Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ham and Cheese Pastries

I'm home from Montana, OIT saved my computer and retrieved my presentation.  I have learned my lesson and have backed up everything (and emailed everyone a copy of my presentation...just in case).  I traveled from Helena to Bozeman, to Missoula, to Great Falls and met with prospective teachers at the different colleges and universities.  I felt it was very successful, everyone was friendly and receptive, and we have started plans for visits next year.

(On a side note it was about 85-90 degrees in Montana.  One day I texted my husband the temperature and he texted back "It's snowing at our house."  I keep telling the chick, you just have to embrace the snow, it's coming no matter what.)

My mom lives in Helena and she would travel with me to each of the different locations.  We would visit, carry on, and she would provide directions.  On our way to Bozeman, we stopped at Wheat.  They have a large bakery and we got a little snack.  We had these delicious ham and cheese pastries.  At first we talked about sharing one, boy am I glad we didn't!  They were huge, but we both finished one off.  They were so good we stopped back by on the way home.  Hey, I worked hard and needed a snack to get my strength back.

I was still craving them when I got home so I decided I would make them for dinner.  I used puff pastry, ham and cheddar cheese.  But, you could use any type of filling you wanted. They are so easy to make and hot from the oven, perfect with a cup of soup for Monday night football on a cold Fairbanks evening. (Did I tell you we already have snow?)

I leave for Michigan next week.  any suggestions of where I should stop for a snack?

Ham and Cheese Pastries
1 box puff pastry, I used Pepperidge Farms; it has two sheets in a box
sliced ham lunchmeat, or chopped leftover ham
cheddar, colby jack, or swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Open one sheet of puff pastry, using a rolling pin, roll it a little thinner and remove the fold marks.  Cut into four pieces.

Top each piece with a smear of mustard, cheese and ham.  Fold into a triangle and seal edges well.
If you don't seal edges well the cheese leaks out, and while it is a delicious cheese brittle, the pastry is a little empty!
Repeat with second sheet of puff pastry.  You will have a total of 8 triangle pastries.  Place on parchment covered cookie sheets and bake 20-25 minutes until golden browned.  Remove from oven and let cool before serving, the center remains hot.

1 year ago:   Chocolate cake with Nutella Mousse and a change in luck
2 years ago:  Roasted Tomato Soup for soup and sandwich night

September 30, 2014    Sunrise 7:58 am  Sunset 7:52 pm  Temp. H 40/ L 29°F

Monday, September 22, 2014

Drink of the week


My computer crashed.  It was 11 months old.  What do I do that causes this?  If you remember this is not the first time I have had a computer crash, and you think I would have learned my lesson and back everything up.  But, sadly, no.  I did not learn from past misfortunes.

So, I am leaving for my fall recruiting trips.  I am starting with Montana.  I visit 5 universities in Montana, over the course of a week, and have a 60 minute powerpoint presentation to give.  I've been working on that thing all summer.  Then, 4 days before I leave, my hard drive crashes.

Ask me if I was smart enough to keep a copy of the power point on our shared server....

Ask me if I was smart enough to put a copy of the power point on the USB I had sitting next to my desk...

Ask me if I was smart enough to email a copy of the power point to anyone else in the whole entire world....


And so I am spending the rest of the week recreating the power point.  Luckily, I just practiced in front of my office mates and still had their notes of suggestions to help guide me in the recreation.  And luckily it happened 4 days before I left, not the day before, or (gasp) while I was in Montana!

However, I was not thinking about that on the day of the crash, I was only thinking "Holy buckets, why does this keep happening to me?"

And I went home.

And I had an adult beverage...or two.

So now I've ordered an external hard drive and a time machine for my computer so it will automatically back up my hard drive, and next time it crashes...because history does repeat iteself....at least I will be ready.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pasta with two Peas

This is a good news/bad news post.

So, Dave and the hunting party have already gotten two moose.  That was the goal for this year, they will share between six hunters, so two is plenty of meat for the year.  That's the good news.

