Wine Wednesday: Kokomo Winery Grenache Rose’

Spring is in the air in my Midwestern corn field and I’m breaking out my favorite style of wine, Rose’s!!

Anyone who stops by our farmhouse will be offered a dry pink wine.  I always have a few bottles in the wine rack and if I get close to running out, I’m quick to stock up on more!

One of my favorite wineries is Kokomo Winery.  Their newly released 2015 Grenache Rose’ is fantastic.  As a member of their wine club, I was able to purchase a case of this wine!


Wine Wednesday: Kokomo Winery Grenache Rose'

Erik Miller is one of the owners of Kokomo Winery, located in Healdsburg, California.  Erik grew up in Kokomo, Indiana and graduated from Purdue University.  He took his Midwestern values and headed west, for wine country.  The Farmer and I had the pleasure of visiting the winery a few years ago and it was a super great time.  You walk in to a very laid back atmosphere, surrounded by wine barrels and a wooden tasting bar.  Erik gave The Farmer and I a great “back room” barrel tasting.  Side disclosure, I know Erik and he is one of the greatest guys that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in the wine industry.  I’m not sure everyone gets a barrel tasting like we did, but I guarantee everyone gets fantastic service at the bar.

Kokomo’s website describes the wine as such, “After harvesting at 22 brix and a whole berry press, we maintained a cool fermentation in stainless steel, which allowed us to retain the fruit’s natural character.  The subtle hue and aromas of watermelon and strawberry introduce the senses to this wine.  Melon, peach and strawberry juice explode on the palate with hints of minerality, vibrant acidity, and a long mouth-watering finish.”

I can definitely smell and taste the watermelon and berry flavors.  This wine is perfect with an outdoor swing and a patio to relax!  At just $24 a bottle, you can afford to buy a few bottles to enjoy!

What is your favorite spring wine?  I’d love to hear what you want to drink when the weather gets warmer!


Easy Beef Stroganoff

Winter sports and school activities create very crazy week nights in our house.  After practices, my girls need protein to fill them up.  And while they love meat, they love pasta as well.  Beef Stroganoff is one of the most popular meals I make and one of the easiest!

The most time-consuming part of this meal is just cutting up your meat and onions.  If you don’t like cutting onions, you can always buy a bag of frozen onions and use that instead.

I heated up my pan and threw in the beef to brown.  I actually browned it in two batches so it would cook faster.

beef 1

After the meat was brown, I removed it from the pan and browned mushrooms and my chopped up onions.

I added 2 cups of beef broth and let it simmer for a few minutes.

To thicken the sauce, you need to make a slurry.  All that means is you take water and cornstarch or flour, in a separate bowl, and mix.  Then add that mixture to your sauce.  Mixing the slurry separately prevents the cornstarch or flour from forming lumps when you add it to hot liquid.

Once your sauce is thick, add sour cream and stir.  Add back the beef and serve over hot cooked noodles!

It’s the perfect dish.  Protein and pasta to keep everyone happy!

beef 3


Easy Beef Stroganoff
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
A delicious, easy school night meal!
  • 1 pound cubed sirloin steak
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • ½ whole onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces, sliced button mushrooms
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch or flour
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • cooked egg noodles
  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet and add half of the meat to the pan. Brown for 2-3 minutes. Remove the first batch to a bowl and cook the rest of the meat. Remove and set all the meat aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pan and add the onion and mushrooms. Cook until brown, roughly 4-5 minutes. Add 2 cups of beef stock. Stir, scrape the bottom of the pan, and Cook to reduce the liquid by about a third.
  3. In a separate bowl, make a slurry by mixing ¼ cup of water and the cornstarch/ or flour with a fork. Pour the slurry into the skillet and cook until the sauce thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the sour cream and beef and stir over low heat until the mixture is hot. Serve with cooked egg noodles.

Easy Beef Stroganoff

beef 4

Wine Wednesday: Joseph Carr 2013 Chardonnay

I am not ashamed to say I’m a fan of Chardonnay.  “Real” wine drinkers, AKA wine snobs, will often say they won’t drink Chardonnay.  And I’m not exactly sure why?  There are some chardonnnay’s that are very heavily oaked and too buttery.  That heavy oak comes from aging in oak barrels.  You can tell that by the way your tongue feels after you drink a glass of wine.  It will feel like you want to wipe your tongue off!

The buttery taste and weight comes from a process called malolactic conversion, which involves the transformation of malic acid into lactic acid. While malic acid is tart, lactic acid is mild. After malolactic conversion, the wine feels creamy butter in your mouth.

