Family Vacation 2014!

We just got home from an epic road trip/family vacation! We left here early on a Saturday morning and drove up to Chicago. We hung out with some of our best friends L & B, and played the infamous ‘Train Game’ (actually it’s this one). Another couple, G & R, generously drove in from the city and meet us for drinks, dinner, and dessert. L & B  suggested we go a newer restaurant in Westmont, Neat. They had a fabulous beer selection and the pork belly steamed buns are vacation

my delicious pork bahn mi + fries

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 the only photographic evidence of our awesome evening

Bright and early, we drove to Madison to spend lunch with even more friends! J + P just welcomed a new little one so M and I (v. selfishly) brought Culver’s for lunch, walked their sweet dog and got newborn baby snuggles. We headed back down the road towards the cabin in Northern Wiscosin to meet up with M’s family who were a few hours ahead of us on the road. Sunday night we just cooked dinner and caught up. The next day, we drove into Duluth to walk around and take in the sights (and introduce this Lower Midwesterner to the city haha)

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 lichens in duluth

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the USS Bayfield outside the Lake Superior Marine Musuem


lovely aunt c caught taking pictures

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waiting for the trains

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brothers in law

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driftwood along lake superior

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fitgers brewery in duluth
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campfire + magic

We made Thai Beef for dinner and then we had our first night of s’mores. There was a nesting pair of bald eagles so we also spent a bunch of time watching them and even walked up to check out their nest. The next day, we went into Bayfield and did some shopping and well as checked out their Maritime Museum. There was an epic playground right by the shore. I looked all over for some candles made less than a mile way on Madeline Island but I ended up finding them at a small general store 60 miles away :-)
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uncle time!

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sibling time!

We spent one whole day on the beach but Lake Superior is (always) too cold to really go swimming but somehow I managed a sunburn anyways :-) We left the next morning for the return two day drive with another stop off in Chicago. We had dinner with M’s best man, J, at one of our old favorite haunts in Uptown and brunch with another one of our very good friends.  Knowing we’d need to take a break, we stopped off in Indy for a few hours. There is a cool state park downtown and we walked thru the Indiana State Museum (didn’t pay for the exhibits because we were in a 3 hour parking spot).

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All in all, it was an epically awesome 1800 mile trip filled with so much goodness, friends and family. We’re already talking about next year!

Buttermilk Pie

This pie. We were watching the Mind of a Chef when Chef Sean Brock made a buttermilk pie. M turned to me with big eyes and asked if I could make one. So I hunted for a recipe and give it a shot and boy am I pleased with the results. Not only does this come together super fast but it is incredibly sweet and just plain delicious. Make one, you’ll thank me!


You’ll Need:
Your favorite pie crust, for one crust- rolled out and placed in a pie pan, crimped (put it back in the fridge while you assemble the pie)
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) butter, melted
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. In a clean bowl, whisk together the three eggs for a 1 minutes or two. You want the bubbles to stay and the color to begin to lighten (this keeps it fluffy-don’t skip this step!). In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, flour and salt together. Add into the eggs in two additions, whisking to ensure sugar mixture is well incorporated. Add in melted butter, lemon zest and lemon juice, whisking to ensure they are well incorporated. Stir in the buttermilk.
Pour into prepared pie crust and bake for 40-50 minutes. The top should be browned and it should jiggle like Jello in the middle (not liquid but don’t over cook it).

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Blue Cheese

This is one my favorite ways to use butternut squash! I cannot believe I haven’t shared this here before because this little gem is a fall staple and great warm dinner.

pasta with butternut squash and blue

You’ll Need:
4 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
1 tsp olive oil + cooking spray
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
8 oz uncooked pasta, small shapes are the best
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup 2/% milk
1 tsp flour
2 large egg yolks
2 oz blue cheese crumbles (about 1/2 a cup)
toasted walnuts, for topping
pasta with butternut squash and blue

Preheat oven to 425. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and add squash. Spray again and add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Toss to coat and bake until fork tender, about 25 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and keep warm.

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add olive oil and swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic, sauté 3 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup milk, remaining salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup milk, 2 egg yolks and flour. Slowly add egg mixture to pan, stirring with a whisk. Once all mixed, add in blue cheese, reserving a few crumbles for the top. Cook 5 minutes, until thickened, stirring often with a whisk. If there is room in a pan, stir in butternut squash and pasta, stirring to combine. If there isn’t room, toss in a large bowl. Toss with reserved cheese and walnuts, if using.

Cincinnati Style Chili~Fast Dinner Idea

Since moving home, I’ve have eaten at a Skyline Chili as an adult. Unironically, even. I really enjoy the slightly sweet chili and it’s served with carbs! COME ON PEOPLE! It makes me sad for all the wasted years when I thought Cincinnati chili was ‘gross.’ I am trying to limit the visits to fast food joints (not that I don’t have ideas about how to lighten up the Skyline menu-because I doooooooo) and stick to more healthy made at home versions. This isn’t traditional as it uses ground turkey over ground beef. It also skews the more traditional 50/50 beef/beans ratio towards 65/35 because despite evidence to the contrary, I don’t love beans. As with all chili, this is also very good the next day over hot dogs!

cinci chili

You’ll Need:
6 oz uncooked spaghetti
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion,
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz ground turkey
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 ground cinnamon
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed
2 tsp red wine vinegar
shredded cheese for topping
finely chopped white onion for topping

Cook spaghetti as the package directs, leaving out salt and fat. Drain.

While the spaghetti is cooking, heat a large deep sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat. Sauté onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add in ground turkey and cook until browned, stirring to crumble meat. Add in spices (thru cinnamon) and sauté 30 seconds to wake up the flavors. Add in tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add in beans and cook one more minute to warm them up. Stir in vinegar and remove from heat. Serve over spaghetti and top with cheese and fresh white onion if you’re daring.