Happy Hump Day & a Painting the Town Party review

2244cf1ffe40d1ddacb7d299376351a9

Oh yeah, it’s Hump Day everyone! Is this week flying by or is it just me?!

Yesterday was another beautiful day here in Bismarck! I think we might have topped out at a sunny 48 degrees! Glorious day for a run outside which is what I did after work before picking my little one up.

To top the day off, I had a “girls date” with my dear friend Jenna. We had plans to “Paint the Town” and I was pretty pumped for a girls night out.

The Paint the Town Party is an event put on by one of our local news stations, Towns Square Media. We were able to buy tickets through this really great site called Seize the Deal. Seize the Deal is one of those daily deal websites that offers discounts on local restaurants as well as tickets for activities around town. It sounded like a really great time! Admission got you one ticket to Painting the Town Party at Lucky Ducks which included class and instruction time, two adult beverages and a shared appetizer. And best of all, you get to go home with a canvas painting that you made!

I loved that the class was held at Lucky Ducks! It is a local restaurant and bar that has really unique and delicious sandwiches as well as other lunch and dinner items. My all time favorite is their Teal Sandwich, a delicious combination of sliced turkey breast, sprouts, cucumber, tomato, & a wasabi aioli. I usually get it on the wheat and have it toasted. Yummmmmmmm….

DSC_0049

Anyway, back to the painting the town. I arrived at Lucky Duck’s a little late of course…story of my life! Jenna had gotten there on time and got us a spot. They had the upstairs section of the Pond, Lucky Duck’s Bar, sectioned off and had the tables already set up with canvases and paint when I got there. AND the wine was already being served. There are bonuses to being late. 🙂

DSC_0053

After getting settled in and helping myself to a plate full of the awesome taco dip & tortilla roll-ups, we got to work.

DSC_0052

Jenna getting in touch with her inner artist.

Adding some "snow" after completing my gray background

Adding some “snow” after completing my gray background

Jenna and I

Jenna and I

DSC_0059

Almost finished!

Almost finished!

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0068

Our finished work!

Over all, it was a really fun event! My only critique would be the expense, $45 which included the above mentioned adult beverages, appetizers, art supplies & instruction. There are actually other classes like this available in town for $20 or less where you bring your own wine if you want and get to create an art piece and take it home.

I did love that the event was at Lucky Ducks, which is in downtown Bismarck. Had Jenna or I been able to stay out later, it would have been fun to go to some of the other downtown pubs to have a cocktail after our class.

Also, the instructor did a really great job considering how full the room was. Lots of ladies…and one lucky guy…enjoying tasty wine and good company make a noisy bunch. But she did a great job getting to each table to make sure we were keeping up and not butchering our work.

All in all, I would definitely recommend taking one of these classes if you live in Bismarck. They are on Tuesday nights from 6:30 – 8:30 at Lucky Ducks. You can buy tickets to the event here.

Hope you all had a fabulous Hump Day!

Cheers!

Emily’s Sweet Potato Bites

The sun was shinning, no wind and FORTY-FIVE degrees outside! It may be January in North Dakota but yesterday felt like a crisp spring day in May! I just love days like that! It was so nice to have a little break from the cold. Helps a person make it through those long cold months of a mid-western winter.

I absolutely had to take advantage of the beautiful weather and get Emily outside. So we went for a quick walk after work in Sertoma Park. Sertoma is a beautiful 3 mile long park that runs along the Missouri River on the West side of Bismarck. It has a great multi use path that keeps pretty clear through the winter…just need to watch for the flooded areas when all the snow melts after days like yesterday. 🙂

20150126_163208

The Ferris wheel may be quiet and still this time of year but it’s still a unique feature in an otherwise lackluster winter landscape.

In the summer and nicer months of the year, Sertoma is a very popular park for family gatherings with its many shelters and play gyms, access to Dakota Zoo and we can’t forget about the awesome SuperSlide Amusement Park!

We ended up having a really great walk! It was crisp but warm enough to enjoy a 30 minute stroll and take a couple of pictures. Emily stayed content with a little snack and lots to look at!20150126_163336

20150126_1633541

There are many old river trees throughout Sertoma Park. I especially love this one. I’ve seen it used in many family pictures and even looks beautiful in its naked winter wear.

After we got home and enjoyed some leftover beef street tacos (recipe to come for that) and got Emily washed up and snuggled up in bed, I decided to get some sweet potato bites made for her for the week.

