Norman is 10: A Cupcake Recipe for Dogs and People

Norman turns 10 today so it was only natural that his sisters and I made cupcakes for our celebration. This banana and peanut butter cupcake recipe is delicious and safe for dogs, and, well, OK, for us humans, too. The main thing is that the birthday boy enjoyed his.


This recipe was adapted from a few different ones I found online. I like that it makes just 5 regular-size cupcakes. They’re definitely a little bland for us humans, but Norm gobbled them right up. The girls actually devoured theirs, too. I think that was due to the cream cheese frosting on top.


I used canned cream cheese frosting for these cupcakes, but scraped almost all of Norm’s frosting off before serving it to him. There are a lot of decent pet-friendly frosting recipes online, too. Happy birthday, dear boy. You really, really need a haircut, but we love you so much anyway.




  • 1/2 cup plain white flour ounces of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 medium banana, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons of water


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together flour and baking soda and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter, mashed banana, egg, and water until combined.
  • Stir in the flour mixture and mix until smooth.
  • Spoon into a muffin pan lined with cupcake papers.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Allow to cool before topping with frosting of your choice, or leave plain for your pooch.

Boca, Cincinnati

I love trying new restaurants so you know Boca in Cincinnati is pretty outstanding if I ended up eating there two of the three nights we stayed in the Queen City. The food, service, and ambience were out of this world.


Boca does a great Midwestern take on Italian cuisine.

Cincinnati August 2017 (8)

David, our server, was the best. This guy could serve me stale bread and I would still think he was great.


But no stale bread here. Far from it. Instead I ordered the corn cappallacci, which were little homemade pasta pockets with sweet corn and black truffle. I can still smell it now. It was one of the very best things I have ever eaten.


The restaurant’s signature dish are these delectable pommes soufflées. These puffed potatoes are a nod to the old building the restaurant occupies. They are so complicated that the chef that one out of every three batches gets thrown out. And they’re divine.


Boca was a delicious find I will not be forgetting.



I think it would be worth a trip to Cincinnati just for the corn cappallaci and pommes soufflées.



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.






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.

Québec and the Lake Champlain Islands

It is hard to believe it has been three weeks since my mother and I took our journey to Vermont. One of the days we took a road trip through the Lake Champlain Islands to Québec.


We visited the little French Canadian town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and had a very French Canadian lunch. So French Canadian, in fact, that no one at the restaurant spoke English and the menu was entirely in French.


We navigated our way through the menu since we know words like brie, bèchamel, and crêpes, and had a delightful lunch.




Sometimes getting out of one’s comfort zone, even if it is only for lunch, feels oh-so-good.


After lunch, we hopped in our rental car and headed back to Vermont. It was a fun little journey and now I can say I have actually been to Canada, despite living only a couple hours south of the Canadian border for a while right after college.


Au revoir, Québec.


Best Ice Cream Ever: Salt & Straw

Confession: I’m not a huge ice cream fan. Weird, I know. However, sometimes the mood strikes and I have to have ice cream immediately. When this happened while we were in Portland, I was pleased when I typed “nearby ice cream” into my cell phone and discovered a Salt & Straw location nearby. I had heard of it before because it was featured on Food Network’s Top 5 Ice Creams in America and in Food & Wine magazine.


Because our daughter was sleeping in the back seat, my husband pulled up to the curb and I ran in to pick out a pint and three spoons for the three of us to share. There were so many fantastic-sounding flavors available such as Honey Lavender and Oregon Peaches with Toasted Walnuts.


I opted for Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache and it was the best ice cream I have ever had.


Sadly, the only locations are in Portland and Los Angeles, but, fear not, because Salt & Straw offers monthly shipments anywhere in the United States. The price is a little high, but if you’re a major ice cream enthusiast looking for a fix, it would be fun. If you get a chance, try Salt & Straw. Tell them Katie sent you. And then they’ll look at you funny because they have no idea who I am.


Tangy Tarragon Potato Salad

My husband and I prefer potato salads that are a little more on the vinaigrette side and less on the mayo side. This one fits the bill. It features some mayo, but the champagne vinegar makes it tangy and delightful.


I dumbed this down from a recipe by my girl the Barefoot Contessa. I cut down the number of ingredients significantly and I used red potatoes instead of Yukon Gold.


If it was just me eating it, I would have left the red peels on because I like the color and flavor, but we had company for dinner and not everyone is into that kind of thing.

So peel, chop, and boil your potatoes until fork-tender. Drain them and put them in a pretty bowl.


Mix up the following: 1 cup mayo, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, 2 teaspoons tarragon, 1 teaspoon dill, and a little black pepper. Pour it over your potatoes.

If you have fresh tarragon and dill, please please please use it! I love fresh herbs but sadly, they are not available to me all that often since I live in the middle of nowhere in a usually snowy climate.

I don’t like telling you what to do, but listen up right now: Pour the dressing on while the potatoes are still hot. This makes a big difference on the overall texture and helps the potatoes really absorb the dressing.


I served this alongside the burgers my husband grilled for a meal full of summery goodness.


  • Peel, chop and boil 6-8 large potatoes (I used red, but you can switch it up!) until fork-tender.
  • Drain potatoes and place in bowl.
  • Mix together 1 cup mayo, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 cup champagne vinegar, 2 teaspoons tarragon, 1 teaspoon dill, and a little black pepper.
  • Pour dressing over potatoes while still warm.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.