Monthly Archives: September 2015

Birthday Weekend


What do you do when your birthday falls on a Saturday and you have tickets to a Monday night Packer game?

You make a weekend of it!

First, your husband drives you 3 and a 1/2 hours to visit the brewery that makes your favorite beer.IMG_4235

Yes, we made the trek all the way to Amherst, Wisconsin to visit the taproom.


While there was only one beer on tap that I hadn’t had before, I did partake in sipping a couple of their specialty beers that are aged in bourbon barrels…


I enjoyed a Call Me Old Fashioned (American Red/Amber Ale aged in whiskey barrels with oranges and maraschino cherries) and the newest batch of Headless Heron Barrel Aged Pumpkin Spice Ale. I had the CMOF once in Green Bay at the Central Waters Tap Takeover at Adams Street Pub in Green Bay. This one is not bottled nor available in a Growler; so I knew this was my opportunity to have it at the source. The Headless Heron tasted extra spicy to me compared to last year!

The taproom wasn’t too busy; but there was a steady stream of a few customers here and there coming and going that kept the bartender busy. I would have liked their list of beers to have descriptions.


The Central Waters taproom itself was a bit underwhelming. I think it would have been more fun if there was an event and it was more hopping. But I enjoyed those special beers on tap nonetheless!

We finished off with a Nitro Puppy – the Mudpuppy Porter on nitro!

IMG_4234 Then, with a new pint glass and hoodie in hand, we left the fields of Amherst. But that was not the end of our day. Rob had much more in store!

You see, one of my dad’s favorite breweries – O’so, is less than 15 miles away. Rob had booked a hotel room right there in Plover so we we could dine, enjoy some more brews and stay the night!

After a quick check-in at the Comfort Inn, we walked in the direction of the brewery. While I don’t think Plover is meant to be walkable, it only took us about 5 to 10 minutes to get to Village Park – a little strip mall that housed the brewery, and as it turns out, our lunch spot.

We found Christian’s Bistro online when we were mapping everything out on The Google. It had rave reviews! It’s a bit of a higher end restaurant for little Plover, Wisconsin. The original chef worked under Emeril Lagasse.


I didn’t want to go there for dinner, however. I thought that it would end up being an expensive one that I would not have appreciated fully after all of those beers we intended to drink at O’so.

Luckily, they were open for lunch. If there is any tip I can offer you about dining and traveling, it is to have lunch at the higher end or fancier restaurants you want to try. You’ll spend less money, but the food will still be just as good! You will also, most likely, not have to make reservations, enabling you to go with the flow and eat when you please.

We sat at the counter.


From here we could watch the chefs cook and prep for the evening menu. It was probably somewhere between 2 and 3pm at this point; so they were still serving their brunch/lunch menu.


I hadn’t considered it before, but breakfast food sounded kind of good!

Homemade Coriander Sausage Benny - Two {Three!} poached eggs, French Bread,

Homemade Coriander Sausage Benny – two {three!} poached eggs, French Bread, Toasted Fennel Hollandaise and Home fries

Ah yes! This is exactly what I needed. I loved the sear on the sausage, the fennel atop the poached eggs and the seasoning on the home fries. It was the perfect lunch for me that day!

Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese - grilled squash, green onion, bell peppers and crystal fried onions

Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese – grilled squash, green onion, bell peppers and crystal fried onions

Rob said this was some of the best mac and cheese of his life! It looks more like a cream sauce than a cheese sauce, but it was oh-so-cheesy with a bit of bite, too. It was also very creamy. There is nothing Rob hates more than a runny sauce. The pulled pork was tender and flavorful, the grilled squash a unique touch and the fried onions on top were actually fried pickled onions!

We had not expected to have such a satisfying meal in Plover! We are told that the chef owns another restaurant not too far down the road in downtown Stevens Point. This restaurant, Father Fats, is noted for tasty small plates. We are also told the chef will be adding a restaurant with Latin flare called El Jefe to downtown Stevens Point, too.

Now that we were filled up, it was time to make our way over to O’So, just a few doors down. Some people were out sitting outside on the patio.


