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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Do you know what Braunschweiger is?

I can remember being VERY young and hearing my dad “sneak” to the refrigerator in the evening.  I would follow, knowing he was going to cut off a hunk of braunschweiger to snack on.  If I caught him, he’d cut off a hunk for me, too (bribery to keep me from telling on him!) Mom would pretend to be annoyed when she’d see the half a hunk left in the fridge…”Who ate all the braunschweiger?”  Dad and I would just grin at each other, knowing full well that mom knew the truth. Sue Ann, did you ever get any?

A couple of years after my mom died (SIXTEEN YEARS ago yesterday…wow…where did the time go?), my dad remarried.  Dorothy made my dad really, really happy for almost ten years! They loved life together, and had lots of fun dancing the years away. We love her SO much for that!  And she made US happy for many reasons…she made dad happy, she loved us, loved our kids, AND… because she introduced braunschweiger dip to our family!

I think the first time I had this dip was when dad and Dorothy visited for Caleb’s confirmation.  She may have made it before that, when we visited at their house, but I don’t remember that.  I just know we looked at it and said “ummm…thanks…what is it?”  (It is NOT a lovely looking dish, LOL)  One bite and we were over the MOON!  Oh, it is SOOO yummy! We like it best with Triscuit type crackers or Wheat Thins…(maybe Wheat thins best, but only because we just LOVE saying it like THIS COMMERCIAL!  )
It is now a standard dip at Confirmation parties, birthday parties, Thanksgiving appetizers and New Year’s Eve.  You just gotta try it!
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  • 1 lb. braunschweiger
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayo (or Salad Dressing)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T. Dill pickle juice
  • 1 t. horseradish
  • 1 t. garlic powder

Blend all together (I usually throw it all into the food processor and process til it is smooth) and chill.  Serve with Wheat thin or Triscuit type crackers.  It is also good with pita chips!
Thanks, Dorothy!  We love you!

Caleb’s graduation, May 2009

Friday, December 5, 2014

Family Favorite!

When I  am making a holiday dinner for my family, I generally make the same things every year.  I might try a new recipe once in a while, or I might take a break from one (for example…this year, I skipped the 7 layer salad, and disappointed my niece.  Sorry, MadiLou!  I will for sure make it next year!)

There is one item on the menu, however, that will cause a revolt if I skip it.  All of my kids (except one), and my hubby, and my sister just LOVE sweet potato casserole.  I like it, too.   This is one holiday recipe that will be on my table every single time.  The main course may switch from turkey to ham, and the salads may be switched up a bit, but this one…it will be there!  It’s SO good!

I decided to add some of the family favorite holiday recipes to the blog, for the sake of my children (um…Rachel) who might want to replicate a holiday dinner “like mom used to make”.

I guess I will have to update the blog next year, when I actually TAKE a picture of the sweet potato casserole! But for now, the recipe alone will have to do.

  • 3 large cans sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 - 1/3 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 3 T. melted butter
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon


  • 1/3 c. softened butter
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • pecans
  • marshmallows

Beat all casserole ingredients together. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Mix brown sugar, butter and flour.  Sprinkle on top.  Top with pecans.  (I usually leave the pecans off) Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  Top with marshmallows  Bake 10 minutes more.

MMMMmmmmmm….it’s like eating candy…

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Want to impress people???

Make a pizza braid.  It is seriously one of the easiest things to make, it never fails to impress, and it always disappears super quickly!
Tonight was Ethan’s Cross Country banquet.  He had a really successful year.  He lettered, he got a certificate for running the entire way from the middle school to the high school (13 miles!!!) on homecoming night, and he got to bring home his “beads” where they put a bead on a string for every mile they ran.  From mid-August to mid-October, the kid ran 153 miles!  I’m impressed, aren’t you???  He also earned his second “100 mile club” t-shirt, for running a hundred miles in one season.  Way to go ETHAN (Oh, and HAPPY 16th birthday, yesterday!  Seriously…16????  Wasn’t this just yesterday??? (no, really it was 2005!))

