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Wow, to say that this week has been heavy is an understatement. As a school counselor, one of the fundamental concepts that I teach and re-teach every day is being a gracious winner and loser. Win or lose there is aways a good lesson at the end of the journey of competition. I guess I have been a little disappointed in some of the methods that reactions were delivered after this week. Being on Facebook the day after the election truly made me question what it means to be a gracious winner or loser and what that should  look like. Being gracious is something that is marked by kindness and courtesy, but also tact and delicacy. 

Many people across the country were upset and others were elated with the final decision as our citizens chose our next president of the United States. Let’s look at how to handle both sides of the coin.

Being a gracious winner:

  • be modest, no one likes a “show off”
  • acknowledge the efforts of the opposing side
  • to be a good winner you have to learn and practice the skills which made you a winner, but other skills will also need to be developed as you continue

Being a gracious loser:

  • feeling and expressing anger and frustration at losing is ok, but in a safe and private place is the best form of practice
  • look for the positives, what did you learn from the experience, what can you do differently next time
  • being a gracious loser centers around the ability to celebrate someone else’s good fortune, despite the disappointment one feels

These bars graciously offer just the right amount of tact and delicacy that we all need this week. They are both salty and sweet,  all at the same time. They have delicious peanut-butter flavor, paired with a salty crunch from the pretzels and creamy butterscotch chocolate frosting.

So whether you are celebrating this week that your candidate won, you can enjoy these delicious bars or if you are disappointed your candidate lost, take the time to move forward and make these bars to decompress. Winning and losing is a part of real life, learning how to conquer both can but just as rewarding. This quote sums it up best, “it is your response to winning and losing that makes you a winner or a loser.” Were you gracious this week?

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Pretzel Scotcheroos

INGREDIENTS
1 c. light corn syrup
1 c. sugar
1 c. peanut butter
6 c. crispy rice cereal
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 c. pretzels

GUIDANCE
Add corn syrup and sugar into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Do not overcook, doing so will make your peanut butter-cereal mixture tough. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add cereal. Stir until well coated. Press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Set aside.Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Sprinkle crushed pretzels or whole pretzels to the top of chocolate mixture. Let stand until firm. 

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The definition of spicy equates to flavored with or fragrant with spice. Isn’t there just a ton of spice in life everyday? Throughout our lives we can have pretty bland, boring days sometimes, but other times the day can be packed full of colorful, lively, exciting events that make the day seem “spicy” in a way. 

Lately I have begun to notice how I react to those hot, pungent moments in life and how it affects my mood. I see others around me and the amount of strength and courage that they put forth as they encounter immense struggles. I find that understanding the struggles of others has helped me to grasp the sheer power of how your mindset affects your attitude and ability to push forward in life. 

Life can really toss your some crazy curveballs, but having a positive outlook during those times of struggle can totally change the whole ballgame. 

This salsa recipe mimics that mentality. You can add just as much heat as you want, the more heat you add, the spicier it gets. It’s all about how much you put forth. If you put forth a positive attitude, you will get more out of life. If you don’t put in the time, effort, or power, your life may just be a little more bland. And if you walk around with a negative attitude and your head hung low, your life with carry that same persona. 

This recipe is the perfect combination of all your favorite garden produce and it can be savored all year long with the right canning process. So stay positive, add some spice to your life, and make the salsa….you won’t be disappointed. 

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Homemade Salsa

INGREDIENTS
12 c. tomatoes, diced, not peeled
2 c. onions, diced
1 c. green pepper
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded or unseeded
1 6 oz. tomato paste

SEASONINGS
1/3 c. vinegar
1/2. t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. salt
1/2 t. basil leaves
1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. garlic powder

GUIDANCE

Put tomatoes in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a slow boil for 1 hour. Add seasonings and simmer at a low boil for 1/2 hour. Add onions and peppers and simmer for 15 minutes, add tomato paste and simmer for 15 minutes more. Process for 15 minutes in hot water bath. 

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As a new parent, patience has become a virtue that commands my full attention. Gone are the days of worrying only about myself, sleeping in, or making an outing without sippy cups and toys. Learning to be patient with my toddler and myself has been a new undertaking.