We were already feeling that Wisconsin was a lot cheaper than what we were used to, but $2 for a pint of beer?!

The taproom is quite roomy. Rob tried to find us a seat at the bar.


There are O’so many beers on tap! HA!


Something to note, though, is that O’So serves more than just their own beer. They like to offer beers from other Wisconsin craft breweries, too:


My dad is the one who introduced us to Night Train, O’so’s exceptional porter. However, O’So recently was forced to change the name of this beer due to a conflicting trademark. Here were some of the entries in the naming contest:


But the winning name was genius:


You’ll still find 6-packs and bottles marked with Night Train, but everything on their tap room menu has switched to the new name. I also like the fact that they offer this beer on nitro and call it Nitro Rain.

When we stop at breweries, we try to go for their specialty beers – the ones that we can’t buy in a store or have elsewhere. Our first choices:

Grandpa's Got a Gun - Brandy Barrel Aged American Strong Ale | Bourbon Barrel Aged Convenient Distraction - Coffee vanilla imperial porter aged in bourbon barrels

Grandpa’s Got a Gun – Brandy Barrel Aged American Strong Ale, brewed with maple sap in place of water | Bourbon Barrel Aged Convenient Distraction – Coffee vanilla imperial porter aged in bourbon barrels

If it’s wrong to make or enjoy beers like these, I don’t want to be right! They were both home runs. Rob and I were prepared to purchase Growlers on this trip, but neither Central Waters nor O’so offered them filled with their specialty beers. Luckily, O’so had bomber bottles of both the Grandpa’s Got a Gun and the Convenient Distraction (the non-bourbon barrel aged version) so that we could take home and share with my dad.


After our share of beers at O’so, we were starting to get tired… but we weren’t that hungry yet! Nonetheless, we walked a few doors further down to Mikey’s Bar & Grill, where we are told the original chef used to work at the White House!

This restaurant is huge; but despite the fact that it was a Saturday night, there were very few people there. We easily pulled up a seat at the bar, where we found another decent tap list!


We liked the fact that the light beers were tapped out of site with the root beer! HA!

Rob could not pass up on the Southern Tier Crème Brûlée Stout. I, however was feeling an Old Fashioned. When in Wisconsin!


Truth be told, it tasted mostly like Old Fashioned Mix; but at this point, I was just fine with that. After about an hour, we decided to finally order some food.

Celtic Mussels - O'so Porter, cream, scallions and fresh herbs

Celtic Mussels – O’so Porter, cream, scallions and fresh herbs

I loved the fact that they made the mussels with O’so Night (T)Rain Porter! The sauce was really good, but not as great as it had been raved over, in my opinion. I sopped up that sauce with the French bread happily, though.

Rob went with some pasta again. I thought he was going to go with a burger because that’s what was recommended here.

Wild Mushroom Capellini with roasted tomatoes, spinach and artichokes (added andouille!)

Wild Mushroom Capellini with roasted tomatoes, spinach and artichokes (added andouille!)

Rob said that they really didn’t add that much andouille. He was hoping for more. His expectations on this dish may have been a little high after having one of the best mac and cheese dishes of his life at Christian’s, though.

After one more Crème Brûlée Stout, Rob and I headed back to the hotel a bit early. We took advantage of the hot tub before falling into one of the best slumbers of our lives. Believe it or not, after all that beer and heavy food, we woke up feeling pretty refreshed. I wanted to take that Comfort Inn bed and pillows home with me.

We are now in Green Bay awaiting tonight’s Packer game. A Packer victory would most certainly make this the perfect birthday weekend.

Go Pack Go!



The No-Excuse 15 Minutes of Cardio


We have all heard that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can be very effective. You could say that I’ve sort of done HIIT during my Couch to 5k days. My husband actually uses that app for this purpose! However, my run pace during the C25k wasn’t my fastest because I was training myself for endurance. The concept of running just one mile back then was scary!

However, I recently found this 15-Minute HIIT Workout that you don’t have any excuse not to do!



