The Big News


Do you know how much it costs to get something dry cleaned these days?


Well do you? A $h!tload, that’s how much!!! $70.37 for 2 suits, 2 pairs of pants, a dress and someone else’s sweater. For $70 I could BUY 2 suits, 2 pairs of pants, a dress and someone else’s sweater!


Yeah, along with robbing me blind, the cleaners also stuck someone else’s sweater in with my order for me to unknowingly pay for when I picked everything up this afternoon.


Thinking about keeping it…it’s from Ann Taylor and in my size… Whadd’ya think?


Juuuust kidding. I would never do that. Besides, animal print isn’t my thing. I much prefer black & gold, baby!!!


Oh yes, my beloved Iowa Hawkeyes (who are just screwing themselves right and left OFF the field) are taking on the Missouri Tigers at the Insight Bowl in Arizona tonight!

IMG_0068  IMG_0068

After such a disappointing season, I honestly have no idea how the game will turn out, so I’m crossing my fingers EXTRA hard…

IMG_0068 IMG_0068

and I whipped up a fun, football-inspired dinner of Twice Baked Potatoes to pump us up. Kind of looks like a football, right? Right?!


At any rate, this was twice baked potatoes TWO ways.


Russet for him…


Sweet for her!


All I did was scrub and prick the potatoes, then microwaved them until soft (I guess they should technically be called once nuked, once baked potatoes. Details.) While they were cooking, I got the filling ready!


In separate bowls for each potato I combined:

  • Shredded cheese
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Bacon
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper

Right about now you might be asking yourself, “how can she POSSIBLY call eating cheese, butter & bacon eating better after the holidays?!”

Well, I never said it was an exact science… ;) Plus eating well during the day, coupled with exercise, allows me to be a little adventurous with moderate amounts of luscious bacon and cheese for dinner.


Anyways, after the potatoes were cooked, I cut them in half lengthwise and scooped out the insides, leaving 1/8 inch flesh still inside the potato skin, then mashed the potatoes in with the filling.


Next, I filled the potatoes back up with the filling and popped them in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes!





I’ve never made a twice baked potato with a sweet potato before, but the sweet & savory combo was mouth watering.


The filling was super creamy, thanks to the butter and sour cream, while big chunks of salty bacon lent a fab texture. I could have eaten 14.


Do you know how hard it is to photograph orange things?


Ben topped his twice baked with potato chips, and called it Potato Three Ways. Fancy…! ;)

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FYI, I didn’t eat enough protein today so I was starving when I got home. Twice baked potato-making snacks included my kryptonite,


and a buttered bun. How good are buttered buns?! I grew up eating butter bread for a snack and I still adore it to this very day.


Thinking about trying to make my own butter this weekend. Ever tried it?

In big news…

Wellllllll today was the day I found out about the Breakstone Blogger Contest… After countless votes from my family, friends and you wonderful, wonderful, people, I…

didn’t win.

I KNOW!!!! I was sad for a minute. Then I remembered that the ladies I was up against have blogs three times the size of mine and I was glad to have even been competing in their company in the first place.

For the final time – thank you, thank you, thank you one and all for your votes. You are all so very sweet and I knew I could count on you for your support!

At least we’ll always have whoopie pies!!!

In other news…

I updated my dinner, appetizer & side dish, dessert, breakfast, how-to and workout pages! Added a big back-log of recipes, while taking off some outdated ones, and organized my workout page by treadmill and other cardio workouts.

Ahhh, organization! I would totally be a professional organizer if I didn’t get grossed out by piles of other people’s stuff!!

Ok, off to prep for the big game. Wish. Us. LUCK! :D


How about a nice round of Two Question Tuesday?

1. Do you prefer to cook using precise measurements or by adding a “little bit of this & that”?

2. Ever had any random jobs in your lifetime?

My answers:

1. I am literally unable to precisely follow a recipe when cooking. I think of recipes more as guidelines than hard & fast rules to follow!

2. I’ve had a million jobs including working at a dry cleaners (where I never screwed up an order! ;) ) grocery sacker, swim instructor, telemarketer (worst. job. ever.) barista (best. job. ever) and working in the juniors section of a department store. I wanted a job in gift wrapping, but they sucked me into working in juniors. Hours were terrible was commission was bomb! :D

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  1. Lauren 12.28.2010

    Wow, I haven’t been to the cleaners much but now I’m thinking to never go again. What a robbery!

