The Barrel House & Ice Cream – Dubuque, Iowa

Supper at The Barrel House and a snack of ice cream set the tone for our outstanding trip to Dubuque, Iowa a few weeks ago!  While we were there, we grabbed 2 full meals and a snack!  Breakfast in the morning was a Caroline’s Restaurant which is in the Hotel Julien and we highly recommend!

The Barrel House

For supper when we arrived in town, we headed to The Barrel House and what a treat it was!  It’s location is super handy when you’re staying at the Hotel Julien as it’s right across the street, which is one of the reasons we selected it!

T’s selection at the Barrel House!

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Port of Dubuque River Walk

On a gorgeous day in Dubuque, Iowa one wants to enjoy the river and the weather!  We love walking along the Port of Dubuque River Walk!  Here you can slow down, enjoy the view, some art, and history all at the same time!

River Walk & Art Sculptures

This walkway is a paved trail that runs along the port/river and is adorned by lots of art sculptures!  Enjoy the view of the different art as well as reading about them at each stop!

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Easy Instant Pot Tomato Sauce

Last year I canned tomatoes for the first time.  This year I decided to tackle tomato sauce.  But,  if you’ve learned anything about me, it’s that l like things to be as easy as possible in the kitchen!  So, when people were telling me that I needed to blanch tomatoes, take the skins off, deleted them, roast them with lots of seasonings, and other things, I thought…surely this has to be easier.

Of all the produce that our garden has produced this year, our tomatoes are some of the best.  Big, firm, and standing tall!  They may have been slow to turn, but I’ve been patient as I knew this would be worth it in the end when I have homemade tomato sauce this winter!  I’ve discovered that the older I get, the more joy I get in preserving our food through freezing and canning for use later.

My Instant Pot ready for making tomato sauce!

The Recipe

Thanks to my friend Jenny over at In the Kitchen with Jenny and my other friend Mary, over at a Natrual Soul, I talked through things and did indeed find that it could be easier!  So, between these friends and my Instant Pot, I now make what I’d like to consider is the worlds easiest tomato sauce.

Instant Pot Tomato Sauce
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: varies
 
Ingredients
  • Tomatoes
  • 1 Onion
  • Minced Garlic
  • ¼ c water
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the trivet in the bottom of your instant pot and pour the water in the bottom.
  2. Fill the pot with the tomatoes, washed and whole, along with the onion that has been cut into quarters!
  3. Drizzle olive oil over all and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Place the lid on with the valve set to steam and turn on to manual for 5 minutes.
  5. Once done, do a quick release.
  6. Drain all the juices from the tomatoes and onions and place in a blender and blend until smooth!
  7. Can or freeze.

 

After cooking in the Instant Pot

Cooks Notes:

  • There aren’t a lot of measurements on this recipe because it is a lot up to the cook!  Some batches I put more onions in, sometimes it was more garlic!
  • 1/4 cup of water may not seem like a lot, but the tomatoes produce so much of their own juices that you don’t need any more!
  • No, I don’t remove the skins or seeds!  The seeds don’t bother us and I believe the skins add a thicker texture!
  • Yes, it really is that easy!  I have a large drawer full of tomato sauce ready for the winter thanks to this recipe and my mom (who does my canning)!

I hope you find this recipe helpful and as easy as I did!  Enjoy tomato sauce year round!

Tomato Sauce

Other tomato sauce recipes from Iowa Bloggers:

Healthy Roasted Tomato Sauce from Farm Girl Cook’n

Easy, Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce from Simplify, Live, Love

Traditional Slow Cooker Sunday Red Sauce from Ally’s Sweet & Savory Eats

 

The Hotel Julien Dubuque: Making You Feel Special

T and I recently made an overnight trip to Dubuque and stayed the Hotel Julien Dubuque.  WOW!  The Hotel Julien knows how to make a person feel so special!  Not only do they have spectacular accommodations, but the small things add up to make you fee extra special during your stay!

