught us is how to go with the flow. I wasn’t even disappointed to miss the play because I was so euphoric from our wonderful picnic, the brie, and the uninterrupted conversation next to the sparkling little creek. Time with this guy is worth complaining (politely) at a box office.



A Sweet Southern Farmstand

I hope everyone had a fantastic Fourth of July. I am back from a few days visiting in-laws and excited to share the last of my photos from our trip to Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. If you want to get me excited about something, incorporate great food with a quaint environment.

Virginia Farmstand (8)

Cullipher Farm Market in Virginia Beach is picture perfect. The produce is outstanding. Because we were staying in a hotel, we settled on some fresh peaches and raspberries, but I could really shop here every day.

Virginia Farmstand (10)

My brain was flooded with ideas of all the amazing cooking and baking that could be done with this incredible fresh produce.

Virginia Farmstand (6)

Virginia Farmstand (2)

Virginia Farmstand (3)

Virginia Farmstand (4)

One of the best parts of traveling is stumbling upon some of these roadside gems. We  devoured the fresh, juicy peaches and sweet raspberries in our rental car. Sorry, Hertz.

Virginia Farmstand (9)




Sour Cream Rhubarb Muffins

Hooray for rhubarb. Every summer, enough rhubarb grows in the back corner of my garden for just a couple of recipes. It’s the perfect amount to enjoy and keep rhubarb a special treat for only a few times a year.


Any time I use chopped rhubarb, I sprinkle it with a little sugar before putting it in the recipe. It brings out the juices and softens it.


These easy muffins start with brown sugar and butter, creamed together.


Eggs and sour cream are added.


Then flour, baking soda, and cinnamon.



Then the rhubarb goes into the mixture.


One thing I always have on hand is cute muffin papers. I usually grab them in the food section at T.J. Maxx.



Sprinkling the muffins with cinnamon and sugar before baking creates a delicious crust on top.



Bake for a half hour and enjoy!



  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, plus a bit more for sprinkling over rhubarb


  • Sprinkle chopped rhubarb with sugar and let sit while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cream together the brown sugar and butter.
  • Add sour cream and eggs. Mix well.
  • Sift together flour, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • Stir flour mixture into the sour cream mixture until moistened.
  • Fold in the rhubarb.
  • Pour batter into a muffin pan lined with papers.
  • Mix together sugar and remaining cinnamon and sprinkle over batter.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Makes at least 12 muffins.
  • Enjoy!




Watermelon Mojitos

Some days just call for a drink with an umbrella in it. These watermelon mojitos are ultra refreshing. They’re pretty, too.


Start by making simple syrup. Stir one cup sugar into one cup water and heat on medium until the sugar is dissolved. Then chill the mixture in the refrigerator while you mix the rest of the drink.


Puree watermelon in a food processor or blender. You’ll need approximately two cups of the puree. I left mine a little chunky, which made the mojitos slushy and delicious.


What happens when you live in a tiny town and the only grocery store is sold out of fresh mint? Your hubby picks up mint water and you discover it is fabulous for making mojitos. Pour about 3/4 of a cup of the mint water into a large pitcher.


Add 12 ounces of rum.


Then add your watermelon puree, three tablespoons of lime juice, and the simple syrup. Pour over ice, garnish with something cute, and enjoy!



  • 2 cups pureed watermelon
  • 12 ounces rum
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup mint water
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice


  • Make simple syrup by dissolving 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water over medium heat and chilling in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
  • Puree watermelon. You’ll need about two cups.
  • Pour 3/4 cup of mint water in a large pitcher.
  • Add rum, lime juice, and watermelon puree.
  • Finally, add simple syrup and stir.
  • Serve over ice and garnish, garnish, garnish. A spear of watermelon would be adorable, but I used all mine up for the puree.
  • Enjoy!