Parents today often feel it’s their responsibility to live up to a certain standard or set of rules. Your child should sleep at this time, wean off the bottle now, learn new things at certain times. When in the end, each child learns at their own speed. I struggled with learning to be patient with this mentality. I saw other’s children meeting milestones, while we were still climbing an up and down battle with certain things. Learning to be patient in these instances offered a great peace of mind for me. 

So how do I find patience? Look for the bigger picture. Being a parent is hard, but it’s a journey that you have to discover for yourself and it is not a straight path. That’s what makes parenting so interesting, each day is a new adventure. Sometimes it’s an adventure that makes you want to scream at the top of your lungs, but hence still an adventure.

Incorporating self care into my regime helped to strengthen my patience. For me, cooking has been a nice escape that helps ground me. Baking these bagels also incorporated new techniques in patience building. These bagels are the perfect combination of comfort and autumn all baked into one. Baking any type of bread has always been a struggle for me, because I am often too impatient to wait for my bread to rise! But with these bagels it was worth the wait. 

At the end of the day, being a parent is an epic journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything. If anything it has made me stronger and evoked a new mindset on how I see the world. My patience level has definitely gone up. So the next time you need to wait in that long line at the grocery store with your screaming child, just think about how much patience you are gaining in the long run. 

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Pumpkin Spice Bagels

INGREDIENTS
2 t. active dry yeast
2 T. sugar
1 1/4 c. water {you may need 1/4 c. more}
3 1/2 c. bread flour {extra flour for kneading}
1 1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. pumpkin puree
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. allspice
1/2 t. cloves
cinnamon-sugar {optional}

GUIDANCE
In 1/2 c. warm water (70-80 degrees) pour in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Then stir the mixture until all sugar and yeast is dissolved into water. Mix the flour, salt, and spices. Make a well in the middle and pour in the sugar/yeast mixture. Pour in 1/3 c. water and pumpkin puree. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed. You are looking for a moist, firm dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Place dough into a bowl that has been brushed with oil. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and let it rest for 10 minutes. 

Dive the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and roll on your countertop to smooth the edges. Coat a finger in flour and press your finger into the center to make the bagel hole. Use a circular motion to create a larger hole. Place on an oiled baking sheet and let rest for 10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. 

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place bagel dough into the boiling water for 2 minutes on each side. After done boiling, sprinkle each bagel with cinnamon and sugar. Bake bagels for 20 minutes, until golden brown. 

Makes 8 bagels

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Beauty is all around us. Sometimes I think that I often see more beauty in the fall because it is my favorite season. The temperatures are epic, the leaves are gorgeous, and I can wear boots and sweaters all day, every day. Unfortunately, fall in North Dakota gets cut short sometimes. I could literally live in the autumnal season year round, is there a place like that that exists?

I think this concept is fitting to focus on today because it is COLD here in North Dakota today. Winter has definitely arrived on our doorstep (unannounced as usual) as I saw snowflakes fall to the ground this morning.

Beauty came to mind with this recipe because I pondered for many days about what to make with these beautiful Japanese eggplants that my mother in-law grew in her garden and gifted to me. The punch of purple was so vibrant, especially paired with my favorite Jadeite dishes. I wanted to make something that was equally as beautiful on the plate.

The only thing that I have ever heard of involving eggplant was eggplant parmesan. This eggplant recipe incorporates some elements of Italian cuisine, but harnesses the simple beauty of the eggplant. The recipe reminds me of fried green tomatoes, which is ironic because Japanese eggplant resides in the same family of the tomato because it is in that group of produce that is prepared as a vegetable, but actually is a fruit.

In the end, these crispy slices of eggplant turned out really beautiful. The grape seed oil added a unique flavor and the panko added just the right amount of crunch. Marinara and basil finish off the dish to conceptualize the true picture of beauty.

It is said that food is the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes. I would have to disagree with this quote because I see so much more beauty in the world that can truly satisfy the soul in different ways. Learning to be more mindful in your every day endeavors can help uncover beauty in places you would never expect. What beauty did you see today?

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Fried Japanese Eggplant 

INGREDIENTS
4 Japanese Eggplant
½ c. grape seed oil
2 eggs
1/4 c. flour
1 c. panko breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper to taste
Marinara
Parmesan cheese 
Basil to garnish

GUIDANCE
Slice the eggplant into 1/8 inch slices. Prepare plates for batter by beating eggs on one plate, flour on one plate, and panko on the last plate. Heat grape seed oil over medium heat. Test heat by dropping batter into oil, when it bubbles to the top, oil is ready. Fry eggplant medallions for 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Transfer eggplant medallions to a plate with paper towels to drain excess oil. Top each eggplant slice with marinara and garnish with basil.

