Tyson and Billy Architects

Hearty Meatball Stew


A Lori tried, true, and approved recipe … delicious stew!

Lori Comments: "VERY good and healthy".



Total Time ~ 1 hr 10 min
Prep ~ 30 min
Cook ~40 min




  • 1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
  • 8 ounces 20-percent-fat ground beef (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 sweet mild Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Hearty Meatball Stew:

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound large white mushrooms, quartered
  • One 8 to 10-ounce russet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/3-inch slices
  • 4 ounces green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth


For the meatballs: Place the bread and 3 tablespoons water into a medium bowl. Mash to a paste with a spatula. Add the beef, sausage, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Blend the mixture thoroughly with your hands or a flexible spatula. Form the mixture into 10 to 16 meatballs. Arrange the meatballs on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet until ready to use.

For the hearty meatball stew: Sprinkle the meatballs with the flour and turn to coat with any flour still on the foil. Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Drop the meatballs into the skillet, spaced apart. Cook until the bottoms are set and brown, about 2 minutes. Using a flexible thin spatula, turn each meatball onto an uncooked side and cook until the bottoms are set and brown, about 2 minutes longer. Turn and cook a third side, until set and brown, about another 2 minutes, so the meatballs are browned and set all over. Transfer the meatballs to a large plate.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook until soft, 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, beans, tomatoes, red pepper flakes and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the potatoes are tender and the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

~ Lori

Original Recipe for Hearty Meatball Stew from Giada De Laurentiis via Food Network.

Image from Back to the Cutting Board


Fat Free & Sugar Free Brownies


By special request I came up with a fat free / reduced or sugar free recipe for brownies.  For those of you who’ve made a resolution to eat healthier or are perhaps a diabetic, here’s the recipe you don’t have to feel guilty eating.

Although I don’t recommend eating the whole pan of brownies at once.  One word I’m trying hard to adopt when it comes to food is “MODERATION”.

While we are faced with making choices every day… this one’s a hard one for me, but I’m trying, and to me, that’s what counts.  Try out the recipe and let me know what you think.

Fat Free / Reduced Sugar or Sugar Free Brownies

Preheat oven to 350° (325° if baking with sugar substitute) and lightly greasing your baking pan with a light coconut oil spray or calorie-free vegetable oil spray.

Assemble the following ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 very ripe bananas (or ½ cup unsweetened apple sauce)
  • ½ cup sugar substitute (I like Truvia® the best) (or split ¼ cup sugar & ¼ cup Truvia® for best results – See special tips for baking with Truvia® -
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup chopped nuts

To make:

Combine the cocoa, oil, and bananas in a mixer or blender and puree until smooth.  You can also blend by hand, if needed.  In a separate bowl, mix the sugar substitute, eggs, flour, and the banana puree.  Blend this and then stir in the chopped nuts.

Pour the batter into your lightly greased 9x13 inch pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes.  One way to see if the brownies are done is to insert a toothpick into them.  If they are done, the toothpick will come out clean.  When the brownies are cool, cut them into small squares.  If you want delicious, warm brownies, cut them with a plastic knife using sawing motions.

Making your own diabetic brownies is as easy as making a batch of regular brownies from a mix, and they are certainly healthier for you and your family.  One caution: Sometimes, when we’re eating healthier foods, we tend to let our sense of portion control go.  Don’t!  Too much of a good thing is just too much.  For this recipe, cut the brownies into 24 or 48 squares.  If cut into 24 squares, each brownie will have 115 calories, 2 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fat, and 104 milligrams of sodium.

  • Cooler oven: Baking with Truvia® natural sweetener often requires using lower temperature than sugar based recipes. Lower the oven temperature by about 25 to 50 degrees F and increase baking time by 5-10 minutes.
  • Replacing sugar in baked goods: The most difficult recipes to replace sugar in are baked goods like cookies, cakes, muffins and brownies. Sugar contributes a lot of functionality to baked goods beyond sweetness - like structure, tenderness, spread and browning. For best results, leave about 1/4 cup sugar in your favorite recipe and replace the remainder with appropriate amount of Truvia® natural sweetener from the conversion chart on www.truvia.com. Use brown sugar for more chewy and moist baked goods.
  • Fudgy brownies: If you bake brownies a little shorter, you get a more fudgy brownie. If it's baked a little longer, it will have a more cakey texture.


~ Lori


Fort Madison, Iowa

Our team is currently road tripping to Iowa dodging snowstorms and icy roads to check in on our projects. Although field reports in early January are far from glamorous, our mild winter has been a boon for construction and not all together dismal for field visits.

That being said, I sit at my desk and the guys bring me back pictures to create our blog posts with. I'm not the one with frozen toes on a mission to bring back pictures to quell my demands for blog content.

