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Walking Dead Recipes – Carol’s Casserole

February 25, 2018
Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole

I’m starting a new feature called Walking Dead Recipes. This week’s Walking Dead Recipe is Carol’s Casserole. 

Casseroles, or hot dish as we call them in Minnesota, are the perfect dish for those living in the zombie apocalypse. They’re usually made with whatever happens to be on hand and often utilizing canned ingredients that might be about to expire. 

Walking Dead Recipes – Carol’s Casserole

Carol Peletier often talked about creating tasty meals for Ed when she cleaned out the pantry. 

I make a mean Tater Tot Hot Dish, and this is a variation of that dish but without the Tater Tots. The way I figure it, no one is going to have edible Tater Tot’s available a couple of years into the zombie apocalypse. All frozen foods would be spoiled within days of the power going out. 

Chow mein noodles would be available, however. They might be a little stale, but still perfectly good two years after the power went out.

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, there’d probably be an abundance of canned lima beans. I don’t have any so did not put them in this recipe. I don’t have any because I don’t like them. No one does and yet they produce millions of cans of these things. If lima beans are your thing, by all means, add them in.

I did use Vom Fass Star Honey Balsamic Vinegar in this dish to add a little flavor to the dish. Vinegar has a long shelf life and thus would still be good in the event of an apocalypse. Vinegar is a miracle ingredient and while it’s not an ingredient you’d think to add to a savory casserole, it’s delicious and really pulls all the ingredients together.


If you’re in the Twin Cities and are interested in trying this amazing vinegar, you can get a nice discount at the Mall of America shop (located on the third level next to Carlo’s Bakery near the food court). For a $5 off $40 coupon just give them the code JB. It’s good until March 15th. Check out their Facebook page for delicious recipes.

Like most casseroles, the ingredients are dictated by what’s available. Usually canned veggies and some kind of ground meet. This recipe could be made with ground turkey or ground chicken and would still be delicious. 

Walking Dead Recipes – Daryl’s Marinated Chicken


Print Recipe
Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole
Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole
  1. Brown the ground beef with the chopped onion and garlic, drain the grease and return pan to burner.
  2. In another pan mix the mushroom soup with the corn and green beans. Add mixture to the ground beef and fold in until incorporated.
  3. Pour mixture into casserole dish and bake, covered, in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, remove cover and sprinkle chow mein noodles on top of the casserole. Return to oven and continue baking another 15 - 20 minutes until bubbling and golden.
    Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole
Blogging Events Minnesota Minnesota Nice People Reviews Things I Really Like Winter

Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

February 5, 2018
Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

Now that it’s over, everyone can go home. Obviously, I have some thoughts on the Super Bowl and all the surrounding festivities and celebrations that took place in the Twin Cities metro area.

Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

First and foremost, it was pretty awesome. The weather couldn’t have been better. Sure, it was cold and it snowed a few inches, but that’s what we do here and visitors can say they endured a true Minnesotan Winter. Make no mistake, it could have been a lot colder.

The cities involved – Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington and all the other places – put on a great show.

I didn’t go downtown Minneapolis – mostly because of parking, and all the people, and because I don’t care, but if I were into sports it would have been fun. It looked like there was a lot of stuff to do if you are into sports.

I didn’t go to downtown St. Paul either but that’s because I’ve seen it – a lot – and have been to the Winter Carnival many, many times. And, because it was cold. Still, I did watch the news and it all looked awesome. Bravo too whoever was in charge of that, you did a great job.

I did go to the MOA and that is a well oiled machine. I go there most mornings to get my steps in during the winter months so I watched the transformation from mall to media outlet. In just a couple of weeks the mall was completely transformed into a sports venue of sorts, and that’s following the holiday season which was also a major transformation. Today, only hours after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, the Mall of America had mostly returned to being a mall.

