Welcome to Coffee Pines & Designs a blog created by an interior designer, a person working on self love, an artist and a foodie. My name is Kirsten and all of those people are me. Far more importantly, I am a wife and mother of two daughters. I am blessed to have those titles, but upon moving to Northern Minnesota in 2011 I lost a little bit of myself. This is my outlet to regain my creative spirit and share my passions. Thank you for coming along with me on this journey!
The temperatures and humidity have been extra high in Northern Minnesota this past week; pretty typical for August. It is weird, though. We were without an oven for about a month and my husband/father-in-law were able to figure out how to fix it just last weekend. Now that we have it back we don’t even want to use it as it would just add extra heat into our home. I was searching my recipe books for lighter meals that don’t require the oven and found these two to share. Enjoy the heat and these eats!
1 bag of lettuce
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Bag of shredded cheese
Can of black olives, chopped
1 lb ground beef, browned
Packet of taco seasoning
Use taco sauce instead of water when making the taco meat
Thousand Island dressing
Doritos- Taco Flavored
Cook taco meat per taco seasoning directions, but replace taco sauce for the water.
Add all ingredients, except Doritos, to a large bowl and toss
Crunch chips on top
Caribbean Burgers w/ Mango Salsa
From: Woman’s Health Magazine, May 2006
1.5 lb ground beef
2 T jerk seasoning
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1 T chopped fresh cilantro, chopped
1 T green onion, chopped
1 T jalapeño, seeded and chopped
1 T lime juice
Combine beef and jerk seasoning, make into patties
Grill until cooked
Combine rest of ingredients in a bowl to make salsa
Top burgers with salsa
It has been awhile since I have posted a Friday Favorites post. Summer has been super crazy and filled with weekend away after weekend away. Today I present something I drink all year long to remind me of summer and the tropical feel of Maui. Coconut flavored La Croix. It has been 13 years since I stayed on the island of Maui for a summer. When I drink anything coconut flavored, smell certain sunscreens or step out my front door on humid warmer mornings I get this “ahhhh” feeling of living on the fantastic island of Maui. I recently discovered this coconut creamer and tested it out in the La Croix water. It was a tad like the Italian Cream Sodas I used to drink as a kid. It is lovely in coffee as well. Drink up and enjoy!
The other weekend I was driving home from dropping my girls off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I had 4 hours to listen to various podcasts I had downloaded on my phone. As I was listening to a Rachel Hollis podcast one of the people she interviewed said the words “Creativity takes Courage”. I wish I could remember which person she was talking with so I could give credit where credit is due.
This quote resonated with me though. Whatever your medium- paint, writing, music- it takes courage to put yourself out there. Often times someone’s art comes attached with emotions. It takes courage to share those emotions with others. People connect over other’s creativity. It persuades one to think outside of the box, it prompts communication and can shift the world.
It may not always be easy to share your creativity, but how wonderful it is to know you impacted someone out there. Go ahead, take the leap!
Money is a tough subject for many. I am not a saver. I wish I was better. I am not horrible. I have learned a lot and have come a long way from the Express/GAP/The Limited credit card days back in college. I paid them off and closed them up a few years into college as I quickly realized that it was better that way. I will tell you though, those clothes made me happy. Good quality clothes make me happy. They last a long time. I had work pants (and still have one pair) that were 10 years old.
I am a firm believer that you can happiness…to an extent. One has to be relatively happy with life otherwise the bought happiness is going to be short lived.
Here are a few splurges that have made me happy in the past:
1. My old Honda. It was extremely reliable and I hardly had to pay for maintenance on it.
2. My Apple products. I have had two iPods and used them all of the time. It is just in the past 6 months that I do not use my most current one. My new iPhone now has enough storage to listen to so much of my music. It is more convenient. I will tell you, I am an iPhone girl, sorry other great products out there. iPhone just has it made with its simplicity and easy to use products.
