Welcome to Adventuring with Karen

Good morning! Here I am starting a new blogging adventure! I used to blog frequently when my children were small but as they have grown we have gotten busier and I have spent quite a bit of time driving places and not writing.

I am Karen. Mid forties, mom to two, wife to one, 3 pets, a Diet Coke habit, and a messy house. Most of the time I don’t ask to talk to the manager unless it is really necessary. And c’mon, if you are not asking for the manager are you really living?

Over the years I have thought a lot about what I would like to do with my life. I have taught college classes for 10 years but the college I was teaching at closed in Tennessee. I have been subbing for 5 years…always an adventure and I have just started my third year as an instructional coordinator for a non profit. I love to travel and to share my finds with my friends, friends who have said I should either be a tour guide or open a bakery. Well, my daughter thinks I should open a bakery. So here I am sharing our adventuring with you!

I am hoping to just basically share life with you. My family is in the Nashville area so many of the things I post will be about the general area. It is the “It City” at the moment. However, we do love to travel so I will share the weird and fun things we find along the way.

I hope you will enjoy adventuring along with me!

Adventures in Hiking: Charit Creek

Once again I have been lacking in the blogging department. Part of the reason for that is I have spent quite bit of time outside hiking the last few months. One of my goals for the year was to hike twice a month and I am meeting that goal!

Twin Arches

Back in June a friend of mine and I booked an overnight stay at Charit Creek Lodge near Pickett State Park in Tennessee. There are no motorized ways to get to the lodge so you have to hike or ride a horse. You might also be able to ride a non motorized bike as well but I am not sure. We got to the trailhead bright and early in the morning hoping to beat the heat and possible rain. The hike to the lodge is about a mile and a half so it didn’t take us a super long time to get there.

The camp hosts allowed us to drop off some of our stuff so our packs weren’t quite as heavy and we headed back out on the trail. We did the Twin Arches Loop which is about five miles. We made it back to the lodge after check in time but with plenty of time to shower and take in the absolute lack of technological sounds before being summoned to dinner with the dinner bell.

The lodge and some sights along the way

Dinner is served family style with all of the guests. We met a mom and her two boys, a father in law with his two son in laws, and a couple with their little girl. Everyone was super friendly and the food was really good. The camp has propane but no electricity. I did bring a portable phone charger so I could still use my phone to take pictures. After dinner the family started a fire and made smore’s and we all chatted until a huge storm blew in and chased us all inside. For as hot as it was outside the cabin was very comfortable.

This lodge is in the backwoods. When you enter the trail to the lodge there is a sign that says you are entering bear and venomous snake territory so be aware of your surroundings. Once our lights were out and my friend and I were on the verge of sleep a huge thump made us leap out of our beds. We finally realized that the barn cats must be jumping in and out of the lofts above us. But, those initial moments in half sleep made us think a bear was certainly going to get in!

In the morning we were once again summoned to the dining room for breakfast with everyone. We had appointments to get to so after breakfast, and purchasing t-shirts, stickers, and cookbooks from the gift shop, we hit the trail for home.


The hike out takes a bit longer than the hike in because you are headed up the whole time. Also, I am a pretty slow hiker and tend to take plenty of breaks to take photos and enjoy the surroundings. At one point my hiking buddy and I got separated (not far, just around a corner). I heard what I thought was my name and yelled back “I’m here”. I rounded the corner and she said “BEAR!” Thankfully the bear was up the hill and busy so it didn’t bother with us. It was very exciting but also a little nerve wracking and we hiked a whole lot faster to get to the top of the trail and back to the car.

Way back in college I did a Walkabout, 10 day backpacking trip, with the other student leaders. I lived in Yosemite and hiked a ton but this was my first time doing a hike in to a lodge. 10/10 would recommend and would do again! We saw quite a few critters but I am glad we didn’t add any venomous snakes to the list. Check out Charit Creek and let me know if you are going to hike in and stay there!