The first time I tried it was on my treadmill because I could easily watch the seconds and switch my pace. I was doubtful that I would feel like I did anything after just 15 minutes.

But I was wrong.

After just one circuit, my heartrate was up; I was breathing heavily; I started to sweat and I welcomed that one-minute of walk/rest time!  I felt exhilarated after I was finished. I felt like I did a real workout. It was then that I realized that I had NO EXCUSE not to workout.  Everyone has an extra fifteen minutes in a day. If you can’t do your normal workout, do this.

This is great for all fitness levels.

You can adapt the 30-20-10 technique to any type of workout – walking, rowing, biking, using the elliptical… you name it! Plus, you go at your own pace. My fastest pace may be the “relaxed pace” of another runner. It doesn’t matter. It’s benefiting me!

What if I don’t have a treadmill?

We’ve had some pretty great weather here, so I wanted to try this training outside. However, I didn’t want to have to look at a watch or timer the whole time. I went in search of an app. There are a ton of interval apps out there with great ratings! Most of them are free. I downloaded a handful, but none of them were what I wanted. Some allow you to customize your own interval program. However, I wasn’t finding one that would allow me three levels of intervals. Most would let me enter a timer for only one high and one low interval to be repeated a designated number of times.

Then I found this app.

I was really lucky to find the Intervals App because I didn’t remember seeing it in my iTunes search for one. Instead, I discovered it through AppsGoneFree. This is an app that I already have on my phone that offers up to five free apps every day. These are apps that are normally not free, but have been released as free just for the day. I don’t always look at the offerings because a lot of them are kids games or things I don’t need cluttering my iPhone.

However The Universe must have known that I needed it because that particular day, I checked the AppsGoneFree just to kill some time. There it was, in all its glory – a free intervals app. The ratings for the app aren’t that great – about 3 stars out of 5. So I probably would have never bought it for $2.99 otherwise.

The app design and function might be very basic for what you need; but it was perfect for me because I could program these intervals:

  • 30 Seconds – Comfortable Pace
  • 20 Seconds – Run Fast
  • 10 Seconds – Sprint

I put those in there five times followed by a one-minute walk break with two cycles. With my warm-up and cool-down (which the app also prompts), it’s a 15-minute workout! The app also counts down 5-4-3-2-1, which I find encouraging during the sprint portion.

Truly, whether home or away, there is no excuse for me not to do this workout.

What are your favorite workout apps?


Sophie Cuddles


Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

Sophie Jean has always been my cuddle girl. I’ve never had nor known a dog so cuddly in all my life. 


I am not sure if this is the nature of the Shih Tzu, the Poodle or the Shih Poo; or if was my way of nurturing her.

But I love it.


Ever since she was a pup, she has slept with me. This can always be argued as a bad thing. In fact, I have recently learned that my lack of sleep is not because of my husband, but because of my pooches.


If Sophie were human, she’d argue, “But Momma, don’t you love it when I we sleep so close to you?”


And, yes, she would be right. Neither Benny Bear nor Shamrock have ever been as cuddly as Ms. Sophie Jean, though.


We’ve called her our Professional Cuddler, our Cuddle-aholic and our Real-Life Stuffed Animal. She loves our Cuddle Alarm ritual. Cuddling may bring her joy; but I think it brings me just as much.


Happy Saturday!


Creamy Horseradish Dip


Warning! Selfish Post!

I was also selfish this past weekend and did no blogging!

But I want this one to go in my recipe arsenal because I love horseradish. However, I didn’t realize how much I loved it until my 30s. Once I discovered this recipe, I wanted to pour it over everything…

I’m not sure where I found it, so I can’t give anyone the credit. Although to some of you, this may just seem like an obvious throw-together recipe…

Creamy Horseradish Dip


  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I made this olive oil mayo for my base and it turned out heavenly!)
  • 1.5 tsp prepared horseradish, or to taste
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • pinch of salt