THIS was yesterday…

(he’s enjoying Chicken nachos from Rudy’s Tacos in Waterloo, IA.  YUMMY place for a birthday dinner!)
Anyway, for the Cross Country awards banquet, the families of the runners have a potluck.  (just fyi, this was our 9th or 10th year in a row to attend this banquet!)  Tonight, I made a couple of pizza braids.  Several years ago, I made ONE pizza braid for the potluck.  It was gone after the first 6 people went through the line.  So this year I made 2.  I still didn’t get any (and it smelled REALLY good in the car on the way there!)  Next time I might make FOUR!

This is SO easy!  You start out by rolling out a thawed loaf of frozen bread dough. (Yes, I have made the bread dough from scratch before, and I have used from scratch pizza dough, too.  Just about any kind of dough will work) I roll it out really thin, so that it almost covers my Pampered Chef rectangle stone. (mine are really seasoned well…they look nasty…don’t judge!)

Spoon pizza sauce down the center of the dough.  Then (optional) add slices of pepperoni (this is really good with just cheese, too!).  Top with shredded mozzarella.

Next, cut slices, about 1 inch apart, along the sides. 

Criss-cross the sliced dough, alternating sides, and overlapping just a bit, so that it looks like a braid.  I didn’t take a picture of this step, so I hope you can “picture” what I mean.
Tuck the ends in to make it look nice, if you wish.  I don’t have good luck with this part.

Bake in a 375 oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until it is golden brown.  While it is baking, melt some butter in a pan, and add minced garlic.  For 2 braids, 1/2 of a stick of butter and a huge tablespoon of jarred minced garlic was just about right.
As soon as it comes out of the oven, brush the melted garlic butter on top.  Keep brushing.  LOTS of garlic butter makes this OVER the TOP yummy!
One of the high school kids asked me “where did you GET those?”  I said (with mock huffiness) “I MADE those!”  His eyes widened and he said, “All by YOURSELF?????”
Made my day. 
You can make someone’s day, too, if you make them a pizza braid!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Well…how did that happen already?

Most of you know how much I love summer time!  I love the heat, the sunshine, I love late nights and sleeping in, I love having a laid back schedule.  I love summer!  It never lasts long enough for me.

And now, it’s already time to send Rachel back to college!  She has to move in on Tuesday.  It seems like I just traveled to MI and moved her home! 

She’s had a busy summer working at the pool.  This was her FIFTH year as a lifeguard!  She does a great job.  She has a “look” (some of my Tuckerman family know EXACTLY what “look” I’m referring to!) that scares many children into following the rules. She’s working her final day there today.

Even with the laid back, easy going summer schedule around here, there seem to be a lot of movies on our “Rachel and Mom’s movies to watch” list that didn’t get watched.  There are a several meals and treats that we wanted to make together, that are still on our “recipes to try” pinterest board.  There are also countless craft projects that we pinned, in hopes of attempting to create something amazing.  (We did have one super success, that I will share at a later date…we made it as a gift for someone, and they haven’t received it yet…don’t want to spoil the surprise!)

Rachel did learn to knit this summer.  She learned from Isaac, a fellow lifeguard.  He taught her how to knit using bamboo skewers.  Stay tuned for a picture of a project sometime!

It is a bittersweet time for me.  I love watching her grow and flourish at Concordia, where I know she’s going to be an absolutely FANTASTIC RA.  But wow..I sure do miss the gal when she’s gone. 

A few highlights from the summer:

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Birthday girl!

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Fishing…a good time, even when nothing was biting!

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All the siblings, together for a wedding…Ethan, Rachel, Caleb and Cameron

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Cousins, and future DORM MATES!  Woo HOO!

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Ferris Wheel at Cedar Point

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Super fun time with family!


Working together as lifeguards this summer has given them a special relationship.  I think Ethan got this look a LOT!


We love it when you use your talents!  God has blessed you with a beautiful ability to play piano and organ!