The bad news is they haven't even been gone a week and they are headed home.  I'm going to work hard at talking them into going to Valdez to fish for silver salmon before my brother has to go back home...that gives me another week.  We'll see.

So, at 2:30 this afternoon, Dave texted and said they were on their way in.  That means they will pull into the driveway about 7:00 and hungry.  I was not planning on dinner for them today.  Good thing I have a few tricks in the pantry, like this pasta dish.  I could just eat this for dinner, but I'll add some grilled steaks to the menu for the successful hunters.  This is quick, easy, fresh, and delicious, and I have everything on hand!

I really shouldn't complain, we will now have a freezer full of meat to get us through the winter.

Pasta with Two Peas
adapted from Cooking Light, September 2014

8 cups water, really? who measures their pasta water?  Not me
8 oz. uncooked ziti
1 cup frozen green peas
8 oz. sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
2 center cut bacon slices, chopped
1/3 cup panko
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 up chicken stock
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. parmesan cheese, grated

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Add pasta; cook 5 minutes.  Add green peas and sugar snap peas; cook 1 minute more or until pasta is done.  Drain.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium hear.  Add bacon to pan; cook 3 minutes or until bacon begins to brown.  Add panko;  cook 1 1/2 minutes or until browned.

Remove panko mixture from pan.  Add butter to pan; swirl until butter melts.  Add green onions and garlic; cook 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir in stock, salt, and pepper; cook 3 minutes.  Stir in pasta mixture, juice and Parmesan cheese; toss.  Top with panko mixture.  Serves 4.

September 18, 2014  Sunrise 7:22am   Sunset 8:06pm  Temp. H 67/ L 44°F

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pizza Stromboli

The blond boy came home for moose camp.  Dave has been so excited about having him back in camp.  My brother came also, and they already have one moose.  They hope to get a second, they have 6 hunters out there this year.

The blond boy got home Friday morning, and I planned family dinner.  Someone (Dave) was so excited about Tom being here, he posted on Facebook for anyone to stop by to say hi to Tom on Friday evening.  So, while I planned for 8, we had 14 around the table.  Good thing this is easy, I planned to make a lot, and everyone was fed.

It really was so fun to have  everyone around the table.  I do miss the noise, the laughter and the full house.

There are really assembly directions, not really cooking directions.  This used to be a regular on our dinner table when the kids were home.  It is easy, hot, filling, you can keep everything in the pantry or freezer, and it is an inexpensive meal (which was important feeding 5 teenagers with big appetites).

You can use homemade bread, frozen bread dough or the french bread dough that pops out of the can.  I've also used crescent rolls that come from the can.  The blond haired boy requested pizza Stromboli, but I've also used a filling of ham, broccoli, mustard, and cheese or taco filling and added the lettuce once it was out of the oven.  Use what your family likes.

For the blond boy, it was a little taste of childhood.

Pizza Stromboli

Bread dough for one loaf of bread, frozen dough, or french bread dough from a can
8 oz. pizza sauce
8 oz. Italian sausage, crumbled, cooked, drained, and cooled (I use our moose Italian Sausage)
4 oz. pepperoni
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.
On lightly floured surface, roll the bread dough into a rectangle about 12"by 8".  Top with sauce, sausage, pepperoni, and cheese; spreading down the middle.  Fold edges to middle and  pinch seam to seal.  Place bread on greased cookie sheet, seam side down.  Let rise about 15 minutes.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until bread is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool about 15 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve.

I shared this on Homemade Mondays at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity
September 15, 2014   Sunrise 7:13 am  Sunset 8:17 pm   Temp. H 70 /L 45  °F   

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Colonial Bread

It is cold.  We had had a couple of frosts and we are due for our first snow any day now.  The trees are all turning yellow, my garden is put away for the winter, and I am cold.

Dave builds a fire in the evening for me, I come home to a toasty fire and we sit by the fire after dinner and play words with friends with each other from our own cozy chairs!  I often remind him we do have a scrabble board, but he never wants to get it out he would rather play on his phone.  That is one of the silly things we do to make it through the winter.