3. Nickel and Suede earrings. The colors and comfort bring me joy. I have been wearing them for three years and can’t imagine the day they may go out of style. I continue to get compliments on them almost on a daily basis.
4. My book collection. Walking around Barnes and Noble makes me relaxed, excited about the stories I have access to and the learning ahead of me.
For the month of July I was extra cautious of where our money went. It was difficult at the end to see where it went as we had bought the majority of the clothes and supplies the kids needed for school, oh my, that adds up. I don’t know how families do it when they do not have the “hand me downs” we have been blessed with. I know we appreciate it and we pass along what is still in good condition onto others as well.
Gretchen Rubin laid out the month as the following:
Indulge in a modest splurge
Buy needful things
Give something up
My modest splurge was one that I do 2-3 times a year. I stock up on Young Living Essential Oils that I use often. Deep Relief we realized works well on mosquito bites. We started to go through that one like crazy. It is one I leave in my purse at all times for my tension headaches. I finally was able to get Peace and Calming back into my hands and the Valor roller ball. I have never had Valor. Let me tell you, for the bit of anxious feeling I have each morning getting ready for the day, it has helped immensely.
As I took my weekly trips to Target for groceries and other needed items I steered clear of the woman’s clearance section. This helped me be mindful of only buying needed things and I would say that this was the “give something up item” she challenged me with too. It is too easy to see that yellow sale sticker and throw it in the cart. Now, I did not give that up for the girls. As seasons change I constantly comb through their section in preparation for the next year. I think I will continue to challenge myself to walk left instead of right when I enter into Target. This will help me bypass the cheap but stylish clothes they have merchandised to catch my eye.
She talked of spending out. This was basically telling us to not hold on to things for the “perfect” day. Use things, they will bring you joy, or else they just bring you clutter. I would say I am fairly good at this task anyways. Maybe not in regards to cute cards I find and hold onto until I need to send that special person a little note.
It was a good month. I continue to enjoy each month’s challenge! Check out the blog for other posts that talk about past month’s happiness challenges.
A couple of months ago while I was reading my Happiness Project book and the Girl, Wash Your Face book I was reminded and challenged to act like a kid and have some more fun. I almost didn’t go out onto the boat with my family and friend who was visiting. Ugh, I reminded myself, go, you will have fun. “Take your book” my hubby said, “you can sit, relax and read”. Yeah right, I thought. My kids are not great swimmers, being on the boat makes me a nervous Nelly, even with their life jackets on. I went. And guess what? I had fun! Stella even said “you are just like a kid today mom”! I was genuinely relaxed and having fun. I swam around and around without a life jacket. Enough to count it as exercise I supposed. And I had a smile on my face the whole time. Practice. Life takes practice. Having fun should not take practice, but relaxing and genuinely having fun does for me. Here is to more practice! It was well worth it! I was happy. Hubby was thankful I went out. The kids loved it.
I will soon be adding this to my list of books I have read in 2018. I am half ways done and feel I need to add this as one of my Friday Favorites. I picked his book up a couple of months ago and just started to read it a week ago. In the introduction of The Magic of Motherhood Ashlee Gadd says “this is the book I wish I had received as a new mother”. I agree 100%. I am not certain I will have a lot of friends become first time moms from here on out. If I do though, this will be the gift I present to them. I have laughed, I have cried, I have said “oh my goodness, me too”. After having both children breakdown tonight by 6:45, I felt exhausted and like I have failed at raising well behaved kids. Now, I know better. They are well behaved kids. I have not failed. They were the ones exhausted. This book makes me feel human. It makes me feel like there is magic in this world of being a mom.
I have been on a cooking at home spree again, thank goodness it came back. I dislike those dry spells. I feel like we eat more processed meals when we hit those spells. If we are going to eat unhealthy, I would rather it at least be with home cooked butter and love *wink*.