While I don’t drink a ton of heavily oaked chardonnay’s, I do enjoy those that are a lighter style or aged in stainless steel tanks.

I picked up a bottle of Joseph Carr 2013 Chardonnay at my local wine retailer.  I thought the label was pretty.  Let’s be honest, we buy with our eyes first, especially if you are in a store and can’t try the wine.  So nice labels count for alot.

Joseph Carr Chardonnay

This was was roughly $17.  And it was so good!  I smelled vanilla, peaches and apricots when I took my first sniff.  My first drink tasted citrusy, lemony, and had a touch of vanilla.  It almost at a light creme brûlée taste.  It wasn’t buttery or heavily oaked.  To me, it was a nice balance of citrus and creamy.  I drank 2 glasses of this after the kids went to bed!  I could have consumed the whole bottle, but getting up for my workout and my workday the next morning would have been a bit painful.

What is your favorite Chardonnay?  Leave me a note and let me know if you have a go-to Chardonnay.  Cheers!


Mexican Crockpot Chicken Chili

I love chili.  Chili with beans, no beans, white chili, spicy chili and mild chili.  And I love this Mexican Chicken Chili.  It’s a staple in our house and something that is usually in the freezer for a quick crockpot meal.

chili 2

Mexican Crockpot Chicken Chili

And while this tastes amazing, it looks disgusting!  I will be the first to admit this soup does not photograph well.  But please believe me when I say it is good!  Just cover the soup in sour cream and cheese and you’ll never know if looks so ugly!

chili collage

Mexican Crockpot Chicken Chili

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mexican Chicken Chili
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into chunks
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 15-oz cans stewed tomatoes
  • 15 oz can of cannellini beans
  • 2 15-oz cans of black beans
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 10 ounce bag frozen corn
  • Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream
  1. Drain liquid from all cans of beans.
  2. Put all ingredients in a crockpot.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. Serve with cheddar cheese and sour cream.


What Wine Should You Drink on Valentine’s Day?

Rosé wine is super fashionable right now.  It’s no longer about the syrupy sweet, not very good boxed wine that we think of when someone says “pink wine.”  This isn’t White Zinfandel.  However, if you love White Zin then please drink it! I always tell people to drink what they like, I’m just offering my suggestions.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to break out a dry rosé  for your before, during or after dinner drinking pleasure.  And I have a few suggestions I recently enjoyed.

Holman Ranch is a California-based winery whose wine I truly enjoy!  While I reviewed this wine a few years ago, if you can find a bottle of their rosé, I encourage you to buy it. They don’t have any of this in stock right now, but I bet this lovely wine will be available again this summer.  And buy all of their wines.  I’ve never had a bad wine from this great winery.

holman ranch

Pink Wine's for Valentine's Day

If you’ve been around any length of time, you know I spent the past 11 years serving as Marketing Director of my state’s wine industry.  And if you were to ask me my favorite wine, while I had that job, I would have answered that I love everything!!  Because I couldn’t pick a favorite!  However, I recently took a new job and can now proclaim that there are a few Indiana wines that I will almost always reach for.  (But I still think we make a wide array of fantastic wine in Indiana!)

Huber Orchard, Winery & Vineyards makes a fantastic dry rosé from grapes grown in Southern Indiana.  Called Stella, this wine can be found in my glass anytime of year.  This smells and tastes of raspberries, strawberries and black cherries.  The color is outstanding!  It’s a deep red, dry rosé.  And it’s easy to drink a few glasses of this with dinner.  It’s $18 a bottle, but if you buy a case, they’ll give you a discount.


On the complete opposite in color scale is Sacha Lichine 2014 Dry Rosé.

sacha lichine

This wine is a blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah grapes.  The wine has a light pink color and smells like strawberries.  This wine is dry and cost me $10 at my local grocery store.

My last wine is another great buy, although I can’t recall where I purchased it!  I know I spent less than $15  on the bottle.  Chateau Suau Bordeaux Rosé smells and tastes like strawberries and raspberries.  This is a lovely wine for the middle of summer, or with your date on Valentine’s!

chateau suau

Dry rosé wines can be paired with a variety of cheeses and foods.  While some cheeses pair better with a white or red wine, a wide variety of cheese can pair well with a dry rosé.  If you are planning a fancy Valentine’s Day dinner, make some lobster and serve with a dry rosé!  Be sure the wine has a slight chill.  I usually recommend to take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before you want to drink it.  I rarely do that, but it does get the wine to the correct temperature.

