Author Archives: kkregel

Healthy Mini Muffins for Kids (or Anyone!)

Back in the fall when I was looking for more ways to use up the overload of squash from my CSA, I started baking with it. Using an old recipe of my mom’s for Pumpkin Apple Streusel muffins as a base, I thought I would swap the pumpkin for squash. But why stop there? So I started subbing ingredients to see how I could sneak in more veggies and make the muffins healthier. Some carrots here, some flax seeds there, some raisins for even more texture.

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Every time I made them my 2 1/2 year old, who can be hit-or-miss on squash and carrots, gobbled them up. This weekend, he told me he wanted to make muffins so I took on the final frontier – reducing the amount of refined sugar. In my first attempt at messing with a staple baking ingredient, I cut the original amount of sugar in half and replaced the other cup with unsweetened applesauce and added an extra 1/2 C of flour to balance out the extra moisture.

Results? Success. The texture was exactly the same as the original version and although the muffins themselves are less sweet, I actually prefer it that way. Plus, it still passed the toddler test of requesting seconds.
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Fruit & Veggie Packed Mini Muffins
makes 4 1/2 dozen mini muffins
2 eggs
1 C sugar
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 C applesauce (unsweetened/no sugar added kind)
1 C steamed and pureed winter squash (butternut or acorn work well)
3 C flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
1 C shredded carrots
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and shredded
2/3 C raisins

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, beat together oil, eggs and pureed squash until combined. Beat in sugar and applesauce. Beat in pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, salt and flax seeds. Add flour, one cup at a time, mixing well for even texture. Fold in carrots, apples and raisins.

Lightly spray mini muffin baking tin with cooking spray. Spoon batter into baking tin so that each cup is 3/4 or slightly more full of batter. Bake for 12 minutes or until toothpick comes clean.

mini-muffins
katie

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Filed under Breakfast, Healthy, Kid Friendly

Slow Cooked French Dips with Stout Au Jus

A few years ago, the hubs pulled a black bear tag and, lo and behold, came back from his hunt with well over 100 pounds of bear meat. This was the year we were getting married and had just bought a house and funds weren’t exactly free-flowing so I took it as my mission to take his “gift” and make the most of it in free meals (this is what love looks like, people). Some of the things we tried left a bit to be desired (ahem, bear ribs) but others, like this recipe below were pretty fantastic.

This year, another bear ‘showed up’ in my freezer and I was actually quite excited to bust back out the slow cooker and make this version of a hearty French Dip Sandwich. Of course, most people don’t just have bear at their disposal but this would be just as wonderful with a beef roast.
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Slow Cooked French Dip Sandwiches with Stout Au Jus
4 lb beef or wild game roast cut
1 can beef consomme
1 can french onion soup
1 bottle stout beer
dash Worcestershire
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 small bunch fresh thyme
cracked black pepper
sliced swiss cheese
French rolls

Place roast in a slow cooker. Pour beef consomme, french onion soup and beer over meat. Add Worcestershire, garlic and cracked pepper. Toss in bay leaf, rosemary and thyme. Slow cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until meat is very tender.

Remove meat from slow cooker and shred or slice thinly, depending on meet you’ve chosen. Place meat on sliced French rolls and top with a slice of swiss cheese. Microwave for about 30 seconds to just melt cheese. Ladle jus from the slow cooker into a small bowl for dipping to serve.
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katie

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Filed under Make Ahead Meal, Quick & Easy, sandwich

{Gift Guide} Emerald & Pine

Anne’s Picks

Give a gift that will be an instant conversation starter.  The book The Art of Manliness tries to revive the lost art of manliness with equal parts solid and humorous advice.  And if your daughter is anything like mine, she could spend the day twirling around in this adorable, tiered tutu.  The best part?  It strays from the traditional girly pink tutus that you normally see.

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1. The Art of Manliness ($15) 2. Rewind candle ($25) 3. Turquoise statement necklace ($110) 4. Plush-a-saur ($24.95)  5. Girls Blended Tutu ($34)

Katie’s Picks

My clothing picks on this one feel exactly like what my husband and I will be wearing as we go into 2014 – an easy-chic, work dress in a rich color for me to kick off all those business meetings and a stylish yet practical merino hoodie to accommodate his outdoor fanaticism.

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1. Quantum Plus merino hoodie ($219.99) 2. Emerald studs ($38) 3. Silk cinema dress ($160) 4. Organic Green Tea ($14) & Infuser tumbler ($19.99) 5. Nail polish in Laughin’ to the Bank ($17)

Stef’s Picks

My little man loves Pete the Cat and I have to say I do not blame him. I’m all about gifting books at Christmas time and you can’t go wrong with this one. If you are looking for something for a tech-saavy, stylish female, try the Taylor iPad Case from 1154 Lill Studio. You can purchase pre-made items or create your own in store or online.

