Wednesday, October 29, 2014


My brother-in-law, Davey, made these for lunch last Sunday, and HONESTLY, I can't stop thinking about them!  They are INCREDIBLE!!

The recipe is from Cooking Light magazine...WOW!!!!



  • 1 (1 1/4-ounce) white bread, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless thin-cut pork loin chops, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil


1. Place bread in a food processor; pulse bread 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure about 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, sage, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place flour in another shallow dish. Combine mustard and egg whites in another shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.

2. Working with one pork chop at a time, dredge pork in flour, shaking off excess. Dip pork into egg white mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat pork completely with breadcrumb mixture. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining pork, flour, egg white mixture, and breadcrumb mixture.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add pork; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned and done.

Nutritional Information (per serving)(1 pork chop):

  • Calories: 272
  • Calories from fat: 45%
  • Fat: 13.6g
  • Saturated fat: 3.7g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 6.6g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2.2g
  • Protein: 28.8g
  • Carbohydrate: 7g
  • Fiber: 0.4g
  • Cholesterol: 69mg
  • Iron: 1.3mg
  • Sodium: 409mg
  • Calcium: 102mg 
Davey pounded the pork chops with a meat mallet, to make them a little thinner, and used prepackaged bread crumbs, instead of the white bread.

It was TRULY one of the best things I've EVER eaten!!!

Here's hoping YOU discovered a "new favorite" recipe recently too!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TWENTY NINE Hours in Kansas City (EIGHT of them sleeping)!!

Our record as "power vacationers" stands...and this past weekend was one for the books!  We flew into Kansas City (one of the most UNDERRATED cities in the country, in my opinion) on Friday morning. 

We arrived around 11:00, checked into our hotel, and then immediately headed out to find some good barbecue.  We ended up in Kansas City, Kansas, at a place called Gates and Sons...SOOOOOO GOOD!  We had burnt ends, and THE BEST BBQ beans we've ever eaten.  LUCKILY, the recipe has been posted online.  You can find it here.  Seriously...they are AMAZING!!!!

After lunch, we headed back to Kansas City, Missouri, and checked out the TWA museum at the city airport.  It was really well done, and we had a great time looking at all of the memorabilia.  A retired mechanic volunteered to be our tour guide, and showed us around. 

Duane even had a chance to use the flight simulator... was fun!

After the museum, we made a stop at our FAVORITE antique mall, River Market Antiques.  We didn't find anything we HAD to have, but it was DELIGHTFUL to look around.  Cool store!

After the antique mall, we walked around City Market.  They have a great Italian deli/grocery store, a middle eastern market, a vegetable stand that had HUGE pumpkins, and a couple of other really fun shops.  We've never actually been on a Saturday morning, when the place is in full-operational-mode, but it's a cool area, even on the "off days".

We shopped a couple of stores near the market, then headed to the WWI memorial and museum.  We LOVE the architecture of the tower on the plaza over the museum, and had a GREAT time wandering around, and watching a wedding party take photos there...a BIG wedding party...we counted THIRTEEN bridesmaids!!!

While we were looking at the skyline from the plaza, I noticed a large mechanical wasp outside the train depot.  OF COURSE, we went down to check it out.  It was really cool!

We went to Lidia's Kansas City for some AMAZING Italian food for dinner...

...then, after a stop at a local Hy-Vee (the BEST grocery store in the UNIVERSE!), headed back to the hotel to go to bed (it had been a LONG day, and we were tired!).

Saturday morning, we walked to the Waffle House next to the hotel.  WE LOVE WAFFLE HOUSE!!!  I had "the usual"...the bacon, egg, and cheese melt, with hash browns SCATTERED, PEPPERED, AND COVERED.  Yum!!!

After breakfast, we checked out of our hotel, then headed to Zona Rosa for some shopping. 

We then went to ANOTHER Hy-Vee (Duane was on a MISSION to find coconut green tea, and ended up finding it at BOTH stores, so scored SIX boxes...!).

That was followed by a trip to a local institution, which had been recommended by one of Duane's coworkers, called Stroud's.  The place has been around since 1933, and had the BEST fried chicken I've ever eaten.  We arrived at 1:10, and were slightly perturbed to find that they didn't open until 2:00. 

We hung around, and it was TOTALLY worth the wait...fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans with onions and bacon, and cinnamon rolls for dessert, served family style...SOOOO good!  They even had baskets of assorted crackers on the table as we sat down.   Haven't seen a "cracker basket" in years!!!