The fans were pretty cool. Out of town fans were pretty easy to spot, they were the ones wearing hats, mittens and several layers of coats and vests. All of them had new Sorrel boots. Everyone seemed to behave themselves. The Eagles didn’t trash Minneapolis, though they trashed their own town which is interesting… 

The celebrities were pretty cool too. Except for Justin Timberlake. Don’t get me wrong, he’s cool enough even though he projected a huge image of Prince onto a sheet at his half time show. It was close enough to being a hologram so…. I couldn’t hear most of the songs he sang during his show, but then I don’t know them anyway.

It was an okay show, certainly not the worst, but it didn’t hold a candle to the performance Prince put on in 2007. And that isn’t even where I take issue with JT. No, I’m irritated that he went to my Target on Friday and signed a bunch of his albums and then told fans the secret code to get them. That was fine, it’s that he didn’t actually go to my Target on Friday, he went on Monday and it was all staged. I know they do that, I just thought he was different. 

I didn’t get to have Jimmy Fallon over for dinner, he ended up going to some home in Champlin. I suspect it was because he didn’t get Minnesota Nice or because I goofed and said he was from California instead of New York. I have no idea how I made that mistake, I watch the show every night and it says it in the intro. 

All in all, it was a pretty positive experience. Of course, I live in St. Paul so my life wasn’t impacted that much by the festivities. I’m glad we got to show the football fans and the teams a good time and what a real winter is like and I hope many will return to spend more time here and enjoy all that this state has to offer. However, for now, everyone can just go on home. 

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An Invitation to Dinner for Jimmy Fallon

February 1, 2018
Tater Tot Hot Dish

So apparently Jimmy Fallon is inviting himself to dine with some Minnesotans while he’s here for his live Tonight Show following the Super Bowl. He’s not from here so he wouldn’t know that we don’t just invite ourselves over to someone’s house for dinner. In fact, we have to be invited a minimum of three times before we can accept anything. 

However, this is a special occasion and all so it’s probably okay to overlook this faux pas. 

The daughter and I were watching the news last night when we heard about this. Her immediate response was “why would he want to come here for dinner?”.

Which is a typical Minnesotan thing to say.

With that in mind, I decided to send Jimmy Fallon an invitation to dinner at our house. Of course in Minnesota dinner takes place at noon and lasts until late evening – with half of that taking place at the door trying to say goodbye. 

I did not link to my recipe for tater tot hot dish in the email but am here for those of you who want to know what hot dish is all about. 

I’m a little worried the folks in California won’t understand Minnesota Nice. 

I do have a signature in my email, linking to this blog, and I’m hoping I don’t end up in junk mail. So if you wouldn’t mind tweeting this post to Jimmy, that would be greatly appreciated, unless you have something better to do of course.

Here’s his Twitter @jimmyfallon

An Invitation to Dinner for Jimmy Fallon

Hi Jimmy,


I heard you were looking to invite yourself to a Minnesotan’s house for dinner while you were here for the Super Bowl. I guess you do that sort of thing in California. My daughter doesn’t think you’d want to come to our house because we live way over in St. Paul and nobody in Minneapolis ever comes over here but I told her you put your pants on just like everyone else and why wouldn’t you want to come for dinner?


So yeah, we’d love to have you come for dinner. It’s a little short notice and all, but it’s no trouble.


You said you wanted to try out the local cuisine – whatever that is – but I can pull a Tater Tot Hot Dish out of the basement freezer for you. You said you don’t want a salad, and that’s fine. I’ll still have one for you if you want to try it. I made a lovely Lime Jello Salad, you’ll love it. I can make some bars too, I know I have a box of Betty Crocker somewhere.


I’ve been told I make a fair Tater Tot Hot Dish. It’s not as fancy as Margie’s down the street, but that’s because she uses both peas and beans in hers. That’s too much green for me. I prefer peas and corn. Margie also puts that paprika on top of hers, but she’s originally from Wisconsin so what do you expect?