Thaddeus was kind enough to gear up and visit Fort Madison's historic sites and bring back wonderful pictures.

A very brief history on Fort Madison:

Fort Madison was established as a military post along the Mississippi River built in 1808 and survived until intentional destruction in 1813. It was named for President James Madison and occupied during the war of 1812.

Originally built by the U.S. Army to control the recently acquired Louisiana Purchase territories and trade with the Native Americans in the Upper Mississippi River region. It is known as the site of Blackhawk’s first battle with U.S. Troops.

As of 1804 the U.S. had control over western Illinois and parts of what is now Iowa due to a disputed 1804 treaty with the Sauk and affiliated tribes. The U.S. Army saw the need to post a fort along the Mississippi and monitor the major trading route into the interior of Iowa.


Wikipedia ~ Artists rendering of Fort Madison

The original Fort was poorly placed as it was constructed next to a deep ravine and the base of a bluff providing a safe location for forces opposing the Fort to reign destruction upon them from above.

Black Hawk lamented over the new fort, and disparaged its construction in his autobiography:

On our arrival we found that they were building a fort. The soldiers were busily engaged in cutting timber, and I observed that they took their arms with them when they went to the woods. The whole party acted as they would do in an enemy's country. The chiefs held a council with the officers, or head men of the party, which I did not attend, but understood from them that the war chief had said that they were building homes for a trader who was coming there to live, and would sell us goods very cheap, and that the soldiers were to remain to keep him company. We were pleased at this information ad hoped that it was all true, but we were not so credulous as to believe that all these buildings were intended merely for the accommodation of a trader. Being distrustful of their intentions, we were anxious for them to leave off building and go back down the river.

—Black Hawk, Autobiography (1882)

Given the deception evident in Black Hawk's account, almost from the beginning the Fort was attacked by the Sauk.

Efforts to increase the Fort's defenses proved futile to the geographical advantage of those attacking it.

The War of 1812 fueled the British-allied Sauk and other tribes to began a determined effort to push out the Americans and reclaim control of the upper Mississippi.

Beginning in July 1813, attacks on troops outside the Fort led to a siege with conditions so dangerous that the bodies of soldiers killed outside the Fort could not be recovered, and troops could not leave the Fort. Outbuildings were intentionally burned by the Army to prevent them from falling into Indian hands.

It is believed that in September of 1813 after weeks of this paralyzing siege, the Army finally abandoned the post, burning it as they evacuated.

Black Hawk observed the ruins soon after. “We started in canoes, and descended the Mississippi, until we arrived near the place where Fort Madison had stood. It had been abandoned and burned by the whites, and nothing remained but the chimneys. We were pleased to see that the white people had retired from the country.”

—Black Hawk, Autobiography (1882)

What can be visited today as the Historical Fort Madison was constructed in 1983 on the historical "site", but wisely relocated farther away from the bluff and ravine.

Fort Madison is charmingly centered between the Mississippi River and their historic downtown.

Within sightline of the Fort is the Fort Madison Toll Bridge. The last remaining and world's largest double swing-span bridge on the Mississippi River containing a top level for cars and a bottom level for trains.

(Pictured below, background right. )

70+ trains per day to cross the Mississippi, as well as opening over 2000 times per year to allow barges to move goods and materials across the world.

Long after the Fort Madison of 1808 the city of Fort Madison was settled in 1838 as a river town trading post. The town eventually became reliant upon the railroads and manufacturing.

Pictured above the Steam Locomotive 2913: this 708,000 lb. engine, built in 1944, had been used to haul war equipment in the western states. Engine 2913 was retired October 1955.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (reporting mark ATSF), often abbreviated as Santa Fe, was one of the larger railroads in the United States.

Over 100 freight trains a day still pass through Fort Madison.

Engine #2913 is the A.T. & S.F. Steam Engine 2913 given to the city by the Sante Fe in 1959. Dedicated in 1960 during the 72nd anniversary of the Sante Fe’s first through train to Chicago and Kansas City.

Other Fort Madison attractions include the Sheaffer Pen Museum, Daniel McConn Barn, Memorial for Veterans of the Civil War, Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad Depot, the Albright “Betsy Ross” House, and the Sante Fe Bridge.

I hope your travels will take you through Fort Madison to this charming city with their rich history.

~ Kelly

Pictures By: Thaddeus

Edited By: Yours Truly

Sources for Information:

Wikipedia: Fort Madison, Iowa

Wikipedia: Toll Bridge

Wikipedia: Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway

The Great American Stations

Fort Madison: City Homepage



Edited Field Pictures

Thaddeus was in Iowa this week (pre snow storm of course) and brought me back pictures from Fort Madison. Stay tuned next week for a new blog post on his Iowa travels.