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1. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas ($13) 2. Broken-in Chino Urban Slim Fit ($75) 3. Taylor iPad Case – Pea Pods ($69)  4. Lincoln Logs Classic Edition ($28) 5. Hand Knit Boot Cuffs ($19)

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Filed under Christmas, Fab Finds

{Gift Guide} Snow & Ice

Anne’s Picks

My all time favorite candle from Anthropologie comes in the beautiful (and reusable!) jar this time of year.  Pick this up for your hostess and grab one for yourself while you’re at it.  If you have any new little ones that have joined your family this year, think about getting them this adorable owl hat.  It is equal parts adorable and functional.

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1. Capri Blue candle ($25) 2. Owl hat ($16.75) 3. Cable knit knee socks ($16.50) 4. Fleece bear robe ($23.97) 5. Bird cup & saucer ($13.96)

Katie’s Picks

Who says you can’t wear white in winter? This chic, minimalist leather skirt from Topshop (via Nordstrom) feels like a fresh twist on a winter skirt and would elevate your look from work to cocktail hour in that I-didn’t-even-try kind of way.
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1. Sequined table runner ($24.95), 2. Trimmed Mazurka gloves ($32), 3. Leather skirt ($180), 4. Mercury glass flask (from $26), 5. Ceramic sugar jar ($12.95), 6. Silk tie ($150)

Stef’s Picks

It may be cold out, but the little ones can always warm our hearts. Consider giving the grandparent in your life the My Quotable Grandkid Journal. Here they can chronicle the darndest things their grandkids say. This is also available for parents. If you want to give a little extra to your whiskey-getter, try the sphere ice mold set. These slow melting molds won’t dilute your whiskey, plus they look like a snowball in a glass.

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1. My Quotable Grandkid Journal ($13) 2. A Chilly Treat Sweater ($60) 3. Mini Boden ‘Cozy’ Teddy Bear Texture Gilet ($38) 4. Philosophy Giving Grace Fragrance Spray ($44) 5. Sphere Ice Mold Set ($12) 6. Vintage Stamped Serving Spoons ($28)

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Filed under Christmas, Fab Finds

{Gift Guide} Neon & Neutral

Anne’s Picks

Consider giving a small clutch that can turn an outfit into something special.  This pop-of-color clutch from the gap is on trend, practical and reasonably price.  And for the kid in your life, give a shoe that makes an outfit!  These neon baby vans are too adorable to pass up.

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1. Let’s Do This pillow ($69) 2. Lippy Marker ($10) 3. Orange skinny belt ($49.50) 4. Pink leather clutch ($39.95) 5. Neon baby Vans ($30) 6. Knot & Bot tag set ($10)

Katie’s Picks

Your favorite home cook needs an Emile Henry salt pig in their life. Ok, they probably don’t need it but it will certainly keep all that kosher salt contained (as opposed to spilling on the bottom of their spice cupboard like mine is) and make them feel like the culinarian they are as they grab liberal pinches and toss them into their favorite dish.

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1. Summit fleece track jacket ($128), 2. Chevron fingerless gloves ($35), 3. Cable knit sweater ($59), 4. Salt pig ($29.95), 5. Embossed leather wallet ($120), 6. Herringbone throw ($74)

Stef’s Picks

If you are looking for a fun gift that as Uncle Eddie says, “keeps on giving the whole year through” gift your man or woman with a Birchbox subscription. I receive one of these little kraft boxes every month and love testing out all the home and beauty products. A little pampering can go a long way! You can choose how many months you’d like to give, offering a good range of price points.

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1. Minnetonka Leopard Kilty Moccasin ($40) 2. Baby 7 A.M. Enfant Duodoune ($90) 3. Flared Trench ($225) 4. Nike Free TR III ($100) 5. Birchbox Subscription ($10/month)

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Filed under Christmas, Fab Finds

{Gift Guide} Black & Gold

Anne’s Picks

I love adding a few beautiful cookbooks to my collection around the holidays.  This year I came across the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and fell in love.  The recipes are divine and the pictures are perfection.  It is a wonderful cookbook to inspire creativity in the kitchen.

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1. The Smitten Kitchen cookbook ($24) 2. iPhone case ($34.95) 3. Alphabet stacking ring ($30) 4. Metallic slouchy beanie ($34.50) 5. The Polar Express ($12) 6. Salt & pepper shakers ($19)

Katie’s Picks

It’s terribly difficult for me to not select one of these sparkly options, but as someone who is always cold Under Armour’s Infrared tech hoodie is definitely on my list.  UA’s says their infrared technology is designed to absorb and retain your own body heat to keep you warmer without extra bulk – double win. Thinking one of the guys on your list would be into this too?  Don’t worry, there are plenty of men’s infrared options as well.

