Monthly Archives: July 2011

Spoon hamburger and food traditions in families

Have you ever heard of spoon hamburger? That is one of the things we had today at a family gathering at my in-laws’ house.

spoon hamburger

spoon hamburger

spoon hamburger

Here is a recipe for it from They call it spoon burgers though and my mother-in-law doesn’t use hot fat in it.


Read more about it at,1827,157163-242197,00.html
Content Copyright Β© 2011 – All rights reserved.

2 lbs. ground beef
2 tbsp. hot fat
2/3 c. onion, chopped
2 tbsp. catsup
1 tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cans condensed chicken gumbo

Brown beef in hot fat in 10 inch skillet over direct low heat. Add onion to meat and cook until onion is nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Stir remaining ingredients into above. Cover skillet and simmer over direct heat 30 minutes. Spoon on hamburger buns. 8 spoon burgers.


My mother-in-law explained that she started making this because my husband and his sister don’t like barbecue sauce or the flavor of sloppy joes. I grew up eating sloppy joes with kraft american cheese. I had never had anything like, nor had heard of spoon burger/hamburger until I met my husband’s family.

My ex-fiance’s family used to eat raw beef (the highest quality they could find) with vidalia onions at Christmas and other holidays. They would get so excited when they had raw beef and I was so disgusted.

Does your family make anything really different at their family gatherings? Our tradition is German Potato Salad. I love it and some of my sister-in-laws dislike it or just get sick of having it at family gatherings.

Here is my plate…taco salad, fruit, veggies, potato salad, spoon hamburger.

meal from July 31, 2011 at family gathering

Dessert was a peanut butter chocolate bar and a pb cookie.

peanut butter and chocolate bar, pb cookie

I had to relearn who was related to who at the party today because we only see these people once a year (they are my father-in-law’s cousins). We talked about the German ancestors in this picture and who was who in it. The guy on the left is my husband’s great grandfather.

family picture

This morning, I went to the gym and rowed, walked at a high incline on the treadmill, and lifted weights. I was so hungry when I got home and immediately knew what I wanted to make. I didn’t want a very filling smoothie, so I used this whey protein powder I got a sample of from a order.

whey protein

I mixed it with skim milk and it was delicious! I would definitely buy a big container of this if I could find it in the store.

protein drink

Whenever I work out in the morning, I notice that I am so hungry! I wanted to eat everything in sight when I got home.

I need to sign off so I can call my sister who turned 50 today and wish her a happy birthday.

Have a good Sunday night.


Bloggers are taking over the bookstore!

I’m off to my in-laws’ house today for a family party, so I thought I would recap Saturday before the busy day begins. I still have to get in my workout, shower, and then we need to be at my in-laws’ house by about 12.

For lunch yesterday, I had a 6 inch Subway ham and cheese sandwich and a Godiva Iced Vanilla Bean coffee. I received the Godiva coffee from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program and I’ll do another separate post on the coffee soon.


We headed out of the house to get Craig’s free birthday drink at Starbucks. Since he doesn’t like coffee, we got a Venti Strawberries N’ Creme.

Starbucks Strawberries N' Creme Frappucino

Craig and Strawberries N' Creme frapp

Weird look on my face captured by Craig. I was sporting the cute starfish necklace I had received in the mail yesterday from a giveaway I won over at Stop and Smell the Wildflowers. Thanks again Amber! Love the necklace! πŸ™‚

me with strawberries n' creme frappucino

Next, we were off to Barnes and Noble to look around.

That is when I decided that bloggers are taking over the bookstore! Yay!

peas and thank you on Barnes and Noble table

peas and thank you book

Carrots N' Cake by Haupert at Barnes and Noble

While at Bed Bath and Beyond, I was beginning to think that we’d never find a toaster that had good reviews or wasn’t cheaply made.

This one seemed cheap.

toaster cuisnart

I liked the look and durability of this one, but Craig scanned in the barcode on his phone and found it didn’t have great reviews on Amazon.


Anything is better than the toaster we currently have which turns itself on! I hate having to remember to unplug it every time we use it. If only we had enough counter space for the toaster oven we own.

Enough ranting about toasters. We didn’t buy one and may just have to go with the Kitchen Aid one that is rated best on Amazon.

After a short nap on the couch, I got to the gym for a pretty good workout. I biked while reading Self magazine, pushed myself on the Cybex Arc Trainer, lifted weights, did abs with the ball, and tortured myself with various planks.