I was supposed to host book club a couple of weeks ago, but my grandmother passed away and that event got put on hold. I had prepared two different chicken salads to have. Both were from Joanna Gaines Magnolia Table cookbook. I preferred her Curry Chicken Salad recipe compared to her traditional one. I feel like I make a pretty tasty chicken salad without having a recipe to follow. I cheated a bit with her recipe and went with a store bought rotisserie chicken. I always enjoy my chicken salad a little more “saucy” vs dry. So I did add more mayo than she called for. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the salad. I left it with my parents due to the unexpected trip home. They enjoyed the left overs. Don’t think I didn’t enjoy a good portion of it thought before I came back to Bemidji!
Curry Chicken Salad
Shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken (roughly 5-6 cups)
6-8 oz diced water chestnuts
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup minced chives
2 or 2.5 cups mayo
2 T soy sauce
3 T curry powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
Extra tasty bread
Combine chicken, water chestnuts, almonds and chives, stir until well combined.
In another bowl whisk mayo, soy sauce, curry powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Pour mixture over chicken and stir until well combined.
Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Good for 3 days.
I enjoy this on toasted bread, croissants or wheat thins dipped into the salad.
The other raving meal I have to talk about was the quiche I cooked this weekend for my in-laws. I combined two of the Magnolia recipes as I desired the taste of the cheesy one but with some of the veggies *smile* I never grew up with quiche but it may be a new favorite for when we have company over. The girls also helped me make Rhubarb muffins 2 days in a row. They said we should make them every day! Thanks mom for the recipe!
Cheesy Veggie Quiche
Inspired from Joanna Gain’s Magnolia Table Cookbook
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t paprika
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup cut up Swiss cheese
1/4 cup minced chives
1 cup diced mushrooms
1/3 cup diced onion
2 cups spinach
1 unbaked store bought pie crust (Thanks Pillsbury)
In pan over medium heat, drizzle olive oil in pan. Once heated, add onion, mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.
In large bowl add eggs, cream, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.
Stir in cheeses and cooked veggies.
Pour into pie crust.
Cook in oven set at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (or until the center is golden).
Remove and place on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.
Place pie crust on a pan Incase there is any that spills over.
You may have to put tinfoil around edges of the quiche towards end of cooking time to keep from burning. Ours was fine, but this may help.
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c veggie oil
2 t vanilla
1 c buttermilk
1 1/2 c diced rhubarb
2 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Combine brown sugar,veggie oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk until well combined. Stir in rhubarb.
In separate bowl stir flower, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Combine all ingredients together.
Place into 18 muffin tins.
Add sugar topping (1 T melted butter, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 t cinnamon) to the muffins.
Bake 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes
I have been following Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project for 6 months now. June was the month to focus on friendships. Friends make me happy, there is no doubt about it. I have the best friends. They ease any anxiety I have with life, they listen to my troubles, offer me advise, and provide me with enough laughs to hold me over to the next time I see them. They are caring and loving. All of them I don’t see nearly enough, but we all understand that we have families and this thing called life. We know will see each other when our schedules allow.
Gretchen’s suggestions of focus were the following:
Make 3 new friends
Let’s talk about birthdays. Facebook is a great way to stay on top of birthdays, if you check it daily, which I don’t. I am a bit old fashion when it comes to remembering birthdays. I have a “Birthday Calendar” that is pinned up in our kitchen. There have been the occasions that I miss a friend’s birthday. This makes me feel awful. I really strive to get a card out in the mail, give a call or send a text depending on the schedule of the day/week. I am trying to be better at picking up the phone to give a ring, but it never fails that as I pick up the phone, my kids are at my feet asking for something. At least a text appears as an “uninterrupted” form of communication. *Smile*
Be generous, “one of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy” Gretchen wrote. I love sending the random gift, or card in the mail. Finding birthday gifts are fun, but I thoroughly enjoy the unexpected find at random times and sending it on. I have a friend at work that drops a little something off at my desk on days that she gathers may be a bit hectic. It puts a smile on my face and I know it makes her heart happy too.