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We went to see Les Mis at the Cedar Rapids Theater!  AMAZING performance.

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At Split Rock for Hobo dinners.  Dad cooked them perfectly!  And Moses enjoyed the outing, too!

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We pray that your sophomore year is fantastic beyond your wildest dreams, Rachel!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Aunt Sue Ann’s Crock Pot Lasagna

There has been recent discussion about crock pot meals among some of my friends.  My family’s favorite “Crock Pot Mac and Cheese” came up, so I gave that recipe out a few more times.  The best part about that recipe is that you do NOT cook the noodles first.  You can put it together in moments, and then walk away, and 2 1/2 hours later, you have dinner!  Who doesn’t love that?

Lasagna is another favorite crock pot pasta dish in my family.  I have to give credit to my sister, Sue Ann, for this one.  I don’t know where she found the recipe, but it’s a great one.  And again, you DON’T have to cook the noodles first.  (Next time I make it, I will take a picture, and update this post…of course…I said that a couple of years ago with the mac and cheese one, and yep…still no pictures!)

  • 1-16 oz pkg. bow tie pasta (I have successfully used other shapes)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • 1 large jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 pound ground beef

Spray crock or line with crock pot liners (BEST INVENTION EVER!) Place layers in crock pot: Sauce, noodles, sour cream/cottage cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers til you are out of ingredients or the crock is full.  Cook on high 4 hours.

If the sauce seems super thick or things don’t seem to even out well, I will sometimes add a cup of boiling water, just to help the noodles cook. 

Another family favorite!  Thanks, Aunt SueAnn!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Another PIN WIN…Sriracha Ranch Chicken


OK, just gotta say…this is one that I wanna make again VERY SOON!  I pinned and pretty much followed the recipe from HERE.  And I wouldn’t change much, that’s for sure!  Super easy, and all four of us loved it!

Now, I have to mention that this ended up on the menu a LITTLE sooner than I’d intended.  I’d had the recipe pinned for a short while, and knew I wanted to make it.  But we had plenty of leftovers and such in the fridge.  Since it was my wonderful hubby’s birthday, I asked him what he wanted to have for a birthday meal.  It didn’t take him long to figure out that he wanted T-bone steaks.  Yum!  So he went downstairs to dig them out of the chest freezer.  He had to move and shuffle a few things around, but was successful in finding a nice package of 4 huge steaks.

Well, the next morning, when we went downstairs to work on some laundry, we discovered….a box of chicken breasts sitting on the freezer. A box that he had left out overnight (In February I made my first purchase of Zaycon chicken breasts.  They are a good price, and HUGE and I highly recommend purchasing these if they are ever in your area.) Fortunately for Ron, it was his birthday when this discovery was made.  Because it was his birthday, I did NOT throw a screaming hissy fit, but just calmly said “I love you, dear” (or something like that)  We brought the partially thawed chicken upstairs, and decided that the Tbones would wait…we needed to use this chicken. (Don’t worry…it wasn’t sitting out too long.  It was still mostly frozen and safe. I wouldn’t have used it if it weren’t!)

I put 2 breasts (and they are HUGE…close to a pound each.  In a casserole, 1 breast will feed all 4 of us!) in the crock pot with some broth to make hot chicken sandwiches (that’s all done and in the freezer…I’ll post the full recipe at some later date), and the rest I decided would be good for this Sriracha Ranch Chicken.

And it was.

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  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup prepared ranch dressing
  • 3 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 T. Sriracha** sauce (otherwise known by my hubby as “AWESOMESAUCE”)
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1 t. white vinegar
  • 1/4 t. black pepper
  • 1 T. white sugar

I took the 3 remaining thawed chicken breasts and pounded them to an even thickness.  This is important, because these Zaycon chicken breasts are just HUGE, and parts of them are really, REALLY thick, and then you get to the thinner ends.  Chicken that is in varying degrees of thickness doesn’t grill very well.  So I pounded them a bit, just to even them out.  They were still pretty thick.  Then, I cut them into chicken tender size pieces…I ended up with TWELVE tenders from these 3 pieces of meat. 