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1. Twill gingham shirt ($34.96), 2. Starstruck cocktail ring ($59), 3. Coldgear Infrared EVO hoodie ($64.99), 4. Metal clutch ($68), 5. Catcher sparkle flat ($150), 6. Foil print pillow ($24.99)

Stef’s Picks

For the man, or real woman, in your life, surprise them with a bottle of Great Lakes Distillery Kinnickinnic whiskey. Locally distilled right here in Milwaukee, this bottle will spice up your Christmas day. If you are looking for a splurge, I’m loving all oversized gold sports watches for women this year. You won’t disappoint if you adorn your favorite lady’s wrist with this Karl Lagerfeld piece.

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1. Great Lakes Distillery Kinnickinnic Whiskey ($40) 2. Men’s Bridgeport Jacket ($100) 3. Karl Lagerfeld Karl 7 Gold Watch ($250) 4. Seamless Shimmer Hoodie ($89)  5. Smashbox Full Exposure Palette ($49)

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Filed under Christmas, Fab Finds

{Gift Guide} Cranberry & Cardinal

Anne’s Picks

This time of year, I long for all things warm and cozy and my picks tend to revolve around that theme.  For the cook in your life, a dutch oven in a beautiful shade of red is a must have for slow cooked meals on a cold day.   And I know that I cannot get through our Wisconsin winters without a new cozy scarf or beautiful throw, both perfect for anyone who can be hard to shop for.  And don’t forget the little ones!  The little girl in your life  will love this adorable and whimsical doll from the land of nod.

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1. Waffle stitch infinity scarf ($65) 2. Zoku slush and shake maker with book ($34.95) 3. Softest throw ($49) 4. Dutch oven ($99.95) 5. Polka dot potholders ($14) 6. Hello doll ($19.95)

Katie’s Picks

I’m lusting over all of these items so the best I can do is narrow it down to two picks. Guys and gals alike will be pumped to open a pair of comfy, on trend New Balance Classics. This rich Men’s cranberry color is an undercover cool type shade but if you’re looking for something punchier there are plenty of those to choose from. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, I’d go with this toasty, artisan buffalo plaid blanket from the nearly 150 year old Faribault Woolen Mill (which just happens to be next door to my home town!).

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1. Bomber jacket ($69.90), 2. The Sriracha Cookbook ($16.99), 3. Palm Springs scarf in Red Ikat ($59), 4. New Balance Classics sneakers ($74.95), 5. La Creme lipstick in Stiletto ($21), 6. Buffalo plaid wool blanket ($100)

Stef’s Picks

You can’t have Christmas without a little glitz. I’m a huge fan of all things Stella & Dot and love the Mae necklace layered with some of your other favorite jewels to spice up a little black dress or a simple tee. If you are looking for something for the rambunctious boy in your life, try a Hot Wheels Remote Control Camaro. For a great price, this little car will ensure excitement under the tree on Christmas morning.

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New Clean Edge Wool Fedora ($50) Stella & Dot Mae Necklace ($49) Mack Cheers Tumblers ($45) Hot Wheels R/C Camaro ($20) Le Crueset 7 Piece Cherry Tool Set ($75)

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Filed under Christmas, Fab Finds

Hearty White Bean & Smoked Ham Soup

Have you ever have a favorite lunch or dinner place that you max out on or move further away from and then totally forget about for awhile? Then one day something trips a magical memory trigger and you suddenly ask yourself why it’s been forever since their deliciousness has crossed your path?

This happened to me recently and in my case, it’s an extremely tiny and eclectic soup place. A Milwaukee “soup Nazi” of sorts that I worked by for years until my career took me around town for a few years to offices far from his shop. When I moved back to a downtown office almost two years ago, I had all but forgotten about the place – until a few weeks ago. It was one of those first grey, gloomy and freezing pre-winter days and a Whole Foods salad just wasn’t going to cut it. I needed warm, hearty soup and BOOM, memory trigger tripped.

I ordered a Northern Bean and Ham Soup and couldn’t stop thinking about it so I took my own riff on recreating it for home – swapping his rice for barley and tossing in a few more vegetables from the remains of my CSA. Now, even though I’ll be going back again soon, I’ve got a permanent reminder in my files.

white bean and ham soup

White Bean & Ham Soup
8-10oz smoked ham hock, deboned and cubed
1 C pearl barley
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
1 C swiss chard or kale, stems removed & leaves chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans great Northern white beans
5 C chicken stock
1 C half and half or 2% milk
6 Tbsp butter
kosher salt
black pepper

Prep and chop all vegetables. Melt butter in a large stock pot and once almost melted, add onion, carrot and celery. Saute vegetables over medium heat for 6-8 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Once they begin to soften, add garlic and saute another 3-4 minutes. Add small amounts of chicken stock as needed if vegetables begin to stick to the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom into the stock.

