My Other More Exciting Self

Farm Raised, Shoe Enthusiast, Turkey Talker, Wine Lover, Mom

Honestly. Sometimes I just want to watch House Hunters on HGTV and not worry about the demise of critical thinking in this world.

But no, invariably something happens to mess up the best of plans.

Like this USA Today opinion piece that was posted last night: “Know how that chicken got to your table? Our view”.

USA Today op-ed on chickens | via

After reading it and letting my blood pressure go through the roof, I realized it was a complete regurgitation of Mercy for Animals’ talking points. Mercy for Animals being an animal activist group that has the sole purpose of eliminating meat from our diets. All meat. From EVERYONE’s diets. Because apparently they know what’s best for all of us.

That’s so completely objective of you, USA Today.

Okay, yes, I get the concept of an opinion piece – and certainly USA Today’s writers are entitled to their opinions. But they couldn’t even fork over the time or the money to make their very own graphic on this. Instead, they used a Mercy for Animals graphic that encourages people to ”take action”, “choose veg”, and “donate.”

My journalism professors at the University of Minnesota would be shaking their heads right now. I’m certainly shaking my head right now. Seriously?

Not to mention the fact that the writers at USA Today didn’t appear to do one iota of research or fact-checking when it comes to the Humane Slaughter Act, which is mentioned prominently in the editorial. They completely skewed the facts that poultry is actually covered by the Poultry Products Inspection Act, which most certainly monitors humane bird care at processing plants in addition to ensuring food safety.

It certainly doesn’t appear to me that the USA Today talked with any poultry companies or visited a chicken farm or processing company prior to writing this opinion piece. They did, at least, allow a rebuttal from the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, which reminded readers that “By law, the Agriculture Department provides around-the-clock, on-site inspectors who can take enforcement action for mistreatment if spotted.”

And, as someone who has worked in the poultry industry for 20 years, I can assure you that’s the truth.

USA Today op-ed on chickens | via

Listen, I’m not here to tell you to eat more poultry – well, okay, that’s not true. I would actually like it very much if you did eat more poultry. But on the flip side, if you want to be a vegan, that’s completely your choice and your business. I am a proponent of food choices for all in this country.

What worries me is a newspaper the size and caliber of USA Today can blatantly publish animal activist propaganda, without any regard for seeking out background information for making their own informed opinions. And I worry that too many people will take what they read as absolute truth.

In this case, it’s not the truth.

Want to know how that chicken got to your table? Don’t ask USA Today – ask a farmer or someone who actually works in a chicken processing plant. That would be a very good first step.

- Lara -

Turkey Enchiladas (Adaptation of The Pioneer Woman's recipe for chicken enchiladas) | via #SwitchToTurkey #JennieO #TurkeyEveryday

It’s time for another Turkey Tuesday recipe, folks! And this one is a sure-fire winner because 1) I taste-tested it on our good friends, Teresa and Scot, who came over for dinner last Saturday; and 2) it’s a version of a Pioneer Woman recipe.

If you know me, then you know my love for The Pioneer Woman. Teacher man jokes that he knows he can always find me in the kitchen on Saturday morning, watching her show on The Food Network. (True.) He also says most of the new recipes I try tend to be from her website or two of her cookbooks I own. (Also true.)

I’m not ashamed. I don’t think any of her recipes have failed me yet – delicious and fun to cook, without being over-the-top on fancy ingredients I can’t pronounce or buy in my local grocery store. Plus, I think we’re kindred spirits because we both have an obsession a love for heavy cream and tunics, which I realize are two completely different – but equally important – things. And her husband’s name is Ladd, and my brother’s name is Ladd. Crazy, right? I am sure this means we should hang out.

So this recipe. It’s yet another perfect option for switching to turkey. I just love these JENNIE-O® Extra Lean Boneless Turkey Breast Tenderloins – and when I saw my local Walmart had restocked them, I bought 4 packages straight away to have in my freezer. This product was perfect in these enchiladas.