(BWD) French Riviera Lemon Tart

“This is tart in all the right ways” – my hubs

This week’s Tuesday’s with Dorie recipe is this amazing lemon tart. The crust came together easily. The lemon filling was quick. It chilled. We ate it. If you have ever made lemon bars that is what this tart made me think of. I think next time I make this (because this is begging to be made again) I may sprinkle some sugar on top and brulee it.

Something I would do differently: check to make sure I have the correct size fluted tart pan. Mine was too big so the crust, while still delicious, didn’t go all the way up the sides of the pan.

Some people made tarts, some made biscuits. Check out Tuesdays with Dorie to see how other bakers did this week!

TWD: BWD Cottage Cheese Biscuits

Here’s the thing, cottage cheese is one of the few foods on my “ick, never passing my lips” list. However, I figured that baking cottage cheese into biscuits would probably be ok. I was still skeptical when I could see the curds in the dough. Thankfully, I couldn’t see them when they came out of the oven.

I patted out the dough and just cut it into 8 pieces

I snagged one of these fluffy biscuits right off the baking sheet and added butter and some Bonne Maman Strawberry Verbena jam. The cottage cheese adds some tang but is not overwhelming.

I called my hubs and son in to try them and attempted to not tell them about the cottage cheese but alas, hubs wasn’t having it. So I told him about the dreaded ingredient which came with the expected ew face. After a few minutes he popped out of his office hole to say that the biscuits were delicious.


These were super easy to make. I think it was 30 minutes from getting ingredients out to pulling them out of the oven. That’s my kind of recipe!

Oh yeah, I made the Glenorchy Flapjacks but forgot to take pictures. I took them to school with me and they were devoured! So, win!

Check out Tuesdays with Dorie to see how other bakers fared this week. And check out Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking with Dorie” for more delicious recipes!

BWD Swirled, Spiced, Sour Cream Bundt Cake

I love Bundt cake. It is so easy to whip up and have a tasty treat for the family.

Snow showers ahead!

This week’s Baking with Dorie recipe came together easily. There were a few extra steps and a few extra ingredients but they were pantry staples so no extra trips to the grocery for this one.

I used toffee pieces instead of nuts and just finished off with powdered sugar instead of frosting. No one was patient enough to wait for the cake to cool completely so there were a few burned tongues on the swirl. But, that didn’t matter. This was a win all the way around!

My swirl is all at the top

Make sure to check out Tuesday’s with Dorie to see how bakers around the world liked this cake!

BWD: One Bite Cinnamon Puffs

It’s still Tuesday and I am actually getting a post done in the actual day for once!

One Bite Cinnamon Puffs

These little puffs were a sweet little treat. They were easy to whip up and had few ingredients. We like cinnamon a lot in our house so I upped it from half a teaspoon to three quarters. For my hubs it wasn’t quite enough. He wanted the cinnamon even more forward.

I make pop up pancakes fairly often and that was what these made me think of, only much smaller. I think these would be a fun little treat for a party.

If you would like to see how other bakers liked these check out this link.

A few of us got together over zoom this weekend and made Gougeres over zoom. It was so fun to see everyone’s faces and hear their voices!

Mokonuts’Rye-Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

As a bonus, I have also made World Peace Cookies ( which had freeze dried strawberries instead of raspberries and chocolate espresso bits instead of cocoa nibs) and Mokonuts’Rye-Cranberry Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I only baked half the recipe for the world Peace Cookies and think I will take the rest with me to the next event I go to.

World Peace Cookies

BWD: Stephanie’s Bakewell Tart

Stephanie’s Bakewell Tart

This week’s adventure in baking is a tart! But not just an ordinary tart, Stephanie’s Bakewell Tart. It has a tart shell crust (I cheated and used a store bought crust), a rounded cup of raspberry jam, and a almond flour cake top. The sliced almonds are optional and so is the glaze.

A few months ago Koegel came to my area. My mom asked me to go get her some hot dogs from there because they are her favorite. While I was in line I saw they had Amish made jam from Michigan. It happened to be the town my grandparents were from so when I saw that I almost burst into tears right there in the hot dog line. Was it from the Amish farm across the road from my grandparents? I don’t know, but I did know I wanted to use it for something special. Along came this tart and wa-lah.