Add ham, beans, barley and remaining stock. Stir to combine and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, then add kale/chard and half and half. Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, checking to see that barley is fully cooked. Season well with salt – about 1-2 tsp – until flavors pop.

white bean and smoked ham soup

katie

4 Comments

Filed under Main Dish, Make Ahead Meal

Superfood Smoothies

Smoothies are nothing new, although green versions are popping up like weeds in cafes and juice bars. If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably pinned a zillion recipes already but this is my go-to version. I started making these regularly for breakfast over the summer, sometimes alternating them with protein shakes. I played with a variety of ingredients and techniques but landed on this combo of fruit, veg and “power” ingredients to maximize benefits without loading on too many cals.

Here are my ingredient Cliff notes:
Beets: I totally dig beets with carrots as an occasional substitute. The key to a great texture with beets is grating them…preferably with a microplane grater to get an ultrafine texture that isn’t overbearing. Red beets will give you a gorgeous magenta smoothie but chioggia or golden beets will get masked by your greens if you’re more of a green smoothie literalist.

Greens: I say ‘greens’ because you can really use whatever you like or have on hand. Spinach, chard and beet greens (double duty ingredient!) will give you a smoother texture than kale, which tends to be a little coarser but still tasty.

Fruit: Use what’s in season or your favorites. I like pineapple as a base because it’s ultra juicy.

Liquids: After trying various combos, I settled on unsweetened almond milk and coconut water as my liquids for the relative nutritional benefits with fewer calories than juice or milk.

Chia Seeds: Relatively flavorless, these antioxidant and omega-3 packed gems also help me to feel more full. I personally like the ground version but you could use whole seeds.

Greek Yogurt: This is an optional thickener and smooth-ier. I like the protein it adds but you could skip it if desired.

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Superfood Smoothies
1 C greens (any combo of spinach, beet greens, kale or swiss chard), washed and chopped
1/3 cucumber (about 4-5 thick slices), sliced and quartered
1 small beet, peeled and finely grated (use a microplane!)
3/4 C pineapple, chopped
2 other pieces seasonal fruit in any combo: 1 banana, peach, pear or green apple, 2 large handfuls of berries, or 2 kiwis
6-8 oz vanilla Greek yogurt
splash lime juice
1 C unsweetened almond milk
1/2 C coconut water
2 Tbsp chia seeds

Add greens, cucumber and grated beet to a blender with almond milk and coconut water. Blend until smooth and all large chunks are gone. Add chia seeds and any fruit that is more fibrous or firm, such as an an apple or pear. Blend again. Add pineapple and any additional fruit. Blend again. Finally add lime juice and yogurt and give a final blend.

Multiple blends will help you get the smoothest texture so if you prefer it smoother than after your final blend, pulse a bit longer to gain desired texture.

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Busy mornings? Make your smoothies ahead of time! Since one batch will make two smoothies, you can make one for yourself and someone else or make two days worth of breakfasts at once. I like these Thermos brand bottles that I found at Target. They hold a perfect amount and have a straw for convenient sipping in the car or at my desk.
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katie

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Filed under Drinks, Healthy

{Giveaway} Dog City & Co. sWag Pack!

When Dog City & Co. reached out to share their petlover products with us, I was charmed by their designs and immediately went searching for my favorite breed (Lab, of course). From mugs to prints to pillows, they have lots of sweet and affordable gift options for your pet-obsessed fam and friends (stocking stuffers anyone??). Plus, they donate a portion of every sale to animal shelters and other rescue-related organizations, which makes me like them even more.
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After scoping out the goods they were kind enough to send me, my pooch, Lena, and I can vouch that they are dog and owner approved. Their slightly oversized mug is perfect for your weekend lattes or adding a little extra whipped cream to your cocoa and the tote is roomy enough to use as a yoga/gym bag or to stash a blanket, treats and tennis balls for a trip to the dog park.

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{Giveaway} sWag Pack!

This week one lucky reader will win a Dog City & Co. sWag Pack including a coffee mug, tote bag and decal in the breed design of your favorite pup (or cat).

How to Enter:
1. Leave us comment below telling us 3 things about your favorite pet (dog or cat!) – their name, breed, and one thing about them that reminds you why you’re a pet owner.
2. Like us on Facebook for an extra entry
3. Like Dog City & Co. on Facebook for an extra entry

The random winner will be selected and announced this Friday.
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katie

28 Comments

Filed under Covetable Goods, Giveaway