Don’t gossip. Gossiping has never done anyone any good. It’s hard to do. I feel like I am not a gossiper, but I have found myself in discussion with people about other people. At times it is hard to know if it is healthy venting, purely innocent conversation or if it borders gossip. I was extra mindful of these questions this month. I removed myself from conversation or would try to quiet the topics discussed.
Make new friends. It is hard to make new friends in your thirties. I know it can be done, but my life is busy! I enjoy meeting and connecting with new people. Life will alter where this can be done again. The way I worked this one into my Happiness Project was to spend more time with friends I have not seen in awhile, or spent time with them on the phone if they lived far away. How comforting it is to be surrounded by those people that can pick up like no time has passed!
Show up. If you are my friend I will bend over backwards for you! I will do whatever I can to support you and help you. You are my lifeline and I hope to be yours!
Thank you to my friends, you have been through me through thick and thin!
I have been waiting to write a review of this cookbook until I was able to test a handful of the recipes out. It is not often that I find a recipe book that was not worth the money, but before I say “go out and buy this book” I want to make sure it is a good one! Well, now i can say, “go buy Rachel Hollis’ REAL LIFE DINNERS”. I have tested out five recipes so far and they have been all “oh my gosh, this is great” tasty. I wrote about one in the 4th of July meal recommendations post, Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork.
A few weeks ago when I was feeding four men I had to come up with something good. After all, they were helping roof our house on a super hot and sunny day. With it being so hot, I am not sure what drew me to Rachel’s Tortellini Minestrone (recipe is found here on her website), but that is where I went. I served it with her Italian Chopped Salad. The salad hardly got touched as they went back for seconds of the minestrone. I half ways felt bad I was serving soup in June, but then I was reading the blurb Rachel wrote about the minestrone recipe and she said she makes it no matter the season. *smile, I did ok*. And hey, they hardly left any for leftovers! The Italian Chopped Salad didn’t go to waste, T and I ate that for three days! I was afraid since I added the dressing to the whole salad that it would get soggy and not taste good, but it got better with age! It is another recipe I will make again, but probably when we have more mouths to feed or when we strictly eat it as a meal by itself. The pistachios truly made it.
Hang tight, I know this post is getting long, but I have to rave about two more recipes! I made the Jalapeño Mashed Potatoes. Who knew the pairing of Basil and Jalapeño could be so dreamy?!?!? Dreamy and Creamy is how Mashed Potatoes should be, this is such a great pairing to grilled chicken and corn on the cob. My father-in-law had me send the recipe to my mother-in-law it was that good.
Last but not least (for now) was her take on the BLT. As she talks about it, you can add avocado to the classic summer sandwich for a slight twist (hello, summer fresh tomatoes). Rachel calls her take on it the BLATE (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, egg), and let’s not forget the pesto she adds to it. Her BLATE is listed under the chapter “breakfast for dinner”. Let’s just say, T is planning on having this sandwich for breakfast this morning and we may be making this for our company to have for breakfast this weekend. I can’t wait! It was mouthwatering and making me moan, good.
Have I said enough? Have I persuaded you to run to Barnes and Noble or Target to get the book? Both stores have it! Run. Run now. Start to run the calories off because you won’t want to stop eating her yummy recipes!
Here is how we made ours last night as we didn’t quite have all the ingredients needed to make it.
In high speed blender blend the following ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/4 pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 Parmesan cheese
2 T dried basil
We use English muffin toast when we make BLT’s. On one slice add mayo, the other add the pesto. We then used bacon, fresh tomatoes/lettuce and one over- easy egg. We skipped out on the red onion as I am just not a fan.
I love the 4th of July. It’s amazing weather, low entertaining expectations compared to Thanksgiving and Christmas and just an overall great time to relax with family, friends and tasty food. You can’t forget the food!