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Growing up I was considered a “picky eater.” I pretty much survived on grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pizza. It wasn’t until my 20’s that I started trying new foods and boy I was really missing out. I tried watermelon, corn, strawberries, raspberries, asparagus, cucumbers, tomatoes, mashed potatoes, broccoli, pretty much every vegetable possible and I loved them all! But my one true love that I have encountered in my taste testing has been pickles. My relatives at family gatherings would devour pickles and I never understood what all the fuss was about. Once I tasted the crunchy sweet and sour taste of the dill pickle, I understood all at once. What was I thinking, it makes me so sad that I missed out on this glorious creation for the first 20 years of my life. 

The definition of venturesome is willing to take risks or embark on difficult or unusual courses of action. This has definitely been true for me as I have learned to try new foods, it has been a risky endevour. In embarking on this unusual journey of food I have learned so much and been able to experience so much more about the tastes of the world. Being venturesome doesn’t just play into tasting food, it can apply to any new conquest you embark on when trying something new. If it’s trying a banana (I still don’t like these) or trying a new sport or craft, putting your whole heart into something new can be exciting and exhilarating. Jumping into new activities can invoke a change that can shift the boring, same old mentality that lingers for many. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. 

So take a risk, try that food, bake that really difficult recipe, try that exercise class, or get into whatever inspires you. I always ask my students, “what’s the worst that can happen?” We can try it, if it doesn’t work, we will change things up. You will never know until you try and if you never try you will never know. 

Like I mentioned before, these pickles are the BOMB.  They are so crunchy and best made with small garden cucumbers. If your cucumbers are jumbo, you can cut them into spears and slices to get the same crunch effect. We can these pickles so we can enjoy them all year long. FDR said it best, “Above all, try something.” Try these pickles, you won’t regret it!

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Dill Pickles

INGREDIENTS
3 quarts cold water
1 quart vinegar
3/4 c. canning salt
1 head dill per jar
1/4 t. alum per jar
1 clove garlic per jar
1 T. pickling spice

GUIDANCE
Pack cucumbers in quart size jars with dill, alum, garlic, and picking spice. Boil cold water, vinegar, and canning salt. Ladle hot liquid over cucumbers, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust two piece lids. Process quarts for 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. 

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The school year is in full swing and I have been MIA for sure! My work as a school counselor commenced again for the 5th year. This time of year has always been close to my heart. How can you not love brand new school supplies, new clothes, and smiling faces as students embark on the next year of school? Paired with the cool, crisp fall temps, apples, pumpkin spice, fall colors, leaves, and Halloween just around the corner, I couldn’t ask for anything more amazing. 

This recipe for apple juice embodies all of those exceptional elements of fall. Every aspect of making this recipe is a labor of love that can be savored all year long with your family. This recipe blends so perfectly with the classic story of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein. This story is a simple tale of a boy and an apple tree. The book shares the true meaning of giving and how happiness is derived from the act of giving to others. The importance of helping others without expecting anything in return is the true life lesson to pick from the depths of these pages. 

I found a giving tree of my own that offered up gorgeous, red crisp apples for this delectable apple juice recipe. Kindness has a large part to play in this recipe because I do not have any apple trees of my own, so I always seek out apples from friends and family. This apple juice is super refreshing and I think it would make a great weekend outing for any family with an apple orchard nearby or a nice friend with an abundant apple tree!

Share this classic story with your family and discuss the importance of giving. The illustrations and deeper meaning will help inspire gratitude all around. While your at it, I hope you enjoy the homemade apple juice for many months to come because winter is coming!
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Homemade Apple Juice

INGREDIENTS
5 gallons of apples, sliced 
4 c. sugar
5 T. cream of tarter
10 quarts of water

GUIDANCE
Cut the apples into 8th’s to fill a 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full (I fill it almost to the top). Boil the water and sugar. Add the cream of tarter to the boiling water. Pour the hot mixture into the apple bucket and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 24 hours and strain off the juice. Re-heat apple juice and put into 1 quart jars and hot water can for 10 minutes in boiling water. 