    I made twice baked just the way you do. Sweet for me and russet for Toly. We are one in the same. ;)

    So sorry you didn’t win but you know we ALL think you should have! :)

  2. Miranda 12.28.2010

    1. I can’t follow a recipe, unless it’s baking, then I try to follow it fairly well. My favorite thing is to take a couple similar recipes and combine them, tonight I made a Tuscan white bean soup and used ideas from 3 different but similar recipes and it was amazing.

    2. I have had some random jobs, but not quite as many as you. Waitress was probably one of my more fun jobs, although I wouldn’t want to do it long term.

  3. Liz @ LBBakes 12.28.2010

    I thought you were going to tell us you were pregnant in your big news. :) Good luck tonight!

    • heather 12.28.2010

      LOL same here…i was like “why is she babbling about potatoes?!?! is it baby news?!?!?”

      • Becky 12.30.2010

        me three. with the way my friends and family are announcing babies left and right these days, i guess that’s just how my brain is working.

  4. How funny, my best friend’s blog’s tagline is “a little bit of this and that” :) LOVE the stuffed sweet potato…and yes, orange things are SO hard to photograph!

  5. Sara 12.28.2010

    WOWZA that’s pricey!!! At least you had some yummy sweet potato to ease the pain in your wallet ;-) har har

    1. I’m about 50/50 with recipe improv – sometimes I deviate, other times I stick to the recipe. My goal this year is to come up with something totally “original,” as in off the top of my head. I’m not sure it’s possible to make a 100% original recipe anymore!

    2. I haven’t had many jobs to begin with…only four! Bruster’s, a week long stint at my university’s bookstore, a work study job at the graphic design school and now I’m at the university library!

  6. Those twice baked potatoes look awesome. I’ve never thought to do that with a sweet potato before!!

  7. Jenn 12.28.2010

    We try to avoid the dry cleaners at all costs… my hubby wears jeans to work and I just don’t buy much that I can’t wash/iron myself. I did make an exception last month when my little girl threw up on my $200 wool peacoat, but that was a rare exception :)

    1.) If I’m entertaining or taking the dish somewhere, then I’ll follow a recipe. At home it’s ‘a little of this, a little of that’.

    2.) I waited tables at a retirement home in high school. What the job lacked in pay, it made up for with a few stories that will last a lifetime!

  8. My husband gets a lot of stuff dry cleaned, but LUCKILY his company pays for it! It’s outrageous.
    When baking, I like exact measurements. I’m getting better at just seeing a recipe as a guideline for other dishes.

    I have worked at McDonald’s, at a flower shop, at an insurance company, at my college, and at Starbucks. The insurance company was the most random. I just clicked a mouse all day making sure policies were properly scanned in the computer. Boring!

    Oh, I had a twice baked potato for the first time last month. A-mazing!

  9. Melissa 12.28.2010

    Well, all of us here think you should have won! I was literally panicking when I didn’t think I had voted! I even got out of bed one night to check because I was worrying about it! I know, I’m nuts. Anyway . . .

    I am bad with measuring for cooking. I like to just throw it in & hope for the best. :) I’m especially that way with spices & garlic. Usually it works in my favor!

    I wrote contracts for Gordon Food Service right out of college. Holy boring. But I got to go on lots of outings with sales reps to restaurants & eat good food from time to time, so I guess it could have been worse!

    (GO HAWKS!!! I went to Michigan, but have always rooted for the Hawkeyes otherwise for some random reason! Good luck!)

  10. Elly 12.28.2010

    I like to read a recipe and get the general feel of it and then improvise. Unless I’m baking…

    I’ve had a lot of jobs and I would say my current job is the most random. I’m a loan processor and if you would’ve told me when I graduated high school and started my college education that I would be working for a big bank processing loans, I would’ve told you to go fly a kite! My all time favorite job: serving up ice cream at my family’s ice cream shop! All summer long since I was 13!

  11. Kristin from MN 12.28.2010

    I tend to measure my ingredients pretty closely except like 1/4 tsp. and 1/8 tsp. I just “estimate” by dumping a little in my palm.
    My most random job EVER was working for a road construction company one summer – I drove packer or “pulled chain” which was measuring along the road how far the dump truck should dump their load. Crazy but fun and I got mucho dinero!