The rest of the night, I just relaxed, made a very late and random dinner, then did dishes and put laundry away since I knew I wouldn’t have much time for it today.

Dinner was a poached egg, provolone cheese, mushrooms, jalapenos, Frank’s Red Hot sauce, tomatoes, and I put Nutritional Yeast on top of the egg and tomatoes. I really couldn’t taste the yeast.

poached egg, mushrooms, tomatoes, nutritional yeast, jalapenos, cheese

Dessert was nice and healthy–strawberries from our garden & blueberries, topped with some raw sugar.

berries and raw sugar

I’ll be back tonight with a post about weird things and strangely named things families eat. One of the things we are having at the party today is not weird, but has a strange name that I had never heard of until I met my husband. Hearing the name cracks me up every time! Does your family eat anything particularly odd at parties or call certain recipes weird names?

My week

Do you ever have those weeks where you just feel too tired to do anything, especially after a long day at work? Yeah, that was my week. I have been feeling tired, but also just not motivated to fit blogging into my schedule. I have to remind myself to just go with it when I feel the need to just unplug and read books, workout, and relax in general after work.

Here’s what I have been eating, doing, etc. this week.


My meals weren’t really that interesting, except for when I ate out with Karis on Thursday.

I did try Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter for the first time! It had been sitting in our cabinet for about a month, so I decided to open the jar up and just dig in. I liked it, but maybe not as much as peanut butter. It is very creamy, so I think it would be wonderful on hot oats.

sunflower seed butter

I don’t really love overnight oats in a jar (I prefer hot oats), but it is a convenient and healthy breakfast for when I feel rushed in the morning. I had a Trader Joe’s unsalted peanut butter jar that had just about an inch of pb left in it, so I went with making OIAJ. I added skim milk, chia seeds, and some Brown Cow maple yogurt.

OIAJ coffee

I had lots of plain chobani with blueberry preserves, fresh fruit, and granola this week.


Indulged in a yummy cupcake at work. The frosting on this was perfect–not too sweet and sickening!

pics July 2011 002 cupcake

Lunch on Thursday–a big salad, mango Chobani, and I tried Pop Chips for the first time! They tasted great! I had the sea salt and vinegar. Thanks to Pop Chips for sending me some chips to try out! Can’t wait to try the other flavors now.

pics July 2011 001


Our garden is producing more tomatoes now! The romas still don’t look great, but the cherry tomatoes keep on coming and I love having them around for salads or snacking in general.

We also have been getting more strawberries–some big and some tiny and ripe.

garden items

I ordered these items from iHerb. I have never tried Nutritional Yeast, so I hope I like it. I plan to make some of Mama Pea’s Mmmm sauce with it this weekend.

Averie had a coupon for iHerb on her blog, so I got $5 off my order and free shipping!

iHerb order

We enjoyed having the windows open for only a couple of hours one cool evening. I miss fresh, cool air flowing through our house.


Karma enjoyed the fresh air too!


Karma with open window

Now we’re off to get Craig’s free Starbucks drink (b-day coupon) and maybe look around at toasters. Ours has been funky for a while, but we both aren’t satisfied with the reviews we find on Amazon of most of the models out there. Anyone have a toaster model they recommend?

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

A visit to Roots Cellar in Milwaukee

Last night, Karis and I went to Roots Cellar.

Here is what drew Karis and I to eat there, as quoted from the Roots website:

“As many of our vegetables as possible are grown in Wisconsin, many of which are from our own farm in Cedarburg. As Wisconsin’s only farmer-chef owned restaurant, we are proud to support as many local farmers as possible.”

We ate inside, which was cozy and still offered a pretty good view of Milwaukee all lit up at night. The patio looked nice too.


I started out with some sangria.

pics July 2011 005 sangria

We shared a Artisan Cheese Plate, which was complimentary, as long as you went on a Thursday night and spent $25 on your meal and drinks. We mentioned Bluprint to get the deal.

pics July 2011 004 Artisan Cheese Plate

The cheeses were delicious and I especially liked the chocolate truffle!

I ordered the Grilled Squash & Eggplant sandwich which had fresh milk mozzarella, basil pesto and tomato jam on top. It was quite the tasty sandwich!

pics July 2011 006 eggplant, mozzarella, basil pesto, tomato jam sandwich Roots Cellar

I had such a good time talking to Karis & eating good food last night!

Winner of Food Should Taste Good Chips!

The winner is….(hint: a fellow Wisconsin girl who is now living in Michigan).