YIELDS: 10 quarts

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When I was 9 years old, my family packed up our belongings in our New York home and moved us across the country to South Dakota. We had a going away party where my sisters and I sang “So long, Farewell” from the Sound of Music to all of our relatives and they balled their eyes out. Leaving New York was a very sad day, but I didn’t know how sad it would continue to be for me. New York was the home of my childhood, my friends, and much of my family whom I spent a lot of time with growing up. It was all I had ever known. 

South Dakota was VERY different than New York. The weather was different, the landscape was different, and the food was different too. My first day of school in 4th grade was probably one of the worst days of my life. So as we embark at the start of another school year, I want to offer some guidance for parents in terms of change. Transitioning to something new can be hard, but with the right preparation and thought that change can promote wonderful things. 

  1. If you are planning to move, time your move with your children in mind. Moving at the start of the summer allows children to adapt to their new surroundings and then transition to a new school. Taking each change in small steps is helpful. 
  2. On the first day of school, make sure your child has a buddy to take them around the school, eat lunch with them, tuck them under their wing so to speak. This is probably the most important tip. My first day of school I was alone, lost, and so scared. 
  3. Visit the school in advance. Meet the teachers, staff and discuss any school routines. It’s important as a newbie to get a solid foundation of the contacts at school so that you can better help your child. 
  4. Check in! Check in on your child several weeks after the start. Meet with the teacher and discover how your child is adjusting.
  5. Get involved. Sign your child up for clubs, sports, and activities that suit your child’s interests. These activities will allow your child to blossom and make new friends. 

Even though my move to South Dakota was hard, it truly shaped me. Change has that power, to make you stronger and to make you step outside your comfort zone. Moving to South Dakota was a blessing in disguise, because it shaped me into the person I am today. My heart will always hold a place for New York. In some strange way, I probably learned to cook because I wanted to re-create all of the classic New York treats that I grew up with. 

When I moved to South Dakota there weren’t any bakeries that made one of my favorite cookies, the black and white cookie. There were no bakeries or deli’s at all! So in my years growing up in South Dakota I took it upon myself to learn how to make the classic New York staples, black and white cookies, pizza, bagels, you know, the good stuff. 

In New York, my favorite cookies come from Rockland Bakery in Rockland County, New York. This bakery is such an icon in the northeast. It’s bakery cases host any baked delicacy your heart could desire. And the fresh bread! At Rockland Bakery you can pluck your bread, bagels, rolls, right from the oven where they come out crisp and piping hot. It doesn’t get any more fresh than that! To learn more about this amazing bakery check them out here

So as a nod to the place of my childhood, here is the classic black and white cookie recipe, which is adapted from an Epicurious recipe, with a few alterations to the chocolate frosting. In addition to these scrumptious cookies, take a look at my favorite bakery and favorite scenes from New York. 

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New York Black & White Cookie

INGREDIENTS
Cookie
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/2 t. vanilla
1/3 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
Vanilla Frosting
1 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
1 T.  light corn syrup
1 t. fresh lemon juice
1/4 t. anilla
1 to 2 T. water
Chocolate Frosting
1/4 c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1. t. vanilla
2 T. milk

GUIDANCE
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup. Beat together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth. Spoon 1/4 cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and chill (to cool quickly), about 5 minutes.

Prepare icing. Stir together powdered sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. In a separate bowl mix powdered sugar and cocoa. Mix dry mixture with butter and gradually add vanilla and milk. Beat for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Turn cookies flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over other half. 

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~It’s all about the frosting!


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Achievement Days in our county was the day that 4-Hers would showcase all of their hard work and dedication through their 4-H projects. Growing up it was often an exciting day where all our projects were awarded a ribbon depending on the quality, craftsmanship, etc. For me this day was exhilarating , because I would wake up REALLY early to make cookies, cake, and fresh bread. I always wanted my food project entries to be as fresh as possible. And it paid off, most of my food projects always earned the coveted purple ribbon.

Food wasn’t the only category that I entered projects for Achievement Days. Horse, rodeo, visual arts, photography, horticulture, house plants, clothing, hobbies and collections were some of my other favorite areas. 4-H was a very pivotal program in my life and it makes me sad to see the program dying in communities around the country. I could talk for 10 days straight about why these programs are important, but I hope by sharing this with you all, you may encourage your family or another family looking for a great outlet to create and foster a sense of achievement.