Don’t tell Margie I said that about her hot dish, we still have to work together at the Booya this summer and it would be awkward if she knew how I really felt.


When would you like to come over? Anytime is good for us, but we got bingo down at the casino on Friday night so we’d have to wrap up supper at about 5:30. Will that work for you? Otherwise we could do dinner on Saturday or Sunday. That’s noon in case you don’t do dinners out in California.


Sunday would be nice, we could watch the game. I mean it’s not like the Vikes were gonna win if they got in anyway.


Will you be bringing your friend Justin? It’s no trouble if you do, I’ll just have to get my son Alex to come over and get a folding chair out from the garage. It’s really no trouble at all, just let me know.


Are you allergic to cats? If you are we’ll put the cats in a room. They don’t get along very well so if you know that cat whisperer maybe you could bring him along instead of your friend Justin? We could really use his help with these dang cats. You must know him right? He’s got all those things in his ears, so he must be from California.


Oh, my that was rude of me. You can bring both of them but let me know so I can have Alex get another chair from the garage. It’s really no bother.


Well I look forward to meeting you, even if it is on such short notice.


Jennifer Brown

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How to Fit in When Visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl

January 29, 2018
How to Fit in When Visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl

If you’re wondering how to fit in when visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl, I’ll save you all kinds of time. You can’t. Sure, you can dress warmly (though that is the first clue you aren’t from here), and you can even adopt a quasi Fargo accent, you still won’t fit in.

Hell, I was born here and have lived here for most of my life and I’m not welcome in many of the neighborhoods (one of which I grew up in). The truth is, Minnesotans make their friends in kindergarten and those are the people they socialize with for the rest of their lives. You can marry your way into the group, but you better not get divorced because even if you were a lifelong member of the group, we will dump your ass faster than you can say “ya sure, you betcha”. We have to because we want to talk behind your back and as Minnesotans we can’t do that if we’re bowling with you every Friday night.

How to Fit in When Visiting the Twin Cities for the Super Bowl

Minnesota Nice

We’re not really that nice. I know the media is pushing Minnesota Nice like we’re this warm and welcoming place, and we are to our friends we met in kindergarten, but not to strangers. And if you came to Minnesota from another state you are a stranger. People move here from out of state and live amongst us for decades and they remain strangers to the locals. There’s nothing you can do about it, it’s the rule.

We are Polite

However, we are polite. In fact, we’re considerably more polite to the strangers than our kindergarten friends. We’ll hold the door open for you and we’ll offer to jump start your car when it’s too cold for the engine to turn over. We’ll even help push your car when it gets stuck in the snow. That’s just common courtesy and while we may not be particularly religious, we have that thing called Lutheran Karma (really, it’s a thing, I just made it up) cuz we know our car will get stuck at some point.

Dress Accordingly

If you’re coming here from the east you can probably acclimate to the cold weather and dress appropriately, except it’s a lot colder. If you’re coming from the south or the west –  it’s not going to work. Dressing appropriately for a Minnesota winter does not mean wearing three layers of down coat, three pairs of socks and your brand new Sorrels. It’s going to be chilly here this week. The forecast has the temps ranging from -8°F to 29°F, that’s an open jacket, no mittens and no hat for Minnesotans. College males will dress in shorts this time of year. The only time you wear all of those layers is when you are ice fishing and that’s because you’re standing on a few feet of ice and that can get a little nippy. 

The Skyway

Part of the reason we don’t wear all those layers is because we have a Habitrail system in both cities. The Skyway is a system of above-ground walkways that connect the buildings in the downtowns. You never actually have to go outside. They can be easy to get lost in, however. Every now and then there are sightings of old Deadheads who visited in the 90s for a Grateful Dead concert and never found their way out. It might have been the acid or it might have been the skyway system. We’ll never know so be careful. 