Hotel Julien
The gorgeous lobby at the Hotel Julien Dubuque

The Hotel Julien Dubuque has been present in historic downtown Dubuque for over 130 years!  After a $33 million renovation, they are shining brighter than ever!  Between its historic attributes and modern finishes, the Hotel Julien Dubuque is the prime example of a sophisticated hotel!  Not many hotels can claim to be modern and historic, luxurious and comfortable, but yet the Hotel Julien does just that!

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Sweet & Creamy Strawberries – Keto Friendly 

I recently started eating Keto style and these Sweet & Creamy Strawberries are the perfect snack to satisfy my sweet tooth.  Most of you know that I have tried eating “clean”.  It didn’t work for me.  I can only eat so many stalks of celery before I need something of substance.  Several of my friends have adopted the Keto lifestyle and so after much research and talking wit them, I decided to give it a whirl!  Before I go any further, I want to say that I am not an expertise in Keto and not a professional, so before you decide to take on the lifestyle, please do research with those that are!

Finding What Works For Me

One aspect of Keo is high protein and high fat and very low carb.  I’ve actually come to discover that I love carbs, but they don’t love me.  I love cereal, muffins, and bread, but it makes me so bloated.  So, this diet has been great for me!  However, I’ve struggled to find low carb snacks to curb my sweet tooth!

We also have started a strawberry garden this year!  T has loved giving these “ladies” as he calls them extra attention and producing the sweet red berries for me to enjoy!  Next year I’ll have an abundance of strawberries and this will be the perfect way to use some!

strawberries
One of the many strawberries from our garden

Fruit is something I’ve always loved and love experimenting with recipes.  This yummy fruit recipe can be used as a side or a dessert!

Sweet & Creamy Strawberries - Keto Friendly
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 T Swerve
  • 1 t almond extract
  • 3 cups diced strawberries
Instructions
  1. Begin by whipping your cream until somewhat frothy
  2. Add the cream cheese, Swerve, and almond extract and mix thoroughly
  3. Fold the cream cheese mixture into your strawberries

Cooks Notes

  • Swerve is an all-natural sugar substitute.  Any natural (no calorie) sugar substitute will work for this recipe.  You may just have to adjust the amounts based on what you use.  You can also use real sugar if you aren’t worried about those calories!
  • Your whipping cream will not whip up into an actual cream.  You aren’t using enough (or in my case, didn’t have the patience) and that’s ok!  You just want to whip it until frothy!
  • Stir your strawberries real well before eating or serving.  They will put off a natural juice and you will see “water” or juice sitting in the bottom of the bowl!  This juice just helps to spread things around, it’s all good!

I love enjoying these Sweet & Creamy Strawberries for an evening snack!  They are perfect for satisfying my sweet tooth, but not getting me off track with my diet!  If you want something extra special, toss a few dark chocolate chips in with your strawberries! YUM!

Eating & Drinking in the Twin Cities

T and I were privileged during our recent trip to Roseville, MN to enjoy some great restaurants and a brewstilary!  For me, because I love food as much as I do, the food can make or break a trip for me and thankfully Roseville and St. Paul now have a special place in my heart because of the good good we ate!

Bonfire Wood Fire – 850 Grand Ave, St Paul, Minnesota

If you’re looking for a great place to grab a bite in the St. Paul area, Bonfire Wood Fire won’t disappoint!  It is located in a fun neighborhood and the first thing I noticed when we came upon Bonfire was it’s appearance.  I loved the look of the building from the outside with its fun and brightly lit sign along with the piano and drum set that were being set up for entertainment.  How can you not love music on the street?

Once we entered, their decor automatically got me!  I loved the combination of modern and rustic.  The finishes were top notch and extra special.

With a small, but varied menu, you won’t be disappointed!  Meals like the Spit-Roasted Chicken and the Signature Walleye are sure to please.  The rustic, but modern atmosphere just adds to the delicious meal for an overall great experience!