We’ve already established that my hubs doesn’t like cooked fruit. I didn’t tell him anything about this tart except that it was from Baking with Dorie. I pulled it out of the oven and he said “that smells like cooked fruit”. Stinker.

I liked this tart, my son liked it. I took it to share with friends at dinner last night. If you would like to see how other bakers liked this tart check out Tuesdays with Dorie!

Baking with Dorie: Grain and Seed Muffins

Here we are at the beginning of a new year. The Christmas tree is down, everything is put away…wait, are those lights I see? Well, everything isn’t put away yet partially because we have all been sick for the last week. But, yesterday I was feeling better and feeling very motivated to get back in the kitchen.

Especially tasty with Bonne Maman jam from my advent calendar!

I was able to knock these Grain and Seed Muffins out quickly yesterday morning. I was very proud of myself and then realized I forgot the brown sugar. In my defense there are several ingredients I don’t normally have…and apparently I was still not thinking totally clearly. 😉 When my hub, drawn my the delicious aroma, came to the kitchen and asked me what kind they were I said “seed muffins” and waited to tell him they had cranberries until he was about to eat one. He commented that they were good but not very sweet which is when I admitted to the accidentally omitted brown sugar. They did also include maple syrup though so there was not a complete lack of sweetness.

I also made dough for two different kinds of cookies, roasted veggies for Butternut Squash Soup, and made Cheese Puffers to go with the soup but those are for another post.

In the meantime, check out the muffins baked by the other TWD bakers! If you’d like to bake along pick up Dorie’s “Baking with Dorie” cookbook!

Baking with Dorie: Apple Pandowdy

It has been a week of baking! I made this Apple Pandowdy a couple of nights ago for dessert. I loved it, but I love apple desserts. My son loved it. My hubs made a face. *Sigh* cooked fruit…. However, he liked the design on top a lot.

I know, not a pretty picture. Apple Pandowdy is a bottom crustless apple dessert with scraps of dough for the top. One person did beautiful fall leaves, others cut triangles. Clearly, I needed something to make my hubs take a second look. This did not cook down much and the apples stayed kind of firm which was lovely.

Last night I tuned in for the release of “Tell the Bees I’m Gone”, Diana Gabaldon’s newest book in the Outlander series. If you are a fan you know how very exciting this was! It was so fun to see the interview, hear an excerpt from the ebook, and see a cooking demo with Teresa Carle-Sanders, the author of Outlander Kitchen. Her demo was of Apple Pandowdy but it was spelled differently. She mentioned that it was rumored that Apple Pandowdy was a favorite of Abigail Adams. Teresa said Abigail would probably have used Newtown Pippin Apples to make her version. It was fun to see a different variation on the dessert I happened to be making for this week.

We bake the two Tuesdays a month from Everyday Dorie. Check out Tuesdays with Dorie for other baker’s take on this recipe!

I Run Like the Wind

Ok, I really don’t run like the wind at all but I did do the Nashville Rock and Roll 5K on a whim on Saturday.

That’s me. I ran/walked

Way back in 2013 I ran/walked the Half Marathon. For that one I trained with my neighborhood running group and completed it in three hours and twenty minutes. I was going for three hours but it rained the entire time, was 40 degrees, and about mile ten my calves cramped like they never had before. By the end of it I had an injury to my foot and decided I was never running again. Well, time went by, the injury healed, and I started walking again. I am really consistent for awhile and then drop off. For two summers, including the year which must not be named(2020), I did water aerobics with the best neighborhood ladies around. We all talked about getting together to walk and do indoor exercise but that has, unfortunately, not been able to happen.

In August of 2020 virtual runs/walks started popping up in my social media feed and the one that caught my attention was the Music City Rock and Roll 32 mile virtual run. I needed to complete 32 miles in the month of August. I would get a medal, a t-shirt, a hat, and a lovely mask, so I signed up. Then I signed up for the Nashville Sounds virtual race, Gordy’s Pumpkin Run, the Ostomy 5k Awareness run, and the 2020 Dumpster Fire 20 miles in 20 days race. My sister also convinced me and several friends to sign up for the Oregon Trail Challenge where we shared the miles to complete the challenge.