The Long Goodbye

In Minnesota, nothing lasts longer than saying goodbye, except for maybe the losing streak of the Minnesota Vikings (too soon?). We say goodbye for longer than we visited. If you stop someone in the skyway and ask for directions we will chat you up. We’ll ask where you’re from and then we won’t be able to say goodbye without at least three attempts. It’s another one of those rules that have been in existence since time immemorial. It just is, go with it. Trying to force an early goodbye will just make it take longer. Thankfully they close the skyways at 10pm on weeknights, 8pm on Saturday and 6pm on Sunday. 


If you’re not from here you’re probably better off using the light rail system, an Uber or taking the bus. We recently had over a foot of snow and the plowing still isn’t completed, at least not in St. Paul. It’s not worth the accident, insurance increase and the long goodbye you’ll have to have outside in -8°F after exchanging insurance info. If you do plan on driving please study this primer on Minnesota Driving. It covers it all from parking, getting stuck and what to put in your emergency kit. It attempts to tackle pedestrians and their right of way, but that’s always a heated discussion. 

It won’t help you fit in, but it will help you understand why we are the way we are. Pick up a copy of How to Talk Minnesotan by Howard Mohr, or better yet, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. You won’t get it before the Super Bowl, unless you want a digital copy (checks to see if they have digital copies – they do not, bummer). Still, it’s pretty funny and explains a lot. Of course, unless you fall in love with a local you’ll probably never come back here so no need really, but feel free to if you like. I’ll choose a random person from the comments as winner of this pretty funny book.







Blogging Dumb Shit I Do Food Minnesota Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles

January 27, 2018

Earlier I posted a recipe for Big Mac Hot Dish, but because I was concerned about my use of Tater Tots in the recipe I also a Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles using elbow noodles instead of the tots. Initially I did not want to use noodles, it just seemed like a weird combination of flavors – pickles, cheese, tomatoes – to have with pasta. Still, I was concerned the tots might get soggy and I knew the pasta would come together better and probably look better on a plate. 

Turns out, both are super tasty and super easy. Here is the recipe for Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles.

Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles


1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

Half a box elbow noodles cooked al dente and drained

1/2 cup diced tomatoes – drained

1/2 cup diced pickles – drained

10 oz Velveeta – cubed for easy melting

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

Putting it all together:

Cook the elbow noodles according to the package so they are al dente. 

After dicing the pickles press them between several layers of paper towel to remove as much liquid as possible.

While the pasta is cooking brown the ground beef with the chopped onion, cook thoroughly and drain. Turn the burner down to medium and add the tomatoes and pickles, mix well.

Slowly add the Velveeta and milk and stir while it melts. Add the Thousand Island dressing and mix well. If your mixture is too thick you can add more milk.

The pasta will absorb the liquid so you’ll want this to be a little less thick.

Fold in the pasta and place mixture in casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes at 350°F.


Serve and enjoy!

Dumb Shit I Do Food Minnesota Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Big Mac Hot Dish

January 27, 2018
Big Mac Hot Dish, Big Mac Casserole

If you’re looking for comfort food, this Big Mac Hot Dish is just the thing on a cold winter day. Seriously, it’s really tasty and super easy to make. 

I grew up on Tang and Pop Tarts, going to McDonald’s was a rare thing in my family and quite a treat when it did happen. The only reason to go to McDonald’s back then was the Big Mac. This was before McRib, Chicken Tenders, McNuggets, etc.

Back then – mid 70s – you had the choice of a hamburger, cheese burger and the brand new two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun – Big Mac. It was divine. 

Now that I’m older, more responsible and more health conscious, when I do go to McDonald’s I order a chicken sandwich and don’t eat the bun. It’s not nearly as much fun so I don’t go often.

Today, I was craving a Big Mac. Mostly I wanted the pickle bite with the special sauce, and cheese. I didn’t want to go to the Golden Arches because I’m really trying to use what I have in my fridge – creatively – so I figured I’d try a Big Mac Hot Dish.