Whatever wine you enjoy for Valentine’s Day, I hope you give a rosé a try!


pink wine

Pink Wine's for Valentine's Day


Easy, No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola

A few weeks ago I bought a bag of granola.  I was looking for a healthy, after-school but before sports practice snack for Alexandra.  She is often starving when school gets out and I’ve had her keep a jar of peanut butter in her backpack.  And a spoon.  If she’s famished, she knows to eat a spoonful of peanut butter!

But I figured I could do better for her.  Hence the granola purchase.  The granola tasted like birdfood.  It looked like birdfood.  And she didn’t want to eat.  Heck, I didn’t either.

I decided to make granola with her favorite ingredients, peanut butter and chocolate.


This recipe couldn’t be any easier.  Plus you likely have the ingrediants on hand.  I can’t promise this in incredibly low in calories.  But I’m feeding an athlete.  A kid who plays 4 sports, works on the farm and burns a tremendous amount of calories everyday.  She needs fuel in her body!  I love this granola too, I just eat a little less of it than she does. Now I can wrap a few bars for her sports bag or crumble it to eat on yogurt or with a spoon.  This provides a ton of protein to get her through long practices and all of those dreaded wind sprints, “suicides,” and running up and down bleachers!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy, No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 32 bars
An easy snack to eat on the go!
  • 1½ cups peanut butter
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 5 cups old fashioned oatmeal
  • a bag of miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Could also use raisins, cranberries, nuts, sunflower seeds or other additions to your preference
  1. Put peanut butter and butter in a large bowl.
  2. Melt in microwave
  3. Add honey and stir
  4. Add oatmeal and stir until everything is coated
  5. Add chocolate chips and/or additional ingredients
  6. Spread on a foil lined, 9x13 cookie sheet.
  7. Refrigerate until it hardens
  8. Can be cut into bars or crumbled






Hearty, Healthy Beef Stew

With colder weather upon us, there is nothing I like better than a big bowl of comforting soup when the chill sets in.  This Hearty Beef Stew does just the trick to warm you to the bones, while remaining lower in calories and full of vegetables and lean beef.

Thanks to my friend Lana from Walking the off-beaten Path, we have a freezer full of beef.  I bought a cow from her last spring and had it butchered.  This chuck roast was one cut we had from that cow.  I cut it into chunks and browned it in a big deep pot.

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After the meat was brown, I took it out of the pot and browned two sliced onions.

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I added some flour and spices to the onions and mixed.  Then I poured in beef broth, dry red wine, water and the beef.  It simmered for an hour and smelled so good!

After an hour, I cut up some yellow potatoes, carrots, red bell peppers, spices and more water.  Then it returned to a slow simmer for another hour.

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After another hour simmering, it was ready to eat!  Everyone in my house loved the and I was full after just one bowl!

beef stew


I tried to figure how many calories this dish contains.  I estimate 400 calories and about 15 grams of fat per one cup serving.  Enjoy!!

Hearty Beef Stew


Hearty Beef Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 servings
  • 3 pound chuck roast, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tsp salt and pepper
  • olive oil to cover bottom of an to brown beef
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 TBSP flour
  • 2 TBSP paprika
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 lb. yellow potatoes
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 3 red bell peppers, sliced
  1. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large pot. Add ½ beef to pan and brown for 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining beef.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add onions to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Add flour, paprika, caraway seeds and garlic. Cook 1 minutes, stirring entire time. Add wine and cook 2 minutes or until thick.
  4. Add 2 cups water, stock and beef to the pot. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour.
  5. Stir in potatoes, carrots, peppers and reaming 2 cups of water. Simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes or until meat and vegetables and tender.
  6. Add remaining salt and pepper to taste.




Resuming my Healthy Fencerows

I haven’t updated this blog in two months.  It wasn’t that I fell off my #healthyfencerows lifestyle at first.  It had more to do with accepting a new job, trying to wrap up details at my old job, various board meetings for groups I serve on, Thanksgiving and Christmas and finishing my 100 day workout challenge.

You read that correctly, I finished working out for 100 days in a row!  It was a bit less dramatic than I assumed. I figured i would finish the workout and feel like a million bucks, be skinny, fit in all my “back of the closet” clothes, and be bouncing off the walls with energy.  Instead, I felt rushed, I’m down a dress size but don’t see a huge difference, and I’m tired all of the time.

So I took a picture.  I hate pictures.  But I needed to see if there was a difference.  Everyone assured me that the picture on the left, taken at my Grandpa’s funeral at the end of July, looks different from the picture on the right, taken at the beginning of December.


