Meet Reuger!

Luke and I are back at fostering through Secondhand Hounds, and this time we get to hang out with a 4-5 year old lab-ish mix named Reuger (pronounced Roo-ger) until he finds his forever home!

After Chance and Andy we took some time to hang with our number 1 (Ms. Stella) and travel for the holidays, with the plan to get back at it after the new y ear.  As Luke can confirm, I was looking at dogs available to foster daily finding the right one who needed our help, when I came across this photo with the caption:

Reuger has severe demodex mange (non contagious), a secondary bacterial skin and eye infection along with full body hair loss.  He has ulcers all over his body and swollen feet.  His nails were so long they were grown into the pads of his feet


I mean if that Sarah McLaughlin song doesn’t start playing in your head as you look at this you have no soul!

We committed to fostering Reuger at the end of December and he arrived from somewhere down south on Saturday the 21st of January.  He was moving pretty slowly and looked like it hurt him to walk, so we took him to the vet.  Turns out he no longer has mange, but still has the secondary bacterial infection all over his body plus a yeast infection (this is Yeast Dermatitis, another infection of the skin) plus an infection in both ears.  He is also anemic and underweight 😦  Long story short this poor guy has a lot going on (and unfortunately the yeast infection gives him a VERY pungent odor)!

Good news is that this is all treatable with 30 days of prescriptions, and he is already feeling better! (that was until we took him to get neutered today, sorry bud!)

He is great to have around – very chill, loves to be by his humans, and is already potty trained!  Plus after a week of daddy daycare (I traveled the first week we got him) Luke taught him to sit and lay down!

He is a bit of a creeper though, he somehow finds his way from the way back of my SUV next to my face every time we get in the car!


Just creepin!  (ignore the eye goop, this was right after he was neutered and it was from when they put him under)


I look forward to showing some improvement photos as the month progresses and to get this guy lookin’ fly to meet his forever family!

P.S. I got another pup-date from Chance’s parents – THAT SMILE THOUGH!  She said he is still as happy and snuggly as can be, and has started to do this “smile” regularly (heart = melting)!


Book-Themed Engagement Party

This weekend I had the pleasure of hosting an engagement party for my college friend Kristen and her fiance Beau!  It was so much fun getting to know Beau’s friends/family and celebrating a couple and friend who has been so supportive of me throughout the years.

They are getting married at the historic (and gorgeous) James J. Hill library in Downtown St. Paul, so I thought a book theme would be fitting and fun!  I had some old books I had purchased from Goodwill left over from book crafts for my sister’s wedding (she got married at the same place!) that I used to create accents throughout the room.

We decorated the bar with a marquee sign using book paper letters and book paper pomanders (directions here)!  I also wrapped mason jars with book paper and ribbon to add a little more to the flowers!

To spice-up the plastic cups, i hot glued hearts to them as a place for people to write their names (by people i mean me, I always set my glass down and lose it!).  The outlines for the hearts then made great accents for the food labels!

I wanted to have some sort of activity, but with 25+ people I thought it would be tough to do an organized game.  Instead I decorated a mason jar and set-out popsicle sticks for people to write date ideas (not going to lie, the date ideas got more interesting as the drinks were flowing!).


Kristen’s mom bought flowers from Trader Joes and set-out votive candle holders throughout the room which created a romantic atmosphere fitting for the occasion!


Flowers and votive candle holders always add a romantic feel.

You guys know my thing is making food in advance and freezing it, but since I wasn’t hosting the party at my house (it was at the party room of my friend’s mom’s condo) I had time the day-of to prep.  Plus the menu this time was much simpler with shared ingredients.

I got the My Favorite Murder podcast going (shout out fellow Murderinos) on the speaker and zoned out! (my husband found it ironic that while making food for a love-filled engagement party I was thinking about murderers).

I asked the couple what their favorite foods were to help plan the menu and Kristen came back with pizza and salad (girl, lucky you your favorite food is salad!).  So after consulting with my super-cook sister I decide to go with various types of flatbreads and mini salads as the main course.

The flatbreads were really fun to do, I got to get creative and overall they were very easy to execute!  I just used pre-made flatbread from Target, prepped them all in advance, and baked them at the party (400 degrees for 8-10 minutes).  I made five different kinds:

  • Margherita – top the flatbread with olive oil and garlic powder, then layer thinly sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella


  • Sausage & Pepperoni – top the flatbread with your preferred marinara sauce (i used Kirkland) and layer ground italian sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese


  • Apricot brie with carmelized onions – top the flatbread with apricot jam and layer sauteed onions and brie cheese


  • Buffalo Chicken – I had pre-made buffalo chicken by cooking a package of chicken breasts with 1/2 cup frank’s hot sauce and a package of italian dressinng mix in the crockpot (cook on low for 6-8 hours then shred, great for lettuce wraps!).  I topped the flatbread with olive oil then the buffalo chicken, green onions, bleu cheese, and additional frank’s hot sauce


  • Cheddar Apple Prosciutto with Arugula – top the flatbread with olive oil and layer white cheddar cheese chunks and diced prosciutto.  Top with thinly sliced apples and drizzle with honey.  Add arugula after you bake it!


