Love, Knoxville: Rev3 Triathlon & Tupelo Honey Cafe

Last weekend was heavenly. I took a solo roadtrip (complete with eight-hour, one-woman karaoke sesh), I got to race in a beautiful part of the country, and I got to see my sisters, brothers-in-law, and magnificent niece and nephew. I did the things I love the most with many of the people I love the most. The only conceivable improvement would have been having Dave there with me, but that might have caused me to explode with happiness… I am thankful for the weekend with my family and am much more content undetonated.knox20My baby sis lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, which has become one of my favorite places to visit since she moved there in 2005. Knoxville is a charming, deliciously Southern city on the Tennessee River and its people are as lovely as its scenery (read: quite). Said lovely people are polite and gracious and their local food is fantastic (they have a biscuit festival- a biscuit festivaaaal), so even if I hadn’t had a super fun race planned, I was delighted to be spending time in tasty, sunny, welcoming Knox.

The race that brought me in, the Rev3 triathlon, is held in World’s Fair Park and was a three-pronged race this year. There was a 70.3 distance, an Olympic, and a hybrid Championship distance for athletes who qualified at various Rev3 events throughout the season. 2014 marked the last year Rev3 would host a professional race with a prize purse- controversy! They’re trying out a new age group-based model that eliminated the pro race entirely. I’ll miss the excitement of watching the pros and it’ll be interesting to see how the races change with the offer of money for age-groupers. Will lower-tier pros race as age groupers? Who’s going to come out of the woodwork now that there’s money on the table? Will participation grow or shrink? Will this raise the likelihood of doping among age-groupers? How will testing work and will it be more frequent? So many nerdy triathlon questions, aagghhhh!!

Anyway, I raced the Olympic Aquabike, a funky little combination that not a lot of people participate in- it’s just a .9 mile swim and a 24 mile bike. No run. My right knee is the devil, so swimming and cycling are much more fun for me. It was a perfect combo- I was able to compete and get a great workout without collapsing for the rest of the day. The swim was in the Tennessee River, upstream for about 1/3 of a mile from the dock at Calhoun’s, then downstream the rest of the way. Water temp was 68- a little chilly when you jumped in but not bad at all as long as you had a westuit.

The bike was super hilly- rollers and a few long climbs. Living in the Midwest, I have to seek out hills to ride. The lush, green, winding Knoxville back roads were very different from the pancake-flat Missouri and Illinois trails with ancient, time and iceberg-worn Ozark “hills” I’m used to, so the change was challenging and welcome.

Other than a girl in front of me almost getting hit by a car going uphill around a bend (yeesh) and seeing a pack of guys drafting (lame-o, blame-o), the ride was perfect. Breathtaking, well-supported, and realllly fun.

My sisters came out early in the morning to support me in my weird hobby (amazing. they’re amazing) and brought the kiddos. I even lucked out and took home some swag. And that was the race! Thanks, Rev3, for another great event and thank you, sisters, for being so very loving and wonderful and encouraging.


love those sissies

For anyone traveling to Knoxville for the Rev3 in the future, I highly recommend Tomato Head for an awesome pre-race meal. Tomato Head serves up pizza for every taste, from vegan to chicken with pesto and walnuts to Margherita. By the slice, too, all crazy kinds. It’s incredibly family-friendly and has a top-notch local beer list, to boot.

the kiddos cracking wise at Tomato Head

the kiddos cracking wise at Tomato Head

Post-race included a trip to another Knoxville fave, Stir-Fry, for pad Thai and sushi and hot and sour soup (why else would I race?! for the food, the FOOD!!). But the kicker was breakfast the next day…. Tupelo Honey Cafe.


come on in, y’all

Tupelo Honey Cafe was my last hurrah before hitting the road back to MO. Diana and I grabbed an early breakfast there on a green, rainy morning. The restaurant has several locations, all in the South; Knoxville’s is on Market Square, the heart of downtown.The atmosphere was great- the place is basically a pinner’s dream come true- open kitchens, blue glass bottle chandelier, or hanging reclaimed window dividers, anyone?