Sweet and savory at the same time, these sweet potato bites are probably Emily’s all time favorite finger food. They were one of the first recipes I made for her and she’ll still eat them cold or warm. And they are SO good for her! These little morsels are a very good source of vitamins like B6, A, & C,  low in Sodium, and a great source of Dietary Fiber. (Nutritional info.)

DSC_0001

To get these tasty treats ready, I take one medium sweet potato, wash and scrub it clean of all dirt, and peel the skin off with a veggie peeler. DSC_0003

Once you get it prepped, use a sharp knife to slice and dice the potato into cubes about the size of a large pea.

DSC_0004

Once you finish slicing & dicing, coat a medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray and toss in the bites. Drizzle no more than 1/2 tsp. of olive or grape seed oil over the bites & 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Mix it all up until the bites are coated and glistening.

DSC_0005

Bake the sweet potato bites in the oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until they are soft but not soggy.  Let them cool to room temperature…try not to eat them all while you wait. 😉 Once they are cool enough, I portion the bites out into 4 plastic baggies and put all the baggies into a labeled freezer bag and toss into the freezer for use later in the week.

DSC_0014

These bags are great to grab and go if you’re out and about or to use as a backup veggie for dinner or a snack.

DSC_0009

I hope you and your little one enjoy these tasty sweet potato bites as much as we do!

Until next time 🙂

Angie

Sweet Potato Bites

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 Medium Sweet Potato
  • 1/2 tsp. Olive or Grape Seed Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash and scrub sweet potato of all dirt, and peel the skin off with a veggie peeler. Slice and cut it into bites a little bigger than a pea.

Coat a medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray and toss in the bites. Drizzle no more than 1/2 tsp. of olive or grape seed oil over the bites & 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Mix it all up until the bites are coated.

Bake about 30 minutes or until the bites are soft but not soggy.  Let them cool to room temperature. Once they are cool enough, portion the bites out into 4 plastic baggies and put all the baggies into a labeled freezer bag for later use.

Thought of the day…Fitting It All In

It was the end of a busy Monday and I was finally just sitting down to read for a few minutes. Sitting in my cozy bed, I found myself thinking about my day. As a full-time working mom, I’m constantly struggling with how to manage everything. From caring for and spending QUALITY time with my daughter, to FOCUSING on what needs to be done at work, to making dinner and picking up the house…Clock_Runningit always seems to be a battle against time and energy. How do you find time for yourself, your partner, your health?!

It seems to be the question on everyone’s mind. I’ve talked to other moms, read articles online, and tried a few things out and came up with a few ideas on how to Fit It All In!

  • SLEEP! The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours for an adult. I know that sounds impossible some days but it’s so important to give your body time to rest and recharge so you CAN make it through your day.
  • Make a schedule and stick with it! I use my Google calendar to do this. It’s what works for me but do whatever works best for you. I just enter my schedule into my calendar and boom…reminders 15 minutes before my task to keep me moving on to the next thing.
  • Take your breaks at work. This one is really hard for me. I usually just end up eating lunch at my desk and leave work with tired eyes from staring at my computer all day. Take the recommended 15 minute breaks if your job allows it. Go walk around your building or block. If it’s cold out, like it is here in January, walk around INSIDE the building. I’m lucky to work in a large complex so there are lots of halls and floors to get a decent little walk in 15 minutes. Which leads me to my next point…
  • Exercise!! Now how do you fit that in? That one is tough. I recently started training for a 1/2 marathon so I’m running twice a week on my lunch break and twice on the weekends while my daughter naps. Another one of my favorite things to do lately is a morning bathroom workout! It only takes 10-15 minutes and it gets my blood pumping right away in the morning. What does a typical bathroom routine look like you ask? A little something like this…
  1. 1 minute jumping jacks
  2. 15 squats (Be sure your knees don’t go over your toes!)
  3. 15 tricep dips (I use the side of my tub for these)
  4. 10 pushups – use your knees if you need to – I do 🙂
  5. 10 lunges (each leg)
  6. 20 knee highs
  7. 30 second plank
  8. 20 leg raises (check out this video to see how to do this one)
  9. 5 jumping squats (another good video)
  10. Finish it up with 10 good old-fashioned sit ups (So much harder than they were in grade school!)
  •  Wake up 30 minutes earlier. This somewhat contradicts my point of getting your 8 hours but if you’ve gotten at least 7 hours of sleep and need to get a few more things done in your day, get up 30 minutes earlier. Hopefully, no one else is awake yet and you can do your morning bathroom workout, shower, get ready, get the coffee going, get your lunch together and start breakfast before anyone else gets up!
  • The dishes can wait. One of the hardest things for me is NOT cleaning when I get home from work. Many days, the dishwasher needs to be emptied, a load of laundry needs to be thrown in, maybe the garbage could be taken out and goodness knows the rest of the house could use a deep clean! My daughter is 14 months old now and it feels like just yesterday I could hold her sleeping in one of my arms while I did those dishes. Now, she’s trying to take my hand to help her toddle around the house, pointing at everything, and stealing the dogs toys. IT GOES SO FAST! Don’t spend those precious few hours you get to be with your children doing the dishes! Hold their hands. Kiss their cheeks. LAUGH with them and sing songs and dance with them. That’s what I try to do every day with Emily and they are the best hours of my day. You can do the dishes when the kids are sleeping 🙂
  • Kiss your partner and say I Love You EVERYDAY! This one isn’t hard and only takes a minute but makes up for a lot of the lost time you used to spend together. At the end of the day, after the kids are in bed, the dishes are done, the toys put away, grab a glass of wine or water and sit down with your partner. Even if you don’t talk but just sit next to each other, those moments matter.
  • LAUGH! This isn’t something that helps you Fit It All In but it really makes the day so much better!