While I was pounding and cutting the chicken, Rachel was being her gourmet self and preparing the marinade.  We put the chicken in the sauce and let it sit. The original recipe said 8 hours, but…it’s summer and I don’t wake up in time to do the prep work and marinate something for 8 hours before we need to cook it at 5 pm.  So this only marinated for around 6 hours. 

**Some in our family don’t care for super spicy stuff.  Even those that  prefer milder dishes enjoyed this chicken.  3 T. was not too much sauce.  If it makes you uncomfortable, you could certainly reduce that to 1 or 2 T. 

Then..grill it til it is done.  Seriously YUMMY chicken!  Another WIN for Pinterest!! (I served it with hash brown casserole…another family favorite)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Man of My Dreams

God knew exactly what I needed when He knit together the man who would become my husband. He created a laid back, funny,  loving,  Godly man who is perfect for me.  

I love him when we are walking down the street together,  and he reaches out to hold my hand.

I love him when he randomly bursts into song (and it is a different song daily... maybe even hourly) ... Yesterday it was "And I'll bet you a drink or two that I can make you put that lampshade on your head" While playing a game on his computer,  and today it was "Winnie the Pooh doesn't know what to do,  Got a honeypot stuck on his nose" while walking down the street in Cedar Falls.

I love him when he patiently puts worms on my hook,  because he knows that I don't like to do it.

I love him when he messes up the lyrics to songs "When the world runs out of bubbles,  we'll still have each other..."

I love him when he mows our lawn,  does the dishes, takes out the garbage,  does our taxes,  and all the other things he does to keep our home running smoothly.

I love him for so readily forgiving me when I say or do something stupid.

I love watching him cheer on our kids in any of their sports or music activities.

I love him for being a man my kids look to for answers to their questions.

I love watching him be a pastor that is loved and respected by congregation and community members.

I love hearing him laugh.

I love seeing new places with him,  and doing new things with him.

I love that my kids respect him.

I just really love Ronnie Koch.   I thank the Lord daily for creating him.   He is the best part of me.

Happy birthday,  Ron.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Gone Fishin’

Today is the one day this week that neither Rachel nor Ethan had to work.  Since it was Rachel’s birthday last Friday, and tomorrow is Ron’s birthday, we decided to go fishing together to celebrate.  We always enjoy fishing, but I must admit…we enjoy it a BIT more when we actually get some bites!





We went to the dam in Nashua.  We often have good luck there.  Today?  Not so much…



So…what does every good mom do when the fish aren’t biting?  She takes photos, of course!





Sunday, June 1, 2014

Pinned it. Made it. Strawberry Poppyseed Salad

And it was seriously FANTASTIC! Everyone thought it was yummy.   I followed the recipe from HERE.   I did it exactly as the recipe stated,  (except the I really didn't measure much,  lol) and added grilled chicken.   Oh.. And I used the whole pound of bacon... 'cause you can never have too much bacon,  right?
Strawberry Poppyseed Salad (with bacon and chicken)
Salad ingredients :
6 cups romaine lettuce,  chopped
2 cups strawberries,  sliced/chopped
8 strips (or the whole pound) cooked and crumbled bacon
1/2 red onion,  chopped
1 cup feta cheese
Dressing ingredients :
1 tsp.  minced garlic
1 tsp.  diced red onion
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c.  white vinegar
1/4 c.  chopped strawberries
1/2 c.  olive oil
1/4 tsp.  salt
1 tbsp.  poppyseeds
Additional optional ingredients :
Grilled chicken
The family suggested cucumbers
I suggested candied pecans
And next time,  I would do it with Bleu cheese instead of the feta
Mix the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and process till smooth.   Mix the salad ingredients in a big bowl (and if you are like me,  you have to set aside a serving with no onions,  for the picky eater).   Add dressing and mix well.   Yummm!