  1. Mix ingredients together.
  2. Store in fridge. {I like to write the expiration date of the mayo I used on the container.}
Yup. That’s it! The consistency is much like a dip. However, I think you could make it more into a dressing with a touch of water, milk, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice or more vinegar, depending on your tastes.
How you can use this:
  • Dip for veggies
  • Spread on sandwiches or wraps
  • Drizzle on one of these bowls as your sauce
  • Salad dressing
  • Drizzle over veggies
  • Dip meats, such as steak bites, roast, slices of pork chop or chicken
  • To up the flavor in your potato salad
  • Drizzle over hard boiled eggs
  • Use to make tuna salad, chicken salad or egg salad

How else would you use this creamy horseradish dip?



coup d’etat – Food & Paint


I haven’t posted all of the paintings I’ve done at paint-and-sip-style events. However, you will find a few of my least favorites on this blog. I’ve never really been creative nor artistic at all. Yet, I love these classes because we are given specific instructions and guidance. It’s a lot of fun. What I have learned is that I don’t like to paint buildings… and bridges. Either that or I have to learn how to paint straight lines. Steady hand? No, I couldn’t be a surgeon!

I did a few more paintings this summer! One of which was at coup d’etat in Uptown Minneapolis. My friend Jen and I met there for dinner beforehand. It was a beautiful summer day in July to dine outside. To start, I chose a cocktail.

When in Minneapolis, which cocktail should you order off of this menu?


That’s right…

Purple Rain - gin, blueberry lavender shrub, soda -

Purple Rain – gin, blueberry lavender shrub, soda 

Only, it didn’t look very… purple. I took another photo with a different filter.


A little better?

I was so glad it was Happy Hour because the HH food menu interested me more than the regular one. Jen ordered off that menu, too.

Hush Puppies - crawfish, creole remoulade, fennel

Hush Puppies – crawfish, creole remoulade, fennel

These are a different take on hush puppies because the bits of crawfish are inside. We both tend to like hush puppies with chunks of corn. Then there was my Happy Hour dish:

Shrimp & Grits - White Cheddar, etouffee - $7

Shrimp & Grits – white cheddar, étouffée – $7

These texture of the shrimp was the best I’ve ever had – cooked to perfection. The white cheddar grits were in the top three I’ve ever had and the contrasting flavors all came together perfectly. It was like one incredible meal for just $7. I can’t imagine getting anything else here!

We did opt to share dessert at the suggestion of our server:

Almond Cake - plum, apricot, rosemary, vanilla bean ice cream, bellini sorbet - $9

Almond Cake – plum, apricot, rosemary, vanilla bean ice cream, bellini sorbet – $9

There was a lot going on here! The juxtaposing flavors seemed to work together; but I wasn’t in love with the dish like our server was. It’s nothing I need to get again. After dining, we went into the private room where our painting class would take place.


No, that mural on the wall was not what we were painting! I really liked this room and could see it adding elegant ambiance to a private party. Yet, it was a little dark for painting, even with such beautiful lighting.


Furthermore, the acoustics were horrible, making it very difficult to hear the instructor. And truthfully, I wasn’t entirely excited about doing this painting because there was a lot pink going on. {Although I know you can paint any color you want on the canvas!}


There was also a lot of detail that made the original painting look very difficult to replicate. Nonetheless, the result was a lot better than I expected!

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What am I doing with all of these paintings you ask? Our most prized ones are hung in our living room, like portraits.

See them in the background?!

See them in the background?!

As for the others…

Well, in our basement, we have track lighting such that it makes a nice little gallery-like set-up around the main room. The only problem is that it’s not where we spend a lot of time. Rob jokes that we spend about eight times per year down there for our monthly poker tournaments. Oh. And to do laundry. And workout in the winter. And to get wine. 🙂

There is one painting I’d like to do again. Before this painting made it downstairs, my brother came to visit

“Can I have that one?” he asked.

I was floored. How could I turn him down? Somebody wants my art? Hell, yeah, you can have it. He might have asked, though, because he likes turtles, like this kid:


Have you ever given someone something that you created?