We each ordered the quiche-like “breakfast pie,” she the vegetarian, with asparagus and herbs, and I the omnivore, with ham, red peppers, and Brie. Each pie was topped with an edible flower. Come ON with the cuteness, woudja? Geez, Tupelo Honey Cafe! It’s like you’re reading my mind!

knox17The crusts on the pies were perfectly buttery and flaky. Diana ordered sliced tomatoes on the side (the South is getting to her) and I had luscious, tart, creamy goat cheese grits. Say whaaa? Total elevation of goat cheese. And of grits. Continuing the elevated dairy trend, we also ordered whipped peach butter- butter whipped with chunks of fresh peaches (you probably guessed that, eh?). The peach butter melted over the complimentary biscuits we drizzled with house-branded honey. Basically, I was carbed and caloried-up for another race when I hit the road. sweet as Tupelo honey/just like honey from the bee

…as sweet as Tupelo honey/just like honey from the bee..

If you have the chance to stop by Tupelo Honey Cafe, and you like happiness and good things, do. There’s just something about well-made Southern food that warms the spirit (even if the restaurant has more than one location). Your spirit will be warmed. Mine was- all over Knoxville, in fact. Another amazing trip for the [cook]books.


so much love/niecey is over it

Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw & Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

IT’S HOT OUTSIDE AGAIN… FINALLY. Glory, hallelu! Simple pleasures are the best, and there are few simple pleasures I love more than the feeling of sun on my face and limbs and a warm breeze blowing by. It’s my favorite time of year- time for long days and nights and living outside, for outdoor concerts and bikes and running and sweating and swimming and brewery patios and dinners from the grill. Time to jump in with wild abandon and really live!

29 Things You Can Expect Now Summer's Finally Here

I’m aliiiiive!!!

Speaking of dinners from the grill, these tacos are a favorite dish I had kind of forgotten about for a while (oops) and made last night to celebrate the change of seasons. Produce-heavy and no oven required. Perfect for a hot and steamy weeknight. Mama likey.



  • 1.5 lbs firm, white fish fillets (I used cod, mahi mahi also works well)
  • canola oil
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • corn tortillas
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives, if you have them around
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (optional but highly recommended)
  • white onion, diced (optional)
  • hot sauce for serving

fishtacos 11



  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • the kernels from 2 ears of corn
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • handful parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp  chopped chives, if you have them around
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper


For the fish tacos and slaw:  preheat a grill or an indoor grill pan or skillet to medium-high heat. Brush the fish on both sides with canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dave grilled these (thanks!) while I prepped the veggies, and he cooked them in a grill basket for about 7 minutes per side. How long you cook the fish will depend on the thickness of the fillets and the heat of your grill or stove; basically, cook until firm and opaque, flipping halfway through. Set aside in a large bowl when done.

not a very colorful or exciting pic, but you can take that up with the cod

not a very colorful or exciting pic, but you can take that up with the cod

While the fish cooks, stir together the sour cream, juice of one lime, a pinch of kosher salt and about 1/4 tsp black pepper in a medium-sized bowl.

fish tacos4

Stir in the chives, cilantro, jalapeño, and cabbage. Taste this and adjust seasoning a needed.

fish tacos5

Toss the fish with the cumin and the remaining lime juice. Spoon into microwaved, doubled-up corn tortillas, top with onion and the cilantro slaw, and serve, passing hot sauce around. YUM.

For the corn, tomato, and avocado salad: okay, first off, to remove corn kernels, stand an ear of corn up on its flat end (the end you break the stalk off of) on a cutting board and slice the kernels off from the top down with a large knife. In my next life, I’ll add a video of how to do this (so many plans for this next life). Toss the tomatoes, scallions, parsley, chives, and corn together in a large bowl. Top with lime juice, canola oil, a big pinch of salt, and a few generous grinds of black pepper and toss together. Fold in the avocado. DONE! This is crazy flavorful and so, so good for you. Enjoy!

fish tacos6

Winter was arduous, mmkay? Welcome, late spring and I love you, summer.

