Embrace That Cheese!

I’m that cheesy girl that has “Live. Laugh. Love.” stenciled on the wall behind my bed. And above that cheesy phrase, I have a pair of picture frames that hold 16 of my favorite photos and memories. I first put it up there, oh I don’t know, probably 7 years ago. Well, this weekend I decided it was time for an update because I couldn’t stand looking at my awkward middle school years any longer.

First, I had to determine which ones I wanted to keep in there.

I’ll spare you the baby pictures, but this one has to be shown. This is mine and my parents’ favorite photo of me, like ever.

Little Carrie-6
Awww, cute little blondie in a strawberry dress!

Then came the new ones. Even though (or maybe because) I went through a phase where I wouldn’t allow my parents to take pictures of me, it was actually really hard to narrow it down!

My dad noticed that this boy didn’t make the cut last time, so I had to include my favorite puppy picture!

Seriously, this cuteness kills me.
Seriously, this cuteness kills me.

Since he’s figured out how to take photos on his cell phone, my dad has been taking pictures of my mom and I more often and I’ve actually been liking some of them! This was this year in Hawaii.

10884820_970005336362808_1347974942_nLast year in Hawaii I was taking selfies for friends and my mom snuck into a few of them. This was the first one she managed to photobomb and I love it not because of me, but because that’s a genuine smile from her and that’s really hard to capture in a picture.

20140104_090738While we’re on the Hawaii theme, even though I hate taking them, I’ve always loved family photos.

(Are you starting to sense a theme here? I don’t like to have pictures taken of me, but I love taking them and looking at them…Still figuring out how to balance that.)

20140108_102349-1I thought about putting a picture from my high school graduation in there, but every picture was after the ceremony when I was just getting tired. And it was dark. So that was out.

Then I looked through pictures from my graduation trip to New York with my brother. That was during my don’t-take-pictures-of-me phase, but he insisted and I’m glad he did because I like this.

IMG_5846Then, I mean, obviously you all know who else I needed to include. That’s right. BABY!

I love this picture SO much! Pure happiness. And that baby face. Oh, Juliana.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was recently when I was feeling pretty jealous of my momma. I was taking so many cute Grandma/baby pictures and didn’t have very many cute Auntie/baby pictures so I told my dad to just take pictures every time I held her. And this gem was one of them.

If the last picture is pure happiness, this is pure love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen I had one spot left and I knew exactly what I wanted.

This is my all time favorite family picture. It was the day we got my first dog, Larry, and our house was very new and I was a little sweetie!

Little FamilyYes, I am very much that cheesy sentimentalist. I happen to love my “Live. Laugh. Love.” And now, I can’t stop looking at all these pictures and reminiscing every time I walk past. Gotta embrace it.

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Grandma’s Rhubarb Crunch

I don’t remember anyone in my family making this recipe before I found out that we had rhubarb growing in our garden. Once I figured that out, I think I went out there everyday and picked some, brought it in, chopped it up and froze it. I’ve always loved that process for some reason. Then I was determined to learn how to make this and it’s been in my top five favorite desserts ever since.

I start by defrosting seven cups of chopped up rhubarb and I add one cup of sliced strawberries for a little extra sweetness. (You can also just add eight cups of rhubarb and be done with it, but I like the addition of the strawberries.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen I start on the sauce by adding 4 tablespoons of corn starch, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1-1/2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water to a small saucepan and letting it thicken on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext comes the crumb topping. I dare you not to eat one or two or five spoonfuls of this stuff once it’s all mixed together. I dare you.

Start by mixing 2 cups of brown sugar, 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of uncooked oatmeal and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in a bowl.

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Once that’s mixed together, melt 1 cup of butter and slowly mix it into the dry mixture.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you’ve added all of the butter, it will look irresistible and here’s where the dare comes in. I dare you not to eat it at this stage. (Honestly, I used to make a little extra and take some out before the next step so I would have some to eat without feeling guilty and ashamed. But I eventually stopped doing that because I felt guilty and ashamed. Funny how that works.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPress half of the crumb mixture into a greased 9×13″ pan.