The first time I went to Tilia was one of those weekends this summer when my husband was out of town. My friend Kim recommended that we go because she’s been there a number of times. She said that she always gets the Spinach Salad. I read numerous raves about this infamous salad including one that read, “The best spinach salad I’ve ever had.”

Spinach Saladwith mushrooms, soft-boiled egg, toasted almonds, Parmesan and warm bacon dressing

We each ordered one that beautiful early evening while sipping on Prosecco. I was a little leary about the bacon dressing. I don’t really like bacon in dishes. It tends to overpower. I know. I know. I’m alone on that one.

It was a lovely girlfriend time out, so no photos were taken. The salad was good, but it was a bit too bacon-y for me. It wasn’t that overpowering; however, so it’s not like I hated it or couldn’t eat it. I just wouldn’t order it again. I would, however, recommend it to anyone who loves bacon!


So I took my husband back. We sat at the bar. Surprise, surprise!


Rob never really wanted to go to Tilia before. Nothing about their online menu interested him. However, when I went with Kim, I noticed that there were two items on the menu that Rob would have loved! They were not listed online. Rob did not know this. He just tagged along because it was my pick and I was buying dinner.

That burger is not listed online!

That burger was not listed online!


Nor was the Carbonara!

Rob was happy to see those offerings and was pleased by the tap selection, too!


We arrived early {4:30ish} and ordered an appetizer off of their In-Between Menu.

French Fries w/Fry Sauce - $6

French Fries w/Fry Sauce – $6

These fries were hot, salty and the perfect marriage of potato-y on the inside and crispy on the outside. Rob said he probably liked them more than McDonald’s fries.

I liked the Fry Sauce; Rob did not. I thought it was mixture of ketchup, mayo, Worcestershire sauce and some sort of spice. Rob swore that there was something sweet like raisins in it. I didn’t get that at all! Our bartender {who may have perhaps been an owner} was too busy; so we never did get to ask.

I was in a wine mood and was trying to select a wine by the glass.


In the end, I chose the Casa Brina Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato. I like trying wines I’ve never had before! I had to look on my phone though to discover the grape varietal of this wine. Here is what I learned:


A new varietal to try, yippee!!! I like the fact that Ruché is one of the lowest production varietal wines in Italy. It made me feel like I was drinking something rare. Because this was served by the glass, I’d call it a poor man’s Nebbiolo. That may not do it justice, though, because it was an excellent wine. I will always and forever order that wine by the glass at Tilia as long as they offer it.

So did Rob choose the pasta or the burger?

Okay, no suspense here…


Paparadelle Pasta Carbonara – leeks, zucchini, black pepper, egg & Parmesan – $18 (large)

It looks fantastic, no?! Only… It wasn’t. Rob was highly disappointed. The pasta was mushy, not al dente. The sauce didn’t have that creaminess Rob is used to in his favorite carbonaras. It was pretty much just bland. I tried a bite and concurred. To be fair, Rob said that sure this might be Tilia’s rendition of a carbonara dish, but it wasn’t carbonara.

I, however, had the opposite experience:

Grilled Norwegian Salmon - Sweet Corn Bread Budding, Swiss Chard & Tomato Jam - $24

Grilled Norwegian Salmon – sweet corn bread pudding, Swiss chard & tomato jam – $24

This was the perfect dish. It’s also not listed on their online menu; so I’m not sure how long it will be offered. I loved the char on the salmon. I don’t believe I’ve ever had salmon that way before. The sweet corn bread pudding was just divine. It tasted so fresh! I loved the colors and textures on this plate. Naturally, I cleaned it. It was one of the best dishes I’ve had in a really long time!

Then, for dessert…


I had the Petite Guiraud Sauternes. It’s been so long since I’d had a that dessert wine! It was sweet without being cloying and reminded me of mandarin oranges. It was a perfect end to my meal. I also love that they have an espresso machine. I always love when a restaurant offers coffee drinks!

The menu does change here with the seasons, which I always love. That’s why the online menu is not always up-to-date. I just hope that Rob is willing to go back.

What’s the best {or worst!} meal you’ve had lately?