At some point during this time I injured my shoulder. I remember feeling a distinctive pop while cleaning my shower and could barely lift my arm. I suffered with it for awhile and finally went to an orthopedic doctor to get it checked out. Now, I am not a small woman…I am a short woman but not small. The first thing out of that doctors mouth was “Are you diabetic? You probably have frozen shoulder because that happens to diabetics a lot.” I was stunned that he didn’t ask about anything else like exercise, activities I may have done to injure my shoulder, nothing. I informed him that I had just had bloodwork done at my regular doctor and that I wasn’t diabetic, not even prediabetic. He offered a shot in my shoulder or if I wanted I could go get an MRI but he didn’t seem to think I needed to go that route. He didn’t even listen when I told him where it hurt and injected my shoulder on the opposite side. Insert *huge* eyeroll here as it is extremely frustrating when doctors refuse to treat you, or hear you when you are not the ideal body shape. All that to say I was still exercising during this time.

Then November 2020 hit…dun, dun, dun…… and I got covid. My husband got it first, my son and I started showing symptoms two days after hubs. It lasted about a week for us, we all quarantined the fourteen days. My daughter stayed with my parents and we ate Thanksgiving dinner together via zoom. All three of us lost taste and smell. Hubs despises vinegar so when he was able to stick his nose right next to the bottle he knew he had lost smell. I was eating nachos and I thought I just got an extremely salty bag of tortilla chips but alas that was me losing my senses. Both of the boys got over it and were completely fine. I regained my sense of smell quickly however, for months, I could smell smoke. I thought I was going crazy! I finally found a group on social media dedicated to phantosomia and realized I wasn’t alone. Of all the smells smoke is the worst to me! Thankfully over the last few months that has petered out.

After all of that I once again fell of the consistent exercise bandwagon. While not consistent when I do go walk, I walk at least a mile – three miles. I have done more virtual 5k’s with my family. The last month I have been trying to get out more and have added in some YouTube videos as well.

Nashville before the crack of dawn from the pedestrian bridge

This all leads to this weekend. A sweet college kiddo that is here from California texted and asked if I could give him a ride to the race on Saturday. I was downtown with my parents Friday and thought since I was going to be there Saturday anyway I should sign up and do the race as well. So, I did. The kiddo that I took to the race completed the 5k in about twenty minutes. I was so thankful he walked a little way back to cheer me on. My mile lately has been about 18 minutes so I was pleased to finish in 53:15. 16:53 a minutes. Being in an actual race with the excitement, the bands, the people cheering us on was so fun! So, all that to say I don’t really run but I do walk kind of fast. Also, I am still paying for running a part of it today. Alas, I am not out there to win but to finish. If you get a chance get out and sign up for a race. Perhaps I’ll see you out there next time!

Every Day Dorie: Chicken and Winter Squash Tangine

I realize, often, as I am writing these posts that I should cook earlier than the night before. That said, last night I made this recipe and took photos in the dark.

I used chicken thighs, didn’t brown them enough because I got impatient, and then didn’t think they would fit in the pan. A tagine is actually an earthenware type of pot that you cook the food in. I just looked them up and realized I could have purchased one at World Market the other day. Dorie suggests a Dutch oven if you don’t have a Tangine. I actually used my huge skillet and it was still a tight fit. But, it was shallower than a Dutch oven and I think that worked in my favor.

The chicken and acorn squash simmered for about 45 minutes and turned out, fall off the bone, tender. My hubs said it tasted fancy, in a good way. There were bright notes from the lemon, along with the deep flavor from the Garam Marsala. Since there are only three of us at home at the moment, and I made twelve thighs, the plan is to shred the rest of the chicken and mix it with some penne and lemon.

This was pretty easy, but did take a couple of hours to make. I think I would definitely make it again though!

Make sure to check out Cook the Books Fridays to see how other chefs liked this!

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