(Did you know? Jennie-O has a great feature on its website that lets you plug in your zip code and search to see where you can buy products.)

Turkey Enchiladas (Adaptation of The Pioneer Woman's recipe for chicken enchiladas) | via #SwitchToTurkey #JennieO #TurkeyEveryday

Full disclosure: when I saw the recipe called for roasting my own peppers, I gave some thought to skipping that step because, well, I can be kind of lazy in the kitchen. (Sometimes true.) But then I decided to go for it and found, much to my surprise, that roasting my own peppers wasn’t difficult at all – aside from just taking about 45 minutes from start to finish.

I served these with Zesty Lime Rice (via The Pioneer Woman), black beans (I used Bush’s brand), and Mango Margaritas (yep, The Pioneer Woman). All elicited positive comments from our dinner guests on Saturday – and the leftovers weren’t too bad either on Sunday. :)

Go forth, purchase turkey, and make these enchiladas.

- Lara -

Turkey Enchiladas

  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2-1/2 cups cooked turkey, diced or shredded (I used JENNIE-O® Extra Lean Boneless Turkey Breast Tenderloins and seasoned with chili powder, cumin and Cajun seasoning)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
  • 12 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • Cilantro, for serving
  • Salsa, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

On a medium baking sheet, arrange the turkey tenderloins and season with chili powder, Cajun seasoning and cumin. Bake for approximately 25 degrees – until a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Cool slightly, then dice turkey into cubes (you don’t have to be perfect – see my photo above), and set aside in refrigerator.

Roast the bell peppers and jalapenos under the broiler (or on a grill) until the skin is mostly black. Throw the peppers/chilis into a plastic storage bag and seal it. Let them steam inside the bag for about 30 minutes.

Core and seed the peppers, then scrape off the black skin. Chop them, then set them aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion and jalapeno in canola oil until the onion is translucent – about 3 minutes.

Add the turkey, stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the paprika and salt. Then add half of the chopped peppers. Stir the mixture around and let it cook for a couple of minutes, then set it aside.

In a separate skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk it together to combine. Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Then pour in the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth, stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Then pour in the remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and 1-1/2 cups of the Monterey Jack cheese. Finally, stir in the sour cream and the rest of the chopped peppers.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave until they’re very soft.

Place a small amount of the turkey mixture and a little cheese in the center of the tortilla. Fold over the edges and place the tortilla, seam side down, in a baking dish. Once all tortillas are filled and in the baking dish, pour the sauce over the top. (Note: I used one 9×13 metal pan for 8 enchiladas, and a smaller glass baking dish for the remaining 4 enchiladas, and split the sauce accordingly.)

Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 cup of grated cheese and bake for about 25 minutes, or until bubbly.

Note: I am part of Jennie-O’s Switch Circle of bloggers, but I do not get paid for my posts. I do receive some complimentary turkey products to try upon occasion. Opinions and topics are entirely my own.

I figure it was 16 hours tops.

That’s how much sleep I got total on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  Some people don’t need 7-8 hours of sleep a night, but I happen to not be one of those people.

This is why it would be more than a slight understatement to say I am very glad it’s Friday and I have – praise be! – an entire day off with no one in the house but me.

Now, don’t get all bent out of shape. I love my family. I love spending time with my family. But the truth is, I don’t get many days of down time all by myself in my own house. When this happens, I do a silent little happy dance and take full advantage. Wives/mothers, you’re with me on this, I know.

A girl needs some alone time with no schedule, yes? And in my case, for these five lazy reasons today:

1) For ignoring my work email and, instead, catching up on all my magazines … food, fashion, life. I seriously love going through magazines. It’s my #NerdyJournalismMajor self coming out – except that I didn’t read stuff like Time and The Atlantic Monthly. Just girly stuff today.