So this year I got to relive my 4-H glory days by submitting entries in the Dunn County Fair. I spent the ENTIRE day cooking my entries and I loved every minute of it. It was really fun picking out my favorite recipes to cook and be judged on. I made a yummy zucchini bread recipe that is the perfect solution to an oversupply of garden zucchini. I tried a new recipe, Chewy Maple Cookies. Although they did taste great, the appearance wasn’t what I was hoping for. Chocolate Revel Bars were next up, these are an awesome treat. Rich chocolate is paired with a cookie base that is accentuated by oatmeal. My cake was a Lemon-Lavender cake, which utilized dried lavender buds in the mix. And finally the big winner was the Pecan Pie recipe. This is one of my favorite pies, especially for the holidays. 

In the end, my hard work paid off and I won the highest achievement, best in class with my pecan pie. The pie crust is extra buttery and the pie filling is to die for. What programs do your families support; 4-H, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, FFA? There are so many worthwhile youth programs out there and most counties have a county fair too. I encourage you to get out there, create a craft, bake some cookies, grow some vegetables, make a necklace. Whatever you do, your time and effort will give you a great sense of achievement. 

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Best in Class Pecan Pie

INGREDIENTS
Pie Crust                                                                                          
3 c. flour                                                                           
2 t. salt                                                                             
14 T. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled     
½ c. cold water                                             

Pie Filling
Flour for dusting
1 c. corn syrup
¾ c. sugar
¼ c. brown sugar
2 T. unsalted butter
2 t. vanilla
½ t. salt
3 eggs
1 ¼ c. chopped pecans plus ½ c. pecan halves

GUIDANCE
Prepare pie dough by pulsing flour, salt and butter in a food processor into pea size crumbles. Add water, pulse until dough comes together. Divide dough in half and wrap in disks. Chill 1 hour before using. Roll dough into a 12 in. round. Fit into a 9 inch pie plate. Chill 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk corn syrup, sugars, butter, vanilla, salt, and eggs in a bowl. Fold in chopped pecans. Distribute filling evenly over dough, arrange pecan halves around the inside edge of pie. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 1 hour.

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Lemon Lavender Bundt Cake {Blue Ribbon}

INGREDIENTS
3 c. cake flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
16 T. unsalted butter
1 ½ c. sugar
1 T. dried lavender flowers
4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ t. lemon extract
1 c. plain yogurt
1 T. lemon zest

GUIDANCE
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter, sugar, and lavender. Add the eggs, then beat in the lemon extract. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the yogurt. Fold in the lemon zest. Bake for 1 hour.

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Zucchini Bread {Blue Ribbon}

INGREDIENTS
3 eggs, beaten
3 t. cinnamon
1 c. cooking oil
2 c. peeled and grated zucchini
2 c. sugar
½ t. salt
3 c. flour
¼ t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder

GUIDANCE
Mix all ingredients together and put in bread pans. Bake bread at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 2 loaves.

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Chocolate Revel Bars {Blue Ribbon}

INGREDIENTS
Cookie Layer                                               
1 c. shortening                                           
2 c. sugar                                                   
2 eggs                                                           
2 t. vanilla                                                    
2 ½ c. flour                                                  
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
3 c. oatmeal

Filling
1 (15 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 c. chocolate chips
2 T. butter
1/2 t. salt
2 t. vanilla

GUIDANCE
Mix shortening and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Set aside and prepare filling. Melt chocolate chips, milk, butter, and salt in microwave. When smooth add vanilla. Spread 2/3 of oatmeal mixture in a 9×13 baking dish. Cover with chocolate filling. Dot with the remaining 1/3 oatmeal mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

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Chewy Maple Cookies {Red Ribbon}

INGREDIENTS
½ c. shortening
1 ½ c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 egg
½ t. salt
½ c. maple syrup
1 c. coconut
½ t. vanilla

GUIDANCE
In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, syrup and vanilla until well mixed. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture. Stir in coconut. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

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Thanks to all of the volunteers at the Dunn County Fair. There were many excellent open class exhibits as well as amazing 4-H projects!

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Did you watch the opening of the 2016 Summer Olympics last night? I am a total nerd when it comes to the Olympics. I just love all of it! The site of Bob Costas literally makes me giddy, because it means it’s either time for the Olympics or the Kentucky Derby.