I guess the pictures should look different.  There’s a 37 pound difference between the two photos.

I don’t make resolutions.  But I am going to start my 100 days in a row journey again.  I need the feeling of accomplishment to cross of workout days on a calendar. And I have a friend who said I inspired her to get to the gym.  She’s inspiring me to get my rear back in gear and I’m using her as my accountability partner.

I expect the next two weeks at the gym will be crazy.  And I will be working out even earlier than before.  I start my new job on January 4th.  I’ll be working out even earlier in the morning to allow me to get cleaned up and headed to the office in a timely manner.  Somehow I’ll have to get to bed earlier each night to be up at 4am and in the gym.

So here I go again!  Do you want to join me?  I’ll be following this program again,  It worked the first time for me so I’m excited to do it again!

See you in 100 days!  Hopefully you’ll see less of me.


My Hand in a Bag of Chocolate Chips

Today was my monthly weigh-in.  The day to drag the dreaded scale, strip down naked, hold my breath and gingerly step on the horrible machine.

I knew I wouldn’t have a 20 pound loss like I did in my first month of weight loss efforts.  I was hoping for a 10 pound loss.  So when the scale showed a total loss of 7 pounds for the month, I was disappointed.  Everyone keeps telling me that weight loss should be slow.  I hate that advise.  I have so many pounds to lose, rolls I’d like to disappear and dimples that aren’t in my cheeks that need to vacate my body.

This day wasn’t my best day ever.  I have one with strep throat.  So she couldn’t go to school and I stayed home for work with her.  I have so much work that I was divided between her needing me and my job needing my attention!  My breakfast choices were great, but as the day went on, I found myself taking dips and snacks whenever I walked through the kitchen.  And when I found my hand in a bag of chocolate chips, I reached out to a friend so she could tell me to stop!  And she did!

So at the end of the day, I needed to go to the gym.  And at 8pm on a Friday night, this is what I was greeted with.


My gym was empty. I had the entire place to myself.  It’s nice to work out on whatever machine I want to use.  But eerily quiet as well!

One of the pieces of equipment I like using is this Bosu Ball.  It’s horrible if you don’t have any balance.  But I like using it.

Bosu ball

My favorite way to use this is to flip it over so the round part is on the floor.  Then you stand on the flat part, feet as far apart as possible, grab a weight in both hands and do squats.  It may sound easy, but remember you are balancing on a squishy ball thing and trying not fall off!

All of the squats, combined with my other weight lifting and running efforts, have led to a total of 27 pound weight loss.  I’ve also lost 19 inches.  Yet, I look in the mirror and I don’t see any differences.  The inches have come off in weird spots.  Like my neck.  I never knew my neck was fat!  Yet, I’ve lost 2 inches from my neck.


I’m not sure what the lesson from this months weight loss efforts are.  So many challenges and self-doubt keep racking my brain.  I keep saying this isn’t a diet, but a change in lifestyle.  But I want the scale to move quickly.  So I’ll keep trudging along and hopefully reach my weight loss goal by 2025.  Or maybe, if I’m lucky, just a few years sooner.  There’s a cute bikini waiting for me to try on again.



Weight Loss Frustrations

I have been on a weight loss journey for 48 days.  The first 30 days were incredible.  The weight moved down at a rapid pace.  Then it all stopped.  And I’m struggling.

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I’ve lost 22.4 pounds.  Yet, two weeks ago I had lost 22.4 pounds.  Then last week I gained a pound.  I thought about beating my scale with a hammer.  Instead I put on the workout clothes and went for a run. This week the kids and I went camping.  And I didn’t follow the best eating plans. But I did workout everyday!  When I stepped on the scale I expected a big loss to make up for last weeks gain.  Yet it only showed a one pound loss, taking me back to where I started two weeks ago.

And there was more frustration.  Again, my answer was to lace up the shoes and hit the weight racks at the gym.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the giant gym mirrors.  I’m not impressed.  The is nothing good to look at.  I’m still jiggly thighs, big boobs, sweaty hair and big calves.  While I feel better, I don’t look better.  I need to lose 100 pounds.  And when the scale is now barely moving, this feels like it will take forever.

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This quote hangs on the wall of my gym.  I’ve finally quit making excuses.  I’m the only one responsible for my health.  It’s not up to anyone else to get me healthy.

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So I go to the gym.  And I lift heavy weights.  And I sweat, jiggle and still try to smile.  I try to remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.  I have 37 days left in my 12 weeks challenge.  I’ve done something I never thought I could do, work out for 48 days in a row.  No excuses.  Just one foot in front of the other.