I hope this list help you try to make it through your busy day! I’m sure some of you have more to deal with but remember to just take a deep breath, stretch &  smile before you rush on to the next thing.

Angie

 

 

Turkey & Black Bean Mexican Casserole

There isn’t much I like better mid week than Taco Tuesday at the Miller House. This Tuesday I revamped a Taste of Home recipe and came up with my Turkey & Black Bean Mexican Casserole!

DSC_0046

As I’ve mentioned before, we LOVE Mexican food at our house. Recipes like this one and the one below are some of our favorites.  I swear I must be half Mexican, half Italian with my deep love of Mexican food & pizza!

I’ve loved Mexican food for as long as I can remember. I remember one of my favorite dishes from when I was a kid, my Mom’s Beef Enchilada Casserole. Oh the cheesy, slightly spicy mess of it still makes my mouth water! I’m definitely going to have to create a healthier version of it and share with you all.

But today, I want to share this tasty Mexican casserole that was a big hit at our house…even my 14 month old loved it!

First, gather all your ingredients and get chopping! I like to prep all my veggies and get my spices out before I start cooking. Goes so much faster that way!

DSC_0021

Next, place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom with about 1 tablespoon olive or grape seed oil. Add in 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1/2 medium chopped onion, & 1 chopped red or green pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes or until onions are translucent.

DSC_0026

Toss in the lean ground turkey. Cook until meat is no longer pink, or about 10 minutes.

 

DSC_0030

Now it’s time to spice things up! Stir in chicken stock, flour, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander & salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until thickened.

DSC_0034

While things are simmering and smelling awesome in your skillet, open the can of black beans, drain & rinse, & get mashing. I just use my handy potato masher to do this. Add in the 1/2 cup salsa of your choice. I love this Kramer’s Homemade Salsa but go with whatever floats your boat! Mix this up and get ready to layer.

DSC_0040

Place two tortillas in a round 2-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half of the meat mixture, bean mixture and corn; repeat layers. Top the whole thing of with the sharp cheddar cheese.  Now it’s ready to bake!

DSC_0043

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is all melted and bubbly. Remove and let it stand for about 5 minutes before cutting. I like to pile on the toppings with this one. The more avocado on a Mexican dish the better in my eyes!  But feel free to add/delete what ever toppings you like. I added lettuce, tomatoes, avocado,  & sour cream to mine.

DSC_0044

Oh look at that pile of cheesy tortilla goodness! Serve it up with a veggie of your choice and some chips & salsa and you’ve got a delicious Mexican meal to complete your Taco Tuesday!

Hope you enjoy!

Turkey & Black Bean Mexican Casserole

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive or grape seed oil
  • 1 Tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Red or green pepper, chopped
  • 1.3 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp Chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 can (16oz) Black beans, mashed
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped avocado, sour cream/plain greek yogurt, optional

Directions:

  • Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and coat the bottom with about 1 tablespoon olive or grape seed oil. Add in 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1/2 medium chopped onion, & 1 chopped red or green pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  • Add lean ground turkey. Cook until meat is no longer pink, or about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in chicken stock, flour, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander & salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until thickened.
  • While things are simmering, open the can of black beans, drain & rinse, & mash. I just use my handy potato masher to do this. Add in the 1/2 cup salsa of your choice and mix together.
  • Place two tortillas in a round 2-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half of the meat mixture, bean mixture and corn; repeat layers. Top the whole thing of with the sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until heated through and cheese is all melted and bubbly. Remove and let it stand for about 5 minutes before cutting.  Top with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado,  & sour cream.