After lunch, we dashed to the airport to catch our flight home.  SERIOUSLY...we've been to Kansas City FOUR times now, and I can't say enough how COOL it is!!!  If you haven't been, you need to go!

Here's hoping YOU were able to visit a favorite place recently too!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wedding Weekend!

Two weeks ago TODAY, I drove to Fairfield to be a "bridesman" in Tena and Andrew's wedding.  What an AMAZING time it was!!!

I got to town around noon, and went to my friend Gay's house (where I stayed for the weekend) to drop off my stuff.  Gay was Tena's wedding organizer/planner/host/second mom, and was INSTRUMENTAL in making everything happen.  She was (and still is) AMAZING!!!

Gay's house was "wedding central", and when I got there, she was cooking all sorts of yummy things for all of us as we arrived in town.  We spent most of the afternoon running errands, discussing what needed to get done (and when!), and catching up.  It was the mellow before the hectic, and it was delightful.

While Tena and Andrew shared stories of how they met, Tracy (my new dear friend, and matron of honor) and I put together the "frozen part" of the punch for the reception, and made up the "gift bags" for guests staying in hotels in town.

Tracy is SUPER ORGANIZED, and she and I made a REALLY good team over the course of the weekend!  We became a "tag team", and were on the COMPLETE SAME wave length with what needed to be done, and how we could best help Tena, and each other, over the course of the three days.  It's so weird to think that she and I had only met once...briefly...many years ago. 

Over the course of the weekend, we picked up where we left off during the bridal shower weekend (with FREQUENT texts and Facebook messages in between), and got even closer as the weekend progressed.  When Suzanne joined the team, with her energy and AWESOMENESS, we were an unstoppable force!!  Such a great group!!!!

After getting stuff ready, I left the party to go and practice my songs for the ceremony with my friend LeAnne.  I'd asked Tracy to come along, to listen, and let me know how things sounded.  I ended up with an entourage as Tena, and Judy (the pastor's wife) came along as well.  LeAnne was just finishing a bible study with MORE people I knew, so, as they all left, my friend Dee Ann decided to stay and listen too!

It was GREAT to have them all there!  We all had a glass of wine, and LeAnne and I were able to change the keys on a couple of songs that were NOSE BLEED HIGH!  I love working with LeAnne...she does such a great job of following the soloist, and she's really intuitive when that soloist wants to take a little more time in one part, and speed up in another.  She's AWESOME!!!!  After running through stuff, we all went back to Gay's for awhile longer, then headed to our respective homes/hotels/rooms to go to bed.

Friday started bright and early with decorating the reception hall at the Sondheim Center.  Gay had created hoops of fabric to be hung amongst the white paper lanterns the center hangs for events.  They were REALLY cool!

The theme was "country fall", and we decorated with mason jars and garlands of fall leaves.  My job was to fill about nine thousands mason jars with a little bit of birdseed, so that candles could be placed in them, and the wax NOT pool in the bottom of the jars.  Each table was decorated with nine mason jars, a "place card" with names of those sitting at the table (and a "table name" which was a place that Tena and Andrew had been, with photos of them at that cool!).

After decorating, Tracy, Tena, and I headed to Ottumwa for an afternoon of "bridal party" fun.  We met Suzanne (the third attendant in the wedding, and someone I've known for years, but haven't spent NEARLY enough time with!) for manis and pedis...

...then had lunch at the Appanoose Rapids Brewing Company downtown.  I had the red devil steak, and it was DELICIOUS!!!!

Tena gave us puzzle piece key chains, which all linked together, as a bridal party gift...they were BEAUTIFUL!!!  Amidst all the craziness of the preparations, it was a truly lovely time to just kick back, catch up, and spend time together. 

When we got back to Fairfield, we went our separate ways for a little white.  Duane flew to Cedar Rapids and rented a car, and had arrived while we were in Ottumwa.  After hanging out a Gay's for awhile, we headed to Jefferson County Park for the wedding rehearsal.  It was cloudy, and windy, and REALLY cold!!!  Living in Minnesota, we expected it to be a little warmer "down south", so we didn't really pack much in the way of sweaters, coats, etc.  BIG MISTAKE!  I shivered through the entire rehearsal!

After the rehearsal we had a WONDERFUL pasta dinner in a shelter near the wedding gazebo, then went back to Andrew's house (soon to be Tena's too!), for a bonfire.  They recently built a fire pit in the back yard, and I look forward to MANY future bonfires there!!