Congrats Kayla!


Please send me your mailing address and the five chip flavors you would like to try and I’ll send your info to the folks at Food Should Taste Good!

Thanks for entering everyone and congrats to Kayla! πŸ™‚

Can’t get enough tempeh!

I actually had a pretty good Monday! I wasn’t too tired either. πŸ™‚

Susan of The Great Balancing Act had an even better Monday.

I am sure most of you have heard about the awesome fundraiser Janetha at meals & moves put together for Susan. I did bid on a few things, but didn’t win anything and couldn’t keep up with the bids while at work. I was just following the twitter stream on the Great Fundraising Act and saw that they are nearly up to $25,000 raised! That is so wonderful! I am so happy to be a part of this supportive and giving community. Now Susan can hopefully cover the cost of her meds down the road so she can bravely battle cancer.

I just started reading Susan’s blog about a month ago and I have teared up a couple of times reading her posts. She writes so beautifully and honestly.

The rest of this post seems boring compared to the excitement that the Great Fundraising Act created among the blog community today.

Breakfast was Mom’s Best Naturals cereal.

Mom's Best Naturals Sweetened Wheat-Fuls

The ingredients aren’t too bad. I found it at our local grocery store, Pick N’ Save, and had never seen the brand before.

Ingredients cereal

Mom's best sweetened wheat-fuls

I didn’t take a picture of my lunch, but I had a big spinach salad with warmed up tofu, grape tomatoes, green peppers and feta. Yeah, basically what I had yesterday without the mushrooms. I was so full, that all I could eat after that was two Back to Nature peanut butter creme cookies.

My after work snack was Chobani non-fat greek yogurt, berries, and homemade double coconut granola. This tasted divine together. I know what I am having for breakfast tomorrow! πŸ™‚

yogurt, berries, granola

I also dug into some Food Should Taste Good Toasted Sesame chips (I am picking the giveaway winner tomorrow evening, so get your entries in)!

Food Should Taste Good Toasted Sesame chips

And dinner will look familiar because it’s what I had last night (except for the cooked green beans).

tempeh sandwich, green beans

That’s right, the tempeh spinach tomato sandwich will probably be one that keeps appearing on my blog because it’s so good that I can’t get enough of it.

I cooked up some green beans from our garden and made them the way my cooking teacher did in class last week. I boiled the water, threw them in for about three minutes, put some olive oil and sea salt on top and they were perfect! Craig tried one and didn’t even mind that they weren’t as cooked as he likes his.

I took my usual pictures of the cats being funny tonight.

Right before I snapped this picture of Tanzi, he was making an Elvis face that had Craig and I cracking up.

Tanzi the kitty

He looked like he said “thannk you verrrry much” with his lip curled up. Too bad I couldn’t snap a pic fast enough to capture it!

Karma was up to his weird antics sitting on the top of the recliner. It drives Craig nuts (and makes him slouch), but we still think it’s cute. I have seen pictures of other cats doing this, but this is a recent thing for Karma.

Karma and Craig

I’ve been keeping up with reading blogs by using this iPod/phone app called Feeddler.



It’s like Google Reader but better. When I am on a computer, I still enjoy using Google Reader. Reading blogs on my iPod through the Google app just wasn’t cutting it anymore.


And to end this lengthy post–my workout today included a 25 minute walk on the treadmill while watching HGTV. I lifted some weights and used the Freemotion machines tonight in addition to the normal machines I usually use. I could really feel the Freemotion working my arm muscles!

When I got back from the gym, Craig and I went on a walk around the neighborhood.

Buonasera tutti!

I <3 Frozen Yogurt!

Can’t believe the weekend is almost over! Where did it go?

Breakfast was non-fat plain Chobani with raspberries and blueberries. It was a little too bland for me, so I added some Bonne Maman jam too. Is it just me or does Chobani seem thicker than it used to be? I was so full after this big bowl!

Chobani, berries, coffee

Lunch was a spinach salad with mushrooms, grape tomatoes, herbed tofu, and feta cheese.

Salad with tofu, mushrooms, feta

Then it was time for us to head out of the house. We took a drive by the house that my sister-in-law bought last week! It was cute and in a nice area. I’m excited to see the inside now.

After that, we went to Mayfair Mall to check out the laptops.

Apple store Mayfair

I’ll definitely be getting one of these very soon. The reason that I didn’t buy it today was because I want to clean some items off of my current iBook a bit more before having the Apple store transfer items to the new computer.