Cinnamon Baked Pear Bites

Emily’s favorite Pear Bites

DSC_3019

When my daughter started eating finger foods, I struggled to find a variety of healthy foods for her to eat.  I really wanted to provide her with vegetables, fruits, healthy carbs, & proteins that she could eat on her own. One of her all time favorites are these baked pear bites! So easy to make and cheaper, healthier & yummier than the fruit cups you can buy in the store.  Although,  I admit I’ve bought the fruit cups in a pinch. 🙂

So to get started, set your oven to warm at 350 degrees.

Wash 2 pears & cut in half. Cut the core out of the middle of each half. Place them flesh up in a baking dish. Fill the dish with about 1 inch of water.
DSC_3001Bake for about 20 minutes or until flesh is easily pierced with a fork. This is the part where you enjoy the comforting aroma of baking pears…so delicious!

Remove pear halves from baking dish and set aside to cool. Once cooled enough to handle, cut each pear half in half & use a knife to remove the skin. Slice & cube pear quarters into bites a little larger than a pea. Put bites into a bowl, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and mix. I sometimes add a pinch of nutmeg for a little added spice. Definitely give them a try…you may end up having to make another batch for your little one! 😉

DSC_3009

DSC_3013
 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Baked Pear Bites

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 pears ( I use Bartlett pears)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Turn oven on to 350 degrees.

Wash  pears & cut in half. Cut the core out of the middle of each half. Place them flesh up in a baking dish. Fill dish with about 1 inch of water.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until flesh is easily pierced with a fork.

Remove pear halves from baking dish and set aside to cool. Once cooled enough to handle, cut each pear half in half & use a knife to remove the skin. Slice & cube pear quarters into bites a little larger than a pea. Put bites into a bowl, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and mix. I sometimes add a pinch of nutmeg for a little added spice.

About

Hello and welcome to Northutopia!

About the blog…

20180727_205423

Bismarck Street Art

Northutopia is a little blog I began as a fun little place to share my love of living in North Dakota, of traveling, cooking, reading, running, and being a mom.

I love living in the mid-west! Many people may wonder why I would choose to live in a place where the temperature varies from -30 degrees Fahrenheit (before the wind chill) to 100 degrees! Well that is what Northutopia is all about! I love finding the beauty in the little things and ways to have fun through our long, freezing winters.

Northutopia is also about FOOD! I love food. I love eating it, making it, talking about it…did I mention eating it? Here, you will find healthy, affordable meal ideas that will feed your whole family, including your little ones!  I firmly believe in the value of sitting down together as a family EVERY night and work hard to make that happen. Finding a healthy meal that everyone will enjoy, including my little ones, is a challenge but I love seeing them try new things and I love spending a few minutes being able to chat with my husband about his day over a nice family dinner.

You’ll also find reviews on books, local eateries & cafe’s, & travel destinations…where to stay, where to eat, what to do. My husband and I loved to travel pre-baby and are making it a point to still make a couple of trips a year now that we are Four instead of Two.

A little more about me…

River Day!My name is Angie Miller, proud wife and mother to 2 beautiful little girls.  I work full-time outside of the home as an Account Executive at our local NBC affiliate. I love living in North Dakota, most of the time. 🙂 It admittedly gets trying come January when its negative 30 degrees out most days but I always try to find ways to keep busy and have fun through those long winter months.

I love food! I love finding fun healthy recipes to try as well as working to perfect our favorites. We love Mexican food and pizza in our house so I’m always trying to find healthy alternatives so we can enjoy our favorites without feeling guilty. I’m a big fan of organic and natural products and try to use those in my cooking as much as possible.

Running is my stress relief. I love the way I feel after finishing a good 6 mile run! Ahhhh…so tired and yet rejuvenated! I finished my first full marathon in October of 2012. I’ve ran three 1/2 marathons so far and am running my first 1/2 marathon since having my babies this May.  I’m also a huge Pure Barre fan! I fell in love with the Pure Barre method last fall and have loved the way it has changed my body and helped with my running. I love helping people find the joy of running and being active so please let me know if you have any questions in that area or would like a training plan!

Thanks for visiting! You can contact me at northutopiablog@gmail.com with any questions, advice, or comments.

Cheers!