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By this time the sauce is smooth and thick and ready for use.

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Throw all of the rhubarb and strawberries on top of that crumbly crumb base and pour all of the sauce over the top.

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And top it off with the rest of the crumbly crumbs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABake it in a 350 degree oven for one hour. One torturous hour.

And then when it’s done, let it cool for at least 30 minutes. But no one’s stopping you from “cleaning up the edges!”

And when it’s done…Oh, my. When it’s done I go to heaven.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEnjoy.

Today.

Please.

Spring?

So nature isn’t exactly stunning at this time of the year. But this morning, my dad and I took a walk around our property and I saw beauty in everything I saw. Well, except in this. This isn’t pretty. (Why did I take a picture of deer poop?!)

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The weather here in Minnesoooooota has been so crazy warm lately that it’s feeling more like May than March. And that is okay by me!

Here are some pictures that for some reason or another, I really like.

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I’ve always loved the look of our wood piles, don’t know why. Just have.
MILLIE! The sweetest llama you'll ever meet. Literally.
MILLIE! The sweetest llama you’ll ever meet. Literally.
I can never remember what kind of tree this is. My parents tell me all the time, but it never sticks. But it looks cool all year.
I can never remember what kind of tree this is. My parents tell me all the time, but it never sticks. But it looks cool all year.
Some much needed color in the vast expanse of brown.
Some much needed color in the vast expanse of brown.
I love the drama in this photo--stunning!
I love the drama in this photo–stunning!
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I love these boys so damn much.
Yum. That's all I can say.
Colors. Lines. Lighting. LOVE.
This tree has no branches going to the right!
This tree has no branches going to the right!
I love Mr. Tree!
I love Mr. Tree!
I see you, ladies! Finishing up the Christmas trees?
I see you, ladies! Finishing up the Christmas trees?
Fenwood, you're not usually the piggy!
Fenwood, you’re not usually the piggy!
Num num.
Num num!
Mmmm! That there hay sure is gooood!
Mmmm! That there hay sure is gooood!
Why are you still pointing that thing at me?
Why are you still pointing that thing at me?
Sugar has always been the most arrogant of the bunch. "None of these are to my liking."
Sugar has always been the most arrogant of the bunch. “None of these are to my liking.”
But she also gives me the most headshots.
Don’t you sass me, girl.
And this boy still licks up his diminishing snow piles.
And this boy still licks up his diminishing snow piles.

I think it’s finally Spring! But this is Minnesoooota, so you never know. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

One of Those Unplanned Perfect Days

You know those days where plans constantly change and you never seem to accomplish what you woke up expecting to get done but somehow the day ends up being damn near perfect? Yesterday was one of those days.

I heard the phone ring before the sun came up (but with this stupid Daylight Savings Time, that’s not as early as it sounds) and heard that it was from my brother. From that, I could deduce that we were going to be on sick-baby-duty.

I knew that I wanted to get up and make this deliciousness, so I got ready in record time and started prepping the ingredients. I knew that once the little princess arrived, I’d be more interested in whatever adorable mess she was getting herself into than my breakfast.

When my mom got back with J, I started cooking up breakfast and she got to do this.

Life is not fair.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGrandma is such a good influence. “Here, Juliana, stick these pointy ears in your mouth!” While I was a little bit jealous, I have to admit, it is sweet to see them bond like this. She really does love her Grandma. (And her auntie, of course!)

She sat there while we inhaled our breakfasts (aka I inhaled mine so I could get more cute baby shots) and continued to be adorable and carry on a conversation with her grandparents.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter breakfast, Grandma went off and did her Grandma things and Grandpa went off and did his Grandpa things, so Juliana had to hang with her awesome Auntie for the afternoon.