Macbook Pro

iPad with Macbook Pro info

I played with Photobooth for a while. πŸ™‚

Photo on 7-24-11 at 1.31 PM

Then it was ice cream/frozen yogurt time in Wauwatosa!

Craig and I are signed up to get a free scoop of ice cream from Baskin Robbins for our birthdays. He picked out cherry and it was tasty!

Baskin Robbins cherry ice cream

Right near Baskin Robbins, there is a new frozen yogurt place! It just opened in June of this year. After becoming a bit obsessed with frozen yogurt in Florida, we longed to have a place like Menchie’s or Pinkberry in Wisconsin. We finally have it with Yo Mama!

Yo Mama! Tosa exterior

Yo Mama! Wauwatosa

Here’s how it works:


Yo Mama Tosa "how to"

Craig always goes for the fruity combinations and I go for chocolate, caramel, etc. Today, I chose Dulce de Leche and Cake Batter swirl. I topped it with heath bar crumble, brownie bites, & cookie dough. Fantastic combination!

Our total for two came to $8.31, which this numbers freak got excited about because my birthday is 8/31 and I love when it pops up unexpectedly at a cash register like that. I know, I am a dork. The yogurts were 45 cents per ounce.

Dulche de Leche/Cake Batter frozen yogurt, brownie bites, choc. chip cookie dough, heath bar crumbles

The interior is cute and reminded us of Menchie’s in Orlando, Florida.




Love the wood on the exterior.

Exterior of Yo Mama

I’ve come to the conclusion that I could open up my own frozen yogurt place and just eat it all the time that way. πŸ™‚

We walked down the street and I was reminded that I still need to check out the French Cafe Le Reve and the olive oil place next door sometime.


What a great afternoon with Craig!

I needed to burn off some of the frozen yogurt, so after a little cat nap with Karma sprawled out on my lap, I hit the gym. I biked for 25 minutes (my ankle is not in tip top shape again, so biking is mainly what I have been doing lately) and lifted weights. I even went to the “men’s weight” area and used the barbells in there to do some Body Pump moves. I was so proud that I broke through my fear of going in that area. Now I’ll never be scared again (I hope).

This is so wrong, but while I meditated, I started craving a BLT. Well, we didn’t have any bacon, so I was imagining a tempeh BLT sandwich and that’s what I made!

Tempeh Sesame Garlic

Like frozen yogurt, tempeh reminds me of Florida because the first and only other time I tried it was while we were there in February. I had it in my Whole Foods salad bar creation and I liked it then.

I cooked it up on the stove and topped it with spinach, mayo, and roma tomatoes.

Tempeh, Spinach, Tomato sandwich

Time to go watch a movie, since I have been half ignoring it and half paying attention.

How was your weekend?

Garden Update: Mid-July

I thought I would write an update on our garden!

We grew everything but the green beans in containers.

We have picked two big batches of green beans in the last week.

green beans

Our roma tomatoes took a big hit this year due to inconsistent watering. The bottoms were turning an icky brown and we didn’t know why until we discovered the cause through using google search.

Some are doing ok now. Phew! We love romas so we need a great batch of them for salsa, bruschetta, salads, etc.

roma tomatoes

tomato brown on bottom

We have a bountiful crop of yellow hot peppers.

hot peppers

The cilantro is starting to die. This might have been our fault because we let the flowers grow in on top. Believe me, we picked them off for weeks, but they just kept coming back.


The basil is thriving and I have been using it in recipes more often than I did last summer.


And some of our cherry tomatoes are doing ok. Some are starting to turn orange, finally!


We also have gotten a few green peppers. They have been on the small side because they are growing in really close to each other. I am kind of bummed about this because I wanted to let them stay on the plant longer for some red peppers.

Do you have a garden? I don’t have the green thumb in our family, but lucky for me, Craig is really good with our plants.

Lunch at Cafe Vino and a trip to Woodman’s

Hello and happy Saturday!

I started my morning off by reading The Snowman and eating Erin Baker’s Peanut Butter mini breakfast cookie. The book is really good so far. It reminds me of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Kind of eerie that it’s set in Oslo after yesterday’s horrific bombing and shootings there.

Erin Baker's Breakfast Cookie Peanut Butter and The Snowman

The breakfast cookie was tasty. Not too sweet and it was all I wanted to eat this morning with my coffee because I knew I would be having an early lunch with my friend.

peanut butter cookie Erin Baker

I headed to Menomonee Falls to have lunch with my friend Danielle at Cafe Vino. I’ve known Danielle since 8th grade and we were best friends in high school. Now that we are busy adults, we try to get together at least once a month. It was nice to catch up with her!