In the meantime I tweaked one of the field report photos in Photoshop over lunch and thought I'd share.



Side by Side

I love field photos of exposed framing ... so cool.

~ Kelly


Art Hanging Inspiration

Over the holidays I was perusing through a gallery in Key West, and the gallery owner asked the standard question, what do you like?

My response: I like a little of everything. I'm eclectic as are my art choices.

His answer: Artwork is a journal. You buy a piece, you snap a photograph, and it helps you remember everything about that time period when you look at it.

Insert epiphany: Why in the world do I have art I've never hung and photographs I've never printed?!

Design Elements Blog

Which leads me to this post … time to hang more art, time to print my photographs, and time to be inspired.

Art is a designer's best friend. It can fill voids, balance rooms, and eliminate the "what's missing?" pause. This is that stop where you go: what's wrong with this room?

The only pause you should be making in any room is a - "Oh, wow."  - pause.

Here's a small sampling of art and photograph groupings I love to create a few - "Oh, wow." - moments of your own.


Entryways are always a neglected area of the home. There's a  - what do I do with this space? - question in most every home. So we often add a floor plant, toss a rug down, maybe a bench and we're done.

Wrong! The entryway should be the teaser to the rest of the house. A little preview of intrigue to come.

Art is a great way to lead you into a room or down a hall. Adding a mirror is a great way to fill a large wall without fighting the focus from the streamlined art on the adjacent wall.

Atlanta Home Magazine

Art doesn't necessarily need to be a framed picture. These stunning red hand hooks and a chunky mirror give a definite - Come hither and see what other surprises this house holds - statement.

Abigail Ahern

Less is More: This busy tiled floor is perfectly complimented by large scale art with white frames. If hanging multiples of 8x10s and 11x14s makes you break out in a cold sweat, opt for a large image that compliments your interior. Be simple and be impactful.

Lori Langille Blog


Black & White Sleek: large white mats and simple black frames unite this grouping. Great use of vertical space by hanging the pictures all the way up the wall.

Otterwerx, Tumblr

Touch of Gold: A beautiful red & gold color grouping that compliments the bedding. Framed art is on the petite size engulfed by the large white mats. This keeps the bedroom feeling serene and calm by minimizing the art subject matter.

Elements of Style

Daybeds can be on the awkward list of furniture to design around. The scale and size of this furniture piece can make a room feel unbalanced. Centered art above the daybed and a grouping on the far wall balances out the monster day bed and keeps the eye traveling across the room.

Design Manifest

Dining Rooms

The most common mistake I see made in hanging or placing art in a dining area is the orientation. Art should be placed or hung at eye level while you are seated, not eye level while you are standing.

Pictured here, art is displayed on the credenza creating a area of visual interested. The oversized light fixture fills the space above the art creating overall balance.    

The Glitter Guide 

How to handle the vertical wall space without changing your light fixture?

Create a large grouping that is oriented to both the seated view and the standing view. Notice the scale of the light fixture is petite allowing the art to be the focal point.

Dust Jacket Attic


Art in Kitchens? But where?

Most of us have every vertical surface of our kitchen covered in cabinets. For those that don't a empty spot can feel a bit off kilter. Something a few pieces of well placed art can resolve.

Gallery Kitchen: This is a little extreme, but can you imagine this space without all this art? A white tunnel stopping at the stove. Yick!

Filling this space with art makes use of the verticality of this room and gives this tiny space a cathedral like quality.

The Pursuit of Aesthetic

Minimal Clutter + Lots of Emphasis - open shelves in a kitchen can look very cluttered very quickly. A box of cereal or a loaf of bread can resulting in a lackluster eye level display.

Keep the function (pretty drinking glasses) and ditch the everyday food packaging (Wonder Bread). Subtle artwork on eye level now makes a pleasing display to view while washing dishes or chopping veggies.

House & Home

I bet these homeowners went where's my cabinet to the right of the window?

Feel like you are missing a cabinet or two? No problem, artwork appropriate to the scale of the cabinets fills the void and eliminates the "what's missing?" pause.

Blessed with sprawling countertops? Fill the not so often used surface space by placing artwork on the countertop. Lovely display.

Habitually Chic

Base Cabinets Only? Fill the vertical with art. Hint: changing the size of the art (as shown: 3 small on the left & 1 large on the right) keeps this focal wall interesting, rather than a one note view that art all in one size would create. Spice it up with variety.

Habitually Chic

More to come on this. I will cover kid's rooms, bathrooms, living rooms, and home office another day. Following that - a post of my "go to" websites for unique artwork.

I hope this got you thinking about what's stored in your attic or pictures sitting in a folder on your desktop. Let those captured moments live on your walls.

Be inspired.

~ Kelly