I like to bake bread in the fall and winter.  It warms up the house with the oven, the house smells delicious, and warm bread is always a nice addition to our meals.  Homemade bread for toast in the morning just can't be beat. So, here is my favorite bread.  I love the combination of corn meal and molasses in a yeast bread. It is great with soup or stew for dinner and it is even better toasted with your eggs in the morning.

I do believe the real name is Anamadama bread.  I don't know where that name came from, but I guess you could google it if you are really interested.  I don't care what it is called as long as it is warm and on my dinner table.

Colonial Bread
adapted from the Dak Bread Book

1/3 cup corn meal
1 1/2 cup boiling water
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
3 1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed
1 Tbsp. or 1 pkg. dry yeast

Mix boiling water and corn meal together in a small bowl, stirring to remove any lumps.  Add molasses, salt and butter.  Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Add 3 cups flour and yeast into a large bowl, I use my Kitchenaid for this.  Pour cooled corn meal mixture into flour and mix, or kneed with a dough hook.  Let mix about 5 minutes.  Remove dough from bowl and kneed, adding more flour as necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic.  Place in oiled bowl and let rise until double in size, 45-60 minutes in a warm spot in your kitchen.
Once risen, punch down, and shape into two equal loafs, place in prepared loaf pans and let rise again, about 35-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°.  Bake bread at for 30-45 minutes until fully browned.

With the holidays coming up; this is a great bread for using as an appetizer base.  Cut bread in small shapes, toast and serve with all kinds of toppings, cheese and artichokes, sliced tenderloin and horseradish, refried beans and salsa....

1 year ago:   Pork Loin and "A Good Try"
2 years ago: Carrot - Walnut Cake

September 10, 2014  Sunrise 6:59 am Sunset 8:35 pm  Temp. H 63/L 44°F

Monday, September 8, 2014

Oreo Truffles

Every once in a while, while sipping a delicious hot cup of coffee with Donna, I say something like..."I might have to kill my husband."

"Don't say that out loud, someone might think you are serious!"  Donna scolds.

"I am serious, do you know what he did this time?" I ask.

"Now it will be pre-meditated murder, and I'm not going to visit you in prison." She states.

Some friend.  She is supposed to come visit, bring me a cake with a file in it so I can hack my way out and escape.  Because, it would all be my husband's fault for making me kill him and I would deserve to escape.

I'm not allowed out much.

Well, this year my husband is not going to Moose Camp until September 13.  Can you believe that?  He is supposed to be gone the entire month and now, he will only be gone for about two weeks.  The blond boy is coming up as well as my brother, so Dave is waiting until they get here to go in.


The only way I am going to make it, and he is going to stay alive is if I drink more and eat more chocolate.  Luckily, my Pinterest boards are full of delicious looking treats I can make and I do love champagne.  So, if I eat enough of these, my husband might just make it through one more year.

Oreo Truffles
from someone on Pinterest

1 bag regular oreos
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed and softened
chocolate for melting, I used Ghirardelli's melting wafers

In your food processor mix cookies until they are evenly crushed and a fine dust.  Add cream cheese and pulse until completely mixed.  Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight, for easier handling.

Once cold and a little firm, roll dough into balls, I used my smallest scoop to measure.  Refrigerate again, or set in freezer for 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate according to package direction (for me that always means in the microwave, but a double boiler works too).  I like to set my bowl of melted chocolate on my heating pad, turned on med-high, covered with a piece of parchment paper to catch drips.  This keeps the chocolate from cooling too much as you add the cold balls. (There has to be a that's what she said joke in here somewhere, but I'm trying to keep it classy.)

Let chocolate harden.  Keep these in the refrigerator since they are made with cream cheese.