(recipes at bottom of post):
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Strawberry Kale with Poppyseed Dressing
Corn on the Cob
Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork: I have heard of this type of slow cooker recipe before but T is THE meat cooker in the family. Hands down he is one of the best cooks in regards to meat. He will smoke pork all night (yes, all night he will get up to check on the meat) and then put it in the oven to finish it up. I can’t compete with that, yet, I tried last weekend! Rachel Hollis has a new cookbook out, Real Life Dinners. I had to feed some guys that were assisting with re-shingling our roof. Her recipe was a pure success and even T raved about how good it was. The coleslaw alone she pairs with it isn’t the most flavorful, but, I do think it made the sandwich superb. I used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce and Sara Lee Artisano Buns. I had to go back for seconds as the combination was just too good.
French Fries: How did French Fries get their name? I am not certain, but they are totally an American food. Gwyneth Paltrow has a simple but tasty recipe in My Father’s Daughter cookbook. The extra work to make them from scratch is well worth the time.
Kale Strawberry & Poppyseed Dressing Salad: this was a mish mosh of recipes. I have to have my kale salads doused in dressing, almost creating a soggy consistency. As much as I prefer to make things from scratch, this Kraft Poppyseed Dressing is something I have not perfected yet. Not to mention, it’s ok to simple things up once in awhile. *smile*
Baked Beans: We do not make these from scratch. We purchase the Smokehouse Tradition Grillin’ Beans.
Corn on the Cob: I know there are plenty of ways to doctor up your corn on the cob, but I am a traditionalist when it comes to corn on the cob. I prefer straight up butter and salt.
Strawberry Shortcake: Who doesn’t love a classic like shortcake? You get to add white whipped cream, blueberries and strawberries for the full on 4th of July color. Better Homes & Gardens has the easiest and best recipes for Strawberry Shortcake and Whipped Cream.
Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork from Rachel Hollis’ Real Life Dinners
5-6 lbs pork shoulder
2 T all purpose pork grilling rub
1 can Dr. Pepper
1 cup BBQ sauce
Coleslaw (recipe listed next)
Rub pork on all sides with the seasoning and place in slow cooker.
Pour Dr. Pepper on top.
Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours, until meat starts to fall off and become tender.
Remove meat from slow cooker and place on cutting board, let cool.
Pour left over liquid into bowl and set aside.
Shred the pork and place back in slow cooker.
Add 1 cup or reserved liquid and BBQ sauce.
Store and let cook for another 30 minutes.
Check occasionally, more reserved liquid may have to be added.
Coleslaw from Rachel Hollis’ Real Life Dinners:
4 cups shredded purple cabbage
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/2 cup mayo
2 T lemon juice
2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
Toss cabbage, carrots and scallions in a bowl.
Mix mayo, lemon juice, sugar and salt until smooth.
Combine all ingredients.
Butter and toast the buns, scoop meat onto buns and top with coleslaw. Enjoy!
French Fries from Gwyneth Paltrow’s My Father’s Daughter:
2 large russet potatoes peeled
2 T olive oil
3/4 t salt
Set oven to 450 degrees
Cut potato into 1/3 inch thick sticks.
Place in bowl of cold water.
Dry them well with paper towels.
Coat them with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt.
Roast on cooling rack set on top of a cookie sheet until browned.
Turn a few times.
Cook about 25 minutes
Services 4 people.
Kale, Strawberry and Poppyseed Dressing Salad
Mix together the following ingredients:
1 chopped cucumber
1 cup cooked quinoa
6-8 cups chopped kale
1/2-1 cup Kraft Sweet Poppyseed Dressing
1-2 cups chopped strawberries and blueberries
1-2 handfuls of Orchard Valley Harvest Orchard Valley Harvest Glazed Pecan Salad Toppers (or handful of slivered almonds and craisins)
Strawberry Shortcake and Whipped Cream recipes are linked here.