The 15 Phases Of Every Winter

who has two thumbs and figured out how to add gifs to her posts? hahaha…






Broccoli Wild Rice Casserole (veg, gf) & Planting Herbs Like a Boss

So I’ve cautiously planted a few things this year… useful things. Herbs. This is my first shot at eating something I’ve grown and, as of this morning, the herbs were still alive (victoreeeeeeeyyyy!). Though the herbs aren’t dead, I’ve formed a bad habit of tending to but not using them- and what’s the point of that?! Sheesh. I decided to make this casserole to pick some thyme and let it do it’s thing. To give it its thyme to shine, if you will (yuk yuk yuk).


Here are the products of my attempt at green thumbing-it. Irises I didn’t plant, the suspiciously healthy herbs, succulents that survive in desert conditions, coreopsis and other native plants that were the lone survivors of a Washington University drought experiment (thanks, Julie!), and basil, which would probably grow in a highway ditch.

Stand back. I am a master gardener.

To use my homegrown, real-life, big girl thyme and combine my love of grains, casseroles, and veggies, I made this delicious fare last night. Largely based on Heidi Swanson’s wild rice casserole (I know, I know, I keep coming back to Heidi), I added more dairy and waaay more veggies to make this a hearty and filling vegetarian side. Served with greens, another veggie, or with salmon as Dave enjoyed it, it’s a main dish. It’s quite tasty and addictive- I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

cass veggies

get jazzy on it


Inspired by Heidi Swanson


  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz cottage cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
  • 5-6 cremini mushrooms, diced
  • half a large yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic or 4-5 cloves roasted garlic
  • 3 leaves kale, ribbed and cut into ribbons
  • 1 small head broccoli, stems diced and florets cut into quarters


To cook the wild rice: in a small stockpot, add the wild rice, water, and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is chewy. You may need to drain this, depending on how temperamental and stubborn your rice is. Set aside!

I got some wild, wild rice

I got some wiiild, wiiild rice**

As the rice cooks, heat the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan. Add your pre-chopped veggies and sauté in this order:

  1. carrots, mushrooms, thyme, onion, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt for 3 minutes
  2. add kale and broccoli, cook another 2 minutes
  3. add celery and garlic, cook 2 minutes more
  4. your kitchen smells amazing now.

cass veggies cook

Set the veggies aside or just scoot the pan to a cold burner. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, and as much pepper as you’d like. You can whisk in the last 1/2 tsp salt here or omit it altogether.

cass eggs

Preheat your oven to 350. Using a bit more olive oil or some butter, grease a casserole dish. I used a large Corningware but a 9X9 would work well here, or even a 9×13. Fold the rice into the dairy and egg mixture and then fold in the veggies.

cass all mixed in bowl

Pour the rice and veggie mix into the greased casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 20-25 minutes depending on the depth of your casserole dish. You want the casserole to be heated through and the top to be golden brown. All done! Let cool slightly and serve!


Produce Basket Weeknight Curry (v, gf)

Well, hello! It’s time for a curry. This dish is a great way to either add veggies to your diet, celebrate a meatless Monday, or use up the sad veggies withering away accusingly in your fridge. Grab the veggies! It’s not too late!

veggie curry



  • brown rice, cooked according to package directions (or a microwaveable package of brown rice)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

    you saved us!

    you saved us!