High Five for Friday | via

2) For getting a brand-new pedicure with purple polish. (Okay, so it was at the nail salon at Walmart. Not exactly a spa environment. However, I was the only person in there this morning, which gave me extra time in the massage chair. With my eyes closed, I could go pretty Zen and not even see the blue savings signs or hear the ringing of the cash registers.)

High Five for Friday | via

(Okay, I guess it’s kind of weird to see my feet this close up. But the purple polish is so springy, right? #SorryNotSorry)

3) For eating as many peanut butter chips as I want. Does anyone love eating chocolate (or butterscotch or peanut butter) chips straight out of the bag? Please say you do. Otherwise, I might feel bad. Or maybe not.

High Five for Friday | via

4) For watching March Madness all afternoon. I love this time of year!

High Five for Friday | via

5) For giving undivided attention to Earl the pug, who – as you can clearly see from this photo – is very excited to have his mama home all day long. Doesn’t he just exude elation? Well, okay, maybe it doesn’t look like it, but trust me on this – the dog loves nothing better than nap time in the porch, as close to me as possible. And this, my friends, is exactly what happened after I took this photo. Now that I think of it, this is probably his “enough with the blogging already, it’s time for a nap” expression.

High Five for Friday | via

It also feels good to get back to blogging a bit, even if it is only to recount the many ways I was completely lazy today.

I’m linking up today with The Diary of a Real Housewife, September FARM and The Farmer’s Wife, so you’ll find tons of other Friday-related blog posts at these links. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

- Lara -



When I leave the house on Monday morning, I will be heading into Saint Paul for what is easily my busiest week of the year. It’s almost time for the 2015 Midwest Poultry Federation Convention, an event our office spends months planning for and the thing that accounts for probably 75% of my workload from December-March.

But for now, I’m ignoring the teeny tiny little fact that I have work to do on Sunday. Instead, I’m sharing some random thoughts and a few photos because it helps calm the stress that is building in my soul right now. Let’s have some fun instead, shall we? Work can wait.

1) The Lego Movie is seriously good. I know, I know, this is old news, but I saw it for the first time Friday night and couldn’t believe how clever and fun it was. I think I want to watch it again.

2) Teacher Man has the nastiest cold and I’m currently sucking down multiple Vitamin C tablets so that I do not get sick in the next five days. Or ever would be good too. But at least for the next five days.

3) If there is ever any doubt that Joe is my son, I give you these items:

  • He competed in the state piano competition today for the Minnesota Music Teachers Association. If he gets a superior rating from his performance, he will play at an honors concert in Minneapolis.
  • His teacher nominated him to attend the “Young Authors Young Artists” (YAYA) symposium in May at the College of St. Benedict’s.
  • I think he is totally psyched about middle school band.
  • When he illustrated the cover for his poetry book for school, he drew a picture of himself fist-pumping Shakespeare.

Joe at U of MN's Ferguson Hall | via

Shakespeare Fist-Pumping Joe | via

4) I am such a turkey nerd that I took a photo of some new turkey menu items along with the turkey burger I ordered today for lunch at Champp’s in Minnetonka.

Champp's new turkey menu items | via

5) I can’t even believe my coworker received an email over the weekend from someone asking for a hotel’s phone number. (Shoot, this is work-related, isn’t it?) Well, the idea that someone couldn’t at least Google for this information is pretty mind blowing. I mean, I think it’s 2015, yes? I can’t quite decide if this person was just lazy or truly didn’t know how to find a hotel phone number on his own. If it’s the latter, I am very afraid for our world.

6) It was so glorious outside today that I took Earl the pug for a little walk. And when I write “little,” I mean I literally walked him around the house and that’s it. Apparently that was enough fresh air for his 14-year-old pug self because he has been snoring on the floor, pretty much not moving, for the past four hours. (Note: Photo is prior to the dog collapsing on the porch floor from apparent overindulgence of outdoor air and exercise.)