For the salads, you guys know I want my food to be cute, so serving a giant salad bowl was out of the question.  I found these parmesan cheese cups  on Pinterest and they are my new fave.  SUPER easy to make and seem really fancy.  You essentially spread 1-2 Tbl parmesan cheese (I mixed with some garlic powder and rosemary) on parchement paper and bake for 350 degrees for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a shot glass so it forms a cup!

I used the same balsamic dijon salad dressing from New Years  and filled the cups with pre-mixed salad.  I loved the color and look, and can’t wait to fill these bad boys with dips, etc. – so much room for activities.


To compliment the pizza and salad I made this Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade with crakers and Antipasto Kabobs (cooked tortellini marinated in italian dressing skewered with a mozzarella ball, salami slice, cherry tomato, and an olive).

For dessert, I made cream cheese miniatures and brownie bites.

Here is the full menu:

  • Antipasto Kabobs
  • Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade
  • Balsamic salad in Parmesan cups
  • 5 Different Flatbreads (Margherita, sausage/pepperoni, apricot brie with carmelized onions, buffalo chicken, and cheddar apple prosciutto with arugala)
  • Cream Cheese Miniatures
  • Brownie Bites

The food was a hit, but most importantly the couple had fun!  We had several cheers to the happy couple and enjoyed getting to know one another.  Can’t wait for the rest of the wedding festivities!

Congrats Beau and Kristen!!


Mini Cheesecakes

I am not sure where this recipe came from, but it has been my birthday dessert request since I was a kid.  I love these cheesecakes because they have minimal ingredients and aren’t too rich.

You can make these in muffin-size tins, or for a larger crowd you can make mini ones as well, which is what I did for the engagement party I hosted (who knew they make mini vanilla wafers?)

I topped half of the cheesecakes with raspberry pie filling, and half with melted chocolate and sea salt (Actually i got rid of some old candy in our cupboard and melted some rolos, it worked great!).

Cream Cheese Miniatures

Makes: 25-30 muffin size, 50-60 mini


  • 3 8 oz. packages cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5-6 drops lemon juice
  • vanilla wafer cookies (regular for muffin-size, mini wafers for mini size)
  • cupcake liners
  • pie filling or topping of choice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and soften cream cheese
  2. Combine softened cream cheese with eggs, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice
  3. Beat until smooth and creamy
  4. Insert cupcake liners in pan and place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each liner (flat-side down)
  5. Fill liners about 3/4 full with cream cheese batter
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (tops will crack when they are complete)
  7. Cool and top with topping of choice (pie filling, melted chocolate, caramel, etc)


They are visually appealing, cute (as you know my favorite), and easy – enjoy!


Paper Pomander Balls

My sister got married at the gorgeous James J Hill Library in downtown St. Paul a few years ago.

As mentioned she is a super-crafter, and as part of her book-themed decorations we made these awesome pomanders.  A very good friend is getting married at the same library, so in preparation for her engagement party I brought them back.

Here is What you Need:

  • Paper of choice – I used book paper for the theme (grabbed a book from Goodwill) but any thin paper would work
  • Head Pins (like these)
  • Foam ball (like these, you can pick the size)

Here are the steps:

  1. Tear out 2-3 pages at a time and fold in half 3 times
  2. Cut into what I am calling “jagged ovals” (see the picture below and ignore the chewed fingernails)

3. Separate the ovals and fold in half/crinkle them so they are easier to work with

4. Stick a pin in the center and insert into the foam ball, folding/crinkling the paper as you do


5. Repeat, spreading out and shifting the paper so it looks flower-like!  Here is the finished product 🙂

A couple of tips:

  • Overall they are super simple, however I’ll admit that they are somewhat time consuming.  It is the perfect multi-tasking activity!  In my case that meant binge-watching The Fall on Netflix (how can someone so attractive be so creepy at the same time?!)
  • Don’t bring these through airport security.  When I was making these for my sister I and accidentally left one in my carry-on and definitely got stopped at security.  I can only imagine what these looked like in a scanner!


They can be hung or put on candle holders – a fun decoration!




Easy Food for a Crowd – New Years 2017

First off Happy official New Year!