  • 6-8 cups of any combination of vegetables you may have, or:
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 eggplant, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms


  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp red or green curry paste, your choice (or 1+ tbsp curry powder and 1 tsp kosher salt)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce or 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • extra credit: 1 kaffir lime leaf and 1 tsp grated lemongrass
  • cilantro, for serving
  • bean sprouts, for serving 
  • sriracha or other chili paste for serving


Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over medium high heat. When the oil has melted and is hot- you can test this by tossing in an onion- add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes, until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass, if using, and saute for another minute. Add the rest of your spectacular veggie combo (excluding cilantro and bean sprouts) and saute, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes more. Leave the stove on and skillet hot.

veggie saute

Remove the veggies to a large bowl and add the coconut milk to the  skillet and bring to a simmer. When the coconut milk is simmering, add the curry paste or powder, the brown sugar, and the fish sauce or salt. Stir to dissolve and combine, then add the veggies back and the kaffir lime leaf to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 3-5 more minutes.

veggies cooking

That’s it! Taste a bit of the sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary. You may like it a bit more salty. Serve over brown rice and pass sriracha. How good of you to eat so many veggies at once. Yum.

Quickie: Peanut Butter & Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Dip (veg, gf)

Re-sharing a big hit. Yummy, healthy dip!

allez! gourmet

Pretty simple entry- this is a healthy and delicious dip for apples, bananas, and probably anything else you can slather it on. It’s a quick and easy snack you can make a large batch of and keep in the fridge for a fast and filling and high-protein accompaniment to fruit. Here it is!

does a body good does a body good



  • 1 1/4 cups fat free Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut or almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp- 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (two large dashes)

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Field Trip: St. Louis is Awesome & Russell’s On Macklind’s Post-Race Biscuits From Heaven

St. Louis sure gives its residents a lot of things to do. No matter what your interests are, if you’re motivated enough to leave the house you can find something fabulous within a 20-mile radius of the city to fill your day or weekend.  Case in point: I had the chance to race the Eads Bridge Duathlon last weekend, a run/bike/run spanning the iconic Eads Bridge to Illinois, then back to Missouri and up into the oft-ignored Old North City, all before lunch. What a cool thing to be able to wake up and do within the boundaries of my beloved city. Not bad, St. Louis, not bad at all.

eads bridgebarney

Dave was feeling under the weather that day so he didn’t race (he’s feeling better now —>), but he did accompany me to Russell’s Cafe on Macklind Avenue for a casual post-race lunch. I needed lots of good food and a 4 Hands Divided Sky Rye IPA; Russell’s had both of those things and is within walking distance for us, so trekking there was an easy decision. In lieu of posting a Russell’s restaurant review because I love the place and that’s my review, I’ll instead wax poetic about their breathtaking biscuits.

Breathtaking. Buttery. Crumbly. Layered. Fluffy, hot, and square. Served with house-made blackberry preserves, a small pot of good butter, and luscious local honey. We ordered the biscuits, available Saturdays and Sundays during brunch, on a whim. I’m sure glad we did. Russell’s does many things well (grilled sandwiches, kitchen sink salads, phenomenal baked goods); these biscuits were a revelation. You may be thinking that my amped-up appetite swayed me into loving them, but I can say with conviction and a clear mind that these were the best biscuits I’ve ever had. There. I said it. RUSSELL’S ON MACKLIND MAKES THE BEST BISCUITS I’VE EVER HAD.

Until lunch, I thought I’d had a good day because the race was so fun and I got to hang out with my honey. The day was actually made by these biscuits. Outside of the St. Louis area? Try your hand at my Kitchenaid buttermilk biscuits. If you’re around St. Louis and have a chance to swing by Russell’s on a weekend- the Macklind Mile is coming up, after all, another terrific St. Louis race- do yourself a solid and order a board of these biscuits. Slather them with butter and drizzle them with honey. They will not disappoint.

Healthified Caramelized Onion Dip (veg, gf)

You know what I love? I love old-school, high salt, pre-packaged, preservative-heavy onion dip. I enjoy shoveling the dip into my mouth using rippled potato chips. Not a good habit. Not good at all. The same part of my brain that thinks it likes the poisonous, gelatinous dip so much loves candy corn (partially hydrogenated corn syrup chunks), movie theater popcorn (yes, I would like that drizzled with trans fat sauce), and sour gummy worms (these are not food in any way). Also, it’s my eighth birthday. Also, sorry I’m not sorry.