The Olympics is such an amazing event that unites the world in so many ways. I love the stories of the athletes, but most of all I love how it depicts the true testament of determination. To be an Olympian takes an amazing amount of courage, grit, and determination. Can you imagine the countless hours, months, and years that go into practicing for one event? It takes an immeasurable amount of passion for a sport to reach the level of the Olympics. 

To celebrate this spectacular display of determination, we whipped up this cute little dinner showcasing the rings of the Olympics. The rings themselves display unity in that they represent the six colors (white too) that can reproduce the colors of every country. It is truly an international symbol.

We chose wheat bran bagels with oats to highlight our olympic rings, but you can use any type of bagel, mini bagel, or english muffin for a perfect pizza. Homemade pizza sauce and fresh mozerrella make these Olympic rings extra tasty. For the colors of the rings we used blue potatoes, black olives, cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers, and basil. You can use any blue, black, red, yellow, or green pizza topping that your heart desires. Other ideas would be eggplant, green peppers, jalapeños, pepperonis, etc. 

This would be a great recipe to share with your family while you tune into some Olympic action. Who is your favorite athlete? What is your favorite event to watch?

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Olympic Ring Bagel Pizzas

INGREDIENTS
3 Bagels
Mozzarella cheese
Pizza sauce
2 Blue Potatoes
1/2 c. black olives
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes
1 yellow pepper
6-7 basil leaves
Salt & Pepper 

GUIDANCE
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice bagels in half and assemble on a baking pan. Cover the top of bagel with pizza sauce and sprinkle mozerrella cheese. Prepare ring colors. Slice blue potatoes thinly and place around bagel. Sprinkle olive and basil leaves on respective bagel slices. Slices cherry tomatoes and yellow pepper into small chunks and place on bagel ring. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is browned. Enjoy 

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I forgot to mention that while in Utah we visited Olympic Park, which was the host to the 2002 Winter Olympics. Prior to our visit, we watched Eddie the Eagle, the story of a British ski jumper who had a ton of determination. If you have a chance to watch it, I would highly recommend adding it to your feel good movie playlist.

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CIA

When I was Miss Rodeo South Dakota way back in 2009, my go-to autograph slogan was “Dream Big!” It was the perfect phrase to share with every young cowgirl and cowboy that I met during that time because they are two words that can make such an impact in your life. Way before my days as a rodeo queen, I dreamed of attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. I longed to learn about cooking and baking and becoming a world renown chef. I studied French in high school, so that I would be better adept at learning the art of french cuisine. I set big dreams for myself and I never let people tell me they were too big. 

Attending the Culinary Institute of America was a lofty dream, but it was one that I was serious about. I filled out the application to attend the world’s top culinary school four times, but I never sent it away. My dreams took me on a different path, one I am thankful for to this day. On our recent trip to New York, I was ecstatic to go visit this prestigious school and taste some of the delicious creations. 

The school really is magical. It gives off this Hogwarts-esque vibe because the buildings actually used to be a Jesuit novitiate. We ate at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe (on graduation day) which was really fun because all of the chefs were walking around in their cap and gowns. The cafe was the perfect lunch spot and the food did not dissapoint!

We enjoyed the crab cake that was served with a yummy mango, lime, & jalapeno coulis and frisèe salad. Our table was filled with delectable truffle seasoned french fries, potatoes,  salmon tartan, macaroni and cheese with gruyere cheese, and the best beef tenderloin my sister has ever eaten. This cafe not only satisfies on the savory side, they shine with the amazing desserts too. Blueberry lemon macarons, ganache, cake, and chocolate; we tasted all of the goodness that the bakery had to offer. 

Although I didn’t get to attend the Culinary Institute of America as a student, I bought a chef’s coat at the bookstore and I still live out my dreams through writing this blog, cooking, and sharing recipes everyday. Don’t be afraid to dream big and work towards your aspirations. Don’t ever let someone tell you that your dreams are too big. Sometimes your dreams don’t look exactly how you picture them in the end, but if you work hard enough you can do anything. 

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Right down the road, lies another massive institution, the Vanderbilt Mansion. It is a magnificent mansion that represents what can happen when an individual dreams REALLY BIG! You can learn more about the Vanderbilt mansion here

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