  12. Wendy 12.28.2010

    Guess we won’t be able to be friends tonight — GO TIGERS!!! :)

    1. I’m more science-y than artsy, so I like to follow recipes when I cook. I’ve always heard that baking is a science and cooking is an art, which would explain why I prefer baking.
    2. I used to be in charge of the baby calves for two large dairies (hundreds of calves on bottles at any given time). Not exactly random given my agricultural background, but it probably seems unusual to most people!

  13. dry cleaning makes me so angry. it’s so expensive! it drives me nuts that a men’s button-down is like half the price of a woman’s button-down… and, once i took a pair of dress pants to the dry cleaner, picked them up, and then moved, only to realize they ripped out the hem in one of the legs. i was so annoyed. :( such is life though!

    1) i’m 50/50 with following recipes & a little of this. baking i’m more precise; cooking i experiment.
    2) my 4 jobs (EVER): babysitting in JH/HS, camp counselor in college, intern with Campus Crusade for Christ for 2 yrs post college & now a part time job at my university library.

  14. Daisy 12.28.2010

    Bummer you didn’t win my friend. who won the $1,000?! (which voter?)

    1) Precise measurements. I know so many more people who do it your way. But I figure, why have a recipe if you aren’t going to follow it?! I know, I’m a strange blogger like that.
    2) Senior year of college, I worked at the calender club kiosk in the mall. And during Christmas time, we had the game kiosk too. freakin awesome. my bosses were stoners and

  15. Claire 12.28.2010

    I’m so sorry you didn’t win, Kristin! I thought for sure that you would! Thanks for always posting such great recipes… I sure do love them and get lots of inspiration from them and YOU! :)

  16. Eve P 12.28.2010

    1. Most of my favorite meals do not have recipes. They are just in my head.

    2. Waitress/Hostess (small town diner), Dining Center in the dorms, telemarketing, waitress (local Italian place), substitute teacher, waitress (chain pancake house-worst job ever), and for 10 years now for-real teacher (loving it).

  17. AmyLou 12.28.2010

    Aww, I’m sorry you didn’t win! We are rooting for the Hawks, too. . . hopefully they can pull it out tonight!!! Let’s end this season on a high note, even if the rest was sketchy and hot-and-cold!!

    1. I usually loosely follow a recipe. . . my hubby is extremely picky, so I usually have to modify based on his tastes, at least when I’m cooking. But if I’m baking, I try to stick to it pretty closely the first time i bake something, to be sure it’s done correctly. Then I may play a bit.

    2. Tons of random jobs: gas station attendant, department store clerk, high school speech judge, hospital gift shop clerk, office help, test scoring, costumed “marketer” (haha), bakery cookie decorator/clerk (awesome!!! YUMMY too!), and way too many more to name!

  18. So sorry you didn’t win!

    1. with cooking i just add things here and there, but with baking I’m more exact

    2. I was a cook in a little hippie restaurant one summer. Zero cooking skills, Zero legitimate pay system, Zero sanitation concerns. The place is closed now, but it was fun! And delicious!

  19. Too funny, over the holidays I seriously thought about making homemade butter for my Uncle as a gift (he LOVES butter haha) but ended up running out of time to make it :( If you do try it I can’t wait to see how it turns out – I’m still wanting to make it sometime soon too! :)

  20. Kim 12.28.2010

    I hope it is a great game tonight – let’s go black and gold;)
    M – I – Z…

  21. wendy 12.28.2010

    I like to make a recipe “by the rules” once, then play with it. And you totally should have won for the whoopie pies. They rock! I have made them already… twice actually :)

  22. J 12.28.2010

    Those potatoes look fantastic! Can’t wait to try them. I am also a Hawkeye fan and love your jersey. Where did you find it?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.02.2011


      Ben got it for me for Christmas at Scheels! They still have a ton – say them there the other day. :)

  23. Jessica Lee 12.28.2010

    My dry cleaning bill was over $300 for like 20 dresses and 10 pairs of pants. It’s okay – I thought it was well worth it cuz the pain of cleaning of that is worth it to me :)

  24. katielovespie 12.28.2010

    MMM now I want baked potatoes.

    I usually add “a little of this, oh wait, I’ll add some of this too!” to most recipes, even if I haven’t made them before :-) Unless I’m baking. I’m afraid of screwing things up then.