Friday, May 30, 2014

My husband is a better blogger than I am!

My hubby started a blog years after I did.   He posts more regularly than I do.   Today,  I took a picture of him,  setting up and taking a picture for his blog.   He already had posted today's entry.   Check it out! It is his "Lifetime Beer Blog"

Pinned it and Actually DID it! (new blog topic…)

I saw this on a blog somewhere and thought it was a GREAT idea.  You know all those things you “Pin” from pinterest?  Well, I actually DO try to do some of them.  And honestly, I have yet to try one that is a “pin fail” or a “pinstrosity”  I’m sure my time is coming.  But either way, when I try something new from Pinterest, I will try to share it here, and let you know…thumbs up or thumbs down. 


OK…just to be clear…this is a total and COMPLETE thumbs up.  This.  Was.  AWESOME!!!  My best friend and coworker has decided that she isn’t coming back next year to work as an associate with me.  Often, our beverage of choice when we get together after a long, HARD day of work, is a margarita.  In honor of her last day of school, I made this margarita cake

THIS IS NOT MY PICTURE….it is from the above linked site where I originally found the recipe I was going to follow!  (I would have taken a picture, but…umm…well…the people that I work with tend to make things disappear quicker than I can get a picture!)

It was a hit by all who tasted it.  Seriously good cake.  There is a crushed pretzel crust on the bottom, which took this cake over the top. 

  • 1½ cups coarsely crushed pretzels
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1¼ cups bottled nonalcoholic margarita mix
  • 1⁄3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime peel
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (I deviated from the recipe here…it really called for cool whip, but I SO MUCH prefer whipping cream!)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup sugar
  • Grated lime peel or wedges, if desired

Preheat your oven to 350*.  Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with Nonstick cooking spray)
Place pretzels in food processor and pulse to a crumb (or…if you need to get out some aggression, pound it in a baggie)  Add sugar (I think next time I might leave out the sugar and just go for the salty in the pretzels.  There is enough “sweet” in this cake) and butter and press into the greased pan.  Press down gently.

In large bowl, beat cake mix, margarita mix, oil, lime peel and egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Continue beating on high speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pretzel mixture.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is done (very lightly golden on top)  Cool completely, about 1 hour. **Stick the bowl and beater of your mixer into the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Pour heavy whipping cream and 1/2 cup sugar into bowl and whip til stiff peaks form.  Top the cake.  Sprinkle with freshly grated lime peel.  Store, covered, in the fridge.

**Now, IF a person weren’t taking this to school, one could take a little bit (1/4 cup or less) of Jose Gold tequila and, using a pastry brush, just lightly brush tequila over the top of the cake.  Not much, but it can add just a nice touch.  THEN frost it with the whipped cream.  OOOH…sends it over the top!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Long Lost Hello

Ok, so It has been over a year since I last posted, (as I was so kindly reminded a couple of weeks ago by a longtime friend)  This blog started as a way to easily keep family and friends from all around the country updated with pictures and stories of what was going on here in Iowa country.  But then facebook came along, and it became quicker (instantaneous!) to post pictures and status updates about what was going on in the lives of myself and my kids.  It was just easier.  But sometimes I miss blogging…and being able to browse back through the online journal.  So…we will see.  I will try, once again, to post a bit more regularly.  We will see.  It may, or may not happen!

Since my last post, we have had a high school graduation (Rachel), the completion of a freshman year of college (at Ron and my Alma Mater, no less!) (Rachel) a college graduate and successful completion of a move and first year of a “real” job, (Caleb), a new collegiate “Ultimate Frisbee” player and completion of junior year of college (Cameron) and…a cross country running, Sensation show choir performing, vocal singing, band playing, driving, socializing, dating AND first ever in the family to have a broken bone high school freshman (Ethan).  That is a bit of why I just haven’t kept up…too much going on.  But again, I kind of miss the “journal” aspect of this blogging thing, so…I will try again.

Send me a “nudge” if I get lax again, would you please?