Earl the #Pug | via

7) Is there anything more fun that Facetiming with my niece, Miss Morgan, who will soon be 15 months old? It’s the ultimate stress-reliever because how could you not love that smile?

Facetiming Miss Morgan | via

8) I am a proud shill for Dairy Queen. And because of that, I get sent these fun little surprise packages – the latest being a poster and a kazoo (?) to spread the word about #ConeWithMe on March 16 – the day DQ is giving out free cones to their customers. We eat a lot of ice cream – and specifically DQ – at our house and we are not ashamed.

#Cone with Me - #DairyQueen via

9) It became quite clear tonight, after attempting to plug in an HDMI cord into the back of one of our televisions, that cheaters are becoming a necessary evil in my life. Thankfully, cheaters are fun and colorful and sassy now, which makes me feel almost fashionable because I have cheaters in three different colors. Okay, maybe that just makes me obsessed. But either way, these are not my grandmother’s cheaters. (For the record, though, my Grandma Doris would’ve definitely had animal print cheaters if they would’ve been available. She was a stylish woman and not afraid to make a statement in leopard or cheetah.)

Cheaters! via

As much as I hate to say this, I will likely not be back to blogging until after my big week at work. I’ll miss it but will see you all soon. In the meantime, have a great week!

- Lara -


You guys. It’s supposed to hit 55 degrees tomorrow. 55 degrees! That makes Monday seem almost … celebratory.

But first, a quick recap of the past week:

My post on Wednesday – Food Shaming – went fairly ballistic for me and I was excited to see it shared by so many people! If you haven’t read it yet, the Cliff’s Notes version is this: let’s all stop with the guilt around our food choices. I’m no better and no worse than anyone else, based on what I choose to feed my family. (If you missed the full story, click here.)

And while this all happening on my blog, something nasty called “highly-pathogenic Avian Influenza” was confirmed in a turkey flock in Minnesota. This is not fun for farmers, and it can sound scary to the rest of us too. Bottom line – this virus hits turkeys hard, but it’s NOT a food safety issue at all so keep buying turkey in the supermarket with confidence. If you want to find out why turkey farmers are working hard to keep their flocks safe and healthy, click here for my blog post on

Which brings me to the weekend. Ah, the glorious weekend.

On Saturday, Joe and I visited my sister’s place of work – a brand-new Carver County Library in Victoria. The new book smell was beyond amazing, but what Joe loved the best was his special behind-the-scenes tour of his aunt’s workstation and where all the books go after they get put through the book drop. Plus bonus: he could link his own library card (in a different library system) with the Carver County library’s system so now he can check books out at his aunt’s library, too. Score!

Joe with his Auntie Jodi at the Carver County Library in Victoria | via

As luck would have it, the library was right next to a cute little ice cream shop. Plus it was 40 degrees. So … a triple scoop of cotton candy ice cream was in order.

Triple Scoop | via

Saturday night, we had a little change of plans which left us with a free evening at home. Teacher Man and I took advantage of this by going out for a little happy hour date at a local bar, while Joe enjoyed some quiet uninterrupted video game time at home. If I recall correctly, his last words as we left the house were “Take your time!” ;)

Happy Hour | via

Joe Man | via

After dinner it was on to family movie night – and specifically James Bond movie night. We’re introducing Joe to all the old James Bond films, the latest being Thunderball. He is now learning about Bond Girls and cheesy one-liners.

Family Movie Night| Via

It’s Sunday night as I write this and we’ve had a pretty low key day around the house. Magically, we all slept in until almost 8:30 – practically unheard of for any of us. I got outside for a run this morning and Joe and I went for a walk after dinner tonight. I must say, we’re positively giddy about watching the snow melt into nothingness – Earl the Pug included! Looking at the extended forecast in Minnesota this week – 60s by Wednesday?!) – I have a feeling we will all be smiling tomorrow no matter what the day brings.

Have a great week!

- Lara -

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