I was able to pick what I wanted on my sandwich, so I got a spinach tortilla filled with grilled portabella mushrooms, provolone cheese, hummus, avocado, and various veggies.

veggie wrap

YUMMY! I need to make something like this for lunch more often.

We took a walk after lunch and then headed back to her house to visit with her adorable daughter.

cat and girl

I loved up Danielle’s cat because she said that her kitties don’t get as much attention as their daughter does. I wish I could take her cats home with me, but four would be too many. With another child on the way, Danielle and her husband really won’t have time to love their cats. Makes me sad. 😦


On my way home, I stopped by Woodman’s to load up on groceries. I got mostly Chobani (three big containers; $10 worth of individual cups), tofu, fruit, tempeh, fish oil, and some portabella veggie burgers.

I called Craig to ask a question and that’s when I heard the news about Amy Winehouse’s death. I could and couldn’t believe it at the same time. While I was writing this post, Craig told me that his cousin, who is studying in England right now, is living a couple of blocks down from where Amy was found. Strange.

Time to meditate, then watch Love and Other Drugs. Hope it’s a good movie! Looking forward to a low key Saturday night.

Summer Harvest Cooking Class

Despite feeling sick yesterday, I got out of the house (which felt great) and went to a cooking class at the Milwaukee Public Market. It was non-refundable and I didn’t want to waste my $20, so I figured I better try and go. I am glad I did because I felt ok and had a great time.

This is the second class I have gone to with the same teacher. Last month, Karis and I went to the first in the series of three Summer Harvest classes.

Milwaukee Public Market cooking class Summer Harvest

I was in the front of the class, but did look up at the TV view occasionally.

cooking class on tv screen

I was bummed because Karis couldn’t make it this time. I spoke to the strangers at my table though and they were quite nice.

The teacher made zucchini with olive oil, rosemary, and garlic and blanched green beans.

green beans and zucchini

I loved both! It was funny to taste the crispy green beans vs. the more cooked ones that my husband made two nights ago. I like the crispy ones better, much to the dismay of my husband, who loves them cooked a bit longer. Like the lady at my table said, “these are like nature’s french fries!”

I had been reading about blanching green beans this week and most recipes suggest putting the green beans on an ice bath. A class participant asked if the teacher was going to do that and she said no, it wasn’t necessary.

Next we tried a Cold Potato and Leek Soup topped with cream and herbs (parsley and chives). I liked the flavor, but it could have used a bit more salt.

Cold Potato & Leek Soup

Tiramisu with Ricotta Cheese and Cherry wine was our dessert and it was glorious. I love tiramisu and probably hadn’t had it since I lived in Switzerland and my Italian friend’s father made the best tiramisu I have ever had in my life. This one came pretty close last night.

Our teacher told us how she searched and searched for the origins of the dessert. The one story she kept finding was this one:

Several sources (from Vin Veneto, dated 1981, to the Italian Academy of Giuseppe Maffioli and several cuisine websites) claim that tiramisu was invented in Treviso at Le Beccherie restaurant by the god-daughter and apprentice of confectioner Roberto Linguanotto, Francesca Valori, whose maiden name was Tiramisu. It is believed that Linguanotto named the dish in honour of Francesca’s culinary skill.

Since I am a history geek, I tend to love learning about the origins of recipes. I found the story she told fascinating, mostly because it is disputed to this day whether the one above is true or others may be.

The teacher tends to be pretty funny at times and she made me laugh out loud when she said something like this “all of you Virgos in the crowd would probably want to dip the ladyfingers into the espresso evenly” instead of haphazardly. She’s right, that would be me (lots of Virgo references on the blog posts today).

tiramisu with ricotta cheese and cherry wine

I hadn’t had tiramisu with ricotta before and I really couldn’t tell the difference. Italians use mascarpone cheese instead in their traditional recipe.

While we ate, the others I sat with and I were discussing how we actually enjoy going to a class to watch the teacher cook rather than participate in one and pay more money for it. I guess I tend to agree. Some of the hands-on classes at the market are $75 and like the lady next to me said, “I’m not going to pay to do all of that work.”

I definitely want to use this class as inspiration to make all of these dishes sometime. I enjoyed my time there, as always, and can’t wait to try more cooking classes at the Milwaukee Public Market.