Monday, February 27, 2012

Lutsen 2012

Last Friday we made our annual trek to Lusten for the weekend. Patrick and I have been going on this annual vacation on and off for six years now. This was our third year at the same townhouse at Caribou Highlands. The attendees this year were me, Patrick, Jachin, Erin, Heather, Kate, Jeff, Shanna, Elysia, Nick & Luke. Here are the photos from 2010 and 2011.

Patrick loaded up the Explorer and we were on the road in by noon on Friday. We stopped at Wendy's for lunch on the way, but otherwise we drove straight through to Lutsen.



After we arrived we started off the weekend with pizza and some major relaxing.

Jachin & Erin

Kate

We all had a slow start on Saturday morning, but most of us managed to hit the slopes around 10am.

Lutsen Mountain

Shanna & Nick

It was fun to have my little brother Luke along for our skiing/snowboarding adventure. I took him down a Black Diamond on his first run down of the day and he survived as I expected.

Sara & Luke at Lutsen

Here was the group of skiers and snowboarders. Elysia and Heather opted for a little snowshoeing rather than a day of skiing.

The Group at Lutsen

We made the meal planning portion really easy this year. We had Sven & Ole's pizza Friday night's dinner, bagels and fruit for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and walking tacos for dinner. I made some cookies and Chocolate Oatmeal Bars for dessert and of course we stopped at Pizza Luce in Duluth for our Sunday lunch/dinner. The walking tacos really are an awesome meal for a big group. Minimal dishes and super easy just brown some hamburger and put out the rest of the toppings and dinner is ready.

Walking Tacos

Jeff's Birthday

After skiing/snowboarding all day, a trip to the hot tub and dinner we were starting to lose people to exhaustion so we decided starting a game might perk us up. We played a round of spoons and a game at the cabin called Bandu. Bandu ended up being a fun game where you build a structure out of crazy shaped pieces and the last one standing wins.

Jachin & Spoons

Bandu

Jeff & Kate's Bandu Structure

Here are some of the structures: Luke's, Erin & Jachin's, Patrick's and the winner Jeff & Kate's creation.

Bandu

On Sunday morning no one was in a hurry to get going, so we all sat around not really wanting to leave. Well, by the time we decided to load up the cars we were in a full on blizzard. Below is the view as we were leaving Caribou Highlands. Needless to say it took a long time to get to Duluth. We stopped in Tofte for gas and were able to hear the waves on Lake Superior crashing against the shore. It was pretty cool to hear and see. When we arrived in Duluth we even saw some people in Lake Superior attempting to surf.



The best part of the trip back was our stop at Gooseberry Falls. We stopped a couple years ago and the melting sound was much more noticeable, but this time we were all just excited to be outside in the snow enjoying it.

Winter Gooseberry Falls

Kate & Jeff at Winter Gooseberry Falls

Winter Gooseberry Falls

Patrick and Sara at Winter Gooseberry Falls

Erin & Jachin's Snowball Fight

Group Photo at Gooseberry Falls

Group Photo at Gooseberry Falls

Group Photo at Gooseberry Falls

Erin & Jachin at Gooseberry Falls

Elysia & Nick

It was an awesome trip that was way too short. There was a good majority of us who really wanted to be stranded up north in the storm, but as adults with responsibilities I guess we had to come back.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Last night we had our first pasta dish since our 10 Day Cleanse ended. We had this chicken pasta on our menu plan for about 2 months and I just kept moving it to the next week. Well, I am glad that we finally made it. It ended up being really tasty and super easy.  I was too lazy to take a photo last night, so this photo of my lunch leftovers will have to do.

Pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta

1 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 red pepper diced & 1 green pepper diced
1 pack of mushrooms sliced
1 chopped zucchini
1 green onion chopped
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried basil leaves
¼ teaspoon lemon pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
¼ pound linguine
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Put pot of water on to boil for noodles
2. In large skillet add butter and chicken. Cook 5-7 minutes till done and tender
3. Add red, green pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, onion and sauté about 3 minutes
4. Add all spices and milk over medium heat.
5. Remove from heat and add greek yogurt.
5. Add cooked pasta to sauce.
6. Sprinkle cheese on top and serve

Source:  Karen's Recipe

Thursday, February 16, 2012

10 Day Fruit and Vegetable Cleanse - Part II

We did it. We survived eating only fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans & yogurt for 10 days. Well, I guess we did cheat a couple times. We had veggie bowls with cheese and rice at Chipotle on Sunday night after a long trip to La Crosse and back for Rosemary's Baptism. And for our Valentine's Day date we splurged and had chicken fajita bowls at Chipotle before we went to the movie The Vow.