It turned out wonderfully if I do say so myself. Actually I was surprised at how good it is. I didn’t want to make a casserole with pasta. I really wanted to keep it as close to a Big Mac as I could. The problem with that is it would basically be a Big Mac in the blender, and I didn’t want that. So, instead of the pasta I used Tater Tots and OMG it’s awesome.

After I made this I Googled to see if this was a thing. Apparently it is but it uses lettuce and crescent roll dough, and sesame seeds. So, technically this is not really a Big Mac because I left those things out and added the potato, however, I think this is a superior hot dish because it’s like having fries with it – which is the only way to have a Big Mac. 

This is the most retro casserole or hot dish you could imagine. It oozes the 70s and it is super!

Big Mac Hot Dish


1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

1 cup Tater Tots (I used the smaller crispy ones)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes – drained

1/2 cup diced pickles – drained

8 oz Velveeta – cubed for easy melting

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

Putting it all together:

Cook the Tater Tots according the package. I wanted them crisp because I was fearful they might make the dish soggy. 

While the tots are cooking brown the ground beef with the chopped onion until cooked thoroughly and drain. Turn the burner down to medium and add the tomatoes and pickles, mix well.

Big Mac Casserole

A note about the pickles, I drained them and then pressed them between paper towels to take out as much of the liquid as possible. 

diced pickles

Slowly add the Velveeta and milk and stir while it melts. Add the Thousand Island dressing and mix well. If your mixture is too thick you can add more milk, but you don’t want it runny, it’s okay if it’s a little on the thick side.

Big Mac Casserole Recipe

Fold in the tots and place mixture in casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes at 350°F. Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes or so if you want it to brown up any exposed tots. 

Big Mac Hot Dish Recipe


Serve and enjoy.

I didn’t think to put a garnish on the dish, but some shredded lettuce sprinkled on top would probably work really nicely and make it more Big Mac ish. You could even put a few sesame seeds on top of the lettuce. I thought about putting some hash browns on top in a very thin layer – mostly for the crunch and color, but that seemed like overkill with the tots so I skipped it. Cheese didn’t seem right either. A little bacon might be good too, it’s just not my thing. 

Because I was concerned the tots might get soggy I also made a variation with elbow noodles instead of the tots. I added more cheese to this variation so it was more of a Big Mac & Cheese Hot Dish instead. I’ll post that recipe next. 

If you have any ideas for garnish or sides please let me know in the comments. 





Food Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Baked Reuben Dip

January 21, 2018
Baked Reuben Dip

I’ve been making this Baked Reuben Dip for ever. I got the original recipe from my ex brother in law some 25 years ago. Originally the recipe called for sliced Buddig roast beef, and it was fine. However, I have found that using roast beef from the deli makes for a much better dip.

The original recipe, at least as I learned it, was for the Crock Pot, one of those mini ones. And again, it’s great, but it takes forever and keeping it warm for hours at a time makes a nasty mess. Baking it in the oven creates a better dip that is more appealing.

This is one of those recipes that has an awful lot of wiggle room. It has three main ingredients – cheese, meat and sauerkraut – in equal parts that can be adjusted based on how much you need. In my house my son wolfs it down before anyone else can get to it so I usually make a lot.

I’m using weight as a measurement but you can use volume too. This would translate to about a cup of each ingredient.

Baked Reuben Dip

Baked Reuben Dip

8 oz roast beef – sliced and chopped

8 oz Swiss cheese – grated

8 oz sauerkraut – drained and chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing

In a mixing bowl mix together all ingredients. Use more or less of the Thousand Island dressing depending on how “dippy” you want it to be. Place in oven safe casserole dish and bake in a 350°F oven for 35 minutes or until bubbly and beautiful.

Serve with Gardetto’s rye chips or those little pumpernickel breads you see in the bakery section of your grocery store. I prefer the rye chips because they’re the perfect size, but Ritz crackers or melba toast works well too. 