She was feeling a tiny bit needy because she was sick, which is why Auntie didn’t get the chance to take any cute pictures. *sad face*

We bounced (she bounced), listened to some boybands (Auntie rocked out to One Direction and the Beatles and Juliana stared at her butterfly and occasionally bounced), had some pears for lunch, and then took a nap (Juliana napped and Auntie cleaned up and loaded the morning’s pictures onto her computer).

When she woke up (too soon), we chilled and had some sweet cuddly time until the grandparents got back. Then she got super adorable. Grandpa was at a rather important meeting and got some promising news. He decided to celebrate with a glass of scotch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd Juliana was showing some interest!

She didn’t have any–we’re not that crazy. But we did let her sniff it.

And then she wanted to go see her Grandma and be the sweetest sweetheart ever.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then Grandma wanted to take J for a walk around our property and I couldn’t control myself. Look at this sweetie:

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Her first llama experience!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe pretty much went right to sleep when we got inside and Auntie got to work on her resume. (Yay.) But I actually thought it was fun! I was so proud of myself when I finally finished it and didn’t use any templates or anything! And it had been weighing on me for a while, so it was nice to have it all done.

And I got to end the day by writing my first cooking post (which I had been looking forward to for a while but couldn’t seem to find the time for) and watching “Julie & Julia” with my padre.

Oh, and did I mention I had Mac & Cheese for dinner? Mmmm. Throwback.

Didn’t plan any of it, but enjoyed all of it. It’s days like that that make me feel so lucky to have the life that I have.

The Breakfast to Cure Any Hangover

Okay, so I wasn’t out partying last night. But, I was pretty worn out from watching my sick niece yesterday afternoon and I was in desperate need of a delicious and filling breakfast this morning. I had been dreaming about this all night and couldn’t wait to get up and start cooking this morning!

My dad and I go to this cute little diner for breakfast once or twice a month and their “Hangover Breakfast Sandwich” was my inspiration for this dish.

There are essentially four parts to this dish:

  • Hash browns
  • Meat (I used Italian sausage, but you can use whatever meat you feel like)
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • One or two eggs overeasy

I started with the hash browns, because I prefer to make them from scratch. Nothing against the frozen ones, I just like the process of making my own.

(Keep in mind: I was making this for 3 people)

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I peeled 5 potatoes…
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…Halved them and then shredded them in this here device. If you have a device from this century, feel free to use that. I actually love this one, though.
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This was the beautiful end result.

I then put the meat in the microwave to defrost and started on the Hollandaise, which happens to be the best sauce in the world. I put it on eggs all the time, whether they’re overeasy or scrambled really doesn’t matter to me. It’s just delicious. And then you leave out the cayenne and add tarragon and it’s heavenly on steak. It’s the best.

It’s a little intimidating the first few times, but it’s actually a really simple recipe.

I started by adding 2 egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, 2 teaspoons of cream (I use heavy whipping cream, mostly because that’s what we have around most of the time), salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper to the top of a “double boiler.” I use quotes because I just put a little bowl inside a pot with about an inch of water in it.

I whisked it all together and let it thicken over medium-high heat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen it started to thicken, I turned the heat down to low and started adding 8 tablespoons of butter (1 stick) 1 tablespoon at a time only adding the next when the first was completely dissolved.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter I had added all of the butter, I turned the heat off and added a few drops of lemon juice. If you like the spice, now is when you could add another dash or two of cayenne.

When the Hollandaise was finished, I cooked up the hash browns and Italian sausage. When those were almost finished, I cooked the eggs. We each had one, but I wish I’d had two.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen comes the fun part: assembling!

I started with a layer of hash browns on the bottom. I added some sharp cheddar cheese on top of that, but if there’s any layer you want to skip, you can skip the cheese. Then I added the Italian Sausage on top of that followed by the egg. Then the whole thing gets drenched in Hollandaise. Mmmmm! So good!

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