Even with our cheating we both lost weight. Patrick lost 5.4 pounds and I lost 6.2 pounds. We both feel really good and never felt like we lacked energy. This whole cleanse really forced us to be creative with our meals. We even found a few meals that we would love to eat regularly. That being said we are both really glad that today we can eat normal food. Patrick stopped at Von Hansen's Meat Market last night after work and picked up some chicken for Friday's dinner. I have to admit as a girl who loves her vegetables, I am kind of excited for the chicken.

Another positive note is that we did a great job in using up our produce. After buying an entire bag of both oranges and apples, we only have a few oranges left and maybe one apple. We also went through two bunches of bananas, 2 pounds of strawberries, a pint of blueberries and one thing of blackberries. And that doesn't even include the Bolthouse Farms Smoothies we purchased. I am not sure the breakdown on veggies, but our fridge is looking empty again so we went through a lot of vegetables.

Here is the breakdown of what I ended up eating for the remaining six days. Patrick ate almost all the same things, except for our breakfasts and lunches varied a little. The first four days are documented here.

Day 5
breakfast
strawberry & banana smoothie

lunch
salad with avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms & sirachi sauce
banana

Day 5 Lunch

snacks
cashews and raisins

dinner
spaghetti squash & red sauce and green salad

Spaghetti Squash with Red Sauce

Day 6
breakfast
yogurt with blueberries & honey

lunch
green salad with avocados, peppers, green onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, cashews & balsamic vinegar dressing

Salad

snacks
cashews & raisins
homemade smoothie
popcorn

dinner
baked potato chips with pico de gallo and yogurt dip
roasted brussels sprouts

Fried Potatoes with Pico De Gallo

Day 7 - Road Trip to La Crosse
breakfast
half smoothie & banana

lunch
cashews, raisins, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, olives and green pepper (a selection of things we had in the car and things we could eat at the Baptism luncheon)

Road Trip Snacks

snacks
popcorn

dinner
veggie bowl at Chipotle (rice, beans, fajita mix, cheese, pico, corn, lettuce and guac)

Day 7 Dinner

Day 8
breakfast
strawberry banana smoothie

lunch
leftover roasted brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and cauliflower
orange

snacks
cashews
blackberries

dinner
black bean and pinto bean salad with pico de gallo, avocados, green onions and lettuce

Pinto & Black Bean Salad

Day 9 - Valentine's Day
breakfast
strawberries and blackberries

lunch
leftover roasted brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and cauliflower

snacks
orange

dinner
chipotle (chicken, rice, fajita mix, black beans, pico de gallo, corn salsa, cheese and lettuce)

Our Valentine's Day Dinner

Day 10
breakfast
green smoothie

lunch
veggies (pea pods, carrots, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers & peppers) and hummus

Day 10 Lunch

snacks
banana

dinner
vegetable stir fry (mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes & pea pods) with cauliflower rice

Stir Fry with Cauliflower Rice

Friday, February 10, 2012

10 Day Fruit and Vegetable Cleanse - Part I

Patrick saw a news story with someone who did a cleanse or detox and he really wanted to do it at the beginning of the year. The problem was I actually started meal planning and we were doing a great job of sticking to it. Well, we decided last week now was the time for the cleanse. We go to Lutsen at the end of the month, so we had to do it now if we wanted it over before then. We made up our version and we decided that for 10 days we are only going to eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans & yogurt. The first few days were kind of tough, but we are on day four now and I am feeling pretty good.

Here has been our journey so far.

On Sunday we went grocery shopping at Sam's Club & Whole Foods. One thing is for sure, this isn't a cheap diet.

Fruits & Veggies

Fruits & Veggies

Fruits & Veggies

Our last day of normal food was Super Bowl Sunday. We ordered Chipotle with friends. And I didn't have a bowl and a burrito, Chipotle screwed up our order so somehow two orders had my name on them. Despite that it was an awesome last meal before 10 days of just fruits and veggies.

Last Meal - Chipotle

Here is what we have been eating so far.

Day 1
breakfast
blueberries & strawberries

lunch
veggies (carrots, tomatoes, celery, peppers & cucumbers) & yogurt dip

snacks
apple
1/4 avocado
cashews

dinner
vegetable stir fry (leeks, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli & peppers)

Veggie Stir Fry

Day 2
breakfast
banana

lunch
veggies (carrots, tomatoes, celery, peppers, cucumbers & cauliflower) & hummus

Day 2 lunch

snacks
almonds
cashews
carrot juice

dinner
salad with lettuce, spinach, avocado, chickpeas, green onions, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes & siriachi sauce
protein shake with strawberries

Salad

Day 3
breakfast
strawberry banana smoothie

lunch
leftover veggie stir fry
banana

snacks
almonds
cashews
apple
raisins
apple

dinner
roasted sweet potatoes, cauliflower & brussels sprouts

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower & Brussels Sprouts

Day 4
breakfast
Green Smoothie

lunch
Raw Kale Salad (kale, pine nuts, raisins, tomatoes & dressing (lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper & crushed red peppers)
banana

Raw Kale Salad - lunch on day 4 of 10 of the Fruit and Vegetable Cleanse

snacks
cashews
avocado

dinner
stove top fried potatoes with chickpeas & kale

Fried Potatoes, Chickpeas & Kale

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groupon Getaway to Cove Point Lodge

Back in December, Patrick found a Groupon for a one night stay at the Cove Point Lodge in Silver Bay Minnesota. The deal was $139 for a one night stay, dinner, champagne and chocolates. We talked about buying it, but we weren't sure if we wanted to spend the money. Then within the next couple days Patrick received a small bonus at work so decided we may as well. When we booked we decided to stay Friday night as well since it would be more relaxing to be gone the whole weekend.