If you have any leftovers it can be used for making Reuben Balls or simple spread on a toasted baguette for a quick and simple Reuben sandwich. 


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January 15, 2018


That was a helluva game last night. It looked like a typical Minnesota Vikings end of season. They held a 17 point lead agains the Saints for most of the game and then they didn’t. There were seconds left on the clock, no way they could win, but they did.

I don’t need to recap the game, you probably saw it when it happened and if you didn’t, you’ve seen it a hundred times by now.

I’m not even a sports fan, let alone a football fan, but it was…. amazing. 

It’s difficult not to get swept up in the excitement, but we’ve been here before, many times, and … sigh…. we know how this is likely to end. And we know better. And yet…

This season, and especially last night’s win, reminds me of when I am stuck on a level in Candy Crush. I’m not going to purchase any boosters and some of the levels are simply unwinnable without boosters. Eventually the game realizes you aren’t going to pony up any cash and lets you win because who knows, you might in the next really level. 

According to Berg’s Fourth Law of Media/Sports Inversion – A Minnesota sports team may be a contender until the moment the local media actually believes they will be contenders. At that moment – be it spring training, late November in the NFL season, or week 72 of the NHL playoffs – the season will fall irredeemably apart.

It goes for more than just the media, when the folks start believing, I mean REALLY believing, that’s when it will inevitably fall apart.

We’re a group of people who thrive on the negative, as explained here in Howard Mohr’s How to Talk Minnesotan: The Power of the Negative

Certainly, we’ve been doing this since before the Vikings joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1960, but it has served us through the incredible, heartbreaking, frustration and excruciating losses we’ve witnessed in the last 58 years.

I gave up on the Vikings, like I usually do, in the preseason when they lost to the Seahawks. In fact, I declared I was going to make the Seahawks my team going forward. I did this – not because I am a Seahawks fan, but because I was doing my part to ensure the Vikings started winning.

I watched two games in the regular season, both times they lost. In fact, I remember hoping they would lose. Again, doing my part to help them win. When I stopped watching, they started winning. I haven’t seen a game since and even last night’s game I didn’t actually watch until I though they were going to lose and then it was my job, as a Minnesotan, to endure the loss – live.

I have a friend who is not a Minnesotan, he’s from Florida of all places, but has made his home here for several decades. As the Vikes racked up more and more wins he started speculating about the Vikings in the Superbowl, numerous times. Each time I had to remind him that he was going to jinx the whole thing if he didn’t knock it off. I think he thought I was joking, I was not. I’m hoping the fact he is a Floridian will appease the football gods, but for all I know we’re going all the way to lose because someone, who isn’t from here, speculated too soon in the season.

Like all Minnesotans, and some people from Wisconsin, I’ve been let down by the Minnesota Vikings for as long as I can remember. And I do remember. I remember exactly where I was when they lost in ’74, ’75 and ’77. I was roller skating (because there’s not much else for a pre-teen to do in MN in the winter months. I take that back, there is, but we didn’t ski either) and the disappointment was palpable when they lost the Superbowl each time.

I do not come from a sportsminded family. My father would have sooner have bathed the dog after being sprayed by a skunk than take my brother and me to a football game, or any sports game for that matter. I do not understand football terminology or know anything about offense or defense. I just know that the Vikings will make it to the very precipice and then lose in such spectacular fashion – sort of like the Saints lost last night – and once again crush our dreams.

That the Superbowl is in Minnesota just makes it even worse. 

Of course, the reality is that this is just too good to be true. They shouldn’t have won last night, it just isn’t what they do. I really don’t know what I am supposed to do for the next week. I’m in unchartered territory and it terrifies me. 

I won’t say it, but there is a part of me that is beginning to believe that this might be our Candy Crush.

Of course it won’t be, the Vikings will lose next Sunday, and all will be right with the world.