Saturday was WEDDING DAY, and, honestly, it's all a blur!  We started with an early decorating gathering at the park.  We decorated the gazebo with garlands of fall leaves and white lights, set up the aisle markers (pumpkins and Tena stated at some point during the weekend, while doing three things at once, "mumkins and pums"...which is what I will now FOREVER call them!), moved picnic tables, and then went back into town to take care of other details.


Duane and I were able to spend a little time alone, which was really nice.  We had lunch at Ila, just off the square (a place I LOVE to go when I'm in town), and shopped at a couple of stores.  It was a beautiful day...the sun was out...and it was warming up...A GOOD sign for the ceremony!!

At some point after that, I went to rehearse the surprise flash mob number for the reception (see video later in this post), picked up Tena's wedding ring at the jewelers (which I ALMOST forgot to do...  eep!), and then got ready for the wedding.  It was crazy, and, weirdly, quick...we were sitting around taking care of last minute details...then, all of a sudden, it was time to get ready, and get out the door to the park.

We got to the park, and spent a little while taking "bridal party" photos with the photographer...

...then Tena and Andrew had secured an RV for the park in which we could "hide" until the ceremony.  It was GREAT fun to sit in the passenger seat, and watch people arrive for the ceremony!  So many mutual, GOOD friends were there.  It was AWESOME to get to see them all again.

What can I say about the was BEAUTIFUL!  I started everything off with my set of FIVE songs, which MOSTLY went really well.  We had a little key change snafoo with the final song, "Love Changes Everything", which led to REALLY HIGH NOTES that I didn't do a very good job of hitting, but otherwise, it went well!

 Here are a couple of links (to the ones that went well!):

"Unexpected Song"

"The Luckiest"

Tena was GORGEOUS, and, during the vows, the sun was shining on her face...she GLOWED during most of the ceremony!  It was still COLD, but the wind died down just before we started, the sun was out, and it was truly a magical place for them to become husband and wife.

Photo by Cathy Matt

 Photo by Werner Elmker

After the ceremony, we went back to the RV, and were driven to the reception (after a couple of photo stops).  Everyone was waiting for us in the lobby of the Sondheim Center, and cheered as the happy couple walked in.

The reception was a BLAST!  Tena and Andrew had rented a photo booth, so we got to take fun pictures, and Tena REALLY likes the Kiwanis Kids Day Pancake Tent, so she and Andrew were able to get the Kiwanis to come and make pancakes for the reception dinner.  We also had scrambled eggs, bacon, and other breakfast foods.  At least I think we the time I got to the table with my food, it was time for Tracy to make her speech, so I didn't get to eat much of it!!  I DID manage to snarf down the pancakes though, so at least got to eat the BEST part of the meal!!!

After Tracy and Simon (Andrew's brother and best man) made their speeches, and Tena and Andrew spoke, and Tena and Andrew did a surprise tango, I started the flash mob.  Andrew really likes "Les Miserables", so Tena arranged for a group of us to sing "One Day More".  Andrew had no idea it was going to happen, and when I started to sing, the look on his face was PRICELESS.  (Afterwards, he told me he thought that I'd had too much to drink, and had just decided to start singing!).  It was TRULY a magical, lovely day!!!

"One Day More"

Sunday, the wedding party and family met at Gay's for brunch, and to watch Tena and Andrew open wedding gifts.  Earlier in the morning, the ONLY snafoo of the weekend happened...True Value was supposed to come and pick up the chairs after the ceremony the night before, but didn't.

Gay got a call from her son, who works at the park, that they were still there, and another group was using the gazebo later than morning.  I ran over to help take them down.  Tena, Andrew, Holly (Andrew's daughter), and Stephen (a friend of Tena's) were already there, dragging chairs up the hill to the parking lot.  Despite the crazy day before, and a short night of sleep, the bride and groom were RIDICULOUSLY cheery!!

Brunch was AWESOME!  Gay made an AMAZING selection of breakfast treats...from peach french toast, to caramel rolls, to an asparagus egg was all DELICIOUS!  It was great to see everyone again after the festivities of the previous day, but Tracy and I looked a little WORN OUT...

After Tena and Andrew opened the PILE of gifts, it was time to head back to the cities.  I was FINE through the ENTIRE weekend, from heart-felt watching the new couple getting to spend time with dear friends...but as I hugged Tena goodbye, I BURST into tears (I think, in fact, that I cried all the way to Ottumwa!).

It was a beautiful weekend, spent with dear friends, attending a WONDERFUL event!

Here's hoping YOU were able to participate in something AMAZING recently too!!!!