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Roseville, MN: Perfectly Positioned

Roseville, Minnesota boasts that it is Perfectly Positioned and after our (mine & T’s) trip recently, we’ve learned this to be very true.  It is 10 minutes from downtown St. Paul and 10 minutes from downtown Minneapolis!  How perfect is that?!  We had never heard of Roseville and we had no idea what they offered, but now we are ready to go back!!  Plus staying at the Courtyard by Marriott was super convenient, comfortable, and a great place to call “home” during our visit!

THAT Cooking School

Are you a “Chopped” fan like me?!  If so, then THAT Cooking School is for you!  THAT stands for Teaching, Heart, and Team Building.  This is a great place for taking your group (of any kind) for team building or if you have a new team and need to break the ice!  Heck, this would even be a fantastic place for a first date.  Not only do they challenge you to create together, work as a team, but also have fun!

Como Zoo & Conservatory – 

You will not be disappointed when you stop by the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, a free zoo!  They have a wide variety of animals including penguins, seals, giraffes, and gorillas and there is also a Conservatory with extensive gardens!  The entire facility is quite impressive with it’s beautifully landscape and natural looking grounds and I can’t wait to explore it more in-depth with the entire family!

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Courtyard by Marriott: Roseville – A Perfect Place to Stay

T and I recently had the privilege of staying at the Courtyard by Marriott in Roseville, MN for a long weekend!  I say privilege because this facility is top-notch and it was our honor to stay here!  We’ve started to travel and stay in hotels  more recently since we sold our camper. We have stayed at a variety of facilities and this was, by far, our best yet!

courtyard
Courtyard by Marriott: Roseville, MN

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The Minnesota State Fair: A Must

This was not my first visit to the Minnesota State Fair! In fact, it was actually my 3rd or 4th visit. I do however consider myself an expert in fairs! Not only was I involved with the Franklin County Fair in my hometown for more than 10 years, T and I love visiting different fairs and especially the Iowa State Fair!

So, what’s so great about the Minnesota State Fair?

Things To Do

You will not, I promise, run out of things to do at the MN State Fair!  The choices are endless!  If you have small children, we recommend heading to Math On A Stick!  Created as a way for kids and adults to both enjoy mathematical skills without actually doing equations, there are several stations that challenge kids to use their logical and creative brains at the same time!  The stations can change each day as well!  The day we visited, there was  a station that used balloons to create different shapes, etc.  Even the big guys found it entertaining!

The creator of Math On A Stick explaining the concept to us!

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Dubuque, IA: A Family Day Trip!

I’ve lived in Iowa my entire life and have never done anything, but drive through Dubuque, IA. Can you believe that?! Well, thankfully we solved that problem back in July and ended up having a fantastic family day trip!

In mid-June T and I determined that we were taking July 3rd off (it was a Monday) and spending the day with the boys!  Since selling our camper last summer (no time to camp), we promised them that we would do more weekend and daytrips and this seemed like the perfect opportunity!  So, after much research and debating, we settled on Dubuque area for the day.  We are so glad that we did!

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium was our first stop of the day!  The boys love aquariums and so that was the immediate draw for us.  We also love learning about the Mississippi, it’s history, etc. so it made complete sense.  The first highlight was the stingray exhibit where the boys could touch them!  Who doesn’t love hands-on activities?!  We found the history portion of the museum very intriguing as we learned about the natives that had inhabited the area.  And of course the boys (all three) were drawn to the Riverworks Splash Zone, which is an area with different experiments and interactive activities using water!

Next, we headed outside to enjoy the outside exhibits.  We liked walking through the old river ships and barges that explained the history of their purposes and the river!  We especially liked the Steamboat William M. Black.  Exploring this old steamboat that was used to dredge the river was quite fascinating!  Of course, we also liked the Mississippi River Discovery Center & Aquariums because of all the tanks of fish and river otters!  Before we left, the boys had to try their hand at the remote control boats too!

R & M playing with the remote control boats the the National River Museum & Aquarium.

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