Blogging Food Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes

January 11, 2018
Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes

Here’s another quick and easy recipe for your new pressure cooker – Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes. Yep, 9 minutes to make a hearty, protein rich soup that would normally take an hour or so on the stove top.

Nothing brings back warm memories than pea soup. Growing up we had this for dinner at least once a month during the winter months. In Minnesota that’s half the year. My brother and I hated pea soup – probably because of the name and the way it looked. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I actually started liking it. It was probably no surprise that I liked it at that point because I am a better cook than my mother.

I make pea soup every year after Christmas. I usually have so much ham leftover I can also make my Instant Pot Ham and Wild Rice Soup (I really need to get an additional Instant Pot for that much leftovers. 

If you didn’t get an Instant Pot for Christmas you can get one here, this is the one I have – Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker – but they’re all great. It’s so much more than a pressure cooker. It is also a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker and warmer. I’m pretty sure it can walk the dog.

This Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes recipe is super simple, super easy, and super forgiving. If you don’t like some of the ingredients, just eliminate them or put something else in. 

Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes


  • 1 bag split peas rinsed – any color
  • 1 bag lentils rinsed
  • 1 onion
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 cups diced ham
  • 8 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tobasco or Melinda’s Hot Pepper Sauce to taste (Optional)
  • Sour Cream for garnish

Putting it all together:

I start with a mirepoix (diced veggies – usually carrots, onions and celery) and toss it in the Instant Pot and hit the sauté setting for about 3-4 minutes. I just want to sweat the veggies a little. 


Rinse peas and lentils until the water runs clear. I never used to do this, I figured it had been rinsed at the plant, but I’ve found it makes a superior soup if you rinse the dried peas.  From there I throw in both bags of peas and lentils and pour in the water and secure the cover.

Use the manual setting and set for 9 minutes on high pressure. Make sure the pressure valve is in the closed position. It takes my instant pot 15 mintues or so to pressurize and seal and then start cooking. 

(Apparently, I forgot to take anymore pictures of the process…duh)

Do a slow release of pressure – basically don’t open the valve. When it’s depressurized open the lid and stir your soup. 

This is when I add the diced ham. I used to just throw it all in the pot and cook the hell out of the ham and that was a mistake. The ham has been cooked so all you need to do is warm it up. And it will warm up enough in the hot soup. 

Serve in bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream. Don’t skip the sour cream, it adds an amazing flavor to the soup and makes it even creamier. 

Instant Pot Pea Soup with Lentils in 9 minutes


After the soup has cooled enough I usually freeze 2/3rds of it in individual servings. I freeze them in Ziploc bags because they’re easy to store in the Freezer but you can use plastic containers too. Whatever works. 

My daughter does not like pea soup so it usually takes me a year to finish this huge batch. Be sure to mark your container with the name and date. I play hard and fast with sell by dates and use by dates, but you’ll still want to know what it is and when you froze it. 


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When the Bough Breaks

January 11, 2018
when the bough breaks

Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop

Who the hell puts their baby, along with the cradle, in a fucking tree?

They don’t. It’s a metaphor. For mother (or father, primary caregiver – just so I don’t offend anyone reading this who isn’t a mother, but who is the primary caregiver – hey, we’re all, metaphorically, in this together, right?).

Did you see what I just did there?  I just fucking apologized to someone who might or might not be offended that I assumed the nursery rhyme was about mom and not dad. 

That’s how overwhelmed I am.

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock

I am breaking. 

I am a single mom, I am always in a state of overwhelm, but lately I have not been able to get any respite.

Between trying to chase down an IEP for my daughter who was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and Anxiety; fighting my ex husband in court, via text message and through his porn-star named attorney (I am sure she is nice and probably a decent attorney, but she really should consider changing her name); and work full time… I just don’t have any energy left.

My house is a shambles. I have laundry in the washing machine (not the dryer, but the washing machine) from before Christmas, and there’s some weird shit growing in my fridge. 

I cannot keep all the balls in the air right now.