Luke and I got to ring in 2017 AND celebrate a friend’s birthday at a gorgeous cabin “up north” (aka Northern Minnesota).

We spent our weekend eating, drinking, exploring, and overall celebrating all while in comfy clothes next to a fire.  It was perfect!

I agreed to make a couple of meals, and knowing that refrigerator space would be at a premium (got to have room for beer right?!) and that we would likely be either hungover or consuming adult beverages, I wanted to keep the prep work to a minimum.

For breakfast I decided to make these yummy ham, cheese, and spinach puffs from  I made these little suckers in advance the week before and froze them.  Then to add a little more protein, I also cracked an egg over half of them.  I thawed them overnight, so all I had to do that morning was heat them up at 350 degrees and bake for roughly 20 minutes.  They were a great use of leftover Christmas ham and went over well!  Without the egg they would also make a good appetizer 🙂

Tip: layer tinfoil on the pan if you crack the egg and spray well as it can get quite sticky).

I completed the spread with a run to Costco – fruit, bagels, and muffins.  Easy to grab and low maintenance!


For Dinner I decided to make Roxie’s famous lasagna (my mother-in-law).  We needed something hearty to prepare for New Years Eve and I wanted to feed 14 people without breaking the bank so lasagna worked-out perfect.  Plus per my advance prep theme I could make it in advance and freeze it.  The nice thing also about Minnesota is that we could keep the lasagna outside then set it out the morning-of to defrost….there are some perks to this tundra!

I made two different kinds – Traditional beef marinara and Turkey Pesto.  I served it with two loaves of Costco asiago bread and a salad bar (Arugala mixture, goat cheese, bleu cheese, cheery tomatoes, diced peppers, green onion, etc.).

I will say the salad bar was raised-up a notch thanks to my sister’s AMAZING balsamic dressing recipe.  People who don’t even like salad were eating it thanks to this dressing.  For those who don’t know, my sister is a true chef – she just combines things and it works, whereas I need recipes.  I texted her for this recipe and she was like oh just combine a few ingredients and voilà…needless to say I made her breakdown portion sizes for me 😉


Credit: Roxie Fox

For the meat sauce:

– 1 1/2 lb lean hamburger
– 1/2 lb italian sausage
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp ground pepper
– 1 tsp oregano
– 1 tsp parsley
– 1 Tbl basil
– 2 cans (14 1/2 oz) whole tomatoes (do not drain)
– 2 cans (6 oz) tomato paste

For the cheese layer:

– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1/2 tsp pepper
– 2 Tbl parsley
– 1/2 Cup parmesan cheese
– 1 lb (divided in half) mozzarella cheese
– 24 oz ricotta or cottage cheese
– 12-14 lasagna noodles


– Cook hamburger, onion, sausage & garlic until meat is browned over medium heat, drain
– add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, tomatoes, & tomato paste – stir until mixed well, cover & simmer for 1 hour
– cook lasagna noodles, drain, & set aside
– spray 9×13 inch pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees
– combine cottage cheese/ricotta cheese, eggs, pepper,  parmesan cheese, & 1/2 lb. of mozzarella cheese
– in a pan layer noodles, meat sauce, & cheese mixture.  Repeat layer.
– top with 1 layer of noodles and sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella
– cover and bake at 375 degrees for 40-60 minutes

Modification options:

– I rolled the lasagna noodles so each noodle made one roll-up – this makes the lasagna easier to serve.  To make two batches (24 pieces of lasagna) it took a double recipe of the meat sauce and a triple recipe of the filling.

– I ran out of ricotta cheese, so I used greek yogurt in one batch to keep it creamy.  It still tasted fine!

– To make a ground turkey pesto version, I subbed the meat with ground turkey, and replaced the tomato paste and one can of the tomatoes with Kirkland (Costco) pesto.  It was SUPER flavorful!  I also added a bit of pesto to the cheese mixture for added flavor as well.

Balsamic Dressing


– balsamic vinegar
– olive oil
– dijon mustard
– garlic, oregano, basil to taste

Combine 1 part balsamic vinegar to 1 part olive oil (slightly more olive oil) and add Dijon mustard to taste.

I used 1/4 cup balsamic to 1/3 cup olive oil with 1 Tbl Dijon mustard and tweaked from there.

Add garlic, pepper, oregano, etc. per your preference

As a side note – we ate those champagne jello shots I posted and they were awful (I mean strong, but tasted terrible!).  I am going to make it my mission to find a better recipe for you guys!

But overall it was a great weekend – I loved catching-up with my friend from growing-up, Greta, and enjoying the Minnesota winter for a change.

Cheers to 2017!