    Random Jobs, let’s see: I’ve worked in the local borough office answering phones, I’ve been a restaurant as hostess, I’ve offered samples at grocery stores and oh yeah! I work on a horse farm cleaning stalls. Quite a combo.

  25. Lesley 12.29.2010

    That’s too bad you didn’t win. :( Cheese & bacon make anything better?

    I don’t know why but Ben’s potato three ways makes me very happy. I think it makes me feel better about my affinity for dipping potato chips in potato salad. It’s potatotastic.

    I’m not very good at following a recipe exactly, which is probably why I can’t bake unless I’m being supervised. I have also worked at a dry cleaners and as a barista! The latter, I agree, is a great job. My most random (and dreadful) job though was as a shoe sorter for a department store….oh temping…I don’t miss it.

  26. Dream Mom 12.29.2010

    As for recipes, I am precise, most of the time. I do admit to adding an extra vegetable or two to something.

    Sorry you didn’t win.

  27. Mary Ann 12.29.2010

    Funny Ben with his potato chips! Did you eat the skin on the sweet potato? I don’t know if I’ve ever tried that. I do love sweet and savory though, thinking about trying your breakfast sandwich with french toast bread.

    Here’s a fun little tutorial for butter! I want to make it sometime, but haven’t gotten around to it.

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.02.2011

      usually do eat the sweet potato skin, but didn’t that night for whatever reason!

  28. Rachel 12.29.2010

    Bummer! :( Whenever I remembered to, I voted for you.

    I haven’t had twice-baked potatoes in years…I got a little burned out on them when my sister & I were living together after I was done with college. I should try them again.

    I haven’t really had that many jobs over the years…I’ve worked in a library, 2 different banks, McDonald’s, for my college alumni association (while still in college), but by far the most random job was one I did for work-study my freshman year. I was what’s known as a conversation partner, which was someone paired up with a foreign student. Basically you just spent a couple hours a week talking to each other (the idea was to help the foreign students better develop conversational English skills)…I only did it for one semester, because I stink at making small talk!

  29. Hope 12.29.2010

    Sometimes I use precise measurements. I try to put my own twist on recipes. Those twice baked potatoes look so good. I love sweet potatoes.

  30. lindsey michaud 12.29.2010

    Random but I’m pretty sure my grandma has that same photo of the kids building a snowman! (behind you in the Iowa hawkeye pic!) Is that an Iowa thing?

    I’d say it’s still December so keep on buttering and bacon-ing dinner :)

    Too bad about the challenge but way to get some recognition and hopefully more readers!

    1- I TRY to follow recipes exactly but often find myself short on this or that and try to modify.. it never works out in my favor :(

    2-I was also a barista–for several coffee shops, including the Bux. I’d say that was easily the nuttiest place to work and preferred smaller shops. I currently sit in an office downtown and am fine with that!

  31. Brittney 12.29.2010

    I can’t follow a recipe either, and my blog recipes are probably really annoying to read because I write my recipes kind of the way I cook, so it’s probably a little unclear what I’m doing and how much of things I’m using!

  32. Nicole (the other one) 12.29.2010

    Re: The Hawkeyes – Oh, boo-freaking-hoo…my entire team is suspended next year! On a positive note, your team might actually beat us next year :-) Go Buckeyes!

  33. Mimi 12.29.2010

    It’s always hard to put yourself out there for contests, but win or lose it’s always a good learning experience!

  34. Lexi 12.29.2010

    In middle school, we had a Prairie Unit where we learned about the ways of people living in the prairie which included a lot of random crafts but we also learned how to make butter. I even convinced my mom to buy cream so we could make it at home! We simply put the cream in a mason jar and shook it around ourselves until it became butter. It’s definitely time consuming but fun to see it change from cream to butter knowing that you are the one who turned it into butter.

    1. Not a measurer. I’m also not someone who will go out and a buy a certain spice for 1/4 tsp or something small like that.
    2. My first real job was detassling, which is very common for small town Iowans. I then quit detassling to work at the local college library putting bar codes inside the books when they were doing away with the whole take-your-book-to-the-front-desk-and-have-the-librarian-stamp-the-due-date-on-the-card-on-the-inside process. It was air-conditioned and I got better pay so I couldn’t complain!