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall

I know I am not the only single mom who doesn’t have any support. In fact, it is so common we should form a club and make t-shirts. The problem is, we’re all too overwhelmed to meet up.

I suspect that’s a big part of what is wrong with society right now. Aside from the explosion in single people raising little people, we’re also really disconnected. Sure, we communicate with one another on social media, but that’s usually just so we can flaunt our moral superiority. It rarely is about lifting anyone up or offering sincere support – though I am sure it happens, it doesn’t happen enough. 

We’re disconnected from family. At least I am. There was a wedding in my extended family not too long ago. I’d been hearing about the preparation for the last year so I knew it was coming up and expected to be invited. I was not. I was informed “we really didn’t think you’d want to go.” How considerate. No, I’d never want to connect with family I haven’t seen in a few years. I really enjoy not going out and seeing people. I much prefer to stay home. Of course, god knows I have plenty to do at home (see above) so maybe it really was a blessing that I wasn’t invited. I’m not even sure I would have wanted, but I am sure I would have liked to be invited. 

And down will come baby, cradle and all

I’ll get over this, I will get my footing back and I will get my shit together. I will get the IEP, I will get the school to accomodate my daughter and I will manage the next four years of dealing with the ex somehow. I do. I always do. And, I’ll do it alone.

Actually, I am not alone, I do have support, it just comes from the oddest and most unexpected places. My first ex husband’s wife has been wonderful. She always has been. I recently connected with a high school classmate, through Facebook, and he helped fix my leaky drain. He was most gracious, happy to help. It was not like it was some horrible chore to him (like it was when I used to ask my brother for help) and that was wonderfully refreshing and fucking weird at the same time. 

There is no point to this, I just needed to vent. So, thanks for listening.

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Instant Pot Ham and Wild Rice Soup

January 3, 2018
Instant Pot Ham and Wild Rice Soup

Happy New Year! This year I’m starting off with an Instant Pot ham a wild rice soup recipe. I make all kinds of soups during the holidays. Usually because there are so many leftovers from the holiday meals, but also because it’s so damn cold. Currently it’s about -14°. That’s Minnesota, and that’s why we make things like Tater Tot Hot Dish. It’s also probably why we drink.

Anyway, Ham and Wild Rice Soup is a staple around the holidays. As any good Minnesotan knows, the best ham and wild rice soup comes from Byerly’s and this recipe relies heavily on their recipe which you can find here. I love this soup so hard, but it’s got a lot more salt than I can tolerate so I have made some adjustments to the original. I use a ton more onion, no chicken brother (because I didn’t look at the recipe when I made it, and didn’t have any), and possibly more sherry than it calls for. It’s a forgiving recipe that can easily be tailored to your tastes. 

Here is my altered version of this recipe with instructions for the Instant Pot:

Instant Pot Ham and Wild Rice Soup

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 chopped carrots

1/2 cup diced celery

3 cups wild rice prepared (I used leftover wild rice from Christmas dinner, it had water chestnuts and mushrooms in it which I think added some lovely flavor and texture)

2 cups chopped ham

A couple of handfuls of slivered almonds

1 cup half and half

1/2 cup (ish) dry sherry


Putting it all together:

Make a mirepoix with the onions, celery and carrots using the sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Don’t let them brown, you just want to bring out the flavor of each ingredient. 


Add the ham, wild rice and enough water to cover the ingredients. 

instantpot ham wild rice soup recipe

Set the Instant Pot on manual high pressure for 5 minutes and let cook.

Do a quick pressure release and when safe to open add your almonds, flour, half and half and sherry. I simply mixed the flour with the half and half but you could mix it with the sherry too or mix all of them together. You may need to add additional water or if you prefer chicken broth.

Cook using the sauté setting until the soup has thickened to your liking. 

Ham and wild rice soup

That’s it! Serve with the leftover rolls and you’ve got a scrumptious meal for these fridgid days.