To trick this part of my palate, which was born 20 years ago in the candy aisle of 7-Eleven and is in it for the long haul, I make snacks like this:


  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic or 2 garlic cloves, mincedingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh
  • splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, or crackers for dipping (especially good with Mary’s Gone Crackers)


Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt and brown, stirring continuously, for 12 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 more minutes. The onions will turn a lovely dark brown and smell heavenly.

onions caramelized

Stir in the garlic and thyme, raise heat to medium, and cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add a splash of Worcestershire and allow it to mostly cook off. Stir the onions into the Greek yogurt and allow it to chill for a bit. Serve with veggies and bask in the healthy glow of your matured decision-making skills!

Food for Thought: The Environmental Impact of Eating Meat

We’ve all heard the myriad health benefits of reducing our meat consumption, but what about the benefits to our planet? Mother Earth News published a great article succinctly summarizing the environmental impact of our monstrous American meat consumption, and I wanted to share it. It goes without saying that raising, preparing, and eating meat is deeply ingrained in our culinary identity as Americans, but aren’t American innovation and ingenuity a greater source of pride? What would be so revolutionary about an American shift to a fiscally responsible, sustainable, self-preserving plant-based diet? Wouldn’t that shift put us ahead of the curve? Food for thought.

veggie cow

Here are the facts that jumped off the page at me from the Mother Earth article:

  • Nearly all supermarket beef, chicken and pork — the three most consumed types of animal protein in this country — are produced on enormous industrial-scale farms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines these huge farms as “agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. [Such operations] congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing in pastures, fields or on rangeland.”
  • On these factory farms, animals eat commodity crops — primarily corn and soybeans — that are subsidized by taxpayers via the Farm Bill. Half of all North American cropland — about 149 million acres — produces animal feed from genetically modified (GM) crops designed to resist weedkillers such as Roundup. These crops have spawned an epidemic of herbicide-resistant “superweeds.” In 2012, superweeds infested 61 million acres of farmland growing GM crops. The result: An increase in herbicide use rather than a reduction, as well as “stacking” of genetically modified traits in seeds to allow cocktails of potent herbicides to be used on crops.
  • Beef cattle are given anabolic steroids as well as estrogen, androgen and progestin — commonly called “growth hormones” — to make them put on weight more quickly. Although the European Union banned the use of these hormones in 1988, they’re still commonplace in the United States. “Measurable levels of…growth-promoting hormones are found at slaughter in the muscle, fat, liver, kidneys and other organ meats,” says the Organic Consumers Association in a position paper. “Every beef-eating American for over 50 years has been exposed to these hormones on a regular basis.” Pigs, too, are fed growth hormones. The use of growth hormones in poultry, however, has been illegal in the United States since the 1950s.
  • Animal feed includes low-level (sometimes called “sub-therapeutic”) doses of antibiotics to promote growth and offset unsanitary, overcrowded conditions. About 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are administered to livestock, a figure acknowledged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. These drugs pass through manure and leach into the soil and groundwater, ultimately polluting neighboring rivers and streams.

My decisions as a consumer are weighing more heavily on me as I become aware of their rippling consequences (I think this is called “maturing” in some cultures. hmm). I love the occasional taste of meat and am by no means scolding…. but this is shocking stuff. If you’re considering reducing how much meat your family eats but you’re not sure how to approach the change (most of us are programmed to cook with meat), try introducing meatless Mondays or Mark Bittman’ wonderful flexitarian approach: VB6. Vegan before 6pm!

What are your thoughts on the effects of excessive meat consumption across our country?

You can read the entire article, Try a Flexitarian Diet for Better Health and a Better Food Budget, here.


Earthrise. I LOVE ya and I want to take care OF ya!