  35. Jill 12.29.2010

    I’m sorry you didn’t win!

    On a positive note….how ’bout them HAWKEYES!?!

  36. Kacy 12.29.2010

    Dry cleaning kills me! I just dropped off 9 items yesterday and I’m terrified to see how much it’s going to cost. Ugh.
    LOVE twice baked sweet potatoes. I make mine with marscapone, sour cream, vanilla and an egg. It’s almost like dessert!

  37. Kacy 12.29.2010

    Oh and I wish I had known about that game! You guys won right? That’s awesome!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 01.02.2011

      You bet!! I fell asleep at half time so I had to find out the morning after :)

  38. Maggie 12.29.2010

    I love your blog. But I am an ISU alum ;). And I have seen the hawkeyes lose to the cyclones…and it was awesome. (Because we aren’t very good).

  39. if i’m using someone else’s recipe i usually add or detract a little this and a little that…just to suit my tastes :) and random jobs? i had a 2-month stint at coldstone creamery in college one summer…best and worst job i ever had, at the same time!

  40. AJ 12.29.2010

    I have to wear dress clothes to work, so I go to the dry cleaners quite a bit. I don’t think the price you got is too bad (comparable to other dry cleaners around town) for the amount you had cleaned. A dry cleaner accidentally gave someone else my clothes TWICE (two separate occasions), so I had to switch dry cleaners! I got my stuff back after a couple days, but still, GEEZ! It shouldn’t be that hard to keep people’s clothes organized!! Ugggghhhh, now you got me started!

    I follow recipes if it is the first time I have cooked something. Then usually I modify the recipe so it’s more to my liking if I ever make it again. I always follow recipes when baking, because in my experience, not following baking recipes = disaster.

    Oh, I’ve had all sorts of jobs. I spent an entire summer working for a “press clippings burea” – I literally cut clippings out of newspapers all day and filed the clippings. So to give an example of what we were hired to do, the governor would hire us to clip all stories about him out of the paper and send them to him. I got fired when they went to scanning all the articles and emailing them out. That is probably the most random thing I’ve done, but I do have quite a job history.

  41. Erika MC 12.29.2010

    Mmm sweet potatoes! I’m gonna have to try them twice baked. I never measure things if I’m just making it up as I go, but if I have a recipe in front of me I usually measure. I was a waitress for like two days – it sucked. Worked at a day care for maybe three days – not for me. Then I cleaned hotel rooms – talk about other people’s gross piles!

  42. Ashlee 12.29.2010

    1. If I am baking, I definitely try to stick to the recipe. Baking feels like more of a science. When I am cooking, I don’t think I ever follow the recipe perfectly!
    2. Let’s see, for jobs I’ve worked in retail, at a grocery store, a summer camp, a day care, and now I am a special education teacher the most rewarding of them all! :-)

  43. Julie S. 12.29.2010

    Bummer you didn’t win. :( We tried hard for you, though!

    I’m not a good enough cook to wing it so I need to follow the recipe most of the time. Every now & then I’ll incorporate something from another similar recipe. I am good at substituting healthy alternatives, though! I once came home & duplicated a dish from a restaurant – that was a big day!

    I was a waitress briefly! Worked in my dad’s jewelry store from the time I was 12 until I left for college. Worked in the Accounting help lab at college. Also helped an instructor grade papers. Oh yeah – also the layaway dept at K-Mart.

  44. Allison 12.29.2010

    The potatoes look delicious! I think I must try it! When I first started cooking I was addicted to directions. Probably because I started off baking. I am only now getting over my compulsiveness to follow directions exactly and experimenting more. So far so good, but always a bit worried dinner might have to be takeout. :)

  45. julie 12.29.2010

    Recipes are great guidelines, but I don’t really go by them very often. I usually tend to put 2x the amount of spices in any recipes, unless its garlic…then I put 3x as much in!

    My strangest job would probably be when I worked on a barge doing environmental cleanup. Its probably the best job I have ever had… I miss it!

  46. Carrie 12.29.2010

    Sorry you did not win the contest but you definitely put forth a great effort!! At least you were a top 3 finalist!! Feel good about that! (And keep up the great work on your blog, love it!!)

  47. […] the garlic fries probably canceled out that cancel out. We were going to make twice-baked potatoes but remembered we had a big bag of these in the freezer, and they totally made the meal. My warning […]

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