I have to say this is the most relaxing trip I have ever been on. Packing the car is so quick when we didn't have to bring camping equipment, skiing stuff or any food. It was glorious.

We left Friday afternoon and headed north. As if it isn't already obvious, but we love the North Shore. Since before we were married we visit at least once in the summer and once in the winter. I think we need to put a spring and fall trip on our list.

Our first stop on the trip was actually at McDonald's in North Branch. Patrick has been talking about a Big Mac for months, so what better opportunity to stop than somewhere that is basically the only option.

Once we finally arrived in Duluth, we decided that pizza was our dinner of choice. Are you surprised Luke? I had been to Sammy's Pizza years ago, so I suggested it to Patrick and he was all for it.

Sammy's Pizza

Sammy's Pizza Duluth

After our pizza we headed to the Cove Point Lodge in Silver Bay, Minnesota. It was dark so there wasn't much to see, but we were excited to get to our place.

Our Groupon came with champagne and chocolates in the room. Neither of us are too big of fans of champagne so we didn't end up drinking it all but the process of opening it is always exciting.

champagne

Cove Point Room

champagne

Cove Point Chocolate

Since we arrived in the dark we couldn't see the view on Friday night, but when we woke up on Saturday morning we realized how beautiful it was.

Our View

The land where the lodge was built on used to be a trading point where fur traders met to exchange goods. The breakfast at the lodge is a Scandinavian breakfast that included hardboiled eggs, cheese, salami and breads. It reminded us of our breakfasts in Europe so we really enjoyed it.

Breakfast

Breakfast

After breakfast we went to town to get some bottled water to drink. We ended up being lured into Silver Bay by a scenic outlook sign. We drive by this Iron Ore plant all of the time when we are up there and I always think it would make some cool pictures, but driving by at 55 mph never makes a good picture. Well lucky for me the scenic outlook was of the plant.

Iron Ore Plant

It was freezing outside and we were not exactly dressed for hiking outside, so after taking a couple pictures we went looking for a coffee place. I saw a sign for the Northwoods Cafe. It ended up being a 70's diner, but the hot chocolate was decent so we can't complain.

Hwy 61

hot chocolate

We returned to the lodge and drove around the area a little. There was a lot for sale so we grabbed the info sheet. The land was selling for $350K, probably out of our price range. We also drove up to this beautiful home right on the lake. If we ever win the lottery we will be building a little log cabin up north for sure.

Sara in mirror

Our Dream House

We parked the car and walked around the lodge. It would be an awesome place to stay in the summer. It is right on the Superior Hiking Trail and there is also access to the Gitchi-Gami Bike Trail Bike that goes by Spilt Rock and Gooseberry Falls.

winter scenery

We spent the rest of our morning enjoying our view of Lake Superior from our room. It was awesome to read magazines while looking out at beautiful Lake Superior.

Enjoying the view

After our relaxing morning we headed to the Cove Point Crossing restaurant for a late lunch. We had pizza again. I guess we love our pizza.

Lunch at Cove Point Crossing

After lunch we planned on walking out to the end of point. We first stopped at Mickey's Fish House. It is pretty cool little shack that has a fire stove, tables and games to play. A nice place to relax.

Sara at Mickey's Fish House

Hike to Cove Point

Cove Point

Hike to Cove Point

Hike to Cove Point

Cove Point Lodge

After our hike we went back to our room to hang out. Later that night we went down to the lobby to play some of the board games. We couldn't remember how to play chinese checkers so Patrick looked up the directions on his phone. After a couple hours of chinese checkers and checkers we had our dinner that was included in with our Groupon.

checkers

Patrick looking up Chinese Checkers directions

At dinner Patrick had the Filet Mignon and I had the Cove Point Walleye. Both were very tasty.

filet mignon

walleye

After dinner there was a campfire outside so we went to check it out. We met some fellow Groupon travelers at the fire and then ended the night with a trip to hot tub and sauna.

On Sunday morning we had another delicious breakfast, watched some Sunday morning television and then headed home. Here is one last picture of the view from our room. When can we go back? Luckily we don't have too wait long. Our annual trip to Lutsen is only a few weeks away.

view from our room