1 year ago:  Raspberry Lemon drop and the sacrifices we have to make as a wife.
2 years ago:  Frost and Bean Soup

September 8, 2014   Sunrise 6:53 am  Sunset 8:42 pm  Temp. H 63/ L 37°F

Friday, September 5, 2014

Zucchini Fries

It is that time of year when you can't leave your car doors unlocked, your front porch unattended, or make eye contact with any of your neighbors...yes, it is zucchini season in Fairbanks.  Everyone is putting their yards up for the winter, and zucchini are prolific.  My zucchini didn't do well this year so I'm happy to take any zucchini off your hands for you, no averting eyes or sneaking antics needed.

This is a delicious way to fix zucchini.  It is baked, not fried so it is even healthy!  You could add parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs if you can eat dairy, sadly I have to leave it out right now.
Flour well, then shake off the excess

I have to say that this is one of those recipes that you can really just throw together, so if your amounts are different than mine, no worries about that, I'm just making the recipe up from how I kinda do it.
Dip in beaten eggs
You do want to over season the flour and the bread crumbs, keep in mind you won't use all the flour and bread crumbs and zucchini is pretty bland.

Roll in seasoned bread crumbs, press so they stick.

Spray the zucchini with olive oil so they brown nicely.

Hot from the oven.

Hamburgers, zucchini fries and cauliflower salad; a great dinner after a long day.
Zucchini Fries

2 medium zucchini
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour, or so
1 cup panko bread crumbs, or so
1 Tablespoon garlic and herb seasoning, I used Pampered Chef
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning, again - Pampered Chef
Salt and pepper to taste, more than you think you need
spray cooking oil

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place cookie sheet in oven while it preheats.
Beat eggs with a little water, about 1 tablespoon.  Put in a bowl.
Put flour on a plate, add salt and pepper then add a little more.  You really need  to add extra because you won't use all the flour and so you won't use all the salt and pepper.
Put the panko on a plate.  Mix in the garlic and the Italian seasoning.

Cut zucchini; I cut the ends off, half them, then cut each half in half and then into thirds...make sense?  I get 12 pieces out of each zucchini.  It will depend on the size of your zucchini so do what works for you.
Remove pan from oven.  Generously spray with cooking spray.
Dip zucchini in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, covering completely.  Place on pan, and repeat until all pieces of zucchini are covered.
Spray zucchini with cooking oil.
Bake 15-20 minutes until zucchini is golden brown, and zucchini is still firm but not crunchy.

1 year ago:   Canning Tomatoes
2 years ago:  New Lights

September 5, 2014   Sunrise 6:44 am  Sunset 8:53 pm  Temp. H 55/ L 36°F

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baked Oatmeal

Oh, I love oatmeal.  I eat is almost every day and I never get tired of it.  I tell my husband that is why my cholesterol is so low; he still won't eat it.  I found this on Pinterest and thought it looked delicious.  It is.  I cut it into 8 very generous pieces, it easily could be cut into 12 for kids, and it is a perfect grab and go breakfast.  With school starting, it might help make your mornings a little sweeter and a little smoother.

Ready to go into the oven.

Golden brown deliciousness.

The perfect breakfast.

Baked Oatmeal
adapted from Inspired by life blog

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup walnuts, coarse chop, divided
1 cup strawberries, slicked, divided
1 1/2 cups milk, I use almond milk
4 eggs
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ripe banana, sliced

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Generously butter or spray a 9 x 13" baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix oatmeal,  sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, 1/2 of the walnuts, and 1/2 of the strawberries.
In a medium sized bowl, mix milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour into pan.
Top oatmeal mixture with the rest of the walnuts, strawberries, and the banana.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and the center has set.
Let cool about 10 minutes, cut and serve with yogurt.

Other options: any type berry can be substituted.  I'm thinking blueberries and raspberries at Christmas.  The recipe I found adds 1/2 cup chocolate chips, but I'm not into too sweet in the morning, also you can sprinkle with more brown sugar if you like a sweeter breakfast.

I linked this to Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity, Homemade Mondays

1 year ago:   End of the Garden
2 years ago:  Banana Crunch Muffins

September 2, 2014      Sunrise 6:34 am  Sunset 9:04 pm  Temp. H 52/ L 34°F